Seattle

Last night it rained for the first time in months in Los Angeles. While most of the country suffers with cold and snow we have been lucky to enjoy a relatively sunny winter. I was personally very happy with the rain, even though it only lasted a couple of hours it was a pleasant reminder of what other weather feels like. It also reminded me of the last time I felt truly cold to the bone, which happened to be just about a year ago on our trip to Seattle. I go back to New England every winter and it has been cold, but Seattle last year felt icier than New England had the previous month. Nevertheless, we bundled up and had a lovely weekend there.

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We went with my soon to be brother-in-law and his now fiancée, as we were in town for the Science Fiction + Fantasy Short Film Festival where our short ‘Cats in Space,’ was screening. Aside from the festival, the main attraction for us was visiting the Space Needle and the remnants of the Century 21 Exposition from 1962.

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The Seattle Center Armory predates the fair, as can be seen in its Deco look rather than the Mid-Century Modern of the other pavilions.

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After the Space Needle, we were most excited about the Seattle Center Monorail. We were able to take the Monorail near our hotel room making the lack of vehicle that much easier during our stay. Sigh…if only Los Angeles had a monorail for public transportation…if only indeed.

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Our second morning there we headed toward Pike Place (home of the first Starbucks location) to fuel up for our day of sightseeing.

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We found much more at Pike Place than we would have initially expected. The Public Market had a wonderful variety of produce/fish stands and novelty stores – one at which we found a great print of the Seattle World’s Fair poster that we will eventually find a place to hang up in our home.

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We walked through Pioneer Square, past Smith Tower and the original ‘Skid Road.’

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Here is James at the gate of the Chinatown-International District.

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King Street Station was closed to the public, so we could not go inside.

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I could not have been more impressed by the Central Library. It’s a wonderful post modern structure that offers great views and a pleasant atmosphere.

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The waterfront has some great views of the city as well.

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We ended our last night in Seattle by going back to the Space Needle and celebrating the end of the trip and the positive reaction to our short film at the festival. We had a lovely dinner at the Space Needle that night, but unfortunately it was far too foggy to have any view whatsoever. Which brings us back to Los Angeles, and some of the reasons I’m glad to make my home in a sunny city. Seattle, you were wonderful – but I think we can just be friends.

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Handmade Wedding Gifts

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We have officially registered for our wedding. We were hesitant at first since we don’t really need anything but decided that it would be the most convenient route for some friends and family. Of course we are not the type of couple who feel entitled to a gift from our guests – their company for the celebration of our union is more than enough. However, we know many will want to give us a gift so rather than having them struggle to figure out what we would want/need we made it a bit simpler for them with a wedding registry.

This past year we went to two weddings for close friends and were in a situation where we had to figure out the perfect gift for each couple. One of the couples did not have a registry at all and the other couple had a limited amount of items left by the time we got to the registry list; besides, we wanted their gifts to be more personal, as they are good friends. Therefore, we decided to make their gifts. My skills with crafting lie primarily with textiles so I knew I would be taking that approach.

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For the first wedding we decided to make aprons for the couple. They cook a lot so we thought it would make for a nice gift to make them aprons in their favorite colors and hand embroider their last name onto the aprons.

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For her apron I used two kinds of fabric, a print and a solid, along with a patterned purple ribbon to line some of the edges. I modeled it after an apron I have (seen hanging in the back after it went through a messy cooking session earlier). I did not use a pre-cut pattern for either apron. Instead, I took measurements roughly based on my existing apron for hers and used James as my model for his.

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For the second handmade wedding gift we fabricated this past year we made hand embroidered kitchen towels featuring some of the couples favorite logos. They had a very unique and comic book themed wedding in October so it felt like a fitting and personal gift.We included several images representing their favorite films, comics, places and hobbies.

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James took on the challenge of hand drawing all of the images and then I embroidered them all as carefully as I could.

Admittedly these project take a lot more time and devotion than purchasing a gift but every once in a while it’s worth the effort to provide that special handmade touch. We will be pleased to receive anything from our registry, but whole heartedly welcome unique special gifts as well.


