Our Favorites

Our Favorite Books Set in the Pacific Northwest

pacific-northwest-books

The Rain or Shine duo are avid readers. And what is better than falling into a good book that is set in a location you are familiar with. It just makes it that much easier to follow the character through their lives. We've compiled our favorite books set in the Pacific Northwest for your reading pleasure! 

Full disclosure: You aren't going to find Twilight on this list. But no judgement, we poured through those books too -- just not on our favorites list. 

Snow Falling on Cedars

Snow Falling on Cedars is part historical fiction, part murder mystery, and part love story. Based right after WWII on an island off the coast of Washington State, you experience the story of the Japanese internment, interracial love, and the culture of small-town America in the 1930s-50s. This amazing, bestselling novel by David Guterson sheds light on the tragic history of the Pacific Northwest during the Second World War and what these events meant in the long-term for many Americans. 

Buy it here.

Where'd You Go Bernadette

This book will make you laugh out loud, which makes sense because Maria Semple, the author, also writes for SNL, Arrested Development, and Ellen. In Where'd You Go Bernadette you hop between the viewpoint of Bernadette, the misunderstood mother, and Bee, Bernadette's incredibly smart and adorable daughter. Things get interesting when Bernadette disappears and Bee must put together the clues to find out where her mother has gone. If you're a Seattleite, you'll also get the added pleasure of many local references! 

Buy it here.

Today Will Be Different

Another hilarious and witty book by Maria Semple (see above) set in Seattle. If you enjoyed Where'd You Go Bernadette, you'll enjoy this too. A well-to-do mother living in Belltown has to battle with her life as it goes off the rails. If you like dark humor and Seattle, you'll enjoy this one (maybe slightly less so than Where'd You Go Bernadette though). 

Buy it here. 

The Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

This book takes you back through history as the narrator, Henry Lee, a Chinese-American, discovers a parasol in the basement of the Panama Hotel, a remnant he is sure belonged to someone he knew as a child in Seattle. Readers flashback and get to experience a much different Seattle through Henry's memories. One full of growth and excitement, but also stained with racism. It's a gripping story and you'll find yourself falling in love with Henry as he tells his story. 

Buy it here. 

The Art of Racing in the Rain 

The Art of Racing in the Rain is presented from the viewpoint of a very clever and adorable dog, Enzo. Enzo is the loyal companion of Denny, an up and coming race car driver who seems to be confronted frequently with near-impossible situations (cancer, custody battles, it really isn't a walk in the park). But in between the trials and tribulations there are moments of joy, like in any life. Enzo tells the tale of his owner with compassion and fierce loyalty. Full disclosure: This one might leave you shedding a few tears, especially if you are a sap for dogs. 

Buy it here. 

Beautiful Ruins

This book immediately pulls you into a world that everyone wants to be apart of. Readers spend most of their time being transported between the Italian coast and Hollywood (with some visits to the U.K. and the PNW as well) as a lost-love story emerges. Pasquale is an innkeeper in a 1960s Italian fishing village. Dee Moray is an American actress visiting. Love sparks. And so begins a story that spans 50 years, jumping through decades and keeping you enticed at every page turn. 

Buy it here. 

The Orchardist

This is the story of a quiet orchardist, William Talmadge, who tends orchards in the Pacific Northwest in the early 1900s. William's quiet life is interrupted one day when two pregnant runaways show up on his orchard. As William let's these girls into his life you learn of their troubled past and as the years unfold, you also learn of William's history. This book is full of heart-wrenching moments and isn't what one would consider a "feel good" story, but it's powerful and moving in so many ways it's a must-read for fans of PNW fiction. 

Buy it here. 

Boys in the Boat

This real life underdog tale will not only have you engrossed in the history of the sport of rowing (who knew it was so interesting?!), but also brings you through one of the U.S.'s most trying times as a country, the Great Depression/pre WWII era. The book focuses on the story of Joe Rantz, a teenager who has barely a nickel to his name and makes his way onto the University of Washington rowing team and slowly works his way to greatness. This book transports you back to a Seattle we have only seen photos of and takes you through the ups and downs of a team of men learning about integrity and hard work. 

Buy it here. 

There are so many more than what is just on this list, but these are our recommendations. What are we missing? Let us know in the comments! 

