12.31.2013

2013 Review

Happy New Year's Eve! Joshua and I have felt very blessed in 2013. God has given us so much and 2014 already has more of his blessings in view and we are very excited for them. Here's a look back at our 2013:



Skied on a mountain for the first time, we both celebrated our quarter century birthdays, and we celebrated my birthday in Canada, headed to Turkey and Italy for our first times out of North America, I biked in a 59 mile charity ride, Joshua travelled to Portugal for work, finally made it to the top of the Space Needle, celebrated our second anniversary with a day kayaking, took a camping trip to Mt. St. Helen's, I bake my first cake for a client, did an epic co-worker camping trip and hike, celebrated the twins 21st birthday in Cinci, continued exploring all our beautiful mountians, pit stopped at Las Vegas on our way to a Thanksgiving camping trip in Zion, and flew home to celebrate Christmas with family.
 
Thank you to all the visitors, family, and friends who made this year so wonderful!

2012 review
2011 review

12.30.2013

Home for Christmas

We flew home to Cincinnati for Christmas again this year. It was very busy but also a very nice visit. We had brunch with someone different almost everyday and filled our stomachs with our Cincy favorites. Going back makes us miss it even more!

We were too involved to take many photos but here are a few :)



Dad made indian food for our family sleepover, we saw Christmas light dinosaurs, spent a night out with friends, had the first ever sibling bar night, and ate plenty of Skyline chili.

12.20.2013

Christmas Cards

I started out the Christmas card making process with ambitious ideas of block prints and multiple colors but I actually love the simplicity of where it ended up. It is happy and a little goofy.





It of course has a story: So the reindeer were flying along and singing Christmas carols fairly, taking turns, but then Rudolph takes over and selfishly bolts out a solo finishing the song himself- cause sometimes he's like that.

Guess what Seattle has snow this morning! It's quite lovely it is floating down very daintily.

Christmas Card 2012 & 2011

12.19.2013

Dressing Charlenne

We got around to decorating our Christmas tree late last week and she looks lovely. We danced around to some good ol folk music and sipped champagne and decorated her with everything from Big Mac, Disney character, cat, and handmade grade school clay ornaments. We wanted to try to fit every ornament on so she would look super festive. Plugging those lights in every night and sitting in front of them to chat and snuggle is currently my favorite time of day.



2012 and 2011 Christmas trees!

12.16.2013

Snowflakes

Our small group met up last week to do a white elephant gift exchange as well as cutting out a bunch of snowflakes together. I love these people! They don't ever just ask how you are but how the hard things in your life are. They are teaching us how to love better and go deeper and how to just be ourselves. They also taught us the proper way to cut out a snowflake- my mind was blown.

I love that we can all get together and eat cookies and cut out snowflakes and leave feeling closer to them and refreshed. They are all truly blessings in our lives and I love that in our busy lives they allow our times together to be thoughtful, slow, and a little (lot) silly.

12.13.2013

a cookie time of the year

My family has always made Christmas cookies. We make a bunch of different kinds and then intricately decorate sugar cookies to give away and eat too many of. So since moving out to Seattle Joshua and I make our own set to give to neighbors and coworkers. But cookies, on top of cards, on top of gifts, on top of work deadlines has left me feeling deflated. Our poor tree still isn't decorated and friends want to get together for Christmas dinners and drinks and I don't even have a date to give them when we're available.

Last night at midnight decorating cookies together, a little sullen, the more I iced cookies the more peaceful I felt. I made some of the snowmen look the same and decorated all the trees with only sprinkles, but I felt okay about it. I'm hoping to move forward with that - a peace at not being able to do everything and it not all working out the way I had it all set up and planned.

To my happiness though the cookies did still get done and decorated.
My favorites were one a snowflake that Joshua turned into a frog, a hula girl angel, and a fancy lady angel, and an angel that Joshua may have accidentally made into a demon looking guy.

 
Last few years cookies Here & Here

12.12.2013

Tree Shopping

We headed out to the same tree farm we went to last year and only had to wander around for about 10 minutes before we spotted her, Charlenne. (following our tradition of naming the trees in alphabetical order)



Now we still haven't gotten around to decorating her quite yet but she's tall and skinny and fits in our little apartment quite perfectly. Maybe she'll be dressed before Christmas :)

You can see:
 Bartholomew here
Anthony here

Josh's Dream Concert

I was perusing the internet for Seattle bands that would be in town just to make sure we didn't miss any we'd want to see when- I found out Jeff Tweedy from Wilco would be doing a solo show in Seattle!! You see this is a huge deal. Joshua loves Wilco and almost exclusively plays these songs on his guitar. He also has listened to his solo live album too many times to count (as have I) and he has always wanted to go to one.

