Engagement Paparazzi

I gotta say, one of the real perks of having a wedding photographer duo as your brother and sister-in-law is a lightning quick turnaround time on your engagement photos, hehe.

 

That’s riiiiight, our engagement photos from Taylor & Ben are back, and I’m in lovelovelove! So many great shots of Sean and me together!

See, whereas I basically put my entire life on the interwebs for all to watch, observer, and comment on, Sean, um, doesn’t. He changes his Facebook profile photo like once every other year, the only thing even close to social media that he participates in is Reddit (and even then, he mainly lurks, never comments). What this all equates to is a high level of resistance to the number of selfies I try to take of us. In fact, trying to get him to pose for a photo with me often results in, well:

Heh. So, imagine how wonderful it was for me to have a built-in excuse to take a plethora of pictures together with him! He was a very good sport about the entire thing, putting up with an outfit change (we literally changed in the street, hahaha) and multiple locations. Although, to be fair, he certainly got his jollies out of the whole experience too — telling me I had an imaginary bug in my hair, or bear-hugging the crap outta me, for example.

Of course, that being said, I was not without a few bloopers of my own, hehe:

Is it weird that these are some of my favorite ones? 😛

We shot our photos outside the US Botanical Gardens, as well as at Blind Whino, this really cool old church-turned-art gallery/event space in SE DC.

 
Now, it’s admittedly very difficult for me not to be super critical of myself in every photo, zeroing in on flaws that I imagine nobody else really cares about. Even with all of my preaching about loving thyself no matter your pant size, body love, and whatnot (all of which I really do believe!), I am still my own worst critic.

But I think having these photos taken is genuinely helping me live those things. I love these pictures — I love what they represent, what they portray, and I even love the way I look in them. I feel like they really showcase how truly happy I feel (cheesy, I know, but true!). Do I still wish that I didn’t have a back roll in one picture, or that my chin was jutted a little further out in another? Sure, but not enough to make me stop loving each photo nonetheless.

These pictures are a true, perfectly imperfect account of who I am now. The me that is getting to marry the man that I love. And I would much rather show the photos off than hide them away just because I don’t like the way a certain specific part of my body might be looking.

Anyway, enough with the heavy. Back to how much I freaking love the photos we took at Blind Whino! So colorful, despite the chain-link fence surrounding the building that I definitely did not realize would be there, hahaha.

 

As an extra bonus, the building is located in this really quiet neighborhood in DC, so we were able to get a few street/crosswalk shots as well! I loved the way the trees arched over this street. Made for a pretty perfect picture, I tell ya.

Also, a fun thing about shooting photos in the middle of the street is that you will get people shouting “Congratulations!” from their cars as they drive by, hahaha!

Engagement Shoot solo pictures together

I was superextraspecial excited (hard to imagine something beyond my normal level of excitement, I know, but it’s true!) to get these photos back because I have been chomping at the bit to send out our Save the Dates!

I know that January is still relatively far off, but since we have a lot of friends and family from out of town, plus with the proximity to the holidays, I want to give people as much notice as possible. Plus, I think I’m just looking to how official it’ll feel to have something printed with our wedding date on it, y’know?

Not without difficulty, we have narrowed down the Save the Date photo to these three, and I’d love your input! I definitely want to use a photo with the ampersand in it, so what do you think of the following? 1, 2, or 3?

I love all color going on in #1, but the overall image of #2 seems more striking. And while part of me thinks that #3 might be a little silly, well, so I am. So it’s definitely the most personality-ish one. Anyway, I’d love to hear your thoughts! I’m like 99% positive we’ll be doing a magnet Save the Date if that makes any difference.

I also can’t wait to get some of these photos uploaded to the wedding website that I’ve been working on! And to replace basically every profile photo I’ve ever had on any website ever. And to make it my phone wallpaper. And computer screensaver. And basically just pore over them obsessively forever and ever and ever and… okay, I should really go.

‘Til next time!

