Best Of The Road - Part Two

    I’m back to finish the other blog post that I started a few months ago.  When last I wrote about our summer vacation my family was deep in the landscape of the rural midwest.  We pick up the narrative as we meandered our way from Galena, IL to Mineral Point, WI.

    We arrived in Mineral Point and I thought, huh, this looks like it could be a cool town but it’s not exactly a thriving town.  Mineral Point is tiny.  We arrived mid-week to learn that most things in Mineral Point are only open on the weekends.  The place is strange.  They have many things that a town this size shouldn’t have i.e. a huge public swimming pool, an opera house, a train museum, a really old house museum, a school for arts and crafts, and a living history museum.

    We settled into our home for the next few days and decided it was a pretty good place to rest one’s head.  Maple Wood Lodge isn’t the fanciest of accommodations, but it was lovely in it’s own quiet way.  It’s set a few miles outside of town on a 20 acre parcel.  The yard is large and well-equipped for family fun with a fire pit, volley ball net, hammock and teether ball.  From the yard you can start out on a few different hikes that let you explore the property.  The hikes are short enough that even small kids can hike the distance, but long enough that you feel like you’re sort of on a hike.  I think we would claim Maple Wood Lodge as our favorite place that we stayed during the trip.

    The highlight of Mineral Point for Mazie was definitely Pendarvis, the living history museum. I’m not sure what happened, but something about Pendarvis clicked with her and she couldn’t stop talking about the place for the next few weeks.  Even today if you mention the name, she will start off anew on the wonders of Pendarvis.

    Pendarvis consists of several very old stone houses constructed in the early and mid 1800’s.  The historical society runs costumed, guided tours through the houses that tell about the various families that lived there and what life was like for them.  It’s worth a stop if you are in the area.

    We had a hard time finding much else to do in Mineral Point as most of the town is closed during the week.  I think Mineral Point is a cool, little spot, but if we ever returned, I would go on the weekend.

    After a few nights in Mineral Point we loaded up our awesome mini-van and hit the road for Cedarburg, WI.  Cedarburg is located just a bit outside of Milwaukee.  It feels old and preserved, but in a touristy way.  It’s similar to Stillwater, MN, but bigger.

    Our accommodations in Cedarburg were strange,  but interesting.  We stayed at a farmstead that used to be in the country, but is now smack dab in the middle of suburbia.  The farmstead consists of the owner’s house, the old barn which the owners use for antique storage and two small cottages that are rented to people like us.  The good news about the cottages is that they could be really, super cool and extraordinary.  The bad news about the cottages is that they aren’t; in fact they are a little creepy.  We wouldn’t ever stay there again, but it was certainly more interesting than hanging our hats at the local Days Inn.

    We had a nice time in Cedarburg.  We visited a covered bridge that seemed too simple to be entertaining, but ended up providing at least an hour of enjoyment.  We walked the Main Street and shopped the many stores.  We sat down at Tomaso’s, a weird pizza place with great pizza (sauce on top) and superb cheese bread.  We dined at a restaurant with mediocre food and a fabulous outdoor patio that took all disappointment out of the meal because of the view.  We watched a dumb movie in our creepy cottage.  Jamie and Mazie made art at a local studio while Tyler napped.  It was a simple and sweet way to end our road trip.  I would return to Cedarburg again, especially with older kids.  I think the area has plenty to offer a family for a long weekend.

    Next year there will be no road trip through the rural midwest.  I’ve promised Jamie and I’m going to keep my promise!

    She Went And Got A New Nose

    When we moved to our new house almost two years ago, I fell in love.  I’ve never been in love with a house before.  I moved around a lot as a kid and found all of our places of residence fine, but nothing extraordinary.  I bought a house in my late twenties and thought it was great, but I didn’t love it.  Same thing with house number two, great house but no love.

    When we bought this house, we weren’t really looking for a house.  That is to say Jamie wasn’t looking for a house and I was always looking for a house.  I used to spend countless hours online looking at houses each week.  I would drag Jamie to open houses and occasionally demand that our realtor friend take me to a house that I just had to see.  Jamie thought our old house was excellent and had very little interest in moving.  He was interested in not being dragged to open houses and the computer to look at this house or that house.  And he’s a nice man, so he wanted me to be happy.  That’s about as much as he wanted to move.

