Beautycounter visits the Island

Beautycounter2

Over the weekend I hosted a Beautycounter party with a few of my girlfriends. Think Stella & Dot or a Tupperware party, but with natural beauty products instead.

If you want to try out Beautycounter, you’re too late for their debut at Target, but you can order from my link! We all agreed that we want an introductory sample-sized kit of Beautycounter favorites, but it doesn’t currently exist, sadly.

I’m still figuring out exactly what I’m going to order, but here are the items I have my eyes on:

  • Nourishing cream cleanser ($26)
  • Nourishing day cream ($43)
  • Balancing face oil ($68)
  • Rejuvenating eye cream ($58)
  • Daily shampoo ($22)
  • Daily conditioner ($26)
  • Touch up skin concealer pen ($32)
  • Lengthening mascara ($29)
  • Winter warmth color palette ($58)

Beautycounter1

Beautycounter3

About Beautycounter

Beautycounter is committed to a health and safety standard that goes well beyond what is legally required in the United States. Their Never List is made up of more than 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals that they never use as ingredients in our products. This includes the over 1,400 chemicals banned or restricted in personal care products by the European Union, plus additional chemicals screened by Beautycounter and found to be of concern.

While all Beautycounter ingredients are sourced with a higher standard of safety and quality in mind, it is well recognized — and accepted by regulatory authorities around the world — that incidental, trace levels of a chemical may inadvertently be introduced a cosmetic product due to the complexities of the supply chain and manufacturing process.

Check out this shortened, pocket-size version of their Never List that you can use for easy reference.

To compliment the Never List, the Environmental Working Group has a Healthy Living App that provides ratings for 120,000 food and personal items. I have downloaded the app but haven’t had the nerve to scan yet– I’m too scared!

Questions? Reach out to my friend CariAnn at www.beautycounter.com/cariannwitsoe

 

Dinner at the Herbfarm

Truffle Treasures at the Herbfarm

Truffle Treasures at the Herbfarm

Brandon and I have a lot of stuff. There I said it. So for Christmas, we decided that instead of more stuff, we would do an experience. We’ve always wanted to visit the Herbfarm, so we started scoping out menus and selected the Truffle menu.

You see, the Herbfarm does theme eating monthly. Right after my own heart! We opted for the “Truffle Treasure” of January and we were very glad that we did!

The Herbfarm is an award-winning restaurant in Woodinville, a suburb of Seattle. It’s on the expensive side and the nine courses (nine!) are paired with drinks for the most part. It also takes several hours. We won’t be going back monthly, but this was a great experience and one that I would recommend you do at least once during your time in Seattle! 

My parents watched Michael and we feasted on…

Herbfarm first course

Herbfarm first course

Truffledom: White truffle shumai; black truffle soup with red beet cream; Dungeness crab with truffle butter; and, beech mushroom tempura, truffle salt, Idaho lemon wedge.

Drink pairing: Blue Mountain Vineyard Brut, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

Herbfarm second course

Herbfarm second course

Albacore & Pickles: Grilled rare Oregon Albacore tuna, assorted pickles put up from our larder.

Drink pairing: 2013 Dr. Loosen Eroica Riesling, Columbia Valley

Herbfarm third course

Herbfarm third course

Earth ‘n’ Trees: Oregon chesnut angolloti, cipollini onion, chervil, Oregon white truffle sauce.

Drink pairing: 2002 L’Ecole No. 41 Semillion, Fries Vineyard, Walla Walla

Herbfarm fourth course

Herbfarm fourth course

Black, White & Blue: Buttermilk-poached blue-footed chicken breast, chicken-skin-crusted salsify, sauce perigourdine.

Drink pairing: 2012 Broadley Vineyards Pinot Noir, Jessica, Willamette Valley

Herbfarm fifth course

Herbfarm fifth course

Mr. Kuro Goes to Washington: Bay-braised Gold Beach Oregon Wagyu beef short rib in feuille de brick, turnips & their greens, our Roy’s Calais Flint corn polenta, huckleberry sweet-sour sauce, black truffle puree.

Drink pairing: 2012 Gorman Winery Winemaker’s Reserve Malbec, Red Mountain

Herbfarm sixth course

Herbfarm sixth course

Parsnip in a Pear’s Pad: Grated parsnip and pear, shave Willamette Valley Boerenkaas cheese, nocino sauce.

