Thursday, April 9, 2020

Winter Break: 2019

I can't say enough good things about my in-laws. Mom, dad, and Bradi, you're great too and I'll get to my brag post about you guys next, but for now...shout out to Rose, Yakov, and Amy! These superheroes hosted Asher over winter break, and Zahara was with my family, so Dan and I could actually have a proper vacation! So fun!  

After dropping Z off at the airport in the morning (more on that soon), the rest of the family flew to Florida. It was Chanukah, so we were able to have a lovely celebration with our extended family, Dan's aunt, uncle and cousin. We are always grateful to spend time with that fun-loving family.

Dan and I wanted to make the most of our vacation and give my in-laws the most one-on-one time with Asher, so we decided to stay in a hotel in South Beach starting the day after we arrived. We got the world's best send off via my in-laws' new boat! We all took a ride down the Intracoastal Canal from Fort Lauderdale to Miami. The boat (yacht, really) is insanely gorgeous and the weather was perfect. This was my first time on the boat, but I'm hoping for many more rides in the future.

Captain Yakov dropped us off pier-side in Miami and we took an Uber to our hotel. We spent the next five (!!) nights eating, drinking, laying by the pool or beach, working out, and eating more. It was heavenly! It wasn't the nicest weather so we didn't get a ton of beach time, but it was the perfect walking around weather. I can't complain at all.

We had some really great meals, most notably Jose Andres' The Bazaar, and Scarpetta. It was our first time at Bazaar, although we've been to several of Jose Andres' restaurants in DC. Though we hadn't been to Scarpetta in the famous Fontainebleau, we had been to the restaurant in Las Vegas. It's where we had my all-time favorite spaghetti dish! The dish I still dream about. I would normally NEVER pay nearly $30 for a bowl of spaghetti, but after seeing it on The Best Thing I Ever Ate, Dan and I had to give it a try. Thank goodness the pasta was the same in Miami as it was in Vegas. Definitely lived up to expectations.

One night we even got to see Jim Gaffigan perform at the Adrienne Arsht Center. He was fantastic, as expected. I love his take on parenthood, and his general self-deprecating humor. His opening act was a real treat. I wish I could find his name. I'll keep looking and update here if I find it.

But, all good things must come to and end, and it was time for us to go back to reality. Luckily we had one more great night with the family where we celebrated the final night of Chanukah. Everyone had a great time, and my in-laws really tired Asher out. Wins all around!

Thoughts by Asher: April 2020

The world is a crazy place right now. Here's a quick moment of levity with my boy Asher (age 3.5).

Thought 1:
Asher: When I'm a superhero I do dangerous things!

Thought 2:
Me: Asher, tomorrow you can sleep as long as  you want.
Asher: I want to sleep short, actually.

Thought 3:
Me: Asher, are you a good egg?
Asher: No. I only do what you say not to do.

Click here to see some of Asher's previous thoughts.
And to see his equally insightful and hilarious sister, click here.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Bazaar by Jose Andres

Part of what Dan and I love about traveling is eating well. And South Beach offered plenty of fantastic meals for us to enjoy. One highlight was Jose Andres's The Bazaar, a Latin-inspired hip spot.

We have eaten at several of Jose Andres's other restaurants in Washington, DC, including Fish and MiniBar (one of our all-time favorites!). We also like Zaytinya and Jaleo (always get the brussels sprouts at both locations). I'm a big fan of Andres's style of lots of little, yummy things. It's not always tapas in the traditional sense, but he does a great job of playing with textures, scale and flavors, keeping you on your toes and making the meal fun. I'm happy to report, The Bazaar lived up to those expectations.

Though Bazaar had a prix fixe menu, we opted to order ala carte. We had plenty of variety and left feeling satisfied, but not overly full. I ordered my favorite gin and tonic of all time (it's the same as at Fish), and was a happy camper.

We started our meal with a dragon fruit cevice with tuna, pecans, lemon and hibiscus foam. None of this should have worked, but it was really good. I don't think the hibiscus was too strong, and the dragon fruit mixed in with the tuna was surprisingly refreshing. The crunch from the pecans added just the right texture. I loved this weird dish.

