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#write31days ~ day 6: camping with young children

calaveras big trees camping

I’m no pro at this camping game, but I can say, without a doubt, taking the girls outdoors overnight several times this summer has been an excellent decision. The family/friend camaraderie is bar none when one is able to wile away the hours in the wild.

calaveras big trees camping
{photo by Jan}

We eased in with our first trip in July, staying just one night with some close friends at a state park we had been to before. I am glad that we only committed to one night this first time because it was relaxing to know that if things didn’t work out, we’d only be missing out on one night’s sleep.

calaveras big trees camping

calaveras big trees camping

calaveras big trees camping
{photo by Jan}

Shortly after our camping trip to the coast, we began looking at other possibilities for a second trip this summer. We chose a spot none of us had been to, and invited Steve’s parents to come along for the fun. Our spot was the Calaveras Big Trees, not too far from Yosemite. This state park was a little closer to home than the last, allowing for more play and less driving.

calaveras big trees camping

calaveras big trees camping

A few days before we left, we decided to extend our stay an extra night. We were only inconvenienced by having to move sites the second night {and the first was our favorite, boo}.

camping

calaveras big trees camping

calaveras big trees camping

Evelyn continued her tradition of searching for “mysterious creatures” in the woods with her little headlamp. She also brought along her camera again this time and was capturing snapshots of all the things of interest–moss, bark on trees, a camp chair, the dirt on her sister….

calaveras big trees camping

calaveras big trees camping

calaveras big trees camping
{photo by Jan}

calaveras big trees camping

Lucie got dirtier than anyone I’ve ever seen, announcing at the end of every meal, “I’m done. I go play in the dirt!” It’s a little hard to keep her out when it is¬†everywhere. She took advantage of mama allowing this unbridled freedom by spending every possible minute in it.

calaveras big trees camping

calaveras big trees camping

calaveras big trees camping {photo by Jan}
calaveras big trees camping {photo by Jan}

The BIG trees were truly spectacular. They soared to the sky–there was certainly some neck craning to catch a glimpse of the top. In one spot, we were able to stand on top of the stump of one that had been cut down. It was big enough to host a party on!

calaveras big trees camping

calaveras big trees camping

calaveras big trees camping {photo by Jan}

We went on a little hike through the woods, and had planned on coming back the next day to the series of trails for another, but never made it. There are many trails to explore at this park, for various levels of experience.

calaveras big trees camping

calaveras big trees camping

calaveras big trees camping
{photo by Jan}

There was so much for the girls to be involved in, including food prep, dish washing, journaling, tree identification, and, of course, plain, ol’ playing in the dirt, which I demonstrated as Lucie’s greatest strength when it comes to camping. ūüôā

We actually got the girls to sleep for a nap {despite the neighbors practicing a hip-hop dance to some loud beats–who does that in forest?}. They needed that rest to make it through the evening with s’mores on the horizon.

calaveras big trees camping

calaveras big trees camping
{photo by Stephen}

My favorite part of the trip was witnessing the girls with their hot chocolate and mugs of oatmeal first thing in the morning. It seemed quintessential camping and they looked so cozy bundled up in their warm gear. That and s’mores roasting. They took to the camping traditions like fish to water.

If you’re on the fence about taking the leap with your family, I’d say, Go for it! At least one night. It’s an excellent adventure that’s great to have in the family memory bank.

Springtime Snow at Serene Lakes

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

We’ve been going, going, going around here lately, so when we found ourselves with an empty weekend, we seized the opportunity and ran up to the cabin for a quiet weekend on the lake. This time of year is more of an off-season so it was quite ‘serene’ save a few year-round locals.

We took a long walk around the lake with the girls who impressed us with their endurance, making it at least three-quarters of the way {about 2 miles} around before asking for assistance.

The snow was still abundant so Evelyn was happy to begin her notorious snowball fights with us. Lucie especially enjoyed finding streams of snow melt to throw rocks and pinecones into. There was ample opportunity so lots of stop-and-go as we went along.

We found many groupings of daffodils just beginning to bloom, which was rather funny to us as they bloomed in our area about mid-February. But, there, they are just now having the opportunity to peek through the ground as the snow melts away.

