FIL's 50th

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday. We hosted Christmas for the first time this year. My mom came over for Christmas Eve and Raz's parents came for Christmas Day through the weekend. I'd be lying if I said it was relaxing, but the food was great and it was wonderful to not have to travel over the mountains.

Raz's dad turned fifty two days after Christmas, and when I knew they were coming to Seattle for the holiday, I set to work celebrating him in true Whitney fashion.

We started the day by surprising him with a luxury whip.

We couldn't get his dream car, so we got mine - a 2015 Audi Q7 with all the bells and whistles.

Vroom, vroom! Thank you Jess at University Audi!

She even left us super cute notes. Once we buy our Audi, we'll be stopping in to see the great people there. They even let me keep one of their pens as a souvenir.

Next, we plugged a secret address into the GPS and it took us on a fun little trip over to Salish Lodge in Snoqualmie for brunch. They brought out a surprise for the birthday boy. Also, complimentary valet! Try their seafood chowder - it's incredible.

A view of the Falls doesn't hurt either.

We had some time before our next activity, so she stopped for a quick wine tasting at Januik.

It's the most modern-looking tasting room in Woodinville. Fun vibe and good wine.

Couldn't leave without some bottles of rose. They were even on sale! Always the bargain hunter over here.

The Q7's fancy GPS then took us to the one place the FIL had requested - the top of the Space Needle, a place he'd never been. We bought tickets beforehand so we wouldn't have to wait in line (in the rain, no less). Given the time of year, we knew 3 p.m. would give us a good shot at seeing the sunset from on high.

She's taking in the views of the gift shop.

It's all Christmas-fied.

What's fun is you can see a bunch of the Chihuly sculptures from the line to board the Space Needle elevators.

He's having a great time. Kinda looks like my cousin.

We were right about the views that day - they really were incredible. Very moody and Twilight-esque. Just like I like looking at my Seattle. Not necessarily being cold in it, but looking at it.

All the construction can be annoying to watch when it's cranes throwing wrecking balls outside your office window, but it sure is cool from above. A bunch of float planes flew in while we were standing around with the rest of the tourists playing with our selife sticks. Totally worth it.

Amazing views of the islands. For a winter sunset, it lasted a good half hour.

Love this guy's Space Needle pop cup. He's totally owning it.

The last stop of the day was at a place I'd been wanting to try, and had heard good things about from the local pubs I read and our vendor friends at Curalate - a guy from their team is a part owner! I'm obsessed with them, so I knew it would be the perfect place to end the night. It's in Pioneer Square, which has been totally popping lately, and one of the many neighborhoods in Seattle that has a bunch of new spots on my list to try.

I didn't get a good pic of the restaurant, but I thought this sign right outside was pretty funny. It plays hommage to Pioneer Square's roots.

It would have been extra awesome if we were like "Surprise! We're keeping the car, too!" but alas. Maybe for his 60th.

Hope you have more reasons to celebrate this season!

A Day at Disney

Friday, December 19, 2014

When I was eight, my grandma made the mistake of bringing me to Disneyland with her friend and her friend's granddaughter. I'm not sure why either of us agreed to this adventure, but I can hasten a guess as to why my parents did. I've never denied I can be a lot to handle.

Needless to say, we had a terrible time. She still talks about it. I'm sorry I was a bad bumper car driver, grandma. I hope we can move forward.

I'd been to Disney when I was three with my parents, but I don't remember that visit. I just find my iconic Minnie Mouse doll and her pink mobile closet full of clothes in the occasional storage unit and tell my mom it can't move in with me but she also isn't allowed to donate it. 

Two decades later, my mom's fiancĂ©, George, decided his ideal birthday gift would be a day at Disney with all his kids and grand kids. Since George's three-year-old grandson, Walker, and I are in platonic love, I was completely on board. 

It was Raz's first time at Disney, and I'm confident he's trying to play it cool when he says it was just okay, because as we all know, Disney is a lot of things, but "just okay" certainly isn't one of them. We hit up California Adventure, too, and if you get the chance, take a ride on Soaring Over California. That park was being built the last time I was at Disney, so I'd never Soared before, and I can tell you it's very worth it. 

What follows is a photo diary of our day at the park. Hope it helps you remember it's kind of fun to do the impossible.

