Behind Google's Doors in Kirkland Urban

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I was lucky enough to score an invite to tour Google's 'officially open' Phase 1 on the Kirkland Urban Campus.  Check out these photos that hopefully help demystify what is behind the doors of that fancy new building.  Not only did I witness an incredible sustainability-focused build and unmatched creativity on each floor, but I also hobnobbed (ie; shuffled around on the opposite side of the same big room where they had no idea I was there) with Governor Jay Inslee,  Congresswoman Suzan DelBene, Mayor Penny Sweet, local reps, and Google CEO Sundar Pichai who all praised Google's leadership, innovation, community partnerships, philanthropy, and investment in our region. Google plans to invest $100 M in WA state in 2022. Boom!
Google22airlineottoman  Google22Airlinefloor  <--the wall of playing cards  Google22AirlinefloorGoogle22airlineottoman                      Google22Airlinefloor

    
Facilities manager Frederico Olmedo walked me around the Central Building which I entered on the second floor of Kirkland Urban (near Evergreens). He has been working on this project for 4 years, and clearly, it is a labor of love with a laser focus on the details.  Each floor of the building has a different WA State theme.  On the 7th floor, the fishing industry is represented with a bright orange fishing net across the ceiling in central spaces.  There's also a full sound studio, so if you want to go jam on a guitar or sing in a soundproof room, why wouldn't you?  The 6th floor was a nod to the shipping industry and UPS, where you find 'brown' barcodes next to doorways and stacked moving blankets as chair ottomans.  My favorite was the 5th floor which recognizes flight/Boeing with a sitting area that feels like a retro airport lounge, and another room whose wallpaper is made completely out of real old playing cards that used to be handed out by airlines during flights, complete with an airline roller cart full of board games.  There's also an in-flight mini-theatre that can be utilized for games or movies.  On the 4th floor, you'll find a nod to REI/tourism/nature and the outdoors with backpacks on the walls in their stocked self-serve mini cafe where you can grab a handful of snacks before bringing your pooch to hang out at the doggie lounge with indoor and outdoor patio spaces. This would be an awesome #doglife.  


Google22BigroomGoogle22Airlinefloor   Google22Airlinefloor <-- furry friends welcome at work

I think I need to work here. It just feels like a fun place to be, especially once the office fills up with people again. But I'd never get anything done, I'd just eat free snacks and play with everyone's dogs all day while dreaming of being in a 1978 airport lounge.  And then after work, I'd be a fixture at the QFC bar and eat too many Plantiful Acai Bowls.  It could be problematic on second thought. But good news if you're looking...turns out you can job search Google roles out of Kirkland, WA and there appear to be  1104 open jobs here.  They currently have 7200 full-time employees in the Puget Sound region

The North Google Building is also complete and hosts wellness and fitness centers, but I didn't get to stroll that side of campus.  The South building is expected to open in 2023, and the East tower in 2025, which will bring the total of these four buildings of Google office space to 760,000 square feet.  But they aren't stopping there, Google is proceeding with development and design planning for its additional planned campus on the former site of the Lee Johnson Chevrolet dealership, whose acquisition deal is expected to close in phases over the next several years.  Kudos to Google for pushing the envelope in both coolness and investment in our city, all while being on track for LEED Gold Certification in sustainability. 

 


Trending in Houghton

The hot topics this week seem to be trending in Houghton, starting with the tragic closure of Menchie's Froyo in Houghton Plaza.  They wrote a farewell note on Facebook and encouraged us all to come in one last time before they close this Thursday (open 11-8 each day until then).  I hope they have my fave coconut flavor and the little dark chocolate chips this week. 

A little further up the street, we have the controversial La Quinta Inn being purchased by King County and turned into permanent supportive housing.  Our City Manager, Kurt Triplett, has issued a letter to clarify the city's intent, which is to be a good neighbor in the continuum of care for people experiencing homelessness. There is also a page with more details about the project here.  And some colorful community debate in public forums along with a little protest planned for Weds.            

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And if all of that stresses you out and you'd prefer to focus on some fun....families on the Eastside (and beyond) are invited to celebrate the Lunar New Year at Kirkland Urban!
Friday, Feb. 11 from 6-8 p.m, come by the Kirkland Urban Plaza to celebrate the Year of the Tiger.

This FREE Lunar New Year celebration will feature:

  • Lion and dragon dances at 6, 7 and 7:30 p.m., performed by Mak Fai Lion Dance
  • A traditional Vietnamese Fan dance at 6:30 p.m.
  • A whimsical lantern display designed by Top Knotch Events
  • Calligraphy by Mak Fai Lion Dance
  • The Year of the Tiger surprise ball giveaways by Wheelhouse promotions
  • Special moments captured by Passion In Movement Videography and Dakota Elizabeth

 


Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

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Winners! Congrats to Monique K and Joyce W for commenting on recent social media posts and being selected as the winners of a 2022 'Kirkland Sunsets' desktop calendar created by...me.  I know, dreams do come true.  And...Chicken!  Yeon's Chicken is now OPEN at 214 Central Way where Lynn's Bistro former (next door) location used to be.  I was on a walk, so didn't have a chance to eat there yet, but when I popped my head in they were anxiously awaiting some hungry customers.  It looks super casual/simple/clean and their menu has photos that I find super helpful in my decision-making.  There are a variety of dumplings, rice cakes, noodle dishes, sides, and of course chicken (always wings and drumettes w/different preparations except for the boneless chicken dish) $10-20. Lunch boxes are $16-18 and you can even grab a beer ($6) or glass of wine ($5). I've seen a few Yeon's Chicken fans on social media already so go check them out. Also on Door Dash. Report back here! 425-242-0333, 11am-9pm each day, closed on Sunday.

