There are lots of chances to buy delightful handmade gifts in and around the Seattle area this December but there are three going on this weekend that are of particular interest to me, and maybe you. These events are run by or feature people who I have worked with and dearly love because they make Seattle a more amazing city.
Each year here in Seattle chefs from the Sheraton hotel pair with architects from various firms to create a Gingerbread Village display that is truly stunning. The village is free to view and donations are taken for the JDFR. This is the 21st year and the theme is “there is a rhyme and reason this holiday season” and the various structures are based on classic nursery rhymes. If you’re here in Seattle I highly recommend making a visit to see the gingerbread village part of your Christmas tradition. It opens this year on November 27th and stays up for viewing in the Sheraton lobby under the new year. If you like to avoid the crowds, or if you just want to extend the holiday as long as possible, going in to see the village after Dec. 25th means you’ll have more time to linger and study the details.
Yesterday I was lucky enough to get a peek at the gingerbread structures in the midst of construction. I managed to play it cool but I was so excited to learn what goes on behind the scenes.
From the factoids I got: “The gingerbread creations are made from an estimated 1,200 pounds of dough, 800 pounds of icing and hundreds of pounds of chocolate, almond paste and candy. Creations are designed in partnership with Seattle’s top architecture firms and trade associations, and are made possible by more than 2,500 volunteer hours from the Sheraton’s hotel staff.”
Chef John Armstrong told us that people keep an eye out for candy they can use all throughout the year.
Since the display is up for over a month they do have to use some non-edible interior support. By the time this is ready to be viewed by the public nothing inedible will be showing.
He also showed us the industrial oven which was massive and has eight surfaces that can each hold a bunch of full sheet pans. Yet in order to bake some of the gingerbread pieces needed they had to extend the baking surfaces to be large enough to hold them. That, people, is some serious gingerbread.
This boat has to be built in pieces because, no joke, it’s too tall to fit inside the room where it’s being constructed.
Kids respond most to the past gingerbread creations that have lights and movement so almost each sculpture will incorporate some of that. This entire ship will sway back and forth, I cannot wait to see it’s finished state.
All the details in the walls here are hand carved into the gingerbread before being baked.
The clock shown here was created by coloring dried pasta then embedding it into a pane of sugar while it was still hot. So smart.
Figurines awaiting showtime.
I love the Gingerbread Village every year but I think this year is going to be really special. Thanks again to the Sheraton and Chef Armstrong for taking the time to show me behind the scenes!
The other weekend we I attended the Washington State Fair for the first time. (Until last year it was the Puyallup Fair and it had a terribly earwormy theme song that is currently infecting the brains all those who’ve heard it before and are reading this. Sorry.) The fair was more fun than I expected it to be. And I was expecting some fun.
We were there with Scott’s parents who were staying at a lovely B&B which was run by a woman who told them that they needed to eat a Fisher’s Scone while they were there. The B&B owner worked serving the scones when she was a teenager and she told them it was something of a tradition. And so the first thing we did was get four scones (delicious, comparable to English Cream Tea). They were served in the handle bag shown above and over the course of the day I saw lots and lots of these bags (as well as lots and lots of Fisher’s counters). Thankfully Carrieann78 chimed in and mentioned that the scones are great to freeze. That explains why we saw so many people carrying full Fishers bags to their cars and also why didn’t I think of that?
Here is what else we saw:
Rodeo! We saw one of the rodeo playoffs and it was the real deal. A solid two and a half hours of people in it to win.
Circus! While Cirque Magnifique was performing people and horses were passing behind it headed to the second rodeo of the day and it was fun watching cowboys observing the people on the trapeze.
Deep fried butter! Sadly we didn’t get a chance to come back and try this. I thoroughly disappointed myself by having a sensible Caesar salad with grilled chicken for lunch. There was a shocking lack of otherwise outrageous deep fried things at this fair. It’s like we are living in a health conscious area or something. Pffft.
A chicken that looks like Phyllis Diller! A bit. Am I right?
Oliver here is pretty chill.
When in Rome.
