Love Always

Rileypic

I've been keeping a sharp eye out for the murder hornets, because well wouldn't that just figure that they would be able to find me while on our stay-at-home order.  They'd buzz their giant asses right on into my house during those few moments my door is open after bringing in the mail. I don't have time to ponder such thoughts because I'm mostly trying to keep my household from resembling a fraternity house on a Sunday morning and failing miserable.  This last Sunday was pretty great though-how was your Mother's Day? My family gave me a Roomba, which we named Pete, and he's been trying to help us out with aforementioned frat house floor.  My daughter handed me this little doodle (sweetest 17 yo ever?) that, at first glance, says "Love Always."  I tole her  a "Thanks honey" and gave some big hugs and then when my eyes went back to the doodle, suddenly it appears to say "home Always." What the what?!  Is my mind playing tricks on me? Can you see it??! Because that is also VERY VERY true.  What is this trickery she has bestowed upon me?

BumblebeeThis is not a murder hornet. But I have time capture photos of bees on my walks now.

When I do venture out of the house, I put my mask on over my new little chipmunk cheeks and marvel at how sometimes social distancing has extended its hand to make us socially inept.  I've seen a few people snap at the grocery that don't yet realize the aisles are one-way. I'm wondering if we've turned into 'serious' zombies, ones that not only stay 6 feet apart but don't say hello or wave or hardly acknowledge those around us anymore.  This reminds me of when I was asking my daughter recently about her remote schooling.  And she said, "School is basically the same except they sucked all the fun out of it."  Have we had the fun sucked out of us? Say it isn't so.  I know I still have some fun left in me.

Instead of complaining I've decided to do something about it.  I purchased some coffee gift cards and now hand them to service people that deserve thanking or sometimes just unsuspecting grouchy people.  Their reaction is worth every penny- the softening of the eyes, the change in body language as they relax their shoulders and tip their heads in appreciation of a kind gesture.  I challenge you to do this too- it could be picking a flower or tipping extra or whatever your spin might be.  My UPS guy seemed to like the sampler box of whiskey mini-bottles I left for him.  Just saying. The checker at the grocery store was delightfully confused when I gave her a gift card. You do you.  It doesn't have to cost a thing. Spread a little kindness.  We all need it right now.

Oh, and speaking of which- please follow/like the Kirkland Blog's Facebook page.  There's a (hopefully entertaining) little photo contest up there now where you can win $100 gift card to Bibi Kitchen for their delicious take out. 

 


Kirkland's 4th Parade Cancelled

Shinydime
I've had a few, what I call,  "shiny dime days" recently.  When paying for something with cash pre-COVID  (back when we used to be out and use real money on occasion), and inevitably, somehow a shiny skinny little dime always escapes my clutches. Who invented those little buggers? Anyway, you know the feeling, everyone at the register hears it pliiiinkkk to the floor and offers to helps as it makes its edgy winding escape under a counter or into an unreachable crevice.  "Aaah, don't worry about it," I'd say not wanting to further advertise my clumsy hands or fret over ten cents.  Now in 2020,  I am losing days like I used to lose dimes.  I'll never get either of them back.  I may be waking up with intent, albeit a little later, but not-so-much really happens.   Maybe I've emptied some dishwashers, written a few emails, gone for a walk or watched movies with the fam.  Perhaps every day.  They are slipping through my fingers just like the shiny dimes, and I find myself still saying, "aaah, don't worry about it."  Because there's always tomorrow.  When this is all over I hope I can motivate myself to get more than one thing done in a day.  And I'll be picking up those dimes! 

As we look about 60 tomorrows into the future, it turns out we will still be celebrating America's birthday on July 4th, just not in the traditional way Kirkland is accustomed to.  Here is the update from Celebrate Kirkland taken from their website:

We have experienced unprecedented changes and adaptions in our daily lives since the beginning of March as our community and country have faced the impacts of our current health crisis. Kirkland Downtown Association cares deeply about the safety and well-being of our neighbors so we are continuing the theme of adapting and overcoming by exploring creative and safe ways we can celebrate Kirkland this 4th of July. While we won’t be having our traditional parade, community picnic, and fireworks as we have in the past, we are working on some extra-special ways to celebrate safely.
We look forward to the days we can join together again in our parks and businesses. When that day comes, rest assured, we will have a celebration like no other.

