In July my mom and I went to her hometown of Gary, Indiana for a cousin’s wedding, and were able to spend a morning in Chicago. We stopped at Little Goat Diner for an insanely rich and delicious breakfast and followed that up with a long walk in the Garfield Park Conservatory. Later that weekend we visited the property my mom grew up on in Miller Beach. The little white house is gone with a new, big one in its place, but the white picket fence my Grandpa built still goes around the back of the property. I know this because my mom and I wandered into their backyard from the beach, and peeked around a bit. The trees and grass my Grandpa planted were still there, (he called the backyard ‘Schafer Park’ and even made a little sign that hung on a tree there for decades), the whole place looked so vibrantly green and beautiful, with the trees opening out onto the dunes at the back of the yard. The dune grass thickly covered all the hills of sand around the beach completely, and when they blew in the wind it almost looked like waves on water.
It was a bright but slightly overcast day, and so the blue-grey of Lake Michigan just kind of melted into the sky at the horizon line. The beach was completely empty except for one woman we passed walking her dog, which was strange considering how nice the weather was for a summer morning and how huge the beach is. But the surrounding towns of Miller & Gary have had a rough time since the steel mills closed down so the populations have steadily declined. It was eerily peaceful out, beautiful and calm in kind of a lonely way. I want to go back and visit more of Indiana with my mom on another trip, drive down to Gas City in southern Indiana and see where my Grandpa grew up, and go to the offices in Chicago where my Grandmother’s parents had their ‘Hungarian Family Hour’ radio show back in the day when they first immigrated to the states. There’s always so much to do and so little time, but I will make it happen, if only to have another trip with my mom since we had so much fun together in our short 3-day getaway.
Later in the summer, Jeremy and I stayed on a houseboat in Tacoma, Washington for our first wedding anniversary. We drove up into Seattle on Saturday and wandered around Capitol Hill, stopping at Tallulah’s for brunch and then popping into Cone & Steiner general store for a bottle of northwest wine to enjoy later in the weekend. From there we drove over to the Ballard area where I spent an excessive amount of time at the Palm Room nursery oohing and aaahing over their selection of stag horn ferns and air plants until Jeremy gave me the side eye and I knew I was pushing it. From there we wandered around the plethora of funky vintage shops in the area, and had the best happy hour ever at Moshi Moshi Sushi. The next day we drove up to Whidbey Island, a small island in northern Washington that forces you to cross a terrifyingly beautiful bridge to enter it by car, otherwise you can take the ferry. The beaches there were ridiculously full of clams, shells littered the coastline where the seagulls had been having their go of it, and you could *hear* the bubbling under the sand of the clams breathing.
After a bit of seashell foraging, we headed over to the Whidby Island Distillery, where the most elusive and delicious berry liquor in the world is made. They currently make three varieties, loganberry, blackberry, and raspberry. They’re all delicious, but their award-winning loganberry liquor is the one they’re famous for. Loganberry is a fruit native to Washington that’s essentially a blackberry raspberry cross. All the berries they use for their liquors come from local farmers, and they distill northwest brandy to make the liquor. Unfortunately for most of us, current distillery laws in the US prohibit small-batch distillers from being able to sell their product out of state unless they can afford to stock & sell their product in *every* state, which most of them can’t, so it keeps the market monopoly for big liquor brands going. The laws for microbreweries actually used to be that strict too, up until a few years ago when they changed it and delicious microbrews started appearing on chain grocery shelves along with the big name brands. So basically, you can only get Whidbey Island Distillery liquors if you are in Washington. But hopefully that will change soon like the laws for microbreweries did.
For dinner we headed back into the city and had the most insanely delicious meal at Ethan Stowell’s new restaurant, mkt. With a cozy and intimate feel, it only seats 28 people and the seating is arranged around the open kitchen, so you can see the chefs at work and smell all the food in the air. The menu changes seasonally and takes advantage of the tasty farms local to the Seattle area, so things like seared duck breast in a huckleberry & juniper glaze pop out at you from the menu. Yes, I ordered that and it was so so so so good. I’m heading back to Seattle in a few weeks with Christiann from Portland Fresh and I’m hoping we can make a stop over there again so I can peek at their winter menu and eat eat eat. If you have any other Seattle eatery recommendations feel free to throw them my way, for now I’m going to leave you with these summery photos. Only a few more months until spring!