The Other Way A Mexican Restaurant Can Stand Out

Earlier this year I wrote a long blog post about what makes a Mexican restaurant stand out. I zeroed in on the signature item that comes out in a basket when you sit down—chips. Now I am still pretty adamant that good tortilla chips paired with a flavorful salsa can bring any family Mexican restaurant to the next level. But this past weekend I had an experience that teleported me back to my childhood and also reminded me that there are other ways that Mexican restaurants can separate themselves from the pack.

Chips are very important at a Mexican restaurant.

On Saturday night, my wife, kids, and I piled into the car. We were actually going to pick up sandwiches at Jimmy John’s but as we were driving down Trent in Spokane Valley a small (dare I say hole-in-the-wall?) Mexican restaurant called Dos Amigos caught our eye. Sidney and I looked at each other and that’s all it took for me to signal out of the turn lane we were in and go through the intersection and then switch lanes again so we could reach Dos Amigos which was on the other side of the street.

We stopped at Dos Amigos in Spokane Valley on Saturday night.

Despite its diminutive size, the restaurant had character with murals on the walls and pinatas hanging from the ceiling. With delicious food, low prices, exceptional service, and (yes) good chips, we were satisfied. But then came the literal cherry on top. As our server cleared our dishes she announced that she would be right back with dessert. Again, Sidney and I looked at each other.

Soon thereafter the server came back with four dishes that each contained a sopapilla topped with whipped cream and cherry sauce. The festive desserts, which are essentially cinnamon and sugar fried dough, were fun and fresh. It was totally unexpected but made our visit to Dos Amigos even more special. Sloan had never seen anything like that before.

But I had.

Have you ever been brought a complimentary one of these at a Mexican restaurant before?

Granted, it had been a long time. When I was a kid, there was a Mexican restaurant called Rancho Chico that my family always went to for nearly a decade before Azteca opened closer to our house. Besides the bad checks plastered to the wall behind the cash register and the oversized sombrero that was placed on the heads of people celebrating a birthday, the fried dough dessert the servers never failed to bring out at the end of the meal was another pleasant memory.

Sloan sure enjoyed his dessert at Dos Amigos in Spokane.

However, the memory grew faint as I visited Mexican restaurant after Mexican restaurant for the ensuing couple decades only to get a mint at the end of dinner if I was lucky. But the childhood magic was rekindled this past weekend when Dos Amigos pulled a page out of Rancho Chico’s playbook.

Do the chips at your Mexican restaurant suck? Hope is not entirely lost. Salvage the dining experience of your customers by offering sopapillas. I can you tell you this, Dos Amigos now holds a special place in the hearts of our kids. Don’t Blink.

The Grief of Bob Ross

Over the weekend I watched the new Netflix documentary about Bob Ross. You know, the dude with the soothing voice and afro that had a wildly successful painting show in the 1980s and 1990s? The documentary, officially titled “Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal, and Greed,” is currently in the top 10 of Netflix’s programming.

The new Bob Ross documentary taught me a lot about someone I recognized but didn’t know very much about.

To be honest, I knew very little about Bob Ross until Saturday night. The only exposure I received of Ross up to that point was through parody. It was very interesting and entertaining to learn about this talented painter, watch him at work, and hear his philosophies. It was also notable to me to discover that he once lived in Spokane. Crazy, huh?

The documentary also devolved into the last few years of his life. Unfortunately, it was not the happiest period of his time on earth. Cancer ravaged his body and he dealt with business partners who thought he was worth more “dead than alive.”

There was one other part of the documentary that has stayed with me over the past couple days. Prior to Ross getting sick, his wife passed away. The film did a nice job chronicling the marriage between Bob and his wife, Jane. It wasn’t a perfect union as Bob was unfaithful during a certain period but they ultimately reconciled and they certainly loved each other. Anyway, the documentary showed “The Joy of Painting” episode after Jane’s death when Bob looked straight into the camera and opened his heart to the viewers.

He acknowledged the hundreds of cards he received from viewers and how they not only expressed sympathy to him but honored the memory of Jane. This was touching to Bob because although his viewers saw him on a daily basis they never really saw Jane but still cared about her. At the end of his emotional address, he said thanks for grieving with me.

Today is National Grief Awareness Day. Its purpose is to raise awareness of the numerous ways in which people cope with loss. As I am sure most of my readers are well aware, people grieve in different ways. For someone like Bob Ross, he found comfort grieving with others, even those folks he didn’t know. Others prefer to grieve in a much more private manner. Some people might appear not to grieve at all. Some might grieve for years.

