Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Seattle to South Korea

Quite a bit has happened in the year that we've been in Seattle.  It's been a great change for our little family and I'm happy to be in school.  Not only am I pursuing a MLIS, I will also be working towards a Master's in Museology starting this fall.

One of the main reasons I was interested in attending the University of Washington was that I would be able to study abroad.  I am excited to announce that I will be going to South Korea for a month this summer!  I haven't blogged about this last year, but it is a school requirement that I blog about my adventure.  If you are interested, you can follow me here:

Best wishes to all of you- wherever this message finds you!

Monday, July 29, 2013

One Journey's End

I have spent 29 days in Wisconsin.  I left Miami 31 days ago.  This fact astonishes me.  My life has changed dramatically in those few weeks and it is just going to change again after we get to our new home in Seattle.  J and I have accomplished so much in such a short time.  I didn’t think it was physically possible to do it all… in fact, tears were shed over how overwhelmed I was with everything on our to-do list as well as the things that popped up (like both cars needing repairs/attention). 

Here was the original list I posted awhile back (I crossed off what we did do):
  1. Join this century and get an iPhone
  2. Visit Greenfield News and Hobby with Dad
  3. Madison (we saw the Farmer’s Market, State Street, Arboretum, Campus, Chazen Art Museum, Bluephie’s, Alchemy, Cooper’s Tavern, Genna’s, and the Old Fashioned with our friend Abe)
  4. Make a trek up to MN to see a very special friend and her very adorable baby
  5. Check out the Rusty Quarters arcade while in MN (instead we went out the night before)
  6. Visit with J's high school buddy in MN
  7. Go to my family's cabin
  8. Brewer's Game (for J)
  9. Go back to my old sanctuary: The Milwaukee Art Museum
  10. Comet Cafe for Old Fashioneds and oh-so-bad-for-you-but-oh-so-good food
  11. Sprecher’s Brewery Tour
  12. Red Raspberry Frozen Custard at Kopp's
  13. American Science and Surplus
  14. Date at Alterra and Discovery World  (instead we saw Monster’s University and Despicable Me 2)
  15. Dentist
  16. Girl Day with my future sister-in-law
  17. Treat our newlywed friends to dinner
  18. Meet up with an old friend from middle school
  19. Bake a Rhubarb and Raspberry pie with my grandma
  20. Special Dinner with the 'rents
  21. Enjoy time with my new puppy-sister
  22. Barbeque with the Z's
  23. Makin' stuff with Mom
  24. Visitors! Emmy and her boyfriend in WI
  25. Dream Items: karaoke, paintball, and/or laser tag!
I also managed to fit in a lot of family and friend time that didn't originally make that list.  It made for a very packed July.  Here is a sneak peek at the things that required scheduling... it doesn't show all of the impromptu errands and events.

Instead of writing a insanely long post regarding each and everything we did, here are just a couple of pictures of fun places and fun events:

I have always loved these giant, pink plastic snails in Coral Gables.  They added some humor to my time there.

I have a thing for funny statues.  Can you tell?  This orange moose was spotted on the way up to Minnesota and we made a point to stop by it on our way back to Milwaukee.

The Milwaukee Art Museum is one of my favorite places on earth.  We spent hours there.  It was a windy day, so the "wings" were in, but our guests still seemed to enjoy the art and the architecture.

Madison!  Specifically the view from my first dorm.  I miss it a lot.  I kept reminding myself that I didn't miss winter, though.

A favorite stop for me and my dad: Groppi's Italian Food Market on the South Side of Milwaukee.  I'm not Italian, but I love the old-world feel of the place.

A new favorite piece for me at the Chazen Art Museum.  It is L'Amante by Beth Cavener Stichter.

A view from a farm off of "M" road.  This was one of the few places we had cell phone coverage at my family's cabin.

Speaking of their cabin... isn't it just the cutest?

Beautiful flowers from the local Farmer's Market/Amish Market in town.

