Woodinville for wine AND whiskey

Woodinville is not just for wine.  In the countryside 30 minutes outside Seattle, known for the many wineries such as Chateau St. Michelle, there are indeed a great number of places to sip the vino.  However, don’t overlook the Woodinville Whiskey Co.  Get yourself a designated driver, then sip, shot and repeat.  Which is exactly what I did recently when Thom and I joined friends for a day of tasting wine AND whiskey.

First stop was Novelty Hill/Januik winery where we found a gorgeous facility with loads of outdoor space to enjoy your wine tasting.  With healthy pours of a tasting of any 4 (including $65/bottle wine) for $12, I started with Januik 2014 Columbia Valley Merlot (which I ended up buying a bottle to take home) followed by two King Cabs and finishing with their Syrah.  All very good and enjoyed with the company of our friends, Kurt and Ernie, who invited us along so we could be initiated in the ways of Woodinville.

Enjoying a short drive in Sexy Best with Thom as the designated driver, we stopped by Chateau St. Michelle just so I could see the beautiful grounds but it was too busy to wade through the crowd for a tasting.  I can see why people love coming here-gorgeous lawn where you are encouraged to buy a bottle and picnic with your family.  I haven’t ever attended one of their outdoor concerts but definitely hope to in the future now that we have a car and get around outside the city.

Nearby, Woodinville Whiskey Co was next on the tasting tour.  Learning about their varieties of whiskey,  Melissa explained how they use ingredients from the Pacific Northwest to produce their award-winning booze.  Ernie and Kurt are whiskey experts so they guided me, the whiskey virgin, through how to properly “smell” each tasting and savor the differences between each type.   Sweet and soft, I took home a bottle of the Straight American Whiskey AND their maple syrup aged in whiskey barrels.  I thought I had died and gone to heaven when they poured us each a shot of syrup with a vodka chaser.  My Belgium waffles (Trader Joe’s) that I love will only be better with this liquid gold on top that costs $20 a bottle and is well worth it.  So.  Good.

All in all, a successful day finally visiting the Woodinville area I had heard so much about but had never had the time to enjoy.  Thankful that Thom was at the wheel, we put the top down and let the sun shine down upon us while I slipped in a quick nap on the way home from our wine and whiskey tasting.  Can’t wait to try the other 130+ wineries and tasting rooms there.  So much wine, so little time!

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My designated driver looking good in Sexy Beast

 

Expect nothing, appreciate everything

Expect nothing, appreciate everything” is my go-to life motto that I have embraced for years.  Too often I’ve seen people who feel entitled and are unappreciative of the blessings they already have heaped upon them-good health, loving family, a stable job, etc. and instead are always looking for more, more, more because that is what they think will make them happy.  MORE.

Wake up, folks-no one is guaranteed anything.  I used to volunteer at Gilda’s Club in Chicago and hang out with cancer patients, serving dinner among other things.  They coached us to just say it like it is, “Cancer sucks and shit happens.  Fight it as hard as you can and appreciate each day we are given.”  Having been widowed at the ripe old age of 21, I can definitely  say that this tragic experience taught me to not sweat the small stuff and appreciate life.  As I reminded one of my bosses when we were discussing a challenging situation,  “no one died so let’s just chill and work it out”.  Many variables can affect our lives that we have no control over.  A 23 year old man is not supposed to die but he did.  So I’ve always tried to work hard, love big and expect nothing while appreciating the hell out of everything I do have and cherishing every day the little things in life like exploring a new city, reading a good book, warm socks, or dinner with friends.

Today as I served hundreds of hungry homeless guests at our Shared Breakfast, I was once again reminded to appreciate everything.  We were lucky to have received a donations of hats, gloves and socks for our guests that we will share throughout December.  Our guests were so thankful not only for the hot, nutritious meal we served to them at their table but the added bonus of these hats/gloves/socks which will help them stay dry and warm while living on the streets of Seattle.  Coming home to drawers full of socks, I imagined how it would feel to own only the socks on my feet.  I am so thankful for my ability to have a job that allows us to have not only socks but a warm home with food whenever we are hungry.  Others do not have this luxury.  If you feel so inclined and want to assist this great organization that is 100% volunteer-driven and where all donations go to buying food, you can go to this site and give to  Shared Breakfast.

