2020 Goals

Posted: 9.30.2011 in Goals
  • Write two blog posts per month
  • Read one book per month
  • FaceTime Baker once/week (now that he’s getting older, this is more important and may be easier)
  • Snowboard somewhere new (potential: Swiss Alps, Alpental, Taos Ski Valley)
  • Visit a new national park (Mount Rainier, North Cascades)
  • Climb a new 14er
  • Take an international trip (UAE + Oman are already booked! potential for Europe in March)
  • No more cavities
  • Get better sleep (go to bed earlier, look into supplements, reduce stress)
  • Run 10 miles/week or at least 500 in the year
  • Run another half marathon (Seattle half?)
  • Keep my weight down
  • Take a course to continue my education and/or improve my skillset (e.g. Spanish, content marketing)

Boasting Tillamook and Beecher’s cheeses (plus Dinah’s from Kurtwood Farms) I expected an amazing mac ‘n’ cheese but unfortunately this one fell short.

The serving size was good for sharing across a few people who order entrees. It’s enough for one person as an entree itself, but I wouldn’t recommend it just based on my disappointment and because of the other great stuff on the menu.

It was slightly creamy, slightly gooey but not enough of either. It was a bit grainy, which I’ll attribute to cheddar, which would have been the Tillamook or Beecher’s. I don’t know for sure because the menu didn’t specify and the waitress wasn’t too keen to share the recipe with me (understandably) after I told her I didn’t really like the dish. Cheddar can have great flavor, but it doesn’t melt well and, thus, leads to graininess and poor consistency in mac ‘n’ cheese. The Dinah’s cheese melts gooey, so I’m guessing that contributed the slight gooeyness when combined with the other two cheeses.

The other negative for me was the bland flavor. Sharp, white, aged or smoked cheddar give great flavor to whatever they’re added to, but this cheese sauce was really mild. I’m going to assume, again, that whatever cheddar was used was medium or mild; those lack the flavor of richer cheddars. The Dinah’s cheese is “fatty”, “golden” in color and “full flavored” so I can’t imagine this is the cheese (of the three) responsible for the bland flavor. I almost asked for some salt from the waitress just to give the dish something. (I opted not to, though, and instead ate my other side dish in its entirety and boxed the mac ‘n’ cheese so I could doctor it up at home.)

The mac came in a standard bowl and was topped with breadcrumbs. The top layer of mac and breadcrumbs was slightly crisp, but I’m not sure whether that’s due to sitting under heating lamps or if it was flash baked after putting in the bowl. Regardless, underneath is where the aforementioned slight creaminess and gooeyness was. I definitely found myself digging underneath for bites.

Aannnd after all that, I forgot my mac and cheese leftovers on the table at the restaurant…. doh!

The place: Local 360, Belltown – Seattle
The dish: Mac & Cheese, $16
The ingredients: Kurtwood Farms Dinah’s cheese, Beecher’s cheese, Tillamook cheese, shell pasta, bread crumbs
The verdict: Definitely eat at this great restaurant, just don’t waste your stomach space on the mac ‘n’ cheese.

Anyone who knows me knows my strong feelings about suburbs versus urban city centers. And anyone who knows me also knows that my avoidance of the former (unfortunately most of my close friends in SoCal moved to the burbs with their families) and search for the latter are why I left Santa Monica in November 2017.

The irony is that after leaving my wonderful beach-town life and amazing apartment location in hip, bustling Santa Monica (which was actually quite “urban” within its small bubble), I spent most of the following 13 months in the suburbs.

My mom’s house in the suburbs of Denver was my home base, and I frequently stayed with my sister and her family who live outside the city center (definitely not urban, but hipper and more central than suburbia). What’s more, the majority of my travels in 2018 were domestically to visit friends in their suburban locales. From the suburbs of Long Beach and Orange County to Saint Louis and Austin to Canada’s Ottawa, my friends who have opted for suburban lifestyles are plentiful. I enjoyed the time with my friends, which was the point of each trip – not to sightsee in their sprawling, cookie-cutter, commercial landscapes – and I’m incredibly happy for the beautiful families and lives they have built. But by the end of each trip (often earlier), I definitely had my fill of the burbs.

While visiting these suburban friends often meant my own guest room in their often larger homes, it also meant:

  • little offerings/activities/resources within walking distance
  • no accessible coffee shops for me to work at
  • no bars or restaurants to walk to at night
  • so basically we had to drive everywhere
  • anything within walking distance was a commercial chain
  • access to public transit or Lyft/Uber was limited and expensive

Sure, I could go for a run without being held up by traffic or myriad stoplights, without having to dart through crowds or around homeless people, and without breathing in smells from overflowing dumpsters, streets of ethnic restaurants or exhaust in high volumes. But I otherwise felt pretty isolated and bored.

