Friday, September 17, 2010

Urban Berry Bushes - Seattle Berrydise

The middle of September and we can still pick some juicy fruit along streets and alleys of the Emerald City. Hardly a neighborhood in green Seattle goes without blackberry bushes. This city nestled along the shores of Puget Sound, at latitude: 47°36′35″N and longitude: 122°19′59″W is an urban berrydise.

Whereas the best berry picking spots of my youth were treasure troves pickers coveted and kept to themselves, I'm not afraid to share the location of any of my favorite patches in Seattle with you, for there are plenty more down the road or around the block.

Take Kerry Park on Queen Anne Hill north of downtown for instance. Along the stairs that lead from Highland to the next street down...  berries. Have a problem with stairs, but don't mind a walk? Head west on Highland turn north at Parson's Gardens, pass some of Queen Anne's architectural beauties that boast rooms with the best view of the Olympic Mountains, and you'll find what looks like a berry mother lode. Meander down the hill and you'll find yet more blackberries, and don't worry about depriving anybody, there's plenty.

Did you know that berries don't ripen at the same time all over town? I keep my eye on bramble bushes to see where the juiciest ones can be had. While living on Queen Anne Hill, I've taken the car to the West Seattle peninsula, after I'd discovered a particularly well loaded row of unripe brambles on Genesee, near the Junction. Took just a bit of patience to wait and get there when the berries would be at their prime.

With about 200 public parks and gardens and amazingly green neighborhoods, it would be hard not to find a place to nosh during a stroll. Now that I live closer to the south end of Lake Washington,  Kubota Garden has become my berry source. The Japanese garden may be manicured, the maintenance roads on the periphery near the ravines surrounding the pristine park are lined with bushes, the succulent free fruit dangling from branches. Branches with thorns, and I've got to admit, I've got a few scratches on my arms and legs. But I've got six jars of jam on the kitchen counter, and I'm sure there will be more.

Previously published in slightly different form (with Kerry Park misspelled as Kelly) at HotelsByCity 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Weed Whacking Bramble Mashing Goat

Our across-the-street neighbor has gone completely green. Her next-door neighbor says she often sees the other contemplating, cigarette in one hand, cup o'Joe in the other, as though she's wondering what to do with the dandelions that have taken over her front yard and parking strip.

That grass, it grows so naturally and yes, indeed it looks quite beautiful, especially when the knee high strands move in the wind. Then there's plantain (no not the banana-like) or way-bray, buttercup and ale-hoof.

In elementary school in the Netherlands I learned that the latter could be found right alongside nettles. Ale-hoof can take the sting out of the contact blisters you get from touching nettles. Isn't it wonderful, the way nature provides an antidote right there where you need it? There are no nettles anymore in our neighborhood though. Most likely they've been killed to death with pesticides. Which is a pity because the non stinging nettle blossoms have a great attraction for butterflies…

I feel for my neighbor's dilemma, and yet, I foresee the grass and weeds going to seed, then dry, lie down, die. That will be a pity. The greens however, have grown too long for a mower. What's needed is a scythe. Ha! Last time I saw a scythe in public it was in a picture of the grim reaper. There's got to be another, more friendly solution!

You may think this strange, but the next image that pops into my mind is that of a goat. My mother's goat Tilly was great at eating anything, from the leaves of the apple and pear trees in the orchard, to the contents of my mom's sewing kit. It wasn't that Tilly was just one hell of an obnoxious specimen of her species! I've come across more goats since my childhood and they all have a tendency to eat whatever is put in front of them, even if that something hangs supposedly out of sight or reach, they'll get to it. Ever seen pictures of goats in trees or on top of stools? What about the goats on the ledge of an overpass? Those were not Photoshop®ped images!

A few years back my husband some other folks and I helped a friend clear her property of bramble bushes. All the branches were cut, and thrown into the goat enclosure. Before we knew it, the pile was diminished to sticks and shoots without leaves. Goats can beat a lawnmower anytime, they can navigate uneven terrain, hey, the city of Seattle hired whole herds for exactly that reason!

A goat is the answer to weed and rambling bramble problem!

Would you hire a goat for a day from Healing Hooves LLC?

Previously published by DutchessAbroad as SeattleBlogger29 at Hotels by City Seattle Blog

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Fairmont Olympic Hotel

The Fairmont Olympic Hotel which opened its doors in 1924, breathes history. Located smack downtown, this Five Diamond beauty puts you in the middle of one of Seattle's entertainment areas. For one, you're at walking distance from the Seattle Central Public Library. If you think you don't need a library during your stay in Seattle, reconsider. The building designed by world renowned Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, is more than a library, it's a site to see, it's a learning tool, a meeting place, a smashing hit you can't afford to miss.

Benaroya Hall, home of the Seattle Symphony, is only a few blocks west. Across the street from the recital hall, you'll find a fantastic music venue and Pan-Asian eatery The Triple Door as well as restaurant Wild Ginger.
Closer yet to your home away from home is the 5th Avenue Theatre, where Shrek the Musical was mounted in the spring of 2008.

Another great venue is the Paramount Theatre. If your visit includes a first Saturday of the month, you shouldn't miss a tour, and do check out the rest of their programming. Oh, and when other theaters are "dark" (on Mondays) you can watch a silent movie at this grand location.

Fans of open markets, will enjoy Pike Place Market (where salmon gets to fly). Many of the restaurants in or around the Market present wonderful views of Puget Sound and the Olympic mountains.

The Fairmont Olympic was renovated in the early 1980s and is an elegant building listed on the Register of Historic Places. The Fairmont Olympic is a fine example of Historic Hotels of America.

