Blog updates are hard…and I’ve got so much to say.

I think one of the biggest hurdles for me with updating this blog is that I have so many ideas to write about that I get very overwhelmed, and then just put it off. This is a terrible way for me to establish any goals. I think I’ve got to narrow things down. Honestly, I’m great at being proactive and getting things done, but MUST have a specific structure in front of me in order to proceed. I procrastinate when I’m overwhelmed with a boat-load of tasks and have to make a list so I can visually enumerate each item and formulate the best way to tackle them. This leads me to my list of blog-specific goals, which will really be quite simple. I am going to require myself to write 3 entries a week and they will focus (perhaps loosely) on the following 3 topics:

  • One new recipe- I have so many pictures on my computer of recipes I’ve tried, created, and altered that I’ve got to throw back into the food blog world.
  • One analytical post- I’m leaving myself lots of room to budge on this one, but this is basically to get myself back into academic writing. These posts can be about food, international relations, policy, something. I’ve encountered plenty of blogworthy topics during work. I think this will also include work events, but the post will delve deeper and require research.
  • One life adventures post- This idea relies on the premise that there are exciting things happening in my life so this almost implies two goals. I suppose this will also allow me to take the time to recognize exactly what else my life consists of besides work.  With how busy things have gotten recently, I think I’ll be able to fulfill this once-a-week quota.

Another overall aspect of this resolve is to be more engaged in the food/healthy living blog world. If I can take the time (and sometimes even my job’s time) to gawk at recipes and use then, then I should show my appreciation. There is an incredible sense of support (whether it be technologically reinforced or not) through blogging that could be beneficial to my journey as well. As reminded by one of my good friends, Kori, it is not always necessary to blog about every single thing going on. This is my blog after all and I can set my own posting norms. (Thanks for that reminder, Kori!)

Well at least I have one point down for this week: analytical post check!

Right now, I’d like to go into a little life update…

I have recently started teaching Citizenship classes at the library near my work through the King County Library System. Many of the students have a high English proficiency and are from very different parts of the world than the clients I currently work with. Teaching is not something I plan on pursuing as a career, but I really do enjoy teaching in an ESL atmosphere and can never get enough cross-cultural interaction! With this position, I’ll get to design lesson plans and activities and help the students practice for their interview and complete the naturalization process. This will also include teaching the 100 questions of the civics portion, which I’m extra excited about because I lovelovelove social studies! I also love the idea that the students have a definite end goal and I may get to witness their HUGE accomplishment.

After seeing others in the blogworld (live Jenna at EatLiveRun) strike deals with yoga studios to get discounted/free classes by working there a few hours a week, I realized that that would be a perfect option for my low-income lifestyle. In the 9 months I’ve lived in Seattle, I various yoga studios both in my area and farther North in Seattle. Most were located in a difficult location or just have the welcoming atmosphere that I grew accustomed to at my old yoga studio in Athens, GA. I recently found a studio near my apartment that just opened here. I purchased an introductory special and after speaking to one of the owners found myself really wanting this to be my new yoga home. Yoga has become such an integral part of my life lately and when I take breaks, my body feels really off. After one of my first few classes, I spoke to the owner about the possibility of doing a work-study program. After a brief application process, I am now apart of the Maya family! I work a few hours a week at the front desk and am granted as many class hours as I work. This has been an amazing deal so far and not only have I been able to make my yoga practice consistent, but I’ve also met a few very beautiful people. I really appreciate the loving atmosphere of the studio and am beginning to feel a little attachment to Renton (which I have been so excited to move away from closer to the city).

