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    Tuesday, January 26, 2016

    Office Bento - Lunch Happy

    Pretty high up on the list of my favorite things is a beautifully prepared lunch box. I know that after a rough and frantic morning nothing helps perk up my attitude and also my energy more than a pretty and delicious lunch. It's like saying, "I love you," to your future-self.

    Now, that doesn't mean I have the time for fancy hand-painted scenes of rice cats playing in fields of grass-shaped seaweed spotted with flower-shaped carrots. I like to get my lunches packed on Sunday in one hour. But I think using one hour to prep 3-4 good meals that will give me energy and make me feel good and keep me on my weight management track is totally worth the time.

    I use the Sistema Klip-it boxes, cupcake holders (both plastic and paper), and the little plastic sushi grass dividers you can get from the dollar store. For sauces and salad dressings I use the Sistema 35ml sauce containers. You can get the Sistema products online, at The Container Store, or Goodwill (it you are lucky).
    Turkey sandwich, pasta salad, hard boiled egg, cherries, blueberries and sliced strawberries
    I usually fit enough food for the whole day in one of these boxes. In the above example it would be hard boiled egg and fruit mix for breakfast, pasta salad for elevenzies, and the sandwich and cherries for lunch.

    Turkey sandwich, lemon wafers, pea crisps, cherries, blueberries and sliced strawberries
    Next day is similar with the sandwich and fruit, but I added some lemon wafers and pea snap crisps. Sistema sets are good for dry foods - not so good for wet foods - so make sure to drain the fruit! Also, either leave your sandwiches dry or watch Alton Brown's, "How to make a sandwich," show and follow his guidance.

    Salad with leftover chicken, cherries, chocolate bunnies, celery and carrot sticks, hummus
    Next day, skip the sandwich :-) Just like with the sandwich - leave the salad dry. That little bottle to the right? That's dressing and I put it right in with the salad for storage and then take it out for lunch. Those bottles are awesome 'cause the lid comes off and it it easy to clean out with your finger and soap. I've been through a lot of little squeeze bottles and these are so far my favorites. They aren't perfect - the tiny lid has a little plastic attachment and it can snap off pretty easily. But, all things considered, they are easy to clean, hold a fair amount, and colorfully happy looking.

    Vegetarian spring roll, mochi with azuki beans, grapes, rice cake
    Great use for plastic cupcake holder = dipping sauce!

    Trader Joes chili chicken lime burger sandwich, carrot sticks, Popwise popcorn, pea crisps, grapes, cherries
    Okay - my sandwich got a little squashed on this one, but it was still perfectly tasty! This one I used up the last of the pea crisps, the last of the cherries, and basically finished up the week of awesome lunches.

    I go through waves - sometimes sandwiches, sometimes salads, sometimes leftovers - depending on what groceries I've picked up. I always try to make sure to have fruits and veggies in every lunch and again, this is a whole day's food - don't try to eat an entire Sistema box all at one sitting - they hold a lot of food!

    I have some other types of lunch boxes - ones I picked up in Japan, ones I've found at cute shops, and ones I've stumbled upon in the back of the most remote and odd thrift store. My go-to kit though is a Sistema box, cupcake holders and sushi grass for flexible dividers, cute reusable toothpicks from the Japanese dollar store, and sauce holders.

    I'd like to get a fabric placemat or napkin I could put on my desk like a little table cloth, but that's the only thing I think that's missing. Unless you have any other ideas?

Monday, January 25, 2016

Centennial Park

Today was a rare, sunny winter day. D and I took the opportunity to visit one of my favorite parks in Seattle - Centennial Park in the Interbay District. I like it because it is less crowded than many of the other parks, it is a wheelchair accessible with clean elevators and smooth paved walking paths, and it has some spectacular views of the city.

The overall vibe is relaxed and unimposing, even though the layout and planning have been well executed. The paths are separated into a biking and walking sections with frequent benches scattered along to encourage folks to take a break and relax. You can go all the way down towards the Olympic Sculpture Park or take a seat and watch the huge transport cargo ships fill with grain at the train terminal. There is also a rose garden - though, it doesn't look like much in the winter. But, when summer comes around it will be a lovely scent-filled garden.

