Admittedly, this is not the best picture, but how fun are policemen on horseback???

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I snapped this from the car as we headed to lunch near Pike’s Place.  One of the policemen was a little grouchy about having his photo taken.  Sorry, dude!  You’re a novelty!

For lunch, Ali took me to a Seattle institution: Ivar’s Original Acres of Clams!

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Located at Pier 54 of Puget Sound, Ivar’s offers both a “fast food” walk up bar and a sit down restaurant.  How cool is that?!?

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While the outdoor seafood bar offers more casual, take out style fare, the indoor dining room has fresh fresh fresh seafood, much of it from the purveyors at Pike’s Place!

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The feeling inside is fancy—white tablecloths and dark wood décor—but it’s anything but pretentious!  Overlooking Puget Sound, ferries came in and out of the docks as we enjoyed our lunch. 

The dining room is also located right beside the Fire Station where they have, what else, Fire Boats!!!

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Clearly, I am a 5 year old, because I found this extremely exciting!  Look how fun they are!  All firey and boaty and stuff! 

Since Ivar’s is famous for their Puget Sound Clam Chowder, I had to try it!  And I had to call it, “Chow-dah!” because even though I was on the West Coast, it’s funner to say it New England style.  Yep, the English teacher just said “funner.”  Deal.Seattle 4 056

Thick and creamy, with big pieces of clam—just like clam chowder is supposed to taste!  I didn’t intend to eat the whole thing, but one thing led to another and . . . I devoured it.  No shame, folks.  No shame.  Just rich, clammy goodness.  Plus, they serve it with the best oyster crackers in existence—Westminster Crackers!  Ahhh!  They had these at the restaurant I worked at in college and I regularly put away at least 3 packs a shift.  Sooooooo good!!!

Of less interest, we had an arugula and beet salad with goat cheese and walnuts on the side.  In the salad’s defense, it was pretty hard to compete with that chow-dah!

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And just because we couldn’t help ourselves, we split an order of crabcakes . . .

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Holy crap they were delicious!!!  We literally did not speak while we were eating.  These had the perfect blend of crunchy crust with moist, shredded crab packed inside.  Served up with a mustardy remoulade and fresh tomato salsa on top, this was hands down the best crab cake I have ever eaten.  Ivar’s was batting 1000, that’s for sure!  Open-mouthed smile

I’m a little sad that I didn’t try their halibut, especially since it’s a specialty and one of my favorite fish, but I just didn’t have room!  I’m not mad at anything that I did try, though, and I can’t wait for Ali’s wedding next spring so I can go back there!

Piroshky Piroshky!

Can we talk about some food?  Would that be OK?  Because I cannot stop thinking about one of the most fantastic eating experiences I’ve ever had on the day I visited Pike’s Place in Seattle.

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Obviously, Pike’s Place is a farmer’s market so there are tons of fresh goodies to take home and make fabulous things out of, but it makes you hungry while you’re there, ya know???

After getting my latte from The First Starbucks, we ventured down the way to Piroshky Piroshky Bakery for what else?  Piroshky! Open-mouthed smile

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I had never even heard of Piroshky, which incidentally means “feast” in Russian.  It’s also really fun to say, but apparently really difficult to spell because I’m screwing up every time I try to type the name!

Honestly, I have no idea how I lived 30+ years without this.  I’m not sure now how I’ll go on living without warm Piroshky in my hands each day . . . it’s going to be trying.

Basically, Piroshky is a stuffed pie with different fillings.  They can be sweet or savory, and they have no calories.

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OK, not really.  Just had to make sure you were paying attention!

But would you check out the flavor selection???  Fresh rhubarb, chocolate cream hazelnut, and coffee on the sweet side and potato, onion, and cheese or potato, mushroom, and onion on the savory?  Hello!  These were just a few of the many offerings up for grabs.

You get to watch them making the Piroshky, too, which is one of the best parts if you ask me!

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Check it: a giant sheet of buttery dough dusted with cinnamon and wrapped around fresh apples!  Be still my heart.

After much deliberation, we selected a Potato, Onion, and Cheese Piroshky and a Coffee Cinnamon Roll to share.  The girl behind the counter was so friendly and sweet!  She even gave us a gigantic cinnamon roll that barely fit into the bag! Open-mouthed smile

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Can I just start by telling you that we had powdered sugar everywhere while we were eating this?  It was a cinnamon roll frenzy!  With a slightly crispy crust and a soft, cinnamony inside, this was absolutely scrumptious, and I don’t use words like scrumptious very often!

But the real star, my friends, was the Potato, Onion, and Cheese!

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It may have a slight advantage because it was still warm, but I’m sticking to my guns on this one.  Is there anything better on this Earth than baked goods fresh from the oven?  I think not.

But fill them with cheese and potato?


