Friday, October 11, 2013

Washington State Fair

A few weeks back, Tina and I decided to check out the Washington State Fair.  We heard good things about it, particularly about the scones (which didn't sound like fair food to me, but whatever), and the weather was supposed to hold up enough to allow for a rain-free time.  So we asked some people from our church if they would be interested, and we found enough people to come with.  Below is the day, chronicled in photos.

We got to help move the giant pumpkin that this guy was going to carve.  We wanted to stay and watch him carve it, but he said it generally takes him 5 hours to finish a pumpkin.  So we left.

The Zwitt boys (my pastor's sons) went on a tractor ride.  They were supposed to pose for a photo before they got to ride the tractors, but I don't think they really understood what was going on.  Or wanted to.

There were lots of animals, as you'd expect from a state fair.

I finally get to try a scone.  This is probably my favorite photo from the day.  Partly because I am about to eat this scone, and partly because Moses is hanging out with me.

A group photo at the end of a long, but fun, day.  :)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Summer 2013

Summer has come and gone here in Seattle, and 2013 was an eventful one for Tina and me.  We didn't take nearly enough photos, but of the ones we were able to capture, there were a few that are worth showing.  So here goes...

Jen and Trudy came to visit again.  :)  We took them to Vancouver and stopped by Granville Island.  In my opinion, it's a nicer version of Pike Place.

Our good friends Carol and Jez got married in sunny SoCal.  Tina was in the wedding, and we got to see friends from NC, which is always pleasant.

My family came to visit, and we spent a dinner atop the Space Needle, with a nice panoramic view of the city.  We could spot our apartment complex!  Among other things, of course.  And the food was better than I thought it would be, especially considering it's such a touristy thing to do.

I took my family to Spray Falls near Mt. Rainier for a day trip.  It's hard to get to, but well worth it.

Tina and I went to Olympic National Park for our anniversary weekend.  Here she is dancing in a field of white flowers.  4 years of marriage... Time has flown.

I went to Hotlanta for a week to celebrate my boy Clement's wedding.  This is proof that we actually had a bachelor party in a cabin in the mountains.  This was the only photo I took all week.  Well, besides Instagram photos.  It was fun seeing these guyz again.

Our church had a retreat near Ocean Shores, WA.  It was a... cozy place.  But the fact that it was right by the ocean was super nice.  I enjoyed the time spent there.

Tina and I spent Labor Day weekend driving around Oregon.  I wanted to go see Crater Lake, so we took our time getting down there, stopping in Portland, Mt. Hood, and Eugene over 4 days.  I finally got some Voodoo Doughnuts, too.  I personally think it's a little overrated, but still tasty.  Thanks to Gloria Louie for her wide-angle lens, which made this selfie possible.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Long Time No Post

Apologies for the lack of posting, but to be honest, there hasn't been a whole lot to post, since winters in Seattle aren't particularly conducive to lots of activities.  But to fill you in on what has happened since last fall...

For Christmas, Tina and I went back to North Carolina to visit family and friends.

Dinner with the families.

Fun times with friends.

Fast forward to March 2013, and Tina and I are back in California..

We first visited Veronica and Kevin in San Jose, where they graciously hosted us and took us around to all of their favorite places to eat, including this ice cream / custard shop called Willow Glen.

We then drove down the coast, seeing many beautiful sights including this one.  It was nice to be able to just hop out of the car and walk around along the coastline.

We spent a night in Joshua Tree National Park, where we set up a tent in the middle of park.  We had to hike a little ways to get out here, but it was worth it.

Tina then went to Carol's bridal shower in the LA area.

Fast forward another month or two...

The cherry blossoms at the University of Washington were in bloom, so Tina and I go check them out.

Tina celebrates her birthday with friends at Mediterranean Kitchen in Bellevue. 

Tina and I go hiking up Mt. Si, which is an intense hike, but it's worth it for the great views at the top.

Tina's mom comes to visit us in Seattle.  We are only able to spend a day with her, but we take her to a few parks, including Gasworks.

We are excited for the summer, because a lot of things are happening - visits, traveling, weddings, the sun.  Hopefully we'll be able to keep you all in the loop as they happen.  :)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Trip to Los Angeles

A few weekends ago, Tina took Monday and Tuesday off from work, and we decided to take a trip out to the sunny city of LA.  I think it was a much-needed break for Tina, and it was great to see friends. 

We arrived Friday night, and on Saturday, Tina shot a wedding with Carol while I hung out with Laura and Andrew.  We had lunch at Porto's Bakery with Lawrence (sorry, no photo).  Then Laura took Andrew and I to the Huntington Gardens, where we saw lots of cacti, ate strange fruit, and read the Gutenberg Bible.  It was a very nice place, but it was huge and we weren't able to see it all.  I think I got enough of a feel for it to know that I'd like to go back on a future trip to LA.  For dinner, we ate with Tara at Musha Pasadena, a Japanese tapas bar that was quite delicious.  Tara was in LA for a health care conference, so the timing was perfect!  :)

Dinner with Laura and Tara at Musha.

Sunday morning, before Tara had to go back to NC, we ate at Huge Tree Pastry, which was probably my favorite meal of the trip.  It was a Taiwanese breakfast full of soy milk, "oil sticks" (you tiao), flaky pastry bread? (sao bing), scallion pancakes, sweet tofu (dou hua), and my favorite: sticky rice wraps (fan tuan).  I probably wrecked the English translations, but hopefully you get the point.  It was delicious.

Dou hua with soymilk in the background.

Fan tuan.  So tasty.

The rest of Sunday was spent at the Grammy Museum in downtown LA, followed by a meal at UMAMIcatessen, which is part of the Umami Burger chain.  The burgers were ok, but I was most impressed with their home-made ketchup.  And it's hard to go wrong with cheese tots.

