Archive for September, 2012

Our perfect stay on Orcas Island ended yesterday.  Hmmph…  But here’s how the last couple of days looked:

We stepped back onto the ferry on Thursday and headed to San Juan Island to check out Friday Harbor – the mist rolling over the water that morning was beautiful (and again, a little bit like heaven, no?).

Friday Harbor was a bit touristy for our taste, but we had fun soaking in the sun and checking out the marina with the girls.

Elise was pretty taken with the seal that hung out right by the dock – she named him Sealy and got a big kick out of his whiskers.

We got back to Orcas just in time for naps all around, then wolfed down hearty helpings of Mitch’s spaghetti and meatballs for dinner.  The wind picked up that evening and the weather really started to cool down, so we spread out a beach towel and had our ice cream in front of the fireplace instead of out on the deck.  Ah, I love an ice cream picnic.

After a stop for sticky buns and scones at the bakery around the corner, we headed out on Friday morning to do a little kayaking.  Mitch, Kathryn, and Elise grabbed their paddles and did some exploring in the Sound while Shane and I sat on the beach with Morgan and let her dump cups full of sand into our laps.

We all wondered how well Elise would take to the water, worrying that she may be nervous or bored, but the girl totally dug it – this smile quickly turned upside down once she realized her time in the boat was over.

Shane and I handed Morgan off to Mom and Dad and then took our turn in the water.  Determined to make it around Obstruction Island in the allotted rental time, we paddled our hearts out.  My biceps were on fire by the time we landed back at the beach 80 minutes later!

The rest of the day was quiet – quality deck time, a stop at the bookstore for a good cup of coffee, and another leisurely meal around the dinner table.

Elise pulled out her toy microphone at the end of the meal and interviewed each of us, wanting to know what our favorite part of the vacation had been.  The past few days were full of so many good memories, but it was the little stuff that really stuck out – listening to the girls shriek with laughter as Mitch played monster and chased them around the house, watching Morgan giggle uncontrollably over a particularly silly game of peek-a-boo with Uncle Shane, curling up in front of the fireplace with a book and feeling so deeply, contentedly warm.  Simple, lovely, good-for-my-soul kind of stuff.

We spent Saturday morning packing our things (sigh) and took one last stroll through town before heading back to our reality-bound ferry.

Au revoir, Orcas.  Hope to see you again real soon.


Shane, Mitch, Kathryn and I boarded a ferry yesterday with the girlies for our first (annual?) island getaway – we’ve rented a sweet house on Orcas Island and are calling this little piece of heaven home for the next few days.  From the sunny ferry ride over here to the evening I spent wrapped up in a blanket on the deck with a hot cup of tea, this little vay-cay is shaping up to be everything I’d hoped it would be.

We’re right on the water, just a stone’s throw away from the neighborhood bakeries and coffee shops, and Ho-Ly Cow – I’m ready to make an offer on this place!  I mean, honestly, this view is just a little bit incredible…right?!  Right?!

We’re spending lots of time sitting on the deck, eating leisurely meals and reading and painting and soaking in all kinds of sunshiny, adorable goodness.

We’re also taking advantage of the island’s scenic offerings.  Shane biked to the top of Mount Constitution this morning (stud alert!) and the rest of us piled into the rented mini-van and met him at the top.  We could barely make out Mount Baker in the distance, hovering just beyond the morning fog.  Elise and I counted the surrounding islands, then I counted my blessings.  There were lots of both.

Next stop: Cascade Lake per one little girl’s very emphatic request that we find a beach to do some swimming.  Morgan and Elise splashed in the water while Shane and Mitch tossed the frisbee around and Kathryn and I went for a run around the lake.  This is the stuff of perfect PNW summers!

