Engineering Happiness

Our baby just hit 1000 miles. Sniff.

A lot has happened in the past few months!

You all know about my career transition plans and goals, but my goodness there’s been a lot going on since I last wrote about it. To make a long story short, I posted about it over on my other blog,

Go read it. I’ll wait. In the meantime, look at Chester hatching a giraffe:

This is how Chester shows love.

Cute, right?

Oh, you’re back! Pretty cool, eh? New awesome career -> acquired. 😀

Since I have Awesome New Job, I finally quit Ye Olde Part Tyme Jobbe! With the travel opportunities that my new job offers in addition to the more demanding nature of the position, I need to have my full weekends back. Before, when I was slogging away in Cubicle Hell, I only needed a full day off to recharge. Now? I have much bigger plans!

We also bought a new car! We traded in the old 2003 Mazda Protegé for a 2013 Nissan Juke SL in Sapphire Black. She’s pretty. And fast. And awesome.

Next, I get to go to San Francisco for the first time in May – completely non-work related, funny enough. Our good friends Jason and Vicky (our only in-person guests at our wedding) from the UK are taking a California trip in May and we decided to meet up with them in SF for a few days. I’m very excited. Might have to get in touch with a few friends that live out there to meet for coffee or cocktails. I can’t wait!

Finally (I told you there were a lot of things!), I’m getting back into running and healthier eating after I saw myself in a fitting room mirror today. Who put my head on this fat body? I had been getting back to running on a more regular basis, but as always, I can’t run away a bad diet. The standing desk has really helped in my form and I’m not having as many hip issues like I used to. Score!

Since I don’t have the temptation to eat out for lunch all the time like I used to when I worked downtown, I’m going to refocus my energies into eating healthier and dropping some of this winter coat I’ve acquired. A goal I can stick with!

Hell, if I can transform my work life in 6 months, I can transform my body…right?

So that’s the latest in the life of ye olde Blogkitten! Keep an eye on my other blog as that will be more focused on the tech things I get interested in. And a lot of my Instagram photos. 🙂

Happy blogging!

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted

I just noticed that I’ve used this post title two other times (as referenced by the addition of “-3” to the permalink of this post!)…well, so I’m a Go-Go’s fan. So sue me!

Earlier this month, Tim and I took a vacation to Vancouver, BC. Per our usual, we didn’t take many pictures. We always have grand plans of taking a bunch of pictures, then we’re too busy absorbing our surroundings and having fun to stop and take photos. But we did take a few!

Here’s me at the Olympic village in Whistler, BC.
Somewhere between Vancouver and Whistler on the “Sea to Sky Highway.”

We had such an amazing trip. That Sea to Sky Highway was an hour and forty-five minutes one way of us driving and gawking at the scenery. We thought about taking photos in the car, but knew they wouldn’t convey the majesty that we were seeing in front of us. Stunning.

We really didn’t want to come home and we’re making plans to return – once we go to Seattle, that is!


What? A new post?


I am going to start posting on here again as a lot of the things I want to write about don’t apply to the mission over at HealthKitten. To be frank, I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be blogging over there. So, I’ll put the update here.

1. Health. Good, for the most part. Getting a foam roller has really helped with my IT band issues. However, I haven’t been able to put on the miles like I did back in 2010 when I did my first half marathon. Mainly because I haven’t been running through the pain like I used to. That mindset literally bit me in the ass last year and kept me from running for 3-4 months. Stress has also been a factor in my lack of mileage. While running is a stress reliever, my mind hasn’t been in the right place to really train effectively.

Weight is stable, but I can stand to lose some pounds. Having no gym membership that would give me access to a scale, I ended up buying one of the Fitbit Aria scales as a present (more on that later). After an arduous setup, it’s been neat getting my weight and body fat percentages. Now that I’m monitoring things, I’m trending downward. Result!

2. Food. The garden has been a mix of successes and failures. Successes: kale, tomatillos, and summer squash. Failures: peas, green beans and peppers (jalepeno, poblano, bell). The already-established asparagus, rhubarb, and strawberry patches gave us a great bounty as well.