Salish Lodge and Spa: A Relaxing and Rejuvenating Weekend Getaway

We all love to get out of the city every once in a while. Luckily in our area it's fairly easy to do. We are surrounded by remote, beautiful landscapes full of small, quaint towns. Snoqualmie is no secret; it's a great place to visit and slow down for a weekend, but what I think a lot of people don't know is it shouldn't be treated as a day trip. Oh, no. Because nestled above Snoqualmie Falls is Salish Lodge and Spa and it's an attraction in itself. Book a night and experience the history and beauty of the area. We promise you won't regret the decision. 

Here's why. 

Every room comes with the guarantee of relaxation. 

If you look up relaxation in the dictionary, it will basically say, "Why are you reading this dictionary, go to Salish and you'll know what relaxation means." It won't... but seriously, just wait you are going to be so relaxed. 

Almost every room at the lodge comes with a view of the Snoqualmie River. Every room has a jetted bathtub and goose down feather bedding. Every room has a fireplace that burns real wood. This gives off an amazingggg smell of firewood. Oh, and the rooms also come with either a balcony or a window seat, which means fresh air and waterfall sounds. See? Told ya. 

The staff are wonderful and they truly love the place they work. 

No one wants to get to their relaxing hotel getaway and have a "too cool for school" hipster staring back at them. Leave that in Seattle and arrive at a place that is happy. Salish is full of people who are proud to work in a place of esteem and history. Smiles and good humor are in abundance, which makes visiting that much more enjoyable. 

The restaurants on the premise are full of delicious food and beverages.

Salish has two amazing restaurants. The main restaurant, The Dining Room, serves up PNW fare in a stylish dining room. The best seats in the house overlook the falls, giving you the opportunity to eat your country breakfast or pan seared pacific cod while enjoying a great view. The bar in Salish, dubbed The Attic for its top of the line views from the peaks of the lodge, is great for more low-key dining. Grab a flatbread and the famous honey hopped ale for a casual night... wait for it... enjoying the view. 

honey ale on tap at Salish Lodge

The spa seems to be a place you could go to and then die happy.

Getting the "spa level" package when you stay at Salish will take your experience to a whole new level. Their therapeutic soaking pools and full suite of spa services will leave you zen AF. 

 The soaking pools at Salish are calling your nameeee. Photo cred: Salish Lodge and Spa

The soaking pools at Salish are calling your nameeee. Photo cred: Salish Lodge and Spa

They are committed to the environment. 

In 2011, Salish decided to commit part of their property to start an apiary for honeybees. They've now tripled their hives and these bees pollinate 80% of their flowering crops and provide the lodge with their (now famous) honey. They also have an 800 sq. ft garden that provides the on site restaurants with organic, locally-raised produce. #HealthyLiving

Even the breakfast comes with a bit of history.

Salish has been around since 1916, which means it has a teeny bit of history attached to it. Back then it was just a small eight cabin lodge offering a place to stay and a big breakfast for travelers about to head through the mountains. Now it's a beautiful, award winning hotel that is a popular destination for travelers near and far. Be sure to appreciate the native art that decorates your room and the wood-burning fireplaces.

 Salish Lodge back in the day! 

Salish Lodge back in the day! 

Salish's best tradition happens in The Dining Room -- The Country Breakfast. Prepare your stomach and you'll walk away a happy camper. It's a four course breakfast that will take you at least an hour and half to finish, but it comes with a history of nourishing hungry travelers and the last course gets you a healthy serving of the local honey. Definitely well-worth the price tag. 

Who doesn't love a good waterfall? 

When you stay at Salish you literally sit right on top of one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Washington State. At 268 feet, Snoqualmie Falls is truly a sight to see. The park that is built around it offers great views and a nice history lesson. Don't forget to watch out for the Peregrine Falcons that nest nearby. And also the selfie sticks, those things come out of nowhere. 

The gift shop is on POINT.

We do our christmas shopping here because it is full of all the best goodies. This isn't a place you go to buy a tacky t-shirt and an orca stuffed animal. It's the real deal. Think luxurious bath bombs, beautiful ornaments, and the best honey products made with love from the Salish honeybees. You'll want to budget to leave behind some of your weekend spending money here. 

honey from Salish Lodge

Check out our post "5 Things to Check Out in Snoqualmie, WA" for ideas if you have time to kill.

