Category Archives: Alex

Cat Skiing Rossland, BC

While Ali and her dad were off skiing Whistler, my friend Patrick and I packed up and headed North as well. We were aiming for Rossland, BC a town just across the Canadian border. We chose Rossland for its proximity to Washington as well as its access to several resorts and (more importantly) several Cat Skiing operations.

What is Cat Skiing you ask? Well, imagine a giant snowmobile with a box on the back that can fit you, two guides, and 10 of your closest friends (or strangers, in our case). These cats can access great skiing far from anyone else, and we had our fingers crossed that conditions would be good.

This is the cat - a magic box that takes you into great terrain.

This is the cat – a magic box that takes you into great terrain.

We arrived in Rossland on a Saturday and things did not look great. It was warm, raining, and the locals were wandering around the quaint little ski town rather than up at the mountain skiing. Still, we woke up Sunday morning and headed up to Red Mountain Resort for some skiing. Unfortunately conditions were not great. Lets just say Patrick and I usually avoid groomed ski runs, and on Sunday we were seeking them out. Still, there was snow in the forecast so we again went to bed with visions of powder skiing in our heads.

Monday morning Patrick and I woke up and headed up to another resort nearby, called Whitewater. We didn’t know much about Whitewater other than the tree skiing was good, but rumor had it that they got some good snow Sunday night. This turned out to be more than true. When we arrived at around 11 AM, we were greeting with no lift lines, lots of new snow, and the best tree skiing I’ve ever experienced. The runs were mostly open glades, with the spaces between the trees filled with nice light powder snow.

Patrick in the trees, wondering where everyone else is.

Patrick in the trees, wondering where everyone else is.

With tired legs and faces sore from smiling, we prepped for our first day of Cat Skiing at Valhalla Powder Cats.

 

The Valhalla office, complete with transportation.

The Valhalla office, complete with ski bum transportation.

Having never been Cat Skiing before, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I was prepared for a hard day of skiing as I knew it had snowed a lot more overnight and that Valhalla had a reputation for excellent terrain – it seems to be the choice of pro skiers. I was a little intimidated, but luckily we were set for another excellent day of skiing.

Our guide, showing us the ropes before we drop in.

Our guide, showing us the ropes before we drop in.

Our day started with an avalanche briefing and a long bus ride up to Valhalla Pass. Once there, we did some rescue drills and loaded up into the cat for our first run. After a few turns all concerns about being over my head were replaced with the feeling one gets when they are over their head in powder. Turns were deep, terrain was great, and our guide kept us moving and safe all day. Needless to say, it was excellent.

The face of a man who just skied untouched powder and is about to do it again.

The face of a man who just skied untouched powder and is about to do it again.

It snowed hard all day, and everyone in our group was having a blast. We ended up being paired with a group of German tourists who came to BC specifically for powder skiing. I think they timed it quite well. We slowly developed into a rhythm – ski one at a time up top with a buddy keeping an eye on you. Once out of the steep terrain, we would dip into trees together (again, keeping an eye on each other) and find our way down to a road where the cat would be waiting to pick us up and do it all over again. The guides were constantly re-assessing conditions and safety and making changes to the plan along the way. From top to bottom we skiing untouched powder in great steep terrain.

Loading up for another run.

Loading up for another run.

At the end of the day we had developed a great group and tired legs. Luckily, we had another day of Cat Skiing ahead of us the very next day. Even more luckily, we realized that even though we were going with a different company we would actually spend the day skiing with the German group as well as our guide from Valhalla.

Day two - tired legs but big smiles.

Day two – tired legs but big smiles (and the sun even came out).

Day two found us at Big Red Cats, a different cat operation with the same group and same guide. The day progressed mostly the same – meet at the office, load up into a bus, load up a cat, safety briefing, and then of course powder skiing.

Resting the legs after skiing powder for 3 days straight.

Resting the legs after skiing powder for 3 days straight.

We once again found excellent conditions, great terrain, and a really fun day. The sun even came out for a bit, allowing us to get a sense of what we were skiing and the vastness of the terrain. Its hard to complain when you have a large section of a mountain range to yourself and the snow is soft, but by the end we were definitely feeling our tired legs.

Rossland BC-8

Looking up at our tracks coming out of the forest.

