Friday, February 26, 2010
The adventure continues... I had a wild idea that I would go to Vancouver, BC, a place I'd never been and where the 2010 Olympics are being held. How convenient. There is not an event ticket to be found in my price range (actually-they weren't so in my price range from the outset) and time has not improved that. So, this would be a "wouldn't it be fun to be where Olympic Games are being held and just get a taste of the atmosphere" kind of trip.
The train leaves at 7:40 and arrives at 11:40AM it leaves Vancouver for Seattle at 7:45 during the Olympics to allow visitors to stay a little over an hour longer than the usual last train back. That proved to be about right for a day trip. I was glad to have a left hand seat on the way up which offered a scenic view of Puget Sound a good bit of the way. The seats are comfortable and have seat back tables like an airplane (can you tell I don't travel by train often?) but unlike an airplane, you can roam around if you like. I ventured up to the snack car (which I'm sure has a much more appropriate name, but that is what it was for me) for a soda. There is a nice seating area with large windows. I didn't go to the dining car but wish I had just to have a look.
Vancouver is a beautiful place. The mountains are so close to the city. Very sophisticated, urban but very easy to navigate by sky train or foot. I want to go back when all of the trappings of the Olympics are gone to see this chic place as it normally is.
First stop-Sky Train to the Olympic Cauldron. A quick ride away on a train filled with excitement. Some Canadian women were dressed from head to toe in Canadian wear complete with red painted nails with design, maple leaf tattoos, red eye shadow. I wished I'd gotten their photo. They were so excited and so cute-headed to the hockey game. And-they were about my age.
As a note about the general atmosphere-people were so excited to be there and the Canadians couldn't have been betters hosts. Quick with information and help, directions and suggestions. You probably couldn't go a block without someone there to assist. Maps of venues and the area were readily available, some nice 14x 20, "peel off a pad" ones, that I plan to reuse as wrapping paper! Canada Place Way had a wonderful area for the large cauldron and a beautiful park next to it. Sea planes to Vancouver Island came and went along with helicopters. I didn't stand in the 40+ minute line for the unobstructed view of the Cauldron but was satisfied for my view from a chain link fence. A nice stroll through Harbour Green Park and then onward. I walked to Vancouver City Centre and wandered through BC Robson Square Celebration site where there were lots of street entertainers, shows-music and general entertainment, ice skating, zip-line (5 hour wait-but free!), and lots of Olympic street vendors. Pins are the thing at the Olympics and I did buy 2 but I really wanted stickers and magnets, which weren't so easily found. I do wish I had bought a pair of red Olympic mittens, but didn't pass by any and didn't seek them out.
Large TVs were everywhere so you could keep up with the games. The next thing on my list was the Art Museum where there was a free DaVinci exhibit. Again a long line, too long for a day visit. But, enjoyed the building, fountain, people having pictures taken in a bobsled and the gift shop. I also picked up a dropped lanyard of official nature which was a nice souvenir. Next, Robson Street toward BC Place. Lots of shops and the street was closed so easy to maneuver. I was ready for some lunch by then and found a crepe shop for a delicious spinach, egg and swiss crepe and a cafe frappe. Ah, energy to continue the adventure. Went into a huge candy shop and was sorry I didn't remember the favored candy bar of Canada. I'd heard people talk about it and just couldn't remember. Store was too busy for much interaction. So, alas, no candy. There was a nice art display on Granville Street, lanterns ( you can read a bit here) kids had made that are lit at night. Maybe one of my favorite things. I would have loved to have seen them at night. It was a community project, I think. Here is a quote from another website "During Jan 22nd- Feb28th 2010, a Lunar New Year celebration like no other will take over the grounds of Downtown Vancouver with thousands of lanterns decorated by school age children and large commissioned lantern displays. This free public display of lanterns as well as gathering of artisans and cultural performances brings together the celebration of Lunar New Year and the Vancouver 2010 Olympic spirit." The other art pieces are illuminated at night to, you will see if you click the link above.
Coming soon, part 2....
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Today I struck out on my own! Even drove downtown- a first for me. While, I've certainly been downtown plenty, I've never driven and parked. Yikes! Strange car, strange city- stress! I did find my way to Pike Place Market and a place to park after a bit. I love Pike Place Market, never tire of it. I had my favorite Halibut sandwich from Market Grill, eaten at the waterfront. The flowers are pretty in the market even this time of year, the fruits and vegetables -perfect, fish-fresh!
I made it to a paper shop I've always wanted to visit. I often go downtown on Sunday when here and it is closed, glad I saw it on my way back to the car. de Medici Ming is a wonderful place with paper I can't afford but love to look at. I did get a handmade card that I will frame and put in my bedroom. The woman working there was very charming. Tiny little shopped crammed with wonderful paste papers, Italian marbled paper, etchings, handmade books. I could have spent and hour and loads of cash.
