Friday, September 30, 2011

What was supposed to happen on Friday night....

We were supposed to get the kids all weekend.

As such, were supposed to leave at 4pm to drive to get the kids.

We were supposed to then get home, eat kid-friendly food with them... pizza, tacos, you know, what teenage boys like.

Then, we were supposed to sit on the couch, catch up with them, and go to bed early to catch up on sleep since we had a weekend of the kiddos ahead.

None of this happened (foreshadowing).

Communications got crossed and instead, we ended up with an entirely free weekend. So, what to do? Head in to Seattle for date night at Cafe Flora, an entirely vegetarian restaurant (and supposedly one of the best in Seattle):

We got there around 4:30pm, the time we were supposed to be in the mountains driving to get the kids.

Instead we were picking out wines (sorry for the sketchy iphone photo).

And ended up with an INCREDIBLE 100% cab... in which was not only amazing, but all profits go to a non-profit organization (even better!)

After sipping on some wines, we moved on to the menus for more happy hour options... at around the time we would have supposed to have been heading back down the mountain.

We had fried green tomatoes (pictured above... how have I never tried fried green tomatoes in my life?), sweet potato fries (delectable!), and coconut tofu. At which point, I died, went to heaven and begged the question of "Why I have NEVER been to Cafe Flora in the 4.5 years I've lived in Seattle?"

And this sweet guy looked at me (kind of like this!) and said, "I knew you'd love it, want to stay for dinner?"

Dinner at an amazing vegetarian place in Seattle when we were supposed to be eating kid friendly foods at home? Yes, please. Not that I'm not the first to love a night at home...

BUT. This was not that night.

So, how about dessert too? More wine perhaps? How about all of the above?

That's what we did... gnocchi for me, oaxca tacos for him, brownie and peach crisp for dessert. Oh yes, and amazing spicy pumpkin soup somewhere in between with another glass of wine and some bourbon to cap off the four hours we spent here (seriously). 

And then we went home late, stayed up late talking and sharing when we were supposed to have been fast asleep for several hours if things had gone according to plan.

And sometimes, even if the night or days or weekend were supposed to go one way and would have been just as great that way, the way things end up working out are just as good than they were supposed to work out originally...especially when you relax and just take things as they come, for exactly what they are. 

(always a good lesson to remember for those of us Type A people who like to plan...)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Secret chef.

I had happy hour with a girlfriend tonight. Since I've been the sole responsible person for making dinner most nights as Justin gets home later than I do and I have time right now (it's our slow season at work... that October 15 deadline that we still have? Yeah, we kicked it's ass. Non-issue for two years in a row!) So, going back to the point- I had happy hour, I've been making dinners, and so I casually said to Justin on my way out the door to happy hour, "Hey, you could make dinner for ME tonight since you're home and I'll be home later." You know, thinking he'd do something like a salad or soup or leftovers or something easy.


Of COURSE, he has to be the best. (OVERACHIEVER SYNDROME, I call it).

He made FROM SCRATCH a Thai dinner: spicy green curry spring rolls stuffed with peppers, tofu, veggies; miso soup with thai peppers/onion; and thai mashed purple potatoes with a hint of red curry. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I sort of thought the wine I'd had at happy hour had seeped into my brain and was making me delusional when I walked in the door. But nope, I watched him as he was finishing making it and I have picture proof (sorry for the yucky iphone picture... the blog at the front are the purple mashed potatoes. I forgot to take a picture of the soup so you'll have to trust me on that one):

Not only did this look good, but it tasted incredible. I've decided that I should officially hire my husband as my personal chef. He is amazing.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Being helpful.

In case you were wondering how to kill a GIANT dragon fly that just so happens to be in a gym locker room when you are trying to shower, I thought I'd offer my advice (GROSS on the bug, by the way). Enter exhibit A.

