Thursday, May 31, 2012

Foodie Penpal

A month ago I was perusing blogs and I came across a blog post about Foodie Penpals.  I signed up on a whim, not really thinking about the fact that I had a week long trip to Seattle planned, followed by a short trip to Wilmington, NC the week after.  Oops, maybe not the best month to be doing this!  Anyway, I rallied and made it work, shopping, baking and prepping my stuff for my penpal and shipping it before leaving for Seattle.

Meanwhile, my foodie penpal (you are not paired with the same person you make your box for), Melissa, was crafting an excellent package for me, which I received when I got back from my trips.

Melissa's box to me included a Florida orange she picked herself, Just Pure Food Spicy Jalapeno Tomato chips, a chocolate crepe snack, a Lulu's Maca Love raw chocolate bar, homemade trail mix, and challah rolls she baked herself.

I wasted no time taking a bite out of one of the homemade challah rolls.  Melissa wrote in her note that she actually used to have a challah bakery called Challapalooza!  So cool!  The roll tasted delicious!

After taking a bite of my roll, I put the rest of it and the other one in the freezer for later.  When I think of challah, I think of FRENCH TOAST, so that's what I ended up doing with the rolls a few days later- making a batch of stuffed french toast.

I basically just mixed some softened cream cheese with some blueberries and cut up strawberries, smeared the mixture between two slices of challah roll, then dipped both sides in the egg batter (egg, milk, almond extract, a little sugar) and cooked it in a greased skillet til golden.  It came out great!

The other item I got into quickly was the chocolate bar.  I actually read recently that maca is a fertility super food, so this is good news for me- I get to eat chocolate AND help my fertility.  Win!

I especially have to rave on the trail mix Melissa made me as my favorite item so far (I haven't tried the chips or crepe yet!), this stuff is AWESOME!

You know how when you eat trail mix you are looking for that perfect balance of textures, tastes, sweet, sour, salty, and tangy?  This is it!!  I have been dragging this around in my purse all week and snacking on it at work, in my car, and pretty much everywhere.  So good!  I might cry when it's all eaten.  I will have to see if I can recreate it myself!

In summation, I enjoyed participating in the Foodie Pen pal program.  I am taking June off, but I'll try and do it again in the future.  It was really fun to create a package and receive a package with fun food stuff in it.  Who doesn't love getting a package in the mail?!  Thank you Melissa for all of you thoughtful and handcrafted treats.  I scored some excellent stuff!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Stuff I'm Into Lately

It's time for another edition of Stuff I'm Into Lately.

1.  Recently, I heard about the awesomeness that is Birchbox.  Have you guys heard about this?  It's $10 a month and you get a box of beauty products mailed to you each month.

I got my first box the other day and it included coral nail polish, anti-aging face cream, shampoo and conditioner samples, and hair serum.

2. Beer.  I find myself wanting beer more than wine when I'm out to eat lately, and immediate turn to the beer list to see what's on tap.  Now that it's getting hot, a cool beer just sounds so good.

This Shock Top Raspberry Wheat rocks if you like fruity beer.

3.  Chips.  Especially these from Wholesome Goodness.  They are a like a lighter version of Sun Chips, and I like that they are kind of plain but salted.  That's my kind of chip.

Perfect with a tuna sandwich...

4.  Beets.  I still can't stop thinking about that awesome beet sandwich I had in Seattle.  I tried to do a recreation of it last week by baking beets and red onion, then slicing them and adding them to a sandwich with lettuce and goat cheese.  It was good, but as good as my Seattle sandwich. I think I need to use more goat cheese and use a different bread next time.  I'm determined to recreate that sandwich!!

5.  50 Shades of Grey.  I had to see what all the hype was about, and I have to admit, I'm pretty much plowing through the book.  It's a weird story, and not the greatest writing, but I'm still intrigued enough that I've been having a hard time putting it down.  I also like that it's set in Seattle and partly in Savannah.  I've heard the series gets worse in the later books, but I'll probably read them to see how the story ends.

6.  My latest song on repeat is Head or Your Heart by Mat Kearney.  It's actually been out a while, and I'm not sure how I missed it, since he's one of my favorites, but it's new to me as of last week and I put it on whenever I'm in the car.  Thank you ITunes for realizing I didn't have it already.  Love this song...

