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Extreme Make-Over: Kirkland

The Chapin family of the Highlands Neighborhood in Kirkland, Washington was notified that they were selected as the “Hero Family” for ABC’s Extreme Makeover Home Edition.  Miss Connie has been teaching children swimming lessons at her home for many years and well loved by many Kirkland residents.  As the family vacations away from Kirkland, their existing home will be demolished and a new one constructed.  The Building Industry Association of Washington State (BIAW) and Doyle Custom Homes are leading the construction efforts.  Construction activities, including demolition, will begin on September 27; with the new home being completed and furnished by October 3.  Road closures will be necessary near the project site on 116th Avenue NE.  A spectator shuttle will operate from Everest Park, 500 8th Street, beginning on September 28 through October 3 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.   For traffic updates and shuttle information, go to www.ci.kirkland.wa.us/project511.  Contact the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) at 1-800-228-4229 or go to www.greenextrememakeover.com to learn more about the design elements, contributing contractors, and volunteer opportunities (including being part of the crowd!).   ~Janis

Amazon Fresh in Kirkland

Amazonfresh_2 Lots of Kirkland Weblog readers have emailed us asking about the Amazon Fresh sign at the corner of Central Way and 3rd Street.   What is it?  Why Kirkland?  How does it work?  Should I try it? What the heck is Amazon up to?  Taken straight from the Amazon Fresh website it's "A new on-line grocery service founded by Amazon, serving customers in the Seattle area."

I knew we had to blog about Amazon Fresh, but thought the best way to approach the story would be to actually use the service and let you know what our experience was like.   So here goes...

First you go to the website at www.amazon fresh.com  and login using your Amazon credentials.  Some of you might need to ask for an access code.  Once in you basically shop (online), using the cool user interface to add items to your virtual shopping cart.  Amazon Fresh sells everything from fresh Coho Salmon, to organic fruits/vegetables, to non-perishables--and everything in between.  There are lots of specials and new items being added all the time.  Once you are done with your order you can choose an option for how you want to get your goods in Kirkland:

  1. Pre-dawn delivery--here you place your order and your items arrive at your house sometime before 6am (and they do it quietly so you are not bothered during valuable sleep time). Outside your door you will find temperature controlled totes nicely packed with the goods and a copy of your order on standard paper.  Delivery is free once you hit the minimum order. 
  2. Arrange for delivery to your home during the day/night and choose a one hour window for when you want the drop-off made.  In other words, make an appointment and Amazon Fresh will deliver! Delivery is free once you hit the minimum order.
  3. Pick up your groceries at the local pickup station--in this case, where you see the sign on Central Way.  There is no minimum for pickup and you can do same day orders too.

Amazonfreshdelivery_004 So that is the basic rundown of the offering, but does it all work as advertised?  I signed on to Amazon Fresh Tuesday night around 9pm.   Janis had already done some shopping early that day so we didn't need a huge delivery, but with five mouthes to feed in the home we can always use more food--especially fruits, veggies, and fresh meats/fish.    After signing on I just started clicking on items I thought looked good from the pictures on the website.  I ordered 4 apples, 2 pears, a box of strawberries, 2 avocados (had to choose between ripe and almost ripe), Coho Salmon, lunch meats, some various dried fruits, and a few other items for the kids.  The site can be summed up in one word--easy!  You can add and delete items with a click and your entire order is seen at all times in a window on the right hand side of your screen with your dollar totals.  The pricing seemed comparable to the grocery store prices.  Elapsed shopping time equaled about 15 minutes (usually the time it takes me to drive to QFC and find a parking spot). 

Amazonfreshdelivery_005 After I completed my order I selected pre-dawn delivery.  I ordered up about $40 worth of food so the delivery for pre-dawn was free (I think the min order was $30 before it's free) and right now Amazon is waiving sales tax.  I must admit I was pretty excited to see what would be at my door in the morning.  I woke about 6:30am.  I opened the door and sitting there where hard plastic yellow and green totes from Amazon Fresh.  I carried them inside and began to unpack.  The totes were brand new, the groceries were nicely packed in brown paper Amazon Fresh grocery bags, and the totes had Amazon Fresh ice packs embedded inside for temp control.  Most importantly the produce and meat all looked exactly like the pictures on the website and everything was, dare I say...extremely fresh.  During the entire process I was also receiving emails from Amazon Fresh notifying me when my order was received and when it was on its way for delivery--leaving the distribution center about 4am.  Oh, and the totes get picked up during your next delivery or you can email Amazon Fresh to pick them up when are done with them.   

