Monday, June 29, 2009

Manchester - The Best Kept Secret

Where do I start? I love living here, it is just that simple.

Bought my Manchester view home in December of 1992, my first house all by myself, with 2 small children - what in the world was I thinking? Looked for 8 months for a view home that was in the right price range, and that was actually livable. Now, it wasn't that gorgeous...nice multi-brown shag carpet, brown vinyl flooring, and of course, my favorite item: decorative mushroom tiles in the kitchen. Over the years (and after bucket loads of money) I eventually turned it into the view cottage that was home.

My home has been on the market for nearly a year, this week after chopping the price to smithereens, finally have an offer that I do think will work. So why the tears? Why the heartbreak? Gee whiz - had plenty of time to prepare for this! Kids are moving on, and I can't take the wet and cold anymore, especially can't stand the dark, grey, dreary weather that starts in October and does not let up until May. (not really great at the hibernation thing...) Know in my heart that this is absolutely the right thing to do, but it is still so difficult to make the leap and move on to the next adventure.

Went for a long walk this morning down to my little Manchester beach, desperately trying to sort out all of my feelings . Wow, and more wow. Sun at 7:00 am, streaking across the bay from Seattle, with the skyline just a little bit hazy off to the east, then to look south, Mount Rainer looms above Vashon Island, Colvos Passage and the Southworth ferry dock. How lucky am I? I live here, and have appreciated every single second of the last 16 years.

This morning was so quiet, so peaceful with only the hum of the ferries and sharp callings from the sand pipers to break up the morning calm. As always, I fill my pockets with seaglass, my zen-like activity to try and take my mind off what it is really is working on. Found some great pieces caught and lodged on a small sandspit right near the waters' edge! Always amazed to be the only one on the beach enjoying something so simple, but yet so undeniably perfect.

Manchester is a quiet sleepy community, where everyone knows everyone else. Sometimes, not so good, but most of the time, the best feeling ever. We eat breakfast at the Manchester Family Inn at least twice a month and Donna always knows my order. Donna and my kids make plenty of jokes about my love of chicken fried steak! We have a Post Office, a great Kitsap County Regional Library, a boat ramp, a small park, a tiny mini-mart, a pub and the Manchester Inn. Have spent many nights dancing and drinking red wine with friends, to live music at the Tumblehome room - and then walked home! How perfect is that?

As I am still processing the next steps in my journey, just wanted to declare my undying love for my little town, and am really hoping that who ever ends up in my house will love it and will love living here just like I have.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Half-Moon Bay California

Love this quick drive across the coastal mountains in the Bay Area of California... hwy 92, then drop down to the Pacific Ocean on Hwy 1. Winding, lazy drive past flower nurseries, and wine tasting rooms. There is just something about seeing the surf, sun and sand that makes me instantly happy and experience inner calm.

A few of our favorite beach restaurants!

1. The Miramar Beach Restaurant, located minutes away from where Hwy 92 meets Hwy 1, headed north. Love the history of this place - and the absolutely gorgeous views of Pacific Ocean crashing waves. My favorite memory is of a windy, but incredibly beautiful day this
past spring when we sat outside in the sun (protected from the wind by the glass enclosure). Enjoying the views, and the yummy "Seafood Margarita" - ceviche style dungeness crab, shrimp, scallops and true cod in a lime-flavored tomato relish with chilies, cilantro and just a touch of tequila, we met new friends also doing the same thing. The girls that sat in front of us were having way too much fun sharing some chardonnay, and kept offering to take our picture - made me blush... told Tom he was so lucky to have such a beautiful girl with him...I think they were fooled by too much wine.

2. Half Moon Bay Brewing Company, North on Hwy 1 at Princeton by the Sea, at the Pillar Point Marina. Another great place for casual dining and a terrific choice of hand-crafted beers. Our
favorite is always the Mahi Mahi fish and chips, tried the
"Fresh Ahi Poke" (pictured) the last time we were there. Delicious!! Very fun to sit outside under the propane heaters, watch sea life and happily swimming sea lions at the marina, while watching the setting sun disappear into the Pacific. Something is always happening at the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company, make sure to check their website for scheduled events, and for live music nights.

Here's Tom enjoying one of their special brews! Hmmm... maybe he left his sunglasses there on purpose?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Lunch at Duke's - Alki Beach Seattle

Another great day to live in Seattle! Tom and I took the the Southworth - Fauntleroy ferry over to West Seattle for a lazy sunny afternoon on Alki Beach. (Will have to post some photos from the ferry one day..) Starving for lunch before we even got there! So many choices for dining on Alki, but Duke's on Alki is always a favorite and can be counted on for yummy seafood and great views.

