The Emerald Girl

casual. classic. curious.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Making Christmas Cookies

Every year my Mom likes to host all of her grandkids for a Christmas cookie baking get together. It's fun, it's a mess and it's something I'm glad my mom hosts because I don't have much patience for baking or for making the ginormous mess that is required for 6 kids to make a bunch of cookies. I'd be done at about the length of time it takes to make the dough and put it in the fridge. I'd probably never get around to actually making the cookies. I guess I wasn't blessed with any kind of kitchen genes. I am, however, quite blessed with the ability to eat cookies and spoonfuls of frosting. 😜

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

10 Christmas Tradtions

Christmas is a favorite time of the year. As cliché as that may be, I still love it. I wanted to compile a list of all of the holiday traditions Matt and I have started since being married and having kids.
1) Decorate the house. This may seem obvious but it's such a fun part of the season it can't be left off the list. From twinkling lights on the tree, to embroidered stockings to our growing collection of nutcrackers. Which brings me to...
2) The Nutcracker collection. We started this last year. Nutcrackers remind of the good ol' days in Christmas history. They're kind of quirky and carry a sense of European flair. So in thirty years we'll be those weirdos with 30 nutcrackers and it will be hysterical and I will love it. 
3) Santa pictures. My Grandma had a framed board that held the santa pictures of my dad and his siblings through the years so it's always seemed like something families do. Even though we didn't do Santa pictures growing up, I love having my kids visit him and seeing the pictures as they grow. 

4) Cutting down the Christmas tree. I wrote about this last week, so I won't go in to detail but it's just another fun activity for making merry bright. 
5) Cinnamon rolls on Christmas Eve morning. I started this last year because I really wanted an excuse to eat cinnamon rolls and I'm committed to making this happen once a year!
6) Opening a present on Christmas Eve. OK this is not a real tradition that we decided on. I just love getting presents and can never contain my excitement to give as well so we always end up doing this. I think I'd rather wait for all of them on Christmas morning but it's always just too much. ;)
7) Christmas breakfast: Eggs Benedict . Matt carried this tradition from his childhood into ours and I can't complain. We all sit around the table drinking orange juice. It's kind of picture perfect and so delicious!
8) Annual Hot Chocolate party. This is also something we started last year but we plan on continuing it forever. It's a friends only invite due to the fact that we live in a small place and we see our families on the 24th and 25th. The event is meant to be a sort of come and go thing, where people can come by for some hot cocoa before heading out to the city for other plans like seeing The Nutcracker or going to some other party. Since our kids are so young this works well as it ends before bedtime. 
9) Watch Christmas movies. My all time favorite is The Family Man. Matt really likes Love Actually. There's The Family Stone, National Lampoons Christmas Vacation, Elf, Miracle on 34th Street. We also watched The Night Before. What are some other good ones?
10) Family. We both grew up celebrating with our extended families and it's something we both still love to do and want our kids to grow up experiencing. Luckily, Matt's family gets together on Christmas Eve and mine on Christmas Day so we don't have to split the time and we get to see everyone. 
That's it.
For now. 
Anyone else have fun traditions they like to do?

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Cutting down the Christmas tree

Traditions and family seem to travel well hand in hand. Traditions root us. They make us feel like we're apart of something. They bond us together with those who share them with us. Traditions bottle up the past so you can easily take it with you through the future. We are a country with so many celebrated traditions yet so few. Perhaps because so many of us come from "broken" families, traditions are broken too. As much as I may push away from commitments, my heart longs for grounded traditions.
This past weekend we started a new tradition. We cut down our own tree. It sounds cheesy but it was a fun afternoon adventure in which we drove towards the mountains, drank eggnog lattes, went to a crowded tree farm, scouted for the tree, cut the tree together and then went home to decorate. It will be a tradition we look forward to. I can imagine when my kids are older, excitedly asking when we're going to cut our tree. I can imagine them taking their significant other and then their kids. That's the joy of traditions. To be deeply rooted. 

I think I'm going to share more Christmas traditions in an upcoming post. Does anyone else cut down their tree?
PS I made a vlog of our adventure and trimming the tree once we got it home. If you haven't subscribed to my YouTube channel, go now!


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Making plans to travel

Last night we booked our annual trip to the desert. Palm Desert that is. As the total dinged just under $600, I was joyful and sorrowful that this would be the last plane ride we only have to pay for 3 out of 4 of us. This time next year and Morgan will have to pay for her seat.
February is the perfect time of the year to travel somewhere warm for those of us living in the Northern part of the United States. It's not called mid-winter break for nothing. January is often the longest month on the planet so having something to look forward to will make the days go by quickly and it's the perfect time for a vitamin D pick-me-up.

