Monday, September 27, 2010
Check it out: Bellingham Herald
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
I will post the photos in a bit, but for now...wanted to share a few publications regarding Pure Bliss Desserts (just click on the link below):
Bellingham Business Journal
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
A snap Shot of the last two Weeks:
Monday, July 12, 2010
This year couldn't have been more different.
A while back, someone in my immediate family suggested I get a booth for the 4th of July Street Fair in Steilacoom. I thought..."Heck yeah...why not!" This event is the biggest of the year. They close down the main street that drives right threw town and allow vendors to come and sell their goods.They have a big parade in the middle of the day and then a street dance later on in the evening. Electric Slide anyone? Pure Bliss selling select desserts was sure to do well since thousands of people from towns near by come to partake in the festivities. But a whole lot of planning had to take place...months in advance at that considering this was my first street fair ever.
In February, I contacted the coordinator to request a booth. After approval, I wrote a check to reserve a space, submitted my application to the Health Department and began the task of delegation. Though it was a ton of work to get things set-up...the end result was totally worth it. My entire family was amazing in contributing their skills and talents to make the booth a success.
On the morning of, set up began at 7am, with all vehicles off the street by 9am. The street fair ran until 5pm, but if you felt so inclined, you could stay there until 9pm. That means 12 hours of being open...not to mention the 2 hours to set up and 2.5 hours of breaking down and unloading. But don't forget...cupcakes, cookies and scones don't just bake themselves! No, no...I spent 25 hours that week prepping for the street fair alone. A few numbers for you:
-500 cupcakes: Strawberry Short Cake, Creamy Coconut, Chocolate Bliss
-350 Super Chocolate Chip Cookies (more than half were converted into Ice Cream Sandwiches)
It was amazing!!! When I was baking for this event, I told myself never again...way too much work and who even knew if everything would sell. But on Sunday, when the crowds were swarming and people drooling over the treats in the display case, it made it all worth it. Plus...we sold out of everything but the milk (guess the dairy queen in me went a little overboard on milk drinking patrons).
There was no was I could have done this alone though...each one of my family members helped me prepare, share supplies and encouraged me. This is certainly not a complete list of tasks that were taken on, but a little shout out for my helpers:
Dad~Purchased the canopy, facilitated the dry run, designed and created the display case, connected with the street fair organizer to score the BEST plot on the street, purchased materials, helped set up and break down, provided his van for hauling gear and manned the booth.
Matt ~ Dreamed up, implemented and hard-sold Pure Bliss' hottest selling item: BiG BLISS ice Cream Sandwiches, popped out of bed at 7am to help set up, made last-minute sales on the street out of the cooler at 10pm, broke down the booth, streamlined excel spreadsheets for sales projections, manned the booth.
Mom~Logistically permitted space in her home for appropriate storage of goods, woke up at 7am to help me organize, fed everyone with the typical German schmorgasborg of deliciousness, manned the booth.
Ami~Turned a crummy Chalk Board into a masterpiece, converted her daughter into fantastic advertisement, manned the booth.
Nick~Designed the Menu Board, created the structure to hold Pure Bliss banner, donated the health of his cheeks while blowing up balloon animals to draw in the kiddos, drug himself out of bed to help set up after his 2 hours of sleep got his food handlers card so I could be relieved from the booth, manned the booth and broke it down at 10am.
Also thanks to Dannyn, James, Olivia and Auntie Alice for their contributions as well, not to mention the hundreds of people who bought treats!
Saturday, July 10, 2010
I'm taking a break from the Italy blog. It's taking me way longer than I thought, and frankly, I don't want the rest of life to be put by the wayside while I try to sum up the best vacation ever in blog posts. So...for new news:
A few weeks ago, we ventured to my parent's cabin for a little Mag 7 gathering time. It was a combo "celebrate father's day and Matt's birthday" extravaganza. I love going to the cabin because it allows a break from the real world. I basically turn my cell phone off and don't think twice about cake, my inbox or daily ins and outs like sorting mail or ignoring the overflowing hamper. We spend almost all our time outside...either hanging around the property or hitting up adventure destinations close by.
In honor of my father who really wanted to hit the snow, we went on a "hike" to Nachee's Loop. Hike is a loose term since there was so much snow, it was impossible to even see the trail. Matt got his extra work out in carrying 25lb Delya on his back. After walking around for a bit, we settled on a dirt patch for lunch with a breathtaking view. Home brought some more down time, a bon-fire and Strawberry Short Cake for the birthday boy.