Two of my favorite things in this picture: the hubs and oodles of books.  This is from my favorite used bookstore in town.

My mom and I went to the opening party for this bookstore a couple of years ago and they had a live band play.  It was really neat and the atmosphere was very welcoming.

Food from the local co-op.  New Glarus is a Wisconsin brewing company that only brews locally.  I'm not a big beer drinker, but their Serendipity, Raspberry Tart, and Apple Ales are amazing.  The kombucha is my weak way of bringing some health to my cheese-heavy diet.

We saw a lot of fun things while antiquing in town.  I bought an old camera.

The drive to Seattle is going to be rough, but my friend Miss E made me the sweetest care package to keep me occupied for the four days on the road!
So we didn’t get to go to the Rusty Quarters Arcade, but we did get to go out with a good friend.  And we didn’t get to go to Alterra (just the two of us) but we did get to go to some movies.  I didn’t get to see my middle school friend either, but I did get to see five girl friends from college and a Miami friend came to visit.  
Our stay in Wisconsin thoroughly covered friends, family, and terrain.  We did a lot in Milwaukee, a lot in Madison, and we even made it to Minnesota and spent some time in southwestern Wisconsin.  We did a lot of driving… and we are about to do a lot more.  
We are excited to take the next step in our lives.  I’m also a bit nervous too.  We have a lot of responsibilities to take care of as soon as we hit Washington.  I also should detox from the amount of dairy food I’ve consumed while in Wisconsin.  Thank you for joining me on this journey from Milwaukee to Miami and back again.   Maybe I’ll write about my life Seattle, but if I don’t, this was a fun project to chronicle what I’ve done and seen.  This Midwesterner is still adventuring…

Girl Reading by Johann Georg Meyer
... while she studies for her Master's in Library and Information Sciences.  Wish me luck!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

In case you were wondering...

We made it to Wisconsin.  The drive was okay (2 days).  We are busy.  Very busy.  Here is what I look like after a long drive:

Three very tired girls.

Here is what makes me feel better from said drive.

An epic Bloody Mary at Benelux in the Historic Third Ward.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Lessons for Miami Me

I figured I'd follow up my Lessons for Little Me post with a Lessons for Miami Me post.  Enjoy!

Try New Food
This picky eater is trying to be more adventurous.  Eat the duck tongue.  Eat the oysters and clams.  Try dim sum.  Try Peruvian food.  Dining with friends is fun.  Dining with J is a great experience to talk.   I have found a lot of new cuisines that I like and restaurants that I will miss.  I'm looking forward to exploring the dining scene in Seattle now.

Tapas.  Yum.

It's a cliche, but it's true: it's not about the destination, it's about the journey.  Some of my best memories are about what happened on the way to a end-point and who I was with (reading silly billboards in GA with Miss E comes to mind immediately).  San Fransisco was a cool place, but going there with our friend and meeting up with J's brother enhanced the trip for me.  France is beautiful but my friends also made it fun.  Eat the local food, sleep on the floor if you have to, but just GO.

France is Fun-iculaire with friends.  Inside joke.

Learn Constantly
I've taken a writing class and numerous crafting classes.   I've also learned from people around me: how to crochet, how to work smarter and not harder, how to live and work in Miami...  I'm really passionate about being a life-long learner. 

I've learned how to do things that I never thought I could do...

Read, Always
I've had my nose in a book since I was a wee little thing, but my reading went to the next level while living in Miami.  I joined a book club and read books that I normally would not have picked up and in the process my world expanded even more.

Reading with wine is even better!

Be Brave
Yes, I am afraid of murky water.  Yes, I think about crocodiles grabbing me, but if I have to swim through murky water to pet a baby manatee and if I get to see that manatee roll over on it's belly because it likes being pet then I will just have to be brave.  When we went on that trip I was literally saying "Be Brave, Becca" over and over in my mind while snorkeling.  I'd never gone snorkeling before and that in and of itself was a challenge that I overcame.  I've had to be brave while driving and while working with some difficult individuals.  Be brave and you'll be fine most of the time.

