My Favorite (Free!) Things to Do In Seattle

The weather's warming up, people are out for the school year, others are visiting or have relatives coming to visit. Whatever the case, emails asking for suggestions on things to do always seem to pick up in the summer time. Everyone knows to head to the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, the Waterfront and maybe even the Fremont Troll - but what else do locals like to do? I thought it'd be fun to share some of my favorite free things to do around the city, for those who need fun, quick suggestions.

Live Aloha Hawaiian Festival
Live Aloha Hawaiian Festival

Getting ready for some musubi, kahlua pork, lau lau & shave ice at Live Aloha 2013.

Seattle Center Festál Cultural Festivals

The crowds flock to Seattle Center for the Bite of Seattle and Folklife - but did you know there's a year-round calendar of cultural festivals that are also free to attend? I love Festál events for some great food, dance, music and cultural wares in much less chaotic festival experiences than the Bite or Folklife. Peep the full Festál calendar here. I'll see you at the Center for Pagdiriwang, Live Aloha and probably more!

Olympic Sculpture Park
Olympic Sculpture Park

Can't complain when this is our morning workout view.

Olympic Sculpture Park

If I'm honored enough to have you as an Instagram follower, you've seen many 'grams of early morning workouts at the Olympic Sculpture Park. The park is always free to walk through, and full of really inspirational works of art set amidst a perfectly Northwest 'urban trail' with pristine views of Elliott Bay. If you're early enough, you might even get to see some fine ladies powering through some burpees! :)

Gates Foundation Visitor Center
Gates Foundation Visitor Center

Testing my muscles out at the Gates Visitor Center. Gained a new level of respect for the women in Africa who haul buckets of this size & weight for miles to bring clean water to their families!

Gates Visitor Center

First Thursdays and/or Saturdays will get you in free to almost every museum in Seattle, but for complimentary admission every day, the Gates Foundation Visitor Center awaits. Follow my Gates Visitor Center ongoing series for everything I love about the Gates VC. More than anything, it's a quiet gem hidden right next to the bustling EMP & Seattle Center, perfect for some solid reflection on giving back to the world!

Art Ache
Art Ache

Layered up at Art Ache monthly art market

Art Ache

I love a good flea market, but unfortunately we have very slim pickings here in the city. Art Ache is a monthly art, music & style market hosted in some of the most Capitol Hill bars on the Hill. Lately, Art Ache has called Chop Suey home, and has been housed in Vermillion and Comet Tavern in the past. Catch the next Art Ache market on June 8th.

Ballard Farmer's Market
Ballard Farmer's Market

Keeping cool with Spike baby at the Ballard Farmer's Market

Ballard Farmer's Market

We are so fortunate to have multiple farmer's markets year-round in Seattle, and one of my favorites is the Ballard farmer's market. 10:00a.m. - 3:00p.m. every Sunday, they've got such an awesome collective of organic farmers from around the state. Make sure to head to the Alvarez Organic Farms stand for the most delicious cherry tomatoes you've ever tasted.

Alki - Fresh Jess - Photo Credit Sarah Lovrien
Alki - Fresh Jess - Photo Credit Sarah Lovrien

They see me rollin... (Photo credit Sarah Lovrien)

Alki

Typical Seattleites might avoid Alki in the summer because of the crazy crowds, but it's one of my favorite places in the city all year round. Alki feels faraway from the city with it actually being just a short jaunt over the West Seattle bridge. You can run or walk along the water; hold a bonfire; people watch for longboarders, paddleboarders, kayakers, dog-walkers and other fun characters; or grab a meal or drink right along the water. I also love Coastal, the little surf boutique that's open March - December.

Who knows? Maybe this'll parlay itself into a series of its own :) For weekly recommendations on stuff to do in the city, peep my top Seattle events picks post every Thursday (except for yesterday, as I was at a wake for our dear friend Bernie.)

Feel free to chime in on some of your favorite free things to do in Seattle in the comments below!

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Disclosure: This post is sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center.

Fresh Faves: Poshmark Rules Everything Around Me

In keeping with the true essence of Fresh Jess - which is to share with you what I'm interested in - I feel obliged to tell you how obsessed I am with Poshmark right now. The amount of time I've spent on there since co-hosting their Winter Essentials Party in Seattle in January is insane. For those who aren't familiar with Poshmark, it's an app that allows you to sell from  your closet and buy from others. I have many reasons why I'm so taken by Poshmark right now, so I've packaged them neatly into a top 10 list:

1) The app is clean and simple to use. I like to keep my iPhone screens simple so I only use a few apps, and they've made it far to easy to log on and peep the latest listings from people I'm following, hot items  being shared in their Posh Parties, and comments, likes & new follows from my fellow Poshmarkers. The thrill of the find is always there at my fingertips!

2) The faces behind it are super-friendly and are willing to start dance parties with us at events when no one else is dancing and great music is on:

3) This AMAZING blush pink tunic with raw edges and chains dangling off of it:

From @SheelaGoh's closet. Now in my closet!

