My trip to Seattle

Back in February, after little deliberation, my boyfriend and I planned a trip to Washington state for June. I had one thing on my mind, and it was graduating college and immediately leaving for the trip the next day. It acted as my motivation for months. Turns out it wasn’t the best idea I’ve ever had. The trip was great, the timing could have been better.

I am terrified of flying. I don’t have any reason to be, I’ve flown before with no issue, but in recent years the fear has escalated. So, I had to figure out a way to get to Washington (because I was not ready to face my fears) any way I could without flying in a plane. We chose to take the Amtrak Empire Builder from Chicago Union Station allllllll the way to Seattle, a 47-hour trip. This was not my boyfriend’s idea, he’s great for agreeing to it.

While planning, I thought of it as an adventure. NO. BIG. DEAL. We bought coach seats for around $300 roundtrip, about what we would have payed with roundtrip airfare, and, well, you can read my review of the train ride here.

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We did survive the train ride. We had some awesome views to get us through it, but not until Montana. The food was overpriced and bad. Okay, I’m done.

The morning we finally arrived, Seattle graced us with its lovely grey glow and it was just what I imagined. We rushed to the rental car place to pick up what we thought was going to be a Hyundai Elantra, but ended up leaving with a CAMARO.. we weren’t complaining.

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Tom taking a picture with his medium format at Whatcom Falls Park.

The first stop on our trip was Bellingham, WA, where we stayed in the best little Airbnb. Shoutout to Donna & Vincent for being so kind and helpful, letting us check in a little early. It was the perfect place for us and the BED WAS A 10/10… especially after “sleeping” in a coach seat for the previous two nights.

 

Bellingham is such a great town with adorable shops, amazing little food spots and of course, coffee shops. We are still raving about the crepes and coffee/tea from Magdalena’s Creperie. Fairhaven is right next to Bellingham and also has a great little downtown area, totally worth checking out. Mt. Baker is very close nearby to both these towns, so everywhere you look (when it isn’t cloudy) while driving around you are graced with gorgeous views.

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We had three days in Bellingham, which was enough time for me to find Kombucha Town, a bar that served some delicious kombucha on tap. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t fully cooperate, but there were a few moments of sunshine. We went up to Mt. Baker wilderness and took a drive up until I started freaking out when we saw the ice capped mountains through the mist. It was truly beautiful though, I highly suggest going there at some point in your life.

 

 

As our time in Bellingham came to a close, we packed up the Camero, stopped at Whole Foods to grab some Kombucha Town cans and hit the road back towards downtown Seattle.

After such an amazing stay at our first Airbnb, we were a little bit disappointed with what awaited us at the Seattle place. It was fine, we can’t really complain for the price we payed per night, but it definitely could have been better. Each night I had to wonder whether there was a ghost standing next to me or not. Whenever we walked back in from outside, we were hit with the mixed odor of super old house and cat pee. It was fine, wouldn’t stay there again.

 

 

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BUT WOW.. SEATTLE.. You’re great. It was such a great time getting to know the beautiful neighborhood of Wallingford, where the average home price seemed to be over a million dollars, and where we stayed. We took a nice stroll to Gas Works Park quite a few times during our trip, which is this awesome industrial park overlooking downtown Seattle.

We had to pack a lot into six days, so we didn’t get to do EVERYTHING in Seattle,  but we did a decent amount. We walked all over Capitol Hill, stumbling upon a delicious Mexican restaurant called Fogón (where we definitely ate twice). We found our way to the Space Needle, but didn’t go up.. i.e. crippling fear of heights.

The historic Pikes Place Market really tickled my fancy with it’s gorgeous flower bouquets that were such a bargain. We saw the first Starbucks, but didn’t bother going in since it had about a mile long line. More on Starbucks soon.

 

 

We went to the Chihuly Garden and Glass, located right near the Space Needle, which was a great experience. Who would have thought that colored glass could evoke so much emotion? There are people there would you will think are trying to take your picture so you buy it at the end, but really they are free professional photos and who doesn’t like free photos? Take advantage if you ever go. Also, be sure to stay for the little movie clips they play of Chihuly talking about his process.

 

 

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If you want a cool way to spend 30 seconds, take the Seattle Monorail. It will take you up to the equivalent of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile where you’ll find some shops and food. I think every city should get a monorail.

