Around the World in 37 Days

Okay, I know I’ve been absolutely terrible at this ‘blogger’ thing, especially since it’s been five months since my last post.  So with the acceptance that I’ve kind of dropped off the edge of the world and been absent from writing these little updates on my life, here I am with a new set of posts that I’ll hopefully be able to successfully finish writing. Some of you who aren’t the kind family and friends that read these posts may not know what I have been up to in the past five months, so here goes.

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As the spring hit Seattle, I was eager to finish up my third year at University of Washington, because summer meant more adventures – and this being my last true summer ‘vacation’ meant that I was absolutely set on making this one for the books. However, my home away from home, a little apartment that I shared with my two best friends, would not be there when I returned. With Emily graduating and leaving us for the beautiful San Diego, Julia and I both found new and exciting places to live for our last year as college students – a bit sad to close the book on our little home, but we absolutely couldn’t send Emily off without a proper celebration. A girls day spent getting mani pedi’s was such a treat and then we surprised her with a gathering of our best friends, because you can’t leave college without a graduation party!  Our night ended with a late night run to Dick’s Burgers (an absolute Seattle must-do), so you know that the night was a success.

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Just a day later, my mom was arriving from Sacramento to help me pack up my little Subaru to get back to California for the summer. The start of my summer was definitely just as crazy as the rest of my summer – my mom and I powered our way down I-5 & 13 hours later we pulled into the driveway to be greeted by my dad and of course, two very happy puppies. Less than a day later, I was on a 5 AM flight to Tuscaloosa, Alabama to partake in the festivities of my cousin Peter’s wedding to the absolutely wonderful Caroline. With the beautiful backdrop of the Museum of Natural History, we toasted to the happy couple whilst adorable photos of the two went up on the screen. My cousins and I sang, danced and celebrated the night away – one of the best little reunions we’ve had this far! With all of us getting older, and me being the one of the youngest, we’ve got a lot more weddings coming up soon, so more reunions to come! We’re a crazy family, but there’s no doubt that I love them.

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Soon after my arrival back to the West Coast, I was driving off to my first day of a summer internship with Food Literacy Center, a non-profit that aims at making food education a norm for children. I’ve always had an interest in the culinary world, hence my internship with this organization, but I never knew how much food education could change someone’s life. By the end of my short six week internship, I was choked up to see the light on a child’s face when they could identify the parts of a plant and hum in delight when they got to make guacamole or a sunflower butter sandwich. Of course there are numerous stories about my time with Food Literacy Center, but being that I’ve been terrible blogger for the past five months, I’ll start my posts with something that happened a bit more recently.

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Five weeks ago, I embarked on an adventure of a lifetime. Thirty-seven days that would take me from the San Francisco International Airport across the world – experiencing five different countries, five different currencies & meeting up with my friends that are dotted all over the world. So, this is where I’ll begin, where the stories and travel notes from my adventures will make there way onto this blog. It’s been less than three days since I actually touched back down onto American soil, and I’m excited more than ever to go back through my notes from these travels.  Here’s to a new and fresh start with this blog and hopefully some good tips for anyone looking for how to do a solo trip around the world or simply some adventures to embark on.

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Thank you all who take the time to read & I sure hope you enjoy the posts to come about these worldly adventures!

A New Start

Oops, I did it again. I’ve been having a hard time coming up with valuable content to post on this blog – because I’m almost certain that you don’t want to read ramblings about registration for classes or looking for new apartments. So, allow me to start again and hopefully have a better track record for keeping up with this lovely blog site once again.

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After a round of finals that left me absolutely exhausted, I left the clouds to go back to sunny Sacramento for a week and a half of pure relaxation (aka spring break). What a difference 800 miles makes – I boarded that plane with a heavy coat on and walked off almost combusting from the 75-degree weather at 9 o’clock at night. Nonetheless, my California skin was itching to get back in the sunshine and regain some of the tan that I always lose during the school year in Seattle.

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Spring break was full of celebration. You see, two of my good friends and I all celebrate our birthdays within 3 days of each other. And this year being the big 2-1 meant that our days would certainly not go unnoticed. I started my golden year (21 on the 21st!) with a lovely and leisurely day in the Napa Valley with my buddies Catherine and Jocelyn, along with all of our parents. We popped a bottle of champagne for mimosas and then snacked on a delicious brunch spread of bagels and lox, salads, dips and so much more.

