Harry Potter with the Seattle Symphony :)

Growing up, the magical universe of Harry Potter was my favorite. I was definitely one of those kids who cried on the morning of their 11th birthday because they didn’t receive an acceptance letter from Hogwarts XD.

In addition to Harry Potter, I also really enjoy seeing live music, which is why I was so excited when my friend told me that the Seattle Symphony was performing the soundtrack ofΒ Harry Potter and the Prisoner of AzkabanΒ live while screening the movie :D!

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The concert was absolutely amazing and it was one of the most unique movie-watching experiences I’ve ever had. The conductor watches the movie from a small screen on his podium that gives visual signals on when the music should start and also keeps him on tempo with little blips of the screen, while the rest of the orchestra & choir watch the conductor for cues on when to play.

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Benaroya hall, the concert venue and (I think) where the Seattle Symphony usually plays from, was also really cool, and the acoustics were pretty awesome within the hall. There was also lots of food and drink stands both outside and inside the hall where people could grab some bites before the concert or during intermission, where I bought a couple of yummy cookies! Some of the food stands inside the main hall area was also selling Harry Potter-themed snacks which was really fun to look at πŸ˜€

 

I really enjoyed the experience and had a newfound appreciation for all music in the movie. Until I saw the soundtrack being performed live, I never realized how much chorale stuff was in the soundtrack and also just how much music is in the movie at all. There were also times when I would forget that it was a live performance because it was just so seamlessly integrated with the movie screening and the performance was just absolutely wonderful ❀

 

When the Seattle Symphony does another one of these movie in concert series, I definitely want to check it out!

Hiking Mount Si

It’s been a while since I posted in my blog, but I’m excited to start writing updates again! πŸ™‚

Summer is here in Seattle and with it came some amazing summer weather! One of the ways I’ve been wanting to take advantage of the weather and all the things the Seattle outdoors has to offer is to go on more hikes in the area, so yesterday I went on a hike to Mount Si!

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Did you know that Seattle operates a trailhead shuttle that takes you to a bunch of different trailheads :D? Yesterday I took advantage of the service and took a bus from Capitol Hill to the Mount Si trailhead!

There are four different routes that the trailhead shuttle operates for: Mount Si, Cougar Mountain, Mailbox Peak, and Issaquah Alps. They run pretty often (it seemed like there was one every 30 minutes) and you can even transfer from one shuttle stop to another.

The bus driver was telling us that it’s pretty useful for some of the further hikes, such as Mailbox Peak, because instead of going all the way to Issaquah, which is where the Mailbox Peak bus starts its route, you can take the Mount Si shuttle bus from Capitol Hill and then transfer at the Issaquah station to Mailbox Peak πŸ™‚

This is the fare chart (accurate as of 6/30/2019) for a one-way ride on the bus, and you can pay with your standard ORCA card or with cash πŸ™‚

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The bus is smaller than the usual Seattle buses and so it doesn’t seat many people (capacity said 26), but it was enough for all of us πŸ™‚

 

 

The Mount Si hike itself was pretty difficult, with an elevation of around 4,000 feet with a distance of around 4 miles. There are lots of different routes you can take up around the mountain range, but we pretty much just stayed on the Mount Si trail all the way up to the peak.

The first half of the hike is not too bad, and at the end there was a little makeshift picnic spot with logs for seating in a clear area. A lot of people seemed to hang around here and then head down. If you’re up for the challenge though, you can continue on to a little bridge area.

This is the start of the steep incline up the mountain, and it’s also where most of the elevation was achieved. When I was struggling up this stretch of the hike, I saw some super amazing people running on the trail, and in fact I saw them two more times throughout the hike, just running around the trail! I was so impressed and amazed by their stamina and energy :000

When you reach the end of the steep incline, there’s one final stretch of incline that you need to go up before you can say you’ve really reached the peak of the trail. I believe it’s called the Haystack, and it’s essentially a rocky part of the trail that ends with the peak πŸ™‚

I’m looking forward to going on some more hikes this summer!

SakuraCon 2019!

This weekend I went to Sakura Con at the Washington Convention Center!

It was my first time at the convention, and I had a really nice experience! There were so many interesting panels that were being hosted, a really good lineup of other kinds of activities (like arts & crafts, a manga library, and an open karaoke room), and a ton of really awesome cosplay!!