Note: It's a Small World After All is a hundred times more amazing than ever during the holidays. HIGHLY RECOMMEND, especially if you can go through it with your mom wearing sequin mouse ears and singing all the songs while your husband wonders what he's doing with his life.

Happy Holidays, everyone! My wish for you is tight hugs with everyone you love and all the pie you can handle.

"You Look Pretty"

Thursday, December 11, 2014

June 28 was an indescribable day. One we asked our guests after the fact if they enjoyed as much as we did. Anyone who's done it can attest to what a whirlwind a wedding day is, which is why we scraped together the money it took to get it filmed.

I've been obsessed with Shade Tree since I found them a few years ago. I even did a little work for them. We got our video a few days ago and we've kept it to ourselves to soak it in (and watch it over and over, obviously).

But now it's time to share. 

For those of you who were there, thank you for celebrating and blessing us. For those of you who weren't, we hope you enjoy a little slice of our day. It's something we will cherish forever and ever. You can congratulate me on choosing my friend with the best accent to read the letter I wrote to my dad later ;) - merci beaucoup, Charlotte!

And please disregard my freakishly low voice, psycho facial expression during rehearsal, and light-reflecting legs. Looks like I won't be returning to the same spray tan location for my next big event. You sure do learn a lot about your psycho facial expressions during wedding things. 

Random aside: During my intense media training a few months ago (sadly, after the wedding), I had to watch a lot of myself on film. It's a humbling experience. I am now very aware of my voice inflections and facial expressions, but, hey, all the better for it.  

I don't want to make assumptions, but you might want to prepare the tissues. 

Big shout out to my dad for making himself present from the other side. I love you, Kouka. 

Bridesmaid Dresses: Rent the Runway
Mom's Dress and Earrings: Nordstrom Rack

To all our vendors, along with our incredible family and friends, we appreciate you. Often and always.

Book Club - Not That Kind of Girl

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Lena Dunham is my spirit animal in a way that makes me feel much saner than I think I really am. Her particular brand of crazy is raw and hilarious. It's endearing and comforting. It's like my big, fluffy nap blanket that makes me feel less alone while I doze through other people's drama on Bravo.

Not That Kind of Girl is Lena in her purest, most meandering and brilliant form.

Melanie lent it to me and I devoured it like I tend to do with any size of smoothie - surprising myself with a brain freeze and an empty Styrofoam cup on the car ride home. Feeling full, and wanting more.

It would make a great Christmas gift for any slightly tortured, somewhat high maintenance, brilliant women in your life.

Remember, I don't write much about books because I want people to make their own opinions. No spoilers will come from me. But know I'm a snob about what I read, and when I recommend something, I really, really like it. We may not always have the same tastes, but if you think I'd like something you've devoured like a $7 smoothie, please let me know!

I Choose Jimmy Choos

Sunday, November 30, 2014

It's still hard to believe my dad's been gone more than two years now. We just did another raucous Thanksgiving with the fam. This time Raz's parents joined my big clan over the mountains. It was great fun, as it tends to be. We watched my uncle shout at the TV while the Seahawks stomped the 49ers on their home field. We cheered as my cousin's almost-two-year-old daughter chewed on a turkey leg. We recreated a classic photo. 

In waves, I missed my dad, but in more of a dull, aching way instead of a sharp one. My big, crazy family does that. They make it hard to sit and sulk, to feel sorry for myself in any way. I love them for that. They don't even know they're doing it. 

And, sitting at the adult table, right next to my mom, was her now fiance, George. It didn't feel weird, or really that sad even. He honors my dad - brought him a wreath before dinner. Dusts the snow from his grave. He's Papa's new obsession. He talks apps and techy things with Raz. He knows he'll never be a replacement and he doesn't try to be. He'll do.

He waited until Raz and I were about to leave for our honeymoon five months ago now to propose to my mom. I picked their wedding date. 

And, one day, when Melanie and I went to the downtown Seattle Nordstrom Rack to shop for content, I found these. 

80% off. $150 from $795. No joke. They are my first pair of Jimmy Choos. (If my math is wrong, remember I majored in English.)

They probably won't last all night. They're for a very special occasion - my mom's second beginning. One she very much deserves.

Just last week, I found her some similar Badgley Mischkas. $69 from $175. When I texted her a photo of them and asked "You want?," she wrote back "Grab. Thank u."

