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Level 6 Maestro
16,770 karma

Tom Laramee

Fremont • Seattle, WA
Great Expectations in the neighborhood of Fremont.
Joined over 2 years ago

Tom Recommends


Fjallraven High Coast 26L Trail Pack
There's a lot to like about this backpack. It's easily the most comfortable pack I've ever owned. It's big enough to a Pacific NW day hike (meaning, you know you should pack some rain gear, gloves, and a hat on nearly every hike) and has plenty of room for a couple of quarts of water, some snacks, and the rest of the essentials (bug repellent, knife, camera, etc). They make some smaller versions that are great starters for introducing your kids to hiking.
Flagging Tape
Flagging Tape
This may not seem like a particularly compelling product, but I carry a small roll of it when there's any possibility of getting lost at all. This happens most often in the winter months, when snow has covered the trail, but I've also wandered off trail in some places where there's little to no underbrush (so all paths look essentially the same)
Garmin Fenix 5
Smart Watch
I'm definitely not a "wearables" person, but I love the Garmin and now use it for running, biking, trail running, and hiking. It has a nice app that allows you to see, in effect, how well you did during your exercise. That might mean seeing heart rate zones, or elevation gain, or miles run... it depends on what you consider to be success. When I'm hiking, I use the compass to help identify landmarks for photos, and the elevation gain is always helpful (so you know how far long you are). When I'm done, I use the app, in conjunction with photos I took, to help publish the story of that day's adventure.
Janji Rainrunner Rain Jacket
Men's Coats & Jackets
Easily the lightest rain jacket I've ever worn/held. I used it all summer when running on trails that go through a lot of encroaching brush (to help with tick avoidance). It breathes, which helps a lot, and packs down into an absolutely tiny size. I've also used it in the winter while running in heavy rain and it's very waterproof, unlike the water "resistant" jackets I've used previously that leave me soaked through.
Joby Gorilla 1k Tripod Kit
I've used many tripods and this is easily the best one. It's grip is tenacious, so it's strong enough to mount sideways, putting the camera in portrait mode. It's also well-built, so it's lasted a very long time without getting progressively looser over time.
Katadyn BeFree 0.6L Water Filter
Water Bottle
This water purifier is nearly magical. You pack it empty, and then when you find a water source on your hike, you fill it and cap it. The water is filtered as it exits the purifier. I've used it many times, including in lakes where there's visibly all kinds of little organic things growing in the water and the water tastes like it came out of my tap. As a bonus, the water can have a mineral taste, if it's been running over rocks on it's way to your source.
Nathan VaporKrar Running Belt
Running Gear
I like this belt because I can position the water on my side (by rotating the belt), so it's extremely comfortable, but it's also a really simple belt, and simple is good. The version of this that has a zipper is the superior choice, as the velcro version allows the water to slip out from time to time. It holds one quart in a soft flask, which isn't a whole lot for a long run on a hot day, but I've used it many times and it's been great.
RescueMe PLB1 Personal Locator Beacon
Personal Location Beacon
I purchased this device as a sort of insurance policy for the possibility of getting injured on a run or hike and being far away from a vehicle (and likely far away from other people). It communicates with a search and rescue satellite network and when activated can transmit your current location (using GPS), whereupon your local rescue services are notified. I hope I never have to use it, but I am happy that I have it. It's also occurred to me that I may end up using it to help someone else out, so that's another potentially beneficial reason to carry it.
SOG Flash II Knife
Pocket Knife
I like this knife because it's very light, and light is good. It clips onto a small belt I wear tht holds my car key when I'm running. You can easily find knives that are less expensive, but they're really heavy (and in my limited experience the steel they use for the blade is no better)
TOPO Athletic MTN-Racer Trail Running Shoes
Running Shoes
What most caught my attention for these was the outer part of the sole, which is fairly beefy, and sort of tilts my feet at a slight downward angle from outside to insole. They're also great for running through water (you don't want waterproof trail running shoes, as once they fill with water, they retain said water in little pool inside your shoes). They also have a great grip, which is helpful for running on rocks.


