Saturday, March 29, 2008

Olympia Family Theater presents "James & the Giant Peach" at SPSCC

We headed south to Olympia for a bit last weekend and saw "James and the Giant Peach" at South Puget Sound Community College's new fine arts center, the Kenneth J. Minnaert Center for the Arts. The show was by the Olympia Family Theater ... and, well done! I was a bit concerned at first, thinking the play would not hold their attention, be too long, they'd be distracted by seeing their buddy for the first time since October, etc. ... but they sat still! Even the Short One! Well ... except while waiting to head in to the theater, as the below picture shows. Outside theater: Running, chasing, moving, tackling, etc. Inside the theater: Transfixed. Even the Short One cheered and applauded with the rest of the audience.

Oh yeah, and the grownups enjoyed the show too. Yay! :)

Great choice for a family outing ... did I mention that even the almost-3-year-old was enthralled?

Mad Jack's is Crazy Cool

Normally, birthday parties outside the home freak me out. But I'm crazy for what Mad Jack's ice cream parlor does with their birthday packages. Let's just say, not only does birthday kid come in the night before to make their Own Special Flavor, but the actual party starts out with about an hour of science, kid-style, that includes plenty of easy-to-clean mess-making, flaming microwaved grapes, "goo" and so much more. You even get sent home with a science experiment. We got: "Mad Jack's Crazy Crystal Experiment" ... complete with instructions and starter crystals. Absolutely fabulous, though definitely something for the 5 & up crowd.

Oh ... and it's not all tricks and education. The owner definitely does this because he loves it. And the ice creams rocks, too. So creamy. So yummy. Everyone was pontificating on its flavor ... even the raspberry & lemon sherbert combo w/marshmallows and sprinkles that Miss Birthday Girl chose. (Have no fear, they have many, many other flavors ready to go ... or order your favorite made for you!) If you haven't tried Mad Jack's yet, do!

And if you REALLY haven't heard of this awesome place, you can read other reviews here:
Kevin Freitas
The News Tribune's ice cream parlor picks
See Darcy eating ice cream

Oh ... and the lovely, lovely "Mad Jack" made this mom's dreams come true when, as I was about to make a "mama run" in search of coffee for three, he pointed me a couple doors down to the Mercato Italiano, where not only do they make yummy espresso drinks, but they also have an impressive lunch menu, desserts, gelato, grab n' go items at great prices, wine and ... let's just say I grabbed a menu and will be finding an excuse for a date w/ the hubby or some good girl time soon ...

Take a look at the dessert case:

And in case you're not fond of links, and you want to find these folks, here's some addresses:

Mad Jack's Ice Cream Concoctions (they can make gluten-free goodies if you call and query)
2009 Mildred St. W.
Fircrest ... (253) 460-MADJ

Mercato Italiano
2049 Mildred St. W.
Fircrest ... (253) 566-6108

They're both just across Mildred Street from Narrows Plaza (movie theater, bowling alley & more) ... so basically, just over the Tacoma city limits ... but close enough. Enjoy!

A beautiful and cold day at the lake ...

Today was the Daffodil Cup regatta at American Lake, and the kiddos and I yanked ourselves out of bed to go cheer on the Lutes and the kiddos' Coach Auntie & Coach Uncle. The strange spring snow the last few days had me nervous about making the trek, but other than being a WEE bit on the cold side, the day was beautiful.

For a whole half-hour we stuck it out.

And despite the Eldest proclaiming desires to cheer the team, she couldn't find both her pom-pons, so apparently got stage fright. But she was silently very proud, and cheering in her own little way.

The Eldest and the Boy seemed to enjoy watching the boats from the dock. The youngest ... not so much.

Once feet were on solid ground, all had fun testing out their new "waterproof" shoes.

The Eldest insisted that I take a picture of the water. She thinks it's so beautiful that it should be the wallpaper on my iPhone. I prefer pictures of my munchkins, but might oblige her for a day or two.

The park just up the hill was a big hit as well. Baby Girl was very happy to be on the swing. So was her Big Sis.

