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.

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hello, L.A.!

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We headed to L.A. last month to visit Dan’s brother for a long long weekend. We had a delightful weekend packed with several fun activities. Both kids were terrified of the ocean’s waves, but they loved the beach, so we enjoyed our fair share of sand in our hair and between our toes. We hiked in Malibu, and I hit up a Dailey Method class in Venice. Combine all that with family bonding, and it was an all-around great trip. Thanks so much for hosting us, M&S!

DSC00442^^first trip with her very own suitcase. she was so excited.^^

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IMG_2445^^post-flight beach walk: getting our wiggles out + thrilled to see the ocean.^^

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DSC00476 ^^afternoon at santa monica beach followed by piggyback snoozes and smoothies.^^

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DSC00458^^tree pictures: can’t stop. won’t stop.^^

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IMG_2658^^venice, i like you. after taking class at the dailey method there, a teacher recommended i try the bulletproof coffee at another kind of sunrise. it did not disappoint.^^

DSC00494^^ICYMI: homemade fries are AMAZING. look at cam salivating.^^

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DSC00522^^in this moment, at venice beach, we learned that willa can write her name!^^

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DSC00527^^i was so excited to check out salt & straw since it’s kinda a big deal on the national artisanal ice cream stage (that’s a thing, right?) and i’d never made it to the portland location. venice to the rescue. i ordered a kids’ size, per usual, but it was a legit small portion, so i had to indulge and order a second flavor. totally worth it.^^

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IMG_2680^^dan and i snuck out for a late night dinner at cassia in santa monica. it calls itself a southeast asian brasserie. i love the things restaurants come up with! (seriously, i do.) to me, it had a definite LA vibe. luckily i’d packed one fancy outfit, ha! the food was really good and the martini i had was fantastic (“gin, imbue vermouth, blanc vermouth, lemongrass tincture, orange bitters, smoked quail egg” – the quail egg scared me at first, but it was just on a toothpick like an olive would be, and it was delicious!). the whole grilled sea bass was the best thing we ordered. fresh herbs!^^

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DSC00575^^there is an awesome playground at tongva park in santa monica. when we walked by it the first time, the kids were asleep, but we knew we had to go back. indeed, they loved playing there. there was also a water feature for hotter days. wish we had more of those in denver!^^

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IMG_2684^^beautiful, BEAUTIFUL hike in malibu to round out our trip.^^

burmatown, california

Last month, I went on a trip ALL BY MYSELF to California. I was there for some work stuff, but also as a mini vacation and a chance to spend time with family.  And I was so lucky: they really made sure I had a fun and restful stay.

On my first night there, they took me to Burmatown in Corte Madera.

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Obviously, I love an Asian restaurant! And San Francisco boasts numerous exceptional ones. During a previous visit, we went to Burma Superstar in the city, but I dare say Burmatown was better. It was sensational. From the ambiance to the food, everything was divine. The service was exceptional too. And the tea leaf salad! Who doesn’t love tea leaf salad? Well if you haven’t had one, you probably don’t know you love it…But you should try it. Preferable this one. (Although I imagine one in Burma would probably be pretty darn good too…)

Anyway! Everything about Burmatown was delightful. Perhaps I was influenced by the profound enjoyment of dining without little kids to wrangle. But, it doesn’t really matter. A fantastic eating experienced is colored by several factors, and the stars all aligned that night. Thanks so much R + B for such a wonderful dinner and visit!

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a cape cod wedding!

After our fun time in Boston, we made our way out to Cape Cod for MY SISTER’S WEDDING. They’d decided to get married in Truro, Massachusetts. (Side note: why is Massachusetts so hard to spell? Seriously. It is so hard.)

We were delighted to stay in a big house my parents rented in Truro. It was so fun to all be together in an old Cape Cod house. The house was a bit quirky, but delightful and roomy. The kids each had their own room, as did the adults. And it had an outdoor shower! And a beautiful view of the water. What more could one want?

The wedding was on Saturday, but the days prior to that there we lots of festivities. Family dinners, a bachelor party, a bridal shower, the rehearsal dinner, etc. etc. SO MUCH FUN.

I am so happy for my sister, and so grateful for the chance we had to make so many family memories. It was truly a trip to remember.

