As cute as a blossom.

My ultimate #vacationgoals (in no particular order):

1) Go to Peru, stay at an alpaca farm and hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

2) Beyonce it up on the Mediterranean coast. Wear nothing but white, lay out on yachts, hang out with Jay-Z. This one may be more #lifegoals.

3) Visit Japan when sakura are in bloom. Picnic under the trees with specially made hanami bento boxes filled with pink onigiri and eat adorable sakura flavored cakes plus a package of those ridiculously expensive Japanese white strawberries. Shop for all the special edition pink sakura items while sipping on pink sakura lattes. Basically, I want to buy all the pink things, eat all the pink things, and be totally overwhelmed by the cuteness of it all.

cherryblossom

The Cherry Blossom & Japanese Cultural Festival did not involve any actual cherry blossoms but there was plenty of cute.

What it involved is lots of Japanese culture, showcased at various areas of the Seattle Center. The annual festival spans a weekend in Spring, and has a full calendar of performances, activities, and exhibits to enjoy. We went in the afternoon on the last day of the festival so a lot of things were winding down but there was still plenty left to be entertained by. Upon arrival, we parked ourselves at the main stage in the Armory where there were a variety of performances (see Melinda’s post) ranging from folk stories to traditional dancing. My favorite performers were the Taiko and dance troupe, which Melinda missed because she got hungry (see my previous post).

taikodancers1

It was a big, impressive performance with a bunch of dancers and drummers of all ages and levels. The littlest drummers stole the show though- the kids were so adorable- especially the determined little boy who was always a half beat behind the others.

There were no flowers at the Cherry Blossom Festival, but it was still the kind of cute that makes a 33 year old woman who has resigned herself to be a poodle lady, to consider freezing her eggs. Not bad, for a free “trip” to Japan.

Advertisements

And then we got hungry.

Despite what Melinda has led you to believe, we did not actually visit the Olympic Sculpture Park.

bridge1

As research for this post, I looked on Google maps to find out the name of the (jumping) bridge we crossed (Helix Pedestrian Bridge, for those wondering) and it turns out that we walked the Elliot Bay Trail which passes through two lovely parks- neither of them being the Olympic Sculpture Park. The parks we did visit are Centennial Park and Myrtle Edwards Park. So, that may be the better explanation of why our blog posts don’t have any pictures of sculptures.

I’ll start from the beginning.  I met up with Melinda in South Lake Union and we decided to take the scenic route and walk through Olympic Sculpture Park on our way to dinner in Belltown. As per usual, Melinda confidently led the way opting for an extra scenic route with a couple detours thrown in for good measure. She seems to only consult a map in dire situations (e.g., extreme hunger) and I don’t know if this is a reflection of a free-spirited-ness or because her phone seems to have the worst battery life ever. It really doesn’t matter, because I’m directional-y hopeless, so I have no choice but to continue to follow along.

bridge2

When we finally reached the green way, I just assumed we were at the back end of the Sculpture Park and maybe some Seattle dwellers consider this area an extension of the park- but Google Maps does not. To be fair, this trail eventually forks and can lead to the Sculpture Park. It’s a nice path that follows along the water with great views (as seen in Melinda’s post). However, when we finally reached the fork that led up to the Sculpture Park, we opted to skip the sculptures and continue strait on the trail. Not because the trail was exceptionally amazing, but because it was the quickest route to food. As is the case with many of our “adventures,” our plans were again thwarted by the desire to eat right away. Oh well, a park is a park, and dinner was delicious.

So if you’ve learned anything from this post, it should be that you shouldn’t trust everything you read on the internet.

You’re welcome.

Put on my pink suede shoes.

mercerisland2

Melinda and I have perfected the art of making loose plans. It usually starts off with an ambiguous “we should do something” text, followed by a painfully slow text exchange (on both parts), and then me just wanting to know where I need to be and what type of shoes to wear because as we have learned, Melinda likes walking.

While I, too, enjoy walking, I also enjoy wearing impractical shoes. It’s a shame that those two interests don’t work better together. For this excursion, I was told to wear shoes I can “walk around an urban park in.”

Dress code observed, I took the bus into downtown Seattle, picked up provisions at Starbucks, and then waited on a random street corner ’til Melinda found me. Upon entering her car, I learned that we were headed to Mercer Island and Melinda was bordering hangry.