4) This score of an Opening Ceremony varsity jacket:

From @MeganPierce's closet

5) Whenever you sell something on Poshmark, you can get PM credits or redeem the balance (PM takes 20% of each sale.) I only spend as much as I sell, so basically it's like a clothing swap with stylish ladies around the country!

6) These elbow patches on this sweet knit Zara sweater

From @JoannaLord's closet

7) You can play negotiator and score even better deals by bundling several pieces from a seller's closet at once. I've been looking for the perfect pair of boyfriend jeans for awhile, and got another pair of pants too.

From @Nemon's closet

8) With the ability to comment, like and follow people on Poshmark, it's inherently a shopping social network. I've met a lot of cool girls who I already know have amazing fashion sense. Shoutout to @Jojo who's shopped with me. She's awesome! Shop her closet here.

9) Dolce Vita booties on the come up! Such a deal on these.

From @IAmCameron's closet

10) They're growing! It's always fun seeing a start-up find success with the masses. It recently launched an iPad app, secured a $12 million funding round and saw 10x increase in growth over the last 100 days. Insane! (source: VentureBeat)

I feel like I should say that Poshmark did not pay me in any way to write this post. I just felt compelled to write it since I've been spending so much of my time on there lately. All of the items featured in this post are now part of my closet, like treasured finds from hours of thrift or consignment shopping, only from the comfort of my phone!

If you want to join me on Poshmark, use my code "HUWKM" when you download the app, so you can get a $5 credit to start shopping! See you on PM!

The YWCA Closet Treasures Sale 2012 Lookbook

Can you believe the YWCA Closest Treasures Sale is this weekend already? This year, the Sale has enlisted the talents of my dear friend and Seattle photographer Sarah Lovrien to create a whole editorial through several photoshoots taken over the past summer. The result is a lookbook that depicts Closet Treasure Sale pieces like you've never seen them before. 

Get the details on Closet Treasure Sale here. For more amazing photos from Sarah, visit the Sarah Lovrien Photography Facebook page.

Fresh Style: NYC Outfit Diary

I had such a fun week in New York for Lucky FABB, the Independent Fashion Bloggers conference & Fashion's Night Out last week! I'm catching up on real life and will crank out these NYC posts as quickly as I can. I took in the sights of the Big Apple, so I've got some posts coming about boutiques, markets and restaurants I enjoyed there. First off, the outfits:

Though I didn't attend any shows this season, I stopped by the tents for an obligatory photo after a blogger lunch one day. Trina Turk for Banana Republic top (similar BR top here)/ Vintage mandala print high-waist shorts from Everybody's Buying Vintage (similar here) / TopShop velvet studded flats / Vintage sunnies / J Project  wrap bracelet

My IFBcon outfit! Vintage orange hi-low tuxedo blazer from Kippy Ding Ding / Reconstructed vintage sheer print top from Moksha / Forever 21 faux leather shorts / Nine West strappy heels (similar here)

The perfect maxi for a low-key night out on the town. IntiMint black maxi dress & Flirt Catalog aqua skinny belt w/gold plate c/o Bollare / Dolce Vita t-strap leopard sandals / gold jewelry via Lucky FABB  

My Lucky FABB outfit: Yellow tiered tank w/lace back from Moksha / Forever 21 leopard print pants (similar here) / Julian Louie for Aldo wedges

After traipsing the streets of Manhattan & Brooklyn all day, I decided to keep it super casual for Fashion's Night Out. Quiksilver Women tank (similar here) / High-waisted harem pants from Moksha / Triangle necklace from Strut (Portland)

Sunday brunch in Williamsburg followed by Brooklyn Flea browsing & MoMA Quiksilver Women tank / Forever 21 necklace / Vintage Levi's cutoff shorts

Leopard flats & floral top for shopping with fellow bloggers in SoHo!

Floral print tee from Moksha / BCBG high-waisted leather shorts from Sell Your Sole / Dolce Vita leopard oxfords

Fresh Style: Bainbridge Rummage Sale finds

One Saturday in June, my mom, aunt, cousin & I decided to take a last-minute trip to Bainbridge Island for a rummage sale I'd read about on Yay Today.  Little did I know we were walking in on the largest rummage sale on the island, held yearly by the Rotary group there. It took over an entire middle school grounds. From the parking lots to the playgrounds to a few classrooms, Bainbridge Rotary packed the place full of housewares, furniture, clothing, jewelry, sporting equipment and yes - boats and cars.

This were just two massive rooms of many! Below are the books/toys/office room and the bulk clothing section. Mountains upon mountains of clothes!

We spent a few hours there but didn't get too crazy. In fact, we all felt totally unprepared for the onslaught and chaos of the Bainbridge Rotary Rummage Sale. Next time, we're bringing several big cars, sturdy shoes, a water bottle and a strategy!

My total haul for the morning came out to $8! A never-been-worn dress, handmade knit beanie, a few issues of National Geographic & four pairs of old Levi's.

I turned them all into cutoff shorts, and have been wearing them all summer!

