fresh flowers unite!

Perhaps because Seattle is so often draped in shades of grey, the flowers that sprout here at spring time appear more vibrant and cheery than anywhere else in America!  If you are a fan of the florals, try to plan your trip around March or April when the lot of buds are making their presence known.

While most of the city will offer a flash of color here and there, the Queen Anne neighborhood is probably the best example of Seattlites’ passion for flowers.  Here, almost every exquisite home is topped off with a treasure trove of succulent blooms.  Lilacs, daffodils, crocuses and tulips are just the appetizers for the tantalizing feast of color found throughout the enclave.  I spent a number of photos simply capturing the small trickles of wayward rainwater that pooled in upturned leafage.

To purchase flowers during your stay in the “Emerald City,” there’s no better place than bustling Pike Place Market.  (See “eats” for more information.)  The over 15 different farms/ vendors here bring to the table a cornucopia of locally-grown germinations in a variety of take-home sizes.  Planning your own garden?  The small shrubs, bulbs and seedlings here will easily get you started!  I was thrilled to see the pussywillows from my childhood performing what they do best - ward off the raindrops with their fuzzy little paws that are actually called “catkins!”  (See, you learn something new every day!)  Pike Place Market is open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 Am until 6:00 PM and Sundays from 9:00 AM until 5:00 PM.

The epitome of Seattle’s floral year is perhaps its Cherry Blossom & Japanese Cultural Festival held each year in mid-April.  The hub-bub celebrates America’s relationship with Japan through live taiko drum performances, arts ‘n crafts booths, and traditional Japanese faire.  But it’s the cherry blossoms that truly take the rice cake here!  (One thousand of the lovely trees were donated to Seattle by the country Japan in 1976!)  The three day event is completely FREE, making it the best option of all to get your bloom on!

Pike Place Market - 85 Pike Street, Seattle, Washington 98101, (206) 682-7453,

Seattle Cherry Blossom & Japanese Cultural Festival –Fisher Pavilion, Seattle Center, 305 Harrison Street, Seattle, WA 98109, (206) 723-2003,

hidden, and not so hidden, finds in Fremont and Wallingford

Seattle affords many impeccably beautiful and unique neighborhoods to explore.  One such area is Fremont/ Wallingford, located north of the city center beyond the channel that connects Lake Union with Salmon Bay.  Touted as the “Center of the Universe” by the enclave’s Chamber of Commerce, Fremont has long been known as the city’s most bohemian neighborhood, teeming with artists, sculptors and musicians alike.  And yet, a stroll along the main thoroughfares shows that there is much more going on in Fremont than just its storied crafting workshops.  The district is full of great restaurants, hip bars and an assortment of eclectic shops.

Some stops worth noting are Not a Number Cards & Gifts on 45th Avenue (selling quirky “progressive” items to those aged 6 to 96) and Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream.  I had saved room for dessert after dining at May Thai (see “eats”), and thus, was easily swayed by the purportedly famous creamy that offers scoops in a surprising range of flavors - from traditional Vanilla Bean to Honey Lavender!  Using the milk of hormone-free cows from Western Washington, Molly Moon Neitzel has created a splendid-tasting delight that is dependent on local ingredients, seasonal fruits and even a smattering of herbs such as rosemary and cardamom!  Dependent on the availability of local ingredients, f
lavors rotate every four to six weeks, though eight "always" recipes - including the ever-popular Salted Caramel - are available any day of the week.  While the scoops are not necessarily cheap, it’s a small price to pay for such unique goodness!  Come on, where else are you going to find flavors such off-the-wall flavors as Balsamic Strawberry or Ginger?

Ironically, the ice cream outfit also contains its own little mini-store.  Adult and children’s clothes, kitchen spices and even lip balm inspired by Molly Moon’s inventive ice cream designs are available in a multitude of varieties!  Can you say “unique gifts for friends back home?”

Of course, no visit to the Fremont neighborhood can be complete without a meeting with one of its most prominent residents.  He just happens to be an enormous troll who lives under the Aurora Bridge!  Huh?  Born out of a city-sponsored sculpture contest in 1989, the sand-castle-esque “Fremont Troll” clutches a full-size VW bug in its hand and features a hubcap for an eye!  The enigmatic guy is located near where Route 99 splits off in two directions, and his hermitage was literally crawling with enthusiasts during my visit!  (After waiting 10 minutes just to get a clear shot of the creature sans people, I suspect this is usually the case.  Plan ahead and make your trip in the early AM to avoid excessive amounts of interlopers!)

Fremont’s Chamber of Commerce holds “troll-a-ween” events each year!  Check out their wickedly clever website for more information on this and other goings-ons if you happen to be in the area during October!  Set of Drifters tip:  Your “Set of Drifters” have only scratched the surface of all there is on offer here.  May we suggest a walking tour of the area as your best bet to discover your own favorite haunts!

Not a Number Cards & Gifts - 3419 Fremont Place N., Seattle, WA  98103, (206) 784-0965,

Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream - 1622 North 45th Street, Seattle, WA  98103, (206) 547-5105,‎

Fremont Troll – located under the Aurora Bridge at the corner of North 36th Street and, yes, Troll Avenue, Seattle, WA  98103

Fremont Chamber of Commerce - 908 North 34th Street, Seattle, WA  98103, (206) 632-1500,

We also recommend:

BAIT Shop - 915 East Pike Street, Seattle, WA 98122, (206) 257-1178,

Zions Gate Records - 1100 East Pike Street, Seattle, WA 98122, (206) 568-5446,

Everyday Music - 1520 10th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98122, (206) 568-3321,