West Coast Musings: Part II

I had every intention of blogging my trip while I was gone but due to busy schedules and terrible internet, here I am blogging the rest of  my trip after I’ve returned home already! photo 3 (5)

 

The third day of travels started out in Florence, Oregon and brought us down to Crescent City for the night. Florence is famous for its beautiful sand dunes along the coast. I’ve been here once before but it was years ago when I was much younger. Back then, we rented some one seater dune buggies and I got stuck….a lot. This time, we rented individual ATVs for each of us and I still got stuck….a  lot. The sand dunes were beautiful though and being stuck meant I had a lot of time to just sit and take in my surroundings while I waited for help. After the excursion, I had to empty myself of all the sand that had collected in my clothing.

DSC_1178We were all starving after we were done with sand dunes and decided to get lunch at Traveler’s Cove and it was delicious. The portions were just big enough to fill up the appetite we had worked up. If you’re in Florence and in need of a yummy, hearty meal, I would definitely suggest visiting Traveler’s Cove!

DSC_1181

 

DSC_1186

I’m hungry again just looking at this!

The next leg of the trip was just to get to Crescent City for the night and take it easy. We were all pretty tired and just wanted to hang out in the hotel to relax for the next day which took us through the Redwoods and then to our destination of Sonoma for our conference.

DSC_0025

DSC_0019

Advertisements

Quick and Refreshing Cucumber Pasta Salad

photo 2 (6)During finals week, I was eating really unhealthy, skipping  meals and lacking some fruits and veggies. Halfway through the week, I decided I needed to start taking care of my body by actually eating some things that would be good for it. I made a quick trip to Trader Joe’s and since I was still pressured on time with more studying to be done, I decided I’d quickly whip together a cucumber salad. But upon realizing how hungry I really was, I cooked some shell pasta and mixed it together making a pasta salad instead.

Ingredients:
3 diced Persian cucumbers
1.5 cup halved grape tomatoes
1.5 cup halved grapes
1/2 diced yellow peppers
1.5 cup small cooked shell pasta

Dressing: (mostly estimated to taste)
2/3 cup Olive Oil
1.5 tbs Honey Mustard
1 tbs lemon juice Sugar to taste


This recipe is pretty straight-forward. Chop up all your veggies and fruits, cook the pasta and let it cool, and then combine them all in a large bowl. The dressing just consists of all the ingredients mixed together well, especially the mustard. Once mixed, toss the dressing with the salad and you’ll have a deliciously quick pasta salad to eat!

Mel’s Birthday Dinner

DSCF0608ee

Our dear friend, Melissa, turned 24 last week. She’s always so busy planning for other’s birthdays that we wanted to do something special and thoughtful for her. Since Mel knew we were planning a small get together, she insisted we keep it casual and simple so we tried our best.  Mel loves potatoes and everything that is made of them so what better way to celebrate her than throwing her a potato party! Inviting 20 of her closest friends for her birthday dinner this past Sunday, each person was charged with making a potato dish to share. Most of our decorations were things we already owned, were easily handmade, or easily attained.

Janice made  a large card out of poster board for everyone to sign and also served as another sign. We rearranged some furniture in their house and created an open space for everyone to be able to hand out in. The banner Janice bought is also a chalkboard banner so it can be reused over and over again. We stopped by QFC and picked up some flowers because who doesn’t love flowers? And we borrowed the Mr. Potato Heads from a family with young children for our potato themed meal!

DSCF0597e

All the food that was brought was absolutely delicious and I was quite impressed with potato dishes people came up with. The classics, of course, were there such as mashed potatoes, french fries, and potato salad. But there were also dishes like Shepherd’s Pie, Tater teens (super yummy btw), and a potato bake. What is a “tater teen” you might ask? Well,  it’s like an adolescent version of a tater tot and quite possibly even more delicious! And while the food theme was potatoes, we still needed some protein and greens so there was also some mouthwatering smoked pulled pork + coleslaw, a strawberry/mango/mandarin spinach/spring mix salad, as well as a pesto pasta salad (one of my favorite dishes of the evening). Janice and I used these chalkboard coasters she bought from Target as food signs, aren’t they adorable?  We didn’t think they were very practical as coasters since they felt like cardboard and would probably fall apart if they got wet but they worked perfectly for food labels.