The Seattle Art Museum was a good time, filled with a lot of beautiful art, including a lot of indigenous and Native American artwork and clothing. There is a wonderfully huge deconstructed tree hanging from the ceiling to greet you. Admission cost is just a donation, we gave $5 each and it was most definitely worth it.

 

 

As a former Starbucks gold card member, I felt a deep obligation to check out the Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room, and oh am I glad I did! While we didn’t get into the original Starbucks, this was *in my opinion* much better.

It had the class you would expect in a higher end Starbucks, with copper and wood detailing, coffee extraordinaires carefully brewing up some expensive concoctions (like a nitro cold brew float) and the roasters themselves, making sure the tourists get quite the show as the roasted beans make their journey from toasting to the bag.

It’s tough to get a seat since the place is so busy (we went twice and couldn’t get a seat either time), but even if you sit on the staircase like we did, it’s worth the trip. According to one of the workers, Chicago is getting their own 4-story Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room pretty soon.

 

 

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I’m dating a huge baseball fanatic, so we did check out one of the Seattle Mariners games while in town and I thoroughly enjoyed myself (even though I don’t really care for baseball). The stadium was really clean and we even got to see it’s convertible ceiling in use as it started to rain. The game was complete with an extremely drunk 21-year-old kid slurring and getting into a fight with his girlfriend and getting disowned by his friends.

 

 

We did not see Mount Rainier until the end of our trip, since the cloud cover was pretty serious, but when we did it was so breathtaking. We took an Uber up to Kerry Park to sit with our fellow tourists and take in the views.

To get a little bit closer to nature, we ended our trip with a beautiful hike called Rattlesnake Ridge, which was over 2,000 feet ascending to the top (more than us flatlanders are used to). With the encouragement of several peppy pups who ran up the trail with their owners, we made it to the top and took in the beautiful views. Thank god for a good pair of hiking boots and socks.

 

 

We packed a lot into a week and a half in Washington, but I’m so glad we had such an incredible experience. This trip was truly one I will never forget. I have so much respect for the Pacific Northwest and hope to be back soon. If you have any more questions about our trip, just leave a comment below.

Thanks for reading,

Emily


A few more random photos from the trip:

 

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5 Places You Must Eat Your First Time In Chicago

Chicago is an absolutely amazing city. I’m going to be bias and go as far as saying it’s the best city ever. But, really, if you’ve never been.. put it on your priority travel list. Try to go sometime between May and October or you will be wishing you were anywhere else (unless you love wind and snow).

Here are some things you put on you MUST-EAT list for the next time, or first time, you’re in the 312. These are mostly some cheaper options. They are in the Loop and accessible from any hotel:


  1. Pizza (TOO BROAD TO PICK ONE)

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Even though I’m not a big pizza person (go ahead and boo me, I don’t care) I still have my favorite pizza place in Chicago. It’s pretty much a part of the culture at this point. If you come and don’t try any, I feel bad for you.

There are some major debates as to which place is best, and I don’t think the whole city will ever agree on which one actually is..

Some places often called “the best” in Chicago: Lou Malnati’s, Giordano’s and Pizano’s.

Personally. Pizano’s is my favorite.

If you’re not into deep dish, don’t fear… most of these places have amazing thin crust too.

2. Portillo’s

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As if you weren’t already full of pizza, right?

Portillo’s is a Chicago favorite that will make you question any burgers, hot dogs, italian beefs or chicken sandwiches you’ve ever had. Be sure to grab some cheese fries (ahhhmazing) or onion rings with your food too. Absolutely do not forget to grab dessert: their famous chocolate cake.. or the chocolate cake shake.

Basically, you can expect to walk out with around 2,000 calories in your stomach.. but, It is so worth it.

Here’s the best part.. if you fall in love with their Italian beef, they ship it everywhere.

3. Yolk 

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A hidden little gem of breakfast perfection, Yolk has a few locations throughout the city. If you are in need of some quick, delicious breakfast food (with gigantic portions) then this is your place. I’ve never been disappointed.

4. Hannah’s Bretzel

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I randomly fell into this place a few years ago and had no idea what it was. It has an almost futuristic appeal outside that can confuse the average passerby. But, this place is a Chicago gem. They offer a highly-organic menu selection of sandwiches, salads and more. Although it’s a tad pricey for a lunch, $10-12 dollars per sandwich, it’s a huge step up from your average Subway.

