Sunday, December 30, 2007

December 30 - Two Year Anniv.

We celebrated our 2 year anniversary this weekend. This second year has brought some pretty big changes: I finished my master's degree, we moved to Washington without knowing a thing about it, and we both got new jobs. I think that this may have been the hardest trial of our marriage. We came to a new place where we didn't know anyone and we couldn't get jobs for a long time. Money was very tight and we questioned a few times if we should have come here. We spent A LOT of time together, day in and day out. And we didn't kill each other. And we hardly ever fought. That's pretty incredible to me! Unfortunately, we got used to enjoying so much time together and now that we're both working (and kind of opposite shifts) we really miss each other. I guess there's worse things than loving to spend time with your husband.

So this weekend we both made sure to have the weekend off. On Saturday we went to Seattle. We started in Fremont and ate lunch at Costas Opa. It's a Greek restaurant that Robb went to before I got to WA and has been wanting me to try. It was a pretty solid Greek restaurant. Robb had gyros, I had lamb souvlaki. We then walked around Fremont for a little bit and visited our favorite independent stores in the area. Then we headed to the Queen Anne neighborhood. This neighborhood has the cutest houses and when you think of Seattle neighborhoods, this is what you picture. So I've been wanting to check out the main street in Queen Anne, which seemed to have a lot of cute shops. Unfortunately, it was raining pretty hard by the time we got there and the area didn't have as many cute places as I had hoped. Lots of spas/salons though. We did check out the Queen Anne Metropolitan Market. And I have to say Robb's store in Federal Way is much nicer and bigger. And then my shoes (which were made of corduroy) finally soaked through, so we decided to to head back to Federal Way. We ate dinner at our favorite restaurant in Federal Way, La Casa Bella. And as always, our food was superb. We ordered a bottle of Chianti. We started with prawns in a goat cheese sauce. Robb had a rack of lamb which was succulent and I had a seafood pasta which was pretty darn good too. They gave us a free appetizer and dessert again. It's amazing to have such a top notch restaurant in our town.

Today (Sunday, our actual anniversary), I woke up to find Robb gone. Which is pretty incredible. I ALWAYS wake up before Robb and he left the house at 8:30! He came home with Starbucks breakfast and we had breakfast in bed. We had a selection of cheese (from Met Market) for lunch. We're becoming quite the cheese connoisseurs. And then we headed to the movie theater to see Juno (I highly recommend it!) Tonight we're sitting at home and going to watch a movie and drink wine. A low key anniversary, but we are still poor and have work tomorrow. We try to give each other low cost, traditional presents each year. The first year was paper and the second year is cotton. So I got Robb a new blanket for our couch and a cotton smelling candle (b/c the blanket wasn't officially cotton, the good blankets are made of synthetic materials) and Robb got me new hiking socks and made a mixed cd with songs all about cotton!

This statute is in Fremont. People just come out and decorate them for their friends birthdays and special events. It's featured in the opening credits of Say Anything.

Statue of Lenin in Fremont, currently decorated for Christmas.

Driving past the Space Needle, with the Christmas tree on top for the season.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas in the Northwest

Christmas in the Northwest means that we have a fireplace, cold weather, and even a tiny bit of snow on Christmas Day! Unfortunately, because we are both newly employed, we couldn't take time off work and be with my family in Florida for the holiday season. But, other than missing the family a whole bunch, our first Christmas just by ourselves was nice. We had a nice dinner Christmas Eve that included steak, twice-baked potatoes, and fried corn. Christmas Day we had a big brunch with pancakes, bacon, and fried potatoes. For dinner we had shrimp cocktail and brioche. (Brie cheese baked in bread). We watched Christmas movies, opened presents, called family, etc. I love Christmas time and all of my decorations, so now you're subjected to my pictures of our first Christmas in the Northwest.

The apples are from Metropolitan Market. They put sugar stencils on them. The flowers were sent to us by my Grandpa and Kim. They're sitting next to our "whirly-gig" that my parents got for me when we lived in Germany. I love our wreath (we got it at a Christmas Market in Tarpon Springs, FL last year) and our tree topper (on sale after Christmas from Winter Park, FL). I love that we get a fireplace here and we had a roaring fire on Christmas Eve. And it snowed for about an hour on Christmas Day! We had a slightly white Christmas!

Monday, December 17, 2007

First Day of Work

It's official. I am now employed full-time in a career that I have been preparing for and educating myself for, for years. Of course, like most people's first days of work I'll be busy reading policies and procedures, setting up my voicemail, filling out paperwork, etc. in the coming week. But I already got to sit in on a meeting and I have assignments I'll start working on once my email is set up. I'm sure I'll have more insight into my job as time goes on, but now I'm just happy to be working. The people seem nice. The commute is 45 minutes, but there's no stop and go traffic, it's pretty smooth. I have my own cubicle which is pretty large; I need to figure out how to pimp it out. =) We took pictures of my first day of work. I don't know if you did this when you were a kid, but we always took first day of school pictures. So now I have my first day in the real world pictures too.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Musings on Full Time Work

I'm counting down the days until I start my government job on Monday. Unfortunately I wasn't offered the nonprofit job. For my own self-preservation I'm telling myself that it was because I was over-qualified. They were concerned during the interview about this position being too clerical for me, and I actually had more education than even the executive director of the nonprofit. I threatened them with my vast knowledge of the nonprofit world. Right? Right? That's why I didn't get the job? Right? Nah, who knows. But I believe things happen for a reason, so I'm very excited to start my management analyst job on Monday.

