The Graduate

She’s a high school graduate now. And she nailed her salutatorian speech (like a boss). I couldn’t have been more proud of her. Love you Jess!

Aside from graduation festivities, I spent time with my other lovely sisters Rebecca and Jaime, baked with my mom, met my dad for breakfast and hung out with my best friend. A very short but successful trip, I’d say.

I’m looking forward to coming back at the end of August for Katie’s wedding and to have time to see the rest of my family. Fingers crossed that there is more sunshine next time.



Thursday in Seattle

*Disclaimer- I didn’t take any photos the whole time I was in Washington. So to keep things interesting, I borrowed some related photos to add to this post. I hope it works; if you make it to the end of this kinda-long post, you get a prize.

I started my trip home late on Wednesday, leaving Hartford at 6pm and arriving in Seattle around 12:30am. Derek picked me up from the airport and we stayed with Doug and Mego that night. I had slept some on the plane, so I wasn’t completely exhausted. But it was late and Derek and I had plans in the morning, so we all went to bed shortly after I arrived.

Thursday morning I woke up an hour before the alarm was set to go off (apparently my internal clock was still set to East Coast). That gave me plenty of time to shower, get ready and check my usual spots on the internet before waking Derek and leaving for a breakfast date with his mom. Our plan was to meet her in Kirkland at 10:30 but due to some navigational problems, we didn’t all meet up until after 11. The conversation was nice and the food was delicious (note to self: make banana pancakes at home). We were able to chat for about an hour and half before D and I had to leave.

I didn't take this photo but it's from the same cafe. Giant pecan banana pancake goodness.

We drove straight from that filling breakfast to lunch with Dad, Heather and Ryan. Derek was a coward and didn’t even try to eat another meal but I was actually excited about eating at Zoopa again—I hadn’t been since I was a little kid—and I didn’t want to be rude to my dad by asking him to meet for lunch and then not even eat. So, I had a delicious salad and the five of us caught up.

And then it was on to my Aunty Shelley’s house for a visit with Uncle Rick, Phillip, Tiffaney, Hailey and, later, Aunty.

Hailey is so frickin big and smart and gorgeous. I was worried that she wouldn’t feel comfortable around me since I’d only seen her a handful of times, but it didn’t take long before we were playing together. She must have known that I’m a Minnie Mouse fan too. Oh I love her so much and it was nice to see everyone else too, even though my visit was so short.

Finally, we ended the night in Rainier at my mom’s.

I just realized that I saw every immediate family member still in Washington all in one day—that might be a record. I know my mom fed us when we got home but I can’t remember what it was. I know there was wine. I was so good to hug my mom and my little sisters. Even though two of them are taller than me, they will always be little in my mind.

We turned in early that night (it was a busy day and I still wasn’t adjusted to the time difference yet). The next morning I helped Jessie plan her trip to East for college visits, sat outside and chatted with my mom and, eventually, met with Rebecca and Christina for dinner. But I’ll tell you more about that in the next post—this one is already a little long.

Back to Blogging

So… you may have noticed the lack of updates over the last month. The extended absence is part laziness and part lack of inspiration. And I also thought that nobody read what I wrote. But you’ve convinced me. During my trip home several friends and family members pointed out that I haven’t been writing and Doug even told me I was good writer (which is an extra nice compliment coming from a grammar critic and former journalism student). I will try to do better.

I’m back to work today after six days off. My way-too-short Seattle visit was wonderful and full of everything good. I’ll be writing up stories of things I want to remember over the next few days. Expect to see the trip fully documented by the end of the weekend. Thank you to everyone who made time to see me; I miss and love you all so much.


Baby It’s Cold Outside

It’s so much colder here than winter in Washington! I think I want to stay unemployed until April so that I don’t have to leave the house. Well, not really. But it’s THAT cold. I knew it would be colder, but I guess I didn’t realize what that would feel like. I was not prepared.

It’s been awhile since I wrote- partially because I didn’t feel like I had anything to report, partially because I just wasn’t feeling the blog. All that’s irrelevant though because I’m back now.

So we have two weeks until Christmas!! Let me remind you how much I love Christmas- the decorations, the festivities, the baking, the shopping and gift wrapping. And most of all, How the Grinch Stole Christmas– cartoon-style. Best. Christmas. Movie. Ever. Sadly, I haven’t watched it yet this year, but I will. Probably several times in one day.

