Friday, March 20, 2015

Catharine Gallagher | Your Host ~ In Her Own Words

Catharine is an artist. Everything she touches has artistic flourishes. Some small. Some large. Some subtle. Some bold. Often whimsical; even surprising. Always beautiful. 

Several years ago, I stayed for the weekend in her art studio before it was a "cabin". The first morning, I woke to that lovely weekend feeling of "I have no place I have to be." "I have nothing I have to do." 

I lay there contemplating the room. An art studio is a highly personal space. Whenever I have the opportunity to visit one, I am reminded art is the mind made manifest. 

Catharine's "Art by the Yard" studio was no different. From my bed, snuggled in its pleasantly disarrayed down comforter, I began my visual exploration. Her easel stood near a window. A canvas work in process, interrupted. The palette on a nearby stool. The room flooded with morning light. Tubes of paint filling a box. Paint brushes upturned in a jar, drying. A handmade bowl filled with pebbles. The feather of a bird tucked in a book marking the end of a read. A high-tech embroidery machine with large spools of thread in many colours. A stack of hoodies ready to be embroidered for the gift shop. A completed one folded and tagged. Sketches of preliminary designs for note cards. Several works in progress; a creative mind at work.

There is finished art on the walls; handmade tile on the floor under the Franklin stove; a small kitchen with a jar of whole bean coffee. The room is interesting and filled with personal elements. Wonderful!

Now, you can stay in the Art Studio. It's still as beautiful and interesting as it was when it was a working studio. Catharine’s art is on the walls. Her easel is standing in the corner waiting for you. 

As Catharine says: This charming one room cedar cabin is still full of creative energy; a place of much joy and happiness. Try your hand at the easel. Or, for your own art-filled stay, bring a project of your own to work on. Take your sketchbook outside to sit by the creek. Write in your journal. Work on your needlecraft. Relax. Refresh. Breathe in the fresh mountain air. Listen to the sound of Copper Creek as it tumbles over the rocks on its way to the sea. I hope the spirit of this creative little cabin inspires you as it has inspired me!

Grateful every day to have creative, artful people in my life.

King 5 and Evening Magazine ~ Voted Best Cabins 2 Years in a Row!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

How Green are They? Greener than Kermit!

As I mentioned when I was telling you about Phil Freeman, he lives his ideals. He's been green since Kermit was a tadpole!

Organic garden. Darling gardener!
Recycle? Check.
Compost? Check.
Organic Garden? Check.
Solar power? Check.
Electric car? Check.
Charging stations? Check, again.
Private pond stocked with trout? Of course.

Over the years, Catharine, Phil and I have talked about their views on the importance of a healthy environment; about maintaining a small carbon footprint and about the obligation to leave this world for their children and grandchildren. To say it's a passion understates their commitment to ethical practices in all aspects of their business.

This spring, I've been highlighting the location and design of their cabins. Let's chat about Catharine and Phil's eco-values in action.

Many of their cabins have complimentary Electric Vehicle Charging Stations. If you have an electric vehicle, you can confidently leave the bustle of the city and the rush of the freeways for the rejuvenating calm of a cabin stay without having to worry about where you will be able to charge your battery. Reserve with confidence.
Look for EVCS on the Great Getaways web site. It indicates which cabins have charging stations. Worrying about the logistics of travel is the antithesis of soothing.

I'm just sayin' . . .

They are in the process of installing solar panels on their cabins. The Beach House on Puget Sound was recently completed. In a few years, the Beach House will be generating power instead of using power.

Copper Creek Restaurant is all about fresh! Fresh bread. Fresh blackberry pie. Fresh Copper Topper cinnamon rolls. All fresh out of the oven. Paired with their own specialty roasted coffee? Oh, yum! When you dine at Copper Creek Restaurant, you will always find premium products that are delicious as well as handled with care and respect for the environment. Stop by. Enjoy.

Grateful every day to have people in my life who are working 
to make the world a better place for generations to come.

KING5 and Evening Magazine ~ Voted Best Cabins 2 years in a row! 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Diary of the Perfect Birthday ~ Beach House Style

Quick! What do Phil Freeman and Smokey the Bear have in common? Yes, they both love the forest and they pay attention to the “forest fire danger “ sign on the way to Mount Rainier. But, apparently according to a local radio station, they share the same birthday. Who knew?

Phil's birthday started in Seattle in Columbia City at a very cool jazz club called The Royal Room. Live music, wonderful food, a very nice bottle of wine. Convivial. Friendly. Excellent.

As the week progressed, I wanted to continue his celebrations with a dinner party at my house. When I got in touch with Catharine, she said, "Rats! No can do. Have to be at the Beach House to finalize the installation of the solar panels. Why don't you bundle everything up, come here and stay overnight."

Yes! What a grand idea!

