Summer Fun: 4th of July

by Catherine Sweeney, Creative Circle
July 1, 2015

Have lots of fun this Fourth! Pick your ideal fireworks watching location, then enjoy a relaxed day of play and picnicking.

Seattle – Lake Union Fireworks, 12 pm – 11 pm
Avoid traffic snarls and ride your bike to Gas Works Park, right off the Burke-Gilman trail. From noon on, you’ll find live music, outdoor games and a beer garden with trivia.  Prefer some time on the water? Head to South Lake Union for free rides in historic boats at the Lake Union Wooden Boat festival, along with Quick and Daring Boatbuilding—build and race your own boat in 24 hours!  Explore food booths and hear more live music at nearby Seafair events.

Looking for festivities and fireworks but a slightly smaller crowd? Check out Fourth of July activities in neighboring communities, from Kirkland’s multiple parades—including a Kid’s Parade— to face-painting, inflatables and more at Renton’s lakeside Gene Coulon Park.  Or head north to Everett for a community parade, and picnic waterside at Legion Memorial Park until it’s time to light up the sky.

Picnic treats
Make some easy-pack foods that are creative and colorful too.

  • Nostalgic for deviled eggs? Surprise your friends and family with red, white and blue ones! Try out this recipe from blogger Valerie Davis.
  • Use a star-shaped cookie cutter to cut watermelon into shapes, then make a red-white-and-blue fruit salad.
  • Bring individual cherry and blueberry star pies in glass jars (available at Goodwill). 

Park play
Pick up picnic baskets, coolers and blankets at your local Goodwill, and look for Frisbees and balls for playing in the park.  Other outdoor play ideas include:

Gigantic bubbles keep all ages entertained and even help you make new friends. Try out this recipe from Ginger Snap crafts, which includes an easy-to-make bubble wand. Old kitchen utensils with holes —like potato mashers—produce tons of bubbles.

Our open, waterfront parks are ideal for kites, especially if you arrive before the late-afternoon Fourth of July crowds. Check Goodwill for kites, or make your own out of a plastic bag.

As dusk begins, submerge glow sticks in filled, capped water bottles. Do some night-time bowling while you wait for the fireworks. Then, get ready to gaze up and be amazed. Happy Independence Day!

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Summer Fun: Festivals!

by Catherine Sweeney, Creative Circle
June 28, 2015

Milk carton races, local music, Pride Parade, hydroplanes…there’s something for everyone at Seattle’s free summer festivals. This quick checklist will help you plan ahead, and introduce you to our summer, if you’re new to the area.

From blankets to collapsible chairs, you’ll find festival gear at Goodwill. Share pics of your purchases at Goodwill #GoodSummer Contest using Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, and you could win a trip to the San Juans or Leavenworth, or other prizes!

June 28
The largest free Pride festival in America, Seattle’s Pridefest is a regular winner of Seattle’s Evening Magazine’s Best Local Event. The iconic Pride Parade takes place Sunday, June 28, at 11 am. (And yes, we have lots of options for your attire!)

Fourth of July in Seattle is so good that it deserves a stand-alone blog—stay tuned. Let’s fast-forward to the following weekend, full of even more festival choices.

July 11–12
How to choose which festival to attend this weekend?  How about all of them?

Visit Seattle’s International District for Dragon Festival, with live multi-cultural performances and historic walking and food tours, including the popular $2 Food Walk, plus the annual Sakura Con Anime Costume Contest. You can celebrate into the evening at Night Market (6 pm – 12 pm, July 11), where you’ll find more than 30 food trucks, an international market and an all-ages dance party.

Relax in the shade at Green Lake and cheer for your favorite milk-carton sailing contraptions. Held on July 11, Seattle Derby Day includes a stand-up paddle boarding competition too.

These two neighborhood festivals seem to get bigger and better each year. Ballard’s Seafood Fest will host local bands and the very popular salmon barbeque. If you missed The Moondoggies at our Earth Day celebration concert with KEXP, you can see them at the Ballard Seafood Fest! See more than 20 live bands at West Seattle Summer Fest (begins July 10).

