American Stringband Music at Tractor Travern? Yes, please.

Last week, my classmate/friend/biochemistry lab partner, Shauna, and I were emailing back and forth about a lab report that was making us cranky when she concluded one of her emails with something like, “On a more fun note, would you want to see Pert Near Sandstone at the Tractor in Ballard on Thursday? . . . It’s a fun bluegrassy band.”  My immediate thoughts were along the lines of, “Ha, she has lost her mind- I don’t have time for that. Has she forgotten we have a biochem exam to study for? I have way too much to do. And that will cost money.” But then we submitted our lab report a full 46 hours early (which never happens), so I felt a little better about my massive to-do list and asked her about this silly bluegrassy band. She told me they are from Minneapolis (she’s from Minnesota), and then during our biochem lecture she pulled up their website and showed me this:

Of course I wanted to go. And of course I still thought this was an unreasonable idea. But I went home and looked up Tractor Tavern in Ballard (because I couldn’t remember the name of the band) and saw that it would be “American Stringband Music” and that there were two other bands playing…and immediately sent Shauna text saying I was in. The next day I told another friend/classmate, Andrea, that we were going, and she looked at me like, “Have you lost your mind? Have you forgotten how much we have to do?” And then during a really semi productive afternoon study session we had, Andrea asked what time the show was, I answered, and she responded, “Wanna pick me up?” Um, absolutely.

Suffice it to say that this was the best decision Andrea and I (and Shauna, too!) had made in awhile. We met Shauna and her boyfriend at Tractor Tavern just as the opening band finished playing, and we all debated whether we were at a shindig, a hoedown, or a hootenanny. It was decidedly a hootenanny. Also around this time Andrea declared that she should have worn flannel, and she and I repeatedly said to one another, “I’m so glad we came.”

Pert Near Sandstone came on and I was in heaven. I felt like I was at a Big Smith show/at Silver Dollar City/in Seattle all at the same time. And it was awesome. They even had a harmonica/washboard playing clogger. Amazing.

(Sorry for the terrible photos.)

The music was great, the band was fun and entertaining, and the crowd was clearly having a great time. It was so nice to be out with friends, on a week night, in Ballard, doing something non-school related.

Shauna, Andrea, Me

Shauna had seen Pert Near Sandstone before (I think? at a festival maybe…) and her boyfriend, John, was actually born and raised in Minneapolis and had seen them several times, so they were both having an especially great time. I think John even made friends with some fellow Minnesota folk. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be friends with this guy?

Shauna and boyfriend, John

Haha, reminds me of home, and I love it. Also, notice the variety of cowboy boots hanging all around as part of the decor? Super fun.

After the Pert Near set (shortening the name = basically a groupie), a bluegrass band called Polecat played.

I also loved them. Maybe more than Pert Near. Andrea was not in agreeance because they had a drummer/drum set, which is a valid point. However. Their fiddle player was phenomenal. Seriously, girl could play the fiddle. Great stage presence, too.

Phenom fiddle-playin’.

So fun. We only stayed for a short part of their set, but they are Washington local so I will most likely drag Andrea with me to see them again.

Shauna and John headed home when Andrea and I left the show, but Andrea and I decided to walk down the street to our favorite Ballard spot (as if I’ve been out in Ballard more than twice, HA), The Sexton.

Seriously, I love this place. Love the ambience. Love the decor. Love the music. They serve beer in a mason jar and also have gorgeous cocktails which are fun to watch being made. Andrea said her wine was less than stellar this time around… Minor detail? I’m sure we’ll be back.

Anyway, a great night was had by all. I was super tired the next day, which was not ideal, because I really did have to be majorly productive on the school front, but there were no regrets. I tweeted that it was the best decision I’d made in awhile, though not too high on the responsible scale. Sometimes being responsible is just overrated. Even my mom approved of my irresponsibility after I emailed her the brief recap: “Sounds like a good time. I always like to hear when you go out with some people…Good to hear you’re making friends, at least acquaintances…” Haha, thanks Mom.

