Pike Place Market

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Remember the family trip I took over the summer? Well, today I’m finally kicking of my recaps of the trip. There are so many pictures to sort through and places to talk about, so I decided it would be easiest to do this bit by bit. I’m also thinking of doing a round-up post towards the end to link all of the posts and places in one mini guide.

I thought we’d start with one spot that many people have heard of, whether or not you’ve been to Seattle: Pike Place Market. This was one of the first destinations I added to my list and the one place that everyone named when I asked for Seattle recommendations. Most of them said, “It’s touristy, but worth it” and they were right.

Even though we had a relatively short journey from LAX to SEA, we were pretty tired when we arrived in the afternoon of our first day in Seattle. We had a chill, relaxing night, and rested up to go exploring on Day 2. And oh boy, did we explore. I think we visited the most places on this day. But there I go, getting ahead of myself again!

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Our first stop in Seattle was Pike Place Market. After reading a few travel guides, I knew that the market is more crowded in the afternoon, so I wanted us to head there on the earlier side. But, I’d forgotten what it’s like when you travel with family, and by the time all of us were ready, it was already late morning/early afternoon.

Driving to the market was my first experience with Seattle hills. I was not prepared for the incline on some of those hills. After driving around for a bit, we finally found a parking spot at what felt like a 75-degree angle, and then walked down the hill to Pike Place.

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I enjoy markets in general and Pike Place has something for everyone. There are restaurants, groceries, flowers, handcrafted goods, food stands, and much more. We spent a few hours wandering around the market and of course I went crazy with the pictures because there was so much that caught my eye.

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Some highlights of the market and surrounding areas for me were:

– Hot mini donuts: these were so yummy and there were some topped with maple and bacon bits (!!)

– Rachel’s Ginger Beer: this place was recommended to me by a friend who lived in Seattle and a refreshing drink was just what I needed after walking around for a while

– The flowers: the flowers were lovely and not crazy expensive. I was sorely tempted to take some back to our Airbnb, but I knew we’d be walking around for the rest of the day and I didn’t want them to wilt before we made it back. If I lived near the market though, I’m pretty sure a good chunk of my money would be diverted to those pretty flowers

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We were able to see the flying fish too. Somehow, in all of my research before the trip, I hadn’t heard about the flying fish before we got there. Then my mom mentioned it, but I had no idea what she was referring to. We happened to catch the show and it was pretty amusing to see the men tossing this huge fish around. One of their tricks is to throw a fish towards you and then catch it right before it seems like the fish will smack you in the face (I have a clip of my mom reacting to this- it’s so funny!).

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After we’d walked around for a bit, we grabbed some fish and chips and sat outside behind the market to enjoy our food. The weather was fantastic and sitting in that open area provided some good people watching, mostly of other tourist families just like us.

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I realized early on that one of my favorite things about Seattle is that there are views of water everywhere. Sitting on a bench overlooking the water and munching a tasty meal is something I could quickly get used to.

After our lunch, we packed up to head to the next spot on my list. But this wasn’t our only visit to Pike Place- we actually went back another day during our trip. My mom wanted to pick up some more souvenirs and I was happy to go back for another round. On our second trip, we saw the gum wall and the hula hooping guitar man, two important things that we’d missed on our first go-around!

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Pike Place Market was such a wonderful, vibrant place, and I’d definitely go back. I’d love to experience it earlier in the day too, when it’s a bit less crowded and the market is just coming to life.

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Book Reviews: August and September 2016

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Under the Harrow*

Throughout the week, Nora has been looking forward to spending the weekend at her sister’s house in the country. However, when she arrives at Rachel’s house, she’s greeted with a shocking scene- Rachel has been brutally murdered. As Nora drowns in grief, she becomes obsessed with finding her sister’s killer.

I really liked that this is more of a psychological thriller. It’s written in first-person perspective throughout, so we are really in Nora’s head as she struggles to accept what’s happened to her sister. Berry does a great job of creating an eerie and unsettling atmosphere, giving me that same feeling of unease that you get when you sense someone is behind you.

