Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Postcard Party

Before we went on our trip to the Northwest I found a great idea on Pinterest.
Someone had captioned the photo before I found it, and I loved the idea.
I would give the original blog credit, but the idea is no where on the blog, so I will just credit the genius who pinned it first.
I was determined to do this while we were on our trip.
The first day we were in Seattle I bought some postcards, addressed them to our home address, and each night I would write out the things we did that day.
Okay, I wrote 3 of them the last day right before leaving our hotel, but I got them done, so it still counts.
Our hotel was so nice and provided the ability for me to buy postage and mail them.
I'll admit, it was a little weird to send 5 postcards to myself,
which is why I only wrote my last name, just in case the hotel staff looked at the address.
Once we got home, I could not wait for them to arrive!
2 of them arrived one day, the other 3 the next. 
It was so fun to read them and have a summary of each day from our trip!
It also helped me to remember some details when blogging later.
It is an easy, creative, and inexpensive way for anyone to document their vacation.
I plan to do this for every trip we go on in the future!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Back to School Party

We had our first combined Youth Group and Village Kids event this past weekend.
A Back to School Party.
The Village Kids are our elementary school kids at church.
We have had 'family events' before, but not specifically for these two groups.
There were around 60 people at the party.
There was a great devotional by one of the dads in the group.
There were lots of kids swimming, and playing games.
And lots of adults cooking out burgers and talking.
It was a great night!
I may have said this before: I absolutely love the youth kids.
But it is also nice when there are other adults around for me to talk to at the events.
 We only had a little bit of thunder that made the kids get out of the pool
(which was blamed on me and my "let it rain - Seattle" shirt)
Other than that, it was a wonderful night with our Christian family!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Fresh Start

I love the beginning of Summer.
Its exciting, warm, and full of fun activities. 
The only thing I love more than the beginning of Summer, is the end of Summer.
The schedules, the (hopefully) cooler weather, and freshness of a new year.
And the structure. 
Oh, the structure. I love it!
We had a guest speaker at church last week talking about the Fresh Start that the school year brings.
Reminds me of how happy a brand new notebook makes me.
So clean. So fresh.
I love the school year.
(Of course, it helps that I'm not going back to school this year!!)
Yesterday we had our School Year Luncheon with the youth families.
We do this to introduce the school year calendar to the parents,
and to celebrate the wonderful things that the kids did while they were out of school for the summer.
We also use this time to show the summer video,
which was made by yours truly!
You can watch it here.
You can't watch it on a mobile device such as a phone or iPad though.
Just like last year, the parents surprised us with an end of summer gift.
 Michael and I could not have asked for a better group of parents and volunteers to support us in our work with these kids.
We are continually surrounded by love and encouragement.
God really knew what He was doing when he sent us to JV.
We had such a wonderful summer!
But I am excited about the possibilities of the new year.
I am looking forward to fresh start for myself, for Michael, for our ministry, and for our youth kids.
It is going to be a great year!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Eating Away Our Last Day

Our last day in Seattle we had halfway planned to go to Deception Pass,
but when we found out it was over an hour out of Seattle, we nixed that plan and decided to spend another day at the Pike Place Market.
After checking out of our hotel, we took the courtesy shuttle to the market.
Yes, our hotel had a courtesy shuttle.
No, we didn't know about it until halfway through our trip.
And yes, I used it for all it was worth once I found out it existed.
Michael's first stop at the market was the bathroom (surprise)
and mine was the flowers (even bigger surprise)
While I was looking at the flowers, I smelled the most delicious thing.
As I walked towards it, I discovered it was a window full of chicken skewers.
Michael and I shared a spicy chicken one and it was SO GOOD!
Next, we walked down the market to a French Bakery and bought some macaroons.
Also, SO GOOD!
Last stop on the market, the original Starbucks.
 *We were actually told on our coffee tour that this isn't really the first Starbucks.
There were a few other stores in different locations, but Howard Schultz wanted a store in the Pike Place Market.
Unfortunately, the market only allows 'first stores'.
Howard Schultz would not be swayed though, and so he proceeded to close all of his other stores,
and then opened the one in the Pike Place Market.
 The line was long, but it went pretty fast.
And we got a sweet mug for our troubles (and our money)
 After doing a little more shopping, we walked down to the pier for some lunch.
We got the best seat in the restaurant, and the view was incredible!
^^ My fish and chips
That's right, I said my fish and chips.
This is a big deal because I do not eat fish. 
Until that lobster tail the other night, but fish in Seattle is much different than the fish I have been exposed to in the past.
It is fresh. It is tender. It is delicious.
After lunch we did a little more shopping around the market.
We found a great map store, and the cutest little umbrella store.
 And that concludes are vacation to the Pacific Northwest.
We feel so blessed to be able to take a trip like this together.
To have time off work, to see a new piece of the world, to eat different foods, and meet new people.
Yes, we got tired, hungry, cranky, etc.
But most of the time we just had fun with each other.
I'm so thankful to be able to explore the world with my favorite guy,
and am looking forward to many more adventures!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Keep Portland Weird

