My Kind of Bar

Wally's Sandwich Bar

Sometimes, nothing is quite as satisfying as a sandwich. Or a sandwich disguised as a salad. When the urge hits you, head to Wally’s in West Olympia.

Wally’s Sandwich Bar has something for everyone including vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free. You can probably put together something low-FODMAP. Sub breads, deli breads, wraps and pitas. All of their specialty sandwiches are available as a salad. And vegetarians rejoice! This is not your typical veggie sub option. Build your own with hummus, artichoke hearts, avocado, sun-dried tomatoes, falafel, tzatziki, fresh mozzarella or feta cheese.

I ordered the Tempeh Reuben and the Cool Cucumber to split with my better half so we could each try two new sandwiches. Even before I was halfway through the Reuben, I knew I wanted another one in the future. I have never had anything like it, it was delicious. Also from past experience: Falafel sandwich=yum. An out-of-town guest with several decades of sandwich eating experience ordered the Gyro sandwich and proclaimed it the best he’d ever had. There are PB&J and grilled cheese options for the kids and a number of sides. Fast and friendly service and Dum Dum lollipops in the to-go bag.

Also check out the napkin art wall! This takes those napkin doodles to a whole new level! Maybe you will be inspired to learn to draw.

It was about $11 per person for a little piece of sandwich heaven.

Located in West Olympia in the Westside Shopping Center. Dine-in, carryout and catering (including boxed lunches) available. Free WiFi and credit cards accepted. 2106 Harrison Ave NW, Olympia, WA 98502. 360-570-2029

Open daily 10:30 am to 9 pm. Winter hours, closed at 8 pm, Sunday-Wednesday. It’s always a good idea to call.

Love,
Oly


Raining/drizzling off and on today. 50°F at 3 pm.

Spring is coming!

Seattle Tilth's Maritime Northwest Garden Guide

My copy of the Maritime Northwest Garden Guide arrived today. This is the go-to guide for planning your garden in Olympia and other nearby locales. You can order a copy from Seattle Tilth for $22.00 including postage and it may be the best $22 that you spend on the garden.

January is planning time for gardeners. This is when you get out your seed catalogs, draw a diagram of your garden and make your plans. I like the Maritime Northwest Garden Guide because it has a month by month calendar of things to do, things to plan inside and out, garden chores and more. It also has a very useful and easy to understand crop rotation guide. Finally! I can see clearly what I need to do.

In my yard, I contend with some hungry critters: slugs, rabbits and deer. My garden area is thankfully fenced off so it’s just me and the slugs. I’ll let you in on a little secret. I don’t kill slugs. My husband loves them, I think they are his totem animal. And I have to say that I think they are pretty darn cool. I have no problem relocating them and I don’t mind doing the copper collars around my plants along with other methods to discourage them from eating certain plants. However, I don’t mind if they eat dog poop. They are a fairly good clean-up crew. So we coexist. I might get grumpy later but for now, it’s Kumbaya.

When I moved in, I had a couple of large piles of miscellaneous bricks and granite pieces. Last fall, I put them together to build additional raised beds. Next step is to fill them with garden soil and get ready for planting. I also have a small light stand for seed starting. I just need to order seeds and get to work!

What are you planting this year?


This post first appeared on love-oly.com

Spring is coming!

Get ready to plant!

My copy of the Maritime Northwest Garden Guide arrived today. This is the go-to guide for planning your garden in Olympia and other nearby locales. You can order a copy from Seattle Tilth for $22.00 including postage and it may be the best $22 that you spend on the garden.

January is planning time for gardeners. This is when you get out your seed catalogs, draw a diagram of your garden and make your plans. I like the Maritime Northwest Garden Guide because it has a month by month calendar of things to do, things to plan inside and out, garden chores and more. It also has a very useful and easy to understand crop rotation guide. Finally! I can see clearly what I need to do.

In my yard, I contend with some hungry critters: slugs, rabbits and deer. My garden area is thankfully fenced off so it’s just me and the slugs. I’ll let you in on a little secret. I don’t kill slugs. My husband loves them, I think they are his totem animal. And I have to say that I think they are pretty darn cool. I have no problem relocating them and I don’t mind doing the copper collars around my plants along with other methods to discourage them from eating certain plants. However, I don’t mind if they eat dog poop. They are a fairly good clean-up crew. So we coexist. I might get grumpy later but for now, it’s Kumbaya.

