Amazing benefits of walking with a purpose

Amazing benefits of walking with a purpose

There are runners around where I live.  They run, and run, and run, making me want to start running with them.  Some are old and some are young, but all look good running.   I am not a runner, though I have tried it for about a month.  I had the runner’s high one time.  It sure made me feel good for about twenty minutes.

I ran the next day, the runner’s high didn’t hit me the same way.  Attempting again, I was almost out of breath.  I didn’t stick to running.  However, I do like to go for hikes and walks.

Places I like to hike in Washington

Places I like to hike in Washington

I read that there are many benefits to walking but you have to figure out why walking is good for you.  Walking is a commitment from your busy scedule   I enjoy walking for walking sake.  Other times, I walk beacause I look forward to my dessert.   After my sugar challenge, I find desserts to be more of a prize of pure enjoyment than eating for the sake of just eating.

Walking to get ideas from your backyard

Walking does not give me a walker’s high, it just gives me a clear view of the area and sometimes it allows me to clear my mind.  Occasionally, I like to take a look at the walking app step count. The app gives me a good sense of whether I have been walking slacker or not.
One of the amazing benefits of walking with a purpose

One of the amazing benefits of walking with a purpose

Benefits of walking around your neighborhood

Some time ago, I was casually walking and lo and behold I found a nice cat just napping away.  I  wanted to go snuggle the cat. However, I didn’t think the cat wanted any company .  He or she, let’s just say for the purpose of this blog, the cat was a he.  The sweet looking cat just wanted to be left alone bathing in the glorious sun.

 He looked too adorable.  I thought I would just snap a quick picture of him sun bathing.  I didn”t think he even heard the sound of the camera.  This motivated me to finish my walk and not go grab a dessert but go home and take a nap.
Visiting Bellevue Botanical Garden

Visiting Bellevue Botanical Garden

Living in the Pacific Northwest, I can tell you that almost 8 months of the year it rains here. A rumor says the locals just say that to drive away tourists. That is funny.  Alright it doesn’t rain every single day for straight eight months but just about every week from October to June, there are drops and drops from the sky.  Many days I don’t mind it at all. This year, we have had a incredibly sunny days in October.

Now that I am almost finished with my novel one light year road trip, which would be a trilogy I wanted to reward myself with a new vista.

I took the opportunity to go see Bellevue Botanical Garden.  If you are a new visitor, Bellevue is a city across the water from Seattle. It sits east of Seattle. My friends had told me about the garden, but there are so many places in Western Washington to go to and places to go back to.  It never occurred to me to just go and visit until I started seeing the autumn trees changing.  I couldn’t’ get enough of seeing the autumn colors and I thought I would try out a new place.

The Northwest zen travel team, which would be the music man and the travel researcher took off to the garden to see what was special about the garden.

In the Bellevue Botanical Garden

Map of the Bellevue Botanical Garden

Map of the Bellevue Botanical Garden

The first part of the garden had beautiful blooms. Right next to the gift shop, beautiful white flowers sprayed their scent in the air.  It held the look of a white magnolia except the yellow was missing in the middle.   The aroma gave off that of a mild Gardenia.

The garden used a numbering system for your self guided tour.  Usually, I could find names of flowers or plants stuck on the ground, but not here.

Instead they had what they call scan and tap technology.  I tapped my phone and nothing scanned on my phone. I figured I needed an App.  No posted sign as of which App.

Moving along to self guide tour number three and four, I was seeing the same scanner. I couldn’t continue until I knew what some of the unique plants were. After I sought help, I downloaded the App called the QR Scanner.

After the installion of the App, I took the phone and scanned the funny lines on the post.

Tap and Scan needs QR App,visiting the Bellevue Botanical Garden

Tap and Scan needs QR App, visiting the Bellevue Botanical Garden

When the App read the code, a bleep sound blasted, like you are in the checkout at the grocery store.

Immediately after the sound, my phone screen popped with a number of labeled images similar to the flower that I was viewing.  Some of the images on the App appeared with similiar pictures of the flowers in the garden which didn’t help me identify the flower.

This one plant with a red flower was called dinosaur food plant.

The lay out of the garden

The landscape of the garden is divided into Spring Courtyard, Rock garden, Perrineal Border,  Waterwise gaden, Yao garden, and many more. The walkaway composed of gravel, cement and mini slopes.

Locations of the varied gardens

You will hear the city noises of cars passing by.

As we walked through the garden, more unique and colorful plants sprung its leaves, berries, or flowers. The garden didn’t house many tall trees but they did have a few healthy pine trees that were nicely planted along the path. Right in the middle they had a canopy of Bosnia maple in the Fuchsia Garden. It looked like those trees were trained to bend.  The autumn leaves fell as soon a breeze blew  Burning bushes framed the area nicely.

