2018 Holiday Gift Guide by Rachel Alvarez Art

My Story.

I don’t know about you, but I always have the hardest time trying to think of gifts for my loved ones. Whether they are young or old, my mind gets swamped with ideas and information and I usually end up settling for a simple, easy to please them….gift card.

That’s why this year I thought it would be fun to help out my art followers with some easy gift ideas so they can cross off some people on their list.

So, here goes!

For the traveler on your list: 

  • this US travel tracker map. Formatted from 50 individual watercolor paintings, you won’t see anything like it! Each weatherproof vinyl decal can be placed individually so that your wanderluster can celebrate the places that they’ve checked off!

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For the coffee lover (or new mom 😉 ) 

  • the brunette version seen below was originally painted on International Women’s Day. You can read the full reason why here. I’m looking forward to expanding this series as time allows. So fun to paint!

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For the long-distance family or friend:

  • tell them you can’t live without them- even across the miles- with this customizable long distance love art print. (also great for wedding and anniversary gifts!)

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For the college student: 

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For the foodie or chef:

  • Help them bring a splash of color to their walls (not just their meals) with these pretty watercolor fruit and herb prints. (Also available as blank notecards.)

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For the vintage lover: 

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For the photographer: 

  • a little something to inspire them to share their gifts with the world: a camera sticker that they can put anywhere.

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For you: 

  • a way to celebrate the places you’ve made memories. All 50 state art prints available in standard, framable sizes- pop them in a frame and make your own beautiful gallery wall!

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For everyone on your list:  

  • gift cards, available in any denomination. Would they want a custom home portrait? Maybe a painting of their beloved pup? The sky is the limit when you let them pick something they will cherish forever.
  • donut notecards…because, who doesn’t love donuts?!

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So, there you go friends! Lots of ideas for everyone on your list.

Be sure to check out the full shop here: www.rachelalvarezart.com (also, you will get a 10% coupon if you sign up for the newsletter!)

Have a wonderful holiday, everyone!

– Rachel

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5 Fun Seattle Neighborhoods to Explore

50 state stickers blog series

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Written by guest bloggers: Adam & Kathryn 

5 Fun Seattle Neighborhoods to Explore

One of the things that makes Seattle special are all of the quaint, unique, and fun neighborhoods that surround the city. As you walk the tree lined streets, you often forget that you’re just a few miles from downtown. We love having the ability to escape the hustle and bustle of the city so easily and love the different personalities that each neighborhood has.

Here are our five favorite Seattle neighborhoods (it was so hard to choose!) and some of the top restaurants, coffee shops, and things to do in each one. Whether you’re a Seattleite or planning a trip to Seattle in the future, we hope that this helps you discover new spots within the city!

PS: If you are looking for an itinerary for Seattle, check out our 3 Days in Seattle guide, which features most of these neighborhoods.

Upper Queen Anne

Kerry park

Upper Queen Anne is where we call home and we absolutely love this gem of a neighborhood! Upper Queen Anne is less touristy than some of the other neighborhoods on this list, as it’s a quieter, family-friendly area with less trendy restaurants. However, it’s still filled with so many great spots, including our favorite view of the city!

Where to eat: We admittedly have not eaten at many of the restaurants in Queen Anne, partially due to the fact that we don’t eat out that much and also because we are usually out exploring other areas. However, there are a handful of super great restaurants in Queen Anne worth checking out: Bounty Kitchen, 5 Spot, Macrina Bakery & Cafe, Bite Box, Mezcaleria Oaxaca, Homegrown, and How to Cook a Wolf (pricey!). For dessert, we recommend Molly Moon’s Ice Cream!

Coffee Shops: Our favorite coffee shop in Queen Anne is El Diablo, which is a cuban-inspired cafe with great coffee, awesome breakfast sandwiches, and great indoor and outdoor spaces for working or hanging out. Some other coffee shops we love in the neighborhood are The Wick Motorcycles and Coffee (a joint motorcycle and coffee shop!) and Storyville Coffee.

