Archive for the ‘family’ category

Visiting Lexington, Virginia

November 24th, 2010

So after we left Dad and Sharon in West Virginia, we headed east towards Lexington, Virginia, where Tom’s parents have recently bought a new house.  If you recall, Lexington was where Tom and I got married, so it’s always nice to visit and now we’ll be visiting there quite frequently!  Tom’s parents are still in the process of doing a total remodel on the house, so they are still staying at the family farm in Goshen, which is about a half hour outside Lexington, when they are working on the house in Lexington.  The new house is beautiful and I can’t wait to see it in its finished state.

We spent two days in the area.  The first day, we went with Tom’s parents over to Wade’s Mill, a historical flour mill which still grinds the flour using a water wheel.  Very cool.  We got to meet the folks who run the place and they let us take a peek around the mill.  I’d never really seen how flour was made, so it was an interesting process.  One that I still don’t really understand, but that’s why they do it and not me.  We spent the night at the farm, which is one of our favorite places in the world.  We’ve been going there throughout our entire relationship and it holds a special place in our hearts.  It’s also where we had our rehearsal dinner and we hadn’t been back since, so it was a nice place to spend a few days. 

 

 

 

The next morning, Tom and I went for a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway and did a hike up there as well.  The leaves were all changing and it was literally a riot of color along the ridges.  We hiked the Apple Orchard Falls Trail, which intersects the Appalachian Trail.  It is what I call an “inside out” hike, meaning you hike downhill to your destination and then back UPHILL to get back to your car.  This is not my favorite kind of hike.  However, I was distracted by the pretty leaves, the rich smells of the forest that are so different from our forests here in the Pacific Northwest and by the amazingly beautiful waterfalls.  So I didn’t mind the “inside out” characteristics of the hike.  Too much. 

 

After our hike, we continued to drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway to Buchanan, where we HAD to check out a swinging bridge that Tom remembered from his childhood.  Now, I should include that Tom’s memory of this bridge is not a pleasant one.  In fact, it terrified him.  Apparently there was much crying involved the last time he had to cross this swinging bridge.  When we arrivied at the bridge, I could see how it could be scary for a child.  The bridge does not meet the side of the road at a 90 degree angle as it should.  Instead, it does this weird slanting thing before it levels out.  Truly terrifying indeed.

We stayed at the farm again that night, and in the morning we wandered around Lexington for a bit and paid a visit to my favorite bookshop of all time, The Bookery.  Now, I have a thing for book stores in general, but this one is truely unique.  Jam packed, wall to wall, floor to ceiling BOOKS.  I mean everywhere.  It’s kind of amazing.  Its what I secretly wish my house looked like. 

Later that afternooon we headed down the road to visit Mom and Charles in Richmond….

Visiting Victoria

September 20th, 2010

Over Labor Day weekend the weather forecast in the Cascades was for rain, as is the usual these days it seems.  Wanting to escape as much of the wet as possible, and still feel like we had a vacation, we turned our sites north.  To Canada that is.  We took the ferry up on Saturday morning under beautiful blue skies and landed in Sidney, just outside of Victoria around lunchtime.

 

We went directly to Goldstream Provincial Parkto make sure that we got a campsite for the night.  We decided to camp the first night, as the weather was supposed to be nice.  The campground was very pleasant, with wide sites and a beautiful forest, and our tent was right at home.

The afternoon was spent eating lunch, and wandering around the harbor side in downtown Victoria, looking at all the Britishish architecture.  We ducked inside the ivy-covered Empress Hotel, decided that the tea was way too outrageously expensive, and decided to visit the gift shop, and return for the free tour on Monday instead.

 

That evening, we headed over to Butchart Gardents, though we were unclear as to how the flowers would look at this sometimes awkward time between summer and fall.  I’m glad we went though, as the dahlias were in full bloom and stunning.  There was also a beautiful rose garden, Japanese garden, and manicured “sunken” garden.  It rained on us a bit, but the well trained workers at the Garden were quick to hand out adorable clear umbrellas to everyone.  Butchart Gardens is a very well oiled machine, with helpers always at the ready to hand out an umbrella, direct you to the nearest hot chocolate stand, or give away “blanket weights” for holding down your picnic blanket for the fireworks later in the evening.  The fireworks show was one of the best I’ve ever seen, and it left me wide eyed as a little girl, as fireworks often do. 

