Tag Archives: holidays

Merry Christmas!

It’s our first Christmas at home. Ever. Just the two of us. And we are so enjoying each other’s company, the beautiful fire in our fireplace and simply being home together.

{Earlier in the week we prepped a bunch of cinnamon and orange rolls to enjoy throughout the holidays.}

{Earlier in the week we prepped a bunch of cinnamon and orange rolls to enjoy throughout the holidays.}

{Alex was in charge of the cinnamon rolls and I was in charge of the orange ones.}

{Alex was in charge of the cinnamon rolls and I was in charge of the orange ones.}

{Mmmmm!}

{Mmmmm!}

I’m fairly certain we’ve seen our extended family more this year than any other year since moving to Seattle, which we are both very thankful for. That made it easier for us to stay here this holiday season. We’ve also got a big year ahead of us and we are so grateful to have had the time together at home.

{This was our first Christmas with Henry cat! I think the best gift for him was getting to go outside today.}

{This was our first Christmas with Henry cat! I think the best gift for him was getting to go outside today. We’ve been spoiling him with treats, cuddles and catnip toys all day 🙂 }

{Jackson got a new toy and a special treat today, but his best gift was a very solid ball playing session at the park and getting to help us unwrap our Christmas gifts.}

{Jackson got a new toy and a special treat today, but his best gift was a very solid ball playing session at the park and getting to help us unwrap our Christmas gifts.}

We have both taken some time off work for the holidays and are enjoying the best Christmas present ever… seemingly bottomless snow in the mountains!

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{I couldn’t get over the view of the snowy trees under the unexpected sunny sky. Yesterday at Crystal Mountain was by far the most beautiful ski day of the season.}

{Powder day at Stevens Pass! 12.21.15}

{Powder day at Stevens Pass! 12.21.15}

Merry Christmas. Love, the Allens 🙂

Second Annual Holiday Party

For the second year in a row we invited our friends to join us in celebrating the holidays at our home. Both Alex and I love to entertain and have people over, plus, we love the holidays, so it was the perfect excuse for a party! Our holiday party last year was so much fun that we had been looking forward to it all year long…

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A LOT has changed with our friends in the last year – six of our friends were pregnant at the last party and there were some pregnancies {and births} that happened since then {four new babes in the last three weeks!!}, so needless to say, our crowd was a little bit smaller this year.

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We had a big spread of food and drinks and had a wonderful time spending the evening with so many of our friends. It’s especially fun to pull in our friends from different groups and allow them to become acquainted with each other.

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{A big thanks to Carrie for being the photographer!}

{A big thanks to Carrie for being the photographer!}

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{The Maple Bourbon Smash drink was a huge hit again this year!}

{The Maple Bourbon Smash drink was a huge hit again this year!}

{We had all sorts of food, from stuffed mushrooms, to ham sandwiches, to cheese and charcuterie to veggies and a variety of dips... and Carrie brought lots of her amazing cookies!}

{We had all sorts of food, from stuffed mushrooms, to ham sandwiches, to cheese and charcuterie to veggies and a variety of dips… and Carrie brought lots of her amazing cookies!}

Alex and I are both exhausted today and are looking forward to a low-key holiday “break” at home in Seattle this year. We hope it will be filled with skiing!

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{Thanks for coming, friends!}

{Thanks for coming, friends!}

Our Mexican Thanksgiving

This year for Thanksgiving we did something a little different… We went to Mexico! Thanksgiving is a holiday we typically spend with Alex’s family because his sister and her husband are usually in Italy for Christmas {her husband is from Italy}. This year we picked Mexico because Alex’s parents wanted to take a trip with us to celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary, which was in October. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico turned out to be the perfect spot!

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Alex and I headed south a few days before everyone else so we could get a mini vacation just the two of us down there since last time we were in PV we didn’t have any time to ourselves. It turned out that the flying gods were not on our sides, though, because we ended up getting stuck in San Diego, where we had a layover.