This is not the murky water!  This was from the same trip, though.

Be Assertive, Ask Questions
I've had to stand up for myself, my husband, and my pets in situations that I might have usually shirked away from.  It can be difficult doing that in a city with a different culture than the one I grew up in.  I've been confused in some situations and I've had to ask questions.  I'm actually a fairly shy person (unless I'm one-on-one) but in the last three years I've had to learn how to navigate some challenging situations and keep some conversations afloat (to avoid that potentially awkward silence).

Becca and Grumpy Cat both hate awkward silences.

I'm sure there is more, like: How to do Your Laundry and Dodge Little Lizards and That was a Miami-Left Turn... but that's it for now.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Lessons for Little Me

I wrote this list in a notebook a little less than a year ago and I've added ideas here and there.  I was just thinking of what I had learned thus far from life and what I could have benefited from knowing when I was younger.  I figured I'd share it on my blog because -hey- why not?

Lessons for Little Me 
(in no particular order)

Look at that dubious expression.  I still make that face.  And I'm still not sure about my baby brother...

  1. You are undefinable in genres, styles, and interests.  Don't feel like you cannot like something even if it doesn't fit your "code" as long as you enjoy it.
  2. Get over your fear of missing out.  You are a homebody prone to spurts of wanderlust and adventure.  If you don't enjoy parties, don't go.  If you don't like certain people, excuse yourself if you can.  And do what you like.
  3. Friends come, friends go, some stay.  Of all the people that are in your life, only you are constant.  Be good to you, be true to you.
  4. Everything in moderation.
  5. Everything is relative.
  6. Don't expect others to care as deeply as you do.
  7. Don't stop searching for your life soul-mates.  These are the people who you can let your guard down with, the ones you can be honest with, the ones who will not judge you or your quirks.
  8. Always be kind to the nerds.  You know you are a nerd and you always root for the underdog, but don't be too kind, otherwise they sometimes start following you around.
  9. You have a voice, use it.
  10. You have a vote, use it.
  11. You can be a walking contradiction, it's okay.  Love fashion and hate the industry.  Give advice and throw the rules out when it pertains to you.  And it is okay to wear yoga pants to Whole Foods if you feel like it.  
  12. Your gut is always right.  You are still paying for decisions made that you over-analyzed and talked yourself into.
  13. Take more risks.  Leave home.  Make new friends.  Leave that home.  Make another new home.  You will have a different world experience than people who grow roots in one spot.  
  14. Your outsider's observations paired with your intuition will pay off- in characters for future novels.
  15. Write, write, write.
  16. Keep drawing.
  17. Keep reading.
  18. Be more serious about the guitar.
  19. Your crushes and exes are gay or will lose their hair young.  Don't cry so much over them.
  20. The loss of a friend can be worse than a breakup, but there will be more of both, so get used to it.
  21. You can be whoever you want to be.
  22. You will become more introverted, but it will be because you realized you were trying too hard to be accepted by people you don't really like one bit.
  23. Some adults are as full of it as teenagers.  You will be disappointed by your role models.
  24. Keep your child-like joy and silliness.  It will even out that mature, responsible, boring temperament.  
  25. Don't work so hard that you burn yourself out.  Hard work will pay off for you, though.
  26. Take French.  Yes, Spanish is the more practical language, but you'll suck at Spanish, hate it, and you'll always wish you could speak French.
  27. The most painful events are the lessons you really needed to learn.
  28. Find a great doctor, veterinarian, dentist, mechanic, hairstylist, library, etc... these are gems.  They are hard to find but it will be well worth the search.
  29. You will make mistakes and they might be costly and embarrassing, but the things you will regret are the things you do not do or do not have the courage to say.
  30. Sometimes it is fun not knowing where you will go or end up.  Enjoy the ride.
More to learn.  More growing to do.

