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Hair Recovery Step 1

December 19, 2015

I wanted to write a follow up to my Graeber review to update you all on the hair situation. As a reminder, I was a redhead for 28 years, I had a terrible experience at a salon in downtown Boise and walked out a very, very dark brunette. Check out this post for the specifics of that nightmare.

The co-owner of Graeber Salon, Shelby, reached out to me after reading about my last experience and wanted to try and make it right. I very much appreciated her reaching out, but was very hesitant to go back in, for a variety of reasons. Shelby was extremely kind and refunded me in full for my last appointment, sent a gift certificate to replace my ruined jeans and offered me a complimentary hair fix as well as an additional $100 on my account to spend at Graeber on future hair appointments. I was very grateful for the length that she went to in order to rectify my previous experience. She even sent a handwritten card on Graeber stationary! I’m a sucker for hand-written cards, so I decided to give the salon another chance. Shelby set up my appointment with one of their veteran stylists, Amy, for a Saturday afternoon.

I was equal parts dreading the appointment and ecstatic for it. Dreading it because I didn’t want a similar experience as last time, or worse, awkward because of my last experience. Ecstatic because I was absolutely desperate to fix my hair. I hated it.

The Saturday of my appointment I arrived to another bustling day at Graeber; the front room was just as crowded as the last time I was there. The front desk girls were just as kind and bubbly, even apologizing that there was no room on the waiting bench. The first pleasant surprise of the day was when a super happy girl, Hailey, came out to introduce herself as Amy’s assistant. That’s right-an assistant! I felt relieved as soon as I met her, because I assumed this meant I wouldn’t be sitting on a wall somewhere with color in my hair for over an hour as my stylist did another guest’s hair. Plus, she was so bubbly and happy to be there that it was hard not to be happy around her.

The second pleasant surprise was when Hailey took me over to Amy’s station. Her chair is in the very front corner of the salon and is MUCH more private and a little larger than the other stations. It has the feel of a one-on-one appointment, rather than sitting in the middle of a giant warehouse. I’m sure everyone has their preferences, and mine is NOT to be in the middle of a giant, busy room so everyone can see you. I absolutely loved that Amy’s station was private-it almost felt like she had her own mini-salon. After my first appointment at Graeber I thought I had decided I wasn’t a “hair salon” type girl, but sitting in Amy’s station didn’t feel near as much like I was in a salon, even with how busy it was that day.

Once sitting down in Amy’s chair and talking about what our options/next steps were for my hair, I felt much more at ease. I was immediately drawn to Amy and Hailey and felt our personalities meshed well. The pleasant surprises continued when, before starting on my hair, Amy had Hailey take me into a room to change out of the sweater that I was wearing. I changed into a cape-shirt. That’s not actually the name of what I changed into I’m sure, but that’s what I call it because it was a cross between a stylist’s cape and a shirt. I didn’t even know this was an option, but I’m sure glad they let me wear it! I was much more comfortable wearing the cape-shirt and I knew my sweater was safe from getting dye on it hanging up in the closest.

I went back and sat down at Amy’s station where she then put on an actual cape-double protection from the scary dye! Hailey was very attentive throughout the entire appointment readjusting the cape to ensure it was always covering my pants. Probably one of my most favorite things about the appointment (other than getting to spend several hours getting to know two amazing ladies) was Hailey offering to give me a hand massage while Amy was putting the lifter in my hair! It was SUCH a nice addition to the appointment. Plus-it’s a great way for them to advertise different Aveda lotions. 🙂

Since my hair was so dark from my last appointment (even though it had lightened quite a bit from our Cabo trip) we didn’t have a lot of options. Plus my hair was already damaged from the last dye job, so Amy had to be careful and limit breakage around my face, since that’s where the hair was darkest. In four hours they applied a color lifter, washed the lifter out, dried my hair, applied some lighter red/caramel blonde color, washed that out, applied a gloss, and each time using nourishing shampoo and conditioner. Amy also had to cut about three inches of length off, which I was sad about, but my hair feels healthier now. The color is still a little more brown in places than I would like, but it’s SO much better and in most lights I look like a redhead again! I’m impressed with what she did in just one appointment, but I’m also anxious for my next appointment and to continue to get rid of all traces of the brown color. The darkest spots are right around my face and underneath, so you can mostly only see this when I wear my hair back.

In summary, Amy and Hailey were both so wonderful, I can’t say enough good things about them. And I especially loved Amy’s station. Perhaps I could be a “salon type” girl. 😉


I apologize for the poor quality and lighting, but here is a little reminder of the drastic change my poor hair went through the last time at Graeber.


Current hair!


Graeber | DitchingNormal




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Reviews Travel

Solmar Resort Review – Cabo

December 1, 2015

For Thanksgiving week we decided to ditch the normal cold weather and turkey tradition for getting a tan on the beach in Mexico! Yep, we are totally that couple from the movie Four Christmases. Except we were honest with our families what we were doing.

