Monday, November 12, 2012

WineStyles, Bothell, WA – VERY Disappointed

I recently purchased a Groupon offer. (I had scheduled the day off from work following the fantastic Jimmy Buffett concert and I wanted to continue the party…)

The Groupon offer was for WineStyles in Bothell and included a four-course prix fixe lunch for two for $20.00. How could I miss with lunch for two for $20.00? Well, I missed big time when going to WineStyles.

Mike and I arrived around 1:00pm on a Wednesday afternoon and there was just one other couple seated in the dining area. We took a table next to them. Soon enough our waiter came and he gave us special Groupon menus that explained the offer which included a salmon spread/cracker appetizer, bread, two chocolates, and entrée for each of us. We scanned the menu and noticed that House Wine was listed for $5.00 per glass. We attempted to order the house white or chardonnay and were advised that WineStyles does not offer house wine. ?? We ended up each getting a Pinot Grigio that we presumed was served as a house wine offering.

The salmon spread/cracker appetizer was delivered and our waiter enthusiastically explained that it was FRESH salmon. But he had no other information about the spread – which, by the way, was about two tablespoons of spread served with about 10 crackers – OUCH at $8.00 on the regular menu.

Unfortunately, our waiter did not bring water to our table and we had no silverware or napkins. Chef Anne appeared in the dining room and brought bread with olive oil/balsamic vinegar and she encouraged us to use our bread plates. We still had no silverware or napkins.

A third party of two sat at another table and they were served water. And then our waiter also provided water to the first party of two that were sitting next to us. We never received water.

We selected a chopped salad and an Italian baguette for our entrees and soon enough they were delivered to our table. And we received rollups – silverware rolled in a napkin. Yeah! The food was nothing special and the sandwich was small with a side salad in a monkey dish. Wow. Do you know how small a monkey dish is? And $8.00 for half a sandwich?

With our entrees, Mike ordered another glass of white wine and I asked to try a red. Our waiter brought me a Montepulciano de Aburzzo – but the bottle didn’t have a full portion so he apologized and offered to serve me another ½ glass of another red wine when I was done with that. And he followed through with a totally different ½ glass of red wine. Geez. Why would he offer any wine when he didn’t even have a full glass available?

Midway through our entrees our waiter placed our guest check on our table. What? We were still eating! Our waiter was a bit flustered as he dealt with two wine salesmen who dropped off wine and seemed to totally forget that he still had three tables eating lunch.

We saw Chef Anne walk through the dining area with a tray of chocolates. Hmmm…could those be for us? I finally called Chef Anne to our table and asked if we could please get our “desserts.” She happily brought us two of the fresh chocolates, but totally missed the opportunity to describe for us what the chocolates were! I could not believe that a chef did not want to brag about her dessert – and educate her guests.

We finally opened the guest check holder and were SHOCKED by the paper on top of the check that was all about the TIP. It explained that if we didn’t add the tip manually on this piece of “homemade” paper, they wouldn’t be able to add it to our credit card. HUH? It was quite abrasive to see that “notice” before we had even see the total of the check.

Seque to my next annoying point. We had four glasses of wine with lunch and they were each rung up at $7.99. Really? We asked for house wine. If our waiter was serving us wine priced differently, he should have told us. Our check came to $31.96. We added a $6.00 tip (on the TIP paper) which brought the total to $37.96. AND THEN tax was added on top of that (meaning our tip was taxed!), bringing the total to $41.00.

We are beyond unsatisfied. We spent $61.00 on a mediocre meal with horrendous service. HUGE THUMBS DOWN ON WINESTYLES IN BOTHELL.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Jimmy Buffett Lounging at the Lagoon

  On October 23, 2012 Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band finally made their way back to Seattle.

We’d been waiting nine years for their return to our neck of the woods. When I heard tickets were going on sale in September there was no question that we had to be there.

And why is that, you may ask? It’s because Jimmy Buffett and his music represent a state of mind – a happy, jolly, carefree state of mind. He is a prolific storyteller and his stories are about sailing, flying, family, partying, and living a crazy life in Key West, Florida.

I first heard of Jimmy Buffet when I spent a year in south Florida as a 19-year old beach bum. Jimmy’s fifth album, A1A, had just been released in December 1974. It’s been called “gulf and western” music. A little bit twangy, but it also includes the infamous “A Pirate Looks at Forty,” which remains a Jimmy Buffett classic. Wiki says, “The song contains the bittersweet confession of a modern-day pirate [insert = drugs] as he looks back on the first 40 years of his life and ponders his future.”

