Friday, March 30, 2012

Foodie Pen Pals March

It's time for Foodie Pen Pals! This month I was paired with two lovely ladies (one to send to and one to received from). I sent a box to Ms. Travel Expert Rachel over at Travel Challenge. Check out her blog to see what I sent her! If you missed it, part of my box to Julia was a special travel tribute a posted a few weeks back. You can check that out here.

I received a box from the oh-so-lovely Julia at A Girl with a Stethoscope. She sent me an ah-may-zing box! So fun! She sent me a box of fabulous snacky goodness including some of my favorites (and soon to be NEW favorites). Check out the details below:

Look at all that yumminess!

How did she know I LOVE these two flavors??

Seriously, Sleepytime Vanilla is the BEST. I haven't tried the Acai Mango yet, but I love anything by Celestial Seasonings.

New favorite! These are addicting and delicious. So light but such a good munchie snack!

Really, who doesn't love some animal crackers? Plus those almonds are super yummy too!

Oh-so-sweet note from Julia!
Thank you Julia for such a great box! You couldn't have picked better items for me. My desk at work is filled with your snacks and I am enjoying them daily! THANK YOU!

Do you want to be a Foodie Pen Pal? I promise, you will love it! Check out the details here.
The Lean Green Bean

Friday, March 9, 2012

My favorite things! Seattle Edition

I’ve been inspired to do a little travel writing thanks to my Foodie Pen Pal for the Month of March, Ms. Rachel over at Journey Girl Travel. She’s a travel blogger and writes up great travel adventures! She mentioned she’d never been to Seattle, so I thought I’d write up a little bit about my favorite things and my perfect Seattle weekend. Enjoy!

Food = LOVE
Big surprise, some of my favorite things include FOOD! Seattle (and the greater Seattle area), in my opinion, is a great Foodie city and there is always a new restaurant (or an old favorite) to try. Here’s just a few (OK A LOT) of my favorites:

Sunfish Fish & Chips, West Seattle

Pretty much my favorite fish and chips ever. And OMG the tarter sauce! I’ve been going here since I was a little kid when my grandparents introduced us to this place. It’s owned by two Greek brothers (my family is Greek, so of course we’d go to the Greek Fish & Chips place!). Sweetest men and the food is always fresh and always delicious! Plus, you really can’t beat the view from West Seattle to downtown Seattle 

Hi-Life, Ballard

Best happy hour in the City in my opinion. Food is amazing, atmosphere is fabulous, people / service is mellow and easy. They are always playing some good tunes and the bar is a great place to hang out. My favorite thing to eat is the butternut squash pizza with bacon, peppers and goat cheese. If you think it sounds a bit odd, you have to just try it! It is the perfect combinations of sweet, salty, spicy, creamy, and crunchy. SO GOOD! That with a glass of their house red (for $3 thank you very much!) and maybe a small salad, you really can’t go wrong!

Issaquah Brewery, Issaquah

Beer and burgers. Enough said. No seriously, there is always something good on tap and their burgers (especially the Kobe beef) is awesome. I usually go for the slider and their house salad (greens, blue cheese, hazelnuts and a divine balsamic vinaigrette). Hubs always has their Kobe beef bacon cheese burger (cheddar).

Stan’s BBQ, Issaquah

Hands down, best BBQ I’ve ever eaten. Everyone has their favorite BBQ place, and this one is ours. Worth the drive to Issaquah for this stuff. They BBQ with a dry rub and then serve sauces (Sweet, Mild, Hot) on for dipping or slathering. I’m a sucker for their coleslaw and creamed corn (it’s got a kick, don’t say I didn’t warn you!).

Jaks Grill, Issaquah

Neighborhood steak joint. All the quality of a super expensive, trendy steakhouse but without the dress code or $$$. Don’t me wrong, you’ll still pay $30-40 for a steak (more depending on the cut) but the price includes salad, bread, veggies and starch (garlic mashed potatoes, YUM!) so you can easily share something if budget is on your mind. Very Frank Sinatra old New York kind of vibe.