These trips helped confirm why I do not want to live in the suburbs, but it also got me thinking about why someone would.

After World War II, people – read: white folk, educated and higher-income earners, and families – flocked to the suburbs in search of space, something new and locales where only the privileged could access. City centers became neglected, while suburbs flourished.

But “as money, education, political influence and emotional connections moved away from urban centers into the suburbs, we created a culture of cars and sprawl with the attendant problems,” explains author Peter Kageyama in his book For the Love of Cities. “We lost a strong sense of civic identity as our suburbs became generic at best, shockingly dull and ugly at their worst. We created vast places not worth caring about.”

He continues: “Sprawling developments that require cars to maneuver reduce our connections to each other, and we make it so much harder to care about anything beyond our front door. Our car has become a prophylactic that prevents us from connecting with our places.”

Meanwhile, “in dense, walkable urban areas, the public realm was more important if for no other reason than the citizens were more connected to it. Public space means very little when you are in your car at 45 mph. It means far more when you are walking through it.”

It was only a coincidence that the book I was reading last year touched on the concept and expansion of suburbs. While things are very different than post-war America, I understand how the suburbs developed and why they may work better for families or people who “need” more space and material things.

Before I left California, I had a mild debate with one of my girl friends about suburbs versus urban city centers, and she was adamant that families (i.e. adults with kids) could not live in the latter. Of course, I challenged that notion: the 1.67 million people living in Manhattan are not all single folk or couples without children. Same goes for all major cities around the world. Whether by necessity or choice, many families live in the “downtowns” of big cities, and they make it work. Heck, I’d wager that many of them enjoy it. Sure, getting groceries for a household of four may not be the easiest, pushing a stroller onto a crowded subway may be annoying and forgoing a backyard to play in isn’t ideal. But having a family in the city is not impossible and, thus, an eventual move to the burbs is by no means necessary let alone destined.

But at this juncture in my life, one where the energy of a bustling city excites me, my belongings are minimal (by choice), and I prefer to have quick access to resources without dependence on a car, the suburbs won’t cut it. Urban city centers have retail stores, restaurants, coffee shops, bars, banks, parks, entertainment and various services at every corner. I can walk, bike or bus to all of them. Meanwhile, my car can stay put, which means less money spent on gas and a smaller carbon imprint on the environment. (Note: I understand that parking is not free in most city centers; fortunately I live in a part of urban Seattle that street parking is free and easy to find close by.)

In fact, I currently work for two families in urban Seattle who don’t even own cars. They always have a kitchen stocked with food, we venture to the Children’s Museum by bus, and we play outside at one of the many nearby parks or the communal rooftop instead of a backyard.

Unfortunately, those aforementioned friends who flocked to the burbs with their expanding families become harder and harder to see given their physical distance from me and their thinner capacities as family members and responsibilities expand in tandem. They rarely come into the city and I don’t have a strong desire to take a road trip to the burbs. Hence, another reason I decided to leave SoCal.

So, after more than enough time in suburban Denver, I finally made my move to the urban city I had decided on and the urban lifestyle I had been dreaming of. Even though my neighborhood in Seattle is almost a mirror image of my beloved neighborhood in Santa Monica, downtown is only a 20-minute walk or a 5-minute bus ride. I have a multitude of shops, restaurants, parks and other resources within close proximity. I bus, bike or walk everywhere, so my car stays parked most days (except for day hikes and road trips). And I’m connecting with and seeing way more of my city than anyone who is buckled behind a glass window going 60 mph down the highway.

Day 63: Considering it’s been two weeks since I’ve written, you’d think that I’m off doing exciting things. That’s only partly true; I’ve just also been really busy with a freelance project that was due last week and consistent nannying gigs. A few notable items from the past two weeks: I joined a flag football league that plays every Saturday near my house, I got back into the dating scene (via Bumble) and went on a few dates, and I took a little two-day road trip over to the Olympic Peninsula, where I stayed in a cute little Victorian beach town and then explored a sliver of Olympic National Park.

Today is Easter, and my roommate hosted brunch. I ended up making my favorite quiche and inviting my old coworker who lives in Bellevue – my first visitor to the apartment! It was a nice time with six of us and lots of yummy food. I’d given up sweets for Lent, so I was happy to have some of the macarons my friend brought. Afterward, a few of us went to a local brewery and sat outside in the sunshine. I spent the evening watching Netflix and building my nightstand. That’s also something notable from the past two weeks: I finally got bedroom furniture!