 

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There was also a karaoke contest at Sakuracon, and it was pretty fun watching the contestants perform! : )

There was also a pretty extensive exhibitionist center where a lot of people were selling official merchandise from different randoms, as well as an artists’ gallery where artists were displaying their different artwork πŸ™‚ The exhibitionist center had a lot more stalls and merchants than the artists’ gallery, but they were both really fun to browse through!

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One of my favorite stalls from artist’s gallery! πŸ™‚

 

There were so many people at the convention, and I particularly noticed that Saturday was the most popular, which made sense since most people have to go to work on weekdays and Sunday is more of a rest day than anything else πŸ™‚

 

Overall, SakuraCon was a really nice experience! At times it was a little overwhelming because there were so many people, but I really enjoyed attending the different panels and admiring the different cosplays present at the convention πŸ™‚ I’m not sure if I’ll attend it again next year, but it was a super great weekend! Next year I think I’m going to attend Emerald City Comic-Con and I’m already looking forward to it! ❀

 

 

Beacon Food Forest

The past weekend I spent my Saturday volunteering at the Beacon Food Forest! They refer to themselves as the BFF, which I thought was sweet πŸ™‚

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The Beacon Food Forest is an entirely community-driven park in the Beacon Hill area of Seattle and its goal is to create an edible urban forest garden where locals can come harvest crops, take classes on how to start their own gardens, and volunteer in many different ways to give back to the community.

Apparently they have committees that meet fairly regularly to determine what type of work needs to be done to maintain the forest and also decide which crops to plant, but I think the coolest part about the food forest is that it’s entirely driven by the community. Even the money to fund the forest comes from the neighborhood’s budget for community improvements, and most of the work that’s done is done by community members or volunteers who are just interested in helping out : D

 

I was there volunteering with my Seattle Teamworks group, a group that volunteers at a different location once a month for 4 months (more information about Seattle Teamworks here!), but apparently BFF hosts a volunteer party every 3rd Saturday of the month where anyone’s welcome to help out with the forest πŸ™‚

I could really tell that they had done this multiple times before because the day went really smoothly and they had a lot of different kinds of projects that volunteers could choose from, such as creating mounds for the new round of crops, making compost piles (the first ones for the year!), weeding and pruning, and building new walls for an expansion of the food forest.

Around noon, the core volunteer committee serves a vegan homemade lunch (that was super yummy!!!) and everyone takes a break to just socialize and talk to other volunteers :D. There’s also coffee and tea that volunteers can drink throughout the day too if they ever need a break or just want to hang around the water cooler for a bit haha.

I worked on creating some new trellises for the DNA Helix part of the food forest (named as such because of the way the irrigation pipes criss cross each other), and there was some leftover bamboo at the end so I took some pieces home to try make something out of it and ended up making a little soap holder πŸ˜€

Overall, I think the concept of the BFF is super cool and I love how much emphasis they put on forming a community and also building a sustainable food forest. I could just picture lots of families coming to the garden during the spring and summer seasons to pick some harvests and also school field trips to learn more about where food comes from and how they grow; it’s a great mission. : )

 

 

Skiing on Crystal Mountain!

Over the past weekend, I went on a ski trip to Crystal Mountain! Some really good friends from Austin and Portland also joined us and having them there really made it a blast πŸ˜€

The last time I’d skied was around 7 years ago. I used to go with my family fairly often, but ever since I started college I don’t think we’ve been to a ski resort except to maybe just enjoy the view of the mountains and stay at a cozy winter lodge, haha πŸ™‚

I only know how to ski, but on the first day of the trip I actually decided to rent a snowboard because I wanted to give something new a try :0! Before I left for the trip, one of my coworkers told me that I’d be falling a lot, but that was definitely an understatement – I was falling on my knees and butt every few feet down the bunny slope, and for a while I had a really hard time figuring out how to get back up after a fall or even how to move forward after getting back up from a fall :/.

I had a lot of fun learning how to snowboard though, and by the end of the day I wasn’t falling as often which was awesome πŸ˜€ But eventually I got tired of getting bruised so I switched over to skiing so that I could start going on the higher slopes πŸ™‚

 

Overall, I had a really nice time on this ski trip – it was really great spending the weekend with people I cared about and enjoyed spending time with, learning something new by trying out snowboarding, and getting better at skiing! I went on my longest run ever with the combination of the Forest Queen route and Quicksilver, and I didn’t fall down once which I was pretty happy about :3

 

Here are some tips if you’re planning/interested in taking a trip to Crystal Mountain!

