Tuesday, September 8, 2015


I couldn't even tally the number of hours I've spent in coffee shops over the duration of my educational career. Once that ended, and I landed my first law gig, I would sometimes head to a coffee shop to work on a brief. Most recently, I'd head to a coffee shop to hammer out some job applications. I sent M to the lake with the boys this weekend and headed downtown to the trendy "North Loop" part of Minneapolis to a new coffee shop for some pure, unadulterated ME time. 

No homework.
No work. 
No job applications. 

And here I find myself in this space again. The space being, this blog. I find that when I'm off kilter in certain areas of my life, I have the tendency to stall out in others. Two weeks ago, I started a new job. Without getting into the details- not because I'm a vague blogger, but because I'm a professional- it was both an easy and incredibly hard decision. I knew it needed to happen, but once the wheels were in motion, I was looking for the brakes. I recall a moment on my 2nd day of work at the new job having at total panic attack that I'd made the wrong decision. It's more unsettling for me to have unsettled feelings because usually when I make a decision, I commit to it- paint color, furniture. I'm not a waffler. 

The moment passed, and at the end of my second week, I feel confident that I can say I will really love this job. It's a 180 from what I was doing: practicing in state and federal courts across the country; to primarily Minnesota based, administrative law. Plaintiff's work; to defense. 6 attorneys; to 14 attorneys. It turns out, the things I thought I would like and would value fresh out of law school, are not the things I found myself loving. Maybe I'm not cut out for the stress and anticipation of 2+ week jury trials in federal court. Maybe I can't handle Plaintiff's work..not because I don't want to help people, but because I would carry their stress, their case, home with me. 

I have no idea if I'll find myself missing some of those things. I still have components of that type of civil litigation in what I'll be doing now- just on a smaller scale. 90 minute depositions instead of 7 hour marathons. 1-2 day trials instead of 1-2 weeks. But I'm trying not to get ahead of myself. Right here, right now, I'm feeling at peace and happy and excited about my decision. I miss my old coworkers terribly.. but the wonderful thing about the small legal community in MN is that everything circles back around, and I'm confident in the friendships we made. 

Totally unrelated thought, and I feel no shame in saying this either because it's so much more than cliche blog fodder for me, but I can't wait for fall. Summers in MN can run you ragged because everybody wants to do ALL THE THINGS ALL THE TIME. It's fun, but my late August illness told me my body is so sleepy. I've always loved school, and I played tennis in the fall, so for me- fall always symbolized the start of a new year. 

So, chalk that up the most I'll probably ever write about work ever again on the blog.. but it needed to be said. With billable hours come less free time during the week to poke around on blogs or start a draft of my own.. but I'm hoping this season of "new" - new job, new season- will help me find balance and come back here more. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Sleep: The Greenbriar Inn - 315 E. Wallace Ave, Coeur d'Alene, ID {bed and breakfast a few blocks outside of downtown, still within walking distance- also the location of 315 Martini and Tapas bar- which isn't open Sunday-Monday, so make sure you stay here or spend time in CDA when they are!} 

Eat: 315 Martini and Tapas {inside the Greenbriar, I can't speak to the martinis but the TAPAS.. omg. So creative, so damn delicious. My favorite were the chicken curry cakes with a spicy aoli sauce of some sort} 

The Cellar {I want to chalk up the really weird/bad customer service we had here to it being an 'off' night because the food was outstanding- I had a gnocchi and M housed a giant bowl of paella and declared it the best he ever had- worth chancing some maybe suspect customer service for the food! They also have a cool wine pour area where you can buy a refillable card and sample a ton of wines}

Fire {Artisan pizza in a brick fired oven- lots of variety, tasty, a good casual spot for the artisan pizza lover}

Crafted Taphouse {fantastic place for a burger and a beer- with a twist. Their "OG" menu is, as promised, very original. I had the tacos and M had the chicken and waffles (you can see the literal tower of them below)- also a really awesome indoor/outdoor seating, so try to go on a nice day to enjoy the patio!}

The Garnet Cafe {just a really good old fashioned greasy american breakfast- but with local, sustainable, organic fare. Gotta love the PNW} 

Whispers Lounge {inside the CDA Resort, great spot for a hand crafted cocktail. The first night we went there I was exhausted and got coffee- but the second time I was alert and ordered the huckleberry cocktail- so. damn. good, and I don't like hard alcohol. They also have a really nice patio with a glass wind shield where you can enjoy the sunset over the lake}

See: Mineral Ridge {the photos I found everywhere of this hike sucked, but the views were spectacular. It's a bunch of switchbacks up a hill, but the nice part is the 3 mile loop doesn't backtrack at all, so the "exit" back down to the parking lot is still all "new" territory (and shorter- most of the hike is the trek up, the trek down is only another .5 mile or so) - pretty drive to the area too, and may be worth cruising along the scenic byway if you have time}

