The New Mexicans

 

Restaurant: The New Mexicans
Cuisine: Southwest
Visit Date: March 10th, 2017
Location: Everett, WA
Address: 1416 Hewitt Ave
Price of Kids Meal: $5, plus drink
Child Friendliness Factors: 
-Highchairs available: Yes
-Drinks: $1 kids drinks available
-Child-friendly food/servings on menu: They have a children’s menu, but I wouldn’t go as far as saying it was child-friendly.
-Welcoming touches for children: Coloring page & crayons offered
Additional Comments:
-Alcohol (including mixed drinks) available for the grown-ups
-Downtown Everett parking can be tricky sometimes, but an easy walk from both the Children’s Museum and the Historic Theatre.
-No outdoor seating
-This is a table service & waitstaff type of restaurant

I was so excited to come here for brunch and celebrate my grandma’s birthday, but I was really disappointed by the food. My mom checked out the menu ahead of time on their website, and everything sounded so good, plus we always love supporting local, family-run businesses, but they just couldn’t deliver. I ordered the pancakes off of the kids menu, my mom ordered the French toasted cinnamon roll (we love cinnamon rolls!), and my grandma ordered a bloody Mary & french fries (the usual for her birthday). First of all, the pancakes were the size of my head. Actually, they were bigger than my head. There was nothing child-sized about them, and they were just plain pancakes on a plate with a side of butter. Not a very healthy choice for a growing girl. Second of all, the cinnamon rolls weren’t all that great. They were dry and sugary (I know cinnamon rolls are suposed to be sweet, but these had the actual flavor of sugar), and the french toast business just meant they had a scrabbled egg kinda stuck on the outside. Fail. Third, my grandma’s fries were floppy & greasy. Yuck! She said her bloody Mary was good, but since she’s a vegetarian, she did not have kind words to say about the lil’ smoky they used as garnish. I gladly took that off her hands.

Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll be eating here again any time soon. 🙁

Saint Edward State Park, Kenmore, WA

Saint Edward State Park is an enormous park located in Kenmore, WA, but also kind of Kirkland as well. With this being a state park, visitors must pay a $10/day parking fee to even visit the grounds, so I recommend taking advantage of one of the free park days throughout the year, or use the Discover Pass that you purchased with your annual fishing license. 😉

This informational sign placed near the front entrance of the building does a nice job of summarizing the history of the place, so just zoom in on the photo and I won’t need to rehash it all for you:

The most impressive part of this park is the old Seminary, built in 1930.  The building is rich with detail and personality, and it is really a shame that the interior it is not currently open to the public.  The building has many great examples of Romanesque architecture, such as the semicircular arches over the doorways and windows and the bell tower. The window pairs with the pilar in between was also a common feature.Look at this detail work on the second story of the dining hall. (You’ll need to zoom in on the photo to appreciate it.)  In the center of each window pair, on top of each capitol (the fancy part at the top of the pillar) there appears to be…is that the pope? Founder Bishop Edward John O’Dea perhaps?  I’m always amazed at second-story-and-above details like this. So few people will ever even notice them, but they were worth the price to someone.

Saint Edward’s Seminary Main Entry

Another feature of Romanesque architecture was the elaborate portals, or main entries to a building, and this building is a great example!  Above the main entrance door for Saint Edwards, the inscription reads, “spes messis in semine,” which I believe is the motto for the papacy  It roughly translates to, “the hope of the harvest is in the seed.”  I have kept the resolution relatively high on this image so readers can zoom in on the details. The artistry in the architecture here is amazing! Over the other door, the inscription reads “omnibus omnia facts sum”, which is a Latin quote from I Corinthians 9. This one roughly translates to mean “I become all things.”

View of the back of the Seminary from the playground area.

Now for the playground. Located very near the seminary, this playground (the largest in the state, according to the Seattle Times) was built in 2003, and it is still awesome today. It is completely fenced in , which is a blessing for many parents, but the interesting part here is that the fence rails have donors inscribed on them.  Here are a few of them (please forgive any transcription errors as my eyes are beginning to age):
Logan Heine
Jon Heine
Julie Heine
The Heines
The Sise Family
Myerchin Family
Pinczower Family
The Kayes Family
Peter Griffis
Rubin Maidan
The plaque at the entrance to the playground says that it was designed by the children of the community and built by “over 2,000 community volunteers.”  It also lists several key donors, such as:
Bald Eagle Tower donated in memory of Bill H Newman
Spiral Tube Slide donated by Marcie & Mike Rodgers
Climbing Wall donated by Haley Ashland & Art Turock
Perimeter Benches donated by the McAlister Families.

