Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Kaleidoscope of Color

 
Last week was Spring Break in Seattle. We stayed in town because we went to Disneyland in March. It wasn’t quite a staycation as I had to work, but I did a few things out of the ordinary to make it feel like I wasn’t the only one not jet-setting to Palm Springs, Hawaii or Mexico for the week!!

One afternoon before I picked Sofia up from her day camp at the Seattle Opera (yes, really, she LOVED it!), I visited Chihuly Garden and Glass at the Seattle Center.  It was my first visit and I was very impressed. Actually more than impressed – it was awesome especially for a color-phile like me. 

From the minute I entered the first room in the dimly-lit gallery, I was completely taken with the colors, patterns and textures.
 







Stepping outside, the gardens were bursting with color and all of my favorite spring flowers were in bloom, dancing in the wind alongside color-coordinated blown-glass creations.  It was truly a kaleidoscope of color! 
 








  
 
If you can squeeze in a spring-time visit, I highly recommend it!
 

 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Happy Orange!



"Orange is the happiest color."
-Frank Sinatra

 
Hi friends!
 
It's been awhile! I'm just popping in with a burst of color from my yard. Spring is my favorite season. It's so fresh, fragrant and colorful. And full of promise!
 
Happy spring!
 
xoxo,
 
Amy



Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Happiest Place on Earth!


I have to admit I was a Disney skeptic. We promised to take Sofia while she was seven, and we kept good on that promise! But I was viewing it as a checkbox. That's before our visit a couple of weeks ago. We had SO MUCH FUN! 
 
Sofia had to write a report for school which I think best summarizes our experience. Here's the unedited version, and below it are my recommendations if you go!

Disneyland

By Sofia Anderson



How to get into Disneyland

My parents bought 2-day park hopper passes for us so we could get into Disneyland and California Adventure Park.
My trip
Day 1 – Disneyland

We speed walked to Space Mountain. Lots of people were shoving to get to Space Mountain. Finally we reached Space Mountain but there was not that long of a line. We were lucky because we got there early. We got in line and I ran up the ramp to this large auditorium where there was a big space ship. We stopped there and we waited for a couple of minutes. Finally it was our turn to get into the roller coaster. It started going up, up, up and then it started going fast and there were sudden drops and sharp corners. It was very cool. It was very dark and it looked like we were in space. There were stars all around. I rode with my dad and my mom was behind us. Finally, the ride was over. When we got out where the exit was my mom said she didn’t really like the ride but I LOVED it! We went through the gift shop and outside.

Next I saw this big Astro Orbiter ride. My mom said she wanted to go on it and also my dad, so we did. It was our turn and we got into these space rockets and we started spinning around. It was really cool. We could see lots of Disneyland. My mom said it was a good speed for her. I went up and down, up and down. It was over and we got off. 

We went over to a big crowd of people waiting to go in this other part of Disneyland called Frontierland. We waited for a while and then finally it was time to go in. First we went over to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. It was about a 10-minute wait. I said I wanted to do it. The line went fast. Finally it was time to get into the roller coaster. We seat belted ourselves in and we started to move. We went through this cave and we got a little wet. Then we started to speed through the ride. It was so fun. There were sharp corners and sudden drops like Space Mountain. We went through many caves. Then it was over.

We went to the exit and started walking towards the Pirates of the Caribbean. It was about a 5-minute wait. We got in line and walked up the stairs to the ride. We walked through this big huge cave. Then it was our turn. We got into these boats and we started moving through the water. There was this creepy pirate cross-bone with a face on it. It was talking. Then we went down this small hill and we splashed at the end. It was really fun. Then it happened again, it splashed and I got really wet. Then we went into this big huge dark cave with lit candles. There were these pirates that were talking and acting out. Then it was over. At the end there was this parrot that was talking in a weird voice. We got off and walked out of the big cave.

Then we started walking towards Tomorrowland and we walked towards Sleeping Beauty’s Castle which is the entrance to Fantasyland. We went on the Sleeping Beauty Castle walkthrough and we got to see lots of pictures from the Sleeping Beauty movie and there were these pages inside glass that told you the story. Then we walked down through the exit and we went to Snow White’s Scary Adventures. We got into these cars that showed you through the story of Snow White. There were characters from Snow White and pictures. It was cool seeing all of it. Finally it was over and we got out and went through the exit. 

