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Photo Friday: “Natural Light”

f/2.8  1/4000  iso 100

I shot this photo on Easter Sunday. You can tell that she is wearing the same dress from the egg hunt, but she didn’t want to change into anything else. Normally I don’t like to have a subject right in the middle of a photo, but I think it kinda works here. Photo Friday link up here.


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Happy New Year from Cancun!

We just returned from an amazing two week adventure – first in snowy Colorado for sledding, sleigh rides and Christmastime, followed by a five-day once-in-a-lifetime stay at a resort in Cancun! Looking back, it almost seems too good to be true, but we all lived it and I have photos, too!

Since my card-reader is acting up, all I have right now are iPhone photos from Cancun to share. Here are some of my favorites with more on Flickr. We stayed at Barcelo Maya Palace which is an all-inclusive resort on the Riviera Maya, where we met up with David’s parents, his brothers and their families.

Chloe loved getting to spend time with everyone, especially her cousin Paolo. Leo, on the other hand, wanted to pretty much stick to me like a barnacle, although he loved the water and the sand every bit as much as his sister. For New Year’s Eve, grandma and grandpa watched the kids so the three couples could enjoy a peaceful five-course dinner and then ring in the New Year right on the beach.

There were a ton of activities available on the resort for both adults and kids, and because Chloe and Leo are still so young we stayed on the resort the entire time. My hope is that we”ll come back one day when the kids are older and see the famous sites like Tulum and Xel-ha and swim in a cenote (the third photo above is a tiny cenote they had on the property).

My very favorite thing, besides the sunshine, was holding hands while snorkeling with David. My least favorite thing was dining with the kids at the buffet, since neither could sit still for very long and Leo always seemed to make a mess. The food was incredible though. I tried a little bit of everything – duck, quail, rabbit, giant crayfish, crab, lobster and so many other fish and specialty dishes. And the desserts! More choices at one time than I’ll probably every see again in my life. Truly a vacation of a lifetime!

P.S. If you happen to choose a stay at any section of the Barceló Maya resort, we found this unnofficial web site to be really helpful.

 


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Camping with the kids

This past weekend we took the kids camping at Nehalem Bay State Park. It was… challenging. Not that it wasn’t worth it… it just… took a lot of effort. There were times we had to remind ourselves that home was less than two hours away and we could leave at any time. But hey, we did it! The kids had a great time playing on the beach both days – soaking up the sun, splashing in the water, flying the kite, and generally getting sand everywhere. The hardest part was in the evening, I think. Of course the kids couldn’t get to sleep on time, were occasionally loud which I worried bothered our fellow campers, and then there were “incidences” – like when Leo jabbed himself in the eye with a fork and I feared that we’d have to rush to the hospital, or when Chloe fell face first into the fire pit, scraping her face, bloodying her nose and getting soot all over herself. And sleeping, well… we only have 3 sleeping bags, so I shared mine with Leo, which was kind of awkward, and I kept waking up all night wondering if he or Chloe was cold.

Anyways, it was a good learning experience (and exercise in patience!). Next time we are going to do what our neighbors are doing this week, and getting a yurt. 🙂
More photos can be seen here.


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Sun + Sand

We went to the beach on Sunday. I just love it there. It was sunny, but with a cold breeze, and we were glad we brought our sun shelter along. Although this wasn’t Leo’s first trip to the coast, it was the first time I took some photos of him there. Like his sister, he seems to be a big fan of the sand. Unlike his sister, he is a pacifier baby, which helped to keep him from eating it.

This was also our first trip in our new-to-us minivan. What a difference! Room for everyone, and even Barkley got a seat to himself. I hesitate to say this, but if anything good came out of the car crash, its that we got a vehicle better suited to our family (the Element we bought pre-kids). The inside still smelled a little of ozone from the extra interior detail we had done, but even that has since dissippated. The car feels as good as new. I just hope it lasts us longer than our last one.


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Bainbridge Island

Last week was full of adventures. At the beginning of the week David took a few days off and we rented a tiny beach cottage on Bainbridge Island on Puget Sound (that is Chloe above, playing right out front). We hung out, played by the water, checked out the parks and sampled a few local eateries (our picks: Treehouse Cafe, Blackbird Cafe, Pegasus Coffee House, Sawadty Thai, and not to be missed Mora’s Ice Cream. If we had a bigger budget and a baby sitter we totally would have tried Cafe Nola. Just reading their menu – bacon wrapped peaches! – made me salivate).


