Vacation Shopping Report

Posted by Brette in Collecting | Travel | Travel Shopping

This is part three of my three part series about our trip to Seattle, Alaska, and Vancouver.  As you all know, shopping is a key component of travel for me. I’m not interested in outlet malls, Caribbean jewelry prices (there were tons of these shops in Alaska), tacky souvenirs (except a select few!), or clothes. Nope. I’m looking for “authentic” types of items that I can bring home, which will keep the trip alive for me, and I think Martha does this also. I also have several collections that I try to add to on each trip – bookmarks, sheep, teacups, baskets, and cheap little magnets.

The shopping on this trip was not fantastic, but it wasn’t horrible. Sitka was a good town for shopping. Seattle wasn’t great. Vancouver was good to me – the Granville Market and Gastown were good spots.


I did well on the basket front. The one on the left is from Alaska and is made of smoked grass (and it smells smoky too). The white thing in the middle is carved bone with glass. It has glass beads on the sides. The one on the right is from Vancouver and is made of kelp. It has a barnacle attached to it.  I’m wild about both of these finds! These are exactly the kind of things I hope to find on our trips.


I did not expect to find a sheep on this trip – they aren’t exactly your typical Pacific NW or Alaskan animal! This sheepie is from Vancouver and what makes it incredibly special is that its face is made from a crossword puzzle (and I love doing crosswords), so it combines two things I love. It’s totally unique and fits well into my “flock.”


Another thing I love to bring home from trips is food that I can experiment with at a later date, which will remind me of the trip. On the right is a barley bannock mix, something settlers used to make in British Columbia. On the right is birch syrup, which is supposed to be similar to maple, but is more savory. It came with a few recipes, so I’ll be trying that out.  I’ll also have a freezer full of salmon, from Mr. MarthaAndMe’s and Dude Martha’s fishing trip.

the vase

I have too many vases, but that doesn’t stop me from hauling more home. I found this one in the museum store for the Museum of Northwest Art in La Conner Washington. There are little gold dots on it which you can’t see very well here.  I love the design on this and it’s very different from other glass pieces I own, so it will be an interesting addition to my collection. It’s also purple which is a departure for me, but a fun one, so I know I will enjoy owning this.


This item is from Made in Washington, the very first shop I went into on our trip, at Pike Place Market. This is made from local, reclaimed glass and shells discarded by the fishing industry. The glass also has some ash from Mt. St. Helens in it (which erupted when I was a kid). The inside of the globe contains sand and the aforementioned shells. I love, love, love this piece. And this proves one my cardinal rules of shopping – when you see something you like, buy it. Don’t dink around thinking you will see it elsewhere for less or something similar that is better. I never saw anything like this anywhere else. Teen Martha almost got burned by ignoring this rule – she did not buy a jade bracelet she saw in Alaska and then we hunted all over Vancouver looking for it – and finally found one!

Birch box

This birch box is from a Russian store in Sitka, Alaska, which used to be the Russian settlement capital. It’s made of Siberian birch. Not exactly Alaskan, but I liked it so I bought it.

The bear

Drumroll, please. This is my most expensive and most exciting purchase. Jade is the state gemstone of Alaska. On our ship, they had these jade bears and I loved them. But I didn’t buy them, thinking I would find something more authentic or cheaper on shore (this again proves my shopping rule mentioned above!). I looked everywhere and never saw one with the pink salmon in its mouth AND all the ones I saw on shore were twice as much. So I ended up buying this onboard the ship and it is a special memento of the trip for me.


Something else I’ve been buying on trips are watercolor prints of the area. The top one is from Seattle and has a cruise ship in it. The bottom one is from Sitka and shows a glacier in the distance. I have a stack of these now from different places and need to get serious about framing them and hanging them somewhere.

Leaves and Pen

Next up is a tacky penwith gold flakes in it I bought to remember our gold panning trip. The leaves are made from real leaves and will join the rest of my leaf collection on my fall tree that stands on my mantel.  They aren’t quite as bright as they appear in this photo!


Lately, I’ve been buying local soaps on our trips that have a scent that reminds me of the area. I like to use bars of soap in the shower and it’s like taking a little vacation when I use one reminiscent of a trip. The tube is devil’s claw lip balm which I haven’t tried yet.

In a Jam

I have a problem. Wherever we go, I end up hauling home jams and jellies. I can’t help myself. I bought these from two little Mennonite girls who were selling them on the sidewalk in Sitka. They had on their dresses, braids and bare feet and talked to me about picking the berries and helping make the jams. How could I not buy them? They have 10 children in their family. The flavors include fireweed and salmonberry, which I can’t wait to try.


I have a huge collection of bookmarks. They are an inexpensive and light weight item to bring home, so I tend to buy too many. The top one has a polar bear on it. The long one is leather and the bottom one is copper. I make groupings of my bookmarks and frame them and hang them on the walls of my office.  I’ll be combining these with the ones from last summer’s trip and hanging them soon hopefully.

This photo shows the Alaskan sourdough starter I bought, as well as my tacky magnets. I try to buy one in each city or region we visit and they go on the front of my file cabinet and make me happy when I see them. The ship ornament is our ship and is for Dude Martha’s vehicle Christmas ornament collection.

I also bought this cookbook, Fishes and Dishes, in Sitka and have not read it yet.

The final purchase has not arrived yet and it a metal sculpture that hangs on a wall and has pine trees, mountains and glaciers. It’s being shipped home and hasn’t arrived yet. I got that in La Conner Washington also.

The kids bought a few things. They each got sweatshirts. Dude Martha got a walrus tooth and a card with the different minerals from Alaska. He also bought an inukshuk and a wallet make from recycled tires.

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