It's going to be strange going to work full-time. I've never had a traditional full-time job. I've always been in school and have worked part-time and contract positions. My hours are going to be 8:00-5:00 and there's about a 45-60 minute commute. Robb's hours are about 12:30-9:30, so I won't be seeing him more than an hour or two a day before I have to go to sleep. We've been down that path before. In fact, as a restaurant manager he had much later hours. But because I was in school or had contracts where I would work on my own time, I could hang out with him in the afternoons before he would go to work. Now I won't be able to do that. It should be interesting to see how this works out with both of us working full time. I'll actually be working more than full-time. This past weekend I went to Panera intending to put in my two-weeks notice. Well apparently they really like me there, so my manager offered me a raise to keep on working there one day a week. (And I think it's hard to find people to work the 5:00 am to 1:30 pm shift). I figure that I'll work Saturdays at Panera to make a little extra money for awhile. It's not especially hard work and I actually think it's a little fun.

Robb has completed his training at Metropolitan Market and is now working in our local store. Overall he likes it, although he's a little concerned that he'll get bored. There's a lot less to do than running an entire restaurant. But it's pretty good money to not be stressed! It's a different experience for him because it's hourly rather than salary and he has fairly strict Union rules he has to follow. He is not allowed to work more than 8 hours a day; but coming from restaurants he was used to 10-14 hour days at times. He's always been big on getting projects done, but because of his time restrictions, he doesn't have all the time to implement new cleaning or organization projects for the rest of the staff. He is the Assistant Bistro Manager so he is in charge of the deli (meats, cheeses, olive bar), hot food (sandwiches, soups, pasta, chicken dinners), and a section of pre-packaged deli foods (desserts, quiches, more cheeses, etc.) I've mentioned before how unbelievable fancy this store is and I've posted pictures below. While their deli has fried chicken, mind you that's free-range chicken. They sell slices of butternut squash lasagna. They saute personalized pasta dishes. They have prime rib sandwiches. They have one of the finest gourmet cheese selections around. A moderately priced cheese there is $20.00 a pound. Selections include: gouda, goat cheese, bleu cheese, gorgonzola, brie, etc.

So that's about it. The next few days for me will be filled with getting those last-minute things done before work. I need a haircut. I should probably send out Christmas cards or something, I need to pull out my professional clothes and take the iron to them. Wow, not wearing sweats during the day, that will be a change of pace.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Federal Way is Safe From the Elements

No weather worries in Federal Way. The Northwest has been in the national news the past couple of days due to very bad weather: snow, hurricane-force winds, rain, flooding, etc. While we had a minuscule amount of snow that melted as it touched the ground, followed by a steady flow of rain, it wasn't really bad in our neck of the woods. Now apparently, going just an hour north to Lynnwood or Woodinville (this is the town where Chateau Ste. Michelle winery is) or an hour south to Olympia would be treacherous. I think some areas received a foot of snow and then when the rain came, all of this melting water caused flooding, mudslides, and roads being washed away. Yesterday several main roads and exits were closed, causing a commuting nightmare. In fact, sections of I-5 will possibly be closed for the next several days.

But luckily, this doesn't really effect us. Federal Way escaped unscathed. And neither of us are commuting right now, so we don't have to worry about the roads. We feel very lucky right now that we live in such a temperate climate.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Thanksgiving Weekend - Marathon Post!

Thanksgiving weekend was a wonderful compilation of friends, family, Washington tourism, and food. My parents arrived Thanksgiving afternoon around 12:30ish and brought beautiful weather for the whole weekend. While it was cold (low to mid-40s as the high), it was sunny and clear, with beautiful views of Mt. Rainer. Of course, the day my mother left it got even colder, overcast, and practically rained icicles.

Thanksgiving Day: We got back from the airport and immediately started eating the deviled eggs I made earlier in the morning. Angela and Will (friends from Oregon) showed up around 3:30, just in time for Robb’s famous spinach-artichoke dip and wine. We ended up drinking a total of 6.5 bottles of wine before the evening ended around 9:30. We ate dinner around 6. Robb made the turkey, mashed potatoes, homemade cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, and rolls. I contributed cucumber dill salad and fried corn. After a delicious dinner we ate my yummy homemade pumpkin cheesecake and chose to eat Robb’s spice apple dump cake a couple of days later. As I mentioned earlier, wine flowed freely and conversation was ample. It was a really nice Thanksgiving. My parents went to bed by 10, exhausted by their day of flying that started at 5:00 am, Eastern Time.