My next stop was Fremont where I had booked a tour of Theo Chocolate. It was a really interesting tour and very informative about chocolate. Lots of yummy samples, too. I love dark chocolate and their's is pretty terrific. Their wrappers are a treat, too. I bought the 8 pk for my bridge buddies. Each is a different flavor combo. The aroma of the chocolate being processed was incredibly rich. The husks are in one bowl and nibs in another in the one picture. The nibs are totally natural- no sugar-but very tasty. The husks are sold as mulch. They use as much of the chocolate bean as possible. If you like chocolate, reading their story is worth the time and tour if you are in Seattle, not to be missed.
I had time before the tour for a quick cup of coffee and a stroll along the water. Fremont is also home to this giant statue of Lenin and this cool tile outside a restaurant. Lots of surprises-like this little purple chair by the window box at a clothing store and a junk store called "Peace".
What's not to like?
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
I had a very uneventful flight, my favorite kind, to Seattle today. Even snow in Chicago didn't delay my arrival! Amazingly, I slept most of the way off and on, which is rare for me. I chose my first aisle seat and then had two families of toddlers sat in the two rows in front of me. As they were settling in, I moved back about 5 rows. Love kids, but 4 1/2 hours on a plane in a seat is a long time for me much less toddlers.
I absolutely love Seattle, not just because my family is here but because it is just so spectacularly beautiful! Clouds and rain cannot cover up the incredible vistas. I got to see some new areas as I took the new light rail from the airport to get to a bus to A and R's house.
A had a class about an hour or so after arrival so I went to University Village to hang out while she got educated. It is a commons shopping area near the "U" that has my favorite stamp and paper store in Seattle-Impress. I have misplaced my little birdie I got there and replaced it. I used it all of the time and it is a little stamp that I'm sure will turn up in the mess that is my creative space some day, but it was worth it to me to buy another. I also picked up a collage sheet of birds that fit some charms and plan to make a copper necklace and some more scrabble tiles with it. There is a Copic Marker class next Monday. I'm thinking about taking. I haven't used them before.
After about 45 minutes of looking at all of their wonderful stuff, I went to a sweets shop for a coffee and snack. Chocolate Almond something- yum and pretty, too.
This scraggly photo is the hope of daylilies to come in my yard, uncovered by the melting snow, before I left. The other beautiful bloomers are in Seattle, where blooming things seem to always flourish no matter the time of year. Many flowering trees are blooming, white, purple and pink and the daffodils are nodding their pretty yellow heads, too. I'm especially partial to the happy colors of Primrose. They are 10/$10.00 here and I wish I could take a flat of them home with me! I love hellebores and why aren't there any living at my house?
Sunday, February 21, 2010
I wanted a purse I could pack in my backpack when traveling and I thought of this convenient one that for its small size packs a lot of stuff. But, I had forgotten it had this awful cruise line logo on it! Yuck. So, I tried just inking out the name with a Sharpie and living with the oars and life ring but still...terrible. Then I remembered the Sticky Back Canvas I got just the other day and a new purse was born!
I cut the size I needed applied some distress ink for the background. Rubber stamped the quote and flowers from Stampin'Up with Archival ink and colored with my Glaze Pens.
So much better! And didn't take long at all to do.
I think the birthday bash was a great success! We missed Shirley, my kids' other grandmother, who was sick and has a birthday tomorrow. But, the other four birthday peeps were there and made of 50% of the guests! It is the only time of the year that we have such a concentration of birthdays. They seemed to have a great time making the tye dyed magnets! I figured that would be the FFF ( forced family fun) part of the evening. I showed them how to do it in the living room and took the materials to the kitchen and they are got busy using every scrap of clay. I wish I had bought more magnets! I figured they would put one together to appease me and be done. I didn't get to the edible crayons but that will be great for another day. Ezra and I played three game of Cariboo Island, Amy's gift for him. It is very fun! The only thing I would have done differently was turn up my phone so I would have gotten Amy's message to Skype while everyone was here. That would have been a blast. I know she is swamped catching up from being away from school so much in December, January and early February. I've been trying to let her have plenty of time for that.
Aren't birthdays fun? Zoe's is next month-sounds like another good reason for a party!
Saturday, February 20, 2010
I've been busy getting ready for the birthday party bash here today. The tye dyed soap is made- but I did make a big mistake in forgetting the soap friendly colorant at Michael's and having to go with food coloring. They will be a rainbow of colors if they try to use it. So I'll warn them maybe it's best just to enjoy looking at it! My secret decoder cookies are baked and secret messages ready. I have a few tips on this if anyone ever tries it. The chalkboard cloth birthday banner is up and the chalkboard table cloth is on the table with birthday messages. I made the tye dyed cupcakes yesterday and iced a few today. The guests can ice the rest. You can't go wrong with some chenille stems for bending and playing with. If I have time I'll knead and roll some polymer clay for tye dye magnets for everyone to make and whip up some edible crayons. But, we'll see. I have to make the chili, slaw and cornbread.
I experimented with tye dye snow yesterday and made this cool peace symbol. It doesn't last long-sinking in pretty quickly- but it was fun and I made do some more right before the guests arrive.