Monday, November 18, 2013

Bottlehouse and Book Bindery

The title says it all. I think these two places are my favorites thus far in Seattle.

cheese, olives, and wine at Bottlehouse

Outside of the Book Bindery

On Friday Michael and I went to Bottlehouse, an urban winery in Madrona. We've been there a few times and continue to frequent the place just because of their amazing selection of wine. It's crazy, every glass I've drank there, I've never been disappointed.  They also have a cheese monger who pairs the cheese with the wine you order. This time around I wanted to buy a bottle of wine for Michael's family since we'll be away for Thanksgiving, but I didn't know what to get. Lucky for me, the staff was knowledgeable and recommended some great wines. They were so good I ended up buying two instead of just one.

For dinner Michael took me to Serious Pie in South Lake Union. I had never been there before and the last time he had gone was about four years ago. It was definitely a different experience pizza-wise. They have hand-tossed pizzas topped with pretty interesting toppings. I had a sweet fennel sausage pizza with red peppers and Michael had the soft egg, bacon, and arugula. It's funny, I ended up liking his more than mine and vice versa.

Did I mention I'm a lucky girl? Because on Saturday Michael took me out to Book Bindery which is located at the edge of the river in Queen Anne.

We were both first timers and upon entering, loved the atmosphere. It's split up into two sections, a bar and restaurant area. We were seated in the restaurant area which resembled a glass house/greenhouse that overlooked the canal. If I tried to describe it, I wouldn't be able to do the restaurant justice, so here is a link to their gallery: bookbinderygallery .

Our server recommended the 2009 Nebbiolo, which we loved. It was very light bodied, slightly floral, and opens up very nicely. There menus were really cute too since they were binded (get it? binded bindery?).

Sorry for the bad photo quality, I didn't want to put flash and annoy the other tables :P
To start we had butternut squash soup with vanilla oil and some bread. I'm usually not a fan of butternut squash soup, but this one was phenomenal.

For our starters Michael had the Salad of Pickled Hawaiian Hearts of Palm and I had the Maine Lobster Risotto.

Oven Roasted Beets, Asian Pear, Micro Herbs

Black Truffle, Parmesan Mousseline

Besides being absolutely delicious, the presentation of the food was beyond beautiful.

For our main, Michael had the Grilled Mishima Ranch "Flavor Curve" and I had the Pan Roasted Grimaud Farms Duck Breast.

Creamed Spinach, Yukon Gold Potatoes, Hen-of-the-Woods Mushrooms, Red Wine Sauce
Isn't he handsome?

Confit Leg Presse, Red Wine Poached Apple, Wheat Berries, Spicy Duck Jus
Such great food, great wine, great service, and such a great boyfriend!

And to top off our meal, we had the Valrhona Chocolate Decadence.

Feuilletine, Candied Walnuts, Banana Ice Cream
It was such a memorable night and another amazing date with my Paris Beau. I'm so thankful for another great experience.

And of course since my blog is also about writing, I thought it wise to do a little update. Though I had fallen behind last week, I hunkered down on Sunday and caught up! I am now officially at the halfway mark, and let me tell ya, it only gets harder the farther you go. So for some guidance and inspiration, I'm currently reading The Techniques on the Selling Writer. After finishing I'll post a review on it, but so far it's turning out to be such a great book and investment.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The writing blehhhh

It's been a busy, busy, week. And I am so tired. Even with coffee and two cups of tea in my system, I feel so blehhhhhh, which translates into my writing (even this post is blehhh (sorry!)). I tried to compensate my low enerygy levels with food to fuel me, but it had the opposite effect. I can feel my lunch in my stomach and its tossing and turning, and just not being normal. Now, I'm swaying in my chair (as I count the minutes until I am off of work so I can sleep, oh but I shouldn't sleep since I haven't been too good at fitting workouts in this week so internally I debate if I should push myself to do it or just knock out).

So then I surf tumblr for some inspiration and I come across this pep talk of Neil Gaiman's that he posted. It discusses the need to keep going in your draft because there's always some point you hit that you're just so exhaustied, yet the only thing you can do is keep going, word after word.

But I haven't written in the past two days so I try to get back into it for fear of falling behind and take Gaiman's advice, but I'm just so blehhh. And my writing comes out blehhh and ewwww. Then the weather today is just so blehhh, ewww, and grey.

What a day!

Now, I should get back to work.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The endeavors of a writer

Reddit: Game of Thrones-Pressures of the 6th Book

The link above will take you to a thread on reddit. Michael came across it the other day and sent it to me. I thought I'd share it with you fellow writers because it sheds light on the truth about writing books-it's goddamn hard.

