Travel Tuesdays – Seattle Sweet Treats

Now where did we leave off with our travel series?  Ah yes, Seattle Part 1 with a trip to Pike Place Market, the University of Washington, Chinatown, and Bainbridge Island.  But really a trip to Seattle isn’t complete without some tasty eats, right?  While we didn’t get a chance to sip on the chowder, or even some salmon, we did make sure to have our fair share of chocolate and ice cream.

A fun little fact about Seattle is that it is home to one of the tastiest chocolates in the west – Theo Chocolate.  Sure, sure, there’s the Ghiradelli debate, so let’s just say best chocolate in the Pacific Northwest.

IMG_6067

Theo actually has it’s one and only factory in the Seattle area and leads tours 7 days a week.  Besides our Underground Tour of the Seattle streets, this might have been one of the most educational parts of our trip.

IMG_6064

Here you learn a bit more of the history of cacao and the story of Theo Chocolate itself.  While you learn about the social and environmental issues surrounding the delectable treat, you will also get to taste some of the company’s favorites.  I mean, a little chocolate to help pass the time?  Yes please.

theo chocolate tour

For those of you interested in chocolate, a trip to the Theo factory is a MUST.  Hey, if you are in town for some time, you might be able to take a class or two from the chocolate university.  Fancy, huh?

IMG_6023

Theo Chocolate
3400 Phinney Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103
(Note: You will have to wear a hair net, make sure to wear closed toe shoes, and don’t wear any perfume as it might waft into the chocolate.  Chanel 5 may smell great, but I doubt it tastes very good)

So we may not have been very smart when we started our day with a chocolate tour (or were we?).  In order to not melt into a sugar coma, we traveled along to find some hearty lunch at Plum Bistro.  Now you read any further, just believe me when I say it was delicious and this isn’t any pull for the restaurant or any diet fad.  Do you believe me?  Are you still reading?  OK, it was a vegan restaurant.

seattle vegan restaurant

Mama Africa Salad : Mixed greens, seasonal fruit, quinoa+millet mix, tempeh, avocado, chopped almonds, lemon vinagrette, side of mustard aioli (G/F – $9)

Plenty of healthy options with fresh flavors.  Don’t let the term “vegan” scare you away :)  If I hadn’t gone for the salad, the pesto grilled cheese, or rustic pizza sounded like viable choices.

Plum Bistro
1429 12th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122

 To follow up on something with faux meat and faux cheese, one might be in the market for some ice cream.  I mean, calcium is important in one’s diet and if you don’t have a lactose-allergy, by all means, load up!  So, if you ask anyone from the Seattle area, where to go, they will most definitely direct you towards Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream.   Known for its seasonal ice creams with local flavors, it’s quite the spot to go.

molly moon ice cream

Visiting their cute little store is a treat in itself and just like at Disneyland’s Main Street, you can watch them mold the waffle cones right then and there!  Although I’m not much of an expert, I would definitely rank their waffle cones as some of the best, especially if hot off the iron.

~ FLAVORS ~
~ vanilla ~ melted chocolate ~ strawberry ~ balsamic strawberry ~ salted caramel ~ stumptown coffee ~ maple walnut ~ “scout” mint ~ honey lavendar ~ earl grey ~

To learn more about their methods and ways, check out their gem of a blog here.

* SEASONAL *
* watermelon sorbet * vegan coconut chunk * ginger * wild honey *

IMG_6026“Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.” ~Ernestine Ulmer

Hiking the Appalachian Trail

There’s something powerful in the statement “I hiked part of the Appalachian Trail.”  While I didn’t complete more than 8 or 9 miles, it’s still something to accomplish and helped me get the outdoorsy bug out of my system for a few weeks.

Being cooped up in the city can be tough at times, especially when it means being cooped up at a desk all day.  But, then I realize that my office is right outside one of the greatest parts of the city – Central Park.  I really should make use of that location more often.

But onto more important things.  Like hiking the APPALACHIAN TRAIL! Yes, I said that already.  The idea started with a friend of a friend who mentioned she was going hiking that weekend.  Well yes please! I could use some fresh air and an excuse to exercise more.

IMG_6042

We met on a Saturday morning around 8am at the Port Authority Bus terminal.
Transit: Shortline bus from Port Authority to Southfields
Cost: $24.50 ROUNDTRIP with hiker discount. *tickets purchased at Port Authority with cash or debit card ONLY
appalachian trail - 2

Stretching over 2,200 miles, the Appalachian Trail (AT) extends from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine.  The trail is so long that it passes through 14 different states! {Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine}

The AT is a part of the Triple Crown of long distance hiking, which also includes the Continental Divide Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail.  Chances that I complete the Triple Crown or even the entire one of these trails like Wild are slim.  But hey, I’ve hiked some!

appalachian trail - 1The hike we decided to embark on was the Island Pond and Lemon Squeezer Loop (AT), lasting about 7.5 miles (~8.8 according to Laura’s watch, but that included the trip to/from the trailhead)

appalachian trail - 3^^ just look at the leaves starting to transform into their fall hues.   The center picture where you see a few people squeezing through the boulders is aptly named “Lemon Squeezer” and famous enough to make it in the title of the hike.

