everyone has a story

It’s a rare event to come across the delightful aroma of ground coffee beans as you hear coffee cups tapping against their plates and the rhythmic hum of chitchat lingering from a coffee shop. Especially in Seattle.

So when that coffee shop is tucked in the corner, seated high above the biggest market downtown, you start to think there is more to this place than the coffee alone.

If you live in a mile radius of Pike Place Market, you also know this coffee shop has spent a lot of money on marketing alone. Receiving their beautiful booklet in the mail felt like an event. Despite the little text it contained (they have an excellent designer), I did know I was invited to taste the premier new coffee, only to Seattle. Promptly I made my reservation.

Pretentious, a bit. But c’mon, you know you kind of like it. I mean really why would anyone want to make a reservation to a coffee shop? Well, when everything - yes everything - on their menu is free, they need to plan accordingly.  

I apologize for this tardy announcement, as there are only 8 more days to take them up on their offer. Until October 1st, enjoy amazing coffee and in-house baked goods (GF options available), on them. No need to make a reservation come October, but you’ll also have to pay.

Email invited@storyville.com to reserve your spot at this novel destination. Take advantage of the space created to explore conversations; sit, relax, and sip slowly in this aesthetically pleasing, beyond comfortable space. I highly suggest the 3-5pm slot for the afternoon light that magically streams through the windows and basks the plush leather couches with a golden glow.

 

Welcome to Seattle Storyville.

 

until we meet again

As the crisp fall air settles in like the recent fog in Seattle, I reflect on the warmer days of summer. Weather wise, this past summer was the best I’ve experienced in my 14 years here. Family wise, it was as monumental with the arrival of our little Samantha, during a heat wave nonetheless. Post partum or not, summer was a rapid blur.

Regardless, there was much to be thankful for:

  • A healthy baby girl
  • A wealth of support from family and friends
  • Nothing says summer as much as berries and stone fruit. More on that later.
  • Warm, happy sun and lots of it
  • Ice cream (our favorite spots are Lick, Bottega Gelato, $2 Tuesdays at Cupcake Royale, and Molly Moons)
  • Monday night suppers with friends, old and new 

As for the berries - sweet delicious berries - Cmonkey and I tried our hand at strawberry picking for the first time early in the summer. While the company was stellar, I have to say blueberry picking is more my style.  With that being said, there was an abundance of time spent in blueberry fields with friends and family. My ladies and I frequented Bybee Farms, collecting multiple pounds of berries that were devoured faster than a hungry T-Rex on the prowl.

At the base of Mt Si - a mere 40ish minute drive from Seattle - Bybee is our usual stomping grounds. However, with an early season and therefore an early close to the season, we were forced to find a new grove to consume. We headed north and gave Bow Hill Blueberries a try. We were more than happy to stumble upon them. Despite the much longer drive (with screaming newborn in tow), our day in Bow was one for the records. After nearly two hours picking plump handfuls of berries with the in-laws, husband and two daughters we were hungry for something other than berries. Directed to the “best restaurant in Washington State,” we drove six minutes to Tweets in Edison. I can’t say a bad thing about Tweets. In fact Tweets might be the highlight of the summer, after giving birth of course! The portions were beyond generous, the menu was incredibly delightful and the employees were unabashedly raw with their opinions about overly anxious, annoying customers, all the while doling out toys and smiles to the kids. It was downright amazing.

Edison, with her biker gangs, specialty shops and the boys from Bow Hill farms pitched up in their blueberry stand, completed the picture of the All American one street town and a quintessential summer day. 

I had the Dolce Vita Tacos. And yes, I ate them all!

Why yes, I will have another

Why has it taken me so long to write about this gem of a coffee shop and bakery? Please don’t wait a minute longer to find yourself seated in a stool, eye to eye with their array of delectable treats.

Dangerously located directly across the street from my house, Coffee & A Specialty Bakery is just that – special. Don’t be fooled by the “Coffee” looming in their name, indulge yourself in any - yes, really any - of their baked goods (or sandwiches, or soups, or quiche) and you will not be disappointed. Tonyia Smith, owner and Executive Pastry chef, finds comfort in varying the menu seasonally and trying new recipes nearly daily. This week I finally tried her Tsunami Quiche. Loaded with, you guessed it, a tsunami of veggies and eggs atop of a potato crust was mouthwatering filling. However, I’d have to say my absolute favorite is her Myer Lemon Bundt Cake. Thankfully she doesn’t make them everyday.