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Take the BEST bagel you’ve ever had, stuff it with gooey cheese and creamy potato, and then die and go to heaven.  Seriously.  I want one right now.

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Consumed on a bench overlooking the Port of Seattle.  Something about eating food in a park while looking out at the water just makes it taste better.  I can’t pinpoint exactly why, but it just does.

Side note: About 20 minutes after we finished our Piroshky, I had to brush a little powdered sugar off of Alison’s cheek.  I see this as something perfectly acceptable and in fact, desirable in an eating partner.  Way to keep it real, Al! Open-mouthed smile

The First Starbucks

It’s a gorgeous, sunny morning here in Central Virginia, but my mind is still in Seattle . . . Seattle 4 001

Here’s my token souvenir Starbucks mug—but this one is extra special.  It’s from the very first Starbucks at Pike’s Place! 

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While it looks pretty much like any other Starbys inside (including the long line! Smile), it’s the only store in the country where they still handcraft each drink. 

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Rather than using an automated machine, the barista packs the espresso into the machine for each shot.  It takes a little longer, but it’s worth it!  My Tall Soy Latte was rich and creamy.  Mmmmm . . .

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Picture complete with token guitar player right outside! Winking smile

They also have their very own Pike’s Place Special Reserve.  It’s different from their Pike’s Place Roast, and you can only get it here!Seattle 4 031

Also of note, this Starbucks doesn’t sell food—just coffee for this crew!  But I have a feeling that hand-operated espresso machine keeps them pretty busy!

I love historic places, so this was right up my alley.  Even though it’s a short history in the grand scheme of things, it’s crazy to think that Starbucks has been selling coffee from this location for 40 years!  They actually didn’t sell brewed coffee at first—just beans roasted in small batches and spices.  Pretty cool to think of how it’s grown from what it used to be!

I’ll be back with more later, but just wanted to give you a little coffee action on this Friday morning! 

What’s your favorite thing at Starbucks?

Travel Tips

Good evening, friends! 

Sadly, my time in Seattle has come to an end.  *Sigh.*  Making the trek back to the East Coast went considerably smoother than the trip out there; it was great to have a relatively painless travel experience today.  Minus some technical difficulties (I actually wrote this on the plane and had planned to post it several hours ago when I was in Chicago), I made it back unscathed. 

In case you missed it, here are my major highlights:




Pretty tasty salad, in case you were wondering! Smile

Anyway . . . I’m home now, but since I’ve had travel on the brain all week, I thought I’d share a few packing tips!

First off, I should tell you that I hate to pack.  It stresses me out (shocking, I know). 

But my packing stress lies not with the worry of forgetting something.  Oh no.  My concern is that I won’t have enough stuff.  Or I won’t like anything I have to wear.  Or I’ll need a different colored tank/belt/sweater than the one I brought.  So this packing post is devoted to paring it down and consolidating it all! Open-mouthed smile

I know you’ll be surprised to see this up first:

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Yep!  It’s a list! Smile 

I like to make a calendar of sorts that allows me to plan out what I might want to wear each day, as well as other miscellaneous odds and ends that I need to throw in, like comfy clothes for lounging or workout clothes. 

Next, I try to commit to one pair of shoes for the trip.  This is a serious challenge, and it doesn’t always work, but experience tells me that I probably won’t wear that really cute pair of heels or ankle boots that I thought I just had to squeeze in.  So I choose one pair for everyday where and coordinate my packing around those. 

Then, I lay everything out.

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I also have a cocktail.  It helps take the edge off.

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With everything laid out, I can see exactly what I have, what I might be missing (hello, socks!), and what goes with what.  I like to try to make some pieces do double duty!

I also try everything on.  This takes a little longer, but it helps me to make sure I have outfits that are really going to work, rather than ideas in my head that may or may not work once I get them on.  Do you know what I mean???

Once I’ve committed to the pieces I want to pack, I roll!

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If you don’t roll your clothes when you pack, please convert yourself now.  It saves SO.MUCH.ROOM!  And then you can pack more—or buy more stuff when you get there! Open-mouthed smile

Also, utilize the “dead space” in your bag.

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Sneak some socks inside of your shoes—this is valuable packing real estate!  I also put things like belts and sports bras inside of shoes.  They fit and it frees up enough space for another top! Winking smile

As far as jewelry goes, I try to choose one versatile silver necklace that will go with everything and one gold of the same nature.  For earrings, I do a few gold and a few silver, just because I’m all about the option, but a good rule that I sometimes follow is one dangly, longer pair in each metal, and one or two shorter pairs (think daytime) of each as well.

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When it comes to cords and electronics, a makeup bag works perfectly to corral all that mess! 

