Thursday, May 18, 2017

Seattle Part 4: Lunch, Snacks, and Treats

In my next novel about Seattle, I'm writing about the lunches, snacks, and treats we got while we were there.  You guys, there's so much good food in this city!  I need to learn to split a dish with hubby or order small plates since we are constantly eating when on vacation.  Do you have a strategy for eating on vacation?  If so, please share in the comments!

The Athenian at Pike Place Market
Honestly, we got into our hotel and I was starving yet I still took the time to video a hotel tour on Instagram Stories (I'm a little nuts, let's all just embrace it.)  We asked the hotel front desk employees where we should eat and they said The Athenian.  Later, I talked to my friend Diane and she said the same so The Athenian was obviously the right choice.  Dustin started with a Snoqualmie Falls Brewing Black Frog Stout (which is local to them) which he enjoyed.  I liked it too.  We are both super into dark beer right now.  He had the Bacon and Bleu Burger which was a solid burger though not unique.  However the onion rings were AMAZING and I'd say that they are in my top 5 onion rings I've ever eaten.  You MUST go here for the onion rings and ask for extra condiments, they have all kinds of hot sauce and other sauces that you can request.  I had the 2 piece fish and chips.  It was delicious!  Their tartar sauce is really good!  Neither the tartar sauce nor the cole slaw leaned sweet which was kind of refreshing.  The fries were good.  Overall, a nice filling meal to start our trip.  The service was great and we got to enjoy a nice view while eating.

Bakery Nouveau 
After we had lunch, I reached out to one of my Instagram friends Jess who is SeattleDessertGeek.  I figured she would have great suggestions being that she's a food Instagrammer like me.  She is such a sweetheart that she came and met us and actually SHOWED us around like a tour guide.  And she came bearing a gift!  She brought us this Praline Dream Cake from Bakery Nouveau.  It has hazelnut in all different forms.  It had a delicious mousse, milk chocolate and praline flakey fuelletine, gianduja, and chocolate biscuit.  It was spectacular!

Cupcake Royale
Honesty time, I was going to try to go to Unicorn purely because of the name but there was a line of super young people outside and I didn't really want to wait in a line and deal with a crowd.  However, I found Cupcake Royale across the street and YOU GUYS, the shop looked like it came out of my dreams!  It was pink and sassy and so cute!  The was a huge display of pink bakery boxes that spelled out JOY on the wall and that's my daughter's middle name.  It looked like Pinterest inside the shop.  They even had a display of ice cream and they had coffee and tea.  I was too full to eat or drink anything when we walked in but I got the Kate Cupcake which is a chocolate cupcake with pink frosting and sprinkles to go.  It was delicious even though I didn't get around to eating it until Monday after I got home!  This photo was taken from our balcony at The Alexis Hotel.  If I lived close by, this is a place I would go to all the time.  In fact, if I lived close by, I'd probably try to do photoshoots here.  It is THAT cute!

Mora Iced Creamery
I heard a lot about Mora ice cream from several local people so when we got to Bainbridge Island and wanted a snack we knew where we were going!  Mora is a really interesting place since you have to commit to paying for whatever size or item you're going to get BEFORE sampling.  BUT it's really good ice cream so just go ahead and do it.  What's a few dollars when they will literally let you try everything in the store?  The staff was SO sweet!  I couldn't decide what I wanted and they let me try whatever I wanted.  Beyond that, the girls started suggesting other flavors for me and giving me samples of those.  ALL of the flavors are delicious!  I didn't have a single one I didn't like.  I did like some more than others because that's my palette.  I ended up getting the Mora (Blackberry) and Cheesecake with Brownies ice creams.  I love adding tartness to sweet to break it up!  This shop was so cute and if I lived close by I would go there ALL the time!

This place is legit.  When you walk in, you can see a person make fresh pasta in the gallery kitchen.  Not only do they make their pasta and bread from scratch, it is all sour dough!  They also do a lot of house crafted spirits along with having a literal wall full of bottles of alcohol.  One of the things that drew us in is the giant wheels of drink specials that they spin every half hour.  How fun is it to have a different drink every 30 mins at a special price?  Your girl loves a deal especially on drinks!  It's like Happy Hour ALL the time.