Another issue that I’ve recently become aware of through events in Seattle is human trafficking. After attending a few lectures at the Seattle Public Library and a Seattle Against Slavery meeting, I realized just how big human trafficking is becoming; both as an international and domestic human rights abuse. Here is a link to a very imformative segment on human trafficking in Washington on my favorite local radio station. Modern day slavery is not only occuring in mass amounts all over the world, but there are many instances occuring in Washington and all over the US. Last weekend, I attended the Freedom Initiative’s Unbound Conference. As a way to educate and mobilize the local community, university students and organization’s representatives held the second annual conference. It was an amazing experience and I took so much knowledge away with me. This is definitely an issue I plan to continue to advocate against and get more involved with organizations combatting human trafficking.

What surprised me most about this problem was actually how often prostitution is included as a human trafficking crime. Did you know that forced prostitution is a form of human trafficking even if the victims aren’t foreign nationals? Many sources indicate that human trafficking must involve the use of Force, Fraud, and Coercion, however if it involves the sexual abuse of a minor, these standards do not have to be met. This means that modern day slavery is happening on many “tracks” (parts of a street in which a girl works) all around the country. Women and girls involved in prostitution often don’t face the freedom to choose whether they are involved and may be forced into their position by males in their lives. Unfortunately, the normalized perception of the “Pretty Woman” in prostitution does not exist. Simply put, women in prostitution face much harsher realities than we realize. Modern day slavery exists and we allow it to continue.

In other news, I recently celebrated the Karenni New Year with a few clients and the Karenni community (from Burma) in Seattle. Think dancing, food, and singing- what every great holiday should consist of. Because I happened to have an introductory meeting with a family mentor and her family, I was able to go with the family to the event. I was even given traditional Karenni garb for a New Year’s gift! I’m so in love with the refugee communities in Seattle.

Karenni New Year

In other refugee news, students from the University of Washington put together a 3 day symposium called Boundaries, Borders, and Belongings: Stories of Migration. One of our Iraqi clients will be speaking at the Friday night refugee focused event and I’ll be presenting at the Opportunities Fair on Saturday. I love the community awareness of refugee issues present at UW and other Seattle universities. I definitely wish there was more refugee/immigrant awareness where I went to school!

I’m excited to be go and meet lots of potential volunteers, but am so ready to have a free weekend. I work at the yoga studio on Sundays, but every Saturday for the past few weeks, I’ve had some kind of conference, volunteer fair, or work meeting to go to, and I’m ready for a break! I need time to go for longer runs and enjoy a bike ride at some point. This week, I’m planning on going on a group run through a running store. (SCARRYYYY) It will be good considering my roommate and I have been looking into doing the Anacortes Half-Marathon at the end of July. I’ll let you know how that goes!

Here are a few pictures from a visit with my friend, Matthieu, who came to visit on his way back home to France after working in Whistler for the Olympics! We headed to the Skagit County Tulip Festival and had a lovely time hiking around  around parks in Anacortes and Seattle.

Tulip Fields!

Deception Pass

Deception Pass Bridge- which we climbed under

At Anacortes

Watching the sunset at Anacortes- Canada is in the distance!

Well I think it’s time to let you go since this is getting quite long. Thanks for reading this far!

April 21, 2010. Adventures, analytical. Leave a comment.

We are finally getting healthcare..

Apparently I do not have enough hours in the day to fit all of my scheduled activities. Unfortunately, blogging falls toward the end of this list because when I have the most time on my hands (during the weekend), I spend the least amount of time on the computer as possible.

This is the first of two consecutive entries that I will post because there are two different topics that I have been dying to discuss: the first of which is health care. I apologize if this is a superfluous addition to the health care debate that we are all sick of hearing, but I would like to adhere to the premise that simpler is better. I am personally very passionate about public policy and realized that I can incorporate this more into my blog like I had originally planned. (I also have a post about human trafficking [my newest cause] up my sleeve!)

While the debate over the “socialist health care” of the “Obama regime” is languishing on between the nasty partisan, egocentric individuals  in Congress, I think it’s important to recognize the basic reforms that will be accomplished in the new health care regulations. I feel very relieved about a few particular aspects as they have huge implications for myself and others my age, and thought I would share them with you along with a few other resources.

