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Ocean Month

Posted by on Jun 27, 2016 in Travel | 2 comments

When I realized it was Cephalopod Week (Science Friday’s “celebration of all things tentacled”), I thought I’d have some fitting photos to share with you.

Seattle Aquarium

I couldn’t find the one I thought I’d taken of the octopus up against the glass at the Seattle Aquarium or the cuttlefish we raced across the aquarium at Monterey Bay to see, moments before they closed for the day. (Because cuttlefish are so rad, we couldn’t leave without seeing them!)

Seattle Aquarium

While I didn’t spot any cephalopods in my photos, June is National Ocean Month. So here are a few the other ocean creatures we visited at the Seattle Aquarium.

Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium

We received media passes for the Seattle Aquarium as part of a CityPass courtesy of Visit Seattle.

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Seattle Restaurant Week and Elliott’s Oyster House

Posted by on Oct 28, 2015 in Travel | 0 comments

Seattle Restaurant Week

My recent Seattle trip happened to coincide with the first part of Seattle Restaurant Week (SRW), where local restaurants entice diners out of their normal routines with 3-course dinners for $30.


SRW goes through Thursday, October 29, so if you’re in Seattle, you can still join in!

  1. Check out the full list of 165 participating restaurants on the SRW site. You can sort by neighborhood, dietary restrictions, etc. Click on your restaurant of choice for location and menu information (subject to change).
  2. Ask for the SRW menu at the restaurant. It may only be available by request and may differ from what’s listed online.
  3. Look for lunch. Many (but not all) SRW restaurants also offer lunch menus with 2 courses for $15.



SRW recommended Elliott’s Oyster House, located right on the Seattle Waterfront, near Pike Place Market.

Elliott's Oyster House, Seattle

Really, it felt like a bit more of a touristy joint than I may have chosen on my own. But (a) I do like to eat seafood when I’m actually on a coast, (b) sometimes even the touristy locations can surprise you, and (c) SRW offered to pick up the tab.

So I thought it was worth a shot. And it was. The food was good and so was the view. You can see Puget Sound from just about any table inside or out on the patio.


Phillip’s sister Liz (along with her two boys) braved the traffic/parking to drive us. I think both situations are currently worse than usual, due to some city project that has put a gaping canyon of construction directly in front of the restaurant. (Don’t worry, there’s a bridge.)



When you walk into Elliott’s, you see bins and bins of different varieties of oysters. So many. And they change up the selection seasonally.


The oysters remain intact and unshucked until ordered. Fortunately, the staff includes some fast shuckers.

Oysters at Elliott's Oyster House, Seattle


Oysters are not on Elliott’s Restaurant Week menu. Maybe it’s a cost thing. Maybe they just want people to branch out and try some of their other offerings.


Their SRW menu included other types of seafood that aren’t in the name of the restaurant, as well as beef and vegetarian dishes. The day we were there the offerings varied a bit from what was online. So Phillip, Liz, and I perused our options, while the boys set to work coloring their sea-life-themed kids’ menus with those cool triangular crayons that don’t roll off the table.

Lights at Elliott's Oyster House, Seattle

One nephew decided to color the fish and everything around them blue.

I asked him “Is it all blue because they’re underwater?”

He looked exasperated and simply said, “no.” Then went back to coloring.

Sometimes it’s better not to question art.


The kids’, plates piled high with fish and chips, were served at the same time as our first course, which we all appreciated. (Bringing us food and not the boys would’ve been fun for no. one.)


Liz had a delicious New England style white clam chowder made with a good dose of bacon. I had coconut prawns on top of a mango salsa. The prawns were crispy and coconutty yet kind of needed the accompanying Thai chili sauce to complete them.

Coconut shrimp at Elliott's Oyster House, Seattle

For the second course, I ordered the blackened trout salad. While the fish wasn’t cooked the way I’d expected, it wasn’t bad. It was served under a salad of mixed greens, walnuts, and apples, so that (literally) covered any minor flaws.


Phillip thoroughly enjoyed his salmon reuben, and Liz had a really good steak sandwich.

Lunch is not a contest. But I think Liz won.


Near to Elliott’s:

Thank you to Seattle Restaurant Week for the Elliott’s gift card. We also received CityPasses from Visit Seattle.

