Travel with Me // Seattle

This post is part of my Travel with Me series in which I post trip reviews and recommendations for trips that I have taken in the past. My hope is that other people will find inspiration and useful tips to help plan their own trips. To read more about the purpose of this series, read the beginning of my first post here.

When & Where:

In May 2013, Daniel and I spent a four day “layover” exploring the beautiful city of Seattle on our way to visit friends in Alaska. We spent our time doing the tourist highlights, eating great food, and soaking in the unique environment. It’s not just anywhere that you find a big, bustling city next to a beautiful body of water and tucked in between mountains.

Where We Stayed:

Just a note – we mostly stay at Hilton hotels because I have a Hilton Gold HHonors membership from work travel.

For my hotel rating system, I’ll use a ranking from 1 to 5 (1 – absolutely terrible, 2 – mediocre, 3 – good, 4 – great, 5 – fantastic).

Homewood Suites – Seattle Convention Center – Pike Street

3 out of 5

When searching for our hotel, the most important feature was distance from Pike Place Market and from public transportation. This hotel was walking distance to these places, but not a short walk. It probably took 20 minutes to walk from the Homewood Suites to Pike Place Market and the surrounding shops and restaurants on the water.

When we checked into the hotel, the person at the desk immediately gave us a nice map of the city with great restaurant and attraction recommendations. Customer service throughout our stay was top notch.

The room was nice. It was a suite with a small kitchen and living area. The bed was very comfortable, and there was plenty of space in the room.

Our main complaint at this hotel was that the breakfast was not good. Well, the hot breakfast might have been good, but it was so crowded both mornings we tried it that the hot breakfast items were almost always out or extremely picked over. It was also a struggle for us to find a place to sit to eat our breakfast – one day we circled the breakfast room for nearly 15 minutes. We both managed to grab a yogurt, a banana, and some dry bagels for breakfast both mornings. The other mornings we decided to eat breakfast out.

Overall, the location of this hotel was convenient and the rooms were decent, so I would stay there again and would recommend it to someone not seeking a high-end luxury hotel.

Where We Ate:

For restaurants, I will offer a Thumbs Up! for the restaurants I highly recommend, a Meh... for restaurants that aren’t bad but that you shouldn’t go out of your way for, or  a Thumbs Down rating for the restaurants that you should avoid. Keep in mind that we usually eat at restaurants highly recommended on sites such as Trip Advisor, so it won’t be very common for me to give a Thumbs Down rating.

Unfortunately, for several places I don’t remember what we ordered or the prices of the order. These are the details I’ll remember to write down on future trips, but I probably won’t have them when I’m reviewing past trips.

Day 1:

Lil’ Woody’s

Thumbs Up!

This was the first place we ate in Seattle. We were just exploring around our hotel when we spotted this burger joint. The woman who took our order was kind of grouchy, but other than that, we enjoyed the restaurant. We each had a burger, I had a bottled root beer, and Daniel had a milkshake. (Note from Daniel: the buns were particularly good – thick and perfectly toasted.)  I recommend this restaurant if you are looking for a quick, casual, and local place to grab a bite.

Sky City Restaurant – Space Needle

Thumbs Up!

Our first day in Seattle was our anniversary, so we booked a reservation at the Space Needle restaurant for a nice dinner with a view. This place fills up fast! We booked a reservation two weeks ahead of time, and we were barely able to get a good time.

We really enjoyed the experience. The seafood was good, and the dessert was fantastic. But the best part – and the real reason to visit this restaurant – was the view. The dining area slowly turns so that you can see Seattle from all angles. Because of our reservation time, we were able to see the views in the daylight, at sunset, and at night.

Many people say this place is over-rated and over-priced. While it is pricey, we thought that the combination of good food and the view actually made it a decent value – especially since the admission fee to just see the view without visiting the restaurant is $11 per person (which you get free when you eat at the restaurant). The food by itself would not have been worth what we paid, but since we got the view too, we thought it was a fair price.

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Day 2:

Blackbird Bakery – Bainbridge Island

Thumbs Up!

