Stay Connected

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Our Big, Fat, Family Vacation

I don't take photos of sights, but instead take them of my children and other people's gardens. So, sorry that I can't show you what Poulsbo, Washington looks like. But I'll share with you some of the highlights.
just across the Sound, but world's away

A little background info

Poulsbo was originally settled by Norwegians in the mid to late 1800s. The common misconception is that these folks came as fishermen. In reality, they came from a farming background, and their main occupation was agriculture.

Poulsbo is on the Kitsap peninsula in Washington state, which means it is across the Puget Sound from the Seattle metropolitan area. It would have been a good couple of days, by horse and wagon, back when first settled. So these people remained a somewhat isolated population. This allowed them to continue with their native Scandinavian customs for a longer period than immigrants to some of the big cities in the US.

my kids on the ferry in the morning
In the US, we tend to think of log cabins as thoroughly American. Where log cabins originated, I do not know. But they were a common house structure for centuries in Scandinavia. The oldest remaining structure in Poulsbo is the Martinson family cabin, built around 1897. It's open for tours and houses equipment and furniture of the original period. We're rather interested in history, so this was quite interesting to us. We were astounded at how large it was. There was a sizable parlor area, plus an eat-in kitchen, open to each other. In addition, there was a loft upstairs for sleeping quarters and a work area for the spinning wheel. I had always thought of log cabins as being quite tiny. After all, if you had to build your own house, wouldn't you make it as small as possible? I would!

We also spent a morning at the historical society's museum. They rotate their displays and while we were there had an agriculture display and a display on one of the original Lutheran churches in the area, built in 1905, still standing. The curator gave us his undivided attention, as apparently, most tourists in Poulsbo prefer to spend their time in the shops and restaurants. Not us, we're history geeks!

the view from our favorite picnic spot in the waterfront town

Now, this may seem odd if you haven't traveled to older areas, or just aren't that into history, but we also spent a couple of hours at this original Lutheran church and the adjacent graveyard. Some of the original residents of the town are buried there. The church sits high upon a hill, above Liberty Bay and the old town. During midday, their bells play beautiful music for a couple of hours, which can be heard in town. And at night, it's beautifully lit up, and can be seen from most parts of town.

Again, in an historical vein, (I told you that we're huge history geeks), we also spent several hours in the antique shops. We have a favorite game we play. I find an object, and ask the rest of the family to guess what it's for. I did this with a flower frog (many guesses including butter dish, soap holder, pot pourri holder, and iron), some tiny butter pat dishes (didn't seem to stump my kids for too long) and an apple sauce mill (which I just had to have and it came home with us). I debated between the applesauce mill and the butter churn. As we have yet to acquire a yak, I left the churn behind for some other lucky shopper, and will be happily making my applesauce this year with my new mill, instead of my food processor.

just a garden in front of a home that I liked
some of the plantings may work for my front yard

We did enjoy the shopping in the main street shops, especially those with Scandinavian souvenirs. My children each chose a straw Christmas ornament. And I got a new piece for my Swedish rossette iron. I'm half Scandinavian, so many of my childhood Christmas treats came from my Scandinavian heritage. Swedish Rossettes are a cookie my mother used to make.

I asked my kids what they liked most about our trip. My son loved the historical stuff, as much as I did. The two girls agreed that they liked the Norwegian bakery best. We each chose a treat on two different days. On the third day we bought a loaf of Norwegian Dark Bread. I was rather disappointed in the bread. It tasted as if it had been dumbed down for mediocre American tourist tastes. If you ever bake your own bread, you know how much more flavorful homemade bread can be. But the bread worked fine for our two picnic lunches.

my kids on the last day with their new viking friend
We stumbled upon an odd little market. It was filled to the brim with imported foods from northern Europe and Scandinavia. Evidently black licorice is quite big there. An entire aisle and two end caps dedicated to black licorice. The cans and jars of pickled items were also very intriguing. Who knew you could pickle so many different things? The most interesting item to me, as it's something I could tried here at home, were pickled garlic shoots. May give that a try next summer.

If you ever want to find what else there is to do in a town, go to the city hall. This is where we got directions to the log cabin, and found out about a concert in the waterfront park that very evening. We enjoyed the brass band concert immensely.

