Learning From a Pro: Food Photography & Food Styling Workshop 📸

FullSizeRender

I was blessed to have such an amazing summer! So many wonderful trips and fantastic experiences 😊. Here we are in November, about a week from Thanksgiving, and I am still playing catchup with my blog!!😳

This food photography workshop, which I attended in early October,  is just one of those amazing experiences. I first learned of Clare Barboza from a friend in Seattle.  Leslie, my friend of many years, knew about my passion for baking and had seen many of my photos on Instagram. Probably why she recommended Clare’s workshop to me 🤣😂🤣! I’m kidding! Leslie has always been very supportive of my crazy Insta adventures.

When I first began researching this opportunity, Clare was splitting her time between her two studios, one in downtown Seattle and the other in Vermont. She has since chosen to focus her business at the Vermont location, which better supports her family. I instantly fell in love with her photography style and decided, rather quickly, that I wanted to attend her weekend workshop where she would educate us on lighting, composition, and use of props in food styling. I had never been to Vermont, and it would be in the fall when everyone says it is gorgeous, so I signed up!

FullSizeRender-2

Brattelboro is a cute, little town that I really did not explore 😔 I did not leave myself enough time to poke around! I flew in late Friday and out early Monday, leaving two full days to absorb as much photography knowledge as possible (and hit a local climbing gym 😉, priorities you know).

Clare’s studio is beautiful, bright and full of fantastic props for her photography.

IMG_7144

The left side of the studio is all windows, allowing the natural light to stream in during a large portion of the day.

Clare prefers natural light and the large set of windows allows her to alter the directionality as the day progresses.

IMG_7152

It helps to have a fully functional kitchen when specializing in food photography

Clare’s husband helped her remodel the kitchen area, which is airy and bright. Pretty handy guy to have around!! And, check out the view from the kitchen window.🌳

She wanted to divide this large space, and used these vintage window frames. I loved the look of these, and had to snap a pic.

IMG_7148

The other half of the studio was full of props! I was so jealous😂. I had a ball picking out surfaces of various colors and textures.

IMG_7155

Clare’s husband made these boards, again, a handy dude!

She also had vinyl surfaces of various colors and textures to choose from for backgrounds.

IMG_7159

Her collection of place settings!! Anything you could think of was available to enhance our scenes. Dishes, cups, silverware, bowls ….. I was in heaven💕

IMG_7157

This is only a portion of the full collection

We would begin each day with a short lecture/discussion about a certain topic. If you have ever attended a photography class, you will have heard of many of these same themes.

IMG_7160

The class getting ready to learn

Clare mixes concepts with actual hands on practice. I loved this! We had many opportunities to hone our skills. We began with a discussion on light and how to redirect it when needed. We also talked about composition, leading lines and depth of field. Many of these are topics covered in any photography class, but Clare gave us tips and ideas specific to food. And, she shared many of her gorgeous pictures and how she set them up.

Throughout the two days, we would be given five assignments. We could take as many pictures as we wanted, but had to choose one or two, from each task, for a critique on the last day. This was harder than it sounded! Sometimes I had many pictures I liked and others I couldn’t find one😲!

Our first assignment was to shoot a drink with backlighting. She provided us with different colored drink mixes, garnishes and sent us to work! At first I was not very comfortable just grabbing her supplies, and I was overwhelmed by so many options to choose from! I took over a hundred pictures and kept only 10! A theme that I would repeat many times over the course of the weekend.

I tried to challenge myself to create two different looks with this assignment.

10766576896_IMG_4193

This was a backlit, fresh and airy feel

 

10766318688_IMG_4209

Here I used the same drink but went for a more holiday, evening look.

Our next assignment was to photograph a charcuterie display. Clare set out a huge array of meats, cheeses, crackers and assorted goodies. This is my heaven!🥖🧀🍎

IMG_7165

She demonstrated her thought process, how she would approach this shoot.

IMG_7164

She told us the mood, or feel she was trying to create

She arranged, and then rearranged the components until she liked the composition.

IMG_7171

She added props to tell the story.

IMG_7177

And took test shots at various angles.

FullSizeRender

Now it was our turn, yikes!

10766306112_IMG_4212

This is just one of my many attempts

 

10766641088_IMG_4223

I decided to add some height by rolling the salami and placing it upright.

