Archive for the 'seattle' Category

Hunting the Elusive Condo

For the past month, I have been sporadically looking at condominiums and cottages in the Seattle area.


Why? I need to get away from the stress of owning a big home and yard that I can’t take care of by myself, with my work and travel schedule. And I really need to be closer to my office than the current exhausting 1.5 hr one way commute, now that my kids are done with school. And finally, it really is time for those kids to fly the nest, perhaps with a little help, but definitely find their wings.

My wish list isn’t really huge, but it’s not simple either. Close-to-downtown Seattle real estate in good neighborhoods can be ridiculously expensive.

  • 2-3 bdrm, 2 bath condo/townhouse/cottage w/ full groundskeeping

  • Sunny, well lit, open, prefer architecturally interesting to apartment-bland
  • Usable kitchen for cooking/entertaining
  • Hardwood or other non-carpet material floors
  • Fireplace
  • Deck or patio
  • Covered parking or garage
  • Laundry room on same floor as bedrooms
  • Reasonably quiet location – not end of runway or on major highway
  • Within 30 min of downtown

A townhouse is a plus, as is a soaking or jetted tub, a garage, and a view of a slice of green, mountains, or sound. High HOA fees are a minus, as are huge hive-like facilities with long hallways – not very dog-friendly.

I’ve found two I’ve loved but haven’t worked out:

The Bainbridge Condo is lovely. Totally lovely. It’s my gold standard. But, in the recession, not a single unit has sold and they’re all being rented out. This puts any single buyer at significant legal risk both from a underlying land perspective (owned by the developer) and from a HOA/assessment perspective.

Ballard Condo

The Ballard condo/cottage is a tiny, light, bright jewel. I also loved it. Apparently, though, contravening all customs re: condo ownership, there will be no community maintenance of grounds or building exteriors. Groundskeeping and the relative lack of headache is precisely why I’m looking at condos, so that is strike 2.

Bainbridge Condo

I’ve also found many I’ve really disliked, some for rather comical reasons.

The Capitol Hill condo had fabulous photography – and was, indeed, light and bright. It also had amateurishly installed Ikea cabinetry and closets, horrible kludged together bathrooms, and in a supreme triumph of idiocy, no *refrigerator* in the kitchen. Check the photo. There is no space for a fridge. Apparently the previous owner installed 18′ of cabinets and made do w/ under-counter wine chiller units in lieu of a fridge.

Capitol Hill Condo

The Lake Union condo was in a style I really like – sort of the Dwell design/style, dark bamboo floors, re-engineered stone countertops, window seat, lots of light. Still, it was four stories. Count them. And the first bathroom was on the third floor. The shared kitchen/living room was about 12′x14′, and had about five cabinets; apparently residents have to choose between storing dishes or food.

Lake Union Condo

Then there was the Fremont condo, which was also new and modern, but the copious back windows all overlooked a really seedy 7-11 and its filthy parking lot, and beyond that a head shop.

The inexpensive Normandy park townhouse condos were new and pretty and spacious, and conveniently positioned at the end of one of the SeaTac runways. How thoughtful for my travel schedule! And sleep schedule.

Anyway, I think I’ll take a break for a while, and only look when I see something stellar, avoiding any further emotional investment.

Note: I have a real estate agent. One on each side of the Sound, actually. I am perfectly happy with them, thank you.

Note 2: I am being heavily comment spammed lately. While I do review my comment moderation queue, if your comment disappears into the spam queue, I probably won’t see it to retrieve it, sorry – email me!

Posted on Wednesday, May 19th, 2010 by Jeri
Under: home, seattle | 5 Comments »

Seattle Sunrise

Seattle Sunrise

One of the reasons I really enjoy the ferry commute.

Posted on Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009 by Jeri
Under: commute, seattle | 1 Comment »

Swimming with the Ducks

You may have heard of Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ famous book, Women who Run With the Wolves? Well, I have photographic evidence that I am, instead, a woman who swims with the ducks.

Swimming with Ducks

Back in April, inspired by my son’s slightly insane bike ride, I set a goal – to swim an open water distance swim. The swim I had in mind, the punishing 3.5 mi Puget Sound crossing, is not being held this year, but there are several lake swims scattered around the Puget Sound this summer.

I set my sights on the first one scheduled as a ‘maybe’. I completed it today – the Green Lake open water swim, a mile across the lake and back. My goals for the event were simple – to finish the race, and to not be last. I accomplished both, plus, I was very pleasantly surprised by my time. (Until, of course, I compared it with my 15-minutes faster high school mile time… LOL)

My wonderful mother was my companion, supporter and towel holder for the event – thank you, mom! While mom is not a distance swimmer, she is swimming a few events in August in the Senior Olympic Nationals, held at Stanford, so it was great having another swimmer cheer for me.

