2017 year in review

What a year it’s been!

As 2017 began, we had no idea where the year would take us. Brandon continued interviewing, traveling to New Orleans, Phoenix, Reno, and Buffalo. After accepting a position with the University at Buffalo in March, we were able to start our Seattle Bucket List and get everything in order to move across the country and remodel and rent our Seattle home.

While we were waiting for Brandon’s offer, we explored the west coast. Michael continued his love of travel with a visit to Santa Barbara to celebrate his Great Grandpa Joe’s 95th birthday and meet some of his extended Szerwo relatives. We also put our passport to good use and traveled to Bliss Landing on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, one of Brandon’s favorite places. In May, we marked Mt Rainier National Park off of our bucket list for a fun Mother’s Day trip with my parents.

Bliss Landing, British Columbia

Michael’s first sandy beach: Santa Barbara, CA

Junior Ranger: Michael!

2017 was also the year that we found out that Michael had allergies: both food and pet. We were able to figure out his food sensitivities and can avoid his main allergen (soy) pretty well. Unfortunately, his cat and dog allergy meant that the cats wouldn’t make the trip to Buffalo with us and we found a great home for them. Their new Cat Mom is wonderful and she continues to send at-least-weekly updates, which I love. Everyone is happier with the new arrangement but me.

I love these cats!!

We experienced more of the wrapping up of our life in Seattle, with Megan leaving the City of Seattle at the end of May and Brandon graduating from UW in June.

Professor Szerwo.

After saying good bye to our family and friends, a quick jaunt to Idaho to visit Brandon’s parents, and setting the remodel of our Seattle home in motion, we were off!

Our epic road trip took us through 14 states, traveling more than 3300 miles in 11 days. Epic road-tripping with a 1.75-year-old you say? It’s totally doable. We definitely had our ups and downs, but we had so much fun that we would actually do it again! We visited national parks (Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Badlands, and Wind Cave), national monuments (Mt. Rushmore, Jewel Cave, and Devil’s Tower), other national things (Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site), and even a couple of can’t-miss roadside attractions (the Crazy Horse monument, Corn Palace, and Wall Drug in South Dakota, and a larger-than-life Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth, Minnesota).

Some days were better than others. Michael was only crying because we made him stop exploring the rocks at the base of Devil’s Tower.

We landed in Buffalo, toured the house we bought the next day, and got ready for our next big adventure!

Our new Buffalo home

Since relocating, we’ve kept our travel fairly local to Buffalo, including a trip to NYC in September to cheer on our beloved UW Huskies (and check off more national park service sites (Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island national monuments) and another new state for Michael (New Jersey)!).

Playing tourist in NYC

In October, I started as an Area Director with N2 Publishing. I’m currently ramping up a neighborhood newsletter in the Delaware Park neighborhood in Buffalo. I used to write for our N2 newsletter on Mercer Island and knew I wanted to work with them after we moved.

Michael took swim lessons and has discovered he’s a fish. (It only took 5 weeks of tearful lessons to discover!) We celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary, and we enjoyed seeing Alton Brown as a part of UB’s Distinguished Speaker series.

Michael’s turned two in September and we celebrated with all of our new friends! We have developed some great friendships here already and had a wonderful backyard BBQ for Michael’s birthday, complete with a water table and giant homemade bubbles. (Until a certain two-year-old decided to touch the very hot grill…)

Michael’s 2nd birthday

We’ve had some wonderful house guests at our new home and have the tourist routine down pretty well. We’re accepting visitors and would love to show you around our new town. Our favorites include: Niagara Falls, Niagara on the Lake (a quaint Carmel-by-the-Sea-esque town in Canada on the shores of Lake Ontario), downtown Buffalo, the Darwin Martin House (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright), and authentic Buffalo eats: beef on weck, chicken wings, sponge candy, and loads of pizza, ice cream and doughnuts. (Those are the six Buffalo food groups, we think.)

For Halloween, Michael dressed up as a Buffalo Zoo zookeeper and tried residential trick-or-treating for the first time. He made it to about 12 houses in 45 minutes, and continues to enjoy the sweets he received.

Zookeeper Michael

We trekked back to Seattle for Thanksgiving, celebrating the holiday, another Husky Apple Cup victory, and our new niece/cousin Isabella Mamiya! She and Michael were fast friends.

A visit to the market!

We’re wrapping up the year in Buffalo, and enjoying a white Christmas for the first time in a very long time.

2018 is going to be a great year with the launch of my monthly neighborhood newsletter, Brandon’s continued research and first Intro to Managerial Accounting class (550 students!) and lots of new east coast adventures!

University at Buffalo!

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2014 in review

After a nice little break from the blog, spending time with friends and family, I’m BACK!

Here is our year in review: 2014 was a great year for the us, a year full of great wine, great food, great company and a whole lot of adventure.

