By Lorna Saboe-Wounded Head, CFCS, CPFFE, Family Resource Management Field Specialist for SDSU Extension
Even if you do not specialize in personal finance, there are many reasons for family and consumer sciences and related professionals to attend the AAFCS 108th Annual Conference & Expo, “Financial Fitne$$: Trends, Innovations & Impacts,” in Dallas this June!
Capstone Luncheon Speaker Richard Cordray–if you know who he is and what he has done, I don’t need to say more. If you do not know him, think about the topic of consumer rights. In the 60’s when President Kennedy presented a special message to Congress on protecting the consumer interest, he recognized that consumers are the largest economic group in the economy because two-thirds of all spending is done by consumers. The Bill of Consumer Rights was needed because consumers were not being fairly treated by all businesses. Cordray, as Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), has continued to work to protect consumers. The CFPB works on behalf of consumers by holding companies accountable for illegal practices and returning $11.8 billion in relief to consumers. Additionally, the CFPB has responded to over 1.1 million complaints from consumers. This one agency has worked to improve the quality of life for individuals, families, and communities. Hmmm, what other organization does that work?
Behavioral economics may not seem like a topic for FCS professionals, but integrating this information can really enhance our work to help others reach their full potential. Understanding why we make the decisions that we do regarding our finances is what Opening General Session Keynote Speaker Dr. Sarah Newcomb focuses on in her work. She looks at the human side of money by considering the correlation between values and financial decisions. She works to bridge the gap between psychological barriers and good financial management. Not only will this information be valuable for our work, but it can also be used in our personal lives.
The speakers for the “FITtalks” Lunch and Learn are top of the line (seen below in ordered mentioned)! Susan Sharkey, Director of Youth Programs for the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE), is a former business teacher whose mission is to provide opportunities for youth to improve their financial literacy skills. I have heard her speak a number of times. She is very engaging and delivers a great message. Next Gen Personal Finance, developed by Tim Ranzetta, is a non-profit organization that connects educators with free resources, yes FREE. So if you come to the conference, you can learn about these resources and use them in your work or share them with anyone in your community who teaches personal finance. The third Lunch and Learn speaker, Courtney Collins, is a broadcast journalist who currently is the lead reporter for the series “One Crisis Away,” which is about life on the financial edge. As professionals, no matter what our role is, financial crises affect the wellness and stability of the individuals and families in our community. Courtney can provide insight on how to meet the needs of our audiences.
So, have I provided you with enough enticing reasons to attend the 108th AAFCS Annual Conference & Expo, even if you do not teach or work in the area of personal finance? If I have not, read or reread AAFCS staff member Sara Tantillo’s post about places to visit in Dallas–there is a lot to see and do. Remember, Early-Bird registration is only good through April 14th!
By Sara Tantillo, AAFCS Associate Director, Events & Outreach
In mid-October, I traveled to Dallas, Texas to check out our hotel for the 108th Annual Conference & Expo, learn more about the city and its surroundings, and visit the sites of our educational excursions. I had a wonderful time, and I’m so excited to share what I learned with you!
In August, I took a quick detour from a professional development event to tour the hotel—so this fall’s trip was shorter than usual, arriving Sunday afternoon and leaving Tuesday afternoon. When flying into Dallas, you have two options for airports close to the hotel—I decided to fly into Dallas-Love Field (DAL). Love Field is just 15 minutes from the hotel, and the larger local airport, Dallas-Ft. Worth, is less than a half hour away. I rented a car as I had so many places to visit, but you’ll be able to save money by using our deal with SuperShuttle! If you’re planning on spending some time exploring the area on your own—and we recommend that you take a few extra days to do so—we also have a great deal with Hertz Rent-a-Car. Of course, taxis are also readily available at both airports.
I landed in Dallas around 2pm on Sunday, picked up my rental car, and headed right on out to visit a few of our excursion locations! The Perot Museum of Nature and Science is one of Dallas’s most lauded museums.