Let us always respect the way others grieve, even if we might not understand it. If there is a way we might lessen the grief of others, let’s not be shy to act on it. If there is not, let us have the discipline to not make things worse. Perhaps the one thing we can all do is simply reach out. At that point, we can evaluate next steps…including whether there is no next step at all. Don’t Blink.

Scoreboard Thursday Rundown

Are we already at the last Thursday in August? That means my next Thursday Rundown will be in September! I never root for the summer to end but the writing is kind of on the wall. Let’s forget about that and move on with tonight’s Thursday Rundown.

Spot the Error – On Tuesday, our family was in the Taco Bell drive-thru and came face-to-face with this sign that belonged to the business next door. It will most likely take you only a few seconds to spot the punctuation error on the sign itself (not the marquee). If you immediately recognized the unnecessary apostrophe you might feel a little bad for this bar since it has to live with this oversight while thousands of cars pass by it daily. Then again, perhaps it’s goal all along was to make the error on purpose so that it could be featured in this blog.

Can you spot the error on the Sullivan Scoreboard sign?

Pop-Tarts – Think up any obscure countdown list and chances are I have taken a crack at it in this blog. I gave my readers a real “gift” six years ago on this date when I ranked my top 10 favorite Pop-Tarts. If you are saying to yourself I didn’t even know there were 10 varieties of Pop-Tarts you need to get out more. I still eat Pop-Tarts to this day and my list is still current more than a half decade later.

Without a doubt, Confetti Cake Pop-Tarts are my favorite!

Throwback Thursday – My wife would describe this photo by saying, “we look like babies!” This picture was snapped seven years ago on this date at a Myrtle Beach Pelicans game. In the past several years we have had a couple kids, changed jobs, did some moving, and completed plenty of other “life” things. So, yeah, we have put some miles on our bodies and faces but it has all been worth it…well, except for maybe my noticeably gray hair.

This photo was taken on August 26, 2015. We look like babies!

Flattery – When you get to be my age, it is very flattering when someone asks to see your ID prior to a purchase. Unfortunately for me, it has been several years since I remember a restaurant server or bartender carding me. If I want to show my ID I have to check my own groceries at the supermarket so the store clerk is required to come over when I scan my six-pack. Back when I would actually get carded and if I went to dinner with my parents, I fondly/embarrassingly remember my dad always interjecting when I gave my ID to the server, “You want to see mine too?” The ultimate dad joke.

“Can I see your ID” is a question I am never asked anymore.

America In Color – The current series I am streaming right now is on Paramount and is called “America in Color.” Three seasons are offered and cover topics such as organized crime, the Wild Wild West, recreation, titans of industry, Hollywood, and more. The series is basically compiled by old home movies that ordinary people took during the early eras of America. The filmmakers then colorize the clips to really bring them to life. I love it. There is nothing that gets me more excited than watching forgotten videos from the 1920s in brilliant color. If you like history and Americana, you must give “America in Color” a chance.

I highly recommend “America in Color.”


Enjoy your last August weekend. Count your blessings and always love life. Don’t Blink.

Hot Tub Time Machine

Growing up, we all know it was important to have a friend with a pool. I mean that was a no-brainer. But if you played it right, you would also have a friend who had a hot tub.

I was lucky enough to have a couple friends who had hot tubs in their backyards and memories to go with it. As kids, our skin is a little more sensitive to extreme temperatures and the toughest part of taking a dip in the hot tub was just getting in. Although it could be a little jarring submerging oneself into the hot water, it was also challenging and fun at the same time.

Then you had hot tub seating placement. The goal was to always find a place to sit with a jet. Nothing said “status” more than holding court in the corner of the hot tub with pressurized water pelting your back.

Probably my fondest memory was hanging out in the hot tub in the middle of the winter with snow falling from the sky and a white blanket covering everything in sight. The combination of the beautiful scenery mixed with the sensation of sweating when it was below freezing was always unique.

I don’t get into a hot tub much anymore and when I do it is not for very long. But during those rare times I do think back a couple decades. Just like then, I think it is still advantageous to have a friend who has a hot tub—even in adulthood—but I still prefer a pool. Don’t Blink.

Back on Campus

GO COUGS! We are now officially in-person.

For the first time since March 2020, classes at Washington State University took place in physical classrooms with an instructor up front teaching material and students in desks absorbing the content.

