Emily’s Fail Safe Dinner for 2

August 26, 2013

The other day I was at a loss of what to cook for dinner and I made the critical mistake of wandering around Safeway hoping to find inspiration.

Up and down the aisles I searched for something to spark my interest. Even though I was starving and running out of time, nothing looked appetizing. (Please tell me you know what I am talking about!)

I was about to give up and pick up greek food next door when I remembered Emily’s blog post about an easy to make dinner that is a “guaranteed winner.”

After buying the ingredients I didn’t have at home, I was able to make dinner in the amount of time it took to cook the pasta. It was easy, tasty, and no way I could mess it up.

If you are out of ideas or in a hurry, I too recommend: (But
switched the orrechiette with farfelle pasta… I’m a sucker for a bow!)

Orrechiette with Sausage and Greens:

  • 1 lb orrechiette pasta
  • 1 lb turkey or pork Italian sausage, casings removed
  • Olive oil
  • 4 cups fresh spinach or 2 cups fresh chopped swiss chard or kale
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add orrechiette and cook according to package instructions. Drain in a colander reserving 1 cup of cooking water. Meanwhile, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds or so until fragrant. Add sausage and cook, breaking apart with a fork, until heated through. Add greens and red pepper flakes and combine until greens are wilted. Add pasta and parmesan and stir to combine, adding cooking water by the ¼ cup until the desired saucy consistency is reached. Serve with parmesan cheese and a light red wine like Sangiovese.

I love a good theme party which is why June’s family dinner was Fiesta de MexiJune. (name courtesy of my analyst at work).

I didn’t make my friends wear ponchos or mustaches (although I should have) but focused the theme on the food we ate.

This month’s menu included:

  • White Chicken Enchiladas (recipe from Bread & Wine)
  • Chips, Salsa & Guacamole
  • Spinach salad
  • Raspberry Beer Cocktail (recipe from Sangria Diaries)

My table wasn’t nearly as filled this month as it normally is but I loved the intimate group I had. Old faces and new came together over a meal I was able to prep the night before which made this month a lot less stressful.








Although I have lived in Seattle for 1.5 years, I am still pretty ignorant to the city. This is precisely why when I was going to Discovery Park I assumed it was a park or maybe a beach. So I put on a swimsuit and then changed it for a sun dress and converse tennis shoes right before I walked out the door. This may seem like no big deal to you but to my friends Discovery Park is considered a hike and I showed up looking like a princess.

Thankfully, a princess that can hike in a short black dress and kicks. But, I am jumping a head here. This day was perfect and I will tell you why.

I start most of my Saturdays the same way…

I roll out of bed and into my Zella Live in Leggings and the closest (and cleanest) workout shirt I can find. I bobby pin my hair back, splash water on my face, brush my teeth and then I am out the door to walk to my workout class that is 2 miles away. After my 60 minutes of workout torture, I start the journey back home.

Every Saturday that is how my day starts.

On this Saturday as I was on my way home, I got a call from my sister to meet her for lunch. So instead of walking all the way back, I caught a bus and scooted to the top of the hill. We talked… we ate… we watched her dog bark attack a little girl…then we hid in shame.

After our “ladies who lunch”-sweaty-from-working-out lunch, I got a call from Curtis & Doug to go to Discovery Park. I believe they phrased it in terms of “skipping rocks” and “a short hike away”. I, of course, thought they were joking on the skipping rocks and “hike away” meant we could walk there from their house. Either way, I quickly showered got on my bathing suit, took off my bathing suit, put on my black dress, and met up with them at their place.

Enter Discovery Park:


I had no expectations for what was ahead but I was immediately speechless for the beauty that lived a few miles from my house. How in the world had I never been here? The views, the easy trails, the fresh air and travel companions filled me with delight. It was perfect.







Most of the afternoon was spent here and I have the tan lines and sand in my shoes to prove it.

This amazing Saturday didn’t end there but kept going with other friends and Red Mill shakes while the sun set.

Pretty much perfect, right?

As Google Reader disappeared and Feedly transferred all of my blog subscriptions, many of my previously read blogs reappeared. As I sorted through what was new and what was old, I came across these photos again.

In a serious by Ilona Jongepier titled “Paris Paris” she captures the epitome of my future family dreams. Yes, I dream of matching my ridiculously adorable daughter. There is no judging on Andbubblegum.

But more than the wardrobe and the cute daughter, I love their relationship, the shared whimsy and appreciation of life. I look at these pictures and think that that is the kind of mom I want to be: I want to be in the moment, a bit silly, and show them how I choose happiness.
I also want to wear socks with dresses every day. But that is another story.
As much as uncertainty there is in my future and things out of my control, I do know that I will have at least one kid one day because I hope to adopt. With that child or two, whether they are adopted or a product of marriage… I am going to be one heck of a mom. And perhaps like this mom, matching outfits included.

Not from the Paris Paris series but perhaps the same “mom” and a glimpse into my perfect future. J’adore.

All images courtesy of http://www.ilonajongepier.com

In all my explorations across Amsterdam, Hotel Droog was by far my favorite find.

At the historical centre of Amsterdam, you will find a hospitality experience like no other. Hôtel Droog is a place where you can come for a drink, a bite to eat, exclusive shopping, exhibitions, beauty advice, a stroll in the garden, a lecture series, or even a bed for the night.

