Wednesday, November 25, 2015

4 IHeart Seattle - Bloom Bash Recap & Exploring the City

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of jet setting off to Seattle, WA to be part of the Bloom Bash WorkshopMichaela and Ashley had a dream to create a beautiful and inspirational workshop for individuals in the creative industry, and I can truly say they have succeeded.  They invited me to speak at the Bloom workshop, specifically regarding Pinterest as part of their Social Media session.  I also had the pleasure of joining the panel to answer blogging and business questions at the end of each day.

(photo credit: Lora Grady Photography)

This was my first trip to Seattle, and there was so much to see and take in during my short visit.  Anytime I have the opportunity to travel to a new city, I invite my husband to join me so we can explore the new area together.

Washington welcomed us with the most incredible views coming in on our flight.  In fact, I had the window shade drawn as I was working on my laptop for most of the trip, and I remember opening it and letting out a giant gasp.  I was in awe of the breathtaking landscape which I wasn't expecting in that very moment.  As much as I prefer traveling to warm and tropical destinations with views of aqua blue water, this was definitely one of the most beautiful and memorable flights I have taken.

The first two days of our trip I spent at the Bloom workshop.  The backdrop continued to leave me in awe of the picturesque area as the workshop was held at the Rainier Chapter House in Seattle.

(photo credit: Lora Grady Photography)

I have been fortunate enough to attend a variety of blog related events, conferences and workshops, and I have to say this was one of my absolute favorites.  Not only was the setting magical, the overall attention to detail throughout the full two days was off the charts.  The sessions were information packed, the food was divine and the hands-on classes were educational and fun!

(photo credit: Lora Grady Photography)

This workshop is designed for creatives looking to grow their businesses and branch out their skill sets.  Not an event just for bloggers, but also for individuals considering adding a website or blog to their business platform.  I actually quite liked that there was such a mix of talent at this event; there were photographers, event planners, florists, calligraphers, bakers, Etsy shop owners and designers.  It was quite the diverse group of passionate ladies.

Day one we spent a lot of time talking and learning from one another about creating our brands, making the most of our social media channels, understanding photography and our cameras and styling tips and tricks.

(photo credit: Lora Grady Photography)

Day two was a much more hands-on portion of the workshop.  We began the day learning watercolor brush calligraphy with Jenny Sanders and I found it to be so incredibly therapeutic.  I may have to start adding in a little watercolor play time to my schedule each week, just because I enjoyed it so much and appreciated how relaxing it was.

(photo credit: Lora Grady Photography)

Later in the day we also had the opportunity to learn floral arranging techniques from Ashley Beyer of Tinge Floral (if you are not following her on Instagram, grab your phone and do that right away).

(photo credit: Lora Grady Photography)

As much as I have always loved having fresh flowers around our home, I must admit that I typically slice each stem at an angle, pluck some leaves off and bunch them in a vase.  That is the extent of my floral arranging abilities, which tends to work out OK for me since I like things neat and symmetrical.  But the arrangements Ashley creates are anything from typical; they are thoughtful, whimsical and romantic.  And wouldn't you know it, with her tips I was able to put together something quite special all on my own.

(photo credit: Lora Grady Photography)

Not only did I learn a lot, I also ate quite well.  They brought in delicious meals from local restaurants each day, and also spoiled us with beautiful desserts.

(photo credit: Lora Grady Photography)

By the end of day two, I was exhausted in the best of ways!  I had soaked in information, shared information, formed new friendships, laughed and learned new crafts.  The icing on the cake was finally meeting Michaela in person, someone who I have long been friends with online.

So what did Mr. Jones do while I worked?  He is good about exploring on his own, so he mixed in some quiet don't-have-to-work-or-watch-the-kids-or-cook-or-build-something time with checking out the city time.  It always works out when he can do a little investigating while I work, because then he knows all of the places to take me during our final days of the trip.  Being that this was our first time to Seattle, I thought I would share the highlights of our very quick sight-seeing adventure.

Backing up to our arrival in Seattle, just off of the plane I was hungry and craving some Mexican food. #typical  The first restaurant we found turned out to be exactly what I was hoping for.  We ate at Moctezuma's and shared the Carne Asada Mexico City tacos... and a margarita.  Although I was trying to gaze into Bryan's eyes during our first lunch date in ages, I found myself getting quite distracted by all of the beautiful ceramic tile used throughout the restaurant.  The tacos were amazing.

Of course, our very first "tourist" stop was the market!

This is just a given when you go to Seattle and definitely worth making time for!  I knew it would be good, but you guys, the rows and rows of flowers were absolutely incredible.  I was completely geeking out over them all and scheming ways to get a few bundles home.

And the prices were just so good!

