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


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

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


Rest of my Restaurant Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seattle Gets Even Greener

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

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


Holiday Plans

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


Cake Pop Wedding Cake

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

image via pinterest

Shopping Day

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

Holiday Entertainment

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

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

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

Savory or Sweet

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

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

Do you have a favorite savory pie recipe?


Christmas Presents

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

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

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


Restaurant #17 - Phoenecia

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

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

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

Restaurant Challenge 2011

#17 - Phoenecia

Holiday Beverages

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

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

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

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


Is It Friday Yet?

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

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

+ tres chic bubble necklace

Sneak Peek: Wedding Photos!

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

Save the Date Videos

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


Favorite Christmas Movies

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

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

Some other Christmas favorites include...

What are your favorite Christmas movies?

10 Words You Need to Stop Misspelling!

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

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

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

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

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


Christmas Traditions

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

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

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