We decided to stay at the Solmar Resort for a number of reasons. 1. Affordability 2. Familiarity (several of the guests at our wedding stayed there) and 3. They offered an all-inclusive package.

Mat was especially excited about the all-inclusive, because that is the one part about travel that he struggles with-always being hungry. Well, I can assure you, that definitely didn’t happen this trip.

We got in pretty late at night, so all of the restaurants on the resort were closed, which meant we had to order room service for our first dinner. We found out that room service wasn’t included in the all-inclusive package. Bummer. But we found out that because we had the all-inclusive, we did get a 25% discount on room service. Not as bummed now.

I was so exhausted from traveling that I honestly don’t remember the first meal that night from room service. Is there such a thing as sleep eating? If so, that’s what I did.

We woke up refreshed on our first morning and were psyched to finally be on vacation! We of course went straight to breakfast. For my first meal, I had basically an ice cream cone with two mimosas. Not a bad start. The meal I ordered was actually waffles with a side of ice cream, but since they didn’t bring us syrup, I put the ice cream on top of the waffles. Basically a waffle cone.

It took us a couple of days to figure out which meals we liked and which we didn’t. By the end of the week, we were getting the same thing for breakfast and dinner each day. Lunch and mid-day snacks (hey, you can’t expect us to eat only three times a day at an all-inclusive) were a little trickier. We never did quite find anything that we liked well enough to order it again.

We aren’t going to lie, the food isn’t fantastic, but it’s not terrible either. And it’s available anytime between 6 a.m.-10 p.m.

We didn’t try too many different drinks either. Similar to the meals, once we found something we liked, we stuck with it. We had so many pina colladas and mimosas that I think I lost count.

I was impressed that they had fresh juice-but only two kinds: green and orange. And that was seriously the name of the juice. Green Juice. I’m still not sure what was in it (we think kiwis and cucumbers) but I really liked it. It was fresh and sweet at the same time.

The staff of the Solmar were all very friendly. We of course had a favorite waiter, Emmanuel. I’m not sure if we loved him because he was polite and attentive or because we saw him accidentally whack an annoying lady in the head with an umbrella. Either way, he was our favorite. We also loved one lady in particular out by the pool. I especially loved her because she told me that having children was like having a nightmare that lasts forever and you never get to wake up. We laughed so hard! I appreciate the honesty, Irene.

They of course had one “Activities Leader” that, well, led the activities. The resort offered daily Spanish lessons, water aerobics, bracelet making, board games, casino, etc. At the beginning of the week I was very excited and motivated to participate in all of the activities. But as the week drug on, I just wanted to lay in the sun and have Irene bring another round of pina colladas.

The day that there was a “tropical storm” (it was just rainy and windy-not deserving a tropical storm category) I did make a bracelet. The Activities Leader was very kind and attentive to all the guests. He helped me make a bracelet and gave Mat a “special drink” for winning some silly guessing game (guessing how many pages were in a book the activity leader was holding). I call it silly because I didn’t win. Mat now thinks he is a local legend, “El Mateo-Counter of Pages”.

The day it rained I also decided to try out one of the resort’s spa services. Since we had the all-inclusive package, that meant we got an extra free 30 min if we booked a massage. I of course booked a massage. The prices were ok, I guess, depending on what you are used to and what your expectations are. I got a 90 minute massage for $100. That seems pricey because you can get massages in town for $20 (or so I have heard). However I wasn’t in the mood to go traipsing around downtown Cabo looking for a place across the street from a bar called The Laughing Donkey. I also didn’t feel like being uncomfortable/unsafe during my massage, so I chose the lazy/more safe/more expensive option.

The massages are given in these adorable little huts made of what look like twigs at the end of the property line for the resort, looking out over the ocean. Sounds amazing and relaxing right? Well, yes and no. It is amazing if there is nobody on the beach and nobody in the resort hot tub, which is located right beside the huts. Lucky for me, it was raining so there weren’t many people on the beach or in the hot tub, so it was actually nice. The massage itself was fairly standard to other massages I have had in the states. Other than the whole armpit massage thing. And the ringing of some chimes. But other than that, pretty standard.

Overall, we enjoyed our vacation, but decided that maybe five days, not seven, of all-inclusive would have been sufficient.

See our ratings below, based on our four lemon scale:

Room/Grounds –

3 Lemons Rating





2 Lemons Rating




3 and a half Lemons Rating


Porch-Toes-Solmar Resort

Porch-Sunset-Solmar Resort

Mat-Toes-Pool-Solmar Resort

Lacey-Breakfast-Solmar Resort

Breakfast-Solmar Resort

Lacey-bracelet-making- Solmar Resort

Solmar Resort -Beach-View

Solmar Resort-SuiteLacey-Patio-Solmar Resort

Mat-Plank-Solmar Resort

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LunchBox – A Waxing Salon

November 11, 2015

In all of my 28 years, I have never waxed any part of my body until a couple of weeks ago. Well I guess that’s not entirely true. Once in junior high my mom tried an at home eyebrow waxing kit on me…maybe that’s why I have steered clear ever since.

