For my youngest daughter’s 14th birthday 🙂Pin It
My family just returned from a quick summer trip to southeast Alaska – just a few days up and back. While I have to admit that I wasn’t thrilled with Wrangell, the town we stayed in, we did go on two great excursions: to see the LeConte glacier, and to the Anan Bear Observatory. It felt very big, and beautiful, and there were amazingly few people around, even during prime tourist season. I’m sure it helped that we avoided Ketchikan and anywhere else where cruise ships come into port . . .
In some ways, it felt like we didn’t see much wildlife – I had been hoping for moose, sea otters, and humpback whales, but the passages we traveled in were too shallow (for the whales, that is), and this part of the country is so big, it’s hard to predict where wildlife might be found at any given moment in time. We did see salmon headed upstream to spawn and the bears that were eating them at the Observatory, as well as so many bald eagles that I lost count, and there were multitudes of harbor seals out on the ice floes at the glacier.
We spent spring break this week “small boat cruising” with Uncruise Adventures in the Sea of Cortez. The weather was perfect and the water was beautiful 🙂
One morning, we got to snorkel with friendly sea lions – the juveniles loved to play, they chewed on our fins, mouthed at our hands, and even tried to swallow our Go Pro 🙂
View of Isolation Rock (home to many birds, including Blue Footed Boobies) from the deck of our boat.
Sea kayaking was wonderful in water so clear you could look down and see the fish swimming below – and the geography of the shore was fascinating.
A beautiful and serene week spent on North Haven Island, off of mid-coast Maine . . . is there ever a more beautiful time than mid-September??
The small village at North Haven’s ferry docking.
We rented a beautiful home on a 52-acre peninsula at the end of Crabtree Point.
Crabtree Cottage was a beautiful home-away-from-home.
Our home included a beautiful infinity pool, patio, poolhouse, and fire pit.
Kayaking on one of the many sunny afternoons.
Moonrise above Crabtree Cottage.
The view on the ferry ride to North Haven Island.
Holy Donuts in Portland was a worthwhile stop on our way up the coast.
This historic building was transformed into a community pizza parlor on the weekends, and a gourmet market during the week.
The outdoor fireplace was perfect for marshmallow roasting.
We took a day-trip to explore mid-coast Maine, including a visit to Bowdoin College in the town of Brunswick.
I always make sure to drink plenty of blueberry soda when in Maine 🙂
A long dock to the kayak launch.
Late in the day on Mile Long beach at Reid State Park, all to ourselves.
A tomato bar – better than a candy bar! – at Portland farmer’s market.
North Haven Island is very quiet, especially after Labor Day.
We always take a full day to drive home, stopping for an epic breakfast in Coupeville, two ferry rides, and an afternoon of shopping and eating on Bainbridge Island.
Cinnamon rolls are a favorite part of the breakfast stop in Coupeville, on Whidbey Island.
Mora Ice Creamery on Bainbridge Island – the best ice cream in the whole world!
Churchmouse is a true destination for fiber lovers like me.
Salt House Mercantile has a beautiful selection of curated home goods.
This day trip includes a ferry ride from Friday Harbor to Anacortes, and another from Coupeville to Port Townsend.
Driving from the mainland onto Whidbey Island, over the bridge that spans Deception Pass.
The view from main street in Coupeville.
Knead and Feed is right on the water, and a must-stop for breakfast each time we pass through Coupeville.
Photos from our morning out on the water in kayaks:
Every time we vacation in the San Juans, we take a boat ride to Stuart Island and then hike the seven-mile round trip to Turnpoint Lighthouse, the westernmost point in the continental United States.
Looking for orcas on the boat ride over to Stuart Island.
Turnpoint Lighthouse, looking west toward Canada.
Stuart Island’s old schoolhouse, now turned into a community library and a small museum.
The view from one of the bluffs on Stuart Island.
Stopping at the rope swing is always one of the highlights of the hike.
A photo essay of our annual foray through the sculpture garden at Roche Harbor:
To kick off summer vacation, we spent a week on the Oregon coast, basing out of Arch Cape and exploring a new beach town each day: Manzanita, Cannon Beach, Seaside, Gearhart, and Astoria.
The beach in front of our house at Arch Cape
Hiking at Ecola State Park in Cannon Beach
We found innumerable unbroken sand dollars on an isolated beach near
our house that was accessible only at low tide
Indian Beach as seen from a hiking trail in Ecola State Park
A foggy day in Astoria where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean –
one of the most dangerous crossing bars in the world
Each year around this time, we pick a sunny weekend day to hike Portland’s 4T Trail:
This year, we started by parking downtown and catching MAX (that’s the “Train” – the 1st “T”) to the Oregon Zoo station. From there, we walked a short distance to the start of the Marquam Nature Park trail (the 2nd “T”).
