Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sheena & Nick's Winery Wedding

The happy couple just after saying their vows.
My college roommate and longtime friend Sheena married the love of her life, Nick, last night... we couldn't be happier for the two of them!

Sheena and I went to Western together and have remained friends ever since, so we've gotten to watch and support each other through years of dating on our journey toward finding a fairy tale ending. So now, more than 12 years after we met as freshman in the dorms, it was so much fun to watch Sheena and Nick tie the knot. We were honored to be a part of their big day, and their happiness and love for one another could not have been more evident.

Columbia Winery in scenic Woodinville wine country.

The ceremony and reception took place at Columbia Winery in Woodinville. It was an absolutely gorgeous evening for a wine country wedding. We had a fantastic time even though we had to leave a little early to drive to Idaho for Stew's family reunion in the morning. The happy couple is off to the Cook Islands, and we're sure they will have a fantastic time!

Adorable box for cards.

With Rach waiting for the start of the ceremony.

Enjoying cocktail hour before dinner.

Big hug for the happy bride - isn't she glowing! Gorgeous.

Sheena loves purple as you can see from these lovely centerpieces.

My first "Sarah Alway" name card!

Our first wedding since we got married.

Goodbye hug for Rach.

We were super bummed that we didn't get to stay late for more dancing and celebrating, but we had to get home to squeeze in a couple hours of shut eye before starting our seven hour drive to Priest Lake. But we were so glad we got to be a part of Nick and Sheena's big day, and we're really looking forward to a week long vacation!

Congratulations to the newlyweds!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Book Review: A Wedding in December

I have no idea how I acquired A Wedding in December by Anita Shreve. It smells vaguely like dryer sheets though, so perhaps I grabbed it from the laundry room at my old apartment (there was a whole shelf down there where people would dump books they didn't want anymore). In any case, I was so pleasantly surprised by this book!

The novel takes place over an unseasonably warm December weekend as seven high school friends come together at an inn in Maine for the wedding of two of them; first loves who have been reunited. Old attractions, buried secrets, and still vivid memories bubble to the surface as the weekend unfolds. I loved every single character in this book, and Shreve does an amazing job of weaving the adventures of the current weekend in with memories of the past. In addition, she also manages to create a parallel plot by having one of the friends write a fascinating short story. Surprisingly, it does not detract but actually adds a lot to the book. 

Before picking up A Wedding in December I hadn't ever heard of Anita Shreve, but apparently she has written quite a few novels including one that was featured on Oprah's Book Club. I really, really enjoyed this novel because it was well written with excellent characters, but it was also a quick fun read. When I have time I'm definitely going to seek out more of Anita Shreve's books.  

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cowabunga Dudes!

My cousins and I were absolutely obsessed with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when we were growing up. We loved the cartoon, lived for the movies (I still own the trilogy on DVD), and most of our make-believe games consisted of us acting out various TNMT scenes. My sister Erin, my cousin Tara and I could never agree on who got to be April O'Neil, so in the name of fairness we often became April One, April Two, and April Three; in age order of course. This was on the days when we weren't playing the Turtles themselves (I was always Leonardo because duh, as the oldest I was the leader and the boss!). Erin and Tara would argue over who got to be Michelangelo, because obviously he was far cooler than his brothers, Donatello and Raphael.

After our respective roles were agreed upon for the day, it was time to drag the little kids into our games. My brother AJ and my cousins Shane and Kate were systematically assigned less desirable roles such as other Turtles, Master Splinter, or evil villains like Shredder. If we were feeling generous we'd like one of them play Casey Jones. My aunt has a hysterical home video of all of us playing TNMT in the woods behind my grandparent's house. We're running through the trees feigning some sort of battle, and poor Shane has lagged behind. We don't wait up for him, so he eventually stops in the bushes and sadly cries, "I'm not Shredder!" complete with a lower lip pout. I think he's about four or five, and it's absolutely adorable. He's just lucky we didn't make him a lowly member of the Foot Clan.  

Google Image.
Needless to say, our fascination with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has not diminished over the years. We talk about it constantly and are sure to alert one another when we come across any radical TNMT items. A few years ago I found Ninja Turtle t-shirts at Forever 21 and gave them to Erin and Tara for Christmas. And recently Kate and AJ alerted me of the Ninja Turtle Nose Tattoo... I don't think I've laughed so hard in a long time.
Almost as good, Erin found this handpainted Ninja Turtle bra on Etsy...

And Kate saw these amazing beanies at the Pike Place Market...
perfect for winter!

She also discovered these radical shot glasses...