    

 

 

The following day we hiked up Mount  Finlayson, which was in the provincial park we camped in. The trail was noted as being “steep, rugged, and hard to follow”.  Since many trails in Washington are labeled as such, we didn’t figure it was much of a problem, so we weren’t really prepared when our “hike” tuned more into a Class III scramble!  After much huffing and puffing, we pulled ourselves up to the top and took in the view. 

Later in the afternoon, we checked into our hotel for the evening, The Oswego.   The room was nice, though it had a weird, pull-down, Murphy style bed.  After a short bike ride, we decided to check out a fish and chips place we had seen on our walk around the city the day before.  The shop is called Red Fish Blue Fish and is run out of what looks like a shipping crate and positioned right on the docks in the harbor.  We had thought it must be good to have such a large line the day before, and we were definitely proven right.  Everything we at was spectacularly tasty, especially the coconut curry fish chowder.  NOM. 

 

Our final day was filled with rain and tours.  We stared off touring The Empress, with an adorable tour guide named Margaret who was dressed in Victorian garb and an English accent.  So CUTE!   After visiting The Empress, we headed over to the Parliament buildings for their tour.  The architecture and art were quite impressive.

 

 

Later in the afternoon, it was back to the ferry we went, and back to Seattle.  It was wonderful to get away and finally visit Victoria. 

(Sorry for the long post, we did lots of stuff and I take lots of pictures.  Plus, brevity is overrated.)

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! 

 

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…

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!

Where have you BEEN?

July 27th, 2010

Oh wait, I’m the one who’s been MIA.  Sorry about that.  I wanted to come by and say hello, I really did, but things kept coming up, arriving, demanding my attention.  But never fear, I’ve got photographic evidence to prove it!  So here is the bitzcrieg version of the past few weeks, since apparently I don’t have time to expand on the individual topics.  (I still may, but we’ll see)

First there was our anniversary trip to eastern Washington.  Summer in Seattle doesn’t show up until July 5th, apparently, but we wanted SUNSHINE for our anniversary.  So we headed east of the Cascades to the Dry Falls, Grand Coulee Dam area. We toured the dam, did some hiking, drove through enchantingly green fields, watched the fireworks and had the Safeway 4th of July special dinner – 8 piece fried chicken and potatoes, complete with cokes, for under 10.00.  We’re just that classy.  The trip was really fun, and we did find the elusive day star.

 

 

The following weekend, we headed north to British Columbia and Vancouver Island for our friends Cory and Haiyan’s wedding.  They live in China, so getting to be there for their wedding was extra special.  They were married in a small ceremony on the beach in Parksville, BC.  At low tide, the beach stretches out for what seems like miles.  B, E, and little baby S were there too, and it was little S’s first time in the ocean.  She liked it until she tried to eat the seaweed.  The weather was deliciously warm, and we spent two days in the area soaking up the sun and spending time with good friends. 

 

     

 

A few days after Cory’s wedding, Tom’s parents arrived in Seattle!  We’ve had some great times with them, including taking the Theo Chocolate tour.  Oh wow, if you like chocolate, and live anywhere near here, you HAVE to go.  You learn about chocolate while EATING CHOCOLATE.  How can it get any better than this?   We have also enjoyed making yummy family dinners and taking a long weekend trip to San Juan Island.  (I will probably have more to say about this in a later post).  While at San Juan, we visited English and American Camps, a lavender farm, an alpaca farm, and had some lovely picnics.  Oh, and we stayed in an Airstream.  It rocked.

 

 

 

While the in-laws have been here, they have spent some time with Suz, the sister-in-law.  While those three were out gallivanting on the Olympic peninsula, Tom and I used the downtime to catch up on things around the house, and to take a GORGEOUS hike down to Mt. Rainier.  I’m totally out of shape due to lack of working out and an overabundance of homework, and was feeling totally intimidated by the hard hike Tom wanted to do.  Because he’s awesome, we agreed to go down to Mt. Rainier instead, and hike around the Paradise area.  It felt good to get out, as I have felt quite stifled by our busy schedule of late, and have not been coping well.  While all the activities we’ve been doing are fun, I feel spread incredibly thin.  It feels like I’m doing everything at once, but nothing well, and am not doing a great job of being present in the moment.  What can I say, I’m working on it.   And before this sounds too much like complaining, I want you to know, that I know how blessed I am in my life, and how lucky I am to have all that I do. 