Menu suggestion: Free range chicken + avocado. LIFE CHANGING.

Also, don’t expect to find Coke products here. It’s only organic pop’s. They’re good, though!

5. Cafecito

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Cuban. Sandwiches. That’s all I need to say. This place is so delicious. It’s not badly priced at all, most sandwiches are between $5-7 dollars.. and they will fill you up. This is a great spot to stop for lunch, and they even offer a full range of Cuban coffees to fill your caffeine craving.

Menu Suggestion: Pavo sandwich. Soooooo good.

FALL TRADER JOE’S HAUL

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We are in september now which means it is fully fall and what better place to celebrate the changing of seasons other than Trader Joe’s. This store is awesome in general, even more so if you’re vegan or have allergies.. they have a wide selection (neither apply to me), and they have so many yummy fall goodies. If you haven’t ever been here.. you need to go.

The cool thing about Trader Joe’s is that most of the store is “Trader Joe’s” brand. It’s like shopping at a ma-and-pa place with super cool employees who pretend to be your best friend.

So, Tom and Me decided to do yet another fall-related review. This time we chose some new food items the store put out for AUTUMN. Let’s begin:

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#1: THIS PUMPKIN WALKS INTO A BAR

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First of all, that packaging is adorable. These cereal bars are super delicious and Trader Joe’s has them in different flavors all year long (apple, blueberry, fig), but now they are here IN PUMPKIN.

REVIEW: Tastes like actual pumpkin pie without the cool-whip. It might say low-fat, but that does not in any way effect the flavor. The spices are perfect and we wanted to eat the whole box, but we settled on splitting one. They are soft, chewy and absolutely perfect for fall. You. Need. Them.

RATING: 8.5/10


#2: PUMPKIN PANCAKE & WAFFLE MIX

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Check out those perfect pancake making skills

How can you not want a pancake or waffle when the temperature is dropping. I want them all year, but I am a special breakfast-loving human. When I saw these in the store, I instantly fell in love without even tasting.

REVIEW: All the pancake texture with a subtle pumpkin flavor. If you are looking for a slap-you-in-the-face type of pumpkin taste, you probably won’t get it eating these, but they are pretty delicious. It’s everything you need to get your hot, buttery pumpkin fix. (PRO TIP: Add some homemade cinnamon butter on top)

RATING: 8/10


#3: McINTOSH APPLE JUICE

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I’m always in the mood for apple juice. I saw this one today while shopping and just had to get it. Okay, actually Tom saw it.

REVIEW: Honestly, the most crisp, refreshing apple juice we’ve ever had. It tastes like it’s fresh out of the orchard. It’s an amazing fall drink. BUY A FEW GALLONS. (PRO TIP: It would be an amazing apple juice to use to make a hot drink w/ caramel)

RATING: 9.5/10


#4: FIG BITES

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HOLY MOLY. I don’t know about you guys, but this tickled my fancy just with it’s name. It was an automatic throw-it-in-the-bag.

REVIEW: Are figs even fall related? I’m not 100% sure. But, I made them fall related, so here we are. If you are a fan of Fig Newtons, you need to get these amped up, more delicious FIG BITES. We were actually blown away and ate a ton. They are so light and fruity.

RATING: 9/10


#5: TRADER JOE’S PEANUT BUTTER (Creamy + Unsalted)

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If you’ve never heard anything about this peanut butter, then you better get in your car as soon as possible and go get some and try it.. now.

I mean unless you’re allergic, then please do not. **DO NOT CONDONE**

REVIEW: Technically not a fall item.. I know. But, when is PB ever a bad option? I love this peanut butter because the only ingredient is.. peanuts. How natural and refreshing. The taste is a classic, clean flavor that makes you feel good about eating it. I wanted to bathe in it, but Tom is scared of peanut butter. I would definitely suggest trying this.

RATING: 10/10 DUH.


I hope you guys get the chance to try some of these out!

MET Gala Fashion 2015 – The Good and The WHAT

The time has come again for fashions finest to showcase their work on celebrities at the Met Gala 2015. The event, which was held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, took place May 4th with an interesting theme: China: Through the Looking Glass.

Celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, Reese Witherspoon, and more took to their Twitter and Instagram accounts early Monday morning to announce their excitement for the evening.

