Friday, February 17, 2017

The Genius of Burpee: Advent Calendar Promotion

Every once in a while I come across something that deserves an award in promotions & marketing. This year the award goes to the Burpee Seed Company.

They created an advent calendar for the 2017 holiday season and mailed it to garden writers and journalists. The calendar features the Burpee Seed House (which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places) and behind each of the 25 windows of the advent calendar is a tiny packet of seeds. Each package of seeds is a sample of a new Burpee variety.

You can applaud now. Isn't that the cutest idea ever?  It is clever, interesting, unique and builds anticipation. It actually transcends marketing and would be a fantastic item to sell in gift shops and garden centers. I mean it! I can think of a lot of people that would love to get this whimsical gift.

I have to tell you that I have not opened all of my windows yet. My move was scheduled just after Christmas and I was nervous that I would lose the seed packets in the chaos. My dormant treasures are still safe behind the paper windows. When I am ready to sow seeds I will open them all with abandon.

My all-time-favorite-advent-calendar came with an informative booklet that includes a photograph, a description of each new seed and the plant's attributes. Genius.
I have to mention something that is so interesting about the historic Burpee Seed House on the calendar. The booklet explains that the seed house was designed and built in the late 1800's to let in as much natural light as possible in late summer/early fall. It wasn't a safe environment for candles so the employees worked by the natural light from the windows to wash, grade, sort and catalog the seeds. Isn't that wonderful? 

I love everything about this advent calendar promotion:
  • It is beautifully designed and therefore fun to display
  • It builds anticipation for growing season in the darkest time of the year
  • It is informative and tells you everything you need to know about the product
  • It blends the history of the company while including the latest products they offer
Bravo, Burpee! I can't wait to try out some of your latest and greatest seeds. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Top 100 Romantic Restaurants in USA: Montalcino Ristorante in Issaquah, WA

I knew I loved this place! I am happy to share that local gem, Montalcino Ristorante was named to Open Table's 2017 Top 100 most romantic restaurants in the United States

Do you use Open Table to make reservations and research dining options? I have relied on this company for years and love using their app to secure a table when the occasion arises.

After the monumental task of moving across the country, we have lived in our new home for just one month. When I thought about plans for Valentine's Day, I knew that we needed to go out for a lovely meal and toast our sucess.

The best meal I have had in years was at Montalcino Ristorante in Issaquah, so I used Open Table to made a reservation for the week of Valentine's Day.

We both ordered halibut in a herb-infused cream sauce. It was topped with a seared prawn and scallop was served with homemade risotto and roasted vegetables. Swoon. It was perfect. The sauce was delicious - flavored with a touch of lemon, a few capers and dose of Italian magic that makes something taste rich and complex.  We ate every bite of our generous meal and still had room to share a tiramisu. Eyelashes flutter.

The candles, the acoustic singer (who doesn't want to hear Volare sung in Italian?), the touch of dessert wine provided at the end of the meal - it all felt authentic and wonderful. 

Good job, Open Table, you are on point. I too highly recommend Montalcino Ristorante for a romantic dinner just 20 min East of Seattle. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Glass Blowing: Make A Piece of Art

This is my new favorite souvenir for Seattle. A blown glass ornament that I made (under close observation) at the glass blowing studio, Art By Fire in Issaquah. 

From now on, I am going to suggest this as an activity for my out-of-town guests. It's really fun. It takes less than 30 minutes. And everyone leaves with a beautiful souvenir (after leaving it at the studio overnight to cool).

I found out about Art By Fire when I bought their "Glass Blowing Session for 4" during a silent auction at the Compassion House Pie Auction, remember
I brought three friends with me and we all really enjoyed it. First you take the prepared iron rod and heat the glass in the kiln by turning it constantly. The consistency of hot glass is similar to honey - you have to turn it or it will flow right off the rod!
I dipped my base glass into tiny glass pebbles (my base was green and I dipped into red and white) and then returned it to the kiln to melt the smaller pieces into the main ornament. After that, I blew into the pipe and turned it to make a round ornament shape.
This photo (above) shows the turning and cooling process. I clamped those tongs a little to fast (I thought it would be harder and I gave it too much gusto) and we almost lost the ornament, but the skilled glass blower assigned to me saved the day.

