A Weekend Spent with Family: Cle Elum, Woodinville, and Seattle

20131015-081543.jpg It's difficult to find words to describe the elation and comfort of being surrounded by family. There's even greater elation and, thus, a greater challenge in describing the feeling, when surrounded by said family whom normally reside over 2400 miles away!

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We felt lucky. I know that much for sure. Spending our weekend in a beautiful cabin rented by Dad in Cle Elum, playing at Suncadia Resort's Harvest Festival, running through the mountain trails, soaking in the sunshine and the views, and enjoying drinks and good times.

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I love each of these people. So happy that I can call them mine...and, over the moon that they came to visit! Thank you Aunt Diane, Uncle Wayne, Martha, Jessica, Mom, and Dad for a fantastic Autumn weekend!

Lake Chelan House Lust

20130520-105312.jpg As promised, here is the perfect weekend home that I just happened to stumble upon one day during a walk at Lake Chelan. I love the large back porch with arched entrances, the way the grassy green lawn slopes down to the blue water's edge, the oversized adirondack chair, the large trees and beautiful landscape, and the unobstructed views of the lake and mountains as the home sits at the end of a small street almost on a point. The fact that there was an old-school wood-paneled land cruiser in the driveway (my most favorite car!) was a pure bonus! So, homeowners, if this is your beautiful home, I'd love to talk one day when we are in the market for our weekend getaway! ;)

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Travelogue: Lake Chelan

20130508-030718.jpg Recently, we spent a week at Lake Chelan sharing a vacation home with our dear friends- Amy, Phil, Johanna, and Britta. It was nothing short of gorgeous and immensely fun! The glacier-fed lake, which is nearly 55 miles long and located in northwestern Washington in the Cascade Mountain range, looks like the Caribbean Ocean with both turquoise, greens, and dark blues coloring its clear water. And, the surrounding hillside reminds me of Tuscany- gently rolling hills dotted with homes, villas, the occasional tree- ponderosa pines, vines of grapes, a patchwork of lush green orchards, and many wineries. One afternoon, I took a walk and was able to get to a height above an apple orchard- it was especially pretty looking down on the neat rows of apple trees leading to the Caribbean blue waters with the Tuscan-looking hills in the background. Off in the distance, the mountain peaks still held snow, making the landscape even that much more rich and stunning. What an insanely beautiful place!

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We hit several of Lake Chelan's wineries while we were visiting- there are more than two dozen wineries surrounding both the north and south shores of the lake. Our first tasting was at Wapato Point Cellars and the bonus here was that it is family friendly and has a small play area on the grounds. This means the kids were well entertained while the grownups tasted wine!

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Both couples enjoyed a date morning (sans kids) where we did something active as a couple and then enjoyed a wine tasting at the Lake Chelan Winery. This winery had my favorite wine of the trip, a white Syrah, which went perfectly with our grilled vegetable and mozzarella pasta dinner.20130508-055700.jpg

We also did a girls only outing to Vin du Lac , a charming French inspired winery (note the Eiffel tower in the second photo) with amazing views! The weather was perfect and we indulged in a few wine flights on their lovely patio and then ended with a glass of sweet and florally Gewurtztraminer.20130508-040110.jpg

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One morning, we hiked at Echo Ridge...it was fun to see a different part of the area and to try to picture what the cross country skiing would be like around there, but the older kids weren't that into walking so the dads ended up carrying them and, of course, baby Britta was carried, which left me as the only parent free of carrying extra kid weight! We saw a few deer on the hike, lots of pretty yellow Baslamroot flowers, and great views! The kids had fun looking for bugs- we found a cool lizard- and building a "bird nest".

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We spent a lot of time playing on the beach and just really trying to soak in the views! Jack looked at us from time to time while involved in play and said, "it's really pretty here, right?". "Yes, baby, it is," I always replied with a smile and a happy little sigh.

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This was really a perfect trip to do with friends! The area is so relaxed...it was a joy to be able to spend so much time with our great friends with no real agenda. We ate fantastic meals, soaked in the hot tub for hours, indulged in many tropical drinks and local wine, and were able to comfortably spend lots of quality time with each other without rushing home for naps or bedtime! Our rental house, Lazy Creek, was the perfect find (thanks to Amy!) with a pool, hot tub, multiple outdoor seating areas, great views, and lots of space to claim as your own.