During our visit to Bainbridge Island, we stopped at the Blackbird Bakery for a quick lunch. The bakery is a very homey, local place with soups and pastries. You walk up to the counter to place your order, so it is pretty casual. We really enjoyed the food that we ordered, but we were a little disappointed in the limited menu selection. This a great place to stop for a snack but not for a full meal.

Ristorante Machiavelli

Thumbs Up!

Once again, we found this place while walking around near our hotel. It’s just a couple doors down from Lil’ Woody’s. We had a long wait, but we were able to sit down at a table by the bar while waiting. The garlic bread was disappointing, but the pasta was delicious. It wasn’t too expensive. We were seated by the window, so we enjoyed people-watching while eating pasta and drinking Italian sodas.

Bauhaus Books + Coffee

Thumbs Up!

After dinner at the Italian restaurant, we walked across the street to this interesting looking coffee house. We walked into what looked like a library!  The coffee shop has built-in bookshelves filled with books. It was such a neat atmosphere to sit with a mug of coffee and visit. The coffee and pastry were both tasty as well.

Day 3:

Bacco Cafe – Pike Place Area

Thumbs Up!

For breakfast on Day 3, we found a local breakfast spot that serves all kinds of fresh juice along with great omelette options. I wish I had taken a picture of the food so I could remember what we got, but I do remember that it was fresh and tasty! It was a small place, so arrive early if you don’t want to wait.

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Portage Bay Cafe – University District

Thumbs Up!

While exploring the University District, we put our name on the list for brunch at Portage Bay Cafe. Someone had recommended this to us on Facebook, and I’m so glad that we listened! This place is a farm-to-table restaurant where everything you can think of is natural and organic. The menus even said that they were printed with organic ink (whatever that means…). The brunch menu was phenomenal. Just look at the picture of  my pancakes below! They had a pancakes toppings bar with all kinds of fruit, peanut butter, fresh whipped cream, and more. Daniel had a breakfast burrito and loved it as well. (Note from Daniel: the portion sizes where surprisingly enormous for a place that prides itself on sustainability. I’m guessing they feed the leftovers to the chickens out back.)

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El Diablo Coffee Co. – Queen Anne

Thumbs Up!

While looking around the Queen Anne area of Seattle, we stopped at this little gem on the recommendation of a good friend (thanks, Kaitlin!). I would consider this to be one of the best coffee places I’ve visited. As you can see in the picture below, it is a Cuban place, so in addition to coffee, they serve Cuban appetizers and pastries. I had a latte, Daniel had a Cuban coffee, and we shared a delicious empanada! We would have had more if we weren’t waiting our turn for a table at the next restaurant below…. The only weird thing about this place is that it was pretty empty, and we didn’t like that it closes really early in the day. We had to plan to go there before dinner because it would have been closed afterward.

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How to Cook a Wolf –  Queen Anne

Thumbs Up!

This place…. I cannot recommend it enough! Once again, Kaitlin recommended it based on good reviews she had heard, so we went. It is a very small restaurant, but the chef came out to personally greet us and tell us about the menu. This restaurant was similar to a tapas place – there aren’t really any full entrees, so you are meant to order several things to share with the table. We ended up splurging because we could not turn down the drink, appetizer, large plate, or dessert options we were given. Everything was fresh and unique. If you are ever in the Queen Anne area of Seattle looking for a nicer restaurant, please eat here!

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Day 4:

Salty’s on Alki Beach

Meh…

We had brunch reservations at Salty’s for our last day in Seattle. Another friend had recommended doing a nice dinner here, but to make it fit our schedule, we opted for their brunch buffet instead. We were actually kind of disappointed. For such a nice restaurant on the water, and for the price we paid, we didn’t expect the type of set up they have for brunch. There were SO many options (many very, very good), that it made it hard to figure out what would be good to try or what the restaurant was even known for. Whenever we got up to serve ourselves at the buffet, it was crowded and over-whelming. We did try crab legs for the first time which was a fun experience….

One nice perk was that we got to take a water taxi over to the restaurant. That was really nice. Also, the views outside were very beautiful.

If we ever go back to Seattle, I’d love to try dinner at Salty’s since multiple people raved about it. Next time!

