« June 2006 | Main | August 2006 »

Woodlands Park: Where your Imagination can Run Free

Woodlandsparkcastle North Rose Hill's Woodlands Park (located at 9930 124th Ave NE) will peak your curiosity when you drive down this popular thorough-fare.  It's a fenced in castle fortress equipped with bouncy bridges, a tire swing, creative painting, and a life-size chess set with plenty of open area for romping around.  Check out the pics.

But how do you get to it?  There's no parking along 124th, no lot, and you certainly don't want to be crossing 124th with small children anxious to escape you.  What a tease! All five of us loaded in the car to experience this park and had to circle the whole block before figuring out how to actually get there.  All while listening to the chorus in the back seat, "Mommy is that the park?  Where did it go?  Why are we going this way?  Are we still going to the park? P-L-E-A-A-A-S-E can we go to the park?"  For three year olds this must be the equivalent of seeing an ice cream sundae and having no spoon---so close, yet so far! 

Woodlandsparkafar Anyway, once we finally figured out that the best we could do is park on NE 95th in front of some homes and walk down the little nature trail, all was good in the world again.  This park was creatively designed by ideas that came from children who voiced what they would like to see in their neighborhood park.  And the intent was for it to be a community gathering place for the North Rose Hill residents, so therefore, maybe lots of those folks are just walking over.   They probably opted for no parking to keep people like the Rabuchins from busting in on their park. After all, they volunteered, funded and helped build the whole thing!

The structure is nicely put together with a Trex-like material and has lots of different alcoves and tunnels and varying challenges for a young child's imagination to explore.  The painting is fabulous-Woodlandsparkdragon  check out the dragon to the right here.   There's even a section for smaller tots to tinker around in (with the exception of baby swings).  There's no bathroom, although the Kirkland Parks website says you can use the one at the adjacent Fire Station 26, which would still be a hike if you have a 2 year old that doesn't give you that much warning time.  The same site says you can park there too.  That would have been good to know at the time.    Definitely worth checking out- great play area.  Just bring your walking shoes and pee before you leave the house.  ~Janis

Murders and Drugs in Kirkland, oh my!

When Steve and I used to live in Atlanta, we'd watch the news and hear a summary of all the homicides, break-ins, fires, prostitution rings, and crack-house bust ups that one set of ears could tolerate.  They should make a CSI: Atlanta, cause there's plenty of material for writers to choose from there. 

After moving to Kirkland, we got a chuckle out of the local feature stories which usually covered a nearby hero rescuing a lost kitty cat out of an overflowing waterway.  So sweet! Not complaining, though.  All is good in our peaceful little town.  Until lately--check these out--what's up Kirkland? 

The stories above are really sad.  And I've got to say that the teen drug ring story makes me think that someone should be looking into the Kirkland transit center and teen center with a sharper eye.       ~Janis 


Kirkland Pizza with a Purpose


Bucky Beaver Days at Coyote Creek Pizza! 

All day: July 25, 26, & 27th.

Coyote Creek is not your ordinary pizzeria.  And Bucky Beaver is not your ordinary pre-school.

Please show your support by visiting the Coyote Creek in Kirkland for some gourmet hand-tossed pizza in a relaxed environment on Tues 7/25, Weds 7/26, or Thurs 7/27 when a percentage of the proceeds will be donated to Bucky Beaver Preschool.  Who knew eating pizza (and salads, calzones and paninis) could be for such a good cause?  Grab some food there to bring to the FREE concerts at Marina Park that week.  Bring a friend, tell a neighbor, spread the word!

222 Central Way- Parking behind the building, on the street, in the lot on Central/Lake or the public parking at the library deck.  Reservations welcomed: 425-822-2226

Wireless in the Park...I just don't get it!

