The last few weeks have been packed with travel, including trips to San Francisco and San Diego, so I thankfully have had some time to sit down and really enjoy reading. Reading is one of my favorite things to do on trips – even business trips – as I don’t count on airplane wifi to be anything but abysmal even before trying to VPN into my corporate network. Outside of my trips, I unfortunately haven’t had a lot of time to read this month, so this list is pretty short and was all read in the past two weeks. Thanks to Krista at Covering the Bases for the inspiration (read: reminder) to write this post!

Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

I decided to pick this book up after seeing it in Zoe Sugg’s book club list last summer. I read a couple of the other books from her selection, and enjoyed how light and entertaining they were and thought this would be the same. I also wanted to make sure that I read this prior to the upcoming movie adaptation as well, because I tend to be one of those kind of people who like to compare movies to the books they were based upon. Aside from the fact that this was well reviewed and well liked enough to merit a movie adaptation, I didn’t know much about the plot when I turned the first page. Similar to books like “We Were Liars” I think this is the best approach, so I won’t go into too much detail. I enjoyed this read and read it in just over two hours in one sitting. Take that as my review and run with it.

Worth the Wait by Jamie Beck

I mentioned in an earlier post how much I enjoy the idea of Kindle Unlimited. Why wouldn’t a voracious reader like a service that allows unlimited reading for a few dollars a month? Well – in theory that is true, but in practice, a lot of the books that are offered as part of the program are a little ridiculous. I’d be lying if I said I never read a free book that was about Scottish time traveling witches (true story, it was so bad that I can’t even name the book), but every once and a while you run across a good read that just happened to be free. This is the case with “Worth the Wait.” Am I smarter for having read this book? Nope. Did I feel transported to Block Island in the summer time? Yep, absolutely. I loved how this book made me feel as if I were also on summer vacation with the St. James family. It reminded me of childhood summers in Martha’s Vineyard, and I can’t complain about that as it continues to drizzle here in Seattle until June. This was a fun read, that is super similar in feeling to Emily Giffin’s “Something Borrowed”, which made it even more enjoyable and helped me to further pretend to be at the beach and not freezing cold in the Pacific Northwest.

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

Speaking of movie adaptations, this will make the best rom com we’ve seen in a while if it is made into a movie. As a woman who has had a crush on at least a couple of male coworkers, I could totally relate to Lucy Hutton as she slowly realized her feelings for her arch nemesis coworker, Josh. There’s something super fun about having a crush at work, and it was really entertaining to relive those feelings while reading this book. I’m not going to say that I didn’t find Lucy a bit childish throughout the story – Smurf collections? Constant (literal) games? But I’m also not going to say that we don’t all have our quirks either. I will say however that I found myself awake finishing this book at 2am on a work trip after having been up for a grand total of 22 hours straight. Thorne did such a great job of building that “will they/won’t they?” tension that I couldn’t put this book down.

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

It’s 2011. I’m skipping class. I’m sitting in a twin bed in my studio apartment in Lugano, Switzerland in my pajamas. I’m live streaming the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Fairy tales exist. Prince charming is real. Dreams do come true. I decide to get my hair cut like Kate Middleton. I wonder why I didn’t study abroad at St. Andrews…

This book brought me back to that moment. If you know me even a little, you’ll probably know that I’m a little bit in love with all things British. So a novel about an American exchange student falling in love with the heir to the throne while at Oxford, that was loosely based on the real life romance of Will and Kate, is obviously right up my street. I may have read this book while sitting on a beach in San Diego, but I felt as if I were in Oxford with these characters. This month’s book theme must have been “novels that could be a rom com someday” and this one definitely fits that bill. I loved the main characters, but its supporting cast really made the story. Similar to the friends in “Notting Hill” or “Bridget Jones’ Diary” the friends of the main characters added a lot of depth to the story without adding too much fluff. I highly recommend this novel if you’re looking for a bit of escapism in the form of a modern day fairytale.

Currently Reading: The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

I really haven’t had a chance to start this one yet, but it is next up on my Kindle. I’ll let you know how I get on with it next month! What other books do you have to recommend?