Tom started out with a bloody mary, it was really an appetizer in a drink! Gorgeous prawns, asparagus and of course green olives - he was a happy man. (Can you tell from the picture?) I ordered my favorite - blueberry lemondrop...yum. For our appetizer; salmon wrapped in phyllo dough with a Dijon mustard dip, then the seafood chop-chop salad. Had so much fun eating, drinking and watching everyone play on Alki beach! Duke's deck also has aweseome views of ferries and all of the marine traffic flowing into Seattle, I never get tired of that.

Beach walk after lunch, part of the way on the paved walk and then down to the beach for sea glass hunting. Fun to see all the little kids running on the sand and building sandcastles. (MUST watch out for bicycles and roller-bladers!) So romantic...holding hands while waves crash on the shore, seashells to pick up and of course sea glass to hunt for. Tom is such a good sport and happily indulges me on these journeys.

Found some small pieces of really worn glass on Alki to add to my collection...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

More Salmon Stories from the Northwest!

So excited! My first guest blog from one of my dearest and closest friends. Well, she's actually more like my family... Meet my friend, Melissa Edgerton, gourmet chef and all around great buddy!

Friends don't let friends eat farm-raised Atlantic so-called salmon...really!

Yes, we are all salmon snobs in Seattle, but hey...we're entitled. They spawn in every darn river around here, and every January they swim across the highway in Shelton that always floods. I always know it's winter when that pic hits the news: 3 foot salmon silhouetted against the yellow stripes on the blacktop, with the water a good 5" deep...

My way to cook salmon? I make a marinade of equal parts soy sauce, worcesteshire ("woo" sauce) and white wine. Let your salmon soak in it for about an hour; any longer is too long. Grill til about 5 minutes before your desired done-ness. Top with a big ole spoonful of brown sugar, slam the lid of the grill down and let the sugar melt, carmelize and get a tad crunchy in those fabulous 5 minutes. Devour carefully cause it's hot. This recipe never fails to impress pretty much everyone, and it's realy easy. And wickedly good, especially if you get fancy and throw some alder on the grill. Preferably a nice fresh green twig you've ripped of a tree in a corner of the yard.

That's it, I'm off to the grocery store for a nice fat fillet. Bye!

Salmon, one of Nature's Perfect Creations!

Do not care how you prepare it - I will eat it. Sushi - yum. Smoked, (especially my dad's recipe!) with a little cream cheese - YUM. BBQ'd, with Port Orchard Yacht club recipe - YUM. "That's a Some Italian" (my friend Tom's restaurant in Poulsbo) recipe, orange ginger glazed - double YUM!

Start with GOOD salmon, not Atlantic Farm Raised (if you can help it!). We are soooo lucky in the Northwest to have an abundant supply of King, Coho, Silver and, of course, my favorite that we only see in the spring - Copper River Salmon from British Columbia.

By the Way...if you haven't ever experienced Pike Place Fish - hope that you can one day on a visit to Seattle! Here's their site: Pike Place Fish

Last week made dinner for Alex (21 year old kiddo!) and decided to splurge on Copper River since we only have it once a year.

Copper River Salmon with basil and sun dried tomato butter.
VERY simple recipe - can be done on the bbq in foil tent, or baked in the oven.

Step One: Preheat oven 350 degrees
Step Two: Line pan with foil, and spray Olive Oil on foil
Step Three: Salmon, skin side down in pan
Step Four: Make the butter!
1. 1 cube butter, softened
2. 2 tablespoons fresh chopped up basil - doesn't have to be fresh, but at this time of the year, we have such an abundance and so easy to find at your local farmer's markets.
3. scoop of sun-dried tomatoes to taste
4. 3-4 cloves fresh garlic, minced or pressed in garlic press

Mix all of these ingredients together to taste, or add your own! (Oregano, thyme, rosemary, whatever..), then spread generously on top of salmon.

Step Five: Pop in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Do NOT overcook - dried out salmon is the worst!
Step Six: Serve and enjoy!

To go with your salmon? Fresh corn on the cob, white corn is my favorite cooked with just a pinch of sugar in the water. Maybe a pasta salad with red/yellow peppers and fresh tomatoes, or whatever else you can find in the garden! Don't forget dessert - so many choices in the summer. My favorite? Strawberry shortcakes with fresh hot sweet biscuits and a dollop of your favorite yogurt, I like blueberry.

