A photo essay of our pre-Christmas ski trip to Whitefish, Montana via Amtrak:Pin It
Every year, for almost twenty years (with a few exceptions, especially when the girls were really young), we’ve traveled to Washington’s San Juan Islands for our summer vacation. It is so much like home to us that we got married at Roche Harbor, and we return there every year now. We stay in the same place – Heron House – and make sure to observe our many traditions:
* ice cream from the kiosk on our way to watch colors from the dock
* dinner out at McMillans over the water
* boating to Stuart Island for a hike to (and picnic at) Turnpoint Lighthouse, the westernmost point in the United States
* doughnuts each morning from Lime Kiln Cafe
* wandering around the sculpture garden, to see what new art has been added and to check whether Alfred the Alligator is still there
* a quick (hah!) stop at the candy kiosk to stock up for the day ahead
* boating with Grams to Jones Island to hand feed the deer and have a hot dog roast and s’mores
* getting lucky enough this year to see orcas – not once, but twice – including the once-in-a-million chance of seeing them from Turnpoint Lighthouse
* kayaking in the nearby bays, and visiting a kelp bed that was home to over a dozen very curious seals
* watching the local theater company’s outdoor presentation of a Shakespearean play – this year it was Twelfth Night
On our way home, we always drive over Deception Pass onto Whidbey Island so that we can stop at Knead and Feed in Coupeville – the best breakfasts in the world! Then we catch the Keystone ferry to Port Townsend and drive to Bainbridge Island, where we spend an afternoon and I can make my annual pilgrimage to Churchmouse Yarns & Teas (and don’t forget the world’s best ice cream at Mora!) Then, the long drive home.
Here’s a photo essay of this year’s trip:Pin It
A fun three days in San Francisco and the bay area – although the 14-hour drive on either side of those three days was a little much!
Day 1: Walk to the Golden Gate Bridge, shop and browse along Chestnut Street, eat at Super Duper Burger and stop at Kara’s Cupcakes for dessert.
Day 2: Day trip to Monterey Bay Aquarium, eat fish and chips on the waterfront, visit Stanford (my alma mater) on the way back.
Day 3: Breakfast in Haight-Ashbury, then on to Golden Gate Park – the California Academy of Sciences museum, hot dogs while sitting at the bandstand, then a stroll around Stow Lake and a visit with the lake’s extensive population of painted turtles!
A lot of wonderful things to see and do, although I had forgotten how crowded it is EVERYWHERE in the Bay area . . . I confess to being glad to come home to the peace and serenity of our country house 🙂Pin It
It’s so ironic that it’s already April, and only just now is the snowpack getting really good on Mt. Hood! We took advantage of a break in the spring rains for a late-season family day on the slopes.
The results of our traditional heading-up-the-mountain stop at Joe’s Donuts.
We can already tell on the drive up that it’s going to be a beautiful day to ski on Mt. Hood!
The crew crests the top of the hill on the Express Lift.
Ready to head down the mountain!
I’m loving the bluebird sky up on Cascade . . .Pin It
We just returned from a week in paradise – the Turks & Caicos Islands in the Caribbean, to be precise. I’ve traveled fairly extensively in the South Pacific and around Hawaii, and nothing can compare to this beautiful place! The sand is white powder, so soft it feels like powdered sugar . . . because the water is shallow along many of the beaches, the color of the water is an unearthly turquoise, and there are only small waves to stir up the sand and cloud the visibility. As a result, you can walk out into the water for hundreds of yards without getting in too deep, and once you start to swim, the water is calm and a warm 80 degrees or so.
We rented a villa this time, opting to get away from the busy hotel strip, and as a result, we had the entire beach in front of our villa almost entirely to ourselves for swimming, kayaking, and lounging.
We day-tripped to Malcolm Road Beach twice – both times it was almost completely deserted and we had the entire stretch of miles of beach all to ourselves.
We spent three days out on the water with Big Blue Diving, whale watching, snorkeling, and scuba diving. Our oldest daughter accomplished her first solo dive to 40 feet, and we dove past 100 feet – although the water was so clear and warm, it hardly felt like half that depth. We saw sting rays, reef sharks, nurse sharks, giant groupers having their mouths cleaned by tiny little fish, six-foot grey snapper, barracuda, countless flying fish, a beautiful array of angelfish, butterfly fish, and tiny iridescent fish in all sorts of colors.