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The Crumpet Shop – Pike’s Place Area

Thumbs Up!

Yum! This was fun place to stop for a snack. They offer both sweet and savory types of crumpet. We trip one of each!

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Tully’s Coffee

Meh…

As you can tell, we tried a lot of coffee while in Seattle. That’s not unusual for us even in normal, everyday life, but we had to try several options in a city so well-known for its coffee drinkers and coffee shops. Tully’s Coffee is a place we had never heard of before planning our trip here, so we wanted to try it. It was fine – the coffee was good and so was the customer service, but it’s a pretty wide-spread chain and it definitely felt like a chain when we were sitting inside. I don’t have much against the place, but if I’m going to drink coffee from a chain, I’d rather have Starbucks or Caribou Coffee.

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What We Did:

I use the same rating system for activities that I used for restaurants. Thumbs Up! means I highly recommend that you take time during your trip to do the activity/ explore the area. Meh…  for activities/areas that aren’t bad but that I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to do/explore, and  Thumbs Down for activities/areas that I believe you shouldn’t bother doing/going to at all during your trip. Keep in mind that many of the things that we do on our trips are based off of good reviews from friends or on TripAdvisor so Thumbs Down ratings will be rare and Meh… ratings won’t occur very often either.

Day 1:

REI

Thumbs Up!

The downtown Seattle REI location is (or at least used to be) the chain’s flagship store, so we decided to walk out there from the hotel. It didn’t seem that far from the hotel, but it wasn’t a very pleasant walk – we had to cross some busy streets and a highway. The store is worth visiting, though! There is a bike trail in the back surrounded by a creek and a waterfall. It was neat to stop and watch some of the bikers – you definitely feel like you are in Seattle when surrounded by tons of active people enjoying the outdoors.

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Seattle Public Library – Central Library Location

Thumbs Up!

This was one of my favorite stops of the trip. Daniel and I love bookstores and libraries, so we like to check out unique public libraries or local bookstores when we travel. I had heard that the Seattle Public Library was worth the stop, so we were excited to see it. I’m very glad that we did. This is the most unique library I have ever seen! Just take a look….

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The giant glass building on the right is the library

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The library was huge! I hope to be able to go back one day and sit and enjoy a book in the terrific lighting, but during this trip, we just walked around and explored the building.

Seattle Great Wheel

Thumbs Up!

We weren’t planning to do this, but we had a little extra time before our dinner reservation, so we decided give the giant ferris wheel a try. The wheel is by the water, so we were able to see the water sparkling in the sunshine as well as the city. Now, I was a little nervous throughout the ride – especially whenever the wheel started turning faster – but overall it was a fun, relaxing way to look at the city and take a break from all the walking around.

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Pioneer Square

Thumbs Down

Pioneer Square is a historic section of the city that now has a variety of shops and nightlife options. We went to take a look around, but we were not very impressed. The whole area seemed a little “worn-out”, and we did not run into any shops that interested us. To be fair, we did not spend much time at all in this part of the city, so maybe with a little more research, we would have liked it better. Also, we visited during the day which is likely not the best time to experience this area.

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Day 2:

Pike’s Place Market

As everyone knows, Pike’s Place is a must see in Seattle!  There is so much to see, with the vendors selling anything from fresh bread and fish to jewelry and handmade beauty products. I really enjoyed seeing the mix of tourists and locals and being able to try samples from a few of the stands. My favorite vendor was Pike Place Fish Market where they throw fish at each other and allow guests to toss the fish as well. It’s a lot more entertaining than it sounds….

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Original Starbucks

Thumbs Up!

Visiting the original Starbucks was a mandatory stop for me. We waited in (a very long) line for coffee. Even though the coffee was just normal Starbucks coffee, it was too cool to see the original site and pick up a Pike’s Place mug (this is the only location where those mugs are sold). It was also fun to see the other Starbucks enthusiasts waiting in line with us.

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Very excited!

Bainbridge Island

Thumbs Up!