7.  Working out.  I'm still running about 2-3 times a week, although it's getting harder with the hot weather, so I'm doing my week night runs later in the evening when the sun starts to go down.  I've also been doing some weight training in the gym at work and at home with free weights.  I'm kind of just winging it.  I know a few exercises, and when I hit the gym at work, my friend Gibson plays personal trainer and orders me around, showing me what to do.  I also use videos online and my Jillian Michaels No More Trouble Zones DVD.  I feel like my working out is more well rounded for the first time in a while, since I tend to rely so heavily on running.

8.  Fish.  Another thing I've been eating a lot lately is fish.  It's such a summery food, and it's something I don't cook much at home, so the second I open a menu, I tend to gravitate towards the seafood dishes.

Shrimp risotto I had the other night.
9.  Sun dresses.  Lately I just love to throw on a knit sundress and run out the door to wherever I am going. I have like a million of them in my closet.  So easy and comfortable and perfect for summer parties.

This one is from Old Navy.

10.  I know he makes pretty much every list, but Clyde!  I missed him terribly when I was in Seattle and then had to leave him again for a night the following week when I was in Wilmington, NC for work again.  Gosh, I love this pup :)

What are you guys into lately?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

My Last Day in Seattle

My last day in Seattle I went to Hard Rock Cafe for lunch with a girl from the office.  I've been to the Hard Rock in San Diego, DC, and Montreal, and now we'll add this one to the list.  I actually ordered kind of an unusual salad for lunch.  It had shrimp, pears, bacon, and goat cheese.  Sounds weird, but it worked.

I wrapped up my stuff at the office and then tried to figure out a plan for my last night.  All week people had been asking me if I was going to the Space Needle.  I didn't think I cared about going, but then on the last night when I realized I had nothing else planned, and have no idea when I'll be back in Seattle, it actually sounded like a good idea.  I walked a couple blocks from the hotel and found the monorail, which takes you straight to the Space Needle.

It's $19 dollars to go up to the observation deck.  Kinda steep, I know, but like I said, when will I be back to even see Seattle again??  When in Rome...  Plus, this is the 50th Anniversary of the Space Needle, so I guess that makes it kind of cool.

Once up at the observation deck, I headed to the outdoor area to take some pictures.  There's an indoor part with tables and kind of a concession stand with food, and then the outer rim, which is outside.

I basically walked the perimeter, taking pictures from all sides.

I did a couple laps then got my souvenir picture emailed to myself....  Awkward looking, right?

I also did a lap in the gift shop at the lower level and ended up with a t-shirt Space Needle T-shirt to commemorate my visit.

Once I'd had my fill at the Needle, I headed back to my hotel.  I stayed at the Hotel Monaco in Seattle and HIGHLY recommend it.  Here's a few reasons why:

-If you become a member of the Kimpton In Touch Guest Loyalty program (free), you get free WiFi for your entire stay.
-Free wine from 5pm-6pm in the hotel lobby!
-The rooms are really nice- very sleek and modern.  I heard it was recently redone.

-The location was awesome, walk-able to the Pier, Pike Place, and most of downtown Seattle.
-If you opt out of room cleaning, you get a $5 card to use at the restaurant hotel or room service.

Therefore, on my last night I had two $5 cards, from two night I opted out of room cleaning, that I could use for dinner at the hotel restaurant, called Sazerac.  To be honest, I didn't think the restaurant was going to be that great since it's a hotel restaurant, but this place really impressed me.  It was apparent that not only do hotel guest go there to eat, but also local Seattle people know it as a great spot, as evidenced by the guy that sat next to me that told me he loves it and comes there often.

I sat myself up at the open kitchen counter, much like my date night at Roosters with Greg a couple weeks ago.  I had a great view of the wood burning oven and the chef's preparing many mouth watering dishes.

Sazerac has a great happy hour menu and even better?  They serve it til 8pm!  I started with a glass of Oregon Pinot Gris and then opted for two small plates- a simple but delicious salad and some mini burgers and both were fantastic!