Among the collections I noted these AOL subscription discs, The Greatest American Hero and Alf. Apparently I miss the end of the previous millenium.
Obligatory photo of adults on the big swing thingy.
My recommendations? If you’re going in the morning get there first thing, our first two hours wandering around on a Saturday morning were blissfully uncrowded. If you’re going to catch the evening hours go after 3pm, which seems to be the warmest and busiest point of the day. If you’re buying tickets to the rodeo try to get something in section #8. We had a straight-on view and I felt like all the broncos and bulls headed right for the area in front of us, also we were closer to the spot where the Mutton Busting was best viewed.
One thing we didn’t see was any competition results from Home Food Arts, like preserving, pickling and jams. We were too early for the Salsa Showdown or the Jam and Jelly Contest or the cake decorating. With all the renewed interest in those areas I assume the competition would be fierce, and I do mean that in to read as fierce in your head.
If you are really hoping to see baby bunnies check the schedule, when we were there all the chickens (magnificent chickens, don’t get me wrong) were being shown off with only a few handsome rabbits off to the side. There are different animals shown on different dates. Don’t miss Cirque Magnifique if you can. Go check out Luminasia and tell me if it’s worth it, we didn’t get a chance to see it when we were there. And, please, tell me if the deep fried butter is worth going back for. Because I totally will.
Do you live here in the Seattle area? Go Mighty, along with Crave and Rivet&Sway, are holding an event all about inspiration and setting goals. And Go Mighty will be giving away one $500 grant to help somebody cross something off of their Life List. The evening is free but do RSVP. I’ll see you there!
Did you know that Rivet & Sway is based here in Seattle? I did not. I’m excited to see the inside of their headquarters, and I’ll have to remember to wear my contacts in case we get a little time to try on some frames. (Yes, I know they make it really easy to try on frames in your own home via mail but there is something a little extra special going to the source.)
It’s been a quietly exciting summer in my neighborhood. After living close-ish to a little main street area the next neighborhood over we are finally getting businesses setting up just a block from our house here in Hillman City.
Tin Umbrella Coffee is a coffee roastery and shop that will be offering a coffee bean delivery subscription via bicycle! If you live in Seattle I’ve heard from Joya that they are looking to deliver as far north as Greenlake. My friend Naomi wrote more about Tin Umbrella them over at Seattle Weekly. Tin Umbrella’s opening was last weekend and the mayor was there, which was awfully cool. (Note to Seattle residents, they currently have a fundraising campaign on Indiegogo.)
Spinnaker Bay Brewing is a women founded, owned and run brewery with a spacious tasting room. They brew strong beers in a traditional English style and the place has been hopping since they opened a few months ago. They don’t have food but they do have a rotating set of food trucks that come set up in their parking lot, which are also a very welcome addition to the neighborhood. Also, I’ve been learning to brew beer there for the past few months and it’s been amazing. (More on that later.)
I’m bursting with pride that I’ll have both coffee and beer that are actually made blocks from me, and made by people who really love what they do. You will all come visit me in my neighborhood now that there are places to visit, yes? Yes!
Summer Camp is on Friday, June 14th and it’s held here in Seattle at the Mount Baker Community center. I’m really happy to be speaking on one of the panels. Go read more about it. If you’d like to win simply leave a comment on this post. If you’re already attending or buy a ticket between now and when the winner is announced your ticket price will be refunded. I’ll be closing comments and picking a winner at noon on Tuesday, June 4th. The fine print applies. Good luck!
Urban Craft Uprising, the winter edition, is coming up very soon here in Seattle! It’s December 1st and 2nd, 11am to 5pm at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall. As usual there are free craft demos and book signings as well as a swag bag for the first 100 people. Don’t wory, if you cannot make it in time to grab a bag they have have an hourly raffle. And this year there is a $1 coat check, so hopefully those aisles will be a little easier to navigate (the show is nearly too popular for it’s own good). I’m excited by all the artisan food vendors they have, and the number of new vendors as well. This is my favorite sort of shopping!
The Top Five Secret Spaces in Seattle. Here is how to find those speakeasies.