Herbfarm seventh course

Herbfarm seventh course

Glass & Ice: Sorbet of muddled Idaho Valencia orange rind and sake, gin glass, Douglas Fir snowbank.

Herbfarm eighth course

Herbfarm eighth course

Oh, Sweet Truffle: Sourdough ice cream, black truffle-caramel apples, fromage blanc, Oregon olive oil cake.

Drink pairing: 2005 Thurston-Wolfe 8-year cask-aged Tawny Port

And course nine: 

Extra desserts!

Extra desserts!

Accompanying dinner: truffled wood-oven foccacia

Thankfully little Michael had equally as fun of night with Grandma and Grandpa. He passed out!

Sleepy Michael

Sleepy Michael

Next on our Seattle food bucket list? Canlis. Maybe next Christmas?

La Spiga’s “Chef’s Table with Gnocchetti 101” class

DyneHave you heard of Dyne? According to them, Dyne is a better way to book and enjoy the dining experience, to discover secret menus, pop-ups, and special offerings at select partners in Seattle. Based on this experience and the offerings I’ve seen, I would have to agree!

Brandon and I had the pleasure of using Dyne to attend a very select class this past June, in the private dining mezzanine (upstairs) at La Spiga Osteria, one of our favorite Seattle spots.

“Chef’s Table with Gnocchetti 101” was limited to 20 people and led by La Spiga owner and chef Sabrina Tinsley. Sabrina walked us through a demonstration-style cooking class on the techniques to master gnocchetti (the soft, delicate pasta cousin of gnocchi) followed by a three-course dinner with optional wine flight. Brandon opted for the wine flight, I opted against it.

For $48 per person (plus $25 extra for the wine flight), this was a deal — and an experience — that we couldn’t pass up!

Our group of Dyners

Our group of Dyners

THE MENU

First Course: Insalata Primavera con Carciofi Croccanti
Spring salad with crispy fried artichokes, spring peas, asparagus, fava, bibb lettuce and pecorino fresco

First Course: Insalata Primavera con Carciofi Croccanti

First Course: Insalata Primavera con Carciofi Croccanti

Second Course: Gnocchetti al Norcina
Gnocchetti pasta with pork sausage, truffle and cream sauce

Second Course: Gnocchetti al Norcina

Second Course: Gnocchetti al Norcina

Third Course: Panna Cotta
Strawberry panna cotta with 30th Anniversary balsamic vinegar

Third Course: Panna Cotta

Third Course: Panna Cotta

Dinner was delicious (as we’ve come to expect from La Spiga) and the best part of the evening was that we got to take recipes for each of the courses home with us! And now I will share the Gnocchetti alla Norcina (ricotta gnocchi with sausage, truffle and cream sauce) recipe with you!

Gnocchetti 101 class at La Spiga

Gnocchetti 101 class at La Spiga

Gnocchetti alla Norcina from La Spiga Osteria
(Ricotta gnocchi with sausage, truffle and cream sauce)
Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs ricotta, drained overnight
  • 1 egg
  • ~1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 2 T truffle flour (optional)
  • 2 c all purpose unbleached flour + extra for dusting
  • 6 pork sausage links
  • Olive oil
  • 3 T truffle butter (optional — available for purchase at La Spiga)
  • 3 c heavy cream
  • Parmigiano Reggiano

Make the gnocchetti

  • Mix together the ricotta, egg, salt, a little fresh ground pepper and the truffle flour, if you’re using it.
  • Add the all purpose flour and blend until smooth. The dough should be a workable consistency and may be sightly sticky. (About 2 minutes)
  • If the dough is too sticky, you may add up to a 1/4 c extra flour, but resist the urge to add any more.
  • Dust your work surface with plenty of flour and roll out the dough in small batches into 1/2″ cylinders with your palm.
  • Cut the cylinders into 1/2″ pieces like the below photo.
  • Dust the pieces with flour and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment, you may freeze at this point, if you’re enjoying them later.

Little gnocchettis

Little gnocchettis

Make the sauce

  • Remove sausage from the casing (Sabrina recommends using sausage WITHOUT fennel– it’s her preference) and saute in a sauce pan with 2 T olive oil. (Sabrina only uses Bono Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which I have only been able to find at La Spiga, not at PFI), lightly salt the sausage to prevent the loss of flavor to the cream.
  • When the sausage has just cooked through, add the optional truffle butter and allow to melt.
  • Add the cream once the butter has melted.
  • Bring the sauce to a boil and remove from heat. Don’t worry about boiling the sauce down or reheating it. It will do this on its own.

