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Posts from the ‘Seattle’ Category

*Seattle Top 10

Before I get too far away from Seattle, I want to do a “farewell” post for the city.  This is my own “Top 10” of the people, places, and experiences that made my [just over] three and a half years there great!

  1. Seattle Pacific University:  SPU is why I moved to Seattle and where I spent much of my early days in the city.  SPU’s MA-TESOL program was excellent: great professors, great classmates, pretty campus, and I felt like I left the program very well-prepared for teaching English.
  2. Coffee:  I wouldn’t have made it through grad school without coffee, and really no post about Seattle could leave this out.  From the original Starbucks (and 200 other locations throughout the city) to local favorites like Zoka Coffee, Caffe Vita, or Java Bean, you’re never far from a great cup of coffee in Seattle.  Even better than that though is the fact that coffee-holism is completely accepted (and perhaps encouraged), and a dire need for a cup of coffee at 3:00 in the afternoon is understood.
  3. Microbrews:  While I’m talking about beverages, I think I became a bit of a beer snob in Seattle.  I learned that I love hoppy beers like IPAs and I definitely prefer a pale ale or amber to a lager or a stout.  Some local faves of mine include Mac & Jack’s Amber Ale, Manny’s Pale Ale, and the Elysian’s Immortal IPA.
  4. Rain:  Seattle’s reputation is not undeserved!  Although it rarely downpours in Seattle, many months of the year are characterized by a slow, steady drizzle.  The rain gets old, but even Seattle’s gray clouds are not without silver linings:  A) Your plans are never ruined by rain; you plan for rain.  B)  If you’re too busy to curl up with a good book and a cup of coffee on one rainy day, you’ll have another opportunity tomorrow.  C) Two words: rain boots.  D) Seattle’s sunny days more than make up for the gray ones!  When the sun comes out in Seattle, the city is truly one of the most beautiful places you’ll ever visit!
  5. Blue Sky Church:  Despite the gray sky often seen in Seattle, Blue Sky is easy to find just across Lake Washington in Bellevue.  I found the church shortly after I moved to Seattle and absolutely loved being a part.  Blue Sky values deep relationships and community among its members, and I made some truly amazing friends there!
  6. Kaplan:  Returning to #1 on this list, I moved to Seattle to learn how to teach English.  During my second quarter at SPU I landed a job teaching English to international students at Kaplan, and it turned out to be one of the best jobs (and some of the most fun) I’ve ever had.  I’m incredibly thankful to have had a job where I loved going to work, got to meet many awesome people from literally all over the world, and made some great friends both among students and coworkers!
  7. NSCC:  After teaching for a few years at Kaplan, I had the opportunity to teach at North Seattle Community College.  I enjoyed getting to do things like choosing my own textbooks, creating a syllabus, and coming up with quarter-long projects.  Even more than that, I loved teaching both the international student population as well as immigrant and refugee students.  I also had some pretty rad coworkers there.
  8. Riding the Bus: I know, I know… Seattle’s public transit system is not the best.  I’d probably give the city a B-, and I’m an easy grader.  (Not in class, of course).  Regardless, this was the first time in my life that I lived in a city where you could get by without your car, and I loved it!
  9. Ballard:  Cupcake Royale, Conor Byrne, La Carta de Oaxaca, The Matador, Old Town Ale House, Java Bean, Golden Gardens, King’s Hardware, The Majestic Bay, my apartment… I’ve written about all this before; need I say more?
  10. Fremont, Queen Anne, Wallingford, Capitol Hill, Greenwood, Green Lake, Mountains, Boats, and Water…: Okay, perhaps that’s a little much for #10, but the point is that Seattle is a city made up of distinct neighborhoods and is surrounded by extreme natural beauty.  Snow-covered mountains, sailboat-covered lakes, tiny craftsman homes clustered on the hills around the city… I loved every day in Seattle, and I’m thankful I had the chance to live in such a great place!

*Boat in Fisherman’s Terminal

I like this picture because I took it from inside a moving bus going across the Ballard Bridge, above Fisherman’s Terminal.  I didn’t expect the picture to come out at all, but it’s not too bad.  The view of all the boats from the bridge is one of my favorites in Seattle.

*A really nice day

Hello again!

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, but I’m back!  Between teaching at the community college and teaching at Kaplan again for the summer, the past seven weeks have been incredibly busy and exhausting.  The busyness, however, ended yesterday evening, and today was so nice that I decided to start blogging again just to tell you about it.

