meeting my newest seattle friend

I made a quick trip to Seattle last month to see my dear friend Megan and meet her 5-week old baby boy.

As cheesy as it sounds, Seattle clings tight to a piece of my heart. As soon as the plane landed on the tarmac, surrounded by clouds and drizzle, tears came to my eyes. I was there less than 48 hours, but we packed a lot in. Most importantly, I spent a lot of quality time with Megan, her husband Sean, and the cute newcomer to their family.

img_4981^^after touching down at seatac, i took the light rail (for just $2.75!) downtown, and then walked up to capitol hill. i had to hit up my favorite coffee shop, victrola, before uber-ing to megan’s ‘hood: madison park.^^

img_4997^^baby william! so happy to meet him! what expressions he has at such a young age. no surprise, though, given how cool and animated his parents are.^^

img_4985^^baby william, his parents, our friend shannon, and i all went to anchovies & olives for a delicious dinner, and then ended the night with dessert, conversation, and baby bouncing at cupcake royale.^^

img_4988^^gorgeous saturday morning light in madison park.^^

img_4999^^beautiful new mama rocking the best baby carrier eva.^^

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img_5005^^obviously, going to mighty-o donuts was a must. conveniently, they’ve open a new shop in ballard, which was another spot i wanted to visit. we spent saturday afternoon walking around and checking out new and old spots, happily full of donuts.^^

img_5013^^had to stop at golden gardens for a quick walk along the beach. // as the sun set, we went back to madison park and cooked salmon and vegetables for dinner. we talked parenting and baby carriers and life. we reminisced about the fun we had as twenty-somethings in fremont and capitol hill. we were too busy talking to take any pictures. it was just lovely.^^

img_5030^^a quick shot after a great breakfast at geraldine’s before i headed back to the airport. thank you SO MUCH for the wonderful weekend, megan!^^

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doughnuts! donuts! in los angeles!

To start, apologies for the grammatical situation in this post’s title. When it comes to two acceptable spellings of a word, you’re supposed to pick one and stick to it. But I have trouble doing that with the word “donuts.” Because, you see, even if I pick one, then I’m going to go eat donuts at a place like Sidecar Doughnuts (or Johnny Doughnuts!) and there I’ve gone and contradicted myself. Just one of my many donut problems.

That’s not really the point, though. What I want to tell you about is: Sidecar Doughnuts in Santa Monica. We went while we were in Los Angeles in January, and it was phenomenal. So good!

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Before our trip, I’d researched donut places in Los Angeles, and didn’t come up with much. (It’s highly likely that I was interrupted by one of our smaller family members and then didn’t get a chance to resume my search.) I’d heard about a place in Koreatown, but as soon as I saw a picture of a donut with Fruit Loops on it, I was out. When our plane touched down at LAX, I didn’t have a donut shop on our agenda.

But. Driving from the airport to my brother-in-law’s place in Santa Monica, we happened past Sidecar Doughnuts. It looked legit. A quick internet search returned promising results. A few mornings later, we found ourselves there at 7am. (They open at 6:30. Plus one for them. Early opening time is high on my extensive list of donut-shop criteria.)

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I probably should create my own donut-rating system, but let’s save that for another day. For now I’ll just say these are solid donuts. Lots of options of both the cake and yeasted varieties. Their flavors bordered on what I’d deem too dessert-like, but stayed mostly in safe territory. Their “daily” options were a good bet, while the monthly specialities seemed to get a bit fancier (sweeter). The Saigon Cinnamon Crumb and the Huckleberry were my favorites.

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They have two locations in Los Angeles, so if you’re ever there, check them out! Also, Stumptown Roasters coffee. Nuff said.

advent activities!

There’s no denying it: the access to information provided by the internet has a definite influence on my parenting. Between blogs and Instagram, I inundate myself daily with glimpses into other families’ lives. What other kids are wearing, eating, doing.

You could argue that this tendency of reflection is maddening and depressing.  A futile way to spend time. But, I find it to be a comforting sense of community. A village of sorts. We’re all trying to do the same general thing: create family memories as we try to raise our little ones to be our definition of “good kids.” In their matching Hanna Andersson pajamas.

A few years ago, during my online perusing, I noticed some parents doing advent activities with their kids during the holiday season. It sounded (and looked!) like a fun way to add a little excitement to each day in December. I was keen to give it a go. It took me a couple of tries to get it together, but this year I managed to organize 24 index cards on the wall with Washi tape. I’ve had to rearrange them a bit (covertly, of course) but so far it’s been a huge success. Willa’s loving it, and we are too.

