Getting there is half the fun. An hour long ferry ride ushers us to the dock and lands us at a quaint island that has a lot to offer. We begin to relax as we step onto the ferry and there is a sense that we are truly departing for a new destination.
Upon arrival the “laid back vibe” and island style put us at ease. The soft sound of guitar music mixes with salt air. Colorful locals embrace us and give us a wonderful reception.
Two blocks from the ferry we arrive at Friday Harbor House. The architecture is contemporary yet distinctly Northwest, this luxurious little boutique hotel brings urban sophistication to the island. The hotel’s bluff-top location offers the best view of the islands, ferry landing and marina.
The rooms are light and modern with a spacious Northwest Zen inspired design and a stunning view of the harbor. Rooms have fireplaces and oversized whirlpool tubs, making this place a choice spot for a romantic getaway. In our room we relaxed in the tub and gaze at both the view out the window and at the crackling fire. The views are truly breathtaking.
The Bluff Restaurant is located on the property, this sleek dining room has captivating views. Watch as the ferry soundlessly floats around the bend while swallows dip and swirl against a twilight sky. (Get a window table if possible but don’t fret if it doesn’t work out; your dining experience will be enjoyable no matter.) The slate floor, honey-colored wood soft lighting and recorded mellow jazz make The Bluff Restaurant the most casually sophisticated restaurant in town.
Freshness and flavor define dining at the Friday Harbor House. Executive Chef Jason Codding commented “I just let the food shine”. Consider, for example, the tenderloin steak: small, well portioned steaks presented minimally with a woody dark sauce topped by potatoes and asparagus.The fresh wild salmon was prepared simply with zucchini adornments. Beautifully presented fish tacos were our favorite.
Mango Mojitos complete the meal. A tangy mix of mint, sour and sweetness create a symphony for the taste buds. Our neighbors glimpse our tall orange-filled glasses and are inspired to partake in the refreshing delights as well. Looking across the bay they note their sailing vessels and we delight in conversations about the winds determining their next location.
Friday Harbor House is an intimate and casual setting where one can relax, taste exquisite cuisine and simply be a world away after just a short ferry ride.
The atmosphere in the offices of BCRA is light, contemporary, and inspired. Innovation thrives here; it’s apparent in the creative buzz in the air. Owner/President Jeff Brown believes that work should be fun and fulfilling. A positive environment and respect for the work place family are priorities along with recognizing and supporting the creative and entrepreneurial spirit of each individual.
Jeff’s chosen field was greatly influenced by his grandfather who had meticulously designed his home on a cliff overlooking Deception Pass on Whidbey Island. He was further inspired through his enjoyment of mechanical drawing courses he took in ninth grade. “It was my dream from that year on to become an architect.”
In his kind, unassuming manner, Jeff chronicled the inception of BCRA. He had been laid off with a wife and three young children to support. During that time he began doing design work in his home office. He laughed as he described the day he was working in the kitchen, drawings spread out on the table with three kids in the house… needless to say office space was needed. Space was rented and in 1989, together with associates Rory Connally (Vice President), and Ken Rowan (Secretary/Treasurer), Brown began BCRA.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, BCRA has grown from the original association into the largest architectural firm in the Puget Sound. Currently, BCRA employs a dedicated staff of over 150 persons within three architectural studios. They provide a full range of design services for retail, religious, office and residential.
BCRA has several showpiece homes in the South Sound area. One of them is located on Fox Island. As you approach the Fox Island residence, you are visually pleased by the way that the traditionally influenced barn style home with contemporary construction practice surrounds its neighboring properties. From the use of traditional 12” vertical board & batten cedar, to the clean lines of red, wood/clad windows and metal roof, the guesthouse has a feel complimentary to the Pacific Northwest’s style of architecture. While paying attention to the traditional details of an old barn using today’s materials and resources, the architect also designed a functional floor plan layout and building orientation to suit the future addition of the main home.