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Seattle Revisited

Posted by on Oct 26, 2015 in Travel | 0 comments

Right as plans were really falling apart for an Italy trip this year, an event popped up in my Facebook feed.

The authors of the Four Windows project (including my brother) have all finished the novels they’ve been writing over the past year and would be doing a reading in Seattle.


I saw the invitation for their reading and thought, “I wish I could be there.” Then I realized I could.


Turns out that, when you’ve been trying to figure out how to get from Arizona to Italy, getting to Seattle suddenly seems very doable and inexpensive by comparison.


In fact, by the time you read this, I plan to already have been there and come back home.

Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

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Minimalist Space Needle

Posted by on Jan 26, 2015 in Travel | 2 comments

Messing around editing a photo I’d taken of the Space Needle during my Seattle trip, I realized I really liked it in black-and-white and stripped down to a more minimalist form.

So I posted a few of these minimalist black-and-white Space Needle photos on Instagram, including one from the observation deck.

minimalist-space-needle-1 minimalist-space-needle-4


I tend to err on the side of including too much detail, so this was a great exercise in editing and simplicity.


Microblog Mondays: Helping bloggers get over writer’s block since about last September. More on Stirrup Queens.


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Windows into Seattle

Posted by on Nov 19, 2014 in Travel | 0 comments

I’ve never heard anyone say writing a novel was easy. The fact that so many aspiring authors have trouble completing the task gave Christine Smith and Jessie Kwak the brilliant idea to form Four Windows Books.

It’s an author incubator and publishing company that guides new authors through the writing process all the way to completing their first books. The novels are written and published in serial format, delivered to subscribers via ebook a quarter at a time. Each year, Four Windows will choose four new authors and a new city to feature.

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The first-ever Four Windows books are being written by four authors who live in (or have lived in) Seattle. Part 2 is set to be released November 30. It was cool to revisit Seattle through Part 1 of these books – places like the Aurora Bridge (where the Fremont Troll is) and the International District, which is where the excerpt below takes place.

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Here’s a taste of Trace by Ian Smith:

Joanne stepped off the bus in the International District station, the last underground stop before the transit tunnel disgorged its travelers to disperse throughout the forsaken lands south of the stadiums. The scent of curry entwined itself in the more familiar smells of black coffee and wet concrete, and the walls echoed with a busker’s saxophone wailing out Moon River.

She ascended the steps to street level, and felt a wave of nauseating anxiety — like the free falling terror of hearing a professor announce an exam that she’d forgotten to study for. There were Chinese characters on signs and the frenetic song of tonal language all around her, foreign as hieroglyphs, but all reminding her of where she was not from, what she did not know, who she could never be.

She took a moment to orient her phone to her surroundings, and then headed off down a side street.

She walked past the Tiantang Medicine Shop twice before finally Googling a picture of the building — two red characters painted over a nondescript door marked the entrance. She opened the door to be greeted by a heady wall of aromas — licorice, pepper, and ozone with a slight undernote of sewage.

A wrinkled man hunched on a stool behind the counter, wispy-haired and liver-spotted. He was gazing disinterestedly at a talk show when Joanne entered; he regarded her in solemn silence for a moment then focused back on the television. The shop was lined with shelves, and each shelf held an amalgam of irregular plastic bins containing dried bits of organic god-knows-what. There were a scattering of identifying cards about the shop, but only a few were in English, and those bore such cryptic legends as ‘concentrated gel of antler velvet’ and ‘codonopsis’. After a minute of surveying the inscrutable, she gave up and approached the man behind the desk. “Excuse me, could you help me find some of these herbs?”

He replied without taking his eyes from the brewing domestic dispute, “You from Dr. Keller?”

There was a note of disdain in his voice that made her want to deny it, but her list was on his letterhead. “Yes, I just started seeing him.”

“He’s a fool.” Without ceremony, he slid from his stool, took the paper from her hand and started scooping various powders and plant matter into bags.

“I’m sorry?”

“He’s big fool. You should know.”

You can download the entire Part 1 of Trace and the 3 other books for free in your e-reader format of choice.

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PS Yes, Ian is my brother, but he didn’t ask me to do this. I’m just excited about the project and the books, and I can’t wait for Part 2!

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