Thursday started bright and early with a drive in the rain to Portland.
We got up at 6:00am to hit the road, and before we know it, we're getting pulled over.
Michael decided to continue his pattern of getting a ticket each time he drives a rental - oops!
Once we were back on the road, we were just a quick nap away from Oregon! 
Well, I took a nap. 
Michael had to drive for 3 hours.
We planned on taking the little trip over to Multnomah Falls.
Unfortunately, Siri didn't understand that we would want to take the easiest route,
so she took us down all the winding roads through the mountains.
I thought it was pretty great,
Michael was a little stressed out. 
We were both happy to make it there, and it was worth the drive!
After the morning at Multnomah, we took the freeway over to Portland.
Our first stop: Food Trucks!
I chose the Grilled Cheese one.
^^ Not the best grilled cheese I've had, I'll be honest.
After lunch, we spent some time walking around downtown Portland.
We went to the famous Powell's Bookstore.
The bookstore that is so gigantic they need a color-coded map just to keep things organized.
Next stop: Voodoo Doughnuts!!!
I am have been looking forward to these doughnuts for so long.
I can't even remember the first time I saw the little Voodoo man on the food channel,
but ever since then, I have been craving one!
We did have to wait in a little bit of a line, but only for about 20 minutes.
Completely worth it!
*Heart-Check for the day:
While we were standing in line here waiting for doughnuts, there was another long line about a block down the street. 
This line wasn't for doughnuts though.
This line was at the door of a soup kitchen, where several homeless people were waiting to get a meal.
It made my heart so much.
There were so many flavors to choose from!
Obviously we were going to get the Voodoo Man and the Maple Bacon Bar.
Michael wanted Bavarian Cream, and from there it was a toss up.
The best ones according to me:
Bacon Maple Bar
Rice Krispies with Peanut Butter and Chocolate (The No Name)
Voodoo Doll
Original Glaze
But all the others were excellent too!
Once we had our fill of donuts and coffee, we decided to walk around and see some City Wall Art.
^^ How mad was I that I bus was parked in front of this wall?
Also, this motto is working! And working well!
^^ Wall art describing my life
Our last stop in Portland was the Japanese Garden.
The garden was incredibly beautiful.
There were so many different shades of green, and it was arranged perfectly.
It wasn't all I expected though.
I expected it to be more of a park, and less of a museum.
I expected to be able to sit on a bench and read under a tree.
Specifically, I expected to sit under the famous Japanese Maple in the garden to read my book.
I spent all afternoon search the garden for the maple.
This is what it looks like in most pictures of it.
Doesn't it look so nice and big from this angle?
A perfect tree to sit under and read?
Well, not so much from this angle.
Its pretty tiny.
I honestly don't even think I could fit under the tree to read.
It was very anti-climatic.
And disappointing to say the least.
We decided to go from there over to the rose test garden across the street.
There were rows and rows of beautiful roses.
Single, double, and triple color roses.
Once we had seen all there was to see, we started to look for something to eat.
We ended up deciding to start the drive back to Seattle to find something to eat,
and we stopped at a place in Vancouver.
We ate pizza, it was delicious, and we sang 90s music all the way home.
It was great!
We were exhausted, and so happy to sleep in the next day!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Seattle By Foot

