I met a girlfriend for mani/pedi’s last weekend and we walked around the Ballard Farmer’s Market afterward. It was a beautiful sunny day here in Seattle. Spring is (or was) in the air. It is cold (we’ve had snow the past few days); but seeing tulips and daffodils at the Market gives me hope that Spring is on the way. This is what we wade through 8 months of cold/rain for. Spring and Summer in the PNW is glorious. I am really looking forward to it.

Ballard Farmers Market Tulips

Ballard Farmers Market

Honoring my Dutch roots with Tulips

Tulips at the Market

Tulips at the Ballard Market

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

hori hori dig dig!

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Sheesh… it is about time I posted my San Juan Island blog post! 

Before the end of Summer Sean and I decided to explore the San Juan Islands. Sean’s parents were kind enough to let us borrow their boat for the week. His Dad took us out the week before to show us how to use the GPS/Depth Finder and other misc… man gadgets. We reviewed the maps and planned the ports we wanted to stay in. The next week we left from the marina in La Conner and made our way north. We slept onboard in a different port each night. Most days we had picnic lunches while buoyed off an island near the border between the Canadian Gulf Islands and the U.S. San Juan Islands. We took naps in the sun, read and sat on the dock overlooking the islands with a bottle of wine and a blanket. It was perfect.

I was the navigator (and driver depending on the day). I did not, however, dock the boat. Ever. I’m scared of accidentally hitting the throttle the wrong direction! My other duty was to continuously yell “I’m on a boat!” It never got old, at least for me.

Me at the helm

Check out all of my photos here.

Here is our itinerary:

Day 1) La Conner to Deer Harbor (Orcas Island)

I didn’t realize how close the islands were together. It took less than 2 hours to get out to Deer Harbor from La Conner. This ended up being one of our favorite stops. We walked 1/4 mile up the road from the marina to have dinner at the Deer Harbor Restaurant overlooking the harbor. It was beautiful. They also had a latte stand. Enough said.

Day 2) Deer Harbor (Orcas Island) to Stuart Island for lunch and a hike then to Snug Harbor (San Juan Island)

We left Deer Harbor after a lazy morning and a breaky sandwich from the marina store and headed to Stuart Island for lunch and a hike. There is a state marine park on Stuart Island in Reid Harbor and from there you can hike 2.5 miles to past the old schoolhouse to Turn Point lookout. Stuart is the westernmost island in San Juans. We weren’t really prepared for hiking. We both wore flip-flops. It was a pretty hilly hike actually, but the payoff was an amazing view at the Turn Point lighthouse. Oh, and then there was the seal that looked up at me with a salmon in his mouth just as I looked over the cliff. So cool! We left Stuart late in the afternoon and headed to Roche Harbor & Snug Harbor. Roche was beautiful and they had a few restaurants so we stayed for dinner before heading to Snug Harbor to sleep. We got to Snug Harbor and it was tiny. There is only 1 shower/bathroom and it wasn’t very nice. Okay, it was pretty gross. Snug was my least favorite marina, but the harbor was pretty.

Seal with a Salmon at Turn Point Lighthouse. So cute!

View into Canada from Turn Point Lighthouse on Stuart Island

Day 3) Snug Harbor/Roche Harbor (San Juan Island) to Sucia Island for lunch then to Friday Harbor (San Juan Island)

We woke up in Snug and decided to head back to Roche Harbor for breakfast and showers. Every marina we stayed at (with the exception of Snug) had pay showers. Most of them were $1 for about 5 minutes.  Roche had cute stores, a few bocce ball courts, and the old Lime Mines. We went up to Sucia Island for lunch and decided to tie off to a buoy in Ewing Cove. It was gorgeous. Sucia is one of the northernmost islands in the San Juans, just a little southeast of Patos Island. After lunch we headed to Friday Harbor for the night. We got there in time for a cocktail before dinner and then we walked around the town. We asked a local about a great place for dinner with locally grown/organic ingredients. They told us about Backdoor kitchen. We walked around the property, which is off the beaten track and it was beautiful. The menu looked amazing, but they were closed, unfortunately, so we couldn’t try it. Next time! If you go, you’ll have to tell me how it is.

