Category Archives: Miscellaneous

#FriendFestNW

You! Yeah, you! I’m here! I want to share what I did for the last two weeks. This is all about my vacation to the Pacific Northwest with my college friends to explore, see Kenny’s life and live in the moment. I was SO stressed out before the trip, because I usually when I jet off to a different state, I have lots of business meetings and places to be. This was my first truly personal vacation since I lived in Europe for a semester in 2012, so this was different. Not many plans – just people flying in and meeting in Seattle, driving up to Vancouver (BC) and then down to spend the rest of the week in the Portland area. Everything else from there was up to us – places, food, times…. everything. And you know what? It was magical.

As I talked about in my last post, I’ve been through some serious life challenges just in the last few months. For a while, I wasn’t sure that I would be able to afford the trip or be with my friends continuously for 10 days without going insane-britta-mode, but everything that happened over the past several months lead me to one single conclusion: this trip was meant to happen, and I was meant to be on it. It’s the random nights and crazy stupid adventures that fill my memories from college and afterwards. So many memories I have of Timmy are from the most random impulses or inklings to go to some random place and do something somewhat random. If you live in the moment, you’re really actually living. Since Timmy’s no longer here to do it for himself, I gladly take on the burden to live life as large and as true as I can. This is me. This is who I am. This is who I want to be.

So here’s a brief rundown of my trip and the places we went, the things we saw and the beer and food we consumed. I’ll be making a book for my friends to have printed (just like the one I made for #BigMistakeBowl), and I will most definitely be Project Life-style scrapbooking the entire trip. We have a ton of fun being nerdy and making up hashtags, so our one for this trip was #FriendFestNW, and you can see what we posted all along our journey on instagram and twitter (and facebook if you’re friends with someone from the group). Oh, and I try my very best to only have one rule while traveling: don’t make any rules. :)

Day 0 (Thursday) – Let’s Go To Seattle!

Jake & me at MSP waiting for our flight

Jake & me at MSP waiting for our flight

– It all started when we flew to sea-tac and arrived at almost midnight Pacific time.
– We took Uber (a super awesome crowd-sourced towncar service) to our hotel for the night.
– Sleepy and ready for bed, we walked up to the desk at our hotel and were met with a solemn face. They had overbooked the hotel and didn’t have the room we originally reserved, but they did have one room left…. the Penthouse Suite. So we got upgraded for free to a hotel room markedly bigger than my own apartment. Man, that was the coolest thing ever. Even if it was just for a night and we’d only be there for about 11 hours, we had the Penthouse.

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click to see the video on instagram of our Penthouse Suite!

– We couldn’t just go to bed in our ginormous hotel room without seeing what was around the block, though, so we stumbled upon The Hideout where our beer tasting of the NW began. The bar was dark, covered in art and absolute perfection. The bartender was my favorite of all time – welcoming us in with cool glasses of water and always being ready to pour another beer for us but just letting us experience the ambiance of the place. I can’t wait to go back to Seattle some day just so I can explore more of that part of the city. The vibe there was incredible, and it instantly felt like home.

Day 1 (Friday) – The Gang’s All Here

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Motif hotel was amazing – they had recently switched the name from The Red Lion on Fifth (and NO ONE told us… tsk tsk!), but the revamped hotel may have been the fanciest one I’ve ever stayed in. It was fun just walking into the lobby or sitting on the porch, not to mention the awesome bar below the hotel with happy hour pretty much all day.
– Jake and I had a day to explore Pike’s Market, eat some great market food and shop in some really kitchy stores. We also got some smoked salmon (and yes, they threw it all the way across the counter like you see on tv) for a ridiculous amount of money and ate it on the bed in our hotel room while we waited for Kenny to drive up after his day of work.  We’re super classy, guys.
– We took some of the best views of Seattle by riding the Bainbridge ferry. I can’t wait to edit my pictures from that ride!
– Kenny arrived a little after 8 and we all jumped around and squealed and hugged until we were exhausted (okay, maybe I was the only one squealing). We took full advantage of happy hour drinks with Kenny and were so into talking that we almost didn’t notice when the rest of our friends showed up. Oh, but then there was a lot more jumping up and down and hugging. And beer.

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– The gang’s all here and reunited at last!

Day 2 (Saturday) – Doing Seattle Right

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– This was my first (and thank goodness, only) hangover of the trip. Catching up had been so exciting the night before that I had lost track of how potent my beers were, and 4 strong beers for me = one pretty hungover Britta the next day. But I hopped on the struggle bus and took it to see some more awesome stuff around Seattle with my friends. You better believe I was a lot better about drinking a ton of water for the rest of the trip. I think I actually might be an honorary fish now.
– More deli food and tourist attractions – the gum wall, climbing on animal sculptures, tasting more beer.
– We then went to the space needle for Groupon’s Bite of Seattle and ate many bites and took super touristy pictures in front of the Space Needle. No regrets.

