Passport to Romance

Photo: Arunas Naujokas

So you just finished reading your most recent romance novel, or maybe even considering writing one yourself. Wouldn’t be great to chat with published romance authors, pick up free books, a ton of swag, enter a raffle, effuse with fellow readers, and buy a swill drink at a cash bar? Passport to Romance at the Westin Hotel Bellevue this weekend just might be your ticket to bliss.

The Greater Seattle Romance Writers of America (GSRWA) are hosting this free reader appreciation event/celebration from 6-8 pm on this coming Saturday, October 14th . This is part of the larger Emerald City Writers’ Conference taking place October 13-15th, which offers informative classes for aspiring or established romance authors. Although it was closed, conference registration has now been slightly extended, and is on a case-by-case basis. So if interested in improving your writing chops, it might be worth asking.

The first 100 attendees to the Passport to Romance (Facebook pagereceive free swag bags, and authors will be at the event with their own swag, including books. Arriving early also has another advantage: a cash bar will be set up outside the room around 5 pm. Fun, romantic gift baskets will be raffled off, with tickets starting at $1. A Writers’ Lounge will be set up where you can chat with other romance readers/writers and exchange items, if so inclined. A book cover contest was previously held by GSRWA in which readers could vote, and the winner will be announced Saturday night. And, if all this isn’t enough to entice you, at least three male models who have posed for book covers will be there to meet & greet you. Potentially wearing a Highland kilt.

It’s been suggested to park in Lincoln Square (the Westin’s parking lot) or Bellevue Square during those 2 hours, and should be free. Bring a bag or backpack to carry all those goodies in. As Carmen Cook, 2016 GSRWA President, mentioned about past Passports to Romance: “Aside from meeting your favorite authors, the camraderie of being with a hundred+ like-minded readers…it’s a huge, fun party.”

Photo: Clem Onojeghuo

Westin Hotel Bellevue
600 Bellevue Way NE
Bellevue, Washington
(425) 638-1000

Bellevue Festival of Arts- 33 Years Strong and It Keeps Getting Better

 

The Bellevue Festival of Arts, lauded by many as the East Sides’ premier art festival, has been a big part of Bellevue’s ever-growing arts scene, the incredible Bellevue Arts Weekend and the community at large since back in 1984. Now, 33 years later, the festival is poised to have its best year yet.

It all began when a group of artists decided the traditional route of the for-profit fine arts fair was not for them. Instead, they wanted to create an event with a stronger sense of community and a culture of celebrating creativity and the spirit of the arts, with less focus on financial gain. What started as the dream of a small group of artists has now been a favorite annual event of East-siders for 33 years, an event that artists are excited to be a part of, a trailblazer for the art fair scene and a wonderful addition to the community.

Formerly known as the Craft Cooperative of the Northwest (CCNW), the BFoA has grown steadily over the years to include not only local artists, but artists from across the U.S and beyond. The award-winning, carefully curated show features art works of various mediums in a unique venue that marries the beauty of Pacific Northwest nature with an interesting and welcoming urban-esque vibe. All that in an open-air format with tree lined paths leading you from stunning piece to stunning piece.

Always keeping their “by artists, for artists” motto and love of community at heart, attendees of the BFoA are invited to view and purchase the available art works as well as directly meet the talent that created it. The lineup for this year’s event includes, as each year does, an amazing group of artists, including acclaimed local talents Michelle Aitken, Justin Hillgrove, Bob Wilfong, Francisco Bautista, Sharrey Doré, Gunter Reimnitz, Pepe Moscoso, Kate Larsson, Ashmita Gulati, David Lutrick, Juli Adams and more.

Attendees are also encouraged to make it a family affair with a fabulous new part of the BFoA- Aubrey’s Art Corner, where kinds of all ages (and their parents!) are encouraged to create their very own masterpieces! Aubrey’s Art Corner encourages imagination, joy and creativity, in the spirit of its late namesake, artist and dear friend of the BFoA, Aubrey Morgan who believed that “Inspiration is the most organic thing our minds can grow”. Pratt Fine Art Center will be at Aubrey’s Art Corner on Friday (July 28th) from 10 AM to 2 PM.

