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ice cream

The Best Gifts for Ice Cream Lovers

The end is nigh and ice cream makes us happy so why the hell not make a list of the ten best ice cream themed gifts you can give. Cone-shaped lip glosses will not do for the ice cream lover you love. Whether your budget is $4 or $400, there’s something on this list that will delight almost everyone.

Give us ice cream (duh). You don’t have to worry about the gift melting before you can give to them. Because of course there are ice cream delivery services. For a monthly fee, you send insulated packages of the good stuff straight to the ice cream lover’s doorstep.

In Seattle, check out Sweet Lo’s Ice Cream Club. Sweet Lo’s is a marvelous small batch creamery and one of the best Seattle has to offer. The club deal is 3 flavors a month for 2 months. $50.

If you’re sending to someone outside of Seattle, check out Ice Cream Source’s Pint Club. They offer several tiers from a variety of brands. Options start at $136.

What I wouldn’t have given for this Ice Cream Tasting Journal over the summer! 33Books’ slim little booklet has preprinted pages to help track the same information for all the flavors tasted. I bought a copy last week; it’s very nicely made, portable, and ready to log my next 91 flavors. $5.

Because bowls are for liars. The Ice Cream Keeper is a kit for assembling your personal, pint-size holder. It’s made to look like a vintage hand-crank ice cream maker and even comes with a padlock. I’m certain the padlock is just for show, right? I mean, who leaves any ice cream in the pint? $10.

Thanks to clever tweeter Donald Li, we now know these Yeti thermoses are just the right size for a pint. There are plenty of pint holders and pint koozies out there, but I like that the Yeti cup pulls double duty with my other ride-or-die food, coffee. $35

Ice Cream sweatshirt. Molly Moon’s taps into the Bluto fashion sense of stating the obvious with this plain sweatshirt. If it’s anything like the matching ball cap I have, it’s soft and sturdy and smells like vanilla. I’m normally pretty salty about $50 sweatshirts, but it’s a gift, so go for it. $50.

Hot Cakes is a Seattle…molten lava cake restaurant. They know their gooey chocolate. I can vouch for the Hot Cakes Organic Chocolate Sauce. Give your ice cream fiend a jar of this creamy, decadent dark chocolate sauce and any scoop becomes gourmet delight. $12.

I love whoever decided to make a bunch of these wooden, vintage-style ice cream signs. Okay, her name is Lisa Harris and she runs a shop called Watermelon Stand over on Etsy. This retro sign can be whimsical decor item or party photo prop or great backdrop for little imaginations. $150.

This Mint Chocolate Chip Scented Ice Cream Cone Necklace! I have no idea how she does it, but you really can’t go wrong with anything from the unbearably cute Tiny Hands shop. Most items are available as keychains, too, if your ice cream person doesn’t do jewelry. $28.

These luggage tags are perfect for the jet-setting ice cream aficionado. Or just to decorate a backpack. Whatever, these are funky. $10 for the set of 2.

When I saw this at my local co-op, I LOL’d out loud. I mean, LOOK AT THEM. The cone and popsicle and truck are dancing. It’s a great place to stash your ice cream money. $4.

Bonus idea! Holidays are rough for families that have a hard time putting enough food on the table. A charitable contribution to a food bank goes a long way—10 times further, in fact—than canned goods. A gift in someone’s name to Feeding America or another food bank helps spread the love now and throughout the year.

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communications, social media, writing sample

How to Respond to Bad Online Reviews

Last weekend, I was visiting Portland, Oregon, home to several indie ice cream shops. As I drove up to one, I saw a line snaking around the corner. I like ice cream as much as the next person (actually, probably a bit more), but at 9 p.m. on a rainy night, I’d found the line I wouldn’t cross–figuratively or literally. I pulled up Google Maps on my phone, dropped a pin, and searched “ice cream.”

My search returned nearly a dozen options, each result showing details like star ratings, reviews, busy times, and links to articles that mentioned the business. I looked up the ratings for one of the shops and noticed a complaint with a one-star review. But beneath that I spotted the owner’s response, followed by an update by the customer, who said the owner made things right–and updated their review to five stars. I drove straight over and grabbed an ice cream with plenty of time before the shop closed.

Bright Local’s 2017 Local Consumer Review Survey found that consumers are increasingly weighting online reviews as roughly on par with personal recommendations. Nearly a third check to see how businesses respond to reviews before deciding where to spend their cash. So while handling online reviews is just one piece of providing good customer service, every small business, startup, and independent consultant needs to get it right. Here are a few tips.