    On one open house Sunday we arrived at our current house, walked inside, and I instantly knew that this should be our house.   Jamie was on his cell phone most of the time we were here and it was only in a subsequent visit that he began to see the light.  A few short weeks later, we made an offer and a month after Tyler was born we moved in.

    Our old house was bigger, had an attached garage, and a large kitchen.  Our house now has a detached garage, small kitchen and less space.  Our old house had soaring ceilings and was awash in light.  Our house now has standard 8" ceilings and regular windows.  Our old house was great, but this house we love.  We got used to everything “less good” about our new house, but we had no place to hang our hat when we walked in the door.  Our back door had a 2’ x 2’ landing that served as our entrance to the house and our “mudroom”.  We didn’t realize how important a mudroom was to us until we didn’t have one anymore.

    We are people who dream big and it is with our dream of a place to hang your coat, set your groceries, and store your shoes that we enlisted the help of an awesome company (Quatersawn) to help transform our mudroom-less house into a house with a mudroom that would make any mother proud.

    We began this journey many months ago and now it is complete.  The process was long, loud, messy and pricey, but it was worth it.  It’s like our house that we were completely in love with (despite her nose) went and got a nose job…Now we are over the moon for her.

    Pictures of her new nose can be seen in the next blog post.  Stay tuned!



    Veg Party!

    Okay, not really, but today is day 19 of the 30 day vegan challenge and I’m proud to report that both Jamie and I are still going strong.  My stomach issues haven’t abated, which I find frustrating, and those cheesy, cheese thoughts are still creeping in, but I’m feeling good.  I’ve lost 6 pounds and still feel psychologically lighter than I did before.  I haven’t noticed any other physical changes beyond the weight loss and the constant hunger and bloated cycle I seem to spin through, but once again the challenge is still proving challenging and fun.

    The grocery store and I have become really good friends.  I seem to visit it three or four times a week, and even with that frequency I always feel like I’m missing something.  I think a big part of this is learning how much and what to buy when I’m at the store and the other part is it takes some time to stock up a vegan kitchen.

    When the month is over Jamie and I plan to do a comparison of what our family spends on average per week to eat vegan versus what we spend on our regular diet to feed ourselves.  I feel pretty certain that we are spending more now and I also feel that if we were on a tight budget, we could eat vegan for way less than we are spending now.  It will be curious to look at the numbers and see what they have to say.

    So far the best thing I’ve eaten this month wasn’t good for me, but it was good and that is Mama Peas Dough Balls.  They remind me a lot of the peanut butter cookies that have a Hersey’s Kiss in the middle.  I’ve tried a mushroom (I still don’t like them, but I’m going to try them at least 10 more times before I really make up my mind.  I’m growing.), eaten lots of brown rice, black beans, tomatoes, hummus, pita bread, granola bars, english muffins, Triscuits and fruit and veggie smoothies.  That list seems much better than my old list and the only similarity is the granola bars.  The worst thing I’ve eaten was the mushroom, but like I said I haven’t given up on them.

    If nothing else these last few weeks have gotten me out of my comfort zone and into trying different things than I would normally eat.  For someone like me who would be happy to eat the same thing each day for weeks on end this is a big step in the right direction.

    If you would like to check out my other vegan posts, follow the links below!

    I’m Going Vegan

    It’s All Vegan In Here

    Day 12 Of The Veg


    Best Of The Road - Part 1

    On our recent family vacation, we did the most American of things…We hit the road for a week-long road trip.  Because of my general fear of flying, this is something my family is very accustomed to doing.  For us, it’s not some novel concept of returning to the family vacations of my and Jamie’s youth, it’s just the way we roll (I think I just did a pun; how cool is that?  I don’t pun often).

    This year we took a slightly different take on the all-American road trip:  We traveled the road less taken.  I mean that quite literally as most of our route directed us onto small, never heard nor seen before roads.  Roads that make you wonder why they exist, as they don’t lead anywhere except to some other nowhere.

    It was not grand nor exceptional, but it was peaceful and refreshing.  We began our journey at The Natural Gait, just outside of nowhere, somewhere in the middle of Iowa.  I don’t remember the name of the town we weren’t in and it’s not really important.  No one should go to The Natural Gait, unless maybe they have horses and want to vacation with them.  And then, it’s just a maybe.  We hung out with some good friends from Iowa City and that made The Natural Gait a much better place to be.  Enough said.

