New Year’s Eve

January 4th, 2015

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The last day of 2014 was one of my favorite days of the year. I spent the day with some church/work friends at Camp Indianola on the Puget Sound for the annual church New Year’s Retreat, where we relaxed by a big fire in the camp lodge and walked on the beach.

The weather that day was spectacular–watching the sunset over the water, Mt. Rainier, and the city skyline couldn’t have been a more perfect way to say goodbye to the year’s last light.

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After the sun went down I headed back from camp to Seattle, and met Ben downtown later to watch the New Year’s Eve fireworks at the Space Needle. Our view of the show (with a cup of hot cocoa in hand) is one of my best New Year’s Eve memories yet.

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Happy 2015!

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Hike to the Ice Caves

December 30th, 2014

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On the day after Christmas, Ben, our dog Kai, and I hiked to the Big Four Ice Caves. It’s an easy and beautiful hike about 2 hours outside of Seattle, off a stretch of road in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest called the Mountain Loop Highway.

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Besides the frozen beauty of the mountains and caves, my favorite part of our adventure was that we brought hot water and cocoa along to drink when we arrived.

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On Saturday there was an avalanche inside the caves. Thankfully no one was hurt, but it gave me pause to see the story on the news when we had just visited the day before. On our trip, Ben and I walked up to the entrance of the caves but chose not to go inside because of the avalanche danger, and after hearing the news over the weekend I’m extra glad we made that decision.

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A Gift to be Given

December 21st, 2014

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I love wrapping gifts. I’m not always the best at picking out what goes inside the box, but at least I can make it look pretty. Since our move to Seattle we’ve had to do more sending gifts off in boxes rather than delivering them in person, and that has made me even more motivated to add handmade, personal touches to each present.

My tradition (that I started last year) is to make my own wrapping paper. This year I made my own potato stamps and used red and green paint to stamp onto brown craft paper. I liked my velvet Christmas tree paper from last year better, but I’d definitely try the stamp technique again–I’ve got room to improve on the actual stamps :)

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I love using fun gift toppers like candy bars from one of our local chocolate companies. And of course you know I had to throw some yarn pom-poms in.

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I am so thankful I got to celebrate Christmas with my sister and her family in Texas last week and I could deliver some of my gifts in person. We sent the boxes I’m holding in the photo off to Ben’s family…Christmas cheer sent with love!

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Shangri La, Snoqualmie Falls

December 2nd, 2014

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We had a beautiful dusting of snow in Seattle on Saturday–perfect to usher in the holiday spirit. I put our Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving, and the smell of cedar and twinkle of holiday lights now fills our living room. It really is the best time of the year!

Yesterday Ben and I both had the day off of work, so we went exploring. We went on an early December hike on the Shangri La trail in Issaquah (a short + easy trail) and a quick trip to Snoqualmie Falls.

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I hadn’t looked up pictures of the falls before, and it was way more beautiful than I expected! We couldn’t go out along the walkway by the falls very far because of the icy conditions, but the ice and mist made the scene absolutely gorgeous. You can drive to the falls parking lot and walk up a short walkway to see it, so if you’re looking for something quick and easy and breathtaking this fits the bill. (And do you recognize the falls and lodge from Twin Peaks?)

Hope you’ve had a wonderful start to December!

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Deception Pass State Park

November 19th, 2014

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Earlier this month Ben and I hiked around the Rosario Head cliffs at Deception Pass State Park on Whidbey Island. It’s not too bad looking, eh?

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Seattle Japanese Garden

October 28th, 2014

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking successive autumns.” George Eliot, Letter to Miss Eliot

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I went to the Seattle Japanese Garden last week, where I found fall in full bloom. As you might imagine, the garden is a peaceful and quiet place to walk around, sit around, or take pictures. They have a pavilion there too where a lot of artists go to draw and paint.

I wandered around with my camera and took a million photos…typical me…

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Chihuly Bridge in Tacoma

October 27th, 2014

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I’ve been wanting to head down to Tacoma, WA for awhile to see the Chihuly bridge of glass, and when Ben read about an authentic Cambodian restaurant in Tacoma—Mitapeap—we added the Southern Kitchen restaurant and a visit to the Waterfront and Old Town Tacoma to our list and made a breakfast-to-lunch day of it.

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We didn’t go to the Chihuly Museum by the bridge on this visit but that just gives me a reason to go back sometime. I love all the bright colorful glass, especially on a gray day.
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Noble Knob

October 18th, 2014

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Ben and I drove up to Noble Knob last Saturday for a fall hike with our dog Kai. The weather was perfect and the views on the hike were great. (Though I recommend a sturdy car for the pot-holed dirt road leading to the trailhead! It about did us in.)

We haven’t gotten out for hiking and camping nearly as much this summer and fall, mostly because of busy/clashing work schedules that really limit our free time together, so it’s extra great when we do have time for a fall outing. Since getting Kai in March we’ve also focused more on hiking in state parks and national forests where dogs are allowed, though we still love visiting and supporting our nearby National Parks.

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IMG_8251^”Back-seat” driver^

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Daydreams from Mexico

September 26th, 2014

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“Your true traveler finds boredom rather agreeable than painful. It is the symbol of his liberty—his excessive freedom. He accepts his boredom, when it comes, not merely philosophically, but almost with pleasure.” – Aldous Huxley

Ben and I went to Puerto Vallarta last week with one goal: to relax. It was a purposeful halt to the fast-paced, tightly-packed vacations we usually plan, and we welcomed our boredom with great pleasure.

I didn’t do anything in Mexico I couldn’t have done at home. I read, I wrote, I watched the waves and the clouds. I learned a few more Spanish words and got a sunburn. Our brush with local culture and the only outing of the week was a bus ride into downtown Puerto Vallarta and back. We happily accepted our role as American tourists on vacation.

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We turned off our phones, lingered over meals, and watched the sunset every night. The week reminded me that life isn’t about to-do lists, schedules, rushing, cramming, and stressing. It was a simple trip, with no agenda but to eat and rest. It was the adventure of being still.

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Sweet Seattle #7: Cupcake Royale

September 24th, 2014

Sweet Seattle: I’m exploring Seattle one cake, pie, and cookie at a time.  

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Cupcake Royale has pink boxes, pink dishes, and a sprinkle bar—does a cupcake shop need much else? And their West Seattle location is a 4-minute walk from my house—do I need much else?

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I ate a Huckle Buckle cupcake with pink huckleberry-flavored icing. The icing was enough to get a burst of flavor with each bite but still taste the cake underneath.

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Despite protest from my sweet tooth, I have occasionally stopped in Cupcake Royale for just a cup of coffee and left content. They serve Stumptown drip and plenty of barista-made coffee options. But I’ll be back to try more cupcakes—they have fall flavors out now and I can’t resist anything pumpkin.

See previous Sweet Seattle posts here.

Play along: #sweetseattle

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