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.

 

 

Reflecting on London

You know you’ve gained something from an experience when it’s almost unbearable to see it end.  Living in London was very surreal – I’d visited England for the first time in 2007 and knew that one day I wanted to come back and live more permanently. Even after living there for 3 months,  I have still have the desire to move back on a more permanent basis. London is part of the greatest adventure of my life so far, but the wonderful people I met while there really made this experience one I’ll never forget.  I can’t thank the girls of Flat 23 & 24 enough for all the hospitality and making London a second home for me.  Nikita, Izzy, Chloe, Rebecca, Hannah, Maddie, Lydia, Cory, Cecilia & Jess – you’ll always be a part of my little London family and hopefully we will make many more memories in the future together!

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When I first found out I was accepted to King’s College London, I was so incredibly excited that my dream of living in London was coming true. During my orientation at University of Washington, there was one thing that really intrigued me.  The counselors reminded us that moving 5000 miles away from home doesn’t come easy – that there will be a period of uncomfort with the new culture, potential homesickness, finding stability in your new city, and uncomfort for the first few days back in the states. Personally, I only felt a little homesick around the fifth week, when I was sick with a nasty head cold (earned from endless weekends of travel), but I credit the girls of my flat for truly making London a second home for me.

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I think that’s why a week after coming back to California, I’m still longing for the small rooms and loud neighbors – because those girls are a part of something that’s over for now.  With my bags on the curb of Stamford Street and my flatmates waiting with me (even though it was 8 AM), I tried with everything in me to not cry as I hugged them one last time, because I knew that once the tears started, they wouldn’t dry for a while. As soon as the car door shut, the driver turned around to me and said “no tears yet?” and then the dams broke. Happy tears that London had been everything I’d ever wanted from studying abroad – I think that the pain I felt when leaving, only meant that the adventure I’ve had was truly one for the books.

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With each adventure, you learn something. Over the past 3 months I’ve learned tremendous amounts about myself. I’ve understood that family is with you no matter how far you venture. I’ve learned that I am independent and enjoy adventures with no set plan – just a place in mind and a map in your back pocket (especially with no cell phone data when out of London!)!  I’ve learned that trying to cross things off your bucket list only leads to adding more. I’ve learned that different perspectives in teaching (whether that be nationality or where it’s taught) can expand your mind in ways you didn’t know was possible. This list goes on and on, because honestly, London taught me more than any other experience I’ve had so far. For anyone considering venturing abroad for a semester, I highly recommend it. For anyone else, I suggest stepping outside your comfort zone and experiencing life while you’re vulnerable to new experiences – there really isn’t anything that beats it.

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11 ½ hours flying, 3 hours driving and I’m back in my home surrounded my pets galore. When I stepped off the plane and eventually got through customs, my Mom and Dad were waiting outside arrivals with a big welcome home sign and cheers that made my smile impossibly big. What a weird feeling it is to be back in California and have the holidays so close to being celebrated. The morning after I flew in, I woke up wondering if I’d ever even left – but the scattered clothing, bags of souvenirs and the fact that it was 2 AM (thank you, jet lag) reminded me of all the great adventures that I’d had. It’s hard to have it over, but exciting to see new opportunities to explore come together for the future!

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I promise there will be no more emotional London posts, because I know it can get a little boring for readers – but this has been on my mind this week and I thought writing it out would do me some good. I’m going to take a break from blogging for a few weeks, so I can enjoy the holidays and get everything organized for my trek back to Seattle and UW in early January. Until then, catch me here on instagram. I can assure you that I’ll be back with new recipes, adventures and stories very soon! I’ll end with a quote that aptly describes how my mind has been working the past few days – thank you for bearing with me through the my adventure blogs!

“The voyage never ends…the mind can never break off from the journey” – Pat Conroy

Love,

Laura Reed

Thanksgiving: London Edition

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Thanksgiving. That day where there’s the smell of a turkey roasting and family gathers from near and far, might just be my favorite. There’s something about the festive beginning to the holiday season…maybe it’s all the delicious food around, but I like to think that it’s the knowledge that you get to see your family every few weeks in the upcoming months. This year, I’m not surrounded by my incredible family members in the gorgeous Napa Valley – because I’m away in London on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure. While I’m not there to tell my family what I am thankful for this year, I thought I’d put it in writing.

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Every Thanksgiving I can remember starts with my dad and I up early and preparing the turkey to be put in the roaster while sipping on hot coffee or some tea. We usually spend a few nights up in St. Helena at our family home and have the chatter of family life going on all around us as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade blasts from the main room.  Sure I’m feeling a little homesick today, especially because I don’t get to be involved in the hub-bub of thanksgiving day, but this adventure I’ve been on for the last few months has been one I wouldn’t trade in for the world. Thanksgiving is all about recognizing what you’re thankful in life, because most of us don’t realize how good we have it until we’re forced to really think it through.

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While I’m not with my amazing siblings this year, I’m extremely thankful for the relationship that we have and knowing that we’ll be together in just two short weeks. Nothing compares to the love of family. And specifically with siblings, there’s no one else I’d rather bicker with and then later make up with a hug and an ATV ride through the vineyard. It’s pretty silly to be sitting here in the library with a grin as wide as the ocean thinking about my family, but what can I say – I love them pretty dang much.

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Not many people get the opportunity to move 5000 miles away to a new city in a new country and have the time of their lives. This adventure is everything and more I could have asked for. I’ve made friends I know will last a lifetime, memories that will never fade, and traveled to places I’ve only ever dreamed of. This may all sound cliché and cheesy, but I don’t know when else I can get away with putting my thankfulness in writing.  This little London family I’ve come to know will make it impossibly hard to leave my study abroad home, but I’m fortunate enough to know that I’ll be back to explore soon enough.

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Speaking of adventure, I’m so amazed by the places the last three months have taken me. I could not have made it to the other side of the world to continue adventuring without the help of the other study abroad friends I’ve made here. This experience has gotten me out of my shell and made me realize that the great big world really isn’t all that big and hard to get to. The knowledge that the globe is filled with incredible places waiting to be experienced is one of the most major things I’ve taken out of this time. So thank you to the girls and guys that I’ve been fortunate enough to meet and travel with – you’ve really made me feel a little bit more at home in great big London and I hope we travel to see each other when we’re back home in the states as well.

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I came here completely alone, not knowing a single soul. It’s pretty amazing that I’ve had little to no homesickness and even crazier to think that in two short weeks, I’ll be reunited with my family. I know I talk about how much this adventure has truly meant to me a little too much, but I simply can’t recommend a study abroad experience enough. It’s changed the way that I view the world and view myself – knowing that I have what it takes to pack up and go exploring is some of the most liberating knowledge I gained from this. So, thank you Mom and Dad for giving me the experience of a lifetime – I’ll be forever grateful.

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Knowing that I return home to the states in a few weeks makes me realize how amazing California is. I’m so thankful for the friends that have stuck with me through my crazy years and for the home I’ve made in Seattle.  To my Sacramento friends, I can’t wait to see you shortly and thank you for always being there to cheer me up.  To my Seattle friends, I can’t help but quiver in excitement for the reunion that comes so soon! That city on the Sound is near and dear to my heart, and I really can’t wait to be back in January.

IMG_3433The sun is setting soon on this study abroad experience, but as you can see I’ve had the time of my life. I’m sad to think that I have to leave this incredible city – it’s comforting to know that when I come back, I’ll have a little group of friends to visit and make some new memories with. Happy Thanksgiving to you where ever you are in this crazy world – have a double serving of pumpkin pie for me!

What are you thankful for this year?

Love,

Laura Reed