Tubb's Hill {Again, the photos of this hike weren't great, and I put it on my list simply because I hadn't found a ton of other things to "plan" but it was so much more than an afterthought. Tubb's is located right in downtown off the big park by the water and follows the ridge out into the lake. It's convenient, not a tough hike by any means, and again- really beautiful} 

Downtown CDA {really cute downtown with shops, restaurants and antique stores- M and I popped into one and wandered around for an hour or so one afternoon/ also pretty much the lake area as a whole- the CDA resort boasts the largest floating boardwalk in the country (world..?), and we made more than a handful of loops on the boardwalk. There's also a little food spot on the dock where we grabbed drinks, ice cream, and snacks at various points} 

The "see" category up top pretty much covers what we did- hiking, eating, walking, sleeping, repeat. It was low key but beautiful and the perfect type of "active-restful" vacation. I'll let the pictures do the talking. 

{315 Tapas and Martinis}
{Whispers Lounge- CDA Resort}
{Mineral Ridge}
{Greenbriar Inn}
{Tubb's Hill}
{Tubb's Hill}
{Tubb's Hill}
{Tubb's Hill}
{Crafted Taphouse}

Now, to plan our fall/spring getaway. I've been trying to coax our entire family (well, some combination of siblings/parents on some side) to take a big vaca. Will report back if I have any luck. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


First up, the logistics! If you're uninterested in the details, feel free to scroll past. 

Sleep: Spokane Club Inn - 1002 W. Riverside Ave, Spokane, WA {cute, historic, boutique hotel in the  downtown. Within walking distance to Riverfront Park, downtown, and plenty of shops and restaurants}; 

Eat: Clinkerdagger {upscale steakhouse- make reservations! The main draw is its location on a cliff overlooking the waterfall and the Spokane river. Matt had a giant slab of meat and was drooling. I had the Italian sausage pasta which was homemade and spicy and amazing}; 

Casper Fry {we ate here for both brunch - Saturday and Sunday only} and dinner and both were out of this world delicious. The menu is an incredible combination of "southern with a twist". For dinner we opted for small plates and sampled the sausage, pork belly, hush puppies, and blackened radishes- I had a single bite of pork belly as M inhaled the rest. The sausage was to die for}; 

Central Food {we had breakfast here during the week- they serve it up every day. Food was outstanding- and the view wasn't too shabby either- located just across the bridge from the Spokane Club Inn, and a nice walk along the cliff above the river}; Scratch {we stopped here for lunch after getting into town, get the adult grilled cheese- if it's still available- the best combo of cheeses on a grilled cheese I've ever had. 

See: Riverfront Park {walk around, check out one of the oldest carousel's in the country, ride the Sky Ride across the falls! The park is huge and there's actually a small amusement park in the middle. We spent the early afternoon into the evening of our first day just walking around the park}

Riverside State Park {located in 9-Mile Falls just 20 minutes northeast of downtown Spokane, it's worth the drive to get out of the city for a leisurely hike along the Spokane River. I use the phrase leisurely quite literally, as the trail we walked on was paved. Not a lot of tree cover, so if it's a hot day- bring water! Also, if you get to the trailhead and note the "permit required" signs, do not fear! You can buy one online or by phone and then write the confirmation number on a piece of paper and put it in your windshield! This is brilliant because the spot to buy permits was about 10 miles down the road and we totally below past it.} 

{Riverfront Park- Canada Island}

I may have mentioned it in the past, but Coeur d'Alene was put at the top of Matt's domestic travel list when he drove through it last summer on a family road trip from MN to Seattle. I've equated it to the Lake Tahoe of the northwest, but maybe a little less well known. (We remarked upon arrival that it was definitely more of a regional attraction than a national one).

After googling some photos of the area and seeing the beautiful lake surrounded by mountains, I obliged and eagerly began planning our itinerary. When researching Italy, I spent more time on the "what to see" vs. "what to eat" because WE'RE IN ITALY who cares what we're eating!? I knew I wanted to invest more time in the meal aspect of things for this trip since it was a bit of a more low-key vacation location, thus, the food had to be part of the 'destination' as well. 