King of the Castle ... er, the Barron of the Bronatsaurus? Or is that American Lake's own Loch Ness?

Back to that whole beautiful day theme ... it was. There was color and light and nature everywhere. Having grown up in the woods, it was a nostalgic walk back to the car as the kids (except the Short One who was scared of the big trees) ran gleefully through and around the trees.

These were likely the woods my grandfather ran in.

And now, I stare out at the deep, dark blue clouds threatening to impede my afternoon sunny delight ... and I say, let 'em come. I had my outdoor time. I'm ready to grab a cup o' cocoa and watch the weather ...

Just about snorted my coffee ...

I was innocently reading the comics and enjoying some leftover Puget Sound Pizza for breakfast when I saw it: another random mention of Tacoma in a pop culture medium.

Apparently the Stone Soup mama is headed to Tacoma for a conference. The kids seem to think Tacoma looks fun. Will they end up going, too? The suspense! And if they all do, will they go to the Museum of Glass? Point Defiance Park? Ruston Way? The History Museum? Naw ... probably they'll stay in a mythical motel with a water park (ala near Centralia). The previous day's comic does have me a bit cynical about where this might be heading ... though I believe the Marriott downtown does have a pool ... and a spa ... so ....

One can hope ... and one can cross fingers that the following scenarios don't occur: a) they end up cancelling their Tacoma trek and going on their cartoony spring break to Florida, or b) they do go to Tacoma and something stereotypically "saw it on the new about Tacoma" happens.

Well, let's see how it plays out ...

Ooh ... and you know, perhaps this could be a new tourism bureau strategy ... lobby cartoonists about what their characters could be doing in Tacoma, send them pictures of some of the odd-ball sites that might be incorporated into their drawings, and GOOD reasons that folks might come to Tacoma ... hmmm ...

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Quote of the day, from the boy

"Mommy, why, when we go to the fast-food places and restaurants and grocery stores, why don't they give us the same money back?"

Friday, March 14, 2008

LOCAL SPORTS: Early morning regatta anyone? (Great view!)

Pacific Lutheran University takes on Seattle Pacific University at 7:50 a.m. at American Lake tomorrow (Saturday) March 15. They'll be done by 10 ... so if you wake up too late for this post, have no fear, they'll be back racing on American Lake March 29. I know my kids are eager to get out and cheer the rowers ... if anyone else is interested in watching from the grassy knoll, see you there ...

Click here for the PLU Crew team's schedule. Go Lutes! (And you Loggers can cheer the Loggers ... I won't hunt you down ...)

p.s. Seriously, even if you're not an ex-rower or a crew fanatic, the view at American Lake is awesome and worth the waking up in the early morning to go support some local guys and gals duke it out on the water. There's even a playground if you're dragging along the kids!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

"You don't have to drive to Seattle for fresh spices" (or local food!)

I said that to someone today after a meeting and at first I don't think she believed me, but it's true. Fresh spices can be bought in tiny amounts or big ones, precise amounts or bulky by-the-scoop estimations at T-Town's own lovely Urban Gourmet shop of tastiness, located on 6th & Fife in the 6th Avenue Business District (right next door to the new Herban Cafe!). And the onetime-chef-turned-environmentalist-from-University-Place whom I informed of this little hidden 6th Ave. secret seemed equally enthused. It's just that cool. I love Costco, but Costco-sized spices linger in the cabinet way longer than they're supposed to. And fresh spices don't have to cost an arm and a leg ... it's a health and taste indulgence that doesn't really even take a splurge. They also do cooking classes and have all sorts of fabulous wares ... check them out! My surprised meeting mate seemed very happy at the prospect of trading in her soon-anticipated trek to Seattle for a stop by Sixth Ave. on the way home tonight ... yay!

On another note ...