Have you stayed at Salish Lodge? We would love to hear your favorite memories and tips in the comments! 

5 Reasons Seattle is the Best City in the World

Seattle

The City of Seattle is home to about 700,000 people. If you count all the surrounding areas the number swells to 4 million. During the last census we found out that we are the fastest growing city in the nation. And you know what? It all makes sense. Because Seattle is the greatest place on earth and the secret is out. 

1. We are diverse. 

 Ethnic food of all variety!

Ethnic food of all variety!

Seattle is a place where everyone is welcome. Being surrounded by people of all shapes, sizes, colors, cultures, and sexualities is the number one reason it is so much fun to live here. We love going out to events and meeting people with different backgrounds than we have. It makes it interesting and exciting and educational. 

The diversity of individuals has manifested into a funky and unique city. We have mouthwatering restaurants that serve authentic food from around the world. We have music performances from all different genres. We have art museums with work from artists from all walks of life. Our neighborhoods are vibrant and change drastically depending on where you are. We have trolls living under our bridges and people handing out daffodils on street corners. Waking up in Seattle means waking up to a million interesting possibilities in the day ahead of you!

2. We have mountains, ocean, and so much green in between. 

 Mt. Dickerman

Mt. Dickerman

We have everything when it comes to geology! You can be in a rainforest in the morning, next be on an island whale watching in the afternoon, and fall asleep that night in the mountains surrounded by stars and snow. You can also conveniently hop on a bus and be at one of the many lakes in and around our city. It is truly magical and we pinch ourselves all the time to remember that yes, this is a real place, not a dream world Walt Disney made up. 

3. Living a healthy life is a piece of cake. 

 Jumping is a form of exercise

Jumping is a form of exercise

Seattle makes living a healthy and active life easy and fun. Because of those mountains, oceans and lakes you have a big adult playground at your fingertips and a crazy range of activities to keep you entertained for decades. Try to hike every beautiful trail, kayak on every lake, and bike every path. The moderate weather means walking around the city is easy.  There is no freezing snow or sweltering heat to keep you indoors. Queen Anne residents don't even have to enjoy hiking, they stay fit just from walking up their massive hill. Once you get done with your day just head into one of our many restaurants that serve local, organic, and fresh food. 

4. We are chill AF

 The uniform of Seattle

The uniform of Seattle

You can wear flannel to 99.9% of the establishments around town and no one will bat an eyelash. You could walk into a 5 star restaurant in cycling gear and they will strike up a conversation about what you ride. We don't place emphasis on what brand you are wearing or how much money you spend at the salon every month. We are much more interested in your actions and how you contribute positively to the community. 

5. We set trends.

 Kombucha is a thing and plentiful

Kombucha is a thing and plentiful

You don't have to wait five years for Kombucha to be a thing. You'll never have to ask yourself, "What is virtual reality?" You don't have to wonder what good beer tastes like as you sip your Bud Light. And you don't have to worry about hiding your pot. Seattle is hip and cool and does things before other places, which makes you feel cool when you travel and know about stuff other people don't. Go ahead, ask us our stance on play-based education or the proper device to brew coffee with (obvi it's a Chemex). 

We count ourselves #blessed to live in our little corner of the world. What are some of your favorite things about Seattle? We would love to hear in the comments! 

Rain or Shine Guides: A Year in Review

We launched our site almost exactly one year ago today. It has been one hell of a trip around the sun with a lot of highlights and lowlights. We learned a few lessons and made a few changes. As we prepare for our next year as travel bloggers we wanted to slow down and take a minute to reflect on all the people who helped us get to this point and give some advice to other people thinking of taking a similar journey. 

 Team Rain or Shine

Team Rain or Shine

Our Favorite posts

Over the last 365 days we have had the opportunity to do a lot of cool stuff and meet a ton of great people along the way. Here are our top 3 favorite posts. 

