Feelin’ Texan and a Date Dilemma

Howdy!

So, as you know, I spent the weekend in the Lonestar State! We did a bit of city hopping (Dallas to Austin to San Antonio), but the main reason for going was to celebrate the wedding of Sean’s cousin, Andrew, in Dripping Springs (which meant a visit to Texas Hill Country!).

The day before the wedding, we spent some time in the adorable town of Wimberly, TX. Sean says I stick out like a sore thumb in Texas, but I’m okay with that. After all, you can take the gal out of Northern Virginia, but you can’t take the NoVA out of this gal, hehe.

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Wimberly is a really cute town, with these giant cowboy boots decorated by various local artists set up throughout the entire area. I also fell in love with this popcorn place that seriously changed my life. Dill Pickle and Jalapeno Cheddar popcorn?! Cinnamon Toast Kettle Corn? Be still my snack-loving heart! Good thing they ship nationwide, because I may or may not be making serious plans for a popcorn bar at the wedding…

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Aaanyway, as I mentioned in my previous post, the rehearsal dinner was at the world-famous BBQ joint, The Salt Lick. I was so excited to finally get to try this place out, I couldn’t even hide it (hence my excited face posted above.) I knew 2,200+ Yelp reviews couldn’t be wrong about this place, and thankfully, it all lived up to the hype.

It. Was. Awesome. I ate my body weight in delicious smoked meat and it was everything I thought it would be. The brisket? Moist and juicy. The pork ribs? Fall-off-the-bone tender. Even the house-made pickles knocked my socks off! Oh, if only there was barbeque like this in Northern VA!

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The next day, we had some time to kill before the wedding, so we spent some time exploring Dripping Springs (they were having a festival), and also visiting the Deep Eddy Vodka Distillery, which apparently just recently moved out of Austin to set up shop in Dripping Springs.

Then, it was wedding time! The whole thing was incredibly beautiful — all country chic (Catelyn, the bride wore an allover lace dress with cowboy boots) and rustic elegance. The venue was gorgeous and they got super lucky with the weather, too — it rained, stormed, and was intensely humid every day EXCEPT for the day of the wedding, which was temperate (still hot, of course — I mean, it is Texas — but not muggy) and sunny.

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Of course, with a wedding of my own around the corner, I was taking some mental notes on all of the amazing and beautiful things that they did to celebrate Andrew & Catelyn’s big day. I particularly loved that the bride & groom were already seated for dinner when everyone else came in from cocktail hour. That way, they were able to actually eat and enjoy each other’s company before the hubbub of being announced and launching into their first dance, etc.

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Just from these terrible iPhone photos alone, you can probably tell what a gorgeous venue and setup it was. Aside from the beautiful ambiance, great food, and ridiculously good band, however, it was also just wonderful to meet all of the extended family on Sean’s dad’s side. The Foxes are an awesome group! Now I’m even more excited to take on that moniker myself someday, hehe.

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Speaking of which… after much visitation and deliberation, I have finally chosen my wedding venue! Sean and I will be getting married at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial!

You know that humongous tower that sticks straight up out of Old Town Alexandria when you drive by? Well, that’s the place! It’s gorgeous and grand and has a ton of history — both generally (George Washington was the Charter Master of this lodge), and personally (turns out my grandfather and great-grandfather were both lifelong Masons!).

It’s got a very iconic DC-feel, while still being in Northern Virginia (huzzah!), and the interior is full of high ceilings, marble floors, grand staircases, and enormous columns. I love it! It has a beautiful theatre inside (where the opening scene of National Treasure 2 was filmed!) which will be the ceremony space, and then this cool sunken ballroom on the ground floor to host the reception. It also has a wicked observation deck at the very tippity top that offers incredible views of the surrounding area.

Funnily enough, the Masonic Memorial wasn’t even originally on my list of potential venues, but after I wrote my post about my venue search, my friend Clare mentioned that I should take a look at it (her sister got married there), and I ended up making a super impromptu visit and simply fell in love!

Unfortunately, while I do have a venue picked out, I still haven’t decided what to do as far as the actual wedding date. Maybe you guys can actually help out in that regard. See, for a long time now, I’ve had visions of a winter wedding dancing in my head. You know, crisp winter air, cool winter light, long dresses with faux fur stoles, deep colors and warm drinks, lights, snow, the whole shebang.

