Race for the Cure 2014

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This was our second year walking with my friend’s team, Keeping the Headlights On. Our friend’s mom is a breast cancer survivor, so every year my friend and her sister rally to get friends and family together to participate in this event. Like last year, we got up early and met at my friend’s house, a little sleepy but ready to walk, not realizing what a day it would be. It’s a day of celebration for the survivors, a day for remembering lives lost, but most importantly a day for hope.

The walk itself is a fun experience because everyone dresses up, and the road is paved with high fives and cheerleaders, getting everyone excited to be there. By the time you make it to the end, happy to be there and happy to have done something to help the fight against breast cancer, you feel why you’re there.

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It’s hard not get teary eyed watching the survivors hugging family after the race, grateful to be there and fight another day. It’s hard not to notice a young girl sobbing as she wears a t-shirt that says, “we’ll miss you, Grandma Vi”. And it’s extremely hard to see a friend in tears over the recent passing of a family friend. Her daughter was there walking (a breast cancer survivor herself) on Sunday, even though she had just lost her mother on Tuesday. There was a moment yesterday when I looked around and felt so privileged to be there, as if I were on the outside, looking in. I felt humbled.

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The Seattle Seahawks drum line, Blue Thunder, was even there to lead the survivors to center stage, to be cheered on and celebrated.

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The pain and sadness are awful, of course, but if you can see past that, you see that the hope is inspiring. I’m not an expert in advocacy for the fight against breast cancer, I’m not an advocate for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, but I am an advocate for people helping people. Do something small, do something big, but do something. Your heart will thank you.

xo

 

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Glacier View Camping Excursion

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We went to Glacier View campground on Lake Wenatchee, about two hours east of Seattle, for Memorial Day weekend (and for my annual birthday trip). We have been to this campground before and really enjoyed it so we decided to pay it another visit, but this time we brought a lot more friends, eighteen friends to be exact. The sites are first come first serve, so you have to get there early enough to beat the long weekend rush. Luckily my husband and some of our other friends, who went up a day early, were able to snag three neighboring campsites on Thursday afternoon. Upon arrival, everything was set up, so I grabbed a beer and immediately immersed myself into camp life, turning off my phone and no longer worrying about the time. The views were spectacular from our site, so I found a little patch of sun on a log and took it all in. It was a fantastic weekend full of laughs, beauty and friends.

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Some of my favorite things…shenanigans, friends, and a cold beer.

Since we are fairly seasoned campers, I thought I’d share a little about the food, especially since we tried some new things that worked out great.

BREAKFAST // Eggs two ways, yes please.

Breakfast Burritos: You can make these ahead of time for the easiest, most delicious breakfast ever. (The genius behind these, Mel, used 6 eggs and it made 7 burritos.) Prepare the corn salsa; chop red onion, finely chop the cilantro, and mix in corn. Thaw and drain some frozen peppers, and be sure to get all of the moisture out using paper towels. She used about 1/2 the bag of frozen peppers. Shred 1 1/2 cups of pepper jack cheese. Barely scramble the eggs and season them to your liking. The eggs should be clumping together but still a little gooey. Combine the eggs, cheese, peppers, corn salsa, and some more fresh cilantro. For the carnivores in your group, you can add chicken sausage, or whatever meat that might strike their fancy. Now would also be a good time to add some hot sauce. Once you have everything you want, divide it up into the tortillas and roll them up. Wrap them in foil and store them in freezer bags until they are ready to make. You just need to throw them on to a camping stove, a grill, or the campfire. We made ours on a camping stove and it took about 15 minutes. I accidentally left one on for much longer, more like 30 minutes, and it was just fine. The tortilla was just a little crispier.

Breakfast Sandwiches: This is a tradition for our group, and they are a great way to start your day. You’ll need a pack of English muffins, eggs, cheese, and deli meat for the meat lovers. On the camping stove, make an to your liking. I always try teeter between over medium and over hard. While that’s cooking (and it’ll take a while on a camping stove, about 10-15 minutes), slice an English muffin in half and toast the inside first, just for a couple minutes, directly on the grill. Flip the English muffin over and  add some cheese so that can begin to melt. Put some of the deli meat directly on to the grill and allow it to get some grill marks. Once the deli meat is done, gently fold it over the top of the melted cheese. By now, your egg should be done, so add it to the sandwich, and there you have it a hearty breakfast for a day of hiking.

HOBO PACKETS // Pure genius, worth the prep time.

