My Top 5 Favorite Places in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho

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I’m taking quite a few trips with my Nana this coming year, but even with a trip to Paris looming on the horizon, this little jaunt to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho was absolutely lovely. We went in early October, so it was definitely not tourist season anymore, and the air was brisk and the leaves were starting to change. It looks more like my old stomping grounds in Oregon than it does the parts of Idaho that I am familiar with. Everything was so green, and the lake, which is much larger than I’d imagined is gorgeous and impressive.

Since it’s only a thirty minute drive from Spokane, WA (a much longer drive from Boise), we flew into Spokane and made our way east. It was a very relaxed trip, but we definitely made the most of it and found some really cute places.

If you’re ever in Coeur d’Alene, these are the places I suggest hitting:

 

Gaiwan Tea House

This little tea house was so lovely. It’s in a remodeled Craftsman style house and is modern and Asian inspired inside. They make lovely tea lattes and they also sell loose leaf tea. But the real surprise was their curry, which was flavorful and full of vegetables.

Natural Grocers

You wouldn’t think a grocery store would make it on a best-of anywhere list, but my Nana and I had a blast shopping here. They had an amazing assortment of natural foods with decent pricing. Their baked goods were lovely (we bought a sourdough pumpkin loaf that we tore in chunks) and they had a great selection of giftable goodies like local soaps and items that had been produced in sustainable ways.

Culinary Stone Cooking Class

This giant kitchen store is really fun if you like kitchen stuff (which I do–I always love looking around these places), and this one is cooler than most since it has a tempting looking gourmet foods section with a small deli and a charming cafe attached.

A lot of big kitchen stores do classes, and this one was no exception. We thought taking a class might be a lot of fun, and we went in to see if there were any openings, but unfortunately they were all marked full on the calendar.

Luckily though, I spoke to the cashier, and she said there was so much interest in one of the classes that another had opened up and there were two spots left, which seemed pretty meant-to-be.

We came early to get a good seat (I highly advise this, since it’s much easier to hear and see and smell in the front), and bought a glass of wine while we were waiting. Patricia Hébert-Jenks, the chef, was French and lovely. She was very charismatic and her description of things tended towards the poetic, like the sound of butter singing in the pan. She urged us to make our own chicken stock and to take our time cooking–food is a pleasure that shouldn’t be rushed.

She made: Velouté de Pois Cassés aux Lardons et Aux Oignons (a velvety pea and potato soup topped with caramelized onions and tiny strips of bacon), Filet Mignon Farci à la Poire et au Romarin (baked stuffed pork tenderloin with shallots, pears, blue cheese, and rosemary), and Poached Pears with caramel sauce, the bottoms of which she filled with rum spiked whipped cream.

The food was so good, the more so for getting to watch her prepare it. And at the end you got to eat it all as well as the little chocolate they gave you to take home. It was the first cooking class I’d ever attended, and I loved it.

I would definitely recommend her class to anyone in the area–but note that they fill up quickly.

Paris Flea Market

The nice thing about antique stores in less busy cities is that they tend to have better prices. It’s also a great way to kill an afternoon, and an activity I love doing while traveling.

This particular antique store had two locations in the city. The original has a giant metal cow out front. Both are a lot of fun to poke around in.

Museum of North Idaho

I’m not usually in love with tiny local museums. I think it’s great to support them (usually the money you spend there goes to support local history work and other worthy causes), but they’re usually really boring and lackluster.

However, this museum, located right on the river, was actually pretty good. They had a number of interesting displays on homesteading, mining, logging, and fire watching, as well as Native American, geological, and military history. It was less expensive to get into than a lot of small museums, and you could spend a good hour there, especially if you watch the film (which we didn’t).

 

 

Have you ever been to Coeur d’Alene? Did I miss your favorite spot? Let me know in the comments.

 

 

Shakespeare in the Park: Much Ado About Nothing in Nampa, Idaho

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Community theater is an amazing thing. I absolutely love watching live theater and I also love Shakespeare, so I was definitely sold on the whole watch-Shakespeare-in-summer thing. Every in Boise there is the Idaho Shakespeare Festival. They were (and are, it’s still going) doing some great plays, but nothing that really stood out to me, and the tickets were quite expensive. So when I found this (free) performance of my favorite Shakespeare play, I leapt at the chance to go. Paul kindly consented to being dragged along.

Performed on Northwest Nazarene’s campus, this production was so much fun. It started with a little pre-show musical version of Hamlet where key plot points were set to songs from The Sound of Music. This was put on by a young group of thespians, who were all under 18.

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The main show was set in Canada around the turn of the century. Don John, the villain, became Dona Joan. She made quite a dastardly plotter, and I quite enjoyed that particular take on the play.

I also loved the way they did the plot summary in the program with the little faces. Isn’t it adorable?

If you’re in or around Nampa next summer, I would definitely advise attending Shakespeare’s Garden as they have a lot of fun with the performance and it’s wonderful to sit outside and watch Shakespeare plays as it gets dark. They sell concessions to help make money for the performance (the homemade brownies we had were great!) and they take donations. It’s a family friendly event, so if you think your kids can sit through a Shakespeare play you should bring them along.