When to Respond and What to Say

Polite responses from business owners go a long way to counteracting negative reviews, but Cara Lageson, Yelp Seattle’s Community Director, cautions, “Don’t go through the review point by point.” All you need to do is “let them know you heard them and offer to make it right. Other people will see you as reasonable and are more inclined to give you a second chance.”

If there’s such a thing as a venerable dive bar, Seattle’s 5 Point Cafe is it. A sign at the door says, “Cheating tourists and drunks since 1929.” Owner David Meinert responds to Yelp reviews with the same tongue-in-cheek approach. “I look for general trends and specific comments,” Meinert said. “If someone says, ‘My steak was burnt and it was awful,’ that’s a legitimate concern and I contact them directly.” If new reviews share the same specific complaint, though, he notes a possible trend. Tempers sometimes run high among reviewers. (“It’s a dive bar,” he reminds me. “People get thrown out all the time.”) So Meinert always gets information from staff first, then addresses complaints with customers.

Chad Draizin, the owner of Fifty Licks, the ice cream shop where I found myself that rainy night in Portland, also makes it a habit to ask for more information. After one recent reviewer said staff weren’t attentive, he said, “I needed to figure out which shop and what time to determine who was working and talk to them.” Draizin responded on the review site and asked the customer to contact him with more detail. “I’m sorry you had that experience. If you’re willing to spend a little more time I’d like to know more,” he wrote. In this case, Draizin said, “I had to let someone go because it wasn’t the first time I had that complaint about them.” He followed up with the customer to say he’d looked into the complaint, addressed it with staff, and thanked her for the opportunity to do better, saying he hoped she’d return another time.

Both Meinert and Draizin make checking reviews a part of their daily schedule, since it gives them a daily pulse on their business and lets them get out ahead of any potential crises.

When to Let Bad Reviews Slide

Sometimes a direct response isn’t needed. “The overwhelming majority of people on the planet aren’t going to come to the 5 Point,” Meinert points out. “I want the people who like it to come.” If a review complains about drink prices, he might respond, “Bummer you thought the prices are too high. Next time, check out our happy hour menu.” The reviewer may not return, but Meinert has effectively advertised another feature of his business.

Draizin said he rarely responds when it’s clear the reviewer expected a different kind of shop. “We’re not a whipped-cream-and-sprinkles place,” he said. “When someone leaves a bad review because we’re not set up for kids, I don’t have anything constructive to say.”

Since 1996, Kate Holly-Clark of Antika Nueva has sold jewelry, soaps, and herbal ointments at local craft fairs and online. She tries to educate her customers before they purchase, especially for herbal products. “I’m upfront that there’s no silver bullet with medicinal herbs,” she says. Holly-Clark’s effort pays off since she rarely receives bad reviews, but when she does, she typically responds “just to see if I can do right by the client.”

Some of Holly-Clark’s customers have updated their reviews after she addressed complaints. In one case, however, it became clear that she couldn’t resolve the issue. She ended the dialogue, but the customer persisted. “Their messages started to become harassing,” she said, “I escalated it to the review site and they blocked the customer.” Each platform has its own process, so look at the terms of service.

If you can’t get the site to remove the negative review, encourage new reviewers. Green Pal matches property owners with lawn care professionals. CEO Brian Clayton told me a bad early review jeopardized word-of-mouth when his company launched in Nashville. When he couldn’t get the review updated or removed, Green Pal switched gears and upped its customer engagement game by sending personalized thank-you notes and chew toys for customers’ dogs. “It really wowed our customers,” said Clayton. “We received personal thank-you notes and photos on Yelp and Facebook.” That early review now looks like an anomaly.

You really can’t please everyone all the time, especially not on the internet. Bad reviews are going to happen. Respond strategically and move on.

Originally published on Fast Company

communications, social media, writing sample

How to Use Slow Times to Update Your Digital Presence

I live in the Pacific Northwest, and winter came in a hurry last week: It snowed here the day after Halloween, and I spotted Starbucks holiday cups in every commuter’s hands at the bus stop. Grumble all you want about brands jumping the gun to market the winter holidays, but the truth is that the out-of-office responses are going to start piling up the week before Thanksgiving and won’t abate until after New Year’s.