Classes were in-person at our five physical campuses today, including at WSU Tri-Cities.

How long has it really been? I wasn’t even working for WSU the last time in-person classes were held. But the 18 months of remote learning is now all in the past and it is full steam ahead. Well, kind of—I am not that naïve. I know the Delta variant has the potential to cause disruptions so I am keeping those ramifications in the back of my mind. To be honest, though, I am staying positive and hoping for an entire academic year of faculty engaging students on our beautiful campuses across the state.

The absence of students on campus was an especially tough pill to swallow at WSU Pullman. To see a full campus was awesome.

Alright, let me slow down a bit. There really isn’t a reason tonight to look too far down the road, or, for that matter, rewind through the past year and a half. Instead, I think it is important to just savor today. Seniors and juniors got to return to their beloved campuses, second year students finally got a taste of the college experience after their freshman year was virtual, and new students got to enjoy something they might have questioned would even be possible a year ago at this time. Today was big.

Our future healthcare professionals returned to WSU Spokane today.

I would like to wish all WSU students a fantastic semester. They deserve this. I feel fortunate to be part of the Cougar family and feel the excitement that is clearly evident. Let’s take this one day at a time and hope for the best. Don’t Blink.

Apple Cup Crisp Thursday Rundown

It is that special day of the week when I present five random topics that most likely mean absolutely nothing to you. So without further ado, let’s begin tonight’s rundown…

Coke Zero Formula Change – My wife’s favorite soda is Coke Zero. Our house is always stocked with it. Sid likes it so much that when we were in Las Vegas she opted to fill our hotel fridge with the soda instead of more “adult-ish” drinks. So, you can imagine she was a bit concerned when I told her yesterday morning that Coca-Cola is tweaking the formula of Coke Zero. I will keep you posted on what Sidney thinks of the new formula once she tries it but until then you can see how Pepsi reacted to the news on social media.

Pepsi having some fun at Coke Zero’s expense.

Latest Beau Photo – Thought I would give Beau some recognition tonight. This photo was snapped moments before we left for last Saturday’s wedding. He isn’t a baby anymore as he is turning into pure little boy. He is both cuter than ever and tougher than ever to keep track of.

Beau dressed and ready for the wedding. He is growing up.

The Best Ice Cream – I make the trip down to Pullman at least once a week now to work from campus. Last Thursday we were shooting a video on a particularly hot August day. We ended the shoot at Ferdinand’s, the famous ice cream shop on campus. Everyone involved with the project was treated to ice cream and I ordered a waffle cone of Apple Cup Crisp. It once won a national competition of best ice cream flavors on college campuses and for good reason—it is unique and delicious! Apple Cup Crisp is vanilla ice cream laced with spiced apple flavorings, swirled with caramel, and packed with oatmeal cookies. It is phenomenal along with all the other Ferdinand’s flavors.

Me holding my Apple Cup Crisp ice cream cone from last Thursday.

National Potato Day – Today is National Potato Day and I can’t help but remember the day that my friend and fellow higher ed social media professional Kimberly sent me a potato in the mail. I am not kidding. She sent a literal potato to my mailbox. The novelty gift was made possible by a company called Potato Parcel that sends spuds with messages to unsuspecting Americans via the U.S. Postal Service.

I will never forget that one day I received a potato in the mail.

Reaction to Jeopardy Host – I wasn’t blown away with excitement when Mike Richards was named the permanent Jeopardy host. I had voiced my hope that Ken Jennings would get the gig but past tweets hindered his chances. Now it looks like past transgressions might get the best of Richards too. I guess I was just hoping for a bigger name to be selected as host but perhaps that is what Jeopardy wanted to avoid, opting for someone whose celebrity status wouldn’t overshadow the game. But if Richards survives his current scandal I will definitely keep an open mind as he begins his Jeopardy tenure.

Mike Richards wasn’t my first choice for permanent Jeopardy host.


Let’s pray for peace in Afghanistan and for the safety of those citizens who are now living under a hostile government. Thanks for reading my blog and I hope you have a great weekend. Don’t Blink.

WinCo for the Win

I know people back east rave about places such as Wawa and Publix. I have been to both places and they are fine stores but out west we have something different. My friends, we have WinCo. Short for Washington, Idaho, Nevada, California, and Oregon, this grocery store is pretty special and tonight I am giving you five reasons why.

This is our local WinCo in the Spokane Valley that we visit frequently.