And I found these amazing costumes at the Southcenter Mall.
We may not be kids in the '90s anymore, but for some reason the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles never get old. There's something about them that gives me those nostalgic childhood feelings of when life was simpler and we could spend an afternoon chasing each other around the woods with absolute glee (except for poor Shane, of course). And whenever I'm feeling down, I just think about Vanilla Ice's Ninja Rap and remind myself not to take life too seriously... (Note to self: Must perfect those dance moves).

But when we all start having kids one day we'll probably have some serious arguments over who gets to name their daughter April.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sunday Dinner

I wasn't able to make the gym, tanning, OR laundry happen this weekend, but Matt and Alissa still invited us over for a Jersey Shore style Sunday dinner to end the weekend. We sat down to a lovely meal of some absolutely delicious flank steak fajitas (new lifestyle fail), and I was so thankful that I didn't have to cook after my long journey to Bellingham and back that afternoon.

Seriously, doesn't that just make you want to fist pump? Many thanks to Matt and Liss for inviting us over! I'd love to make Sunday Dinner a tradition, but sadly I think we're out of town most weekends for the rest of the summer. And I'd say we could pick it up in the fall, but I have a feeling football season might get in the way. It's always lovely to get together with friends whenever we can find the time though.

In preparation for the week I did manage to get some turkey meatloaf muffins and pumpkin protein bars made, as well as spend over $100 at the grocery store, so there is really no reason why we need to go out to eat this week. We'll see how that pans out...

How was your weekend?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Carrie's Baby Shower

I went to my darling friend Carrie's baby shower in Bellingham on Sunday and had such a good time. The girls had adorable decorations and delicious food set out, including mason jars with pink polka dot straws for lemonade and an ice cream sundae bar for later.

As you can tell from the decor, Carrie is having a Baby Girl.

We played a couple shower games and I failed epically at all of them. I only got 2.5 points out of 7 on the baby food challenge! But honestly, you try to distinguish sweet corn casserole from sweet potatoes by smelling (and tasting - ick!) little multicolored piles of strange smelling goo. What are we feeding these poor kids?!

Carrie (and baby) got loads of amazing gifts. Stew and I got them a Fisher-Price "My Little Snugabunny" Bouncer Seat, which I know my niece loved so I thought it was a safe bet. It was a long drive up to Bellingham and back by myself for the shower, but I was so happy to get to celebrate with Carrie who is looking gorgeous and glowing as ever.

Carrie with little sister Claire.

Me and Momma-to-be!

So excited to welcome Baby!

Jess made Carrie monthly onsies to track Baby's progress - so cute!

The shower was super cute and I was so glad I made the trek north. When I came home I told Stewie, "Maybe we should have a baby!"  He turned white so I don't think we're quite there yet...

Monday, July 23, 2012

Date Night

My best friend Crystal and I are both extremely busy, so we often make plans far in advance just to make sure we have the opportunity for some quality time here and there. This Saturday we had a date night planned and I was really looking forward to it.

We met up and drove to Kirkland where we strolled over to Milagro Cantina to have dinner. We ordered a couple delicious drinks from the bar while we waited for about ten minutes for our table on the patio to be ready. Once seated, we finished our drinks and chit chatted while we waited for the server. It wasn't until about 20 minutes later that we noticed no one had greeted us, brought us water, or acknowledged our presence in any way. We waited about 10 more minutes until we were done with our drinks and then walked out of the restaurant, alerting the hostess to the atrocious lack of service on the way out. We will not be returning to Milagro Cantina any time soon.

Instead, we wandered through the Kirkland Uncorked festival until we decided that we definitely still wanted Mexican food, so we hit a tried and true restaurant, Cactus. If you've never tried the Navajo Fry Bread at Cactus, do so immediately. It comes with honey for dipping and it's absolutely incredible. I had the Butternut Squash Enchiladas which went along fairly well with my new lifestyle, as well as a yummy mojito. The service was great as per usual.

After dinner we grabbed some froyo from Cefiore and walked down to the edge of the lake to eat it. Sitting with a girlfriend on a beautiful evening at the edge of a gorgeous lake while eating frozen yogurt and gossiping is just about the best Saturday night I could ever ask for. We also wandered down the docks to look at the boats (and gawk at the wasted boaters) until it got chilly enough to head back.

We weren't quite ready to head home yet, so we stopped at Lot No. 3 in Bellevue for a drink. Here is a lovely quote from the front of the drink menu:

"There cannot be good living,
where there is not good drinking."
-Benjamin Franklin

I decided to be adventurous and order a special house cocktail. I can't remember what it was called or what liquor was in it, but it had a cucumber flavor combined with bitters which I wasn't really a fan of. Next time I'll stick to my usual.

We were stuffed and exhausted by the time we called it a night, but it was such a lovely evening and I'm so glad we found the time to catch up. Crys is moving to Roseburg, OR next month and I won't see her nearly as often so I need to squeeze in as much quality time as I can get with her!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Friday Night Yummies

My bestie Tara invited me to a little girl's night on Friday to celebrate her friend's promotion. These gals are foodies and they made the most amazing yummy dishes to share!

