2016

2016 was a roller coaster. There were many highs (my promotion) and just as many lows (my toxic relationship with T). But overall, it was a good year. A year of growth, personally and professionally. Before I welcome 2017, let me reflect on all that happened in 2016…

I furnished my place…

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I received two awards at work: employee of the quarter and team of the quarter. Also got promoted! 💵 😁

I traveled to…

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I completed some amazing hikes…

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I cooked up some new recipes and made some oldies but goodies…

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Looking back, I really can’t complain. It’s been a good year and I look forward to even bigger and better things in 2017. Bring it on beeeeetches!

xoxo, kc

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I Left My Heart In Seattle

For b‘s vacation before lactation (credit: g), I suggested Seattle. I could not think of a better place for a quick girls getaway. Thankfully, my suggestion was warmly welcomed! I was so so so exited to show them why I loved Seattle so much. And in true kc fashion, I detailed planned our trip, by the hour, in an excel spreadsheet. That’s how I do.

b had a few requests, which were happily obliged:

  • Sushi Kashiba (at sushi bar)
  • Chihuly Garden and Glass
  • Hike

We arrived in Seattle late Wed night and tried to make it to Toulouse Petit for a late night snack. Unfortunately, they had already made their last call for food so we walked down the street to Mecca Cafe. We legit demolished their corned beef hash and chicken fried steak. When it’s 1am, you’re super hungry, and you find yourself in Lower Queen Anne, head to Mecca!

After our first pig out of the trip, we headed to Gas Works Park, my favorite spot to see the Seattle skyline, especially at night.

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absolutely gorgeous

By the time we checked into our AirBnB in the Fremont neighborhood, it was almost 3am! We settled in right away and knocked out. The cozy, affordable studio was just perfect for the three of us. I would highly recommend and would definitely stay there again.

We started the next day with coffee at a local coffee shop before heading to the Fremont Troll. Yes, it’s touristy, but it’s just something you have to see!

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selfie inception game strong

After the troll, we stopped by Paseo for some sandwiches. Paseo has always been my top recommendation for anyone vising Seattle. The prawn and scallop sammies were so freakin’ delicious! In the days leading up to the trip, I craved them. I dreamt about them. There might have been some drooling involved. But when I actually got my hands on the sandwiches, I was disappointed. The prawn was overly salty. Almost to the point where I didn’t want to finish it. There was also less meat than I remembered. I thought Paseo was pretty generous before, but this time around, I got more lettuce and sauteed onions than anything else. Hopefully this was just an off day…

To work off our lunch, we rented kayaks and paddled out to Lake Union. I absolutely love water sports so this is one of my favorite activities in Seattle.

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One of b‘s requests was to eat at the sushi bar of Sushi Kashiba. Reservations aren’t offered for the sushi bar so in order to secure a seat, I booked a reservation at 5:00pm, right when the restaurant opens. But being natural laggers and not accounting for the terrible parking sitch at Pike Place, we got there around 5:15pm and the sushi bar was already full. Luckily, we were told that the second seating for the sushi bar would start around 7pm so we had to option of either sitting at a regular table right away or waiting for the sushi bar. Of course we chose the latter.

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I’ve never had omakase before and I’m so glad my first time was at Sushi Kashiba. The fish was so fresh, the selection and progression was perfect for my tastes, the service was outstanding, and to top everything off, this delicious meal + sake was only $120! What a steal!

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aahhhhmazing

The last piece was blue-fin collar, my favorite of the whole meal. Talk about saving the best for last!

We followed up an amazing dinner with an amazing sunset down at the waterfront.

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The next day, we started with a quick visit to Snoqualmie Falls. It’s been 7 years or so since I last visited and there must have been some renovations because I remember the lookout point very differently.

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We then proceeded to the highlight of our trip, an 8 mile hike, or in this case, more like strategic walking on jagged rocks.

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If it wasn’t for the rocks, I would classify the hike as moderate

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The view was definitely worth it. All the pain, the exhaustion, the hunger, the thirst. EVERYTHING. Our only regret was not starting sooner so we could play in the water.

By the time we started heading back to the trailhead, it was already late. We hauled ass so we could make it home in time to get ready for a night out. Our poor feet.