Down further a lantern stood which made it pretty to photograph. Passing through the doors were more trees.

My favorite part of the garden

A Tateuchi Viewing Pavillion was a nice touch in the Yao garden.  Inspiration for the Yao Garden comes from both Japan and from Northwest plants to create form and function.

Bellevue Botanical Garden Tateuchi Viewing Pavillion

Bellevue Botanical Garden Tateuchi Viewing Pavillion

A small waterfall cascaded down multiple levels. Down the same path we saw a pileated woodpecker doing what it does best.  Near me on the ground was a squirrel exploring like us.

The pileated woodpecker

The pileated woodpecker

And then walking up the small path led us to my favorite scene.  Bunch of orange and red maple leaves glowed under the sunset.

Maple trees basking the evening sun

Maple trees basking the evening sun

People were carrying their professional cameras. There were a couple of people holding a reflector right at the turning leaf  maple the garden.

We had to wait to walk through the path.  The foilage turning is definitely a spot for testing out your camera.We walked to another part of the garden while they finished shooting pictures.

The music man said, “Look, we found a hobbit door.”

We knocked on the small door.

The music man was hoping that Bilbo Baggins would open the door.

The door remained shut tight.  Sorry music man, he is on another adventure.

Is that a Hobbit house inside the Bellevue Botanical Garden?

Is that a Hobbit house inside the Bellevue Botanical Garden?

We went back to the maple trees and shot a few pictures, till closing time.  We covered most of the garden, except for a few areas.

Overall, the design of the garden provided a zen feeling.  I would consider Bellevue Botanical Garden to be a great photography zone in the near by Seattle area.

Tidbits:

They have tons of parking around the garden. There were only two spots left when we pulled up in our car.

Expect on sunny weekends, parking would be a problem, so schedule your trip, accordingly.

Admission to the garden is free.  The garden has a donation slot.

I read on one of their posts that they decorate the garden for Christmas known as Garden d’ Lights, for that tickets need to purchased.

This is must do activity for locals and first time visitors if you are in the Seattle/Bellevue area.

If you would like to see addiional pictures and signs at the time of our visit:

one of the trails in the garden

one of the trails in the garden

How to make mint tea from fresh leaves?

How to make mint tea from fresh leaves?

Got fresh mint leaves?

There is a beekeeper and a gardener who works near us.  He and his wife planted vegetables this past summer.  I yearned for what was inside their garden–– chives, Italian parsley,voluptious tomatoes, arugula. He and his wife gave me good ideas on how to grow my garden outside.  I did well with his instructions growing tomatoes.  I also grew cilantro and basil.  Once in a while my friend and I like to hang out at his “garden center.”  He and his wife had mint growing around their small beautiful garden.

I love the smell of fresh mint leaves.  His wife told me that they love to make mint tea with the fresh leaves, especially in the winter.

That sounded good to me when she said that.  Since, then I been wanting to grow my own mint.

The gardener told me to wait till fall and he would give us some of his off shots  from his garden.  Yesterday he plucked tons of mint from the ground  and left it on our front chair.

When I woke up this morning, I was wondering what was that pile of roots with green ends doing sitting on my outside chair?

“The gardener left it for us to plant.”

I heard mint is an easy plant to grow in the Pacific Northwest except don’t plant it on the ground unless you want mint sprouting all over your yard.  That gave me the urge to plant this in my outdoor pot garden.

After sorting through the hardy roots of the plants, I grabbed a pot and planted a few mints outside.  However, I thought about all those cold and rainy winter days when I might not want to go outside at the darkness of 4 pm on a Saturday to pull off leaves from the mint plant.  That scenario––I repeat for those darky and non stop rainy days in the Pacific Northwest made me wanted to grow indoor herbs where I can just pull off the leaves from my kitchen area.

I placed the single stems in a clear glass and pulled off the unneeded leaves so that the roots can grow.  When the roots emerge, I will place next ot my basil.  The leaves I pulled off got dropped into cups to make mint tea.  There are few ways to make mint tea.  Here is the easiest way for me.

 Steps to make mint tea:

  • Get fresh mint leaves.
  • Wash them couple of times to remove any dirt and debris.

    Washed mint leaves, waiting to be plucked

    Washed mint leaves, waiting to be plucked

  • Place the washed leaves in a cup.

    Pluck those washed leaves and drop them in your favorite cup

    Pluck those washed leaves and drop them in your favorite cup

  • Boil water.
  • Pour hot water in the cup, but not boiling water.
  • Brew for five minutes.
  • You can see the color of water changing to a pale yellow and you should smell the aroma of the mint.

    How to make mint tea from fresh leaves? Tea steeping

    How to make mint tea from fresh leaves?

  • Enjoy, when cool enough to sip. My  mouth feels cool and refreshed. It is minty good.

