Hello blog reading friends! It’s been awhile, so let’s catch up shall we? So…we’ve done things. Lots of things in fact. For instance, we went on an Alaskan cruise this summer with my fam. Alaska was amazing! The scenery was awe-inspiring! The cruise? Well, it was cruise-like. I know a lot of people love them a nice relaxing cruise. My family…doesn’t. We definitely enjoyed our time together and we spent time wandering around each of the ports of call, but the actual cruising part of the vacay was a little too slow for us. Though, it should be said that the highlight of the trip could only be seen by ship, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

We started and ended our Alaskan adventure in Seattle. Oh Seattle, how we love thee! We did get a little time to wander around Pike’s Market when we returned, which was a lovely treat. But I digress, on with the cruise! The first full day on the ship was spent at sea. Andy and I attempted to take a yoga class at the ship’s gym. But we quickly discovered that yoga is much more difficult when your floor is constantly tipping from side to side as it gets rocked by waves. Also, it wasn’t a very challenging yoga class and was clearly being taught by a body building personal trainer that had been tricked/bribed into teaching an additional yoga class just so the ship could say they offered it. No matter, the stretch the class provided was still nice seeing as cruise ship rooms aren’t known for being terribly spacious. We did some cruise ship like things, ate WAY too much for our own good, and puttered around as only cruisers can. (Btw, the waves en route to Alaska are much rougher than in the Caribbean. I highly recommend bringing some formulation of Dramamine if you’re planning an Alaskan cruise. I got the natural Dramamine with ginger and it worked surprisingly well.)

I’m on a boat. (photo courtesy of Mommy Chao)

The next morning, we docked at our first stop, Ketchikan!

Pretty scenery at every turn.

The fam enjoying a little time on land in Ketchikan.

I was really hoping to see a bear this trip. Not up close and personal, of course, but more off in the distance so it would be undisturbed when I would inevitably jump up and down yelling “It’s a bear! Hello bear!!” Perhaps it’s a good thing we saw no bears. Actually our tour guide said that the weather was a little too nice for a lot of the bigger wildlife. Silly animals, the weather was beautiful! But we did see a lot of bald eagles. If you look at this fellow, his feathers are all ruffled in the back in an attempt to cool off. Apparently, the weather was just too nice for his taste…

We also went to the totem pole park in Ketchikan, where the natural thing to do is to try and make the same faces that the totem poles are making. Right? Doesn’t everybody else do that?

Andy and me trying to be a grimacing…beaver? Cat animal? I’m not sure at this point. But I do think we got the grimace down right.

Begging like a fox-like creature.

Also, these totem poles are seriously tall! (or we’re seriously short, I’ll let you decide)

We make faces with or without totems, it’s just what we do.

Next stop: Juneau, Alaska’s capitol city. Interesting fact: according to our tour guide, there are currently no roads directly into Juneau. You can only get there by plane or boat. Odd for a state capitol, but maybe the Juneauites like it that way? Anywho, we did a very tame little hike to see the Mendenhall Glacier (yes, if I say a hike is tame, it’s truly very easy)

Posing with the Mendenhall glacier. The glacier itself has receded quite a bit. We know this partially because tourists have been coming here to take pictures with the glacier for ages! Back then, the ice was all the way down by the lake that’s directly behind us. You can see all the old timey photos at the visitor’s center, actually a fairly interesting stop.

Can’t get enough of posing in front of that glacier!

Oh and hey look, it’s a big waterfall! Waterfalls are spiffy.

And on to Skagway, the tiniest town on our trip. Trust me, it was so tiny that there was not even an iota of cell service on land for my fellow travelers to latch on to, making for somewhat grouchy companions to say the least. (and yes, wifi on the ship was too expensive to even consider) But we did take an interesting old train ride…


Pretty river scenery, but still no bears for me to get excited about.

And at the turn around point of the train ride, the Great Continental Divide! It looks a little ominous with all the fog and grey skies. Oh! And we did see a marmot, though he cleverly darted away before the hoards of tourists could get his picture. So, you’ll just have to take my word on the marmot sighting.

Us in our brightly colored puffy coat amazingness on the train crossing the Continental Divide. If either of us fell overboard, we made sure you could definitely spot us! (again, photo courtesy of Mommy Chao)

Okay friends, ready for the highlight of the trip? The majestic Sawyer glacier of the Tracy Arm Fjord. What a funny word, fjord. We said “fjord” a lot on this trip, it’s great fun to actually be able to use it in an appropriate context.