Tomato Caprese, Farfalle Pasta w/ goat cheese and basil, Kale Salad w/ garbanzo beans and avocado.

These fabulous dishes (combined with some delicious champagne) were a fantastic way to end a very busy week. I'm always so inspired by people who are able to throw together gourmet dishes with ease... I tried to watch and learn! YUM.

Gorgeous photo Tara took from the balcony at Janae's townhouse.
Sometimes I really miss living in Queen Anne!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Lifestyle Choices

It's possible I am the most gullible person alive. When I first heard that the world was ending in 2012, I start stocking up on food, water, cash, batteries, and zombie weapons. Whenever I see an infomercial about the latest and greatest miracle crap product, I've already got my phone out, credit card in hand. This impulse behavior has definitely gotten me burned in the past: I officially do not endorse The Magic Bullet, Winsor Pilates, or the Nads world famous extremely painful hair removal system. Let's go ahead and file those items under "Sarah, what were you thinking?" Oh, along with the "free" trip to Vegas I got us sucked into back in 2008. Indeed... if something seems to good to be true, then it probably is. But sometimes (okay, most times, for me) things can just seem so amazing.

But I digress.

Last week I attended a presentation by Vegetarians of Washington as part of my company's Wellness program. It was not intended to convert anyone to vegetarianism, but simply outline the health benefits of a vegetarian, or mostly vegetarian, diet. It was sort of a slow Thursday for me (and hey, lunch was provided!) so I decided to attend even though I was thoroughly convinced that there was no possible way that a vegetarian diet could be well-rounded and healthy. 

I'm not writing this post to proclaim my conversion to vegetarianism, or to promote a certain lifestyle in any way. And I'm also obviously the first to admit that I'll jump on the bandwagon of pretty much anything (including the zombie apocalypse). But the presentation really did speak to me in an unexpected way, and the facts that were outlined were extremely enlightening. The health benefits alone were enough to stop me in my tracks and make me ask, "Why can't, or why shouldn't, I do this?" Not to mention the benefits vegetarianism provides to animals, the environment, and the world's hungry people.

I won't go into any details and I'm not looking for a debate, but I just wanted to share with everyone that this is something I've really started to ponder as a lifestyle choice. I'm going to start with some baby steps and hopefully take Stew to a presentation to get his thoughts, and then we'll see. I'm finding that as we get closer and closer to starting a family of our own, my health has become a bigger priority each day, and this may be my next step toward being the healthiest parent I can be.

In the meantime, you can probably look forward to seeing some recipes from my new complimentary copy of Vegetarian Times. And if you have any feedback or thoughts I would love to hear it!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Book Review: The Tiger's Wife

What is this book about? I really couldn't say, definitively. The Tiger's Wife, by Téa Obreht, is a peculiar, winding novel that doesn't seem to have any real direction or conclusion. There were small parts of the book that I liked, but I couldn't figure out how it all fit together as a whole. At the end I was left thinking, "I don't get it."

The Tiger's Wife is supposed to be an intense coming of age novel about loss, mourning, life and the storytelling that inhabits a history. It is set in a Balkan country mending from years of conflict and is told by Natalia, a young doctor who is grieving over the inexplicable circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather's recent death. She knows that one winter during WWII his childhood village was stalked by an escaped zoo tiger, and her present day journey is intermixed with stories of her grandfather's experiences with "the tiger's wife," the "deathless man," and other seemingly irrelevant characters and tales.

The stories weave in and out of one another with what seem like very few connections, until the end of the book when they basically just... stop. There was no "ah ha moment" where everything came together for me, and I never realized why I had been reading all these disjointed tales, or was able to discover how they all connected. The author's writing style was okay, but I just couldn't get past the fact that there wasn't a forward moving story. I suspect she was trying to focus on character development, but I thought that left the book seriously lacking.

I will be very curious to see what my book club has to say about this one.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Happy Birthday Aubrey!

(This post is a little late, but I wanted to wait until I had some super-adorable pictures to go with it).

Early in the morning on July 2nd a little miracle arrived... My niece, Aubrey Renee, was born almost four weeks early to the great surprise of her parents! Baby Aubrey was just so excited to join us out here in the world that she couldn't wait any longer. Mom and Dad are thrilled and big sister Sophia absolutely adores her little sister. I absolutely cannot WAIT to meet this precious little princess!

Aubrey Renee
Born at 3:42 a.m. on 07/02/12
6 pounds, 12 ounces, 19.5 inches

My sister Nichole and her two gorgeous girls.
It seems like just yesteday that Sophia was the "baby"!