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The promoter that g was talking to told us that we had to be at the club by 11pm, otherwise, there would be a really long wait. Well, we got there at 10:50pm (which btw we’ve probably never done, like ever) and it was COMPLETELY EMPTY. Not one single soul. So we just took a few shots and went to the lounge next door to drink some more.

Best. Decision. Ever.

It was so much more fun! One of the funnest nights I’ve had in a long while. Best part of the night? Witnessing a former male stripper twerk in a handstand. WOW.

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my loves

The next day, we ended the trip with a visit to Chihuly Glass and Garden, as b requested. And of course, we couldn’t leave without indulging in oysters!

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10 years ago, Seattle was just this mysterious place that was known to be rainy and depressing and the only significance it had was that he lived there. Seattle now has my heart for completely different reasons than it initially did, and I have all the wonderful memories from my numerous visits in the past 10 years to thank. From living in a treehouse to kayaking Lake Union to taking in the beauty of Mt. Rainier as I hit mile 10 of my first marathon, Seattle will always have a special place in my heart.

…Won’t You Pack Your Bags, We’ll Leave Tonight!

(…continued from my last post)

I first read about Treehouse Point in Budget Travel’s article: A Treehouse Adventure. It was absolutely perfect timing since I was in the midst of planning our Pacific Northwest adventure. I was so intrigued about living in an actual treehouse, I knew it had to be part of my itinerary. So, Treehouse Point was our next stop after Mt. Rainier.

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Treehouse Point is located in Issaquah, Washington, about 30 minutes east of Seattle. When I stayed at Treehouse Point, there were 2 treehouses (Temple of the Blue Moon and Trillium), the main house, and a tent. Everything was constructed by Pete Nelson aka “the treehouse guy”; he also wrote the book, “New Treehouses of the World”. We stayed in the Temple of the Blue Moon, the most popular choice by couples I would assume. To get to the treehouse, you have to cross this swaying bridge, which was kind of scary no matter what time of day it was. Inside the treehouse, there was a big comfortable bed, a small sitting area and an armoire that supplied music (from ipod) and clean linens. There was also a side door that led out to a porch area. For the most part, I had a good time living in the treehouse, but there were a couple of “issues”. One issue was that the windows did not have any screens to keep bugs out. I mean, I get it… treehouse = living with nature, but it just doesn’t make sense to me to build such a nice “luxury” treehouse, but not pay attention to such details as insect proofing. If I wanted to live freely with bugs, I would just go camping. Also, there was a small (shared) bathroom located outside of the treehouse, which ultimately wasn’t that big of a deal since it does make most sense for the bathrooms to be outside; I just didn’t realize beforehand how inconvenient this would be. Continental breakfast was included with our stay, but the selection was very minimal. However, the pastries that Pete’s wife made were very delicious!

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Since we were in the area, of course we had to check out another waterfall! Snoqualmie Falls was beautiful from the observation deck, but we decided to also hike down to the river to get a different view. I love waterfalls 🙂

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Growing up, I was fascinated with planes … So, of course I made a trip to the Museum of Flight during our time in Washington.

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Great exhibits, lots of material to cover, fun simulators – I loved the Museum of Flight! We drove into Seattle afterward and explored the Pioneer Square and International District area. While walking to Green Leaf Vietnamese Restaurant for dinner, I swear I witnessed a drug deal going down. Um, sketchy area.

The next day we explored downtown Seattle before taking a stroll around Green Lake Park. I was surprised by the amount of people outside during the day – I would love to be able to exercise around Green Lake Park everyday since the scenery is so soothing and calming and it is the perfect distance, about 3 miles around. There are so many activities you can do: running/walking, biking, skating, swimming and boating (you can rent pedal boats and canoes).

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Being so entranced by Green Lake Park, I was ecstatic that I was going to be living across the street! We stayed in the Greenlake Room of the Greenlake Guesthouse. This was definitely one of the best B&B’s I’ve ever stayed at. Everything you needed was either in your room or just a few steps outside your room. The bed was so comfortable, it was hard to get out of bed in the morning and we definitely used the jacuzzi tub in our bathroom every night. The large bookcase in the hallway held a wide array of DVDs and there was a mini fridge on the other side stocked with water and drinks (genius!). Breakfast was light, yet filling and pastries and fruit were available all day in case you needed a snack.

