Hometown Glory: Best Place to Be Today

seattle ferry gray sky

The view from the Seattle to Bainbridge Island Ferry

I’ve never been the sort of person who welcomes fall—I don’t have a Pinterest board devoted to its charms, I’ve never used #sweaterweather on an Instagram post, and I am ambivalent about the return of Pumpkin Spice Lattes at Starbucks. So, you’d think that today, the first day of fall in the northern hemisphere, would be a particularly sad one for me. And you’d be partially right—I will miss cool, misty mornings that melt away into the languid heat of a Seattle afternoon, days where the sun sets well after 9 p.m., and the colorful array of sundresses that I’ll now shunt to the back of my closet. I love summer, and it will always be my favorite of the four seasons. But I’m beginning to understand the charms of fall, too, and that’s why Seattle is the best place to be today.

Sunday was a gorgeous day in Seattle—beautiful, sapphire blue skies, warm breezes, and temperatures that soared just past the comfort zone for most Seattleites. But by early evening on Monday, those skies had faded away, and were replaced with slate gray cloud cover that shrouds Seattle for most of the year, a fitting first day of fall. And rather than muting or dampening the landscape, the clouds provide a foil for emerald evergreens, the first leaves turning jewel toned hues, and the jagged peaks of the Olympics and Cascade mountain ranges boasting their first streaks of snow in several months.

The world seems more quiet, and still. Because the sun is so rare here, a warm summer day encourages a frenetic pace amongst the citizens of Seattle, people eager to soak up vitamin D and store it away for the months ahead. But now, we’ve all hunkered down, and life has returned to normal. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t rain all the time in Seattle—most natives will smugly tell you that it rains more annually in New York City than it does in the Emerald City—and the weather right now, crisp, early autumn with cool breezes, is perfect for long walks accompanied by the perfect playlist of mellow music, preferably penned by a Seattle musician. What I will lack in sidewalk café visits on long summer nights will be more than made up for in cozy coffee shops around the city, in restaurants with fireplaces, and the serenity of a long walk through the forest-like park near my house—a walk which include

More than anything else, the return of fall makes me appreciate small pleasures that slip right past you in the heat and movement of summer—a Sunday afternoon spent wandering through Seattle’s main public library that also doubles as a beautiful work of art. A ferry ride to Bainbridge Island, emptied of tourists and filled only with commuters who still express awe over the view of the city from water. A chai latte, not iced, with maybe one pump of Pumpkin Spice. The heat from the cup reminding you of summer, but warming you for the cooler days to come.

Sweetness: My Way

photo(3)A couple months ago, as I eyed this basically abandoned blog, I told myself I would write an epic recap of my twenties on the last day of my twenties. Weeks went by, and now I’m here, staring at the thing that terrifies me most in the world—a blank Word document with a cursor, blinking at and taunting me. Every sentence I have started sounded like a terrible cliché—a series of sad tropes that people trot out on milestone birthdays. “30 is not that old!” “30 is the new 20!” “You’re still young!” And here’s the thing—I know 30 is not that old, and I know that 30 is relatively young (I hope that 30 is not the new 20, unless it involves me having the metabolism of a 20-year-old and living in Paris). But I’m not here to make apologies for my twenties (because, as ol’ blue eyes said “regrets, I’ve had a few.”). I’m here to tell you that my twenties were an alternately joyous, terrifying, soul-crushing, dreamy, enchanting, and maddening time—but I didn’t fully realize how much I’ve grown and accomplished until one Sunday night this past May.

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Bittersweetness: Dancing On My Own

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetWith the big 3-0 now less than three months away, I’ve been taking a close look at my life so far, and where I wanted to go. In all the lists and goals I’ve made this year, I never once mentioned things I wanted to accomplish in my personal life—relationships with my family and friends, and, most difficult of all for me, my love life.