For those unfamiliar with Melinda, you don’t want her hangry. Luckily, Mercer Island is only a ten minute drive from downtown. Yes, it’s an island, but since being surrounded by bodies of water is not a novel occurrence in Seattle, I’m more apt to describe Mercer Island as a small, quiet suburb – inhabited by rich people and their golden doodles.

Our game plan once we got to Mercer Island was:

1) Find food 2) Eat 3) Wander around 4) Check out a Little Free Library or two 5) Read

While we accomplished everything on the list, let’s just say we spent more time on the first item than the last..which happens a lot.

mercerisland3For the wander portion of the day, we walked through Pioneer Park and around some of the neighboring streets. It wasn’t nearly as difficult as the picture above suggests, but I would wear different footwear next time. I’m assuming Melinda and I have different concepts of what an urban park is. If you enjoy walking around and exploring fancy neighborhoods while making note of future house #goals, Mercer Island is a great place to do it. Y’all do that too, right?

Patron of the arts…and donuts.

artwalk1

Everyone equates Seattle with rain. Before moving up here, I thought that meant there would be daily downpours and I’d finally get use of all those cute rain boots that were collecting dust in my little drought-stricken section of the country. I quickly learned that while it most definitely is overcast and drizzly up here, Seattle’s rain really isn’t so bad.

So with that said, the weather on the night of the April’s PhinneyWood Art Up sucked- it was cold, with lots of wind and rain.  Although the art walk had initially been my suggestion, it required summoning up some real dedication to the arts to keep walking around from place to place to see it.

As Melinda mentioned, we started off at Ballard Healing Arts to check out Tibetan bowl singing. Back in December, I heard about healing sound baths and am assuming this is the same thing by a different name. What’s a healing sound bath, you ask? Well, I’m not entirely sure yet and since the door was locked to the Healing Arts center, I’ll have to get back to you on that.

After that initial disappointment, we headed to Greenwood Ave which is where most of the businesses participating in Art Up are located. The first few spots we hit up were restaurants, which made for an awkward art viewing experience. Restaurants are just one of those places that you walk into for a singular purpose, so it felt odd to go inside just to stand in front of seated diners and look at the walls behind them. Oh well.

Thankfully, there was Urban Light Studios which basically was a not-so-mini art walk in itself. Upstairs in their main event area, they had a few paintings up and invited guests to walk around the space which was a collection of themed rooms that were really fun to explore.

artwalk3

Downstairs had a fun urban vibe going on, with a DJ and several artists showcasing their work in different rooms. The individual artists were present in the rooms and in addition to the art you could purchase small items like tees, post cards, prints, etc – basically mini Etsy shops. For refreshments, there was the requisite wine, cheese and crackers, but also beer, hummus, and donuts…because those things are delicious. For some reason, I couldn’t get myself to drink any of the free booze provided by the starving artists, but I did help myself to two donuts…

artwalk2

After Urban Light Studios, we visited a couple more participating businesses but eventually ran out of time. Overall, this was a fun way to see some cool art and explore Greenwood in the process. PhinneyWood is having their annual “The BIG One” ArtUp event this coming weekend and the weather is supposed to be nice- so definitely worth checking out. If you can’t make it to that but still want some art in your life – check out this artist’s site. He’s the artist of the pieces in the first photo above and had my favorite work of the night.

A beginner’s guide to the Baker Lake Trail

bakerlake2

Many moons ago, planning for the weekend meant searching Yelp for brunch spots with a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar. Nowadays, I’m more likely to be Googling hiking trails. Sometimes life necessitates more trees and less vodka, and I’m okay with that.

Still, I’m never going to be the outdoorsy type who reflects on life in front of a crystal clear lakes, or feels centered only when standing amongst giant sequoias…that’s just not me. My main motivation for hiking is usually to burn calories and get some much needed vitamin D. Nature is just the cherry on top of those toned tan legs.

Consider this post a guide to hiking the Baker Lake Trail for the gal who feels more at ease overpaying for poached eggs than wearing polar fleece.

bakerlaketrailhead

First, purchase a Northwest Forest Pass before you leave. Pay for it online and print it out. You need a pass to park at this trail head and there’s no pay station at the lot.