2014-year-in-review

We started of the year with a New Year’s Day flight north. Way north. We spent the first few days of the year in the Arctic Circle, in the town of Bettles, to see the Northern Lights. (More here.)

Watching sunrise (about 11 a.m.) inside of the Arctic Circle, in Bettles, AK. (Sun set around 1 p.m.!)

Watching sunrise (about 11 a.m.) inside of the Arctic Circle, in Bettles, AK. (Sun set around 1 p.m.!) Yes, our jackets are lines with wolf fur. No, they’re not ours.

From there, we had many more travel-required adventures for wedding celebrations: to New Orleans, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Flathead Lake, Montana, and Portland!

It wasn’t just wedding travel this year. We just returned from a pleasure trip to the Big Island of Hawaii. The trip was the perfect mix of relaxation and adventure: we tanned ourselves on the beach, snorkeled with manta rays, photographed a lot of Green Sea Turtles, opened the second-largest telescope (at nearly 14,000 feet on the world’s tallest mountain!), hiked the lava flows at the national park, and used our Northern Lights training to take night time photos of the world’s most active volcano. (I’m working on the blog post now!)

Here are some photos from the trip, to start your thinking about traveling someplace sunny and warm on this dreary winter day:

We spent the first part of our trip here, at the Mauna Lani hotel. It was gorgeous!

We spent the first part of our trip here, at the Mauna Lani hotel. It was gorgeous!

Our first sunset on the Big Island

Our first sunset on the Big Island

Sunset from our manta ray snorkel tour boat, outside of Kona

Sunset from our manta ray snorkel tour boat, outside of Kona

Sunset from almost 14,000 feet, at the Mauna Kea observatories

Sunset from almost 14,000 feet, at the Mauna Kea observatories

One of many turtles (and turtle photos) we saw on our trip

One of many turtles (and turtle photos) we saw on our trip

Black sand beach on the sound end of the Big Island

Black sand beach on the sound end of the Big Island

Macadamia nuts for days

Macadamia nuts for days

In August, I was featured as a ‘lifestyle blogger’ on one of Seattle’s morning television programs on Q13. Watch the clip here. It was another great adventure and hopefully the first television appearance of many.

Q13 tailgating segment

In addition to this blog and my day job, my part-time baby business, Little Britches Bakery, is flourishing this year. I shut down the website last spring and instead started selling via Etsy, seeing a great jump in orders this past year. Now it’s time for the shameless plug: if you’re shopping for new parents, check out Little Britches Bakery!

2014 was the year of the pizza for those of us on Megan’s Island. We finished Fatto a Mano (our wood-fired oven) in August and love, love, love it. We’ve perfected our foccacia and pizza crust recipes and will be trying out other dishes in the oven this year.

Finished pizza oven with Geroni-gnome, our watch'gnome'

Finished pizza oven with Geroni-gnome, our watch’gnome’

A wonderful shot of the flames leaping toward the pizza

A wonderful shot of the flames leaping toward the pizza

That’s about it for 2014. We’re closing the chapter on another stellar year for us and we’re looking forward to an even better year in 2015. I hope it’s a great year for you too!

Cheers to 2015! Thanks for reading!!

Goodbye, summer

While I’m excited for the fall, today is a little sad: it’s the last day of summer. Between work and Brandon’s big test, we started summer a bit late, but tried to enjoy every minute of the short summer we did have.

Here’s a look back:

Visiting a new-to-me state: MONTANA for Brandon’s brother’s wedding:

The happy couple

The happy couple

A mama mountain goat and her baby at Glacier

A mama mountain goat and her baby at Glacier

We weren’t able to make it raspberry picking, but the blueberries were delicious!

Blueberry picking in North Bend

Blueberry picking in North Bend

I WAS ON TV!!!! And crafted with a new medium: AstroTurf!

Looked good on TV!

Looked good on TV!

The pizza oven finally became a reality!

A wonderful shot of the flames leaping toward the pizza

A wonderful shot of the flames leaping toward the pizza

We visited Carmel for another wedding, more wine and wonderful extended family time:

We visited Carmel

We visited Carmel

We gardened and grew basil-mint! And figs. And lots of herbs. Next year we’re going to have raised beds and plant lots of veggies!

Our basil-mint bush

Our basil-mint bush

We enjoyed Seafair, the Blue Angels (from land and sea!) and had a nice little staycation. (I forgot about that post and re-discovered the photos in my phone. I’ll work on that post next!)

SeaFair 2014: The Blue Angels from I-90

SeaFair 2014: The Blue Angels from I-90

Have a wonderful last day of summer — we’re going to grill some kalbi steaks for steak salads.

We’ll see if we can’t enjoy a few more dinners out on the patio. Cheers to fall!

My happy place: Our backyard

My happy place: Our backyard