Tuesday, March 29, 2016

What's in my Beach Bag

Countdown to our Hawaii trip is in the single digits! I've taken over the guest bedroom with all my bright colored dresses, shorts and sandals so I can outfit plan and daydream about finally being warm again!!! Isn't that just the best thing ever? To walk outside and not be cold? To not need a coat?! I CAN"T WAIT!! Since most of each day will be spent at the beach or by the pool the most important things I'm packing are going right into the beach bag!
Here are my 5 beach bag must haves:

Sunscreen. I don't care about being tan... anymore (please don't judge college Shannon with her SPF 4 Banana Boat Tanning Oil). Yes I appreciate a healthy summer glow but for the most part I have fully embraced my Pacific Northwest skin tone. I am basically translucent. I will definitely look like a lobster before day 1 in Hawaii is over if I don't keep myself lathered up. I also have reached an age where I'm aware of my age and want to protect my skin from future wrinkles and lines so I especially don't care to get any color on my face. This is my favorite sunscreen for my face. It's super lightweight, and doesn't look or feel greasy. I prefer a cream sunscreen for my face so I can be extra sure I'm covered and then I use a spray for the rest of my body.

A straw hat. Undoubtedly my freckles will be out in full force after all that glorious sun but to be doubly sure my face is protected I'm gonna be sure to wear a hat as often as possible.

Sunglasses. Duh. My RayBan aviators are my all time favorites but I also love heart shaped sunglasses just for funsies.

Backgammon. I don't know why but I always think of backgammon as a beach game. I guess my parents always brought their board on vacations. So naturally I just had to get a board for T.J. and I to use. I found this adorable travel size one with magnetic pieces. T.J. doesn't know this yet but I plan for us to have an ongoing backgammon tournament and see who wins the most games by the end of our trip.

Books. Books. More Books! One of my favorite parts of any vacation is having all that time to read! There is nothing more relaxing than laying under the beach umbrella and getting sucked into a good book. It's amazing how much more reading I get done when I have nothing else on my to-do list except to take a dip in the ocean and maybe have a nap later in the day. Couple that with several long-ish flights, and unavoidable layovers, and I have to stop myself from packing a small library. It may be optimistic, but here are the books I'm bringing: 
(source. save one of those loungers for me!)

Friday, March 18, 2016

five on friday

 We now get our milk delivered to our front door and it is adorable! Smith Brothers Farms is a local dairy farm and I decided I needed one of those cute insulated boxes on my front porch. Yes... confession... that box is 90% of why I signed up for milkman, but I also really love their products! We have a standing order of a weekly half gallon of milk and a dozen eggs every other week and on Thursday mornings our haul is waiting for me on the front porch. You can adjust your standing order as needed, up until the night before it's delivered, and add other items like the creamiest chocolate milk, cinnamon rolls, and Beechers mac and cheese! Is there anything better than cinnamon rolls waiting for you when you come downstairs?
I also added a new wreath to our front door from Joss & Main and I just love how very southern it is. It's sold out there but you can find similar here.
I haven't done a ton of decorating for Easter or spring because it's still pretty chilly and gross here but I did add my Naptime Diaries Advent cards to the shutter in our dining space and of course I had to get out some Easter candy. (What you don't see is the bag of pastel peanut M'n'M's and the two bags of starburst jelly beans I've already gone through...)

Monday was Hunley's birthday! He is officially one year old. I can't believe he's been with us for that long but at the same time it's hard to remember what I did with myself all day without my little buddy to chase around. He is, simultaneously, a complete pain in the butt and also the cuddliest most loving puppy. It's how he gets away with so much. and he totally has T.J. and I wrapped around his paw...

This is what he looked like the day we brought him home. I can't believe how much he's grown!

Soap box time. You may have seen some outraged posts on social media lately about Instagram's announcement that they're going to roll out a new format for how your feed is displayed. Instead of being chronological like it is now, Instagram has developed an algorithm to determine which posts it thinks will be post important to you.
They say:

To improve your experience, your feed will soon be ordered to show the moments we believe you will care about the most. The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post. 
As we begin, we’re focusing on optimizing the order — all the posts will still be there, just in a different order. If your favorite musician shares a video from last night’s concert, it will be waiting for you when you wake up, no matter how many accounts you follow or what time zone you live in. And when your best friend posts a photo of her new puppy, you won’t miss it.