One activity we really wanted to do was take a ferry to one of the many islands surrounding Seattle. We picked Bainbridge because two people had recommended it to us. We bought our ferry tickets and then boarded along with many other people and a bunch of cars! I’m not sure why, but I found it very amusing that people actually commute on a daily basis by driving their car onto the ferry to go to work in Seattle and then back home to Bainbridge Island.

On the island, there were lots of cute shops to browse. My favorite was the used and new bookstore (of course!), but the cute knitting store came in at a close second! Bainbridge was also where we ate at the Blackbird Bakery, mentioned above. This was definitely worth the trip over; I highly recommend visiting at least one of the islands if you visit Seattle.

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On the ferry

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Day 3:

University District

Thumbs Up!

We really wanted to visit as many different parts of Seattle as we could, so on our third day, we decided to go check out the University District. They happened to be having a big festival up and down the main road surrounding the campus, so there was even more to see and do than usual. In addition to looking at the booths in the festival, we stopped at a few unique shops such as the record/video-game/electronics store shown in the picture below. We were definitely surrounded by an interesting crowd (mix of UW students and locals), but that made it more fun!

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University of Washington

Thumbs Up!

While walking around the University District, we spent about an hour touring the campus of the University of Washington. The campus was beautiful! The trees and grass were bright and green, and many of the buildings had gorgeous, intricate architecture.

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Upper Queen Anne

Thumbs Up!

Upper Queen Anne was my favorite area of Seattle. It is mostly filled with cute homes, but there are plenty of local restaurants and stores as well. We really enjoyed taking our time walking around the area while waiting for our reservation for dinner. I really wish I had taken pictures of our walk, but unfortunately, I didn’t because those were my pre-blogging days. :)

Day 4:

Kerry Park

Thumbs Up!

For one last great view of the city, we took the public bus to Kerry Park. We were only slightly disappointed that the “park” was actually just a small trip of grass, but our disappointment faded quickly when we saw our view….

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Tips & Tricks…

  • Book your reservation at the restaurant in the Space Needle a few weeks in advance. Also, be sure you know what time sunset is during the time of year you visit so that you can book your reservation an hour or so before that time. Watching the transition from day to sunset to night was unforgettable.
  • When visiting the Pike Place Market, be sure to explore the areas below street level and the side streets. You will miss out on some neat stands and shops if you don’t veer off the main path a bit.

This concludes my second full Travel with Me segment. I hope that it helps make planning a trip to Seattle a little easier for someone or that it encourages a few of you to explore this city in the United States. Please let me know in the comments section below if you have any suggestions for future Travel with Me posts or if there is anything in this post that you particularly enjoyed. Also, feel free to comment with any questions. Thank you for reading and happy trip planning!

 

 

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A Photo an Hour – My Everyday Life

Today I’m sharing a typical winter weekday with you by posting a picture (or two) taken during each hour of my day this past Tuesday. Keep in mind, not every day is exactly the same, but I tried to pick a day that was the most typical for me on a weekday during this time of year.

This is a link-up with A Southern Mess and Meg O. on the Go! Be sure to go check out their cute blogs!

A Photo an Hour Link-Up

5:40am – It’s an early morning for me on Tuesdays because I go to cycling class at my gym. I throw on workout clothes laid out the night before, grab a banana, and drive over to the gym. I usually walk, but it was 15 degrees that morning!

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6:50am – This is a dark, fuzzy picture taken of my bike right after cycling class ended. After this, I go back home and shower.

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7:15am – I throw my comfy pjs back on and fix my bowl of cereal and coffee. It’s time to snuggle with Banana on the couch to eat, read my daily devotional, and read a few of my favorite blogs that post in the mornings. This happens every single morning unless I have to be out the door particularly early.

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7:50/8:00am – I pull myself off the couch to fix my hair and makeup while watching a show or a YouTube video and finishing off my coffee. This Tuesday, I was watching part of the latest episode of Bones.

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8:35am – I get to my car and drive to work.

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9:15am – Once I arrive at work, one of the first things I do is look at my to-do list for the week. I was so busy on Monday that I didn’t have time to write my list at all, so that’s the first thing I did when I arrived on Tuesday.

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10:00am – It’s time to pick a Pandora station and get to work on a big project. Tuesday’s pick was my Explosions in the Sky station – great working music.