I don’t know if I succeeded in this assignment, but I was full, as we were encouraged to eat the cheeses 😋

Lunch was included in the price of the workshop, and I thought it was the charcuterie ingredients, but Clare made us a delicious, and much healthier option. Her soup was wonderful, and really topped me off! She also offered us a tasty dessert, chocolate!🍫

IMG_7161

Our afternoon assignment was pasta! Clare provided us with the makings of an excellent pasta bar: several different shapes of noodles, two different sauces (red, and white), several garnishes, even bread for the pictures.

Our task was to put together an attractive dish and shoot it from above and at a 3/4 angle. Again, I took so many shots, and chose these three for the critique.

10765734832_IMG_4242

 

10765732480_IMG_4259

 

10766112912_IMG_4228

It was so fun to see what the class came up with! We were all very different from one another.

Day 1 had come to a close, and I know I was kinda beat. Being creative on demand is mentally taxing for this science based person 😊. We had also been rather passive all day and I was in desperate need of some physical activity!

I had researched climbing gyms nearby and found one in Hadley Massachusetts, only and hour away😳 Central Rock Climbing Gym was just what I needed that night!

IMG_7205

Unfortunately they did not have auto belays, so I only bouldered. But I did send an inverted V4 😁 Very happy about that!

IMG_7207

I will definitely spend more time here, if I get the chance!

The next day was to be the “tough” day. I didn’t really know what Clare meant by that, but found out fast! She meant that we would be photographing food that is notoriously hard to make pretty.

This second day highlighted the food styling portion of the class. We discussed choosing a mood or vibe, and how to select props that enhance, but not overshadow the food.

And, we went over the dreaded color wheel 😫 I say dreaded because I just struggle with that thing!

Our first assignment was salad photography and I decided to face my color wheel issue head on! That meant trying to figure out the complementary color thing. I have seen many green salads paired with blue backgrounds, and everyone else loves it.

So…

10795337408_IMG_4283

And I hate it! A number of other students liked this. I did like the choice I made with the linen, as it has the red stripe that I liked with the strawberries, but the rest…. oh well, I will keep working with the wheel.

The last assignment for the workshop, Clare called “the canned soup challenge”. And this was tough! We were to take a can of soup and make it look appealing, somehow.  If you have not opened a can of soup lately, give it a go, it may shock you how horrible it looks! All the “green” vegetables (like peas and beans) are a mucky shade of brown/green 🤢 One of the students chose a lentil soup and, I am not joking, it looked like dog food!

One advantage here is that I do make a lot of soups and stews and have photographed them for this blog. So I have practiced a bit already. Still, this was a tough one!

10795590272_IMG_4307

We were allowed to use some fresh garnishes like herbs or sour cream. I tied a bundle of peppers together to add some color too and chose a monochromatic palette in the hopes that the colors would appear more vibrant. At least I liked it more than my salad🤣

The last portion of the class was a group critique of the photos we selected. This is always helpful! It is also tough because it is so subjective, one person will like what another finds distasteful. My goal is to take it all in and improve as best I can💕

With that, the workshop came to an end! I loved it and would happily join another of Clare’s classes!! I learned so much and had fun. Her teaching style is so approachable, there was nothing you couldn’t ask her😊

I finally had some time to look at that legendary Vermont Fall Foliage that everyone raves about! I went for a quick walk in the town.

IMG_7321

IMG_7324

And another shot in downtown

IMG_7337-2

I met up with two of the ladies from the class for one final dinner together.

 

We drank, we ate and we talked about how ugly canned soup looks!!😂😂😂

A big thank you to Clare Barboza for all the great lessons learned! 📸🥗😉

Advertisements

Climbing in Squamish BC 🏔🧗‍♀️⛺️ Mom’s Take Away!

IMG_3094

One of the best perks, for me, as a mature climber, is that I get to climb with my adult children 😊 Both our daughter and son are excellent climbers. Our daughter, Alex, began just two years ago, but as a former, nationally ranked gymnast, it did not take long for her to pass her parents in both ability and passion for the sport. Ryan, our son, began as a little boy. He joined the climbing team for a few years, and now is working on his AMGA Rock Guide certifications.

What this means is that I have this amazing situation where my son guides the family on all the best routes, in a variety of beautiful climbing areas. Smith Rocks in Oregon, Mazama in Washington, and The Cochise Stronghold in Arizona, are just a few of the sites we have climbed together.

But my favorite, from this season, was the weekend we spent in Squamish, B.C. The plan was simple. Ryan and I drove up from Washington, on Friday and secured a campsite at the Squamish Municipal Campground. Alex and her boyfriend were driving separately to meet up with us. What can I say about this campsite? It was definitely cheap, but far from quiet!! The reality is that we did not sleep much those two nights, thanks to some extremely rude campers😩 However, the nearby showers made it a favorite choice for Alex and I. Seems the guys didn’t care too much about that 😂. Next time, mom needs a hotel😉!

