29 January 2012

Breakfast Quest

I love breakfast food. This is a massive departure from me growing up who ate a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich for breakfast 5 days a week for at least 15 years of my life and would only touch scrambled eggs on Girl Scout camp outs if there was copious amounts of ketchup available. But in the last 5 or so years I've found a new found appreciate for breakfast. I'm not very good at cooking it and I can't do anything much more complicated then french toast, pancakes or scrambled eggs therefor I do most of my breakfast eating out. I've been on the quest for the best place for breakfast in the Tacoma area and I thought I'd start updating the blog with some of the places I've eaten over the last couple of months. I'll lump them all together in this post and then give them their own from here on out. That way if you're ever stationed at Joint Base Lewis McChord or visiting the Tacoma area you'll know where to go! I'm going to rate them on a 1 to 5 egg scale with 5 eggs being the best.

The Bair Bistro- This place gets points for ambiance that's for sure. The walls are lined with relics and photos from the early 1900's and they can still serve you a soda from an original 1908 soda fountain. I ordered their Challah French Toast. It got points for great syrup and good bread but the French Toast itself was pretty meh. It was Orange scented which I didn't like because well I hate oranges but I thought it'd be more subtle then it was. It was like eating french toast cooked in orange juice.  2 out of 5 eggs

Galloping Gerties- This place wouldn't get points for ambiance if it tried. Located right outside the Madigan Gate for JBLM in Tillacum which is a town only accessible by the highway and mostly home to pawn shops, hair places, fast food and uniform sewing shops. However the food makes up for the lack of ambiance and location. I've eaten here a couple of times got the french toast once and the pancakes another time. I also got their hashbrowns during one of these adventures. It was pretty good. Nothing special, mostly greasy diner food but the service was good and the food good. 3.5 out of 5 eggs

Marcia's Silver Spoon Cafe- This is by far my favorite place I've tried. Its TINY and you have to be prepared to wait but the portions are massive and the food is delish. I've gone twice, once got the french toast and another time the breakfast sandwich. The first time I went I ordered a hot chocolate. The woman asked me if I wanted whipped creme. Because it was a Sunday and I tend to only eat 1 big meal on Sundays I figured SURE. She, no kidding, put a 6-8 inch pile of whipped creme on it and then a pile of rainbow sprinkles.  It was a little embarrassing. About halfway through breakfast the couple next to me at the counter also order hot chocolate with whipped creme and I waited for her to bring it out to them. The look on their faces was awesome! 5 out of 5 eggs

Pine Cone Cafe- This was part of my quest for the best french toast. I really enjoy their french toast in that they covered it in cinnamon sugar so it had a great crunch but they basically just used white bread so to pay 7 bucks for something where I'm not even sure the loaf costs that much was a little annoying. This place gets pretty crowded for the after church crowd and I can't say that it was that great or that memorable over all. I went with a friend who got the eggs Benedict and found it pretty good. I used to love a good eggs benny but now I can't eat the holandaise due to my broken stomach. 2 out of 5 eggs

Old Milwaukee Cafe- This is the most recent place I've tried. I went out during Tacoma's BIG SNOW (lets ignore that there were like 4 inches of snow on the ground) because I wanted a rich hearty breakfast (and one of my roommates was cooking for his girlfriend and foiled my plans of cooking breakfast for myself). This place is SMALL. I think there are only 10 tables total. I waited about 30 mins for a table, I'm not sure why I waited other than I didn't really feel like finding somewhere else and dealing with Tacoma drivers. Once I got seated it took at least another hour to get my food. The food was okay, the scone with raspberry jam was GREAT (I don't even generally like raspberry) but I don't know that I'd be back due to the wait. I did like that the waitress (one of the owners) seemed to know everyone and really enjoy the regulars. But as a newcomer I wasn't super impressed by the food or the wait. 2 out of 5 eggs

Okay that wraps up my current quest for breakfast. Stay tuned for the next update!

