thoughts of where we belong in this life



The Half-Full, Half-Empty Coke Can– Learning to be Thankful at Pike Place Market

I got on a bus with my friends near Google in Kirkland and we rode the 255 down to University Street Station. Once, arriving, we happened upon a square near Macy’s where they are always hosting protests or concerts or awareness events. Today, the square did not let us down.

PC: Thoughtsofhomes

The square was full of people– a band accompanied by a sign language interpreter, those handing out flyers and holding up signs celebrating 25 years of equal minimum wage for those with disabilities, and those trying to figure out what was going on in the square today.

PC: Thoughtsofhomes

The band played Katy Perry’s Roar. It was definitely off-beat, but it didn’t matter. Everyone– whether standing, sitting, rolling by in a wheel chair, or intently watching the interpreter– was having a great time. It was a public party celebrating a better life for those with special needs.

After lingering for a song or two, we decided to make our way towards food, because we were hungry and I knew this amazing place. It’s right across from a Show Girls building, so it’s not really a place to take children. But, why blame them for an unfortunate business location?

PC: Thoughtsofhomes

This restaurant, Falafel King, has only 3.5 stars in Yelp and I am assuming it is only 3.5 stars because it is next to a Show Girls place. I read through a few reviews and it seems that pickier people– like people who don’t like onions or garlic seem to not like this place. So, as long as you like onions and garlic on things, you should love the food.

I ordered a Gyro (pronounced “hyeeroh”) which always comes with an amazing tzatziki sauce. I prefer this place’s sauce to any others’. It is slightly redder. I am not sure what extra they add, but it is delicious.

PC: a random tourist/ local

Two of us bought cokes to go with our meals and we noticed that we had grabbed some pretty accurate cans.

PC: Thoughtsofhomes

Two of us ordered the gyros and Alayna (from Awayfromthesafeharbor) bought Shwarma. We also got a plate of Mediterranean Fries (french fries with garlic sauce and feta cheese) and Alayna and I ended our meals with Baklava.

I already want to go back…

After finishing our meals, we walked to the next shop over– Metsker Maps.

PC: Thoughtsofhomes

This store has ANYTHING map related you could want– a map of China in 1901, a water-proof map holder, map wrapping paper, geography coloring books, and those window decal stickers in the shape of Washington State with a heart inside.

PC: Thoughtsofhomes

They also have the coolest post cards EVER and I would love to send some to readers sometime if that sounds fun. I sort of have an obsession with writing letters… I also dislike technology (even though I use it everyday)… and I’m pretty sure I should have been born in the 1800s. But, all of that aside, seriously, I want to write postcards to anyone interested. 😉 Email me.

We bought a few items, like a laptop cover and a few post cards and made our way back down the street and around to the main Pike Place entrance.

PC: Thoughtsofhomes

We came across a band with a bare-foot, raspy singer and a huge crowd was huddled around them.

PC: Thoughtsofhomes

The band was sitting right outside of Pike Place Fish Co. which is famous for “flying fish”. Every time anyone buys something, they throw it across the store and catch it before they wrap it up. It’s easily the most watched performance at Pike Place.

If you are from out of state, you can have any of their items shipped overnight and they have a guarantee that anything you buy will be packed so well that it stays fresh in the box for 43 hours.

No one seemed to be buying fish while we were there, so we made our way down towards the produce and floral section of the Market.

PC: Thoughtsofhomes

The produce at Pike Place is easily the best produce I’ve had in my life. Choice Produce and Pepper is my favorite– for taste and staff. They are easy going, and they don’t make you feel bad for trying the peach and not buying anything (not like you wouldn’t buy one after eating it though.).

I am disappointed that I didn’t buy any while I was there. However, we did get to try some chocolate noodles.

PC: Thoughtsofhomes

As you can see from the lady’s face in the far right, chocolate noodles are the bomb and it is totally okay to make them and substitute spaghetti sauce with ice cream. #noregrets

And something not-so-mind-blowing as the idea of chocolate noodles (but still pretty incredible), is the prices of floral bouquets. The bouquets of Pike Place may be some of the prettier arrangements you may ever see and, you can get some of them for as little as $5. Some of these $5 and $10 bouquets would easily cost $40-$70 from a floral store anywhere else. So, even if you are a tourist and can’t take them home, buy a bunch and give them to a street performer or something because it’s seriously such a deal.

PC: Thoughtsofhomes

We decided to come back later and grab a bouquet, but we wanted to take a picture on one of the outlooks of the Market.

PC: Thoughtsofhomes

We could see the Great Wheel and the Puget Sound from where we stood, and it was quite the view. You can usually see ferries coming to and from the water.

We continued through the Market, passing some famous spots such as Beecher’s Cheese— a handmade cheese shop with two locations– Pike Place in Seattle and the Flatiron District of New York.

PC: Thoughtsofhomes

It’s not a great photo, but you can watch them make Cheese in large vats through the window.

We also passed Piroshky Piroshky, a Russian pastry shop which opened in 1992.

PC: Thoughtsofhomes P.S. Look at the amazing bathroom signs at Pike Place….

