Breakfast Anyone?

It seems writing a blog about Around Tacoma is much easier if you are actually out and about and Around Tacoma. You need to go to restaurants in Tacoma or museums in Tacoma; you know….places that don’t include your own living room. I know it has become obvious here but, I just don’t seem to be getting out much. Maybe it’s the cooler weather and shorter days, maybe it’s our woe-be-gone and well publicized economy affecting my wallet, more likely it’s that I’m just a home-body who likes to work from home and cook and enjoy the  quiet of my (mostly) germ free house.

Still, I managed to get out of the house long enough to enjoy breakfast at Shakabrah Java on 6th Ave last Friday. I’m glad I chose a Friday, because Shakabrah now has table service (in the “back” room) Friday-Sunday. Not that I’ve got a problem with ordering my food at the service counter but we’ve established my lack of Around Tacoma-ing lately so it was nice to sit and let someone else do the ordering for me.  

The food and coffee were, as usual, great. I had the “Tina”… a yummy breakfast sandwich of fresh eggs, cheese and bacon.  The touch of tomato and mayo make this a pleaser, for sure.  Tina and I need to talk, though. I think a sausage patty is a better choice for the meat. But then it would be a “Linnie” wouldn’t it? Hmmmm… ?

My only gripe with Shakabrah is the potatoes. Everyone knows I LOVE a potato, all shapes, sizes and preparation styles included. Shakabrah’s taste a little bitter to me and it over-powers the awesome spices and potatoey goodness. I tried them once again last week and still…

Potatoes aside, I keep going back to Shakabrah. The atmosphere and peeps are always enjoyable and it’s good food at reasonable prices. It is definitely a great Tacoma restaurant and my go to breakfast place. No wonder it was voted the “Best Breakfast in Tacoma” by Volcano Weekly readers… we know they really meant “Best Breakfast AROUND Tacoma”!

The Linnie Sapphire

This Ol’ House

There are many beautiful homes in and around Tacoma and some of my very favorites (and of course I may be a little biased) are in the North Slope Historic District.  As an owner of a really old home I have to keep reminding myself that with all the beauty and history, there is this one really big thing that often looms in the corners of every square inch of my property; it’s called MAINTENANCE.

Now, I’m not trying to scare anyone away from buying an older home because I am a serious lover of anything old…except milk.  I am, however, here to inform you of some things you may want to be aware of when you fall in love with something that is, well, how do I say it?  Okay, old.

Here are some things that I have found to happen to these awesomely charming homes or more specifically, a home built in 1905 that I knew I just had to have (like a pair of black patent leather pumps with red soles):

Settling:  Think of it like an old man with a cane who is slightly hunched over—it’s old, and it will possibly slope a little through time but its pillars are an amazing support.

Plumbing:  Again, think of it as an old man…yes, the pipes leak a little and may need to be replaced at some point but thank goodness there are replacement options.

Heating:  This one is interesting so think of it as having a huge trash bag full of dollar bills and then opening the bag on top of the Space Needle and watching that money float away in every direction.  If you are familiar with landmarks around Tacoma, then play the same scenario at Stadium Bowl.  Houses simply were not insulated well, so planning a budget for energy efficiency is a must and a heat pump will definitely pay for itself.

Windows:  Ah, the question that always arises with my clients—should we replace the windows?  Wood wrapped windows with the original ‘wavy’ glass are hard to come by and there are restoration companies around Tacoma that focus specifically on preserving these.  Now I may sound like a grandma but they just don’t make them like they used to so please try to save them…. and on a personal note, if you are on a historic register, you most likely are not able to take them out—and the window Nazis are everywhere.

Electrical:  Fact:  it will have to be replaced for insurance as well as safety reasons.  The old knob and tube, while fascinating to look at, will need to go.  Look at it this way, when the original system was put in, or even the ‘updated’ one from the 50’s, we didn’t have microwaves, TV’s in every room, massive stereo systems and stoves that could cook five turkeys, two chickens and a whole side of ribs.  If you can’t do it all at once, try a couple rooms at a time.

Paint:  I guess the best way to describe this is like having a manicure:  it takes constant maintenance to replace the chipped polish and sometimes just putting a new coat over the old coat may just make it worse. Oh, and make sure you do it at the right temperature and right time of year because it may dry wrong and we all know how that turns out on our nails….yikes.

I know this may seem like a lot, but if you truly love an old home, just be prepared to care for it and give it the attention it deserves.  Inside those old bones lies a lot of history, craftsmanship and memories.  And as far as mine is concerned and when all is said and done, I love this ol’ house.

Karen

Grocery shopping made cheaper!

Been to a great grocery store in Tacoma lately? We have a few. In general the “great” ones are the specialty stores like Metropolitan Market in the Proctor District and while I do love me some fabulous deli and bakery items you can’t really do any kind of serious, stock the pantry grocery shopping there.

I just did some serious grocery shopping and, long list in hand, I went to the WinCo Foods in South Tacoma. There’s been much debate about WinCo and the company’s entry into our market place. WinCo bills itself as employee owned and is non-Union.  While that fact has its own impact on how people feel about spending money at WinCo I have to say….I spend way LESS money there. The Wall of Values is a great place to be shocked and amazed by their pricing.  I can stand there, mouth open, reading the big signs and looking at the depth of their stock and think, “Well, I wasn’t going to get Spaghetti-Os but at 88 cents a can….who can resist?”

