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If you’re new to the Seattle you’ll quickly learn that Summers in Seattle can be enchanting with their perfect weather and long summer days. If you’re looking for things to do around Seattle there are dozens of parks in and around the city that have big and small concert series that you can check out. Or depending on your new neighborhood you can stick around and walk with a blanket and a pair of flip flops to your favorite park. The summertime is festival season and anything goes, and the best part is that most most summertime events are child-friendly.

Marymoor Concert Series from July 14, – September 8, a jam-packed musical summer is about to begin at Marymoor with 13 bands playing; Cake, Slightly Stoopid, Death Cab for Cutie and Lionel Richie are just a few of the big names gearing up for a summer in Seattle. Kids aren’t left out of this concert series line up, Nickelodeon’s Jojo Siwa will be performing for the littles on August 18.

Jam Fest July 18, from 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. a full music fest with musicians peppered throughout the alleys and walkways will be playing throughout historic Chinatown Seattle. This area has a long and interesting history. Jam Fest is a great excuse to get out and experience the street scene, food and of course the variety of music. Come out for the tenth year in a row of Jam Fest and enter with only a suggested donation.

Darrington Bluegrass Festival July 19, – 21, if you love Bluegrass, it’s worth your time to take a lovely drive North to the incredibly beautiful town of Darrington. It’s a small town in the foothills with an unbelievable Cascade mountain backdrop framing every portrait for two and a half full days of bluegrass bands. This festival has been celebrated every year since the 1950s. Visitors camp out on the grounds for an around the clock weekend celebration.

Capitol Hill Block Party July 19, – 21, join thousands of others to enjoy a packed line up of over 100 local and international bands playing day and night on East Pike Street, 10th, 11th and 12th Avenue This is the block party to end all block parties.

Zoo Tunes, from country music to 80’s rock, to Feist, check the Woodland Park calendar for dates. Shows play randomly throughout the week from July 21, – August 28, you and the animals can enjoy live music at the zoo. Buy tickets now; bands are selling out quickly. Proceeds go to fund conservation, animal care, and education.

Downtown Summer Sounds runs almost daily from July through August and could possibly be the most exciting of all the concert series. You might happen upon any of the concerts at any given time. The shows are free and unassuming, and they pop up regularly throughout downtown at parks across Seattle. Check the busy schedule all over the city. Seattle gets back to its musical roots as a city of local expression, and earthy love for the arts during this phenomenal concert series that is sure to surprise locals and visitors. Make sure to check the full line up and don’t miss a minute, bring your kids, dogs, and picnics so you can sit and stay a while.

Free Summer Concerts at the Locks, music is so prominent in Seattle that even the Army gets involved. June through September free, live music concerts are held on the lock’s grounds. Big brass, orchestras, and jazz bands play free on the green. Bring some snacks and get classy.

Concerts at Seattle Center Every Friday throughout August families and singles can appreciate shows located at the mural at the Seattle Center. Each Friday three bands play starting at 5:30 p.m. with free entry on a first come, first serve basis. Bring the kids, food trucks will be onsite, but there are no queues for a picnic.

South Lake Union Block Party August 9, this is a fun, well-rounded event for all ages for a good cause. Local businesses get involved with art, food, and of course live music. All the proceeds go to job training for the homeless.

North City Jazz Walk August 13, head up North to Shoreline for eleven jazz bands playing in businesses all over town, a church, a door store, an animal hospital, tap houses, and the water district are just a few of the venues. Several are open to the public. Street food and noshes are available at most of the sites.

Bumbershoot from August 30 – September 1, on Labor Day weekend, Bumbershoot is an iconic Seattle festival and is a celebration of art, music, comedy and so much more. It’s an institution that’s been going on in Seattle for almost 50 years with dozens of artists. Check out the line-up and be sure to buy your tickets early, people come from far and wide every year to catch this festival.

No matter where you go, the common theme in Western Washington is to get outside. Bring out the family and enjoy art, culture, and the great outdoors. Happy Summer!