I sighed a little sigh tonight as the sun set on our first full day here – I suspect this will be one of those vacations that flys by much too quickly…

What. A. Week.  More jury duty trial on Monday, two days of the most painful deliberation ever on Tuesday and Wednesday (it was a conflict-avoider’s worst nightmare), and a brief but jam-packed work conference in Utah on Thursday and Friday.  And so this weekend was all about taking a breather – lots of naps, coffee dates and dinner with friends, and some solid progress on Dawson’s Creek Season 1 (don’t judge!).  I barely scratched the surface of my lengthy to-do list and am battling that sense of relaxer’s remorse that often sets in at the end of a particularly lazy weekend – I get a little funky when the leisure-productivity scale tips toward the latter.  I suppose there’s still time to peel myself from the couch and do that load of laundry, scrub that toilet.  Or there’s time to pour myself a cup of tea, bust out the Toblerone, and sink farther into this Joey-Jen-Dawson love triangle…  Happy Sabbath, folks.

Jack and La Verne are known to be pros when it comes to sampling Vancouver’s finest fare, so Shane and I were pretty excited when the four of us finally got a date on the calendar to trek up north together. We buckled ourselves into the Chens’ trusty Prius on Saturday morning, made a quick stop at Honore in Ballard for croissants and coffee, and we were Canada-bound!

The next 36 hours were a blur of eating and drinking and eating and…more eating. My word, if I had a nickel for every time I rubbed my belly this weekend and moaned about how full I was, I’d have enough money to buy that bottle of Johnny Walker Blue that Shane was eyeing at the duty-free shop!  We kicked things off with dim sum in Richmond, plowing our way through a table laden with shrimp dumplings and tofu rolls and little football-shaped fried pockets of meat. It was culinary gluttony at its finest.

We left Richmond with stuffed-full bellies, determined to do something active and build those appetites back up for our dinner resos at 6.  The sun was shining and we were feeling adventurous, so we settled on a bike ride around Stanley Park – tandem-style!  Shane and I had never braved a two-person bike before, and I was wary of our communication skills being pushed to the limit, but we fell into sync pretty easily and made our way around the park with only minor wobbles.

Next stop: dinner at La Quercia.  Ham, fish, pasta, wine, oooooh la la.  It was a meal, made perfect by the company of good friends.  We capped the day off with carefully crafted cocktails at Pourhouse – if only I had a picture of Shane’s gigantic grin as that first Old Fashioned was placed in front of him, and Jack’s furrowed eyebrows as he pondered whether or not his drink had been made with the appropriate proportion of Fernet.  Oh, those boys and their liquor…

We were up impressively early on Sunday (especially considering the gluttony that took place the night before) and started our day with a jog along the waterfront as penance for Saturday’s carb-fest.  Post-run, we grabbed coffee in Yaletown, checked out the neighborhood a bit, and found that our stomachs were sufficiently primed for another day of eating ourselves silly.  First on the list: soup dumplings at Long’s Noodle House.  These delicate, juicy little pockets of meat and broth kind of blew my mind – so, so, so good.

We spent the afternoon hitting the shops on Robson (Zara!), and though none of us were particularly hungry, we couldn’t leave without a stop at Motomachi for ramen.  Hot damn, those noodles make me happy.

We had all heard good things about the Van Dusen botanical gardens and decided to hit them up on our way out of town.  The swoopy new visitor’s center is striking and the were gardens full of the last bits of summer color. We spent a couple of hours wandering down the meandering paths, checking out the luxury car show on the central lawn (yeah, random…), and “racing” through the shrubbed maze.

Our final destination on Canadian soil was the Richmond night market – music and lights and stall upon stall of Asian street food.  The Chinese hamburger and the fried octopus were good, but the Taiwanese shaved ice was the definite winner and the perfect way to end a flavor-filled couple of days.  Milky ice, mochi, jellies, red beans, and a scoop of ice cream – totally worth standing in the evening rain!

And with that, it was time to bid farewell to Canada and point the car toward Seattle.  We crossed that border full, happy, and a little more in love with our neighbor to the north.

Confession:  I’ve been a little lax on my sweets resolution as of late.  While it’s been over two months since I’ve had a Skittle or a Red Vine or even one precious gummy bear, I’ve been a little fast and loose with the desserts.  But whatever – I’m still huffin’ through those evening jogs, and I ate a cucumber for dinner the other night (I had a big lunch), so I’m giving myself a pass and indulging in a few home-baked goodies.

