Mother’s Day is Right Around the Corner: Best Gift Ideas!

Do you find yourself stumped every year, scrambling around to try and find the perfect gift for your Mother, who seems to already have everything you can imagine? Do you wind up getting something safe and uninspiring year after year, resorting to a 99 cent card and hand written poem you have stored on your computer’s hard drive?  I can safely assume we’ve all been guilty at one point in time of last minute shopping when we’re down to the wire and wind up with an impulse buy, maybe something that you yourself would enjoy a little more than Mom. This year it might be time to plan a week or two ahead, and get your Mother something unexpected. Here is a list of things you might find inspiring to get for her this Mother’s Day weekend:

1. Is she a fabulous cook? Whether she needs it or not, a cooking class from Seattle Hipcooks in South Lake Union might be the perfect treat.

2. Does your mom love jewelry and recycling? why not get her a recycled sterling silver necklace from Uncommon Goods.

3. Is she a tech whiz? If your mom has had her new Ipad 3 longer than you have, get her a new Mother’s Day inspired Ipad case!

4. Is she hopelessly in Love with Seattle? Get her something personally homemade from Etsy!

5. Is she remodeling? The new West Elm in Seattle is full of inspiring decor she’ll love, or grab her a giftcard.

6. Every Mom appreciates a good musical; take her to the theatre! The 5th Avenue’s summer schedule is out now.

7. Does she have a green thumb? Whether she does or not lend her a hand! Help her garden grow by getting her the best fragrant plants in her garden.

8. Still stumped…check her pinterest account and see what she’s pinning these days, or if she has a wishlist board waiting for you!

9. Or if you’re on a budget, here is a list of free Mother’s Day activities from CBS that you can take her to and enjoy a day just the two of you.

Seattle Apartment Vacancy Rate at All Time Low Now, but Will Ballard be Overbuilt?

Ballard Hjarta IIAccording to a Seattle Times article, apartment vacancy rates in Seattle are at an all-time low. In the past few years, the Seattle rental market, especially in Ballard, has shifted from a tenant-market to a landlord-market. What does that mean for people searching for apartments? High rents.

Using the basic economic theory of supply and demand, there hasn’t been much new supply. The amount of new apartments is one-third of what was offered in 2009. Additionally, demand is higher, MUCH higher. People who can afford houses are fearful to buy, so they are staying in apartments, despite the evidence that it may be more affordable to buy. Additionally (and this is my own theory), the economy is picking up, meaning more young professionals can afford to move out or live with fewer roommates than before. Demand has skyrocketed and that has caused the Seattle vacancy rate to be under 5%! The higher rents are definitely noticeable in Ballard.

Fortunately, Ballard is working hard to meet that demand. It is impossible to not see the cranes that dot the horizon as you look across Market or look up 15th or 24th. Tenants should feel some rent relief in the next year or so. However, some are worried that Ballard may be overbuilt. In my opinion, I think people will continue to flock to the neighborhood. But I’ve said that in previous posts. What do you think?

If you’re interested in seeing what’s available in the apartment market in Ballard and the surrounding areas, use the search tool here.

New Ballard Restaurant: The Gerald

Ballardites, add a new restaurant to your radar. The space at 5210 Ballard Avenue will now be known as The Gerald, a restaurant/bar tapping into our desire for American comfort food. In an effort to fill the void created when Denny’s was torn down, The Gerald will be offering classic American diner options, such as Mac ‘n cheese. For the full menu options, please check out its website.

Perusing the menu, you know that I’ll be checking this place out in the next few weeks for three reasons:

  1. Poutine –  The heart attack-inducing food, poutine, is fries smothered in gravy and cheese curds. Slowly but surely, the Canadian classic has been sneaking down south in to the States. So, I cannot wait to taste The Gerald’s poutine creation.
  2. Swedish Meatballs– Despite living in the Nordic capital of Seattle, it is surprisingly difficult to find a place that serves Swedish meatballs. The only place I know that serves Swedish meatballs in Ballard is The Copper Gate. Besides that, the only option to satisfy my craving was to hop in a car and get lost in a Swedish maze of modern home furnishings that is IKEA. Now that The Gerald is open, you can bet I will order the Swedish meatballs. Thank you, The Gerald, for honoring Ballard’s Nordic roots.
  3. Cocktails – The Gerald offers an intriguing cocktail menu, inspired by the 50s and 60s. Highlights include the numerous gin cocktail options (the Ruby Gin Fizz, the Gimlet, and the James Bond-inspired Vesper), various ginger options, and more. I cannot wait to sip on a Silent Third while enjoying a sunny afternoon. Wouldn’t you like to try a “sexy coupling of lemon & vanilla,” otherwise known as the Sidecar? Oo, I’m thirsty!

The Gerald looks like a restaurant-bar hybrid. In the sea of restaurants and bars in Ballard,  it will be interesting to see how this one succeeds, as there are a few other restaurants that offer the comfort food options. It opens tonight, but an official grand opening will happen in the next few weeks. If you stop by, tell me what you think!

Don’t forget to check out The Gerald’s Facebook!

