[Passion Projects]

AB logo with handwritten subtitle

You know when you have something you reeeeeeeeally believe in and you can’t help but be super proud and supportive no matter what the situation? Well, I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to participate in the journey of American Bear. It’s an amazing documentary directed by two of my favorite people, Gregory Grano + Sarah Sellman.

I met Sarah in 2011 when she started working at Pastabilities with me. We hit it off immediately and became fast friends; all my college friends had moved out of Syracuse and Sarah was new to the area. She mentioned this documentary she filmed with her boyfriend. The premise, relying on the kindness of strangers for a place to stay each night during a road trip across the country, really intrigued me, and I instantly wanted to be involved, even if that meant donating services.

Over the last 3 years I’ve designed stickers, postcards, posters, maps, web graphics, ran their tumblr for a year and a half, and participated in kindness events. Greg and Sarah paid whatever they could, but I think I’ve gotten more from them than I could ever give back in design hours. I am now, and will forever be, consciously aware of how much of an impact tiny acts of kindness can have on people. I feel like I’ve become a better, kinder, less selfish person simply through knowing Greg and Sarah, and everything that their film preaches. I can’t imagine not having ever crossed paths with them.

 

ANYWAY…they need help. Greg and Sarah are planning a screening tour of their film that will hopefully make it around the country. It turns out it’s really challenging to make that logistical madness work! And though they are inspired by the amazing pieces that are already coming together, Greg and Sarah are finding that there some gaps in their journey.

They would love to partner with an organization, university or high school in your current town/home town/college town/dream town to create some kindness magic and critical thinking.

It would be absolutely amazing if you could you introduce them to someone who might want to screen the film. OR you could share this info with your network to help them expand theirs!

 

Here’s all the info you need to share American Bear’s words and acts of kindness with everyone you know:

emailbeardocumentary@gmail.com

facebookAmerican Bear

websitehttp://americanbearfilm.com

movie trailerhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5yJtP4IFhU

info packethttp://www.mediafire.com/view/m114xq7y380suw6/American_Bear_Info_Packet.pdf_(beardocumentary@gmail.com)

 

Please please pleeeeeeeeeeease share this passion project with everyone you can. It will be 100% worth your time and effort.

 

– S

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[Lavender Learning]

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May was a busy month between getting back from vacation, band shows, birthdays, and work, so I was happy to get some quality time with my man Memorial Day weekend. He planned us this little road trip up to Sequim, WA to visit with his aunt and uncle, and see their lavender farm. Lavender is a huge deal in Sequim, they’re kind of known for it, but I’ll get to that a little later on.

We got up pretty early, and headed to the ferry. Miraculously, we were the last car on, and didn’t have to wait at all. The ride was fast apparently, I’d never been on this ferry before, I don’t think, and shortly after we exited the ferry terminal, we passed a gas station with weird, creepy trolls. A ways down the road, Peter had this mischevious grin on his face and said there was something he’d been wanting to take a picture in front of for awhile now. As soon as we got to it, I didn’t need him to tell me what it was.

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Still a kid a heart…when it’s appropriate, of course. Which leads me to the next part of our journey, the Olympic Game Farm, where you feed the animals. This is basically a petting zoo on crack, except you can’t really pet the animals, unless you dare. We bought wheat bread, which is the food of choice, although some of the animals didn’t seem that fond of it, and started the driving tour. It was slow going at first until we got to the elk and buffalo areas. Those guys love wheat bread.

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Aren’t they cute little nuggets? Well, maybe not little, and they did slobber all over Peter’s truck, so maybe they’re just nuggets.

 

From the game farm we headed not too far to Peter’s aunt and uncle’s house and farm. Some of the lavender had just begun blooming so the field had a hazy purple coloring to it. With the addition of the rain, it was actually kind of magical. We visited for a little while, and then headed out into the field to see some lavender up close and personal.

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We left and grabbed a late lunch on our way out of town. When we got back to Seattle we took a nap with Doug, and simply enjoyed the rest of the day.