That being said, the chapters are comprised of shorter, choppier sentences with a stream-of-consciousness feel, which isn’t my favorite writing style. For me, that created some distance and prevented me from connecting with the characters fully.

As the story unfolds, the reader learns that Nora and Rachel had a close, but fraught relationship, as many sisters do. I found the exploration of this sister relationship quite fascinating, particularly since both sisters are flawed.

Nora’s world is completely shaken after her sister’s death and the description of her thoughts and feelings felt true to me. Although I struggled to connect in certain sections, there are parts of this novel that I felt were well done. I’ll be keeping an eye out for future work from Flynn Berry.

Jane Steele

YAAAAASSSSSSSS!

Ok, now for actual coherent thoughts. I’ve wanted to read this book since the beginning of the year and I’m so glad that I finally got around to it. A novel inspired by Jane Eyre with Jane as a feminist murderess? Yes, please, sign me up!

I love the original Jane Eyre and was really curious to see how Faye would handle this story. The answer is very, very well. This line from very early in the book says it all: “Reader, I murdered him.” So simple and so good!

There are lots of tidbits like that sprinkled throughout the book- references to the original text that will have you nodding along in agreement if you’ve read Jane Eyre. But Jane Steele is also her own, fully-formed character. She shares some personality traits with Jane Eyre, but differs in other areas, which I’ll let you discover when you read this book. Also, to be clear, Jane Steele is a straight-up serial killer. And yet, I love her.

This might be blasphemous for those who ship hard for Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester, but I feel that Jane Steele and Mr. Thornfield, Jane Steele’s love interest in this book, are a better match (agree or disagree? Let’s discuss this).

I think the key with a retelling (of sorts) is to treat the original text with respect, while still creating a unique story, and Faye has done a brilliant job in both areas. This was a truly enjoyable read that I would recommend to those who liked Jane Eyre.

Perfect Days

Boy meets girl. Boy thinks girl is perfect and everything he’s every wanted. Boy falls in love with girl. Boy kidnaps girl so that he can force her to fall in love with him. Uhhhh, wait a minute…

The scariest part of this book is Teo’s psychopathic behavior. He knows how he is supposed to act, but has no problem twisting the narrative to support his desires. There are certain moments in this book that made my jaw drop or made me think, “How can he get away with this?”

Something about the writing threw me off though. I’m not sure if something was lost in translation, but the writing felt stilted to me. Despite that, this was a quick read (one particular scene stands out and still makes me a bit queasy when I think about it!) that I’d recommend to some people for it’s uniquely disturbing nature alone.

The Rosie Project

I’m glad this is being adapted into a movie because this is the kind of light, enjoyable romantic comedy that I’m a total sucker for. Don, a professor of genetics, has developed the perfect solution to his quest for a partner. He’s created a tailored questionnaire that will weed out all of the highly unsuitable matches and hopefully lead him to his ideal mate. Then he meets Rosie, who’s not at all suitable in most areas. I bet you can guess where this is heading!

Although this is very predictable, it was also a lot of fun. This is a good summer read- breezy, decently written, and fun. I couldn’t help but chuckle at some of Don and Rosie’s personality traits and certain scenes that I feel will translate well on the big screen.

Rosie’s character felt like a bit of a manic pixie dream girl, but from time to time she did call out Don on his sexist behavior, which I liked. Also, there were opinions expressed by certain characters that rubbed me the wrong way, but I reminded myself that the characters’s views do not necessarily equal the author’s views.

In the end though, I liked this novel, and plan to watch the movie whenever it comes out!

The Raven King

The fourth book in the Raven Cycle series continued the formula that I love the most: the gang working together on a singular quest. I really enjoyed reading this final book in the series and it made me remember the wonder and delight I felt when I read the first book.

I know I’ve mentioned this before in a review of one of the earlier books in the series, but I truly admire the author’s ability to establish a certain mood and ambience with her words. Her writing really lends itself to the otherworldly nature of the events that take place throughout the series. Since she created such a vivid environment that I’ve become very familiar with while reading the series, finishing this final book really felt like coming home again.

