Archive for the 'Celebrations' Category

4 years from now…

I saw an interesting article about celebrating Leap Day by eating a meal you’d only have every four years. Unfortunately, I just read this article and Leap Day is nearly over…and I had your pretty generic run of the mill meals today. Nothing memorable.

I wish I had done something to mark this day…something I could reflect upon four years from now. Instead, I spent most of the day doing what I do most other days – working. But perhaps I can prognosticate about what I think our life will be the next time Leap Day rolls around.

Four years from now…

  • Micah and I will have a house!
  • We will still both be working for Nordstrom
  • We will have travelled internationally (I’m thinking Europe)
  • We will have another niece or nephew (not saying from who)
  • We will still be active and in as good of shape as we are today
  • We won’t be driving the same cars we are today
  • We will have gone bungee-jumping, skydiving – or something similar

It’s really hard to do this. What would you predict for yourself four years from now?

Our perfect staycation celebration

As you know, Micah and I just celebrated our 1 year anniversary. Woo hoo! We opted to spend the weekend over in downtown Bellevue…which is a mere 20 miles away. But it was the perfect setting to relax and celebrate!

Since we are quite familiar with that area of town, we felt no obligation to go out and sightsee. We already know the streets and general direction of things, so there was no looking at maps and figuring out where to go. We already knew the restaurants we wanted to try out, so there was no fumbling trying to determine dress codes, hours of operation, etc. We thoroughly got to enjoy our upgraded suite at the Hyatt – which is conveniently connected via skybridge to all the places we wanted to go. We never had to get in our car…everything was in walking distance. Again, totally perfect!

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Since the general setting wasn’t very new to us, we made sure to make it feel new by trying out all these great places around us.

Hotel: The Hyatt Bellevue in downtown is really nice. The employees are all very friendly, and if you go over the weekend – it’s actually less busy (since most business travelers will be gone). They were completely willing to give us a complimentary upgrade to a suite –which was sweet! They have an awesome gym and a heated lap pool – both of which we took advantage of.

Blue C Sushi: The happy hour here is great! And the green tea is amazing! We got here for early happy hour,  which was a late lunch for us. But had some delicious sushi at great prices.

Comedy Room at Parlor Lounge: We tried something new and went to a comedy show. The Parlor Room has a great venue for this. We bought tickets online, got a little dressed up, and had some great drinks and laughs.

Daniel’s Broiler: We headed here for late night happy hour after the comedy show. It was packed! But we found some tables and feasted on some raw oysters and steak bites. A great way to more affordably eat at this top steak restaurant.

Din Tai Fung: I was super excited to eat here. This place has been open for over a year, but the lines out the door and wait times have barely decreased. But since we were about a 3 minute walk away, we were able to easily get in line right before the restaurant opened for the day. We feasted on absolutely delicious wonton and dumplings. YUM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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These bad boys are pure bites of awesomeness. We ordered two of these – sooo delish!!!

Purple Wine Bar: After a good nap, work out, and general laziness – we headed out for happy hour again for our late lunch. (Another bonus of this area – so many places have awesome happy hours over the weekend). I’ve been to Purple several times before, but never for happy hour. We thoroughly enjoyed it. They have amazing food and wine pairings for a really decent price. Plus, they have THE BEST BREAD AND BUTTER EVER! We couldn’t stop ourselves!

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So amazing…we asked for a second round!

El Gaucho: This was the last leg of our feasting anniversary weekend. We went here for late night happy hour – and had such an amazing meal. El Gaucho is one of the premiere steak and seafood restaurants in Seattle (with two locations: Seattle and Bellevue). The food here ain’t cheap – and neither of us have eaten here before. But for happy hour – you can get some amazing drinks (I loved my dirty martini for $6) and amazing food (spicy, tender steak bites. MMMM!!). Plus, since it was for our anniversary, we had to try the banana bread pudding.

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So delicious! Even Micah was savoring every bite!

So that is the end. We filled in the times between eating with all sorts of lounging, shopping, TV watching, book reading, and sleeping. It was awesome! With our crazy and hectic lives of lately – this was the most perfect way for us to celebrate! Too bad that once we got home, I immediately had to work. Boooo!

One year already!?

anniversary

The year has flew by…but we have loved every day and every minute of it. Being married is awesome!

If only we could celebrate every anniversary by being in Hawaii or someplace else tropical…alas, that is not a possibility.

However, we are currently spending our anniversary lounging about, relaxing, and enjoying a good meal over in Bellevue. We opted to use some rewards points for a nice hotel and spend a couple days outside of our house. With our crazy life these past couple of months – nothing says love more than allowing yourself to be lazy bums!!

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Such a fun day for us!

P.S. In case you are wondering – that top picture is from some wedding pictures we had taken while we lived in Korea. I’ll blog more about that later.