The past two days I haven't been able to keep up with my word count. Work has gotten really busy for the moment, and I'm just so excited to go back home, see family, and finally be with my pets again. This is a relatively short post, but read the reddit post. It'll make your hump wednesday a little bit better.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Try Something New

Sometimes it's really easy to get into a routine with things, which isn't a problem of course. The problem only occurs when you can't break out of that routine. So this weekend my SO (significant other) and I made it a point to try new things for the weekend, which turned out great. It resulted in cool new experiences and gave me a chance to be more acquainted with Seattle.

On Friday I was able to get off an hour early from work which was great since it gave me a chance to run before the sun set.
(Something beautiful on my run)
The only bad thing was that I forgot my building key. Luckily someone exited the apartment building within fifteen minutes to let me in, because it was freezing! My SO, Michael, however, beat me home by a minute and surprised me with these!

I know, I'm a very, very, lucky gal!
That night we went to The Garage on Capitol Hill to play pool, one of Michael's favorite past times, though I totally kicked his butt so we are now tied (again).

Afterwards, we decided to try something new for dinner. Nearby we found Fogon, which served some pretty delicious and authentic Mexican food. The vibe was really cool with its neon green walls, and I especially loved the light above the entry way.

Since the night was still young we decided to go out to a bar we both haven't been to. With a quick search on yelp, I found Pie Bar. It was a very small and cozy bar that made homemade pies and even paired drinks with the pies. Michael and I split The Deserted Island Pie, which had a blend of strawberries, raspberries, and marionberries. I had the recommended Strawberrry Champagne pairing and Michael got the Water Lily.

Michael's favorite dessert is pie, and he said it was the best pie he's ever had, and I could only agree.

Though I do miss my sunny California, I have to admit that Seattle is very eclectic with so many great places to eat as well as drink. Transitioning to this point in my life and moving has not been an easy feat. If you're ever in a similar situation, I think it helps if you emerge yourself in it. Like they say, "Be where you are, not where you want to be." It's taken me awhile to realize that when the longing for home is constant.

Another thing that helps is setting goals for yourself. Working on the manuscript has kept me pretty productive over the past three weeks, and because it's set in the middle of Oregon and Washington, it gives me a reason to explore the area. For example, a scene I was writing this weekend involved the EMP museum. Since I had never been before, I decided to go to take in the scene and imagine my character being there.

Despite the fire alarm going off and the need to evacuate, we really enjoyed ourselves. Michael enjoyed the Nirvana exhibit, and I enjoyed the fantasy exhibit. Below are a few photos from it:

Upon exiting we stuck our ticket stickers on this.

Which is soooo Seattle right?

For dinner that night we headed to Ballard, another cool neighborhood that we enjoy. We went to the Walrus and the Carpenter. We had never been there before and Michael had been wanting to for sometime. The food was french inspired but had a relaxed vibe. All of the walls were white with mirrors behind the tables, and the bar held the fresh oysters in ice. Not to mention they had a wicked looking white chandelier made from the top of a tree.

And great thing we did because we had "the best oysters ever" (said Michael).

I usually don't like raw oysters, but I had to admit, they were delicious.

(Michael shucking an oyster)
(Look at that chandelier behind him!)

We also had a cool bartender named Craig who whipped up a Martini with St. Georges Gin, which has now become Michael's new favorite.

He also chose a really great French dessert wine for myself.

Earlier that day we had watched Shark Tank which featured a pitch about bread pudding. I had never tried it before and lo and behold it was on the dessert menu that night! It was absolutely delicious, though Michael told me that this was an extraordinarily different bread pudding he's ever had. It was both sweet and salty and was served with expresso and whipped cream.

I really liked the bar display there, so I couldn't help, but take a photo. While there, Michael and I met a couple sitting next to us who were from Canada. Randomly a conversation was struck and we ended up staying awhile after our meal to talk with them. 

Then we topped off with some wine at Portalis nearby (a lot of drinks were had this night :)).

On Sunday mornings I really enjoy going to the nearby coffee house. A new one, called Ada's, just opened up recently so I decided to go there and do some writing. The tables there were so cool and all different. I sat at the table with the compasses and enjoyed a nice soy latte and mushroom pot pie.

So the point of this post? Sometimes it's really cool to try new things and break routine because you just might find the best pie over, a favorite martini, experience the best oysters, learn about pop culture, and have a wicked awesome time doing it.

But of course, sometimes it's always nice to have a routine, because Sunday we went over to see Michael's family again, and as always we had the best spaghetti and meatballs ever!

It was such a great weekend, and I am so thankful that I am lucky enough to experience great things like this.

Even more so, I can't wait to be home with my family in less that two weeks! 

Friday, November 8, 2013

NaNoWriMo and my life lesson in first drafts

This November marks my first time participating in NaNoWriMo and I can't believe we're one fourth there. The requirement for it is 50,000 words in 30 days. Though I will have written 50,000 words this month, I've also made my own personal requirement for myself: 80,000 words in 56 days.