Thing to do: By far the best thing to do in Queen Anne is Kerry Park, which actually isn’t much of a park, but it is a beautiful scenic viewpoint overlooking the Seattle skyline, Puget Sound, and on a clear day, Mount Rainier. This is one of our top must do things in Seattle! While you’re at Kerry Park, make sure to continue walking down Highland Drive to see some crazy big and beautiful houses, as well as check out the other viewpoint at the end of the street. And for Grey’s Anatomy fans, the house from the show is located right around this area too!

Ballard

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Ballard is probably our favorite neighborhood in Seattle. Its tree lined streets, great restaurants, bars, and cute shops make it such a fun area to explore!

Where to eat: One of our favorite restaurants in Seattle, Asadero, is in Ballard. This is a steak lover’s paradise! Their carne asada is a good price for the size (and totally shareable!) and their homemade guacamole and salsas are so good! Some other great spots in Ballard include Pestle Rock, Biscuit and Bean, Un Bien (a little north of Ballard, but super close!), Cafe Besalu, and The Walrus and the Carpenter (if you’re feeling fancy!). For dessert, make sure you swing by Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery!

Coffee Shops: Ballard is home to many coffee shops! Some of our favorites include: Ballard Coffee Works, Slate Coffee Roasters, and Cafe Umbria. Slate Coffee Roasters does something pretty unique that is worth trying–a deconstructed latte, which is a latte broken up into three glasses. One has espresso, one has milk, and one has a traditional latte and the purpose is to taste the elements separately from one another. It’s a cool thing to try once!

Things to do: There is no shortage of things to do in Ballard! The neighborhood has a lot of Scandinavian and maritime history, as it’s right by the water. One super unique thing to do in the area is check out the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, where you can watch boats go from Lake Washington and Lake Union into the Puget Sound. It’s surprisingly very interesting! You can also watch salmon migrate up a fish ladder in the summer months. Another one of our favorite attractions near Ballard is Golden Gardens Park, which is a beach on the Puget Sound with views of the Olympic Mountains. This is a great place to relax for a couple hours, have a picnic, and watch the sunset. On Sundays, one of the best things to do in Seattle is go to the Ballard Farmers Market. This is our favorite market in town and features tons of local vendors–make sure to go hungry! And lastly, Ballard is home to many breweries, including Stoup Brewing and Reuben’s Brews, which makes it a great neighborhood to go brewery hopping.

Fremont

Fremont Troll

Gas Works Park

Fremont is known as the Center of the Universe and is a quirky and fun neighborhood across Lake Union from downtown Seattle. Similar to Ballard, the streets are tree lined and we could spend hours walking around the area.

Where to eat: Two of our top restaurants in Seattle are in Fremont: Stoneway Cafe and Uneeda Burger. Stoneway Cafe is our go-to quick spot for affordable and fresh food (almost everything is under $10). They serve breakfast all day and we love their breakfast burrito, their pulled pork, and their salads. Uneeda Burger is an order at the counter burger spot cranking out high quality, fancy burgers and amazing fries. They have an awesome outdoor patio for those non rainy Seattle days. A handful of other popular spots in Fremont include: Royal Grinders, SWeL, Manolin, and RockCreek Seafood & Spirits.

Coffee Shops: Fremont, just like the rest of Seattle is full of great coffee shops. A few top shops to check out are: Milstead, MiiR, and Fremont Coffee. Milstead is a delicious coffee shop right by the Fremont Troll and close to Gasworks Park, making it super convenient for anyone exploring those areas. MiiR is a pretty unique place to grab coffee, as it’s a small outdoor gear shop that also serves coffee and beer, while Fremont Coffee is in an old house and has a nice cozy vibe.