Friday: Because obviously we hadn’t been drinking enough the day before, the parents, Robb and I chose to visit Chateau Ste. Michelle winery in Woodinville, WA. I’ve been very excited to visit this winery because for a long time they’ve created my favorite riesling. On our way, we stopped in Seattle to eat at Red Mill Burgers. I know I’ve mentioned their amazing onion rings before, so we had to let my parents experience the greasy goodness. I think they aren’t as impressed as Robb and I are, but they still liked them. We got to the winery just in time for the 1:00 tour, which was fairly unimpressive. At the end of the tour we got to try three wines, a chardonnay (pretty bland), a merlot (very good), and a dessert wine (which I refused to try because it’s too sweet). We then were herded into a gift shop and my parents paid for us to sample four more wines, all of which were good, but the $40 reserve merlot was phenomenal. After that we headed across the street to Red Hook Brewery and tried a flight of their beer. I enjoyed their flagship beer and their blonde, but didn’t care for the IPA, stout, or holiday blend. We drove home, relaxed for awhile and then headed to Bellevue to eat dinner at Z’tejas. My parents fell in love with the original Z’tejas when we lived in Texas and I ate dinner their once and was blown away. We were all very excited to eat their again. However, it was extremely disappointing. The menu had changed, the food was bland, and the service terrible. Robb and I just feel so bad for my Dad because he was so looking forward to this dinner! We were determined that the next day’s food choices would be better.

Saturday: We started with breakfast at Panera and then drove to Seattle and parked near the Space Needle. I had read about an international holiday bazaar and we went into the Center and found a total of three booths, a huge disappointment. So we walked a few blocks until we got into the ride free zone to take the bus downtown. (There is a certain area in downtown Seattle where the bus is free, which is a very nice convenience). We took the bus to Pike Place Market and walked around so my parents could take in the sights. We also ate at Piroshky Piroshky, Beecher’s, and Pike Place Chowder. I’m pleased to report that my parents liked the perogi-imitation and proclaimed that the clam chowder was the best they ever had. It was the first time that even Robb and I ate the macaroni and cheese at Beecher’s, and we were all impressed with the best mac and cheese we’ve ever had. Seriously. How cool is it that in Pike Place exists the best clam chowder and best mac and cheese in the entire world? After our food celebration we took the free bus to Pioneer Square to check out a few of the local stores and more specifically, visit Elliot Bay Book Company. I had heard that this was the best book store and Seattle and felt compelled to bring my Mom. It turns out to be a beautiful book store in a very old brick building. It really is an amazing store and once I have some more money coming in, I want to spend some more time in there and actually buy something. On the way to the bookstore we came across Waterfall Park, a dedication to UPS workers (UPS was founded in Seattle.) This beautiful water fountain is hidden behind a couple of walls in the Pioneer Square district. It's really quite stunning and beautiful to have such an impressive waterfall in the middle of the city. After the bookstore we took the bus back to our car and on our way home stopped at REI so my Mom could see the original REI store. We then went home opened up a bottle of wine and headed for dinner at La Casa Bella in Federal Way. Robb and I had been to this Italian restaurant twice before and were excited about sharing our favorite local restaurant with them. We were NOT disappointed that evening. All of the food was phenomenal. We had balsamic portobello mushrooms and caprese for appetizers. All of the entrée’s were phenomenal and at the end of the night, after deciding against dessert, the waitress brought out a complimentary (probably because we spent a fortune on food and wine) pineapple sorbet served in a hollowed out pineapple. It’s just so nice to have a great Italian restaurant in our little town!

Sunday: Got up real early to take my Dad to the airport. He had to be back at work on Monday, so he had to leave a day before my Mom. Later in the day, Mom, Robb, and I went to the mall in Bellevue to eat lunch and go to the movie theater to see Michael Clayton (pretty good movie, slow in the beginning, but speeds up to a pretty good story.) My mom bought me a couple of shirts for my new job and then we headed back to Federal Way and just ordered pizza in and watched a couple of movies at home. She left very early Monday morning. Overall very good weekend and I already miss my parents terribly!

Left to Right: Robb, Angela, Will, Me, Dad

Chateau Ste. Michelle

Mom and Dad at Pike Place Market

Robb and Me Eating at Beecher's

Pike Place Chowder

Dad at UPS Waterfall

Pineapple Sorbet

Mom Enjoying our Fireplace.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Jobs All Around!

As soon as I get all my pictures uploaded, I will post about Thanksgiving weekend and the food/tourism that ensued when my parents were here. But I wanted to let everyone know that other cool things are happening now too!

I’m pleased to announce that Robb was offered a job! He will be an Assistant Bistro Manager at our favorite grocery store, Metropolitan Market. He originally applied for just a part-time customer service position to pay the bills, but they were impressed with his resume and asked him to consider the full time position. This upscale local grocery store chain (about 6 stores in the Seattle area) has everything from Kraft macaroni and cheese, to organic frozen entrées, to $250 bottles of balsamic vinegar. It’s about 1.5 miles away from our house and while we can’t afford to do all of our shopping there, it’s truly a pleasure to go inside. Metropolitan Market has an extensive bistro/deli with an olive bar, gourmet cheeses, soups, pasta, and items such as fried chicken, or butternut squash lasagna. While it’s not his ideal job in the marketing/writing world, we’re very happy that if he has to work in the customer service industry for now, at least it’s in such a nice looking place. They obviously care about their store and employees and he had to go through two interviews before it was offered to him. He starts training next week.