Although not every part of the market was as beautiful as the flower stands, there was so much to take in.  Fresh fish and seafood around every corner.  Baked goods, fruits, vegetables, pressed juices and meats and cheeses.  I was on sensory overload.

Not gonna lie... I never imagined I would be sharing a photo of fresh seafood on my blog.  But there is always a first for everything.  #ignorethefreakyfish  I purchased some fresh produce for the rest of our trip and the apples were some of the best I have had.  Not at all fishy tasting either which was a bonus.

It was near the market we also found Beecher's Cheese.  Being that we come from a state where everything is made better with cheese, we couldn't wait to test this place out.  It received four thumbs up, but we still think that cheese is one thing we do better in Wisconsin. #donthate 

From the market we walked up through Post Alley.  I also found a great antique store near this area where I found a vintage pink Pyrex baking dish in perfect condition.  That was my Seattle souvenir and it is now our new favorite dish for baking our weekend cinnamon rolls.

Moving along...

We do a lot of strolling when we travel just to take in as much of the city as we can.  Random fact - we are a very split household in the Apple/Samsung phone department and I am typically YAY Apple all of the way.  But the photo above was taken with Bryan's Galaxy and I have to say, it was a great shot!  I am also testing him to see if he is reading this right now, because he knows it took a lot for me to admit his phone did something much better than mine.

I also like to head to neighborhoods to check out house styles and exterior ideas.  I am not a creeper, I promise.  It is just fun to find ideas from real life homes in new cities.  Does anyone else love to do this?

We traveled mid-October and had a variety of sunny days and overcast days.  We only encountered a small amount of rain the entire trip, which was a pleasant surprise.  The views from all around the city were absolutely incredible, especially with all of the changing colors.

Although much of the city offers incredible views, our favorite viewing spot was at Kerry Park.  We went during the day...

And again at night.

Both times of the day offered a completely different, yet equally as amazing, view of the city.

Saturday afternoon we decided to take a drive to Woodinville, WA to do a little wine tasting.  We had read that this area of the state offered a variety of wineries and we figured the scenic drive would be something to enjoy.  And it was!

Just as we arrived in Woodinville, we found a very commercialized area with a variety of restaurants and wine tasting rooms.  At first we were a little disappointed, but after a little more map reading, we realized there was more to select from just outside of town.  We ultimately landed at JM Cellars and it was the perfect way to end the afternoon.

The grounds were peaceful and full of lovely fall views, a highlight of our entire trip.

There were a variety of quiet areas where we were able to just sit and relax with a glass of wine.  There was also a darling boccie court where we also engaged in a mini selfie session which ended in laughter (we definitely not selfie people - Kim K, if you are reading we need your tips).

We ended the evening back in Seattle, with a stroll near the water to see the city at night.

Our final morning we walked to the Starbuck's Roastery & Tasting Room.

This is not your typical Starbucks, it was a whole different experience. 

On our way out of town I found a cupcake shop that offered gluten-free cupcakes that didn't taste like gluten-free cupcakes.  Hands down, best meal of the trip. (wink, wink)

Seattle is full of an endless variety of places to eat, and we didn't have a bad meal the entire time we were visiting.  Here are a few other delish lunch/dinner spots that we would personally recommend based on our experiences during our trip:

  • Momiji Sushi: Perfect for fresh take-out at the end of a busy day
  • Via Tribunali: Authentic Neapolitan Pizza (the salads are wonderful as well)
  • The Crab Pot: This may not be the classiest seafood joint, but it was definitely the most fun I have ever had eating seafood (get ready to get dirty, they dump your dinner out onto the table in front of you and give you a hammer as your primary utensil).

Washington is such a beautiful state, I was constantly oohing and ahhing over the views and the gorgeous fall colors.  We really couldn't have asked for a better trip; everything from the fun-filled workshop to the sight-seeing and the food was all just so wonderful.  And my husband even survived watching the 49'ers vs. Seahawks game at a local establishment, without any need to call the police.  Although the 49'ers lost that game, I thought that night alone was a huge win.

(photo credit: Lora Grady Photography)

As I mentioned in my recent blogiversary post, I am hoping to share more of these experiences with you all, as traveling for work can be a fun mix of business and pleasure and it is nice to share some of the behind the scenes of our life. Plus, I wouldn't have known about many of these great little hot spots if it weren't for your sweet suggestions, so thank you for helping me travel better.  ♥

This week and always I am so thankful for you all!  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, November 23, 2015

42 Organized Coffee Cabinet

Happy Thanksgiving Week!  I just returned home from a week away and I feel like I am being thrown full force into the hustle that is hosting Thanksgiving dinner and then prepping for Christmas activities.

