Monday, September 18, 2017

Daring Rugs: Style Right Out of the Magazines

I can only pat myself on the back when something I choose for the house ends up in the magazines. I saw this Moroccan Diamond rug online and knew that it would add a colorful/Pacific Northwest/Native American touch to our cream foyer with dark wood floors. 

In my mind, it's perfect and I would recommend it to anyone drawn to it. I felt in sync with the HGTV magazine editors for they have featured a similar diamond print rug in two price points in their Hi/Low List in the October issue.
When the rug arrived, I sprayed it with Scotch Guard fabric and upholstery protector so that I can have a leg up on stain fighting. Dan says it's mean to make people enter the house on an off white rug, but I'm not afraid. I love how this looks and I'll deal with the consequences later. And yes, this is the Pacific NorthWET, I will put down a cotton throw rug to absorb damp feet when the rainy season begins.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Finding Delight: Highlighting Unusual Vases

Not everyone chooses their favorite fruit company because of the packaging, but I do! I simply can't resist Oregon Specialty Fruit and their black cans.

Yes, their produce is lovely but look how fantastic their cans look as vases! Upcycling extraordinaire. I have slipped a small container for water inside the can to stabilize the flowers. 

I have this bouquet by my kitchen sink and it makes me very happy. This is delight!

#oregon #findingdelight #upcycling 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

QuatroStyle Kitchen Tiles: Easy Reasonable Striking Removable

This is the kitchen in my new house! We just put in the backsplash behind the burners. We have stainless steel appliances, so I love how the gray and white of the tile echos the metal finishes.

You should new tile backsplash is made of stickers. I'll let that sink in for a minute. 

Stickers. Adhesive stickers. Removable stickers. Low commitment stickers. I know! I am just thrilled.
I have been pouring over design magazines for months. I watch Chip & Joanna on Fixer Upper. I look at the binder of images I've collected over the years. I have Pinterest boards for my Pinterest boards. It has been great. So I can't tell you exactly what source led me to QuatroStyle on Etsy, but I can tell you that I ordered within days of finding them.

I spent $84 for these 30 sticker tiles. While that may seem like a lot for stickers, it is nothing compared to the price (and permanency) of installing real tile. Nothing.
Look at the same area of the kitchen, just minutes before installation and compared to the first photo, I know you'll agree that the tiles add a lot of visual oomph.
The installation was simple. The only think you have to be conscious of is finding the center of the area you are covering. I chose to start there so that the rows would be centered and even. I took my time peeling and sticking the tiles, but it still couldn't have taken more than 40 min. I have since tacked up 2 pieces of white trim molding to blur the depth between the wall and the stickers. Tiles would have depth, so the molding gives the illusion of depth. When I get a chance, I'll take a picture that includes the molding to show you.

Easy. Reasonable. Striking. Removable.

Thank you, QuatroStyle!

#interiordesign #designonabudget #ididit #kitchen

Monday, September 11, 2017

Mushroom Still Life at the Issaquah Farmers Market

I love going to farmer's markets, don't you? I see beauty everywhere and I take a lot of pictures. Apples are pretty. Sunflowers are commanding. Tiny potatoes are charming. I could go on and on. Yet sometimes I see a display and stop in my tracks. 

This display looks perfect to me. The combination of mushrooms and fabric creates an image that is puzzle-worthy. A mushroom still life where the fabric on the table actually improves the look of what is displayed on top. It is very unusual to see a farm market booth with this much visual strength. Bravo.

Color (gray, khaki, stone and cream) and Texture (smooth as silk or as lumpy as cauliflower) remind us that natural is wonderful. I'm sorry that I didn't catch the name of the vendor, but this product is available at the Issaquah, WA farmers market every Saturday thru October 1.

Now that I think about it, I am decorating my living room in these shades - with touches of plum, light blue and peony during the summer.

#mushrooms #designideas

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Golf Club at Newcastle: Bagpipes and Chills

We had heard that The Golf Club at Newcastle had a wonderful spot high on a hill that featured the city of Seattle in the distance, framed by Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains.  