So when the time came to pick a date, I thought that a January wedding was pretty much a no-brainer. After all, Sean’s and my anniversary is already in January, plus it does have additional advantages, like being in the wedding off-season (vendors sometimes offer off-season discounts), being during Ben and Taylor‘s downtime (my brother and sister-in-law are wedding photographers), and not competing with a zillion other brides getting married the same weekend. Seriously, I think I saw at least half-a-dozen different weddings on Facebook from this past weekend in addition to Sean’s cousin’s!

So, January 23rd became my golden date, just a few days before our four-year anniversary.

However, as you can see, here I am, venue selected but still dateless. Turns out, I’m a bit gunshy when it comes to actually pulling the trigger on the date. The major reason has to do with the fact that Sean is concerned (understandably!) about how weather will affect people traveling from out of town. He makes some good points about people potentially not being able to attend because of it, and I think that’s become my biggest hangup. So I did inquire about some early Spring dates that the venue has available, and now March 12th and April 2nd are under consideration as well. (I’ve definitely ruled out anything remotely close to Summer — I’m sure I’ll be sweaty enough without the help of 90-degree weather, thanks — and Fall is out due to timing — this Fall is way too soon, next Fall is too far away.)

See, on the one hand, I don’t want anybody to be straight-up unable to attend my wedding due to something as silly as weather. And there’s just no telling what it’ll be like on the day of, and that is pretty stressful. (Not that I haven’t tried — guess how many times I Googled some variation of “January wedding weather predictor,” hahaha.)

I mean, if it were to snow on the day of, I’d actually be totally fine with it (I love snow!) but if it were to snow a crapton? This area just doesn’t do very well with snow, and even local people might have trouble getting around. And what if, Heaven forbid, it’s icy? I feel like it doesn’t tend to snow as heavily or get quite as icy in January around here but you never know…

On the other hand, weather is unpredictable no matter when you get married, especially in this area. We’ve had freak snowstorms in October and March, we get plane-delaying thunderstorms in April, and the like. Plus, I mean, it’s not like people don’t ever travel during January… and at least flights/hotels would probably be cheaper in the DC area in winter vs. in Spring. And then, of course, a Spring wedding doesn’t exactly fit into my whole wedding vision…

Butttt, like I said. Torn.

Anyway, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on the matter — I know that asking for opinions when it comes to wedding planning can be overwhelming (especially because people tend to have a LOT of opinions when it comes to weddings, hahaha), but I’m honestly so torn right now I think it’d be helpful to hear from other people.

What time of year did you get married? Would you be hesitant to attend a winter wedding?

Breakfast, Onesies, and Technicolor Schnauzers

Well, it’s official: I am twenty-seven years old. Do you think that makes me an adult yet?

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Actually, don’t answer that.

As I mentioned in my last post, I celebrated this year’s birthday with a festive pajama jam breakfast party!

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Instead of my usual MO of putting together a themed excuse to get drunk birthday party, I opted to do someting more low-key and daytime-friendly. So, this year, friends donned their PJs and came over in the AM (well, late AM) for some scrumptious brunch treats!

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I put together a brunch table full of goodies, including a cereal bar, mimosa bar, little breakfast canapes, and even whipped up a batch of waffle iron hashbrowns.

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For the cereal bar, I put out four kinds of cereal (Cheerios, Cocoa Puffs, Lucky Charms, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch) and four kinds of milks (almond, 2%, chocolate, and skim). In retrospect, I probably should have put out one non-sugar cereal, and skipped the skim milk (which apparently nobody likes, hahaha.)

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The breakfast canapes were made from mini Eggo waffles topped either with whipped cream and a strawberry or brushed with maple syrup and a small piece of bacon. They were the hit of the party! Super delicious and fun to eat.

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The waffle iron hashbrowns were outta this world, too. All you do is pick up a bag of frozen tater tots from the grocery store and pop ’em into the waffle iron. Squish ’em down and let them cook! They get perfectly crisp on all sides and turned out way better than cooking tots in the oven. I am a waffle iron believer now!

