Monday, June 30, 2014

Seattle Adventures: 13 Coins

We recently had a couple of fantastic visitors stay with us for a couple days. Brad and Stephanie were our good friends and partners in crime in Provo over the last couple years. There have been dinners, movies, date nights, basketball nights, and even a concert with these two and we are sad to see them go. Brad was accepted to medical school at Duke University and they just made it to North Carolina. They spent the last week or so with family in Portland, and since Stephanie had never been to Seattle they came to spend one last go-round with us.

Naturally we needed to start the weekend with food. They got here in the afternoon and after doing their own tours while Brett and I finished work and we gathered and headed downtown. Brett and I had spent a couple days looking up places to eat that have lots of options (even for me), local, and somewhere we haven't been yet.

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We ended up heading to 13 Coins, a 24 hour diner in downtown Seattle. Seeing the menu online it seemed like your regular run of the mill diner experience, but the interior was surprisingly posh. Dark wood, high backed leather chairs and booths, and the servers in ties made it feel a little more formal. The food options, however, got us nice and comfortable.I got excited when I saw how large their breakfast menu was, and that it was served all day! I am a huge sucker for breakfast food, always have been, always will be.


I ended up getting a Greek style omelet with egg whites only and it was surprisingly good. I have been wanting to try a good omelet this way for the last few months, and this was the perfect chance. And it was huge and came with hash browns on the side. I love hash browns. Brett and Stephanie got the manicotti and steamed broccoli, and I wish I could have had a taste. It smelled and looked fantastic! Brad got their chicken parmesan, which also got rave reviews from all at the table who tried it.

This is defiantly the kind of place we could see ourselves going back to. With so many options we can try something different every and never have to struggle. Another perk, free parking for the restaurant! Free parking is something that makes me really happy these days.

What do you think makes a good menu? Lots of options? A theme? Or prices?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Book Review: The Count of Monte Cristo

Please forgive the Spanish cover. This is the only one big enough that didn't have a creepy face.
















The Count of Monte Cristo-by Alexander Dumas

From Goodreads:
'On what slender threads do life and fortune hang'

Thrown in prison for a crime he has not committed, Edmond Dant├Ęs is confined to the grim fortress of If. There he learns of a great hoard of treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo and he becomes determined not only to escape, but also to unearth the treasure and use it to plot the destruction of the three men responsible for his incarceration. Dumas' epic tale of suffering and retribution, inspired by a real-life case of wrongful imprisonment, was a huge popular success when it was first serialized in the 1840s.


My Thoughts:

This book has been on my To Read list for a very long time but I knew it would take a serious commitment. It makes sense that the story was originally a serial, but today the unabridged version is over 1200 pages. Since I ride the bus to work every day, and would read on lunch breaks, I spent an average of 2 and a half hours ever day, Monday through Friday, reading this book. It still took more than two weeks. I am not going to lie, there were some points when I thought "This is so good, but I am so done reading it. I just want to know the rest of the story already!" But I am glad I stuck it out.The book well written, so full of information about the world and history that I envy all the knowledge that Alexander Dumas had in order to put something like this together. 

The Count of Monte Cristo as a book is one of my favorite reads. Ever. It is so fantastic. It is not just a story about wrongful imprisonment and revenge but so many more things I feel like they deserve a list

  • Do the ends justify the means? 
  • Do two wrongs make a right?
  • Does God know what is in our hearts?
  • If God take an active part in our lives, is our life in our own hands, or both
  • Anyone can change their fate if they work hard enough
  • Wealth can be used for corruption but also for good, depending on the integrity of the person
  • Forgiveness of those who have wronged you, but also responsibility for those you have wronged
  • Overcoming trials 
  • Understanding that happiness can still be found, in fact must be found, through trial

I want to finish with a couple quotes that gave me shivers as I read them.

“I am not proud, but I am happy; and happiness blinds, I think, more than pride.”

“Learning does not make one learned: there are those who have knowledge and those who have understanding. The first requires memory and the second philosophy” 

“For the happy man prayer is only a jumble of words, until the day when sorrow comes to explain to him the sublime language by means of which he speaks to God.” 

“Fool that I am," said he,"that I did not tear out my heart the day I resolved to revenge myself".” 

