Nothing was wrong. It just didn’t feel right. I look back on the past year in Seattle the same way I feel when I hold a vanilla latte. Comfort, warmth. Two-feet-on-the-ground, head-in-the-right-place stability. We bought furniture. Joined an amazing church community. Ran my first 5k. Paid off student loans. Stocked up on household supplies at Costco. My life was wonderfully and unabashedly normal.
At the end of the day, everything was okay, and that was sort of the problem.
Just because my head was in the right place, didn’t mean my heart was. With this blessing of groundedness came an underlying question of “Okay, what’s next”. I tried to shake off that feeling at salsa clubs and bury it on morning jogs. And though I was grateful for the many, many gifts in my life, the challenges, the life lessons, and most of all new friends, I was open to change. Open to the uncertainty and adventure of the Next Step. Whatever that would be.
So I did some reflection. Looked into bigger cities. Somewhere I would feel inspired. Somewhere I could grow. And I found it in Chicago. Like Seattle, it has personality. A different one, with fewer recycle bins and more pizza joints. And my family is a 2 hour flight away instead of an overnight redeye. It’s a diverse, friendly, pulsating city. You could explore Chicago every day and never reach the bottom. Neither city is better—just different.
So after 3 months here, everything’s shifted a little.
I’m slowly learning Portuguese. The pronunciation is completely different, and it sounds like underwater Spanish. For now, I’m using podcasts but plan to take group classes soon. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but our trip to Rio after the wedding gave me an excuse to dive in. I’m also learning a different kind of salsa—mambo, which is on a different beat. And with slightly different styling. Every time I go on the dance floor, I get the same feeling when listening to my Portuguese lessons—very, very lost until that brief moment when something is familiar. And then very, very lost again. But you don’t grow if you don’t learn, so I’m excited and energized by the long road ahead.
On those beautiful summer days in Seattle, I’d walk up Capitol Hill from downtown, rife with Instagram moments. A pithy flyer for lesbian film screenings. Sidewalks generously sprinkled with pink petals from Japanese flowering cherry trees, a popular option from Seattle’s Approved Street Tree list (yup, that’s a thing). People lined up around the corner at Molly Moon’s ice cream. A unicyclist on his daily commute. So many things to see and appreciate. Seattle has a unique energy that few cities can claim. People are tolerant and mindful. The heart and soul of the place is incredible. And I wouldn’t be disappointed, if the universe aligned, to move back someday.
If there’s one thing I’m worse at than volleyball, it’s saying goodbye. So this isn’t a goodbye to Seattle. It’s a thank you note—a sad one and a happy one at the same time. I’m sure the city is the same without me living in it, but I would never be the same without having lived there.
Height: 200 ft
Tons of concrete: 550 for the foundation alone
Weight: 280,300 lbs
Length of ride: 12 minutes
Tickets: $13 for adults, $8.50 for children
I’ve been walking down Alaskan Way for months as the ferris wheel slowly morphed from foundation to bones to a full fledged tourist attraction. At first, I was hesitant to embrace such a huge structure on the skyline, because it could block incredible views of 5pm sunsets (yup, that’s winter in Seattle for ya).
This may be the case, but I’ve been quickly converted. The fact is, the Seattle pier wouldn’t be a party without a giant ferris wheel. Not only is it extremely photogenic, the wheel actually looks like it was meant to be there—it adds a hint of nostalgia to an iconic area of the city.
We drove up north to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, and were a little confused. It was the last weekend of June, which meant it was harvest season, and we passed fields and fields of decapitated tulip stems. Finally, though, we sighed in relief as we approached a crowded parking lot and THIS:
We walked along the fields, dodging the mud puddles and careful not to step on any flowers. It’s amazing how cheerful they look, all huddled together like that. There were tulips of all shapes, sizes, and colors. Mostly colors.
Josh took a bunch of photos. Check them out here.
Mama Fresh, Hija, and Lovechild were united! When Mal Mal came to visit us in Seattle, we wanted to show her the epitome of Seattle: the Fremont Sunday market. Locally sourced honey, hot empanadas, and vintage odds and ends…you could go every weekend and never get bored. We stopped for a photo in the antique mall (above), where Josh bought an old Polaroid camera in really good condition (below). Note to self: Decide on a word to spell out of old marque signage. Those letters look sweet, but as a word nerd, I can be a bit picky. Maybe I’ll choose my favorites and Scrabble it out.