I'm sorry but this jut plain pisses me off and it's just like Facebook's News Feed. If your Facebook feed is anything like mine you probably end up seeing the same posts over and over each time you log in. In fact I feel like I miss more posts now because the posts the algorithm deems I "care less about" are pushed to the bottom of my feed or filtered out all together. This is just a short step away from paying to boost your posts, and our feeds will all start to look the same.  It is also bad news bears for small business and bloggers who use Instagram to promote their pages and connect with readers. I often share a picture as soon as I have a new blog post up. But if the posts no longer show up in chronological order, it is less and less likely that followers and friends will see that and be directed to my blog.
My favorite thing about instagram is that it's fresh and changing and moves with us, and that's real life. Instagram claims we miss more content this way, but oh well! Although, I don't know how accurate that is because I refresh that thing probably every 10 minutes to see what new posts there are and I shamelessly scroll back through hours of content to catch up on the lives of the people I chose to follow. Instagram thinks an algorithm knows me better than I know myself, but when I chose to follow the people, celebrities, and brands, that was my way of saying I want to see ALL their posts, as they're happening.

Anywho.... I get worked up about it because it seems the "social" aspect of social media is quickly fading away into a big void of groupthink. I guess that's a lesson for us users: social media is not real life and it will always come up short of real interactions. But I just really hope my favorite App doesn't die a slow death like Facebook.  Go here to sign the petition to #keepinstagramchronological.

{link up your friday posts here and here}

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Good for my Soul

{read part 1 here}
Sunday we woke up with one thing in mind... DONUTS! We headed to the Original House of Donuts, selected a dozen, cut them all up in thirds, and went to town! We took the dog for a walk, got ready for the day, and then went straight from our donut tasting to wine tasting. 
The girls we delighted to hear that Chateau St. Michelle was within driving distance. It's about an hour away from my house and I had never been myself so how could we not go? There was a crazy storm going on all afternoon but we didn't let that stop us! When we arrived we literally ran inside to avoid falling branches and then hopped onto the next tour. They do a free tour of the Chateau with a history of the region, the wine makers, and the various vineyards throughout Washington where the grapes come from. All of the grapes are grown in eastern Washington, on the other side of the Cascades and practically no rain compared to where we live. Some of the wines are bottled out there but for most of their white wines, the grapes are sent across the mountains and are bottled right there at the Chateau.
The winery was actually running on generators at this point since the weather was so bad but luckily all the important parts were lit up so after our free tasting we ordered another flight (or two) and some snacks and settled in for a relaxing afternoon. We stayed until it closed, catching up on the past year of our lives and letting the hours pass by slowly.  I definitely want to go back in the summer time when you can tour the gardens and they do concerts in their outdoor amphitheater. 
Monday we had set aside for a snow day! The girls had brought ski gear and we had originally planned to go to Crystal Mountain for the day. But... all the crazy rain and storms we were having at lower elevation translated to blizzard like conditions higher up. I was pretty nervous about driving two hours into the mountains into the unknown so we called the Crystal Mountain and they informed us that the fresh powder was great for skiing but the roads were still being plowed and the snow was still falling heavily and snow chains would be needed... yeah, no, thanks. Instead we opted to go snowshoeing and crossed our fingers that the roads in Snoqualmie wouldn't be as bad. It was pouring rain when we started out and as we drove higher into the mountains we watched the top of the trees start to turn white and then the rain turn to big snowflakes.  We went to the same place T.J. and I had previously been but this time there was a TON more snow. The roads were okay until we pulled off the exit to the trail head. With just a mile and half to go we decided it would be safest to break out the snow chains. Lets just say it's a lot trickier to put them on in the snow than in my driveway and leave it at that.
We parked carefully, strapped on our snowshoes and leashed up a very excited puppy and headed into "Narnia." We crunched through the snow and stopped to make snow angels and throw snowballs at Hunley and take lots of pictures of a quiet world that looked like the inside of the snow globe!
After a long hike around the frozen lake we made our way out of the winter wonderland with a final stop at Snoqualmie Falls before heading home.
Once home we took hot showers and then made homemade pizza for old times sake before sitting down to three hours of The Bachelor. My neighbor and good friend came over to join us. I love seeing worlds collide, and watching new friends meet old friends, and just being surrounded by girls I can lean on and have so much fun with! The next day I sadly had to return my friends to the airport and we had to promise it wouldn't be so long before the next girls weekend.
Girlfriends are just like water to my soul. Moving out of the town-home we shared in Maryland, not yet two years ago, was more than just the start of my new wonderful life with T.J. It was the end of a sweet season of roommates, and living right down the hall from your best friends, and sharing a fridge, and coming home from work and excitedly seeing that both your roommates cars were in the parking lot which meant dinner together on the couch, and taylor swift dance parties, and chardonnay. There is just something special, something sacred about girlfriends, and true, intimate friendship, where you knew each other, loved each other, needed each other, before you became a we. T.J. is my partner now, my husband, the love of my life, but I still and always will need these girls.
And friends are friends forever
If the Lord's the Lord of them
And a friend will not say "Never" 
Cause the welcome will not end 
Though it's hard to let you go 
In the Father's hands we know 
That a lifetime's not too long 
To live as friends

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Girl's Weekend

Poor T.J. His house was taken over by a bunch of girls this past weekend. Well.. I don't know if it can be considered "a bunch" because technically it was only my two old roommates who came for a visit, but when we get together we tend to be a bit loud and silly (think chardonnay and Taylor Swift dance parties). It turned out that T.J. had a really busy weekend at work so I was doubly thankful they came to visit our neck of the woods, because otherwise I'd have spent the weekend playing Xbox.

