Thursday, May 29, 2014

Visit the New Seattle Center Armory -- Fresh, Local, Delicious Cuisine...

The Seattle Center House has received a much-needed facelift and you will hardly recognize her…

The New Seattle Center Armory

As a kid, in the years following the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle, the Center House was one of my favorite places to visit. The original food court was filled with exciting temptations from the cutting edge Orange Julius to the ever-popular MacDonald’s.

But over the past 50 years, time had taken its toll on the good, old Food Circus. The choices had become flat and predictable. It was uninspiring to wander through the food court and see that the once original and vibrant heart of the Seattle Center  had become a pale version of its former self.

The Food Circus is now The Seattle Center Armory...

I was thrilled to hear that the Center House Food Circus was getting a facelift. Not only a facelift, but a name change as well. The first floor of the Seattle Center House – the former Food Circus -- is now called the “Seattle Center Armory” after its origins as the Seattle Field Artillery Armory, built in 1939. 

The layout is much the same as the former Food Circus but the focus is now on fresh, local, healthy cuisine. I would describe the new style is “contemporary industrial chic”, if there is such a category. The Armory features warm, neutral colors with sleek stainless steel and light wood accents. And you can now enjoy your meal and view the Seattle Center from the new 60-foot outdoor deck.

The Plum Pantry at the Seattle Center Armory

A Delicious Lunch Venue...

On a recent visit, my friend and I chose to have our lunch at the vegan restaurant, Plum Pantry, a more portable version of the popular and delicious Plum Bistro in the Capitol Hill district on 12th Avenue. 

We found a Groupon offering a 2 for 1 meal deal at this popular vegan restaurant and that was enough to convince us to try the healthy cuisine.

Even if you do not adhere to a strictly vegan diet, (I lasted one week) at the several Plum restaurants you will find deliciously tempting offerings to satisfy even the most non-vegan palette. My lunch partner and I tried two of the “box lunches” – perfectly designed for eating in or taking out to a nice grassy spot on the Center grounds. 

Baked Tempeh Sandwich and Quinoa Wrap - Yummy!
I ordered the baked Tempeh Sandwich with grilled onions, avocado, tomato, cilantro and chipotle aioli on gluten free bread. I must tell you, it was delicious. 
The sandwich came with a mixed greens salad and choice of vegan dessert. My eating partner tried the Quinoa Wrap with Mama Africa mix, coriander pesto, fresh orange slices, avocado, mixed greens and grilled onions – yummy and satisfying.  I would highly recommend giving Plum Pantry at the Armory a try.

There are several other delicious-looking restaurants I want to experience on my next visits, such as Big Food Barbeque, Blue Water Taco Grill, Quincy’s and the Skillet Counter…. 

Bean Sprouts at the Seattle Center Armory
There’s even an adorable restaurant called “bean sprouts” that caters to the uniquely specialized tastes of children in highly creative ways that are sure to delight even your pickiest eaters.

The Armory Still Plays Host to Cultural and Special Events...

The Chinese Art and Culture Festival
Over 3000 free public performances occur in the 
Center House each year. 

We were fortunate enough to stop in while the Chinese Art and Culture Festival was underway.

Dancers getting ready to perform at the
Chinese Art and Culture Festival.
We enjoyed colorful dance performances on the central stage accompanied by authentic instrumentation. The event was certainly well received. There was standing room only.

Many local interests will be moving into the refurbished Center House in the near future, including a new home for Seattle’s progressive radio station, K-EXP.

Seattle's Best Damn Happy Hour
So, if you haven’t been interested in visiting the old Food Circus lately, you might be delightfully surprised at the results of this newest makeover. 

• Grab a healthy picnic lunch and enjoy the new deck. 

• Experience the multi-cultural festivities.

• Stop in for Seattle’s Best Damn Happy Hour. 

• Or just grab your favorite cup of coffee. 

We can all safely return to our beloved icon now, and enjoy a deliciously progressive future.

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Spectacular Gardens of Point Defiance Park

A Diverse and Plentiful Garden Experience 

When you think of Point Defiance Park in Tacoma, you probably picture elephants, sharks and polar bears -- and for good reason. Point Defiance boasts a world-class zoo and aquarium that are well worth a good long visit. The 29-acre zoological park is the number 2 tourist destination in Pierce County, Washington, second only to Mount Rainier, and attracts over 700,000 visitors a year. (We’ll save a more detailed look at the wonderful zoo and aquarium for another post.) 

This post will introduce you to Point Defiance Park's magnificent display of gardens. 

The Iris Garden at Point Defiance Park

Welcome to Eight Unique and Beautifully Designed Gardens...

Did you know that the 700-acre Point Defiance Park, which offers spectacular views of Mount Rainier, the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound, is also the home of eight beautifully designed gardens that will be at the height of their blooming season throughout the next few months?

