Monthly Archives: June 2011

Fair and Festival Season

A train that took people around the outskirts of Meeker Days

We just started fair and festival season in Washington and last week my husband and I attended Meeker Days in Puyallup. Billed as the largest festival in Pierce County, it certainly lived up to its name. You’d walk down a main street lined with booths only to find all the cross streets also full of vendors just about as far as the eye can see. They had a building full of exhibits, also. And live entertainment, lots of food, a beer garden and a car show. There could have been more, but my feet started talking to me and telling me to sit down so I didn’t cover all the territory.

One of the vendors sold bird houses with swimming pools. Lucky birds.

I love the fairs and festivals we have around here. For some reason all the best ones usually fall on the same weekend and I’m not sure why that is. They are just good old-fashioned fun.

Here are some of my favorites and when they take place this year:

Kent Cornucopia Days, Kent. July 7-10:  Dragon boat races, a run, crafts and more.

Capital Lakefair, Olympia. July 13-17:  Carnival, entertainment and food with a Candyland theme this year.  

Sequim Lavender Festival, Sequim. July 15-17. Self-guided tours of farms, a street fair and all things lavender.  

Bellevue Arts Museum Arts and Fair, Bellevue. July 29-31. Live entertainment, hands-on kid’s activities and lots of outdoor art.  

Morton Loggers’ Jubilee, Morton. August 11-14. We celebrate everything here including lawn mower racing and lumberjack skills.  

Auburn Good Ol’ Days, Auburn. August 12-14. School reunions, a fun run, car show and a honey bucket building contest.  

Tacoma Maritime Fest, Tacoma. August 27-28. Boat building, awesome harbor boat tours, live music and Almond Roca.

What is your favorite fair or festival and why?

Mount Rainier, a Spectacular Beauty

Near Graham, Washington

She’s the definition of majestic and our grande dame of natural beauty. Mount Rainier starkly contrasts to Mount St. Helens. Both are major volcanic icons. But Mount Rainier hasn’t erupted yet so she stands tall and snowcapped. Natives say, “The mountain is out,” when the sky is clear and she towers over us. She is “the mountain.”

We’re always in search of the best place to see Mount Rainier – one of those is driving south on First Avenue South in Federal Way. I’m sure there are plenty of others, too, depending on which side of her you’re looking at.

At Visit Rainier you can find out all about lodging, restaurants, Mount Rainier National Park, hiking and Paradise. That is the actual name for one of the entrances to the mountain – Paradise. So very appropriate.

You can spend the night in lodges at the historic Paradise Inn or the National Park Inn where you can see glaciers, stunning waterfalls and wildlife all within a few steps of your room. At the Jackson Visitor Center you can join in a ranger-led tour and learn all about this volcano.

Other summer activities include mountain biking, fishing, horseback riding and mountaineering. If you go, plan to spend at least the day. Mount Rainier may look like a white ice cream cone you can reach out and touch, but it’s actually about a three-hour drive from Seattle. Or you can take a tour with Evergreen Escapes and let them do the driving.

If you come to Washington and want to see the best of the best that we have to offer, go to Mount Rainier.

Outstanding Customer Service: Johnny’s at Fife

My husband and I tend to frequent the same restaurant, Johnny’s at Fife, every Sunday for breakfast. The food tastes good and when we ask for it prepared a special way, that’s what we get. They know us by name and that we’d rather have a table than a booth. My husband’s order never changes so they just check it with him in case he might want a change. He never does.

The servers also know I’m trying to lose weight and most of the time will substitute fruit for hash browns. But they always check because I don’t always order the same menu item.

Today, we overheard an outstanding example of customer service at this same restaurant. If you sign up for e-mail’s from Johnny’s at Fife, you frequently get buy-one-meal-get- one-free coupons. (Just one more reason to love them.) An older couple who probably didn’t have a great deal of computer experience had printed off the e-mail saying they had a coupon coming, but not the actual coupon. Instead of telling them, they couldn’t use their coupon, the manager took one of them to her computer and showed them how to log on to their e-mail and how to print off the coupon. Then they were able to get one meal free.

That, to me, is very robust customer service. So often, you hear “Sorry, but you can’t do that,” or “No substitutions” and other negative comments. Not many restaurant personnel go that extra mile.

Johnny’s at Fife has been in business for more than 43 years. It was voted “best diner in 2010” in the Best of Fife, Milton and Edgewood.