When I moved in, I had a couple of large piles of miscellaneous bricks and granite pieces. Last fall, I put them together to build additional raised beds. Next step is to fill them with garden soil and get ready for planting. I also have a small light stand for seed starting. I just need to order seeds and get to work!

What are you planting this year?

Love,
Oly


Today’s weather: It was raining cats and dogs today. Not really that cold, but rain, rain and more rain. This is the type of weather where my dogs take one look outside and say, “No thank you, I don’t really need to go.” And the FitBit steps suffer. <sigh> Luckily, they are not all like this. It was a good day to think about my springtime garden.

Meet me in the (Thai) Garden

Thai Garden

Thai food, Indian food, Mexican food and pizza–those are my comfort foods. And whenever there’s a birthday or another special occasion, you can bet one or more of these play a starring role. There may have been a birthday, so we had Island Market Pizza for lunch and Thai Garden for dinner.

Thai Garden Restaurant & Lounge
2735 Harrison Ave NW, Olympia, Washington 98502,  (360) 943-6292

Thai Garden is located near Target in Olympia. We got takeout this time but we have eaten in and really liked the ambiance and the service. This is a place to go for a dinner out with the family, visitors or for a special occasion.

I always get the golden tofu. My better half cannot get enough of the Tom Kha Vegan soup. We also shared the yellow curry and fresh spring rolls. We have been able to get vegan options here and the staff are helpful. When we ate in, our server gave recommendations that were spot on. We also really like their jasmine tea.

Happy eating!

Love,
Oly

Let’s Recycle!

Recycling

I am an avid recycler. I am always looking for ways to reduce, reuse and recycle. When I move, one of the first things that I do is to try to get the lay of the land with regard to recycling. Yes, please feel free to refer to me as a recycling nerd.

Thurston County maintains a list of materials and where to recycle: http://www.co.thurston.wa.us/cm/solidwaste/index.asp

Most materials can go in the curbside recycling bins if you have residential service. Here’s what can go in the bin. In Olympia, glass goes in a separate container and is picked up on a different schedule. Because it’s rainy here, the bins need to have drainage holes. A couple of my neighbors use bins with lids.

There are a number of stores that recycle specific items like e-waste, plastic bags/wrap, CFLs and batteries, including Target, Best Buy, Lowe’s and Home Depot.

One of the most vexing things here is the inability to recycle plastic clamshells. I just haven’t found a place nearby that will take them. We have tried to reduce what we buy in clamshells (typically it’s produce), but we still wind up with some. If you have ideas, send me an email.

OTOH, you can recycle styrofoam, both block and takeout containers. Clean polystyrene (Styrofoam) can be recycled at the Thurston County Waste & Recovery Center, 2420 Hogum Bay Rd NE, Lacey, WA 98516, (360) 786-5494.

I also learned that you can recycle plastic bags and plastic wrap at the Waste and Recovery Center! Yay!

The Waste and Recovery Center is a one-stop location for dropping off recyclables, trash and household hazardous waste. This is a great place to drop off large cardboard that doesn’t fit easily into curbside recycling bins. There is also a Goodwill drop off on site that will accept clothes and small household items (no large furniture).

The hours for the Waste and Recovery Center are:

  • Monday through Friday: entrance gates open from 7 a.m.– 4:45 p.m.
  • Saturday and Sunday: entrance gates open from 8 a.m.– 4:45 p.m.
  • Entrance gates close at 4:45 p.m.

If you are interested in recycling green waste, the Waste and  Recovery Center also accepts green waste:

Items accepted as self-hauled yard waste

  • Garden trimmings and prunings
  • Grass clippings (as fresh as possible)
  • Leaves, needles, and cones (no dirt or rocks)
  • Tree branches and cedar boughs
  • Tree stumps and roots (no dirt or rocks)
  • Untreated lumber (no paints or stains; nails are OK)
  • Plywood and particle board (no laminate)

If you have things to shred, there are a number of free shredding events throughout the year. Some serve as fundraiser and food drives: http://www.lemaymobileshredding.com/community-shred-events

For hard to recycle items, there’s always TerraCycle. This is a more expensive option but it’s very satisfying to be able to recycle as much as possible. TerraCycle sells postage-paid boxes that can be filled and returned. TerraCycle does have some free programs.