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Jack and Johanna "got married" several times during the week which looked like lots of hugging and tumbling and spinning around...clearly, they are quite fond of one another! 20130508-055855.jpg

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On our last day, just the three of us visited Blueberry Hills Farm where we had brunch. It's a few miles outside of town. Looking out from the restaurant's elevated back deck, you see rows and rows of blueberry bushes which we explored after our meal. They smelled wonderful as they were in full bloom...too bad we weren't there during the picking season! On our way out of town, we made one last stop to Lake View Drive-In. We weren't overly impressed with our lunch there earlier in the week, but, man, their milkshakes are delicious- we had to have another one for the drive! My favorite was peanut butter hot fudge, which had a rich peanut butter flavor and a ribbon of thick hot fudge marbled evenly throughout...mmm!

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I also found a home that I'm pining for right on the north shore of the lake!...I took pictures of the home and will do a separate post next week. Oh, house dreaming is fun!

Travelogue: A Two Week Visit in Seattle (with Nonna and Pops)

It feels like we have been on vacation for weeks! This is not to say that I would not be eager to hop in my car or board a plane tomorrow- I'm always ready to travel and explore!- but with my parents two week visit here and then our recent week away at Lake Chelan (more on this trip later this week), we've been spoiled with travels and explorations and that lovely break in routine that only vacations and holidays bring. 20130504-020839.jpg Having such a long amount of time out here (which never seems to be quite long enough...), we were able to do lots of fun day trips and activities around the city with my parents. One of our first adventures was a day trip to Edmonds, which is only 11 miles north of Seattle yet it has such a small town feel with brick sidewalks, small cafes, and quaint bookstores and toy stores. It is situated on the Puget Sound and on clear days has views from the shore of the Olympic Mountains. Most people know it for the ferry service which takes travelers to Kingston, but it offers so much more with sandy beaches, easily stroll-able sidewalks, and good food. The sea life left on the rocks and sand at low tide was fascinating to explore- rockweed, bull kelp, sea anemones, sea slugs, snails, clams, mussels, sponges … this is reason alone to go back! If it wasn't so windy and cold on the day we were there, Jack would have been happy playing at the beach for hours!

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On the day after Edmonds, we played in Volunteer Park. After enjoying the new play area, we climbed the water tower and had a clear view of all of Seattle and its surrounding area.

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One of our weekend day trips found us admiring the many fields of tulips at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival about an hour north of Seattle. It was such a unique thing to see- hundreds of acres of rainbow colored tulips and daffodils amidst beautiful farms. Unfortunately it was raining when we were driving through so we didn't get out to walk through the fields, but it was just as stunning from the car.

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After all the tulip viewing, we meandered up Chuckanut Drive all the way to Bellingham. We stopped for lunch at the Rhododendron in Bow and explored the beach at Taylor Shellfish Farms, which is the largest producer of Manilla clams and Geoduck in the United States.

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We ended our "tulip festival day" with a stop at Kerry Park, a spot where we love to go to admire the houses, to look out over the city, and to take photos.

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As shown in the photos, we had tons of fun! There were lots of other memorable moments that I don't have pictures of and that you should definitely add to your Seattle bucket list- a Mariners baseball game, a Huskies sporting event- we saw a baseball game, runs along the Burke Gilman trail, a driving tour and dinner in Madison Park, and a Pacific Northwest seafood dinner on the water- among others!

Bits and Pieces of our Christmas

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20130106-021715.jpg We've been back home for nearly a week, yet we can't quite seem to jump back into our pre-holiday routine. I think all three of us are still tired from all of the fun we had in Florida! This has definitely been the most difficult transition back for me; hence, the delay in this blog post. So, before it becomes irrelevant, here are a few of my favorite photos from our Christmas vacation in Pensacola.

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Some of my favorite holiday moments include: Eating (a lot of) cookies and sharing ONE cookie and eggnog with Santa (only one cookie for Santa was a very clear instruction given by Jack!).

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Jack wished for two things from Santa- a Big Woody and a Big Batman. Of course, Santa felt him worthy of both of his wishes! But, the Batman Jack was hoping for was more of the size demonstrated by his hands in the photo above, not quite as big as the one he received! He didn't seem too disappointed in Santa's mistake.