Unless the year end is your industry’s crunch period, that means the next few weeks are a great time to clear up some back-burner tasks. Whether you’re an employee, a jobseeker, or a solopreneur, here’s how to get a jumpstart on whipping your email inbox and social media accounts into gear for the year ahead.

  1. Conduct a Year-In-Review, Then Tout the Highlights

Don’t wait for Facebook’s automated New Year’s video to reflect on 2017. Look back through old files and emails, and make note of the good work you’ve done. For years, I’ve kept a folder on my desktop and in my emails labeled “smile file.” Testimonials and accolades are filed there, and then forwarded to bosses before review time. If you’re your own boss, these notes remind you of what you’ve accomplished, and they’re a great jumping-off point for making personal-branding updates.

Add a mention of an award you’ve won to your bio on Twitter, or use clients’ remarks (with their permission) as testimonials on your website. On LinkedIn, update your summary, add new portfolio projects and delete outdated ones, and add any pro bono or volunteer projects you did this year.

  1. Check Who Can See You Do What

Since LinkedIn defaults to making your activity public, you might want to disable that feature, otherwise you’ll alert all your connections to every single update you make:

  1. Click on “Me” in the upper right corner.
  2. Select “Privacy and Settings.”
  3. From there, select “Privacy.”
  4. Change “Sharing profile edits” to “No.”

While you’re there, check your other privacy settings to make sure you have an appropriate level of visibility. While the administrators of Company Pages on LinkedIn doesn’t get alerted when you visit them, individuals do receive a notice that you visited their profile; you can prevent that from happening by adjusting your “Profile viewing options” accordingly. So if you’re conducting a stealth job-search, and weren’t last year, now’s the time to make these changes.

  1. Update Your Profile Photos

All the social platforms you use to connect professionally–LinkedIn, Behance, Twitter, Facebook–should bear your current likeness. Even if you don’t think you’ve changed, it’s smart to update your profile photo anyway. It only takes a minute, so just do it.

  1. Write Recommendations

Take the time to write recommendations for colleagues and ask them to reciprocate. You can recommend people on LinkedIn and businesses on Yelp, Google, and Facebook. You don’t have to wait until you’re no longer working together. Writing the recommendation while the project is fresh helps you capture specifics about their work, which in turn makes for a stronger recommendation.

  1. Give Your Website a Spit-Polish

You don’t need to undertake a complete website redesign. But you do need to make sure your links are still good and your images still display. And if you don’t have a website, now’s a good time to create one. Check out About.meWordPress, or Squarespace for options that start at free, require little technical knowledge, and look professional.

  1. Follow Up After Holiday Parties

You’ll be tempted to leave those business cards in a heap on your desk–don’t! Hop onto LinkedIn and connect. Always include a personal note with your LinkedIn connection requests. Remind them where you met and follow up on anything you offered to send them:

Hi Francesca,

So great to meet you at the Freelancers Meetup holiday party last night. I enjoyed chatting with you about your project. Here’s a link to the that thing I mentioned.

—Allison

That’s all it takes! If it’s more your style to connect on Twitter, great. Set up a Twitter list with a snappy name (“Awesome Folks, Winter 2017,” “Rock Stars I’ve Met” …you get the gist). Keep the list public and add them to it. They’ll get a Twitter alert saying they’ve been added to “Really Cool People.” I’ve set up dozens of Twitter lists for clients, and I regularly see the most engagement from people I’ve added to lists named “Cool People” or “Tweets Good Stuff.”

  1. Google Your Name

Recruiters, employers, and prospective clients will all run searches for your name, so you’ll want to find out what the internet says about you. Search yourself on Google and Bing, and also within Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Consider how the publicly available information portrays you, and adjust the privacy settings of your social media accounts if you need to. For example, if you don’t want your Facebook profile discoverable, got to “Settings,” then “Privacy” to change whether your profile shows up in search results, whether people can find you based on your contact info, and so on.

A colleague recently asked me to talk with someone who was struggling with a job search. The candidate has a long history of leadership in her industry, an outstanding portfolio, and solid references. It didn’t make sense why she wasn’t getting any interviews–until I searched her name. Within the top five results was an old news article about a previous employer, suggesting she’d played a role in the failure of a public works project. She can’t get the article removed, but she can address it proactively in her job search now that she knows how prominent it is. If you’re really in a bind, you can look for reputation management firms for help.