Driving Over

The drive over was really nice! Initially we were worried there might be too much snow on the road, which would’ve been a problem for us since none of us really knew how to drive in the snow, but fortunately the weather and roads were both all nice and clear! πŸ™‚

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Clear roads and skies all weekend πŸ™‚

On the way to Crystal Mountain, we passed a city called Enumclaw, where we saw a “Log Show” – basically there was a big log in the middle of what looked like a little baseball field where you could sit and watch the log from some bleachers. It was interesting XD

Staying at Crystal Mountain

Crystal Mountain has 3 or 4 different options for lodging, and they’re all at the base of the mountain with convenient locations. There is also another lodge that is fairly close to the resort called Alta Crystal Resort that has a little grocery store which is super nice.

The lodge we stayed at, Quicksilver Lodge, didn’t allow people to cook in their rooms. This was pretty lame because it pretty much forced you to eat at the restaurants at the ski resort. To get around having to eat at the restaurants for all our meals, we packed a bunch of snacks that didn’t require any/much cooking, such as fruit, some bakery items, and a lot of cup noodles :3. One night we did have a really nice dinner experience at The Snorting Elk, one of the main restaurants at the resort – I really recommend their Face Plant drink, it was really yummy!

The lodge itself was pretty cozy, especially the lounge area in the middle of the second floor! There was a very cozy fireplace (which also was almost too extremely effective in warming up the entire lounge), a lot of comfy seating, and some board games that you could play with your friends/family :).

The rooms were pretty spacious but the loft rooms, which were the ones we were staying at, have a really weird layout where the first floor is a mix of a bunch of things.

It was a good space for all of us though, so I can’t really complain too much! πŸ™‚

Renting Equipment

If you’re planning on renting equipment while you’re at Crystal Mountain, there’s a conveniently located rental shop right at the base of the mountain. They rent out both ski and snowboard equipment, and I think they rent out clothes as well – if you don’t have goggles or gloves though, you’ll have to buy them at the equipment store upstairs since they don’t rent out those :(.

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With the rentals, if you’re borrowing them for more than one day, then you have the option of doing a multi-day rental instead of a single-day rental. The multi-day rental is useful because it allows you to hold on to your rented equipment for multiple days instead of returning them at the end of each day and then having to rent them again at the start of the next day. The rental assistant told me that it’s the same price as doing daily rentals so if you’re going to be needing rental equipment for more than one day in a row then there’s really no reason to not get a multi-day rental πŸ™‚

 

 

In general, I kind of enjoyed the intimate nature of the experience at Crystal Mountain. It is a lot smaller than the ski resorts I’ve been to before, but the small scale of the resort lended itself to a cozier atmosphere, and it was a lot easier to find and meet up with each other after we’d come down a slope πŸ™‚

I hope these tips help in planning a trip to Crystal Mountain, and as always please feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions! πŸ™‚ Have a safe ski season everybody!

 

Northwest Chocolate Festival 2018

Yesterday I went to the Northwest Chocolate Festival! I’m a pretty big fan of chocolate, and I was really looking forward to trying a bunch of different samples of chocolates from all the attending chocolatiers – I definitely wasn’t disappointed!

 

It was interesting to see that some of the vendors that I’d seen at the tea expoΒ were also at the chocolate festival, which made sense because some of these tea vendors also had chocolate-related products πŸ™‚

 

My favorite part about the festival were all the different samples, but similar to the tea expo there were also speakers who were there to teach audiences about a bunch of different topics or do cooking demos πŸ˜€ !

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Cooking demo of chocolate meringue snowmen!

 

By the end of the day I was pretty full from eating chocolate and craving some other kinds of food options, and as I was exiting the venue I noticed that there were lots of food trucks that were parked outside, probably exactly for that reason πŸ˜€

 

Overall, I had another fun festival experience and would consider coming again next year πŸ™‚ !

Leavenworth, Washington’s Bavarian Town

My sister is in town for the weekend from Boston, so today I took a day off of work and we took a daytrip to Leavenworth!

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Most of the buildings in Leavenworth were of this style of architecture

Leavenworth is a town in Washington that historically was a settlement town that existed through the railroad boom, but after a while the town started dwindling in terms of residents and economy. Eventually the town leaders decided to re-brand the town as a tourist destination by developing it into a Bavarian town, complete with really cute looking signs and tons of beer/German food options! They have festivals year round and although there weren’t any taking place today when we went, we did get to see them putting up the Christmas lights for the tree-lighting ceremony which was cool!