    From there our mini-van took us to Dubuque, Iowa.  Dubuque is not a hot-bed of tourism and I don’t remember how I decided we just had to visit, but visit we did.  There are a few cool things in Dubuque, so if you ever find yourself there, hit these places up…

    The National Mississippi River Museum - It was a pleasant surprise.  The section on steamboats was the unexpected highlight of the visit.  We spend a couple of hours, but if we had been without children, we could have easily spent a couple more.

     Fenelon Place Elevator  (it’s a funicular) - This thing was a trip (Are you noticing this; another pun!).  A small, old, rickety car takes you straight up a very steep hill on a small, old, rickety track.  Jamie and I both felt elated to avoid death or serious injury while riding.  The kids thought it was a blast.  The history behind the Elevator was interesting to learn as well.

    The Hotel Julien - This is the type of hotel that I am always happy to find.  A lovingly restored downtown hotel with all the modern amenities including a pool, spa and lots of character from the past.  The rooms were clean, spacious and attractively decorated. We had breakfast at the restaurant two mornings and were impressed with our food.  The hotel also had a separate bar that was handsome in decor and hopping with people and good times, but we didn’t have a chance to check it out.

    L. May Eatery -  Our meal here was the best we had during the trip.  Outstanding food was in short supply during our trip, but this place was pretty darn good.  It’s a small, upscale restaurant with a charming atmosphere that focuses on the local, sustainable food movement, and both Jamie and I eat that kind of thing up (Is it another pun?  I’m flabbergasted.).  They didn’t have a kid’s menu, but they were accommodating and welcoming to our little crazies.  Jamie’s meal of lobster lasagna was particularly good and we all, kids included, had a charming time.

    From Dubuque we hit the road and drove a short distance (about 19 miles, hardly a drive to us city folk) to Galena, IL.  I’d never heard of the place until I was looking for accommodations in Dubuque, but it’s a touristy little spot.  The town has a quaint, expansive downtown that most women would love to spend a day or two perusing.  It screams, “Come, shop, dine!”  Turns out I am like most women in this regard and could see spending a weekend enjoying the historic blocks of downtown Galena.  The area also had things more manly to attend to, but in our short stay we did not participate in any such offerings.  We walked the downtown, had a sub par lunch, and jumped back into the mini-van to head to our next destination.

    This is turning into a much longer post than I’d intended.  Hopefully, I haven’t bored the ten of you to death.  I think I’ll break here and pick up with the rest of the trip in another post.  Till next time…

    Smaller Than A Grass-Fed Cow

    I’ve thought a lot about what I put in my mouth over the last 20 years, but all of that thinking hasn’t resulted in much change.  I’ve read a few books over the years that have altered certain aspects of my eating, but I still eat the same basic diet that I’ve been eating since I was a kid.

    I’m picky, don’t care much for fruit and veggies, and have a general love of dairy and white flour.  Add to that my near sugar addiction that started when I was pregnant with Mazie, and the result is an unhealthy diet.

    I’m also overweight.  Not scary, life threatening overweight, more the annoying 10-20 pounds overweight that is a constant monkey on my back.  Part of my I’m forty now and I’m ready to take charge of my life plan is to get a handle on what I put in my mouth both for the sake of my health and waist line, and also for the sake of everyone else.  The better I eat, the better off the planet is.  Be the change you want to see in the world and all of that.

    I have certain things going for me.  I like water and exercise.  I’ve read a crap-load of books on nutrition and food, and I know what I should be doing.  I am fortunate to have access to local farms and farmer’s markets, co-ops and neighborhood grocery stores, and the means to pay for the true cost of food when it is sold without subsidy and grown in a responsible manner.

    I’m starting a journey and making it public so that I have more incentive to stick it out.  I want to change how and what I eat and why I eat and I don’t want my primary motivation to be those 10-20 pounds.  Instead I want to focus on how I should be eating and hope that the excess weight leaves in it’s own good time.  So, here goes…


    A Barn On A Bluff

    One of my favorite past-times is searching for places to visit.  I like to find an area and then a place to stay, but sometimes I find a place to stay first and then the area is already decided for me.

