On Cleaning Up My Potty Mouth in Salt Lake City

My sister and her husband moved from Portland, Oregon to Salt Lake City, Utah about six years ago. To be honest, I still haven’t forgiven them.

(Sadly, this was Brock’s only visit to Portland to see his Aunt Mel, before they up and abandoned all hope of living anywhere nearly this cool again.)

Utah seems to be the only state somehow untouched by U.S. law. Like, how is it the only state where there are legal loopholes for polygamous marriages? And how is it legal to have students attending public schools granted released time during school hours to get LDS education on the LDS seminary campuses that seem to be conveniently located on all the public school campuses (when every other state is fighting to the death for separation of church and state)? And how is it illegal to order alcohol without having food already on the table? There’s no, “Can I start you off with a glass of wine?” No beer on tap that’s over 3.2% alcohol content? Obviously I could go on and on.

So I will.

Because, as if these things aren’t bad enough, I came across this list of Dumb Ass Laws in Utah. (Yes, I added the ass for emphasis. And fortunately I’m not in Utah right now, because if I was, I would likely be arrested. According to this list, it is illegal for women to swear! HOW IS THAT LEGISLATABLE?!)


As I said, my sister lives there. And for those of you who don’t know me, I’m kind of close to my sister. (Okay, really close. Like, we’re pretty much the same person, just living in different states–and it will remain that way for as long as she lives in Utah.)

I recently went out to watch my sister’s kids while she and her husband were in Ethiopia. These little faces that the two of them made together are my favorite excuses to visit to this nonsensical place.

After many visits to Salt Lake City without ever actually going to the Great Salt Lake, I finally decided it was time to explore the place where the city got its name from. In the middle of the Great Salt Lake is a lovely little place called Antelope Island.  The kids and I headed to Antelope Island in search of antelope. Seemed reasonable. Many hours (and wrong turns) later, we had no antelope sightings to report. We did, however, sight buffalo, tens of thousands of birds, tens of thousands of dead birds (literally), cattle, and this crazy beautiful (salty) scenery.

I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised that we didn’t find antelope on Antelope Island. That would’ve made too much sense for Salt Lake City. But, as I’ve learned before, a place doesn’t need to make sense to be thoroughly enjoyed. Being with my sister and her family is enough to keep my heart and face happy.

So I suppose it’s a lot of bit because of my sister…


…and a little bit because of this view, that I am drawn back to Utah again and again.

According to Utah law, a husband is responsible for every criminal act committed by his wife while she is in his presence. Looks like I either need to clean up my potty mouth, or marry a man (or many!) before visiting my sister again.



We’ve gone two whole weeks without snow now, so I’m guessing the attention I lavished on Winter finally did the trick. 😉 This past weekend while I was in St. Louis journaling about my trip to Salt Lake City a few weeks back, I realized it was time to catch up on some undocumented adventures before launching full swing into this next travel season.

Remember that time I told you that I ate ice cream in Seattle, but didn’t actually tell you about my trip to Seattle? While I hold that ice cream teasers are always justifiable and need no explanation, I think I was waiting to disclose the details of my trip until I had a better reason to give you as to why Seattle – but, like ice cream, it really needs no explanation. So here it is.

Truth be told, I chose Seattle for my girlfriends’ and my annual Labor Day getaway this year because I had never explored the place The Everywhereist calls home. Anyone who knows me is not surprised by that reason. I thought it was time to see what it was that kept bringing my favorite blogger back to Seattle after all her travels (aside from her brilliantly bearded man, of course). It wasn’t hard to figure out.

Guys, you would love Seattle. I mean, anyone who loves Geraldine, coffee, seafood (or any good food for that matter), music, art, fresh flowers, the smell of salt water, beaches, mountains (or anything between beaches and mountains), architecture, design….what was I trying to say here?

If you like anything at all, you’ll like Seattle.

