Pike Place Market

August 15th, 2014

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Ben’s brother was in town last week, and of course we put Pike Place Market on our list of places to take him. I still love going to the market. It’s always full of color and flavor and I can never resist pulling out my camera. I just have to pack some patience for weaving through the summer crowds.

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Besides having fun watching the fish throwers, checking out the gum wall, and looking at all the in-season options for flowers and vegetables with Ben’s brother, we discovered a new restaurant—the Market Grill—that I’d definitely recommend. Super yummy! The Stranger says, “Eating a salmon sandwich in the Pike Place Market sounds like a descent into tourist hell. It’s telling, then, that the Market Grill–an unassuming little eatery just a few flower stands north of the market’s brass pig–has a loyal following of locals who keep returning for its excellent salmon and halibut sandwiches.” (Stranger review found here.)

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Not pictured: us and the dog. We had Kai along for his first visit to the market. Oh.My. He was good but it took extra patience to have a puppy along on a weekend afternoon at Pike Place. Over stimulation for all involved (but I’d do it again).

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Chichicastenango Market

August 9th, 2014

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In July I traveled with 17 people from First United Methodist Church of Seattle (where I work) to work with Project Salud y Paz, a medical and dental mission in Guatemala.

It always takes awhile after returning from a trip to sort through your experience—and alllll the photos you snapped along the way (if you’re a “shutterbug” like me). As I contemplate my time in Guatemala, converse with others that joined me on the trip, and look through photos and videos that I took and my teammates have shared, I’ve slowly been working on sharing a few of my own photos and memories from Guatemala here on the blog.

We spent a week in the city of Chichicastenango, traveling from there each morning to Project Salud y Paz in Camanchaj. Chichi is a vibrant and colorful Mayan town in the mountains. The famous Chichi market is one of the biggest markets in Guatemala and was my favorite part of our touring.

Sunday and Thursday are the market days, and we first visited on Sunday, which was very busy and brimming with tourists. Since we were in the city all week we got to see quieter non-market days in Chichi, which I loved. We also got to see the set-up for the Thursday market on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning—that was a lot of fun to watch.

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The group that I explored the market with on Sunday wandered into some less-touristy areas where locals buy shoes, electronics, food, and everything else you can imagine. To me that was the most interesting part.

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Guide to Uptown

August 7th, 2014

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Ben’s brother is visiting us from Atlanta this week. It’s his first time in Seattle, and in preparation for his trip we’ve spent some time thinking over what Seattle spots to introduce him to. I’d hate for all the lists and itineraries of “Seattle favorites” we’ve made for ourselves and visitors over the past year and a half to go to waste, so I want to share some of that here on the blog — for my own reference as much as anything! :)

Ben and I spent our first year in Seattle living in an apartment in the Lower Queen Anne (aka Uptown) neighborhood of Seattle. Home of the Space Needle and Seattle Center, Uptown/LQA has plenty of fun tourist attractions that pretty much guarantee you’ll find yourself in this neighborhood while visiting the city. Here are a few suggestions of where to go when you’re ready for an afternoon coffee break or a meal in between sightseeing activities.

Coffee

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Caffe Ladro (600 Queen Anne Ave N)

Caffe Zingaro (127 Mercer St.): I like their monthly specials.

Uptown Espresso (525 Queen Anne Ave N): “Home of the Velvet Foam”…it’s supposed to be the best in Seattle. They have several locations throughout the city.

Citizen (706 Taylor Ave N): Great coffee shop vibe and has a good food menu for breakfast, lunch, or happy hour.

Food

Toulouse Petit (601 Queen Anne Ave N): I’m going to go ahead and say this is one of my favorite restaurants in Seattle, and if you need a memorable date make a reservation here. It doesn’t have the classic tourist feel, but is definitely a gem. They have “One of the Ten Best Happy Hours in the Nation”–I can personally vouch for happy hour breakfast and late night happy hour. Cajun cuisine.

Pesos (605 Queen Anne Ave N): Right next door to Toulouse Petit, run by the same people, and also delicious.