Kristina: 

  • The Tallest Drinks in Seattle - This post was so fun to research and write. It meant we went to all the best views in the city and drank delicious drinks. I probably wouldn't have made it a point to get dinner at the top of the Space Needle, but it ended up being one of my favorite experiences to date all thanks to doing blog research for Rain or Shine. 
  • Film Photobooths Around Seattle - I really love this post because it represents me finding new things I love through the blog. Sarah is a big photobooth person and knew about a ton of spots in Seattle where you could get "old-fashioned" film photo strips. She shared that love with me and now that I know about all of them I love revisiting them with different friends and collecting the authentic black and white strips!
  • Top 5 Cocktails in Pike Place Market - This was one of our first posts and I remember thinking if I got a group of people together we could easily spend an evening in Pike Place Market trying cocktails at all the different bars. Six or seven bars and 5 hours later we were all drunk and having the best night of our lives. The group that went out that night still reminisces about how naive we were, but how much fun we had. 

Sarah: 

  • All of the Meet the Makers - One of the highlights for me has been getting to meet new people and see what they are "making." I always learn so much about their craft (and usually get a sample or two). It's inspiring to see people following their passions and spending their time creating things we can enjoy. We have a bunch more Meet the Makers in the works, and we can't wait to share them.
  • Moore Coffee - I love finding wacky things in the city, and I love coffee. Combining the two was a total win for me! It's energizing to explore new spaces, get a mid-day treat, and have it be fun to boot. And anytime you can turn something ordinary into something special it will be something I can get behind.
  • Long Beach - I live to travel. It is my favorite thing to do. And while I do spend a lot of time traveling internationally and around the states, there is so much to see and do right in our own backyard. Long Beach is a sleepy little beach town, but I had such a good time exploring that area, trying the local restaurants, and riding bikes. I can't wait to seek out more of these little towns in our area whether they are beach front or in the mountains.
 Pike Place Market Instagram Takeover

Pike Place Market Instagram Takeover

Big Accomplishments: 

  • Getting into Instagram takeovers. Pike Place Market approached us in September last year and asked us to takeover their Instagram account for a weekend to show people around The Market, Rain or Shine style. This was crazy fun, got us a lot of new exposure, and gave us the idea to start reaching out to other businesses to do the same thing for them. 
  • Partnering up with ParentMap. A friend connected us with this local magazine and they have since started publishing our content. Not only do we get paid, but they force us to explore and write content we might not have normally thought about. 
  • Figuring out what works. Neither of us were "tech people" before we started this blog. Since then we have both learned a lot about coding, design, creative writing, and photography. It's been great to broaden our skill sets and see the blog transform as we do. 
 Having fun!

Having fun!

Lessons Learned: 

1. You can't do it alone.

Without the help of many many people this blog wouldn't exist. Don't be afraid to ask for help and know that your friends always have your back. To name a few: Amy Dickson, our amazing wine writer who contributes top notch content and helps us discover new things in the city. Tristan Plank and Eric Durr, our pro-bono design team who help us navigate the wonderful world of colors and arranging information. Michi Broman, our mentor and cheerleader who told us that we were smart and creative enough to do this. Piper Hackett and Chris Ruiz for all their typos and grammar catches while copyediting. And last but not least, our moms, for always being our first likes on Facebook. 

2. Time management is key (and hard).

Having full time jobs and running a blog, while also having time for your family, friends, and yourself is harder than some might imagine. We have definitely found that a content calendar and sharing the workload equally helps us stay sane and happy. 

3. Building something from nothing is incredibly rewarding (and hard).

To say we are proud of what we have going here would be an understatement. We love exploring the city and always finding new ways to share our experiences with our readers in a fun way. Both of us love the outlet the blog gives us to flex our creative muscles.

4. No one can tell you how to do it.

You just have to trust yourself, communicate, and take it a day at a time. We have read all the blog posts on how to make a million dollars in one month blogging or which platforms work the best for bloggers. At the end of the day we took some of the advice we got, but we left a lot of it behind too. Only you can know what will work for your life. Being flexible and easy going will keep everyone a lot happier and you will create something that is authentic to who you are.

5. Seattle is an amazing city, full of amazing people, and we love getting to know every nook and cranny of this place.

This blog keeps us active, excited, and young. We are constantly trying new restaurants, new activities, and spontaneously walking down new streets just to see what might be at the other end. The people we have met in the last year are all incredible and truly make our city a better place. Some of them have become our friends and all of them have been added to our lives. How freaking lucky are we? We really couldn't possibly live in a better place!


Cheers and thank you to all of you who have helped make this blog possible. Here is to another 365 days of exploration! - Kristina and Sarah