15 January 2012

Home Sweet Home

Where I spend 40 hours a week!
Considering I am going to be moving into a new place (of my very own!) in about a month I figure I should let you see where I'm living right now. I am currently renting a room in one of Tacoma's um...more transitional neighborhoods. I honestly haven't really had any trouble living here and my block is really quiet if you ignore the  yappy dogs in the alley. I did make the mistake at looking at the sex offender registry the other day and figure out that there are like 6 in my immediate area. But I guess that happens a lot of places! Anyway, I have 3 roommates,all male--D a nurse at a local hospital, H a podiatrist and S an accountant. They're pretty cool dudes and for the most part I don't really see them. I think I've only see D 5 or 6 times in the 2 months I've lived here. I see H (and whomever his flavor of the week is) and S the most. I have my own bedroom and bathroom which is great (and the only way I could probably live with guys or really people). I thought it might be a disaster (I'm not great with living with people...only child syndrome) but honestly I have no major complaints other than H's current flavor of the week is very noisy (and young) so when they're in the living room you can hear her in the tristate area. The house is old and creeky so when people move around in the hallway you can hear them but that's unavoidable. But without further ado, here are some photos of my living space (bedroom and bathroom). Oh and the bonus one of my cube above.

View of the bathroom, the shower is kind of a pain and leaks on the floor but its fancy

other view of the bathroom. That wood used to be a window. It has fallen through at least twice

Yeah sorry didn't make the bed. View of the room from  bathroom

Another view of the room from the bathroom. Those speakers don't
work they make good tables

View 1 of the closet

View 2 of the closet

The love seat that mostly has become a dumping ground of my random stuff

30 December 2011

12 in 2012

So I'm well aware that I totally owe you a ton of updates on my first month living in WA, starting my new job and the new digs but I am a slacker and I'm thinking about 2012 already. I'll rewind this weekend but I have seen on a few other blogs (this post inspired mostly by The Young Retiree) people making "resolutions" of sorts or really goals to complete 12 tasks in 2012 and I want to articulate those before I forget and stop being ambitious. When I think back to my resolutions for last years which I stated them as being "In general I would like 2011 to be the year of doing and of starting my real life and career" with specific goals to:

1. Graduate with latin honors (ie magna, summa, cum laude etc) Completed...in theory because turns out graduate programs don't do this, but by ungraduate standards I would have graduated summa
2. Secure Employment in Military Behavioral Health or Hospital Social Work I secured employment in community mental health but I still consider this a win.
3. Start and Finish Couch to 5k- Not a win, I started but I didn't finish
4. Grow and cut hair to donate- Again not a win, I grew my hair but then realize I got kind of attached to it and I don't want to cut it right now! Selfish I know!

For my 12 in 2012 I'd like to accomplish:

1. Learn to ski. One of the mountains around here offers a $120 3 weekend learn to ski package including rentals. I think this is totally in my budget and something I'd like to at least try! I'd like to be able to go skiing with The Happy Wanderer once they PCS closer to the correct coast.

2. Start and Finish Couch to 5k- Finishing being the emphasis here. This leads into goal 3

3. Run weekend training runs with Run to Remember  they currently do 3 mile training runs so once I get my couch to 5k skills I will feel confident to start going to the weekend runs and possible do some fundraising runs with them.

4. Begin my chemical dependency certification. I found a program that I can complete in 3 quarters and it would open up a lot of doors for me professionally and to get back into the military community doing work. I could do it all in 2012 but I think that I will probably not start until summer quarter at the earliest.

5. Read more. The past few years I've managed to read 29 books despite grad school. I'd like to get closer to 40 or 50 books

6. Be more crafty. This is alternatively titled spend more time on Pinterest. I have made this and these. My next project will be these once I figure out how to do the tiles without the fancy program.

7. Move into my own apartment and make it not look like a college apartment. Have a cohesive decorating theme, spend time and money making it mine.

8. Eat more veggies. I cut veggies out of my diet basically entirely when I first got sick due to their fiber content. I've pretty much only added back in olives, pickles/cucumbers, tomatoes, and potatoes (these only kinda count as a veggie). I need to work on getting in more fruits and veggies as my health tolerates.

9. Explore the Puget Sound. I'd like do kayaking, squid jigging, fishes etc. on the Puget sound. This area has so much to offer in terms of outdoor activities and I'd like to spend more time on the water where I know I feel very zen.