Aunty Sharon has been doing a fabulous job of indulging my Christmas spirit. The Sunday after Thanksgiving, we stood outside in the below-freezing cold and watched the annual Putnam Light Parade. It was cute. A little more parade-like than the Rainier Round-Up Days I grew up with, but only a little bit more. Many of the floats where just utility trucks from local businesses dressed in lights, but it was fun.

Last weekend we saw A Christmas Carol at the local playhouse. It was well done. Shorter than I expected (about an hour) but festive and entertaining.

This weekend we’ll be decorating the tree Bryan and I picked and cut yesterday (I promise photos next post). And Aunty Sharon and I will start our Christmas baking extravaganza. Every December my mom bakes dozens of cookie varieties to eat and share on Christmas. It has and will probably continue to be one of my favorite Christmas activities. Since living on my own, I’ve scaled it down quite a bit but managed to do some of my own Christmas baking. This year, with my Aunt’s help, we’re going big. My Grandma is hoping to come by next weekend to give us a hand. I think we have 14 flavors on the agenda, which is still a lot fewer than my mom will be making but she has three adorable little helpers and a culinary education so I can’t compete with that.

In other news, I’ve found a way to make a little money. I’ve babysat for couple my Aunt knows through work twice now. I actually really enjoy it. The kids, 3 1/2 and almost 7, are well behaved, smart and fun. It’s definitely not frequent enough to quit my job search but it helped pay for Christmas gifts.

I haven’t forgotten about my What’s Cooking section of the blog. The week after Thanksgiving we went out for dinner. And this week I was in the New Hampshire visiting Derek and had no way to post the photos and recipe for the stuffed peppers I made. So I’m saving it for next week.

Also, I’m considering a short trip home in January. I haven’t committed yet as I’m trying to determine if is financially-responsible or if it will interfere with my job search. My Dad is looking into an option that could ease the financial problem. If that works out, I’d be willing to give up a week of job-hunting without too much guilt because I miss you all so much! I’ll keep you posted whether I’m coming home or not.

So aside from my state of unemployment, all is well in Connecticut. I’m thoroughly enjoying Christmas time. Derek and I are happy and in love. My family continues to be overly generous and a joy to be with. Yep, I’m a pretty content girl.

Hope you’re all having a happy December!

A Quick Hello from Puyallup

Thomas (my tomato plant) and I have safely settled in at my dad’s house. Well, settled might be too strong a word. I haven’t unpacked anything more than absolutely necessary to get dressed for work in the morning. But, I have arrived.

I should unpack. I would probably feel more calm if I did. But it’s hard to take everything out of its box only to repack again in a few weeks. And I’ve just been too tired the last few nights. I didn’t account for the draining effect of an extended work commute- it’s about an hour now. So by the time I get home, I don’t feel like doing much.

I foresee a busy busy next couple of weeks. And I’m looking forward to it. I like the feeling of  running around from one activity to another. I’d much rather be exhausted from too much fun than bored because I’ve stayed in for a week. Since Derek and I are close to 2 hours apart, and he’ll be much farther in a few weeks, we have to plan dates. And then, of course, I want to see all my lovely friends (Rebecca, Megan and Doug, Christina) and spend time with all of my family. So I’m scheduling get-togethers like crazy and filling my off-work hours with happiness (and a lot of driving).

And as I write this, I am stuffing together a bag for a two night stay in Seattle at Doug and Megan’s. Wednesday Derek and I are doing a sunset kayak tour at Alki. And then it’s back to Puyallup for a short stay before I explore Leavenworth for a night with my man.

Stay tuned…

The Post-Birthday Post

I’ve been meaning to write all week. But I found it so hard to spend time in front of my computer when the weather has been so beautiful and I had merely days left to enjoy Seattle. I hope you’ll understand, my small yet wonderful audience.

So I had a birthday! And if the sweet memories accumulated during the birthday celebrations are any indication of the year to come, then I am in for a truly great year. A quick recap of the weekend:

Saturday- work, shop with Megan and Rebecca, eat an AMAZING sandwich from Jimmy John’s outside picnic-style with the lovely ladies, doll ourselves up, pick up Derek from work, dance party at the Tulalip Casino (sort of a work get-together), M&M mcflurry from McDonald’s for the car ride home

Sunday- no work!, shop (again 🙂 ), eat another sandwich from Jimmy John’s (so good), wine taste with Derek’s parent’s at Chateau St. Michelle, change into my favorite dress, dinner at a pasta bar with Doug, Mego, Rebecca, Chantha and Travis, Dad and Heather and Derek, cupcakes at Mego’s, drinks and pool in Fremont ( I actually did really well– at least for the first game), sleep

Monday-sleep in, lazy/cuddly morning with Derek, eat yet another Jimmy John sandwich (I just love them), work, hang out with Jakey and crew for a bit in Ballard, sleep

So, you see. I’ve been busy. And so so happy. Derek and I never got around to our hike- I overestimated the time we would have on Sunday and staying out til 3 on Saturday put a kink in the plans. But it didn’t matter after all. I had a perfect birthday weekend without it. Derek’s parents are lovely people; I really enjoy their company. And it was nice to have dinner with Dad, Chan and friends. It was all just perfect.

