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Wandering Pike Place Market

Posted by on Aug 27, 2014 in Travel | 0 comments

There’s nothing wrong with seeing the highlights of a place, the well-known “must-see” spots. But it’s always great when you can go beyond that, get off the beaten path, take the side streets.


Pike Place Market isn’t just a tourist attraction. Locals also frequent the farmers’ market, shops, cafes, and bars. It’s brimming with quirky Seattle flavor. The Market rewards those who are willing to explore, to keep their eyes open.



Of course, it’s fun to watch the guys throwing fish, and then stroll down the main arcade checking out the fruit and flowers. But you don’t have to stop there. Try chocolate pasta. Peruse the busker bulletin board.

pike-place-3 copy


If you don’t want to wait in line at the original Starbucks, you can try a new kind of crumpet.


Go down a level or two and you’ll find a magic shop, a record store, a place that sells squirrel underwear.


Around the corner from the famous Gum Wall, there’s an alley covered with posters, stickers, and street art. (I’m always on the lookout for art in unexpected places – including alleys.)

A paste-up of a man wearing a business suit and a space helmet caught my eye. He’s the Clastronaut and is inspired by the feeling of never being at home.

That makes sense to me. We’re all travelers.


So you might as well wander around, get lost, and see what’s around the corner.

Pike Place Market is one fantastic place to do that.



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DIY Embroidered Watches and Ribbon Backdrop

Posted by on Aug 22, 2014 in Craft | 0 comments

First: orange or lime green?

They’re both bright, citrusy colors, so I don’t know what – if anything – each person’s color pick said about their personality. But, by the end of the night, everyone at our Craft Hack gathering had a chance to put their own creative stamp on their project.


You may have seen our craft for this month on our Facebook page. This time, it came in Brit Kits, provided by Timex and Brit + Co (who I am a contributor for). After choosing their color, each person received a kit that included a Timex Weekender Slip-Thru watch with a band that was either orange or lime, coordinating embroidery floss, needles, and instructions with sample patterns.

Everyone could work at their own pace. We shared tips and drew ideas from each other. The kit patterns got the creative juices going, and then I think all 9 of us ended up coming up with our own designs.

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Shannon and her fiancé (the lone guy of the group) teamed up, mixing and matching thread colors. He was also the one-man research team. Anne wanted to base her pattern on the traditional Russian Orthodox cross symbol, and he found one to reference. Inspired by nature, Jo Ann created a beautiful leaf pattern, and Vesna embroidered flowers. Crystal has been hand lettering a public art project, so she has ampersands on the brain lately. One found its way onto her watch.


photo 5

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Ribbon backdrop

Since I knew we’d be meeting in the dark-walled conference room, I wanted to add a little color. I threw together a last-minute ribbon backdrop (inspired by these) by looping random colors of gift wrap ribbon over baker’s twine and securing with tape.

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What I learned about making backdrops:

  • You can use Washi tape to secure your twine to the wall without making holes, but you’ll need tape every few inches to keep it up. Pushpins may be a better bet.
  • Make sure to put your backdrop in an area with enough space for the subjects and photographer to stand in front of it!
  • Don’t be afraid to tell people to move over to be better centered, etc.

A few people had to leave before the group photo, but most of us managed to cram in, showing off orange watches, green watches, and products of our imagination.


Group photo by a passerby at Gangplank. Last watch photo by Vesna Taneva-Miller.

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Handcrafted postcards

Posted by on Aug 14, 2014 in Craft, Travel | 2 comments

My favorite souvenirs aren’t mass produced. They’re things like a scarf from a street fair or wildflowers from the Rockies.


I didn’t do much shopping on my SeaSFBlog trip, but I did get a chance to stop by the Fremont Sunday Market. The market is held rain or shine, which is good, because, you know, Seattle does have 58 days a year of sunshine.


One vendor was called Fun Junk: Piles of Old Stuff. True to their word, the tables held mounds of skeleton keys, patches, watch faces, and stacks of what looked like miniature paintings. It turned out they basically were. The owner finds vintage paintings in thrift stores, cuts them into sections, and stamps ”POST CARD” across the back. The result is these beautiful, one-of-a-kind, mailable works of art.


It made me think about what else I could pick up along the way (when I’m not in Seattle) to make impromptu postcards. Travel brochures? Booklet covers? Maps? Gift boxes or packaging? It might be a good idea to pack some labels to stick over items without a blank space to write on.

You could mail pages of an on-the-go travel journal back to yourself and bind them together when you get back. Or mail a note to a friend.


As long as you meet the post office mailing guidelines for the country you’re in and make sure your postcard/letter/package is sturdy enough to handle shipping, you can really get creative with what you mail!



Fun Junk: locationsonline shop (awesome typewriter key jewelry but no postcards at the moment)

USPS mailing guidelines: domestic | international

Creative mail inspriation: “Happy mail” by Giver’s Log

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Breaking: San Francisco has TWO bridges!

Posted by on Aug 5, 2014 in Travel | 0 comments

The Golden Gate Bridge over the San Francisco Bay

The Golden Gate Bridge is kind of like the Bay Bridge’s diva younger sister. Constantly in the spotlight, she’s been called the “most photographed bridge in the world” and is super high maintenance – with a staff of 34 devoted just to touch-ups.

Even though they both span across the San Francisco Bay, one of them gets all “I’m golden” about it and the other just tells it like it is. In fact, the often-overlooked Bay Bridge stretches 8.4 miles and helps 45 million people get to work every year without making a fuss.


I don’t mean to sound like their mother or anything, but, as iconic as the Golden Gate Bridge is, they’re both beautiful in their own way. And I have pictures of both of them in my wallet. in this post. Here are a few spots where I’ve caught a great view and what you need to know to travel across.


