Monday, December 19, 2011

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Violet

I am feeling the Christmas spirit this year. Christmas isn’t necessarily my favorite holiday, some people, like Orange who used to grace these pages, spend all year looking forward to it and will play carols in July. Me, personally, my favorite holidays are the Fourth of July, Halloween and, of course, Thanksgiving.

But this year, I’m feeling the joy. I’m singing carols, baking and shopping all with a spring in my step. Maybe it’s because I helped Save Thanksgiving. Maybe it’s because JP and I are hosting Christmas at our place in Seattle this year. Whatever the case, I have visions of sugar plums dancing in my head and I don’t even know what those are. 
Building on the festive feeling, JP and I hosted a holiday get-together. As friends from all parts of our lives arrived to eat, drink and be merry, I was struck by a familiar feeling. It was a feeling of thanksgiving. I was once again reminded at how good life can be. That in the darkest time of the year so many other things can shine bright.  
Here are just a sample of the wonderfully hilarious photos from the photobooth JP set up at the party.  

I hope that you and yours are enjoying the season as much as I am. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Yeah, it's about Bras by violet

I had some trouble writing this post. Talking about your underwear in public (even with a small group of people) is pretty intimate, especially when some in the crowd are male, relatives and coworkers. But the story I want to tell you has me feeling empowered, so this is a post about bras, but not the sexy hot kind. This is about the logistics and tactics, not style and execution. If thought of hearing about my bra makes you uncomfortable then go ahead and skip this one.  I won’t be mad at you.  
JP had found a deal for a fitting and a store credit on Gilt Group for Bellefluer Lingerie in Fremont.  Truth be told, I didn’t think very much about my bra size.  I’ve been wearing the same size since high school. While I wasn’t ever dazzled by the effects it didn’t feel like a huge issue. Sure it felt like no matter which t-shirt bra or full-coverage style I tried you could still see the line of the top of the cup through my shirt.  And I used to get frustrated at movies where the heroine would take off her white oxford shirt to reveal a black lace bra that never seemed to show through. I just thought these were problems all women had. 
Now, I had been “fit” a few years ago at the dominate lingerie chain store but really they just told me to keep wearing the size I had been wearing. I’ve had friends who have worked on get fit campaigns. I watched Oprah. But it just didn’t seem like something I needed to worry about.   
Then the gal at Bellefluer had me try on a completely different size (in case you are curious it was a larger cup, smaller band). Something just clicked over in my head and I was like, oh yeah, that’s what this is supposed to feel like. I’ve learned that the vast majority of the support should come from the band and not your straps. Ladies if you are living in strap-support land, get out now. I’m telling you.  
Since taking advantage of the store credit it’s been like a whole new world. I can wear almost any of the new bras under almost anything without them showing through the top. I’m learning about how to care for my fancy new goods, all with a whole new appreciation for what goes under my clothes.  Thank you Bellefluer.  

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

5 Years by Violet

It’s a little hard to believe but JP and I have been together for five years. 
Since this is going to be our last dating anniversary that we will celebrate before we get married in June, we thought we’d do it up a little bit. So we made reservations at a fancy restaurant, booked a hotel room downtown and decided to make a day out of it.
That morning we woke up early and headed up to Fremont where we tried a coffee shop recommended by a coworker of JP’s and then did a little bit of shopping. Since we finished up around 11:45 we thought we’d see what Paseo looked like. As we did a drive by there were only a couple people in line so JP threw me out of the car with some cash and yelled, order me a Midnight Cuban. The deal is the line at Paseo can get out of control, so when you see it with only a few people you can’t even wait to find a parking spot. It’s a good thing that JP acted fast because right after me, the line started to snake down the street.
Now, I’ve heard a lot about this mythical sandwich place and when you hear as much about a place, it becomes a challenge to meet those expectations. But Paseo is one of those places that live up to the hype. Seriously one of the best sandwiches I have ever had.
After lunch we went over to Crate & Barrel to try and fill out our registry and actually made some really good progress.
We then checked into Hotel 1000 and of course enjoyed the complementary glass of champagne during check in. Our hotel room was pretty sweet - felt like a high roller.  
Since it was a special occasion I thought I would really do it up and get my hair and makeup done for the evening as well. So I braved the rainy weather for my appointment at Swink. I was really pleased with the results. I do a little beauty pageant in the photos but my hair fell a little bit over the night. I also liked the shade of red lipstick so much I ended up buying it.

