Happy Trails

November 15, 2012

The President's Stables

When we visited New York this summer, we paid a visit to the home of Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was of course quite lovely, but what I enjoyed most was the stables, which we were allowed to freely roam through on our own. I thought you might enjoy the tour, via the snaps I took with my phone.



I was quite surprised that his ribbon collection and old family photos sit right there on the wall within hands reach.


The structure and building materials were so classic. I could have sat there and dreamed all day.





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This is what I love about old buildings. The beauty in the details and attention to every last surface and fixture. I know I sound old-fashioned, but *sigh*, they just don't build them like they used to...


September 12, 2012

Washington D.C.

Our time in Washington D.C. started at the Capitol Building.


The star inlaid in the floor here marks the spot where Washington D.C. is divided into its four quadrants. It's said that it's good luck to walk over the star.


The original Supreme Court Chamber can be found here. This room was used from 1810-1860 and it was here that the landmark case which established its authority to interpret the Constitution was heard.




The Rotunda is majestic and houses large paintings depicting the development of the United States.





Exterior. Grand and inspiring. It's hard to not stand here and feel incredible patriotism, pride, and respect for our country and forefathers. To hear their stories, to stand where they stood, it's something I hope you can experience someday, if you haven't already.



We visited Arlington Cemetery and I chose to not take any pictures there, with one exception. For me, it's such a sacred personal place that it's something I wanted only to remember in my mind. My one exception was in the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns. In taking pictures of this symbolic ceremony and sharing them here, I am paying tribute to our soldiers.

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The Supreme Court building was undergoing annual maintenance, but stood no less grand. There is more marble in this building than any other in the world.



Inside the building, there are 2 spiral marble staircases, each self supporting, meaning there is no central support to each staircase. Each step is anchored into the marble wall on one end, and rests on the step below on the other. If one step were to be removed, all of the others would come crashing down, as if a trail of dominoes.



The Supreme Court Chamber, where rulings are made based on our country's most important document: The Constitution.


The Library of Congress:








The Library of Congress houses more than 32 million cataloged books, the most extensive comic book collection in the world, and more than 5 million maps, among many many more collections. It was here that we learned about Mandatory Deposit, which simply put, mandates that two copies of all works published in the United States be submitted to the Library of Congress. Nearly 10,000 of the 22,000 works submitted to the library each day are retained. Those not retained are distributed to other agencies and libraries.


And, the White House:



We visited many other sites and found this city and its people to be incredibly warm and welcoming. If you ever have the chance to visit, I highly recommend it.


We had the pleasure of having a personal guide for our visit. Because of her extensive family history in the area and depth of knowledge as the author of three books relating to Washington D.C., we learned more than we could ever imagine. You can find out more about her here.

Labor Day weekend is a glorious time to visit. The weather is warm and there are no crowds.


September 11, 2012

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Well, I was home for the blink of an eye and then gone again, zig-zagging this sweet country we call home.


One of our stops was Washington D.C., which is just so lovely and wonderful. While there, we got to visit the Capitol Building and got a special tour from our Congresswoman's (Cathy McMorris Rodgers) office. I've always admired the work that Cathy has done for our state, so the tour was a special treat.



I consider myself extremely patriotic and being able to set foot in this building gave me goosebumps. In fact, almost every experience in our capitol made me feel that way...


Today I'm settling in back at home and looking forward to returning to a normal family schedule once again. Tomorrow I'll share more of the images from my trip to our nation's capitol.

September 04, 2012

Lovely is What I See


Hello from the Hudson Valley and the campus of Vassar College.


A day where one turn leads to another and suddenly you wish to stop the car and appreciate the beauty that surrounds you. A calm and serene summer morning to explore.


One moment, a building. A tree.

And then, my family in front of me.

How lovely is thee?


August 13, 2012

The Mountains


We headed to the mountains in search of some huckleberries and inspiration. The air is cooler here and the silence different than anywhere else.



The snap of a twig. A gurgling stream. Hidden paths of dreams.




Sunlight dapples. Huckleberries are found.




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Inspiration abounds.




August 08, 2012

Where in the World is Serena?


The summer is flying by and I've been happily pretty much off the grid. Time spent mostly with Colin and the boys, enjoying this fleeting time in their childhood, and a few quick trips with friends.