Happy Recycling!

Love, Oly

In Search of the Perfect Cup

For the love of coffee

I really love coffee and long before I moved here, I was a fan of Olympia Coffee Roasting Company. I was gifted several bags of coffee, different varieties.

I have visited two locations in Olympia, downtown at 600 4th Ave E and 1706 Harrison Ave NW. When you visit the downtown location, check out the massive pour over station that is poetry in motion. It’s a thing of beauty and mesmerizing. The location on Harrison in West Olympia looks like more of a stand but it’s a walk-in location that also sells bags of coffee. Before Christmas, I went there to buy some coffee for a friend and asked one of the baristas about their holiday blend. She said: “It tastes like plums and takes cream like a dream.” Free poetry with every bag! I bought a bag for myself. I finally opened it a few days ago while I was putting away holiday decorations and it was as described. So good!

If you like coffee but can’t drink caffeine or you like to switch between regular and decaf so you can sleep at night, you know that it can be hard to find good decaf. Why is it so bad? It’s almost as if coffee roasters think that decaf drinkers are second-class citizens who don’t deserve a perfect cup. Well if you are a decaf drinker, you can say it loud and say it proud at Olympia Coffee. Their Asterisk decaf is quite good. If you drink regular, treat yourself to a sampler pack of four single origin coffees. Coffee is available online, but for the poetry or the poetry in motion, you need to visit in person.

Happy coffee drinking!

Love,
Oly

Seed Starting for a New Garden

We went to a Seed Starting Meetup hosted by South Sound Vegans and Living Green in Olympia. Meetup is an online community/app that helps you to create and make connections IRL with people who share the same interests: gaming, cooking, hiking, politics — you name it–there’s probably a Meetup group for it.

I’ve been lurking in the Meetup world for about six months. I know, I know, I am slow to take the plunge. And then there was a Meetup on seed starting. If you dangle anything plant or garden-related in front of me you are likely to get my full attention.

We met at Encore Chocolates and Teas, 116 5th Ave SE · Olympia, WA.

Wow–so much tea. This is the place to go for tea! I tried the jasmine tea and it was fantastic. I’ll definitely be going back. How did I get out of there without trying the chocolates? I have no idea.  I think I was distracted by the gardening talk. Now you know my priorities!

Anna talked about a wide range of topics related to seed starting and has a new blog dedicated to South Sound gardening called Edible or Else.

Some things that I learned:

  • Anna offered a better explanation of hardening off that I have learned elsewhere: that is, making a slow transition to the outside for seedlings started inside.
  • Keeping seeds cool: I knew that they should be dry–did not make the cool connection.
  • If you have moved around, you know that getting the inside scope on the local growing environment makes all the difference, so I was happy to learn about Seattle Tilth’s Maritime Northwest Garden Guide. You can order a copy for $22.00 including postage and it may be the best $22 that you spend on the garden,

Buying good quality seeds means that the seeds are what they say they are, have been stored properly and are robust enough to sprout. Finding varieties that work well in your area is key. Sometimes, that means letting go of a variety that you grew up with (I’m looking at you Beefsteak tomato) in favor of varieties that match the length and temperature ranges of your growing season. Seed catalogs we learned about:

Another catalog I’ve used is Oregon-based Territorial Seeds for short season, cool temps-tolerant tomato varieties.

In addition to Edible or Else, check out the Northwest Edible Life blog, in particular, the monthly gardening guides.

I am new to gardening in the Pacific Northwest gardening but I am not new to gardening or short-season gardening or cool-season gardening. There are a lot of parallels to gardening in the low desert of Arizona and in Northern Nevada. A lot of people don’t realize that you can’t garden in the summer in Arizona. If you want to grow tomatoes in Arizona, you have to start your seeds in December for a February planting and then it’s a race against the calendar to get your crop before temps go well above 100. Native Seeds/SEARCH in Tucson was a go-to resource when I lived in Arizona and there’s some overlap in the cool season growing advice. Native Seeds is a nonprofit seed conservation group focusing on Native American seed preservation. Check out this article on cool-season growing. I like their BRAG memory device for cool season growing: Brassicas, Roots, Alliums and Greens. If you want to get started with seed saving, their article on seed saving is a good place to start. This is all to say that even if you are new to the area, you might know more than you think.

