We're off to honeymoon!
I'll be spending the next few days blog-free, enjoying cocktails on the beach and soaking up the sun with my sweetie. Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and wishing you a safe and happy new year!
See you all in a week!


And we're off!
3 days in Michigan...
Followed by 7 nights in the Caribbean!
Happy honeymoon!!!!

Be back after the holidays - have a merry, merry Christmas and a happy new year!!


Rest of my Restaurant Challenge

After realizing there's only 9 days left in 2011, I decided I better group some of my restaurant posts together since I'm a bit behind.

Restaurant #18 - La Isla
This cozy little Puerto Rican restaurant is in Ballard. My husband and I headed here after our 2-hour long engagement session with our photographers, famished from smiling our little hearts out, and devoured everything they put in front of us. Seasoned shredded beef, rice and beans, tostones, it was all delicious!

Restaurant #19 - Grace Kitchen
The latest stop-n-shop restaurant addition to one of Seattle's premier outdoor malls - University Village. My husband and I popped in here during a pre-wedding shopping extravaganza, tying up loose ends before our big day! We snacked on the green goddess salad, dill deviled eggs, and mac 'n cheese and left without any complaints!

My girlfriends and I all had the sniffles and headed here one rainy evening to warm up over delicious chicken pho. With pho - you can either get it really right or really wrong. This place gets it right. Enough said.

#21 - La Bete
This place is a hidden gem nestled in the midst and parking-impossible neighborhood of Capitol Hill - how did I never know it existed before now? My friend Moira and I dined here one evening and ordered a smattering of inventive dishes; arctic char with fennel and persimmons, roasted chicken with mushrooms and farro, and to finish the meal - coconut doughnuts, can you say yum?

This may be one of my favorite restaurants from my 2011 challenge - so I saved the "best" for last. Book Bindery came highly recommended by a few friends. We stopped in on a Monday night at 5:30 under the assumption that there would be a table open. Um..think again. Apparently this is a reservation-required kind of place, but luckily we snagged 3 spots at the bar and decided to be casual and dine there instead. Everything was a-mazing; the cocktails, the appetizers, the entrees - seriously, I almost licked the truffle risotto bowl clean. A little pricy on my pocketbook but ultimately worth the cuisine and the company :)

#23 - Meza
Meza is shared tapas and Venezuelan inspired food, champagne margaritas, and paella - all wrapped up in a nook on Capitol Hill. My friends and I cozied up together in a booth and devoured our small plates. Also a good pic for those with allergies - as their arepitas (kind of like a crispy, light tortilla) are gluten free.

Decent bar food, and fantastic location on a sunny day!

Decent brunch, adorable interior, but not my fave...

And just for kicks, even though I already met my 25 restaurants in 2011 goal for Seattle- I wanted to include one more...in nearby Portland.

#26 - Pok Pok, Portland
THE BEST! Eat here, come early, lines are long!

Phew...that was delicious but exhausting...
image 2/seattleeater
image 4 /livingwell
image 5/thestranger

Seattle Gets Even Greener

Big news here in Seattle! The Seattle City Council voted to ban plastic bags in grocery stores and charge a 5-cent fee on paper bags. Looks like reusable bags for everyone is the way of the future!

I've already accrued my own stash of reusable tote bags, but I guess I shall be investing in some more! I already have my eye on this one...


Holiday Plans

Guess what?
We leave for Michigan to celebrate Christmas with the in-laws in 2 days.
And then, 4 days later...
We'll be on our honeymoon!
We are so excited to spend 7 blissful nights relaxing, stress-free days in the sun. I am beyond excited. Sounds wonderful, right?
Caribbean - here we come!


Cake Pop Wedding Cake

I'm constantly amazed at what creative minds dream up to outfit a wedding. First there was the cupcake wedding "cake," then the Rice Krispies wedding cake, and now, fitting with the new cake pop fad, behold...a cake pop wedding cake!

image via pinterest

Shopping Day

Christmas shopping today!
Braving the crowds and overpacked parking lots to finish up my shopping.
Wish me luck!

Holiday Entertainment

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is playing board games. I LOVE board games, and playing together has become a holiday tradition in our family.

Our reliable favorites include: Scrabble, Cranium, Catchphrase, and my ultimate #1 favorite - Scattergories! LOVE that game! My sisters and I play this often and always try and outdo each other with double-letter answers, a la "French Fries," and "Farrah Fawcett."

My husband comes from a family that didn't grow up playing board games on holidays religiously, and I'm determined to somehow insert my traditions into our his family's Christmas in Michigan this year. Any suggestions how I do this? I'm a tad afraid I'm going to come off as the overly-competitive-board-game-playing-daughter-in-law... Thoughts?