Large sections of the lake have melted, which Evey was rather disappointed about as she wanted to ‘skate’ across again. I’m rather looking forward to the summer season, to taking boats and paddle boards out, splashing on the shore with the girls. It’ll be here soon enough.

Victoria Highlights

Victoria, BC parliament building spring

Finally, the last of our Northwest trip!

The few days we spent in Victoria, BC were absolutely glorious. Despite it being mid-February, it already looked and felt like springtime.

spring blossoms in Victoria, BC

One afternoon, we slipped into the Parliament buildings for a self-guided tour while Lucie took her nap. Pristine hallways and beautiful architecture abounded.

Victoria, BC parliament building

Victoria, BC parliament building

Victoria, BC parliament building

Victoria, BC parliament building

Our budding photographer was clicking away too!

photographer in parliament Victoria, BC

Victoria, BC parliament building

Victoria, BC parliament building

Loved this classic lock that sealed the chambers when not in session!

Victoria, BC parliament building

Victoria, BC parliament building

The building was beautifully lit at night which made for a gorgeous backdrop as we walked along the waterway.

Victoria at night

DSC00691

Victoria at night

Victoria at night

Victoria at night

Double decker buses are being decommissioned in London, so Victoria snatched one up for sightseeing tours.

double decker bus

Our usual requisite bookstore browsing happened at Munro’s Books. There was at least one daily stop.

Munro's bookstore, Victoria, BC

The girls enjoyed peeking out the window at the harbor from our hotel window. We stayed at the Inn at Laurel Point.

girls playing in hotel

resting with my girls

Our final day in town, we had a few hours to kill before our ferry returned to Seattle. The girls enjoyed a romp on the lawn behind the hotel.

Victoria, BC play

Victoria, BC play

Victoria, BC play

Victoria, BC play

Victoria, BC play

Victoria, BC play

The ferry from Seattle to Victoria, and vice versa, were an excellent way to travel back and forth between Canada and the United States. By land and sea, all that is required is a Passport Card, so the girls travelled with those. It takes about 3 hours each way. Meals and snacks are served onboard, and the motion inside the cabin is very minimum, even with heavy wake. Nobody had a problem with seasickness!

 

riding on the ferry to Victoria

panorama from the ferry

ferry ride to Victoria

We were sad to leave Victoria but are planning on a return visit someday!

ferry back to Seattle from Victoria

plane landing on water

Victoria, BC ~ Great Eats!

Canadian flag flying

The second half of our trip to the Northeast found us in Victoria, British Columbia. Despite it being the middle of February, we had much sun and gorgeous weather for walking around town.

This post will cover our food stops {for there were many!} and in another post I’ll talk about other highlights of the trip.

Red Fish, Blue Fish menu

Friends of ours who had spent their honeymoon in town told us about this little hidden gem called Red Fish, Blue Fish…that was well enough hidden that we missed it our first time walking past! It is located on a dock below street level with a bank of seats that look out over the harbor. Maybe THE best fish and chips I’ve ever had — definitely top of the list!

fish and chips / Red Fish, Blue Fish

eating at Red Fish, Blue Fish

Victoria, BC harbor

Many little water taxis going to-and-fro!

water taxi, Victoria, BC

Murchie’s was another glorious find. We stopped by at least once a day for a sip of tea and treat. Evey and I also chose pretty cups in their gift shop to bring home as souvenirs.

eating at Murchie's

Breakfast was a hit with Stephen.

breakfast at Murchie's

And¬†it’s never too early for tiramisu!

breakfast at Murchie's

Trying to take photos with her toy car…like mother, like daughter.

tea at Murchie's

Stephen saw an advertisement for this when we were waiting for the ferry in Seattle and insisted we search out Bartholomew’s where these bad boys are served.

drink at Bartholomew's

We were due for tea in the afternoon so we enjoyed the ploughman’s platter to stock up on extra protein before the carb overload.