The best sauce EVER: sausage, truffle and cream

The best sauce EVER: sausage, truffle and cream

Cook the Gnocchetti

  • Bring salted water to a boil. The water should “taste like the sea”
  • Cook the gnocchetti in small batches. Do not stir.
  • When the gnocchetti rises to the surface, allow it to cook for about one more minute. Skim the finished gnocchetti off of the surface with a slotted spoon and transfer to the sauce pan.
  • Continue to cook all of the gnocchetti in this method.
  • Dress the cooked gnocchetti by folding it into the sauce. Take care not to break up the gnocchetti and serve immediately. (This should only include ~one minute in the pan)
  • Add garnish (microgreens pictured here) and/or Parmigiano Reggiano

Second Course: Gnocchetti al Norcina

Second Course: Gnocchetti al Norcina

AND ENJOY!!! Now I’m hungry and want to go make a batch of this Gnocchetti alla Norcina! Thanks for the recipe, Dyne and La Spiga!

 

Introducing Michael Carl

Without further ado, I’d like to introduce my one-week-old son, Michael Carl.

"Hello, world. I'm Michael."

“Hello, world. I’m Michael.”

Megan's Island's newest resident

Megan’s Island’s newest resident

Michael was born at on Tuesday, September 15, 2015. He’s a prompt fellow and I started the laboring process on his due date, approximately 22 hours before he made his grand entrance into the world. 

He weighed in at 7 lbs, 15.3 ounces and measured a lengthy 21.25 inches.

Michael's favorite position: sleeping soundly during the day

Michael’s favorite position: sleeping soundly during the day

Bath time was a success!

Bath time was a success!

This way to the gun show, ladies!

This way to the gun show, ladies!

Nice to meet you!

Nice to meet you!

For many, many, many more Michael photos, check out my Instagram.

When will Baby Michael join us?

I’ve officially started my four-month “baby vacation,” having wrapped up my last day of work on Friday.

This is the view from my office now. Not too shabby!

My new "office" view (from the deck and living room)

My new “office” view (from the deck and living room)

We hit the 39th week of pregnancy today and now I’m wondering… when will Baby Michael join us?!

Here's last week's photo. He's been dropping!

Here’s last week’s photo. He’s been dropping!

I had friends and family place their best guess as to when he’ll make his debut and so far, five guesses are out of contention. I originally guessed today — I mean, laboring on labor day is so fitting, right? I also have a lot of holiday birthdays in my family, so this would work well — and then I thought for sure it was going to happen last weekend — which it obviously didn’t. Who would have guessed that the predictions of a full moon (yes, I’m having a werewolf), changes in the barometric pressure (from hot and sunny to stormy in a day!), combined with two days of Indian food including eggplant and dancing at a wedding, would be wrong? Apparently little Michael.

Guesses?

Guesses?

According to this article, it’s possible that I’ll be right? Of course, anything is possible. There are too many variables to know for sure. We’ll see where the day and week take us! We’ll welcome Michael whenever he decides to grace us with his presence!

2015-9 Birth bell curve

This could be telling us something…

So, now I ask you. What do you think? I’d love to hear your guesses. Whoever guesses correctly will get something… not naming rights, but maybe something else? Tell me what you’d like to win too!

Three cheers for Michael giving me a bit of a staycation and then making his timely debut!

 

 

Planks in the Park (Free barre class!)

dailey-method-Oh, hi! Sorry to interrupt your holiday weekend, but I think I have some information that you’d be interested in!

My barre studio, the Dailey Method, is offering a free “Planks in the Park” community class THIS Saturday (9/12) at the Mercerdale Park (77th SE & SE 32nd) on Mercer Island.

If you’re interested in trying out barre, you should definitely check out this free community class. {Read my initial barre observations from early 2014. It’s been my go-to workout since then, excluding the queasy part of my early pregnancy and larger part of my later pregnancy.}

What should you bring? 

Bring a yoga mat, a water bottle and yourself! They’ll have a DJ and a great time. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. The class will run from 9-10 a.m. and is open to all ages and fitness levels!

Will I be there? 

Maybe. The kid doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to join us outside of the womb, so while I won’t be doing barre (yet), I very well might be there to hang out and say hello to my long-lost barre friends! I hope to see you there and maybe I’ll bring orange slices Capri Suns, like my parents used to bring to soccer games?

