How I Spent My Summer Vacation – Irreconcilable Differences and Anger Issues

How I Spent My Summer Vacation
Capitol Hill neighborhood landmarks in a window on Broadway.

Rekindling a romance with an ex is hardly ever a good idea; although sentimental feelings may initially get the better of you, sooner or later, two things may happen. One is that you realize that you’ve both changed too much for it to work.

In spite of the parks, food (Graham finally got to try a Seattle dog straight from the cart… 3 times), and scenery, the city’s gone through some major changes since I left. Modern boxy a”pod”ments have cropped up all over the city. There’s a Panera Bread on Capitol Hill.. A Panera Bread! I have nothing against Panera Bread, but to see it sprout up on the first floor space of condo building made me sad. So many of my favorite places have closed their doors.. and Capitol Hill seems to be resonating a different vibe. The average price of a one-bedroom is now over $1600/mo. I remember when mine cost $900/mo. I know.. my complaint is betraying my age. I don’t know how many times Graham heard me wail, “What the heck is this?!” every time we happened across a new micro-condo building or flashy-looking bar. “The Seattle I knew has jumped the shark!”

How I Spent My Summer Vacation
At least Portage Bay is still around. Try the Migas! A Graham recommendation

Okay, that whiney comment isn’t fair. It seems like the changes happening to the old neighborhoods are to accommodate the younger transplants attracted to the abundance of both established tech companies and start-ups. My surliness stems from my intense dislike of box-y buildings (it’s so silly how “easy to use, out of the box” housing literally puts you in a 225 sq ft box) and the younger generation.. so in other words, the stereotypical attitude that “everything was better before” that comes with age.

The second thing that inevitably happens is that your differences start to resurface.

If you ask my friends and family to describe me, “laid-back,” will make an appearance on the list.. as “whatever the hell the antithesis of laid-back is.” True. Before I moved to Philly, I’d never lived on the East Coast. Yet, for some reason, people have always been surprised that I grew up in the Midwest and lived in Seattle, usually pinning me, instead, as a stereotypical angry East Coaster. Graham got to witness my impatience rearing its ugly head during our vacation: “WTF! These people need to just get the hell off the sidewalk if they’re not going to actually move!”

Yes, I am, by nature, an angry person. Sorry. <— Apparently, really apologetic about it.

How I Spent My Summer VacationThere was one particular incident that soured a large portion of our Monday afternoon. We stopped off at Top Pot Doughnuts after finishing up the Underground Tour (highly recommend it.. even for long-time Seattle residents if you’ve never done it) and got coffees and shared a doughnut. We needed to get back to Capitol Hill to make it to drinks with some friends, so Graham took his coffee with him to finish up on the way.

Within a few blocks though, the peacefulness of the day was interrupted by a rogue dufflebag that a passerby walking in the opposite direction without a sense of diplomatic personal space wildly swung into Graham’s coffee.. covering both our cardigans, my jeans, t-shirt, and bra in lukewarm latte. The man muttered an “ooops,” as he continued walking.. no apologies.. no stopping. Graham and I both yelled profanities after him.. but y’know.. not too loud.. we felt conspicuous disrupting the laid-back West Coast vibe of those around us who stared in bewilderment at bridled East Coast fury.How I Spent My Summer VacationWhile we searched for a Tide pen on our way back to our AirBnB (a brand new pen I’d eventually need to use all of on just 2 articles of clothing), I kept thinking, about how much I wanted to unleash the wrath of a Philadelphian on that guy. That’s when I realized, in spite of all my Seattle-raving.. Philadelphia really is where I belong.

So… here’s my revised break-up letter to Seattle..



When processed through the Stacy-Handwriting-Decoder:

Dear Seattle, 

I will always have the greatest admiration and respect for you. You were exactly what I needed at that moment in my life, and I will always cherish the memories and be grateful for your part in my growth. That being said, I acknowledge we’re on different paths from each other. I wish you all the best and will always reserve a special place in my heart for you. I know we’ll always be good friends.