Thai Coconut Shrimp with Peppers : Mel used Thai noodle soup packets as a base (4 packets).  Genius! First, slice and saute 1 package of button mushrooms. Next, clean and de-vein your raw shrimp. Soak the noodles from the soup packets in hot water for 2 minutes and then drain. While those are soaking, chop some cilantro. You’ll need a can of coconut milk, and 1 can will be enough for 4 hobo packets. Shake well and stir it if needed. Lay out a sheet of foil and begin layering in items: noodles, spread them out a bit, a drizzle of coconut milk, a small amount of the seasoning packet, mushrooms, peppers (use the other 1/2 bag from the breakfast burritos!), cilantro, shrimp. For the shrimp be sure to only do a single layer so that they don’t overlap. Drizzle the shrimp with the oil packet from the soup mix, and add more of the seasoning packet. You’ll only need about half the packet. Bringing the long sides of the foil together, fold it over a few times, making it fairly flat. Then roll up the sides so everything is well contained.

Lemon Pepper Asparagus & Mushrooms:  I made this one up because I had the ingredients on hand. Using about a 1 1/2lbs of asparagus, 1/2 white onion, a container of mushrooms, and a cup of brown rice, will make four packets. (You can add chicken sausage for the carnivores in your group.) I cooked the brown rice, let it cool, then placed it in the center of the packet. I chopped the veggies, mixed them together in a large bowl, and then added them to the packet around the rice. For the seasoning, I added about 1 tbsp of butter (place it in the center, right on top of the rice), a generous helping of lemon pepper and a dash of sea salt. Bringing the long sides of the foil together, fold it over a few times, making it fairly flat. Then roll up the sides so everything is well contained.

With that said, how about some fun photos from the trip?

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Mia, my little model.

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Another beautiful view from our campsite.

 

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Hidden Lake

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Meet Stihl and Bentley. They were enjoying the views too.

I know that camping isn’t for everyone, but there is something really amazing about it. We spent 5 days entertaining ourselves with conversation, playing games, hiking, and sitting around the campfire. How many people can say they do that nowadays? If you’ve never tried it, maybe give it a chance.

xo

Ice Cave Hike

DSCF2153Here we go again, I have another snowy hike to share with you! A few weeks ago we went to the Big Four Ice Caves, and we brought sleds and friends, which equals a perfect day. Because it was an easier hike, we got a bit more interest from friends, and knew that we wouldn’t be dead tired afterward, so we made a whole day of it. We loaded up our vehicles with sleds and gear, and caravanned all the way there. When embarking on a car ride over an hour long, one must be sure to bring the proper provisions, ie coffee, water, snacks and walkie talkies. Walkie talkies, brilliant.

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Upon arrival, we suited up and began the trek. Mia led the way!
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There were beautiful mountain views everywhere you turned. Looking back on these photos, it’s pretty amazing that we lucked out on the weather. Not only was it dry, but the blue skies were just gorgeous.

DSCF2158This photo was taken from a good distance, and the size of the ice caves is so deceiving.

DSCF2171I love this shot because it shows off the icicles and the texture of the interior walls of the cave. It may be cheesy but nature is very, very cool.

DSCF2168Of our group, no one was brave enough to go into the caves, but you can see in this photo that people were venturing pretty deep into the caves. (Click on this photo to enlarge it and see how far inside the others went.) You could hear water dripping into the caves periodically, and that was enough to make me nervous and keep me well outside.

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After taking in views, it was time for some sledding.

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And, time to get a cute shot of Mia wearing her backpack in front of the caves.

DSCF2259And top off the day with a group photo.

After our fun day, we were ready for some hot food and a drink or two, so we stopped off at LJ’s Bistro & Bar on the way back. We enjoyed happy hour, a cozy atmosphere, and some laughs.

Have I convinced you to go hiking in the winter time yet?

xo

Lake Serene: Snowy Edition

DSCF2028A couple weeks ago we went on a little adventure to Lake Serene (learn more here). Given the time of year, we were able to enjoy quite the winter wonderland. Lake Serene is not for the faint of heart, with a 2000 ft elevation climb in only 3.6 miles, and it features endless switchbacks and stairs. The hike is an out and back, so in total it is 7.2 miles.

The start of the hike is this incredible mossy, green, rich forest, and it’s calm and flat–the complete opposite of the next 2 miles. Everywhere you look, moss is strewn from branch to branch, and moss blankets the fallen trees.

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DSCF1964Out with the green, in with the stairs and snow!
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This photo was taken back in September of 2009 when we first visited Lake Serene. It’s amazing to see what it looks like without the snow, and you get this gorgeous mountain reflection on the water.
STP80078 This is a similar point of view as above, but it is just a sea of white.
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And, I just have to share an adorable pic of our little Mia girl, taking a much deserved break on the hike.