Booking this trip has me excited for Matt and I's future travel plans. For as long as I can remember, I have fantasized about living in other cities. Never permanently, just temporarily. My brilliant idea is this: every summer, go somewhere new, for 6(ish) weeks. Six weeks is the perfect length of time to really immerse yourself in another city and experience life.

First on our travel list is either NYC or Ireland. I'm really leaning most towards NYC. The city of all cities. The city I've dreamed of for so long but never visited for fear of never truly being satisfied anywhere else.

What are your travel suggestions for places that would be amazing to live?

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The blog

One of the best reasons to buy a Mac is because it has free video editing software on it, iMovie. I finally had a chance to learn how to use the app over the weekend and am now having so much fun making short videos. I spent some time listening to free music on YouTube but really need to spend a lot more time looking for the right sound. Right now I'm just using my iPhone to film which seems to be working just fine in terms of quality and a great place to start. If for some unknown reason, I end up with an ungodly amount of free time (between juggling 2 kids and work) then maybe I'll upgrade to a camera made for filming.

Since we're moving today, I made this little walking tour of the only thing that I will miss about where we live. We're a block away from Kerry Park, one of Seattle's most iconic parks and a major tourist destination. The park that never sleeps. Only the locals know that if you keep walking down the street you come to another breathtaking viewpoint of the sound and across the street is a secret garden park that we used as our own personal backyard over the summer.

Goodbye, Kerry Park, I'll miss you.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Growing out of comfort zones

"Great things never come from comfort zones". I don't know who said this but it's true. Throughout life, people's comfort zones evolve. That's called growth.

Sometimes we're forced into situations and sometimes we have to push ourselves. For me, the last 18 months have been a bit of both but mostly it's been a lot of me being forced into situations that are not my comfort zone. New living situation (that's about to change again, thank God!), new job, new kid, new friends.

Here's a specific, not super personal, example. My Instagram growth has been purely based off of stepping out of my comfort zone. I am an introvert, and shy, and way too introspective for my own good. So putting myself out there on IG felt so incrediably unnatural and very uncomfortable. Liking other people's pictures, commenting on strangers feeds, using trending hashtags. (Of course, that's exactly what "social" media was made for but ya know). Once I really got into it, the walls of my comfort zone expanded pretty quickly. I'm at a different level than I was a year and a half ago. Although, I don't have a clear end goal in mind, I can see that because I broke through my own personal barrier I'll be able to reach for whatever the next level is when it arises.

When the uncomfortable becomes comfortable that's when you know growth has occurred. (This is not the only type of growth to occur but concerning the quote). When you have a new uncomfortable.  Is this the path to greatness? I don't know. But I do know self-improvement is an essential part of life and relationships. Tip: don't compare yourself to others. In the balloon analogy, you'll either blow up too much or deflate.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Dahlias from the farmers market

The season for fresh, live flowers at the Farmers Markets is coming to an end. Such a sad time of the year when farmers markets begin selling those dried flower bunches that are completely unappealing to me with their drab, dead, lifeless colors. I'm hoping to snag just a few more before they're completely gone but for now I'm happy to have a chance to imitate the beautiful floral photos that dance through my Instagram feed. Pro tip: don't buy the pre-made bouquets. Lovely as they may be, I find that a vase full of the same kind has a much more beautiful effect.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

We're moving!

We are moving next week!

We are moving next week.
I didn't imagine I would feel such a mixed bag of emotions. This blog has well documented my hatred for the apartment I live in and the deep emotional toll moving last year had on me but if you missed all that, then just know that the past 15 months have been some of the most physically and emotionally challenged years of my life.

When searching for an apartment, Matt and I didn't want to move just to move. It had to be the right place if we were going to invest in moving again and didn't want to move into a place only to move again at the end of the lease. Stepping into the new rental felt good. It felt right. So that was a complete relief. But it's far from the urban neighborhoods we've lived in the past 7+ years. We're used to walking downtown. We're used to the hustle and bustle that comes with being right in the mix of the main hub of the city. (I admit I feel slightly overdramatic when I say this because we are only moving 4 miles away and not even out of the city but we certainly are not walking downtown).

My heart longs to feel home. Not just familiar but really at home. I'm surprised at how important a physical location is to making me feel at home. Oh, the things we learn about ourselves when forced into uncomfortable situations. Right now, the new neighborhood is unfamiliar and unknown. The people, the places, the sights and the sounds.

But I do have hope.

I do hope that this new place becomes our home quickly. That my family returns to a balanced state. That we find happiness together again under a new roof. Though, I know, I'll need to remind myself daily to choose happiness and gratefulness.