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11:30am – I’m usually starving by 10, but I hold off until around 11:30. I grab my pre-packed lunch from the office fridge and start to snack. This is a very typical lunch for me to bring, but about twice a week I buy lunch.

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12:30pm – Work, work, work….

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1:30pm – Time to snack on more of the lunch I brought20140128-224218.jpg

2:30pm – Coffee break!

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3:30pm – I know, my days are thrilling…. ;) Time for another snack.

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4:30pm – Taking a quick mental break by reading a few blogs

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5:30pm – If it weren’t busy season at work, I’d be heading home soon, but since it is, I’ve still got a few hours left! This is me being very tired.

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7:10pm – I missed a picture in the 6pm hour, but that’s okay because I was just doing more of the same. Heading home! This is actually a little bit of an early night during busy season.

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8:00pm – My husband made breakfast for dinner – french toast!

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9:00pm – Watching a show together

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10:15pm – I’m working on my blog and watching YouTube videos. After this, I’ll read for a few minutes and then go to sleep by 11:30. I stayed up later than usual Tuesday, but I had a lot of blog stuff I wanted to do.

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That’s it! A day in my life during the week…. Maybe I’ll do a weekend version of this sometime soon. I hope you enjoyed it! Do any of you have “day in the life” posts? They are my absolute favorite type of posts to read, so leave a link below if you want to share your routine!

 

 

Weekly Wishes #4

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Sometimes, it’s the little things that make me smile. Like this coffee mug that my sister gave me filled with my favorite brew – Starbucks Blonde Roast. Simple blog post link-ups like this one also make me very happy!

Each Monday night, I link up with The Nectar Collective to share my “wishes” or goals for the week and to see how I did on my goals last week. Here we go!

Last Week

1. Set up my new planner. – I did this! I’m going to start using Monday nights to plan the rest of the week in my planner while I write these Weekly Wishes.

2. Read the rest of the Book Thief. –Done! Book Club was fun!

3. Make it to  6am cycling class tomorrow and Wednesday morning, BodyPump Thursday evening, yoga on Saturday, and BodyPump again on Sunday. – I kind of failed on this one. I didn’t make either morning cycling class or Saturday yoga, but I did go to Thursday and Sunday BodyPump. I know it’s not a great excuse, but the freezing cold weather is what prevented me from getting out of my warm bed for morning classes. I have a legitimate excuse for Saturday – I was sick.

4. Get a good chunk of my next Travel with Me post written and ready to post next week.  – I did write good chunk! I’m almost finished and it should be posted Thursday or Friday.

5. Get pictures printed for my first Project Life layout. – I didn’t do this because I decided to wait until the end of each month to compile a layout or two for the full month. Instead of this, I backed up all my pictures from my old computer onto my iPad and Dropbox. That was quite a task!

This Week

1. Finish my next Travel with Me post and write three more posts to schedule out over the next few weeks. – I will be very busy with work in February, but I don’t want to abandon my blog during that time!

2. Read half of This is Where I Leave You. – On my TSC post this week, I said I was starting The Cuckoo’s Calling. I had an unfortunate incident downloading this book onto my Nook, and I lost it. :( Now I have to wait in line all over again for my turn to get this book. Oh well! There are plenty of other books to read in the meantime.

3. Make it to  6am cycling class tomorrow, BodyPump Thursday evening, and BodyPump again on Sunday. -This is a reduced goal from last week, but with my workload this week, I’ll be really happy if I make it to just these classes.

4. Spend time with Daniel and get as much rest as possible. – It’s going to be a long February.

The Nectar Collective

The Sunday Currently, Volume 11

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The above picture is of last night’s dinner. It was so, so delicious! Obviously, it was not a healthy meal, but we declared yesterday a “cheat day”. Not that either of us are on a specific diet, but we have been focusing on limiting our calorie intake. Anyways, here is what I’m up to on this chilly Sunday….