The Soup Cellar – Leavenworth, WA

 

Restaurant: The Soup Cellar
Cuisine: Bratwursts, Soup & Salad Bar
Visit Date: January 2017
Location: Leavenworth, WA
Address: 815 Front St # B
Price of Kids Meal: $7.49
Child Friendliness Factors: 
-Changing Table in restroom: Yes, and it was a large single-occupant restroom which makes it nice for potty-ing with your parents.
-Child hand washing made convenient: No
-Highchairs available: Yes
-Drinks: Milk available with straws.
-Child-friendly food/servings on menu: Yes, although my mom kinda freaked out about every kids meal being served with a big pile of french fries AND a pudding cup.
-Welcoming touches for children: None in particular.
Additional Comments:
-Beer & wine available
-Tight space with steep stairs, which may make it tricky for those in a stroller.
-No outdoor seating.
-No table service/counter service only, but soups & salad bar are serve-yourself style, which means you don’t have to wait on the kitchen staff to cook your stuff if you are really hungry.

Sometimes, I just want a slice of pizza or a hot dog, and The Soup Cellar is the perfect spot on a day like that. My parents, however, can get very particular about their food. They said it tasted fresh-from-the-Sysco-truck & were hoping for something more homemade. We did all agree that you can’t beat the speed here, and it was a great place to bring large families or picky eaters. They said the prices were good, too, so I think we’ll be back again someday.

Chinatown Restaurant – San Francisco, CA

 

Restaurant: Chinatown Restaurant
Cuisine: Chinese
Visit Date: February 20th, 2016
Location: San Francisco, CA
Address: 744 Washington Street
Price of Kids Meal: No kids’ menu, but Dim Sum dishes were $4-$10 each
Child Friendliness Factors: Page from Chinatown Restaurant menu
-Changing Table in restroom: No, and the restroom was down a flight of stairs, and not exactly clean. 
-Child hand washing made convenient: No.
-Highchairs available: Yes.
-Drinks: Just ice water in grown-up cups.
-Child-friendly food/servings on menu: Dim Sum dishes are the right size for children, and many have flavors that appeal to toddler taste buds as well.
-Welcoming touches for children: None.
Additional Comments:
-Nice soju selection.
-Great view from balcony
-In the heart of San Francisco’s Chinatown
-Serving the community since 1919

While my family and I were in San Francisco for Chinese New Year, we were able to have lunch at this hidden gem. Some of my followers may know already, but I am a huge fan of noodles, and Chinatown Restaurant makes excellent noodles! I also liked how dishes were served family style, on a giant lazy-suzan in then center of the table, so I got to try a bite of everything. After dinner, the waitress brought little bowls of green tea ice cream for everyone. What a treat!Chinatown Restaurant green tea ice creamChinatown Restaurant oodles

Historic Churches of Monroe, WA

Monroe has a number of historic churches that still stand today. Let’s start with Monroe United Methodist Church, pictured above. This brick beauty was the city’s first church, organized in 1896, with the current building being built in 1924. Here’s a postcard featuring the church from the 1950’s.

monroe methodist episcopal churchThe Monroe Congregational Church is just down Lewis Street, First Congregational Church of Monroeand it was the 5th church to be built in Monroe, in 1907. From the churches archives, “in 1907 the church lots cost $470.00 and the erection of the building $3,000.00.” The stained glass windows in this church are beautiful even to passersby on the outside, and breathtaking inside! I was unable to find any information about when these windows were installed, but they appear to reflect the local setting of Monroe, tucked in at the foot of the mountains, with the valley spreading out wide on the other side. The windows are done in twi-panel style, with the center panel of each being the largest. This is a popular design style for religious art.Stained Glass from First Congregational Church of Monroe

 

Stained Glass from First Congregational Church of Monroe

Queen Anne House – Snohomish, WA

After writing a post about the Southernmost House in the United States, I began to pay a little bit more attention to the architectural styles of the homes I was seeing on my travels.

Front of home, with tower and ornamented gable.
Front of home, with tower and ornamented gable.

