Tag Archives: Outdoor Fun

Katie Loves This: Edition 7

Welcome to February, friends!

Is January always 99 percent busier than you expect it to be? It is for our family.

Here are some favorites that we’ve been stockpiling since our last edition of Katie Loves This. What have you been swooning over since we chatted last?

Katie Loves This- Edition 7

One.
I seem to have an itch to buy a new pair of shoes and I’m loving these New Balance 420 Sneakers (Nordstrom, $70). I wear sneakers at least three days a week and I realized recently that all of mine are bright colors. A pair of black sneakers would be a nice addition. (However, I’ve vowed to not buy any more shoes until I Instagram-sell some of the ones I don’t wear. My shoe closets/baskets/under-the-bed storage containers are stuffed!)

Two.
Does anyone else already have summer on their mind? I certainly do. I’d love to build the kids somewhere to play in our backyard and have fallen in love with this design a million times over. I had pinned it three times, from three different websites, on my Outdoor Spaces Pinterest board and finally hunted down the original post on The Handmade Home. Which I’m now obsessed with via Instagram.

Three.
I’ve had the worst time finding a book to read since the new year. I’ve started and stopped reading a few books (including Lena Dunham’s, which I was just not that into, sadly), which I try very hard not to do. Last night, I started One Plus One by Jojo Moyes and it’s captured my attention. Have you read it?

Four.
Last, but certainly not least, I had to share this post from my lovely friend Nichole, who has also been my editor on-and-off for the past few years. This is her first post with mom.me, a site that I adore, and she nails it with her thoughts on keeping Valentine’s Day simple (SIMPLE!!!) and shares an easy way to do with her Failproof Valentine’s Day Treats.

Katie Loves This: Edition 1. October 2014.
Katie Loves This: Edition 2. October 2014.
Katie Loves This: Edition 3. November 2014.
Katie Loves This: Edition 4. November 2014.
Katie Loves This: Edition 5. November 2014.
Katie Loves This: Edition 6. January 2015.

Bellingham Bucket List: Strawberry picking

Strawberry Picking

Strawberry season is in full swing, so we took advantage of a quiet morning (and because we needed to bring dessert to a family dinner that evening!) and headed out to Boxx Berry Farm to do some picking.

This is the first time we’d been berry picking — for both the kids and I — so we didn’t really know what to expect. Here’s what we learned:

1. Don’t wear flip-flops: Janie and I both did and even though the dirt was dry, our feet were filthy by the time we were done.

2. Go first thing in the morning: It was cool and overcast when we got there at about 10 a.m., making for perfect picking. There was only one other person picking when we got there, but as we were leaving, at least six more cars arrived.

3. Don’t wear white: Or anything that you care about getting strawberry stains on. Your kids will wipe their hands on their clothes as they pick. You might too. Just make it easy and dress in dark clothes or clothes you don’t care much about.

4. Drive all the way out to the fields: We made the mistake of parking in the little parking lot behind the shop, up front, but quickly realized that the u-pick fields were way out there. You can drive back there (slowly) and it’s fun to catch a glimpse of what else is growing along the drive.

5. It doesn’t take forever: We picked for about 30-minutes and had enough strawberries to make a huge batch of strawberry shortcake for dessert that night. I think about six-pounds. Unless you’re really going for it, intending to pick buckets and buckets of berries, I’d consider this a morning or afternoon activity, rather than an all-day affair.

6. Learn to pick the right berries: The gal running the stand gave us a few pointers, including that the dark strawberries were probably too mushy to pick (she was right) and that the strawberries that came off with their stem should be eaten today.

7. Get in there for the best berries: You really have to dig into the plants to get the best berries. The ones along the border of the plants were often yucky, with the gems tucked away under the protective leaves. Don’t be afraid to get in there… and to let your kids get in there. I didn’t seem like you could hurt them very easily.

8. Make plans: Our plan was to make shortcake with our berries, but if we hadn’t, we still would have needed to eat or freeze the berries that we picked, pretty quickly, as I don’t think they would have lasted more than a couple of days on their own.

9. Head straight home: We made the mistake of running a couple of errands after we picked our strawberries and I think that they were pretty ripe by the time we got home!

10. Wash as you eat: Did you know that you shouldn’t pre-wash strawberries? It makes them go bad quicker. Wash them as you’re eating them, in smaller batches, to prevent gross, squishy strawberries.

Strawberry Picking

Like I said, we picked our strawberries at Boxx Berry Farm (6211 Northwest Road, Ferndale) and we loved it there. They were nice and helpful and the strawberries were gorgeous. For that half-full crate of strawberries, it was about $10, FYI.

Autumn of Playing House Full Time suggested we check out Barbie’s Berries (7655 Melody Lane, Ferndale). She said she appreciates their spray practices and that their berries are delicious, as well. I think we’ll give them a try! (Thanks for the tip, Autumn!)

