A Gift to be Given

December 21st, 2014


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 :)



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.



Shangri La, Snoqualmie Falls

December 2nd, 2014


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.






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!


Deception Pass State Park

November 19th, 2014


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?







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

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset

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…


JapaneseGarden4^even the fish dressed in fall colors!^





Chihuly Bridge in Tacoma

October 27th, 2014

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

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.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset



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.

Noble Knob

October 18th, 2014

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

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.







IMG_8251^”Back-seat” driver^


Daydreams from Mexico

September 26th, 2014

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

“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.


Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset


Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset




Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

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.


Sweet Seattle #7: Cupcake Royale

September 24th, 2014

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


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?


photo 2-1

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.




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


Whidbey Wanderings

September 1st, 2014

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

Ben and I finally made it to quiet, beautiful Whidbey Island, an island north of Seattle on the Puget Sound. It’s been on our to-visit list for awhile, so we took advantage of a free Friday/Saturday to drive up, ride the ferry, and camp overnight at South Whidbey Island State Park.




^Kai isn’t sure what to think of the water. He loves the sand and snacking on seaweed (and seashells…and driftwood…), but he growls at the waves.



^It rained all night (thank goodness for the rainfly on our tent!) but it was dry enough at dinnertime on Friday to build a campfire.

^We stopped in the lovely little town of Langley and got takeout from the Braeburn Restaurant, which I found via this article—a huge reason for the reason I want to head back sometime—and for starters I would love to linger in Langley a little more.


Our short trip gave us just a tiny taste of the island…wish we’d had another day or two to explore!


Bike Commuting

August 26th, 2014


“She’d never ridden a bicycle before and was experiencing, for the very first time, that rare and wonderful sensation of soaring that can occur—especially on a cool, sunny day, and especially when no pedaling is required. . . . It was impossible not to smile.” —The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey, Trenton Lee Stewart

When I was little, I would ride my bike in circles around our driveway. Big circles, little circles, figure-eights; change directions and ride around in more circles.

I wanted to go further but I was too small to ride away by myself, so I rode in big circles, little circles, figure-eights. Big circles, little circles, figure-eights.

I think my childhood self would be happy to know I finally made it somewhere on my bike.

For Christmas last year, Ben and I got each other new bikes for riding around the city. (Well, the holidays being crazy like they always are, we actually bought them in March.) Since then, I’ve been riding on and off to work. Trucks, trains, cars, crowds—there’s so much to navigate and it’s a million times more fun than driving.

There’s nothing like that feeling of soaring, the wind in my face.

The calmness of the waterfront in the morning. The chaos of the shipping terminals and construction zones.

I love being up close and personal with the city.

Just like when I was riding in endless circles in suburbia, riding a bike is still one of the most refreshing and reflective experiences. I let my thoughts swirl but don’t make any decisions except the ones immediately at hand, like when to change gears and when to cross the street. I face the day or leave the day behind with every push of the pedal; it’s exhaustion and renewal at the same time.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Biking in the city is completely different than biking around the neighborhoods where I used to live. I’ve never done this kind of riding before so there has been so much to learn, and I have so much more to still figure out, from bike safety and maintenance to how to handle helmet hair at the office.

I’ve made two goals going into next month:

  1. Bike to work every day.  
  2. Create artwork inspired by my bike commute. 

I’ve been slowly working up to biking every day, and as September rolls around next week I think I’m ready to take the plunge and commit to riding my bike to work every single day. I already know I’ll have two cheat days when I need to have a car at work, plus a vacation that Ben and I have planned in the middle of the month. So I think it’s doable.

I should mention I haven’t ridden in the rain yet. (And next week is supposed to be rainy. And I live in Seattle.) Plus I’m not a “sporty” or athletic kind of person; helmet hair is truly something that I’ve devoted energy to tackling—I might have to revive my hair tutorial series once I get that mess figured out!

Part two of my bike-to-work challenge involves artwork. I’ve felt such a desire to create lately but have wrestled with what exactly I want to make. I’ve decided to tie these goals together and make little art pieces based on things I see during my bike commute each day. I mean for this month-long art project to be completely experimental so it might be as awful as my helmet hair and as pointless as biking in circles around the driveway, but I’m excited to dive in and see what happens.

I hope you’ll follow along on this journey of health and creativity with me. It should prove to be an interesting month!

Inspiration photos from my commute can be found on instagram with the #bestofmybikecommute hashtag. If you have a bike commute please feel free to jump in and share the best of your bike commute (and tips for helmet hair, if you care about that).