Taylor Shellfish Oyster Bar (124 Republican St): A new spot that opened up underneath the apartment building where we used to live after we moved out, which is probably good so we don’t spend too much money on oysters! We went back to eat here before seeing a play at the Seattle Repertory Theater (which I also recommend if you have time for a play) and I tried my first oyster here. I was thankful that it turns out I like oysters because we have so much access to great seafood in Seattle. Eating a meal here is a fairly expensive treat, so if you want to taste local oysters and not spend tons of money visit during happy hour from 4-6 pm M-F. If you have lots of time during your trip, visit the Taylor Shellfish Farm Store along the beautiful Chuckanut Drive and you can have an oyster feast right by the water.

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Dick’s Drive-In (500 Queen Anne Ave N): Got kids? Want local fast food? Need a cheap, quick meal, or craving a milkshake? This is your place. Open 24 hours. If you are looking for the Macklemore & Ryan Lewis music video location, go to Capitol Hill.

Tin Lizzie Lounge (600 Queen Anne Ave N): A cozy and swanky spot for a break from the rain.

Athina Grill (528 Queen Anne Ave. N): For a good, quick Greek meal

The Seattle Center Armory: Food court with lots of options. I like Skillet Counter and Pie the best.

Other

SIFF Cinema (511 Queen Anne Ave N and Seattle Center): A really great local movie theater that shows a lot of indie films and documentaries. 2 theaters located in Uptown and Seattle Center.

Metropolitan Market (100 Mercer St.): This local grocery store has several locations; if you’re in the neighborhood and you need to grab some Seattle-related gifts to take home, their “Northwest Gifts” section is a great spot.

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This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I hope it will give you a few ideas of places to eat a meal or get some coffee. I’ve left boutiques and most other shopping off this list; when I’m exploring a new city with limited time I generally pick the food spots and tourist attractions first and then add shops if there’s time. (Though don’t get me wrong, I love a good local boutique.) Since the tourist attractions in Uptown/Seattle Center are obvious–Space Needle, Chihuly Museum, etc.–I’ve limited this guide to (mostly) food and coffee.

FYI—the Belltown neighborhood is nestled in between Uptown and Downtown, so anything on my guide to Belltown would be a good place to stop if you decide to walk from the Space Needle/Seattle Center to Pike Place Market. This walk is doable and especially nice on a sunny day. (In my experience these were the kind of tips I find especially helpful when trying to maximize time in a city—so there you go!)

Are you a Seattleite? Share your favorite LQA spots in the comments!

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Snapshots from July

July 31st, 2014

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Has July really come to an end?

I like to think the Seattle summer landscape is like a collective gathering of our feelings in the wintertime: all the rainy day “blues” we feel get bottled up and released in a massive burst of energy.

So many feelings, so many shades of blue, reflecting in the sky and the water, glistening in the sun.

photo^Sunset bike ride along Alki Beach^

IMG_6619^Paddle-boarding on Lake Union with friends. I’m putting this very high up on the “when people come to visit” list.^

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IMG_6162^Jack Block Park, a sleepy little park with stellar views. You would never know this existed from reading the sign on the road.^

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IMG_6120^Just in case you forgot  how cute our little puppy is, and bonus that he’s been VERY well behaved this month!^

We live in such a beautiful city, and the summertime is the chance for everyone to get out and enjoy it. I spent my free time this month on bike rides, long walks with the puppy, trips to the park, and hikes.

I hope to repeat more of the same in August, which promises just as much warmth and sunshine.

Three cheers for summer in Seattle!

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Hiking at Mount Rainier

July 30th, 2014

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On Saturday Ben and I went hiking at Mount Rainier with some friends. The scenery was like a postcard: wildflowers in bloom, the snow melting but ever present; the sky a clear, intense blue.

I learned a lot from my hiking buddies about the wildflowers, and the Paradise Visitor’s Center has a nice flyer to help identify them. I think it gave me a little taste of what John Muir meant when he referred to Mount Rainier’s meadows as “the most luxurious and the most extravagantly beautiful of all the alpine gardens [he] ever beheld in all [his] mountain-top ramblings.”

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IMG_6648^This color of paintbrush wildflower only grows at Mount Rainier^

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IMG_6680^Our group looking ahead to Camp Muir, which Ben and I really hope to hike to sometime soon! Camp Muir is the “base camp” for summitting Mount Rainier.^

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You know it’s a good weather day in Seattle when “the mountain is out,” meaning Mount Rainier is visible in the skyline. The fact that you can only see the mountain from the city a handful of days in the year adds to the enchantment of being at the base of this hide-and-seek giant landmark; when you can see the mountain from Seattle it’s large and looming in the sky, dominating the skyline.