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My father decided that we had to proclaim that we were all recent 21 year olds, hence the bright pink sashes that were rhinestone filled and conveniently lost in the back of the car on the way to the first wine tasting. Thanks dad, you sure do know how to make us feel like proper 21 ladies. The first stop was Frank Family Vineyards, where we weren’t even ID-checked (but that probably has to do with us celebrating with our parents in tow!)! After joking about all the subtle overtones we did definitively not taste, we took some group pictures and went a little further down Silverado Trail to Rombauer Vineyards.

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The day was shaping out to be so beautiful, and when we pulled up the road to Rombauer, the views were stunning as well. Right on top of a hill overlooking their vineyards, their tasting room is seriously picturesque. A few cabernets later and we headed home with a convenient pit stop at Taylor’s Refresher, on the sideof Highway 29 (recently renamed as Gott’s Roadside – but I’ll forever call it Taylor’s)! Stuffed with burgers and sweet potato fries galore, we said goodbye to our little gaggle of friends and drove in to another California sunset on the way back to Sacramento.

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What a wonderful 21st birthday it was, and I couldn’t have asked for better people to celebrate it with. Hopefully, this quarter of school won’t leave me bombarded with schoolwork until the very last day so that I can keep posting little tidbits about my days spent up north. Happy Spring! Now go enjoy the outdoors!!

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Weekend Trip: Napa Valley and Marin, California

When it comes to weekends, I’m either stressed to the max with papers or exams that are coming up. Those days are usually spent half procrastinating (because what kind of college student would I be if I didn’t procrastinate) and half actually getting my work done. Man alive, I was pumped when a long weekend came up at the end of midterms that let me get on a plane headed to California without a stitch of schoolwork in my bag. Sunshine was the only thing on my mind – well that and the fact that I’d probably return to Seattle with a bit of a sunburn. I landed after an hour delay on the runway and was welcomed by huge smiles on the faces of my mom and grandparents as they sneakily surprised me!

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A traffic-filled drive back through downtown Sacramento was accompanied by a phone interview for one of the summer internships I’ve applied for – crossing my fingers that summer plans will be full of excitement and adventure, because I’m too addicted to travel after my time in London. Finally home, the squealing duo of Ella and Lady (my two pups) attacked me and got me in the right mood for a fun weekend home. After an obligatory Mexican food dinner, I ran off for a fun evening of shenanigans with my Sacramento girls (Joce, Courtney and Cat) – nights with those girls end up in stitches of laughter and too many smiles that your cheeks hurt the next day.

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Valentine’s morning woke me up with some dogs barking, so I was off to go on a walk with my mom before we headed out for a Napa weekend. I don’t think there is anything better than a weekend spent in the place that brings you the most joy – Napa is just that for me. I’ve basically been raised up there … riding the ATV’s through the meadows and jumping on the trampoline until the sun goes down. Now that I’m a bit older, getting a few days up there a year is the best form of relaxation (and soon I’ll be able to enjoy Napa’s wine reputation – yay birthdays!)! The night couldn’t have worked out better… we headed down to Main Street to see if there was any wait at our favorite restaurant, Cook, and were delightfully surprised that they could fit us in for a quick dinner despite having a full night of reservations! Yippee!! That creamy parmesan polenta and brown butter brussel sprouts are perhaps some of the best bites I’ve had.

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I’ve got to say – waking up to a breathtaking view of Napa Valley and the sunshine already warming up your skin might just be the best way to start a day. The sunburn I was anticipating was already starting to form (thank you Seattle clouds). We grabbed a tasty veggie bagel at Model Bakery before we ventured into my mom’s hometown of Novato. The best pit stop was at the Marin French Cheese Company – brie and sweet pepper jam tasters paired with sunshine and the dogs being able to get out for a little walk. Is there anything better?

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On our way back home, we took the back roads through Lucas Valley and were absolutely stunned by the amount of twists and turns the road had. The two lane highway made it all worth it when we came across a random redwood forest that spanned the length of the road until we got onto 101. If there’s any reason to live on the West Coast, you’ve got to visit the Bay Area during those ‘winter’ months. Highs of 75 degrees Fahrenheit and endless sunshine – what is winter again? The 18 years I lived in California growing up has clearly affected me more than I thought – true winters will probably be the end of me if I ever end up on the East Coast.

