Penny’s Birthday Weekend: Part 3 (Baptism & Beyond!)

I bet you thought that the neverending tale of Penny’s Birthday Weekend had ended with the conclusion of her birthday party, didn’t ya? Well, you thought WRONG. Because this weekend had one final special family event to give before it would be over, and a doubly-special one at that: Penny’s and her new baby cousin Marjorie’s baptisms!

Hot dang, these family photos just get harder and harder to nail, don’t they? Ahahahahaha.

 

We took full advantage of the fact that my sister and her family were in town for the long weekend and had both babies baptized while they were here. Quite necessary, actually, since my sister and brother-in-law are both Penny’s AND Marnie’s godparents! We couldn’t let the fact that Marjorie and my sister share their birthday pass us by, after all!

I was lucky enough to have an old friend from middle school and a family friend catch some action shots of Penny’s baptism. She was a super wiggly squirmy worm during the church service (which took place exactly during when she would have normally been having her morning nap), but was a total champ as soon as we got up there for her actual christening. You can see me getting choked up (surprise, surprise) in the third picture below, haha:

  

After the service concluded, we headed with some family friends to a different part of the church for a really nice post-baptism brunch that my mom put together. The church even had set up a kid’s table with kid-sized chairs and everything! It was super cute, and Penny looooooved feeling like a big girl next to her cousins (with some bracing from Grandpa for security, hahaha.)

 

There was a spread of mediterranean food, a ham, some mom also got cakes for both Marnie and Penny from Whole Foods — they were so good! Marnie’s was vanilla with strawberries in between the layers of cake, and Penny’s was chocolate. We were able to repurpose a few of the leftover cookies from Penny’s party at the brunch as well, hehe.

 

My family all went back to my parents’ house after brunch and just hung out for the rest of the day (Penny & Alex took some seriously epic naps) and then Sean cooked us all a big Korean feast for dinner that night.

 

I was certainly glad to be able to just chill out and decompress for the rest of the day — all of the emotional and significant events of weekend definitely depleted some of my energy stores. But I rallied enough to head back to Falls Church the following day, since my sister and her family were flying home Monday evening.

  

Rolling 5 adults, 2 kids, and 2 babies deep, we descended upon our favorite sushi restaurant and was finally able to introduce Penny to my favorite food! Even better, she loved it! She ate like 4 entire pieces out of a variety of rolls, tasting a bunch of brand new flavors and textures. I was absolutely thrilled! I know that it’s entirely likely she will end up becoming super picky like most toddlers, but I’m definitely going to take advantage of what a great eater she is for as long as I can!

 

It was so much fun eating out with all the kiddos, but admittedly pretty stressful, too. I was glad that A) we were at a family-friendly place, B) they know us well (we are frequent patrons of Koi Koi, heh) and C) we ate so early that nobody else was there when we got there, because we brought with us not a small amount of chaos. I was totally that mom sweeping up piles of rice and smooshed avocado with my napkin, lol.

 

Finally, after we said goodbye to my sister’s contingent of the family (sniff!), Penny and I headed back home where I finally had to start organizing and cleaning up all of the post-party pandemonium. My entire house had just become like a landing zone for semi-deflated balloons and donut-shaped party paraphernalia. One fun thing we got to do, however, was open up all of Penny’s birthday presents! Our friends were definitely all waaaaaay too generous, and she now has a huge collection of new books, clothes, and toys that will bring her (and her mommy, lol) lots of enjoyment for a loooong time.

 

Multiple folks have advised not to open all of her new toys right away, so as to stretch them out (swapping out toys for new ones to maintain interest and excitement, etc.) So I was actually able to exercise a modicum of uncharacteristic self-restraint here, and have put aside a pile of her new goodies to bring out in the future. Couldn’t resist ripping open a few though, including the Little People Disney Princess Wheelies Castle set that Penny’s Grandma got her though — she loves them and has already figured out that the little cars are supposed to go at the top of the castle! My smart little cookie.

