There is a man in my life that deserves some thanks.

Every morning my kids make a bit of a stink about getting ready for school and then an even bigger stink about getting in the car. What is it about transitions that are so universally difficult? I remember back to when my first son was around two or three years old and we realized that “getting out the door” was one of the great hurdles of parenthood. Well, I take that back… at birth there is a realization that you cannot just walk out the door like a normal person anymore. There is process, procedure and packing to contend with upon every departure. But, once toddlerhood arrives, not only are you packing snacks and making sure the diaper bag is stocked, you are also dealing with a little person that has his or her own ideas of how the day should go. Most likely, you are screwing up their plans.

So, when “getting out the door” becomes enough to make you not want to leave the house, it is time to come up with a new strategy. Usually this involves distraction. The distraction I am currently employing with abandon is helped by this man I mentioned. My husband is wonderful, but this is not the man I speak of. Right now, the favorite “other man” in our house is someone named Chris Ballew. It is true, we don’t even know him, and yet this morning he made “getting out the door” to go to school a dream.


Chris Ballew is a member of the alternative band The Presidents of the United States of America, but he has an alias (which makes him even more popular in my house). He is Caspar Babypants and he is awesome. Since 2009, Chris (or Caspar) has been singing children’s songs that are palatable to adults. There are other great groups who achieve this, but he is the first I learned of and my favorite. Caspar Babypants has released at least six albums and if you don’t know about him yet (and are a parent, an aunt, a grandparent or friend of a child), you need to! One of the things I love about his children’s music project is that he makes his performances very accessible to children around Seattle and many are free to the public. We have gotten to see him perform a few times and my kids go crazy. He is so creative and enthusiastic – it is contagious. Another cool thing about Caspar Babypants is that it is a family run business. His wife, Kate, does all the artwork on the album covers!

So, without further ado… Thanks, Chris, for making my mornings a little easier!

One more thing, if you see us rocking out on the way to school, it is probably to this song:

Youtube links:

Baby’s Getting Up

or maybe this one…

Run Baby Run

Happy Listening!

 Newest Album:

6 I FOUND YOU! cover art

Here I Am! This Is Fun! More Please! Hot Dog! Sing Along!

The Allure of Local

Gus and I have a long-standing joke about a little something that makes me tick.  On a trip to Whidbey Island, early in our relationship, we stopped at a coffee shop in the town of Langley.   Our reason for stopping was that we were out of coffee beans.  As the barista listed off the various roast options to purchase, he threw in a final choice with the line that it was “roasted last night.”  My eyes lit up and obviously that is the one we took home.  My husband found this hilarious, because I didn’t even pay attention to the roast (or the price).  The idea being that if it was roasted last night, it must be better!  I was charmed and an easy sell for the barista’s (possibly) stock line.  Ever since then, and especially if we are on vacation, we relish those “roasted last night” moments.  To me, they are the kind of local flavor that makes a purchase different from my usual grocery store experience – it gives the item a story and makes it memorable.  To my husband, it is an opportunity to spend a few extra dollars for the same coffee beans, but he does appreciate that it makes his wife happy.  These moments make my day and they make my husband laugh.

We are on the Olympic Peninsula again this weekend and feel that fall is truly in the air.  The leaves are just beginning to drop and I am starting to crave foods like root vegetables, butternut squash, and apple anything.   As part of our trip we visited the renowned Port Townsend Farmer’s Market and enjoyed some local delicacies and street music.  The Pane D’Amore cheesy breadsticks are my personal favorite.

While in Port Townsend we also stopped off at Conservatory Coastal Home and were lucky enough to meet the store owners, Heather and Sam Pollock, and their handsome family.  Once again, I was entranced by this unique store.  It has been rearranged and looks fresh and inviting with lots of new items, including a large turquoise chandelier… (still wondering if I can come up with a place for this in my home?!?!)  I had to be dragged away with only a signature candle to take the place of their Heirloom Tomato candle that we were given a year plus ago.  As sad as I am that the Heirloom Tomato is finnito, the new one sports Conservatory’s new label and is Fig-scented.  I was reminded by Heather that all the candles are soy and made within the store, a detail I’m sure you understand that I’m quite keen on.  The kids also loved their new take-away gift of a few small sand dollars, you’ll remember we were originally wooed by small goldfish toys.  Such a lovely spot!