IMG_6062It was only about 8.8 but oodles of fun.  Lucky for us there are plans in the works for another grand adventure this weekend!  Just in time for the end of the warm summer days and the beginning of fall.

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity…”
― John Muir

Arlington and Traveling in Our Nation’s Capital

What’s great about Potomac, MD is that it’s just a short drive from the main hub of D.C.  Each part of the weekend, we spent some time down there, but would drive back home for dinner and meet up with some other family friends.

~ DAY 2 ~

The second day of our trip started down at Arlington National Cemetery.  My great-grandfather was involved in the armed forces and so visiting such an honorable place often holds a bit more meaning for my family.  We spent some time walking amongst the thousands of graves before taking the bus tour and my heart went out to the family and friends who lost their loved ones.

IMG_6104IMG_6131

IMG_6113IMG_6114A veteran’s group performing a tribute in front of the Tomb of the Unknown. 

IMG_6118 IMG_6130

“The energy – the faith – the devotion which we bring to the endeavor will light our country and all who serve it and the glow from that fire can truly light the world” – @ Arlington National Cemetery (JFK Memorial) 

Later in the afternoon, we met up with a retired professor, who specialized in what seemed to be every piece of American history.  The conversation started surrounding the Arlington cemetery, it’s creation and uses, and later expanded into the Civil War, the history of Washington D.C. and more.  I swear, my grandma and I could have sat outside that pub for hours in gorgeous afternoon and listen to him speak.  I especially loved seeing her so engaged in the conversation and throwing all these fabulous facts out about our nation’s history.

IMG_6111Did you know that the Lincoln Memorial was once going to be placed around 16th street because he was the 16th president?  Well, plans changed mostly due to the symbolic meaning of the current location.  Most importantly, it’s at the foot of the Lee Mansion and having Lincoln look over Lee’s property for eternity to come, was almost a dig at the Lee family.  They had lost their property to the Union during the war, but would be forever reminded by the location of the Lincoln Memorial, just across the bridge.

~ DAY 3 ~

On Sunday we took a trip down to the canal and Potomac River, where I ran for the first time in a few weeks (thank you plantar fasciitis) and Nance and Joan went for a stroll.

IMG_6333

I was in love with the dirt path and nature all around me – enough to unplug my iphone and run simply to the sound of the water and the conversations of people passing by.  We showered and brunched at a local Irish spot and then it was off to the airport.  I’m pretty pooped out from flying, or rather unreliable airports.  Even though I was set to depart at 5:20, my plane encountered two delays, which left me in the airport for about 4 hours longer than planned.  Ah well, we can’t win it all.  But, I am truly blessed to have such wonderful and inspirational family to look up to and travel with.

IMG_6077

“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” – Abraham Lincoln

One Marvelous Adventure to D.C.

This past weekend I took a trip south to stay near our nation’s capitol.  There, I met up with my grandmother and her family friends for some fabulous adventures, excellent site-seeing, and tasty eats.  Even though I knew we were staying in Potomac, I somehow told people I was staying in Alexandria.  Where I came up with Alexandria, I have no idea but seeing as it was a bit far to the capitol, I had to save the November Project for a separate trip.

My mom had actually grown up in the area and so for years I had heard stories about the town and their home.  Finally I was able to piece it all together and loved seeing my grandma’s face light up as she recalled different memories and hilarious stories.

IMG_6331The first and last time that I had visited these family friends was when I was just over 2 years old and had been traveling back from living in England.  Here’s a little then and now picture.  Ok, we all know that throwback pictures are always cuter :)

~ DAY 1 ~

IMG_6073 IMG_6075good friends in front of the capitol ^^ below, it looks like they are trying to copy the Louvre, no?

IMG_6079can you spot one of the newest museums in town?  the NEWSEUM!  something I will certainly check out on my next trip to town :)

IMG_6080our point of destination – the national gallery of art

IMG_6081 so artsy, I know

IMG_6332 our main goal was to visit the Degas/Cassat exhibit, which was only going to be open until early October!  It highlighted the relationship between the two impressionist artists and the impact they had on one another’s art and the movement.  I much prefer impressionist art to anything else, so I was one happy camper.

IMG_6084 IMG_6078

IMG_6088

After a couple hours of education, we drove out of the main center and up into Georgetown.  There we spent some time shopping and gawking at the people in line for the iphone 6.