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I love this one because it has the little handle on top, and I can stash it in my carry on bag easily.  My chargers, cords, iPod, camera, headphones, mouse, etc. all fit inside (semi)neatly, and it’s easy to inventory what I have and what I may have forgotten!  Not that I ever forget anything . . . Embarrassed smile

Especially when I have longer flights, I make sure to stock up on travel-friendly snacks beforehand.  These days, you never know if you’re going to get anything to eat on the plane, and if they do have “food available for purchase,” it probably costs close to my right arm!  I love to hit up what I call the “bar section” of Trader Joe’s for this kind of stuff! 

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My go-to flying snacks are Clif and Clif Z Bars, plus Trader Joe’s fruit leather.  I know some people aren’t into bars like I am, but Clif Bars are seriously one of my favorite things!  They are chewy with little bits of nuts and fruit in them and some even have a little drizzle of icing.  YUM!  I also like that they have around 10 grams of protein each so they can act as a small meal in a pinch.  They’re also relatively low in sodium so they don’t contribute to icky airplane swelling! 

Clif Z Bars are supposed to be for kids, but with flavors like Honey Graham and Chocolate Brownie, there’s no chance you’re keeping me away!  And the Chocolate Brownie flavor tastes just like a brownie.  Swoon!

I also love that the Clif Bars are made from organic ingredients and no high fructose corn syrup.  It’s nice to put something good into your body while you’re traveling, ya know?

Besides being delicious, the fruit leathers have no added sugar, so you’re getting in some fruit for the day, too!  I like to pack these so I’m not tempted to go to town on a $6 bag of gummy bears from the airport bookstore!

A few other tips . . .

  • Don’t bring it if you don’t need it.
    • Duh, right?  In all seriousness, though, if there’s a hairdryer at your hotel, don’t waste space on packing your own.  Think in the same vain for other toiletry items like shampoo, toothpaste, and razors.  Most hotels have them for free if you just ask, so there’s no need to pack (and carry on) unnecessarily.  My cousin has a hairdryer, straightener, shampoo, etc., so I didn’t bother bringing any of that along.  Think think think!
  • Hit up the travel section at the drugstore.
    • Again, maybe a no-brainer, but rather than scramble around trying to find acceptable travel sizes of all of your favorites, buy the little plastic bottles and transfer your usuals into them.  Then, there’s no worry of breaking out from using a different face lotion or face wash.  Or, if you think ahead, you can save little mini jars whenever you get the free sample at the makeup counter.  Just refill them when you travel, and you’ll always have your favorites on hand! 
  • You can put other stuff in with your liquids.
    • When you go through security, all of your liquids have to be in a quart sized bag—but it doesn’t have to be only liquids.  My suitcase actually has a clear zippered case that came with it for expressly this purpose, but I also put my combs, razor, pony boppers, and bobby pins into the same bag.  There’s room for them there, and the security folks don’t seem to mind! Smile
  • Check your flight status BEFORE you leave for the airport! 
    • As I mentioned earlier, I had a rough travel experience on the way out to Seattle due to bad weather.  This seems to be pretty much par for the course for me when it comes to traveling.  My flight is invariably cancelled or delayed or something, so I’ve learned to check my flight status just before I head to the airport.  That way, I’m not stuck waiting there any longer than necessary. 
  • If you have a connecting flight, carry on if you can!
    • There is nothing worse than having a lost bag.  When I’m flying direct, checking a bag isn’t quite as daunting, but if there are connections to be made, I want my bag in my possession!  At the very least, I make sure to have my toothbrush, makeup, medications, and any other essentials in my carry on so in the event that my bag is, ahem, misplaced, I can still deal!

Alright, since I clearly need all the help I can get, it’s time to spill! 

What’s your best travel tip???

It’ll Make Your Skirt Fly Up

I feel like an old lady.

I am having such a great time in Seattle, but I am beat.  Make that BEAT!  {See how the capitalized, italicized, bold letters really reinforce my point???}

Shocking, I know.  Between all of the eating, sightseeing, and jet-lagging, I can’t imagine why I would be tired!  Smile

I think it especially shows, though, in this picture from yesterday afternoon’s pedicures.

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Get that girl a nap!  The pedicure was wonderfully relaxing.  I think I may go back and just sit in that massage chair all day!  Open-mouthed smile

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After we got our toes all Spring-ified with pretty pinks, a Trader Joe’s stop was in order for the fixin’s for dinner!  You didn’t think I would come all the way to Seattle and not cook anything, did you??? 

Since it was Glee night, a few of Ali’s girlfriends came over for TV and Turkey Burgers!  We used one of my family’s favorite recipes, and it was a hit! 

These turkey burgers are the absolute BEST way to make a turkey burger at home.  We eat them at least once a week in the summertime, but you could definitely make them anytime.  And you’ll want to.  They are FANtastic!  And did I mention you top them with a blue cheese sauce that, as the Pioneer Woman says, will make your skirt fly up?  Oh yes. 