Smother it in soap. Gobs and gobs of soap. (IT WORKS and yes, I am aware this was not the "eco-friendly" thing to do... Hi, I'm Jenn, innocently trying to take a shower. This was a GIANT DRAGONFLY in the wrong place at the wrong time and it flew at my face. Frankly, I do not care if I killed this particular bug and if you have a problem with it might I suggest some soap on your head as well?)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Lucky number 15.

September 18 was Oliver's 15th birthday. We were lucky enough to have him for his birthday weekend (and his cousin, Eli) so we celebrated on Saturday, the 17th. Justin and the boys did some work that morning while I ran around doing birthday errands- buying things for the birthday dinner as well as running around to get presents. After I finished doing errands I ran home to make the birthday dinner. At the request of the birthday boy: lasagna (with no spinach, since I try to put spinach in everything) and chocolate chocolate cake. Done. Except for the small fact that I was making 2 of everything. A regular lasagna and a vegan/gluten free lasagna (a new thing I haven't tried before and had no idea how it would turn out) and vegan cupcakes. And then it was on to wrap presents before everyone got home and our guests arrived. Pictures:

Justin and Oliver before opening presents.

Justin and I attempting to take a self portrait before opening presents. Sadly enough, this one of Justin looking crazy is the best we could get.

Opening presents... Grammy got Oliver a graphing calculator and a bunch of school supplies... practical!

Showing off the calculator (with the snack of cheese crackers on the table while the lasagnas were finishing cooking).

And the big present- a new laptop! He was super excited for this as he had asked for it but I don't think he expected it. It was fun to go out and get it for him.

After the present fun, we had dinner. Apparently I should never be a food blogger since I always forget to take pictures of things I make but everything turned out great. Honestly, the vegan/gluten free lasagna was the favorite over the normal cheese/meat lasagna (it was seriously incredible). The vegan cupcakes were delicious and so chocolate-y too. These are definitely going to make a reappearance in our house soon. At that point, we'd lost Oliver and Eli for the night to the new laptop so Justin, his mom, and I spent the night sipping on wine and chatting away. It was a good night, and a great birthday weekend.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I swear, we both have college degrees.

But whether or not we should remains in question after our relapse in judgement after returning from the beer olympics. See this post for beer olympics recap.

We returned from the beer olympics earlier this year as I mentioned in the previous post. Sunday night vs. monday morning. We'll just go ahead and blame me. Perhaps I was just over it but in all reality I felt a little less than stellar. The combination of drinking keystone light (yuck) and then moving on to walking around all night the prior night drinking a bottle of wine OUT of the bottle (we'll go ahead and blame the influence of keystone light for that one), then tent camping after all of this (not much sleep) resulted in a rather grumpy Sunday. And the thought of playing more beer games and drinking more just made me want to hurl. I couldn't rally. <----- getting old. So, yes, go ahead and throw keystone light cans at my head and blame me for coming back early. BUT, we did. It was for the better. And our livers thanked us. (Truthfully it was for the better anyway as we missed traffic monday).

So Monday was the labor day holiday. We figured that since we came back early and we'd gotten a good night's sleep Sunday night that we were just fine that day to do whatever. No hangovers here!

And in our defense? We really weren't ever THAT hungover. Perhaps "that" is the imperative word here.

But that's beside the point.

After hanging out on Monday and getting some things done around the house, we decided to go to hot yoga at 4:30pm. A power vinyasa class (meaning, the more "workout" of the hot yoga series. Power vinyasa is all about flow and strength, not stretching like a Hatha class would be). You see where this is going right?

Um. Yeah.

About 10 minutes in (I kid you not), Justin and I were not only about ready to die but we were DYING. DY-ING. As in, about to puke, pass out, and just surrender to the world to take us now. (And also? We were probably sweating out keystone light). For the next 50 minutes we both laid there in child's pose debating internally whether or not we should leave the room or not (they frown upon you leaving while in class). Or rather that was Justin's scenario. After about 15 minutes in child's pose, I decided I could tough it out. Mind over matter, right? Well, I tried that for about 20 minutes at which point I died again. Luckily shortly after that started the stretching rotation so I made it through the end of class (though Justin said when I was up trying to do some poses, I was sweating on him which made him feel even more queasy... oops!)

