Thursday, June 30, 2016

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Hidden Gem: John Wayne Marina on Sequim Bay

You just don't know when someone is going to offer you a chance to visit a hidden gem. I was telling a small group one evening at a cocktail party about my plans to drive to a peony farm near Sequim, WA that weekend. A gentleman, who to that point had been quiet, starting raving about a little restaurant we should visit at the John Wayne Marina. As always, I entered the recommendation into my phone for safekeeping.

A few days later, we were on the tip of the Olympic Peninsula. We had gorgeous weather and took our car on the ferry from Edmonds to Kingston. We had a picnic lunch at a park on the water before finding the peony farm

By 4 o'clock we were looking for a place to stop and admire the view while we drank from our latte-filled thermos. A nice afternoon, yes?  As we were driving, I noticed a sign pointing down the road that said John Wayne Marina. "That's where we are supposed to eat!," I told Dan. We drove down and around a few turns to this quiet marina. Look at all the shades of blue!
We sat in our 2 camping chairs out on a point of land (they had just taken down chairs from a small wedding held there that afternoon) and soaked up the sun and this view. Look closely and you'll see faint bumps on the horizon (above). Those are the San Juan Islands! I read on the marina website that the film star, John Wayne loved Sequim Bay and thought it was the perfect location for a marina. He donated the land where the marina stands in 1975.

Honestly, we didn't want to leave. We checked Google Maps and determined that it was better to ditch the return by ferry plan and give ourselves the freedom to drive back the 2 1/2 hours when we were ready. So what did we do? We got a reservation for 7 pm at "the little restaurant at the marina." Dockside Restaurant is a very small and very delicious restaurant that I highly recommend. Dan had this beautiful bouillabaisse. 
And I had a rich and bacon and mushroom-studded order of shrimp and grits.
By the time we finished dinner and were ready to drive back to Issaquah, the sailors were all tucked in for the night. We couldn't hear a sound. John Wayne was right; this is the perfect place for a marina. Night night.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Charred Tomato Salsa and A Picnic Dinner by Lake Sammamish

It was our 24th wedding anniversary on Monday and I thought it would be fun to get outside for dinner after a wonderful weekend. We both agree that there was too much fun to be had in this kind of weather to stay in the apartment and settle into the week's routine. By the end of the evening, Dan announced that "Monday is the new Sunday." ha

I have great affection for the disposable charcoal grills you can buy. The link is so that you can see the packaging and recognize them in the store. They usually cost about $5 and I think they are a really fun way to have a hot meal in a park. If you have 4 people or less, the prospect of cooking a quick dinner out in the fresh air with minimal preparation is very fun.
Dan and I love the charred tomato salsa that is made table-side a restaurant we frequent in Michigan, and lately I have been talking about trying my hand at it. A quiet evening in the park seemed the perfect time to do the prep work, so I brought along 8 roma tomatoes, a head of garlic and 2 jalapenos to grill next to our dinner. 

I want to tell you what I brought along with us so that you too can have a successful and easy dinner on the grill.

Cooler Tote: 2 cans of sparkling water, 2 applesauce, a double-Ziploc bag with thin chicken breasts marinating in a sauce.
Paper towel roll, extra gallon Ziploc bags, tongs for grill, cutting board, knife, matches, disposable grill, plastic spoons, wooden skewers 
Tomatoes, jalapenos, garlic (slice top off and roast mostly base down - allow the garlic to roast open end down for just a minute or it will dry out), marinated chicken breasts, 2 hamburger buns, marshmallows, chocolate bars, graham crackers

Random Tip:I brought a salad spinner with 4 inches of water in it from home. It was so handy to have! I used the water to wash the vegetables. I used the colander insert to keep the vegetables clean and off the picnic table and when we were through with it all, I used the remaining water to ensure that the grill was out.

We set our disposable grill onto the park's permanent grill and lit it with one match. When the flames died down and the coals were ashy, we placed our 2 chicken breasts on one side and the vegetables to grill on the other. We could see boats and water skiers on the lake. A few families picnicked nearby, but for the most part it was quiet.  