Advanced Foundation Supports LLC
I recently had a site visit from Micah. We did a walkthrough of my house (both inside and outside) and I really appreciated his careful analysis, possible repairs, and referrals to structural engineers and other related contractors. AFS specializes in pin piles, retaining walls, foundation repair, underpinning, and helical piers.
Align Builders
General Contractor
I hired Michael for a massive remodeling project that took approx. one year. He did a great job, hiring out very skills sub-contractors where needed, and was entirely reasonable/civilized when the unexpected invariably arose during our project.
Aqua Quip
Pool and Hot Tub
The staff at Aqua Quip is incredibly helpful. They'll run a free water test for your pool or spa and then give you a printout with recommendations on how to dial the chemicals in, and they carry a great set of products: filters, vacuums, sanitizers, etc. They really helped me become educated about pool maintenance.
Beauty and the Bamboo
I've now done two bamboo installations and Stan helped me hook up some really beautiful bamboo, along with the requisite root barriers. (The nursery is also a great place to play hide and seek if you have young children).
Better Meat Inc.
This small butcher in a very nondescript building has a broad offering of fresh meat and the staff is really helpful. You can call your order in beforehand for quicker service.
BP Hardwood Floors
I hired Pavel and crew and they were incredibly quick and efficient and the floors came out beautiful.
Builders' Hardware & Supply Company
I've spent quite a lot of time over at Builder's Hardware. They were very helpful in tracking down some obscure hardware (old cabinet hinges), as well as some door hardware replacement parts. It can be an overwhelming place to browse, so it's best to know [sort of] what you're looking for prior to going in.
Bulldog Demolition & General Contracting
General Contractor
I really like Bulldog. These guys came to my house and did a ton of work in a short amount of time, and they were really respectful in terms of not damaging the areas they weren't demo'ing (like concrete walkways, garden beds, etc). They even hosed down dust in the demo area at the end of the day.
Cascade Integration
These guys are great. They installed a surge protector next to my electrical panel and were quick and courteous (and the residential version of the protector has a lifetime warranty).
CG Engineering
I've been working with Dennis (et al) over at CG for the better part of a year on some structural analysis and permitting and they're great. They did an onsite inspection, took a ton of measurements, and drafted a proposal, which is currently in review by the city.
Cressy Door and Fireplace
I hired Cressy to design/install a new brushed aluminum garage door and it's absolutely lovely and fits seamlessly with the overall design motif of the overall house.
Dusty Strings
Musical Instruments
Dusty Strings is an iconic acoustic instrument shop that also has a great instruction program. They sell a number of instruments and occasionally host a traveling show for new Taylor Guitar offerings.
Energy Works
These guys are great. Everyone from their sales guy (Ken) to their electrician (Dylan) to their installation crew was super nice, quick, and professional. They installed a new thermostat line and a new furnace (a cool modulating furnace from Daikin with a UV air filter). Highly recommended.
Filco Environmental Tank Services
I had Filco come out and pull my oil tank as part of a larger remodeling project. They were clear about expectations/outcomes and did a really good job.
Frank Lumber the Door Store
I really like this store. The sales staff are friendly and knowledgeable, the selection is doors and hardware is impressive, and the turn-around for an in-situ door replacement is just a couple of days.
Fresh Fish Co
Seafood Market
I've been going here for years for fresh fish. They also have crab cakes (and crab legs), an assortment of vegetables, some meat/sausages, and wine. It's a great little shop.
Geotech Consultants NW
Marc came out to do a steep slope analysis for my house (which is also situated on an Environmentally Critical Area as defined by King County) and he clearly has expert-level knowledge in terms of analysis, structural engineering recommendations, permitting, and a wide network of contractors that he can call on to address problems.
Hawthorne Stereo
Home Automation
I'm a big fan of these guys. I was shopping for some speakers and an amp, and went to a couple of stores, and was mostly told "No, that's not what you want", and the presented with all of these wacky ideas (like ceiling-mounted speakers, or recessed wall speakers covered by a mesh cloth). I went to Hawthorne and they hooked up a system just like I wanted. They answered a ton of questions, helped recommend other vendors I needed, and the gear I ended up with sounds amazing. "A pretty nice place" indeed.
Ironman Ornamental
Travis built a custom iron fence on the north side of my house and he did a wonderful job (and on budget).
Lacewing Fine Gardening and Botanical Design
I hired Britt for a large, new project and she did a great job. I also got on a quarterly maintenance schedule, which removes any/all hassle.
I think of Lalo as "The Drywall Whisperer". He made multiple repairs of some drywall in my house during a remodel, including some textured/painted, and his level of skill is simply amazing. You can contact him via 206-578-8865.
Lanktree Land Surveying, inc.
Trevor is amazing. I hired him for a very difficult job that involved surveying most of the houses on my side of the block and then making small/subtle changes to the survey based on each homeowners preferences. He did this with incredible professionalism and patience.
MM Piling and Construction
Basri is a structural engineer and a pinpile contractor. His bid was lower than the others, and his team came out and installed more than 2 dozen pins in a single day. Very nice guy, easy to work with, got the job done quickly and efficiently.
Out on a Limb
Tree Service
I hired Out On a Limb to remove a tree that died during the long period of drought in 2018. Because it was located on an Environmentally Critical Area, there were all kinds of special permitting requirements, as well as very specific requirements from King County in removing the tree. Out On a Limb did a great job.
Pops Backflow Testing and Repair Service
I hired James to do an annual (required) inspection of my previous house. He did a great job and answered a ton of questions I had that were related to my overall water/boiler system.
Porcelanosa Seattle - Tiles, Kitchen and Bathroom
I worked with Valerie on a fairly large project for a poolroom and she was great. I ended up with a beautifully tiled room.
Queen Anne Painting
Alejandro is the horse whisperer of wall prep for painting. He's incredibly skilled and dedicated to his craft. If you have a gig that you really, really want done well, these guys can help.
SDA Flooring
I used SDA for a complicated tile installation project and they were extremely skilled and the room came out perfectly. The main guy (Andrew) was really patient in working out the details of everything before they began (and there were a lot of details to consider, as the project was fairly involved/complicated).
Seattle Tree Care (Treecycle)
Tree Service
I hired Kelsey and co. to come out and help with upkeep of three large trees on my property. They did a great job.
Shd Landscape Architecture
Landscape Architect
Scott is great. He created a landscaping design for me that's served as a kind of roadmap for not only what's possible, but also gets passed along to any contractors that work on my house. He was quick, professional, skilled, and his fee was incredibly reasonable.
SHKS Architects
I hired Kevin to help with a steep slope analysis prior to beginning a major remodel. He gave me a comprehensive overview of how King County classifies my property and handed a clear plan off to the design build team.
Sound Seismic
General Contractor
I had Sound Seismic retrofit two homes. The crew worked really hard, and quickly, and were really flexible about allowing me to move things around prior to them being walled in or otherwise obstructed via the retrofit.
Strictly Sewers Inc.
I hired Rich to line the interior part of my sewer line with fiberglass for the last 20 feet or so (where it attaches to the city main). It was a tricky job (and he admitted it might not work), but he pulled it off and the post-work scope video looks great.
Wu Construction
I hired Greg for two projects, both involved digging trenches and installed PVC drainage pipes to get water away from my house. His team is like a machine: they show up, work hard, and get it done.


