Monday, February 19, 2018

Happy New Year!

Happy Lunar New Year, everyone! It's now officially the year of the dog! I wish all of you a happy and prosperous year filled with lots of adventures and lovely new memories. For those of you born in the year of the dog, may you have a lucky year ahead! 

For those of you unfamiliar with Lunar New Year, it is based on the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar (aka phases of the moon), and is usually celebrated in January or February each year. The date will change depending on the phase of the moon. This year, we celebrated Lunar New Year on Friday, February 16th. Lunar New Year celebrations can last anywhere from several days to up to a month. It is predominately celebrated in Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean cultures, but has of course expanded to include many other cultures as time goes on. 

Lunar New Year is usually celebrated with festivals, special foods (like rice cakes and sweets), games, music, fresh florals, and lots of fresh fruit. It's a really fun and special time in my family, and we enjoy celebrating the Lunar New Year as well as the Full Moon Festival in the fall. My siblings and I like to read our Chinese zodiac horoscopes for fun.

Want to find out your Chinese horoscope for 2018? Find out here.



This weekend, I wore an authentic silk set in honor of the lunar new year. My parents brought it back for me several years ago on their visit to the homeland. I'm glad that I can still fit it! Happy new year! It's going to be a great one!


Until next time,

Melissa

Monday, February 12, 2018

Go Shawty, It's Yo Birthday

Another year, another milestone! 20 years ago, my parents took us on our very first family vacation. Our first stop was Seattle, Washington. Things were different back then. It was the first time I had boarded an airplane, the first time that I had left California, and the first time that I had spent a hot and sticky summer in an unfamiliar city. Since then, I've grown more and more in love with traveling. It seemed fitting to spend my birthday in the city that had started it all for me.



DAY 1 - FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 9:

I flew out of town on Friday after work in great spirits. The flight was quite short, about 2.5 hours from Southern California. The first evening in Seattle was clear and brisk. The city was quiet but nonetheless beautiful and glowing. The first order of business was dinner and happy drinks at Taqueria Cantina. The house-made chips and salsa were perfection, and the vegetarian, chicken, and carne asada tacos were thick and flavorful. After dinner, it was time for some shut eye at the ACE Hotel Seattle



DAY 2 - SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 10:

Rise and shine! The view outside of our hotel was gorgeous. Walking down the hall in the morning, I caught a glimspe of the sunrise and glistening water outside. We started out our morning at Macrina Bakery & Cafe for some coffee and scrambled eggs. The latte was amazing and the eggs were fluffy and topped with some fresh herbs.


Next stop: Doughnuts! We found ourselves at Top Pot Doughnuts, a cute, two story book themed donut shop. I ordered the Bavarian Creme Chocolate Doughnut, and my friend got the Raspberry Glazed Doughnut. Both doughnuts were moist and delicious. Not too sweet, and just the right fluffy texture. I can't lie...the Bavarian Creme Chocolate Doughnut was probably my favorite flavor between the two flavors.




Afterward, we headed to The Elliot Bay Book Company, a two story bookstore filled with curated books and staff recommendations. I loved the selection, and found the shop much easier to navigate than Powell's in Portland. We spent a while in the bookstore browsing books, reading excerpts, and scrolling through staff recs. 



Thereafter, we browsed the multiple boutiques and curated shops along the streets before settling in for great big bowls of veggie ramen at Ooink. It was bustling during lunch hour, with customers waiting outside of the door for a table. The broth was thick, savory, and delicious. I almost half expected the broth to be quite salty, but it was actually the perfect amount of saltiness and savoriness.



Of course, lunch in Seattle wouldn't be complete without dessert! We headed to Molly Moon's Handmade Ice Cream after ramen. I had to pick Honey Lavender Ice Cream on a sugar cone. That is my absolute weakness pretty much everywhere I go, with coffee coming in at a close second place. As if ice cream wasn't enough, we got even more doughnuts at General Porpoise. I got us rose cream and lemon custard doughnuts. They were the best cream filled doughnuts I've ever had. Seriously. Not too sweet, and so so fragrant. I'm a big fan of lemon flavored desserts, so that really hit the spot!


Next up, we visited the Jimi Hendrix statue before heading over to Chihuly Garden and Glass. The glass exhibition was a marvel to see. My favorite exhibit was the glass flower installation inside the glasshouse. I loved the way the light from the glasshouse illuminated the sculpture. The immense size and intricacy of the design made the piece such a spectacle to witness.











One of my favorite highlights of the day was getting to go to the top of the Space Needle during magic hour. We got beautiful glimpse of the city and the sun getting ready to set over the water. As a kid, I had always wondered what it would be like to go to the very top. Growing up, we didn't really have the luxury of riding to the top, so getting to finally do it was a real treat.





To wrap up the day, we headed out to Serious Pie for some local eats, and Lola for some drinks before calling it a night. I recommend the egg, proscuitto, and arugula pizza from Serious Pie and the Pomegranate 76 Cocktail from Lola! Both did not disappoint!

DAY 2 - SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 11:

Our final day was mellow. We started out the day having breakfast and coffee at our hotel. I struggled pretty hard with the waffle machine. It was quite laughable until my friend and the housekeeping lady came to my rescue. 

After breakfast, we headed to Pike Place Market. When we arrived, we were met with a spectacular view of the ferris wheel and the water. It was there that I saw the biggest seagull I've ever seen in my life. It didn't even flinch when I came right up to it! Really crazy.









We met up with another friend at the market for some coffee at Ghost Alley Espresso before checking out the infamous gum wall. The gum wall was a bit underwhelming. I loved the alley a lot and played a lot with shadows on my camera. Have a look for yourself!


Next, we went to visit the first Starbucks location before heading into Pike Place Market to build our very own tulip bouquets! That was definitely my favorite part of the day. Getting to catch up and laugh with friends while getting create was definitely a great way to start out the morning! 





The morning flew by quickly, with lunch hurrying around the corner. We decided to grab a quick bite at the ever so popular, Crumpet Shop. I had never eaten a crumpet prior to this experience, so my expectations were pretty low. I ordered the wild smoked salmon with cream cheese and cucumber crumpet as well as the lemon curd ricotta cheese crumpet. Both had a crispy bottom and a fluffy layer of crumpet. The toppings were light but extremely flavorful! I also ordered an Earl Grey tea with a splash of almond milk and organic honey. I haven't stopped thinking about it since.

After lunch, we headed to the dock to board the Seattle ferry to visit Bainbridge Island for dessert. The ferry was cheap for a roundtrip fare, rounding off at a little past eight dollars. The ride was peaceful and scenic. It was the prettiest 30 minute ferry ride that I've been on. On arrival, we headed straight to Mora Iced Creamery where both my friend and I ordered the signature Blackberry (Mora) ice cream. It was so creamy, with blackberry bits throughout. That was by far, my favorite dessert on the trip hands down. 



After the ferry ride, it was time to head to the airport. Our weekend trip was finally coming to an end. I loved the city, the food, the weather, the people, and the open-mindedness attitude of the city. Seattle, you easy take a top spot of favorite U.S. cities in my list next to New York City and Chicago. I had an amazing birthday weekend!

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 12TH

I'm looking forward to another year of experiences, memories, and travel. Thank you to everyone who reached out to me today on my birthday. I feel quite lucky to have you all in my life. Really. I wouldn't be the person I am today without all of you. Love you all with my heart!

Next stop: Paris! See you soon!


Until next time,

Melissa