But now, as I come down from my birthday high, I must pack up what’s left of my belongings and move them to my Dad’s house in Puyallup. Derek and I are going to spend the rest of the week in my empty room on an air mattress because we’re not quite ready to leave Seattle (and we have a lot of food to try to finish). And, I’ve decided to give away even more, so we’ll also be driving to Rainier this afternoon to leave it with my mom. It’ll be a busy day. Maybe the busy will keep my mind of the change that is rapidly approaching. I think I’m ready, but I have my fears. And I feel like I have a lot to do to prepare. Let me list, it’ll help me put things in perspective.

Major To-Do’s Before East Coast Move:

-tell current employer that I am leaving mid-September (not looking forward to this talk as they are adding responsibilities to my job in preparation for a promotion)

-secure new employment in Connecticut/Massachusetts/New Hampshire (hey friends, this is the time you might share any connections with  me)

-edit down the quantity of stuff I own to 1 Kia-sized car load (accommodating for my grandpa and his small bag of clothing)

-come to terms with the fact that I will no longer see some of the best people I know on a regular basis (how do you do that!?)

And then there’s a whole lot of little stuff. Like getting new contacts ordered, deep cleaning my car, etc. etc. Eek! I’m taking it one step at a time, which means I have to tell my boss soon. If you have experience with this type of conversation, please share your wisdom.

Darlings, my alarm is going off so I must begin my day. Hip! Hip! for another day of packing and moving.

Living Out of Suitcases

The family came. The family went. And with them, they took a truck-load of my belongings. Including my desk, so I suppose I should temporarily change my blog title to something like “From the Bed of Arikka N. Hall” or floor, or couch or dining room table.

As I expected, they left later than planned and ended up sitting right smack in the middle of Seattle rush-hour traffic. Perhaps not the best start to their visit, but I think all was well once we started grilling. My tiny kitchen was rather crowded, but I loved every second of the madness. Being a one of nine in a split family = familiarity with chaos.

The girls went through my closet and happily took all unwanted clothes off my hands. We went to Doug and Megan’s for darts and scattergories.

In the morning, Mom and Ross made a full breakfast of strawberry waffles, eggs and bacon. After I scrambled to finish packing up things I no longer wanted, we headed downtown to Pike Place Market.

Jaime and I had a caricature of the two of us drawn. 

The girls and I visited the gum wall (adding a new piece, of course).

After we’d had enough of pushing our way through the mob at the market, we ventured back home to load my boxes and furniture into Ross’ truck. It didn’t take long, which is good or they would have had to sit in traffic on their way home too. It all happened so quickly I barely had time to process the change.

Wednesday morning I awoke in my fully-furnished Seattle room, exactly the way it has been since I first moved in. Thursday afternoon, the mattress/boxspring I’m borrowing from Derek for two weeks is sitting directly on the floor and I have only the necessities left. I can see a lot more carpet. My walls are mostly blank. And all my clothes are in suitcases.

It’s eerie; I feel like I’m a visitor in my own house. But it’s going to be like this for a while- I won’t really settle in anywhere for a few months. The next stop is Dad’s house in Puyallup. Then Aunty Sharon’s in Woodstock, Connecticut. Then (hopefully) a place of my own (location TBD).

All these stops along the way give me the opportunity to adjust slowly and spend some time with loved ones, but part of me just wants to get on with it. It’s weird to be living in a transition period for a couple months. I’m still here, in Washington, but my head is focused on the East Coast. I’m excited. And a little scared. But mostly just ready to jump in and see what life has in store for me. Patience has never been my forte.

I have just 9 days left as a Seattle resident and I’m trying to make the most of it. Today I went to the Bite of Seattle with Doug and Mego. Soon I hope to do a sunset kayak tour of Elliot Bay with Derek. And next Sunday, for my birthday, I’m filling the day with fun: hiking, wine tasting and dinner at a new (to me) restaurant.

So cheers to summertime, Seattle and life changes on the way.


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