Ryan and I had some daylight left that Friday evening, and didn’t want to squander a minute of climbing time! We set out to climb Star Chek

IMG_3096

Ryan gearing up on the first pitch of Star Chek

This is a pretty easy, straight forward climb. And the views of the Cheakamus gorge are phenomenal! Another unique feature of this climb is that you first descend into the gorge to find the base of the route. It is steep, but there are fixed ropes to help, we did not find it too difficult.

This first pitch (5.8) is 4 bolts leading out to the arete. Pitch 2 (5.7) is longer with 8 bolts and follows the arete to an excellent ledge. Definitely a picture moment📸

IMG_3095

IMG_3105

Pitch 3 (5.9) is 4 bolts, which takes you to the top

IMG_3106

IMG_3108

IMG_3100

Ryan took some pictures and video of me on the way up! You can really hear the roar of the river in the video 🌊

image

As I said in the video “I love this climb”! We need to return so that hubby and Alex can send it as well. Just beautiful! And, the rock quality is excellent. 😊

Now that we were back at the top, we walked over to the road, and our car. Just enough time to get dinner in downtown Squamish, which has many dining options! This is one camping trip where we did not need to pack a ton of food, or a cooler. It was easier to make the short trip into town. Lots of Tim Horton’s to choose from, because you know, I had to have my coffee ☕️😳!

The next morning, now that Alex and Joe (boyfriend) had arrived, we all set out for the Thighmaster bouldering area. I should mention that Alex and Joe prefer bouldering where Ryan favors multi-pitch climbing. As a result, I get to do both!

We made our way (very short approach) to the Black Mark boulder

IMG_3124

The route you see here is Black Mark (V4, 10 ft) and beyond my abilities at this time! But not a problem for Alex!

IMG_3128

IMG_3129

IMG_3130

IMG_3132

She crushed it! Ryan and I were still warming up.

Then it was my turn 😬 I set my sites on Adam’s Apple (V1, 8ft). My history with bouldering is that I tend to get a move, or two, from the mantle and then struggle.  This route is on the same rock, to the left in the picture above.

With the kids cheering me on, here I go!

IMG_3157

Getting to the lip was fairly easy

IMG_3160

I head right looking for a place to throw the heel, nothing here😳

IMG_3156

Head back to the left, and starting to get tired

IMG_3161

I throw it left, and the fight begins!! I have no idea how long I spent trying to haul over this mantel

The view from above was so sweet!💕

IMG_3148

The boys seem bored😊

And, only minor scrapings to show for it😂

IMG_3155

This was my last send for the that day, I was ready for more coffee☕️. Apparently Ryan was done too, so we went to downtown to shop for gear while Alex and Joe went onto harder climbs 🧗‍♀️

After lunch, and some retail therapy, Ryan and I decided to do a little hiking. Squamish has plenty to do for the non climbers in your party as well! We found a trail that lead out of the downtown area and paralleled the estuary. The Oceanfront Interpretive Trail lead out from Cleveland Street in downtown and ended at the Howe Sound.

IMG_3172

IMG_1969

I do recommend this easy hike/walk, as the view really is beautiful. Unfortunately, Ryan and I had to turn back to meet Alex and Joe for dinner. Next time, we will make it to the beach!

After another fine meal, and zero sleep 🤬 we decided on how best to spend the last few hours in this beautiful place. I did some campground yoga, while the kids poured over the climbing books.

It was decided that Alex and Joe would head over to another bouldering area, while Ryan and I set out to do some trad climbing on the apron, located on “the chief“.  Officially known as the Stawamas Chief, it is a giant (over 700m) granite dome. It’s just gorgeous🏔

FullSizeRender

IMG_3212

We settled on two routes that would get us to the top of the apron (red arrow). This was a slab climbing day, to be sure!

IMG_3171

We started out on Rambles, a 5.8- with 4 pitches. The approach was very short from the parking lot (love that!😊) The pitches can be easily combined to 2 total. We did do the 10b variation on pitch 4.

Great view at the top of rambles!

IMG_3203

Rambles will get you to base of several other climbs. We chose Banana Peel, (5.7, 8 pitches). The first three pitches were pretty straightforward, pitch 4 had an interesting finger crack traverse, but quite easy. The rest of the route was just a lot of smearing along  various flake lines.