Roche Harbor

Sean in Friday Harbor

Day 4) Friday Harbor (San Juan Island) to Jones Island for lunch then to West Sound (Orcas Island)

Friday Harbor was beautiful, but I was excited to head out to Jones Island to relax and have some lunch. Jones Island was my favorite lunch spot. We tied up to a buoy in the bay and took a nap in the sun. There is something about sleeping on a boat. It is like getting rocked to sleep. We watched a group of Kayakers explore the island and noticed lots of jellyfish coming in with high tide. When the sun started to head toward evening we got on our way to West Sound. West Sound is another small marina like Deer Harbor. We had an amazing dinner overlooking the harbor just up the street at The Kingfish Inn. There isn’t much to do in West Sound, so we set up our camping chairs at the end of our dock, grabbed a few blankets, opened a bottle of wine and watched the sun set. Awesome.

View from the Kingfish Restaurant

Day 5) West Sound (Orcas Island) to Rosario Resort/Spa (Orcas Island)

The morning was cold and cloudy. West Sound, while it was my favorite stop, did not have coffee. So needless to say we left pretty early and headed to Rosario Resort. I’d driven by Rosario when I first moved to Seattle. I went camping in Moran State Park. From Mt. Constitution lookout you can see all of the surrounding islands. It is breathtaking. Rosario Resort has changed hands a time or two since then. The restaurant at Rosario is called the Quilted Pig. The food was pretty good, but the view was the best part of the meal. Most of the ports you pay about $1/foot for moorage at the marina and then pay to use the showers. At Rosario you pay per foot for moorage and then $20 or so to use the property. We were able to use the spa pool and hot tub, or either of the outdoor pools and any of the showers. The facilities were by far the best. Since it was cold, we spent most of the afternoon in the lodge in front of the fireplace reading our books on large comfy couches. I know I keep saying this, but it was so relaxing.

Spa pool at Rosario

Day 6) Rosario Resort/Spa (Orcas Island) to Olga (Orcas Island) then home to La Conner

We woke up in Rosario and I was so sore from sleeping in a cramped space. I told Sean I didn’t think I could sleep on the boat for another night. We had already gone to all the ports on our list, so we decided to head home a day early. On our way back we stopped at Olga. Olga is so flippin’ cute. Not only is long dock into the bay picturesque with starfish in the water and an amazing view of the islands, but the tiny little town is super charming. The store right in town at the top of the dock has closed, but if you walk down the road a bit the Olga store/cafe’ is still open. They sell a large variety of arts/crafts from local artists and have a nice cafe’. Walking back to the dock I didn’t want to leave to go home. It was really pretty and peaceful. When we got back to La Conner, we had fresh crab for dinner with Sean’s parents in Anacortes. Yum.

View from dock in Olga

Fresh crab for dinner in Anacortes

It was a fantastic trip. Next summer, we want to explore the Canadian Gulf Islands, north of the San Juans. I can’t wait.

hori hori dig dig!

I often refer to myself as a Scandinavian (a.k.a. Scando), which is strictly defined as Denmark, Sweden and Norway. I identify with the simple design aesthetic of almost everything in their culture (architecture, furniture, art etc…). The truth is, I’m Dutch which makes me Benelux (and, well, Benelux doesn’t seem as hip as Scandinavia). Which means, those of us that are Benelux, need to do a better job hippin’ it up. Damn my own arguments! 

Anyway, back to my point (which is that Holland should be included in Scandinavia). Denmark is included in Scandinavia. Really? Just because they jut out into where the North Sea meets the Baltic Sea a little more? Holland can practically reach out and hold hands with Denmark. I bet if that pesky little portion of Germany wasn’t in the way, they’d let us into the party. No offense to Germany. I have a bit of German heritage as well…

So why isn’t Holland included in what Wikipedia considers the “extended usage” of the term Scandinavian? Since it’s clear the definition of Scandinavia has gotten looser over the years (now that Finland and sometimes even Iceland are considered part of Scandinavia), I’m going to keep calling myself a Scando.

