Monthly Archives: July 2013

Our Girl is ONE!!!

I’m excited to tell you all that our girl turned ONE last week!  In many ways this first year as being parents has flown by, as most people would say.  But at the same it also seemed like this year was so jam packed with learning and experiencing so much, and lot of it just on our own, it seems like this year was long too.  And I don’t mean that in a bad way, I promise :)

Last year we moved to San Francisco in May and had Nola in July.  So to say it was a whirlwind is an understatement.  Honestly thinking about it makes me tired and I’m already a deprived mama from sleep the way it is!  Though It was our decision to move here and we don’t regret the opportunities or experiences, being far from a large support system with a child is REALLY hard.  So I also look at this year as a celebration and want to high five my guy because we did it!

To tell you how we feel for this child of ours is hard to put down in words.  Our universe shifted to a better place once she was put into our lives.  And can I tell you how fond I am of this little person, seriously, after she’s been sleeping for a couple of hours I start missing her and I can’t tell you how often we find ourselves looking at photos of her over and over again.  So yeah, we are a big fan.  I have to say I am beyond blessed and lucky to be this sweet girls mama.

Here’s month by month photos of Nola:

day1    1mo

2mo    3mo

4mo    5mo

6mo    7mo

8mo   9mo

10mo    11mo_b

DSC_0324 copy

Port Townsend- Our Trip Back in Time

Back in May, we threw Miles in the car and took our first road trip of the year over to Port Townsend, a quaint Victorian town 40 miles northwest of the city. The beauty of living in the Seattle area is that we can hop in a car and drive an hour in any direction and end up somewhere completely different- mountains, water, desert, rainforest, you’ll find it! Reminds me of California…

On the ferry- goodbye Seattle!

On the ferry- goodbye Seattle!

To get to Port Townsend, we took the ferry to Bainbridge Island and drove an hour and a half to this charming, sleepy town. It was a major seaport in its heydey (once predicted to be the largest port on the West Coast) and is now known for its Victorian era architecture and its maritime community.

Nick and Miles; clam cannery; the oldest Episcopalian church in WA; Ann Starrett Mansion; Palace Hotel

Nick and Miles; entrance to a clam cannery; Victorian-style buildings- the oldest Episcopalian church in WA; Ann Starrett Mansion; Palace Hotel

A fun highlight of this trip? Definitely our accommodations at the Palace Hotel- a restored building that used to be a ship captain’s house in the 1800s, and a former brothel in the early 1900s. There are 15 rooms, each named after one of “the girls”, and is furnished with antiques from the area. Here’s the kicker- IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE HAUNTED! We stayed in Room #12, Miss Lou. But don’t worry, we were left at peace. Maybe because Miles was with us. Thank goodness (but darn).

This lovely lady in blue, the former madame is supposed to haunt the place

This lovely lady in blue, the former madame is supposed to haunt the place

Port Townsend is the perfect weekend getaway. The town has enough attractions to keep you busy over a couple days, but can be explored at a leisurely enough pace to be relaxing. Saturday morning, we stopped for coffee at a local spot in front of our hotel, and ran into a seal molting on the beach at the front door. The Seal Sitters had just arrived and taped off the area so curious viewers would not disturb the seal. Such is life in the Pacific Northwest.

This little guy was pretty content exactly where he was

This little guy was pretty content exactly where he was

 

View from our hotel room; the Rose Theater (est. 1907); from the dock

View from our hotel room; the Rose Theater (est. 1907); from the dock

We explored the downtown area of cute boutiques, antique shops, and cafes, stopping at a farmer’s market uptown, and walking the neighborhoods, admiring the beautiful and historic Victorian houses. I loved imagining what life was like a hundred years ago and in this town where time seemingly stops, you could easily visualize it. After our walk, we grabbed lunch along the water and then walked Miles down to the beach and watched people harvest seaweed. Fort Worden State Park was a short drive away, where there was a neat little lighthouse. My favorite moment of the trip, however, was stumbling across historic Chetzemoka Park, a hidden jewel of a place with an expansive grassy area where people could picnic, beautifully tended gardens, and a gazebo overlooking the water. Visitors can also meander down to the beach below. I love it when we find these unexpected sights, it makes these trips more special.

