Get out of Town: The Outback Kangaroo Farm in Arlington

While driving out to a camping spot in Oso last weekend, I passed by a sign with an arrow pointing to Kangaroos.  I certainly wasn’t in Australia, so at the campsite a friend and I decided to do a Google search for kangaroos in Arlington, and found out about The Outback Kangaroo Farm.  We were pretty excited, so we drove back the 30 minutes from our campsite the next day to take a tour. For a super affordable $9 per adult ($8 for children, and cash or check only), you can go on one of four tours per day through this farm.  My first thought upon arriving was that I’d be standing behind a cage, listening to someone speak.  However, this was only true for the first exhibit (the lemurs, of which three had just recently had babies).  After that, we were able to walk into every paddock and enclosure, feed most of the animals, and pet and play with them. Don’t get me wrong – this wasn’t all just for fun.  The tours are guided and are also somewhat educational (more on a child-level, as there were plenty of little ones on the tour).  But can you really resist the chance to pet a wallaby? Peacocks, chickens, and goats roam the farm pretty freely.   In fact one particular goat decided to meet us at the beginning of the tour and just follow us the whole way.  Before we got to the kangaroos, we met a llama, an alpaca, several donkeys, a miniature horse, and a pretty large 25-year old tortoise.  We also met an ostrich and a couple of emus, which was the only other enclosure we couldn’t enter.

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The wallabies and kangaroos live together in a pretty large area.  Several are stand-offish and stay far away, but most bound up to the people that walk in. We had a little bit of food for them, but even when we didn’t hold food they’d come right up and snuggle in for a pat on the head.  Most were born and raised there, as the farm has been around for 15 years.  They’re used to humans.  One kangaroo had a new baby in her pouch, and we were able to feel her stomach and feel the baby the way you’d feel a woman’s stomach when her baby is kicking while they explained to us how kangaroo babies grow and mature. I should also mention that this place sells wallabies and kangaroos, for $1200 to $1500.  Wallabies are totally silent animals, but that doesn’t make them great for a Seattle apartment or high-density neighborhood – they’re not exactly an animal you can potty train and need a lot of space to run around.  Oh well, my dog would get jealous anyway.

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Long story short: this place gets a lot of thumb’s up from me.  I’m not normally a huge supporter of animals in captivity, but these guys all had plenty of room, shelter, food & water, and seemed genuinely happy.  Plus, I learned a few somethings.  Next time you find yourself near Arlington, go check this place out!

Tottenham takes on Seattle – But first, a beer.

I had the great privilege last night of getting to tag along with Mr. and Mrs. Beer Blog to Reuben’s Brews, where owner Adam Robbings is a fellow Brit and huge Tottenham Hotspur fan.  So naturally, he’s pretty excited to see the Sounders face the Spurs this Saturday at Century Link field in a friendly.

He’s so excited that he actually brewed a special beer for the Hotspur – London Calling, a British pale ale. You can read Adam’s story about behind the beer and how it was made here.  In the meantime, back to last night.

Adam Robbing's had Reuben's Brews decked out in Spurs gear to celebrate.

Adam Robbing’s had Reuben’s Brews decked out in Spurs gear to celebrate.

I’m a Chelsea FC fan.  Born a Chelsea fan, raised a Chelsea fan.  It’s like religion in England – your parents bring you up to love whatever they were brought up to love, and the team support stays in the family.  Chelsea came to play the Sounders two years ago, and that was one of the most exciting moments of my life.  I know how Adam feels.  So I resisted all urges to put on my blue polo shirt and yell “Come on you Blues” as I walked into a brewery full of Tottenham fans last night.  I can appreciate good football (yes, I said football) when I see it, and Tottenham has had a great team in the past few years being near the top of the table.   And let’s face it, Tottenham gave us Dempsey, so we have that.

Reuben’s Brews was packed last night for a special tapping of London Calling. And who showed to up to tap the cask? None other than legend Ledley King, who played over 300 games with Tottenham and joined the English national team in 2010 for their World Cup game against USA.  King has been retired since 2012, but sure was working hard last night to take pictures with and sign autographs for fans.