Leave early! The trail is located about 2.5 hours from Seattle. If you’re driving up in April during the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, tack on another hour to that. If you have a small bladder and/or need to eat at regular intervals, add another hour. Plan accordingly, and maybe let your hiking buddy in on this info. *Cough*

From the trail head, the hike to Baker Lake is about 14 miles.

bakerlaketrail

Yup. 28 miles round trip.

Now, contemplate giving up and heading back home. There’s probably still time to hit the outlets. JK JK JK. Just get hiking! But if that number didn’t result in even the slightest side eye, why are you even reading this? And if you’re anything like me, chances are it’ll be way past noon when you finally start, but even if you never reach the end, I promise it’s still worth your time. Plus, you start off at a different lake anyways, how much better could Baker Lake be. Right? Convince yourself of that.

bakerlake8

bakerlake7

So, now you’re hiking! Set your phone to airplane mode BTW, there’s no reception and you need to preserve your battery so you can take tons of pictures and post them on Instagram the second you get some damn bars again.

bakerlakepic

bakerlaketrail1

Nature! Isn’t she pretty?

bakerlakefungi2

Look at all the moss. That’d be the good kind of lush!

bakerlakefungi

And the shelf fungi! So cool! Don’t dwell too long on them though or that seasonal morel menu at your favorite restaurant may lose it’s charm.

bakerlake3

bakerlakecollage

Go off the path and explore. Take more pictures. If you get bored with the trees, take some selfies. Take advantage of this awesome natural lighting! When you turn around and no longer see your hiking partner who had stopped to take pictures just a minute ago, don’t panic. Chances are she just decided to hike ahead, and did NOT fall off a cliff while trying to get a wider shot.

bakerlake6

Enjoy yourself and happy trails!

What’s the longest distance you’ve hiked? OR if you don’t hike, what are your thoughts on Clamato?

Seattle Vegfest

Vegfest is awesome!

There’s swag:

vegfest_swag

And tons of yummy samples to taste:

sodelicious

mightyodonuts

Vegan donuts? Yes, please!

The best thing about Vegfest is paying a mere eight dollars to try out hundreds of products that I’ve been curious about but hesitant to actually buy. Partly because I’m cheap, but mostly cus sometimes certain vegan foods sound like a great idea and instead turn out to be really really awful (I’m looking at you, almond milk yogurt).

Here’s my short list of products that I was impressed with and would happily fork over my cash for:

  • Field Roast Burgers and Chao Cheese: I’m not a huge fan of faux meats and cheeses, but Field Roast absolutely lives up to the hype. (And there’s a lot of hype!) I was especially impressed with the cheese, which is a big deal since I still eat dairy and vegan cheeses usually give me a major case of the sads. Chao gives me hope that one day I could possibly give up my addiction to dairy. When I first gave up meat, I didn’t like eating veggie burgers cus I thought, “What’s the point? They taste nothing like the deliciousness that is red meat.” But then one day, I found myself freaking after biting into a black bean burger because I thought the restaurant had messed up my order and given me a regular burger.
  • Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bread: Sometimes I go on gluten-free kicks (I know, I’m that kind of girl) and Rudi’s bread tastes like…bread. Gluten-free foods are hit-or-miss. Rudi’s does it right and I  swiped a bunch of their dollar off coupons for the next time I decide I’m convinced I’m gluten-intolerant.
  • HempPro Protein Powder: I’ve been looking for a new vegan protein powder and HempPro’s chocolate flavor is yummy and not at all chalky. I may have swiped a month’s worth of samples of these as well.
  • Sunbutter: I’m a nut butter hoarder. In my pantry, there is currently a jar of cashew butter, almond butter, pecan butter, and three types of peanut butter. Sunflower seed butter will be joining the mix.
  • So Delicious Ice Cream Sandwiches: Although I eat dairy, I don’t drink milk or eat much ice cream, because…I’m Asian. These are perfect for when I’m craving ice cream, minus the bloating. I’m not a big coconut milk as a dairy substitute fan, so the strawberry bar (pictured above) wasn’t my fave, but the ice cream sandwiches are legit!
  • Eden Brown Rice Mochi: I first tried out Eden products at a Boston Vegfest years ago, and I love their stuff- especially the Asian foods. They waffled the mochi and served it with their concord grape butter which is all sorts of delicious and genius.