Things to do:  Some of our favorite tourist attractions in Seattle happen to be in Fremont. First up, Gas Works Park, which is is unlike anything we have ever seen before. It’s a former gasification plant on Lake Union that is now a park with views of Seattle. It’s a great picnic and kite flying spot and you can also watch the seaplanes take off and land! It technically may be in the Wallingford neighborhood, but it’s so close to Fremont that we are going to include it anyways. 🙂 After exploring Gas Works Park, head to the Fremont Troll which is one of the weirdest and most random landmarks in Seattle, but makes for a great photo opp! It is a huge sculpture of a troll crushing a VW bug underneath a bridge and is fun to climb on. If you love chocolate, you must check out the Theo Chocolate Tour. Theo is a local chocolate factory and during the hour long tour (which is only $10) you get tons of free chocolate samples! You also get to learn a lot about the chocolate making process. Lastly, the Fremont Sunday Street Market, similar to the Ballard Farmers Market, is a market full of local vendors. The Fremont market is a bit different because it’s indoors and outdoors and is more of a flea market than a produce and food item market.

West Seattle

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West Seattle, as the name implies, is the area west of downtown Seattle and has an awesome laid back beach town vibe. With a large beach, views of the city and mountains, and miles of beachfront biking and walking paths, there is no better place to be in the city on a sunny summer day!

Where to eat: Whenever we go to West Seattle we always go to the same place to eat: Marination Ma Kai. This Hawaiian fusion restaurant is right on the water, has breathtaking views of Seattle, delicious food (try the kimchi fried rice!), and is pretty affordable. You can also take the water taxi from downtown Seattle to West Seattle and it drops you off right in front of the restaurant. If you’re not craving Hawaiian food, we recommend checking out Husky Deli and The Swinery for sandwiches or Cactus for Mexican food with a view.

Coffee Shops: If you’re in need of caffeine while exploring West Seattle, we highly suggest getting a cup of coffee at Sound & Fog, Olympia Coffee, or Realfine Coffee. We can’t pick a favorite among the three–they are all great!

Things to do:  The big appeal of West Seattle is its proximity to the water and it’s no surprise that the best activities in the area are water related! Our must-do item while over in West Seattle is to spend some time at Alki Beach. There are volleyball courts, fire pits, lots of space to lay out, and amazing views of the mountains and city. The water isn’t the best for swimming, so we recommend renting a kayak or stand up paddle board to actually get out on the water. And if you’re lucky, you may see a seal! When we aren’t at Alki Beach in West Seattle, you can usually find us at Lincoln Park, which is a little south of the main area, but has nice walking trails, water access, picnic spots, and mountain views.

Capitol Hill

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Capitol Hill is a bustling, colorful, hip neighborhood just east of downtown Seattle, known for being the city’s LGBTQ hub and home of Seattle’s nightlife. It’s probably Seattle’s most popular neighborhood and is full of Seattle’s top restaurants and coffee shops!

Where to eat: Our all time favorite place to eat in Seattle is an amazing taco shop called Tacos Chukis. Their original location is in Capitol Hill and is a bit of a hole in the wall, but their signature Tacos Chukis tacos with pineapple are so delicious! A few other great spots to check out include: Witness, Fogón Cocina Mexicana, Mamnoon,and Cascina Spinasse. For a sweet treat, we love Frankie & Jo’s, a vegan and plant based ice cream shop with the best waffle cones ever. Verve Bowls, for acai bowls, and General Porpoise, for filled doughnuts, are two more super cute options to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Coffee Shops: If you’re looking for coffee paradise, head to Capitol Hill! There are way too many great coffee shops to list here, so we’re sticking to some of our absolute favorites! For coffee and an awesome experience, visit the Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room. This is unlike any Starbucks you have ever been to. You can watch them roast and package coffee, as well as try drinks that aren’t available at regular Starbucks. For another unique coffee shop experience, head to Ada’s Technical Books and Cafe, which is a technical bookstore and coffee shop, with great coffee, food, and really neat tables that are full of trinkets. We love going here to work! For more traditional coffee shop vibes, Victrola Coffee and Capitol Coffee Works are both solid coffee shops in the heart of Capitol Hill.

