Spring Has Come Finally!

Spring has finally arrived here in Seattle! As the cherry trees blossoms awash the area in whitish-pinkish color, there are many signs of spring has finally here! The tulips are starting to come out of their slumber, and the yellow heads of daffodils are shining brightly through the gray days of spring. Finally after a roller coaster ride of a winter season, spring has come.

While large crowds crammed themselves into the University of Washington’s quad full of cherry trees, the Washington Park Arboretum and the Japanese Garden’s cherry trees where in bloom minus the large crowds. For four hours I walked the winding paths through the different gardens soaking in the spring sunshine with the cherry trees and dogwood trees in full bloom.

Unexpected find in the rhododendron garden! These beauties are Camellias. They are a broad leaf evergreen shrub with pink, white and red large showy flowers. I want to have these in my garden one day!

Photography done on a Samsung Galaxy S9 phone.

The Seattle Snow Apocalypse

The storm had a name. Like a hurricane, the snow storm was called Maya. Maya had come to this part of United States, just as Lucian did in the Midwest and the East Coast. Our polar vortex, and one which involved ice sheets on hills.

The first round of the snow came Sunday evening during the Superbowl game. At this point, people were already at home either watching the most boring Superbowl game in history or like myself taking a nap with the cat after a busy morning at church. I did not miss much, only the fact the only entertainment came during the half time show when Adam Levine took his shirt off. As the game slowly progressed to the end with the enviable of the Patriots winning again (insert eye roll), the snow was starting to stick to the ground and piling up. Even Maddie the Maine Coon did not even want to go out in the snow (Maine Coons are built for snow!).

Starting to snow!

Come Monday morning there was snow still falling on the roads and low viability for many trying to commute to work early in the morning. I decided to stay safe and worked from home. There was no way I was going to get out of the driveway on a hill with an ice sheet under without crashing into a neighbors car. Come Tuesday morning I braved the cold icy roads to get to work. Yet this snow storm was not going to let all of us in western Washington off the hook easy. Nope! Another snow storm was coming our way again Friday afternoon.

Birds enjoying the snow

For the rest of the week leading up to Friday, there was a lot of checking the weather reports, consulting The Weather Channel app, and checking Cliff Mass’s weather blog for updates on what was deemed “the snow apocalypse” of 2019. Thursday afternoon I was getting updates from Instagram and Facebook showing the crazy long lines at area grocery stores of people stocking up on supplies to ride out the storm heading our way. By the time Friday morning rolled around there were empty shelves and one Safeway completely trashed from people going crazy.

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Photo: The Seattle Times

Makes you think vintage/ homesteading skills need to be tough to children and adults after witnessing this chaos.

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Photo: My Ballard

Friday morning I did not have the luxury to stay home, so I went in to work at 6 am to get stuff done before the snow was to hit. The lab I work in has these large windows that see out into the parking lot and at roughly 12:30pm the large flurries of snow started in Bothell. The food truck schedule that day was only there for 45 minutes before it left in a hurry. By 1pm our building and lab had a few scattered people around trying to finish the days work before leaving. One co-worker snagged the last show shovel on her way to work that morning and was ready to conquer the snow at this point as she carried it around with her the whole time. When I finally left at 1:30pm the snow was starting to stick in the parking lot. By this time the roads in and around Bothell Canyon Park area were packed solid from everyone trying to leave all at once. It took roughly 30-40 minutes to get out of the area as the snow kept coming down. It became an hour and a half commute home in the end.

Traffic Jam In Canyon Park Bothell

Saturday I woke up to a little bit of snow coming down. In the afternoon it was time to clear the driveway and the vehicles of snow. The neighbors around started to shovel the drive ways and even their patch of the street out front to help with traction.

The block during shoveling fest

All the snow shoveling called for a nice cup of homemade hot chocolate and some nice homemade shepard’s pie.

Sunday church was cancelled, but our pastor was creative in recording a condense version of the sermon for the day. After digging out the driveway on Saturday, we managed to drive to the grocery store for some necessities. Eggs and potatoes were still out of stock, and people were still freaking out and buying a months worth of food (which will go to waste in a few days!!) after a third storm was coming through. We managed to get some milk and English muffins knowing we still had food at home.

Woke up Monday morning to an email from work saying they were open, but please use extream caution when coming in. With another round of snow heading into the afternoon, I decided to work from home.

A foot of snow!

The snow has been piling up over the last couple to days to the point that some of the snow drifts have a total of eleven inches to one foot of snow in some parts of the yard!

Even the gnome is over this weather!