Three Lions Pub, Redmond
At least once a month, usually on a Saturday, you’ll find us sitting at the bar here. The Saturday night bartender is a dude by the name of Drew. He’s Scottish, loud and utterly hysterical. Be warned, he’s more than a little crude but after a pint who really cares? This is the closest thing I’ve found to an authentic British pub outside of England. Fantastic English beers and food. The fish and chips here are excellent as well but my absolute favorite things are the hand cut / friend crisps (potatoes chips for us Americans) and the sticky toffee pudding. Order them both. You will not be sorry! We often go just for a pint and sticky toffee pudding after a movie.

Café Juanita, Kirkland

My favorite special occasion restaurant. Be prepared to spend $200+ (more if you order wine) for 2 people. But once a year for a birthday or anniversary, it is so worth the splurge. Northern Italian flare, itsy bitsy restaurant, and superior service. It can’t be beat!


One of my and hubby’s favorite things to do on a weekend, is to try out new breweries or just go chill at one of our stand-bys. Seattle has great micro-brews and there are always new seasonal beers to try!

Foggy Noggin, Bothell
Foggy Noggin is actually walking distance from our house. It’s considered a nano-brewery and is more or less a brewery and tasting room out of the owner’s garage. Super mellow and relaxed with really excellent beers. In the warmer weather, Jim puts out lawn chairs in this drive way so you can get a pint at the bar and just chill out in the drive way. Goodness all around.

Fremont Brewing, Fremont

Great Seattle neighborhood brewery. In an old small industrialish building just down the street from the main drag in Fremont.

The Noble Fir, Ballard

REI meets local bar. This neighborhood tap house in historic Ballard is a total gem. Lots of wood décor, a small travel / map library in the back, and loads of local brews and a fantastic selection of ciders. It can get a little crowded and folks tend to linger. So show up early and grab a table and stay a while.


Ok, so hubs doesn’t really like to shop obviously, but if I’ve got a girlfriend for an afternoon, shopping is the way to go! Honestly, you can’t go too wrong with any of the Seattle Neighborhoods (Magnolia, Fremont, South Lake Union, Phinney Ridge etc) but these are a few of my favorite neighborhoods:
Historic Ballard, Seattle
Oodles of cute little shops, most of them local. Lots of options for cute clothes shops, art, jewelry and house stuff. Wander around, I’m sure you’ll find one you like!

Queen Anne Avenue, Seattle
Similar to historical Ballard, just up the across the canal and up the hill. Lovely views of downtown from the top of the hill. I love the little post office / girly shop on the north end of Queen Anne Avenue. Oh and the bookstore is wonderful too (on the opposite end of the street).

Historic Snohomish, Snohomish (about 40 minutes from downtown Seattle)
An antiquing girls dream. Even if you don’t like antiquing, the downtown main street is very cute and old town feeling. But if you do like antiquing, well then this is the place for you! Lots of great stores to get lost in or find a treasure. I always come home with something! Oh, and while you are here make sure you stop by and get a piece of pie from the Snohomish Pie Company.

Finally, we’re surrounded by the great outdoors within 30 minutes to an hour from Seattle (closer for those of us who live in the ‘burbs). Even if it’s some City outdoor activities or getting out to actually hike a mountain, we’ve got lots!

Greenlake, Seattle
Photo Credit: Kacie Gartland
Just shy of 3 miles around this little lake in the middle of Seattle. It’s crazy busy on a sunny day but so so worth it! Enjoy the view (both natural an well un-natural, there are some crazies out there!) and get some exercise while you are at it!

Sammamish River Trail, Woodinville / Bothell / Redmond
This is a popular walking, running biking trail that actually runs along the valley between Bothell, Woodinville and Redmond and links up to the Burke-Gillman trail that goes to Seattle. We usually pick up the trial in Woodinville and walk towards Redmond. Gets me my outdoor fix without having to go very far!

Washington State Ferry System

My favorite thing to do with folks new to Seattle. Some many fun locations that are made more accessible by a quick 20-30 minute ferry! Although if you go to the San Juan’s that is a bit more of a commitment (1 ½ hours from Seattle by car plus the 1+ hour ferry ride) but it’s totally worth it for a day trip (or overnight!). The easiest one I think is to walk on to the Ferry from Edmonds to Kingston and then walk around Kingston. There are several fun little restaurants (the Crepe place is my favorite!) and a couple little shops. Perfect for a quick little trip (3 hours max including roundtrip ferry).