As some of you may know, Josh is colorblind. He can see traffic lights and do normal things, but because of this he has a magnetic attraction to super bright colors.
Our office is going to be our next big project. One of our biggest challenges is managing the massive amount of paperwork and mail that comes in our house…and never leaves. Thus, our search for a filing cabinet.
Josh fell in love with this $159 beauty from CB2…
And we spotted these colorful desktop filing cabinets at the Container Store for $99, but they were way too small.
So while we were running errands in SODO, we passed by the Goodwill Outlet, where items that not even Goodwill will sell in their stores are pawned off “by the pound.” Needless to say, this sucker needed some loving. But for a whopping $4, the price was right.
At one time this was a black filing cabinet, someone thought these were supposed to be grey and so they spray painted it.
This was Josh’s first metal project involving paint, so there was a lot of experimenting between sanding and paint stripper. He started off sanding which took FOREVER, and then discovered the beauty of paint thinner.
If you look REAL hard, you can see the potential in there somewhere.
Removing the hardware made it a lot easier to polish it up.
We decided on bright orange, so Josh coated everything with white primer first so the color would really pop. And pop it did:
We love it! It’s fun and functional but didn’t cost a million dollars, since we already had the materials on hand (sander, paint thinner, spray paint). That was the fun part. Now we have a room full of papers to file…
This is the infamous Malm, compliments of IKEA. A regular in broke college students’ apartments, this fine piece of furniture is about as plain and boring as… well, an assembled bed made of medium-density fiber board.
We inherited this bed from a college friend, but weren’t excited about it. Here’s Futile Attempt #1, where we tried to hide the ho-hum frame with some colorful pillows and a headboard slipcover. I sewed both from IKEA fabric, and yes, the words are upside-down. No, not on purpose.
So we lusted over this DIY project with the hope that maybe, someday we could have a lovely tufted headboard of our very own. And maybe we could glam up our Malm with some sort of attachment.
I bought a giant swatch of slate gray corderoy fabric, snipped some fabric for custom buttons, and sewed through several layers of foam and batting with a magic knotting technique I learned in my quilting days. That is the extent of my contribution. Josh (and friends) took over the rest:
They drew out a part of a circle by hand and traced it on a 1/2” ply 59.5” x 15” to fit the frame of the Malm.
Then they sawed that shape on both sides. On our carpet. Which they promptly vacuumed.
Then they measured and drilled 3 rows of 4, 5, and 4 holes for the buttons. I think tufting looks best with staggered holes, but aligned holes are fine too if you’re into symmetry.
They chopped up a pine board into three 1.5” x 3.5” x 10” pieces and mounted 2 metal tie-downs from Home Depot to the front and 3 to the back.
You know that egg crate stuff you buy to make the beds in college dorms feel less like pavement? It’s a far cry from a thermapedic, but it’s the perfect thickness for the headboard and easy to cut too:
We used some low-grade batting to smooth out the egg texture and stapled it to the back of the headboard. Doesn’t it look all cute and fuzzy?
Time for the main event. Josh’s buds draped the shell fabric, cut it to size, and staple gunned it to the plywood.
Meanwhile in the kitchen…
We use a pack of fabric button kits from JoAnn Fabric to press together 13 custom buttons. It looks complicated, but the process was (ahem) a snap!
We made sure to buy thick embroidery thread that would stay put through 2 layers of thick fabric, foam, and batting. Instead of making ginormous knots to hold the buttons in place in the back, we made a knot a few inches out and double stapled it to the plywood.
And ta-da! The bed with a pretty head and no guts.
Too bad you can’t cuddle with a headboard— this fabric is softer than our pillows.
And that’s a wrap!
We weren’t sure what to expect for our first Thanksgiving in Seattle. Josh wanted to buy a few rotisserie chickens, but I refused. Thanksgiving without family is sad enough, but Thanksgiving without turkey would be…unfestive.
So, with some trepidation, we bought a 6 pound frozen turkey. Two of Josh’s friends were in town, and none of us had ever cooked a turkey before.
We Googled the entire process, and somehow made it happen:
Open turkey packaging. It will be slimey and gross, so do it over the sink.