Friday at the festival will also feature representatives from the Bellevue Farmers Market in the food court offering a ‘taste of the season’, while Saturday offers a taste of Tibetan culture with a live performance of traditional Tibetan dances from the young dancers of the Tibetan Language & Culture Class at the Tibetan Association of Washington, beginning at noon.

With so much to do, you’re bound to get hungry- so it’s a good thing that the BFoA features a fabulous and diverse food court! Enjoy a wide variety of cuisine available ranging from classic fair favorites like elephant ears, corn dogs, gyros, snow cones and more to unique options like lotus wraps, dim sum and a Nepalese Thali plate. YUM! Bonus- the seating area of the food court is shaded, so you can enjoy your tasty treats AND beat the heat. That’s a winning combination!

Live music is also on deck for the festival with planned performances from some well-known and beloved local groups. Enjoy classical melodies from the Seattle Philharmonic Cello Choir, Indian/Afro-Cuban tunes from local group Anjuman, a performance from local non-profits organization Musicworks NW’s youth band, and more!

Truly offering something for everyone, the Bellevue Festival of Arts remains one of the favorite and most unique art fairs around, for good reason. With so much to do, see, hear and taste, it’s still easy to see that the true spirit of the festival is and always will be the community around it. This is demonstrated in their yearly commitment to partner with charities on the local or global level and donate the BFoA proceeds to their cause. This year’s charitable contributions and community partners include Teen Feed, L’Arche Noah Sealth of Seattle, American Indian College Fund, CERF-Craft Emergency Relief Fund, Education at Elevation, and more.

The Bellevue Festival of Arts is truly a standout part of Bellevue Arts Weekend and a celebration of the rich artistic culture in Bellevue and across the Pacific Northwest. It’s a must for every Eastside art lover and a great way to spend a weekend in July!

BFoA is a part of Bellevue Arts Weekend which also includes the BAM ARTSfair presented by the Bellevue Arts Museum, Bellevue 6th Street Fair and much more.

 

Bellevue Arts Weekend

Bellevue Festival of Arts:

When:  Friday July 28-Sunday 30, 2017

Where: NE 8th & Bellevue Way, across from Bellevue Square

Hours: Fri and Sat, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m., Sun, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Price: FREE

BAM ARTSfair:

When: Friday, July 28, Saturday 29, & Sunday 30, 2017

Where: Bellevue Square and Bellevue Arts Museum

Hours: Friday & Saturday: 9:30am – 9:30pm, Sunday: 10am – 6pm

Price: FREE

Bellevue 6th Street Fair:

When: Friday, July 28, Saturday, July 29, Sunday, July 30

Where: NE 6th Street and 106th Avenue NE, Downtown Bellevue

Hours: Friday and Saturday 10am-8pm, Sunday 10am-6pm

Price: Free

Dress in your best fur-inery for Tuxes and Tails 2017!

Animal lovers, prepare yourselves for a glamorous night of elegant evening wear and furry friends at The Seattle Humane Society’s Annual Tuxes and Tails Gala!

Each year, Seattle Humane puts together a fabulous evening of fun and fund raising for the animals in need of homes at Seattle Humane. This annual event features a wonderful silent and live auction, delicious sit-own dinner and a star-studded runway show featuring celebrities and adorable, adoptable pets from Seattle Humane.

Tuxes and Tails brings together over 1,000 guests each spring for a lovey night devoted to helping the animals cared for at Seattle Humane. This wonderful event is made possible by over 200 hundred hard working and dedicated volunteers and the sponsorship of generous companies like Xtreme Consulting Group, Delta Airlines, Mud Bay and many more.

This year’s event is slated for Saturday May 13th and is looking to be one of the best yet, with opportunities to meet the Seattle Seahawks Michael Bennet, bid on exclusive items donated by many generous businesses and members of the community and enjoy an exquisite four-course meal while watching pretty people and pets work the runway at the ever-popular Celeb & Pet Runway Show.

