Summer Goals in the (not so sunny) City

This morning I woke up to yet another gray sky. I’ve started to wonder if the sun will ever shine again on Seattle. Really though, this weather has my brain convinced it’s Autumn.

It’s just the beginning of July and the forecast is cloudy and cool 60-some degree weather. This is not the Summer I was hoping for. After a Winter and Spring with lots of rain, I am more than ready for some sunshine!

Either way it’s Summer and that means another list of goals. With the help of Chris, I’ve quickly learned that goals motivate me (DUH), even the ones that are too far fetched. So here’s what I’m hoping to do this Summer:

Read 5 books – That’s not much of a feat I know, but I am a slow reader and have been bad about taking the time to do it

Camp (at least once a month) – We got June down! It was just a quick one night camp out, but it was lots of fun! And it proved our ability to expertly (and quickly) pack for one night away.

Yoga – I recently read a great blog post about sticking to exercise routines that you actually enjoy. The first thing to pop into my head was yoga, I can do that! (and easily get Chris to do it too)

Walk everywhere – The same is true with walking. I love to walk. Get me in on a good conversation and I’ll walk for hours!

Seattle Center – I think we like it so much because it’s like the Disneyland of the Northwest. There is this fun, busy vibe. And my favorite part of Seattle is the giant fountain that sits just under the Space Needle.


Reggae Saturdays – My new favorite coffee shop is in the same space as a local radio station. Chris and I sip on some tasty coffee while listening to DJ Kid Hops spin some reggae tunes.

Farmer’s markets – There are tons of farmer’s markets in Seattle that are only open June-October so we have to make the most of them! A new favorite: Queen Anne market, an old favorite: Columbia City market.

Canada – I don’t think this has anything to do with Summer, other than I just imagine it’s really pretty up there! And, Chris and I still have yet to go to Vancouver since we moved here.

Outdoor movies – This is always our favorite part of Summer. Seattle Center shows some great family-friendly movies starting July. Just imagine laying in the grass watching a movie under the Space Needle, it’s magical.

Soak up that sun! – I don’t mean tan. I mean literally get as much vitamin d from the sun that will last me the rest of the year. 😉

Kayak – Another thing that Chris and I have not done since moving here. We have regularly gone down to Lake Union to sit by the water and watch the float planes take off and land. There’s tons of kayaks in the water, maybe this year we’ll join ’em!

That’s the list! Excuse me now as I log out to go enjoy the sun and farmer’s market. I encourage you to do the same – list or no list.

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Happiest of Holidays

Hi again, it’s been a while, but I’m back with the full force of the New Year behind me.

The holiday season has passed and I find the days (slightly) less cheerful than a month ago. I always love the lead up to Christmas: spirits are high and there is so much anticipation for family to be seen, presents to be opened, and cookies to be eaten.

Chris and I spent the Christmas holiday in California with my family. Our time there was spent working on puzzles, playing games, watching Star Wars, and making mountains of cookies. It can get a little rowdy with 8 family members in a small home, but we still manage to have fun and enjoy each other..most of the time. 😉

*Disclaimer* I am terrified of flying, so Chris and I compromised that we would fly to California and take the train back up to Seattle. On New Years Eve we boldly boarded the train that would take us to Seattle some 24 HOURS later. What kept us sane on that ride?

  • Unlimited snacks
  • Mini bottles of gin & bourbon
  • Three movies
    • The Royal Tenenbaums
    • Best in Show – just watch it!
    • Bourne Legacy
  • Books
  • Each other, obviously

Yes, we were nervous about the train but it ended up to be a lot of fun! Not to say we’ll do it on a regular basis; trains are dirty and my brother has convinced me of the great safety of airplanes.

New Year’s Day we woke (still on the train) to a blanket of snow, a sight we hadn’t seen since moving to Seattle. We plowed through the snow for hours and we were reminded of the freshness that a new year brings. God has been beyond kind to us in the last few weeks and we are excited to see how He continues to bless us in 2016.

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This one lady on the train LOVED that we were matching (me, I was embarrassed of course).

