Archive for the ‘life’ category

Hiking to Margaret Lake

August 30th, 2010

A few weeks ago, I had my summer break week.  As in, there was a week when I did not have classes and I did not have to teach.  It was a wonderful, magical time filled with lots of sleep and sunshine.  There was also this fun little hike.  SIL S and I decided that even though the weather in Seattle was grey and cloudy, we bet that on the other side of Snoqulamie Pass, there might be sunshine to be found.  We were right!  We decided to hike up to Margaret Lake, and figured that, as it was a weekday, it wouldn’t be too crowded.  We were right, and were given the wonderful gift of having the trail essential to ourselves.  Sweet!

 

The first few miles of the trail follow the same trail as the trail to Twin Lakes, but the way to Margaret Lake drops off at the ridge instead of continuing on to Twin Lakes.  The hike up is exposed and warm until you get through an old clear cut and into some nice old (er) growth near the ridge. Oh, and there are Rainier views, which are always sweet.  As I mentioned, you quickly drop over the other side of the ridge down a steeper and rougher trail down to the lake.  The lake its self is on the small side but very pretty, with Mount Margaret as the backdrop and pikas whistling all around.  The day was warm, and so was the lake!  We swam around for about 20 minutes before settling down for lunch.  It was so peaceful to have the lake all to ourselves.  What a treat.  I need to hike more on the weekdays! 

 

Tom’s SURPRISE Party!

August 23rd, 2010

 

Tom and I had a wonderful time celebrating his birthday together, but I knew that he would want a party with all of his friends as well.  Several months ago, I contacted pretty much everyone we knew to see who would be interested and available to come to a surprise birthday party for Tom.  I also solicited ideas about where and when we should have the party. We decided on the weekend following his birthday,  and decided to have a big camping party.  In college, camping parties were a staple, and I figured it would be a nice throwback.  So I rallied the troops, roped some folks into helping out, and jumped into party planning mode with both feet.  It was not easy keeping the secret from Tom, and there were MANY logistical details to work out and coordinate, but with lots of help from friends, and some good luck from the weather gods, I was able to pull off the surprise. 

  

 

We ended up camping at Penrose Point State Park, which is south and west from Tacoma.  I reserved three campsites, and got as many people to come as possible.  Folks arrived around 4:00 to start setting up tents, food and of course, booze.  Tom and I arrived a little after 5:00, and everyone was there, waiting at the site, with party hats and noise makers.  He was totally surprised.  It was wonderful! 

 

We spent the evening with our friends, laughing, drinking, and grilling.  There was a dinosaur cake, cheese balls, snacks and many grillables.  There was a whole picnic table for drinks.  There was swimming in the ocean, and staying up late talking around the fire.  I was so glad that everything came together in the end, that so many of our friends were there to celebrate with Tom, and that he was, indeed surprised.  Thank you so much to all of our friends who helped out!  It was great!

Happy Birthday Tom!

August 22nd, 2010

On August 11th, Tom turned 30!!  Since we’ve both had a very busy summer, he decided to take the day off so we could enjoy it together.  We started the morning with a cupcake party!  The previous day, SIL Suz came over, and we proceeded to make 30 cupcakes, in three different flavors, (ten of each flavor).  It was chaos, with two stand mixers going, and flour flying, but we got them finished, iced and hidden before Tom came home.  The next morning, I set the cupcakes up in the number 30 followed by a !, and surrounded with Reese’s Cups, his favorite candy.  It was so cool. 

 

Cupcakes were followed by presents.  He got lots of pretty cool presents this year, including some handmade pillows from his mom, a Lego headlamp from his sister, a GPS from my mom and Charles, and finally a Lego Star Wars set set,  one of our pictures if Mt Baker printed on canvas, and tickets to see The Waifs from me. 

 

 

After present time, we went for a hike!  We wanted to do a hike which wasn’t too far from home, as we had to get back in time for the concert that evening.  We decided on Snow Lake, which is a short, fun, flower-filled hike on the I-90 corridor not too far from the house.  We had great weather that day, lots of sunshine.  Even though it was the middle of the week, there were still a fair number of folks on the trail, but it’s a popular route, so we weren’t too surprised.  We had a yummy lunch, (complete with cupcakes!), at the lake, took a quick dip, and headed back.

