Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Seabrook: A Quiet Vacation Town on the Washington Coast

When we drove into the resort beach town of Seabrook, this view of the ocean was the first thing that I saw and I was hooked. It had been a while since I had seen the Pacific Ocean and it surprised me just how different it looked from the East coast of Florida that I know so well. 

I had saved a Seattle Magazine article about the growing town of Seabrook and thought that it would be perfect for a Sunday driving trip. Dan announced that he wanted to "put his feet in the ocean" and I thought a sweet oceanfront town (within a 2 1/2 hour drive with pizza, gift shops and ice cream would be perfect. I was right, but in so many other ways too. Watch this 2 min promotional video about Seabrook and you'll see why the setting spoke to me.
The planned community has Nantucket style cottages  - gray shingles, crisp front porches, window boxes. It looks like a town of dollhouses and it really felt like a lovely escape. The longer we stayed, the more I was considering booking a week's vacation. It was clean, new and on a bluff right over the water.
Our first stop was for a late lunch - a Margherita Pizza cooked in a brick oven at Frontager Pizza Co. The restaurant had great style, big windows and a delicious food.
It was a cool and cloudy day and you can't go wrong with hot, gooey pizza - yum!
After lunch, we walked down to the beach with chairs-in-a-bag and braved the wind in order to get a real moment on the beach. It was great to see two families out with kites that were dancing over the broad hard sand beach. By positioning the wind at our backs, we were comfortable. I can only imagine a full beach full of vacationers when the sun is out and the temperature is near 80.
As I considered Seabrook for a future getaway, I noticed the homes along the bluff. That is where I would want to book a getaway, where I could see the sun set over the ocean every night from our accommodations.
After the beach, we walked up to look in a few shops and ended up getting two large ice cream cones at Sweet Life Candy store. Dan chose a pretzel cone for his scoop. I had never seen that as an option before and he loved it. It's not often that you can improve ice cream, but they did!
We really enjoyed our visit to Seabrook. I applaud the creators for designing a picturesque getaway that celebrates the kind of summer fun I want: a casual family setting, bike rides, porch sitting and water, water, water.

#seabrook #summerinwashington #vacationspots #finddelight 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Juice Can Bouquet: Sunny Side Up

I love everything about this picture! 

#1 I am known for my juice can bouquets and I can finally make some because I am back in Seattle and my nasturtiums are in full bloom!

#2 The blue sky! The smoke from the fires in Canada has dissipated and we are having beautiful summer days.

#3 Orange! I have been saving this papaya juice can that I bought at Uwajimaya last year in the hopes of making vibrant bouquets. As I say, this was all part of the Master Plan. This master plan just took a little longer to execute.

I hope that you are having a beautiful summer too!

#orangeisthenewhappy #nasturtium #smallbouquets #finddelight

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Spartan Send-off Picnic: Michigan State Alums Encourage Incoming Freshman

(photo credit: Dennis Fredell)

Last weekend, I was happy to attend a picnic hosted by the Seattle Spartans - the Michigan State University alumnae group in greater Seattle. This group is managed on Facebook and primarily organizes MSU football and basketball watching events at sports bars throughout the year.

This picnic was attended by Jim Cotter (Director of the Office of Admissions) and Dan Seidman (Manager of West Coast Recruitment) and was designed to allow Michigan State alumnae the chance to encourage and support students about to fly across the country to begin their freshman year. 

It was great to hear from Jim & Dan about the number of incoming freshman from the West Coast and I pledged to help share my story and recruit students if they need me. I loved my time at Michigan State and I agree with the woman I overheard at the picnic. She was talking to a shy student and said, "You're going to love it!"

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Blackberry Jam: Sky Harvest Blackberries Have to be Seen to be Believed

You had to see it to believe it - giant blackberries from Nate Youngquist of Sky Harvest Produce (Skagit Valley) purchased at the Ballard Farmer's Market. Stop a minute and look at how big this berry is in my hand! Exceptional. I bought 4 pints and turned them into a small batch of beautiful jam with the help of my FreshTech Automatic Home Canning System
I love this machine and regret that, due to moving and packing, I have only been able to use it twice (ever!) before this. That is a travesty. I made some funny declaration yesterday that I would use it weekly from now on and after this successful batch, I just might!
The recipe makes 6 half pint jars (only 5 fit in the canner at once, so the remainder is in the refrigerator being devoured fresh). I cut fabric circles to cover the jars and secured them with a simple rubber band. I chose unique fabrics to highlight the deep purple jam. Red & white check fabric felt too cutesy for this beautiful blend.