What do you think?

This isn’t to say I don’t love the Dutch culture and aesthetic. I do. I love that Holland was ahead of the game with wind power (windmills are cool), and I love the fiercely strong bike culture. Tulips are one of my favorite flowers and I used to have wooden shoes as a kid. I also love that they have Amsterdam. I think we all want a little piece of Amsterdam.

I’m sure you are wondering what brought on this conversation. Some friends of mine have started a Scandinavian-mod brand called Sur Flicka and they are now offering a line of clothing and accessories. We’ve had the “what it means to be Scandinavian” conversation at many a happy hour and they have agreed to let me be an honorary Scando… at least in their eyes. Thanks M & E!

Check out their new line of products at Sur Flicka.  I have no doubt they will be super successful in their new venture. Come join the fun at the launch party this Friday, June 4th at the Swedish Cultural Center here in Seattle. I will see you there!

This is Jaime Broersma, a proud Dutch girl AND Scandinavian, signing off.

hori hori dig dig!

Montana Roadtrip

February 24, 2010

Since I am unemployed and have the time, I decided to take a road trip and headed to Montana. Montana holds a special place in my heart since I went to school in Missoula. I love it there. Sean decided to come along so we could go visit his college friend in Whitefish too. We stayed with my best friend from college and her husband for a few days in Seeley Lake and then headed up to Whitefish where I was able to ski Big Mountain! It was so nice to spend time with friends.

I love being in the mountains. I grew up in a small town of about 11k people, and when I moved to Missoula for school they had a population of about 100k. Seattle metro has a population in the neighborhood of 600k. Sometimes I find it overwhelming and I just want some quiet space. In Seattle we have views of both the Olympic and the Cascade mountain ranges. It is beautiful, but I don’t get out to enjoy them enough. Thank goodness bike season is starting. I’ll get my fix on my rides in the country.

Here are some photos from the Montana trip.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, there were steaks in the shape of a heart. Sweet.

Noel made us chocolate lava cakes after a fabulous dinner. Of course we had a bit of wine too. Thanks guys!

Big Mountain from downtown Whitefish.

The backside.

Sean’s friend is chef at the Lodge on Whitefish Lake. We had an amazing chef’s whim dinner on Valentine’s Day and then sat by the fire watching the Olympics. Perfect.

Back to Seattle, the job search and Chilly Hilly, the kick off ride of the bike season.

hori hori dig dig!

At last, my blog about our Mexican vacation! It seems a distant memory now, but when I look at the pictures it all comes rushing back. We went to a little place called San Pancho (San Francisco), Nayarit, Mexico. It’s about an hour north of Puerto Vallerta and about 5 or 10 minutes north of Sayulita (another popular spot for Northwesterners).

Our friends D & K told us about it. They’ve been going to San Pancho for years. San Pancho is a quiet little town with cobblestone streets, a handful of restaurants and art/craft stores, an uncrowded beach and lots of authentic Mexican charm. If you are looking for a quiet place to relax and enjoy the sunshine and culture of Mexico, this is a great spot! Right over the footbridge from the airport in Puerto Vallerta is the bus stop headed north to Sayulita. We paid $5 for the ride north on what I refer to as the Mexican Chicken Bus (because the only thing missing from that experience was the livestock). Then we grabbed a cab in Sayulita to our B&B in San Pancho ($10).

We stayed at a lovely bed & breakfast at the far north end of town on the edge of the jungle.  We found it on Trip Advisor. They have 4 rooms, a pool with a swim-up bar (bartender on call) and an honor bar so you can help yourself to beer anytime. First, let me say that the Swine Flu scare has led to an unfortunate decline in tourism in Mexico. In addition, I think the economy has people spending less on travel. The good news is you can find some great deals in Mexico. Although, we didn’t get much of a discount at Casa Obelisco, we did have the entire place to ourselves for the week! The owners Bill & Barbara and their dog Kahlua and John & Judy (2 couples from the states) also live here. They were fabulous hosts. They made us breakfast each morning as we overlooked the ocean. We fell asleep to the sound of waves crashing on the shore. It was so relaxing. The B&B was clean and quiet. We felt completely comfortable here and walked to and from town in the dark on a few occasions without a worry. Here are some pictures:

Entrance to the B&B from the street.