I’m not sure if it’s my new brunette persona taking over, making me more brave, or if I’m finally just getting tired of shaving and that pushed me over the edge. Whatever the reason, I found myself booking an online appointment at LunchBox – A Waxing Salon.  I chose LunchBox for a couple of reasons. 1. I have heard fantastic things about them (I have a friend of a friend that has been involved since the opening of the first store) and 2. Location. I can walk to their downtown location, and being the anti-driving person that I am, this was the real reason I chose LunchBox.

Well, lucky for me it worked out!

LunchBox’s website makes it super easy to book an appointment-so easy in fact that before I knew it, I had already booked a bikini session (starting small, definitely still terrified of a Brazilian) before even talking to anybody that worked there or knowing who I had made the appointment with! My original plan was to schedule the appointment, then give the salon a call to talk about what to expect, how I should prepare, etc. Well, I got busy and never did call, so I just showed up a few minutes early hoping for the best.

Their reception/lobby area is very chic and clean. Actually, the entire space had a clean feeling, and not the “hospital clean” that evokes memories of sterile smelling tools, but more of minimalist clean. My favorite.

The space consisted of lots of crisp whites, straight lines, muted silvers and a little pop of pink here and there, you know, for femininity I suppose. And my favorite-a big brick wall. If you have been to our condo you can understand why I love this.  I walked in and was immediately greeted by a very friendly lady. When I told her my name, she mentioned that she noticed this was my first time at LunchBox. I’m not sure why, but I always appreciate when a company recognizes when it is a customer’s first time; it makes me feel like the business cares and knows about their clients. Maybe they just do it to make sure they have the correct paperwork, but whatever the reason, it makes me feel appreciated.

I was given a few minutes to sit and complete some paperwork, and then was taken back to the room where the terrifyingly painful event would happen. She asked if I had any questions since it was my first time, I of course had a million. I also let her know I was super nervous as I don’t have a very high tolerance for pain. She was extremely sweet answering my questions and addressing my concerns; I never felt rushed, even though I knew my appointment was only for a total of 15 minutes. She let me know that I could keep my own undergarments on if that would make me feel more comfortable, but to be aware that wax may get on them. If I preferred, I could change into the disposable underwear that they provided (which were held on the counter in an adorable glass container). She also let me know that I could use a “refresher wipe” (sorry if this is too much info) if I wanted, and that she would give me a few minutes of privacy to get ready.

When she came back in and started to get to work is when I was really impressed. She had me lay on my back and guided my legs into the different positions needed to apply the wax. She would check in periodically to make sure the temperature of the wax was still good, but other than that, the rest of the time she held the conversation to keep me preoccupied I think. I was too nervous and anxious to come up with any questions (or even intelligent responses), so thankfully she was really good at carrying on the conversation and working quickly at the same time.

The entire process went so quickly that I couldn’t believe when we were done! I’m not going to lie, getting waxed is not nearly as enjoyable as getting a massage, but LunchBox made it as painless as possible. I’m not entirely sure how they do it (I was too scared to watch the process), but it has something to do with applying pressure and some sort of product right after a strip is ripped off that diminishes the pain. I also assumed the entire thing to be so awkward because, let’s face it, it’s a pretty awkward service and I’m one of the most awkward people I know. But it wasn’t weird or embarrassing at all! I was so happy with the service: my wax specialist was kind, warm, reassuring and her service was efficient, fairly painless (considering the service), and very successful.

When checking out after my appointment was over, she let me know what I should do and should avoid for the next several days in order to get the best results. She also used some medical terminology about my skin’s healing process, which was impressive and totally won me over. She explained products they offer, but didn’t try to push them on me at all, which in turn worked in her favor. She mentioned what they offered and what I might want, but if I already have a product similar, there is no need to spend additional money on it. I also think it’s brilliant that they offer a “travel bag” for their products, which are all airplane security approved and come in the most adorable packaging. Each of their products has their logo, which is a brilliant and simply designed stick figure female with a product-specific pose.

To sum up, I scheduled a second appointment (which conveniently landed two days before we leave to Mexico) and even purchased a body exfoliate. I’m excited for my next appointment at LunchBox!







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Graeber Salon and Spa

November 1, 2015

**See update as of 11/14/15 at the bottom of this post.

I decided to try a new hair salon in downtown Boise, and after a lot of research and asking around, I made an appointment with Graeber Salon. Little did I know at that time how big of a mistake that was.

In my research I found that Boise Weekly had named Graeber best salon for the last several years. Also, I had several people say they got their hair done there or knew people who did and were satisfied.

If you follow us on Instagram or here on the blog, I’m sure it’s very obvious that I’m a natural redhead. Always have been. This means I’m pretty limited with what I can do in terms of hair color. I had been feeling the itch to attempt a little bit richer of a red for fall, which led me to making an appointment at Graeber.