Instead, I left work early on Friday and went to collect my friends from the airport. After excitedly hugging and squealing that we were finally reunited we loaded up the car and laughed about the amount of luggage they had brought for just a 4 day trip. Despite my assurances that it wasn't necessary, my one friend had used this getaway as an excuse to take the plunge on a pair of Hunter rain boots that she'd ordered and shipped straight to my house. On the ride back to my neighborhood I pointed out the nearby sights and we immediately fell back into that comfortable place where it's like no time has passed at all.
After giving them a tour of our home and introducing them to Hunley who was excited about all the extra attention, we headed out for a walk on my favorite trail to the water. I've told them all about this magical trail and I've blogged about it numerous times but it's still something you just have to see for yourself to really appreciate the majesty of the evergreens and the holy stillness and expansiveness of the water waiting for you at the end. I was cracking up as they stopped every couple feet, cellphones raised above their heads, snapping photos of the tallest trees and the moss covered branches. And when we finally reached the pebble shores of the Sound I knew they felt like I always do, in sheer awe of our Creator. I love bringing new people to this place. It's like sharing a delicious secret.

After we'd taken in our fill of beauty we headed back to the house and made plans to meet my elusive husband for dinner nearby. We went to one of our favorite casual local places, that is even better in the summer time when you can dine outdoors, but is still a cozy spot year round. This was pretty much the most we saw of T.J. all weekend so we just had to ask the waiter to document his existence.

We finally had to cut ourselves off from all the talking and we finally fell into bed, much later than my normal bedtime, knowing we had big plans for the next day. Saturday morning we all got up nice and early and while T.J. headed in to work we took Hunley for a nice long walk before piling back into the car and heading up to Seattle for the day. We had heard rumors of a yummy brunch buffet with a good view so we made our way there first. Upon arrival we discovered this was only a Sunday thing (what's up with that??) so we apologized to our waiter and shamelessly left in search of french toast and eggs. When your heart desires brunch, nothing else can satisfy! We lucked out at Bacco Cafe right beside Pikes Place Market and settled in for a long leisurely meal. We ordered Brioche French Toast for the table and I selected the Dungeness Crab Benedict for my entree along with a spicy Bloody Mary. The girls chose the Egg Scramble and a Crab Omlette and mimosas. Basically they had to roll us out of there.

We then wandered through the market admiring the tulip stalls, and the fish mongers throwing around salmon. We decided we actually weren't too full for a cream cheese canoli that was calling our name and we made sure to check out the infamous gum wall since it's soon to be removed (I'd hate to have that job...).

Next we headed to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room which was a good much needed hike. I had never been before so I was excited to see this "coffee mecca." We grabbed a map (yes really) when we arrived and wandered around what was very much like a brewery with huge copper stills and coffee enthusiasts in leather aprons prepared to answer any question you might have about anything coffee related. It was packed to the gills but we managed to find seats at one of the bars and ordered a coffee flight of three different specialty brews that we sipped and pretended we could tell which ones had notes of citrus or chocolate.(Confession: it all tasted like coffee to me...)

Fully caffeinated we headed on to our next stop, the Space Needle. We took the monorail there, purchased our lift tickets and then stepped out onto the windy observation deck. Somehow, miraculously, rain held off the entire time we were exploring Seattle, but we didn't spend too long at the top as it was freezing and giving you a weird sensation that it was swaying...
Before hopping back in the car we grabbed some mac n' cheese to go from Beecher's (we just couldn't resist) and then the rain let loose and we were thankful to be on our way home. Thoroughly worn out from a long day of sightseeing we immediately changed into the matching pj's that my friend brought for us as a treat and snuggled up on the couch for a movie night.

It was the perfect first couple days of a perfect visit! Even though I've walked to the Sound a dozen times and I've seen most of the Seattle tourist hot spots before it's so much fun, and such a different experience, to do it all over again with my best friends! We crammed in a ton to their all too short visit! Part 2 to follow.

Friday, March 4, 2016

for the birthday boy

Today is my sweet husband's birthday which calls for a sappy post about how wonderful he is, how well he loves, how handsome he is, and how hard he works for our little family. It's not a hard post to write. He deserves to have the best day, the best year! In his job they are stingy with the praise and quick to criticize. I try to be the opposite of that so he never doubts how much I need him, how proud I am of him, and how desperately I love him.  Happy 28th birthday to my favorite guy, the best one I know! So thankful you were born today, and so thankful you chose me to do life with.

"And I'd choose you; in a hundred lifetimes, in a hundred worlds, in any version of reality, I'd find you and I'd choose you."
 -The Chaos of Stars