Sunday, February 12, 2017

A Cadbury Coop & Koi Pond

Hi. What I'm about to show you isn't all pretty...you were warned.

Project Backyard 2017

It's been almost three years since we moved in and Justin built this cute little coop for our chickens. We've had a lot of home projects since then, such as remodeling our main bathroom, but we've set our sights on a new project for 2017. And that would be: making our backyard less...dumpy.

Project Backyard 2017

Seriously, friends, it needs some TLC, our backyard does. In every way. And we have plans and dreams. Or at least, my husband does. Back by our cherry tree, he wants to do a pond this spring. A POND. Which he's done before, actually. Just not for us.

And he wants KOI. For the POND. I'm a little...I don't know...whelmed at the thought of all this. But at least we agree on this: the coop, raised garden beds, and new sod are all a priority over a pond at the moment.

Project Backyard 2017

So Sander, my husband, placed a big order to be delivered with Home Depot this weekend. And it was really upsetting because they were supposed to deliver at 11 a.m. yesterday, and instead they showed up--after a lot of phone calls--at 4:30 p.m.! Also, they delivered round posts, when Sander ordered square posts. Then the post hole digger he purchased broke the moment he tried to use it so we had to return to Home Depot ourselves for a new one.

Are you drunk, Home Depot? Yeesh.

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So we're building a larger run for the chickens. Who barely lay eggs anymore because they're OLD BITTIES! And we've sent for hatching eggs this year so we can hatch our own chickens!! Which means we've also sent away for an incubator. This should be interesting. We're going to have tons of chicks {if they hatch} as we ordered a dozen rare breed hatching eggs and a dozen lavender Orpingtons. We will not keep them all. We'll sell/give away extras or perhaps...send some to a butcher, because in case you don't remember, roosters are sort of hard to get rid of. Which I don't like the idea of, but then our butchered chickens would certainly live better short lives than the ones we buy at King Soopers have, if I'm being honest here. But hopefully by late summer we'll be getting more than an egg a day. Freeloaders...

Project Backyard 2017

It's not just a chicken coop anymore anyway. It's a chicken bunny coop. Maybe we should call it a Cadbury coop? Did you know, it turns out, rabbits can live happily with chickens? They also thrive on chicken feed. A Google showed me that lots of chicken keepers do it. Peter had to be neutered, however, because he considered himself a chicken Casanova. It was...BOCKward! Lel.

Project Backyard 2017

So this weekend was LOVELY weather here in Denver {I hear some folks around the country are getting snow dumps right now?} And so we worked on the ugly yard.

Project Backyard 2017

I even made the kids turn off their Minecraft games and come help. Cheap child labor.

Project Backyard 2017

So while Sander dug post holes and filled them with new posts and cement to create a new, nicer, larger chicken run, the kids and I {mostly just I} built some raised garden beds.

Project Backyard 2017

Because I also spent about $15 on seeds for veg and flora {my British audiobooks have been rubbing off on me} at lame Home Depot and by golly, I plan to get my money's worth this year. In the form of cucumbers, tomatoes, and lettuce.

Project Backyard 2017

So while it's ugly now, I hope--with some luck, child labor, and stupid Home Depot to supply us--that in a couple months I'll be able to show you a rejuvenated yard. With new green, plush grass because our 1950s yard is compacted, lumpy, and has been obliterated by scratching hens, kids, puppies, and whatnot. With a cleaned up, fixed up little chicken coop. With garden beds teeming with veg and flora, oh ho fancy that, a spiffing proper English garden, yeah? And maybe even...I can't believe I'm saying this but when Sander gets a project in his head he obsesses until it comes to fruition...a KOI POND.

Project Backyard 2017

By jove, but that brown spot could use some jolly good aquatic love now, couldn't it?

Pip pip,
Heather

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Visiting Seattle Again

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We took an early Saturday morning ferry back to Anacortes. There were islands to behold, sailboats, ferries and majestic mountains. Sadly, the one thing I wanted to see, we did not. I had hoped to see an orca, but most pods have left the area by this time of year.

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It's much less unsettling to take a ferry during daylight hours.