Beautiful, beautiful family. Love them!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Stella & Dot

Last Friday Alissa and her friend Erin hosted a Stella & Dot Trunk Show featuring bites, beverages and beautiful jewels. We got to try on the entire new fall line while drinking wine, eating yummy appetizers, and socializing with fabulous ladies. This was seriously an awesome way to end my week.

If only we got to keep all that jewelry we're sampling!

There were SO many pieces I wanted to buy, but I couldn't really justify hundreds of dollars of jewelry impulse purchasing, so I settled on a pair of earrings that I really liked... in gold, which is a big step for me! I already have so much silver, but I'd really like to start wearing gold as well, so the girls convinced me that starting with one piece and building is the way to go. Next I have my eye on a killer bangle which looked so cute with a Pyramid wrap bracelet (eegads, it's on sale!!), and I am also dying for the Luna wrap bracelet. There are about 10 other things that I'm also in love with, and I pretty much plan to start purchasing all of my Christmas and birthday gifts for people strictly from Stella & Dot. Great, just what I need, another reason to shop online, Stew is going to be so thrilled...

I think I'm going to host a Trunk Show in the fall, so be there or be square, ladies!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Engagement BBQ

Seriously, I used to babysit this girl and now she's engaged?!
My how the time does fly... 
My darling cousin Tara recently got engaged to her boyfriend fiancé Jody, and I could not be more excited for them. They hosted an engagement barbecue celebration at her dad's house last weekend and it was so great to see everyone. Plus Tara and Jody have been living down in Arizona for the past few years but they recently moved back to Washington, so it's so much fun to see them more often. And even more exciting, soon they will be moving to the north Tacoma area so they'll be even closer to me and Stew. Yay!

Tara & Jody... so happy for these two!

Cousins photo shoot!

This was actually a great opportunity to bring Tara a huge stack of wedding magazines I still had hanging around... I hope they inspire her to plan the wedding of her dreams, whether it be large or small I know it will be perfect and I am so excited for Tara and Jody to begin their new life together.

Congratulations, love birds!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Summer Summer Summertime!

Well, it appears that summer in Seattle has finally arrived! After Katie's baby shower we went down to American Lake for a little boating... the first time we'd been out in Brett's boat all summer! I was seriously afraid I might have forgotten how to wake surf, but luckily it seems to be just like riding a bike.

I am just so, so happy that summer finally seems to be here. Stewart and I were talking and thinking that usually by this point in the summer we would have been out in the boat at least a dozen times, but this year's dreary, cold weather just hasn't really inspired a lot of boating. So it was such a great way to spend a Saturday evening!

Yes! Back on the surf board and loving it!

Dancing like an idiot because I'm just that excited...

Testing my skills...

Add a Coors Light to anything for a little more fun.

Now if only we could re-create The Amazing Bud Light Save... 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Katie's Baby Shower

With Host Haley and Momma Katie.
I attended Katie's lovely baby shower on Saturday afternoon and we had so much fun celebrating for Harper Paisley! The girls did a fantastic job organizing the shower, everything was color coordinated in pink, green, and paisley patterns of course. There was delicious food and a sweet treats candy table, as well as yummy drinks including root beer floats, a favorite of mamma-to-be! Katie didn't want to have any awkward ice breaker shower games, so we just got to sit around in the sun and socialize which was really nice. And there were a few activities for Baby Harper which you'll see below...

Sweet Treats Table... Stewie was happy to take care
of the left overs!

Jess and Katie in her adorable paisley dress.

The invite said instead of a card, bring an unwrapped
book for Baby Harper. Then we filled out bookmarks with
all our hopes and dreams for her! So cute.

Katie was absolutely glowing.

I love love loved the pink and green decorations.

Katie and her Momma, soon to be Grandma!

Lots of presents for baby (and mom & dad)!

Art project! Everyone contributed by painting
designs on wooden letters for Harper's room... another
super cute idea!

Harper already has so many people who love her!

Katie and Harper got so many amazing gifts! We got them a Bumbo Baby Seat in lime green from their registry, as well as a Naptime Melodies CD. For a book I got Harper "The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein, one of my absolute favorites growing up. I hope she likes it!

As Katie opened her mountain of gifts I found myself becoming slightly overwhelmed... how do new moms know what the heck they need to get ready for a tiny human? Katie got all kinds of amazing gadgets that would never even occur to me! But I guess I do know a few things, like Bumbo Baby Seats are super popular, as well as Sophie Giraffe, which I gave to Cailin. And my sister Nichole has kept me pretty well informed on other must-haves, like a Boppy, so I suppose with the help of my family and friends I'll survive somehow (when that day comes!).

In the meantime I am having such a great time watching all the people I love as their families grow. We just can't wait to meet Baby Harper!