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There are far worse places to be than San Diego, so we made the most of it and did a little exploring around the city. We had a fantastic dinner at Queenstown Public House. It was SO good. We loved walking through the Little Italy neighborhood and seeing all of the holiday decorations.

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24 hours after we were supposed to land in Puerto Vallarta, we finally made it! The weather was gorgeous that day and we made it through the immigration line in literally 1 minute, which was a stark contrast to the last time I went through immigration there!

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Both of us enjoyed our evening together, though we were exhausted from our second travel day, and then we patiently awaited the arrival of Alex’s parents the next day.

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It was so nice to be back in Puerto Vallarta again – it had only been about 9 months since we were there, but Alex didn’t spend more than 24 hours in PV so he had fun exploring and checking things out.

{One of the first nights we took a cab into Old Town and walked along the beach and had a fantastic dinner right on the sand at La Palapa. It was a top favorite for us all!}

{One of the first nights we took a cab into Old Town and walked along the beach and had a fantastic dinner right on the sand at La Palapa. It was a top favorite for us all!}

{Gorgeous view out to sea.}

{Gorgeous view out to sea.}

{View up the coast from Old Town.}

{View up the coast from Old Town.}

{Most of our days were spent by the pool or walking the beach. We all had great rooms at the Casa Magna Marriott, which I would HIGHLY recommend, and I loved watching the sun rise from my bed!}

{Most of our days were spent by the pool or walking the beach. We all had great rooms at the Casa Magna Marriott, which I would HIGHLY recommend, and I loved watching the sunrise from my bed!}

{The weather was great for most of the trip, though we did have two very rainy days and a couple other overcast days. It surely didn't ruin the fun, though! We made the best of the weather and found other things to entertain us.}

{The weather was great for most of the trip, though we did have two very rainy days and a couple other overcast days. It surely didn’t ruin the fun, though! We made the best of the weather and found other things to entertain us.}

{Alina and I planned a special celebration on Wednesday night for Donna and Stan to commemorate their anniversary. We started out with a photo shoot!}

{Alina and I planned a special celebration on Wednesday night for Donna and Stan to commemorate their anniversary. We started out with a photo shoot!}

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{The photos led us down to the beach...}

{The photos led us down to the beach…}

{I didn't get a good photo, but we had a special table on the beach and had a delicious 3-course dinner. It was so intimate and personal and I had fun listening to Donna and Stan telling stories of memories of their 35 years of marriage.}

{I didn’t get a good photo, but we had a special table on the beach and had a delicious 3-course dinner. It was so intimate and personal and I had fun listening to Donna and Stan telling stories of memories of their 35 years of marriage.}

{The weather turned on us on Thanksgiving day, but we were grateful that the hotel was preparing special Thanksgiving dinners for the Americans! Donna and Stan's balcony was enormous and had a table big enough for all of us, so we pulled the table under the overhang and had our turkey dinner outside in the rain.}

{The weather turned on us on Thanksgiving day, but we were grateful that the hotel was preparing special Thanksgiving dinners for the Americans! Donna and Stan’s balcony was enormous and had a table big enough for all of us, so we pulled the table under the overhang and had our turkey dinner outside in the rain.}

{The hotel prepared a turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, veggies, cranberry and rolls for us. We were quite surprised how great it tasted!}

{The hotel prepared a turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, veggies, cranberry and rolls for us. We were quite surprised how great it tasted!}

{The turkey was so tender and juicy we were able to carve it with a butter knife!}

{The turkey was so tender and juicy we were able to carve it with a butter knife!}

{We had one more rainy day on our trip, which we spent in Old Town and the Romantic Zone.}

{We had one more rainy day on our trip, which we spent in Old Town and the Romantic Zone.}

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{My personal favorite restaurant of the whole trip was Casa Tradicional. I absolutely LOVED the carnitas - the presentation was incredible but the flavor was out of this world!}

{My personal favorite restaurant of the whole trip was Casa Tradicional. I absolutely LOVED the carnitas – the presentation was incredible but the flavor was out of this world!}