Last year when we drove up to take a look, I took this photo of a Barrat horse being led over to meet the wedding party. With the blue skies and picturesque setting, this scene felt like a magazine shoot
The guests were arriving for the wedding and I hurried out of the way. Near our car, we talked to a groundskeeper who said that we really needed to come back at sunset to hear the bagpipes. Wait, what?

Return we did, on a beautiful summer night in late August. We arrived around 6 o'clock and found a table in the club bar. There is also another pub restaurant called the Wooly Toad on the second floor.
After we ordered hamburgers and a salad, we walked out onto the terrace in time to see the bag piper arrive.

It was too good to be true. A clear night, a beautiful view and the time to enjoy it. Did I mention that it happened to be my birthday? I think I can get used to celebrating in the Pacific Northwest. 
#seattle #golfclubatnewcastle #sunset #myheartsinthehighlands

Monday, September 4, 2017

Cookbook Edition: Our Sorority Book Club Branches Out

My sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, has a pretty active alumnae group in Seattle and I transferred my alumnae membership the moment I moved, with high hopes of making friends out West.

I famously arrived at this Theta book club from the airport the night I moved here and now when we all introduce ourselves, one of the girls invariably remembers meeting me when I first arrived in Seattle...and tells everyone "and I mean when she first arrived!" It's fun and it tells the girls that connecting and showing up when I say I will is important to me. 

It was November 2015 and I had just flown in for my first extended stay in Seattle. The plan was that I'd be in our apartment with Dan from November to April, and then I'd fly back to Michigan with my mom to start packing and selling both of our houses over the summer.

It feels like just yesterday, but now we've built our house, are completely moved in and can start making big plans.

I have always loved to cook and I was particularly excited to hear that the book club was dedicating our August meeting to the love of cookbooks. The leaders suggested we check out fellow Theta and Seattleite, Heather Christo's blog for our recipes. Heather was the guest speaker at our holiday luncheon. We did and had a lovely meal. 

I think it is so interesting that most members went to different colleges in different parts of the country, but we all ended up in Seattle and have our sorority to help us connect. (finger snaps) Making friends as an adult is challenging, but leaning on your affiliations (school, church, volunteer) can really help you get a leg up.
I made Heather's Blueberry Maple Mustard Grilled Shrimp and a bowl of cheddar biscuit nibbles called Cheese Wookies (from a different cookbook). The sauce was simple and flavorful - win/win! and everyone ate their fill.
My friend Clara made this magnificent Quinoa Salad with Roasted Vegetables
Our hostess, Kristen made this satisfying Grilled Garlic, Rosemary and Mustard Shrimp and some gluten free cupcakes to satisfy our sweet tooth.

It was such a nice night! We were able to try new recipes and eat a lovely meal out on the patio. We even talked about the possibility of making an all cookbook book club, because we all like to cook and really enjoyed having a real meal at our gathering. Who knows, it just might happen! I look forward to whatever these women cook up.

#seattle #cookbookclub #bookclub #heatherchristo #finddelight

Friday, September 1, 2017

How On Earth!: The Blue Angles Thrill Seattle

Speechless! I was downright speechless when I saw my beloved Blue Angels power across the Seattle sky in this formation. 

I had a such great afternoon during the Thursday practice show on August 3rd. Someone had suggested I check out Proctor Landing as a possible vantage point. When I arrived, the police told me that it was one of their temporary headquarters and sent me down the way to Slater Park. Boy am I glad they did!

As I was looking for a parking spot, I started talking to an older gentleman who was leaving his car. We talked about the Blue Angels for a minute and then I started walking toward the beach with my chair and camera. "You're going the wrong way!" he called after me. Huh? "The good beach is that way...put your stuff down next to the U of W chair, that's us." 

And there you have it. Another example of kindness from the strangers I have experienced in Seattle. For the rest of the afternoon, I chatted with Bob, Sue and Vincent. They were all Washington natives and had found this new spot after their old Seafair haunt became inaccessible. We all agreed that Slater Park was perfect. It's a patch of green tucked among the beautiful homes and has a perfect place to let your kids play in Lake Washington. I couldn't have invented a better photo (below) if I tried. Happy days are here again.
Sue asked if I liked living in Washington, as she handed me her sunscreen. Vincent tried to relate by telling me a harrowing story of the time he drove thru Michigan in the winter. And when the air show was over, Bob insisted that I tuck my camping chair into his rolling cart so that I didn't have to haul it up the hill. Kindness, and dare I say a familial warmth, that I find over and over again "out here." 