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(Too much) Bowling fun!, the day after Christmas family tradition. And, tooters...a green apple shooter taken as a result of a losing bowling game.

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Waiting with his cousins at the top of the stairs for "Christmas morning" festivities at Mia and Popi's house.

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Lots of outdoor playtime in the Florida sunshine!

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Celebrating Great Pawpaw's 90th birthday!

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This year's family Christmas photo taken at the beach (on a windy morning!) with the new beach ferris wheel in the background.

Another holiday post to come highlighting our annual apps and brew dinner (with recipes!). I hope you are enjoying a nice start to your New Year!

October Trip to Nashville: Family, Cheekwood, and Gator vs Vandy Football Game

Nashville was fun! Super FUN! My only regret is that the time passed too quickly...our 3 days flew by but I know it's because we were all having a great time! It started the second we got off the plane...Remember that film I shared with you a few months ago about the guy with MS and his girlfriend who, after hearing about his symptoms and how scared he was about his unknown future, looked him in the eye and said, "I'm In" to show her unyielding support? In an extremely touching display, my family (including my sister's girlfriend, Martha) met us at the airport wearing matching "I'm In" shirts that they had made for me! Needless to say, I was beyond touched and felt 100% supported and loved! This meant so much to me!!! How wonderful is my support network??!

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We spent the next three days- playing with the 100s of Toy Story toys that my sister and Martha borrowed for Jack to play with (he was PSYCHED!) 20121014-215131.jpg

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eating (a lot of eating!) Gulf shrimp and cheese grits, biscuits with sorghum, chicken and dumplings, fried pickles and BBQ (I had a pulled pork sandwich with pimento cheese and an over easy egg- I took a photo before digging in! And, yes, it was really good!) 20121014-215556.jpg

enjoying the pumpkins, scarecrows, trains, and flowers at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens and Art Museum 20121014-212728.jpg

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drinking locally brewed beer, celebrating Jack's birthday with an AMAZING party which will, deservedly, get a post by itself, and cheering on the Gators to victory against Vanderbilt at an all day tailgate and Jack's first football game! 20121014-213113.jpg

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A special thanks to Auntie Jessica, Nonna, and Pops for making our trip extra special! Birthday party post coming later this week!

Off to Nashville

20121009-140208.jpg I apologize that my posting has not been prolific this week...We are off to Nashville and I have been busy preparing for the trip!

I cannot tell you how excited the 3 of us are to visit family and to be back in the South for a few days! My wonderful sister has planned a fun-filled three days of yummy BBQ, a southern breakfast, a birthday party for Jack!!!, a Gator football game, and SEC style tailgating (you know the type that has an elaborately planned menu served on a table-clothed and fully decorated table with games like corn hole and more beverages than is good for you)!

I will be back with photo updates and, of course, recipes next week. For now, enjoy the pumpkin photos while you savor the Autumn weather!

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Foggy Beach Morning at Deception Pass (starring Jack)

As I told you in the camping post earlier this week, David took some beautiful photos of Jack playing on the beach at Whidbey Island. The morning was chilly and felt damp under a heavy fog, but he didn't seem to notice as he played his heart out! I presume that the fog was what helped to provide such amazing lighting for the photos...the colors were just outstanding. These might be our most favorite photos of Jack to date...again, I am fully aware of how biased we are!

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Kalaloch Camping: Jack's First Camping Trip!

We had so much fun this past weekend! We made our first trip to Western Washington, driving into the Olympic National Park to camp at Kalaloch Campground...one of the most beautiful campgrounds I have ever seen! We didn't have much time...the drive to Kalaloch takes just over 3.5 hours from our home so it's too long to squeeze into a Friday night after work...but, we were longing to get outdoors and to introduce Jack to our love of camping! So, we stumbled out of bed early on Saturday morning and made the trek to the West. We were at Kalaloch for a total of 24 hours (away from our home for about 35 hours), and even though it was quick, it was very much worth it. It was the perfect escape.

