Follow:
Topics:
Browsing Tag:

Gig Harbor

    At Home  --  Inspire

    A Passion For Creating In Wood

    Finding a Post- Retirement Purpose

    Location: Gig Harbor Washington USA

    I can really identify with Joel Burkhardt. It’s easy to identify with the emotions you encounter when you first retire and are struggling to find what’s next. Retirement can have you looking for focus and passion in a new unknown period of life. Neither of us are the first to step into retirement and feel a bit lost. But for lifelong Gig Harbor resident Joel, he is finding some solace in a passion for creating in wood.

    Chief Petty Officer Joel Burkhardt at his retirement last April

    Post Retirement Focus

    After 32 years in the Coast Guard, when Joel retired in April he foundered…his entire identity was wrapped up in being a Chief Petty Officer in the Coast Guard. One day he was. The next day he wasn’t. He admittedly felt “weird” while he searched to settle into his new identity. A cancer diagnosis didn’t help, and so Joel found some comfort in working with his hands and a passion for creating in wood.

    Joel in his Gig Harbor shop

    “People don’t realize what’s going to happen when they retire,” Joel said. “After 32 years in the military, it’s hard to justify in my head that career is over.” Joel wondered who he was now that he wasn’t in the Coast Guard. He turned to friends and the VA to help keep him focused. And he turned to a new hobby of woodworking.

    This cutting board is coming together with walnut, mahogany and black palm

    A New Hobby

    Joel had dabbled in woodworking a little before retiring, making a bell for his unit (see photos) to use for ceremonies and call to assembly. But when his mom needed a cutting board, he told her he would make her one. His wife Kelly posted pictures of the cutting board and then someone else wanted one. I saw the pictures and I wanted one too. And now, Joel creates beautiful, one of a kind trays and cutting boards in his shop near Wollochet Bay where he is finding his passion for creating in wood.

    Joel’s early work, the bell
    Resin display on the bell

    Every piece Joel makes is unique. Clients can choose the wood (his favorites are walnut, mahogany and purple heart) as well as the design and the size. Joel has a distinctive process of doing fractal burning on some pieces and can add color to the burn. It makes the wood look like it’s been touched by the hand of Zeus himself.

    Joel also loves to work with resin, and depending on what the wood piece is going to be used for, a resin finish is often added. Resin can also be used in many artistic ways and he is enjoying getting creative with this substance.

    Work in progress

    “Wood prices are finally coming down,” Joel told me this week from his shop. “We can get exotic wood like zebra, black palm, leopard and highly marbled walnut.” Joel finds his wood at shops in Tacoma and Everett and sometimes even from Amazon.

    Dancing Ghost Woodworks

    Joel named his new wood working business Dancing Ghost Woodworks and you can find him on Facebook. He looks forward to working with clients to pick out the wood and design. He then gets busy matching the grains, planing and finishing. If you want a design or logo he can do that too, free hand with his palm router.

    My board in my kitchen

    The cutting board Joel made me was made from end cuts and it is so clever and beautiful. It looks awesome in my kitchen and I love it. Not to mention I use it daily and it is solid and sturdy.

    Want to shop local, thank a dedicated veteran AND have a one-of-a-kind piece of art? Contact my friend Joel. You’ll be glad you did.

    See our blog about Re-Wirement – Finding Your Midlife Passion

    Want to support other local businesses? See our blog about A Passion for Coffee in Gig Harbor, and our recent post Breweries of Kitsap (Plus One)

    We love it when you pin and share our blog posts.

    Inspire

    A Passion for Coffee in Gig Harbor

    More Than a Beverage it’s a Hobby Turned Small Business

    Location: Gig Harbor Washington USA

    Zach Tanner loves coffee. That may not seem that unusual, especially in the Pacific Northwest where coffee is a cultural phenom. But Zach doesn’t just love to drink coffee. Oh no. Coffee is so much more; an inspiration; a fascination; a hobby turned small business. Zach has a passion for coffee in Gig Harbor.

    Milkman Coffee
    Zach Tanner proud coffee roaster

    As many of you know I am a coffee-lover. In fact when I travel, tasting coffee around the world is one of the highlights for me; exploring the big wide and diverse world of rich dark coffee. Check out the blog I wrote last year My Favorite Coffee Around the World to learn more.

    So when I heard about Zach and his passion for coffee in Gig Harbor I was intrigued. Then I tasted it and I was amazed.

    After graduating from Montana State University Zach Tanner spent a number of years living the California film industry dream. But eventually Zach and his wife made their way back to the Pacific Northwest to start a family, settling in a private oasis rural home in Gig Harbor. While working at the Gig Harbor YMCA and being a dad, Zach found time on the side to have a tiny little coffee roaster and play with roasting and observation of beans and flavors.

    Green coffee beans
    The Green Beans are organic

    Then came Covid. Zach lost his job and turned his focus to home-schooling his kids. And roasting coffee. A bigger roaster, more research, a computer program, lots of experimentation, trial and error, more evaluation, a brainstorm session for a business name and boom. Milkman Coffee was born in Zach’s garage.