I'd actually had a couple cases based out of Spokane and defense counsel split time between Spokane and Coeur d'Alene, so I had heard them talk about the area in general. After some initial research I realized spending 5-6 days in Coeur d'Alene alone probably would've left us a little bored and antsy. After seeing that there were some neat things to do in downtown Spokane and in an effort to diversify, I planned the first 2 and a half days in Spokane.
{Riverfront Park}
We arrived around 1 local time and after dropping stuff at the hotel, took a short walk over to Riverfront Park. Be sure to check out the map of park attractions as there's a lot tucked inside! There's a sky ride that takes you out over the falls for 15 minutes and provides some spectacular views of the river and waterfall. For only $8 a person, it's worth the expense. 
The park also has a small amusement area- so if you're visiting with kids, it's worth perusing. Sans kids, M and I still wound up sitting inside the carousel building for a good half hour watching kids geek out while riding it. It's a Looff carousel and one of the oldest in the country, so it was ornate and beautiful as well.

Dinner that night was at the Clinkerdagger- which is an historic old steak and seafood spot located on the cliffs overlooking the falls and river in downtown. Despite a reservation, we weren't seated with a view of the falls (although I did make a reso late) so it may be worth reserving earlier (both WHEN you make the reservation and at what time you select) - or try it out for lunch! You'll likely be guaranteed a better spot with a better view. View aside, it was still a fantastic meal. 
{Casper Fry: counter clockwise from bottom- Sausage, blackened radishes, pork belly with an over easy egg, and hushpuppies}

That night we ventured out of downtown to a cute, hipstery little neighborhood to have dinner at Casper Fry. It was a beautiful night so we sat outside and caught the tail end of what appeared to be a farmer's market closing down. The spot next door was bustling, and there were restaurants or shops on the other corners packed with people - it seemed like a very vibrant little neighborhood. 

The food was nothing short of incredible- southern food with a twist. We opted for the small plates because why have one meal when you can have 4 small ones, right? (see above photo)- I got one bite of that pork belly with the sunny egg because M was salivating over it like a rabid animal. But that's okay because I didn't do too good a job of sharing the sausage either. 
{Central Food}
{Riverside State Park}

The next morning we walked across the river from our hotel to Central Food for breakfast. We were there on a Friday morning (one of the few places I found that served weekday breakfast!) and it was quiet and practically empty- although started to fill up as we were leaving. It was another beautiful day so we sat on the patio overlooking the river. Happy accident, in all my internet research I didn't realize they had a patio! 

After walking back and changing, we hopped in the car for provisions before taking a quick 20 minute drive northeast to 9 Mile Falls Washington to go for a "hike" along the Spokane River. Really it was more of a walk because the trail was paved, but it was such a nice morning and we had some great views along the way. It was also insanely hot, unfortunately, and the pavement reflecting the sun meant we only walked about 3.5 miles total instead of longer. 
{Riverside State Park}
{Spokane Club Inn}
{Casper Fry- eggs benedict with spicy hollandaise}

Saturday morning we packed our bags and checked out of the hotel to head to Coeur d'Alene. BUT not before stopping at Casper Fry on the way out of town for brunch, because NOM. 

Up next, Coeur d'Alene. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


This is hardly going to be a "travel post" as I've barely left my hotel room, but I just wanted to pop in from Great Falls, Montana and say hi. 

I've been here for work since Monday and actually spent a day and a half even farther north near the Canadian border. I made a mental note on the drive up when I passed a scenic overlook to stop and take a peek on the way back. 

I've always wanted to be more spontaneous, be a "stop when you see something cool on the side of the road" person... but usually my hyper logical side kicks in and says, "eh, keep going. Not that big of a deal, you have somewhere to be anyway." There's always something to justify not doing it. 

So when I passed that creepy old building you see above on my way north, and again on the way back, I got about 100 yards past it going 75 on a 2 lane highway before thinking "what the heck am I doing? I have nothing to be back in Great Falls for until tomorrow afternoon!" So I slowed down, whipped a U-turn, and pulled off. This decrepit looking building was set back about 200 yards from the freeway off a dirt road marked for hunters. I parked the car, got out, and walked around the outside of the building..wondering what it was back in its heyday. It kind of looked like an old schoolhouse, but there were no historical markers around to note anything of significance. Whilst creeping, the wind blew, and a piece of tin that was nailed to the roof creaked, nearly sending me out of my shoes and into an early grave. I quickly reminded myself that what I was doing was the basis of the poorly scripted storyline for many a scary movie, and hightailed it back to my hatchback. 

A few miles further down the road, I had remembered seeing a sign for a scenic overlook. During my first approach of this area on the way north I kind of laughed- this road cuts through a flat, desolate, very barren part of the state of Montana, so in my head I was all, "scenic what...?".. but just as quickly as the sign came up, and I saw a dad with his small child looking out over the valley, I caught a sliver of the view of the Missouri river and audibly gasped "oh wow!" So on the way back to Great Falls, I stopped. 

This trip cropped up quickly after returning from our vacation in Spokane and Coeur d'Alene, so I'm hoping to get that recapped over the weekend, along with some general life updates. If it seems by the tone of my posts I'm in the midst of a quarter-life-crisis, you may or may not be correct. I'm hoping some recent life changes (not pregnant) will help shed some light on my inner angst I've been experiencing. 

