The Hunt for Fall Leaves (and Pumpkins)

I constantly feel like the White Rabbit with my blog. I look at time/date and say to myself, "I'm late, I'm late for a very important post. Not time to say hello good-bye, I'm late, I'm late, I'm late." There are at least five things on my list to write about here. Some of them can wait (like all the wonderful books I've read recently), but others might seem odd to post later on (like pumpkins in December). Fall leaves and pumpkins is pretty borderline as it is. Soon we're moving on to Christmas with trees and candy canes, but in my book pumpkins and leaves are totally game up until Thanksgiving. Cool? You're okay with that? Good. 

I had a slight obsession this year about going out to see fall leaves. I absolutely love the fall and the want to see all the fall colors overwhelmed me (and probably Josh). The first weekend we went out to find fall leaves, I thought we'd find them at Bellevue Botanical Gardens. I found out about it in this article about fall leaves in Seattle. Makes sense, right? Wrong! We saw some but not much. Severely disappointing. I think I complained so much that Josh promised to try again the following weekend.

So the next weekend we ended up going outside of Seattle to Snohomish's Lord Hill Park. We had a heck of a time finding it, and when we did find it finally, it started to rain. You'd think I was kidding, but I'm not. But we did get a few minutes on walking in, though. And there were some fall leaves. Unfortunately, I think what I had in my mind was like this (click to see), and what I got was what you see in my photos below. Someone probably should remind me that we don't live on the East coast...

As you can see, there were some leaves & some colors, so we found some fall. But you know what was annoying? Well, when we'd drive around, I'd see all sorts of fall leaves on trees along the road. Gah! I really wanted them all clumped together in a park where I would frolic around in glee and take awesome photos. No fall frolicking really happened, but my must-see-fall-leaves obsession was slightly abated by the end.

With my fall leaves fixation (somewhat) taken care of, we turned next to our hunger needs. We ended up at a place, or should I say bus, called Old School BBQ in Monroe. Yes folks, this was a bus turned into a restaurant. One bus was for the ordering and the kitchen, and then there was another bus for dining. How sweet is that? And the BBQ was delicious to boot.

Talking about things I get fixated on...pumpkins. And not my pumpkin eating obsession, but the pumpkins themselves. When I was little my parents would take my sister and me to Bates Nut Farms. I just loved it. Even thought I'm not a kid, and we don't have kids, I still wanted to find a pumpkin patch. I'm weird & I'm aware of it. 

After lunch it was raining, and I decided we should squeeze in a pumpkin patch to our day (Craven Farms to be exact). But it was raining pretty hard. I told Josh we'd just drive there and if it was still raining, we'd skip it. I tell you, it was destiny. The rain stopped and the sun came out right as we pulled up. 

But it was MUDDY. Like, totally muddy. And wet. But look at the pumpkins....PUMPKINS! 

Remember how I just said it was wet, well when I tried to lift the pumpkin the stem was soggy, slimy, and wet. Please note that no pumpkins were harmed in my attempts to pick them up (I know you're not supposed to pick up from the stem). The photos were only for show. But they were indeed quite heavy. 

Yay! Pumpkins. Hay rides and corn mazes. 

In one day we managed to find fall leaves and pumpkins. Not bad in a days work. 

Maybe in December we'll go snow and Christmas tree farm hunting....(don't tell Josh)

Weekend Visitors

Back in September, my in-laws visited for the weekend. It was an awesome weekend and ended with a beautiful sunset. We had a great time sharing Seattle and the surrounding areas with them. 

For starters, we took them over to West Seattle's Alki Beach. There was a blustery wind, but the sun was shining. We enjoyed a walk on the beach, breathing in the salty air. Nada, my mother in-law, loved Alki - it reminded her of Surfside where she grew up. 

Then we enjoyed lunch at Luna Park. We all split an Oreo shake (yes that was one shake split between the four of us). It was quite delicious. Fun fact: Cookies 'n Cream is my favorite ice cream. 

We also got to celebrate Nada's birthday with family friends Vince and Jonita. I picked out the restaurant, Tanglewood Supreme, which was a big hit. It's a hidden, little bistro in Magnolia. Oh yea, and then we enjoyed decant molten chocolate cakes at Hot Cakes later in the evening. BAM, that's how you celebrate.

Sunday we went northward and hit up Edmonds and then over to Snohomish. We ended the day with dinner on the patio of Little Water Cantina watching planes land on South Lake Union. BAM, that's how you have an awesome weekend with your in-laws. 

Smart Dogs in Action

Let me tell you dogs can be pretty dang smart. With just a whistle and a command, a dog can run 40 yards (come on, that's far! without glasses, I bet you have to squint) to where a small herd of sheep graze. Then this dog rounds up the sheep, brings them back down the field, circles through gates, and ends with the sheep inside a pin. Gosh, I don't even think I could manage herding sheep with such skill. These dogs just amaze me. And every year the world can see them in action at the Vashon Sheepdog Classic.

This was our second year in a row going to the sheepdog trials, and we were equally impressed. I convinced my co-worker & friend, Shweta, to join us as well. Look at those smiles. 