We were in a little bit of a pickle since Oregon was playing Stanford in a matchup of the PAC 12 titans that night. JP being the understanding future husband that he is understood my desire to watch at least the vast majority of the game. So we watched the first half in our room while we got ready. Then took advantage of the free drink from the hotel in the bar while watching the 3rd quarter. Luckily my beloved Ducks had the game firmly in hand by the time we left for our 8:30 dinner reservations.
Dinner at RN74 including many highlights.  But I think the best part was the beignets with salted caramel butterscotch.  It’s a great place for a romantic dinner with your significant other. 
Now here’s where I get sappy. JP, it’s been an amazing five years filled with all kinds of adventure.  I can’t wait to marry you.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Working from Home by Violet

My company’s offices in Bellevue are currently being remodeled. And I am without an office. I have a temporary and shared space in the office two days a week but the other three days a week I’m on my own working from home until February.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve never been very good a working from home. There’s something about being at the office that keeps me honest. And I find the presence of my TV, refrigerator and bed incredibly distracting.

Since I’m going to be working for home for quite a long stretch, I thought I better figure out some ways to help me be more productive. Here’s my plan of attack:

Go to the Gym
I’ve been on the morning workout train for the last few weeks now and I want to keep the momentum going. I’m going to keep getting up early and get the gym time in before I start the work day. Get my day started in a healthy and energizing way. This will help me not be tempted to cut out early to hit the gym at the end of the day.

Get Ready
It’s very tempting to stay in my pjs all day. Putting on a pair of pants really helps put me in business mode. I’m less likely to lay around on the couch all day if I actually went to the trouble of putting make up on.

My addiction to TV is BAD. If I even turn it on to watch the Today show in the morning, my whole day is shot. By resisting the urge in the morning, I can get a lot more done.

A Space to Work
I’ve taken over JP’s office for the next few months, he's being really nice about the whole thing. Having a space, away from the TV, removes some (not all) of the distractions.

So far, I’ve had two days working from home and I would say it’s just going OK. While the tricks I really help in the morning the afternoons seem to be when the distractions come in – laundry, errands, starting dinner. It also doesn’t help that I’m trying to start a movement to Save Thanksgiving.
Does anyone have any working from home advice? Help me get more productive?

Violet in UGG Cozy Knit slippers (What? I said I would put pants and makeup on but shoes?)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Save Thanksgiving by Violet

I’m starting a movement to save Thanksgiving.

I should clarify, Thanksgiving isn’t in any real danger, it is still on the calendar. As many people have bemoaned (and I am one of them), Christmas seems to start earlier and earlier every year. In fact this year, people starting talking Christmas the day after Halloween. The. Day. After.

I see that as an affront to one of the greatest holidays there is - Thanksgiving. There are many reasons why I think this is a great holiday; here are just some of the reasons why.

The Concept
It is a day to give thanks. It’s a time to stop and recognize all the wonderful things we have in our lives. A day to count your blessings. A day to be around friends and family and say, you have made my life better. Not with an extravagant gift but with the simple act of sharing a meal together.

The Execution
Thanksgiving is all about the food, in a tradition as old as the campfire, we gather those we love around us and break bread together. Every family does it a little bit differently but the general ingredients are there, a turkey and all the trimmings. I have yet to meet a person who isn’t psyched about a Thanksgiving meal.

The Stress Level
As holidays go, Thanksgiving is pretty low pressure. Sure you have to cook a big meal and there’s likely some travel involved but really on the scale of things that’s not so bad. There are no crowds to fight at the mall. No stress about a long list of people to buy gifts for, no serious wallop to your bank account. Sure there might be some fear of messing up the turkey but in comparison to Christmas that’s nothing.