ploughman's lunch at Bartholomew's

eating at Bartholomew's

Tea time at the Empress Hotel. It was such a delightful treat. Despite the hotel being under construction and the usual dining place unavailable, we enjoyed our time sitting in the rotunda sipping their legacy blend and savoring our tea time treats.

tea at the Empress

A refreshing start.

tea at the Empress

TEA rex joined us for the occasion.

tea at the Empress

The Princess Tea for the girls.

tea at the Empress

tea at the Empress

The full afternoon tea complete with a bit of bubbly.

tea at the Empress

And a special order of cheeses, bread, and honey from the chef’s¬†garden.

tea at the Empress

tea at the Empress

tea at the Empress

tea at the Empress

Be sure to blow on your tea before you take a sip to cool it off!

tea at the Empress

The chocolate everything was her favorite. ūüôā

tea at the Empress

Our final morning in the city found us at Jam Cafe. A local hotspot–not in the touristy part of town–this place was packed before it opened. {Notice the line around the block still there as we were leaving.}

Jam Cafe, Victoria, BC

It was worth the hour wait for these pulled pork pancakes.

pulled pork pancakes at Jam Cafe, Victoria, BC

Hoping to go back some day for a re-run of all these fantastic places, as well as stopping by some we had to pass up this trip!

Bouquets to Art & Afternoon Tea

Bouquets to Art - De Young 2016

This past weekend I went with my mother and a friend to visit the annual Bouquets to Art exhibit held in April at the De Young Museum in San Francisco. {We’ve been trying to make it for quite a few years now and we were finally successful!}

The way the exhibit works is that floral designers in the area are each assigned a piece of art from the permanent collection to imitate/convey in their own way through a floral arrangement.

{We were there on the second to last day so many of the arrangements were looking a little less than perky.}

Some of the pieces were rather loose interpretations. Some classic. Some downright silly.

Bouquets to Art - De Young 2016

Bouquets to Art - De Young 2016

Bouquets to Art - De Young 2016

Bouquets to Art - De Young 2016

Bouquets to Art - De Young 2016

Bouquets to Art - De Young 2016

Bouquets to Art - De Young 2016

Bouquets to Art - De Young 2016

Bouquets to Art - De Young 2016

Bouquets to Art - De Young 2016

Bouquets to Art - De Young 2016

Bouquets to Art - De Young 2016

Bouquets to Art - De Young 2016

Bouquets to Art - De Young 2016

Bouquets to Art - De Young 2016

Bouquets to Art - De Young 2016

We finished off the day with an afternoon tea at the elegant Palace Hotel. Although meager, the treats were exquisite and perfectly presented. And you can’t beat the ambiance of this beautiful hotel.

tea at the Palace Hotel, San Francisco

tea at the Palace Hotel, San Francisco

tea at the Palace Hotel, San Francisco

tea at the Palace Hotel, San Francisco

tea at the Palace Hotel, San Francisco

tea at the Palace Hotel, San Francisco

tea at the Palace Hotel, San Francisco

tea at the Palace Hotel, San Francisco

tea at the Palace Hotel, San Francisco

tea at the Palace Hotel, San Francisco

tea at the Palace Hotel, San Francisco

tea at the Palace Hotel, San Francisco

tea at the Palace Hotel, San Francisco

tea at the Palace Hotel, San Francisco

tea at the Palace Hotel, San Francisco

 

 

Linking up with my first {pretty, funny, happy, real} over at Like Mother, Like Daughter!

Seattle : Delancey

We are closing in on 10 years since my blogging days began. When I first began writing, it was about food. I love to share recipes I developed in my kitchen, but more importantly to share my thoughts on gathering around the table and the influence of food in our every day lives.

Before I began putting words on a screen, there were a handful of others who lit the fire in me to share. Their own words crafted with the greatest care, their images taking me back to good times spent with my loved ones at meals,¬†their recipes inspiring me to drop whatever I was doing the time and get myself to the kitchen. One such writer is Molly Wizenberg. She writes {still, although infrequently} at Orangette. {Lo and behold,¬†I just discovered that she has finally upgraded to a .net address on her website. You know you’ve encountered a good writer when she can hold out with a .blogspot for so long.}

pizza at Delancey

Molly is also the author of two books — A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table and Delancey: A Man, A Woman, A Restaurant, A Marriage. The first regales with¬†many stories of her childhood, some of the best related to her father whom she adored. It has a lovely collection of recipes to boot. The second tells the story of her and her husband’s first restaurant, Delancey, and how they navigated it’s birth through the first years of their marriage together.