Even with my research and referrals, I was still a bit nervous and hesitant about trying out a new salon. I made sure to prepare in advance by talking to friends in the field about the correct terms to use (i.e. “sombre”, “balayage”, etc.) as well as gathered specific pictures that depicted what I was wanting to achieve.

Basically, I wasted my time with all that prep work. Sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ll explain my experience from start to finish.

My appointment was scheduled for 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning. I arrived a few minutes early and was greeted by a young lady at the front desk. There were already several other women standing in the cramped waiting room full of Aveda products. When my stylist came out to meet me, she asked if I would like either water or coffee to drink. This was definitely a nice gesture and exemplifying pretty good customer service, so I started to relax a little.

Red Hair Inspiration | DitchingNormal

This was the richer hue of red I was wanting to try. I told the stylist somewhere between this color and what I currently had.

When I sat down in the chair, she asked about what I was wanting for today. When I had called to schedule the appointment, I let the girl on the phone know that I was seeking a balayage with a richer color on top, so I reiterated this info to the stylist. I also pulled out my phone and showed her pictures, explaining that the first one was the balayage I had last year that I loved, but I felt a bit more daring this year and wanted to try something perhaps similar the second photo for the top of the  balayage.

After a few minutes discussing this, she said she would go mix up the color and be back to apply it.

EEK! I was so excited at this point. The next several minutes were spent with the stylist working like a mad scientist slapping color all over my head. She was extremely sloppy about it, but I think that is only because she was feeling rushed. The front desk girl came back to her station 2-3 times to give her updates on her next client. i.e. “Your next client is on her way.” Then ten minutes later, “Your next client just arrived.” I think these updates and the fact that she was a little behind schedule all led to the stylist feeling rushed which in turn made her sloppy.

So sloppy in fact, that she got a giant glob of dark dye on the side of the chair I was sitting on and a giant glob on the cape I was wearing. I believe this is what led to dark dye being splattered all over my favorite jeans. Yes, of COURSE I wore my favorite jeans to my hair appointment-I was prepared to walk out of there feeling fabulous! I wasn’t aware that I needed to wear my paint clothes to go to the best salon in Boise. Not only did she get dye on the chair, the cape and my pants, somehow it also got on my leather purse, which was sitting on a second chair at her station a couple feet away. I saw later there was also dye on her mirror. I pointed out all of the dye she had gotten on my pants and she tried to get the splatters out with hair spray, but that didn’t even make it fade. She even made the comment “It looks like you weren’t even wearing a cape!”

After she had painted my ENTIRE head (I went in for a balayage, remember, which does not require all over color) and my hair was dripping with dye, she let me know that she had another client and I would need to sit in a waiting chair while she attended to her next client. At this point I also noticed that there was dye all over my hand as well. That shit was everywhere. I glanced around to find an open chair while trying not to get dye in anymore places on my outfit. I asked if I needed to move my personal items from the second chair at her station (I had my purse, coat and scarf on the second chair). She said yes I would need to, but didn’t offer to assist me with it, even though I had dye all over my hands and my hair was dripping with dye.

I grabbed my personal items with the hand that didn’t have dye on it and walked to a waiting chair. It was at this point I realized she hadn’t clipped my hair up at all, and my hair is longer than the cape covers in the back. Since my pants and purse were already ruined, I wanted to at least try and save my shirt, so I sat very awkwardly stiff and tilted my head back slightly so as to not have the ends of my hair touch the back of my shirt. I sat like this for OVER AN HOUR as I watched her cut and style (and give a neck massage) the hair of her other client. I don’t have a lot of experience with this, but from asking around and in the few I’ve had, I have never heard of a stylist leaving color on for over an hour. I don’t think she would have left it on that long if she hadn’t had a client scheduled at the same time as my appointment. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all about efficiency, but I’m also about customer service. There are so many ways this could have been handled better (even just helping me with my purse and coat would have helped).

When my stylist was finished with her other client, she took me over to the sink to wash out my color. When I was sitting back in the seat in front of the mirror I started to have a little mini panic attack (I’ve never actually had a panic attack, but I totally freaked out on the inside). The color on my previously strawberry blonde hair was BLACK. Or so it appeared to me. Never in my 28 years have I ever been anything but a redhead. I was in shock, and not in a good way. She asked what I thought about the color and I just started shaking my head “no” and let her know that it was too dark. She assured me that it looked dark just because it was still wet and once she started to dry it, it would lighten up and be red. I didn’t say anything and just crossed my fingers she was right.

I watched in the mirror as she dried my hair and it stayed dark. Super dark. With not a hint of red in it. When about half of my head was dry, she asked again what I thought of the color. I blinked back tears like a little kid and told her it was way too dark and not what I had asked for, as there was no red to be found. Her response was very defensive, stating that she “thought it looked good”. I am not a confrontational person, so I just sat silently for the remainder of my appointment, blinking back tears like I was 6 and someone had just stolen my favorite toy.