And thank you, Shauna, for the invite; Andrea, for coming with; and John, for wearing overalls.

Spring Break Staycation: Part II

As promised (I know you’ve been waiting!), I will now brief you on the second half of my Spring Break. If you missed Part I, check it out.

Most of the second half of my two-week long break was spent hanging out with my roommate (housemate, whatever), Angie. She was gone for the first week (in warm, sunny Arizona–lame), but thankfully she came back a few days after my visitor left because I was really over the 24/7 hanging out with myself at that point. Although I did do a considerable amount of baking in that time, which was awesome.

It was unseasonably nice outside on her first day back, so we of course decided to take advantage of this by going to a local brewery to patio-sit. There we enjoyed a yummy, seasonal beer and caught up on each other’s lives. The patio backs up to the Sammamish River Trail, so it was packed with all sorts of people taking a refreshing break from walking/running/cycling.

Patio-sitting under blue skies

From there we decided to head to downtown Seattle and the Pike Place Market area to walk around like tourists locals. I had been there the previous weekend and it was not at all busy or crowded, but this weekend was different. Tons of people everywhere. It’s all about the weather, apparently. We did a lot of walking and browsing and tasting, and minimal buying. I also finally went inside the first ever Starbucks. Just looked around. Did not order a drink. I don’t really understand why there is always an outrageous line to get in there, but it is kinda cool, I guess.

Banjo-strummin’ outside THE Starbucks

The highlight of the day, however, was finally seeing the gum wall!

I don’t know the story behind the gum wall (I should probably look that up…), but it’s more like an alleyway that is plastered in gum. Gross, yes. But also neat. So much gum. I did not know where this place was hidden when I was in the area with my parents in September, and then I totally forgot about going to see it the week before. This time, though, mission was accomplished.

Note on the above photo: I’m basically a Delta Zeta model. Did anyone else spot the pink and green letters on the wall? I did not notice them until after I was home. Hope my DZ friends enjoy. 🙂

Angie pretend-licking. Yummy!

Cute, I know.

After the gum wall we did a little more browsing, followed by some eating, and then we walked along the water. I really cannot explain how gorgeous I find the water + mountains combo, especially when the weather is nice. I try to take pictures and fail miserably at capturing anything that comes close to the realtime splendor. One would think I’d have given up by now. Not so. And I’ll probably keep trying. And also failing.

Puget Sound + mountains view from Alaskan Way and Pike(?)-ish(?)

The rest of the week was mostly spent doing really enthralling things like watching movies, taking walks to the grocery store to get ice cream, visiting grocery stores we’d not previously been to, taking more walks, going to yoga, etc., etc., etc. Exciting life I lead, I tell you. Actually, we did go out one night, to a bar called The Little Red Hen, which was quite fun and entertaining. We went with a group of people, and unbeknownst to us it was karaoke night. There was a very interesting crowd, and a significant amount of country music was played/sung. I almost (almost!) forgot I was in Seattle.

So, all in all, good Spring Break Staycation was had. I am now back to school and already feeling slightly behind and overwhelmed, but that’s really nothing new. I obviously have plenty of time for activities such as blogging, so I think I’m doing okay. Only eight weeks ’til summer!

And I’ll leave you with some solid advice from part of a mural inside The Little Red Hen…


Easter, Seattle style.

Don’t worry, I promise I’ll catch you up on Part II of my Spring Break adventures, but for now there are more timely things to discuss, like…

Happy Easter from Seattle!

Seattle, 7 April 2012. Photo source West Seattle Blog

Seriously, this is what it looked like here yesterday. It’s been a gorgeous weekend, like near 60 degrees and sunny, and that is not to be taken for granted. I was in the city and near the water yesterday and could not believe the beauty of the landscape. Who wants to visit me now?

Back to Easter. It’s been a solid Holy Week here in Washington. I’ll spare you the extra boring details, but I do have a couple photos and a brief recap to share. I attended Holy Thursday services and the Easter Vigil (on Saturday night) at St. Brendan, where I regularly attend. Both were LONG, but also lovely and worth the length.