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We may be deep into winter here in the PNW, but the great outdoors are not off limits. Get outside and enjoy it!

xo

Life in Photos: Pike Place Market

We always have to visit Pike Place Market when we have visitors because it is such a colorful, lively stop on the Seattle tourist circuit. It never disappoints and always inspires.

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We had such a fun day at the market, but we regretted going there on full tummies. Rookie mistake! The food options are endless and so delicious, so we may, or may not have gone back before taking our family to the airport, just so we could eat. No more sightseeing. No more photos. JUST.EATING. My favorite food stops include Pike Place Chowder (the Seafood Bisque is heavenly), Le Panier (the pastries are divine), Beecher’s Handmade Cheese (life changing mac and cheese), and of course, the original Starbucks is a must see.

Do you have a favorite spot in Pike Place Market?

Happy Monday!
xo

O Christmas Tree

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We had a full house this past weekend, and it really made it feel like the holidays, but we were missing an integral part of the Christmas experience…the tree. We saved the tree shopping for this family filled weekend, so our nephew could be a part of the fun adventure. We headed out to Farmer Brown’s Christmas Tree Farm to go choose a tree and then cut it down ourselves (and by ourselves I mean, my hubby, clearly).

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The hunt…

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The scenery…

The day was cold and soggy, like most days in the PNW in December, but we were excited and ready to find a tree. We loaded up the minivan with family, our truck with more family (told you we had a full house), and then met up with a friend and his adorable kids so we could caravan out to the tree farm. The tree farm was a good 45 minute drive, but it was really fun to point out all the horses to my nephew along the way and enjoy the scenery. Upon arrival, you are told where to park, which trees are available, the pricing, and then you are offered a saw, if needed. We showed up equipped and ready to cut down a tree, so we parked, put on our gloves and beanies, and then set out to find the “perfect” tree. There were plenty of shenanigans and photo taking along the way and we found a lovely tree, not perfect because that’s not how we roll, but beautiful nonetheless. We ended the day with some hot cocoa, hot cider, and kettle corn, while enjoying the Christmas carols and watching the kids play. We enjoyed a great adventure and it was made even better because we had our family here to share it.

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Big moment…tiiiiiimberrrrr!

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So happy!

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I love Christmas tree shopping.

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My SIL made this cute collage, complete with a road trip pic and a hot cider pic.

Do you have a Christmas tree tradition?

Happy Tuesday!
xo

Cookie Day Success!

On Thursday night, I made one more batch of cookie dough, this time, oatmeal m&m cookies. Oatmeal and chocolate is a delicious combination, and the Christmas m&ms make them look so festive.

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On Friday night, I decided to make some chocolate bark to take for the cookie exchange, and I’m definitely making more. IT’S.SO.EASY. I found the recipe on Pinterest here. I think my favorite part of the chocolate bark is being able to customize it. I used dried pomegranates and walnuts, peanut butter chips, and coconut with caramel sauce. Yum! Sorry, I totally dropped on the ball on the chocolate bark photos, so you’ll just have to believe me when I say that it is easy, it looks great, and it tastes delicious.

Okay, on to cookie day! It was a fabulous day. Saturday morning was cold and frosty but the sun was shining, and our friend’s home was being adorned with Christmas lights as we baked. Does it get any better? We laughed, baked, ate, drank, and walked away with a TON of cookies. We had the best variety, and I can’t wait to put my cookie platters together to share with everyone.

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This was an Instagram pic taken by cookie day alum, Jamie.

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Bubbly for baking // Pic courtesy of Jamie

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Oatmeal m&m & Lemon Pecan Shortbread // Pic courtesy of Jamie

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Gorgeous sugar cookies // Pic courtesy of Jamie

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Lights & sparkle // Pic courtesy of Jamie

I whole heartedly recommend that you and your girls plan a cookie day. There’s still time! These would make a fabulous addition to any Christmas spread, they would make great, affordable gifts, or maybe…just let this marinate for a moment…they could be perfect to enjoy with a giant mug of hot cocoa in front of the fireplace for you and your loved ones.

This is an inexpensive way to spend quality time with the bakers in your life. A little planning goes a long way, so prepare your dough ahead of time, make sure you have cooling racks set up, and be sure to have plenty of cookie sheets and a roll of parchment paper on hand. Most importantly, take the time to bake at least 1 batch of sugar cookies ahead of time, and then put out some fun Christmas themed sprinkles, frosting, etc so you can decorate the sugar cookies and chat over some champagne. That’s the best.

Have a great night!
xo