Sightseeing at Stonehenge

IMG_2828

The first part of our European adventure started in Southampton, England, mainly because the cruise we are taking leaves from this port city. This is my first trip to England and I was hoping to get to London for obvious reasons! I mean, who goes to England and doesn’t visit London! But, we only  had three days before the ship sets sail so London will have to be the next time around. The great news is that Stonehenge is only an hour from Southampton, and my hubby loves to drive on the wrong side of the road, so that was our first stop. We headed to Salisbury, the closest city to the monument. It was a beautiful day!

IMG_2802

IMG_2805

IMG_2809

IMG_2811

I was shocked at how close we were allowed to get to the structures.

IMG_2811

IMG_2813

I did not know that there are stones along the outer edge of the main monument, each with a different meaning, I think this is the heel stone

IMG_2817

IMG_2818

IMG_2819

IMG_2821

I was also unaware how out in the open this field is, not only was the structure amazing, so was the surrounding landscape. I turned in each direction and saw only fields.

IMG_2824

IMG_2825IMG_2826

It appears that we are the only people visiting this day, but there were many other folks around! Again, I was impressed with the feeling that we were alone with this structure!

IMG_2827

IMG_2828

IMG_2831

IMG_2845

IMG_2846

Here is another stone along the outside of the ring, it looks like a face to me.

IMG_2849

IMG_2853

It could be a smile?!

IMG_2851

This flat stone in the foreground is the slaughter stone, I think I know its purpose!

IMG_2854

A second view of the slaughter stone

We decided to walk back to the visitors center instead of taking the shuttle. We saw these sheep in the field, they were everywhere as where cattle.

IMG_2859

See the white specks? I will get closer in a moment.

IMG_2865

As we walked along we spotted these mounds. This is where ancient people were buried so they would always be able to see Stonehenge during their eternal rest.

IMG_2866IMG_2870

As we walked along I could not help but think of Sherwood Forest.

IMG_2874

Can’t you just see Robin Hood and his men riding down this road!

IMG_2877

 

IMG_2878

I have a couple more pictures of sheep and some huts that were replicas from the time that the workers lived in this area. However, the internet is so spotty that I am just trying to upload now! We head to Ireland next!

 

 

The Ten Commandments of Blogging

I just found this wonderful blog by Wayfarer, that it appears, everyone else already knows about! I really love this post! And, I hope to follow these “commandments” as I think they make for a better blogger

A Holistic Journey

1. Thou shalt not waste readers’ time. Offer up thy readers a worthy sacrifice that they might take and be satisfied.

2. Thou shalt honor thy muse. Be prepared in season, out of season to seize inspiration when she comes that ye might write, dance, photograph, paint thy bliss. Be not caught without thy scroll, ink, pen, iGadget, camera. Thou wilt not redeem the moment the locust has eaten.

3. Thou shalt preview thy draft and spell-check before publishing that the Angel of Vengeance shall not fly over thy blog in the night.10commandmts2

4. Always speak ye the truth.

5. Thou shalt not take up the like button in vain, foremost on this blog. It is holystic ground. Thou shalt in integrity read the posts before clicking anything lest thou incite my wrath. Know ye that I see thou couldst not have read four of my brain-intensive posts in one…

View original post 175 more words

A Ferry Ride, A San Juan Cottage and an Amazing Dinner: Day 2

IMG_2601

If you remember from the first post, we had just finished our wonderful dinner and were feeling pretty groggy the next morning from our food coma, that actually started the night before. We decided to head over to American Camp Beach for an early hike to clear our heads. This park has some rather impressive historical roots dating back to the mid 1800s when the military established its presence during the British/US occupation. Today it is just a pretty place to hike around.

IMG_2618

A group of kayakers are getting their safety lecture before heading out.

IMG_2619

The entire shoreline is covered with fort structures made from the huge supply of driftwood.

IMG_2630

We don’t get huge breakers on the sound, but look at the mountains in the distance!

eagle

We saw several bald eagles and tried to get a closeup of two of them before they pecked our eyes out.

We were feeling considerably more awake as a result of dodging eagles and tourist with paddles, we headed back to the cottage to get ready for a round of golf.

IMG_2600

I promised a tour of the cottage in the first post, so here it is!

IMG_2611

The front, and only door, is on the left and the “kitchen” is to the right. The door has a gorgeous window!

