Why We Love Living In Seattle: Holiday Happenings that Illuminate Our City

The excitement and enchantment of the holiday season is wonderful, but let’s be honest: it can be a very expensive time of year, leaving very little funds for entertainment. The good news is several of the best holiday traditions in Seattle are free of charge! We have compiled a list of special places to visit during the month of December with fun for kids of all ages.

Winterfest at Seattle Center
Through Jan 1, 2018
Enjoy holiday lights, folk dancers, carolers, dancers, ice sculptors, model trains, and entertainment.

Swansons Nursery Reindeer Festival
Through Dec 24, 2017
Swansons Nursery, 9701 15th Ave NW, Seattle, WA
Shop for gifts and even pick up your tree while the kids are entertained by the model train village, live music, photos with Santa and meet Santa’s Reindeer; Dasher and Blitzen.

Sheraton Hotel Seattle Gingerbread Village
Through Jan 1, 2018
City Centre, 1420 Fifth Ave, Ste. 450, Seattle, WA
An astonishing display of artistry and architecture and loads of fun for all ages. *Admission is free, but donations gladly accepted for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Teddy Bear Suite
Through Dec 26, 2017 and open on Christmas Day!
Fairmont Olympic Hotel, 411 University St, Seattle, WA
Brimming with Teddy Bears and lavish décor, one of the hotel’s biggest suites is magically transformed into a teddy bear wonderland for kids and parents to enjoy, and the perfect place for some family photos.
*Admission is free, but donations gladly accepted for uncompensated care at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

 

Dog Days of Summer in Seattle

Owning a dog is not only good for companionship, they also can help you stay fit and active. Seattle is notorious for being dog-friendly and we have the restaurants, hotels and wine tasting events to prove it.

During the gorgeous summer months that we enjoy in Seattle, the long list of off-leash dog parks can give you and your dog a fun, safe place to enjoy the sun. Some parks are bigger than others and some also have trails for maximizing exercise opportunities for you and your dog.

We have assembled a short list of some of the most popular dog parks in Seattle, detailing amenities and locations, to you can discover new places to roam with your furry friends.

Magnuson Park

With nearly 9 acres of level play area and trails, this park also features a fully fenced off-leash dog area, a separate play area for small and shy dogs, and has beach access to Lake Washington.

Magnolia Manor Park

A much smaller park when compared to Magnuson – this park is still a very popular doggie destination in the Magnolia neighborhood.

Golden Gardens Park

One of Seattle’s most beautiful waterfront parks, this Ballard treasure also offers one acre of land dedicated as an off-leash area. Once your pooch is tired from cavorting with other dogs – leash him back up and enjoy a fire on the beach.

Regrade Park

A small but safe oasis in the heart of Belltown, Regrade Park offers Urban Pups a place to get off their leash and move around. Double fencing provides extra safety precautions in the high traffic area.

Woodland Park

It’s not the largest off-leash park but with small hills and trees interspersed, it is fun for a quick romp. Woodland Park itself is also great for long walks on a leash.

Blue Dog Pond Park

Located in Southeast Seattle, Blue Dog Pond is the place where wagging tails and art meet. Art installations are located throughout the park – including a big blue dog sculpture – while the off-leash area has lot of grassy slopes for fun play.

At Home in the Outdoors

More than 80 percent of Americans say they want an outdoor living space where they can relax and entertain. And it’s no wonder why. Outdoor spaces extend your livable space, add visual interest, and increase not only your quality of life, but also the overall value of your home. (In some cases, the increase in your home’s value can cover most or all of the cost to create the new space.) Here are some options to consider:

Deck

DECK

Decks are still the most popular outdoor living spaces, not only because they work so well for entertaining and relaxing, but also because they have the highest return on investment (see the Tips column for data).

Surprisingly, wood decks (made of cedar or pine) are actually the better financial investment, because building with Trex or other popular composite products costs considerably more, yet doesn’t increase the home’s value by as much.

