First time in Chicagoland

It’s summer break!

It is weirdly strange to not have reading or problem sets occupying every minute of free time. Earlier this week I lounged on the couch all evening with a book, and yesterday we had dinner with friends¬†and I could order a drink because there was no work to do when we got home! Woohoo! It’s the little things in life.

As a part of cramming as much fun as I can into this 2.5-week break, I flew out to Chicago this past weekend to visit some college friends. After talking about going to visit for the past two years, I finally squeezed in a trip during their graduation season (and was able to catch Melissa’s grad!). They were the most gracious (and fun!) hostesses, and took me on a whirlwind tour of Chicago catered to my fondness for bread, cake, and donuts. ūüėÄ

chicago bean

Reunited at the Chicago bean! Along with showing me all the cool spots Melissa and Christa also supplemented¬†hilarious commentary that I’m still not sure¬†I trust.

A gorgeous shot of downtown Chicago from the Lincoln Park Zoo (which was free to walk through). Luckily it decided not to storm the weekend I visited, and we were able to take the L and walk around the city. Chicago in the summer reminds me a little of Seattle – everyone is outside on the patio or at a festival making the most of the sunshine. The weather, however, was not Seattle-like: 90 and humid. While it wasn’t as terrible as the humidity in Taiwan¬†or Florida, it’s definitely sticky. My skin went berserk – I’m currently thankful for temperate Seattle weather and Aveeno’s ultra-moisturizer.

The view looking west from Millennium Park (where the bean is). I was surprised to find Chicago much more like New York City than LA or San Francisco. I’m not sure what I was expecting – maybe something more like LA? Chicago was most definitely a huge, bustling metropolitan¬†hub. I felt like country mouse visiting the big city. Seattle is teeny-tiny in comparison.

Aaand of course a photo of these beautiful and intelligent gals – I’m so proud of them both! It’s crazy to think how far we’ve come from our undergrad days. In addition to noshing on pizza, drinking loads of ice tea to cool off, and running to Walgreens to get Melissa’s face blown up on posterboard, it was fascinating to hear about their MBA programs and their experience in the full-time program. Part of me yearns for the full-time B-school experience – there’s definitely something to be said about immersing yourself into that environment. But one more year to go – it’s going to be worth it!

Deception Pass

A holiday is a big deal around here. I haven’t had two consecutive days off¬†since spring break in March, so of course we had to make the most of¬†Memorial Day weekend. After taking a day trip up to Vancouver with my classmates on Saturday – which was a blast¬†and filled with SO¬†much¬†good food, which is why I’m on a salad detox now – we high tailed it back to Seattle, passed out at 2am, and were back up¬†at 7:30 to drive¬†up to Deception Pass. Crazy, right? It’s go big or go home. After much coffee to fend off exhaustion, it was the perfect day for¬†a hike!

Photo of Deception Pass taken by Wilson – doesn’t the clear water make it look like we’re somewhere a lot warmer? You can see the Deception Pass bridge in the distance.

I’ve heard a lot about Deception Pass, but have never been – my mom’s friend has a painting of the view above her fireplace that I’ve looked at a bunch of times over the years, so when some friends asked if we were down for a hike on Memorial Day, I was totally down to see it in real life. I’m glad we toughed it out (who needs sleep) and went, because Deception Pass turned out to be spectacular. The May gray we’ve been having finally decided to clear up and give us some sun so we got the gorgeous views of the islands, and the clear water underneath – we even spotted a bald eagle at one point! Have I mentioned that I love the Pacific Northwest? We walked down to the shore and found a spot for a picnic, and hiked around the area before it got too congested with the holiday crowds. Now I just need another day off to recover from the weekend…

 The view from the Summit Рtaken by Wilson

Happy 30th Birthday, Mel!

melody30th

Here’s an oldie but a goodie for my sister’s 30th birthday. So crazy that we used to be those drunk little hooligans – as we get older I really have the greatest¬†respect for all parents. As adorable¬†as tiny humans are, they are work. Clearly a sign that I’m not ready for kids (guilty confession: I beg my best friend weekly to not have kids yet). Anyway, obviously Melody and I were perfectly behaved little angels, and today she turns 30! Whaaat.