 

IMG_2612

If you turn to the right from the “kitchen” you see the bathroom and bed. Look at that window!

IMG_2615

Then you turn back, and that is pretty much it!

Like I said before, it is small but the architecture allows for a lot of light, and it is really cozy. What is really stunning about the property is the location and views-more on that in a moment. Another bonus is that it is just 1/4 mile from the only golf course on the Island. We had a 1pm tee time.

I did not take a lot of pictures of the course because, well, it ain’t that pretty! I warmed up in the putting and chipping areas.

golf 3

It was a good course for me, the beginner, because there were not too many trees, water features or sand traps. But, this was an 18 hole course with some long drives, so I did not play every hole. I did drive the cart and managed to sneak some action shots of my hubby.

golf 1

golf 2

He looks like he is going to crush this ball

It was fun and very hot! We went back to the cottage and I took some photos of the beautiful property.

IMG_2638

I absolutely love these trees. They surround the cottage.

IMG_2639

IMG_2643

IMG_2644

IMG_2647

We are up on a hill overlooking the water.

IMG_2602

This is the view from the deck on one side.

fh2

And the view from the other side.

The woman who owns this property has a second rental right next door and a beautiful garden, I had to take pictures of that as well! All the islands in the San Juans grow lavender. There is so much of it I would say it is the primary crop here. There are lavender baked goods, soap, bath salts….anything you can think of will have been infused with the scent.

IMG_2650

IMG_2652

IMG_2654

IMG_2684

The bees love it so there is plenty of lavender honey for sale!

The owner has many wonderful and unique plantings throughout the garden.

IMG_2662

IMG_2656

IMG_2667

IMG_2666

IMG_2682

There was a trellis that caught my eye. As I swung my camera up I spotted one of the largest bee hives I have ever seen.

IMG_2668

I got a little closer

IMG_2669

At this point we believed it was an abandoned hive and I tried to talk my husband into climbing up and using his head for scale. Then we saw this…

IMG_2671

IMG_2672

Obviously there were occupants at home and my hubby said it was a “no go” to the climbing up part. We estimate that the hive is just a little smaller than an adult head!

IMG_2675

The rest of the garden was not as scary!

IMG_2678

IMG_2685

IMG_2687

We ended this day with a light meal and happy hour at a beautiful spot over looking the ferry dock.

ferry-from-above.jpg

We watched the float planes, which were constantly present, land and take off.

plane 2

plane 1

Sorry about the quality of these photos, the planes were fast, I only had my cell phone and the happy hour drinks were starting to kick in!

The next morning it was time to head back home. We parked our car in the ferry line and set out on foot to find some breakfast. Cafe Demeter is the best bakery on the Island and just a few steps from the ferry dock. We have been here before and the wait in the long line is completely worth it! Highly recommend this one!IMG_2691

After my breakfast pizza, which I ate before I took any pictures, we wandered around town and checked out a few other places that are near the dock.

IMG_2693

This houses many little shops to browse or pick up a last minute souvenir-probably something with lavender!

 

IMG_2694

Also a great place for coffee or breakfast. It is also open for lunch and dinner.

IMG_2696

IMG_2697

We have not dinned here but I have heard good reviews.

IMG_2700

Remember the ice cream we had on day 1? This is that shop but if you go remember they only take cash!

IMG_2701

We had lunch at this spot last year, it was ok.

IMG_2699

On the look out for our ferry at this pretty spot

Our ferry arrived right on time

IMG_2721

IMG_2722

We said good bye for this year.

IMG_2752

Friday Harbor is just one side of the Island of San Juan. Roche Harbor is on the opposite side of the Island. It is just as pretty but maybe a little more effort to get there. Abbey from abbeyco is a boater who lives here in Seattle and happen to be visiting Roche while we were in Friday Harbor. If you would like to see more about that side of the Island, check out her post. She has great pictures and an adorable little girl too!

So it is good bye for now, until next year…..

me on the beach

 

A Ferry Ride, A San Juan Cottage and an Amazing Dinner: Day 1

When people think of the Pacific Northwest they often conjure images of rain, coffee, the Space Needle and salmon flying through the air at Pike Place Market. All thoroughly acceptable iconic images that we deserve here in Seattle. But the true gem of Washington State is our ferry system and the many beautiful islands that we have spread around the Puget Sound. We patiently wait out the constant deluge from the clouds and near constant dark skies from October to May to get to the holy grail of summer. From June to (if we are lucky) the end of September the clouds part, the sun beams down and anyone with a dingy or inflatable tube hits the water.  We PNWs live for the promise of summer and then we take full advantage of the precious time we have until we all are forced back into Starbucks to wait out the winter.