Play Time with Legos

James and I both absolutely love playing with Legos. It’s safe to say that we subscribe to the idea that, ‘adults are only kids grown-up, anyway,’ and greatly value the importance of having fun however we see fit. We have a few bins in our closet dedicated to several lego collections including some from James’ childhood. We also have a few models on display throughout our apartment such as The Millenium Falcon, The Back to the Future DeLorean, and several mini-figs. A couple of months ago we decided to splurge on the Lego Architecture Studio set to add to our ever growing Lego collection. We knew that this was something we could have a lot of fun with and that it would continuously challenge our creativity. Happily, we haven’t regretted this purchase for a second. Here are some of the models we have created so far:

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The scale of this one was determined by the steps. In theory this is only the front of the building as creating the entire concept for the building would have taken a lot more time and pieces. This is perhaps the largest one we have made so far.

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In contrast, this model is one of the smaller ones we have created. The idea here is to represent three individual skyscrapers that would exist in the same metropolis.

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This model can represent a hotel or apartment building. If you look closely there are supposed to be about four stories with a little balcony for each unit.

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These three were some of the very first structures we made. They were mostly arbitrary as we had fun learning how all the different types of pieces worked together.

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This piece directly modeled after a tile from the Ennis House is much more complex than it may appear; James used an intricate series of small plates to create the shapes inside the square. Unfortunately, the end product was still rather simplified from the ideal since we did not have enough pieces to make a larger fully detailed version.


Anniversary Trips

This weekend James and I purchased our honeymoon flights. This is an instance where words really cannot convey our excitement. We chose our wedding date based on our anniversary. We feel that as important as our wedding anniversary will be, the anniversary of our first date will always hold a heavier significance as the true beginning of our relationship, so we wanted both dates to be relatively close. The past three anniversary’s we have decided to celebrate by taking weekend trips. Our honeymoon, which begins the day after the wedding, will also celebrate our four year anniversary. After purchasing our flights I started to look back at previous anniversary trips, the most recent which was our trip to Quebec. Here are some pictures from our first and second year anniversary trips. We look forward to adding many more wonderful trips in the happy years to come.

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For our first year anniversary, James got us tickets for a ride on the Fillmore and Western Railway steam train. I had actually never been on a train in general until this day (living in Rhode Island most of my life doesn’t really call for riding trains), so it was a wonderful treat. What better way to ride a train for the first time?!

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The train ride took us through the farmland of Ventura County, and had two stops. The first stop was in Santa Paula where we were able to walk around and grab some lunch, and the second at an emporium where we were able to shop from local farmers.

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We sat in a booth all to ourselves and enjoyed refreshments from the concession counter in the train.

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One of my favorite details of the day were the tickets, complete with stamps and hole punches marking the date (which helped inspire our save the dates). It was a great detail to round out the experience.

IMG_6593For our second anniversary celebration we took a trip to Santa Barbara for the weekend. That year our anniversary fell right on Labor Day weekend so we were able to spend a few days exploring the romantic city.

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James (who loves all things related to flags) was very excited to find a replica of the very first bear flag of California at the pier.

IMG_6577There was a lovely view from the top of the courthouse.

img_65701Here is the doorway of the Spanish Colonial Revival courthouse showing the great fonts that are used all around the government buildings.

img_6595After a full day and night in Santa Barbara we decided to head to Solvang for a few hours before making our way back to Los Angeles. This charming Danish architecture proved to be quite the surprise as we were not expecting something so interesting. We have decided that Solvang will need a whole weekend to itself for our exploration someday.


Lady Finger Cake

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My best friend’s mother makes some of the best desserts I’ve ever had and this cake was an instant winner in my books. I personally am not the biggest fan of sweets. I especially do not care much for cake. This cake however, is not too too sweet, it’s light in texture, and feels like an ideal summer dessert. I decided to take a shot at making it myself, and altered some of the ingredients while I was at it to make them a tad healthier. The original cake had strawberries on the top layer but I used pineapple and blueberries on each layer to add more fruit and make it almost refreshing. The best part: super easy and no baking required!

INGREDIENTS (for one 9 inch round dish):

2 packets of soft lady fingers (about 24 fingers/packet)

1 package of light cream cheese

1 pint heavy whipping cream

3/4 cup raw sugar

1 1/2 cups blueberries

2 cups diced fresh pineapple

INSTRUCTIONS:

Beat the heavy cream in a large bowl until soft peaks form (this part was a lot of fun).

Cover and refrigerate.

In a separate bowl beat the cream cheese until soft. Add the sugar and beat until fully mixed.