#jammaking #ballcanning #smallbatch #blackberryseason #finddelight

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Edible Flowers in Ice Cubes

Finding Delight in everyday life means being on the lookout for pretty moments that you can appreciate...and share. The beauty in a stack of fresh lemons. The cute sticker your friend put on the envelope before she mailed it. Honestly, little things make me happy.

For example, these darling ice cubes I made with edible flowers. I found a package of fresh violet and pansy blossoms for $5 at a vegetable stand at the corner of Pike St and Pike Place (Frank's Quality Produce) in Pike Place Market.
The next time I come across a selection this grand, I hope to have time to make sugared flowers to decorate cupcakes. 

For this first attempt, I placed a flower in each compartment, and filled the ice cube tray with filtered water from my refrigerator. The floral ice cubes look beautiful, but some of the petals floated out of the ice and froze on top.

To improve the look of my ice cubes next time, I will definitely try the "boil water, then letting it cool" method (this is said to create clear ice). I will also try filling each cube only half way, placing a flower in and then freezing. Once frozen, I will fill the rest of the cube with water to truly lock the blossom in ice.

This version is still beautiful and I can't tell you how they jazzed up the lemonade when my friends came for dinner. 

#entertaining #edible flowers #finddelight

Monday, July 31, 2017

Statement Necklace: Jewel Tone Buttons

A button can do more than hold things together. I want to make everyday objects more beautiful in the eye of the beholder. This is my colorful button necklace in my online Etsy shop. As I meet new people and make friends in Washington, I am learning how to articulate my brand and condense my world into a sound byte.

When I speak at a book signing, the audience doesn't realize that I made my purse and jewelry. When I deliver a cigar box purse to a customer, they often don't know that I have published 3 books. It's fun, in a way, because I can direct my comments and suggestions to the part of my business that interests them. 

But in an effort to expand my reach and build familiarity, I am going to bounce between topics a little more in the blog and be more flexible about information in "real time." 

Have you seen my Bobbin Necklaces? Did you know that I specialize in reasonable and preppy Ribbon Watches? I know, I need to speak up more, they're super cute!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Blueberry Farm: Bybee Farms in North Bend, WA

I am so happy that we found a U-Pick Blueberry Farm! In Michigan, all of the blueberry farms are too far away to enjoy on a weeknight, but here in Washington, I found one that is just 15 minutes from our house! 

We dropped Bybee Blueberry Farm a half hour before closing time and were invited to pick berries "until the air horn blew."  An air horn is the genius way they notify guests that it's closing time and that they should come in from the field to weigh and pay.

We picked a pound of blueberries in 30 minutes and paid $2.25/lb - not bad, huh?
The Bybee Blueberry farm boasts 6 varieties of blueberries available for U-Pick. I am not certain which variety we picked but they were delicious and the bushes were loaded!
We had enough blueberries for snacking and to make one of my gorgeous blueberry gateau. Blueberry season is still in full swing and I intend to go back and pick even more! Happy Summer!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Gig Harbor: Tides Tavern was a Lucky Find

Gig Harbor is a little resort town that we barely had the chance to visit, but I already know that I want to go back. When we drove through town I saw cute gift shops, ice cream and plenty of places to sit and enjoy the water. If you look in the photo above and find the kayak, look directly above him, that's Mount Rainier!

We took a driving trip in late May with the goal of reaching Port Townsend on the northeastern tip of the Olympic peninsula. It was a beautiful day, we had a picnic in the cooler and our plan was to enjoy the ride.

We stopped in Gig Harbor to stretch our legs and find a picnic table. We noticed a large public dock called the Maritime Pier and parked so that we could walk out onto it. From the pier, we noticed this seafood restaurant called Tides Tavern.

Out of nowhere, my mom said that she thought she had read about Tides Tavern in Coastal Living magazine recently. Really? I goggled "coastal living, tides tavern" and sure enough, Tides Tavern was selected as one of the best seafood dives in all of Washington. Good job, Mom - what a memory! We decided that if the timing was right, we'd return to the restaurant that night for dinner

We found a spot in Gig Harbor for our picnic lunch and then packed up and drove to Port Gamble, then up to Port Townsend, back down through Port Ludlow and then made our way back to Gig Harbor again around 7:30. It sounds like a lot, but it was an easy drive and simply beautiful!
When we returned, we noticed that the tide had come back in! Look how pretty the restaurant looks in the evening. We had to wait about 30 minutes for a table, but enjoyed our fish & chips in a favorite local hangout.

Gig Harbor, we will be back! #summerinwashington #daytripping #finddelight

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Rose Bouquet: Apricot Candy

How do I elevate a hastily prepared meal? We eat outside! Pretty place mats and flowers elevate an everyday dinner. Plus, everything tastes better outside, don't you think?