From the moment you step out of your car and enter the regal lobby of the Fairmont Olympic, you will experience personal attention and service. The Fairmont Olympic takes up a whole city block, and while there are all kind of attractions in the area, you could spend your entire visit in and around the hotel itself.

I'm thinking tea at The Georgian after our arrival, cocktails in the piano bar, dinner at Shuckers, breakfast in bed, or perhaps a "grand crème" with a croissant at the lovely French coffee shop you can get to from the lobby. Reading the newspaper and watching passers by on 4th Ave. will probably make us want to have a baguette at the same place, why not? Then, dinner at The Georgian (or at least a cup of mushroom soup (at the Terrace), it is de-li-cious), and if we feel we need to, we can work it all off at the gym or in the swimming pool.

Luly Yang's Boutique is on my list, as are the other shops inside and around the hotel. Mmmh.

Hotel Max

About the Hotel Max
Remember the old Vance Hotel? It's now called Max, and it has had a total make-over. Smack downtown and yet with ample breathing space. The view of the Court House garden is really green. Hotel Max is a mere 6 blocks from Pike Place Market, 7 from Western Ave. (furniture lovers haven), and 8 from Elliott Bay's waterfront. Combine business with pleasure in this startling designer hotel decorated with over 350 works of art by 39 local artists and photographers. You like the sink?, go ahead and buy it (a fresh one that is), same for linen, plasma t.v. etc. Like the art? The concierge will connect you with the artists or their gallery. A catalogue of all works of art and artists is available at the front desk for $20.

Hotel Max is Mod, Hotel Max is Innovative (designed to display real art), Hotel Max is Romantic and it Rocks! Rooms and bathrooms in this stylish brownstone are not large but attractive, with lovely linen, New Millenium features, and great service. The excellent Westlake Specialty Market (Wild Board cold cuts, wine, desserts etc.) is around the corner as is local favorite Uptown Espresso. Close to museums, libraries (Koolhaas and Braille) shops and theaters.

Previously published by hotelsbycity who credited (in this case) seattleblogman9 for my writing.

Marqueen Hotel

Built in 1918, the half block that now houses The Marqueen Hotelwas an apartment complex when we arrived in Seattle. With Cafe Ladro Espresso and bakery at your doorstep, the in-house Spa and Salon Intermezzo Piccolo, and Mercer Ten all located within the same structure, you don't have to venture far for special treats.

Thespians will find McCaw Hall (Seattle Opera and Pacific Northwest Ballet) Seattle Rep, as well as award-winning Intiman Theater, Rock & Pop Lovers the Experience Music Project (EMP) and the plain curious Pacific Science Center at walking distance. Not to forget the zany Teatro Zinzanni where dinner and entertainment are mixed on the spot.

The Marqueen Hotel, is an excellent starting point to investigate the rest of the city. Although, with a multitude of eclectic restaurant choices for each meal of the day within a 100 yard radius from the hotel, you may be enticed you to stay in one neighborhood. Queen Anne Hill has it all.

Recommended to Wagner buffs, hoofing aficionados and savvy thespians, who keep an eye on innovative Intiman and Seattle Repertory programming.

Previously published in slightly different form by hotelsbycity which (in this case) credited my pal seattleblogman9 for my writing.

Inn at Queen Anne

Pretend you live in Seattle. Shop for local delicacies across the street. Treat yourself to a special in-room bite before going to On-the-Boards, the Seattle Repertory or Intiman Theatre. Dress up for the Seattle Opera or the Pacific Northwest Ballet, or casually slip into Uptown movies. Browse the stacks at Easy Street Records for a CD by an old time favorite, or the latest by the up-and-coming. Watch people brave the spray of the International Fountain at Seattle Center on a hot day. Mount the complimentary shuttle to the Olympic Sculpture Garden and afterwards have cocktail at Cafe Mecca, an appetizer at T.S. McHugh's or a coffee at Uptown. Act like you're at home, you are at the Inn on Queen Anne.

Don't forget to check out the specials for a night on the town, or an extra day at the foot of the Hill.

Previously published by hotelbycity which credited an other blogger for my writing.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Ferry rides on Puget Sound

Seattle City on the Bay

We probably weren't the first nor the last who thought Seattle was situated on the ocean shore. What a surprise when the Pacific proved to be a 3-4 hour drive from town. You don't have to wait that long for a day, or even an hour on the water though. The Washington State Ferries offer a fast fix for those who crave to get in touch with their sea legs.

The official WA Ferry site offers a few ideas for trips all over Puget Sound.

For an instant "fresh nose" I suggest the ferry to Bainbridge Island. On the map you'll find Bainbridge to the left of downtown, only a 35-minute trip from the Seattle Pier 52.

All possible questions about ferry rides you may have are answered on the extensive site.

Pets may come along, but must be on leash or in carrier, but are NOT allowed above the car decks unless they are in a pet carrier. Too bad, that's keeping us from walking on, and that's a real pity cause it was one of our favorite little outings.

Jump on the bus, cross Elliott Bay, get off the ferry and walk to Winslow for breakfast, lunch, some shopping or just a good cup of Joe.

We often save room in our stomachs for the best treat at the Island Ice Cream & Coffee house on 584 Winslow Way. It's close to the ferry; close enough to keep an eye on cars queuing up to get on board. If you happen to have the car with you, park in line, then walk back to indulge on a cone from heaven.

The ferry ride back to Pier 52 offers the best skyline view of Seattle. And if you're lucky you'll get to see the biggest snow cone around, Mount Rainier!

Previously published by HotelByCity April 22, 2007