Bellevue Arts Fair

The Bellevue Arts Fair celebrates its 65th year!  It takes place during the last weekend of July typically and this weekend is it!  July 29-31, 2011.  So, there are two days left!  It is ranked among the top 100 fairs in the United States and currently known as the Bellevue Arts Museum (BAM) Arts Fair.  This event brings artists from all over the country, offering a variety of high quality goods.  The BAM offers free admission during this three-day event.  The fair is made of three separate sections – the BAM Arts Fair section at Bellevue Square, Bellevue’s 6th Street Fair, and Bellevue’s Festival of the Arts.  There is live entertainment, a demonstration stage and check out the Chalk Mural and/or show off your own artistic side by “chalking” it on NE 6th Street.  Concessions are here too…support your local rotary or kiwanis or try the renowned burger from Skillet…it won’t disappoint! (although mine was a bit undercooked for my liking).

Some of my favorites this year are:

Note to those wanting to bring pets…I love them but crowds of this magnitude make it unsafe for our pooches.  We are concentrating at looking at the art and not what is directly beneath us.  I happened to hear a poor little guy yelping away as his paw was most likely broken.;

Enjoy the art, enjoy the sun, enjoy your friends or family!  A great event for a get-together!

Mystic Sea Charters… cruise in the Northwest

Hi!  This has got to be one of the best Northwest experiences ever!  Hellams Vineyard in La Conner, WA hosts 2-3 wine and dinner cruises each summer.  This cruise was on a beautiful evening in July with the pouring of Barrister Winery wines.  Mystic Sea Charters takes us on a tour via the vessel Mystic Sea  So fabulous!  The cruise started out in La Conner, moving down the Swinomish Channel to Saratoga Passage, Deception Pass, and then a stop in the waters of Bowman Bay for dinner.  Have you had the opportunity of boating under the Deception Pass bridge?  Give it a try.  This particular tour was approximately three hours in length.  Enjoy the outside deck or choose the protection of the elements inside.  Beauty abounds!  Glistening waters, tree-lined rocky cliffs, beaches, bald eagles, and sea lions were seen.  The hunt was on at one point with a bald eagle chasing a seagull… he was ready for dinner.  A sunset was observed.  The crew is great and the captain has a fun sense of humor.  Make new friends.  The Mystic Sea is based out of Anacortes and is known for their whale watching excursions.  Book a custom trip or join in on an already scheduled charter.  Check out the Mystic Sea Charters website for more information or the Hellams Vineyard site for their wine cruise schedule.  When the weather is this flawless, this experience is one of the best out there! 

A few notes on the wine being served – Barrister Winery is located in a 100 year-old brick building on West Railroad Ave in Spokane, WA (in the Davenport Arts District).  The winemakers, Michael and Greg specialize in making limited edition red wines.  On the boat cruise, the guests enjoyed some of these limited varieties as they are sold mainly at the winery and specialty wine shops – these include Sauvignon Blanc from Klipsun Vineyard, Merlot, and the very limited Cabernet Sauvignon from Bacchus Vineyard.  These along with the award-winning Cabernet Franc and Rough Justice were served.  Do you see the law theme here?

On a side note, I wanted to mention Morgan and Deena at the La Conner Channel Lodge for their tried and true hospitality.  The Channel Lodge is a beautiful place to stay right on the water in downtown La Conner.

Pick A Festival, Any Festival 2011

This is a follow-up to the July 2010 post Pick A Festival, Any Festival.  It is true again that this weekend every year is packed with things to do.  Again this year, Kirkland Uncorked did not disappoint.  I liked Kirkland Uncorked’s Facebook posting…”Rain or shine we are still tasting wine!”  Kirkland Uncorked brings the arts (presented by Kirkland Arts Center), a boat showcase, grilling demonstrations, restaurant sampling, and of course…wine.  One thing I noticed that was new (or bigger than before) were the paddle boarders showing off their stuff.  And there is the City Dog Magazine Dog Modeling Contest.  Pyramid beer and Mojitos are for purchase while listening to the various entertainment throughout the day.  Some of my favorite wine tastings this year were from Maryhill Winery (Viognier),  Five Star Cellars (Kenzie, Merlot and Cab), Convergence Zone Cellars (Dewpoint), Tempus Cellars (Evergreen Vineyard Riesling),  Tsillan Cellars (Syrah Grenache), and Northwest Cellars Winery (Adagio and Sangiovese).  Mind you, I didn’t try every varietal that was being poured and everyone does have their individual palate.  This festival seems to be a good friend and group event too…bachelorette party, and more.  Have fun!

Snoqualmie Casino and more

Snoqualmie Casino on a Saturday…hopping with activity!  Snoqualmie, WA is a great location for this getaway as it is east I-90 towards the hills of the lower Cascades.   It offers a number of dining options (Kindai sushi and noodle bar, cafe/deli, Falls Buffet, and fine dining in Terra Vista) but here, I would say entertainment is what it is all about.  Those who come here to gamble and those who come for the music, sports or comedy that entertain us.  Snoqualmie Casino has a lounge (which has a dress code), the Snoqualmie Ballroom, and Mountain View Plaza (outdoor) for your entertainment viewing pleasure.  A sampling of the summer lineup is: Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Ranchers, Ronnie Dunn, The Beach Boys, Blake Shelton, and the MMA Rumble on the Ridge 19 – check out their website for more!  We celebrated the beginning of summer here in the Northwest by joining in the KJAQ-Vodka Rocks concert series featuring Candlebox, Toad the Wet Sprocket and Verve Pipe.  Vodka Rocks celebrated different vodkas from around the world.  I have to give a shout out to Peabody Jones Vodka, a local here from Woodinville, WA.  They had the best drink hands down!  And as far as the bands go –  Candlebox rocked!  I will expand on Candlebox here, as this year, 2011 is their 20-year anniversary of rockin’ stages in Seattle and across the country.  I am an original follower and fan, as I was an occasional visitor in the old days to the Off Ramp, RCKCNDY, Crocodile Cafe, and others.  I still have that special tape of their first album.  Toad the Wet Sprocket was great too…especially in this intimate outdoor setting.  I especially appreciated the rapport that the lead singer Glen Phillips had with the crowd.  I have an album or two, and these make for anytime listening fun!

