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A Trip to Vancouver & Seattle

We took a trip to Seattle and Vancouver for about eight days. I had enough mileages to use from JetBlue and some gift cards from our wedding gift. We invited Daniel’s parents to join us since Seattle is only less than an hour flight from Idaho. We flew to Seattle and took a train to Vancouver, which was only $31 after AAA discount. It was about 4 hour train ride along the ocean and it was beautiful and peaceful. I was very impressed by Amtrak’s nice and clean leather seats.

Vancouver was one of the most beautiful cities we’ve ever visited. It reminded me of Sydney. The downtown felt like NYC but much much cleaner and the city is surrounded by ocean, islands, and mountains, which creates Mediterranean feel. Their public transportation was excellent. Unlike NYC or DC, it comes in smaller trains but more often. We never had to wait more than 2-5 minutes for a bus or a sky train. The boutique hotel where we stayed was on Robson Street, which is similar to SoHo or Beverly Hills. It was located in the middle of everything with so many shops and restaurants. We went to Stanley Park where you can walk along the ocean with busy city scene on your left side and beautiful ocean on your right side. Granville Island had an awesome public market with a music venue where we saw David Blair. His show was excellent and we even got to talk to him and get his autograph. Elizabeth Park, Kitsilano Beach, Commercial Drive, English Bay and Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden in China town were all worth visit and we got to eat at a lot of places that I had found on yelp. Yelp helps everything we love to do on our travel. The best thing about the city is weather. They have four seasons but it doesn’t go below 40º in winter and go above 80º in summer. How awesome is that? We would move there in a heartbeat!!

Seattle was great too. Pike place public market has the very first Starbucks. We had the best macarroni and cheese ever there. We took the underground tour, which shows people around how Seattle was built up. The city used to be way below the street level and they had huge problems with sewage back in the day. They had big fire, which motivated them to build the entire city in better ways. So the underground is before the fire took place and they show you how they build the new city. It was a little spooky but very informative and interesting tour. University district was the best in Seattle. It had many small boutique shops with tons of places to eat. We had the best Thai food and bubble tea. I found Thai Tom on yelp and it must be an authentic Thai restaurant. It was so different from what we are used to.

I’m in love with Vancouver!

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2009 American Graphic Design Award

We were just awarded the 2009 American Graphic Design Award by GDUSA for our wedding invitation and program. We submitted it for the contest a few months ago and I totally forgot about it until today. It was definitely exciting and rewarding. There were 8,000 entires in multiple categories throughout the entire country. It’s a little expensive to publish our work in their issue but I think it’s totally worth it! It’ll be published in the December 2009 issue.

Priscilla Ahn Show

A couple of Sundays ago, we went to see Priscilla Ahn’s show at the Iota Club & Cafe. We got there early and ate a catfish wrap at the bar. The food was pretty good for “bar food.”

When we walked into the venue Priscilla was standing right in front of the stage. I was so shocked to see her and I probably looked like some crazy fan with an “I can’t believe I just saw her” face. She said “hi” to me and I said “hi” back. I felt like a 15-year-old again. I was so excited to see my favorite singer and got nervous. She was talking to her band and hanging out at the bar. Her voice was so pure even when she was talking casually.

We were lucky enough to grab a seat at the bar which was still close to the stage. The venue is pretty small so wherever you are, you have pretty good view of the entire stage. Her voice was so sweet and dreamy. She had stories behind all of her lyrics. I loved all of her behind the scenes explanations, especially Boob Song Story, Wallflower, and Leave the Light On. I found her stories so real, especially when she talked about how she first decided to move to LA, how she felt so different from everyone there and how much she missed the rain. I can’t agree enough with how much I missed the rain on the east coast. It was the last night of her tour—which spanned Europe, Asia, and the US—so it was even more meaningful. She has an AMAZING voice, a big of sense of humor and a cute personality.

At the end of the show, I bought her EP and new album then waited until she came out again to get her autograph. As soon as she came out, everyone stood in line and got her autograph. I asked her if she could speak Korean and she said “not really.” It was truly one of the best shows Daniel and I have ever been to. I can’t wait for her next album.^^

25th Anniversary at SHRM

Today was one of my coworkers’ 25th anniversary at work. It’s pretty amazing. I’m not sure if I’ve seen anyone who stayed that long at one company. There are actually quite a bit of people at my work who’ve been there more than 20 years but she’s been there the longest. She wore a big crown all day today and everyone congratulated her. She said she could write a book of the history of SHRM and all the episodes over the last 25 years. I can’t help admiring her patience and dedication. I don’t know if I can ever do that.

