Wakefield Bar – Belltown

I came here on Tuesday for happy hour with a friend who is moving back to the Midwest on Monday and whom I hadn’t seen in over a year. That’s just what you do as young adults in Seattle, okay? We were busy! I arrived just 10 minutes before happy hour ended, immediately ordered a drink and some tacos, and my friend arrived with 2 minutes to spare. Love that timing.

I had never been to this bar, and I loved the d├ęcor. It made me feel classy and welcomed. It is right in the heart of Belltown, on 2nd and Bell, and while there was outdoor seating, the temperature outside was just one or two degrees less than ideal. It was fine for walking from the bus stop, but I didn’t want to sit in it. The inside was just air-conditioned enough so I wasn’t too cold. The bathrooms were clean and the bartender was very friendly, attentive, and funny.

I ordered a Manhattan to feel cool and grown-up (it worked) and carnitas tacos to mix it up, offering a bite of mine if my friend gave me a bite of her fish tacos, because I would have to know how they were. Guess what, they were great. Are most fish tacos in Seattle just objectively the bomb or am I just easily pleased? There have not been many I have disliked. The carnitas tacos were very no-frills and came with chunky salsa verde, onions, and cilantro.

Both tacos came on little metal frames so that the fillings didn’t fall out, which I have only seen at one other bar, and always appreciate. Love me some innovation. There was the perfect amount of veggies and sauce, and the fish tacos came with carrots, cilantro, and a fruit salsa, which added a refreshing sweetness. Tacos were 2 for $6, and the Manhattan was $9 (normally $12 I assume, as that’s what their signature cocktails were on the non-happy hour menu). Go check out Wakefield Bar and enjoy some tacos on a sunny afternoon.

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Eltana Wood-Fired Bagels

I am on a mission: Find lunch for under $10 near my new office. At my last job, I was a block away from a wide variety of low-priced foods, and there was plenty of fridge space to store my lunch if I brought it from home. At SHKS, not so much. Almost everyday, I am invited to go out for lunch with coworkers, and we either walk at least 5 minutes to somewhere in downtown Fremont, or use a company car to drive to a poke place or a grocery store deli. But I will spend so much money if I don’t do my best to bring food from home or at least find somewhere a little on the cheaper end. The closest option I have found is Eltana Wood-Fired Bagels on Stone Way (they also have locations on Capitol Hill and at Seattle Center), just up the block from the office. Of course, there is a 7/11 across the street from Eltana if I ever feel desperate for oily convenience store mini tacos (I like them, but I’m trying to be kinder to my body), but I have not been there yet.

The first time I went to Eltana, I got an everything bagel with olive and herb cream cheese, tomato, arugula, and avocado, and ordered “for here,” so they prepared it a la carte, which was beautiful. The savory cream cheese mixed with the sweet creamy avocado and the fresh crispness of the arugula and juicy acidity of the tomato made for a lovely summer meal. My only complaint is they use way too much cream cheese. Let’s be cost-conscious here. I am not going to eat an entire mouthful of just cream cheese. You could be saving money by putting like… 3 tablespoons less on each bagel. Just a tip.

The second time I went, I decided to try one of their sandwiches on the menu instead of picking ingredients myself. I got the Saffron Chicken Shawarma sandwich on an everything bagel, and oh my, it was great. I’m a sucker for Mediterranean, and for bagels, so what more can you ask for, really? It had saffron chicken, lettuce, tomato, tzatziki sauce, all on an everything bagel. It was so satisfying and yummy that I finished it all in one sitting and a couple of my coworkers commented “That looks really good.” It was. You should check it out if you haven’t.

I have a new job!

My new desk

On June 24th, I started as the office administrator and marketing assistant at SHKS Architects, a small firm in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle. I had been out of work for three weeks and was starting to get frustrated with my job search, until a recent new friend sent me a listing for this position at her office. I had never worked for an architect firm before, and it had been literally seven years since I had written or edited for a job, excluding a few weeks in 2014 when I edited a friend of a friend’s novella. I was nervous but excited. I went into the first interview feeling hopeful and left it with no expectations but still optimistic. After I was invited back for a second interview, I suspected I had it in the bag, but was still shocked and elated when I was offered the job. I started the following Monday.

