The Art of the Brick

The Art of the Brick

KMJ travels

Every once in awhile it’s fun to play “Tourist in Your Town” and the new exhibit at the Pacific Science Center proved a great opportunity.


BK loves legos, so we took advantage of my membership to check it out – it is pretty amazing what artist Nathan Sawaya has created out of a bunch of tiny plastic bricks.




My favorite was the Easter Island recreation:

13423970_10208525094020469_8529875364697180161_nIt is not a cheap exhibit to visit if you don’t have a membership, but at least your admission fees are going to a good cause!  Be sure to visit before September 11th!

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Staycation Day 8

New Years Eve!  Spent most of the day downtown with the in-laws , watching football from a waiting room


Eventually escaped to home for a yummy dinner – crab cakes & fancy champagne, a repeat splurge from last year – plus BK poached some pears with his new sous vide machine…

Then headed east to LCW to take on KC2 in a mostly friendly match of Mexican Train dominoes – girls rule!


The Pantry at Delancey

KMJ travels

Easily one of the best meals we’ve had in a long time, and it came on our 5 year anniversary, wha???  I know – crazy.   I got the email for this dinner awhile ago and quickly signed up because it looked delicious and most of their dinners sell out quickly so I just hoped BK would like it too.Arriving at the Pantry, the other guests , ~20 total, mill about eating appetizers and sipping wine for a bit – for us this meant 3 different types of crostini and a Rose while we chatted with a couple from Auburn,  The crostini were:
Roasted eggplant and tomato with grilled squid
Taleggio with smoked castelvetrano olives and lemon
Marinated anchovy with homemade Calabrian chile butter


Then we all sat down at a long communal table and ate the rest of the dinner family style – plenty of food for all.  First course…

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Wine Tasting in Haro



Super fun day wine tasting in the Rioja.  Before traveling we had talked with the concierge about the best spot to go, and he suggested the town of Haro, which has several great tasting rooms along one street (similar to Woodinville), so we hired a driver to take us to/from so we could all drink with abandon, and that we did.


First stop at 10:30am was La Rioja de Alta – Instead of paying for a flight of wines here to taste, you simply choose whichever you’d like to taste at around $1.50-2.00/pour.


We started with a albarino from Galicia, fresh & crisp before moving on to the traditional reds from the area.  BK even went all in from the start, asking for a taste of the 2001 Gran Reserva – all were delicious. (don’t miss my blog post about the special opener she used on the Gran Reserva, very…

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Settling in

Coming up on two months now since we moved into our new place, boxes are steadily being unpacked and we’re getting back to normal.  We got new windows installed last week and I put the hours of HGTV viewing to good use and started installing the new window trim which has been quite popular with the four legged residents of our house.

The other day I was moving some boxes around in the basement and found a cat perch that mounts to the window sill that I had bought a couple years ago but never mounted in our old place since there just wasn’t the right spot to put it.  So I decided to put it up on the office window to give them a place to plop down and watch the squirrels and birds that run around in the backyard.

Marion found it right away and decided it was his, Seamus wasn’t so sure about that and there was a minor standoff and discussion about this newly discovered territory.

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In the end, age and experience won out and the victor celebrated in the customary fashion.


EK413: An unexpected Upgrade

Months and months ago when we were searching non-stop looking for all of our flights in and around Australia and New Zealand I came across a great deal to get us between Auckland and Sydney for the last leg of our vacation.  I thought it was a typo when I secured us two tickets for around $150 but went for it and was even more surprised when I saw the flight was on an Emirates A-380.  A plane that holds upwards of 500 people for a 1500 mile flight?  Makes no sense but whatever and we bought the tickets and moved on.

Fast forward almost seven months and four days before said flight I get an email from Emirates offering us an upgrade oppurtunity on the flight to Sydney.  Normally I wouldn’t bother on a short flight but it was a good deal, we’d paid next to nothing for the tickets in the first place and it’s business class on an A380 which is not something either of us were likely to experience any time soon let alone on Emirates.  After some further conversation where we figured out that this upgrade would give us dinner at the airport, dinner on board, hours of free internet access that we’d been lacking and didn’t take much convincing to go ahead with it.

On the day of the flight we showed up at the airport probably four hours early wanting to take full advantage of the lounge facilities for happy hour and getting some much needed blogging and photo uploading complete before our flight.  We settled into the lounge and celebrated with some vintage Veuve Clicout and snacks while we worked.  In the meantime the lounge quickly filled as we learned there were not one but four large flights departing for Australia and then on to Dubai that afternoon.