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Being back in Sacramento for a short while before I boarded my plane back to my home away from home in Seattle lifted my spirits enough to get me through the next few weeks of research papers and finals. Only one month until birthday celebrations (yay, finally 21!) and spring break! I had a hard goodbye to my little valley town with the sun glowing a bright pink and orange on our way to the airport, but the amazing welcome back party that picked me up at the airport was enough to bring a smile back to my face. Thanks for the spirit lifting Tay, Julia and Emily – couldn’t be happier to have you as a part of my college family.

IMG_5914What spring adventures are you hoping for? How are you surviving your winter? Get talking in the comments below!

Until next time, catch me on instagram.

The Swing of Things

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New years bring about new resolutions, new ideas, new cities and schedules. Getting home from London meant a few weeks of getting over my travel exhaustion all while secretly planning the next trip – alright, maybe not so secret based on the amount of time I spent talking about it.  The thing with the new year is that all of the new things you begin to experience inherently mean change. I’ve never been that great with feeling comfortable in a changing area (just ask my parents, they’ve definitely experienced a few of my freak outs).  This year, I’m resolving to accept change like I did in the past year. Moving forward with the things that come my way and taking them thankfully. After 3 months of constant change and traveling, the three weeks I spent at home were warmly welcomed because they offered comfort and relaxation.  There’s really nothing better than some quiet family time to get you back on your feet.

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I’ve been back in Seattle for a week now & I’m struggling with the idea of getting back into the swing of things. The funny thing is, you really have no choice when it comes to ‘the swing of things’  – you’re either with it or you’re completely uncomfortable. This week has consisted of a lot of effort to get back to the level of comfort I felt in this beautiful and often rainy city just 7 months ago; there’s no doubt in my mind that the adventures I had in the last semester have changed me and I just have to learn how to re-adapt to my city.  There is definitely some anxiousness to come back into a life that continued on for the time you were gone, but also immense comfort that the people you know will always have your back when you’re feeling that way. With these lessons in mind, my sista (from another mista) and I journeyed the 12 hours up Interstate 5 to Seattle. Meg and I have been friends since before birth, so the long road trip was nothing but fun and a few wrong turns – whoopsie daisies!

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Ask anyone who has driven up or down the west coast – when you go south of Sacramento, Interstate 5 is not the most pleasant drive (thank you cattle farms). But when you drive north, the road is full of stunning mountain-scapes and endless trees.  Thankfully, Megan endured listening to the podcast Serial again while we drove, and I was quickly obsessed. If you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon for this podcast, it’s a must – definitely creepy, but so so addicting. We chased a huge fog bank all the way through Oregon until we stopped to fuel up on some Chipotle in Eugene.  Shortly after 6 PM, we pulled into my home away from home and began the effort of unloading all the boxes I felt were absolutely necessary to bring with me back up north.  A day full of driving had us exhausted, so the unpacking was left for the next few days as we took an early night.  I’ve got to say – after traveling around, I was amazed at the beauty of the Pacific Northwest & the entire West Coast in general.  Adventures in this area are definitely coming soon, because I can’t just stop all the fun of exploring, now can I?!

IMG_4906Walking back on the UW campus made me realize that there are very few sights that are greater than Mount Rainier showing itself early on a winter morning. I felt stunned into silence, even though I was rushing to my class (I might have forgotten just how big UW’s campus is). Regardless of the anxiety that sits in the back of my mind, I’m glad to be back with some of my dearest friends and catch up on all that I’ve missed out on. For the new year, I’ll be working on pursuing dreams of continued travel, education, and health. Soon, I’ll be back with some recipe ideas that will impress your friends and give your taste buds a burst of flavor, so keep an eye out!

What are your resolutions this year? What do you do to conquer anxiety and change? I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments below!

Until next time, catch me here on instagram or become a part of The Rambling Reed community on Facebook.