 

– S

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[Dubai Download: Part 2]

And the saga continues…

 

Day 5 

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Lisa and I decided to explore Bur (Old) Dubai. Since we were pros at taking the metro, obviously we did that, got turned around after getting off, but only for a minute, and started walking. We ended up stumbling into the Heritage House which used to be someone’s house that they actually lived in. There was also a resident artist type guy who worked with metal making jewelry, frameable art, and other stuff. He was really nice, and didn’t speak much English, but proceeded to write both my and Lisa’s names in Arabic calligraphy! Mine is currently framed in my living room.

When we left, after being given fairly specific instructions as to where we should go next, we just started wandering towards the water, where the souks (markets) started to pop up. Unfortunately they weren’t quite what I had built up in my head. I knew that Dubai was a relatively young city, but I still thought there might be some older things. I envisioned the souks to be these wooden tables with unorganized piles of stuff for me to sort through and find, kind of like a famer’s market. Not the case. Every vendor basically had its own store, air conditioned and all. The fabric souk looked like China Town in NYC where they have pashminas coming out of their ears; I’m pretty sure it was the same stock, too. I got a couple anyway since Seattle doesn’t really have a China Town like NYC does.

We left, and got to the water’s edge where we then had to take an abra across the Dubai creek. Lisa and I decided to make the most of it, and got ourselves a private abra ride down the creek and back. On the way down the creek there was no breeze, but on the way back it was the extreme opposite. The ride ended up costing a wee bit more than we had expected, but since neither of us wanted to go to jail…we paid. We soon found the spice souks where Lisa really wanted to buy some saffron for her sister. But again, it was a bunch of stores with the same stuff all lined up next to each other. The saffron wasn’t any cheaper than it would have been in the US, so we moved on to the gold souk. Here comes another NYC reference: You know that block or two in the city that are only stores that sell gold or diamonds or whatever? That’s what this gold souk looked like, except slightly less like NYC. Even the fake purse and sunglass hawkers were included. Needless to say we didn’t end up buying anything, and went back to Rae Ann’s.

We all decided it would be pretty awesome to go to the top of the tallest building in the world at night, so we did. Grabbed dinner at The Cheesecake Factory, which had unlimited Coke refills for Rae Ann, and then started to head over to the entrance to the Burj Khalifa tour. Uuuuuuuh…someone *cough cough Lisa* forgot the tickets back at the apartment so we drove back to get them, drove back to the mall, and managed to get to the very last tour minutes before it closed. Phew! And of course we got some sweet pics.

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Day 6

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Literally all we did Friday was have brunch, and dance. In Dubai, Friday is like Saturday, and brunch is a thing. It’s not quite like US brunch. Basically everywhere in the city has a brunch and they range in price. Our brunch was all you can eat and drink, for, like, 4 hours. There was a big group of us, a lot of people Rae Ann work with, so it was really nice. The food was actually pretty awesome also. Dessert was my fullest plate, obviously. After brunch was done we walked to the downstairs of the hotel and there was a pub-like place where there was plenty of dancing and more drinking. We actually stayed there for 5-6 hours even though Lisa and I were totally against it initially. Time flies when you’re watching drunk people get crunk at brunch.

 

 

Day 7

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I love the beach. I mean, it’s perfection. Sure there are flaws in some beaches, but if I have a place to sit my butt down, and another to to swim/float in, I’m easy to please. Kite Beach had both of those things, AND an awesome view of the Burj Al Arab where we were going to have tea later.