My love life is a romantic comedy come to life, only without much romance, and super heavy on the comedy bits. Dark comedy. Earlier this year, I hid behind a tree to avoid having to speak to a cute guy I regularly see at work and who regularly speaks to me. Late last year, I went on a date with a man who, after having me pay the bill, slid a pair of nipple clamps across the table at me and gestured towards the bathroom. Last summer, I attached myself to someone who wanted no attachments at all, and I hovered around for months, hoping for scraps of affection that would never arrive.

Despite all of those pitfalls (and that is the abridged, highly edited version of my dating life), I soldiered on, recently picking up a pseudo relationship with someone who was unavailable in every conceivable way possible. My feelings were very real, but this past weekend, a new complication in an already difficult situation made me re-evaluate just what I was allowing myself to accept. The self-love that has pushed me to achieving fitness and health goals, that drives me to succeed at work, and to nurture my friendships, simply doesn’t extend to my relationships with men. I have settled so many times, and I always, always end up broken-hearted, listening to Amy Winehouse on repeat, and wondering why these broken men always seem to choose me.

After graduating from college, my classmates and I moved to the big city. Or, the big city for Washington state, Seattle. Some took a brief break from academia and then went off to graduate school; others joined the military, but by and large, most people quickly settled into office jobs, and then, as if Noah himself had summoned them forth, everyone paired off and got married.

I’ve known since I was a little girl that I wanted a life of adventure. I wanted to live in a big city, preferably above a pizza shop, and near a movie theater, and write books. I wanted to travel the world and see all the things I’d read about. But love and marriage and children were never things I thought of, and were never priorities for me. Watching everyone around me fall into lockstep made me feel like the choices I made for myself were incorrect—like I was doing something wrong and just didn’t realize it, and that I was obviously unworthy of being loved if everyone else was finding it and I wasn’t. I never allowed myself to revel in the glory of being single, to truly enjoy a DVR filled with Real Housewives of Orange County/NYC/Atlanta/New Jersey, to relish Saturday mornings spent in holey t-shirts, and to take my twenties to truly know and understand and love myself before getting into a real, lasting relationship.

So, I threw myself into half-baked relationships that satisfied a baseline understanding of being coupled up, but were never real in any substantial way. I wasn’t secure enough in the choices I made about my life to understand that the things I’ve been doing for the past seven years were by no means perfect, but they allowed me to grow in the ways that I needed to grow. I let so many things have power over me, and never valued myself or my choices enough to respect that I am where I need to be right this instant, and my journey is no one else’s journey.

I was never a big Sex and the City fan—but a love of Pinterest has taught me that the show was full of invaluable bon mots, a treasure trove of quotes to pin and repin, and many of which are applicable to my life. But one I stumbled across recently was one that fits the most with my current state of mind:

“Later that day I got to thinking about relationships. There are those that open you up to something new and exotic, those that are old and familiar, those that bring up lots of questions, those that bring you somewhere unexpected, those that bring you far from where you started, and those that bring you back. But the most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone to love the you you love, well, that’s just fabulous”

 

Until very recently, it never occurred to me that my friends might all be getting married not just because they wanted to, but also because they were mentally prepared for all the challenges that being legally and emotionally bound to someone entails. And how could I honestly expect someone to value, respect, and love me in any real way if I didn’t also feel that same way about myself? The men I attracted and have been attracted to are all indicators of my mental state—human, male barometers of perilously low self-worth.

On Sunday morning, I woke up early, took a long walk with Nigel Barker, and evaluated where I am, and where I want to be. I have an amazing job, a great apartment, a passport filled with stamps from the places I dreamed of going as a child. There are things I can improve upon, of course, but by and large, I have so much to be proud of. And if I am truly happy where I am, as a single woman in the city, who lives four blocks from both a movie theater and a pizzeria, I should love myself enough to not settle for just anyone who deigns to send me a flirty message on Facebook.

I sat in front of my computer, turned on “Dancing On My Own,” and wrote an incredibly long-winded email explaining my feelings, and hesitation about continuing the relationship, and asking to take a break from contacting each other. And while the break won’t make up for the years I’ve spent not valuing myself enough, it’s the first time I’ve ever pulled back from a relationship and truly evaluated it for what it is.