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Sunshine and Vaccinated People

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Springtime is starting to look and feel a bit more normal as people get vaccinated and the sun shows up.  The forecast says 81 degrees by Wednesday!  "Evenings on Park Lane" have already started which closes the west end of Park Lane to vehicles nightly from 6-11 pm to increase foot traffic and allow for more outdoor capacity for businesses.  This program will run through October 1st.  In addition to this walkable downtown fun, our beloved Wednesday Market kicks off on June 2nd from 3-7 pm at Marina Park. You can check out this year's vendors here as you get ready to support our local farmers and artisans as we leave our houses again as we used to in 2019. 

Another buzzzzzzz-worthy topic would be the bees from urban beekeeping company  Alvéole that are taking up residence at Kirkland Urban.  Upon installation on the roof of the Kirkland Urban North Building, the bees will pollinate the flora that surrounds Urban and at the end of the summer, and  Alvéole will harvest the honey and share it will share it with our community.  Pretty sweet, huh?

Alesia RainierGarage

A stroll down Central Way is always full of discovery too.  One of Bassline's old spaces appears to be getting ready for a jewelry and gift boutique called Alesia that is sustainable, inclusive, vegan, and animal friendly.  Who doesn't love a meatless bracelet?  Rainier Garage Door has vacated a few doors down and moved to 12708 Northup Way.

And for my last little gem of the day, it's not technically Kirkland but a close neighbor in Kenmore.... The Lodge at St. Edwards Park is open and people are starting to chatter about it.  Have you been yet? Do tell. 

 


The Village's VIRTUAL Hween Costume Contest

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I thought you'd enjoy this photo of me from Halloween 2013.  It's one of my faves because nobody recognized me and my kids were crying and running, confused to hear my voice but not seeing me in that face at all.  This year, there's a big contest in classic 2020 VIRTUAL style and yes, there are prizes..$50 gift cards to some of your favorite spots!  So get your silly, scary, crazy, hilarious costumes on at HOME this year and participate in the The Village at Totem Lake's 'Spooktacular' Virtual Halloween Costume Contest.  All family members- parents, kids, pets, are encourage to get decked out and enter.  Instructions are on their Insta Page. Snap and share a photo between Oct 19-30th and use the hashtag #TotemLakeHalloween and stay tuned for the winners to be announced on Oct 31st in the following categories:

Costume Categories:

  1. Best Princess or Superhero (prize: $50 gift card to one of The Village’s eateries)
  2. Best Make-up (prize: $50 Ulta Beauty gift card)
  3. Best Pet Costume (prize: $50 All The Best Pet Care gift card)
  4. Best Nails (prize: $50 Anthony Vince’ Nail Spa gift card)
  5. Judge’s Choice (prize: $50 gift card of winner’s choice at one of the stores above)

I'll be looking forward to your creativity!

  

 


BeLocal Kirkland and Farewell to Hector's

BeLocal

Would you like to help new Kirklanders discover some of your favorite local spots?  Why not share the love?  BeLocal Kirkland is a new resource that is compiling information about great businesses to help people that have just moved here find their (your) favorite places.  It relies on locals' input to create a 'best of the best' list on things like healthcare providers, home services, parks, restaurants, etc. Give your valuable input here before Sept 30th to be entered in a contest to win a basket of local goodies valued at $400.

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And speaking of Kirkland faves, our beloved Hector's is having their final day on 9/27 (this Sunday!) after 45 years with us.  My favorite meal there is the Protein Power-  a burger patty with eggs, spinach and mushrooms on top. So good.  Rumor has it they could be re-opening at The Raw Bar's former location sometime in the future, but that is still unconfirmed, so better get in for your last meal and strong drink at this legendary spot while you can. Thanks for all of the good times, Hector's, you will be missed!


Kirkland's Seniors Cruise the Blvd

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The graduating class of 2020 has definitely had some special end of year moments robbed of them due to the Coronavirus restrictions.  But on Thursday evening, the rains stopped and the sun shone down on hundreds of smiling capped and gowned teenagers from Lake Washington High School, Juanita High School, Eastside Prep, Emerson and the International School.  A giant 'unofficial' parade of cars honked, shrieked, danced and  let loose down the Lake St/Lake WA Blvd in Kirkland as parents and socially distanced bystanders clapped and cheered them on from the street.  For those 45 minutes, life even felt a little bit 'normal' as kids got to see each other and feel the love and support of their friends, family and community.  Finally, a celebration!  I don't have a senior, but I still found myself holding back a few tears of pride for this amazing group of teens. 

Perhaps this grass-roots effort just started a new Kirkland tradition.  LW parent, Kristen Estes, helped the group of moms that put this effort together and commented, "We are so thankful to the Kirkland community for helping us celebrate the Class of 2020 during these unique times.  it was fun to see everyone come together and make this a special event for the graduating class of 2020."  Perhaps years from now Kirkland grads will read about COVID-19 in their history books and go charging out the door for their annual community graduation 'senior cruise' through our city remembering how it all started. I hope so. 

You've got this Class of 2020.  Congrats!


Love Always

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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

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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