“There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more. He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness. We must of felt what it is to die, Morrel, that we may appreciate the enjoyments of life. 

" Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart, and never forget, that until the day God will deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these two words, 'Wait and Hope.” 



This is a book that I may never read again, but I loved it so much that I would still buy it to keep on a bookshelf, reminding me of all the things I learned, what I thought, and how I changed through reading it. I would highly recommend this to anyone who wants to take on the challenge. And no, watching the movie does not count, it is very very different. 



Monday, June 23, 2014

Seattle Adventures: Green Lake

Part of getting to know Seattle this summer has consisted of finding places to go running. Since we are training for a half marathon at the end of the summer we needed to to find somewhere that allowed us to run without having to stop for a million lights and somewhere that is not the middle of the city. Green Lake offered the perfect solution. Its a little strange to us that we need to drive for a little while in order to get to where we go run, but we keep going back. The trail right around the waterline is 3 miles, making it easy to measure the lengths of our runs. It also helps that the scenery is beautiful.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Seattle Adventures: Bastyr University

There are so many beautiful places nearby that we have realized we can't spend a day dedicated to each one, especially now that I will be working Saturday each week. So a couple weeks ago we found ourselves with a free afternoon and hit up two things. First we say Edge of Tomorrow with Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. It was awesome. I don't know if I have ever loved Tom Cruise in a movie so much. And both Brett and I love Emily Blunt. Love her. The thing is that here in the wonderful land of Seattle it costs a million dollars to go to a movie. Okay maybe not a million, but we were used to $5 Tuesday's and now going to our early matinee was twice as much. So when we got out of the movie at 6:00 pm (seriously what 20-somethings go to a movie that early?) we decided to take a little drive into Kenmore, the city Brett works for.

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Earlier in the week Brett when to a dinner/meeting hosted at Bastyr University, a natural health university near St. Edwards State Park. For the next couple days he kept talking about how beautiful it was, and he was right. It was the weekend so many of the places we wanted to see were closed, but we were creepers through the window. And I got these pictures from a Google search to compensate (although I wouldn't have felt comfortable taking pictures in a church anyway unless I was specifically photographing an event, which we all know will never happen).

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How beautiful is this chapel? Apparently the acoustics here are phenomenal and lots of things are recorded here, from choirs, to popular artists, to orchestras and movie soundtracks. Just within the last couple of months one of the choirs from BYU was even there.

And next to this amazing forest and lake? Just beautiful. And check out how far out into the water this dock goes? It felt like it was never ending!



Tuesday, June 17, 2014

10 Favorite Places

One-Round Lake, Idaho

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I have been here many times. As part of girls camp, a family afternoon hike, hanging with friends, and with Brett just a few days after we were engaged. It is a small little lake with a dock and trails looping all around it. Its just one of those places I remember from near home where you could peacefully be outside without the commitment of an entire day or weekend.

Two-Multnomah Falls, Oregon

Beautiful waterfall. Honestly, it is one of my favorites because it is one of Brett's favorites. When he took me to his hometown near Portland for the first time in 2011, Multnomah Falls was the first place we went besides his parents house. I mean, look how pretty that waterfall is?

Three-Next to a campfire, Anywhere

Some of my best memories have been from a camp fire. So many places over Idaho, Utah, and Montana have seen a campfire from me and I love that. I am the person that loves the smell of smoke, and has to pretty much fall asleep in my chair before I finally admit that its late enough to go to sleep. Sitting out with friends and family under the stars helps to lose track of time and just focus on what you are doing.

Four-Payson Lakes/Payson Canyon, Utah


I have camped, picnicked, played games and driven through here several times. This beautiful canyon houses waterfalls, lakes, trees, and other options for outdoor recreation. It also happens to be where Brett and I took our engagement pictures.

Five-Lake Como, Montana

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When I was younger my extended family did a weekend in a cabin on this lake. To be totally honest, I don't remember too much from that weekend other than it was fun and I was a kid. One of the things that I can't shake out of my memory was the beauty of the lake against those mountains. Since that weekend, this is what a high mountain lake should always look like in my mind.

Six-A Bookstore or Library

Books make me happy. I like the way that they smell. I like all the information between the pages. I like seeing old ones that have been loved. I also like seeing the new ones open to possibilities. Most of the time I have to hurry in and out, or I wind up spending excessive amounts of time inside. Oh and the journal sections! I get lost looking at the different journals.

