Thursday, December 26, 2013

It's Christmas... All Over... Again!

Happy Boxing Day! It's time for my better-late-than-never roundup of Christmas in Seattle.

First, let's start with a few of the best decorations in Seattle. You may remember that last year we took our brand new dog on a walk through Candy Cane Lane.  We didn't make it to Candy Cane Lane this year, but we did walk around Westlake Center where there was plenty going on.

First, there is this great train display at Macy's.



My favorite part was that you touch these little mittens in the corner to start the trains.

And I love this giant star, visible from Westlake Center.

Tree at Westlake Center

 Carousel

And a giant snow globe you have your photograph taken in! 
(I don't know those kids, I just wanted to show what the snow globe looked like.) 


As for me, I know I haven't posted much glassblowing progress, 
mostly because I was working on gifts.


Glass snowmen! It seems that I've mastered either making really big hats or really tiny hats. Oops.  Well, you dress your snowman in the odds and ends you have around anyway, right? The hats that don't fit properly. Yeah, that's it... it was intentional.

I asked Jon for a Dremel with a diamond bit for Christmas so, coming soon, all of my pieces will be signed and dated!  And I'm really glad I kept some of my not-quite-perfect pieces because I've been using them to practice my engraving! 

I also made a wreath.  
Not out of glass, out of greens! These are actually just some little sprigs that fell out of our real Christmas tree as we set it up.  Ideally, I'd like to add some rosemary too, but I didn't get around to it this year.  I can pull the greens out and save the base for next year. And next year I'll add rosemary.

I got to spend time with friends, including Heather! 

And today I'm going to see family up on Whidbey Island, including some cousins I've never met before! I really can't wait! 

I hope your Christmas was Merry and that you had plenty of time to enjoy the holidays! 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Husband Day Care

Spotted in Seattle, at Thai Fusion in Queen Anne:



And, now for the zoom in:



What a great idea! Well, at least a great idea for a funny sign! I wonder if they have football... and whether they allow dogs... 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Up, Up, and Away!

You already knew that the Up house is in Seattle... what about an Up car? 



It was about 20 degrees Sunday morning when I snapped this photo. Considering helium balloons shrink in cold temperatures, and these balloons looks larger than average, I can only imagine that these were huge balloons when they were inflated.

This is a public parking lot, it was a Sunday morning before 9 a.m. and no one was around that I could see.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Bagels, Momofuku Pork Buns, and Round Rolls

This actually happened today:

Jon & Olive & I were on the elevator (Olive in her Santa suit).  The elevator stopped, and a group of three people (two men, one woman) got on, laughing.

After the doors closed, they stopped laughing and one of the men explained, "Oh we were just talking about night court."

"Really?" I asked, excited that, finally, someone was speaking my language.

"Yeah. Do you remember that old 80s show?"

"Oh yeah," I answered, "I thought you meant real night court. Like, 5pm to 1am, in court."

"That's a real thing, night court?"

"Sure, I used to work it, like twice a month."

To his friends: "We should go downtown and watch night court tonight. That'd be awesome."

"There's no night court in Seattle. That was in New York."

All three friends, simultaneously: "Ssshhh! Don't ever say that New York has things that Seattle doesn't have. Don't let them hear you!"

I guess they're not ready to hear my carefully curated list of foods from New York that I can't get in Seattle.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Tons of Bleeping Sequins!

When I saw this Jezebel story pop up on my newsfeed, I knew two things.

Warning! NSFW - F-bomb!





First, that Seattle is the greatest city in the world.

and

Second, that I wanted to go to the Glitter Sale!



So, I twisted my friend Heather's arm and we made our way down to the International District. First of all, they had an actual parking attendant showing people where to park. Like at a fair. Or a concert.


Even the parking signs are shiny!


Second of all, they had food trucks in the parking lot. We parked and walked to the entrance, where we were greeted by the friendly staff who gave us... badges! Very VIP!

The badges had our numbers. Heather, the odds ever in her favor, got lucky #666. I got the decidedly less exciting 667.

Along with our badges, we got instructions. "Don't feed your thrift shop finds after midnight." Sorry, no, that wasn't it. Oh, yeah, it was "Wait for your number to be called before attempting to enter the Glitter Sale."  But it wasn't all Glitter Sale!  This Goodwill Store is huge.  Ginormous. Bigger than ginormous. Probably, a million square feet, and I'm only barely exaggerating. Only a portion of it, about the size of a regular Goodwill Store was set aside for the Glitter Sale.