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Fascinating stuff to a landlocked state dweller. The sea air does rude things to my hair, but it is good for my body. I can tell.

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My friend, Meghan, said we should stop for a muffin at The Store in Anacortes. Best muffins ever, she said.

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She was right. And I'm not even much of a muffin person. {Always listen to the locals!}

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We were really excited to see Meghan {my college roommate} and her husband, Ryan, later that day. But we stopped at the most touristy place you can find in Seattle besides the Space Needle.

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Pike Place Market is a MUST when you visit Seattle.

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Seattle, do you know how lucky you are to get these floral bouquets for $8-$15 any time you want? In Denver, these would start at $30 and go up from there.

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Since I was last here, I see they've added ornamental lettuce to their arrangements. I love it!

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Let it be known I'm only posting 1% of the dozens of photos I took of these flowers that day.

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We also stopped at the first ever Starbucks, right there at Pike Place, where there was a line out the door and down the street a bit. I picked up a You Are Here mug for Pike Place.

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This place, called the Harbor Steps, between two skyscrapers, after dinner at McCormick's, is where Sander proposed to me in September 2002. We were babies back then. But we knew what we wanted and what was inevitable too, so why put off a marriage you know is going to happen? Seattle, you see, is a part of our story.

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How I wished we could have driven another 40 minutes on I-5 down to Tacoma to see our old stomping grounds and other friends who've moved there, but we were already packing a lot into this trip. The fall colors in Seattle were just as beautiful as they were on Orcas Island.

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We drove to Bellevue and headed into the hills where Meghan and Ryan have a stunning home with equally stunning views.

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You can see downtown Seattle, the Puget Sound, and airplanes and clouds at eye level from their amazing view. Breathtaking! And this photo doesn't do it justice, because the human eye is a much better beholder.

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Meghan and Ryan showed us around their amazing home, popped open a bottle of wine for us, and then took us to Salty's for dinner. From Salty's, you can see downtown Seattle in all of its nighttime glory from across the sound. Can you spot the Space Needle?

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We could hear seals barking.

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Justin and I thought we'd head back and let Meghan and Ryan get back to their lives, but instead they drove us all around Seattle to see some things up close. I had the best time!

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And I finally got to cross the Fremont Troll off my Seattle bucket list. This guy made an appearance in 10 Things I Hate About You {only my favorite teen movie of the 90s} and I'd wanted to see him ever since. His eye is a hubcap, and he is clutching a VW Beetle he just snatched right off the road under the bridge. Extra creepy points for meeting him at night, am I right?

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Meghan and Ryan, it was really good to see your faces again, and to finally see your lovely house!

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Visiting with them and finally getting to see their gorgeous home was a very sweet ending to a really special trip.

In the morning all we had time for was to rush to the airport in the jukebox on wheels of a car, and grabbed breakfast at Beecher's {another places the locals rave about} for a breakfast sandwich. I was sad to leave, but REALLY EXCITED to see my babies!!!!

Next time you're in Seattle, there's a Beecher's at both Pike Place and the SeaTac Airport.
You're welcome.

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Woohoo! I got a window for the flight back.

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Goodbye, Seattle. We love you. We'll be back, next time with the kids.

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Cheers,
Heather



Sunday, November 13, 2016

Orcas Island

Now our day on Orcas Island!

This is Eastsound, the main town on Orcas Island. If you follow Gilmore Girls, this is like the Pacific Northwest's version of Stars Hollow. Except on an island.

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So we left the darling bed & breakfast cottage.

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Hopped in the Mini. {Isn't she cute?}
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And drove a few minutes to Eastsound. First we looked at it from the outside.
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While I'm disappointed I never saw a whale {orca pods usually move on by this time of year, only a couple stick around} I got to see a happy starfish! Do you see that orange thing in the middle? Exciting stuff for landlocked state dwellers.

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There is no chain restaurant or store in Eastsound.

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Which is wonderful. Just local joints.

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Like Darvill's Bookstore. The owner learned we were from Denver, and immediately praised our well-loved bookstore, The Tattered Cover, telling us, "That store has done great things for our industry!" Proud moment. And small world, eh?

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I love small town shopping. Especially when you can browse books and see the ocean at the same time.