I was compressed this week, meaning four long working days and a Friday off. I used to be able to pull off 10-11 hours at my previous job. I must be getting old. I can’t do that anymore. 9.5 hours for four straight days is pretty tough but a day off is so rewarding.

Daniel’s been working late these days to finish up a lot of projects before we go on our trip in two weeks. It’s funny how I can’t go to sleep without him now. I have no problem falling a sleep once I go to bed but I just can’t get to bed when he’s working late.

How’s your summer?

Summer is my least favorite season. I have never liked hot weather, which is why I didn’t like it in Southern California. I know, everyone loves Southern California weather, but it’s too hot all year long for me! For some reason, I can deal with humidity and cold weather, but sizzling sun always makes me dizzy and unpleasant.

Since we moved to DC, my summer has been different. When people would ask how my summer was, I used to think “what about it?” However, summer in DC is different to me. It’s full of events and we have so much fun.

We took another trip to NYC in June. I already can’t wait to go back. New York is always fun and it might be because I don’t live there and only visit for fun. Some of our friends used to live in New York and told us about their horror stories: huge rats and roaches, crazy dudes on the subway … pretty gross and nasty. But, I still love the city. When we visited this time, we passed by the dorm where I lived for a couple of months, while the tragic events of 2001 were going on. I can’t believe it’s already been eight years. I have visited New York so many times since then but I’ve never been close to where I used to live. It’s probably because I’m still scared and I still remember the horror of people running for their lives and the thoughts of death in front of my eyes. I still can’t watch TV when they show the plane crashing into the building and have nightmares once in a while. It’s something that I’ll never be able to get over.

Enough about that …

We’ve had a few friends visit us from CA and it was nice to see them again. I was pretty CA homesick a couple of months ago. I missed the very first apartment that we moved into together. I was only there for a month or so but it was our first place together and we loved it so much. I missed good friends in CA and all the happy memories. Sometimes, it’s hard to let go of the good memories and move on. It was probably because I wasn’t necessarily ready to leave everything behind. Everything happened so quickly and I didn’t even have time to think about it. When I saw them again it almost felt like I took a time machine and I was in CA again.

DC had their 5th Fringe Festival in July so Daniel and I volunteered for the first time. Most of the volunteer work was box office, but it was a very different experience for us. We loved being in the festive environment together. We both love small plays and theater performances, so volunteering gave us different perspective of what goes on behind the scenes and, best of all, we got to see some of the shows for free. We will definitely do it again next year.

We went to a Jason Mraz concert with Jennifer. Awesome concert but a little bit disappointing. It’s probably a sign of aging. I didn’t realize a bunch of teenagers would show up and they kept shouting and screaming. Can anyone watch a nice movie when a baby is crying aloud? That’s exactly how I felt. It seemed more like a Justin Timberlake concert. Daniel and Jennifer both said he was better than his CD but I disagree. I’m not into fancy performances with fancy lighting, dancing, etc. I just like to enjoy the singer’s genuine voice and being surrounded by teenagers didn’t help.

I hosted a BBQ on our rooftop for Daniel’s birthday. My mom made a lot of Galbi (Korean BBQ) and a couple of my friends made pork ribs and curry chicken. I’ve never had that much meat to BBQ. We had about 23 people and it was a good crowd on the rooftop. One of the best amenities we have is our rooftop. You can see the view of DC, MD, and VA along the Potomac River. It’s so peaceful up there and it’s a quick stress-reliever. A couple of days before Daniel’s actual birthday was Bethesda Restaurant Week, so I took him to Mon Ami Gabi. They had gazpacho with cucumber on top. OMG! The best soup ever. I wish I could make it. We also went to Mandu, one of the two Korean restaurants in DC, and surprisingly they have Happy Hour on the weekends. Their food was decent and HH deal was pretty good. We only had appetizers since we were both too full from lunch, but next time I want to try their meal.