Savory or Sweet

When it comes to pies, do you prefer savory or sweet? I've always been a "sweet" girl, myself. This week, while catching up on my magazine reading, I was captivated by the savory pie article in an old issue of Martha Stewart Living.

Sweet pies I've done, savory...never attempted. But I realized after perusing the article, my stomach was growling. never attempted to bake a savory pie. We were much more of a meatloaf family growing up than a chicken pot pie family, but I'm willing to take the challenge and make one myself.

Do you have a favorite savory pie recipe?


Christmas Presents

I feel like every family has at least one member who is tough to buy for. Usually I have an idea or two for my sisters, a handful for my husband, but my parents are super hard to buy for!

When we were little, indulging in the arts and crafts tradition, my mom used to tell us, "just make me something," but I feel like I've crafted and decoupaged enough gifts that at 28-years old that rule has long since expired.

Who is tough to buy for in your family? And what did you end up purchasing for that person this year?


Restaurant #17 - Phoenecia

My husband and I headed to Phoenecia in late summer, per my friend's recommendation. Set in the cozy, walkable neighborhood of West Seattle, we decided to make the most of a beautiful day and make an evening of it.

Phoenecia is a family run restaurant (which made me like it immediately) and specializes in "artisanal pizza" and tapas, despite its Greek name. Though my gluten-free friend had raved about the tapas - it was really the pizza that won us over. The chewy but crispy crust was phenomenal, and the crimini mushroom-truffle oil toppings weren't half bad either!

We ordered some wine, enjoyed the sunset, and had ourselves a time!

Restaurant Challenge 2011

#17 - Phoenecia

Holiday Beverages

I've just come upon the most amazing recipes for mulled apple cider and rich and creamy hot chocolate, I can't wait to make these recipes and transform my kitchen into a Christmas cafe!

Nothing says *Christmas* to me more than a holiday beverage. Once the red cups pop up at Starbucks and the gingerbread dots the bakery windows, you know Santa is near.

I've never been much of an eggnog fan, and while I can entertain the idea of a hot toddy, it's not my fave. My favorite holiday beverage has to be a soy peppermint latte, with a side of gingerbread cookies.

Mmm... I might just rush out as I type to score myself a piping hot one.
What's your favorite holiday beverage?


Is It Friday Yet?

Is it the weekend yet? Man, this week has felt LONG! I think it's the holiday magic in the air that has my students wired this week. This weekend, I'm looking forward to a few gatherings; tonight is my staff party, followed by a friend's going-away party on Saturday, and brunch with a dear friend on Sunday. Can't wait to finish report cards and not look back!

Here's a few more stocking stuffer ideas from around the web..

+ tres chic bubble necklace

Sneak Peek: Wedding Photos!

"The best romance is inside the marriage; the finest love stories come after the wedding, not before."
- Irving Stone

Save the Date Videos

Have you ever seen a save the date video? A modern alternative to the traditional mailer card. Kind of a fun concept, right? I just stumbled across this lovely save-the-date video for an acquaintance of mine who is getting married today!
Would you do a save the date video?


Favorite Christmas Movies

One of my favorite things about the holidays is the nostalgia it inspires. Christmas time always encourages me to seek out things of comfort. I mean take hot cocoa or mulled cider, do you honestly drink these things nearly as often as you do during the Christmas season?

One of my favorite Christmas indulgences is re-watching all of my favorite Christmas movies. This year, I added Little Women to my personal DVD collection. I had forgotten how much I loved this movie until I netflixed it a few months ago.

Some other Christmas favorites include...

What are your favorite Christmas movies?

10 Words You Need to Stop Misspelling!

A friend of mine posted this on facebook - 10 WORDS YOU NEED TO STOP MISSPELLING - and I wholeheartedly agree! As a teacher, one of my biggest pet peeves is when adults misspell words in critical correspondence - emails, resumes, etc.

The biggest culprit: their, they're, and there, as well as your and you're. This drives me crazy when someone mixes these up! Ahh!! Come on people! As a result, I explicitly teach and practice this with my second graders. This works out well, since learning homophones are one of our literacy objectives.

When teaching this concept, I usually give an example of an instance I saw an adult mix these up - much to the student's amusement (adults make spelling mistakes too??) and I explain I am determined to ensure that they don't become THAT person!). Usually my storytelling and insistance is following by smiles, whimsical kid comments, and amusement...but I know they'll secretly thank me someday for hammering this idea into them.

I think the #1 reason misspelling common words irks me is because it's something that I always notice, but can't correct. I've never been one to point out another's mistake - that's a big no-no in teaching, and correcting one's spelling often feels rude or inappropriate.

Do you have pet peeves about spelling? Am I the lone weirdo out there?


