Cherry Blossom Trees

It’s that time of year where the weather is beginning to get warmer! This also means the Cherry Blossom Trees are in full bloom. If you are looking for something to do, I recommend finding the famous trees to take some photos. Maybe not necessarily the place we went but you can find these trees all over the city. Plus we got these adorable pictures which is pretty much the only reason I wrote this blog post-to share these photos and memory☺️.

Around this time last year, my husband and I took our son to UW to see the cherry blossom trees. It was insanely busy (my husband described the crowds as his own personal hell, haha) but I still made him walk around with me. We saw a very diverse group of people from students to grandparents to babies and kids. We noticed some families had an entire picnic set up with a tea kettle and tea cups and others brought in dim sum and take out orders. It was wild but also great to get out of the house as new parents and walk around with our 4 month old at the time.

I told my husband that we now have to do this every year and recreate the pictures of our boy since they turned out so great. Maybe this year we’ll try for a week day and will miss out on some of the crowds, but we will definitely be back to visit the cherry blossom trees and will carry on this new spring tradition!

DIY Nursery Transformation

My sons nursery was originally used as a room for storage, filled with unpacked boxes from when we first moved into our home. When we first moved in, we ripped out the stained carpet, closed the door and let the room sit for months. This was until we found out we were pregnant and knew we would have to get this room ready for our baby!

All of our bedrooms in our home are small with limited closet and storage space. I knew I wanted to transform the closet into something more functional, especially since babies need so many things. This was when I discovered the IKEA Pax closet system. Very affordable and customizable to fit your design and your space. It took a couple of weeks to get all the parts I wanted due to supplies being out of stock but I’m very happy with the end results and happy with how much we are able to pack into this closet (The Pax systems were also easy to build and put together-I did this 8 months pregnant)! I also ended up getting the Billy Book Case from IKEA and used it on the left side of the closet since there was more space but the smallest PAX base didn’t fit. This worked out great for toy storage and other misc. items. The bins in the bookcase are also from IKEA and fit perfectly. I added wallpaper to the back to make it look more like a finished custom closet and used drawer inserts to organize clothes.

The other huge transformation to this room was the hardwood floors. My husband rented a sander and sanded them all down, trying his best to get the deep stains and paint off. He used a clear coat to finish them off. The floor transformation is night and day!

We also decided to give the walls a fresh coat of paint. Choosing a color was very challenging since this room looks completely different depending on the light and the time of day. I also have a very hard time making decisions and being pregnant didn’t help (ha!). We went with the color Evergreen Fog from Sherwin Williams which was also the color of the year of 2021 when our son was born.

We ordered some new shades for the window, added a new light fixture, replaced the door/doorknob, replaced the trim and added quarter round to cover the small gaps on the floor, added trim around the closet (we may add bifold doors one day), replaced the light switch with a dimmer and then this room was ready (we finished everything probably about a week or two before our son was due-always last minute around here but we get it done)!

We love how this space turned out for our son and feel so proud to call this his room.

On the left is my last “bump picture” before my son was born and on the right is our son in his finished bedroom!

Hot Tub Boat Adventure – Seattle, WA

My husband Tommy and I celebrated 1 year of marriage last weekend! It’s so crazy to think a year has already passed by. I feel like we got married just yesterday and can’t believe how quickly time is going. I wanted to surprise Tommy with something fun and unique for our anniversary and stumbled upon Hot Tub Boats which is exactly as it sounds, a hot tub in a boat!

We rented our private Hot Tub Boat and cruised around Lake Union. It was SO MUCH FUN! Also so very easy to drive. There is a small joystick which you maneuver around to determine where you want to go. It felt like a video game. The boat goes about as fast as kayakers and felt very safe. It’s large enough to hold 6 people. There was also plenty of room around if we got too hot and wanted to sit outside the tub (I jumped into the lake to cool off).

We brought some boxed wine (super classy but ya know it’s a hot tub), put some music on the speaker and soaked in the views. Our rental was for 2 hours and this allowed us to make a loop by Gas Works Park and back.

We had an absolute blast! This was such a unique experience and definitely an adventure I won’t forget, especially to celebrate our 1 year of marriage. If you are in the Seattle area, I highly recommend renting a Hot Tub Boat, no matter what month it is. We are already looking forward to doing this again with a group of friends!