While I didn’t have too much time, I was able to walk through many of its exhibits, including a beautiful exhibit on minerals and their dinosaur room! Not only does the museum have many educational exhibits, the building itself is a learning opportunity! The building was designed with sustainability as its focus. It incorporates recycled materials, holds rainwater collection roof cisterns, recaptures air conditioning condensation to meet plumbing demands in the summer, utilizes natural light whenever possible and takes
advantage of solar panels when not. As you walk through the museum, you can observe many of these aspects—both by looking out the windows and reading plaques on the walls! If you decide to go on this excursion, you’ll enjoy a guided tour focusing on the sustainable architecture and design, and will of course have some time to explore the museum on your own. (and, as always, visit the gift shop—I picked up multiple gifts!)
After my visit to Perot, I headed over to check out the Dallas Farmers’ Market! The Market is split up into two areas—the Market space, where there are many small vendors including restaurants and shops—and the Shed, where local farms set up. It was near the end of the day and the Shed was clearing out, but I did have time to check out the fantastic-looking vendors in the Market. When you visit as part of the Nutrition, Food Service and Hospitality educational excursion, you’ll speak with one of the chefs, along with the Director of Market Operations!
The Market was the last stop on the schedule for Sunday, so it was finally time to head over to the hotel and check in. The hotel is just beautiful—you walk into a large, airy lobby, and the reservation desks are easy to find! I headed on up to my room to put everything away and rest for a few minutes before my night out with the Dallas Local Advisory Committee chairs, Frances Hare and Sheri Dragoo!
Frances and Sheri picked me up and we headed over to Savor Gastropub, located next to Klyde Warren Park, a green space in the middle of downtown Dallas that’s always buzzing with activities and events! The menu changes to reflect the seasons, but if it’s still on the menu when you visit, I recommend the shrimp and grits with andouille sausage!
After dinner they took me on a quick driving tour, and we headed over to see Trinity Groves, where there are lots of shops and restaurants—with a great view of downtown! More on Trinity Groves later.
Sheri and Frances dropped me off at the hotel and I headed up to get some rest—Monday was going to be a long day!
I got up Monday morning bright and early, ready to head to my first stop of the day! Before I left, I grabbed a latte and bagel at Coffee’s Post, in the lobby of the hotel. They have lots of quick options for breakfast and lunch, and will have extra cashiers available during Annual Conference! I headed over to Bonton Farms, the site of one of our Wednesday educational excursions, “Bonton Farms: An Oasis in the Food Desert,” to meet with Daron Babcock, the executive director. Bonton Farms is located in a neighborhood of Dallas that has fallen on hard times—the area is a food desert, disease rates are high, and so is poverty.
At the farm, they grow many types of vegetables and fruit, and raise chickens, pigs, goats, and bees! They not only provide fresh vegetables and fruit to the community, they also provides jobs for community members on their last chances. By selling to high-end restaurants around the city at a markup, they’re able to sell to locals at a loss. Daron gave me a quick tour of the farm, explaining the history, and I walked through the pens and met the very friendly goats, chickens, and pigs (the bees and I did not meet!) Learning about all the good work they’re doing was a great way to start the day, and I highly recommend the Wednesday excursion!
After hanging with the chickens, I hopped back in the car to visit somewhere completely different—AT & T Stadium, home to the Dallas Cowboys! I was met by Mike Lineman, my group tours representative, and we took off on a quick tour of the stadium!
With stops in the stands, the luxury box, the locker rooms, and the bowels of the stadium—and of course a photo opportunity on the field—I got a chance to see just a bit of what you’ll have the chance to tour when you join us for the Nutrition, Food Service and Hospitality excursion! Unfortunately my timeline did not overlap with the chef’s, so I was not able to meet with him, as you’ll be able to!
Next on the list was the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden! It was a beautiful day—in the high 70s—so perfect for a stroll through the gorgeous gardens! I met up with Lorna Munson in group sales, and she gave me a quick tour of the Arboretum. The gardens are lovely—and they were all decorated for Halloween, with a grove of sculptures made of pumpkins and gourds! The Arboretum is very design-focused—it’s very clear how much thought went into the design, and our excursion there will focus on design and the architecture within the Arboretum. After Lorna gave me a tour, showing off where excursion attendees will enjoy their picnic lunch, and showing me some of the most interesting gardens, I took some time to walk around on my own and stopped in at the snack bar for their signature chicken salad sandwich!