David Sedaris and the Lit Crawl That Wasn’t a Lit Crawl | Slog. I am out of town for the David Sedaris reading in Port Angeles that is linked to here and, well, darn. You should go.
New Food Truck Pod: Come on Seattle, Don’t Screw This Up – Voracious. We have a food truck pod! Weekly calendar can be found at their website: 2nd & Pike. Might I suggest checking out the Off The Rez truck if you happen to come across it? It’s my favorite.
BevMo is opening a store in Northgate! And if you happen to be free on Friday morning and finding yourself in need of some booze you might also get a gift bag (first 500 people get one).
The Sun is Out! Catch a Bus and Take a Hike! | Slog. Seattle Metro is suggesting bus routes that will take you out to locations where you can hike, as the article says: this is a good idea.
Cider Summit Returns to Seattle on September 8. Awesome stuff needs to stop happening in September because I want to go to all of it.
Save the Liege Waffles at The Belgian Waffle Co. – Voracious. I am so angry that I was not told about this waffle truck earlier.
Bake It in a Cake • Seattle! I am very happy to announce my official cookbook release party! Yay! I’ve been looking forward to this book for a while.
Seattle Modern Home Tour. An upcoming day of getting to peek inside fabulous homes, the tour is self-guided so you aren’t tied to a group schedule, nice.
Dinner in White « Tea & Cookies. I so dearly want to be a part of this someday.
This upcoming weekend there are four events going on and I wanted to attend them all. Each time something new came up I’d throw an increasingly quiet and more intense hissy fit. I’m listing them here mostly so that if they happen again next year (I hope they do, on separate weekends) I’ll be able to find them easily. I need more versions of myself to go around so let’s get on that, science.
- Design Camp Yay! AB Chao is bringing her Design Camp to Seattle, it’s a two day workshop on interior design, and we get to focus on a room in our house. I need this class, my design skills only get as far as driving myself to Ikea.
- XOXO Festival Put on by Andy Baio and Andy McMillan this arts and technology festival is in Portland and I’ll just quote from the site now: “bringing independent artists who use the Internet to make a living doing what they love together with the technologists building the tools that make it possible.” Happily Scott is going and since he’s been playing around with game engines lately I’m expecting a very excited full report when he gets back.
- Bounty: Yakima, a Farm to Table Dinner This is put on my Sasha Vino whom I had the pleasure of meeting a few months back. She told us all about the old estate that the dinner is being held on (the W.P. Sayer House) and I so, so wanted to go. I’ve joined the mailing list so I hope the next event is soon.
- Washington Outdoor Women Weekend Workshop My friends were joking that this sounds like Lady Summer Camp but it does take place in a scout camp so if you want to relive the days and learn which wild plants work for emergency food this is ideal. Classes include Big Game Hunting Basics, Field to Freezer, Situational Survival Skills and Tracking. Do I want to know how to field dress? Yes, yes I do. WOW offers day long classes during the year and I think I’d like to take Shotgun Workshop next time it comes around, my bb-gun skills from summer camp has long faded.
In addition to these it’s Cider Week and there are lots of beer festivals going on and gah! Stop being such an awesome weekend! Luckily I won’t miss the Fresh Hop Ale Fest in Yakima on Oct. 6th. Nobody plan anything good for that weekend, agreed?
This summer Seattle got it’s own ferris wheel. It’s on the waterfront so you get a view of the sound as well as a view of the buildings downtown. It’s super extra good if you accidentally manage to get on it while the sun is setting.
Apparently there is a VIP car with leather seats, a glass floor and a television screen. (It’s the darker car in the photo above.) It seems like an expensive ticket for a short ride but, well, it exists.
School House Craft is coming up! It’s September 21st to the 23rd at the Phinney Neighborhood Center (a really great old brick school) here in Seattle. School House Craft is “a three day conference for those in the creative small business community. A weekend of classes, networking and building lasting relationships”. They have classes from “Facebook 101 for Business” to “Behind the scenes at Urban Craft Uprising”. Teachers include such well informed and generous people as Jennifer Shea (who founded Trophy Cupcakes), Andie Powers (creator of Assemble Shop) and Shauna Alterio and Stephen Loidolt (of Somethings Hiding In Here). The founders of School House Craft, Kristen Rask and Andrea Porter have years of running their own small business and big events such at Urban Craft Uprising. (They also just happen to be among the people who started the Grassroots Business Association with me so I’ve seen up close how focused and experienced they are.)