For a family of five this service is incredible.  We can order after our kids go to bed and have everything show up before we wake.  I love the pre-dawn service if you can't tell.  Is it better than taking my three little ones with me to to the store, shopping for an hour, loading/unloading, and hoping no one melts down in the process (including me)?    Yes!   

We are sold on Amazon Fresh and are going to try using it on a regular basis.    If you use Amazon Fresh please comment on the blog to let others know about  your experience.  Steve 

Lynn's Bistro--good, not great...

Lynnsbistro Janis and I celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary earlier in the month and decided to have dinner at Lynn's Bistro in downtown Kirkland.   We kept hearing good things about Lynn's from friends, neighbors, and even from folks commenting on the our blog how good it was after we reviewed Mixtura.  We'd been there before, but not in a while, so we thought it was time to  have dinner there again.

I had called earlier that day (on a Tuesday) and secured a reservation for 7:30.  When we arrived the restaurant was full and we waited a bit for our table--sign of a good restaurant!   After we were seated we noticed the entire restaurant had only one server (I think his name was Paul) doing everything from taking the orders, to clearing the tables, to filling up the waters.    I must say he was doing a fine job considering the load, but the service wasn't friendly and we felt rushed once he got around to our table. 

We started off with Janis ordering the French Onion soup and I ordered a salad with grilled pears and spinach.  Janis's soup was pretty darn tasty, but my salad was dissapointing.   The pears had grill marks on them but they were cold and not very ripe.

We then moved to the entrees.  The restaurant had sold out of the filet mignon, so I ordered the Ribeye steak w/cabernet sauce (which wasn't on the menu).  It seemed like the sauce was trying to mask the thin cut of meat.  Janis ordered the rack of lamb which she thought was nicely done.  Both entrees were "good", but neither of us was loving our meal or felt compelled to rush back. 

I was actually bummed leaving the place.   Lynn's is a favorite of many folks in Kirkland and I realize y'all will probably let me have it if you leave a comment, but it just wasn't the "great" place everyone has been telling us about.   My top three in Kirkland for a special night out are still: Cafe Juanita, Mixtura and Third Floor Fish Cafe.   Agree?  Disagree?  Set me straight?  Please comment...  Steve

Back on the Wagon at Brix

After a long vacation of mid-day beers on the beach, wine with late night dinners and not-so-much time in the gym, Steve and I decided we'd try not drinking any alcohol for the 2 weeks.   It's a cleansing of Sarabachelorette_103 sorts, which has proven really difficult.  We were at Cactus with friends the other day ("no, no margarita for me, thank you") and then dinner at a friends house ("really.  I'm serious, it's true.  I'm not having a glass of wine") and then even my sister's bachelorette party-photo right- ("Are you kidding?  I'm not dancing on stage!!  I am stone sober! But I WILL drive you home").  Despite the constant social opportunities to imbibe, we've generally been impressed with the greater ease at which we can get out of bed in the morning.   And now there's only one layer of bags under our eyes instead of a whole set. 

Brix_006 We were lucky enough to attend an opening party at Brix last night, the new wine bar in Juanita Village (11822 98th Ave NE).  And it was at this event that we decided to make an exception.  How could you not have a glass of wine at a wine bar?  We convinced ourselves that would be rude, and graciously accepted a delicious glass of Red Splendor.  The place has a nice hip vibe to it with 99 bottles of wine on the wall behind the bar which is the nucleus of the restaurant.   Lots of great local PNW wines on the menu- the flights looked fabulous.  There's a private room with a plasma tv and chunky wood table off to the side.  All of the Brix_007_2 food was excellent, as we would expect, since the menu Brix_010 was put together by Tom Black, previously of Barking Frog (photo left, Dave Zimmerman one of the owners, with Tom).  We got to sample the scallops, perfectly seared with a sweet flavor, and also the Roasted Chicken Flatbread w/ mozzarella and basil pesto which was delicious.  Kudos to the executive chef, Craig Stout (photo rt w/ Steve). The warm chocolate brownie was to die for--you can't beat chocolate w/ red wine.  I may not fit into that bridesmaid dress this weekend, but I have to say it was worth it!

Brix_005 Brix opens to the general public for dinner starting THIS Friday Sept 14th from 6-11pm.  Be the first to drop by and check it out.   The menu looks amazing and ranges from $7 appetizers up to $16 entrees.  We think this will be a great addition to the Juanita area- swing on by and let us know what you think!   ~Janis