So, if you need a peaceful afternoon soaking in a little natural magnificence, I suggest you take a leisurely stroll through a few of the Point Defiance Gardens.

Here's What You Can See in the Point Defiance Gardens...

One of the beautiful varieties of Iris in the Iris Garden.
The Iris Garden -
 If you find the sweet scent of iris as delightful as I do, you will love sniffing your way through this lovely display of assorted and unique varieties. The Iris Garden contains 101 tall bearded iris, 80 Pacific Coast iris hybrids and 26 iris tectorum, all in assorted colors. 

During construction in 1992, cobblestones from old Tacoma streets were used for the garden walls. 

The garden site is comprised of five sections - one bed is dedicated to tall bearded iris, two beds to various median irises, one bed to beardless iris (Siberian and Pacific Coast iris), and there is also a Louisiana section. I had never seen so many varieties of iris in one place.

A Heavily Laden Wisteria adds to the Local Landscape

The Herb Garden - Become culinarily inspired in the Herb Garden. Established by the Herb Gardeners of Tacoma and maintained primarily by their members, the Herb Garden has two beds containing more than 150 perennial herb plants that love the Puget Sound region as much as we do.

The arbored path to the herbs and fuchsias.

The Fuchsia Garden -
 Between June and October you can enjoy the lavish fuchsia garden and see an explosion of blooms. Colorful, delicately-dangling flowers attract visitors, butterflies and hummingbirds alike. The Fuchsia Garden contains 125 different varieties of upright fuchsias.

This garden was constructed to test which varieties of fuchsias can be grown in the ground and will come back year after year.

The Rhododendron Garden - Designed in a 5-acre stand of old growth forest as a striking natural display, the rhododendron garden is spectacular in it's natural setting. 
This garden is just past the zoo at the beginning of 5 Mile Drive. 

Trails wind through the forest creating a natural exhibit of these huge and boisterous blooms. The garden contains more than 500 plants, including 198 cultivated varieties and 75 species of rhododendrons. 

Rose buds by the thousands in the Rose Garden.

This natural rhododendron garden was created in 1968 in cooperation with the Tacoma Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society.

The Dahlia Trial Garden -- You will have to visit in late summer to see these beauties in their full glory. The dahlia trial garden is one of the largest official trial gardens in the U.S. and Canada and is maintained in cooperation with the Washington Dahlia Society. The Dahlia Trial Garden is comprised of plants grown from tubers sent by dahlia growers from throughout America, Canada, England, New Zealand and Australia.

Iridescent Early blooms in the Rose Garden.

The Japanese Garden -- 
This inspiring site is a long time favorite of Point
Defiance Park. Built in 1914, the Pagoda, inspired
by Japanese architechture, is the focal point of this beautiful and peaceful garden.

The garden features an authentic Shinto shrine and Tori Gate presented by Tacoma’s Sister City in Kitakyushu Japan.Here youwill see azaleas, rhododendrons, Japanese cherry trees and crabapples. 

Large and small pines flourish as an oriental footbridge, waterfall, Japanese lanterns and a small "tea house" also compliment the grounds.

It's May and the Roses are Just Starting to Bloom!
The garden provides a peaceful setting to experience a bit of solitude and is especially  enchanting in early spring.

The Spectacular Rose Garden -This spectacular garden is the focal point of Point Defiance Park and has more than an acre of rose beds, the oldest of which was established in 1895. The site includes a garden of delicate miniature roses, arbors of graceful climbing roses, a picturesque wishing well and a restful gazebo.

From June through September more than 1,500 rose bushes provide a full spectrum of colors including many variegated combinations. The garden is accredited by the American Rose Society as an All American Rose selection display garden.

A waterfall at the Northwest Native Gardens

The Northwest Native Plants Garden -

This garden displays and celebrates the native flora of the Pacific Northwest. There are winding paths that lace through the one-and-one-half-acre garden.

You will pass a lovely little waterfall, pond and a welcoming wooden gazebo. This comprehensive garden in itself includes a forest garden, dry garden, alpine garden, meadow garden, woodland garden, pond and waterfall garden.

So, whether you are a garden master or would merely love to take a day to meander through a truly transcendent natural environment, the Point Defiance Gardens offer an extensive opportunity to cultivate your love of all things beautiful.

                          Click here for more information on the gardens and how you can volunteer. 

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Chihuly's Garden and Glass Exhibition

 The MUST-SEE -- Chihuly Garden and Glass Exhibit...

Art Glass Display at Chihuly's Garden and Glass Exhibit

As I sit down to write this post, I already know I will run out of superlatives before I am finished. But I will do my best…

If you live in the Pacific Northwest and have not heard of Chihuly, I will assume your domicile is under a rock somewhere.

If you are planning a visit to Seattle or the surrounding area and have not heard of Dale Chihuly, it is a little more understandable… but not much. 

