Friday, September 30, 2011

Rehearsal Dinner Planning

Earlier this week we went down to Collins Pub, where we plan on having our wedding rehearsal dinner. Stewart had never been there before so I wanted him to check it out and try the food. My co-worker and her husband own the pub and have generously offered to host our rehearsal dinner there, which is very exciting because the atmosphere fits perfectly with our wedding style. We tried out a couple delicious appetizers while we discussed the menu and plans for the rehearsal dinner.

Because our wedding party is so large, we are going to end up with between 50 and 60 guests at the rehearsal dinner. We are going to use the entire back dining area of the pub, which means guests will be split between three long tables and in the surrounding booths. I think this will actually work out quite nicely because if all the guests were at one long table they wouldn't be able to chat with everyone, anyway. And this gives us the opportunity to get up and mingle with the different tables throughout dinner.

Our plan for the rehearsal dinner is for guests to arrive and be greeted with a beverage (probably prosecco or a microbrew), while they snack on some appetizers (salumi and cheese plates). Then we'll start with a wild greens salad followed by the entree choice (choices will be salmon, pork, or vegetarian) finished with desert which will be hand-made ice cream with brownies. We're still trying to decide what to do about alcohol, but we talked about having beer/wine pairings with each course and then guests could also buy whatever they wanted from the bar.

My co-worker is going to decorate all the tables for us in our wedding colors and we can play anything we want as far as music. Most importantly, after dinner those who want to can hang out and take over the bar for as long as we'd like. This will be lots of fun since our rehearsal dinner is on a Thursday so the next day is a free day before the wedding, and we will have lots of out-of-town guests visiting who will want to enjoy the city night life.

My dinner was Steak Salad - Angus flat iron with butter lettuce,
fried onions, grape tomatoes, Pt. Reyes blue cheese and roasted
shallot vinaigrette. 

Stew had the signature Collins Burger - a hand formed patty,
special sauce, lettuce, tomato, red onion, Tillamook extra sharp
cheddar on a grand Central burger bun, served with house fries.
Stew thought the style of the pub is just right and he thought the food was delicious, so we feel great about getting things all planned out. One more thing checked off the list!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Flying Trapeze Lessons

About a year ago some girlfriends and I bought a Groupon for two hours of trapeze lessons at Emerald City Trapeze Arts, and we nervously headed down to SoDo this past Sunday for our class. As first time students, we had to go through "Ground School" which included an introduction to the rig, take-off techniques, flight, first trick, and dismount. Our instructor was a legit carnie, a very creepy man with long hair, long black painted toe nails, and extremely tight skinny jeans. After we completed reviewing the basic techniques with him, we got to practice on the actual trapeze, and it was a lot harder than it looked! However, all four of us managed to complete the trick perfectly after a few tries.

Toward the end of the class, we also got the opportunity to be caught a world-class catcher (our carnie instructor). Unfortunately, I didn't manage to complete that part, which I believe is due to the fact that I suffer from Calxophobia, or the fear of chalk. I do not believe there is anything worse or more disgusting in life than the feeling of dry, nasty chalk. I have never been able to touch it and I would seriously rather have spiders crawl all over my body than pick up a piece of chalk. Let alone rub it all over my wrists, which is what they made us to for the catching portion of the class.

Good friend that she is, Crystal had me turn away and shut my eyes while she rubbed the chalk on my wrists so I wouldn't have to touch it myself. But I still started to cry because I could feel the chalk sucking away at my skin, and I could see it in front of my face while I was climbing up the ladder and feel the dust eating at my lungs. I was so upset by the time I jumped off the platform that I couldn't concentrate on anything other than getting that chalk off my body as soon as possible, so I missed the catch and botched the trick. At that point I could care less and I took off as fast as I could toward the bathroom to get that vile stuff off of my skin. I think I'm scarred for life. 

Other than that, the class was ridiculously fun and I'd definitely recommend it. I'd love to do it again sometime. Oh and after I had calmed down the instructor told me that they can, in fact, tape your wrists instead of forcing you to endure the torture of chalk. Thanks for the heads up.  

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fremont Oktoberfest

I think I have made it to Fremont Oktoberfest every single year since I first moved to Seattle. It's one of my absolute favorite local festivals. Socializing in the tasting garden and using tokens to buy mini mugs of over 80 microbrews and German beers is a fantastic way to spend an evening. This year we got a really good group together and headed down on Saturday night. It went a little something like this...

