Travel

Seattle Trip Eats and Drinks

What’s a visit to the Pacific Northwest without enjoying great food?

During our stay, we ate and drank at:

Whether it was the food or the view, I didn’t have a bad meal on this trip.

Crockett’s Public House was apparently featured on an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives. I loved the atmosphere, and the service was fantastic.

We ordered the cheesy cheddar and parmesan kettle corn as a starter. Some of the pieces didn’t get as much of the cheese coating, and they were just ok. But if you snagged a piece smothered in the cheese — oh so good! For my entreé, I went with their cobb salad — so fricking good!!

Before my trip, a co-worker tipped me onto Penn Cove mussels. These mussels are said to be the best in the world, and spotting them on the menu outside of Maximilien at Pike Place Market sealed the lunch deal. I have never seen so many mussels in my life. They did not disappoint — they were super fresh and amazingly good!

Penn cove mussels at Maximilien at Pike Place Market

Being tourists and all, we had to grab a coffee at the original Starbucks at Pike Place Market. Luckily, the line wasn’t too bad mid-afternoon. The whole operation is surprisingly efficient given the crowds. We got our drinks, I picked up a souvenir cup, and we got on our way.

Original Starbucks at Seattle's Pike Place Market

We celebrated my birthday at the Salish Lodge in Snoqualmie, Washington. I can’t imagine a more incredible setting to celebrate turning 37 — or any age for that matter.

Salish Lodge and Snoqualmie Falls in Snoqualmie, Washington

We started off with drinks and appetizers in The Attic. Their house-made potato chips with caramelized onions & herb sour cream dip were delicious! And it being my birthday, I felt the need to celebrate with a little bubbly — the Salish Lodge & Spa Brut Rosé.

Celebrating my birthday with a glass of Salish Lodge Brut Rose

For dinner in The Dining Room, we were seated in a private alcove with the best view of Snoqualmie Falls. I had a nice piece of salmon for my entreé …  along with a little more champs.

Kalaloch Lodge was another colleague recommendation. The food was nothing special, but the view was hard to beat.

View from dining room of Kalaloch Lodge in Olympic National Park

Finally, The Buttered Biscuit. Jason and I went for breakfast on the final day of the trip. There were so many tempting options on the extensive menu, and I went with smoked salmon eggs benedict. It was my first eggs benedict experience, and it was incredible!

One of my favorite things about traveling is enjoying the food, and it was on point this trip. I can’t wait to go back, again and again, to explore even more Pacific Northwest eats!

Travel

Birthday in Seattle

For the first time, I celebrated my birthday with a vacation. I don’t think there could have been any better way to ring in my 37th year than with my first ever visit to Seattle!

We had a full agenda for December 11, 2015. We kicked off the day with a trip up the iconic Space Needle.

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As we stood at the base of the landmark, I couldn’t help but remember my dad talking about his one and only visit to Seattle and the Space Needle when he was in the Reserves. My dad never got to travel much, so it was an important memory of his … and an important thing for me to remember on my first trip to the top.

I will say that, in person, the Space Needle is much smaller than I pictured it. But showing growth since my trip up the Eiffel Tower in high school, staring down at my feet so as to avoid looking out the elevator windows, I enjoyed this scenic elevator ride to the top. From the top, we were able to see the Cascades for the first and only time of the trip — otherwise, it was too cloudy to see anything, including Mount Rainier.

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Rainier is out there somewhere …

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After taking in the views from the top of the Space Needle, we headed next door to Chihuly Garden and Glass. I have been familiar with the work of Dale Chihuly since my freshman year at the University of Wisconsin. He’s a UW alumnus, and his work, “The Mendota Wall,” was installed in the then new Kohl Center. I’ve seen his work at the Bellagio in Vegas as well, and I was SO excited to visit his Seattle museum.

It did not disappoint.

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Every installation was incredibly beautiful! If I had to pick a favorite, I loved the Ikebana and Float Boats.

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This short visit confirmed one thing — I really love the West Coast and the Pacific Northwest!

Seattle_SpaceNeedle-Chihuly

Home

Finished Laundry Closet (and Lessons Learned)

Check off another completed home improvement project … for the second time. Jason finished our laundry closet re-do and, with the exception of a little paint touch-up, our laundry room is back in working order.

Laundry Room Remodel

So after completing this project four years ago only to have to re-do it now, you’d hope we learned some valuable lessons. We did, and here they are:

Don’t Buy a Front-Loading Washer/Dryer

Just kidding! While I don’t exactly love front-loading machines, I know why we bought them. At the time, we assumed that, given our space constraints, we had no choice but to stack our washer/dryer. In reality, we had more than enough room to have our washer and dryer sit side by side.

And now, I wouldn’t have my beautiful counter over top of them if they weren’t front loading – silver lining!

Laundry Room Remodel

Lesson: A stacked washer and dryer will move around. It’s nearly impossible to correct. We didn’t do enough homework on our end when we bought the machines.

Trust Your Instincts

Maybe it’s the wisdom that comes with old age, but I am learning to trust my first instinct. If I look through the laundry room images I’ve pinned on Pinterest, I see a bunch of side-by-side front-loading machines with lovely counters spanning the space above them.