When we left the class, we both sat outside for god knows how long. We were both shaking, spinning, having hot/cold/chill flashes, and felt like we were high. At which point we both turned to each other and tried to blame the other for this form of torture (I think I lost).

At the end of all of this brilliance, I think the lesson to be learned was this: NEVER, NEVER, NEVER go to hot yoga after a night (or weekend) of drinking...even if it is the best detox around.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Beer olympics, take #2

Does anyone remember when I posted about some Squalor in the Holler thing last year? No? Yes? Maybe? Well I did. See here. Please. I was much better at documenting last year because I guess the keystone light hit the "TAKE PICTURES" button last year and this year it hit the "DO NOTHING" button. And also, please refrain from calling the nearest psychologist as Justin and I subjected ourselves this AGAIN on labor day this year. What? We're responsible adults 99% of our lives... this accounts for the other 1%.

However, this year, it was much more mild on our end. Perhaps we are getting, um, OLD. Actually, I don't think that's it. I think that part of that was due to the fact that we were coming out of the wedding craze, just back from Hawaii where we spent the better part of the week drinking fruity drinks, and just not all reved up to partake in the beer olympics of the world. I mean, this kind of event requires TRAINING. And last year at the time of the beer olympics of the world, we'd spent the better part of the summer training in the form of bourbon. That is pretty much the best training in the world. This summer? Wedding planning. Does not qualify as training for the beer olympics. So, like I said, it was much more mild.

This year we went over on Saturday morning (versus Friday night last year). We stopped at safeway on our way up and bought a case of Keystone light, the official sponsor of this event, whether they know it or not. I'm pretty sure we do a good job of funding all profits they make in the state of Washington in September. But holy crap, Justin and I were BLOWN AWAY. 30 cans of Keystone light is ridiculously cheap. Who knew?

After picking up some beer and snacks, we made it to the official site for the weekend, Justin's friend Jesse's house. In the middle of bloody nowhere. If someone were to just plop me down there, aside from the mountains, I'd guess we were in Iowa. We did rally. Oh yes, we did. But, we were only there for 2 days (instead of the 3.5 last year) so we didn't WIN, though we participated in most events. That in itself is no small feat. All in all, it was a fabulous time. Good friends, great weather, good to get away and "rough" it by all accounts for a couple of days before we got back to Seattle to really bring in fall.

The only pictures that I took are below: on our drive out of the middle of nowhere on our way back to Seattle.

Justin driving... note the "official" Squalor in the Holler shirts this year were white v-necks. Classy.

Pretty mountains. (Like I said, it was GORGEOUS up there this year. Not too cold, warm during the day, perfect for tent camping).

Monday, September 12, 2011

Wedding recap

I have been dreading doing these posts for, oh, I don't know a month now... ok, maybe not quite that long but for a while. Not because I don't want to relive them- THAT part sounds fun. But mostly because every day there for about 10 days was so full of so much going on that to remember every thing takes a lot of work and to sort through all of the pictures takes a lot of work (and also, yes, I am being dramatic). If I'm being totally honest, I just wanted to savor in the moment of being a newlywed (oh, right, and that small detail of coming back to work and digging through the 20 piles that culminated while I was away meant that I had no time to even think about my blog. Wait, I had time, but I had no capacity once I finally got some free time in the past two weeks since I've been back). So, here we are now and things have calmed down. Alas, here's the post that will be your go-to as we march through the events that were our pre-wedding, wedding, reception. Click on each link below to see each post as I get them up.

The first day.

The second day...rehearsal, sort of.

The Wedding Day, Getting ready.

The wedding day... It's all in the details.

The wedding day.... pictures, pictures, and more pictures.

The wedding day... the ceremony.

The wedding day... post ceremony happy hour.

The wedding day... more and more and MORE pictures, and finally a chance to relax.

The wedding... the next day, the party!

Friday, September 9, 2011

The wedding day... the next day, the party!