As soon as you walk in to Hotel Droog, you feel more creative by the atmosphere alone. The first floor is their main shop with the front room for furniture and miscellaneous products and the backroom has apparel. At the second level you will find their cafe and fashion / beauty inspired rooms and on the top level is the one and only hotel room.

The store sells design inspired product, the garden is like a scene from Willy Wonka, and the cafe is so warm and perfect I never wanted to leave. It perfectly balances minimalism, color, and design… And if I could, I would rent out their hotel room year round.

Trip Re-Visit: Dancing Through Amsterdam >

To My Dad:

June 16, 2013

Taking a quick moment to say:

Happy Father’s Day!

To the dads that have come and those that have gone, we are who we are because of you but we will let you take credit for only the good.

To my dad…

Words cannot do justice in the impact you have left and continue to leave on my life. You have set a standard for me in the type of man I hope to one day start a family with. You are kind, generous, open, loving, sincere, and passionate.

You have blessed my life abundantly and shaped me to a strong woman of God.

I’ve never considered myself a lucky person, as things have never come easy for me, but you taught me to work hard and not give up. Looking back, perhaps I was wrong about “luck” though… Not everyone has had a dad (and mom) like I have and every day I am grateful for the life you gave me.

I love you.


June 3, 2013

My favorite restaurant in Amsterdam is probably better known as a cafe. Greenwoods has two locations and on trip advisor both are in the top 25. Seeing those numbers made me feel better about going there three times on my week long visit.

Two times for lunch with mom and a coffee visit with a friend, Greenwoods quickly became my favorite stop in Amsterdam. It has intimate seating, a menu that combines basic fresh flavors with a twist, and soda bread that is out of this world. Just thinking about the bread makes my mouth water.

Plus, how can you not love a place that has Twiggy on the wall?





singel 103, english tea room & shop, breakfast, lunch, high tea
keizersgracht 465, english tea room & restaurant, breakfast, lunch, high tea, dinner

Heineken Experience

May 31, 2013

Not all beers are created equal.

Or maybe they are?

As a non-beer drinker, after visiting the Heineken Experience I have a new appreciation for it’s flavor and carbonation controlling foam.

But seriously? This was one of my favorite “museums” in Amsterdam. Totally touristy. Totally worth it.


Holy smokes, dreamboat right? I have never paid so much close attention to anything before. Later learned he is 19. Oh to be young…






This experience has it all… no seriously, they even have a “ride” that lets you feel what it would be like to a brewed beer. Let me tell you, it’s exhilarating. :-)

It’s finally Friday. Now come on over and join me on my deck. I’ll even share my Heineken and the partly sunny weather Seattle is reportedly getting this weekend.

I am a romantic. A hopeless romantic.

I have daydreams of a “white knight” and grand gestures that rival an ABC Family movie or Nicolas Spark books. But growing up, with all of the romance I hoped for, I never dreamed of marriage. I didn’t plan a wedding like many little girls and as I grew older I often said, “I am not sure it is in my future.”

I did hope to fall in love though.
I have clocked many hours talking to my mom and sister about this notion. “If only I could just fall in love that is the only thing I need.” As I went on dates and had insignificant relationships, it wasn’t right. They were passing fancies and didn’t last very long. My mom and sister told me not to pray and wish for that… falling in love can lead to heartache if it doesn’t work out. Protect your heart, they said.

Everything changed a year ago. In a whim I met someone and I knew I wouldn’t be the same. I fought it for as long as I could but fighting those feelings lasted mere weeks. Someone entered my life that was significant and opened my eyes to not just falling in love but to a future.

When it didn’t work out I finally understood the meaning of heartache. But in those nights of fretful sleep, in the moments of tears, in the quiet hours of mourning… a new feeling emerged.

I learned what it meant to be loved and to love in return.

I learned what a man should act like and to not settle for anything less than this new standard.

I learned too that heartache can be beautiful. It tells me that I was vulnerable when I am often closed off. And it brought in a support group of friends who never once told me what to do but just let me mourn.

I am so grateful that feeling this level of love did not happen at 16 or even 23. I wasn’t ready nor was I open. Growing up in a Christian community many of my friends married young and I love that that is their story. But it wasn’t mine and I was okay with that.

Single Girls:
Protect your heart. I cannot agree with that advice more. A first love is not a right of passage and should only be given with to someone that deserves it because that person plays a significant role in your life. I am so glad that I did not experience that until last year and it was with someone who was kind and generous. It is just a feeling; butterflies in your stomach and a tug at your heart, but it impacts you. And those feelings need to be earned, not given away on the whim.

Hermitage Apartments // Amsterdam

May 24, 2013

One of the significant contributors to having my holiday in Amsterdam be so wonderful was the apartment we stayed in. I will take an apartment or B&B over a hotel any time I can and the Hermitage B&B and Apartments did not disappoint.

This one bedroom apartment was on the Amstel canal and in the heart of everything. We were within walking distance to every museum and tourist destination the city has but also to the spots that locals recommended that weren’t on Rick Steve’s radar.

Just stepping out my apartment doors or opening our large french windows I was drawn in to the wonder that is Amsterdam.

If you are planning a visit to Amsterdam, without fail I would recommend you stay here. The owner was so wonderful and her places were the perfect balance of comfort and holiday luxury.

She even offered to let me stay there for extended months over winter… which means I’m now fervently working on a business case to convince my work. Perhaps, I need to open European offices for us…

Hermitage B&B and Apartments
Amstel 35
1011 PT Amsterdam Netherlands