The Farm at Swan’s Trail

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There is something so productive about Fall.  It’s full of firewood chopping, apple harvesting, leaf raking; in short, it’s a time to get shit done.  This is probably the big reason why Fall is my favorite season.  I love the busyness of it, the subtle urgency before winter truly sets in.  And then there’s the pumpkins right? I mean, who doesn’t love pumpkin themed shit? There’s pumpkin lattes, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin air freshener, pumpkin creamer; it seems as if the flavor combos are never-ending.  My sister Sammi is the exception to this pumpkin loving rule, she doesn’t even like pumpkin scones shockingly enough, but I believe she is some sort of freakish anomaly.  I mean..she dips her broccoli in mayo, so maybe she’s not the best judge of taste…just saying.

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Anyway, one of my favorite places to experience Fall in all it’s glory is at The Farm at Swan’s Trail in Snohomish.  It has everything you could ask for in a fall centric farm; wagon rides, endless fields of pumpkins, corn mazes, good food, tractors to sit on for those Instagram worthy shots, and a petting zoo.

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The boys and I happened to go on the busiest day ever, which in hindsight, might not have been the best idea on my part and I apologize again to all those parents who heard the screeches of Huck and thought for a brief moment that I was waterboarding him in the car.

Prior to that epic meltdown though, we had a great time navigating ourselves through the Washington State corn maze, ate some tasty, farm-fresh corn chowder and wandered thru the seemingly endless pumpkin patch searching for the elusive perfect pumpkin.  Miraculously, we found four of them, and had it been up to London and Huck, we would have come home with closer to four thousand of them.  Who knew there were so many perfect pumpkins in just one little patch of earth?

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Once we made it back to our car and after I had finally managed to wrestle Huck into his car seat, we drove away, laden down with pumpkins and smelling like dirt & corn.  The carving would take place later that evening after said toddler had got some much-needed sleep, but for the moment, Fall had been savored, searched for and enjoyed. Memories had been made, at least one of the kids had a good time and no one got lost in the corn maze.  That’s a pretty perfect day in my book.

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The Farm At Swan’s Trail

7301 Rivershore Road

Snohomish, WA 98290

425-334-4124

*Free Parking*

Open Fall Season~ Weekdays open 12-6 and Weekends 10-6

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Grateful

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A few days ago, I forced myself to do something which I rather dislike. Not because the task was unpleasant, which it was in the sense that all things associated with death are, but because I was terrified of that look I would see in my father’s eyes. That look of mortality, of fleeting time, of disbelief, of instant heartache. For a friend of my dad’s had passed away quite unexpectedly and being the good daughter that I am, I bought a bottle of whiskey and drove over the mountain pass to commiserate at his house.

Once I arrived there however, my solidarity faltered as I remembered that summer day, not too many years ago, when I had spontaneously driven over that same mountain pass and up my Dad’s gravel driveway into a memory of sadness and shame. As I pulled up to a stop & jumped carelessly out of my car as only a young girl can do, my Dad lurched forward out of his office and onto the porch in a way which immediately told me something was wrong. At first I thought he was in the throes of a heart attack but as he choked out the words while I rushed towards him, I understood that it was my Uncle Brian who he was talking about, not himself. And in that moment I experienced my first sense of shame, because I was grateful it wasn’t him. Whether it was right or wrong, that emotion was the first thing I remember about my Uncle Brian’s death. As a world wholly new and painfully sharp sprang up around us that day, that day of sudden and young death, my first thoughts were still, at least it wasn’t you Dad. Thank God, it wasn’t you.

And that is why it took me a few hours after driving that mountain pass to finally muster up the courage to go and find my dad.  I stood there, alone, with the bottle of whiskey tucked under my arm, and braced myself.  I knew that same look was coming and that once again, I would feel that guilty sense of gratitude that it wasn’t him. For the thought of a world without my Dad breaks my heart, it’s something that I fear I simply could not bear. So when I look my father in the eyes, his grief makes me sad, sad because his friend was a good man and the world is a little less bright without him, sad because his own mortality is something I cannot stop. Yet he is still here, we still have time, and for that, I am unashamedly grateful.

Mercer Slough Nature Park

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Anyone who has ever driven over I-90 near Mercer Island has probably caught a glimmer of the Mercer Slough far below the tangled ribbons of concrete freeway. As motorized humanity hums above it, the Mercer Slough Nature Park meanders its’ way thru 320 green acres and serenely offers visitors a peaceful escape just mere steps away from the urban hub of Bellevue.  It always amazes me that places like this still exist in the march of constant urbanization, yet some still do and Mercer Slough is one of the better ones.