Currently… 

Reading  The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling). My “book club” met for brunch today to discuss The Book Thief which I just finished this week for the second time. I absolutely loved it and gave it 5 stars on GoodReads, but only two out of six of us in our group liked it. I recommend it if you don’t mind a story that starts out slowly with a lot of character building and isn’t a very happy read overall. I personally don’t mind slower stories, and for some reason I tend to like sad books, so it was definitely a good pick for me. And by slow, I don’t mean long and hard because, despite it’s 550-ish pages, it’s a fairly quick read. The next book for the book club is This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Topper, so I’ll be reading that soon as well.

Writing  ideas for blog posts. I’m trying to crank out several posts this week so that I can schedule them for the first two weeks of February. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this on the blog, but February is the hardest month for me at work because I go to Memphis, TN for a long period of time to work on a huge project, and not much (if any) time is spent outside of the office.

Listening  to the music Starbucks is playing. Which is not very good, so I’ll probably pull up Pandora here pretty soon.

Thinking  that I better start writing faster if I want to finish everything I had planned to do before my small group meeting tonight. I’m also thinking that I’m looking forward to nicer weather, not just because it will be great to spend time outdoors, but also because it will make our Sunday afternoon coffee shop time much easier when we don’t have to fight all of Northern Virginia for a seat. Before landing here at this Starbucks, we tried a local coffee shop and Barnes & Noble, and both were completely packed.

Smelling  coffee, of course

Wishing  tomorrow was not Monday

Hoping  the freezing cold weather leaves soon. Unless it will bring more snow…. I love snow!

Wearing  a denim shirt, maroon legging cords, boots, and a coat. It’s cold in here.

Loving  my new hobbies! Blogging and Project Life have just added a whole new creative side to my daily life that I’ve never really had before. And, I’m reading more. What did I do with my free time before? Oh, that’s right, I watched TV…. I still do watch a lot of TV, but at least I can work on other things while I’m doing that.

Wanting  to organize our bedroom. Maybe this will be a spring project?

Needing  to put on my headphones. This music is awful and not helping me write.

Feeling  happy

Clicking  Goodreads and Bloglovin’.

This post is for the blog link up on siddathornton. Share yours and link it up!

Click here to see all of my The Sunday Currently posts.

Travel with Me (Briefly) // Philadelphia

I’m back with a different version of a Travel with Me post called Travel with Me (Briefly). For trips that are just a day or two, I’ll write a shorter post that will mostly contain pictures and small descriptions. I hope that these “brief” posts can help you plan a short trip yourself!

I’m kicking off my Travel with Me (Briefly) posts with a review of our one-night trip to Philadelphia! We met up with my cousin and his wife and had a great time exploring historical sites and eating tasty (not-so-good-for-you) food.

For my hotel rating system, I’ll use a ranking from 1 to 5 (1 – absolutely terrible, 2 – mediocre, 3 – good, 4 – great, 5 – fantastic). For restaurants, I’ll give a Thumbs Up! or a Thumbs Down, and for activities, I’ll simply give short descriptions.

When & Where:

Last Friday (January 17th) we drove up to Pennsylvania for a one-night, one-day trip to explore Philly with my cousin Josh and his wife Meredith.

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Obligatory Starbucks road trip stop!

Where We Stayed:

We booked our hotel stay through Living Social at the Wyndham Philadelphia Historic District. It was in a perfect location; we were able to walk to all of the historical sites we were interested in visiting as well as to all of the restaurants we chose.  The room was fairly nice with a very comfortable bed. The hotel was heavily under construction and, on more than one occasion, we had to wait in a long line at the front desk. Overall, I would give this hotel 2.5 out of 5 stars.

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View of historic Philadelphia from our hotel room

Where We Ate:

Breakfast

Honey’s Sit ‘n Eat

I found this cute little breakfast spot on TripAdvisor. It was definitely off the beaten path, but it was delicious! I ordered “Giant” banana pancakes with eggs and coffee. Daniel ordered the Honey Cristo, a ham sandwich with french toast as the bread. Josh and Meredith each enjoyed their meal too. I highly recommend you go here for breakfast if you want a place with a local feel. Thumbs Up!