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The mimosa bar was a lot of fun, too! I got four different kinds of juices — orange, orange mango, grapefruit, and guava — and had some additional fruit for folks to pop into their glass. I kept the champagne on ice and, voila!

Of course, the very best part of having a breakfast-themed birthday party is the fact that for your cake, well… see for yourself.

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Isn’t it beautiful? Donut cake > regular cake.

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Ta-da! Birthday pajama jam brunch success!

If you’re thinking about doing a breakfast bar for an upcoming event, I say definitely do it! It was really easy to set up (the biggest thing is just having enough pitchers/serving bowls), and of course picking up supplies at the grocery store is easy and relatively inexpensive.

Plus, Pikachu onesie aside, I think it’s a very elegant way to present breakfast/brunch. This sort of thing would be perfect for a bridal shower, baby shower, or mother’s day celebration in addition to birthdays. It would also be really fun to do brinner (breakfast for dinner) for a nighttime party!

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Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that I dyed Daxter and Pixel for the occasion, heeeeeeeee. 😀

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Now they’re ready for Spring! (Don’t worry, I used completely animal-safe, vegetable-based dye.)

And so, alas, my twenty-seventh birthday has come and gone. But something tells me that 27 is going to be my very best year yet. I can’t wait to see what’s to come!

Hello Fresh!

Howdy folks! Long time no chat. I’ve been keeping crazy busy planning Northern Virginia’s next YELPER PARTY!

I’m throwing Yelp’s Fire & Ice Ball at the Hilton McLean Tysons Corner on April 19th, and Y-O-U are invited! This event is one giant extravaganza celebrating all things Northern VA. Pick out your best red or white evening wear, because I promise you, this is one night not to be missed. And best of all, it’s totally FREE!

This is my one event that literally anyone can attend, and I’d love for you to be there! Just head over to Yelp.com/Events now to RSVP, it’s easy as that! And feel free to share with family, friends, whomever!

Aside from planning the Fire & Ice Ball, I’ve been trying to lay relatively low. I had my second trip to Savannah for work a couple weeks ago, during which I got to see my favorite sister and niece again.

 
And I also have been trying out one of those meal prep delivery service things — Hello Fresh!

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Everything comes pre-portioned and ready to cook with, which is super convenient, and all the recipes I’ve tried so far have been great!

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Even though I already cook quite a bit (and enjoy doing so), I still find I’m learning quite a bit from the Hello Fresh meals I’ve been sent. Namely, the fact that they’re not always things I’d necessarily prepare myself is really helping me break out of my regular rotation of meals.

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The ingredients are also REALLY quality. They are delicious and VERY fresh (I mean, I guess they’d have to be, with a name like Hello Fresh, ahaha.) I actually find that they last longer than the week in which they’re delivered, so even if you get busy with other plans, you’ve got a while to make each dish. Plus, worst comes to worst, you can always freeze the protein and re-purchase the other ingredients if you really needed to.

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The price is $60 per box for two people, and each box comes with 3 meals. So, it’s not the cheapest option ever, but you can put your account on hold as frequently as you like, and it has been a lot of fun at least! Plus, if you’re interested in trying it out, I have a code you can use for $40 off your first box. So it’s only $20 to try (and I get an extra $20 to put towards my next box, too.)

So if you’re interested in trying out Hello Fresh, just use code SL7Z3J for $40 off your first box!

Hopefully I’ll be able to get back into the groove of regular posting soon, since the beginning rush prepping for my Yelper Party is starting to wane a smidge (now it’s just juggling LOTS of logistics, heh.) And with my birthday around the corner (the BEST DAY OF THE YEAR) as well, I hope to have more fun stuff to update you on as well! Alas, in the meantime… see you on the flipside!

Have you tried any meal prep delivery services (Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, etc) before?

Baby, It’s COLD Outside

At the time of my writing this post, it is 12 degrees outside.

Oh, but don’t worry, if that doesn’t seem cold enough, with wind chill it actually feels like 4 degrees. That ish be COLD.

Sometimes I think about the fact that I went to high school in Canada, and wonder how I did it. I mean, it gets WAY colder than 4 degrees in Ottawa, and I still managed to make it to school every day without complaining too loudly (and in my school uniform, no less!)

A-hem. Anyway.

