The Christmas With My DC Family

Dropped down in DC for Christmas! Whoop whoop!

I’m so glad I found a last minute ticket to see my favorite non-Japanese family! The girls had grown so much. K talks more than ever, and you know how entertaining that is. I actually have a list of funny quotes. Little J is just starting to walk around and she loves to make funny faces. They sure know how to make Auntie Kaori laugh and laugh and laugh 😉

Waking up on Christmas morning and opening presents. Boy, I hadn’t done this in YEARS. Much more exciting than my usual morning commute to work, which I would have been doing in Japan, that’s for sure. We had tons of fun oohing and ahhing over all the presents. I even found myself a present under the Christmas tree (it’s already hanging on my wall)!

Then we had yummy pancakes and stayed in PJs all day. Best. Christmas. Ever.

Here are some jolly photos:

The Christmas tree was so pretty, I couldn’t stop taking pictures!
Uh oh, santa forgot his reindeer!
Twas a fun morning full of shouts of joy and ripped wrapping paper! 
Oh wait, here’s another lost reindeer!
Full of sweet moments like this.
And giggling fun moments like this.
Someone is super excited about her new book!
First reindeers and now a Christmas angel is here!
K made me a beautiful painting of the ocean and trees!
Crazy fun Christmas day with this familia! How crazy was your holiday? x

The Surprise Birthday Party

I love parties.
Especially when it’s not all on you and you have a great organizer like my friend E. There’s really nothing worse than hosting a party by yourself and your ideas become too elaborate and you’re short on time and you end up crying from fatigue when the time finally comes (this was my thanksgiving dinner last year…haha!).
So when E mentioned that they were throwing her sister-in-law a surprise birthday party during my stay in DC, I was excited. E always has the best party ideas and is a magician in the kitchen. Her husband Y is an artist and can make pretty much anything into a masterpiece. I get to take pictures and also help out here and there, all while humming a little tune. It’s really great.
While her brother took the birthday girl out for coffee, we snuck into their house and started decorating and preparing food. Did I mention that E made a chocolate cake with chocolate cheese cream frosting? YUM! Their friends started coming over and we put them to work, too. We all gathered in the living room when we got the text message saying they were coming back and kept quiet enough to surprise the birthday girl with a big “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!”  
It was a really fun party and because I was the unofficial photographer, I will warn you in advance…there are a lot of pictures.
Here they are: 

We decorated the table with fall items like mums, pumpkins, and acorns.

Presents for the birthday girl 😀

Fall apples are so delicious.
Aren’t the mums pretty?
I thought the table looked really pretty with all the flowers and food.
The fabulous birthday cake! (The banner and number of candles may confuse you…haha)
E and Y doing their thing in the kitchen. They are a great team 😀

The surprised birthday girl! 😀

The kids mingling.

I ate every last bite of this cake…it was so so good! 😀
K was trying to get cousin Walter (aka the cat) to come join the party.
We ate and chat and even played this game.

Group picture before we left so the kids could go wild without us older people ;D

I think she liked her birthday party…love these two. x

The Afternoon at Sweetgreen

Have you ever heard of sweetgreen?
I’ve had a big vegetarian crush on this store ever since I read about it on this blog. It’s an amazing store that mainly serves delicious and healthy salads, pressed juice, and frozen yogurt. The organic produce are from local farmers, which I think is a great concept. Naturally I looked up where their stores were but found they were mostly located in the DC metro area.
So imagine how excited I was to hear that my friend E started working for them! Woohoo!
During my stay in DC, I begged E to take me to her store and I got to try their seasonal October Salad! It was a bowl full of organic mesclun & shredded kale with local apples, pears, organic basil, organic white cheddar and candied pecans, and topped off with balsamic vinaigrette. Doesn’t that sound fabulous? Oh, and I got roasted tofu, too. It was so so good and surprisingly very fulfilling! 
I feel like we need more places to eat like this in Tokyo. I’m am now hooked on their salads and I’m crossing my fingers that this store makes it’s way to this side of the world sometime soon. *hint hint*
Here are some pictures:
Checking out the store with this sweet girl.

Did I mention the bread? It was also amazing…yum yum!
You can get one of the salads on their menu, or you can make your own salad, too!