Alexa Chung, Emma Roberts, and Ellie Goulding showed off their hair and makeup via their personal Instagram accounts on the way to the Gala. Ellie captioned her photo “On my way to a low key event”. Well, girl, you’ve got us Starry Eyed.

If there is one time of year to make a big fashion statement and get some recognition.. THIS IS IT.

Who can forget VERY PREGNANT Kim’s floral print dress that stole the red carpet and kept people talking for weeks (not necessarily in a good way)?

Kim wasn’t the only one from the Kardashian clan to show up to the event. Kris and Kendall were both present.

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Kendall looked like a green goddess in her Calvin Klein gown.

With huge names and huge fashion at this event, It was hard to choose the best of the night, but I narrowed it down to three BEAUTIFUL ladies:

First, Lady Gaga came and stunned us with her Alexander Wang gown. She not only looked awesome as usual, but she COMPLETELY worked the theme. Looking like a geisha queen, she shut down the red carpet.

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Gaga taking us to China town with this fabulous look.

And who could even pretend to ignore the Queen B? She came in and caused a buzz with her Givenchy dazzling, sparkling gown. It covered just enough for us to truly appreciate that unearthly body that Beyoncé owns. I was expecting something great from her, and she exceeded my expectations!

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I mean…. Just look at her stance. Completely gorgeous look. Beyoncé: 1,000 points. Everyone Else… 0.

The last look that earned a spot in this top 3 is the lovely Jessica Chastain. She was a golden goddess shining like a star in the sky. Although she didn’t quite work the theme into her look, she has classic Hollywood style DOWN. She is a true beauty and it shows in her Givenchy gown.

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Red-haired beauty Jessica Chastain dazzles in this golden gown

Now for the not-so-good:

Cara Delevigne normally works red carpet events, but last night she certainly did not stand out as a best dressed nominee. She came in a simple, black ensemble by Stella McCartney. She was covered in painted on tattoos of asian-inspired flowers to incorporate the theme, but it did not make up for the outfit, girl.

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Is that a can of Green Tea Arizona? Oh, wait no.. It’s Cara Delevigne.

The next to make the list is the one, the only Sarah Jessica Parker. She can normally own the fashion scene, I mean she was on Sex and The City, come on. But, last night, although she totally worked in the theme (she basically became the theme) it was a bit of a nightmare. She looked a bit horrifying.

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Just too much going on, SJP.

Overall, it seems the Gala was a success with memorable looks to last us until next year. What can they surprise us with next?

Whimsical Wednesday: Why I Love Not Wearing Makeup (some days)

  It’s no secret that society makes being female quite difficult. There’s the ridicule for our weight, our face (which we ultimately can’t control without surgery), and our behavior. Who is to say how I should act and look? 

I’m my biggest critic, probably like most of you reading this are, and there have been some deep dark parts of my life where I have been completely down about my appearance.

 Growing up, I loved reading fashion and celebrity magazines. I was so dazzled by the beauty I was seeing and couldn’t believe people could look LIKE THAT. I have no problem with the magazine industry, but I can say it played a role in the negative feelings I had about myself. 

For years after this, all the way up until after high school, I struggled. I would pile on makeup in hopes of finally passing as beautiful. My smile definitely hid how I was feeling. I struggled with dieting, restricting myself from almost every food, and over exerting myself in exercise.  My weight drastically fell; I can now look back and admit I wasn’t healthy, mentally or physically. 

Those days are behind me now. I’m in the best place I have ever been.

This leads me into WHY I LOVE NOT WEARING MAKEUP, what you’ve all been waiting for..and why you came. I’m talking about makeup both in the actual stuff you put on your face, and also every other aspect of your appearance. 

Three days a week, on average, I leave the makeup off. There is something so empowering and beautiful about feeling comfortable enough in your skin to show yourself in the purest state. I suggest trying it, and I know this is not an easy task for everyone, at least once. 

I think it’s important to know that I love makeup. I have the Sephora receipts and wedge out of my checking account to prove it. Makeup is awesome. I use it all the time and CANT SURVIVE WITHOUT MY RUBY WOO LIPSTICK BY MAC.

With these trials of being makeup free, I have found myself smiling when I look in the mirror. I will take a selfie bare-faced..and OOOH can you believe it–I’ll post it! 