I am pretty excited about gardening this year and will share I’ll be keeping a garden journal on Instagram @LetsKeepGrowing. If you are a gardener, you know that January is when all of the seed catalogs come out. If you are new to gardening, it’s time to sign up for those catalogs. Get excited, people! Spring is coming.

Let’s get growing!


This post originally appeared on love-oly.com

Let’s Meetup

Tomato Seedlings

We went to a Seed Starting Meetup hosted by South Sound Vegans and Living Green in Olympia. Meetup is an online community/app that helps you to create and make connections IRL with people who share the same interests: gaming, cooking, hiking, politics — you name it–there’s probably a Meetup group for it.

I’ve been lurking in the Meetup world for about six months. I know, I know, I am slow to take the plunge. And then there was a Meetup on seed starting. If you dangle anything plant or garden-related in front of me you are likely to get my full attention.

We met at Encore Chocolates and Teas, 116 5th Ave SE · Olympia, WA.

Wow–so much tea. This is the place to go for tea! I tried the jasmine tea and it was fantastic. I’ll definitely be going back. How did I get out of there without trying the chocolates? I have no idea.  I think I was distracted by the gardening talk. Now you know my priorities!

Anna talked about a wide range of topics related to seed starting and has a new blog dedicated to South Sound gardening called Edible or Else.

Some things that I learned:

  • Anna offered a better explanation of hardening off that I have learned elsewhere: that is, making a slow transition to the outside for seedlings started inside.
  • Keeping seeds cool: I knew that they should be dry–did not make the cool connection.
  • If you have moved around, you know that getting the inside scope on the local growing environment makes all the difference, so I was happy to learn about Seattle Tilth’s Maritime Northwest Garden Guide. You can order a copy for $22.00 including postage and it may be the best $22 that you spend on the garden,

Buying good quality seeds means that the seeds are what they say they are, have been stored properly and are robust enough to sprout. Finding varieties that work well in your area is key. Sometimes, that means letting go of a variety that you grew up with (I’m looking at you Beefsteak tomato) in favor of varieties that match the length and temperature ranges of your growing season. Seed catalogs we learned about:

Another catalog I’ve used is Oregon-based Territorial Seeds for short season, cool temps-tolerant tomato varieties.

In addition to Edible or Else, check out the Northwest Edible Life blog, in particular, the monthly gardening guides.

I am new to gardening in the Pacific Northwest gardening but I am not new to gardening or short-season gardening or cool-season gardening. There are a lot of parallels to gardening in the low desert of Arizona and in Northern Nevada. A lot of people don’t realize that you can’t garden in the summer in Arizona. If you want to grow tomatoes in Arizona, you have to start your seeds in December for a February planting and then it’s a race against the calendar to get your crop before temps go well above 100. Native Seeds/SEARCH in Tucson was a go-to resource when I lived in Arizona and there’s some overlap in the cool season growing advice. Native Seeds is a nonprofit seed conservation group focusing on Native American seed preservation. Check out this article on cool-season growing. I like their BRAG memory device for cool season growing: Brassicas, Roots, Alliums and Greens. If you want to get started with seed saving, their article on seed saving is a good place to start. This is all to say that even if you are new to the area, you might know more than you think.

I am pretty excited about gardening this year and will share I’ll be keeping a garden journal on Instagram @LetsKeepGrowing. If you are a gardener, you know that January is when all of the seed catalogs come out. If you are new to gardening, it’s time to sign up for those catalogs. Get excited, people! Spring is coming.

Let’s get growing!

Love,
Oly


Today’s weather: It’s 40°F and raining at 5:30 am. Looks like it might rain all day.

I Heart the Library

Olympia Timberland Library

“There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration.”