Thanksgiving is a holiday free from religion. Religious holiday are great but then tend to come with baggage. It sure makes it easier to celebrate when you can invite everyone to the table. Everyone can get behind giving thanks, eating a giant meal and taking a nap. If you can’t then, clearly something is wrong with you.

My point it, Thanksgiving is a great holiday. And I think it’s getting the shaft. Christmas is sucking up all the oxygen. At a time when budgets are tight and people are on the streets protesting corporate greed, I can’t think of anything better thing to do than gather those you love around you, share a meal and give thanks for what you do have.

In order to save Thanksgiving, I’m not paying Christmas any attention until November 25. For the next month, I’m going to talk about how excited I am for turkey, football and spending time with my family. And not about shopping malls, deals, Santa Clause or any such thing.

I encourage all of you to do the same. Give Thanksgiving the due it deserves. Take a few weeks to pause before life gets hectic and give thanks for the blessings in your life. And for Pete’s sake, #SaveThanksgiving.

Violet in Born Waverly Sauor Full Grain

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Goodbye to a Seattle Landmark by Violet

Seattle is losing a landmark - the Alaskan Way Viaduct is coming down. We are at the beginning of the process of replacing this aging and ugly elevated highway with the best view in town. Here in Seattle it’s been an epic battle over how to replace it, multiple votes, council meetings and court cases. No one really seems to agree on anything other than it need to be replaced. But we are forging ahead with a deep-bore tunnel which means that we are saying goodbye to the old girl.

Demo getting started
The first day it closed the city let people walk on it without traffic before tearing it down. Since this is a roadway that JP and I take just about every day it seemed like something we needed to check out.

In classic Seattle style, it was raining pretty hard for the Viaduct’s last day. It was pretty easy to spot where to go since there were more than a few other people who wanted to say their goodbyes as well.

We trucked up on the onramp and got as close as we could to the big machinery already starting demo.

I have to say it was a pretty neat experience to walk on a roadway that I have driven too many times to count. It’s a way different view.
Even though the Viaduct is pretty ugly it was hard not to get a little bit nostalgic for the thing. It has clearly found its way into the hearts of a great many Seattleites.

I was especially grateful to the city for allowing us the opportunity to give the Viaduct a walking goodbye. And, the best part, the opportunity to take a little piece of it home.

JP with his piece to take home
Violet in Saucony Jazz - Red/White

Friday, October 28, 2011

I wish I was here by Violet

Becuase it really is one of my favorite places on Earth.  And just look at how happy it makes me

Violet in Oregon rain boots

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Chocolopolis by Violet

As I have noted there are certain parts of my job that don’t suck. I encountered one of those moments when my lovely and talented friend/coworker Meg invited me to a chocolate tasting at Chocolopolis. I didn’t have to think about that one for too long.

Chocolopolis is an adorable store on the top of Queen Anne Hill. They offer tons of different kinds of artisan chocolate from all over the world and add some of their own special creation as well.

Too cute, right?
In preparation for the holidays they invite some of us corporate types in to taste some of their chocolate.

I arrived a little bit early - probably because I could barely contain my excitement about this event. This actually turned out to be a blessing. Because I found this great book about some French woman who became a chocolatier (I would give you a link to the book but I’ve completely forgotten the title and a Google search proved fruitless). But there was an entire chapter on tasting chocolate – tips and how to approach it. This proved valuable as we went into the chocolate tasting.

Lauren, the owner, ran us through an extensive chocolate tasting that spread over all the bean producing regions. It was incredibly interesting to taste chocolate like you would wine. Really focus on the experience rather than shoving down your face as fast as humanly possible (I don’t do that. I don’t know what you are talking about).

I learned that while I love dark chocolate, I don’t love 100% cocoa which they have in the store and is one of their most popular bars. I also learned of the existence of one of the most delicious drinks I have ever encountered – the peanut butter hot chocolate. It pretty much tastes like a melted peanut butter cup. I’m going back for another one of those soon.

Seriously. It's freaking awesome.

If you are looking to get your chocolate fix or a unique gift, I highly recommend checking this place out. Tell Lauren and the crew I said hello.