Unfortunately all good things must come to an end. As this was the last Cat Skiing day, I took the next day off to rest up my legs so they could be fresh for Friday’s attempt to ski Red Mountain in better conditions.

Our group on day two. Tired and happy.

Our group on day two. Tired and happy.

While there wasn’t much new snow Friday, the sun did come out allowing us to ski Red Mountain in Spring-like conditions. It also gave us a chance to glance at their abundant (and steep!) terrain. We scoped out a few named in-bound runs that would put Jackson Hole to shame. Needless to say, I will be back.

Enjoying the view at Red Mountain.

Enjoying the view at Red Mountain.

After a hard week of skiing, the only thing left to do was head to our favorite ski town bar and drink a few beers to celebrate. We packed up the car Saturday morning and hit the road just as the rain came back. Somehow we managed to time this trip just right. Given the terrain, the snow, and the fun we had I can’t help but think we will need to make this trip something of a tradition.

Relaxing Weekend in Leavenworth

For a lot of occasions like birthdays, anniversaries and Christmases Alex and I opt to get each other “experiences” rather than something tangible. For us, the time together is more meaningful. This year my Christmas gift to Alex was a weekend away in Leavenworth, Washington at the Sleeping Lady Resort.

{This is the rock pool at the resort! Really neat concept. It was really foggy and overcast for our stay, so I didn't get any good pictures, due to the lighting.}

{This is the rock pool at the resort! Really neat concept. It was really foggy and overcast for our stay, so I didn’t get any good pictures, due to the lighting.}

We cashed in on Alex’s gift as soon as we could after Christmas and headed out there this past weekend. Both of us had been to the Sleeping Lady Resort before, which is why it was so appealing to go back. The resort is really unique – the owner turned it from a camp into a high-class resort in the mountains.

Each “room” is essentially its own cabin and there are different clusters of cabins strewn across the property. They all have very modern amenities and are very, very comfortable with nice linens and robes and the like. We were once again very pleased with the accommodations. One of the special perks is that the resort has a huge dining lodge where they offer a gourmet breakfast and dinner buffet that is included with your stay. We felt like we were eating like kings all weekend!

{This is the style of the buildings/cabins on the property.}

{This is the style of the buildings/cabins on the property.}

So – about the trip now… we arrived around dinner time on Friday night, got checked into our room and then headed straight for the dining lodge. Because it’s a buffet, we were able to pace ourselves how we wanted and ended up having a wonderfully slow and leisurely dinner.

When we awoke the next morning it was snowing! After our relaxing breakfast we took a nice stroll around the resort property. Neither one of us had been to the Sleeping Lady when it was particularly light out, so we hadn’t gotten the chance to do much exploring.

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The rest of our morning and early afternoon was spent in downtown Leavenworth where we popped into some shops and had a delicious sausage at our favorite place, Munchen Haus. We needed to fuel up for our afternoon of cross country skiing!

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Alex had never been cross country skiing and I had only been once, but not since I was in 5th grade – so about 20 years ago! We rented our gear from the Mercantile shop at our resort and walked across the street to the public cross country ski trail {couldn’t have been more convenient!} and after watching a quick YouTube video titled “How to Cross Country Ski” we set out for our excursion.

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Our afternoon of cross country skiing turned out to be the highlight of our trip. We had been talking for a couple years about getting into nordic skiing but just never bit the bullet. Now with our little babe on the way we figure that once s/he arrives, it will be much easier for us to strap the kid into a backpack and go cross country skiing, rather than having to trade off who stays in the lodge with the baby while the other one of us downhill skis by him/herself. Plus, it is absolutely fantastic exercise! Both of us are sore in places we’ve never been sore before. We’re hoping to convince one of my cousins to come out with us and give us a few pointers so we can master the skating part of nordic skiing, rather than just the scooting part 😉

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The rest of our Saturday was spent sitting in front of a great outdoor fire at O’Grady’s Pantry {a little restaurant on the Sleeping Lady property}, napping and enjoying another slow-paced dinner at the resort. Both of us were ready to tuck into bed early that night!