The toughest part about growing older isn’t the act itself—it’s when you stop and take a painful look back at all the mistakes you’ve made and the opportunities you missed without even knowing it. But the bittersweet beauty of growing older lies in the moments of reflection and clarity, looking at the journey so far, and taking the opportunity to use that hard earned wisdom to make a better future.

The relationships I’ve had thus far have mostly served as fodder for stories to make my friends and family doubt my sanity, but that doesn’t mean they have lacked value–I’ve learned what I will and won’t accept, and, as corny as it sounds, I need to love myself before I can expect anyone else to really and truly love me. So, while I’ll keep dancing on my own for the foreseeable future, I’ll be learning to love myself. Starting with a date with a bottle of wine and a one woman dance party, with Nigel Barker as a back up dancer.

Sweetness: Pie Bar

Way back in January, when I kicked off my lifestyle change, I knew the biggest battle for me would be bidding adieu to dessert. For the first month, I skipped all sweets entirely, and then, afterwards, I made them a special occasion type deal—I wouldn’t eat dessert through sheer force of habit, and only when I really, really wanted something and when that something was extra special.

That something special has presented itself in the form of Pie Bar. I Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetlearned about Pie Bar during my now regular nightly “Evening Magazine” viewing. The bar, located in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, is just what it sounds like; pie. And booze. Opened last May by twin sisters, Pie Bar serves as a tribute to the duo’s recently passed father. I don’t know their father, but the bar is a fitting tribute to anyone who appreciates pastry and delicious adult beverages.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetThe location itself is cozy (read: super small, but still comfortable), tucked away on the western slope of Capitol Hill, away from the maddening crowds of Broadway. Despite how filled the little room was, it was actually pretty quiet–easy to hear my friend’s dating stories and to discuss the pros and cons of Tinder. Décor is a mixture of rustic Pacific Northwest glory and classic glamour—I was entranced by a row of miniature crystal chandeliers that hung from the ceiling. The bar itself is 21 and up, but pie fans who aren’t of legal age, or those who just want a slice to go, can take advantage of a walk up window. Our first server was warm and friendly, and the pie? Well, that was spectacular.

The menu offers up a la carte pie, both sweet and savory, a full list of alcoholic beverages, Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetas well as the choice to pie/drink pairings. My friend chose strawberry rhubarb pie and the Old Fashioned, a chocolate stout beer served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, like an adult root beer float. I chose banana cream pie paired with a pecan pie martini–which was served with crumbled pie crust on the rim of the glass. Both choices were divine, and though it would be incredibly easy for two sweet drinks to kick you into a sugar coma, both were incredibly balanced—and the topping on my pie tasted like fancy Cool Whip.

And to make you feel even better about a healthy dose of alcohol and sugar, the restaurant is holding a fundraiser to benefit the victims of the recent landslide in Oso, Washington.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetWhile my lifestyle change means I can’t indulge in coconut cream pie every day, it doesn’t mean I can’t have a little cheat day every now and then—especially when it involves pie and booze, and a slight hike to and from my new favorite sweet escape.

Pie Bar
1361 E. Olive Way
Seattle, Washington 98122
(206) 257-1459
Monday – Sunday: 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.

The Best Show You Aren’t Watching: Call the Midwife

Call the Midwife

Call the Midwife Cast (Source: PBS)

Up until I moved out of my mother’s house to go to college, I had a strict 30 minutes of television per week rule. There were a couple exceptions—I could watch anything and everything on PBS (I watched A LOT of Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, and Yan Can Cook as a kid) and as much of the news as my heart desired. The upshot to this was that I was a well-informed child (my mom likes to tell people about the time when, at age 5, I asked her what a prophylactic is) who took a great interest in cooking, and learned to carefully and artfully arranged the many egg-based creations I concocted in the kitchen. And, because I’m a child of the 90s, I chose my weekly junk TV from ABC’s now defunct TGIF lineup—a heartwarming assortment of family sitcoms delivered live in front of a studio audience. Every episode was filled with sanitized hijinx, and ended with a moment where any and all conflict was resolved with a huge bear hug. My world of television was safe and tame, warm, and happy.

