A HALF CUP

Happy Birthday To Me!

*Disclaimer: This post is long, full of pictures, and much more focused on my life and birthday than it is the food. So if that's not your thing, I won't be the least bit offended if you skip this one. There's a good salmon recipe coming up in the next post.....I'll win you back, I just *know* it! On my 5th birthday I was a cake-loving, shy, close-mouthed smile girl. We've come a long way, baby! But, Lord, look at those fabulously '80s outfits we all have. And also, I'd like to note that my mom is still this beautiful, so I'm REALLY lucking out in the gene pool. Of note: my mom is 38 years old in this picture. (I KNOW!!!!!)

Any summer baby like myself will tell you that we wait allllll year for the warm months to arrive here in the Pacific Northwest. And when they do, we bask proper. I was ahead of the game this year, prepping numerous playlists for all SORTS of shenanigans. The winning of them all, head and shoulders above, was my "100% Summer" Playlist, which I'm only giving up now because summer is over, and let's face it, us Leos tend to be a little "Me, Me, Me" about stuff like that. It's just a thing.

I hope you're not getting your hopes up that I'll have some killer birthday cake recipe or cake related picture in here. I didn't bake or eat birthday cake this year. I didn't blow out any birthday candles. I must be doing it right, because this has been, hands down, the most amazing birthday (month) I've ever had in my entire life. 31 was an incredible year, and I have a distinct feeling 32 will blow it out of the water by New Years.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

If you've been with the blog for a year or more, you know I'm NOTORIOUS for stretching the festivities across the entire month of August. This will never change. You know who benefits from this approach? Everyone I know. Because people love a semi-legit reason to celebrate with friends and family. Without further ado, here's what went down, where and with whom:

Restaurants

Source: Eater.com [Photo: S. Pratt]Right out the gate, I tried Aragona on August 1st. The bartender was incredibly knowledgeable, the staff was kind, the interior was beautiful, the food was on point and the cocktails were crisp and well balanced. Perfect date spot. Of course, if you're a Seattleite, you may have heard Jason is shuttering it and reopening soon as the Italian centric Vespolina.

I also hit up Bravehorse a couple times for beers and shuffleboard with old friends, which is a walkable, perfectly relaxing spot to end a week. The new Mezcaleria Oaxaca also proved a valuable downtown/Cap Hill asset in the sunset catching department.

The cocktail of my 30's - The Old Fashioned - has only become better with my age. HA! Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

For full-blown birthday celebrations, I touched down at Miller's Guild twice with different batches of out-of-towners because I can walk there in 5 minutes, thereby only making me 10 minutes late because, HI, HAVE WE MET?! And somehow, because I'm a mastery of calendars, I was able to con my various groups of girlfriends into taking over Damn The Weather no less than 3 times. If this place continues to get accolades on its current speed-of-sound trajcectory, I'm going to have to start some counter tactics..... Everyone knows about it and while I'm so incredibly happy for my friends that are involved in such a great project that makes the cocktails and food above and below happen, I'm starting to fear I'll never be able to get a seat! (see HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE for starters!)

Damn The Weather - Crudo Special. Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

Additional mentions go to Westward which provided the quintessential Seattle backdrop for a lovely dinner date, as did Oddfellows (as always). Old Sage was the location of a wonderful food blogger event put on by The Frantic Foodie, and Cure was the antidote for midweek catch up amidst every bicycle-polo-playing hipster the Hill had to offer. Seriously, September cannot sustain this kind of gallivanting you guys. That was insane, and I'm leaving out wedding venues and actual bars, because this is already too long and I haven't even told the actual story yet.

Trips

Siiri Sampson Seattle Food Blogger_A Half Cup Food Blog_Birthday Vacation_1I had tickets to see Arcade Fire on their Reflektor Tour at The Gorge at George and took my best friends, Adam and Troy for a long weekend of doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. IT WAS 100% AMAZING, SEE???