{The hot tub was built into the rocks!}

{The hot tub was built into the rocks!}

Our stay at the Sleeping Lady included ski passes at Stevens Pass, so on our way back home to Seattle on Sunday we stopped at the ski resort to get some downhill turns in. With the Seahawks/Vikings playoff game on Sunday both of us expected the resort to be completely empty – we were grossly mistaken! It was an absolute zoo! This was the starting weekend of the ski lesson program, so we’re guessing that was the culprit. In addition to the crowds, it was really foggy and there was almost no visibility and the conditions were less than ideal. Needless to say, we took a few runs and continued home… It was a little disappointing, but it wasn’t the best day to be skiing.

All in all, we had a fabulous weekend away! Alex and I have been so enjoying the quality time we’ve been spending together lately. I hope we’re able to take a few more little trips before our little one arrives soon!

Mid-Summer Relaxation

I think it’s safe to say we’ve passed the “mid-summer” point now that Labor Day weekend is on the horizon. In any case, Alex and I are coming off of a quiet, relaxing weekend at home. We’ve both been pretty exhausted with everything we’ve had going on lately so it was perfect to get to wake up in our own bed on Saturday and Sunday and not have an agenda whatsoever!

{lunch making station... it has been weeks since I've taken the time on a Sunday to get Alex's lunches prepped for the week!}

{lunch making station… it has been weeks since I’ve taken the time on a Sunday to get Alex’s lunches prepped for the week!}

We did some cleaning around the house – nothing monumental, but we spruced up the carpet and rugs with our carpet cleaner. The victory round went to the new Bona “mop” though – holy, holy cow – our floors have never been cleaner since we moved in {and probably not before that!}. Previously we had used the Swiffer Wet Jet, which we thought did an okay job. Now the Bona puts the Swiffer to shame. I highly recommend it for cleaning wood or tile floors!!!

{Alex's lunches are the talk of the table :) }

{Alex’s lunches are the talk of the table 🙂 }

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In other news, the weather has been really nice for the last week, but the temps are on their way back up. Both Alex and I are beyond ready for fall. We’re expecting to have a pretty nice fall here in the Pacific Northwest, but I am longing for cooler temps so we can park it in front of the fire with a big juicy bottle of red wine, a hearty dinner and leg warmers and/or slippers. And apple cider. And pumpkin bread. And soup. And the list goes on…

{homemade pickles!}

{homemade pickles!}

My half marathon training is going really well! I did a six mile run last week {without walking!} and am coming up on my seven mile run this week. If I make it past six miles, that’s my “furthest distance I’ve ever run” mark. My race is quite hilly so I’ve been mixing in hilly runs once a week in addition to a long run and another shorter run. So far I am feeling great… Now I just need to double last week’s run in four weeks and I’ll be golden…

{slow and steady, but ready to keep running!}

{slow and steady, but ready to keep running!}

One of the themes of my summer has been mole removal. I have been blessed with many, many moles all over my body, and unfortunately a handful of them are ones I really don’t want to stick around, so I’ve had several doctors appointments throughout the summer to work on removing them. One of them; however, turned out to be pretty severely “precancerous” and required the doctor to go back and take out a 5mm section around the mole to ensure all of the cells were removed {which they were}. That was a bit more dramatic in the recovery.

{my stitches... I ended up finding out that I am allergic to the adhesive in one of the bandages I was using and it caused a really awful rash all over my arm! That was by far the worst part of the whole ordeal.}

{my stitches… I ended up finding out that I am allergic to the adhesive in one of the bandages I was using and it caused a really awful rash all over my arm! That was by far the worst part of the whole ordeal.}

As a result of the mole removal and “precancerous” diagnosis I have been educating myself on a few things, namely sunscreen and natural products. I essentially never wore sunscreen until July this year because I almost never get sunburned and I had heard mixed things about sunscreen giving you cancer, so it seemed like a lose-lose to me. Now I know that you need sunscreen to protect against both UVA and UVB rays, which in themselves can cause cancer, and I know that it’s important to look for titanium dioxide and zinc oxide as the “sunscreen” ingredients to avoid getting cancer from wearing sunscreen. Oye ve. Thanks to my new super helpful friends at EWG I am now a more informed sunscreen, household products and skincare consumer.