This weekend found me in San Francisco.

Chinatown is just as wonderful as I remember it.


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The Ferry Building was full of tasty treats:


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All in all, a great weekend in the city.


P.S. You can read more about our weekend on Heather's blog, here.

We also made it to the flea, where we met up with Cathe. You can read about that here and all about Heather's finds here.


July 24, 2012

A Weekend to Remember

We've just returned from Portland - a Mother's Day gift trip, just redeemed, from Colin and the boys.

Our destination was Portland's Culinary Workshop where Colin had booked some cooking classes for us.



I won't exaggerate and say that Colin loves to cook. In fact, he does not, so the gift was extra special to me.


I'd never taken a cooking class until this and I wasn't quite sure what to expect. The first night, we prepared Vegetarian Vegan Delights and the next, Thai Street Food.




Our chef instructor was Susana Holloway. It's funny how no matter where you go or who you meet, you'll always find others who are living out their dreams. And that's Susana. Time with her was warm, happy, and well spent. A real treat. I think any new knowledge is a gift.





How many slams in an old screen door? Depends how loud you shut it.

How many slices in a bread? Depends how thin you cut it.

How much good inside a day? Depends how good you live 'em.

How much love inside a friend? Depends how much you give 'em.

~Shel Silverstein

For more information on Portland's Culinary Workshop, click here.

To follow Portland's Culinary Workshop on Facebook, click here.

Special thanks to Susana and Portland's Culinary Workshop for a fun and memorable weekend.

July 06, 2012

Word From the Country

Hi Friend,

I'm sending word from the country.

Summer is here and it's been so peaceful.


We've been quietly traveling the backroads of this land that we love. Sometimes the sound of silence is the best sound indeed.



I'm thinking of you while I'm about.




P.S. I've answered your business questions here.

My friend's mom is doing lovely things. You can read about it here.

May 21, 2012


I'd been dreaming of a lilac scented home. There's nothing quite like it really. So I headed out with my picnic basket to fill to the brim.





And then, a sprinkle.

Drip. Drop. Drip.

So I wandered back home.

A canning jar and a pretty tin were all I needed.


A little dream come true.


April 24, 2012

Spring on the Palouse

Spring has come to the Palouse. The other night, we took a drive to see.




Each year as the crops come in, it feels like a new beginning.



With every spring, a fresh start.









And that's a beautiful thing, isn't it?


April 11, 2012


My family and I just returned from spring break in Arizona. I love it there. We started out with several days at the Arizona Grand Resort where we played in the water park, relaxed by the pool, and went for occasional hikes.


Colin get up extra early every morning to go mountain biking on the trails behind the resort. I love how he likes to squeeze every moment out of the day.

We watched the Mariners get ready for their season on a beautiful warm evening in Peoria.


And then awoke the next day to take in the desert and all its beauty.

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We watched climbers reaching for the sky.


Then we road-tripped North to see something grand.


The Grand Canyon.

Something so majestic it makes you catch your breath. Greater than anything you can imagine. I can still close my eyes and feel the air that swirled around me and gave me the feeling of forever.

You can feel forever there.


November 02, 2011

Hillcrest Orchard Dinner

Last month, while visiting Harry & David, I was treated to dinner at the beautiful Hillcrest Orchard and RoxyAnn Winery. A true orchard to table event.





Dinner was planned for outdoors, but the weather took a turn for the worse and was unseasonably cold and wet. So, they moved dinner indoors to the barrel room.


I'll never tire of sunflowers. They're just so beautiful and are great for a summer or autumn table. I love how they added in their pears and local bay leaves for added beauty. My heart aches for bay trees like the ones that grow wild in that area.


Sometimes the most simple ideas are the best. Case in point: the wine bottle candleholders, made from what they had on hand.


The menu:


It was a delicious, cozy, and memorable evening.







October 19, 2011


In the fall, I'm at Hansen's Orchard at least once a week. Our family goes through a lot of apples.

Here's Derek coming in with a load from the orchard:


My favorite first apple of the season is Ginger Gold.


It's the perfect eating apple for me. And I love Jonagold for baking - especially pies.

But mostly, I love the first bite of the season, when it seems like the sky opens and a choir of angels begins to sing. They're so delicious.



It's another happy harvest.




You can read more about Hansen's here.


