Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Work & Play in the Pacific Northwest

I hope you all enjoyed a fun and delicious Thanksgiving weekend! After getting back from Seattle earlier in the week, Stephen and I were more than happy to spend a low-key holiday here in DC, where we had dinner with my sister-in-law and her boyfriend, decorated for Christmas, and otherwise just tried to get caught up on things after a week away.

One thing I happily got around to was organizing the photos from our trip, which was all-around fantastic. In addition to coordinating our friends’ wedding, which I’ll recap Thursday, we were also able to spend a couple extra days exploring the area and visiting our friend Ted, who’s completing his residency at one of the city’s hospitals.

Along with checking out the Space Needle and famous Pike Place Market, we had fun relaxing at Ted’s condo, which is located just outside the city and right on Puget Sound, offering truly incredible views of the surrounding mountains and landscape.

Though the weather was quite cold, with temperatures mostly in the upper 30s and low 40s, we felt lucky that it only rained the day we arrived and the day we left. Still, since the cold kept us from doing all of the outdoor activities we might have liked, we’re hoping to head back sometime during the summer to go hiking and whale watching. 

Here, a few highlight photos Stephen snapped throughout the trip. Next time, we definitely need to remember to get him in front of the camera more often! 

Posing with Ted at his condo on Puget Sound. 

The view from Ted's balcony. 

Beautiful snow-capped mountains beneath a layer of clouds. 

Gazing up at the iconic Space Needle. 

 Looking out from the Needle's upper deck. 

Outside the original Starbucks at Pike Place Market. 

Shopping at Pike Place with our friends, including bride and groom Julie & Nash.

Joining the wedding party as they selected floral arrangements at Pike Place, where small bouquets can be purchased for as little as $5 and large ones for as little as $15. Isn't that amazing? Later on, bridesmaid Jessica did a fabulous job reworking and enhancing the already gorgeous arrangements to create just the perfect look for Julie & Nash's wedding day.

Collaborating with the officiants and wedding party during Julie & Nash's rehearsal.

Groomsman Leigh holding Julie & Nash's lovable pup Apollo, who just couldn't resist getting in on the wedding day preparations himself. But would the dog get the hint and stay out of our way?

No! Despite Leigh's best efforts, Apollo darted downstairs and, as captured here by photographer Jon Fisch, made a beeline straight for Julie's train as I tried desperately, and thank goodness successfully, to restrain him. All in a day's work for a wedding coordinator, I guess!
Stay tuned Thursday for more recaps, and tell me, have you ever combined work and play in the same trip? 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, friends! After a whirlwind week of coast-to-coast travel, I’m happy to be back in DC enjoying a relaxing holiday with family and friends.

Our trip to Seattle was lots of fun, and we had a great experience coordinating our friends’ wedding, which truly brought together one of the most unique and creative visions I’ve ever seen. Recaps are coming your way next week, but for now, I’m allowing myself just a couple days of R&R before I plunge back into the world of grad school finals and the busy excitement of the holiday season.

Image Source: Charlie Brown 
In so many ways, this has been a year of transitions for me, and many ups and downs along the way, but today and every day, I’m thankful for all of the positive things in my life, including my husband, family, friends, health, ability to pursue my goals, and much more.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone, and a happy start to the holidays for you and your families!  

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

BBC Top 100 Books List

While I’m away in Seattle planning and prepping, I thought it would be fun to follow in the footsteps of my blog friend Hannah of GatorTales by linking up with the BBC Top 100 Books List. So far, it looks like I’ve only read 21 books out of the 100 listed – including my all-time fave Little Women – and admittedly, many of them back in high school and college.

I have, however, read tons of books that of course aren’t on this list, including biographies and non-fiction works, which are definitely among my favorites. As someone obsessed with theater, I’ve also seen stage and musical adaptations of several, including Les Miserables, DraculaOliver Twist and A Christmas Carol.

Which of these books are your favorites, and which genres do you most like to dive into?  

Image Source: amotherworld.com
1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2. The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4. Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
5. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6. The Bible
7. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8. Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9. His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare
15. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18. Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19. The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20. Middlemarch – George Eliot
21. Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23. Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29. Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34. Emma – Jane Austen
35. Persuasion – Jane Austen
36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40. Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41. Animal Farm – George Orwell
42. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46. Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47. Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49. Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50. Atonement – Ian McEwan
51. Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52. Dune – Frank Herbert
53. Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55. A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56. The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57. A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60. Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63. The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64. The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65. Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66. On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67. Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68. Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70. Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72. Dracula – Bram Stoker
73. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74. Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75. Ulysses – James Joyce
76. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77. Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78. Germinal – Emile Zola
79. Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80. Possession – AS Byatt
81. A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchel
83. The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84. The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85. Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86. A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87. Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90. The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92. The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93. The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94. Watership Down – Richard Adams
95. A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96. A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97. The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98. Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

Monday, November 14, 2011

Seattle or Bust!

After months of anticipation, Stephen and I are headed this week to the Emerald City, where we’ll coordinate a vintage Mardi Gras wedding for two amazing clients and friends on Saturday.