 

 

After cleaning up from the hike, we headed into Seattle.  The concert was at The Triple Door, which is this neat venue that shares the building, (and the kitchen), with one of Seattle’s ymmiest restaurants, Wild Ginger.  The deal with this venue is, you arrive early, eat dinner and have some drinks, then the musicians come on stage.  It’s like dinner theatre, except with music instead of theatre.  The band, The Waifs, is a folk/rock band from Australia that we both like.  The show was excellent!

 

  

Tom’s birthday was a very fun, long day, that he seemed to love.  Happy Birthday Tom!  Here’s to many more!

Little did he know, there was still more fun waiting from him that weekend…

What’s Cookin? Pasta Salad!

August 17th, 2010

So it’s been like a gazillion degrees around here for the past few days.  Now, I know that I’m from the south, and all of you VA readers are probably laughing at my weak sauce, west coast, can’t handle the heat, wimpiness, but y’all have AC so you can shut it.  For the past few days, it’s been around 90 degrees.  IN OUR HOUSE.  Right.  So I decided I would no longer cook.  Too hot, too much stuff, and again, too hot.  But…then I got hungry.  And so did Tom.  So it seemed that I needed to provide food for us after all, since we’re trying  to be healthier, and really, eating cheese balls out of the can does NOT count as a meal.  Or so I’m told.

So I made pasta salad.  The only cooking involved was the 8minutes it took to boil the pasta.  Sweet.  I adaped this recipe from the Tasty Kitchen by adding a carrot form our garden and an extra green pepper, and also left out the tomatoes…cause I dont’ like them.  It resulted in a wonderful, cool meal we could eat on our porch.  Win.  Plus, look how pretty!

Recipe (please disregard the fact that there is a zucchini in the ingredients photo, I didn’t end up using it):

1 box Acini di Pepe pasta, cooked and cooled

1 green pepper, chopped

1 orange pepper, chopped

1/2 red onion, diced

1 carrot, chopped

about a 1/4 cup of mixed olive oil and balsamic vinegar – (to this I also added about 1/2 tsp of oregano, garlic powder and a pinch of black pepper)

Mix it all together and allow to cool in the fridge for about an hour. 

Add grated parmesan to the top if you like that kind of thing.  I know I do.

Hiking to Ingalls Lake

August 16th, 2010

If I haven’t mentioned it before, I have a thing for alpine lakes.  I’m not sure what it is, but something about scrambling around rocks, through trees, over ridges and finding a beautiful lake, nestled between old, mossy trees, surrounded by towering peaks, just gets me every time.  Now, I’m all for getting up high atop mountain peaks and seeing the world all spread out before me. That’s amazing and awe inspiring and grand.  However, when I’m truly looking for peace in the wild, for me, it doesn’t get much better than the quiet beauty and splendor of an alpine lake.  This lake was no exception.

Lake Ingalls is a popular day hike near the Teanaway and just over the ridge into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.  The trail is very exposed for most of the way, and as it’s on the eastern slopes of the Cascades, the trail is much drier than over here in the west.  Oh, and you come up over the ridge over 6,000 ft, which is about when I start noticing diminishing O2 and start sucking even more wind.  After cresting the ridge, however, you’re still not there.  Which just seems cruel to me.  You are greeted with jaw-dropping views of Mt. Stuart though, as well as the black-fly welcome committee.  It’s still about another mile of gentle downhill followed by a short, but very steep, scramble.  All of this just serves to make the view at the lake that much sweeter. 

 

When we finally got up there, we thanked our lucky stars that we were able to drag our sorry, sleepy butts out of bed and into the car on that rainy morning.  Sun greeted us at a lake that we had it all to ourselves.  When the sunlight hit the lake directly, it glowed a turquoise green color that I have never seen before. Beautiful. 

 

 We both took quick dips to cool off and sunned ourselves on rocks like lizards while we ate our lunch, (it was late afternoon, but we’ll still call it lunch).  The hike back down is rocky and steep, and my knees were screaming the whole way, but it was totally worth it. 

 

 

Mom and Charles Came to Say Hello!

August 13th, 2010

 

Two weekends ago Mom and Charles came out to the northwest neck of the woods for a few days.  It was great to see them, since they live so very far away.  We’ve been really lucky to have seen lots of family this summer, and to show them many of the wonderful things we love about living in Washington.  The thing we wanted to do most with them was take a hike.  As you know, Tom and I love to hike, and to explore the wild places around our beautiful state, and we really wanted to share this with them.  We headed up to Mason Lake, which is on the Ira Spring Memorial Trail out in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.  It was cloudy and cool in Seattle that day, but after we were hiking for a while, we got above the clouds and into the sunshine.  The weather warmed up and Tom and Charles even took a swim in the lake!