There were also many awesome smaller and local companies at Vegfest hawking all the usual earthy crunchy suspects like artisan nut butters, kraut, cashew cheese, chai tea, etc. I LOVE trying this stuff, but rarely purchase them because the closeted non-lazy hippie in me really thinks I’m going to make them on my own…or I might just be an awful person who does not support small businesses. But seriously, I really am going to buy a scoby on Craigslist one day and make my own kombucha!

There was one product that I would totally buy though: Liefie’s Coconut Milk Caramel Cardamom Sauce. I’m obsessed with cardamom lately, and her caramel was the type of good that I already know I can’t recreate at home. If you’re in the PNW, and see her caramel sauce, buy it, and thank me.

rudisbread

sodelicious1

So next time a Vegfest rolls up in your ‘hood, GO! You’re guaranteed to leave stuffed, and if you want (and who doesn’t) with a bag full of swag and coupons to keep the veg fun rolling.

Florals for Spring?

Groundbreaking.

fashionshow2

We went to Pioneer Square on a Thursday night and watched skinny chicks clad in floral prints and a curious amount of denim strutting down a runway. The best part of it was having a reason not to be wearing yoga pants on a weeknight – but that’s just the state of my life.

While the fashion show wasn’t bad,” I think it’s fair to say the event wasn’t worth the admission price. I believe Melinda was being too nice to straight up say that in her post. Maybe they did too good a job of marketing the event because I feel like we were tricked into paying to attend a fashion school open house. Is Art Institute hard up on cash? Who knows. The event started off with an MC auctioning off some donated items, then a handful of fashion students showcased their work to a group made up mostly of families and fellow students, and then there were some awards. The end. After standing shoulder to shoulder in a space that was hip, but didn’t logistically work with the fashion show, everyone was ready for some air and teetered out onto the street in their heels. It would have been nice if there were some more vendor booths, or just more to look at or do in general, but that was it. On the plus side, we got free Vita Coco.

fashionshow3

Actually, the fashion show was a lot better than I had expected. You can’t blame me for fearing the worst though…student fashion show…in Seattle? Let’s just say fashion in Seattle can be summed up with three letters: R-E-I. And as for a student show, I was imagining a lot of avant-garde wannabe Galliano-eque creations. Thankfully, there wasn’t too much of that and most of the designs were cute and had fun cuts and pretty (floral) patterns. Unfortunately, all the pictures I took of those outfits are too blurry to decipher anything from and all I have to share is this Stephen Sprouse circa 1999 creation:

fashionshow1

And there I go being the snarky one again.

Let your geek flag fly

We went to a Pi(e) Party and it was fun.

piepartyMy blog partner prefers that I leave it at that, post my pictures and call it a day, but I’m going to elaborate and hope not to offend anyone in the process.

The event was held in Greenwood on 3/14/15 to celebrate π with pie. BTW, Melinda totally offended me by asking if I knew the special significance of this year’s Pi day. Even after I said I did, she made me prove it. Please, I may not be the math nerd my parents had hoped for, but I’m still Asian. I know you dear reader(s) also know the significance too. We’re a smart bunch here, plus someone probably posted about it on Facebook.

Prior to attending the event, I knew there would be some math talk involved. However, I assumed the number stuff was the necessary evil we’d rush over in order to get to what the night was really about: pie, scrumptious & splendid P-I-E. In my world, food is always the main event (especially dessert), so imagine my confusion when I found myself surrounded by people geeking out over pi, no E.

The actual main event was a battle of the pi(e)s. It was like a rap battle between Jessica Day (#teampie) and Leonard Hofstadter (#teampi) minus sick rhymes, and really, just talk about circles n’ Crisco. If that didn’t make sense to you, you’re not alone. Still, the discussion was entertaining and I learned some new factoids, like: pie was the OG BPA free Tupperware, and Pythagoras invented being vegetarian.

pi_day1The other highlights of the night were contests + prizes for the best tasting pies in various categories, and the longest recitation of pi. Eating (multiple) homemade desserts is just about the best-thing-ever and obviously the reason why I was there. Reciting the longest memorization of pi? Nah. I sometimes freeze when prompted to punch in my zip code at the gas pump; numbers hurt my brain. Surprisingly though, this is where the “fun” began for me.