First, after a whoa-there piece of biscotti from Cafe Fiore in Ballard on Friday, I came home and tried out this recipe from David Lebovitz.  I love the crunch of the cornmeal and have been wolfing down these things with my morning (and evening) cup of tea.  Note:  I added a couple handfuls of dried cranberries to my batch and was glad for the extra tang.  Also, don’t feel bad if your pieces aren’t as crisply sliced as Lebovitz’s.  There’s charm in the little bulges and cracks and smooshed edges, right?  Right?

I’ve been on a citrus kick lately and tried out a new lemon bar recipe on Sunday – sweet, tart, and Buttery with a capitol B.  Also perfect with a cup of tea.

I am fully on-board with the fro-yo fad and would visit Red Mango daily if I could for a small plain yogurt topped with berries.  Alas, this isn’t really convenient (or cheap), so on Monday I tried making my own tart frozen yogurt at home.  We don’t have an ice cream machine, so bear with me on this poor man’s version of my favorite treat:  I stirred about two tablespoons of honey into a cup of Greek yogurt (must be plain flavor for optimum tartness!) and popped it in the freezer.  I gave it a stir after an hour hour to break up the icy chunks, put it in for about one more hour, gave it another stir, topped it with fresh raspberries, and chowed down on the easiest dessert ever!  This certainly isn’t soft-serve, but if you’re craving something refreshing and simple, this will hit the spot.  I’m adding an ice cream maker to my Summer 2013 wish list – I can only imagine how good this would be if made properly.

And with that, it’s looking like maybe it should be another cucumber kind of night…

Happy Labor Day, folks!  Happy, indeed – it’s been a pretty glorious long weekend.  Things were slow for me at work last week, so I took advantage of my open schedule and took Friday off to jump-start the holiday.  It was the “me-day” to top all me-days – coffee at Cafe Fiore, a massage to work those blues out of my shoulders, tacos at Oaxaca (and a whole side of chips and guac all to myself!), a little shopping and crafting in the afternoon, and then a perfectly chill movie night at home with Shane.  It was, in a word, grand (but don’t bother renting Friends with Kids – completely awful).

On Saturday I was tasked just with one vitally important mission:  Shane and Jack were making their annual Red Hook Ride out to the Woodinville Brewery (joined by Jordan and Bees – welcome to the club!) and needed La Verne and I to meet them out there with our cars around lunchtime (apparently, this is not a round-trip kind of bike ride).  We scored a sunny table on the patio and the bikers restocked those burned calories with monster burgers and pitchers of beer.  La Verne and I joined in the beef-fest, and we all stumbled out of there a little heavier than when we’d gone in.

We met up with the gang for drinks at The Bottle House that evening and marveled at the fact that we were just discovering this little gem of a bar in nearby Madrona.  Their patio is amazing – like something right out of a romantic movie with it’s twinkly lights and vine-covered railings.  It was the perfect place to toast to the last glimmerings of summer.

Sunday was mellow – church, our ritual lunch at Kedai Makan, and then a couple of hours spent laying on a blanket in Jefferson Park, dozing and reading and watching the kids at the nearby birthday party beat the heck out of a fire engine pinata.  I could have laid there until the sun went down, if not for the lure of dinner hot off Jack and La V’s grill (and the season 5 Breaking Bad finale!).

Today started quietly, with an easy jog at the lake and a couple of hours at Mioposto with a latte and my dusty old sketchbook.

I hated to waste the last of our Labor Day sunshine and started feeling antsy this afternoon.  Just as I was telling Shane that we needed to get out and do something to end the weekend with a bang, he got a phone call from Jack.  “Dude – we’re renting a boat today.  Want to go for a ride?”  Heck yes, we want to go for a ride!  We made our way to a little dock in Kirkland and were promptly picked up by the Chens in their super-posh power-boat.  The Rust clan was along for the ride, and we had a blast cruising around Lake Washington, sun skimming our shoulders and hair blowing in the wind.

And with that, this long, perfect weekend is over.  Tomorrow I report for my first-ever summons to jury duty – how’s that for reality slappin’ you in the face?