DSC09328^^en route from boston we stopped in plymouth to eat some bahn mi sandwiches and to take in some american history. it was difficult to get this shot because so many people were waiting to pose in front of the mayflower II!^^

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DSC01240^^as soon as we arrived in truro, we checked out the wedding venue. gorgeous. also, i like overexposed photos!^^

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DSC01299^^the first night in town we had a dinner with the bride and groom’s families. it was also my dad’s birthday. cam was a bit of handful but then he won over the crowd with his coy smiles. that boy!^^

DSC09347^^love.^^

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DSC09403^^cape code beaches. sand dune hiking. family time.^^

DSC09406^^rehearsal. willa was on it.^^

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DSC09421^^rehearsal dinner! willa ate a ton of fried clams. dan ate two lobsters. we all had fun.^^

DSC01420^^woo hoo! wedding day!^^

Alison and Jakob have tons of beautiful pictures from their special day, but those are theirs to share, not mine. It was such a special day. Everything was perfect. They were so happy; and we were so happy for them. I feel so lucky to have been a part of their day, and we are so happy to welcome Jakob into our family. And on top of all that, they live in Denver! Down the street! How did we get so lucky? Life is good.

urban adventures in boston

Oh my goodness I have been so terrible at blogging lately. Where have I been? What have I been doing? I’m not sure. Or, I kind of know, but I best go through my pictures and get it DOCUMENTED so I can remember. Thus the need for my blogging.

So let’s start with the highlight of the fall: late last month, we flew east for my sister’s wedding! The festivities were on Cape Cod, but we added on some time in Boston to visit friends and to have a little family vacay.

DSC08997^^for our first few days, we stayed with our friends rachel and rob in southie. we wasted no time inside, and hit the streets our first morning there. first notable sight: this oddly skinny building.^^

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DSC09011^^it was late september, but boston was bringin’ it with the heat. luckily in these photos you mainly take in the blue sky. it was quite pretty. i’m always a sucker for art installations amid skyscrapers. and WATER! living in denver makes me appreciate water so much more than i ever did when it was near.^^

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DSC09071^^LOOK! my children are sleeping! in a restaurant! that had NEVER happened before. yet it always seems to happen to the moms who live in cities whose blogs i read. so, apparently, when you hoof it around the city all day, your children are apt to fall asleep. and they stayed asleep as we found our table at the barking crab and started in on a beer. cheers to that!^^

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DSC09099^^did i mention water!? after our day walking around the city, we headed down to the beach for grilling and dinner al fresco. willa loved checking out the beach, and rachel and rob made some delicious chuar!

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DSC09233^^i have whined in the past about my kids being challenging while traveling. but i also try to toot their horns when they’ve been great. this trip, they were TROOPERS. they dealt with the different places and schedules and people and lack of routine like champs. i was so proud of them! and proud of our parenting too.^^

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DSC09166^^we arrived in boston on a thursday. on saturday, my sister got to town FOR HER WEDDING. but up first on her agenda? babysitting for us so we could go to oysterfest! she is the best. and oysterfest was a fun event! i was definitely satiated and then some. the hama hama oysters were the best hands down if i do say so myself. and the duck khao soi dish from jamie bissonnette was my favorite dish we sampled. obvi.^^

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DSC09198^^next day, we made our way to the north end to get in touch with dan’s roots. i mean, to get some italian sandwiches. we went to monica’s mercato & salumeria, which did not disappoint. we did, however, learn that it’s a good idea to order ahead! they clearly take sandwich making very seriously, which i appreciate, but that takes time.^^

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DSC09249^^we were lucky enough to spend a few nights staying smack dab in the center of the city, and had fun exploring boston commons, newbury street, and more. there was, of course, a lot of eating. you can never go wrong with a georgetown cupcake.^^

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DSC09267^^GIRLS’ NIGHT! fancy drinks at townsman followed by some lovely generic international lager with hot pot!^^

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DSC09292^^since we’ve been home, willa’s been talking a lot about wanting to go back to the east coast so she can ride the subway. and she wants to know why denver doesn’t have a subway (me, too, sista!). so clearly the day we took the T to cambridge made a big impression on her. i had fun too. i saw MIT for the first time which was really impressive! such a different vibe than harvard.^^

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DSC09307^^we are going to round out the memories of our urban fun in boston with this series. let’s call it “willa happily devours a talenti ice cream bar in broad daylight. while wearing socks and sandals.”^^

SUCH A FUN WEEK! THANKS TO EVERYONE INVOLVED IN MAKING IT SO GREAT!

crested butte craziness

You know what traveling with kids is not like? Traveling without kids.

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Shocking revelation, I know. But really, as simple as that sounds, it’s a fundamental concept that one is forced to come to terms with when embarking on adventures with little ones. And I think it’s something that many of us struggle with in the years after we first have kids. Your “pre-kid” life wasn’t that long ago, and it’s hard to shake the memories of when traveling (or doing anything, really) was, well, quite different.

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A few weeks ago, great friends of ours flew in from Texas and we all trekked out to Crested Butte for the better part of a week. We’d had the trip planned for several months, and our friends were excited to have a Colorado mountain experience.

Crested Butte is sensational. It’s truly an idyllic mountain town. We’d been twice before, but this was our first time going in the summer. The town was as quaint as ever and we were blown away by the breathtaking views. We tried our best to maximize the hiking trails and other outdoor adventures the area has to offer.