Charlotte on the other hand could vouch for Tonyia’s signature Madeleine cookies. Now that she’s a tad bit older, Charlotte knows the bakery routine. She confidently walks right in and over to a stool, eagerly looks up as I put her on it and waits, not so patiently, for her Madeleine and almond milk. However, her loyalty was tested the other day when we stopped in to say hello and Dedrick – Tonyia’s right hand man, and Barista Manager - offered her a treat. Lo and behold the Madeleines were sold out and he handed her a brownie bite.  Since it wasn’t her usual treat, she innocently uttered, “What’s this?” as she briefly hesitated before chowing down. When every last morsel was devoured she signed and begged, rather loudly, for more. I can’t deny this girl is developing her sweet tooth but who in the world taught her these manners? Tonyia and Dedrick are worse than grandparents and gave into her pleas for more!

Honestly though, this is what puts the special in Coffee & A Specialty Bakery, the hospitality. Tonyia and Dedrick, along with family members, keep this little shop toasty warm with their smiles and love. Whether waves are exchanged as folks walk by heading for the elevator or bellies are made happy over a cup of espresso, no one ever walks away feeling unloved. Truly a community coffee shop in every essence, I’m more than happy to participate in Tonyia’s passion for food.

And shh, everything is gluten free!

MY NOT SO PALEO DAY

You can’t go on a road trip without experiencing the food of each destination along the way. No offense but the ease of pulling a mere five feet off the highway for fast food will not suffice.  Yelp it, Google it or dare to be bold and ask a local their favorite spot in town.  I promise you, you and your belly will be much happier.

Since San Diego, I kept hearing about acai berry bowls. What is this concoction, I wonder? I don’t understand this obsession and I’m perplexed this craze is not in the nutty allergy sensitive, health freak city of Seattle. Or perhaps it is….

Foregoing my usual protein laden breakfast, I began my day in Santa Barbara with an acai  Island bowl at Backyard Bowls. This somewhat hearty meal is not yogurt based but a smoothie (blended acai and berries, or even spinach), topped with granola and fruit. As an acai berry bowl virgin, I kept my bowl fairly basic but I have to admit, it was filling and delicious. Sadly, I’m sure these bowls are more sugar than the antioxidants they boast. However, as of right now, I endorse these tasty concoctions. I quite possibly see a new dessert in my future!

 

For lunch, I found myself in San Luis Obispo. With some help from yelp and a few rerouting loops from my google maps, I found Sally Loo’s Wholesome Café in this fun academic town of SLO.

Craving protein, I opted for the sunshine chicken sandwich. Beautiful hefty chunks of chicken and avocado, verdant greens and smoky, crispy bacon stacked high on a ciabatta. Me, not being a sauce kind of girl was a little worried about the garlic aioli, but I was delightfully surprised. Shockingly I even wanted more as it reminded me of something my grandma would make. Simply amazing!

To add to my lunchtime experience, the people watching was top notch.  Nearly every table at the café was taken.  Honestly, I think a case study should be performed at Sally Loo’s on how to occupy nearly every square inch of your café with such a diverse crowd. Students studying eagerly downing coffee, lululemon clad girlfriends conversing over an acai bowl, 30-somethings such as myself hiding behind their laptops, a solo bearded grandpa with his cup of joe and book, the married couple playing hooky, the stay at home mom club, the bible study, the middle aged woman eating her salad. This eclectic population is vibrant, bustling and rather encouraging. In a Zooey Deschanel sort of way, I want to hug everyone, thanking them for making my lunch – and people watching – intriguing.

Being the architecture geek that I am, I also have to comment on the physical place. The blend of aluminum, steel, brick and glass - along with the art lined, light aqua walls straight out of a Victorian home - is tastefully designed to be indie rock modern. Yes, I made that up but Sally Loo’s is exactly that and quite charming.