I was satisfied with the conclusion of the series. For me, it was surprising, but not shocking, and if I’d considered it more thoroughly, I feel like I would have realized what they would find on the hunt for Glendower. There were also some moments that had been building up for several books and I was really glad that they were finally explored here. I could certainly read more pages about this world and these characters, and I do feel like the author has left enough ambiguity to create a spinoff series (I believe she’s confirmed that she’s working on a trilogy from Ronan’s perspective).

The Widow

For quite a while, Jean suspects that her husband has done some bad things. Despite this, she remains by his side and defends him against his accusers. However, when her husband dies, there’s no reason to be quiet anymore. Jean is a widow, finally free of her husband, and can say whatever she wants…

This book was so straightforward. Like, way too straightforward for a thriller. Let me clarify- I mean way too straightforward for a book that’s been compared to Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. I knew right away that Glen, Jean’s husband, was a bad man, and my opinion of him didn’t change throughout the novel. He’s controlling, sexist, and emotionally manipulative.

The book is told from a few different perspectives, including Jean, a reporter named Kate, and the detective working on the case. In Jean’s chapters, I think we’re meant to see a woman rediscovering herself after being freed from her husband, but what I really saw was a woman that remained a puppet, rather than the orchestrator of her own life.

Despite the fact that I continued to turn the pages, I was not emotionally invested in this story. The writing was fine, the characters were fine, and the setting was fine, but there was nothing in this thriller to thrill me. After reading this, I craved a book with some real intrigue!

Purple Hibiscus

Before reading this, I was certain that I would love this book, and I was right. Let’s just take a moment to bask in the glory of Adichie’s writing. Reading her words makes me actually want to act out the *raised hands* emoji in real life.

Kambili and her brother Jaja grow up in a strict household, with a father who has strong beliefs about religion and about what is proper. When Kambili and Jaja visit their aunt in Nsukka, they are exposed to a world filled with laughter, love, and endless possibilities.

First of all, there’s so much that I identify with in this book. My parents are also Nigerian and I also felt like I grew up in a strict household (or at least, it was much more strict than most of the other kids I knew, but not nearly at the level that Kambili and Jaja experience in this novel). So I completely understand that feeling of wanting to break free and follow a different path (and who hasn’t experienced that feeling from time to time?).

Kambili is awkward and tongue-tied because she has been raised in a home where silence is much more common than expressing your thoughts or opinions. It’s such a powerful feeling to recognize parts of yourself in a character. There are so many times when Kambili is straining to say or do the right thing, the thing that other people view as “normal,” and I can understand that feeling. At times, Kambili feels inadequate because her view of the world has been limited, and I know that feeling as well.

This is a story about family, about religion, about growing up. Adichie explores the relationships between parents and children, and siblings, and considers how we can still love the people that hurt us the most. We also watch Kambili come of age in this novel, and throughout I was cheering her on and hoping that she would find the freedom she didn’t even know she needed.

There’s so much more I could say about this novel (if you’ve read this book, let’s talk in the comments below!). The writing is absolutely beautiful, the characters are deep and real, and the setting is wonderfully evocative. In short, if you haven’t read any of Adichie’s work yet, what are you waiting for?

Tipping the Velvet

This is the first Sarah Waters book that I’ve ever read, but I think I can safely call myself a fan of her work. This book was beautifully written and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Nan is an ordinary girl living in the seaside town of Whitsable in the late 1800s. In her spare time, she loves venturing to the music hall. On one of these trips, she sees Kitty Butler, a saucy, male impersonator, for the first time. Nan is thoroughly captivated by Kitty’s demeanor and performance, and once the two actually meet, Nan’s life will never be the same.

Did I mention how much I loved this novel? The writing is so wonderfully descriptive and wistful. Nan’s family is in the oyster business, and when Waters writes about preparing the oysters, I can nearly taste them in my mouth. The descriptions of the hustle and bustle of London were fascinating and gave me further insight into that time period. I also loved the use of Victorian slang and sometimes paused to look up these words that were entirely new to me.