If you run a small business, perform these searches on your company name. Respond to negative reviews on the sites where they appear. Remain polite, thank the reviewer for their feedback, and offer to make it right. Your response will help rebuild trust with the customer and others who see the review.

  1. Make a List of Companies to Follow Next Year

If you’re considering a job change next year, use this time of year to follow potential employers on social media, where many post opportunities before announcing them elsewhere. This also helps you see if you have any contacts who can introduce you to the right people at these companies.

If your Twitter profile is public and you don’t want your current employer to see that you’re following a bunch of competitors, for instance, add those companies’ profiles to a private list. You don’t need to actually follow an account to add it to a list. And if your list is marked “private,” the account you’ve added doesn’t get a notice. Your list effectively functions as a mini-feed of just the posts from the list members.

  1. Get Into an Editorial Habit

Nobody cares what you had for lunch, but no matter what industry you’re in, getting some form of content out there into the world is a great way to set yourself apart. You can keep it small and simply plan to schedule regular posts on LinkedIn or Twitter. Or go big and launch a blog. Whichever you choose, the end-of-year slump is a great time to get onto a regular schedule. Start with once a month and work up to weekly or more after you’re comfortable with the pace. If your website doesn’t have a blog function, LinkedIn, Medium, and WordPress are solid, free options you can explore.

Use the time around the holidays to start drafting posts and preparing them to go live. If I don’t have someone available to proofread my drafts, I like to use to Grammar.ly and Hemingway to check my grammar and style.

  1. Set Up Social Media Automation

At some point, you’re probably going to be out of the office yourself. Automation helps keep your profiles active while you’re away. You can schedule posts across all your social media platforms with freemium tools like BufferHootsuite, or RecurPost.

  1. Start Scheduling Stuff

Now that you’ve done all (or some of) this, it’s time to start thinking ahead about the period after the holidays. Write down your plans, start making calls, and send a few emails. If you get an out-of-office reply, make a note to follow up after their return. In Outlook, you can schedule your message to send later. In Gmail on the Chrome browser, you can schedule send times with a browser plug-in like Boomerang.

With the coming weeks full of family obligations, school closures, and major religious and national holidays, it’s inevitable some of your key partners will be hard to reach. Be patient, and set some calendar reminders for yourself in January so you’ll remember to get back in touch. In the meantime, spend the weeks ahead getting your online presence ready for a happy, productive new year.

Originally published at Fast Company

personal

Make It Better

The music of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers was consummate. I mean that, no matter whether I was wrong or wronged, there was a Heartbreakers song that spoke to me. I once mentioned to my niece Johanna that I was a big Tom Petty fan.

“Yeah, I know,” she said in the “duh” tone of a teenager.

“You do?” I didn’t remember ever talking to her about it.

“We have your old desk in my house,” she explained. That desk was one of a pair of really sturdy, probably now-antique school desks we had growing up. I remembered graffiti-ing it with the names of my crushes.

At the time I used that desk, my bedroom was decorated rainbow window shades. My closet alternated Cyndi Lauper neon and unicorn iron-ons and you’d never mistake my stuff for yours because all mine was personalized. With puffy letters.

I’m saying the music of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers took this girl, who thought the Official Preppy Handbook was a how-to guide:

Unicorn? Check. Hearts? Check, check. Wearing my own name? Check, check, and check. #SoEighties.

… and compelled her, between Algebra and Latin assignments, to grab one of those high-octane silver shadow markers and do this to her desk:

On the upside, those markers really hold up.

I didn’t see Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in concert until 2008. I justified spending hundreds of dollars on floor seats at The Gorge by telling myself it was probably the only time I’d see them live and I’d be damned if I needed binoculars to see the band.

It was an amazing show, of course. I took bad video and photos that do not do justice to sound and experience of being in the middle of that performance.

My Tom and me, with Tom Petty in the background. Really, that’s him!

When the news of his death came out, I called my husband at work. We laughed about the show at The Gorge, how he thought our fourth row seats belonged to someone else. How he was more of a TPHB appreciator than he was a fan — a fact that prompted me to quiz him before I agreed to give him the other ticket. And how at the end of the show he said, “Wow, I can’t believe Tom Petty got Benmont Tench to play with him!”

