Austin's Salmon Mural Comes to Life

AustinSalmonMural2022 (5)    AustinSalmonMural2022 (5)    Austinsalmon2

Despite the gray and rainy days we've had lately, on Saturday 4/2, the sun knew to beam through the skies onto Spud Fish & Chips where a very cool community project was underway.   Each hour a new shift of local volunteers of all ages grabbed their brushes and paint buckets and got to work on the east wall of the building where young Austin Picinich's salmon mural was outlined and color-coded.  I saw families, city council members, students, dogs, and toddlers slapping paint alongside elders (that were making me nervous on those ladders). Everyone pitched in, thanks to Austin who came up with this idea during a week-long leadership summit where he wanted to create "a public art project to brighten up the community."  And that he did! 

Austin teamed up with Urban Artworks on this project that helped raise awareness for our local salmon while bringing our friendly and artfully adventurous citizens together to work on a common goal.  Juanita Creek is nearby and classified as a salmon-spawning creek. While many of us think of the sockeye, chinook, and coho, the Kokanee salmon (depicted in the mural) were previously thought to be extinct in Lake Washington until recently.  This is a meaningful and timely reminder to reduce our pollution footprint, volunteer or donate to local organizations that are making a difference, or volunteer to become a SalmonWatcher yourself!


    AustinSalmonMural2022 (5)  <-Austin & his mom Kate (clearly an A+ parent)    AustinSalmonMural2022 (5) I heard there will be a time-lapse video of the mural's creation

The mural turned out fabulous- the colors really pop! And it was inspiring to see how 160+ volunteers each contributed their own brushstrokes to make this come to life.  I'm sure you can spot my sharp painting skills... I worked on the blue letters of the 'Spud Fish & Chips' logo on the food container. Very detailed. Laser focus.  Just kidding, I'm sure Austin had to go touch up my work afterward (thanks Austin!). 

Now with the Save Our Salmon mural complete, I'm thinking an " I Eat Trucks" mural for the truck-eating bridge on Kirkland Ave should be next??  Just sayin'.  

Austinalmostdone photo

4th of July in Kirkland 2022

The last two years have been a big disappointment to a city that LOVES celebrating the 4th of July.  But for 2022, we are back in business with our patriotic parade! Unfortunately, the fireworks show will not be back due to numerous challenges (100% price increase on fireworks, costly barge rental, and environmental and noise concerns).  But we will be TOGETHER AGAIN, lining the streets, laughing and dancing on floats in red white, and blue like it's 2019.  Some other fun activities are in the works, so stay tuned for more announcements on .   

For more good fun, there is also a Celebrate Kirkland t-shirt design contest! All ages are encouraged to enter and the theme is "Celebrate Kirkland,  Together Again,"  Entries due by May 1st. Details are here- good luck! 

I'm at Hearth in my Solid Gold Puffer

I threw on my biggest puffy coat for the "Puffy Jacket" Pop-Up Dining Series at Hearth in the Heathman Hotel on Wednesday night. Bonus! This is also one of their 1/2 price bottle of wine nights, so I was feeling like things were really going our way when a bottle of Abeja Cab was only $45.  Little did I know things were about to get even better.  For the record, you can 'puffy coat' anywhere you'd like, it doesn't have to be out on their patio, because this special limited-time menu is also offered indoors and is available through April 2nd.   

HearthPuffyCoatMenu  HearthPuffyCoatShortRib

The menu is small but mighty.  It was clear from the start that I would be ordering the Dungeness Crab & Grapefruit salad ($20) because it includes many of my favorite things (beets- mmmm!) and since we aren't really oyster people, Steve wanted to try the cauliflower soup. My salad was fabulous, but let me tell you....DO NOT underestimate the cauliflower soup.  It was rich, flavorful, and hearty enough to warm your soul on a rainy evening. I kept stealing more spoonfuls under the guise of sampling the menu.  We could have easily been satisfied with these starters alone, but couldn't resist the temptation of the entrees. Upon their arrival, my short rib ($39, photo above) was meaty and bold and falling apart with just my fork saying hello. Despite gobbling up most of it, I was delighted to have enough to save for lunch the next day.  Steve's Pacific Northwest Seafood Stew ($36) was also very memorable.  Often stews are comprised of a few pieces of seafood and a thin broth, but this one was chunky and intentional with large pieces of fish and shrimp filling the personalized hot cast-iron bowl.  The harissa tomato broth had a uniquely addictive flavor that, again, made my husband keep wondering why I was still eating off of his plate.  No wonder we didn't have room for dessert, but if you pace yourself, there is a chocolate tort you can finish with!