While going through some old photos to find the one that perfectly demonstrates what a great influence she was (ha), it really hit me what adults we’ve become. I mean it certainly doesn’t feel like it – our stream of cute animal videos and purchases of poodle paraphernalia suggest otherwise – but shoot, we’ve come a long way from the days when we’d fight over barbies, tear down the living room curtain rods playing ballet studio, and argue endlessly about nothing (glad those high school years are over). And now she’s going into her fourth decade – yikes, that sounds older than she is. Happy birthday Mel – wishing we could go shopping, bake a cake, cuddle with Molly, and get inspired to create some Pinterest fails today.

Peony season is my favorite

I know I do this post every. single. year. But I can’t help it! Lunchtime rolls around, I take a walk down to the market, and all my spare change disappears and reappears in the form of these flowers.¬†Peony season is dangerous in these parts.

Anyway – admire, and tell me this isn’t the BEST¬†use of $10:


Stop and admire the mountain

We are smack in the middle of midterms and papers, and of course the weather’s been¬†gorgeous. Not one to squander a beautiful day, I took the long route to procrastinate studying and took the scenic walk to the library. Not really, but I turned the corner to the square and this view hit me smack in the face – and I had to be a total tourist and take a photo.

5_7_2016 UW view

Even though I’ve lived here for 3 years already ( as of last week – time flies! it honestly feels like we’ve lived here for much longer), the view of Rainier on a clear day never fails to floor me. On the bus, on the bridge, getting on the freeway – it’s kind of like the Eiffel Tower when I lived in Paris – no matter how many times I see it,¬†that view is awe-inspiring¬†every single time.

Time to get back to studying. And for another awe-inspiring photo: I haven’t written a paper in yeaaars ( I was shocked to find out the other day I’ve forgotten how to cite bibliographies), but if I’ve gotta do it, this place isn’t too bad. ūüôā

The Suzzalo Library reading room

Birthday in the Big Easy

Our annual friends trip has been months in the making – NOLA for Wilson’s 30th! We had the greatest celebration surviving a southern downpour, eating Domino’s in the lobby of the Ritz at 2am, eating too many beignets, eating butter disguised as food, eating, eating, and more eating… I’m on a salad detox this week, but it’s totally and completely worth it.

NOLA

I love these clowns – the best Seattle family we could ask for!

This trip was such a needed break from work, school, and life in general – after surviving the most intense quarter, ever (I am thankful I never need to do another microeconomics problem set ever again). I’ve been daydreaming about NOLA since the first week of the quarter – and thanks to my busy schedule Wilson took the reigns and did most of the rallying and planning – not an easy task for a group of 10. But he did such an amazing job (we somehow got first class tickets and good rates at the Ritz – I told him he better top this for my 30th). We all had such a blast and are so thankful for all our friends who flew in from all over to join us.

Nola4

post-mimosa brunch at the Palace Cafe

 

Some highlights of the weekend:

  • Getting stuck in a downpour at Pat O’Briens with our hurricanes. And trying to rescue the goldfish in a bag some drunk guy was holding so he wouldn’t drink it.
  • Buying matching cat tank tops for probably way too much $ (worth it).
  • Ordering Domino’s in the lobby of the Ritz at 2am. We’re real classy like that.
  • Being identified as Pacific Northwesterners because of our high-end rain gear (everyone else was in ponchos). A little rain doesn’t scare us Seattleites!

Nola3

  • Braving the cold in search of live jazz
  • Experimenting with FaceSwap in all friend combinations and cackling over them¬†at the bar…and over dinner.
  • Spinning around the Carousel bar with our drinks and glittery masks
  • Taking the streetcar to the Garden District to admire the pretty southern houses… and then piling out as soon as we see a Cold Stones. Priorities.

Nola2

Dreaming of spring

Spring in the Pacific Northwest is such a tease. We had one, glorious, sunny and warm 60 degree day on Saturday.It was warm enough to roll down the windows, turn up the music, and put on sunglasses Рand BOOM, the next day I look up the forecast and we have two weeks of lightning and rain coming our way. Such a tease.

I snuck in a quick¬†visit to¬†the cherry blossoms at the central plaza¬†while running late to class (can’t forget to stop and smell the flowers). The cherry blossoms on campus are one of my favorite things about spring here – when they’re in full bloom, they look like little sticks of cotton candy in the quad – how dreamy!

UW cherry blossoms

The cherry blossoms – I managed to catch them early in the AM before the crowds descended. In the words of my classmate, it’s a rave if you go later in the day.