Same multi-career-lady was also surprised to hear about Stadium Bistro's wonderful local food emphasis, and my two-cents that their $8 lunch sandwiches are heavenly brilliant creations. (And they make their own sausage and mayo and many other yummy goodies.) Yes, you read that right $8. It's hard to find lunch that cheap. I highly recommend the ($6) Grilled Cheese (provolone, aged Irish white cheddar and Danish Swiss) and the T-Town Supreme (pork & fennel sausage -- homemade!!! -- with eggplant and red peppers, pan roasted with smoked tomatoes, garlic and provolone cheese on toasted garlic bread). I'm dragging the office with me there next week, and most have never been ... I can't wait! I've had multi-course meals and lunches here ... and I've never had a bad bite. Worth the calories and the dollars: Great deal!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Secret spaces galore

I found a new T-town secret space this week thanks to the lovely ladies at the Herban Cafe. Perhaps second only in thrill to finding fabulous bathrooms is my trill of tripping upon backroom spaces so sweet and succulent that you want to find a reason to throw a party just so you can use them.

The first such room I encountered was Ruby's Room, which is the same Opera Alley building as Over the Moon Cafe and run by the folks at the Ruby Collection. What a view, what a space ... and I never would have guessed.

This week's special surprise is located behind the Urban Gourmet, which is right next door to the Herban Cafe on 6th & Fife. (Say it fast: Urban Gourmet, Herban Cafe, Urban Gourmet, Herban Cafe ... it makes me giggle.) I was sitting and chatting with the fabulous, scratch that, brilliant (and I mean that literally and Britishly) adviser to PLU's Media Lab about this and that, yelling over to Gretchen about falling in love with some fabulous spread made of olives that made me want to swoon and how it makes me want to throw a big party purely so I could get them to cater ... when out of the blue one of the other marvelous (see, I didn't say fabulous) gals over there told us about the hidden, gorgeous space behind Urban Gourmet that they do cooking classes in, and that they'll likely soon be renting out for other functions in the near future. (I'll snag pictures one of these days ... I was too stunned to remember I now have a camera phone.)

Some other places with "secret" backroom spaces:

Know of any others? I'm all ears ... or is it all e-mails?

Friday, March 07, 2008

VIDEO: My local music addiction

Tacoma musical newbie darlings Deborah Page & Paul Uhl have some upcoming shows, and some new tid-bits on their YouTube page. In case you didn't know, I'm a fan. Check them out!

Saturday, March 29 at the World Famous Bob's Java Jive
Wednesday, April 29 at Jazzbones


Mary Mack

My Love


Circumstance (live at Jazzbones for the 100th Monkey)

Thursday, March 06, 2008


I'm officially banning myself from typing the word "fabulous" for a week. Darn the Herban Cafe ... it was just that ... err ... splendid? Fantastic? Fa... fantabulous? Too close. Let's just "scrumptious" and be done with it.

Did YOU know Paddy Coyne's was kid friendly?

I didn't until the other day. I thought Paddy Coyne's is a bar ... I wasn't even sure kids were allowed for quite awhile. And then I learned differently. I was already in love with their cheeseburgers, so I knew what to order when the hubby, the baby and I had lunch together the other day. And by then I'd seen other children dining there. But then they actually brought over crayons and a kids' menu! I was in shock. But the baby was delightfully distracted. And when we ordered the kids' meal cheeseburger, it basically turned out to be the same burger I got, but with a few fewer fries, and she got a Shirley Temple to boot. (There are other beverage options.) and the staff is fabulously friendly there. All I can say is: Wow. Paddy Coyne's definitely knows how to make a parent smile ...

Lovin' the urban Herban Cafe ...

Ventured to the Herban Cafe today with the Divine Mrs. L and was delighted beyond belief. Fabulous food in a casual and cute atmosphere. A great menu. Great people. Great place. A definite must on the Tacoma restaurant to-do list.

My lunch buddy and I ordered coffee with our sandwiches, and were pointed to a self-serve beverage table, and the server mentioned the chocolate raspberry coffee. Normally, I'm not a fan of flavored coffee. Usually it's disappointing. But this ... this was a treasure. Not only did it truly smell like chocolate and raspberries ... it tasted like it. It was coffee that many folk might not even need to sweeten a bit. It was wow. And the cups so pretty!

The Divine Mrs. L was smart and honed in on the first thing that leaped off the menu at her: The ham & brie sandwich. I eyed it, but had self-doubt. Oooh, I think I know what I'll be ordering next time. And her herbed fries were scrumptious as well.

