Shopping small

Today marks the start of the Christmas shopping season and I’m posting this from an outlet mall far, far away from Megan’s Island. This is the sixth or seventh year of this tradition and even though I’m not shopping for a new big screen TV or any presents really, I love spending this quality time with these friends, even if it is way too early in the morning.

I’m not against big box stores or easy ordering on Amazon, or even the medium-sized stores, but this year we’ve made a concerted effort to “shop small” when shopping for presents. We’re about halfway done with our holiday shopping and I’d encourage you think small when you shop this year.

To make shopping small easier for you, I’ve decided to highlight several businesses owned by some of my favorite people. Bookmark these links for the future, to shop beyond just the holidays!

Bottle and Bull

Bottle and Bull

Bottle & BullThis new Kirkland restaurant, run by my favorite restaurateur couple Jessi and Chad, opened this week. Stop by to fuel your shopping adventures or pick up a gift card to put in someone’s stocking! Experience the travels of Ernest Hemingway through your palette, eating and drinking your way through the cities that Hemingway loved to frequent; Havana, Paris, Florence and Pamplona (where he discovered his love for bull fighting!) to name a few.

Coloring Nature

Coloring Nature

Coloring Nature. My friend Cari and her husband own this organic landscaping company. Beyond landscaping, they offer holiday wreaths, succulent logs, floral design, corks, and occasional classes. You can find Coloring Nature online and at the Fremont Sunday Market.

Coloring Nature

Coloring Nature

Coppersmith Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy is my favorite physical therapy clinic for all that ails me. In fact, I’ve been a loyal customer for more than 30 years, since the clinic is owned by my parents. If you have physical therapy needs, I highly recommend you head to Coppersmith PT! (Thanks for being blog readers, Mom & Dad!)

Dailey Method. The Dailey Method is a unique combination of ballet barre work, core conditioning, muscle strengthening, yoga, and orthopedic exercises. Owners Brenda and Michelle are killer yet magical instructors and they offer online purchasing options as well as gift cards. They even feature local businesses (like Little Britches Bakery) in their lobby. Extra shop small points for the Dailey Method!

Davenport Cellars. I love myself some wine and Davenport Cellars is run and owned by two of my favorite winemakers. Not only are their wines fantastic, their price point can’t be beat. My “favorite” bottle of Davenport flips on a weekly basis, from the Cab-dominant Continuity to the Merlot-dominant RHD. I have recruited several friends to join the Davenport wine club and I’d encourage you to head over to Woodinville, taste some wine and support Washington winemakers and this small business.

Davenport Cellars

Davenport Cellars

Style By Wendy helps those who feel outdated, frumpy, or insecure to discover more confidence in their closet. Whether it is a closet clean-out, creating outfits with your clothes, personal shopping, or determining your color wheel, Wendy makes you feel good about yourself and what you wear every single day. 

Libby's Paper Party Hats

Libby’s Paper Party Hats

Libby’s Paper Party Hats. My dear friend Libby (and future business partner, if everything goes as planned!) makes paper party hats, banners and more, selling her wares on Etsy. Libby’s paper party hats are beautiful and crafted with talent and love. I received a my very own University of Washington-themed paper party hat for my 31st birthday. It’s great, isn’t it!?

Me & my dead duck friend. Hat from Libby's Paper Party Hats! Thank you, Lib!!

Me & my dead duck friend. Hat from Libby’s Paper Party Hats! Thank you, Lib!!

Little Britches Bakery. Shameless plug right here! Little Britches Bakery is my part-time gig and my creative outlet. It isn’t a real bakery, instead its completely inedible, practical and completely usable baby gifts that look like your favorite bakery treats. (They’re “too sweet to eat,” get it!?) You should for sure follow Little Britches on Etsy, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and think of Little Britches next time one of your friends announces a pregnancy. I ship anywhere in the US and offer completely customizable baby gifts!

My Little Britches Bakery onesie cupcakes

My Little Britches Bakery onesie cupcakes

Vine Trainings. The perfect party: you, your friends, and some delicious wines. My friend Zach teaches Vine Trainings classes, including a minimum of seven wines, several hours of personalized and hands-on instruction, and a whole lot of fun. All you need is seating for 10-12 people and somewhere for the wine glasses! Prices start at $35/person, and the specific wines and styles are customizable and negotiable. I wrote about Vine Trainings earlier this year.