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With over seven miles of trails and a 2.4 mile long canoe route, the Slough is the largest of Lake Washington’s remaining fresh water wetlands.  There is also an Environmental Education Center that focuses primary on freshwater wetland ecology and which offers classes for both adults and children throughout the year.  On the day that my buddy Jillian and I went, we had the park pretty much to ourselves which was ideal since we had four wild children in tow.  Being a wetland, the trails traverse mostly flat terrain which makes it nice for those wobbling toddler legs and letting them run free without fear of a nearby cliff edge was an added bonus.

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After London and Lucia discovered an abandoned pump house leftover from the park’s bygone agricultural days, I attempted to convince them that we were indeed spending the night inside.  Seeing as they are observant little things, they quickly pointed out all the reasons that just wasn’t true from our lack of proper sleepover material to the two feet of algae covered sludge which carpeted the floor of the building.  I decided then that should I want to trick my children with a lie in the future, I had better bring my A game.

Leaving the floating pump house behind us, we stumbled into the Slough’s picturesque Blueberry Farm.  Established in the 1940’s, the farm is run by Bellevue Parks and provides an inexpensive & tasty place to pick local blueberries.  The children, of course, could not be contained and I am almost certain that they nearly ate their weight in berries.  Jillian and I cautiously looked around for lurking farm police, but none appeared and the kids joyously went on stuffing themselves.  Unbeknownst to us at the time, it turns out that the blueberry farm is actually currently closed due to the nearby sound transit construction, so all our harried, sideways glances were unneeded.

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Feeling buoyed by the fact that, should a natural disaster occur, our children would be excellent foragers, we headed back towards the car with full bellies and late summer tans.  The Mercer Slough had been explored, harvested and enjoyed & since it is so close to all things urban, I could still hit up Whole Foods on our way home.  Does a Seattle summer day get much better than that? I’d be hard pressed to say yes.

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Mercer Slough Nature Park

2102 Bellevue Way SE

Bellevue, WA 98005

425-452-6885

Open everyday 7am-4pm

 

Next Step Archery

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There was a brief time in my childhood where I was obsessed with the Kevin Costner Robinhood movie.  Actually obsessed might be putting it mildly; I literally watched it everyday, even if it was only for five minutes.  Sometimes it took me days to get thru the movie and my poor mother probably rued the day that that VHS ever made it into our house.  My cinematic choices aside, Robinhood was the ultimate badass.  He lived off the land, had a band of loyal friends and stuck it to the Man everyday.  He was the superhero I wanted to be.

His weapon of choice was of course the arrow, a sleek & slender apparatus which brought swift, whistling repercussions to those who crossed him.  Wielding a bow & arrow was sexy, skillful, wild & brave and so I thought; what better way to spice up a date night than with a few potentially lethal weapons and some healthy competition?

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Next Step Archery is the real deal and they take their job of teaching you proper archery skills pretty seriously.  Walking in, I had a bit of a leg up on Edgar due to my long ago camp days where I had rained as archery queen but even so I gained a few pointers on basic posture and bow selection.  Our class lasted about an hour and when we eventually sauntered out, I left with 3 bullseye shots and a new-found sense of gloating; Edgar hadn’t gotten a single bullseye.

 

Puffed up with my date night victory win and feeling like I could survive in the remote Alaskan wilderness with only my trusty bow by my side; we vowed to sign up for more lessons and perfect our ass-kicking skills.  After all, it’s not everyday one gets to relieve a childhood fantasy and knock a husband’s ego down a notch or two.  Two birds with one arrow; now that’s a superhero move.

 

Next Step Archery

22313 70th Ave West   20180603_184717

Suite U1A

Mountalke Terrace, WA 98043

425-977-2770

Hours:

Monday-9am-5pm

Tuesday-Thursday 9am-9pm

Saturday-9am-9pm

Sunday-11am-6pm

*Closed Fridays*

 

 

 

Jaded

PICT2742A few years ago, while I was living smack in the middle of Hollywood, I came home from work for a brief bite of something before rushing off again to go catch those LA dreams.  I most likely changed my clothes, since working with coffee all day tended to permeate everything with its blackened aroma and I know I watched a little TV.  During that limited time, that brief half hour lapse, someone or something was shanked, stabbed or seriously maimed right underneath my living room window. I did not realize this however, till I went to leave and found a rather large pool of fresh, sticky blood soaking into the sidewalk. I didn’t hear a scuffle, a yell, a shriek, or even a murmur. Nothing.

And as shocking as it was to emerge from my idyllic apartment and stumble into a potential crime scene; having already been properly jaded by city life, I tiptoed my way around the blood stained sidewalk & wearily peered into the bushes for a corpse. I made it to my car and drove off. I called my sister to warn her about the biohazard at the foot of our stairs and that was about it.