Any berry picking tips to share?
What’s your favorite u-pick strawberry farm in Whatcom County?

Bellingham Bucket List

The spray parks are open (and they’re cold!)

spray park

I thought we’d hit the jackpot when I realized that the spray parks opened on the first day of summer vacation.

The weather wasn’t great when we got to Fairhaven Park, but it wasn’t cold either. We could sense the rain hovering in the thick clouds overhead, but it was otherwise calm, and nearly balmy.

The kids ran right into the water… and lasted about 10-minutes before they all ran back to us with chattering teeth and goosebumps. We tried to convince them that if they stayed in the water, they’d be warmer, but the damage was already done.

Eventually, Ev did head back into the water… in his fleece and swim trunks. And, of course I didn’t bring an extra pair of clothes with us, so he rode home in his underwear. It was basically his dream come true.

Long story short, the spray parks are open for (chilly) summer fun at both Fairhaven Park and Cornwall Park. The water is on from 1-7 p.m. daily through Labor Day.

And, as they make very clear on the Parks Department website, the water used in the spray parks is not recycled, but fresh. Which is great, because sometimes your kid is the kid who pees. Not that I’d know anything about that.

Did you brave the spray parks yesterday?

bellingFAM Bucket List Widget

6 Kid-Friendly Places to Visit in Seattle

6 Kid-friendly places to visit in Seattle… that you’ve never heard of

When we lived in Seattle and since we’ve moved, there’s nothing I love more than helping friends (and strangers!) who are visiting Seattle customize their trip — helping them discover restaurants that are off of the beaten track, local favorites for shopping and places to take their little ones. Friends and “friends” on Facebook will probably tell you that it’s super annoying, but with so, so, so many gems to share, I can’t help myself.

Here are some of our family’s favorites when we lived in Seattle that will get you out of your tourist-rut, while still making you feel like you had an adventure when you visit the city:

1. Lincoln Park

Alki beach, blah, blah, blah. Sure, it’s pretty. And beachy. And it will remind you that rollerblades do actually still exist. But, our favorite West Seattle beach is Lincoln Park, which is around the corner from its popular sister, Alki. Highlights include: A long beach with soft rocks for throwing in the water and tons of driftwood for building sweet forts. The best close-up view of ferries coming and going to the peninsula. A wide paved path that is perfect for strollers, scooters, bikes and plain old feet. A fun playground that’s tucked in the woods and includes a zip line. Find it: Lincoln Park, 8011 Fauntleroy Way SW, Seattle, WA 98136

2. The Armory

It’s likely that you’ve been here when you’ve visited the Seattle Center before, but this food court has recently been through a major renovation and has been re-branded as The Armory. With a sampling of many of Seattle’s best and most popular restaurants in one place, it’s worth stopping here for lunch or dinner on your way into or out-of-town. You’ll get to try the Seattle foodie-favorites without needing a reservation (which will likely be at 9 p.m. anyway). Highlights include: The kid-sized tables and chairs for your littlest dining companions. Everything on the menu at Skillet, especially the Kale Caesar Salad. Creative kid-centric food at Bean Sprouts Cafe. Find it: The Armory, Seattle Center, Park in the parking garage on Fifth Avenue North, across the street from the EMP at 325 Fifth Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98109

3. The Locks

I’m guessing that you’ve actually heard of The Locks because Ballard, the Seattle neighborhood where they’re located, is about half-populated with people who grew up in Bellingham. When we lived in Seattle, if we were going to run into anyone we knew from Bellingham, it would be in Ballard, without a doubt. The Locks, or more formally, The Ballard Locks or the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks is where the fresh water of Lake Union meets the saltwater of the Sound, and where boats (of all sizes) and fish go through the locks (a water elevator, of sorts) to get from one side to the other. Highlights include: Watching the fish swim from the underwater viewing spot, Checking out the gigantic, intricate fishing boats up close as they pass through on their way to adventures in Canada and Alaska. Grabbing fish n’ chips nearby — there are a few spots within walking distance. Find it: The Ballard Locks, 3015 NW 54th St., Seattle, WA 98107

4. PlayDate SEA

If you’re looking for an indoor adventure when you visit Seattle, because it’s raining, again, check out PlayDate SEA. This place opened just before we moved from Seattle and it is a favorite for local families with little ones who need to run off some rainy day energy. It’s just off of the freeway at Mercer Street, making it convenient to add-on to other Seattle adventures or a great place to meet up with friends who live in the city. Highlights include: Parents aren’t charged an admission fee. Kids up to age 14 can play (and they will have fun!). They serve yummy Stumptown Coffee. Find it: PlayDate SEA, 1275 Mercer St., Seattle, WA 98109