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Let’s talk about your master bedroom. Here’s where you can bring your comfort dreams to life: the fluffiest pillows, the softest sheets, the most soothing wall colors. But putting that room together without a list can lead to a lot of trips back to Bed, Bath & Beyond after forgetting pillowcases or light bulbs for your bedside lamps.

That’s why we’ve put together a basic checklist of what you’ll need to complete your perfect master bedroom.

Start The List Lying Down

They say you spend a third of your life sleeping, right? You better make that sleep count. That’s why our checklist starts with your bed and everything on it.

It’s Time to Upgrade That Mattress

When was the last time you bought a new mattress? It’s recommended that you replace your every 7 to 10 years, but how well have you treated your mattress over the years? Remember, you’re putting together a dream room ready for a perfect night’s sleep. Consider treating yourself to a new mattress and don’t forget the mattress protector!

  • Mattress
  • Box Spring
  • Bedframe
  • Headboard/Footboard (optional depending on your style)

Dress Up Those Linens!

Does anything feel better than falling asleep underneath brand new, clean sheets? Pick up a new set (or two) of matching sheets, pillowcases, and duvet covers. Look for higher thread count, moisture-wicking fabric for the most comfortable night’s sleep imaginable.

  • Sheets
  • Fitted Sheets
  • Pillow Cases
  • Duvet Covers
  • Throws or Blankets

Decorative or Accent Pieces

Decorative accessories add a fun splash of personality to your owner’s bedroom. Match these pieces to your walls or drapes – go for bold prints or soothing colors, whatever feels right for you. Have fun with it!

  • Throw pillows
  • Patterned throws
  • Bedskirt

Brighten Up Your Day (Or Night)

Light up the room with more than just your smile! We’re talking about bedside table lamps, overhead lighting, and decorative lighting. Continue to tie the room together with lighting features that match the room’s style.

  • Bedside table lamps (you’ll want two!)
  • Overhead lighting with soft lightbulbs
  • Color-changing LED lights (strands or pucks placed around the room)

It’s Easy Being Green

Add a literal breath of fresh air to your master bedroom with some greenery! Vibrant plants are great for adding color and life to a room. It’s wonderful to wake up each morning to a sunny bedroom and a happy plant or two.

Here are some of the best plants to keep in a bedroom:

  • Peace Lily
  • Parlor Palm
  • English Ivy
  • Snake Plant
  • Corn Plant

Keep Out the Clutter – Put Your Clothes Away!

Nothing brings chaos to an otherwise orderly room than clothes scattered across the floor or draped over chairs. Keep your owner’s bedroom peaceful and calm by keeping your clothes inline:

  • Dresser
  • Armoire
  • Closet dresser organizer
  • Closet shelving

No two master bedrooms are alike. Maybe yours includes a bathroom suite or a cozy reading corner off to the side, perfect for a loveseat and side table. Once you’ve mastered the basics – putting together an ideal sleeping experience and bringing in light and life – then you can start tackling those areas. We hope this checklist has helped you start bringing your dream bedroom to life!

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The Fourth of July is one of the best American holidays. This celebration of freedom couldn’t come at a better time of the year. The beginning of July in the Pacific Northwest already feels like a frenzy of freedom, the days are long, the sun is out, and the temperatures rise to a scorching 80 degrees. Fire up the kayaks and paddle boards and hit the lakes, it’s time to celebrate!

Firework displays explode in the sky all over the Puget Sound on the Fourth, so if you don’t want to brave the crowds at Lake Union, you have loads of other options. A bonus is that almost all of them are free to enter and you can bring a picnic, don’t forget the sunscreen. Most cities in King County ban fireworks, but if you’re interested in setting them off yourself check here for individual city codes and restrictions, here for an all-encompassing list of laws and regulations.

Uncorked Canvas in West Seattle, on July 3, kick off Independence Day Eve by grabbing a few friends and heading West to Uncorked Canvas. You can create your own fireworks explosions above the Space Needle. These you’ll be able to keep forever on canvas while you feed your inner artist. Maybe you’ll decide that you love painting, and this is just the beginning. Sign up soon; spaces are limited.