Other exciting news is I just interviewed for a Program Coordinator position for a nonprofit. I actually interviewed with this nonprofit a couple of months ago, but they then decided to restructure and decided not to hire anyone until new managers were in place. So they contacted me this week and let me know that the new people were interested in interviewing me and considering me for the position. So I had a FANTASTIC interview with them this afternoon. Perhaps the best interview I've ever had. Yes, I know I have already accepted a job at the State which will start in mid-December. However, the State hasn't sent me a written job proposal and hasn't started on my background check yet. Plus, this job at the nonprofit would pay me more and is only about a mile away from my apartment.

I should know by this time next week if I'm offered the nonprofit job. But even if I'm not offered it, it doesn't really matter because I have another job lined up! We’re definitely thankful this holiday season that after months of looking for work, we will both be employed in December.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Truly I have something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. This afternoon I got the call that offered me a career. I will be a Management Analyst for the State of Washington. I don't want to divulge the division on this public forum due to privacy reasons, but for those of you who are friends/family I will be happy to let you know if you're interested. I am very excited to be offered this position. It's working for the state government in a position that improves government functions (efficiency, effectiveness, accountability, etc); truly my dream position. This is what I went to school for and of the several jobs I applied for (and interviewed for) this is one that I've been most excited about.

The position is in Lacey, Washington, (right next to the capitol Olympia) which is about 40 minutes south-west of where we live. Even though we were initially disappointed to live so far away from Seattle (Seattle is about 40 minutes north of us); now we are happy to be in such a central location that allowed me to apply for this job. This process has taken a long time, but that's the government for you (one of those efficiency things that should be fixed by people who are management analysts). I actually applied for this position the end of August. I won't start until mid-December because I need to complete a background check and the state only starts new hires on the 1st and 16th. Even though I won't start for a few more weeks, it's a comfort to know that I'm finally going to be employed.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Second Interview

Well I have a second interview for that management analyst job I interviewed for last week. It's going to be Friday, the 16th at 2:00. I'm pretty stoked that I got called back for a second interview. Apparently I'm one of three finalists. I hope that by telling people about this I haven't jinxed myself! Actually I'm just hoping that everyone can just think really good thoughts for me next Friday at 2:00, (5:00 for you East Coasters)!

Other than that, it's been pretty boring around here. Watching movies, working out, going to Panera on the weekends. Mom and Dad are coming to visit for Thanksgiving weekend, so we've been trying to come up with a list of activities and must-sees. So much to see, so little time! And I haven't even seen half of what Seattle has to offer myself!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Question: Why do I have a purple toe?
A) Is it frostbite because as much as I love the cold, after living in Florida, I forgot what it MEANT to be cold and I don't have as many socks as necessary.
B) Did I finally lose my mind after realizing that I spent a lot of money on a master's degree only to be working in a Panera and decided that coloring my toe with purple markers would be a creative outlet, sparking some type of intellectual debate?
C) I thought it would be smart to leave my hand weights out in the middle of the living room floor, and then forget that they were there and ramming my toes into them to add some excitement to my day.
We're pretty sure it's not broken, as I can bend it and mostly walk. However, it's very painful, swollen, and ugly. It looks much worse in person than in the picture! I think Robb might be secretly glad I tripped over my weights, because in the future I'm now going to be prone to putting them away when I'm finished with them and he won't have to pick up after me.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Dash Point

We wanted to go for a hike last week, but gas prices have gone above $3.00 a gallon, so we decided to stay in town. We went to visit Dash Point State Park which is in Federal Way. Nothing really exciting and the trails that were there were pretty muddy (and we didn't wear the proper shoes to hike). But, seeing as how I haven't posted any pictures lately, thought I'd go ahead and show you a little bit.

Monday, October 29, 2007

24 Days

My three week temp job has been completed, so currently I am only employed at Panera on the weekends. I worked 24 days in a row without a break. It sounds really difficult until you do it. It wasn't as bad as I expected. But that's probably because 1) I knew that it would end soon and 2) Robb was amazing and kept the house clean, cooked, shopped, took care of the cats, and made my lunches for me. Working at the mental health facility for three weeks was certainly interesting. I spoke to some unusual people on the phone and have some interesting stories for the future. One day I went into the lobby and saw someone sitting there with a Dracula cape on. I thought, well, this is where crazy people hang out; so I wasn't completely surprised. But then I remembered that there was a Halloween party for some of the clients that day! So lesson learned: even the crazies only pull out the costumes on certain days!

Today I went to interview for a Management Analyst position with the state government. It was a really phenomenal interview, and if nothing else, at least I have my interviewing confidence back. After that, I headed to downtown Seattle to check out a public administration career fair. How lucky am I? This month there was a nonprofit career fair and a public administration career fair in Seattle. Unfortunately, I didn't find much at either fair. The nonprofit fair had a lot of organizations looking for interns and volunteers. And the public administration fair employers just told everyone to check out their websites, which I already do. It's pretty sad that career fairs are now wastes of time for me. From what I understand, employers at career fairs used to accept hard copies of your resume, tell you about great job opportunities that you couldn't hear about anywhere else, and actually make connections with people who could help you. That's no longer the case. But I continue to go to job fairs because you always hope that you'll meet that one person who can help you.