Christmas Traditions

This year is a Christmas of firsts. My first Christmas being married, and my first Christmas away from my family. My husband's entire family lives in Michigan, and since we celebrated locally last year, we're headed to the Midwest for the holidays this year. In my 28 years, this will be my first Christmas ever away from home.

Not going to lie, I'm a little sad to not be a part of my usual Christmas morning celebrations with my family. I thrive on tradition; the way we open our stockings, the bacon-egg casserole we eat every Christmas morning, the way we rotate who opens presents in front of the cracking fire. While I'm excited to share in my husband's tradition, I can't help but feel a bit nostalgic for my own. My wish is that one day, when we have our own kids and our Christmases move to our home, we'll form our own slough or traditions that become "ours," instead of "his" and "hers."

So I ask: Do you share your Christmases with your partner/spouse's family? How do you find a balance to share and continue holiday traditions?


Stocking Stuffer Ideas

I'm always on the prowl for a creative gift - here are a few unique stocking stuffer ideas I've stumbled across lately...
+ Scrabble tile coasters - amazing!

+ Air quote mittens - for the friend who likes to quote everything

+ The ultimate mug - cookies + coffee in one!

+ Dolmas? Chili Rellanos? Check out this stuffed pepper serving pan

+ Touch screen sensor gloves, I so need these!

+ Giant beer glass (holds 5 beers!)

+ Creative ipad case affectionately known as "Speck"

+ The Nuddle (the snuggie x 10, complete with a kangaroo pouch AND foot pocket)

+ Awesome tasting plate (for all your fave dips)

+ Sweet sparkly clutch

Weekend Baking: Apple Pie Cookies

This weekend in honor of my alma mater's annual rivalry game I made apple pie cookies via smitten kitchen. When it comes to cookies, I'm usually a unanimous fan of cookies containing some form of chocolate, so I wasn't quite sure if I was going to like these. While they were a bit time consuming, the final product was worthwhile. They're like teeny tiny apple pies, filled cinnamon-sugary, apply goodness (plus a pinch of nutmeg and cloves - which I recommend).


Quote of the Week

"When I see it, suddenly, in the air,
all little and white and moving;
then I am in love again and very young
and I believe everything."

~Anne Sexton, in a letter to W.D. Snodgrass (11.28.1958)


Restaurant #16 - Skillet Diner

I've realized that as we're about to enter December, I'm a bit behind on my restaurant posting. Fear not, I have been trying out many new restaurants, just slacking in the posting department. One new fave restaurant I enjoyed with two girlfriends was Skillet Diner - the stable, immobile spinoff of one of Seattle's favorite food trucks (Skillet).

This food is not for the faint of heart, it's rich, packed with creams, cheese, and rich sauces of all kinds. In a word - glorious! I enjoyed the burger complete with bacon jam, creamy bleu cheese, and arugula...heaven! Although I was quite tempted by pretty much everyone on the menu, especially the mac 'n cheese, southern fried chicken, and "ultimate" grilled cheese. See what I mean about rich cheesy goodness? My personal belief is life's too short, and you can never go wrong with comfort food.

If you're in the market for some down home (delicious) cooking - hit up Skillet diner or chase down the food truck. Believe me, you won't be sorry!!

25 New Restaurants in 2011

#16 - Skillet Diner
#15 - Revel
#14 - The Yard
#13 - Carmelita
#12 - Ravish
#11 - Luc
#4 - Po Dog
#2 - Nishino
#1 - June

Black Friday Link Love

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Here are some shopping links for Black Friday...

+ Beautiful lace necklace.

+ A new Thanksgiving tradition - gratitude rolls

+ Loving easy DIY yarn pumpkins!

+ Chunky necklaces, here, here, and here.

+ At home DIY cheese making kit!

Happy Thanksgiving

Our first Thanksgiving as newlyweds.
So much to be thankful for.
Hope you and your loved ones enjoy feasting and merriment together!

Dinner Last Night: Penne with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce

I guess you could say I was inspired by the cold, wet weather outside to make a meal that was warm, cozy, and comforting. Martha - you came through for me again! Penne with creamy pumpkin sauce was just the ticket! I didn't have half and half on hand so I used soy milk instead, which worked out just fine, and the red pepper flakes add a subtle heat that balances out the flavors of pumpkin and cream.

Friends Thanksgiving

For the past 5+ years, my close group of friends has thrown a "Friends Thanksgiving" party every year. Our group of friends is a hodgepodge of native Seattleites and transplants from other parts of the U.S., Canada, and England. Together we are kind of like our own little family. We celebrate birthdays, graduations, celebrations of all kinds together.