I don’t have a lot of pictures as we were moving pretty quickly. We still had a decent drive after this! Ryan had told me we would walk off, but I didn’t realize this meant we would walk off down the front of the apron! 😬 I thought we would hike down the back, like most walk offs. He enjoyed videotaping me while I mentaling worked through this!

Obviously, we made it back to the car just fine! I can’t say that it was as easy crossing the border back into Washington 😜 such long delays!!

So, what did I learn on this trip?

  1. My kids are awesome, I am constantly in awe of their abilities and I am lucky they let me tag along 💕
  2. Squamish is gorgeous! And the climbing there is magnificent🏔
  3. Campgrounds⛺️ are still awful, I need a bed, shower and a good night’s sleep. Hotel next time for sure😊
  4. Tim Horton’s makes pretty good coffee☕️👍🏻
  5. There are many more climbs here that I want to send in the future, and I am strong enough to do some harder grades
  6. I want to learn to place trad gear 🧗‍♀️
  7. I want to do more leading, if Ryan will let me!😉
  8. Crossing the Blaine border in the summer sucks! Nexus card perhaps?

Let me know your thoughts on this amazing, beautiful climbing area!

Meeting my Blog Buddies in Montreal!🇨🇦Part Deux!

1537002457844

Remember this motley crew from part one of this visit? We last heard that Dominique, Darren and I were heading to Mount Tremblant 🏔 for a fun filled day of laughter, food and reluctant hiking. And Linda and Bill, were scheduled to arrive the following day in Montreal.

Dominique saved the trip to Mount Tremblant for when I could go with her and Darren. She thought I would like it, and she was right!! She knows me so well😊

This ski resort is a couple hours Northwest of Montreal in the Laurentian mountains. Like any ski resort it has a vibrant presence year round. Something that I forgot to mention in part un, is that it was hot in Montreal! We were experiencing some really warm temps, and it was gorgeous up here in the mountains.

We arrived and set out for the village. There was stunning architecture everywhere and I took far too many pictures. I will restrain myself and just post a couple.

IMG_5445

The main building at the base of the mountain

IMG_7858

This is one of Darren’s pictures, I didn’t even know he took this one! 😂

IMG_5446

I loved the colors of the village shops and hotels

It would take two gondolas 🚠 to make it to the top of the mountain, where the hiking paths were located.

IMG_5449

The first gondola took us to the shops and restaurants

IMG_5451

It truly was a gorgeous day!☀️

By now, it was lunch time and we (meaning for sure, me😉) were hungry. There were many restaurants to choose from but I saw a Crepe shop, and lobbied hard for that choice! Dom and Darren were kind enough to let me have my way! I could have had any one of the dishes, they all looked good. Dom and I settled on ham and cheese crepes and Darren went for the yogurt. Look at the differences in our lunches 😳

IMG_5457

Darren’s sensible and healthy lunch!

 

Look at these crepes!!! They are massive! And, mind you, Dom and I each had one plate of these😲, and don’t forget the maple syrup we added 🍁😂.

IMG_5458

Clearly Darren is the healthiest of us all! With a couple pounds of protein and carbs in us, we were ready to head to the top of the mountain. This required gondola ride number two, and was a rather long trek up. We had plenty of time for some photos. 🚠

In all combinations possible!

IMG_0652

Damn, I have a lot of freckles!!

 

IMG_0667

Dom loaned me her hat

IMG_0672

This is my favorite picture of them both ❤️

Now, we are ready to hike, or are we?🧐 The tricky part about the term “hike” is that it is subjective. What one person sees as a hike, might be a walk to another. I was prepared to let Dominique and Darren choose what they wanted to do. We were all full, and Dom had  her running shoes on, so we went to the map.

I made a few modifications to the map, just for clarification purposes 😉

1539609687672

The star marks the gondola, which we were informed, would be closed by 5pm.

The arrow shows the “360 trail”. This is a short loop that is known for its views and observation tower. The three of us decided that would be a smart place to start.

IMG_5490

The views were as advertised!! So pretty💕

IMG_5489

Dom told me that this lake has canoes, paddle boards and kayaks for rent.  I may have to make my way back out here!!

IMG_7857

Darren’s picture of me being a big dork😜

 

IMG_7859

Darren caught this image of Dom and I attempting to lure a crow out of a tree with some chocolate. We wanted a picture of it for Lisa! This did not work as the crow was too smart and the chocolate melted in the sun!

As we neared the end of the 360 trail, the observation platform became an option.