 
The first thing Lisa booked for us was this tea at the Burj Al Arab, the 7-star hotel. We bought our plane tickets, and the next day we were heading to tea. Saturday seemed like the perfect day to do it too since we left the next day. It served as our last hurrah. And boy was it worth the wait. The whole evening was pretty surreal. First you have to get past the guarded gate; you can’t even go into the hotel unless you’re staying there, or you have a reservation at any of their restaurants, AND you can only get there 30 minutes before your reservation. Our name was on the list, so we drove up, had the car complimentary valeted, and we walked in. You’re overwhelmed with opulence in every nook and cranny of the hotel. The escalator, which is flanked by a massive fish tank that’s actually larger than my apartment, takes you up as high as you can go unless you’re staying at the hotel, or you have reservations at a restaurant on a higher floor. We did not, and even though we hopped in the elevator to go up, since we didn’t have a key to a room, it just sat there, and we had to get out. Tea was simply amazing. Champagne, berry tart, finger sandwiches, vegetable wantons, sorbet palette cleanser, scones with clotted cream and jam, dessert, and tea. I mean, it was totally worth it. After our almost 3 hour service, we took a couple of pictures and waved goodbye at all the rich people actually staying there. It rained on the way home for all of 30 seconds.

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Lisa and I packed all our stuff up, and Rae Ann took us to the airport the next morning. The trip was a once-in-a-lifetime type of trip, and I’m so glad I got to experience it with one of my favorite people.

 

– S

 

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[Dubai Download: Part 1]

Dubai. There is no way I’m going to try and write one, singular post about my week long trip, or maybe there is…

 

I started writing this post the day I got back from Dubai, which was May 4th, and haven’t touched it since. It’s going to be the mother of all posts, in two parts, but I hope you want to take the time, or two or three, to read through everything, and get the best gist of how amazing this trip was.

 

Day 1

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Lisa and I decided to get an early start to the day and take a taxi over to the Jumeirah Grand Mosque for a tour and some cultural education on Islam. I really glad this was the first activity because it gave me a different perspective on something I knew very little about; previously, all I had about Islam was what I’d learned from TV and the news, which can, at times, be very biased. I came out more knowledgeable, and full of camel milk ice cream, WHICH, is amazing, and I totally wish we had it in the states.

After the tour and ice cream, we headed to the mall. But this isn’t just any mall, it’s the Dubai Mall, which happens to be the largest mall in the world. So, obviously, we had to go. We surprisingly did very little shopping, but ate lunch, walked around for hours, and bought 1 iced tea so that we could use their wifi for an hour. Totally worth it. We also got our first, up-close view of the Burj Khalifa and met up with Rae Ann, our lovely host, for dinner and a fabulous water + light show in the fountains outside the mall and Burj Khalifa.

 

Day 2

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In our original plan, Lisa and I had talked about going to Abu Dhabi, but for a combination of reasons, we didn’t. Instead, we headed to Jumeirah Beach. We rented chairs and an umbrella and soaked up the sun for hours. The water was perfection, and if it hadn’t been so freaking hot, like, boobs sweating in the shade hot, we would have stayed forever. When we got back to Rae Ann’s, we showered, hung out for a bit, and then went to the Irish Village for dinner.

I love me some local cuisine wherever I’m traveling, so the one thing that disappointed me about Dubai was the food. Sure there was some traditional middle eastern food, but Dubai doesn’t have it’s own specialty so we ended up eating at a lot of American-esque restaurants.

 

Day 3

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We didn’t go to Abu Dhabi today either. Looking back I sort of regret not going even though I really enjoyed all the other things we did. Instead, Lisa and I used the Metro to get around Dubai and explore. We went to The Mall of the Emirates, which has an indoor ski slope (!), and the harbor. We walked around a ton in the scorching sun, grabbed lunch inside, walked some more around the harbor, and then hobbled back to the Metro. Lisa and I managed to persuade Rae Ann to go out with us on a school night and go to a ladie’s night at the hotel next to the Burj Al Arab. We each got two free glasses of champagne, and since Rae Ann wasn’t really drinking, Lisa and I each got 3.

 

Day 4

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Lisa and I took the Metro again today to the Dubai Mall for our first trip to the top of the Burj Khalifa. Unfortunately there were a couple of…setbacks.

