Happy Birthday Panicked Panda!

One year ago I started this blog with a post about a trip I went on with my dad. And here I am, one year later, returning from our annual daddy-daughter trip!

This year instead of going to Tempe, Arizona for the Pat Tillman run, we went to one of the satellite runs in San Jose. We decided since we were traveling anyway, we would cut two carrots with one knife and go see my grandparents in California!

They live only about an hour away from from where the race was held, so it was easy to do both in one very short weekend!

I don’t know if I have mentioned this before, but the move to Seattle was hard on me. Did the California sun help? Yes. Did gorging on homemade tortillas help? Most definitely! But most of all spending some time with family and getting some one-on-one time with my dad was the best. I was sad to leave, but every little bit helps and I am really learning to adjust to life here.

Another big development is that I started a job. A real life job! I love freelancing and making my own schedule. But, in reality the fluidity wasn’t helping me put down any roots here. It is shocking how much of a difference going to work everyday has made to me. As introverted as I am (and prefer to be), I don’t think that I realized how much I do need at least¬†some social interaction on a regular basis.

Between regularly seeing family and going to an office everyday, we might just be onto something ūüėČ

Our Visit to the Happiest Country

Last October, I was randomly scrolling through Skyscanner. Zach and I love to travel, but since he started school in the fall we thought it would be put on the back burner for a couple of years. But! Then, I saw an amazing deal for tickets to Norway and we had to jump on them.

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Norway was nowhere on our list of “Places to Visit Soon” (and yes, we do have one), but this deal was too good to pass up. Anyway, neither one of us is a picky traveler. We just like to travel and explore new places together. So, since October we have been eagerly planning our trip! By planning, I mean it was mostly me making a lot of lists about what we would do while there.

At the top of these lists?

  • See the Scream, by Edvard Munch
  • Visit the Viking Ship museum
  • Explore city hall

On our trip, we saw all of the sites I had listed. But, we also went to the Kon-Tiki museum, which was not on my radar and ended up being one of my favorite parts of the trip. We also unexpectedly ran into a procession at the palace where the royal family of Norway was greeting the king and the head of state from Iceland. Amazing!

For all of my planning, there are some things you can never plan for. This is why Zach is the perfect man. He does not plan, which means that there is always time/wiggle for unexpected experiences.

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During our four days in Oslo we saw a good chunk of the city. It is a very walkable and safe place. We started our days unintentionally early. The hostel we stayed in put us in bunk beds (I call top bunk!). I don’t know if it was our unusual sleeping arrangements or just the time change, but without fail we woke up around 5 every morning. Breakfast wasn’t until 7, so we had some time to kill, which we usually filled by watching Crazy-Ex Girlfriend.

After breakfast, we would head out for the day. Every day we walked about ten miles. The walking plus the AWFUL time we would wake up at, had us exhausted by 8 every night. Many nights, we tried to force ourselves to stay up, so that we could go to the bar across the street from our hostel. It was called the Dubliner and every night at 9:30 it had live music. It became a sad, sad running joke that the Dubliner was our favorite bar that we never made it to. I think of it fondly and wish I’d gone inside.

Apart from missing out on the Dubliner, our trip was a complete success. We saw some amazing artwork and experienced some unique Norwegian culture. Oslo is a wonderful city and if you ever have the chance, I encourage you to go!

SPRING BREAK and March (Birthday) Madness!

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The title of the post may be misleading,¬†it is not really¬†my spring break (because that isn’t a thing after college); it is Zach’s. Though, it is my birthday week. When I was in college, I always thought it was great that my birthday fell during spring break. I could always relax, go on a cool trip and not have to worry about studying.

Less cool, is that I was born during March Madness. Literally. My dad tried to watch the tournament while my mom was in labor. She had to yell at him to turn the TV off because doctors and nurses, who were not her doctors and nurses, kept coming into the room to talk to him and to check the scores of the games.