While we were there, a stranger made an astute observation. He pointed out that the four of us girls function as the four points of a compass. We loved the analogy, as it captured the rarity of our bond. We all come from totally different paths of life, have very distinct interests and styles, and our personalities are for sure as opposite as the North and South poles.

Here’s Jadah. Our Northern Star:

Tara is the beauty from the East:

Whitney’s as close to Southern charm as you’ll find in Minnesota:

And I’ll forever represent the West from whence I came:

How often are people gifted with not one, not two, but three friends who love you all the way to your soul and back? Naturally, the only way to signify this bond was to get matching tattoos. I mean, we were in Seattle, guys.

Totally joking, Dad. That’s just a random pic I found online. Unfortunately, we ran out of time to get tattoos because we were too busy (legally) getting high. DAD! I’M JOKING! We just drank coffee. A lot of coffee. (You can find a post I wrote about coffee in Seattle on this coffee blog I share with my mom and sisters.)

We spent four days in the city, and each day was as distinctively different as each girl. We explored Seattle as foodies, typical tourists, nature enthusiasts, and as besties. (Upon re-reading that sentence, I have become grossly aware of the fact that the term “besties” is about as annoying to read as bathroom selfies are to look at. Therefore, I hereby promise to never throw that word into a post again.)

We adventured our way through Seattle as foodies:

We adventured our way through Seattle as typical tourists:

We adventured our way through Seattle as nature enthusiasts:

We adventured our way through Seattle as besties the four points of a compass:

I realize the rare gift it is to journey through life with a group of friends whose magnetism is as beautiful as a compass rose. As soon as I am able to convince Geraldine that she was meant to be part of my inner circle, I’ll have a five point compass rose designed and inked. (And yes, Dad, I promise you’ll be the first to know.)

Okay, Winter, You Have My Attention

My friend’s dad recently passed away. When she was diffusing with her two sisters after the funeral, they realized that somehow their dad had convinced all three of them that they were his favorite daughter. I was blown away by the gift this man had left his girls. Somehow he had enough love and attention to make each girl in his house feel like they were the highest object of his affection.

Today is March 5. It was 5° when I woke up. We are expecting 5 inches of snow today, because evidently the half foot Winter dumped on us over the weekend wasn’t enough to get our attention. Evidently the multiple polar vortexes, broken records, and snow days have not given Winter enough satisfaction.

Laying in bed this morning, I started wondering if perhaps Winter was just craving attention.

I have made my affections for Spring, Summer and Fall very clear. I have celebrated the offerings of all three of the other seasons, without making much mentioning of my love for Winter. Perhaps Winter is feeling like a neglected child. Like she is not my favorite and the others are.

In case my oversight is the reason behind this temper tantrum Winter is throwing, I thought I should make my love for her known.

Since I only have one child, I haven’t had practice spreading my love out evenly. I haven’t had multiple objects of affection to convince that they are all my favorite. I haven’t figured out how this works as well as my friend’s dad did. I’m hoping, though, that this apology to Winter and acknowledgement of her beauty and the fun she offers, will suffice and make her stop acting like a bitter middle child. Fingers crossed.

In which I tap into my more human-like qualities at Ipsento

Someone asked me over the weekend what I like to eat. HOW DO HUMANS ANSWER THAT? I mean, are static preferences actually a thing? “Mushrooms. I like to eat mushrooms.”

One of the greatest things that separates us from animals is that we have a ridiculous amount of variety when it comes to our grazings. Think of the endless options we have of flavors, textures, and recipes that include bacon. (In case you aren’t typically a link-clicker, allow me to share with you the tagline of that link, The Bacon Show: “One bacon recipe per day, every day, forever.” You just went back and clicked the link, didn’t you? 😉 )

I turn into an animal when asked what I like to drink though. I don’t even think about my answer. It’s an immutable, “Coffee. I like to drink coffee.”