DSCF0626e

One of my favorite food presentations was the curly fries buckets. Janice has these cute metal pails, again from Target’s dollar section, which are really versatile in what they can be used for. As you can see in the earlier photo with the card and a banner, a pail was used to hold the pens needed to sign the card.  I ate at a restaurant last week where they used a fancy metal cylindrical container to hold their fries which inspired me to do the same with these curly fries! Lining the pails with parchment paper, we loaded them up with curly fries. This is a super easy way and cost effective way to present your food so next time you’re scrambling to find plates or bowls, think of any other container you can use as well! Just line it with some parchment paper and ta-da!DSCF0592

See some more close ups of the food below:

 

Janice did most of the work on the cake and even though she kept calling it a disaster, we all thought it turned out lovely especially since she hasn’t made a cake in years and feels out of practice. The cake itself is a simple vanilla cake with a chocolate pudding + krackle chocolate filling iced with simple buttercream. It was pretty warm on Sunday so we kept running into challenges of the buttercream melting or being too runny but I think the cake turned out pretty nicely!

DSC_0377wI’d say the party was success and was a low-key as we could have made it. Everyone was comfortable and relaxed, especially Melissa. We spent the rest of the evening after dinner playing group games and just enjoying spending time with each other. I realized we forgot to get a group picture with everyone but here’s one of just the girls!

DSCF0630eAnd last but definitely not least, some OOTD for you all! It seemed like the theme for the party was also maxi dresses! Mel and Jess actually unintentionally matched perfectly in their black maxis and salmon-colored cardigans. Mel’s dress from Nordstrom and Jess’ from Loft.  Janice wore a pretty printed maxi which I really wish I had gotten a good photo of  and I wore a blue and white knit striped maxi from Gap. Maxi dresses are something I could wear forever, they’re just so comfy and versatile. I didn’t have a chance to take a lot of photos but here are just two:

DSC_0355eDSCF0644e

 

(Thanks Sean for many of the photos in this post!)

 

UW Gems {A Series}

UW

As I’ve been around the University District, I thought it’d be a good idea to start sharing some places around campus. This way, if you’re ever around the area and need somewhere to shop, eat, or just explore, there’ll be a list you can reference! I’ll be posting about some of these places so check back often to see what’s new!

Food & Drink
U:don
Yogurtland
Cafe Allegro
Cafe Solstice
Cafe on the Ave
Molly’s
Madeleine Bread & Dessert
Thaiger Room
Pho Thy Thy
Than Brothers
Banana Leaf Cafe
Sultan Gyro Grill & Shawarma
Cedars
Ruzhen Mongolian Grill

Shopping
Crossroads Trading Co.
Urban Outfitters
Artist & Craftsman Supply
Goodwill
Hardwick’s
Woolly Mammoth
Buffallo Exchange
Magus Books

Discover
Burke Museum
Drumheller Fountain
Suzzallo Reading Room
Sylvan Grove Theater
Waterfront Activities Center
Henry Art Gallery

Staple & Fancy: Seattle

First of all, I’m sorry for this late, late post. And secondly, I also apologize for the quality of the photos in this post. It was dark in the restaurant and I didn’t have my DSLR with me.

Sean had been wanting to visit Staple & Fancy for so long and we’ve had to deal with him talking about it for months so when restaurant week came around (which was back in April), we gladly booked a reservation to go. We had a dinner reservation for 8pm and were seated quite promptly upon arrival. The feel of the restaurant was very much Ballard-esque. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Ballard, it very much has a defining features of Seattle. It’s trendy, it’s hip, and bears a folk-sy vibe. Staple & Fancy is a rustic, Italian-inspired restaurant, with a comfortable ambiance. With wood finishing and dim lights, it’s definitely a busy restaurant, especially during restaurant week.

I thought it was pretty neat that in their restaurant week menu, they brought all four appetizer options out to you so you could try a bit of everything. Of course, the portions were proportionate to the number of people in your party.

Appetizers: 
Fried Risotto balls with cheese
Grilled Sardine
Ricotta Cheese + Peas and Bread
Baby Kale Salad

I can’t remember the exact menu and don’t have photos of all the appetizers, but I do remember that the baby kale salad was absolutely delicious!

The main courses were a nettle pesto, lamb ragu gnocchi, hanger steak with mashed potatoes, and a grilled mackerel with fried cauliflower. The four of us each ordered one of the entrees and had a chance to taste everything. I ordered the nettle pesto which was delicious. With a strong taste of pine nuts, it definitely satisfied my stomach.

For dessert, I got the flourless chocolate cake and everyone else ordered the Meyer lemon pudding cake . As much as I really do love lemon, I’m always weak when it comes to chocolate. They both were delicious. I heard so much raving over the pudding cake so if you’re not a slave to chocolate like me, go for the Meyer lemon pudding cake!

At the end of our meal, they gave us each a bag of freshly made complimentary Ethan Stowell pasta!
IMG_3435w