That chunky peach pecan muffin at Pegasus Cafe was super-yummy, and the ivy that covered the building was like out of a fairytale. There was a lively group of what looked to be local old men just chatting away. Maybe they get together and hang out there every morning.


The waterfront marina behind the cafe.


Chloe had a blast exploring this huge play structure at Battle Point Park.


Chloe and David at Fay Bainbridge State Park.


Chloe’s first ferry ride, Bainbridge Island to Seattle on the “Tacoma.”


Getting a rare photo of Leo and I while watching the islands go by from the ferry.

Later in the week we packed up again and headed to the Oregon coast for a family gathering with David’s work. They generously put us up in a plush 2-bedroom beach house just steps from the sand. At one point David took Chloe to play on the beach and, for the first time in a long while, I was able to browse the little shops in Manzanita at my own pace, with Leo sleeping peacefully on my chest in his carrier. I really enjoyed that dose of solitude. How different life is now from just a few short years ago. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

(More photos of our Bainbridge Island trip are here).


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Splish splash

Another beautiful Saturday at Cannon Beach. David and Chloe purchased her first “real” kite at the Kite Factory, and it joined the many other flying colors in the air that day. I felt so happy watching them play. I want Chloe’s (and Leo’s) childhood to be filled with days like this – full of sunshine and fresh air, and lots of joy. I want them to love the beach as much as I do. My only regret is not taking a photo of Leo. It’s his third time at the coast, but it’s always been too windy to lay him down on the sand. Instead, he spends his time sleeping on my chest in his carrier, which makes him hard to photograph. But it won’t be long before he is out enjoying the water just like his sister.


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Sand and water

A couple weekends ago we had Daddy all to ourselves. This particular day we joined him for a brief afternoon on the river, and then a few hours at Cannon beach. It had been a long time since we’d done something like this, and we had such a great time. Chloe loved playing in the water and especially the sand, despite the cold temperature.

I wish we could do this kind of thing more often, like we used to, but there are so many reasons we don’t – I’ve been so tired this pregnancy, or David has to work the weekend, or we need to take care of house-related errands or chores… And honestly, Chloe is becoming a handful. At two, she is naturally more independent and willful (and sometimes downright naughty!). There are days I can’t even bear to take her for groceries, and have put it off, if it just isn’t a good day. I wish it wasn’t that way.

I wish getting out of the house was easier… that everyday could be spent somewhere stimulating and fun. But now I’m okay if its just a few times a week, not counting her dance class or her morning at baby preschool. And when Baby Two comes along… well, I think its going to be tough for a while. David said something along the lines of wishing we could fast-forward through that first year, and though I see his point, this will be my only other baby. The last time I’ll get to experience the wonder of a newborn and all the sweetness that entails. And I want to share that with Chloe in a good way. I want them to love each other, to get along, to be friends. But I won’t be able to help them do that if I’m exhausted all the time, like I am now. So, when things just happen to work out, like it did on this special day, I am that much more grateful.


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Kalaloch


Ruby Beach

After writing that post about Bree Tanner, I thought of some photos I took of Kalaloch during our memorial weekend camping trip. What does Kalaloch have to do with the Twilight series? Nothing, except that it is just 30 minutes south of Forks, Washington. For being so close in proximity to this popular Twilight fan destination, Kalaloch was no busier than I’d expect for this area of the Olympic National Park. No surprise, but it was cloudy the entire time we visited, and no, we didn’t see any vampires. 🙂


Big Western Red Cedar. Click here to see view from inside tree.

BTW – A friend of mine wrote an interesting post about visiting Forks as a Twilight fan, including great photos. You can read it here.


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A very good start to the New Year


Overlook on hwy 101, near Manzanita, Oregon

We decided to head to the coast today. It was dark, cloudy and pouring rain, but I didn’t care. I was just glad to begin the new year in one of my favorite places.

Luckily we timed the drive during Chloe’s first nap. David and I talked along the way, sang songs, made plans. We stopped at one of the overlooks to watch the churning, pounding waves below and I tried to snap a few photos while the wind whipped my hair in all directions. Unfortunately, I wasn’t watching when I got out and lost one of my cashmere wristwarmers made by my sister-in-law. I didn’t realize this until later, of course, and was pretty bummed, but determined to not let anything ruin the day.

In Manzanita we took it easy. Shared a mocha from Manzanita News & Espresso, and poked into a few of the cute little shops, including Unfurl, my favorite eco-clothing shop. They were having a fantastic sale, including 50% off Danskos, the brand of shoe I wear 98% of the time (I’m on my third pair of black professionals, plus I have a pair in brown). I eventually walked out with a pair of black Sallys that David talked me into. Looking down at them now I’m glad he did. I’m generally too practical to waste money on cute shoes, but these are a good blend of comfort and style to suit me (at half-price!).