Not only do lack variety in my drink preference, but the way I order it never changes either: “Black coffee, please. Hold the froufrou.”

Don’t get me wrong. I love my sweets. And I love my coffee. I just don’t love them together in the same place at the same time.

That was, until Ipsento.

By observation, Ipsento is a little eclectically decorated house where Bucktown goes to talk theology in foreign accents, drink pour overs made from freshly roasted beans, break all laws of personal space, and, generally speaking, just be hipsters together. As I didn’t fit the demographics, I chose to sit in the front window ironically sipping on The Ipsento — a coconut milk honey latte with a Cayenne pepper kick.

My first sip turned into one of those moments where I’m suddenly proud to be human.

Hey there, Polar Vortex! You don’t scare us.

I recently got distracted with The Phobia List.  It’s amazing what kinds of things people are legitimately afraid of.

Say, for example, consecotaleophobia–the fear of chopsticks. That’s a real thing, guys. Like, a clinically diagnosable fear.

A few other phobias I’m really glad I don’t have:

  • Alliumphobia (fear of garlic)
  • Amaxophobia (fear of riding in a car)
  • Atelophobia (fear of imperfection)
  • Autophobia (fear of being in love)

And that’s just touching the A’s of the list! If you think you can avoid contracting phobophobia (fear of phobias), I recommend the Phobia List distraction.

One of the phobias I would not fare too well with, living in Chicago, is cheimatophobia (fear of intense cold). This week, we have had our second Polar Vortex of the year. Brock has now officially missed three days of school due to the intensely cold weather this year. We decided yesterday that instead of cowering inside, we would conquer the -35° wind chills with donuts and coffee downtown.

Because my sister knows us well, our Christmas cash was coupled with a list of new places for us to discover in the city. We took our list and cash, and started at The Doughnut Vault.


The Doughnut Vault is one of Chicago’s most popular destinations for a good donut fix, but it is hard to catch the place open.  I have eagerly made the trip many times, only to be greeted at the window with a closed sign, reminding me that the place is only open as long as there are still donuts on the shelves. Fortunately for B and me, there seem to be a lot of people suffering from cheimatophobia in Chicago, so we were greeted with a friendly face offering us plenty of donuts to choose from.

There’s no seating in the place–it’s literally a counter and a door that has a slot for Love Letters and Hate Mail. After finally getting to taste what we had only heard rumors of, we had nothing but love.


From The Doughnut Vault, we headed for Artopolis. Let me tell you, my sister had done her research. The place was this amazing Euro cafe nestled in the heart of Greektown. I couldn’t think of anything more Euro-cafeish than bread and cheese, so we ordered breaded cheese. (Brock is obsessed with feta, which often works out in my benefit.)

Obviously we couldn’t walk away from this counter without ordering a treat.


We went with the Dark Chocolate Mousse Cup.

I think if there was such thing as the fear of sharing food, B would be diagnosed with it. I realized that the kid always reminds me to take pics right when he is about to start eating, and by the time I get a non-blurry pic that includes both his face and the food (and not squished together into some disastrous mishmash), he’s nearly done with the treat. Smart little rascal.

After polishing off the remainder of the chocolate cup that Brock had missed, we decided to find a more comfortable place to settle down for the afternoon. I had been to Uncommon Ground before, and knew it would be just what we were looking for. I gave Brock our options, and he said, “…okay, but let’s go to the other [Uncommon Grounds] since we haven’t been to that one before.”


We nestled in by the fireplace at the Rogers Park Uncommon Grounds, and spent our afternoon playing board games, reading books, writing in our journals, and daydreaming together.

My heart was full as I realized how blessed I am to have a sister who knows me as well as Mel does, and a son who craves adventure as much as Brock does. I can’t imagine navigating my way through life with a family who struggled with neophobia (fear of anything new).