{my scar is healing REALLY well! I've been using shea butter to help with the process...}

{my scar is healing REALLY well! I’ve been using shea butter to help with the process…}

Presently, I am feeling duped by the “big” cosmetics, cleaning and skin care industries. I’ve been extremely cautious of what I eat for several years now, but I almost feel like this is a more challenging issue to tackle than food. I had previously purchased big name products and am now horrified to read about the harmful effects of some ingredients lurking in them.

I know a lot of this issue is fear mongering and this industry’s own marketing, but at the same time I think there is a lot of sense in seeking out more natural, non-toxic products. I mean, our skin is a living, breathing part of our body – whatever we put on it gets absorbed inside our bodies. I’d rather avoid getting cancer if I can help it.

That said, I’m in the process of a major overhaul of all of the products I put on my body and use at home. I purchased new reusable glass containers {instead of plastic}, we’ve got a new line of dishwasher and laundry detergent, I have new face and body wash, sunscreen, face lotion, body lotion and deodorant. Next up: shampoo and hair products and a final cleanse {heehee} of any nasty cleaning products that weren’t replaced a while back. Amazon, Mighty Nest and The Honest Company have been very helpful in my shopping… It’s a really big undertaking, but I think it’s worth it.

Now that I’m off my soapbox, I’ve got another relaxing evening and stunning sunset to go enjoy 🙂

The Happenings

Other than our recent trips to Chicago and Lake Chelan, we’ve certainly kept busy! The weather in Seattle has been unbelievably amazing the last several months. It sure seems like it’s going to be a HOT summer – highs in the 90s are forecast for this week {average late July/August temps are in the high 70s}.

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We recently acquired some new outdoor pillows for our patio table chairs. I love setting up my “office” in the backyard when it’s nice out, but sitting with a wooden back on the chair was getting old, so now I can work in comfort outside! We also finally got some zero-gravity reclining chairs for our backyard, too, finally, which are ah-mazing!

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Since early April, Alex and I have been having a once-weekly Spanish lesson with our Spanish tutor, Elizabeth. We are definitely getting more comfortable speaking Spanish, but struggle to work it into our weekly routine to practice enough to really be making faster progress.

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Along those same lines, one of my goals is to get into a good rhythm this week. I was anticipating having a much more low-key work schedule this summer but that has proven to be quite the opposite. I’ve had a ton of meetings and just a lot going on, so I have been feeling like each day is so different it’s been hard to get into a good schedule. I’ve got a half marathon to train for, Alex still needs to train for his bike ride in August, and I really need to get back into a good Pilates and yoga groove. It’s amazing how un-motivated I have been since leaving my Pilates studio in March. It’s not the same bouncing around to different studios all the time – kind of a lack of accountability, almost.

Last week marked the first week of our CSA {Community Supported Agriculture – we get a box of produce from a local farm each week}! I absolutely love our CSA – most CSAs are “farmer’s choice” which means you don’t choose what’s in your box, but ours allows us to pick and choose from their crops with what we want based on what is available and in season. This year I am really striving to try new things. In our first shipment we got fava beans, cipollini onions and kale, none of which I had cooked with or eaten. We also splurged and got some dairy with our CSA too {actually, it’s not even a splurge – it’s less expensive than the grocery store} – I ordered chocolate milk, regular milk and butter. There’s really nothing like that butter! I might even add eggs to our share, too. We’ll see…

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I’ve been trying to eat lighter and more real foods lately. I think up until the last few weeks most people would agree that I ate pretty well, but I still have some work to do. I think I eat too much bread and too much meat and not enough leafy greens, vegetables and whole wheat, as opposed to refined white flour. I’ve been trying to incorporate more salads into my lunch routine as a great way to get more greens and veggies, and so far it’s going better than I expected. Now my biggest challenge is coming up with “no-cook” dinners because it’s really going to be a summer where it will be too hot to cook in the house. I think I see a gas grill in our future?!

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{one of my favorite “real food” cookbooks with great recipes for produce}

{found this gem of a magazine at Whole Foods last week - can't wait to try the recipes inside!}

{found this gem of a magazine at Whole Foods last week – can’t wait to try the recipes inside!}

 

All in all, life is good. We’ll be in town for the next few weekends, enjoying all that our beautiful city has to offer, and catching up with some friends and yardwork.