This year it was in August instead of late September, so we were pretty warm sitting on in the sun. But we still enjoyed walking the dogs do their thing. I caught this border collie on video for you. if you listen, you can hear the handler's whistles. Go dog go! 

You got to hand it to them, they are pretty smart. Mostly it's Border Collies and Australian Shepards out there herding. And no surprise, they are on almost any smartest dogs list you can find (like this one). 

It makes for a great day. Plus you get to take a ferry. Who doesn't like the ferry? It's Seattle, you gotta take a ferry. The way to Vashon it was sunny and blue, and on the ride back we saw a gorgeous sunset. I don't think you can end your day any better. 

Work Break: Sounders

Last Wednesday, a large group of my co-workers took a break from work. No we didn't play hooky and skip the workday - are you kidding? There is too much work to be done for that (oh sorry, the program manager part of me just spoke up)! But it was great to hang out with my awesome co-workers outside of the work place. 

For our big outing, we went to see the Pride of the Pacific Northwest...the Sounders. We took up a good chuck of a section - maybe 6 rows, or so. As you can see, we are a pretty rambunctious group - like Rick doing the moose ears back there. 

My immediate team, which I've decided to call "Cool Catz" (oh! maybe we should have that with a "K" instead! Now, that's what I'm talking about... "Cool Katz" - I like it!), was all there as well. We're pretty kool!

Side Note: I have no idea, seriously NO IDEA, who that crazy girl is that photo bombed our Cool Katz selfie. Crazy!  

We had a great time - even better that we weren't at work. And even better than all that...the treats! We got them from Diane's Delights booth. (Remember her? She showed me how to make cake pops).

Do you like my photo series? This is how it goes. Josh was scared, Josh took a bite, Josh loved it.  Heather got a macaron, Heather went in for mega bite,  Heather chomped it. 

That's really it. There is only so much to tell you about a work outing. Oh wait...there was soccer game. Riigggghhhttt. Too many selfies and treats distracting us. Well, the Sounders tied. We should have won, but at least we didn't lose. I stilled loved how the crowd gets into the spirit with the coordinating clapping and the cheering ("Seattle...Sounders" Or "Fight and Win"), streams, and fireworks. I went into a lot more detail on my first Sounder game post. 

Good team. Good soccer. Good treats. Well, just a good evening! 

Way to Go...Wayzgoose

You might remember Wayzgooze from last year? Maybe not. It's not like I expect you to follow my life or anything. Or wait a minute, you do...if you read my blog that is. So you really should remember. And if you don't, then maybe you need to start reading this blog more. I mean come on people, my life rocks. At least, that's what I lead you to believe (insert Heather's evil laugh). 

Seriously now. Last Friday was the annual Wayzgooze event. This is the second year my company has entered, but this year as Oracle. It's a ton of fun, and it's so awesome to see my creative peeps at work. This year we had even more of a turn out (probably since word got out about how fun it is). Not to mention our print rocked.

This year the event was at the South Lake Union Block Party, so there were many more folks around. I wasn't sure how it'd go being at the block party, but the printing was off to the side in the parking lot and it actually turned out great (although a bit hot). 

Time out: Are you sitting there scratching your head about what the heck Wayzgoose is? Okay, I'll pause and explain. Basically, there are teams (from a company or group) and there is a theme (this year it was South Lake Union). Each team designs a poster then transfers that design onto a sheet of linoleum, crave it out, and at the end you have a huge stamp. At the event, you roll paint onto the stamp, place poster paper on top, and then a steamroller runs over it (instead of a printing press).

Let me share some photos! Here's the carving in action in the office.

And here's us painting and carefully placing the poster down and then off.

The steamroller, of course...it's cool. (Sorry for the fuzzy photo, I only took my cell phone with me).

Our beautiful poster. I was amazed at the details our team was able to pull off. We got honorable mention - basically second place. We really should have gotten first place. Not that I'm biased, but it's true! 

Here is the winner (the red one on the far right) and the other honorable mentions. They were good, I guess. Yea, okay, they were good.

The winner poster is a unicorn and was created by TenGun. The horn is the Space Needle. It says SLU (South Lake Union, or Seattle Loves Unicorns). Cute. The Otter was created by DrawSeattle (I believe). Lastly, the Octopus was created by Starbucks Creative. 

I must admit, all the posters were pretty fantastic. 

What a great event?! Our team was happy with our second year winning a trophy. Go Oracle! Yay team! Look at us...such winners.

Are you dying for more photos? Well, my co-worker, Henry, took some great shoots. I don't think he'd mind if you had a look. 

Be on the lookout for Wayzgoose again next year! I'm pretty sure we'll be in first place - third time is a charm, right? 

While on Vacation

Guess who's on vacation?!  -->>This girl<<--

Oh yea, I'm currently sitting in a gorgeous condo in Deer Valley, Utah (just a few miles from Park City). Josh and I joined my awesome in-laws for a nice week long vacay. If you've been following me on Facebook, you'll know all about it. I've been posting a collage per day telling you all about what I'm up to. I thought I'd give you all the same preview of my vacation, and share the first five days of my vacation. 