You could go in the regular (huge) Goodwill Store while you waited for your number to be called. They made announcements over the loudspeaker and... check out this technology... you could receive text message updates! When we entered, they were allowing 400-425 into the sale. So we wandered around the regular Goodwill Store for a while. And we found some cool stuff! A few shirts, none of which made it past the try-on phase. I got an adorable 99 cent costume for Olive for next Halloween. And a couple of little Thanksgiving host gifts for Karissa. (Does she read It's Always Sunny? I better not say what her gifts are, but I spent less than $3 on them.)  They had some Christmas ornaments that didn't make the cut, but I wished I had known that they had Christmas Tree Stands before I bought one for full price. Unfortunately, Miss Karissa was too hungover to join us, or she might have brought home one of these fabulous tables. (I like the frosted glass one, but Heather liked the vintage formica with... are they cherries?) 


But, in hindsight, maybe we spent too long in the non-Glitter part of the store. We were tired and thirsty and in need of caffeine by the time our numbers approached. So we decided to make a break to Starbucks to revitalize. Of course, just as we pulled into Starbucks, my phone dinged with a text message - we were allowed in the sale. A quick refreshment later, we were back in action... and in the Glitter Sale! 

Now, I should say that not everything in the Glitter Sale is glitter and sequins. Although, plenty of it is. It's also features many of their designer and high quality vintage items that they hoard all year for this special sale.  
Like, a set of 1950s Louis Vuitton Suitcases. No glitter or sparkles, but amazing nonetheless. All I want to know is, who the heck donated these?

There were a lot of fur and leather coats, evening gowns and dress shoes. Some people came prepared! There were women in leotards so that they could try on dresses right there in the aisle! 

Heather tried on this fabulous sequined cape:
I can only hope your screen size is doing it the justice it deserves.

There was also a separate jewelry section of the Glitter Sale. The numbers for the glitter sale were going a lot more slowly because they had a limited number of staff members retrieving the jewelry from the cases. They were in the 400s by the time we left, and I think we could have maybe stayed until closing and not gotten into the jewelry sale. 

Alas, we bought nothing in the Glitter Sale. I've got to say, I think we were a little burnt out by the time we got into it.  So, plans for next year: 
  1. Get there early
  2. Get numbers
  3. Sign up for the text messages
  4. Go eat breakfast somewhere (I'd like to say a diner, but this Jersey Girl has yet to discuss the Seattle diner situation.)
  5. Don't shop in the regular Goodwill. That is best left to another day.
  6. Pack light. We're going to be digging through racks, this is no time for a heavy handbag. 
  7. Wear clothes that are easily layered for trying things on. 
  8. Maybe go get lunch or take a coffee break and then come back for the jewelry sale.
  9. Hopefully we'll have some fabulous event coming up and be in need of evening wear. If not, we'll have to make our own event.
  10. Never ever end a list with only 9 items. C'mon now.
Curious about what other kind of good stuff they had at the Glitter Sale?  Check out some of these posts on the Glitter Sale blog. (Why, yes, the Glitter Sale does have its own blog! And I am in looove with that Orange suit with matching gloves. And red Prada top. And the Snowflake Pin. Looove with a triple o.) 

Ok, I've kept you hanging long enough... want to see Olive in her 99 cent costume?  Remember, it's for next year. I could withhold this another 11 months, but 1) I'm a benevolent blogger and 2) I do think it belongs here in the Goodwill post.  So, here goes:

She's a pirate wench! 

If she does not win the cutest dog costume contest at Jon's work next year, you don't want to be there to see how this stage mom reacts! 


In the end, we brought home no sequins. But we did bring home memories and plans for next year. This guy talking about sequins will have to hold us over until next year. 

Can you handle the remix? It's even better than the original! (But still NSFW.)


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Oh, Christmas Palm

Some years, I feel really into Christmas. Some years, not so much. I think, in my perfect world, Christmas might be every two years, because that's about how often I muster up the real Christmas Spirit.

Every year, though, I have two favorite Christmas commercials. I know, Christmas isn't supposed to be commercial, but when I see these two I get really excited.

First, the Hershey's Kisses handbell ringers.

Did you know that I played handbells when I was a kid? That might be why this commercial has a special place in my heart.



I've seen the Hershey's Kisses Commercials a few times already this season.

My most favorite commercial, however is a little rarer.  I feel lucky to see it once or twice per Christmas season and... I might be known to audibly gasp when I catch it on TV.



Corona calls it "Oh Tannenpalm."  Why do I love this one so much? Why is it so classic?  I guess I like to imagine myself celebrating Christmas down in Mexico, lights in my palm tree.  Surprisingly, we do have some palm trees here in Seattle, but not tall ones like that.

Palm tree on Alki Beach, West Seattle.

My parents have a fake Christmas palm tree down in Florida. I think it's pink. I, too, think pink and Christmas go well together. But this year, I've got to think about what will go well with evergreen because...   We're getting our very first live Christmas Tree this year! 