Priest awaiting the delivery of gifts by the 18 newly baptized

Please note: I promise these photos were not inappropriately taken. The entire Vigil was marked by camera flashes, and by the time I discreetly snapped these it was nearly midnight, so anything was acceptable. I really like this church and the presiding priest. The sanctuary is circular with the altar in the middle, so that’s kind of strange, but I’m getting used to it. There’s also a huge baptismal font just to the side of the altar, which is a nice little element that is uncharacteristic of previous churches I’ve attended.

Between Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday at St. Brendan, there was Good Friday…at the Bastyr University Chapel.

If interested, you can read about the chapel here. Basically, what there is to know is that my school used to be a seminary, which is quite evident (and awesome) inside and out. The chapel was deconsecrated by the Catholic Church, so it’s pretty much open for whatever these days, but I found out that the Church of the North American Martyrs was having all sorts of Holy Week celebrations there, so I decided to attend the Good Friday ones (also LONG).

In case anyone’s curious, the Church of the North American Martyrs does not mess around. This was traditional to an extent that I have only ever imagined. I’d say 90% of women and girls were veiled, and the celebration was said almost entirely in Latin. Neat experience and beautiful celebration.

I found it absolutely necessary to take photos because of the presence of the crucifix. I’ve been in the chapel numerous times and find it breathtaking every time; however, I’m always reminded that it’s a deconsecrated space when I see a huge, empty altar area. Following the veneration of the cross on Good Friday, the look was complete.

…And now I’m sorry for sharing way too many boring details after declaring I wouldn’t.

Blessings to you all on this Easter Sunday! Hope it’s truly reviving. 🙂

Spring Break Staycation – Part I

My two week long Spring Break came and went, and I spent the entirety of it in Seattle. This was not exactly ideal, but it did have its shining moments. My school follows a quarter system (as opposed to a semester system), so that means I had a solid two (2!) weeks of nothingness between the end of Winter Quarter and the beginning of Spring Quarter. Of course the first thing I felt inclined to do with my freedom from nutrition school was this:

(iPhone photo taken with zero intention of being published)

Peanut Butter S’mores Brownies. I adapted the recipe slightly from the one I found here. Despite the adaptations, I still cringed a tad at my use of a couple processed ingredients (nutrition student FAIL), but this was worth it. So delicious.

The most notable thing that occurred over my break, however, was this guy coming to visit:

St. Patrick’s Day photo captured by a guy proclaiming to be Ansel Adams

He was here on St. Patrick’s Day, so obviously we went to a bar to enjoy a green beer, because that is the Irish American thing to do. The above photo is in black and white because I was served a green beer that had more green than beer, which turned our teeth a nice shade of gross green. Though this may sound festive, I can assure you that green tinted teeth are attractive on no one, no matter the holiday. I refused to let either of us drink said beer and politely asked the bartender for a new one. He replaced my one nasty beer with two drinkable-by-Kristen-standards beers, so further crisis was averted.

The rest of the time we traipsed around the Seattle area doing a combination of local and tourist things. There was a lot of eating and a lot of beer sampling.

We had homemade pizza night…

We tried a lot of (mostly Pacific Northwest) beers…

We visited a brewery (or 3)…

and caught a glimpse of the Puget Sound from the balcony of the brewery.

I’m pretty sure Washington state is the brew capital of the world.

Among the other touristy things we did was a Space Needle visit. We went to the top, where we stuffed ourselves with a delicious brunch at the rotating SkyCity Restaurant, and then braved the cold/wind/rain to go out and see Seattle from above.

The weather was pretty terrible (i.e. typical Seattle) the whole time, but overall I’d say we enjoyed ourselves and made the most of it. It was definitely nice for me to have someone from home here to show around. Sometimes I feel like I live in a foreign country, so it was fun to see that feeling understood (and agreed with) by someone from the homeland.

Post-brunch at the top of the Space Needle

Spring Break Staycation – Part I: success.