I absolutely love this NY Times simple break down of the health care legislation:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/03/21/us/health-care-reform.html

There is also another easy to use Washington Post interactive page that will tell you exactly how the changes will affect you personally:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/what-health-bill-means-for-you/

While I am now insured by AmeriCorps basic health care, I have a feeling that the next few years of my life will be much more scantily covered then my current state.

  • I will be able to have access to my parents’ health insurance coverage until the age of 26. While there has been spurts where I’ve been uninsured, having that looming fear of ending up in the hospital without insurance is a great way to end up with worsened medical problems down the road. With my plans to find any kind of job that I will enable me to save money, I will probably end up without  health care provided by an employer. This is the case with a number of recent college graduates; it’s not so much a choice, but the inevitable.
  • Medicaid will also be expanded to all individuals and families at or below 133% of the poverty level.  I have a feeling that I may remain at this point until I go back to school (or convert my career goals to something more income-centric).
  • There will also be a state-run “marketplace” to buy insurance. Within that marketplace, practices such as setting annual limits of coverage and refusal to insure those with previous medical conditions. Minimum plans offered will also include preventative services. In my view, having this “exchange” will increase transparency in the market and generally make insurance more accessible To get insurance coverage individually (without an employer) is very difficult and very expensive. This is a very scary reality that unemployed and/or uninsured individuals have to face. There will now be  more options for us (well in 2014 atleast..)
  • Last, but not least: Restaurants chains with more than 20 locations will have to post calorie totals next to their menu items. This is obviously not the most visually appealing move, but having the numbers standing out next to the most tempting entrees will definitely make a few minds change. I think that the repercussions of this move might be the most important part of this regulation. Arguably, it could fuel the growth of eating disorders in our country, but exposing the grotesque reality of your “happy” meal may promote some kind of awareness of what exactly restaurants are feeding us. Calories are not at all the perfect health indicator, but perhaps this move of convenience will spur some kind of reaction from the consumer in their lackluster quest for health (or life in general). (Can you tell that I’ve recently read Michael Pollen’s Omnivore’s Dilemma?)

I know that this is a very controversial issue, especially concerning the increased taxes for the most wealthy and the plethora of other points debated, but the passage of health care reform was desperately needed. I feel much more comfortable with the state of our country and my future in the jobless (yet insured) world.

Sorry for the terrible delay in posting. I have another post in the works on some of the crazy (but VERY fulfilling) projects that I’ve gotten myself into (plus some new recipes!!).

Mount Si Hike

March 29, 2010. Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Foodie on Food stamps…and some amazing thrift store finds.

As an AmeriCorps VISTA, part of the service agreement is to live at the poverty level of the area in which we serve. Accordingly, everyone in the program qualifies for food stamps. Learning how to navigate the world of social services to access my own benefits has definitely taught me a few things about the system. Not only has this been great for my budget, it’s also been a great way to experiment with the exciting foodie finds that pop up in the blog world!

Like many foodies, the grocery store is one “happy places.” This does mean that I have to be extra conscious of certain conditions when visiting such heavenly places as Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. It’s not that I go to the places that often, but when I visit, I go a little overboard. I have learned to rationalize special purchases that aren’t sold everywhere and learn to limit myself with only a few special purchases. Store-brand items, such as Almond Butter, quinoa, raw nuts and fruit, special cooking materials, etc are usually cheaper and hard to find. Honestly, sticking to a list is not possible nor desirable on every occasion, but I try my best and plan accordingly.

I’ve also strayed away from buying mostly organic produce. In the fall, I frequented farmer’s markets every weekend and felt good about the local, organic purchases I was making. Buying organic from another country just doesn’t make sense on my budget. For produce, I’ve grown most fond of the local ethnic grocers located near my apartment and job. We take our clients to shop at these stores because they are so cheap on basic items, such as produce, that it makes so much sense to just shop there. I have found that Sundays (later in the evening) are the best times to shop because they are restocking all the produce, but the sales are still going on.