Classic at The Nile – A Golf Tournament and Fundraising Event

My husband came to me with the idea of creating a golf tournament a few weeks ago. He is an avid golfer and continues to get better every time he plays. I don’t golf (maybe one day) but I love planning, creating and organizing so we knew this event was something we could pull off. We then had the idea of turning the golf tournament into a fundraising event to help give back to the Black Lives Matter movement which we strongly support. This created Classic at The Nile.

The first step was choosing which organization to donate to. This was challenging because there are many amazing charities to choose from. We decided on American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) because of their core mission and values. “For nearly 100 years, the ACLU has been our nation’s guardian of liberty, working in courts, legislatures, and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and the laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country.” Some other organization I discovered specifically focusing on supporting Black youth and education are Black Girls Code, Pretty Brown Girl (PBG), The Conscious Kid.

The golf tournament consisted of 6 teams with a 4 man scramble (24 people total). This means that all players teed off, chose which shot was best, then all played their next shot from the best location.

The players were each given a golf goody bag upon their arrival. I used Canva to create this custom invitation to put inside each bags.

My best friend and I spent the afternoon following the players around the course, documenting the tournament by taking photos and videos. We left about half way through the tournament so we could get everything set up for the banquet. I used 1 hour photo at Walgreens to print pictures of the teams and gave them to each player as a souvenir to take home.

After the scramble, the golfers headed over to the outdoor banquet located nearby at our friends property (They graciously helped and let us host there. It couldn’t have worked out better). We spaced out tables and chairs in order to property social distance and provided individually wrapped Tubs Sub Sandwiches along with other ‘Covid friendly’ snacks and drinks (all food was prepackaged and individually wrapped – thanks Costco).

And what’s a golf tournament without awards and prizes? Here is what was awarded:

  • Scramble Champion – $50 Amazon gift card for each player on the 1st place winning team
  • Longest Drive – $100 Gift Card to Puetz Golf Superstore
  • Closest to KP – $100 Gift Card to Puetz Golf Superstore
  • MVPGolf Chipping Net
  • Best TeammateMariners Seat Fleet cutout
  • Most ImprovedBluetooth Earbuds
  • Amazing Hospitality – Portable Speaker and Husky Golf Head Cover given to the family who owns the banquet property

My husband handed out certificates with each award which I created on Google Slides. You can download an editable copy of them here.

We also had two options to receive prizes at the banquet. One was a challenging chipping game where the goal was to chip a golf ball into a large bucket. One golfer was able to do this and he received a $50 Amazon Gift Card. The other was How Many? where golfers guessed how many golf balls were in a jar. The prize was a golf cooler bag to hold beverages on the course.

Classic at The Nile was an incredible success. We raised $2,000 for ACLU while safely hosting a competitive and fun golf tournament! I am so very proud of my husband and all of his hard work on this. We had a blast organizing and creating this special day and feel empowered that we could make a small impact in giving back to the Black Lives Matter movement. I’m already looking forward to planning next years event!

Ain’t No Party Like A Disco Party!

Welp, it happened. I can no longer say, “I’m in my 20s” because last week I turned 30. THIRTY! Everyone always says this is such a big birthday. A milestone. A new chapter. That once you hit 30 you become an adult. What does that even really mean? (#foreveryoung) I was honestly looking forward to turning 30 because I love birthdays and celebrations in general. Plus most of my friends are already 30 so I was looking forward to joining the club.

Originally I wanted to spend my birthday traveling with my husband. When this was no longer an option due to everything going on in the world, I thought it would be fun to go to the beach or go someplace close to get away. From my 14th to 18th birthday, every year for 5 years I had a party at the beach/park close to where I grew up. We would swim, float, play games, run around in the sand + sunshine and of course eat endless fried chicken. If you are reading this and you know me from high school, chances are you were at the beach one of those years. 😉 Well instead of a beach party, my close friends and I decided to rent a house for the weekend about 2 hours away from Seattle. We had a themed Disco Dance Party and it was absolutely AMAZING! Seriously. So much fun.

We stayed at the most beautiful rental in Leavenworth, WA. Right on the river. Private beach. Hot tub. VolleyBall Court. BBQ. And enough bedrooms for everyone to sleep comfortably – because ya know, we’re 30 now and sleep is important.

