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!
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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. 

 


Escape Reality at Sandbox VR

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I geared up for my Sandbox VR "Amber Sky" experience with a few friends, not knowing what to expect.  I haven't played video games or done virtual reality much before,  so I was excited to try something new in this interactive, fully immersive, 45 minutes where I would be riding a space elevator and fighting off aliens to save the universe.   

The new Sandbox location in The Village at Totem Lake is the first for WA State and you can choose from the 5 different experiences that they offer.  Simply book your time online, and then arrive a little early to get checked in and suited up in your futuristic vest, battery pack, wrist/ankle sensors, and of course headset/headphones. All of this gear gets thoroughly cleaned and sanitized in between sessions. Sandbox can take up to six people in each of their four rooms. I was a bit worried about all of my old lady ailments- would I be able to see clearly without my glasses?  Would I feel motion sickness like I do in cars sometimes? But these turned out to be non-issues.  Even my friends with occasional vertigo did just fine with this super realistic experience. The free-range camera allows you to move within the game while simultaneously interacting with and around the people you are playing with.  I was really glad I peeled my sweater off and wore just my tee shirt to play because fighting for the universe can be a bit stressful.  Take care to listen to the directions in the beginning so you know how to operate your weapons, re-load, and bring each other back to life.

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My friends and I all thought this was a blast and talked about what we learned this time that would change our strategy a bit for how we would play again in the future.  Most of us have teenage sons that would love this, if only they could afford it ($50-55 per person), therefore making it a great gift or birthday outing for that age group.  This would also be a fun date night or team-building exercise. Whether you are a gamer or not, this technology is a wonder to witness and command and it's right here in our backyard.  It was just the right amount of time to feel like you got a fair amount of playtime without being overloaded.  And BONUS, at the end you get a video that summarizes your game, both virtually and the correlating movements and sounds you were actually making in the room.  Those were some good belly laughs!   Sandbox VR is open during the week from 10 am-10 pm and weekends from 10 am- 11 pm.  Go check it out.  You too can save the universe whether it is from pirates, aliens, or zombies, I know you'll keep us safe. 


Walla Walla Clothing Co Will Dress You Up... in Kirkland Urban

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Let's give a warm welcome to another woman-owned business in Kirkland! Local resident Teresa Ellison just opened her 6th location of the Walla Walla Clothing Co at Kirkland Urban and I'm a weeeee bit worried it's going to be a problem for me to control myself in there.  This company was established in 1995 and is known for service and quality.  Whether you are 18 or 80, she can style you up and have you ready to slay no matter what your body style. You'll find some favorite brands like Vince, AG, Eileen Fisher, Sanctuary, James Perse, Frame, Mother, Rails, and Donald Pliner.  There are plenty of clothes in her spacious storefront and also shoes, jewelry, and other accessories. And bonus-Walla Walla Clothing Co always offers free shipping and alterations. 

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Too good to be true? How much you ask? It varies- you can find $39 tops all the way up to $300 on a Vince sweater, but there is sure to be something for every body, shape, and budget.  And honestly, I'm kind of lazy and don't know what things to put together. They will totally do that for you. #lifesaver  I perused in on my way to a Restore session and got sidetracked buying 3 pairs of pants (in my new post- Covid size) after my QFC happy hour. Brilliant, right?  Worth a visit. Let them do the work for you, You deserve it. Hours are Mon-Sat 10-6 and Sat 11-4.  Give them a follow on Instagram here.


Our NEW Kirkland PCC Opened on 3/2 and it's Magical

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I am not ashamed to admit that I got a little giddy when walking around this new PCC.  Our old familiar location in Houghton closed on Tues  3/1 and on  Weds 3/2 they opened their new doors at 430 Kirkland Way (just past the Kirkland Performance Center).  And yes, there is parking! I had a feeling that might be your first question.  There are a handful of quick-stop spots right out front and also a parking deck around the back.  I love the entry area that flows from the street to welcome you in, and I can already envision future sunny days with locals and kids snacking at the tables and tiered seating outside.  

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This 19,000 square foot store is 30% larger than the old one, so it's no wonder I was wide-eyed as I savored each aisle and methodically filled up my cart.  Check out my photos! Plenty of ready-made and grab/go foods, 6-8 fresh hot soups, salad bar, bulk items, beautiful bright produce, and a fabulous meat/seafood section too.  You'll find plenty of pre-marinated items also so you can just head home and throw things in the air fryer  (our new household routine). There are so many unique products throughout the store that piqued my curiosity. One big thing I always loved about PCC is that I feel like they have already done the work of vetting their products for me.  I know PCC also strives to support local farmers and producers and they have goals to inspire and advance the health and well-being of people, communities, and the planet.  This building was also built to the most rigorous green-building standard in the world.  Their history and values and how this co-op works are worth the read.

