Big John’s PFI (Pacific Food Importers)

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now, but Big John’s recent obituary made me want to tell you all about one of my favorite stores in Seattle: Big John’s PFI (1001 6th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98134, 206-682-2022).

PFI's non-descript entrance

PFI’s non-descript entrance

PFI is a unique store, one that you don’t have to visit weekly, but one that any respectable Seattle-area foodie should visit monthly. We have our favorites and occasionally we’ll expand beyond our standard list: spices, pasta, special flour for the pizza oven, crushed tomatoes, candy, and sometimes meats, cheeses and wines.

Allow me to walk your through the store, and highlight our favorites:

Spices for days!

Spices for days!

About 1 million varieties of bulk salts, including truffle salt, my favorite!

About 1 million varieties of bulk salts, including truffle salt, my favorite!

More spices and grains

More spices and grains

So. Many. Flours. We've tried most of them!

So. Many. Flours. We’ve tried most of them!

Pizza flours. (Brandon's go-to combination is 60% Caputo, 40% Nero)

Pizza flours. (Brandon’s go-to combination is 60% Caputo, 40% Nera)

Bulk sweets: chocolate-covered everything (I'd highly recommend the milk chocolate-covered pecans...So would Brandon's Grandpa!)

Bulk sweets: chocolate-covered everything (I’d highly recommend the milk chocolate-covered pecans!)

From woodland creatures to chocolate-covered berries, they'll have something you'll love!

From woodland creatures to chocolate-covered berries, they’ll have something you’ll love!

Need large quantities of chocolate? You're in the right place

Need large quantities of chocolate? You’re in the right place

Even more sweets at PFI!

Even more sweets at PFI!

Dried pasta section, part one

Dried pasta section, part one

The other side of the dried pasta section

The other side of the dried pasta section

There are a lot of canned goods, vinegars, olive oils, wines, meats and cheeses available that I didn’t include here. Check out the Big John’s website (they have unexpected hours) to make sure they’re open before you head down.

If I’m not busy giving birth, maybe I’ll see you there this weekend? (Saturday… they’re closed on Sundays)

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{Gone Pinning} Fruit and flower anniversary gifts

Brandon and I are celebrating our FOURTH wedding anniversary in a little less than a month and with Baby Michael due just a mere 10 days before our anniversary, I’m a little early with this post, since I’d like to have Brandon’s gifts on lock down by the time the kid arrives!

We like to buy one another “traditional” anniversary gifts, as dictated by… Hallmark.

Check out our first (paper) anniversary gift ideas, second (cotton), and third (leather). (Pinterest became popular after our first anniversary, so I don’t have any ideas to share beyond what we did for one another: I made Brandon a book of coupons {I don’t think he’s redeemed any yet} and he gave me a photo album to capture our future memories together that I am sorry to say I haven’t used yet either. I’ll put it on my ‘to do’ list on my baby vacation!)

The fourth anniversary is the “fruit and flower” anniversary, so we’re using that to guide our gift giving. I typically turn to the internet for my gift-giving ideas and this anniversary is no exception. Here are some of the items that fit the bill:

Oh! Chocolate dipping class

We did this chocolate class when we had just started dating and it was a blast! We dipped everything and consequently ate everything too! Chocolate comes from a tree in tropical regions, so I’ve classified it as a fruit. Makes sense, right?

We've already taken the Oh! Chocolate dipping class, but it was so great, we'd do it again! Chocolate comes from trees, so it counts as a fruit or a flower, right?

Oh! Chocolate dipping glass

Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC

I’ve been to Victoria twice while Brandon has yet to visit– a first for us! (Brandon is much more the traveler of our couple.) A jaunt north on the Clipper would be a blast. Butchart Gardens looks pretty spectacular and it might be fun to try out a completely new place for both of us. We’d just have to get little Michael a passport!

A trip north, to Butchart Gardens, perhaps?

A trip north, to Butchart Gardens, perhaps?