Merry Christmas

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Extreme gingerbread house makeover

To help jumpstart getting into the holiday spirit, the day after Thanksgiving, Micah and I, and some of our friends headed to downtown Seattle to check out the 19th Annual Gingerbread Village held at the Sheraton Hotel. 

graham cracker house

A fairly accurate example of what my “gingerbread” house would look like.  Just add a more dizzying array of sprinkles, and candy canes.

Unlike the shack you see above, these gingerbread houses mansions are gigantic and utterly amazing…and they’ve been doing this for 19 years!  In addition to it being a festive sort of thing to do, it’s also a fundraiser for diabetes research. 

From their website: “Each year local architecture firms collaborate with the Sheraton Seattle culinary team to custom design, bake, and build awe-inspiring gingerbread displays.”

Here are just some of the ones on display.

 

Kangaroo “reindeer” – very cute…and edible!

It’s a fun and quick thing to check out if you are in the downtown area.  It’s free, but donations accepted.  The lines are surprisingly quite long.

Micah, me, Charissa, Gabe, Naomi, and Vann

Is it a boy? A girl? Let’s ask the cake!

Last Saturday my friend Tarah and I threw our friends Aaron and Regina a baby shower.  Although this will be their second baby, they still wanted to have some type of event for their friends and family to partake.  I convinced them to have a Gender Reveal Baby Shower. 

I happened to catch a segment on Today about this new fun twist in traditional baby showers.  Here’s how it works:

  • When it’s time to identify the gender, the parent(s) go in for the ultrasound, but are NOT told. 
  • Rather, the gender is written down on a piece of paper and given to a baker (or nice friend who you trust) Smile
  • The baker then bakes a cake, coloring the cake to reflect pink (girl) or blue (boy)
  • Frost it with gender-neutral frosting – and voila’ – you now have a very secretive cake.
  • Assemble friends and family for the baby shower, and the parent(s) cut the cake – to reveal to themselves, and others – if it’s a boy or girl!  Fun, right?

So our friends were not willing to keep it a secret from themselves. (Boo…I tried hard to convince them!)  But they did agree that only them, Tarah, and I would know.  But all their friends and family would have to wait for the cake cutting.

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So here is the cake that I made for them. 

  • I made a vanilla cake from scratch (and just added food coloring).
  • I used a box cake mix to make the cake pops (the cute cake-on-a-stick that make up the ‘question mark’)
  • And homemade buttercream frosting to hide the cake color (and all the imperfections)

Sorry, I don’t have a picture of Aaron and Regina cutting the cake. But…when they did….the cake was BLUE!!

the girls

Congrats to our awesome friends!!! 

Prost! Prost! Beer! Camping!

We had such a fun weekend camping over in Leavenworth and attending the Oktoberfest festivities.  Since lodging for this popular event is hard to come by (and we definitely wanted to be in the free shuttle area), we opted to go camping at a nearby site.  P.S. “Prost” is German for “cheers!”

Our new German friends, Marc and Holger (both on short-term assignment at my work), joined us – and they definitely got to experience camping, American-style.  They were soooo amazed at how luxurious our camping is (and really, it’s nothing that spectacular or out of the ordinary).  Apparently, in Germany when you go camping, you can’t build a fire in your campsite and eating ravioli straight from the can is not all that uncommon.  Plus, they had no idea what SMORES were!

Marc and Holger are the two guys on the left.  They were quite excited about the chorizo egg breakfast burritos that Gabe and Charissa had prepared Saturday morning.

I’ll just give you some of the highlights of our very fun weekend:

  • Friday was the last day of September and also the last day of my no meat challenge.  How ironic that our neighbors (camping in that sweet RV you see in the background of the pic) generously gave us two massive T-bone steaks…that I did not eat.  I resisted.  But the boys did not. 

  • Five of the eight of us dressed up, in “true” Bavarian style!  Vann (far left) was mistaken all day as either a 1) hobbit 2) leprechaun 3) elf or 4) simply called “little feller.”  Naomi (next to Vann), she MADE her outfit out of green felt…it was seriously bad ass.

  • The boys – Oktoberfesting and loving it!

  • The girls – hokey pokey-ing and loving it!

  • There were lots of fun bands playing in the different tents. 

  • How could we resist this pic opportunity?

  • Smores!  Marc and Holger loved these!
  • Saturday was the first day of October, and thus, the start of my new 31 day no sweets challenge.  Thus, I could no longer enjoy any of this Smores deliciousness. Sad smile

 

We all had a really fabulous time!!  And although we were a bit slow and dehydrated come Sunday morning – it was well worth it!  Plus, we lucked out and didn’t get rained on.

Auf wiedersehen!!

Lederhosen and Leavenworth…it’s Oktoberfest time!