Lesson: When it comes to making your home a place you love – and this includes all the spaces in your home, big and small – trust your instincts. If I had noticed the pattern of what I was drawn to, I could have saved Jason the trouble of gutting an already finished space in order to finish it all over again.

 

The frustration of having to re-do a home improvement project and the chaos in the midst of it pale in comparison to the love I feel for my amazing new laundry space.

Who ever thought I’d use “love” and “laundry” in the same sentence? Anything is possible, my friends!

What to Look for When Choosing a Campsite
Camping

What to Look for When Choosing a Campsite

Whenever Jason and I visit a new campground, we always take the time to scope out the “best” campsites on the property. I carry my handy camping journal to jot down notes about each campground, the site we’re staying at, and possible sites to reserve for future trips.

What do we look for when choosing a campsite? Here are three of our top criteria:

Seclusion

When we go camping, we want to 1) feel like we’re deep in the woods and 2) camp without the obvious presence of strangers. We look for campsites that are wooded and that are concealed from the campsites around it. When you go camping for relaxation, the more secluded the site the better.

Choosing Campsite Seclusion

Another benefit of seclusion: Our dogs have fewer things to bark at. Neither Bailey or Naya are big barkers, but when something gets them going, it’s hard to stop them. When we can’t easily see other people or dogs walking past our campsite, it makes for a much more pleasant experience for all involved.

Proximity to Facilities

With a camper now, this is a little less of an issue, but we’ve always preferred campsites that are close to a bath/shower house. The last thing I want to do is walk halfway across the campground in the middle of the night just to go to the bathroom.

Our camper has a wet bath, so the whole bathroom is the shower with a toilet in the middle. It’s a tight squeeze and while I might be able to shower in it, Jason will not. We’ll still look to be close to a bath house for showering.

Layout

The layout of a campsite is an overlooked, but very important quality. Where is everything – from the tent pad to fire ring – situated?

Our favorite campsite in Door County’s Peninsula State Park has the perfect layout. The tent pad sits at one end of the site, the fire ring sits at the other end, and there’s just enough space to put up a screen room in between. And while there is room for these three living spaces, it’s not so large a site that you feel too spread out. It fits everything you need within the perfect amount of space.

Choosing Campsite Layout

Compare this to our site at Ottawa Lake in the Kettle Moraine State Forest. It was a huge site (bonus?), but everything was really spread out. Our camper was parked in the driveway (at the end of which was the tent pad), but the fire ring seemed like it was in it’s own campsite. I know I don’t want the fire ring right next to our flammable tent or camper canopy, but I also don’t want to feel like our little family of four is camping on two separate sites.

Choosing Campsite Layout

Helloooo camper!

Feeling at home while camping is part of the fun, and certain things about a campsite can make or break a trip. We’ve been lucky to love most of the campsites we’ve stayed at. I can’t wait to see where our home away from home will take us next!

Question for You: What do you look for in a campsite?

Camping

Inaugural Camper Trip, Part 2

Back in October, Jason and I took our new camper out for it’s maiden voyage. For two nights, we camped with the dogs at Ottawa Lake campground in the Kettle Moraine State Forest.

We slept pretty well that first night. While we had previously determined that Naya would not sleep in our bed with us, this “rule” lasted all of 10 minutes. We managed to make it work, but we’ll have to enforce the “no dogs sleeping with us” rule on future trips…

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We woke up that first morning to the sound of rain on the roof. Even though it was rainy and cold outside, we stayed cozy and warm inside.

Have I mentioned before that this camper is the best thing ever!

While Jason made breakfast, I made tea and turned on NPR. We never listen to NPR, but I found it incredibly relaxing that morning. Breakfast, tea, reading, journaling, NPR. This first morning reminded me of what I love about camping – It leaves me more relaxed than anything since my childhood.

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It rained until about noon. After lunch with a side of chess, we cleaned up and headed out for a walk.

Ottawa Lake Recreation Area is pretty small, but it does have two short, parallel trails – one for pets and one no pets. We walked the pets-allowed trail through an open prairie over to the pet swim area.

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After scoping out the “beach,” we walked the trail back to the campground and then walked the campground loop. Whenever we visit a new campground, we like to scope out the “best” sites. I think we found a good one for our next trip to Ottawa Lake.

By the time we got back to the camper, the sun finally started breaking through the clouds. We got a fire started, set up our chairs and a blanket for the dogs, made some hot chocolate, and relaxed outside. It turned into a gorgeous evening!

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Because we’re in our 30s going on 70, we ate dinner around 4:30pm. We made these Three-Cheese Potatoes and beef tenderloin steaks over the fire. Seriously, it might have been the best camp dinner we’ve ever made.

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Dinner was followed by s’mores of course! We mixed it up with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (awesome!) and Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Creme bars (sounds better than it was).

All in all, our first camper trip was a great success! We came home with a much better list of things we need and ideas for future campsite set ups. We winterized the camper and she’s spending the snowy season in a friend’s outbuilding.

We can’t wait for a year full of trips in 2015!