What have I done?

It’s a question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately.

Between work, school, friends, and all the other things that need to get done, life has gotten stressful. Weekends and national holidays are now devoted to homework. I am more likely to be YouTubing videos of how to derive long-run supply curves than Jimmy Kimmel clips. Yuck, right?

True, I signed up for this, expected it, and even tried to mentally prepare myself – but it’s the constant feeling of being behind I dislike. Behind on reading, homework, being a good girlfriend/friend, chores, and lots of things I can’t think of right now. I enjoy being back in the world of academia, learning, and stretching my mind (I definitely feel it stretching) – but the juggling part, not so much.

I was told in the beginning of my MBA program by current students and alumni that something would have to give, but I can’t let anything go quite that easily — between school, work, and sleep, you will have to pry my ‘friend’ time from my cold, dead fingers! I’ve found that in my new whirlwind life, spending time with friends is an infinitely better mood and energy booster than another cup of coffee could ever be. I always thought I was a procrastinator (hello college), but lately I’ve been trying to get as much work done as I can whenever I have a chance, so when I actually do have social engagements I’m able to go. Result: I am that nerd who takes her backpack everywhere in case there is a 30-minute opportunity to whip out the accounting textbook. Priorities. ūüôā

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A quarter of my life!

ice caves

From our hike to the Big Four Ice Caves last February Рtaken by our good friend (and talented photographer!) Ehssan

I‚Äôve always had an affection for January ‚Äď the calm after the holidays, the time to organize and start new for the year ahead. But the big thing that follows up the New Year is Wilson and I‚Äôs anniversary ‚Äď the 7th, to be exact. Which is crazy ‚Äď time has just flown! And I don‚Äôt feel that old!

Which then leads to some reflection. Like how I’ve spent a quarter of my life with this guy. And how I tiptoed into our relationship all those years ago with so much uncertainty.

When did we go from stealing a quick coffee between class to discussing mortgage payments? His love and support makes being a grownup not-so-scary, and responsibility a little lighter on my shoulders.

Oh what a na√Įve young thing I was ‚Äď if I had known then what I know now, I‚Äôd have strode into this¬†with all the confidence and joy in the world.

New year, new skills

… like learning how to make a gif! (using a meme generator, but still.)

Last year we ushered in 2015 with an impromptu trip out to the Olympic National Forest. This year we didn’t really have the luxury of time (thanks to my academic calendar) so instead we went for a morning snowshoe near Snoqualmie Pass at Lower Gold Creek Basin.2016-01-03 12.47.19

Wilson and I tried snowshoeing for the first time last year, and enjoyed it so much¬†we decided to get them as a¬†gift to ourselves for Christmas. Snowshoes were also conveniently stocked at Costco so we decided to embrace some more Pacific Northwestern outdoorsyness¬†in our lives this year :). It’s been a great year for snow, and I hope we’ll be able to get out more and use them. Anyway- once we got off the main path of the trail (I had no idea snowshoeing was so popular in these parts!) it was a gorgeous walk through the wilderness.2016-01-03 13.19.29

There is something so fascinating and fun¬†about a thick sheet of fresh, untouched snow – and few things as satisfying as tromping through it! I grew up as a snow-deprived kid in southern California, so snow is always exciting and magical. As we were driving out to the trail, we saw¬†thick swaths of snow layered on top of trees, roofs, freeway dividers — everything. It all reminded me of sugary, fluffy frosting (and made me kinda hungry. moving on.)

May the new year be a breath of fresh air and full of sweet possibilities.

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Books in good company

The holiday season has flown by in a blur. Between travel, school, holiday party season, and being in mid-finals mode, it’s been go-go-go around here.With how busy we¬†are this year, I wish the holiday season could be extended so I could relax and enjoy it some more. I would absolutely love to spend an extra week baking cookies, delivering gifts, listening to Christmas music, and basically delighting in the cozyness of the season. We found some¬†time¬†in there¬†to put¬†up our first Christmas tree (yay!), see the Holiday Pops concert, and baaaarely scrape the surface of our shopping¬†list. I’m just trusting it’ll all work itself out!

