My Love Affair with Lower Queen Anne

Today Thom and I walked the pups, Thor and Izaak, under the Space Needle and past the Seattle Center Fountain, then I went on a quick grocery run, ambled over to Palm Sunday services at First Methodist and that was all before noon and all in Lower Queen Anne, the wonderful place I call home now.  Yep, I’m definitely in love.

Thor loves walking around Seattle Center every day
Thor loves walking around Seattle Center every day

When we moved back to Seattle from Shanghai, we considered living closer to my work across the Great Divide-Lake Washington-so that I could reduce my one hour (at least) commute in clusterf*#k Seattle traffic. Giving up the rental car after our 30 days upon repatriating was an easy decision after the infamous $410 traffic ticket I got after accidentally crossing a solid white line while merging into lanes. I vowed then to stop the commuting madness and either live closer to work or take the Connector work bus and leave the liability to someone else. Even thinking about NOT living in an urban environment was crazy. What was I thinking??? Thank God we realized we are city people now and forever and chose to live in our old neighborhood, Lower Queen Anne, hereafter referred to as LQA to lessen my word count.

Even better than our last spot, the condo we were lucky enough to get is right in the heart of the LQA action and Seattle Center is truly our backyard, being only one block away. The dogs are so happy going on their multiple walks around Key Arena with Izaak able to stalk squirrels aplenty. Fascinating study in animal memory behavior because, while Izaak always remembers exactly where he has seen squirrels on past walks, he seemingly can’t recall the millions of “NO’s” we yell at him when he eats the trash in the bathroom. This bad behavior has caused us to now keep the trash can in the shower when not in use to keep it safe, which didn’t work well when I forgot it was there, turned it on and ended up with a very watery trashy mess. IZAAK!!! NO!!!!

But back to LQA, as I sit on my red Ikea loveseat hauled all the way back from Shanghai, instead of gazing upon the Huangpu River which I do miss greatly, I gaze down the Avenue at the busy Starbucks, which opens at the ungodly hour of 5:30 a.m. and the Mediterranean Inn above it. A few weeks ago we had company over and while Skyping with baby Mia, I glanced over at the Inn and saw a pole extend slowly out of one of the hotel windows, at least 16 feet or so long with duct tape holding several pieces together and a small bale of hay hooked on the end. WTF????  Where do you even buy straw in LQA?   The pole dangled over to the rooftop adjacent to the Inn and shook, dropping the load into the alleyway and missing the rooftop. WHY???

Two more times it came poking out, both times dropping it’s straw load but these times, dropping it’s load onto the roof. Curious, we ran across the street to examine the alleyway only to see straw bundled with cord and nothing more. We’ll never know who, what, when or why this mysterious prank happened but it was fun to watch it unfold. Think you could see something like this in suburbia? I don’t think so and so, for us, the adventure continues in urban Seattle after our wonderful journey in Shanghai, China.

Walking by the water and seeing the sea lions play is so fun!
Walking by the water and seeing the sea lions play is so fun!

So, with five months into my new job and settling down a little, I’ll start writing again, we’ll enjoy going to the Uptown Cinema and seeing cool, happening documentaries and shop for vinyl records at Pike Place Market, a long walk but close enough. I’ll cherish the charming used book store, clothing boutique, nail parlors galore and Mud Bay Pet Shop, where Izaak can get free treats from the doting team members–all within blocks of our hip, urban nest that I hope to get to enjoy for a long, long time.  LQA, I’m loving you.

But where are the dancing ladies?

Walking with my Thor enjoying the mild weather
Walking with my Thor enjoying the mild weather

Where are the dancing ladies/couples and the families with their tents camping out for a day in the park???  Seattleites, take a cue from the Chinese who know how to have fun in their parks and get to socializing.  Wake up and smell the coffee (preferably Stumptown) and realize that life is short so stop and enjoy this fine, fine weather, aka Global Warming.  Whatever, it’s warm and sunny in February in Seattle.

