Saturday, July 14, 2012

Pike Place Market

 Fish throwing place - I only saw one fish being tossed around and it was for show, but maybe the real fish tossing happens in the morning??

 Gorgeous bouquets of flowers were only $10!!
 Lots of fresh fruits and veggies
 Different peppers and garlic bulbs strung together and hung from ceilings
 The ORIGINAL Starbucks location and logo

 Delicious Russian bakery

 Street vendor, balloon animal man
 Disgusting gum wall - entire wall covered with chewed gum

I finally made it to Pike Place Market yesterday. I wasn't sure it was going to be possible because it closes at 6pm and the conference didn't end until 5pm every night, but yesterday, we finished a little early, so I hopped in a cab and headed for the water. The only way I can describe the market is a mix between Eastern Market in Washington DC and a Guatemalan marketplace. It was crazy!!!!! The street-level of the market is a farmer's market with lots of vendors selling fruits, vegetables, seafood, jams and jellies, and fresh-cut flowers ~ gorgeous flowers they were selling for just $10 a bunch! Had I gone to the market the first day I arrived in Seattle, I would have definitely bought a bouquet for the hotel room. I saw the iconic fish-throwing vendor, but it stunk so I didn't stick around long; the original Starbucks store, which was so crowded I barely snuck in the door for a picture; and the gum wall, which is just that - a wall in an alley-way that is covered in gum and even as I was standing there, people were sticking their fresh, chewed gum on it. 

I liked the market and was glad to see it, but I couldn't imagine going there everyday for groceries. I'd rather have convenient parking at Kroger and no one elbowing me to get the best apple. Another Seattle landmark I can check off my list! Homeward bound tomorrow!!!!!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Cheese curd mania

Cheese curds.....should be re-named "Cheese Delicious" so people will actually give them a chance! Pretty much every restaurant in Seattle has fried cheese curds on the menu, so naturally I decided against ordering something that had the word "curd" in it's name and chalked it up to a disgusting city that serves curds to innocent midwesterners who don't know any better. Boy was I wrong! Thankfully, the other night I was out to dinner with a fellow teacher from the conference who ordered the fried curds to see what they were and I discovered the most deliciously satisfying piece of fried cheese known to mankind. There's no midwestern fired mozzarella stick that could possibly compare to these curds. It's probably a good thing my stomach has been feeling funny, thus relegating me to only 2 curd bites out of fear that I would pay for it later, because had I been at full stomach strength, that basket wouldn't have stood a chance. Hard to describe in words, but imagine tearing off a piece of slightly salty, firm, processed mozzarella flavor-type cheese and frying it to a golden brown yet it retains its firm texture despite being fried. It didn't melt in your mouth or get stringy like fried cheese usually does.

So, since my curd experience, I've been on a quest to find out exactly what a cheese curd is. Obviously I know the nursery rhyme of little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet eating her curds and whey, but what is a curd?? I thought a curd was the chunky part of sour milk, which is exactly why I would never order fried curds because who wants sour milk?! According to Wikipedia, which is basically the same as Webster's Dictionary (haha! Poor Miriam Webster certainly doesn't like that comparison!), a curd is just as I thought. And upon further reading, fried cheese curds are supposedly most common in Canada and the MIDWEST! Ummmm I think Wikipedia may have just lost some credibility because I for one have never seen cheese curds on any menu in Ohio. Anyways, I was at Pike's Public Market today and wouldn't you know, one of the first stores I came across had a big pan of fresh cheese curds sitting in it's window. So, you know have pictures above of cheese curds before and after frying :) Lesson learned: don't be afraid of curds.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Dale Chihuly in Seattle!

 Gigantic glass sculpture of waves and sea creatures

 Glass objects laying on a glass ceiling to walk under

 Rowboat filled with glass balls
 Another rowboat filled with a variety of sculptures
 chandelier hanging from ceiling
 flower-like cups

 beautiful sculptured flowers hanging in an atrium
 The Space Needle is visible from the atrium!