Bloedel Reserve, Bainbridge Island

We’ve already been here too, and it was great. We actually went to Bainbridge Island for our first anniversary. It was also the first time Brandon received a student discount on admission to the Reserve. Clearly it was quite memorable. We would highly recommend that you pay the nominal fee (especially if you’re a student!) and walk through the beautiful grounds. It would also be great for a stroll with a wee babe!

The Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island

The Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island

Pike Place Market
We often cruise to the Market and could again for our anniversary. We could grab some mini-doughnuts, pose with the pig, and pretend (but for real) that we were there four years before doing the exact same thing!

Flowers from the Pike Place Market

Flowers from the Pike Place Market

Edible Arrangements 

What about fruit as flowers? The best of both worlds! This could be an option for Brandon, as long as it’s covered in chocolate!

Edible Arrangements

Edible Arrangements

Wine items

Wine comes from grapes and grapes are fruit, so I think we just hit the jackpot! Any sort of wine accessory could work. Maybe these wine glass screen hats for those blasted fruit flies? Or some new glasses, specific to the varietals that we drink most often? Maybe those wine glass picnic stands? I’d have to start going to more concerts and picnics. ‘Course, I could just get this instead…

Fancy wine glasses!? YES, please!

Fancy wine glasses!? YES, please!

Or, maybe I’ll deviate from the list and get something even more creative! (Hint, hint!) You’ll just have to check back in late September to find out what we gifted one another!

Close encounters with the Denver Broncos

Our pregame view: Amazing!

Our pregame view: Amazing!

Last Friday Brandon and I attended the first NFL preseason game here in Seattle between the Seahawks and the Denver Broncos. (And my first NFL game!) Brandon was born in Denver and attended his first Bronco game in utero, so it was pretty special that we were able to go to Friday’s game, even if it was just preseason.

We are lucky enough to have a friend who works for the Seahawks who hooked us up with sideline passes, so of course Brandon was in heaven.

Pregame ON THE FIELD!

Pregame ON THE FIELD!

It also made the perfect week 35 photos for our baby book! It was pouring down rain on Friday, we had an inch-and-a-half of rain in just a few hours, and I don’t have a rain jacket that covers my massive belly, so I look a bit like a wet dog, but that’s ok. It just adds to the story.

A little rain didn't dampen our spirits... just our hair.

A little rain didn’t dampen our spirits… just our hair.

Soaking wet and so, so happy!

Soaking wet and so, so happy!

Baby Michael's first Bronco game: in utero, just like his Dad!

Baby Michael’s first Bronco game: in utero, just like his Dad!

So close to the players!

So close to the players!

We left the sideline before the game started and were a little bummed that we didn’t accidentally run into anyone famous, but our seats were under cover and we were ready for warm and dry.

As we were deciding which way to go to get to our seats, Brandon’s hero John Elway emerged from one of the back hallways, with his entourage of management and security. We froze in our tracks and I had to pick his jaw up from the floor. We followed him, obviously, and ended up near the VIP elevator bank, where he was waiting to get up to the owner’s suite. John was just waiting there (cornered) and many people started to take notice.

(Of note: Brandon would have this reaction to pretty much four people: John Elway, Sylvester Stallone, Matthew McConaughey and Rachel McAdams. So seeing John Elway was BIG.)

We happened to bring a Broncos bib and sharpie (you never know when opportunity will strike!) and Brandon jumped at the chance to a) talk to his hero and b) get an autograph for Baby Michael.

Here they are, Brandon and John. Broncos historian and Broncos legend. Together at last. Turns out that John has never signed a bib before, so in addition to being slightly weird (his words) it was hopefully memorable too. And hopefully Baby Michael loves the Broncos as much as his Dad and Grandpa do!

Brandon and his hero: John Elway, Bronco legend

Brandon and his hero: John Elway, Bronco legend

The bib won’t be used, and instead will be memorialized forever in a shadowbox frame. I’ll post an after photo of the final product once it’s done, but for now you’ll have to be impressed with this wrinkled version. Thank you, Mr. Elway!