Day 1: This was mostly our travel day SEA > SLC. We flew over Mt Saint Helens (luckily it didn't erupt) and saw the Great Salt Lake from up high. We spent the late afternoon checking out the Mormon Temple and Genealogy Center.

Day 2: This was our first day in Deer Valley. We stocked up on food for the week (Josh wheeled it in to the condo for us), enjoyed some time sitting in the sun, looking out at the Aspens from our window, viewing the rainbow after a brief storm, and just seeing Deer Valley for the first time.

Day 3: 4th of July! We started the day watching the Park City 4th of July Parade where there was a bi-plane flyover. In the evening, we saw the Texas Tenors at the Deer Valley Music Festival

Day 4: We rode the Heber Creeper train and then went rafting on the Provo river. Then we went to Kimball's Ranch, a family friend of the Browns. We petted the horses (who just happened to smile for the camera). We topped the day off with cocktails at the Stein Ericksen Lodge (next door to our condo). I also started to sport a Heather tan (aka a sunburn).

Day 5: We started the day at the Park City Silly Market. Then Nada (my mom-in-law) and I did some shopping in downtown Park City. To round off the day, Josh and I enjoyed a romantic dinner at the Riverhorse on Main

And the fun ain't over yet. Still a few more days to go. I'll be sure to fill you in with the rest of the collages. Then I'll up the ante and bring you more details after I've returned. 

Turning Older

I woke up on June 18th feeling a year older. Okay, that's really not true. But people like to ask you that on your birthday - sillies. If you ask me this whole getting older thing is weird...I really don't feel all that much older. Am I supposed to feel older? Maybe I do sometimes - like when I have a hard time stay up on New Years. This list actually sums it up pretty well. 

I really don't mind birthdays. In fact, I love them. You get all the attention. Eat where you want. Go where you want. Get presents. It's a celebration of YOU. Soak it up. Enjoy it. Yay for being born. That's my birthday philosophy. 

I had to work on my birthday. Wah wah wah. But luckily I have pretty cool co-workers. They sang to me. They gave me cards, cupcakes, coffee, and cheers (all the C's). So that was pretty awesome. Then for dinner, Josh and I got a drink at Essex and pizza at Delancey. And I opened all my cards.

And here some of the food and drink we enjoyed. A tasty snap pea brusetta and a yummy cocktail. 

So that was pretty nice. But then the weekend after my birthday, we did a even bigger food and drink excursion. We went out to Capitol Hill to Terra Plata for a romantic birthday dinner. Before dinner, we got some lovely cocktails at a speakeasy bar, Knee High Stocking Company. One of those places that you should have a reservation to (oops!) and you have to ring the doorbell. With true, classic bartenders (those that make bartending their career). I had two drinks - I tell you, I'm wild and crazy at this age...

Then, as happy as a clam (remember those two drinks), we headed to dinner at Terra Plata. We sat out on the rooftop patio, which was oh-so-nice. I felt special since they printed "Happy Birthday Heather" on our menus. 

We really enjoyed the patio. 

And we enjoyed the food - some halibut (for the hell of it), and some roasted pig. Oh and our appetizer of roasted grapes with goat cheese. Nom nom nom. And then we finished it all off with one of my favorites, macarons.

And that was one fine birthday. Now I'm ready to face another year. 

Thanks to everyone for the love on my birthday. xo, heather

Random Acts of the Month: May

Need I say it? I say it every month. Okay, I'll just say it. How is it June already?! 

June is a good month though, so I'm not disappointed. But May was full of fun, so let's not just throw it aside so quickly. Let me tell you about some of it.

We went to my co-workers boat house (aka floating home) to watch Seattle's Opening Boat Day. Yes, it's a thing - boats go on parade, there is a race, and all sorts of boat things. It was also my first time in a boat house (you know, like in Sleepless in Seattle). 

Oh Hello Robin...we found a delicious cookie and ice cream sandwich shop called Hello Robin. Cookie flavors like lemon poppy seed, orange jalapeรฑo chocolate chip, and mackelmore.

We explored Luther Burbank Park one fine, sunny day. 

I went on a business trip out to New York for a few days. I didn't get much sight seeing in, but I caught a few sights in the evening. I wrote all about it

We had a lovely dinner and cocktail at Roux, which is just as good as any NYC restaurant. So there. This little delight was A Necessary Means. In my mind: totally necessary. 

For Memorial Day, we went out for a drive on Chuckanut Drive. Can't beat our wonderful State. See more of my photos and thoughts on my post

On the Chuckanut Drive, we also came across some paragliders landing. Pretty cool.

I've been using this app/site called Sosh, and found some fun activities such as Schimitz Preserve Park. It turned out to be a nice walk, and very green. 

And a sunny afternoon in West Seattle is quite nice. 

Of course, I did some baking. I need to do another Baker's Corner! This recipe used cherries. And my other favorite spring/summer ingredient: lemon. Yum!

I also went down to Pleasanton for another client visit. My co-worker insisted on stopping at Freebirds Burritos after just having lunch with the client. Oye!

