Cama Bay Camping

Summer.  Camping.  Time away from the pressures of home.  No television or cell phones.  Real quality family time.  S’mores, camp fires, nature in abundance…  Really, what’s not to love?


Well, I will admit I am a reluctant camper. More specifically, I love camping in my mind’s eye, in theory, and in the planning stage. And, to be fair, it does always end up being fun.  The awkward stage for me happens somewhere between setting the plan and the time when I relax enough to realize we are all going to be covered in dirt and that is totally okay. Can you relate?


Recently, we had an experience that far exceeded my expectations of camping. The spot is a well-kept secret that I feel so excited to have discovered. I even debated a bit about sharing it with you…

We went to Cama Bay State Park on Camano Island and I am hooked!

I want to go back every year. I want to call now to reserve our next ten years of camping trips (not allowed, unfortunately). This in and of itself is different for me. Usually camping is fun, but I am not ready to sign up for more camping immediately upon our return to civilization. (Let me be clear that at this point, the camping we are doing as a family of five with children under the age of six is definitely “car camping”.) We do not pack lightly enough to attempt anything more adventurous than this. But, even with all this in mind, Cama Bay hits a very sweet spot!

First off, Camano Island is a 90-minute drive from Seattle – no ferry schedule required. Once you have arrived, there is a shuttle service that brings you and your stuff down to the waterfront (for us this meant multiple Rubbermaid totes, copious amounts of bedding in Ikea blue bags, large cooler of food, friend’s paddle board, etc… ). There are no cars allowed at the campsite. This is a wonderful feature once you have gotten settled.  Camping occurs in small rustic cabins that were built as a 1930s-era Puget Sound fishing resort. There are amenities such as electricity and running water, but no heat.  The website describes Cama Bay as a “time capsule” experience and I can’t think of a more apt description. The location is absolutely lovely and feels relatively untouched by time. We felt so far away, not only in location, but in time.


Our cabin was right at the edge of the beach, which made this event feel even more like a vacation (clearly not how I would typically describe camping). Once settled, there was also very little schlepping. This definitely added to our overall feeling of relaxation. The kids spent the entire weekend in their swimsuits, exploring the beach. We discovered shells and wishing rocks aplenty.  We created our own play structures with driftwood.  We tested our comfort zones with a caterpillar colony.  Because of the beach, it wasn’t even that dirty! There were loads of families present and it truly felt more like “summer camp” than “camping”.

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We had an amazing weekend at Cama Bay. The weather was spectacular. The company was fantastic. The memories are forever. And I’ll be calling in 3 months to book our time for next year. I encourage you to do the same.

Happy exploring!

Frog Legs Birthday

We are having glorious weather in the Pacific Northwest and you can thank me because all it took was planning Duncan’s 4th birthday party inside to encourage those rays of sun to shine, shine, shine… Like bringing an umbrella on a walk, so too, does planning an indoor birthday party encourage the fickle Seattle sun to appear! (Click here for last year’s party: Rain Rain Go Away)


Frog Legs is a hidden gem!  It is a kids culinary school, located in the Mount Baker neighborhood of Seattle, and is run by the beautiful and talented Mrs. Frog Legs, Laura Vida.  She is a picture of calm, as children bustle into her home to spend a few hours learning the particulars of measuring, stirring, and most of all having fun!  Every time I see Laura in action, I am impressed by her positive demeanor and her amazing memory for all the children’s names.  My kiddos have attended fabulous week-long summer day camps at Frog Legs in the past, which made it a natural choice for Duncan’s 4th birthday party location.  (Well, and the fact that we could be inside if it was pouring down rain.)


Mrs. Frog Legs made it a very special day for Duncan.  Very Berry Smoothies, Create Your Own Pizzas, and Confetti Cupcakes were on the menu for the day.  The kids had a blast cooking, listening to some fun stories, as well as playing outside in the lovely yard.  I do enjoy planning a party, so I had to let go of that a bit by having our party at Frog Legs, but Laura’s attention to detail and decoration made me feel that I was in my own home, only better – since no clean up was required!  And I mean really, look at those cupcakes… pretty much every kid’s dream!!  Marshmallows, and gummies, and chocolate chips – OH MY!!

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Mrs. Frog Legs wrapped up the event with Duncan giving each of his birthday friends a recipe book of the day’s treats, a wooden spoon, and a homemade frosted cookie.  What fun!

Every so often, I believe it is the perfect choice to make things easier on ourselves, versus harder and more complicated.  This was one of those choices for me.  Duncan had a lovely day and so did I.  I was so relaxed, I think we might have even gotten a photo of our whole family!!  Something I definitely would have forgotten if I had been hosting this party!!

Thank you, Frog Legs, for making Duncan’s birthday feel super special!


If you live in the Seattle area and are looking for a fun activity for your children this summer, check out the Frog Leg camps – your kids will love it!  And, as Mrs. Frog Legs says, “Hoppy Cooking!”

Serious Kale

I have been obsessed with kale salad for two weeks now.  I recently went to dinner at Serious Pie in Seattle.  If you are not familiar, this is one of Tom Douglas’ restaurants.  Tom Douglas is a Seattle restauranteur, famous for his delicious crab cakes and many successful restaurants.  At Serious Pie, he has re-imagined pizza for the better.  The crust is super thin and topped with delicious items that although delicious, sometimes require a bit of navigational help from one’s server.  My favorite pizza on the menu is the traditional buffalo mozzarella, tomato and basil; showcasing the beautiful technique and high quality ingredients used at this establishment.  We often order this simple beauty along with a more exotic pie, think seasonal mushroom and truffle cheese or sweet fennel sausage.  The pizza is phenomenal, but leaving the restaurant on this particular night, I was still thinking about kale.

We had decided to try Serious Pie’s second location, Serious Pie Westlake.  I prefer this location to the original, it seems to have a bit more seating and there was no wait at all!  We ordered our food, planning to share.  The kale salad arrived I had to hold myself back from gobbling down the whole dish.  A second plate was quickly requested from our server.  Not only did it taste fresh and lemony, but the texture was nicely soft.

I have been riding on the kale bandwagon since last summer.  My husband literally rolled his eyes when I start whipping up yet another kale salad.  Usually they involve everything but the kitchen sink, but not this one.  This salad’s beauty is in its restraint.  I had to try to recreate it.

Serious Kale  

(inspired by the kale at Serious Pie), serves 4

1 bunch lacinato (or Tuscan) kale
1 1/2 oz Garlic Olive Oil
juice of 1 lemon (about 2 oz)
1/3 cup finely grated parmesan (I prefer pecorino), reserve a bit for a garnish
pinch of sea salt (to taste)
1/3 cup pine nuts
finely sliced calabrian chilies  (used at Serious Pie, but omitted this time around in hopes that my kids might try it)

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 Wash and cut out ribs of kale.  Dispose of ribs.  Roughly chop greens.  Massage chopped kale with olive oil, lemon juice, parmesan and salt (I find this part nicely therapeutic).  Let rest 30-45 minutes.  This step is important.  By allowing the kale to marinate and rest, the texture softens dramatically.  Add pine nuts and salt to taste.  Garnish with additional parmesan.  Serve.  Enter culinary nirvana…
So this is my second attempt at trying to get this recipe just right.  Last week I tried it and amazingly, three of the four of us who enjoyed dinner together were all attempting it on the same night!  Seriously, Serious Pie???  We had not spoken since having dinner the week before.  Clearly I was not the only one dreaming of kale… 

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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