We spent the days at the beach, blew up a bunch of inner tubes and floated on the river. When I say floated I mean we were either tied up to a rock or my husband ‘rope boy’ was making sure we were all attached and pulling us along. Well, until that moment when we weren’t and tried riding the current. A couple of us went a little too far but luckily rope boy ran down and got everyone before the extreme rapids. Later we barbecued, went in the hot tub, popped some champagne and played games. The day turned into a little beach party after all.

Saturday night was DISCO TIME! My thoughtful sister-in-law surprised me by bringing decorations for the living room Disco. All the classic 70s music was playing, pictures everywhere, balloons, glow sticks and of course the disco lights. She also had everyone contribute to a 30 Things We Love About You gift which made me feels so special (I made myself wait until I got home to read them because I knew I would get emotional. The night before I got teary-eyed when everyone was singing happy birthday. I was completely overtaken with happiness from being surrounded by my friends. Just feeling so very, very grateful and literally couldn’t speak. Tears of joy ❤️ ).

Everyone dressed up in 70s inspired outfits. Jumpsuits, Sparkles, Hoops, Fur, Tie-Dye, Bell-Bottoms, Sunglasses, Gold Chains, Wigs. Just the best.

We danced + sang all night. I had an absolute blast and still can’t stop thinking about all the fun moments from the weekend. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to enter this ‘new chapter’ of 30s. I have a feeling it’s going to be great.

4th of July on Lake Washington

When I think about the 4th of July, fireworks, BBQ’s and sunshine typically come to mind. I think about coming together on this holiday and spending time with loved ones. This year though, making plans to celebrate the 4th of July felt…different. Not only are we in the middle of a pandemic but leading up to this holiday, thousands of people across America have marched to protest the death of George Floyd, police brutality and systemic racism.

When the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776, many Black American ancestors were still slaves. I question – what is this holiday truly about? Is it mainly for White people to celebrate their patriotism? How are Black, Brown and Indigenous people represented? How can I celebrate freedom and independence when this is not the case for everyone, even today in 2020?

Leading up to this 4th of July I thought about these questions frequently. I talked with my family to understand their thoughts on this while scrolling Instagram to try to share other peoples perspectives with them, and to learn more. Instead of having a big typical 4th of July celebration, Tommy and I decided to spend the day with our close friends. It didn’t quite feel right completely decking ourselves out in patriotic clothing so we opted not to. We went to an outdoor BBQ in the afternoon then later cruised around Lake Washington and caught the sunset on our friends’ boat.

Don’t get me wrong, we had a great time! We ate the most delicious slow cooked brisket and the classic BBQ foods (hot dogs and all the salads..fruit salad, mac salad, pasta salad). Tommy jumped into Lake Washington off of the Bow even though the water was frigid. We watched the sun go down behind the trees while seeing pockets of fireworks light up the sky above local docks. Also the moon has never been brighter. It was a truly beautiful night.

So I think about the 4th of July today, and yes – there is a lot to celebrate. But there is also a lot of work to do. I think it’s important that we keep listening and keep having the tough conversations with each other as we reflect on what this holiday is all about.

Quarantine Goals Template

A couple of months ago I wrote a blog post about my Weekly Goals to try to hold myself accountable on things I want to accomplish each day. I have updated the goals template and discovered a way for you to download and edit your own goals right on your computer.

Click here to download, make a copy and start keeping track of your own Weekly Goals!

I have found this to be so helpful during quarantine and while teaching from home. Some days I really don’t feel like doing much at all or even getting out of bed. Having a check list of things I want to accomplish throughout the week has helped me stay on track and stay motivated. I also use it to reflect on the previous week. I hope you find this helpful as well!

Mother’s Day 2020

This year I am lucky enough to say I have not one, not two, but THREE amazing mamas to celebrate Mother’s Day with (my mom, my stepmom and my mother-in-law). Three beautiful women whom I admire and adore dearly.

On Saturday, my husband and I + my sister-in-law and her boyfriend planned a Mother’s Day brunch at my in-laws house. I made Norski Crepes for us to enjoy (a special recipe to my family that I used to make with my stepmom when I was little). I love to save this recipe for special occasions. Lots of butter, lots of sugar, so delicious.

Norwegian Pancakes/Norski Crepe Family Recipe

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup softened butter
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 cups milk

Mix butter and sugar together before adding other ingredients. Use 1/4 measuring cup to scoop batter out and cook on a medium high heated pan. Slightly move the pan around so batter thins out to one even layer. Once you see small bubbles, flip and cook on the other side for about 1 minute. Add your favorite filling, roll up and enjoy!

