Book Love

What do you do when you find yourself alone on a rainy evening in Portland’s Pearl District? Why go to the biggest independent bookstore in the world, of course.

After a fun weekend with Baby Girl and her sorority sisters, I was to meet up with Sweet Miss in Portland. She was flying back from a quick visit with high school friends, and so I had a few hours to kill on my own.


After wandering a bit, I looked up through the rain to see the big Powell’s sign just down the street. I was in luck, I’d visit the City of Books. After browsing awhile, I found the travel section and picked up a few pocket guides for our summer trip and then hiked up the stairs in search of a crochet dictionary—no luck. But I did find a copy of Blueprint Crochet Sweaters by Robyn Chachula; I’ve only checked it out from the library half a dozen times.

Over dinner, I read about Vienna and then noticed a text from Sweet Miss. She was still waiting for her flight out of Denver but suggested picking up a few bridal magazines. So I paid the bill and headed the two blocks back to Powell’s. Wouldn’t you know? The bridal magazines were back up by the knitting and crochet section adjacent to a wonderful author talk that had just started. Magazines in tow, I sat down in one of the chairs and listened to author Jess Thomson talk about her food adventures in the Pacific Northwest, in the midst of dealing with her son’s health concerns, while her marine biologist husband traveled to distant shores. It’s all part of her touching book, A Year Right Here. Book talks like these are one reason I hope local bookstores never disappear.


Sweet Miss did finally arrive late that evening, and we talked weddings, and moving, and jobs before collapsing into bed. Hanging out with the kids is exhausting albeit wonderful.


How was your weekend?

 

 

The Other Washington

Me and the MR have done our share of traveling the last few years. Visiting other countries’ capital cities, I was impressed with the museums and monuments, the statues and memorials, the abundance of history, beautiful architecture, and national pride. Somehow, I got it into my head that we just don’t have that at home. I mean Seattle has EMP and the Hammering Man. We’re famous for throwing fish at Pike Place and for inventing casual Fridays—not pomp and patriotism.

But a few weeks ago, we met the MR’s parents in the other Washington, and my whole perception changed. Our family isn’t big into politics, and we had never seriously thought about visiting Washington, DC. I’d bring it up every now and then saying we really should take the girls—kind of like taking vitamins or eating your vegetables. But then the MR’s mom suggested traveling to there to see the cherry blossoms. I like cherry blossoms.

So the beginning of the month found us with five days in DC to see the sights. It was amazing. We stayed in the Penn Quarter, just around the corner from Ford’s Theater and the rooming house where Lincoln died. Our first morning, we strolled down the block to the White House. Yes, that would be Pennsylvania Avenue.

We were a little further back than it looks like in the movies, but we were actually there next to Michelle Obama’s vegetable garden

I had tried to book a tour, but with the change in administration, all tours had been put on hold—maybe next time. I’d contacted our representative about the White House tour, and she’d signed us up for a tour of the Capitol instead. So our group of adventurers headed on to the National Mall.

As you can see, the MR (from Washington State) is wearing a windbreaker. His parents (from Nevada) are bundled up against the cold.

Our next stop was the World War II Memorial.

In the distance, that’s the Lincoln Memorial. I’d never realized how all these monuments are lined up. In our family we have this joke that if you can see it, you can walk to it; it may have started when we took the girls to Paris—you can see the Eiffel Tower for a really long ways away… While we probably could have walked to Lincoln we’d been warned that the National Mall is really quite large, and we had a tour of the Capitol coming up.

So we turned in the other direction and headed towards the Washington Monument.

The elevators to the top of the monument are being repaired through 2019, so no aerial views this time. With a few hours to kill, we headed on towards the Capitol up the streets flanked by Smithsonian museums.

We didn’t visit the National Gallery of Art, but we did wander through the sculpture garden.

We met our group in Congressman Suzan DelBene’s office, and then were off viewing art and architecture, old meeting rooms and new. Both houses were in recess, but if we’d wanted to wait around for a few hours, we could have watched them in action.