October 07, 2011

Harry & David - The Royal Riviera

This is the final leg of our Harry & David visit and if you were to ask any employee about their most popular product, they'll most likely answer: The Royal Riviera Pear.

I'm here with a group of food bloggers, who were really great. (I've attached links to their blogs at the bottom of this post).


Let's go visit the orchards!


The orchards are spread all around the Rogue valley, tucked in here and there. Their biggest crop is undoubtedly the Royal Riviera, which is a Comice pear.


Our guide is Matt, who is Harry & David's horticulturist. We all grow attached to Matt as he worries aloud about an impending hail storm that threatens about 40,000 tons of pears waiting to be harvested.

Because the pears are so delicate, they're packed in shallow crates, stacked atop one another to create a pallet-sized load for transport by the tractors. I'm happy to see that like my orchards at home, there are lots of grasses and growth beneath the trees, indicating healthy soil. The more sterile looking the orchard, the more likely they're using lots of chemicals.



Our next stop is one of the organic orchards. I'm taken aback by the ashen appearance of the leaves and learn they've been sprayed with an organic substance that pests don't like. 


Luckily, the hail storm doesn't materialize and we head back to the fruit processing facility, to watch the pears being processed.


The complex is enormous.


We're passing through during a shift change.


These sorting work stations are so incredibly cute and vintagey.


The next shift begins. The fruit starts coming down the line in the baskets seen on the conveyor belt. Each and every pear is photographed 30 times, searching for blemishes. The blemished pears are sent in the other direction, on the juicing line. The pears that pass the photo test make their way to the worker's sorting stations, where they inspect each one for imperfections. The pears that make their way to the numbered bins are just overflow and once the employee catches up, they'll slowly make their way through sorting those pieces of fruit.


The good ones are boxed and the others go to juice.


This next area we pass through serves as the various Towers of Treats packing area:

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We watch as each tower is wrapped together, by hand, with a fabric bow. Each wrapper has their own wrapping station. We talk to the ladies who are wrapping and tying the bows and learn that some use a newer sort of station, while others who have been with the company longer, prefer the vintage style.


After the towers are wrapped up, they move down the conveyor to the person who boxes them up.

He makes the shipping box, grabs a tower, places it inside the box, and places it back on the conveyor. All in a matter of seconds:

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Next up, we're on to gift baskets where a similar process takes place, also completed by hand. I even take a stab at packing one.

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But the real fun begins when we start sampling. Cheese - cracker - gingerbread petit four - cheese - cracker with red pepper relish - chocolate truffle. This is my ideal situation. Salty then sweet. Salty then sweet. I could do this all day. Oh ... then we do.

Well, I'm stuffed to the brim. Next up is a beautiful farm dinner. I'll tell you all about it soon.

Click on the links below to visit the blogs of my new friends by clicking on their links below:

Reluctant Entertainer

Go Gingham

Lick My Spoon

Dana Treat

Eat The Love

Time Out Mom

Baking Bites

Delilah from Cool Mom Picks

Culinary Concoctions by Peabody

You can visit Harry & David's website here.

Photo Credit: First image of group courtesy of Sandy Coughlin.

October 06, 2011

Harry & David - Behind The Scenes

Today we're touring through the Harry & David candy kitchens and packing facilities. I'm amongst the first group of visitors ever invited for such a behind the scenes look at their operations, and yes, I will speak for the others and say that we feel like we've been invited into a real-life version of Willy Wonka's factory. Come along with me, we have the golden ticket!

When the doors to the kitchens open and that first puff of wind hits you, it's almost like a visible onslaught of a buttery, sugary, crispy popcorn whirlwind of delight - the air so sweet and thick you can almost see it.

This is the Moose Munch room where it's all prepared and packaged. Moose Munch is a combination of caramel corn, cashews, almonds, and chocolate.


I've always wondered how Moose Munch is so perfectly spherical and learned that they use two varieties of popcorn - Butterfly and Mushroom - to achieve their desired mix. And I was really surprised to learn what high quality ingredients go into their products. Real butter, the highest quality chocolate, and so on.

The popcorn is popped and brought up on what I'm going to call a ferris wheel. (It's really not, but hey, since I have the golden ticket, I'm going to call it what I want).