10. Explore the Pacific Northwest. Other than Seattle/Tacoma, Portland and Vancouver I haven't seen much of this area. I would love to go to Astoria (where Goonies was filmed), Eugene (home of the Oregon Ducks!), I'd even like to go Idaho or Montana and explore.

11. Travel some outside of visiting my family. I'd like to save enough vacation time (and cash) to take a good trip at least once this year. Possible the trip to the Slothpital if with The Happy Wanderer if her husband is deployed for Christmas 2012.

12. Be satisfied with what I have. Strive for more but don't long for things I can't control. This one is much more metaphysical but I think that I really have a lot going for me and I have to continue to remember that and not think about everything I long for rather then enjoy what I have.

29 November 2011

New Job!

After nearly 7 months of unemployment, more than 30 interviews and, to be fair, 11 job offers (I fully admit I was totally picky). I have accepted a position as a case manager/therapist at a community mental health agency about 10 miles from my new place in Washington. The county I live in privitized their social service agencies a few years ago so I'll be dealing with the client base that would normally visit a community mental health agency but instead working for a non profit funded by a private for profit company (follow that). Which means I'll have a stable job with good benefits but I'll be working with chronic and persistently mentally ill adults as well as hopefully running PTSD, Military and Trauma groups for the organization. The salary is fair for the area, it has great benefits and will provide me with all the hours towards supervision that I need to get my full license.  Thank you for all your support, well wishes and good woo woo over the last few months. I'm very excited to start my social work career! By, January 2015 I will be hopefully a fully licensed social worker and on my way to commissioning with the US Army. 

This is all simultaneously very exciting and VERY expensive. I have to get my car ready to ship (to the tune of more than 1k) and stuff the trunk with 100 pounds of my crap, I'm flying southwest back on Saturday so I get 2 suitcases for free plus my carry-ons but I still need to pack those, I just shipped 30 dollars worth of text books and cookbooks ($30 more dollars).  I also have to figure out my estimated taxes because I worked as a contractor and I only have until Jan 15 to pay that, I cashed in some saving's bonds and I have to figure out the taxes on them as well. I have made really detailed to do lists for the rest of the week which will have mostly kept me from FREAKING OUT. I'm going to transpose them here because it makes me feel better. There are still a few things pending (a couple of lunches etc) but this is the jist of the rest of my week. 

-pack my car
-figuring out my taxes
-call about getting insurance switched over
-remove my ez-pass from car and clean it
-pack trunk
-deal with my eyebrow situation

-Change Address with
    -post office
    -Credit Card companies
-Pack Suitcases
-Work on Budget with Dad

-check in for flight (don't want to be in last boarding group on Southwest)
-Teach my parents how to skype (hold me)
-Gastro Appointment
-Get greek food for dinner
-Watch Oregon and find out if I'm going home for christmas or to LA for new years. 

Wish me luck getting through this week!

25 November 2011

30 Days of Thankful: Part 4

November 19
For the internet. This day I both found an excellent place for breakfast thanks to yelp and also was able to watch a live football game despite my hosts not having cable  or even a TV at all. Oh an for helping me find the amazing lactose and soy free ice cream place near my house. SO GOOD.

November 20
For the TV show the West Wing. I don't think that there is anything on currently or in the past that is as good as it or really anything that will ever be. Its smart, witty, thought provoking and epically relevant. I am now finding things happening and being like THIS IS JUST LIKE AN EPISODE OF WEST WING. 

November 21
For airplanes. After 6 weeks away I traveled home. 2 Airplanes, 30 children under 3, one dude in handcuffs, one middle aged man who couldn't stop kicking my seat, and about 8 hours of travel I made it home. Showered (in a clean bathroom) ate some home cooking and went to bed in my own bed. Glorious

November 22
For Acupuncture. I can honestly say that acupuncture saved my life when I was so sick. I went in for a tune up today and I forgot how good it makes me feel. I need to make an effort to find a good practitioner out in Washington.
November 23
For Job offers. I got an offer from my top choice out in Washington today. Pending the official offer and information about benefits I won't be unemployed forever it seems! This came at a perfect time as I found out that the Army job I have interviewed for a million years ago (back in July) has started notifying applicants of acceptance and I didn't get a call. I am still hopeful that I'll get a call before I accept the WA job. But I'm going to have income again! Just in time to start paying rent. 