 
My arrival at college and freedom to watch whatever I wanted coincided with the resurgence of reality television—I remember eating pizza in my dorm room and watching Joe Millionaire with a friend (if you are not familiar with this show, it’s like The Bachelor except the women are tricked into believing the bachelor is a millionaire, and then they find out he isn’t, but not until the end), watching knock down drag out fights on The Real World: Chicago, and, around my senior year in college, my university ponied up for HBO in our dorm rooms, which opened up a whole new world of television. I became obsessed with Rome, a sex and violence drenched drama about the Roman Empire.

 
In the years since college, my television watching habits have only gotten more and more voracious. I pay Comcast more than I care to admit, my DVR gets more of workout each day than I do, and I spend a good chunk of my weekend mornings catching up on the shows that I couldn’t manage to watch during the week. Last fall, during a bout of unemployment, and in desperate need of inspiration, I started looking through my DVR in search of something positive. I came up short—though my DVR is filled to the brim most days of the week, almost every show is a beautifully shot, beautifully acted tour through a cast of wildly unlikeable characters. There are very few modern, adult equivalentsof the TGIF lineup, most shows now leave you crying because “OMG WHAT DID I JUST WATCH?!” Which is great—not every show needs to be fluffy and wonderful and uplifting. But it felt like sometimes, it might be nice for just one show to fit that bill. And that’s when I discovered Call the Midwife.

 
Set in post-World War II 1950s London, Call the Midwife is a BBC-produced gem that airs Sunday nights on PBS. It centers around a group of nurses and nuns who deliver babies in London’s East End—the area of the city hardest hit during World War II. The premise is simple—each episode focuses on a birth or two. Some births are straightforward (well, as straightforward as any act that involves bringing a new life into the world can be) and some are more complicated, occasionally involving teen pregnancy, interracial affairs, and health problems. And though the subject matter itself may lead you to believe the show is all puffery, pink cheeked babies, and pious nuns, it is much more than that. The nuns and midwives are wonderfully fleshed out into actual, relatable human beings. These are people who have their own sets of issues—pride, vanity, stubbornness. But you always root for them and always want what’s best for them.

 
It’s rare to find a show that is both well-written and heartwarming, but Call the Midwife combines all the elements of other popular shows—stylized period dramas with a high attention to detail, multi-faceted characters, wonderful costuming, excellent acting. Rarer still is the idea that I don’t have to put aside my ideas of right and wrong (like *ahem* on my favorite show Scandal where I root for a murderous President to continue a kind of emotionally abusive relationship with a woman outside of his marriage) to root for these characters. And the show is unabashedly sentimental, giving great care and detail to the amazing, miraculous, and Herculean act of childbirth. I have joked to friends and family that the show makes me want to staple my legs together, but really, watching women give birth, at home, in a time without ultrasounds or epidurals, gives me a greater respect for the act of childbirth than I ever had before.

 
It is by no means a show for everyone—it is slow, there are no special effects, no one will ever be beheaded, and there are no supernatural creatures. But it is a beautiful show, one that celebrates the very act of bringing life into this world, and the journeys we take once we’ve arrived.

 
You can find seasons 1 and 2 on Netflix, and the new episodes air every Sunday at 8/7 Central on your local PBS affiliate.

Friday Five: Here Comes the Sun

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetAs a child, spring cleaning meant a trip to my grandma’s house to help her clean the baseboards, dust her beautiful tea service, and shine my Easter Sunday shoes into sparkling white submission. As an adult, spring cleaning has taken on a dual meaning–yes, definitely baseboard cleaning, but also taking time to overhaul my beauty routine for the change in seasons. I use spring as a primer for summer, a time to repair my winter weather beaten skin, hair, and sun and prepare them for the coming of (sometimes fleeting) warm weather months here in Seattle. Here are the five products that help me shift into high gear for the return of the sun.