In 35 hours we: ...stopped at one of the Starbucks in the University District for sausage and egg sandwiches and strong coffees...it's fun to be in the University District early on a weekend morning when all the college kids are still sleeping away their acts from the night before. ...drove to the Olympic National Park taking the southern route from Seattle...it was an amazing sight to enter into the National Park and be surrounded on both sides of the road by huge evergreens. ...fell in love immediately with Kalaloch...I still can't get over how gorgeous it was...lush green campsites nestled on a cliff overlooking an expansive beach along the Pacific Ocean. ...wandered down the Beach Trail to "feel the sand between our toes"- Jack's words that melted my heart! ...unpacked. Set up our site. ...had lunch of salami, caprese salad, edamame hummus, pita chips, and blueberries. ...snuggled together in our tent and napped! with the breeze and sound of waves from the Pacific Ocean filling our tent space...this alone would have been worth the trip- the 3 of us laying side by side napping in the middle of the day in the forest! ...snacks and a beer at the beach and a lot of sand digging. Tried to be brave...walked out into the ocean but when I realized my feet were numb after about 1 minute, I decided that, yep, it was TOO cold! ...roasted hot dogs over the camp fire for dinner. ...S'mores eating...mmm!!! I didn't like these much as a kid, but now I think they are pretty amazing! ...back down to the beach for the sunset...it sort of took our breath away to watch the sun melt right into the Pacific Ocean... ...all in jammies, book reading in the tent. ...all asleep by 10 pm. ...slept soundly until 6:30 am. ...fire. Breakfast. And, a bit more S'mores eating for the boys. ...back to the beach. Jack played in the sand while David and I sat on the driftwood and watched a couple of whales frolic in the water...yes, WHALES! It was amazing to see their black bodies break the surface of the water and then see a a huge spray of water from their spouts. We stared in awe for over half an hour. ...goodbye Kalaloch...we promise to come back soon...but tomorrow wouldn't be soon enough. ...drive back toward Seattle, this time taking the northern, more scenic route...passed an AMAZING lake- Crescent Lake- that had the most beautiful glacial blue water that we have ever seen! Jack slept for the entire drive. ...lunch in the cutest little town of Kingston, a town that was so busy with ferry dweller traffic that cars lined the small downtown streets waiting their turn to drive onto the big boats. We enjoyed a yummy lunch and a cold beer on the back deck of Main Street Ale House. Jack and I had a mama- son ice cream outing across the street at Mora Iced Creamery while David sat in the traffic line with our car for the ferry. ...Kingston-Edmonds ferry ride...this was a first for all of us. ...short drive home.

It was a perfect weekend... The views were breathtaking. Spending time with just the 3 of us without the distractions of life was such a welcomed treat. The S'mores were pretty outstanding! And, the reminder that nature provides of just how tiny we are is priceless.

I'm already looking forward to going again...in fact, I'll say goodbye for now so I can go and reserve a campsite spot on Whidbey Island for September...

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20120731-215738.jpg our first steps in the (freezing!) Pacific Ocean

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20120731-220143.jpg mmm...S'mores! 20120731-220150.jpg

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20120731-220331.jpg look closely...the whales are in these photos, you can see the water spout in the first one 20120731-220338.jpg

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Our first Seattle Annivesary

20120605-125020.jpgOn this day one year ago, David, Jack, and I boarded a plane headed to Seattle, to our new life, to a complete unknown. To say that we have had a blissful first year here would be a lie...this year has been trying, to say the least, with David's dreadful surgical intern demands, the reality of just how far away from most of our family we are, and the natural adjustments to life in a completely different place. But, despite all that, we have fallen in love with this city. What's not to love in a city where the water and mountains are everywhere??!

As I plan for family to visit in a few weeks, I've been reminded, again, just how many fun things there are to do and how many great places there are to eat that are completely unique to this city. I've been asked by many readers where to go and what to do while visiting Seattle, so in light of our first anniversary of living here and in preparation for our family visit, here's an amateur list...keep in mind the list of things we want to do and the places where we want to eat is about 100 times longer than this!