I never really like THE IDEA of going grocery shopping. I do however, LOVE grocery shopping while I’m doing it.  While I’m cruising those aisles and comparing prices and trying to resist the temptation to buy Easy Cheese, I am in my element.  I’ve been in most of the grocery stores around Tacoma and there are more than a few I would never consider stepping in again.  Some are dirty, some have rude or stupid employees and amazingly, some have those skinny aisles that will not, in any fathomable way, fit more than 1 cart (what?). WinCo isn’t one of those grocery stores and I am happy to spend my hard earned money there. And seriously, in real estate right now, it IS hard earned!

At an average savings of $1.00 per item (yes!!), I can easily save over $50 on a typical grocery shopping trip. That’s worth driving an extra few miles and bagging my own groceries, for sure. Sometimes it’s not worth the crowds and the packed aisles, which can be overwhelming.  But if you time it right, you can get in and out without bruised elbows or stepping in spilled coffee creamer (which can get really sticky between your toes, if you are wearing new, neon green flip-flops… just sayin’)

I still pop over to Fred Meyer for last minute kind of grocery shopping but WinCo has definitely added value to our shopping options in Tacoma. Plus, the Easy Cheese is way too affordable to pass up!

The Linnie Sapphire

Around MY Tacoma

Around Tacoma isn’t a blog about COOKING. I believe there are plenty of foodie blogs out there, so that’s a good thing. Still…. I really want to share with you one of my latest cooking adventures. Mostly because it turned out perfectly, but also because I LOVE the new cooking gadget I got to use!
I admit, the gadget is not mine. It was a gift for a friend and we used it together and I did LOVE it and now I covet it…..daily!
Check out… The STUFZ ULTIMATE Stuffed Burger System which was doubtfully purchased on the internet (I didn’t find too many stuffed burger systems around Tacoma) at www.stufz.net. I say doubtfully because, while I was interested in the ultimate outcome of the gadget (I’m getting to that) it looked a bit, well, cheap. However, I placed my trust in the bright red plastic glory of it!

I chose to fill my very first experimental STUFZ burger (say the “Z” like you mean it!) with a mish mash of cream cheese, mild green chiles, spices…not too HOT, and some pepper jack cheese. Getting the shape of the pocket where the stuffing goes was the only thing that wasn’t straight forward.  That, my friends, is because we were skimping on the meat.

This is one BIG burger!! Those stuffed monsters came off the grill looking like red meat masterpieces and were quickly G.O.N.E! This is one great gadget and my works of art certainly made dinner in Tacoma a fabulous thing. I can not wait for the next one. What should I put in it???

The Linnie Sapphire

Ever Wonder…. WHAT’S HAPPENING IN TACOMA??

Ok, ok! I know you’re used to snappy posts about what we’ve been up to Around Tacoma but it occurred to me recently… if I didn’t already LOVE Tacoma and all the cool stuff we find to do around here, what then?  So I went looking and boy, did I find plenty!  Right here on the internet!

I know, you’re saying “Naw, you really found information on the internet?”. Really, I did!

Besides all of the fantastic blogs published by the many opinionated Tacomans out there, I found a plethora (cool, I got to use that word in a sentence) of super stuff about our city and all around Pierce County.

I will never have to say “Hmmm… what is there to do this weekend?” again and neither will you! Here are just a few links to local pages….

http://www.traveltacoma.com/

http://www.tacomadome.org/

http://www.hellotacoma.com/

http://www.tacomachamber.org/

http://www.co.pierce.wa.us/pc/abtus/ourorg/parks/parks.htm

http://www.tacomascene.com/event.html

http://www.metroparkstacoma.org/

Have Fun Around Tacoma – The Linnie Sapphire

Flowers and Cherries and Baked Breads, Oh My!

I love the farmers’ markets around Tacoma, especially the downtown Broadway Market on Thursdays.  I really don’t need a reason to go other than the thrill of people watching and saying “hi” to friends but for those of you who keep putting off that visit, perhaps saving it for ‘next week’, here is a list of top ten reasons to attend this fabulous event:

  1. Food (Ethnic cuisine from India, Mexico, Peru and more)
  2. Fresh cut flowers (Say “I love you” or I’m sorry” or buy a gift for yourself because you’re cool!)
  3. Locally made arts and crafts (Fuzzy hats, hand blown beads, smelly…er, I mean scented soaps)
  4. Food (Fresh baked breads, rolls, cupcakes, cookies and other calorific goodies)
  5. Hand dipped chocolate bananas (Food that’s fun to watch people eat!)
  6. Locally grown and organic seasonal fruits and vegetables (a.k.a. the “goods”)
  7. Music (Lay on the grass in the sun and watch your ice cream bar melt while listening to local talent)
  8. Balloon Lady (Not just for kids anymore)
  9. Henna Lady (Not just for adults anymore)
  10. Food (Hot dogs, fresh pie and kettle korn)

So there you have it.  If you are anywhere near or around Tacoma on Thursdays, come and see the Broadway Farmers’ Market (on Broadway of course).  They have now expanded their hours from 10:30 am – 4:00 pm….YAY!