Tickets have just become available and there are many options for you to be a part of this memorable night.  From the Seattle Humane website:

“General Event Tickets
Includes a four-course meal, silent and live auctions, and the popular celeb & pet runway show. Top Dog and Circle of Gold tables and tickets feature prime seating near all the action! Click here for tickets

General Tickets: $250
General Table of 10: $2,500

‘Tinis & Tails Cocktail Reception
These tickets include the silent auction and pre-dinner festivities only. 

Tickets: $125

Click here for tickets

Event tickets and tables go up April 1. All proceeds benefit the pets in our care. 

Special opportunity for add-on experience!

Meet Seahawk Michael Bennett at Tuxes & Tails for a special meet and greet. This unique experience includes:

  • Photo with Michael Bennett
  • Personalized autographed football
  • Access to private lounge for two with open bar between 4:30 – 6:30 p.m.

Limited availability. Tickets are $500*.

*This experience is available only as an add-on with the purchase of ‘Tinis & Tails, general event, Top Dog, or Circle of Gold tables and tickets.” 

 

Not able to join the festivities on May 13th? You can still be involved! Seattle Humane is still accepting sponsors and volunteers to be a part of this charitable extravaganza. Click here for more details on becoming a sponsor or volunteer. You can also be involved by donating items (or experiences) to be auctioned off, with proceeds going to benefit the animals.

 

The people at Seattle Humane work hard all year long to help animals in need, and to help you find your new four-legged friend. Tuxes and Tails is your chance to be a part of all the remarkable and compassionate work done by Seattle Humane, and to have a great time doing it.

 

Get your tickets or get involved now and be part of this magical event and feel good doing something good for our fur-iends in need!

 

 

Seattle Rents Rise, But East Side Is Pricier

It’s not a news flash that the real estate scene in Seattle has exploded in recent years. The Emerald City has gone from a town most people outside the state only associated with coffee and flannel, to the tech capital of the US (save for our friends in Silicon Valley). As home to some of the biggest tech names in the world and a booming job market to match, it’s fair to say there’s might not be enough housing to meet demand. Or, at least to meet demand AND your budget.

High rises, apartment buildings and condos are going up all over the city, and soon, our beloved skyline will be dotted with more and more buildings and towers, making the Seattle of just 10 years-ago look almost unfamiliar.

Seattle has recently made headlines as one of the most expensive places to live, get this, in the world. That’s right, recent data has placed Seattle’s rent rates at 5th highest in the nation and, supposedly 9th highest in the world! However, San Francisco and New York still dwarf us, tying for number one most expensive, world-wide.

Those of us who are Seattle Natives know that the average rental rate in Seattle has increased fairly dramatically in the last few years, but it’s interesting to note that, while Seattle’s rents have been on the rise, they don’t quite top the list of highest rents in the state.

According to recent data from Apartment List, Seattle ranks at number 5 in the state for highest rents, with the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment at about $1,650.

Surprisingly, Mercer Island tops the list of cities in Washington for highest rents. A one-bedroom on Mercer Island goes for an average of a whopping $1,890 per month. No one said Island living was cheap, I suppose.

Filling in the gaps between number 1 and number 5 on the list are Bellevue at number 2 with an average of $1,860 per month for a one-bedroom (not a whole lot lower than their neighboring Island), Redmond at number 3 with an average of about $1,690 monthly rent for a one bedroom and Kirkland at number 4 with an average monthly rent of $1,660 for a one-bedroom.

Seattle and the Eastside are not the only places in Washington with rising rent rates. Tacoma tops the list nation-wide for fastest growing rent with a year-over-year growth rate of 7.7 percent. Seattle comes close, but not close enough to that figure with year-over-year rental rate growth at 5.3 percent.

Staggering growth aside, Tacoma is still a bargain in the rental market compared to Seattle, with a one-bedroom in Tacoma going for an average of $1,000 per month. For those of you keeping score, that’s a savings of $650 compared to Seattle.