Three weeks later, I am settling into a job unlike any other I’ve had before. There are elements of jobs I’ve had before, sure, but this is definitely still a learning experience. I’m proofreading and copy editing like I did as a copy editor on The Observer, my college newspaper. I’m answering the phone and transferring calls to the right people, something I sometimes did as an authorization specialist at SCI Solutions. But I am also planning birthday celebrations; ordering lunch for meetings; booking flights for business trips; keeping track of and ordering office, bathroom, and kitchen supplies; and occasionally taking out the recycling. The editing projects are interspersed between the menial office tasks, and sometimes, I don’t have a lot to do, but that means there’s plenty of time to dive into InDesign tutorials. Or rather, the things I could be doing, such as organizing the materials library, require help from more knowledgeable but very busy people. Sometimes I have three projects at once and none are urgent, so I switch between them, spending an hour at a time on each, and sometimes I just have one project that is a whole lot of trial and error and being really creative.

Right now, I’m using InDesign to creative a visual timeline illustrating the history of Roslyn, WA, culminating in the renovation of a historic house into the Roslyn Creative Center, which SHKS recently orchestrated. I’m feeling more confident about the program today than when I started this project, but I still have a lot to learn. It’s been mostly learning on my own, which is new to me. This is the first job I’ve had in a long time that didn’t offer much formal training. I’m just learning as I go, asking questions, asking for help (though I often don’t know who to ask), and looking things up online.

I am really loving this job though. Everyone is really nice. I get an hour lunch. The commute is only slightly shorter than my commute to SCI. I like watering the plants every Friday morning, answering the phone, opening and sorting the mail (especially stamping the checks), and going over proposals for architectural projects with a red pen. I was even asked to take pictures of a model of a structure the other day. I like that small groups of people go out for lunch together almost everyday and I am always asked to join, even on my first day. I like greeting people who show up for meetings, telling the architect they’re meeting that they’re here, and bringing them coffee or water while they wait in the conference room I’ve directed them to. I have more responsibility, independence, and variety than my last job, or any job I’ve had before, I’m using my degree, and I’m making more too. This is the life.

Shawn O’Donnell’s – multiple locations

I have been to Shawn O’Donnell’s, an Irish pub and American grill, exactly five times, all in the last two years. They have three locations: Everett (1996), Pioneer Square (2013), and Fremont (2015), as well as a Spokane location coming soon. My first time, I had the shepherd’s pie at the Fremont location, and let me tell you, it was the best shepherd’s pie I had ever had. The buttery mashed potatoes with a not-too-crispy layer of cheese on top, the savory ground beef, sweet broth, and well-seasoned vegetables underneath, the fresh sprig of rosemary to top it all off… It’s warm, juicy, and comforting. It has the kind of taste and texture that make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Did I cry happy tears when I first tasted it? Maybe. The second time I came, it was also in Fremont and I had the shepherd’s pie. The third time, it was in Pioneer Square and I had the shepherd’s pie. The fourth time, it was in Fremont again, as part of a “welcome to the team” lunch at my new job, since the office is about a five-minute walk away. I’ll let you guess what I had.

However, the last time I ate there (as part of a “welcome to the team” lunch for our new intern) I decided to try something new. I had never had a Monte Cristo, but the words “French toast,” “bacon,” and “Havarti” caught my eye, so I gave it a try.

This is a messy sandwich. For one, they put powdered sugar on top. Powdered. Sugar. On a meat and cheese sandwich. For two, there are two meats and two cheeses, and they certainly fill it up. They do not skimp on any ingredients, which I appreciate when I’ve made the difficult decision to order a $13 sandwich when I could have ordered a $10 so-good-you’ll-think-you-died-and-went-to-Heaven shepherd’s pie (one of their lunch specials).

The menu said the sandwich came with raspberry jam on it, but that was somehow forgotten, so my coworker, who had also ordered a Monte Cristo along with the intern beside me, nicely asked for some on the side, as well as some syrup. The waiter brought 3 little cups of jam and syrup for all of us, and boy, did that make a difference. I cut up my sandwich one bite at a time and dipped it in the jam, then the syrup, alternating bites with the fries (“chips”) it came with, with ketchup. I couldn’t finish all of it, so the second half is still waiting for me in the one of our tiny office fridges. It was rich, with such an interesting mix of flavors that I wasn’t sure how to describe it to my other coworkers who looked skeptically at the mix of savory and sweet, but I highly recommend it.

Please visit Shawn O’Donnell’s at any of their locations for hearty, delicious, traditional Irish and American fare. They are owned by Shawn O’Donnell himself, the grandson of Irish immigrants, and the original locations are operated by him and his family. Support local businesses!

Veggie Grill – Downtown

At the beginning of this year, I decided to try eating less meat, to try new things, and see if it made me feel healthier. Hanging out with Zachary, also known as ZKRY, local musician and vegetarian who loves to cook, has really helped me with that. Veggie Grill is one of those places we hit up when we need to find food downtown and don’t want to spend too much and or worry that we won’t like it. Everything we’ve had there is delicious. Their menu is full of burgers, tacos, and other traditional American fare, but with fake meat made from veggies!