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Last weekend I spent some time in San Diego following a quick trip for work. After spending my Saturday in Coronado, pretending to stay at The Del, I had a few hours to kill on Sunday prior to heading to the airport for a late afternoon flight. My hotel was in La Jolla, so I thought I’d take a quick Uber trip to La Jolla Village and La Jolla Cove.

I had a quick lunch at Duke’s, and followed that up with a stroll along La Jolla cove to walk off all of that seafood. I am a huge animal lover, so imagine my delight upon discovering that there were sea lions, seals, and birds everywhere. The sea lions were not at all bothered by the paparazzi line of fellow tourists ogling them and taking pictures. Every time I’ve seen sea lions in my travels, I can’t help but take a moment and just watch them laze about. They remind me so much of my dog! It cracks me up that they love to sunbathe, and don’t like being disturbed while napping (like my parents’ dog). I was so happy to get to see not one, but two pups hanging out with the rest of the adults. I’d like to think that the pup highlighted below was having a good snuggle with its dad.

 

I kept walking along the coast and came to Children’s Cove, where a bunch of seals were sunning themselves on a sandy beach. There is a long sea wall that curves to create the cove, and the waves kept crashing hard enough to soak whoever stood on the end of the wall. It made for some great photos 🙂

 

 

This little guy came and landed on this lifeguard box, and seemed to be keeping an eye on the beaches below. While he took his job seriously, I can’t say that I trust a seagull to keep everyone safe.

 

 

About a mile and a half down from where I started, the shoreline opened up into a mixture of flat stone and sandy beaches. On one of these beaches, I briefly thought a rock was a massive turtle. I sadly was mistaken…

 

 

I loved being able to pass the afternoon just walking around and enjoying the sunshine. This has just made me so excited for summer to come in Seattle, and for more adventures in San Diego in the coming months.

 

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On Wednesday, when asked if I could take a last minute trip to San Diego, my answer was obviously YES (caps lock intended). In my Resolutions post, travel ranked as my number one goal for 2017. While I love, LOVE, Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, I realized that I need to get out and about a bit more. Fast forward to today, Saturday, and my first trip of the year is off to a spectacular start.

 

I have never been to San Diego before, so I spent most of yesterday asking colleagues, Uber drivers, random strangers, etc. for recommendations for what to do this weekend. When I arrived, the Seattle weather had clearly tried to follow me – the quintessential Southern California sun had been replaced with hazy grey clouds – so I didn’t have high hopes for catching up on my Vitamin D absorption while I was here. Imagine my surprise when I woke up this morning, and the forecast of clouds turned into a perfectly sunny day.

 

I made my way from my hotel near the office, down to Coronado on the recommendation of one of my colleagues. They didn’t steer me wrong, as I absolutely loved my time hanging around Hotel del Coronado. I arrived around 11am, and spent a little while exploring the grounds of the hotel, admiring both the Victorian architecture of the hotel as well as the beautiful landscaping.

 

 

 

The hotel has been host to Presidents and celebrities for well over a century, and served as inspiration for Disney World’s Grand Floridian Hotel, which may explain the child-like glee I felt while exploring the grounds. Everything was so beautiful, and so well thought out. The lobby took my breath away, as the contrast between the sunny, bright exterior and the dark, rich interior was very unexpected.

 

 

As I made my way through the lobby, I exited through double doors out into the courtyard. Sets of flamingo pink lawn furniture were shaded by cabanas, set in the midst of lush green grass and gardens filled with palm trees and birds of paradise. I was definitely not in Seattle anymore.

 

 

As I made my way through the hotel, I found myself out at the beach. I didn’t have many plans this weekend, but hanging out at the beach was the one thing I knew I had to do (no matter what the weather was like). This beach experience was quite different than what I can find at home – no rocks, driftwood, or seaweed for as far as the eye could see.

 

 

 

 

 

I came across a bike rental as I walked down the beach, and decided to take a beach cruiser out for the afternoon. I biked a total of 14 miles, taking the Bayshore Bikeway down about 5 miles and back, and then meandered through the residential streets along the golf course, making a mental list of all the homes I’d love to live in along the way.

 

 

After the bike ride, I settled in at the beach-side bar at the hotel, and ordered a Spicy Mojito to sip on in the sun while I read. I passed the time this way – reading, sipping, people watching and sunning – for a few hours until sunset was upon us.