We happened to miss Verve Pipe as we stopped in for wine tasting at both Cadence Winery and O-S Winery, part of the South Seattle Artisan Wineries (SSAW).   O-S Winery always does a nice job on their Riesling.  Cadence Winery produces quality wine that is blended using a Bourdeaux style…Rose, Coda, Ciel du Cheval Vineyard selection, Tapteil Vineyard selection, Camerata and Bel Canto.  Cadence uses exclusively Red Mountain fruit emphasizing Cab Franc, Cab, and Merlot with a bit of Petit Verdot mixed in.

Rock Out!

Seattle Symphony

The Seattle Symphony offers year-round performances at Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle.  Just this last month, the renowned Gerard Schwarz stepped down as its conductor after 26 seasons.  He is treasured by the Puget Sound area and is a champion of music.  Two recent performances have been enjoyed this year thus far – Carmina Burana and Casablanca.  Casablanca made for a lovely night out.  It was really nice to see this film on the big screen accompanied by conductor Adam Stern and the Seattle Symphony, performing the live soundtrack.  Really enjoyed it!  Check out the 2011-2012 season and what’s coming up next… Brahms, Beethoven, and a Symphonic Tribute to the Music of Paul McCartney, among others.  Opening night will be celebrated on September 17th to welcome the Symphony’s new conductor, Ludovic Morlot!

The flowers are nature’s jewels…

“Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains…”
Diane Ackerman

 “The flowers are nature’s jewels, with whose wealth she decks her summer beauty.”
George Croly

 “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

 “All that we are is a result of what we have thought” – Buddha

 “A long life isn’t good enough, but a good life is long enough.” – Elvis Presley

La Conner in July… and Rosario Beach

A good time was had in La Conner this July as the sun was shining, a nice breeze, blue skies, and a glistening channel was experienced.   I was able to walk through town and check out the shops…which doesn’t take too long.

Stay La Conner Channel Lodge – a very nice stay!  Most rooms in this hotel are located on the Swinomish Channel.  Enjoy your veranda on a summer day.  Read a book or magazine with your favorite beverage.  A nice spread is served for breakfast…cereals, breads with spreads, cheese and ham, fruit, and top it off with coffee or juice.  Complimentary wine tasting takes place on Friday and Saturday afternoons accompanied by a piano.  And now, the Lodge Retreat, spa services!  Great service.

EatSeeds Bistro and Bar –  Yum.  The seating options abound…the front deck, at the bar, in the dining room or on the patio out back.  The fare consists of burgers, salads, soup, starters, sandwiches and comfort foods too!   Much of the quality products are purchased from Skagit Valley farms and Northwest growers whenever possible.  I enjoyed the Retro Iceberg Wedge – iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, gorgonzola crumbles, peppered bacon, and served with gorgonzola dressing on the side…and I ask for it to be cut up for me, instead of it being served as a wedge.  Oh, and the homemade bread, my goodness…delicious, soft, and warm.  The Two Beers Brewery Immulsion Amber hit the spot too.  Seeds serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.    Note: the pictures located on the site doesn’t do the food justice…check out the pic here instead.  🙂

La Conner Thai Restaurant  –  if you like Thai, you should like this.  The Phad Thai (with Chicken) was satisfying as was the cashew stir fry.

Enjoy – A stop at the Berry Barn is a must…love the Marionberry pie, and on a 4th of July weekend, it makes the meal extra special.  They of course have old-fashioned apple too.   Although Roozengarde isn’t blooming with tulips, we made a stop and enjoyed visiting the gift shop and walking the grounds.   I was not able to make it to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival this year, but was happy to see that the official print for this year was created by local Camano Island artist John Ebner.  Really nice.  Snow Goose Produce Market, always a must-see.  This time, we purchased rustic Northwest bread.  A bit cool this morning for ice cream.  Stop by Plug Ugly for antique and other maritime and fishing gear – available for purchase!   Hellams Vineyard is the place to go for a great selection of wine and a good time.  A quality experience…a great place to gather with friends and family.  A plate of fine cheese, meat and olives can be purchased.  And if you would like to enjoy the deck with the view of the Channel, purchase a glass of wine (or a bottle) or beer and enjoy the afternoon.  The sun broke through and blue skies were in view.   I had the utmost fortune of meeting up with family friends that I had not seen since I was a child, and it was a perfect meeting spot for this.  Good food, wine, and conversation (with Frank Sinatra heard overhead).

Rosario Beach – lovely!  A great place for a picnic and for enjoying Northwest beauty.  Volunteers were on hand to teach us about the  rocky shores of Rosario Beach… the plants and animals that live within the tide pools here.  To protect the inhabitants of certain areas, it was suggested that we follow a rope trail and yes, we were still able to see the treasures that abound…hermit crabs, red rock crab, kelp, rockweed, chitons, and more.

See July 2010 post for more on La Conner and Deception Pass area.