My hubby and I have our wedding anniversary at the end of July and last year we went to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. We had such a great time that we did it again this year, and me with my camera in hand this time. We set out early Sunday morning which was quite foggy as we made our way to Anacortes to catch the ferry.

IMG_2495

This ferry was running on a different route nearby. The camera saw more than my eye did!

IMG_2500

IMG_2503

Then the fog started to lift about half way through the hour long boat ride.

As expected there were many boats out on the water despite the early hour and foggy conditions. And the views from the our ferry deck were spectacular.

IMG_2507

IMG_2512

He is covering the logo on his jacket but it looks like he is saying the pledge of allegiance with the wrong hand!

IMG_2516

IMG_2523

Another ferry docked at nearby Lopez Island

IMG_2524

I have  no idea why these boats are single file, looks like a parade

IMG_2529

IMG_2537

I wold love one of these homes on the beach!

IMG_2539

The fog has cleared and you can see the mountains in the distance

 

We were approaching Friday Harbor on the big Island, San Juan.

IMG_2541

More beautiful homes along the waterfront

IMG_2542

Approaching the Friday Harbor Marina

IMG_2544

IMG_2546

The ferry dock is on the left of the marina in this shot

IMG_2549

These homes and condos are to the left of the ferry dock, on the opposite side of the marina

IMG_2551

We have arrived!

We were too early to go to our cottage and check in so we decided to mill around the waterfront for awhile. We began at the small park near the marina.

IMG_2568

I love this tree

IMG_2570

Really love it!

 

IMG_2569

This is the Pacific Northwest after all, we do lots of totem poles here!

We made our way down onto the dock where the boats are tied up for the day and there are a few places to buy snacks.

IMG_2565

IMG_2560

All boats are great, but I have a preference for these older wooden sailboats.

IMG_2572

IMG_2594

IMG_2561

IMG_2574

One can not stop at the marina and not look for the harbor seal at the Seafood store. She has been coming to this exact spot for 30 years and recently brought her young pup by for a snack. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see the baby this time.

IMG_2585

IMG_2575

It really doesn’t get fresher than this! They sell amazing seafood and prepared meals as well

IMG_2577

This guy was staring me down!

IMG_2578

She showed up right on cue!

IMG_2581

IMG_2583

IMG_2587

Some kids bought her lunch!

By now, we were getting hungry too but dinner was not for awhile yet.

fh1

There are many great places to get ice cream, but this is our favorite one. By the way, you rock climbers will love this shirt!

We wandered around a few more of our favorite stores, I do love this bookstore! And, marveled at the spectacular views until it was time to check in and get ready for our anniversary dinner.

This is the cottage that we have now stayed at twice. It is small, secluded and adorable. The view can’t be beat!

IMG_2600

I spent some time photographing the cottage and surrounding garden but I will save that for the day 2 post, as this one is long already! We got cleaned up and prepared to head to the other side of the island where the Duck Soup Inn is located.

Our dinner last year was delicious and this year did not disappoint! We had high expectations and were so happy we returned this year.

We started off with cocktails, I don’t remember what these are exactly but isn’t memory loss the sign of a good drink!

ds 1

We ordered two appetizers, the cured beef carpaccio with arugula pesto, parmesan, charred onion cream, toasted hazelnuts and berry gastrique

ds 2

And Wescott Bay smoked and baked oysters. Both were fantastic and I don’t like oysters! These were not raw, which helped me greatly, and were served with fig aioli, bread crumbs and parmesan.ds3

We both had the corn and spot prawn bisque, and loved it!

ds4

My husband went with the Seared Weathervane Scallops-this was good! The shellfish was flavored by braising in pork belly and served with a summer succotash and red bell pepper sauce-yum!

ds5

And I had the Fresh Ricotta Gnocchi-this was better! Really tasty! How can this be bad when it is served with cherry tomatoes, garlic, summer herbs, browned butter and Midnight Moon aged goat cheese?

ds6

We finished off with more cocktails and a chocolate fudge sundae-yes, more ice cream! The dinner was outstanding and just the right amount of food. Their portions were perfect and we cleaned our plates.