The Arboretum was my last planned excursion stop for the day. I headed back to the hotel to meet with our AV company and the company handling the expo, and spent some time walking around the hotel to refamiliarize myself with the space after my August visit. Most meeting rooms are located along one hallway—they all have windows, and are easy to access! Our registration space will be just off the main lobby, easy to reach and nice and open for our welcome reception, “Boots, Buck$, & BBQ,” included in all full and Monday-Only registrations! Head just downstairs from the registration area and you’ll find not only the expo space, but also the entrance to the Reunion Tower, where you can enjoy an amazing meal at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant, Five Sixty (reservations recommended)! You can also take a trip through the tunnels and end in Union Station!
The hotel showcases the history of Dallas and Texas as a whole in its decorations—the Pegasus Room, where we’ll be holding several meetings, welcomes guests with the city’s iconic neon Pegasus (learn more about how the Pegasus became iconic in Dallas here!). In the Cotton Bowl room, you’ll find tons of Dallas memorabilia on the walls—be sure to arrive early to meetings held there so you can check it out!
When planning my Monday schedule, I made sure to leave plenty of time in the afternoon to explore the area around the hotel. The great weather continued into the afternoon, so I headed out through the tunnels that connect the hotel to Union Station (accessible by Amtrak, Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Light Rail, and DART buses)—about 2 minutes’ travel—and went down Houston St, directly outside the station, toward Dealey Plaza and the Sixth Floor Museum, which is about a 15-minute stroll away. If you’re interested in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, you know the significance of that location! Houston Street not only has several small historical parks along with Dealey Plaza and the Museum, it also hosts several other museums—the Old Red Museum of Dallas County and the Dallas Holocaust Museum. Just a few blocks away are several larger parks—John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza and Founder’s Plaza. It was such a nice day that I took a long walk down Houston and spent some time sitting in Founder’s Plaza, people watching and knitting! The Plaza is directly across the street from El Centro College, where one of our Sunday excursions will be held. The trip down Houston Street will also be part of our Sunday morning architectural tour, A Walking Tour of the West End Architecture District!
As I still had a bit more time, I decided to hop in a cab and head over to Trinity Groves —maybe there was something there I could add to my excursion list! I took a quick walk around, seeing all the great restaurants that are in one place, and zeroed in on Kate Weiser Chocolate. Unique and fancy chocolates are my weakness—and this was just the place for me! This tiny boutique offers all sorts of hand-crafted truffles, chocolates, candy bars, toffee, and some amazing seasonal special confectionaries. I picked up a small box of chocolates for the office and a delicious “Blonde Bombshell” chocolate bar, with sesame seed brittle and caramelly Dulcey Chocolate! While I was there, I spoke briefly with a staff member—later, I followed up, and we have a fantastic guided tasting planned with Kate herself! If you select that excursion, you’ll also have the chance to stick around a bit longer and eat dinner at one of the local restaurants.
While it was getting close to dinner time, the light was still strong so I headed across the street to the Ronald Kirk Pedestrian Bridge, a gorgeous pedestrian-only bridge across the Trinity River. The bridge holds play areas for kids, events, bike racks, and more—it’s a really fantastic addition to the city! The view of the Dallas skyline is just beautiful, and you can see the Reunion Tower clearly! You can walk from Trinity Groves all the way to the hotel across the bridge—it’s about a 2-mile walk, so make sure you have plenty of time before it gets dark! We’ll have directions and a map of the best route at the registration desk–make sure to stop by!
After that long walk and the VERY long day, I decided to order room service—they have an extensive and fairly reasonably-priced room service menu (try the chicken tortilla soup!) rather than checking out either of the hotel restaurants I hadn’t yet visited, Parrino’s Oven and Monduel’s. I’m hoping when we’re back in June that I’ll have a free night to head down and check them out!