    Milkman Coffee
    The name came from the delivery bottles he used in the beginning.

    Zach gets the “green” beans from four different vendors, only organic non-pesticide beans. How the beans are sourced is really important to this coffee aficionado, and when possible his passion extends to women-run coffee bean co-ops in places like Ethiopia. Zach uses beans from many parts of the world including Uganda, Guatemala, Columbia, and Ethiopia.

    Milkman Coffee
    The roaster, each batch roasts for ten minutes

    Usually Zach’s roasts are single origin, but he will blend beans from multiple sources to get just the right flavor profile he is looking for. Don’t misunderstand though…these aren’t flavored coffees. But Zach approaches the taste and aroma of the beans and the final cup of coffee similar to a wine connoisseur; pointing out natural flavor notes in each batch such as vanilla, tobacco, fruit and mineral. Each bag of Milkman lists Zach’s flavor notes.

    Milkman Coffee
    The roasting is controlled by computer and information on each batch is saved for future reference

    While Zach continues to put his dad duties first, he hopes to expand Milkman Coffee. Short term goals include a website and social media presence. Long range goals include getting into small markets and farmers markets. But right now this one-man operation hand-delivers the beans to customers in the Gig Harbor area who sign up for regular delivery. Roasted beans are $15 a pound or $20 for a pound and a half.

    Milkman Coffee

    A passion for coffee in Gig Harbor. Hand-made, delivered fresh and full of flavor. That’s what Zach Tanner is all about with his small coffee roasting business Milkman Coffee. Want to support small business and drink some incredible, organic coffee? Shoot Zach an email at zlt13@icloud.com.

    We love it when you pin and share our blog posts.

    Want to learn more about the history of coffee? See it here.

    See last week’s post It’s Time to Rediscover Ballard Washington here.

    North America Travel

    Let’s Go Gondola in Gig Harbor Washington

    Authentic Gondola Experience in Beautiful Gig Harbor

    Location: Gig Harbor Washington USA

    It’s been three years since John Synco realized his dream of starting his own Gondola business, Gig Harbor Gondola.  But John isn’t Italian.  Nor does he live in Italy.  He is just another amazing entrepreneur in the small town of Gig Harbor Washington who made his dreams come true.

    John had been a professional Gondolier in Southern California for several years starting in 2002.  He had traveled to Venice

    Gig Harbor Gondola

    Onboard Nellie

    several times and loved the beautiful boats and the life of the Gondolier.

    A friend of John’s purchased two authentic Venetian Gondolas a few years back. At the time John was living with his wife and young daughter in Edmonds, having recently left California for Washington.  John wanted one of the gondolas, but knew the waters in Edmonds wouldn’t be conducive to a peaceful gondola ride.

    Gig Harbor Gondola

    Peacefully slicing through the water

    So after searching the area, the family moved to Gig Harbor, with its peaceful small harbor, to start Gig Harbor Gondola. His new Venetian Gondola christened Nellie.  A dream realized.  Three years later John’s business is his full-time, year-around job.  And he is so good at it.

    I took my Mom on the gondola for an evening one-hour tour of the beautiful Gig Harbor Bay.  The $85  one hour tour is for two people.  You can add up to four more people for $20 each.  You can also do a one and half hour tour for $115 for two people and again each additional person is $20 up to six people maximum.

    Gig Harbor Gondola

    My Mom and I enjoying the ride

    The Gig Harbor Gondola price includes appetizers (meats, cheese, grapes and crackers) and you are welcome to bring additional food and drinks.

    John has done his research, and even though he is a relative newcomer to Gig Harbor he really knows the history of the town.  His tour provides lots of fun information, history and insight into this tiny community on the bay, nestled so peacefully in the shadow of Mount Rainer.

    The night we toured was calm with little wind and though a bit chilly, the sun was shining.  The gondola includes blankets though just in case.  Through out our tour one harbor seal followed the gondola around the bay, curiously watching us and

    Gig Harbor Gondola

    The mouth of Gig Harbor Bay and it’s welcoming lighthouse

    keeping just to the right of John’s oar.  Speaking of John’s oar, he has learned the craft of being a gondolier perfectly.  The rowing oar, which is not attached to the boat, is used to both propel the boat and as a rudder. Our ride was smooth and silent and safe.

    After learning and chatting as we calmly sliced through the water, John took a moment to serenade us with a beautiful Italian ballad.  I have no idea what he was singing about – but it was lovely.  I’m sure people on shore could hear his crisp tenor voice across the water.

    Gig Harbor Gondola

    The sun sets on our tour

    Spending time on Gig Harbor bay with Gig Harbor Gondola is always a treat.  Seeing this lovely town from the water gives you such a different perspective.  And now I’ve seen it through new eyes, the eyes of John and Nellie the Gondola.  Bellissimo!