We found the marina area near us in Magnolia, and enjoyed a lunch at Maggie Bluffs with a view out to the marina, cruise ship, and water.

And to end May, some dangling shoes. 

And that does it for May. I don't know about you, but I like these little recaps. Sometimes I feel like a boring person (after seeing cool things others do on Facebook and Instragram), but this helps me remember that I do some pretty neat things. 

Chuckanut Drive

We just watch The Secret Life of Walter Mitty last night. It didn't get rave reviews (although, not bad ones either), so I wasn't expecting much of it. However, I really enjoyed it. It has a relatively simple plot, but it's really well done. And I loved seeing the scenes during Walter's adventures. He just takes off on this adventure. Like Cheryl says, "Life is about courage and going into the unknown." 

Josh and I like to just take off and go on our own mini adventures, too. Not quite like Walter, but it's fun to drive and see where we end up. We headed out last Saturday to Chuckanut Drive. We would just stop and explore when something caught our eye. We lived on the wild side. Well, for me it is a bit wild since it's totally a different way of travel then how I grew up (with everything being planned out...not that this a bad way to travel, I think the combo we have is perfection - partly planned, partly adventurous). 

We headed up the 5 freeway, and took exit 231 towards Chuckanut Drive (aka Route 11). We knew we were in for some scenery when we came to the first bridge. I was so ready to be spontaneous that I pulled into a gravel road that maybe in retrospect I shouldn't have - we survived (and so did the car). But it got us some good view.

Turn slightly to the left, and you get this:

Or cross the road, and look at this:

We hopped back into the car and continued down the road to see what else we could see.

And we came upon a side road to Taylor's Shellfish Farms. Oh, so this is where Taylor's oysters come from! (They're in many Seattle restaurants). By the way, oysters...yuck! I hate how the slither down your throat. No thank you. But apparently Josh likes that. 

You can buy oysters and some other shellfish in the little store. There are oyster shells all over the ground, and you can look out and see them out in the water/mud. 

We also got a good view of the bay. Thanks iPhone for your panoramas! 

Driving back to the main road, I had to pull over and snap a shot of the train tunnel. It made me feel like James Bond.

I think we got more of a kick out of the train, though. How do you hump a train? Did you mean bump? Or did you really mean hump? 

Of course, we had to take a few selfies and photos of each other.

The journey continued and we pulled over to pretty much every view point. I loved the little island on this view. Do you wonder, what's on that island? What animals? Any homes? Can you just boat over to it? So many mysteries. 

We ended up in Bellingham for lunch at Boundary Bay Brewery. Then we roamed around the Farmer's Market that was happening next door. We also strolled around Fairhaven, a historic part of town. 

Fairhaven, Bellingham

But then we were back on the road. And we decided to take Chuckanut Drive south, too. On the way back, though, we made some more side trips. The first was in a tiny town called Edison. There are really only about 8-10 businesses there - a gallery, bakery, a couple funky stores, and a couple places to eat. We grabbed a cookie at Bread Farm, and then a drink and rest at Sough Food

Edison

From Edison, we went out to Samish Island, which isn't really an island but a long strip of land that juts out into the water. We stopped for a whiskey tasting at Golden Distillery. There were some nice houses here with some great views. I could take this for a view; not too shabby.

Next we made a random stop at Japanese Zen Gardens (and fed some Koi). Then we noticed paragliders coming down from the hillside, and landing right by us. Now there is an adventure! Not sure if I could get myself to do paragliding; me and heights have a tough time together. 

Paragliders

We drove along and passed through Bay View, for a final view of the bay before heading back to the 5 and back home.  

What a fantastic drive! This sort of day always reminds me of what a beautiful area we live in, and it helps to reminder when we're going through some of the gray & rain...because after the rain you get green. You can't beat this!

So I'll end with the Life motto from Walter Mitty: 

To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.

Under the Sea

"Life under the sea is better than anything they've got up there..." 

You sing it Sebastian!  

Okay, now I've got you in the spirit for my post about the Seattle Aquarium. Unfortunately, there is not a hot crustacean band to play for you, sorry.

Josh and I went a few weekends ago to check out our local aquarium. We were lucky enough to score a Groupon, so we got in at a discount...booya! 

I went into the aquarium with a certain mindset. The truth is that I grew up pretty much only going to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. That or to Sea World (hello, I'm from San Diego). I felt that anything less would just be boring. Plus, lots of friends say Seattle's aquarium its more for kids than adults. So I decided it would just be an "eh" aquarium. All this is probably why it took us 3-1/2 years to finally make our way to the Seattle Aquarium. 

But...I was wrong. The Seattle Aquarium is great! Sure, I went in with my snooty Monterey and San Diego mindset, and sure there were kids, but it was a fun afternoon activity.

Inside there is a pool where you can reach in and touch the sea urchin, anemones, and star fish. Of course, I rolled up my sleeves next to the kiddos and reached in. The water was freezing, but it was neat to touch the different creatives. I learned if you wiggle your finger between the spikes of the urchin, it'll give your finger a little "hug." 