Dr Edward G. Blahous
I recently had a visit with Dr. Blahous over at the UW Sports Medicine Clinic in Ballard and he was extremely competent, efficient, and quick in his analysis and most importantly, he was really easy to talk to. His speciality is foot and ankle treatment "for the active and athletic population" ... so if you want someone to talk about sports with during your x-rays, he's your guy.
Dr. Daniel DeLucchi
Dan has taken over for Dr Craig Tuttle following Tuttle's retirement. While there can never be a 100% replacement for Dr Tuttle, Dr. DeLucchi is great - he's easy to work with, is skilled at his adjustments, and recommends helpful stretches and exercises.
Dr. Jeffrey Marks (N W Pediatric Dentistry)
My kids really like Dr Marks and his staff. They always come out of their exam & cleaning with fairly positive editorial (which is a lot to ask for a trip to the dentist).
Dr. Matthew Epstein (Green Lake Oral and Facial Surgery)
Dr Epstein has helped out my daughter a couple of times now, and he's quick, efficient, skilled, and really good with responding to the needs of my daughter (during a time when she's particularly reticent/uncomfortable/anxious).
Dr. Sarah Archibald (Ballard Pediatric Clinic Inc)
While she was our pediatrician, Dr. Archibald was really great with the kids. She was easy to talk to, articulate, and had a wonderful bedside manner that helped put my kids at ease.
Dr. Tiffany Snyder (UW Medicine)
Dr. Snyder is wonderful with my two daughters. UW Medicine has a "cradle to grave" philosophy, which means you don't have to lose your children's doctor when they're no longer "pediatrics".
Eyes on Fremont
Eye Doctor
This shop has a large number of very rad frames and their staff is super friendly. They'll patiently work with, suggesting as many frames as it takes, until you find something that you love.
Green Lake Orthodontics
Dr Cassidy is great. We've been working with her on a plan that's in line with my parenting/healthcare philosophy (no surgery/highly invasive procedures unless absolutely necessary) and she's flexible, knowledgeable, and clearly looking out for the long-term health of my daughter.
Seattle Day Doula
I'm a huge fan of helping new families out upon the arrival of a newborn. This postpartumn outreach doula service makes a wonderful gift for new mothers. Whether it's light housework, maternal services references, someone to watch your baby while you take a long nap, or just someone to talk to, Seattle Day Doula is a welcome addition to the maternal services community here in Seattle.
Via Radiology
These guys can run a CT Cardiac Calcium Scoring test and it's quick and inexpensive. Calcium Scoring is a scan used to assess coronary artery disease and is recommended if you have a history of vascular problems in your family.