Excavate the cave-like innards of the turkey cavity. This too will be slimey and gross, so make sure the garbage disposal is reachable.
Wash out the turkey guts with warm water. Probably not a necessary step, but you’ll feel better if it at least gets a rinse, since there were some nasty things hanging out in there.
Fill a garbage bag halfway with 1 part salt, 8 parts warm-to-hot water. A bucket or large bowl would probably be better, but our 2-person household has no such thing. Place the turkey in and check that it’s completely submerged.
Keep the turkey in the fridge overnight in the salt water solution.
12 hours later…
Take the turkey out of the salt water and rinse it off. Then place on a broiler sheet and start the spiceage. Rub some olive oil all over the skin and cover with a mixture of the following spices:
Montreal steak rub
Cut up apples and stuff inside turkey. We hoped this would keep the inside from drying out. I don’t think it really affected the meat, but baked apples ended up being a tasty side dish.
Bake at 350 degrees for 2-3 hours.
3 hours later…
Carve up your delicious Thanksgiving turkey.
Enjoy feasting with friends. Stuff your face. Guzzle wine. Repeat until food coma commences.
The turkey had a cajun jerk style rub with an Indian flair. Good stuff. We’ll try it again next year!
We’ve been: learning to cook, taking road trips, playing settlers of catan, hanging Christmas decorations, birthday partying, exploring, volunteering, FIFAing, reading Steve Jobs’s biography, working, indoor skydiving, fixing cars, and wrapping presents.
Check back soon for a new round-up of projects and adventures.
Herman Miller’s M logo may look unfittingly like an orange bikini top, but this guy designed midcentury modern furniture like Victoria’s Secret designs lingerie: Very Sexy. If I could furnish my house with just one thing, it would definitely be a shell chair.
We found 2 of those magical Herman Miller Eames shell chairs on Craigslist in Pittsburgh for a really good price. The seller was an antique dealer who knew that the ripped vinyl would be too expensive to fix. It worked out, because we planned to rip off the vinyl anyway. Here’s what one of the shell chairs looked like after we detached the base:
The orange color was faded and looked slightly moldy, while the rip was unstitchable. Plus, orange is a tough color to coordinate.
The other one looked like it was suffered “death by a thousand cigarette buds.” Poor little guy…
With a razor blade and some tugging, we ripped off the nasty vinyl pretty easily. The brown piping even peeled right off. So we were left with very stinky blue foam. Whoever sat in these chairs smoked a lot of cigarettes together.
And the scraping began! Our secret weapons: a pack of razor blades, 2 packs of brillo pads, a fine tooth comb, a potato peeler, and several bottles of Goo Gone. The comb and peeler were not helpful. The Goo Gone was miraculous…after we read the directions.
The Goo Gone didn’t seem to do anything except make the room smell weird. And it left an oily residue on our hands.
Then we realized we had to let it sit for a few minutes, and it came off much more easily. Oops!
The foam scraping party lasted an embarrassing 5 hours for the first chair and 2 for the second. At least we had a decent learning curve! After a wash in the bathtub with dish soap, we scrubbed the base with baking soda and were really happy with the final result:
They’re in pretty good shape for 60 year old chairs. Under the rotten tangerine vinyl was a flawless off-white fiberglass shell. Was it worth 7 hours of work? Yes ma’am! I love that these chairs have a history.
I credit my dad to the fact that I love books. He had a very sneaky way of getting me and my sister excited about reading. Saturday mornings at the library were weekend field trips. Summer vacation always began with a long reading list. We never went to bed without a story, never started a road trip without a stack of books in the backseat.
Needless to say, Borders has a special place in my heart. I have fond memories of drinking hot chocolate in the cafe, a brand new book in hand. So when I saw that Borders was closing in downtown Seattle, Josh and I asked for the nostalgic signs above each section.
We just mounted them with a nut and a washer, which gave us a flat surface to stick on some 3m wall tape.
Then we measured the wall and decided to put “cooking” in the kitchen above the stove as a teaser.
We only needed a level, measuring tape, and a pencil to mount the signs in our office. It’s fun, easy, cheap, and looks great next to our bookshelf in the office. Even better, I feel like we preserved a part of my beloved Borders!
Total cost: 6 signs @ $2.50 each= $15