Next we went to Pinocchio’s Daring Journey. It was very similar to Snow White’s Scary Adventures. It showed pictures from Pinocchio and characters. It was over. We walked outside and we walked to It’s a Small World. We got in line and then it was our turn. We went in these boats that went through the different countries of the world. There were puppet people dancing and singing in different languages from their countries. They were singing “It’s a Small World.” It was really cool seeing all of these puppets dressed up as people from around the world. It was a long ride. Then it was over. We walked outside and went to lunch.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE AFTERNOON

Right after lunch we went to Star Tours, the Star Wars ride. It was the wrong choice because it almost made mommy throw up with a full stomach. But I LOVED it because it was wild! I love wild rides!

Then I went on the India Jones Ride with my dad. It was waaaay too bumpy but it was fun.

I loved Jungle Cruise. We went on these boats and there was a tour director named Shawn. He was funny! We saw all these animals, but I didn’t think they were real. I saw elephants, monkeys, different kinds of big cats, snakes and alligators.

After the cruise, we watched the parade on Main Street. I thought it was awesome! Then we went to Space Mountain again. We had Fast Passes for Space Mountain so it was a short line. We finally got to the ride again. It had sharp turns and sudden drops but that’s what I liked about it. I got to drive a racecar at Autopia. I was really bad at driving. I kept bumping the sidewalk.

Then we went back to our room to get ready for Fantasmic! Fantasmic is a show with all of Mickey’s imaginations. We went to dinner at La Brea in Downtown Disney. I had sliders with fries. When we were done with our dinner we walked over to the gates of Disneyland. We used our passes to get in. We went over to Frontierland. We got kind of lost finding Fantasmic so we asked a person who worked at Disneyland and she told us to go the other way to the edge of the water. We finally found where Fantasmic was. We had Fast Passes so we could get a spot easily. The show started and it was FANTASTIC! It started with Mickey Mouse telling us about his imaginations. There was water sprayed hundreds of feet in the air with images of Mickey Mouse doing stuff projected on it. Then there were princesses on boats that came by. Then there were evil characters projected up on the water in the air. Then a huge boat came by with all of these Disney characters on it. Then the show was over and I was really tired. My dad carried me back to the hotel and I went into my bunk and read my book and then I went fast asleep.

California Adventure

 
Day 2 – California Adventure

In the morning we went to Downtown Disney and we walked over to this huge Starbucks. I got a chocolate croissant and a protein pack. I ate a lot! After that we got in line for California Adventure. We did the same thing with Disneyland. We showed our passes to the person who works there and we went into California Adventure.

HIGHLIGHTS

First we went to Radiator Springs. Like Disneyland, everybody was shoving to get to Radiator Springs. I think almost everyone was going to Radiator Springs. We got in line. It was a while before it was our turn. They had to stop the line a few times because there were some issues going on with the ride. Finally we got to the front of the line and it was our turn. We went in a blue car with these other people. The first part of it was kind of like Pinocchio’s Daring Journey and Snow White’s Scary Adventures. It told the story of Cars. We went through this shop and there were these cars that were talking about a race. We were getting ready for a race. The race began. It was at high speed, there were sudden drops and sharp corners. The ride was really fun!

We walked to the exit and walked to the Tower of Terror which I thought was going to be really fun but it wasn’t. Me and my dad went on this elevator with two other people. It was an elevator that just dropped like two floors and four floors. It was really scary. There were Twilight Zones. We went up and then this window opened and we could see lots of California Adventure. Then it just dropped. It happened again and again. Then it was over. I ran outside and hugged my mom! I said “I never want to go on that again!”

Next we went to this big huge white rollercoaster called California Screamin’!!!!! It was a rollercoaster that went really fast. It was high speed and it went upside down!!!! It looked so fun to me and I went on it with my dad only. I thought it was really cool. We went so fast. We went like straight down and then we went upside down. When it was over I went to the Ferris wheel with my mom and my dad. I wanted to go on a swinging car and it looked fun to me but it wasn’t. When I went around the Ferris wheel, at one point, it slid on these bars and it was really not fun. I jumped onto the ground because I was so scared. My mom said my face went pale. Finally it was over. I said “I did not like that ride.”