 Crazy garden sculpture

Best part of Seattle by far!! Dale Chihuly is a fabulous glass-blower who makes these unbelievably colorful sculptures all by hand. I'm not much into art appreciation and going to art galleries to stare at pictures of paint splattered on canvases, but give me a Chihuly exhibit any day and I will spend hours wondering around. I thought the Franklin Park Conservatory had a great Chihuly exhibit, but the size and complexity of these structures were astonishing. So, if you ever find yourself in Seattle with only $19 to spend, forget the Space Needle and head straight to the gardens next door - both the same entry price but Chihuly is way better!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

My kids vs. the rest of them

The past couple days I have visited and observed a school that teaches the same curriculum as the school I work at, but this school in Seattle is for typical kids who are just behind in school and need to catch up academically. Well, today I spent about 3 hours or so in an elementary classroom with typical kids (roughly 6-8 year old kids, so about the same age that I teach), but I left there thinking how much I LOVE autistic children :) There were no funny stories to bring away from the classroom ~ no kids throwing desks and chairs, none trying to secretly use legos and pencils as elevators because it gives them great joy, no one told me there was colorful cat hair in their sandwich, and no one was jumping up and down flapping their arms because they were so excited that they reached a goal. What a boring classroom! I chuckled to myself how much the teacher actually looked like a teacher - wearing a cute skirt and blouse with dress shoes and her hair neatly done. If I ever wore dress shoes to teach, I would break an ankle the first morning trying to catch one of my kids from running out of the room, or if I wore a skirt, it would be over my head within minutes of the day starting! One of my favorite days teaching is still when a student walked into my class after being absent and very seriously told me he had missed the past few days because he was sick with autism. It's good to be in a classroom with typical kids because it quickly reinforces my preference of being with a-typical kids! :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Not quite touristy

The things about Seattle that have intrigued me most are not the usual tourist spots. For starters, take a look at the first picture of a recycling center inside a hamburger restaurant. Instead of just a green trashcan with a recycling arrow picture, this place actually has 3 centers - food compostables, recycling, and garbage - with pictures of what exactly should go in each area. Brilliant! Although, I will say it took me longer to throw away my trash than ever before because I was trying to match the empty containers/papers on my tray to the exact location. I felt like a flashing red light would appear if I mixed something up! Ha!

Second thing I noticed right away is the conference food. So, I'm out here for a teaching conference lasting from 8:15am-5pm every day, so naturally I assumed there might be some treats to start off the morning. When ever I go to conferences or meetings in the morning back in Ohio, it never fails an assortment of delicious bagels, muffins, pastries, juice, etc. is waiting for everyone. But, not in health-conscience Seattle! We had a pitcher of water and some granola-type bars to munch on. I was weary of these gluten free, low glycemic, low sodium, dairy-free, cholesterol-free, no trans-fat fruit and nut bar things, but the Almond & Coconut KIND bar is amazing!!! I fully intend to pick some of these up when I get back home. An interesting change of pace from the usual conference food....although I would really like a danish right about now :)

The Infamous Space Needle

 View from my hotel

 Cruise ship docked in Puget Sound
 Looking out into Puget Sound
 City of Seattle. Mt. Ranier is in the background but the snow-capped mountain top looked more like clouds
 From the ground looking up
Weird straw garden at the base of the space needle

Today I went to the Space Needle after the conference. The sky was a beautiful blue with only a few small clouds here and there, so the visibility was great. I can see the needle from my hotel, so the first thing I noticed is that it is colorful and not nearly as tall as I thought it would be. Maybe it's an optical illusion from the ground, but I expected it to be more grandeur than what it actually is. From watching the opening of Grey's Anatomy for the past several years, I expected the needle to be solid white and  towering over everything. The observation deck is 520 ft. above ground making it the tallest observation tower in Seattle, however, there are 5 skyscrapers that are actually taller than the needle. Perhaps a helicopter tour of Seattle and an aerial view of the needle would make it appear more like the movies do. So, for $19, I was a bit disappointed. It's one of those things I can say I did but I wouldn't pay to go to the top again.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Seattle bound!

First of all, I can't believe I missed writing the entire month of June! No, life didn't stop and I was bored and that's why I had nothing to write about, but it was actually the complete opposite. This is a summer of weddings as I like to call it - ours in May, one an hour away the first weekend of June, another one in DC a couple weeks ago, another one in Florida coming up in a week, and rounding off the summer in September yet another wedding. So, Sam and I traveled a couple weekends in June and then I started back to school for summer camp and once school started again, I lost all energy by the time evening came to write any blog entries.