A few months ago, I gathered a group of girlfriends and started a book club – it was something we’d talked about doing for so long, and we finally decided to set up some guidelines, decide on a meeting date, and start reading! It’s been pretty wonderful – we meet once a month on a Wednesday, drink wine, eat lots of cheese, chat about the book we’re reading (currently Lean In – not cliche at all,¬†but an essential), and catch up on life in general. It’s so lovely¬†to slow down for an evening, curl up¬†on the couch, and discuss¬†our careers, relationships, and and goals. And amid the general craziness of the holiday season, it’s just the thing to help me recenter and¬†be thankful for the little things¬†– like girlfriends, cheese, and good conversation. ūüôā

A rainy visit

Growing up in LA, rainy days were a luxury. Obviously, not so much here. Over¬†the weekend, Helen, my college friend who is a¬†born-and-bred Angeleno, came to visit, and Seattle decided to pour the entire time. Luckily, there’s no better person¬†for it to rain on. Helen insisted her¬†love for rain would not be shattered by experiencing¬†late fall in the Pacific Northwest, despite my many warnings. So Wilson and I¬†gave her a big Seattle welcome and took her hiking in the rain!

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The trail down to the falls. Photo by Wilson

Seattle is gorgeous in any season, and Fall is the perfect time to see soggy foliage, drippy moss, and¬†booming waterfalls. All wonderful qualities¬†of our soggy state. So off we went – probably freezing Helen half to death. We went out to Snoqualmie Falls and Rattlesnake Lake. The falls were booming with all the rain – it was so misty you could barely see the waterfall through it – the rain jackets and umbrellas were a good call. Rattlesnake still hasn’t recovered from the drought this past summer – it looked like a post-apocalyptic no-man’s land. It was also frigidly cold and windy out there – and of course Wilson made us walk out there for a photo-op. (thanks, in hindsight, as always.)

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Rattlesnake Lake – all that is usually covered by water. Photo by Wilson

Aside from the rainy sightseeing though, it was so fun to show Helen around Seattle, stay up late playing board games, and making 1AM grocery runs for snacks. Now I just need to convince her to move here so we can be roommates and it’ll be just like our college days!¬†

A brief clear moment at Gasworks Park. Photo by Wilson.

Welcome to New York!

…I’ve¬†been waiting for you!

With the impending start of school /¬†disappearance of free weekends, Wilson and I have been talking about taking one last vacation. We’ve been wanting to do a New York trip since early last year – we actually meant to go in May but things¬†got hectic and we ended up pushing it off. I had been looking forward to it so much and even went into super-tourist mode and bought a guide book…and then was very sad our¬†trip never happened. So two weeks ago when a flight deal popped up, I pounced.

The view from the Highline

¬†We went this past weekend, and it was¬†absolutely wonderful! The last time I went to New York was in college with a group of friends (realistically, my¬†toddler years as a Brooklynite don’t count), and while we did the hop-on, hop-off tour, a Broadway show, and the Met, it was a short trip and difficult to coordinate what we wanted to do with so many people. This time, with a travel companion willing to do whatever I want to do (Wilson is the best), I went into guide book / excel spreadsheet trip planning mode. (not overboard at all.)

 

My list included:
The New York Public Library – because duh.
Grand Central Station – what were we doing the last time I visited?
The Plaza Hotel – Must see the Palm Court and take a photo with the Eloise portrait!
Central Park – the carousel and the Balto statue
Bemelman’s Bar – where the mural of Madeline lives
Eric Kayser – for many, many tartes citron to relive my Paris days (we went twice)

The New York Public Library

Obviously we did much more, but those were the highlights. I might as well call our trip the New York tour of my childhood literary dreams. And it was amaazing!! The sheer amount of places to see, old friends to catch up with, and things to eat was exhausting – I don’t think we slept earlier than 1am the entire time we were there. And despite¬†maximizing our time, we’ll just have to keep coming back because we only skimmed the surface of all the things we wanted to do. After seeing the lists and recommendations our friends sent, it’s obvious that I’m just going to have¬†to move to NY in order to do it all.

Inside Grand Central

Also – can we just take a moment and marvel at how amazing¬†the Times Square Toys R Us ferris wheel is?! I had no idea it even existed, until my friend¬†insisted we check it out before heading to dinner. My favorite is the Little Tykes scoot along one – so many memories! Unfortunately, we were put in the ET one – one of my few childhood fears – I made sure to sit¬†on the Geoffrey the Giraffe side. ūüėõ Sadly it’s coming down in 2016, so I’m glad I got to catch a ride before it’s replaced by something else!

NYC toys r us ferris wheel

What I (think) I know of New York I’ve read in books and seen on TV¬†–¬†basically a glossed, romanticized Hollywood version. That, and the stories my dad tells of living in not-cleaned-up New York in the late 80s/early 90s (we moved because he was mugged twice – that’s a story for another day).¬†I don’t know what I was expecting, but walking through the East Village, Greenwich Village, Chinatown, Central Park, and the other countless places we went, I found it all to be so surreal. The pretty (and old!) public spaces, brownstones, high-rise apartment buildings, fire escapes, and neighborhood shops¬†— I felt like I was in the middle of a movie set. So I guess I expected something else of the “real” New York, but the real-life version¬†is pretty darn wonderful, and we’ll definitely be going back.