Next me and my dad went on these swings that spin around and go over the water. It was called Silly Symphony Swings. That’s a tongue twister! I loved it! It felt like I was flying. It was a good speed. When it was over we walked over to this red rocket ship swingy thingy called Golden Zephyr. It was much like the swings. This time mommy went on the ride with us. I thought it was really fun and it was at good speed too.

After the Golden Zephyr ride we went to the Jumpin’ Jellyfish. It was this ride where you sit in these chairs and go up and down. It was a good speed for me and it was cool because I got to see lots of things when I was high in the air.

Our last stop was the Grizzly Peak adventure park. I went on this challenge trail. It was fun. After that we left California Adventure and went to lunch in Downtown Disney. We went to Naples, a pizza place. It was really yummy. I think it was the best pizza I’ve ever had. Then we went back to our hotel room to get our bathing suits on to go swimming. After we got into our bathing suits, I went down to the pool.  First me and my dad went on the waterslide. It was really fun. Then we swam for a while. After the pool I went in the hot tub. Then I got out and we went back to our room and rested before we went back to Disneyland to go on the spinning teacups and Pirates of the Caribbean. Mommy didn’t like the spinning teacups at all. She said they made her feel nauseous, but I loved it! Then we went on the Storybook Land Canal Boats and the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. That was our day!

 
IF YOU GO

Here are my recommendations that I cobbled together from suggestions from many friends. Hope it's helpful.

We went mid-week in the off-season, between mid-winter break and spring break, which was perfect. We stayed three nights and spent one day in Disneyland, one day at California Adventure and one day at the pool!

Before you go, print out maps of both parks so you can figure out your plan and priorities on the airplane. Figure out which rides offer Fast Passes (theymost popular rides) and get Fast Passes to the ones you really want to go on. We found out you can only have one Fast Pass at a time so choose wisely!

Hotel: Disney's Grand California Hotel & Spa. Conveniently located very close to both parks and you get Extra Magic Hour early admission to the parks as hotel guests.

Restaurants:
Breakfast: Starbucks in Downtown Disney (It's awesome - the biggest one in the country. Super convenient and easy to grab food on the way to the parks, and there's something for everyone!). Storyteller's Café (Go for the critter breakfast, not the food!)

Lunch: In the parks, grab whatever sounds good. As a friend reminded me, you're not there for the food! Naples Pizza in Downtown Disney was really good. Sofia says it's the best pizza she's ever had.

Dinner: Napa Rose (fancy), La Brea Café (casual), Tortilla Jo's (casual)

Shows to See:

Check the schedule for the day you want to go as weekdays are different than weekends.

Disneyland:
Mickey's Soundsational Parade
Fantasmic! (Fast Pass)
Fireworks

California Adventure:
World of Color (Fast Pass) This was under renovation when we were there so sadly we missed it but I've heard it's amazing.

Frozen Sing-Along I really wanted to go to this, but Sofia is SO over Frozen - it's not cool anymore, even though I made her meet Elsa and Anna! 

Airport Transportation:
We took a cab from LAX to the hotel, and a shuttle from the hotel back to the airport.

That was our Disney experience!
 



                                          

Friday, February 13, 2015

It's Been a Year

 
"One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life.
That word is love." - Sophocles
 
 
One year ago I launched 10 Things I Love About You after my friend Scott died and right before Valentine's Day.
 
Valentine's Day is upon us once again and I want to encourage you to tell your loved ones (spouse, children, parents, friends, etc.) what you love about them. I think sharing love notes like this is truly the best gift of all.
 
Earlier this week, I came home to this wonderful wreath that my friend Lara made for me along with a special Valentine's card, that truly warmed my heart and made me feel loved!
 
Let's try and show our love for each other a little more - great things will happen!
 
Happiest Valentine's Day dear friends.
 
xoxo,
 
Amy

Friday, January 2, 2015

Boundless Grace


Grace: a simple elegance or refinement of movement;
a spontaneous gift from God.
 
Wishing you boundless grace in 2015.
 
Happy New Year friends!
 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Perfect Day in Olympia


I'm often asked by friends where to go in my hometown of Olympia, Washington. So I decided to craft the perfect day in Olympia - from shopping to dining to sightseeing. It's the capital of Washington state but to me it's so much more than that. It's my hometown and it will always have a special place in my heart, even though I haven't lived their for over 20 years.
 
Downtown Olympia is small and everything I'm recommending is within walking distance. So park your car for the day and let's go for a walk!
 