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– Someway, somehow, I was able to get us a very last-minute reservation at Umi Sake House, where some of us (especially me) were introduced to the world of sake and re-introduced to what fresh-out-of-the-ocean sushi taste like. AMAZING. This restaurant was awesome.

Day 3 (Sunday) – Oh, Canada!

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– Our last day in Seattle got off to an early (and educational) start with Chihuly Garden & Glass museum (and EMP museum). I saw a few of the glass pieces from the outside the day before and knew immediately that I’d spend hours there if I had a chance.

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– For late lunch, we went back into Bite of Seattle, and I got my even t-shirt screenprinted on the spot because that’s AWESOME.
– We then trekked up to Canada and took sunroof selfies while we waited in line for two hours to cross the border.

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– We checked in to our hotel, Executive Hotel Vintage Park, and they started off strong by misreading our reservation. It went downhill from there. I’ll save you the grief and just tell you to never, ever stay at that place. It was weird.
– We were starving, so we walked a few blocks and wandered into Johnnie Fox’s Irish Snog it was on our itinerary and we didn’t even know it! Our waitress was awesome and the food was just okay, but it was our first night in a new country so we had a little adjusting to do anyways. ;)
– I couldn’t stop giggling because Canada SO different than the US but we just drove right in. The accents, the money, the metric system… I had serious culture shock, and apparently my super-mature way of handling that now is to giggle uncontrollably about everything. Thankfully, almost everyone we talked to there was incredibly nice and didn’t mind (and seemed to even enjoy) my excitement over the most mundane of things. Tim Hortons on the corner? OH MY GAAAASH! I may have caused a scene once or four times. Maybe.

Day 4 (Monday) – Tasting ALL the Beers

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– In the morning, Granville Island with Jake was on the schedule while others went to Stanley Park – there were so many awesome shops and such a great feel to the island. Of course it was touristy, but you have to find your little pockets of hometown goodness and then soak them up like a sponge. I loved it.
Tony’s Fish & Oyster Cafe for lunch was AHHMAZING. It officially made me addicted to all West Coast seafood, and their clam chowder was out of this world.
– Aquabus. It’s a rainbow-colored ferry that takes you places. Every city needs one of these, stat.
– We all met up at Granville Island Brewing, went back to the hotel to have a beer and relax on the roof and then went wandering around Yaletown with the best to-go gyro I’ve ever had.

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Yaletown Brewing – biggest sampler flights ever and Salmon chowder, which was amazing. I can’t say I’d recommend the those two things at the same time, though. Chowder + beer isn’t exactly a match made in heaven. Ha.

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Day 5  (Tuesday) – Britta Can Golf?

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– My first time at Tim Hortons – I was stupidly excited and annoyed/amused at least 100 canadian locals with my giggles of joy and “ooooh”s and “ahhhhh”s.
– Stanley Park for a drive around and to go to a Pitch & Putt golf course. Real golfers would probably be phsyically sick at my swing, but I suprised myself immensly – I had SO much fun and could hit the ball straight almost every time. It was awesome. Kenny also got his first hole-in-one ever and bought the first round of beers at lunch.

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The Fish House for lunch – the most amazing tuna sandwich ever, and poutine redeemed itself tenfold by being one of the most delicious things I’ve every tasted. I get it now.

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– Drove back into the US and were so happy to be in a country where we knew what was legal and not legal again. Ha!
– Rallied at Porky’s Public Eatery in Longview, WA for some delicious burgers and then went up the mountain to Kenny’s house. He lives on a mountain!

Day 6 (Wednesday) – Astoria & The Ocean

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– We drove into Orgeon for the first time ever – and every second of the drive was breathtaking.
– Walked around Astoria, having hole-in-the-wall BBQ (Rollin’ Thunder BBQ), taking the trolley (highly recommend this! It was the best two dollars I spent all day) and sampling as many beers as possible at Rogue Brewing.
– Got caught in a downpour for the first time in the NW and took it with grace – giggling, yelling and squealing all the way to shelter. Ha!

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– Drove down to Seaside to see the beach and dip our feet into the ocean. Everything about the beach was breathtaking.
– Dinner at Hop-N-Grape in Longview. Their Mac ‘n Cheese may have ruined me for all other mac ‘n cheeses.

Day 7 (Thursday) – Portland. Much Wow.

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– Drove down to get a lot of touristy stuff out of the way.
– Shopping in Nob hill; I picked up some Portland makeup and the boys bought a ton of clothes from a thrift store named Thrift Store.
Lela’s Bistro for lunch. Amazing pho – one of my favorite things!
– Pearl City for Powell’s Book Store and Voodoo Doughnuts. Both were even better than everyone told me they would be.