Unfortunately the clock is ticking and I need surrender my cozy view to get back on the road. My baby belly is full and oh so happy, yet I want to try a drink. At no additional cost I can even add almond milk; or raw milk for $1! It only seems warranted to fully review quaint Sally Loo’s.

 

…..so yes, their homemade chai is delicious. Spicy just how I like it. Let’s hope a food coma doesn’t ensue because this ready to burst lady is getting back on the road. Thanks for the tasty break SLO, hope to see you soon.

slippery slope of vacationing

I’m an advocate that while vacation should be an escape from the mundane routine of work, emails and ridiculous schedules; it should not be an excuse to partake in gluttony and lethargy. I admit it’s not easy to maintain consistent physical activity and a diet abundant in green, leafy vegetables and protein when vacationing, especially when you have to attend two birthday parties.

I started our nine-day trip down to CA to see family – which let me be clear is NOT a vacation – strong. I was determined to steer away from the usual suspects: sugar, grains, and dairy. A little bit of corn and a greek yogurt later, I was adamant that would be the extent of my “cheating.” Activity levels were low but tolerable. Then there was the “paleo” cake I had to make; then I missed a day of working out; then there were multiple trips eating out; an amazing farmer’s market with macaroons; stress; birthday party #2 with box cake and frosting. I was defeated. How? Why?

I could blame all sorts of things. But the bottom line is, I know I feel better, love better, and look better when I eat well, sleep, and move my body. It’s ironic that just two weeks ago Jordan and I appeared on New Day Northwest about working out and making health(ier) decisions when on vacation. Check it out.

So, I will pick myself up tomorrow and start over. It’s never too late. What will you do?

Here I am early on in the trip making the most of what I had accessible - a park! 

i see the light

Marking the first day of summer, I have to admit Seattle, you did well. If you didn’t get a chance to enjoy it, trust me, it’s safe to unearth yourself from the pile of blankets and dust you’ve been hibernating under since October. Promise me you’ll get outside to enjoy the natural beauty only Seattle can offer these summer months.

Seattle Met did the work for me and highlighted some of the great parks in our mighty fine (when the sun is shining) city. Be sure to check out their park round-up here and get inspired to hit the trail and soak up some Vitamin D. 

Scared of lifting heavy things or even looking at people who do? Hopefully this video will dispel any fear you may have toward getting fit/CrossFit. Everyone is welcome and capable of joining our community at our new and beautiful location in downtown Seattle.

I hope you enjoy the Husbanido and I sharing our first - ever - successful moment, not only on TV, but also working as husband and wife. 

Many thanks to everyone who made it possible: King5, New Day Northwest, Stacey and Michelle. 

Are you a Citizen?

Citizen

It dawned on me last night as I was sipping my Honey Almond Milk Latte - June’s drink of the month - that I have sorely left you out of my new favorite coffee shop, Citizen.  Once a week my girls and I gather and close down this little gem on the base of Queen Anne. I’m not sure if there is one thing I could say is my favorite thing about Citizen; between the selection of music (80’s hip hop one night to Bollywood the next), the plentiful and delicious helpings or the closing smells of bacon, it’s all a heaping ball of goodness.

Ok, ok, to be honest, I usually only order a decaf Americano and I’ve only had one entree, BUT the ambiance, the friendly baristas and the finger lickin’ recommendations (try the B.L.A.T) from friends are enough to keep me coming back.

Next time you’re in the mood for a breakfast sandwich at 8pm (breakfast served all day) or a bursting crepe, visit Citizen. On a nondescript part of Taylor Ave by QFC, Hampton Inn & Suites and the Plaid Pantry, step on in to your new best friend.

unraveling my to-do list

On any given piece of paper in our home, be it a piece of mail, paper bag my peach came in, or a post-it note, it is sure to have a scribble or two of the things I would like to accomplish in my day. Nearly every day this list looks the same. Nearly every day only two items are crossed off.