When I first walked in, they drink special was a Dirty Shirley so that's what I ordered.  It was delicious!  It was a Shirley Temple spiked with vodka.  Dustin tried a martini since he'd never had one and they have $5 martinis all day.  It's so fun because the waitress brings it over in the shaker then they shake and pour table side!  After another spin of the wheel, Dustin ordered a local beer that was on special and that glass it came in was HUGE!  If I lived in Seattle, this would be my go-to place for drinks!

To start, we ordered the Whole Milk Fresh Mozzarella Spread with their house made bread.  It was AMAZING!  The bread was delicious and of course fresh cheese is always a treat!  It was really good with the pesto that their garnished the plate with.  Dustin got the Mac and Cheese and asked to add meatballs to it.  I'm not sure if they added meatballs or sausage but it was delicious!  That scratch made pasta is out of this world and they use Beechers cheese which is very local to them and is VERY popular among locals!  I got the Fresh Mussel, Salmon, and Cod pasta.  I subbed in their larger pasta shape for the perlina (which is small rice like pasta) and I added the mushrooms.  I would not suggest adding the mushrooms since you don't get that much for the $3 you pay but other than that, the dish was AMAZING!  You get tons of seafood so while it's a more expensive plate, you get your money's worth.

My major disappointment with this place is that we told the waitress that it was our anniversary meal since this was one of the only meals we ate on our own and it was the last meal of the vacation.  Their was another couple celebrating an anniversary and they got a sparkler and maybe a dessert.  And all I wanted was the sparkler because it was pretty and I was doing tons of social media video/photos in their establishment.  We got NOTHING.  We dropped 80 bucks on lunch and couldn't get a $1 sparkler...  It's a small finicky detail but 12 years of marriage is a lot of work and if given the option we could have PAID for the sparkler if the option was given to us.

I'll be back with my last Seattle post in a few days which will include dinner and drinks.  Huge thank you to everyone who is sticking through all these posts with me!

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Monday, May 15, 2017

$10 at Target: End of the Year Gift Idea

Hi friends!  I hope you all had a great weekend!  Today, I'm joining a group of awesome blogger friends to host a $10 at Target Link Up.  It's been so long since I've done a link up so I'm excited to chat with some new bloggers and see everyone's awesome finds!  ***I am no way affiliated with Target.  I wish I was!

Since it is nearing the end of the school year, I thought I'd show a cute little gift that would be perfect for a teacher, a coach, an aid, a tutor, or even a friend who just needs a pick me up.  The possibilities are endless!  It is so important to stay hydrated during the summer and I think the best way to do that is with a cup you really love.  Also, sometimes it's fun to add in a little flavor to your water.  I, personally, LOVE drinking water (which is something that took a VERY long time to make into a habit) but sometimes I like to change it up and have something with a little bit of flavor.  

Right now, Target has these super cute Disney Tritan water bottles for $7.99.  They had Mickey, Minnie, and a few princesses when I was at my local Target.  Online they also had some Star Wars and super hero ones so you can also personalize this gift for men or people who don't like Disney.  I got a package of True Lemon for $1.99.  I have a Target Red Card so I got 5% off.  After tax, I did go over budget by some change.

This gift would be super cute if you tried a ribbon around the bottle and the box then added a tag that said "thank you for quenching my thirst for knowledge" or "a coach like you is so refreshing" or other super fun plays on words.  Maybe next month I will find the time to make cute packaging.  Maybe.  If I'm not a giant slacker and I feel like crafting.  (Read: don't hold your breath.)

What can you get at Target for $10?  What are you some of your favorite Target finds?  If you don't have a blog, just leave a comment and let me know what you like to get at Target.

Please check out the other hostesses to see what they got:

Friday, May 12, 2017

Seattle Part 3: Breakfast, Brunch, and Coffee

I hope you have had the chance to read my Pack Up + Go Post and my Seattle Part 2 post but if you're just here for the food, I don't blame you.  Spoiler alert, we went to eat so much!  I will try not to go on and on.  Please keep in mind that we did not know that we were going to Seattle until we were at the airport to go so there was not a lot of time for research.  (Please use my name as a referral if you book a Pack Up + Go trip, thank you!)

I've decided (again) to split this post up.  I meant to write this as one post but we went to THIRTEEN different places to eat!  This post will cover breakfast, brunch, and coffee.  Oh coffee, you're my favorite!  I don't think I've ever been as full as I was in Seattle but we walked SO freaking much and it was so hilly so I'd call it balance.  Do not burst my bubble.  Seattle was the perfect city for me since I do a lot of food on my Instagram!