I mentioned this book in an earlier post I wrote back in October.¬†At the time, we were already preparing for our trip to Seattle in early Spring. I had read of Delancey at Molly’s blog, but hadn’t yet gone through the full story of how it came to be. It was great preparation for a visit to the restaurant, which we made a few days into our trip.

Delancey, Seattle

In a quiet corner of Ballard, tucked in a mostly residential area, it gave off the vibe of your local, neighborhood pizzeria at the start. This is not a place you come unless you know about it. We arrived within a half hour of opening, but all the tables had already been claimed. Immediately adjacent is a little bar the couple also started called Essex. We headed there to wait it out.

Seattle is pretty strict about keeping your babies out of bars, so, since the littles were with us, we sat in a small, cordoned off area in order to abide by the letter of the law.

at the kids' bar, Essex

baby in a bar, Essex

Steve and I enjoyed a couple of handcrafted cocktails from their seasonal, rotating menu. We hungrily munched on a bowl of green olives, which even the girls adored {although Lucie lost it all munching too fast down the back of Steve’s sweater}.

handcrafted cocktail Essex

Essex bar

Essex, Seattle

The host from next-door came to retrieve us when a table was ready about an hour later. We savored a well-composed seasonal and locally-sourced salad to quell our rumbling tummies while our pizza was tossed and cooked in the adjacent room.

Delancey menu

my little photographer at Delancey

I took Evey over to watch as the pizza man deftly maneuvered pizzas in and out through a small slit in the wall that housed the wood-fired pizza oven. She was mesmerized.

pizza bar, Delancey

pizza oven, Delancey

We took note of our nearby table mates: a dad, a mom and their preadolescent son that had come by scooter to dinner and were chatting about a variety of things, sharing their interests with one another; a couple, in their twenties, sat opposite talking philosophy and literature.  It was notable to us the intellectual, stimulating conversation we were hearing, rather than the usual banter of the latest celebrity gossip or crude jokes.

I dare to say the atmosphere played a role in the clientele it attracted.¬†Everything about the place was simple, yet sophisticated. Molly and her husband do a superb job of striking the best balance of indulging in the¬†best one could offer while not going overboard with the accoutrements.¬†To us, they exemplified the Seattle vibe and food scene we’ve heard so often about.

I hope we have another chance to return to these two gems, and maybe even their newest creation–Dino’s Tomato Pie–which opened in the Capitol Hill area a few weeks after we left. These two have got a good thing going.¬†Don’t miss them if you ever find yourself in Seattle.

Seattle : Part Two

I had a bit of a deja vu experience. As we wandered through the Dale Chihuly Museum, I could have predicted what would be in the following room. This was not the cause of some strange dream–I HAD actually seen the exhibit before, although I had never been to Seattle.

It made an appearance in¬†San Francisco at the De Young in 2008. I’m guessing they were renovating {or maybe preparing?} for the exhibit in Seattle…because it was exactly as I remembered it.
blue chihuly

Chihuly sea turtles

Our little photographer was mucho impressed too. Snapping shots from her stroller.

my young photographer chihuly

Chihuly boat, Seattle

Chihuly boat, Seattle

Chihuly chandelier, Seattle

family under Chihuly chandelier, Seattle

The open hallway was a big hit with the girls as it gave them an opportunity to roam and ramble without knocking into anything that was fragile. The entire exhibit was suspended from the ceiling. Good call, Chihuly.

photographing from the stroller

children and Chihuly

toddler Chihuly appreciation

Chihuly and Space Needle

Then, on to the Space Needle next door.

Space Needle exploration

Space Needle exploration

Space Needle exploration

Not….quite….tall….enough.