If you came to Seattle for a few days, here's where I would direct you: Your first stop would be a quick breakfast at Top Pot Doughnuts, a Seattle institution that features great coffee and the most delicious apple fritter- crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, and full of cinnamon and apples. Then, an early morning trip to Pike Place Market. I clarify early morning because it gets really crowded, especially in the summer, and you will get the most out of the all the stalls and vendors if you have some space to explore. You could honestly spend the better part of a day exploring it all- the seafood, the impeccable fruit and vegetable stands, and all of the stores. I love to stop into DeLaurenti's as it reminds me of my college days spent in Florence- I like to pick up bread, some olives, Nutella in the cartoon painted glass jars, and perhaps some prepared foods- the sandwiches and soups are divine. I also always pop into World Spice Merchants to smell all of the teas and spices...it's mind boggling just how many spices they have! A trip to the market would not be complete without tasting, and then inevitably buying, smoked salmon from Pure Food Fish Market...it is out of this world (we had some for our Christmas dinner last year) and they are happy to have you sample it. It is located in the main hall of the market...you haven't tasted smoked salmon until you taste it there, trust me! One last market must-do is a stop into Beecher's Cheese. You can watch the cheesemakers at work behind the large windows while stocking up on some of the yummiest cheeses made right here in the Pacific Northwest. Before you leave the market, you will most definitely be hungry as your senses have been played on for hours while wandering around all of the delectable food stuffs. Take the elevator upstairs and away from the crowds to Matt's in the Market for a delicious lunch of fresh seafood and a great glass of wine (or a Bloody Mary, which are very good here). While dining, you can peer down on the market and the distant ferries in the Puget Sound.

If it is a sunny day, I would urge you to spend the afternoon on the water. Seattle is a city best seen from the water, and on a sunny day there are few better places to be than in a boat or a canoe or a kayak. As we did for our Anniversary, you can rent kayaks from Agua Verde Paddle Club situated on Portage Bay in South Lake Union. They rent by the hour and have happy hour specials on weekday afternoons so you can enjoy a margarita on the patio after you've paddled around Lake Union admiring the bigger boats and the amazingly cool houseboats. You can rent a canoe from the University of Washington Waterfront Activities Center and from there easily row yourself through the waters of Lake Washington into the Washington Park Arboretum . And if you prefer a much larger boat, you can hop a ferry to Bainbridge Island, which gives you a taste of the islands and bays in the Puget Sound and the opportunity to stroll around the small town of Winslow. However you do it, you deserve to experience a bit of Seattle water culture.

All the water adventure will have you thinking about dinner...I would suggest a trip to the Wallingford neighborhood for an intimate dinner at Cantinetta, a small and cozy neighborhood pastaria emphasizing Tuscan culinary traditions, authentic hand-made pasta, and seasonal organic ingredients from the Pacific Northwest. I encourage you to settle in for a relaxed, long dinner with the house red wine, mussels, the Farmstead cheese plate, and several of the pasta dishes to share. If you aren't in the mood for Italian food, head to the quirky neighborhood of Capitol Hill to enjoy handmade, unique craft cocktails and delicious sushi while relaxing in a plush leather sofa next to the window overlooking 15th Ave at Liberty- they make a mean Moscow Mule. After dinner, head to Kerry Park in Queen Anne for a stunning view of downtown Seattle, the Space Needle, and Mt. Rainier off in the distance (on a clear day). While in the neighborhood, stop into Paragon for an after dinner drink (this is where David and I had our first Seattle date!). It's a quaint bar with a good neighborhood feel.

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Start your second day in Seattle with a run around Greenlake and then breakfast at the neighboring Irwin's Bakery , one of our favorite weekend casual spots. The scones are not to be missed, especially if you are lucky enough to go on a morning when they have lemon scones. Their daily quiche is also fresh and delicious and paired smartly with a salad. We are also big fans of their freshly baked bagel egg sandwiches. Another breakfast option is Essential Baking Company. We are particularly smitten with the Madison Park location...it encourages lingering with free refills of deliciously strong coffee, great pastries, and yummy breakfast sandwiches in a window filled dining space. The barstools along the windows are a particularly great spot to sit.

Spend the better part of your late morning walking along the water and admiring the sculptures in the Olympic Sculpture Garden, a nine-acre industrial plot of land that has been transformed into an open air sculpture exhibition along the waterfront that is free to the public. There are stunning views here of Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountains beyond.

For a late lunch, head to Melrose Market for a sandwich at Homegrown - all of the sandwiches are amazing but particularly the Ham + Beecher's and the Squash + Snap Pea Pesto. After your satisfying lunch, take time to stroll through the Melrose Market stores heading upstairs to browse through all of the unique home gifts at Butter Home, tasting cheeses from The Calf and the Kid, smelling the flowers and indulgent soaps at Marigold and Mint, and then sipping a glass of wine and having a nibble of cheese, sardines, oysters, or pickles at Bar Ferd'nand.