Can we drop firewarks from really high drones for us all to see from our homes? Flags in front of every home? A car parade for each neighborhood?  Hot dog and beer touchless delivery? Whatever it is, I know we'll figure it out-hang in there, Kirkland. #wegotthis

 


Not-So-Deep Thoughts During COVID-19

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All at once, time is both standing still and flying by.  I have a vague idea of what day it might be, but no urgency to figure it out.  Thoughts are clanking around in my brain like a forgotten quarter in the dryer.  So I jot them down on a piece of paper, in case they eventually make some sort of cohesive sense, and I thought I would share my compilation with you.  I know the news is constant and our inboxes are full with virus updates from every business we have ever worked with, so it seems like some light notes from our time at home might be relatable, if not, therapeutic. 

  • Is anybody else hiding food from their family? If I happen to buy a treat at 4pm, perhaps some cookies or chocolate, I can pretty much guarantee it will be gone by 8pm.  They are an incredibly engineered breed of scent-driven sweets hunters.   Right now there are chocolate covered raisins hidden in my underwear drawer (who would go there?!) and I will sneak a handful to ration out to everyone when the timing is right.  
  • Smiles are contagious, in a good way, but now they are all hidden under our masks! (photo, big grin)
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  • Many people, aside from essential workers, are SO accessible right now. Was there somebody you've always wanted to talk to? Or an old friend you never had time to catch up with?   Isolate physically but reach out virtually.  I've never heard so many people actually answer their phone!  Hey, does anyone have Oprah's number?
  • Just making sure that you know this important fact: menopausal women all over the globe wake up every morning in a cold sweat and take their temperature thinking they could have it. 
  • When school got canceled (the first time), one of my 17 yo girls said "Ohhh, it's like 99% of the stress just got lifted from my shoulders."  I thought that was interesting in a time when this situation is causing much greater stresses on so many people that for her it actually a bit of a relief moment, even though she is sad to miss her friends and teachers. Meanwhile, her sister is painting/creating COVID-19 planners. (photo at top)
  • I put some jeans on today for the first time in weeks and they fit! Winning!
  • Who has TikTok? If you have hours of your life that you would like to make disappear, this is a great way to do it with some belly laughs along the way.  Make your family do one of the group dances, I'll be looking for you.
  • -I am not hoarding.  My family actually eats this much.  3 teenagers=(2) costco 3 packs of milk and (2) 18 packs of eggs in any given pre-Covid week.    
  • -I bought some hand sanitizer from Heritage Distillery and am hoping I don't mistakenly drink it on any given day at 5pm (photo)
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  • -Is it too early/presumptive to start planning a Christmas party at my house?  Somehow that would bring me joy now.   
  • I went for a walk with Riley and was noticing how many bunnies and birds seemed unusually close to us, almost as if they were saying hello.  "Perhaps they miss seeing people too?" I asked. "Or maybe they're always there and you're just now taking the time to notice?" she said.  Touché. 
  • It will be interesting to see  stats on how many divorces, alcoholics and babies this quarantine produces.
  • For teen drivers w/permits, this is a great time to practice driving on less congested roads without making everyone around your crazy (except your parent in the passenger's seat)
  • Do you think we'll ever phase back into shaking hands? If we do, can those of you with wimpy handshakes please use this downtime to practice a bit?
  • COVID makeover- this will be a mandatory step in the recovery process as I am looking quite primitive now.  Gyms, hair and nail salons will be a hot commodity when they re-open.   
  • I was driving the other day and suddenly felt a wave of emotion and welled up with tears.  Was it from that quick taste of lost freedoms? The build up of going on for weeks  pretending this new life is normal? Or my mask pinching me behind the ears? I'll never know.  We all have these moments.  Acknowledge them.  Move forward. 
  • I took the gray polish off of my toes and did them bright pink instead.  It just feels happier. And sometimes I wear bright clothes that don't necessarily match. Try it. It's liberating and makes me laugh at myself.
  • So, I try to check in with my mom every day. But it's mind-blowing- like Groundhog Day- hearing the same info/news updates because she never leaves the house anymore and has nothing new to talk about.  She did say we could use a Jonas Salk right now, which is very true,  and then she will tell me again tomorrow.
  • Mother Earth.  I feel like she's taking a giant inhalation with her head tipped back and her arms held out wide.  Her fish are returning to the newly clear waters of Venice.  Air quality has greatly improved, especially in LA and China. Her bunnies and birds are enjoying their space again on my walks again. What will we do?  What will she?
  • Not being rushed by my teens/our hectic schedules and being able to have family dinner every evening has been an upside to this giant slowdown.   
  • I'm so thankful for every healthcare worker, truck driver, mailman, no-touch food delivery person, fire/policemen, grocery workers, and behind the scenes people that keep our days moving forward for all of us. 
  • This Seattle video made me well up (again). We're making great strides, WA, but we're not there yet.  We can do this.  And yes, I miss your face. xo