Getting my picture taken with the great Ledley King!

Getting my picture taken with the great Ledley King!

King signing autographs for fans.

King signing autographs for fans.

The best part of all this is that part of the proceeds from the sale of London Calling go to Street Soccer Seattle, an organization devoted to using soccer to uplift and empower homeless individuals in Seattle.

The Sounders and Spurs face off this Saturday, July 19th, at 1pm – to a crowd of over 64,000 fans (my friend in England pointed out that this was incredibly high for a friendly).  If you have your ticket, go cheer them on!  If you don’t, you’re missing out on seeing some great footie.

PHOTOS: Wine Rocks Seattle

I had the awesome opportunity yesterday evening to accompany the lovely Taryn Miller of Sips & the City to Wine Rocks Seattle on Pier 66, and essentially get the experience of a wine festival instead of the beer fests I usually gravitate to.  I’m sold!  This event had everything you could want on a Seattle summer evening: a waterfront location with a view, fantastic wines (I stuck mostly to white and rose because of the heat), food samples (Beechers Cheese and Bill the Butcher were on hand, among others) and food trucks (like the amazing Grilled Cheese Experience), and live music.

The music was provided by the wine makers themselves, who formed a few bands and played a good variety for lounging and dancing.  In particular, an all-track-suit-wearing band from Des Voigne Cellars in Woodinville provided covers from the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Weezer and Dixie Chicks that I just loved.

As far as the wine goes, I won’t pick favorites.  I’m not nearly enough of a connoisseur to advise on good wines.  I’ll just say there was a great representation there from all over the state and enough varieties to suit everyone’s taste.  Don’t like wine?  They had you covered there too, with several beers and ciders available.

 

The best part?  Proceeds from the event benefited the University District Food Bank.

Here’s a few photos from the event!

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Mexican in Phinney-Greenwood: HECHO

Since moving to Maple Leaf, I don’t get to stroll down Greenwood Avenue as often as I used to.  So when a friend asked me if I’d seen “that new Mexican place,” I assumed she was talking about a small hole-in-the-wall with a few tacos.

Enter HECHO, now open at 7314 Greenwood Ave N.  Well, in truth, it’s been open since about the first week of April – but came in silently and I didn’t stumble upon any press about it back then despite my obsession with following the likes of Eater and Seattle Magazine.   When I passed by it walking the dog yesterday, I was immediately attracted to the bright exterior wall that is labeled in words like “Tacos” and “Pescado” and the one that caught my eye – “Margaritas.”

So I called my friend and we decided to go check it out.   I’ll start off by saying it’s not the cheapest Mexican around.  I knew that beforehand; I checked the menu online and was well aware that I wouldn’t be getting out of there for less than $20 if I ate.  We sat at the bar and ordered drinks.  The menu we were handed inside didn’t have all the items that the online menu listed (it must rotate a little) but I was soon over that disappointment when I found the Margarita Fresca.  Unlike a lot of margaritas made with syrup and “fake” stuff, this was made with fresh fruit puree (strawberry, but the fruits rotate too).

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We had chips and salsa ($4) and guacamole, and then being slightly full on chips ordered light appetizers of taquitos and a quesadilla.  Both were whopping portions and we couldn’t finish either, but that’s good to know for next time!

After trying to think for some time about what used to be in the large spot HECHO now occupies, we finally asked our bartender.  It replaced Carmelita’s – the vegan joint.  I guess that’s one point for meat-eaters, but there’s still a few veggie options on Greenwood Ave.

Definitely recommending this place, and I’ll be going back.

 

 

6th Annual Party in Greenwood Park: August 16th

Mark your calendar for the 6th Annual Party in Greenwood Park, on August 16th from 11am to 2pm.    Kids will get to enjoy a Pop-up Adventure Playland, and adults can feast on the vegan food truck “No Bones About It.”

And for everyone?  The famous and talented Bubble Man will perform at 11am.

Greenwood Park is located on 87th Street between Fremont and Evanston Avenues.  The event is free, but there is a suggested donation of $2 to $5 per child.