(Disclaimer: probably in more detail than you really need or want.  Okay, I’ve warned you).

Yesterday was the last day of the quarter at the community college.  Today was the graduation ceremony and end of quarter party.  I had a really fantastic class this quarter and  I’ve  definitely enjoyed being back at Kaplan and spending time with co-workers there, but I was overwhelmed working both jobs, so I’m happy to be back to only one for now.  (I’ll be at Kaplan for a few more weeks before I head South for a short vacation).  Expecting the quarter to be tiring, I had already planned to have a sub at Kaplan today and tomorrow, so thankfully I was able to move at a slower pace today and have a long weekend to rest and relax.

Some of my students during our field trip to Pike Place Market. *Thanks Nguyen for the picture!

The graduation ceremony and party didn’t start until 10:30, but I’ve been getting up so early all summer that I woke up before 6 today.  I couldn’t go back to sleep, so I went ahead and got up.  I made a cup (or four) of coffee, and spent some time reading my Bible and a Beth Moore devotional journal that came in the mail yesterday.  Although I’ve been a Christian for a while, I’ve actually never read the entire Bible.  I read about 80% of it once, and then lost the checklist where I was keeping track, and ended up starting over.  I’m back at the 80% mark, and this time the checklist is actually attached to the Bible, so hopefully I won’t lose it this time!

Anyway, after reading I got ready for work and went to catch my bus.  I had thought about driving today, but yesterday I realized that I pay the same price for a quarter of a tank of gas as I do for unlimited bus rides each month, which has further motivated me to bus instead of drive.  I personally really enjoy riding the bus, and for the price, you can’t beat it!

Graduation and the party were nice.  Several students who I taught in Level 5 during spring quarter graduated from the program, so it was fun to see them and their first experience with caps, gowns, and tassel-turning.  It was also nice to chat with co-workers and students.  Afterwards I spent a few hours grading finals (that’s what I get for giving such a long exam), and then went to happy hour with a couple of colleagues.  We went to an Indian/Mediterranean restaurant near the school that they go to often and had wonderful garlic nan and chicken tikka something.  After they left, I stayed a little longer, sipping chai and working on the exams.

After grading for a while, I realized I needed to leave to catch a bus over to Tutta Bella Pizzeria in Wallingford for an early dinner with one of my best friends, Jessica.  I went to the bar to pay for my tea, and the server said, “Oh, don’t even worry about it.  You guys come in here all the time.”  It was actually my first time there, so I thought it was really nice of them to give me the tea just because they know my co-workers.  (Thanks Amy and Amilee)!

The bus stop was nearby and I only had to wait a few minutes before the bus came.  While I was waiting, I noticed that yellow leaves were already falling off the trees.  The weather was warm but not hot, and there was a light, cool breeze.  It seems like fall is already on its way!  (If you’re not in the Seattle area, you might not realize that summer this year lasted all of about two weeks.  However, autumn is really nice out here, and I’m looking forward to pumpkin spice lattes, leaves, and actually wearing scarves to stay warm instead of just for the look.

I wasn’t exactly sure how close the bus would take me to Tutta Bella, but it ended up dropping me off just across the street.  Tutta Bella recently won 2010 Independent Pizzeria of the Year by Pizza Today magazine.  To celebrate, they’re giving one free pizza per table if you dine in.  (Ends on Sunday; if you’re in Seattle, I definitely recommend it.  Their pizza is fantastic)!

Jess and I sat at one of the outdoor tables, enjoying the weather (and the pizza) and catching up.  I have spent far less time with my friends than usual as a result of my summer schedule, so it was really nice to hang out and relax without thinking about what I was going to teach for six hours the next day, or what I needed to grade when I got home.  (Haha, although I do need to finish grading those exams now that I am home…).

After dinner I had planned to catch the 44 home, but the weather was so nice that I walked instead.  The walk to my apartment from Tutta Bella took me from the edge of Wallingford through upper Fremont, and then down the hill into Ballard.  Tonight was actually the third time I’ve walked that way in the past couple of weeks, and it’s a gorgeous walk.  Since you’re headed west, you can watch the sun set over the Olympic Mountains as you go.  Also, at the top of the hill, before going down into Ballard, you can see Puget Sound in between you and the mountains.  When I walk down the hill, I cut through the neighborhood north of Market, which is full of cute craftsman homes with nicely landscaped yards.