Kindness is Contagious

I recently received this email from Victoria & Mark Fanning, owners of Crown Linen Designs. Donate $99 before April 5th and receive a $50 Crown Linen gift card (free contact-free delivery too!).   What a clever idea to accelerate giving to a local cause that is helping our local healthcare teams stay strong as they fight COVID-19... here is their note... thx for being awesome, Kirkland.

As you may be aware, over the last two weeks, The Herbfarm in Woodinville has been delivering free, delicious and nutritious meals nightly to medical teams at our local hospitals.  Thanks to all of you who have already supported this effort!

Clearly, these health care heroes are on the front line of this pandemic.  We just can't do enough for them right now.  

To date,The Herbfarm has delivered over 2,065 meals to Evergreen, Overlake, Virginia Mason, Swedish, Kaiser Permanente, UW and other local hospitals.  They are adding new hospitals next week and hope to continue this effort as long as needed. 

Not only are these heroes thrilled with a dinner from The Herbfarm, they always comment on how much the community support means to them.  

Can you believe it?  They give thanks for what others are doing!   It is the embodiment, not only of heroism, but grace - beyond inspiring. 

Also inspiring is the commitment of owners Ron Zimmerman and Carrie Van Dyck and Chef Chris Weber and The Herbfarm team to make this happen.  I honestly don't know when they sleep!  

To fund this endeavor a Gofundme campaign has raised about $80K to date but we want to keep this effort going as long as there is a need.  

Here's a link where you can learn more:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/meal-delivery-puget-sound-covid-19-hospital-staff

A Patreon site has also been set up for those who are able to make recurring donations:

https://www.patreon.com/theherbfarm

If you are considering contributing, Crown Linen Designs in Kirkland (906 Market Street) is offering a $50.00 gift card for every $99.00 you donate between now and April 5.  You can order online and we will deliver it for free (and contact free) anywhere in King County within 2 business days. 

Here's what you do if you you're interested: 

Make a contribution of $99 or more on the Gofundmesite and include your name. 

Always have the last digit of your contribution be be a "9" so we will know who you are.  Every $99 dollars earns you another $50 gift certificate!

Visit us online at www.crownlinendesigns.com and find what you like.  The offer applies to our entire line of apparel, bedding, tabletop and gifts including sale items.

Email us at www.retail@crownlinendesigns.com and let us know what you would like to purchase and we will contact you to arrange delivery. 

Please contact me at this email, at mark@crownlinendesigns.com or on my cell (425) 864-0921 if you would like more info.  

Thanks for anything you can do.  I promise - it really is making a difference - and we really can't do enough for these heroes.

With deepest wishes for health for you and your loved ones. 

Victoria & Mark Fanning

Crown Linen Designs

906 Market Street

Kirkland, WA 98033

Main: 425-406-8975

PS - Feel free to forward this email and offer to your friends and promote it on your social media. Anything you can do to get the word out is greatly appreciated. 


Blue Ribbons for Hope

BlueRibbonsTrishaLavoice  Blueribbonslifecare

Have you noticed blue ribbons around many of our trees in Kirkland?  Special thanks to Tricia LaVoice for spearheading this effort to show people that a simple gesture can help people feel not-so-alone during this COVID-19 outbreak.  This is especially meaningful for many of our seniors that are feeling frightened and isolated, but can  now look out their window in their nursing homes and know their community is thinking of them. 

Tricia has wrapped over 150 trees so far!  There are currently 11 nursing homes that are impacted by the virus in King County and she is focusing on using safe distancing measures while single-handedly and methodically getting to each of their trees with her ribbons of hope.   This angelic lady has also adorned the trees on Park Lane, Lake St and Market St to represent the connection of  the Kirkland Life Care Center to its city and our hearts.  Tricia told me, "it's just my little part that I can do" and it would be great if others across the country also recognized their local nursing homes and how much meaning this can have for those residents.  Just today as she was checking on the ribbons at Life Care, someone pulled up and asked if she was taking them down.  "No, I'm just fixing them up" Tricia said, and the person thanked her for keeping them there as her mom really appreciates looking at them out her window.  