Seafair Summer 4th at Gasworks Park 12:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. & South Lake Union Park, 3:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. Join thousands of other firework revelers for a show that was voted one of the best in the country, starting at 10:00 p.m. It’s the largest festival in Seattle every year. Check the link for the complete schedule of events; both parks will have live music, food, and beer gardens all day. Come ready to hang out on the grass with incredible views on the lake.

Bellevue Family Fourth located at the Bellevue Connection, this event is kicking off bright and early at 9:00 a.m. with a fun, Four on the 4th 4k dog and human walk or jog. After the event stick around for a doggie costume contest. Bouncy houses, children’s activities, food and live music and fireworks starting at 10:00 p.m. the Bellevue Youth Symphony orchestra will serenade crowds throughout the show and after for a post-show set.

4th of July Seatac at Angle Lake Park, swimming is open for the fourth this year, a spray park, kids bounce houses and live music starts at 1:00 p.m. and runs all day long until the fireworks start at 10:00 p.m.

4th of July Renton located at the Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park, events begin at 8:00 a.m. for an all-day sand volleyball tournament. Kid’s activity zones, live music, and an onstage dance performance will entertain guests for over 12 hours of fun culminating in a 10:00 p.m. fireworks show for almost a full half hour.

An Edmonds kind of Fourth, kick off the day with a 5k or 1k family-friendly fun run/ walk and chase (a pretend) George Bracket, the founder of Edmonds through the streets. He’ll be the one with the big white beard. A competition scheduled after the run will have a winner for the best 4th of July costume.

Stay for a children’s and family parade, a beard and mustache contest with natural and anything goes category for anyone to participate, even if you can’t naturally grow a beard or mustache. The fireworks show will begin at 10:00 p.m.

Fourth on the Lake in Newcastle at Lake Boren Park, a low key, Newcastle type party begins at 6:00 p.m. the park will fill up with food vendors and residents. Pyrotechnicians will be onstage to answer all of your burning questions, starting at 6:30 p.m. The question and answer session will be followed by live music at 8:00 and fireworks at 10:00 p.m.

*A caring reminder; firework explosions are scary for your sweet furry friends, and more dogs and cats go missing during the 4th of July than any other day.

Keep pets closed up in an interior room or basement. A crate is a perfect space to put your dog or cat with lots of soft padding inside, drape blankets outside to absorb the noise with space for air. Set the crate in a cool back corner or basement, a fan, and radio in the background will help to drown out the booms and keep the air circulating and your pet cool.

Add your dog or cat’s favorite toy and treats, something to keep them occupied and distracted. Kongs stuffed with peanut butter, and dog treat puzzles are great to keep their minds off the noise. Lastly, thundershirts come recommended by vets, especially for dogs and cats with anxiety; it’s like a tight, secure hug that helps animals feel safe and calm.

Happy Fourth of July to you, your families and your furry friends!

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Being able to build a home from the ground up is so exciting. You’ve spent time pouring over your options and selecting the very best – from the color of the home the color of the flooring. Now it’s time to start putting those ideas into action. Here’s where all that excitement can turn to confusion if you’re not sure where you are in the process. You may be hearing terms flying around and have no idea what they are, or what comes next.

Whether you’re in the middle of buying a new home or just preparing for it, we’ve put together a quick glossary to help you understand what’s going on. Here are some terms you’ll undoubtedly come across as a new homeowner when you purchase a brand new pre-sale home.

Scraping

You’re starting to see some progress! Scraping is when your home’s future site is prepped for foundation work. The site’s protective grass layer is scraped away to reveal the dirt below. Once this happens, the crew can start building your future home’s foundation.

Pre-Construction & Selections Meeting

This one may seem self-explanatory, but this is a meeting between you, the American Classic Homes selections manager, and the construction manager to review your home plans. You’ll all make sure all the options you selected are then represented on the plans.

Once you’ve finalized everything, you’re ready to go! You can expect to start seeing your new home slowly but surely take shape after the pre-construction meeting.