Brain Freeze

I wonder if I can blame my upbringing for the seasonal inappropriateness I seem to suffer from. In Papua New Guinea we had two seasons: rainy and dry. We didn’t have the sweltering humidity or blistering cold (with a few days of 72° and skies of blue sandwiched between) that Chicago does. We didn’t have to be creative with how to bundle ourselves up, or figure out how we could possibly strip down one more layer without being indecently exposed. Each day, we dressed ourselves in jeans and t-shirts and flip flops and smiles.

Nowadays, though, I am the mom who gets scolded at school for wearing my flip flops while dropping my kid off on a snowy day. I am the employee who shows up to work in the middle of summer excited to be wearing the sweater I just found at the bottom of my drawer that I had forgotten I even had. I am the friend who offers to stop and pick up a hot chocolate for everyone on her way to the beach. And I am the girl who can’t get ice cream off her brain in the middle of record breaking arctic temperatures.

Since none of my favorite places to indulge in the frozen delicacy are currently open, I thought I’d share a few of them on here to distract myself from thinking about them.

(Spoiler: I save the best for last–the ice cream cone that will make you regret every ice cream cone you’ve ever had up to this point.)

Brock’s and my favorite find close to home, Capannari Ice Cream, is a family run joint that has offered it’s finest homemade creams to Chicago’s northwest suburbs for thirteen years now. They have more awards and distinctions plastered on the walls than they have flavors in the cases. You’ll likely offer them an additional plaque to add to their hall of fame once you’ve tasted the ice cream behind all the awards.

Another favorite in the burbs, mostly for its nostalgia, is Choo Choo. I’m confident that even when B outgrows the wonderent of food being delivered to our table on a train, their hand scooped milkshakes and malts will continue to bring us in.

There are a couple scoops in the city I haven’t been able to resist lately.

I was feeling especially fancy at Mindy’s Hot Chocolate (which I’ve mentioned a couple of times) when I ordered the salted caramel ice cream. When it arrived, I knew it deserved to be eaten like a lady, one nibble at a time. I am not exactly the poster child for a prototypical lady, so I suppose it comes as no surprise that I dove in headfirst and didn’t come up for air until the last of the salted caramel  cream had been licked off my plate.

The chocolate peanut butter milkshake from the Chicago Diner was almost enough to convert me to veganism. Almost. (If you haven’t been to the Chicago Diner, you’re missing out on creations that leave out every ingredient your body hates, without leaving out the things your taste buds love. It’s kind of amazing, actually.)

Naturally, I allow myself a sweet treat or two while I’m on the road too. This year, these were my top three favorite out-of-state cones:

1. Michigan State University Dairy Store–This place actually makes their ice cream on campus from dairy cows that they raise on campus. Being obsessed with farm-to-table restaurants lately, I was super excited for my first cow-to-cone experience. (And yes, in case you get lost in the experience and forget when the Spartans are playing next, the schedule is conveniently located on the ice cream case.)

Dairy Store (East Lansing, MI)

MSU Dairy Store (East Lansing, MI)

2. Molly Moon’s–The concoctions that this Seattle establishment comes up with are brilliant. Almost as brilliant as their community outreach efforts. After a good ten minutes of staring at the menu board trying to decide, I let the cashier surprise me. I ended up with a honey lavender ice cream. I tried to reduplicate the concept with yogurt after I got home. It was a disaster. I don’t recommend trying to reduplicate anything Molly Moon does in the kitchen. Only in the community.

Molly Moon's (Seattle, WA)

Molly Moon’s (Seattle, WA)

3. Until finding Scoops in Kenosha, Wisconsin, I didn’t know anything like this existed. In case you, too, have been left in the dark, I would like to introduce you to:


**Ridiculous amounts of emphasis added for effect

Beer and pretzels and ice cream and magic all thrown together in one little package?? I remember nothing that happened after that first lick (best case of brain freeze I’ve ever suffered from).

Time to throw my flip flops on and go pick B up from school before I start thinking about ice cream again.