Friday, May 31, 2019

Birthday Adventures: Seattle's Capitol HIll

Once upon a time, when my daughters were young, birthdays were all about the parties. Plans sprung forth from the pages of Family Fun or American Girl magazines - water sprinkler games! bear claw cupcakes! handmade piñatas! tie dye crafts! - and with a round-up of eight or ten other little girls, we had some pretty good times. Of course, I could bet the ranch that the birthday girl would be in tears at some point during the day. All of the anticipation and emotion was just too much for any reasonable child to bear. But there was joy in the chaos, and I happily planned and presided over my daughters' birthday parties for many years until finally, my daughters decided enough.

Now the birthday tradition tables have turned, and my adult daughters have perfected the art of the birthday adventure. On any given Streicher birthday afternoon, you will find us traveling, touring, inspecting, and exploring the world, according to an itinerary set by the birthday girl. And this, too, is a joyful way to spend these special days. 

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Yesterday was my eldest's birthday and to celebrate, she planned an adventure around Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood.

^ Let's be honest. The brand new Glossier pop-up store idrove the day's agenda. Open just a week now, our visit slides perfectly into place after the first few days of opening madness. Rather than waiting in line for an hour, we walk up to an open door and find a chill staff and a laid back crowd exploring the gorgeousness that is Glossier.

^ Glossier, if you don't know, is an online purveyor of skincare products and cosmetics that emphasize natural beauty and good vibes. Case in point: as I took my first step into the highly stimulating visual space, I was met with this soothing white oasis of zen. A water bottle styled with a darling floral logo for sale, with five dollars of the proceeds from each bottle going to support Mary's Place, a shelter for homeless women and children. Yes, I'll take one. And I already feel good about my visit to Glossier. 

^ Well, now that I've got a humanitarian good deed under my belt, let's check out the merchandise. Honestly, I fall under the spell of these sleek white display vignettes and perfectly spaced products, and can barely focus on what I might want to buy. Luckily, my daughters understand the nuances of the Glossier product line, and skillfully guide me through the maze of products, steering me toward their most highly recommended purchases. 

^ I do want to purchase a few products, partly for my own enjoyment but also to support the Glossier movement. In these troubled times for brick and mortar retailers, I believe that the pop up is an idea perfectly designed to give shoppers a valuable, hands-on experience with products that need to be smelled, touched, tried on, to be truly appreciated, while at the same time minimizing their financial risk. Pop ups are a fun, innovative, creative way to bring products and people together, and I'm glad to back up my beliefs with my dollars.

^ Now, the artistry of the store decor wins my full attention. Mounds of mosses and heaps of real plants create rolling meadows of flowers amist the sleek displays. Bold graphics in Glossier's signature pink and occasional touches of industrial design play off the natural green and send my imagination reeling. 

^ Here's evidence of Glossier's nuanced eye for design. When I look at the pink graphic from one angle (see previous photo), I see waterfalls of green flowing over large ruffled green leaves, punctuated by a spray of magenta flowers up above. But if I take one step to my right and look again (this photo), the graphic looks more or less the same but the kaleidoscope of plantings shifts, the foreground now filled with clumps of mosses, creeping greenery, and low mounds of light and medium pink daisies. 

^ As much as I appreciate the dreamy green decor, I'd say that the vast majority of shoppers are more interested in testing every flavor of Balm Dotcom before making their final selection. Which leaves more room for lurking for me. 

^ Glossier uses an ingenious strategy to design this retail space. Because their product line is relatively small compared to their floor space and the crowds they attract, the products appear on multiple display stands throughout the store. That way, if one customer is struggling to ascertain which shade of Stretch Concealer is best for her skin tones, other customers can find that same product line on two or three other displays around the store. Clever, right?

^ I have no idea if this sturdy-looking column serves a purpose here, but the juxtaposition of architecture to horticulture makes my heart sing. 

^ The floors are also worthy of note, all curvy and wooden and properly thumpy to walk on. 

^ Alright, one last look at a display stand and I'm ready to place my order:

a water bottle. available only at the Seattle pop-up.

^ A pink-jump-suited rep takes my order on her iPad, and in the blink of an eye, another lady in pink pops out from this door with my selections bagged up in a canvas Glossier tote bearing my name on a wildflower seed-infused card.  My Glossier appetite is now thoroughly sated and along with my daughters, I'm ready to move on. 

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^ Food. We need food. Hiking to a pizza place that my daughter has in mind, we pass by construction in this spirited walk way. I'm inspired.

^ And when we pull up to the pizza place, I'm intrigued. Though I'm not one to say no to an on-trend hipster bistro, I am a huge fan of the marginally tacky, probably past its prime style of restaurant too. 

^ Big Mario's seems to be a mash-up of hipster and marginally tacky, much like its Capitol Hill surroundings. Ah, anything goes in this quirky part of town, so we skip over any judgments and get right to placing our order. 

^ One subtle sign of good food: stanchions designed to keep order among heavy crowds at lunchtime. Lucky for us, we arrive long after the normal midday rush, 

^ Within moments, we are seated outside with some lovely big wedges of warm, crispy pizza, around $3.50 each. We quench our considerable thirst with a shared can of root beer and a bottle of "still" (as opposed to bubbly) water. Lordy, don't we just call it plain water?

^ I could have devoured three more pieces of that amazing pizza but we are saving room for dessert. Another half block walk lands us at Cupcake Royale where the plan is to eat ice cream.

The birthday girl chooses a strawberry waffle cone, so I follow suit with the strawberry in a cup. The other two sisters opt to share a lemon drop cupcake, and we all sit quietly and eat.

^ That's how you can always tell when everyone loves their food. People don't waste time talking
when they are busy eating something delicious.

And so we sit, the four of us, eating steadily and silently, in a quiet restaurant filled with dappled sunlight and the scent of baking cupcakes.

When we finish eating, we are all satisfied and ready to go home. 

 ^ Outside, as we double back on our steps, we find one more surprise. A riotous rainbow of color, better than any shower of candy streaming from a birthday party piñata, and a perfect ending to a delightful birthday adventure. 

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Quick links to our birthday adventure destinations:

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Want to read about all my Glossier adventures 
and see more pics of their adorable stores? Try these:

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