Sunday morning was dedicated to waffles, eggs and bacon...then we hit the trails via bike for a little ride on Skuckum Flats. Per Ami's request, Nick found and purchased a sweet bike to be given to Matt for his birthday. He scored a Norco off Craig's List that pretty much resembles Nick's bike to the T. The four of us hit the trail, and mid-ride while resting, we surprised Matt by informing him that that awesome bike he was riding was in deed for him! "Happy Birthday!!!" we cheered! In typical Matt fashion, he stoically accepted his birthday present with a "Wow...are you serious? Thanks." And we were on our way.
The end to those weekends are always a little hard. It just feels so good to be with the family and celebrate togetherness. But I knew we were coming together again the following weekend for the 4th...so it made saying goodbye just a little easier.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Our third morning was an early one: Departing our B&B in Rome to catch an 8:30am train headed to Orvieto, then onto Siena. Widely enough, I woke up at 6am that morning. Partially because it was a big travel day and I was anxious about missing the train and partially because the pigeons outside our room made the most atrocious cooing noises ever and partially because I was starving, which always wakes me up.
We got to the train station in time to slip into a bar (coffee shop) and sip a cappuccino (for Nick) and an Americano (for me). Italians typically enjoy their incredibly good espresso while standing at a bar. They sip quickly, potentially munch on a cornetto (Nick's was filled with nutella....nutella for crying out loud!!!), chat wildly and then depart with a simple "Ciao!" It is oh so fun to watch...what a contrast to our American Starbuck's experience: Sitting for hours, drinking a 20oz quad-shot, half-caf, non-fat, extra-hot, vanilla latte, hold the foam. Prepare yourself Americans: The biggest cup they have in Italy here holds 4 oz. Which was something that I actually struggled with. Yes...I missed my 20 oz drip coffee with one sugar and a splash of half and half. So...in midst of our trip I actually ended up ordering two drinks: A cappuccino ~ for the foam and an americano ~ for the girth. Three drinks, two Americans...we really confused them! But I digress...)
After our coffee, we hopped on a train and studied up on what we could pack into our few hours while visiting one of the hilltowns: Orvieto. An hour later, we arrived and so did the drizzly rain. Since it was such a small town and the train station lacked lockers to hold our bags, we followed Rick's advice and dropped them off at a hotel up the street. We continued up the hill...a really, really steep one (the Vann's typically choose the walking route) and popped out at the top of the hill and the base of the town itself.
Instantly we were in love. Cobble stone roads which were also the walk ways, flowers hanging in the balconies, little alleys decorated with trailing vines that connected with other streets, cute shops, small markets selling fresh stuff only: meats, vegetables, bread, cheeses, flower shops, restaurants/cafes and of course endless gelatrias. Since Nick and I were so overwhelmed with the sites we saw in Rome, we decided to not do any formal site seeing in Orvieto(aka pay to get into somewhere and take the tour) but instead, walk around and see what popped up.
Of course, I was starving as soon as we arrived, so after a little struggle finding a place (the Rick suggestions we checked out weren't open yet) we decided to wing it with a random pizzeria and my, oh, my I am so glad we did. Take note that there are more restaurants than you would ever know what to do with everywhere in Italy. Most places serve similar items, so really it is just a matter of a few considerations:
1. What atmosphere you are looking for
3. Your gut feeling about the place
Needless to say, it can be a little overwhelming if you let it be (like when buying shoes or booking a hotel on-line...so many options, so many choices...which one do I go with!). We finally landed in a cute little pizzeria on the main drag. My Pizza had prosciutto (officially my favorite Italian meat - I eat it EVERY SINGLE DAY on our trip), artichokes, olives and cheese. Nick ordered the calzone (which is really just a pizza folded in half) with prosciutto, tomatoes, arugula (Rocket) and cheese. We immediately swapped half our entrees, toasted our vino rosa de casa and dug in. Heaven, pure heaven. Who knew pizza could be that good. Crispy thin crust, light cheese and all bursting with flavor. After both our plates were empty, I sat back in pure delight, a little fuzzy from the wine and totally pleased from the pizza...life is good!
From there we explored and as time progressed we begun to brainstorm ideas for the B&B nick and I want to have in the future. Orvieto seemed perfect. Scenic, authentic, great people, fun things to do and see, unlimited local agriculture, and great places for wedding chateaus (hint, hint matt and ami) and hill-side homes (hint, hint mom and dad) for the dogs to run around in.
We would grow a great garden, have a few livestock, build a rockin' mt. bike course into the side of the hill, and have our guests' enjoy the scene of the town, then come back to a fabulous locally grown meal. Perfect! After walking just over half the trail that surrounds the town, it was confirmed. At that point, Orvieto was our favorite. 10 out of 10.