Enjoy the weekend! For more salmon recipes and ideas - try browsing my friends at Liberty Bay Books webpage: simply search Salmon Cookbooks

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Sunrise over Puget Sound

Quick note about my favorite time of the year and my favorite time of the day... 5:30 am, Pacific Northwest Time. I have lived for this for the past 16 years, waking up to soft cries of seagulls, low hum of the ferry, and of course barking sea lions. (I am not kidding about the barking!) Wish you were here to enjoy a cup of coffee on my deck this morning..

Monday, June 8, 2009

Lido Key and Florida Thunderstorms

Have a funny story to tell.... used to be a newbie to Florida thunder and lighting storms, not anymore.

You know me, beach walks are not always just for walking, have to pick up every cool shell or piece of glass that I can find. Might be there for hours, quickly lose track of time, and lose track of how far I have walked down the beach. If anyone has been to Lido Key, outside of Sarasota, Florida, you might have noticed all of the shells that roll up in the surf, fascinating colors and shapes. This really is one of my favorite walking/shelling beaches, even if you do have to watch out for little searays buried in the sand. Olive shells are some of my very favorite to collect, and this is where I have found such an abundance of them! Can't ever seem to leave the beach with just a few, and then a few more.. (This wreath is an example of what my mom did with one of one of the olive shells that I found-too pretty to just sit in a box)

Trying to be a fashion plate a few years ago at Lido Key beach. Cute black bathing suit, and huge black straw hat.. you get the idea. (was much skinnier then!) All of a sudden the sky was turning BLACK too. Could not stop picking up shells and somehow had wandered very far down the white sugar sand beach, very very far away from the parking lot and the safety of our car. Ex-husband was yelling at me to get off of the beach, at first I didn't hear him, and then I ignored him. Didn't see the lightning hitting the water...oops. The skies opened up with a deluge of rain - then I paid attention! Have you ever tried to run like mad in soft sand and blinding rain?? Shell bag heavy with all of your treasure? Scary booming thunder and the lightning was getting so close, beginning to strike the beach!!

Okay, here's the funny part. Remember how I told you that I was quite the fashion plate that day? Black hat was dyed black, when the rain started, so did the dye... all down my face, all down my arms, legs.. you name it. Last time I will try to look cool at the beach.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Whidbey Island Adventure

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Melissa and I took the Mukilteo Ferry to Clinton and had so much fun exploring Whidbey Island! Managed to make the ferry just in time, and did not have time to explore the lighthouse at Mukilteo, but will make sure that we do next time. We are not always the best planners....I am best known for spontaneous day trips! It's only a 20 minute ride across the sound, time enough to grab a map and tourist guide and run back down to the car! Perfect day - 75 degrees with just a slight breeze.

First stop; quick turn right off of the ferry dock to a small beach park in Clinton so that Bella and Tinkerbell (Melissa's puppies!) could run around in the sand. Bella is a total crack up! Found some cool shells and even found my first whole sea urchin - very cool, and also very STINKY! (it's still sitting on my outside deck)

Then on to Langley, one of the fun tourist beach towns to visit on Whidbey. Overlooks the Saratoga passage - awesome view on the road into town with views of the Cascase Mountain range, and lots of marine traffic. Cool boutique shopping, made sure to visit Whidbey Island Soap and The Chocolate Flower Farm , both are homegrown unique original businesses. (please make sure to visit their websites too!) We could have lived in the Chocolate Flower Farm store - omg - total chocolate heaven! Great art galleries, great places to eat. Too bad I am on a budget! Did splurge on delicious ice cream on our way out of town tho... summer time, who can resist?

Off to the beach! Started at South Whidbey Island State Park. Gave up after realizing way too far to walk down to the beach - we are total wimps! There are so many beaches and state parks
on Whidbey, it was easy to drive 5 miles back down the island and find a great sea glass beach - Bush Point State Park. Very nondescript park, but there is a regular bathroom, one of the girl essentials! GORGEOUS walk on the west side of the island facing the Straits of Juan De Fuca, and as we were filling our goodie bags with shells and worn sea glass, we watched 3 Alaska cruise ships go by on their way up North. How cool! Melissa finally understood why for me beach junk hunting is so necessary, commented that it is really is "zen-like". Your mind wanders, enjoying the sun, the soothing sounds of the water and birds while scouring the beach for the ever elusive beach gems.

Relax and Live at the Beach Every Day of the Year!

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