DSC00611

flying skirts at the Space Needle

Windy skirts for a flying high good time.

top of the Space Needle

This was Lucie saying “Mom, stop taking pictures and hold me. NOW!”

Seattle skyline

Seattle skyline

Seattle skyline

It was a glorious, beautiful day to be up there, albeit, windy. Although, I have a feeling that is a perpetual problem.

Oddfellows treats

tea time at Oddfellows

I won’t tell you how many book shops we visited while traveling because it might be a bit embarrassing, but the Elliott Bay Book Company was a definite hit. In addition to their great selection of books and a fantastic kids’ section that included a playhouse, this little cafe nestled next door called Oddfellows¬†couldn’t have enchanted us more. Stephen and I both sipped on our own pot of tea and ordered a¬†lemon pound cake loaf drenched in grapefruit glaze that disappeared before I sat down to have a bite. I don’t think Stephen got a bite of it either, so we ordered a second and put up a force field around it to keep it from the girls’ grasps.

DSC00629

The next day we found ourselves at the brick-and-mortar Amazon bookstore near University of Washington’s campus while aimlessly driving through¬†the streets in the northern part of Seattle.

brick-and-mortar Amazon store, Seattle

Their display was really pleasing to a bookworm. I know they say you can’t judge a book by it’s cover, but there sure is something to being able to see the cover, full title, and author that draws you to pick it up and glance inside more readily. The entire store was set up in this manner. I left with a large stack, as did Stephen in his own meanderings.

Newcastle Beach Park, Bellevue

I went in search of a park to take the girls to one morning, and discovered one with a playground immediately adjacent to the water. It could’t have been more perfect–an amazing view and a playground that entertained for hours.

Newcastle Beach Park, Bellevue

Newcastle Beach Park, Bellevue

Newcastle Beach Park, Bellevue

Newcastle Beach Park, Bellevue

Newcastle Beach Park, Bellevue

Newcastle Beach Park, Bellevue

Newcastle Beach Park, Bellevue

We wandered down to the dock for a bit to take a peek at the water. Cerulean.

Newcastle Beach Park, Bellevue

Newcastle Beach Park, Bellevue

Newcastle Beach Park, Bellevue

Newcastle Beach Park, Bellevue

Newcastle Beach Park, Bellevue, WA

Another morning, a quick jaunt to the Tacoma Art Museum. I was a tad unimpressed by the large fee for a such a small museum, but they had a few pieces which made it worth while.

Tacoma Art Museum

She insisted on having her picture taken by this map. Unsure why….

Tacoma Art Museum

A few of my favorites.

Tacoma Art Museum

Tacoma Art Museum

Up next: a Ballard restaurant, long time coming….and Victoria!

Seattle : Part One

It’s been almost a month since we returned, but our trip to Seattle still lives strong in our memories. This is actually one of the shorter plane rides we’ve taken with the girls, and after you’ve conquered the cross-country trek, an hour and a half seems feeding candy to a baby. {Which is always a good idea to have stashed with you for bribery purposes.}

stowaway

This one would rather travel stealth-style than in a seat, but we didn’t think TSA would approve.

tuckered out from travel

An early and full morning of travel, this one couldn’t keep her eyes open once we landed at the hotel. She hasn’t slept in my arms in ages and I found it quite endearing to have her cuddle up for a shut eye once again.

We stayed at the Cedarbrook Lodge, as recommended by a some others who had travelled through the area. For an airport hotel, it was absolute oasis. Located in a residential area, surrounded by wetlands, it was like stepping into the woods from a busy city sidewalk. The rooms, amenities, beds, included breakfast {smoked salmon, anyone?}, shared living rooms {chocolate available day and night!} truly made it feel like a home away from home. In fact, I kept becoming nostalgic as I walked the halls as it reminded me of my dorm in college {in a good way} and returning late at night after a deep conversation with friends.