    Grazie John!  What a lovely, relaxing excursion.

    Favoloso!

    Make your reservation to enjoy Gig Harbor Gondola today! Click here!

    Visit Gig Harbor

    Food & Drink  --  North America Travel

    Being an Ambassador of Food

    And Remembering Anthony Bourdain

    Location: Gig Harbor WA USA

    I’ve decided I can be an Ambassador of food.  My new fabulous role.

    When we used to live in Gig Harbor (Washington USA) I started a cooking club of like-minded friends.  Usually I taught the class and it focused on teaching one of the cuisines I had learned while on a recent trip somewhere in the world.  We also met a few other times when other cooking club

    Ambassadors of Food

    The Gig Harbor Cooking Club

    members organized events such as wine tasting, and a class with a chef at a local restaurant.

    Our Cooking Club included 14 super fun people.  Our time together was always interesting and educational.  And always involved lots of food and

    Ambassador of food

    Enjoying cooking and eating

    wine.

    Since I left the USA the cooking club kind of fell apart.  But I returned determined to bring it back together, at least for one performance, while I was here in Gig Harbor.

    Yesterday eleven of our fourteen cooks gathered

    Ambassador of Food

    In the kitchen

    at the home of one of the members and I taught a class on Vietnamese and Thai cooking.  We had this on the calendar for several months.  But the suicide of my cooking, traveling, world ambassador mentor Anthony Bourdain weighed heavy on my mind – particularly since Vietnamese cuisine I knew was Anthony’s favorite.

    Ambassador of food

    Sharing

    I decided I wanted to talk to my cooking friends about how overwhelmingly sad I felt that Anthony Bourdain chose to take his life.  So that discussion is how we began our class.  Everyone felt the same lost and shocked feeling – all of us knowing it could have been prevented.  We talked a while about Tony and about suicide and about our country and its many troubles. And then to ease some of that heartache, we began to cook.

    It was fun, chaotic, delicious and exhausting.  I love to teach and this kind of event comes very naturally to  me, but it was tough cooking and teaching in someone else kitchen.  But we made it work, didn’t burn the house down, and had a great time. In Tony’s memory.

    Ambassador of food

    Combining the flavors

    I realize, through teaching new cuisines to open-minded cooks, that I am in my own small way, an ambassador like Anthony.  I’ve talked about this before – how I see my world travel as an ambassador role.  Showing people around the world what “real” Americans are like.  So it’s another way to open minds and hearts – I can bring cuisines back here to my friends, help them embrace new cultures and experiences and make the world a better place, one delicious mouthful at a time.

    It’s certainly not Parts Unknown.  But it makes me feel happy.

    I’m grateful to this group of cooks who enjoy the same things I enjoy and so I’ve given them a challenge – I promise to teach another class when I come back to the USA again next summer, but on one condition.  They must organize themselves and have at least one Cooking Club event while I am out of the country.

    Challenge on. Let’s make Tony proud.

    Fabulous.

    Food & Drink

    We are Back

    The Weird and Wonderful World of the USA

    Location: Gig Harbor Washington USA

    And We Are Back – Adjusting to being back in the fast paced USA.

    It’s both wonderful and weird being back here.  It’s surreal and my husband and I keep looking at each other with a perplexed look – “was it always this “wired”?”  Fast paced and a bit maniacal, we haven’t felt this in a while.  But here we are and it will be like any other country we visit – spend sometime getting into the swing and then we will feel right at home.  At least the language is familiar!  Oh and the money is green – the way it should be. And there is toilet paper!! Woohoo!

    For those of you who are personal friends and family, we hope to see as many of you as possible.   Please note however that we are holding the majority of our time open for our family; particularly our aging parents and our adult children.  But we still do hope to see our friends and we have many dinners and lunches and coffees and glasses of wine already on the calendar with our dearest peeps.  But other than a quick reunion trip to both Nashville with my high school girlfriends(leaving today) and Utah (college buddies) in June, we will stay mostly on the Kitsap Peninsula during our visit.

    We are staying in the home of our friends in downtown Gig Harbor while they are off in their RV for two months.  This is from May 14-July 15.  On July 15th we move to another home in Seabeck to be a closer to Arne’s family for our final three weeks.  We depart the USA again on August 7th and plan to be away this time for nine to ten months. More on that later.

    But for now we try to catch our breath, squeeze our loved ones, and remember to drive on the right hand side of the road!

    So hello USA, Washington, Kitsap Peninsula and Gig Harbor.  Hello, Susaday, Hafa Adai, Apa Kabar, Kihineh, Sabaidi, Swasdi, G’Day, Zdraveite, Zdravo, Xin Chao, Namaste, Chomreabsuro, Vanakkam, Is-Slama, Om suastiastu, Huh-low, Ssalamu, Sawubona, Salam-Alai Kum, Bom Dia, Bon Jour, Kia Ora, Hola, ‘Lekum, Aloha. Hello!