Enjoying El Nino to the max, Thom and I spent the weekend wandering about and walking around town, usually with the puppies.  Yet, I couldn’t help but compare the park culture here and Shanghai as we traversed downtown Seattle.  In February in Shanghai, if the sun came out with temps way above average, every park would be filled with families socializing, flying kites, dancing, drawing calligraphy on the sidewalks, and celebrating the good fortune of being able to be outside during the winter instead of being shut inside their typically small homes with no heat.  Here, while you do see folks out and about, it’s definitely more of a “get to where I’m going” vibe as people move through the parks  with purpose on their way to something vs. just being in the park with friends & family to enjoy being together.  While we have the dogs as the main reason to walk around, we are also guilty of moving with purpose as well.  On a typical weekend in Shanghai, we would go to Fuxing or Century Park just to soak up the culture, always seeing interesting people enjoying the outdoors.  I miss it.  Lots.   Don’t miss the foul pollution though.   Wearing masks are no fun and neither is chronic bronchitis.

So, we enjoyed the sermon today from Rev. Moe-so relevant with social media references to “liking” comments on Facebook and tying in the scripture with a movie quote from one of my fav movies, You’ve Got Mail–encouraging parishioners to ” Go to the mattress” from The Godfather to parallel Jesus telling the disciples not to give up in their religious journey.  Funny.  After meeting Cowboy, the dog who enjoys church services with his owner, we ran home to get the pups and take them to the dog park near our home.  Izaak used to go there all the time but Thor is new to the dog park culture and doesn’t quite get it, though he made a friend and started to learn to chase the tennis ball he couldn’t quite fit in his mouth.

Puppy cuddles during nap time
Puppy cuddles during nap time

After all that fresh air and sunshine (sorry friends in the Midwest/Northwest enduring snowpocalypse), it was nap time.  Izaak threw his long arm over tiny Thor and they spooned together like the Brothers from a Different Mother that they are.  Cuteness x2..seriously.  It’s just like having kids–you take them to the park and run them ragged to wear them out so they will give you some rest when you get home.  Only difference–you can throw them some bones to chew on to get added peace and quiet.  Dog park fun:

At the end of the day, Lord I pray for more wonderful weekends like this to enjoy life as good as it gets.  Thank you, God!

Gorgeous weekend capped off by a spectacular sunset
Gorgeous weekend capped off by a spectacular sunset

Fashion Challenge Ends So Let The Shopping Begin!

Polka dots galore!
Polka dots galore!

If that Banana Republic package filled with 50% off bargains doesn’t show up until next week, then I will have done a decent job not buying any more clothes in January for my challenge.  Damn those seductive emails tempting me with great deals!

Go Seahawks!
Go Seahawks!

How can one resist??  Having gone through 30 days and not worn all the clothes in my closet is a wake up call.  First, I have too many clothes.  Not too many shoes, of course, because there is no limit to how many shoes a person should have in my world at least.  Second, my daughter needs to come and visit me soon to edit my wardrobe and take some outfits home to Boise with her so I can shop again.  It’s all about sustainability and recycling–I’m so “green” I could be Kermit.  Come see me Hannah and, oh, bring along Mia too!!!  Nai Nai needs some Mia time.

This week was all about Super Bowl prep and so I broke my fashion rule not to wear football jerseys to work.   Yes, I caved to peer pressure.  Sue me!   Friday was the company tailgate party complete with Seahawk face painting, fried chicken/potato salad and 12th man dress up contests so, in order to retain my employment, I bit the bullet and wore my China version of Wilson’s jersey to fit in.  I even decorated my boss’s office with Seahawks themed party goods–it looked like a green and blue acid trip.  She loved it!  Score points for me!

Travelling woman-all you need is a scarf and necklace and pretty overnight bag!
Travelling woman-all you need is a scarf and necklace and pretty overnight bag!

 

 

I also got to travel to Dallas and enjoy 80 degree sunny weather (for the few minutes I wasn’t working inside a stuffy conference room).  Not that I would ever live in Texas but, hey, at least it’s not cold and rainy.  Not that I don’t love you Seattle but the winter here is gloomy.  Working fourteen hour days and travelling calls for my comfy Toms wedges and size 2 black pants-yep, I’m not delusional and totally realize they must have been labeled wrong but it still feels good.  Still, somehow I’ve lost a little weight not living on carbs like I did in China (didn’t have to worry if it was rat or cat if it was a bakery product there–or at least you hoped)– lots of fruits and veggies here in the good old USofA.    I am loving the huge salad bar at work when I actually take a lunch break.  Chopping up all those veggies is too much work at home so I appreciate it being done for me to enjoy.