Homeowner Orientation

Your new home has walls, floors, a ceiling, and you’re so close to moving in the excitement is palpable. All that’s left is your homeowner orientation. We’ll send you out to meet with the Customer Service manager to look over the almost finished house to walk the home and to learn the ins and outs of it.

Here, you’ll make sure the new home has been built following the plans, matches all of your chosen options, and that nothing is missing.

You will also go over your plumbing and additional home details and we’ll make sure you understand how to change filters, check for problems, and know where your emergency shutoffs are.

Now onto the next step…moving in! You’re finally ready to move into the house you’ve watched being built from the ground up. Or at least, you know what to expect when you finalize building plans and get to the pre-start process. Keep this glossary handy as you move through the building process, and you’ll be ready every step of the way.

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The sun is shining, and city calendars are overflowing with activities. Farmer’s markets, festivals, parades, and beer gardens are brimming all over the Seattle area.

There is so much to celebrate, blue skies, perfect weather, a sparkling Lake Washington and a market filled with creative, talented makers from around the country. Pull on your favorite summer outfit, grab some friends, and peruse the artsy side of the city.

Seattle:

  • Celebrate the First Thursday of every month except July in Occidental Square. Located just inland off of Pier 48 in where the ivy hangs thickly off of red brick buildings and the cruise ships drop thousands of passengers off flooding the streets with happy travelers. This lovely outdoor square is covered with overarching London Plane trees creating a beautiful shaded canopy overhead. Concrete ping pong tables will keep your kids happy while you shop. Every First Thursday from April through October except for in July, 55 of Seattle’s artisans set up booths here from 12-9:00 p.m., it has an atmosphere like a European market under the trees.
  • Art on the Rocks at the Bar Shoppe and Lounge is a neighboring event, and it’s also on the First Thursday of every month. Hit up the market then wander over to Art on the Rocks in Pioneer Square. They house a monthly art show with local artists who set up across three rooms inside the bar. You can enjoy craft cocktails and a DJ with no cover charge. If you haven’t yet discovered this venue you should give it a shot, it’s really cool. The bartenders are masters at their craft and are happy to customize drinks on the spot with only your preferences to go off. Take a look at their Facebook page; they’re beverage artists.
  • The Full Moon Market June 8 & 9, July 20 & 21, August 24 & 25, September 21 & 22 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. If you like modern jewelry, bohemian designs and clean, trendy looks this market is for you. Located in the Stumptown Coffee Roasters building downtown, a team of Pacific Northwest makers creates a fresh exchange of products that look like they leaped off a modern, stylish Pinterest board.
  • The SODO Flea Market located at the Epic Antique parking lot at 3701 7th Ave South takes place the second and last Saturdays of every month. Enjoy free parking at this event where you’ll find vintage and antique furniture from stylish local vendors. The SODO Flea Market was recognized as one of the best flea markets in the country. Don’t be fooled by the title; they house vendors selling more than the typical flea market finds. You’ll find products here like, handmade jewelry, dyed textiles, ceramics, vintage clothing, housewares, and even fresh cut flowers. Food and coffee trucks will keep you fueled up for the hunt.
  • Urban Craft Uprising 2019 Summer Show on June 22 & 23, 11:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. This is one of Seattle’s largest craft shows, it’s held at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall. People line up around the block to be one of the first ones in for this event. The whole family is welcome. Hopefully, you’ll leave with ambitions and creative ideas flooding your head for potential projects.
  • Urban Craft Market and The Seattle Street Food Festival held on July 6 & 7, Fourth of July weekend, a marriage of two of the best festivals ever have combined forces to drain your pocketbook and make your home awesome. A massive celebration of makers, artists, and chefs are working together to create this fabulous downtown festival located at 217 9th Avenue in Seattle. Bring the family; there will be something here for everyone.

Renton:

  • Rummage Sale July 20, from 3-9:00 p.m. Located at the Renton Pavilion Event Center. Come treasure hunt to find that perfect something you’ve been looking for to complete your home décor or a rare vintage cameo necklace. You never know what to expect at this annual event. The best part is, it doesn’t start until three o’clock in the afternoon. For those of you who never make it to early morning garage sales, this one’s for you.
  • Summerfest July 20, in the Piazza Park, Renton is celebrating summer alongside the Rummage Sale. Live music, an art exhibit, and food trucks will be open for business downtown. A beer garden will keep the adults happy, and the evening will end with an open-air movie in the park.