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Lunch

Sonny’s Famous Cheese Steaks

My husband found Sonny’s ranked #1 on a list of best Philly cheese steaks in town. From what I’ve gathered, there is a lot of controversy over who rightfully claims the #1 spot, but it was a fantastic place for us to try our first cheese steaks. At Sonny’s, you order your cheese steak with or without onions and with your choice of cheese: either Provolone or…. Cheese Whiz! I was pretty grossed out when I heard about the Cheese Whiz. We all wanted to try out both kinds, though, so we ordered one with provolone and one with Cheese Whiz for each couple. Let me tell you – the Cheese Whiz was my favorite! It was just so flavorful. My mouth is watering just thinking about it…. Mmmmm… We all split some fries as well. Thumbs Up!

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Coffee Break

Happily Ever After Dessert Cafe

After lunch, I really wanted a coffee – mostly to warm me up in the cold as we walked around! We stopped over at the cafe next door to Sonny’s. It was a cute shop with a movie theme – there were movie posters all over the walls. They also served pastries and frozen yogurt. Although it was a quick stop, we enjoyed it, and the coffee was good! Thumbs Up!

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Dinner

Jones

Josh found this restaurant online. We honestly had trouble finding a reasonably-priced place that sounded good to us that evening, so we just went with Jones because it seemed to serve a wide variety of meals, making it easy for us all to pick out something we would like. It ended up being a great choice! We all got different things: I ordered the Chicken Pot Pie because I had not had one in a really long time, and I absolutely love them. It had warm, flaky crust (the best part!) and delicious chicken/veggie filling. Daniel ordered the Beef Stroganoff, one of the specials of the evening, and really enjoyed it as well. Jones was definitely a crowd-pleaser. Thumbs Up!

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What We Did:

Daniel and I were only able to stay in Philly for one full day, so we weren’t able to do everything that we actually wanted to do. However, with the help of Josh and Meredith, I think we did our best with fitting in the more important things in one day.

Visitors’ Center

First we stopped at the visitors’ center to get some pamphlets and ask a few questions. Josh saw Rocky and just couldn’t help himself….

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While we were there, we found out that it was Benjamin Franklin’s birthday weekend, so his museum was free!

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Liberty Bell

Leading up to the Liberty Bell, there were stations with lots of information on the history of the Bell and the people who lived during the time it was created and used.

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Independence Hall

We waited in a long line for Independence Hall, but it was very interesting to go inside for a quick tour of the place where our Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were debated and adopted.

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The Portrait Gallery (at the Second National Bank of the United States)

I’m related to Meriwether Lewis somewhere down the line, so I had to get a picture with him. See the resemblance?

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Carpenter’s Hall

Carpenter’s Hall is mainly just a small gift shop on the inside now, but it is the site of meetings of the First Continental Congress in which they discussed their problem with Great Britain in 1774. It was neat to see a small glimpse of history.

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Franklin Court

Franklin Court is the site of Benjamin Franklin’s home back in the day, his museum, a running post office, and a printing press where Franklin used to work. Currently, there is a frame marking where his home used to be.

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I really enjoyed the Benjamin Franklin Museum, so even though it was free this weekend, I would recommend paying for a ticket if you visit. This museum was interesting but not large and overwhelming, so I felt like I was able to read and appreciate everything in there. Here is a glimpse of one of the exhibits….

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While we were in the Franklin Museum gift shop, we ran into the Travelocity Roaming Gnome! Apparently, the guy carrying him goes all around the world taking pictures of the gnome at different historic sites. Kind of cool!

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We had to take a break and figure out our next destination….

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Christ’s Church

This active Episcopalian church is the building where Benjamin Franklin, Betsy Ross, George Washington, William Penn, and many other historical figures attended church services. We just took a quick peek in, but it was neat to see it even just for a couple of minutes.

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Elfreth’s Alley

Our final historical site of the day was Elfreth’s Alley. This alley is lined with homes that were built between the 1720s and 1830s. It was a neat little glimpse back in time. People do currently live in these homes, but it is acceptable for tourists to walk down the road to take pictures and enjoy the history. The Museum Shop was closed when we were there, but I read that they offer you free pamphlets with stories about the residents throughout history when they are open.

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After Elfreth’s Alley, we rested at the hotel before going to dinner and then returning back to the hotel to play a game of Settlers.

