Tag Archives: Bellevue

What’s New and Cool in July, 2016

Fran’s Chocolates, So Tasty

Some astonishing flavors have originated here in Washington and chocolates made by Fran are one of my all-time favorites. She sold salted caramels before anyone else here and possibly in the nation. Hers remain the best overall with sea salt sprinkled on the top of the chocolate by hand.

Fran's Bellevue store

I’m not the only one who prefers Fran’s salted caramels. In 2003 her Gray Salt Caramels won the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade (NASFT) Outstanding Confection Award.

In 2005 her Smoked Salt Caramels won the same award.

Fran’s Chocolates have won numerous awards over the years.

On Food Network, Iron Chef Bobby Flay claimed the creamy Coconut Gold Bar his favorite confection on the show, “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.” The list goes on.

Fran’s Chocolates have been featured on the History Channel’s “Modern Marvels,” in People Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Savvy Magazine Japan, Martha Stewart and many more publications.

What makes these confections so newsworthy?

Fran Bigelow, herself.  She is dedicated to preserving the pure, clean flavor of chocolate. By building layers of flavor, she teases out the depth and complexity of chocolate. She uses small batch production and selects all natural and when possible organic ingredients, including sugar and almonds. Many ingredients she uses come from local Washington and Oregon farms including organic cream and butter. Only the finest cacao available from Venezuela, Madagascar and Ecuador is used in her chocolates.

Fran also makes truffles, chocolate-dipped fruits and a few flavors of chocolate bars. The coconut gold bar is her rendition of an Almond Joy candy bar. Boy did she hit that one out of the ballpark, but the sweet, buttery flavors of chocolate and caramel enhanced with a pop of salt will always be my first choice at Fran’s.

Stores are located in downtown Seattle, University Village and Bellevue.

2012 Easter display in Bellevue store

Bellevue’s KidsQuest Children’s Museum Fun for Adults

When I visited KidsQuest, I had to wear a sticker that said, “Unaccompanied Adult…and wishing I were a kid again!

How true. I just wanted to dig right in and play alongside the kids.

Kids Quest Children's Museum

The first area you come to contains “Waterways.” Our guide reminded us, “There is no wrong way to play with water.” The kids there at the time seemed to agree as they splashed and guided boats through the channels. Then I was distracted by a staff member playing with green slime.

Water play is fun at any age

The museum staff makes their own slime, which takes on some very elastic properties.

So many play areas, so little time. I ventured into the Hard Hats Area without a hard hat, where I became mesmerized by this special green sand called Moon Sand that stuck together so you could make balls out of it. On to fiddling with nuts and bolts.

Unfortunately I couldn’t drive the semi-truck in the Large Science area as the driver’s seat was occupied. But I heard the driver turn the key and the sound the truck made.

When you go, don’t forget to try the scarf shooter. The scarf wends its way through all kinds of tubes and comes back to you, usually behind where you’re standing.

Currently the museum is located in the Factoria Square Mall, but it has outgrown the space and will soon be moving to downtown Bellevue.

KidsQuest is free the first Friday of the month between 5 p.m.-8 p.m.

I can’t wait to take my granddaughter there so I don’t have to wear the “unaccompanied adult” sticker and can play to my heart’s content.

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?