I’m a secret romantic (or maybe everyone already knows by now), so I loved the slow burn of these two young women falling in love. All of the sweetness and the pain and the uncertainty of first love is captured in this story. On top of that, it’s a love that must be kept secret because it’s considered “unnatural,” which of course makes things even more complicated. There are quite a few sensual scenes in this book, but they don’t feel like they were included for shock value, but instead to show the natural progression of the relationship between these two women.

What I found most astonishing was Nan’s transformation over the course of this novel. I could not have predicted that the Nan we meet at the beginning of the story would end up where she does. Nan is around eighteen when the novel begins and we witness her becoming her own person, which is rather exciting. Physical transformation is also explored, as Nancy falls in love with a woman who dresses like a man. In fact, the act of transformation through clothing is an important theme throughout the book.

So, in short, I loved the history, the romance, the discussion of gender roles, and pretty much this entire book. I found this to be an immersive reading experience. I’d look up from the book after a while and realize that I’d been reading for an hour or more (usually when I should have been in bed, asleep!). I already cannot wait for my next Sarah Waters novel.

*Disclaimer: Under the Harrow was sent to me by the publisher for review purposes, but these are my honest thoughts and opinions. 

Fall 2016 Mood

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When the seasons change, I always have the urge to clear out and revitalize my wardrobe. Now that fall has officially arrived, I’m welcoming the cooler temperatures and decreased humidity with open arms.

By the end of summer, I was pretty tired of my wardrobe. I get this feeling from time to time and I find that by just adding or rediscovering 1-2 things, I can squash the cravings back down. As I was catching up on my Feedly subscriptions a few weeks ago, I was really inspired by the mood boards that Rebecca and Ashlyn created. I also revisited the fall capsule wardrobe series that I did a couple years ago and remembered what a positive process that was.

All of this has led me to decide to put together an unofficial fall capsule wardrobe this season. I’m using the capsule wardrobe process as a guide. I really thought about which pieces I wore most frequently the last time I tried this experiment, as well as things I wanted to improve upon the next time around. Right now, I have a few items on my shopping list (either new items or replacement items), so I may write another post showing what I purchase. Last time, I wore my fall capsule wardrobe clothes from September through about March, so I’m hoping to create a really solid collection of pieces that I love that will carry me through fall and winter.

The images above are ones that inspire me and capture some element of the mood/style I’m going for this fall. As you can see, there are lots of chunky sweaters, because I think there’s nothing better than a cozy sweater when the air is crisp. I love the look of oversized sweaters paired with miniskirts and I’ve decided that thanks to my smaller frame, shorter skirts are the most flattering length on me (not too mini though!) and are what I feel most comfortable in.

It’s time to bring out the fall colors, like burgundy (my favorite color to wear in the fall). I tend to stick to the same colors every year, so I’d like to mix in a couple new colors that I don’t typically wear in the cooler months. Colors that are unexpected, or at least unexpected for me. Also, I love a simple, classic outfit that makes you look and feel effortlessly polished, so I’d like to invest in a few quality, versatile basics.

I think I buy a new pair of black boots every season or two. I’m definitely not abandoning my ankle boots, but it would be nice to have another of boots that rise above the ankle for those days when you need a bit more coverage. To finish off the outfits, I’d like a couple new coats/jackets. I’m thinking a bomber jacket for a more casual look (Although, am I cool enough to pull off a bomber jacket? The fact that I’m asking this probably means that the answer is no). And I think it’s finally time to upgrade my Target trench. I’m definitely not at Burberry levels yet, but I think I could afford a trench that looks and fits better than the one I currently have.

One thing I’ve been trying to do lately is to mentally rate my outfit every day. I think, “Did I feel good in this outfit, or was I uncomfortable all day? Did I feel polished or sloppy?” Naturally, I want to wear clothes that make me feel and look good all day, every day, so I’m trying to really hone in on the pieces that have become the real MVPs in my closet.

Now the hunt begins for the items on my list! Have you started shopping for fall, or bought anything great lately?

(images | burgundy skirt | fall view | suede skirts | quote | gray sweater | burgundy lips | floral bomber | basics | back to school | silk shirt | skirts and books | studded skirt | LA fall | the blues | leather jacket | mustard yellow | block heel | sweater weather)

SCS Home: Work in Progress

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I figured it was time for an update on the home front. The apartment is slowly, but surely, coming along. I’ve already started to make some changes, but first I thought I better show you guys what I’m working with.