But Friends Thanksgiving is one event we plan and especially look forward to every year. This year we had a new location - our friends Vanessa & Nick bought a vacation cabin just outside of the Bavarian-inspired town Leavenworth - a 2-hour drive from Seattle, and generously offered it up to host Friends Thanksgiving, making it a weekend event. The 12 of us caravaned through the snowy pass to enjoy a cozy cabin weekend and feast together.

Our feast was monumental; everything from traditional turkey to jalapeno-corn casserole to my husband's famous "bacon explosion," and every Thanksgiving food you can think of in-between. Besides feasting, our weekend was peppered with snowy walks, cozying up in front of the fire, and plenty of games.

It was a blast! I love celebrating traditions with friends.
Do you have any traditions or events you celebrate with your friends every year?


The New Girl

My new favorite show this season is...The New Girl.
Have you seen it? It is totally random, and Zooey Deschanel is laugh out loud funny - (really, truly - I've caught myself laughing out loud upon many occasions). Her roommates also have very eccentric personalities that perfectly complement her quirkiness. Basically, if you have any any weird habits, enjoy talking in accents, or obsess about anything (as I - and the main character Jess does) - you'll love it!


Faces of the Hunger Games

Have you seen these posters for the Hunger Games movie? I'm sure by now you've heard the hype, but if you happen to be one of the few who has not read this book yet - go now! Seriously, leave your computer this moment. Yes you, I'm serious! Get up, get your butt to a bookstore ASAP! And be sure to carve out a sizable chunk of time and proceed to devour this trilogy. You think I'm kidding...I'm not. You will not be disappointed, TRUST ME!!

I'm getting so excited for the movie, I'm even toying with the idea of rereading book 1 so it's especially fresh in my mind - I just can't believe we have to wait until March! Well, at least there's less than 1 week until my other book-turned-movie series, Twilight: Breaking Dawn.

posters via o captain

Weekend Baking

This weekend I channeled my inner Julia Child and baked up a storm. The dreary weather provided the perfect opportunity to muss up my kitchen, since it was blustery, rainy, and gray outside. Thus, it definitely merited an afternoon toiling around indoors. Plus, with the *husband* away on business, I had ample time to myself.

Here's what I whipped up -

Needless to say it was a weekend of happy eating. Both recipes were easy to follow and divine to devour. I baked so much this weekend, I actually ran out of flour! How often does that happen?? Well...hmm...don't answer that, just know, that was a first for me!

Squash Vases

A smattering of squash vases - how perfectly fall. Must try this!

Fall Weekend

This past weekend was a 4-day weekend for me thanks to our brave veterans and a parent-teacher conference day. I didn't make any plans sans lunch with a friend in town, and it was blissful! I've been feeling behind since I returned to work after my wedding, and this was the perfect opportunity to recharge, catch up, and feel rested and refreshed. Feeling especially fall - I made roasted butternut squash lasasgna a la Martha Stewart and burned my pumpkin spice candle down to the nub. I'd say it was a successful weekend.

Link love:

Love this candy button scarf.

Best pumpkin desserts in Seattle - spotted here!

Red velvet hot cocoa, doesn't this sound delicious?

How to make the perfect cheese plate.

Soft pretzel tots, a-mazing! (I just noticed most of my links are food...)

Loving the kitsch of this apple pie pan.


Scarf-Wearing Tutorial

Have you seen this? 25 ways to wear a scarf - fascinating!
I learned about 10 new ways to wear my scarves - sweeeet!

Fortune Cookie

Love this fortune cookie necklace - especially since the fortune (near the clasp) can be customized to your heart's desire.

What would your fortune say? I tried to dig up a few clever fortune sayings, (with the help of google...of course). Here's a few I might put on a fortune cookie necklace.

- Love always and deeply

- Your heart is a place to draw true happiness

- You find beauty in ordinary things, do not lose this ability

- Something wonderful will happen today

What would yours say?


Dinner Last Night: Pasta Carbonara with Leeks & Bacon

I apologize for being a major blog slacker lately. It's parent-teacher conference season, so my schedule has been totally wonky, early mornings and late, late evenings. But despite the busyness, I did have time to whip up this one night when I was tired of take out, pasta carbonara with leeks and bacon. In a word...delicious! I haven't done much cooking with leeks in the past, but they're pretty easy to incorporate. Definitely will be making this again.

Wedding Dress Preservation

I have a question for all y'all married ladies. Just curious, how much did you pay to clean and preserve your wedding dress? I'm trying to do my research and find out what's a typical or "average" price so I don't overspend.

I had such a fun time wearing my wedding dress, that I want to make sure it's preserved in great condition. It's hard to believe after one full day of wearing it (and a handful of fittings and trials), I'm packing my beautiful dress away in a box!

However, I plan on taking it out every year on my anniversary and waltzing around the living room...just for fun! Do you have any wedding dress traditions?