We sat in the shade and ate our chicken in the bun without a plate, as we talked and relaxed in our 2 folding camp chairs. We let the vegetables cook a long time, set them on the cutting board to cool before we loaded them into one of the extra Ziploc bags.
We barely had enough heat to melt the marshmallows for s'mores, but we managed. It was quiet and gorgeous. If you were here, wouldn't you say that "Monday is the new Sunday?"

This swimming beach portion of this park (Sunset Beach) will be closed after the 4th of July for improvements (ugh - bad timing!) but the park area will remain open. FYI the park area near Sunset Beach has new bathrooms that are clean and very nice.

Okay, are you ready for my very successful charred salsa recipe? I made it the next day, after refrigerating the charred vegetables that night.
Charred Salsa
8 charred roma tomatoes (with charred skins)
2 charred jalapenos (seeds and stem removed)
4-5 cloves of the charred garlic
1/2 yellow onion (not charred)
1/4 - 1/2 cup of fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 - 1 whole lime juice, squeezed
many shakes of dry cumin
shakes of salt

I blitzed all of these ingredients in the food processor bowl. I stopped periodically and adjusted the lime/cumin/salt - you should too.

I stored it in my favorite type of jar by Weck and it will keep in the refrigerator for a few days, though I think we may eat most of it tonight! Who's hungry?

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Wedding March: Capturing the Preparations at Golf Club at Newcastle

This scene caught my breath. I was on top of the world at the Golf Club at Newcastle when this scene appeared.

The golf club was hosting a large wedding and this horse, dressed in its finery, had arrived for the Baraat, the groom's wedding procession. I had taken a photo earlier (below) to capture the horse's elaborate headdress. We were in our car, about to leave the parking lot when this noble scene appeared in front of us. 
Seeing this procession to the wedding party, with the expansive natural backdrop, felt like the opening moments in a grand film.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Apartment Living: Baked Goods & A Roaring Fire

Let's just say we were having a good night. Dan and I are living in an apartment outside Seattle as we transition our lives to Washington. Our apartment complex is brand new and in addition to having a nice swimming pool and community garden, they have an outdoor fireplace!

I knew that we would like sitting outside around a fire in the evening - who wouldn't? But until we walked over with a thermos of decaf and some blueberry gateau, did I realize just how perfect this is for us.

It was around 7:30 in the evening, a little too cool for swimmers, so we had the whole place to ourselves. While we made be crowded inside the apartment, this kind of amenity makes our space feel much more open.

*Have you made "my" blueberry gateau? I have written about it so much that many of the internet photos of blueberry gateau are mine! It is a wonderful recipe first printed in Country Living magazine and I know you'll love it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Sorticulture: Art, Culture and Horticulture in Everett, WA

This year we spent a chilly Sunday in June at an event called Sorticulture in Everett, Washington. Sorticulture was explained to me as being an outdoor event that is sort of Art, sort of Cultural and sort of Horticultural. 
The longer I live, the more I realize that I am not drawn to garden art per se and that the colors I respond to in the garden definitely come from the flowers themselves. If you love garden art, signs and glass, this is the show for you.

One vendor stood out to me. She had an unusual take on wind chimes. Glassafras Creations BY Leslie McGinnis ( makes the silverware based wind chimes shown in the first picture. They were delicate and very pretty.
While live music wafted across the park, the happy crowd wandered past loads of vendors selling every imaginable type of garden art, garden markers and actual plants. It is really a lovely show and I recommend it. 
Lavender Hills Farm had a tent filled with beautiful lavender items made from the lavender they grow in Sequim, Washington. Their farm is not open to the public; they find that coming to shows in the area is the best way to reach their lavender-loving customers, so check their website to see their show schedule. They were selling lavender cookies, antique hankies-turned-pillows filled with lavender buds and beautiful cards with lavender field inspired artwork. As you can see above, they also sell lavender buds by the bag for your pleasure.

