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Mix it up with a little Mystery

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











Divalani Excited to Style Kirklanders

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After you've grabbed your Starbucks latte and find yourself breezing by Divalani on Park Lane right next door, take a moment to drop in.  With a quick glance it's easy to see clothes in the window and think it is still Unique Chic Boutique, but I assure you it is not.  Divalani owner, Marta Hardin, decided on Kirkland for her second location where she caters to affordably styling women that are 40+ in clothes that make them look and feel good. She says,  "I've been doing this since I was 17 and I know the store like I know my own closet.  But you make the clothes.  You are the canvas.  I can help you put together outfits that you would never think of."  Oh, thank goodness!  Deep exhale from all the middle aged ladies that no longer have to stress over finding clothes that look good on us. Someone local will do it for me for free?!  (in store, hourly priced styling happens at home or office)

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Divalani carries mostly Canadian and LA brands that are under $200-ish, such as Joseph Ribkoff and Frank Lyman and Liverpool.  Marta emphasizes her goal of helping you to find an emotional connection with a product.  She wants people to remember a happy experience and how they felt when they wore those clothes.      You'll often find Annette in the shop, who is an in-house stylist that enjoys working with busy women that don't have time to shop. You can also get styled for everyday or special occasions and check out  scarves and jewelry from local artists. Say hello, Marta and Annette are super friendly and you're sure to walk out finding something that makes you look and feel fabulous!

Shamrock Run 2020

Lake Washington Physical Therapy's annual Shamrock Run will take place on Saturday, March 14th. This 5K starts at 9am and benefits local charities. Registration is $45, and good news, you can get up to $10 off by referring friends.  Run, walk,  push a stroller, walk a dog or dance a jig, it's up to you! After your St. Patrick's Day exercise duties, roll on over to Wilde Rover for a pint at the post-race party. 

Grounded Above the Clouds


Janice Winfrey (right in photo) lost everything in the devastating Paradise, CA fires of 2018, barely escaping with her husband and dog and the clothes on her back.  This tragedy also managed to open the door of opportunity for her to move closer to family in Washington, and fulfill her dream of starting a business with her sister, April Laskey (left in photo).  Professionally, Janice  has been a nurse for many years and found the culture to be very stressful.  Her co-workers barely knew each other and often worked different shifts. She wished she could find a way to incorporate more community building and support structure to her field. Her sister April, a weight loss coach, has a passion for art.  How could they join forces in an effort that was meaningful for both of them? That's when Grounded Above the Clouds was born. 

Squirreled away in the back of 30 Lakeshore Plaza is their adorable space where Grounded Above the Clouds has been open since November 8th.  In the front room is where they have local artists creations for sale and in the backroom.............that's where the magic happens. Janice and April host workshops that bring people to together for an art project, which is less about the artistic outcome and more about the opening up the creative side of your brain and connecting with the people around you. Workshops are typically in a 2 or 3 part series and have a guided theme or objective which focuses on personal and professional growth and innovation. 

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Some of the classes they teach and others have guest instructors.  This is not a step-by-step project because everyone is working on their own unique creation.  These could range  from fluid painting (messy fun!), hand-built ceramics, brush calligraphy, comic book drawing, hand knitting ( I totally want to try this!), or art meditation to name a few.

Here is the schedule. Classes range from $45-75 depending on materials.  The goal is to provide a space that is comfortable and experiential that can connect people, build resiliency and encourage creativity.  These ladies specialize in corporate team building sessions so people can bring some of these life lessons back to their work culture.   The name "Grounded Above the Clouds" represents the way people can have normal jobs and still be dreamers and explore other possibilities that might be out there.  You don't always have to have one thing or the other-why limit yourself? It's okay to dream. 

Go say hi to Janice and April to learn more about their passion for opening your mind through art. Bring your team from work.   They are open Tues-Sat 11-7 pm.  You need to be a bit of a Kirkland expert to find it (despite the giant letters that say "Lakeshore Plaza"), so I drew you an arrow. It's just under the stairs that go down the side of Wilde Rover.  Through the door and the lobby and it's back on the left.  They'd love your suggestions for new classes  and teachers too. Have fun, I can't wait to try it.