Category: Travel

switzerland, 2015.

Fresh Scratch, Switzerland, Escholzmatt

Greetings from my ongoing little travelogue from this past summer, when I traipsed around Europe {with students, don’t forget!} for three weeks. With the weather getting a little snappy lately, I thought you could use a bit of sweet, sunny, Switzerland.

But make no mistake: Switzerland was still hot as #$%^. As we headed into the Alps from France, I thought that surely these few days may be our one reprieve from the 100-degree-plus heat, but I was pretty much wrong…unless you count 94 degrees a reprieve. Which I kind of did. It was the coolest temperature on our entire journey.

Fresh Scratch, Switzerland, Escholzmatt Fresh Scratch, Switzerland, EscholzmattFresh Scratch, Switzerland, EscholzmattI basically felt like I was sleeping in a little bird’s nest at our hotel. It was a big chalet in the farm town of Escholzmatt, and I was at the tippity-top. My room was spare, spare, spare, and I loved it. My shower was straight from the seven dwarves. I mean, the curtain rod came up to my chest. It was hilarious and awesome.

My window faced the town’s cathedral just to the left, mountains straight ahead. There was a full moon the nights we were there, and it was so warm that my window was just flung open, letting all the Swiss night air in to envelop me. The commuter train tracks were about a block or two away, so all night long I had the soothing lullaby of the clanging of cow bells, the trains’ low rumble, and the sound of the little fountain at the cathedral.

I loved every second.

One night I remember being excited to actually be getting six! hours! of! sleep! before we were off and running the next day. Instead, I awoke to my niece’s light knock and an “I don’t feel good.” I ushered her into my sunny, sleepy room, and she sat on my little bed and I crawled back in and it was pretty much the coziest morning ever in the history of student travel. I’m glad she woke me up, because otherwise I’d have missed a very glorious dawn happening outside that sweet, tiny, window.

Fresh Scratch, Switzerland, PilatusFresh Scratch, Switzerland, Pilatus Fresh Scratch, Switzerland, Pilatus Fresh Scratch, Switzerland, PilatusFresh Scratch, Switzerland, PilatusThat morning we were up and at ’em and cable car-ing it up the side of Mt. Pilatus. {ps: that white thing in the sky on the right side of the panoramic pic is a hang glider!} It was such a sunny, glorious day that my photos are a bit blown-out, but I think you get the gist.

Mt. Pilatus is the site of a mythical dragon’s cave, a tourist center, a hotel, and a military installation {they’re everywhere in Switzerland, even the places you think they’re not}, not to mention it’s the home of the world’s steepest cog railway. Hey, you’ve gotta take your claims to fame where you can get them!

Though there’s no photo, I was pretty stoked to see an ibex from up there. It was the first time I’d ever seen an animal in the wild and had absolutely no idea what it was called.

And that picture of that little church? No photo would do it justice. You’ve just got to go in person, okay?

Fresh Scratch, Switzerland, LucerneAfter the cog railway down the mountain, we had a long, lazy boat ride on Lake Lucerne, which ended in Lucerne itself. It was so hot and so sunny that co-worker Steve and I just kept following the shade around the boat the entire ride.

My niece and I soaked up Lucerne together, which is code for we sat on the river bank, ate gelato, oh, and she got her hair cut on a whim. The pace of our time in Switzerland each year is just the best.

Fresh Scratch, Switzerland, Escholzmatt Fresh Scratch, Switzerland, Escholzmatt Fresh Scratch, Switzerland, Escholzmatt Fresh Scratch, Switzerland, Escholzmatt Fresh Scratch, Switzerland, Escholzmatt Fresh Scratch, Switzerland, EscholzmattThe last evening there was spent like every evening is – Steve and I walked the town until it was nearly time for bed checks. The Swiss word for hiking is “wanderweg” {pronounced “vander-veg”}, and there are little signs pointing out these trails all over the countryside wherever you are. The trails cut through private property, farm land, cow pastures, whatever. So that’s what we do in Switzerland after dinner – we wander, and I threaten to steal cows’ bells right off their sweet necks because it would be so easy, but I don’t actually do it.

And before we knew it, the moon came up over the hills and made everything positively glow, and I felt that feeling of, “Hey, I could just disappear into a little town like this and it might work out just fine in the end…….”

But of course I didn’t. And of course it was on to Italy the next day. Which was a whole other dang hot adventure that I’ll tell you about later.

For more on this past summer’s trip, you can read my posts on London and France.

magic, mischief, & mayhem: the deep fall edition.

There’s no denying it – there’s finally a little chill in the air most mornings. I hope there’s one where you are, too.

The spiderwebs are draped over everything. My walk through the woods on my way to work at zero dark thirty is now, in fact, quite dark and spooky {especially since I’m listening to the Undisclosed podcast on my way – nothing like learning about what happens to dead bodies and going over evidence while you’re walking alone. through a forest. in the dark…}.

All of my summer things are put away. Just a few blooming Dahlias in the back yard remind me that summer was ever, in fact, here.