By that time, we’d walked nearly nine miles and were ready for dinner and a chance to put our feet up.

Day two, we went on the Big Bus Tour. We picked it up across the street from our hotel, and it took us right to the Lincoln Memorial. One of the things you don’t realize from the movies and TV is the shear size of these buildings.

From there, we walked over to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. My sweet mother-in-law shook hands with each of the veterans she met along the wall. It was a moving experience for both her and them.

Then we were back on the bus destined for Arlington National Cemetery. More than 400,000 people are buried here; it’s acres upon acres of headstones.

After visiting the grave of John F. Kennedy, we happened upon the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier just in time for the changing of the guard.

Day three, we started our museum visits with the National Air and Space Museum.

After touching the space rock, and oohing and aahing over all things that fly, we headed for greener pastures. We had noticed the United States Botanic Gardens on our way to the Capitol tour, but it was closed by the time we’d finished, so after lunch we went there.

While it was interesting, this was one of the few things on our itinerary I would not repeat.

Then we headed beyond the Capitol to the Library of Congress to enjoy the beautiful architecture inside and out.

My father-in-law teased the security about not being able to check out a book. The guard quickly gave him directions on were to go to get a library card. Maybe next time we’ll make use of the reading room.

Day four dawned wet and dreary, but no worries, we had umbrellas and the National Archives were just down the street.

So much of our history has been captured here. I listened to tapes of FDR refusing increased security around the White House after Pearl Harbor, and then joined the crowds to see the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

We spent an entertaining lunch watching unwary commuters emerge from the subway station only to have their umbrellas blown inside out and then trudged on to the National Museum of Natural History. I’d been hoping for American History, but somehow we wound up next door. On rainy days during spring break, these museums are chaos.

The MR”s dad was sick in bed that evening, but we took out his mom to help celebrate their 54th wedding anniversary.

That being our last night in town, me and the MR went out to see the monuments at night. It’s really quite beautiful.

Our last day, we checked the bags at the hotel and thought we were heading across the street to the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery, but they didn’t open till 11:30, so we hurried a few blocks in a stiff wind to the National Building Museum—one of the few requiring an admissions few to the exhibits. We were still able to see portraits of the presidents and some American folk art before eating lunch and saying goodbye to the MR’s parents as they left for the train station.

We had a few hours before going to the airport, so we checked out the White House Visitor Center, which is the next best thing to being there.

I loved the history, the beauty, and the grandeur of DC, and I would definitely go back.

Next time, I’d like to make it to Mount Vernon and to a few more of the museums. I’m not sure I’d do Arlington again, and the bus tour was a bit of a miss. We’d purchased multiple lines, so we could visit Arlington, and ended up waiting on the side of the road for more than an hour because of a motorcade. The company can’t really do anything about that, but for the price of four adults we could have booked a private tour that would have meant less standing and waiting.

With 17 Smithsonians, it was hard to choose which one to visit. Next time, the MR can go back to the Air and Space while I’m immersing myself in history. Then we’ll just meet up for lunch.

Many of the museums and Arlington have their own apps—something I haven’t got in the habit of looking for ahead of time.

After all these years, I’m glad we finally visited our nation’s capital. Thanks MeeMee for the suggestion.

What are your highlights of Washington, DC?

In other fabulous news, The Fella asked Sweet Miss to marry him last Saturday. We’re all pleased as punch. And on Sunday, Papa Larry celebrated his 80th birthday. Add in Easter, and I’d say it was a banner weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chaos in the Name of Progress

Remember way back when in February when I told you we were getting carpet? Well this was the week it finally arrived. But why make it simple with just one event? Let’s add spring break for the girls, shopping trips, denist/doctor visits, dinners out with friends, dinners in with family, game night, trips to the train station, the exterminator visit, sinks in the entry, pumping the septic tank, and moving all of the furniture out of three of the bedrooms.

Now that’s a crazy kind of week.