Blueribboncowandpig
"I wanted to share love, not fear, and this community has always been so nice and has really stepped up their game to be friendly, sweet, and supportive while still respecting the boundaries that we need to have right now."  Tricia mentioned the awesomeness (is that a word?) of Kirkland Life Care and the outpouring of support they are receiving , but to remember that there are many other nursing homes and care facilities where our elder population are feeling scared and alone.

How can we help her?    She's also running low on silk flowers and ribbon, so email her if you have some for a 'no contact' pickup or need a delivery address for an online order. If you have blue ribbon,  you can also put some around your own trees in your yard to show your support.  Like her FB page here.

 


What's Your New Normal?

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Things are changing at a rapid rate, so it's tough to keep track of what is or isn't okay in Kirkland these days.  Staying home mostly? Yes, that's okay because it sounds like more cases of asymptomatic transmission are popping up and we are unknowingly spreading COVID-19 to others.   But the amount of food I am eating while chillaxing in my house? That's not okay.  And now that the kids are out of school for 6 weeks I'm pretty sure we may all lose our minds, but we're determined to do this for the good of everybody.  This is not a drill.  This is for real, friends, let's follow the guidelines we've been given by our state and federal government.  If we can't manage to keep ourselves out of populated public spaces,  the likely next step is that they  will do it for us.   So let's impress and air on the side of caution.

That being said, you don't have to barricade yourself in your house with your 600 rolls of TP (still don't understand that, this isn't dysentery).  I have seen many heartfelt community efforts on the Be Neighborly Facebook page of people offering to do errands and food shopping for the higher risk citizens that shouldn't be out and about.  There was also a food sign-up (not making food, buying food)  for Kirkland Life Care residents and workers. You may want to donate gift cards to Nourishing Networks or donate/volunteer through the Lake WA School Foundation's Pantry Packs program, so those local kids that have food needs are being served.  Buy gift cards to local restaurants and businesses to help see them through this tough time. Or a free idea.. you could give blood.

IMG_8602 Opening Day (pushed to 3.26) tee at Asher Goods
I really appreciate the innovation coming from some of our local businesses.  Times are changing so let's get creative, right?  DERU Market now uses their parking area as a drive-thru for pickups and will be open 7 days/wk and doing deliveries.  Lake St Diamond Company  sent an email saying they are implementing 'teleconsults' via text, email or zoom in addition to store sanitizing and social distancing. Comcast announced it would offer free public wi-fi hotspots throughout the country during this pandemic.  Some places are understanding of the required slow-down and are suspending operations, such as Lynn's Bistro until 3/30, Lakehouse in Bellevue, and I'm sure many more to come in future days.  The ski runs are closing gyms are talking about putting workouts online for their clients to do while they are staying home.  Holly Smith of just announced "At Home with Cafe Juanita" so you can order and pickup on certain days/times through their virtual store.  I know the Kirkland Chamber of Commerce is working really hard to help support our local businesses through these tough times.  Are you friends with the Kirkland Blog on Facebook? I'm going to start doing snapshots of local business owners and ways you can still get their products/food. Shoutout to Asher Goods  and their Opening Day tees is up there right now. 

Our family has been talking about how we want to structure our days, reiterating to our teens that we can't sleep in until noon every day.  Steve is re-organizing his entire closet at this very moment and I have a feeling the garage is next.  Good news, the weather is great for a few days so get outside.  We're so lucky to have the Cross Kirkland Corridor and amazing parks for walks.   At our house, we were thinking about having a few 'no tech' days where we put our phones down completely (gasp!). The slow down of everything can more easily allow for a 'fun' experiment like that.  This seems like a perfect time to take a Masterclass online with a famous expert in their field.  Wordscape is a very dangerously addictive word app you might like.  Or maybe we can invent something- like some hand sanitizer that smells like orange blossoms and simultaneously moisturizes my chapped over-washed hands?  Feel free to share your ideas of how to use our down time wisely.


Can You Loan Me $65 for Some Hand Sanitizer?