The highlight was a chance encounter with a thirty-foot whale shark – not a native to the area, he was just passing through, but stopped to swim with us for over an hour. He was as curious about us as we were about him, and oftentimes we had to swim away so that we didn’t end up on his back or pushed into his gigantic nose!
During one outing, our boat anchored at shell beach on one of the cays for a snack, shell-hunting, and the world’s most gorgeous view.
We also ventured out to Long Bay Beach – not a great place for swimming, but we loved watching the kite boarders, and there were so many conch shells washed up, we lost count.
We all agreed that this was the best vacation that any of us had ever had, in one of the most beautiful places on earth!Pin It
Late fall is my favorite time of year – it finally gets cold and chilly enough to justify hunkering down by the fire in the parlor, with a cup of tea and nothing on my Sunday morning agenda but knitting. As you can see, Comet (one of our four cats) fully endorses this activity 🙂Pin It
To complete our playroom remodel, I added a craft room “nook” for my daughters. Of course, the underlying motivation for this part of the remodel was to take back my own craft room, which has been overrun with their painting, drawing, sewing, and general let’s-make-a-huge-mess crafting projects since they were old enough to toddle in there and reach the shelves . . .
I’m really happy with how this turned out, and so far it seems to function perfectly for their needs. The butcher block table and legs are from IKEA, and the stools are from Natural Furniture, a local Portland shop. They came unfinished, so each girl got to pick her paint color and paint her own stool. The table seemed low – only approx 30″ high – but I preferred the typical tabletop height to a work table height of 36″.
My friend built the shelves from melamine picked up at Home Depot and cut to the proper size. I like the functionality of the adjustable shelves, which I spaced at various heights to accommodate books, baskets, storage containers, and a narrow shelving for paper. The baskets are old Pottery Barn Kids storage we’ve had around for years – I like the chalkboard labels attached with twine. The various glass storage jars came from IKEA, as well.
I bought two of these sets of mini-drawers here to keep all of the small craft items organized – bells, googly eyes, stickers, buttons, etc. They came out nicely, but were a lot of work, and I wasn’t impressed with the product – it came unassembled, with no directions, and no way of holding it together. I used ingenuity and craft glue, and so far it’s holding, but I wouldn’t say it’s the sturdiest structure in the world . . . I painted the outside and used scrapbook paper to cover the drawer fronts.
The pegboard is my favorite part – it came in white, and my friend cut it to size and mounted it on a wood frame (to keep it away from the wall enough to insert the pegs). I picked up all sorts of cool attachments at Home Depot, including the small wires baskets for things like glue and glitter, the hooks for our Pottery Barn Kids buckets full of pencils, and the magnets for scissors and hole punchers.
I think that there will be enough shelving to accommodate the girls’ growing collection of crafting supplies, enough small storage to accommodate all of the tiny craft pieces, and enough table space for all three of them to work. They weren’t crazy about being “relocated” at first, but are now very enthusiastic about their new space, and hopefully it will inspire them to keep it clean and organized – at least occasionally 🙂Pin It
As my girls have gotten older, their collection of books has multiplied exponentially, forcing me to look for different storage options. As they’ve begun to outgrow their beautiful, hardbound picture books, I haven’t wanted to get rid of our favorites, but they often sit for months in the bookshelf, unnoticed.
My solution was two-fold – first, I used photo display railings from IKEA to create a display wall for our favorite picture books. I used an empty wall in the playroom, and positioned Patrick, our ever-faithful FAO Schwartz dog, next to the railings to create a comfy reading nook.
Next, I sold the Pottery Barn Kids bookshelves – cute, but too small now – and bought this monolith of shelving from IKEA to house the remaining picture books and the girls’ ever-expanding collection of chapter books. The top two rows of cubbies are pretty high, but I figured that the girls could use them to store all of their display items and “precious” valuables.