Boarding was called and we wandered our way down to the terminal, along the way we saw this Air New Zealand plane with some cool Hobbit artwork:


Another few minutes and we arrived at our gate which was predictably at the end of the terminal and got a first glimpse of our ride to Sydney waiting at the gate.  We walked through the gate and found two separate boarding ramps for coach (lower level of the plane) and first/business on the upper level.




 We were welcomed on board by one of the most pleasant flight crews I’ve ever run across, I think there were about 14 crew working in the business cabin for about 30 people.  We found our seats about halfway down the cabin nicely appointed with wood, these great storage compartments under the windows and even a mini-bar at each seat stocked with fancy water, juice, soda’s and glassware.  Each seat has a huge video screen you control by touching the screen, using the wired remote or if you can’t manage that there’s also a touch screen wireless remote for controlling the seat, lights, AC and the massive library of movies, TV, music etc..



After a second pre-flight happy hour we were under way and it was a weird take off, the plane rolled for a long time but the acceleration wasn’t as pronounced as you would feel in at 747, 767 or smaller Airbus plane it was like one second we were rolling on the ground and the next we were floating upwards under the massive wings attached to this plane.  It was a strange realization that we were in a huge plane and that there was essentially another huge plane right down the stairs with another 300 people on it.  Crazy.  Also worth mentioning that this plane is QUIET, the usual noise you get on planes seemed to be about 40% less than usual.

Service began with a nice Bordeaux and then some nice smoked salmon and lamb cutlets for dinner, these were easily as good or better than the lamb I’d ordered in a couple of restaurants during out time in NZ.  For dessert a delicious chocolate cake and fruit.


Once dinner was over we decided to head back to the bar for an after dinner drink, yes, I said back to the bar ON THE PLANE!  The rear of the business cabin is setup as a lounge/bar area complete with with top end liquor and wines, little canape’s and other snacks available throughout the flight.  The bartender was a nice guy from Brazil originally and we chatted with him while the other attendant who was also super nice and very used to people looking amazed that there was a bar on the plane, took a picture for us.


Champagne and martini’s seemed to be most appropriate for this lifestyles of the rich and famous/international super spy 007 moment so we did just that and enjoyed our little club flying along at 38,000 feet.  Just since they had it, I grabbed a scotch before we headed back to our seats to relax for the remainder of the flight wishing for the first time ever that the flight could be longer.


All to soon we landed in Sydney after what seemed like the longest low level approach to the runway ever, a nice smooth landing and we breezed through customs and very quickly found ourselves downtown at the Westin and ready to enjoy the last few days of vacation exploring Sydney.


What does a $1K bottle of Shiraz taste like?


At Wine Tastes in Queenstown you can find out! They have 80 wines available for tasting or larger pours – you just get a card to rack up everything you try and pay at the end. BK couldn’t resist and splurged for a taste of the Penfolds Shiraz they put out while we were mostly concentrating on the local pinot Noirs. Verdict: good, but probably needed to be decanted and breathe a bit to truly enjoy it…

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Out in the Cold

Thanks to the time change I slept like a rock until about 4:30 AM when I woke up and that was that. I killed some time reading and hit the pool again before meeting up with everyone about 8:00 for a day of exploring the markets.

We jumped on the subway which is fairly new and easy to navigate with easy to follow maps labeled in Mandarin and English. Twenty minutes and ten stops later we popped up back into an 18 degree morning and heavy smog that had settled in overnight and headed to the Dirt Market. Unlike the Pearl and Silk markets, the Dirt market is held outdoors and has a massive collection of vendors selling all manner of art, beads, pottery, woodwork and more. We spent a couple hours taking it all in before the cold and the need for lunch chased us away.

Back on the subway we headed to Silk Street to grab some lunch and check out the market there which is indoors and a welcome respite from the cold. Lunch was a large assortment of dumplings, spring rolls, stir fry with red peppers, beans, cauliflower and pumpkin con gee. This again was a ton of food and we left feeling stuffed. Total cost for our feast of a lunch for five was only $31 and we headed back across the street to the Silk Market.

The silk market is five floors jam packed with all manner of clothing, electronics, souvenirs, jewelry and almost anything else you can think of. It’s truly overwhelming and we took a couple hours to walk around and pick up a few things. I got another layer of warm clothes in a fleece vest for about $15 and pair of prescription sunglasses which are really inexpensive here and one of the better deals in the market for those who need glasses. With proper bargaining you can easily get two pairs of glasses including the frames and lenses for under $100.

After a full day of walking all over the place we were pretty wiped out and retired to the hotel for the night but not before grabbing some pastry for Sunday morning since we have an early departure for the Great Wall.