Expanding and reconfiguring your current deck is another option that’s popular today. The contractor will typically remove the old face boards, extend the underlying structure, and then put down the new decking. This is also an opportunity to add built-in furniture, privacy screens, even plumbing and electricity.

Patio

PATIO

Running a close second to decks – in both popularity and investment return – are patios. With a patio, you can relax and entertain at ground level, which can afford more privacy in urban areas, and allows you to be more engaged with the surrounding plants and landscaping.

Typically made of brick, concrete, or stone, a patio also comes with far fewer maintenance and repair issues than a deck. Plus, patios are generally easier and less disruptive to construct – which is why they’re often about 30 percent less expensive to have professionally built.

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GAZEBO

For those who want even more privacy, as well as shelter from the sun and protection from mosquitoes and other pests, there’s the gazebo. Available with walls or as an open-air design, with screening or not, these modestly sized, affordable backyard structures can be built from scratch or purchased as a kit (for assembly by a do-it-yourselfer or a professional).

Popular in the Midwest for decades, gazebos have made their way west as homeowners here have discovered how nice and easy they are for creating a shaded spot for reading, relaxing, and backyard gatherings.

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OUTDOOR KITCHEN

People tend to gather naturally in the kitchen. And when the kitchen is outdoors, it creates an ideal opportunity to mix, mingle and interact in the open air. Other reasons why cooking outdoors makes so much sense: less kitchen cleanup, the house stays cooler during the summer, and grilled food just tastes better.

Some may think an outdoor kitchen is only for cooks who host large parties, but homeowners who go this route say they’re more of an extension of the home, and great for daily use.

Designs for outdoor kitchens range from the simple (a grill, limited counter and cabinet space, and maybe a prep sink) to truly independent entities with a refrigerator, an elaborate grill, warming oven, freestanding island with storage space, rolling cart stations, and even a dishwasher. Depending on how elaborate your design, you may be able to list it as a second kitchen when selling your house.

 

SIX PLANNING SUGGESTIONS

  1. Before meeting with contractors, gather photos of designs and ideas that you like; this will make it much easier to communicate your ideas.
  2. Make sure the materials you plan to use, as well as the overall size of the structure, will be harmonious with your home’s current look and feel.
  3. Give serious consideration to a roof – which will likely add significantly to the cost, but will also provide much-needed shade on hot days and protection from rain and inclement weather. In fact, to ensure things are structurally sound and architecturally appealing, start with the design for the roof first, then set your sights on the roof supports and structure below.
  4. Incorporate lighting into your design, which will extend its usability into the evening and throughout the seasons.
  5. Consider convenience, comfort, and longevity when choosing materials. For example, a floor made of dirt or stepping stones may last forever, but one made of wood or concrete is much easier to clean and arrange furniture upon.

 

If you’re eager to live a healthier lifestyle and reconnect with family and friends, as most people are today, it’s time to consider an outdoor living space.

Originally posted in the Windermere Blog by Tara Sharp

Why We Love Living in Seattle: Northwest Folklife Festival

Since 1972, the Northwest Folklife Festival has been Seattle’s official start to summer. The Folklife Festival is a 3-day weekend of music, dance, and storytelling, workshops, crafts, vendors, and fun for the whole family. All ages and musical interests are welcome with events and workshops that are open to anyone who wants to participate or just listen. Admission to everything is free, although donations made at the door are appreciated.

This Memorial Day Weekend, May 26-29, 2017, at Seattle Center, join your Northwest neighbors and 5,000 performers from all over the Pacific Northwest including Washington, Oregon, Western Montana, Idaho, Alaska, British Columbia, and Alberta for a celebration of our diverse communities.

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Unique Furniture Stores of Seattle

Buy local and find those one-of-a-kind pieces you’ll never see anywhere else.

Looking to add some pomp and flare to your dwelling? Yearning for a unique piece to tie the room together? Look no further. Each of the stores on this list are small, independently curated boutiques, perfect for finding one-of-a-kind furnishings, vintage pieces, and home goods with a distinctly Seattle flair.