And that really does bring us up to the end of our fantastic, crazy, amazing Labor Day Weekend! And as you can see, labor there was, haha. But it was all 1000% worth it to celebrate our equally fantastic, crazy, amazing little Penny.

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!

Kushi Sushi

Happy February 15th, friends! I realize it lacks some of the fanfare and pizzazz of February 14th, but hey, at least it’s Friday, right? And hopefully at least some of you are still riding the wave of a lovely Valentine’s Day–I know I am! Not to brag (even though I totally am), but I’m preeeetty sure I had the best Valentine’s Day ever.

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When we left off yesterday, I told you all that Sean had planned some big Valentine’s surprise dinner, and wouldn’t tell me where we were going. And I expressed my love-hate relationship with surprises (mostly love, I’m just really impatient, haha), and my anticipation over where we were going. Well, as I found out about an hour before we left for dinner, our destination was…

KUSHI!

Kushi is a sushi restaurant in downtown DC that I have wanted to go to for FOREVER, and never had. I was SO excited to get to finally try it out. But before we were off to dinner, Sean had another surprise for me first:

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The generous son of a gun got me a Michael Kors watch and roses for Valentine’s Day! Ughhhhh, why is he so good to meeeeee? I LOVE it. I’ve had an MK watch on my wishlist for a loooong time (no, like, literally on my Amazon wishlist) and while the one I originally had on there is not available any more, Sean picked this beauty out for me. And that makes me love it even more, because he chose it himself! Eeeeee, my first fancy watch! I feel like such a grown-up. Though I am just realizing that talking about this makes me seem more like a spoiled teenager than an adult… and I don’t care. 😀

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My preeeeciousssss…

What was I talking about? Oh, right, dinner. Heh. So! New bling dangling off my wrist (I need to get a few links removed for it to fit properly, but I couldn’t NOT wear it!) and off we went to Kushi.

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I started off with a Sake Blossom cocktail while we were waiting to be seated. It included lime juice, sake, St. Germaine’s (I still don’t know what this is, haha), and vodka. Needless to say, it was entirely too delicious (spoiler alert: I got kinda drunk last night, bahaha). Then we were seated–admittedly, the seating in this restaurant doesn’t give off a super romantic vibe because everything is set up VERY close together, but I didn’t really mind.

Because it was a special occasion, and also because it was the first time there for both of us, we both opted for Kushi’s Tasting Menu rather than ordering things a la carte. (Apologies for all the iPhone photos, but I just didn’t really feel like dragging my giant DSLR around with me on Valentine’s Day, haha.)

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The tasting menu includes a sampling of basically all the various food types that Kushi offers. While they obviously do have sushi on the menu (thank goodness), the restaurant’s real “thing” is Yakitori–grilled meats and vegetables on skewers. It’s essentially classed-up Japanese street food. The menu started out with some sake (see where that whole “I got drunk” thing comes in?) and then a choice between three appetizers. Both Sean and I opted for the spicy peel-and-eat shrimp. Then, we both got to choose two kinds of yakitori from the menu.

We chose all different yakitori types so we could try the highest number of items, of course (love working as a team!) and got the pork belly (amazing!), duck with scallion (delicious!), pheasant sausage (the surprise winner–SO good!), and a rather lackluster chicken with plum sauce. Despite the chicken being disappointing, the other three were absolutely scrumptious.

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After the yakitori we were served some miso soup, which was good but pretty standard, and then… a sushi sampling! The sushi at Kushi (heh, that’s fun to say) was very fresh — I was very excited to see how thick the salmon sashimi was, because it’s my faaaaaavorite (it’s like buttah). We also got tuna and yellowfish nigiri, and three pieces of a wasabi scallop roll. The sushi was very good, although I almost wish it had been a little bit more of an adventurous selection, given that we weren’t able to pick the kinds of sushi included in the tasting menu. Even so, this was definitely my favorite part of the meal because, well, sushi is my favorite thing ever. Duh.