Logo_wireless3910 Not sure if y'all know, but the City of Kirkland is in the process of spending $114,671 of our tax dollars to run a 15 month pilot project to offer wireless access in two downtown parks. Did you know it was live right now?   After I heard this I started to wonder why this is going on and who really wanted it?  Did the citizens all petition our city to get this done?  Is there huge demand for wireless in our parks? Perhaps this offers the city a new revenue source to ease our burden a bit?  Was this the best use of of 115 big ones?  I just don't get it! 

First let's get some facts down (click here for an overview of the project and access to the FAQ).  Here is why the city is saying you might use Wireless in the Park:

  1. Perhaps you are a local parent and need to answer email while your children play in the park.
  2. It's one of our fabulous sunny days and you can't resist moving your meeting outside. 
  3. You are a visitor and want to find out about the restaurants in town. 

Now let's break this down a bit.   Janis and I take our kids to the parks all the time (read our park reviews if you don't believe me).  The last thing Janis or I want to do is bring our laptops along, ignore our kids, and sit there doing email (besides, a blackberry device works much better if you really must do email that often--you don't need the city to provide wireless either).  OK, so let's suppose you do bring your laptop to the park and it's one of those nice sunny days the city references above.  Have you ever tried looking at a laptop outside, during a sunny day?  You can't see a damn thing unless you are sitting in a covered/shady area--which are not abundant in either Peter Kirk Park or Marina Park.  Better yet, let's take the "visitor" benefit statement.  Yup, I see visitors all the time just walking around our parks with their laptops wondering where the heck they might find a restaurant around Kirkland. Then they get all frustrated because we don't have wireless in our parks.  I just don't get it!   

So why is the city spending our hard earned tax dollars on this project?   Many of the local businesses already offer WI-FI for free.  Kahili is a great example.  The city mentions the likes of San Francisco and Philly as examples of other cities that are putting in wireless networks.   Is that the reason we are doing the pilot?  So we can be like San Francisco?   I just don't get it!

OK, here is my last rant on this topic.  I have been going to a few of the City Council meetings lately, and have read some of the requests for new funding for various projects/investments/human resources, etc.  Every time I go to these events all I hear is how poor the city is, how understaffed we are compared to other cities our size, and how we need more greenbacks to run the city properly.  Then I see the spending for "Wireless in the Park" and several other projects where we just seem to be throwing money around (e.g paying an architect firm 50k to do a study on the old Kirkland Cannery--does the city even own the building?).

So I guess my point here is that I hope the city is doing things we really need and providing services people are really asking for--versus just doing things just because they can.   We all pay a lot of taxes here especially if you own property in Kirkland.   Let's make sure we are spending it wisely or saving it for the future.   Again, I just don't get it. 

Please provide your opinion by adding comments.   I am happy to be convinced this is a good use of funds...Steve   

Carillon Point Ques Up Outdoor Movies for the Summer

Carillon Outdoor movies seem to be all the rage.  We used to trek to Fremont or the Red Hook Brewery, but now we have our own right here in Kirkland.  This Saturday, July 15th, Carillon Properties will be hosting their first with a showing of "E.T" (can you believe Steve has NEVER seen this movie?!?!).  The Plaza at Carillon Point opens at 7, then the Beach Cafe's Beer Garden is ready for you at 8, and the movie starts at dusk around 9:30 or 10pm.  You should note that the Budweiser girls will be in attendance ;-)

Carillonmovies As you can see from the photo, this all takes part by the big 'bells' and the movie will be shown on a 12x7 screen- Rain or Shine!    Entry is free with a suggested $5 donation which goes to Hopelink.  The first 50 people to donate $10 get a $10 gift card to the Beach Cafe or Yarrow Bay Grill.  For parking, you can pay underneath or park for free in the lots at the 3000 and 5000 buildings.