Next stop, Finnriver Farm & Cidery.  If you didn’t know, there is a spirited cider revival going on.  This cider is not the cider you remember drinking in high school.  This new style of cider tends to be a bit less sweet and drinks more like a beer.  There is enormous variety in the styles and it is taking on an artisan element.  Finnriver boasts a tasting room, as well as a cool little farm.  Let me say that if our kids could live on a farm versus the city, I believe they would – at least for a day.  We took a walk around the farm, visiting pigs, ducks, chickens, a dog and a cat.  The family enjoyed touching the dirt and feeling a connection to the land and animals.  I loved seeing all the apples waiting to become the next round of cider and all the neat cider-making gear.  The cider tasting room was staffed with a friendly attendant, whose family was out helping on the farm.  It was a family-friendly stop that I would highly recommend.  If you are in the area, check ahead of time, as they occasionally do u-pick days for their berries and other organic produce.  We’ll try for that next time.  We are now the proud owners of Finnriver’s Dry Hopped Cider and Sparkling Pear Cider that will allow us raise a toast to the new season… and maybe, just maybe, it was bottled last week!  Until next time, here’s a taste of some fall color.


Dining alfresco is perhaps one of my favorite things in life.  It is also one of the best things about summer.  Lately, I have been thinking about what makes summer feel like summer and for me, summer is when my family and I eat most of our meals outside…

Living in a city that has a reputation for being grey much of the year, I notice that many of us who choose to stay here become a little weather obsessed.  We wait patiently (and sometimes not so patiently) for blessed summer to arrive and then when it does there is a frenzy of activity.  It can be difficult to even see our very good friends.  Maybe this is everywhere, I’m not sure.  I just know that summer here feels like perfection when it arrives and I cannot get enough.  This makes me think of the mouse in one of my favorite books from childhood, Frederick, by Leo Lionni.  “I gather sun rays for the cold dark winter days.”  “I gather colors, answered Frederick simply.  For the winter is gray.”  Maybe we are all like Frederick, gathering in the beauty of the outdoors to sustain us during the indoor months.

My patio is my favorite spot to enjoy the season (especially with three kids), but on days when I don’t feel like cooking, here are some other choice outdoor dining spots around town.  Some are fancy, some are not.  Some are kid-friendly, some are not.  But we have had fantastic alfresco meals at each of them.

Something that might set Seattle alfresco dining apart from other locales is that some restaurants take our weather into account, adding elements such as roofs, outdoor heaters, and blankets to patio situations, making them a little more accessible.  My husband and I moved to Seattle nine years ago from San Francisco.  That year, Gus gave me an outdoor heater for my birthday.  I was thrilled.  This may seem like a random, unromantic gift, but at the time it showed me that he knew me and what makes me tick.  Receiving an outdoor heater at the end of August is like being given a jar of sunshine to help make the season last a little bit longer.  Eight years later, that little heater bit the dust.  So this year Gus and I gave each other outdoor heaters for our anniversary.  Maybe this is proof of what makes both of us tick.  Here’s to another decade of alfresco living… Cheers!


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Conservatory Coastal Home is a new store in Port Townsend, WA.  The little town of Port Townsend has many wonderful stores and cool treasures to discover and we have been enjoying getting to know all that is there, as a home-away-from-home in the last few years.  But, Conservatory is a store of a different caliber.  They absolutely had me at “hello.”