Saturday, August 20th.... The day after the wedding ceremony. Justin and I woke up in downtown Seattle to completely sunny skies. AGAIN. And a prediction for even better (and warmer!) weather than the day before. Awesome.

We left the hotel around 10am to head home to hang out with my family for a while. Of course, we had to stop by Ladro first. After loading up with a couple of coffees, muffins, and cinnamon rolls,  we spent the morning with my family... Justin made juice (another post entirely), I ate peanut butter (of course) and we just hung out until around 1:30pm when the day sort of resembled the day before (and by the way? It was SO nice to have a relaxing morning following the ceremony and before the party. Again, this was definitely the way to have a wedding). Around 1:30, I headed to get my hair put up again, Justin and my family went to pick up cakes (plural), salads, cheeses, etc for the night ahead. Then we were all off to the winery to set up!

Since this is the last of the "official" wedding shots, one more HUGE thank you to our amazing photographer Tara of Red Thread Images. Here's how the party went:

We got to the winery around 3:30pm to start the set up (clearly the above is from later... post set up). A few things for this night: we wanted it to include all of the things WE love so that we could share them with people we love. So first up, the venue: Woodhouse Wine Estates.

We absolutely love this winery. It's local and we are wine members. We know the owners, we know the winemakers, we know the people who work there. Honestly, we've never had a bad wine there, even a white- and that's saying something because both of us generally HATE white wines.

We fell in love with this winery after trying their Tempernillo, a reasonably priced bottle of red for $20 that we tried on a whim. We drank it one night and were BLOWN AWAY. I'm pretty sure it wasn't long after (maybe the following weekend) that we went to the winery to wine taste, loved all of the tasting wines and became members. Then we kept going back- to releases, to tastings and grew our relationship as well as our love for their wines.

Their top shelf wines are AMAZING, of course, but even their $10 bottles drink like $50 bottles. It's just incredible. And their winemaker's family has been making wine in France since the 1500s. He's currently on a personal mission to make the best damn Riesling in the nation (and honestly? He's pretty damn close! Sidenote on this one: ask anyone at our party, we served it there... and ended up having to buy more that night, it was that popular. I KNOW, a RIESLING! It's a dry Riesling, really. We couldn't believe it either...but seriously, it was dry. And delicious. And I still can't believe we're talking about Riesling, either).

Anyway, we love the personal touches of all of the wine- how each bottle is named after someone who means something to them, how the winemaker and owners are always there and willing to talk about their wine. We are passionate about this winery, so, when it came down to it? Perfect place for our wedding celebration (also note: not a reception. We did not want any of that typical wedding hoopla. We've both been married before, we don't need to toss any flowers or garters or have some sort of "wedding timeline" for the reception. We really just wanted to share things we love with people we care about in a cocktail party type of setting. Pretty simple).  

We spent the next two hours setting up...a huge THANK YOU to my family for helping to set up the venue...even my dad and brother stuff roses in wine bottles to decorate. It was pretty cute. It was also a little chaotic there for a while but mostly organized. Organized chaos? Yeah, maybe that. We had two bigger tables that people could sit at but mostly wine barrel tables that people could socialize around... a cocktail party at its best. Above: the decor on the tables. A wine bottle of woodhouse wines that we drank in order to make these centerpieces (a tough job but someone needed to do it)... in it, we put some black/red sticks, tied a black ribbon around them and put in a white rose. And voila! The material is all due to my mom who graciously got all of the material for both the wedding and reception and brought it in from Kansas City (lifesaver). Also, I bought the above cards and my mom ran to every Hobby Lobby in Kansas City to get the little spiral holders to put them on the tables (again, lifesaver!)

I like this shot of the word cards (what the hell is the right name for those things?) with our rings.

I think this picture is from Friday but I like it so I put it in here... it's a good segway to what happened after the set up: more pictures! Some of me, first. Then, of all of us together before the guests started to arrive at 5:30.

LOVE these doors that lead into the barrel room.