For now, the crisp winter air and busy grain terminal are entertaining and fun for a Sunday walk.
Helix Bridge

View of the trains from the Helix Bridge

View of the trains heading in to the city center (and Space Needle) from the Helix Bridge

Entrance to the park

Grain Silos

Grain movers filling a HUGE transport boat

View of the city - bike path on the left, walking path on the right by the water

Panorama of the pier - click for full size! 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Rainy Day at Greenlake Park

Today was another rainy day in Seattle so I went for a walk around Greenlake Park and had fun duck spotting. I saw mallards, seagulls, a comerant, and also a bunch of mud hens, which I've never seen here before, and they have crazy dinosaur feet!

Some folks have asked about how I deal with so many rainy days without getting depressed. It isn't so much that I don't recognize the repetition of dark clouded days, but rather that I can switch my focus from the big picture of darkness to the tiny, colorful, and bright pockets. It's similar to looking at the night sky. The stars are always there - always shining and beautiful, but we can't see them during the day. We need the darkness to better appreciate their light. Without the darkness, we are blind to the light shining all around us.

Like anything - if you have too much of it you get desensitized to its beauty. Too much food and you can't taste anything, too much pain and you forget life without it, too much light and you never see the stars. Too much is different for everyone. What is too much for me may be just getting started for you. For example, running 4 miles is too much for me, but I know people you habitually run 7 a day. But if you asked me if the weather here breeds depression - well, for some folks it does. Honestly, it can be too much for many folks here and they can get pretty down. But, maybe because I'm from a northern climate, for me it doesn't. I haven't had too much. In fact, I quite like it! :-)

So don't see the grey skies and get depressed. Look closer and see the neon green lichen, the bold white patterns of the American Coot (or mud hen), the rainbow in the hot cocoa, the gold of last year's reeds, the emerald of new vegetation. Yes, the sky is grey. But that's just the backdrop! It makes the stars visible. It makes the little pops of color and laughter and brightness ever more valuable, and this place wouldn't be the Emerald City without it.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Going to Mexico - Don't Drink the Water!

I'm not sure where or when it happened, but I must have let some water pass my lips in Mexico.
I spent the first couple of days having a great time swimming and snorkeling, and the rest of my time curled up in the condo watching B-movies and wishing I could be swimming and snorkeling. Ugh.

The Good

Packing - Packed light and everything fit in my gym-duffle with room to spare!
I nixed the blue dress in favor of an tunic tank. I did buy a swimsuit. Not so much because I needed another swimsuit, but because it was simply fun...and functional - it is a bikini and t-shirt set so I can switch from lounging bikini to snorkeling safe t-shirt easily and still look stylin'.

Security - It was hilariously easy to get through security - slip on shoes, no metal, liquids all in one bag, all that good stuff. Security was on point though - we were interviewed, I had my hands swabbed, there were sniffing dogs, the lady in front of us was pulled aside for some metal. Security was working their job - but our pass through it was easy due to preparation.

Airplane Snacks - The flight was well prepared for - we had lots of snacks and I'd made a big sandwich to share.

Company - I had amazing company. Our hosts were lovely, funny, awesome like always.

The Beach - Soft sand, smooth waves, warm breeze - absolutely lovely. The slope out to the water was so gentle and soft. Very different compared to the rocky beaches and steep drops of Maine, NH, and Mass. The water itself was refreshing and I think I've bathed at home in colder water. It made me a little nervous though - water that warm just doesn't seem like the sea. It felt like trespassing into some sort of postcard. Lovely, but also somewhat alien. A different reality. Perfect for vacation!

Underwater - Fish! Lots and lots of fish! I found an eel, a goby, and so many more. I'll save them for the next post :-)

The Bad

Heat + Humidity - I'm a cold weather person. Some people love and thrive in hot and humid climates - but I am not a tropical person. Give me the cold. Give me vast ice heaves, pine forests, tundral plains, roaring fires, and hot cocoa. 

Mexican Mattresses - We stayed overnight at two different locations and both places had exceptionally hard mattresses. I suppose it gave us more reason to get up and get out of bed in the morning!