The trail runs mostly uphill for the first 1.3 miles, and gave us an opportunity to spot local wildlife – namely, banana slugs and surprisingly large snails:
The trail comes to the top at Council Crest, which on a sunny day provides an extraordinary view of downtown Portland and four mountains: Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens, and – only when it’s exceptionally clear (as it was on our day), Mt. Rainier:
We explored some of the interesting historical markers at the top of Council Crest, and then headed back onto the trail:
From this point, the trail continues for another 1.7 miles, almost exclusively downhill – sometimes rather steeply, and oftentimes very rocky. We saw trillium, sweet woodruff, Oregon grape, sword and licorice ferns, and many other native plants:
At the bottom of the trail, we rested at the Marquam Shelter, which has a lot of great information about the history and wildlife of the area, as well as a truly beautiful community-created mosaic:
From there, we hiked the final .6 miles up to Oregon Health Sciences University, to catch the tram. OHSU has a beautiful, sprawling campus, with a hodgepodge of buildings and some pretty garden areas, as well:
While we were able to enjoy the extraordinary view from the top of the tram (the 3rd “T”), unfortunately we weren’t able to ride it because it was closed for the holiday (which seems very shortsighted of the operator, given how many tourists were visiting and were vocally unhappy to find the tram not running!)
Undeterred, we used our iPhone’s handy map app and walked down to the south waterfront – which was accomplished in only 30 minutes, adding only an extra 1.5 (downhill) miles our so to our journey. Once there, we stopped at Lovejoy Bakery for a much-needed lunch break:
Refreshed, we caught the Portland streetcar (or trolley – the 4th “T”) back up to SW Portland, where we had begun:
Because it was my oldest daughter’s 16th birthday, we ended our outing at St. Cupcake to celebrate:
A beautiful way to spend New Year’s Day on Mt. Hood!
In celebration of my daughter Isabella’s 13th birthday:
And this photo was taken right before the banner caught on fire 🙂
To celebrate, Bella chose to take her posse of girlfriends to the Portland Art Museum, then out to dinner downtown and drop-in at St. Cupcake to get sugared up before returning home for a (no-sleep) sleepover.
We’ve just returned from an idyllic ten days in downeast Maine, exploring Bar Harbor, Mt. Desert Island, Acadia National Park, and the entire mid-coast. Although it was high tourist season – and it showed – nonetheless we found it beautiful, peaceful, and the ideal place to while away the summer days.
We celebrated the Fourth with a red, white and blue-themed picnic on our back deck – homemade fried chicken, biscuits, corn on the cob, the first sungold tomatoes out of the garden, lemonade, and cherry pie for dessert – yum! We followed dinner with marshmallows toasted at the fire pit, a moonlight swim in the pool, our own personal fireworks display, and a rest in the hammock to look at the stars. I am so grateful for our lovely home and my wonderful family!
A few days in Cannon Beach makes for a wonderful start to summer vacation . . .
Beautiful end result for our laundry room remodel!
My youngest turns 10 years old today 🙂
We continued with our tradition of a homemade and decorated birthday cake that represents an interest of the birthday girl/boy – Alia’s lifelong love of bunny rabbits remains strong, so I’ve come up with many versions of a bunny cake over the years!
Because age ten is the first age in our household when sleepovers are allowed, this birthday was met with much excitement, and as gifts, Alia’s grandmother sewed her a bunny pillow:
And I sewed her a quick and easy sleeping bag:
I found these wonderful Cotton + Steel bunny-themed fabrics at Bolt (bunnies and moons, how perfect for a sleeping bag!) and sewed the bag and a matching pillow without a set pattern, as follows:
Exterior and interior fabrics – 3 1/3 yards each – for both the outside and the inside, cut the fabric in half lengthwise (so you have two pieces that are 60″ long), then cut each piece to 36″ wide. Sew these two pieces together, so you have one piece that is 72″ wide x 60″ long.
To sew the ties, cut 18 pieces 3″ x 12.5″ (you’ll have enough fabric left over to do this), fold lengthwise, sew one short edge and one long edge, leaving one short edge open. Then turn right side out and press.
Next, create a “quilt sandwich” by laying the exterior fabric right side up, then the interior fabric on top of it (right side down), and then the batting on top of both (I bought the highest loft batting I could find, and then used a double layer). Cut around all sides to get all of the fabrics and battings the same dimensions, then pin together along the edges, tucking the ties inside (unfinished edge lining up with the edge of the fabrics/batting, and the length of the tie tucked in between the two fabrics).
Sew along all four edges with a 6/8″ seam, leaving an 18″ wide hole in the middle of the top edge. Clip the corners and turn right side out through the top edge hole. Then, stay stitch around all four sides again (this will help to give the bag a defined edge, and will close up the top side hole, as well). Finally, I used a bar tack stitch approx every 10″ to give the bag “puffiness” and to hold the batting in place and keep it from shifting around.
My ties along the bottom didn’t line up as nicely as I had hoped – I’m not sure what went wrong, I measured (but apparently not accurately enough!), but my side ties line up nicely. The ties are a nice alternative to having to sew in a zipper, and they allow you to open up the bag and lay it flat, if you choose to do so.
This was a rush job and I could have done it more neatly – it was a little difficult stitching through so many layers, especially two layers of thick batting, and my sewing machine wasn’t thrilled to do it, but it came out all right in the end.