You can enjoy these with just about any filling/topping you like. Below is a list of what I used to compliment the crepes:

  • Fresh Blueberries
  • Fresh Strawberries
  • Sliced Bananas
  • Raspberry Jam
  • Nutella
  • Maple Syrup
  • Chocolate Sauce

Click here to download and print recipe.

On top of this we had bacon, deviled eggs, bloody marrys and mimoas. So, so good and so much fun enjoying brunch and each others company to celebrate this day.

Sunday was the second day of the Mother’s Day celebrations. This time I decided to order crepes from the amazing caterer I used at my wedding, The Tall Chef. I did this to support his business, for convenience and to compare my homemade crepes from the day before. Plus, the packaging and everything that came with it was adorable and perfect for what I had planned.

We had a lovely picnic at my favorite neighborhood park, took Edgar swimming in the lake and enjoyed the views and the sunshine. We also order and brought Ivars Fish + Chips to have a salty element mixed with all the sweets. Plenty of food, so very delicious. It was a wonderful early afternoon to celebrate my mom for Mother’s Day.

My final Mother’s Day celebration was a surprise visit to my dad + stepmoms house, complete with a sweet card and a beautiful bouquet of flowers from Dandy Flower Co. Of course Edgar also joined me and we all spent the late afternoon chatting and catching up (we hadn’t been able to talk or really see each other since the stay at home order in March). It was the perfect way to end the day and to celebrate my stepmom for Mother’s Day.

The weekend was full of lots of family time, lots of delicious crepes and spent with three incredible women who I am lucky enough to call mom.

Grateful List

The other day I was out walking my dog, heading to our usual park, when I noticed a mother and her young daughter walking in the opposite direction of me. The girl looked like a first grader, about 6 or 7 years old. I overheard her asking her mom where they could go explore. They were looking to find rocks to paint. She was so excited, smiling from ear to ear and loudly bouncing ideas off her mom about what she could paint. “A puppy! A sunflower! A pet rock for my teacher!” were some of her ideas. The mom’s smile and enthusiasm were just as big as her daughters. It was the shortest, most simple conversation but one that I continued to think about for the duration of my walk.

I couldn’t help but smile thinking about this family and this first grader. It was early afternoon on a Tuesday. The girl should have been in school (like me) and perhaps mom at work. Yet because we are in this pandemic, they were able to spend quality time together – exploring, painting rocks, having fun, making memories.

This made me think about how life can be perceived in many different ways, and what matters most is the way in which we choose to view it (the girl should be in school right now but can’t go, she’s falling behind because of the pandemic vs. the girl gets to have a special day spending time with her mom which she wouldn’t have had on a typical Tuesday). I thought about the many things to be grateful for right now during this uncertain time and decided to make my own list. Because when all of this is over, these are the things I want to remember.

I’m grateful for:

1. My husband. Being quarantined with my favorite person.

2. Our health. The ability to exercise. To wake up each day, pain free.

3. Our loving families. Their health.

4. Having the sweetest pup to go on long walks with. To keep me company.

5. The freedom to choose how I want to spend my day (while maintaining social distancing guidelines and getting my work done).

6. Zoom meetings with my best friends. Having people in my life who check in on me.

7. The ability to stay connected with my students. To see their smiling faces each week. For their parents and all the work they are doing at home.

8. Still having my job that I love. My paycheck. Financial freedom.

9. Our home. That feeling of comfort and safety. Where we live – the lake and parks surrounding us.

10. All the incredible essential workers working tirelessly, taking care of our community and keeping us safe. Including my mama.

Even the most simple things are things to be grateful for:

  • Bike rides.
  • Sunshine (and sometimes even sunburns).
  • Delicious meals made right from our kitchen.
  • Unconventional dates.
  • Long drives. Trips to Bellingham.
  • Netflix (especially The Office right now).
  • Sushi take out.
  • Barre workouts on Zoom.
  • My cozy weighted blanket.
  • Fuzzy house slippers.
  • John Legend live concerts on Instagram
  • Days of rest. Days of work. Days exploring
  • Secluded picnics. Beautiful views. Sunsets.
  • Conversations that make me smile.
  • Time – to slow down and to reflect.