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DSC09959^^decking the halls! decorating the tree whilst eating eggnog and spinach balls. cam ate most of them.^^

DSC00001^^easy and exciting advent activity: “at home facials” ^^

DSC00022^^trip to the hammond’s candy cane festival in an amazing “merry christmas” sweatsuit i found at goodwill: not an officially sanctioned advent activity but fantastic nonetheless.^^

DSC00031^^slow morning with breakfast by the tree. three cheers for trader joe’s pain au chocolat!^^

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DSC00089^^ice skating at skyline park and treats at the christkindl market. i had relatively high hopes for the outing, but they were still exceeded. willa LOVED ice skating. she didn’t want to stop and got much better in just the hour we were there. and the market was really fun! we enjoyed mulled wine in the beer tent with festive music. we’ll definitely go back again next year if not before!^^

more donut complaining

We are leaving in the morning to fly east. My sister is getting MARRIED! And we’re making a vacation of it; spending time in Boston before heading out Cape Cod for the festivities. But to distract myself from our inability to pack light (that’ll be another post), I’m going to write about donuts. And how Denver is still failing on that front.

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Ok. Failing is a blatant overstatement. The multiple donut establishments in the area are providing totally servicable donuts. But no one is hitting it out of the ballpark. New places keep opening but they are not satisfying my intense need for a donut exactly like one from Seattle’s Mighty-O (Side note: It expanded recently! In Ballard now! And Capitol Hill!).

We recently biked down to Lohi on a Saturday morning to check out Habit Doughnut Dispensary. I had high hopes. Probably much too high. Definitely much too high. But Lohi! Old brick building! Donuts! Donuts.

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Let’s be positive. Here’s what they had going for themselves:

  • Solid yeasted donuts. The dough was the right amount of puffy and held its shape when you took a bite. And it wasn’t too sweet.
  • Decent varieties. I’m a bit of a purist. I don’t want fruit loops on my donut. Don’t you dare give me an artificial flavor. I just want some thoughtful flavors with an appropriate amount of sugar. Habit was okay in this regard. They delivered on some, but others were a bit over the top.
  • Good hours. A donut place has to be open early. Period. End of sentence.
  • Friendly staff. Welcoming, knowledgable, efficient.

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Positives are boring. I like to complain. Here are my gripes:

  • No cake donuts. Wtf? Is it an altitude thing?
  • Whiskey? Huh? They advertise alcohol to go with the donuts. I’m pretty sure that’s a silly idea, but even if I were to go with it, I’d expect some high-quality bourbon. But no. They have little plastic shots by the cash register. Not enticing.
  • Free coffee. Habit is right next door to Carbon and both businesses are under the same owner. But they’re not really connected. Two different outside doors. Habit offers free drip coffee when you buy donuts. I’ve never been to business school, but that seems like a terrible idea. If you weren’t giving me free coffee, I’d go buy a $4 latte next door. I would have enjoyed the latte more than the drip coffee too, but I’m a sucker for free things. But now all I remember is bad coffee.
  • Candy store? The also sell other “necessities” like candy and laundry detergent. An interesting concept, but it’s not so much corner store-y as it is gimmicky. I just don’t imagine they’ll sell much of that stuff. But again, I am no business expert so maybe it’s me who’s missing something.
  • Atmosphere. The space Habit occupies is primo. But they obviously weren’t aiming to make it a comfortable café. Most of the space is devoted to baking (I assume?) with just a small counter and limited indoor seating. Even though the donuts were good, it didn’t feel like a place I’d want to linger.

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Can’t wait to go donut hunting in Boston! And no, I will not be eating any Dunkin’. I’m surprised you’d even ask.

a happy birthday brunch for our three year old!

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Willa turned three last week!

So far, I’m not sure what to make of this age. It’s so hot and cold. Up and down. She’s the cutest little girl EVER and then moments later she is so naughty. But I know it’s all part of her development, and I’m doing my best to take deep breaths and be patient and supportive as she’s learning.

She’s working on being a big sister. She loves her little brother and enjoys having him around. She will say, “Hi little buddy!” when he wakes up from a nap, and if he’s fussing, she’ll say, “It’s ok Cameron!” and then tell him something about what’s going on. She has trouble sharing her toys with him. She often grabs things away from him. But she’ll occasionally bring him a toy to play with, and she loves to share her food with him while they’re at the table eating.