Weekend Trip to Lake Chelan

Lake Chelan has been on our “to visit” list for several years and now that we’ve been, I can’t believe it took us this long to make it happen. At 55 miles long, Lake Chelan is the largest lake in Washington and is located in the middle of the state, about 3 hours east of Seattle. The lake is extremely deep {apparently “chelan” means deep lake or something like that and is pronounced “shuh-lan” – with the “a” being like “apple”} and is surrounded on both sides by beautiful deserty mountains. The lake is pretty populated in certain areas and is also known for its cute, charming towns and abundance of wineries – it is in Washington wine country, after all.

{the resort we stayed at}

{the resort we stayed at}

This trip was extremely impromptu and planned entirely by Alex. He and his friend Nigel signed up for the Lake Chelan Rotary Century bike ride, a very challenging 100 mile bike ride around the area. Since Alex was planning the trip he was in charge of figuring out our lodging arrangements and boy did he deliver.

{we stayed in "the pavilion" cabin, which was amazingly awesome}

{we stayed in “the pavilion” cabin, which was amazingly awesome}

 

I was especially impressed given the last minute nature of our trip, but he found an adorable place called Kelly’s Resort, which is a waterfront resort that has a bunch of stand-alone cabins, a beach, walking trails through the woods and it just oozes charm and character. It really reminded me of my family’s lake home in Minnesota. We really lucked out, too, because this was the last weekend of their “off” season rates, so we got a great price for the cabin.

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We made the 3 hour trip over to Chelan on Friday afternoon and miraculously didn’t hit any traffic at all. Once we got settled into our cabin we headed down to the bottom side of the lake to pick up Alex’s biking packet and meet Nigel and Jolene for dinner. We settled on a cute pizza place called Local Myth and really enjoyed our dinner, though were disappointed to have been seated in the only “non-alcoholic” table {the table was on the outside of their fenced in patio area} so we couldn’t order any wine or beer. By that point it was 8:30 and we were ready for dinner so we didn’t put up too much of a fight, plus it was the only outdoor table that would have accommodated the four of us.

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Bright and early Saturday morning, I dropped Alex off at the start of the bike race and he and Nigel met up and got started. The ride was very challenging – it was 85 degrees by mid-ride and being in the desert, there was virtually no shade. The ride was broken out into three loops that all started and ended in the same spot, so in theory you could do one, two or all three of the loops.

{ready to go!}

{ready to go!}

Alex’s goal for the day was to make it to the top of a massive 3,000 vertical foot climb, which was over the course of 6 miles {a very short distance for that much climbing} and averaged around 10-12% grade {very steep!}. He said the hardest part was how hot it was and how limited the shade was, but he and Nigel both made it to the top. Mission accomplished! Alex achieved his goal and that was good enough for him, while Nigel’s goal was to complete the 100 mile ride. Alex decided to call it after 70 miles, so I ran over and picked him up.

{pit stop for a victory photo!}

{pit stop for a victory photo!}

The bike ride lasted from about 7:00-2:30, so while Alex was biking I was back at our cabin with Jackson. I took him for a 40 minute swim right off the bat – he is such a water dog, so I figured that would be a good place to start!

{we've got a dock jumper on our hands!}

{we’ve got a dock jumper on our hands!}

I was just enjoying being down on the water – the view across the lake was gorgeous. And the water itself is so clear and clean and just looks different because of that.

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After Jackson tired himself out I grabbed a cup of coffee from the little coffee shop and sat out on the deck of the main lodge with Jackson and just relaxed for a bit. Then we headed back to the cabin and went for a walk on the hiking trails up the hill. I got in my 10,000 steps pretty early that day!

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The rest of the day was mainly spent on the deck of our cabin, which overlooked a lot of mature evergreens, as well as the lake. I caught up on some reading and just did some relaxing until I picked Alex up.

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Of course Alex was beat when he got back to the cabin, so we just hung out for a while and then got cleaned up and headed out to meet Nigel and Jolene at a winery called Tsillan {pronounced like Chelan}, which was conveniently located adjacent to Sorrento’s, the restaurant we had dinner reservations at. The wine tasting was great and we lucked out in getting the best seat in the restaurant for dinner. This restaurant was voted to have one of the top 100 restaurant views in the country and it didn’t disappoint! We all really enjoyed the food, too.