Seattle is breathtakingly beautiful and it was such a pleasure to walk around its most popular areas. Yes, Pike Place Market is very crowded and touristy, but there are so many great food shops. I bought some cheesecakes from Confectional and a few bottles of flavored olive oil from Sotto Voce. I had clam chowder with a crab roll at Pike Place Chowder and for dessert, I had gelato at Bottega Italiano. I also got a front row view of the fish tossing, which to me is synonymous with Pike Place Market. Too bad I couldn’t get a clear picture of the fish in the air!

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I also visited the Seattle Public Library because I heard so much about its architecture and interior decor. I walked to the library from Pike Place Market because on the map, it didn’t look too far away, but the map wasn’t detailed enough to tell me that I would be walking UPHILL for about 5 blocks! I guess the sweat was worth it because the library was amazing! Bonus: padded seats near bookshelves. I wish the libraries I went to when I was younger had these.

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I had two last minute changes to our intinerary: dinner at Art of the Table and a sunset kayak tour with Alki Kayak Tours. Being that these were last minute additions, it’s funny how these two events became the highlights of our trip! Definitely meant to be, right?

Art of the Table, home of the “weekend supper club”, is located in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle. The supper club is an intimate dining experience, with seating for about only 18 people. There were several tables for 2, a couple for 4 and one large table that seated 6. The kitchen was open for anyone to walk through to the backyard garden or to take pictures of Chef Dustin Ronspies working his magic (like I did). Before dinner, Chef Ronspies provided us with a brief introduction about himself, his background and his passion for using fresh and local ingredients. Most of his supper clubs are themed and when I dined, it was all about the Mediterrenean. As we began each course, he shared the inspiration behind the dish. It was fascinating to hear his stories of traveling the world, especially since they revolved around food. I thoroughly enjoyed the meal, from beginning to end. Everything was so fresh and delicious, but the one thing that stood out the most was the saffron ice cream. WOW! Talk about save the best for last.

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I usually don’t like booking “tours”, which was why I didn’t initially sign up for the sunset kayak tour with Alki Kayak Tours. I’ve always thought of tours as being too expensive for something you could do yourself for free, with a little bit of research. But I couldn’t get the image of the Seattle skyline during sunset out of my head so I bit my lip and reserved our spots only 2 days in advance. I’m sure glad I did because how can you say no to this?

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Doesn’t Seattle look so beautiful at night?

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I love how the lights reflect against the water 🙂

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Seattle Eats & Drinks (+my verdict):
Mr. Gyros, 4/5
Canlis, 3/5
Bottega Italiano, 3/5
Paseo, 5/5
Art of the Table, 5/5
The Confectional, 5/5
Pike Place Chowder, 3/5
Cafe Presse, 4/5
——–

This was such a wonderful trip. I can’t wait to go back.

I’ve Got Two Tickets To Paradise…

It was our 40 month anniversary yesterday. I know, it’s silly to keep track like this, but it’s nice to know that we are still madly in love with each other! Looking back on our relationship, my fondest memories revolve around all of our trips together. We’ve taken one big trip every year and each year has certainly topped the last. I’m in the planning stages for this year’s trip!

Last year, we had quite an adventure in the Pacific Northwest. Absolutely beautiful. We started off in Portland and made our way to Seattle, stopping at Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier along the way.

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We arrived in Portland at about 10PM at night and we took a taxi to our “hotel”. The Kennedy School is an old elementary school that McMenamins renovated into a hotel. Most of the original classrooms were split into two guestrooms with a bathroom added in each room. Besides this, the look and feel of the school were pretty much kept intact. Chalkboards, perhaps original, wrapped around the guestrooms and there were white water fountains in the hallways. Memorabilia of the school and of those times decorated the walls. Other classrooms were turned into bars/lounges with incredibly cute names: The Honors Bar, The Detention Bar, etc. It was truly a unique experience to stay at The Kennedy School!