Growing up, this meant that the little girls coming over for birthday parties would hear an orchestra of obscenities flying from the living room as my dad yelled at the TV. In Utah, where the culture is predominantly Mormon, this is kind of a big deal. My dad isn’t Mormon, but most of my friends growing up were and Mormons don’t swear. I’m sure more than a few kids went home from my birthday parties knowing brand new words.

The year I turned 15 my mom was out of town, so my dad was in charge of being the adult at my birthday party. He promised that he wouldn’t cuss out the TV when my friends were over. And… he did his best.

That night, after my party, I told him, “Dad, you were swearing a lot when my friends were over.” He denied it, said that he had purposely held back and that he was sure he hadn’t let anything slip. He was so convinced that he was right¬†that he called my friend Shae, who only lived two doors down. He got her on the phone and she told him the same thing I had, he did say, “quite a few bad words,” while they were over.

I don’t know that point of this story, except that every year my birthday has coincided with a lot of basketball.

Except, this year! Zach and I are going to Oslo. We leave on my birthday and come home a week later. So finally, 27 years into this thing, I have figured out how to escape basketball on my birthdayРflee the country.

My Very First Snow Day

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It is snowing here in Seattle, which is not something that occurs often. We have just a few inches of snow and the flakes are the soft and fluffy type that everyone loves. It isn’t a bad storm. It is a nice storm. However, since this is Seattle, where it rarely snows, everyone is losing their minds.

Every single one of my friends here has posted some version of, “Look at this Winter Wonderland!” or, if they are not Seattle natives it is closer to, “Can you believe the city is shut down for this sh*t?”

I’m on the “can’t believe they shut everything down” side, but it is still kind of nice. The city looks beautiful and the University of Washington canceled school, so Zach is parked on the couch for the day.

I have never had a snow day before. Northern Utah will not shut down for anything. When I was a junior at Weber State University, there was a big snow storm rolling in that everyone nicknamed, Stormageddon. I had an evening class that day and was hoping that I wouldn’t have to go. Driving up the side of a mountain in a snow storm in the dark in my little Toyota was not my idea of fun. But, they didn’t cancel so I still had to go. I passed car after car that had slid off the road on the way to class and had my fair share of scares.

The next year, there was a massive windstorm. Winds reached up to 102 miles per hour. Trees were blown over and I was blown halfway across campus. Some very nice stranger, had to grab my arm and walk me into a building. He literally pulled me up off the stairs that I was braced against and took me into the student union building.

I think they technically canceled classes that day, but they wouldn’t let us leave the buildings since it was deemed too dangerous with all of the debris in the air, so I still had to go to class. Since I went to all of my classes that day anyway, I don’t count this as a day off.

I’m not sure that I can count today either. Since I don’t work in an office here, it isn’t really a snow day for me. But I really want to count it anyway because I’m 26 and … SNOW DAY!

xoxo

Books + Life: The Happiness Project and #Happier2017

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I was serious when I said that I’m going to actively pursue happiness this year! So serious, that I ordered a book about it called The Happiness Project. I heard about the book because I listen to the author’s, Gretchen Rubin, podcast. In the podcast Gretchen and her sister, Liz, discuss all things happiness and well being. I recommend the podcast if you are looking for a boost or some tips for sticking to your resolutions. It isn’t too heavy and usually they have pretty fun conversations with good advice to boot.

The book is of this same vein. Yes, it is a self-help book, but for the most part it is in first person with bits of research here and there to backup the things Gretchen is trying in her pursuit for a happier life.

I’m only in chapter one, so I guess nothing I say should start with, “for the most part.” The book and her project is broken down into twelve sections and twelve ways that she wants to improve her life.

This book speaks to me because Gretchen is happy. She realizes that she has a great life, doesn’t want for anything, a stable family and healthy kids. I often feel this way. I have everything I need (and more), but still feel dissatisfied. First. World. Problems.

My goal isn’t to change my life; my goal is to change the way I look at my life and embrace it. I’m going to break my year down into twelve parts and twelve areas where I need an attitude or lifestyle adjustment. For example, stop complaining so much (attitude adjustment) and get to sleep at a decent hour (lifestyle adjustment).