San Juan Islands, specifically Lopez and Orcas

This is really more in the day-trip category then outdoor category but the San Juans have some of the best views in the state in my opinion. For a weekend or a week, you can’t go wrong with the San Juan’s. Lots of hiking, biking, or water activities to keep you moving. In certain seasons you can even whale watch!

Pike Place Market and Market Steps
Photo from here

Classic, timeless. Love the Pike Place Market! No trip is complete without a wander through Pike Place.

My Ideal Seattle Weekend
My ideal Seattle weekend involves casual dinner Friday night, at a place like the Issaquah Brewhouse or Three Lions Pub. Then Saturday, I’d probably take the Ferry up to Whidbey Island, Kingston (to make my way to Port Townsend), or the San Juan’s to have a bit of a day trip. I’d then spend Sunday having a mellow morning at Pike Place and wandering the Market Steps. Breakfast would include Starbucks Coffee and a pastry from the French Bakery. Lunch at Sunfish Fish & Chips while enjoying the view from the beach. Finish the day at one of Seattle’s finest breweries and life is GOOD!

All logo images found via Google. All photography, except where noted, are my own.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Bend Beer Beautiful

Three words that sum up our weekend! Although I'm sure I could and will come up with more, but I wanted to have a fun title for this post! We ventured down to Bend, Oregon to Brasada Ranch. Brasada is actually about half way in between Redmond, Oregon and Bend, Oregon. But a shurt drive between either one. We had been planning this trip with my folks since mid-December when we found a great Snique-Away deal that took $100 off their nightly rate! We got a great 2-bedroom cabin to split for three nights.

I have to say, we LOVED it at Brasada.  #1, it's BEAUTIFUL. Situated in the high dessert in between Mt. Hood, Mt. Bachelor, and the sisters. You have a panorama view of everything! The ranch itself is layed out really well, with lots of walking / hiking paths, golf course, equestrian center, athletic center (with three pools and five hot tubs if I recall). Ah-may-zing! My favorite part was how quiet it was and how nice the staff was. SO NICE. So next time you are in Oregon, hi-tail it over to Brasada and have yourself a nice vacation. You will not regret it!

The view on to the West I believe.
Mommy Love

Daddy Love

On Saturday, we ventured into Bend to do the Ale Trail. Bend is a great little town. Lots of fun shops, restaurants and most importantly breweries! If you are at all into beer, this is a great get-away town and lots of good breweries. We ended up only visiting two in Bend, but then then visited another one in another town (Sisters,  Oregon) on Saturday. We visited two others on the drive home on Sunday in Hood River, Oregon.
The Breweries we visited, in order of attendance (and photos):
10 Barrel Brewery Company, Bend, Oregon
Deschutes Brewery, Bend, Oregon
Three Creeks Brewery Company, Sisters, Oregon
Double Mountain Brewery & Tap Room, Hood River, Oregon
Full Sail Brewing, Hood River, Oregon

10 Barrel Brewing Company. These guys had a killer Nitro Vanilla Porter. AH-MAY-ZING 

Deschutes Brewing. Great selection of beers, some real yummy.
Nothing to die for (at least not of the ones we tried),
but lots of good solid beers.

Mmmmm, beer!

Trying to get a picture of my adorable parents.

Ah, that's better!
Our selection at Deschutes
Total out in the woods location (well as out in the woods as
right off the highway can be). Really solid good beers.

I think we liked pretty much all of them.

Hubby love

Driving to Hood River

Double Mountain Brewering in Hood River.
Probably my favorite of the trip!
Beer List from Double Mountain
Everything was good! Their sours were fantastic!
I never thought I liked sour beers, but OMG, so good!

Full Sail Ales in Hood River. Also really really good beers.
Although they had a much larger selection which was a bit hard to get through.
No complaints, of course! But it was a good thing we were sharing one tasting tray between the 4 of us!

One of my favorites from the trip. He's SUCH a problem.