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Best of the west: our 12 favorite things this month.

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Now you can create .a vertical garden the way the pros do. For the

first time, the peat moss–based medium used by landscapers is available

in smaller sizes for home gardeners. Plantasy vertical garden kits are

the brainchild of Santa Cruz garden designer Kristel Gramlich. Each kit

includes a frame (aluminium for ovals, hearts. Triangles. Aluminum,

plastic. One of four cedar stains for rectangles) with a sturdy hook

on the back and a soilless 10- by 20-inch “growing tile.”. The

tile has stellar air- and water-holding capacities. Anything (really,

anything) you plant will thrive. Our garden team is obsessed. From $120

for 16- by 23-in, kit shown, excluding plants.


2 Cool beans

Seattle is fanatical about its caffeine. We don’t say this

lightly: Slate Coffee Roasters may make the best cup of joe in town.

Once serving solely from an Airstream trailer, Slate recently opened a

storefront in the Ballard neighbourhood. Its menu is pure–no flavours, no

gimmicks–just espresso, espresso with whole milk. Hand-brewed

coffee. (You can ask for sugar–well, simple syrup–and they won’t

be judgey.) “If you want a done-up, 16-oz., nonfat, no-foam caramel

latte, plenty of places do that,”. Says director of education

Brandon Paul Weaver, who won this year’s Northwest Regional Brewers

Cup. “If we’re the one place that doesn’t, we’re

okay with that.”.


3 United Plates United of America

Ceramists Kaitlyn and Ryan Lawless of Orcas Island, Washington,

wanted to celebrate their love of community and of local food. Over

meals of fresh stuff from friends’. Farms, they came up with a way

to bring their skills to the table: crafting a collection of fine

porcelain dishes in the shapes of the 50 states. The dishwasher-and

oven-safe plates are 12 to 14 inches long. All states will be available

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in early November–plenty of time to set out a nice big California of

mashed potatoes for the holidays. $80/plate. Corbe


After a major makeover, Volcano House in Hawai’i Volcanoes

National Park is open again, with many of its 33 rooms so close to the

crater of active Kilauea that you can see molten lava glowing. You may

feel the way Mark Twain did in 1866 when he wrote, “The surprise of

finding a good hotel in such an outlandish spot startled me considerably

more than the volcano did.”. From $335 for volcano-view rooms;


There’s a strange romance to fire lookouts–those lonely,

sometimes spindly-legged cabins in remote corners of the West.

“Each one has a unique story,”. Says Kyle Johnson, a

Seattle-based photographer so smitten with the outposts, most built in

the 1930s and ’40s, that he set out to photograph all 92 remaining

in Washington, which once had more than 600. That’s Granite

Mountain Lookout above. It’s in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National

Forest and reachable by a steep 4.3-mile trail. See more pictures on his

engaging website.


6 Travelers’. Tails

A home-for-the-holidays trip often includes family members who wag

their hellos. Happily, next month a terrific resource for people

traveling with pets,, will publish its first book–Ruff

Guide to the United States (Kendall Media. $25)–a compendium of the

best dog-friendly accommodations. (A free iPhone app, BringFido, already

exists.) Pack kibble in Outward Hound’s dog-food storage bag. From




Brush up your Shakespeare (a 1623 First Folio). Gaze at a Gutenberg

Bible. Go with Thoreau (via the manuscript of Walden). One of the

country’s most dazzling historical collections now has an

impressively refurbished home–the Main Exhibition Hall of the

Huntington Library in San Marino, California, reopening on November 9.

The new permanent exhibit includes rare works by Chaucer, Dante,

Dickens, Lincoln, Susan B. Anthony, Audubon. Others. It’s so

absorbing that you might've to save the Huntington’s

picture-perfect botanical gardens for a separate trip. $20 weekdays, $23



8 Oil boom

Bright green, with a grassy, sassy, peppery flavour, unfiltered olio

nuovo–new oil, the first press of the olive-harvest season–has a short

(but deliciously happy) shelf life, from November to February.

Here’s where to sample the good stuff.

The Olio Nuovo Festival at RED RIDGE FARMS near Dayton, Oregon,

runs November 22-24. Tour, then taste. Free. $15/250-ml. bottle;

McEVOY RANCH in Petaluma, California, is hosting a Holiday Open

House on December 8. There’ll be live music and light refreshments,

including olio nuovo and estate-made Meyer lemon marmalade. Free,

registration required. $24/375-ml. bottle.

Harvest starts on November 18 at PASOLIVO in Paso Robles,

California. Stop by to watch the pressing and taste super-fresh oil.

Free. $32/375-ml. tin.

9 Beyond Tofurky

The president pardons a single symbolic Thanksgiving turkey. Vegans

spare the whole species (and all others, plus their by-products). Three

top-notch restaurants offer vegan holiday fare so good, it’ll

please omnivores too.

CROSSROADS, L.A. On T-Day, chef Tal Ronnen will serve a four-course

meal starring rosemary and hazelnut scaloppine with cranberry Cabernet

sauce. The supporting cast includes brussels sprouts with maple-mustard

glaze (right). $75.

GRAZE RESTAURANT, VANCOUVER, B.C. Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving

in October. Graze’s November menu is perfect for holiday

visitors from below. Try the celery root and wild-rice torte with golden

beets, wild mushrooms. Juniper glaze. $$ U.S..


gluten-free bakery has rolled out an array of seasonal treats, including

pumpkin ginger cheesecake, pumpkin cupcakes with maple-cream cheese

frosting. Pumpkin-chocolate chip whoopie pies. It also offers chili

and a veggie flatbread. $.



Why are so many people obsessed with San Francisco’s fog?

It’s just a weather pattern, albeit one with tens of thousands of

Twitter and Instagram followers (see @karthefog). For the past four

years, filmmakers Sam Green and Andy Black have worked at answering that

question. See the results in the entertaining short-short film A

Cinematic Study of Fog in San Francisco, starting November 9 at the

Oakland Museum of California. Stay for Bay Motion: Capturing San

Francisco Bay on Film, a film and video collection of 60,000-plus images

of the Bay Area today. $15.


11 Totables for potables

Made from sturdy canvas with strong handles, this two-bottle wine

tote is as practical as it's playful. It’s wide enough to

accommodate some mighty Champagne. San Francisco designer Susanne Maddux

makes single-bottle totes with this motif. We also like the one labeled

simply yet eloquently “Hooch.”. Single $14, double $19;


In her backyard Portland studio, former fashion stylist Shay

Carrillo transforms vintage textiles from around the globe into gorgeous

new pillows. The raw materials for the current offerings from

Non-Perishable Goods, her label, include embroidered Japanese blankets,

woven Laotian fabric. Colourful Indian kantha quilts. Her designs

vary depending on the textiles she discovers. Just one pillow will

chic-ify a sofa or bed–but you may crave more. $260 each for 22- by

56-in, kantha bed pillows (shown), including insert. Nonperishablegoods.


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