Now I just have to find a step stool so that we can all reach the top shelves and railings!Pin It
We took a wonderful family vacation to British Columbia this past week – here’s a pictorial journal of our trip:
The first leg of our trip was to Vancouver, B.C., where we spent the day in Stanley Park:
We spent several hours at the Vancouver Aquarium, where we got to see beluga whales, many different kinds of jellyfish, dolphins, penguins, otters, and a great sea lions / seals show:
The Aquarium also had an impressive Amazon rainforest exhibit, that included blue macaws and scarlet ibis:
We rented bikes for the girls and rode the entire circumference of Stanley Park – a perfect ride with kids, because it’s flat, great views, on a separated one-way bike path:
We stopped for lunch partway around the island at the Teahouse, then walked along Ferguson Point to admire the northwest views:
We also stopped to watch a mama river otter bring up crabs for her two babies to eat – they were on rocks right off of the seawall, no more than ten feet from where we stood:
The next day, we traveled by water bus to Granville Island:
We visited the artists’ studios and grabbed breakfast at the amazing public market, with an untold number of food and art booths:
There was a quiet park at the end of Granville Island where we took a few minutes to relax, enjoy the view, and escape from the crowds:
The next day, Rich and I went for an early ride all along Vancouver’s amazing bike trails, with multiple stops to admire the views:
Then we drove to Tsawwassen and boarded a ferry to the Gulf Islands:
We stayed at Poet’s Cove on Pender Island – this is the sunset view from our cottage:
Here’s the water view of Poet’s Cove, as we traveled by boat the next morning to the Saturday Market on Salt Spring Island:
On our final day, we went kayaking around the island:
We saw so much wildlife, including a buck grazing at sunrise right off our deck, many blue herons, and this huge unidentified jellyfish:
One of our favorite sights was the abundant bright purple starfish:
We returned to Pender Island’s bookstore, bakery, and the Cafe at Hope Bay – a wonderful place to sit out on the dock and have lunch – we were buzzed by a bald eagle, flying right above our heads:
Our final leg of the journey was to travel by boat to Roche Harbor on San Juan Island – every year we hike Stuart Island to Turnpoint Lighthouse and take some gorgeous pictures, but this year we visited Turnpoint Lighthouse by sea:
Rich and I were married at Roche Harbor 15 years ago, and always enjoy returning to see the chapel:
and the 1920s-style resort:
Every time we visit Roche Harbor, we walk through the sculpture garden – the girls love all of the different art, and find some very unique ways to interact with the sculptures:
Finally, we celebrated our last night in the islands with ice cream on the dock:
We even enjoyed our drive home, going to Knead and Feed in Coupeville (with the world’s best breakfasts and cinnamon rolls the size of your head), taking the ferry from Coupeville to Port Townsend, then spending the afternoon on beautiful Bainbridge Island, and driving home via the Olympic Peninsula.Pin It
My daughters’ entrepreneurial spirit is in full swing this summer – usually their attempts at a lemonade stand are thwarted by the fact that we live out in the country and have no foot traffic to speak of (or any traffic at all, for that matter). This summer, they came up with the brilliant idea to market their goodies to all of the kids who come to our pool for swim lessons. With the exception of a lot of bickering amongst themselves, they’ve done an admirable job of creating the stand, the menu, the supplies list, and taking “shifts” on sales days. I tried to tell them that I should get a share of the profits for providing the venue, but they weren’t too receptive to that idea 🙂Pin It
Saturday was the annual shearing day for our small herd of three alpacas. Here they are before, looking very shaggy and hot on this sunny day:
Here’s a “during” shot, showing the first shear, when the shearer is taking off the entire back fleece in one piece, like a blanket. This piece is called the “first,” and is regarded as the best fleece on the animal. “First” cuts and “seconds” (typically off the sides and neck) can be used to spin yarn, but the “thirds” (off the legs, head, and trimming up all over) are scraps and can’t be used for much of anything.