Coolest baby gift EVER! (Especially for the ultimate Broncos fan!)

Coolest baby gift EVER! (Especially for the ultimate Broncos fan!)

And some cool shots of the Seahawks, if they’re more your thing…

Beastmode!

Beastmode: Up close and personal!

Seahawk stretching

Seahawk stretching

Have a great week!

 

Michael’s ombre dresser

I recently posted an update on our soon-to-be-out-of-the-womb-baby Michael’s nursery and his new ombre dresser was definitely the star. (Just wait until you see the whale mobile! It’s even better!)

Here's the ombre dresser and changing table area.

Here’s the ombre dresser and changing table area.

I thought I’d share a quick tutorial, since this was one of the easiest transformations that I’ve done.

First, take before photos. I don’t take enough before photos.

We're thinking crib on this wall!

We’re thinking crib on this wall!

It looked good before but it looks better now!

It looked good before but it looks better now!

Before photo of the dresser

Before photo of the dresser

Find your color. I spent a lot of time in the paint sections at Lowe’s, Home Depot, and McLendon’s inspecting swatches. I finally found one that I really liked from Dutch Boy, swatch E19, with:

Ombre dresser paint swatch

Ombre dresser paint swatch

Moonlit Sky (E19-1), Twilight Navy (E19-2), Highland Mist (E19-3), and Well-worn Denim (E19-4)

Get your paint. I only painted the face of the dresser drawers, so I didn’t need much. In fact, all I needed was a sample size. I found these particular samples at Lowe’s. Sample sizes are 8 ounces and I used far less than half of each. I wanted to get the samples in “glossy,” but they only have them in eggshell. Eggshell turned out just fine for the $2.99 price tag. {McLendon’s had Dutch Boy paint samples but they were $8.99 for the same size. WAY too much for the little amount of paint that I needed!}

Paint samples

Paint samples

Prep. I labeled all of my shelves in the order that they sat into the dresser, so I didn’t get them mixed up or have to repaint over and over again. I unfolded a plastic sheet in my spray painting area outside and set up shop. I used sponge crafting brushes and painted right from the container. I used four brushes and threw them all out when I was finished.

Drawers, drawers, drawers!

Drawers, drawers, drawers!

Paint. Paint and paint and paint. My dresser was already “primed” (painted white), so we just needed one coat and some minor touch ups. It was a warm day and we let the drawers dry overnight.

Painted dresser drawers!

Painted dresser drawers!

Finish. After the paint was dry, we took the drawers back in the house and screwed in the new hardware, these pulls from Target. You’ll note that this is a six-pack and we have eight drawers. I was able to find a near perfect match with pulls from Home Depot, thankfully.

Let’s look at this beauty one more time. Ah: I love it! And, in case you were wondering, it’s completely full of diapers, wipes, blankets, outfits, and accessories for Baby Michael. Just four more weeks until his due date!

Here's the ombre dresser and changing table area.

Here’s the ombre dresser and changing table area.

{2015} S’more Day

Guess what today is? NATIONAL S’MORE DAY!

Mallow Bits

Mallow Bits

This kid has given me an incredible sweet tooth and that sweet tooth has a sweet spot for s’mores. I’ve always been interested in the combination of marshmallow, chocolate and graham cracker but it’s been kicked up a notch the past few months.

If the weather cooperates, I’ll be making {another} batch of s’more chocolate chip cookies. Perhaps you’ll join me?

It’s quite easy: take your favorite chocolate chip cookie –or any cookie really — recipe (some suggestions here), add some of mini marshmallows or these “Mallow Bits” I found at Target, some crumbled graham crackers, and voila! S’MORE COOKIES.

The s'more cookies I made for a potluck last week.

The s’more cookies I made for a potluck last week.

Here are some other ways you can celebrate:

Want to celebrate with others? 
Celebrate S’Mores Day at Theo Chocolate, taking place on August 10 and 11 from noon to 5 p.m. at their factory in Fremont. Delicious homemade marshmallows and graham crackers combined with tasty Theo Chocolate makes for a very special treat.