After this week is over I will probably not want to see snow again for some time! Having semi cabin fever is taking a toll. There is only so much I can do at home when it comes to work (I work in the science industry-lab work) on a laptop. Hopefully storm Maya decides to head out of Western Washington for good.

Good thing out of all this snow, having a lot of water for summer months!

Christmas Of Years Past

This girl may have been watching too much Hallmark Channel Christmas movies and now it may have gone to her head… a little. Christmas time for some reason makes past eras (1800s anyone?) seem closer than any other time of year (except for baseball season).

Image result for Miss Bennet: Christmas at PemberleyLast year a friend told me about the Meeker Mansion being all dressed up for Christmas in a Victorian theme. Every year the Meeker Mansion opens its doors day after Thanksgiving through eighteenth of December to the public for a special holiday exhibit. This special Christmas showing raises funds for the Puyallup Historical Society’s upkeep and repairs of this old historical home.

It has been a very long time since I have been down in Puyallup (last remembered 2011). When you have all the Christmas shopping done early, and need to get out of the Seattle holiday madness, go further south.

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The Meeker Mansion sits in the old part of Puyallup as a relic from a time long gone, and every year the mansion is decorated for Christmas in the late Italianate Victorian style. Ezra Meeker the man the Victorian mansion is named for was a leading pioneer (physical parts of the Oregon Trail exists today because of him), first mayor of Puyallup and the “Hop King” of his day (Washington Hops).

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Photo Credit: bookwormhistory.com

During Christmas season the house is dressed up for a Victorian Christmas. Each of the seventeen rooms on the tour are decorated ready to receive guests for a Christmas house party at any moment.

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Even the kitchen is decorated for the holidays!

Today the mansion is still undergoing painstaking work to bring all the rooms back to original decoration during the time when the Meeker’s were in residence. At the time the first and second floors of the house are completely finished to include period era furniture with all the trappings of grand house at the turn of the century. The third floor, unfortunately, is not open for exploring.

20181123_133045.jpgThe house around the time of it being built had modern convenience of having electricity and running water. As you can see the tree is plugged into an outlet in the wall that is original to the house.

Cannot have a real Victorian Christmas without a piano. This one was waiting to for Silent Night to be played.

Scene out of many of those Christmas cards!

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A little crowed at the beginning to day, but my the time I got to the first floor most of the people were already gone. I would recommend coming a little later in the day as it is not so much crowed.

Avoid The Porch Pirates This Holiday Season

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Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

It’s the holidays and you know what that means? Presents go missing off the porch or even under the tree or whatever you put presents under! In the past you could have a package dropped off on the porch without a problem, but those days are long gone!

Porch Pirates or as you can call them……thieves have shown up in neighborhoods across the country!

Nothing can ruin the holiday cheer like a person walking up to your house and steal in broad daylight something from you. Here in the Seattle area there has been an increase of packages missing, outdoor objects disappearing, car and home break-ins, that have caused many neighbors to start installing security cameras and the Ring doorbell to deter or catch these people in the act.

Still, there are simple things to do to protect those packages during the holidays and year round.

1. Get a P.O. Box
It is a federal crime to steal someone else’s mail or packages. BUT, it has not stopped people! A few years ago I signed up for a P.O. Box at the local post office after mail started disappearing out of the street mailbox. Anything deemed to be important (bills, banking, birthday cards, etc.) is sent to the P.O.Box and anything not important (advertisements, catalogs, etc.) goes to the street mailbox. Any packages sent to the P.O. Box will be held securely in a locked box and the key along with the notification will be put in your P.O. Box for you. Anything that is too big would be held securely with a notification to pick it up put into the box as well.

2. Send It To Work
Some employers allow employees to send their packages to their work’s address. My current employer gives this option to all employees to send their personal packages (things consider valuable or health related) to the shipping receiving department. This option is only secure as the environment you work in. 

3. Amazon Lockers, Amazon Hub & BoxLock
Amazon Locker is a self-service parcel delivery service offered by online retailer Amazon. Amazon customers can select any Locker location as their delivery address, and retrieve their orders at that location by entering a unique pick-up code on the Locker touch screen. However, certain third-party sellers on Amazon may not be able to ship to an Amazon Locker, due to their use of other shipping services such as FedEx or UPS that require a signature. Amazon Hub is a delivery locker for apartment lobbies. The delivery locker accepts packages from all carriers (FedEx or UPS).

The BoxLock is a new app-based lock connects with delivery companies designed to prevent theft of delivery packages left by the front door. In addition to the anti-theft aspect, packages are protected from bad weather. When couriers get to your house, they scan the package for their system (they all use handheld mobile scanners) and then scan the label with the BoxLock. Once the label is approved by the lock, it opens and allows the driver to leave the package inside. After you get a notification of delivery.