 

Strolling downtown; farmer's market baked goods; Fort Worden State Park; swinging in Chetzemoka Park

Strolling downtown; farmer’s market baked goods; climbing the rocks in Fort Worden State Park; swinging in Chetzemoka Park

 

Vintage cigarette cards; Chetzemoka Park; Miles making a friend outside of the antique store; original plaque from one of the buildings downtown

Vintage cigarette cards from the antique store; Chetzemoka Park; Miles stares suspiciously at a friend; original plaque from one of the buildings downtown

Fort Worden State Park; view of downtown Port Townsend from the dock

Fort Worden State Park; view of downtown Port Townsend from the dock

Well, I have two favorite moments from the trip. The first mentioned above, and the second being the drive-in theater! We had the most delicious dinner at the Silverwater Cafe (I’m consistently impressed by the food in these little out-of-the-way towns and local islands), and we were looking for something to do- with Miles, since we weren’t allowed to leave him in the hotel. While reading through the local paper, I found out that there was a drive-in theater nearby. Nick said he had never been to one, so off we went to the most lively spot that evening. When we arrived and parked, we watched with interest as the locals came in their big trucks and vans, with their kids dressed in their pajamas. They brought snacks, drinks, and piled their sofas and backseats onto the open grass for more comfortable viewing. These were drive-in PROS. The theater was in an enclosed, forested area, not like the city drive-ins I remember as a kid. It was a truly a local experience, and we really enjoyed ourselves, watching the movie from the comfort of our car, with snacks and Miles sleeping in the backseat. So what if it was a bad Tom Cruise movie? And why aren’t there more drive-ins around these days?? I can get used to this.

the local drive-in where we caught a movie; local art on the beach

the local drive-in where we caught a movie; local art on the beach

Before we left town the next day, we stopped by the Jefferson County Historical Society and over the next few hours, became familiarized with the town history and even the county jail where Jack London, author of The Call of the Wild (my favorite book as a kid), once spent a night for public drunkenness and disturbing the peace when he was in his early 20s. Again, love these little discoveries as we travel!

 

Lovely Reads

I don’t know if we ever mentioned this but Krystal and I were part of a Book Club back when we lived in Chicago.  We often didn’t talk about the book much longer then 10 minutes, but what made these nights were the wonderful ladies and the delicious food.  So yeah, these were some of the best nights!  I miss them!!!  Now having Nola I don’t have as much time to read, but still try to make a point of having a book around in case I ever have a chance to read some.

If you are interested I wanted to share two books with you.  The first book is called The Language of Flowers and is a great summer read and based in San Francisco!  Here’s a brief summary of the book:

The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating mistrust and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings. Now eighteen and emancipated from the system with nowhere to go, Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But an unexpected encounter with a mysterious stranger has her questioning what’s been missing in her life. And when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.

Cover.-Language-of-Flowers-pbk

The second book I want to suggest is a children’s book of course, wink, wink.  We read a lot of books to Nola throughout the day, and there are so many great ones out there and not so great one’s too.  The book, You Are My I Love You, is so sweet and expresses the love you have for your child in such a great way.  My favorite part of the book is, “I am your finish line; you are my race.  I am your praying hands; you are my saying grace.”

  you are my i love you

Hope you like these books as much I as I do!  If you have read a great book recently I’m always looking for my next book to read so please let me know!

Family Trip to Sequoia National Park (Part 1)

Sequoia National Park is not as popular as Yosemite, but the reason why it was on our list was we wanted to see some trees!  CJ was working on a project with National Geographic that featured the second largest tree by volume in the world, The President.  After reading and seeing all the awesome photos in regards to this tree, we had to see this baby in person.  Here’s a link to the project CJ was working on if interested.

We decided to leave at 4:00 in the morning and get to the park late morning with the hopes Nola would sleep most of the way.  She almost made it and traffic was a breeze!

DSC_0002 ^^^we did a little wondering here before driving into the park^^^

Our next stop was climbing up Moro Rock, a granite dome that has a 1/3 mile staircase that ascends more than 300 feet to the summit.  I should start out by telling you all I’m the biggest scaredy-pants!  CJ had Nola in the Ergo since it’s more of a compact carrier, but I couldn’t help but worry he was going to slip.  What was worse was seeing parents taking their toddlers…there were plenty of places where they could easily fall!  I hardly could take just take in the sights because the entire time I was worried about CJ falling, having other kids around me falling, me falling, I don’t know if it was for me, honestly.  I already know I’m going to be the mom who is extra cautious and taking all those extra measures and of course my kid will be the one getting hurt anyways.