{The margarita glasses were so pretty!}

{The margarita glasses were so pretty!}

{Holidays in PV!}

{Holidays in PV!}

{On our last night in PV we had a final celebratory dinner at Cafe de Artistes. The ambiance of the restaurant was so neat - we were outside in a jungle-like setting. The menu was a Mexican-French fusion. We had a really great last night!}

{On our last night in PV we had a final celebratory dinner at Cafe de Artistes. The ambiance of the restaurant was so neat – we were outside in a jungle-like setting. The menu was a Mexican-French fusion. We had a really great last night!}

{The guys enjoyed smoking cigars out on the little point in front of the hotel.}

{The guys enjoyed smoking cigars out on the little point in front of the hotel.}

{Eventually the weather cleared and the sun came back out!}

{Eventually the weather cleared and the sun came back out!}

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{Alex and I had such a wonderful trip! It was so nice to get to spend so many days with Alex's family. We are so very fortunate that we're able to take trips and meet somewhere so we can have that uninterrupted time together!}

{Alex and I had such a wonderful trip! It was so nice to get to spend so many days with Alex’s family. We are so very fortunate that we’re able to take trips and meet somewhere so we can have that uninterrupted time together!}

Lazy Fourth of July Weekend

Our fourth of July weekend was super low-key, which ended up being really nice. We were pretty lethargic due to the heat, plus many of our friends were out of town, so it was nice to have an excuse to lay low.

{our "ghetto curtains" also known as beach towels - we needed to cover up the windows in the west-facing closets as a way to keep the heat out of the house}

{our “ghetto curtains” also known as beach towels – we needed to cover up the windows in the west-facing closets as a way to keep the heat out of the house}

In case you’re wondering, it’s still hot here in Seattle, though we’ve gotten a little respite from the heat the last two days. The highs have only been in the mid-80s, which has been amazing.

{88-90 was the average inside temperature from around 3-7 p.m. all week and weekend}

{88-90 was the average inside temperature from around 3-7 p.m. all week and weekend}

The forecast suggests we only have two more days in the 90s and then we dip down into the low 80s and upper 70s for the next ten days. I’m really looking forward to our house cooling down a bit and being able to turn on the stove without fear of our house exceeding 90 degrees inside {which we were thankfully able to prevent!}.

{pasta salads, green salads and grilling have been the name of the game these last 3 weeks!}

{pasta salads, green salads and grilling have been the name of the game these last 3 weeks! do you like our fourth of july table?!}

We didn’t do a ton during the long weekend. One of the big highlights was our hike to Snow Lake on Sunday. In an attempt to beat the heat we headed east to the mountains and went for a moderate hike near Alpental ski resort {the trailhead is in the parking lot of the ski resort}. It’s too bad that there ended up being a temperature inversion which in turn caused it to be hotter in the mountains than at sea level. So much for escaping the heat!

{sunny, rocky hike up!}

{sunny, rocky hike up!}

The hike was gorgeous. The views were endless and I just can’t get enough of the evergreens and cedar trees that dot the mountainside here in Washington.

{pit stop in the shade... ahhhh :) }

{pit stop in the shade… ahhhh 🙂 }

Once we made it within sight of Snow Lake Jackson had a reinvigorated sense of purpose and was determined to make it down to that darn lake. So determined that he was willing to take Alex down to get there! I really thought he was going to just high tail it off the side of the trail and make a beeline for the lake! Thankfully he saved that for once we got down lower towards the lake {you had to hike up and over a ridge and then down into the basin of the lake}.

{view from the top of the ridge looking down at the lake}

{view from the top of the ridge looking down at the lake}

Jackson enjoyed some swimming time while we ate lunch and collectively cooled off. That dog just cannot get enough of the water!

{I think he could have stayed in the lake all day if we would have let him}

{I think he could have stayed in the lake all day if we would have let him}

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While we really enjoyed the views and scenery, I don’t think we’re going to be in a hurry to get back on that trail again. It was quite rocky, the trail was very uneven and it was very crowded. There was also very little shade, which made it a challenge when it was so hot out. Both of us were really glad we did the hike – it had been on our list for at least a year or two – but we’ll find a different one for next time.