The little preppy nerd girl who defaced an antique school desk would have traded her entire sticker collection for that show.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers weren’t just musicians, they scored so much of my life: leaving home, falling in love, heart-dragging break-ups, unfair bosses, and better-off-without-you phases. For each of these, there’s a graveled chorus uncoiling from my chest. A bone-born melody to which I know all the words. If I was wrecked, he got me. Having his music with me made it better.

allison wonderland books, art

Book Recommendation: Some Bright Morning, I’ll Fly Away by Alice Anderson

Imagine, if you will, you’ve survived being childhood sex abuse. Imagine, you work to put yourself through college and earn your seat in a prestigious MFA program. Imagine, you’ve taken your experience as a survivor and skill as a writer and turned it into advocacy for other survivors. This would be a story worth celebrating.

This was Alice Anderson’s story. But her celebration was cut short when married Liam.

As we learn in the opening scenes of Anderson’s memoir “Some Bright Morning, I’ll Fly Away,” Liam was controlling and he was cheating on her. In short order, we learn about his progressively worsening OCD. His years verbally abusing her and isolating her from everyone and everything she loves. Soon after the discovery of Liam’s infidelity, he attempts to kill her. Anderson takes us along for every heart-racing turn of her escape, the ensuing custody saga, and long-term impact of the night she was nearly murdered.

Alice Anderson, photo courtesy of the author

Anderson is a gifted writer, in both poetry and prose. In “Some Bright Morning, I’ll Fly Away,” she is conversational and poetic. I powered through reading the book in two days because I had to know what happened next. I can’t recommend this memoir more highly for the story, the craft, and the fist-pumping badassery of Anderson fighting her way out and naming names.

Anderson has a well-developed instinct and she listens to it. She had no shortage of people who supported her. But she endured her fair share of tu-tutting from people who didn’t want to interfere with a parent’s relationship, however violent, with his children. Law enforcement and court personnel who threw up their hands and said, “we know he tried to kill you, but he didn’t hurt the children.”

Anderson shares it all, every infuriating cycle of her ex-husband’s pattern of abuse and the court’s fixation on reunification. A pattern that, ironically, mimics the oft-criticized pattern of a domestic violence victim going back to an abuser. Several times throughout the book, she notes how much easier it would have been to stay.

There are crucial, lifesaving lessons to be learned from her story. For saving ourselves, for saving people we love, and for advocating for vulnerable people in courts. This is a must-read for people who write state and federal legislation around intimate partner violence and family law. It should be required reading for anyone involved with family court. Because while “I’ll Fly Away” is a brutally triumphant story, it’s one that should not have to be told.

Writer Geek Out

Elements of Anderson’s poem The Split appear in her memoir. Poets especially might like the exercise of comparing the book passage with the poem.

Author Interview

There’s great interview with Alice Anderson over at The Rumpus. Check it out: Finding the Finally: Alice Anderson Discusses Some Bright Morning, I’ll Fly Away.

Are you still here? Buy the book already!

Some Bright Morning, I’ll Fly Away was released on August 29, 2017 on St. Martin’s Press. It’s available on Amazon, IndieBound, and probably your local indie bookstore. Get you one!

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ice cream

National Ice Cream Month Round-up: 31 Days, 90 Flavors, 27 Creameries

One Sunday morning last month, I was in a local ice cream shop. A family of four walked in. The youngest, a boy about 3 or 4 years old, walked confidently to the counter then turned to the adults.

“CHOCOWIT!”

He made it three syllables and hopped on each one. His brows arched his eyes to their max diameter as he took a deep breath. “I’m gonna get CHOCOWIT!”

That right there — that feeling that you’re about to get something so delightful it makes you talk with your whole body — that is how I feel about ice cream. I’m not a gourmand or a connoisseur. I just like ice cream.

National Ice Cream Month

My friend Angelique is the most dedicated, year-round ice cream enthusiast I’ll ever know. She posted about getting ready for National Ice Cream Month, and I thought, “A whole month? Why not!”

I aimed for a new ice cream thing every day. Flavor, shop, treat, whatever. I wasn’t picky about it. I kept a daily log of my visits, all archived here.

Gearing Up

It’s not necessary to dress the part for National Ice Cream, but it helps. When you walk into a shop with your hair in an ice-cream-cone-shaped bun, they know you’re not messing around. You might get to spend a couple hours sampling every flavor in the case. Hypothetically.

 

 

 

 

 

I made the shirt at my friend Anne’s house. When we met up for an ice cream outing on the last day, I asked her to use my file and make a matching shirt. We CHOCOWIT!-ed hard that day.