And here’s the “after” photo – do they look cooler? Well, maybe temperature-wise, but I’m not sure that the toothpick look is particularly cool style-wise! I like how you can see the shearing tracks on their coats:Pin It
Maizy, our Great Pyrenees, recently turned two years old – I guess she’s really not a puppy anymore (not that she’s looked anything like a puppy for a long time!) She is an amazing farm dog – guards the property but never strays outside the perimeter of our acreage (well, almost never), alerts us to visitors and looks ferocious enough to “protect” us, but never hurts anyone . . . granted, she barks all night, but as I’m sure she’d say, that’s the work she’s paid to do, and we’ve not seen a coyote on our property since the day we brought her home.
She used to chew up all of our packages when they were left on the front porch, which was NOT an endearing quality, but that seems to have declined; I still wouldn’t advise leaving out an item that you don’t want to lose when you jump in the pool or play in the yard, but I forgive her for most of her doggy qualities like this. Truth be told, she’s a huge wussy dog – the epitome of “her bark is worse than her bite.”
I wish we were up for another dog, so that she would have a playmate, but she seems to settle for keeping me company in the garden and hanging out at the pool when the kids are swimming. Perhaps setting up some more doggy playdates is the answer . . .Pin It
One of our more original birthday cake designs – a bunny and a beaver, racing to the finish line. Note that the beaver is the safer driver, wearing a helmet (I guess the bunny couldn’t get one over her ears) but of course, his tail is sticking out the back, acting as a wind shear . . .Pin It
The final step in our master bedroom / bathroom suite – installation of hardwoods in the bedroom and the closet – is finally done. Because there are so many other competing colors and types of wood in this room (particularly cherry), and because of the different wood in the hallway (red oak) that connects at the threshold to the bedroom, I wanted to choose something completely different, that wouldn’t “almost match but not really.” I went with a dark walnut with a hand-planed finish – so the finish is slightly irregular, as if finished by hand, and you can see the natural wood striations and even knotholes.
For me, projects like this are always such a leap of faith, because I don’t have the ability to really picture how it will look when finished. Luckily, this turned out gorgeous! It’s especially beautiful when the sun comes through our huge, south-facing windows. I had window treatments on these windows for twelve years, but discovered when I took them down for the remodel how much it opens the room to have nothing and at, and the beautiful window frames – not to mention the views outside – are more than enough decoration.
My big bump alpaca rug looks so lovely against the dark walnut, and it’s such a treat to sink my feet into when I get up in the mornings.
I know that eventually I will want some rugs down, but for now, I’m just going to enjoy the look and the feel of the wood 🙂Pin It
One of our ongoing family activities is “urban hikes” – a chance to get out and about, and introduce the girls to all of the different neighborhoods in Portland. There are so many cool places that even I’ve never seen, and I’ve lived here most of my life! Each different part of the city has a different feel, and it’s fun to talk about what it must be like to live there, how it’s different (and the same) from where we live, and to explore the shops, parks, and foodstuffs (we’re particularly always on the lookout for cupcake shops!)
Last weekend, we chose NE Alberta Street – known in Portland as a hip, kinda edgy, up-and-coming neighborhood with a lot of young people. We found Green Bean Books, an awesome independent bookstore tucked away in a tiny little house that specializes mainly in children’s books. We also found a crafting mecca, in the form of Collage, Modern Domestic, Bolt, and Close Knit – I’d died and gone to fabric and yarn heaven! We passed up Salt & Straw
(and the long line, even on a chilly day in March) to visit Random Order Coffeehouse and Bakery – an interesting combination of a (liquor) bar and a (pie) bar owned by someone we went to law school with (a much better career choice than becoming a lawyer, I’d say!) The pie was AMAZING – of course, we only sampled the chocolate cream (my entire family being chocoholics), but the many other varieties looked incredible, too.
We rounded out the day by getting my oldest daughter’s ears pierced (well really, just one ear – she got them pierced for her 12th birthday, and one had closed up, so we rectified that) and window shopping up and down Alberta between 12th and 26th. The weather cooperated – just barely – but it was too cold for a longer walk to one of the nearby parks. There were several restaurants along the way – all pretty much hole-in-the-wall establishments – that I’d love to come back and try another day.