I can live here now. I've found a source for large healthy David Austin English Rose buses. The Antique Rose Company (McElhose Family) has a farm on Springhetti Road in Snohomish, Washington. Look at the masterpiece above that they brought to this show. If I had dirt, she would be mine.
This is a view of the rose glory the Antique Rose Farm brought to Sorticulture. Thank you; thank you. Learning about your farm made my day.
This open air art and garden show is a wonderful way to spend part of your weekend. The organizers have taken great pains to make everyone feel welcome and comfortable. There are food trucks and plenty of picnic benches to sit on. I notice a young women taking a photo of this flower arrangement (in a coffee can!). These bouquets were on every other picnic table and really added a "you've come to a garden party" feel to the show. When I started talking to the woman taking the picture, she said. "I think my grandma made these arrangements. They look just like her." That statement got me.

Would someone know you by the flowers you'd arranged?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Seattle Skyline: A Priceless View for Free

This has to be one of the best views of Seattle. When I first arrived, my friend Kathy drove me all the way over to Alki Beach, just so that I could see this view. There is a large boat launch/park area that offer plenty of parking and benches nearby to help you relax and enjoy the view. 

We took a drive over last weekend and it was the perfect day for a photograph. You can see the waterfront's equivalent of "planes, trains and automobiles" - kayaks, tug boats and cruise ships all appear in the same frame.
We also saw this King County Water Taxi that travels back and forth from downtown Seattle to Alki Beach. Wouldn't that be a fun way to get out on the water? I want to do it. Passengers can ride one-way for $5.25. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Peony Farm: A Delightful Trip to Sequim

I don't know what's on your bucket list, but you need to add "Visit a Peony Farm in full bloom." 
This magnificent peony is named Lavon. I can't get over the shape and texture of this variety - the bloom is almost completely round. I would love to be able to make flower arrangements with these happy blooms. 
This peony farm is called Peony Farm Gardens (website and facebook: and it is located on the Olympic Peninsula near the town of Sequim (pronounced Skwim). I feel like I have found a hidden treasure.
We visited on June 4 this year and every plant was in bloom. I have never seen anything like it! Peonies are best when planted in the fall, so this garden is a showcase to help gardeners choose which varieties they want to grow. You can order now and they will charge and ship in the fall. How can we be expected to decide?!
Though I do know that I picked the variety called "Seashell" over and over, so that pinky/coral bloom (above) is a must. I also loved Coral Charm, Felix Supreme and Gay Paris.
The garden offers some cut flowers for sale, but honestly the choices were only the classic solids (a Sarah Bernhardt-like rose pink and another in deep magenta) which would not be the kind of bouquet I'd want. 

If the owner would offer to cut a few stems based on the color the customer wanted, I think they would sell a lot more bouquets. But...maybe that is not want they want to do. Maybe selling cut flowers would deplete their showy gardens and we wouldn't want that! I want their business to prosper so that we can do something as wonderful as plan a trip to a peony farm.
Sequim, Washington is a 2 1/2 hour drive from the east side of Seattle and arriving during peony season has made it our best road trip yet.  

Can you imagine walking these fields? I kept thinking, "If you plant it, they will come." And we did!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Flower Arranging: When Dessert is Edible Flowers

Tah-dah! This is what happens when I find edible flowers at the farmers market! I make impromptu cupcakes, just to have somewhere to showcase them!

I was at the West Seattle farmers market on Sunday and I was drawn to a bag of fresh mixed greens that had edible flowers among them. I had never seen someone sell them that way and I was hoping to find more flowers in her stand. I was right. She had bags of edible flower blossoms, by color! 

When she started to get some out for me, she asked how many I needed and of what color? Oh, I don't know, 10? A few of each? I am probably just going to amuse myself by making cupcakes and sticking one on each. She seemed to love that, so I gave her my card so that she could look up the blog and see her flowers in action.

My mistake? I didn't get her card to be able to point people back to her stand to buy edible flowers. Honey, if you see this, message me here or at and I'll give your farm stand proper credit.

And, THANK YOU! They were delicious!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Kelli Estes: Author of The Girl Who Wrote in Silk Visits Our Book Club

I've joined a book club in Seattle. I love to read and always like a lively discussion about plots and characters. As a member of the Junior League of Seattle (I transferred from Birmingham, MI), I am eligible to join their sustainer (alumnae) book club which meets monthly.