But, proving that some things really don’t change, the cheapest places to live in the Evergreen State are still East of the Cascade Mountains. You can get a one-bedroom for only $600 per month in Walla Walla and it’s not much pricier in the State’s second largest city, Spokane, at around $630 per month.

What a difference a mountain range makes…

Nordstrom Rack Heads To Bellevue


Just in time for the holidays, we are gifted with the joyous news that Bellevue will be getting it’s very own Nordstrom Rack!

That’s right East-Siders, no more need to leave the limits of our biggest fine city to get Nordies quality at great prices. As of Fall 2017, all bargain-hunting Bellevueites will have affordable luxury just steps away, as part of the impending Lincoln Square expansion.

Lincoln Square is a part of The Bellevue Collection which also includes Bellevue Square and Bellevue Place. The expansion of Lincoln Square will add to what is already being called “The Bellevue Boom” of rapid growth in the city. The expansion will add 1.5 million square feet of restaurants, retail, office space, a 244-room W Hotel and 218 apartments, and of course, the new Nordies Rack.

Nordstrom is not only one of Seattle’s favorite department stores but also one of its oldest homegrown shopping institutions. Originally founded as a shoe store in 1901 by John W. Nordstrom and Carl F. Wallin, the chain soon expanded its wares to include clothing, accessories and eventually high end home goods. Today, Nordstrom’s has 349 stores across 40 states (not counting Canada!) of which, 215 are Nordstrom Rack stores.

Bellevue fashionistas will gladly welcome the addition of another Rack location when it opens next year, just in time for the Christmas rush!bags

Amazon (Possibly) Journeys Eastward

Bellevue Skyline and Lake Washington

Bellevue Skyline and Lake Washington

 

By now, everyone in Downtown Seattle has seen the construction of Amazons’ new headquarters in the South Lake Union neighborhood. With 11 buildings and interesting architecture to boot, it would be hard to miss. But the local tech powerhouse is thinking bigger and it seems, they’re thinking Bellevue may be in their future.

Rumor has it that Amazon has recently finalized negotiations and leased a whopping 354,000 square feet in the heart of Downtown Bellevue at the brand-spanking-new 425 Centre.

 

Amazon's new SLU HQ

Amazon’s new SLU HQ

Set at the corner of NE 4th St and 106th Ave NE, the 425 Centre makes a great location for a tech company that has broken from tech tradition by settling in heavily urban areas before. It seems Amazonia, as it is fondly referred to, and its inhabitants prefer being in the midst of the city’s hustle and bustle than the more remote areas other tech giants tend to call home.

 

While Amazon has not officially announced anything regarding the potential journey Eastward, this is not the first bout of rumors surrounding Bellevue and tech giants. Just a few months ago there was much talk of Apple possibly moving into (would you believe it) the 425 Centre.

 

425 Centre

425 Centre

Projects like the 425 Centre have been great for boosting Bellevue and its reputation. While often viewed as a (albeit, very large) suburb of Seattle, over the course of the last several years, it has grown considerably and undergone a rather impressive face-lift. Additions like renovations to Bellevue Square, Lincoln Square and The Bravern have added considerable appeal to the city. Appeal which has not gone unnoticed by businesses and residents alike.  Much like it’s sister city across the lake, Bellevue has become home to a laundry list of high end retailers, restaurants and even cooperate mammoths such as T-Mobile (HQ), Expedia (HQ) and Microsoft, giving her a run for her money.

All in all, Amazon would (and likely will) make a fabulous addition to the Eastside. Bringing with it the fun, friendly and environmentally conscious attitude that Amazon prides itself on, as well as plenty of opportunity, both for jobs and for the city to receive a wealth of vibrant new residents.

Not to mention, Bellevue was Amazons’ very first home, when it was merely the brain child of it’s founder, Jeff Bezos. So, perhaps this would be more homecoming than journey.