It’s been more than a decade since our house was built, and I was starting to feel that the master bathroom was boring and out of date . . . I’d never liked it that much anyway, and when the grout began to get moldy and cleaning just wasn’t cutting it, I made the jump and decided on a complete remodel. We had all of the tile removed, and replaced the tub, sinks, and faucets, but we didn’t have to make any structural changes.
I chose a theme of natural products – stone and wood (well, tile made to look like wood!) with some small accents of metal. Here’s the story in photos:
Because the master bathroom and bedroom are so connected, I decided that a bathroom remodel warranted a bedroom remodel 🙂 I posted photos of the new quilt and some of the new wall art earlier; I chose corresponding fabrics and had the furniture in the room reupholstered, too:
Finally, our friend and woodworker extraordinare Jay Younger made this unique mantel for the gas fireplace:
Our installers were Casey Beatty of CMB Properties, Inc and Dana Geister of Timber & Steel Artisan Builders – they did beautiful work, and came up with many small touches and attention to detail that really enhanced the end result. The final part of the project is to have the carpet ripped out and hardwoods installed – that happens later this month, stay tuned for photos!Pin It
Comet, the newest addition to our cat menagerie, was officially my daughter Bella’s Christmas present, but he arrived a few weeks early . . . with his orange-tipped ears and bright blue eyes, he looks exactly like a Flame Point Siamese, but who knows, since he’s a rescue kitty from our local no-kill shelter. Four months old, he has the sweetest disposition and is all about being held and loved – probably because he was bottle-fed by his foster family from the time he was two weeks old, when his mom was hit and killed by a car. I’m glad we can give him a happy Christmas with his own family to love him and a spot on the rug in front of the fire on cold, rainy nights 🙂Pin It
In the evenings, when I knit in the parlor by the fire, three of our four cats congregate there, oftentimes stretched out as close as they can get to the gas fire’s heating vents. Socks, our large black and white tuxedo cat, always claims his spot on the ottoman I rest my feet on – and he makes an excellent foot warmer! I’ve never seen a cat that actually likes having his human rest her feet on him.
The stockings were hung on the mantel with care . . . hmmm, I think that stockings aren’t the only thing on the mantel here. This telltale tail belongs to Marmalade, who frequently stakes out as spot on the mantel above the fireplace, because the wood heats up and gets toasty warm.Pin It
A photo essay of Bella’s 10th birthday:
Her cake, decorated by my mom in our family tradition of choosing a theme that reflects the birthday girl’s interests that year – so of course, Bella’s theme is books!
The tissue pom flowers I made as decoration – they didn’t turn out as well as the ones on the directions, but I like them well enough.
Per Bella’s request, we served Voodoo doughnuts (a Portland icon) at her Sunday morning party with her friends.
Check out the ones topped with Captain Crunch, Oreos, Coco Puffs, and bubble gum!
And finally, because it’s just too amazing not to document, Bella’s birthday list – this is only a partial list mind you, she added so many sheets that it ran on to the next wall.
She has thoughtfully categorized her wish list, and in many places, lists the catalog or website where the item can be found 🙂
I saw this idea on Pinterest – a photo collage, comprised of nine canvas blocks (I made mine 8″ square). The example I saw had some black & white photos and some color, which I really liked, but for our Hawaii trip photos, they all looked better in color. I wanted a mixture of a few with us in the shots, and then others that just showed things that were representative to me of our Hawaii trip. Flowers, a dive mask, sea turtles, the beach at Kue Bay, a bright green gecko, and our daily frozen yogurt with the beach in the background . . . each make interesting photos in and of themselves, but also invoke specific memories for me of our week in Kona.
The photos reproduce really well on canvas – in the picture above, you can see the texture of the canvas backing through the photos, but that’s only because of how the flash is reflected on the surface, in “real life” this doesn’t show up at all.
I ordered the canvas photo blocks from Canvas On Demand, and then hung them with Command Picture Hanging Strips (I found these at Michaels) – because the canvas blocks aren’t that heavy, these strips worked perfectly, they’re like velcro designed specifically for hanging photos or frames, and because they just stick to the photo and then stick to the wall, you can move them around or make minute adjustments. Thank goodness, because if I had had to put nails in the wall for each one of these, I would never have had a chance of getting them straight or even!Pin It