Speaking of meat, we saw Food Inc. and we both decided to eat less meat and hopefully, someday no meat for me. I was reading Skinny Bitch at the same time so the message hit me even harder. I can go without eating any meat but it’s hard to pass nice BBQ. I’ve been trying to avoid eating meat as much as possible since my mom got sick and that movie and the book became a big turning-point for me. Daniel even became a very organic-friendly and veggie-friendly eater. He used to hate Tofu and now he loves it. Why does everything need to be big? People want everything bigger and bigger but what do you actually get? A bigger ass? I’m starting to wonder if the fruit from Costco has some chemicals in it. They have the best fruit but I’m not sure how they keep up with all the consumption without unhealthy mass production.

Tomorrow will be our last chance to be able to go to Jazz in the Sculpture Garden. We went there once last year and everyone brings a picnic and you enjoy the music in the background. I can’t believe summer’s almost over. But holidays getting closer!

June Already?

The CAKE concert at the 9:30 Club was so much fun! The venue has two floors. On the second floor, you have a good view of the stage, as well as the entire venue. They gave out free cupCAKEs (not so good) and CAKE posters , which I loved so much I had to put it on my cubicle wall.

I was off on Wednesday for my mom’s appointment with her breast cancer surgeon. It’s been two years since her initial diagnosis and the doctor was so pleased with how my mom’s been healing. She said 80% of cancer comes back within the first two years, so the two year anniversary is huge. The doctor has a “breast cancer survivor’s chair” for  women with successful treatment to sign. We were completely full of joy.^^

Fighting for cancer was one thing but the fear of having it come back has been with me for the last couple of years. I feel like I can relax a little bit now. One of the most important lesson I learned since her treatment started was that life means nothing without feelings, excitement and new experiences. Material things mean nothing to me. The typical American dream of the “big house with the white picket fence” is ridiculous to me. I guess I have always felt that way but talking with the other patients sitting next to my mom, and seeing their faces, made me realize it even more. I feel happy when I go on a picnic with my family. I feel warm inside when a bus driver recognizes me in front of our building, then stops so I don’t miss it. I get so excited walking around the city with Daniel and finding new neighborhood that we never knew existed. That’s what I want for my life. I don’t need the luxurious stuff that lacks feeling. My mom felt so horrible when I decided to move back and when our wedding got postponed. But, now, Daniel and I very grateful for her. We started a brand new life in an exciting city, all because of her. Most of all, she gave both of us a new direction and perspective for life.

Speaking of an exciting city, we went to a cocktail party at the City Vista condo in Mt. Vernon Triangle. It’s a brand new condo and they hosted a cocktail party for future homebuyers. What a great marketing idea! The food and wine was great and we took another tour of the condos. We found out there was another cocktail party at a brand new apartment in Columbia Heights. We need to keep looking out for the open houses with great food and booze.

Last weekend, we explored Cleveland Park, Adams Morgan and Rock Creek Park. This Italian store, Vace, in Cleveland Park makes come of the best pizza around and is full of imported Italian goodies. We grabbed a couple and had a picnic in Rock Creek Park with friends. Cleveland Park is beautiful residential neighborhood in the city with a definite European architectural influence. We are always amazed, when walking around and exploring, by how much DC feels like Europe. But, then again, L’Enfant did design the city with Paris as a basis.

This past Sunday, we celebrated my mom’s birthday a little bit early, it’s actually next week, by having a BBQ on our rooftop. Daniel taught me how to make his signature BBQ corn and it was pretty darn good. Then my mom helped me make a spicy Korean marinade for the chicken. It was yummy!

I unexpectedly stayed late at work last Friday night. It used to happen a lot at my previous job but I have since forgotten about that. I ended up being really late for Jennifer’s birthday dinner and missed the delicious spicy tuna rolls at Adam Express. But on Monday my boss left me a bottle of wine with a thank you note on my desk. How sweet is that?! Seriously, I can’t say enough about how much I love my boss and how much I appreciate him.

New Design Blog

I’ve officially launched a new blog geared towards my design business. It will heavily focus on design, photography and film. I’m excited to start a blog that will focus on my work and the industry I love.

Hope to see you there: danieldzn.wordpress.com.

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