Like alot of the other teas, mint tea is especially good after you had something sweet or by itself.  The fresh leaves in the cup makes me feel close to the plants that grew from the dirt.  I am sipping on my warm tea as I am writing.

Mint stems on the window sill enjoying the Pacific Northwest sun

Mint stems on the window sill enjoying the Pacific Northwest sun

Did you know that you can also make cold mint tea?  The cold version of mint I have had was Mojito, the spirit tea.   When summmer comes, my mint leaves would be full for warm and cool drinks.

 

 

 

Where to get donuts in Seattle for the first time visitor?

Where to get donuts in Seattle for the first time visitor?

Craving for Donuts

Where to get donuts in Seattle for the first time visitor?

Where to get donuts in Seattle for the first time visitor?

I  am writing a roadtrip novel,called One Light Year Road Trip.  Everytime I write about a character eating sweets, I have to take a break.  And because I have been seeing Hallooween cookies, candies, cream everywhere these past few days a strong crave for donuts hit my tongue.  After I had gone through a period of purging sugar, I don’t get a strong intense cravings like before.  However, the past couple of days, I was dreaming of donuts.  I grew up with donuts, fresh out of the shop.  My dad would get us a dozen for the family.   Everyone in my family had their preferences: the plain, the twist, chocolate filled, cream filled, and strawberry jelly filled. Oh, man, thinking of those sugar cakes, makes my mouth sweeter.  Those iced and glazed delights were served warm at 5 p.m on Saturdays.  When I think of those donuts, it’s really hard to resist them.
If you are new to Seattle, and you are craving donuts, these are good three places for donuts. Of course, there are more donut places here, but these are the three that I go back to satisfy a quick crave or when a celebration is in place.  I could categorize them several ways but this is the way I am going to do it.

Three places for donuts

  • Craving light and airy donut.  Krispy Kreme would be a good place. There are only three places, two in Seattle and one in Issaquah. They gotten pretty crafty with decorating their donuts for holidays.
  • If you are looking for dense and heavy donuts, Top Pot is a good stop.  When I have added walnuts on top of their donuts, sometimes that would sufficed me for lunch.  They are located all over Seattle and the outskirts of the city.
  • If you are a foodie and don’t mind spending money on morning desserts, then open your mouth and your wallet for a mini donut with all that.  There is a place called Lola located in downtown Seattle.  That is place to go when you are celebrating an event or if you are looking for a different kind of donut.  Though bit on the pricey side, they have good food.  Have brunch or breakfast if you want their speciality donuts with jelly and marcopone cheese.
By saying that, the music man and I, the research girl drove to Krispy Kreme after an errand.  When we walked in to Krispy Kreme, their donuts were cooling off on the belt.  At the display side, it was cute to see that they had the Halloween theme going on their donuts.
Fresh donuts in Seattle coming up

Fresh donuts in Seattle coming up

 

I choose what I craved: chocolate iced and plain glaze.  He chose the donuts with cream and sprinkles. My limit for donuts are two.  All my three donuts disappeared in under five minutes.  Those donuts went very good with my coffee. Speaking of road trips, a quick stop to a donut place would be definitely good road trip food when you are in the mood for a quick snack.
Tid bits:
If you are are hunting for donuts Downtown Seattle and Capitol Hill you would have to pay to park if you are driving.
For Lola, you might need reseravations if you are going there on the weekends or brunch.
What to do in autumn?

What to do in autumn?

Take a drive

If you are a new visitor or a local, and you are wondering what to do in autumn,this is a good time to take a drive through see autumn colors in your favorite neighborhood.

Today the music man and I went grocery shopping to grab some bread, milk, and eggs.  As soon as we drove by a pumpkin patch, I was reminded to get a pumpkin for Halloween. We stopped at the pumpkin patch. The chain link security fence was locked.  Since it was a small patch, I gather they probably will open on the weekend.

We decided to proceed to the grocery store. On our way, I just couldn’t believe, how many green trees were changing to autumn colors. I never had seen the trees rich in color like this. Maybe because on most of my drives in the fall, it was cloudy and sometimes sunless.  Or may because, I realize that I need to do do these fall drives in the autmn more often.  The weather today was sunny and splendid, all day.  I had to grab my camera and take a few photos of the drive to the grocery store.   We drove through alleys of autumn trees.   Leaves of green changed to burgundy, yellow, and orange colored leaves. It was like seeing a Christmas trees with fall lights.

There are plenty of areas where you could go see changing fall trees in Washington and near Seattle.

Capitol Hill

Issaquah

Lake City

Bellevue

I am happy to be seeing the fall leaves on these little drives.