Seven-Chimney Rock/Priest Lake, Idaho

An old picture from high school: left to right: Toby (the dog), Dad, Cole, Sierra, Brook, Mom and Hailey, and me!

Again, this is out in the mountains near where I grew up. So many options of things to do. You can stay out on the huge lake, make your way up to the calmer small lake, stay in the tree-filled valleys, or make you way to the top of some of the most beautiful mountains.

Eight-A Small Restaurant

They are so great! Often the have the best food, the nicest employees, and you aren't just eating out, but having an experience! We like using Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, as well as local directories to help us find a place like this in every city that we visit. It may not happen each time, but it will happen as often as possible.

Nine-Zion National Park, Utah


This was a new outdoor experience for me. I was used to mountains with moisture, often still with snow patches and greenery being everywhere except the highest peaks. But this place is just as beautiful. This canyon wall is impressive and the number of hikes means you can spend a couple days doing nothing but hiking. We did about half of the total trail mileage, and all we did was hike for a day and a half. Seriously, from sun-up to sun-down.

Ten-Seattle, Washington

one of my favorite pictures of my wonderful husband
We came here on our honeymoon. We came here just to visit. And now we live here for the summer. This is the perfect place for me to experiment with living in a city. Sometimes the traffic still freaks me out, but the ability to drive for only a few minutes and hit a patch of woods, or a patch of water, or to jump on the freeway and be out within an hour help to ease the transition. This has been a place I have always wanted to visit long term and I can't wait to keep getting to know this part of the country.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Officially Starting My Summer Job

So let me just start by saying that my work situation this summer has been more than a struggle. When Brett got his internship and we knew we were coming here I started applying to jobs like crazy. I was in the bad situation where I was looking for jobs out of state, and I knew they would be the kind of jobs where I might not be able to hold my spot if I tried too early. I knew I would need a job for a little under four months, that it needed to be as many hours as possible, and that I couldn't be too picky.

Let the months of disappointment begin. Anything that I could find was either too far away, not enough hours, or had start dates that wouldn't work for what I needed, either starting way to early or sometimes even way too late. Going to BYU means we leave school in the middle of April, which is great if you have a job lined up. However, the rest of the country still things college gets out a month (or more) later, so lots of positions for the summer didn't start until June.

So we get here at the beginning of May and I have a job offer for a position with that had one day of training in May but didn't start until June 14th, so I decide to keep looking. I buckled down and applied to all the jobs in our part of town that I can get to, getting several offers, but not able to give me full time, and still not starting for a few weeks. Then finally I have a grocery store hire me as a full time checker, so I tell the first job no. Only once I finished training and started working I can't actually get full time. The most they can see being able to give me in the foreseeable future is 30 and they had assumed that I would be cool with that since, you know, its summer and if I just work less hours then I don't have to ask for time off. Needless to say I was a little furious about this and in a little bit of a panic about my work situation.

Then I get an email from the position I declined. They knew I decided to stop in the process, but since they are short staffed they just wanted to give me the opportunity one last time. In fact, they were so short staffed that I could start immediately, not having to wait until June 14th. The best part is that compared to being a grocery store checker, the pay is better, hours are better, they pay half of a bus pass, and it is actually full time. Bam! Being able to start early tipped the scale of summer earnings just enough to put this one back ahead.

So for the last little bit I have been working as a housekeeper for the University of Washington. Each summer when the students leave the dorms get turned into a hotel service to accommodate the academic and professional conferences. May not be glamorous, but at least its work right? And I don't have to work nights so I can still see my husband when we get home. Replacing towels and making beds may not be a blast, but I honestly don't think it is any worse than dealing with rude people buying their groceries.

With all things considered, including the short length of the summer and what our short term goals have been for what we need out of this summer, I am just glad to be working as much as I can with a regular schedule.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Seattle Adventures: Carkeek Park

Last weekend we found ourselves with a Saturday with absolutely nothing going on. This does not happen to us very often. When we are in school we spend all day on Saturday working on projects and homework so now that we have actual weekends we don't really know what to do to fill the time. If we stay home Saturday, by the time Sunday evening rolls around we we feel like our brains have gone to mush.