We were lucky in that the master bedroom has a built-in platform bed, so all we had to move was a chair, the hope chest, and some clothes from the closets. The rest of the rooms were a little more intense. I, fortunately, had a meeting at work, and the MR and the girls took care of all the heavy lifting while I was gone. When I went to start a load of laundry, I was surprised to find an antique ice box blocking the way—oh well. And let’s just say the sewing room is filled to the brim with creative endeavors.

Enough of chaos. Don’t you want to see our beautiful new carpet? The sewing room looks so inviting when it’s empty.

Cocoa, I said the room was empty.

I’ve decided not to bring the broken dresser back in, and the MR talked me out of the bed. Now I have to make some decisions about storage. I spent a few hours yesterday, finishing up some projects. Baby Girl is headed back to school this weekend, so it’s less imperative that the upstairs is all back in order. I’m hoping to show you a new and improved creative space in a few weeks.

Our room is basically back together, and I’m rather in love with this new carpet. It is so soft. Even the little step up to the bed is soft.

The gray of the carpet matches the gray of the flooring wonderfully. We’ve finally irradicated the baby blue and emerald green carpets of the past.

The guest bedroom probably has the biggest transformation going from emerald to beige carpet. It’s amazing how much it’s lightened things up in there. But since the MR had to put the queen-sized bed back together after a long day at work, and I’m off this morning to more shopping, Baby Girl’s hair appointment, and “girl time”, you’re just going to have to wait.

Now for those of you who like details, we had Haight Carpet in Woodinville install Mohawk Natural Splendor II in Stormwatch in the master bedroom. In the guest room and sewing room, it was the same carpet in Morning Mist. Since we have radiant heat on the main floor, they recommended the “Victorious” 10-pound pad. With our oddly-shaped rooms, funky closets, and built-in steps around the bed, the installation took most of a day. They arrived at 8:30 am and were gone by 4 pm. It’s only been a day, but so far so good.

Some of you may be wondering about that big list of things that I glossed over at the beginning. The septic tank was simply maintenance. It’d been three years, so we figured it was time. They did encourage me to switch to a liquid dishwasher soap and spread out the loads of laundry. Old habits are hard to break.

The good news from the exterminator was that it was just mice. The bad news was that it’s mice. We live in the middle of 30 acres; it’s a problem we’ll have to deal with. After some of the horror stories he shared, I’m feeling rather thankful. We had Ben from ProTech Pest Control come out to assess our home and install a trapping system. With a few repairs, the situation should be under control.

On a happy note, the MR reinstalled the powder room sink, while I took Sweet Miss to the train station. I didn’t get any pictures, but I can assure you that the drywall behind the sink surrounds the pipes perfectly. The MR did a great job.

So what’s new at your house? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Beauty of Zihuatanejo

Before Christmas, we took the girls for a long weekend in Zihuatanejo, Mexico. We’ve been to the western coast many times and decided to venture out and go somewhere new.

Zihuatanejo is further south, has less tourists, is a little quieter, and has a little more heat. We loved it.

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The MR booked a suite at the Viceroy on Playa la Ropa. The concierge gave us a tour of the property before escorting us to our room. After a day of travel the hammock looked so inviting.

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We were greeted with flower petals on the beds and fruity teas. It’s so nice to be pampered.

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The key came in a little amulet that you could wear around your neck. How many swim suits have pockets, right? Our bed was draped in fabric, and each day we had a new design in flower petals at its foot.

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The staff delivered a tray of coffee, tea, and pastries every morning. I chose to enjoy mine seated on the lounge on our patio. A full breakfast at the onsite restaurants was also included.

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We spent most of our time under the palapas enjoying frequent swims in the bath water-warm ocean. The MR booked a snorkeling cruise with Captain Moses. So one morning, we hiked out into the waves, climbed onto his boat, and spent the morning snorkeling in beautifully clear water near Manzanillo Bay (I think). We did not go to the popular Ixtapa Island snorkeling destination. It was great to be on a small boat, just the four of us, the captain and his nephew, and we encountered just one other boat at our snorkel spot.