{view from Sorrento's and Tsillan Cellars - too bad the parking lot is right there!}

{view from Sorrento’s and Tsillan Cellars – too bad the parking lot is right there!}

On our way out of the restaurant our car had an unfortunate mishap with a decorative pillar, conveniently located in our blind spot, so hurrah, we get to get a new front bumper. The car just turned too sharply getting out of the parking space and Alex couldn’t see the pillar in the mirrors or the backup camera. Oops!

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Our last day in Chelan was a short one – we took Jackson swimming one last time, packed up and hit the road. We stopped at Twin Pines, a cute little townie hamburger joint just off the highway, which was surprisingly awesome {so much for eating light…}, and then spent the rest of the afternoon unpacking and relaxing in the sunshine.

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….until next time, Lake Chelan! I have a feeling this will become an annual summer trip for us.

Alex’s Big Birthday Weekend

We had a lot of plans leading into Alex’s big birthday weekend. The first was to celebrate my birthday with the cooking class Alex got me.

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We ended up taking a Thai cooking class at Hipcooks on Friday night. The class was really neat and both of us agreed we probably wouldn’t have cooked much/anything on our own, so it was great to get us out of our comfort zone and trying new things.

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On our menu was:

  • Tom Yum soup
  • Tom Kha Gai soup
  • Chiang Mai meatballs (pork meatballs with fresh curry)
  • Glass noodle salad with stir fried pork (our favorite!)
  • Massaman curry
  • Thai sweet rice with mango and coconut for dessert
  • Tamarind whiskey sour (cocktail)
  • Thai me up (cocktail)

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The class was very hands-on and we got to play a role in a lot of different parts of the meal. I appreciated tasting the food frequently as we were cooking just to taste how things came together. We had a really nice time, though we had wished the other people in the class were a bit more fun. It’s such a shame that not everyone is as much fun as we are 😉

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Saturday was Alex’s birthday! We woke up and had a little relaxing time at home before we made the two hour drive up to Whidbey Island for a quick day trip. The weather was quite cloudy, so it wasn’t the most ideal day for this trip, but we still had fun!

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Our destination was Ebey’s Landing, which is a bluff overlooking a beach on Puget Sound. We stopped at a cute shop in Coupville, a little town nearby, and picked up the makings of a great picnic {two prosecco splits, some sandwiches, cornichons, chips and Mexican hot chocolate cookies} and headed down to the beach at Ebey’s Landing.

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Jackson was along for the ride and he was in paradise. He had never swam in the ocean before – just lakes and rivers, so it was a little different for him with the waves. He was running back and forth, up and down the beach, stopping to shake off next to us while we were eating {delightful part of having a dog}, and running in and out of the water. Safe to say he had the best day ever.

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We didn’t stay for too long because it was pretty chilly on the coast that day and we had evening plans we had to get back to! Thankfully we avoided traffic on our way home, which almost never happens.

{I can imagine this view is quite different when the sun is out!}

{I can imagine this view is quite different when the sun is out!}

Since about October last year I had been scheming up a big surprise party for Alex’s 29th birthday. His birthday was conveniently on a Saturday and I figured he wouldn’t suspect it as much on his 29th birthday as he would his 30th. So, last night about 20 of our friends gathered at Bottlehouse, our neighborhood wine bar, and royally surprised him! Alex didn’t suspect a thing.

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We had a great evening catching up with everyone and it was so fun to share our favorite spot with our friends. It was fun that most people had met before, even if they were in different “groups” – but our holiday party this past year provided a great merger of our different groups of friends, which was really nice. We are lucky to have so many wonderful friends out here!

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It was really hard for me to keep the secret of this surprise party, especially the last week or so as the party grew nearer, so I am glad to be done with that. I love hosting parties, but that’s the last surprise party I’m throwing!

{Alex's new high-tech watch... the Casio calculator!}

{Alex’s new high-tech watch… the Casio calculator!}

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In other less exciting news, I got a FitBit this weekend. I’ve been putting it to the test to keep track of my steps, fitness activity, water consumption, food and sleep. It’s pretty handy. So far I’m really liking it!