Moving day is next week! (Along with Thanksgiving, I know). We're more than excited about this new adventure and every time we notice our current gross apartment  the excitement grows. I'll share more in the coming weeks of our new place and the new neighborhood.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Visiting the Smith Tower in Seattle

The Smith Tower is the oldest skyscraper in Seattle, being completed in 1914. Fun fact, the Smith Tower was the tallest building on the West Coast until 1962 when the Space Needle was built for the Worlds Fair. The building is a landmark of the Seattle skyline and it's unique architecture has always captured my heart. The building sits in Pioneer Square which is a neighborhood filled with so much character, defined by brick and vintage details. Recently, the Seattle Met magazine has been running ads that the observation deck in the Smith Tower is open to the public. I couldn't wait to visit and the tour was more than I expected.
The views were definitely my favorite part. I'm in love with the charm that is downtown. There's something so magical about city life. People always talk about the "energy" of cities and it's so true. I just feel alive, I love the hustle and the bustle.

The interior is remarkable. The elevators are made by Otis Elevator company and have to be run by an operator. They are original to the building and perhaps one of the most charming things about the Tower itself. Fun fact #2, they are the same elevators as in the Empire State building.

Upstairs is decorated with an Asian flair to pay homage to one of the cities great trading partners. The bar is open all week and is especially busy during happy hour when the sky is dark and the city shines. I'd really love to go back and see the views at night. Overall, the entire visit was well worth the ticket price and something I highly recommend for locals and visitors alike.

Lastly, it's well known on Google that the very top of the tower, the triangle, is a private residence. This alone has held my intrigue in the building for years. First of all, the views, I mean come on, there is nobody else in the city who can boast that view. How in the world did that family land such a deal? It's incredible. Check it out here.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Tips for being grown-up

September 20th marked my 32nd birthday which makes me sound like an adult but trust me I am not one of those people. Recently, one of my three sisters made a statement about wishing she could go back to being a kid. Don't get me wrong, I too have longings for that feeling of complete security but I can't live my life wishing to go back.
I like to remind myself about how much fun it is being grown up. I'll take a stroll down the candy aisle of the grocery store and say to myself that I can buy whatever I want and then, of course, I definitely make sure to make the purchase and leave the guilt about eating crap behind. After all, when I was a kid all I wanted to do was just grow up so I better make sure I'm enjoying these "grown up" years because it truly is the dream of my younger self. 

Another fun thing to do, which I have done only twice that I can recall, is make a spontaneous decision to take a trip. On a Wednesday, Matt and I decided to take a road trip to San Francisco after work that Friday. The entire 14 hour drive down I could not wipe the smile off of my face. I could not stop saying "this is so exciting". For me, that spontaneity gave me the biggest adrenaline rush. I'll never forget that feeling. One minute we're at work in Seattle and the next thing you know we're in California with my car. We didn't just fly over the space as if it wasn't really there, we literally drove through it.

With that in mind, I would just like to say, if you're a grown up then live it up! Do the things that excite you. Make time for real fun. Not just going out on a Friday night but the real things that make your blood pump faster and plaster a smile across your face. Do the unexpected just because you can. 

Trust me I know that the adult things of life can be heavy and weigh you down but it's just a mind set. You can shift your perception. This is coming from the girl who has wrote about nothing but anxious, depressing thoughts for the past year. 

Sometimes you can't be so focused on reaching the end goal that you don't enjoy this moment in your life. That's the kind of stuff that can make people go crazy. Don't forget to make yourself happy now because you do not know the number of days you have left in this life.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Halloween 2016

Halloween is really only fun if you have kids that can celebrate or you attend a really cool costume party. Luckily, I have 2 kids to dress up since I failed to receive any awesome party invites. It is adorable to watch small children trick-or-treating. Jack was a little shy at first but then was totally into. Morgan got into it too which was the cutest thing. She ended up walking up to doors with Jack and following his lead by reaching into candy bowls. Thank you Miss Morgan for getting Mom and Pop some candy. :)

This year, Jack requested to be a rocket ship. Rather than tell him stores don't really carry cool costumes like that, we thought we would make one. Matt suggested using a concrete form tube from Home Depot. This was genius and something I would have never even known about. The tube was easy to cut with a hand saw and retractable knife. One layer of primer to make it white, some careful hand lettering and an American flag sticker from the Army Navy Surplus store. I failed to photograph the red and orange tissue paper we had hanging out of the bottom as the rocket fire. The costume was epic and neighbors everywhere commented on how Jack had the best costume. I don't know how we are going to top it next year but one can always try!

Now that Jack is in school we have the added bonus of classroom parties! As a child, I so looked forward to class parties and I couldn't wait to be a part of that celebration with Jack too. I signed up to bring the treat, searched Pinterest for some good ideas and ended up making these Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle rice krispie treats. I guess you could say the treats were in costume.


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Please give your leftovers away

Living and working in the inner city of Seattle for the past seven years means I have been sharing the streets with some of the richest people in the city and some of the poorest. It can be uncomfortable to share with the poorest people. Mainly because I've been haggled, called at and harassed which, generally speaking, has put a sour taste in my mouth towards many of the people living on the streets. But I also have a giant soft spot. My own experience with addiction leaves me feeling compassionate towards those whose bodies are slaves to addiction themselves. My own experience also hardens my heart too because if I can change my behavior I wonder why can't they.