Our third day in Seattle was all about the tours.
We decided to stop for breakfast at the doughnut shop just a block from our hotel.
We sat outside to eat and found out that this is a place President Obama ate at when he visited Seattle during his first term. 
I don't really care much about Obama, but we still thought it was pretty cool.
The first item on our itinerary was the Seattle by Foot Coffee Crawl.
I had come across this tour online, and Michael and I instantly agreed to do it.
Seattle is basically the American birthplace of coffee, so we knew the tour would be good.
 ^^ Outfit picture waiting for the tour to start
Our tour guide began the tour by asking each of us what kind of coffee drinkers we are, 
just to get an idea of her audience.
Then we were off to the first stop on the tour, Caffe Ladro.
He we tried a different kind of coffee than I have ever had.
It was a more juicy, tea-like blend of coffee.
Michael didn't really like it, but I thought it was okay.
Definitely not the best on the tour though.
The next stop was probably the best stop on the tour.
Caffe Darte.
*The funniest thing happened on the way to this stop. 
Our tour guide stopped to tell us a story about the Hard Rock Cafe, and a homeless man walked up.
I might add that he walked up right beside Michael.
The odor coming from him was enough to knock me over.
He started talking about who knows what, and tried to get Michael to "give him some skin"
Next thing I know he is calling Michael "Brad Pitt" and giving him some pats on the cheek.
He then turned to me and said something about Alicia Keys and Beyonce.
I was too busy stifling my laughter to respond. 
We finally started walking again, and I was cracking up.
Our tour guide turned to Michael, who was still in a state of shock, and asked "You okay?"
He said he was fine, but then he looked at me and said, "He touched me"
It was completely hilarious.
I laughed for at least 3 blocks.
So, so funny!
 Back to Caffe Darte.
There coffee blends were the best that I tasted all day.
We even got a latte art demonstration!
It was so neat.
Our tour guide told us that this would be the best latte of our life,
and she was right!
It was so delicious!
Moving on with the tour, our next stop was for some biscuits at Caffe Lieto.
 We only got a small sample, but the biscuits were good!
The next stop of the tour was Trabant Coffee and Chai.
Here we got to watch an interesting method of brewing, can't remember the name, but at the end it produced this coffee cake that was completely dry grounds.
The coffee was pretty good, but the second drink was amazing.
It was called the BruPaul, and was a combination of coffee and lemonade.
I have never used the word refreshing to describe a coffee drink, but this was refreshing.
The last stop of the tour was Intrigue Coffee Co, for some chocolate and coffee pairings.
This guy is what I would call a chocolate engineer.
He makes these delicious truffles, that have the most interesting flavors and seasonings.
My favorite was the Basil.
So, so good!
We also had his cold brew coffee, which has quickly become my favorite!
This was an excellent tour that we would reccommend to anyone who travels to Seattle.
Be warned though, you will walk alot, and you will feel a little jittery!

We ate a quick lunch and then we were off to our next tour:
Century Link Stadium
This guy was so excited.
He has been looking forward to this for at least a month now.
And, we have decided to make this Michael's thing, and we will tour as many NFL stadiums as we can in our lives as we travel together.
 It was a pretty good tour, and it was neat to hear about the Seattle 12th Man.
The stadium is really beautiful too, especially with the view!
Unfortunately, someone bought the land behind the stadium and is currently building a skyscraper,
which will cover that famous Seattle skyline.
Michael was excited that we got to walk on the field,
and that we got to have our own little press conference,
but he was most excited when a random guy told us we could go in the home locker room.
Apparently, this is something that never happens on the tour, and we were told that we were very lucky they let us in.
*Michael was pretty disappointed when he found out that our tour guide (who has worked there many years) has never met a player.
Michael was just sure he was going to meet a player.
The tour was still great, even without the players.

By this point in the day, I was completely worn out and tired of walking.
Seattle has a pretty good public transportation system, but it is hard to get to and out of the way.
We stopped by to pick up our rental car on the way back to our hotel, a
and then I got some much needed nap time.
Our reservation was not until 8:45 so we had plenty of time to rest and get ready for dinner at the Space Needle.
We decided to take a taxi to dinner, because it was kind of raining, and I was wearing heels.
^^ This was the only rain we saw in Seattle
We had a few minutes on the observation deck, and then it was time for dinner.
We had such a wonderful experience at the Sky City restaurant.
First, weeks ago, I signed up for the Celebration Club.
It is completely free, and as soon as I signed up they emailed me a coupon for free dessert.
A week before our visit, they emailed me a coupon for a free entree to celebrate our anniversary.
This coupon was good all month, so we decided to use it.
We would have eaten here regardless, but having the coupon made it a much easier decision.
Besides the price - the food, the service, and the view were amazing!
^^ Michael had tuna. I had sirloin and lobster tail.
It was so good!!
We even got the smoking dessert - the Lunar Orbiter.
The restaurant also had a complementary photographer that came to our table.
After dinner we went down to the gift shop, gave them our photo numbers and our email, 
and they sent them to us for free!
It was the perfect place to celebrate our 5th Anniversary!

It was a long day, but so much fun to see so much of Seattle.
We completely fell in love with the city and all it has to offer!
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