Just before heading out of town to collect our bags and back to the train station, Nick and I collected fixings for a picnic dinner while waiting for the train. We went to three local places that provided all of the items fresh off the shelf or out of the bin: Two kinds of meat ~ Prosciutto (yes...I was obsessed) and some really dark meat, thinly sliced that we had no idea what it was, two kinds of cheese ~ one soft like brea, one hard like Parmesan, fresh pesto, fresh bread, fresh tomatoes and arugula and locally made chocolate. We bought some white Orvieto Classico wine and were on our way for an amazing picnic for just under $20 euro.
Our train ride went without a hitch...even including a 30 minute layover in a random town that I can't even remember the name of. We arrived in Siena at 11:30pm only to discover the buses stopped running at 11, so had no choice but to were huff it to the hotel. With every step, prayers were shot up to God pleading that the nuns didn't give our room away AND that our feet could stand the unknown miles we had a head of us until we arrived. But of course, God provided...at 12:15am we found out hotel, ripped off our shoes and hit the sack in preparation for another day in a new town. Ahhh...nothing like a really good bed to sleep in.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Just like our first morning in Rome, we woke up on that second morning to beautiful sunny skies. Breakfast on the terrace, once again provided by Ricardo, with the "what are we going to do today" discussion over cappuccinos and crunchy bread. Since our Roma Pass gave us one more free entry to any museum in Rome, we decided to start off with a trip to the National Museum. It was, after all the most expensive museum in Rome, so why not take a look and then head over to the Vatican/Sistine Chapel/St. Peters Cathedral.
Getting to the National Museum required a ride on Rome's 2 track subway system. After asking the man behind the bar to help the brainless tourists how to get through the entrance gate with our Roma Pass, we were off and running. It was simple to see even early in our trip that the transportation system in Europe rocks. Cars are non-essential since their train/subway/bus system is efficient, timely, frequent and accessible. The US could really learn a thing or two about getting around...that's for sure. The only draw back, is the higher threat to pick-pocketing in all of the stations. Mass people, crammed together with tourist's wallets precariously hanging from their back pockets are just asking to get picked. In fact, there were a few times on throughout our trip where Nick and I were tempted to pick a few pockets just because it was so easy. (Note: we wouldn't actually DO this and even if we did it would just be to prove a point after giving the wallet back to the clueless tourist.) Of course we saw the over-cautious tourist walking around with their backpacks on the front of their bodies, emulating a pregnant woman's bulging belly. They just looked ridiculous (especially the men) and oh-so tourist-esk. There's a middle ground somewhere ~ protect your stuff, but don't be paranoid...something I battled with daily considering Rick Steve's constant reminder.
Anyways...I totally digressed. So...the national museum was totally boring and a waste of time. That may sound harsh, but considering we only had 2 FULL days in Rome and a lot to see, I would have rather spent our time exploring the city and their different districts and admiring the super old buildings and women walking around with high heals, pushing strollers on cobble stone streets while eating Gelato (of course we did this, but I wanted more). The only good thing out of our visit to the museum was seeing this sculpture:
and comparing this man's butt to Nick's rather large (and lovely if you as me) booty:
The fact that I was STARVING while touring the endless 4 levels of this museum (and a basement full of coins ~ riveting I tell you, just riveting) wasn't helpful. So I begged and pleaded to get some food AND get the heck out of that place, I got my way and the next panini/pizza joint we stumbled upon was ours! I learned a valuable lesson that day: When going to a museum, make sure I am well rested, full and have at least one glass on wine in me to take the edge off. Those sculptures and paintings are a lot more fun to look at when you almost see two of them.
After the much appreciated and needed calorie session, we hopped on the subway again and headed to the Vatican. I learned on our short train ride there that the Vatican is in it's very own teeny, tiny country (that's why the Roma Pass couldn't be used). We thought if we entered through the St. Peter's side, the line would go faster, but boy where we wrong. That monstrous courtyard (something that took me about 10 minutes to get over) was absolutely packed full of people.
So we walked around the country (he-he), walked right up to the ticket booth, bought our tickets for the Vatican (basically a museum), which would take us into the Sistine Chapel and then in to St. Peters (at which point we found out was free to get into which was probably why there were so many people in line ~ metal detector security). Rick's walking tour left me wanting more since I knew what we were looking was throughout the museum was much more riveting. Preserved mummies, a whole bunch of Egyptian stuff: and massively huge sculptures,
marble coffins, hallways filled with carved head figures
and tapestries 30 feet tall that gave off optical illusions.
But we took what we could get, pretended we knew what we were looking at, ease dropped on a few private tours (those are everywhere in every city) and carried on.
