Vietnam Part 2: Sights of Hanoi

IMG_4465^The Temple of Literature, a Confucius temple built in 1070. Small admission fee ($1 per person).^

Ben and I spent three days in Hanoi on our trip to Vietnam, the city book-ending days spent in the countryside. Our explorations mostly kept us in the old quarter and the French quarter of Hanoi. One of our favorite things to do was sit around in cafes drinking iced coffee (or Vietnamese egg coffee) and watch people and traffic fly by. We alternated visiting some of the city’s landmarks with time at coffee shops, and one afternoon we got 30-minute foot massages for $7 each, and I fainted in the salon and caused quite a stir. (After water and some rest I was fine. The heat got me!)

IMG_4300^Temple at Hoan Kiem Lake (photo above and below)^


IMG_4376^”egg coffee”…a must-try in my book^


IMG_4422^Hoan Kiem Lake park at night^

IMG_5258^Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. We were not able to go inside during our visit because the body is in Russia for “maintenance,” but the plaza was interesting and worth a visit.

IMG_4505^Hoa Lo Prison, also known as the “Hanoi Hilton”, where the French imprisoned Vietnamese and the Vietnamese imprisoned American POWs like John McCain. McCain’s flight suit from when he was captured is on display here. $0.50 cent admission fee.

IMG_4509^One of many delicious meals. We arranged an evening street food tour through one of our hotels in Hanoi so we got to try a lot of food on the tour, and we used trip advisor to find other good restaurants. The spring rolls were my favorite dish, and we had them with almost every meal.^

Ben and I chose to walk everywhere, so we didn’t see as much as we could’ve with a taxi or tuk-tuk, but I like to think we got a good sense of the city on foot. I read a book awhile ago called Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit, and as I think back on our time walking around Hanoi, this quote from that book comes to mind:

“When you give yourself to places, they give you yourself back; the more one comes to know them, the more one seeds them with the invisible crop of memories and associations that will be waiting for you when you come back, while new places offer up new thoughts, new possibilities. Exploring the world is one of the best ways of exploring the mind, and walking travels both terrains.”

I don’t know if I will ever have the opportunity to visit Hanoi again. As much as I would love to go back, the world is so big, and on a trip like this I can’t help but know that it may be my first and last time to experience a place. There is no reason to dwell on a thought like “I’ll never see this again!” but keeping that reality in the back of my mind helps me fully invest each step.

See the first post from Vietnam here. More photos from our trip to come… :)


Vietnam Part 1: Scenes of Hanoi


Ben and I just got back from a trip to Vietnam (with a short stop in Seoul on the way home.) There’s something overwhelming to me about going through my photos and attempting to share my memories after I get home from a big trip, but at the same time I really love looking back through all the pictures and writing down my experiences while the feelings are still fresh.

It’s hard to know where to begin telling the story of our trip, so I’ll start with a quote from Graham Greene’s novel set in Vietnam, The Quiet American: “I can’t say what made me fall in love with Vietnam . . . that everything is so intense. The colors, the taste, even the rain. . . . They say whatever you’re looking for, you will find here. They say you come to Vietnam and you understand a lot in a few minutes, but the rest has got to be lived.”

To say this quote reflects my feelings after just a week in the country would be a profound exaggeration, but I can certainly relate to it–most especially the intensity. We started our trip in Hanoi, and it’s a whirlwind of people, colors, shops crammed with merchandise, sidewalk cafes with tiny stools, and traffic–cars, motos, bikes, buses, and the constant noise of horns.





We both tried our hand at making rice wrappers for spring rolls…




Sweet soup making (above) and eating (below). I really liked this! We tried SO much good food.



IMG_4443The weekend night market (above) and a blessing for a car (below).


Our week was full of excitement, exhaustion, and meaningful encounters with strangers; a beautiful combination of the wonderful, the familiar, the new, and the uncomfortable. I definitely learned some things about myself last week, and maybe I grew a tiny bit in my understanding of the world around me too.

More thoughts and photos to come…


Olympic Discovery Trail



At the end of August, Ben and I went to Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula with some friends to bike a section of the Olympic Discovery Trail. We soaked up as much of the wide open land and sea air along this “Pathway to the Pacific” trail as we could, riding from Sequim Bay to the Strait of Juan de Fuca in Port Angeles, WA.




When I’m in a car scenery rushes by, but on a bike I’m part of a place–breathing it in; adding to its chaos or interrupting its serenity. The simple act of pedal. pedal. pedal. pushes away the clutter of everyday life. I’m on a steady path, living in the present and looking only at what is directly ahead…

…well actually, I did fall off my bike and skinned both knees one of the {many} times I pulled over to take a photo so I suppose I’m not always so steady and focused :) 




IMG_4211^Snapping photos on the ferry.^

What a beautiful way to wrap up the summer! 