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We decided not to rent a car at the airport since it was ridiculously expensive! We saved a lot of money by renting from a non-airport location instead and since it was located within 5 miles of our place, we were able to get free pick up service. Most of our first full day was designated to sightseeing and eating. As you can see, it was a really warm day.

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The main reason we stayed in Portland was because we wanted to go white water rafting. There are many rafting outfitters around Washington and Oregon and we decided on Wet Planet, which is located near Hood River, Oregon, approximately an hour and 15 min drive from Portland (scenic drive). It was our first time river rafting and our guide, Sara, did a great job of making sure we were all having fun while keeping us safe. The trip was about 8 miles total, with rapids classified as class III-IV (solid class IV fall known as “Husum Falls” – 10′ vertical drop). I was a little nervous for Henry because I know he’s not the best swimmer (he almost drowned in Hawaii – that’s another story for another time), but good thing we all survived; no one in our 6 person raft fell overboard into the water, not even when we went down Husum Falls!

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On our way back from rafting, we stopped at Multnomah Falls. This would be our first waterfall of the trip 🙂 If we had more time, I would have liked to hike the trails around the falls.

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Portland Eats & Drinks (+my verdict):
Mother’s Bistro & Bar, 4/5
Coffeehouse Northwest, 4/5
Toro Bravo, 4/5
The Screen Door, 4/5
Voodoo Donut, 3/5
Pambiche, 4/5
——–

The next part of our trip was definitely my favorite! We drove up to Mt. St. Helens and hiked through the lava cave and then we drove to Mt. Rainier and stayed there a few days.

The lava cave (Ape Cave) was really fun and really scary at the same time. It was mostly an easy-moderate hike, with the difficulty being the huge rocks that you have to climb over as well as the 9 foot wall you have to climb up. If you are claustrophobic or scared of the dark, Ape Cave is totally not for you. As we were hiking through the upper passage of Ape Cave, I actually had thoughts of being trapped underground or being attacked by.. ghosts (yes, ghosts), but I quickly calmed myself down and thought of something else. I found comfort in hearing the voices of other groups – perhaps its the “at least I’m not going to die alone down here” rationalization. The upper passage of Ape Cave is 1 1/4 miles and took about 2 and a half hours to explore. We spent about another hour to hike the mile long trail above ground that took us back to the entrance of the cave.

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I originally planned to drive to the Johnston Ridge Observatory for a great view of Mt. St. Helens, but we just didn’t have enough time since we still had to make a 3 hour drive to Mt. Rainier. We picked up some groceries before we headed to Almost Paradise Lodging, our home for the next few days. This place is absolutely fantastic! Everything was clean and I felt right at home. Our fridge was stocked everyday with a complementary continental breakfast basket during our stay. The jacuzzi right outside definitely helped us relax after a long day of hiking. At night, all we could see were the faint lines of the trees that blended in with the black sky and the bright stars sprinkled throughout. Amazing…

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We technically only had one full day to explore Mt. Rainier, which was really sad since it is such a beautiful place. For our full day, we did a 4 mile hike on the Paradise River/Narada Falls trail. We started at Cougar Rock and ended at the Henry M. Jackson Visitor’s Center in Paradise, for a total elevation gain of 2,000ft (good hiking condition is required). It was a little difficult to find the trailhead, but luckily we were able to follow people that were headed the same way.

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We took a lunch break to eat our cole slaw turkey sandwiches at Carter Falls. As we continued along, we passed by Madcap Falls and about 2 miles later, we reached the famous Narada Falls. You can technically take the Paradise shuttle and get dropped off here, but come on, we are no weaklings! It wasn’t enough to just view the falls from the top, we decided to climb down towards the flowing river to get a different view of the falls. BEAUTIFUL. After Narada Falls, Paradise was only a mile away. Even though it was late July, snow still scattered the ground (especially as we neared Paradise). I had some difficulty getting up a hill because it was blanketed with snow and my hiking shoes didn’t provide enough grip/traction. We didn’t have that much time to explore the Paradise area since the shuttle arrived about 15 minutes after we arrived.

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The next day, we were able to hike a half day before heading up to the Seattle area.

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More waterfalls!!

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(to be continued…)