This time we decided to go to Carkeek Park on the Puget Sound. This park is pretty close to our house and you don't have to pay for parking (yay!) so we have gone there a couple times for a spur of the moment look at the ocean. We put a little more thought into it and decided to do lunch and check out the other half of the forest trails we ran out of time for the first time. So we packed up some sandwiches (using delicious homemade pita bread), chips, water, a frisbee, and our baseball gloves and went to the park!

It was so much fun. After eating and tossing a ball around for quite a while we tried the frisbee. It was terrible! I got it as a cheap prize (one of three in a dollar store pack) at an event one time and it is one of those that is just a ring. Well ya. We could not get it to fly flat to save our lives. I think its just too light. I don't know. There is a part of me that wants to buy a couple frisbees and find a frisbee golf course or something. I am trying to come up with more ideas to get us out of the house on Saturdays without spending a ton of money.

After giving up on the frisbee we headed off for the short hike/walk. We went up a hill towards some lookout points, but the trees had grown so much that you could hardly find the water against the sky. The trees however are beautiful. They are so tall and green and there are so many different varieties. At some points I get a little nerdy and tell Brett we are in Jurassic Park with all the different ferns and things.







So there it is, our wonderful day at the park. The weather was perfect, the company as well (obviously), and we will probably do it again sometime soon!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

10 Things My Friends Know About Me

So every once in a while someone, usually Brett, will mention how it is weird that I look at blogs from people I don't actually know. It got really bad one day when he saw me looking at a blog that will remain nameless, and said "Oh, she was in our ward for a while, she is nice." And my response? "Really? She must have been in the other half then, our ward was just so big I didn't know many people."

Face palm of embarassment.

So here is the thing. This is a list of 10 Things My Friends Know About Me. This way there are no excuses about not knowing anything about a person. Lets do this.

One
I love to read, and rather than a formal living or dining room, I want a library. Reading is something that I was encouraged to do from a young age (I was one of those little kids who was 'grounded' by having her book taken away for the night), and is still one of my favorite things to do. I am perpetually in the middle of a book, or a least a series, and love when I can get a few hours to sit down with a blanket and read. These pictures were taken from my Pinterest Board here and I have so many other ideas.



Two
I love to be outside. Camping, running, walking, hiking, sports, and anything else you could think of. I grew up in a small town in a more rural area and loved it. Now that we are in Seattle this is the first time I have not lived within about a mile of a mountain. And yet now that we are here, everything is covered in green again. Luckily I don't really sunburn unless I get extreme amounts of sun, but I also don't tan either. I am perpetually a white girl.

Three
I like being tall. I fall somewhere between 5' 7 1/2" and 5' 8", which now that I am an adult is just on the tall end of average, but I have been this tall since I was about 13 or 14 and therefore still think of myself as tall. I still where big shoes, and it freaks me out a little that some of my younger siblings are starting to catch up with me.

Four
I was married on September 24, 2011 to the love of my life in the Spokane Washington Temple. That means that at the end of this summer we will be hitting 3 years, which just seems crazy to me. He is tall and handsome (again, I can get away with big shoes) and working hard to finish one more year of grad school. We are so happy and try to spend as much time together as possible with our busy student and job schedules.




Five
I enjoy laughing. And I am the girl of innumerable laughs. I have a different laugh for TV, awkward situations, general goofing off, and general fun activities. Most of all though, if you get a good, honest, joyful laugh, my head tilts back and my nose gets all scrunched up.



Six
I am a huge movie nerd. This didn't really start to happen until I became friends with my husband and his friend, soon to be good friend to both of us, Justin. All of a sudden I was introduced to the world of good movies, not just romantic comedies. Now I am extremely critical of movies and have to be in just the right mood to watch a good old RomCom like I used to with my roommates.

Seven
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I love what I believe and do my very best to live my life in a way that others can see my devotion to the Savior Jesus Christ through my faith. This is, in fact, a Christian religion focusing on Christ and the Atonement in all ways, His sacrifice, His teaching, and His resurection and eternal life, and the promise of eternal life to all who accept the Gospel. For more information you can always ask me or see the page Mormon.org for some frequently asked questions and other topics.