The beauty of the mountain and the surrounding scenery kind of wraps itself around your heart—it’s impossible to visit and not be in awe.

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P.S. Last time we had a chance to drive up to Mount Rainier it looked like this. We were at the same spot as the photos in this summertime post, if you can believe the change in the weather :)

Chichicastenango, Guatemala

July 27th, 2014

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Last week I traveled with 17 people from First United Methodist Church of Seattle (where I work) to work with Project Salud y Paz, a medical and dental mission in Guatemala. Guatemala is a beautiful country and I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to visit. I’m sharing a few photos and memories from the week here on the blog.

After stopping to tour in Antigua we headed to the city of Chichicastenango. This mountain town is vibrant and colorful and I especially loved experiencing the elements of Mayan culture that were present in the city and the famous Chichi market, one of the biggest markets in Guatemala. We had the experience of staying in Chichi all week so I got to know the city fairly well; I’d go back in a heartbeat!

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The Church of Santo Tomas/Church of the Living and El Calvario Church/Church of the Dead (pictured above) are fascinating fusions of Catholic and Mayan religions. They are across from each other—The Church of the Living is on the east side of the street where the sun rises, and the Church of the Dead is on the west side of the street where the sun sets.

To me, these two churches of Chichi were more beautiful than the churches in Antigua. Something about these dark candlelit churches appealed to me more than all the shining gold. Simple wooden platforms sat in the center aisles covered in remnants of melted candle wax and flickering candles, and graced with scattered flower petals. The ancient artwork was covered over with years of smoke, barely visible, in need of restoration. The steps leading up to both churches were old and worn. The white-washed exteriors contrasted with the dark wooden panels and benches inside. Depth in simplicity; beauty in disrepair; full of mystery and meaning.

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I bought some fabric from a shop in Chichi on a non-market day, and I’ve already used some of my fabric to make curtains for our new house. I’ll have more snapshots from the market to share later!

See all the posts about Guatemala here.

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Antigua, Guatemala

July 23rd, 2014

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Last week I traveled with 17 people from First United Methodist Church of Seattle (where I work) to work with Project Salud y Paz, a medical and dental mission in Guatemala. Guatemala is a beautiful country and I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to visit. We had an amazing trip, and I’ll be sharing a few photos and memories from the week here on the blog.

Our first stop after flying into Guatemala City was the city of Antigua. Antigua is full of beautiful historic architecture, gorgeous churches, cobblestone streets, and a diverse mix of tourists and students. Our team of 17 split up and we explored the city in smaller groups; it was so fun at the end of the day to hear what each person saw and the variety of experiences everyone enjoyed.

My new(ish) friends and I tackled as much of the city as we could in a day, cameras in hand!

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset^Santa Catalina Arch^

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IMG_6903^Cross above, and view of the city and volcano from the Cerro de la Cruz, the “Hill of the Cross”^

IMG_6946^San Jose Cathedral^

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IMG_6224^Church of San Francisco, which was my favorite church we visited in Antigua. The inside is gorgeous, though I can’t share because no photos are allowed inside.^

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I found all the tourist attractions we visited in Antigua very walkable except the Cerro de la Cruz, which our bus driver took us to. We easily found good food, great coffee, ice cream, and pastries.

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One of my favorite moments of our time in Antigua was gathering in Parque Central in the middle of the city one morning. I wasn’t sure at first about getting up extra early to join the group in the park the morning we were to leave Antigua and take the bus to the next destination but I’m very glad I did! I sat on a park bench with a sweet roll from a nearby bakery and a hot cup of coffee, not quite awake but happy to greet the day in such a peaceful way. (Pictured above; photo courtesy of team member Joyce.)

I hope for the opportunity to visit Antigua again someday. I’d even love to spent a little time there at Spanish language school, which is one of the things the city is famous for. The bittersweet part of travel is that you really don’t know if you will return. As much as you might believe your feet will walk on that ground—those cobblestones—again, it may not happen. It’s not always the easiest balance to have not only enough plans and expectations to make your time—that magical first visit to a new, far-away place—meaningful, but also the flexibility and spontaneity that travel sometimes requires.

To travel is to savor each moment like the glorious first it is and the last it might be.

And so I’ll say…adiós for now, Antigua!