One woman she was chatting with while I swam asked, “If this is your daughter’s first open water event, why did she choose the mile instead of the easier half-mile?”

Sheesh. ;) Some people. Why do people climb the TALLEST mountain in north America, or in the world, rather than one that’s half that high? If I could accomplish it – and I routinely swim more than that in training – of course I wanted to swim the longer event.

Shoot, I’d like to try the Puget Sound crossing. Catalina Island. Long Island. Maybe someday the English Channel! (although probably not) These aren’t because I love the activity so much – it’s because they’re the big mountains on the horizon worth climbing.

So, back to today’s swim. In some ways it was harder than I anticipated, and in some ways easier.

The Start
Please note that I am not in this picture, but just to the right, out of frame. This is on purpose. :)

The cold water, at about 68° was more of an impact than I expected. I chose not to get in and warm up, ‘warm’ being a bit of a misnomer. My initial plunge started me hyperventilating a bit and I had a hard time evening my breathing out and establishing a rhythm for about the first 200 yards.

Then I had a tough time staying on track. I know the drill, swim X strokes head down then 1 stroke head up to sight on a point across the lake, and I did 5:1, but I still tended to wander a bit, worse toward the end when I was more tired. The general lack of visibility in the murky water was a bit distracting, I couldn’t see other swimmers until I was nearly on top of them.

I got foot cramps a couple of time, which I never do in pool swimming, bit swam through those easily by just not kicking for a couple of minutes.

The distance itself was only a little tiring – and my shoulders are a bit achey tonight – but I expected that because this distance was unhelped by turns & pushing off the wall every 25 yards, like I do in the pool.

Lake Swim
This is our finishing group. The swim went all the way across to the building at the other end, around a buoy, and back.

All in all, I’m very glad I did it. It was a low key event, 120 swimmers in the mile event, and folks were positive and supportive. I’ll do it again – maybe Lake Washington later this summer and perhaps the swim portion of a team triathlon in Olympia in September – both depending how my travel schedule works out this fall.

Posted on Sunday, June 28th, 2009 by Jeri
Under: seattle, swim | 14 Comments »

Seattle Sunrise

Seattle Sunrise

Zach took this Friday morning from the Bainbridge ferry as it exited Eagle Harbor – all photos and panorama stitching work are his. As always, click for larger versions.

Posted on Monday, March 2nd, 2009 by Jeri
Under: photography, seattle | 5 Comments »

Cornbread Pudding

We had this savory side dish at a Tom Douglas restaurant, Etta’s Seafood, and it was excellent – if not for New Year’s dieters. We tried the recipe this weekend and it turned out really well, a nice, dressy side dish alternative to stuffing or potatoes.

Tom publishes the recipe in his Tom Douglas’ Seattle Kitchen cookbook, and it’s been reprinted several places on the web, so I’m sharing it here as well.

Etta’s Cornbread Pudding


¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus a little extra for buttering pan
1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup medium-ground yellow cornmeal
½ cup grated pepper jack cheese
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons honey


1 tablespoon unsalted butter plus a little more for buttering pan
1 cup thinly sliced onions
¾ cup grated dry jack cheese
2 teaspoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
½ teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
2 ¼ cups whipping cream or half-and-half
4 large eggs
¾ to 1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. To prepare the cornbread: Heat oven to 425 degrees. Melt ¼ cup butter and set aside to cool slightly. Butter an 8-inch square pan with a little softened butter and set aside.
2. Combine the flour, cornmeal, pepper jack cheese, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. In a second bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and honey. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring just until combined. Add the melted butter and stir into the mixture. Pour into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 20 minutes. When cool enough to handle, cut into 1-inch cubes.
3. To prepare the pudding: Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Put the cornbread cubes in a buttered 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
4. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a sauté pan over low heat and cook the onions very slowly until soft and golden brown, at least 20 minutes; stir occasionally. Remove from the heat. Scatter the onions, cheese and herbs over the cornbread. Whisk together the cream, eggs, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl and pour over the cornbread cubes. Let sit for 10 minutes so the cornbread absorbs some of the custard.

Notes: Dry jack cheese resembles parmesan and is nuttier than regular jack; you could also use parmesan or sharp cheddar but the flavor would change. You can make the cornbread and store it in the freezer, covered tightly in plastic wrap, for a few weeks until you are ready to make the pudding. The onions can be caramelized a day ahead and stored, covered, in the refrigerator. The pudding can be baked a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator, covered – we actually liked it better the second day. Before serving, reheat the pudding, covered with aluminum foil, in a preheated 375-degree oven until warmed through.

Posted on Tuesday, January 6th, 2009 by Jeri
Under: cooking, seattle | 1 Comment »