When the recitation contest was announced, I swear there was an electricity that moved through the audience. Friends huddled, glanced around, and exchanged knowing looks. Somewhere in that room, there was a nerd ready to have her moment and I was excited for her! I mean, how often does one get to show off this particular questionable skill? And hooray for all the geeky Asian girls who rocked the contest. Sorry I didn’t turn out more like them, mom.

So in the same way that attending Comic-Con or watching a documentary on spelling bees is fun, the Pi(e) Party was fun! While the math stuff did not interest me, it was neat to be around people who did find it interesting. Everyone has something they geek out about, and we should all just own it. Being around people in their element, doing their thang, and enjoying it is inspiring and infectious. Also, the pie was super delicious. I was on a sugar + caffeine high the whole night, and that may have also have factored into my enjoyment.

pieparty2The Pi(e) Party was held at The Greater Seattle Bureau of Fearless Ideas, which is an awesome non-profit that provides free tutoring and writing programs for kids. It’s a cool, inviting space that I imagine encourages kids to be creative and let their their little geek flags fly. The  “bureau” is attached to the Greenwood Space Travel Supply Co, a quirky shop that sells all these fun nerdy things that you never knew you needed, with proceeds contributing to the Bureau of Fearless Ideas. The shop is worth checking out if you’re looking for a gift for a geeky friend, or have been searching for a binary chronometer. Extra bonus points that it’s located next to Chaco Canyon Cafe cus they have nutritional yeast shakers next to the salt and pepper there- and that’s the kinda thing I geek out about.

spacetravelco1

What makes you geek out?

What would Cheryl do?

To kick-off this awesome collaboration, Melinda and I took a weekend trip to Long Beach. Hopefully, Melinda will tell you all about the quaint small-town magic and seaside charm we encountered, cus this post is just about our hike. What follows is a long-ass post about hiking.  It has no real purpose nor conclusion, and unlike WILD, there are no torrid tales of sex and drug abuse woven in. So please, keep reading.

On Sunday, we went hiking at Leadbetter Point State Park, located on the northern tip of the Long Beach Peninsula. This cute little peninsula is located on the Washington coast right above the Oregon border and juts up north – sorta like the Cape…or an inverted Florida.

I was super excited to hike at Leadbetter Point because my guidebook touted its super awesome views…like this one:

hiking_leadbetter

If you’re not thinking what I’m thinking, then we can’t be friends.

Dear Mr. Jeff Burlingame of MOON Handbooks: Olympic Peninsula, you are doing the West Coast a great disservice by counting this amongst its “most-scenic views.”

Anyway, we arrived at the parking lot / head to the various hiking trails and choose one that would lead us to the beach. Like Lewis and Clark before us, our destination was the Pacific Ocean! Our hike would follow the eastern coast up along Willapa Bay and then cut west across the peninsula to the ocean. The bay side of the park is pleasant (see above) and the beach is littered with washed up shellfish. There are hundreds of clams, oysters and Dungeness crab baking in the sun, instead of being enjoyed on dinner plates. Seeing all those dried up crab shells that had previously held gloriously creamy crab guts just waiting to be mixed up with steaming white rice would make anyone hungry.

After a short walk along the bay, we cut through a muddy marshy area then headed into a forest-y area that would eventually lead to the beach. It’s a nice short hike, made even better by the sounds and promise of the Pacific Ocean that lie ahead. Doesn’t that sound idyllic? It really is a nice hike, and there really are some pretty views. I think this guy describes it best, “the scenery is quite nice.” Take note, Mr. Burlingame.

jumpcollage

So while the book vastly overstated the beauty of Leadbetter Point, it also greatly downplayed the flooding in the area.  All the trails that lead to the (real) beach are pretty much guaranteed to be flooded for most of the year. Apparently, there’s even a sign at the entrance that states “It’s not really hiking, more like wading, from October to May. Thigh or even waist deep water is possible so plan accordingly.”

TL;DR We didn’t make it to the beach.

No. The joy is in the journey, folks. Keep reading.