I just loved making this ornament and would recommend the experience to anyone (over 12). I've heard that people are happiest when they spend money on an experience. This must be one of those instances, for I love this piece of blown glass art and the memories I have from making it. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day: Cookie Decorating

Happy Valentine's Day! This day holds a special day in my heart as it was the day in school that we celebrated my August birthday. I was always in charge of the class treats and I loved it.

This past Sunday, I attended a cookie decorating experience that I had signed up for on a whim. I am very new to my area and I thought that an hour of cookie decorating could help me to meet some people who live nearby. 

The brainchild behind "come use our frosting and sprinkles to make some sweet treats for your family" is Katie from Steve's Doughnuts in Snoqualmie. She had everything ready and we could make 6 masterpieces for $5. These are my edible works of art. 

It was fun, unexpected and delightful. I met 3 nice women in the area and I the cookies were delish. Thanks, Katie.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Northwest Flower and Garden Show: Save the Date Feb 22 thru 26

Mark this on your calendar: Northwest Flower & Garden Show in Seattle, Feb 22-26. I attended last year and it was a whirl of delight. 

I also found a new tribe. In my life in Michigan, very few of my peers had gardens or practiced flower arranging. I had a huge rose garden, a cutting garden, herb pots, container gardens, you name it. I loved it every day, but I didn't have many people to talk to about it, let alone get advice.

When I attended the Northwest Flower and Garden Show Press Preview and Twitter "Tweet Up" last year, I was overwhelmed with the kindness and community that exists between garden writers. 

I entered with a long history of blogging about things that make people happy: color, sugar and flowers are my favorite topics. I make day bags that feature a Delight magazine cover. It is my imaginary magazine that I design using my photographs and article titles to create something that I would want to read. I call them Delight Totes and I carried one that featured roses to the Northwest Flower & Garden Show last year.  
My Delight Tote was a great conversation starter and it lead me to connect with some wonderful garden writers. They included me in discussions, introduced me to other writers, invited me to sit in on a Garden Writers of America meeting (loved it!) and encouraged me to jump into this world with both feet. Most of the people that I met were longtime friends with the other attendees, as a result of this country's vibrant garden industry. 

The Northwest Flower and Garden Show serves as a writing reunion of sorts, bringing like minded people together to talk about their favorite things: plants, flowers, vegetables and Mother Nature herself. 

Most of this tribe are garden writers for magazines, newspapers and their own blogs; Many had expanded their work into writing books and giving lectures on horticulture (many were speaking at this show, of course!); All of them went out of their way to make me feel welcome. 

What is interesting is that we had so very much in common (I also blog, speak to large groups, have written books and love gardening), but I am also out of my depth the minute someone refers to the Latin name of a plant. 

I think it was my Delight tote covered in flowers, that reminded everyone that we were indeed kindred spirits. I can't wait to attend the show this year and see what surprises and conversations are in store for me. Last year I was "just visiting" as I built the framework of a new life out West. Now I'm here for good and I'm ready!

#NWFGS #Seattle #Garden

Monday, February 6, 2017

Heart shaped Waffles

My friend Angie got my 12 Days of Valentine's Day back on track when she texted me a picture from the new Crate and Barrel catalog. An entire page dedicated to Valentine's Day and the focus was a new heart-shaped waffle maker

Dan and I were given a heart-shaped waffle maker for an engagement present in 1992 and it finally stopped worked just a few years ago. I've missed it; Angie knew it and suddenly had an urgent errand to run.

I tried it out last week and the results were delicious. Good eye, Angie!

Friday, February 3, 2017

12 Days of Valentine's Day starts Feb 3rd

When's the last time you knew you were going to have fun for 12 days straight?  
I know, we don't often look at things that way, and that is precisely the beauty of celebrating the "12 Days of Valentine's Day".  It's a time when you do little things to show love for family, friends and while you're at it, yourself. Wear pink one day, make a cake, put out red place mats - everything counts when you are celebrating the fact that you love a lot of people. 

There is no set schedule; Nor is there a "number" relationship, meaning you don't have to sneak 10 Hershey kisses into a loved one's pocket just because it is Day 10 (but what a great idea!).  Nope, you just do what feels right (and fits into your schedule) on any particular day leading up to Valentine's Day.  When someone compliments your pink scarf, just smile and say that its in honor of the 12 Days of Valentine's Day.  If your neighbor questions your sudden gift of 6 muffins, cite your inspiration, The 12 Days of Valentine's Day.  Have fun with it.