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I contemplated us moving here. 

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They even have an Episcopal church with Lutheran services. Hmm...

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Chimayo?! Been there!

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Random wheel barrel of pumpkins in an alley. Because what else do small seaside towns have to put in their alleys?

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But anyway, we couldn't spend too much time shopping because we'd heard there were some other things to marvel at on the island. So we hit the road.

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And headed for Moran State Park. Moran was a Seattle mayor way back when who got sick and was dying, came to Orcas Island. Long story, but he had to get the state to accept this treasured land from him for all to enjoy. I'm grateful he did. 

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The drive up is just full of stunning, picturesque views. You could see ferries in the distance, and birds of prey swooping around. No wonder the Native Americans treasured this part of the country so. 

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Either you're looking out toward the sea, or in at the lush forest.

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What the locals insist on you doing on Orcas Island is going to the top of Mount Constitution. This mountain is 2,400 ft. My hometown sits at more than twice that elevation. Sort of crazy to think about. It's a 4 mile hike up, or a nice drive. On the top is an old stone lookout tower. 


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That's Mount Baker in the distance. Let's get a closer look...

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Closer!

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See how blessed we were to go on a relatively clear day? Below, with our telephoto lens, we captured multiple Canadian cities. This photo was taken by Sander on the top of the tower, using our telephoto lens, directed what must have been hundreds of miles away. You can see both America and Canada from this point. 

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Then we drove some more and parked, and ventured into the forest. Because I wanted to.

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I wonder what made this tree fall?

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The underside was gnarly.

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And everything on Orcas Island is covered in moss. Fallen trees give way under your feet. So different than our Rocky Mountains, which are rugged, dry, and hard.

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The other thing we wanted to see on Orcas Island was Cascade Falls.

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First, you pass Rustic Falls. See how the fall colors were in their full glory during our trip? Bless.

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It was at about this point that I was thinking to myself, "Yes! Thank you Justin for taking me here! Thank you for making me do this! I needed this!"

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It was so, so good for my soul.

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Then we spotted Cascade Falls. And we made our way down, over a bridge, and under some moss covered trees to get a closer look.

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This is a 360 shot which doesn't translate well on my blog, but I'm including it to show you that I crossed that fallen tree bridge by myself, and bravely, to get closer to the falls. I wasn't scared of falling. Maybe when you have an anxiety disorder, it's good to get out and regularly push yourself to surpass it?

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Needing a late lunch at that point, we hiked back to the car and started searching for a place.

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We found ourselves in, not a town, but a community named Olga. It didn't look promising for lunch, and we figured we'd have to head back to the other side of the horseshoe-shaped island.


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But as Sander drove, I spotted a sign with the word cafe. So we pulled in, not knowing what to expect.

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This is the best sort of vacation experience, friends. When you're hungry and confused, and find some random joint in the middle of nowhere, and decide to try it.

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Only to have it turn out to be one of the best vacation lunches you've ever had. 

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The service was amazing. The potato salad was amazing. The sandwich was amazing. The butternut squash soup was amazing. 

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And the raspberry macarons were amazing. If you should ever find yourself on Orcas Island, plan for lunch at the Catkin Cafe. Amazing. 

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And to think we just happened upon it in the middle of the island, with no signs of life from the outside, only to find several chefs at work out in the open, an amazing menu, and locals living it up on the inside. 

We tooled around some more, seeing a beach, checking out a couple graveyards, ending up lost in a YMCA camp, and snooping around island neighborhoods while scheming about how we could move there and be happy. 

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We think.

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Eventually we made our way back to the French couple at our bed & breakfast, because we'd ordered dinner: salmon in puff pastry, filet steak, a divine salad with a savory sort of French style of dressing I need to recreate, and a dessert of chocolate and pears. 

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We made use of our cottage's hot tub. I saw a shooting star. We both saw lots of stars. then woke up early to have some baked brie in puff pastry for breakfast {oh to be French!} before our host and chef not-unkindly kicked us out because he felt it was his duty to make sure we caught our ferry on time. 

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Note to self: start figuring out puff pastry. The French know what they're doing with food.

And on to Seattle...




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