Look! It’s an iceberg in the shape of a mutated duck. Also, it was pretty cold at this point. Mittens, hats, puffy coats all came out of our suitcases as we sat on our balconies watching for the glacier. (we did upgrade to a balcony room for this cruise, and it was well worth it come glacier day) And yes, there were a lot of Titanic references made that day…

Saw a bunch of seals hanging out on the icebergs. Won’t lie, got pretty excited about that. It’s no bear, but we don’t have them at home so they’re still pretty interesting.

Momma seal and baby seal belly flopping around.

And the piece de resistance! The Sawyer Glacier. It’s hard to describe the enormity of it, but trust me when I say this thing was a most impressive block of ice! We even got to see some of the ice breaking off and falling into the ocean, glacier calving if you will. In any other situation, it’s probably a fairly worrying noise. But on our cruise ship a good distance away, it was just neat to see/hear.

And that, my friends, was our trip to Alaska in a nutshell. We had a great time and hope to go back someday to fully explore sans cruise. We have a few more pictures that I’ve posted here in the gallery if you’d like to take a look. Maybe next time I’ll see that elusive bear…

So, I’ve been stuck in a bad cycle. The more I don’t post, the more guilty I feel about not posting, and the less likely I am to ever catch up. With that said, how about I just start with the most current event and work backwards when I find time? Not ideal, because a lot has happened since January, but it’s a working plan!

Last weekend, we celebrated one of my dearest friends with a bee themed baby shower! (yes, it’s the second bee themed baby shower I’ve helped to throw, but a good idea is a good idea no matter how many times it’s done!) Ashley and Gustavo are expecting their first baby in August. So, obviously a shower befitting the awesome people that they are was well at hand! And I had the honor of throwing this shower with three of Ashley’s most awesome girls, Katie, Robyn, and Rhae. Planning a shower together and splitting the to-do list really made this one of the least stressful and most fun showers I’ve helped throw!

And instead of all my babbling, how about some pictures?

Katie made these fun invitations announcing the upcoming arrival of Baby Martín.

A clothesline of Burt’s bees organic baby onesies. So cute and so soft! Plus, the bee print on the onesies fit the theme perfectly!

Yellow and white flowers to compliment the bee theme arranged by yours truly.

A picture of the parents-to-bee in a picture frame with a little bee charm. Because I just can’t resist a good theme! :)

A buzzingly adorable and delicious cake from Sweet Arts Creations. Strawberry cake with a Nutella filling was definitely a good call! Thanks to Robyn for finding such a tasty cake!

And Robyn even made these cool beehive sugar cookies for party favors. Yum!

The shower was held at Milburn Country Club in Overland Park. We were really lucky that Rhae was a member and got us an incredible deal! The space was perfect, and look at this food spread! Couldn’t have asked for a better location!

Okay, now that the surroundings are set, shall we take a peek at our star and the rest of the guests?

Robyn, myself, Ashley, and Rhae together again! We were so sad that Katie could not attend, but we know she was sending us good party vibes!

And of course, presents!!

Everyone got a kick out of the onesie that Katie found!

Baby bathing implements, necessary!

There you have it, a fantastic afternoon with some wonderful people, all to celebrate Ashley and Baby Martín! You can click here to see the photos in our gallery. Feel free to right click, and download if you’d like to save a copy! (I think there’s only 2 or 3 that I haven’t posted here on the blog, I never take as many photos as I probably should…sigh.)

Several weeks ago, we got Andy’s family together for a group trip to Galveston. Why Galveston? I know, it doesn’t sound very thrilling and the beaches are rather…gray, hardly the picturesque white sand beaches people hope for. However, it was the most convenient beach destination for most everybody in the family. Plus, it’s not terribly expensive, and since we went the weekend before Memorial Day, not very crowded. Not to mention, I found an amazing house rental at VRBO.

Check out this three story, five bedroom, four bathroom house! It has a nice view of the ocean from both decks and is impeccably furnished. Would definitely stay here again!

We spent most of our time hanging out in the beach or at the house. And since the beach was within walking distance, why not take advantage of it?

Hudson with his Grandpa Trommer strolling on the beach.

The Trommer Family

Oh! And we decided to bring Jabber with us on this little beach vacay. Jabber’s turning 10 this year and we thought she might like to see the ocean! (Cery doesn’t always do so well with unfamiliar surroundings and small children, so she got an all expense paid trip to Petsmart, which she actually does love very much.)

Look at this salty sea dog! Actually, she didn’t seem to enjoy the beach very much. She tolerated the water and swimming but HATED the waves.

Baby Dayton with her Grandma Trommer, enjoying a beautiful day in Galveston. Baby’s first trip to the beach!

We also went into Galveston proper for a cute little summer fair. There was a Southern Star beer tasting, delicious pulled pork sandwiches from the Sauced Pig food truck, and a neat vintage car show.

Looks like an old timey car! Because why not?