But, here I am reporting from Seattle, WA! I'm out here for a week on business - a conference on teaching that myself and 3 other teachers are attending. I've never been to Seattle but from all the brochures I gathered at the airport, there seems to be an abundance of activities to choose from. Hopefully the conference will end early or attractions stay open late so that I can see everything. If all goes well, you'll be reading about Dale Chihuly's Garden and Glass exhibit, the Space Needle, and Pike's Place Market. Those are my 3 goal places to visit!

Anyways, today was a travel day and as you can see from my airplane tray, it was not easy getting me on the plane. I really don't like flying by myself and being away from Sam for a whole week is dreadful, so I wasn't looking forward to today at all. The plane to chicago was one of the little commuter jets - 2 seats on one side and 1 seat on the other. First it was a half hour late, so I waited in the airport pacing texting Sam back and forth as he gave me pep talks to get on the plane. Then right before we boarded, the airline attendant said the bathroom on the plane was broken and would be out of service. Now, I despise using airplane bathrooms because they are so tiny and usually smell yucky, but it's comforting to know there is a bathroom on the plane should it be required during the flight, so the fact that there wasn't going to be one, and the plane couldn't make a pit stop at McDonald's while flying, made my stomach hurt even worse with anxiety. When I actually did board the plane, I almost darted back up the ramp into the airport - it was so small and all the window shades closed to keep the sun from heating it up but it looked like I was walking into a coffin. I had to duck my head and turn sideways. Panic was setting, I take that back, panic had already set in. I kept telling myself it was only 45 minutes in the air and I would be okay....but then just when I calmed down, the pilot announced there were bad storms and we would reroute to fly over St. Louis and then to Chicago. Oh and we would be sitting inside the plane another 30 minutes to get more fuel for our trip. So, I set up my little tray table for the trip ~ bottle of water, cup of ginger ale with the can to refill my cup, saltine crackers, my rosary, and my iPod. Oh what a sight I was! Haha! I held my rosary in my hand the entire trip and said my prayers while listening on my iPod to the Hogar kids chanting in church. As peaceful as I could make it 30,000 feet in the air flying in a dark coffin! Now to look up rental cars for my trip back home in a week..... :)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Nature's finest

 Captain Sam driving the boat

 The water and lots of bugs! 

 Home sweet tent!

My first camping experience and it was 95 degrees outside at a park without running water in the bathrooms....I was not impressed to say the least. However, I like to say I give everything a fair shot once before deciding if I will try it again, and camping in the heat is not a fair shot. So, I will give it another go when temperatures drop below 65 degrees in the Fall :)

We received many camping items for wedding gifts and decided to spend Memorial Day weekend on the Ohio River at Forked Run Metro Park with Sam's dad, grandma, brother, and brother's girlfriend. Sam and I had spent the previous week scouring the Forked Run website for the perfect campsite to reserve for 3 tents and we found it! However, our first indication of how the weekend was going to unfold came when we arrived at the park to find someone else had stolen our site! Yes, they STOLE our campsite. When we checked in upon arriving, the park ranger said they put our little reserved tag on the post of campsite 118 for us, so we drove on into the park and found our site. But, already set up were several tents, clothes lines, camping chairs, and other camping equipment. The people stole our reserved tag off the post and pretended they had reserved it. We told the park ranger and she said they would make the people move, but we didn't want to anger them and have them come back for revenge on us during the night....did I mention the campers had a black skull and crossbones flag on their tent that said "Death Camp. Take No Prisoners"and they wore black leather with chains?? Yea....we decided the leave them alone. So, we found another site and it was fine, but the whole experience put a slight crimp in my impression of camping.

After setting up our tents, we all went to the river and spent a great afternoon on Sam's dad's large boat. It was great for relaxing and cruising along the river. We jumped off the front and swam to cool off. I never thought I would actually swim in the Ohio River (it's not exactly known for it's cleanliness and the fact that catfish the size of cars live on the bottom doesn't make it that enticing either) but with no shade or air conditioning in 95 degree heat, swimming was the only thing that kept me cool.

We boated all afternoon and into the evening, so it was dark when we got back to the campsite. Poor planning on our part because we had to finish setting up tents in the dark and attempt to fix hotdogs on our camping grill with only flashlights. Unfortunately, it was too hot to sit around the campfire and enjoy the best part of camping, so everyone pretty much turned in for the night. Sleeping in a tent outside is...different. Every shadow on the tent creeped me out and with the heat it was impossible to get comfortable. Around 5am it cooled off enough to sleep but then the sun came up and night was over! So, not much sleeping. We fixed pancakes on the grill and left for home around 9am.