Adorn

This is a store with a super-stylish perspective. Adorn is a great place to find something unique for your home. The staff is well known for its friendly attitude and the always charming Rocco, the shop dog.

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Unique Find: Temporary wallpaper in uber-stylish prints

Ballard Consignment

This is a store with a super-stylish perspective. You’ll find an impeccably curated inventory of eclectic vintage furnishings and art.

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Unique Find: Warthog Taxidermy Mounted Head

Camelion Design

In addition to an amazing array of furniture styles and a seemingly endless selection of fabrics, it’s also a boutique housewares store full of goodies. You’ll discover gifts for everyone in their offerings of serving ware, candles, furniture, art, accessories, and gifts for baby.

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Unique Find: Modern furniture that doesn’t compromise comfort for style

Capers

Let your Seattle pride shine at this West Seattle home and lifestyle shop. Featuring the work of local, independent, and eco-friendly artists and craftspeople, Capers is a great spot to pick up a beautiful new cookbook that also serves as a coffee table book.

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Unique Find: Coated outdoor linens that are chic and functional with really stylish textile patterns

Digs

This Market Street staple has an exuberant mix of art, furniture, and craft; boosting a healthy mix of mid-century and contemporary pieces with a generous dose of whimsy.

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Unique Find: Life size cow sculptures

Fremont Vintage Mall

A basement full of furniture, art, and accessories could be considered the mother of all vintage stores. Spending a couple of hours browsing here is like shopping an entire antique district. Each visit will reveal new things. From the roaring ’20s to midcentury, this gallery isn’t stuck in a particular decade.

Fremont Antique Mall

Unique Find: 1950’s metal carnival clown baseball toss game

Phase Two Interiors

Gigi Buchanan opened Phase Two as an art, décor and furniture shop for gently used home furnishings that are worthy of a second life span, in a new home. The showroom has a large and varied selection spanning many different design styles.

Phase 2

Unique Find: Scooter the shop dog apparently has great taste and is happy to help you find the perfect throw pillow

Second Use

The ultimate store for a hardcore scavenger; going to Second Use feels like being at a 100 yard sales under one roof. From old lumber, vintage cabinet pulls, and fun retro lighting options to modern appliances, unused doors and large stock piles of unused wood flooring options; they literally have it all.

2nd use

Unique Find: Antique Pine Winnowing Table used to separate the wheat from the chaff – great for a side table

Saint Patrick’s Day in Seattle

It’s Saint Patrick’s Day which means Corned beef and cabbage, green beer, and people dressed like deranged Leprechauns are everywhere. Despite the lack of a large population of Irish descendants in Seattle, we still have several great Irish Pubs that share the food, music and merriment of a pub you might find in our Sister City; Galway, Ireland. So if you can’t celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day on the Emerald Isle – then do it in the Emerald City.

Murphy’s Pub

Family friendly until 9pm, Murphy’s offers a seat to your whole family – but your dog is welcome to stay there with you until closing time. The oldest Irish Pub in Seattle, Murphy’s was also the first to offer local microbrews when Redhook Brewery opened in 1982.

TRY: Black and Tan

Mulleady’s Pub

Being a restaurant with food that is much better than the usual pub fare, Mulleady’s will be serving a five-course St. Patrick’s Day dinner tonight. Calling ahead to see what the lines are like might be prudent.

TRY: Red Breast Collection Spirit Flight

Conor Byrne

A tried and true Irish Pub, the doors open today at noon and the live music starts at 1pm. Skillet Street Food will have a food truck parked outside all day – no word on what their menu might be.

TRY: Jameson and ginger cocktail

Owl N’ Thistle

Located on Post Alley in an old red brick building, on a rainy Seattle day, all you need to do is close your eyes to make believe you’re in Ireland. The doors open at 11am today with live music starting at 1pm. Post Alley is closed off in this small section so revelers can also hang outside.

TRY: Irish coffee

Kells

Arguably the most well-known Irish restaurant and bar in Seattle, so naturally their Saint Patrick’s Day event is huge. In fact, their festival is a three-day event from Thursday, March 16 through Sunday, March 19. The doors open at 9am and music starts at noon.

