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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
On Friday night, I hosted a thank you party for my Color Riders Obliteride team at the beautiful glassybaby studio in Madrona. It was a fun, colorful and emotional evening celebrating our team's success and remembering loved ones and the reason we ride: to end cancer! It was a very special evening with my closest friends from childhood all the way through to new friends I recently met through Obliteride. I never wanted to be part of the "cancer club" but I am so appreciative of the love and support I've received from everyone.
Remembering my friend Scott who lost his battle in January. I miss him every day.
I don't think there was a dry eye in the house as we listened to personal cancer stories.
My best friend since first grade, Lara, describes her recent treatment for breast cancer and encourages all women to get their mammograms.
And in true Lara fashion, she had everyone laughing (through tears) by the end of it.
Thank you to glassybaby for generously donating this beautiful event space. It's a fabulous place to have an event. I hope to be back with an even bigger team next year!
And thank you again to all my teammates, friends, family, donors and supporters. You are my tribe!
P.S. Shameless plug: next year's ride is Aug. 9. Mark your calendar now so you don't miss out on all of the fun!
This weekend I went to Hood River to help scatter my friend Scott's ashes in the Columbia River where he loved to windsurf. It was the second of three ceremonies we will do to honor Scott. The first one was an intimate gathering at his favorite surf spot on the Oregon Coast earlier this year.
It was an emotional and beautiful weekend, filled with stories, tears, laughs and lots of good friends. That is one of the things that keeps hitting me about Scott - he had A LOT of friends. The way he lived his life impacted a lot of people. He made an impression with his dry wit, his athleticism, his strong work ethic and the twinkle in his baby blue eyes.
On Saturday afternoon, his community came out to the shores of the mighty Columbia River, to his favorite windsurfing spot, to honor a friend, a dad, a husband, a co-worker and a darn good windsurfer.
God beams showered his wife Heather as she scattered Scott's ashes. Simply amazing.
One of Scott's friends sailed his windsurfer, as Heather and his son Zane looked on from the shore. I know Scott was smiling down on that!
Everyone wrote a message to Scott on a river rock and threw it into the river along with a red rose, symbolizing love.
This winter we will scatter Scott's ashes on Crystal Mountain, his winter playground. And we will once again say goodbye to an amazing guy. Until we meet again.
Last week I wrote about colorful, delightful dahlias. Within the last week, I've learned about a new variety -- the café au lait dahlia -- that is the favorite of three of my favorite florists. First, my sister Jill of Starflower in Portland posted the above picture on Instagram with this caption: "If I were to buy myself flowers, it would be these girls."
Jill created this amazing, dramatic bridal bouquet with café au laits as the hero.
The next day, I bumped into Tess of July Floral Design delivering weekly flowers to Volunteer Park Cafe, and she told me about a bloom she's especially excited about right now - the café au lait! She told me "They are the IT flower!"
Tess designed these gorgeous arrangements for a party last week.
And a couple of days later, my friend Maura of Casablanca Floral posted these pics on Facebook with the following caption: "Aaaah these café au lait dahlias are sumptuous. They make me want to get married again (to the same man!)."
These gorgeous blooms have definitely gotten the attention of three of the most talented floral artists I know. I love how each of them uses them in their own unique way. Keep your eyes out for these beauties. I've yet to see them in person, but I hope to sometime soon.
Tea is my constant companion. It picks me up in the morning. It keeps me company during the day. It comforts me like a warm hug. The messages on my Yogi tea bags this week have been especially comforting and inspiring, so I wanted to share a few with you.
I feel like the Universe is speaking to me through tea! What speaks to you?