Showing off my new danskos

Wild elk herd near Cannon Beach, Oregon

For lunch we shared a tasty clam chowder, halibut fish & chips, and hushpuppies at the charming Manzanita Seafood & Chowderhouse. Happy and full we braved exposure on the beach to let the dog loose  in the sand and surf. Too soon it was time to head home. On the way we saw a herd of wild elk by the highway near Cannon Beach. Can you imagine? Just minding their own business, munching on grass, and stopping traffic on the highway.

And remember my lost wrist-warmer? David decided we should check the overlook on the way back to see if we could find it. And guess what? He found it! Sodden and a little worse for wear, but it was FOUND! David is really amazing like that. He doesn’t just give up, instead he puts in that extra effort that so often ends in a rewarding outcome. And that, I would say, is a very good start to the New Year!


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A visit to Chesapeake Beach, MD

A couple days ago my dad suggested we take a ride to Chesapeake Beach, a small, charming bayside town a little over an hour from Washington, DC. I hardly remember, but Dad said I had been here before to deep sea fish a long time ago.

It was a perfect day to be out. Sunny blue skies, with barely a hint of crisp October breeze. We started off walking the boardwalk and pier in North Beach. Lots of seagulls and ducks, and a few fisherman throwing there lines into the ocean. Afterward we sat in the shade in front of Sweet Sues, sharing a “To Die For” Brownie (brownie topped with chunky peanut butter and fudge frosting) and sipping coffee. We took our time browsing the gift and souvenir shops until lunchtime, when we headed a little south to Chesapeake Beach.

Someone we had met earlier suggested Abner’s Sea Side Crab House for lunch. Nothing fancy, but the perfect place for tasty deep fried crab balls, crab cakes, hush puppies, and onion rings. Several patrons were doing the all-you-can-eat fresh crab option and it was interesting to see the piles of atlantic blue crabs on their butcher paper covered tables. Later we wandered the wharf, admiring the boats before browsing the Chesapeake Beach Railway Museum. Overall, it was a lovely family outing for a lazy and peaceful autumn afternoon.

Side note: These photos were taken with the iPhone and this was my first attempt at blogging with it, too!


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Diary of a Day Trip to the Oregon Coast


A Photo of Manzanita from Hwy 101, taken last year

David and I spent the lovliest day at the coast on Saturday. This entry is an overview of our day, as both a reminder for myself and to anyone who might want to travel this same Portland/Oregon Coast loop. My only regret is that I forgot my camera (and phone), but in a way, it may have freed me up to experience the day in a way that I wouldn’t have normally. Who knows. But it sure was wonderful.

After a leisurely Saturday breakfast at home, David, Barkley and I left Portland mid-morning and headed toward my favorite, Cannon Beach. If I had pots of money, this is where I would buy a vacation home. Yes, it is super-touristy (more so every year), but it retains lots of its original small beach-town charm. We walked north through town, peeking in various shops until we reached Pizza à Fetta. We ordered two slices of pepperoni pizza and a coke and from the to-go window. (Our other favorite lunch spot is Ecola Seafoods, but neither of us felt like fresh halibut fish ‘n chips today). We ate our slices in the little courtyard, and enjoyed some entertaining people and dog watching.

After lunch we perused a few more galleries on our way to Bruce’s Candy Kitchen. We love to watch them pull fresh saltwater taffy on their old-timey machine, but we must have arrived between showings. I picked up some hard-to-find watermelon and cherry zotz, some sweet and sour Haribo fruit salad, and a nugget each of semi-sweet chocolate seafoam and haystack (my sweet tooth existed way before pregnancy). David decided on a small handful of Atomic Fireballs and his favorite fresh taffys out of the individual flavor bins.

While heading back to the car with our pink and white striped goody bag, we were surprised to find a hole-in-the wall I had never seen before called The Center of the Elephant Ear Universe. It specializes in a while-you-wait deep fried, thin & crispy pastry with your choice of toppings (similar to funnel cake – see side story). We opted to split a half classic (butter glaze with cinnamon sugar) and half dutch baby (butter, sugar and lemon). It disappeared off our plate in seconds, licking our fingers afterwards.