Remember, this is a gift of the heart, so any gesture, no matter how small, will be appreciated.  If you type valentines into the search box at the top/right of my Moments Of Delight blog, you'll see lots of Valentine's posts from prior years. Have fun!

*This is my beautiful heart-shaped shell covered box. I have it on display this month in my living room. A small treasure with a big message.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Far Flung: Finding Beekman 1802 on the Other Side

What luck! While my mom, aunt and I were spending the day in Snohomish, WA, we happened into a cute shop called Lost & Found

It was lucky because the store had a display of my friends, Josh & Brent's brand Beekman 1802. I took the photo of their mansion that is used on their Honey & Oats Goat Milk scrub bar packaging and it was fun to be able to show my aunt the product in person. It's a little thing, but I was feeling proud.
Have you tried the Beekman 1802 soaps yet? They smell terrific and create lather x10.

So there I was thinking that I'm starting a new life "on the other side of the world" and then I see this display. It's a small world after all.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Pure Pyrex in Snohomish, WA

My Aunt Carol made the big trip out West to see my mom and we had a wonderful week showing off our new turf. Knowing that she and my mom loved antiquing, I hoped for a nice day when we could drive up to Snohomish, WA for a day of treasure hunting.

Country Living magazine published an article calling Snohomish the "antiques capital" of the Northwest and having visited the town twice, I knew that we would have fun looking in the boutiques full of up-cycled items, as well as the tried and true antiques they both collect.

Our most successful moments were at the Star Center Antique Mall and Remember When Antique Mall. We spent hours looking everything over and considering things like how much room my aunt had in her suitcase and trying to remember which pieces of vintage Pyrex I really owned. I stood looking at this massive display for quite a while before I realized that I probably had a photo on my phone of my aqua Pyrex. Remember this day? That photo helped me make my decision. I wanted to buy one piece of Pyrex to remember this day paling around with my mom and aunt.
I bought this small turquoise bowl in Butterprint at the Remember When Antique Mall. It's perfect.
When I got home, I took a picture of my collection in the new cupboard. Now I can refer to this picture on my phone (in the favorites album) whenever I am in doubt. You can see that the new bowl fits perfectly right in the center of the lower shelf.

Throughout the day, my mom kept saying, "Stop calling it vintage; we both got these same pieces for our weddings." Ha!  

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Pie Auction to Benefit Compassion House in Issaquah

Dan and I were invited to join our friends at a charity pie auction and dinner to benefit Compassion House in Issaquah, WA. I quote my friend who wrote this description: "Compassion House provides transitional housing to homeless families in the Issaquah area. Their focus is on single mothers with two or more children. In addition to low-cost housing, they provide each resident family with the support required to re-build their life, overcome past troubles and create effective life habits." 
It was a great evening and it felt nice to support a good cause and meet people who lived in our new neck of the woods. I mixed and mingled and pretended I knew about the stores, cross roads or local celebrities people were referring too. There is a steep learning curve when you move across the country, no doubt about it. That's okay. When you admit to being new, I find people go out of their way to make suggestions and fill me in. 

Dan and I had fun considering all of the items at the silent auction table and ended up with the high bid on a "Glass Blowing Experience for 4." A local glass blowing studio in downtown Issaquah, Art by Fire, donated the class to support this charity. 
I was impressed with this pie - the spun sugar crown is a triumph. 

Seattle is known for being a high density area for creativity and glass art. The city and surrounding area boast glass blowing studios, art glass stores and the famous Dale Chihuly museum. I am linking you to this interesting article from Seattle magazine about the rise of glass art in Seattle. I have been hoping to find a way to try glass blowing and was tickled to have this chance.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Packing Cube: Peace of Mind

Last July I blogged about my favorite travel item of all time, the Lewis N. Clark Pressure Reducing Ear Plugs. They work continually to reduce the pressure in my ears as the plane's altitude changes. I won't fly without them.

After coming across my blog post online, the company reached out to me and asked if I would like to try some of their other products. I selected a few that looked great and I will tell you about my experience using them.

The funny thing is that I have had an incredibly stressful year and I didn't use the products as I expect to, but I loved them just the same. I thought I was on-the-go a lot before, but my old schedule doesn't hold a candle to this last year. 

From April to December 2016, I flew to southeastern Michigan to sell 2 houses (my house and my mom's), pack-donate-store-ship the contents of 2 houses and make decisions on the new house we were building in Seattle. During those same months, my mom needed surgery twice and I found myself with stress fractures in my hips from the constant moving. 