I actually went for the first time last summer, with some girlfriends before the Hayley Kiyoko concert. Someone else suggested it, and though meat substitutes were totally foreign to me at the time, I was open-minded. I was already a huge fan of fish tacos by that time, so I got their version, and they were so satisfying, I haven’t tried anything else yet, and I’ve been several times now. I’m a creature of habit to a fault, I know.

The “fish” doesn’t have the exact texture or taste of real fish, but it is still good. The tortillas are a little crispy, but it comes with enough limes and not too much cole slaw, which is important to me. Comes with chips and pico de gallo.

Zachary usually has the beyond burger, but I only have pictures from when he got their “chicken” burger and vegan mac and cheese.

We always offer bites of each others’ food, so I can tell you that these are both good as well. The veggies are fresh, and the faux chicken imitates real chicken very well, not to say that a meat substitute should imitate meat well in order to be good food! But it’s a good way to easily transition into a vegetarian life if you want to do that. They also have really good fruit juices!

Rosita’s Cantina – Green Lake

Yesterday, I made last-minute plans to hang out with my friend Justine. She suggested hanging out by some water, then suggested getting food, and both of those things sounded amazing to me so we ended up at Rosita’s Cantina near the Green Lake beach. I felt like having Mexican, and it was nearby a perfect spot to jump in the water. Plus, I had never been there, so it was the perfect opportunity to food blog for the first time in months.

We sat outside, which it may have been a little too hot for, but we were fine. We got guava and strawberry margaritas, which were strong and sweet, perfect for the hot days we’ve been enduring in Seattle. The salsa verde was too spicy for my taste, but the pico salsa was good.

I got the tacos de poscado, like I always do. You can’t find the best fish tacos in Seattle if you don’t try them everywhere you go. I did think the tacos had far too much lettuce, but they made up for that by coming with a fat slice of avocado. The creamy, fresh avocado complimented the chipotle sauce well, once I took most of the lettuce off. I may not care too much about authenticity when it comes to ethnic cuisine, but I draw the line there. It’s gotta be cole slaw and not too much of it, or nothing.

The beans were a little watery but still tasted good, especially mixed with the rice, which is how I like to do it. Gotta have my beans and rice! I would recommend coming here if you want Mexican food that is a short walk from a beach. I’m kidding, it’s also delicious!

Las Margaritas – Haller Lake/Evergreen

Las Margaritas is where I go when I need a sit-down Mexican meal but want to stay close to home. I rarely go out to eat in my own neighborhood because there just isn’t much around here that has impressed me, but this place, right on the border of Seattle and Shoreline, is a go-to for me.

I’m not super picky about my Mexican food, so I can’t guaruntee that someone who has eaten in Mexico City would like it. I don’t know much about what makes something authentic, but I do know what I like: Flavor over heat, fresh ingredients, fast yet not overly-attentive service, strong margaritas, and free chips and salsa. I usually have a chicken enchilada, smothered in red sauce and filled with cheese, surrounded by rice and refried beans, but the last time I went, I tried the vegetarian burrito, and it was really good! I’m trying my best to eat less meat this year, and it is definitely not easy, but it is making me try new things.

Las Margaritas reminds me of El Porton in Yakima, where my family went more than once for special occasions, and we rarely went out to eat due to being low on the list of financial priorities. It’s homey, welcoming, unassuming, and predictable, but in the best way. It’s comfort food and it does its job.

If you’re ever up north and need some hearty, delicious Mexican food or just want a sangria or margarita with me, check out Las Margaritas!

Witness – Capitol Hill

You guys should recommend me places to eat around Downtown, Pioneer Square, and Bitter Lake, because those are also easy for me to bus to from work or home, but it seems I usually eat out in Fremont or Capitol Hill. But there are so many good eateries and bars in Fremont and Cap Hill! Anyway, I found Witness while searching desperately for a brunch place that didn’t have a wildly long wait, one rainy Sunday in December. There was still a wait, but if I had known that perfect chicken and waffles were waiting for me at the end, I definitely would have waited a lot more patiently.

The crispy, sweet breading stayed on for the most part, and the chicken was hot and tender, without slipping right out of the breading. The waffles were cooked just right as well, sweet and soft without being doughy. We sat in the wooden booths that seem to be standard in hipstery places, though I’m not sure why because they are not comfy. But that’s okay. The food made up for it. We also got pancakes with… Huckleberry jam? Anyway, they were delicious. I should really take notes on what I order so that by the time I bother to blog about it, I still know what I had. Or I could, you know, blog as soon as I get home. I’m going to work on that.