Mercer Island’s Inaugural Pumpkin Walk Coming in October

127231-glowing-pumpkinsPack up your lil’ pumpkins and join the community for a fun, festive and family friendly Pumpkin Walk! This event is new to the Island and tons of festive fall fun for families of all ages, with no scary monsters spooking your little ones.

Head down to Mercer Island’s Pioneer Park on October 22nd from 6-8 p.m. and you will find a gorgeous, glowing parade of carved pumpkins framing the northwest edge of the trail.

You’ll start your stroll on the trail across from Starbucks, near the South Fire Station, with legions of luminous pumpkins along the trail, adjacent to 84th Avenue Southeast.
This fabulous addition to the Island community’s Halloween festivities will join other Island favorites such as the Mercer Island Preschool Association Halloween party and the Monster Dash.

Pioneer Park makes the perfect setting for this event, with leaves changing color and strewn about the ground, not to mention that crisp autumnal chill in the air.jacktrail

Mercer Island’s first ever Pumpkin Walk is a unique event  and sure to become a local favorite, but they need your help! Organizers will be accepting carved pumpkins to add to the trail on the day of (Oct. 22nd) at the corner of 84th Avenue Southeast and Southeast 68th Street, between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. No candles are needed as they will provide them.

We encourage you to round up your kiddies and their friends, or just your own grown-up friends (pumpkin-tinis, anyone?) for a super fun pumpkin carving party to make your own special contributions to the trail, then join the walk and see where yours are displayed, along with all the other creative ideas put forth by your neighbors!

Let’s come together this October and make this wonderful new event an annual East side tradition, and help it grow over time. The more pumpkins and people, the more fun we’ll all have!

Please remember to dress appropriately for the weather, as this event is outdoors. Halloween costumes are optional.  fallkitty

520 Closure

520 Bride will be closed from Friday February 24th at 11pm through Monday February 27th at 5am.  When crews close 520 they close both directions of the SR 520 floating bridge and highway and all ramps between Montlake Boulevard and I-405.  Crews will also close the Bellevue Way Northeast overpass from 11 p.m. Friday night through 5 p.m. Saturday while crews set girders.  When crews close the highway, SR 520 remains open between Montlake Boulevard and I-5. In Bellevue, the 108th Avenue Northeast on-ramp to eastbound SR 520 remains open and in Seattle, the Montlake Boulevard ramps from eastbound SR 520 and to westbound SR 520 remain open.  All ramps and the mainline are required to reopen by 5 a.m. Monday following weekend closures.  Please use alternative routes or delay your trip to Seattle or Eastside if possible.

Got Your “Good to Go” Pass Yet? – 520 Toll Starts

Less than 48 hours until the tolling begins on 520 Bridge.  The tolling starts at 5am on Thursday, December 29th 2001 and those without the “Good to Go” pass will be charged an $1.50 per trip.  Cameras on the bridge will take photos of license plates and they will send the bill to the registered owner of the vehicle.  To get your “Good to Go” pass you can go to Fred Meyer, Safeway, QFC or Costco and then activate it online or call the customer service center.  There are 5 different passes you can choose from.  No tolls will be collected between the hours of 11pm and 5am daily.

Bellevue Botanical Gardens – Winter Wonderland

The Pond

From Now until December 31st go view the Bellevue Botanical Gardens where over a half million lights are used to transform the Bellevue Botanical Gardens into a truely magical place.  Hundreds of volunteers from all over the area have been busy making new creations for this year.  New this year is the theme “Snap d’ Dragon” who will join over 30 “critters” inlcuding Charlotte in her web and Willie the slug.  My favorite is the gorgeous pond and border display on the main lawn (picture above).  Over 150,000 people enjoy the amazing Bellevue Botanical Gardens in the month of December.

Hours are from 5:00pm – 10:00 and 9:30 is the lastest they will allow you to enter. 
Cost is $5 per person and children under the age of 10 are free and do not need a ticket. 
Please click here to buy your ticket in advance to assure entry.
This truely is magical place and it will really get you in the Holiday Spirit