We were given an option between three things for the main entree of the meal. I opted for the hangar steak, while Sean got the pork tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet). My steak was cooked very well (medium-rare, even though they didn’t ask how I’d like it cooked) and had a really smokey flavor, but I actually liked Sean’s more. The pork was just so juicy! I got a salad on the side, and Sean got Japanese fried rice. They also both weirdly came with some kind of Asian potato salad, which was good in a culturally jarring kind of way, hahaha.

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Oh, before I forget, we also ordered one a la carte item off of the menu in addition to the tasting menu. As soon as I saw they carried a brussels sprout dish, you know I HAD to get it! It was advertised as being cooked with garlic butter, but I have to admit that these were pretty disappointing. They were smokey, but otherwise seemed unseasoned. Sean said he liked mine much better, hehehe. Still, I never regret ordering brussels sprouts, so all’s well that ends well, I guess!

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For the last part of the tasting menu, dessert was included. We were offered two gelatos or a bowl of seasonal fruit, and since I made the unfortunate decision to give up sweets for Lent, I was forced to go with the fruit option. I was actually kind of looking forward to it… until it arrived. Instead of a bowl of different fruits, which you kind of would assume based on the wording, I got one giant bowl of cantaloupe. So, I basically ate an entire cantaloupe for dessert, hahaha. Not the granded cap on a good meal, but oh well.

So! Overall I really did enjoy my meal at Kushi. I’m glad we did the tasting menu and I got to sample a bit of everything, but I think I might have built it up in my head a little bit much though, because I wasn’t utterly blown away by it all. The service was good–I really liked our waitress–and almost all the food came out in a very timely way, with the exception of our main entrees. If I lived closer, I might want to go back for more yakitori (that pheasant sausage really was insanely good!) but I will be sticking to my beloved Koi Koi for my sushi cravings.

So there we go: my epic and romantic Valentine’s Day celebration, complete with good food, an entirely-too-generous gift, and quality time spent with my love. Cheesy, I know, but so am I so… suck it up. 😉 Of course, I haven’t even mentioned the final good thing to come out of this, which is that when I awoke this morning–blessedly NOT hungover, huzzah!–my makeup still looked totally boss. Hence, the whole happy February 15th jazz from the beginning of this post, hahaha. Never doubt the utility of a good eyeshadow primer!

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This makeup brought to you by last night.

I hope you all had a wonderful V-Day, and will have an equally wonderful weekend! Tomorrow evening, I’m meeting back up with the fabulous Lauren from Oatmeal After Spinning, and Kelly from Kelly Fiore Writes (who I met for the first time last weekend at the Frederick Restaurant Week sneak peek) and we’re going to Founding Farmers in Bethesda. I had a not-so-great experience at the Founding Farmers in DC when I went there for my birthday a few years back, but I am excited to give this location a shot!

<3 <3 <3

The Everyday Perils of Dog Ownership

Ahh, Monday.

Truly, nothing says “Welcome to the work week, biotch!” like being woken up by your dog puking on your carpet three times in the middle of the night. After he’s already made a onesie AND a twosie on your bathroom floor (but I do appreciate that he goes into the bathroom to do it, at least!). Yes, Daxter got me off to a grrrrreat start this week. Sigh.

My suspicion is that when Daxter gets sick like this it’s mostly anxiety-related. Which is kind of sad, because he has no real reason to be anxious. Ever. Seriously, between my brother’s and my work schedules, the dogs are left alone for maybe like, 3 hours a day — if at all! Not to mention they’re pretty much the most spoiled things ever. But between Daxter’s recent penchant for pooping on bathroom floors and Harry’s new allergy developments (he is so itchy ALL the time! I feel so bad for him. Anyone have any homeopathetic dog itch-relief remedies they want to share?), my little schnauzie-poos are definitely a handful right now.