The necklace is my homage to Wonder Woman:

from Justice League: War, gif from venomousbeetle

We All Scream for Ice Cream

As soon as I shared about Day 1, I got recommendations for shops I never heard of. Day 2, more recommendations. On Day 3, my dad sent this text:

Text reads: “Waiting for the flavor of the day. Day 3 of your ice cream tour.”

By month’s end, I was regularly getting photos with messages like “thinking of you” and “have you tried this?”

Sandy ran into my husband, Tom, at work one day. She gave him an ice cream cup and sent me the photo. “Better step up your ice cream game!” While dining at Persepolis Grill, Christine stopped to show me her dessert, an exquisite-looking bastani akbar mashti.

My mom started rating ice creams based on my photos: “I want that” v. “I don’t want that.” My stepmom reported going out for ice cream after seeing my posts. My aunts sent me articles about the history of ice cream.

With this kind of pressure (I kid, I kid), I found and bookmarked the Eater Seattle list of ice cream shops (kudos and thanks to writers Julia Wayne and Adam Callaghan for compiling and updating it). Friends started inviting me on ice cream dates. I started a list. By Week Three, I realized there’s more than enough local ice cream: I could try a new. shop. every. day. In the end, I only tasted one ice cream produced outside Washington state.

By the Numbers

  • 90+ flavors tasted (link to a Google Sheet with flavor:creamery)
  • 29 outings
  • 27 local creameries sampled (link to a Google Sheet with details on creameries sampled)
  • 0 Rocky Road 😔 (Poor Rocky Road! I have no idea how that happened.)
  • 7 shops un-visited. Seven! And counting! CHOCOWIT!

My Favorites

You think you’re going to trick me into naming a favorite? Forget it. I’m not an animal! But here’s a few highlights.

Best Mint Chocolate Chip

Ice cream is one of my favorite foods, obvs. But I have a separate entry for mint chocolate chip ice cream. Two mints wowed me:

Mint Fudge and Chocolate Ribbon at Cupcake Royale. “A good take on mint chocolate chip, perfect if you don’t want crunchy bits.”

Fresh Mint at Ice Cream Social. “Won my heart because it instantly evoked the mint my grandfather grew in his yard. Perfectly creamy and slightly savory.”

Biggest Surprises

Mexican Street Corn at Nue. From my entry:

I asked twice and then I finally said in my best PA accent, “are you saying ‘STREET? CORN?’”

This ice cream is the most interesting thing I’ve put in my mouth since Mooseballs™.

Sicilian Pistachio at D’Ambrosio. From my entry:

I’ve never had such a good pistachio anything, and I’m including actual pistachios in that.

Friends

So many friends and family joined in the fun online and in person. When we broke out the pints at a party, Mary Kaye explained, “We have to, Allison’s doing National Ice Cream Month.” At Parfait in Ballard, Jenna said, “Well, she has to sample. She’s doing Ice Cream Month.” I’m especially proud of this comment from “I’m-not-really-an-ice-cream-person” Megan:

“You keep posting things that make me rethink how I feel about ice cream.”

Dear Ice Cream Illuminati: You’re welcome.

Most Beautiful Scoops

Ice cream is gorgeous any way you serve it, amiright? These scoopers presented the prettiest, scoopiest scoops. Shout out to the sugar cone pedestals for these edible sculptures.

Central District Ice Cream Company

A scoop of Vanilla at Glass Bottle Creamery. I didn’t get a close-up until halfway into the scoop. Oops!

Top 3 Shop Visits

The common thread in these places is the staff people. These shops have friendly folks behind their counters, all ready to give you the most CHOCOWIT! experience possible. They’re knowledgeable about the flavors and ingredients. They recommend flavors. They make you feel like the line behind you isn’t there. And they are excited to share their ice cream with you. Many of the places I visited had some of these elements, but these few went above and beyond, listed here in order of visit:

Ice Cream Social in Tacoma

I noticed a fun vibe as soon as we entered the store. They decor and retail items are all centered on ice cream or Tacoma, there’s ample seating to enjoy inside. Plus great ice cream and friendly staff.

Sweet Alchemy in Seattle’s U District

This is a tough location. It’s small and it’s on The Ave right near campus. But the staff were amazing, very friendly, and were plain joyful about their ice cream.