 

Another highlight of their trip was venturing into Seattle, and visiting the Olympic Sculpture Park for a picnic,  as well as Pike Place Market.  We packed a great lunch and were able to “use” some of the art as our picnic table.  (Don’t worry, it’s allowed.)

 

 

Tom also prepared a wonderful dinner, which we shared with friends.  It’s great to have our house filled with our friends and family, it’s one of our favorite things of all.We had a great time with Mom and Charles on their visit!  We hope to get them back out here soon!

Garden. It’s where the veggies come from.

July 30th, 2010

One of my favorite things about my husband is that he likes to garden.  Strike that, he LOVES to garden.  I think he might actually be having an affair with the garden, actually.  Hmmm. 

Now, this isn’t your average flower garden folks.  No, this a functional, manly, vegetable garden!  (Though sometimes he’ll sneak in a sunflower or two for me cause he loves me.)  It is from our garden, that we get most of our summer, and now a fair number of our winter vegetables.  Now, I take no credit whatsoever for the creation, planting or maintenance of our garden, but I do cook yummy, tasty meals from it’s products.  And photograph it.  And that counts for something right?  Right?

So here’s an update on are awesome, totally sweet garden.  Since our days are long and warm this summer, our tomatoes are out of control, our scarlet runner beans have taken over the hop vines and are making a run for the roof.  The kale and lettuces are nearing the end of their early summer peak, and we just harvested about 30 cloves of garlic which are now “curing” in the garage for fall and winter consumption.  We’ve also got carrots, onions, okra, basil, potatoes, more varieties of beans and heirloom tomatoes.  All we’re lacking is a chicken or two. 

 

 

It’s pretty cool to be able to produce most of our summer veggies right here next to our house.  We have a very small lot, and Tom has created this garden literally out of nothing using raised beds, compost and lots of time and energy.  Hurray for the garden!

Extra bonus points if you can identify all the plants shown in this post!

Happy Anniversary

July 9th, 2010

…a few days late.  But better late than never!  On July 4th, we celebrated our 1 year anniversary!  It’s been quite an amazing ride.  We’ve gone on trips and beautiful hikes, we’ve made delicious food and spent many wonderful nights with dear friends, we’ve continued to challenge, grow and love each other.  Marriage is not always easy.  It takes effort, attention and chocolate chip cookies.  It takes compromise and “I’m sorry”.  It takes admitting you were wrong. It’s flexibility, and allowance for your other.  It takes partnership, passion, determination and caring.  It takes love. On our wedding day, I asked a dear friend, “What is the secret to marriage?”  She responded, “It’s not 50/50, it’s 100/100.  You always have to give your full 100.”  Was she ever right.  On our one year and 5 day-a-versary, I promise to continue to give my 100%.  Love ya husband!

And now for some gratuitous wedding pictures. 

We got married at the House Mountain Inn, a small bed and breakfast in the Blue Ridge Moutains of Virginia.  I’m originally from Richmond, and Tom’s family owns property in Goshen, Virginina, also in the mountains near our B&B.  In fact, we had our rehearsal dinner at his family farm.  It is a place near and dear to our hearts.  Let’s see a picture from there shall we? 

 

I love “getting ready” shots.  It was great that the photographers we worked withwere a husband and wife team.  She could get right in there with us girls while we were all getting dolled up.  I got very emotional after I put on my dress.  I was finally realizing that I was “a bride”.  Then my dad came in.  Dad has had many health complications over the years, and one of the things I always prayed for when he was so sick, was that he’d be there, one day, to walk me down the aisle.   So when he walked into the room, looking all handsome in his tux, I pretty much lost it.  Like, total, hysterical crying mess.  I have never felt such overwhelming gratitute in my life.  I reverted to little girl mode.  I was so happy that my daddy was there for me on my wedding day.  It is a moment I will never, ever forget. 

 

   

Ok, so now I’m crying again.  Let’s move on to something a little lighter.  Here’s the wedding venue!  Stunning.  As we got married on the 4thof July, we were a little afraid that it would be like 150  degrees with 120% humidity, which was very possible, given that it was Virginia in the summertime.  And we were getting married outside.  We lucked out though, and we had a beautiful day, right around 75 degrees with a light breeze. 

