On home, and tea

acs_0133Thanks to Erin Boyle I stumbled across a beautiful mediation on home, travel, and belonging in Candace Rose Rardon’s essay, Home is a Cup of Tea.  She combines sweet sketches with simple musings about traveling, moving, settling, loving, and living — and how we define “home.”  Like Rardon, I have fond memories of drinking tea.  The tall, narrow cupboard in my childhood home full of tea tins, the fun of choosing a flavor for that particular afternoon, and the steamy, milky sweetness in my cup.

Even though the world may be extraordinarily challenging and difficult right now, we can pull strength and resilience from a sense of home, whatever that might be for each of us.  Some days, a cup of tea and a quiet moment to recharge are exactly what is needed.  Then we can jump back into the fray, renewed and ready to face the day.

Hey, Seattle (part II)

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Welcome to Part II of my little Seattle guide, with things to do and places to stay.  If you missed Part I you can read it here for all kinds of great places to eat!

Visit:

Pike Place Market

No visit to Seattle would be complete without a stroll through the public market.  Amazingly fresh seafood, bites of all kinds (see! told you more food!), beautiful flower stalls, and the original Starbucks location await you here.  Grab a salmon pâté piroshky from Piroshky Piroshky, walk down to pick up some smoked salmon from Pure Food Fish Market, and then wander as you munch.  You can duck upstairs to Storyville Coffee to escape the bustle for a few minutes if you like.  Oh, and I highly recommend a stop at Le Panier before you leave — this boulangerie and patisserie offers the best pain au chocolat I’ve had since Paris.

 

Seattle Art Museum

With an excellent permanent collection and innovative exhibitions, SAM is well worth a visit.  The museum “contains nearly 25,000 works of art from around the world. Dating from antiquity to the present, the permanent collection represents a wide range of global cultures and historical perspectives.”  The current temporary exhibit, Double Exposure, is worth a look even on its own; it is a satisfyingly nuanced look at portrayals of Pacific Northwest native peoples over the last 150 years.

 

The Elliott Bay Book Company

This bookstore in the Capital Hill neighborhood has been serving Seattle for over four decades, and is a delight in every way.  Highlighted local authors and subjects, quirky giftware for the bibliophile, and an on-site cafe make for a lovely afternoon.  Despite the likelihood of an overly-heavy suitcase, I had to bring three books home with me.

 

Melrose Market

Melrose Market is like the teeny tiny well-curated cousin of Pike Place.  Meats, liquor, shellfish, homewares — all can be found in this little urban refuge.  Sitka and Spruce is located here, as it the most excellent homeware store Butter Home.  I wanted one of everything!  Their art prints and jewelry in particular caught my eye, but their are tons of other fun things to be had in this lovely little shop.  Visit if you can, and then grab a cocktail at Still Liquor.

 

Segway Tours of Seattle

Perhaps a little cheesy and touristy, but so much fun!  We spent a morning touring the city center by Segway, and got to see so many great spots.  The Space Needle, Lake Union, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center, and the Museum of Pop Culture were highlights, but the running commentary from our excellent guide was no less interesting.  We actually walked back to the Gates Foundation Discovery Center for a closer look later in the afternoon, which proved to be both fascinating and inspiring.

 

Seattle is the city where Nordstrom was founded, so you can visit their original store location for kicks (and excellent shopping).  And the Chihuly Garden and Glass is definitely on my list for next time.

 

Stay:

Seattle is full of both excellent hotels and great AirBnB choices.  This visit we stayed at the Ballard Jungalow and had a delightful stay.  The host is kind, and her home is just the kind of serene escape I was craving.

If I you prefer a hotel, I have heard nothing but good things about the ever-hip Ace Hotel Seattle.  Reasonable prices, great vibes, and a great central location make this one a great pick.

Thank you for such a lovely week, Seattle!  We had so much fun and can’t wait to return!

 

Let’s move to Sweden!

Niki over at My Scandinavian Home has done it again with a house tour that has me dying to move to Sweden rightthisveryminute.  Everything about this space, from the high ceilings and clean white walls to the luxe layers of texture (that linen! the warm wood! those moldings!) has me yearning to call that space my own.  Stunning photos, right this way:

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If you have the flexibility to move to a foreign country and happen to be wealthier than I am, this gorgeous home is actually for sale!  I’ll have to dream from afar, I’m afraid, but if you’d like some more eye candy, visit My Scandinavian Home.

Hey, Seattle (part I)

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This summer we took a week off to unwind and escape the heat in Seattle, WA.  I had never been, but the laid-back vibe and sense of community had me at “hello.”  After 100+ degree temps in Southern California, high 70s in the Pacific Northwest was pure bliss.  Add amazing food and stellar coffee to the gorgeous waterfront views all over the city, and you have an idea of why I didn’t want to leave.  Since we visited so many lovely spots, I’ll be splitting my guide into two parts.  This one, Part I, will focus on food and drinks.  In Part II I will talk about sights, shops, and places to stay.