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With our amazing community of people, charming downtown and phenomenal sweeping lake views, who would have ever thought that Kirkland, "Washing-hands-a-ton" would make global news for being the US epicenter for COVID-19? But here we are.  It looks like we may not make the  "Best Places to Live" list again this year, but that's the least of our problems.  Lucky for you, I'm not the news, so instead of throwing a bunch of up to the minute statistics  at you and current local advisories, I thought I would try to keep it light and look at the bright side, because sometimes we need that.  Especially w some kids home from school and spouses working from home and 2 rolls of toilet paper left. 

Here are some of my random observations and not-always-particularly-wise tips on how to look at the bright side:

  • I'm so proud-you guys are eating your fruits and veggies! Nice work, Kirkland. Of course the TP, hand sanitizer and water are depleted from all of the stores, but I was really impressed to know that you realize the importance of fresh produce for your overall health and have decided to also clear out most of the hardy greens and fresh fruits.  A+ people.  I've noticed a post that Met Market was cleared out of kombucha, artisan breads and black truffle burrata.  Aren't we fancy!
  • A few weeks ago I was looking for face masks online  and came to realize some of them were being shipped from China.  I could have COVID-19 delivered straight to my front door? How's that for irony?   
  • I'm worried for our local businesses that have seen a tremendous downturn in the past month.  It's good that you're staying safe and following guidelines to minimize the potential spread, but maybe we can do some online ordering to help keep them afloat? By the way, WowWow Lemonade has permanently closed their Kirkland location.  And there is a Grand Opening event this weekend for Mr. Wish at 320 4th St (next to the Shell on Central Way) and they are excited to be here with their freshly brewed fruit tea, smoothies, bubble tea and milk tea.  Here's their flyer for a "buy one get one free" event 3/9-3/10.
  •  Mr.WishGrand Open Poster
  • We all know how to wash our hands while singing happy birthday now. It's easier than chewing gum and tapping your head.  And I mean REALLY wash our hands, nothing like pre-Corona hand washing. We are paying extra attention to fingertips, thumbs, that meaty blob under your pinkies and the back of your hands.  And using the paper towel or an elbow to turn the water off when done drying.  And then there's Ellen's way
  • Handshaking is so 2019.  Hugs? Don't you dare. It's a foot-shake now folks, and here's how you do it.  
  • On the upside, traffic is non-existent. And I went to the gym yesterday and rolled right in to my favorite parking spot, used my sleeve to open the doors and wiped down everything before and after I used it.  I appreciate that the staff is visibly wiping down equipment and doorways/knobs constantly.  But I was mostly by myself (with my new haircut), as you can see by the sea of empty treadmills. Good news: The lake is flat and I just got word that a boat is de-winterized so my future workouts may be waterskiing- especially since it's a gloved sport and I'm hoping COVID-19 can't sustain the 48 degree water temp like my drysuit can.  
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  • Airfare is cheap.  I just got an email from Alaska about flights starting at $20 one way.  In case you're plotting an escape...
  • Or-stay! This is a great time to organize at home! Before the stir-crazy part sets in, I'm thinking I can clean up some crap piles of paper from my office and re-arrange some furniture to keep things exciting around here. 
  • Teach your kids negotiating skills by bartering for in-demand quarantine supplies.  I'll trade you 3 rolls of toilet paper for that hand sanitizer?  In a pinch, you can make your own hand sanitizer.   My dad texted to let me know there's a way to make sanitizer with vodka.  But I would never waste perfectly good vodka that way. I still have some olives around here somewhere and I could just as easily start my cleansing on the interior. 
  • One silver lining of having  Kirkland unwilling land in the national news is the re-connections that it has sparked.  My mom heard from a friend she hasn't spoken to in 20 years.  I'm getting Facebook messages from friends all over the country checking in.
  • Feel free to share your upside stories and advice for this not-so-awesome time in Kirkland.  It's kind of a nice break from the news. :-)  

 


Mix it up with a little Mystery

Mysterylogo
On Friday night, Steve and I went on a "Mystery" date that I had purchased for him as a Christmas gift.   Don't worry I was still his date, that part was not the mystery,  but we had no idea where we were going.  We didn't do any planning whatsoever.   I just answered a few questions about our level of adventure, noise preferences, degree of alcoholism,  food preferences, and budget and followed the real-time instructions that the Mystery app provided.  Yes, this requires a leap of faith, but one you'll likely be thankful for, if you take it. 