Things to do: As we mentioned above, the Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room is a super cool experience and one of our favorite activities in Capitol Hill. Another thing we love to do in this area is walk around the shops. A few awesome shops to check out are The Elliott Bay Book Company, Standard Goods, Glasswing, and Retrofit Home. For those of you who love to go out, Capitol Hill is full of fun bars and clubs. We hardly ever go out, but we have been to Rock Box, which is a super fun karaoke bar where you can rent out your own karaoke room with friends. A few other popular spots are Unicorn, Sun Liquor, and Pie Bar. While Capitol Hill is known for its going out scene, it’s also home to the beautiful Volunteer Park and Conservatory, which is nice escape from the hustle and bustle of Capitol Hill. We love going into the conservatory and seeing all of the unique plants, as well as going to the top of the water tower for great views of the city and mountains!

And that’s a wrap on our 5 favorite neighborhoods in Seattle! We absolutely love this city and the little areas that make it special. Now that you have a list of many of Seattle’s neighborhood gems, it’s time to get exploring. Which spot will you head to first?

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About Us

We’re Adam and Kathryn, an adventurous married couple living in Seattle. You can often find us driving all around the PNW on the weekends, cuddling our fur child Kona, scoping out the best coffee shops, eating tacos, climbing mountains, and dreaming about Hawaii. Our goal is to make travel planning easier for others by blogging about our adventures and creating free travel guides for the cities we visit. Come explore with us at Adventures of A+K!

 

 

This blog series features fine artists, makers and photographers from all 50 states as part of a #50statestickers project by Rachel Alvarez Art. You can see the inspiration for this series here: www.rachelalvarezart.com
Thank you so much for following along!

Greetings from Austin

50 state stickers blog series

Written by guest blogger: Candace Perry

Austin, Texas is known for The Longhorns, barbeque, and being the Live Music Capital of the World. It boast great events like South by Southwest (SXSW) and Austin City Limits (ACL), but Austin has so much more to offer.

We were in Austin for my daughter’s birthday this year, so we decided to visit a few of its well known places. We have lived in Austin for 4 years, but had never checked out these sights.

The first place we wanted to see was the Greetings from Austin mural, so we headed downtown to the corner of South First and Annie Street.  The kids enjoyed looking at the details of the mural and getting their picture in front of it. The mural was originally painted in 1998 by local artist and business owner Todd Sanders, and was restored in the fall of 2013. Today, it is one of the most recognizable images associated with the city. 

Austin Mural

Next we went to a place where you can be the artist, The Graffiti Wall. Sadly this installation will be moving to make way for condos, but it was definitely a part of the Keep Austin Weird movement, and a great way for people to express themselves. There are so many talented people in this world and it was amazing to see all of the unique beautiful art created with just a can of spray paint. The birthday girl even found a painting that had been created and dated that day. 

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Zilker Park is 350 acre park in the middle of Austin. We were there just for the playground, which was pretty spectacular, but it also has a naturally formed Barton Springs swimming hole, a mini train, disc golf, soccer fields and great green spaces just to hang out. The kids had a blast running around to the different playground areas, including one made from a vintage fire engine.

If you want to get out and enjoy nature, in Austin, you can do that too! In the middle of the city we found a beautiful trail; River Place Nature Trail. You’ll want to get an early start if you decide to hike this trail in the summer. It warms up quick and the trees hold in the moisture, so it gets really humid. The trail was scenic, with a few small waterfalls, and the lake at the trail head was full of turtles.  We did the Panther Hollow and Little Fern Trail. From start to finish it was 2 miles, but if you add the Canyon Trail it totals about 6 miles. We weren’t quite up for that, but it is a place that we are likely to visit again.

While these places may not be the reason you come to Austin, they are fun places to check out that are family friendly that give a sense of what Austin is all about.

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Candace Perry is a crafter, blogger and mother of five, who for the last year has been traveling the United States in an RV, exploring the history and the natural wonders of the country. When she is not roaming and homeschooling her children, you will find her crocheting, sewing, and capturing family memories with her camera.

You can find her handmade crochet items at MyRedBalloonBouquet.com and you can follow her family’s journey at RainbowsAndRainBoots.com

 

 

This blog series will feature fine artists, makers and photographers from all 50 states as part of a #50statestickers project by Rachel Alvarez Art. You can see the inspiration for this series here: www.rachelalvarezart.com
Thank you so much for following along!