They use family recipes and that is part of the beauty of the place because everyone makes their piroshky a little differently. Sometimes the line for this place can be insanely long and they may be out of some pastries, but it is so worth the wait. One of my favorites in the Apple Cinnamon Roll because I’m pretty sure they cut up an entire apple and wrap it inside the piroshky. If you want something more savory, I have never had the chance to try it, but they have a smoked salmon piroshky and that would be your most “Seattle” option to try.

And after you eat your smoked salmon piroshky, you can’t help but stand outside of the first Starbucks either. So, we did.

PC: Thoughtsofhomes

I have actually never gone inside of the Starbucks before simply because the line is SO LONG. I recently learned that this is actually not the original spot of the first store. This is the second location it moved to in 1976 and it has been here ever since. But, I doubt everyone waiting in line knows that. 😉 I still want to go inside once though, just to say I did it. But, yesterday was not that day.

We ended our trip, shortly after realizing that there were manikins on the roof next to Starbucks.

PC: Thoughtsofhomes

I mean, they didn’t make us leave. But, it was the last thing we saw before we went back to the bus.

PC: Thoughtsofhomes

Going through this whole trip, I noticed as I sat down on the bus or at Falafel King and as I walked around the shops, I heard so many people complaining. Some people didn’t want to leave. Others wanted to stay. I noticed that even though all of us were surrounded by an amazing place that some people may die before ever experiencing or seeing, some of us there didn’t see it that way.

I didn’t want to be someone who was surrounded by a happy situation and only focused on how it could have been better. I mean, of course, there is always a time to push for something better. However, I firmly believe there is a time where you also need to just be content with what you have and to realize that you have enough and perhaps even more than enough. That is something to celebrate— not complain about.

There were definitely a few people who chose to ruin their trip to downtown Seattle and I don’t want to do that to my trip to Seattle, and especially not my life.

I want to be thankful for every moment I have, because every moment of my life will never happen again. Every moment is a gift you can’t get back and it’s important to enjoy those moments and to spend them with the people you really care about and the ones who really care about you.

So, I want to see my adventurer coke can half-full, not half-empty. I want to notice what  can be better, but also not discard everything that is going well. So, my trip to Seattle was TOTALLY AWESOME and I really hope your trips where ever you are are the same.

And I hope that all of you see the can half-full, not half-empty, because it is a much happier way to live.


Away from the Safe Harbor– Edmonds Beach, WA with a Fellow Blogger

Yesterday, I made a trip to downtown Edmonds–a quaint Puget Sound town filled with dog-walkers, boutiques, Saturday summer farmer’s markets, quirky book shops, and a few public beach areas scattered with local restaurants.

I went on a spur-of-the-moment trip with a fellow blogger– Away from the Safe Harbor. The blogger (Alayna Wood) is just starting her written blog now, but her instablog is pretty well established (@awayfromthesafeharbor). She is leaving in a few months to live and teach English in China and I would totally suggest checking out her page! She is also a bit of a travel blog connoisseur and she is a great person to talk to when you are looking for awesome travel-bloggers and instabloggers to follow.

Alayna and I went down to Edmonds and walked through the town, looking at the shops and boutiques for fun. We walked into a Savvy Traveler store because (if you read the about me page of Alayna’s Blog) Alayna is a travel-fiend. We also found a bookstore which just opened. It is painted like a bookshelf and I am kicking myself for not taking a picture of it.

After walking through the stores, we stopped by one of the many murals in Edmonds and snapped a few shots.

PC: Away from the Safe Harbor
PC: Thoughtsofhomes

AFTSH–“Tell me something funny”
TOH–“I want to grow up to be a lemur”
AFTSH– *laughs
TOH– “You look great. But, you know what, I really don’t appreciate you laughing at my dreams…”
AFTSH– *laughs even harder

After a small (yet fabulous) photo shoot, we headed down the road towards the water front and stopped at a local coffee shop– Waterfront Coffee Company.

PC: Thoughtsofhomes

This store serves local Snoqualmie Ice Cream and other foods.

PC: Thoughtsofhomes

They also serve Lavendar Vanilla Italian Sodas and Ginger Peach Iced Tea in these respective sizes–  Shrimp, Clam, Oyster, and Geoduck (pronounced gooey-duck). Can it get any more Pacific Northwestern?

A description of a Geoduck is here.

P.C. Thoughtsofhomes

After instagramming a picture of Alayna (see the widget below) we headed down to the water front and stopped to sit on a Jetty.

There was an older gentlemen who was talking about a Sea Lion so we pulled out my camera to see if we could capture it. We looked through the lens and realized….


It was just a log…

Behind the rocks we were sitting on, there was a set of those metal binoculars you find in parks secured to the Jetty and I looked through and saw this….


The actual Sea Lion….

I have lived in this area for over a decade and I had never seen a Sea Lion so close. I was happy to take a shot of it.

After walking down the beach a bit and watching an elderly man paint a piece of driftwood to look like an Orca, we made it home.

It was an Edmonds kind of day.

