For Theo's first birthday, Jenn and Sanyo threw him a fun birthday party with the best theme (one that brought back so much nostalgia): "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" (by Eric Carle). It was perfect for Theo, because just like the caterpillar in the book, Theo loves to eat food! I loved how Jenn had prepared all the foods from the picture book with matching illustrations printed and displayed next to them. Joanne made so many colorful cookies that also looked exactly like the ones from the book (they looked too good to eat!). Jean painted a photo backdrop for the kids (and adults!) to stick their faces behind so they looked like caterpillars eating various foods (lollipop, slice of cherry pie, sausage, and cupcake). Everything was so creative & fun! After enjoying some tacos, Clay and I had a great time relaxing by the pool as we watched all the kids swim and Jack jump through the floaties (made us feel a little like we were at Sea World lol). Theo was so good during the cake cutting as he took photos with his mommy & daddy and all his grandparents. By the time we finished taking family photos, he was so ready to dig into his homemade blueberry smash cake that Jenn made just for him. "The Very Hungry Theo" sign next to him was way too fitting. Happy 1st birthday, Theo! Can't believe how much you've grown since the last time I photographed you when you were just one day old!
I finally went on my first trip to New York this summer!! We had been wanting to go visit Dennis (one of Clay's best friends & college roommates/post-college housemates) ever since he moved there back in 2015. Somehow our visit turned into a big group trip where 10 of us managed to travel from the Bay area, Portland, and Boston to New York all on the same weekend. Many thanks to our good friend Lewis (#chentours) for planning everything & bringing everyone together! We basically ended up having a huge college reunion in NYC for 5 days straight and it was awesome.
Our trip included lots of sightseeing, eating, and of course, plenty of time to catch up and hang out with friends.
Here's a brief recap of our itinerary, which was half-planned & half-spontaneous:
-Thursday 8/16: Toby's Estate Coffee (cafe), Lunch @ House of Small Wonder (Japanese restaurant), Devocion (cafe), Weekends (cafe), ferry from Williamsburg to DUMBO to see the Brooklyn & Manhattan Bridge, Dinner @ Roberta's (pizza & pasta), Bake Shop (vegan dessert), and Randolph Beer.
-Friday 8/17: Lunch @ Chelsea Market (indoor food market), The Lobster Place (oysters), Very Fresh Noodles (hand-pulled noodles), The High Line (an elevated railroad line turned into a public park), Cha Cha Matcha (cafe), Madison Square Park, Flat Iron Building, Eataly (indoor Italian-style marketplace), Dinner @ Pio Pio 8 (Peruvian restaurant), Time Square, Waitress Broadway musical @ Brooks Atkinson Theatre, Grace Street Cafe (dessert), and Maze (Korean bar).
-Saturday 8/18: Caprices by Sophie (French cafe), Lunch @ Smorgasburg (outdoor food market in Williamsburg where we tried Goa Taco, C Bao Asian Buns, & Jian Bing Company), East River State Park (waterfront with a great view of Manhattan), ferry from Williamsburg to Manhattan, Grand Central Station (famous train station), The Met (only got to go to the museum gift shop though), Central Park (Bethseda Terrace & Bow Bridge), Momofuku Milk Bar (dessert), Dinner @ TsuruTonTan Udon Noodle Brasserie (Japanese restaurant), Chorus Karaoke, and Woorijip (Korean food to-go).
-Sunday 8/19: Brooklyn Ball Factory (modern Japanese cafe), Lunch @ Win Son (Asian fusion restaurant), 9/11 Memorial & Museum, Oculus (train station & Westfield shopping mall), East Village, Momofuku Milk Bar (again!), Dinner @ Momofuku Ssam Bar, and Spot Dessert Bar (Asian & American-style dessert).
-Monday 8/20: Breakfast to-go @ Ess-A-Bagel, Rockefeller Center, Top of the Rock, Washington Square Park, Staten Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty, and Breads Bakery.
Definitely got to see a good amount of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, & Manhattan on this NYC trip! Both Clay and I felt like we were able to see everything that we wanted to see (Central Park for me and 9/11 Memorial Museum for him). We left feeling very satisfied with both the time that we had as tourists, as well as the time we had to spend with our friends.