This coffee shop was right at our hotel and it is gorgeous!  There were big windows, lots of wood furniture, awesome branding with their logo subtly everywhere, and lots of modern decor too.  They had board games to play but I had no time for that as I was busy taking some lifestyle photos.  The staff was WONDERFUL!  I wish I had gotten their names.  They were so sweet to me and made me feel really special!  I got a quad shot vanilla latte and Dustin got a mocha.  Both were as beautiful as they were tasty!  I loved the taste of their espresso and the level of sweetness they used in their drinks!  I wish I had time to hand out here all day.

~ Saturday Brunch - Local 360
We had the pleasure of going to brunch with Dustin's cousin Kimberlee and spending time with her on Saturday.  After chatting about the menus and what we were looking for (mainly a place that had LOTS o mimosas!) we picked Local 360.  It has a very "Sacramento" concept being that they source their food locally (within 360 miles of the location.)  They also focus on sustainable food sources.  They have rustic wood decor.

We started with the Limencello and Thyme Mimosa pitcher which was a lovely flavor though I feel like the pitcher was a bit small for the price.  However, this is probably the best value out of all the pitchers since one of the flavors is another alcohol.  Dustin got the Rabbit Sausage Biscuit Sandwich with house made rabbit sausage and a side of grits.  It was good though I think when you take the pork out of a sausage, it takes away the "sausage flavor" so while the meat was good it just tasted like a patty.  The grits were yummy.  I'm super into grits and polenta right now.  I got the Hangtown Fry: Open Faced Bacon Omelette.  It was SO good!  The bacon pieces in the omelette were huge!  The fried oysters were delicious and the spicy sauce they served on the side was no joke!  I really enjoyed it!  Kim got the Chorizo Scramble which was good and she enjoyed (I don't have a picture.)  She also gave me some of her biscuits because for some reason Seattle has a biscuit obsession and it was very good as well.  I got the Old Fashion Donut for us all to share.  It was super dense and not what I would call a donut.  If they rebranded that as a fried cake, I might be able to get behind it.  The service here was amazing!  We were able to get a reservation and they were super on top of seating their reservations right on time which I really respect.  It was delicious and I was satisfied since I love that brunch life!

My friend Ken told me to go to Top Pot and I love a donut so why not?  It was really close to our hotel and we actually walked passed it several times.  We grabbed some coffee and donuts on our way to the Underground Tour which I wrote about in my last post.  I got my usual coffee order (3 shots of espresso over ice with vanilla and a splash of non-fat) which the barista had the hardest time with.  He asked if it was a latte which is interesting because I didn't order a latte.  I told him it was more like an Americano with no water and that seemed to do the trick.  I found their espresso to lean sour which I didn't love.  We got 2 Raspberry Glazed ring donuts which were ok not a lot of flavor and I usually really love raised donuts.  The Cherry Blossom donut seemed to be an obvious choice since Seattle seemed to be all about the cherry blossom when we visited.  

~ Chocolati Cafe
After leaving the Skyview Observatory, Dustin found this cute little coffee shop for us to walk to.  The location is inside the Seattle Public Library - Central Library which is a great concept!  They have several locations in Seattle and this is more like a coffee cart with a chocolate case, a cold case with sandwiches, and a pastry case.  They have a few tables in their cafe area but I saw a lot of people with coffee sitting all around the library.

I made Dustin get the hot mocha since they use REAL melted chocolate in their hot drinks but I usually drink cold coffee.  His was amazing!  It was rich and creamy!  My iced mocha was made with some sort of mocha powder and wasn't nearly as good as the hot one.  We also each got a piece of chocolate.  Dustin got the coconut one which he enjoyed very much.  I got the mint bar which was yummy and more subtle.

I wish I had the chance to visit more coffee shops while I was in Seattle since that is what they are known for.  I also wish I had done another brunch instead of doing donut and coffee one more since I really love brunch and it shows so much more versatility in food.  I did enjoy all of the things I wrote about so I guess we did pretty good.  Stay tuned, I will be writing a post with lunch, snacks, and treats and another post with dinner and drinks.  