Monday, July 17, 2017

Glimpse of a Great Blue Heron

I was quick on the draw and was able to capture a Great Blue Heron fly past our deck on Lake Michigan. Isn't it wonderful?

My mom saw him first and pointed in his direction. This handsome fellow chose the wrong section of wetlands and tried to "come home" along our section of beach. From where she was sitting, my mom saw this great blue heron fly in toward our shore and then do a quick about face when he realized that he had the wrong section of beach.

He must have his nest in the natural wetlands farther down the shore. As we both enjoy this beautiful summer weather, I will keep my eye out for this magnificent bird.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

School Supplies: Driven By Color

I had to stop and show you this beautiful selection of solid color binders available at Target. I use binders filled with clear plastic sleeves to organize my magazine recipes and decorating or garden articles. I have used the same binders for years, but I am rethinking everything now that I have seen this selection. 

When I get back to Seattle, I am going to invest in a whole new set of of these binders to make my office shelf look tidy and professional. I need 8 or more, the question is, which color/colors should I use? Stay tuned...

#target #colordriven #schoolsupplies #backtoschool

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Customize Napkins with Darling Rose Print Iron Ons

These pretty peach iron on roses stopped me in my tracks! Michaels Craft Stores carry Iron-It Out decals that are absolutely darling and exactly the style I was looking for to embellish some white cotton napkins. I love the look of a soft watercolor painting and these images were simple to iron onto my pre-washed napkins. Follow the instructions and you too can have a set of napkins in under 30 minutes.
Each set includes 3 coordinated watercolor roses for $4 (use a 40% off coupon to bring the price down to $2.40). I bought 2 sets and made myself 6 incredibly cute napkins. The fact that my Apricot Candy rose is blooming doesn't hurt either! 

#crafting #embellishthis #customizeyourhome #momentsofdelight #finddelight

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Lake Life: The Shores of Lake Michigan

When I say I'm from Michigan, is this what you picture? 

Since moving out to the Pacific Northwest, I've been astounded at how rarely people associate water with Michigan. We have the Great Lakes...we ARE the great lakes. 

Granted, my lake life was only in the summertime, but scenes like this make an impact on a girl. This is my Michigan, where Lake Michigan is so grand that it looks like the ocean.

I have been shopping in Leland and Traverse City and feel drawn to the souvenir items celebrating Michigan. I've seen tiles, stationary, mittens and more. I want them all and though I have resisted so far, I have been pointing out that my birthday is August 20th (wink).

#puremichigan #souvenirs #momentsofdelight #lakegirl

Monday, July 10, 2017

Traverse City: Mama Lu's Tacos

I love to get restaurant recommendations, however this was the first time I've gotten one from my 24 year old nephew. When did he get so old? I was looking for a fun place to have a date night dinner. William and his girlfriend raved about Mama Lu's Taco Shop in Traverse City and insisted we try the Street Corn appetizer. 

Everything that came out of the kitchen was fresh and picture-worthy. So much so that I turned our tablescape into a watercolor image (above) with one my Waterlogue phone app. Doesn't it look cool? 
The street corn was delicious! Roasted cob pieces are slathered with lime mayo and rolled in chile cotija cheese and I will certainly order it again. However, eating it was a mess! I wanted to be cute and lovely on our date and instead I was thankful that I was already married. Street Corn is not first date food.

***Update: Mama Lu's saw my post and let me know that they offer their delicious Street Corn cut off the cob! Just let your server know...

The tacos were small but mighty. I had one steak and one pork and they were really flavorful and satisfying.  Dan had 1 steak and 2 chicken and he was very happy.

Mama Lu's is a cute place that specializes in bright fresh flavors and the overall vibe was happy. The restaurant was full and everyone seemed very happy with their south-of-the-border selection. Try it!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Omena, Michigan: Sail On

We were driving along Grand Traverse Bay toward Omena and it was too beautiful to keep driving. We simply had to pull over and soak up the scenery.

I raised my camera and could only see shades from blue to white.

Inspirational photo, anyone?

#puremichigan #photography #summernights

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

United States of Jell-O

Happy 4th of July!

It's a little nerdy, but I want to show you my United States of Jell-O. I'm afraid you'll have to search eBay for another mold like this. My mom bought it years ago and it has served us well. The trick is to make the Jell-O firmer, as if you were making Jell-O Jigglers. That way, the states retain their shape and your guests can easily serve themselves "the bible belt" or the "upper Midwest."