Our Vine Trainings set up

Our Vine Trainings set up

Seafood Lover’s Pacific Northwest. I may link to Amazon, but you can find this at a local independent book seller. (We bought our copy at the University Bookstore.) This is my friend Karen’s first book and she set the bar high for her upcoming projects! Her book is great– it has a little bit of everything: recipe, recommendations, lore, and more! The book has inspired Brandon and I to explore the well-known gems and the diamonds in the rough that we had no idea about. After hearing about all of Karen’s oyster experiences, I’m going to give them another shot! Spoiler alert: we bought extra copies for Christmas presents!

Seafood Lover's Pacific Northwest

Seafood Lover’s Pacific Northwest

I have several photographer friends and would recommend any and all of them. Here are the local Seattle-area photogs: Erin Schedler PhotographyKristi Waite Photography, and Mike Fiechtner Photography (you’ll see our wedding photos on the home page!).

Tomorrow is Small Business Saturday and I hope you take some time to “shop small” this holiday season!

Happy Thanksgiving {2014}

Hello and happy Thanksgiving from Megan’s Island! We’re thankful for YOU!

We’ve already feasted and now we’re relaxing and cheering on the Seahawks.

I took last year’s turkey-shaped vegetable tray to a whole new level with this beauty:

Our turkey-shaped antipasti plate

Our turkey-shaped antipasti plate

It contains:

  • The lemon/carrot/broccoli/sugar-eyed head
  • Cubes of triple-cream brie
  • Reduced-fat smoked gouda “feathers”
  • Marinated artichokes
  • Three types of cured meats
  • Black olives
  • Marinated mushrooms with garlic
  • Whole baby corn
  • Extra-long asparagus

And a couple more photos, since I love this thing and there isn’t too much left to look at– it got devoured!

Thanksgiving appetizer platter

Thanksgiving appetizer platter

I used tacky glue to attach the head features this year. I'd recommend the super glue we used last year, but the tacky glue worked.

I used tacky glue to attach the head features this year. I’d recommend the super glue we used last year, but the tacky glue worked

I love this thing! So cute AND delicious!

I love this thing! So cute AND delicious!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

{Wine Wednesday} Thanksgiving wine pairings

WineWednesday

Lucky us: Vine Pair came through again (Halloween candy-booze pairings) and created this infographic pairing wine, beer and booze with almost every Thanksgiving dish option:

thanksgiving-wine-beer-booze-pairing

If your Thanksgiving drinking plans call for wine, keep the corks and bottles! I’m working on some fun holiday wine bottle and cork crafts that I’ll showcase next week! Three cheers for Thanksgiving!

 

Thanksgiving appetizers

Sorry for the lack of posts this past week– I caught the crud that seems to be going around and it settled in for awhile. I hope I start feeling better soon! I’d like to be close to 100% for Thanksgiving and my annual Black Friday shop-a-thon.

My Thanksgiving vegetable tray turned out so well last year, my parents have asked me to bring an appetizer again this year for our festivities.

Thanksgiving vegetable tray | Megan's Island Blog

Thanksgiving vegetable tray | Megan’s Island Blog

I’ve scoured the internet (twist my arm!) and found some great new ideas. I won’t have a photo until Thursday, when I actually build the thing, but I’ve decided to take last year’s veggie tray and add olives, cheeses, and cured meats and make it a full-on antipasti platter, shaped as a turkey! Genius, right? And surprisingly, it doesn’t really exist on the internet. There is a first time for everything!

If turkey-shaped veggie and antipasti platters aren’t your thing, here are some other great ideas for Thanksgiving appetizers. I hope you have a great {short!} week!

Turkey cheese and cracker platter

Turkey cheese and cracker platter

Prosciutto cups 

Prosciutto cups with pear

Baked brie with cranberries and pistachios

Baked brie with cranberries and pistachios

Cranberry baked brie bites

Cranberry baked brie bites

Happy Thanksgiving week!