K and I shared a cup of frozen yogurt 😀
Doesn’t the salad look delicious? I could eat it every day. x

I loved their shelf full of salad greens.
This is actually a different sweetgreen and not my friend’s store…but you get the idea! 😀

The Trip to Washington DC

There is nothing like this view above the clouds to get me excited for a trip ahead!
Especially when the trip starts in Washington DC. My five days there with my grade school bff’s family were filled with lots of laughs, good food, and seeing old friends. And when my favorite two year old welcomes me with an excited high-pitched “Auntie Kaoriiiiiiiiiiiiiii” at the door, it really doesn’t get any better than that.
I can’t believe how fast this little girl is growing. The last time I saw her, we had her first birthday party and she wasn’t talking yet. Just a word here or there. But now she’s chattering away and it completely blew me away! Every time we would get in the car, she would remind me, “Auntie Kaori, seat belt!” Yes, ma’am! Oh, and her prayers before her bedtime? So stinkin’ precious, I melt every time.
Every time I come to DC it feels more like home because of this family. I love getting to visit and spend time with them. And you know I’m already looking forward to the next time! xx
Here are some pictures:
Graffiti art on a wall in Bethesda

Our Mexican dinner was delicious and we were all stuffed by the end of our meal.

K loves the horses…even after one almost bit her. She said, “horse eat my hand!”

K making a handmade birthday present for her her tia (aunt in spanish).

We threw a surprise birthday party for E’s sister-in-law (blog post to follow!).

Our mutual grade school friend, who lives in the DC area, came over for brunch! 😀

Had fun at the local park on a sunny morning. This girl is fearless.
Spent the afternoon chatting with an old friend (who both E and I babysat! crazy!).
It was fall in DC and some of the leaves were such pretty colors.

Loved seeing this girl and her fabulous family! xx

Had such a great time in DC…now heading to Chicago from this lovely airport. x

The Good Bye in DC

DC is such a pretty city.
I love the old town houses.
Or any building built by brick, really.
It’s not the type of houses we build in Japan
and that makes them all the more special.
What is also special is that
I got to spend time with this cutie pie!
I feel so blessed to have such great friends
who live so far away but still treat me like family.
Technically we did grow up together.
But in a world where people tend to grow apart,
I love that we were given a chance to grow closer as adults.
Who knew?
Fifth grade best friends really ARE forever!
I just love this sweet familia dearly.
Cannot wait to see them again!

The Birthday Party

Birthday parties are so awesome.
Even if the birthday girl is turning one
and will not remember how we stayed up past midnight
to get everything ready for the party.
And I’m guessing that’s why she has Auntie Kaori. Ha.
To remind her when she grows up
how her mom made all these amazing things
and her dad artistically decorated the whole apartment.
Just in case you didn’t notice
the theme of the party is Rainbow!
And isn’t this cake AMAZING???

It was a full house with many friends.
I thought it was hilarious how so many
single guys were there to celebrate Peanut’s birthday.
But then again, she is that cute.

I think she had a blast.
(Look at her opening her presents!)
Took a group picture after half of the people had left
but I really like this picture for some reason.
Happy first birthday Peanut!!! xx

The Flight to DC

I don’t know why but airplanes are the only ride
that I don’t get motion sickness on.
So I love to fly.
I even love the airport security check.
I’m guessing this is pretty rare.
But whatever.
Made it onto my flight to DC
and spent a lot of time gazing out the window.
Not so great, radiation-wise.
But who can blame me?

So yeah.
Spent 13 hours
gazing out the window in awe
or sleeping or eating or watching Avengers.
(best. movie. ever.)
And finally got to meet Peanut.
Isn’t she the sweetest?
I was instantly in love.
Cannot believe how I was a bridesmaid just 2 years ago
and now they have a sweet baby turning 1 already!

That Wedding in DC

The reason I was in DC was because…
my best friend from grade school got married!!!
I was in the bridal party as one of her bridesmaids
which was amazing because we don’t do bridesmaids in Japan.

It was so much fun.
So great to see her get married to her love.

It was also literally a huge reunion
with friends and family who flew in for the wedding.
But I guess weddings are like that.
I can’t say it enough, it was a beautiful wedding!
More than anything though
I loved seeing how happy the bride and groom were.
Their love was radiant.

Can you believe we’ve been friends for over 20 years?
I love that even though we’ve all changed
our friendship has stayed the same.
And now our family has grown
to include husbands, too!
Wishing the bride and groom all the happiness in the world! xx

That Trip to DC

Landed in DC.
Yes, the capital of the United States.
It’s not really a popular destination among Japanese people.
Which was great because my flight wasn’t as crowded.
I’d been here once before when I was younger.
My family took a road trip from Michigan in the winter.
But I didn’t really remember much about it
so I was excited to be here.

DC is filled with old brick buildings and it was beautiful.
Also can we talk about the Smithsonian? Free museums are amazing!

My grade school friends were also in town
and we decided to go out to eat.
There are so many different types of cuisine to choose from here!
A taxi driver recommended an Ethiopian restauraunt
so we went there and it was delicious!
I had no idea what we were eating
but I loved it.
And weirdly, we were all vegetarian.
(I was thinking in my head…so American! haha)
We were so far from Michigan, and yet
we managed round up a handful of our grade school friends
for a night out in DC.
We had the best time!

Next…onto the real reason we were in DC 😀