The walk took about 45 minutes, which brings us to an hour and 20 minutes ago.  Since then, I’ve just been relaxing and telling you every. single.  thing. I. did. today. (Haha, if you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading)!  Now that we’re caught up though, I think I’m going to go finish those exams I was telling you about.

Check back again soon, I’m going to try to blog more regularly now that I have a little more time.  Good night!

*Books, beer, and baba ganoush

This describes one of my favorite places in Seattle; if you’ve been there, you probably know exactly where I’m talking about.

Hidden away in Ravenna, the upstairs is a new/used bookstore and a Greek restaurant.  Downstairs is a well-lit pub, slightly reminiscent of a mountain ski lodge.  There are giant wood tables perfect for a game of Settlers or spades while having one of the NW’s great microbrews (I believe there are about 12 on tap).

I’d tell you the name, but it’s become overcrowded already and I want to make sure that I can still find a place to sit the next time I’m there.  If you’re curious, I guess we’ll just have to go together!

*Ballard, Adventures at Goodwill, and Thoughts on Thankfulness, part I.

Part I: Ballard.

Disclaimer: Long but  no real point, just thoughts on Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood.

Yesterday was cold but sunny, and I had a few hours on my hands between the morning service at church and a meeting there in the evening.  Planning to take a Sunday nap, I ended up back at my apartment in Seattle.  However, before I had a chance to climb into bed, I noticed a missed call from one of my best friends, Caitlin.

Caitlin and I hadn’t chatted for a few weeks, but on Friday night while at ToST in Fremont with some friends, she had received a few random texts from my phone, written by my friend Brian, pretending to be our friend Jared (also at ToST).  Jared, Caitlin, and I had all gone to high school together, so the texts weren’t completely random, but Jared and Caitlin haven’t actually talked in years!  Some clarification for the texts was needed, as well as a good talk with a great friend, so the nap was quickly forgotten.  Instead, I decided to walk down to Market Street to buy some gloves and a cup of coffee, and then take a stroll around Ballard and catch up with Caitlin.

Although I was thoroughly expecting to enjoy conversing with Caitlin, I was also pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed just being out in Ballard.

My apartment is only a few blocks off of Market Street and the walk there, as usual, was uneventful.  The day before it had actually been more interesting, as the small lawn of St. Luke’s had been full of church members caroling and offering hot apple cider and BBQ to passersby.  I had stopped for the cider and to chat for a few minutes that day, but yesterday I continued on, the church quiet and peaceful as it often is.

I headed straight to Market Street Shoes, planning to stop in only long enough to get a pair of gloves so my hands wouldn’t freeze while holding the phone.  I had noticed their hats and scarves before, so I was suprised to find they didn’t sell gloves at all!  They sent me across the street to Market Street Athlete, assuring me I could get gloves there.

I headed that way, but instead of crossing the street at the crosswalk as I should have, I decided to turn down Ballard Avenue and head the other way instead.  I was so glad I did, because it turns out that Ballard Ave. is quite the street!

The Ballard Sunday Farmers Market was just winding down and there were lots of people milling about.  I walked down the street slowly, peering into store windows and checking out the numerous coffeehouses, bakeries, restaurants, pubs, and boutiques.  I wasn’t quite sure how I had lived in Ballard for over three months (and Seattle for over two years) and not discovered this wonderful area yet!

Eventually I realized I had been here before, if only once.  One of my first friends in Seattle was a guy named Stephen who I had met through the “New to Seattle” group on facebook.  Sharing an interest in traveling, we had gotten together a few times to swap stories and explore the city a bit.

Shortly after meeting, he had two couch surfers from Sweden, Mirja and Anna-Maria, crash on his couch for a few days.  The four of us, as well as his friend Anthony, had gone to a pub in some place called “Ballard.”  At that point, I was still perpetually lost in the city and had no idea that this “Ballard” neighborhood bordered “Fremont,” the neighborhood that Stephen lived in.  (I was still living in Beaux Arts/Bellevue then).  I had really liked the pub that we went to, and have been searching Seattle for it ever since, but to no avail.  I could vividly remember the inside of the pub, but not the name or location.  Yesterday, as I peered in window after window, I found myself staring in at the very table we had sat at, more than two years ago!  The pub’s name is King’s Hardware (only slightly misleading), and it is on Ballard Avenue.

After re-discovering King’s, I wandered in and out of a few stores, still searching for the gloves before calling Caitlin.  I never did find a pair of gloves, but I did discover a few interesting stores, and have a growing list of places to eat and drink.  Eventually I sat in Marvin’s Garden Park (which makes me think of Marvin Jarman, for those of you from Greenville) and called Caitlin and then my Granddad.