Day 64: I got a last-minute babysitting job for today, so I was there from 12-5 pm. Despite the boy being a bit bratty and super undeveloped for a 3 year old, it was an easy enough job. I did some freelance work during his 2.25-hour nap. I got my Global Coffee Report assignments for the Jul/Aug issue, so that work starts up again. I was supposed to have a date with a new guy tonight, but he forgot about some prior commitments so we rescheduled to tomorrow. So instead I got in a good workout running to and from a gym sesh. Then easy dinner and more Netflix while assembling bedroom furniture.

Day 65: Conference call to finish up a freelance project and then most of the day spent assembling my dresser. Man did it take forever! Then a quick run in the nice weather before I had to head out the door for a Bumble date. I met him at a pub in Capitol Hill for trivia, which was a great idea. We had a lot of fun despite coming in very last – worst team earned a Rainier tallboy though! He’s nice, but not sure I see a future with him…

Day 66: Today was a long day of work. Six hours with the boy I normally watch on Tuesdays; another day of sunshine so we walked to the park. After I stopped in my gym nearby for a quick workout and shower, and then caught the bus to a second nannying job for the evening. I was planning on bussing home, but I was tired and didn’t feel like messing with it. This family, which books me weekly, is just a bit too far to make the bus work.

Day 67: Six hours with my normal Thursday boy. We walked to the animal shelter that afternoon because the sun was out, but it got really windy on the way back. His mom encourages me to take him out, so I’m looking forward to get out and about the city with him. I was supposed to have a second date with a Bumble guy from last week, but he forgot about plans with his brother. I was actually happy to have the evening free; I went for a long-ish run around Queen Anne and then ate dinner in front of Netflix. I’ve been binging on the new American Crime Story while building my bedroom furniture.

Day 68: I left my schedule open today so I could assemble the last piece of bedroom furniture and get my room situated. The bed frame and headboard ended up being the easiest of all the furniture to put together. I really like the wood color, but unfortunately it doesn’t match my nightstand and dresser. Doh! Nothing I can do now that everything is assembled… I set up my room, unpacked the rest of my boxes and rearranged my closet. The last thing I have to do is hang up my artwork and decor. I’m excited to be so close to settled into my apartment. I going to hit the gym but the weather was so nice, I went for a run down to Olympic Sculpture park and made up a workout there in the sunshine with a beautiful view of the Sound. Afterward, I caught the bus over to Capitol Hill for a late one-off babysitting job. Again, I didn’t end up messing with the bus after finishing super late, so I ordered a Lyft.

Day 69: I slept late today and then lounged around before doing some chores and getting ready for football. The team we played ended up using subs from the team that beat us last week, which didn’t seem fair. Needless to say we lost, though only by four points after a strong second half. I made two catches, but one was out of bounds in the end zone. Oops! The weather was beautiful before and during the came, but once we finished a storm rolled in and it started raining. I ducked into the grocery store for some much-needed groceries, and the sun was back out on my walk home. While I was in the grocery store, I guess the storm brought some strong winds with it that knocked over a crane on top of a new building in Google’s South Lake Union campus, and it came crashing down onto cars below. Four people died! It made international news and the streets are all closed off down there. I first learned of it simply because I was trying to drive through there on my way to a nannying job in Montlake (the weekly family that lives ever-so-slightly out of the city). I ended up having to drive really far out of the way and showed up late to work, but then later looked online to see what happened. Such a tragic incident!

Seattle: Week 7

Posted: 9.30.2011 in A day in the life...

Day 43: Soooo I missed a week of blogging cuz I was deep in magazine deadlines. Mostly met my deadlines, and even got a day of snowboarding in. Today was a looong day watching two energetic toddlers while their parents packed up a moving truck. Fortunately the weather was really nice so we could walk to the park and play in the backyard. The 2yo tripped and busted open his lip at the park, but otherwise it went fine. Afterward I had to unload my storage unit. Then found a cute restaurant in Capitol Hill to finish my LAST assignment and eat an early dinner.

Day 44: Nothing exciting today. Freelance call and work, unpacking, F45, dinner at home.

Day 45: Another nice day, so walked to KEXP to work. Because my apartment is sufficient for working and feels so far from everywhere I want to go, I haven’t been going there much. I originally thought I’d be there several days a week… took a conference call, which ended up being difficult because of the noice, and did some freelance work before heading to F45 for the last class of my trial. I really like the variety and the format of circuit training; wish it wasn’t so expensive.

