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Our Boulder vacation

As of today I’ve started the preparations for my brother-in-law’s wedding cake. I’m currently elbow-deep in 4 quarts of homemade strawberry jam. I’ll be taking photos of the process like last time and I’ll show you the results next week.

So this week I thought I’d recap our recent trip to Boulder, CO. Looking back, I realize we didn’t take that many pictures, but I assure you were were busy and entertained the entire time.

First off, I’ve gotta show you this awesome rental property we found on that was walking distance from downtown Boulder. It was a renovated garage separate from the main house on a residential property. We fell in love with the super-modern design and the full kitchen and bath.

Rental house bed

There was a huge flat-screen TV with Netflix and Pandora radio, all basic cooking equipment, and an awesome rain shower.

Rental house kitchen

We loved having this private cottage to ourselves all week, and believe it or not, it was way cheaper than any of the hotels in the area. We stayed a whole week for less than $500! The owners, Kim and Asa, have another rental property attached to their home also, and they were very helpful in making sure we had everything we needed while simultaneously staying out of our hair.

Rental house bathroom

We’re totally sold on this type of sleep accommodation while traveling now. We’ll definitely look for something like this again the next time we venture out. If you’re ever in Boulder and need a place to stay, check out the Mapleton House, you won’t regret it!

Anyway, every day we would have breakfast at the rental (there was a Whole Foods walking distance from it that we used to stock up on breakfast foods) and then chill for a while before heading into town for the rest of the day. It was at least a mile to the busy downtown area, but the walk was flat and beautifully scenic…

Me posing along PearlJeff posing along Pearl

Everywhere you looked there were mountains and greenery. The air had a lovely crisp smell like the mineral smell of melted ice. The air is much dryer than we were used to being that we both grew up in Georgia humidity, so we had problems with feeling dry and itchy the whole time, but it’s probably something we’d adjust to if we were there longer.

Boulder is an extremely active city. There are few cars around, but tons of bicycles and pedestrians. One of the most fun things we did was to rent bikes to ride along the Boulder Creek Path that runs horizontally through Boulder for miles.

Full Cycle bike rentals and shop

We probably rode for 6 or so miles along the path, stopping here and there to take in the scenery.

Bridge beside Boulder Creek Path

Creek along Boulder Creek Path

Stacked rocks in creek

The Boulder Creek Path

Tumbling waters beside Boulder Creek Path

I really loved the emphasis on nature in Boulder. There are so many opportunities to enjoy your natural surroundings, even within the city limits. It’s impossible not to stumble upon beautiful views almost everywhere you go.

Some of the best views though, are from atop the mountains. Jeff has a friend from college that we met up with early in the week, and her father was nice enough to drive us around Boulder and up into the mountains. I’m so grateful that he was able to do that for us because we intended to hike those mountains later in the week but never got around to it because we were too exhausted from all the walking and biking we did! If he hadn’t driven us up there we just would have missed it entirely.

View from the mountains

I still wish we got to do some hiking, but I’m glad we got this view anyway.

Us on the mountaintop

If there’s one thing Boulder has a lot of, it’s nature, but the second place finisher would definitely be breweries! Tomorrow I’ll show you some of the local Boulder breweries we toured and the copious amounts of beer that were consumed!

Do you prefer more nature or more city attractions on vacations?


I’m not dead

I’m sure you didn’t think I was dead, but I’ve been absent from the blog world for over a month now, barely even reading or commenting on other blogs because I’ve been so busy!!!

Here’s a little of what’s been sucking away at my time…

So….remember how I said I was writing a book? Yeah, well, every deadline I have set for this project has been set back time and time again because apparently I am a terrible judge of how long anything is going to take to complete.

Crunchy roasted popcorn edamame

I have been devoting every waking thought and every hour of every day to getting this thing done and I’m finally close to the end of this madness. Guys, writing a book is hard. I don’t know why I thought it would be a breeze, but I definitely have a new respect for authors of all kinds. Any romantic thoughts I used to have of an author sitting at a big oak desk in front of a rusty typewriter casually sipping on a cup of tea as the words just effortlessly flow onto the page have been dashed. It’s work, ya’ll.

