Tag Archive: Seattle


I have to say that being from the North East it is amazing for me to be somewhere where I can see snow capped mountains on one side of me, the ocean on the other, and be in comfortable 50 degree weather in Seattle. On Friday Penny and I took a short half hour drive first to go see Snoqualmie Falls and then to climb Little Mount Si, a relaxed 2.2 mile hike to a 1,576 ft. summit with incredible views. This was the perfect hike to do as a afternoon hike or with kids (we saw many families including a little girl hiking in a tutu) and the view is definitely worth it, as one girl informed us on our way up. Here are some pictures from Snoqualmie falls and Little Mount Si.

Snoqualmie Falls. There was so much mist in the air from these powerful falls that it felt like it was raining.

Penny on our hike saying hi through a crazy root formation. Nature does do incredible things.

Penny and I at the peak. I think (?) that might be big Mount Si in the background.

More views from the peak of Little Mount Si.

Mountains in the distance on our way down.

I also finally made it to a rock climbing gym for the first time in many months. Although I am not as strong as I used to be it felt good to boulder and use my arms and upper body strength. I went to Stone Gardens Seattle, a large, impressive rock gym and I think I will try to go again before I leave Seattle.

***

A Sunny Tuesday led to Penny and I walking from the Ballard neighborhood all the way to Fremont, another funky, fun Seattle neighborhood and the home of the Troll, and the center of the universe. It was a beautiful day and a very pleasant walk. We found some wonderful little stores on our way, even some that Penny hadn’t noticed before, including one that sold beautiful little terrariums called Midnight Blossoms. It made me think, how cool would it be to have a terrarium built into a cob wall? It might have to be filled with non living things as my conversation with the store owner indicated that you really have to be able to open them sometimes to clean out condensation and mold. Or wouldn’t it be cool to have a ship in a bottle as a window in a cob house?

Anyway, there were some other fun architecturally inspiring things we saw on our walk as well. Here are a few pictures of a wacky building and some cement sculptures (they both have roofs over them so they totally could have instead been made out of cob!) and boast houses (now that is another appealing idea… a small, self sufficient, moveable house on the water…)

Funky apartment building

Cement sculpture under the bus stop

The Fremont Troll

The Fremont Troll

Fun brass sculptures of two clowns do-si-do ing

Boat houses across the way

A particularly cute boat house. That would be plenty of room for me!

***

Somehow, Tuesday wasn’t enough walking for us so today we walked all the way to Discovery Park, a 534 acre natural area. By the time we had walked there, done the loop trail through the park and walked back home we had walked almost ten miles! Discovery park was beautiful. Today was not as sunny as yesterday but the somewhat overcast threatening clouds added to a dramatic view from the park out over the water.

View from Discovery Park: Stormy clouds over the water

Another beautiful view from Discovery Park

Another beautiful view from Discovery Park

And one last view from Discovery Park

The wind was fierce at some points but the rain held off until just before we got back home. We finished off our day with a trip to Wide World Books and Maps, a travel bookstore, where we listened to a talk called Walking Seattle. I think our next long walk will be at Interlaken Park which is also close to the Washington Park Arboretum… That will be another good day of walking to look forward to.

But first I will be heading off to do a ten day silent meditation retreat. Yup, that’s right. Tomorrow I leave for a 10 day Vipassana Silent Meditation retreat. I am not quite sure what to expect but I am sure it will be transformative in some way or another. Wish me luck!

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So I am back in Seattle now for thanksgiving week with my old babysitter, Penny. We have been having a wonderful time here, eating delicious food, going on walks even when we have liquid sunshine (what Penny calls the rain), and other fun outings. My first full day in Seattle Penny took me to the Ballard farmers market. I love a farmer’s market just about anywhere, but I must say the Ballard market is quite a nice one. There was delicious fresh produce, meats and cheese, baked goods, artisans and crafts and lots of street performances happening. One that particularly touched my heart was a young little boy who could not have been older then 8 who was out playing music with his father and younger sister. As his father tuned some of the other instruments this little boy took the stage and began to strum and sing on his miniature guitar. What a beautiful thing to have such a little child empowered to stand in front of an audience of strangers and play. And the passersby loved it. This little eight year old boy was truly glowing.