Meeting so many artists and crafters might inspire you to create something wonderful. Come and visit If not for the artists, for the food trucks, culinary inspiration is great too.

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This summer, challenge yourself to do something new, run a race with hundreds of others under the cool canopy of evergreens. Whether you’re a seasoned runner or new to the game, there are hundreds of competitions around the beautiful State of Washington this summer. Signing up for one will keep you on your toes and help you commit to a running plan.

For some, running is very addictive. The feeling of kicking off your dress shoes and lacing up your sneakers can be cathartic and feel amazing after a day of wearing work clothes. Plug in your earbuds and hit the trails. What happens next is euphoria. The workday stress melts away, and the daily commute disappears as you commune with the forest floor.

Pine needles crunch and soft summer breeze fill your nose. If you aren’t already a runner, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start years ago. The Pacific Northwest is a haven for runners, hundreds of miles of trails lace through towns and forests in all directions. A great way to start or continue running is to pick a race, every one of them has incredible greenery and beautiful forests towering overhead. Register early, the best ones go first.

It’s not too late to start the Summer Trail Run Series, every other Tuesday from May through August you can join a run with distances from 4k to 10k with different locations in Bellevue, Seattle, Redmond and Kenmore, each in a different park. Choose to run only one or make it an every other Tuesday tradition and run several. Your scores and times will be recorded so you can challenge yourself to beat your previous time with two weeks in between for training.

If you go often enough, you’ll meet other runners and discover new jogging spots along the way. At the end of each race, your hard work pays off with a cookout, veggie and pork hotdogs, and watermelon for dinner on these sunny summer evenings. Register now, if you’re ready to commit, there’s a discount for multiple races.

Taylor Mountain Trail Run, June 22, located halfway between Renton and Issaquah this trail goes right through the heart of the mountains. A 12.8-mile loop with a slow 1,900-foot ascent. Sign up for a half or full marathon through the beautiful Issaquah Alps. It can be steep in stretches and starts with a river crossing where you’ll get wet and cool off at the start.

Sunshine Salutation is one of the Summer Trail Run Series located at the Redmond Watershed June 25, at 6:30 p.m. choose to run 5 or 10 miles after work during the Eastside edition of the trail to grill run series. Take this course through the stunning Redmond Watershed, famous for soft, wide read: easy to pass, trails.

Cougar Mountain Trail Run Series #3 in Newcastle on July 13, join in on a 5k, 10.8- or 19.5-mile run benefiting King County Parks. Give back to a good cause for hundreds of runners who utilize their trail systems every day.

The Capitol One Torchlight Run in downtown Seattle on July 27. If you’re not a fan of trail runs choose the torchlight, it’s a 5 or 8k run through downtown and across the piers during the famous and historic Seafair festival covering a variety of events over ten weeks of celebrations.

Tiger Peak Challenge August 3, sign up for a half, full or 50 kilometers (31 miles) run through 13,745 acres of Tiger Mountain Park. The race covers two out of three mountain peaks at the park and finishes with flat trails to help you recharge while finishing strong.

Cougar Mountain Trail Run Series #4 in Newcastle on August 10, top your last time and distance from the Trail Series #3 during this race you’ll get another shot at the same trails during this 5k, 14.5- or 26.2-mile run through Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park.

Summer Blast at Redmond Watershed located in Redmond on August 17, only fifteen minutes North of Sammamish you can choose between 5 miles, 10 miles, half or full marathons to run in this lush, green, forested race.

Middle Fork Trail Run in North Bend on September 7, Just a quick 30-minute drive east from Sammamish and Renton. Choose a race of 10k, half marathon, 22 miles or a 50k. During the competition, you’ll follow the river valleys up and down through sloping valleys and mountain slopes with river views, through forests and incredible cliffs. Find detailed course descriptions on the website.