Love always, 



How I Spent My Summer Vacation – Rose (Dahlia?) – Colored Glasses

If you’ve ever caught up with an ex you’ve spent time thinking about wistfully, your initial impression is usually positive and you start wondering “Why did we ever break up?” Seattle summers have the same effect on me. Talk to any Seattleite about the things they love most about their city, and “The Summers” will probably be found amongst the top 5. It’s definitely the best time to visit if you’re at a loss for deciding when to plan a trip, although there is one great disadvantage to the season: too much to see and do that you might not get to fit everything on your list. I didn’t have a chance to show off Discovery Park, Dim-Sum, Pho, any of the islands, Gas Works Park, etc.. but luckily, I managed to fit enough into our 5 days that Graham was pleased with the city. There are a couple areas I thought I’d highlight on the blog that you don’t hear about as often as the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, or Gum Wall when Seattle comes up as a travel topic.IMG_20160719_174915Volunteer Park – Designed by the Olmsted brothers, and if you’re a fan of Devil In The White City  by Erik Larson, you probably recognize what was once the foremost name in landscape architects.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation
A shot of the interior dome of the water tower in Volunteer Park

The park includes a conservatory, a water tower (with free access to an observation deck), a gated reservoir, and the Seattle Asian Art Museum.

My favorite feature of the park though would have to be the dahlia garden.How I Spent My Summer VacationAs I mentioned on Instagram earlier this week, I chose dahlias for my bridal bouquet specifically because it reminded me of Volunteer Park.

Lakeview Cemetery – Next door to Volunteer Park is Lake View Cemetery.. aka the final resting place for both Bruce and Brandon Lee. Even if you’re not a Kung Fu film buff or a former goth kid obsessed with The Crow, it’s still worth a visit if only for gravestone photography or the gorgeous monkey puzzle tree.How I Spent My Summer Vacation

There’s usually a few people in the cemetery paying their respects to the Lees, evident by the numerous bouquets that are left on their graves, but it’s ideal if you’re looking for a quiet place with some aesthetics to recharge before continuing on with sites with more tourist traffic.


How I Spent My Summer Vacation – Fear and Regret

How I Spent My Summer Vacation - Fears and Regret
Not an album cover mock-up

Yes, that’s an illustration of the fear Graham developed while we were in Seattle. And no, it isn’t the color “coral”.. I’ve already cultivated that fear in him thanks to my insistence of bringing “pops of color” to the 3rd floor landing by way of throw pillows and prints.

When I asked Graham what he’d be most interested in seeing during our trip, he said he wanted “A Tour Of Stacy’s Seattle.” He wanted to experience the city the way I did when I lived there from 2006-2011. What he didn’t realize was “A Tour Of Stacy’s Seattle” translates into a lot of walking (my preferred method of travel being my own two feet), eating, and drinking (Graham made the comment that he felt like he was back in college during our visit).

By our first morning, he figured out the full implications of his request and wanted to take it back. We had brunch at my favorite spot Toulouse Petit in lower Queen Anne, and after sufficiently weighing ourselves down with the rich Bayou Fisherman’s Breakfast and Dungeness Crab Eggs Benedict, I told Graham I wanted to show him the view of Seattle’s skyline from Kerry Park which was a short walk away.

Now, what I didn’t tell Graham about this short walk was that not only would it be all uphill, but that this street was also featured as one of Seattle’s top 20 steepest inclines.How I Spent My Summer Vacation

This image could stand to be slightly more accurate..

Like this…How I Spent My Summer VacationAll was forgiven once he saw the view..1469217930816

How I Spent My Summer VacationHowever, forgiveness did not mean he wasn’t going to do everything possible to avoid the hills in the city. But one of the things I love about Graham is that he’s a trooper. We’d walk 5-8 miles a day without a complaint from him.. well.. unless it was uphill.

Although I lived in Seattle for almost 5 years, I never visited the Space Needle. Showing Graham around the city provided the perfect excuse to remedy that. From the top of the tower, I pointed out how far we’d walked that morning and afternoon.mapHow I Spent My Summer VacationAnd as a thank you, I agreed we could take an Uber back.. at least partway.. to one of my favorite bars…How I Spent My Summer VacationAnd then walked the 1.6 miles back to the Airbnb.


PS. In case you’d like to see other views from the Space Needle including Lake Union and Elliot Bay and the unscribbled original of the photo above..

How I Spent My Summer Vacation – Rekindling An Old Flame

A change in the blog schedule this week as I’m planning on updating more than twice with a Seattle series.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation
The iconic Elephant Car Wash sign in South Lake Union, Seattle.. viewed through rose-colored glasses.