Shop for a pumpkin to paint or carve

As soon as we got to the grocery store, there was sizeable pumpkins of various sizes sitting outside, and some on top of each other.  We looked through bright orange, white, and striped pumpkins, actually six or seven kinds. The pumpkin fever got to us.  We decided to go to another store, to look through pumpkins.

Both of the places we went had good selections.  Once we started looking at the pumpkins we were trying to decide to carve or paint. The music man preferred to carve, I wanted a small pumpkin to decorate.  Some of the pumpkins even came decorated.  I started looking at Pinterest for inspirations.  I think, this year, the prize goes to the paint job.

What to do in autumn? the image said "searching for the perfect pumpkin"

What to do in autumn? A thought from the image

 

 

Learning about salmon spawning in the autumn

Learning about salmon spawning in the autumn

Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery

I have always admired the epic journey of the Pacific salmon ever since I read about it as a teenager. I have eaten plenty of salmon and I have learned about salmon through out the years from both Seattleites and transplants, which gave me a deeper appreciation for them. Today Eric and I took a field trip to learn more about salmon spawing in the autumn at a salmon hatchery in Issaquah; known as Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, also know as FISH.

A lot of good information was provided in the tour. This is what we learned from the Docent, the educator, who provided the tour.

Tour hours for F.I.S.H Check their website for changes.

Tour hours for F.I.S.H Check their website for changes.

Main Points of the tour 

The hatchery started in the 1930s to restore salmon to the river.  At the time, the hatchery didnt’ have any fish because it was decimated by logging, mining, and coal.

They got the salmon from another river.

In the 1970s, they were going to close the hatchery, because it was expensive to run it. However, the people of Issaquah volunteered to run it for free, offering themselves as volunteers to keep it open.

Now, volunteers do most of the work.  If you want to volunteer, they are taking volunteers, now.

On our day of the vist, the water was muddy. Muddy water filled with silt this year, which is very bad for salmon.  The silt in the river covers the salmon eggs on the bottom of the river and suffocates the eggs. Its possible that few eggs if any hatch will this year due to the silt just past flowing down the creek.

Issaquah Creek

Issaquah Creek

The reason for the silt was because of recent logging and development.  The water no longer gets a chance to sink into the ground and instead flushes dirt into the river. There isn’t enough trees, grasses, bush or other vegetation on the surface of the ground to slow down the water to sink into the ground before entering the stream. Instead, it rushes over the surface and carries with dirt into the creek.

And because of the recent rain that stirred up more silt.

It is hard for salmon to swim through the fish ladder when the water is muddy.  The water irritates their eyes because they don’t have eyelids to protect them against the dirty water

A female salmon lays thousands of eggs.  Most eggs die or predators eat them.  Ducks, king fisher, raccoons herons (that must have been why we saw a heron hanging out on the roof, it smelled the salmon), and other fish are all considered predators.

Of those eggs that reach maturity and swims to the ocean, only a a few dozen make it back due to barriers and predators.

They let some of the salmon go upstream not all of them because the holding capacity of the river isn’t that great for all the salmon coming back.

salmon trying to jump the weir

salmon trying to jump the weir

The hatchery fertilizes the salmon themselves.

Before salmon are released from the hatchery, their adipose fin is removed.  This helps identify them as hatchery-raised fish.  When fisherman catches salmon, they are supposed to release any salmon that still have their adipose fin.  This helps protect the wild salmon population.  Removing the adipose fin does not affect the salmon’s ability to swim and is an easy way for them to mark the salmon as hatchery-raised.

They chop off all the tails of the dead salmon that they used to fertilize, after they get the eggs, and throw the dead salmon without tails in the river.  This is so that they can refertilize the river the dead salmon bodies.  It is also so that when the biologist counting the dead salmon in the river don’t count the dead salmon bodies in the hatchery.

There were questions about fish farms and wild salmon from the audience.

There was not much talk about fish farms other than they are not helpful for the wild salmon.

One of the audience members brought up the the recent release of Atlantic salmon around the Pacific Northwest.

The conversation continued that the Atlantic salmon is bad for the Pacific salmon gene pool.  Atlantic Salmon should not be in the Pacific Northwest.  Having Atlantic salmon fish farms threatens, the native wild salmon.  If they mate, they produce, sterile off springs.

The government says that you are free to catch as many Atlantic salmon in the Pacific Northwest.

The wild Pacific salmon is at a threatening low number which raised another question

What can a regular consumer do to help protect salmon?

One of the ladies in the group said, call you congressperson to fight for environmental protection.

Tid bits: you can schedule a tour during the week.  You are free to walk in during the weekends of the salmon spawning season, which is in autumn.  Check their website for updated times.

Tour hours for F.I.S.H

Tour hours for F.I.S.H

FISH accepts donation. There is a sign that says, “Feed Finley.”

Donation sign

Donation sign

Parking: we parked on the street.