Monday, January 8, 2018

Call Your Friends: Plan an Afternoon at Northwest Flower and Garden Show

Check your calendar and call your friends. The Northwest Flower & Garden Show will delight attendees from February 7-11 at the Washington State Convention Center. 

To me, it seems almost silly to bill this show as one for gardeners. Its a show for people and I insist you come check it out.
The Northwest Flower and Garden Show is designed to delight every possible kind of gardener. In truth, the show covers such a wide range of interests and skill levels, I can't imagine someone that wouldn't enjoy exploring the show.

Consider these broad interests:
  • full scale examples of how to design a backyard for entertaining
  • a vendor selling every possible dahlia tuber ready to plant
  • a tasting corner dedicated to selling craft food made by local artisans
  • a seminar on how to plant succulents into a vertical art piece
  • a vendor selling in lavender products made in the Pacific Northwest
  • a lecture on how to attract bees and butterflies to your yard
  • a garden center set up to sell books, terrariums and air plants for apartment living.
Visually, you will be astonished by the scale and beauty of the 20 large display gardens. Flowering trees, giant boulders, live moss and spring bulbs are woven together to create themed vignettes all celebrating this year's theme: A Taste of Spring. This portion of the garden show is all for show. Stand and soak it in.

Take pictures and imagine incorporating some of the scale-able elements into your own backyard. The popularity of Northwest Flower and Garden Show goes far beyond these impressive display gardens. There are also living plants of all varieties for sale (succulents, fern, ivy, seeds, bulbs) in the Plant Market. I know, it's a lot.

The selection of garden and flower related products to shop for in the 350-vendor Marketplace is second to none. Need flower arranging tools, garden baskets, bonsai scissors or oilcloth aprons? They've got you covered. 

In my opinion, access to the Marketplace alone is worth the price of admission.

Looking for a concrete ideas and a chance to mull over what you've seen so far? Look at the schedule and take a seat in one of the 100 free how-to presentations.

Ready for lunch? There are great choices this year from salads and pasta, to soups, burgers and cheese platters, in addition to craft beer and regional wine.

There is more to tell, of course. Floral competitions to judge. Garden War competitions to cheer. Landscapers to hire. A garden society to join. I will be attending the show this year and delving in more deeply to be able to give you a tailored look at the show and I promise to post in a timely manner.
"Good Times, Great Food" by Nature Perfect Landscape & Design)

Enjoying the show is easy, doing justice to it is the hard part!

Show is open Wednesday, Feb 7 - 10 from 9am- 8pm, and Sunday, Feb 11 from 9 am - 6 pm. #NWFGS #gardenparty #seattle #seattletimes #seattlerefined

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Beast PDX: A Look Back at a Perfect Brunch

Chef Naomi Pomeroy was a finalist for the James Beard Award: Best Chef: Pacific Northwest in 2010, 2012 and 2013. In 2014, she was the recipient of this prestigious award.  Dan and I were lucky to snag a reservation at her restaurant Beast in June 2014, but I never had a chance to blog about it and time got away from me. To right this wrong, I am going back in time and putting the spotlight on a lovely brunch in Portland, Oregon. Welcome to Beast.
We were seated in the front window, at a farm table full of happy patrons. Dan and I hit it off with a young couple who had traveled up from California to enjoy Portland and visit Beast. They were foodies too, who had seen Naomi Pomeroy on Top Chef Masters and were excited, as we were, to have a culinary memory. One young man was a teacher and his partner loved gardens, so in addition to oohing and ahhing over each bite, we enjoyed talking about the joy and beauty of living in the Pacific Northwest. 
Brunch started as we all had hoped...with bacon. This is a strawberry clafoutis (a warm baked custard-like cake) served with vanilla bean whipped cream and maple-glazed house bacon. The cake was rich with a brownie-like chew to the edge and the bacon made me wonder why I wasn't experimenting more with maple syrup. This sticky sweet accent was a star.
Next was a plate with crispy pork belly, snap peas, romanesco, sun gold tomatoes, porcini mushrooms, summer squash, confit purple potatoes and a perfectly poached duck egg accented with a whole grain mustard hollandaise.
This dish was rich and fresh and satisfying. And substantial, I was relieved that the portions were hearty enough for Dan.
This taste of summer greens was dressed in a Sauvignon Blanc vinaigrette and was served with cheese from the Cheese Bar and a macerated prune.
The restaurant has an open kitchen, so you can watch as the magic happens.
The sweet bite at the end was a bete noire (chocolate beast) with creme Chantilly. It was dense and the flavor was rich and coffee-like. The cocoa nibs were dusted in gold lustre - an extravagant touch that I loved.