This is the time of year to make some great promises to ourselves that we are allowed to break without penalty, right? Okay then, I promise to exercise and read more. But really, I do want to do those things this year along with:

  • Blogging regularly
  • Weaving everyday
  • Learning new things
  • TAKE MORE PICTURES!

I don’t expect I’ll be perfect, but now that the world knows, the pressure is on to stick to these things. I’ll keep you posted.

I hope you all enjoyed your holidays and are settling back into the “rest of the year.” For me, it’s hard to give up such a romantic time so maybe I’ll leave the tree in the corner with the lights on a little longer.

Portland Getaway


Recently, Chris and I took the train down to Portland for a long weekend. This wasn’t the ordinary getaway, though – Chris was headed there for a trade show and I wanted to tag along for once. 😝

Like most of our trips, this one was centered around food and coffee. I had used Yelp to bookmark a number of places to eat and drink before we left. I probably put 5 doughnut shops on that list and am ashamed to say we didn’t visit one. Not ONE! But we had plenty of delicious meals and some ice cream.

(Excuse the lack of pictures. I’m working on being better about getting snapshots of our lives.)

For breakfast, our two favorite spots were Pine State Biscuits and Cup & Bar.


Pine State Biscuits has an amazing array of breakfast sandwiches and Southern staples, like Shrimp-n-Grits. My go-to sandwich (yes I have a go-to) is the Reggie Deluxe: Fried chicken, bacon, egg, and cheese, with gravy on the side. It’s more than enough calories for one day, but don’t I always manage to find time for lunch. This is, hands-down, one of the best breakfast sandwiches out there and a must if you’re ever in Portland.


Cup & Bar is coffee shop and chocolate “factory” with a tasteful toast menu. Really though, I don’t know that I’ve had toast that’s so fancy and delicious! Chris and I were boring, though, and had yogurt with granola and a side of cinnamon toast. But the granola did have cocoa nibs in it!

There are some great lunch places in Portland, but they were never as exciting as breakfast for us. Most days, Chris had less then an hour to eat, so we were forced to stick close to the Convention Center. Burgerville, anyone?

HOWEVER, we did sneak away for an extended lunch one day. In an unsuspecting diner, Dick’s Kitchen, we each had one of the best burgers of our lives: grass-fed beef (we’re all about that stuff), Tillamook cheddar, lettuce, onion, tomato, secret sauce (hold for me), and a sourdough potato bun. Yeah, you bet it was juicy and amazing.

The best dinner we had was so good we went back the next day for lunch. (I hope that most people who go there do the same.) Sunday night we headed over to Pok Pok on Division. The charming restaurant serves up Thai street-style food in the owner’s old house. I regret not getting a photo! Chris and I ordered the Fish Sauce Wings (a must), both spicy and not-spicy. The spicy were definitely better, but prepare yourself for them. It was actually pretty comical how spicy the wings were… still, they were better. We also ordered a coconut curry noodle dish, which was a good balance for the spicy wings. Make sure to include some sticky rice and drinking vinegar with your meal.

  
We didn’t spend much time checking out new coffee shops (we were at a coffee convention, after all) but we did really enjoy Dapper & Wise. It’s pleasing to the eye and… tongue? (Sorry.) We ended our trip with a mocha, to go.

Over all, our trip to Portland was a blast! It was really busy and we crammed a lot into it, but it was still nice to get away from the norm. We did other things besides eat: walk around, ride the transit, visit family, play pool, chat with old (and new) friends, and window-shop. But eating is just the most fun to write about!

Here are a few more pictures from the trip.

We ate lunch in a cute park one day.
We ate lunch in a cute park one day.

I really liked the carpet at the convention center.
I really liked the carpet at the Convention Center.

I spent most of my time knitting this scarf.
While Chris worked, I spent most of my time knitting this scarf.

Just a pretty street, fall is really here!
Just a pretty street. Fall is really here!

Christmas in November


Alright you grinches, get out of here because I’m posting about Christmas and Thanksgiving is still weeks away.

Until I met Chris, I never knew anyone who loved Christmas as much as I do (with the exception of my mom who taught me everything she knows). Every year we start to listen to Christmas music mid-fall. It’s not that we’re trying to rush through Fall (we love Fall!), we just want as much time as possible to enjoy all of the holiday-goodness.