I can, however, highly recommend the Centennial Café! When I visited in August, I tried the Southwest Salad for lunch and the Vegetable Hash for breakfast, both of which are delicious. And on Tuesday, Centennial Café was my first stop before checking out and heading to my last stop of the trip. This time, along with my cup of coffee I tried the Brisket Skillet—in every city I visit, I try to select one of the regional specialties, and this was it! It was absolutely fantastic, and very filling.
After breakfast, I went upstairs to pick up my bags, checked out, and then left my bags at the front desk, as you’ll be able to do if you plan to leave Wednesday evening after the Capstone Luncheon (included in all full and Wednesday-only registrations)! I then walked over to El Centro College, where I met with Institute Director Steve DeShazo, who gave me a tour and lots of information about their fantastic Food & Hospitality Department, which you’ll have a chance to tour on Sunday! We’ll also be holding an excursion at El Centro’s Fashion Department on Wednesday—unfortunately I didn’t get to visit, but I know it will be a really fantastic and educational tour!
El Centro was my last stop on what was a really wonderful and productive visit to Dallas! I hopped in the car and headed back to Love Field, where I relaxed until my flight. I can’t wait to get back to Dallas in June, and I hope you’ll join us there! Click here to learn even more about this year’s conference, and remember to register by April 14th to save!
By Tara Dairman, Children’s Book Author
People who’ve read my novel All Four Stars and its sequels often ask me how I became a writer. Sometimes they also want to know where my book ideas come from. (Ha, if only I knew! I’d go back and grab a few more.)
But recently, a friend asked a different question: How did I get interested in “the food side of things”? Cooking, and eating adventurously, play a huge role in my books—and I bet a lot of readers assume that (like my foodie heroine, Gladys), I’ve been passionate about food since childhood. But they’d be wrong about that.
I don’t talk about my “foodie awakening” as much as I should. But here goes. Though I wasn’t like Gladys as a kid, my parents were in some ways like her parents. They weren’t cooks. They didn’t own any cookbooks, or clip recipes from magazines. And neither of them had been taught to cook when they were younger. It was a skill that had, between generations, slipped out of use in our family.
As a result, the kitchen was like a foreign country to them—and a kind of scary one. Sharp knives could cut you! The stove burned! They didn’t have experience using these tools, so they only saw the dangers. The microwave seemed safe enough, so they cooked pretty much anything they could in it (and some things that you probably shouldn’t). And when our freezer ran low on microwaveable meals, we ate cereal or got takeout.
So perhaps not surprisingly, I was not an adventurous eater when I was a kid. (I was a lot more like Parm in my books than like Gladys!) I hadn’t been exposed to a wide range of good-tasting food, so I didn’t like much of it. Finally, in high school, I started trying new cuisines, thanks to a club advisor who made it his mission to blow our minds with Indian, Ethiopian, Malaysian, and Japanese food.
But it wasn’t until much later—when I was a college student, on the verge of living on my own—that I took a hard look at my future as an eater. I could go the way of my parents, relying on frozen-meal companies and fast-food joints to feed me for the rest of my life, or I could roll up my sleeves and learn how to cook.
I bought a copy of Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything, asked for a food processor for my birthday, and never looked back.
Those first days of cooking, on break from school at my parents’ house, were slow and a little painful—especially when I’d promised everyone dinner at 7, only to get it on the table at 9. But with practice, I grew more confident, and the results grew more delicious. My parents may not have cooked much for me, but they let me cook for them, and soon we were sitting around the table together, enjoying a homemade meal. I had turned a pile of raw ingredients into something nourishing for the people I loved—and I was truly shocked at how powerful that made me feel.
So, that’s my story about “the food side of things.” I kept enjoying new cuisines and making food for others. I finally got brave enough to attempt my dream of writing a novel, and I wanted to make my newfound passion for food a part of it. When I got the idea to write about a young girl whose parents ban her from the kitchen after a cooking mishap—a girl whose dream is to become a restaurant critic—I knew I’d struck gold.
When I meet readers today, some tell me that my books have nudged them to try a recipe out for themselves. It’s not often that we fiction writers get to hear about our stories affecting people’s real lives. But knowing that Gladys’s foodie adventures have inspired kids to develop a skill that I know will serve them—and others around them—for the rest of their days…well, I can’t help but weep salty little tears of happiness.