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Shared Breakfast in downtown Seattle, serving hundreds of guests in need

 

As we travel to Boise to spend the holidays, I will love being with my family.  And I will  appreciate the lovely meals we will share and the gifts we will give.  But mostly I will appreciate our health, our love and our happiness to be all together as a family for even a short amount of time. That’s my true gift.   And I will never, ever take it for granted.  I will appreciate everything, every day.  Happy holidays all!

YSL Perfection at SAM

It was a dark and stormy afternoon with sheets of torrential rain coming down. In other words, a typical Seattle day-perfect for a stroll through the fantastic fashion exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum featuring Yves Saint Laurent in all his glory.  YSL truly experienced an amazing journey from teen fashion prodigy to world famous designer and this exhibit running through 1/8/17 invites you into his world of fashion through a behind-the-scenes look at the designer’s life.

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The exhibit is so much more than the 100+ gorgeous outfits that YSL created.  You can see his early sketches and paper dolls that he created as a teen fashion prodigy, the swatches and drawings that he used to create his collection, personal photos and much more.

YSL was born to create unique and original works of art that spanned a long and turbulent career.  Like most artists, YSL fought childhood bullying first and then, later in adulthood, depression and addictions while somehow creating masterpieces that you can now view at the Seattle Art Museum.  I loved seeing not only the final product but the genius behind the creations.

 

Trevor Noah Rocks The House

Few celebrities would draw a crowd as large as Trevor Noah during a busy Friday lunch hour in the workplace.  However, thousands of folks jammed the room for a chance to hear Trevor passionately speak about his atypical childhood living in South Africa, a time filled with challenges that few of us have experienced.  Born to a black mother and a white father, who left the family quickly, his tough upbringing in a society where he didn’t quite fit anywhere shaped who he is and how he views the world.  He was a fascinating and animated storyteller describing scenes from his new book, “Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood”, a memoir of the observations of his childhood in a country when apartheid was unraveling.

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Drafting off the “celebrity” status of a friend of mine who scored us front row seats, I got to view the talk up close and personal with no obstructions.  Thank you my friend!  Being that close allowed me to really observe the facial expressions and hand gestures of a wildly entertaining comedian who not only elaborated on his book but also shared his views on the craziest election any of us have ever seen but one that he predicted.  How might you ask could anyone foretell the “Coming of Trump”?  Growing up in a third world country, Trevor saw first hand how leaders would prey on people’s fears and anger, championing their darkest prejudices out loud in simple-to-understand sound bites.  Trevor told colleagues early on that Trump would go far in the election process given that he was a reality TV star of questionable morals who knew how to speak and connect to these uninformed voters, lying and promising them whatever they wanted, playing the “outsider” vs. the government who has forgotten about them and their economic struggles.

Similar to what Gloria Steinem told the audience when I saw her recently in Boise, Trevor also was emphatic that this segment of society that is following Trump won’t go away after the election no matter who wins and will need to be heard and their issues addressed for the country to heal and move forward.  He also suggested that what the U.S. needs is more than 2 parties to allow for more choices.  Should Bernie run as a Democrat?  No-he’s a socialist.  Should Trump run as a Republican?  No-he’s a nut but also probably a nationalist or alt-right candidate.  I get it but not sure this change will happen anytime soon.

Trevor elaborated on his other observations from this election cycle:  watching Trump move forward in the primaries was like having a front seat row to a “charismatic car crash” and that if he were elected, it would “press pause on all progress” that Obama has made the last eight years.   That people like Trump can “create” facts on the internet that people believe as gospel is flat out scary to Trevor.  The public is “engaged in a bubble of misinformation” the likes of which we have never seen before in the U.S.  Trevor takes his job seriously on The Daily Show because, as one attendee related during the Q & A, most millennials get ALL their news from The Daily Show.  To that comment, Trevor said,  “Comedy is the spoonful of sugar to make the news go down.” and “Laughter is the medication to get through it.”

