Tag Archives: Seattle

Afternoon Tea

My daughter wanted to have a “girls” afternoon out and imbibe in tea and tiny finger sandwiches so I made reservations at The Secret Garden in Sumner, Washington. There, 75 different flavors of tea don the menu and the setting in a colonial style home couldn’t be more reminiscent of a slower time, less cell phone watching and excellent service.

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The “tea” meal was divided into courses. First came the pots of tea, which needed to steep a few minutes more after arriving at your table. My choice, Ambrosia, blended exotic fruits and coconut. It was as good as the menu promised.

You select from the menu a grouping of different items, much like the family meals at a Chinese restaurant. Three of us wanted the same grouping, while the 8-year-old preferred the children’s menu item with a main course of peanut butter and jam sandwiches, with the crusts removed, of course.

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Then came a sweet, flakey scone served with Devonshire cream, lemon curd and raspberry jam. After we’d finished the scones, we were given a scoop of mango sorbet to cleanse the palette. Then the showcase, the three-tiered tray of savory, sweet and sandwich treats, arrived.

Everything was presented in a beautiful and delicate way. You could tell much love and care went into the preparation. From the cucumber sandwiches to the pinwheels and quiches, nothing was left untouched by our table plus we needed a to-go box.

AfternoonTea20170325_123413copyReservations are recommended at The Secret Garden. Go early and peruse the lovely gift shop.

Other places where afternoon tea is served in this state:

Queen Mary Tea Room in the Ravenna neighborhood of Seattle

Cederberg Tea House in the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle

The Silver Spoon Tea House in Spokane

Brambleberry Cottage & Tea Shoppe in Spokane

Even more suggestions here.

 

It Happens All the Time

By Amy Hatvany

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I was privileged to receive the ebook version of “It Happens All the Time” from NetGalley. The author, Amy Hatvany, lives in Seattle and most of the book is set in Bellingham giving this novel two reasons to merit a blog post here on Discover Washington State. 

In the story Amber and Tyler have been best friends since they were teenagers, but recently started spending more time together than ever before. Amber is engaged to Daniel who is currently living in Seattle so they don’t spend much time together during the period when the novel takes place.

Amber has always considered hers and Tyler’s relationship platonic. But Tyler admits he has deeper, more romantic feelings for her. About the same time Amber begins questioning whether or not she’s ready to get married, the two of them attend a party. The alcohol flows freely and sexual tensions heat up between Amber and Tyler,

Told in alternating points of view, Amber questions whether or not she caused the terrible problem the night of the party by her actions and the way she dressed, while Tyler mostly doesn’t remember what happened. I want you to read the book, so I’m not giving anything else away.

Hatvany bravely pulled the topic highlighted in this book from an incident she experienced in her past. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to write, but it is a subject matter women wrestle with all the time so the story needs to be told.

I found the message captivating and the characters colorful. It was also fun to have actual places and street names in the Bellingham area used in the novel as I lived there for four years. It made me reminisce about my own college days.

With each new novel, Hatvany’s writing grows and flows. I look forward to her next with anticipation.

Expected publication date:  March 27, 2017

 

You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Kevin O’Brien

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After you’ve devoured this tantalizing thriller and shared it with your friends, it can easily double as a doorstop. Even at 536 pages, there’s no lagging or stagnation. It’s all action. O’Brien has carefully crafted another entertaining standalone.

When 17-year-old Spencer (with two last names) is released from prison after serving his allotted time for killing his parents, he goes to live with his aunt, Andrea Boyle. The two of them move to Seattle to start anew and hopefully avoid the stigma of Spencer’s past. Andrea meets and falls in love with Luke who also has a teenager, Damon. But Damon spends most of the time with his mother. That’s the main cast of characters, a number that’s easy to follow.

Damon becomes the first to blow up the novel, literally. When the bullies at school no longer have Damon to pick on, they turn their attention to Spencer. Then the fireworks have only just begun.

One Amazon reviewer said:  As with all O’Brien books, there is never a dull moment. He is able to hook his readers from the first page and never allows the story line to drag.

One Amazon reviewer raved:  Another wild ride from Kevin O’Brien! I was fortunately under the weather when my copy arrived so I had nothing else to do but read this fast-paced thriller…don’t even remember stopping for meals…

 O’Brien himself experienced bullying in high school so he knows what he’s talking about. My only beef with this book is the high body count. I didn’t think it was necessary.

Otherwise, I highly recommend “You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone” as a great way to spend a weekend. You may have to sleep with a nightlight on though.

With this Seattle author, and a story set in the Emerald City, you can’t go wrong.

 

 

 

What’s New and Cool in July, 2016

Ride a Washington State Ferry

Until I’d read enough articles telling me I should be more businesslike with my email names, mine started with ferryprincess@. I love ferries and feel privileged to live in the state with the largest ferry system in the US. Besides collecting anything ferry-related, we even said our wedding vows on the Seattle-to-Bremerton run. Getting married on a ferry is free, if you’re interested.