Over the years Jimmy Buffett has recorded about an album (yeah, I still call ‘em that…can’t get over it) a year and he has written several books. Whenever I heard he was coming to town to do a show I had to be there.

Two weeks ago we were not disappointed. We put on our “land shark” visors, leis and Hawaiian shirts and headed to Key Arena. The mood was whimsical with all things tropical, including many “parrot head” hats (Google it), beach balls, hula skirts and coconut bras. The stage resembled a lagoon and the screen behind the band played a video of mermaids swimming around with Jimmy.
And the music. An 11-piece band, including two female back-up singers, and of course, Mr. Jimmy Buffett dressed in a t-shirt and shorts with his proverbial bare feet. I can’t tell you how big my smile was when he walked on stage.

I can’t name all the songs in the set list, but they were mostly old favorites that I have been singing for the last 35 years or so. Jimmy’s music appeals to many age groups – I wasn’t surprised to see the twenty-something woman right in front of me singing along through the whole show too.

For over two hours Mike and I enjoyed “island escapism” and we loved it! Next time we hope he plays at the Gorge and I might even wear my hula skirt and coconut bra. But for now I’m headed to Margaritaville for a Land Shark Beer and singing… “If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane!”

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sonny and Cher

Yep. I’m back. And I’m headed in a musical direction.

In looking at the stats associated with people who view this blog, I found that the numero uno blog post since the 2007 debut is: “Sonny and Cher…uh I mean Mike and Cynthia” – I’m not sure if that is due to calling out S&C OR M&C so I presume it is a combo deal.  Notwithstanding (I love using that word in legal correspondence), here we go….

I saw a picture of Cher today on a rag next to the checkout station at the Kenmore Safeway. Aye, yi, yi. Her nose didn’t look like that on pictures from my long-ago blog posts. And I haven’t heard her perform in years – is she still singing?

Look at Sonny. Poor bastard. He whacked himself to death when he hit a tree while skiing in Nevada in 1998. A little Wiki research found that he was actually married FOUR times (Cherilyn Sarkisian [our girl Cher] was number two) and had four kids, Christine, Chaz (formerly Chastity – and excuse me, but who names their kid Chastity?), Chesare (like the cat?) and Chianna.  Oh, and by the way, what about that resemblence with Mike and Sonny?!

Interesting dude, that Sonny was. He was born in Detroit (where?) and his people were from Italy. He had a hit TV show and he went into politics. It also appears that he was associated with that unusual Scientology stuff and that he was continually searching for his soul partner.

I don’t know. But I remember watching him on TV and singing along with every song. That’s how I’ll remember Sonny.  And the beat goes on...

Thursday, December 29, 2011

520 Toll Bridge Haiku

The day has finally arrived.

Today tolling begins on the 520 bridge between Seattle and Bellevue. I believe that a lot of people will avoid the toll and re-route through Kenmore - that's not a good thing for me.

So before the tolling began I took my last couple of free trips over the bridge...just because I could...and both times on the way from Seattle to Bellevue I spied a grand bald eagle perched on a lamppost right at the beginning of the bridge. It was so close I could see its face. I think it was looking for fish in Lake Washington.

From these thoughts came these Haiku -

520 bridges the gap
520 toll begins -
Kenmore will suffer!

Eagle soars low in blue sky
Fish jumps in the lake
Huge hunger is avoided

Friday, December 9, 2011

Cooking With Teresa in Nagoya, Japan

My friend, Teresa, and her husband, Steve, packed up about four months ago and moved to Nagoya, Japan where Steve has a two-year assignment with his employer. Teresa regularly sends an email update on her latest Japanese adventures and I’d like to share a part of her email from December 6.

last week in preparation for our party, i decided to make some banana bread. well, low and behold it burned, and to make matters worse, about 10 minutes later, the oven broke. this was last thurs. and they finally fixed the oven this morning/by the way, i couldn't use the stove either.

i had to turn off the fuse because if it was on the oven made a noise that was deafening!!! so, today after the repairman left, i tried to make the pumpkin bread that i had tried making on sat. but couldn't because of the horrible sound, and guess what! it burned again!