There was a disgusting, burping woman on the Metro that had no concept of personal space. She was practically standing on top of me, which I could understand if the metro had been that full, but it wasn’t. At one point, if I hadn’t moved my leg, she would have be straddling it. In the middle of the ride, she let out a particularly loud, awful sounding burp. Lisa and I couldn’t help but laugh, because, who does that? That did, however, lead us to check the time of our tour and realize it was 30 minutes sooner than we had thought! I can honestly say I have never walked so fast in my entire life. Not only did we practically have to speed walk through the entirety of the LARGEST MALL IN THE WORLD, but we had to do it in 10 minutes. If it hadn’t been completely air conditioned we would have died from over-exhaustion in the heat. Luckily, or miraculously, we made it on time, with minutes to spare.

At the “top,” or 124 floors up, it was a beautiful view. Even with the glass surrounding us it was windy, but that made for some pretty fun windblown selfies. We also got the clearest day yet, so when taking pictures, you could actually see things!

After heading home, we changed and left again to go on a desert safari! We had our very own air conditioned vehicle to take us out to the desert and then ride sand dunes. I mean, come on. That’s awesome. We saw camels, spinning men, and a belly dancer. Dinner was more traditional middle eastern food with kebabs and such. There was also a henna tent. Obviously I got some. The woman got in on my nail, and it is still stained, but I can at least see how much my nails grow. I was a truly enjoyable experience, and I’m so happy to have done it.

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Part 2 coming soon!

 

– S

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[#blessed]

#blessed

This past weekend was a wonderfully crazy one.

 

Short version:

-I met Peter’s kids.

-And spent Easter with his family.

 

Long version:

As I walked up to Peter’s house late Saturday morning, I started getting nervous again. I thought I had shaken all my jitters and worries, but apparently that wasn’t the case. What kind of questions are they going to ask me? How is this supposed to work with him if they don’t like me? What if I’m not ready to meet them? My hands were instantly sweaty as I knocked on the door, but within 30 seconds all the uneasiness went away. His daughter, who’s 4.5, told me she wanted me to sit with her in the recliner until we left. I think I was trying to prepare for meeting them by thinking of it as an interview with serious questions and such, when really, kids that age just want someone to play with and pay attention to them.

It probably helped that his kids are both really well behaved, respectful, and we had stuff planned. Kids are funny though, they don’t understand having a need to be accepted and liked, and therefor they just accept and like everyone. Peter says they really like me, and I’m not trying to be cynical, but I can’t help but think that they like everyone. He assures me though that they really like me. Before they went to bed, they asked, “Miss Stephanie, are we going to see you tomorrow?!” And that’s when I about died.

Honestly, in my perfectly planned out life plan I didn’t see any kids in my life until I was at least 30. I want them, but I didn’t think I’d have them until later on, but life has a funny way of throwing you curve balls that really end up being underhand pitches. (You like that baseball analogy?) Peter was an unexpected surprise that has turned into this wonderful thing I can’t imagine being without, and he just happens to come with two adorable, sweet humans. He told me before our second date, which was the day after the first, that he had two kids. At that point I already had such a strong connection with him that even though they were eminent, I didn’t have any worries or insecurities about the things that would go along with that in the future, which I saw with him before that second date. The heart is an amazing thing, just when you think it’s as full as you’d ever need it to be, it makes room for more, and I’m happy to fill it.

 

Sunday morning started early, but I showed up with coffee, so everything was fine. The four of us drove to Everett, where Peter’s parents live, and went to church. Lunch was lovely, and I was appreciative of all the veg friendly foods available for me. (Peter’s mom even made the potato casserole without cream of chicken!) After lunch we just sat around visiting, talking about Jean’s book, my trip to Dubai, and a multitude of other things. I don’t think any of us really wanted to leave, but Peter had to get the kids back to their mom, so we had to go.

For me, it’s never been about the holiday, but more about the people you get to see and spend time with. Holidays without my family have been somewhat emotional for me the last year or so; I’m still figuring out how to come to terms with this, because, in the long run, I probably won’t be moving back to Syracuse. Family is one of the things that I hold dearest, and to be able to have found someone who understands that, and is the same way, is immeasurably amazing. It’s an incredible feeling finally realizing that you’ve made yourself a new home.