On the bright side, the rainy weather keeps me inside working on the last of my finals. Two more to go and I am officially on spring break! Instead of waiting for the sun to come back, I’ll be heading home to LA and Newport Beach for a college friend’s wedding, and New Orleans for Wilson’s 30th birthday! It’s going to fly by way too fast, I already know it, but I’m going to enjoy all the sunshine and free time while I can! Also on the to-do list is cleaning out our donation pile, organizing the pantry, and finding someone to fix our leaky skylight. Ugh, adulting hard here.

UW cherry blossoms

My campus brochure photo. UW has such a different feel from the ’70s concrete-box architecture the UCs are so famous for. It has the old brick buildings, grand architecture, and that “academic institution” feel that UCSD never had. (Don’t get me wrong- I’m a Triton for life!)

As I chip away at my exams, I’m also planning¬†Wilson’s 30th birthday party. We do a breakfast-for-dinner party at our place every year, where we set up a waffle or pancake bar and invite friends over, but I’m thinking since it’s the big 3-0 we need to class it up and go out! Maybe a nice diner or something that serves breakfast ’round the clock? I’ve also been brainstorming birthday cake ideas. In past years we’ve had¬†a sprinkled mini-donut cake and mini-cinnabon¬†cake (this guy has a serious sweet tooth, I kid you not…just like yours truly). I was thinking of just ordering a nice rich chocolate cake and calling it a day, but in a stroke of fate I saw a recipe for a belgian waffle cake today on Sprinkle Bakes¬†–¬†I think I may have found the perfect cake (depending on how much time I have)! I’ll keep you posted.

daffodils

Excuse the ugly reflection of my campus permit Рbut the median divider on the main road by our place is bursting at the seams with daffodils! Definitely my other-favorite-thing about spring.

Honey chipotle peanut butter & bacon chocolate chip cookies

(No, the name could not get any longer.) This is not a diet-friendly cookie. But it’s comforting, leaves a bit of heat in your mouth, and smooths it over with¬†dark chocolate. With an added bacon-y crunch. This is not a cookie for the faint of heart¬†–¬†my sweet tooth knows no bounds! And it’s just the reward I needed¬†after midterms (downside of grad school: bookmarking all the amazing recipes you see online on the off-chance you have some free time). Bake this for the¬†spicy food lover, or the bacon-lover, in your life, and they will love you even more.

I adapted Joy the Baker’s recipe for peanut butter bacon dark chocolate cookies – the original is actually gluten-free, which is awesome – I finally found something to bake for my GF co-workers that doesn’t involve me hunting down¬†substitutes! This recipe also proves that gluten free does NOT equal healthy. I’ve had the recipe bookmarked for a while and was originally going to go by the book (because how in the world do you improve on pb-bacon-chocolate cookies?), but then remembered in a flash of brilliance that I had half a jar of Eliot’s honey chipotle peanut butter in the pantry. And they just took this cookie to whole ‘nother level. The caramel-y, smoky and salty crispy bacon bits are a good pairing to the slow heat and nuttiness, and the chocolate dials the spice down just enough.
¬†I first discovered Eliot’s adult nut butters at the Urban Craft Uprising fair a few years ago, and it’s been a staple in the cabinet ever since – they come in these amazing flavors like honey chipotle (duh), spicy thai curry, and garam masala. Which means that I not only make kick-ass PB sandwiches, but also dollop it into curries, chicken, and pasta. (My diet consists of food other than peanut butter, I promise)

Guilty confession – I am a Skippy’s/JIF PB kind of girl. (notice the jar hiding behind the artisan PB) The texture and flavor (lots of sugar?) is what I’m used to from my childhood, and my go-to breakfast on any day is a slice of whole wheat toast with peanut butter. Point being, the natural PB¬†that you mix because¬†the oil separates is just not my thing. Except Eliots, which takes your usual flavors¬†to a whole other level! So make these cookies! And maaybe share with your friends – so you won’t eat them all yourself.