Look, another car!

Hudson is in a phase where he LOVES cars. He desperately wanted to get into every car we saw. Thankfully, this nice lady let him get in her antique car and pretend to drive. Now that’s a happy Hudson.

And the rest of the time, we happily enjoyed the lovely air conditioning in our beautiful rental house. Here’s me and my happy niece. Seriously, she’s one happy baby. Most of the time, she’s perfectly content to just sit in the middle of the floor and play with her toes.

And because it’s a family vacation, there must be at least one attempt at a group photo. So look, it’s the family!

Another memorable family vacation in the books! You can click here to see a few of the other photos we took. But as of late, we’ve been pretty terrible at getting enough pictures. It certainly didn’t help that our camera really disliked the Galveston humidity and fogged up whenever we tried to take it outside. Thank goodness for cell phone cameras? Never thought I’d see the day where I would utter those words…

It’s birthday time again! And once again I am reminded just how lucky I am to have such wonderful friends and loving family. Thank you to all who sent me happy thoughts, wished me well, and celebrated with me. I count my blessings each and every day, but infinitely more so at birthday time.

Kicking off birthday month with dinner at Winslow’s Wine Cafe in Fort Worth. Good food, good wine, fantastic company.

Followed by another phenomenal dinner at Eno’s Pizza in the hip Bishop Arts District.

The girls! (And yes, we utterly destroyed our pizzas. They were delicious.)

Oh, and did I mention my dearest friend Ashley and her husband Gustavo drove all the way down from Kansas to hang with me for my birthday? No? Well, there. Now you know! And oh boy, did we do some fun stuff!

We karaoked like rock stars! (albeit, somewhat tone deaf, off key rock stars…but who’s keeping track?)

Just another fun night in Dallas at Family Karaoke with some of my favorite people.

We got tasty treats at our favorite ice cream store in Fort Worth, Melt.

And we got wonderful empanadas at the Argentina Bakery. The ham and cheese was to die for!

Mmm…I love empanadas. Seriously, these were so tasty! I could probably eat a dozen of them by myself. (No mom, I didn’t actually eat a dozen empanadas. I’m just saying I could…)

A taste of home for Gustavo, and a taste of deliciousness for everyone!

And for dessert? How about some delightful alfajores? Yes please!

It has not escaped my notice that we love to celebrate our most important events with food. But that’s what fun about special occasions, right? The rest of the year is when we eat sensibly. Birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays are when we get to indulge! At least, that’s what I’m telling myself. :)

Anyhow, thank you to everyone for making this birthday a very memorable one!

Yes, still struggling to catch up. But at least I’m trying! I’m now going to ignore the fact that I’m almost two months behind and tell you all about our awesome New Year’s Eve!

In years past, we went out and we partied till the wee hours of the morning to start the new year correctly. However, after a long December at work, the crazy partying was really the last thing on my mind. On top of which, a lot of our friends were out of town for NYE this year. So, we gathered a couple of our favorite people and we cheered in 2015 with a nice relaxing evening.

We started out with a fancy schmancy dinner at one of our favorite restaurants in Fort Worth, the Clay Pigeon. If you need a fun and unique place for a special occasion dinner, you really should try this restaurant! They have a made from scratch kitchen that uses locally sourced ingredients as often as they can. Every time we visit, we have a delicious and truly memorable meal! (The fire roasted bone marrow is phenomenal! I know it sounds weird, but I promise it’s worth the weirdness.)

Our NYE foursome enjoying a fantastic meal on the last chilly night of 2014.

After dinner, we came back to our house, got comfy, played games, watched a movie, and very spiritedly welcomed 2015 with a champagne cheers!

Carrie and I got all fancified for dinner, then changed into our most comfy pajamas to welcome the new year. In our defense, the two of us have had our share of wearing uncomfortably tight dresses and high heels to all sorts of events, including New Year’s Eves. This year was positively delightful to lounge about in our pj’s and still get to celebrate just the same!

We played our new “learn to use your chopsticks” game that we brought back from Taipei. Needless to say, we all failed miserably.

And then? We played probably the best game we own, the Outburst Jr. that I received as a Christmas gift when I was 7 or 8. So, it’s absolutely filled with ridiculous and amazing 80’s references. Also, some of the cards are so incredibly easy that it’s just hilarious to watch two very educated grown men try to guess the 10 items for words that rhyme with “steep”. Good time were had, you should probably be jealous.

And right before midnight, I lit the Bayberry candle that my co-worker Christine gave me. I’ve never heard of this tradition before, but you’re supposed to burn a Bayberry candle from the old year to the new for good luck to move forward with you into the next year. It smells lovely, so this is a tradition I’m happy to keep alive!