Day 46: Today was a nice day, but also another long one. Work and errand in the morning, three-hour gig midday, then caught the bus downtown for the first of four gigs with a little girl who’s mom is in town from NYC for a conference. She’d booked me in advance for these days to entertain her kiddo during the trip. This first gig was a few hours in the evening with the three of us so her daughter could get used to me. Unfortunately she was exhausted and being super bratty. I hope this isn’t an indication of the days to come…

Day 47: Although Charlotte wasn’t happy when her mom left, I quickly got her distracted and we headed to the park since it was nice out (again!). She fell asleep in the stroller on the way, which made the next couple hours relaxing in the sun very nice. Playtime at the park, then dinner at home before mom returned.

Day 48: The rain started today, so I had to get creative with what to do with Charlotte. Once again she fell asleep in the stroller, so I hung out at KEXP for awhile. We spent the afternoon at the Children’s Museum, which is quite lame compared to Denver’s, and then caught the monorail back to their AirBnb. Venturing around the city with a kid in a stroller while it’s raining wasn’t so bad.

Day 49: More rain, but with rain gear, snacks and pull-ups in tow, we made the trek to the aquarium. Charlotte loooved it, so we easily filled up a few hours there. Afterward we ventured in the rain to Yardhouse for lunch, and then she fell asleep in the stroller on the way back. So I shopped and ran some errands to keep her napping as long as possible before we returned to the AirBnB just in time for her mom to return that afternoon. After three days of lugging the threenager and our gear around the city in the rain, I had a much greater appreciation for urban parents. It wasn’t unmanageable, though, and I didn’t mind it at all. In the afternoon, I headed over to the Seattle Center to watch the end of a flag football game in a league I joined. It was a last-minute sign-up as a way to meet people. I’m excited, but nervous because I haven’t played in awhile. Everyone was super nice and welcoming. Our next game is next Saturday.

Seattle: Week 5

Posted: 9.30.2011 in A day in the life...

Day 29: Got up early to run in Seattle’s 35th annual St. Patrick’s Day Dash. I guess it’s the first fun run to ever run the Seattle viaduct — the one I ran on in January before they started tearing it down. Unfortunately I didn’t bring money or an ID with me, so I couldn’t take part in the St. Patty’s Day festivities in the 21+ beer garden. Boo! The run start/finish were right down the street from my apartment, but man it sure felt far on the walk home… Spent midday deep cleaning the kitchen. I chickened out and never asked my roommate to help deep clean the apartment, so it filled up my day. Will have to tackle the bathroom another day ‘cuz I had to get a little freelance work in before walking to North Queen Anne for a babysitting gig, which ended up being an annoying four hours because the kids didn’t listen very well and their house is a mess.

Day 30: Up early and drove East of the city for a short morning childcare gig. Afterward I drove to Lexus of Bellevue, since there aren’t any in the city, for my biannual maintenance and to finally get my scratch buffed out. No luck on the latter and a super expensive service; on the bright side, I got a lot done working on their complimentary computers in the waiting room. Quick workout at the local 24 Hour Fitness before heading back into the city. Stopped in Capitol Hill to meet my “mentor” – that gal who’s trying to recruit me for her secret business club that I still have yet to understand. I ordered dinner while I waited, just for her to come in for 15 minutes, ask me about the book she made me read, tell me I progressed to the “next stage” and then peace out. Man, what a freakin’ waste of time. The weather was so nice today, but unfortunately I was stuck inside with my packed itinerary. Supposed to be in the 70s all week, so will have to take advantage!

Day 31: Typical Tuesday, or what seems to be my typical Tuesday in the short time I’ve been here… Full day with little Evan, gym, Whole Foods, home. The weather was really nice again, so I walked Evan and his dog Watson to the park. Opted to walk home from Whole Foods rather than bus since it’s so nice out. It’s about 25 minutes, but the hill is what gets ya.

Day 32: Few morning interview calls with Global Coffee Report and then other work throughout the day. Went for a long run in the warm weather this afternoon up the Elliott Bay Trail, which I hadn’t visited in a week or so. Turns out yesterday and today were record-breaking temps for Seattle, both historically and compared to other cities across the country. It has felt like summer! I got back from running at about 7 pm and made the game-time decision to go see Foals at the Paramount theater, so showered and ate a quick dinner before catching the bus down the street. It would have been about a 35 minute walk, which is doable, but the bus was literally a 5 minute walk and 5 minute ride. I was able to use my transfer slip for the ride back after the show. Unfortunately I wasn’t paying attention and missed my stop by a long-shot. I ended up in North Seattle and had to wait for a bus coming back the other way at midnight. The show was good but not as much as expected unfortunately. The theater is incredible inside, though.