Walk off your lunch and nibbles by strolling the streets of Capitol Hill, ducking into the fun and unique shops along Broadway.

When it's time for dinner, pizza is on the menu. Head to the Ballard neighborhood for a wood-fired pie at Delancey. The pies are perfectly cooked and topped with seasonal, local ingredients. And, don't miss the seasonal appetizers and salads. Oh, and save space for a dessert...they are always worth it here. Or, head downtown to Tom Douglas's Serious Pie where the sweet fennel sausage, pepper, and provolone pizza is to die for. While you are waiting for a table here, which will inevitably happen, duck into the bar next door,Dahlia Lounge, another Tom Douglas establishment (he's a Seattle institution), for a deliciously stirred cocktail.

On your last morning, enjoy breakfast at a Wedgwood neighborhood bakery, Grateful Bread. I would suggest having a slice of quiche and black coffee, and picking up a chocolate macaroon to save for later. It is honestly not to be missed- it's my favorite cookie in the city! From here, Magnuson Park is an easy drive (or bike) and you would not want to miss a walk among its shores of Lake Washington with sweeping views of the Cascade Mountains and the Eastside.

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Whew, are you tired now? I am! Do you want to come to Seattle? I hope so! Again, this is an entirely incomplete and extremely personal list of things to do here, and bear in mind that I have only lived here for one year, my husband is engulfed in a surgery intern year with limited free time, and my son is only 2! So, I haven’t been everywhere...no, not even close. I'm quite excited for more years here and for a more relaxed schedule...there is just so much to see and do. I will keep creating Seattle themed posts as we continue to explore!

I am guessing that Seattle can be a very hard place to leave...

A few more pictures from Jack's first wedding

I couldn't resist sharing a few more pictures from my cousin's wedding last weekend. I promise this is the last of the vacation photos! Cocktail hour during the rehearsal dinner. I took Jessica as my date since David was not yet in town; 20120422-012734.jpg

Our family photo at the wedding: 20120422-012743.jpg

I absolutely love this photo of David and Jack: 20120422-012751.jpg

The groom's cake; I personally hate it (Go Gators!), but can appreciate how cool it is to someone who likes Florida State: 20120422-012910.jpg

Admiring the band: 20120422-012941.jpg

Stage jumping! 20120422-013000.jpg

My cute uncles: 20120422-013052.jpg

The nine Halstead siblings: 20120422-013058.jpg

Mama dancing with her little man: 20120422-013119.jpg

Our sweaty dancing fool who peeled his shirt off about halfway through the reception!: 20120422-013128.jpg

Our week at Pensacola Beach

We had such a fun week in the Florida sunshine enjoying our meals outside, eating delicious Gulf seafood, going to a Blue Wahoos minor league baseball game, having cocktails at beach bars with our feet in the sand, chasing seagulls, flying kites, building sandcastles, swimming in the salt water, catching crabs, watching surfers in the remarkably big waves, becoming an expert harmonica player, taking a family photo at Fort Pickens, and staring off into the sunsets.It was perfect. 20120422-121922.jpg

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At the new Blue Wahoos stadium, right along Pensacola Bay and meeting the Blue Wahoo: 20120422-122226.jpg 20120422-122241.jpg20120422-122252.jpg 20120422-122259.jpg

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20120422-012051.jpg 20120422-122546.jpg20120422-122553.jpg 20120422-122708.jpg20120422-122715.jpg Building sand castles with Mama: 20120422-122818.jpg20120422-122833.jpg

It looked like Hawaii one morning in the Gulf with the number of surfers and paddle boarders in the choppy water: 20120422-122945.jpg

The view of the canal from our balcony: 20120422-123232.jpg

Loving his new harmonica from Pops and Nonna: 20120422-123237.jpg 20120422-123253.jpg 20120422-123319.jpg

We took a lot of family photos. These are my three favorites, particularly the one with Jack running to the camera!: 20120422-123519.jpg 20120422-124136.jpg 20120422-123647.jpg Look at those eyes...!: 20120422-123751.jpg 20120422-124016.jpg

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Some scenes from our weekend + Jack's First Wedding

We are in Pensacola for 10 days (!!!) enjoying the sun, the waves, and the sugar white sand. I will be back to share some photos from our beach vacation, but I couldn't resist sharing the photos from my cousin's wedding right away. Jack was the ring bearer and did a shockingly good job holding hands with the flower girl, Chapel, and walking down the aisle...the only mishap occurring when he got to the end of the aisle- he stopped, turned around, and chucked the ring pillow back down the aisle with a huge laugh almost as if he had been planning that bit the whole time! At least it provided some comic relief! My cousin, Heather, was a beautiful bride. The wedding was a blast...a good band with lots and lots of dancing, great food (mmm....shrimp and grits!), and an amazingly fun photo booth!