By the last week in September, I was living in a Marriott for 3 days with my husband and my mother as we closed on our houses and waited for the car transport service to pick up our cars. The hotel rooms were brimming with clothes, dry cleaner bags and precious items we wanted to fly with us.  

I had cuttings of my beloved roses wrapped in wet newspaper lined up in mailing boxes on the hotel dresser. I had notes, paperwork, keys and stuff. By the time we were finished, there were 11 suitcases and 3 carry on. (yes, we did just send a truck out West and no, I don't know how this much stuff still remained!).

The night before we left, my mom came to me in the hotel room with a stack of her favorite sweaters. She hadn't packed them back at the house because she didn't want them to get crushed. 

I pulled out the magic Electrolight Expandable Packing Cube and handed it to her. It is a rectangle of whisper light fabric, rimmed with zippers that expand to allow the cube to accommodate even more. This travel cube is part mesh for breath-ability and smooth so there is no risk of snagging. My mom slide her sweaters into my neon yellow packing solution, zipped it shut and said, "that's perfect!" and handed it back to me. I found a place for it in the last bag and we were packed.

Do I love the idea of having a separate clean expandable pouch to pack my clothes in when I fly to Houston or take a road trip to Vancouver? Yes! Am I even happier when my mom can relax and have her concerns taken care of? Absolutely. 

Thank you, Lewis N. Clark, you did it again. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Happy New Year: Unpacking

Happy New Year! This is my life right now. We are finally able to move into our new house on January 6th. We are unpacking our entire life and starting anew on the east side of Seattle, Washington. 

I'm hapy to report that only 6 dishes were broken in the move, and it was entirely my fault. I didn't recognize the box they were in and didn't turn them over to the movers to wrap. They traveled thousands of miles, with only a little foam sleeve as protection.  I have a date with some Super Glue and I hope to fit at least one back into the shape of a plate. I think I could prop a repaired plate in a stand and enjoy it on display that way.

Anyway, the house is a wreck, but it is OUR wreck and we are very happy.   

Monday, January 2, 2017

A Rare Treat: Dinner Party on New Year's Day

Is this New Year's at Seattle's hottest new restaurant? No, ladies and gentleman, this is a small dinner party that was hosted by my friend Kathy. Isn't her table gorgeous!? When everyone picked up their fork, I reached for my camera. This moment of delight needed to be captured.

We have been welcomed with open arms by our friend, Kathy. Her roots are in Michigan and an when old friend of hers told her look after me when I was in Seattle, she took it seriously. She and her sister, Paula and good friend, Mary have been there for me ever since, even coming to the hospital to sit with me during my mom's surgery. To cap off the holiday season, they invited Dan, my mom and me for a quiet dinner on New Year's Day.

Look at dynamite tablescape Kathy arranged for dinner. Mirrored trees, red votives and scattered gems gave the table a modern holiday feel. Dinner was the perfect prime rib served with mushroom orzo and carrot souffle. I have never felt so spoiled. 
That is until she served dessert. We indulged in a perfect scoop of vanilla ice cream covered in white chocolate chards in a pool of raspberry sauce. Yum and yum. 

I would never expect someone to go all out entertaining like this, but you know what? I love it. I love the formality. I love the sparkle of the wine glasses and the real cloth napkins. I love housewares and I love entertaining and when someone goes out of their way to make a night special, I appreciate it!

We laughed about our adventures in moving, told stories of life in Michigan and planned for fun times in the future. In fact, Kathy has called dibs on helping me unpack the many boxes marked "crafts/fabric/ANA/jewelry/duct tape" and organize my new home studio into a proper maker space. I don't know if she understands what she's in for, but I know we will have fun no matter what.

Thank you, Kathy. This peaceful meal was a wonderful way to start 2017.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

My Sorority Luncheon: Heather Christo and a Charming Party Favor

I attended my sorority alumnae holiday luncheon this year and wanted to share with you a glimpse at the guest speaker and the darling touch that was placed at each place setting. 

The event speaker was allergen-free chef, cookbook author and fellow Theta, Heather ChristoShe gave an engaging and thought provoking speech about how she has taken her training as a chef and her mama bear instincts to create beautiful and delicious allergen free meals for her family. Her children are thriving without allergens and the world has taken notice. Her blog, Heather Christos is gorgeous and her followers rave about the recipes

Heather was thrilled to share her beautiful new cookbook, Pure Delicious at our luncheon and sign copies for attendees. What a terrific gift for someone who follows or is interested in an allergen-free diet. Heather's recipes are free from gluten, dairy, egg, soy, tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish and cane sugar. She is a delightful woman and I was so happy to chat with her over lunch.