Next we had a caprese salad with liquid mozzarella balls. The pesto underneath was tasty, and the concept was interesting. I wasn't blown away though.

This next dish left me literally licking the plate. I am so glad we opted to each get a tortilla de patatas "new way." It is a sous vide egg with a potato foam, and diced crisp potatoes on top. I couldn't get enough of this, and in retrospect wish I had ordered another one.

This next dish didn't blow me away. In fact, we sent it back for being under-seasoned. It was a wild mushroom soup with cheese and an egg yolk, but it was very bland.

Honestly, I don't remember a ton about this dish, which I guess isn't a great sign. It is fresh baby peaches with burrata, hazelnuts, and arugula. I remember the burrata was delicious but I wanted the dish to be more peachy. The baby peaches (the green parts below), didn't taste like much.

I didn't like this next dish at all, but Dan loved it. It sounded incredible, but was way too funky for me. They are frozen blue cheese sandwiches with lemon marmalade on walnut bread. I wasn't sure what to expect, but these were like ice cream sandwiches with blue cheese instead of ice cream. It was unlike anything I've had before. While I enjoy trying new things, and I appreciate the concept, it was much too strong a flavor for me. 

We also had one of their daily specials, which was a white fish that was served en papillote. I enjoyed it, but it wasn't very memorable.

We opted not to have dessert because we were staying at a DoubleTree, and honestly, their free cookies are the best. So we finished our drinks and headed out, where we stumbled upon Michael Caine and his family! Dan recognized them, and then we spend several minutes trying to be cool and not disturb them.

Overall, we had a fantastic evening at at really fun restaurant. I wouldn't say that this is my favorite Jose Andres restaurant, and I probably wouldn't go back, but I'm happy we tried it. 

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Annual Holiday Party 2019

Winter was a whirlwind! Only a few days after I got back from my short trip to England we hosted our annual holiday party. This has become such a fun tradition that I look forward to each year. 

We try to make this as easy as possible, but you know Dan and me. We sometimes go over the top with food and decorations. Still, we limit the food to mostly Trader Joe's goodies and use decorations we keep from year-to-year. I think they skew a little Christmas-y, but, they sure are pretty.

Not pictured, the rest of the house full of food and drinks!

The best part of the evening, other than the company of course, is the white elephant exchange. A white elephant, also called a Yankee swap, is where everyone brings a gift and you pull numbers to determine in which order you select a gift. Gifts can be stolen and re-stolen, leading to a fun, but controlled chaos. 

We ask our guests to bring a silly gift under $15. Dan is one of the best gift-bringers, and each year he outdoes himself. I still wear the personalized socks he had made with his face on them--hilarious to open when no one was expecting it. 

This year he had a custom pillow made with his sleeping face on it. It is equal parts horrifying and adorable. It made it's way to our friends' children's bed. Not sure if that's a good thing, or future cause for therapy. 

Other great gifts this year included the horse head mask (pictured on me, above), the full-sleeve super realistic fake tattoos, and a couple of chia pets. 

I'm so lucky to have an amazing group of friends to share these memories with. Until next year!

Monday, February 10, 2020

A Quick Trip Across the Pond

Late last year I had an incredible opportunity to attend a leadership training at my company's headquarters in London. It was a very intense boot camp where I learned a ton and slept very little. As a reward to myself, I decide to add a couple of days to my trip and make a quick hop to Harrogate. It was exactly what I needed!

I was in London from Monday through early Friday morning, but didn't leave the hotel once my training started on Tuesday. I made do with what little time I had in the city by visiting the British Museum. I hadn't been here in years, but it's as incredible as I remembered. I downloaded an audio tour from Rick Steves and it was perfect.

I took an early train to Harrogate on Friday and was in town in time for lunch. My friend Vicky met me at the station and we went to...Betty's of course!

I love Betty's any time of year, but around the holidays it is especially charming. The window displays alone are worth the trip.

Friday night I was able to see Lena, Vicky and Kristiina to celebrate Beth's birthday! We went to a new (to me, at least) Japanese restaurant and had a blast.The food was really good and the company was even better. I love that whenever I come back to Harrogate, it's as if no time has passed at all. These women are definitely friends for life.