Since I have been travelling back and forth, I have only been able to attend a few discussions so far, but I made it to their year end meeting which featured a special guest, the author of the book we just read, The Girl Who Wrote in Silk!

Isn't that neat? I've never had the chance to speak with an author about their book before and it was a marvelous discussion. Author Kelli Estes wrote a compelling novel that is part historical fiction, part romance novel. Not to heavy, not too serious, but very interesting and captivating from the start.

In one story-line, the main character copes with racism and the realities of life in the late 1880's, while the other narrative revolves around a well educated and well off girl in a modern and thriving Seattle. Kelli spoke of researching and imagining life at another time and the challenge of juxtaposing, yet interweaving the lives of two very different women. We had a great discussion and I appreciate Kelli being so generous with her time. The Girl Who Wrote In Silk is a great book club book.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Leisurely Lattes: Enjoying Marina Beach in Edmonds

After a great Memorial Day picnic in Carkeek Park near Seattle, we decided to "make it a progressive" and drive north to Edmonds and find another park to enjoy our coffee and experience another view. This park is called Marina Beach.

We opened up our 2 camping chairs, poured ourselves some lattes and enjoyed spending time at this this relaxing family beach. The kite boarder was flying in the brisk wind!
This time, the boat traffic was mostly Washington State Ferries. We have plans of taking a ferry on that very route the next weekend to visit a peony farm in Sequim. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Make an Easy Picnic: Memorial Day in Seattle's Carkeek Park

What to do; what to do. It was our first Memorial Day together in Seattle and we, like everyone, wanted to be outside enjoying the day. I had saved an article from the Seattle Times that listed the best picnic spots in Seattle and we threw a dart and picked Carkeek Park on Puget Sound. Look at the view of the Olympic Mountains!
I'm going to tell you my new favorite way to pack a picnic - directly from the grocery store! It may sound simplistic, but it has worked like a charm for us lately, so I'm going to tell you how we do it.

We load our car with an ice-packed empty cooler, a picnic basket (loaded with a picnic cloth, paper toweling, a few empty Ziploc bags, antibacterial wipes, cute napkins and a few little travel salt & peppers) and 2 camping chairs.

We take our large thermos into the grocery store, head to the Starbucks inside and order 2 Venti lattes to go. The barista usually pours the drinks right into our thermos for us. Also order 2 Venti ice waters for the car ride.

Dan loves sandwiches, so he'll chose a pre-made sandwich from the deli area. I like the $6 deli combo, so from the case I order sliced turkey, cold beet & orange salad and potato salad. I also order a small side of cold peas & peanut salad for Dan. We buy a 7-layer bean dip, a bag of tortilla chips, some cold pop and we were ready! Don't forget the disposable utensils and napkins offered at the deli counter.

In the parking lot, we move the food into our ice-filled cooler and started driving toward the park. 

On this particular day, we found an empty picnic table at Carkeek Park, spread out our wipe-able picnic cloth and settled in. The park has grills for the public to use and everything smelled so good! It really felt like the start of summer. We stayed about 2 hours, eating and watching the sailboats on Puget Sound.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

LaConner: Quilt Museum

Once my mom heard that there was a quilt museum within reach of the tulip festival, she really started looking forward to our tulip trip.

It was a gorgeous day and we were surprised at just how quickly we could drive to La Conner from the tulip fields. The La Conner Quilt and Textile Museum is located in a the 114-year-old Gaches Mansion. I love that their mission statement:

"The mission of the La Conner Quilt & Textile Museum is to present exhibitions and educational programs in all fiber arts that enrich and inspire, honor cultural traditions, and celebrate the creative spirit." - La Conner Quilt & Textile Museum

The temporary exhibit on display when we visited all sewn by Donna Hanson Eines. Needless to say, she has an eye for color and pattern. It takes a special kind of person to spend this many hours handcrafting an heirloom.
There were two other quilts that spoke to me as we wandered from floor to floor. The first was a small piece made entirely from the silk ribbons that were wrapped around boxes of cigars in the late 1800's. Someone thought the colors and lettering looked beautiful together and sewed the ribbons into a quilt, of sorts. An early example of upcycling, wouldn't you say?
And this wonderful example of a crazy quilt (below). It was made (prior to her marriage and move out West) by Annie Pickens and her friends in Little Ferry, NJ in 1885. I bet they found hours of delight talking and sewing together. Would have really liked participating in a sewing bee, knowing that for a certain period of time every week I'd be with my friends and neighbors working on a craft together.
The Gaches Mansion was finished in 1891 and has a staircase that I want to show you. 
Each flight of stairs is separated by a wall. The servants used the stairwell on the left. If you look closely, you'll notice that the staircase for the family has smaller, closer steps to accommodate a grateful gait. The servant steps are father apart and are made for hustling up and down in a hurry.