It was a wonderful day and even better evening! Day 2 will have more pictures of the town and the property where we stayed! Thanks for reading this far.

fh2

Strawberry Basil Shortbread

IMG_2768

 

A really good friend was recently in town for just a couple days. He lives in California and has never been to our current home (which we have been living in for 12 years!) Yes, he is a good friend but, like all of us, has a very busy life and just has not had the time to visit as much as we all would like. So, when he told us he was coming up for a business meeting, we had to have him over for dinner. I was planning the menu when I realized he would be here on one of the hottest days of the summer (so far). I wanted a light and easy meal but still wanted to make some effort in honor of our buddy. I settled on rosemary mustard roasted pork loin with bacon, roasted vegetables (carrots, cauliflower and asparagus), homemade ciabatta bread and limoncello ice cream. I got to thinking that it would be nice to have something to go with the ice cream, you know a little something crunchy that would complement the lemon flavor. Strawberry basil shortbread just popped into my head and I had to try to make it happen. And that is how this recipe was born!

The trick is getting all the strawberry flavor and not all the moisture that comes with fresh fruit. I used freeze died strawberries from Trader Joe’s. The same brand that I used when making strawberry frosting for one of Sally’s baking challenges (the roll cake).

IMG_1556

I decided to grind the dried strawberries with the granulated to sugar to incorporate the berry flavor into the shortbread dough. My recipe was 1 cup granulated sugar + 1 cup dried strawberries which I then combined with my food processor.

altered

straw sugar

I wanted a course texture so the dough would have specks of strawberry

From here on it was a pretty straightforward shortbread recipe. I creamed the butter and strawberry sugar and added lemon extract. The flour and salt were added and mixed until just combined. I then added the finely chopped basil and mixed until thoroughly incorporated. The dough was chilled for 30 minutes and then I rolled it into a square roughly 6 in. X 6 in. 1/2 inch-3/4 in thickness.

cookie dough

You can see specks of basil and strawberry and the dough has a pinkish hue

I used a ruler (because I am anal and a control freak) and cut 3 inch bars.

cookies 2

These went on a parchment lined pan and were sprinkled with Demerara sugar for sparkle and crunch. This shortbread is not overly sweet but I wanted it to pair with the limoncello ice cream, so I resisted the urge to add a glaze. If it was to be served solo then I would add a glaze that would boost the strawberry flavor.

 

IMG_2754

IMG_2756

cookies 1

Into the oven at 350F for 20 – 25 minutes

And voila!

IMG_2770IMG_2774

ice cream

I am happy with how well these complemented the lemon in the ice cream. I would like to perhaps enhance the strawberry flavor in the future. Maybe more than 1 cup of dried berries? Is there a strawberry extract that could be used? I am happy with the basil and don’t want to alter that as I am worried it could overpower the cookie. If any of you try this recipe please give me your thoughts and critiques, I would love your input!

Strawberry Basil Shortbread

  • Servings: about 30, 3 inch bars
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

This tender, savory shortbread pairs well with citrus notes or is delicious on its own. A unique item for your brunch guests!

Credit: Invisible-no-more.com

Ingredients

-1 cup granulated sugar

-1 cup dried strawberries (fresh will not work as they contain too much moisture)

-3/4 pound unsalted butter, room temperature

-1 teaspoon lemon extract

-3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

-1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

-2 Tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped

Directions

  1. Combine the sugar and dried strawberries in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a flat blade. Pulse until the berries are coarsely ground and well incorporated with the sugar, 1 to 2 minutes. Be aware that this will create some dust.
  2. Cream the sugar mixture and room temperature butter-it must be room temp. I leave my butter out the night before to make sure it is soft, if the butter is too cold the dough will not come together.  Add the lemon extract.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour and salt. Add to the butter mixture and combine on low speed, just until the dough come together. Add the basil and mix until well distributed. Dump the dough onto a floured surface and form into a disc. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate for, at least, 30 minutes. You may chill for longer but allow the dough to warm a bit before rolling out as it may be crumbly if it is too cold.
  4. Work with 1/2 or 1/3 portion of the dough at a time. Roll or pat into a 6 in X 6 in square. Using a sharp knife, or cookie cutter, cut bars or desired shape. Place on paper lined pan, sprinkle with sugar if desired.
  5. Bake at 350°F for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. Cool completely on a baking rack. 