5. Columbia Center Sky View Observatory

Want the absolute best view of Seattle? Head 73 floors up in the sky to the Columbia Center Sky View Observatory. Located in that huge black tower that looms over downtown (you often can’t even see the top on a cloudy day!), this is a Seattle adventure that even many Seattleites haven’t experienced. Find step-by-step instructions on how to get to the top on Red Tricycle, including how to find the world’s highest Starbucks. Highlights include: Kids under age 5 are free. You get a sweet peek into the Seahawks’ stadium. There is a ton of space in the observation room for your kids to roam around freely. Find it: Columbia Center Sky View Observatory, 701 Fifth Ave., Seattle, WA 98101

6. Columbia City

If you’re looking for a new neighborhood to explore when you visit Seattle, head south of downtown to Columbia City. This spot is where young families are flocking to buy homes and settle down, without giving in to becoming suburbanites and its full of fun places to shop, delicious restaurants, historical buildings and tons of community and character. Highlights include: If you’re in downtown Seattle, you can jump on the Light Rail (access under Westlake Center) and take it to Columbia City. Pinball and ice cream at Full Tilt. Live music and art, always. Find it: Visit the Columbia City Business Association website for directions

 What is your favorite tourist-free place to visit in Seattle with your kids?

Kulshan Brewing Co.

Bellingham Bucket List #22: Spend an afternoon on the patio at Kulshan Brewing Co.

You can find the entire Bellingham Bucket List on bellingFAM.

Explore

It’s undeniably one of the most popular spots in Bellingham and, much to my own surprise, it’s kid-friendly too. I had no idea that Kulshan Brewing Co. (or Kulshan Brewery, as it’s commonly called) was kid-friendly until I was there, sans kids, and noticed that both the patio and the inside seating sections were swarming with little ones who were hanging out with their beer-loving parents.

At Kulshan, minors are allowed in both the indoor and outdoor sections of their James Street location, the exception being the section that is to the left as you walk in the front doors, which is the actual “bar” (AKA where you’ll want to hide out on a date night visit so that you can pretend like kids don’t exist, anywhere).

On a sunny weekend afternoon, this is the perfect place to pull up a picnic table bench, order a pint and have some family time. We love the community-feel that you can’t help but soak yourself in at Kulshan. Everyone is friendly, willing to share their space and small groups of friends and families usually turn into large groups, as you see everyone you know at Kulshan and join forces to enjoy a beer or two while the kids play.

While it can be very, very, VERY busy at times (we told you, it’s a popular place for families and the kid-free alike), it’s worth stalking a table and the turnaround is pretty quick, if you have a bit of patience. If we’re planning on visiting with the kids, we often send one parent down first to grab a spot, then head down with the kids 10- to 15-minutes later to join them.

Don’t be afraid to grab a few empty spots at a picnic table with some other Kulshan fans… Just promise that your kids won’t kick them in the shins under the table, and if they do (they will), buy your new table-mates a beer to apologize.

Kulshan Brewing Co.

Take

Don’t bring too much, as there isn’t really anywhere to keep your stuff at Kulshan. Do bring snacks for your little ones, cards or some simple board games for your big kids to play, or whatever will keep them nicely entertained while you enjoy your brew (little cars, princesses, Rainbow Looms, etc.). If you have a little one, a stroller isn’t a bad idea, as they can sit in it and leave the benches for the grown-ups. Lastly, bring an extra layer of warm clothes for everyone — it can be a bit chilly on the patio, especially as the sun starts to go down.

Eat

We’ve heard from Kulshan fans that the food is one of their favorite parts about the experience. Not only can you BYO food, from grabbing a pizza down the block at Coconut Kenny’s to brown-bagging it with sammies from home, but you can also order food from Kulshan’s delicious selection of rotating local food trucks. They keep a schedule online that is super helpful.

The last time we were there, we ordered from the Diego’s truck and nearly died over the deliciousness of the nachos, which were crispy and fresh, straight out of their oven. Yum.

A mama warning: It can take a while for them to actually make and deliver your food from the trucks, because, well, they are cooking in a truck after all. Before you order, ask how long they are. And, most importantly, don’t show up to Kulshan with hungry kids — either feed them before you go and use the food truck cuisine for a snack or, bring some munchies while you wait for your food to be made.

Looking for the beer? You can either go inside and order one at the bar and take it with you back to your table, or keep your eye out for a server. There are usually at least two taking orders and they’ll happily bring your beer out to you and get a tab started.

Kulshan Brewing Co.

