good-bye seattle.

Thank you for indulging our dozens of photos. We truly couldn’t have asked for a better vacation. We rested. We played. We explored. We laughed. We read. We ate (a lot).

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David has always joked that he didn’t want to take me to visit Seattle because I’d never want to come home. Now I can see why. It’s an incredible place, and I was constantly surprised by the friendliness of people. It’s easy to walk or take the bus. There are charming front-yard vegetable gardens on every block and in some of the parks. You can compost every food item (including meat and oils) and the city will come collect it for you.

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Seattle takes “local food” to a whole new level: venders at the Sounders soccer stadium included Starbucks, craft beer, and a bakery. There are more coffee shops than you can even imagine.

One of my favorite features of the city has to be that it’s probably the one place I’ve traveled where I didn’t feel like I needed a new wardrobe to blend in. I heard Seattle described by a blogger as “aggressively casual” and it’s so true. Yes, you have your hipsters and your stilettos. But more than anywhere I’ve been, the standard dress is jeans and t’shirts and flip flops (or possibly Teva sandals with socks). I love it.

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But more than getting to explore one of the coolest cities I’ve seen, the best part about our vacation was being with our family. Because of our travels overseas and because we live a continent apart, visits with Cathy, Annie and Pat are few and far between. We soaked in every day with them. These new memories are priceless. We love you guys and miss you already!

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fun with annie.

Annie took lots of great photos with her camera this week, and shared them with me. She’s been so wonderful with Judah and Amie, who think she is the coolest person ever. They’ve read books, had adventures, watched movies, painted fingernails, done crafts, and played soccer. She and Amie even had afternoon tea at the American Girl doll store today and picked out a puppy for Amie’s Samantha doll. Thanks Annie for loving our kiddos!

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delancey.

In 2007, the year Judah was born, I was sitting in our little book-lined office in our condo in Lititz, PA, surfing the internet, clicking away on our giant Dell desktop computer, and I stumbled upon a blog called Orangette. I’d never read a food blog before, but I knew immediately this blog was special. I loved the quiet, crisp photos. I loved the descriptions of food. I was instantly compelled to jump up and try one of the recipes: stove top black beans with onion and cumin.

That began my love affair with food blogs and also sparked a desire to learn how to cook simple, tasty food from scratch, and I’ve followed Molly Wizenberg on Orangette from time to time through the years since. When her first memoir, A Homemade Life, came out, I devoured it.

This year her second book came out: Delancey, named for the pizza restaurant she and her husband opened in Seattle. I mentioned it to Pat over email when we were planning our trip and she said, “Delancey is in my neighborhood!” Sure enough, the little restaurant and it’s next door bar, Essex, also owned by Molly and Brandon, are just a few blocks from Pat, Cathy, and Annie’s street in Ballard.

David and I both read Delancey before we came, and we loved the book, not least because — believe it or not — there are some similarities between starting a restaurant and starting a church. I laughed my way through the memoir because in many ways, Molly and Brandon’s marriage feels like David’s and mine: both the fun and the exasperating parts. And so it was that on Thursday night the seven of us walked to Delancey for pizza.

This week I asked Pat if she had to choose one ethnicity of food to eat for the rest of her life, what her choice would be. And she said it’s an impossible decision because so much of the food we’ve tasted is the memories surrounding the meal — where we were, who we were with, what season of life we were in. You can’t pull the flavor of the food out of its experience.

I thought of that all week, thought how right she is. Our meal at Delancey was magical, not just because I love pizza. It was everything. It was discovering Orangette seven years ago as a brand-new mom who could barely cook a real meal. It was reading Molly Wizenberg’s memoirs and coming to think of her as one of my favorite writers.

It was getting on a plane and flying thousands of miles across the country to Seattle, which I’ve dreamed of for so long. It was staying with Cathy and Annie in their actual house — which we’ve only ever seen pictures of. It was all of us strolling together down the sidewalk right in their neighborhood and standing in front of a restaurant I’ve read about and seen photos of.

It was the heirloom tomato and basil salad and the ice-cold glass of Washington hard cider and the 12-inch pizza pies, simple with the thinnest, crispiest crusts, with all-local toppings (the grilled zucchini and anchovy was my favorite). It was sitting in the little dining room, surrounded by laughter and smiles and friendly staff, remembering stories of plaster-scraping and pizza-oven assembling, and cement-floor staining that went awry. It was seeing Brandon Pettit walk out from the kitchen to laugh with friends sitting two tables over and feeling so proud for him, for what he’s done here in Ballard. I wish him and his family all the best.

Our dinner at Delancey is truly one we’ll never forget.

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breakfast date at pike place.

Yesterday morning David and I caught the bus to the center of downtown for breakfast at Pike Place, the sprawling fish/farmer’s market right on the water. It was still a little drizzly, but crowds gather early even on a weekday, an endless push of people from all over the world snapping iPhone photos of the fish tossing and the original Starbucks coffee shop.

David and I poked around the stalls, admired the rows and rows of fresh fruit and flowers, and ate way too much food. Sourdough cinnamon rolls, smoked salmon eggs benedict at Lowell’s Restaurant (we highly recommend), a chocolate macaron, and cups of fresh honey-sweetened greek yogurt. Later on we walked down the steps to the bay to meet Cathy, Pat and the kids at the Seattle Aquarium.

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