I'm so glad that I've challenged myself to live a more global life.  I could do even better, but I know that I've expanded my perspective on this world and the people in it.  I enjoy learning new things and every day my world gets a little smaller.  I don't think that is a bad thing.  Right now I have connections to China, to Europe, to Africa, to Latin America, and beyond.  I know people from all walks of life and all philosophies.  I am excited to see how my world will change, how I will grow, and what I will learn in my new city!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Summer Bucket List

21 days left.  3 weeks!

We've been so busy with packing, working, and fitting in last minute fun.  In the last month or so we've been to the Miami Symphony Orchestra (Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98 and Piano Concert No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15 with Eduardo Marturet as the conductor and Philippe Entremont on the piano), A La Folie, Fox's Sherron Inn, the arcade, an Italian Greyhound meet-up in Broward County, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden with Emmy, Lan Pan Asian Cafe, dim sum at South Garden (twice), Bahama Breeze dinner with my office mates, lunch with some professors at Peru Criollo, and some drinks with my friends on Miracle Mile -first at John Martin's for Happy Hour and finishing the night at 100 Montaditos to soak up some of that liquor, but they had good sangria too! ;)  J and I have also managed to sneak in a last meal at Ms. Cheezious a couple of weeks ago. 

Farewell to my favorite Miami Food Truck!

Close-up of a Rainbow Eucalyptus from FTBG

The Cannonball Tree at FTGB is in bloom this month!

You can see where it gets it's name from...

Ending our evening out at 100 Montaditos
During that time I've still be volunteering, reading towards my goal of 85 books in 2013, and making a lot of crafts.  I made a project for J's friends that I cannot wait to show you, but for now it needs to stay a secret!  I also made little glass ornaments that were almost like cards for my office-mates.  On the front it showed their initial and on the back was a small saying of appreciation.  I embellished with dangling beads and keys that said Memory, Love, and Heart.  I didn't get a picture of them, but I plan on making one for my Craft Night friend.  I also finished my secret project for my future sister-in-law.  I've been busy! :)

We have some plans for what we want to fit in while we are still here.  We're hoping to get some good pictures of the graffiti at Wynnwood, some of the trees in Coral Gables, FIU campus, pictures off of the Rickenbocker, maybe of the Venetian Pool from the inside, the Country Club Prado promenade, us by my favorite pink snail sculpture, and picture/video of our Coral Way drive home.  I want to take a picture walk and get some of the smaller details too: the awesome tile at the library, a close-up of Miami oolite rock, the lions at the nearby bank, and more.  Right now J takes almost all of the pictures for this blog and has to e-mail them to me.  I wish I had an iPhone to take pictures of those small moments from my daily life that make me smile... maybe this summer.

Which brings me to the main point of this post: Our Summer Bucket List.  We will have less than 30 days in Wisconsin to see all the special folks, visit the places we love, and eat the food we've missed.  While talking to J, I ticked off on my fingers all of the people we're making plans with, events to attend, things to do, and mini-excursions to plan and it was more than one thing a day.  We'll be busy.  Here is -some- of our Summer Bucket List:

  1. Join this century and get an iPhone
  2. Visit Greenfield News and Hobby with Dad
  3. Madison (definitely going out, definitely eating some yummy food, definitely seeing friends, definitely visiting the arboretum, probably hitting up State Street, the Chazen, and MoMA)
  4. Make a trek up to MN to see a very special friend and her very adorable baby
  5. Check out the Rusty Quarters arcade (J and I love arcades!) while in MN
  6. Visit with J's high school buddy and his lovely girlfriend in MN
  7. Go to my family's cabin
  8. Tailgate at a Brewer's Game (for J)
  9. Go back to my old sanctuary: The Milwaukee Art Museum
  10. Comet Cafe for Old Fashioneds and oh-so-bad-for-you-but-oh-so-good food
  11. Brewery Tour
  12. Red Raspberry Frozen Custard at Kopp's
  13. American Science and Surplus to see if we can get some funny stuff for our new apartment
  14. Date at Alterra and Discovery World
  15. The Dentist! (I love my dentist.)
  16. Girl Day with my future sister-in-law
  17. Treat our newlywed friends to dinner (we are leaving Miami the day they get married!)
  18. Meet up with an old friend from middle school
  19. Bake a Rhubarb and Raspberry pie with my grandma
  20. Special Dinner with the 'rents
  21. Enjoy time with my new puppy-sister
  22. Barbeque with the Z's
  23. Makin' stuff with Mom
  24. Visitors! Emmy and her boyfriend might come to WI to see where we're from
  25. Dream Items: karaoke, paintball, and/or laser tag!
Of course, there are more items that are more personal and specific to special peeps in our lives, but you get the general idea.

I have missed some Wisconsin things and Wisconsin people, but I have realized there are people and things that I will miss down here in Miami (despite still not being too too fond of the place).  I found a little family here that I will miss terribly.  Everyone in my office is on to bigger and better things, but we've all expressed the sentiment that we're going to miss our team and the well-oiled machine that we've become.  These people made me feel loved and cared for here.  I didn't make a lot of friends, but I think the friends I've made are quality friends and I hope they come to visit me and my new life in Seattle.

Now I'm off to clean the bathroom and maybe try my hand at a new recipe.  Catch you later.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Scenic run in Coral Gables

It's Joe again with a guest post for you! Keeping with the same theme as the past post, one of the things that I will miss most about Miami is the beautiful stretches of shaded sidewalks and scenic views in Coral Gables. Over the past three years, I have run over 2,000 miles through just about every block in Coral Gables. I'll have some nice running territory in Seattle, but I'll really miss the 7-8 month winter running season in Miami.

For this post, I made up a 6 mile loop through one of the most scenic parts of Coral Gables. There is some cool stuff in the southern part too but

Here is the link to the map of the route from May My Run:

The map of the route looks like this:

It starts and ends (green and red pins) at the corner of Almeria and Segovia. I finished this route in 65 minutes but it can be much faster if you aren't stopping and taking pictures all the time!

Here is the picture of the starting point:

This block is like many others in Coral Gables: it has the characteristic pink sidewalks and tree canopy. These trees are Mahogany trees: they keep their leaves year round and have large wooden seeds that break apart when they hit the pavement (or sometimes my car...). The best older trees are located in the northern half of the city, the southern half has younger trees that were planted after Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

At the 0.4 mile point (red star on the map) is the Coral Gables city hall with the statue of city founder George Merrick:

Merrick founded Coral Gables in 1925. He carefully planned Coral Gables and named it "City Beautiful" which followed the social movement by the same name which hoped to bring social order and a higher quality of live through urban design. Many of the buildings in Coral Gables follow the Mediterranean revival style and the streets are often named after cities and towns in Spain.

Just across from the City Hall, you can catch a glimpse of Miracle Mile, the main shopping district in Coral Gables. The business district is also located in that general area:

I prefer not to run in that area because there is too much traffic and too many people walking and texting and not paying attention to their surroundings.  Most of the restaurants are upscale, but Cibo Wine Bar is definitely the place to go if you want a nice dinner. 

Moving on, I then made a sharp turn and headed back toward the west to the Granada Golf Course (purple star on map) which is only 0.75 miles from the starting point: 

The golf course is my favorite spot for a short run, it is only about a 2 mile loop around the road that circles the golf course, Greenway Dr. This general area is very popular with walkers, runners, and bikers in the mornings and evenings. 

Following Coral Way, I reached the Merrick House historical site directly at the 1.0 mile pin on the map:

Merrick's residence was completed in 1910 and features a "coral rock" facade which is actually oolitic limestone. Real coral rock has actual coral fossils within it.  The oolite is porous and comprises most of the bedrock around Miami. The rock for this house and many others in Coral Gables was dug from what is now the Venetian Pool (see later in run). 