And today I met some people involved with the American Society for Public Administrators (ASPA.) I was really involved in Central Florida's ASPA organization. But my membership lapsed this summer and I don't want to spend the money right now on the renewal. But I talked to a couple of ASPA members today and I'm going to try to get involved again without having to pay the dues quite yet.

So now, the next few days will be spent on recuperating from my long days of work. I will probably try to sleep in a little, get back to running, and take care of a few chores. Then it's back to Panera this weekend. Believe it or not, I actually enjoy working there. My fellow employees (although mostly young and in high school!) are very nice and the managers are really great. I enjoy helping customers and eating reduced-price lunches. If nothing else works out soon with another temp or full-time position, I might take on more hours at Panera. We'll see though.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Winter Weather

This morning there was major frost on my car that I had to scrape off before I could leave for work. In Florida everyone said I was ridiculous for holding onto my ice scraper, but I was extremely glad this morning it was still in my car! Not only did I not have to spend any money on it while I'm extremely broke, but I also didn't have to be without it on the first frost day (because I definitly didn't expect that to be today.) And I'm also happy to report that after two years of looking longingly at my winter coat, I've finally gotten to wear it again here in Washington. The morning temperatures are usually in the mid-30s and the afternoons are in the 50s, and sometimes the 60s. I'm also excited to have full use of my sweaters again. In Florida I only wore a few light ones, now I can wear the wool and heavy ones too. I'm a little bummed out because I really like the warmth of my winter coat, but it doesn't provide the rain protection I need. And my rain jacket is too light to wear by itself in the winter. I guess I'll be asking for some type of North Face winter jacket for Christmas.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Not to sound pathetic or anything...

The career hunt continues. But I thought you would be interested to read this snippet from an article in a local magazine. It reinforces what I said last week about Seattle being full of smarties.

"Hey Genius. Yeah you. Holding the magazine, your brow all bunched up in thought. Not that it's news to you, but you're living in the brainiest city on the planet. Seattle ranks as the most literate and educated place in America. We have the most bookstores, the highest number of advanced degrees. And we are changing the world. Again.....Let's face it, geeks run the planet and Seattle is the geekiest place there is." -article from Seattle Metropolitan, October 2007

And I've talked to a few fellow employees at my temp position, who are also very smart, have advanced degrees, etc., and found that they also took several months to find positions once they moved here. It makes me feel a little better to know that I'm not alone. I just don't want my friends, family, or past colleagues to be disappointed in me or feel that I'm just plain stupid or terrible interviewing! So instead, I'm choosing to be pathetic in a different way, and every time I find or hear something that shows it's not entirely my fault that I don't have a career yet, I must let you know! (Don't get me wrong, I'm not a complete ego-maniac. I'm sure that my interviewing skills could be better. I tend to start out nervous and uncomfortable, and finish strong. But I don't know if the strong finish outweighs the bad start.)

So that's all from the West Coast. I wish I could tell you that we did some cool Washington activity recently, but I'm so tired from working all the time that we never go out. To celebrate Robb's birthday on Wednesday we just went to the fancy grocery store and got a smorgasbord of food from the deli. We are an exciting bunch here. Let's hope I get a real job soon, not only so I don't feel so pathetic, but also so that we can afford to go out again and I can regal you in my blog stories and pictures.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Semi-Famous Blogger

Well my blog is getting a little famous! It seems that another blogger has found my blog intersting and is including it in his list of the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Blogosphere." His comment is copied below.

"It will be interesting, I think, to share the adventures in your new home. And I'm pleased to tell you that Beautiful Rainy Days Ahead has been included in the newest {updated} edition of A Hitchhiker's Guide To The Blogosphere.One last thing, I'm hosting the carnival of cities Monday. You look like you have some posts that will be great!!"

His site is at: Scroll down to Wed. Oct. 10 to see my blog listed.

By the way, I NEVER thought I would write a blog. This isn't my normal style, but I'm glad I started it and I hope that family, friends, and strangers continue to find it interesting.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Career Hunt

I despise career hunting. I call it that because I’m not looking for just a job right now, I’m looking for a career path. A career to me, means utilizing my education and training in a long-term way to make money to live, while at the same time enjoying my 9-5 responsibilities. To find my career is much more difficult here than I ever imagined.

I came from a community in Florida where I knew lots of people and had made fairly good networking connections. I feel that I could have found a job there fairly quickly. However, in Seattle I am just starting to meet people that can help me in my job search. So much of job hunting comes from who you know, and I don’t know very many people yet. Another problem here is the job market. While there are lots of nonprofit organizations in this region, people interested in nonprofit management know this and flood the market. Seattle is a high cost-of-living area with a good reputation for jobs, so the job market is flooded with recent college and masters grads, just like me. I was talking to someone yesterday and she said that in this area, a bachelor’s degree here is like a high school diploma in other areas and my master’s degree is only equivalent to a bachelor’s.