Somewhat more enjoyable though, was planning for a vacation!  Jeff and I just got back from a week in Boulder, CO a few days ago…

Boulder scenery on the mountain

We chose Boulder because we have some friends out there that we haven’t seen in a while, and because many people have told us that we’d enjoy it there. We both needed a vacation badly and we definitely had a great time. I’ll tell you all about it in another post though.

And now, for the next week or so, this will be my future…

Stuff for Caitlin's cake

I’m baking a wedding cake for Jeff’s youngest brother; Bryan, and his fiance, Caitlin. I’ve spent the last few days procuring the items I’ll need to make it, all I have left to buy are the fresh ingredients, such as eggs and milk, which I’ll get this weekend.

I’m trying to recreate this cake…

Caitlin's cake

The only difference will be the topper. Rather than a fondant rose, she’s providing a silver “T” monogram which I’ll frame with a few leftover roses or lilies. It’s gonna take all week to make. I’ll definitely share the process with you guys like I did last time too.

So that’s what’s been keeping me away. This month is going to be extremely busy with putting the cake together and then trying my hardest to finish the book, but I’m going to try to be more present on the blog if I can. I miss you guys!

So what have you been up to?


Seattle: Food! (part 2)

Time to wrap this vacation up!

On the day that we visited Pike Place Market, we stopped into an adorable little hole in the wall Japanese restaurant for lunch. Mmmm…beer and miso soup.

Japanese restaurant near Pike Place

We both wanted big bowls of hot food rather than sushi, so I got an oyakodon and Jeff had pork katsudon. Love those daikon pickles!

Seattle oyakodonSeattle katsudon

That night we were craving Mexican food. Something I noticed about Seattle was that there are a ton of high-end Mexican restaurants. Really cool, something we don’t have too much of in Atlanta. We headed to Barrio to get our margarita fix…

Barrio restaurant SeattleBarrio salsa and guac

This margarita was insane. I got the fresh jalapeno margarita and it was probably the single spiciest thing I’ve ever had! I’ve had jalapeno margaritas before too, but none in the past were as crazy-hot as this one. This was like something you would only drink on a dare, I had a hard time getting through it.

Barrio jalapeno margarita of doom

The food was wonderful. Jeff got some braised chicken tacos with hand-made corn tortillas that were fantastic. I had pork enchiladas with golden raisins and almonds. Really unusual and really good. You could tell that all the sauces were made in house and simmered for a long time.

Barrio chicken tacosBarrio pork enchiladas

I think one of the most fun meals we had was at Anthony’s on the pier. As we were walking along the waterfront towards downtown we were stopped in our tracks by the delicious smell of golden fried fish.

Seattle Anthony's seafood

Now, I almost never eat fried food, so when Jeff suggested we stop I wasn’t really feeling it. I am so glad I shut up and let him choose lunch because it was great! I got the fried clam strips and fries and he got fresh fried cod. It was such a nostalgic type of flavor, reminding me of family vacations to Florida as a kid.

Anthony's clams and cod

The sun was shining bright and the breeze was cool and crisp as we munched on our lunch on the patio by the marina. This little guy was begging hard for scraps!

Seagull at Anthony's

On the way back to the hotel, we passed by a tea shop that looked interesting. I am so glad we stopped in, Jeff was losing his mind over all the walls and walls of teaware! He was like a kid in a candy store, and we did end up picking up a few new pieces for the house.

Vibrancy tea shop Seattle

We also got to enjoy a tea tasting…

Tea tasting in Seattle

I could not believe they were willing to let us sample this 12 year old pu-erh! It was dark and earthy, just how I like it.

Pu-erh tasting in Seattle

Speaking of tea…..we headed to Miro Tea in Ballard that night on the hunt for dessert. This place was so cool, somewhere I could imagine working from and hanging out at all the time. We really wanted to purchase some of the art on the walls but it was pricey.

Miro tea Seattle

This is the greenest most grassy matcha latte I’ve ever had! And we were both swooning over the light-as-air vanilla cheesecake.

Miro matcha latte and vanilla cheesecake

We even came back two days later for breakfast. I had been eyeing this lemon poppyseed butter crepe from the last time we were there. It did not disappoint!