So, in closing, my project is going pretty well so far. I am working hard on keeping my resolutions and to enjoy our new life here.¬†The other day, I told my friend Caitlin that, “If I don’t think about it, I don’t hate Seattle that much.” And, it is true! In little ways, it is feeling more like home. ¬†When Zach and I got home from Christmas in Utah we redecorated the apartment and that felt good. I’m working harder on building relationships here and strong friendships. I’m getting involved in the community and projects that I care about. All good things.

Xoxo

Books + Life: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

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Last Christmas Zach got me a book called, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. I didn’t read it. I had no interest in it, mainly because I was worried it would stress me out — Would it make me feel incompetent? Or that my running schedule wasn’t good enough?

I finally gave it a chance last weekend as part of my New Year resolutions…and to get out of skiing because cold and gross. But mostly, I figured reading a book about running would be a good boost for me as I start running again. And, I’m really glad I gave it that chance.

There was nothing anxiety inducing or even eye-opening about the book. I don’t mean that in a bad way, but I knew a lot of the stuff he was talking about. It felt like a conversation.

The book is¬†simply¬†Haruki Murakami‘s love letter to running. The book was originally written in Haruki’s native Japanese and translated by Philip Gabriel. It details his experiences training for the NYC Marathon and other races in between. It talks about the places he has traveled and the people he has met along the way, and at the center of it all is running.

I connected with this book. I felt like the things Haruki wrote about were things I would write about from the kind of music he likes to listen to, to eating habits — a developing aversion to meat and sweets.

This book was the perfect way to start the new year and jump-start my goal of running more this year. I’m sorry to Zach for avoiding it for one whole year, however it seems like I picked up at the perfect time in my life. It is funny how things work that way!

Remember That One Time …

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Zach and I had a pretty mellow night last night. We went to a bar called Big Time Brewery, had a pitcher, watched Dragon Ball Z and rang in the New Year with about fifteen strangers. It was perfect; low key and not crowded.

Since 2016 ended as a relatively peaceful year, I guess it was guaranteed that 2017 would start like no other.

On our walk home, it started to snow. When we turned onto our road, I noticed a pile on the sidewalk in front of our house. As we got closer, it became apparent that the pile was a person. Specifically, a young girl in a long red coat and a not long cocktail dress.

“Are you OK?” we asked her. “Mmmmm.” groaned¬†the lump. “Do you need help?” “Yuuuugh.” She replied.

We took that as a yes and helped her to her feet. I slung her arm over my shoulder and started helping her make her way into our apartment. I asked her a few basic questions, “Do you want us to give you a ride home? Did you take anything other than alcohol that we should be worried about? Do you have a roommate that I can get ahold of?” She couldn’t give me a straight answer, so I figured once we got her inside we could get her a glass of water and let her collect herself a bit.

Because this is America and we live near a college campus I knew I had to ask, “Did anything bad happen to you?” She said no and and there weren’t any signs of distress. I breathed a sigh of relief.

We got her inside and Zach went to get her some water and a bowl in case she needed to throw up. Much to our surprise, instead of sitting down on the chair, she¬†flung herself backward onto the couch and immediately passed out. The only other words we got out of her were, “It’s super cold,” so we covered her with blankets and turned up the heater.

After all, it was below freezing outside and aside from her coat, she didn’t have a lot to keep her warm. Her legs and hands were bright red from the cold. About two minutes after we covered her,¬†she stuck her feet out from under the blankets and mumbled, “shoes.”

I briefly debated calling the cops, just in case something went wrong. But, other than being a little too drunk and needing to rest, it didn’t seem like anything was the matter. So, I took her shoes off and left her to sleep it off.

I stayed home for college. My wild Friday nights were made up of sharing a couple glasses of wine on the couch with my parents while watching a movie. I told Zach, “I can’t believe this! Nothing like this has ever happened to me before.” I expected him to agree, but turns out he was not too surprised. Not only did he have a few wild nights of his own at Penn State, but has some “epic” tales from the Navy. These include the time in Florida where he woke up on a roof after a night out and the time a girl wandered into his apartment in Japan in the middle of the night and just hopped into bed! Apparently, her buddy lived next door and she was just a little confused in her drunkenness.