By the end of the appointment once she had trimmed my hair and finished my blow out, I think she had come around and felt a little bad. She offered to set up another appointment to try and fix it (umm, no way I’m going back and spending MORE money at that salon). She also tried getting the dye out of my pants with pure rubbing alcohol, but that didn’t work either. She gave me her personal phone number and said if I couldn’t get the dye out at home, she would buy me a new pair of pants. I give her credit for that one, but I’m sure she knew I wouldn’t take her up on that offer. How awkward would that be?! I can see it now….”Hey, remember that girl whose hair, pants and purse you ruined? The one who cried in your stylist chair? Yeah, that’s me and I would like you to buy me some new jeans.” No thank you I would rather not.

I will also give her credit (kind of) for only charging me for the color and not the trim. The only reason I’m giving her partial credit is because it was a nice thought to not charge me for the trim, however she shouldn’t have charged me anyway because my hair is still full of split ends. I think she trimmed maybe 4 hairs total on my head. Oh but don’t worry she dyed ALL of them the wrong color.

I was checking out and paying at the front desk when the overly chirpy front desk man asked how my appointment was. In my head I was screaming “My hair is ruined, my pants are ruined and my purse is ruined. How the hell do you THINK my appointment was!?!?!” But instead I responded with “It was ok.” Then tipped over 20% and sprinted home to cry to my husband.

I originally wanted to write this post as documentation of a weird (hopefully funny in the future) instance in my life, but I turned it into a review of Graeber. I did this because a few days after my appointment I wrote them an email just to let them know about my experience. Want to know what they said back? Nothing. Not a damn word. Not even “Oh sorry about that.” I’m not asking for a refund, although I think it’s definitely deserved, but to not even acknowledge the terrible experience I had? That’s not very good customer service, and from what I experienced, I have no idea how they are the number one salon in Boise.

Needless to say I have an appointment to get my hair fixed, and it is NOT with Graeber.


**As an update, the co-owner of Graeber contacted me on 11/3 and offered a complimentary color fix. They also refunded me in full for my appointment as well as provided a gift card to replace my ruined pants.

Graeber Sign | DitchingNormal

Graeber Sign | DitchingNormal

Lacey Before | DitchingNormal

This was the balayage I had done last year and loved.

Lacey After | DitchingNormal

This was taken after I cried on my walk home from the salon. I was mourning the loss of my strawberry blonde hair.

Graeber Stained Pants | DitchingNormal

This picture only shows half of one of my pant legs. The dye got all over both thighs.

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Best Coffee in Boise

October 11, 2015

Today for “Sunday fun day” we wanted to try out several local downtown coffee shops to make our decision as to who has the best coffee in Boise. We decided to review on three criteria: 1.Taste 2.Service 3.Ambiance. Since we usually go to the same places and order the same things, we instead asked the barista at each location to recommend a drink for us. We are by no means experts (although we do have a combined experience of 12 years in the service industry, so that has to count for something, right?) but just wanted to get out and experience what coffee in downtown Boise is all about!

Stop #1-Big City Coffee

What was suggested: Bit O’ Honey ($3.70)

  1. Taste: We couldn’t really taste the honey, but we could definitely taste the cinnamon. The amazing homemade whipped cream added a buttery taste as well. This would be the perfect Christmas Eve drink. Best pastry selection ever, but sadly we were only there for coffee today.
  2. Service-The young girl at the cash register was very friendly and helpful when we asked for her suggestion.
  3. Ambiance-Big City is quite casual, family friendly, and obviously where people go to be social with each other. The furniture is set up so you may even share a table with strangers! There was country music playing and the coffee was brought out in a large, rustic mug, which is fitting with the rest of the rustic decor. Think Lumberjack’s scraps of wood meets an interior designer and you get Big City!

Big City Coffee | DitchingNormal

Big City Coffee | DitchingNormal

Big City Coffee | DitchingNormal

Big City Coffee | DitchingNormal


Stop #2-Flying M

What was suggested: Chai latte ($7 for two)

  1. Taste-This latte tasted of all things fall; very pumpkin spice-ish, frothy and sweet.
  2. Service-The trendy barista was also friendly and helpful.
  3. Ambiance-Flying M is more than just a coffee shop, they also have a mini gift shop! As a whole it is very eclectic and seemed to have a more narrow audience (college crowd). Our chai lattes were served in the tiniest of paper cups as techno music played quietly enough for the college kids to study their flash cards. And for one guy to focus on his knitting.

Flying M Coffee | DitchingNormal

Flying M Coffee | DitchingNormal

Flying M Coffee | DitchingNormal

Flying M Coffee | DitchingNormal

Flying M Coffee | DitchingNormal

Flying M Coffee | DitchingNormal


Stop #3-Java

What was suggested: Hazelnut latte ($2.75)

  1. Taste-Very hazelnut-y, lots of foam but not as sweet as the chai latte from Flying M.
  2. Service-The nonchalant barista was friendly but less enthusiastic. We are still confused why she didn’t suggest their signature mocha, Bowl of Soul. They even have “bowl of soul” in their official website name (
  3. Ambiance-There was a good mix of patrons there for social reasons as well as those being studious. There were even some business casual people, possibly conducting meetings or interviews. We saw several backwards hats and beanies, listened to contemporary/reggae music, while looking at Andy Warhol paintings and pretty chandeliers.

