Weekend Link Love

+ chic American flag sandals for the 4th

+ my kind of dessert

+ darling, dollface umbrella


+ perfecting the perfect stack: I want this cookbook

+ want to try this highlighting product

+ Zoolander needs this shirt!

+ back when I can drink again, I'm trying this


+ got the grill fever? A BBQ in a box at your service

+ croissant + donut = cronut...YUM!

+ cute striped dress for summer

+ stocking up on my newborn survival tips

+ superman socks...hilarious!


image/weheartit

Salad Savvy

Yesterday I made "Frankies-Esque Beet Salad" from Gwenyth Paltrow's, It's All Good cookbook for lunch.  Apparently this recipe earned its name because it's based on one of her favorite beet salads, served at a NYC restaurant, Frankie's in the West Village.  This recipe has few ingredients, making for easy prep, in addition to being refreshing and delicious.  The avocado adds a creamy element that with the dressing really compliments the beets. 

Frankies-Esque Beet Salad
Serves 4.  Vegan.

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons white white vinegar
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Coarse sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound steamed or roasted beets, peeled and roughly diced
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
3 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced.

Whisk together the mustard, vinegar, and olive oil in a large bowl and season to taste ith salt and pepper.  Add the beets to the dressing and gently stir to combine.  Transfer the beets to a serving platter and scatter the avocado and scallions over the top.

image/myphotos

June 27th

June 27th is a special day for us.  It is the day we met. 5 years ago today.  
It started off like any ordinary day. Being on summer vacation, I ran my errands as per usual, sat in bumper to bumper Capitol Hill traffic, and finagled my way into a minor fender bender on my way home.  Traffic accidents are not my norm, and my blunder definitely clouded my mood for the day (and almost kept me from going out to a celebrate a friend's birthday), but luckily I changed my mind and ended up venturing out in spite of my traffic faux pas.  And I can't even imagine how life would be had I not gone out.  That dive bar birthday turned into one memorable evening - because I met you.  Who knew that this was the night I'd meet my future husband.  

This June 27th is extra special this year because it also marks the 2-month countdown until our baby's due date.  What a journey these past 5 years just the two of us, and now we're bringing a new life into our little world, which will be a new adventure to take on together.  It has been the best 5 years, living, laughing, and loving you.  I can't wait for many, many more to come.
I love you to the moon.



Good Things

1. Finishing my pro cert (for all you non-teachers out there, you have to get re-certified every couple of years to be a teacher...it's this long, arduous process with a 3 Entry portfolio, yadda yadda, anyway it's submitted.  woohoo!)

2. Seeing the warm glow of pink light illuminate our baby's room.  I just bought this pretty pink lampshade for our touch lamp this weekend, now resting on the baby's dresser/changing table.  It casts a glow of soft warm light across the room, it makes me smile as I can just imagine her little body wriggling on the changing pad underneath.

3. Croissants on the weekend (and weekdays if especially desired now that school's out).  One of my favorite weekend rituals at our cozy little neighborhood bakery.

4. My sweet cat Jenga cuddling up on my husband's lap last night - the first time she's remotely acted like her old self in weeks.  Hoping and praying this most recent blast of antibiotics and immunosuppressants works this time around.

5. Being able to hear our baby's heartbeat more often (since Week 29, we now we go every 2 weeks instead of every month). The whoosh, whoosh, whoosh just never gets old.

6. These banana crumb muffins I made last weekend. I wholeheartedly meant to do a blog post about them, but literally ate almost all of them before I could snap a photo...for real.

7. Looking ahead to next weekend, for fun in the sun in Sonoma with my girlfriends for my bestie's bachelorette party.  As the pregnant matron of honor, I'm volunteering my services as "designated driver" solely for the bachelorette's benefit :)

8. Lucking out finding Rainier cherries for the meager price of $2.99 a pound at my local Asian market!!  This may seem pricy to some, but considering these sweet gems are usually priced upwards of $6 a pound, I thought this was quite the steal!

9. Finding myself inspired by Jora and contemplating hosting a "pantry party" like this to encourage post-baby visiting with friends.