What is the price? - Bartering can be fun. The haggle, the walk out, the posturing - yeah, that's fun sometimes. Unfortunatly, the novelty wears off fast. You can barter or bribe your way through most things in the main market. But because of that - the prices are hilariously high, there is an aggressive atmosphere, and you have to do it for everything. Seriously, give me a fair price and I'll pay it. Fair. Not crazy.

I'm still recovering and sorting through the pictures taken before I fell ill.

Photo bomb post coming soon!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

What's in my travel makeup bag?

Travel time!

These are my go-to items for trips - be they weekend jaunts or week long vacations, I try to keep it minimal. I usually break up the liquids from the solids and put them in a plastic baggie which is handy for airport security and protects my bag / minimizes damage in the event that the liquid under pressure leaks or explodes.

1. Dr Bronners Peppermint Soap - I use this stuff for everything. Body wash? Yep. Washing socks? Yep. Makeup remover? Yep!! Before the flight I'll fold 2 or 3 paper towels in four and stuff them into a plastic bag with some water and a few drops of this stuff. They make great hand wipes and it feels so refreshing on the plane to just lean back and drape one over your face and eyes for a bit.

2. Skinceuticals UV Defense SPF 50, Tinted - weightless, non greasy, matte, tinted SPF that lasts. I wear this most days and have smaller travel sized / sample sized ones I use for trips.

3. Benefit, They're Real Mascara - This is great mascara! It doesn't smudge, run, or dry out my lashes and the small .14oz size is perfect for my make up case.

4. Burt's Bees Tinted Lip Balm - I wear the Hibiscus, but there are lots of other great colors as well.

5. Sephora : N.69 - Desert Dune - This is a great brightening eyeshadow. I actually line my tear bags (google it if you don't know) with it and it brightens up my eyes like no other.

6. Tiny Hair Claws - Handy for hair, or gripping headphone cables to your shirt, or...well, hair mostly.

7. Aveeno Natural Protection SPF 50 - Let's face it, I'm pale. I don't tan, I just burn. If I go outside without protection I end up looking like a blistered lobster. It hurts! So, to protect my skin - and the eyes of those around me - I use SPF 50. I like the Aveeno because it feels less greasy, but if I'm going in the water I'll switch to Banana Boat.

8. Benefit, They're Real Push Up Liner - Another item from Benefit. They have been a good brand for my skin temperament and tone. This liner is easy to use since the bottom just twists the liner through a very narrow silicon sleeve. You have to clean the sleeve, by wiping it off so there's no build up, but that's much easier than remembering to bring your pencil sharpener.

9. L'Oreal True Match Crayon Concealer - This is great for under eye circles or spots. The pencil is easy to clean and the coverage on my skin is true to the color on the product.

10. Clean & Clear Advantage Spot Treatment - Works. Does what it says it will do. After the stress of flying, strange foods, different climate, and whatever else comes my way - I'd rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

11. Bandaids - Another item I'd rather have and not need than need and not have. I'm accident prone.

12. Hair Ties - I make my own from old tights. They are stretchy and never snag my hair. Just roll out your tights, cut off the bottom and top so you have two long cylinders, and then cut the cylinders about every two inches. The 2" strips will roll into bands and BOOM hair bands!

13. Armani Si Perfume - Personal choice. Having a little something that make me feel like a luxurious jet-setting rock star makes me happy and can put pep in my step after that 8 hour flight. I also like the solid perfume from Lush. I use their Gorilla Rose, but for hotter weather I'm sticking with the water tight bottle of Si.

14. Wooden Comb - I don't use shampoo or conditioner (see older posts) so I can save that shampoo and conditioner room for my comb and hair ties. I'll treat my hair to a good brush and maybe a vinegar rinse before the trip and then not worry about it the rest of the time. Beach waves here I come!

15. Advil - Plane flights are very hard for me. Advil and lots of water make it slightly more tolerable. Slightly.

16. Plastic Baggies - I use clear pencil cases or reuse Ziploc baggies with the big zipper on them since they are easier to open. See #1 and the opening paragraph for some awesome uses - others include - dirty laundry, swimsuit storage, jewelry storage, and holding shells found on the beach.

17. Sunglasses - I get my sunglasses through Zenni. I am a huge fan of Zenni optical and have started a glasses collection thanks to them. Check out my bathroom tour if you don't believe me. They have their own wall storage!