Watch a full weekend of live theater at the Seattle Outdoor Theater Festival in Volunteer Park, including classic Shakespeare, improv and much more, with family-friendly offerings too.

July 17–19
Held at the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Discovery Center, the Seafair Indian Days Pow Wow includes performances by traditional Native American, Alaska Native and First Nations drummers and dancers, as well as native food and art.

July 25
See more than 100 community floats, marching bands, drill teams and giant helium balloons at the beloved Seafair Torchlight Parade.

July 31–Aug. 2
Everyone in Seattle knows when it’s Seafair weekend—but have you seen the events up close? Genesee Park is the place to be, where you’ll have ideal views of both the hydroplane races and the airborne feats of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and Patriots Jet Team. 

For news on even more festivals and activities, take a look at the Visit Seattle website.

Enjoy your summer!

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Summer Fun: Family friendly hikes

by Catherine Sweeney, Creative Circle
June 25, 2015

If you like to hike with your family, 2015 is your summer!  With much less rain this winter, many alpine trails are snow-free now. Here’s a look at some classic, family-friendly hikes.

Before you go, stock up on gear at Goodwill, where you’ll find baby backpacks, along with spare backpacks for your young hikers, always-useful water bottles and hats, and even rain gear, just in case.  Share your finds on our Goodwill #GoodSummer Contest using Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, and you could win a trip to the San Juans or Leavenworth, or other prizes!

Franklin Falls
When hiking with the youngest kids (preschoolers and even toddlers), there’s nothing like a shady hike that ends in a giant waterfall. Franklin Falls is just two miles roundtrip and has just a 400-foot elevation gain. Get there early for parking.  Read more about Franklin Falls on the fantastic website maintained by the Washington Trails Association – the same folks who built this trail’s rock steps and bridges.

Ebey’s Landing
A jaunt to Ebey’s Landing has a little something for everyone. There’s travel time involved, but the journey is worth it. First, there’s a scenic ferry ride to Whidbey Island (regular ferries are available from Mukilteo) and then a drive to the trailhead. Choose between a two-mile roundtrip hike to the quiet, expansive beach or a 3.5 mile loop. You can hike up a beachside bluff with panoramic views of the Cascades, Olympic Mountains and Mount Rainier. There’s a steep descent from the bluff to the beach. The charming waterside town of Coupeville is an ideal stop for post-hike ice cream.

Tipsoo Lake - Naches Peak Loop
On Naches Peak Loop, you’ll be surrounded by spectacular alpine sights from the moment you set foot on the trail. During this 3.2 mile roundtrip hike, you’ll walk through flower-filled meadows, gaze at Mt. Rainier, admire mountain lakes, and enjoy mountain blueberries when they are in season. With the early snow melt, there are reports of bugs—bring your spray and check current trip reports. 

Lake 22
This is a great hike for elementary-age or older kids. Start the Lake 22 hike early in the morning to stay cool on the ascent. You’ll be climbing more than 1,300 feet during your 5.4 mile roundtrip journey, and hiking through old growth forest and past several waterfalls. At the top, you’ll find a large, gorgeous lake in a deep bowl created by Mount Pilchuck. Take the lakeside trail and marvel at the cascades rushing down the cliff faces.

Looking for even more hikes? Explore this wonderful set of links from Washington Trails Association, and you’ll be ready for many more adventures.

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It’s time for some Summer Fun!

by Kim Merrikin, Seattle Goodwill
June 10, 2015

If you follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, hopefully you’ve already heard about our Goodwill #GoodSummer Contest. If not, then now through the end of June, we’re hosting a contest inviting Goodwill shoppers to share their summer fun finds with us—with some awesome prizes up for grabs! Our three prize packages all include a summer fun adventure.

GRAND PRIZE: A San Juan weekend getaway including a stay at the Harrison House Suites, with a tour of the Pelindaba Lavender Farm in Friday Harbor, and a $75 Seattle Goodwill gift card.