    A few years ago, I ran across Barn on the Bluff and I’ve kept it in the back of my mind as a place I’d like to visit.  It’s located just outside of Elkader, IA, about 4 hours from the Twin Cities.  It’s a large barn that was renovated a few years ago to be a group B & B.  Your group gets the whole barn and the nice people who own the place bring breakfast each morning at whatever time you choose.


    I finally had an occasion to visit Bar on the Bluff last weekend.  Our family does an “Olson Family Weekend” once a year and this was my year to plan.  This was our 8th year and each year a different couple plans where we go and what we do.  This year included a game night, ping-pong tournament, capture the flag, photo shoot, line-dancing lessons, the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie, a nature walk, and lots of other fun stuff.  This was my second time to plan and I’m already excited about planning my next go-around in 2016.

    Most of the time when I find a place I really want to stay, I’m a bit let down by the place. It usually seems better in pictures and in my mind, than in reality.  Such was not the case with Barn of the Bluff.  It was exactly as I hoped it would be.  The decor was cool, kitschy, eclectic and just right.  The space was large and gave our group of 14 plenty of room to spread out and be together, while still being apart.  Having breakfast brought to you each morning is a lovely treat that I can’t get enough of.  I hate cooking, but I love eating and pj’s, so this arrangement is one I could definitely live with long term.

    The only downside to the barn is the somewhat open nature of many of the sleeping arrangements.  We worked it out and all found a place to hang our head, but having more enclosed, private bedrooms would be nice.  For a gaggle of older kids, the sleeping arrangements would be ideal and the adults could hide away in the private bedrooms, but for a group with just young kids and tired adults, it wasn’t the best.

    The town of Elkader was a pleasant surprise.  It’s a small town and at first glimpse there wasn’t much offered, but the longer we hung out the more our perceptions changed.  The first run movie theater was very nice, with digital sound and picture.  There is also a bar/restaurant named Schera’s serving Alergian food that has a beer-on-tap list that would impress even the most snobbish beer fan.  Jamie and the brother-in-laws each had a superb time trying the different offerings.  The bakery run by a young, cute couple with two kids was charming, and the coffee house, while not having the best coffee, did offer it cheaply along with pretty good ice cream.  We ordered a double-shot of espresso and three ice creams and our total bill was under $7.00.

    We also enjoyed browsing through the impressive selection of second-hand wares the town has for sale.  Several of the town’s stores were part rummage sale, part antique store and all strangely-awesome.  I spent a good hour in one room of one store and I’m sure I could have spent the rest of the day in just that one place.  It’s called the Turkey River Mall and it was amazing.  My general nature and self doesn’t like used things, but this place had many somethings for everyone and I was taken in by the weird-wonderfulness of the place.  I also loved how all of the second hand/antique places in town mixed new merchandise in with the used.  It was a nice change of pace from the usual.

    The area around Elkader is beautiful, including the scenery at the Barn itself.  Rolling hills, quiet streams, exposed limestone and lots of green.  Bluff country is my landscape of choice, so I’m a bit biased, but I think anyone would call it picturesque.  The area had a peaceful, easy feeling that sunk into my bones and made me feel good.

    The Barn books up well in advance, so if you are interested in visiting, make your plans early.

    P.S. - A shout out to my sister Angie for all of the great photos!

    Larger Than A One-Year-Old

    I had a baby, then I had a blog, then I had another baby and now that another baby is ONE plus four days! The newest arrival is a never-stand-still, always moving sort of guy. He prefers crawling to walking which is to say that he hasn’t walked yet, but doesn’t have any desire to try. He’s mastered the stairs and makes several trips up and down each day. He commands his environment and expects things to conform to his will. Open the dishwasher and he’ll have a plate on the floor in seconds. Show him the dog food bucket and he’ll be there in a New York minute ready to throw food at the dog. Give him an inch and he’ll take a mile.

    He seems stronger than would be natural for a one-year-old and has broken many things that I didn’t think a one-year-old would be able to break. This guy doesn’t take no for an answer. Diaper changes are never dull as Tyler believes lying still to be an insult to my physical prowess. He contorts his body, screams and many times achieves a stand up position mid-diaper change.