Though much of our time will be spent preparing for and of course working at the wedding, we’re also excited to sneak in a little free time to explore the sites, visit our close friend who’s completing his residency at a local hospital and take in the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

Along with coordinating my last wedding of the season, this week I'm also happily welcoming the home stretch of the grad school semester, the completion of a magazine freelance project I've been working on, and the fact that next week I'll get to enjoy a relaxing Thanksgiving and celebrate the start of the holidays. 

Image Source: tripadvisor.com
Have you ever been to Seattle, and if so, which sites do you consider must-sees? Are there any restaurants you especially love that we should check out? 

Have a wonderful week, everyone! I'll be back soon with lots of fun recaps and stories to share.  

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Kitty & Canine Blogger Gift Exchange 2011

I love the holiday season, and this year will be especially exciting, since it's the first Christmas shared with our adorable kitties Molly and Twix. Along with buying them a few new toys and treats, I’m looking forward to spreading some extra cheer by linking up with the Kitty & Canine Blogger Gift Exchange, hosted by Hannah of Gator Tales and Kelly of KJPugs.

Want to join us? Sign up today for fun times all around, and be sure to help spread the word on your blog, as well as via Facebook and Twitter! 

Do you buy holiday gifts for your pets? 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Fall Food Love: Savory Soups

Along with the classic essentials – changing leaves, comfy boots and cozy sweaters – one of my favorite things about fall’s increasingly chilly days is the chance to enjoy more savory foods. Hearty and often healthy, flavorful soups – from black bean to pumpkin to roasted red pepper and more – definitely top my list of seasonal favorites, whether they're homemade, store-bought or served in a restaurant. Here, a few recent picks I especially love.


To kick off the weekend, Stephen and I headed out Friday evening to Columbia Firehouse in Old Town Alexandria, which is known for its rustic chophouse feel, charming bay windows and incredible glass ceiling. To my delight, their fall menu also featured an amazingly thick and creamy pumpkin soup topped with walnuts, cranberries and sweet butter. It was absolutely delicious and definitely the perfect fall appetizer. 

If you like pumpkin soup, be sure to check out High Heels City Streets, where blogger Kim recently posted a vegan recipe that sounds incredibly healthy and tasty. In fact, it was that very post that got me craving pumpkin soup in the first place!

Spicy Black Bean

On Sunday night, we kept things low-key at home with a batch of spicy black bean soup served in sourdough bread bowls from Panera. The recipe we found at Epicurious.com calls for generous amounts of cumin and jalapeno, giving the mixture an especially hot and flavor-filled kick. 

Lemongrass Chili & Bangkok Curry

Only $1.25 each, these Thai-styled soups are healthier and much tastier than the similar-looking Cup of Noodles standbys that so often sustained me throughout my college years. Each Thai Kitchen kit contains rice noodles and seasoning, which can be heated and eaten as is or combined with your favorite meats and veggies for a heartier mix. And since these soups cook up in the microwave in less than three minutes, they make the perfect lunch fix on a busy day. 

Roasted Red Pepper, Butternut Squash, Cashew Ginger Carrot & Thai Sweet Potato

A soup-lover's delight, Pacific Natural Foods offers tons of tasty choices, all extremely flavorful and easy to microwave or heat on the stove in hardly any time at all. The Thai Sweet Potato blend is new, and we’re looking forward to trying it out at dinner one night this week.

Do you have any favorite soup recipes, and which foods do you most look forward to eating during the fall season? 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Marriage: One Big Publicity Stunt?

On August 20, I had the honor of coordinating a wedding for my friend and former co-worker Kim, who married her high school sweetheart of 12 years in a beautiful and heartfelt ceremony.

You may recall that the very same day, another woman named Kim was also busy tying the knot – this one much more famous but apparently not nearly as sincere in her love for and commitment to her partner. As you can imagine, I’m dumbfounded along with everyone else to hear that Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries have called it quits after just 72 days of marriage. But am I honestly all that surprised? Sadly, no, and here’s why. 

First of all, even from the very beginning, it seemed obvious to me that the wedding and marriage were nothing more than publicity stunts designed to generate media interest and rake in piles of cash. But even if they weren't, the alternative really isn’t much better in my eyes. After all, marrying someone you met less than a year earlier and then divorcing because marriage “wasn’t what you thought it would be,” flies in the face of everything this type of commitment stands for – a lifelong partnership that will at times require a great deal of hard work, sacrifice and support.  

Image Source: People

Of course, Kim’s not the first to cash in on wedding-related publicity or to divorce so quickly, and it makes me sad and angry to know that there are so many people, celebrity or not, who obviously consider their wedding vows to be nothing more than empty words. Whatever happened to the sacredness of pledges to love one another “in good times and in bad, all the days of our lives”? Are these merely symbolic statements? Do couples still consider the true meaning behind what they are about to say and do before standing up in front of family members, friends, TV audiences and the world to make such intimate promises?

In the end, while I certainly do believe that there are legitimate reasons for divorce, including such horrible acts as infidelity and abuse, I also believe that we as a society have too often come to view weddings as nothing more than heavily staged parties. Furthermore, with so many divorces and splits, it saddens me to think that there are many loving and committed gay and lesbian couples who would faithfully honor their vows and take them seriously, but who aren’t given the chance, because somehow, couples like Kim and Kris have more of a right to marriage in our society.

What do you think? Do people like Kim and Kris make a mockery of marriage, and what does this say about our cultural attitudes?