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We’ve never really properly celebrated Oktoberfest before.  So this year, we plan to do it right!  A weekend trip to Leavenworth (a little Bavarian town) where we will drink beer, eat sausage and sauerkraut (yes, by this time it will be Oct 1st – which means I can eat meat again!), and partake in the celebrations.

I was thinking Micah would look great in some lederhosen.  What do you think? 

Bachelorette party, yurt-style

Just came back from a super fun overnighter bachelorette party for my friend Karen.  (She was a bridesmaid in our wedding and I’m one in hers in…just about a month from now).

She opted for a girl’s getaway filled with wine tasting, delicious food eating, yoga and…yurts at Cave B Inn, which is located on the Cave B Estate Winery in Eastern Washington near Quincy, WA.

I’ve never stayed in a yurt before, and really – didn’t know what one looked like.  I can’t say all yurts out there are quite as luxurious as the ones we stayed in though.

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YURTS! It’s basically a hybrid of a small wood cabin + tent.  Some have electricity (ours did), some include bathrooms (ours did), and some even have TVs (ours did not).

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Inside our yurt.  It was surprisingly big.  It had a queen bed, plus a leather semi-sectional sofa to the side, mini-fridge, and small table.

And check out the bathroom! It’s huge!! (The toilet is hidden but to the right).  This sucker is bigger than our own master bath!

So those were our yurts. Really fun way to go. They were a bit of a hike from the main parts of the winery and inn – which made it a pain to drop off your bags since we couldn’t park cars near there. 

For those who aren’t so yurty – Cave B did also have actual nice, bedroom units that dot the hillside and have an amazing view of the Columbia River.

IMAG0081We learned that this whole region was carved out in only 129 years by the melting and subsequent flooding of a massive glacier in Missoula, MT (some 13,000+ years ago).  The virulent floodwaters carved out the series of canyon-like channels that are abundant in this region.  Normally, extreme landscape change such as this would take thousands of years…so 129 is pretty damn spectacular!

Ok, less nerd – more summary of the weekend.  I’ll just touch on the highlights.

Group yoga: Upon arrival, about eight of us did some 90 min of group yoga.  We had our own private instructor and he led us through a series of common and not so common yoga moves.  It was fun and very low key and relaxing (there wasn’t the pressure of having to be a perfect yogi).  

Wine tour: After checking in to our yurts – and having the weather take a serious sour turn, we embarked on our private wine tour.  The really awesome thing was having the owner of the estate lead the tour for us girls. He gave us lots of really interesting stories of his estate, education about wine and wine-related geography and was fascinating to listen to.  I will impart one of his educational tidbits upon you:

  • A wine estate refers to a winery in which the grapes are grown and harvested on the property, and the wine is made and bottled on the property.  A 100% internal operation from start to finish.  Pretty cool.
  • Okay, one more thing. In the U.S. (with its vast ability to import wines from pretty much every region in the world), there are about 80,000+ wines that consumers can choose from.  Ouch – that’s some harsh competition.

Wine blending: After our tour, we went to the tasting room where we had the opportunity to blend our own wines and eat cheese and crackers.  Since my wine knowledge is quite limited, I just enjoyed sampling the different wines – and let others play mixologist. 

Mix away! Or do as I did…drink a little of this, with a little of that. Smile

Dinner: We moved on to dinner-time, despite stuffing ourselves silly with previous activity’s cheese and crackers.  Our dinner consisted of a three-course AMAZING dinner – each paired with different wines. It was so much fun and each course was seriously awesome.

Bachelorette festivities!  Sorry, what happens in Karen’s yurt, stays in Karen’s yurt. Smile  We opened some gifts, played some party-appropriate games, and stuff like that.  Oh, and got about five noise warnings.  Seriously, these yurts have ZERO sound minimizing ability…but we were having a party, and we’d been drinking wine for the past four hours!

Spa time: The following morning, some girls opted for massages at the spa (myself included).  It was so nice and relaxing!

Pool time: The weather was hot and sunny for oh…long enough for me to decide to go to the pool and lay down for about 15 minutes.  Then it got cloudy and cold.

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That’s all folks.  A super fun weekend for a super fun bachelorette!

Easter eggs with M&M yolk

Happy Easter everyone!!  As I eluded to earlier, I wanted to make rice krispy treat eggs for Easter this year.  I gathered up the ingredients and egged Micah on to help me out.  Hee hee!  Find the recipe and instructions here.

I think they turned out absolutely eggdorable…albeit, much HUGER than a normal egg (hence not quite fitting in a standard egg carton).

We didn’t quite get a dozen eggs, but had I not been snacking while making them – we possibly could have made it. Smile

 

We ended up just throwing in about four or five peanut M&Ms in the middle.  It took a bit of practice before we got it down.  My first was was about the size of an ostrich egg, not chicken. 

My egg-cellent husband!!!


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