Snoqualmie Ice Creamery in Maltby

Kaden made my day by letting me sample to heart’s content. I went with my friend Anne and we told him about this being the last day of my ice cream month adventure. So even though they didn’t have a sample board, he let me taste flavors in between other customers. He shared his favorite flavors, told us why, and explained the different formulations (custard, gelato, ice cream, etc). No question stumped him: “What’s ice cream base?” “What three flavors would be the ultimate combo?” “Where’s the bathroom?”

Best Sundae

I only had three sundaes all month (Shug’s, Dick’s, and Molly Moon’s). This section is really an excuse to talk about Molly Moon’s whipped cream. It looks and tastes hand whipped. Well done, ice cream chef and your android-level whisk skills.

The Never-Ending Ice Cream Story

I had a lot of fun sharing. Next year, I’ll plan the month to include road trips to more locations in Western Washington. A small endeavor compared to the magical ice cream unicorns behind the account Ice Cream Trek. They’re touring local ice cream shops the U.S. and Canada this summer. CHOCOWIT!

 

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ice cream

National Ice Cream Month, Day But Wait There’s More

There are so many more shops I didn’t get to visit this month! I’d read about a food truck called Sweet Lo’s. I really wanted to try them—Lo makes the base, and I’m learning this is a thing in the ice cream world. I messaged them on Facebook and Lo herself wrote back to me, explaining they’re just selling in stores right now.

I really appreciated her response. So even though I didn’t get a chance to have an ice cream date with friend at a Sweet Lo’s location, I picked up a pint on my way home July 31st and had a spoonful just to say I tried it this month.

I’m not sorry. This was really effin’ good. (And remember, I’d just been to Ice Cream Heaven earlier in the day.)

Very soft, creamy, and a great balance of cookies. I wish I’d been able to sample more flavors, but I will definitely try more in the coming months.

While I was in the ice cream aisle, I spotted some goodies from a creamery I hadn’t heard of: Whidbey Ice Cream. I got a basic vanilla pop with a chocolate shell. Because dinner, I guess. Whatever, it was also good. If you see it in the store, it’s a good ice cream fix!

ice cream

National Ice Cream Month, Day 31

Snoqualmie Creamery with Anne! Anne was with me on Day 1. We thought it would be fun to finish the month together, too. Anne also has a cutting machine and a tee shirt press. At the end of June, I made my ice cream shirt the same night I made my pizza shirt because they are the top two of my Favorite Eleven Foods. I wasn’t even planning to wear the ice cream cone shirt on Day 1 but Anne’s kids thought the paint stains on my other shirt looked like bird poop.
So when we planned for today, I asked her to make a matching ice cream shirt. She tie-dyed it, too. Can you imagine what a hit we were in Maltby, Washington (pop. 10,000)?
I made this little cake cone thing for my ponytail. Before you ask, no, I did not pinterest it. I imagined it and sketched designs and glued it all on my own. I only burned myself once in the process. Sadly, I forgot to ask Anne the height clearance inside her car or to factor in that my hair in a bun weighs about seven pounds. Between the responsibility of operating someone else’s car and trying to preserve my coif, Anne said, “You’re not a very aggressive driver, are you?”
Between the ride and my impossibly thick hair, the cone slid down all afternoon. Every time I started to take a photo, Anne would say, “Wait! Your cone is flaccid.” They didn’t give us funny looks at the diner. Really.
Once at the Ice Creamery, we tried nearly all the flavors. I was disappointed to learn that they do not offer a tasting flight! However, our server, Kaden, let me sample as much as I wanted. I tasted nearly all the flavors. They had ice creams, gelati, custards, and sorbets.
Anne got a dish with Salty Caramel and Mukilteo Mudd. I got a cone with Peanut Butter Fudge, which I couldn’t finish, because, sampling. It was the second most beautiful scoop I received this month. Also, so you don’t think I’m a jerk, I tipped him 400%.
On the way home, we stopped for water. Anne dug into her change purse for coins. “I have exact change!”
“We have plenty of pennies in the take-a-penny cup,” the cashier said.
“No,” said Anne. “I have a lot of coins.” Anne then hoisted the equivalent of a fifteen-pound kettle ball in loose change.
“Oh! That is a lot of coins,” said the cashier.
“You should have felt this purse before I took out the ten Sacajawea dollars!”
“How did you end up with ten one-dollar coins?” I asked.
“The Tooth Fairy brings them,” said Anne. “Then I exchange them for paper money.”
“Why doesn’t the Tooth Fairy just bring paper money?”
“I don’t know!”
“Anne,” I said, “you know the kids aren’t here, right?”
“UGH!”
Later, we debated whether Kaden spelled his name with one or two Ds.
“It has to be just one,” I said, “that’s the rule!”
“What rule?”
For the next two miles, Anne intentionally mispronounced every street sign and my cone popped off my ponytail.
I’m pretty sure we’re the AbFab of Ice Cream now.
ice cream

