Monday, June 30, 2008

Bloedel Reserve

Brian and I took a road trip out to Bainbridge Island on Saturday. We stopped by the Bainbridge Island Farmer's Market (separate post to follow) and made our way to the Bloedel Reserve for a tour.

I am not sure how I found this place (Brian was impressed and didn't know it even existed), but I was doing some research on things to see/do on Bainbridge and came upon their website a few years ago. The idea of a 150-acre nature preserve and garden (designed by the vice-chairman of a lumber company) with influence of the conservation movement and oriental philosophy sounded just to interesting to pass up.

The Bloedel Reserve has both natural and highly-landscaped lakes, immaculate lawns, woods, a rock and sand Zen Garden (formerly the swimming pool where poet Theodore Roethke drowned in 1963), a moss garden (unique for these parts, ha ha), a rhododendron glade, and a Reflection Garden.

The Bloedel's French Chateau-style home including many original furnishings, is preserved as a Visitor Center. The number of visitors to the Reserve is limited, to preserve its tranquility and the experience of its visitors. Brian and I had 1:30 PM reservations.

I took two cameras, giving Brian the digital to shoot while I used the "big" camera with one roll of black and white and one roll of color film. Here is our detailed tour.
The Gatehouse
We were met at the gate, by our hostess who gave us a list of rules to read while we parked the car. Inside, we were checked in and given a detailed self tour guidebook and map and sent on our way. The first part of our journey took us through a field in which you are to set aside the distractions of "city" life and assimilate yourself back to nature.

The most recent addition to the Bloedel Reserve, designed to echo the French heritage of the residence itself. From the Gatehouse you cross the fields to the south and enter the quiet of the woods. As the path descends, you catch your first glimpse of the Bird Refuge.

Together, the water and plantings both attract and display birds. Ducks, geese and swans make their homes among the native ferns. The sounds were mesmerizing. Not knowing bird calls/sounds....I felt at a disadvantage being surrounded by such an auditory symphony.
You next step abruptly into a dense Northwest forest, undisturbed except for access trails. Evergreens dominate: Douglas fir, western red cedar and hemlock.

"Nature can do without man, but man cannot do without nature."
Prentice Bloedel

Stepping from the deep woods into the residential landscape, this formal, European style landscape is characterized by man-made lakes, weeping willow, English elms and a parrot tree, flanking the main facade of the house.

The Visitor Center, designed as a French country house, on a bluff overlooking Port Madison Bay near Agate Pass, was constructed in 1931, when its neighboring houses were small log and frame summer cabins.

"The opportunity to enjoy nature as it is arranged by man and as it arranges itself."
Prentice Bloedel

Around the north side of the house is the Waterfall Overlook. A large copper beech stands to the right at the top of the stairway at the Visitor Center lawn. From the Overlook, a path leads you into the Glen. The waterfall was built about 1954.

Rhododendrons thrive and are blooming! Thousands of perennials, bulbs and wildflowers bloom among the rhododendrons, including more than 15,000 cyclamen plants, one of the largest plantings in the world.

The experience of walking around the edge of this pond is one in which the view continually changes, being articulated by subtle shifts in the alignment of the path and the mounds alongside it. The landscape is traditionally planted with pruned pine trees and shrubs and carefully placed rocks. Against the dark backdrop of conifer trees, the Japanese maple provides bold color contrast (would love to see it in the autumn). The rock and sand Zen garden was designed by Dr. Koichi Kawana, a professor of landscape architecture at the University of California.

From Oriental respect for nature, we now move closer to reverence. In this hushed room, with its living carpet so dense, it seems to breathe. The light that seeped into this area was both eerie and calming.

Out of the elemental materials of gardening - a natural spring, sky, earth, grass and trees - the Reflection Pool creates a setting of magical simplicity. The pool tames the forest with its geometric precision and the stillness of its ground waters.

"A physical balance between man and nature, appealing to the senses, rather than the intellect."
Prentice Bloedel
Prentice and Virginia Bloedel were cremated and buried at the end of the reflection pond. I found this spot to be peaceful and spiritual. It was the last stop on our journey and I was sad to see the tour end. This was one of the Bloedel's favorite poems.
By Emile Bronte
There should be no despair for you
While nightly stars are burning;While evening pours its silent dew,
And sunshine gilds the morning.
There should be no despair--though tears may flow down like a river:
Are not the best beloved of years
Around your heart for ever?
They weep, you weep, it must be so;
Winds sigh as you are sighing,
And winter sheds its grief in snow
Where Autumn's leaves are lying:
Yet, these revive, and from their fate
Your fate cannot be parted:
Then, journey on, if not elate,
Still, NEVER broken-hearted!


Sunday, June 29, 2008

Menu Plan Monday!

It's gonna be a short week this week. I am catching up with a friend for "happy hour" on Monday night and heading up to Tacoma on Thursday after work for a long-long holiday weekend. Here are a couple of things on the menu this week!

Don't forget to check out I'm an Organizing Junkie for great menu plans and recipes every Monday!

Tuesday, July 1st: Corn, Bacon and Potato Chowder with Texas Toast

Wednesday, July 2nd: Ginger Peanut Beef Stir-Fry with Jasmine Rice (thank you Daintie Debutante)

Saturday, June 28, 2008


People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh... people will come Ray. People will most definitely come
Terrance Mann "People Will Come" from Field of Dreams
Brian and I went to our first Portland Beavers game last Thursday night. It was a cool evening and we left in the 5th inning, but we had a great time.

Pigged out on hot dogs, hamburgers, ice cream, pizza and peanuts (in that order).

It just reminds me of what I love about summer!