The cute touch that was at each place setting was Heather Christo's gluten free gingerbread cookie recipe and a star-shaped cookie cutter. My sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, has Twin Stars as our symbol and I thought it was a darling way to remind us of our connection. Plus it's December and we're all in the cookie-baking mood. It was wonderful to see how easy it is to put an allergen-free recipe into practice.

I encourage you to click around on Heather Christo's website. I guarantee you will be impressed and tempted to alter your diet. Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Beautyberry Makes A Show outside a Show

Remember when I decided that of the 5 types of winter berries on display at the Washington Park Arboretum, that the purple Beautyberry was my favorite? 

Well just days after seeing the cuttings and explanations at the arboretum, I saw a magnificent example of a Beautyberry in real horticultural life! 

It is December in Seattle and there is a magnificent Beautyberry tree in full "berry" outside the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall. I noticed it as I was entering the Urban Craft Uprising holiday gift show. What luck. And I answered my own question - yes, the berries are noticeable enough to make a show.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Seattle: Urban Craft Uprising Holiday Gift Show

The Urban Craft Uprising holiday craft show at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall is a creative tease. And I mean that in the best possible way. As a maker myself, I want to jump in each booth and quiz the artists. "How did you do that? Oh, that was a wonderful use of color! What made you try that technique?" I get lost in the design and production of it all and stop shopping all together. Not great for business, but at least I can give you a glimpse into the heart of the show.

The vendors are original and the quality of their products is very high. The show offers "small batch" goods made by individuals who have creativity, skills and access to unusual equipment to create their wares.

What does that mean?

Well at a typical holiday gift show you might find items that are handmade (sewn, crocheted, knit) which means artist + medium; at this event the items are more likely to be made by an artist + medium + a tool requiring skill. 

A loom, a leather tool, a screen print. Laser cut wood and paper items were also popular items for sale.

Where a typical holiday gift show would have a vendor selling cookies, at the Urban Craft Uprising you are more likely to see someone selling French-style macaroons. They require skill to create and the colors and flavors will make you swoon.

There is also an upbeat but cartoon-ish quality to a lot of the items for sale. I saw irreverent phrases on screen printed t-shirts.  Designers used wacky fabrics to add levity to mundane items like eyeglass or pencil cases. 
I took this photo at the Belly of a Whale booth to showcase their work. They had backpacks, lunch totes and a whole host of darling items sewn for everyday use. I highlight them because their sewing (seams, welting, zippers etc) was impeccable.

The Urban Craft Uprising is a large holiday gift show full of terrific products. Put the first weekend in December on your calendar and take note that they also hold a Summer show the last weekend in June! Viva la Makers!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Potluck Potatoes to Wow a Crowd

Are you looking for a potluck dish to feed a crowd during football Bowl Game season? Stripe a pan of mashed potatoes and see what happens. I recently joined a local neighborhood book club and we were invited to their annual holiday potluck dinner. I brought this dish to pass and it was a great addition to the buffet.

This is my semi-homemade version of a striped mashed potato dish I saw in a magazine years ago. I rely on Ore-Ida's Steam n Mash Cut Russet Potatoes to do the lion's share of the work for me. I buy 3 bags and follow the directions (cook in microwave, mash with fork, stir in milk and butter). I spread the mashed potatoes into a large 13 x 9 glass baking dish.

Cook a lot of bacon, snip it into pieces with scissors and sprinkle it in stripes across the mashed potatoes. Add stripes of shredded sharp cheddar cheese and stripes of sliced green onion. Put the dish back into the oven just long enough to let the cheese melt. 

This dish is delicious, easy, beautiful and on my must-make list for crowds. 

Go Team!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Sugarfina: My Color and Sugar Spirit Animal

Did I stand a chance against this wall of candy? Nope.

In a city where no one really knows me, I often give in and summarize my life as being driven by "color and sugar." Knowing that, you would expect that I would stop and marvel at this boutique candy wall inside the flagship Nordstrom in Seattle, WA.

The company is called Sugarfina and they sell clear plastic boxes of color and sugar known as candy. The idea is that you build your own bento box with the colors and flavors you love. This is the kind of gift I would have given my bridesmaids. Fun, memorable and delicious.