When I checked out, there are some of the same familiar faces we know from the old location, and also a self-checkout area.  Don't forget your free item if you're a co-op member, which was raspberries this week!  Pro-tip, there are some $5 coupons sitting on a table near the registers.  PCC also recently announced the results of the co-op’s 2021 community relations and giving efforts, which included donating nearly 2-million pounds of food and goods and contributing nearly $1 million through donations, in-kind assistance, and funds raised by its community to support local organizations.

I'm not sure if I'm just getting older and this is what makes grocery shopping more of an adventure, or perhaps the grocers just keep upping the experience.  I even called one of my 18-year-olds in college to let her know how much she will enjoy this store the next time she's home.  Oddly, she loves grocery shopping too, perhaps it's genetic? Get yourself there, it's worth the visit. Every day they're open from 6am-11pm.   Let me know your fave things! ~j

 


Stories from the Rumor Mill and Other Truths

Whisper Photo by Ben White on Unsplash


You know I love a little whisper of something that might be happening, and that I will unabashedly share these Kirkland gems with you fully realizing I may need to apologize for the false alarm at a later date.  These are the types of Kirkland things I may hear from bumping into someone's assistant outside a location or perhaps a friend was chatting with construction workers on a lunch break.  Lame, I know, but I'm not a reporter, and this is just a blog so you're stuck with me and my hearsay for now.  Here's what I know (sort of):

  • The Birdcage on Central Way will be transforming into a beautiful Luly Yang location in about a year, so get ready for a little couture along with 'Luleisure'. 
  • There may be a MOD Pizza opening in Kirkland Square where Umpqua Bank recently moved out.  That's pretty exciting if true.  Love their salads. 
  • This is a truth: The old PCC location is closing on 3/1 and the new location will open on 3/2 just east of the Kirkland Performance Center on the ground floor of The Boardwalk mixed-use building at 430 Kirkland Way
  • Seems to be true: The cool 'Boardwalk Beach Club' signs on the building at Marina Park is not a hip new bar or restaurant awaiting the general public's summertime arrival, but instead a lakefront perk with ready-to-frolick equipment for the "The Boardwalk" luxury apartment residents. #amenitiesmatter #waytogetourattention
  • Also a truth: If you want to get in on Austin's Community Salmon Mural Paint Day that is happening on April 2nd, you'd better hurry and sign up on the interest form to be one of the 160 volunteers!

That's it for now, I'll let you sit and digest that for a bit.  Comment away...

PS- it was really tough to not plant something super funny and untrue in there just to mess with you. 

 

 

 


Walking/Eating/Drinking around Kirkland

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First and foremost, there is a Kirkland Wine, Beer, and Spirits Walk on April 1st. No April foolin' either. 5-9pm and tickets are on sale now ($30).  You must show your vaccine card upon arrival. Then the fun begins as you start at The Heathman Hotel and walk to the participating merchants for your tasty beverages.  I like how they are stepping it up from a 'wine walk' to a 'wine/beer/spirits' walk.  We are no longer messing around- you have been forewarned. Get your tickets early, these shenanigans always sell out.

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Another less-tipsy beverage option in downtown Kirkland on Lake St. S  is the new Bobae Coffee & Tea.  This family-owned boba shop focuses on quality ingredients by avoiding artificial powders and syrups and brewing only high-grade teas.  Their ceremonial matcha is from a family farm in Japan and each cup is hand-whisked.  The service was amazing because the person taking my order was super friendly and spent extra time helping me find the right drink.  Since my usual fave, the mango matcha, is not in season yet she convinced me to try their red, white & matcha drink which was delish (photo).    I'll admit I was a little worried when I watched them hand-pour the bright green matcha into my drink wondering if it might taste a little too 'earthy,' but it was spot-on with a nice little strawberry flavor mixed in too.  You can also order from their site here (complete with photos!).  Apparently, their boba doughnuts are pretty famous too, but I didn't get a chance to try them.  There's another great reason to go back! Take note of their days/hours- Open Weds thru Sun 1-8 pm When they are you'll know it by their fans starting to line up on the sidewalk.

 


Squashed by Sasquatch

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Since COVID reared its hideous head a few years back, I've been working out with my usual awesome crew over Zoom from my garage gym.  It's just turned out to be easier over time. But you can imagine our delight to have the opportunity to try out a new fitness spot in Kirkland IN REAL LIFE.  Enter Sasquatch Strength at 126 Central Way in downtown Kirkland where we were invited in for an unexpected butt-kicking at this Crossfit-style gym.   Formerly the location of Bassline Fitness, the space is now filled with new equipment and sectioned off with blue tape on the floors to mark your circuit station (room for about 12 people total).     Upon arrival, you toss your things in a locker, pick your workout space, and then peer up at the digital screens that will deliver your exercise fate for the day.  After collecting up the appropriate equipment and weights you will need, a trainer walks you through a group warm-up of about 10 stretches with bands and varying movements.  We were still smiling and starting to unzip our hoodies at this point.