Clay and I had the opportunity to explore Sacramento while on a trip to attend DK & Lauren's wedding in nearby Clarksburg. We arrived in Sac right at noon and headed straight to Tower Cafe, where I got to try their famous custard-soaked French toast per Lauren's recommendation! Clay ordered the Eggs Tower, their version of eggs benedict, his usual brunch choice. Afterwards, we got to check out some cool downtown murals and pick up some flavorful coffee at Temple, Sacramento's local coffee roaster. Since it was a pretty warm day, we decided to spend the rest of the afternoon staying cool at the trendy and modern Kimpton Sawyer Hotel until it was time to head over to the Old Sugar Mill for the wedding celebration. We were so happy to witness DK & Lauren seal the deal after 8+ years of dating! Their wedding was so sweet, beautiful, and full of thoughtful details that characterized the both of them (i.e., a farmers market wedding favor stand, a shaved ice food truck that catered dole whip popsicles, and a first dance to "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire"). After the wedding, we spent the night back at our hotel hanging out with Jeff & Kirstie, who we had booked the room with to share. The next morning, we had a lot of fun playing darts with them at Punch Bowl Social on the Kimpton's second floor, before we headed up to the third floor for a chill poolside hangout with the newlyweds! Our last stop in Sac before heading home was Gunther's, where the boys got ice cream cones and the girls got refreshing 50/50 fruit freezes.
Clay planned a weekend getaway for us to Safari West in Santa Rosa (which I never knew existed before). Our weekend consisted of a one-night stay in one of their giant African safari tents, as well as an in-room massage and an afternoon safari tour. I must admit, this glamping experience was quite pricy. Clay and I also had mixed feelings seeing some of the animals being kept in cages when we first arrived. However, we ended up really enjoying the safari tour, which helped us to change our minds about our initial reservations. Our 4-hour tour was extremely informative and allowed us to learn so much about each animal that we saw. We learned about how Safari West cares for its animals by practicing enrichment, which involves changing the animal's physical environment on a daily basis. We were able to see how the animals (whether it be monkey, rhino, or ostrich) really did have a good relationship with their caretakers. Some benefits the animals at Safari West get are: ample food and shelter, safety from predators, and breeding opportunities. Overall, it was neat to see how Safari West promotes wildlife conservation, research, and public education. It also gives those who love animals the opportunity to work closely with them. Pretty much all the employees we met there were genuinely excited and passionate about their work with the wildlife.
During our trip, we were also able to visit downtown Santa Rosa for a couple of meals, and were surprised by how hip the restaurants and coffee shops there were! Bird & the Bottle, where we went for brunch, served us a delicious Asian fusion dish. We also found out that Santa Rosa is the home of Charles Schulz! We saw several statues of different Peanuts characters scattered throughout downtown -- apparently, there are 70 statues in public view that one could spend an entire weekend looking for in Santa Rosa!
Celebrated Mia turning 1 year old with a Mermaid-themed birthday party! Clay and I helped make some simple seaweed skewers using some green sour belts on the morning of. All of the under-the-sea-themed foods that everyone prepared came together so well: mermaid mac 'n' cheese, octopus hot dogs, crab croissant sandwiches, starfish sandwiches, hermit crab strawberries, dolphin fruit cups (the dolphins were eating gold fish crackers), oyster & pearl madeleine cookies, grape kelp skewers, and colorful coral reef veggie tray. Everything on the table looked so good, especially with Joanne's teal & purple mermaid cake and assorted mermaid sugar cookies. Of course, the birthday girl looked cuter than ever that afternoon in her new mermaid outfit that Jenny found for her. Mia's grandma Jean made the most amazing photo booth backdrop for the occasion. Such clever use of streamers for seaweed and swimming pool noodles for a vibrant coral reef! Mia was the perfect little pearl to be placed on that light blue oyster. Had a lot of fun capturing her waving around her dinglehopper! Happy 1st birthday Mia! In your first year of life, we've hardly ever seen you cry, fuss, or get stranger danger. You are one of the sweetest babies that your Uncle Clay and I love to hold (and party on the dance floor with at weddings).
Just capturing as I go.