As of late, two words have been haunting me: BIRTHDAY PARTY. It’s unbelievable, I know, but our little lady is turning one in less than a month. Without having someone as excited as I am for the grand event, I’m lacking a sounding board. Even her father thinks I’m ridiculous for wanting an elaborate two-hour soiree. So needless to say I’m quietly bursting inside wondering where to begin, eager to plan the big day. However, the reality is that I’m completely unmotivated and guilt-laden. 

While I still need to pull out some fabulous ninja mom skills and start cracking, stumbling upon this read has helped to put things in perspective. And while I’m at it, I’m so thankful for this reminder.

Rice, bleh! Meat, veggies, fruit, and a little bit of quinoa for me.
Here I am, having fun with a carrot. Don’t be jealous parents, I just finished a few heads of broccoli as well. 
Do you have yourself a paleo babe?  What snacks do you take for when you’re on the go and don’t want food to spoil?

Rice, bleh! Meat, veggies, fruit, and a little bit of quinoa for me.

Here I am, having fun with a carrot. Don’t be jealous parents, I just finished a few heads of broccoli as well. 

Do you have yourself a paleo babe?  What snacks do you take for when you’re on the go and don’t want food to spoil?

I wish I could be this humorous about it but I’m not there yet, not today…

In nine short months I’ve had God inspired revelations, all the while Charlotte is covered head to toe in poop. I’ve certainly attained a new appreciation for my Lord and Savior who daily, patiently and lovingly wipes away my proverbial poop. On the flip side, there have been plenty of times I have even laughed, out loud, at this never ceasing task of keeping a little bum clean.

Lately though, we’ve experienced daily baths because two little hands enjoy helping mama change a diaper. Distractions rarely work. It happens lightning bolt fast - SPLATT - ten fingers covered in poop are grabbing hair, ears, and toes. Tears and a wiggly body typically accompany the sly fingers. Derailed from our plans (all my friends who have endured our tardiness understand) we make a beeline to the bathroom to get squeaky clean.

Today, being more tired than usual, I couldn’t laugh. In my sleep deprived stupor, I wanted things to go smoothly and efficient. I was frustated. How could my babe, who is tired herself (she refuses to sleep for more than 14 minutes), so violently deny my loving act of changing her diaper? All around I felt like a bad mom.

Can anyone relate?

With all that said, I’m going to laugh my way through this website. I hope it brings a smile to your face and a hearty chuckle to you as well.

If you find yourself in Maui…

Jordan knew I was itching to go snorkeling.  After getting a list of trustworthy recommendations around Maui, Jordan decided to book our last outing with Maui Eco Tours. When he told me we would be kayaking and snorkeling for three hours, I was already tired. Don’t get me wrong, I love kayaking and snorkeling but I wondered why we needed a “tour” when I could attach a snorkel to my head, walk out of our hotel door and onto the beach to a coral reef. But I digress; our three-hour outing with Maui Eco Tours was INCREDIBLE and a must for any Maui itinierary.

Ashley and Jordan leisurely paddled in a double while I paddled solo for close to 2 miles near Makena Beach. All was quiet on the ocean front for quite some time, but then it happened. A tall whale spout emerged on the horizon. We quickly paddled in that direction and waited. Whales emerge for air every 15-20; we eagerly counted down the minutes as bottle-nosed dolphins entertained us. And then again, this time closer. Two pods were circling us, showing off their young (who had immature dorsal fins) and waving their tails. One pod majestically swam below our kayaks. I’ve never felt so small.

Blown away by all of the creation I just witnessed, I slowly kayaked back toward the coral reef to snorkel. I wasn’t ready for what awaited me. I slithered out of my kayak to see a large, beautiful turtle burrowing in the sand below as two others drifted by. I watched in awe and then went to explore the coral, where another turtle decided to befriend me. As the current swayed us together, we were within an arms length of one another. I had to resist reaching out and hugging this weathered, beautiful friend. Questions stirred in my mind…who would know if I touched him? It’s not like there are surveillance cameras in the ocean. Would I endanger him? Would he hurt me?  But I restrained myself and within a few minutes he swam deeper than I cared to go. While colorful fish danced in schools around me, I had to take a breather. I had filled my ocean creation quota and was overjoyed. 

p.s. I also recommend hitting up Kihei Cafe before or after your tour for a filling meal