10. A new ritual of reading to our baby in bed. We started this last night, my husband picked out two books we received as gifts and we took turns reading aloud to her.  Last night's reads: My First Book of Sushi and The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  After the caterpillar gorges himself on junk and then feels relief after eating a leaf, my husband quipped, "Moral of the story is eat organic," a comment that made me laugh out loud, perfect for a guy who thinks North-westerners take their organic foods a little too seriously.  But yes, I'd say that moral is true.  

image/mrsbliss

Dinner Last Night: Summer Squash & White Bean Sauté

Last night, I made this summer squash and white bean sauté, thanks for the recipe recommendation Carly!  This sauté was quite flavorful and best of all - super easy to make!  The mix of veggies makes for a vibrant pop of summer color, and the lace of parmesan really ties all the flavors together.  I also added roasted red potatoes to add to the mix, and served over quinoa (but any grain would do).  I'll definitely make this again!

image/myphotos


Quote of the Week

“Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” 
~ Simone Weil

image/weheartit

Cookbook Crush

It's All Good finally came up on my queue at the library, and let me tell you, this is a good cookbook!  Even in this day and age where recipes are perpetually available via the internet, there's just something about reading a recipe out of a cookbook that I prefer.  Call me old fashioned, I guess.

Gwyneth's cookbook focuses on returning to whole foods, eliminating processed foods, and creating a diet that is clean, healthy, and packed with proteins and leafy greens.  Basically, every page looks utterly healthy yet simultaneously delicious!  

While I enjoy homecooking, and enjoy trying out new recipes, but unless I have a specific recipe to follow point by point, I don't have a lot of memorized staples in my repertoire.  Particularly in regards to vegetables, which I typically prefer anyway as an entree to chicken or beef.  That's where I think this cookbook prevails; with recipes that seem easy enough to make, eventually memorize, and master without the need of skimming a cookbook page at every turn.  

A few recipes I've got my eye on...
+ grilled asparagus + portobellos with shallots + soy dressing
+ broccoli rabe with garlic + red chili
+ simple beet salad
+ carrots with black sesame + ginger
+ charred corn with chimichurri
+ roasted cauliflower + chickpeas with mustard + parsley

image/amazon

Sick Kitty

My poor cat Jenga is sick.  
It started out a little over a week ago.  Jenga is usually a spunky, incredibly friendly, vocal cat.  She's active, with a perpetual spring in her step, and typically voracious for food.  The second a tin can is cracked open, she's a-sprinting toward the dish, eager to gorge herself on a delectable morsel of Fancy Feast.  This was true, up until last week.  All of a sudden, she became lethargic, reluctant to move off the couch, her verbal prowess suddenly silenced, and her appetite - gone.  My husband and I literally had to bring her food and hand feed her giblets and water.  :(  Not a good sign, my friends, not good.

Fast forward one and a half weeks, two vet appointments, three biopsies, and a bottle of twice-a-day-perscribed pills later...  Her condition is no longer a mystery (auto-immune), and her demeanor is slightly improved, but still..she's definitely not her old self.  It's so sad to see your normally perky, verbal cat feeling crummy, and even worse, in pain.  

We're hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst, though I try not to keep that idea in the forefront of my mind.  She's only been on the pills for about 3 days now, with a follow-up vet appointment scheduled for Tuesday.  Our vet did suggest this condition would not be an overnight recovery, rather a slow, arduous one... but right now our dear, sweet Jenga just seems so listless, uncomfortable, and sad, which breaks my heart.

Please keep my dear sweet friend in your thoughts this week, we're praying for her to hang on and make it through this, any positive sentiments are greatly appreciated.

image/maryruffle

Week 29

Baby Size: cabbage
Maternity Clothes: mostly maternity clothes, favoring dresses these days
Food Cravings: Trader Joe's dried mango, I bought 4 bags of these upon my last visit!  Lately, I just feel hungry ALL THE TIME.  I feel less concerned with cravings and am more interested in eating food that is satiating 
Food Aversions: pho
Symptoms: back aches
Sleep: After a few consecutive restless nights, I finally caved and invested in a Snoogle body pillow which has really improved my sleep
Movement: Lots of movement, I can feel her rolling and turning around in there 
Belly Button: out 
Gender: GIRL!!!
Best Moment of the Week: celebrating our first unofficial Father's Day together
What I'm Looking Forward To: being done with report cards and enjoying the last few days of school with my students
What I Miss: running / high-impact exercise

Wedding Rings on or off? on
Currently Reading: Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and The Nursing Mother's Companion are on my nightstand, have yet to start them...


School's Out For Summer

Cue the music....SCHOOL'S OUT FOR SUMMER!!
SCHOOL'S OUT FOREVER! Well, not quite, but...a while!  Technically, school is out until JANUARY for me, thanks to maternity leave and FMLA!

It was strange packing up my classroom yesterday and today, thinking about the fact that I won't be starting the next school year with my class, instead I'll be picking up this new group mid-year.  At the same time, I'm incredibly excited for the opportunity to be home with our little girl comes at the end of summer. 