As I walked home, I thought about the things that I like about Ballard, and Seattle.  I love being able to walk around, without a car, meandering in and out of stores, people-watching, and finding new, fun hangouts to try with friends.  In fact, this ability to walk in and out of shop and restaurant with no need for a car is one of the things that I love about Europe.  Here, in the US, I feel like it’s the exception rather than the rule, whereas in Europe, driving from shop to restaurant to home is almost unheard of.

Even more that that, however, is the ability to do this in a place that is surrounded by the beauty of water and mountains.  Ballard is super-close to Fishermen’s Terminal, which is full of picture-perfect boats.  And, on a clear day, all you have to do is glance up and to the west to see snow-capped mountains glistening in the sun.  It really is a wonderful place to be.

This morning I went for a run through Ballard, and down Ballard Avenue, again perusing the shops and restaurants.  Now, I sit in Ballard’s Caffè Fiorè, enjoying the atmosphere of one of Seattle’s best coffeehouses and an espresso doppio while reading, writing, and surfing the Internet.  As the quarter has come to an end, I have a little extra time to enjoy Seattle before flying South for Christmas.  I’m looking forward to being home, but I’m also excited to continue exploring Seattle and Ballard before I leave.

*September was quite a month!

Once again, a month has gone by without a single blog post.  However, this time there was a good reason- and more than one!

I am pretty much settled into my new apartment (housewarming party this weekend, yay)!  Jessica and I are having a lot of fun as roommates, and I’m enjoying “rediscovering” Seattle again, as I join her in trying new places.  (Cupcake Royale, which is only a few blocks from our apartment, has become a personal favorite)!


However, although the new apartment is great, we’ve had quite a bit of trouble getting our Internet set up.  In fact, someone came to our apartment for the third time today, and the result is the same: still no Internet.  For this reason, I haven’t had many chances to blog.

I’ve also been busy with lots of good things; in the past two weeks I’ve started dating one of my most favorite people, Fredy, (=D) and started teaching two classes at a local community college, in addition to still teaching at Kaplan and doing Microsoft tutoring!

Fredy is a really cool guy; I met him about a year or so ago through my friend Jied and we go to the same church.  We’ve been friends for a while so dating him now is fun.  Teaching at the community college level is something completely new for me and presents some new challenges, but the first couple of days have been good.

While I think October is going to be another busy month, I think it’s going to be a nice one!  Hopefully I’ll find a little more time to update this… if not, I’m sure you’ll hear from me in November!

*Top of the list.

In the past couple of weeks I’ve seen Seattle at the top of several different lists.  It really is a wonderful city, so I thought I’d share these with you:

#1: Smarter City’s List of the 15 Most Sustainable U.S. Cities (No. 1)


So the bus system isn’t the most efficient city transport I’ve ever experienced, but Seattle did get a lot of points for the brand new light rail.  Now, if only the city could find a way to re-route the trolley so that people could justify riding it…


#2: Marie Claire’s List of the Top 20 Cities for Single Gals (No. 1)

Seattle also ranked as the #1 US city for single ladies to find a great single guy…  (Hmm… good to know).  You might think you’d find those guys at Microsoft, Amazon, or Boeing, but the truth is, they’re actually all at Blue Sky (and no, they don’t have hair):



#3: MSN’s City Guide’s Top 10 U.S. Used Bookstores (Unordered)

This list doesn’t rank cities specifically, but Seattle’s Third Place Books (which just happens to be home to my favorite pub), did make the unordered list as one of two used bookstores representing the cities of the Northwest.  Not surprisingly, the Seattle Public Library also made MSN’s list of 10 Coolest Libraries in the US.  (With lime-green escalators and a multi-lingual floor, how could it not)?


*Thanks flickr user Henry Roxas (couch) for the image.


#4: World Hum’s Best Cities to Drink Coffee (Unordered)


“With its oft-gray and drizzling ceiling beckoning residents indoors for shelter, Seattle is America’s undisputed birthplace of coffee culture.”

No surprise here.  World Hum listed seven cities around the globe; Seattle was the only US city listed.  Perhaps more surprising, at least to me, is that I’ve traveled to (and drank plenty of coffee in) the first three of the other six cities listed: Vienna, Amsterdam, and Rome.  Perhaps this means trips to Melbourne, Aus., Wellington, N.Z., and Buenos Aires are needed?

*Picture from article.