January's Christmas Eve Dinner
Six years ago, when I was going through my first Christmas during my divorce, my friend Debi made sure I had a place to go on her Orphans and Jews (she’s Jewish) Christmas Eve since I was staying in town for the holidays. She knew I had no family in Puget Sound. This year, she was in the midst of a house purchase and her annual celebration was postponed til tonight. Her new house is in the first stage of its new incarnation.

In the midst of dinner, I realized today was the tenth anniversary of the day I rolled into King County. Ten years! I’d say time flies, but it feels like that happened 3 lifetimes ago.

Poor Paw
This morning, The Baron had emergency surgery on his paw. Seems he got a little overzealous with the digging. He’ll be okay.

In the evening, we had one final gathering for our friends A&B. It was a seriously great time, even the part where I suspected two alpha females 😉 would go to the mat over the Rock Band mike situation.

Everyone brought a dish. Based on early response, we set the theme “dishes from places you’ve lived.” A brought both Russian & Greek food — one dish was tyrokafteri, a spicy feta dip, which happens to be my favorite. There was fried chicken, mac & cheese, apple pie, chicken enchiladas, herring, asian chicken salad, German sausages, and muffalettas.

When A&B left at the end of the night, I wondered when & where I’d see them again. I was sad to see them go. After a quick stop on the east coast, they move to Vladivostock later this year.

I can't remember what white roses mean.
Today I committed to a dress! Four friends came along for moral support — the shop owner was impressed by my gang. Me too. I am lucky.

Tomorrow is a sendoff gathering for some friends moving east before SIBERIA, so I stopped at Trader Joe’s to get some “necessities.” I often fall prey to their inexpensive flowers. Today felt like a rosy kind of day.

A big project at work went live today. Hallelujahs all around.

The Happiness Project
Tonight, a Kim Ricketts book event for Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. I learned of her years ago via Jackie Danicki. There was no hesitation when I saw tickets go on sale. All about Happiness for Type As.

One of tonight’s most valuable points: it’s socially brave to be enthusiastic. She called out Twilight, Barry Manilow, and so on. It brought to mind friends who’ve said using “guilty pleasure” is wrong – a pleasure is A PLEASURE and we shouldn’t have to apologize for it. I could expound upon that but I’m too busy freaking out about wedding planning right now. Oh, irony.

Is It Spring yet?
I took this two days ago, but wasn’t that sunshine fab today? Still applicable. I sure love this one of the warmest Januaries on record.

Tonight we went with our friends A&B and Mary Ann to Tamarind Tree‘s 7 Courses of Beef. Afterward, A&B came over, with motomotoyama and Ms. N for Mr. T’s apple pie. Finally, a dessert didn’t go to waste in our house.


The Pie, with its Artist in the Background
While I was off trying on a dress with sprizee, Celeste, motomotoyama, & Ms. N as my panel, Mr. T made a Bourbon Apple Pie. At publishing time, we are still waiting for it to cool. But I’ve been snacking away on the extra apples while I wait. The excitement’s mounting.

This is what they thought of the Haggis
We went with friends to a traditional Robbie Burns Night downtown. For dinner the amuse was haggis. I took this top picture shortly after that was served. Note Karen & C’s skepticism. I believe Karen outsourced her haggis two places down. Later, there would be barley soup and tenderloin with garlic roasted potatoes and Cab Sauv from Australia and then ladyfingers and chocolate with the best cream ever. Or, if you’re feeling poetic: Feather & Shrub Porridge, Tenderest Loin, Neeps & Tatties with Poetic Essence, Blood from the Heartiest of the Vine, and a Caledonian Cream & Citrus Martini.

For Burns Night entertainment, there was the Selkirk Grace, the spoken word of Robert Burns’ My Love is Like a Red Red Rose, a Toast to the Lads, and the requisite shoutout for the Lassies. They wrapped it up with Auld Lang Syne. In between, there was a bagpipe entrance, a scottish band, and a music and dance performance by the lovely Gothard Sisters trio, pictured here:
Burns NightBurns NightBurns Night

Afterward, Mr. T & I walked over to the Zig Zag on the Pike Street Hillclimb, an establishment I hadn’t visited in years. I had the Fancy Drink (I was lured in by Meyer Lemon Dry Soda) while he had something along the lines of a Manhattan. The drinks list was so extensive, it would take weeks to work your way through the good ones. Our refreshments were delicious.