We really enjoyed our time in the La Conner Quilt and Textile Museum. They have a wonderful gift shop (look for the Rebecca Barker Quiltscapes greeting cards - they are beautiful!) and even sell a few old quilts and pieces of lace and piecework. Then walk across the street and admire the Butterfly Garden.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Drinks in the Garden with St Germain

When I found my latest treasure in an antique store (that is porbably not an antique at all), I had never heard of a liquor called St-Germain. I have since learned that it is delicious elixor made of elder flowers. I responded to this tall glass carafe (designed to mix drinks in following the markings on the side) because of my first trip to Paris with Dan.

In 1996, my dad pointed out an advertisement he saw in the newspaper for a Valentine's Day promotion. If you could turn on a dime, Delta was offering round trip airplane tickets to Paris for $199 each, as long as they were booked within the next 2 weeks. We were going to Paris!

I clicked around Delta's website and booked a room at the hotel, The Abbatial St. Germain on the left bank. We had a wonderful time, despite the cold of February and I said "Abbatial St.Germain" far too many times in the coming weeks just for fun.

So when I saw a beautiful glass carafe marked St. Germain, I was sold. It was $12 and would make a gorgeous and unusual vase. Yep, I saw it and imagined an arrangement like this, but that's just me.

What's your favorite unusual vase?

Friday, June 10, 2016

Bridal Shower Luncheon

Was this a magazine shoot for Modern Bride? No, this was the glorious table set by my Aunt Carol. My cousin, Chris is getting married and I was so very happy to be in Michigan and able to attend the bridal shower. The table looked so pretty I had to take a picture.

For me, this is the epitome of a bridal luncheon. Hosted in a home, with flowers on each table, a delicious chicken salad, fresh fruit, homemade scones and punch. Magnifique!

The ladies at my table had so much fun reminiscing about their own weddings, hearing about the bride's plans and looking forward to this summer wedding.  
Sometimes you need to dedicate an afternoon to being a girl and enjoying the rituals of matrimony. We admired the beautiful gift wrap, oohed and ahhed over the presents and joked about how much fun it would be to register again. 

A happy day celebrating the happy couple. I loved it. 

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Floral Glory: Unusual Bouquets You Can Buy

This time of year, I could easily flood my blog with flowers. The Pacific Northwest is bountiful and I see beautiful arrangements every day. 

I am trying to spotlight the truly outstanding floral glory tm I come across. 
This first bouquet is shades of blue delphinium with white peonies and while calla lilies. Swoon.
My mom always compares the flower Sweet William to calico fabric. She likes to plant compact Sweet William plants in her garden in close rows and columns to make it look like she "sewed" fabric together into a quilt (see below). I had never seen a bouquet of long stem Sweet William for sale and it was beautiful.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Are We Near Phinney Ridge? A La Mode Pie

Seattle is huge! Neighborhood after neighborhood, with hills and parks and lakes at every turn. I have never been good with directions and I thank heaven every day for Google Maps on my iPhone. 

When Dan and I are out driving around town, I am known for shouting out, "Are we near Phinney Ridge?" at odd times throughout our day. The reason? The best pie I have ever had. Seattle roads twist and turn and though distinctive, I haven't quite pinned down in my mind WHERE the neighborhood Phinney Ridge is. So whenever we seem remotely close, I ask. Because I need pie. Specifically,
Bourbon Butterscotch at A La Mode Pies

I am happy to report that one day a few weeks ago, he said "Yes, we are!" and we had pie for no reason in the middle of a Sunday. It was wonderful.