The Point Defiance to Vashon Island ferry.

The Point Defiance to Vashon Island ferry.

Given a choice, I always choose riding a ferry over “driving around.” That’s what natives here call it when you opt for the highway system that takes much longer than the vessel transportation system. But alas, costs less.

Here’s why I prefer a boat ride:

  • Once you’ve parked your car, bike or motorcycle on the lower deck or walked onto an upper deck, you no longer have to worry about traffic congestion or road rage. You can enjoy the sailing, no matter how long it takes. I prefer the longer crossings like Anacortes to Friday Harbor or Seattle to Bainbridge Island. Many first-time ferry riders say they can feel their blood pressure lower when they spot the vessel approaching the dock.
  • On the busiest of all the runs, the one between Anacortes and the San Juan Islands, you can now make reservations. That’s also true for Port Townsend to Coupeville (on Whidbey Island) and international service between Anacortes and Sidney B.C. Here’s what you need to know about making reservations.
  • The scenery can’t be beat. No matter which town or city you leave from, you’ll have a view like no other once you leave the dock. Look for whales, dolphins, sea lions or other marine life, stunning skylines, beautiful yachts and nature at work.
View of the ferry while dining at Anthony's on Point Defiance.

View of the ferry while dining at Anthony’s on Point Defiance.

My favorite ferry destinations are: Mukilteo to Clinton on Whidbey Island, Anacortes to any of the San Juan Islands, Seattle to Bainbridge Island and Tacoma to Vashon Island (this route is short, but very scenic). Many folks that live in Washington commute to their jobs by ferry, so you’ll be wise to plan your trip outside of regular commuting hours which are typically from 6 am-8 am and from 4 pm-6 pm.

Happy sailing. Anyone want to share a ferry story here?

A ferry mailbox on Day Island.

A ferry mailbox on Day Island.

Somewhere Out There, by Amy Hatvany

Somewhere Out There

By Amy Hatvany

DSCF1861Not only does Hatvany hail from Seattle, but she set her latest novel, “Somewhere Out There” in the Emerald City. Kirkus Reviews dubbed it “uplifting and heartwarming” and they’re a hard nut to crack. A positive blurb from them is the gold standard for any author.

Personally, I loved the story, the characters, the plot line and of course, the scenery. The story follows the lives of two girls, given up by their mother because of her dire circumstances. One is quickly adopted, while the other jumps from one foster home to another until the people in charge finally give up on placing her. Each grows up under very different circumstances but distance-wise they’re quite close.

Hatvany peppers her plot with phrases and place names like “a gray and drizzly late September afternoon,”  “Capitol Hill,” “Hiawatha Park,” “Pioneer Square,” and “Georgetown, an industrial area in South Seattle” to orient you. You’ll find other familiar settings amidst some made-up ones.

Once the sisters find each other, the thoughts of why their mother gave them up haunts them both. Until finally, they go visit. I’m not giving away the plot, but the book puts forth some endearing messages. It’s about family in all its forms, even dysfunctional.

If you’ve not read a novel by Hatvany before, I highly recommend this one as a good start. You’ll quickly lose yourself in the story, because her words flow naturally, and she keeps you guessing.

 

 

 

 

Hillier Ups the Creepy Factor in The Butcher

Jennifer Hillier, author of Freak, Creep and her latest, The Butcher; splits her time between Seattle and Toronto. That qualifies her for space on my blog about discovering Washington State. I read thrillers almost exclusively and hers have been some of my favorite.

The Butcher definitely has to be her best work to date. The most notorious killer in Seattle history, according to the book jacket, was the Beacon Hill Butcher. But he has been shot and killed. Or has he?

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Recent murders show signs of the same modus operandi as the Butcher. Maybe it’s a copy cat? Or maybe the sheriff, who has now retired, got the wrong guy.

Sam is researching a book about the Butcher. She has an unsettling suspicion that he may have killed her mother. Her boyfriend, Matt, a chef entrepreneur and grandson of the sheriff, makes a very disturbing discovery when he moves into his grandfather’s (the sheriff) house.

I won’t reveal anymore because I want you to read the book. Hillier draws brilliant, life-like characters with everyday flaws. I can only imagine what her plotting diagram looks like during the writing process. Because she makes some swift turns with her plots, ones that keep you guessing. The story reads smoothly without excess back story and without unnecessary description.

And I absolutely love her descriptions of real places in Seattle.

I highly recommend all her books, but The Butcher has to be her best.

You can follow her on www.jenniferhillier.org.

 

 

 

Kevin O’Brien’s Unspeakable

One of my favorite thriller writers has a new book out titled “Unspeakable.” In it, a child actor (Collin) realizes that when he’s hypnotized another person emerges, a very dark, sinister and dangerous boy who lived 50 years before. While Collin sleeps, his friends become murder victims. Could he have done it unknowingly? That lays the foundation for fires, stabbings and untold unpleasantries.