20120415-113037.jpg Rehearsal dinner...amazing weather, the sunset during the cocktail hour was breathtaking!

20120415-113054.jpg A pre-wedding snack break on the car seat.

20120415-113100.jpg Loving the seersucker and pink bow tie and those curls!

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20120415-113151.jpg We didn't get many family photos with our camera, but I at least grabbed a shot of Mom, Dad, and Jessica during cocktails.

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20120415-115638.jpg Note that his feet are not even touching the floor...Jack danced like a wild man for hours including quite a bit of stage jumping and falling down!

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20120415-121143.jpg Photo booth pictures... We took full advantage and visited it several times! Such a cute keepsake from the night.

February Happenings

Dear... GARDEN I am sure hoping we can break ground on you soon! I have ambitious plans to build a raised bed in between the sidewalk and the street out in front of our house. Then, I will have lots of research to do to find out what to plant in the Pacific Northwest and when to get it in the dirt! I'm really looking forward to growing some of my own things again! And, Jack is going to be my big helper...he's already been talking about "digging in the garden".

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VACATION WEEK Remember how good you were to us? Movie watching every night, family walks, dinners with friends, lunch at the bakery, drinks at the bookstore cafe, and our Seattle date night...oh, please, come back! We liked it better when you were here!

FARMER'S MARKET We have missed you! It was good to see you again at the beginning of the month. We have made a fun promise to ourselves to visit you each Saturday that all 3 of us are at home (right now that is not often, sadly). And, we are going to find a fun treat to bring home with us from your tempting bounty and pair a visit to you with an outing for breakfast or lunch. The food stands at the market smell so delicious...we are excited to indulge in vegetable quesadillas next time we are there (or, of course, make another trip to Nook!

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SUMMER The pairing of David's vacation with the most outstanding February weather of sunshine, blue skies, and fifty+ degrees has made us super excited for summer! We are already mentally filling up our weekends (By the way, we are SO over the moon that we are going to have weekends together again!!! Starting in July, with the change to Radiology residency, we are promised weekends OFF for the whole academic year!) with overnight camping trips (reservations for summer campsites are nearly full by this time!), canoeing adventures, trips to the many beaches, picnics in the sun, and day trips! If you have Pacific Northwest summer recommendations, please, please share...but, all plans must include a 2 year old.

BOOKS I am so happy to be reading you again. Well, I guess I never really stopped reading you, but getting through 4 or so in a year was about my pace. I've already many since moving to Seattle...thanks, in part, to motivation from my book club. I've read The Marriage Plot (not so good, I give it a 2.5 rating out of 5), Hungry Monkey (5 out of 5), Girl with a Dragon Tattoo (4.5 out of 5), Before I Go To Sleep (4 out of 5), and Operating Instructions: A Journal of my Son's First Year (4 out of 5). And, I'm currently reading Epilogue, Parenting an Only Child, and Eater's Manifesto. Next in line...Bird by Bird, Bringing up Bebe, A Visit from the Goon Squad, Julia's Child, A Grown Up Kind of Pretty, Blood, Bones, and Butter, and the Art of Fielding. Any good book suggestions???...I would love to hear them, please share!

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HOTEL WISH LIST Hotel Endémico, located in Baja, Mexico in the wine-producing Valle de Guadalupe about one and a half hours south of San Diego, has officially been added to my "hotels that I must visit" list (don't you have a similar list???...so many cool places to visit!). It is a “luxury camping hotel” and consists of 20 bungalows, each with a private terrace adorned with a clay fireplace and an unobstructed view of the winery and vineyards below. On the property is also a pool with a view of the valley and a fine food restaurant that uses organic foods and follows the "slow food" principles. The bungalows are $200/night...wouldn't it be a fun and indulgent wine tasting getaway?! Who wants to go???