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.
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).
At the beginning of June, our dear friends from Seattle, Eric, Lovina, Billy, and Saili came to visit us! Our plan was to spend the weekend exploring California's wine country together. I had only been wine tasting in Napa once before with Clay's coworkers 5 years ago and neither of us had thought of going back. But after this weekend, I finally understood why Napa is such a popular attraction! I didn't know the area could be so fun before this trip took place.
Anyway, here is a recap of what happened. Billy booked the Sonoma Farmhouse for us to stay for two nights. The 6 of us had one video chat session to figure out how we wanted to spend our time. Everyone contributed an idea for an activity to do or a restaurant to book (good idea, Billy!). We arrived on a Friday night after picking up Eric & Lovina straight from SFO and basically had a day and a half to do everything before we had to leave on Sunday afternoon.
Saturday, we grabbed brunch at The Fremont Diner, where we enjoyed an American breakfast and their photo booth. Our first winery of the day was Domaine Carneros, which specialized in sparkling wine. Afterwards, we rushed over to Napa Valley Bike Tours, where we had reserved tandem bikes that would get us to our second winery, St. Supery, on St. Helena Highway in Rutherford. Off we went on our bikes in grueling 97 degree weather, hoping to make it to our next wine tasting on time! Little did we know that Eric & Lovina's tandem would soon suffer a broken bike chain that would call for a bike replacement halfway there. Luckily, we were able to wait in the shade and didn't have to wait too long. We were also very lucky that St. Supery was still willing to accommodate a bunch of late, sweaty, and out-of-breath bikers. Our tasting ended up being such a delightful experience that the Sus and the Yans decided to buy bottles to bring home, and Billy & Saili ended up becoming members! Last stop of the day was dinner at Ad Hoc, Thomas Keller's restaurant in Yountville. Our family-style dinner of American comfort food was very delicious and too satisfying. Clay had more than enough cheese to eat and Billy got so full from all the various carbs that he became the opposite of hangry. After dinner, we returned home to shower and nap so we could have energy for an evening of back-to-back games: A Fake Artist Goes to New York, Wizard, and In Kahoots. Always down to learn new games!
Sunday, we checked out of the farmhouse and spent the morning walking around Sonoma Plaza. Some of us grabbed coffee at Basque Boulangerie Cafe and some bought chocolates to bring home from Wine Country Chocolates. Everyone enjoyed sausage flights at Hare & Hatter Sausage Emporium (such a brilliant take on the charcuterie board). Of course, after all that, we still had room for our lunch at The Girl and the Fig. Even though my pancakes a la mode came out super late, I still enjoyed them very much (along with the milk & cookies that Eric & Lovina ordered to share). Last stop of the weekend was Gundlach Bundschu Winery, where Eric had booked a wine tasting & cave tour for us! Wow, we really did do a lot in a very short amount of time. All in all, it was a very memorable weekend with the best company. Looking forward to being reunited with everyone again soon.
Just capturing as I go.