My favorite thing about Willa at this stage are our conversations. She loves to ask me questions. Lately we’ve been talking a lot about “workers” and what they build. She started with, “Mama, did workers build our house?” And now she asks if workers have built other things. The other day we were driving somewhere and she asked me to explain how the workers built our car. You can feel her mind working.

She remembers details and events of things we did so long ago. I am always surprised when she reminds me of them weeks or months later. She can carry on a conversation so well. It blows me away. She is getting so tall and so smart. I feel proud of the beautiful and inquisitive little girl she is growing into. She challenges and delights me each day.

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Her birthday was a wonderful day! We were lucky to have family in town to celebrate and we threw a little brunch shindig with friends, donuts, cake, and an inflatable pink picture frame (Is that what we call it? No idea. But it was fun!).

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DSC07659^^”Mango cake!” For weeks before her birthday, Willa was telling everyone that she was going to have a mango cake. We weren’t sure exactly what a mango cake was, but opted for vanilla cake with mango custard in the middle and buttercream frosting. It was delicious. Willa might have ruined her appetite with donuts, but I certainly enjoyed it. Huge thanks to the pastry chef! ;)^^

DSC07662-001^^Cam slept for the first half of the party, but woke up and put on his party pants. He tried some snacks and was super excited to meet his Uncle Mike!^^

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DSC07549-001^^An inflatable pink frame = possibly the best $1.99 I’ve ever spent at Goodwill.^^

a week and a brunch with nana

Yesterday was my mom’s birthday. We were delighted to be able to spend the day with her for the second year in a row, even though she lives across the country. She was here the past week and we had such a nice time spending time with her. And needless to say, we were overjoyed and so thankful for her help with the little ones. It’s amazing what a difference it makes to have another person around.

To celebrate her birthday and the end of a great week, we went to brunch at Block & Larder. The restaurant opened late last year and has become our go-to for going out without kids. It’s a fun place to enjoy just a drink and a snack at the bar, but they have a very extensive menu focused on in-house butchery so you can certainly get a hearty meal.

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They started offering brunch more recently, and it seemed like a place nice enough to celebrate a birthday but not too too nice to take the littles. It was indeed a great place for a family brunch. The only thing that worked against us was that when we got there at 10:45 there was only one other table filled. So any noise made by a small person echoed throughout the whole place. But once we were finishing up, closer to noon, a few more groups had come in, including 2 other babies.

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The brunch menu was solid and more straightforward than their dinner fare; 12 entrée options and just a few sides. And drinks of course. We went with the Oyster Rockefeller Benedict and the Breakfast Bread Pudding. We don’t go out to brunch too often, but when we do we almost always opt for one savory dish and one sweet item for our “breakfast dessert.”

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Cam was uncharacteristically crabby when we first sat down, but once the food arrived his mood did a 180. He was delighted to eat eggs and an English muffin. My mood improved too, actually.The bread pudding was decadent and absolutely delicious. The benedict had great flavors, but I’d say they were a bit stingy on the oysters. (We had two at the table; one had 4 oysters and the other had just 3.) I had a peach bourbon bellini which was just the right amount of sweet. It could have been a touch colder…or maybe I should have finished it faster? But all in all, it was a great brunch. Good food, company, and atmosphere. All the right ingredients.

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DSC07405Happy Birthday Mom! We love you!

little things lately

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DSC07376^^This girl will be 3 in a week. She suddenly seems so much older. She asks specific questions. She makes remarkable observations. She tells jokes. And talks with her hands. She can still drive me crazy…I’m not looking forward to holding her down to apply sunscreen every single day of the summer. And why does brushing her hair have to make her scream like I’m torturing her? But she can put her shoes on by herself! She can get dressed on her own too, but being naked is more her jam. Good thing warm weather has finally arrived!^^

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DSC07284^^Have you ever have these Lemon Ricotta Waffles with Poppy Seeds? They are THE BEST. Seriously. Make them. And if you have leftover ricotta to use up, I suggest this cake.^^

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DSC07326^^My friend Katie and her kids were in town a couple weeks ago, and we were delighted to have them over for a play and dinner. (I was also delighted that my child isn’t the only one with some ups and downs in the 3ish year old behavior department.) Old friends are so wonderful. Thanks for the visit, dear!^^

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DSC07356^^We had friends over for dinner the other weekend and got dressed up for the occasion. I tried to take a selfie with Willa, but that was pushing my luck.^^

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DSC_7076^^Cam was sick this week. He had a fever and was out of sorts for a few days. (Note some Tylenol on his jammies in the photo above.) But thankfully he’s now back to his smiley self. And he really is smiley. It’s awesome. I hope he stays this happy for months and years to come.^^