Week 28

Baby Size: butternut squash, our girl is getting big!
Maternity Clothes: most definitely!  I've been rocking the maternity jeans and capris.  Plus lots of Old Navy maternity shorts, tees, tanks, as well as a few pre-maternity tops, dresses, and maxi dresses
Food Cravings: Burgers (although wishing I could add my usual blue cheese and crispy bacon topping)
Food Aversions: pho, still, just doesn't sound good...
Symptoms: achy tailbone but that varies day to day, more and more tired (I fell asleep sitting up at my computer at home while working on report cards for about 20 minutes, ha!)
Sleep: Getting up once or twice a night
Movement: Lots of movement, feels stronger now, especially when I'm sitting down or resting
Belly Button: just popped out 
Gender: GIRL!!!
Best Moment of the Week: I passed my glucose test, no gestational diabetes, woohoo!  Also, my college girlfriends threw me a literature-themed baby shower this weekend, so fun!  
What I'm Looking Forward To: finishing the nursery, my wonderful, handy husband just finished putting the dresser together, our nursery is shaping up quite nicely!  My after school project today is to begin organizing clothes and supplies!
What I Miss: Being able to tie my shoes easily and put sandals on by myself
Wedding Rings on or off? on, no problems here yet
Currently Reading: Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and The Nursing Mother's Companion are on hold for me at the library, so they're next up!

Last Great Book I Read

Technically, I didn't actually read this book, I listened to the audiobook on CD.  I tried reading this book in the flesh, and perhaps it's the plot or my recent lack of attention span, but I just couldn't get into it.  However, my mom's book club read it and she recommended I try again, hence - the audiobook.  A brilliant way to keep myself occupied in transit and make traffic to and from work far less mundane.  

Where'd You Go, Bernadette is a unique story.  It vacillates between different viewpoints, monologues, character narratives, letters, and chains of emails to piece together the story of this unique family, it's matriarch and her unusual past that contributes to her odd personality and unorthodox behavior in a variety of situations.  

One thing I really enjoyed about this book?  Learning about Antarctica! Yes, you read that correctly. Early in the story, Bea (Bernadette's daughter) propositions her parents to take her to Antarctica as a graduation present.  While I never thought Antarctica would ever sound appealing as a travel destination, author Maria Semple somehow portrays the mystery, intrigue, and adventure of the white continent as incredibly captivating.

Have you read it?  What did you think?

P.S. - Other great audiobooks I'd recommend:
* Blood, Bones and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton
* My Life in France by Julia Child
* Left Neglected by Lisa Genova
image/amazon

Meeting Blog Friends

Have you ever met up with other bloggers in real life?  To date, I have met two bloggers in person, and hopefully more to come!  

My first blog friendship turned reality was with Vivian of Lost in Translation.  Vivian is a Canadian ex-pat, living in Japan as an English language teacher.  During the planning of my 2009 trip to Japan, Vivian and I corresponded via email as I pieced together my itinerary for a 2-week tour of the country.   She was immensely helpful, providing me with ample recommendations of sights to see and things to do. Inevitably we found a way to make our schedules align to meet up in Osaka one night toward the end of my visit in July.  We met near the Dotonbori Bridge in the early evening, with our two friends in tow, and clicked immediately.  Our night was filled with Japanese dance clubs, convenience store sake, and kareoke bars.  Not be your typical blogger meet up I'm sure, but it was a memorable night drinking, dancing, and soaking up the Osaka nightlife out until 3 AM.

My second blogger meet up was just a few weeks ago.  I had the privilege of meeting Ashlee of Where My Heart Resides while she in Seattle on a family vacation.  Ashlee's blog has always been a daily read, and we've been frequent commenters on each others blogs for years.  So when she proposed meeting up while in Seattle, I was admittedly a bit starstruck and excited to meet one of my favorite bloggers in person!  We met up up at a local coffee shop in Kirkland after I got off work, and caught up on life, love, babies, and beyond.  Unfortunately our schedules didn't allow us to talk for too long, but it was a great opportunity to make that blogging connection personal.  

Blogging is a whole new world when it comes to connecting people.  I love the possibilities that blogging provides, connecting individuals across continents.  Whether it be commenting on each others blogs, sending side emails, it's often baffling to think you feel like you know these people, but in reality, you've probably never met.  I'm happy to say I've forged blog friendships with these women, and made these friendships extend beyond the portal of the internet to become a reality, if even for just a cup of coffee or a night out exploring a new city.  