After graduating from high school, I promised myself that I wouldn’t live in any one city for longer than 5 years. The perpetual Five-Year-Plan of logistics was no doubt a side effect of growing up in small town Salina, KS. Moving to a completely new city may seem daunting to most people, but around the 4th year of taking up residence somewhere, my feet would start to itch with the need to wander, and my heart would ache for new adventures. I’ve always been able to happily bid goodbye to a city (save for the friends I’d made) from the rearview mirror of a car, but Seattle was the outlier. The morning of my departure in 2011, my friend Jon picked me up to take me to the airport, and as I kept looking back to watch Seattle’s skyline shrink into the horizon, I was surprised to find myself struggling against tears.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation
View from West Seattle

When I decided to move back to the Midwest, I joked about my breakup letter to my home of 4.5 years:


Since leaving Seattle five years ago, I’ve lived in Ann Arbor, MI and Philadelphia, PA. There were 2 instances when I almost moved back to the PNW (that’s the Pacific Northwest for those of you unfamiliar with the acronym). Although now I’m successfully rooted in Philadelphia, I still rave with some annoying consistency to anyone who will listen about my friends in Seattle and the city itself.


Graham: Want to go out for Pho?

Me: Please. Seattle has the best pho places. And nothing beats Pho Bac. I hate going out for pho here; *sigh* it’s like setting myself up for disappointment.

Graham: You probably shouldn’t be walking through that neighborhood that late at night.

Me: *sigh* You could walk EVERYWHERE in Seattle and not have to worry!

Me: I never had AC in Seattle. You don’t need it except for 3 days in the summer when you just park yourself in a movie theater. Oh, and the sun doesn’t set until like 10:00 at night . *Sigh*

You get the point. I’m one of THOSE people.. Annoying progressive PNW elitist.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation
Fremont, Seattle – Center of the Universe Sign

So when Graham and I were trying to decide where to go this summer, I readily accepted his challenge of “Why don’t you show me what’s so great about Seattle.”


Don’t get me wrong.. I love Philly.. but.. Seattle is like that ex you broke up with because you were aiming for something better and more stable, but after several months go by, you start questioning whether you made the right decision.. and then start wondering if you’re viewing the past relationship with the rose-colored glasses that time and distance provide. This trip was going to be my chance to find out by reconnecting with my old flame, the Emerald City, and staying in my old neighborhood in Capitol Hill.. and I didn’t even have to throw out a passive-aggressive Craiglist missed connection to have that chance.


Jet Lag and Finding Happiness

Late on the posting front today since we just got home to Philly last night after spending a week in my old ‘hood in Seattle. I’ll be back next week with a proper post.. but for now… I just want people to know…

..this is what joy looks like in your 30s…


It’s the little things in life that can really make you happy.



Afraid Of My Own Backyard

WARNING: This post contains photos that may trigger those with trypophobia.

When I was a kid, I loved Reading Rainbow. Even now, whenever Graham and I work together to solve a problem, I burst into the chorus of “Teamwork.” For some reason though, when I watched the episode when LeVar Burton visits the New England Aquarium and reads “Louis the Fish,” I was horrified during the “Sea Living” song interlude because of THIS fish:

Sorry about the poor quality of the image. It’s a screen cap of an episode that is as old as my husband.

I couldn’t figure out just why this fish evoked a queasy response from me. I thought maybe it had something to do with the similarities the fish’s pattern had to a hideous dress my grandmother owned.

Fast forward to 2014, and a podcast from Stuff To Blow Your Mind solved the mystery for me.. I’m trypophobic.. for those of you unfamiliar with the term:trypophobiadefinitionWhen Graham and I bought our house this past winter, the last thing I suspected was that it would grow goosebump inducing… things. I don’t mean the centipedes, worms, slugs, or snails that have I’ve unearthed while weeding in the garden, stifling my startled screams so the neighbors don’t snicker about the former Center City girl who’s afraid of nature. No, I’m talking about things like the fern leaves with the patterned undersides that make me squeamish.

See?20160712_004519At least they’re not in obvious view unlike some other offending plants…

When I first discovered we had asiatic lilies growing the backyard, I took great care cultivating them and guarding them every time Graham went outside with the weed whacker. “Mind the lilies!” I’d yell, pointing them out. I’d never grown lilies before, and was determined that we’d see these bloom. One day, I suddenly noticed something about the lilies that had grown past my waist..20160710_235746WTF? No, I mean… WTF?! No, no, no, no. I panicked under my trypophobia for a moment, then sought a quick Google education which taught me that these were actually asiatic lily seeds.. and scattering them around would give me new lilies for next season. I braved the goosebumps the mere appearance of these things had given me and began plucking them off the stem and tossing them all over the yard while an amused Graham watched. I was going to see these babies through to bloom!20160710_235604ARGH! Just typing about these things is giving me gooseflesh again.