{screenshot of the FitBit app on my phone - this was clearly at the beginning of the day :)}

{screenshot of the FitBit app on my phone – this was clearly at the beginning of the day :)}

The farmers market in our neighborhood opened up for the summer season on Friday. I absolutely love going down to the farmers market on Friday afternoons and stocking up on farm-fresh produce and flowers, so it’s something I look forward to each week. This year there are several new vendors at our neighborhood market – there’s a brick oven pizza food truck, a beer stand, a few wineries, a jam vendor, as well as a mustard vendor, and then the usual produce, meat and dairy vendors.

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Between the farmers market and our CSA, I try to get as much food as I can as a way to support the local farmers and vendors. Plus, it’s fun to walk down to the market {about 6 or 8 blocks from our house} with Jackson and see the same vendors or neighbors down there each week.

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Today we are taking it easy at home. I’m exhausted. I think that keeping the secret of Alex’s surprise party took a mental toll on me this week, so it’s nice to have a restful day at home.

:D

:D

Happy Birthday Alex!

Today is Alex’s 29th birthday! We’ve got a really fun day planned and I’m excited to celebrate Alex being born.

{the birthday boy!}

{the birthday boy!}

We’ve got a big year ahead of us now that we are both in the last year of our 20s. We have a lot to look forward to and I’m really excited to see what our 30s are like! For now, happy birthday, Alex!!

Alex’s Birthday Weekend in Vancouver

Alex and I took a little road trip to visit the Canucks up in Vancouver this past weekend. Before we hit the road we celebrated on his actual birthday with a trip to Bottlehouse. It was perfect. The weather held out so we could enjoy the evening on the patio. The icing on the cake, though, was when we were informed by the staff that my aunt Sarah called and picked out a very special bottle of Priorat wine for Alex. We can’t wait to drink it!

Saturday morning we woke up bright and early to drop Jackson off at the farm where he was to spend the weekend, then we continued on the drive up to Vancouver. It was a pretty easy drive, other than long waits at the border.

We got to take a ride over the new Port Mann Bridge.

 

We were pleasantly surprised when the weather turned out to be quite nice on the other side of the border. I believe the anticipated high was 58 and it was supposed to rain, so both of us were dressed for the forecast. Reality set in and it ended up being 72 and partly cloudy. Oops!

Gorgeous day for walking around Vancouver!

Gorgeous day for walking around Vancouver!

After we checked in to our amazing hotel {The St. Regis} we headed for ramen! We ate at Gyoza King. It was lovely :)

After we checked in to our amazing hotel {The St. Regis} we headed for ramen! We ate at Gyoza King. It was lovely 🙂

With full bellies we set out to do a stroll through Stanley Park, Vancouver's Central Park.

With full bellies we set out to take a stroll through Stanley Park, Vancouver’s Central Park.

Totem Poles

Totem Poles

Great views back towards the city from Stanley Park.

Great views back towards the city from Stanley Park.

After our stroll through Stanley Park Alex decided to pick up a few cigars...

After our walk through Stanley Park Alex decided to pick up a few cigars…

We then set out to explore Gas Town, a very trendy part of the city. This neighborhood reminded us a lot of two neighborhoods in Seattle. We had dinner at the Alibi Room before making our way to a wine bar for a nightcap.

We then set out to explore Gas Town, a very trendy part of the city. This neighborhood reminded us a lot of two neighborhoods in Seattle. We had dinner at the Alibi Room before making our way to a wine bar for a nightcap.

I just loved the Salt Tasting Room. It's a little hole in the wall wine bar that lets you pick and choose your cheese and meat boards, and of course has great wine.

I just loved the Salt Tasting Room. It’s a little hole in the wall wine bar that lets you pick and choose your cheese and meat boards, and of course has great wine.

We had a great trip in Vancouver! It was really awesome to do a precursor to our Europe trip this summer and work out some of the kinks and figure things out. Even though Vancouver is only a 3 hour drive, we felt like we were a world away from Seattle.

We had a great trip in Vancouver! It was really awesome to do a precursor to our Europe trip this summer and work out some of the kinks and figure things out. Even though Vancouver is only a 3 hour drive, we felt like we were a world away from Seattle.