    For all of his tough guy routine, Tyler is a softie at heart. He laughs his head off multiple times a day and loves an odd head snuggle with anything soft. He delivers open mouthed kisses to arms, legs, faces, whatever he can reach. And he’s got a smile that can’t be beat. That’s Tyler and he’s ONE plus four days…that’s why he’s larger than a one-year-old.

    Winnipeg Wrap-Up

    We spent last weekend at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. This was my fourth year and in some bizarre and strange way, this may have been my favorite festival. The weather was most unpleasant for almost half of the time, with one day of 50 degree, windy, rainy storms from morning till night, the mosquitos were out of control, it felt like we hardly heard any music and I was showerless from Thursday afternoon through Sunday evening. Despite all of this, I found myself sitting back and digging the experience.

    I throughly enjoyed my first visit to the festival when we camped in the family campground, but the last two years were a bit lackluster for me. We took Mazie when she was one, stayed in a hotel and while it was really nice to shower each day, hoteling the festival lacks something. Last year, we camped, but in festival campgrounds (i.e. the party campground) because you can walk right from the campground into the festival and I foolishly thought that it might be fun to stay up late and be young again, but alas it wasn’t. This year we returned to the family campground, with family and friends in tow, and the the magic returned. Long live the Winnipeg Folk Festival!

    Dog Days of Summer

    The dogs were away and then the dogs were back. Now the dogs are here and I am once again cohabiting with Mr. Exuberance and Ms. Strange. I didn’t miss the dogs much at all on our trip and I was close to frightened of their impending arrival. My heart picked up the pace when I saw the Pets Are Inn van approach. I was in near panic mode when the back hatch opened, but once I saw that mangy little Izzy and the over-excited Chase, I was happy they were home. I guess they truly have become part of the family. Welcome home guys!

    Here comes the bride

    A quick shout out to the newlyweds, Kurt and Rosalin (Jamie’s mom/my mom-in-law). Happy wedding, happy marriage and happy Java. Thanks for a fun evening filled with good food, family, friends and a belly dancer. It was nice to see you all fancied up in your party clothes, gooey-eyed and in love. I hope you guys are off to a relaxing and fun-filled start…see you at the folk festival!

    If you, the non-Rosalin/non-Kurt reader of this blog, missed the big celebration, here are a few pictures to help your mind’s eye recreate the magic! Click through if you wish to see the full image.

    The crew out to lunch The kiss The wedding fam Larger than a flower girl Flower girl mazie The ceremony Rosalin and bd Everyone belly dancing The happy couple and cake The after party Signing the certificate

    A brief return to consumerism

    I’ve tried to mend my ways over the last couple of years and halt my seemingly endless desire for stuff. I think the brakes have been rather successful and while I’m still no ultra-thrifty, re-user, re-purposer, I’ve made big progress. I was the kind of person who would walk into Target flat broke and in need of toothpaste and an hour later my cart would be brimming with anything and everything. In my present life I’ve either eliminated or replaced most of my Target purchases and when I do happen in, I stick to my list and that’s it. All of this is to say that I love to consume, but I’ve been trying not to and doing a pretty good job.

    Enter my mom…

    She had this idea that it would be fun to take each of her four daughters out for a day of shopping. We could buy whatever we wanted and she would pick up the tab. There was a budget, but it was kept in disguise and we were only to be aware of the limit if we exceeded it. At the end of each daughter’s shopping day, the daughter returned to my parent’s house and put on a little show-and-tell for my dad. He then became the great equalizer and surprised each of us with a check totaling the unspent money in our unknown budget. I had my day in the spotlight a few days ago (I was the last to go) and it was a ton of fun. I started out hesitant and unsure and ended the day drunk on the power of purchasing. Thanks mom and dad for giving us “kids” the opportunity for such an adventure. While I love everything I bought and don’t regret a single purchase, I don’t think I’ll be returning to my old ways anytime soon. This was a one time occurrence…but it sure was fun!

    Big Sur packs a wallop

    Today has restored my faith in “the vacation”. I must admit over the last few days I’ve grown weary and last night as I was trying to fall asleep I really wanted to pack it up and go home. But today was a glorious day and I’m feeling the travel buzz all over again.

    We took it easy this morning, no showers, breakfast in our little house, and then hit the road around 9am. The van cruised us down Hwy. 1 to the Big Sur area and there was nothing but Spectacular each and every way we turned. There are scenic spots to stop almost continuously and lots of quaint motels, shops, art galleries and restaurants tucked into the hillside. The drive continues on to the Hearst Castle and beyond, but in the interest of Mazie and her sanity, we kept our distance from home base around 50 miles.