There are so many hidden grocery gems in South Seattle that many Seattle foodies remain ignorant of simply because they don’t hang around those parts. Although I sometimes feel as though I am missing out on living near people my age, I really appreciate how much cultural influence exists where I live and work. The cultivation of so many cultures in this area is something that really stands out about Seattle. I really wasn’t expecting it and am constantly pleasantly surprised. There are ethnic markets with awesome deals and unique items near every big city that should definitely be taken advantage of!

Some exciting ethnic store finds and foods in action:

Nutritional Yeast from the Local Health Food Store (Great for topping salads/tofu/etc for a cheesy/nutty flavor + protein)
Hummus on extra sale!
Radish Kim Chee from the local Asian Market!
Roasted Kabocha Squash (the right kind found at the Asian market)
Mung Bean Sprouts=great salad addition + a little extra protein (only 99 cents for a big bag!)
Spinach Salad with tomatoes, avocado, cucumber, bean sprouts, beets, nutritional yeast, and homemade balsamic vinaigrette)

I also have had amazing luck with thrift stores these days! Almost all of our kitchen appliances have been random finds from either Goodwill or St. Vincent De Paul. They’ve saved my life and are great options if you are tight on cash! Most appliances at thrift stores are tested out and there are usually plugs that you can try for yourself. Just take them home and you’ve got a gently used appliance for a great deal! If you are in the market for a random appliance, but have been hesitant about the price, I would definitely check out the thrift stores in your area! Our St. Vincent even has 50% off everything in the store days! A few thrifty examples:

Magic Bullet (9.99 for all it’s pieces)+ Pre-Spinach Berry Smoothie (made with cottage cheese in addition to milk for some extra umph!)

9.99 for a perfectly working juicer! I could not pass this up
Juice! (Would not recommend adding orange rinds though! Led to some extreme bitterness in the juice and the pulp!)
Pulp for crackers! (Soon to come)

While living on a tight budget is something that I’m used to, I’ve only now discovered the greatness of international  grocers and renewed my love of  thrifting. Branching out into the different outlets can be environmentally, cross-culturally, and economically positive!

If you’re feeling adventurous, stop by your local international market or thrift store and enjoy those deals!  :)

March 15, 2010. new foods, thrifting, Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

So it’s been a while….

But I think it’s time!

While I absolutely love reading blogs of all kinds (mainly those concerning food and friends), I think I have gotten caught up in everyone else’s very entertaining lives that I forgot the importance of my own blog(….or this site that resembles a blog.)

I listed blogging at the bottom of my New Years Resolution List, however it is still on the list. Resolutions are not exactly my style though-I think I prefer to look at my list as short-term goals that I should accomplish or work toward accomplishing in the near future. I can therefore make decisions about things in my life by considering if they are in line with my list of goals. I have resolve, but I refuse to look at a year’s successes by the points that bothered me at the beginning of January (my goal creation is also a gradual..perhaps week-long process). I also made an Inspiration Board to remind myself of my priorities in a motivational, visual manner. Here are a few of my goals:

  • Compete- I ran the Seattle Half-Marathon (first Half ever!) around Thanksgiving and I plan to run the Seattle Rock-N-Roll Half Marathon in June. My training for my first half went very sour when I strained my IT Band two weeks till the race and ran a measly 4 miles in those two weeks. Needless to say, my time was less than desirable (but hey, I ran the whole thing AND finished!!!) and it was very hard to walk in the week after the race. This time around, I am aiming to train more gradually (have a better baseline), have more running buddies (for added motivation), participate in other races, and cross-train A LOT more! While I was training, I used a beginning training plan, which worked out well, but I basically only did yoga in addition. Once the short winter days and very rainy weather hit, my motivation also dropped. I think I have a few advantages this time considering I now know what it takes (and can train that way), have more people to run with, and my beloved longer, sunnier days are on their way back! Yay!