Celebrate Norwegian Heritage Day and Run the Leif-to-Leif 5K in Ballard

Couldn’t get enough of the St.Paddy’s Day Dash, but still a traditional Ballardite at heart? Lace up your red, white, and blue running shoes and warm up for the Leif-to-Leif 5K Run/Walk this Saturday, March 24th. The race goes from the Leif Erikson Lodge to the Leif Erikson statue at Shilshole Marina and back. Check-in begins at 8am and the race starts at 9am. For more information, please visit the Leif Erickson Lodge website. It’s all a part of the Norwegian Heritage Celebration taking place in Ballard.

If running isn’t your forte, you can still honor Norwegian Cultural and Heritage Day. The Leif Erikson Lodge is hosting numerous family-friendly activities to participate in, including a Taste of Norway. Starting at 10am, you can sample traditional Norwegian cuisine, such as pickled herring, krumkake, smorbord (open faced sandwiches), rommegrot (cream porridge), and more. Kids can enjoy arts and crafts, and even dance to the traditional Norwegian music, provided by the various choirs and bands. For more information, please visit the Norway Embassy website here.

Embrace your inner Norwegian (whether truly or honorary) and stop by the Leif Erikson Lodge on Saturday, March 24th. Festivities will go from 10am – 4pm. Admission is free. It will truly be an event honoring the culture of the people who settled Ballard and made it what it is today.

Ballard Bridge Gets a New Paint Job

With the weather still fairing, we’ve been waiting for the Ballard Bridge paint project to take off, but the project was postponed from it’s original scheduled date of March 11th to March 15th, and had to be rescheduled again to begin yesterday, due to eery weather conditions. The contractor of the project is planning to close one Southbound lane of traffic during the week, now through April. This lane will remain open during peak traffic hours but will be closed from 10am-6pm Tues-Fri, and in the evening from 8pm-6am Mon-Thurs.

Parking Prices Change Around Town

If your a driver stopping in and around the Seattle area, you might want to pay attention to the parking rate changes in several neighborhoods. According to the  Seattle Department of Transportation, 10 areas around town will see hourly rates extended to 4 hours, or all day parking available, and 5 areas will see an increase of .25/hr or .50/hr to the going rate. No paid parking changes will be made to the Fremont, First Hill, Green Lake or Cherry Hill areas. Please visit the SDOT for further details.

Ballard Coffee Works Will Open March 24th

If you’ve been out and about in Ballard, I’m sure that you’ve noticed progress being made on the former Tully’s space on 22nd and Market, otherwise known as the future Ballard Coffee Works space. As I mentioned in a previous blog, Seattle Coffee Works will be expanding and building a new store in that location. Last Sunday, I saw people painting the store frames, prepping it for opening. But, when will I be able to get my Ballard coffee fix?!

According to the Ballard News-Tribune, the Ballard Coffee Works is scheduled to open Saturday, March 24th. I cannot wait to sit inside and try a cup of its gourmet coffee. In the meantime, I’ll go to the Seattle Coffee Works on 1st and Pike. If you’d like more information, please visit its blog at


Ballard to See Changes to its Bus Route

Ballardites, if you take the bus, pay attention. According to the Ballard News-Tribune, Ballard will be receiving a Rapid Ride, known as Rapid Ride D. It’ll make for a fast connection from Ballard to downtown Seattle, similar to the 15X, but with different stops and at all normal bus hours. The Rapid Ride D line will be slower than the 15X, but will offer more frequent service, better facilities, and more. Fortunately, the Ballardites spoke loud and clear at a recent Metro meeting, and the 15X will be kept, along with the Rapid Ride D. However, the local 15 route will be replaced with the Rapid Ride line D.

Stay tuned for updates on how the Rapid Ride D will impact other bus routes in the Ballard area. As of right now, the plan is for the 18 route to go through Fremont, Route 24 will change, and Route 46 will be eliminated. I’m eager to see the impact that the Rapid Ride will have on Ballard.

Is North Ballard Seattle’s Best Kept Secret?

Trulia recently released a report analyzing neighborhoods that locals look at but out-of-towners frequently look over in the daunting home searching quest. These would be considered a city’s best kept secret. According to the report, summarized in the Seattle P.I., Ballard’s zip code of 98117 is Seattle’s best kept secret. Encompassing Loyal Heights, Crown Hill, North Beach, Whittier Heights, and Greenwood, the 98117 zipcode offers quietly upscale homes without the expensive prices. Personally, I live in the 98117 zip code and think it is a fantastic neighborhood. It offers lots of restaurants and stores, yet still has a neighborhood feel to it.

What do you think? Do you think 98117 is Seattle’s best kept secret?

Seattle Funding Precinct – Liaison Attorneys

When there is a public safety issue or a chronic neighbor nuisance, it’s not always most efficient or effective to call 911. Sometimes, it’s best to go through a precinct-liaison program. Up until now, Seattle budget cutbacks have prevented funding to such programs.  According to a Seattle Times article, the Seattle City Council has restored funding to allow four attorney liaisons in  Seattle’s five police precincts.

For the Ballard area, your precinct liaison attorney is Jana Jorgensen. Starting in mid-February, you can contact her as a resource to solve neighborhood issues, like nuisance properties, feuding neighbors, and gang activity. Additionally, she lives in the North precinct, so she has a vested interest in the public safety issues of Ballard and the surrounding neighborhoods. With a precinct liaison attorney, it increases the police capabilities, using legal means to solve community issues. You can contact her at 206-684-7765 for your community needs, starting mid-February. To view the precinct-liaison attorneys in the other precincts of Seattle or for more information, please visit the Seattle Times article.