I was definitely reminded that one of these days I really do need to plan on celebrating Oktoberfest in Leavenworth, something I've always wanted to do. Who's with me?!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Restaurant Review: Paseo

I mentioned in the previous post the amazing lunch we had with Matt and Alissa after we spent the afternoon on Lake Union. This is absolutely not an exaggeration: I had the best sandwich I've ever had in my entire life at Paseo.

People have been telling me for quite a while about this Caribbean restaurant in Fremont, but for some reason I had never made the effort to stop by. I had no idea what I was missing out on! Paseo is an adorable little hole in the wall, and when we arrived around 3:30 p.m. there was a huge line running out the door and down the sidewalk. While we waited in line I contemplated which of the delicious sandwiches to order. I went with the "original legendary sandwich" - Grilled Pork for $8.50 (cash only).

Best. Sandwich. Of. My. Life.

Cubed pork loin grilled over an open flame & basted w/ Paseo
marinade 'til golden brown, served on a lightly toasted baguette
slathered with aioli (seasoned mayo), fresh cilantro, pickled
jalapeƱos, crisp romaine lettuce & crowned with caramelized onions.

I cannot explain how delicious the pork was or how well the flavors of the other ingredients came together. Eating it without making a mess was impossible, but I was in such absolute heaven I didn't care in the least that half of the sandwich ended up on my face, hands, and on the table (don't worry, I ate those bits at the end). I had no idea a sandwich could be so perfectly delicious. I normally have no problem sharing half of my meal with Stewart, but I think this time when he asked for bite I may have actually snarled at him like a rabid dog. I have big plans to go back again soon and I want to systematically try everything on the menu. Although Stewart wasn't quite at my level of in love-ness, he really enjoyed his meal as well.

Seriously, if you haven't been to Paseo before please go immediately. You won't be disappointed.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Stand Up Paddleboarding

This weekend we had big plans to get together with our friends Matt & Alissa to use a Groupon we had purchased from Wave Hounds Surf Shop for renting stand up paddleboards. SUP-ing seems to be the latest and greatest outdoor sport, so we definitely wanted to give it a whirl.

We arrived at the surf shop and piled the four HUGE boards onto Alissa's car and headed to Gas Works Park to launch. The boards were extremely heavy and awkward to carry along with the paddles and life jackets, but we finally made it to the water. Even though it was the second day of fall the weather was gorgeous in the mid-70s with sunshine and some fluffy clouds.

At first, standing on the board felt kind of awkward and I felt like I might lose my balance and slip off at any moment, but it didn't take long to get the hang of it and we headed off around the lake. Everyone on shore at the park was fascinated by the paddleboards and many took pictures and asked about what we were doing so they could try it themselves. 

We paddled around looking at house boats and yachts along the west side of the lake for a while and our only regret was that we hadn't brought along some beverages. Tons of float planes were coming in to land and while watching one of them I ceased to pay attention, lost my balance, and fell into the lake. I was kind of sweaty by that point anyway though, so I didn't mind and Stew jumped off himself for a quick dip. 

We stayed out for a couple hours before we headed in for the most delicious lunch of my life... more on that later. Overall I'd say I am a huge fan of SUP-ing and I'd definitely do it again. However, the regularly priced rentals can be kind of pricey, so if you're interested and you see a deal pop up online, snag it!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Book Review: Testimony of Light

My boss and I were chatting one evening and she told me about a book she had read a few years ago that "completely changed her life." The way that she spoke about it made me want to pick up a copy immediately, so I put in an online order for Testimony of Light: An Extraordinary Message of Life After Death by Helen Greaves. It ended up buried on my bookshelf for quite a few months until I finally picked it up last week. Although I don't feel like my life has changed in any significant way, I definitely found the story extremely fascinating and it got me thinking about life and what happens after we die.

The book is a true story about a friendship between two women that endures after one of them passes away: "Frances Banks died, as she had lived, fully aware of what she was experiencing and where she hoped to go. Her friend Helen Greaves was by her side as she finally lapsed into unconsciousness. Then, one evening some three weeks after Frances's death, Helen sensed her presence. This extraordinary encounter marked the beginning of contact between them from both sides of the veil -between life as we know it and life on 'the other side.'"

The book begins with a brief biographical introduction followed by a description of Frances' "return" to the spheres of the spirit. The rest of the book consists of the actual "scripts" provided by Frances.
I think anyone interested in the after-life will find this book very interesting. The descriptions in the book about "heaven" and what happens after we die are definitely attractive and they make death seem something to look forward to, instead of being dreaded. The important message that the author attempts to portray is that the death of the body is simply a gentle passing to a much freer and fuller life.