Other than complaining incessantly about the bitter cold, I spent my weekend doing what most of you did this weekend as well: celebrating Valentine’s Day!

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The highly accurate Valentine’s Day card I got for Sean.
Sean and I actually celebrated a day early by going out to dinner on the 13th. He surprised me with reservations to one of the restaurants on my personal DC Bucket List: Sushi Taro!

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Sushi lover that I am, Sushi Taro has been at the very tippy top of my to-try list for many moons, so obviously I was thrilled that Sean booked us a table at this hyper-authentic, amazing Japanese restaurant.

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They were offering a special Valentine’s Day kaiseki menu this weekend, which included a heckuva lot of deliciousness, and some adventurousness, too! So, without further adieu, I present to you, my dinner:

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The kaiseki menu kicked off with a champagne cocktail made with plum wine and a yamamomo fruit, and I also ordered an additional cocktail… called the Hello Kitty cocktail. Heh. I mean, c’mon I couldn’t NOT order it!

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The Hello Kitty was made with those little sweet Japanese cultured milk/yogurt drinks you can find in the Asian supermarket, which brought me straight back to my childhood — except in a, y’know, more drunk-y way, It was the most fun color, and was served with a Pocky stick, so obviously I loved it.

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Then came out first appetizer, Sushi Taro’s signature cold sesame tofu, topped with Maryland blue crab. I loved it — the texture was so smooth and creamy, and the blue crab was crazy delicious. I’m not sure Sean was as big a fan of this first dish, but I definitely would order this again, no question.

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Course #2 was a tempura’d lobster cake with bamboo shoots. Light and crispy and tasty and delicious, this went down way too fast.

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Then came what we were really waiting for: the sashimi platter. Holy smokes, was this thing BEAUTIFUL. Their plating and presentation is really unparallelled. It was almost too pretty to eat!

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Almost. Heh.

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The sashimi platter included salmon, mackerel, red snapper, oysters, smoked bonito, and a gorgeous lightly cooked lobster tail, and it was all incredible. The fish melted in my mouth like buttahhhhhh, mmm.

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You’d think that the sushi platter would be the be-all and end-all of reasons to come out to Sushi Taro, but believe it or not, what followed was even more incredible. We were treated to real Japanese Wagyu beef in the form of sukiyaki — Japanese hot pot.

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The presentation on this was tremendous fun as well. You get a large stone holster with burning embers inside, and a pot of sweet and savory (umami!) broth simmering on top. Then you get thin slices of raw Wagyu beef on the side, along with a cold poached egg.

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As for the eating, you put the slices of Wagyu beef into the broth to cook them (they cook SUPER fast) and then break your poached egg and dip the beef into the egg before eating.

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You know, I’ve eaten a lot of cows in my life, but I can honestly say I have never had beef like this before. The incredible marbling that comes with Wagyu makes each bite — even with slices as thin as these! — so amazingly tender and flavorful. It just melted onto my tongue. My mouth is literally filling with saliva just thinking about this course. Guff.

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Anyway, not to be outdone by its meatier counterpart, the next course was just as satisfying for a sushi lover like me. Bring on the nigiri!

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We were each served a piece of king yellowtail, zuke tuna, and aji mackerel, and each was sushi perfection. This course came with a plum salt on the side which I thought was particularly interesting — it was like a ground up version of the salted plums my mom makes me suck on when I have a sore throat.

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Then came a quick palette cleanser of lobster miso soup, which, if I’m being totally honest, didn’t taste that much different from regular miso soup. And it could have been hotter, as well. But this is really the only thing out of the entire meal that didn’t absolutely blow my mindhole.

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And the soup was VERY quickly forgotten anyway, because we had more nigiri coming! Our final sushi course included a piece of fatty tuna, our choice of ikura (salmon roe) or uni (sea urchin), and unagi (freshwater eel). This came with a green tea salt on the side of the dish. Sean and I both opted for uni, but then he pansied out and didn’t want to try try his, so I got TWO pieces of uni! Bwahaha.

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Uni was everything I thought it would be. Honestly, I can’t believe I’d gone so long without every having it! It is all smooth creaminess from start to finish, and was such a memorable way to end the savory portion of our meal.