First, let me say that I try very hard not to shop with my children.  I do lots online (thank you, Amazon) and other than that, I try to enlist sitters when I really have to get out there and hit the stores.  But, as we were doing a little vacationing last week and wandering Water Street, Port Townsend’s eclectic main drag, I could not stop from going into this lovely, light-filled space.  As our entourage (stroller, grandmother, dad, kids spilling out from all sides) entered the store, I did not see the expected look of fear pass over the shop gal’s face, but rather, she calmly pulled something small from under the counter and smiled at my children… what???  My older stepped up to the counter to say “hello” and see what it was.  This fabulous new store actually gave my children a little gift to hold in their hands as we browsed the store – what a wonderful idea!  (You may or may not know that I am a total sucker for packaging, so this also spoke to me.  A sweet little muslin bag, sporting the “conservatory” name, holding two little adorable goldfish.)

The fact that I wanted to move into this store upon first look, may or may not have something to do with the fact that it is the beginning of summer and I am loving the idea of all things “beach.” Regardless, the style is impeccable.  It is a wonderfully edited selection of coastal type things that could live anywhere.  An eclectic combination of rustic vintage and stylish modern pieces.  There were some cool leather chairs that I am still thinking about, as well as gorgeous lamps and other one-of-a-kind objects.  As I walked through the store, my mom actually said to me, “If you were to open a store, I think it would look like this.”  I couldn’t agree more.  As I already mentioned, I would just happily move right in, if they would have me.  There is fabulous old brick making up at least one of the store’s walls.  Interestingly, the store is located in the N.D. Hill Building, which was built in 1888 and is on the National Register of Historic Places!





Upon looking into this business since returning to Seattle, I have learned that the store was opened by a husband and wife team, Sam and Heather Pollock.  This pair has had a very successful farmer’s market soy candle business since 2007.  Their candles are absolutely sumptuous and sport very intriguing  scents.  We actually have been enjoying an “heirloom tomato” variety at our house for the past few months that I randomly picked up some time ago.

If you find yourself thinking about a trip out to the Olympic Peninsula and you make your way to Port Townsend, this store is a definite “must” on the list of stops to make!  I am happy to report that we did not break one single thing in the store and I believe we will be happily invited in again the next time we make our way over to Port Townsend.  Thank goodness for those sweet little goldfish!

Conservatory Coastal Home is located at: 635 Water Street, Port Townsend 98368

Here is a link to their facebook page:

A Space

Today is Father’s Day and I am so thankful for my husband.

Each year on Father’s Day we typically plan to treat him royally, but inevitably today (and Mother’s Day for that matter) has been filled with an extra bout of tantrums, sick kids, and unexpected hiccups that make me feel that he is not quite getting his due.  Yes, we made him coffee and brought it to him in an awesome new mug, and yes, we gave him loads of cards that were made at preschool and squirreled away until today and yes, we love him very, very much.  Alas a house with three kids under five a relaxing house does not make, even on Father’s Day.

So since he isn’t getting props from the kids today, he will get some from his wife.  I am so, so thankful to have you as a partner.  We do things that I wouldn’t even imagine tackling without you by my side (walk around Green Lake with two children under five years on bikes, another one in the stroller and a dog just to kick things up a bit… anyone, anyone?)  Your confidence to try anything and everything amazes me and gives me the feeling that I want to be brave too.  I hope that we have the rest of our lives to be brave together!  And yes, in 2029 I will go anywhere in the world with you…

I mentioned in my first post that my husband worked very hard helping me to envision and then create a space just for me within this busy and chaotic house we are running.  It was something that was difficult for me to wrap my brain around and I wouldn’t have done it, if it hadn’t been for his relentless prodding and encouragement.  Now I have the mental and physical space to let my imagination run.  To take the line from Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come.”  Similarly, it appears that he built it and the ideas are coming!  What an amazing concept.  So, on this day, I would like to share some pictures with you of My Space.  It is not perfect – whatever that means.  It is still being fine-tuned – and probably will be forever.  It is teeny tiny, but it is mine.  This is what it looks like today and I am so happy to have it.

Thank you, Gus.

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