I'm really getting into the holiday spirit. We have some Christmas ornaments, but probably not enough to decorate a 5-6' tree, so I need to either think about hitting up the thrift shop, or maybe making some! 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Overnight French Toast

One of the best things you can do is plan ahead for breakfast.  There are few things more enjoyable than waking up in the morning and thinking "I've already got breakfast covered." And we're not talking cereal here.

Case in point: Saturday night. We had a friend staying with us and I decided, late Saturday night, to would whip up some Overnight French Toast.

My mother has an Overnight French Toast recipe that she made for years on Christmas Eve so we'd have an easy but special breakfast Christmas Morning. This recipe is a variation on that, incorporating a few ingredients I found in other recipes and what I happen to have on hand. As with all recipes, feel free to experiment, add in what you like and take out what you don't.

Ingredients:

  • Half of a loaf of bread (about 8 slices).  I like to use cinnamon bread if I have some on hand, but white bread or challah bread work great. 
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter (1/2 stick of butter)
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup agave syrup (brown sugar can be used as a substitute)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup - please please please use real maple syrup and not that "pancake syrup" high fructose corn syrup with artificial maple flavoring stuff
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • Coconut Oil or butter for greasing pan
  • 1 cup of frozen strawberries or other berries, optional

I found the best pan for this is 8 or 9 inch square cake or brownie pan like this one.   This is perfect for 3-4 people, especially if you're making a side of bacon.  If you're feeding a larger crowd, you might want to use one of those larger disposable half-size steam table foil things and double the recipe.  (It's hard to clean, so despite my reduce-reuse-recycle tendencies, this might be a good occasion for the disposable pan.)

Grease the pan well.  I used coconut oil and rubbed it all around, including the sides, but you could use butter or oil.  In my opinion, coconut oil or butter are a little better than oil here because they enhance the flavor beautifully.

In a small sauce pan, heat 1/2 stick of butter. As it melts, add in 1/2 cup of agave syrup and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Stir and heat until butter is melted, then remove from heat.

Pour about 1/3 of the butter mixture on the bottom of the cake pan, doing your best to coat the bottom of the pan. Top it with a layer of bread, making an effort to make an even layer of bread, even if that means you have to rip the bread up into smaller pieces.

Add cream cheese over the the layer of bread. I don't make any effort to spread the cream cheese, I just put little pats of cream cheese spaced evenly in a layer.  They'll melt and ooze in there a little. Add another drizzle (about 1/2 of the remaining) of the butter.  Then add another layer of bread.  I try to make an effort to lay my bread in the opposite direction so I don't have "seams" without bread in the gaps.  Top with the rest of the butter mixture.

In a separate bowl, beat 4 eggs, 1/3 cup milk, a pinch of salt and maple syrup.  Pour the egg mixture over the bread, being careful to moisten all the bread with the egg mixture as much as possible (try to avoid leaving dry areas).  Cover and refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours.

In the morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Uncover pan and bake 45 minutes.  If you would like, throw some berries or banana slices on the top before baking.  Some other ideas are to incorporate nuts or raisins, but that's really not my style.

The french toast is pretty perfect the way it is, but feel free to top with additional butter or warm maple syrup before serving if you're into that kind of thing. Brew some coffee, fry some bacon, and enjoy the benefits of being a pre-planner!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Happy Seattle-iversary!

Today we celebrate one year in Seattle.  It's been better than I ever could have imagined.



I learned at Klondike Gold Rush National Park that a person who survived a year in Alaska was known as a "sourdough."  I wonder what the term for a person who has survived a year in Seattle might be?  A salmon or a Sounder maybe?

During this year we have:

Found an apartment

Been to a Husky game and even got our photo with Dubs, the UW Husky mascot.

Adopted Olive

Made new friends

and had visits from old friends

Visited a volcano

Viewed all sorts of wildlife and spotted lots of rainbows

Drank a lot of coffee

and have been more to festsparadesdog parks, happy hours, and farmers markets in one year than in our entire lifetimes.

I have become a teacher and a glassblower (although not a glassblowing teacher) and been admitted to the Washington State bar.  And I've kept up with this blog somewhat successfully!

I'm reminded of an article that I read which asked, when does someone become a real "New Yorker"? Is it when they've lived in the city for a certain number of years? And, if so, how many - 1?  5?  10?  Is there a signature event, like being mugged or acting nonchalantly in front of a celebrity? Or some other status like having your own hot dog cart guy?

We have our own fish guy, that has to count for something!


And our own favorite graffiti artist! 

As for assimilating, we have learned to carry reusable bags everywhere, we never carry umbrellas, we know exactly what to compost, and we have proudly become "those people" who bring their dog everywhere.



Once in a while, things pop in to my head that make me have what I think of as "a real Seattle moment." A couple of weekends ago, I was in the car with Karissa and Heather when one of them said, "You should have seen it this morning. It was so cloudy, it was beautiful." And the other responded, "Oh yeah, I saw it, it was great." Is that Seattleite enough - admiring the cloudiness?