Dinner at Sazerac was a great way to end my week in Seattle.  I really enjoyed the meal!

I'm really going to miss Seattle.  I wish it wasn't so far away, or I'd definitely be back for a visit more often.  It's not an easy place to travel to from Charlotte.  I spent almost a day traveling there each way.  Someday Greg and I will have to go back though.  I'd also love to see more of the Pacific Northwest- Portland, Vancouver, and more of the area surrounding Seattle.  If you ever get the chance to visit, do it!    

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Dinner With Run For Wine

Still loving Seattle.  I kind of don't want to leave, but I know I'll be super excited to see Clyde when I get back to Charlotte.  So, Wednesday night, I finished up work and quickly changed and ran down hill to the Pier to meet Kristen!

Did you guys know that Seattle is really hilly??  I didn't know til I got here!  The hills are no joke.  I consider many of the walks I've done around Seattle to be a workout similar to the stair master.  It's intense, and I feel that my calves are stronger since my stay here.

I digress.  Anyway, Kristen graciously agreed to meet me in Seattle, since she lives fairly close.  She took the ferry over from her area.  You know how once in a while you meet someone you've never met before and already feel like you know them and can't stop talking to each other?  Yeah, we had that going on from the first minute we met.  Awesome :)  We decided to grab dinner near the water and wandered down to Anthony's to get some seafood.

This was actually later in the meal when Kristen had squirted ketchup on the baby bump!

I started with a local Red Ale.

There was some kind of early bird 4 course dinner, and after assessing our options, we both decided to try that to get the most bang for our bucks.  I got a shrimp cocktail to start.

Then I got a salad with blue cheese dressing, followed by my entree, which was salmon with shrimp, rice, and green beans.  Yum!

The meal concluded with chocolate mousse.

The meal was great, but the best part was definitely my company.  Kristen and I talked for so long she almost missed her ferry.  After a super quick picture near the entrance...

...the two of us were hustling down the Pier.  Kristen is fast for a preggo woman, let me tell ya.  I could barely keep up with her!  You should have seen us trucking down the Pier!

I wish we didn't live so far from each other, it'd be fun to hang out again, like tomorrow.  She promised me a visit with the baby someday and said that she knows that I'll have a baby to befriend her daughter sometime soon.  :)  Let's hope she's right!

Thanks again for meeting me Kristen!!

Date Night in Seattle

I love Seattle :)  What a cool city!  It's been a fun week here and I've managed to cram a lot in in the evenings after I finish work.  It's really easy to navigate, and there's tons to see and do.  It's exactly what I needed.

Tuesday morning I was still a little screwed up on time when I woke up in the morning, so I was up before 5am and actually decided to head to the hotel gym for a workout since I had so much time to kill before work.  I did a couple miles on the treadmill and some free weights before work.


Greg flew to Seattle to meet me and arrived around lunchtime.  I met up with him on my lunch break and we grabbed a sandwich and then he went back to the hotel to sleep while I went back to the office for the afternoon.  It was actually funny because he had THREE overnights in Seattle last week, right before I had my scheduled trip here.  See how timing is always just a little off in my life??  Anyway, he was able to catch a flight up to Seattle on his day off and we spent Tuesday night exploring Pike Place, The Pier, and more of downtown Seattle.

Fish at Pike Place

Flowers at Pike Place
The original Starbucks!

Seattle from the Pier
Sculpture at the Pier.

We walked around for a while, taking in the sights and doing a little shopping.

Dachshund socks and sweet potato pappardelle.  The essentials...

We then headed back to the hotel to primp a little before heading to dinner at The Capital Grille.

We actually have a Capital Grille in Charlotte, but haven't been before.  We've been to one in Northern Virginia, a long time ago.  We had a gift card to use and since it was close to my hotel in Seattle, we figured it was a good time to use it.  I had a Malbec, salad, a filet mignon and we split the au gratin potatoes.  It was great, but very simple.  I think I lean more towards a more creative menu these days, and Capital Grille is just very traditional.

Anyway, I'm lucky I have a pilot husband that was willing to fly across the country to spend a date night in Seattle with me.  He's a keeper :)

More to come on my Seattle adventures!

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