Merrick House is also located along Coral Way, which is one of the more scenic roads in Miami. Coral Way is lined with live oaks:

I followed Coral Way a few more blocks before turning right on Granada Blvd and heading back through the middle of the Granada Golf Course. The west side of the golf course features some amazing Banyan Trees (yellow star on map):

The Banyans are actually a type of ficus (fig), with large leaves and jungle-like vines. Unfortunately, Banyan trees do not handle strong winds very well, so they really shouldn't be planted in hurricane-prone Miami.

At 2.1 miles (green star), I passed the Alhambra Water Tower which underwent a full restoration in 1993 and just recently received a new coat of paint:

The water tower hasn't served any practical purpose since 1931 but it does look cool.

Just one block to the west of the water tower is a parkway called Country Club Prado:

I really like running on Country Club Prado because it is less crowded (traffic and pedestrians) compared with the nearby golf course. I didn't run through the whole parkway on this run, but it goes all the way up to 8th St. (Calle Ocho from the Pitbull song) and has fountain at the north end which is a popular place for wedding and Quinceanera pictures.

For this run, I simply followed the parkway south across Coral Way took a left on Sevilla St. Just past the 3 mile mark (light blue star) is the Church of the Little Flower:

I've never been inside but it opened in 1926 and is a historical landmark.

Just down the street from the church is Coral Gables' most famous landmark, the Biltmore Hotel (dark blue star on map):

The Biltmore is popular with tourist groups who like to take photos just to the left of where I took this picture. Rates start at $300-400 per night so we never stayed here, although rumor is that the weekend brunch is really good and at least somewhat reasonably priced. On the 4th of July, they set off fireworks next to the Biltmore and everyone sits and watches from the golf course behind the hotel.

Columbus Blvd, another one of my favorite roads, is located directly in front of the Biltmore:

Columbus has a banyan canopy and is close enough that I can reach it when walking the dogs.

From Columbus, I took a right on Almeria and followed it east almost back to the starting point. At Granada, I turned south and took a picture of the De Soto Fountain (purple star on map):

Directly adjacent to the fountain is another very famous landmark: the Venetian Pool. The pool originally provided the limestone for many of Coral Gables' historic buildings. Now, it is one of the more picturesque places in Miami, you can even rent it for special events and weddings. Since I ran in the evening, it was already closed for the day:

Just one block south of the Venetian Pool is one of the original historic buildings from when Merrick designed the city:

This is one of around 80 that were actually built. Originally, Merrick planned around 1,000 but the 1926 Miami Hurricane and the subsequent real estate market crash ended any hope of getting them all built. Unfortunately, Merrick also lost his fortune in the collapse and retreated to the Keys in 1928. 

The next part of the run goes through a residential neighborhood. It is one of my favorite areas for walking the dogs and features a few houses with impressive trees (can you tell that I like trees by now?). Sadly, one of my favorite trees in this section recently died and was cut down.

Eventually, around the 5 mile mark (black star on the map), I reached the Coral Gables library:

The library is surrounded by trees and a butterfly garden. Directly adjacent to the library is the War Memorial and Youth Center, which features a large field that is always crowded in the evenings:

At this point, I go a little out of my way to reach the pink snail statue at the pink star on the map:

According to the local papers, the snails are made of recycled plastic and were originally placed on Miami Beach. However, one night a snail somehow ended up taking a swim in the ocean, so they were relocated to Coral Gables. 

Segovia St serves as the home stretch for this run:

In the past two years, the city added a median, bike lane, and hundreds of oak trees to Segovia St. For now, it still has too much sun for my liking.

I'll really miss running through the Gables, if you ever get a chance to visit Miami, make sure to stop by Coral Gables and check out some of these landmarks.