  • Get Outside! While this wasn’t exactly the issue before, I still thought that it was important to remember even when the weather sucks. I’ve made sure to go hiking on many weekends, but I would love to get on my bike again. Long bike rides are so invigorating and give me such a different high than running. Sunny days in Seattle are not to be missed!

  • Cook more wholesome foods. I have really gotten into a cooking groove the past few months. I’ve embraced my love for vegetables and non-meat proteins, creating awesome vegetarian and cost-friendly meals that I unfortunately did not blog about. I do want to eat a more balanced diet (esp. during training) because I definitely lacked protein during the months leading up to my half-marathon. I think I am finding more innovative ways to get in some extra protein lately without excessive amounts of tofu and shrimp (I’ve made so many crazy lentil dishes lately!). This also includes cutting more processed foods out of my diet, namely things like crackers and sweets, not all, but I rely on processed foods for snacks (hummus and crackers) too often. This problem may also stem from the fact that I lose self-control when eating things out of a box! While staying within my financial restrictions, I need to embrace the farmers’ markets that abound around Seattle. I have found tons of great discount grocery stores, but having a balance between the two would both lighten up my weekend mornings and be better for the environment.

Oh summer produce, how I miss thee!

  • Become stronger- through yoga, strength training, and other means. Because there is only a Bikram yoga studio near my apartment, I accepted the idea that bikram is the only yoga I will be able to practice. I recently discovered however, that this does not have to be the case. My roommate and I got a 2 week-long subscription (for $14!!!!)  to a yoga studio in Upper Queen Anne, which is about a 20 minute drive from here. During those two weeks, I went about every other day and felt amazing! The studio had both (hot) power vinyasa and (very hot) bikram yoga. I definitely prefer the power vinyasa classes, especially when it incorporates energizing music! That studio is a bit of a drive and too expensive to go to regularly, but it definitely invigorated my love of yoga! : ) I’m currently looking into getting some kind of discount at a studio closer to where I live.

  • I’m aiming to build stronger relationships with others, disregarding prejudgment that  I naturally tend to develop, and building more friendships out of encounters. Keeping this in mind will also enable me to build friendships with people who I wouldn’t normally become close with. I have no problem making “friends” with strangers, but the key here is maintaining those relationships. Moving so far away from the majority of my friends live has made it difficult to keep up with everyone from both lives, and I do not want to lose the amazing friendships that I have made throughout the years. I do know that it is possible as long as I make it a priority!

Halloween with my roomies and Best Friend!

  • Refugee and Immigrant Legislation Day at the Washington State Capital!

  • Finally, I need to blog more. I love writing and I want to document my adventures here. I still take pictures of most of my interesting meals, but would love to contribute more to the food blog world that has helped me so much in my transition to healthy living. I’ve lately been trying to come out of “lurking” status to comment on the blogs that I read daily to show my appreciation for all of the great recipes and motivation that has helped me thus far. Since January, I’ve been documenting what I eat and how I exercise throughout the day. I was also counting my calorie intake, which was fun at first, but I’ve realized that I don’t have a problem with what I eat- it’s how much I eat. I do eat mostly low-calorie foods, but definitely indulge on certain things without even thinking about it. Giving sweets up for Lent has been the greatest challenge that I’ve set for myself thus far, and while I’ve fallen off the boat a few times (for some office birthdays), I’ve felt much better resisting the urge to have a sweet after every single meal. During this time, I’ve eaten more filling and satisfying meals and had either fresh/dried fruit to cleanse my palate. We’ll see how the next three weeks go!

Mega Stuffed Sweet Potato

Lentil burger sandwich on raw Zucchini

I’ve realized that if I do work to maintain my blog, it will help me to simply keep my goals in perspective. I’m at such a crossroads in my life and what better way to manage this daunting adventure than the blogosphere? :  )

I’ll leave you with a few other photos from Refugee and Immigrant Legislation Day. Taking our refugee clients (along with thousands of other refugees and immigrants) to speak to Senators and listen to inspirational speakers definitely made for a very motivating day!