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Friday, May 5, 2017

Seattle Part 2: What We Did

Hi all!  Are you ready for the next installment in my Seattle series?  I hope so because that's what I'm writing!  Keep in mind that we were only in Seattle for 3 days and 2 nights.  There are tons of things I wish I had time for but isn't that how vacation goes?  If you haven't read about Pack Up + Go and how we ended up in Seattle, you can read that post HERE.  Keep in mind, we had NO idea where we were going until we were at the airport so there was literally no time to place activities however they did give us an itinerary of things they thought we would enjoy.

Pike Place Market
This place was on my bucket list.  I've always wanted to go here.  However, I don't know why but in my mind it was just one long hallway with stalls on both sides.  I was not prepared for it to be so spread out with staircases going down and ramps going up and twists and turns and BILLIONS of stalls.  Honestly, it was extremely overwhelming and I wish we hadn't gone here first.  We literally landed in Seattle, checked into our hotel, and walked to Pike Place.  (PS How did I not know that Seattle is SO hilly like San Fransisco?  I'm pretty sure I almost died walking at least 84 times.)

We walked around the market and didn't know what to do.  We were hungry so we stopped for lunch. (I'm going to do a separate post about all the food we ate because I'm weird and that sounds like a great idea.)  Then we walked about looking for Ellenos Yogurt which at least 3 people told me to try when I mentioned I was going to the market.  We found a place to sit with an ocean view to eat our yogurt which was SO good!  We walked around the market some more, we sampled one piece of fruit, and we noticed that a lot of the vendors were packing up for the day.  It was almost 5pm at this point so we headed out.  I'm really disappointed that we didn't buy anything to take home or any fruit to keep at the hotel to snack on.

Starbucks Roastery
The next day after brunch, we headed to the Starbucks Roastery on Capitol Hill.  It was a huge beautiful building.  There was an area with a little gift shop with merchandise, an area for a cafe with food, an area with an experience bar where you could order drinks and talk to the baristas, and an area where you can see coffee beans being roasted.  There's even a place where you can go up some stairs and see the roasting equipment from a higher level.  It was gorgeous to walk around and take it in!  I saw a guy doing pour overs in the area with the merchandise but didn't really stop to check it out.

My favorite part was going to the experience bar and sitting at it!  They have an entire exclusive menu at this location including Shakerato (espresso shaken with ice), affogato (espresso over ice cream), coffee and espresso flights, Nitro coffee, etc... Dustin and I split the Shakerato Affogato (because you might as well get 2 things you can't have at other Starbucks together) and Dustin's cousin Kim (who was our tour guide for the day) got an Undertow.  The Undertow is a layered drink with syrup, then cold half and half, and an espresso shot on top that you drink like a shot of alcohol.  You can order these are regular Starbucks locations even though they are not on the menu.  It's a real jolt, I do them when I have to pull a late night for fundraising.  The Shakerato Affograto was made with Mora ice cream which is local to them, shaken espresso, and finished with vanilla syrup and a mint sprig.  We started eating it as is and it was good.  Then I was sad that I couldn't taste the mint (though it might have been there for decoration) so I started mashing it with the spoon to release some of the flavor and that took the dessert to a whole new level and I highly recommend doing that!

While sitting at the bar we discovered that the barista working right in front of us (Kevin) is from Sacramento!  He was super friendly!  While we enjoyed our coffee, we watched him do the Siphon Brewing.  That was SO so so cool!  It looks like a science experiment.  If you come to the Roastery, you HAVE to go watch them do this!

Ferry Ride
After the Roastery, we walked literally FOREVER to get the the Ferry.  I don't remember ever going on a ferry so I decided that I need to experience it.  It was such a fun experience!  We sat near a side window on the way there it was so nice to look out over the water.  Plus it was nice to sit down after all the walking.  The ferry took about 20 minutes.  On the way back, we sat up at the front so we could see the Seattle skyline over the water.  It started raining part way back but it let up and there was a rainbow!  Honestly, even if you didn't go to Bainbridge Island and just took the ferry there and back it was a fun experience.  And they had a snack bar with all sorts of food and drinks that you can enjoy on the ferry.  It was crazy!  It was so big!  You could even take your car to the island and back on the ferry.  (Photos courtesy of my husband.)