 

 

I frantically took photos of the shore while soaking up those last rays of sunshine. Sandy, salty, and a bit sunburned, I walked away from the surf and back toward the hotel ready to go back to my own hotel for an early night in. I certainly was a bit too windblown and damp from wading in the waves to get the shot I didn’t quite feel appropriately dressed for dinner at any of the beautiful seaside restaurants at The Del. All in all, I feel as though I packed the activities of a whole beach vacation into one day, and am so happy that I was able to take some time to relax in the sun. I can’t wait to come back on my next trip, and would love to stay at The Del next time I’m in San Diego for a weekend!

 


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Photo taken from my old apartment’s terrace on New Year’s 2016.

 

Each new year tends to be the same – make a resolution, keep it briefly, and then forget it even exists. Usually this is because the resolutions I have set have been more or less unpleasant – work out all the time, give up alcohol, stop eating carbs, stop spending money, etc. This year, I’m going to try something new – I’m going to set resolutions of things that I truly will want to do, and then work on achieving the goals to get me there. I hope that by focusing on the end goal, rather than on the unpleasant tasks to get me there, I will remain inspired for a bit longer than the first week of January.

Travel

I didn’t truly take a vacation in 2016. I may have gone to Australia in February, but it was predominantly for work, and I did not give myself much time to truly enjoy the trip. I think that a big reason behind my lack of adventure in 2016 was a focus on and fear of missing out on things at work. I have realized that the work will always be there, and if I do not allow myself the opportunity to recharge, I won’t enjoy it as much as I should. This year, I aim to make up for lost time, and recharge by way of exploring and discovering new places.

I will go to Scotland and or somewhere in the UK.

I will further explore the Pacific Northwest.

I will take a last minute trip.

Create

This year, I want to stick with creating blog posts. I feel that over the past 6 months, I haven’t taken as many photos, or documented my life very well. Given that I want 2017 to be a year to remember, I want to document my travels and adventures here on the blog. Even if I’m not up to much more than my usual day-to-day activities, I live in such a beautiful city, and I should document it more often.

I also want to paint more. I painted a few times in late 2016, and I found it to be so relaxing and fulfilling. I’ll run out of places to hang things, but I’d love to improve my painting skills/technique in 2017.

Hustle

While many of my goals are aimed at ways to relax and recharge, I also want to continue to hustle at work. I’m going to adopt an attitude of “go big, then you can go home”. I want to give my all to my work – with the knowledge that after all the hard work is done, I can fully relax. I have some lofty goals to achieve in this area this year, so I’ll need to put in the hard work to get there.

Physically hustle. I don’t want to list “lose weight” or “work out” as a resolution, because let’s be honest, no one actually fulfills those. I do, however, want to put a bit more effort into moving more, and I think that is an attainable goal. I often feel much better about myself, and much better in my skin when I move – working out, dancing, walking the pup, you name it – so focusing on just doing more of those things would be awesome.

Overall, I want to focus on doing more that will make me feel happy and fulfilled in 2017. What more could a girl ask for? Cheers to a happy and healthy 2017!

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I’ve had this huge canvas under my bed for about three years now. For those three years, I have had the intention of painting something, but never could quite gather up the effort to actually do so. And also, if I’m being honest, I simply didn’t know where to start or what to paint. I was terribly intimidated of throwing some paint on this huge, perfectly white, spotless canvas. What if I made a mistake, or decided against the color palette that I had chosen? It’s not as though you can command-z a stroke of paint; you need to accept what you have and make due with it moving forward. At the risk of being too introspective, this anxiety over making an indelible mark on the canvas is probably related to my tendencies toward perfectionism in life at large.

Despite all of that, I finally decided that enough is enough, and set to painting something this weekend. I’m not sure what exactly I was going for other than the abstract, but I do think it has a slight ikat vibe to it. The canvas went through several iterations, and multiple layers of color. I am actually quite pleased with how it turned out, particularly with the way the colors blended together by using watered down acrylic paint on the last few layers. I had so much fun, I may find myself buying another canvas – and I won’t wait another three years to paint it this time around.