Thanks so much for reading!

March 7, 2010. Uncategorized. 3 comments.

Huge Apology for My Absence

Hello my few lovely readers!

My blog has recently been out of commission because I had to send my computer away to get fixed. I use my work computer to read other’s blogs during my lunch break, but haven’t been able to explain my absence until now. Hopefully, I will be getting it back at the end of this week! It will have been 3 weeks since I have had a computer! There will definitely be a huge recap post because there has been a lot going on in my life, especially while not having a computer!

 

Here is a funny link off my favorite media source (GOOD magazine) in the meantime.

Note: I am currently using my computerless time very efficiently and will explain all of this later.

 

http://www.good.is/post/the-hierarchy-of-digital-distractions/

 

Thanks  for reading! : )

September 16, 2009. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Busy Busy

Well, I would much rather have a busy schedule than nothing on the schedule at all. I have been to social service visits with clients, helped move furniture, picked up donations,  and seen some families almost everyday this week.  My exercise has been minimal. I went to a 90-100 minute yoga class on Tuesday with my roommate, which was perfect after a few stressful days. ( I also needed to work on details that I forget when I practice by myself.) I’ve only been on two runs this week, but this will change tomorrow because summer is almost gone here! : (

I’ll post some more adventures after the weekend, but now onto the food!

I’m still lacking food stamps, but feel like I have been pretty creative with what I have. Most of my meals have been vegetarian (which would usually be the case anyway) with the exception of tuna fish occasionally. This has mostly been due to my own laziness and limitations when grocery shopping because I have only bought a few exceptions to my big ($7) shopping sprees at the farmer’s markets on Tuesdays. I have a few exciting meals here that I actually planned, but some nights I just get tired and snack and almond butter and apples (+ grapes, carrots, whatever I can get my hands on to continue enjoying almond butter…). When I am finally rewarded with the gift of  food stamps/ recognition from the DSHS office, I will be able to plan more exciting meals and perhaps not feel so limited in resources. I need to keep the food side of my blog exciting also!

Examples of meals from the past two weeks:

  • Tzatziki Sauce made from many cucumbers, dill, lime, and Greek yogurt. (Cucumbers and dill compliments of the cute little Asian lady at the farmer’s market who wants me to take extras at the end!) Great excuse to buy Greek yogurt (expensive at the grocery store near my house-definitely in the process of finding better stores and markets). Also ate this with grilled chicken plus farmer’s market vegetables, sandwiches, tuna, and random raw veggies. My favorite combination was Tzatziki sauce + grilled eggplant!

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  • My favorite morning breakfast! 1/3 cup whole grain oats, 1/3 cup water, 1/3 cup milk, 1 banana, 1tsp ground flax, frozen/fresh peaches (or strawberries, blackberries, blueberries depending on what’s on sale or available cheap at the farmer’s market) and almond butter!

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  • ***Even better combination below- fresh strawberries and fresh (handpicked by myself) blackberries! Yum!

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  • Black Bean Soup- After reminiscing with Tyler about the Black Bean Soup from the restaurant I used to work at,called Casa Mia, I decided that I could do the same thing after asking them so many questions and watching all the time. Mine did not turn out quite as creamy, perfectly strained, and seasoned as the original, but was quite enjoyable (and CHEAP). Ingredients: 1 can black beans, 1/2 poblano pepper (intended on getting a spicier one though), 1/2 tsp chopped garlic, about a 1/2 cup 2% milk (totally supposed to use cream, but I used what I had), cilantro, 1 tsp onion, 1/8 avocado (both in the soup and on top because I can’t get enough of it). Topped with: cheddar cheese, greek yogurt, avocado, and True North Almond Chips (Note: I’m not one to measure ingredients in my thrown together concoctions, so I apologize for any possible mistakes!
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  • Summer Gazpacho: I love this soup! I was able to use all farmer’s market ingredients! I changed a few from the original that I saw from Tyler’s site, which was originally from Perfect Gazpacho by Gena of Choosing Raw. Their pictures are much better than mine, so you can use those as a better representation! For the tomatooes, I used cherry tomatoes, roma tomatoes, and tomatillos for a little kick! I also threw in a little left over poblano pepper and some cucumber because I had way too much left over from the farmer’s market lady! The tomatillos and extra cucumber were what made it so green.