While my first priority at this point in the game would be to start planning our turkey menu and prepping our guest room, I happened to open my favorite and most used cabinet in the kitchen and let out a huge gasp...

If the image above was what I had seen in that moment, I would have been dancing in delight.  The before was more like this....

Please tell me you still love me.

The photo above was taken with my cell phone to begin the planning process.  This is something I started to do recently and I have found it to be quite helpful.  I study the photo and I think about what I can do without, how I want the space to ultimately function, plan out storage ideas and item placement.  I also take the photo with me while shopping for any storage items I may need and use a nearby notebook or the notepad on my phone to keep track of any measurements and ideas.

We have been slowing organizing our kitchen, one cabinet and drawer at a time.  This has allowed me to really reduce the number of items we need and think about how we utilize our kitchen on a daily basis.  So far we have purged quite a bit during our cabinet clean-outs, and there were also quite a few items on the chopping block in this cabinet as well.  I also had a couple of things that were waiting to be added to this cabinet, so it was really necessary to let some things go to make room for a the new pieces.

Living in a location that is cold 50% of the year (and knowing that I feel cold 100% of the year), means that we find ourselves drinking a lot of coffee, cocoa and tea (morning, noon and night).  We also eat a lot of soup and warm cereal.  Because we love hot beverages and meals, my coffee mug collection tends to keep biggering and biggering and biggering.  I have to learn to "just say no" to this addiction... and this clean out was a huge wake-up call to just how many mugs I had acquired over the past few years (there were a few more in a nearby cabinet as well - yikes).  And not only do we enjoy drinking a variety of warm drinks, we also love to serve up a fancy coffee or cocoa to our guests as well.  It was definitely time to figure this cabinet out, and before hosting our family this week.

My first step was to remove everything, wipe down the shelves and sort through the mess.  I moved all of the water bottles to the lunch cabinet and the individual drawers in our coat closet.  I held a small farewell party for the darling coffee mugs that didn't make the final cut, and finally found a home for those random cinnamon sticks.

When I traveled to NYC back in September, I fell in love with some over-sized, handmade mugs.  They were painted and full of character and best of all, could act as soup bowls, oatmeal bowls or hot beverage mugs.  I purchased six so that we had enough for our entire family to use at once, and they were the first item on my list to figure out how to store.  I went to our utility room and found some large cup hooks which we were able to screw into the bottom side of a shelf after a little measuring and pre-drilling action.

The hooks allow me to easily grab from any of the mugs without them being piled on top of one another.  Because stacking the mugs can also create a cracking/breaking risk, these hooks were the perfect solution for my favorite NYC souvenir.

Because I look at this cabinet multiple times per day, including first thing in the morning, I really wanted it to be special.  However, I didn't want to do anything permanent, so I found some thin mat board (courtesy of my photography supply stash) which I painted a deep navy color.

Our shelves push quite tight to the back of the cabinet, so I sliced each piece of the mat down to size and popped them in-between the shelves.

Now it was ready for all of the goodies, I just love the contrast of the deep navy and white:

We already had some of these canisters from Target to hold ground coffee beans, chocolate chips, whole coffee beans, and a variety of cocoa, you just couldn't see them before behind the cluttered piles.  They stack nice and neat and now it is much easier to see the contents.  The creamer and sugar pot are on a tray that can easily be brought to the dining table or my desk. 

 This shelf also holds our milk frother, travel mugs and special syrup.

At the moment, the only machine we utilize is a Nespresso.  I love espresso drinks, however, I don't love the daily cost so we have made the switch to French pressed coffee for our morning brew.  The middle shelf holds both of our French presses (one was being used while photographing this post) and our bean grinder.  The large mugs hang right within reach for daily use.

The top shelf holds the remainder of my smaller mugs, which work best for tea.  The covered tin stores our tea while the shelf riser offers a place for our kettle to live right where it belongs.  It also created a place for me to keep a few of my favorite mugs for iced coffee.

Down below I added a small tray (made using the same method as I did for our remote caddy) to provide a bit of height and to corral the remainder of our coffee station items.  The canister holds my Nespresso pods while the glass holds my coffee spoons.  The vase of flowers discretely hides the machine cord.

I am guessing not everyone utilizes an entire cabinet for warm meals and beverages, but this is probably the "hottest" cabinet in our kitchen.  And it feels so good to have such a dynamic before and after with just some de-cluttering and purging, a little paint and some smart storage.

Now we are ready to host our Thanksgiving guests!  Oh yeah... I still have that menu to create and shop for, and the guest room to clean... #priorities  Anyone else doing any last minute organizing before guests arrive?

Only a couple more cabinets and drawers to go and our kitchen will be in tip-top organized shape.  You can catch up on all of our completed kitchen organization below:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...