Java Coffee | DitchingNormal

Java Coffee | DitchingNormal

Java Coffee | DitchingNormal

Java Coffee | DitchingNormal

Java Coffee | DitchingNormal

Java Coffee | DitchingNormal


Stop #4-Dawson Taylor

What was suggested: Cinnamon latte ($3.71)

  1. Taste-This latte was also frothy (not as frothy as Java), sweet, and tasted like a cinnamon hot chocolate. This would also make a very good holiday drink.
  2. Service-The free spirited young barista was very happy and helpful (obviously a trend in Boise), and was the only one who asked what we liked before making a recommendation.
  3. Ambiance-The vibe at Dawson Taylor was more serious, seemingly independent studiers; we are guessing everyone was doing homework for their masters or writing novels. Our last stop seemed less social and probably the most mellow of the four. One half of the shop was full of one person-per table students and/or novelists with track lighting for artwork on the wall. We enjoyed the smooth funk music, the gorgeous tile art on the counter and the (literally) front row seats to people watch on 8th street.

Best Coffee in Boise

Best Coffee in Boise

Best Coffee in Boise

Best Coffee in Boise

Best Coffee in Boise

Best Coffee in Boise


Below are today’s winners in each criteria:

Best Taste (from what was recommended to us) – Flying M’s Chai Latte

Best Service – Dawson Taylor (the barista was happy and engaged with our likes/dislikes)

Best Ambiance – Big City Coffee


Do you have a favorite downtown Boise coffee shop? What is your favorite drink to sip on?

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Reviews Travel

San Francisco Continued…

October 4, 2015

Our second full day in San Francisco was just as action packed as the first. I am a lover of Full House, so of COURSE I wanted to picnic in Alamo Square just like the Tanners. I knew the day was going to be good when we scored an amazing parking spot right at the entrance to the park. Before sitting down and enjoying the view, we walked just a block around the corner to grab some food at The Mill-which is famous for it’s $4 slices of toast. That’s right, $4 for a slice of toast. Mat and I went all out and each had a coffee, then we shared the Country, the Whole Wheat Sesame Poppy and an amazing strawberry filled doughnut. I’m pretty sure the total was $47 or something.

After breakfast from The Mill and hanging out in Alamo Park, we continued with the Full House theme and went to find the actual house the Tanners lived in. It was a little anti-climactic because the current owners had re-painted the house, most likely to deter crazies like us from stalking them and taking pictures all day. Well, the joke is on them because of course we still loitered and took pictures.

I have a friend who lived in San Francisco for a few years, so she had told us  to attend Off the Grid-a giant, local food truck party that had a bar and a live DJ! I guess this event happens a few times a week in different locations. This was maybe one of my favorite things we did while in San Francisco. We made our way to The Presidio (scored another amazing parking spot) and of course ordered a mimosa and Moscow mule immediately. We then laid in the grass, soaking up Vitamin D all afternoon and mingled with the locals. This event reminded us of Boise-just a little bit larger scale because it was family (and dog) friendly and really laid back.

We ended the day by dressing up a little fancier and having cocktails in the most amazing lounge, The View. Oh. My. Gosh. The views from the 39th floor of the hotel were AMAZING. When we first arrived we grabbed a little table that was just back from the window, with the obvious hope to poach the table that was right next to the window as soon as the people currently sitting there were finished. Our little plan worked! I would say this is an absolute must when visiting San Fran. Even if you don’t want to sit and enjoy a cocktail, I still suggest taking the elevator up and checking it out.

Our last morning before flying out we wanted to check out a couple rooftop gardens. Our favorite was at the top of the One Kearny building. We spent the morning soaking up the sun and drinking our coffee with more gorgeous views of the city.









The Full House house.


This is me mingling and blending in with the locals.




This is the building where we stayed….AND where we met almost 9 years ago!



The View Marriot San Francisco | DitchingNormal






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Reviews Travel

First Day in San Francisco

September 30, 2015

Muir National Park | DitchingNormal

Our first day in San Francisco was filled with some action packed day dates.  Lacey and I hadn’t ever explored San Francisco prior to last weekend, so we were really excited to see what all of the fuss was about.  San Francisco is also a particularly special place for Lacey and I because it is the city where we first met (9 years ago).

First stopMuir National Park

This wasn’t originally on my list of places to go, but after 3 of our friends labeled it a “must see” when visiting SF, we were convinced.  It took us about an hour to get to Muir from the city.  When we arrived, parking was a shit show.  People were parking as far as 2 miles away from the entrance to the park.  When we realized this was our fate, I looked at Lacey and said “I’m not spending my whole f***ing day driving in circles for a spot, so lets just head back to the city.”  As soon as I started driving away from the park, we noticed an empty parking area 2 blocks distance above the park entrance.  We couldn’t spot any No Parking signs around so that’s where we left our tiny crap box rental car for a couple hours.  Scored big time with that parking spot.