I have always found the “Queen Anne House” in Snohomish to be beautiful, but it has no signage (it is a private residence, after all), and if there’s no Wikipedia page on it, I’m clueless! That is, until now. I did some research on Queen Anne Style victorian buildings in the United States, and I ran across the book Beautiful America’s Northwest Victorians, which mentions this home. It says it was built in 1887 (which fits for the neighborhood), and “has a shingle-clad, centrally-placed tower, faux quoins, and an explosion of cut-out ornament in the front gable.” I would say that is a fairly accurate description of this home!

For those of you wondering what a “quoin” is, I googled it, and vocabulary.com says: Some quoins are decorative features, providing variety and pattern to the corner where two exterior walls meet. Others have an important structural job, strengthening buildings by reinforcing the corners. Quoin was originally an alternative way to spell coin, and was used to mean “cornerstone” or “wedge.”

It is also pictured on the front of the visitors brochure for Snohomish, but the woman at the Visitor’s Bureau knew nothing about it when my dad asked her. P.S. The Visitor’s Bureau is only several blocks from this home.

Rear of home.
Rear of home.

P.P.S. Apparently, there is a photo of the house on Wikipedia, I just never saw it until now. Opps! It’s on the page for Snohomish, Washington, a page which lists 19 ‘notable people’ to come out of Snohomish. Only one of those 19 is a woman. Hmmm…

NYP Bar & Grill – Everett, WA

 

Restaurant: NYP Bar & Grill
Cuisine: Burgers
Visit Date: March 25th, 2016
Location: Everett, WA
Address: 1321 SE Everett Mall Way
Price of Kids Meal: $7
Child Friendliness Factors: 
-Changing Table in restroom: Yes, but it’s a left-handed one, so it was a bit tricky.
-Child hand washing made convenient: Not really.
-Highchairs available: Yes, but no booster seats. One of the staff members had some extra Bumbo seats at home & brought them in for customers to use as boosters, but since my rear end has been too big for a Bumbo since I was about 6-months-old, I can’t imagine that the big kids are very comfortable in them.
-Drinks: Ice water was served in a lidded cup with a bendy straw.
-Child-friendly food/servings on menu:  Yes…except there were NO fruits or vegetables anywhere on the kids menu. When mama asked the waiter, he said they don’t really have any fruits or vegetables because they don’t serve steak. He then offered to look for some fruit because they do serve fruit on Sundays. Strange.
-Welcoming touches for children: Crayons for coloring on the kids menu.
Additional Comments:
-This place specializes in local ingredients and local brews.
-Located within walking distance of a used book store, a pet store, and Toys ‘R’ Us. You can make a whole day of it!
-No outdoor seating available.

NYP Kids MenuI took my mom and grandma to NYP Bar & Grill for my grandma’s birthday, and she loved it! She raved about the Bloody Mary she had, and her onion rings were super yummy. I didn’t mind the lack of fruits & veggies because I just ate the lime, dilly bean, and cocktail onion from the Bloody Mary, then the waiter brought a side of fruit leftover from last Sunday. My mom gave me the tomato off of her burger & we called it good. My mom loved her burger too. The only problem with our visit was some front-of-house stuff. One server spilled mom’s fries, another one spilled a sauce cup in the lap of our neighbor, it took forever to get out bill (we walked in at 11:10 and didn’t walk out until 12:45), and our waiter wasn’t too sharp. (For example, when grandma asked for a lemon, she was given a lime, and when trying to explain the difference between the million dipping sauces they offer, he explained Chipotle Aioli as “Ranch-based.”) They specialize in Washington brews, but their coasters were from a brewery in Colorado because “they were cheaper.”

Back of house = A+

Front of house = C-

Pull it together, guys.

Southernmost House in the United States

Casa Cayo Hueso – The Southernmost House in the United States, is located in Key West, FL (along with all of the other southernmosts). Historic Southernmost HouseOn the right is a historic photo of the house from the Historic Markers Tour website. Here is the house history in a nutshell, copied from a sign inside of the hotel.

The Southernmost House was built in 1897 by Judge Vinning Harris. Harris’s wife was the youngest daughter (Florida Curry) of Florida’s first millionaire William Curry. The house was designed as a one bedroom mansion, to only accommodate the couple themselves. The style of the house projects one of the best examples of Queen Anne Victorian architecture, making it the second most reproduced image of any house in America, behind the White House. Many historical figures and celebrities have enjoyed the mansion’s elegance as well as the beautiful oceanfront setting.

Mrs. Harris engaged Thomas Edison to oversee the electrical design and installation of the house. The Harrises had invested in the Overseas Railroad to Key West, which was developed by Henry Flagler, who was a visitor to the house during the early period.