Run with the Kokanee at Lake Sammamish State Park in Issaquah on October 12. Run a short 5 or 10k race that’ll benefit recovery work for the Kokanee salmon living in the lake.

Enjoy the outdoors with a run, take note of how you feel before and after you begin running, for many, they sleep better, eat healthier, and are naturally happier. If you surround yourself with like-minded healthy trail runners, you may end up with a whole new community of friends in your new city.

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If you’ve just moved into a new home, it’s hard to imagine anything but that shiny, perfect interior and exterior. However, as a homeowner, you’re going to be putting a lot of time and energy into maintaining that home. When you start considering everything that needs to be updated, cleaned, and repaired over time, it can get a little overwhelming.

But you can prepare for regular maintenance by keeping this schedule in the back of your mind (or right in your Google calendar). That way, you can tackle these tasks head on and keep your home safe and secure for many years to come.

Monthly Tasks

Check and Change HVAC System Filters

Checking your filters each month is an easy way to avoid super expensive repairs later on. Plan to go around the house checking these filters at the same time each month; you can even build it into your regular monthly chores. Be sure to clean or replace filters when they get dirty.

Inspect Your Fire Extinguisher

Don’t wait for a full-blown grease fire to realize your fire extinguisher is outdated or worse, missing. Every monthly, take a look at your fire extinguisher(s) to make sure it’s easily accessible, has the right amount of pressure, and isn’t expired.

Clean Your Kitchen Range Hood

Range hood filters get grimy fast. You definitely don’t want to pull yours out a few months from now and find a thick layer of grease covering it. Use a degreaser to clean it, then rinse and dry before replacing thoroughly.

Check Water Softener

You won’t need to add salt to your water softener each month, but it’s a good idea to take a look and make sure.

Yearly Tasks

Replace Batteries in Your Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

There’s nothing more important than your family’s safety. Regularly check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they’re in working order. Once a year, replace all the batteries in those detectors. Don’t forget — plan to do this every year on the same day, like an anniversary, daylight savings, or a holiday.

Service Your HVAC System

Once a year, it’s a good idea to get your HVAC systems serviced by a professional. Clean systems are more energy-efficient, and you can stay ahead of potential issues by regularly serving these systems.

Vacuum Refrigerator Coils

You heard that right. As the fridge coils get dusty and dirty, they can suck up a ton of extra power. Keep your refrigerator running efficiently by vacuuming out all that grime.

Service and Prepare Air Conditioner (in the Spring)

Depending on whether your home uses window units or has central air, you’ll want to prepare your air conditioner before the hot weather rolls in. If you have a central air system, consider calling in a professional to service it and get it ready for summer.

Turn Off Outdoor Faucets, Unhook Hoses (in the Fall)

Prepare for colder weather by turning off your outdoor faucets and flushing them, and doing the same to your hoses. Unhook them and store them until the Spring.

There are other tasks you’ll want to do on a semi-regular basis to keep your home exterior maintained, like cleaning out your gutters in the Spring or cleaning out window wells in the summer. But the list above of monthly and yearly tasks are the most important ones to keep in mind to make sure you’re keeping your home up to date. With regular checks and repairs, you’ll be able to live in a safe and secure home for years to come.

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Social media is a big part of all our lives. Most of us use Facebook to stay connected to friends and family in different cities (or even countries!). And Instagram has let us take part in other peoples’ lives, whether it’s a new addition to their family, a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, or just day-to-day living.

These platforms are outlets for us to share big, exciting news with the people we love and care about. What could be bigger or more exciting than building a new home? Not only can you use these platforms to share the news – you’re building a home! – but you can take people along for the ride. Here are a few ways you can document and share your new home journey through social media.

Keep Your Friends & Family Updated

Use social media to document the home building process and give your friends and family updates on the process. Let them celebrate each milestone with you, even if they are hundreds of miles away. Regularly post updates and share photos of your new home as it’s being constructed.

They’re sure to offer words of encouragement and love, sharing in your excitement and joy each step along the way.