Needless to say, over the years I've realized that while I may not ever feel inclined to give money to feed their addiction, I do understand that a hungry person is a hungry person no matter what their circumstances. I've been blessed enough in my present life to not know what it feels like to be hungry. To not worry about where my next meal will come from and to be able to buy virtually whatever food I may be craving. Hunger is a basic human need.

The past seven years have began to shape how I feel that I can confidently and comfortably, without really doing anything at all, give food to homeless people. I can remember a number of years ago walking out of a Red Robin on the waterfront and there was a man begging right outside of another popular restaurant. I was carrying my leftovers (I hate wasting food) and thought this man in rags on a cold evening would want them. I was wrong. He snarled at me for offering. Being the sensitive, introvert that I am, I did not make that same mistake ever again.

Some time later, maybe a year or so, I again was leaving a restaurant down the street from my home and I was passing by one of the regular street people I had seen almost daily for the past four years. He walked straight up to me and asked if he could have my leftovers. I promptly handed them off with a shy smile and went on my way. I can't describe the feeling. Sometimes in life we wonder what our purpose is and why we're here or what we're doing. So in that moment, my purpose in life was to be standing on that street corner at the exact time that hungry man came walking by. It's not about me. It's about knowing that God (or whatever you believe in) had a plan for that moment and I didn't walk away from it. I could have easily said no as I have said in the past but why?

This is the question that has led me to this passionate belief that if you have leftovers at a restaurant, you should always take them and keep your eye out for someone who may be hungry. Maybe you have more confidence than me and you aren't afraid of someone angrily saying no to you or maybe you're more like me and you want to know for sure someone is hungry. Look out for people digging in the trash or even just make eye contact with homeless people you walk by as a way to sort of say hi and then they might ask. Or once, I just left it in an area I thought someone might find it because there wasn't an easy pass off.

If you live in a suburb where there really aren't many homeless or hungry people around you, just remember if you go into the city to eat, there are literally hundreds of hungry people on the streets and this is your opportunity to be in the right place at the right time to make a positive difference in somebody else's life. I always hear this saying 'we are blessed to be a blessing' and it reminds to give back even in the smallest of ways.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A trip to the pumpkin patch

Every year I look forward to taking my kids pictures in the pumpkin patch. It has become an unexpected tradition of mine that we make a whole day of. Some people are really into Santa and some people are really into pumpkin patches. I'm into both. ;) I imagine one day I'll have a wall full of fall colored pumpkin patch pictures with my kids and grandkids.

An overcast day would have done wonders for these photos but the sun was nice in the moment. Honestly, the day did not go as well as I had hoped and I seriously was planning a return trip to get the pictures that I really wanted. But, alas, with Halloween just around the corner the probability of us going back up to the farm is not likely.

As a child I remember going to the pumpkin patch just once. I was a grocery store pumpkin kid so when Matt and I started dating and he took me to an actual pumpkin patch in the middle of the farm fields in Snohomish, I just knew that was the only real way to get a pumpkin. The experience you get from visiting the actual farm where your pumpkin grows is so much more exciting. Obviously. I hope it's a tradition my kids think back on fondly and take on as one of their own when they grow older.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Blooms and Macarons

Over the summer I picked up some Macadons macarons from a local farmers market to try them out. I am in a major macaron phase right now and could basically eat them all day. You may remember me posting about styling them with some gorgeous peonies. When Donna, the owner of Macadons, saw the photos she loved them and wanted to do a trade. I happily obliged.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Stripes on Stripes

Top: J.Crew | Shorts: J.Crew Factory (old) | Shoes: Soludos
I know I am totally delayed in posting these pics. September in Seattle is always such a bittersweet month. There is still plenty of sunshine and warm evenings but the light doesn't last quite as long the coldness quietly starts to creep in. This was the last warm day and I fully took advantage of wearing shorts and short sleeves while I still could. An unplanned bonus was that I was wearing all blue, Morgan wore all purple and Matt was in all green. A color fact I thoroughly enjoyed.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Planning a gallery wall

As I mentioned in my last post, we recently had our family photos taken and my next step is to make prints and a physical album. I'll also use them for Christmas cards this year too. It's so important to print your pictures so that you can look at them often and truly enjoy them.
(photo by Meghan Klein)

I've been planning a gallery wall of 9 square frames. This is the best way to maximize prints and create a beautiful statement wall that we can stand in front of and just be totally immersed in happy thoughts - at least that is the hope! My next step is decide on frames. Originally, I wanted all white but have since been thinking about gold or silver. Here are a few options, though I don't think I've found the one just yet. If anyone has any good recs I would really appreciate it!