 

 

West Shore, Best Shore

I never had perfect attendance in school, simply because I missed two days every year for our annual family reunion in Lake Tahoe over Labor Day. For 40 years, the same cabin has been rented by a group of crazy, puzzle-doing, waffle-making, always loud goofballs.  That merry little crowd would be my family.  It’s hard to explain the magical feeling that comes from boating into the sunset, so instead here are just a few snapshots from this years trip.Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetLittle miss Ladybug actively leading the troops on a wonderful trek through the Rubicon Trail and the Olympic Range. IMG_7542 A sunset round of appetizers shared at West Shore Cafe.  This view continued to brighten and become more surreal each minute.IMG_7529Oysters on the half shell with pickled peach & tempura asparagus and squash blossoms filled with mint and ricotta.  Amazing! IMG_7532These might be the best oysters I’ve ever had.  A return visit is definitely in order! So simple yet so delicious!   IMG_7318Lady and Ella waiting not so patiently for their ball to be thrown. They just haven’t gotten the “bring the ball back” part down yet. IMG_7349(Above) The rocky shore around Bliss State Park.  (Below) Pop after finishing his 1000 piece puzzle – hardwork pays off! IMG_7513  Just 61 years ago, a young teacher to be and her high school basketball star sweetheart were married in the small town of York, Nebraska.  These two lovebirds are my grandparents, whom I look up to for advice in every part of life. I’m so grateful to have grown up around the truest example of love and adoration.  61 years later and they’re still lost in love!  Happy Anniversary Gram & Pop! IMG_9835Pictured on their wedding day in 1953. IMG_761961 years later at Ehrman Mansion on Lake Tahoe. IMG_7416As the sun set on yet another Labor Day weekend, I said goodbye to Unit #3 at Waters Edge and another summer. In the next week my life will be at full speed ahead – the journey to London for a four month study abroad begins and I couldn’t be more excited for all the exploring that comes with it.  Thanks Tahoe for a wonderful send off to summer.  Out and off to another grand adventure!

What do you hope to accomplish this fall? What inspires you to continue adventuring? Comment below!!

I Left My Heart in San Francisco

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As the second heat wave hits Sacramento and valley towns alike, I’ve been searching for something to cool off with.  Instead of another iced recipe, I ventured to the Bay Area hoping for a foggy and cool day.  I know it may seem strange to want cooler weather when summer is full of time outdoors, swimsuits, and sunshine, but the crisp air that I love is one of the reasons why Seattle became my home and why I’ve always loved San Francisco.  I mean, what is there not to like about Northern California’s go-to city?  Fresh produce & fish, acclaimed restaurants, stunning views AND my new personal hotel. Maybe more along the lines of a sleeping bag on the floor of my brother’s studio, but hey a girl can dream! 

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Especially with the best friend in the passenger seat and Giants tickets bought, the night away from the dry heat was welcomed with open arms.  After a typical Whole Foods panic attack (it’s just not possible to walk in and out in five minutes), breaks almost giving out on a city hill and an older angry pedestrian, we finally made it to Nob Hill and ate our over priced lunches atop a beautiful rooftop.  I didn’t even mind that my soup was horribly watered down, because this view just took the prize.  Although the fog burned off quickly, the cool weather stayed, making me one happy girl.

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We took a walk around the neighborhood, leading us into the renowned Chinatown, where there is ample amounts of dried fish. cheap vendors and an entire micro-culture.  Most importantly, my brother stumbled upon the delicious sixty cent pork bun.  Come on, sixty cents for a soft white bread bun with slow cooked pork inside?! That’s definitely a perk of living in walking distance. Living only two hours away from the city for most of my life, I’ve visited a fair amount.  An absolute favorite if you’re in the Union Square area is Kuleto’s for a classy and traditional Italian dinner, or their more casual counterpart Bar Norcini for a delicious cafe latte and margarita pizza (above).  When in doubt, ROAM Artisan Burgers fills the tank with self-created American food and hand crafted sodas and fries. Of course there are hundreds of other amazing food stops in the wonderful bay city, so these are just a few of my staples. 

IMG_7256  There’s endless amounts of things to do and see when in the gorgeous Bay Area.  I can never cross back over the Bay Bridge during Giants season without a ticket stub in my back pocket. We bought a couple of $15 bleacher seats on left field and brought the mitts in case a ball made it to home run zone. Cheering loud and sharing the delectable (and sinful) fudgey Ghirardelli sundae between the four of us made for a fantastic Monday night.  A quick stop at Uncle Vito’s pizza for a late night dinner ended a long day on a delicious note.  Even if cable car dings woke us up early in the morning, San Francisco still remains one of the best cities to visit for the day or more.

Where do you love to drive for a quick getaway?  Leave a comment and some tips!