Until then. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


Four years ago next month, I walked into the Animal Humane Society in St. Paul to check out a tiny 8 week old little fuzzball I had seen online named Trapper Joe. 

He was wild and independent and just the tiniest bit crazy and he had the most high pitched manic little squeak purrs. It's safe to say he stole my heart from day 1. 

Four years later, he's still wild and independent and just the littlest bit crazy, but he's also so funny and affectionate. He's a creature of habit, but it's so neat to watch him develop new weird little habits over the years. 

For example...

He's taken to cuddling with Matt before bed (always on a blanket, and always between his legs), but once the lights are out, he'll find his way to my side of the bed. 

In the winter he paws at me until you lift the comforter, crawls underneath, circles once, and lays down. His new summer routine involves meowing until I move into the position he prefers- which is big spoon position with my legs partially tucked up- allowing him to curl into my stomach area. 

Lately in the mornings when I wake up and can't find TJ, I know the first place to look: under my bed. Matt has usually left for work by this point (I sleep in, what can I say) and TJ is curled up under the bed. He usually emerges eventually once I've woken up. 

When I would shower, he used to hop up, pace between the curtains, and sit on the tub. Now? He waits until he hears the water stop, the drain plug lifted, and without fail he's sitting on the sink or the toilet waiting for me to come out. I pop my head out of the shower and he meows. I climb out, put on my robe, lower my head, he gives me one good nuzzle before hopping down and walking away. 

He's always got his nose all up in EVERYTHING you're doing, often annoyingly so- but when I find myself snapping at him I just remember how nice it is to have such an affectionate and loving little guy. If M and I are working on a project (painting, woodwork, staining) that he shouldn't be in the room for, and we kick him out? He sits outside and WAILS. And no, I don't mean "meow" I mean he honest to God just howls and wails. He hates being away from us. He's got the worst case of kitty-FOMO I've ever seen. 

Which means when we come home from a weekend away, or haven't been around a lot at night during the week due to other obligations, he gets so needy. 

Besides marrying M, adopting TJ (or Tootie as I more often call him) was the best decision we ever made. He completes our family in such a big yet understated way. The house just feels warmer with him padding around and being weird.  

Happy 4 year birthday/gotcha day, Toots. You're my furry-best-friend, and I love you to pieces. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


What's more american than kayak camping down a river on the 4th of July? 
Spotting like 5 bald eagles. 

Thursday before the 4th M and I packed up the car with 2 yaks, camping gear*, and some boxed wine and set off for Wild River State Park in northern MN. There, we met the same couple friend of ours who we met up with in Italy. We camped overnight at the park Thursday night and enjoyed steak and chicken kebabs and cous cous- as one does over a camp fire. 

Bonus of traveling of any kind with fellow foodies is eating really well. Other meals included bacon and eggs, a lunch of fancy cheese, cured meat and bread, spicy Italian sausage pasta, and open faced chicken salad sandwiches with salad. NOM. 

We did about 12 miles each day with pit stops along the route before setting up camp on an island. We had planned to stay at a marked but primitive site along the river but when we arrived it was taken- the next closest one was 3 miles downstream and after 12 miles of kayaking- NOPE. 

We only almost had to fight off 2 racoons and 4 meth heads (long story) but it turned out to be a wonderfully secluded and quiet campsite. 

Some highlights, by way of photos: 

(*and a lot of other things to ensure we did not die). 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


It's easy to fall into the habit of waiting until the weekend to make plans. 
I think I convince myself there's not enough time during the week, after work, to do things. 
By the time you get home it's 5:30 or 6, then dinner, then what? 
Most of the time I just want to unwind. 

That being said, if you live for the weekends only, I realized you can miss some really great stuff during the week. 

Like, say- an impromptu dinner picnic along the shores of Medicine Lake.

I was feeling a bit funky this particular week (last week) and was thinking about dinner plans for the evening. I may have even stumbled on a photo during some IG trolling of a picnic when the idea hit me, and I was on my weather.com app checking the forecast. It was cloudy but the weatherman said by 6:30 or 7 it'd be partly sunny. 

I stopped by cub, whipped up some turkey and brie balsamic sandwiches on little rustic french loaves, grabbed some old fashioned potato salad, raspberries, and wine, and gave M prompt instructions to stay the heck out of the kitchen for 20 minutes. I put together the sandwiches, packed up our picnic basket, and surprised him with a fun dinner outing. 

The weekends are a great time to do things; more involved things, but if we trick ourselves into think they're the only time to do things.. we may miss some pretty sweet little weeknight opportunities.