Central Park

Craftiest house on the street

Because of our awesome window decorations!

Most houses on our block go all out for Christmas. Not us – we’re too lazy to put up and take down lights in the cold and rain. And I refuse to fill¬†our garage full of bins and bins of stuff we don’t use. I’m a sucker for cheap and easy seasonal crafts – like my cocktail umbrella wreath and spring vegetable wreath.

This fall, I decided to deviate from the wreath thing. My housemate and I were inspired by the table decor we saw at Crate and Barrel – these¬†black and glitter fold-out silhouettes¬†you can place on a mantel or buffet table. We decided to blow it up a few times, omit the glitter (Wilson has an aversion to glittery decor…my glitter pumpkin goes missing each year), and tape it to¬†the front windows. All it took was¬†a couple of sheets of black posterboard, pencil, an exacto knife, scissors, and tape.
The windows were a royal pain to cut out, but the results are pretty fantastic, right? The neighbors must have thought we were crazy out in the rain on a Tuesday night taking photos of our windows –¬†Halloween decor isn’t huge in our neighborhood, so we’re definitely the most festive looking house on the street. We added some fake spider webs, and now I think it¬†looks pretty fabulous.

The one downside: it’s already¬†October 27th and they’ll be coming down soon!!

UW, here I come!

My summer as a hermit has paid off!

Behold:¬†¬†I am SO RELIEVED that I won’t need to retake the GMAT or reapply next year – both possible outcomes I worried about and wanted to avoid. One summer was enough. But really, Wilson and I need to quit with this putting all our eggs in one basket when it comes to grad school thing – it’s not good for the nerves! I’m so so happy and thrilled to be a part of the UW family, and just a tiny bit apprehensive of¬†how the¬†balance of work, school, and having no free time will all pan out. But we’ll deal with¬†that when it happens — time to celebrate!

The last days of summer – Orcas Island trip

Sunset from the ferry to Orcas Island

With every passing day of September it seems more and more like fall is here to stay. I’m still holding out in packing away my summer clothes in the hopes¬†that it’ll get nice again — stay tuned on that. Luckily, we got to squeeze the last drop out of our summer here last week when my dad and sister visited for a post-Labor Day trip to Orcas Island.

I’ve never been out to the San Juan Islands before, and Orcas was such a beautiful, relaxing place to escape – even though it was only a 1.5 hour drive and 45 minute ferry ride away!¬†It really felt like we were cut off from the world, with shops closing early, a¬†cute¬†little main street, sleepy farmhouses, and¬†lots of trails and shoreline and explore. It’s crazy how even though we’ve lived here for almost 3 years we’ve only explored a fraction of all the things there are to do in the Pacific Northwest. We’ll have to come back and visit all the little islands I didn’t even know existed – oh why does summer have to end?!

Here we are at the top of Mount Constitution – you can see all the way to Mt. Baker, Mt. Rainier, as well as the surrounding islands. Such a gorgeous view!¬†¬†This one’s too funny not to share – we look like such tourists with our camera and guidebook.

A shot of what we were looking at – the snowy peak is Mt. Baker, with some Canadian peaks beyond that:

We hiked down to some of the waterfalls at Moran State Park and made some good use of our Forest Pass – we’re guilty of not taking¬†advantage of it enough despite being surrounded by so many great hiking spots in Seattle.

cascade falls WA

It’s been a pretty great whale watching season, so we went¬†one afternoon and saw 6 orca whales, a humpback whale, lots of seals, and a bald eagle. Unfortunately they all looks like specks in the photos, so just picture a National Geographic photo in your head :). Here we are chilling with Molly on the ferry ride back to the mainland (Wilson repping his Wilson Seahawks shirt as usual). Unfortunately I think the views were lost on her. ūüėõ

Sooo that may or may not be it for the summer – but the Washington State Fair is this weekend and I’m crossing my fingers for some nice weather to go along with my funnel cake!

This fuzzball

It’s national dog day, you say? Not that I ever need an excuse to share more cute photos of Molly, but here’s one from the dog park yesterday:

Molly

Life has been pretty crazy¬†lately, and unfortunately I haven’t been able to take her out as much as I’d like to – she was rewarded for her patience yesterday with a new collar, bully stick, and an exhausting afternoon at the river.

Here’s what Molly and I have been doing a lot of lately – she’s such a lapdog. She just wants to sit in my lap while I study.

Molly studying

No matter how crazy life gets, it’s so nice to come home to a wiggly, licking fluffball¬†who is SO happy you’re home. It’s the little things in life.