Our brunch at Beast PDX was delicious. I appreciated the time spent on preparation and presentation - it was worth every penny. 

Let me join in the chiming bells: Chef Naomi Pomeroy! 

Friday, January 5, 2018

Bald Eagles: Daytrip to Nooksack River

We had heard several first hand accounts of eagles feasting on fish in the Nooksack River and we finally had a beautiful day for a drive. Dan, my mom and I packed hats, gloves, cameras and snacks in the car and headed on a 2-hour drive north on New Years Day.

We stopped in Mt. Vernon and I was able to locate the farm-to-table restaurant that my friend, Amy and I ate at on our way to the Vintage Spring Market at the Skagit Valley Fairgrounds last year. The restaurant is called 3rd Street Cafe and it is run by the Skagit Valley Food Co-op. We had a delicious burgers (and one breakfast plate - oh the bacon!) and had a nice break from the car before we drove farther north.
For some reason the wind was bitter cold when we arrived around 3 in the afternoon. We learned that most of the eagles had passed through the area in mid-December (so inconvenient for me!) but we were able to see at least 20 eagles in different spots as we observed the area over the course of an hour.
This fellow seemed much closer in person and I think he enjoyed posing for us. There were at least 6 more eagles in the tree far above him. We were on the map at Nooksack River near Mosquito Lake Road (see link). We relied on that "Welcome Grocery Store" for snacks and other necessities. 

While we were out, we saw a boat marked Skagit River Tours in the water, so I'm including a link to their site: Skagit River Eagle Tours. Despite their name, they also take tours on the Nooksack River. I encourage you to watch the video on their site called "Virtual Eagle Tour." You can hear the birds and enjoy seeing the area exactly as I saw it. 
Magnificent Bald Eagles in their natural environment. It's fantastic! 

We left at 10:30 am and arrived back in town around 6 pm. It was a great day looking at the scenery, trying to name mountains and enjoying the s-u-n. If this is January in Washington (clear and 40 degrees), I'm in.

#baldeagles #daytrip #seattle #pacificnorthwest 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The New Me: Lewis N. Clark Aluminum Wallet

I'd like to introduce you to a product that I am wild about, the Lewis N. Clark RFID-Blocking Aluminum Wallet in orange (because it's a great color).

Occasionally a company will send me products to try out and review for my audience. My blog focuses on finding delight in everyday life. Everyone understands that if I don't enjoy the product, no one will ever hear about it. I only share what I feel could be valuable to my readers. Well...have I got a new wallet for you.

I was interested in this product for 2 reasons: 

#1 It offers RFID-blocking, which prevents criminals from scanning and copying credit card and identity information. I feel that this type of security is important in our data driven world.

#2 My cigar box purses are small and it can be a challenge to have a complete wallet fit in a small super cute bag. The dimensions of this wallet (4" x 2.5"!!) looked like a great option.

Okay, so I transferred my ID, credit cards and insurance cards into this sleek new wallet. I like that it clicks shut to close, which confirms the cards are secure. There is no room for cash or coins, but I don't like carrying cash or coins.

I moved it from my day bag to my pocket to just run into the grocery store.
Then at night, I move it to my cigar box purse (it fits!) to go out to dinner. 
The next day, I moved it from my cigar box purse to my coat pocket (my cell phone is in my other pocket) to run errands on the weekend.
And on and on...

I had everything that I needed in a wallet that fit wherever I put it. And my identity was protected from RFID scanners when I was out and about. I love the convenience of having a tiny wallet with me at all times, no matter how I choose to carry it. What I thought would be something I would use under certain circumstances has morphed into the only wallet I want to use. 
So, yea, I guess I like it. 

Happy New Me in the New Year.