Let me disclaim: I didn’t actually put Daxter in “jail” for puking. I just thought these pictures that Taylor took a few months ago were particularly apt.

As always, they are supremely lucky they’re so gosh-darned cute.

Anywayyyy, instead of dwelling on all of that literal mess, let’s look at some pretty pictures of sushi, shall we? I met up with my friend Amanda on Friday and we took a trip to my beloved Koi Koi. I actually had already had sushi earlier in the week, so I didn’t end up getting my usual sushi smorgasbord. Just a chicken katsu dish (which was so delicious I forgot to take a picture) and a little salmon roll on the side.

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Plus edamame, duh.

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Amanda Instagrammed her own deliciousness, so I took a photo of her taking a photo. I’m so meta.

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I hope that you all had wonderful weekends! See you on the flipside. 🙂

Weekend Update: Vanity Edition

Happy (?) Monday, friends! I hope you all had excellent weekends. Mine was pretty rockin’, if I do say so myself. It started out Friday with an amazing ladydate that combined these two wonderful, wonderful things:

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Sushi at my beloved Koi Koi

Aaaaaand…

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Claire!

Even though Claire and I live less than a mile from each other, we actually don’t see each other very often! We read each other’s blogs, obviously, but it’s always much nicer to be able to catch up in person. Especially when doing so involves sushi, too.

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We had so much to talk about this time around, that neither of us ended up finishing our rolls (and for once, I only ordered one. Shock!) I also took advantage of her DSLR-familiarity to have her shoot some photos of me for this week’s fashion post. Unfortunately, I felt incredibly awkward shooting pictures out on the street, right in front of the restaurant. I’m not sure how fashion bloggers do this every single day (shamelessly, I suppose?).

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Oh, hello imaginary person sitting in this chair.

I felt so foolish that I wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible, so I didn’t manage to get all the shots I wanted (details and whatnot). So I’ll just have to come up with something new for this Friday’s post. And will definitely be shooting it in Ben‘s studio again, where strangers can’t judge me for my vanity. Buuuuut since you all are probably judging me anyway, I figured I’d just post these pictures now anyway.

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“I feel so awkward…”

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The one pretty decent shot (though I had to crop out some creeper photobombing in the background, haha.)

Still, a great way to kick off the weekend! Oh, and for those of you who might be interested:

Lace tank, jeans, and purse: Old Navy
Blazer: Forever 21
Shoes: Payless
Wrap bracelets: Stella & Dot
Stone cuff: gift from my parents

Saturday was spent being predominantly lazy during the day (I got a bunch of writing done though – huzzah!), with a nighttime birthday extravaganza for Sean’s friend Megan. So I’m not going to lie, I’m actually a terrible DC twenty-something. I rarely ever go out, and I think this was maybe the third time I’ve gone out in actual DC proper. Before Saturday night, I’d never even tasted Jumbo Slice! I know, I know. So getting to go out to Alero on U Street was a total learning experience for me!

It also left me full of questions, such as: how are all the young women of DC not incredibly overweight? Boatloads of sugary cocktails and empty calories thanks to alcohol, to be followed by a slice of pizza so huge that it could feed an entire third-world village? Seriously, I was not properly prepared for how, uh, jumbo the Jumbo Slice, uh, slices are. I’m pretty sure that if this was my regular weekend lifestyle, I would be back up to 250 pounds in no time.

But you know me. I never pass up an occasion to get dressed up. I spent like 2 hours trying to figure out how to do a nighttime-appropriate smokey eye (without looking too, y’know, whorish), and stepped into my most comfortable heeled shoes. Also, I bought that dress for $16.99 at TJ Maxx! What uppppp good deals! Anyway, since I have (aptly) titled this post “Vanity Edition”, here are just a few more pictures of me (meeeee, meeeeeeee, MEEEEEE!), pilfered from the birthday girl.


Were you/are you a weekend partier? How do you balance that with trying to lose or maintain a healthy weight?