Concert in the Grove

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jessies1566jessies_1691 Sometimes all you need are some tents in the grove, a little music, bare feet, good wine and people who hold up their iPhones with lighter apps blazin’.

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Our corner of the bluegrass festival

bluegrass-0Whenever I think of bluegrass, I think of the busted banjo my dad has kept in a corner of his living room my entire life. It’s a heavy old thing that I learned early on not to touch because it would start to crumble like a delicate skeleton every time I tried dusting the black leathery case. He listened to more classic rock than bluegrass, but I remember his mock-banjo-picking with his mouth, always loud, always abrasive, always kinda funny.

It wasn’t until the last couple of years that bluegrass really became a part of my life. More non-bluegrass musicians started adding the wiry twang of the banjo and mandolin to their songs. The days of my friends rocking out with electric guitars and mini amps were taken over by acoustic song and banjo sessions around campfires, where we all join in with our voices, some more timid than others.

So with the newfound love of bluegrass, we have made our local Bluegrass Festival a tradition. We take our blankets and chairs and retreat in our little shady corner between the stage and the river, and enjoy the music for an afternoon in September. This is a little of how it goes:
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Visiting Delancey | Seattle (or book nerd)

delancey_2 delancey-2delanceyIt started with blogs and then Twitter and Instagram. It was this weird look into some of the most interesting people I knew: Writers.

I was that little girl who curled up in the corner of a couch with a tattered book and dreamt of discovering enchanted homes in forests and going on adventures with well-spoken mice and running away to discover my family’s hidden past in Europe. I read and read and read. And then I’d finish the book, gasp and hold it tight to my chest, both amazed at the ending and heartbroken that my characters, my friends, left me sitting there on that brown couch. I would flip the page, hoping there would be something else, and I would find the About the Author. I was always enthralled by their photo, and loved knowing that they lived in West New Hampshire or New Mexico with their three dogs or pet slow loris. Back then, that was all 10-year-old, naturally-born stalker, me got as insight into this writer’s life. It killed me; I wanted so badly to be their friend and to have play dates with their children, who would, so obviously, be the most interesting and thoughtful children in the world.

And then came the blogs.

Not long into my venture with home Internet did I learn that my favorite authors were online, writing about their daily lives, their writing process and what they were making for lunch. “This is what they were doing an hour ago,” I remember thinking, a huge contrast into what I thought when I read their About the Author that I assumed was written at least a year before the book landed on my bookshelf. Blogs showed me what Ruth Reichl was baking that day. Twitter showed me what awkward moment Augusten Burroughs was experiencing today.

I think it was sometime during my food memoir obsession that I picked up “A Homemade Life” by Molly Wizenberg off a bookstore shelf. I read it. Loved it. Loved the stories and the prose and the way food and life were so beautifully intertwined, as it really is in every day life.

When I got to the end of “A Homemade Life” and had that all-too familiar feeling of satisfaction and sadness, I flipped to my beloved About the Author section hungrily, as if I were licking the last bit of chocolate icing off the cake platter. There — this one on the back cover — was Molly Wizenberg, her soft smile and long orange hair. Her paragraph mentioned her degrees and writing honors — and it mentioned her blog. My proud internal Internet stalker immediately devoured the posts on Orangette, the blog that lead her to writing her own memoir.

I’ve since followed Molly Wizenberg regularly on Orangette, as well as on Instagram, where I’ve watched the uprising of Delancey, the Seattle restaurant she and her husband own and operate, the birth of her adorable daughter and moments that passed in her kitchen as she wrote her second memoir, “Delancey,” about the trials and joys of opening the restaurant.