Special Occasions

Essenza is one of Fremont's treasures. They have jewelry, soaps, perfumes, robes, baby clothes & stuffies, and more. It's the near-perfect pre-Valentine's Day stop for men, and Rachel/Wendy/etc will hook you up.
Men's Clothing
Scott has one of the best men's clothing stores in Seattle. They have a regular rotation of seasonal clothes plus tailoring & alterations. If you're not sure how to dress yourself, go see Scott and he'll hook you up.
One Shot Studio (Woodinville)
Recording Studio
Dylan is an incredibly talented producer and is really easy to work with (when he's not making fun of you for signing off key). His studio has absolutely top-notch recording gear.
Portage Bay Goods
This is one of Seattle's best card shops. I buy all of my cards, for all occasions, from this shop. They also have a wonderful assortment of small gifts, games, art, jewelry, notepads, and pseudorandom articles of clothing (socks, baby hats, scarves, etc).
Sea Wolf (Wallingford)
Everything has been better since Sea Wolf opened up a location on Stone Way. Their bread is wonderful, as are their croissants (and other baked treats).
Shop Task
Recreational Activities
Luckily enough for us, Seattle has one of ~4 Shop Task outlets in North America. These guys live and breathe roller blades. They have a wide selection, along with helmets and wrist guards (and they're great with making your blades as comfortable as possible with wheel adjustments and ankle boots).
Theo Chocolate
Located in Fremont center, Theo Chocolate has been producing an amazing array of chocolate-based treats for many years now (and you can sign up to tour their factory). They make a stunning/custom replica of both a Snickers Bar[TM] and a Butterfinger[TM].
Uneeda Burgers
I feel lucky to have these guys in my neighborhood. They serve a large variety of gourmet burgers made with grass-fed beef, alongside wine, beer & shakes.