So the career hunt continues. In the meantime we need to start paying some bills, so I’ve got a couple of temporary jobs. I work 7 days a week right now. Depending on the day I need to get up between 4:00 and 5:30. I’m a little tired and look forward to a break, but I like making money and not sticking around the house. (Just to let you know, Robb’s not hanging out on his laurels. He had a temp job last week sorting ballots for a nonprofit election, and spent this week applying for hourly positions to help pay bills.) I just finished the first week of a three-week temp position at a mental health facility. I basically answer the phones and pass on messages to people in the intake/admissions department. The good thing about this job is that I learned how to take the bus from Federal Way all the way to Seattle . It only costs me $2.00 each way and it actually takes a little less time (about an hour) and is less stressful than driving my car. Plus I save the environment and can sleep or read on the bus.

And on the weekends I am working as an opener for Panera Bread. On Saturday I have to be there at 5:00am, and Sunday at 6:00am. I put out the bread/pastries that have been baking all night and then am a cashier. It’s interesting because Panera’s have just started opening here in the past couple of years, so tons of people come in and have never been there before. I just can’t imagine not knowing what Panera is, or thinking that it’s a cool new local bakery.

Next week I’m going to a nonprofit career fair and at the end of October I’m going to a very large public administration career fair. And I’m starting to get this networking thing down. I started attending King County Young Democrats meetings. I’ve been to two meetings so far, and everyone is very nice and told me about some good websites and sources to look for jobs. And next week I meet with the development director of this mental health facility to talk about the nonprofit realm in Seattle . Please keep your fingers crossed that something works out soon!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Pike Place Market

On Saturday we were desperate to get out of the house. Plus, Robb had a temp job starting on Monday in downtown Seattle, so we figured we'd head over there so he could scout out the area. When spending time downtown, Robb has discovered that parking costs are outrageous. So we park near the Seattle Center and then walk a couple of miles to downtown/Pike Place. The Seattle Center is where the Space Needle is, as well as the venues for the ballet/opera. "Our" parking garage there costs only $6 for the entire day!

We walked along the waterfront to get to Pike Place Market and were very pleased that it was raining! We finally got to use our rain jackets. When we got to Pike Place we decided to eat and chose Pike Place Chowder. We ordered a variety sampler and while everything was good, we must say that the New England clam chowder was the best we've ever had. Absolutely amazing. After the chowder we grabbed some doughnuts from the Daily Dozen Doughnuts. They make mini-doughnuts fresh in the market and the line was incredibly long because they smelled so good. The Pike Brewing Company was next on our list and we each tried a local beer. I'm not a huge beer fan in general, but Robb liked both of the brews we tried. After that we tried a beef and curry humbow from a street vendor. This is the second humbow I've tried, and while they're interesting, I don't think I'll get one again. The bread that surrounds the filling is topped with something sweet, and I just can't get over the sweetness and the savory. Our final food stop was The Confectional. This little bakery specializes in mini-cheesecakes and cheesecake truffles. We tried a sampling and OH MY GOD! Robb made sure to pick up a brochure and remind me that his birthday is this month.

Now, a little disclaimer. This sounds like a ton of food. And don't get me wrong, it was a decent amount. But, we shared everything and got small things so that we could sample a lot. And as hard as it was, I managed to resist stopping in Pirosky Pirosky to get a cheddar/potato pirogi. Next time we go to Pike Place Market I'll definitely be getting one of those again. And we really want to try Beecher's. This place makes cheese and are renowned for their homemade mac and cheese. Plus, their sandwiches look pretty good.

Pike Place Market is obviously more than just restaurant vendors. However, we're on a budget and didn't spend the money on the beautiful bouquets of flowers, crafts, or art. And unfortunately, we had just stocked up on fruits and veggies, so we didn't need any fresh produce. But ultimately, Pike Place Market is a great place to people watch and, obviously, eat tons of local food. It's interesting because it's obviously a huge tourist destination in Seattle. But it's also still very important to the locals. Many Seattleites still buy their produce there and eat at the food booths during their lunch break. And the vendors are a great mix of silly tourist crap and real crafts.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Mt. Rainer - Spray Falls

I promise that this won't morph into a hiking-only blog. The problem is, that hiking is the cheapest way for us to get out of the house. It has finally turned cold, windy, and rainy though, so our hiking for this season is probably just about over. We knew the weather was turning soon, so last week we went out on the last sunny day that was forecasted. Spray Falls Trail takes quite awhile to get to. The road to get to the trail head is several miles of unpaved road. In fact, the road closes on October 8 or after the first snowfall because it isn't regularly maintained by rangers. The trail itself is considered easy and was about 5.5 miles round trip. It had great views of Mt. Rainer (the side we hadn't seen before), a towering waterfall, and started/ended by Mowich Lake. The most interesting thing about hiking around Mt. Rainer is how different all of the trails and areas are. Robb and I really feel as though every hike we go on has something completely different and amazing to see. For example, this lake was absolutely gorgeous (very blue, clear, and deep) and we saw a cray-fish crawling around. Who expects that kind of wilderness spotting on a mountain hike?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