 

– S

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[Field of Floral Dreams]

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Peter and I drove up to La Conner for the Tulip Festival. I give him props for agreeing to do that, but I also think he likes taking long drives, plus we ate really good food. AND it’s not like I dragged him into any antique shops or anything…oh wait…

It was a gloriously sunny day across the western half of Washington. I’m sure you can relate to the feeling of the sun on your skin and face, even though your face is covered in skin, after a long, dreary winter. It’s like your whole body and soul is rejuvenated and reborn. That might be a slight exaggeration, but it’s a pretty good feeling regardless. We stopped at one of the many tulip fields and just walked around the rows and rows of yellow and red flowers basking in the sun.

If I haven’t told you already, then you should know, I’m a flower fiend. Between April and October you can almost always find fresh cut flowers or some other form of plant life in my apartment or office at work. They make everything better, and these fields of tulips in full bloom were no exception. I couldn’t go more than 30 seconds without smiling. Peter kept asking me what was up, and I just kept telling him I was happy. Happy to be there with him, happy to be surrounded by flowers, and happy the sun was out.

After that detour we headed into “downtown” La Conner, which is really just a “Main St.” There were a handful of shops, lots of food options, and a bountiful amount of sexy cars which kept Peter’s head turning every couple of feet. We walked up and down the streets for a while and then headed to a restaurant that Peter’s mom had suggested. If I can avoid veggie burgers at restaurants I usually do because 9 times out of 10 it’s a frozen patty that really isn’t that good. There was plenty for me to choose from, but something was telling me to get a veggie burger, so I did, with caramelized onions and Tillamook cheddar cheese. No joke, best veggie burger I have ever had in my entire life, including ones that I’ve made from scratch. It was crunchy on the outside and flavorful and soft on the inside, but it didn’t fall apart, which is the problem I had with the ones I’ve tried to make. Every bite made me close my eyes with pleasure. If I was turned on by food, this veggie burger wouldn’t have had to try very hard to get me to go home with it. I mean, seriously.

We left after my affair with the veggie burger and walked back to the car to head home. Besides the traffic we hit, it was a pretty flawless day. I’d be happy with a couple of days like that a year, but I’ve been lucky to have far more a couple so far this year. 2014 is shaping up to be pretty amazing.

 

– S

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[Spring Always Brings New Things]

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You know how I met Mr. Sullivan’s family last weekend? Well, the reason it’s taken me almost a full week to update you isn’t because it didn’t go well; work has been a little nuts this week with some unexpected surprises. But back to The Sullivans.

For starters, I’m practically a midget compared to all of them. Peter’s mom is the shortest at 5’10”, so, yeah. I think I have a big enough personality to make up in the height department, though. Obviously I was a little nervous, I mean, it’s not everyday that you meet your boyfriend’s family, and there are a lot of them: 4 brothers and a sister, plus his parents. I’ve got all the names down and general descriptions of what they do, so I think I’m in a pretty good spot.

Anyway, dinner was lovely and I had so much fun getting to know his family. Their dynamic is kind of amazing, and it’s not something that you run into often. I was definitely reminded of the way that I am with my family, and somehow that made me feel more comfortable and actually less like I wasn’t in on an inside joke. When it was time to go I didn’t really want to leave. I’m excited to get to know them all better, and let them see who I am.

Work, however, was not as easy this week. Without getting into too many details, I’ve been splitting my time between two totally different projects. Project A has been a consistent thing since October, but it’s not really what I had in mind for my future work aspirations. Project B is an up and coming thing that revved up only a month or two ago, but it’s something I would love to do more with. Sorta vague, I know. Sorry. But the good news is that my wish came true, albeit rather abruptly, and I’ll no longer be working on Project A, as of today, at all!

Also, I took an Intro to Yoga workshop last Saturday which inspired me to give yoga the good ‘ol college try. So, I’m taking my very first, actual, hot yoga class tomorrow morning. It helps that someone from work is doing it too; forces me to be a touch more accountable. (I’m currently pounding a Nalgene bottle of water so I don’t die.)

And on that note, I’m off to bed. Here’s a little something I found and felt like sharing: It’s a song, listen to it.