This weekend it’s all about the Seahawks hopefully showing that the team that has good karma wins because they don’t cheat.  Yes, I’m calling out the Patriots for their lying, cheating and other bad karma-deserving behaviors.  Seattle will pull together as a team, never stop trying and believing in each other and rally around Russell Wilson.  I BELIEVE!  Go Hawks!

Day Nine-Finally Friday!

Cheers to Friday!  Unlike most others at the office today, I didn’t sport a Seattle Seahawks outfit.  No, I wasn’t staging a protest or taking an anti-football stand.  I just don’t feel comfortable wearing a football jersey to the office.  I’m not judging others-more football power to them all but it’s just not my style.  I’ll wear my skirt and pearls, thank you very much, and still root for the Seahawks!

Cheers to Friday!
Cheers to Friday!

So besides the gorgeous grey and white pearl necklace that I got for practically nothing at the Pearl Shop at the AP Market in Shanghai (seriously $15 or less for real pearls!), I was also so happy to wear my custom made shirt that has a seriously flattering neckline that makes even me look good-MIRACLE SHIRT!  When it works, duplicate it!  My favorite Michael Kors shirt wasn’t getting any younger so before it died, I took it to the South Bund Fabric Market in Shanghai while we lived there and had them duplicate it, custom made to my size, and picked the colors/fabric and altered a few other items to really make it one of a kind.  The result was the most comfortable and good looking shirt that I own, all for $20 US.  BARGAIN!  I just wish I had more made while I was there.  I got one shirt in black and one in green.  My friend, Patti, loved mine so much that she went while she was there with us and got one too.

Paired with my comfy stripe knit skirt, tights and my classic Frye boots, it was the perfect Friday outfit–work and then dinner out at a local Thai place to celebrate a new challenge given to me at work today.  Busy times ahead but, for now, I’m ready for the Seahawks to win on Saturday and, yes, I’ll be wearing my football jersey which I find totally appropriate for a weekend ensemble.  Pictures to come–have to decide what scarf matches my Seahawks shirt!

Day Seven Wearing My Favorite Scarf

I’m sad that I won’t be able to wear my favorite scarf again until my self imposed 30 day Fashion Challenge is over.  Poor me!  Scarves have always been an important part of my “happy outfit place” so much so that this particular scarf was gifted to me by my team who knew me so well and understood how much I would love it.  They so thoughtfully picked it from one of my favorite stores, Madewell, and it has pictures of Paris and London on it because they knew that my dream was to live abroad.  Now, I have never got to even go to those lovely cities yet but little did I know at the time that I would live in China one day.  I cherish this scarf and it looks so damn good to boot.  Score!  And I WILL go to London AND Paris this year…. can’t wait to FINALLY see them.

MacDowell Scarf!
Madewell Scarf!

I dug out my Ugg  heeled booties that were so warm and cozy on a cold foggy Seattle day.  I’ve had these forever and sometimes forget about them but they look good with a skirt so I’ll have to put these to good use while it’s cold.  Pairing my animal print skinny belt (another Banana bargain!) with a denim shirt, I added my wrist beads from China to remind me of my great adventure and off to work I went!  After getting home, my puppy Thor jumped into my arms so he could get a cuddle and be in the picture.  Now, it’s off to the gym to get a little exercise after sitting all day.  I do miss my long walks to/from work in Shanghai for sure.  Once it gets a little warmer, I look forward to getting off the bus at a stop farther away than my close one just so I can get in a little walking.

But, for now, it’s cold and wet here in Seattle so I’ll struggle through the next couple of months until we can get back to our walking habits from China.  I do miss our strolls to explore new places and look forward to walking all over Seattle…. when it gets a little warmer.