  • Caudalie Eau de Beaute ($18 for a 1 oz bottle, $49 for a 3.4 oz bottle) This darling of the beauty blogger world is actually all it is cracked up to be. I like to think of it as a combo toner/liquid version of the smelling salts fancy ladies use in movies about the Victorian era. It’s filled with essential oils and the soothing smells of mint and lavender, and leaves your skin feeling refreshed, while adding a wonderful glow to your skin. After a winter of loading my skin up with moisturizer, it’s nice to use something so lightweight.
  • The Body Shop Almond Body Butter ($20 for a 6.75 oz tub) I wandered into The Body Shop one day a couple weeks ago–I hadn’t set foot in a store for years and years, but the smell of an Almond Body Butter sample being distributed out front drew me in. Despite the name, this will not clog up your pores. I use it after I shower–it doesn’t leave a greasy film and it’s actually lighter in weight and texture than the body moisturizer I use in the winter. I think the scent is a good spring scent–light, bright, refreshing.
  • The Body Shop Shea Body Scrub ($20 for a 7.9 oz tub) I recently read some horrible statistic on Twitter (one of those accounts that has “facts” without sources, so I definitely should’ve taken it with a grain of salt) about the amount of dead skin cells that make a sort of layer of filth on top of your actual alive skin. That, coupled with my increasingly gray winter pallor, creeped me out on a level I’m not totally comfortable with, so when I saw that body scrubs were on sale during my trip to The Body Shop, I snatched one up immediately in the hopes that I could make my skin feel totally clean and new again. This scrub does the dirty work of essentially dusting (exfoliating) your skin, but also rehydrating it, and boosting it with Vitamin A and E. Perfect for the spring cleaning your skin so desperately needs post winter weather.
  • Oribe Gold Lust Nourishing Hair Oil ($36 for a 1.7 fl. oz travel-sized bottle, $48 for a 3.4 fl. oz bottle) During the winter, I generally use one of Oribe’s Leave-In Conditioners as my hair moisturizer. But in the spring and summer months in Seattle, when the moist, humid, marine air returns, the leave-in conditioner becomes too heavy and leaves my hair a little greasier than I’d like. So I switch to Oribe’s Gold Lust Nourishing Hair Oil–it’s lightweight but packs a heavy punch in terms of protecting your hair from heat damage (I love my flat iron) and also keeping your hair shiny and healthy looking, without being too heavy. It’s not cheap, but I only need to use a pea-sized amount for my thick, curly hair.
  • Julep Nail Kit (Free With Julep Manicure) I am not really a mani/pedi kind of girl. I categorically loathe not just all feet, but mine in particular, and because I am incredibly clutzy and hard on my hands, nail polish chips away in record time (yes, I have tried Shellac manicures. EVEN THOSE CHIP.). But I still see the importance of well-groomed nails, so I recently stopped into a Julep Salon for the first time. The whole experience was blog post worthy, so I might save that for another time, but one of the things I loved most about the service was that they send you home with some of the tools the technician used on your paws–a nail buffer, nail brush, and nail file. After a few months of shoving your hands deep into gloves and pockets for warmth, your cuticles and nail beds could probably use some love. And this mini kit sets you up nicely with all you need to make your hands worthy of warms rays of early spring sun.

NBCUniversal Shuts Down DailyCandy, Television Without Pity Websites

sweetnessandsnark:

So, so sad to hear about Daily Candy! One of my biggest inspos for this blog.

Originally posted on Variety:

NBCUniversal is pulling the plug on two websites — femme-focused DailyCandy and snark-fueled Television Without Pity — effective next Friday, April 4, after the media company evidently failed to find buyers for the properties.

The shutdowns, first reported by Re/code, affect 64 employees at DailyCandy and three at Television Without Pity.

In a tweet, Television Without Pity said, “TWOP will cease operations on April 4, but our forums will remain open till May 31. To our fans: Thank you for your support over the years.”

Via Twitter, DailyCandy also confirmed that it will go dark next week.

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