{such a beautiful escape from the city - we are so, so, so grateful to live in such a naturally beautiful state}

{such a beautiful escape from the city – we are so, so, so grateful to live in such a state so full of natural beauty}

Other than our hike, we tried out two new restaurants in Madison Park and Madison Valley, two adjoining neighborhoods to ours, and we spent a couple hours in Woodinville doing a wine tasting, picking up our wine club release and scouting out different neighborhoods out there.

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We started off the week, though, with a Mariners game! It was a fun little Monday night event to kick start the week…

{go M's!}

{go M’s!}

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Our Christmas Vacation

The theme of this holiday season for Alex and me has been family, friends and new traditions. While we still have a few more days left of the season, I’d say our Christmas surpassed my wildest expectations of new traditions and time with family.

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We just returned home from our Christmas vacation in Leavenworth, Washington with both of our parents and Alina and Alberto. We spent five days in the mountains, as well as a day on either side in Seattle. I found a cabin for us to rent that came with a huge kitchen meant for entertaining, a great big wood burning fireplace, a fabulous hot tub, a dining room table to accommodate us all, a shuffleboard table and a wine fridge.

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Our trip began in downtown Leavenworth where we stopped for lunch at Munchen Haus to enjoy a sausage, sauerkraut, as well as beer and mulled wine. We walked the streets of town and got our bearings before setting off to check into the lodge.

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While it was a little different than I expected, the lodge worked out really well for us. I wish there would have been two more bedrooms and bathrooms, but the three {of each} that were there sufficed pretty well. The layout was meant for entertaining, though was still a little sectioned off. I would definitely stay there again – the hot tub was awesome, there was a huge deck off the back overlooking the expansive property and onto the mountains. The kitchen was enormous and had a lot of space to set food out for all of us to indulge in. We brought our own Christmas tree and a few decorations, as we had been told that the lodge wasn’t decorated for Christmas. As it turned out, there was a huge artificial tree and tons of decor in the closet. I guess the property manager was just too lazy to decorate for us!

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The trip was a wonderful hodgepodge of cooking, eating, drinking, skiing, chatting and playing games. The first night we were treated to an Italian meal called Spetzatinna {or something similar}, which is a ragu with slow cooked beef served with polenta. It was divine!

Our first ski day was Christmas Eve. We woke up to find an early Christmas gift in the form of new snow! I think it’s safe to say we all enjoyed getting back on the slopes at Stevens Pass.

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Donna prepared our delicious Christmas Eve turkey dinner and we spent the evening playing the game called “Things” which is a new favorite.

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Christmas day started out with homemade cinnamon and orange rolls, opening our pajamas and gigantic stocking and just hanging out. We spent the day at the lodge and went in the hot tub, played Uchre, worked on the neverending puzzle and the ladies did Pilates. My mom arrived just in time for our prime rib dinner on Christmas night. She flew in late so she could spend Christmas morning with my brother back in Minnesota. Our night was finished with a grossly inappropriate game of Cards Against Humanity. Nothing like playing that game with your parents!

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The day after Christmas we all piled in the SUVs and headed back to the mountains for more skiing.

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We had planned on doing a sleigh ride that evening but there wasn’t enough snow for the sleigh so it got canceled. That meant we had more time in downtown Leavenworth to taste wine at Icicle River Winery and eat dinner at Gustav’s.

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On our final full day in Leavenworth the moms treated themselves to a day at the spa while the rest of us made our final turns at Stevens Pass in one last day of skiing. It snowed quite a few inches during the day, which conveniently provided us with free snow refills.

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We headed back to Seattle on Sunday with two very full SUVs, while my mom made her way slowly back to the airport. She went back home a day earlier than everyone else, and just as she was getting ready to leave the lodge we found out that chains were required to get through the mountain pass. Having a rental car meant she didn’t have chains, so she had to take the long way around through a different mountain pass. Of course less than 30 minutes after she left, the restriction was lifted so she could have gone the original route anyway. Oh well!