 

 

 

The first thing we did on our trip was go to the Reindeer Farm for an informational tour about the farm! The staff there were super friendly and from what I could tell, it’s a family-owned business that’s pretty new.

Aside from reindeer, they also had some other animals around the farm, such as chickens, turkeys, horses, a rabbit, and a cat! So many animals ❀

 

The tour starts off with an informational session around the campfire given by one of the owners of the farm, who you can tell knows a lot about the reindeer and is very passionate about keeping the species going. After the info session, they let you enter the pen with all the reindeer and you’re pretty much free to pet them and feed them, and afterwards take pictures with them too!

 

 

After the Reindeer Farm tour, we went into the actual heart of Leavenworth, which was only a few minutes drive from the farm, and mostly did some eye shopping and eating yummy food πŸ˜€

 

It was a pretty full day and we really enjoyed the fall weather while strolling around the town : ), definitely a great destination for a daytrip from Seattle!

A Trip to Thomas Family Farm

Over the weekend I visited Thomas Family Farm up in Snohomish County πŸ™‚ It’s a really great family-friendly farm that has a big pumpkin patch and corn maze among other things, and it was a really festive way to spend a cool fall day!

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There were many different colored pumpkins in the pumpkin patch πŸ˜€Β 

The farm is essentially divided up into two parts – the daytime activities and nighttime activities. Daytime activities include the corn maze, a kiddie playground section, and shopping for pumpkins on the pumpkin patch :D. Nighttime activities include a flashlight corn maze, a zombie paintball game, and a haunted house and hayride!

There were also several food stands both outdoors and indoors, and I definitely went for the roasted corn stand ❀ I love roasted corn!

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Roasted corn, pizza, and donuts!

The weather was pretty cold that day so we left relatively soon after the sun went down, but it could’ve been cool to stay for the nighttime activities too, especially for the zombie paintball game πŸ˜€

2018 Northwest Tea Expo

 

Over the weekend I attended the 2018 Northwest Tea Expo that took place in the Seattle Center!

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A gigantic teapot that welcomes visitors at the entrance πŸ™‚

 

This year’s admission fee was $15, and with the admissions ticket you also get a tote bag to carry any products you purchase during the festival, as well as a small teacup that you can use to sample the different tea flavors from different vendors! The admissions ticket is also valid for both Saturday and Sunday, which is super neat πŸ™‚

 

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You can try any of the tea samples you’re interested in πŸ™‚
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I really loved the steam punk theme of this stall!

 

There were a ton of vendors that were selling tea products and handing out samples of their wares, but I noticed that there were some vendors who didn’t necessarily sell tea themselves but sold products that were related to tea, such as teacups or honey, which was really nice to see!

 

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Some pottery being sold at a stall

 

There were also lots of workshops and tastings going on here and there, and unfortunately I didn’t have the time to browse through all the stallsΒ and attend the workshops, but I did get a glimpse of some of them as I was walking around and they seemed like a very cool experience πŸ™‚

 

 

The tea festival was a very cool event and I enjoyed every moment of the experience! πŸ™‚

NEKO: A Cat Cafe in Seattle

Today my coworkers and I paid a visit to NEKO, an awesome cat cafe in Capitol Hill! Most of us on the team love cats so it was a real treat for us to be able to hang out together with cats (and each other, I guess, haha – just kidding!).

When you enter the cafe, you’ll see the room with the cats to the left of the entrance, while straight ahead is the cafe/bar area where you can order snacks or drinks.

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Some of the cookies on display – check out the Totoro and cat cookies!

If you do decide to get something from the cafe, you can take it in with you to the cat room; just make sure that the cats don’t drink or eat your stuff!

People can enter the cat room at the beginning of every hour, and you can spend up to an hour with the cats at a time. The staff like to let the cats take a break between every hour so that they have some time to rest and relax – I’m sure having strangers come in and out of their space so often can be a stressful experience :0.

One interesting thing about this cafe is that all the cats that live there are adoptable, but more importantly they are all FelV positive, which basically means that they are all affected by the cat equivalent of HIV/leukemia. Fortunately, it’s not a lethal disease or anything; the cats just have to be kept indoors because being outside might cause them to get into contact with germs that might get them sick.

I would definitely recommend going here if you’re a fan of cats and would like to hang out with some of them; my only regret is that people are only allowed to be in the room for an hour at a time and you have to pay for every hour you want to stay : (

Overall, NEKO is a pretty awesome place and I’ll recommend other people to check it out! If you want more information about NEKO, visit their website here!