No Fall Television

Before Robb and I even decided to move to Washington, we determined that in our next home we would not pay for cable. One reason was to save a little bit of money. But more importantly, we thought it would be nice to break our addiction to television. I was tired of being tied down to the television, worrying about getting back in time to make a favorite TV show, choosing not to go out or exercise because something interesting (or more likely, addicting, stupid and pointless) was going to be on. I was tired of having the television on all the time, just for background noise. So we decided not to hook up our cable. We have hundreds of movies and dozens of television shows on DVD. So if we get bored we just pop in something we already own (and chances are, I haven't even watched yet.) If we want some news, we go to

But, now that the fall television shows are debuting, it's a little bittersweet to not watch them. And, I hate to admit it, but I miss local news. It's nice to turn on the TV and see what's happening in our community (even if the reporting is pathetic and laughable). So sometimes when I go to the gym at our apartment complex, I turn on the TV there and head straight for local news. I think it will be difficult to not watch the Superbowl so maybe we'll head to a bar that day. But really, I don't miss TV that much. And I think I'll miss it even less once I have a job and I'm not sitting around the house all day. I encourage others to consider breaking the addiction.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Grown-up Furniture

Last week our new bedroom furniture and mattress was delivered. Yup, we keep spending money while not making it! This is our last purchase for awhile. (This is a pic of our furniture; this is not our room, our furniture is a lot closer together in our tiny bedroom.) This is our first real 'grown-up' furniture; it feels really great to have furniture that will hopefully last us a lifetime. And the more I look at it, the more I love it. The dark brown wood is beautiful and the furniture "lines" are classic and non-frilly. We even have a TV stand for our bedroom, which seems really unusual, but is very convenient. And it's really nice to have a mattress that's not a hand-me-down. So yeah, for me, being grown-up doesn't mean that you're done with school or married or moving across country. It means buying coordinating grown-up furniture that is not from Target, Wal-Mart, or relatives!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Weekend in Virginia/Maryland

Since I am still unemployed, I was able to take a long weekend to go to my friend Christine's wedding in Virginia. To save money (and because he's not the biggest fan of weddings or flying) Robb stayed in Seattle this weekend and worked on the apartment; we are now officially done unpacking. Flying out of Seattle early Thursday morning was beautiful. It's the first time I've flown in the area and as we came out of the morning fog we were hit with spectacular views of the mountains including Mount Rainer and several other snow capped peaks. And when I eventually made it to Reagan National Airport (after many delays and missed connections due to bad weather) at 11:30 at night I saw the Capitol building and Washington Monument lit by spotlights.

I spent the weekend with my sister and her boyfriend in Gaithersburg, Maryland. She is going to start an incredible new job at the Pentagon in a week, so she was in desperate need of professional clothes. I helped her pick out some amazing pieces and a beautiful suit on Friday. That evening Christine invited to me to join her and the bridesmaids at her beautifully renovated condo. I spent a couple of hours catching up with my college friends. On Saturday I met my good friend Michelle for lunch (at a vegetarian restaurant where I ate, and enjoyed, soy protein for the first time) and then joined Christine and the girls at the mall while they were getting their make-up finished. They were so nice to include me in the entire day, even though I wasn't a bridesmaid. So I helped transport them from place to place, took some lovely pictures, and then watched the beautiful wedding ceremony and observed a very happy couple at the gorgeous reception.

On Sunday I didn't have to catch my flight until the evening, so my sis, her boyfriend, and I spent the morning eating breakfast, playing Wii, and Scattergories. In the afternoon we headed to the Gaitherburg Festival (which was a lot better than Federal Way's Festival Days) and saw Sister Hazel play.

Now that I'm back in Washington State, I'm going to concentrate again on applying for jobs. Last week I had an interview for a Project Coordinator with a local nonprofit, which I think went fairly well. I should hear back next week from them. And I have an interview lined up for this upcoming Friday for a Management Analyst for the state of Washington. So, slowly but surely, I'm starting to have hope that I will be employed before October.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Unbelievably Weird Interview

Yesterday I went to one of the strangest interviews for the most bizarre organization I've ever seen. The company (I'll call it AS) is a sales company that sells giant tents to private companies, the military, etc. The CEO of AS is a very rich man and has a foundation; he is the only contributor to the foundation and the foundation's purpose is to reduce homelessness. The primary way they do this is enter countries that have had disasters and massive amounts of displacement and provide tents and money to help alleviate the problem. They're especially proud of their work in Pakistan after the earthquakes a few years ago. I applied for a job as a foundation assistant. I was grossly overqualified for the position. It sounded a bit like a secretary, but there were also key words in the job description that made it sound as some strategic planning and programming might be involved. So I applied and was excited to be called for an interview to at least learn more about the position.

Before the interview I first tried to research the foundation. There was no website and really no record of the foundation in a typical google search. I then decided to research the company AS. Their website didn't provide a lot of information and there wasn't much information about them. However, I came across a search engine for jobs that allowed for people to ask questions about companies and how to best interview for them. I found the blog/commentary for AS and read the 76 comments with amusement and a little incredulation. This company sounds insane. There was information about the CEO being rude and crazy (acting drunk during the interview process to see people's reactions), being required to work from 6am-4pm, and 6-12 on Saturdays, employees being required to sell products without knowing anything about the product, etc. So, I decided even before the interview that I would probably not work for this organization, but I'd still go to the interview for the practice and so that I could see if these comments were true.