Our young adventurer woke us up around 5am when she needed to use the restroom. As she was putting on her shoes and coat, I offered to give her a ride home, walk home with her or let her stay until it was light outside.

She just smiled, half-drunkenly, opened up her arms and gave me a bear hug, “it’s fine. It’s fine,” she said and patted my face. After watching her make her way down the flight of stairs and down the sidewalk, I closed and locked the door.

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I slipped into bed next to Zach and fell back asleep in just a few minutes. When I woke up this morning, I had to think for a minute to make sure it wasn’t all just a buzzed dream. But, the dirt on the couch and the pile of blankets on the floor assured me it wasn’t.

I’m not sure what 2017 has in store for us, but it already seems like we are in for quite an adventure …

Year In Review – 2016

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Happy New Year!!!

I have a tendency to focus on the negative; Zach didn’t do the dishes. I miss my family. I ate too many chips, now my tummy hurts. Seattle is a terrible place to live. Basically, I hate ______ . Apparently, complaining all the time gave Zach the wrong impression about my outlook on life. “Why aren’t you happy?” he asked me one day.

“I am happy!” was my first thought when he asked that. But, I’m not giving that impression, am I?

So — instead of saying how sad 2016 made me, I’m going to focus on the positive or put a spin on things. What good is a master’s degree in marketing if I can’t spin my own life in my favor?

  1. We have an awesome opportunity to explore a cool new city!
  2. I have the opportunity to make new friends here!
  3. By living in a new place, I can ditch old, toxic relationships and “friendships”!
  4.  Zach and I got married! (which is good on its own, no spin needed!)
  5. ¬†…

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2017 is going to be AWESOME! Yes. Ok. I’ll still be sarcastic, as shown above. But! I’m going to be happy. When I thought about Zach’s comment, I’m not as happy as I should be and the only thing to blame is my mindset. One really hard thing happened to me this year and that was Kitty’s passing. She was my best friend and with me since I was nine. But, other than that, my unhappiness is my own.

I have a few great resolutions. The top two being: make friends in Seattle and work on mindfulness. A few of the more random ones are run two 13.1 races, read 52 books (I read around 60 this year), eat more veggies! Isn’t that on everyone’s list?

Happy New Year friends, here is looking to 2017 and may it be 1,000,000% wonderful! I love you all! xoxoxoxoxo

New Year’s Eve – 2017 Resolutions

We just got home from our trip to Utah. We were there from the 18th to the 28th of December and it was wonderful. We ate a lot of good and spent a lot of time with my family and our friends.

Gabby still hasn’t warmed up to Zach, but she did play with him a few times and we made cookies for Santa together.

It was nice to be home in Utah! I have been in a complete rut lately. Normally, I am not a fan of New Year’s Resolutions. But this year, I am going to make a few to try and give myself a boost to feel better and have a happy year here in Seattle with Zach. Here are two resolutions from my extensive list:

  1. Make More Friends
  2. Practice Living in the Moment

I know both of these will be a ton of work for me. Making friends has never been one of my strong skills, I think it is mostly because I have always been so close to my family so I didn’t need as many friends and, I’m a little bit introverted. I don’t like crowds at ALL. For the second one, I’m going to battling against my anxious/worry-wart nature. I really want to commit myself though because I think both of these resolutions will help me have a better year and better life overall.

So, for the first:

Physically, I live in Seattle. Mentally, I’m in ¬†Utah. All my family and friends are there and almost everyone that I talk to. I ever work with people in Utah! I don’t want it this way… I want to be happy where I am and explore my new city, which everyone is telling me is such a cool place to be.

So, I have a couple of ideas. First, make more friends here! I have a couple and that is a good start, but a few more would be great. This is especially important for different activities.