I’ve been having issues with other people’s recipes lately. Mainly because they’re just not that good. I made a mushroom stroganoff the other night that was dreadful; bland and all the leftovers just went into the bin. There’s another food blogger with a great following that has more misses than hits too. Everything of theirs that I make is just underwhelming…which baffles me as people rant and rave on their blog as to how “delicious” the stuff is. Perhaps I just have a more refined palette?

My greatest successes with cooking lately have been when I just improvise with the ingredients I have on hand. I made amazing tacos from summer squash, kale, pinto beans and homemade salsa verde. No measuring – I just threw in what looked right. And it was delicious. At our couple’s cabin retreat last weekend, I made two egg bakes for the morning we were responsible for breakfast: the ubiquitous sausage/cheddar and the vegetarian kale and artichoke (with swiss and gruyere cheese). Did I use a recipe? Nope. Was it awesome? Based upon everyone’s comments, I would say yes!

Stuff just seems to turn out when I cook with intuition.

Also, my lack of recipes (and lack of food photography) makes for a shitty blogging experience! More reason to blog here and not HK. 🙂

3. Work. Here’s where the big shakeup is happening. As of Friday, I no longer work at the law firm!!! Quitting that job was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. I had been struggling with the stresses of the job for months now, and almost two months ago, I figured out what I wanted to do: go back to web development.

How was I going to do that? Well, I immediately started finding resources to update my skill set that didn’t require me to 1) go back to college or 2) spend a bunch of money. I found a great resource at and I’ve been absorbing like a sponge the latest on HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript and jQuery. Next my plans are to learn PHP and get really good with the WordPress stack.

Then? Take over the world! Mwahahah! 😉

However, doing this on nights and weekends started to take its toll on my well-being (and cut into my half-marathon training time!). After a long, heartfelt discussion with Tim, we decided that I needed to devote more time to my career change and by reducing my work schedule to 3 days a week, I’ll have more time to study and work on any freelance projects I would land during this time.

Once that decision was made, there was no stopping me. I found, interviewed and landed a PT job within 48 hours and I put my two weeks notice in as soon as I had the offer in hand. I start the new job tomorrow, and I couldn’t be more excited. Initially I’ll be working as an Educational Coordinator, but in the interview process they mentioned (or more like offered?) that “we have a web development team here too…so maybe if you really like it here, you can transition there after this contract is up!”

Um, yes please?

Also, as word has gotten out over my departure from the law firm, a former colleague (who now has her own business) asked me if I could help her out with her website and what my rates would be! First potential freelance client and I haven’t even started yet! Woot!

When I put in my two weeks, it felt like the 900lb gorilla of stress finally got off my back. I didn’t realize how unhappy I’ve been until then and now I’m so happy and I’m super excited to get started on my new career. I was especially happy to finally get away from Windows XP and the stupid Websense filtering BS that the firm uses. The picture that is accompanying this post was from the last day of work. Bye bye, crappy OS! LOL!

I never could’ve taken this leap without the amazing support that Tim has given me. I’m so lucky to have him in my life. 🙂


Anyway, expect more from the ol’ ‘kitten in the future…along with some hawt new website action!

Writer's Block

Writer's block

I was suffering from a bit of a block these past few weeks.

Writer’s block.

(Yes, this is the post I started a week ago that I alluded to yesterday!)

I finally had an epiphany when I read two posts back on December 30th that really opened my eyes: one on my friend Justin’s blog and one from Kailey over on SnackFace (a blog was new to me as of last week). But both struck chords as to why I’m having such a hard time writing lately:

I’m trying too hard.

Trying too hard to be the “perfect” blogger writing Important Stuff™ that would Change People’s Lives™. Trying too hard to be the next friggin’ Martha Stewart with innovative recipes and perfect photography and everything else that woman manages to do in a day.

Martha Stewart
(I love you, Martha, but we should just be friends)

Continue reading Writer's Block


“Dammit, Carolyn, where have you been?”

(Um...doing know....stuff...)

Well, working. And socializing. And freaking out about things.

You wouldn’t think freaking out about things would take over a lot of your time, but you would be wrong.

I missed Christmas posts.

Missed New Year’s posts!

I was going to shoot for my look ahead to 2012 post, but I fear by the time I’ll get some time to do it, it will be my birthday.

(late January, for those keeping score)


(heh…said butt…*snort*)

Things are looking up! The things I was freaking out about are turning out pretty friggin awesome (more deets to come!) and I can finally finish my “here’s what I got for Christmas” post that I started on December 29th.