The rest of us packed up and headed back to our house since we still had one more night with the rest of the gang in Seattle. We spent quite a bit of time playing the game Fibbage on the Xbox before settling in for an evening of drinking wine at Bottlehouse.

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Our house is now empty and feels much too quiet. It was very sad to see our families leave today after such a wonderful Christmas vacation with everyone. We are so grateful that our family was willing to come out to Washington to celebrate Christmas with us in the mountains. We knew it was a lot to ask but now that we’ve had our first Christmas out here we hope it won’t be the last. This holiday will go down as a highlight of my Christmas memories from recent years.

 

First Annual Holiday Party

Last night we kicked off the holidays in style with our holiday party. We have been planning this party for several weeks and it’s hard to believe how fast it came and went. Alex and I had so much fun both at the party and preparing to host it. The evening went very smoothly and we were surprised how well we were able to estimate food and beverage quantities. We made a solid effort to try to chat with all of our guests and I think we were able to manage that and keeping everyone’s glasses relatively full. We’re hopeful this will be the first of many annual holiday parties! I’ll let the photos tell the story.

{Our spread included a cheese board, gougeres, stuffed mushrooms, Christmas pinwheels, white bean dip crostinis, veggies and mushroom/onion tartlettes, along with a whole boat load of cookies!}

{Our spread included a cheese board, gougeres, stuffed mushrooms, Christmas pinwheels, white bean dip crostinis, veggies and mushroom/onion tartlettes, along with a whole boat load of cookies!}

{Alex was in charge of drinks. We had a big batch of Maple Bourbon Splash and another dispenser with Cranberry Lime Spritzer, along with red wine, beer, homemade Irish cream and egg nog.}

{Alex was in charge of drinks. We had a big batch of Maple Bourbon Splash and another dispenser with Cranberry Lime Spritzer, along with red wine, beer, homemade Irish cream and egg nog.}

{Carrie's cookies were the star of the evening! They were placed next to our holiday photo props.}

{Carrie’s cookies were the star of the evening! They were placed next to our holiday photo props.}

{Alex and I kicked off the photos with our goofy props.}

{Alex and I kicked off the photos with our goofy props.}

{Carrie & Patrick joined in the fun.}

{Carrie & Patrick joined in the fun.}

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{Ali & Tyler snuck a kiss under the mistletoe!}

{Ali & Tyler snuck a kiss under the mistletoe!}

{So thankful for the help of these two!}

{So thankful for the help of these two!}

{The boys were holding down the fort before everyone started to arrive.}

{The boys were holding down the fort before everyone started to arrive.}

{Fun in the kitchen.}

{Fun in the kitchen.}

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{Dave and Ryan enjoying some vino}

{Dave and Ryan enjoying some vino. We were so thankful to my dad’s thoughtful gesture of getting us some additional wine glasses and champagne flutes for the party. They came in VERY handy!}

{The crowd in the living room.}

{The crowd in the living room.}

{Stopping for a quick pose.}

{Stopping for a quick pose.}

{Trish and Mary}

{Trish and Mary}

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{Jamie and Alex getting silly.}

{Jamie and Alex getting silly.}

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{Jackson had a little too much fun at the party! He was passed out all day Sunday.}

{Jackson had a little too much fun at the party! He was passed out all day Sunday.}

We can’t wait for the second annual holiday party next year!

Feeling Blessed

I have been working really hard to prepare for our impending holiday party and the arrival of our family for Christmas. While I was busily chipping away at my to-do list yesterday I found myself staring at all of the holiday cards we have received so far this year. It was humbling to step back and see all of the people who care enough about us to take the time to send us a holiday card. The holidays have a way of making me more sentimental than usual, but I just felt a overwhelming sense of gratitude for the many friends and family we have in our lives.

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Alex and I are positively floored by the number of “yes” RSVPs to our holiday party. Six years ago we probably could count on one hand the number of friends who would have come to our party, but today we need more than both of our hands together to count our Seattle friends and family who are going to be celebrating the holidays with us in our home. I am just feeling so blessed and thankful for the wonderful people we have in our lives.