Saturday, December 3, is #FCSDay, when tens of thousands of people commit to “dining in” with family and friends. To celebrate, the American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences (AAFCS)—with support from my publisher, Penguin—will be giving away several sets of the All Four Stars trilogy to participants as prizes. To learn more and sign up to “Dine In,” visit www.aafcs.org/FCSDay, and follow the #FCSDay and #healthyfamselfie hashtags on social media.
To learn more about my books and experiences in cooking, please visit www.taradairman.com!
By Sara Tantillo, AAFCS Professional Development Manager
Tuesday started bright and early, with a walk around Bellevue to take a look at the site for this year’s “FCS Completes the Circle” Fun Run/Walk, a beautiful park near our conference hotel. Once we had our morning walk, we hopped in the car and headed into Seattle for a busy and fun-filled day!
We began the day at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room, a one-of-a-kind space where they roast several different kinds of beans, offer exclusive roasts and give you the chance to try brand new and unique food and drinks. The excursion that includes a visit to the Roastery will give
you a chance to learn about how coffee is grown, selected, and roasted, along with a tasting session and tour of the Roastery. We met with Events Specialist Renee Frechin, to get a quick tour along with a lesson on the many ways to brew coffee! Once we’d finished the “work” part of our visit, we grabbed breakfast—lattes with a coffee exclusive to the Roastery, Paradeisi, and two breakfast sandwiches—one with fennel sausage, spinach, and egg, and one with squash and sprouts! Delicious!
Our next stop was the iconic Pike Place Market. Seattle is very walkable, so we took a stroll down to the Market, located right on the Elliott Bay. Pike Place was established in 1907 to allow farmers to sell directly to consumers and prevent price-gouging by wholesalers. The commitment to providing the community with local produce, fish and meats, and goods remains today. Eventually stores, arcades, and restaurants were added—including the very first Starbucks. There’s more to Pike Place than the famous Pike Place Fish Market—fruit and vegetable vendors, cheeses, chocolate and other desserts, pasta, and many artisans! Private Events Coordinator Ashley Coggins walked us through the Market and gave us a taste of the tour, and then we spent some time exploring on our own—we had to stop each other from buying perishable items, since we had to fly home, but we definitely picked up some non-perishables in a few of the stores!
After Pike Place, we continued our walk through the city—stopping briefly to admire these vintage sewing machines used as a window display! Our next stop was at the Seattle Architectural Foundation, where we met with Grace Travaglini to discuss the Art Deco tour of the city. We’re so excited about this tour, which will give you a chance to see many of the buildings with Art Deco influences, while getting a taste of the city on foot!
Once we finished at the Foundation, it was time to head over to Seattle Center, home to some of the city’s best museums! We stopped for lunch at the Seattle Center Armory, where those who are attending the Global Perspectives on Wellness excursion will eat. The Armory contains many local eateries—and attendees with have the chance to select their favorite! We had delicious and healthy salads at Plum Pantry, a vegan restaurant where you can also get fresh juices; smoothies; “protein rich bowls” with grains, legumes, veggies and more; pasta; soup; and sandwiches. Of course, we had to take a moment to get a quick shot with the Space Needle!
After lunch we headed over to the Nordic Heritage Museum, which showcases Seattle’s vibrant history of Nordic immigrants. Adult Education Coordinator Jeremy Ehrlich showed us around the museum, both in the public galleries and a few “backstage” peeks! We were very excited to see their textiles collection, and excursion attendees will enjoy a lesson on historic Nordic clothing along with one on preservation of textiles.
Once we finished our visit to the museum, we headed right back to the Seattle Center to visit one of my favorite museums of all time, Chihuly Garden & Glass. We were lucky enough to enjoy a full tour of the museum with Tourism Development Sales Manager Lisa Schmidt, who gave us lots of info about glass artist Dale Chihuly—but also allowed us to quietly experience the majesty of his work! We were able to explore both inside and outside, where the glass pieces integrate seamlessly with the vegetation.