It may be attributed to growing up, to stop caring what people think, to have a revelation of self clarity, or being too broke to afford it anymore (IM IN COLLEGE, I UNDERSTAND), BUT try to rock your femininity no matter how you look on the outside. Realize your beauty and self-worth and you will shine on the inside and out.

Who run the world?

GIRLS

Perfect Summer Breakfast: Blueberry Acai Smoothie Bowl

Chances are you’ve heard of these Acai (HOW DO YOU PRONOUNCE IT?!?) bowls. I was a little skeptical to give it a try because they looked like purple mud, but it is now one of my absolute favorite things. They are incredibly filling and keep you full and happy well into lunch. Here is the recipe and process for my own personal Acai Bowl:

Ingredients for blender:

  • 1 Pack of Sambazon Unsweetened Acai Smoothie (They come in a pack of 4. I get mine at Whole Foods)
  • 1 Banana (The more ripe, the better. Even if they’re brownish)
  • 1/2-3/4 a cup of Frozen or Fresh Blueberries (if you prefer more, do more)
  • 1/4 Cup of Water
  • *2 Tbsp of Honey if you like it sweeter*

Toppings: 

  • 1/2 Cup of Honey Almond Granola (got mine at Whole Foods) or any Granola you love.
  • 2 Tbsp of Chia Seeds (THEY KEEP YOU VERY FULL AND ARE SUPER GOOD FOR YOU)
  • 1/8 Cup of Raisins
  • Extra blueberries
  • *you can literally top these with whatever you like such as Peanut Butter, Banana, Strawberries, Pineapple, Chicken Tenders… knock yourself out*

RECIPE:

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  1.  take your Sambazon Acai Smoothie Pack and run it under warm water for 5 seconds to loosen it up. It’s impossible to get out of the plastic without this step. Then, empty contents of the pack into your blender, NutriBullet, or Ninja. Break your banana in half and throw it in. Drop in your blueberries. Pour in your water. It should look like the picture below.

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2. BLEND. If you run into a little difficulty with blending, add a bit more water. Continue until smooth (about a minute). Then, pour your smoothie into a bowl. It should have the consistency of a smoothie, not a soup.

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3. Top your smoothie bowl! This is really where the creative, personal choice comes into play. I top mine with granola, raisins, blueberries, and chia seeds and I LOVE the taste. If you want an Instagram-Worthy photo op, line your ingredients as neatly as you can. If you don’t really care, just sprinkle them on top like a wild animal (MOSTLY WHAT I DO because I am INDEED a wild animal). IMG_1392

AND HERE IS THE FINAL PRODUCT:

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I hope you guys give this recipe a try, or even make it your own and switch it up. 

Do I Attract Creeps (and other concerns from being in the city)?

Just a typical Monday and I survived my long morning commute to Chicago via train. The music in my earphones drowned out the chatter of people arguing with the conductors about why they don’t have a ticket (this happens every time).

I grabbed a black coffee to wake me up from the corner bakery outside Union Station as I waited for my Uber. My first uber cancelled on me (I couldn’t believe it) and I was eventually picked up by Jayc, my very kind driver. He was concerned about my drop off point saying “we gon’ get jumped over there”.

I finished my slow, dragging class and went into my usual panera to sit, not eat, and use their Wifi: The joys of being a part of the technological generation. I was approached at my quiet little table by a boy who asked to sit with me. I passively agreed and looked back at my tablet… But then, of course, he wanted to talk.

I guess I can’t accept friendliness as friendliness in a world where a guy talking to a girl often ends in them asking for your number. He wanted to know everything about my college experience. I just wanted to bask in my loneliness.  Does this make me a cold-hearted wench? I’m not sure.

Additionally, during my panera trip, a homeless man quietly ventured through the restaurant asking for money and food. I have neither so I did the traditional bitchy Chicago thing and ignored him.

During my last year, when I used to actually live downtown, I was involved in some sketchy situations. I was an innocent bystander in a 7/11 hold up. I had a presumably mentally ill man whisper in my ear “y’all gon die” referring to my friend and I; not the most comforting message at 3 am on the CTA. I had a “rapper” come up to my roommate Taylor and I offering us some Patron. I had an insane boy try to kill me because I didn’t want to date him (after one day of meeting him).

Each day downtown provides you with some incredibly interesting stories. There is always something happening and there’s nothing better than fearing for your life sometimes, right?