This year, to rein in the “fall-wintery, Thanks-Christmas”, we are watching as many Christmas movies as possible. From November 1st to December 25th, we’ll be watching as many Christmas greats (plus Die Hard…) as we can fit into our lives.

Here is the official list:

  • Bridget Jones’ Diary
  • Love Actually
  • Home Alone
  • Home Alone 2
  • Santa Claus
  • Jingle All the Way
  • Christmas with the Kranks
  • Miracle on 34th Street
  • It’s a Wonderful Life
  • The Holiday
  • To Grandmother’s House We Go
  • Die Hard
  • Die Hard 2
  • Die Hard 3
  • Die Hard 4
  • Jack Frost
  • Charlie Brown
  • A Christmas Story
  • Elf
  • Mixed Nuts
  • The Grinch
  • A Muppets Christmas Carol
  • White Christmas
  • Polar Express
  • I’ll Be Home for Christmas
  • National Lampoons Christmas Vacation
  • The Family Stone
  • Nativity
  • Planes, Trains and Automobiles
  • Trapped in Paradise

So far we are two for two: Sunday, we kicked off with The Holiday and, last night, we laughed hard at National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.


I’ll leave you all now to your Christmas-less worlds. But, if you want to indulge, check out our Facebooks for what we’re watching next!

Fall Capsule

This is a little on the late side, but why not?

As I covered in a previous post, it’s Autumn, and that’s got me thinking about new clothes (insert eye rolls and mass hysteria from both my dad and Chris – just kidding they love me!). But really, I do like clothes, a lot.

Putting together a fall wardrobe this year was a bit trickier than the previous years. Chris and I are still gathering clothes to make up for the ones we lost in the flood of ’15 (it’s going down in the Elliott history book), so it feels like we don’t have enough clothes to separate into different seasons. As a first-time capsuler, I seem to have a steep learning curve.

So this is how I made a capsule with a small wardrobe and a limited budget. No fear, it was done. First I’ll outline a few tips and then share some of my finds.

1. I sorted through my closet to find the pieces that I would keep out and wear this season – that way I got a better sense of what I needed to buy. I quickly found that I had much more than I thought I did.

2. I chose a color palate. I used to go for tons of color and patterns, but I’ve started to lean on a more simple and neutral palate (still with lots of stripes – I can’t help myself!)

3. Chris and I came up with a budget. It’s better to know how much you can spend ahead of time. 😉

4. I always shop the sales. I am not a thrift store shopper and I don’t coupon, but I do keep my eye out for good deals. I found exceptional deals at Madewell, Anthropologie, Gap, and Nordstrom Rack (my one exception to “bargain” stores): a flannel button down, a dress, a t-shirt, a sweater, three pairs of socks, and a pair of boots for under $180. These places are often having sales-on-sales or random one day deals.

5. This year I tried selling my extra/out-dated clothes. You’ll probably make more money selling your clothes yourself but even going to Crossroads / Buffalo Exchange will earn you a few extra dollars. Chris and I got $50 for a few items we dropped off.

So… my finds for this Fall!

Tees
Tees 

Sweaters
Sweaters

Shirts
Shirts

Dress & Skirt
Dress & Skirt

Pants
Pants

Shoes
Shoes
It’s a little crazy to say this, but my closet this season feels roomier than usual. Through this process of losing all of my clothes and restocking my wardrobe I’ve sensed a lesson of thankfulness and contentment being pushed on me. It’s not one that I’ve been excited to embrace, but when I look at my closet I see now how I have been provided with great quality pieces that will last through this season and many more to come.

Bagels for Saturday

    

So it’s probably time that we talk about some of the great places that Chris and I like to eat at. The first of many is Eltana, a wood-fired bagel shop. We discovered this gem a few weeks after moving here, and eating there has become a Saturday breakfast tradition.

Eltana is a Mediterranean-inspired bagel shop in the heart of Capitol Hill, sitting between Pike and Pine. They have the cutest little bagels – yes they’re small – and the most flavorful spreads. Their list includes: scallion cream cheese, fig apricot compote, almond butter, harissa hummus, spicy garlic cream cheese, etc. Now I need to be honest with you, I do not like cream cheese. I don’t even like being near it, but my love for bagels runs deep. Eltana is the perfect place for me and all you cream cheese lovers.