While I enjoy comedy and, God knows we all need to laugh more, the stress of this election has been hard to take even when delivered by a comedian as smart and funny as Trevor.  Tuesday it will all be over.  Vote.

The Seattle Times review today of Trevor’s book was very flattering-read here:  Book Review

I. Miss. Thom.

Being married to your best friend is a wonderful thing.  The only problem with that is when your partner is gone, your soul feels incomplete.  Days are an empty vacuum without your sidekick accompanying you to take on life’s adventures.  Damn I’m lonely.  I.  Miss. Thom.

He’s been in Boise now for several weeks working on much-needed home renovations to a house we own.  While we did just hire someone to do the heavy lifting, Thom is doing much of the work himself.  It will be awesome when it’s done but, for now, we must live apart.  I am just finishing up working a second assignment at work in addition to my day job so my life in Seattle has been super busy no doubt.  Yet, when I started feeling sick this week I immediately started to panic.  Who will take care of me?  James is still living at home and has been a huge help with the daily walking of dogs but he can only do so much.  I need my Thom.

Drinking my morning coffee, going to the gym, watching endless political news, eating, shopping, cuddling with the pups-it all seems blah without Thom.  Married for 28 years, some couples by now would have formed tight friendships with others of their own gender and not rely on their partner so much but Thom and I are so happy with just being with each other that we haven’t really felt a need for that extended group of friends.  Quite frankly, we would really just prefer to be with each other.  I appreciate and like other people don’t get me wrong but Thom is just the funniest, smartest, kindest person I’ve ever met and I enjoy his company so much.  He’s hilarious and makes me laugh every day of my life.  Now, he gets to crack up Mia too!

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Mia and her GiGi taking a walk in Boise before getting ice cream.

 

And it’s not enough that Thom isn’t here and I’m lonely but I’m also terrifically jealous that he gets to be in Boise with our family, babysitting Mia when he’s not working on the house.  Yes, my daughter will miss her daddy and Mia will miss her GiGi when he has to leave and come back to me.  Oh, if we could just live in Boise full time!  Dream. Unfortunately the jobs there just don’t compare to Seattle and supporting my family means that this NaiNai needs to stay the course.   I will look forward to the holidays spent with the entire clan in Boise and many wonderful memories to be made.

 

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Thom’s scary costume for Trunk and Treat event in Boise where people decorate their car trunks and kids go around the parking lot to Trick or Treat.  Must be a Boise thing.

 

Hangin’ with Bruce…Truly The Boss!

“This will be the best 4 seconds of my life.”  Really???  My husband made this pronouncement this morning in advance of the upcoming meet and greet with Bruce.  What about…hmmm…the birth of your children, marrying me, etc.?  “Okay, the fourth best 4 seconds of my life.”  Better.  “What AM I going to wear?”  Oh, Thom, settle down.  Bruce is just a normal guy.  “No.  He.  Is.  Not.  He is THE BOSS.”  Okay, I get it and so the day began.

Social media is powerful and Thom and I are wired almost every hour of the day so we found out quickly that Bruce Springsteen was going to make Seattle one of the few stops on his book tour to promote his new autobiography, Born to Run. WOW.  At exactly 10 a.m. several weeks ago, we both were logged in to Elliott Bay Book Company with fingers poised and pounced on tickets (cost of the book) to get a ticket to meet Bruce, get a photo and a pre-signed book.  Sold out in several minutes, tickets were later going for up to $600 on StubHub and wannabes were circling the lines today to meet Bruce begging to buy tickets or be the “plus one” for a ticket holder to meet Bruce.  No way!

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Thom making friends in line

I have to say that Elliott Bay Book Company had a big challenge and they did an awesome job communicating the rules often and in advance of the big event, as well as being staffed well, organized and friendly on the big day.  We arrived at 10 a.m., 2 hours prior to the start time of the event and promptly got into a line with hundreds of others already lined up.  We promptly fell into conversation with a lovely couple, Ollie and Fletcher, who had come up from Northern California and Tacoma.  Fletcher told us stories of her dad’s love for Bruce and how, though her car had just been stolen and she was busy finishing up her degree, they had made time for this experience. Their dream is for Ollie to retire from her job and stay home to raise the kids they hope to have.  They were lovely and I hope their dreams come true.