I kind of decided to tackle the living room first. I’m not sure if it was a 100% conscious decision, but I like having people come over and I want to have an inviting space to host them in. Before, I’d rarely hang out in the living room, but now it’s where I spend most of my time when I’m at home.

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THE COUCH

One of the first major purchases I made for the new apartment was the Karlstad Sofa from Ikea. I actually bought mine used from a site called AptDeco because I figured it would be a bit cheaper and because they don’t make this particular sofa cover (Isunda Gray) anymore.

I already knew that it’s a pretty comfortable couch because we had the bigger, three-seat version of this sofa in my old apartment. I also knew that I wanted a light/medium gray couch for the new place. Once I settled on a style, it was just a matter of stalking Craigslist and other furniture sites until it turned up. They used to make a sofa bed version of this same couch and I would have liked to purchase that, but it was even harder to find (I only found one listing while I was looking, but it was in NJ).

I think it’s a great size for this space and I love the texture of the sofa cover. Unfortunately, so does my cat, but I knew that was a risk I was taking when I bought this couch. Even though I try to discourage him, he’s scratched up the sofa arms a bit. It’s not too terrible though and I think I can fix it so that you wouldn’t notice that much.

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THE RUG

This rug was carried over from the last apartment. It was a rug that I chose when my last roommate moved in and we started to decorate the old apartment together. As I mentioned in this post about choosing a rug, I still like this rug, but what I really wanted was a lighter-colored rug. I know a different rug will totally transform this space because right now I feel that the current rug doesn’t quite fit. I received the new rug weeks ago, but I haven’t put it out because I don’t have a kitchen table yet.

You’re probably thinking, “Huh? What does that have to do with anything?” Hear me out. I pretty much only eat in the living room, while sitting on my sofa. Now that I have this lighter rug, I think that all eating near the rug should cease, because something is bound to spill/drop on the rug without me tempting fate. I have space in my kitchen for a small table and chairs and I’d like to start eating all of my meals there. But until I purchase that kitchen table, I think I should hold off on the new rug (as much as I really want to see what it looks like in person!).

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THE COFFEE TABLE

I have wanted the CB2 peekaboo acrylic coffee table for years. If you’re a frequent Pinterest user or reader of blogs, I’m sure you’ve seen it all over the place, but I think there’s a good reason for its popularity. It’s such a good small apartment coffee table (and let’s face it, most NYC apartments are small. Very small. Tiny.). The table is a decent size, but since it’s transparent, it appears to take up very little space. It’s like a blank canvas and I think it blends seamlessly with a lot of different decor styles.

I knew which table I wanted, but I did not want to pay full price for it. After a few months of Craigslist searching (there were multiple listings, but they all sold really quickly!), I found it in great condition for half-off. I’m so happy to have it in my apartment, although it needs a good cleaning and proper styling. For now, I’ve just placed a few pretty books on top, along with a decorative lantern from Anthropologie that I couldn’t resist.

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I think that’s about all that I wanted to discuss in this post. I finally, finally put up my gallery wall over Labor Day weekend and I freakin’ love it. So much. Like a lot. I am so happy with each of the pieces that I chose and I can’t wait to show it to you guys. I also have a snazzy new end table next to my couch that I’ll be talking about in an upcoming post.

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Unsurprisingly, after a flurry of moving and decorating these past few months, my finances are quite low, so I need to hold off on additional purchases for a while. The next big items that are on my list are a kitchen table and chairs and an armchair for the living room. I also want to put up a few more pieces of art on the walls. I was thinking of blowing up one of my own pictures and hanging it above the TV, but it could get pretty expensive (although it will probably still be a lot more affordable than buying a large piece of original artwork). I’d need the photo to be pretty large and I think places like Walgreen’s and Staples only go up to 20″ x 36.” I’m not sure though- I need to do some more research and also see if I can find a decently priced frame.

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If you know any home sites for affordable furniture and decor, do share them in the comments below! Have you made any updates to your home recently?