My current Seattle friends are great to grab a drink with or to sit on the couch and chat with. But would they want to go on a rigorous hike with me or want to grab last minute pedicures? I don’t know, I haven’t asked them. But, my real point is — it is good to have a lot of different friends for a lot of different things.

What I really need is someone I can laugh with. Whenever I make a joke and someone doesn’t get it or takes it too seriously, I have a Lizzie Bennet moment:

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How am I going to make friends here?

I tried volunteering at PAWS as a way to meet people, but that hasn’t gone as I thought it would. So, now I’m asking for setups! I’m asking friends who know people here to setup me up with them. I’ve also signed up for a “dating” app just for friends called, Hey Vina. It already has given me a couple of promising starts! Finally, I’m just being more aggressive. When I see someone I like and have a nice conversation, I invite them to hangout instead of just letting them walk away. Creepy!

The second resolution is going to be much harder! Even though making friends isn’t a strong point for me, being mindful is even more of a weak point. Like I said, it has been anxiety attack central over here and in the past I’ve had long bouts of depression and anxiety. I don’t want to get trapped in it.

To be more mindful, I’m going to start with meditation and self-help podcasts. I have a couple that I love a lot already; Harry Potter and the Sacred Text and the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast.

When we first moved here, I couldn’t get a gym pass because Zach’s benefits didn’t start until school started. So, I would “workout” by walking around the surrounding neighborhoods while listening to podcasts. I didn’t realize how good it was for me mentally, until I started going to the gym every day. I really missed that quiet downtime or just walking around with my thoughts and podcasts.

If podcast-walking doesn’t help as much as I want it to, and really, I’m not sure it will, I’m going to go and talk to someone. I think counselors can be very helpful when you are having a hard time and need some action items for improving.

I want 2017 to be the best year ever. I’m sick of waiting to be happy. It isn’t going to happen unless I make it happen. Seattle can be great. I need to change my mindset. Zach is great and I love being married. I have a lot of great starting points, now I just need to get the gears in motion.

 

Vegan Hot Buttered Rum

Whenever I try to make something new, especially something that is not vegan to begin with but that I have to make vegan, I go to the internet and read a ton of recipes. Usually, between five or ten, but sometimes more.

When it is finally time to make the thing, I leave the recipes behind and put something together using whatever I decided to take away from each recipe — or more realistically, what I can remember from each recipe.

This amounts to me leaving out the parts that sound gross and adding stuff that I think might work, even if no recipe called for it. For example, I like to add spice to everything. Even things that no one would ever want to eat a spicy version of.

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Some like it hot.

This means one of two things happen when I cook; it tastes gross and we never want to have it again or it tastes AMAZING but nothing like the original. Zach is a really lucky man.

Earlier this week, I made torta. The first of those things happened. I mainly left out the non-vegan ingredients without replacing anything, so we ended up with weird, mushy potatoes. I mean … it was potatoes … so I still ate everything. But, it could’ve been much better.

Tonight, in an attempt to redeem myself, I made hot buttered rum. It didn’t turn out too bad! If you make this recipe and think it is gross, then just add more rum and you won’t remember whether you liked it or not.

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Makes four to five servings.

I like the idea of making the mix and adding the rum later. This is good if you have little ones or non-drinkers in the family who also want to enjoy a cozy drink.

  • 1/2 Cup¬†Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Vegan Butter (I used Earth Balance)
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 1/4¬†Teaspoon Ground Cloves
  • 1/4¬†Teaspoon Pumpkin Spice
  • Dash of Vanilla
  • 2¬†Cups of Non-Dairy Milk (I used almond)
  • 1 1/2 Cups Water
  • Orange Zest (optional)
  • Vegan Whipped Cream (optional)
  • A Dash of¬†Red Chili (COMPLETELY optional)

Add everything but the butter into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and add the butter. Stir until it melts completely.

To make into a cocktail, add one shot of spiced brown rum into a mug and 1/2 a shot of white rum. Add one to 1 1/2 cups of mix.

Enjoy!