National Ice Cream Month, Day 30

Ice Cream Cruise with Tom! I’ve wanted to do this for a couple years and this month was the perfect time to make it happen. It was a great outing for the penultimate day of National Ice Cream Month.
I treated myself to this cap from Molly Moon’s but I’m pretending it’s a thank you gift from the Ice Cream Lobby. (Bonus: it still smells like the waffle cones they make in the store.)
We were married in a restaurant in that brown building.
The boat tools around Lake Union while Captain narrates silly Seattle trivia: the houseboat he almost bought for $600 in 1962, the rusted out Russian spy ship, Dale Chihuly’s bathroom, the Sleepless in Seattle house.
Below deck, the ticket seller/deckhand/ice cream server sells floats and treats. I got a basic ice cream sandwich and Thomas got a Dove bar. We spotted our apartment from the water and had a little “aww” moment when we passed the spot where we got married. It’s a splendid day to be on the water.

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ice cream

National Ice Cream Month, Day 29

Lots of ice cream in today’s ice cream adventure at the South Lake Union Saturday Market.
This is a newish market in our rotating neighborhood farmers markets. It has the feel of being a consolation prize for Amazon employees stuck working on Saturday. It’s only a block long and no fresh produce sold here, just prepared food. Once a month they have a theme and this month it’s ice cream. I was able to taste 3 shops I haven’t been to yet this month.
Sweet Bumpas’ menu
I started with Sweet Bumpas, which several of you have encouraged me to try. I opted for a scoop of the Fresh Mint Cocoa Crumble. I liked the sample, but the flavors were…overpowering for a whole scoop. I also sampled: Chocolate Malt (very good) and Chipotle Peanut Brittle (spicy good).
Perfectly blueberry, perfectly creamy, and perfectly frozen pop.
Next, I tried Seattle Pops. I bought a Blueberries and Cream Pop. Blueberry is one of my Top Eleven Favorite Foods, and this pop didn’t disappoint. It was creamy enough to be sweet and yet not overwhelm the blueberry. It was also iceberg-level-frozen: great for a hot day.
Ice cream sandwich from Street Treats: Snickerdoodle cookies and Coffee ice cream.
I made my way over to Street Treats. They sell ice cream sandwiches and it’s kind of fun to order. You get to pick your flavors on the spot. They give you a generous scoop in between two delicious homemade cookies. I sampled Coffee and Toasted Coconut ice cream flavors. I couldn’t really taste the coconut, probably because my tongue was still thawing from the popsicle. I got a sandwich with Coffee Ice Cream (made with Caffe Vita coffee) and snickerdoodle cookies. So good! Their shop is in the nearby Central District neighborhood, so I’ll be going back. When I went to tip them, I realized that I accidentally dropped my used sample spoons in the tip jar. The owner said, “Eh. They’re as clean as money, right?” So there’s that.
I sat down to eat the sandwich and found myself next to a bulldog. He was in a baby stroller. He was not the only dog in a baby stroller here, but he was the only one wearing a bowtie. Down the block, a busker played the Batman theme song on a violin.
There was a line about 70 people and 3 dogs deep for “rolled ice cream.” Every time I passed, I asked people if it was good. “I dunno! I haven’t tried it yet.” I talked with folks in the line for Hawaiian Shave Ice, and they said that the market doesn’t have the rolled ice cream very often.
“Is it good?” I asked.
“It looks good in pictures,” they said. Sure enough, when I got a closer look at the line, it went: order food, get food, stage photo, exit line. I re-applied my lip balm, which had started to liquefy in my purse, and decided to skip this one.
Being at the street market reminded me of a few icy goodies from back home that I really miss: the waffle sandwiches at Dorney Park and good ol’ Italian Ice from a truck. If you’re in PA, have some for me!
Tomorrow is the long-awaited Ice Cream Cruise—today’s event was accidentally posted as happening tomorrow, so I don’t have to double up tomorrow. Whew! There’s just two more days till the end of National Ice Cream Month. If you haven’t had an ice cream adventure this month, hurry up!