I found tickets and tried to keep it a secret but one night I was to excited and spilled the beans. The show was all he wanted it to be, we had great seats, his voice and guitar skills were beyond words- simply amazing, he chatted through it all with jokes, played "Mountain Bed" and ended it with an acoustic song.



I let Joshua pick out my outfit- first he chose a short silk summer dress which I had to reject and so it ended up with a red dress and tall boot with no tights haha ( my knees were cold )

It was perfect. And hubs is super happy!!

video

12.06.2013

Valley of Fire

We really wanted to go see  slot canyon but we weren't willing to wade through freezing water in Zion to do it. So we found an out and stopped by the Valley of Fire State Park outside Vegas on our drive back to the airport. They have a small 1/4 mile slot canyon (where the water that ran through it smoothed out the rock so you can see all the layers that make them up).
 
We weren't expecting the park to be one of our favorite spots though. We pulled into the park and these huge red rocks jut up from the ground instantly consuming the landscape. There were very few people in the park so we got to run amok and climb on the rocks and through the holes and run off into the desert. We also got to see big horn sheep while we were there which was really cool. It was a really relaxing and beautiful end to the trip, even if I was a little nervous we'd get lost in the desert.
 
(the first picture is called elephant rock, the middle rock)

Big horn sheep!

12.05.2013

Zion Explorers : Part 2

The next day we hiked Observation point, an 8 mile hike with 2,400 foot elevation gain! This hike left our legs a little sore, but the lookout was amazing. From the top viewpoint we could also see the Angel's Landing Hike we had done the day before.



Then that night after 2 campfire dinners- 1 the Thanksgiving dinner and 1 a can of beans and pies we went into town to have hot pizza and beer and spread out our maps to decide upon our game plan for the next day. We decided upon Valley of Fire- up next :)

12.04.2013

Zion Explorers : Part 1

After our Thanksgiving Feast we woke up the next day and took on the Angel's Landing hike. It is a 2.4 mile hike with a 1,200 foot elevation gain up to an overlook of the river running through the canyon. Simple enough. Until you get past the relentless switchbacks and realize the cliff drops are 1,000 feet below you on both sides, they had to fix chains into the rock so it was semi-safely crossable, & at the end you walk across a rock bridge less than 6 feet wide with nothing but a long fall on either side of you. But we made it! And we were both really glad we did it, the challenge and experience of it was really cool, plus it was a very quick way to bond with strangers over our fear :)

We went on a few smaller hikes after that including one that had some fun rock overhangs and formations. We'd never seen sandstone cliffs like this and the desert's plants and cloudless skies. It was a very different experience to hiking in Washington.



up next part 2!

12.03.2013

A National Park Thanksgiving

After our short soiree in Vegas we took off on a 4 hour drive to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. The drive was beautiful, a desolate landscape with sun rays touching every surface and giant rocks puncturing the landscape.



We ran into some snow near and at the Rim which we hadn't expected. The North Rim is taller than the more popular and well known canyon views of the south rim. Sadly the sun was not in an ideal location and we quickly understood why the South Rim is the iconic view but it was still fun to see it and look deep into it's cavernous walls.

Then we jumped back into the car and headed for Zion. We drove into Zion as the sun was setting over the large sandstone formations and forcing them into a violent red contrasting the cloudless blue sky, it was quite the view. We also drove through a mile long tunnel under one of the rocks which was quite impressive. Finally landing in our campsite hubs set to work setting up the tent and such and I got to work on our Thanksgiving feast. It truly was a feast! We cooked the turkey over the fire and roasted a head of garlic to put in the potatoes while they softened in a ball of foil deep in the fire. This year though I also had concocted a plan to make stuffing over the fire, I love stuffing! And lo and behold and to our tummies great satisfaction it was delicious! We had a lovely Thanksgiving feast, we had leftover turkey for sandwiches the next day and we didn't even get to the fire-made pies until the next night. The intense and vast stars that hung over our campsite that night were the real showstoppers though.

Wood Fired Stuffing:
for two

5-6 pieces of bread; set out to get stale
1 red onion; diced
4-5 stalks celery; diced
2 eggs
1/2-2 cups chicken broth
1 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
butter
& a cast iron pie maker

1   make a fire with some great coals
2   in foil place a tbs or two of butter and the onion and celery, seal it
3   place in fire until veggies are tender
4   stick pie maker in fire to heat up for a minute or two
5   melt butter into both sides of the pie maker to avoid sticking
6   mix bread, sautéed veggies, spices, eggs, 1/2 cup chicken broth in a bowl
7   add more chicken broth as necessary to get the bread coated
8   fill one side of the pie maker full of stuffing mixture
9   close it and place over coals of fire for a few minutes
10  rotate pie maker
11  pull it out of the fire and dish it out
mmmmmm!