Day Six Fashion Challenge-Classy Yet Sassy

So, what do you wear when you have to catch the 6:40 a.m. shuttle for a “what the Hell were they thinking when they scheduled it this early” morning meeting?  Well, first, you take time the night before to plan out your outfit so you don’t look like a fashion “don’t”.  Seriously, I have been lazy and not done this in the past and ended up looking not so good and that’s being too nice.  I also learned the hard way to do that all important bathroom mirror check when I get to work to avoid wearing my dress backwards (yes, for an important meeting)and, yes, that really happened.  Now I am a little more aware and try to always take a moment to check for major faux pas before facing the boss.  I have caught myself sporting only one earring, holes in tights, etc. and managed a quick wardrobe tweak to fix quickly before I embarrass myself AGAIN.  Live and learn!

Banana Republic both classy and sassy
Banana Republic both classy and sassy

But this morning I had prepped the night before and purposely picked my new Banana Republic black sweater (50% off!) that was light but warm with a cutout back detail that was highlighted by the white shirt underneath.  Now, this was no ordinary boring white shirt.  This was my custom made, fits like a glove, French cuff cotton shirt that I designed in Shanghai, adding print details to the collar and underside of the cuffs.  I love it and only wish I had bought a few more while I lived in Shanghai.

Add in the dragon cuff links that I bargained hard to get for less than $10 at the South Bund Fabric Mart in Shanghai and the bold turquoise Banana Republic necklace that always garners major compliments (bought last year on sale) and I was feeling good despite the early call.

Classy black pants from Nordstrom’s and my comfy Dansko studded heels made this a great outfit for a very long work day.  Now, off to plan my outfit for Day 7 so I look decent despite another early call.  Good night!

Day Five Fashion Challenge=Desigual Prints To Liven Up The Day

Day Five is the start of the work week after a long holiday break from the office.  It actually felt good today to dress up and get out of the jeans and sweatpants.  After wearing t-shirts and jeans as my “work uniform” for a few years, I love wearing fashion forward outfits with accessories galore!  Today I celebrated one of my favorite brands that is not widely available here in Seattle.  Desigual is a casual clothing brand based in Barcelona, Spain, one of my favorite places in the world.

Desigual prints brighten a grey Monday!
Desigual prints brighten a grey Monday!

They have amazing stores in Spain and a few here in the U.S.  I walked by one such store every day in Manhattan when I worked in Times Square a few years ago.  Now, I never entered the store unless they had a huge sale going on and then I walked right by that store guard and entered the inner sanctum of crazy colorful prints.  These wild prints and intense designs combined with flamboyant splashes of color are their trademarks on clothes for all.  Of course, I am a bargain shopper and they don’t run cheap so I wait for the 50% off sales and then pounce.  Today, I wore my beige/black print skirt and got a few compliments on it.  Don’t you just love a cute skirt with pockets???  In addition, I tied on their wild clown print scarf inspired by Cirque Du Soleil, which I got in Las Vegas on my daughter’s 21st birthday trip when we saw the Beatles Cirq show.  This show was overwhelming in it’s intensity just like the Desigual prints. And, yes, I am the coolest Mom in the world for taking my daughter to the Venetian for a weekend of light gambling and intense shopping and people watching.  So. Much. Fun.

With two wild prints, the rest of my outfit needed to be a solid color but not boring.  I only own one Eileen Fisher piece, which I picked up drastically reduced at Nordstrom Rack.  She has great quality items that are classic in design but are grossly over priced.  I love the lime green color that makes the prints “pop” and pulls out the green in the predominantly red scarf.  All these colors just make me feel so positive on a rainy Monday in Seattle.  Clothes DO affect your mood so dress for happiness.

P.S.  The amazing Rooster print I am standing by was given to my husband when he visited a local Community Center in Shanghai to take a calligraphy lesson from the locals.  When they found out he was born in the Year of the Rooster, one artist drew this while he was there and proudly presented it to him as a gift.  We just got settled into our new home and framed it on our bedroom wall.  It looks gorgeous and we can’t wait to send the artist an email to share with him how much we treasure it.  Memories of China abound!