Violet in Frye Campus 14L boots in Saddle Montana

Thursday, October 13, 2011

We tried to get breakfast by violet

We tried to get breakfast last Sunday morning. JP and I used to go out to breakfast a lot more than we do now. We used to gather large groups of people after crazy nights out drinking. We used to start our explorations of different neighborhoods with the breakfast joint. But for whatever reason we haven’t been going to breakfast out as much. Blame it on trying to be healthy, blame it on not going drinking as out as much.

So Sunday morning we attempted to get breakfast a Skillet. Skillet and I met before at the Mobile Chow Down a few years back. They recently opened up a non-portable location in Capitol Hill this Spring. We’ve been meaning to check it out but the place is always packed.

Now at 11:00 am on a Sunday morning with grumbling stomachs it seemed like risky business trying to get in. We were told the wait would be a half an hour which didn’t seem terrible, especially considering it wasn’t raining outside.

Plus it gave us time to people watch. I’m currently putting the pieces together to replicate this girl’s look. So far, I have the shoes.

The wait turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Because at 11:30 it is socially expectable to order lunch. It wasn’t that the breakfast didn’t look good, corn cakes, pork belly, hash and waffles all looked tempting. It’s just that the burger with the bacon jam was just sitting there on the lunch side of the menu, calling out to me.

JP apparently heard the siren’s call as well because he went for lunch as well – the fried chicken sandwich with a side of poutine. It was enough gray and fries to probably kill a lesser person.

I hope the person who invited this is living a happy life in Canada for wherever this craziness came from because it is decadence at its best.

And while we didn’t accomplish our goal of getting breakfast, we certainly stuffed ourselves full of deliciousness which really, isn’t that the point of breakfast anyway?

Violet in Frye Campus 14L boots in Saddle Montana

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Unexpected Moments by violet

Obviously since getting engaged, I’ve started to look at weddings a little bit differently. After making a few decisions about our own wedding, JP and I attended two wedding on back to back weekends last month. Something struck me about these weddings. As a guest, my favorite moments from each wedding were unplanned and unexpected.

Lauren (along with Erin who got married last summer) is one of my oldest friends. We grew up two doors down from each other. We used to play dress up in her driveway and swim in her pool. We were once matching ballerinas for Halloween. We lost Lauren’s mom to ALS when we were in high school. And clearly a wedding is a time when many of us were thinking about Anita. 
Isn't she a stunner?
At Lauren’s wedding, her dad, Tom, gave an incredibly touching and moving toast. Not only did it honor Lauren’s mom but it also celebrated Lauren and her new husband Rob is such a joyful way. There was not a dry eye in the house and it’s the only time I’ve ever seen anyone get a standing ovation from a wedding toast. 

Father of the Bride is in the middle (that's my pops on the right)
Now, Sarah is a friend of JP’s from college. her and Danny had a large wedding packed with a lot of their friends. As the night wore on these friends found their way to the dance floor and right about the height of the dance party, the DJ sent the crowd into a frenzy with Regulators. I should tell you most of these kids were not straight out of Compton but clearly many of us had grown up respecting the high art of gangster rap. Which is how a group of 20-30 of us ended up on the dance floor SCREAMING all the words along with Nate Dog and Warren G. 

It was a clear black night...
It was the highlight of wedding.

...2-1-3 will regulate
Lauren couldn’t have known what her dad was going to say. I don’t think Sarah told the DJ to play Regulators. These things just happened. Plenty of time and effort went into other, amazing parts of these events. All of which were appreciated and helped make them wonderful. But what made them unique and what I’m going to remember years from now are things neither bride had any control over.

It’s a good reminder as JP and I start jumping back into wedding planning. Make thoughtful decisions and make it your own but also allow the space for the unexpected to happen. Much like life.

I just had to include Lauren and Rob's cake. Too cute right?

 Violet in Jessica Simpson "Jessica" pump in ivory patent

Monday, October 3, 2011

Fall TV

Since I am a self-professed TV addict who has recently cut cable, I thought now would be as good a time as any to give you my first impressions of some of new shows this fall.