Go check out Witness if you aren’t in a hurry and are in the mood for some perfectly executed, no-nonsense traditional American classics.

Coastal Kitchen – Capitol Hill

Zachary had been talking up Coastal Kitchen ever since we met last summer, and the way he talked about it, I was expecting the most amazing brunch ever. When we finally went, I was not disappointed. The cool thing about this place is that their menu changes throughout the year and is always inspired by coastal cuisines around the world. When we went, it seemed like much of the menu was Mexican-inspired, which I always appreciate. Mexican will always be my comfort food.

I had a decadent mocha with a ton of whipped cream, a dish called the Sonora Scramble (the description of which includes the words “dueling salsas,” I kid you not), and he had pancakes, apple sage field roast (faux) sausage, and eggs benedict (a la carte) with raspberry jelly.

Let’s get a closer look at my food though. This was probably the best brunch I’ve ever had.

Crispy hashbrowns, soft yet solid and savory scrambled eggs and chorizo sausage, two kinds of salsa, ketchup, sour cream, and warm tortillas for piling on the eggs bite by bite. Oh my goodness, I knew I was in for a treat but I was unprepared for this level of “get in my belly!” Normally, when I go out, I have a small appetite and end up only taking a few bites before I’m ready for a box and a nap, but this time I was enjoying my food so much that I ate way more than usual before inevitably asking for a box. That was a lot of food, okay? But this was perfection. Please go check out Coastal Kitchen sometime, but make sure you aren’t in a hurry, because there’s usually quite a wait! The food is worth every minute though.

Can I Take Your Picture?

As far as I can remember, I didn’t get into photography until college, when I received a Sony point-and-shoot for Christmas. My growing love of the art began with one digital photography class, for which I had to join Flickr, a photosharing site. Soon, I was immersed in an online community of photographers and learning more than that class would ever teach me (which was mostly Photoshop). A popular project on Flickr was the 365 project, in which people would take one picture a day for a year. Many projects were focused on self-portraits, and I found that fascinating, so I did that.

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Once that was done, I had graduated and wanted to try out portraits of other people. When Kurt and I moved to Kirkland, finding subjects became a lot harder than when we lived in my college town, so portraits fell by the wayside. I tried another year of self-portraits, but that didn’t last long.

However, in 2016, we had moved to Seattle, I had a job with a regular schedule, and somehow, my first real photoshoot happened. I was already friends with my model and I must have just randomly suggested it because I had the itch. By then, I’d been using Kurt’s Nikon D40 for 4 years or so, and really getting the hang of it. When I delivered the photos, I loved seeing how my friend appreciated being able to see how she looked at her most confident. It’s fun to have semi-professional photos of yourself, at least so your dating app photos aren’t all just selfies, but also so you can look at them and go “I AM cool!”

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Since then, I’ve found many models on my friends list, and people have told me I have a real eye for composition, light, and posing. It helps that I’ve done a little modeling myself, just for fun, so I know how it feels to be nervous in front of a camera. Many of the people I’ve shot have never done a photoshoot before, and my favorite thing about shooting them is showing them a shot on my camera that came out just as I hoped it would. Their eyes light up, their shoulders relax, and you can see the gears turning as they realize that having your picture taken is not that scary after all. And now they have some nice pictures to use however they want. I always tell my subjects to wear whatever makes the feel powerful, confident, and most like themselves, because the shoot is about them, not about my vision. I’m just there to capture their radiance in their element. Since September of 2016, I’ve done 26 shoots, including two couple shoots, a wedding, and a live music event.

Yet, with all this practice, and all the praise my friends were giving me, I still never considered making any money off of it until one friend asked me to do a boudoir shoot for her last fall and asked me what I charged. I looked up rates for amateurs and told her $40 an hour, which I knew was still low, but I wasn’t confident enough in my skills to ask for more. Since then, I’ve started to think, “I could really make money off of this, couldn’t I?”

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Well, last week, I made a website so I could showcase what I think is my best work and for potential clients to have a simple way to contact me. Sure, Facebook messenger may be easier, but this looks way more professional in my opinion. I don’t know if I’ll be able to make a business out of it yet. I have 8 shoots coming up in the next few months, but any more I schedule from here on out won’t be free. I think I’ve done enough free shoots to gain practice and skills and a sizeable portfolio that I should be charging for my work. Whether people will want to pay me for it is another question. But it happened once; it can happen again. They say I have a talent. We’ll see what happens.