The water was clear, the fish were plentiful, and we had a great time. On the way back, we stopped at Playa las Gatas to see “Jesus in the Water”. The King of Kings statue is a bronze statue the local people had made as a symbol of their faith and commitment. After featuring in masses around Mexico, the statue was submerged off the protected beach in 2007.

The MR ran to town one of the first days on his morning jog. He was surprised to find a market area filled with pinatas. Our concierge explained that these were part of the Los Posadas pre-Christmas celebration. People travel house to house searching for a place to stay just as Mary and Joseph did long ago (or as he put it Maria y José).

On one of our lazy beach days, me and Sweet Miss went in search of playing cards. The hotel boutique was closed, so we stopped by the front desk to see if they knew whether any were available. They didn’t have a set, but the concierge offered to stop in town and pick some up for us. The next day, down on the beach, he brought me a set of Uno cards. Now that’s service.

We did enjoy a few trips to town as a family. We tried out some of the local restaurants, we wandered through the market, and we made our way down to the boardwalk along the beach.

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Have I mentioned this was a truly lovely place? I haven’t even shown you the sunsets.

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Our last night, we enjoyed a five-course tasting menu with wine pairings for $40 a person. The exchange rate right now is amazing. 

(The MR pointed out I was wrong after this post went out. Not a first—I asked what I’d gotten wrong. Dinner was $25 per person for that tasty meal. Did I mention the exchange rate?)

Me and the MR are trying to plan another trip down there this spring. Captain Moses told us the fishing all depends on the moon. That gorgeous moon we saw in Cabo back in November wasn’t doing our fishermen any favors.

I would stay at the Viceroy in Zihuatanejo again in a heartbeat.

Where’s your favorite warm weather destination?

 

 

 

 

Highlights & Predictions

Another year has come and gone marking our fifth up here on the hill. Our house is no longer falling apart, and it’s truly become our home.

In 2016, Sweet Miss graduated from college and is living and working down in Oregon. We are quite proud of her.

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The MR took an extended leave of absence from his job, and we’ve been making the most of it traveling the globe. We’ve visited Sedona, Hawaii, Cancun, Chelan, Italy, Cabo, and Zihuatanejo.

zihuatanejo

And you can’t forget half a dozen trips to Oregon moving the girls in and out, graduation, Dad’s Weekend, Mom’s Weekend, and visiting just because. At least the girls live less than an hour apart, so we get to see them both during our frequent visits.

While we’re not gadding about, the MR did manage to paint the upstairs, remodel the guest bathroom, and keep the grounds shipshape.guest-bath-collage

Our big purchase for the year was a dining room table to replace the 20-year-old one that was showing its age. It was wonderful to be able to have the family gathered around it at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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I’m sure we’ll make many memories seated for years to come.

I had dreams of redoing the sewing room, sprucing up the hang out room, and replacing the stained rugs in all the bedrooms this last year. Well, it hasn’t really happened, but we have talked about shopping for carpet, so it is in the offing.

We’ve also talked about adding paths down to the meadow and the tennis court. The MR hired a brush cutter to remove an acre of blackberries. We’re definitely making some progress.

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Each year, we seem to add a few trees to the orchard and expand the kitchen garden. I’m hoping to harvest more fruit than the deer and raccoons this season.

Baby Girls has plans to study abroad during the summer, so me and the MR may truly experience the empty nest. We enjoy the joy and excitement that young people bring to our home, but we also like our quiet evenings just the two of us.

As far as the blog goes, I’m going to try to be more consistent—I know I’ve said that before. Perhaps I’ll drop down to twice a week or bring back Wordless Wednesdays. Don’t worry; I won’t totally disappear without warning.

Hoping your new year is filled with wonder. Who knows what will happen just around the corner?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas in Green

The last few years—OK maybe forever—I’ve been decorating the house for Christmas in red and white and lots of sparkle. But sometimes you just want to shake things up. I could have gone with a pink-and-blue 50’s theme tree or aqua and seashells for that beachy look, but that’s just not me.