The Sistine Chapel was amazing, although I must admit that I was expecting it to be bigger with a more grand entrance. We basically came down a steep staircase after touring the Vatican and entered a room packed with tourists looking up and anti-photography Nazis erasing poached photos of the ceiling on cameras. But back to the point, the paintings were incredible. Depth, dimension, detail...all things perfectly demonstrated thanks to Michelangelo's amazing work ethic and dedication. It finally dawned on me why this was such a big deal, especially after seeing more paintings on other ceilings/walls in other cities. Michelangelo understood how to convey 3-D on a flat surface and was gifted enough to successfully paint it...even while laying inches away from the ceiling, on his back, in a hammock-like apperatice, for days on end. That's dedication. The question I asked Nick after leaving the room: "How did he go to the bathroom from way up there?" Anyone?
The Sistine chapel lead into St. Peters massivity, I mean Cathedral. Please don't be upset with me when I say this (remember this would have been my 4th Big site-seeing activity for the day and I was getting a bit tired) but I was kinda turned-off by St. Peters. Yes it is ginormous. Yes it is beautiful. Yes, I am sure they fill all those seats (Easter and Christmas especially), but it just seemed soo...Gaudy. Too much. Too rich. Too grandiose...if I may be blunt...too focused on appearance. This was a church? Where was the message of humility that Jesus sent when he was here? I couldn't find it. But we did find a few dead popes in their tombs, lots of little cherubs carved and mounted on the walls, magnificent murals, high arched doors at the entrance and beautiful columns supporting the entire structure. It was beautiful, I guess I was just overwhelmed at the thought that people worship Jesus here.
So we left and I asked Nick if we could just sit for a bit...sometimes a girl just needs to observe her surroundings on the bench in the sunshine. I found this was an effective way for me to get my rests in throughout the trip: I request a sit break and Nick would bust out the map/Rick Steves and get our barrings. We decided no more organized sight seeing would be on our agenda that day, only exploring. So we headed on foot, walked along the Tevere River for a mile or so, then stumbled upon the cutest area in all of Rome, in my humble opinion: Trastevere.
Narrow streets, Restaurants everywhere with fun bistro seating in the allys, eccentric variety of shops offering decent priced goods, Gelaterias, gorgeous vines traipsing the buildings and just an overall feeling of quaint. We strolled and admired this area for a good hour. We knew we were in a big city, but this district felt like a small town. In fact we loved this place so much, that after leaving and exploring the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon and tons of beautiful buildings like these:
we immediately walked the mile and a half back to Trastevere to find our dinner spot. A family ran restaurant with 10 tables and the ease to turn away guests once all the tables were full. Luckily, a nice Italian Couple shared their table of 4 with us...giving us the last two seats in the house and the title of the only tourists eating there. The hand made pasta was amazing and the house wine 2 Euro. Even though the panna cotta was only sub-par, we were happy none-the-less.
Around 11pm, we hit the streets yet again, taking an alternative route back to our B&B...about 2.5 miles away. Rome, day 2, officially topped out as our "most miles traveled by foot" for our entire 3 weeks in Italy. A welcomed title considering the streets are safe, the sights are well lit and walking off a pound of pasta before tucking into bed just feels better.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
We arrived in Rome around 11:30 at night, which meant that we had been traveling for about 36 hours straight. Yes...we voluntarily opted for a 10 hour layover in Amsterdam, thinking "Wow..what a great way to see the city without having to actually stay here!" Stupid, stupid, stupid! After about 2 hours of wondering the city and visiting the Anne Frank House, Nick and I were so tired, we couldn't see straight. I think a combination of anticipation for our upcoming travels and unlimited movies on the airplane kept us without slumber for the entire 11 hour flight. Oops...bad decision. Being on the verge of tears wondering around Amsterdam, I quietly requested to my travel partner that we head back to the airport and find a nice little dark corner to sleep in. He obliged. Lucky us, we scored two super sweet, lazy-boyesk chairs in our terminal and napped for a good 3 hours before boarding plane for the 2.5 hour remaining flight to Rome.
Our first morning in Rome, we woke up in glorious splendor. A night full of deep sleep, sun shinning in through the window and the city bustling below us…we were refreshed and ready to go. Ricardo, our B&B host, was preparing our breakfast on the terrace. A simple fair of really, really hard white toast (I think this crunchy little squares come out of a package), a warm, flaky cornetto (with a hint of orange), butter, jam, yogurt, fresh squeezed orange juice and of course, cappuccinos. We really weren’t expecting much, since Italian’s aren’t too big on breakfast, but considering neither of us had had dinner, we were pleased.