Today's the last day of the Nordstrom Rack Black Friday weekend event - an extra 30% off all red-tag clearance. My Jimmies were on clearance. Just goes to show, the more you go, the more you find. As a girl I went to college with once said after returning from an unplanned overnight rendezvous with a former fling, "Could be good, could be baaaaad."

Rack merchandise has taken me through every big life event - weddings, funerals, interviews, parties. My mom's second wedding will be no exception.

Hope your holiday was wonderful!

Manhattan Beach Life is a Life for Me

Thursday, November 20, 2014

There are so many times in my life I have wondered if things were real. And I'm not talking Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus. I'm talking moments, places, experiences. Good and bad. Thrilling and irritating. Manhattan Beach is essentially my new mystical Easter Bunny. Can something so magical and absolutely mind bending be real?

Last weekend, I met my sorority BFFLs in this fantastic little beach town for one of our annual girls' weekends. While my BFF complained that she "hates LA," I strong-armed her into visiting this perfect section of the coast by telling her it was cheap for her to fly down (she lives in San Francisco) and that driving her former employer's rented mini van to pick up her former coworkers from company events downtown LA does not a well-rounded LA experience make.

It worked.

I've been to LA a few times - I wrote about one of those times on this little slice of the Internet. Like a lot of mini Washingtonians and Idahoans, I thought I would grow up to be a California girl. I've since changed my mind, but given the easy flight and access to Vitamin D, I hasten to turn down any opportunity to wear flip flops unironically.

You may have seen me complaining on Twitter about the completely offensive cold front we had last week in Seattle. So when Friday arrived and I knew I was headed to balmier climes, I could barely maintain the necessary focus to get through my day. 

And when my moment in Manhattan beach finally arrived, it was sweet indeed. Time with my BFFLs and my momma, cute beach shops, ocean, CREAMWICHES (cookie ice cream sandwiches) and sun coupled with overall slow, easy living did me riiiiight. 

I'm not saying I'm packing up our new house and snow birding down south, but I sure am tempted. Did I mention they love brunch there? I'd really like to know how people get any work done in that kind of sun.

I also told Raz that when the time comes, Manhattan Beach would be the perfect spot for a babymoon. ;)

Herewith, a small photo journal of my new paramour, Manhattan Beach. For more, follow @whitpopa on Instagram, because we all know I'm going to get Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder right quick and will need to post some emo #tbts in a valiant effort to get over myself.

P.S. There aren't many hotels in the area, so I highly recommend airbnb. We had a great experience and I already have a wish list full of beach houses for next time.

Some potential discussion questions:
-Is life in Manhattan Beach real?
-Where do these people get Christmas trees?
-How is the beach so deserted at night?
-How do they keep it so clean?
-Which one of the beach house owners who clearly isn't living there full time wants to let me squat in exchange for watering their plants and occasionally dusting? Seriously, though.

What's next on your weekend getaway list? I can't help myself when it comes to fun little vacays, especially when sun is involved. 

Festive Family Fotos

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A large part of my job is taking photos. You'd be amazed how much time can be spent styling fingers and strategically angling shoes. So when my friend Amy offered to feed us in exchange for coming over and taking a picture of her little family for their Christmas card, I figured I had a small level of skill to pull it off.

I've known Amy since we were wee Delta Gamma pledges at the University of Idaho. When I talk about my sorority sisters, I like to say we've grown up together. We've seen each other through four of the most formative years we'll ever have and always miss (RIP fraternity "mixers" as Carlovilla likes to call them). We also have tons of blackmail photos of each other that keep us playing nicely in the sandbox. JK...we wouldn't do that. Or would we?

We've experienced so much that's made us more than friends. And it wasn't all paying for friendships, pillow fights and "Circle The Fat." We really are sisters. As an only kid who went from being solo with a bunch of stuffed and real animals to living in a mansion with eighty other women for four years, I'm incredibly overwhelmed by and grateful for that.

Since Amy would kill me if I blasted her Christmas card across the internet before she sent it out, I thought I'd show a behind-the-scenes moment (side note: my mom used a picture of Amy and me for a Christmas card one year - random and awkward. My grandma still has it on her fridge).

THIS is what goes into creating a happy family photo. That hand in the corner coaxing a smile out of a 85 lb puppy is Raz's. I think he's holiday a Dorito. The rest of the outtakes are all just yellow blurs of said puppy running toward us and Amy and Will trying to hold him back. Makes me think of the people with hand puppets cooing at babies behind the camera at JC Penney.

