Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Paper Delights (which, incidentally, also had Halloween decorations that stopped me in my tracks). How pretty are these? Dwell Studio baby puzzles to Baggallini shoulder bags. I can't name all the goodies I found there because certain readers might find something from this store under the tree!
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Alphabet Soup. This kids' bookstore in a tiny blue cottage on Wallingford's N 45th Street is bursting with charm -- and books. From board books to the thick Harry Potter tomes -- both new and gently used -- there's something for everyone, including an amazing, carefully curated selection of vintage. The displays are clearly created with love. A week or so ago there was a case of picture books front and center celebrating the city's first snow of the season. Books about transportation are corralled in a boat-shaped bookcase. On fine days, racks of picture books on the sidewalk encourage browsers. A tiny table and chairs invite toddlers to explore the picture books in the cozy back corner. If you don't have kids to shop for, there is a small selection of books for grown-ups, and a large selection of exquisite vintage-style greeting cards. Also: Free gift wrap! Every detail of this store is so appealing that I practically quiver with delight every time I go in.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Boom Noodle, but the menu of soups, ramen and small plates is extensive. There's pho, udon, soba, pad Thai, yakisoba, okonomiyaki, pork buns, edamame, spring rolls...pretty much all the favorites. The coconut curry is served with fresh basil, jalepeno and bean sprouts that you can add to taste, a touch that elevates the experience above your average ramen shop. The cocktail menu is also enticing: shiso mojito, anyone? Bloody Mary-chan? Yuzu marguarita? There are three Boom Noodle restaurants in Seattle, but I've only been to the one in U Village, an outdoor mall inhabited by retailers like Crate and Barrel and Pottery Barn. Due to its convenience for shoppers, this branch tends to attract a high percentage of families and children, but the spartan interior is lovely and serene.
Costa's Restaurant in the U District. Today's breakfast of a Greek scramble, with olives, onions, spinach and feta, had just the right proportions of everything. And you can get fruit instead of hash browns! The Greek salad is also just right, and Oscar's favorites are the Avgolemono (chicken soup with rice and whipped egg-lemon sauce) and the prawns and spaghetti. Chris favors the gyros. The decor is certainly lacking, reminiscent of an '80s fern bar, and on weekends Costa's fills with purple-clad students and parents headed to the UW football games. It's a roomy, family-type place with hearty portions, free coffee refills, and lots of newspapers and magazines to linger over. Perfect for family dining, but I would also happily eat here by myself.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Monday, November 21, 2011
Wide World Books & Maps. It's a browser's paradise with the usual useful and latest gear, but also other delights of fine design and even a thoughtfully curated selection of novels for those of us who travel only via armchair.
Friday, November 18, 2011
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Isla, who recently turned 3 and lives across the street, is obsessed with eating kale. Specifically, kale casserole that her parents buy at some fancy-pants grocer. I've tasted it, and it's delicious, so I tried something similar based on trolling the Internet. Here's how to make it:
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Wimpy Kid series. Volume 6, which hit store shelves yesterday, had a first printing of 6 million copies. Every kid in Oscar's peer group seems to have memorized the entire series, and Oscar still rereads his collection about once a month it seems. Surprisingly, I saw Cabin Fever in the neighborhood grocery store yesterday (guess its market penetration is not in danger!) and picked it up for
incentive a bribe for Oscar to clean his room. It worked -- he ran up the stairs as soon as he saw the tempting tome and even made his bed!
When the first Wimpy Kid movie came out, I heard a lot of criticism about the protagonist Greg's reprehensible behavior. Yeah, he's a jerk. That's why it's funny, people!
As for Jeff Kinney's latest, I feel like he's redeemed himself after an extremely disappointing volume 5 (The Ugly Truth). This book feels meatier -- although still a very quick read -- and funnier. Oscar ranks it between volume 3 and 4. Even though he doesn't believe the story, Greg is afraid to misbehave in front of a doll called Santa's Scout, which his mother told him reports back to Santa at the North Pole. Rowley and Rodrick have minimal roles this time, but baby Manny seems to be developing more of a quirky personality.
Any Wimpy Kid fans or foes out there? Which book series do you look forward to on release day?
