Shades of Lavender

Over the weekend I visited a lavender farm near Lacey, Washington. I’m a huge lavender fan, but oddly enough I’d never visited a lavender farm before, although I’d wanted to for quite some time.


I hope you enjoy the photos I took while Evergreen Valley Lavender Farm   this weekend, and if you’re in the Lacey area, stop by the farm and visit for yourself.


Freelance Article for Boating Times Pacific Northwest The Fish Peddler Restaurant Review

The Fish Peddler

November 24, 2015 by · Leave a Comment

BRETZ NW StewSituated on Tacoma’s Thea Foss waterway, The Fish Peddler serves seafood fare with a Northwest twist. The establishment has an outdoor patio while the indoors is decorated with a cozy nautical theme. The dining area’s wood plank walls and porthole windows add to the maritime effect. In addition to being a restaurant, there’s also a retail fresh fish and seafood market.

I dined on their seafood pasta.  It is packed with salmon, scallops, and prawns, tossed in a delectable white sauce and served over fettuccine. The pasta is a generous portion and is served with grilled garlic bread.

We also ordered the Northwest seafood stew. It comes loaded with Dungeness crab, red crab, salmon, mussels, clams, calamari, and bay shrimp in a flavorful tomato broth. It is served in a huge bowl, with grilled garlic bread too — perfect for sopping up the remaining broth.

Other items on the menu include a choice of grilled salmon, steelhead or walleye, served with seasonal vegetables and mashed potatoes and fish and chips. There’s also bacon-wrapped meatloaf, flat iron steak, and chicken to choose from.

For those with dietary restrictions, the eatery can make accommodations for vegans, vegetarians and gluten-free diners upon request. The peddler salad and the tempura fried green beans are great choices. BRETZ Seafood Pasta

The bar menu is unique and perfect no matter the season. In the winter try the warm cocktails such as the hot buttered rum or the Irish coffee.  You can also try the apple pie cocktail.

Be sure to save some room because the sweet treats at The Fish Peddler include decadent chocolate lava cake, bread pudding or a root beer float, all of which are amazing.

The eatery is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. There is a dock on the waterway, on the back side of the eatery, with two spaces available on a first come, first served basis. Docking is free for restaurant patrons.

The Fish Peddler
1199 Dock Street
Tacoma, Washington

Review and photos by Amanda Bretz

New Freelance Article Johnny’s Dock Restaurant Review

I have another freelance article out for Boating Times Pacific Northwest edition, this time I wrote about a delicious seafood eatery on the Tacoma Waterfront. Read below to learn more about Johnny’s Dock.

Johnny’s Dock Restaurant

October 29, 2015 by · Leave a Comment

BRETZ  Fish and ChipsJohnny’s Dock is located on the Thea Foss Waterway in Tacoma and offers splendid views of the downtown waterfront. As the name suggests, the eatery has its own dock that allows moorage for boats 20 to 55 feet in length.

On sunny and warm days, the outdoor seating choice is a must, as the patio allows for optimal waterfront views while dining. During cooler weather the view from inside is still great, thanks to the wall of windows surrounding the lounge and dining areas.

While the views contribute to the spectacular atmosphere, the menu at Johnny’s Dock is just as exciting. Appetizers range from calamari served with garlic aioli, Cantonese egg rolls, and a shrimp, crab, and artichoke dip. On chilly days, the New England-style clam chowder hits the spot. The hearty soup can be ordered in a cup, bowl or bottomless version which comes with salad and garlic bread.

I opted for the bottomless version, although the serving was too filling to order seconds. The salad was a mix of greens, the creamy chowder was full of clams and the toasted bread was garlicky, buttery perfection.

The menu also boasts classic seafood entrées such as fish and chips, prepared here with Alaskan cod dredged in house-made beer batter and served with tasty fries and coleslaw. Another delectable choice is the seafood fettuccini; the pasta is loaded with scallops, clams, bleu mussels, prawns, and shrimp, tossed in a cream sauce.

For a change from seafood, the lunch menu has offerings such as the BLT with avocado, burgers and wraps, while the dinner menu features charbroiled steak or chicken breast.

BRETZ  Clam ChowderFor vegetarians, the fettuccini dish can be served without seafood. Also, the pasta primavera is available upon request. Likewise, gluten-free accommodations can be made, when asked.

With items like a hot fudge sundae or bread pudding, diners will want to save room for sweets.

Johnny’s Dock is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. On weekend mornings beginning at 9:30 am, breakfast is served. Offerings include smoked Northwest salmon Benedict, blueberry French toast, and omelets. There are also daily and seasonal menu specials, and a happy hour menu is offered daily from 4:00 to 6 pm with reduced prices on select appetizers and drinks.

The dock has two spaces for those dining at the restaurant, on a first-come first-served basis.