Our Wounded Warrior

Last week Alex and the road had a brutal encounter. Alex was on his way to work via his bicycle when he ended up flying over the handlebars after his bike got stuck in a gap in the pavement. Thankfully no one hit him while he was in the road, and some people even stopped to make sure he’s okay {nice to have reminders that there are still good people out there looking out for the rest of us!}.

ERs are the worst!

ERs are the worst!

It could have been much worse, but Alex wound up in the ER with a broken wrist and quite a few bumps and bruises all over the rest of his body. Per his hand specialist, he does not have to have surgery and they expect his wrist to heal up just fine in the next 4-6 weeks. Alex has a splint to secure his wrist and instructions to take it easy.

Sporting his new sling, which he wore for less than an hour before ditching.

Sporting his new sling, which he wore for less than an hour before ditching.

Here’s to a speedy recovery!

Bryan & Sarah’s Trip to Seattle

Alex’s cousin Bryan and his bride to-be, Sarah, just came out to Seattle for a long weekend visit us. Alex and I went to college with Bryan at Iowa State, so I know him quite well. It was a treat to get a chance to spend some time with Sarah since the two of them started dating after Alex and I left Iowa State and we haven’t had many opportunities to get to know her. Bryan and Sarah arrived on Thursday from Chicago and brought some terrible weather with them. Thankfully we didn’t let a monsoon ruin our fun weekend.

Bryan and Sarah

Bryan and Sarah

Once they arrived, Alex took them downtown to do some tourist things, like see Pike’s Place Market and walk around, but the weather was so bad that they came back to our house pretty quickly. Later that evening we went up to the Bottlehouse to show Bryan and Sarah our neighborhood. They all split a bottle of wine while I had some hot tea since I was under the weather from earlier in the week.

On Friday the crew headed out for Crystal Mountain to get a day of skiing in. There was a bit of fresh snow on the ground and no crowds, so it was a day full of great skiing. I wish I could have joined them on the mountain but I still wasn’t feeling well enough.

Skiing at Crystal

Skiing at Crystal

No different from college, we spent all day Saturday drinking. We started the day off on Saturday with brunch at home. I made ham and egg cups, along with muffins, fruit and coffee and we lingered for a while before driving out to Woodinville. Our first stop was at Red Hook Brewery. We grabbed a table and had some lunch while watching the beginning of the Seahawks game. After our meal we took a tour of the brewery. The brewery tour comes with a beer tasting portion and everyone was feeling pretty good after that!

Brewery Tour

Brewery Tour

Now that everyone’s bellies were full of beer and bar food, we ventured up the road to a winery that we had never been to. Our first winery was Gorman Cellars, right in the heart of the tourist district. I was still not feeling 100% so I didn’t taste any wines, but it sounded like everyone really enjoyed the wine. Once the tasting was over we went next door to Patterson Cellars to do another tasting. I really like Patterson and was disappointed that I wasn’t able to try the new wines on their tasting menu. Safe to say, we’ll be back!

Wine tasting at Gorman Cellars

Wine tasting at Gorman Cellars

After a full day of drinking, we decided to cap it off by going to a cocktail bar. Why not!? We went home for a quick siesta and then grabbed an Uber {taxi service} and headed for Capitol Hill. Our first stop was at Le Zinc, a French restaurant with a swanky cocktail bar. The bartender there also works at Bottlehouse, so it’s fun to visit him in a different element. I had Chris make me a hot toddy, which was fabulous, and Alex and Bryan had a spin-off of an old fashioned, while Sarah had a whiskey ginger, but with ginger liquor instead of ginger ale.

My hot toddy!

My hot toddy!

We moseyed a few blocks away to Quinn’s for a late dinner. Alex and I love Quinn’s. It’s a restaurant that has some “normal” food like a burger and chicken, but then they have more “foodie” options like wild boar sloppy joe or bone marrow. Everything we’ve had there has been fantastic. It’s a fun place to take out of town guests who are up for trying something funky.

After a good night’s sleep we woke up and had our final stop on the tourist train. We took Bryan and Sarah to the Hi Spot Cafe, our neighborhood brunch spot, this morning. It’s always a favorite of our guests.

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It was a great weekend with Bryan and Sarah! We had a great time showing them our city and neighborhood and look forward to seeing them in August at their wedding.