I nabbed one of the daily specials, a BLT on rye. A very tasty sandwich that I don't regret eating, but that ham and brie taunted me throughout lunch. I selected the onion rings, which were also yummy. You can have the fries, onion rings or potato salad with your sandwich ... and I'm so totally looking forward to tasting that potato salad!

It all looks ALMOST too pretty to eat. But we did. Though we definitely had take-home boxes when we left. We were quite sad there was no room for dessert, as the homemade cheesecake and pie and other baked goods sounded divine. We think we'll have to return for dessert and wine one of these days ... or Sunday brunch or ... well, there's just SO MUCH GOOD STUFF!

Distance makes the heart grow fonder ...

Trekked to Edmonds this week for the first time. Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful. A small town with a lovely downtown. Close to I-5, it has a ferry stop, there are many small shops and restaurants and doo-hickies downtown. A great view. Even the Savvy Traveler shop. I dreamt about what it must be like to live there ... and it was a nice 5 minutes. But then I decided that it's likely a better place to visit and vacation. I really do like Tacoma. I like its downs as well as its ups. In part because everywhere has its ups and its downs. You might hear about more of Tacoma's on the news, but that's just because it's Seattle TV stations reporting. Crime happens everywhere. And so do good things. Even this week when dealing with my car getting stolen and recovered, I encountered many good people. It was more of an up week than a down week. For more reasons than I could possibly list. But I got to ponder them during my day in Edmonds waiting for my meeting to start. And I got to enjoy a little piece of the Puget Sound region that I had not yet explored.

A few bits to share:

There was a lovely view. The plaque reads:


And there were binoculars to explore the view! And you didn't have to insert a quarter!

Then I had lunch at a lovely place called the Red Twig, across the street from the Savvy Traveler, while I got a little work done as well. I ordered the grilled croissant special, but I so should have ordered the crepes. They serve breakfast until 2 and it looked scrumptious. But I was in a bit of a frazzled state when I ordered, so I ordered the first thing I saw that looked good. Once I tasted it, no regrets. The vinegrette dressing on the salad was fabulous, as was the sandwich ... but that only makes me think how fabulous the crepes must have been. And then it reminds me of the crepe place near my flat when I lived in Ireland and ... ok. I'll stop now.

Ooh ... and they made goodies too. Here's the double-chocolate brownie I got. Very interesting ... I'm more of a semisweet/dark chocolate person and it was milk chocolate, so it was a little "milky" for my taste, but the textures of the brownie with the creamy topping was fabulous.

I enjoyed it all. And then I enjoyed coming home.

The Tacoma Tilt Bandit is not a fan of small press artwork

Since apparently the Tacoma Tilt Bandit isn't a big fan of the small press arts, I actually got my Wayzgoose loot back when my car was recovered. So I though I'd share some of the fabulousness ...

Eldest got to make a flip book thanks to the Seattle Center for Book Arts folks. And since the Tacoma Tilt Bandit doesn't like flip books, we got it back.

This bookmark was one of my eldest's favorite things of the day. She was very glad to get it back. Thank you Sherwood Press! And thank you Tacoma Tilt Bandit for not needing a bookmark!

My baby girl found this little goody I bought from Sherwood Press. It's called a hand book and I love the design, as well as the other ones she and her son created. Very fun stuff. But now I feel like I must find something worthy of writing in said hand book ... perhaps I should have bought a t-shirt instead ... sigh. I'm so glad the Tacoma Tilt Bandit doesn't need a pretty book to take notes in.

This is a card from Guinea Pig Press, made by the lovely and talented Miss Abegale McDermott, daughter of King's Books guru Pat McDermott and his lovely librarian wife, Lisa. My daughter fell in love with Abegale's work and looted my pockets until she came up with the required $1, then spent several minutes perusing the goods before she selected this. She was VERY glad the Tacoma Tilt Bandit is not a Wayzgoose fan.