The transition back to working full time has not been without its bumps. Or tears. Or moments of wondering: did I do the right thing? does this mean I won’t have any time to write? why does it feel like all I do most evenings is clean the house? will I ever have time to watch tv? You know, the usual working mom stuff.

Fall is the perfect time for a fresh start, though. And here’s the beauty I’ve been finding along the way:


Spa-hhhhhhhhh. Just what I needed – quiet, save for some old Mazzy Star.

A photo posted by kellisamson (@mrsfreshscratch) on

A small moment to breathe at Blush Day Spa – even just a half hour there in the quiet and pretty colors leaves me feeling like I can keep going. The “Fade into You” didn’t hurt, either. Remember that song, fellow Gen X-ers?


The Northwest is Best. ?#nrthwst #pnw #folkvibes #livefolk #liveauthentic #seabrook @seabrookwa A photo posted by kellisamson (@mrsfreshscratch) on


Looks like Winnie the Pooh ate too much honey again…. @seabrookwa

A photo posted by kellisamson (@mrsfreshscratch) on

Our family took our annual fall trip to Seabrook last month, and it seemed like fall arrived all at once that weekend. It was rainy and a little chilly, but we cozied up with our friends and drank cocktails, played Family Trivial Pursuit {the mamas’ team won! thank goodness I know so much useless celebrity trivia.}, and tromped around in our wellies. Oh, and got a flat tire. 

You’ll read more about that weekend in a later post, I promise. For now you need to know that the PNW has the best fog, my little Clementine cracked me up with her little fanny sticking out of the tree stump and I just never want her to grow up even though she drives me bonkers, A Seaworthy Home has expanded into a new space there that is so much bigger, The Red Velvet Bakery has went from Olympia cottage bakery in Trista’s house {I interviewed her last year} to its own sweet shop in Seabrook, and I have the kind of friends whom I can hang out with in my pajamas and ratty old college sweatshirt. That says it all, doesn’t it?

I am not a pack rat, but I can’t seem to ever part with this piece of my middle school self. Reading this book with Clementine sparked endless nights where the requested bed time lullaby was Lost in Your Eyes. Yes, I still know the words.


Finally. A photo posted by kellisamson (@mrsfreshscratch) on




Give it up for my mom-in-law, who all this time thought I was a crazed Twisted Sister fan! A photo posted by kellisamson (@mrsfreshscratch) on

Shara’s cousin generously gave us her Counting Crows tickets for their Seattle show last month, making it our EIGHTH time to sway along to Long December when Adam Duritz sings, “All at once you look across a crowded room and see the way that light attaches to a girrrlllll….” We always catch each other’s eye at that moment and it’s like we remember right then that there is and always has been magic. It’s my favorite part.

One thing about being back to work all the dang day is that my weekends have taken on a preciousness that they’ve not had since I had kids and stopped working all dang day outside of the home. So when Shara and I drove into the cit-tay, you bet we were going to eat at the fancy London Plane and, yes, we’ll take another couple of glasses of wine, please, because it’s the weekend!

And then my mother-in-law revealed via text that she thought I’d been seeing Twisted Sister all these years. Which provided me with no end of giggles.


Mad for Plaid…??? also, I pretty much bought all of it. A photo posted by kellisamson (@mrsfreshscratch) on

Have you seen all of this plaid enchantment at Target lately? If there’s none left, it’s because it’s all over my house.


October Sky. #nofilter A photo posted by kellisamson (@mrsfreshscratch) on


  ♥️   A photo posted by kellisamson (@mrsfreshscratch) on

Ooh, another one from Seabrook.


Loved a little Lush Rush above Capitol Lake with my homegirl @content_neophile ! That’s the best way to wrap up a Monday, A photo posted by kellisamson (@mrsfreshscratch) on

Our girls have been in school together since kindergarten. Debi’s one of the most organized, efficient, and good-natured women I know. It was fun to take a breather one Monday afternoon and meet for drinks outside at Swing while we still could. And their beet cocktail? The bee’s knees.


A whole lot of pretty. Congrats @compassrose_olympia !!! A photo posted by kellisamson (@mrsfreshscratch) on

Oh, my stars. My favorite shop in Olympia got even more amazing this month when they totally remodeled. If you haven’t been into the Compass Rose in the last thirty days, get your hiney down there. It’s absolutely stunning. Those girls have the best taste in all of the land.

Was I a little crazy to host the Junior troop camp out in our back yard? I worried that I was. But the great thing is that our troop has only four girls, and all four mamas stayed, too. Fifth graders can do anything, so we just sat around and made them do it – took them over an hour to set up our enormous tent!


Worth being late to work. A photo posted by kellisamson (@mrsfreshscratch) on


Autumn PNW Light.? A photo posted by kellisamson (@mrsfreshscratch) on

There’s nothing like that low glow of autumn. I’ve become a bit mesmerized by it. It’s moody.