4. UPS Stores
If you know the carrier is UPS, you can have it held at the UPS store location for pick up. Customers receive a notification telling them their package is ready for pickup at any of their 9,000 store locations.

5. Signature Required
By having a signature required, shippers cannot leave the package without a signature from you. UPSP recommends this for those who will not be able to receive the package at a certain location (home).

Or get a whole new security system

 Ring Doorbell System & Google’s Nest System
I have seen recent notifications on Facebook about neighbors sharing neighborhood watch videos from their Ring doorbell. If it was not for one said neighbor I may not have known there was a suspicious man walking up to people’s houses when no one was home on our block! The same goes for Google’s Nest system. I friend of mine recently installed on for her home and she has a peace of mind now after her house was broken into. I know there will be a security system in my stocking this year!

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Ring Doorbell

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Google Nest Doorbell

With these simple ways of protecting against package thievery from ruining the holiday cheer, you will have a merrier holiday season!

 

Disclosure: This post does not contain affiliate links or paid advertisement for the products mentioned above. I do not make a commission on any of the above products.  All opinion are my own!

Falling In Love With Bivalves

A long time ago I had some very bad mussels dish at a fancy seafood restaurant which was the reason I never touched certain bivalves. Clams where the only thing I would eat with a shell in this department. This all changed when I toured the Penn Cove Mussel Farm on Whidbey Island and Taylor’s Shellfish Farm in Bow. Not only did I get to sample fresh mussels, clams, and oysters, but I learned more about how each farm raises them in the most sustainable ways possible. I even was able to see a geoduck up close, something very few of us are afford in a restaurant.

Penn Cove Shellfish Mussel Farms

To get to the mussel beds out in Penn Cove, I had to board a boat at the old Coupeville Wharf. This is the famous wharf everyone has to take a picture of for social media, and on this morning, the wharf had a coastal seaport asleep vibe waiting to be awoken by the sun.

DSC00353Once in the boat, I sported the most stylish bright orange life vest and off towards the mussel beds we went. Once in the area, we saw mussel beds loaded down into the water with harbor seals lounging on top looking very happy. Most of the beds at the time had small mussels growing, but a few of the beds were big enough to harvest. It takes about a year for a mussel to grow the size for harvesting.

DSC00334DSC00311IMG_3299DSC00331Penn Cove Shellfish Mussel Farms grows more of a native mussel to the Pacific Coast-Penn Cove, but they also grow Mediterranean Mussels as well. The mussels are grown mostly in their Penn Cove location, but they also grow other shellfish like clams and oysters at their other location in Willapa Bay.

DSC00341After the tour was finished, our group received a 15lb bag of mussels to bring back to share with our friends.

DSC00395Interesting fact: mussels are more popular in Belgium, Netherlands, and other landlocked German-Franco countries. The first mussel farm on the west coast of the US was established in the 1970s and is Penn Cove Shellfish Farm.

Taylor Shellfish Farms

DSC00589When you hear Taylor Shellfish Farms, you may think of the Oyster Bars popping up all over the Seattle -Bellevue area of recent. But the real treat is to visit the location of the farm itself off Chuckanut Drive in Bow. Here you can have a taste of oysters while enjoying the view of the oyster growing beds and seeing first hand how those oysters are harvested.

DSC00593Here I tasted the different types of oysters grown and got an up close look at a delectably, the goeduck which goes for $70 lb which translates into $80-100+ at a seafood restaurant! I really wanted to try a small piece just to see why people want to eat this, but only if you buy one.

DSC00608DSC00611What does a person do with a geoduck? This even sparked some… let’s say.. inappropriate jokes regarding what a goeduck looks like. Even a shirt being sold in the market store played on this inappropriate joke. Pacific Northwest native the geoduck is known as “the good time clam.” Yep, I typed that!

IMG_3660IMG_3671The famous oyster shells are spread all over the ground outside which goes to show how close from tide to table really is.

Overall, I do believe I will be eating more bivalves in the future. Spending a whole day touring both shellfish farms was a treat, by had the opportunity to see how sustainable shellfish farming is and how it contributes to a healthy environment in our water ways, all the while eating homegrown shellfish in the process.

Nordic Museum (Nordiske Museum)

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Courtesy the Nordic Museum.

Last year the Nordic Museum was located in an old brick school building crammed with all sorts of mementos and artifacts from all over Scandinavia. I remember walking through the rooms each telling the story of the Nordic people through old sea trunks and family heirlooms donated to the museum by generations of Nordic people living in the Seattle area. Just imagining how each artifact displayed told a story of the one who brought it to their new life in America. Back then it was called the Nordic Heritage Museum. Today it is simply called the Nordic Museum.