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  • Eggplant Tomato Stew: I do not want any food I buy to go to waste, so eating my food (esp vegetables) at their freshest point is always a priority! I had way too much zucchini, eggplant, swiss chard, and tomatoes to play with, and decided to go a warmer route than earlier in the week. Fresh basil is key! I got the idea from Hangry Pants, and decided to try it my own way with what I had. I rated it delicious!100_0159(Note: glass of red wine + Are you ready pamphlet about possible flooding in our area. Oh the joys of poor architecture. For more, see this article. Long story short, my apartment is not at risk for flooding, but the office where I work definitely is. Further rant information will come soon in the future after another city meeting.)
  • Frozen yogurt is so the new fad! I like it though! There is a little frozen yogurt place in downtown Renton right near where we live and it’s a treat we have already indulged in.

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[Neither of the bowls pictured actually belong to me because I resisted (due to an overdose of almond butter for dinner). However when I did splurge, I got raspberries + chocolate chips. This is the small, but it's about two cups worth!  I keep asking for a kid's size or something smaller to no avail! It's good, but I'm currently enjoying a much cheaper container of Breyers (with more chocolate). : )

  • I also had a few farmer’s market pictures to throw in! Next week, I will get there earlier. I really need to work on this balance of discounted veggies/ enjoying the ease of time.

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  • Last thing, a “Free Stuff” sign on the way home from a run at Lake Washington led me to a garage sale, but also a pleasant pile of free stuff. From this:

100_0166I walked away with this:

100_0165(This is some pretty exciting reading material if you ask me. Communication arts magazines featuring articles of Che and environmental architecture, some TIME books featuring Italy and France, a John Grisham book, and some other randoms. I love free stuff sales and garage sales!)

Potential Weekend Adventures: Burmese Food Fair at Buddhist Monk Monastery, Downtown Seattle exploring, a hike somewhere and Sunday morning bike ride at Lake Washington!

Ok my loves. Thanks for reading. I’ll have more actual adventures posted soon. Have a great weekend!

August 28, 2009. Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Finally figuring things out.

So…

It’s taken me a while to figure things out on here and I have not posted as soon as I thought I would. It’s been 24 since I arrived in Seattle and so much has already happened, including great food, people, and parks!

I got here July 21st after a tough and traumatic (a story for another time) car ride with the mom. Arrived to my apartment complex and was pleasantly surprised with the inside, but a little dismayed by the outside. Apparently, there are not many ghettos in Seattle, but some say this is one that almost reaches one. I actually don’t agree with that. There are a lot of families with subsidized housing, but the only problem I ever have is all of the kids running around in the parking lots and in the stairwells. I’m totally fine with kids and have had many good play time experiences, but it is scary when driving around the parking lot because of how many kids there are!

Some pictures of the drive across the US:

( i think these are Wyoming and Kansas)

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My job has been really good so far! The AmeriCorps VISTA training was exciting because we got to meet people serving all along the West coast! My job at the refugee resettlement agency has also provided me with the opportunity to meet such a diverse range of people! I’ve visited with Bhutanese (Nepali in ethnicity) and Burmese families and helped move-in multiple Iraqi families. It’s both heart-warming and heart-wrenching to hear their stories and help them get acculturated. Currently, there are multiple Iraqi families in which the fathers worked for the US Army in Iraq, but were receiving death threats in Iraq and had to leave. This is a huge problem facing the US government. Unfortunately, not much has been done to help the government’s previous employees who now live under the poverty line. I will definitely be devoting an entire post to this issue later in the week, but it’s important to note that the Iraqis that come to the US as refugees were promised much more (i.e.-jobs) than they are receiving.