After a stop in the gift shop (of course!), Lisa sent us on our way over to the Space Needle. The Space Needle will be an “add-on” option to the tour of Garden & Glass on Saturday—you’ll tour the museum with everyone else, but stay longer to head up 520 feet to the Observation Deck, where you’ll enjoy 360 degree views of the city. I’m a wee bit afraid of heights—but the deck is so safe that it didn’t bother me at all!
By this time, the sun had set—both literally and metaphorically on our visit! The Space Needle was our last stop on the trip. The Gates Foundation, located a short walk from the Seattle Center, will also be part of the Global Perspectives on Wellness excursion—but we were not able to fit a visit into our packed schedule!
Finally, it was time for dinner! We headed over to my favorite Mexican restaurant, Agua Verde. If you’re taking the time to explore Seattle, I highly recommend it—particularly the Bacalao tacos, but also the mango quesadilla—if you’re eating on your own, make sure you get a half portion, as the quesadillas are huge!
After dinner, we headed back to the hotel, packed up our souvenirs, and headed straight to bed, as we had to leave the hotel at 5am—as you can tell from this blurry photo! We were sorry to say goodbye to Bellevue, but so excited to get into planning this year’s conference! We are SO looking forward to the 107th Annual Conference—and we hope you are too! As well, this year we have a comprehensive rundown on our website of many of the things to do in Bellevue and Seattle—along with a few fantastic deals to help you extend your trip!
Registration for the conference is now open—and the early-bird pricing is good through April 15th. Please visit our conference site to learn more, and we hope to see you in Bellevue!
By Sara Tantillo, AAFCS Professional Development Manager
In early November 2015, Director of Professional Development and Market Research Daila Boufford and I traveled to Bellevue, Washington, to check out the AAFCS 107th Annual Conference hotel–the Hyatt Regency Bellevue on Seattle’s Eastside, learn more about the city and its surroundings, and visit the sites of our educational excursions. We had a wonderful time, and we’re so excited to share what we’ve learned with you!
This year we once again were able to spend two days in the city, which allowed us to spend more time at the excursion sites and go into more detail with our hotel contacts! Daila flew into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Sunday night, which is just about a half hour from the hotel depending on traffic. We rented a car as we had so many places to visit, but you’ll be able to save money using our deal with Shuttle Express! If you’re planning on spending some time exploring the area on your own—and we recommend that you take a few extra days to do so—we also have a great deal with Hertz Rent-a-Car. As I have friends who live in the area, I came in early for a visit, and explored Tacoma–only an hour away–and its nearby park, Point Defiance! Well worth the trip, if you have time. Of course, taxis are also readily available at the airport. Sunday night, we both arrived at the hotel and headed right to bed, since we knew the next few days would be long!
We got up Monday morning bright and early—ready to meet with our hotel and AV representatives. We ate at one of the hotel’s restaurants, Eques—it just serves breakfast and brunch, but boy does it do that well! It opens early—6:30am on weekdays—so you’ll have time to start the day with a great breakfast before your conference day begins! Daila and I sampled their signature Eggs Benedict. There are multiple versions to choose from and they were all fantastic! We recommend that you make a reservation—the restaurant gets pretty busy when there’s a conference happening! After breakfast, we headed out to explore the space—and we’re so excited with what we saw! It’s a gorgeous hotel that highlights the natural beauty of the Seattle area.
One of our favorite spaces was the Foyer of the Grand Ballroom, where we’ll be holding “Elevate Your Health,” our welcome reception on Wednesday afternoon (4-6pm). The spacious foyer offers scenic views of downtown Bellevue.
After touring the meeting space with our Hyatt rep, we headed over to Uwajimaya, our first excursion location visit, to eat lunch! Uwajimaya is an Asian grocery that has its roots in Seattle. Its first location opened in 1928. The Bellevue location is a bit newer—only 30 years old—but has deep roots in the community and we’re excited to be holding an excursion there! The café options at Uwajimaya are extensive! There is quite a bit of sushi and sashimi available, but you can also try some great hot entrees. Once we ate, we sat down with Store Manager Hiroshi Hibi and discussed the store’s origins, how they work with their community, and how he and his department managers will be sharing information about culture, business, nutrition, food waste, and more during the excursion tour. If you enjoy Asian cuisine or if you are curious to know more about the culture and sustainable practices in many Asian countries, this tour is for you!