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– Drove all the way up to the Johnston Ridge Observatory. The views were unbelievable on our way up, but we ended up in a cloud and didn’t get to see St. Helens even though it was literally right in front of us. Who cares, though? We’ll just have to go back again, and times with friends are the best, even when they don’t go as planned.

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– Ate an unbelievable taco shop in Kenny’s sleepy town. Fish tacos forever, baby.

Day 8 (Friday) – Tandem Bikes are the BEST

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– Wore my exercise gear (and a helmet!) and rocked it out on a tandem bike with Jordan (the selfie king). The six of us rode aronnd the city to five different stops – Hair of the Dog Brewery, Cascade Brewing (best sours EVER), Robo Taco (the bean and rice burrito ruined me for all other burritos), Green Dragon and Belmont Station. It was a full-on terrifying, exhilarating, wonderful and amazing experience. Now I want to tandem bike everywhere.

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– We all drank so much water that we had to stop at gas stations to use the restroom twice on the hour drive home.
– Dinner at Sora Sushi. I will never tire of fresh, west coast sushi. Om nom nom forever.

Day 9 (Saturday) – Oregon Brew Fest 2014

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– Ended up booking a hotel right on the waterfront (Marriott Downtown Waterfront) just a couple blocks from the festival. It was a gut decision, and it worked out SO well.
– Amazing made-to-order sandwiches from East Side Delicatessen. That was the best sub I’ve had in years.
– We spent several hours (and tokens) at Oregon Brew Fest. The beer scene in Portland is SO mature. I thought Minnesota was unbelievable, but we’re just learning to crawl compared to these guys who are at least in their teenage years. The beer scene is pretty much the cutest guy in highschool with a really rad car.
Women Enjoying Beer is a thing. YES. I want to wear my new shirt every day forever.
– I got excited when we went back to the hotel room to change and get ready for dinner and almost knocked myself out on an ornate headboard. The back of my head still hurts, but good thing my friends are functional while drinking and had a bag of ice on my head within a minute. They kind of rock.

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The Picnic House for dinner may have been the best meal of the trip. There were so many good meals that it’s hard to choose a favorite one, but our waitress here (Emily) was so awesome that it made the amazing food even better. Plus, they give you your check in a BOOK. A real book! I love that idea forever.

Day 10 (Sunday) – Britta Makes it to Breakfast and We Fly Back to MSP

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– For the first time of the entire trip, I was the first one awake and ready to go to breakfast, so Jordan, Tom and I went on an expedition to Brunch Box, and it was a whole new kind of build-your-own-amazing-freaking-breakfast-sandwich (and burger) place. SO GOOD.

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– We packed up and headed out to see a few more parts of PDX – first, back to Powell’s to buy some more awesome books and then to NE Portland to meander and enjoy our last few hours together as a group.
– We grabbed coffee and more deliciousness at North Light, exhausted but content with our trip.

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– By the time we got to the airport, we were all thoroughly ready to head back east if only for our own beds.
– But, of course, we had to stop for a couple more beers to taste at Rogue at the airport. It would’ve just felt wrong if we didn’t. Ha!
– I made it home to my kitty and own bed and proceeded to sleep for about 14 hours.

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All in All, Everything was Amazing

Sure, we had the struggles that come with being with people for 10 days straight without much of a respite. Plans change, sometimes people haven’t had enough coffee yet and sometimes you accidentally book two nonrefundable rooms at the same time and have to beg the hotel to give you a refund for one of the rooms. It’s all of these things, though, that make each and every moment of the trip amazing and special. What started out as a simple trip to see Kenny became so very much more. It became a way to fill up my entire soul with happiness and adventure.

Thanks so much for stopping by today to go on our big adventure with me. I’ve finally made it through all of the photos from the trip and narrowed it down to the 768 best ones (haha – there were a lot to choose from!). I can’t wait to share my process for organizing big trips and scrapbooking them accordingly with you. I’m super lucky to have a group of tech-savvy friends who all took pictures and wanted to share them with the group. Thanks to Dan, Jake, Jordan and Kenny for contributing photos to this post! You guys are the best.

See you soon with more fun things. Oh, and I hope you’re free Sunday, August 6th at 2 pm Central (Chicago) time, because this is happening:

07-31-14 Garage Sale Preview

See you right here on brittaswiderski.com on Sunday! I’ll have over 100 products for sale that I’ve bought over the past few years but now need new homes. It’s time to make room for more! ;) All of the products range from like-new to well-loved condition, and there will be a picture of each item so you can see exactly what it looks like before you commit to buying the item. I’ll have a blog post up when the sale goes live, and the sale will take place on a page on my blog that will have very clear instructions on how to participate. I look forward to seeing you there!

Thanks again for stopping by today. You’re amazing.

Love,
Britta

 

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Today is a Very Special Holiday

The best holidays are ones you spend with your best friends. Well, today is one of those days.