Planks in the Park -- free community barre class by the Dailey Method

Planks in the Park — free community barre class by the Dailey Method

 

 

 

{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!

 

Happy National Doughnut Day! {2015}

My Top Pot favorites: frosted doughnuts! (Not pictured: my other favorites: the maple bar)

My Top Pot favorites: frosted doughnuts! (Not pictured: my other favorites: the maple bar)

Do you know what tomorrow is? It’s National DOUGHNUT Day!

We’re doughnut lovers here on Megan’s Island and I combed the archives for some great reads and recommendations to celebrate National Doughnut Day as the sweet delight that it is.

I’m not sure where I’ll indulge in celebration on Friday, but a new Seattle-based doughnut-ery (that’s a thing, right?) has opened up and Brandon and I plan on visiting this weekend: Rodeo Donuts. Rodeo Donuts has been operating out of the Ballard Cupcake Royale and is starting to sell out of the Capitol Hill Cupcake Royale starting tomorrow! The Rodeo Donut bakers are also bakers at Cupcake Royale, and they make brioche doughnuts that look amazing. Just look at their Instagram feed! It’s the food porn I look at every morning on my way to work. Their flavors rotate daily and once they’re out for the day, they’re out for the day. This peanut butter chocolate fritter had Brandon drooling this morning.

Top Pot is using National Doughnut Day to raise money for Northwest Harvest. While it will decrease our chances of winning, I’d encourage you to stop by a Top Pot cafe tomorrow for a celebratory doughnut and spend an extra $10 on a raffle ticket to win a grand prize of a four-night stay in Hawaii, complete with airfare! Here are the specifics, from the Northwest Harvest website:

Tomorrow: National Doughnut Day!

Tomorrow: National Doughnut Day!

Join us on June 5 from 6-10 a.m. at Top Pot Doughnuts locations around the Puget Sound! We’ll be celebrating National Doughnut Day and collecting donations of non-perishable food items in addition to money.

As part of the celebration, we will be raffling off a four night stay in Hawaii complete with airfare. Tickets can be purchased until 5:00 p.m. June 6 at any Puget Sound Top Pot Doughnuts for $10.

Must be 18 or older to purchase tickets. Winner will be drawn 9 a.m. Monday, June 8 at 711 Cherry St., Seattle 98104.

Happy celebrating! Nom, nom, nom.

Meeting Jen Lancaster

Two Fridays ago I had the honor of meeting my favorite author, Jen Lancaster, in real life!

Geeking out before the main event!

Geeking out before the main event!

Seattle lucked out and Jen was in town as one of the many stops on the tour of her new book “I regret nothing.” We haven’t been so lucky in previous years with her previous tours and I’m glad this was our year.

Jen on the cover and in real life! Check out that priority signing ticket!!

Jen on the cover and in real life! Check out that priority signing ticket!!

My dear friend Megan and I are big fans, so we pre-ordered the books and arrived at the University Bookstore extra early. We scored front row seats to the action and watched as Jen was interviewed by Seattle Times’ columnist  Nicole Brodeur. They covered all sorts of topics — Which book is Jen’s favorite? Where does she find inspiration for her writing? How did she tear her Achilles tendon? — Jen read a passage from the book — about her visit to to Italy and the ordeal of finding espresso — and she even pulled a couple of the audience “bucket list” items and commented on them. Sadly, one of my six (or so) submissions didn’t get pulled. I was really hoping she’d read the one about her: “Go out for a drink with my favorite author.” Alas, she didn’t. Instead, Megan and I went to dinner afterward.

Chatting away!

Chatting away!

After the hour or so conversation, Megan and I hustled and ended up being in the very front of the autograph line! We spoke with Jen like we were best friends. I gave her a blog card and it’s possible that she’s even reading this post RIGHT NOW! ACK!!! There is also a chance that she sees hundreds of crazy fans each night on her book tours and filed my blog card in the trash. I’ll stick to the wishful thinking though, that she’ll follow this blog and will be in touch next time she’s in Seattle for longer than a few hours!

New BFFs!!

New BFFs!!

I haven’t had a chance to start the book yet, since once I do, I know I won’t be able to put it down! I’d highly recommend picking up or checking out one of Jen’s books. My favorites include: The Tao of Martha and Such a Pretty Fat. Her fiction books are good too. Not as good as her non-fiction, but definitely enjoyable, relatively quick reads!

Jen and the Megan's

Jen and the Megan’s

Have a great week!