And earlier this week.. it finally happened.

From the kitchen window, while pouring my morning coffee, I could see the back of one of the lilies.. the petals had unfurled. I could make out the orange tips curled back. Excitedly, I headed out with the dog, ready to enjoy the payout of weeks of nurturing and overcoming my trypophobia.

To my horror… this is what met me…20160710_235406

THE BLACK SPOTS!! I had to look away. If the triggered trypophobia hadn’t left me feeling so disgusted, I would have found the humor in nature’s irony. That’s when the gravity of the situation hit HARD.


Graham has specific instructions for next year.

Take No Prisoners. Weed whack EVERYTHING. 

That’s how it goes. I create the problems, and Graham provides the solutions.



Why Cucumbers + Citrus = A Must

Any time a recipe calls for cucumbers, I have to squeeze a bit of citrus over them. It’s a necessity.. not in the same way I tell everyone that coffee is a necessity.. but in the way that I could otherwise go into anaphylactic shock if I don’t. It just so happens that the flavors work well together.

Let me back up.cukesandcitrusCucumbers are on my list of allergy-triggering foods. However, I’ve never been allergic to pickles because, I’m guessing, the vinegar neutralizes the proteins in cucumber that are similar to ragweed pollen. Since citrus juice has the same effect on the proteins, I’ve been able to safely consume cucumbers now for a number of years.. which has been AWESOME since I’ve always loved the crisp, refreshing flavor.

I really wish I had similar solutions for my other trigger-foods. A tiny bite won’t kill me, just some uncomfortable oral itchiness, but as I sadly discovered after eating a whole slice of blueberry-banana bread (banana was the culprit), too much of it will make my throat swell up enough to make it difficult to breathe.

Why did I eat that whole slice of blueberry-banana bread although I knew I was allergic to bananas? Because it was soo.. sooo… goooooood. And.. I like to live dangerously.. something Graham discovered on our first date at Jack’s Firehouse where they serve you small chocolate chip cookies after dinner.

Me (To Graham): Can you tell if these have walnuts in them?

Graham: No, I can’t.

Me: Oh.. It’s just that I’m allergic to walnuts.

Graham: What happens if you eat walnuts?

Me: My mouth gets itchy, then my throat closes up, and I can’t breathe (as I take a small nibble of the cookie).

Graham watched with panicked horror, wondering if he was witnessing a cry for help as I voluntarily behaved against self-preservation.

Me: Yep. Walnuts.

For the record, I didn’t go into anaphylactic shock. I once sat down and wrote out the list of foods that cause me to break out, trying to figure out what they might have in common:


When I looked the list up and down, I suddenly realized the answer.

They were all foods that made it into the category of sexual euphemisms.

I really can’t help thinking what Freud would say.freudI blame being raised a Korean Catholic.


Subversive Design – Update

We have special house guests <3 from Paris this week, so this is a short update on a previous post.

Another wall hanging…

Another hanging macrame planter..

20160703_183007 (1)... in front of the door that leads to Graham’s office.

Is he ok with this? He was actually the one who nailed the planter bracket to the wall. <3

For the curious, the greyhound statue was a wedding gift from the incomparable Aunt Flossie, spray painted from the antiqued bronze to white to match the rest of the house.


Fry Guys Burgers and Fries

Fry Guys Burgers and FriesGraham and I went for a walk in the neighborhood after going out for dinner at Goat Hollow. There’s so much greenery around, and Mount Airy folks DEFINITELY love their sunflowers. We came across a house with the front yard crammed with lilies, cacti, thistles, etc. It was basically a swatch of every flower in the neighborhood. It included a large spray of ornamental grass, which, I told Graham, resembled a Fry Guy.

Graham: A what?


Graham: A what?

Me: You don’t know what a Fry Guy is? Is it a generational thing you were too young for and missed out on?!

Graham: I don’t know..?

Me: Ok, Google.. show me pictures of Fry Guys.

Fry Guys Burgers and Fries

I’m uncertain how to interpret this. Either Google thinks I have a speech impediment or she is trying to not so delicately imply what she thinks of my dinner choice of a gigantic medium rare burger with gruyere and fries. What’s more American than grilled burgers and weight problems?

Have a Happy Fourth!


PS. Apparently, the official name for the “Fry Guys” is “Fry Kids.” I would have posted a photo, but most of them include a copyright tag.. so, in case you’re curious.. they’re like this:

Fry Guys Burgers and FriesOr you could just look here.