Animal Encounters
We had Zoo For You come out for one my daughters birthday parties and it was such a wonderful experience for the kids who attended. The Animal Encounters staff did a great job with both setup and post-event clean up (which is key, if you think it through).
Blue Highway Games
Game Store
Whenever I need games or puzzles for my kids (say, at the start of a winter or spring break), I visit Blue Highway. They have a dizzying array of games for people of all ages. You'll likely find yourself spending a lot more time in there than you planned...
Clown Buggie
Kids Entertainment
We hired these guys for face painting, balloon art, and spin art and they were awesome. The face painting was as good as I've ever seen .. the kids had a great time.
Creative Music Adventures
Kids Music Lessons
I really like CMA. They offer instruction in about a dozen instruments and their teaching staff is really great with kids. They offer a free trial lesson and also have recently started a summer camp.
Dr. Liz Smith
Learning Evaluation
Dr Smith continues to set the standard for thoughtful, insightful and ultimately very helpful learning evaluations here in Seattle.
The Red Balloon Company
Kids Party Supplies
This is a great store. If you're planning a birthday party, or want some seasonal crafts, this is your place. They also have a fairly large selection of toys, games, stuffies, and gifts, and the quality of all of that stuff is really high; they clearly curate their merchandise very well.




Artist & Craftsman Supply
Art Supplies
This store is fairly well-hidden (therefore it's not particularly well-known), but once you find it you'll see a dizzying assortment of art supplies, ranging from "great stuff for my kids" to "professional artists".
Cafe Con Todo
Coffee Shop
My current favorite cafe in Fremont (please don't ever change). This sleepy little place is cafe by day, salsa studio by night and is quiet enough that you can talk, write, or work in a peaceful environment and drink great [Slate Coffee Roasters] coffee.
City Cellars
Speciality Food and Wine
This small shop in Wallingford center has one of the best selections of wine in the city. Michael has a wonderful nose for wine and offers up a wide variety of regions/varietals.
Crowd Cow
Speciality Food and Wine
I really love what CrowdCow is doing. They're providing beef from well-raised animals, healthier land, and successful farms (which are also sustainable). They have some great seasonal additions (like turkey around Thanksgiving), as well as the occasional chicken and/or pork.
Dave Page
Dave Page is an old-skool cobbler in Fremont center. They were kind enough to fix the straps on my heavy bag after they wore away enough to tear in half.
DeLaurenti (Pike Place Market)
Speciality Food and Wine
DeLaurenti's is easily my favorite food store in Seattle. They have a huge selection of olive oil, sauces, imported pastas, and also a huge cheese & speciality meat selection.
Irwin's Cafe
Coffee Shop
I've been going to Irwin's for many, many years, originally drawn in by their pumpkin & blueberry muffins. Linda & Rachel are still going strong (their Blue Star drip coffee is worth the trip alone).
Lighthouse Coffee
Coffee Shop
Lighthouse is where I buy all of my home-brewed coffee. Their "Lighthouse Blend" is great in a french press.
Milstead & Co.
Coffee Shop
Andrew & Co have been serving up some of the best coffee in Seattle for several years now. It's my favorite local coffee shop (which is saying a lot given how much competition there is). I love going in and choosing one of their three daily offerings - I'm never disappointed.
Speciality Food and Wine
Check out Steepologie in Fremont Center. They have 250+ teas and mix their own stuff. It's a wonderful store for people who love tea.
Super Jock 'N Jill
Shoe Store
This is a great store in which to purchase running shoes. The helpful folks inside inspect your stride and offer up a handful of different styles to provide the best fit for your running style.
SwimGuru, Inc.
Swimming Lessons
I'm a huge fan of Swim Guru. They have an incredibly effective program that will really help parents feel good about their kids being around water. The initial set of lessons culminates with your kid jumping into the pool fully clothed (big jacket, shirt, pants, socks, and shoes) and navigating their way to safety .. they're definitely not kidding when they say your kid will know how to swim.

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