How to Cross that Bridge When You Come to It:

Golden Gate Bridge

In Your Own Car
The good news: You no longer need to stop at a toll booth.

The bad news: You still have to pay a toll for crossing southbound to San Francisco. You just don’t have to stop. It will be charged to you via your license plate with the new Pay-by-Plate program. (Convenient or creepy? You decide!) Currently, the toll is $7 for most cars, but check for rates.

In a Rental Car
Since tolls are now collected via license plate and not on-site, make arrangements with your car rental company before you go.

Without a Car
You can walk the mile-and-a-half(ish) distance or take a (non-electric) bike or scooter during certain hours, as long as you stay on the sidewalk. Animals aren’t allowed, except, of course, for service animals. This is not the place to walk your chihuahua. His tiny little legs probably couldn’t make it that far anyway.



A few places I’ve enjoyed the view…

  • Baker Beach
  • Coit Tower (it’s in the distance of the photo above)
  • Marin County (a.k.a. the other side of the bridge)



Bay Bridge

The Bay Bridge now only accepts cash or FasTrak – no credit cards! The toll varies by time of day, currently $4-6. You don’t have to have exact change (although that’s quicker), but you do need to request a receipt if you want one.

In addition to sculptures along the nearby Embarcadero, the bridge itself has become part of a giant art installation. 25,000 LED lights covering Bay Bridge cables twinkle in constantly-changing patterns. You can see The Bay Lights through 2015, although there’s an effort underway to keep them lit for another decade. If you can’t make it to San Francisco, there’s also a livestream every night.

A few places I’ve enjoyed the view…

  • The Embarcadero
  • Coit Tower
  • Oakland

What bridge(s) do you love? Where do you go for a good view?

A big thank you to local experts Julie, Matt, Isaiah, and Allie (whose new project is the San Francisco magazine Friendly Strangers)!

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Tips for packing shoes

Posted by on Jul 30, 2014 in Travel | 0 comments

When I was repacking my suitcase to return home from my SeaSFBlog trip, I remembered seeing this trick of putting your shoes in a shower cap to keep the dirty soles off your clothes. I’ve never used a shower cap for my hair, so there was still one boxed up on the hotel bathroom counter that I could try out.


Before, I had just thrown my shoes in a plastic shopping bag, which ends up being this unwieldy, crinkly blob taking over a corner of your suitcase. The shower cap’s elastic edges made it fit snugly over my flats. There was room for a pair of wedges, as well. Then I got greedy and tried to add a pair of ankle boots, and the shower cap tore. So those went back into my shopping bag blob. The tear was small enough I could still use my shower cap, and now I’ve learned its limits. In the future, I’ll pack fewer shoes – or more shower caps.


Somewhere I read that the TSA recommended packing shoes around the edges of your bag, so they don’t block the x-ray or because terrorists pack shoes in the middle or something. (Although now it looks like they’re recommending packing them on top. Seriously, who can keep up with the TSA?!)

I also try to pack shoes and anything heavy in what will be the bottom half of my suitcase when it’s standing upright, so it’ll be more stable. Really, though, it usually ends up top heavy and constantly tipping over. On the occasions I manage to pack so it can stay up unassisted, I feel like the queen of the world!


The other shoe packing tip I see a lot is to pack smaller items inside of shoes. When it comes down to it, there are not a lot of things I want to put inside cavities made for holding feet. Socks maybe. But how short on space do you have to be to think it’s a good idea to pack your toothbrush inside your shoes? Am I the only one who’s not on board with stashing a few granola bars in your ballet slippers?

I’d love to hear your method for packing shoes and whether you ever pack anything inside them!

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Historic Globe

Posted by on Jul 22, 2014 in Travel | 8 comments

I stumbled across the Arizona Good Roads Association Illustrated Road Maps and Tour Book at the Tempe Public Library. It’s a reprint of a 1913 book full of hand drawn maps and photos of Arizona towns as they were back then. (Yay libraries! And yay maps!)

globe-good-roads book

Phoenix was sparsely populated when there wasn’t air conditioning blasting away the desert heat. All the recent development makes the city feel so new that it’s easy to forget that people have lived here for centuries. I love the window back in time this book provides.


I brought the book along when we went to my uncle’s house in Globe over Fourth of July weekend. Globe is an old mining town about an hour and a half east of Phoenix with lots of quirky antique and thrift stores. In 1913, it already had 5 hotels (!)


As we drove, I looked for surviving landmarks and tried to picture the route we would have taken in an early Ford or horse-drawn wagon. The map from Phoenix to Globe passes through Tempe, over railroad tracks no longer in use (but still there), right by the old creamery that now houses a handful of businesses – including the ever-popular Four Peaks Brewery. It continues down Apache Boulevard, which I believe was part of US 60 before the freeway was built, and winds through the Superstition Mountains over Apache Trail, and past the Roosevelt Dam.


It would have been a much slower route. Instead, we made it to Globe early enough to grab a coffee before heading out to the cookout at noon. We had a great time catching up with cousins I hadn’t seen in forever, picking cherry tomatoes from the garden, sitting in the shade and chatting.


On the way home, Phillip and I stopped in the historic downtown and tried to spot a few of the buildings in the book.



We found the 1st National Bank (now an antique store with a new facade), the courthouse, and Gila River Bank Building (currently empty and for lease).

photo 2
photo 1


I thought the school looked like what’s now The Noftsger Hill Inn, but, once we were in front of it, the details weren’t quite right. Turns out it was built in 1917. We’ll have to find the school in the picture another day. I think I’ll just have to get my own copy of the book.

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