The pool area

Town was about 1/4 mile south on the beach from our B&B. Here’s a shot of the beach as we started walking home one evening.

Our bartender, Evy, invited us to go with her and her family to La Penita (a town 1/2 hour north) to shop at the market. I walked into one of the shops and almost ran into this parrot!

Evy’s little girl kept us entertained most of the day. She was so much fun.

Enjoying sunset on the beach.

The best little taco stand in town!

Oh yeah, shrimp tacos and beer after a day in the sun!

John & Judy (from the B&B) just opened this gallery in town with beautiful pottery and beaded work.

Bill and Barbara’s dog Kahlua, lounging by the front gate.

The beautiful Mexican mirror I purchased in La Penita and hung in my kitchen.

I already miss Mexico. San Pancho was everything I hoped for. Relaxing, beautiful, safe and full of charm. The people here are so gracious and kind. They were so patient with me considering I know very little Spanish. It ended up feeling like a long game of charades! I can’t wait to go back. So many trips to plan, and so little cash! Hopefully there are a few local road trips on the horizon.

Stay tuned!

hori hori dig dig!

I find it hard to describe why I love Portland, Oregon so much. I lived there for 4 years before moving to Seattle and I still feel like I am going home when I visit. There are a few major differences with Seattle. Portland is smaller, cleaner, cheaper and it has an amazing mass transit system that is easy to use and affordable. They also are VERY bike friendly. I could go on and on, but that is another post. Let’s talk about the food. I love the food variety in Seattle, but there is a certain passion and risk behind the food in Portland. We have amazing fresh, organic and sustainably farmed ingredients easily accessible here in the PNW so it takes a lot for a new restaurant to stand out. In Portland some of the best food comes from people you’ve never heard of, with a background equally as mysterious. They haven’t worked for the latest top chef, or the most notable restaurant in the city. That’s not to say we don’t have a great underdog story here in Seattle from time to time, but in Portland it seems to be the norm.

I had the opportunity to go to Portland last week for work and of course had a list of restaurants to try. Some new, some old favorites. Whenever I go to P-town I like to stay at the Hotel Monaco downtown so I can walk around the city. 2 shouts outs for the wine happy hour in the lobby each evening and the fact that you can bring your dog to stay with you! It is a beautiful hotel with bold colors, patterns and textures everywhere.

Here are the notable spots I hit last week: Pambiche, Park Kitchen and Pok Pok.

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I am going to cut right to the chase and tell you Pok Pok is now my favorite restaurant in the Universe! It is so incredibly good. Every dish at Pok Pok was a so tasty and even though I knew I was full, I REALLY wanted to order more. Pok Pok’s menu comes from the food of Southeast Asia. Mostly Thailand. I’ve had a lot of Thai in Portland and Seattle, but I’ve never had such authentic Thai flavor. It makes every phad thai or panang curry you’ve ever had seem like a bowl of grits. Andy Ricker opened Pok Pok as a take out Thai shack in front of his house in Portland in 2005 after spending quite a bit of time traveling around Southeast Asia. To say Pok Pok took off, is an understatement. Check out all these reviews! After opening the shack which is Pok Pok, Andy opened the Whiskey Soda Lounge in the basement of his home. So technically I guess I’m raving about WSL, but I like the name Pok Pok better.

I tried the Pomegranate Caipirinha drink with Pomegranate (duh!), muddled lime and Cachaca. Yum.

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Kaeng Hung Lea is the sweet pork belly and shoulder in curry with ginger, palm sugar, tamarind, turmeric, Burmese curry powder and pickled garlic. It will blow your mind.

Everyone told us to get Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings. I’m not a wing fan. Too much work for little payoff. We tried them anyway and I was SO pleasantly surprised. They are marinated with the fish sauce garlic and sugar, fried and then tossed in carmelized fish sauce and garlic. I’m at a loss for words. Try them.