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It is August. IT IS ALREADY AUGUST. Like the rest of this year, time has seemingly flown by this summer. Living in Seattle, one of the best parts about summer is all the light. It doesn’t get dark until after 9pm (earlier in the season, it would still be dusky at nearly 10!), so there is a lot of time available for doing things outdoors. After a busy few weekends, I now have more free time to do more with my weekend. Here’s what I’d like to accomplish over the next few weeks –

  1. Climb every mountain – Well, not every mountain. But I do want to have a “the hills are alive with the sound of music” moment before the gloom sets in. I’ve been in dire need of some time off the grid lately. It is so hard to narrow down exactly where to go, though. I have gone back to favorite trails multiple times, but for some reason haven’t explored new ones as often as I’d like. In the next two months, I’d like to add Lake 22, Snow Lake, Diablo Lake, and Blanca Lake to my “have hiked” list. I may need to hit the treadmill on high incline to prepare though…
  2. Go on a boat – I need to appreciate that I live by the water a bit more often. In my two years since moving from Austin, I haven’t spent very much time out on the sound or on the lake, and that really needs to change. Ferries do not count in accomplishing this goal.
  3. Go wine tasting (again) – I really just want to sip wines in the sunshine. That’s all.
  4. Spend all day outside – This is pretty self explanatory. I want to spend a whole day outside, and not come in until the street lights turn on. Too often I tell myself that I need to clean or “get my life in order” on the weekends. This usually ends with me doing 1.5 loads of laundry and watching about 4.5 hours to television. Not so productive… I need to channel my inner child, ditch being productive and just enjoy the day as much as possible, doing whatever I’d like.

Is there anything I’ve missed?

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Every summer I fall back in love with reading. I remember the thrill and excitement of turning a summer reading list into a big, fresh stack of unread books, and then devouring them one by one. I never failed to be an overachiever where the summer reading list was concerned. Read five books before the first day of school? Pshhh – I’ll read twenty. I’d like to take this moment to thank my parents for enabling my voracious reading habit as a child – it couldn’t have been cheap. I am so thankful for my love of reading today.

 

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After a particularly stressful couple of months with work, there’s nothing quite like taking a bit of a mental summer vacation by picking up a book. Here are a few of the books that I’ve enjoyed so far this summer…

 

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Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson details Lawson’s battle with mental illness. For such a serious topic, Lawson does a brilliant job of making her own unique experience relatable through humor.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah After having a sample of this on my kindle for months, I finally decided that nearly 26,000 positive reviews should not be ignored. I subsequently could not put this down. The Nightingale tells a fictional story of two sisters in Nazi occupied France throughout WWII, and how they coped with and fought against the destruction of their home, family, friends and livelihoods. I enjoyed the suspense that was built by a very character driven plot – you very quickly find yourself rooting for sisters Vianne and Isabelle and I felt for them even long after turning the final page.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr Upon completing The Nightingale, I couldn’t quite leave France. Another very highly rated bestseller happened to share a similar setting, so I picked up All the Light we Cannot See. I am still in the middle of reading this one, as I ended up putting it down for some lighter reading material, but cannot wait to pick it back up.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld As mentioned above, I eventually realized that I needed a bit of a lighter read after having WWII based novels in my hands and on my mind for a while. I was immediately drawn to Eligible because it combined two of my favorite things – Pride and Prejudice and a spoof of The Bachelor. For any fans of the original Pride and Prejudice or retellings like The Lizzie Bennet Diaries should happily flip through the pages of this adaptation. While not my #1 favorite (I’ve read a fair few), I did find Eligible to be a page turner as I eagerly wanted to see how each situation in the original was translated to modern day. Definitely a fun beach read.

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So this post has been sitting in my drafts for like, a month and a half now. I had the best birthday weekend – I dare y’all to try to top it. I had such a great time with my Mom in town, and with my friends by my side. I was spoiled – my friends bought me cupcakes and macarons, and faux tampons that are actually tiny flasks. What more can a 25 year old ask for?

Here are some pictures from my trip…

Sneaky Sneaky…. 

These two Scandal and Weeds nerds found Guillermo Diaz’s doppleganger at Toulouse Petit

Birthday Cake Macarons = <3

Wine tasting at 14 Hands Winery in Yakima

My beautiful Mom taking pictures of the weirdly beautiful terrain in Ellensburg.