The end of the earth. #pnw A photo posted by kellisamson (@mrsfreshscratch) on



I will miss you, Olympia. I think I’m going to move to Port Townsend. ? A photo posted by kellisamson (@mrsfreshscratch) on



And now my need for adventure is quelled for a few days. A photo posted by kellisamson (@mrsfreshscratch) on

Matt took his students on a three-day field trip to Port Townsend earlier this month, and Annabelle begged me to chaperone. She didn’t have to beg too hard – three days off from work in one of my top three favorite places in Washington? Two nights of being told it’s lights out at 8:30 pm {I got 19 hours of sleep over two nights – OMGosh!}? Spending time with my eldest? Watching my hubby in action with his students? No brainer. But we sure missed Clementine.

I always leave both Port Townsend and Bellingham wondering if we should move.

There will definitely be a post on this one soon – so many pictures to share.


One of the only gals who calls me “sweetie.” ??? A photo posted by kellisamson (@mrsfreshscratch) on

West-siders: Doos Doughnuts is where it’s at. And I love that this lady makes me feel like the nicest, most wonderful person ever when she calls me “Sweetie” about 40 times in 7 minutes.


My little pumpkins ????? A photo posted by kellisamson (@mrsfreshscratch) on

Clementine has the best Daisy leader ever – she plans so much for them to do and packs so much into their experience. Our afternoon at Lattin’s was perfect. And it didn’t hurt that I brought some cider doughnuts home.

What did hurt? Annabelle complained most of the time. That pre-teen kind of whining that is so irritating, yet so sad because only a year or two ago she would’ve been silly and enjoying every second. It’s sad to watch the magic die, but I keep remembering it’s my job to show her that there are different kinds of magic that you can hold on to forever, that you can be grown up and full of wonder at the same time.


As I rush from weekend to weekdays, I’m going to try so hard to remember this little gem. Regram from @schoolhouse A photo posted by kellisamson (@mrsfreshscratch) on

I so love this.


…and a ferry sighting! ? A photo posted by kellisamson (@mrsfreshscratch) on



The Great Wheel on a lovely Seattle day! ? A photo posted by kellisamson (@mrsfreshscratch) on



So much more manageable than Powell’s….! A photo posted by kellisamson (@mrsfreshscratch) on



Ahhh, brunch. A photo posted by kellisamson (@mrsfreshscratch) on



On top! A photo posted by kellisamson (@mrsfreshscratch) on


The one thing we didn’t get to on our short summer fun to-do list was taking the kids to Seattle for a day. We made up for it big-time last Saturday. I planned a day that was pretty packed, but I knew we could pull it off.

It began with sleeping in, as all good Saturdays should.

Then we rode the Great Wheel, which we loved! There was so much to spy from up there. We then headed to Capitol Hill for a visit to Elliot Bay Books, which I love so much more than Powell’s in Portland, people. I know I am practically breaking the law in saying I do not love Powell’s even a little bit, but it’s true. For me, books are about comfort and quiet, and this has those things in droves.

Next door was our stop for a late brunch: Oddfellows. I’d been wanting to eat here for like a year, and it didn’t disappoint. At all. It was loud and quirky and delicious. I’d eat there every weekend if I could! Then we made a little stop at Anthropologie because of course, then on to the Space Needle. Times have sure changed from when I went up as a kid. It was $70 for our family of four. $70!!! And there was an enormous line. But we were all happy, so it was okay. And Seattle Center has an awesome new playground where the little amusement park from the World’s Fair used to be, which we loved. Except I didn’t love it when a mom in a dress was climbing up the ropes and everyone could see up her dress. What was she thinking?!

Finally, we had a cozy dinner at Delancey where we scooted right in and got the last table just by the door. We had drinks and tons of pizza and were just leaving with Ashley Rodriguez’s killer chocolate chip cookies when Ashley herself walked right in. You all know how I get with foodie celebrities, so I passed her in the foyer as I was leaving and she was waiting for a table and told her how much I loved Date Night In. And she was very gracious and just as pretty in person.

{then I took a pic of her from outside through the window and texted it to my friend Andrea and my family called me a stalker all the way home, but whatever.}

And then Molly Wizenberg saw my Instagram post from Delancey and actually commented with a “hurrah!” and I pretty much had the perfect day right there.


Olympia Coffee Roasters, absolutely killin’ it in their new space downtown. ☕️ A photo posted by kellisamson (@mrsfreshscratch) on

Oly Coffee Roasters opened up their newest, biggest, most spacious spot downtown last weekend, and I am in love. It’s my new jam. I know you know I hop from new favorite place to knew favorite place like nobody’s business, but that’s okay. For now, this place is the place. Stumps for stools? Heck to the yeah.


My favorite cranny in Oly. ? A photo posted by kellisamson (@mrsfreshscratch) on

A sighting of these colorful doors can only mean one thing: I had a hair appointment nearby! I love this little courtyard of color.


? everything’s coming up rainbows A photo posted by kellisamson (@mrsfreshscratch) on

And then I came out of my appointment {three hours later} to this double rainbow and everyone on the street ooh-ing and ahh-ing, and I was just like, “Dang. It’s a great day to be alive.”

So, yeah. Life is messy. And complicated. And at a lot of times just too harried. But there is always a reason to stop and be amazed if you just let yourself.

Go forth and get buried in leaves and pumpkin spice and apple pies and scarves – immerse and enjoy this fresh start.


mrs fresh scratch