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It was challenging though, to be sure. We were tired. Cameron didn’t sleep that well. Willa had the ups and downs that seem to be par for her course at age 3. I got frustrated. At one point I cried and declared we should just drive back to Denver.

I didn’t really mean it. And we didn’t. I’m glad we didn’t. The week was special. It was memorable. We got closer as a family. We reconnected with our friends. We got to know their kids.

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There are numerous quotations about how things are hard but you should do them anyway. How it’s the hard that makes them great. I’m not saying I wouldn’t take a relaxed vacation sans kid drama…I would. (Gosh, I would!) But different is okay. Different has its own charms.

Some highlights:

DSC08698^^Secret Stash Pizzeria. So good.^^

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DSC08676^^Meridian Lake. We hiked the steep route which was a lot of bang for your buck. Great views and refreshing swim.^^

DSC08709^^Henderson Park aka “the mini park.” According to Willa, this was the highlight of the trip. I’ll bet you’ve never seen a smaller park.^^

DSC08758^^Our VRBO on Elk Avenue. It was close to town and also to several hiking trails. It had a bit of an odd bedroom set-up (a really large master suite with a sitting area, a tiny bedroom by the kitchen with a full-sized bed, and two bedrooms upstairs with twin beds) but it worked out just fine! Great outdoor space.^^

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To round out this story, it must be said that friends who can parent together are true friends. The challenges of this trip were eased by the extra eyes, hands, ears, and hugs throughout the days and the camaraderie around the campfire at night. We love you guys!

you can always go home again

Last month, I embarked on my first big trip with both kids. Just me, and the two littles. We flew to New York state to visit my parents in my hometown, Canton. Perhaps it doesn’t sound like a bit trip. From Denver you can fly almost anywhere in the continental U.S. in 2-4 hours. Right? Right. Problem is, my parents live 2.5 hours from the nearest American airport. And that airport only works if you take a red-eye east from Denver. A red-eye with my energetic 3-year old? No thanks. So the airport we flew to is 4 hours from my hometown. That mere fact made the trip more of an adventure for everyone involved. Including my parents who are all kinds of awesome for driving us to and from the airport!

It was a wonderful visit. It was exhausting. But it was joyful. We made memories that I’ll cherish forever, and I hope that Willa might remember a couple of things too. There’s really nothing like going home.

IMG_0753^^on the drive home from the airport, first there was screaming. then there was napping. then there was a stop at the most beautiful adirondack lake. i have been seriously missing east coast lakes, and this moment was just glorious. willa immediately took off her clothes and started splashing around, and the sun was setting over the mountains. it was the best start to our visit.^^

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IMG_0763^^the green! everything is so green. i missed it. and the country roads.^^

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DSC08149^^the bagelry! getting bagels was a staple of my childhood. this place has seriously upped its game in recent years, bringing a hip city vibe to our small town. it’s amazing how the no one can do bagels like east coasters.^^

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IMG_0777^^hitting up the school playground and the town square’s fountain. not pictured: a trip to the ice cream stand that resulted in a massive meltdown, both literal and figurative. ice cream melts quite fast when it’s 90 degrees. (duh.) but also! soft serve! why is that just an east coast thing? love a vanilla soft serve with rainbow sprinkles.^^

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DSC08159^^it was definitely summer weather while we were visiting. hot and humid. but my mom knew a secret swimming spot and we had such a nice evening relaxing by the river. willa was a bit tentative about the water, and cameron mostly hung out on shore devouring a plum, but i certainly enjoyed swimming!^^

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DSC08207^^beet hummus! my mom makes the best food. and since we’re still doing the whole “baby-led weaning” gig, my dad liked to say throughout the week that cameron was “taking his leadership responsibilities very seriously.” ha! he was right though. that little dude can go after some food.^^

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DSC08249^^i had grand plans of the week being screen-free. i imagined willa running wild and free around my parents’ large yard for hours on end. things didn’t pan out to be exactly that idyllic, but we truly did enjoy a lot of time outside. willa loved the huge yard, and definitely got her feet nice and dirty every single day. one morning it poured rain, and we both had a ton of fun running up and down the driveway.^^

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IMG_0810^^we hit up the wild center in tupper lake one day, and it was definitely worth the drive. what a cool place! it was a hot day, and quite crowded, but we still enjoyed seeing some of the indoor displays and checking out the wild walk.^^

IMG_0882^^more swimming! we went to the town beach one day, and expected to only stay for a short bit, but willa enjoyed it so much that we were there for over 3 hours! she’s still wasn’t much into swimming, but she loved playing with the water and sand, and also made friends with some of the other kids there. it’s funny how having kids gives you a whole new perspective on places. i’ve been home so many times in the past 10 years but never thought of going to the beach until this trip!^^

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DSC08248^^thank you, mom and dad, for hosting us for such a wonderful week! it was crazy and chaotic, but also incredibly meaningful and memorable. we love you.^^