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!

Untitled
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!

Untitled Untitled
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.

332A0517
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:

332A0522 332A0523
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!

332A0529 332A0531
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.

332A0525
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.

332A0528
Course #2 was a tempura’d lobster cake with bamboo shoots. Light and crispy and tasty and delicious, this went down way too fast.

332A0532
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!

332A0536
Almost. Heh.

332A0534
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.

332A0543
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.

332A0541 332A0544
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.

332A0546
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.

332A0549
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.

332A0551
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!

332A0550
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.

332A0554
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.

332A0556
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.

332A0557
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.

332A0558
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!

Iron Chef Gretchen

Hey, hey, hey! I hope everyone had a great weekend! I most certainly did, thanks to a myriad of reasons, really, but a big part of that was attending Taste of Georgetown on Saturday!

IMG_5669

I love “Taste of” events because they really appeal to that part of me that is never satisfied only being able to order one thing off a menu. I’m too indecisive! I’d always rather get a bunch of things to share (or at least steal food from my friends’ plates, hehe) because I am greedy like to sample lots of different things.

IMG_5671

In addition to getting to nom on great foods from some of Georgetown’s hottest restaurants, I also participated in a chef showdown challenge at the festival with the Yelp DC Community Manager, Kimberly, and her fiance, Rob!

IMG_5677

IMG_5726

IMG_5686

IMG_5683

It was crazy fun, albeit it SUPER hot (just check out how red my face is in the pics above, hahaha), and I got Sean to come along and play photographer. Each team was paired with a local chef — ours was Chef Bryan from Paolo’s restaurant — and came up with a master chef meal that included our secret ingredient…

IMG_5673

Rhubarb!

IMG_5674

I’d never even eaten rhubarb in anything but a pie before, so it definitely proved challenging to incorporate into a savory meal. Under Chef Bryan’s tutelage, however, we came up with a surf-and-turf plate that my mama would’ve been proud of.

IMG_5689

IMG_5693

IMG_5702

Drumroll please….

IMG_5734

Ta-da! Not too bad for a butane burner meal, eh?

IMG_5737

IMG_5736

We made a red snapper with a raw rhubarb and asparagus slaw on top, and a filet atop a corn and asparagus succotash with red wine rhubarb compote on top. The filet was AWESOME, and the fish turned out great, although I was a little iffy about the use of raw rhubarb in the slaw. It’s just got a very naturally sour/tart flavor, and is really fibrous, so I don’t know if I’m such a fan of it raw. Cooked, though, it’s delicious, and I have so many ideas for incorporating it into savory meals now!

IMG_5740

IMG_5749

Unfortunately, I guess the judges agreed with my assessment because we came in second (though the judges said it was super close!) but I still think Team Yelp were all winners that day. It definitely makes me want to start showing off my knife skills (I really am quite proud of my quick-chop prowess!) on a more regular basis. I think between this and watching marathons of Food Network Star, I’ve been bitten by the bug…

If you had a cooking show, what kind of show would it be? Or, as they say on Food Network Star, what would you “Culinary POV” be? I like to think I’d be able to have some sort of Whasian-related hook, but the truth is I actually know how to cook very little Chinese food! Hahaha. Guess I’d actually stick with my healthified comfort food thing.

I Heart DC II

This morning’s drizzly, grey (but blessedly SO much cooler) weather is quite in line with my feelings: today marks my friend Ai Rei‘s last day with me here in DC. I shall now pause for a moment of silence.