And Mr. Adam was kind enough to provide the champagne for midnight. This is probably the best champagne I’ve ever put in my face. Fizzy and delightful!

Our NYE group selfie because…why not?

We hope everybody had a lovely holiday season and we can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store for us!

Yes, almost a month later, I’m finally writing about Christmas 2014. But you know how it goes, the more time goes by, the more guilty I feel about not posting something, and the vicious cycle continues. Well, I’m doing my best to stop that cycle (and catch up ever so slightly)!

My family came to Fort Worth to join us for Christmas this year. So much fun! So much food!!

The family together again in front of the Fort Worth Christmas tree before we headed to a fun showing of the Nutcracker.

And because we can’t look normal for more than one picture at a time, of course we had to make faces!

And I said we had a ton of food, right? On with the food pictures!!

Christmas Eve dinner (since I still had to work during the day) was a simple meal of fish tacos, sweet potato black bean veggie tacos, and cilantro lime rice. Delicious and still festive because really, what’s more festive than spending time with your family on Christmas Eve?

Christmas Day was spent hanging out with the family. We opened presents, watched television, played some Nintendo 64, teased the puppies, and we cooked and cooked and cooked.

For Christmas Lunch, my mom made a quick but deliciously light meal.

A stir fried sweet potato noodle dish. Yes, that’s right! Despite their definite lack of orange coloring, these noodles are made from sweet potato starch. We were dubious at first, but they are quite tasty!

And one of my favorites, it’s a pressed tofu, cilantro, and picked turnip salad. Mmm…the flavors are crisp and refreshing. I could eat this ALL the time!

For Christmas dinner, Andy and I had a very detailed schedule to follow. It wasn’t quite as complicated as Thanksgiving since there weren’t quite as many oven cooked dishes. But it was still a well choreographed dance!

Christmas Day Dinner with Pan Seared Brussels Sprouts, Green Green Spring Vegetables, Potatoes with Whole Spices, Butternut Squash with Blue Cheese, and a gorgeous standing rib roast (for us meat eaters).

The day after Christmas meant the big zongzi making day with Dad (separate post yet to come). And Mom helped stock our freezer with her delicious mustard green veggie baozi.

I love having these stashed in my freezer. Perfect for a light lunch and packed with yummy and healthy veggies.

And Cathy helped make some of the prettiest Christmas cookies in the history of my kitchen. (I can make decent cookies, but I don’t even know where to begin decorating them properly.) These were tasty and beautiful!

Very free form, spray painted graffiti kind of look.

And lest you think we’re all veg and no treats. Oh there was pie…

The Smooth Operator Pie for Emporium Pies in the Bishop Arts District. (French silk with a decadent pretzel crust)

The Snowball also purchased from Emporium Pies. If you live in DFW and you haven’t been there yet, it really is worth the trip! (Toasted coconut cream pie)

Then to get out of the house (and away from some of the food and constant eating), we took a quick stroll through the Crow Collection of Asian Art Museum in Dallas. It’s a neat little museum, but I do stress that it’s quite tiny. Unless you’re absolutely enthralled by jade sculptures and Hindu gods, it doesn’t take very long to wander through the collection. It was still a fun little field trip though!

Us in front of the Crow Collection Museum with a Guardian lion statue.

So happy to have a relaxing and nice little Christmas at home. We’re lucky and blessed. I hope everybody else had a lovely Christmas season as well!

Those or you that are married or have a significant other in your life, you probably have this very same problem that couples have faced since the beginning of time, which family to spend what holiday with. Andy and I have worked on an alternating holiday schedule. One family gets Thanksgiving, the other family gets Christmas, and the next year the families get flip flopped so everybody gets a chance at each holiday. It’s not a perfect schema, but it’s worked for us so far.

This year, we celebrated Thanksgiving with the Trommer side. So, Christmas was spent with the Chao side (more on that later). But we usually pick another weekend to get together with the Trommer side for a holiday celebration, a Fake Christmas if you will. There is always tons of food, fun gifts, and plenty of quality time spent with family. Thanks to Aunt Sally and Uncle Bodie for hosting the little get together, we had such a memorable time!

Our magnificent feast, lovingly prepared by Aunt Sally and Uncle Bodie.

Mom Trommer and Aunt Susan enjoying some family gift time!

Wine tasting with Cousin Debra!

Andrew, Caitlin, and Noah playing with some new toys!

Posing for a quick family pic with Dad and Mom Trommer

We’ve usually got a pretty busy Christmas schedule, especially this year with my work move. But I’m so glad we made the time to attend Fake Christmas this year! Christmas is one of my favorite times of year, there’s just so much fun to be had and so many people to celebrate with!