When I had the opportunity to go to Seattle this summer, it was only obvious that Delancey was No. 1 on my to-visit list. I went with my aunt and cousin in tow. They mocked me for being both excited and nervous about going to a pizza joint. As we stood across the street waiting for a table that busy evening, my aunt kept asking, “Is that the girl you know?” I would quickly respond, “I don’t know her, so if we see her, don’t say that!” Then my cousin would follow up with, “we’re so going to embarrass you.” They kept mimicking me, saying things like, “Oh, she bloggggs” or “We’re bloggairs.” They didn’t get that running into a writer or blogger or famous artist would be more of a celebrity moment than meeting someone like, um, I dunno, Steven Spielberg (random fact: I was working the commencement ceremony at CSU Long Beach the year Spielberg came back to graduate … I have pictures, but that wasn’t nearly as exciting as eating pizza at Delancey).

Molly wasn’t there that night, but her essence was there in the square printed photos of baby June on the walls, the single indoor plant, the glorious collection of cookbooks hovering over the open kitchen.

We dined outside on a Seattle night that got chilly as soon as the sun went down over the residential neighborhood where Delancey sits. We each ordered our own delicious pizzas and Moscow mules that were highlighted with the glow of candle light that kept flickering out with the breeze. We had prime people watching: A first Internet date, hipsters trying too hard, a couples’ dinner with his parents, lovers carrying out to-go boxes. It was a really great evening.

And later, Molly Wizenberg herself commented on my Instagrammed photo of Delancey: “This makes me so happy! Thanks for coming in,” she wrote.

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 10.42.39 AMMy About the Author came to life. It made me smile — and my aunt and cousin, in unison, said, “Awwww.”

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Starbucks, Est. 1971 | Seattle

When in Seattle, do as the locals do — EXCEPT, do make it a point to go to the oldest Starbucks. You won’t catch a gaggle of locals in this joint — unless they have tourists on their arms — but you will see the original Starbucks logo in its full-frontal glory. You’ll also have some great entertainment by street vendors. You’ll be wooed by a wordsy and charming barista. You’ll wait waaaay too long — unless you follow my early-bird ways and get there before the neighboring produce pushers get their pomegranates in a row. You’ll see that a peppermint mocha tastes the same as it does back home. You will love it, and you will take home an expensive mug to remind you. (Note: my biggest regret in Seattle was not buying the mug. Thankfully, though, my coworker went the following week and brought me my new favorite coffee mug with the busty mermaid. Thank you!)

Also, my cousin, a Californian who proclaims he’s purely Seattle now, informed me that this is not actually the original Starbucks as everyone claims. It is the oldest, though, as the original one in Downtown no longer exists. Who knew, huh?starbucks-1

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Emmelia in the grass

em_1 Summertime. Sunset. Green grass. Bare feet. Juicy lemons. She ran circles around me, over and over and over.em_3 em_5 em_4  em_2 em_8

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Pike Place Market | Seattle

pike-22Pike Place Market. Wowzer. Thank God we want back a second time because that’s when I found the real treasure, the three underground levels of quirky shops I had no idea were under there. There were beads and real-film photo booths and artisan shops and a Dia De Los Muertos store. Of course, I loved watching the flying fish that are tossed around by the handsome fish fellers and the gorgeous, gorgeous flowers.

Here’s a little peak into Pike Place Market.pike-3pike-41pikes-8pike-21pike-32pikes-2pike-29pike-1pikes-40pike-4pike-5pike-7pike-9pike-11pike-13pike-14pike-15pike-16pike-17pike-19pike-20pike-23pike-24pike-25pike-26pike-27pike-28pike-30pike-31pike-33pike-35 copypike-35pike-36pike-38pike-39pike-41pike-42pike-43pike-40

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Bubble Gum Alley | Seattle

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pikes-50 gum-13IMG_3938 gum-12 gum-10 gum-9  gum-7 gum-5 gum-4Words can’t really describe the ick and awe factors of Seattle’s Bubble Gum Alley. Gum is stuck in every crevice. Hardened drippings of color hang like icicles off window ledges. It is artfully pulled and pinched into words and symbols. If you stand too close, you’ll smell the merging aromas of original bubble gum and spearmint. It’s somewhat gross, but somewhat amazing. And it is definitely the thing everyone wants to see when they visit the Emerald City.

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