Moro_Rock-View_from_Potwisha ^^^Moro Rock^^^

DSC_0021 ^^^lets start climbing some stairs!^^^

DSC_0035 ^^^see people it’s a scary drop-off^^^

DSC_0039  ^^^we made it to the top!  we did it!  we did it!^^^

DSC_0062 ^^^picnic with my little strawberry girl, love her so!^^^

After our picnic we were ready to see some trees.  You know the children’s book, We Are Going On a Bear Hunt?  Well we just changed the words and said, “we are going on a tree hunt, going to find a big one, it’s a beautiful day, we’re not scared!”  Can you tell I really love that book?!  We have been looking forward to this for awhile and it was pretty neat to see!  We got to see a ton of neat trees but the one’s to note were the Sherman Tree, which is the largest tree in the world and then, as I mentioned earlier The President.

DSC_0210  ^^^CJ and Nola posing by The President^^^

DSC_0232 ^^^Our little walker^^^

DSC_0178 ^^^this day was exhausting, but we got to see a lot of neat things and had fun as a family^^^

Recipe: Thai Turkey Lettuce Wraps

Nick was on an easier rotation a few weeks ago at the VA (meaning he usually was home in time for dinner) so he decided that this was a good time as any to restart his exercise routine and eat better. Thus, the word “paleo” was introduced into our lives.

Now, I don’t believe in diets. If you tell me to not eat something, I’m going to be good for half a day and then find a way to eat it anyway. Everything in moderation and staying active are the basic tenets of living a healthy and fruitful life. However, Nick being interested in the paleo lifestyle meant that I had to be paleo as well since let’s face it, I’m lazy and I was not going to prepare two different dinners.

In a nutshell (and taken straight from the official website), the Paleo Diet “is based upon eating wholesome, contemporary foods from the food groups our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have thrived on during the Paleolithic era, the time period from about 2.6 million years ago to the beginning of the agricultural revolution, about 10,000 years ago. These foods include fresh meats (preferably grass-produced or free-ranging beef, pork, lamb, poultry, and game meat, if you can get it), fish, seafood, fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and healthful oils (olive, coconut, avocado, macadamia, walnut and flaxseed). Dairy products, cereal grains, legumes, refined sugars and processed foods were not part of our ancestral menu.”

More protein, fruits and vegetables and less processed foods and refined sugars? I can get onboard with that. But don’t take away my cheese or my right to black beans.

So we both agreed- we’re not going to be strict Paleo, but this will at least motivate us to eat more cleanly and make better choices.

We’re both on our own for breakfast and lunch but since we eat most dinners together, I am trying out more Paleo-friendly recipes. I made Thai Turkey Lettuce Wraps a few days ago and they were pretty great for a warm summer night!

*Get this, since he’s started this new lifestyle a few weeks ago, he’s already lost FIVE pounds! MEN!!

As you can see, I was a lot more interested in eating this than styling it for a photo! But you get the gist...

As you can see, I was far more interested in eating this than styling it for a photo! But you get the gist…

THAI TURKEY LETTUCE WRAPS

Ingredients

1 ¼  lb ground turkey
¼ cup chopped green onions (4 medium)
2 shallots, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2  teaspoons garlic and red chile paste
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup shredded carrots
1/3  cup chopped salted peanuts
12 medium Bibb lettuce leaves, rinsed, patted dry with paper towel

Directions:

  1. In a nonstick skillet, cook turkey over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until thoroughly cooked; drain and return to skillet.
  2. Stir in green onions, cilantro, mint, lime juice, fish sauce, chile paste, sugar and red pepper flakes. Cook 3 to 4 minutes longer or until hot.
  3.  To serve, spoon 2 heaping tablespoons turkey mixture, 2 tablespoons carrots and 1 teaspoon peanuts onto each lettuce leaf; wrap around filling. Can be served warm, or at room temperature. (Full disclosure: I’ve also had it for the next day’s lunch right outside of the refrigerator and it was still delish.)

Cook’s Note:

  1. I like the tubes of minced lemongrass and ginger you can find in the refrigerated herb section at the grocery store. I added about a teaspoon of the lemongrass and ginger to add a little more flavor to the mixture.
  2. Since I’m so Vietnamese, I also made a little nuoc mam cham (I LOVE THIS STUFF it reminds me of home) on the side to spoon over the lettuce wraps. It’s so divine. I usually eyeball the mix, but found a good basic recipe to follow below.

 

Basic Vietnamese Fish Dipping Sauce (Nuoc cham)

Ingredients:

1-2 crushed Garlic cloves (or finely minced), but crushed garlic really brings out oils, thus the flavor
1 crushed or minced Thai Chili (customize your spice level)
1/2 squeezed Lime (or about 1 heaping Tablespoon)
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1 teaspoon Rice Vinegar (optional)
1/2 cup Fish Sauce
1/2 cup Water

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together well. Yields 1 cup. A little goes a long way. I can eat this drizzled over rice with some sliced daikon and carrots anytime, anyday.