 

 

Where Will We Run Next?

run

Now that we have decided to buy a second home in Tucson, we can turn our attention to the next running challenge. I spent some time scouring the half marathon websites and it seems only fitting that we run in the “A Mountain half marathon”.

If you are not familiar with the University of Arizona, which is located in Tucson, then you might not know about “A” mountain.

A-Mountain-Tucson

The large letter at the top stands for the University of Arizona and to get up there we will have to run a little over 700 feet from miles 5 to 7 1/2 during the 13.1 mile half marathon. Oh ya, did I mention that Tucson is 2,000 feet above sea level before the climb?

map

This will be a tough run for us as the other half marathons have all been at sea level (Seattle and Vancouver BC) and in pretty much the same climate. This time we have to figure out how to run in warmer weather and at altitude. This will not be a PR for us, more of a “just survive it” mentality. I had to put together a training program that would get us ready for the end of October, so we started yesterday. Here is the plan:

August 2017

 

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
1 2 3 4 5 6
Run 4 Run 4 Run 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
Run 5 Run 5 Run 7
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
Run 5 Run 5 Run 7
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Run 6 Run 4 Run 8
28 29 30 31
Run 6 Run 4

I will not be doing weekly updates this time since we are traveling a lot and have followed a similar plan before, but I plan to have monthly posts about the progress we (hopefully) will be making on this schedule.

Wish me luck!

desert running

And the Winner is…..

Tucson, Arizona!

night view

This is the view from our new backyard!

If you have been following me from the beginning, then you know that I have been searching for the answer to the question “what’s next?” The reason I began this blog was to work through this extremely tough question of transition, as we move from full time parenting into our empty nest phase.  This has been a tumultuous year, to say the least. We have been roaming around, renting houses in a variety of states and environments looking for what feels right. We have spent time in Idaho, Eastern Washington, Oregon, Kansas, Nevada and Arizona. In each place we checked out the running paths, yoga studios, golf courses and climbing gyms. We wanted a place that was not too far from our extended family, all of which are in the Seattle area, and provided the activities that we have been enjoying the past few years. There was one more big requirement: SUN!

We love Seattle, especially in the late spring, summer and early fall when the weather is fabulous and the running and climbing are to be enjoyed outside.

But then, somewhere around mid October, it gets dark and the clouds open up and begin to pour and it does not stop until May! No, I am not exaggerating!

In late February we went to Scottsdale to explore the area. Now, we have been to Sedona and Phoenix before, but this time was different. I wrote a post about some of our time there, a few others as well. But when it came time to leave, it hit me. I knew, somehow, that I could be happy in Arizona. I told my husband and we talked about nothing else the entire drive back to Seattle. By the time we got home, we were making plans to look, really look, at the potential of buying  a second home in AZ.

tucson

We got pre approved, found a realtor and went to Tucson for the first time ever. We liked the views, the mountains, and the potential for all our outdoor activities that we have become  accustomed. We arrived in June, when it was 115°F, not exactly the best time for driving around and house hunting! Our first stop was the local indoor climbing gym. Rocks and Ropes which turned out to be perfect for us. The routes are tougher and longer than our home gym, which will keep us challenged while we are in Tucson.

tucson climb

We also made our way up Mt. Lemmon, which is great for hiking, climbing and has a ski resort in the winter.

AZ_MtLemmon04

climbing

Can’t wait to be these guys!

Near the end of our trip we managed to get in a short run (it was 80°F at 8am) at a bike/run path that runs the entirety of the downtown area.

tucson run

This path runs along a dry river bed which is full during the monsoon season

We fell in love with the place. Did I mention the views?

tucson mountains

This is one of the five mountain ranges around us

stars from lemmon

Tucson is one of the premier star gazing areas in the country. There are city ordinances governing the lighting in downtown to preserve the star quality. This is another view from Mt. Lemmon

Our home was the third property we viewed on the first day of house hunting. We both knew, as soon as we set foot inside the door, that this was the place for us. It will take several months or so to know for sure if this snowbird lifestyle is right for us. In the meantime I am excited about moving in (we close in August) setting up the house and making it a home! I waited to post about the new place to make sure it would go through (you know, inspections and paperwork). I am sure there will be more posts and pictures to come once we take possession of the house.

Since today is our 27th Wedding Anniversary I decided that this would be the perfect time to talk about our new phase and life direction. Thank you for reading this far and sharing this special moment with me!