Whitney. I wanted to like this show. A comedy written by and starring a woman, that should be a train I could get on. But it disappoints on all fronts. The relationship jokes feel tired.  Men and women want different things, so that’s funny! I don’t really expect a character drawn like Whitney’s – supposedly unconventional and unwilling to conform -  to care about half the stuff the address. I turned it off half way through the second episode. I. Turned. It. Off.  My verdict: Don’t waste your time. Instead watch her much more promising writing vehicle…

Two Broke Girls. While it might not be totally consistent, the cupcake business plot line seems trite at this point (isn’t that what New York needs, another cupcake business) and I’m not sure how they are going to pull a whole series out of the theme, at least it feel fresh and funny. Kat Dennings is all around pretty awesome.  My verdict: Giving it a few more episodes.

Playboy Club.  Note to Eddie Cibrian, you are dashing, good looking and man, can you wear a suit.  But STOP talking like you are Don Draper. You’re not. And the Playboy Club is certainly no Mad Men. My verdict: Might watch one more but not banking on it.

Pan Am. Another show guilty of grasping at the Mad Men straws but at least this felt like more of a fresh angle than the Playboy Club. Think there’s more potential here. Really I think I just want one of those sweet vintage Pan Am bags.  My verdict: Giving it a few more episodes

The New Girl. Zoey Deschanel is the cutest, most whimsical thing you have ever seen!  She’s manic pixie dream girl incarnate! She wears funny hats! She sings! She knits hats! Which would all be super annoying if it wasn’t devastatingly true and utterly charming. It’s also pretty funny when she bounces off the male roommates, who are much more grounded in reality. My verdict: Giving it the season.

Up All Night.  I’m not a new parent but I certainly feel like I can related to what the characters on Up All Night are going through. Will Arnett can read the phone book for all I care. And I thought last week’s back story on Maya Rudolph’s character was hilarious, complete with 90s R&B video and everything. My verdict: Giving it the season.

Old Shows I Can Hardly Contain My Excitement About
  • How I Met Your Mother
  • Happy Endings – This is my new Friday Night Lights and The Wire. I’m telling everyone I know to watch this show. Other than Modern Family and HIMYM, it’s the most consistent in terms of LOLs per episode. Plus it’s on right after Modern Family, so just don’t change the station. Ah-MAH-zing.
  • Modern Family
  • Community
  • Parks & Recreation 
  • The League
  • Parenthood

Violet in Jessica Simpson Cody, brown, leather flats with brass toe buckle

Thursday, September 29, 2011

City by the Bay

We bookended our recent trip to northern California with two weddings, but I’m going to give you the middle. Not because the weddings weren't beautiful and a ton of fun because they both were. Because it was all too much for one post so I had to divvy it up somehow and this way seemed to make sense.

So without further ado I give you the highlights from our trip to San Francisco.

- Filbert Steps down from Coit Tower. If I had what I’m sure would need to be a whole lot of money, I’d want to live there.

Though I’m still sore form the climb.

- Hayes Valley. Actually now that I mention it, I could live there too. Cute shops, restaurants and bars.

- Fatted Calf. Pork Happy Hour on Wednesday night, they break down a pig in front of you and you can take cuts home with you.

- Our bike tour of Napa

- Delicious burgers Gott’s Roadside

- The Oxbow Market getting supplies for a bread and cheese picnice to go with our Napa wine

- Mexican food in the Mission

- Drinks at Clift Hotel’s Redwood Room

- The Ferry Building: Blue Bottle Coffee, Il Cane Rosso plus the Tacolicious and Namu trucks

(Have you noticed how happy I look in all these food pictures? Yeah, there's a trend.)

- So. Much. Coffee.

- A truly decadent lunch at Wayfare Tavern (thanks to Nicki and Chris)

- Finding Joe the perfect Giants hat our last night in town

As usual the City by the Bay didn’t disappoint. Can’t wait to get back, there’s already a growing list of what we didn’t see. Or eat.

Violet in Sperry Top Siders