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The popcorn goes into that big vat to the left, where it patiently waits for the sugars and butter to reach the perfect caramelization - at which point it's magically drizzled over the popcorn and mixed to perfection. Charlie explains that the mixture is slowly cooled and stirred to prevent clumping.


The nuts and chocolate popcorn are mixed in last


and then it's all bagged and labeled by hand, and packed into boxes that await. I love that they employ workers even though it would be more cost effective to have it done by machine.


Next door is the tumbling room where they shine up the Bing Cherry Chocolates. Fun Fact: 40,000 pounds of chocolate arrive at a time in the kitchens.


I keep noticing the workers here smile a lot. In fact, I'm beginning to think that if they could just bottle up their whirlwind of delight - yes even just that smell, it would create world peace. Everyone. Would. Just. Be. So. Happy.

Down the hall, we're stopped in our tracks by a gazillion foot long cinnamon roll:



The dough is prepared and then flattened by hand to place in the roller:


It's rolled out and then rolled up on the rollers for the next station:


The next station takes the rolled up dough, unrolls it, covers it with butter, followed by spices and sugars, rolls it up again, slices it, and then places it in the pans:

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A Cinnamon Swirl is born.

We continue on through cakes, baklava, truffles, and

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cheesecake and I secretly wish for just one of the carts filled with springform pans. I LOVE cheesecake.



Tomorrow we'll make our way to the Royal Riviera orchards and the fruit packing facility.

Sweet dreams.

October 05, 2011

Hello From Oregon!

When my parents decided to park the gypsy wagon and settle down in one spot, we made our home in Northern California, not far from the Oregon border. My parents fell in love with the small town of Ashland, Oregon, and we'd spend lots of time there. It took an hour to get there and on the way, we'd always drive by Harry & David. They had the most amazing fruit and treats. One year I saved my money and surprised my mom with a cheesecake for her birthday from their amazing bakery mail order. 

Years later, when I moved to the northenmost village in Alaska, fresh fruit was hard to come by, so I'd treat myself to the best that Harry & David had to offer by mail. It was like enjoying a treat from an old friend.

Recently, the folks at Harry & David invited me for a visit to their headquarters for a behind-the-scenes tour of their the orchards and facilities. And how could I say no to an old friend?

I arrived into Medford, Oregon yesterday for my big visit and I thought you'd enjoy getting to see behind the scenes, along with me. So over the next few days, I'll be taking you along.

Today, let's start in the Candy Kitchen Product Development and Testing Lab with Charlie, who has been creating chocolates and treats at the factory for many years.


Charlie is responsible for taking a new recipe that has been developed and trying to bring it to life on a large scale - one that needs to be produced again and again in large quantities for mail order and sale in their stores. A recipe concept may be amazing as one, but can be a challenge to create for the market.

Miniature versions of the ovens and equipment used in the factory are used to test the recipes in the kitchen.

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Right now, they're testing for spring.

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One of Charlie's favorite creations is Moose Munch. Tomorrow I'll show you around the factory where it and many many more treats are made.

October 02, 2011

The Party Table

I was having a party but my table needed some harvest splendor. Ho hum.


So I went out and found some


and brought that splendor in and washed it all up.



Then I began to pretty up the table.


But it wasn't quite enough so I added some more.


And then I decided to just get carried away


because the harvest comes but once a year.


P.S. Just in case you wondered where warts come from...


hee hee.

September 26, 2011

The Fair - Part 2

A real favorite of mine at the fair are the exhibits. I love that the simple acts of everday living are celebrated here. Like gardening, canning, baking, etc.

These are some of my favorites from the fair this year, and I think no words are necessary here. This is a celebration of the beauty in the everyday.










Congratulations to all who participated. I think you're all winners.


September 22, 2011

The Fair - Part 1


We went to the Spokane County Fair last weekend. I forgot how much fun the whizzz and whirrr of the midway can be.









A real MUST-DO: Step 1: Eat a deep fried Twinkie


- or -

deep fried Reese's

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and then take a ride on the Cliff Hanger.





September 20, 2011

Smiths and Peaches


Peaches are still going strong here. The growing season has been out of whack due to a late spring, but it's sort of like getting to have an extended birthday for me, as I love picking almost more than anything.


Today I went down the road to Smiths. Their Red Havens are GINORMOUS this year.





If there's one thing you should know it's that you should listen to your farmer. Ask questions, because a farmer has so much wisdom to impart.