After exploring the Ballard market we took the bus downtown to Pike Market, Seattle’s equivalent to Quincy Market  in Boston. Tons of little shops and stands selling everything from chocolate pasta (yes, I’m serious) to lobster tails bigger then any I have ever seen. And of course there was the famous tossing of fish that draws many tourists and made me think of the scene in the movie Free Willy when Jesse steals a fish from the market mid toss. Streets markets are a wonderful thing in my mind. They support small, independent businesses and allow customers to have actual relationships with those whom they buy from. They are such lively places and encourage human interaction and cultural exchange.

A few highlights from downtown were a man who was playing a violin as if it were a cello (and he played it as beautifully as any master violin player!), beautiful paper and wood lanterns that demonstrated outstanding craftsmanship, and a delicious sticky rice lunch with yummy goodies inside of it such as pork and egg. A very good first full day in Seattle.

Wednesday night, the evening before Thanksgiving day I got to introduce Penny to something new in her own town; Dances of Universal Peace. Dances, as I have come to call them are a wonderful thing that happens all around the world. I discovered them first in Ithaca, when Peter took me to one, and I have since been hooked. The dances, although originating in the sufi tradition, takes songs and prayers from almost every tradition and culture and puts them to music, adding simple movements that together create a often spiritual and profound experience. It is like prayer and meditation in motion. And it is a worldwide community that I can tap into just about anywhere I go. Singing together in a group has always felt powerful to me and when the songs have a certain prayer-full theme in makes the experience that much more profound. Sometimes I have found myself inexplicably moved to tears. In Ithaca the dances quickly became a comforting and healing monthly tradition for me and as I have been traveling I have have continued to seek them out wherever I am.

The next day was thanksgiving day and so Penny and I spent most of it in the kitchen, preparing the turkey, pumpkin pie, and stuffing, which would be our three major contributions to our thanksgiving dinner. Penny is an excellent cook and eats mostly gluten and dairy free and these were quite special dishes that I would love to share the recipes for. I have put most of our modifications to these recipes to make them gluten free and extra yummy in parenthesis:

Stuffing Recipe for a 15 pound turkey:

  • 2 one pound loafs of whole wheat bread, finely chopped in a food processor (we substituted with Udi’s gluten free bread and a mixture of other gluten free breads, such as ends of old loafs of homemade pumpkin, banana, or even corn bread.)
  • 2 cups of cooked basmati brown rice
  • 3/4 pound of italian sausage, baked separately (we used chicken sausage), finely chopped
  • 2 onions finely chopped
  • 1 cup of finely chopped celery
  • 2 cups of chopped toasted hazelnuts
  • 2 large fuji apples with skins on, grated (this helps keep the stuffing moist)
  • 3-4 tablespoons of sage (to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons poultry seasoning (to taste)
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste

Turkey preparation: We then stuffed this into the back and front of the turkey. Before seasoning the turkey we separated the skin from the flesh using our fingers and then we rubbed the flesh (under the skin) with fresh rosemary and thyme and stuck many thin slices of lemon under the skin. We rubbed the skin with a bit of apple cider vinegar and then we salt and peppered the outside of the Turkey and stuck it in the oven in a covered roasting pan at 350 degrees F. After about an hour we lowered the heat to 325 for the remainder of the time. The last wonderful touch that makes the skin deliciously crispy is about half an hour before done baking we took the turkey out and brushed it with a glaze of Pomegranate Molasses.

Pumpkin Pie Recipe, with Penny’s modifications to make it lower in fat and lactose free:

  • 2 cups canned pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (we left this out)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk (we used unsweetened soy milk instead)
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 3/4 cup whipping cream (we replaced this with 0% greek yogurt. I couldn’t taste a difference)
  • Penny’s addition which I thought was ingenious: finely chopped crystalized ginger, about 1/4 to 1/2 cup.