Another BCRA accomplishment is a beach property located on Henderson Inlet which had been owned by the client’s family for 60+ years. The property had a single story cabin with tree stumps used as its foundation which allowed the streambed to flow under it. The newly remodeled cabin now rests on four piers, still open for the streambed. The substantial remodel included adding a new lower level—two bedrooms, bath, and entertainment room and a main floor—mud room, family room, kitchen, dining, and a bridge used to access the cabin on the main level. A loft includes a built-in reading nook in a space overlooking the inlet. Providing a view of the inlet was essential for both the client and the designers, and much of the side of the home is glass which provides stunning views.
Still another showpiece is located in the Narrows area. Looking from the entry space through the dining room and indoor/outdoor covered patio, you are engaged into an amazing view setting with close to 180-degree views facing the Narrows Bridge and the neighboring town of Gig Harbor across the Puget Sound.
Enjoying a wonderful view yet creating a floor plan to meet the functions and style that the clients were striving to achieve was difficult, but definitely a rewarding experience at the same time for both the clients and architect. Existing property conditions which included a near 100’ cliff drop off and a height restriction of 16’ from the median street grade elevation addressed from the design review committee was a challenging process for floor plan flow. Since the clients’ interest is in the Arizona architecture of homes, they wanted the main living spaces on the lower level to incorporate the indoor/outdoor features of a Mediterranean living style in a Pacific Northwest setting. In order to accomplish a lower level entrance to the home, a terracing stairway to the house had to have a visual and a soothing interest for the individual leading up to the entry. A well lit walkway, Mediterranean style plants and shrubbery usable in the northwest, and a multi-level water feature were used to draw one into the space, leading them to the home’s entry.
As part of the design criteria, it was emphasized that maximizing the incredible views on the property were a necessity as it was a huge consideration for the owners when they purchased the vacant land. In order to accommodate the views, floor to ceiling walls of glass were a must. Typical wood construction could not achieve the transparent views that the owners were looking for, so the option of two steel moment frame systems that would fight lateral, seismic and at times heavy wind conditions was needed.
Building a home that was suitable for entertainment purposes was addressed during the early phases of the design process. From the gourmet kitchen setup including top of the line appliances, to a pair of barn doors opening into the oversized pantry, to two large 12’ islands, one for food preparation and one for serving, the clients find it to be functional as well as enjoyable to entertain. An open concept with the large living room having a connection to both the kitchen and outdoor living space serves as an ideal floor plan design to have large gatherings controlled in public spaces, separating any flow into private spaces. One subtle design feature that gave the connection between the indoor/outdoor spaces was the use of stained concrete flooring and oversized sliding doors. The heated stained concrete flooring from the living room and dining room spaces to the outdoor covered patio as well as using large oversized slider doors helps to maximize the experience of bringing the indoor spaces to the outside.
As award-winning Arthur Erickson said, “Life is rich, always changing, always challenging, and we architects have the task of transmitting into wood, concrete, glass and steel, of transforming human aspirations into habitable and meaningful space.”
BCRA does just that. A twenty year legacy of inspired designs.
2309 6th Ave, Tacoma
Pavarotti said, “One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” With a full open bar, ceiling fans, and oak wainscoting, Sax Restaurant and Lounge is a relaxing, stylish place for people of all ages to enjoy on a daily basis.
Filet mignon ceviche is a satisfying first course. The tender cut of beef is seared; the thin slices of rare meat are served with roasted corn relish, capers and pimientos. Lemony dressing completes the zesty starter. Other appetizers include coconut chicken, ciabatta pizza, and crostinis caprese.
Spring greens are combined with roasted apples, dried sweet cranberries, walnuts, pungent gorgonzola crumbles and walnut-crusted chicken. Aptly named “walnut chicken salad”, it is a filling second course. The house raspberry vinaigrette marries the flavors well. Dinner salads are composed of mixed greens, crispy cucumber, sweet red onion slices, tomatoes and zesty kalamata olives. Blue cheese dressing is creamy and abundant with chunks of the veined cheese. Also offered are sesame chicken salad, steak salad and classic Caesar salad.