Miro tea pot of teaLemon poppyseed crepe

While in Ballard that evening we were wanting to stop in somewhere for just one drink before catching the bus home. We spotted this bar called Hazelwood that specializes in pre-prohibition era cocktails which I adore. Apparently several bars in Seattle are all about these types of hand-crafted specialty cocktails. I liked that.

Hazelwood bar

I had the fresh ginger bourbon, gingery and boozy! What was only going to be one drink each turned into two. We were having so much fun at Hazelwood listening to the DJs hilarious selection of 90’s classics and dancing it up with the locals in the small space, that we actually missed our bus home…..several times. When we finally cashed out of there we caught the last bus of the evening. Just in time!

Hazelwood fresh ginger bourbon

Little bit fuzzy the next morning. You know what that means… and donuts! The perfect mini-hangover cure.

I got the unglazed old-fashioned this time which was possibly even better than the glazed one. Jeff got a very pillowy chocolate frosted. I was too dehydrated for coffee so I stuck to juice.

Top Pot plain and chocolate frosted

And we headed to lunch almost immediately afterward. We checked out Homegrown, a sandwich shop that specializes in fresh ingredients and a “sustainable” ethic. All of their packaging is recyclable and they even compost! The turkey and avocado sandwich was wonderful. I wish we had a Homegrown in Atlanta, I’d be there all the time.

Homegrown menu boardHomegrown turkey avocado sandwich

And then the dinner I had been looking forward to all week: Umi Sake House.

Outside Umi Sake House

Umi’s sake list is intimidating. We ended up going with a flight of five so that we could try more without spending $$$. We both pretty much agreed on which were our favorites.

Umi sake flight

For an appetizer we got the gindara kasuzuke. Gindara is black cod, a very prized fish in Japanese cuisine. Kasuzuke is a type of curing process done with kasu, which is the rice mash byproduct of making sake. The flavor was so unusual! It was a really special dish, something I’d like to try to make at home sometime if I can get my hands on some kasu.

Umi gindara kasuzuke

And two maki rolls, a super crazy spicy one and one with a creamy scallop salad inside. Both were amazing. I normally don’t like these types of fancy Americanized maki rolls but the fish was just so unbelievably fresh that there was nothing to not like about em’!

Umi spicy rollUmi signature roll with scallop salad

And agedashi tofu, fried tofu in a salty dashi broth with toppings. So good! I loved the grated daikon with it the best.

Umi agedashi tofu

It was hard to choose dessert, I wanted several things on the menu. We settled on a scoop of black sesame ice cream. I was not expecting to get anything this fancy!

OMG it was so good! The caramel sauce had a toasted sesame flavor too. Incredible.

Umi black sesame ice cream

More thai food the next day for lunch, at Thaiku in Ballard. My pad thai was a little weird with raw sugar in it that you had to mix in. Jeff’s basil pork with fried egg was outstanding though. Thaiku had a really interesting cocktail menu that featured a couple of Chinese medicinal herb ingredients. Their bar wasn’t open during lunch though, so we missed out on that one.

Thaiku pad thaiThaiku basil pork with egg

Our last meal in Seattle was at Serious Pie, an upscale pizza joint. We started with these absolutely killer fava bean crostini with crispy guanciale bacon.

Fava bean crostini at Serious Pie

Sorry the picture of this pizza is so blurry, I really wanted to eat it and barely got a shot at all! It was the guanciale and soft egg pizza. Super thin slices of guanciale (I think that’s bacon from the jowl area rather than the belly) and two eggs cracked on top and barely set in the brick oven. Best…pizza…ever. I could just the crust and be blissfully happy.

Guanciale and soft egg at Serious Pie

And dessert. A vanilla panna cotta topped with rhubarb compote and crushed pistachios. Delicious and not too sweet.

Vanilla panna cotta with rhubarb

We were so well fed by Seattle. We didn’t have a single “blah” meal while we were there. I haven’t had so many outstanding meals in a row since Japan.

I’m so glad we chose to spend our anniversary in Seattle. That city is now one of my favorite places in the world (that I’ve seen at least.)

What is the best dish you’ve had in another city and where?