Feast of Thrones Invite Woodburning Invitation by Britta Swiderski

(Hand-lettered and then transferred onto this wood panel with this transfer paper and then burned in with this wood burning tool.)

Many of you may know that I (along with my group of friends) am quite nerdy and have a deep love for the Game of Thrones show/ the A Song of Ice and Fire book series by George R.R. Martin. I even have a dedicated Pinterest board about the world of Westeros. Last year, we had a potluck feast before the premiere of season three of the show, and this year, we’re making it an official tradition by hosting another Feast of Thrones before the premiere of season four.

I also wanted to mention that I’m currently doing VEDA for the second year in a row (click here to watch last year’s VEDA). It stands for Vlog Every Day in April, and I’m doing it again this year to document the changing of the times and what’s going on right now. I’m filming every day, and even though some days my schedule doesn’t allow me time to post the video every day, each day will be live eventually. I promise! Check out Day One here:

And Day Two here:

This is a great day to see what’s going on with me on a daily basis or just see what I’m up to and how I’ve changed from a year ago. :)

See you again soon with more crafty things. I’ve been making time to be creative, and it’s one of my favorite coping methods for this time in my life. I can’t wait to share more with you!

Love you,
Britta

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I have no words.

So let me share some things. Pictures? I haven’t even taken that many pictures because I’m working holiday retail and 60 hours a week is making me a crazy person. Thank goodness the season will be over in three-ish weeks and then I can go back into a craft-ful hibernation.

1. I’m using this technique to make several Christmas gifts this year. You should check it out, because it’s kind of awesome. Consequently, you can buy most of these materials at Blick where I happen to have an employee discount. I think you can put those two and two together.

2. I work at Sephora now. I don’t remember if I told you that or not. But I work there. Yay! I like it a lot a lot (but I’m not committing to the word love yet because it’s still a pretty new relationship; you know how that goes), and I want to share five discoveries that make my makeup-loving face-life better. On some planet, that last sentence made sense.

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  1. Stila Stay All Day liquid liner pen [Single] [I bought it in the Holiday Essentials Kit that is sold out online but is still around in some brick-and-mortar stores] – seriously, I’ve cried excessively (overtired + hungry + dishwasher issues) with this on, and it was still perfect. I don’t even know how that’s possible.
  2. Urban Decay All-Nighter makeup setting spray – spraying my face with this makes my makeup last (with the exception of lips) for at least 12 hours without smudging, budging or fading. If you wear makeup on a regular basis for more than four hours at a time, this is worth its weight in gold. BTW, the sister product, De-Slick, receives rave reviews from my coworkers with more oily skin.
  3. Urban Decay Lip Liner in Ozone – it’s clear lip liner. It seems like it wouldn’t do much of anything, but it works. It stops feathering, it makes your lip color stick, it makes your lip color stay and did I mention it stops lip color from feathering? If you put color on your lips, this is your new best friend.
  4. Sephora Lip Cream Stains, especially this one in 04 Endless Purple – in-house brands don’t have a lot of street cred on the… street, but Sephora has a fantastic in-house brand. These lip creams are the freaking best and much less expensive than other brands at the store because there’s no distributor middleman to pay.
  5. Anastasia Perfect Brow Pencil in dark brown – you probably know that I’m a natural blonde but dye my hair dark (because I like it that way), so I have to add a little color to my brows (and shape them!) to make them look like they match my hair. This pencil is the hardest, purest thing ever, and it’s SO EASY to use. The “lead” being very hard and durable makes it easy to make quick, light strokes and go darker if necessary. I’ve also heard these pencils can last people for up to a year, so don’t let the price tag scare you.

3. IT WAS LEIA’S BIRTHDAY! On the 12th, it was our one-year anniversary of adopting our sweet little Princess Leia “Pants” Batman Swiderski, and now she’s officially two years old. She still loves wet food, and she still hates her Christmas Outfit. For you only, my dear readers:

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I just… I can’t even handle that face right now.

4. I’m working on a bajillion projects! Things are still happening… I think?

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Please note that I have been cooking, not crafting, with the crockpot. I haven’t *quite* reached that level of crafty yet. Give me three years.

5. I’m in love with PITT Artist Pens. I rather like to type Pitt Artist Pens so it doesn’t feel like I’m yelling.

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If you would like to buy them in pretty colors, you can buy them at Simon Says, Ellen Hutson or Blick. (Shopping with any of those links helps support my site, and I hope you know that I’d never link to anything or anyone I don’t absolutely loooooove or at least like a lot a lot.)

6. Thanks for being here. You are my favorite. I’m going to go pass out now. Only 52 work hours left this week! (Insert crazy eyes here.)

Love,
Britta

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Filed under DIY Home, Life and Health, Links and Shopping, Miscellaneous