I only had one full day in town, but I made sure to see the rest of my crew. Kristiina and I got to hang out with Jose and her family in her gorgeous house. I loved playing with the kids and chilling with a cup of tea.

We had a great lunch with Becky at the Old Bell Tavern, but I only got a picture of my fish and chips and not my friend. Nevertheless, it was amazing seeing her, as always. It was especially fun celebrating some good news together. Also, she just started a blog that is really good, and very professional! I don't know where she has the time or energy, but go check it out!

I managed to squeeze one more visit to Betty's in with Lena, Steve, Beth, and her kids! It was such a treat to get this extra time with them. Steve is one of my favorite people and I was glad to be able to see him on such a short trip. I can't wait until they come and visit me in the States...right, Lena?! 

Then, despite the fact that neither of us had our kids with us, Kristiina and I decided to have a girl's night and watch Frozen II. It was an excellent decision. I really loved the movie, and it was made even more special because I saw the first Frozen with Kristiina and our tiny babies when I lived in Harrogate. Crazy how much has changed.

It was the shortest, but sweetest trip. I'm so grateful to all my yoga mummies--especially Kristiina who played an excellent host. I hope to see you all again soon! 

Click here to see some more of my visits to Betty's.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Thoughts by Asher: First Edition

This is such a fun age! Asher has so many creative, hilarious ideas and I want to make sure I don't forget them. I love hearing how he thinks and seeing the world in a new light. Here are a few recent examples.

Thought 1:
Asher giving me a kiss
A:I kissed you! Now we're married!

Thought 2:
Asher: Are you old?
Me: A little
Asher: Are you going to die? When you get old, you die.

Thought 3:
Asher: Does Giant (a local grocery store) sell babies? No? Which store sells babies?

And to see his equally insightful and hilarious sister, click here.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Life Updates

I know we're already well into winter, but we had a really busy fall. Here are a few of the highlights:

Zahara's New School
This year we moved Zahara to a new school. Her last school was tiny--only three kids in her kindergarten class! And, while we loved a lot of aspects of that school, we thought Zahara might do better in a bigger environment where she could practice social etiquette and have more structure and stability. So far, we were right. She is absolutely thriving there. We feel so supported and amazed at watching her progress.

Starting a New Job
This fall I left my last job where I was for the past four years. I'm really excited about my new company and the opportunities I've been afforded. It's really challenging, but I know I'm up to the challenge. I've only been there five months, so I'm still in that awkward point in a new job where I love it, but am scared of how different it is and how much hard work is ahead of me. One of my colleagues, Mina Seetharaman wrote a piece that describes exactly how I feel now. It's definitely worth a read.

Broken Wrist and Elbow
You might have noticed in the picture above that I'm wearing a sling. The week before I started my new job I was painting our bedroom (more info on that soon), and I fell off the ladder. I was only on the second to last step, but I fell in such an awkward way that I managed to break both my wrist and my elbow. And, in a case of when it rains it pours, that morning before the fall, I had left both of my phones on top of my car and then drove off, meaning I had no phones! Luckily, I was able to call Dan from Skype on my computer and asked him to come home. Long story short, I was in a cast for three weeks, then had a surgery to repair the wrist, then physical therapy for three months. It was a rough time, and I'm so thankful for all the help I got from my family, my friends, and my religious community. Since I couldn't even dress myself, I gratefully and humbly accepted all the help I could get.

Bedroom Updates
There have been lots of updates in the bedroom, including new paint (see above for the less fortunate outcome of that project), new bed frame, new nightstands, new lamps, and new art. It's looking SO GOOD! I'd still like to add a seating area and some more art for the long wall, but I'm really happy with the direction so far.

11th Anniversary
Dan and I celebrated our eleventh anniversary this fall. It was a much more low-key event than last year's trip to Peru(!), but we still had a good time. We went to dinner and drinks at Cooper's Hawk Winery and it was delicious. I'm looking forward to many, many more years with this guy!

And, I'll leave it there for now. I didn't cover everything--sorry, Asher! You were here in the fall too :) But lots more to come soon!