Side Story: one of the things I had been craving since getting pregnant was funnel cake. For some reason I have never seen them on the west coast, so I thought maybe this was one craving that wouldn’t get satisfied. However, while in picturesque Manitou Springs, Colorado, a few weeks back, Marcy noticed a place that did make them called Patsy’s. Mmmm! We even went back a few days later for a second round, no matter that it was a half hours drive away)!

Back at the car, we drove a short way down scenic hwy 101, turning into the smaller beach-side town of Manzanita. Much less crowded here, but just as sweet. David noted that he would much rather have a vacation house here, and after thinking about it I had to agree. The sun had finally come out, but it remained cool and windy. There were more kite boarders and windsurfers than I had ever seen dotting the horizon with their colorful equipment, enjoying the waves. We stopped to check out a few of the shops here and I’m glad we did. At Overboard, we found a christmas gift for our nephew (shopping early this year, due to our baby on the way) and found several goodies for ourselves at eco-conscious Unfurl. We walked out with a cool new hat for each of us, 6 postcards for the new nursery frames by one of my favorite Portland artists, Trish Grantham (love her website), and a bar of Coastal Sage soap. I was this close to also walking out with the sweetest Kate Quinn Organics Baby Kimono Bodysuit and pant set in hibiscus, but then put it back at the last minute. I don’t know how I resisted. The other shop I liked in particular was Four Paws on the Beach. It was fun to check out over-the-top dog goodies like organic frozen yogurt and ‘doggles’ (eye goggles for dogs).

Again we headed back to the car to continue down hwy 101. The little towns and scenery are really beautiful, and there were many places we could have idled away the day, but decided on Rockaway Beach for our third stop. This long stretch of sandy beach had a lot less people, perfect for playing fetch with Barkley and allowing him some wave crashing fun. It was here David found a perfect whole sand dollar, but we left it for some other lucky beachcomber to find.

Driving south again we entered the town of Tillamook (known especially for it’s famous dairy). The factory makes a fun tour for those who haven’t been their before, with a nice sampling of their cheeses. We passed through town after a brief look at some crab traps for sale, and headed partially down the Three Cape Scenic Loop Drive to the Bay Ocean Spit. From the parking area we walked along a sandy path until we came out to the ocean, basically having the whole beach to ourselves. It is hard to believe that places like this still exist, pristine and beautiful with nothing man-made on the horizon to mar its remote beauty, and still be so close to civilization. Eventually, happy and hungry we headed back into town for a hearty mexican dinner at La Mexicana, situated in a cute pink house on the way to hwy 6, our route back home. Hwy 6 follows the Wilson River, so we stopped a couple times to look for fish, and for David to try his luck before eventually making it back home by 10pm. Wow! I think I’ll be remembering today for a very long time.

Footnote: It would be easy to spend all day at any of the areas listed above, but because we’ve been to some of these places many times before, we opted to keep on going, stopping at more places. These visits could easily be broken up over a long weekend or more, with lots more to see and do than just listed here.

Here is a map starting from the Oregon Zoo and following the individual destinations listed above.


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A Beach House Weekend

View from the deck of Eagle’s Nest

Another great weekend at the beach. It just never gets old. Pretty much every trip is an adventure and this one was certainly no different. This weekend was Marcy’s birthday weekend and we spent it at a gorgeous house called Eagle’s Nest (the pictures here do not do it justice, much more Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous at least to me!) that had an incredible view of the Pacific City coastline and miles of ocean. The first night we let the dogs run on the sand and frolic in the water while we simply admired the crashing waves from the stormy weather. Then we went back to for dinner and birthday cake.

On Saturday we rented crab rings and bought crabbing licenses and bait in a town called Garibaldi. Let me just say that crab bait does not smell or look pretty – basically large fish heads frozen with string, so they can be attached to the rings. The traps are thrown off the pier and checked every 10 minutes or so. Although many found their way into our nets, none were large enough to keep, so we ended up buying live crab nearby. Meanwhile, David had struck up a conversation with another couple on the pier while the rest of us went to find lunch. I’m not sure how, but eventually it came out that they live in our neighborhood, which is pretty weird considering how far we all were from home. One thing led to another and they joined us for some late afternoon mushroom hunting and also for dinner back at the rental house of crab and freshly picked wild chanterelles. Yum!

Late afternoon on the beach, hardly a soul in sight.

Beach houses aglow from the late afternoon sun

The marina in Garabaldi, where we rented our crab rings

A desirable male, but too small to keep

Barkley on the train tracks with the pier behind him

University Falls, on the drive home from Tillamook

A little caterpillar resting near the falls

More photos of our weekend can be found here.

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