We're thinking of making cooking Thanksgiving dinner over the fire an tradition. We've had a lot of fun with it the last two years.

And NOW some Zion Hiking

12.02.2013

Vegas Vaca

For our annual Thanksgiving trip this year we flew into Las Vegas, drove to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, then to Zion to camp and hike for a few days, to Valley of Fire State Park, & back to Vegas to fly home. Spending a large chunk of time alone together was definitely something we'd been craving and to do it in such a beautiful place was joyous.


First up Vegas. We wandered around the streets holding a beer in our hands, because well you can and wandered in and out of the casinos. Our plane had landed, we rented a car, checked into the MGM and finally headed out to the strip at the lovely time of 2am! I'd never been and I'd never ever gambled so Joshua, who had been there briefly on a road trip with friends, took me over to the Bellagio to play my first slot machine. It took us awhile to figure them out and we played $3 worth and came out with 4 cents. We were out until 4am.



Overall we weren't impressed by Vegas. It has a depressing feeling especially when most people are still out at 4am playing alone and then the amount of people playing alone again at 7am, but it was fun to see and we had a good time wandering around not knowing how to play anything.

Then we woke up early and started our 4 hour drive to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

We also had a few hours left before our plane left on our way home to wander around Vegas in the daytime. We stopped at In N Out Burger, and watched the Bellagio Fountain many many times.

2012 Thanksgiving Trip
2011 Thanksgiving Trip

11.25.2013

Lucky Sunshine

We've had really pleasant weather the past week. Every morning the sun shines in my office and you can see Mt. Rainier emerging from early morning clouds. It has had its cold and biting wind moments but mostly it had been quite beautiful.



We took advantage of it Sunday to have a waffle breakfast at a café in the sun and some friends called and we wandered around UW's campus and into their stunning greenhouse. The different tropical versus dessert areas filtered light down differently and ducking under ferns just sends you into a magical place. It was a slow full walk. The greenhouse keeper even opened the poison dart frog's cage so we could take photos without the glass. They all came up to say hi and some even placed their feet over the edge. It was a really wonderful walk.

video


Saturday was also a great day-we saw the Hunger Games movie with some other friends and ate at Olive Garden for the first time in o years! We all ate of each other's plates because when you're there you're family :)

11.22.2013

Fall Trekking

This past weekend we finally had some time to ourselves so we set off on a little hike. It was mostly flat and ran along water. It was muddy and rainy but it definitely was good for our souls. We've both been really bogged down with work lately- not the kind you can put off but deadlines and people dumping work on you that you can't so no to. We only ate dinner together twice this week once was late night burgers the other was ordering pizza because that's all we had in us. So the time alone to just wander in the rain and look at ferns and listen to the river speeding next to us filled us up. You can get in a lot of good conversations on hikes like that and I'm thankful that Joshua and I both find rejuvenation in it.

11.20.2013

Chocolate Factory

Joshua went clay pigeon shooting with some guys last Saturday and my friend Kayla must have known because she messaged that she wanted to come up from Portland to visit. It worked out perfectly, especially since a school/work friend also joined us (and also came up with what to do that day- she has the best ideas)

We went and explored Theo chocolate which was the first organic fair trade chocolate makers. They do everything from roast the cocoa beans to making all their own homemade flavorings. We got to wear hairnets but Liz wanted to be extra sanitary and donned the beard net :)

We got to sample a lot of their chocolates and they toured us through the factory. Sadly there wasn't much activity there that day but we made up for it by eating more free chocolate in the store afterwards.

 
 
We rounded out the day with some Mexican food and added a few more to our dinner group. The best part of that night may have been that R Kelly, Nelly, and 50 cent were playing loudly all night. Mid conversation it was fair game to stop and start singing along.

11.18.2013

Small Group Date Night

 
Our small group had a night out on the town last week. We met up at Pink Door to watch some people from church play some great music. It was a cozy night in a cozy booth with people that make my heart feel full. I also love walking around the market late at night is also something I love, it feels calm and like Seattle and I are intimate friends.


11.14.2013

10 Ticket Beer Tasting

 
A friend invited us the a beer tasting with over 30 breweries! We biked over and received 10 tickets each and a 6 oz beer glass- needless to say not many of us could make it through our 10 tickets. They had fun winter beer variations and a cherry porter with vanilla ice cream, pub food and it was all housed in an old elementary school with adorable wood stairs and original chalkboards.
 