Cheaper Than Walmart – No joke, WinCo offers cheaper prices than the Michael Jordan of discount grocers…Walmart. Don’t believe me? Pretty much every item in WinCo is tagged with the store price and the Walmart price. Guess which one is lower? $20 will get you more at WinCo than it would get you at Walmart five years ago.

The little girl in the cart is priceless but everything else I throw in is usually really cheap.

Bulk Foods – Are you one of those people who prefers to buy in bulk? Then WinCo is your dream. Pay by the pound for everything from pistachios to pasta to peanut M&Ms. The options are endless and you will undoubtedly leave that section of the store thinking “I never thought I would see that item in a cylinder tube.”

You will be impressed by the large selection of bulk foods at WinCo.

Ready-Made Dinners – You can pick up inexpensive and delicious pre-made dinners for the family with a quick in-and-out WinCo trip. For under $8 you can choose a meal that you can just throw into the oven for 10 minutes and enjoy. The other night we tried the manicotti and garlic bread that was fabulous. You can also bring home chicken tacos, pasta alfredo dishes, and Asian entrees.

Pasta and tacos are two of the options you can choose from for ready-made dinners at WinCo.

Fried Chicken – WinCo makes some of the best fried chicken and that is saying a lot coming from someone who spent a lot of time testing different versions of it in Southern supermarket chains. Not only is WinCo fried chicken cooked to perfection but it costs less than $6 for eight pieces.

The other night we had WinCo fried chicken for dinner…cheap and delcious!

Random Bins – Around the aisles in WinCo you will find random bins filled with quirky sale items. Whether it be a bag of freezer pops for $.68 or a pack of fruit cocktails for $1.48, you will find plenty of items that you definitely don’t need but kind of want. It is an adventure every time you go.

Take a look at the bin holding the freezer pops in the corner of the photo. What a steal!


If there is a WinCo in your town but you have been hesitant to check it out, give it a try. You will appreciate its charm and affordability. Don’t Blink.

Marriage Advice After 40 Years

Sometimes short and sweet blog posts are the best. Hopefully this one will fit that bill, at least for those of us who are married.

Because of a recent blog post, many of you know that my parents recently celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. Yesterday, August 16, was the actual date. After turning to our group chat to wish my parents a happy anniversary and thank them for the example they have set for our entire family, my mom responded in her typical humble nature with—and I am paraphrasing here—please don’t give us that much credit.

My mom gave some great advice based on her 40 years of marriage with my dad.

After I responded that she and my dad deserved every single ounce of that credit, she responded with the following (in verbatim)…

Just remember always treat your spouse with love and respect. Use kind words, no yelling, have understanding, and respect their opinions.

There is the key to 40 years right there. Good food for thought for many of us I assume, yours truly included. Don’t Blink.

Family Wedding Weekend to Cap Summer Events

Throughout the past few months I have chronicled our “Best Summer Ever” as I have written about the adventures we have embarked on a year after the summer of 2020 was, for all intents and purposes, canceled. Our last official special event of the season took place this past weekend.

We spent this past weekend in Walla Walla/Milton Freewater for a wedding. This is Sid, Sloan, and I at the reception.

My cousin, Taylor, got married on Saturday. She tied the knot on her family’s farm in Milton-Freewater, Oregon. My parents wanted to fit the event into a special weekend for our larger family. So, by early Friday evening, the four of us, my sister’s family, my brother and his wife, and my parents all converged on a VRBO in Walla Walla, Washington. Despite the different state, Walla Walla is moments away from the Oregon border, with Milton-Freewater being the first town you come to.

This was the VRBO that we stayed at in Walla Walla.

The VRBO my parents rented was beautiful and spacious. All four couples had their own rooms and the kids slept together in a large area in the basement. Although we had our own spaces throughout the house, we spent most of our time together in the upstairs living areas or in the backyard.

Mik, Johnny, and Sloan getting ready for bed.

On Friday, my dad’s siblings came over to join all of us for a big pizza party. Later that night, my siblings and our spouses sat around the table in the backyard and played games well past midnight. Doesn’t get much better for a summer evening, right?

On Friday night we all stayed up late in the backyard playing games.

On Saturday, we took the kids to the swimming pool at my uncle’s house. With the temperature soaring above 100 degrees, it was exactly what we needed. The kids had a blast splashing around in the pool while us adults were entertained by my uncle.

The kids playing in my Uncle Bob’s pool.