Dan outdid himself and skillfully cut out the state of Idaho from this mold. I wouldn't have believed that the rest of the mold could stay intact afterwards, but it did! I ate Washington in honor of our move. What area would you choose first?

#jello #4thofjuly #United States #holidaycooking #familydinner

Monday, July 3, 2017

Summer Fun Bracelet: One Fish Two Fish

I couldn't resist these ceramic fish and it turns out you couldn't either.

Due to popular demand, I am selling a limited number of ceramic One Fish Two Fish bracelets this summer. Available here on my Etsy site.

It's summer and they are ridiculously cute. Ships immediately.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Thunderbirds over Traverse City, Michigan

It was the perfect summer day for a Thunderbird air show: comfortable temperatures and a city full of spectators in town for the National Cherry Festival. The area swells by 500,000 the week of the festival and happy families lined the streets across from the bay.
I loved watching the F-16 scream across the blue sky. Traverse City is a terrific venue because Grand Traverse Bay gives you the space to enjoy the approach and fly by of the jets.
What a sight!
A beautiful formation.

 #thunderbirds #airshow #landofthefree #homeofthebrave #traversecity

Friday, June 30, 2017

Fifteen Again: Makeovers in July

This photo could have been taken in 1985. I was at the cottage with my family and the girls were giving each other makeovers, just like the old days when my cousin Carol would stay with us for days. Those are some of my happiest memories.

My contribution to the beauty to this year's session were some Sonia Kashuk makeup brushes and a Clinique all-in-one makeup set. My niece Heather brought out her stash of makeup and a lot of hard won talent from watching You Tube beauty videos. It was such a fun morning and we all felt a little more beautiful.

Sometimes the prettiest pictures are a well-lit glimpse at reality. 

Don't miss my LeSportSac zipper pouch (again - a great 1980's flashback) that I rely on to keep things orderly. I am so glad that Dan and I were able to come stay for a week at the lake where time stands still.

#puremichigan #momentsofdelight #beautyvideos #timeless

Friday, June 23, 2017

Queen Anne Book Company: A Sucessful Reading and Book Signing

I want to send out a huge thank you to the Queen Anne Book Company for hosting my first book reading and signing in Seattle. I told stories from all three of my books and I'm happy to say that the audience was laughing and hooting along with me. It was a beautiful evening on their private patio and I loved every minute of it.

Currently my books are available online:

I will start work on my 4th title, Finding Delight in the Pacific Northwest, this summer. My mind is whirling with content and I can't wait to share it with you.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Seattle: How to Cook a Wolf restaurant

My friend Tracy came to visit and we had a gorgeous early dinner at How to Cook a Wolf before my book signing at the Queen Anne Book Company.
The sun was out and the temperature was in the low seventies. Our table was indoors, but on the edge of the raised window leading to the patio. Everything tastes better outside and it really felt like we took Tracy somewhere special.
We started with Toasted Sea Wolf Leaven Bread with fennel honey butter and roasted garlic and Roasted Cauliflower Salad with a Preserved Lemon vinaigrette.
We added a Yellow Beet Salad with Pomegranate Yogurt and a savory nut topping. 
This dish was Grilled Leg of Lamb with Farro and Goat Cheese...
I concentrated on this incredibly tender and sweet Seared Halibut with Pureed Onion and Grilled Lettuce. It was absolutely delicious. 
Did we have time for dessert? Yes!
House made Banana ice cream (wow!) with a Chocolate Crunch Cake
Pistachio cannoli with pieces of toffee candy

A delicious meal in a modern but relaxed setting. I ate like I was the Queen of Queen Anne. I will be back again and again.

#howtocookawolf #seattle #dininginseattle #momentsofdelight #queenanne

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Moth The Seattle Grand Slam

Last night, I attended a fascinating sold out event called The Moth Grand Slam in Seattle. The Moth hosts live story-telling events around the country and the individuals' stories are broadcast weekly on NPR. My husband was a regularly listener to The Moth when he traveled every Sunday for work. My dear friend Tracy, who is visiting from Grand Rapids, Michigan has loved the program for years and was the one who noticed that this live event coincided with her trip to Seattle. 

Since Tracy declared back in the early 90's that I should consider being a professional story-teller, it felt like it was kismet that we could attend this special competition.

10 individuals, who had each won their evening earlier in the year, were given the stage and 6 minutes to woo us with a true story. Some were about humiliation and growth, others were about losing and finding love, all were very real and it was obvious that the finalists felt great pride at making it to Seattle's The Moth Grand Slam.

Three teams of seasoned Moth listeners scored each story and in the end, Sam Blackman won with a lovely narrative about loving, leaving and after 35 years, reconsidering his religion. Congratulations, Sam.