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!

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Volunteer Park Conservatory

October 13, 2009

Even if you don’t care for gardening or plants, you have to admit this is kind of cool:

There are plenty of plants at the Volunteer Park Conservatory that are obviously not native to our climate here in the Pacific Northwest. I found out that the Conservatory is a US Fish and Wildlife Rescue Center and when the US Customs seizes illegally imported plants some are given to the Conservatory to display. Which explains why all of the orchids were behind locked screens. Cool, right?

If you haven’t been to Volunteer Park Conservatory in Capital Hill, you need to go. Especially now, because the trees in the park are lit up in their Fall colors. It’s a really nice place to take a stroll. I recommend donating some money if you go, because the Friends of the Conservatory and the Seattle Parks and Recreation department do such a nice job maintaining the plants and the property. On my recent visit to Olympia I was disappointed that the conservatory at the Capital had been closed permanently. I love to see the variety of plants; their colors, texture and climate. Since I am always cold, I’m particularly fond of the fern house since they keep it kinda toasty in there. Go check it out!

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Lake Quinault Lodge Getaway

September 18, 2009

I took a much needed mini-vacation at Lake Quinault Lodge in the Olympic National Forest this past weekend. We did very little except eat, drink, play scrabble, read the newspaper and sit in the adirondack chairs overlooking the lake. It was all about relaxation and I loved every minute of it (except when I was losing at Scrabble). This place is weathered and has a very lodge-y feel. A huge fireplace is the centerpiece in the main room of the lodge and is surrounded by comfortable leather couches and chairs. It takes about 3 hours to get there from Seattle and you don’t have much choice when it comes to relaxing. There are no cell signals or phones in the rooms. There was a pay phone however (cute!). The food was good and they served the usual Pacific Northwest cuisine, but my favorite was the Olympia Grown Wild Mushroom Ragout we had for dinner one night. Yummmm….

A bit of history about the lodge: FDR visited in 1937 and sometime after the Olympic National Park was established. If you haven’t had the chance to venture into the park, you should go. We are so lucky to have rain forests, beaches and glaciers right in our backyard. I like to take a ferry ride every once and a while over to the peninsula just to get out of the city. The quiet space is nice and the views are spectacular.

The rooms at the lodge are pretty basic unless you are willing to spend an arm and a leg. You are paying for the setting, the history and the quiet. I think it was worth it.

hori hori dig dig!

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The Frye Museum is Free

August 23, 2009

Yesterday I finally made it to the Frye Museum! I had no idea it was free. It was the perfect thing to do on a nice Saturday afternoon. They currently have a puppet exhibit; now, there are a few things that creep me out, and puppets/clowns/spiders pretty much sum it up. I really enjoyed the exhibit, but there was one room that had about 7 puppets on strings. I think every 20 minutes or so the show would play automatically, but I was not about to stick around. I just knew the minute those things started moving on their own, I would be caught off guard and run screaming from the room!

They had another exhibit called Bringing Munich Home that I liked as well. There was an oil painting by Alexander Max Koester called Moulting Ducks that was my favorite. It had beautiful lighting and soft tones.

If you get a chance, you should check it out. Don’t forget to donate on your way out! The Frye is definitely worth the trip. The Seattle Art Museum is also a must see. Enjoy!

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Hello world!

August 18, 2009

Welcome!

Recently, I was telling some friends about a great new restaurant in town that I had been to. One of my girlfriends told me that when she moved to Seattle she couldn’t find any blogs that talked about great restaurants, fun neighborhoods, lovely little boutique shops, weekend getaway ideas etc… so here I am. A local girl that loves to frolic in this Pacific Northwest playground and share her experiences with you! Oh… a hori hori is a Japanese multi-purpose gardening tool. It means dig dig in Japanese. I recently bought one at my local nursery and I thought the name was cute.

EAT: There is no shortage of amazing restaurants here. I often hear of new restaurant openings on Daily Candy. As of today my favorite restaurant in Seattle is Frank’s Oyster House and Champagne Parlor. The lobster rolls are to die for! It is a little off the beaten track, but a charming space that will have you place them neatly in your back pocket the next time you want to impress your friends. When I’m feeling particularly domestic, I’ll whip out my America’s Test Kitchen cookbooks and look for the perfect recipe. A little geeky, I know, but I love that show. They test their recipes so many times and alter the ingredients until it is just right. So, assuming I follow the recipe it should turn out perfectly, and it usually does. I had a rib-off this summer and used one of their recipes. Sweet, tender, saucy ribs! I’m pretty sure I won too. There was some wine involved.

TRAVEL: While I’d love to tell you how worldley (I think this is a word, I would use it in Scrabble for sure) I am, my budget mostly calls for staycations these days. Whistler, Vancouver, Portland, the Olympic Peninsula, the San Juans or maybe just checking out a new neighborhood. No matter where you go, there is beautiful scenery, amazing food and no doubt a good story. I went to Whistler this summer for the first time. It was breathtaking. The new Peak to Peak gondola is amazing! Oh, and they have a new restaurant, Araxi. We went there 2 nights in a row it was so good.

GARDEN: I am a novice in every sense of the word here. I started volunteering with Seattle Tilth recently and now I have a great big crush on this organization. I give my time in the garden and they teach me everything I need to know about growing and harvesting edibles. They also help support other local farmers, which I love. Last week I harvested lemon cucumbers. Have you seen these things? First of all, they are adorable. Second, they taste delicious, and third, since they are the size of a lemon I waste less food!

These are the things that make me smile. I took pictures the first time I used my new Le Creuset 7.25 qt. dutch oven. It was a little present to myself. Why? I can’t remember. I must have done something I was proud of! Also, here is a picture of my first rustic apple tart from scratch.

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Isn’t it beautiful?! I can’t help it.

hori hori dig dig!