I believe it is safe to say that 
Dale Chihuly, native son of Tacoma, Washington, is one of the most influential contemporary glass artists to ever walk the earth, and we are fortunate enough to have access to an unbelievably amazing (superlative numbers one and two) exhibition of his work located prestigiously in the Seattle Center.
Chihuly Art Glass and the Space Needle

I had visited the Glass Museum in Tacoma – amazing, yes. I have watched many a PBS special on the artistic wizardry of Mr. Chihuly around the world – impressive, to say the least.  I thought, “What could be at the Garden and Glass Exhibit that I haven’t already seen?” So, I took my time going to the new Chihuly Exhibition in the Seattle Center. 

It wasn’t until I was taking a ride up in the elevator of the Space Needle one evening that I realized from above the scope of Garden and Glass with its luminous, glowing, extravagant colors. Immediately, I developed a burning desire to experience it up close and personal.

A Glass Chandelier by Chihuly

What sets the Garden and Glass Exhibition apart in my opinion is the exceptional (superlative number three) way the glass is displayed for ultimate, mind-boggling impact (superlatives four and five). 

Chihuly's Glowing Bowls of Light

I couldn’t help overhearing the comments from my fellow viewers as no one could really suppress their feelings. “Every new room just gets better and better! It’s unbelievable!”


We gasped simultaneouly!

And of course, there were the gasps -- audible gasps upon the unveiling of each new discovery. Each “room” has a theme and as you work your way through the exhibit, the colors become richer, deeper and more vibrant.

As my daughter and I rounded one of the last corners to behold an unbelievably stunning display, we gasped simultaneously. Then we laughed at our shared reaction. I can only describe the glowing colors as “Wonderland on Acid”.

On occasion, I had to look away 
to the neutral walls surrounding the display 
just to catch my visual breath. 
Then I would go back in for another indulgent look.

I was surprised at how impacted I was by the art. To say it was a moving experience is an understatement but, as predicted, 
I am running low on superlatives.

Outdoor Garden at Garden and Glass

The Outdoor Garden of Glass

The outdoor garden, which unfortunately I did not see lit at night, is a delightful experience of creativity. Chihuly has intertwined works of art glass throughout the carefully chosen plants and flowers in a uniquely inventive display and the beauty is all encompassing. The contrast of glass and plant life is stunning.
Chihuly's stunning display and reflection.

It is my goal in this blog post to prod you -- push you -- 
urge you to include 
a visit to the 
in your busy schedule TODAY! 

And to anyone visiting the Seattle area – Garden and Glass is a MUST SEE. You will thank me, and your life and imagination will be delightfully enriched…

Visit the Garden and Glass Website.

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

A Visit to Misty Meadow Antiques in Gig Harbor

Visiting Misty Meadow Antiques Feels Like Stepping Into Grandma's Home and Garden…

If you're planning a visit across the beautiful Narrows Bridges, consider a stop-in at Misty Meadow Antiques on Soundview Drive in picturesque Gig Harbor.

A quaint, unassuming house welcomes you into a treasure trove of antique delights and discoveries. It doesn't matter whether you are a serious collector or just love to browse, Misty Meadow Antiques is guaranteed to delight.

Antiques by the Roomful in Gig Harbor...

Situated in an historic building, Misty Meadow Antiques houses 2200 square feet of vintage and antique treasures. It is cleverly divided into "rooms" as any house suggests.

• Upon entering, you will find the front living space sparkling with crystal, silver and white washed cabinets on one side, contrasted with rich wood furniture, black and gray-toned treasures on the opposite side. A visual feast…

• Make sure to visit the Mantiques room where you'll find antique tools, weapons, military and hunting items and the like…

• Get lost in the library, filled with vintage games and intriguing, old books…

• There's a sewing and laundry room, both filled to the brim with linens, antique quilts, vintage aprons, irons, sewing machines, buttons and much more…

• There is also an upstairs Tea Room with delicate cups and saucers and teapots for every taste…

Just Like Grandma's Garden...

As you make your way through the house, you will come at last to the Garden Room which features wicker furniture, antique windows, garden accessories, shells and much more. From there you will not be able to resist your final visit to the Garden! Just as Grandma would have designed it.

Once in the Garden, as you look beyond the vintage roses standing nobly in their bed, you will see the barn filled with - well, barn-stuff. Don't be afraid to snoop around and find that rustic treasure you've
been looking for…

Allow yourself plenty of time to browse Misty Meadow Antiques

You might even run into the owners, Sharon and Zack McLees, who love to chat with visitors about their collections and antique interests…

So, when you're cruising down Soundview Drive toward the city center of beautiful Gig Harbor, don't forget to slow down and take the turn into Misty Meadow Antiques for a wonderful, leisurely visit back in time…

Open Wednesday through Monday from 11:00 - 6:00 pm.
Open Sundays from 12:00 - 5:00 pm.
Closed on Tuesdays.

Misty Meadow Antiques
6319 Soundview Drive
Gig Harbor, WA. 98335
(253) 851-3800

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