I searched for the 990 forms for the foundation (the most basic tax forms that are required to be a nonprofit organization). 990's show the assets of the organization, who contributes to them, how much they spend money on, etc. The 990's showed that they only had about $800,000 worth of assets and donated about $20,000 in 2005. That's not really a large amount of money in the foundation world. So I decided I would ask them about this in the interview. I was hoping that they were wanting to grow the foundation and make it better, and that's why they were hiring a new position.

The interview was on Friday, originally scheduled for 8am, but the day before pushed to 7am. (Good to miss most of rush hour, but bad because this place is about an hour away from me.) I get to the AS offices and find that there are a total of 7 people being interviewed for various positions (sales, IT, etc.) at the same time. As we're waiting for the interview to start, we are handed a printout of the blog/comments that I had read in the previous days. We were then shown into a conference room and everything I read in the blog/comments comes true. Three interviewers sit on the other side of a conference table with their mac laptops open and do not introduce themselves. One of the other interviewee's asked for their names and they seemed to reluctantly give them to us. They then asked us one by one what we thought of the strange blog/comments we had read. Most people said that it was concerning, but they like to form their own opinions about the organization and don't take a lot of stock in the Internet comments. However, the interviewers kept asking if we had more questions about the blog and we must have concerns about what it says. At one point another AS man came into the interview and began explaining how the company worked. He said that they are so successful because they do the opposite of what every other sales company does. Their turnover rate is 96%. They want it to be at 99% because then that shows they weeded out the weaklings. The salespeople do not know anything about the products they are selling. They are supposed to be rude to the customers. It was obvious to me (after reading the blog/comments) that this man was the CEO of the company. However, at one point someone asked him who he was and he said he was just a salesman who had worked there for a few years. He didn't give out his name. He kept talking about how great the CEO was, what a wonderful businessman he was and how much he just wanted to help people. It was actually quite amusing.

I then asked about the foundation. I asked if they donated more than $20,000 in 2005, as their 990 said. They said that they gave away millions. I persisted and asked why it wasn't listed on their 990. They said they didn't know what a 990 was. After I explained it and it's importance, the CEO said that they don't waste time on paperwork because that means you're not spending time helping people. And it's especially stupid to waste time on government paperwork, because the government is terrible and doesn't really care about helping people at all. I later asked if the foundation had a strategic plan or goals and I got the same type of answer. Working on a strategic plan or writing out goals means you're not spending time getting into the nitty-gritty of helping people. To me, that implies that because I would be interested in filing the correct tax forms and consider working on a strategic plan, means that I don't truly care about helping people. At this point I was truly convinced that this foundation might even be a complete scam and a way for the CEO to get massive tax breaks.

Never during this interview did they ask us about our skills and our qualifications. They just talked about their organization and asked us to react to that. At the end of the interview we were told that after hearing about how different AS was,we needed to decide if we were still interested in working for them. If we were, then we would have to call back AS and set up another interview. I will not be calling them back. And I'm even contemplating reporting them to the IRS or something of the sort. At least the interview was entertaining.

On another note, I went to a temp agency the other day and hopefully I'll be getting called next week to do some temp work. I'm very proud of my typing score at above 70 words a minute!

(Well, alright, I was going to be discrete about this company, but I think they're so weird you have the right to know about them if you want. Here's the link to the blog/comments I was telling you about. They're obviously proud of themselves if they feel they can print out negative comments and tell the interviewees to read them. )

Friday, August 31, 2007

Mt. Rainer - Skyline Trail

Yesterday we went on one of the most spectacular hikes I've ever been on. Skyline Trail is in a section of Mt. Rainer park called Paradise. After driving 2 hours to get to the trail head, we reached the 5.2 mile loop. It ascended 1500 feet in the first 2 miles and is considered a moderate level hike. We were literally right next to Mt. Rainer. Many hikers who summit Mt. Rainer use this trail to begin their climb. We passed many of these hikers and their huge backpacks of gear going both up and down. We saw pheasants, chipmunks, marmots, and deer. We hiked above the treeline to see uninterrupted views of the mountains and alpine meadows. At the end of our hike was a beautiful little waterfall with Rainer in the backdrop. (Special note, if you plan to hike this high up and above the treeline, don't forget sunscreen. I now have a very red farmer's tan.) I've posted tons of pictures below, but really you should just plan on visiting me next summer so that I can take you there personally.

Deer at the beginning of our hike

Mt. Rainer at the beginning of our hike.

Mt. Rainer at the beginning of our hike.

The ice flow coming down behind us is Nisqually Glacier.

Marmot sunning on the rocks.

Me and Mt. Rainer near the top of our hike.

Mt. Rainer (notice again the glacier).

Mt. Rainer as we are coming down the mountain, notice the terrain changing.

Alpine Meadows
Alpine Stream
This bench is a monument to the men who first made a successful summit of Mt. Rainer.
Myrtle Falls
This is a view of Mt. Rainer towards the end of our hike.