Whether or not we're official Sounders now, we've enjoyed our first year in Seattle and are looking forward to year two!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Halloween Happenings

Heather, Karissa and I went to the pumpkin patch.  
 And, although we were most excited to get apple cider doughnuts, I have to report that the cinnamon roll was the biggest culinary highlight for me.


Then we went back to Karissa's and carved pumpkins and toasted pumpkin seeds.

Karissa made the black cat in the tree, I made the Seattle skyline with moon, and Heather made the Dracula! 


Olive went to her first Halloween party.  She tried on multiple costumes...
Butterfly 
(I think this one was her favorite because it didn't hinder her movement too much and she got a lot of positive attention)


Hot Dog with Mustard 
(least favorite, she couldn't really walk without it falling off, unfortunately, because it is cute) 


And, finally, my favorite, tricera-pup! 






This past weekend, there was a big disaster in Seattle!
The Space Needle collapsed! I'm surprised it didn't make the news! 
Luckily, I was able to save it with a toothpick.  I think I'll be adding "structural engineer" to my resume.


And, the college where I teach is having a safe trick or  treating event where kids can come and trick or treat at different doors on campus.

The students decorated the doors to indicate to the kids which ones were available for trick or treating... 
This is the door my students decorated! Pretty scary, right? 

Happy Halloween! I love this time of year!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Anniversary Trip

Jon and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary this past weekend. We were married on a boat and, appropriately, spent our anniversary on boats.


First, we took the ferry to Friday Harbor on Friday afternoon.  On Saturday, we went whale watching.


We saw big fat Steller sea lions. Unlike California sea lions that "arf, arf, arf" these sea lions are larger and make a loud belching roaring noise.  

Here's a big roaring bull:


And orcas! I love them. They are awesome to watch.  We saw them hunting and feeding.

They killed a porpoise. We didn't actually see the killing but we could tell that they all turned and surrounded something and within a few minutes seagulls were swooping in scavenging the leftovers. 

Ready for something gross?  Brace yourself.


Those are porpoise lungs floating after the orcas ate. I guess there are other parts they leave behind but the lungs float because they have air in them. Gross but fascinating.

We saw a lot of little harbor seals. One swam right up to our boat which the orcas were around and I thought he was going to be their next meal!  He made eyes at like us "Umm, did you see those guys? Mind puling me up on your boat?"

It's the circle of life, but there's no easy team to route for in this one. I love the orcas and I want them to eat, of course, but I love porpoises and seals and hate to think that they have to be dinner.

We also saw humpback whales, but we only caught a couple of tail flaps from afar but by the time we got in closer, they had disappeared.  So, not humpback pictures, unfortunately.  Well, none that you can see very clearly:

 See that little splash there? That's humpback, baby!

Up next were Dall's porpoises.  They loved to swim fast, criss-crossing right in front of our boat.  I sat on the bow and was inches away from these awesome porpoises that have a black and white coloring similar to orcas.

I love the Dall's porpoises. Ok, fine, I loved everything I saw. 

Including this circular rainbow halo around the sun (also known as a "sundog").  


And more orcas:

These guys are big and powerful. I am impressed.  




Can you imagine keeping these majestic creatures in a tank?  Allow me to get on my soapbox for just one moment while I recommend an amazing movie please:

Ok, back to the anniversary trip. 

Later, Saturday afternoon, after we picked Olive up from daycare, we drove out to Lime Kiln State Park to take in the amazing views:


The next morning, it was time to check out and head home. But first, we stopped at Jackson Beach Park to allow Olive to wear herself out a little bit and for us to enjoy the sun we won't be seeing much longer.

Olive had the time of her life running around the beach, sniffing the drift wood, and trying to get us to chase her. For a moment I thought we'd never catch her, but in the end, she ran straight to the car! I guess she was ready to go home!

Back on a boat! Third day in a row! Ferry back home!  Look at that sunshine, it's beautiful!


I don't know what this is about, but we definitely did not carry our own log aboard.

We'll know for next time.

And, driving home, we passed through Deception Pass. What a crazy place.


And, finally, my anniversary gift to Jon. As you may know, the first anniversary is paper, so I framed a signed copy of a poem that was read at our wedding entitled "How Falling in Love is Like Owning a Dog" by Tylor Mali, along with some photos from our wedding and with our little Olive.


The top left corner and the bottom right corner are pictures from our wedding.  The other two corners are just your regular, ordinary, run of the mill, cute pictures of Olive.   On the left of the poem is Olive's preschool graduation and on the right of the poem is the day we adopted Olive, I took this picture at Seattle Humane Society. Those two aren't the best, in terms of photo-quality, but they were special days for us!

We had a fabulous anniversary and, truly, an unbelievable first year of marriage.  Here's to many more!