Day 33: The temperature dropped overnight, so there was a bit of a chill in the air today – still sunny, though. I spent most of today nannying a new little boy who I’m hoping will turn into a regular Thurs gig. I hear I’m up against another gal… Stopped at Storyville Coffee in my neighborhood on the way home before signing up at F45 Training in Queen Anne. I took some classes in Denver, so am using the two-week trial here just to mix up my workout. Shower, dinner and work back at home.

Day 34: Was expecting to wake up to rain since it was in the forecast, but another day of sun! Took a conference call at 8 am and then walked to Storyville again to work some more before my 12 pm F45 class. Tonight I watched a couple kiddos in North Seattle. I’m being very particular about the jobs I take that require me to drive; here and there it’s not so bad as I get a hang of the city.

Day 35: Up and out the door for an 11 am F45 class, then an afternoon gig across town. Drive down to West Seattle after for a free performance by Citizen Cope at Eastside Records. It was short and standing room only on the sidewalk, but still neat. Took the opportunity to hang out while I was down there. Walked around in the sunshine and ate at a local brewery. Thinking about snowboarding tomorrow, but I have tons of writing to do and only one week left…

Seattle: Week 4

Posted: 9.30.2011 in A day in the life...

Day 22: I flew in late last night and spend the first night in my new apartment. My roommate Laura had borrowed an air mattress from her friend and pumped it up in my room for me – beats a hard floor or camping mat. Woke up to sunshine and beautiful views from our apartment balcony. I lazed about inside, got to know my roommate better and did some freelance work. Laura invited me to a firefighter charity event, so I went for a run and swung by the bar it was hosted at. I ended up having so much fun that I stayed out with her super late – mostly because I met a cute boy and we were dancing the night away to a fun cover band 🙂

Day 23: Less sunny today, but not too gloomy and no rain for most of the day. It started raining lightly at about 6 pm. Worked a bit and then met the firefighter for brunch (!) before he hit the road. Too bad he lives in Montana… Grocery shopped and then organized the kitchen a bit. It’s in dire need of a deep clean, so will propose that to my roommate this weekend. I hoped to pick some of my stuff up at the storage unit, but there was a hangup at the gym and I ran out of time. I had a babysitting gig at 6 pm; two well-behaved little kiddos.

Day 24: Gloom this morning and then lots of rain midday, but the sun ended up coming out in the afternoon. Babysat my little buddy Evan (from before I left Seattle in Feb). His mom wants me every Tues until they move in June. I had an interview with another family after, then gym, Whole Foods and bus home. I’m finding the long, steep walk back to my apartment is less than ideal. I fear my place is a bit too far from the places I want to go 😦

Day 25: Another sunny, rain-free day. Freelance work in the morning and then an in-person interview with another family. They live in West Seattle, and at first I was open to the opportunity just to get myself established and make some money in the short term, but I don’t think I want to make the regular drive out there after all. It’s only 5 miles away, but it’s not walking distance and a bit too inconvenient by public transit (plus they need me to transport the kiddos). I moved to Seattle to be in an urban city and refrain from using my car, so I need to actually stick with that… Attempted to go for a run in the green belt near their house, but it was too muddy from the rain the day before. Picked up a bunch of stuff from my storage unit, so looking forward to getting slowly set up in my apartment.

Day 26: More sunshine! Annoyingly distracted and unproductive morning, but got through a couple calls for freelance work midday. Went for a better run down to the Elliot Bay Trail and then wound back up into Queen Anne toward Trader Joes. It’s walking distance to my house, which is nice. Stocked up on more groceries and walked home.

Day 27: Suuuper early conference call with my branding agency gig. T a bit more freelance work after before walking down the street for a babysitting gig. The family’s apartment is tiny and the mom was home working, literally 5 feet away, so Taylor and I went for a nice long stroll around Queen Anne. Another beautiful day! Afterward I explored the stairs near my apartment, looking for a lengthy set that I could exercise on that compared to my fave Santa Monica stairs. Ended up along the trail on Lake Union (in Westlake) and explored up to the Fremont bridge. Didn’t realize Fremont was so close, tho might be a far walk. Happy to find another trail to run on!

Day 28: Babysitting gig in North Seattle — another one I agreed to even though it’s decently far (i.e. had to drive). I had planned a big Target run, though, and they’re in the same area, so it worked out. Spent the day playing with 8-year-old Cameron: Uno, badminton, puzzle, walk, board games. Quite the change from the typical babies I’m watching. Then had a big afternoon at Target stocking up on cleaning supplies and things I needed for my place. Two hours and $200+ hours later… Yikes! I hit a wall on the drive home, so decided not to go to karaoke with my roommate that night. Dinner, little freelance work and then bed.