After a bit of happy hiking, snapping pics and enjoying our surroundings, Melinda and I ran into some flooding.  Honestly, it was just a big puddle that blocked the trail – probably a few yards long and ankle deep at most. A small obstacle for real hikers, and we are real hikers!  Melinda (the more directionally adept one) led the way and we bushwhacked around the puddle only to encounter other mini marshes, rivers, and ponds. We were going in circles but I was still having fun. A major factor in the success of our friendship is that I am happy to follow Melinda around in circles without ever questioning if we’re getting anywhere. However, I did ask her, “What would Cheryl Strayed do?” Obviously, Cheryl would have walked through the puddle an hour ago and be sitting on the beach already. Still, we weren’t quite ready to go hardcore Cheryl as walking around with wet feet is really gross. Instead, we decided to fill the big puddle with sticks to walk over.

While we were ingeniously filling the puddle with sticks, a hardcore Cheryl showed up, took off his socks and shoes, rolled up his pants and walked right through, all NBD.

Whatever. The trail was even more flooded ahead, so he had to turn back, walk through the puddle again, and deal with wet squishy feet in sneakers for nothing. This guy (who I will call Mr. Strayed) did seem like he knew what he was doing, and was also determined to get to the beach; so we followed him. Melinda later said that this was okay to do because she took note of all his high end hiking gear and was able to assess that he wasn’t a crazy homeless man living in the woods. While I also noticed his brand name gear, I only thought of my mom, who really likes to hike and shop at REI. My survival skills need more work.

I don’t have much else to say about Mr. Strayed. Melinda exchanged conversation with him while trailing close behind. I figured Melinda wouldn’t ditch me, so I had the luxury of taking my time, looking around, and taking pictures of my feet.

hikingshoes

Melinda told Mr. S that, before he showed up, we had been wondering what an “experienced” hiker would have done when faced with the puddle situation. I mention this because I totally laughed to myself assuming Melinda had purposely replaced “Cheryl” with “experienced hiker” so that we wouldn’t seem like clueless chicks who had just watched WILD and shown up in the woods. Which was totally not the case – again, we are real hikers.

We followed Mr. S and he pointed out things like elk poop and beaver marks, and confirmed that the roaring ahead was the ocean and not a freeway. Ultimately though, Mr. Strayed doesn’t live up to his name; all he did was lead us into more flooded areas. Eventually, we hit a real stream (not just a big puddle) that was thigh deep and would require jumping. Mr. S walked up and down the stream looking for a narrow point to jump over it, and this worried me. I’m short and there was no way jumping could end well. Thankfully, before any of that impending horror would come to fruition, some local hikers appeared on the other side of the stream and told us that they had jumped the stream earlier and it was still impossible to get to the beach. One of the hikers was an elderly woman who kept pointing out that our footwear was not appropriate for the hike. Mr. S and I were wearing Nikes, but Melinda was wearing hiking boots and she kept glancing down at them. If I had to guess what Melinda was thinking, it would be. “Lady, I am wearing hiking boots! I’m prepared! I’m a real hiker!” while my thought process was more along the lines of, “how did this old lady jump the stream!?”

And that is where my story ends. Mr. S navigated us back to the parking lot. Melinda asked about foraging; he talked about doing ‘shrooms. We reached the car, said our goodbyes and set off on our next unavailing adventure: finding decent food on the Long Beach Peninsula.

Being original on the Internet

A few weeks ago, Melinda suggested we collaborate on something. She had a reason behind it, maybe pertaining to successful people? Either way, it seemed like a good idea. After some brainstorming, Melinda came up with this blog. *Hooray!* While I’m happy to give her all the credit for this awesome idea, I’d also like to note that some of her other suggestions were making kites, and selling birdhouses on Etsy.

So collaborative something being set, the next order of business was to think of a blog name. I immediately relegated this task to Melinda. In short, because I hate thinking. Okay, that sounds awful, so I’ll explain: if I obsess too long about the perfect name, I’ll end up losing interest, and getting nowhere. I just wanted to jump in. Melinda would think of a blog name and I would design the blog. That’s how collaborations work, right?

Well, I ended up brainstorming blog names along with Melinda…because after a week, the list below is what she came up with. I’m kidding. There are some good ones but they were already taken – being original on the internet is near impossible. Continue reading