Honey Chipotle Peanut Butter & Bacon Dark Chocolate cookies
adapted from¬†Joy the Baker’s recipe

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup flour*
1/2 cup peanut butter (chunky or smooth)
1/2 cup Eliot’s honey chipotle peanut butter
4-6 slices of bacon, cooked, cooled and coarsely chopped (adjust depending on how bacon-y you like it, I used less)
1 large handful dark chocolate pieces
granulated sugar (for rolling)

*¬†the original recipe omits flour –¬†you’ll get a denser, truffle-like cookie without, but I like the¬†lighter texture¬†you get with¬†flour

  1. Brown the bacon until crisp. Let it cool, then chop.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350.
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine peanut butters, sugars, and egg, and mix until smooth. Add baking soda and flour, and mix until well combined.
  4. Add the bacon and chocolate chips, and mix.
  5. Fold in cooked bacon and chocolate pieces.
  6. Roll the dough into 1-in balls, then roll them in granulated sugar. Place them on the cookie sheet and smush them with a fork to get the nice PB cookie pattern.
  7. Bake for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned.

Ringing the Nasdaq bell

Happy Friday! It’s been such an exhausting, eventful week – between midterms, work, and Wilson being gone, I’m glad it’s behind me. Staying up until 1am every night working on Econ was really catching up to me. Anyway, now that that’s all over and the future is looking much brighter, I feel like I can finally breathe a little. I treated myself to chicken tikka masala wrap from Pike Place for lunch today (amaaazing), and bought Valentine donuts from the mini donut vendor for the¬†team¬†– it’s a pretty good Friday. And Wilson gets home from China tomorrow morning! It’s going to be a wonderful weekend.

zillow cupcakes

Lots and lots of Z cupcakes – and the benefit of sitting next to the events
marketing team is that you get to help finish the leftover cupcakes!

This past Wednesday was Zillows’ 10th Anniversary, and normally it’s not very eventful at work, but they rolled out the big guns and had Nasdaq come out from New York and ring the closing bell from Seattle at Benaroya Hall. The only other time they’ve ever moved it from NYC was for Starbucks’ 30 years, so we must know some people up there. We got to be in the crowd cheering, and let me tell you, clapping and cheering for two minutes straight is actually quite tiring! And much to my disappointment, the Nasdaq “bell ringing” is¬†not actually a bell… its just a podium and screens. With some epic music playing.¬†The crowd claps, people on the stage wave and pose, and they edit in the sound of the bell later. If you watch the YouTube video, there’s a bell sound at the end (the video’s not that exciting unless you know who’s on stage – note: not me), but there was no bell, sound or otherwise, when they filmed us. Maybe it’s different in New York, but¬†it was still a really cool experience, and we were projected on the big screens in Times Square. One thing checked off the bucket¬†list, I guess!

  The podium/stage. The lady on the left was the one gesturing for us to all
keep cheering. And yes, I had a front row seat ūüôā

The Seattle Athenaeum

A clue, a hunt … a library. Or Folio: The Seattle Athenaeum, to be exact.

What’s an Athenaeum? I didn’t know I needed to be a part of this community I didn’t know existed – but now I am, and it’s pretty incredible.

Folio Seattle Athenaeum

(Photo was taken after they issued me the membership card.)

Yesterday afternoon, Wilson presented me with a card, which contained a riddle, which led me, after some confusion and guesswork (no, it was not a puppy) to the gorgeous old YMCA building downtown… which is the location of the new Seattle Athenaeum. Totally a nerd gift, I know – but what can I say, the guy knows the way to my heart! I soon learned from¬†my grand tour that an athenaeum is a community¬†where bibliophiles¬†pool their resources (books) so everyone can enjoy them. Apparently the tradition goes back thousands of years (started by the ancient Romans, no surprise), and the first one in the U.S. was begun by Ben Franklin. Seattle’s Athenaeum, which just opened last week, is the 20th in the nation and the first one to open since the late 1800s. Such a cool story and community, right?¬†

One of the reading rooms – I was too distracted by the books to take very many photos.

Browsing the shelves, it was fascinating to see the collections donated by UW professors and community figures (after browsing the books donated by¬†a Classics professor, I feel severely under-read). In addition to being shelved alphabetically by author, the books are also organized by collection, so you can take a glimpse¬†into all¬†the books that shaped the¬†ideas, teaching, and policy of the patron. Definitely not your typical public library. Drinking it all in, I now have the urge to start my own collection and donate it when I’m old and gray. Now I just need to do something of significance so people will actually want my books.

I’m so thrilled to be a part of this community – Wilson really hit it out of the park with such an unexpected, thoughtful surprise! Now I just need to not be in school so I actually have time to read all these books.

 
Read more about the tradition in this article by LitReactor.
Here’s a writeup of the Seattle Athenaeum¬†in SeattleMag.