Eat:

The Walrus and the Carpenter

You will have the opportunity to eat fresh, delicious seafood everywhere you turn in Seattle, and this elegant spot was no exception.  I had some of my favorite oysters of this trip here, briny and fresh, and the Sea Wolf Bakery bread and butter was perfection.  Roasted medjool dates with vanilla oil and salt made for a decadent sensory experience to end the meal.  Open for dinner daily, and they offer an oyster happy hour M-Th 4-6pm.  Know that there is often quite a wait, but fear not!  Amazing cocktails reside next door at the Barnacle Bar.  Order a spritz with the Spanish sardines with salsa verde.  Trust.

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Sitka & Spruce

For my birthday we indulged in the tasting menu at this quaint eatery in Melrose Market, and it did not disappoint in any way.  Unable to choose between the wine and beer pairings, we got both and sipped among the table — great call, might I add.  Every dish was as beautiful as it was delicious, and the drink pairings were a delight.  Their menu changes daily depending on what is forage-able or in season, so you’ll always have something interesting to look forward to.

Shiro’s Sushi

Shiro’s made for a special meal, with their combination of local and Japanese fish offerings.  Our omakase meal was pitch-perfect, from the kampachi to the toro and everything in between (the local salmon was particularly nice).  And is there anything quite so refreshing and the freshest sushi and a cold Asahi?

Kamonegi

If you enjoy soba noodles, look no farther than Kamonegi.  This tiny noodle shop offers hot and cold handmade soba in a cozy, fresh space, along with playful and delicious appetizers like yakitori duck tsukune with soft egg and shishito peppers with a miso spicy cod roe aioli.  If you arrive early for your reservation like we did, hop next door to Midnight Cookie Co. for cookies and milk and a little Nintendo.

No Anchor

I was a bit dubious when we walked into the dim bar of No Anchor, but my doubts began to melt away with my first sip of ale.  By my first bite of shishito fritter, I was a fan.  No Anchor boasts an extremely well-curated beer selection, with drafts offered at 42 and 52 degrees F to showcase each beer in its best light.  They also offer a grid with each of their beers ranked by how approachable/esoteric and traditional/modern you can expect them to be.  Their food is also delicious (corned duck breast with strawberry curd and fennel, I’m looking at you).  Don’t skip dessert, either — between the vanilla semifreddo and the dark chocolate sorbet, I was a happy camper.

The Fat Hen

This adorable brunch spot in Ballard may have been my favorite meal of the trip.  A small slice of Europe plunked right down in Seattle!  Between the best crab Benedict I have ever had and the egg bake alla Boscaiola, I was in heaven — and a shandy that paired Austrian beer with a spot-on fresh lemonade put me right over the top.  Don’t miss their house-made ricotta, either.

Frankie & Jo’s

Just across the street from The Fat Hen is Frankie and Jo’s plant-based ice cream shop.  While a visit to Molly Moon’s homemade ice cream is a necessary Seattle stop, make time for Frankie and Jo’s as well, and you won’t be disappointed!  My scoop of chocolate mint brownie was out-of-this-world good.  Also, two words: moon goo.

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Coffee, coffee, coffee:

Regardless of where you fall on the coffee-lover spectrum, you likely equate coffee with Seattle.  Seattle was an epicenter for the second wave of coffee, is the birthplace of Starbucks, and is regarded as a world center for both roasting and supply chain management.  Let’s just say that tons of great coffee can be found here.

Starbucks Reserve

We skipped the line at the original Starbucks location in Pike Place Market in favor of visiting the Starbucks Reserve Roastery over in Capital Hill.  It is like Disneyland for coffee in every way: glossy, commercial, and undeniably delicious.  I highly recommend the experience bar downstairs, where you can order small-lot coffees from all over the world in espresso or siphon tasting flights (with optional chocolate truffle pairings!).  If sweet coffee drinks are more your style, order a Shakerato affogato and thank me later.

Espresso Vivace

For old-school espresso and an obligatory hat-tip to David Schomer, visit Espresso Vivace.  ‘Nuff said.  (My iced mocha was delicious.)

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Seattle Coffee Works

A homey spot just outside of Pike’s Place Market, Seattle Coffee Works’ flagship location offers an espresso counter and a slow bar for pour-overs.  Solidly good coffee and a great variety of direct trade beans.

Ghost Note

This modern spot in Capital Hill offers a simple core menu with stunningly good single origin coffees.  A Kenya single origin espresso shot recommended by the barista here was definitely one to remember.

La Marzocco

This grandaddy of espresso machines and grinders has a beautiful, light-filled cafe and showroom right in the Seattle city center.  Each month a new, renowned coffee brand or roaster takes up residence in their cafe, trains their staff on their coffees, and creates a unique experience for guests.  We had the pleasure of sampling coffees from roaster La Colombe while ogling the beautiful espresso machines.  Think car showroom for baristas, only full of light and plants and delicious coffee.

For places to visit, shop, and stay (and maybe more food, shhhh!), tune in to Part II here!