― Andrew Carnegie

Andrew Carnegie supported the building of more than 2500 libraries, 2509 to be exact. The Little Free Library movement had an initial goal to build 2510 libraries, one more than Andrew Carnegie (and they blew well past that goal).(1)

One of the first things that I did when I moved to Olympia was to get a library card. I love books and I love Amazon, but the older I get, the more I realize that I can’t own every book that I want to read. For me, public libraries are a critical part of the commons. They are a place where knowledge is freely shared and a haven in the storms, real and metaphorical.

The Timberland Regional Libraries (TRL) include 27 libraries, two cooperative library centers and four library kiosks in Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific and Thurston counties.

What I love about the library:

  • It’s regional so the collection is much larger than the local branch.
  • You can browse the entire catalog online and place holds online. Holds are kept in a self-service area near the checkout. So you can place your hold online and be in and out of the library in 30 seconds.
  • You can borrow books for your e-reader. I have borrowed books using the familiar Amazon interface and downloaded them to my Kindle app.
  • In addition to the ubiquitous Dewey Decimal system, the library has easy to read category signs in the stacks that make browsing easy.
  • Free circulation books: there is a selection of books to borrow from that doesn’t require checkout so you can keep it as long as you want and return it when you are done.
  • The Friends of the Olympia Library have an ongoing book sale shelf in the Olympia library during library hours. There are several shelves of used books for sale, organized by topic. Most of these books are $1 to $2. I always browse the used books and I have picked up several good gardening books including regional gardening books. There’s a drop box for payments so bring your small bills! (Other branches sell used books, too.)
  • There are book return drop boxes at several locations. We use the one at Haggen’s grocery store.
  • Check out the homework help resources for kids and teens.
  • It’s free. All those books and resources are available to just for signing up for a library card. (The library has compiled this handy Saving You Money page.) What are you waiting for?!

I’m not the only one that loves the library–there were over five million checkouts and downloads in 2016! Plus the library is a great place to learn more about Olympia.

Libraries are familiar and comfortable places. They are different but somehow the same. I love this quote from author Germaine Greer in her book, Daddy, We Hardly Knew You: “Libraries are reservoirs of strength, grace and wit, reminders of order, calm and continuity, lakes of mental energy, neither warm nor cold, light nor dark … In any library in the world, I am at home, unselfconscious, still and absorbed.”

The TRL turns 50 this year. So young to have accomplished so much! Here’s to many more.

Love,
Oly

1. Aldrich, Margret, The Little Free Library Book, 2015, Coffee House Press, p. 4.


Today’s weather: Cloudy but no rain today and it was in the 40s on our morning walk today. Funny how 40°ish has become my new 70°F. And I wore sunglasses without feeling ridiculous.

Stay on Target

Stay on Target

Even chain stores have a little local flavor. And let’s face it, sometimes you need food, socks, lip balm and kitty litter. Target has all of this and more. The food section of the Olympia Target is legit. Not a lot of produce, but the basics. Sadly, there is no Sprouts or Whole Foods here, so if you are looking for vegetarian/vegan options, you have to get creative. Target carries a decent selection of Amy’s, Gardein, Silk, Ripple and Annie’s. This the place to get the almond and coconut versions of Natural Bliss creamer (addicted).

The Olympia Target store has it’s customer service desk in lane one of the registers rather than along the perimeter. Everyone seems super nice. During my last trip, two associates helped me and another stopped to ask how I was. The Olympia store is also home to the Sticker Lady cashier. We go through her line whenever she’s working for the pick-me-up.

Looking for Seahawks gear? You can find also find that here. Target offers seasonal merchandise in addition to year-round offerings: back to school, outdoor living/furniture and holiday decorations.

Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater, and unincorporated Thurston County have a plastic bag ordinance so stores carry paper bags and you have to pay for bags. This encourages people to bring their own bags, of course, and no one seems to care if you use your Trader Joe’s bags at Target. (There is a Trader Joe’s in Olympia! More on that in a later post.)

The Olympia store has a CVS Pharmacy and a Starbucks and you can recycle plastic bags at Target. Speaking of plastic bags, you can pick up a free umbrella bag when it’s raining to contain your wet umbrella while you shop. Be sure to reuse and then recycle it! 

There is another Target in nearby Lacey.