TRY: Guinness or Harp lager

 

Why We Love Living in Seattle: Lesser Known Parks Worth Discovering

Kubota_Garden

Kubota Gardens

Hidden in South Seattle, Kubota Garden is a stunning 20 acre landscape that blends Japanese garden concepts with native Northwest plants. Master landscaper Fujitaro Kubota was a horticultural pioneer when he began merging Japanese design techniques with North American materials in his display garden in 1927. His vision has undeniably permeated the horticulture culture of the Puget Sound area and remains as one of the most enduring and beloved landscaping designs in countless home gardens.

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Parson’s Garden

It’s the most romantic park in the city, and still one of Seattle’s best-kept secrets. Stroll among the flowers, picnic on the lawn, or just climb up a tree for a private moment. The intimate and natural setting makes this a lovely spot for small gatherings, so don’t be surprised if you stumble upon a wedding during your visit.

sound garden

A Sound Garden

Located on a hill overlooking Lake Washington in Northeast Seattle, giant pipe-like structures murmur, whistle, and howl when the wind blows through them at the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration center on Sand Point Way.

Designed and built by sculptor Douglas Hollis, it is one of several art installations to be enjoyed on the NOAA campus. And if you’re wondering, the answer is yes: the Seattle band Soundgarden was named after this inspiring piece.

Visiting the NOAA campus is free, but security is tight. Make sure to bring a photo ID with you in order to get a day pass, and be prepared to have your bags searched. You also have to park your car and hike about a half mile to get to the art installations, but the walk is well worth it.

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Thomas C. Wales Park

Once the site of a gravel pit, the Thomas C. Wales Park is an urban wildlife habitat and public art installation on Queen Anne. Adam Kuby’s five “Quarry Rings” that punctuate the site not only allude to the landscape’s history but create bird and nesting habitats within the park, as well. Walk the path through the park to get the best view of each of them.

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Lowman Beach Park

Located a few blocks north of the more popular Lincoln Park in West Seattle, this little gem will not disappoint you. It is a waterfront park with about 300 feet of beach area, plus an acre of land above it with tennis courts and swings. Take a picnic lunch or launch a kayak from the water’s edge.

2017 Seattle Kennel Club Dog Show

A fur-ocious competition with the most paw-some and glamour-ruff dogs outside of Paw-llywood

To say Seattle is a dog lover’s city is putting it mildly. Off leash dog parks, pubs that allow dogs, dog-centric parades, and doggie daycare centers have become the norm for our fair city. With all of these dog lovers in one city, naturally the arrival of the Seattle Kennel Club Dog Show is a highly anticipated event. This year it will take place on March 11 and 12 at the CenturyLink Field Event Center.

Signature events will include everyone’s favorite: best-in-breed, as well as agility and obedience trials. These events are fun for dog lovers to watch, but the list of demonstrations this year also sound pretty entertaining. These are events that are not judged; they are purely educational and entertaining. Topics range from obedience, fly ball, herding and other typical dog sport themes, but there are two unique demonstrations that really stand out:

First, Amy Trotter the Pig will be hogging the spotlight and demonstrating her remarkable obedience, rally and agility exercises.

Agility Pig

The second wildly popular event is the Dog and Person Dance Demonstration, which is just as fun and crazy as it sounds: choreographed dance performances between owners and their dogs. Hopefully the four-legged dance partners won’t have any trouble, considering they have two left feet.

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For more information on the show and ticket sales, visit their website at:  Seattle Kennel Club Dog Show

Why We Love Seattle Series: Dick’s Drive-In

Seattle has a plethora of locally sourced, gluten-free, vegan, and organic food available, but let’s be honest, sometimes you don’t want any of that. Enter Dick’s Drive-In – for every Seattleite’s favorite $2 non-organic, extra-gluten, cheese-filled burger.

The first Dick’s opened in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood in 1954. Little has changed since then, including the large, revolving “Drive-In Restaurant” sign beckoning to the hungry masses with a clear promise of the type of food they serve. And prices are astoundingly inexpensive: $3.10 gets you the biggest burger on the menu.