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Daniel and I then had to start a very late drive back to DC, but it was worth it!

We always grab an ornament and and a Starbucks “You are Here” mug everywhere that we travel. Here is what we picked up this trip:

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Well, that’s my trip recap and review of Philadelphia! Let me know if you have any questions or comments below.

Weekly Wishes #3

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It’s that time again! I’m really enjoying having Monday nights to plan out what I want to make sure I accomplish for the rest of the week. It really helps me use any free evenings at home and my weekends wisely.

Starting this week, I’m going to begin these posts by taking a look back on my wishes from the previous week to see how I did.

Last Week

1. Read half of The Book Thief.  – I did not finish half, but I was close! I’ve made a reading plan for the rest of the week to make sure I finish in time for my book club meeting this Sunday afternoon.

2. Make it to my 6am cycling class Tuesday morning. – I did make it! And it felt so good to get my workout done in the morning.

3. Set up my Project Life album and get it ready to start my first page. – Done! I can tell I’m going to really enjoy this new hobby.

4. Put all of our Christmas decoration containers back out in our storage unit. – We did this before our trip to Philly this weekend. It’s nice to have a less-cluttered apartment!

5. “Finalize” our budget. – I worked quite a bit on our budget and updating our You Need a Budget software. I’ve decided that it will take a few months for it to be in a more final state since I’m not exactly sure what some of our spending patterns for this year will be yet.

This Week

1. Set up my new planner. – I bought some colored pens and can’t wait to put my new planner together to help me stay organized for the rest of 2014.

2. Read the rest of the Book Thief. – I think I’ve talked about this enough, but it is definitely a priority for me this week.

3. Make it to  6am cycling class tomorrow and Wednesday morning, BodyPump Thursday evening, yoga on Saturday, and BodyPump again on Sunday. – I basically want this to be my routine any week I’m home this year.

4. Get a good chunk of my next Travel with Me post written and ready to post next week. 

5. Get pictures printed for my first Project Life layout. – This is the next step after getting the whole album set up and the first step of creating a layout.

The Nectar Collective

 

The Sunday Currently, Volume 10

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We got in late last night from our one day trip to explore Philadelphia with my cousin Josh and his wife Meredith. It was quite a surprise to us that Philly is less than 3 hours away from our apartment in Arlington, VA! We had a blast learning some history, eating some fantastic (not-so-good-for-you) food, and spending quality time with Josh and Meredith. I’m planning to write up a post about this trip in Philly soon

Currently… 

Reading  The Book Thief. My book club meets for the first time next week, so I’ll definitely have this read by then. This morning, I’m also reading tons of blog posts. Oh, and magazines. I really love magazines, and I have built up a huge pile that I haven’t read yet. I’m hoping to read one or two today.

Writing  nothing but this post this morning. I’m just doing a lot of reading!

Listening  to various YouTube videos. Ever since last fall, I’ve really gotten into watching different YouTubers while getting ready or working on other things. Check out a few of my favorite channels here, here, and here. Be warned: you might unexpectantly get addicted like I did.

Thinking  that it’s going to be a good day. I do need to go into the office this afternoon, but it will only be for a couple of hours. After that, we will go to church and grab some groceries, and hopefully I will have time to work on my Project Life album this evening.

Smelling  my Vanilla Bean Noel candle. It’s almost gone and then I can move on to some of my other fun scents in my collection I built up over Christmas!

Wishing  that I had MLK Day off tomorrow with my husband

Hoping  to build up some energy. I have been in a never-ending state of tiredness for a few months now.

Wearing  pajamas! And I don’t intend to get dressed for the day until I need to go into the office.

Loving  the current series we are doing at church. It’s called How to Eat an Elephant: A Five-Week Journey Towards Holiness. It really is fascinating and a great way to start off the New Year.

Wanting  to update my new planner for the year! It finally arrived late last week.

Needing  to re-fill my coffee mug :)

Feeling  pretty good!

Clicking  Bloglovin’ and Instagram (as usual)

This post is for the blog link up on siddathornton. Share yours and link it up!

Click here to see all of my The Sunday Currently posts.