I ❤️ Baleen

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This lovely maker was a happenstance find while in Seattle — meet Baleen!  Billy and Leah started Baleen in 2013 when they saw a niche for quality, affordable handmade jewelry they decided to fill, and their fresh and sculptural jewelry is all handmade in Seattle, WA.  Their jewelry is eco-friendly in a number of ways: about 95% of their materials (silver, brass, and gold-fill) are made from recycled metals, they are a zero-waste manufacturer, their nickel-free and conflict-free gold-plating facility is also zero-waste, and their packaging is printed locally on recycled paper made in Michigan in a green, water-powered factory.  And besides all of this, their jewelry is just plain beautiful!

I fell in love with their Fifty/Fifty earrings when I came across them in the Seattle Art Museum store, then bought yet another pair of their earrings as I shopped at the delightful Butter Home shop at Melrose Market.  Their Herkimer studs almost came home with me as well and still might.

If you’d like to visit, Baleen’s workshop and storefront is located right in Ballard, or you can shop online to your heart’s content.  Necklaces, bracelets, pins, rings… so many fun things to choose from.  And as someone with a mild nickel allergy, I can vouch that their jewelry is comfortable and worry free to wear.  Thank you, Baleen!

More picks: flux necklace  mint bangle  love pin
Via shopbaleen.com

 

Little Free Libraries

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I’m back from Seattle and will have a post about that delightful city soon, but in the meantime, let’s chat about little free libraries.  On our trip we stayed in the charming Seattle area of Ballard, and I saw tiny free community libraries whenever and wherever we walked.  They perched near the street in front of homes like oversized birdhouses, beckoning curious readers and fostering a lovely sense of community.  I. Was. Smitten.

After a bit of research, I found that Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring a love of reading by inspiring book exchanges all over the world.  Statistically, children growing up in homes without books can lag about three years behind their peers with lots of book access, and these tiny neighborhood gems aim to bridge that gap by providing 24/7 access to books in areas where they might otherwise be scarce.  Currently Little Free Library has over 70,000 libraries in 85 countries, with millions of books borrowed annually.  On their site they offer free instructions for building little libraries, support for obtaining free or discounted books to stock them, and a store where you can buy kits and pre-built models if you’d rather not build one for yourself.  On the user end of the spectrum, their site offers a map to help people find and share books wherever they are.  So great!

It makes me deeply happy that people are building their communities around a shared love of reading this way.  If I didn’t live so close to a good public library, I would add one to our yard.  Maybe I still should?  Either way, I know there is a thriving network of tiny libraries in Ballard, WA, to inspire me.

 

This and that

It’s been a little while since I shared some inspiration images, so here are a few lovely things that have caught my eye on this fine Friday.  A blend of fresh and moody colors and sunshine are on my mind — and judging from the variety of locales, I seem to also be feeling a tinge of wanderlust.  Enjoy, and have a good weekend!

That carved wood cabinet on that wood wall at Casa Warrandyte in Australia is perfection.  Warm woods and leather with all that greenery?  Yes and please.

Dying over this moody teal hex tile, especially paired with a grey concrete shelf.

This sunshiny corner at Sonoma’s Scribe Winery encapsulates their “falling down but still soulful” aesthetic delightfully.

Sisters Hollister and Porter Hovey’s Brooklyn apartment is a maximally chic adventure in design.  (And seriously, how great are their names?)

This serene and light-filled seating area in Sint-Niklaas is exactly where I wish I could spend the weekend.

Links to ponder

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It has been a difficult couple weeks for a variety of reasons, perhaps most especially because we lost some amazing and luminous figures to suicide just days apart from each other.  Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, you will be missed.  As we hold ourselves gently, gingerly, and move forward, here are some important/poignant/touching/thoughtful reads for you to ponder:

The kind of “bad boy” we need more of…

Why “you are loved” is not enough.

Anxious and unashamed.

An important read on size appropriation.

Quick, curious, playful, & strong.

 

“The mountains are calling…”

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I took a brief hiatus from the blog for a trip to Yosemite National Park last week.  It was a beautiful place, far beyond what words or pictures can adequately describe.  That is the true value of our national parks — not only do they preserve our plants and wildlife, but they provide us with spaces for awe, for wonder, and for experiencing something grander and more majestic than ourselves.

I hiked below Bridalveil Fall and then around the loop for a bit, with stunning views of El Capitan, Half Dome, and Cathedral Rocks.  I even saw a rainbow over the falls!  All in all it was a great little solo trip to relax and recharge, read and reflect, and revel in the beauty of nature for a little while.  Here are a few pictures from my travels, if you’d like to see.

somewhere else

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Street view, San Francisco

“This person, this self, this me, finally, was made somewhere else. Everything had come from somewhere else, and it would all go somewhere else. I was nothing but a pathway for the person known as me.”

― Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

I’m wishing I were somewhere else today.  It is one of those days where you wish things could be different, but you aren’t sure how or why, and you have no idea how to get there.  Perhaps it is our human craving for stability juxtaposed with the ever-changing nature of the universe that has me aching.  Or maybe it is just the middling-ness of it being Wednesday.  Some days are for blazing trails, but today I am just quietly walking my pathway, wishing it would take me somewhere.  Somewhere else.