So, loading up the wild salmon filet marinating in its special mixture, the cedar shingle, a baggie of large slices of potatoes drizzled with olive oil and a nice mix of spices. a lovely bottle of French wine, some fresh Belgian feta from PFI, a couple of quarts of my famous homemade pickles in vintage farm-style bale wired jars (a present for Phil), and my pillow, my friend Kim and I headed to the Beach House on the Puget Sound, one of the lovely properties owned by Catharine and Phil.

On the way down there, we were listening to the radio and the announcer intoned, "Smokey the Bear's birthday was this week." 

"Wow," I thought. "Nice to have a shared birthday! Phil will get a kick out of that. I must tell him."

Even though we unpacked the car when we arrived, we still cruised along on Easy Street. Never liking to rush into things, first, we opened a bottle of wine, noshed on an assortment of cheese, opened a jar of pickles, grabbed a handful of wasabi roasted almonds and put our feet up while the cedar plank soaked in the sink. Nice!

Now, here's the thing about Catharine and Phil: they are gourmands. They have sophisticated palates without being snobs. From American diner classics to French and Italian cuisine, they know good food and wine and appreciate a beautiful presentation. And, I have it on good authority, they are, in fact, the Washington state sultans of BBQ. They BBQ two to three times a week. So, it was a surprise to me that Phil had not had cedar planked wild salmon at home. In a restaurant, sure, but never at home.

He started the BBQ out on the back deck. I took the cedar plank out of the sink and laid the filet on it. "Don't we need a spatula to turn it over?" said Phil. 

"Nope. We don't turn it over. We just put the whole shootin' match on the grill, close the top and wait for the deliciousness." While the salmon was on the grill, Catharine made a classic Caesar salad complete with anchovies and egg yolk. We popped a baguette in the oven to warm after the potatoes finished roasting.

And, oh, the deliciousness! Many yummy noises around the table. Catharine said, “this is the best salmon I've ever eaten.”

We ended the evening in the living room, with our feet propped up on the table, eating an utterly divine classic cheese cake from Gotti Sweets.

And, what a wonderful slumber party! The next morning, fresh ground coffee, an amazing frittata, and cold, smoked wild salmon still on its plank! Much laughing.  Much talking. Much about Smokey and Phil sharing a birthday!

A perfect birthday getaway! Sooo, here’s my recommendation: if you have a birthday coming up, grab your family or a group of friends and stay in one of Catharine and Phil’s cabins. The perfect combination: Not only the perfect birthday but the perfect getaway, as well.

Connect with those you love. 
Enjoy a celebration vacation.

Oh, Phil and Smokey’s birthday? Shhhh! Apparently, you can’t believe everything you hear on the radio.

Grateful every day for lovely friends to celebrate with.

Reserve Now! The Beach House at Pirates Cove on Puget Sound

KING5 and Evening Magazine ~ Voted Best Cabins 2 years in a row! 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Come for Your Alaska Cruise; Stay for the Mountain

Spring is nearly upon us (though, if truth be told, it's come early for those of us in the Puget Sound region.) The cherry trees have been in bloom since the end of February. It's been a riotous profusion of pink and white lacey limbs in yards and along streets throughout the region for the last month. With the pink dogwood and magnolia soon to follow, we are enjoying all the hopeful signs winter is over. 

The reason I mention this is because it's nearly time for the Alaska Cruise tour season. Sailings start in April and go through September. So, whether you are sailing on Holland America or Norwegian or Princess or Carnival or Royal Caribbean or Celebrity or, if you just can't think of what to do with $10,000, there is Lindblad Expeditions, if you are planning a cruise to Alaska, come for the cruise but stay for the Mountain. 

The truth about cruises to Alaska is there are lots of options in a wide range of prices but . . . there is only one Mount Rainier and for the most part, it's free for all of us to enjoy. 

So, I'm recommending you come for the cruise and stay for the Mountain. Come early for a few days before you sail to unwind from your day-to-day routine. Refresh, breathe deeply and embrace the zen of a well-earned retreat. Or, continue the joys of the Alaskan coast with its craggy cliffs, calving glaciers, starry skies and bright blue days and relax at the foot of Mount Rainier in one of the cabins at Copper Creek Inn and Resorts.

Located just outside the Nisqually Gate to Mount Rainier, Copper Creek has been a stopover for families with children, backpackers, day hikers, and travelers for over 60 years.

Under the inspired ownership of Catharine Gallagher and Phil Freeman, that tradition of homespun hospitality coupled with modern amenities makes Copper Creek Inn and Resort a natural addition to your regional vacation plans.

With properties from Stevens Pass with its white water rafting, hiking, biking, and clear cool nights to the Beach House or Caboose with 850' of waterfront on Puget Sound to the cabins at Mount Rainier, you have a score of lodging options to choose from.

Gentle reminder: come for the cruise; stay for the Mountain.

I’m just sayin’. . .

Grateful every day for misty rain and fragrant air.

KING5 and Evening Magazine ~ Voted Best Cabins 2 years in a row!