Walnut-crusted chicken is served over tender wild mushroom ravioli and almond broccoli; it is topped with a pepper cream sauce. The chicken is moist; the delicate cream sauce harmonizes well with the crunchy breading and succulent meat. The signature pork marsala is tossed in sweet wine sauce and served over garlic pasta. Mushrooms, garlic, shallots and fresh herbs add depth to the sauce. Grilled t-bone, pan-seared jumbo scallops and roasted apple-stuffed pork loin are also available.
For dessert, a hint of ginger adds a new twist to crème brulee, a classic treat. Crunchy caramelized sugar tops lightly spiced custard creating a pleasant contrast in textures. Rodgrod med flode (red berry dessert with cream) is a Danish berry pudding served with cream. Other desserts include spiced flan cake, tiramisu and cinnamon chocolate mousse.
Sax has an extremely affordable happy hour ($3-$6) for a large variety of food; the bar menu includes crab cakes, prosciutto wrapped prawns, and beef teriyaki skewers.
The eatery is open for breakfast Saturdays and Sundays, 8am to 4pm. The full menu features omelettes, eggs Benedict and Belgian waffles.
Entertainment is offered every day of the week and includes live piano music, live jazz, and wine tastings. Look for college night (Monday), open mike night (Tuesday), Latin night (Wednesday), ladies night (Thursday), and a mix of live bands and DJs spinning dance hits on the weekend.
For creative food, a relaxed atmosphere and knowledgeable and attentive service, Sax is the place to go.
520 4th Ave E, Olympia
A favorite Olympia destination for eleven years, Ramblin Jacks has something for everybody. Much of the menu is focused around the restaurant’s wood-fired oven and barbeque smoker.
The atmosphere is light and spacious. Sunflower yellow, burnt orange and taupe give the interior a definite southwest flavor. High on the yellow masonry are faux windows, their boxes overflowing with blossoms.
Our appetizers are fried green tomatoes with crawfish remoulade. The firm fruit is dredged in a crunchy corn bread crust. Topped with Aioli or mayonnaise based remoulade loaded with sweet delicate crawfish, they’re served on a bed of fresh greens. This starter is more than enough for two to share. Other hors d’oeuvre options include artichoke and sun-dried tomato dip, New Orleans style barbeque prawns, veggie quesadillas, and southwest eggrolls.
House salads are composed of mixed greens, sweet grape tomatoes, crisp cucumber, onion, and croutons. Light, slightly sweet balsamic vinaigrette is an excellent complement; full-flavored lemon tahini dressing is a good choice as well—the lemony tartness helps bring out the flavor of the sesame tahini.
A grilled rib-eye is a mouthwatering entrée. Nicely marked and medium rare, it is tender and juicy. The ample portion of beef is accompanied by a generous portion of sweet, crispy, golden sweet potato fries and sautéed zucchini with caramelized onions and bell peppers. Also tantalizing is the “Your Way Southern Style Smoked Meats Sampler”. Three meats and two sides are selected by the diner. Jack’s sausage, which is crafted and smoked in-house, is highly seasoned. A slice of cured turkey breast is served with country gravy; slowly cooked North Carolina pork shoulder is so tender it falls from the bone. Three barbeque sauces are offered—spicy, regular, and sweet. Sides are sweet BBQ beans and sautéed zucchini. The entrée menu is quite extensive—it includes pizza, seafood, smoked meats and sandwiches.
Dessert is a hot fudge brownie sundae. A decadent brownie is topped with Jack Daniels praline swirl ice cream (by request), lightly sauced with rich hot fudge sauce and garnished with whipped cream and a cherry. Chopped peanuts are served on the side. Our second dessert, a classic pecan pie with shortbread crust, is also served with Jack Daniels ice cream (again by request). Crème brulee, New York style cheesecake, key lime pie and bread pudding are also available.
For outstanding food with a southwest barbeque flair, Ramblin Jacks is an excellent choice. Besides offering succulent fare, Ramblin Jacks also offers full-service catering, from the backyard barbeque to the most upscale wedding.