Notorious for being a “cash only” establishment for decades, they recently decided to finally start accepting credit and debit cards in September 2016. This is a big deal for those of us who rarely carry cash, and for a restaurant known for being steadfast in their constant reluctance to change. The last time the menu changed was in 1982, when they started serving Diet Coke and stopped serving orange soda.

What is it about Dick’s that makes them so special? They will tell you it’s their product: The beef patties are “fresh, never frozen, and delivered locally every day.” Their fans will tell you it’s more than that. They have an enviable compensation rate for employees that includes 100% healthcare coverage for anyone working over 24 hours per week and their children, college and trade school scholarships, childcare assistance, paid community service hours, and a very strong commitment to helping homeless youth and families in the Seattle area.

More than six decades after the first Dick’s opened its doors, there are now six locations around the Seattle area, each open seven days a week until 2:00 am, so your greasy burger cravings can be gratified pretty much any time, day or night.

Ten Ideas for New Thanksgiving Traditions

Most of us already have our “ways” of doing Thanksgiving – ways our mother did it, ways our extended family did it, ways our neighborhood did it. Thanksgiving doesn’t lend itself well to trying out new traditions, but sometimes the situation calls for it – you can’t make it home for Thanksgiving, for example, or you have a family now and want to start traditions of your own. So what can you do to heighten, deepen, and extend Thanksgiving to its most memorable end?

  1. Start the day with an indulgent, relaxing breakfast.

While some people are firmly in the “no breakfast” camp to save room for the big meal later, we love the idea of starting the day in such a festive, delicious way! Pancakes, waffles, eggs, even pie – it’s all good.

  1. Take time for yourself before time with family.

As wonderful as Thanksgiving can be, we all know it can be exhausting and overwhelming. That’s why it’s such a good idea to deliberately take a little time for yourself during the day to make sure you enjoy the holiday on your terms.

  1. Remember loved ones who have passed.

Holidays can be bittersweet when beloved family members or friends are missing from the gathering. Look through old photo albums and recall funny, tender or important achievements of those who are gone but not forgotten.

  1. Write your thanks on a butcher paper tablecloth.

Cover the table with butcher paper. During the meal, distribute pens and ask each family member to write down a few things they’re thankful for on the paper and then take turns reading them out loud. We love the practice during the Thanksgiving meal of naming things you’re thankful for, and this is a unique way to do it – especially since you can tear off and save particularly meaningful memories.

  1. Let everyone toast!

Another way to make gratitude gushing even more festive is to let everyone make a toast. Raise your glass to the year, to your family, to your friends!

  1. Have the kids serve dessert.

Let the bigger kids get in on the action of serving to their family.  Put them in charge of delivering dessert and coffee after the meal. The oldest can plate and pour while the younger kids can take orders and serve. It keeps them busy after the meal while the adults talk and gives them a broader sense of appreciation for the holiday.

  1. Have Thanksgiving dinner early.

Planning for a 3 p.m. dinner shifts the momentum of the day. An earlier meal creates a more relaxed celebration, plus there’s plenty of time to digest before going to bed.  An earlier dinner also accommodates traveling guests and lets them return home at a reasonable hour.

  1. Take a long walk together after dinner.

No one is ready for dessert right after dinner anyway, so why not take that time to go on a long walk with your loved ones? Enjoy the cool, crispy (and hopefully dry) autumn weather and get the blood flowing again after all that rich food.

  1. If it’s just two of you, really treat yourself.

It can be hard to justify making a huge Thanksgiving meal when it’s just two of you, but that doesn’t mean it has to be any less special, or even any less of a treat. In fact, it should be more so. Make it special by treating yourselves to nicer ingredients and better wine than you would normally use if you were cooking for a large group.

  1. Stay connected with family members far away.

If you can’t be with your loved ones on Thanksgiving, thankfully you can still be together – just virtually! Do a video call or Google Hangout before dinner, or Facetime family members in for the giving-thanks portion of the evening.