 

Once again O’Brien, who lives in Seattle, has made me sleep with the light on. And this book contains more than 500 pages so the bulb burnt out a couple of times. A silhouette was lurking in the shadows on many of these pages. And I heard creaks around the house long after everyone, including the dogs, were deep into their slumber.

kevin obrien's unspeakable

But that’s what makes the suspense real and why I’m such a thriller fan and especially an O’Brien devotee. My friend wants him to write faster so we’ll have more to read. I don’t know if faster would be better, because now he pens some terrific stuff.

What I also found appealing about this book was the author’s accurate portrayal of the atmosphere in Seattle during the days of the World’s Fair in 1962. How could someone who isn’t old enough to remember Century 21 write such precise details of the culture we experienced then? I worked at the Fair and my coworker’s daughter had a date with Elvis Presley when he filmed his movie here. I may have dated “Wade” from Unspeakable, but escaped before I became a liability. You’ll have to read the book to find out about that reference.

I highly recommend you pick up this paperback original or put it on your Kindle or Nook. Feel the tension for yourself.

A Nod to Knob Hill in Ketchum, Idaho

In March I attended the beginning of the Sun Valley Film Festival for a writing assignment. Green Rubino, a public relations firm in Seattle, was kind enough to find me lodging at Knob Hill. Before my flight I checked out Knob Hill Inn on Tripadvisor.com. Almost every reviewer gave the hotel five stars. Everyone, but one gentleman who complained that it was next door to a cemetery. Those people won’t be partying and keep you up at night so I didn’t really understand his objection. Besides it’s a very historic cemetery where Ernest Hemingway is buried.

View from my hotel window in Sun Valley.

 

What a beautiful home away from home. The location, just outside downtown proper, made for quiet nights.

This boutique property houses 29 lovely rooms – all renovated in a chateau-style architecture last November. From the TVs to the bedding and even the custom furniture, everything matched the Sun Valley theme. And do you know how they got rid of the heavy European pieces purchased by the previous owner? They held a yard sale and sold it to the community.

 

And the staff – well if you wore socks, Knob Hill employees would knock them off with their superior service. They call it European charm. I call it rare and wonderful. From housekeeping to the front desk to the shuttle drivers, everyone went out of their way to make all the guests feel special. One afternoon while exploring the downtown shops I heard my name called. It was one of the hotel shuttle drivers asking me if I wanted a ride anywhere. 

I think Rick Steves was on to something when he referred to Idahoans as “freakishly friendly.”

Disclaimer:  Knob Hill hosted my stay.

Two Restaurants You Should Try

There’s nothing I enjoy more than good food and this week I had two outstanding meals at two different restaurants.

 

Tuesday I had the chance to dine on some tasty crab dishes at Duke’s on the Tacoma waterfront. Seven Slanted High Balls and Seven Savory Sliders make their Happy Hour happy. The drinks are served in slanted, slightly off-kilter glasses. I’m not sure whether the glasses straighten out after you’ve had a few high balls or not, but I highly recommend the crab slider appetizer served during Happy Hour. It’s a little taste of heaven and goes well with Lulu’s Margarita. Happy hour runs 3 p.m.-6 p.m. and 9 p.m.-close everyday, weekends included.

 

Another palate pleaser has to be the Dungeness Crab “Un” Cakes served with lime aioli, organic field greens and a citrus vinaigrette. The powers that be at Duke’s searched the Northwest for the best crab cakes they could find and after two full days of eating nothing but crab cakes determined that the worst part was the “cake” so they left it out.  The “Un” Cake is an outstanding dish.

Today I wound up at a YMCA orientation in Seattle right next to the Lunchbox Laboratory, a restaurant I’ve wanted to try for months. So, even though we’d just eaten, I insisted we at least try one menu item and since I was the oldest in the group, the rest relented. And they were happy they did.

The Mexican Cokes on the beverage list turned out to be a big hit as was the Chips and Dip Classique appetizer of handmade potato chips dusted with a rosemary-romano sea salt and served with a chunky mixture of garlic, onion and bacon for dipping.

Since I don’t know when I might return to this area of Seattle, I opted to share a Native New Yorker Burger with my grandson. Burgers are the specialty at this restaurant.

Their beef patties come from American Kobe-style beef, which tastes so much better than ground beef from the grocery store. The New Yorker lived up to its name complete with Monterrey Jack cheese, thinly sliced onions and sides of ranch and buffalo ketchup. Handcrafted smoked salts are delivered to your table and you’re told they can be added to the sides, like the skinny fries. I put bacon salt on my burger and it added just the right touch of flavor enhancement.

 

For a treat you can dine outside around a fire pit, which you’ll most likely need to keep warm about eleven months out of the year.

What’s your favorite restaurant in Seattle or Tacoma?

Heather Larson writes about the Pacific Northwest from her office in Tacoma, Washington, hoping she can entice you to visit and/or share your own memories of the region.