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Of course, you can’t end an epic meal like this without something sweet, so for our final course we each got a slice of Belgian chocolate mousse cake and some hot tea. It was light and fluffy and the perfect slice of sweetness to cap things off!

So there you go, one seriously epic Valentine’s meal on the books! Sean’s gonna have a hard time topping this next year, that’s for sure! On actual Valentine’s Day we played it low-key with lunch and a movie — we saw Kingsman: The Secret Service and it was great! Not exactly a Valentine’s movie in the traditional sense, hehe, but still a ton of fun. Two thumbs up!

I hope all of you had a great weekend as well, whether you decided to celebrate Valentine’s Day, Galentine’s Day, Single Awareness Day, or just, well, Saturday!

Blue Steel & Broadway

Hola amigos!

First things first: apologies for failing to give you the ol’ hair update back on Friday! The light gray of old has given way to…

 
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It’s now this awesome blue-ish gray with a dark base on top. It looks totally different depending on the light (sometimes darker and more blue, sometimes more like a slate gray) and I’m loveloveloving it. Hair Master Linh has done it again!

I took my new hair out for a spin several times over the weekend, first with a couple of nice snowy walks with this trio of mischief makers:

Actually, make that a couple of very WINDY, snowy walks:

Love seeing those ears flopping in the wind, hehe.

Saturday night was spent celebrating my coworker Mike’s birthday with an epic Chinese feast at Shanghai Lounge — if you’re ever looking for a seriously solid authentic Chinese restaurant in Georgetown, I highly recommend this place. Their szechuan green beans are OUT OF THIS WORLD and the xiao long bao ain’t bad either. The new management is wonderful (the manager is SO friendly!) and the food was so good I couldn’t even restrain myself long enough to take photos of it — THAT’s how good it was.

Then, yesterday while most people were watching some kind of football game or something, I went to the theatre, dahhhhling.

I went to see Gigi at the Kennedy Center, which is showing on its pre-Broadway preview run. This revival stars High School Musical alum Vanessa Hudgens as the titular character, which is, let’s be honest, given my totally age- and taste-inappropriate appreciation for that particular Disney franchise, is the main reason why I wanted to go.

 
But, as it turns out, it was a seriously delightful musical! I am always a bit skeptical of seeing a show in its preview form — a lot of the time, there are still a lot of kinks they are working out and changes that will be made. When I saw If/Then starring Idina Menzel while it was in previews at the National Theatre, I was admittedly unimpressed. Not by Idina, of course, since she is flawless, but by the show itself. They had a lot of stuff to work out, including the staging, dancing, and even the songs.

But Gigi? I would see this show as-is on Broadway today! It was really well done. Everything from the costumes to the set design to the music was wonderful — and I thought Vanessa Hudgens really held her own! She was well-cast as Gigi, as her youthful singing voice really worked for the purposes of her character. The entire musical just screams “FUN” from start to finish, and I had a huge smile on my face for most of the evening.

The show really harkens back to the golden days of musical theatre, which is something that the theatre geek in me absolutely adores. It’s all about big group numbers and lots of dancing, seamless scene transitions and even addressing the audience. Again, it’s just so FUN! Gigi’s already been given approval to transition to Broadway in March, so if you didn’t get a chance to catch it here in DC, it’ll be in the Big Apple before long!

So that catches us up to today — I can’t believe it’s February! This is what I’ve officially deemed my “Hell Month,” as it’s going to be pretty much nonstop from start to finish. Between all my Yelp’s Fit Club events, my upcoming work trip to Savannah (I’m interviewing folks for the position of Yelp Community Ambassador there — we’re still accepting applications if you know of anyone who might be interested!), and a myriad of other things, I’m pretty sure I’m just going to be a giant ball of stress from now until the 28th.

But! It’s all really good stuff, too, so I know I shouldn’t complain too much. I just am not used to being so busy! With, like, real, legit stuff! Not busy doing, you know, nothing. Which is the kind of busy I prefer to be.

So, wish me luck this month — and maybe I’ll see some of you local cats out at a Fit Club event? I should be easy to spot because I’ll be the one who is dead. Since I also forgot to mention that in addition to the bazillion fitness classes I’ll be attending this month, I’m also moving on to Phase B of P90 today (finally!) so… stay tuned on how that turns out, heh.

Happy Monday!