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Green Lake Real Estate ~ The Continued Frustration of Buyers

Every now and then, I provide stats on the local real estate market.  I moved from Green Lake to Maple Leaf last year, but Green Lake is still a big neighborhood of focus for many of my clients.  I can’t blame them, it’s a fantastic place to live and just keeps getting better (yay second PCC!).  Here’s a look at where things are at for June – keep in mind this is obeying the street borders that most people commonly recognize as “Green Lake” and not the outskirts that some try to sneak in.  We stay within the outline of Aurora Ave and I-5 to the west and east, and N 85th Street south to 50th.

Stats and Facts

In June, there were 10 residential homes that closed in Green Lake (and 5 condos, but we’ll exclude them from this data).  The lowest price home sold at $452,000 and the highest at $1,125,000, with an average price per foot in the area of $332.58.    On average, a home sold for 104.3% of asking price – but the biggest difference was one home that sold for 116.7% above asking price.  The average time a home spent on the market was 7 days.

So with all our complaining about bidding wars, is this much different than last year?  Not really, although competition might be tighter.  In June of 2013, there were 19 residential homes that closed – almost twice as many – BUT, the average time on market was still only 10 days, and the average home sold for 103.15% of it’s asking price.

Of course, if we look back at June 2012, we see a little more normalcy.  The average time a home spent on that market back then was 20 days, and the average home sold for 100.08% of it’s asking price – so most homes sold for exactly what they are listed at.

Looking Outside the Box

Feeling the frustration?  Join the club.  Many buyers are upping their game, and some are stepping out and waiting until things get a little less competitive.  Others, like me, looked outside of the most desirable neighborhoods:  In Maple Leaf, there were 7 homes that closed in June 2014.  They ranged in price from $360,000 to $545,000 and the average price per foot was just $299.45.  That means that on average, a 1500 square foot home that would cost close to $500,000 in Green Lake would only be about $450,000 a few blocks north.

Upping Your Game

If you’re determined to keep trying in the most desirable areas of Green Lake, Wallingford, Fremont, Phinney Ridge and Ballard, you’ll need to up your game and be prepared to maybe take on less square footage than you originally wanted or something that potentially needs work instead of a newly updated home.  Preapproved for $600,000?  You should be looking at homes in the $500,000-$550,000 range so that you have room to over-bid.   Many buyers these days are waiving contingencies, making their earnest money deposits non-refundable, and waiving appraisals.  If you’re going to do something like that, you must make sure you have the cash reserves to make up a difference in price, should one occur.

Happy hunting!

MUSIC REVIEW: ‘BELIEVE’ in Kris Orlowski

This is my first (hopefully of many) music review posts.  I should start off by saying I am in no way qualified to judge music as there is not a talented bone in my body, but on that note I think that actually puts me on par with most other people out there reviewing music.  Because really, it’s all personal taste anyway right?

Local artist Kris Orlowski recently released his new album “Believer”  on April 15th, 2014.  It took me a few busy weeks of work before I had the chance to really sit and listen to it, but I’m thoroughly impressed with this rock/pop mix now that it’s been playing on repeat for the last week.

Orlowski somehow manages to blend clear pronunciation with an attractive drawl as he performs, making lyrics roll off his tongue in one fluid motion.  On top of that, this is the first album that has more of that full rock band sound rather than The Passenger String Quartet accompaniment that we’ve gotten used to over the past couple years.   The band (Greg Garcia, Mark Isakson, Torry Anderson, Tyler Carroll and Jonathan Warman) provide a solid backdrop to a good mix of uptempo and softer songs that sound just as good blasted from a car stereo as they do playing quietly in an office.

More importantly, this album keeps mainly in line with a Seattle music trend right now of inspirational lyrics that aim to change attitudes and bring about action (think Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and many of the fantastic positive-attitude songs of Allen Stone).  With words like “Stand tall, I’m a believer,” from the title track, you leave the album feeling pushed to do a little more with your day.

Link to the ‘Believer’ music video here