Eight
I find cooking relaxing and enjoyable. It's not so much that I eat when I am bored, but that I like to cook when I am bored or have free time, which then results in me eating the food that I have made. If I am home by myself, like I have been off and on during our moving transition over the last few weeks, I don't really find myself snacking on what is already there, but ya, I took the time too spend an entire afternoon baking pita bread for almost no reason other than to try.  While I don't plan on going crazy, I look forward to the day when grocery budgets are a little less constricted and I can branch out even further than I already have.

Nine
I am fiercely loyal. Seriously, sometimes loyal to a fault. That may sound like a cliche interview answer, but it is true. Brett has had to calm me down many times when friends and family have been going through difficulty and I want to jump in and help/defend/make the problems just go away. I am the kind of person who will go to bat for a friend no matter what. This also means that I can get deeply hurt when my trust is betrayed, but as long as that doesn't happen, I am a good ally to have.

Ten
I get nervous in the spotlight, performing, or generally being in front of people, and yet I love being at the front of a classroom. Lee Family Kareoke night? Scary as anything I have ever done. Teaching a room full of 17-year-old kids about history? No problem at all. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I am in charge of the room? I don't know. Whatever the reason is, I am okay with it as long as my comfort with teaching stays.

Monday, June 2, 2014

May Goal Recap

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This last month has been amazing for me and my goals. With moving and getting to start a new routine in this new place it has given me the chance to recommit myself to some of these goals and make them a priority moving forward. With no further ado, a recap of how my goals have gone the last month.

Physical

  • Our lifestyle with such an emphasis on health has helped us so much. We never ended up sick from all the moving and traveling we did for a solid 2 weeks at the end of April. Our diets have been super clean and we are running even more than normal. Unless we are really short on time we usually go for three miles now. From all the research and people I have talked to I have heard that 3 miles is kind of the threshold where doors open up. To work towards that half marathon we are going to start adding on the mileage this week and catch up on some lost time.
  • I finished the #1800minute challenge with Erin at Living in Yellow and so many others. 1800 minutes of exercise in April and May. Now we are doing 1000in30, the perfect increase for what Brett and I are already planning.
  • I also had a new cholesterol check and things are getting better. In January my levels were at 247 and now five months later they are down to 212. Still higher than ideal, but at least they are moving in the right direction. In a weird way this has also helped to prove to myself that it wasn't totally my fault the numbers were so high. I have done everything the doctor has recommended and it is still a struggle. Genetics are real people. 


Spiritual

  • Keeping a journal is still going well. I love the feelings of calm and contentment that come whenever I take the time to record my life, the good, the bad, and the ways that I am growing. Each time I finish with a better outlook on life, a desire to become better, and a heart full of gratitude. 
  • My personal study has also been going well. I have been taking lots of notes and making lots of connections. One day I was talking to Brett and saying how much I wished I could just have a huge database of it all, linking talks, topics, scriptures, and so much else. He then reminded me about the Study Notebook feature of lds.org and blew my mind. I never realized how comprehensive that account can be and how much good it can do in your spiritual study. I watched some of these videos when I started to make sure I was taking advantage of all the features when I started. I am so excited to keep building this up and learning so much more with everything I study. 


Social

  • Well, we are in a new place. There are not many people our age and we are living in a place that is right on the border of where some neighborhoods start to get a little sketchy. So we have spent most of our time together. Let me clarify. All of our time has been together and it has been great. I am loving this time to build up our live and our relationship, making this summer into whatever we wanted. 
  • We have gotten to spend some more time with family though which has been great. We visited my family over Mother's Day weekend, then Brett's family came here for Memorial Day. We decided that we live the perfect distance away. Close enough to visit for a long weekend, but far enough away that there is no pressure. 


Financial

  • Still tracking those finances. We did the final tally for May yesterday and are so proud of how cheap we were with our move. Most of that comes from all the help that we had in getting here, but we are so glad to see that it actually worked. 
  • I also have finally started working full time. There were a couple weeks where jobs were not quite being what they were portrayed as, things like my start date being only the training day, but not actually starting for a few more weeks. Or being hired as full time, but having to reach full time in increments. Just stuff like that. Well now it has finally worked out and I get to start helping bring in some money. More details to come on that later.


Intellectual

  • Totally rocking the summer reading. So far I have read The Hobbit and am in the thick of The Count of Monte Cristo. Monte Cristo is quite the book, so it might take me a little while.