I did wonder how someone could lose that much blood so quietly and then simply vanish into the summer night even more stealthily. Yet it wasn’t until months later, when the great blood stain was brought up during a conversation with our downstairs neighbor, that I realized that maybe I should get out of the city for a bit. Apparently, he had recently been regaling his sister back in Wisconsin with hard-edged LA stories and had mentioned the giant puddle of blood. “What did the police say?” she had shrieked and I looked at my neighbor knowingly.  Cause he knew what I knew and that was this; that neither of us had bothered to call the police.  In fact, it hadn’t even occurred to us. For we were city dwellers, in one of the biggest centers of humanity on the planet and well, people bled every day down here.

Emory’s

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One of the disadvantages of living in suburbia is the belief in the perpetual myth that there are no good restaurants outside of the urban center.  Sure there are miles and miles of Applebee’s & Olive Gardens and even an occasional mom & pop cafe that has somehow managed to withstand the onslaught of competition from the plethora of Starbucks stores which surround it.  But good food? Inventive food? A place worthy of first dates and silver anniversaries alike? A place like that is rare my friends, whether inside big city limits or out.  Hence one of the many reasons why I love Emory’s; it’s all of those things and more and the best part? It’s right in my backyard.

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Edgar and I went there recently for a rare grown-up date night out and I had almost forgotten what it felt like to sit and enjoy my meal without someone doing gymnastics on my lap or being used as a human napkin.  It felt nice and once I had that prosecco in hand, even nicer.  Edgar ordered some foo-foo concoction covered in toasted coconut and lime wedges and I could tell that the food runner was a bit confused as to which one of us ordered which drink but I shrugged and said “it’s the Latin in him I guess” and the Pina colada was gingerly set down in front of him.  He declared it delicious, and we plowed through battered green beans ordered off the secret bar menu and a fresh & tasty wedge salad.

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By the time out entrees came, we were, in all honesty, stuffed to the gills but we didn’t let that hold us back, though Edgar did eventually take most of his lamb shank home.  I had ordered parmesan crested cod and I was not to be so easily deterred for that dish was the crowning glory in an already delicious meal and besides, who takes home fish? It just never reheats the way other food does and unlike pizza and Chinese food, leftover fish is never half as good as it is fresh.  So yah, I was eating it whether my pants liked it or not.

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Once we rolled ourselves out of there, it was just a leisurely stroll across the parking lot to the car; no meters, no parking garages and no questionable dark alleys to contend with.  We were home in a flash, PJ’s on, Netflix primed and the satisfactory feeling of having done something very adult like.  I guess living in surburbia does have it’s perks.                                                                                                                                                         

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Emory’s

11830 19th Ave SE

Everett, WA 98208

Hours: 2pm-Close Daily

Saturday & Sunday Brunch 10am-2pm

425-337-7772

 

Stellar Kids Dentistry

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The only thing I remember about going to the dentist as a child is the vague threat of braces and the horrible taste of bubblegum fluoride.  Thankfully the braces never materialized, but the taste of that fluoride still haunts me today which is why I was determined to find a kids dentist worth going too.

Kids dentistry has come a long way since back then & no place does it better than Stellar Kids Dentistry.  From a hobbit sized entrance just for the kids to ceiling mounted DVD players; perfect for watching while laying on one’s back, Stellar is designed specifically with kids in mind.

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Maybe because it’s true that a great smile will get you places and great teeth take work to stay that way, but I worry about my kid’s dentist appointments more than practically anything else in their lives.  Like a brown-nosing teacher’s pet, I wait for those two precious words; “cavity free” with bated breath, and when it’s finally uttered my way, it is all I can do not to jump up & high-five myself…and the dentist too of course.  Not only have I succeeded in keeping the children alive, but I have threatened & harassed them enough to actually brush their teeth and stave off the dreaded cavities! I can see their bright & shiny smiling futures swimming before my eyes; a Harvard alum speech, chairman of the board, a Grammy in hand-all thanks to that mouthful of bright-white, cavity free pearly whites.  After all, it’s a Mom’s job to dream, right?

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Stellar Dentistry is captained by Dr. Lamba who is terrific and just like her office, bright & cheerful.  Even when London, to my horror, chomped down on her hand like a rabid beast during an exam a few years back, she smiled right thru it and simply stated that it was a hazard of the job.  Anyone who has ever been bitten by those razor-sharp daggers that some people call “baby teeth” can tell you that smiling thru that (and not immediately launching the offending child across the room out of pure animalistic instinct) is a real skill indeed.

Bottom line, teeth are important and though going to the dentist may not be the highlight of anyone’s week, Stellar makes it a little more fun, and for kids, that’s always a good thing.

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Stellar Kids Dentistry

~Mukilteo Office~

425-290-5500

4420 106th Street SW

Mukilteo, WA 98275

Open Monday-Thursday 8am-5pm and Fridays 8am-4pm

Closed Saturdays and Sundays