I chose a box of Sassy Strawberries, which are flat strawberry replicas dusted in sugar. I told myself that they would be beautiful as a garnish on a strawberry cheesecake (you know, topping each puff of whipped cream) but I had eaten the entire box of 10 (?) by morning. You'll notice that I can't provide a picture of them. My tastebuds were too demanding. The candies were very chewy (like) and extremely cute (love) and came in a reusable plastic box for $7.50.
I also bought a try-me pack of gummy Apricot Hearts for $2.50. Why is nothing ever flavored apricot? I thought these were delicious and enjoyed chain-chewing these bubble-bath lookalikes until they were gone.
I was offered a sample of their "Martini Olive Almonds" and if I had a party planned, they would be my first unnecessary purchase. Roasted California almonds are dipped in white chocolate and then painted to look like olives. Someone hand me a crystal dish - these are fantastic. 

I am all for this new way of mixing and matching beautiful candy. Keep your eye out for Sugarfina and tell them Anne sent you.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Jetta Froelich: A Laser Visonary

I would like to call your attention to Danish designer, Jetta Froelich. I am an instant fan and have become a collector already. Some of her Christmas pieces are available at Homegoods this year and if you are lucky enough to find one, snap it up.

Isn't it interesting that this 3-D Christmas tree is made of whisper light tin? It seems to actually catch the light and glow when I have a light on in the apartment. It was designed to hold votive candles, but it doesn't need it! I made room for it on the shelf in our little apartment and she is stealing the show. 

It is hard to believe that something 18 inches tall could be magnificent, but it is. Bravo, Jetta and Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Gifts and Greens Galore at Washington Park Arboretum

Have you heard about the Washington Park Arboretum's Gifts and Greens Galore? I'm realizing that I'm going to have to live in Seattle a while, see each season's activities and note what I want to attend next year. I keep stumbling upon things a little late.

This really neat one-day event at the Washington Park Arboretum gift shop sells pre-bundled greens from the arboretum and members' gardens. Pricing is $5, $10 or $15 per bundle and is marked with colored zip ties. There wasn't much left when I arrived just before the sale closed, but I could get an idea of what they offered and I love it. I can see myself fashioning a wreath from these fresh greens or even a circle centerpiece to ring a large candle.
The arboretum has a terrific gift shop year-round. This event showcased a selection of nature-inspired jewelry, laser cut wood candle holders, felted ornaments, bird seed balls and packets as well the item that got my attention: honey!
This is honey collected from hives inside the Washington Park Arboretum! Isn't that interesting? 

The countless blooms and blossoms of the season distilled into a natural wonder. I had to have a jar. I am so pleased that they use hexagonal jars in a nod to the honeycomb shape and I was interested to notice that the honey came in a variety of shades. No doubt due to when and where it was collected. I chose one that was darker, as most of my honey is pale amber in color.

Make note on your calendar that the Washington Park Arboretum's Gift and Greens Galore event will be early December next year - check their website next fall. I'll see you there! 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Winter Berries at Washington Park Arboretum

3 = Boyce Thompson Xanthocarpa
4 = Ilex Rubra
5 = Sorbus Forrestii

I was driving past the Washington Park Arboretum entrance on Saturday, Dec 3rd when I saw small signs promoting "Gifts and Greens." I parked and walked into the gift shop lobby to find out what it was all about. I will tell you more about Gifts and Greens tomorrow, but I want to show you what I came upon in that very lobby. Winter Berries!
Nothing is as helpful as a real world example and a detailed description. A blogger who wants to share such things with you doesn't hurt either (wink).
Japanese Box Leaf Holly

The Washington Park Arboretum had 5 cuttings from winter berries that thrive in the Seattle area and a description about each plant. 

It was titled "Have a Berry Thanksgiving." 

I'd like to thank the staff for posting this helpful winter berry display. 
"Boyce Thompson Xanthocarpa"

I loved this purple Beautyberry the most and wondered if I planted one at my new house, if it would make a show and how quickly. I have black raspberries on my formal china and I would love to be able to snip a bit of beautyberry to add to my centerpieces. I should be planting raspberries too, for that matter. My new yard will cram jam with beautiful plants. I can't wait.
1 = Beautyberry

Monday, December 5, 2016

My First Seattle Sounders FC Soccer Game: Western Conference Champs

I am not a real soccer fan, not yet anyways. But I have certainly have the framework to build upon. I've enjoyed casually watching World Cup games and I watched quite a bit of last years Copa games, cheering on Clint Dempsey, who is a Seattle Sounder and I didn't even know it!