During the Prohibition period from 1919-1933, the mansion served as a “speakeasy” club. The first floor served as the restaurant, the second floor for casino gambling, and the third floor for “socializing.”

Southernmost House gate
Casa Cayo Hueso front gate

During this period, the mansion was visited by many celebrities and notorious gangsters en route to Havana. A little known secret of the house is the bullet hole in the front window of the reception salon, was said to be meant for Al Capone. The house was purchased in 1939 by the Ramos family who continued to operate it as a cafe/night club called “Cafe Cayo Hueso,” which hosted such notables as Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, Gore Vidal and Truman Capote, Tallulah Bankhead, Gloria Swanson, Louis Armstrong, Charles Lindbergh and Guglielmo Marconi, the Italian inventor of the radio-telegraph system. Then, in 1949, the Ramos family completely renovated the mansion for use as their private residence.

The Ramos family, originally from Spain, was one of Florida’s oldest merchant families, who settled in Spanish Colonial Florida (in St. Augustine) and moved to Key West in 1819. Because of their ties to the Spanish Royal family they hosted King Juan Carlos of Spain on several occasions. In fact, a landing pad was added to the oceanfront deck to accommodate his private helicopter.

Five presidents of the United States were hosted at the Southernmost House. They were Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard M. Nixon, and James E. Carter, Jr.

The house served as the Ramos-Lopez family residence until 1996 when the mansion was completely renovated and converted into the luxury guest house as it remains today…a uniquely beautiful piece of Florida’s colonial history.

Now for the interesting stuff-Casa Cayo Hueso SignThere is a sign posted outside of the building, and it reads as follows:

Casa Cayo Hueso
The Southernmost House
in the Continental United States
Key West, Florida
-Facts-

1. Owned by: Ramos-Lopez Family 1939-present
Owned by: Harris Family 1900-1939
2. Judge Jeptha Harris was beloved and respected jurist.
Definitely not a party animal. A circuit judge, not a salvage judge!
3. No ballroom on second floor – never was and never will be.

Ramos-Lopez Family – One of Florida’s oldest merchant families. Established in Spanish Colonial Florida at St. Augustine and moved to Key West in 1819.

I find this to be a very intriguing sign, because if I were to list facts outside of my establishment, I would list some from the previously quoted history of the home, not the fact that there is no ballroom on the second floor. There must be more to this story…

Southernmost House side view

And by the way, do you think that Florida Curry caught any grief growing up about her name? She was born & raised in Florida, after all.

Dim Sum Factory – Bellevue, WA

 

Restaurant: Dim Sum Factory
Cuisine: Asian (Dim Sum)
Visit Date: Thursday, January 21st, 2015
Location: Bellevue, WA
Address: 4092 Factoria Blvd SE
Price of Kids Meal: No kids meals, but Dim Sum was $7-$10 each, which would be the right size for a child.
Child Friendliness Factors: 
-Changing Table in restroom: No, but there is one in the mall restroom if you’re willing to walk.
-Child hand washing made convenient: No.
-Highchairs available: Yes, but they were strange, and not terribly effective.
-Drinks: Water was served to me in an pink acrylic glass without a lid or straw. I thought it was cool, but I did spill quite a bit. Opps!
-Child-friendly food/servings on menu: Not really.
-Welcoming touches for children: None.
Additional Comments:
-Located inside of Bellevue’s Factoria Mall.
-Awesome viewing area into the kitchen, as long as the servers aren’t that busy and don’t mind you standing in their work space.

This was the first time I felt like a restaurant was a true “fail.”

Crazy high chair
Crazy high chair

The style of highchair they put me in was older than my parents, and it was so easy to get out of. They didn’t offer me anything like crayons or kids cup, and they didn’t even have a kids menu. The waiter gave me a regular glass of water, which I thought was pretty cool, but I did kinda spill on accident…several times. I didn’t really like any of the food they brought. My mom’s noodles had two entire sprouted bok choy plants on top, which even she didn’t eat (and she claims to love veggies). My dad wanted to split a bubble tea with me, but they were out of “bubbles!”

Me trying to fish an ice cube out of my water.
Me trying to fish an ice cube out of my water.

Luckily we got to go to the children’s museum that night, so our day was far from ruined by our bad dinner. Kids, tell your parents to skip the Dim Sum Factory & head straight to Jamba Juice or Red Robin’s instead.