After we finished up with Hiroshi, we did a bit of shopping—I came home with a gyoza press and tea infuser for myself, and some great Christmas gifts! We then headed over to the Bellevue Botanical Garden. Two of the volunteer docents gave us a lovely tour, where we learned about how the Garden was founded and how the unique climate in the Seattle area supports a vast array of vegetation. While it’s hard to see the full beauty of a botanical garden in the winter, the alpine garden was flourishing, and may of the fuchsia plants were still in bloom. We were especially lucky—not only did we see a few beautiful hummingbirds, which we don’t see out on the East Coast, we caught a glimpse of a bald eagle up above the trees! It was breathtaking.
After a quick gift shop stop—museums and botanical gardens have the cutest gifts!—we headed back to the hotel to drop our things and explore the area before meeting with the Annual Conference Local Advisory Committee for dinner.
The hotel is connected by several skybridges to different shopping and eating locations. We headed out to the Bellevue Collection to check out some local shops and see what the city has to offer! The Bellevue Collection is made up of three different spaces—Bellevue Place, the location of our hotel and several different fantastic restaurants; Lincoln Square; and Bellevue Square, our final destination! The first bridge from the hotel takes you to Lincoln Square, where you can find several different restaurants, along with a bowling alley, billiards lounge, and movie theater. We came back there for dinner—but more about that later. After a quick stop in Lucky Strike Lane to see whether it might be a good location for a group night out, we headed over the next bridge to Bellevue Square, the mall—of course, stopping on the way to admire a gorgeous chandelier fixture by glass artist Dale Chihuly!
Bellevue Square holds many “normal” mall stores—there’s a Macy’s and Crate and Barrel attached to the main mall space, there are plenty of clothing stores like American Eagle, Chico’s, Talbots, and Ann Taylor, there is the ubiquitous Apple Store, and of course a Williams-Sonoma—but this mall also holds a Tesla store! There are also a few PNW-specific stores, like the Seattle Team Shop. We were pretty excited to head into jcoco, a pop-up chocolate shop by the Seattle Chocolate Company! They sell unique, all-natural chocolate bars with chocolate sourced from all over the world—inspired by fashion, in many cases! Not only is jcoco a unique chocolate company—they are also very much about giving back to the community. With each chocolate bar purchased, they donate a healthy meal to someone who would otherwise go hungry, through food banks all over the US where their products are sold. The pop-up may not be there any longer by the time you visit—but jcoco products are available at Sea-Tac airport and the Made in Washington store in Bellevue, along with other locations all over Washington—and possibly in your state as well! I came home with a chocolate sampler—if you get the chance, I HIGHLY recommend the peanut strawberry baobab bar, as well as the agave quinoa sesame seed bar.
Once we finished exploring, we headed back to the hotel to meet a group of our local members for dinner. This year’s committee has been working tirelessly to bring you a fantastic experience—you may remember all the samples and info they had to offer at their booth last year in Jacksonville! Hopefully you’ve seen many of the tidbits about the state in the newsletters—and stay tuned for many more! We’ll also have quite a bit of information on the website regarding things to do in the area before and after your visit.
We met up with Co-Chairs LynDee Lombardo and Vivian Baglien, along with Karen Bergh, WAFCS president; Donna Graham, WAFCS affiliate officer and leader of the Community of Business & Entrepreneurship; and one of Vivien’s students, Kathryn Stephenson. We walked right across the street to Maggiano’s Little Italy, where we had an absolutely delicious dinner—learning more about each of our members and quite a bit about Washington state. Maggiano’s was one of many easily walkable restaurants—several of which are located within the hotel itself!
After dinner, we headed back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep as we knew we’d be heading out bright and early!
Stay tuned for part two of our blog, which will talk about our second day in Washington, when we headed into Seattle—just a 20-minute drive—to visit the rest of our excursion locations!