Since our B&B was a hop, skip and a jump away from the Coliseum…it made sense to take Rick’s advice and hit up the trio tour: The coliseum, the Forum and the Palatine Hill. Once we located a kiosk that sold a Roma Pass (admission to 2 museums, ruins, or the like AND free transportation for 3 days) and a quick lunch we were in the Colesseum.
Purchasing the pass was key to bypass the extraordinary line that filled the corridor. Imagine a line if the world series were at Safeco field…LONG! We also decided to purchase an audio tour since neither of us were too informed with details regarding the Colosseum. Rick was right; the commentary was a bit dry, but informative non-the-less. We circled the Colosseum twice…one on the upper and lower levels, while a British accented woman shared the history of gladiator matches, wild animal hunts, the hierarchy of social class seating arrangements and various building materials. Though the Colosseum was amazing to see, we were ready to move on…2 full days in Rome isn’t much to see all there is to offer.
The Forum was next and thanks to Rick’s walking tour, we were well informed as to what the “rubble” used to be, without having to purchase another audio tour. From massive structures built for famous men, to market places meant to proclaim opinions, to Caesar Augustus’ burial sight…it apparently was the place to be back there in 500bc. This may not look like rubble (some was some wasn't, but I guess it just goes to show that they really knew how to build them way back when...)
The Forum lead directly into the Palatine Hill, which honestly was my absolute favorite of the three. Things were green up there. Gardens, walking paths guided by trimmed bushes, orange trees and fabulously tall trees that kinda look like big dinosaurs, I was thrilled to see life after all the brick and mortar and marble. We forwent the audio tour and though slightly dissatisfied with Rick’s description of the expansive area, it was still fun to explore and be wowed by the intricate details of the structures that remained.
By now, Nick and I had had it and were ready for a change of pace. Enough with this 2000 year old stuff..bring on the now! So we hopped on a bus (always an adventure finding the right one, the right place to stand to get on it and getting to our final destination) and headed to Piazza de Popolo: This is one of Rome’s trendiest places to be (they were currently prepping the piazza for an event)…stuffed to the gills with gorgeous stores (aka expensive) and locals out on a stroll. So we strolled, goggled at the fun and FUNKY current styles, hit up the Spanish Steps and hunted down our dinner location. Yes…a bit confusing with all the alleys, street names on the buildings that look like alleys, and the like, but we ended up at a great little spot on Rick’s suggested list, just as the rain started to pour down hard...nothing our huge patio umbrella couldn't handle though.
Of course I had heard that it is appropriate to order multiple courses (antipasti, primo piatte, secondi) plus coffee and dessert, and considering our hunger level, we did: Bruschetta to start, then the ravioli in butter and sage for me and fresh egg noodles with bacon, black pepper and Parmesan for Nick, then pork chop – to share, then sauteed eggplant and zucchini, all to be consumed with Vina Rosa and un café. Yumm. No really….yummm. They keep it simple there, maximizing the taste of the high quality ingredients. Butter and sage made my ravioli perfect. The bacon on Nick’s pasta had a delicious crunch to it that had me reaching across the table with my fork between bites of my own dinner. We also discovered that we had ordered too much food. It may be insulting to not order a meat dish next time or no dessert, but honestly, I would rather finish every meal (breakfast included) with Gelato. Va bene!
It was about 11pm by the time we left our quaint little restaurant. We strolled home, eager to see what we would stumble upon during the 2 mile trek. The thing about Rome that amazed me the most was around each corner was another fabulously old structure...just sitting there...to be looked at....like this: Amazing!
Just as a side note...I did in fact get pooped on by a pigeon our first day it Italy. But to the Italians, this is considered good luck. So I went with it. It was also a wonderful reminder that totting along anti-bacterial wipes would be a good idea. From the that day on, we were fully stocked. Just in case.
Nick and I chatted a bit during dinner regarding Italy and the things that make it fabulous (from my entire 24 hour exposure thus far). Here’s a few high points:
· Though it may appear to be chaotic, the locals have an overall aura of peace…even while driving
· The maximization of space is incredible…the alleys are safe, well lit and used frequently by all people all the time, the majority of people drive smart cars or Cinquecentos or mopeds, homes are smaller, but no one seems to mind since the minute they step out onto the curb anything they need is basically at an arm’s reach.
· You can walk everywhere…and if you don’t feel like it, the transit system is rather straight forward.
· Gelato is on every corner...it’s like the American version of Starbucks
· Buildings that are 3000 years old are just here…sitting around while people walk past them like they belong there (and they do of course, but it is just crazy to get my head around it)There's more...but really, I could write all day, so I'll save some for later.