Sweet Miss and Baby Girl were home over Thanksgiving and I had them start putting all those ribbon trees I’d made on the china hutch, and it just kind of worked. Before you know it, we had santas, and snowmen, and angels scattered through our own little forest.

top-of-hutch

I like how all the little knick-knacks look like they belong nestled amongst the trees rather than random figurines on a buffet.

penguins

With this woodsy feel in mind, I thought the sparkle and glitz of past mantels would look odd. That left me with boxes of decorations on the floor and a lot of indecision. But I saw this sweet little birdy on the Target website and fell in love.

little-bird

He was supposed to come in a set of three, but they were sold out. Luckily, I found this little guy when I stopped in at the store with the MR. Later on a more leisurely shopping trip, I went to HomeGoods, and picked up some twine-covered bells and random decorative balls. Target had lovely wood snowflake lights and more nature-inspired balls to help fill out the scene. The snowflake lights glow and look quite sweet at night.

mantel

I used leftover ribbon from the trees to swag across the mantel along with some burlap ribbon I picked up at Wal-mart. I simply ran the ribbon through small rings and hung them with 3M hooks.

ribbon-swag

Bows could be used to cover the hooks and rings, but I didn’t want it to get too fussy.

The MR put his foot down when we went to the tree farm, so our tree is a little shorter (around 9-feet) this year, but it still feels like we’ve brought a bit of the forest inside.

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I’ve been decorating bit-by-bit this Christmas. The nativity set my folks made when they were newlyweds is still waiting for a spot, and the girls santa collages haven’t found wall space. But I’m giving myself a pass. I don’t have to be perfect and have my house all together all the time to enjoy this wonderful season.

Me and Baby Girl went shopping this week, and we made tasty cookies/candy with a recipe from MeeMee. If everything’s doesn’t happen, it’ll still be a great Christmas with my family. And there’s always next year.

How’s your decorating coming along? What’s a favorite thing to do this time of year?

 

 

 

A Look Back at November

It’s easy to put together a monthly recap when you’ve been out of town and haven’t posted much of anything.

If you’re ever in Seattle, I recommend checking out Chihuly Garden & Glass at the Seattle Center. The beauty and whimsy of his creations made me smile with joy. I felt like I’d dropped into a Dr. Seuss world.

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I don’t know what planet he comes from, but I’d sure like to visit. We all have errands and chores that take us hither and yon, why not Make the Most of It.

I laughed, tongue-in-cheek, about our New Lawn Ornament when the well guys got stuck in the meadow. The MR smoothed out the ruts, and next spring grass will cover the wounds.

well-truck-stuck

If only that were the worst of our well problems this month. The work they did ended up clogging some of the pipe, emptying the holding tank, overheating and then burning out the pump, resulting in no water for our housesitter while we were on the annual fishing trip to Mexico.

Perhaps we shouldn’t have any major work done just before leaving town, perhaps making sure the auto shut-off is properly installed is very important. JKA well, came out on a weekend to help our housesitter and had a new pump in by Monday comping us on labor. We ended up buying a more powerful pump, so they only charged us the difference, and our water pressure has been great. But our “free” water has cost an arm and a leg over the last five years.

While our housesitter was dealing with no water, we were watching beautiful sunsets and enjoying some heat.

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We appear to have brought a little of Mexico home with us in these Unexpected Blooms.

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We ended the month with a few days with the girls at home. I love having our family together. Our new table arrived just in time for Thanksgiving, and it was definitely Worth the Wait.

thanksgiving-table

Thanksgiving and Christmas have always been a time to gather with family and friends. I’m so glad I have these guys to make memories with.

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Don’t worry, I’ll be sharing some Christmas decorating and other wonders of the season before too long. I thought I’d end this post on a happy note. My girls are wearing their cozy knit socks—making their mama happy.

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Hope you had a fabulous November.