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The first marriage scene in Much Ado. Hero is about to get spurned! Claudio is about to accuse her of not being a maid. Her dad is about to tell her he would rather she were dead than not a virgin. Hero is about to die. Beatrice is about to have Benedict challenge his best friend to a duel. Basically–it’s about to get real. But they look so happy for the moment.

Do you enjoy watching Shakespeare plays? Which is your favorite?

My First Calligraphy Class

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On July 9, I was fortunate enough to teach my first ever calligraphy class with some wonderful ladies. I was contacted about setting up a class via Etsy, and was able to set up a lovely night out for some great gals at The Coffee Studio in Meridian. We had six women show up to try their hand at this wonderful art. They were very patient with me, as I was learning the ropes as much as they were.

In the end I think we all had a great time, and in just two short hours they were really starting to get the hang of the calligraphy pen. Their artwork turned out beautiful; I was as proud as a mother hen. Even though the class was centered around watercolors originally, classic black and white ruled the day with some fantastic results.

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Are you in the Boise area? Interested in setting up a class for you and some friends? Let me know via Etsy or private message me on Facebook!

Idaho Botanical Gardens

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There’s something magical about a garden tucked away in a city. Gardens are places of contemplation and beauty, places that feel slightly apart from time and yet when you’re there you feel connected. I’ve always loved beautiful gardens, so when I found the Idaho Botanical Garden on my birthday, it became one of my favorite places in Boise.

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The garden sits on the grounds of the Old State Penitentiary, so scattered around the garden are placards talking about the history of specific buildings that used to stand there. I found this to be thoroughly fascinating, and I’m looking forward to going on a tour of the prison itself to learn more.

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Separated into different sections, each with their own theme (rose garden, herb garden, English garden, Lewis & Clark garden and so on) there is plenty to discover and learn (there were some children there on a field trip), and I learned quite a bit about Lewis & Clark’s expedition, which was an unexpected bonus.

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Part of the Rose Garden.

Throughout the year, they hold special events, like concerts, in the garden. It’s also one of the most popular spots in Boise to get married, and you can definitely see why.

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The wall of the Old State Penitentiary borders the garden.
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Beautiful orange poppies

If you’re in the area, you really must visit. It’s $7 to get into the garden, but it’s worth every penny. Beyond being beautiful, it’s the perfect spot to read or write and think, with benches around every corner and the sweet smell of roses in the air.

Hiking Table Rock

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Just a few minutes outside of Boise, you’ll find the Old State Penitentiary and the Idaho Botanical Garden, behind which you’ll find trails that lead up to Table Rock, which at around 3200 feet offers amazing views of the city and a wonderful hike.

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Paul and I went up there this weekend with one of his coworkers, his lovely wife, and their baby girl (and if I was pretty tired by the end of the 1.6 mile hike, it was probably nothing to what they felt). After being a little put off by the dead snake at the trail head (it suddenly occurred to me that I had been remiss to not check on the kind of snakes native to this area), it turned out to be a great hike, moderately challenging, but with gorgeous views. We were certainly not alone in our climb, as the area is extremely popular, and there’s a great feeling of camaraderie. It’s very open, and you can see for miles as you climb, rewarded with spectacular views at the summit.

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When we arrived and looked towards our goal, Paul and I noticed a giant cross, which seemed strange and continued to seem strange when we were up close, so I did some research on it. Table Rock was once used by Native Americans as a place for ceremonies and healing rituals, and now plays host to a tall, white cross that overlooks the city. Built in 1956 by the Junior Chamber of Commerce, the Table Rock Cross has been a source of controversy for about 60 years. Though Table Rock is technically on private land, following a small sale of the tiny parcel surrounding it, the circumstances behind the sale were considered a little shady, and there was some talk in 1999 that the sale of land would be found unconstitutional and the cross taken down. However, there was a huge rally to keep the cross in place, and so there it stands. There’s also a giant “B” for Boise painted on rocks on the ground in front of Table Rock that are painted new colors every so often, usually blue or orange for the BSU Broncos. When we were there this last weekend, it was red.

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I appreciate that for many people, the cross is a symbol of faith and its presence is comforting, but in my opinion it distracts from the natural wonder of the area and doesn’t help non-Christians feel very welcome. However, it doesn’t look like it will be taken down anytime soon, so as others have done before me, I’ll just have to make peace with it. The area is beautiful after all, and the views can’t be beat. It still makes my list of one of the top things to do in Boise.

What’s your opinion on the Table Rock Cross?

We’re Back on the Air

Sorry for the radio silence the past couple of weeks; my boyfriend, Paul, and I have just moved to Boise, Idaho from Oregon following his graduation and his first real job (which means I get to keep writing and doing calligraphy). All the moving, and the first week of having no internet meant that posting was just about impossible, but now that we’re all settled in, you can expect Baking for Bookworms to be back along with other posts about Boise and anything else I think of. I’ve got a backlog of book posts to get up (though Goodreads tells me I’m still seven books behind schedule…have you ever heard anything so depressing?).

Thanks for sticking with me if you’re reading this. I really appreciate it.