{Putting together our holiday photo props}

{Putting together our holiday photo props}

We also know it was a lot to ask our families to come out and spend Christmas in the mountains here. Both Alex and I are so thankful that we both still have our parents and siblings and that they are able and willing to travel across the country, putting aside their differences and their own families, to spend it together, as a merged family. I will be greatly missing the presence of my brother, who is unable to join us, but am so grateful that our friendship has improved a lot over the last few months.

{Jackson is pretty good at spreading holiday cheer!}

{Jackson is pretty good at spreading holiday cheer!}

This year one thing Alex and I decided to do to spread our love bit was to bake cookies for our neighbors. I really overdid it {easy cookies next year!}, but we have packaged up 13 boxes of cookies to take to the neighbors on our block as a way to pass along some neighborly holiday cheer. We did this last year with a few neighbors we know better than others and we were overcome with their gratitude for us thinking of them.

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We certainly have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season, and my heart is full and very warm knowing that we are spreading our holiday cheer.

{Can't wait for our party!}

{Can’t wait for our party!}

Easter Weekend

Our weekend kicked off with our first dog training session on Friday evening. We spent two and a half very productive hours with Katie, our trainer, getting the low-down on how to be better puppy parents. So far we love Katie’s suggestions! We worked on walking nicer on-leash {yes, mother, with loads of treats!}, jumping up on people {or rather NOT jumping up on people!}, honing distracted Jackson back into us on walks, drying off Jackson’s paws, and a few other things. Alex and I are both extremely thankful that we’re able to have a one-on-one training experience.

Sleepy dog after his long training session

Sleepy dog after his long training session

In preparation for our Europe trip I dropped Jackson off on Saturday with the family who we’re hoping will watch him while we’re gone just to do a test-run/playdate for a couple hours. While Jackson was playing with his new dog friends I ran into Woodinville to do some errands. Unfortunately for me I did not time my stops well at all and ended up getting caught in a downpour about 2 minutes into my trip to Molbak’s Nursery. Oops! I was still successful in getting most of the plants I had intended on.

Jackson's first selfie!

Jackson’s first selfie!

I didn’t end up planting anything until Sunday, but here are some photos:

This dirt-filled area was once covered with a couple small shrubs and ground cover. Then we got a dog.

This dirt-filled area was once covered with a couple small shrubs and ground cover. Then we got a dog.

This is the area my mom helped me plant last spring. I thought most of it died but all of it except the fuschia came back this year. I will replace the fuschia and get some plants that droop over the retaining wall hopefully soon. For now, I replenished our supply of catnip for Henry and his friends.

This is the area my mom helped me plant last spring. I thought most of it died but all of it except the fuschia came back this year. I will replace the fuschia and get some plants that droop over the retaining wall hopefully soon. For now, I replenished our supply of catnip for Henry and his friends. And yes, I do realize how terrible our yard looks!

 

The front of our house. I have never done multiple flowers in containers before so I was pretty proud of how my first round went

The front of our house. I have never done multiple flowers in containers before so I was pretty proud of how my first round went.

Let's see how long I can keep herbs alive for!

Let’s see how long I can keep herbs alive for! My friend Carrie made me this adorable planter that says “Ali’s Herbs” for my birthday a few years ago.

Alex had a pretty tall order while Jackson and I were out for the better half of the day. He was tasked with cleaning and re-painting our front porch. This item has been on our to-do list since probably the first year we have lived in our house. We have pushed it off for far too long and it feels AMAZING to have this finally checked off the list!

The edge/right where you first step up onto the porch has been slowly chipping away since we moved into our house almost four years ago.

The edge/right where you first step up onto the porch has been slowly chipping away since we moved into our house almost four years ago.

Our hard work and the torrential downpour made both of us quite sleepy so we indulged in a mid-day nap on Saturday afternoon! It was one of the highlights of the weekend.

Ahhh nice smooth paint!

Ahhh nice smooth paint!

We capped off the day by heading over to our friends’ Ryan and Mary’s house for a bit. Ryan’s parents were visiting from Kansas City and we wanted a chance to meet them while they were in town.