We received a text on Tuesday reminding us that Friday was our Mystery date.  And then a text again on Friday with the one hour countdown.  Our directions were to meet at the Evergreen Park & Ride in Medina where our Lyft will be waiting for us at 6:15 pm to take us to our first destination.  How exciting! There's something totally freeing about not being responsible for figuring out a plan or  making a reservation. We could just show up.  I can do that.  And there's no possibility that we would change our minds and just watch Netflix with some Thai take-out because we had confirmed, and the curiosity factor was running high.

MysterydateThis is Mystery's photo. Steve & I not this young and adorable by any stretch of the imagination.

Our Lyft was waiting for us when we arrived at 6:10 and it immediately zipped us toward the 520 bridge with, miraculously, no traffic.  As the car was winding towards Fremont and Steve and I are giggling and guessing where it might be taking us, an alert from the Mystery app pops up on our phones.  "Your destination is 2 minutes away. Are you ready for it to be revealed?"  Yes, of course, secrets drive me bananas.  And it was.... a private salsa dancing lesson for two at Salsa Con Todo! But since we arrived a bit early we were able to squeeze in a martini a few doors down, which we felt would greatly prepare us for our upcoming dance lesson.  Casey from Mystery was communicating with us via the app during each step of the evening, so if we had questions, we could get an answer immediately.  I'm not going to lie, when that reveal for salsa dancing popped up I thought it was a super fun idea, but then Steve sort of mumbled an 'oohhhh boy.'  The location was a place that I once walked past with girlfriends months ago and we had ogled at all of the dancers having a blast on the dance floor, so for me this was like a dream come true.  Steve, however......his parents were both Arthur Murray dance instructors (that's how they met) which was pretty hot back before Dancing with the Stars, and it's clear that Steve opted for playing basketball in the street with his buddies instead of yielding any dance guidance from his pros at home.  The guy has definitely fot rhythm, but there's always an air of regret or unfulfilled potential when dancing comes up.  But we had a BLAST! Our instructor was patient and funny and she gave great guidance as we hysterically laughed at ourselves.  This delightful hour is possibly the longest amount of time I have seen my husbands eyes not looking at his phone in the past few months. This is why I have no pics from our date, because we were too busy enjoying the moment and wondering what was about to happen next.  Brilliant.

As our lesson ended at 8pm, our app alerted us that our Lyft  was 4 mins away and would take us to our next destination..  We scurried down the stairs and outside to find the gray Prius and awesome driver named Sara that awaited us.  She had no idea we were on a Mystery Date but thoroughly enjoyed hearing about our evening and being part of the adventure. We wove through neighborhoods of stoic close-knit Seattle homes with streets packed with cars and our simple little vanilla Eastside brains were laughing aloud, "where are we? near UW? heading north? Where is she taking us?"  And at last, the reveal from the app, a few minutes before arrival told us we'd be eating at Frank's Oyster House & Champagne Parlor.  We checked in and they had a cozy table in the front window waiting for us.  Deviled eggs, shrimp, fried chicken (their signature dish), wine and even the banana split for dessert. The food was excellent and the vibe was that same cool dark delicious Seattle feel that reminds me we should try to get there more often.  Never in a million years would we have found that place and gone there on our own. After licking our plates clean we clicked the link in the app that would beckon our Lyft home, sad to have our series of surprises come to an end.  

I asked Mystery if they did any Eastside adventures and right now they only do that upon request so they can maximize the chances of sending people to experience new places. This was a fun video of another couple documenting their Mystery experience. This local company just had their one year anniversary and loves when people are willing to dive in head-first and just let the experience happen with an open mind.  The pricing works like this- you tell them a per person price range ($50-100) ($100-150) and they work within that.  Remember the Lyft rides will eat some of that budget too (if you plan to indulge in drinks).  Mystery billed us  for the Lyfts and the dancing but the dinner we paid for directly (the app told us this ahead of time). The total amount came in under right under budget. FREEBIE ALERT: There is typically a $20 planning fee, which is WAIVED if you use this link for your first experience. YAY! They also now do single-stop options for either a meal or activity that don't have additional fees.  I hate to send you out of Kirkland, but this was FUN.  And different.  A change of scenery is always good-push outside your comfort zone.  Surprise your date, enjoy some family time,  go on a group/team outing, or give this experience as a gift.  What a great way to appreciate the moment you are in.   Even if someone else put you there. ~j