Turkey Burgers

Serves 4

1 package ground turkey

1 package turkey bacon

1 1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning

1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles

1/2 cup sour cream

buns—Trader Joe’s makes really good multigrain buns or these are great on onion buns, too

Mix the poultry seasoning into the meat with your hands to distribute it evenly (I mix it right in the package the meat comes in—one less dirty dish!).  Score the meat to divide it into 4 burgers.  Shape the burgers into patties.  Then, wrap 2 slices of turkey bacon around each one, making an X on the top and wrapping the pieces around to the bottom.  Grill for ~8 minutes a side, depending on the heat of your grill.  You just want them to be cooked through because this is turkey—nothing less than well done, please! Smile

Top them with a sauce of equal parts blue cheese crumbles and sour cream, seasoned to taste with S&P.  It’s not much to look at, but I swear you will want to put this stuff on everything!

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We served ours with a fresh green salad and sweet potato fries, which were both fantastic decisions!

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Check it:

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I know it may seem that I put an excessive amount of sauce on this burger, but I assure you that you will want at least this much on there!  It makes the burger!  From experience, I can tell you that it is also delicious on your sweet potato fries, in case anyone was curious. Winking smile

Not to be outdone by the burgers were some Funfetti Cookies!  All you do with these is mix one box of any cake mix with 1/4 cup each of oil and water plus an egg, drop onto a greased cookie sheet, and bake at 350* for 10-12 minutes.  Done! 

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{Cookie photography by the lovely Alison!  She has some blogger in her, I tell ya! Smile}

Topping them with frosting is optional, but frosting is never a bad idea!

Our plans today include a trip downtown for some shopping, a visit to the first Starbucks, and exploring Pike’s Place Market!  I can’t wait!  The only thing I told Ali I really wanted to do here was see “the place where they throw the fish!” because I’m sophisticated like that!  I hear it’s going to be a walking day, so I might just sneak in a short run this morning and save my real energy for later!  

Excellent Enthusiasm

In case you were wondering, running in Seattle is tough.  Through some paradox of the universe, no matter where you turn, you are always running uphill.  I mean always.  That being said, I pounded out almost 5 miles uphill this morning, and it felt fantastic.  I think it’s safe to say I’m addicted to running.  I don’t quite get the shakes when I don’t run, but I do start to get a little grouchy . . . I guess there are worse addictions, so I’ll take it! Winking smile

This morning, we set out to do a little more wedding dress shopping for Alison.  Trekking all the way to Burien, about 45 minutes south, we went to the labyrinth of bridal gowns—Pearls & Lace Boutique.  I told Alison she had to look excited when I took her picture outside the store.

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Excellent enthusiasm.

But seriously, this place was a veritable labyrinth of dressses!  Room upon room upon room of them!

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We literally lost one another in this place!  They had a ton of great options, though!  Now, it’s up to narrowing it down rather than finding the right one.  So exciting!

For lunch, we headed downtown for Seattle’s restaurant week.  There were such pretty views on the way!

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After some quick shopping near the art museum, we went to the Dahlia Lounge for lunch.

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It had a really fun upscale vibe with great redone classics on the menu.  The restaurant week selection gave you a choice of appetizer, entrée, and dessert for only $15.  Perfect!Seattle 3 013

We started out with house made bread topped with sweet cream butter and fennel salt.

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I am now obsessed with fennel salt.  Ok, maybe I’m just obsessed with salt, but it was hella-tasty!

For lunch, I made the obvious choice: grilled cheese with tomato soup!  Smile

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The soup was tangy and thick, topped with brown butter croutons and chives.  Reminiscent of Spaghetti-O’s in the best possible way!

And that grilled cheese was absolutely to die for!  Perfectly crunchy bread with white cheddar cheese oozing out!  It even had little crunchy spots attached where the cheese had overflowed and cooked on the griddle into cheesy chips!  The arugula salad on the side was fantastic, too!  A little spicy with a fantastic little pops of cherry tomato, accented by a light vinaigrette.  I was extremely happy with my choice!

We finished out the meal with the Dahlia Bakery Cookie, which was actually 2 chocolate pecan cookies sandwiched around buttercream frosting.

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We were all expecting giant cookies from the way the server described them, so we were a little disappointed with the dinky offering!  The cookie itself was rich and chocolatey, though, and the buttercream was pretty stinkin’ delicious all by itself.  I’m not a huge fan of crunchy cookies, so I would have liked this to be a little on the softer side, but I still enjoyed a few bites!

Overall, I give the Dahlia Lounge two thumbs up!  Tasty tasty tasty!  Love when it’s restaurant week and you can get a deal at a place you probably couldn’t afford otherwise! Open-mouthed smile

Time for pedicures!  Hope you’re having a great Tuesday!