All of the refugee families I’ve worked with and met so far have been some of the most welcoming and giving individuals I’ve met here. I am constantly amazed at the motivation and persistence that these individuals maintain despite the incredibly traumatic and violent events they experienced. Some have been in refugee camps for 2 decades, some have been pushed from country to country in search of a government who would accept them. I also plan to discuss the different situations of the populations our organization receives as those are also such interesting histories. There will definitely be more about all of that in later posts…

Now various adventures that may or may not bedocumented on camera when that was available

  • Farmer’s Markets Galore! Seattle does not hold back when it comes to Farmer’s Markets! Everybody has heard about Pike Place Market with the Fish Throwers, but the entire city and surrounding areas are abundant with local agriculture! During job training, we had to make a list of facts about ourself. One of mine was “Farmer’s Markets make me giddy.” Little did I know, I was in the land of dreams already!  I don’t have pictures of the markets I’ve been to yet, but will be sure to do that next week! I do however have a few pictures of the great finds I got! One of the first few nights while my mom was still here, we had a delicious meal of roasted King Salmon, asparagus, and golden cherry tomatoes! At the farmer’s market that’s closest to my apartment, I have  accidentally arrived near the closing time and have been able to get more and more vegetables for bargained down prices! Actually, I don’t really even have to do much of the bargaining because there has been a lot lately left over that people just throw away. Wasting good food is terrible and I figure that I’m alleviating some of this situation. [I'm also going to get a program started to donate the leftovers to our refugee clients in the future, so maybe next week this will be an even greater save!] I sometimes feel a little bad about not supporting local farmers to the fullest, but I have to be logical in order to enjoy local foods and live at the poverty line!

Some of the crazy amounts of veggies that I scored from the past two weeks’ markets:

Vegetables Galore! $7 worth!

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102_0127Weekend Hiking Adventures-

  • The past two weekends have been been filled with wonderful hiking adventures! Two weekends ago, the roomies and I visited Salt Water State Park! It’s on Pudget Sound and has lots of beautiful hiking trails! PLUS, there was a Native American Flute festival going on at the time! Did I sit in and play  in a Turtle Drum music session? Oh yes, my friends I did!

    salt water state park trailteepeebeachsalt water state park

    • This past weekend, we visited Lake Sammamish State Park! The trails here were not as deep in the woods, but were long and flat, but also ran through both farms and wetlands. After about 3 miles, we found this huge trail of blackberry bushes! We definitely had a yummy snack on the way, and I carried a big handful back to make with oats! The trails looped into the Issaquah trail, which connects with some very pretty bike trails around that area!100_0156
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    • There was also the Kubota Gardens last week! It is a beautiful Japanese botanical garden which we just happened upon after seeing a sign on the road. The garden itself is incredibly peaceful and actually has circles of trails that my roommate and I definitely got lost on! They were a lot longer than we thought! It was getting dark, so the pictures aren’t of the best quality!

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    • My favorite yet has been Seward Park around Lake Washington! It has a short running train, but then also a longer bike trail out to the Seattle’s floating bridge. The road that goes to the bridge is “Bikes Only” on Sundays, which means next weekend, I will be riding! The views all around the trails are so gorgeous and you get great views of Mount Rainier and Lake Washington! This has definitely been a very energizing place to run!100_0163100_0161

    Because I think I’ve said enough to keep people away for a while, I’m going to wait for the next post to update my exciting low budget-foodie concoctions! Hope everyone is doing well! I’d love to hear from you all, so leave me a message!

    Good night. : )

    August 23, 2009. Uncategorized. 2 comments.

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