Hopelink will also have vendors with popcorn and candy so you can get yourself a treat after eating at one of the nearby restaurants.  You can bring your own low-backed seating, or there will also be some chairs already arranged there in the back.  Future movie showings can be found here.  Details on other Kirkland outdoor movies (Juanita Beach and Peter Kirk Park) are here. Carillon Properties is hoping to start a new tradition in the community and plan to continue doing their outdoor movie events every summer.   ~Janis

SummerFest 2006

July 14th through July 16th is Summerfest this year at Marina Park in Kirkland.  Friday 2-9, Sat 10-8, Sun 10-6.  This event is sponsored by the Kirkland Arts Center and features 120 artists (ceramics, glass, wood, painting, you name it!) complimented by local food, wine and music down by the waterfront.  Over 40,000 visitors typically swarm in for this one, so you might want to think about your parking strategy ahead of time. 

The wine tasting garden has free admission, and for $15-20 you can purchase a 'tasting package.'  Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet.
Summerfestpainter Couldn't they have thought of a more delicious name for it?  This gives me a visual of licking stamps for some reason.  I guess that would be a tasty package. Nevertheless, I'm sure you'll find me hanging out sipping wine there.  There will be 10 local wineries that will each feature up to 3 varietals.  Of course, there will be experts there to answer all of your worldly questions and help you stock up your wine cellar.

There will be some food samplings from local faves such as Mixtura, The Sake House, Marina Park Grill and the Waters Lakeside Bistro. Check here for specific times to catch these yummies. The weather is supposed to shape up by the weekend, so get yourself ready for some culture down on the waterfront. ~Janis

Top 5 Outdoor Eating Spots in Kirkland

Usually Summer doesn't officially start in Kirkland until July 5--when the rainy June weather finally breaks and we can count on sunny days through September.  This year we have had an incredible June.    It's been sunny, hot, and everyone seems to be out on the lake, enjoying downtown Kirkland, walking along Lake Street, and just hanging out around town.   Summer is here!

So where do you go if you want to sit down, have some food/drink, and just be outside? Here is what I would consider the top 5 outdoor eating options in Kirkland.  These are not necessarily ranked because of their food, but on being a cool place to sit outside, soak up some sun, eat/drink, and of course do some good people watching.   My unofficial list:

  1. Outdoorslip The Slip--we  love The Slip because it's a very casual burger joint with more outside seating that inside seating.  The location overlooks Marina Park in Downtown Kirkland and you can enjoy low priced food, a full-bar, and is perfect for people watching.  They bake their fries and have an awesome earth burgers too! Additional outdoor seating this year under the tented patio too. They are located at 80 Kirkland Avenue and their phone number is 425-739-0033.   
  1. Outdoormarinaparkgrill Marina Park Grill--this  outdoor patio is right across the street from The Slip.  You will get a lot of direct sun sitting at the Marina Grill, but it's a nice setting and again a perfect spot for being downtown and close to the water.    This is a nice seafood and steak restaurant (click here for the dinner menu) and a bit more pricey than The Slip.   They are located at 89 Kirkland Avenue and their phone number is 425-889-9000. 
  1. Outsidebeachcafe Beach Cafe--this restaurant has the best view of all the outdoor options.  It's attached to the Woodmark Hotel and sits right along the shore  of Lake Washington in Carillon Point.   It's also a very popular happy hour location with all the Carillon Point office buildings close by.  Click here for their menus.  BTW, the menu looks great, but I have never been too impressed by the food  there.  If you want a better meal go upstairs to the Yarrow Bay Grill and then after dinner hang out at the Beach Cafe patio for a drink.   The Beach Cafe is located at 1270 Carillon Point and their phone number is 425-889-9052
  1. Outsidepurple Purple Cafe and Wine Bar--Purple has a nice outdoor patio and you will see a very "in" crowd hanging out there.   They have good food, an impressive wine list, and have a good following of faithful customers.  They get good marks for the crowd, atmosphere, and food/wine.  That said, it's in the middle of a parking lot in Kirkland Parkplace so don't expect a nice view of the lake or anything else for that matter.   Just enjoy the wine and then a movie afterward ('The Devil Wears Prada' was quite funny) at the Kirkland Parkplace Cinema (Kirkland's only movie theaters).  The are located at   323 Park Place and their phone number is 425-828-3772
  1. Outdoorwilderover Wilde Rover--I like this place because it has two different outside venues.  First, they have seating along Central Way in the heart of Downtown or you can sit  on their expansive deck overlooking Marina Park--and it's somewhat shaded too.   Wilde Rover is an Irish Pub that offers Irish food and you guessed it--beer!  Wilde Rover is  located at  111 Central Way and their phone number is 425-822--8940.   