Photo by Dan Morris. Courtesy the Nordic Museum.

May 5th, 2018 the Museum opened it’s doors to the public with Nordic leaders from across a few of the Nordic countries officially opening the museum. I would have loved to have been there for the grand opening to meet Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, but I had to graduate from Northwest University on the day. Instead made a visit during the week after the grand opening to view this brand new museum.

Photo by Dan Morris. Courtesy the Nordic Museum.

The museum integrates Nordic sensibilities into every aspect of its physical design. It involves around four core themes based on the key values that connect the Nordic countries with the Pacific Northwest. (Nordic Museum)

Today The Nordic Museum has a new location in the heart of Ballard’s market street close by to the Ballard Locks. Here the building is designed in the Nordic/ Scandinavian design resembling the clean airy look most Scandinavian design is known for, simple and natural look. Inside, the main corridor is done to look like a glacial fjord with the second-floor exhibits connected by sky bridges to symbolize crossing from old to new Nordic life, a theme the museum draws together as the main concept. The large welcome map carved into the walls of the fjord of the Nordic countries towers over the hall as visitors walk down the corridor to the first gallery.

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The first gallery is the Nordic Orientation Gallery where the visitor is introduced to the Nordic countries: Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Faroe Islands, Aland Islands, and The people of Sami. The striking thing about this gallery is how little did I know of other countries considered Nordic. I had always thought the first six countries on the list as real Nordic countries, but never thought of Faroe, Aland Islands as separate Nordic countries (both are associated with Denmark) and the people of Sami (Sweden where they reside). There are interactive displays telling about each of the countries and the uniqueness of the people from those countries on what it means to be Nordic. I could identify with a few of the people describing the mindset of those who are Nordic. Like the meaning of hygge, and sisu.

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On the second floor is where the main galleries are located. In the Sense of Place Gallery, the room is set as if in a forest with pillows shaped as rocks to sit on and watch beautiful visuals of the natural world of the Nordic countries. This representation gives a sense of how passionate the Nordic people are about the natural world in which they live in and how nature plays a huge part in their daily lives.

Courtesy the Nordic Museum.

Nordic Journeys expands the Museum’s classic immigration story to include a broader understanding of Nordic life and culture as it has evolved over the last twelve thousand years. (Nordic Museum)

From there it moves on into the Nordic Region Gallery which tells the history of the Nordic countries from the very beginning to present day. Important events that shaped the region, the notable contribution each country made in the world (think Nobel-Peace Prize) and the struggles of the Nordic people the carve out an existence in a sometimes harsh environment. This harsh existence would eventually lead to families and individuals to leave their country of birth to immigrate to the United States. The Nordic American Gallery give the visitor an overview of how these immigrants shaped the United States, how they contribute to the building of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest region.

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Ballard where this museum is located in where the majority of Nordic people settled in the Seattle area. When I was a kid my parents always referred to the area as “little Scandinavia.” My family is Danish-British, but my Danish Great-Grandfather did not settle in Ballard area, instead made his way to Southern Oregon-Northern California. Later my Grandpa would join the Navy during World War Two in Seattle and my parents would move to Seattle area after getting married. Just seeing the old steamship trunks stacked up together, the mention of Ellis Island, and World War One, brought back the old stories Grandpa would tell me about my Great Grandfather who immigrated from Denmark to the United States back in 1910.

Courtesy the Nordic Museum.

I have always been proud of my Nordic heritage, and so the last gallery to explore of the Nordic Perspective tied together the reasons why my nature is openness, social justice, innovation, and a connection with nature is very strong in how I live my life.

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To make it even more Nordic, I had lunch at Larsen’s Bakery where I treated myself to turkey Havarti croissant with a raspberry Danish. I could live off Danishes if it meant never getting fat and the croissant was well worth the flaky pastry all over the table! I remember when I was little my parents would stop by to pick up Christmas Kringle and other Danish Christmas treats to celebrate. Guess the Danish in me still needs a fix.

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Overall the museum has an art gallery quality feel. I did not see much for little kids to do yet and some of the museums was wrapping up construction and the cafe (Freya) was yet to be open for business. This could be due to going during the opening week and so displays are still being added to. If you enjoy history or the Nordic culture, this would be a great museum to check out in Seattle.

Time for pillaging! (FYI: Ballard is a community in North Seattle with a very high Scandinavian population. Washington, USA):
I could not resist this!!

Information:

Nordic Museum

Larsen’s Bakery