When you first walk in, there is huge exhibit with all sorts of fish. We caught the feeding time, so we saw the scuba driver swimming around. Then there are all sorts of other other exhibits full of different sea creatures. The jelly fish were psychedelic, the octopus was crazy with all it's arms and serious face, and the fish colorful. 

Some of the colors astound me. All these great colors under the water. Who would have thought?

Then we reached the outdoors part of the aquarium. There was some crazy bird that was flapping all around. I caught just a bit of it on video.

Next we reached my favorite is the otters, sea lions, and seals. How can they not be your favorite? They are just too cute. I seriously think otters have the most fun. They're always playing together and joking (okay, maybe not joking, or are they?). 

And the sea lion was getting some grub. And the seals just swim, swim, swim. I am pretty sure the one stopped to say "hello" to us. 

So don't be like me and judge a place before going. You might just find it's a great time. (But seriously, you should still check out Monterey Bay Aquarium...it's freakin' awesome). 

P.S. More photos on my Spring 2014 page.

Random Acts of the Month: April

How did it happen? How did May come up so quickly? Let's say a quick goodbye to April. Here's some randomness from my April.

I tried out my green thumb and put together my first terrarium. It's May now, and it's still alive. Success!

I meet this beautiful cat while at Sound Spirits picking up a gift for a friend.

I found graham cracker frozen yogurt at last at Zoe Yogurt! This was one of my favorite flavors back at Yumi Yogurt in the bay area. 

I'm going around to pizza places and trying to decide my favorite. I'll write to you about it once I've made a a few more stops. Can you guess where this one is from?

We enjoyed some great, sunny days. We grabbed Molly Moon's and then walked down to Kerry Park for a view of our beautiful city.

The cherry blossoms started to bloom. I love these flowers!

We went to the Japanese Gardens for peace and tranquility. I'll tell you about this afternoon soon, I promise. 

After buying Marge's delicious granola at the farmer's market, I decided I could totally make my own granola. And I did! Totally good, too. Go on, try it! I'm now on a bit of a granola "kick."

My sweet hubby brought home Trophy cupcakes one weekday...just because. Awww.

We celebrated Easter! And decorated eggs.

I tried out Stitch Fix and loved it!

I found some love while walking in Capitol Hill.

Saw some fish, otters, and all sorts of sea creatures at the Seattle Aquarium. A post about this adventures soon. 

A pretty fun-filled month if I don't say so myself. ;) April...it was good.

One Fine Easter

Happy Easter Friends! (belated)

Josh and I had one of those "one fine day" type days on Easter. Spring was in the air, it was Easter, the sun was shining, and we were happy. Nothing super thrilling, but just mighty fine.

We started off by sleeping in (ahh, heavenly). I think God would be happy to see us relax. It's been long work weeks for us lately. And Josh has a cough, so we thought we'd get some extra rest would do us good. We lounged in the morning, and I whipped up a delicious brunch - a ham and asparagus strata. I love lazy mornings!

We continued to lounge and watch some TV. Since it was Easter, and we had been putting it off for a while (months actually), we finally watched the last episode of the History Channel's series, The Bible. It really set the mood for the day. 

Then we decided to venture outdoor, so we headed to Warren G Magnuson Park. What a great park?! It runs along Lake Washington and has nice paths, and there is also a dog park. Yes, we went to the dog park and watched other people's dogs play. They would run into the water and chase each other - cute. Oh man, I'm dog crazy.

We got some good photo opps at the park as well. Look at these beautiful people...

Heather and Josh at Warren G Magnuson Park

We enjoyed the sun, scrolling around, and getting our feet in the grass.

Then we did something we never do on a Sunday afternoon...we went to happy hour. Usually we're old farts and do groceries and laundry on Sunday afternoons. No time for fun. But we broke all the rules and had a drink and appetizers at Westward. A darling restaurant along Lake Union. 

We wrapped up the day with some lemon greek chicken on the BBQ at home, tasty carrot cake whoopie pies made by yours truly, and decorating some hard boiled eggs (see photo in collage above). 

And that was one fine Easter.

See all the photos in my Spring 2014 album.

Busting out my Green

Apparently for me, St. Patrick's Day is all about food/dessert, wearing the color green, busting out all my celtic jewelry, gloating about my maiden name O'Neill, and talking about my Irish heritage (the whooping 25% of it). Just look back at my what I said in previous years: 20132012, 2011, and 2010... (it goes on, you get it).

But I must admit, I secretly love the fact that I'm part Irish. But I wonder if my Swedish and German side get jealous. I mean, I (or actually, we as a country) don't really celebrate the Swedes or Germans in any way, do we? But they oughtn't be jealous because it's really just a day to drink Baileys and Guinness. Speaking of Baileys, check out these lovelies...

Not the best photo (it was already dark out so poor lighting, deal with it), but those are some darn good Irish whoopies - Bailey's Irish Cream filled Chocolate Whoopie Pies, to be exact. Just trying to make friends at the office through their tummies. Why not, it worked with Josh.

And that's not all, yesterday I went to a St. Patrick's Day Sprinkles Party at Cupcake Royale with my friend Tricia and her little girl, Kaia. Kaia took all of three minutes to frost and destroy her cupcake. It was cute, she had "happy messy face" going on. 