If you’re starting out a craft related business or want a great environment to consult with others School House Craft is fantastic (the food sponsors alone might be worth it, chocolate!). I was a speaker last year (yaaay!) but this year I’ll be out of town (boo). Right now you can still get one, two or three-day passes at early bird prices (you can also get tickets to individual classes). And you can enter to win a three-day pass. Not bad.
I read in bed before going to sleep and usually Scott falls asleep before me so I have to be quiet which is a problem because this book makes me laugh out loud. I insist you go read it. And if you don’t already read Jenny Lawson’s site, The Bloggess, I insist you go read that too. Also she’s on her book tour and, yay!, she’s going to be here in Seattle this Thursday and Friday. See you there, yes? Yes.
When Scott and I moved to Seattle and it’s rather spartan state run liquor stores we found ourselves telling our friends about this magical liquor store that California had. It was the size of a small grocery store, it was well lit and cheerful and sold food, glassware and everything you might need. It was called BevMo and we missed it. Earlier this year liquor sales laws in Washington state changed moving liquor into grocery stores and non-state run retail. So when BevMo invited me on a tour of their new stores in Washington state, Tacoma and Silverdale, I had to admit I was curious. This is what I learned.
We started with some side by side wine comparisons and I really enjoyed the picks by Paul Gregrutt. The Maison Bleue “Au Contraire” 2011 Chardonnay and Abeja Cabernet, both Washington wineries I’d never tried before, were the standouts for me.
This is something exciting and new, the Washington BevMo stores have growler filling stations. The current offerings are Mac & Jack’s African Amber, Georgetown Brewery’s Manny’s Pale Ale, Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA, Schooner Exact 3-Grid IPA, Widmer Raspberry Imperial Russian Stout, Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA, Harmon Brewing Expedition Amber and Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Imperial IPA.
I was so happy to see Sun Liquor among the offerings. I love their gin. If you’re making martinis the Hedge Trimmer goes well with olives while the Gun Club deserves a twist. I highly recommend a visit to one of their locations, these people make some awfully nice cocktails.
And for those of us who like to be a bit fancy, they had all three kinds of Lillet and a wide selection of bitters. I have only recently tried Lillet and I was an instant convert. It’s true love folks.
John Ueding from Click Distributing introduced us to some his favorite Washington spirits. The Rose Geranium Liqueur from Bravo Spirits was enchanting. Also, the Woodinville Whiskey Company tasting rooms are only a bike ride away, a bike ride I will be taking very soon.
We ended with some beer tastings. I love a big hoppy beer and here are the ones that I fell for.
Silver City Brewery Saint Florian. Saint Florian is the Patron Saint of Firefighters and a portion of the profits go to a Washington State Council of Firefighters benevolent fund. This had a lively and big aroma.
Pike Brewing’s Space Needle Golden Anniversary 2012 Vintage IPA had a citrus aroma that left me sniffing my beer a bit more than might have been completely acceptable in polite company. Pike won a contest to brew this for the Seattle Space Needle’s 50th anniversary this year but I was told that the beer might stay around longer than just this year but if you find yourself near one grab it just in case.
Hale’s Aftermath Imperial IPA is a limited release that also had a huge hoppy aroma. The Hale’s brews seem to be evolving lately and even though I don’t live in the neighborhood anymore I think I’ll be traveling back for a visit. Just Beer has more notes on the beers we tried on the trip.
We came home on the Ferry while the sun was setting, so nice. Thanks to BevMo for a really nice day, I learned a bunch and found a few new favorite things.
Urban Craft Uprising, the DIY and crafts fair filled with awesome, is having it’s summer show next weekend. It’s July 7th and 8th from 11am to 5pm and it’s held at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall. I’ll be shopping and hope to bump into you there!