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Monday, November 14, 2011
To Savor Tomorrow, set on a flight en route to the 1962 Seattle's World's Fair. It's a Cold War spy romp served with period-appropriate cocktails and cuisine. I loved the American agent posing as a Pan Am pilot who spoke mainly in mangled cliches, such as "There's more than one way to shave a cat." He also sang "Fly Me to the Moon" accompanied by a very accomplished pianist who played throughout the production. My other favorite things were the Russian agent Svetlana's accent and the provocative dance the stewardesses did while pantomining the safety instructions.
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Starbucks. My new dentist sent me a gift card for referring Chris and Oscar as patients, and I'm not gonna let it go to waste! And actually, as much as I like supporting independents, I do enjoy sitting in the comfy armchair at Starbucks, reading the paper and sipping my latte, occasionally glancing out the window to watch the people walk by. The employees are efficient and pleasant. And since Starbucks was founded in Seattle (the original branch is in Pike's Place market!), I feel like it's an integral part of the Seattle experience. *With apologies to Chris, who detests Starbucks' coffee and all its food products, although he does like the company (it provides good benefits to all its employees), the restaurant interiors, and how well it's managed .
Friday, November 11, 2011
Off the Wall School of Music's funky aesthetic before we even moved to Seattle, when I was trolling the Internet for piano schools. Now Oscar is taking lessons there once a week. Dynamite by Taio Cruz and is now obsessed with the videogame theme Mario Underworld. If you live in Seattle and want to check it out, they offer a free lesson! A real one for half an hour! If you end up signing up for lessons, tell them Oscar sent you and he'll get a free lesson too. Win-win, right?
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Jae Hun Kim Taekwon-do Institute. The classes for kids are big, and it's so cute to see rows of white-uniformed kids doing synchronized moves. The head instructor Gailyn Perrin is amazing -- she comes across as kind, but totally no-nonsense and authoritative. When she issues a command, the troops yell "Yes, Ma'am!" in unison. This place is disciplined! It's in our neighborhood too, which has made it a lot easier to get to classes. * If you're not familiar with my headline, it comes from one of the best PlayStation videogames in history, Parappa the Rapper. Check out the YouTube video!
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Fresh Fitness is still one of my favorite discoveries in my neighborhood. Just a 10-minute walk from my house, this tiny, hidden dance and fitness studio (just one room with an attached kitchen/dressing room/infrared sauna area) is ideal for someone like me who just likes exercise classes -- not treadmills or weight machines. I've taken daytime Zumba classes from Dee and Michelle, who both have mesmerizing, graceful moves and gyrating hips, which I definitely cannot imitate. But my theory has always been that any activity is better than no activity, and they both make it really fun to shimmy around, burning calories to a blend of Latin/Bollywood/Hip Hop/whatever -- even if I'm not exactly performing on their level. I'm no Zumba expert, but the version of Zumba at Fresh Fitness seems much less Latin-influenced than the few Zumba classes I took in the Bay Area, which for me is a plus. As far as I'm concerned, the more variety, the better; I get bored easily. I'm pretty sure these classes would have simply been termed "aerobics" back when I was in college. I've also taken one Pilates Mat class and want to try the Cardio Kick, but they're offered at dinnertime, and I prefer to get my workout done earlier in the day. I'm also gearing up to get up by 6:30 so I can take something called Fresh Camp. The cost for Fresh Fitness is a little steep for me -- um, especially considering I'm unemployed -- (it's $90 for a 10-class punch card or $69/month; I've been using the punch card option), but, given the small class size, it's almost like getting a private lesson. I've been in a couple of classes with just one other student; most have a handful -- until more people discover this place, anyway.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
After living in the basically seasonless San Francisco Bay Area for 15+ years, I'm blown away by the colorful leaves that are everywhere here in Seattle. I grew up in Massachusetts, so it's not like I've never seen this phenomenon before, but oh. my. god. So gorgeous! The fresh crispness of the air -- and the chill -- take me back to my childhood. I'm enjoying scuffling through the leaves, and I'm lackadaisically wondering if I should perhaps rake them up. Maybe they're good for the lawn and garden? This picture is of a Japanese maple in my backyard, which is visible from Oscar's bedroom window. Lovely.