Another Man’s Trash is My Treasure


My father, when my family moved out to the Seattle-area from the suburbs of Philly, decided to take advantage of all of the cool places his new home had to offer. There were great and fun things to do all over Philly that he never did while he lived there. Almost all of us are guilty of this. We live near Mt. Rushmore or Tokyo Tower or Pike Place Market, but we never go. Why? Because we take it for granted. We think, “Oh. I could go do that whenever.” or “Only tourists do those things.” But, hey. There are treasures all around us, but we assume them to be trash.

PC; Thoughtsofhomes PikePlace Fish Market

People always want to get out to do something fun. I understand. It’s fun, dare I say essential, to get out of town sometimes. However, there are lots of treasures in our own backyard we look over. If you think about it, your town is probably exotic or exciting to someone out in the world. Why are you not one of those people?

PC: Thoughtsofhomes Harbor Seals seen on the Whale Watching Tour in Port Townsend.

I asked myself that question when I thought about applying for JET. I wanted myself to be happy whether I got accepted or not, and if I didn’t get accepted, I started to realize that America is actually a really exotic place to live if you recognize it as such.

PC: Thoughtsofhomes Trail of the Patriarchs– Mt. Rainier National Park

At my local library, you can sign up for a library card in seven different languages. There is a section of my town which looks like it was cut right out of a section of a Korean strip mall– no English to be found. There are several parks hidden all over my town and a fifteen-minute drive down the road leads me to the Puget Sound where I took my cousin who had never seen an ocean before just a week ago. I mean, it’s technically not the ocean, but it’s salt water with waves and sand and that was exotic to my cousin.

PC: Thoughtsofhomes Edmonds Beach– Edmonds, WA

If I drive thirty minutes east, I can see farms and the entrances to the passes through the Cascade Mountains which are sprinkled with hikes, lakes, waterfalls, and cliffs. Two hours north is Canada and three hours south is Portland, both of which I ashamedly have not visited in the eleven years I have lived here. Well, I went to the non-downtown area of Portland and had Voodoo Donuts. Which, if you check out the link, is incredibly “Portland”.

PC: Thoughtsofhomes– Mt. Rainier Natl. Park

When my cousins came to visit, I was able to be a bit of a “tourist” in my own backyard.  However, until I settle down and get a job, I am a bit on-hold for travelling about the area. However, I am making a trip to Lake Washington today to visit a friend and I’ll write a bit about that and take some pictures for you. I also want to write more about my cousins’ visit before all of my memories fade! More pictures to come with that as well.

I have some pictures of Lake Washington down at the bottom of the page at the instagram widget if you’d like to take a look!

We’re All Just Drops in the Ocean

I rode on the back of a fourteen hundred horse-power boat on a supposed “Whale Tour”. We were one of the three boats that summer that would not see any whales, but it didn’t really matter. As I rocked back in forth from the inside of the boat towards the back door, I gripped on to the holds on the tables and diner-style booths to keep from falling over. Once outside, I held onto the railing of the stern. If I didn’t, I would have flown into the Pacific Ocean like a plastic bag out of a Katy Perry single.

All that was between me and the current was that railing, and after about an hour of heading straight to the ocean on our fruitless search for whales, you could only see the ocean, the sky, and the Olympic Peninsula in the distance off the port and bow. If you looked straight out from where I stood, all you saw was blue touching blue and the land you had been on just an hour ago was out of sight. It was just me, the ocean, and the sky, and you know… the cabin behind me with three or four seasick people amongst the twenty-odd others whose iron-clad stomachs could handle the roller-coaster-esque ride we were on. I was one of those blessed with a stomach of steel. My mother used to take me to amusement parks as a baby and a small child. So, one could say that being hurled about by mechanical machinery is one of my talents.

Looking out at the dark blue being broken up by our propeller, I reflected back on the year, on the summer– on how unhappy I had been and how I felt like even though I was giving everything I had, I was still buffeted on all sides. I began to realize that I  had grown seasick of my own life– spinning around seemingly aimless for almost two years. But, I looked out at the ocean and the sky and felt at peace. My troubles had seemed so immense, but nothing was so galactic in size as the actual galaxy my tiny planet was in, let alone the universe– something scientists and artists alike have been trying to fathom since the existence of human kind.

I started to cry–my sunglasses masking the wind and the two women behind me from seeing the physical reaction to the thought that I am barely a drop in the ocean, really. I am a minuscule speck in the entirety that is the universe and I will never fully understand how incredibly insignificant I am– let alone how piddling my problems are.

I am leaving to Japan in thirty days. I will see a cultural universe unlike my own– foreign in every fashion. And I hope that as I grip onto the railing to keep from going over board that I cry– not because of seasickness or because I didn’t see what I expected to see– but because I’ll look out for the land that I used to know and I will no longer see it and I will realize that my life is just a drop in the ocean of lives on this planet. I hope I will cry at the privilege to be apart of the story– written, remembered, current, and forgotten– which is human existence.

In the end, I am just a drop in the ocean, but there is still an ocean.

“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.”
–Ryunosuke Satoro 

Gif. belongs to Washington City Paper.

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