 

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.

Summer Camp For Grownups

June 24th, 2010

Last week, Mom and I set off for southern Utah.  That’s right, we went to the desert in the summer.  We were bound for Red Mountain Spa, a “fitness spa”, where we could basically play all day, meet nice and interesting people, and eat delicious food.  It was sweet.  And really hot.  But pretty much just sweet.  I arrived on Wednesday on a harrowing flight from Salt Lake where things were flying around INSIDE the plane, and I was failing miserably to stave off a panic attack.  “Don’t worry, it’s like this all the time”, assures the stewardess, which really makes me question her sanity.  But anyway, after finally arriving alive in St. George, I was greeted by a very nice man, and toted back to the spa with another guest, T, who would become one of our buddies for the week. 

 

Red Mountain is incredible.  It’s rust colored buildings blend in nicely with the red, browns, oranges and yellows of the surrounding desert landscape.  The resort its self backs up to Snow Canyon State Park, nestled within  soaring red rock outcroppings.  Gorgeous.  Around the resort, there are many species of native desert plants, (and some not so native, but pretty, so it’s ok), including the barrel cactus, which I had never seen before, but was very cool.  And spiky.  I had borrowed the 100mm Canon lens from friends back home and had a blast taking macro shots of all the interesting plants on the property. 

 

 

Every day is busy and full at the spa, but only as busy and full as you want it to be.  We began every morning with the guided hiking tours led by Jack and Jill, (yes, I’m serious).  Now, if you read this blog, you know that I hike a fair bit, and while I’m not in the shape I’d like to be right now, I still feel like I know what I’m doing in a pair of boots.  These hikes, especially the one where we went straight up the rock face, had me huffing.  I could give the litany of excuses: it was hot, there were no switchbacks, there was no shade, IT WAS HOT!  Honestly, though all of these things are true, and do have a real impact on performance, I think I just need to work out more.  So.  More cardio on the horizon.  Truly though, I loved the morning hikes.  They were my favorite part of the trip, especially since I got to hike with Mom!

 

 

We would arrive back from the hikes around 10, since the sun gets so intense after that.  There were any number of activities we could chose to do then, yoga, stretch, water aerobics, etc.  Each day, however, we went to cooking class!  Sous Chef Mike taught these one hour classes, and they were different every day.  We learned about different types of grains, green smoothies, drank Mormon Tea, and generally sat in awe of his awesome knife skills.  Seriously, I’m jealous.  I want to wield a knife like that.  Our places had little name tags for us every day too, making us feel very important.  Later in the week, I “worked” with Sous Chef Mike in the real kitchen when I was “Chef For the Day”.  Very cool. I sliced, (not as well as Sous Chef Mike), and diced and worked the GIANT immersion blender to puree soups.  It was rad.  I got to keep my chef’s coat.  It makes me feel special. 

 

 

Cooking class was followed by lunch, which was served buffet style.  We learned to eat cold soup, and Mom learned about hummus and flat bread.  What a wonderful thing.  We were also often joined by some of the friends we made, L, T, or B.  They couldn’t be more different from each other, but all are fabulous women, whom I hope to keep in touch with out here in the “real world”.  After lunch, we would either go to another fittness class, or take some lounge time by the pool, or ride our bikes up some killer hill in the gazillion degree heat to the local hippie-artist-coffee shop community, or get complementary makeovers.  We did all of those things.  The fittness and biking were hard, the lounging and makeovering were not.  Both were wonderful and left smiles on our, sometimes sweat streaked, faces.

   

In the evenings, it would cool off, and we would walk, or bike, to dinner, again often joined by friends.  We often sat at the “Community Table”, where anyone can join, or we created our own.  Mom and I are social creatures, and will talk to anyone.  This is how we make friends.   Dinner was usually a drawn out affair, with everyone sharing what they did that day, and planning for trips, classes and excursions for the next day.  Sometimes dinner was followed by something fun like Outdoor Yoga, a photography class, or Texas Hold ‘em.  Mom won of course, though she didn’t even know she was holding a straight. 

 

 

We had a wonderful time at Red Mountain.  It was great getting to reconnect with Mom, and meet lots of new and interesting people. I’d love to go back with Mom, or girlfriends.  It’s a beautiful place.