For dinner, I said screw corn beef and cabbage, and made Shepard's pie. It seemed pretty Irish to me with the potatoes. Sorry, no photo, we devoured it instead. 

Of course, I busted out my green and celtic jewelry like a good Irish lass. All in all, a good St. Patrick's Day. And I can say I did all my St Patrick's Day things - green, jewelry, food, O'Neill. Done, done, and done.

I hope you had the luck o' the Irish today!

Parents in Town

I told you, right? I didn't? Are you sure? Shame on me for forgetting to tell you. My parents were in town the other weekend - the last weekend of February. Sadly, I didn't take many photos. I don't know why. I regret it. So, you get more words than photos time time (as to opposed to last time).

While it rained almost the whole time (hello, this is Seattle in February), but we still had a great time. We were originally going to head out to Port Townsend, but changed our minds Saturday morning because of the rain. Instead we opted for adventure closer to home. 

Saturday started with breakfast at Macrina, my parent's favorite bakery. My dad says his three favorite things about Seattle are: (1) his daughter & son-in-law, (2) the bakeries, and (3) the restaurants. I think 2 and 3 are probably the same. Coming from my dad, that's a huge compliment. We'll take it. Anyways, you get the idea: bakeries are important when they visit.

Then we ventured out to West Seattle. You can just hop over the bridge and get there from downtown in a few minutes. There are some cute shops on California Avenue. My dad's favorite was the wine shop - big surprise. Both parents liked Click! Josh and I enjoyed Fleurt. And we all enjoyed the antique and other shops. We replenished ourselves with lunch at Circa

After lunch, we wandered back across the bridge to SODO for the afternoon for a distillery tour and tasting. We stopped at Letterpress Distilling for a taste of delicious Limoncello. It was so good that it brought me back memories of sunny, warm days in Italy. ((Sigh...))

Skip, the owner and master distriller, was there and showed us around. He pointed out the huge vat of lemon zest with vodka marinating, and the hand-held zest machine he uses. It's a small shop, but dang good stuff, so we bought a bottle. Yum!

Next we headed over to Westland for a tour and single malt whiskey tasting. The Westland plant (store? facility? whatever you call it) is gorgeous. I loved their logo and "Thoughtfully Made" slogan (geeky, I know). Josh and I got some cool t-shirts.

The tour was fun, free, and informative. A great rainy day activity. The day we were there they just released their peated malt whiskey. I tasted it, and it was pretty smokey and peaty. I think we all liked their single malt whiskey the best. 

That was pretty much our Saturday (let's skip over the food poisoning that happened to me that night -yuck).

Sunday was a short day because my parents had to drive down to Portland for a conference my dad's work. My mom and I got mani pedis, we spend some time in Ballard for lunch, and then a pit shop at the Book Larder, a book store for cookbooks, for my mom to get the Macrina cookbook. 

And that's about it. A good weekend with my parents. Maybe next time they'll come in the summer for some good Seattle weather. Can't beat our summers here. 

The 12th Man Stands in Victory

Seattle is on fire (figuratively)! If you were here, it would be hard to miss how excited we all are for the Seahawks. We've just freakin' won the Superbowl!

For the past weeks (or months, really), people have been decked out in their Seahawks gear everywhere. Not only are the people dressed up, but the buildings as well. The Space Needle has the 12th Man flag flying on top and with blue and green lights shining. And all the buildings are putting up signs and lights. The Ferris Wheel was light up. Heck, there is even music. There are some songs that have been twisted up - like What Does a Hawk Say? or Sweet Home Field Advantage.

Honestly, I'm not an avid football fan. Only recently did I really catch the spirit - it was impossible not to! Here are a few things I've learned about the team:

  • 12th Man - This is EVERYWHERE...signs, flags, jerseys, etc. So, the 12th man...who is that? Well, there are 11 players on the field, and the 12th player is the fan. And man, are we big fans. Seattle Seahawks fans are loud and we're proud of it.  
  • Legion of Boom (L.O.B.) - Seahawks are known for there awesome defense. The legion of boom is the Seahawks' defense style. I really don't know much more, but I how I think of it, is when the other team's player tries to break through Seahawk's defense...BOOM, they are stopped. You know what they say, the best offense is the best defense.
  • Richard Sherman - He's one of the Seahawks players. There has been a lot of press about him because he it quite the talker. After the play-off game against the 49'ers, Sherman had an interview that everyone is talking about. It's all the talk...I just think he was super pumped on adrenaline and excitement.
  • Skittles - Yes, the candy. This is a cute story about Marshawn Lynch. When he was young, every time he scored a touchdown, his mom gave him Skittles. The fans (I mean, 12th Man) caught on and now when he score Skittles are thrown onto the field in celebration. No joke, apparently Seattle is running low on Skittles.
  • Russell Wilson - Our beloved Quarterback. He just seems like such a great guy. In fact, our pastor actually interviewed him. So great!

It's been a lot of fun having a city with a winning team. I don't followed about football or the Super Bowl. But those dang 12th Man fans rub off on you. So, I bought myself a Seahawks t-shirt. With t-shirt on, I felt I could really join in. Like at work, for Blue Friday, I joined in...