 

We got married!  The pastor may have called us the “Dolphins”, to be “funny”, as it rhymes with our last name, and Tom may have cried so hard during his vows that I don’t think anyone understood a word he said, but we did it!  Afterwords, it was time to eat, cut the cake, and party.  And party we did.  We had so much fun at our wedding.  We danced almost every dance.  I have never felt so surrounded by love and joy.  It truly was the most amazing night of my life. 

 

Our wedding was amazing, but so is our marriage.  Here’s to many more years of fun and happiness! 

All photos are from Don Mears Photography in Richmond, Virginia.  Check them out.  They rock.  I’ll be writing another post about some of the details that went into our wedding.  Soon.

What’s Cookin’? Spring and Early Summer

June 29th, 2010

We’ve been doing a lot of cooking around here recently.  I’ve been relying on old standards such as The Pioneer Woman, Joy the BakerSmitten Kitchen,  Williams Sonoma, and, of course, Martha.  Tom’s been doing some cooking too!  Well, he mostly just cooks one thing.  Pizza. But man, does he cook pizza!  Seriously folks, I’m spoiled for life because of this man.  Here’s a peek at some of the delicious things that have been coming out of our kitchen…

 

In order from left to right, Chocolate Dipped Macaroons, (which I whipped too much and they turned out like meringues, which was NOT a bad thing), Blueberry Crumb Bars, and Two Chocolate Endpaper Tart, (ah, Martha). 

 

 

Fresh Veggie Soft Tacos, (with greens from our garden), pizza makings, (we LOVE prosciutto), Caramelized Onion Red Pepper Prosciutto Pizza, and Caramelized Onion Prosciutto Pizza.  Oh my, if you like pizza, you need  to make that last one.  Did I mention that we like pizza?   And cured meat products apparently, (sorry vegan friends). 

Since it is now summer time, and our garden and farmer’s markets are in full swing, expect more food posts to involve local food!  Yay!

10 Years Ago

June 1st, 2010

Ten years ago:

Clinton was president.  Sepetember 11th was just the day after September 10th.  We survived the Y2K panic.  National unemployment was 4%.  American Beauty won Best Picture at the Oscars.   I lived in Virginia.  I was 17.  And I graduated from high school.  Dad was there too, along with the rest of my family.

And now I’m headed back.  Though it’s Virginia, not Dodge.  Headed back to 95 degree heat, Republicans, the James River, southern accents and white linen pants.  Yes, indeed, it’s my 10 year reunion y’all.  A time for folks to compare designer purses, talk about your 2.5 kids and try to look as skinny as possible.  Personally, I’m hoping for just the last one.  Though with the heat, I may just sweat off a few extra pounds before the reuion starts.

This 10 year thing has made me feel oddly introspective recently.  I wondered, what would my life look like in the snapshot form that often is used to describe one’s life at events such as these.  Here’s what I came up with:

 ”Oh yes, I’m recently married.  My husband and I live in a rich, suburban neighborhood.  I’m a teacher and he works in the software industry.  Look at my shiny new SUV and my huge diamond ring.  Isn’t my life awesome?  “

Oh yuck. Oh gag.  OH horrible sterotype we never wanted to be!  But as I started to panic about becoming a founding member of the Real Housewives of Seattle club,  and needing to find defences to all of these things whether for myself or for others, I took a moment to think about the depth, the real life, and the love that shape all of those statements above.

“Oh yes, I’m recently married, and he works in the software industry” – To my best friend, the man of my dreams, the one who I wouldn’t care if he worked at Wendy’s and lived in a van down by the river, I wouldn’t have anyone else. 

My husband and I live in rich, suburban neighborhood” - We live in a house which we affectionatly call the Dr. Seuss house because it’s so weird, funky, and quirky.  It used to have purple shutters ok?  Our neighborhood is also wildly diverse (as is most of Seattle); in fact we can walk to 6 different ethnic restaurants.

I’m a teacher” – At a bilingual school.  Where I get to practice French every day. 

Look at my huge diamond ring” – That was my husband’s great-grandmothers.  The diamond is set in a band that that same husband designed himself.  Did I mention he rocks?

“And  my shiny new SUV” – OK, so it is pretty sweet.  But it also has 4 wheel drive to take us to the mountains where we pretty much spend all of our free time. 

 

Isn’t my life awesome?” -  YOU BET YOUR ASS IT IS.