Catch the next Bainbridge Island Rotary Auction & Rummage Sale - June 29, 2013.

Seattle: Goodwill South Lake Union Preview Pics!

Just a little less than a week left until the highly-anticipated opening of Goodwill in South Lake Union! I got a preview tour on Friday, and I can say that you're all in for a treat packed into not a lot of square footage.  Remember, this Goodwill is much smaller than normal, at ~4800 sq. ft., compared to a normal Goodwill at 20k sq. ft! This means that the selection at this location is obviously smaller, and carefully curated to appeal to the residents and workers in the neighborhood. 

Goodwill SLU features men's, women's and children's apparel and shoes, housewares and decor, and accessories. The team is very careful about how they merchandise every square foot of the store, and I'm sure they'll be churning through product quickly! I have a few pics here, but you can take a look at my full photo set on the Fresh Jess Facebook page.

Seattle, looking forward to shopping with you when Goodwill SLU opens next Thursday, July 26th at 10:00a.m.!

Welcome to the neighborhood, Goodwill!

I loved how they used space above & between racks to merchandise housewares in colorblocked sets.

A nicely curated set of home accessories. Love all the shag & knit carpeting!

More great selection to cater to the SLU customer.

The dressing rooms are massive! Sweet wooden doors too.

Thanks Katherine & Goodwill for providing a tour for Tina (glam.spoon) & I!

Thrift Shopping Tips from a Value Village Fashion Ambassador

Hi, I'm Jess, and I'm a thrift-a-holic!

Five years ago, you couldn't pay me to go thrift shopping alone. Even though some of those closest to me are lifelong fans, I got easily overwhelmed every time I set foot into a thrift store. Thanks to the rise of fashion blogging, I figured out a way to organize my thoughts and get my mind in the right place for my thrifting outings. Over time, I've mixed thrifted pieces into more and more of my wardrobe, and now, it's a mainstay in my "West Coast fresh" style.

Value Village reached out to me in the spring about becoming one of their Fashion Ambassadors. Even though I'd only been to one in the area, I was excited to see what I could find at other Value Villages around the region. I've made my way to almost all of them in the Puget Sound.

Value Village is great, because they partner with a non-profit close to each store and support that versus a big national one. So even though VV may not be Seattle-grown, they make sure to plant roots in each community they're part of. That means a lot to me.

So what are my tips for shopping smart at your favorite thrift store? 

Know what you want.

I made the choice to use this spring & summer trend reports as a guide to the things I wanted to buy at Value Village this season. I purposefully looked for lots of bright colors, prints and patterns, flowy shirts and denim that could be a DIY project for summer cutoffs.

Favor organic fibers.

I picked this tip up from Tina at GlamSpoon (check out her tips here.) Sticking to cotton, silk and wool will help you weed out the clothes without the staying power of natural fabrics. These are easier to clean and repair if needed.

Don't discriminate!

Not your size? Not a problem. The beauty of thrift shopping is the hunt for great finds. That means being as open-minded as possible. Look in size racks that aren't normally your sizes. You never know what might actually be a great fit - or a fun DIY project!

Try everything on.

This one's a no-brainer, but if you're going to be shopping for all kinds of sizes, it helps to try everything on before you decide what to buy. You'll get the best idea of how to style pieces, what needs to be cleaned, and if there are any stains, rips or other defects that are beyond repair. Oh yeah - make sure all of your zippers and buttons work properly, and repair them immediately if not.

Take risks.

When I'm thrift shopping, I love to try trends and pieces I'd never otherwise try. I even brought home a pair of sheer palazzo pants for the summer! It could be a sleeper hit for your wardrobe, and if it's not, at least you won't have the guilt of having spent cheese on it.

Know when to go.

Ask the store when they get their shipments and how often they restock. Check the website or sign up for their newsletter to get an idea of their sales schedules. What's better than a $4.99 Escada top? One that's half-off of that!

Take notes. 

Hopefully you will be thrift shopping more than once if you're reading these. Take notes of what your experience is like. Which stores do you like and why? What do you tend to gravitate towards when you're buying thrifted pieces? I know now that my favorite Value Village is the Ballard/Crown Hill location, and that I tend to buy more knitwear and button-downs when I'm thrift shopping. This way, you can be more conscious of how your style is evolving and incorporate thrifted pieces that much more easily.

Recognize this? It's my LuckyFABB outfit!

I recently took my girl & fellow thrifty fashion blogger, AlixRose with me to Value Village's Memorial Day sale. EVERYTHING you can wear was half-off! Needless to say, we went crazy at the Ballard store and came out with bags full of new pieces.

My Memorial Day Sale haul included: tons of knitwear and brand-names like: Pendleton, Escada, Calvin Klein, J.Crew, American Eagle Outfitters & its now-defunct brand Martin + Osa & more.

All for $56!

This particular cardigan has seen a lot of play lately. The striped cardi goes with everything and is light enough, but warm enough for Seattle grey days.

Thanks so much to Value Village for their generous offer to be a VV Fashion Ambassador! What an easy & simple way to update my wardrobe for such a great deal.