On Monday, we started the day with a meal at Dorados Ceviche Bar, which had awesome ceviche.  We don't get a lot of that in NC or Seattle, so it was a good choice for a meal.  Plus I ate too many tostada chips.

The ladies at Dorados Ceviche Bar.

We then spent most of the afternoon in Santa Monica.  First at the beach, then at the Promenade.

Laura and Carol playing Laura's paddle ball game at the beach.  I think the record for the day was set by Laura and Tina, but I don't remember their score.  We spent a lot of time playing this game.  And just sitting on the beach, which was nice too.

Dinner that night was at Road to Seoul in Korea town.  All-you-can-eat Korean BBQ = amazing.  Plus, they had a pretty nice selection of meats to choose from.  Laura and I were of course distracted by the Monday Night Football game going on in the background, but it was still good to eat with Jez and his brother Philo.

All in all, a wonderful and relaxing trip.  Thanks to our wonderful friends for helping make it happen!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Snow Lake

Tina and I took a day-trip to Snow Lake for some hiking on one of her rare days off.  It was a cloudy day, and a bit chilly as well.  But the rain didn't come to ruin our day, and it was still an enjoyable hike.

We had to climb up a mountain in order to climb down to the lake.  There were some nice views on the climb up.

Our flight up the mountain made us quite warm, but as we descended down to the lake, things definitely got chilly.

Tina by the lake. :)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Dumpling Party

After Jackie and John (probably more so Jackie than John) heard about my attempt at making home-made dumplings, they (and we) insisted on having a dumpling party.  So Tina and I invited them over, they brought over Albert, and we had ourselves a party.  

Of course, we allocated different roles for different people.  I started off making and rolling the skin (my favorite part of home-made dumplings are the home-made skin).  John and Albert were assigned the role of stuffing and folding the dumplings.  Jackie is in the background prepping the filling for her wontons (which were absolutely delicious, by the way).  She ended up making a shrimp, pork, and bok choy filling, but I think what made everything so tasty was the sauce she used - a spicy chili sauce reminiscent of what they use at Din Tai Fung, with cilantro on top.  Very good.

After some time, we switched roles.  Jackie finished her filling and came to the table to help make the dumplings.  Albert switched over to skin rolling, and Tina also started to make some dumplings.

John started getting ambitious with his dumpling-making, and decided to see what types of shapes he could turn his dumplings in to.

This is what resulted.  From left to right: Dumpling Camel (or Dog?  Or some sort of animal?), Dumpling Cube, and Dumpling Pyramid.  I was impressed at his ability to manipulate the skin and make these shapes.  It wasn't an easy feat.

Final layout of the meal.  On either side were dumplings, and in the middle was bok choy (top) and the spicy wontons that Jackie made (bottom).

Needless to say, we were all very happy at the final product.  I think we were also all very impatient while taking this photo, because all we wanted to do was eat.  It takes a good amount of discipline to want to take a group photo when there's delicious food right in front of you waiting to be eaten, and you're pretty hungry because you've spent much of the evening preparing it.  It was a fun time, and I hope we get to do it again soon.  :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sabina Visits

Tina and I hadn't seen Sabina since we got married (3 years ago), so it was great to catch up with her.  She told us how glad she was that we were now on the West Coast and we'd be able to see each other more.  Because of Tina's schedule, we didn't have enough time to take a trip up to Vancouver, so Sabina came down to see us instead.  As you'll see by the photos below, we did a lot of eating.

We first went to Din Tai Fung in Bellevue, a famous restaurant known for its xiao long bao (soup dumplings).  Originating in Taipei, the owner brought its recipes and popularity over to America, opening two locations in LA and one in Seattle.  Was it good?  Yes, it was very good.  Was it the best I had ever had?  Not sure.  I have a feeling the original restaurant in Taipei would probably produce better xiao long bao - the ingredients are probably different, even though the recipe is the same.  But it was still great food.

Group picture with the xiao long bao.  I was surprised at how quickly everything came out, but I suppose they have to make a lot in a short amount of time to meet the demand.  We went early to beat the crowds, but I heard the wait for a table can get ridiculous during busy hours.

Tina and I with the xiao long bao and veggie dumplings.  We also got a taro-filled xiao long bao, which was as interesting as it sounds.  The filling was great, but I think I personally prefer the fluffy bao exterior over the dumpling-style skin for sweets.

Tina wanted to take a picture with the Din Tai Fung mascot.

Later that day, we went to Volunteer Park, where there was an outdoor concert going on.  Whole Foods was handing out free fruit popsicles, so we gladly accepted.  The rest of the day was spent walking around or watching episodes of Tin Tin.  

The following day, we went to the Broadway Street Farmer's Market, hoping to find some lunch there.  Instead, we decided to go to Plum Vegan Bistro, in part because Sabina prefers not to eat meat.  You can read the Yelp review I wrote, but to summarize it: it was very salty.  It's interesting how some vegan restaurants can try really hard to imitate non-vegan things, when they could probably make good food by just making food without using animal products as ingredients (they had imitation mac n cheese, ricotta cheese, vegan crepes, etc. - I think they just tried too hard).  It was good to check out a new restaurant, though.

Group photo at Plum Vegan Bistro.

Later that day, we walked to Melrose Market, where we experienced an interesting outdoor festival going on.  Then we headed to the International District, walked / shopped around for a bit, and decided to go to Spring Garden for Vietnamese food.

Group photo at Spring Garden.  Sabina and I ordered pho, which was not bad.  Tina had lemongrass beef with vermicelli, which she enjoyed.

Overall, it was a fun weekend.  The weather held up nicely, we were able to check out new restaurants, and most importantly, we got to spend some time with Sabina.  Next on the list of places to visit is Vancouver!