The last big highlight, for me, as the keeper of the family budget,was we came in just a couple of dollars under our budget for the trip! We had $350 for all costs related to this trip. The bulk of it was eaten up in the hotel stay. The ferry ride, round trip, was about $50. The remaining part of the budget went to meals. For 3 days, we spent $65. I had packed a cooler of apple juice, granola bars and snacks from home. Our hotel had a morning breakfast that filled us up each day, and a warm plate of cookies each afternoon. Our lunches were all picnics in the nice waterfront park. We bought the loaf of bread and went to a market for cheese and some salads. For our two dinners out, we went to Burger King one night. It was good, surprisingly. They have sweet potato fries now! Love those. We always order off the value menu, get tap water to drink, and share the fries. The next night we found a diner on the waterfront. We were all quite full from the bakery snacking, and so split some chicken and salmon burgers, plus ordered a plate of onion rings. My daughters couldn't even finish their part of the dinners. It was just right for the adults.

Even though Poulsbo is just a short ferry ride from our town, we all felt like we were in a land far, far away. Immersing ourselves in the history of the area seems to be a big part of this. Driving back to the ferry terminal, it struck me how close to home we were, yet how distant it seemed.


  1. Sounds like a great trip! I first discovered garlic scapes in my organic CSA last year (first year it started/we joined). I pickled them and they make for an interesting crunch on my Winter salads! Also good in stirfry.

    1. Hi Carol!

      We had a great time. We're slowly getting around to seeing all the little towns in our area.

      I'm definitely going to try pickling the garlic scapes next year. When I run out of bulb garlic, in summer, I frequently will cut a few inches from the green tops of the garlic in my garden, to add to cooking. But never had them pickled before. Did you raw pack them for pickling, then pour a hot brine over them? That's how I'd imagine it would work.

      Thanks for visiting!

  2. I'm glad you had a good break! Sounds like lots of fun. What lovely pictures of your children too.

    1. Hi Sarah!

      And welcome home to you, too! I hope your camping trip was wonderful! (Hope you've blogged about it. I'll check out your blog when I finish this).

      We had a great time. And we found so many interesting things to see and do, and for free, as well!

    2. There is a blogpost planned but not just yet! It's not helped by having left the camera at our first port of call...

  3. It's interesting that as one moves from east to west across the country, what is considered old is newer and newer. A 1905 church here is hardly blinked at. The same thing happens as we move from Europe (or many other places in the world) to eastern US. Two hundred years old is new to them. It's all relative. Anyway, sounds like a good getaway. We like the historical sites too, almost as much as we like our favorite--factory tours.

    1. So very true! Around here, anything from early 1900s is veeeeery old! On top of just not many buildings built before then, it's so damp and rainy here, wood structures rot so quickly (and wood is the material of choice for home building in our area).

      I love the factory tours as well. I have fond memories of the Hershey factory, a maple syrup processing plant, and the federal mint, as a child on vacation.

      Thanks for visiting!

  4. What a fun filled adventure. Your girls are beautiful, love their hair!!

    1. Hi Tracy!
      We had a great time!

      People always ask where their red hair comes from. It skipped a generation. My dad and his two sisters had the red hair!

      Thanks for visiting!

    2. I noticed the hair color, too! In my family, my grandfather had red hair and my cousins have red hair, so we have the skipping-a-generation phenomenon as well. I know of another family with whom this happened--perhaps it's a genetic quirk of redheads?

      We like history, as well. Local culture goes hand-in-hand with history--I think it's fascinating to understand who the settlers were, what values and customs they brought from their country of origin, why they came, and how they interacted with the Native Americans.

    3. Hi Kris,
      Hmmmm, I'll have to think about this red hair thing.On my dad's side of the family, 16 cousins total. Only two red heads or vivid auburn haired amongst us all. Some of us have red highlights, but not counting those.

      Learning more about the people who originally settled that area made our visit so much richer than if we'd been like the hoards of tourists who stayed in the shops and restaurants. But to each his own.

      Thanks for the comments!


Thank you for joining the discussion today. Here at creative savv, we strive to maintain a respectful community centered around frugal living. Creative savv would like to continue to be a welcoming and safe place for discussion, and as such reserves the right to remove comments that are inappropriate for the conversation.


Be a voice that helps someone else on their frugal living journey

Are you interested in writing for creative savv?
What's your frugal story?

Do you have a favorite frugal recipe, special insight, DIY project, or tips that could make frugal living more do-able for someone else?

Creative savv is seeking new voices.


share this post