Pictures in the barrel room? Perfect.

Love this shot. Not totally sure what was going on here but it looks cool.

OH, turns out the last shot was the one leading up to him getting on his knees and kissing me. Cute.

Mmm... our first sip of wine. Perhaps the magnum cab franc we got? (By the way- the cab franc is our personal favorite).

A line of up of chocolates from S'chocolat that I mentioned here. And also? All 350 chocolates were basically gone at the end of the night. We may have had 30 left. Impressive, maybe, but not really considering that the things are like little chocolate crackballs. Once you start, you can't stop!

Details- the chandeliers. Aren't they cool?

More details- the wineglasses ready and waiting for guests.

And the wines we picked for the night, all by Woodhouse of course: Kennedy Shah reserve Riesling, Kennedy Shah Chardonney, Dussek Cabernet Sauvignon,  Hudson Shah Cab, Kennedy Shah Tempernillo (the newest release-2009- 2008 was better but they ran out... waaah), and Hudson Shah Malbec. Not picture here was the Dussek reserve Syrah and the Kennedy Shah reserve Cab Franc (the magnum we got that I'm pretty sure Justin and I killed ourselves...)

A picture that Lauren drew me the day of the wedding. So sweet.

One of the cakes! And there were three. The place I wanted a wedding cake from "didn't do wedding cakes." WELL. FINE. Then I want three sheet cakes. And they were all, really? Yes. Three sheet cakes, white buttercream frosting. I'll decorate. And I did. With black ribbons and roses and letter initials. About 1.5 hours before the party started. Good thing I didn't really care how it turned out (but luckily it turned out great!)

More details.

A shot of the wine friendly food spread that we had there... cheeses, fruits, salads, various appetizers. It turned out pretty awesome!

Bailey (middle) was our deejay and responsible for the music mixup. Here are the three Valente boys trying to figure out how to make it all work.

About an hour after people started arriving, Justin made a toast. It was very cool.

We went through a lot of wine....

And cheese.

And bubbles?

Oh yes, DEFINITELY with the bubbles.

A shot of the crowd. We ended up with a little over 100 people that turned up, which was perfect but we wished we would have had more time to talk to everyone! We have a TON of individual shots of people at the party so if you were there and you want yours, email me or I'll email you but I'm not posting you on the blog in the case that you hate the picture. And really, that would be a lot of downloading on my end....

Kristi- our woodhouse gal who worked our event that night... she was AMAZING.

More chocolates.

Isla, again, with the right idea....

Bailey doing his deejay thing. He actually did awesome, I was very impressed.

At one point, we decided to cut the cakes because no one was touching them thinking we were going to do an "official" cutting. We weren't really but it sort of turned into one to get people to start cutting away and eating it themselves. Of course, I wanted one specific kind and it was the last one we cut so we ended up with a giant plate of cake. Which I ate...

Nope, not the right one...

"Just a little bit..."

Giving one of the kids a rose off the cakes. She was so sweet.

Here I am eating the pile of cake with Justin's mom. See, I shared!

Eventually, as the party got later, some people started to strip....

And we danced...

As did the little stripper...

And I guess I also ate more cake. Hmm. Don't remember that....

But so did Oliver, so it's all good. We burned it dancing, right?

But some people just had to work...

This is a little random for this post since it's not in sequence but I LOVE this shot of Justin's brother's family.

I also love this picture of Ryan and Lauren...

As well as this one.

This shot, taken towards the later end of the evening... empty wine glass and all. All in all, it was a fabulous event and everyone seems to have had a good time. We've even had requests (and have gone out to Woodhouse) with some of our friends that came that wanted to try more of their wine since then! More importantly, WE had a great time celebrating with everyone who joined us... and sharing all of the special things we love- food, wine, friends, and of course, each other. A big THANK YOU to everyone who came to our events, shared with us in some way and who made these two days everything they were, incredible, full of love, perfect, more than we could have hoped...we cannot wait to share the rest of our life together with all of you as an instrumental part of it.