Finally, as the line moved forward, we got our blue wristbands and hands stamped in the bookstore and moved to another line, the “blue” line.  By this time, we were two hours in and nature called. so off I ran to the nearest coffee shop while Thom held our place in line and made new friends, some old rockers who knew every Bruce song.  Making it back in time to continue our journey towards Bruce, Thom was still in an altered state, so excited to meet his rock hero.  We debated what to say in our 4 seconds with Bruce.   Thom settled on thanking him for writing the songs that made up the soundtrack of his life-from the heart and meaningful.

As we gained entry to the bookstore and out of the rain that had started, we saw signs proclaiming “180 more steps to Bruce” and so forth and posters where you could share your favorite song, where you were from, your favorite Seattle sight/restaurant, etc. to keep you engaged while inching closer to The Boss.  They even provided a “Spruce for Bruce” mirror to make sure you were still looking good for your photo opp.  Great job, Elliott Bay, you pulled off a wonderful experience for everyone.

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The bookstore staff quickly checked belongings and took your camera/phone from you so you were unencumbered and they could take the picture.  Bruce was warm and friendly just like I thought he would be.  Instead of a heartfelt comment, I chose to be honest but made him laugh with a sincere compliment, “You are TOO CUTE!” and then followed with a plea to keep the pressure on Trump.  Seriously, HRC needs all the help she can get.  He chuckled and hugged me tight and then we were done.  It was truly a great 4 seconds.  Afterward, we hopped over to EDM to get his new album that is the musical companion to his book that features 5 previously unreleased songs called, Chapter and Verse.

Bruce, it was great meeting you.  You are a spectacular talent and inspiration to generations of fans, including me.  Thom loves you too.  Well done.

Moving to the music with Foy Vance

Even with terrible jet lag and packed in like sardines with a standing room only sold out audience, I still managed to thoroughly enjoy Foy Vance’s performance  on his Wild Swan Tour at Columbia City Theater this week.  WOW.  What a talent to play in this small venue.  Foy pours his heart into his music, lifting your spirits so high you can’t help but smile and move to the beat.  Whether banging it out on the piano or jamming on his guitar, Foy has passion and energy to spare.  With a careful branding of his Irish roots, he has great style, sporting a handlebar mustache, traditional tweed cap and a cheeky glint in his eyes.

After just coming back from our Ireland vacation, it was a joy to hear that lilting Irish accent again.  As the Irish would say, Feck it sure it’s grand.  Yes, that’s what they say.  He and his band decided that, like most musicians, Seattle is a grand fecking place to play.  Of course it is.

Foy opened for Elton John’s tour in Europe and was the first artist to sign on with Ed Sheeran for his new label.  When I heard he was going to play at Columbia City, I was thrilled.  Boise friends, he is there this week so go see him!  He is that good. wp_20160928_21_39_51_pro-2

With a full band and a large voice, Foy would have been better suited at The Moore or Paramount theaters so hopefully next time he makes the long trip from Ireland, he will move up to a much larger hall so we can enjoy his soaring vocals and excellent band with room to breathe.  To say it was aromatic with all the sweating bodies after a long day would be putting it mildly.  Ewwww….

After standing for over an hour in my heels, my feet were numb but I just couldn’t leave quite yet.  I love all the songs on his new album and enjoyed seeing them performed live. 

Foy’s opening act was a shrill Bob Dylan wannabe who I could have lived without seeing.  Usually the opening acts I have seen in the last year or so have been truly excellent but that was definitely NOT the case here.  Only a lovely whiskey and ginger cocktail got me through that crap that he was throwing all over the stage trying to be artistically crazy.

Finally, the jet lag won out though and, knowing I had to work the next day, we left Foy singing his heart out on the stage.  Come back to Seattle soon, Mr. Vance.  You are a true talent.

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