This holiday season my shopping list writes itself straight from the heart. I’m giving love. I’m giving beautiful. I’m giving art. I’m giving bellaballs to the people I care about. Because giving is a bella thing.
In the past year, I have had the wonderful opportunity to meet renowned local glass artist, Diane Hansen, and illustrious interior designer, Lesli Jacobs-McHugh. These two Northwest women recently launched bellaballs, a distinctive collection of affordable, hand-blown glass art based in Tacoma. Diane and Lesli combined their passion for life, beauty, and art to create a new business where their mission truly is all about giving ‘beautiful.’
As they opened their personal stories to me, I discovered both women met during adverse times in their lives. Each of them had survived the loss of a loved one to cancer and had befriended one another while trying to rebuild their worlds and move forward with a newly defined sense of purpose focused on giving. It was through that connection and sharing of those difficult experiences that a strong friendship blossomed between them.
For Diane and Lesli, a positive, life-changing moment occurred when they realized each shared a mutual love of Japanese fishing floats. That the glass float humbly begins by holding up fishing nets, breaks free when storms hit, gets tossed about in rough seas, then washes ashore on beaches across the world to be discovered as a treasure was a powerful symbol of courage and transformation. That symbol was so profound, it inspired Diane and Lesli to start their company, bellaballs.
“We decided to take the simple object with its powerful history and elevate it to a level of great importance. We created art that is not only beautiful in its own right, but bellas serve to remind both the giver and the receiver that living beautifully is a choice. Through weathering the storms of life, we each become more beautiful,” said Hansen.
Hand-blown bellaballs are available in 77 different colors. From lovely pastel color palettes to rich, tapestry-toned selections, each unique bella is embossed with a signature sterling silver bella adornment and is accompanied by an individually numbered authenticity card to ensure your original, one-of-a-kind bella.
In their efforts to be all inclusive when ‘giving beautiful,’ both women feel everybody should have the chance to own art. So, they offer their hand-crafted floats at an encouraging price point—no more than $40. “Glass floats come from an ancient tradition,” said Hansen. “They’re exotic. They look fragile, but they’re stronger than they look. We’re excited to offer something this special for such a reasonable price.”
Since the dream of bellaballs was born from a spirit of giving, giving back to the community is also a central part of who Lesli and Diane are. Each year, they choose one of their signature designs as an annual Charity Ball. The torn and tattered Cause Ribbon emblem designed for this year’s Charity Ball is in honor of cancer survivors.
For more information or to shop and order bellaballs, please visit: www.bellaballs.com or call 253.627.0183.
Long before there were fashion shows with catwalks, ladies of elegance attended the races where women of stature strutted their latest fashions, including those trademark hats. Times have changed, and so has fashion, but this long-standing tradition has not. On September 18th, 2009, Emerald Downs hosted Hats and Heels Ladies Night at the Races benefitting Ronald McDonald House of Western Washington and Alaska. Nearly 300 ladies enjoyed an evening of exclusive shopping, fun, food and wine (and hopefully a few lucky bets on the ponies too!).
Pictured//Shannyn Towe gets her makeup done at the Ra SalonSpa booth, Camisha Jackson at the Lunaversoul booth, and group: Natalie Wilsie, Brianna Ung, Julie Barnhart, Track Handicapper Jim Wilson, Lisa Melkers, Wendy Holt & Jennifer Yeates.
2500 Zoobilee gala revelers “went green” this past July at the 19th annual event. Organizers encouraged the use of locally-grown food and compostable supplies. “We couldn’t be happier with the outcome,” said Zoo Society executive director Carl Zenker. “It’s such an honor to host our community for Zoobilee each summer, but to do so and practice the earth-friendly efforts we promote made us truly proud.” This year’s event raised more than $500,000 to support the zoo’s education and conservation programs.
Pictured//Top: Shannon Hornish & Scott Cook, Middle: Laura Leigh & Jeff Stewart, Rachel & Devin Rosen, Adam & Vanessa Lindgren, Bottom: Sharon & Ken Cox, Kiley Roundtree & Matt Smith, Michael Heintz & Kristen Boles.