    We lunched at this fabulous spot called Nepenthe where patrons are seated at two long wood counters that overlook a sheer drop-off with hills on one side and the ocean on the other. I’ve never felt so calm and happy waiting for and then partaking in my meal. Even Mazie was a picture of near perfection, only showing faint signs of “two-ness” while sharing dessert with Jamie.

    After 3 hikes, an awesome lunch, lots of picture taking and even a little shopping, we plopped ourselves down for a refreshing ice cream cone in the prettiest state park lodge I’ve ever been to, then turned the van around and headed back to our temporary home.

    Paradise lost, paradise found, and the pictures to prove it.

    SF + TKT = :-(

    I know San Francisco is a great city and so I figure there was something out of whack with me during our visit. It’s not that I had a horrible time or no fun at all, but I never fell into a groove with the city. Since I don’t have much to report, I thought I’d share a few photos instead. Click through the pictures if you want to see the full image or read the description.

    Mazie on the run San fran street scene San fran street The mazie The van in a truck Tkt mkt ggb Sf boats Tammy mazie clay The sf homestead A horse is a horse of course And on this farm he had some chickens ei ei o Mazie and jamie swinging

    Deep-Fat Fried

    I’m feeling like a horrible mom. I tend to be pretty blasé about certain things and the sun is one of those things. I know, I know, not putting sunscreen on your kid is a horrible crime and I’m so guilty no jury is needed. I could easily count the number of times I’ve applied sunscreen to Mazie on one hand. She’s never burned before; she’s always been the same shade of off-white. I try to ensure her sun exposure is low, keeping her in the shade or making sure that when she does get sun it’s early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Anyhoo…

    We were at a park in sunny San Francisco on Saturday, getting some quality time with the all-important swing, and by nightfall a small part of Mazie’s face was puffy and red. It’s now Tuesday and she still has red spots on her face. Jamie, who is much wiser about sun things than I, had put sunscreen on her, but even that wasn’t enough to counter the devious plans of this particular sun. I remember him being worried about Mazie getting too much sun and me thinking that he worries far too much and should just chill out.

    As with all things like this, I learned my lesson and changed my tune immediately. After realizing that my stupidity got my kid burned, I’ve become the sunscreen police. So, to all you moms and dads out there who religiously put sunscreen on your kids, good job.

    Wiki Sticks

    If you are looking for an interesting craft project to do with kids, may I introduce the Wikki Stix. Mazie was gifted a few Wikki Stixs at a restaurant a couple of weeks ago and the whole Thingelstad clan has enjoyed playing with them ever since. They are colorful, easy to sculpt, wax-covered yarn pieces. With only eight “sticks” Mazie has managed a ladder, while I’ve sculpted many a person and Jamie has fashioned multiple geometric shapes and the Seattle Space Needle. Just imagine what fun could be had with a whole package!

    Omnivore's Dilemma

    Omnivore’s Dilemma is one of my favorite books that I’ve read in the recent past. I heard a couple of talks on the radio with the author Michael Pollan and the subject sounded interesting. I bought the book and I distinctly remember reading it in the parking lots of various big-box retailers in the New Jersey wasteland, where we lived for three weeks during the summer of ‘06, while Mazie napped in the backseat due to regular nap failure.

    The book helped shape and change some of my ideas about the production of food, but what I most enjoyed about the book was the simple pleasure of reading it. The book is divided into four sections. Section I is a short history of corn (which I found to be really mind-blowing), Section II is a look at big organic and what that means and entails, Section III is all about one small farm in Virginia called Polyface and the move toward beyond organic or sustainable food-raising and Section IV is an interesting look at building a meal from things grown, foraged or killed by the author.

    If you haven’t read it yet, I highly suggest a read. If you have read it, let me know what you think!

    Quotes from the Road...2nd Installment

    Yesterday at breakfast Mazie commented that she was cold and I replied that I was too. She looked at Jamie and asked him if he was cold; he shook his head no. Mazie then pointed to Jamie’s forearms and asked in all seriousness, “Cause of that white fur?”. Classic stuff, but she does have a point. He’s one hairy guy.