Yes, living 2,000 miles away is a big adjustment, but the citizens of Seattle have been rewarding me for my effort.
*And the Blue Angels fly over Lake Washington EVERY year! I count myself lucky.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Test Tube Vase Highlights Zinninas

I bought this bunch of zinnias for $7 at the Ballard Farmers Market. The blossom heads are small so the overall scale is perfect for this vase from Pottery Barn that is essentially a dull gold wire circle holding test tubes.

One type of flower in many shades in a circle. Simple but stunning.

#testtubes #potterybarn #flowerarranging

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Boeing Classic #18: The Club at Snoqualmie Ridge

We had the perfect day to enjoy the Boeing Classic at The Club at Snoqualmie Ridge. We sat for two hours next to the 18th green and watched as each group of the players finished the day in this beautiful setting.

In the photo above, you can see defending champion Bernhard Langer (in gray) reach to shake hands with Colin Montgomerie (bright blue), with Skip Kendall (yellow) right behind. It was a great day with PGA Tour Champions.
This signage honors the winner for the last 12 years. Who will be the 2017 Boeing Classic champion?

Friday, August 25, 2017

2017 Boeing Classic Golf Tournament: Remembering Arnold Palmer

Life in Washington just keeps getting better. The Boeing Classic golf tournament is practically played in our "backyard." 

I parked and took the spectator shuttle over to The Club at Snoqualmie Ridge on Friday morning in time for the opening ceremony and the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner flyover at 11:20 am.

Before the jetliner approached, volunteers lined the 18th hole as if they were a runway and opened their umbrellas one-by-one as a tribute to golf legend Arnold Palmer, who passed away last year.
The umbrellas are open and the jet is approaching from the left over the mountains. 
I didn't plan on sharing this video of the Boeing Jet flyover, so it is choppy...but it was too cool not to share. 
The belly of the plane had a giant umbrella decal in honor of Arnold Palmer, which, when I saw it, caused me to tear up. We miss you, Arnold Palmer and send our love and admiration.

#BoeingClassic #BoeingClassic2017 #WhereLegendsPlay #ArnoldPalmer #golf

Monday, August 21, 2017

Solar Eclipse in Seattle 2017: Sharing is Caring

It worked! My pinprick in tin foil shoe box contraption absolutely worked once it was lined up properly with the sun.

What's funny is that when I arrived at my husband's office building to meet him, I was early, so I started talking to a middle age man who was standing alone, looking up with solar eclipse glasses on. I walked up to him and casually said, "Anything happening yet?"

He replied, "Oh, yes! You can already see the crescent clearly."

Wha! I didn't think that would be possible 25 min before our "maximum" coverage point at 10:23 am.  I rushed to angle my box and I saw...nothing. "Oh my gosh, it doesn't work! I did something wrong!"

This kind man took off his glasses, offered them to me and said, "My mother always taught me to share." What a gentleman. I put on his glasses and saw the magnificent crescent he was talking about. We introduced ourselves and I declared that I was forever grateful to my new friend, Bob. 

My husband showed up a few minutes later and got my box to work (naturally) and was shown the same kindness by Bob and was able to experience the eclipse with Bob's glasses, my elementary project box and a pin hole in cardboard. It was great.
Pinhole in cardboard

Bob and I were sure that it felt colder (this Seattle Times article says that it officially dropped 5 degrees) and thought that these shadows seemed odd, but we couldn't describe why.
Thank you, Bob, for sharing this experience with us. Your company and generosity made "Seattle Soar Eclipse 2017" way more fun.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Seattle: Goldfinch Tavern after Seattle Art exhibit

We celebrated my birthday with a lovely dinner at Goldfinch Tavern, in the Four Seasons. It is located right across the street from the Seattle Art Museum, so it was the perfect spot to eat with Shannon after we saw the Yayoi Kusama "Infinity Mirrors" exhibit.