We went to a fish hatchery. So. Many. Salmon. So. Many. Trout.

Multnomath Falls.

Let’s pretend this is the top of the falls…

 I never wanted to leave this place.

This little guy and his comrade wanted to join us for birthday Champagne, Smoked Salmon, Brie, and Macarons.

25, but I haven’t outgrown a sly middle finger joke… Excuse me while I adjust my glasses…

I touched this.

This is the exact moment that I got a fever and a cold that lasted a month. #worthit

I spy a sad, and slightly phallic, sea anemone…

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We’re Cute.
After combing through sand for an hour I finally found an intact Sand Dollar. This is basically gold to me… pun intended.

25 and I was so excited for the beach swings in Seaside. I swung by myself for a solid 15 minutes. Not ashamed.

I was 2 for 2 on weekends that included Sea Lions for a little while.

Cape Disappointment. Didn’t live up to its name. It was pretty cool.

Modern Hike Documentation. 

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please, please, please pay attention to that fabulous sea lion in the back. 

I know that most people don’t find work travel to be all that exciting or glamorous, but I just came back home to Seattle from SUCH a fun trip to San Francisco. I was sent there for two days for work with a few of my good friends, and tacked on an extra day for sight seeing, and loved just about every minute of it. I just wish I had more time to spend there!

I have a bit of a history with quick trips to San Francisco – as my only other time visiting the city lasted less than 48 hours in 2012 for a job interview. Even with such brevity as 48 hours then, and 72 hours now, it is totally possible to have an amazing time in this city. Here are a few things from each of my quick trips to SF…

On a semi unrelated note – comparing photos from two different trips, two years apart from each other, is really interesting. It is so cool to see how much I have grown as far as my camera skills are concerned. I hesitate to say “photography” because I can’t take myself that seriously…

2012:

After spending most of the day having brunch and generally bopping around with one of my friends in the city, I took one of the famous trolleys up to Lombard Street. This was not without a fair bit of hill climbing on my own, though. I knew I had to check out the world’s most crooked street, as my Great Aunt said that is was one of her favorite things in SF when she had visited more than 20 years ago. I would love to live along side such a crazy street, especially since it is filled with Hydrangeas.

From Lombard Street, I made my descent to the water, and caught an amazing view of Alcatraz at sunset. The fog was beginning to roll in, and was breath taking. Coming from Texas, where everything is dry and flat, it was amazing to see how different this city was from Austin.

I’m not sure why this photo is so washed out – I really don’t remember making that editing decision – but for the sake of posterity and comparison, it stays. I made my way down to Pier 39 to check out the Sea Lions and fell in love. They are the weirdest and most wonderful combination of the mermaid version of cats and puppies, and I cannot say how much I love them.

2015:

This time around, I had a bit more time to spend, so I was able to fit in some more than just a very steep walk. On Thursday, my friends and I walked over 10 miles; usually this would be awesome, but I sprained my ankle last week, so it was a bit of a struggle that ended in a very ugly ankle. It was totally worth it though. We walked through Chinatown, went to the Ferry building and had the most AMAZING ice cream ever, and had a delicious seafood dinner at Scoma’s. Friday was all work, and then some play with friends for dinner and drinks. I met up with the same friend that I hung out with in 2012, and literally ran into a friend from Austin in a bar. For as big as the world is, it sure can be small…

Saturday was the day, though. We woke up, went to brunch, and then set sail on a Catamaran to tour the harbor. This is by far my favorite part of the trip. I found Adventure Cat tours online, and would recommend it to anyone who loves chill, classy times. What is better than Cali wine, Jazz, Sailing, and beautiful views? Nothing, that’s what.

Fun fact: I bought the exact same style of Minnetonka moccasins on my last trip to SF. Both times, I was wearing inappropriate shoes for the amount of walking I’d be doing. I had been waiting to replace my old pair for some reason, and now I know why…. Even with such comfy shoes, kicking my feet up on the cruise was utter bliss. 

We all let everyone else do the hard work.

The weather was perfect for us, but the storm clouds rolling in didn’t bode well for the later cruise…

I would want in on that cuddle, but I cannot unsee the things that these guys were laying in… ew.
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