For the park itself, don’t get me wrong, it was absolutely beautiful and amazing.  The trees were enormous (some 40ft wide) and the surrounding nature complimented the trees perfectly.  That being said, I think the fact that Lacey and I grew up in Idaho and around scenery similar to this our whole lives, we were a little less amazed than some of the “city-folk” that were visiting the park that day.  Still a great park, but I don’t think I’d label it as a “must see” when visiting SF.

Side note, we accidentally visited Muir National Park on National Park day…which explains the insane crowd and crazy parking situation.  But!…we got in for free in honor of the holiday 🙂

Muir National Park | DitchingNormal

Muir National Park | DitchingNormal

Muir National Park | DitchingNormal

Muir National Park | DitchingNormal

Muir National Park | DitchingNormal

Muir National Park | DitchingNormal

Muir National Park | DitchingNormal

Muir National Park | DitchingNormal

Second StopThe Cliff House (for lunch)

I found this place while Google searching “best views in SF” before our trip.  We were not disappointed.  The restaurant/bistro is located on the cliffs (obviously), overlooking Ocean Beach on the northwestern corner of the city.  I would highly recommend checking this place out during your next visit.  Most of the tables are located next to the windows where you’ll have prime views of the ocean, pedestrians, and surfers.  Lacey and I enjoyed some delicious coffee drinks served by a woman who had been working at The Cliff House for over 50 years.  Tons of cool history linked with this place.

Ocean Beach | DitchingNormal

The Cliff House is the white building in the top right

Ocean Beach | DitchingNormal

Cliff House | DitchingNormal

Cliff House | DitchingNormal

Third StopThe Golden Gate Bridge

Ah, yes. The Grand Finale for Day 1 in San Francisco.  After lunch, we headed straight to the bridge.  We found some free parking about 3 blocks south of the bridge which also linked to a cool trail that led us down to the bridge.  While I was excited to visit the bridge, I didn’t expect it to be as cool as it ended up being.  First off, the bridge is beautiful in person.  Pictures don’t do it justice.  Secondly, you can walk or ride your bike across it where you’ll find amazing views of downtown, Alcatraz, and the rolling hills of the neighborhoods around the city.  The walk across the bridge is even more exciting because it is usually windy and there is a ton of traffic buzzing by you the entire time.  Gives it a little element of danger.  If you’re afraid of heights, this walk will test your will a little bit too.  Lacey ended up getting a little dizzy when we went.  I would definitely list walking/riding across the Golden Gate bridge as a “must see”.  If you go to SF, you need to go to the bridge.

Golden Gate Bridge | DitchingNormal

Golden Gate Bridge | DitchingNormal

Golden Gate Bridge | DitchingNormal

Golden Gate Bridge | DitchingNormal

Golden Gate Bridge | DitchingNormal


Day 1 in San Francisco was awesome.  Stay tuned to find out how Day 2 went.  It involves arguably even better views than our first day.

Have you been to SF? Did you check out the same spots we did? Let us know what you thought!

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Bleubird Cafe

September 24, 2015

For my birthday my team at work took me out to lunch at the most adorable spot in downtown Boise, Bleubird. This hidden gem serves amazing sandwiches, salads and soups…but there is a catch-it’s only open Monday-Friday from 11 am-5pm!

The decor is on point, great ambiance, and most importantly, delicious food! I can’t wait to take Mat there; he is going to LOVE their Italian sandwich.


They serve freshly squeezed drinks (I had the basil lemonade). They even squeeze them at the bar in front of you!






It’s no surprise I ordered the grilled cheese and tomato basil soup-SO good!



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Lifestyle Reviews

Jump Creek Idaho

September 13, 2015

Jump Creek | Ditching Normal

Yesterday Mat and I decided to do a day date to Jump Creek, which is about an hour drive away. You have to pass through the small town of Marsing to get there, which I enjoyed because it reminds me so much of my hometown!

I had no idea this place even existed until the weekend of the 4th of July when a gentleman from Kentucky told me about it. Yes, someone who lives in Kentucky had to tell me about a waterfall in Idaho. I felt like an idiot. I’m so glad he told me about it though, because it was the perfect little day trip and actually really pretty. I think we arrived at just the right time of day, because we basically had the entire place to ourselves. Next time we will make sure to bring water shoes so we can explore a little more.

Jump Creek | Ditching Normal

Jump Creek | Ditching Normal

Jump Creek | Ditching Normal

Jump Creek | Ditching Normal

Jump Creek | Ditching Normal

Jump Creek | Ditching Normal

Jump Creek | Ditching Normal

Jump Creek | Ditching Normal

Jump Creek | Ditching Normal

Jump Creek | Ditching Normal

Jump Creek | Ditching Normal

Jump Creek | Ditching Normal

Jump Creek | Ditching Normal

Jump Creek | Ditching Normal

Lacey having fun with our new Looq Selfie Stick

Jump Creek | Ditching Normal

Jump Creek | Ditching Normal

Ever been to this waterfall? Do you know anyone that has claimed to have jumped from the top? Let us know in a comment.

