Explore

a day in San Francisco

Saturday was the most perfect 80 degree, sunny day so we took advantage by exploring the city. We’ve lived in the Bay area for over a year now, but there’s still plenty of SF bucket list items to cross off my list. Here’s what we did in one beautiful day:

1. Grabbed a delicious Filipino fusion lunch from Senor Sisig… (because everything is better in a burrito)


2. …And ate it among the crowds in Union Square (after a pit stop to browse the lovely Cuyana store)


3. Picked up a couple of cherry doughnuts from Mr. Holmes Bakehouse (obligatory)


4. Admired the colorful walls of Clarion Alley (after another pit stop at the Everlane store…this itinerary was very obviously planned by me)


5. Got a cold brew from Craftsman and Wolves (because…coffee)

6. And a green smoothie from Project Juice (am I a real Californian yet?)

7. People watched at Dolores Park (the best.)

8. Channeled our inner children at the Seward Street Slides (deceptively fast. Video is on my Instagram)

9. Took in the gorgeous view from Twin Peaks (a new must-see anytime we have visitors)

10. Acted like tourists at the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps (impossible to get a picture without people in it, but they sure are pretty)


11. And ended the day in Pacifica at the best Taco Bell (the perfect way to end the perfect day)

 

 

View from my hike: Muir Woods

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This post is written with the following caveat: pictures could not possibly do this place justice.

You hear about the redwoods and look at pictures, but it is nothing compared to being there, standing among them.

And feeling so very, very tiny.

We woke up early on a Saturday, drove over the roller coaster-esque hills that make up the city of San Francisco, and continued across the surprisingly visible Golden Gate Bridge. National Parks were celebrating 100 years (woo-hoo!), so the park was free and of course, we weren’t the only ones who got the memo. After parking a million miles away, we made our way into Muir Woods.

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The path is a boardwalk and feels more like you’re walking through an outdoor museum, with signs commanding you to stay in between the fenced off areas. And just like a museum, I felt like everything on the other side, the things I was told not to touch, were priceless and historic and beautiful.

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We stayed on the path then strayed off into Mt. Tamalpais Park to feel some dirt beneath our feet. And then we went back to stand under the canopy of redwoods. Even with people everywhere, there was something incredible when you looked up and suddenly felt very, very tiny.

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Finding my green thumb

gardenI convinced myself that I didn’t have enough hobbies and decided I needed a garden. Ha. I know nothing about growing anything, and this couldn’t be more clear as I was standing in the garden section at Home Depot, basically having a panic attack. I almost yelled “ABORT!” until my much more level-headed husband calmly spoke to an employee and eased my nerves enough for us to go home with some cute flowers and a sensible window box.

Just in case I’m not the only one who decides to dive into gardening without a clue, I thought I’d share some things I’ve learned so far:

  1. Window boxes don’t come with hooks. At least, most of them don’t. I wandered aimlessly through the store looking for one that would fit snugly on my railing with no luck. Instead, we opted for a box that’s currently just resting on our balcony railing. Good idea? I guess we’ll wait and see.
  2. You know those little containers that flowers come in? You don’t need a whole bunch of those to fill a window box. I grabbed a few, thinking I’d have a full blooming box, but apparently flowers need room to go — just one container with 6 marigolds was enough to fill it.
  3. According to Home Depot and my expert-gardener mother, marigolds are easy to grow and maintain. I’ll be the judge of that.
  4. Flowers have different schedules. I had planned to have a box of marigolds and dahlias, but when the marigolds die, the dahlias will live on, so growing them next to each other isn’t ideal.
  5. Basic flower window box starter kit: window box + window box liner + soil + plant food + flowers.
  6. You need to cut the container that the flowers come in and very carefully separate each one, making sure not to tear the roots. They are each then planted separately.
  7. Per the friendly Home Depot lady, we mixed the soil and plant food in a separate bag then filled the window box liner about 1/3 of the way. Then we added the flowers in a staggered pattern and filled the rest with soil mixture.
  8. You’re supposed to water the plants more frequently in the beginning. I’m starting with once a day and crossing my fingers.
  9. Even though I don’t have a full-grown garden yet, I’m making it work on my little balcony. I like the feeling of growing something and I love waking up to flowers outside my window. Knowing me, I’m sure I’ll have a jungle in no time.

I’ll be posting updates on my tiny garden. More to come!

Explore: Seattle, Washington

June is here and I’m trying to convince myself that it’s as magical as it was when it meant the end of another school year and the beginning of beautiful, endless summer days and bonfire-filled summer nights. Unfortunately, it’s not quite the same as an adult, but I can pretend, right?

We spent the long Memorial Day weekend with a very short trip to Seattle — six in the evening on Saturday to six in the morning on Monday, to be specific — and staying true to our efficient selves, we jampacked our time with all of the Instagram-worthy views, touristy fun, and delicious food, food, and more food that we could possibly fit. So here’s what we did with 36 hours in the Emerald City.

Ate everything and drank coffee.
No surprise here. If I had to sum up our time, this would be it. And that alone was worth the trip. Our new Seattlelite cousin showed us all the good eats, and we basically spent Sunday on a four-person food tour along with one of our friends from college. Here’s the list.