Autumn apple and sausage scramble

More often than not, our dinners involve sauteing some meats and veggies on the stove with olive oil, salt and pepper. I call these “scrambles.” I also call scrambled egg dishes scrambles, but this one didn’t involve eggs. It was just a mishmash of ingredients.

For this week’s “theme eating,” we’re enjoying apples. All sorts of apples. I found several different recipes (here, here and here) via Pinterest and last night we tried out our first one.

This Autumn Apple Sausage Couscous looked good and piqued my interest.

The inspiration for our dinner

The inspiration for our dinner

I love couscous, but it didn’t seem right for this dish. I opted for faro instead. (It was a good move on my part!)

The recipe called for chicken sausage with Gouda, which I couldn’t find at the Trader Joe’s I was shopping at. (Plus Brandon doesn’t like cheese, so that would’ve been a no-go for him. Yes, he’s crazy for not liking cheese!) Instead I bought the Sweet Apple chicken sausages, which had some brown sugar and maple flavoring. I also picked up some reduced fat Gouda for my portions. All of the ingredients for this dish came from Trader Joe’s. I love grocery shopping and visiting lots of stores, but I also love one-stop shopping.

Here’s the ingredient list: 

  • (1) chopped Granny Smith apple (I could’ve used two)
  • (1) package of sliced Sweet Apple chicken sausage
  • (1) package of 10 minute quick-cooking farro (or couscous, or quinoa, or whatever!)
  • 1/2 chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup whole pecans, lightly toasted
  • Salt, pepper to taste

And the instructions: 

  1. Brown the sausage with a light drizzle of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  2. Cook the farro according to the package instructions. (We use the “boil” technique listed on the side of the package.)
  3. Add the chopped apple and chopped onion to the frying pan. Continue heating over medium heat. Stir occasionally, for about 10-15 minutes. Add cranberries and pecans to pan, with about 2-5 minutes remaining.
  4. Add cheese if you’d like and voila! Dinner is served!
Our dinner

Our dinner

It totally slipped my mind but I was going to add my favorite apple cider vinegar and shallot dressing (reprinted from FitSugar) to this dish (below). This is a delicious recipe with or without the dressing and would make an excellent Thanksgiving side dish!

Apple Cider Vinegar & Shallot Dressing

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper
Directions

  1. Whisk together honey, apple cider vinegar, shallot, lemon juice, mustard powder, and dried basil.
  2. Slowly pour in olive oil while whisking to emulsify.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Pour into jar with lid and refrigerate. Makes about 1 cup of dressing.

 

 

 

{Gone Pinning} Big Island bound!

GonePinning

Brrrrr! The polar vortex is back and Seattle is pretty chilly these days. We’re staying warm by dreaming about the sun and planning the itinerary for our December trip to the Big Island of Hawaii. We’ll be splitting our time on both the Kona and Hilo coasts and we’ll likely spend a night in the volcano part of the island.

bigisland_island_map

Here are some of the exciting excursions that we have in mind. Click on the photos for more information:

We’ve secured a twilight tour of the Gemini telescope and we’re SO excited about it! The stars are going to be amazing!!

Gemini telescope at Mauna Kea Observatory 

Gemini telescope at Mauna Kea Observatory

The manta ray dive company we heard really good things about is unfortunately not operating while we’re in Hawaii, but we’re looking at alternative tours! This looks so cool!

Manta ray swimming tour

Manta ray snorkel tour

We’re planning on seeing a lot of lava on our trip. These sights are pretty awesome in photos like this and I’ve heard they’re even better after dark. We’re looking into night-time tours now!

Lava meets water

Lava meets water

This is where Captain James Cook moored when he visited the Island in 1778 and where he died the following year. The snorkeling here, at Kealakakua Bay, is reportedly some of the best in the islands. This link also has what appear-to-be great tips for the Big Island:

Captain Cook monument

Captain Cook monument

I’ve never seen so many unique sand beaches in my life! We’ll hit up the black sand beach and the GREEN sand beach! Green!!! How fun!

Green Sand beach

Green Sand beach

I’ve discussed the sites, and now it’s on to the food. This link has some great suggestions and we’ll definitely hit up this malasada place. (Brandon loves them!)

Malasadas! Yes, please.