November 24
Last year on Thanskgiving morning I went to visit a recently wounded Marine (a triple amputee) for work. He had arrived a day or two before from Afghanistan and was pretty out of it when I visited. I visited a handful of times over the next few weeks (we purchased a new wedding band for the couple as his left arm along with his ring had been left behind in Afghanistan). This year I am most thankful that that Marine is walking and fishing and thriving and succeeding beyond wildest expectations. 

November 25
For family. I love Thanksgiving with my Aunt and my Great Uncle. We don't tend to do the Black Friday thing but my Aunt and Mom and I go to a craft fair every year up in Frederick. It gets smaller and smaller and more and more expensive every year but its tradition. This year my Uncle and my Dad went and bought him an iPad. I know that I don't have tons and tons more years with my great uncle (hes 85 and the only surviving of his 4 siblings) so I'm very grateful to have this time with him. 

Recent Travels Part 4: Portland

This series of post is about 5 weeks over due. I really had hoped to live blog my travels out to the west coast but hanging out with friends and family and the time differences made that untenable. And then life started up again but no more excuses. You'll get one of these a day this week and if you click on the headings to each city it will take you to my Picasa albums for the rest of the photos from that local.

My trip to Portland was the last stop in my voyage westward. I spent 3 nights and 2 days staying with a former coworker from DC out of our Portland field office. I also had a great dinner with a friend from college I hadn't seen in years. I loved Portland and the vibe of the city although the cold and damp weather certainly was an adjustment. I found the public transportation while it took me everywhere I needed to go a bit unwieldy since I had trouble orientating myself with all the rivers. 

I could have spent DAYS in Powell's books. As it was I spent more than 4 hours there. 

I found the Food Cart pods. Including one that sold  Vegan Grilled Cheese. It was AMAZING. 

Visited the Oregon Historical society. Not sure it was worth my admission but it was interesting all the same. 

Found occupy portland.

Visited the Duck Store and spent WAY too much money on gear for myself and my Dad (an alum)

Visited the International Rose Test Garden and took a lot of flower pictures

Visited the Japanese Garden and spent a long as I could before I froze to death taking pictures of the gorgeous grounds. 

24 November 2011

Recent Travels Part 3: San Francisco

This series of post is about 5 weeks over due. I really had hoped to live blog my travels out to the west coast but hanging out with friends and family and the time differences made that untenable. And then life started up again but no more excuses. You'll get one of these a day this week and if you click on the headings to each city it will take you to my Picasa albums for the rest of the photos from that local. 

This section of the trip was entirely dedicated to family. I stayed with my Dad's younger sister and husband, my Aunt Laura and Uncle Jay. However, my visit coincidentally coincided with my Dad's older Sister and husband (who travel the country in their RV) visiting for a few weeks and staying in an RV park about 500 feet from my Aunt and Uncle's home. This combined with the fact that my grandparents (Dad's Dad and stepmom) live about 30 minutes away led to A LOT of family togetherness over 4 days. But thankfully I only have to do that much of my Dad's side about once every 10 years so it was do able and we did a lot of fun things!

Enjoyed this view every morning while enjoying a hot chocolate from the shop just behind this view and steps from my Aunt and Uncles home

Enjoyed this view every night from my Aunt and Uncles home 

Visited Half Moon Bay and wandered around enjoying the small shops and quaint town. 

Found a stingray in the water. Unfortunately it was dead or as we told the young boy near by "resting"

Wandered out to the point where they host the Mavrick surfing competition each year and is the winter destination for many big wave surfers. There are underwater rock formations that cause the waves to break unpredictably and has killed 2 surfers in past years. 
Wandered the Labyrinth. That's my Aunt Laura taking a meditative stroll. 

Visited a street fair in Kerouac's Alley in downtown San Fran.  

Went to Club Fugazi for a showing of Beach Blanket Babylon, America's longest running musical review. Performers wear disproportionately large hats/wigs and gaudy costumes while performing satirical renditions of popular songs. It was pretty silly/stupid but I enjoyed it. 

My uncles relieved their aging hippy ways and serenaded us ladies in song. 

I snuggled with my Aunt's adorable 6 month old kitten Simba. 

we visited the California academy of science where I took too many pictures of animals including this adorable octopus.