  1. Musashi’s – You really can’t go wrong with fresh, cheap sushi. Get the Chirashi bowl and you won’t be disappointed.
  2. Molly Moon’s – Walk down the street from Musashi’s because ice cream is necessary wherever you go. I could’ve married the balsamic strawberry.
  3. Starbucks Reserve – Starbucks but fancy and with a different menu. Cool place to just hang out and not feel like you’re at Starbucks.
  4. The Crumpet Shop – I think this was my first crumpet and I’ll admit I’m now a crumpet fan. The pesto on that fluffy goodness was amazing.
  5. Storyville Coffee – Walk upstairs from The Crumpet Shop and you’ll find this wood-paneled, sunlit cafe. Perfect stop before squeezing through crowds at the market.
  6. Pike Place Chowder – There was a long line here, which was to be expected on MDW. Luckily, the guy singing outside made the wait not so bad, and the chowder is worth it. Get the sampler to try a few ($1 off with Yelp check in).
  7. Oriental Mart (not pictured) – We somehow managed to track down this little Filipino food stand tucked away at Pike Place. Longanisa cravings satisfied, good Filipino hospitality, and funny signs to pass the time.
  8. Piroshky, Piroshky (not pictured) – Buttery, flaky goodness. You’ll probably have to wait, but that’s with all good things, right?
  9. Beecher’s (not pictured) – Our cousin picked up some mac and cheese from here while we waited for chowder. YUM.
  10. Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot (not pictured) – Our last food. All-you-can-eat after a day of all eating may not have been the best call. Food comas may have commenced at the table.

Did tourist things and took in the views.
When we weren’t eating, we were doing stuff. Pretty typical Seattle stuff, I must say, but hey, we were short on time. Luckily Seattle is  small city so we were able to take a lot of it in. We’ll definitely be back for more adventures in the future, but here are the highlights:

Hi, we’re tourists posing in front of the Pike Place Market sign. It was Tom’s first time here so this was a must. We were “lucky” to catch some authentic Seattle rain while we were there.

This shot is 100% unposed. I am actually smiling at the fruit, and he is really telling me not to touch it. I wish I was lying, but this is our real life.

I was beyond disgusted by the gum wall, so I stayed behind the camera, a safe distance away.

Kerry Park

Got a great view of the Space Needle from Kerry Park.

This was my second time at Gasworks Park and it was just as cool as I remember.

Lake Washington

Found the most peaceful dock on Lake Washington. Such a beautiful place.

Happy Earth Day

Yosemite

Yosemite National Park

I remember the day I fell in love with the Earth.

I’m embarrassed to admit that it wasn’t that long ago. Even after years of childhood summers spent climbing trees, skipping rocks, and picking dandelions, I don’t think I fully appreciated nature until my early 20’s, when on a sibling trip to visit my sister in Seattle, we went hiking. The moment I stepped on that trail, I was changed forever.

I don’t remember exactly where we were, but I remember how I felt and that was everything. I was energized and alive. I felt every breath and every breath felt more real than it ever had before. And while my heart was racing, my mind was calm. That’s what struck me the most. Calmness is a rarity for my overthinking, over-anxious mind.

I’m always on the lookout for things that stop me in my tracks — things that calm my mind and soothe my soul. Nothing does this more for me than the beauty of this planet. I am happiest when I am outside, taking it all in. Please keep her beautiful forever.

Favorite Finds

Soo, I realize it’s Monday and the weekend is over, but I still wanted to share some things I found last week. We’ve had a crazy past few days apartment hunting and spending time with family. We’re back to Chicago today and ready for more moving madness.

BIG NEWS

goodbye

Originally written on January 29, 2016.

There are very few moments in my life where I really stopped to think about the meaning of a word. Today is one of them. Bittersweet — a word I love and hate at the same time, just like it’s meant to be.

Today was my last day with a company I’ve grown with and grown to love. It will always be my first, my home, and my beginning. I picture myself looking back at these times fondly in the future, thinking “this is where it all began…” (I often think of myself as an old lady looking back…it puts things into perspective).

In the near future though, I see myself as an adventurer. In the next couple of weeks, we will be making our way across the country for me to pursue a new job. With a new company. In a new state. Whoa.

I also legally changed my name earlier this week so I am in massive life change overload. I don’t know what having an identity crisis is like, but I think I might be close.

So that’s what’s coming up. BIG THINGS. And I’ll be sharing it all on here.

Life is exciting.

Favorite Finds

The weekend is here. FINALLY! It’s been an exhausting week with plenty more to come, but taking this weekend to be grateful and simplify my life. Exciting things are happening. But first, time to kick back and search the web. Here are some of my favorite finds from this week:

 

 

Happy New Year!

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2016 is here! Woo-hoo!

I (like many other people in the world) am awful at New Year’s resolutions, which is funny because I love lists and I love improving myself and my life. Maybe it’s because I write goals so often and make lists regularly — new year’s resolutions just start to feel like this “big deal” version of things I already do pretty consistently. And then I end up building them up so much that it only leads to disaster.

So here is my anti-resolution list: things I do regularly or have been meaning to do. It’s basically a compilation of all the goals I’ve set or started or planned to start throughout the year. Let’s not call them resolutions, though.

  1. Meditate daily
  2. Exercise at least three times a week (which is three times more than I currently do)
  3. Keep a work log
  4. Learn Italian
  5. Take a class for fun
  6. Pray often
  7. Consistently write in my five minute journal
  8. Say thank you every day
  9. Cook a slow cooker meal at least once per month
  10. Learn a new recipe every other week
  11. Always be reading a book
  12. Simplify the amount of stuff I have and buy
  13. Don’t complain
  14. Speak up
  15. Read every day
  16. Blog regularly
  17. Say I love you often
  18. Play ukulele every week
  19. Listen to podcasts daily
  20. Never leave dishes in the sink overnight
  21. Text my parents every day
  22. Say yes to family
  23. Keep in touch
  24. Volunteer
  25. Don’t be afraid of adventure