We even met some new friends of a friend and they were the kind of people you meet, shake their hand, they asked what kind I was drinking, I said Porter something, handed them my glass, and without hesitation they took it to try it.

Love people like that! Which then led to a carefree relaxed night of sharing
beers and trying to decide how we would break a floor grate.

11.13.2013

Clouded Mountain Veiws

 
After brunch Saturday the mountains were out and the contrast of them over the neighborhoods with red and yellow leaves was stunning. I think I mentioned to Joshua in the car that it was STUNNING about 20 times, so he took me to Golden Gardens so we could walk along the water and stare at them for awhile. The way the clouds hug the mountains on cloudy days is always very mesmerizing and coupled with the sound of water and gnarled driftwood it seemed like the perfect gray afternoon.
 
We also found some animal washed up and when nudged the whole thing jiggled. I have a few friends I'm planning on showing it to who know their sea life to try and find out what it was. Octopus, jellyfish? ( was informed by said friends it is a very large jellyfish, glad I didn't touch it with my fingers)

11.12.2013

Ballet Date


I love modern dance. It makes me excited, inspired and all those good things and luckily hubs has come to like it as well so he's willing to go with me. He even took off work early to come down and have lunch at a newish pasta place that I've been gushing about.

We dressed up, had a happy hour cocktail and sushi and went off to the ballet!

It was 4 short ballets and one was Petit Mort which I've been dying to see.
It is a very dramatic artistic ballet choreographed to Mozart. The first ballet is stunning and structured with swords and giant silk black cloths and amazing pairings then it's another Mozart piece using the same props and similar movements BUT funny-Sechs Tänze. It is comical and men wear the prop dresses and get stabbed by swords. It was fun to laugh and relax. The third one we started dozing off during (oops) but the last on was again very dramatic and electric.

Love date nights with this man, especially since he actually had fun going to the ballet with me :)

(I love the picture of the two of us behind the painting- we were told this employee took great photos, then he told us this was his favorite painting in the place and liked to take it here - it kind of scares me, and when I looked at it later I realized the lighting was terrible, so we tried to take a selfie that was equally horrible, photo fail)

11.11.2013

Co-worker Brunch

 
We have a new interiors guy on our team from California, therefore he doesn't know many people in Seattle yet. One of our co-workers set up a brunch to hang out, which was a stupendous idea. We ate at Skillet and consumed bacon jam burgers, grilled cheese with a chicken thigh in it, tons of scrambled eggs, fries, and split a morning pitcher of mimosas.
 
Ah yes, Saturday mornings can be the best!
 
Also yay for more young people at work- I think we finally have some hang out potential now!


11.07.2013

Baby Shower Cake

 

 
A coworker asked if I'd make her a baby shower cake - & so I did :)



Her theme was hot air balloons so I made big fluffy icing clouds and sugar cookie hot air balloons.
To be honest it wasn't my best work, a lot of my ideas didn't work out at the last minute but I still think it's very cute and I loved the colors. Thankfully she loved it and her flavor choices made my day! She's been craving citrus so I made a citrus cake with a mango curd filling! Amazing.

11.06.2013

Homeade Applesauce

 
I had leftover apples from apple picking that couldn't quite add up to apple butter
so they instead became this luxurious applesauce.
Ah spoonful of heaven!
 
This was really fast and easy and would be great on pancakes or mixed into yogurt. Or, as I've been doing, sneaking heaping spoonfuls out every time I walk past the fridge.
 
 
Applesauce:
 
6 lbs of mixed apples; peeled, cored, and sliced
1 cup apple cider
1 lemon; juiced
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tbs maple syrup
 
1    in a large pot mix together all ingredients
2    bring heat up to medium and cook for 25 minutes, apples should be very tender
3    pour into food processor and puree until no large chunks remain, you can make
      it thinner by processing it further
4    store in an airtight container in the fridge
 
super simple with an amazing flavor, plus your whole house smells like fall while you're making it!
 



Pioneer Square Wandering

Saturday we ventured near downtown to buy supplies for a project we're working on. But on the way home traffic got bad and we got hungry so we parked along the water and ended up spending the day wandering around Pioneer Square.

It was one of those great fall days where we trudged through giant leaf piles, spent the afternoon drinking beer and talking in a small pub, stopping through our favorite toy store, and finally getting dinner at Bar Sajor which is an amazing restaurant I've been telling him about for months.

We had super delicious cocktails, pickled beets with thin sliced of beef, local mushrooms, and we ventured into dessert with a tasty apple pie concoction.