(Yes, it may not seem like it, but I have a Seahawk t-shirt on - it's grey but it definitely says Seahawks on it).

Responsys Blue Friday

The Friday before the Super Bowl, we had a big Seahawk party. We had yummy cupcakes. Our office manager even made the Seahawk logo out of beads. Crazy!

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We went to our friends house, the Maben's, for a couple games. We made our blue & green cupcakes (the kids helped decorate a few). 

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For the Super Bowl, we also celebrated with the Mabens. We had tasty football nibbles - chili, pulled pork, guac + chips, cheesey bread, and blue & green M&M cookies! 

And the best part of it all: WE WON! We are the World Champions! (oh, I know you thought the Broncos would win, fooled yo!). 

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I'm so proud of my city! I feel like we should all break out in one big cheer...

We've got the spirit

Yes we do, we've got the spirt,

How about you!

Funny Faces & Silly People

Well, the holidays are over. The last holiday event was last weekend, which was Josh's company office party. It was pretty fun at the Pan Pacific hotel here in Seattle. 

It seems like every good party these days has a photobooth. Who doesn't like a good photobooth? They are so popular right now. It's not a party without some sort of photobooth. And Josh's company didn't disappoint. Here's our fun snaps:

(I think the two bottom ones are my favorite)

But wait! My office party also had a photobooth. I told you, photobooths are popular. For this one, my co-worker James and his wife Sarah joined us. Yes, that's mountains and bears in the background. It's cool. 

Oh, and there is more. How many times do I have to tell you photobooths are popular? For New Year's Eve our friends Mark & Sarah co-hosted a party. They turned an iPad into a photobooth. Now, that's clever. 

We took quite a few photobooth pictures at New Years. Here's some more...

Are you sick of these funny poses and faces yet? I have even more in my back pocket. We did a photobooth back in 2012 at our friend Manuel & Alley's wedding. So, yes, it has been popular for a few years now. 

I sorta love photobooths. 

Exploring Joshua Tree

Funny that I grew up in San Diego, but never made it to Joshua Tree National Park. It's really not crazy far from my childhood home - maybe a few hours drive. Go figure. But anyway, I finally found myself there over the holidays. It's actually pretty close to Palm Springs, and my in-laws live in Indio. When Josh and I were visiting for Christmas they took us on a day trip to the park. 

One great thing was that it was sunny and warm...in the winter! Getting some Vitamin D is always a good thing. So it already had that going for it as we entered the park. Then, I knew I'd like it when all these funky "trees" started appearing. Not just one, but miles of them. 

Joshua Trees

The reason for the quotations around "tree" is that Joshua trees are not our typical tree. It belongs to the Yucca family. I'm not an expert on these trees, so I'd hate to mis-inform you. If you really are interested in what the heck they are, go to Wikipedia

I learned a fun fact from my in-laws as we were driving around the park. The name Joshua Tree comes from the Mormon settlers in the 19th century who were crossing through the dessert. They thought they trees were raising their arms up to the sky to pray like Joshua in the Bible.

Joshua Tree - Up close & personal

Besides Joshua Trees, there are a lot of boulders and rocks at the park. For this reason, there are a lot of rock climbers. There is a climber on practically every large boulder. We did a little rock climbing ourselves. But not with ropes and harnesses - just on large rocks. 

Rock Climbers - one in every picture...

But just sitting on the rocks suited us fine.

Sitting on the rocks at Joshua Tree

We did some small hikes at the park as well. One was to Skull Rock. A very clever name for a rock that looks like a skull.

There was also a view point out into the valley below where you see Palm Springs, and the San Andreas fault (yikes!). Luckily, no major earthquakes while we were there (whew). But you can totally see how the land has been pushed up.

It was a great day at the park. Sunny, Beautiful, and good company. Can't beat that!

For more pictures, go to my Winter 2013 album (just scroll down the page to Joshua Tree). 

Christmas Vacation

Wow, we blew through Christmas, New Years, and Epiphany before I've even told you about my vacation. 2014 is going to be over before I even get to sit down and write to you about the end of 2013! Okay, that's an exaggeration, but really it's crazy how time moves.

But before we move on with 2014, I really do want to tell you about my holidays. They were oh-so-nice.  Similar to past years, Josh and I flew down to SoCal for the holidays since both parents are down there. Yes, I know this is incredibly convenient (and lucky). We did a little switch-a-roo and started at my parents house rather than at the Browns. So that's where we'll start, at my parents house...

The O'Neill's 

We flew down on Saturday. Lucky for me, the cold I had was on the mends by the time we flew down. Better not be sick during the holiday, or for Disneyland! Yea, you heard me, we went to Disneyland! (Comm'on, you have to say it like the commercials).

I love Disneyland during the holidays.They deck the park with everything holiday. They even switch up the Haunted House for the Nightmare Before Christmas. Some of my family doesn't like how they alter the Haunted House, but for me, I think it's fun. They also have the Jingle Cruise instead of the Jungle Cruise. Love it.