I guess no matter where you are in Kirkland--if  you are outside it's ALL GOOD.   There are lots of other fine places to sit  outside in Kirkland.  Here are some others that almost made the list:  Cactus, Zeeks Pizza, and Mixtura.    It all depends on what you are looking for...

Would like to hear your comments on this post as usual.  Steve

Kirkland's Red, White & Blue

Just got back, so thought I'd share some photos from the Fourth of July Parade and festivities downtown today.  You can double-click on them to enlarge.  Now I'm going to take a nap in the sun so I'll have enough energy to stay awake for the fireworks tonight! :-)             ~Janis

4th_of_july_2006_011 4th_of_july_2006_014                           4th_of_july_2006_015                         4th_of_july_2006_016                          4th_of_july_2006_026                         

4th_of_july_2006_019 4th_of_july_2006_032                         4th_of_julysteve_06_024                           4th_of_julysteve_06_026                         4th_of_july_2006_037                         

4th_of_julysteve_06_013 4th_of_july_2006_041                        

Guest Reviewer Gives Clancy's Bistro a Thumb's Up

Clancysbistro If we do every new restaurant review in Kirkland,I won't be able to stuff myself into my bikini this summer.  It's already questionable.  So when our friends and fellow Kirklanders,  Prerna and Sunny of Juanita, said they recently tried out Clancy's Bistro, I jumped at the chance to have them share their review.   Many thanks, guys. Here's the low-down from Prerna:

My friends & I went to Clancy's Bistro, a little Italian place on Lake Washington Blvd in Kirkland on the water (previously Foghorn Restaurant). Everything was good..the food, the service, and the views of Lake Washington are magnificent.

The staff was very polite and always on top of things - in fact, we had 2 children with us and they did an amazing job of entertaining our kids. It was attentive and prompt, a welcomed touch. We were promptly shown to our table (we had reservations) and within minutes, the owner read us his specials. Fresh, soft, Italian bread was placed on our table, while we looked over our menus which carried an interesting mix of appetizers, pasta, and seafood dishes. The wine selection was good.

We ordered the "Calamari al Salto", and "Mozzarella Caprese" for an appetizer (each was $9) and both were very good. For our main course, we ordered one of the pasta specials "Spaghetti De Maro" with seafood and basil and another "Rigatoni Bolognese" with meat sauce (each $13) both prepared aldente and to perfection. Other folks ordered the halibut - that was good too.  Prices are very reasonable for a high end restaurant . Very fitting in price for Kirkland and value of food.

The owner Tim Clancy was very personable.

In terms of decor and ambiance, it is very similar to previously; lots of low candlelight, booths and tables tiered for optimizing the view, all set in a kind of old house.  Although the seating accommodations may appear to be a bit close and furniture on the older style, once settled, there was more than ample space around each table to enjoy a good conversation.

We plan on visiting Clancy's again soon and would highly recommend Clancy's to anyone in need of delicious, authentic Italian cooking and good service.

6023 Lake Washington Blvd NE
Kirkland WA 98033
425-827-0654, Reservations recommended, but not required.  They open at 5 everyday for dinner.

PS- looks like they do brunch too- that mushroom, spinach and goat cheese frittata sounds delicious! Brunch hours are Sat/Sun 10-2