The first thing Mr. Smith asks when you arrive is what type of peach you're looking for. There are so many varieties. And if you don't know your varieties, just explain what you like and the farmer will give you the best recommendation. Smiths orchard grows only freestone peach varieties, meaning the fruit just pulls right away from the pit, rather than sticking to it, which makes the peaches really nice and easy to process if you're canning, freezing, or making pies.

Mr. Smith is partial to Suncrest peaches. :)


One thing I've learned over the years is that a farmer who cares about their crop won't send you out on a wild goose chase through the orchard for unripened fruit or barren trees. But to make sure, just ask what's ripe and if it's good picking. Good picking means you'll have a lot of ripe fruit to pick from, rather than a scant few sprinkled amongst many picked over trees.


Turns out the ginormous peaches are over 1 pound each! (And they're sweet, juicy, and taste like a piece of heaven).

Here are some tips from Smiths (just another thing a great farmer will do, is tell you how to care for their product):


One way for us to enjoy peaches through the winter is with Peach Pie. So when I'm done picking, I come home and make lots of filling. I mix up each batch and place each pie filling in it's own freezer bag. I then place the freezer bag in a pie pan and place it in the freezer to freeze in that shape. Once the filling is frozen, I take it out of the pan and store the fillings in stacks in the freezer. When I want to make a pie, all I have to do is unwrap a filling, plunk it into the crust, and bake. (You can bake the filling frozen or thawed). If baking frozen, it will just take a while longer and you'll need to cover the crust with foil once it's browned, so it doesn't burn as the pie continues to bake.




Special thanks to Smiths Hilltop Orchard, which is #2 on the Greenbluff Growers map. (The numbers represent the orchard's spot on the map, not popularity).

You can find more information on Smiths here.

My Peach Pie recipe can be found here.


P.S. I have no affiliation with Smiths. I just happen to love their farm.

September 12, 2011

The Farmers Market

The Sandpoint Farmers Market was beautiful this weekend - full of autumn beauty.





I ran into Jennifer, selling her wonderful soaps.



Did you know that vegetables are fruits that are darker in color are the most nutritious?



I love finding new ways to enjoy the harvest. Tomorrow I'll tell you about one of my favorite ways to prepare swiss chard.

July 18, 2011

Farm Dinner


Last week, Colin and I had the opportunity to participate in one of the most memorable dinners ever.



The dinner was arranged and conducted by Outstanding in the Field, a tiny company, founded by a chef, whose brother is a pioneering organic grower. His vision was to create a roving restaurant without walls, where guests can enjoy a meal with the farmers, growers, and culinary artisans who grow and work the ingredients, oftentimes in the setting the food is grown.

Our setting was Monteillet Fromagerie


where we were greeted with local wines and small bites near their farmstead cheese shop and tasting room.







Then we were off to meet the goats during milking, learn about the cheesemaking operation,

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and to tour Nourish Gardens, nestled amongst Monteillet Fromagerie's 32 acre farmstead, where I was inspired by the clover paths, grown to add nitrogen to the soil, and learned about biodynamic horticulture and agriculture.




The biodynamic grower and keeper of the gardens:


And then it was time to grab a plate and let the feast commence.












The founder:


The breadmaker:





The winemakers (Rulo):


The winemaker (Flying Trout):






The chef (second from right) and crew:



March 08, 2011

A Quick Trip to Italy

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February 15, 2011

Waking Green Bluff

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December 23, 2010

Greetings From Small Town U.S.A.!

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December 09, 2010

Christmastime in the City

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December 08, 2010

Chelsea Market

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December 07, 2010

New York. Hooray!

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November 02, 2010

Fresh Hazelnuts

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September 27, 2010

Plum Morning

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September 17, 2010

Junk Bonanza Scores

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August 16, 2010

The Way Home

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August 12, 2010

Whisked Away

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July 21, 2010

Cherry Season

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March 17, 2010

Wrong Turn

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March 12, 2010

The Farm

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March 11, 2010

Pine City or Bust!