SECOND PLACE PRIZE: A Leavenworth Tubing Trip for two from Sound Excursions including roundtrip transportation from Seattle and a cookout, and a $50 Seattle Goodwill gift card.

THIRD PLACE PRIZE: Admission for two adults and two children to Woodland Park Zoo, and a $50 Goodwill Gift Card.To get you a little inspired, here are three unique outdoor summer fun ideas that we love:

Board games are for the winter, dreary months, right? Not anymore. Board games are an excellent addition to a backyard BBQ night on the patio, a picnic in the park, or day hike. By ditching the packaging that many board games come with, and putting the pieces in a plastic bag, you can lighten the load by quite a bit to make it easier to carry.

We recently shared a blog from Porch with 15 DIY Teepees and Play Tents that you’ll just love. The list is full of creative ideas ranging from sewing-machine-free simplicity, to more complex structures that require some sewing and additional materials. You can find all the bed sheets you need, as well as sewing machines and a plethora of other crafting materials, at your favorite Goodwill location!

Those summer evening BBQs don’t need to be just burgers, hot dogs, and fish. One way to get the whole family on board with cooking for the evening is to have them assemble their own pizza, and then throw them on the grill! has a great blog series on how to grill your pizza to perfection! From grills to aprons and from tongs to extra-wide spatulas (helpful when grilling pizza!) Goodwill has all you need to get up and running this BBQ season.

And once you’ve swung by Goodwill to get what you need for your summer fun, be sure to share it in our Goodwill #GoodSummer Contest for a chance to win one of the three summer adventure prize packages! 

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Spring Cleaning: Yard & Garden

by Kim Merrikin, Seattle Goodwill
June 6, 2015

Over the past two months, we’ve shared a lot of Spring Cleaning tips. We’ve shared tips on getting ready to tackle all of the projects spring cleaning can entail, some ideas on how you can get kids involved with some of the tasks, indoor “dry” room cleaning, tackling the kitchen & bathroom, and getting your garage up to snuff. What could possibly be left?

Your yard and garden!

Whether you’re a seasoned gardener with years of perennials under your belt, or new to having your own yard to turn into your summertime haven—there are a few simple things you can do to get your yard useable and ready for enjoying the sunshine.

Depending on the state of your yard, it might be worthwhile to start the project by clearing out debris, raking, and getting your yard into a state where you can make some decisions on what you want it to look like when you’re finished.

If you don’t need to start with debris removal, start with pruning and trimming. That way, you can just drop what you clip off, and rake it all up later. Trim bushes, foliage, and trees to get them into the state you want them in. Pull weeds along paths and in gardens. If you don’t have the right tools, check out your local Goodwill. Gardening tools are a common find! Once you’ve done the trimming—then rake and remove what you’ve left behind!

Now that you’ve got all your clippings and debris out of the way, mow the lawn and take a weed eater to the edges of sidewalks and paths, gardens, and any other area you can’t quite get to with a mower—like the legs of a swing set or the edge of a play house. If need be, rake again to get the grass clippings tidied up. Don’t forget—all that debris can go in your Yard Waste bin!

Before you head to a nursery or yard/garden store for seeds and plants—decide what you want to do with your space. Do you have a color theme? Do you want to replant every year? Making those decisions before you go shopping will help you be able to navigate the aisles of foliage! Your plans can also include how you want to set up patio space, any DIY projects you might have in mind—like any one of these projects from our friends at Dunn Lumber. Goodwill is an excellent place to source items to be altered into your perfect garden setting piece! Once you’ve decided on your plan of action, and your budget, head to your favorite local stores to pick up the materials—and get to work!

The yard and garden might be a multi-day undertaking, but you won’t regret it once it’s ready for your backyard BBQs, outdoor play, and relaxing evenings on the patio!

Whatever you do in your yard and garden, we’d love to see how Goodwill helped—and you can enter to win a number of amazing prizes in our Goodwill #GoodSummer Contest! Enter here:

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