Later that day, us men were summoned to the wedding site to help with some setup. Back at the VRBO, the kids jumped on the trampoline while the women got ready for the wedding. The guys returned and we took our showers and then our group of 12 caravanned back to the farm for the 5:30 p.m. ceremony.

The VRBO had a trampoline in the backyard that was a big hit with the kids.

The farm was a gorgeous setting for a wedding. Horses roamed on the land while the bride and groom said their vows. The heat did make it a little tough for Beau to focus but I took him over to a couple giant ice buckets where he was content to pick and eat the cubes while Taylor and Kade got married.

Beau, Sid, Carrie, Mikayla, and Miranda on the farm prior to the wedding.

The reception took place in the barn and was a lot of fun. The kids danced themselves silly and I had the honor of speaking with several people on my mom’s side of the family who I had not talked to in years. As darkness fell the weather became milder and it was much easier to relax.

The kids swarm around Taylor and Kade during the “Coin Dance.”

After the wedding, we came back to the VRBO and we put the kids to bed. Then, all of us adults, including my parents, sat around a long table and talked late into the night. It was the perfect way to end the main festivities of the mid-August weekend.

During the ceremony, I kept Beau entertained by looking at the horses and playing in the ice.

When Sunday morning arrived we worked to pack up by the designated checkout time. This was one of those weekends where you just really wished you could stay another day or two. We visited my uncle on the way out of town before we all made the drive back to our respective homes in Spokane.

My mom and my uncle with the kids before we headed out of town on Sunday.

What a blessed family weekend it was and what a treat our parents organized for us. We are thankful for this experience and thankful for each other. Congrats Taylor and Kade! Don’t Blink.

Princess Thursday Rundown

Happy Friday Eve to everyone! Nothing to see here besides a mid-August Thursday Rundown. If that’s your things, feel free to keep reading because I got five topics coming your way…

Happy Middle Child Day – Let me start off tonight by wishing my fellow “not the oldest and not the youngest” friends a Happy Middle Child Day. I definitely think being the middle kid is an entirely different experience from other children in the family. Several years ago, my mom texted me the below meme on this date. Enough said.

My mom texted me this meme in commemoration of Middle Child’s Day.

My Little Pony – Over the course of a week, I read to Sloan the 10 chapters in the below My Little Pony 5-Minute Stories book. Two observations: First, my daughter watches way too much YouTube because she knew all the characters and most of the stories. The funny thing is I have never observed her watching My Little Pony before. Second, I finally got some context on what My Little Pony is all about. I will never forget visiting Baltimore in August 2014 when BronyCon was taking place. BronyCon is the My Little Pony national convention and I had never seen so many grown men dressed up in brightly colored horse suits in my life. Back then, I didn’t really understand the appeal and, to be honest, I still don’t. But at least I know the basis of the series.

Sloan really enjoyed reading this book and I kind of did too.

Princesses at the Ball Game – We picked the perfect night to go to our first Spokane Indians baseball game of the season. Last Friday we went out to Avista Stadium where the promotion that evening was Storybook Princess Night. Upon walking through the gates, Sloan got to meet Snow White, Ariel, Belle, and Cinderella. All princesses were kind and enthusiastic to Sloan. Hey, if a little fairy tale magic helps convert Sloan to a baseball fan, I can deal with that girly stuff.

Sloan took photos with princesses from Spokane’s Princess Portraits & More at the Spokane Indians game on Aug. 6.

Looking Back on Lays #DoUsAFlavor – Over the span of five years, I enthusiastically taste-tested the Lays potato chip #DoUsAFlavor creations that would come out during the summer and then review them on this blog. Oh, what fun I had! I found great joy pigging out on wacky flavors like chicken & waffles and bacon mac & cheese. I wrote my last post four years ago. That summer’s crop included fried green tomatoes, crispy taco, and everything bagel. If you follow the link to that 2017 post, you will find links to all my other #DoUsAFlavor reviews as well.

Me holding the 2015 #DoUsAFlavor Lay’s potato chips.

Sibling Love – I thought these photos I snapped the other day of Sloan and Beau embracing were too sweet and innocent not to share. They can seriously bother the heck out of each other, but these moments make it all worth it.

Beau and Sloan share a hug.


It is going to be another triple digit weekend so that must mean we have another outdoor wedding to attend. My family will be in Walla Walla the next couple days to celebrate my cousin’s special moment so I am sure you will hear a little bit about it in the ensuing week. Stay cool, friends. Don’t Blink.