All of this is mixed together and poured into a pie filling of your choice. We also glazed our pie crust with apricot glaze made from 5 ounces of apricot preserves and 4 tables spoons of apricot brandy. This is then baked for 15 minutes at 425 degrees F and then for another 30 to 40 minutes at 350 degrees. Then, to top this all off there is  topping that is spread on the pie. The topping ingredients are:

  • 2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter (we used earth balance instead)
  • 1 tablespoon whipping cream (here we used soymilk)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt (we left this out since earth balance has salt in it)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

This deliciousness is spread evenly on the top of the pie and then the edge is bordered with whole pecans. We then broil this for just about three minutes or until the topping begins to bubble. Be careful not to burn here, it really only takes a minute or two!

I really enjoyed thanksgiving dinner, which was at Derek and Tony’s house- two of Penny’s good friends. Tony had made some delicious candied sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, and string beans, among other things to add to our contributions. Thanks giving has always been my favorite holiday; it is all about family, friends and food without the stress of presents.

Hello Seattle!

As I walked towards baggage claim in the Seattle/Tacoma airport I reviewed in my head where Penny had told me to meet her. She doesn’t have a cell phone so we had made plans for a very specific rendezvous point. Penny was my babysitter was I was little, but we haven’t seen each other since I was 7 years old, 15 years ago! Honestly, she was much more then a babysitter to me. She was part of the family, a mentor and a teacher. She was not your typical babysitter; there was never a dull moment with her. I remember going on many outings with her and doing many arts and crafts projects, including some amazing ones that I look at in wonder even today and don’t know how she got me, as a seven year old, to create such amazing things!

When I was seven years old Penny decided to move to Seattle and we have not seen each other since. But, amazingly enough, we have kept in touch. Penny, like me, is also a wanderer and traveler at heart. So when I took my first year off between high school and college and decided to travel through Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador I exchanged many e mails with her, asking her questions about what it is like to travel as a woman alone, what were some of her favorite places in those countries, and general travel tips. Since that year we have talked about someday seeing each other again, and now finally, almost four years later, I am in seattle.

I spotted Penny immediately, sitting in her silver-grey prius right where she said she would be. After big hugs of hello we she takes me on a wonderful little driving tour of Seattle and her neighborhood. The air here feels warm after being in Minneapolis. The city look modern and clean. Penny’s neighborhood, Ballard, feels cozy and progressive, with lots of cute little cafes, restaurants, and places advertising massage, and other holistic health practices. It is right on the water with the beautiful, snow covered olympic mountains visible across the Puget sound.

Penny and I are getting along fantastically. When we arrive at her house she shows me the amazing little cocoon  of a room that she has created for me. It is so adorable, with a bed, desk, lots of plants, and shelves full of books, many of which look interesting to me. We heat up a delicious meal of black bean soup, home made chick pea – edamame hummus, and some sweet potato salad. Mmmmm, so yummy. And of course, I got to try her delicious energy bars that she plans to soon be selling. They are rich and flavorful, almost like chocolate, but not too sweet and not at all dry. They taste healthy, but not too healthy- just like they are made of real, high quality ingredients, which they are. I think they might be the best energy bars I have every tasted!

Even though I have just arrived, the next day I will be heading out to the San Juan Islands for four days to learn the ropes and get a feel for my cob building apprenticeship with Ryan (more on this later). Then I will be back in Seattle for thanksgiving and more adventures with Penny before I go back to the islands!

There are two first impressions about Seattle that have struck me. One is that the people here seem really friendly. I have already had a conversation with with someone on the bus, a man who builds boats and is on his second sailing trip around the world, and a woman on the ferry, a holistic veterinarian who is thinking about moving to the islands. And people have been happy to help me find my way to the bus station, navigate the ferry’s and answer any questions I might have. The second thing that has struck me about the Ballard neighborhood in particular is that something about the aesthetics of the place remind me of Japan. Maybe it is the influence of the many Japanese people who do indeed live in Seattle, but I swear that something in the layout of the streets, the buildings and architecture, and the landscaping make me feel like I could be in Japan! I have a feeling that I will enjoy my stay here, especially if it is a strange melding of the two cultures of my parents.

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