1900 East D Street, Tacoma, WA 98421

Flexing a Little Journalistic Muscle

If you’ve followed my blog, you know that I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest for just over a year. Since I moved to Tacoma in the fall of 2014, I’ve kept my eye out for a job at a newspaper and have applied to several weekly and daily newspapers. While I have landed a few freelance jobs, I haven’t been able to get the kind of work I want, which is a staff reporter.

I’m nothing if not flexible, so the jobs I’ve applied for have ranged from full-time, part-time and even freelance positions. I know that we all have to start somewhere and that jobs, particularly in journalism, often have a snowball effect where one article, one contact, leads to another to another to another.

So, I’ve scanned the job boards, newspaper websites and actual newspapers for possible positions. I’ve found that unlike in Missouri, Washington has a lot of open jobs in the journalism industry.

I’ve applied to numerous positions and have gained interviews for almost every job I’ve applied for, which is definitely a different experience than what I had in Missouri, where employers consistently passed over me–a Communications grad from a small Liberal Arts college in Florida–to interview local, Columbia J-School grads.

After about twelve months of applying over and over again and getting the same response from editors at the various newspapers in the Puget Sound area (they believe I’m a good reporter, but they’re leery of hiring me because I don’t have any experience covering city government) I decided to take the bull by the horns.

There’s only one way to gain experience and that is by doing.

Earlier today I went to the City of Tacoma’s website and decided to watch the Tacoma City Council Meeting online and create my own mock article to show prospective employers that I can take initiative and write whatever types of articles I need to in order to be a successful journalist. The idea behind doing this experiment is to show that I can be an asset to a news organization, I’m a good writer and I have no problem taking initiative.

In college, my professors taught me those last two items were characteristics of a great journalist and I’m hopeful those rules apply in the real world.

Read on for my example of a City Council Meeting article.

Art AIDS America exhibit honored, Mead-Keyser House a Historic Landmark and Point Defiance Master Plan Presented at City Council Meeting

From the City Council Meeting on Oct. 13, 2015


  • At a recent Tacoma City Council Meeting Mayor Strickland proclaimed October 13, 2015 as Art AIDS America day in Tacoma. Tobin Eckholt, Interim Director of Development for the Tacoma Art Museum thanked the city and mayor for recognizing the importance of the exhibit.  Mayor Strickland encouraged residents to visit the exhibit as well as the AIDS Memorial QUilt on display at the Tacoma Convention Center. “Our hope is all Tacomans come away with an understanding of how AIDS has changed the landscape of American art and contemporary American culture,” said Mayor Strickland of the exhibit.
  • The mayor also proclaimed October 15, 2015 as White Cane Safety Day in the City of Tacoma. She urged drivers to use caution when they see someone with a white cane, and employers to recognize the skills and abilities of blind persons.
  • The council recognized the third quarter Human Rights Champion Award recipient. The award recognizes the work of citizens to advance and protect human rights. John Purbaugh was recognized for his work advocating for and providing legal representation to marginalized community members, through the Puget Sound Legal Assistance Foundation and the Northwest Justice Project.


  • Resolution No. 39284 A resolution was passed designating the Mead-Keyser Residence, located at 2702 North Puget Sound Avenue, as a historic landmark, placing the property on the Tacoma Register of Historic Places.
  • Resolution No. 39286 A resolution was passed awarding a contract to Frontier Communications, in the amount of $408,355.89, plus a contingency of $60,714.00, for a cumulative total of $469,069.89, plus sales tax, budgeted from the Information System Fund, for hardware equipment to complete a one year data network infrastructure update.

Public Hearing

Debbie Twillgow, Planning and Development Director of Metro Parks Tacoma presented a public hearing regarding the 20-year master plan for Point Defiance. Proposed improvements include allowing two-way traffic in certain areas of the park in order to ease traffic and provide safe pedestrian access to the waterfront and throughout the park. Another proposed improvement is creating year-round activities in the park to encourage use of the park throughout all four seasons.

The next City Council Meeting is on October 20 at 5 p.m. and can be viewed online at the City of Tacoma’s website.

Chapter Two of A River Between Them Live on Wattpad

Last week, I shared the news that I’m now on Wattpad and am posting the first four chapters from my historical romance novel A River Between Them weekly on my Wattpad profile.

I’ve just uploaded chapter two, which can be read here. To start at the beginning, read chapter one here.

Also, I hope you’ll follow me on Wattpad!

Falling into Creativity

I’ve been so quiet in this space and just about everywhere else. I’ve had what I call a summer of dormancy.

An extra warm summer here in the Northwest made me yearn for the outdoors; we had friends and family visit us; we made a trip back to the Midwest and I’ve had an uptick in both day job and freelance work. All of these are pretty good things, but those factors combined with a feeling of “burnout” made being on the computer the last thing I wanted to do.