Reach Out to Your Followers for Style Input

As you know, there are a million decisions that go into building a new home. Like paint colors, flooring, kitchen cabinets and countertops, and so much more. While there are a lot of places to find inspiration, why not turn to your friends or family for ideas?

You could post photos of different rooms and ask for decorating advice or input. If you have particularly stylish friends or family, maybe reach out to them directly by tagging them in the photo. It’s a fun way to get people involved in the process and let people see the progress you’re making.

Create Photo Memories of Your Building Journey

Social platforms like Facebook make it super easy to create digital photo albums. By posting images of your new home in an album, you can both share it with your followers and keep a record of it for yourself. Years down the road, when you’re happily living in your new home, you will appreciate being able to look back at the process.

You’re going to be so busy in the next few months; you’ll hardly have time to really appreciate how amazing it is to build a home! Luckily, you can revisit these digital albums again and again to relive the journey.

Social media platforms are great for sharing updates and photos during your home building journey. Share learning moments and excitement with friends and family. Even better, each time you post you’re building digital photo albums you can revisit years from now.

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There’s nothing more exciting than Memorial Day in Seattle! The unofficial opening day of summer and a time to celebrate our freedom by remembering those who fought for it.

No matter how you’d like to spend the holiday, you don’t need to go far for museums, beach days, parks, shopping, or hiking. Try to put away your home projects and forget about work this weekend. It’s time to enjoy the sunshine and the beautiful State you call home. Celebrate like a Washingtonian and pull out the bicycle, fire up the grill and throw on a salmon or two. Living this close to the open water has its benefits.

Blue Star Museums is a program opening up on Memorial Day for active duty families granting them free access to participating museums all summer from Memorial Day to Labor Day. 27 Museums all over the Seattle and Tacoma area participate in the program. Art, history and children’s museums participate. There’s something for every age and interest level to enjoy with this fantastic service member benefit.

The Museum of Flight located in South Seattle, just below the Boeing Airfield, will be celebrating Memorial Day with live music by the Boeing Employee Concert Band and a special ceremony. Memorial Day is the grand opening of a brand-new Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park with a B-52G Stratofortress plane as the main focal point and a memorial statue and tribute wall. Guest speakers and jet flyovers will celebrate this momentous event. Veterans and active duty military are allowed free entry.

48th Annual Northwest Folklife Festival at the Seattle Center, this is a free festival located on the Space Needle grounds. It’s an anything-goes kind of festival, and there’s a market place full of goods from all over the world, street performers, musical instrument workshops, 20 stages and 5,000 entertainers and performers, food stands and lots of hippies. It’s a love it or hate it kind of a place, so if you don’t like crowds of smelly strangers, you might want to avoid it. But, if you’re up for an adventure, you’d like to meet interesting folks, enjoy excellent entertainment and unique food you’ll love it.

Newcastle Beach Park, bring a blanket and spend the day in this 29-acre green space. A lovely swimming area is roped off in Lake Washington keeping the space wake free for your little ones to swim safely. Take a walk on the trail or steak out a spot on the dock. A play structure will keep the kids busy, and public grills are available for lunch so you can spend the whole day enjoying the views in the great outdoors.

Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park is one of the most popular beach parks in Renton. It’s a large, 57-acre space with views of Mount Rainer. Gene Coulon is situated on Lake Washington with a large playground, a boat launch, trail, barbeque grills, and a swimming area. Come early especially on Memorial Day weekend, it will be busy, and parking can be tricky. A strict no-dog policy is in play here with hefty fines if you’re caught with one in the park. If you don’t have time to plan a picnic, no worries, Ivar’s Seafood and Kidd Valley burger both have locations in the park.

Sammamish Landing Park is an eight-acre park on Lake Sammamish. Three beaches are favorite spots to soak in the sunshine. This is the only public access point on Lake Sammamish and can be busy, so come early and stay for the day. For a different change of pace on Memorial Day head over to Pier 59 downtown. There are more than enough activities to keep the whole family happy for the day.