Cedarbrook room

Lucie was particularly in love with the floor-to-ceiling windows so she could look out and pretend she was outside even when she wasn’t.

lured by the outdoors

Our first evening in town found us in the Ballard area where we searched out a French restaurant we had a read about called Bastille. It was just so good, we ate dinner there twice in five days. Of note: the Happy Hour drink specials, the kids’ mac and cheese, Croque Monsieur, and lamb burger {Steve said it was the best he’s had yet and that is HIGH praises, let me tell you!}. We loved sitting on their little patio, keeping our wiggles away from the rest of the patrons without a second thought of disturbance. Good for everyone.

Bastille's Seattle

Lucie at dinner

coloring at the table

Evey at dinner

at Bastille in Ballard

Sunday morning found us at St. James Cathedral for Mass. It was packed wall-to-wall and we could see why once we heard the astonishing choir sing.

altar at St James cathedral

cupola of St James cathedral, Seattle

icon of Transfiguration at St. James

St Joseph at St James cathedral, Seattle

St James cathedral facade, Seattle

We even took a few moments to step through the Holy Doors — our first in this Jubilee Year!

Holy Doors at St James cathedral, Seattle

St James Cathedral holy doors

And, of course, no trip to Seattle would be complete without a stop at Pike’s Place Market. Most especially for this foodie who could not get enough in such a short span of time. It was the one day that it was truly raining and we pulled out the plastic tarp for the stroller I bought particularly for such an occasion. It was funny to me how many people stopped us to admire the cover, particularly because I would think Seattleites would be the first to own such things seeing as they receive inches upon inches of¬†rain throughout the year. But, alas, perhaps word has not gotten to them just yet of these marvelous contraptions. {Aaaand I don’t have a photo. I’m sorry.}

Pike's Place Market, Seattle

Pikes Place Market

flowers at Pikes Place Market

I’m not a huge donut lover {unlike the rest of my family}, but good things come in small packages just like these tasty morsels. I could have eaten the entire half dozen myself.

tiny donut

yum donut

We stopped at the original Starbucks, but photographic evidence is lacking. {It was rather hard to snap photos while juggling to grumpy littles who were hangry and in need of a nap in the wind and rain.}

Farmers' Market - Pike's Place, Seattle

More to come soon…..

 

#write31days ~ Day 13: Sacramento Landmarks

capitol-bridge-sacramento

sacramento-state-capitol

Two of my favorite Sacramento landmarks: the Tower Bridge and the State Capitol Building. California seems to have an appreciation for brightly painted bridges {like the Golden Gate in SF}. Being the capital of the state, we couldn’t disappoint. ūüėČ The Capitol building is a great imitation of the one in D.C., so many films are done in front of this one instead to cut down on production costs. It does have a rather grand feel to it.

The sky produced an amazing backdrop for photographing them the other day so I jumped at the chance. Sometimes we become so accustomed to the regular sites of our hometown that we neglect to see their splendor. Pause a moment today to appreciate some of the beautiful architecture of your town!

Fun with Cousins ~ 7QT

About a month ago, we spent the weekend hanging out with Steve’s sister, Nancy, brother-in-law, Elliot, and their boys, Danny and Ben. The boys are just a few months older than both the girls. It’s a lot of fun when we get together! We had a grand time exploring the East Bay area where they live. Here are seven things the cousins enjoyed doing together:

One) Riding the steam train at Tilden Park

train-at-tilden-park

train-at-tilden-park

mama-and-lucie

train-at-tilden-park

train-at-tilden-park

train-at-tilden-park

train-at-tilden-park

Two) Going round and round on the carousel at the park–several times!

carousel-at-tilden

 

carousel-at-tilden

carousel-at-tilden

carousel-at-tilden

 

carousel-at-tilden

carousel-at-tilden

Three) Eating pink popcorn

pink-popcorn

pink-popcorn

pink-popcorn

Four) Picnicking in the park on Jewish deli sandwiches complete with fresh pickles

jewish-deli-dip

Five) Ice cream sundaes at Fentons

ice-cream-at-fentons

ice-cream-at-fentons

 

Six) Petting cars that look like zebras

zebra-truck

Seven) Park play {well, that was only with daddy and mommy but it would have been twice as fun with cousins!}

swinging-with-daddy

seahorse-ride

sand-play-shadows

 

 

Linking up with Kelly for 7QT this week!

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