FYI

The last time we were at Kulshan with the kids, there was a long outdoor table filled with guys who were obviously having a very good time. In conversation, one of the guys dropped a very loud, very enthusiastic f-bomb. He immediately looked at me (we were sitting at the next table) and cringed and mouthed an apology. I reminded him, with a smile on my face, that I was the one who brought kids to a bar and that it wasn’t a big deal. Which, to me, it wasn’t.

But, let this be a reminder to you that while Kulshan is seemingly kid-friendly, people go here to drink. Your kids are going to come across a good, quality swear word from time-to-time and you have to be okay with that. You’re in their space, with your kids. Have a beer and let the little things go. No judgey “hey, did you notice that i have children here” looks allowed.

Find

Kulshan Brewing Co.
2238 James St.
Bellingham, WA 98225
Phone: 360.389.5348

Park

It’s all about the street-parking when you visit Kulshan, so circle the block and circle it slow. We’ve never had to park more than a couple of blocks away, even on a busy night, but if you live within walking/biking distance, you should consider making the trek to Kulshan that way first. There is plenty of bike and stroller parking available.

Remember to be kind to the homeowners who live around Kulshan. Don’t block their driveways or park on their grass. It’s not nice.

Kulshan Brewing Co.

Online

You can find Kulshan Brewing Co. online, where they’re great at keeping events and other information up-to-date. If you’re planning on visiting with the kids, you might want to take a quick peek at their events calendar first, as those can draw a big crowd, making them a bit less kiddo-friendly.

You can also find Kulshan on Facebook.

Do you take your kids to Kulshan Brewery for a pint or two on a nice day? What are your tips for other beer-loving parents?

bellingFAM Bellingham Bucket List

Bellingham Bucket List - Exploring at WWU

Bellingham Bucket List #5: Explore the outdoor art on the WWU campus

You can find the entire Bellingham Bucket List on bellingFAM.

Explore

One of our favorite outdoor spaces to explore in Bellingham is the Western Washington University campus. Best for weekend adventures or during campus breaks, when there are fewer students around, the highlight is their awesome interactive outdoor art sculptures that you can climb on, climb up, scooter through, hunt for and play hide-and-seek in.

There are nearly 30 sculptures on campus, some are obvious and some aren’t, and I’m pretty sure that even with all of our exploring, we’ve only seen half of them. Some of our favorites are the Stadium Piece, which looks like a huge staircase, the Stone Enclosure/Rock Rings and the Steam Work for Bellingham (all pictured here).

WWU Campus

Take

It can be surprisingly windy on campus, even on a sunny day, so be sure to take a layer or two more than you think you’ll need. If you have little ones, bring a stroller — the campus is sprawling and with so many cool sculptures to explore, from one end to the other, you’ll be on your feet a lot. If you visit during the weekend, don’t hesitate to bring scooters or bikes (and helmets!). The campus is wheel-friendly, especially when there are fewer students around. If the weather is calm, it wouldn’t hurt to bring along a Frisbee for the big, open grassy areas on campus (just stay off of their pretty sports fields!). As always, throw a few snacks and some water in your bag — you’re guaranteed to have some hungry kids by the time you leave!

WWU Campus

Leave

You shouldn’t need anything else to entertain your kids when you’re on campus, so leave anything extra at home. You’ll need all of the hands you can get to help your kids climb and explore the art and sculptures. If you can, leave your purse at home (rather than in the car) or bring one that’s easy to carry.

WWU Campus

Eat

There are a few places to grab a quick bite to eat on campus, if you end up needing more than just a snack. Head to Viking Union for the best options that are also open on the weekends. We’d recommend brown bagging it, as your first option, since there are so many pretty outdoor spots to pull up a patch of grass to eat.

WWU Campus

FYI

Be aware that there are often events happening on campus during the weekends, including sports events, prospective student tours and even the impromptu music video shoot. Make sure you and your kiddos are respectful of campus activities, students, faculty and staff.

WWU Campus

Park

Guess what? Parking is FREE on campus on the weekends… in some lots. We suggest the big gravel lots on the south end of campus. They are easy to find (directions below) and there are always plenty of spots to choose from.

Reminder: Be sure to lock your car doors and leave all valuables at home.

WWU Campus

Find

To get to the parking lots:
From I-5, northbound or southbound, take Exit 252 onto Samish Way. Turn left onto Bill McDonald Parkway and continue up the hill towards campus. Take a right at the stoplight onto South College Drive. The gravel parking lots are on both sides of the street, past the sports fields.

After you’ve parked, walk across the street towards the flagpoles to start exploring.

WWU Campus

Online

You can find detailed information about the WWU Outdoor Sculpture Collection online, as well as a map of campus that includes all of the outdoor art. You can find general details about Western and the campus on the WWU website.

You can also follow Western Washington University’s official Instagram account and Facebook page.

Do you take your kids up to the Western campus to play? What is their favorite spot to explore?

bellingFAM Bucket List Widget