Most of my social media profiles and this blog haven’t been updated in at least two months, but that mainly stems from the feeling of burnout I had. The internet can be so busy and overwhelming to me sometimes, and I think when my own life is extra busy my online life goes by the wayside.

I also think over the past several months I needed time to regroup and just lay fallow. Since the beginning of 2014 I’ve written more words, and written more consistently, than ever before. As spring of 2015 approached I noticed a slowing down of my creative process, but I kept trying to force it and push through because I was in the middle of what could literally be the biggest break of my career (more on that in a minute).

After pushing through and putting down over 30k words in a few weeks I just lost my ability to be productive. I worried about it, which made it harder to write, which turned into a vicious cycle.

Fall Leaves

Then one day I was staring out my window, trying to get the impetus to finish the damned story already, and it dawned on me, there’s a season for creativity. Just as a tree doesn’t bear fruit 365 days a year, artists don’t create 24/7, 365.

There’s an advance and retreat to creativity that has to be respected. I didn’t want to admit that to myself, I guess, and I was berating myself for not finishing my manuscript fast enough. For possibly blowing what could be an amazing opportunity, for screwing up my career before it even had a chance to take off.

I blamed my day job, thinking that my place of work was just a “creativity killer”, blamed myself, wondering if I had a self-defeating streak a mile long or if I was one of those people who deep down just feared success.

But no. It’s none of those things. The truth, as it often is, was much simpler. I was just smack-dab in a dormant period of my creative cycle. I’m happy that my ideas–and words–are flowing again and that my characters are talking to me once again.

I have about 12k words to go to finish the manuscript that could change my career–and my whole life. In March I entered a contest held by Harlequin for new authors for their Blaze line. I did not expect to be selected to move on to the second round. The editors saw something in my writing and in my story, and have asked to see the entire manuscript to consider it for a publishing contract!

So, to be in the middle of writing this manuscript and just feel like every ounce of my creativity was zapped was beyond frustrating. It made me crazy! But, the more I tried to force myself to write, the worse I felt.

I’m back working on the story again and am going to give it all I have before submitting to the Blaze editors. I’ll of course keep all my blog readers updated on my progress with Harlequin–and with my writing in general.


El Pueblito Restaurant Review for Boating Times

I have a new freelancing gig, writing restaurant reviews for the Pacific Northwest edition of Boating Times. As a reviewer, I get to scope out delicious dining options for boaters in the Puget Sound area. My first article was recently published and I wrote about El Pueblito, one of my favorite Mexican eateries in Gig Harbor.

El Pueblito Mexican Restaurant

August 28, 2015 by · Leave a Comment

Mail AttachmentNestled in the heart of Gig Harbor’s quaint downtown area, El Pueblito Mexican Restaurant serves up delectable Mexican fare. While it is not located on the water, docking is available at Jerisich Dock, a public dock located just 190 feet away from the eatery.

The restaurant has large windows and plenty of tables along them, allowing for harbor views and people-watching. The interior’s colorful atmosphere and large booths offer patrons an inviting and festive experience.

Complimentary chips and salsa are delivered to each table within minutes of being seated. The house-made salsa is delicious with just the right amount of smokiness; it pairs perfectly with the warm, crispy tortilla chips.

The restaurant offers a variety of appetizers. One of the best is the nachos El Pueblito, a mound of chips, melted cheese, beans, and salsa.  It is big enough to share with the whole table. Other options include a Mexican pizza and quesadillas.

Seafood lovers should try camarones apretalados, a dish of bacon-wrapped prawns topped with Monterrey Jack cheese, served with rice, beans, coleslaw salad, and warm tortillas. Of course you can also order Mexican favorites like enchiladas and chimichangas — both are smothered in gooey cheese and provide those classic Mexican flavors and are filled with the patron’s choice of ground or shredded beef, chicken, pork or cheese.Mail Attachment 2

Most main course portions are not small. A bowl of tortilla soup or albandigas, a flavorful Mexican meatball soup, are tasty smaller-sized options.

The eatery offers vegan and vegetarian options such as the seasoned grilled vegetables served with a side of steamed rice and spinach enchiladas topped with cheese and accompanied with rice and beans.

There is a bar helping to quench the thirst you’ll acquire from those spicy dishes. Enjoy a traditional margarita, mojito, or a cold cerveza (beer).

Even though most of the portions are large, save room for dessert. There is a selection of Mexican staples like fried ice cream and flan sure to satisfy your sweet tooth’s cravings.

El Pueblito is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. Jerisich Dock has transient slips at no cost and reservations aren’t required.

Review by: Amanda Bretz

El Pueblito Mexican Restaurant

3226 Harborview Drive

Gig Harbor, Washington