Malasadas! Yes, please.

It’s not a true vacation of ours without a visit to a winery. The Volcano Winery will do!

We love wine! This one appears to be an award winner!

We love wine! This one appears to be an award winner!

We’re still taking recommendations, so share some of your favorite tips for fun on the Big Island!

 

Happy birthday, Washington!

The wonderful state of Washington turned 125 today! Happy birthday! (Washington became the 42nd state in the United States on November 11, 1889.)

We celebrated with a bottle of Washington wine: the 2009 Cave B XXIV Merlot. It needed to breathe a bit but is drinking wonderfully as I type this post. (We paired it with a big bowl of “pasta:” spaghetti squash, chicken Italian sausage, kale, mushrooms and onions. Now that I think about it, we totally should have made something more “Washington”… Maybe next year!)

Celebrating Washington's birthday  with some excellent Washington wine

Celebrating Washington’s birthday with some excellent Washington wine

Back to Washington. Here are some fun state facts for you Washingtonians (and those out-of-state readers interested in our fine state):

  1. The state of Washington is the only state to be named after a United States president. Before it became a state, the territory was called Columbia (named after the Columbia River). When it was granted statehood, the name was changed to Washington, supposedly so people wouldn’t confuse it with The District of Columbia.
  2. Seattle is home to the first revolving restaurant, 1961. (The Space Needle)
  3. Washington state produces more apples than any other state in the union.
  4. Washington state has more glaciers than the other 47 contiguous states combined and eighty percent of the glacial ice in the contiguous U.S is found in Washington State. (We love you, Alaska!)
  5. Washington flagEverett is the site of the world’s largest building, Boeing’s final assembly plant
  6. The oldest operating gas station in the United States is in Zillah.
  7. Washington’s state insect is the Green Darner Dragonfly.
  8. Washington’s state gem is petrified wood (We have a piece at home!)
  9. The world’s first soft-serve ice cream machine was located in an Olympia Dairy Queen.
  10. Starbucks, the biggest coffee chain in the world was founded in Seattle.
  11. Puget Sound’s many islands are served by the largest ferry fleet in the United States.
  12. The forests of the Olympic Peninsula are among the rainiest places in the world and the only rainforests (such as the Hoh Rain Forest) in the continental United States
  13. The percentage of non-religious people in Washington is the highest of any state, and church membership is among the lowest of all states.
  14. United Airlines was originally owned by the Boeing Airplane Company.
  15. Popular games Pictionary, Pickle-ball, and Cranium were all invented in Washington.
  16. Famous Washingtonians include: John Elway (football great and Brandon’s hero), Macklemore (musician), Ryan Lewis (musician/producer), Bob Barker (TV host), Ray Charles (singer/musician), Fred Couples (golf), Bing Crosby (actor/singer), Bill Gates (Microsoft Founder), Jimi Hendrix (guitarist), Quincy Jones (music producer), Gary Larson (cartoonist), Kenny Loggins (singer), Steve Miller (musician), Ahmad Rashad (football & TV host), and Adam West (actor).
  17. Washington’s state motto is Al-Ki (Indian word meaning “by and by” — Also a neighborhood in West Seattle!)
  18. We have six National Forests and 215 State Parks.
  19. Washington is number one in the country in the production of hops, apples, pears, red raspberries, spearmint oil, and sweet cherries.
  20. Washington has over 1,000 dams, including the Grand Coulee Dam, the largest dam in the United States that my Grandpa helped build!
  21. Up to 5,000 wild horses roam the Yakima Indian Reservation.
  22. Washington is home to four of the five longest floating bridges in the world: the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge, Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge and Homer M. Hadley Bridge over Lake Washington, and the Hood Canal Bridge connecting the Olympic and Kitsap Peninsulas.
  23. Seattle was the first city in the world to pump Muzak into stores and offices.
  24. Seattle was the first American city to put police on bicycles.
  25. Washington is a leading lumber producer. Its rugged surface is rich in stands of Douglas fir, hemlock (the state tree!), ponderosa and white pine, spruce, larch, and cedar.

Read more about Washington and our state symbols here.

Happy birthday, Washington!!

Happy birthday, Washington!

Happy birthday, Washington!