All the Very Best of Us...2013!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26oc9xuzYQY

Cheers to a fun and picture-worthy 2013! May 2014 be filled with people you love and unimaginable adventures!

Happy New Year! xxo!

PS I posted a similar (shorter) video on Instagram a few days ago...maybe you saw it there; if not, follow me over there!: stephaniebrowngoat.

Whidbey Island Camping: Deception Pass

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20120930-215657.jpg If my latest posts on crabbing and apple picking were not enough to convince you that we live in some sort of fairytale land where many different amazing vacations can be found within a two hour radius of our home, let me share with you our latest camping adventure...

We spent the weekend at Deception Pass on Whidbey Island with some of our most favorite friends. Driving through the National Park, we twisted through narrow roads lined with tall, immense evergreens that created a feeling of entering a lush tree cave. The dense forest was surrounded by rocky, dark sanded beaches with amazing views of the surrounding mountains, including snow capped Mt Baker. The temperatures ranged from the 40s to the 60s as either the sun or the moon, which was one day from being full, shined down upon us.

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We played on the beach, made amazingly delicious food in several Dutch ovens including American Chop Suey, Herb Biscuits, Apple Crisp, and Egg and Sausage Breakfast Burritos, kept warm by a roaring campfire, and nearly finished 4 bottles of wine as we talked long after the kiddos were asleep. In the morning, we awoke to really dense fog, yet as we played on the beach it magically lifted to reveal sunshine and clear skies...photos of Jack on the foggy morning beach in a later post this week. They are some of our favorite photos of Jack to date, so in our completely biased eyes they deserve a post by themselves.

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The weekend was immensely fun. A truly perfect way to (reluctantly) wrap up camping for the year. And, we could not have shared it with better company- thank you Amy, Phil, Hanna, and Britta for so much fun! And, thank you, Phil, for some of the amazing photos seen here.

Weekend Tip to Bellingham, Part 2: Apple Picking

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20120926-153807.jpg Last Sunday, before driving back to Seattle, we spent the afternoon picking apples at the most lovely Bellewood Acres. It was a beautiful fall day that produced a chill with the breeze yet warmth with the sun. A long tractor train carried us eager pickers out into the apple orchard past the pumpkin patches and cows and horses grazing in their fields.

There were rows upon rows of apple trees all bearing beautiful red fruit yet due to the ripening calendar, we were limited in picking only the Tsugaru variety, which the farm describes as "a gourmet dessert apple rated among the best eating apples of Japanese heritage". I might have to say that they rate among the best eating apples EVER. Crunchy, juicy (the juice pops into your face when you cut or bite into it!), and candy sweet. They are so very good that I thought the 10 pounds we picked would be more than enough, but I personally am eating 2 or 3 per day! I had to set aside the necessary 8 that are required for a Dutch oven apple crisp we will be making over the campfire with friends this weekend!

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I am learning quickly, being in the land of apples aplenty, that there is nothing better than the first taste of Autumn's apple. Choosing the perfect one from the tree, biting into its skin to reveal a flesh that is gleaming white, and savoring the taste while the juice splashes around my tongue. The first taste of the season's apple may be almost as paramount as a first kiss...it's good. Really good.

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We left the orchard not only with apples, but also with peanut butter made right on the farm. I have found the pairing of homemade peanut butter and a fresh, sweet Tsugaru apple to be perfectly divine. As our supply quickly dwindles, I know I will be calling upon our wonderful CSA to replenish our cravings and, perhaps, trying to squeeze another apple picking outing into one of our already busy fall weekends. At the very least, a trip to Bellewood Acres will become an annual fall tradition!