We have a few friends that claimed they did a swan dive from the top.  Mat and I are calling bs on that one.  I’m not sure you’d live to tell the story about that one.


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Reviews Travel

When in Rome…during tourist season

August 29, 2015

Lacey and I visited Rome during tourist season.  Eek! That being said, it was still awesome.  When we hopped off our train the first day at the Roma Termani station, we were immediately faced with the challenge of busting our way through tens of thousands of people in an attempt to get over to another metro station.  When we finally made it outside the Roma Termani, there were even more people flooding the streets.  There had to have been close to a million people out there.  This couldn’t just be the normal tourist crowd could it?  Turns out the Pope was about to do a service at St. Peter’s and the whole world was going to check it out.

Lacey and I grabbed a quick slice of margherita pizza and started making our way toward the coliseum.  We figured it would be a good day to do that being that it was in the opposite direction of St. Peter’s (where the millions of people were).

Roman Coliseum

the sky is so beautiful there!

Lesson learned #1 in Rome.  If you can pre-purchase tickets to a tourist attraction….do it.  Do it now!  We stood in line for nearly 2hrs at the Coliseum.  If the attraction you are buying tickets online for offers an “express pass”, I would highly recommend dropping a few extra bones on that too.  When you’re traveling to an international location like Italy, your time is worth more that the extra $10 to skip the lines.

Lacey in the Coliseume
Selfie in the Coliseum

Roman Forum

Roman Forum

From the Coliseum, we made our way to the Trevi Fountain through the Roman Forum.  It too, was packed full of people.  For a site like the Trevi Fountain that is kinda romantic, you won’t really get the full experience when there are 15k people smashing in to you and your spouse (another reason to dodge tourist season).  I’m not even 100% sure we dropped a coin in the fountain.  We more or less got there, snapped some pics and GTF outta there as fast as we could.  The main reason for leaving wasn’t the crowd though.  It was because I promised Lacey we could get some gelato at our next stop… the Spanish Steps.

Trevi Fountain. Rome, Italy

Lesson learned #2 in Rome:  Lines don’t mean shit!  If you have a polite bone in your body, you’ll never get anything in a big city like Rome.  After being cut in front of a dozen or so times while trying to order some gelato, I finally started putting my grown-ass American man frame to good use.  Pushing my way to the front with a pissed off look on my face ended up getting the job done.  At one point some lady started yelling at me in Italian.  I was actually kind of excited about this because I wanted to put my newly acquired Rosetta-Stone language skills to use.  She kept saying I wasn’t in the right line.  I turned toward her and yelled “no lo sai! no lo sai!”  She immediately backed down.  The funny thing about this is that I thought I was saying “I don’t know! I don’t know!” kind of apologetically, but what I was actually saying was “YOU don’t know!!”  …I’ll keep practicing.  Nevertheless, the gelato was delicious, and I was Lacey’s hero.

Mat sitting on the Spanish Steps

Still annoyed from the gelato shop interaction

Lacey at the top of the Spanish Steps

see all of the people in the street behind her?

Lacey and I had a nice dinner on a patio later that night and then passed the eff out after such an overwhelming first day.

Lacey on cobblestone road in Rome

post dinner, pre pass out

Mat laying in the hotel

Mat and Lacey elevating feet

elevating the swollen ankles

hotel bathroom Rome

long awaited shower!

Day 2 got off to a much calmer start.  We woke up and ate the food that the B&B provided us (which was delicious and awesome).  Our original plan for day 2 was to check out St. Peter’s Basilica and then pop over to the Sistine Chapel.  Well, following the trend of the previous day, there was a 4hr line to get into St. Peter’s and a 3hr line to get into the Chapel.  Eff!  We agreed that neither of us wanted to spend 5-7hrs in line that day so we decided to pick 1 of the 2 places to visit. I had already been to both sites on a previous trip, so I left it up to Lacey to decide.  She picked the Sistine Chapel.  They don’t let you take pics of the famous Michelangelo painting on the ceiling of the chapel, so the best I could do was a selfie in the hallway.

Selfie in the Sistine Chapel

my “overwhelmed by the crowds of people” face

All and all, the 2 days in Rome were amazing.  We did as much as we could with the time that we had.  Public transportation in Rome is incredibly easy, the food is delicious, the sites are amazing, and the sky is beautiful.  For all of these reasons, I have come to the 3rd and final lesson from the trip to Rome.
Lesson learned #3: Spend at least a week in Rome.  …and keep brushing up on your Rosetta-Stone.

St. Peters Basilica. Rome, Italy

yeah, I took this pic. No big deal.

Lacey in front of St. Peter's Basilica
Ponte de St. Angelo Rome

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