Even with the world in the state that it is in, there is much to be grateful for. I think right now more than ever, it’s important to pause and think about these things. The things that bring us joy, that we appreciate, that we are thankful for, big or small – even if it’s something as simple as painting rocks.

Perception truly matters. What’s on your grateful list?

30th Birthday – Quarantine Style

It’s challenging to plan a birthday party in the middle of a pandemic, especially a 30th birthday. My husband Tommy turned 30 on April 10th and for his birthday we were planning on taking a two week road trip from Seattle to the Grand Canyon and back.

We were going to travel to Helena, MT to visit our friends, hike and then camp around there in this log cabin. From there the plan was to drive to Yellowstone, head to Salt Lake City, go to Antelope Canyon, travel to the Grand Canyon and end our trip in Portland. We wanted to rent a van from Escape Campervans (with a queen bed, kitchenette and everything you need for a great road trip) and we were planning on bringing our pup Edgar to make this a family adventure. Unfortunately we canceled since we’re in the middle of a corona crisis and had to come up with plan B for Tommy’s birthday.

I saw this Birthday Parade idea from a teacher I follow on Instagram who posted about celebrating her sons birthday. They had a parade of cars driving by, honking, yelling out the window, cheering, etc. So I thought, why not have a Surprise Drive by Birthday for my 30 year old hubs. This way he could still see all his favorite people while still maintaining social distancing. And WOW…it was amazing.

We started his birthday like any other person in quarantine would; by sleeping in late, lounging around the house, not getting dressed and staying in our pjs. We purchased the game Crash Bandicoot for xBox and played this for a good part of the day (I was obsessed with this game when I was younger, if you’ve never played I suggest getting it). Between racing on Crash Bandicoot for hours and getting up for parts of the day to be productive, I baked Tommy a birthday cake and we had Bloody Merrys (he still had no idea about the surprise planned for later).

Eventually I asked Tommy to shower and put on real clothes (remember we were lounging living the quarantine life) because I told him I wanted to take a picture of him opening his gift. For part of his gift I needed to have my laptop projected onto the TV and asked him to help me with this. At this point he was starting to wonder what was going on and said he was getting worried. He thought I was going to surprise him with a Zoom Birthday Meeting with all of his friends (something he specifically said he did not want).

I assured him we would not be having a Zoom meeting and instead played the video I made for him; 30 Reasons Why I Love You. By the end of the video we are both teary eyed and cracking up and I told him it’s time for his second surprise. Oh no, what. Oh no what are you planning, what are we doing; was what Tommy kept asking as I had him walk outside to the street.

I showed him the sign and balloons on my car and told him this was the surprise, to wait there so I could take his picture. At this point he’s starting to get suspicious, looks down the hill and sees the long row of cars about to drive up. He couldn’t believe it.

So many of Tommy’s closet friends and family members came out to celebrate him on his 30th! Cars were decorated with balloons + banners + streamers, bday signs were out, dogs + kids + babies in the backseats, sunroofs open, gifts passed through car windows (lots of delicious baked goods because ya know great quarantine hobby), lots of honking, lots of cheering. 14 cars total. It was awesome.

Among all the balloons and gifts was a bottle of Smirnoff Ice, so naturally Tommy got down on one knee and chugged it. After the parade a group of friends and family members parked on the street and the drive by parade turned into little block party (all while maintaining social distancing), with some champagne and cake to follow.

After everyone left, Tommy and I enjoyed the cake to ourselves since he blew out the candles and we didn’t want to spread germs to anyone. But dang! Three layer cake…it was good. Recipe from Half Baked Harvest. Highly recommend and I’m not usually a baker.

His final surprise was a Virtual Birthday Card from a website called Group Greeting (Thanks Brann for recommending this site!). You can choose from a variety of cards, send the link to friends + family to have them sign and then it gets emailed out whenever you schedule. You can also turn it into a PDF to print out and deliver in person. (Some offices have been using these to stay connected. Also there are more than just birthday cards on this site, could be used in lots of different ways).

Perhaps a Birthday Parade will become the new normal for a while. It might sound like a silly idea, but the impact of seeing the people who mean the most to you on your birthday is just incredible (even if it is just for a quick drive by moment). I definitely recommend planning or participating in this if you know of an upcoming birthday and are looking for a creative way to celebrate. Great for all ages, something to look forward to, gets the whole family out of the house, very unique, lots of laughter, lots of fun and so very memorable.