The Seattle Aquarium will be hosting a Family Science Weekend. Shows, exhibits and educational opportunities are offered all weekend. You’ll have the chance to explore the sea life living in the Puget Sound. After the aquarium, you can enjoy dinner on Elliot Bay at one of the dozens of eateries with water views. Ride the Ferris Wheel overlooking the city and the Bay and wander along the waterfront while taking in the sounds of the city. There is more than enough to keep the family busy here for a weekend.

Follow the Orca Network and find whales. The Orca Network is a public group where anyone who spots whales of any kind (not only orcas) will post their findings, the time and location. If you watch closely, you could use this information to chase and spot whales of your own. You may be required to hop a ferry to find them, leading to a day of adventure and warm family memories.

There are dozens of ways to celebrate this Memorial Day. The most important thing is to leave your to-do lists behind and revel in your freedom.

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Mother’s Day is quickly approaching, and it’s time to plan. Why not make an entire day of it? Traditionally the holiday primarily means brunch, but this year you can wow her by thinking outside the brunch menu. Show mom how much you love her by taking the entire day to entertain and pamper her every whim. You know your lady best, whether it’s your mother or the mother of your kids. Think about her love language and do what you know will matter to her most.

A picnic by the lake is a fantastic way to start the day. Let her sleep in, while you pack a simple morning picnic. Cut up fruit, croissants and coffee are perfect. Pack up the kids, balls, a blanket, or other activities to keep them busy. The two of you can enjoy a pleasant morning sitting on a blanket in the grass shaking off the winter and gazing at the sparkling waters of Lake Washington or Sammamish.

Spend the afternoon on a family gathering, or give her some time for her favorite activity, biking, hiking, a spa day or kid-free time with friends. You know your lady best if she loves to read, but never has time anymore take the kids to the park and give her two lavish hours on the window seat in the sunshine. For a mother, time for a nap, gardening, painting, running, whatever makes her tick is the best gift of all. Nothing is sweeter than having a little bit of yourself back for a woman who’s swallowed up in the day to day highs and lows of motherhood.

Some ideas around town:

  • If you live in Renton jump on the freeway South to Tacoma for the day. It’s an easy half hour drive. Head to the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. They’re offering a special, half price for mom’s all day so you get two experiences lumped together in one. You can visit polar bears and sharks in the same place and the kids will have a blast.
  • Head East about 40 minutes’ drive from Renton, Sammamish and Newcastle to the beautiful Cedar River Watershed on Rattlesnake Lake. Guides will be teaching about animal mothers who live in this incredible place. A little museum with art installations is informative and interactive. Views from Rattle Snake Ledge and walks around the lake are worth coming for. Several hikes branch off from this location, bring sandwiches and make a day of it.
  • The Bellevue Botanical Gardens is open for free this Mother’s Day, flowers and trees will be in full bloom. A schedule of events includes artists painting throughout the garden, live music, a reopening of the Native Discovery Garden, tours and a ballroom dancing demonstration. This popular event is terrific for any age, and a wheelchair can navigate most trails.
  • It’s the World Bonsai Day at the Pacific Bonsai Museum in Federal Way just twenty minutes South of Renton. During Mother’s Day, the museum’s bonsai trees are blooming, and they open up the doors to share the beauty for free. It’s packed with exhibits on the weekend, poetry readings, bonsai making demonstrations, food trucks and card making stations for the kids. Celebrate the art and patients of bonsai growing. This ancient art takes years to grow and develop the delicate branches and tiny root systems.
  • Head East thirty minutes to Snoqualmie to the Northwest Railway Museum, buy your ticket first, all of the tickets are pay at the window, so make sure you head out early to get a seat. While you’re waiting for your train, you can tour around the charming little Snoqualmie village. This is a popular excursion, and you’ll find out why. Trains take you on a 70-minute scenic ride chugging from Snoqualmie to North Bend and past Snoqualmie Falls. Trains run at 11:00 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2:00 p.m., and 3:30 p.m.
  • Take mom out for a dinner to remember at the Calcutta Grill in Newcastle. This place is stunning, and there’s no better way to show a woman that you love her than to bring her to an outstanding, fine dining dinner. Watch the sunset with an incredible view of Seattle from above with a rolling green golf course stretching out between you and the skyline.

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