 


On Saturday we'd only planned the store trip but it ended up becoming a day we'd been wanting to do for awhile, we even happened upon the Sounder's game tailgate for some live music and watched them parade to the stadium.

Our friends went and made it even better by calling us up after their day and showing us a really cute new bar where we hung out til midnight and fit in a game of euchre and biked home.


he found what he wants for Christmas

11.05.2013

Currant & Greens Farro Salad

Still on my farro kick I had to give another recipe a try. I've also been wanting to add dried currants to something because the little sweet kick and texture change they provide are really intriguing.

This is a really great side dish with lots of good veggies in it.

1/2-3/4 cup peas
1/2 cup quinoa
1  cups farro
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
pinch of salt
1/4 cup Italian dressing
handful arugula
3 small cucumbers; diced
1/4 cup dried currants
1/2 cup feta cheese
S&P

1   cook peas in boiling water until done
2   cook farro and quinoa with pepper flakes and salt in water 1" above grains
3   bring to a simmer and reduce heat, cook for 15-20 minutes, al dente
4   drain grains
5   in a large dish mix arugula, currants, cucumber, farro, quinoa and peas
6   drizzle in the Italian dressing and mix
7   top with feta cheese
8   really good if you store it in the fridge and serve chilled

11.04.2013

Halloween Night

 
Halloween night I confiscated my neighbors cat and created an iron man mask for him!

(Backstory when they wander around they always wear a light attached to their collar so that they can be seen.) Therefore I knew when he came to visit me he'd already have half his costume on. Also since this is the most tolerable cat in the world he purred the entire time I fitted a mask to his face.


Then I took him upstairs, she thoroughly enjoyed him all dressed up, we paraded him around to some neighbors, then we found the other kitty and made him dress up as iron-kitty too.
Honestly adorable and I swear they totally didn't mind, didn't even try to get the mask off once!

 
Then hubs and I headed over to a new spicy hotdog food truck that opened up in our neighborhood, dream come true, and watched a movie while I did an art project for United Way for work.





No candy involved sadly, but the next night we rented a movie and picked up a box of bottlecaps, heated up corndogs, and made popcorn for dinner. (yes hot dogs 2 nights in a row, oops)
I swear we normally eat better than this, but who says no to corndogs & bottlecaps- no one!

 
And just like that it's November & one month closer to seeing my family again :)

10.31.2013

Happy Halloween!

Lots of treats and candy floating around the office today- I'm partaking in all of it!
 
Have a great Halloween!
 
 
Joshua suggested we dress as pajama people and I wanna play games tonight. I also suggested to my neighbor that we dress up her cats and trick-or-treat them around the apartment building. Hopefully they all come true :)

Fall Farro Salad

The other day I became fixated on farro. Someone brought in a farro salad for a lunch and learn at work and I've been determined to make my own ever since. Farro is just another type of grain but I love the meaty texture it has and I think it goes really well with sweet vegetables.
Hence the Fall Farro Salad, it is scrumptious & makes up with few dishes and not much work.
 

Fall Farro Salad:

recipe from here

3 delicate squash; cubed (skin is really thin so you can leave it on)
1 pint cherry tomatoes
olive oil
1 1/2 cup farro
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp fresh thyme; chopped
1/4-1/2 cup shaved parmesan
handful or two or arugula
S&P to taste

preheat oven to 425 degrees F

1   place squash and tomatoes in a baking pan and drizzle with olive oil
2   bake for 25-30 minutes, squash should be tender and easy to pierce with a  fork
3   meanwhile place farro, red pepper flakes and salt in a pot
4   fill with water to 1" above the farro
5   bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low, cook for 15-20 minutes, farro should be al dente
6   drain farro and pour into pan with squash
7   mix in thyme, arugula, S&P, and top with parmesan

10.30.2013

Homemade Ghosts

My sister sent me a photo of her chandelier covered in the little toilet paper ghosts and asked if I'd put mine up yet. I'd forgotten all about those ghosts. My mom used to hang them from our dining room chandelier. I dislike holiday decorations, mostly, but these little guys I've always loved.


Her sending me that photo made me remember all that so I had to make my own now too!

They're very simple



toilet paper
string or rubberband
paint or permanent marker




I used 9 squares of toilet paper per ghost-
3 sheets balled up make the head
















then I took 2 3-sheet lengths and
draped them over the head
















gather up the hanging toilet paper
under the head and tie it up
















paint little eyes and a ghouly
mouth on him
repeat until you have a bundle
of cute little ghosts













I then went outside and collected leaves
tied them to the string I was going to
use to hang all my ghosts on















looped my ghosts by the neck onto the string
and strung it up over our window


Thanks sis for reminding me to make them!
 
Happy almost Halloween!