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Bridal Veil Falls/Lake Serene

July 9th, 2014

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Ben and I hiked to Bridal Veil Falls and Lake Serene last Saturday. It was a gorgeous 8ish-mile roundtrip hike that we specifically picked because dogs are allowed, and bonus that it turned out to be gorgeous. You can’t really go wrong with a waterfall and an alpine lake, can you?

Kai had a great time and kept right up with us! He was actually kind of our pacesetter. I would guestimate that 75% of people on the trail stopped us to ask about Kai or pet him and he’s great with everyone, including other dogs. My favorite is when cute little kids ask to pet our puppy. He gets petted and poked and loved and is super gentle with everyone. We end up talking to way more people on the trail (and life in general) because of little Kai. He’s a conversation-starter for sure.

We also have a lot of people volunteer to take a picture of “the three of you” which I think is kind of adorable. Our little family :)

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IMG_6729^Kai testing out the Lake Serene water—my favorite of him from the hike. He has so much personality.^

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Happy trails! YellowElmsignature

San Francisco: Part 3

July 8th, 2014

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“San Francisco has only one drawback—’tis hard to leave.” —Rudyard Kipling

Ben and I celebrated five years of marriage with a weekend getaway to San Francisco at the end of June. It was extremely hard to leave after such a short trip, and there is so much more to see that we could not fit into our two and a half days in the city! I hope we have a chance to visit again soon and stay a little longer.

Here are a few more pictures from the trip…(see all of the pictures here, along with some of the online resources we used to plan our trip).

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We walked to Lombard Street from Chinatown with a stop at City Lights Books (pictured below) and Caffe Trieste in between. On Lombard the “Crookedest Street in the World” section is the block between Hyde and Leavenworth. I’d totally recommend walking up it rather than trying to drive. The crooked uphill part is only a block and not hard to walk.

IMG_6059^View from the top of the crooked part of Lombard St.^

IMG_6464^City Lights Books^

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IMG_6501^The Ferry Building, full of great restaurants^

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset^Our treat when we visited the Ferry Building, Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream. Yes please.^

sf1^Hanging out with Ben’s cousin Jessica and her husband Igor.^

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^Flying away at the golden hour. My face was glued to the airplane window, watching the city fade. I love how you can see both bridges in this picture, and there were a million tiny details of the city that I could see that didn’t make it in the photo. Flying off in this golden glow was a beautiful ending to the trip even though we ended up stuck at the airport for over 5 hours waiting to get on this sunset plane ride.

Ben and I didn’t fit in everything we wanted to see on this trip but I’m so glad we had the opportunity to go. There is just something magical about finally making it to San Francisco. It’s one of those places, at least to me. As a child on the East Coast I went to New York City a lot (my dad’s family all lived there) and as magical as New York always will be it never seemed mysterious or far away like San Francisco.

Thanks for treating me well, California. *until next time*

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San Francisco: Part 2

July 7th, 2014

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“San Francisco is a golden handcuff with the key thrown away.” —John Steinbeck

Today I have a few more photos to share from our anniversary weekend getaway to San Francisco. As I mentioned in the first post, Ben and I packed as much as we could into a very short trip and did a mix of touristy activities as well as visiting some great local spots.

We spent some time exploring Chinatown, loosely following this walking tour of Chinatown from National Geographic. After the pork buns pictured below, my favorite stop in Chinatown was the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Company. It was also worth it from a cultural and historical perspective to climb up to the oldest Chinese temple in the United States, the Tin How Temple mentioned in the walking tour link.

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IMG_6033^The yummiest pork buns at Good Mong Kok Bakery. Can I have another right now??^

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The weather during our trip was absolutely beautiful—warm and sunny and breezy. Apparently that’s quite unusual for June in San Francisco so I’m extra thankful we missed the gloom.

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IMG_6527^Trouble Coffee, the recommendation of This American Life episode 520 and a local friend^

IMG_6531^We walked to this beautiful beach from Trouble Coffee. I don’t know if the water was warm or not, but I loved our quick walk along this warm, sandy California beach.^

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Another resource that I used to plan our trip was the Sunset Magazine Pinterest board on San Francisco. The map feature on Pinterest was really helpful in this situation. I mostly used that to pinpoint restaurants that Sunset recommended that were near where we already planned to be.

I was clickin’ away with my camera the whole weekend like a shameless tourist, so one more post with more photos is coming! :)

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