When we go we always stick to our favorites. We never go outside of the comfort of our perfect bagel combo. For Chris, it’s a plain bagel with scallion cream cheese (he hates onions but loves this spread). And for me, it’s  a sesame wheat bagel with almond butter. Their almond butter changed my life.

 

Probably my favorite part about Eltana, and what truly keeps me going back, are the weekly crossword puzzles. I love puzzles -jigsaw, sudoku, you name it – but until I went to Eltana I had never come close to getting one clue right on a crossword. Now I’m hooked, and not just on the easy-peasy ones at Eltana, but the beefy, NY Times ones too. That’s right, I’m really smart.
  

After we finish eating / around the time Chris gets bored of crosswording, we head a few blocks down the street to Stumptown. It’s not our favorite cafe in Seattle but they have delicious mochas! They use a liquid chocolate mixture so there’s none of that chocolate pool at the bottom of your cup and then they dust the top with some chocolate powder. Mm!

Last Saturday as we were making the trek to Stumptown we noticed that Mighty-O-Donuts is putting a new shop smack dab in the middle of Eltana and Stumptown. All great food outings include 3 stops, am I right or did I just make that up? Needless to say, pretty soon we might just have the perfect combination for a food-coma-filled Saturday: bagels, mochas, donuts.

Meal Planning

My favorite part of the day is mealtime. Yes, I mean mealtime. Not breakfast or lunch or dinner  – all of them. I love every meal! I love to eat and, thankfully, I married someone who is equally excited about food.

Back when Chris and I were dating, all of our dates were planned around good coffee and good food. When we got engaged and made our first budget together, we skimped on every category we could in order to put as much money as possible toward eating out. And I’m not ashamed to say that that hasn’t really changed. For us, nothing could be better than a great meal!

Together we have lived in 3 distinct and very food-savvy places: Los Angeles, Louisville, and Seattle. I know that you’re all thinking, “LOUISVILLE?!” Take that attitude home and go to Louisville – you won’t be disappointed. (I’ll share some of our favorite places to eat out another time.)

More recently, we’ve decided to save money by eating out less and cooking at home. So far, so good! But, cooking meals at home takes lots of planning and that’s what were here to talk about: how to plan healthy, easy, AND delicious meals. It feels daunting, but it’s doable and even fun! We scour magazines, cookbooks, and the Internet each week for new and old recipes.

The easiest meal for us to plan is breakfast (though making it has become a little more complicated). A few months ago we stopped eating cereal and started eating more wholesome foods (no, we’re not paleo, vegetarian, vegan, you name it): eggs, bacon, fruit, oatmeal, or even muffins, waffles, or toast from scratch. That’s not all for one morning but it’s an assortment that we rotate through.

Lunch is our least favorite. What do people eat for lunch?! For us, it usually ends up being left overs.

Our favorite meal? Definitely dinner. There are so many options and it’s the most fun to cook. We both work full time, though, so right now the challenge is to find dinners that are quick. There’s almost always Indian food on the menu and “Fish Fry Friday” (we have yet to actually fry it).

Once we’ve gotten our meals figured out, we’re off to the stores – yes, more than one. We usually get a few things from one of the farmer’s markets and then shop around at  2, MAYBE 3, grocery stores. It sounds crazy but each one has unique things to offer and some things at better prices than others.

On Sundays we’ll prep a few things for the week, like chicken stock or English muffin bread. Then we’re off! We cook together every few nights, try to make enough for leftovers.

So what’s been on the menu this week?

Pork Tamales (Joy of Cooking)

African Peanut Soup (The Oregonian Cookbook)

Pesto Chicken Power Bowl (made up dish)

Brussel Sprout and Sweet Potato Hash (Love and Lemons Blog)

Fish – we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it

With the exception of the tamales, these are some easy and tasty meals! I’ll keep sharing our weekly menus for you to try, as well. In the words of Julia Child, “bon appetite.”