Stewart thinks books like this are fictitious nonsense written by people out to make a few bucks. I definitely lean in this direction as well, but I read for entertainment and this book definitely got me thinking and I enjoyed reading it, so I'd say that it wasn't a waste of money and so it served its purpose. Definitely not a book for everyone though.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Restaurant Review: Stanford's

Since I'm starting personal training next week, we decided that this week we'd better use up some gift certificates that we've had hanging around since Christmas. So when I got home from work last night we headed to Stanford's Restaurant and Bar. This morning I basically had to roll myself out of bed I was still so stuffed... I don't think my new trainer is going to be pleased. After one of the most delicious mango mojitos I have ever had, it went a little something like this...

Salt and Pepper Calamari with red and green peppers
and tri-dipping sauces.

14 oz. Rib Eye served with steakhouse butter,
grilled asparagus and parmesan garlic mashed potatoes.

Crispy Halibut Fish Tacos made with grilled tortillas,
shredded cabbage, chipotle ranch, and fresh avocado-tomato relish.

Dessert Trio including chocolate fudge,
red velvet cake and bread pudding.
Totally worth indulging! Plus we had one of the nicest waitresses I have ever met, and even though the place was packed we found a booth right away in the bar and our food came out quickly and everything was delicious. Although I probably won't be going back any time soon I really enjoyed our little date night out!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Doin' the Puyallup

It's rare that a year passes when I do not visit The Puyallup Fair at least once. So I was very sad when I realized our calendar was really too full to make a day at the fair happen this time. However, our friends Brett & Haley decided to get tickets to the Big & Rich and Gretchen Wilson concert for Monday night, and we jumped at the chance to join them!
It was the perfect opportunity to walk around the fair a little bit, eat some delicious greasy burgers and fries, and indulge in my fair food favorite: the elephant ear. In addition, we got to attend the concert, which was tons of fun. (Ever since seeing Dierks Bentley and Brad Paisley play a year or so ago, I've decided that country music concerts are hands down one of the most fun events I have ever attended). 

Big & Rich were super fun to watch perform, and Gretchen Wilson's voice was absolutely amazing to listen to live. I heard all of my favorites like "Redneck Woman" and of course, "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy" and had a great time singing along. I'm so glad we had the opportunity to go to the fair this year!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Summer Deck Party 2011

Ready to Serve!
As part of my company's annual auction to raise money for United Way of King County, my department offers for bid tickets to a summer deck party at my boss's beautiful home on Bainbridge Island. For $50 employees can buy tickets to the event, which includes appetizers, a multi-course dinner, drinks and entertainment for the evening. To make all of this happen for our 30 guests, my team and I awoke bright and early on Saturday morning to catch the 7:55 ferry to the island.

Very excited that I was allowed
to cook some things this year...
Each year's party has a theme, and this year we did an Italian pizza party so we could utilize my boss's brand new wood fire pizza oven and outdoor kitchen. Guests are waited on hand and foot while they enjoy the gorgeous outdoor venue which overlooks stunning Hidden Cove. All of the food and beverages are hand made from scratch by our team. Unfortunately, by the time guests began arriving at 3 p.m. we were pretty exhausted because we had been cleaning, decorating, chopping and cooking for six hours straight. Then came six more hours of serving the guests. Each home made course was prepared with delicious fresh ingredients and served to the guests while they sat on the deck enjoying drinks including Italian beers, wines and one of my personal favorites, Bellinis.

View of the gorgeous deck before the guests arrived.
Guests are always greeted with jell-o shots at our parties.

Antipasto - the traditional first course of a formal Italian meal.

Appetizers included caprese skewers and fried mozzarella balls...

Roasted asparagus wrapped in prosciutto...

And bruschetta.

Bread Salad.

Pasta Salad.

All the fixin's, ready to hit the dough and head for the oven!

Italian meats and cheeses pizza ready for the oven.

Ready to serve - YUM!

Although it can be an extremely long, hard day, it was really fun to spend the time with my team outside of the office, and the guests really enjoyed the party. Stewart volunteered to give up ANOTHER one of his days off to help, so he's really put in his time for my work events so far this year.

I've been fairly stressed out for a few weeks now trying to coordinate and plan this event, so I'm super relieved that it's finally over and that everyone enjoyed themselves.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Restaurant Review: Prost!