The Friday night atmosphere was bustling but never overcrowded. Service was at a perfect pitch while we wound down from the evening on velvet banquettes. I should head back sooner than 7 years, next time.

Address to the Zig Zag, on the other end of the spoon:
Zig Zag Cafe on Urbanspoon

checking out heel height
Note: I didn’t take this picture, sprizee did. She went with me to check out a dress shop today. So there was this one dress that wouldn’t need to be hemmed or altered in any other way, if I could handle the 4 inch heels. I actually could, but I bet I’ll spring for a hem. I believe she caught me estimating the height here wrapped in a cap sleeve idea I was just checking out for warmth. (Didn’t match the dress or anything.)

I’m not on point: I found a fantastic bridal shop in Seattle today, thanks to sprizee pointing out a PhinneyWood blog entry. It’s called Blue Sky Bridal. I’m half-afraid to share it, in fear someone will get to a dress I’d love before I do.

Of the dozen shops I’ve visited in a week, this is my favorite. The dresses are lovely & amazing. I’m going to send all my engaged friends there. After I buy my dress.

Fire Chief Fire Engine No. 5
As seen on an errand in the sunshine today on the top of Queen Anne hill.

As it turns out, my memory card’s full of pictures of me in dresses over the last week. I’m tryin’ to go through and pull out the non-dress ones but there may be a few days here and there that I’ll have to share much later…

In the meantime, I’m becoming quite the expert in Seattle’s Wedding Dress selection.

On my way to a meeting on the Eastside I got caught waiting at the Fremont Bridge with these dudes.

A few weeks ago, I was doing my Wednesday thing, walking to Marination Mobile when I came across a German tourist leafing through a Lonely Planet Guide. I asked her if I could help (travel karma!) and she muttered, “Somesing special over zere?” Turns out she was looking for this Waiting for the Interurban, 2 blocks away. I also pointed her in the direction of the Rocket and the farther-away Troll, but I still wonder if she made it to the first point of interest.

At the Granite Curling Club
Mr. T’s mom threw a belated surprise party for Mr. T’s dad at the Curling Club. We had great conversations with the multitudes of family members and someone brought these pretzels wrapped in cheese and bacon that I could. not. stop. eating. Our family members did well on the ice — we watched the first several skirmishes before heading home but didn’t finish the match. I wasn’t in the peppiest of moods.

On the way to the party, my mom had called to tell me that her close friend had died that day. Her friend was the mother of my childhood best friend Ginger, and someone I’ve known since I was born. I knew things were going very poorly the whole week before, but I was shocked. I have been having a hard time with it.

I’m grateful I got a message to her before she was gone.

and so it begins
The dress shopping, that is. After an aborted attempt where I ran to shops and department stores all over town and discovered most don’t have white dresses in stock as a matter of course, I started booking appointments. Tonight after work was the first available. I narrowed it down to 3 in the shop with 2 very strong contenders of a style I would have never ever ever picked before.

Hoping to recruit a someone to head back with me soon, as it’s all frowned upon to take pictures of the dresses.

I signed paperwork that I wouldn’t.

Jane and Michael Stern at Benaroya
I’ve long been an avid Road Food Fan so I’ve looked forward to seeing Jane and Michael Stern in Seattle for months. They’ve directed me towards the less PR-championed gems, even as recently as Thanksgiving. These food writers are my kind of people — much more about the deliciousness & community than foodie snobbery. They’re fun.

Mr. T had his first soccer game of his season, so Traca came along. The Sterns bantered for an hour, followed by a half-hour of Q&A. I preferred tonight’s Q&A format to all other Seattle lectures I’ve seen here or at Town Hall. I credit that to the moderator sifting through questions instead of an open mike setup.