Troy with his Texas Toast on the left, Adam with steak at the ready, on the right. LOVE these newlyweds!!!! Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

Our trip to my sister and brother-in-law's river house (on The Columbia River) was delayed due to road blasting for widening the freeway, so we stopped at this perfect truck stop diner where we all got the salad bar and another meal as if we were stocking up for the winter. We closed out that meal with some local made chocolate treats for the car ride and this amazing sunset.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

Back on the road, we woke up fresh the next day at the River House ready to tackle three full days of being lazy-as-all-hell. Here's what that looks like:

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

You can see Troy photobombing in the pool. Nice one, bro. We also disobeyed all signs and went down to the dry-mudded out river bed which was really cool.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

We had some HOT WHEELS to take us around the development of vacation homes. Now, anyone that knows me understands it must've been hellishly hot for me to swallow my DUCKS PRIDE and parade around in this Loser Cougs Mobile, but it's a SWEET ride and I'm forever grateful for my amazing siblings for letting us use the house for the weekend!

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.

And on Friday night we headed to The Gorge Amphitheater for my very first Gorge Concert!

 

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So that was Friday and of course we made sure to turn George, Washington (yes, that's actually the name of the town - if you can call it a town) inside out:

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And here's the crowning glory of their culinary experience:

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So glad I was smart enough to plan the entire menu for the full long weekend, and pack EVERYTHING we needed for a delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner every night.

Of course we had to play all the Scrabble (my all time favorite game, if you didn't know), watch the sunsets, listen to all the tunes, and have all the fun:

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For dinner the second night, I had started the previous day. I marinated some chicken breast tenders in an ad hoc marinade that I adapted onsite based on my mom's incredible flank steak marinade. This one had (among other ingredients) brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, sherry vinegar, scallions, sesame seeds, mustard, red wine and honey. Let it sit in the fridge for 24hrs, stirring every 8hrs for full coverage. Then grill up and slice while it's warm. Served with fresh tomatoes, baby arugula, herb mix, and a homemade lemon soy vinaigrette dressing.

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After three days of laying about, doing next to nothing, and constantly sighing out loud because you realize how lucky you are to get time off, go away with friends and family, it was time to head back to the city. This entailed lots of bridges, traffic, and troublemaking in the car. The traffic was EPIC:

This beauty is just 5 minutes from the river house on the way home and is one of my favorite bridges in the state.

And so it begins, we're homeward bound....

Someone's getting a little slap happy in the car!

I almost forgot! We hit up Cave B for a wine tasting which was a beautiful property that abuts the amphitheater. They didn't have room for us to have lunch at the restaurant which was a bummer, but we enjoyed sampling a few of the wines and chatting with the staff (you know me, ever the bashful church mouse...I never talk to anyone!)

From the main lodge, just beautiful to sit there and take it all in...

Beautiful grapes fell heavy on the vines all over the property like jewels just waiting to be cut and transformed.

And you can stay in these incredible cottages built into the hillside. Just breathtaking. I totally get the allure now.

That evening, I took in the final sunset of the year out at the Magnolia Bluffs in great company. The sun setting over the Olympics cannot be beat, and it felt exactly right.

I awoke the next morning, 32, and ready to show the world what I'm made of! I met up with my Board of Directors that night after work for a board meeting at Damn The Weather. We settled some foundational components of The Firm, approved all titles, and generally took care of business. These women are the backbone of my daily life, I am immensely proud to have them backing me.

The Board of Directors. Brains, beauty, brawn and wit.

Rachel, my CSSO (Chief Style and Strategy Officer) and I taking a second out of a deep conversation about following our passions. Love this lady.

Liz, my DORM (Director of Recruitment and Membership), Tina, the COATB (Chief Of All The Business), and Rachel (CSSO).

All the proof, scribed by Leigh Ann, my CCO (Chief Clarity Officer, naturally).

We scattered into the evening, as it was a Monday. The first of many board meetings to come was a raging success. I have no idea how I'm going to continue handling all the wonderful things that come throughout the next 12 months. What I do know, however, is that it's going to be delicious, and I have quite the cast of characters to share it with. I ended the first day of 32 on a pretty perfect note, by just being my self(ie).

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All Rights Reserved.