Hearth Puffy Coat Outside
Definitely go catch this great menu of special treats at Hearth before it's too late.  Wear your puffy jacket or just let the food warm you from within. Weds- Saturdays 5-9 pm through April 2nd. Reservations recommended.  My vote is for a Weds or Thurs to snag the wine deals too ;-). Enjoy!

Pi Day, Spa Day, and Puffy Jacket Dining

Monday is Pi Day which seems like a perfectly good reason to celebrate! On March 14 from 3-5 p.m., families are invited to Kirkland Urban to participate in a π (pi) recitation competition (start practicing now, folks), an interactive scavenger hunt, giveaways from a variety of retailers at Kirkland Urban, a live DJ, and other kid-friendly activities.  This event is free and open to the public. Fun fact: Pi day is my son's birthday and he doesn't even like pie ( a crime).

StillSpaMarch HydraFacialHydraFacial photo cred: Woodmark Hotel/Still Spa
Never turn away a spa day.  The Still Spa at the Woodmark in Carillon Point has just launched 10 new spa treatments designed to relax and rejuvenate your body for summer. There's a HydraFacial that uses patented technology to cleanse, extract, and hydrate the skin.  Other newbies are the Himalayan Salt Body Treatment and the Herbal Cellulite Treatment (hmmmm..) and a Firming Vibrant-C Facial to get you glowing again.  Their full treatment menu found here. Tickets are also available for Still Spa's Quarterly Passport event on Tues 3/22 3-8 pm called 'Spring Into Relaxation' which is great to grab a friend and get pampered.

HearthPuffy Jacket2022 Puffy Jacket Pop-Up photo cred: Heathman Hotel/Hearth
Hearth at The Heathman
is running their infamous Puffy Jacket Pop-Up Dining Series Weds through Sat 5-9 pm through April 2nd. Throw on your puffer for this unique experience where you will enjoy cocktails, fresh rustic foods with local ingredients, and the heated patio's outdoor dining.  This limited-time menu really has me struggling to decide between the PNW Seafood Stew and the Red Wine Braised Short Rib.  I will be there next week, so expect a follow-up with more photos and tips!  You can call 425-284-5900 or visit OpenTable for a reservation. 


Kids' Spring Events- Register Now!

Pot of God Nugget Hunt

Pot of Gold Nugget Hunt :

You don’t need the luck of the Irish to participate in this event, just your peepers! All kids between the ages of 3-9, join in the hunt for gold nuggets starting March 12th at the North Kirkland Community Center. 

Make sure you are on the playground side of the park. Nuggets can be anywhere, off the sidewalk, in a flower bed, or near the play structures, keep your eyes open! Find the gold nugget with your name on it and keep it for good luck. One special gold nugget will have the word PRIZE written on the bottom. 

If you find the PRIZE nugget, keep it, snap a photo and send to: to claim your prize. Contest ends March 13th. There are two dedicated nugget hunting times, sign up for the time that works best with your schedule. We have split the times up to allow for plenty of parking for everyone!

Registration closes March 9. Register online at

Pot of God Nugget Hunt

Mermaid Ball:

Kirkland Parks and Community Services presents our 3rd annual Mermaid Ball!

Come along and follow me to the bottom of the sea where we’ll join in the Jamboree at the Mermaid Ball! Enjoy refreshments, dancing, a mermaid craft, and a commemorative photo at our 3rd annual Mermaid Ball. If you’ve loved our winter-themed ball, wait till you see our “under the sea” theme! Make a splash with your little mermaid and sign up early for this event before it’s sold out!

Ages 3 to 10 years with Dad, Grandpas, uncles, or other father figures. Register online at

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

PCC2022 (1)    PCC2022 (1)

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.  

PCC2022 (2)  PCC2022 (2)  PCC2022 (2)   PCC2022 (2) PCC2022 (8)

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

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.

Bobaeinterior Bobaedrinks

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

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.


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.            

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