    These are a few of my favorite things...Seattle

    I’d never been to Seattle before; now I have. We, me and the family had lots of fun traversing the city, mainly on foot. We checked out Folklife, Seattle Center, The Seattle Aquarium, Woodland Park Zoo, The Children’s Museum, The Space Needle, Pike Place Market, the flagship REI store and lots of cool restaurants and shops littered throughout downtown. I’ve come away with a few favorites that I’m dying to share.

    1. The 5 Spot was hands-down my favorite restaurant we’ve eaten at so far on our trip and one of my favorite restaurants of all time. The place itself was cool, hip without trying, filled with interesting people and great servers. The menu was inventive without being too foodie (I can be a little under-adventurous sometimes). The food was great, tasty and fresh and the prices reasonable. They use grass-fed beef of which I’m a big proponent and that’s something hard to find in a restaurant. To sum it up: The 5 Spot rocked!

    2. The first half of the Woodland Park Zoo was amazing. I’ve never been to a zoo that didn’t make me feel at least a little sorry for the animals, but these guys are living it up at a 5 star hotel. The experience for the visitor was stunning as well. The whole place was heavily wooded with a trickle of a path running through. The path wound round and round and brought you to viewing spots where you had to think for a moment how it was that the animals were staying in their environment while you stayed in yours. The boundaries were non-conventional and effective in making you feeling like you happened upon the animals in the wild. They had a giraffe feeding experience that was top notch. Mazie and a bunch of other kids got to feed a giraffe a bunch of branches, leaves and lettuce. It was natural and unstructured and a big hit. Also, whereas most zoos have crap all about, the first half of the Woodland Park Zoo had no beverage carts, food stands, vending machines or souvenirs for sale. It was all cool zoo, all of the time. And if that’s not enough, their newest building is Gold LEED Certified; not an easy task. The second half of the zoo lost the magic and turned into a regular zoo. It was still nice, but nothing like the first half.

    3. My third favorite spot was Top Pot Doughnuts. The building had amazing architecture, with a mix of classic modern and deco. The facade was all windows and very unique. It had a metal structure jutting out which made me think vintage airport for some reason. The interior was great too. The ceiling was high, high, high with a loft up top for grand sitting and viewing of the downstairs. The sides of the place were bookcases, climbing all the way to the top. There were tons of old books lining all of the shelves. And the doughnuts…the doughnuts were top-notch!

    Quotes from the Road

    Mazie outfitted with scissors for a little job of take apart Mazie confirms suspicions that she’s a little bit weird by reciting for 5 minutes in the car all of the various parts of “dad” that should be taken apart: ears, eyes, nose, back, arms, legs, head, hand, and on and on. She concludes the monologue with the statement, “I want someone to take dad apart.” Neither Jamie or I have any idea what this all means, but we are happy to report at this time that “dad” is still all put together.
    those wistful mountains just waiting to be climbedJamie, while looking wistfully at the mountains in Glacier National Park laments that he doesn’t quite have all of the necessary craziness to climb mountains and says, “I lack the salt for that.”. Huh? Sometimes I think I married an ole’ man from the hills, instead of some uber-techy geek guy. Confounding…

    Doggone it

    Guest post: this is my lovely sister angie. she is quite a bit younger than me and quite a bit taller than me and almost always in a sunshiney mood. she is a nice sister to have.

    If I was a dog, I would want to celebrate Christmas with my family. I would like to unwrap a bone or new squeaky toy wearing a new Santa hat my mommie gave me. But I am not a dog. I am the mommie.

    I want to bring our dog, Louie, to our immediate family Christmas get-together. I am not one of those crazy people who thinks that Louie is a human–although I’ll be honest that I dress him up for Halloween and we celebrate his birthday. I just think he’s part of the family.

    I am not advocating bringing your dog to formal dinner parties, family reunions, wedding, funerals or even your friend’s house, but a casual family get-together seems innocent enough to me. Our dog Louie is very cute and cuddly. He also licks, sheds and eats everything he can get his paws on. We try to control him as best we can, and I think the more exposure he gets to being around big groups of people, the better his behavior gets. To me, family Christmas celebrations shouldn’t be peaceful, boring times of mundane conversation. Kids, animals and crazy mommies make it more fun!

    If I was a dog, I would want to celebrate Christmas with my family