Best part? $1 of every s’more goes to Food Lifeline and stopping hunger in Western Washington.

S'mores for TWO days at Theo!

S’mores for TWO days at Theo!

Want to celebrate with yourself? I have some ideas for you:
S’more bark
A triple chocolate s'more bark, perhaps?  

A triple chocolate s’more bark, perhaps?

S’more pizza

I love pizza. S'more + pizza = Sounds amazing!  

I love pizza. S’more + pizza = Sounds amazing!

S’more lasagna 

S'more lasagna? Yes, please.

S’more lasagna? Yes, please.

And some recipes for the full year? Thanks, Country Living! 

S'more recipes for the whole year... 

S’more recipes for the whole year…

I hope you have a very enjoyable s’more day! I know I will!

2015 National Night Out (Tomorrow!)

It’s already August (where did the past eight months go!?) and with that comes Election Day for those of us in Washington (make sure you vote!) and National Night Out. Both of which fall on the first Tuesday of August.

2015's National Night Out: TOMORROW! What are you bringing?

2015’s National Night Out: TOMORROW! What are you bringing?

What is National Night Out?

National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, better places to live. Together, we are making that happen.

National Night Out enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community and provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances.

Neighborhoods across the nation host block parties, festivals, parades, cookouts and other various community events with safety demonstrations, seminars, youth events, visits from emergency personnel and exhibits.

Growing up I was the Block Watch Captain for our block, organizing the Night Out potluck celebration each year.

Our Megan’s Island neighborhood usually has a get together and this year is only a little different. Our neighbor Dave professionally smokes meats (ribs, brisket, etc. — it smells SO good on our street come football season!) and will be cooking up BBQ chicken and brats for our Night Out celebration.

(Interesting side note: We toyed with the idea of having Dave bring is smoker up to our house and having fresh pizzas and smoked meats, but we didn’t get out stuff together fast enough this year or last. We’re planning a separate neighborhood pizza party instead. Besides, two parties is better than one, right?)

The assignment for those attending our neighborhood potluck this year is to bring a side dish to share. I usually go with brownies, but since it’s been so hot and brownies are kind of boring, I’ve been scouring the internet for a new recipe and I think I’ve found the perfect dish to bring: a watermelon goat cheese salad. (Of course, any and all of these hot weather eats would be perfect for your Night Out celebration!)

I found this recipe in my new (library-issued) Food52 Cookbook, which happens to be our cookbook of the week this week. It’s perfect for the season and should be perfect for a large group of our neighbors. I plan on making a few (mostly lazy) changes, so I’ll include them here. If you want to see the official recipe, visit Food52.

Watermelon and Goat Cheese Salad with a Mint-Basil Infused Vinaigrette
Serves 4

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 handful fresh mint basil 
  • teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 seedless watermelon
  • 1/2 pound fresh goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup unsalted pistachios
  • tablespoons red vine vinegar
  • teaspoon sea salt
  • dash fresh pepper
  1. Roughly chop the mint basil and add the olive oil and the coarse salt. Grind for about 10 minutes and let it sit for about 1 hour at room temperature. (The original calls for using a mortar and pestle, but we don’t have one of those. I’ll improvise.)
  2. Cut the watermelon into cubes and place in a salad bowl in the refrigerator.
  3. Place the pistachios in a pan and on low heat toast them for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove the pistachios from the pan and chop them roughly. Set aside in a small bowl.
  5. Crumble the goat cheese.
  6. Take the olive oil and mint-basil mix and put it through a small mixer. When completely mixed add the vinegar. Mix again.
  7. Take the watermelon out of the fridge, add the goat cheese, drizzle the vinaigrette, sprinkle the pistachios and finish with sea salt and pepper. Mix and serve!

This is what it’s supposed to look like. Check my Instagram feed tonight to see how my version turns out!

Food52's watermelon goat cheese salad

Food52’s watermelon goat cheese salad

I hope you’re able to enjoy Neighborhood Night Out tomorrow and get to know your neighbors!