Friday, June 27, 2008

Old Photo Friday: Sail Away

Click on picture to enlarge

Date: Summer 2002
Location: Shilshoal Bay Marina, Seattle
Who: My Sweets (Brian)
What: Brian taking sailing lessons with the Seattle Sailing Club on a 25' Merit.

You can just feel Brian's spirit...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Recipe of the Week: Mixed New Potato Salad with Sweet Basil and Shallots

This sounds like a wonderful BBQ/Picnic salad for the upcoming 4th of July holiday! This along side some BBQ Ribs (check out these....thanks Matt and Kat) or some Tequila grilled chicken sounds like perfect holiday fare.


Mixed New Potato Salad with Sweet Basil and Shallots
Serves 4-6

3 pounds mixed red and white new potatoes
2 tablespoons salt
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons honey
4 large shallots, chopped roughly
2 cups fresh sweet basil, loosely packed
Fresh black pepper
1. Put the potatoes and salt in a large pot of boiling water and cook 10-15 minutes or until just tender.
2. Drain and as soon as you can (while they're still hot), chop in half and put in a large bowl.
3. Whisk the dairy products and honey together.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Toss the potatoes with the dressing, shallots and basil. Refrigerate.

Serve cold, warm, or hot.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Saturday Solstice BBQ with Friends

Brian and I headed into the city this weekend to see Sonja and Geoff and (unknown by some) the baby-to-be! For some reason, Brian didn't want to know the sex of the baby, even though EVERYONE, including the parents....already know. Well....the cat is out of the bag and in 8+ weeks we will be welcoming Maile Marie into the family.

It was a beautiful evening in Greenwood and Sonja and I prepared a really nice meal. Lots of fresh grilled veggies, some nice grilled potatoes, garlic/soy glazed shrimp (for Geoff and I) and chicken garden burgers for Sonja and Brian.

There was just enough chill in the air after the sun went down to have a fire in their firepit.

Dessert was a butter pound cake, fresh raspberries and warm chocolate sauce drizzled over the top.

It was nice to catch up with friends and enjoy our first BBQ of the summer.



Monday, June 23, 2008

Lunch with Mom and Kenny

On Saturday we stopped in on my Mom and Kenny and had lunch at our favorite brewpub in Burien. The weather was better than expected and a bit on the humid side.

On our way home from lunch we took a walk in this really cool botanical garden right smack dab in the landing flight path of SeaTac (very strange). The Highline SeaTac Botanical Garden is really beautiful and everything is just now starting to bloom.

The gardens were established in 1996 by volunteers determined to save Elda Behm's award winning cottage garden from expansion at SeaTac. The Botanical Foundation located a new home for the garden and in 2000 the City of SeaTac, the Port of Seattle and over 200 volunteers moved thousands of plants to their new home at North SeaTac park.

Today you can wander along a stream, cross a little bridge, relax by a goldfish stocked pond and enjoy a stunning array of plants.



Sunday, June 22, 2008

Menu Plan Monday!

It's hard to believe that this is the last full week of June! It doesn't even feel like we've started our summer yet! Brian will be down from Tacoma on Wednesday night after dinner and we are going to try and go to a Portland Beaver's Baseball game on Thursday, so here are my three picks for this week.

Monday: Chicken Fettucine Alfredo with a Garden Salad
Tuesday: WW Chilli Dogs and Sweet Potato Fries
Wednesday: Grilled Flank Steak with Wasabi Slaw (last weeks ROTW)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Old Photo Friday: Salem-Keizer Volcanoes

Date: Summer 2005
Location: Salem, OR @ Volcanoes Stadium
Who: Brian, Pop, Rosemary and Stacy (Sandra took the picture)
What: Brian, Sandra and I drove south to Salem and Dad and Rosemary drove north from Eugene and we met at the Salem-Keizer's stadium for an evening baseball game. The Volcanoes play in the Single A Short Season NW League which runs each summer from mid-June to September 1st.



Thursday, June 19, 2008

Recipe of the Week: Flank Steak with Wasabi Slaw

We probably grill flank steak at Rebecca Lane, 3-4 times a month. This week's ROTW really packs a flavor punch! Wasabi powder found in Asian markets and most gourmet grocers adds heat and zest. Along side the crunchy cole slaw, this quick Asian steak will be added to your summer favorites for years to come!


5 tbsp wasabi powder
2 tsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp table salt
1 pound flank steak
1 pound packaged coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots)
2 tsp canola oil
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
Juice from 1 lime
1 Tbsp sugar
1. Preheat grill or broiler. Stir together 2 tablespoons of wasabi powder, brown sugar and salt. 2. Rub on beef. Grill or broil to desired doneness, about 10 minutes for medium.
3. Stir together slaw, oil, remaining wasabi powder, soy sauce, vinegar, lime juice and sugar until well coated.
I like to serve with a side of jasmine rice

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Our Garden: Update

Our garden pots are doing well, despite more rain than sun these past few weeks.

Both tomatoes are growing and have numerous yellow flowers, which means lots of yummy tomatoes in our future (say......45 days+).

The herbs are growing with the exception of the basil which is dead. I am not sure if it was the rain, but the leaves began turning brown with spots and some of the leaves turned yellow and shriveled up. The basil just didn't make it! I think I'll wait until July and plant some more.

The pot of lettuce is attracting the slugs, but I feel there is enough for all of us (little creatures included) to share. I think I'll plan a small gourmet salad next week with a few chives and see how the lettuce tastes before I start on all out assault!

What our herbs really need is some sun....consistent temps and less rain!


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Wish List: Adirondack Chair Cushions

I love my new Adirondack chair and have spent every evening in it this past week.

It's very comfortable, however I think some of these are much needed!

Which one shall I choose?