We also had the Yam Khai Dao a fried egg salad with chilies, chinese celery, onions and carrot with lime, palm sugar and fish sauce dressing. I helped balance the other heavier items on our table.

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If you are in Portland, you don’t have a choice, you HAVE to go to Pok Pok. Tell them I sent you. HA! They don’t know who I am… but if you say hori hori dig dig a few times, I might get a few more readers!

Pambiche is a delicious Cuban restaurant that is my old neighborhood. I used to come here for happy hour and have the plantains and Sangria. Last week I had the Cubano sandwich toasted with roasted port, smoked ham, swiss cheese and a dill pickle. I love the atmosphere here. It makes me feel like I am on vacation.

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Park Kitchen opened after I had moved to Seattle so I was excited to try it. The fare is mostly pacific northwest cuisine with a twist. They source most of their ingredients locally and change their menu each season. We had the flank steak with blue cheese/sherried onions. You can’t really go wrong with meat and cheese! Then we had the prawns with radish/celery root.  I need to stop ordering cold shrimp dishes. The texture/temperature thing doesn’t do it for me, but also this dish didn’t have a lot of flavor.

I love the copper table tops and the bright green paint color inside Park Kitchen. The rolling garage door out front allows them to take advantage of the Summer sidewalk dining that is so popular in Portland. If I could bend their ear at PK, I would suggest taking the “nut” ingredient down a notch. Why do people who love nuts, assume everyone else does? I think every 3rd item on their menu had nuts in it. That significantly reduced my choices (I’m allergic to nuts). I suppose this is how my vegetarian friends feel when I choose a restaurant with mostly meat items. Oops!

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Go to Portland.

hori hori dig dig!

In the 5 years I’ve lived in Washington last weekend was my first trip to the Methow Valley. It was the perfect weekend to see all the Fall colors. The Methow Valley sits in North Central Washington about 3.5 – 4 hours drive from Seattle. Some friends told us about the Rolling Huts on a property outside of Winthrop, Washington. On old mobile home park stripped of all the homes and the land brought back to a natural state, save the new super cool rolling huts. There are only 6 of them; each come equipt with a bedroom, wood-burning fireplace, plenty of firewood, porch, mini kitchen (with coffee maker, thank goodness) and a great view. You can move the furniture by the fireplace together to make another bed.

Think camping, but without the pitching a tent, sleeping on the hard ground, no heat, no shower, no proper potty thing. You don’t have to worry about ending up running around the woods like you are in the Blair Witch project. Unlike a tent the huts have electricity and doors that lock in case you’ve watched too many scary movies as of late, like me. This will give you piece of mind. $80/night (winter rate) is a bargain. I love simple architecture that looks cool. These cabins are made with i-beam, plywood, cork floors, glass and whatever else holds it all together. I was so excited just to lounge around without a schedule. We brought books, a bunch of wine/beer, crackers/cheese and Scrabble (of course). My brother and sister-in-law came too and they brought their puppy. He was in heaven with all the room to run around on the property. It’s a short hike to the river from the huts.

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Sun Mountain Lodge is about 15 minutes from the huts and a beautiful drive up the foothills. 1 word: horses. 2 words: amazing views. 2 more words: wine cellar and one more to sprinkle on top: spa. You get the idea. It’s a whole lot of fun up there. The rooms are much more expensive and fancy, but it’s a great place to go just for a horseback ride and some drinks/snacks. My horse’s name was Wigwam and of course he liked to stop and eat any chance he got, so I was way behind the others!

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Let’s talk about the food. Most of the food we ate in Winthrop was fried, but there was one restaurant that was remarkable: Arrowleaf Bistro. They serve locally sourced seasonal cuisine. Sean had Elk Bourguignon and I had Chicken Fricassee, one of my favorite meals ever. It was so good. They also had L’ecole 41 Schoolhouse Red. My new favorite Fall wine from Walla Walla, Washington. Love it.

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I haven’t been this relaxed in a long while. I can’t wait to go back. Next time, snowshoes!

hori hori dig dig!