More recommendations:  The police eat there, and they have real roasted “Thanksgiving-like” turkey.

Cranberries: Treasured Berries

Cranberry wine at the Cranberry Museum and Gift Shop

You probably think cranberries grow in water like the ad for Ocean Spray depicts on TV. Actually flooding the cranberry bogs with water is one way that they are harvested. They can also be dry harvested.

Most of the cranberries grown in the Long Beach Peninsula area of Washington are sold to Ocean Spray. Other commercial cranberry producing states include Oregon, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Wisconsin. Because the soil and climate of Long Beach closely resembled that of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where commercial cranberry production was already established, Anthony Chabot cultivated cranberries in Long Beach in 1883.

Cranberry harvesting equipment


If you’d like to learn about the history of cranberries, Long Beach boasts a Cranberry Museum and Gift Shop. See what role the cranberry industry plays in the economy and look at historical artifacts and equipment built and used especially for cranberry farming.

Celebrating the cranberry is a regular event in Long Beach, with the Cranberrian Fair Harvest Festival. This year it takes place October 8 and 9, 2011. Foods, crafters, bog tours, and more will showcase the area’s rich heritage during the 91st Annual Cranberrian Fair. Collectible Cranberrian Fair buttons will sell for $5 each and cover admission to all events.

A cranberry bog in May

If you love this antioxidant-rich, scrumptious berry, here’s a recipe The Shelburne Inn makes:

Cranberry Raspberry Mousse

From The Shelburne Inn

1 12-oz package cranberries
1/3 cup sugar
¼ cup water

Place cranberries, sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil slowly until berries “pop” and sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat and reserve.

1 ½ cups cranberry “sauce” from above mixture
2 cups raspberries, frozen but beginning to thaw
½ cup cranberry juice
2 Tablespoons unflavored gelatin
8 oz cream cheese, softened
8 oz “Crème de la Chevre” from Jumpin’ Good Goat Dairy
1 cup sugar
2 ½ cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla

Place the 2 Tablespoons gelatin in a small  pan with the cranberry juice and stir it in. Set it aside to soften, about 5 minutes. Heat slowly to dissolve the gelatin and allow this mixture to cool.

Beat the cream cheese and “Crème de la Chevre” with the sugar. Combine the cranberry sauce and frozen raspberries. The heat of the sauce will help thaw the raspberries. Add one half of the berry mixture to the cream cheese/sugar mixture. With the mixer running slowly, add the softened, dissolved gelatin mixture. Then gently fold in the rest of the berry mixture.

Whip the cream  and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Fold it into the mousse and the spoon it into glass serving dishes. Chill if not serving right away. Top with whipped cream made with heavy cream whipped with powdered sugar and vanilla. Optional: you may add a little cinnamon to the whipped cream.

Yield:  12 large servings or 20 small.

Close Encounters at the Cougar Mountain Zoo

Last weekend we finally got around to visiting the Cougar Mountain Zoo in Issaquah and it was a delight. The grounds are kept extremely clean and well landscaped. Viewing the animals doesn’t require binoculars and in some cases you’re allowed to feed them special food.

Why it is so entertaining to watch alpacas eat chunks of apples, I don’t know, but it sure is. I often wonder if the zoo animals feel the same way about us humans.


This zoo is one of the smaller ones, which makes the experience a bit more intimate plus a little easier on the budget. Zookeepers roaming the grounds are eager to talk with you and answer your questions.


To ensure a good quality of life for their animal residents, the Cougar Mountain Zoo exhibits just ten different kinds of animals – cougars, lemurs, cranes, reindeer, macaws, wallabies, flightless birds, alpacas and tigers. Throughout the day zookeepers offer information-rich presentations on these different animals at the Wildlife Theatre.

Of course, the Wild Treasures Gift Shop features toys, gifts and educational items. But this zoo also has a Fine Arts Gallery and a Wildlife Museum.

If you’d like to get closer to the animals, a number of “close encounters” are available for an additional charge. Tigers, cougars, mule deer and reindeer are all on this list. With the reindeer encounter you help the zookeeper prepare their food, clean the habitat and barn, and then feed them. Then you assist in exercising and training one of them.


If you’ve not had a chance to visit the Cougar Mountain Zoo, I suggest you put it on your to-do list.