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We had the happiest time of our lives - how could you not at the happiest place on Earth?! 

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Disneyland was a great kick-start to the holidays. The rest of the time with my parents was everything holiday. I squeezed in another Christmas cookie, Peppakakor. We did some shopping, wrapping, and saw good friends. 

Christmas Eve we went to a lovely dinner at Vigilucci's and then the candlelight service at my childhood church, Bethlehem Lutheran Church. We sang Christmas songs and celebrated the reason for the season.

Then it was Christmas morning. We were all very good this year because Santa visited us. He came with lots of gifts, so we had to spend the whole morning unwrapping. 

See that red-head in the picture? Meet Olivia. She's part of the family. No really, she is. She's related to our relatives in Germany - so like a second cousin. She's from Rust, Germany and staying with my parents for the year learning English and getting the American High School experience.

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At halftime, eh hem, I mean after the Christmas tree presents, we switched to stockings. My mom takes stockings seriously. You DON'T MESS with stockings, man. Everyone gets the same number of gifts, and you have to open one by one around the room. Let me tell you, these stockings are crazy. The gifts spill out of the sock, and some (like a hula hoop) need to just hang out by the mantel. 

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Also, we got some visitors. My cousin Brennan, Anne, and their little girl, Marina came over. Marina was very much into the gifts, too - especially dropping them. Keely (that's the other daughter, I mean dog) was thrilled for all the people around to pet her - she's just too cute not to pet.

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Around noon, it was time to transition, and we packed the car and headed off to...

The Brown's

The drive takes about 2.5 hours to drive, and you cross over the San Jacinto mountains. We arrived mid-afternoon, just in time for more gifts and a homemade turkey dinner.

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We finished off Christmas with more gifts and a tasty dinner. What a great holiday!

For the rest of our stay with the Browns, we had some fun at Joshua Tree. More about that later. We went to the movies, and just relaxed. It was heavenly. Not to mention the warm weather, iced beverages, and short sleeves. 

I love Christmas - it's the best time of year. And in the words of Tiny Tim, "God bless us, everyone."

For more pictures, go here!

Top 10: The In-Laws Visit

Goodness, it's almost Christmas, and I've hardly told you anything about Thanksgiving. I was totally focused on Thanksgiving that I didn't realize how soon Christmas was as well. When Thanksgiving ended Christmas came out of nowhere and smacked me in the face. Snapped to reality. I need to get moving. Now I'm cramming in Christmas - gift hunting, shopping, decorating, music, lights, baking...ahh! 

Deep breath. I feel better now. 

So Thanksgiving. It was really quite nice. My in-laws flew up to celebrate with us. It was the first time I had to organize, prep, and cook a Thanksgiving feast for more than just Josh and me (hence why I was focused on Thanksgiving). It went swimmingly. I'll tell you more about the food later. The more important stuff first: the in-laws visit. 

Here's the top 10 highlights from their visit: 

1. Don's 70th Birthday

We celebrated with dinner with Vince & Jonita (good friends).

Don's 70th Birthday

2. Cooking & Baking with Nada

I was the chef and Nada was my sous chef - we were quite the team.

Nada & Heather cooking the Thanksgiving feast

3. Thanksgiving Feast

More to come on the food. For now you just get to see the table with food. Yum!

The Thanksgiving Table

4. Helix Bridge

I've shared this bridge with you before, but I think it's just too cool. This team it gets bonus points for the fog.

Helix Bridge in the fog

5. Walk in the Fog

The fog while we walked at Myrtle Edwards Park was so cool. I will try to share a post with you soon with more photos. 

Walk at Myrtle Edwards Park in the fog

6. CB Nuts

We drove over to the Olympic Peninsula and came upon CB Nuts. Another awesome, local company. Washington rocks. 

7. Meandering Pike Place Market

Breakfast at Lowells. Coffee at Storyville. Gum wall. And a cool Pike Place Market truck.

Pike Place Market Truck

8. Port Townsend

We also stopped by Port Ludlow. Drove by Port Gamble. Lots of ports.

Adventures in Port Townsend

9. Boats

Don, my father in-law, loves boats. Shh, we trespassed to the boatyard - we're wild & crazy. He made me do it.

Boats at Lake Union

10. Being with family

Great to see the family. Nada seems to bring the sun with her, too. (Thanks for that)

 Brown Family

Brown Family

Thankful on Thanksgiving

You know what I'm thankful for...Thanksgiving. It's frustrating how lots of retailers just skip right over Thanksgiving. But Thanksgiving should not be skipped over. It's a time to remember what's important in life - family and friends (and food, you need it for survival, duh). It's a day to step back and put things in perceptive and remember these important things in your life.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I'm going to share some of the things I'm thankful for this Thanksgiving.

1. A Loving Husband & Happy Marriage

2. Family - Parents, Sister, & In-Laws - that are always there for you

3. Friends that make you Laugh

4. A Beautiful City

5. Good Job with Fun Co-workers

This list could go on and on, but I need to get back in the kitchen to continue the Thanksgiving feast. My in-laws are in town, and we're planning a awesome dinner. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

xoxo, Heather