IMG_7399.jpg

While she’s been here, it’s been really fun for me to see the area that I live in with fresh eyes. I think that all people tend to suffer from “local” syndrome, no matter what city or town you live in. Despite the fact that there are so many awesome things about living in the DC area, I rarely take advantage of them because they’re either too touristy or too crowded or I’m simply too cool for that ish (bahaha). Rei’s visit has, as a side-effect of taking her around to see the sights and whatnot, rejuvenated my appreciation for our nation’s capital — which is really cool! Though I am, admittedly, pretty affected by standard Northern Virginian superiority to things that go on in the actual District, but I guess the truth is that I really do <3 DC. 🙂

IMG_4655

There’s a reason why things are touristy, after all. It’s because they’re worth seeing! I can tell you that the last time I really ventured into the city to take in the monuments was when my LAST out-of-town guest came to visit… and that was like three years ago (oops!). I want to say that I’ll be making an effort from now on to take better advantage of the cool things my city has to offer, but the truth is that I probably won’t really change things up that much. I will, however, be much looking forward to the next time I get to experience this stuff through the eyes of someone new.

IMG_7420.jpg

Ai Rei’s trip down here has also brought some hilarious and adorable excitement that I wasn’t actually expecting. Specifically, her raging excitement over things like how many varying flavors of chewing gum we have (Creamsicle! Key Lime Pie! Mint Chocolate Chip!), The Cheesecake Factory (for the cheesecake, not for the food), inexpensive books, Amazon.com (vs. Amazon.ca), and Target. It’s been a long time since I’ve lived in Canada, so I forget that even though our countries are obviously super similar, there are still a lot of things that aren’t quite replicated in either. Neither is better or worse, of course, it just makes me more appreciative of the things that I have access to here that Rei doesn’t. And it’s not just a Canada vs. US thing either; Colorado doesn’t have Trader Joe’s, we don’t have In-n-Out burgers, the list goes on.

What’s one traditionally “touristy” thing you tend to avoid where you live?

A Capital Fourth

Hot damn, it’s hot out!

That was pretty much the single thought that continued repeating from my lips throughout the entire Fourth of July. My friend Ai Rei, who is visiting me from the blissfully frozen wasteland known as Toronto, wanted to be in the Capital for at least a portion of Independence Day. Absolutely, I told her, we’ll see how long you last in the heat. 😉

IMG_7366.jpg

IMG_7367.jpg

So Sean, Rei, and I piled onto the Metro and traipsed into the city to take in some of our nation’s capital. Unfortunately, a ton of stuff was roped and fenced off, not only for the holiday security, but also for construction in general. So it wasn’t quite the easy breezy monument tour I had in mind, though we still got some good ones in. Ai Rei is off taking in the Smithsonian sights as I type this, so hopefully that means she hasn’t been totally turned off by the city!

IMG_7381.jpg IMG_7386.jpg

Ai Rei is a total photog, so naturally, many pictures were taken. Avast ye!

IMG_7384.jpg

IMG_7373.jpg

IMG_7394.jpg IMG_7390.jpg

IMG_7380.jpg

IMG_7377.jpg

IMG_7399.jpg

IMG_7420.jpg

Did I mention it was hot? It was flippin’ hot.

IMG_7409.jpg

As sweaty and disgusting as we were, I can’t imagine how bad it must have been for some of the people dancing and marching and whatnot in the parade!

IMG_7415.jpg

Mr. King, Jr. agrees.

IMG_7402.jpg IMG_7404.jpg

IMG_7414.jpg

As does Honest Abe.

I convinced Ai Rei that the five hours it would take to metro home after the National Fireworks just wasn’t worth it, so after we were sufficiently destroyed by the heat, we crawled back to the Metro. My subsequent shower was the most amazing shower I’ve ever taken. Then after a quick, super patriotic, dinner of hot dogs, the three of us joined my family over at the Falls Church celebration!

IMG_7424.jpg

My brother‘s 80s cover band, Judo Chop, rocked our faces off before the fireworks began.

IMG_7438.jpg

And then before we knew it… KABOOM!

IMG_7486.jpg

IMG_7448.jpg

IMG_7489.jpg

The Falls Church fireworks show was actually really impressive. They had SO many! I was all “ooh” and “aww” and generally agog with delight. I hope you all had an equally wonderful holiday. Happy Friday!

IMG_7452.jpg