IMG_6091While there are plenty of wonderful shops on the main drive, we did the most damage at Vineyard Vines.  There, I was proud to pick out my first pieces of whale clothing and they may be the only thing I’m looking forward to about winter.  Oh, and I swear, if any man dressed in Vineyard Vines (got to love those patterns) comes up to me, I’m sold. ;)

IMG_6328Joan insisted that I take a picture in front of the famous canal – the same canal that we were walk along on Sunday morning. This reminds me of when I was in Amsterdam and took a picture in front of their canals.

IMG_6094 IMG_6100the school my grandmother attended in the 4th and 5th grade!  Back then it was named the Hardy School and has since changed hands, but the structure remains the same.

IMG_6098

After a day of travel, we were ready to dig in.  Of course, now that I write that sentence, I’m completely ready for a juice detox (and I NEVER say that).  Anyhoo, off to the famous Peking Restaurant for some gourmet Chinese food.  I let our hosts handle the ordering and we ended up with more than enough beef, pork, and noodles to last us for days.

IMG_6301

Their claim to fame is the Peking Duck, which is carved right at your table.  Nancy and I were not really in the mood for some duck, but maybe another time.  With full bellies, we drove back home for some baseball and a good night’s sleep.  Day one complete and ready for more marvelous adventures anon!

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
― Ernest Hemingway

September Life of Late

Day in, day out and here we are with another work week complete.  I’m currently off to explore Washington D.C. with my grandma and possibly run into some of my buddies along the way.  Sure, there’s way too much to accomplish in only three days, so I already have hopes of traveling out a couple more times.  Between friends studying abroad and friends out of town and oh this little thing called November Project – D.C. chapter.

So, while I’m exploring, here’s some more recaps of late summer and early fall in the beautiful New York City.

IMG_5861Waking up for a sunrise and a bit of teamwork with the local November Project chapter. Possibly one of my favorite photos taken by the DC chapter’s CanofSpaghetti.  Check out his epic snapshots of their tribe members working out across the city.

IMG_5868More work perks.  One of the campaigns that I run is the advertising for Redd’s Apple Ale on Funny Or Die.  Their mega campaign is currently surrounding the Oddball Comedy Festival and we had the opportunity to attend the kickoff show out in New Jersey.  Sarah Silverman and Louis C.K. were definitely a couple of my favorites!

Eataly with AshfordsWho can pass up Italian food?  I usually am not one to gravitate towards pasta and pizza but oh yes please.  Their dough and cheese combination is to die for.

IMG_5936Yoga in Bryant Park

IMG_5888Brunching at the Bluebell Cafe ~ Noteworthy Brioche French Toast with Berry Compote and Lemon Curd ($10)

Bluebell Cafe
293 Third Avenue (between 22nd and 23rd Streets)  •  New York, NY 10010
*Like any popular brunch spot, it’s best to arrive early and with all your party members :)

IMG_5815

Checking out the Yankees and watching Jeter play in his last season.  Although the people-watching was almost as good (if not better) than the game itself. Yankees were tanking…

IMG_5808

My boss happened to be giving away a pair of tickets for a random weeknight game.  Who could pass up free field-level tickets??

IMG_5802Back to my running days around Central Park.  It’s one of my favorite places in the city and I sure am at my happiest when I’m all healthy and running around with that view.  For the time, New York has stolen my heart.

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”  – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 

Some Perks of Work

We may not have endless massages or gourmet food on every corner, but I like to think my job has its perks.  There’s the occasional yoga, kickboxing, and pilates class.  We happen to work right outside Central Park (who could argue with this view?).  Oh, and there are tons of lunch and learns and other activities put on through our parent company, which means learning yes, but free food = better.  With the amount of money from my paycheck that goes to my rent, I live for the free, and often gourmet, lunches.

Williams Sonoma Kitchen - Test

One of my recent favorites was a end of summer grilling tutorial at Williams-Sonoma.  I still stand by the fact that summer is not over until September 28th! So, let the grilling and fruit festivities continue in full force.

When we first arrived, we were greeted with a small cup of mint-limeade granita and a slice of festive flatbread (w/ burrata & figs)

Fig Flatbread

Next up was a tutorial on how to de-backbone a chicken and use a cooking stone.  One could use a stone or brick (cleaned and covered in foil of course) or even the backside of a cast iron skillet.

Williams Sonoma CookHere we have our head chef teaching us how to take the backbone out of the chicken.  Looks fun, right?

While we were listening and learning, we were handed plates of pre-prepared chicken and roasted vegetables to munch on.  Then, a meal would not be complete without some dessert.

Williams Sonoma FoodOn the right was a mighty fine piece of lavender pound cake, topped with berries and vanilla ice cream.  I love how she brushed the cake with some olive oil and threw it on the grew for extra crunch (and flare).

After leaving with a full belly (and ever so ready for a nap…too bad we don’t have napping cubes like Google) I was inspired to check out other cooking classes offered in the city, especially if it comes with a meal as tasty as this :)

“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients” – Julia Child