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February 24, 2010


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December 28, 2009


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November 13, 2009

Good Morning, Market

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November 11, 2009

Home Away From Home

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September 15, 2009

Apple Picking

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August 11, 2009

No Garnets, No Glory

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Last week, we awoke to a rare cool and drizzly summer day.  We'd been itching to visit Garnet Creek, about two and a half hours away in our neighboring state of Idaho.  It's the only place besides India where you can find Star Garnets.  So Bongo, Lukie and I decided it was finally time.  And by golly, no garnets, no glory we decided.  And we hit the open road.  Twisting our way into Idaho and through St. Maries, which I love.  Being the daughter of a logger, I can't help but feel welcome there!


And through the woods we went

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And after a little hike, we arrived.  Turns out, a little rain makes a whole lotta mess at Garnet Creek!

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We slipped and slopped about and made a big huge mess.  But what a time we had!

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And at the end of the day, Lukie and Bongo both had bags of newfound treasures.  And we couldn't have asked for anything more.

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August 10, 2009

Farm Country Sale


There was an estate sale in the heart of farm country this weekend.  The sale was run by one of my favorite estate sale companies, Monarch.  I really appreciate the descriptions they give in their advertisements because I know they're always accurate.  They described this sale as a "digger", which means there will be a TON of things to "dig" for.  My neighbor Michelle loves their sales as much as me, so we decided to go together.  We also met up with her friend and business partner, Faith, and her daughter.  We ran into the Junebug girls there too.





The house, barn, outbuilding, chicken coop, and tents were jammed full.  Everything was for sale.  The advertisement described thousands of yards of fabric, which was perfect for me, especially because we're working on a shoot at the end of the month and can always use a good assortment.  (Plus, I've never met a fabric I didn't like).  After a few hours, our trucks were jammed full.  We stopped for lunch on the way home and I couldn't resist snapping a picture of the trucks with their loads.


August 05, 2009

Wildrose Prairie

Last night, we all headed out to Wildrose Prairie to volunteer at a bike race.
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If you're going to race, the prairie is where it's at!
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You've heard lots about my prairie that I love.  And we are so lucky to live in an area where prairies are found almost everywhere you go.  Life on the prairie is good!

June 22, 2009

A Trip to the Berry Farm


One of our favorite summer traditions are multiple trips to the berry farms located just minutes from our home.  My children really love picking out
their berry flat carrier and hopping on the tractor for the ride to the


There are always contests they dream up to see who can pick the most or
eat the most and everyone leaves with red, strawberry scented fingers
and red-ringed lips.


Tips for the trip:

We try to pick in the early morning to avoid the mid-day heat and to avoid "baking" the berries as they sit in the flats.

The boys always end up with strawberry stains on their clothing, but they are easily removed when I pre-treat them before washing with ERA detergent.


Grow your own Patch:

Strawberries are really
easy to care for and with some basic care at the end of the season, you
can enjoy strawberries fresh from your own garden.

  • In the fall, mow or clip down your strawberry plants to avoid pesky bug infestations.
  • Cover completely with straw for protection against harsh weather.  (Avoid using hay as it encourages weed growth).
  • In
    the spring, uncover the plants and move the straw to surround each
    one.  The straw will act as a natural weed barrier and will keep the
    area mud-free for your knees at picking time.

February 05, 2009


Colin and I are off for a few days to someplace warm.  I always call these getaways a honeymoon, because it still feels that way, even after all these years.  I love this man.

November 03, 2008

Twix = Twouble

About 150 miles into our 280 mile trip to Seattle, we realized that trick-or-treating right before a roadtrip is a really bad idea. Especially if too many Twix are consumed.  And I do have to admit that for a split second, I did cry just a little on the inside when I had to sacrifice a Cath Kidston pillow to catch the vomit produced by the Twix overload. And then a second Cath Kidston pillow. And then a Farm Chicks tote. Poor Micah. Poor us. Poor car.

After a good night's sleep and recovery from the vomit incident, we headed out for a family baseball game at Green Lake, visits to Pike Place, the baseball card shop (where the boys have purchased so much that we're on a first-name basis), the comic book shop, and lunch at our favorite bagel shop.

The main event for our little roadtrip was a skateboarding extravaganza at Key Arena.  Boy stuff. Their little eyes are still as big as raccoons after meeting these guys.


Back home, I'm happy to report that the pillows and bag have been thoroughly soaked and have made a full recovery as well. And Micah?  He's Twix free and has vowed to never eat another as long as he lives. We all like that plan very much.

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