Carolyn 2
(Yeah! Rawk that shiz out!)

So no whining about it: 2012 is going to be the Best Year Ever™!

A Weekend of New Things

Pink Leopard @ Mt. Fuji,  Uptown Minneapolis

It’s been a weekend of shaking things up!

I tried Qigong. Qigong (pronounced “chee-gong”) is a practice of aligning breath, movement, and awareness for exercise, healing, and meditation. I picked up a DVD when I was replacing some long-lost favorite yoga DVDs.

I tried to get Tim to do yoga with me, but he had tendon replacement surgery in his right hand years ago and he can’t do a lot of poses that yoga requires (like downward dog) without a lot of pain. So, to give him the meditative benefits of yoga, I thought Qigong would be a good thing for us to try. I went through the first 5-10 minutes of the DVD before I did yoga and was pretty impressed. Might have to get him to do it with me tonight after my personal trainer session! 🙂

I discovered I love sushi. I’ve tried sushi before and hated it. What ended up being the case was the seaweed wrap on the sushi; I am not a fan. I’ve even tried the seaweed salad at my favorite Japanese restaurant and again, hated it. Which is sad because seaweed is FULL of nutrients!

Back to the sushi. We met our awesome friends for happy hour at a bar/restaurant nearby and had a great time. When it came time to decide where to go for dinner (we didn’t want to eat at the bar we were at), they all exclaimed they wanted sushi at the restaurant next door. Tim and I gave each other a nervous glance (Tim liked sushi as much as I did) and our friends said “they have other food too!”

Problem solved!

Except we were both feeling adventurous! 😉

So I ordered a small bowl of shrimp fried rice as my “just in case” dinner option and let our friends order for the table. I had sushi and sashimi and loved every bit of it! My new favorite rolls are the “Pink Leopard” (shown above) and the “Green Tea”. Both are wrapped in a soybean wrap and with no seaweed in sight!

We liked it so much, we considered going there for supper Sunday night! But clearer heads prevailed and we decided to go back later in the week! 🙂

Tim and I are going to become vegetarian (or even vegan). We watched most of the documentary “Forks Over Knives” Friday night and having seen “Food, Inc”, it just seems the right thing to do for our health. Also, since I’m a huge environmentalist, it just makes sense for the health of the planet.

I have a good friend who has been on a vegan diet for over a month now, and has been having fantastic results! This is a friend whose pastimes included curing meats (especially bacon!) and eating all things porcine. I’m going to interview him for the blog to get his story in the next week or two.

Yes, I know this flies in direct conflict with our new-found love of sushi. But, with any new process, it needs to be gradual: red meat first, then pork/chicken, then perhaps fish. We may just end up being pescetarians when this is all done. Which would let us continue to be sushi fanatics! 😀

What fun, new things did you do over the weekend?

Who Would Have Thought?

Who would have thought that I would’ve finished a half marathon this year? This coming from the woman who had “run a 10k” on her resolutions list for the past 5 years!

I was undertrained and nervous/anxious as hell (no really…I was completely irrational about it) going into the race on Saturday. Tim and I both took Friday off work so we could get down to Mankato at a reasonable time to pick up my race packet and other things.

Fun fact: Apparently croutons are the new performance food as I had a package of them in my race goodie bag! (also you can see how tired I was the night before the race)

Classic Seasoned Croutons - now with electrolytes!

It was a great course, aside from having to pee around mile 5, that wicked uphill near Mt. Kato around mile 8 and the odd feeling of running through the Sibley Park petting zoo between miles 10 and 11. I was surprised to the number of spectators and cheering crowds there were all along the course. Kept me motivated, that’s for sure!

When I was a 1/2 mile from the finish, the first of the full marathon runners blew past me on his way to a finish. I *just* beat the 2nd place marathon finisher…so I feel good about that.

My final time ended up being 2:37:28 (a 12:02 min/mi), which is right around what I was hoping to do! Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would actually be able to DO it! People have been asking me if I’d do another one again, and as of right now (after 2 days of having trouble going down stairs and sitting down in chairs because my leg muscles hate me) I don’t know. I think that if I do, I’ll do the Mankato one again next year…especially if they keep the same route.

For now…ibuprofen!