After a day of hard work on Friday, we decided to treat ourselves and headed to Prost! a German-style pub on Phinney Ridge. Our friends Matt & Alissa absolutely love this place, so we met them there for drinks and dinner. I had a delicious bloody mary and we all ordered what Matt & Alissa say is the best thing on the menu: the Brezel Sandwich.

Thinly sliced German Cervelat and Jagdwurst with mixed greens,
red onions, cheddar, and swiss on a Morning Star pretzel roll.
Toasted and topped with horseradish aioli and stone ground mustard.
I'm telling you, this sandwich is beyond delicious. Matt and I are both obsessed with sauerkraut, so we had the brilliant idea to order it as a side and add it to our sandwiches... A heavenly choice. I've been to Prost! a few times now, and it's always been full of people (but not packed), and the food and service has been great. I can definitely see why Matt and Alissa frequent it so often.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Day of Caring

I am the committee chair of my company's annual United Way campaign, and this year I was also the project team leader for Day of Caring, the largest single day of volunteering in Washington state. On Day of Caring, volunteers head out to organizations throughout King County to spend the day serving the community. Due to some staffing coverage issues, I really struggled to get the 20 volunteers I had committed to, so Stewart generously offered to spend his day off helping others.

Our team spent Day of Caring at Sacred Heart Shelter, an emergency facility for families and single women. We divided into several groups to help spruce up the shelter, and projects included deep cleaning of the kitchen and dining room (my team), painting (Stew's team), and some other various light maintenance tasks.

Sacred Heart Shelter houses six families and six single women for up to three months, and assisting them with these important chores will help achieve their mission of seeing every homeless family and single woman move into secure housing. It was also a great opportunity to work together with my fellow employees doing something positive for the community. And since we were done by about 2:30, Stew and I were able to spend the afternoon at the movies!

Overall I felt like we really accomplished a lot for the shelter, and I'm glad that Stew and I had the opportunity to participate in this amazing day.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Six Months and Counting!

I can't believe in we will be getting married exactly six months from today! It's been a whirlwind week with lots going on as far as wedding planning is concerned. We got a lot of the big stuff done right after we got engaged (venue, catering, wedding party, my dress, two engagement parties), and then we kind of backed off for a while as spring and summer kicked in. However, I've still been researching, reading and poring over magazines in the meantime, just trying to get a picture in my head of how I would like the day to go. And now it's time to finally start making things a reality! So in the past seven days we...

  • Got our wedding website up and running.
  • Mailed out our save the date magnets, which I'm really excited about.
  • Had a first meeting with our wedding coordinator and began discussing all the details and timelines from now until the wedding. 
  • Hired our photographer and sent in the deposit to make it official.
  • Finalized our hotel room block rate and details. 

Tomorrow my mom, sister and I are getting together with one of my most creative and stylish bridesmaids so we can do some brainstorming about decorations and all the little touches that will make the wedding "ours." I always feel a little lost when it comes to anything creative so I'm hoping this will be a very inspiring afternoon for me.

Stewart has been so helpful and interested and involved with all of the wedding planning aspects, which has made the whole experience so much fun. These six months are going to fly by!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Heidi & Kyle Tie the Knot

Last weekend my mom and I headed down to the Portland area for Heidi and Kyle's wedding. 

The day couldn't have gone more perfectly. The happy couple chose a gorgeous outdoor area at McMenamins for both the ceremony and reception. We were a little uncomfortable in an uncommon September heat wave, but I was glad they had sunshine. Heidi has an adorable quirky personality, and it showed throughout all aspects of her wedding to Kyle, who seems fun and interesting in his own way, and absolutely perfect for her.

The wedding colors were teal and yellow in honor of the Oregon Ducks, with accents of hot pink throughout. For dinner they choose two buffets of their favorite foods: Italian and Breakfast. We spent most of the reception with baby Sophia so Nichole (maid of honor) could tend to the bride, which was just fine by me. Heidi and Kyle also had a photo booth in lieu of a guest book. People went in to have four photos (complete with props!) snapped... then each guest got to keep one set of photos and paste the other set into a book and write a personal message next to it. Very clever.

Daddy & Sophia in her "Mini-Bride" outfit.

The Gals & Miss Sophia all dressed up.

Nichole, Sarah and Sophia dancing at the reception.

All my very favorite ladies, all in one place!

Photobooth Fun!

I kept a watchful eye on the entire wedding and I found lots of little tidbits I'd like to copy, so thanks Heidi & Kyle! 

Congratulations on your marriage and the start of your new life together!

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