I ordered the fennel-crusted halibut with spring peas. It was light but satisfying and was dressed in a lemon thyme sauce.
I started with a chilled heirloom tomato soup that was delicious on this hot day. I have been longing for decent tomatoes with real flavor and this soup helped me feel like summer and the good tomatoes were finally here.
I had to have dessert and was so happy to see a chocolate/cherry combo on the menu. This was a rich chocolate mousse terrine with dense butter cake, poached dark cherries, chocolate crumble and vanilla ice cream. Yum x10.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Infinity Mirrors: Yayoi Kusama at the Seattle Art Museum

I went to the wildly popular (can hardly get a ticket) exhibit called "Infinity Mirrors" by Yayoi Kusama at the Seattle Art Museum last weekend. This photo above shows my favorite part of the exhibit - an all white room that has been transformed by the dot stickers given to the attendees as they pass through the room.  I really like the idea of inviting the public to help create a cumulative piece; I also love that the room looks like a Dylan's Candy Bar exploded. I wonder if Dylan Lauren has seen this show. To me, it feels far more connected to candy and whimsy than infinity.
The exhibit is made up of different visual scenarios. Some moments are contained in tiny rooms, where docents allow you to experience the art for a mere 30 seconds. For example, the room (above) called "Phalli's Field" (don't get me started) is an odd collection of polka dot forms. For me, this Wonka-esque room got over-shadowed by our own reflections. It sounds funny, but in this world of using your phone to capture everything, I squandered my 30 seconds trying to get a good picture. Do I want another 30 seconds to just look around and be "in" her infinity? Not really.
This tiny room is called "Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity, 2009." I loved seeing the golden lights floating everywhere. It is exactly like some images I've seen of sky lanterns being released. Look at this image from the Daily Mail and tell me if this exhibit is not eerily similar to a real life experience. This was the most peaceful room in the collection and closest to what I call beautiful.
I think that my overall response to this exhibit was tempered by the fact that my fellow attendees were downright dead inside. Hundreds of us stood in line waiting for our "7 minutes in Heaven" (Sorry, but it's weird to go in a small room with 3 people and be timed) and no one was talking. No one was pouring out of the room invigorated by the experience. No was shaken or perplexed or wanted to talk about it. They just moved on to the next line. Hmm.

I love going downtown. I love seeing art exhibits, and then giving you my impression. I love the guy in the photo (above) who is smiling so sweetly at me through a window in Yayoi Kauma's art installation. I'm glad I saw it, but I'm not so sure you have to.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Crystal Mountain: A Gondola Ride to the Tip Top

That is Mount Rainier! We drove to Crystal Mountain with a picnic in a cooler and a camera in hopes of seeing this view! Apparently the clouds are finicky and a clear view of Mount Rainier can be hit or miss, but we got it! 
Ate our lunch at a picnic table at the base of the mountain near the resort ticket window. There were many families and people on dates, but I wouldn't say it was crowded We bought 2 round trip tickets ($23/ea) and rode up Crystal Mountain in this beautiful gondola. The trip is slow and relaxing and you can see such spectacular views.
This is a view from the glass-sided gondola. I wasn't sure if the height would bother me, but I loved it. 
On top of the world! The resort has chairs for visitors to sit on - it was very relaxing and I called my mom on Facetime from here! We got a perfectly clear connection and I could show her the sights from my phone - incredible. There is a neat apre-ski restaurant at the top of the mountain that serves food year round. I would love to eat here someday.
Taking the gondola up Crystal Mountain is an absolute must-do activity if you get the chance. 

Oh, and they sell snacks, drinks and ice cream at the little cafe at the base of the mountain too. I enjoyed a scoop of chocolate ice cream while we sat in chairs and relaxed at the bottom of the mountain too. Win-win.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Peony: Perfection in... late July!?

How on earth can there be peonies for sale at Pike Place Market in Seattle on July 29? How? In Michigan, the plant starts to bloom in May and all varieties are completely gone by late June.

My first thought is that these blooms must be flown in from Alaska. My second thought is that I can't believe I get to live in a place where peonies are available for sale in late July. Truly. 

Flowers are my thing and peonies are a favorite among favorites. 

Remember in 2008, when I blogged about saving peony buds and delaying their bloom for weeks with wax? Well, Alaska has made life so much easier for us!
On this same day in late July, the market had this beautiful selection of currants,
as well as bountiful flower bouquets. 

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