Sunday did not go at all as we had expected. We woke up and took Jackson for a walk just like any other day. When we got back I set off to the kitchen to make eggs Benedict, one of my favorite Easter meals.

Round two: success!

Round two: success!

 

I rarely make eggs Benedict because, while delicious, it is grossly fattening and quite tricky to make. The very first time I made hollandaise sauce from scratch I think it took three or four tries to get it right. It is just such a finicky recipe! This time the hollandaise turned out perfectly on the first time but then I kept it warm over too-hot water and it separated beyond the point of pulling it back together. Somewhere in there I got stressed out and threw all of the eggshells into the sink, which of course clogged the drain.

Jackson is such a helper!

Jackson is such a helper!

 

Here we were with a full dishwasher, every pot in our house full of eggy goop and on top of the stove, elbows deep into hollandaise sauce and the damn sink goes out of commission. First world problems right here. Long story short, eggs Benedict round two was a success, and after the fourth or fifth trip to Lowe’s we ended up having a sink that works and doesn’t leak by Monday evening.

He makes a great boss!

He makes a great boss! {Jackson, that is}

Because of the kitchen sink fiasco we were extremely late to our Easter brunch and we arrived empty handed {unless you count a bag of raw green beans!} to the feast at the Buffingtons. We had a wonderful time nonetheless! It was a great way to spend the holiday with a group of people whom we enjoy spending time with.

Patrick's special easter egg fruit pizza!

Patrick’s special easter egg fruit pizza!

As always, our weekend went by way too fast, but it was full of friends and getting things done around the house. We have a fairly low-key week to look forward to, though.

Allentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day came early for us this year. My dad and brother are coming to visit this coming weekend, so we celebrated “Allentine’s Day” last weekend with a wonderful evening out at Harvest Vine, a well-renowned Spanish restaurant near our neighborhood.

"Allentine's Day"

“Allentine’s Day”

While I was writing my Valentine’s Day card to Alex I was thinking back to previous Valentine’s Days that we have shared together and realized that this is our tenth Valentine’s Day together! The first Valentine’s Day we spent together was in 2005, we were 18 years old. The weekend of Valentine’s Day that year we had gone back to Illinois to stay with Alex’s parents. We had been dating for about four months at that point and I had only briefly met his parents once or twice.

Valentine's Day 2005

Valentine’s Day 2005

Aside from a time or two as a very small child I had never been to Chicago before, so I was excited at the thought of getting to know Alex’s parents better and exploring downtown Chicago. We went downtown to the Chicago Auto Show, walked the Madison Mile, saw the bean in Millennium Park and strolled through Navy Pier. That Saturday night, which I don’t even recall if it was actually Valentine’s Day or not, we went out for dinner at Za Za’s, an Italian restaurant in DeKalb, Alex’s hometown.

Our first Valentine's Day in Chirago

Our first Valentine’s Day in Chicago

It has been fun to think back on our first Valentine’s Day and all of the memories that come with that time in our lives.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Ringing in 2014

Hello 2014! I am happy to see you! 2013 was not my favorite year, so I’m not too sad to see it go. While we had a lot of really incredible experiences and learned a lot, 2013 was a bit of a sad year for the Allens.

Neither Alex or I have ever been much of a New Years resolution setter. We don’t really have any specific goals, per se, but I’ve identified some hopes and things that we’re looking forward to in the new year and thought I’d share them.

*We are counting down the days to our 4-week trip to Europe this year {…which we need to get planned!}

*Several family members have trips planned to come visit us over the next few months

*My fingers are crossed that we will “finish” decorating our house this year – at least our bedroom, office and guest bedroom

*This year we will be focusing on saving money and planning for our upcoming expenses and our future

*We have four weddings to attend this summer that we are very much looking forward to

*Alex just joined a new gym and has some fitness goals, while I am planning on starting Pilates shortly

*I always look forward to trying new foods and learning more about cooking – if only I could keep up with Pinterest!

I am really looking forward to 2014. I think it’s going to be a great year!

Cheers!