The great thing about NaNoWriMo is that it helps condition you to write daily, which is what I needed. Not the journal type of writing that I did daily, but the get-that-fiction-out writing. It's strange though, I enjoy writing but it's also a source of anxiety. Anxiety that is probably due to self-doubt. To explain, let me tell you a story:

Earlier this year I made five goals. One of them was to write a manuscript. The thing with me is I tend to write something then stop after so many pages. I just never finish big projects. In college we concentrated on poetry and short stories, so when I graduated I set out to write a novel. I didn't work, didn't bother finding a job, instead I just cranked out words. I wrote all the way up to the climax of the story in just a matter of weeks. I was almost there. Then the real world set in. I realized that other things were more important and that writing would just have to wait.

I got a job, I moved, and life immediately changed before my eyes. Sometimes I still wake up surprised at the turn of events. It took me awhile to get back into the groove of writing again. A part of me just resisted so much. Even writing in my journal, something I always made time to do, had become difficult.

Sometime in October (or possibly September) I dug up the old manuscript and printed the first 50 pages. I walked to a cafe down the street, ordered myself a pumpkin latte, and sat in one of the brown overstuffed armchairs to read it. I don't know what I expected, but it wasn't my reaction.

I hated my manuscript. Yeah it was a first draft, but it just seemed utterly repulsive to me. I could see my lack of consistency, the voice needed work, dialogue could be better, descriptions needed to be more poetic instead of plain, pacing needed fixing, and so much more. I realized that this first try was a learning experience. It was still a good story, but a story that needed work. One day I would come back to it, but it just wasn't ready... or maybe I wasn't ready.

So I tucked it away and didn't bother reading the rest of it. The first fifty pages had been enough heartache for a day.

As the days passed, I became so anxious and wondered if I would ever become a writer. I was scared to involve myself in another long project in fear of setting myself up for disappointment. So I turned to reading. Like old lovers, the flame was rekindled. I loved the stories, the words, the characters, the memorable scenes, and the array of emotions as I experienced everything alongside the characters.

And I wanted so much to be the creator of something so wondrous that would brighten up someone's day. I wanted to make someone fall in love with reading just like I did.

I started reading writing and author blogs to get inspired and got back to work with another idea (my current project).

I still get anxious about writing. So much that I will never let anyone read my work until it's fully completed for peer review. I'm not sure how many drafts it'll take, but one thing I'm sure of is that it'll never be one.

One thing I did learn about first drafts? It's functional, and that's what makes it magical. Though it may not be the best prose you can manage, the beauty of its magic lies in its existence. The story is real (word-wise anyway) and not just something flitting through your mind.

Isn't that something to be celebrated?

Today I've reached 30,000 words. In just another week I'll be halfway done and I know I'll get this one done. I've outlined the rest, and now that I've seen where the story is headed, I'm excited. I'll make my goal this year.

To all you other NaNoWriMo first-timers, stick with it!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Marriage Isn't For You

I read the article Marriage Isn't For You sometime last night. It had such a good message to it that I found myself thinking about it today. I decided to share it on my blog, because
1) I think everyone should read it,
2) it gives a refreshing perspective on love, and
3) I'm such a hopeless romantic that I'm a sucker for this kind of thing.
So, enjoy!
That is all.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Patience is a virtue

I'm trying my best to be patient, but I feel like I can't breathe. Yesterday was a bad day, but I refuse to let today be a bad one as well just because of one person. One person, who really doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things.

One of the things I miss about college? You do your own work, and you get the grade you worked for. When it came to group projects, everyone had a stake in it, because no one wants to fail when they're paying for the course, so in the end it gets done.

Take personal responsibility.

I'm merely writing this to vent and I'm sure I'll be over it by the time lunch comes around, but if you're reading this, don't be someone who takes advantage of others, because you really put a damper on that other person's day.

Monday, November 4, 2013

This 'blogging' thing...

The way to write a book is to actually write a book. A pen is useful, typing is also good. Keep putting words on the page. Anne Enright


I’ve always struggled with my blog. I mean I want to be a blogger, but I have a problem with this thing called ‘consistency’. So, I have written this post as a promise that

 1) I will be consistent at posting, and that

2) my blog will finally have some sort of direction

Because if you’ve ever read my blog before, I’m kind of all over the place – snippet here, snippet there, and some abstraction everywhere. And to be honest it’s because I really don’t have any idea what I’m doing. In fact, I never really do. But I’m going to try.

Trying is the key word here my friend, because that’s really the point of my blog. Instead of wanting, or hoping, I’m going to have to start by trying because that’s the only way anything ever gets done. I’m going to try to be a blogger, I’m going to try to enjoy life, I’m going to try and be a better person, and I’m going to try to be a writer. And if I keep trying, then I will be a blogger, I will enjoy life, I will be a better person, and I will be a writer. Of course failures are to be expected so I’ll just do better next time (or fail better as Beckett says).

P.S. I’m also trying to write a book, hence the Enright quote.