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Add the cream cheese mixture to the whipped cream and beat until thoroughly incorporated. Line the dish with lady fingers all around the edge and add lady fingers to bottom of dish for bottom layer. Add a couple scoops of cream mixture, as much fruit/layer as desired, and then another layer of lady fingers. Repeat layering until you reach the top of the cake. For the last layer spread the cream mixture and decorate with fruit pieces as desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


Wedding Dress Shopping

Last week I went wedding dress shopping.  I happen to be very lucky to have a fiancé who is actively involved in the wedding planning decision making and right there by my side on every detail, that is until the dress shopping came. We are not superstitious, but we do like the idea of maintaining traditions, so we decided that this was something he would not be a part of. I went with my mother, who was essential, my sister/maid of honor, my two nieces each representing their mothers/my sisters, and my best friend – all who gave the greatest feedback and support. I knew what type of dress I wanted going in, and was worried that not only would I not find anything close to my ideal, but that if I did it would be far out of our dress budget. Luck was by my side yet again, and I did find the dress for me after just a few attempts and two stores. I had ‘the moment’ that I always imagined I would have when I found the one, and it was right within our budget. Here are some of the dresses which did NOT make the cut before I tried on the one for me. I will not share the winning dress until the wedding photos are posted.

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This dress on the left was actually chosen by the bride trying on dresses in the next room over, and I admit it is lovely. My personal issue with it was the tulle showing through on the side there, not for me.

The one on the right was well liked by most of my family. I loved the strap detail, but I was not at all a fan of the peplum. It felt trendy, and like something I would regret in a few years.

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I liked the lace detail on the top of the left dress, but overall it felt a bit matronly for me. The bottom detail felt sparse and that was a deal breaker.

This dress on the right was quickly a ‘no,’ and quite the unflattering picture to go with it.  The tulle on the bottom clashed too much with the embroidered flowers on the upper portion.

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This one was the one that made my mommy cry. It came very close to being the right one – it had the lace, a beautiful back, and an elegant feel. My concerns were the sash, which was much too bright and covered with gem stones, and the tail of the dress was definitely too long and heavy for an outdoor wedding in early September.

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This dress was another close one. It had a lot of what I was looking for – the only exception being that it had a bit too much ‘poof’ for my taste, as I was ideally in search of a sheath style dress. If I had not found the perfect dress for me after trying on this one, it is very likely that this would have been the one. Alas, it will have to be for a different bride.

Now that I have found my dress, the whole wedding seems to be coming even more into focus. We still have several details to sort, and we’re having fun with it every step of the way.


Christmas Dinner for Two

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This year (2013) James and I celebrated our fourth Christmas together. This was also the last year that we split up for Christmas since we usually travel to visit our respective families for the holiday; we will of course start spending all future Christmases together after we are married. Since we did not spend Christmas day together we celebrated a few days before departing as we have done the previous three years. This means a nice quiet dinner for two, our favorite Christmas movies, and our gift exchange. These nights have always been incredibly meaningful to us as we mentally prepared to separate for a couple of weeks and they served as OUR own special Christmas celebration. Spending Christmas day together will be very special as well, but I have the feeling that we will continue this personal tradition even in our future since we will still be traveling to spend Christmas with family, except alternating which family to visit each year. We kept it simple and romantic – a home cooked meal, a decadent dessert, holiday cocktails, and pretty candles made this meal better than any restaurant could have.

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For the main course I made whole wheat penne pasta with bacon, lobster, and sun-dried tomatoes. This time we cheated with dessert and decided to pick up a little cheesecake at the bakery instead of making a dessert at home.

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For the cocktails: muddled cranberries, 1 oz bourbon, 1/2 oz ginger syrup, dash angostura bitters, splash of 100% cranberry juice, dash of cinnamon – per serving.

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We watched Christmas themed movies most of the day – including: ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas,’ ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas,’ ‘Frosty the Snowman,’ and ‘Home Alone.’ My personal favorite is actually ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ but we weren’t able to get our hands on a Netflix disk this year – clearly it’s time to just give in and buy the blu-ray.

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After dinner and movies it was time to open the gifts. I admit my gift to James was in a ways a gift for both of us to enjoy – we’ve been eyeing the James Bond blu-ray set for quite some time and I finally decided to make that a reality.

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Of course I had to include a book with his gift as has become a tradition (previous years include: ‘The Making of Star Wars,’ ‘The Making of The Empire Strikes Back,’ ‘The Complete Making of Indiana Jones,’ etc.). I love themed gifts and James has an affinity for certain film archive books so it couldn’t have been more perfect.

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We ended our night by taking out all of the legos in our Lego City Advent Calendar since we would be gone for the remaining days. This years calendar included a lot of great fun pieces that we will be able to take out and display every holiday season.

We look forward to many happy Christmases together in the years to come.