Have you ever met up with a blog friend before?  How did it go?

image/pheartache

Week 27

Baby Size: head of cauliflower
Maternity Clothes: maternity jeans and tops, pre-maternity tops/maxi dresses
Food Cravings: Raisin bran (So random, right?  I had an insatiable craving one night and my wonderful, doting husband drove to the store at 8:30 pm to get me a box, he's the best!)
Food Aversions: pho
New Symptoms: occasional sleeplessness 
Movement: Lots of kicking, flipping, and moving around in there
Belly Button: pretty much popped out 
Gender: GIRL!!!
Best Moment of the Week: dinner & Great Gatsby with my girlfriends, co-hosting my best friend's bridal shower
What I'm Looking Forward To: organizing the nursery
What I Miss: Spinning class (I think I'm a little big for the bike at present)
Currently Reading: just finishing up Bringing Up Bebe, taking a break from baby books and listening to Where'd You Go Bernadette on CD in the car



Sleeve Up Giveaway

Did you know every year, 14 billion cups of coffee are served in single-use cups with coffee sleeves?  This contributes to 2.8 billion pounds of trash and cardboard waste.  Um..WHAT?!?  This number is utterly mind blowing to me!  And likely, as a casual (occasional frequent) coffee-on-the-go drinker, I'm contributing to that hideous number.  No megusta...

As I consider what kind of world my child will grow up in, it has made me think harder about choices I make to improve my life and the world I live in.  Whether that's switch to paraben free cosmetics and products, consciously compost, I've found myself making more intentional, conscious decisions to reduce my carbon footprint now more than ever before. Not that I was a voracious, garbage producing consumer before, I mean, I try and do my part...I bring reusable bags to the grocery store, compost with a vengeance, and recycle like the rest of Seattle.  But when enjoying that frequent hot beverage en route to work, I am definitely guilty of taking a paper sleeve along for the ride - purely for convenience sake.  

However, there's hope for us wasteful coffee drinkers!  Meet Sleeve Up, a Seattle company started by   6 University of Washington students (my alma mater).  Together these friends design and locally manufacture reusable coffee sleeves.  Their mission: produce a product that would not only be environmentally friendly and reduce the amount of waste from single-use cardboard sleeves but also something that would connect with the Seattle coffee culture.  I especially love that it rolls up into a compact key chain, small enough to carry with me on the go, but machine washable should my coffee take a spill.  Thanks guys for making the earth a little greener, one cup at a time!
{"The Wiz" Seattle skyline Sleeve Up}

Today, I'm giving away this yellow and black Seattle skyline Sleeve Up to a lucky winner.  To enter, visit the Sleeve Up website and leave a comment sharing your favorite design and email address.  Bonus entries if you also like on facebook!  Giveaway closes Sunday, June 9th.
(must be a US resident to enter)

**UPDATE: Lauren is our winner, congrats Lauren!  Sending you your very own Sleeve Up in the mail soon!**

images/sleeveup
facebook/sleeveup

Week 26

Baby Size: eggplant
Maternity Clothes: maternity jeans and tops, pre-maternity tops/maxi dresses
Food Cravings: cantaloupe, Mexican food while we were in Vancouver (which while known for its amazing cuisine, is NOT a destination known for its Mexican food, nor does it boast many Mexican restaurants)  
Food Aversions: pho (meat is sounding good to eat again!)
New Symptoms: none
Movement: Movement constant throughout the day, really active at night
Belly Button: Halfway popped out
Gender: GIRL!!!
Best Moment of the Week: babymoon in Vancouver, B.C.
What I'm Looking Forward To: Painting the nursery, organizing her room
What I Miss: Soft cheeses, red wine, meguro sushi
Currently Reading: Bringing up Bebe, NurtureShock
Exercise: Feeling lazy, just walking

Feeling good this week.  My husband and I took advantage of the long, Memorial Day weekend and ventured to Vancouver, B.C., a short 2-hour drive North of Seattle.  The weather cooperated, and we were able to enjoy the sights and sounds of the city sans rain. We stayed downtown at the Sheraton Wall Centre Downtown.  Our room on the 30th floor with floor to ceiling windows boasted a spectacular view of the ocean and mountains beyond.  I'd highly recommend this hotel, as it was an ideal central location for sightseeing on foot.  

Our first afternoon in town, we shopped Robson street and beyond, wandered through the Yaletown restaurant district and dined at the delicious Flying Pig - highly recommend!  On Sunday, we had brunch at the Twisted Fork on Granville for their famous banana stuffed brioche French toast (a pregnant woman's dream come true!).   Later, recharged by coffee and scones from Blenz, we took a leisurely drive and explored the depths of Stanley Park, the gargantuan expanse of greenery in Northwest Vancouver (also, the largest public park in Canada).  After a nap and a few hours of relaxation, we explored Davie street and capped off our last night at a little neighborhood Thai restaurant.  

In between our walking and eating (seriously, it felt like we - at least I - was constantly eating), we had a great time relaxing, talking about our baby and future plans, and getting lost in a new city.  I wasn't sure a babymoon was a necessity, but having taken a weekend away, I'd recommend it to anyone.  It was nice to have a weekend just us before our we becomes three!