 

– S

 

ALSO, my trip to Dubai is in 3 weeks O_O ohmygod am I excited.

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[Practice Makes Perfect]

 

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This floral arrangement may have been practice for the one I’ll be bringing to my boyfriend’s mom, who I will be meeting this weekend along with his dad, sister, and one of 3 brothers I haven’t met yet.

It might be a little weird, but I’m excited-nervous and practicing and planning helps calm me down. Plus now I get my own kickass flowers to bring to work and brighten up my windowless office. Really, it’s a win-win.

 

– S

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[Togetherness]

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Before I start writing this post I just want to say that I don’t want this to turn into a relationship based blog. I feel like lately that’s what it has become, and it’s hard because it is part of my life, and right now it’s the part that I’m the happiest in. With that said, I’m going to talk about my relationship now. #sorryimnotsorry

Mr. Sullivan and I had a lovely date night this past Wednesday. We met up on the east side after work, got massages and grabbed dinner. We talked about serious life stuff, made fun of the bridal party sitting near us and the fact that our server looked like a more manly version of Eli Manning, and simply enjoyed each other’s company. I always have a good time with him, even if we’re just sitting with each other doing our own thing. It’s like, real life.

 

– S

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[Playing Catch-up]

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It’s been awhile since I last posted, and for that, I apologize.

Here’s the short version of what’s been going on:

  • I turned 25.
  • My mom came to visit.
  • I fell in love.

 

Here’s the long version:

You know when you say you love someone for the first time it feels weird coming out of your mouth even if you wholeheartedly believe it? Yeah, that happened. After Mr. Sullivan and I exchanged those words Valentine’s Day weekend (a touch cliche, but it felt right) for a week afterwards it felt a little strange. I have never, ever, ever, ever felt this way about someone and I think we might be in it for the long haul…but stay tuned to find out.

I turned 25, but my last couple birthdays have been kind of depressing. Last year it was the first one I spent away from my mom, dad, and sister so to say it was weird, is an understatement. It was so nice having my aunt, uncle, and cousin to celebrate with, but it wasn’t the same; I didn’t really have any friends and I was in this new, unfamiliar place far away from everything I’d ever known. (I’m sorry that was so dramatic.)

This year it was totally different; I have friends, and a wonderful boyfriend who went above and beyond what I was expecting. I had a lovely morning and got flowers delivered to me at work (bravo) and also received an orchid from Sara, who is the sweetest. My work day was easy and lots of people said ‘Happy Birthday.’ (Last year basically nobody at work knew who I was, and my birthday was on a Sunday.) As soon as I got home, which was early, I hopped in the shower and got ready for dinner. My handsome man picked me up curb side and even showed up with more gifts, which I was not expecting; flowers and dinner would have been more than enough. BUT, he got me a lovely Kiehl’s set of lotions, facial cleanser, and soaps, AND a very generous gift card to Aritzia. Then on top of all that, we went to Palisade, which is tres nice. I felt so special, loved and like I was the luckiest girl in the world.

Three days later, my mom came to visit me! There were some flying issues, but she managed to make it to Seattle only 12 hours late. I felt like we went non-stop for four days straight; we went to the Space Needle, Chihuly exhibit, took the monorail downtown and explored Pike Place Market, visited the Seattle Art Museum, had dinner with Mr. Sullivan (that’s right, Mama Liz met the boyfriend), spent an entire day at the Salish Lodge and Spa getting massages and mani-pedis, we had dinner next to Snoqualmie Falls, ate a late breakfast at Toulouse Petit, drove up to the casino and outlet mall in Tulalip, and then finally met up with my aunt and uncle for a late lunch Sunday afternoon. My mom spent a couple of days with my cousin and we reunited Wednesday night when I brought her home with me. She was able to venture around city center and visited the EMP museum Thursday. When I got home from work we went to see the Ballard locks and got dinner at Red Mill. Obviously it was a tearful goodbye, but she’s my mama and I’m gonna miss her…until the next time.

So that’s that. Hope it was worth the wait!

 

– S

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