When Facebook, Instagram, blogs, et al tell you how killer everyone's lives are, remember that. It's not all perfect poses and steamed hems. There's a whole lot more going on behind the scenes...and huge puppies running out of the frame to jump up your entire body for a treat.

But it sure is worth it. And wow are we getting old. Homes and young animals? Next come babies.*

*I have nothing to announce aside from one farty little kitten.

Brittany + Doug 4ever

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

This will probably be an awkward post for a lot of people. Cancer is awkward. Death is awkward. Disease just sucks. Pain is uncomfortable. It makes people fidget. I get that. So don't read on if you're already feeling fidgety.

The Brittany Maynard situation makes me sad, but not for the reason you'd think. I'm not going to get into any political conversations about right to die, or how young and beautiful Brittany was, which is surely part of the reason her story got so much coverage. That, coupled with her very big and aggressive decision, and that her life, to many, was just beginning. I actually never really like to talk about these things publicly because I spend enough time fending off political conversations with my very opinionated and intellectually curious family. As far as I'm concerned, opinions can't be right or wrong, so lobbing them at each other with the intent to prove your point just isn't worth the extra glass(es) of wine.

What I will say is this: I know first-hand the havoc glioblastoma can wreck on a perfectly healthy, amazing human. I've seen it ravage a body, tear apart a family, impact futures and devastate relationships. I've watched it come in uninvited and terrorize the person I called home for 26 years. I've watched it win.

I can't say I would have supported my dad making a decision like Brittany did. I do know he'd probably be proud of her, though. She took control. She spared her family a lot of pain - as counter-intuitive as that may sound. She forced her closest people to remember her as able and unravaged as she could. And that, at least, is incredibly courageous. When you know what I know, you see it for the gift it is.

It breaks my heart, though, because I wish it didn't exist and that no family should have to make the kind of decision Brittany and hers did, or that mine did, which was obviously different than Brittany's. We wanted as much time as we could get, and that certainly came with a unique set of pros and cons. I do, however, feel a sense of kindredness with them, and with her.

And, hey, if this story brings awareness to an unrivaled silent killer, good. It deserves more attention so maybe someday a girl like me won't have to wonder what it would have been like to have my dad here making spaghetti and eating ice cream with my future children. My hope is the potential for memory making won't be stolen from others. It's an absolutely humbling big hairy monster that still brings me to my knees when I give it too much power. It made me a better person - a person who sees these situations from all sides, with compassion and deep understanding.

So, RIP, Brittany. I hope my dad's taking good care of you up there.

And if you're a family member of someone like Brittany, or like my dad, know you're never alone, the knowledge and pain of it will always beat - sometimes dully, sometimes powerfully - inside of you. Harnessing it and sharing it is power. We are better for having faced it.

Photo: Andria Lindquist
I hope our story helps someone. If you have questions or want to know more, you can email me. I'm always glad to meet new people and, selfishly, know I'm not alone either.

Forty Hours in Philly

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I was lucky enough to support the opening of the first Nordstrom Rack in Philadelphia. I'd never been to Philly and had heard great things, so I was really looking forward to the trip. Although I didn't get to the Liberty Bell like my grandparents told me I had to, the city of Brotherly Love did not disappoint.

Let's just call the Liberty Bell and the Rocky Steps and Philly cheese steaks my glass slippers to get me to come back this summer when Raz and I have a week between two east coast weddings. Reason enough, right?

We're in the middle of moving so, for now, a photo diary of my short time in Center City. If you're ever in Philly, it's an amazingly cute area full of brick, old school charm, shoppingggg and a whole lot of history I really need to expl*9ore9 <-- Harrison James wrote that.

Happy Style Hunting, Philly!
Such cool lighting on the street. 
Nordstrom Rack + historical building, yes. 
The cutest little restaurant a block from the store. Called Dandelion. Good, British-inspired food, too. 

I really need to try this place. Who's had it? Should I?
Really, really cool art installments and murals around the city. 
Yelp and Instagram told me this place was good. I didn't get to it, but it was PACKED, so it's on my list for next time.
I meannn, I try to avoid gut bombs while traveling, but I was tempted. Raz had a cheese steak in Seattle in my honor. It counts.
Churches! History!

The new Nordstrom Rack is at 1700 Chestnut St. Check it out if you get the chance! 

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