I will start by saying the Seattle Sounders are fantastic! Dan and I were invited at the spur of the moment to attend the Seattle Sounders vs Colorado Rapids game on Nov 22 at 7 pm at Century Link Field. A win would mean that the Sounders were Western Conference Champions.
I was reminded about spirit and attitude when I was at the supermarket the day of the game. I stopped at my local Safeway because that grocery store is known for having a spirit department for all things Seahawks & Sounders and I wanted to buy a blue/green scarf. 

I had just found out that the forecast was 100% rain and that Century Link stadium had no roof. Apparently my expression said it all because the salesgirl asked what was wrong. I told her that I just found out that the Sounders game I was invited to was going to be outside, in the rain, in 40 degree weather.

To me, it seemed crazy to sit outside in the rain on purpose. I'm all for team spirit, but I thought there must be some kind of mistake. Maybe no one would attend the game. Maybe it would "called" due to rain. I was bouncing around these ideas when the shop girl snapped me back to reality. 

She said, "I think it sounds pretty great to be invited to a big Sounders game during Thanksgiving week." 

Her tone said turn your frown upside down ya big baby, and she was right. 

I came prepared with a poncho over my winter jacket. I put Press n Seal kitchen wrap over my socks to keep my feet dry inside my shoes (it worked great and kept them warm!) and I had gloves and a hat. 

The game was exciting. The concession food was delicious (the best pulled pork sandwich on a soft bun I've ever had!) and mercifully, our seats were a few rows under the overhang so we were not directly rained upon. Look at my photo above. An entire section decked out in ponchos cheering on their team. It rains here in Seattle and it hasn't stopped them yet. 

And we won!

There are lots of songs, chants and traditions to learn. A very spirited group of fans, unlike anything I've ever seen. At one point the giant screen says "scarves up!" and everyone holds their scarves up between two raised arms. Every scarf sold is designed with a phrase knit into it. It becomes a banner that reads "Sounders" or "Come on Seattle Fight and Win." Click on this link to see a great photo of scarves up. I didn't know the songs or the chants (or frankly, most of the rules of the game) but I had a scarf and held it up!

Congratulations, Seattle Sounders on being 2016 Western Conference Champions. On December 10, I will be in the warmth of my apartment rooting for you as you play in your first ever MLS Cup! Come on Seattle, Fight and Win!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Glassybaby: A Bright Light for Charity

I have known about the beautiful blown glass votives of Glassybaby since 2010, when the company was featured in Martha Stewart Living magazine.  Seattle felt otherworldly compared to suburban Michigan and I never dreamed that I would be able to visit Glassybaby and see the craft in action. I am driven by color and a company that sells a color-based product is not one that I could forget.
Glassybaby is a glass studio with an emphasis on giving - financially to charity as well as emotionally to the receiver, with named messages like "hope" "believe" "prosper." Each color votive is named and therefore the gift of a Glassybaby votive comes with a constant message. 

Some names are appropriate (a deep orange red called Seattle Sunset), some are inspiring (an opaque votive called Faith) and some are symbolic (a deep blue called Forever). When you give a Glassybaby, the name is certainly as important as the color.  It is a sentiment that you can light and remember. 

The Glassybaby website states that "10% from the sale of every glassybaby is donated to the glassybaby white light fund to help people, animals, and the planet heal." Bravo.

Here is a YouTube video of founder Lee Rhodes when she appeared on the Martha show.
I was so very happy to here that the Junior League of Seattle, a volunteer organization that I belong to, was partnering with Glassybaby for a shopping night at the Madrona location. We were invited to have a social experience with sweet treats and conversation, while we watched the professionals blow glassybaby votives.
As members shopped, they felt great knowing that 10% of that evenings sales would be donated back to the Junior League community programs. 
It was really interesting to see the molten glass transform before our eyes. 
The color of the glass changes as it cools. 
Every craftsman needs their tools. Adjacent to the kilns on the wall is this rack of tools. I bet the go-to tools for glass blowing haven't changed in hundreds of years. This display looks like it would be at home in a step-into-the-past frontier town, doesn't it?

It was a fun night and a great way to do a little Christmas shopping and give back to the community. My first Glassybaby is called a pretty blue called Aquamarine. I am waiting until we move into our new home to light it.