This is the book that Abegale recommended, that contains all kinds of knitting, paper mache, sewing and other projects for kids. We snapped it up. Apparently the Tacoma Tilt Bandit is also not looking for craft projects to do with the kids. But if you are, the book is called "Making Stuff For Kids" by black dog publishing. And you can get it at King's Books.

Here's some more goodies we got to make ... the first is thanks to Montford Press' Carl Montford ....

And this one is by Springtide Press.

Plus, I found out that the day before the event, my dear friend and talented artist and wife of the guy who holds the keys to this place was able to secure a small press of her own at last, giving me yet one more reason to head to Grays Harbor. (As if I needed one. Think I'm crazy? If you need reasons to go to Grays Harbor, just e-mail me and I'll set you up with a to-do list!)

Thank you, Tacoma Tilt Bandit, for not being a small press fan.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Another victim of the Tacoma Tilt Bandit ...

Dear Cole,

We apparently are now co-victims of the Tacoma Tilt Bandit.
I have to say, it's an honor I was hoping to avoid. But I'll admit, I should have known better when last week these words came out of my mouth: "My car's too crappy for anyone to ever steal it." And then lo and behold, came yesterday. So Cole ... perhaps we need to start a club. I'm sure we're not the only victims of the Tacoma Tilt Bandit.


And while many of you have reminded me that 1989 Toyota Camrys are pretty much the most popular car to steal, I guess I have proof of my car's crappiness in the fact that my car was found in the middle of the night, not even 12 hours later, sitting in the middle of the Fred Meyer parking lot on Bridgeport. When I picked it up at the tow lot today, and shelled out my $190 to get my crappy car back, I think my car was cleaner. Whomever it was I don't think found much, but they tried. And I think they organized my trunk.

The good news: They left my Wayzgoose stuff in the back seat, my meeting notes are still in the trunk, and the car still runs.

The bad news: I'm just grossed out by the car now. Especially with the Tilt that was sitting on the front floor. Almost wishing car-robber had drunk-driving crashed himself/herself into a telephone pole so that I could get my stuff but be done with the car.

Oh, the the real good news: Despite the Tacoma Tilt Bandit's lack of ethics, I did discover yet again yesterday that fabulous people are all around. There were the greeters and security guard folks at Tar-jzay who walked me through what to do, offered my eldest activities to distract her hungry tummy and got us water; there was the awesome Tacoma Police officer who was very kind and helpful and did not snap at me once for not knowing my license plate number; there was my husband for coming to my rescue; there were all my friends who offered rides, and even an offer of Wayzgoose items for my daughter in case we hadn't recovered ours. The list goes on and on.

Thank you to my long list of knights in shining armor ... you are more powerful than the Tacoma Tilt Bandit.

UPDATE: Lost and found

So, apparently my car has turned up in University Place and now sits in a tow lot. Allegedly no damage. I'm still crossing my fingers that my Wayzgoose loot remains in the back seat. We shall see. I've already tuned out the fact that I will have to pay the tow lot some money to get said ancient car out ... my only problem: How to get it. Some of you dear friends may be getting calls of help today to come take me to the tow lot ...

Sunday, March 02, 2008

A weird Wayzgoose kinda day ...

Today's Wayzgoose event at King's Books rocked. Even better than the one I went to the year before last, especially because this year included way more "do it yourself" activities. If anything was going to make me haunt craigslist for a small press for sale, it would be this event. They make it look so easy! Even if I know it's not. It's. Just. So. Awesome. Triple bonus points for the fact that my pal from Hoquiam who I dragged up two years ago just happened to show up again this year. And then more for the fact that I ran into Betty and Steph and Tacomamama and intacoma and Exit133 folks the Blonde and her hubby (they were out and about for their anniversary) and the Guinea Pig Press chicks. And anything for getting to see sweet pea on a steamroller ... (btw, it's sweet pea's birthday on Tuesday ... send him greetings!) Anyhow, the event was a great momma-eldest day. If only my car had not been stolen just an hour later as I shopped for socks at Tar-jzay. It would have been a perfect day ... But while perfection might have eluded me, I do have photos to share. I was planning to photograph our "loot" for the day, but it got stolen with the car, so no such luck. Here's what I have ...