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Then the REAL work began.  I noticed there were only four exercises in the circuit that we were to keep rotating through for 18 minutes.  No problem!  Until I read what they were.  Thirty deadlifts (135/95 lbs), followed by 15 pull-ups (or 5 muscle-ups or pendlay rows), then 16/12 calories on the assault bike or rower, and then another 15 pull-ups (or 5 muscle-ups or pendlay rows).  Ooooof!  Set this entire cycle on repeat for 18 minutes.  I am clearly not the ass-kicker I thought I was because, I can eek out 6-8 pull-ups, but in my entire (cough cough) 30+ years of fitness I could never sustain this series.  Even trying the Pendlay rows was making my back think we were at the deadlift station again. Perhaps this pandemic really did wear me down? Afterward, I was wondering if the other regulars in class did this with ease, and I just didn't see them b/c I was blinded by my own desperation to try to get it done.  Thanks goodness for Scott, the General Manager who was super helpful (in photo w/us), recognized my dilemma and came over with some other equipment to substitute for that killer station.  Alas, I survived.  But now we know why it's called Sasquatch.  Of course, as with any workout, you are in charge of your own destiny and how hard you do or don't push yourself.  Sasquatch welcomes everyone into their community, the staff was friendly and the regulars seemed to have a warm camaraderie. You can book a trial class for free on the Sasquatch website.  

 


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

 


Wines and Valentine's

Natural Wine
When you put up a "Natural Wine" shop sign in Kirkland's downtown (200 Central Way) you are going to pique some curiosity.  Healthy, sustainable, chemical-free drinking is always a welcomed philosophy at our house! But they aren't ever open.  I think I've stopped by at least four times during posted open hours only to fog up the glass with my breath against the window wondering when they might let me in.  There appears to be wine in there (and ice cream too!?).  Am I being punk'd? Let me in!! Oh, and shoutout to The Grape Choice for being consistently awesome (and open) since the dawn of time. 

Here are some other fun ideas for your sweet February...

Galentineflyer
The Galentine’s Day Celebration is a special event on Feb 13 from 10-4 pm at the North Kirkland Community Center (tickets $5) that will bring together a group of local, women-owned businesses, to celebrate and support the women in our community. Along with shopping for a special gift from our local vendors, there will be demonstrations and competitions, local musical artists, goodie bags, and giveaways! Reserve your spot today at https://bit.ly/32X1DZE

The new improved and totally on-point Beach Cafe at Carillon Point has a fabulous dinner plan for Valentine's Day ($85/per person).  And they've just fired up their happy hour again from 4-5:30 too.

Hearth at The Heathman likes to spread the love of Valentine's out a bit with their magical menu being offered on Feb 11th, 12th, and 14th from 5-9.  But it fills up fast.  Menu and reservation link here.

Or how about a visit to this new Yuan Spa at The Village at Totem Lake?

You could always send something fun from Lady Yum for Valentine's too!

Feel free to add other events/specials I missed or some of your favorite Valentine's activities in the comments (keepin' in Rated G for all audiences) ~j

 


Small Threads for Kids has Big Deals for Us

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Small Threads for Kids is a youth consignment store that opened in Totem Lake (12507 116th Ave NE) three months ago.  The former US Bank building is now bursting at the seams with every color of the rainbow in children's gently used clothes sizes newborn to 16, strollers, bouncy seats, car seats, books, games, stuffies, and more.  This is a great way to upcycle and keep usable items and dollars in our own community.  They are constantly getting new things in so check back often.  Some of the hottest items right now are outerwear, leggings, newborn items (Evergreen is just a skip jump away), and brands such as Janie & Jack, Hannah Andersson, and Mini Boden.  I was impressed that everything is so neat, organized, and well labeled.

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Have you been staying inside and cleaning out your kids' closets on these rainy days? Excellent.  You can consign 6 items by popping in without an appointment or up to 35 items with an appointment. The split is 60 % (Small Threads)/ 40% (your wallet) and stays on the rack for up to 60 days at which time unsold items can be returned or donated.  Hours are Mon-Fri 9:30am-6 pm and Sat 10-5 (closed Sunday). There are also locations in Issaquah, Redmond, and soon-to-be Mill Creek. I'm a little sad that Small Threads didn't show up a few years ago when my kids were growing out of their clothes every three months.  For those of you in that phase, this will be a winner!