i am discovering that this oven does not like anything baked with sugar on top-i do that for a nice crunchy crust. the house smelled so bad from the smoke that i had to open the windows and doors and go for a walk. i'm wondering if maybe i shouldn't have preheated the oven like the recipes call for. my flan, lasagne and porkchops have turned out fine so i don't know what happens with these breads.

i talked to 2 other women in the complex and turned the oven on to the setting they told me to use. if you'll recall from an earlier e-mail the darn oven has 6 different settings-no such thing as just turning the temp. on to 350. i just don't understand why these german appliances are so darn hard to use. i finally learned that in order to make the washer and dryer work, i have to slam the doors shut. no such thing as just pushing them gently. oh well, life goes on.

That really got me laughing! And Mike and I shared the same frustration with our oven in Guaymas. It had no temperature settings, in fact, no settings at all. We just turned the oven’s knob to the right and hoped for the best. Needless to say, we didn’t use our oven much. Ahhh…the joys of living in another country!

Thanks for sharing Teresa!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December Festivities

December is always a good month for us.

It starts on the first. That’s the day I share my birthday with Cheryl. This year Cheryl came and met me at Nintendo for lunch on December first. That evening Mike and I went out for dinner to the Purple Café in Woodinville. I love that place! I had a three-course meal with a three-course wine flight – a chance to pair wine with food and try wine I would never think to order. It was wonderful.

Saturday morning Cheryl, with husband Pat, and I, met Cheryl's parents for breakfast in Bothell. Her parents are like second parents to me (heck they let me live in their motorhome for a spell way back in 1976 after my year living in Florida). It is good to spend time with them.

December fourth is our wedding anniversary. Last Sunday Mike and I celebrated 13 years together. We began with an early dinner at Prelude (inside McCall Hall at the Seattle Center) which was followed by a night at the Nutcracker Ballet. Everything was so festive and all the little girls wore their finest velvet holiday dresses!

Plus, this Saturday a new December tradition begins for us. It will be the evening of the Nintendo Holiday Party. They have already begun decorating the first floor of our building. It will be a gala affair with music, friends, and food prepared by local celebrity chef, Mr. Tom Douglas. I can’t wait!

And then winding up the month will be time out of the office. You see, Nintendo Headquarters closes early the afternoon of December 23 and doesn’t open up again until January 3. Yippee!! A winter vacation right here in Seattle!

Our apartment is adorned with our holiday décor and we even have stockings hanging over the fireplace this year. Rock keeps trying to get into the candy dish and Squeak is curious about all of the candles. All we need is a tree – which we’ll get sometime this week.

Life is good. And December is especially good…


Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Sunday morning Mike and I got up and were ready to catch the bus to downtown Seattle for the Seattle Seahawks v. Washington Redskins football game.

We grabbed our bus passes and umbrellas and headed out. We were so excited…sitting in the Nintendo suite for any game is a treat! It was raining so hard we were laughing and wondering how we’d stay dry on the walk from the bus to the stadium.

And then it happened.

The rain and wind was strong, Mike’s walk became unsteady, our umbrellas flipped inside out, and I could see it coming. But it happened so quickly that there was nothing I could do. The poor guy looked at me and then he went down. Thank goodness his head hit bark in a flower bed and not the paved street. But there was blood everywhere, including his Seahawk cap.

We hobbled back to our apartment and cleaned up Mike’s face and his bloodied hand that broke his fall. He was shaken and unsteady, but alert and coherent. I felt so bad for him. We got him situated on the couch with the heating pad and blankets because Mike was in no shape to go to the game.

Our neighbor, Mark, went to the game with me and we made it to the suite in time for the national anthem. The game was exciting - very close - however, the Redskins ended up winning.

We got home and Mike was still resting his achy, ole body on the couch so we hung out and eventually made a pizza to share. Yesterday he was doing better even though his body thoroughly ached. Hopefully today the pain will lessen. Get better soon Mike!!!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Haiku

Friends gather at my table
Dog looks for a treat
One chair is empty this year

Fire burns low in the morning
Wood fuels the hot flame
By nightfall – it is all is gone

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Nintendo Suite at the Clink

One of the great benefits of working at Nintendo includes all the amenities available…


Mike and I will be enjoying the luxury of the suite as we watch the Seattle Seahawks National Football League team take on the Washington Redskins on Sunday afternoon.