The Sterns spoke of their beginnings and told dozens of anecdotes. They didn’t finish their thoughts on improving your Road Food Radar before becoming distracted by other tales, but I suspect it’s all laid out in their books or on their Road Food site.

I’d love to go to their Road Food Festival at the end of March

The G shucking left-handed. Or backwards, take your pick!

The Gastrognome tipped me off last month to this year’s first Walrus and the Carpenter Picnic tonight. During low tide, Jon Rowley took us southwest of Olympia to Totten Inlet for a nighttime beach picnic. The forecast correctly warned of the constant drizzle, but luckily we arrived with warmer wintry temps in the 50s. I surprised myself by hardly noticing the rain, save for moments when I brandished the camera.
Lanterns on the beachoyster beds
There were lanterns at the Taylor Shellfish‘s oyster beds and a campfire in the midst of four canopies set up with four kinds of oysters: Kumamoto, Pacifica, Olympia, and Totten Virginica. My favorites: Kumamotos and Virginicas.

After we had our fill of oysters fresh off the beach & at the canopies, lo and behold Xinh had smoked oysters and oyster stew waiting for us before we boarded the bus back to Seattle. The darkness and the camaraderie set a great mood & this stew was one of the most delicious and satisfying I’ve had.

I felt like I earned my Pacific Northwest stripes last night, intentionally going for a picnic on a rainy January evening and having a GREAT time.

If you have a chance to make one of the later picnics, go for it.

How come no one wore this on the beach?
Found in the cargo hold at the end of the evening — who planned to sport this catchy number?

Tracy Morgan Jordan's Auto-Bio
This month, book club discussed Tracy Morgan’s new autobiography. I listened all via audiobook with the author narrating. It’s a quick one – I listened to it entirely in one long evening. Tonight, we discussed it.

Healthy Options!
A&B are back from Greece & visiting Seattle for the month. We met up with them at the Arboretum where B was holding a portrait day (he’s a fantastic photographer — see his link at BH Neely to the right). We followed that with anEzell’s Fried Chicken pickup and lunch at a nearby park. The closed concessions still had banners flying. I’m skeptical of these Healthy Options.

Frank's Birthday Pig
With work reconvening this week, I’m woefully behind in updates. I haven’t even told you about last week’s DimSumCouver 3 with the Gastrognome and new supporting characters Rocky, Cameo & Frank. Those epic days sure get short shrift. I’ll link back when I can. Anyhow.

Frank turned 30 and so tonight, we joined in with dozens of his friends to celebrate with a 50-lb Kau Kau pork roast.

Kappo Omakase
Tonight was an epic evening at Kappo for omakase. They’re moving from Fremont, and I wanted to visit them before they left. Six of us sat at the bar for a remarkable dinner by the personable & friendly Taichi.
Kappo Omakase
The Master, Taichi
Our menu:
A salad of mizuna greens & geoduck
Two kinds of oysters: Totten Virginica & …either Shigoku or Olympia
Miso soup with mustard, taro, and a chewy piece of rice dough – the dough symbolized longevity and this dish is only served in Japan during the 1st week of the year
Scallops and geoduck sauteed with 2 kinds of mushroom & mustard greens – pictured here.
A dish with turnips, shaved woodear mushrooms, lingcod and snowcrab with uni & wasabi on top
Sushi: sockeye, tuna, yellowfish, sea bream with yuzu & chili paste (my favorite), rockfish, and more I didn’t write down
Dessert: chestnut panna cotta with honey rum syrup
My favorites: the yellowfish nigiri, the sea bream nigiri, the miso and the dessert.
Maggi has pictures here. Kairu has her pictures here.

Chiso Kappo on Urbanspoon

the indian place lit up like it's vegas
This restaurant really got into the spirit over the holidays. I must have passed it a dozen times in the last two weeks. As you’re driving down Roosevelt, the brightness is so mesmerizing that I decided I needed to pull over tonight before they take down their decor. This is only about half of the building. I’d say it’s distracting, but — well — the sun’s making a pitiful appearance lately.

P.S. They serve a delicious neverending cup of chai here.

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