 
SHOPPING
 
My first stop when I get to town is usually Drees or Red Door Interiors in downtown Olympia. (Take the State Capitol/City Center Exit off of I-5.) For the purposes of this post, we're popping into Drees first.
 
This exquisite shop has been in downtown Olympia for 85 years. My first job in high school was at Drees, 25 years ago. Before that I grew up visiting Drees with my mom to see the Nutcrackers at Christmas, buy cards and gifts and to eat yummy lemon bars - those are my early memories! I registered for my wedding here - my favorite gifts are always from Drees.
 
Stop in Drees for the perfect gifts, home accessories, fine stationery and the highest quality home furnishings. Every product is lovingly selected with great care. This recent story on a local blog characterizes Drees perfectly.
 


My friend, client and mentor, Ruthann Goularte (pictured below), owns Drees. She's an amazing buyer, merchant and businesswoman. Truly one-of-kind.

"We take great care to select high-quality items that will stand the test of time," Ruthann says. "I have always wanted people to love and keep the things they buy at Drees for a long time, like friends." Read more about her story here.


Drees is beautiful all year long but it really shines during the holidays, offering elegant décor and exquisite gifts. If you can get to Olympia before Christmas, I highly recommend it. Drees' after Christmas sale is a hit too!

 
Take your time in Drees. Every display is like an art installation. Drees has been compared to Gump's San Francisco - the Gump's of Olympia! I can't think of a higher compliment.
 

 
Red Door Interiors

When you've soaked it all in at Drees, head down the street to Red Door Interiors - just one block north of Drees on South Washington Street. Red Door is owned by my best friend since 1st grade, Lara Anderson, and her mom. They are a creative and innovative duo. In addition to giving new life to used furniture and offering unique gifts, this mother-daughter team has invented a wonderful home décor line of interchangeable lampshades and coordinating accessories with the goal of helping their customers create beautiful spaces.



Compass Rose

Compass Rose, on Capitol Way, is my favorite destination for colorful, unique gifts. It's filled with a tantalizing mix of candles, cards, journals, kitchen gadgets, beautiful jewelry including Jaime Joseph rings, and much more!



 




Archibald Sisters

A few doors down the block on Capitol Way is an Olympia institution - Archibald Sisters. They offer more than 150 fragrances that can be blended in lotions, bath gels, massage oils and more. Archibalds (as the locals call it!) is also a destination for whacky and eclectic gifts and "I LOVE OLY" gear.





 
Captain Little
 
This new toy store, on the corner of South Washington Street and 5th Avenue, is quite possibly the best toy and children's shop I've ever seen. Not only is the product selection fantastic, it's merchandised like a "real" store, not a toy store. Not a surprise since it's run by the cool cats from Compass Rose. Whether kids are on your list or not, Captain Little is worth a visit.



 

DINING

After all that shopping, now it's time for lunch. My favorite spot in downtown Olympia is Acqua Via, offering Mediterranean-inspired cuisine in a beautiful, hip, light-filled environment. Enjoy a selection from their seasonal menu and a glass of bubbly in the heart of downtown Olympia on the corner of 5th Avenue and Capitol Way.

Photo: Acqua Via
 
If you're still in town for dinner, I suggest heading over to Acqua Via's sister restaurant, Waterstreet Café and Bar across from Capitol Lake. Waterstreet is one of the few restaurants between Seattle and Portland that has been awarded the prestigious Wine Spectator Award multiple times.

SIGHTSEEING
 
Two of my favorite spots are Capitol Lake and the Capitol Campus. You can run or stroll around the lake and enjoy view of the Capitol above.
 
I'm just sorry the sun wasn't shining the day I took these pictures. Then you would really be able to see the beauty of this place.





The Percival Landing boardwalk is also another great way to experience the Puget Sound side of Olympia.
 
 
Just a few blocks from Percival Landing is the Olympia Farmers Market, which is fabulous and should definitely be part of your day. Check their website for seasonal schedules.
 
 
Photo: The Farmers Market of Olympia
 
Finally, if you have kids in tow, the new Hands On Children's Museum is fantastic! And during the summer the Heritage Park Fountain is a blast!
 
Just 60 miles south of Seattle, Olympia is a great day-trip and a small-town destination to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city.
 
I always leave Oly feeling happy, relaxed and excited to come back! I hope you get a chance to visit soon!