Grove of the Patriarchs


IMG_8687Some of my family came to town at the beginning of August. We spent a lot of time exploring Seattle, and also took a day to go to Mt. Rainier National Park.

After spending the morning hiking around Paradise, we visited the Grove of the Patriarchs near the Ohanapecosh Visitor’s Center. It’s about an hour to drive to get there from the Paradise Visitor’s Center, but the drive is beautiful, so it is well worth the time to explore the park more.

The trees in the Grove of the Patriarchs are 1,000 years old and the biggest I’ve ever seen. It’s impossible to capture their size on camera, but of course I tried :)

IMG_8662^See my dad there? He’s over 6 ft. tall and looks tiny compared to the trees.




Awhile ago Ben and I started putting together an itinerary for a Pacific Northwest roadtrip that includes the Redwoods, and visiting the Grove of the Patriarchs made me excited for whenever we get around to that trip. There is something magical about being in the presence of ancient trees like these.


Mount Ellinor Hike


It’s 63 degrees and pouring rain in Seattle on this mid-August day, and it made me think of a hike Ben and I took to Mt. Ellinor on the Olympic Peninsula last month, when we were greeted with fog and chill rather than sweeping views and mountain goats. If you are like me, losing the view on a hike can be a disappointment, but the FOG is what my dreams are made of.







This hike was a rocky uphill climb. We took our dog Kai, and he did great but it was slow going at times as all of us navigated the rocks. The trail was fairly crowded even on a less-than-ideal weather day, so I’m glad we got an early start.

I am working on a piece of felt based on the scenery from this hike that I’m pretty excited about. It’s the biggest wall-hanging I’ve made yet. I love taking a day away to explore the Pacific Northwest and soak up inspiration for new artwork!

If you’d like more scoop about this hike, check out the details on the Washington Trails Association website. We started at the lower trailhead, and didn’t see a single mountain goat, which I gather is unusual.


A Quick Weekend in Rose City


As I’ve mentioned before here on the blog, Ben and I always love exploring Portland. We spent a rainy Friday night and Saturday there this past weekend, and brought our dog Kai along for the fun. Our list of things-to-do in Portland keeps getting longer and so we keep going back!

We started our Saturday with coffee at Coava Coffee Roasters, where we sat outside with Kai. Then we had brunch in the rain on the porch at Interurban. We got there just before they opened at 10 AM, got a table right away, and had the porch to ourselves (thanks to Kai!)–we had just enough shelter to keep us dry while we ate and the food was great.



After brunch we browsed a couple of shops along N. Mississippi like Animal Traffic, Annex Footwear, Salty’s Pet Store, and Worn Path.

Then we visited Renegade PDX in the rain.

Next we got lunch at the Alberta 15 food cart pod, I popped in for a quick browse of Modern Domestic, and we got another dose of caffeine to fuel our drive home at dog-friendly Case Study Coffee Roasters.


IMG_3732^I had to pull out my camera for the perfect “raindrops on roses” shot.^

See you again soon, Portland.


Whale-Watching in the San Juans



On Saturday (June 27) Ben and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary. We spent the day whale watching in the San Juan Islands on the Victoria Clipper whale watching boat. It was a breathtaking day to be on the water–and we saw lots of orca whales.






My favorite thing about the trip was the way the whales shimmered in the sun, gliding in and out of the water. They are so graceful and majestic.




Fiber Art at Fresh Flours

Hey friends, if you’re in Seattle, I hope you’ll stop by Fresh Flours bakery in Ballard soon (5313 Ballard Ave. NW) I encourage you to go for a sweet treat and because my art work is hanging up for the months of June + July. Double good, right?






I love how the artwork looks in this space, especially on the brick wall. (Don’t we all love a good brick wall.

If you’re not in Seattle, I hope you enjoy the photos! :)


Fiber Art Show at Sassafras Boutique



Hey friends. I’m so excited to have a collection of original fiber art on display at Sassafras boutique (2307 1st Ave.) in Belltown! It will be up during the Belltown Art Walk this Friday night, June 12, from 6-9pm, or you can stop by the shop Monday-Saturday 11am-7pm and Sunday 10am-6pm.

Sassafras stocks a well-curated selection of locally designed clothing and accessories. I loved this shop the moment I first walked in a few years ago and am so honored to have my work on display there.