Bainbridge Island
We didn't have any transportation when we got to Bainbridge and I was told that they don't have Uber/Lyft out there so we just did things that were pretty close to the ferry building.  First, we went to the grocery store so I could get some bottled water.  (I know, the excitement is killing you!)  The market was actually really awesome!  They have a saute station where you can buy prepped veggies and stir fry sauces.  They had yummy samples in their deli section.  There was a place where you could fill your own growlers of local beer.  It was amazing!  We went to Mora Ice Cream.  More on that tomorrow and yes I had Mora twice in one day, I was ON VACATION.  We went to the cutest toy store ever Calico Toy Shoppe and spent WAY too much time looking at toys since we were 3 adults.  We ended our time on Bainbridge with some wine tasting at Island Tasting Room where I learned how ridiculously spoiled I am to live in California since our wine tasting is so generous and always comes with a pallet cleanser.  The town was super cute and I'm really glad we went to Bainbridge just because in my everyday life I can't just whisk off to an island.

Gum Wall
Before heading to dinner at The Alibi Room, we checked out the gum wall.  There was a guy there with a pressure washer cleaning it off.  He was talking to another guy and I'm pretty sure he said he just cleaned all the gum off a month earlier.  I only felt a tiny bit guilty sticking new gum to it because job security... obviously.  Also, we stuck our gum in a place he hadn't cleaned yet and would have had to clean anyway, we aren't monsters.

Bill Speidel's Underground Tour
By Sunday, my feet and knees were killing me so of course we took an underground walking tour...  It actually wasn't too much walking.  A couple of my friends recommended this and Kim even suggested it and she's a local.  I think we lucked out, we came on a day with a bit of ran and it was Sunday so it wasn't very crowded.  Our tour guide Dean was awesome!  He was so funny and personable.  He did warn all sorts of torment if you used your phone which is off putting since I'm a blogger and an Instagrammer (is that a thing?) but I did use my phone during the tour to take photos and no one said anything.  We found the tour to be really interesting and enjoyed learning about the history of Seattle.  It was interesting to see the underground but the highlight is definitely the tour guide and the humor, think of it as a walking comedy show.  The tour ended up in a gift shop which was convenient for us because I needed to buy a few things for gifts.  The prices weren't horrible.  We didn't buy the photo they took of us because it was like $30 plus the price of the tour plus the guide mentioning that he worked for tips.  It was definitely worth doing once.

Sky View Observatory at Columbia Center
We had heard from various people to stay away from the Space Needle since it would be crowded and expensive and not worth it.  People said if we wanted a great view that wasn't too expensive to check out the Sky View.  It was nice!  It was about $15 a person and you got to see a great view.  It's the tallest skyscraper in downtown Seattle and second tallest on the west coast.  Part of it was blocked off when we went, I'm not sure if they are doing construction to open it up more or if they are just renovating but I didn't get to go all the way around and see a 360 view.  What I did see was gorgeous!  Your admission is good for a whole day so you could see morning, sunset, and evening if you so pleased.  I wish I had the time to do that because the night pictures I've seen are breathtaking!  But this is what happens when you don't really plan your trip.  Opps, but we still got to see a gorgeous view and sit and relax up there.  Also, they have a small snack bar but the prices are crazy!  It was $3 for a bottle of water but I was thirsty so it was a must!

Seattle Public Library - missed opportunity
After leaving the observatory, I needed some coffee and Seattle is SO weird and there were CLOSED coffee shops at like 3pm.  Dustin found a coffee shop called Chocolati Cafe and we walked there.  We didn't realize it was in the library.  The library is huge and awesome!  I didn't explore it very much.  While we were sitting in the coffee shop, an announcement came on that at 4pm the Seattle Philharmonic would be performing in one of the rooms in a FREE concert.  Sadly, we just got our drinks and weren't ready to leave the coffee shop area.  But the time we got to the door where they were performing, the concert was in full swing and the door was right by where they were playing so we didn't want to disturb them.  I thought it was such an amazing opportunity to hear free music.  If you are going to Seattle, I would suggest checking out the schedule at the library to see if they are doing anything amazing.

I really pushed myself on this trip to go out and do things and see things.  Three days in Seattle was definitely not enough time!  There are so many more things on my list of places I wanted to go but we were just out of time and energy.  I hope that we are able to go back to Seattle soon!  My last Seattle post will be what we ate and it will include a video of our whole experience, check back next week for that one!

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