IMG_5481

IMG_5495

Well, for one of us! Two of us decided that there were too many stairs😂

IMG_5486

We made our back toward the gondola, where we faced a decision. There were many more paths to choose, should we go on another hike/walk? After careful study of the area, and some quick calculations on mileage vs time until the gondola shut down, we settled on the Sasquatch trail. We would go down the Sasquatch and back up one of the other paths to make our way to the gondola.

It is important to note that every opportunity was afforded all members to vote down this idea!! It was Dom who said “we have plenty of time, lets do it!”

The peppy girl with her hand up on the map is Dom!

1539609687672

We started off well. As usual, Darren and Dom would stop and take pictures of inspiring critters or plants. About half way, Darren started casually mentioning that we were going down in elevation quite a bit. Then he would speculate on when we might be going back up. We had a group meeting to determine if we should just turn around at that point.

We decided that we would have time to make it, if we didn’t stop for any more pictures and picked up the pace. Ya, that did not last 😂😂. You can’t have three bloggers together and not take pictures!

We made it to the bottom of the route, and turned to head back up the other trail (yellow arrow). That’s when it happened! Dom went down, voluntarily! I was a little further ahead scouting for the best/shortest path back up. I turned around and Dom is laying on the ground (😵) and I hear Darren’s sweet, soft voice saying “are you ok?”

We really were not that far away from the finish, but I was getting worried that Darren and I may be carrying her the rest of the distance! I resorted to, what every hiking guide does at some point, lying! “Its just over the next hill!” They saw through my deception immediately! But, once Dom was vertical again, and with some well placed hands on her back, we made it to the gondola, with time to spare 😊

IMG_7856

Another brilliant capture by Darren! 

We had another couple hours in the car to make it back to Montreal. And a delicious and hearty meal at a Thai place (I think). We were discussing what to do the next day, we knew Linda and Bill were planning on arriving, but not exactly sure when.

Dom and Darren had some photo work to do with Lisa, and I thought that they might need a break from me the next day😂. We decided to do our own thing in the morning, and meet up for lunch. Dom and Darren were going to work on some photo shoots and me…..

I was starting to feel the need for a work out 🏋🏻‍♀️! There were several climbing gyms in the Montreal area, however, I was on foot and wanted a good one within walking distance. Allez UP turned out to be just the right fit!

It was a 4 mile walk to the gym, actually 4.5 thanks to, you guessed it, more construction! I had to get going early so I could get there, climb, and get back for lunch with my buds💕

It was another beautiful day ☀️ and there were some cool things to see. This bridge, near the gym, had hundreds of spider webs! 🕸🕷 Had to take a pic!

IMG_5512

I finally found an unblocked entrance to the building! And, had a great time climbing the auto belays and bouldering 🧗‍♀️

IMG_5516

1536943120391

I felt good and ready to walk back. Near the end of the trip I realized that I was seriously low on nutrients and caffeine😬  I didn’t want to eat lunch without Dom and Darren, but what to do? Remember that beautiful gift basket they gave me when I arrived at the hotel?
1539022787533

I tore into this like a pack of hyenas with a fresh kill! Well, not the gourd! This, and the in-room coffee at the hotel, got me through!

After lunch, we still had some time to kill while waiting for Linda and Bill. Dom took us for a short walk to a beautiful cemetery. Ya, a cemetery. Honestly, I could have spent all day there 😊 So serene and full of old architecture that you just don’t see anymore.

IMG_5569

Unfortunately, I don’t remember the name, but I do know that it is hundreds of years old.

IMG_5571

 

IMG_5574

You just don’t see headstones like this anymore

 

IMG_5579

I loved this angle, where you see the old statue with the newer church dome in the background

While we were roaming around, we got the word! Bill and Linda were at the hotel😍!

The three of us rushed back to find Bill in the hotel lobby. Somehow, Darren recognized him from a picture Linda posted three years ago!!! I am now officially in awe of Darren!

We chatted for a bit, the five of us, and decided to head to a nearby park that Dom knew to have amazing views of the city. Once again, she was right💕

It was a short walk to the top of the view point. And, once again, I took too many pictures! I will just post this one.

IMG_5586

It was at this point in the trip that Dom revealed a very personal battle that she has been having with her phone. Apparently, she has “selfie” issues 😲 So, at the top of a very steep drop off, she decided to work on her craft. Darren and I were a little concerned as she seemed to be teetering on the edge of a long drop!

IMG_5592

My picture of Dom’s selfie form, it looks good from here😂

I still haven’t seen any of her selfies and do hope she is making progress on this vital skill 😉.

My last night in Montreal was upon us, and we went to a Thai restaurant (or was it Indian?) for the only meal I would share with Bill and Linda.

Sadly, I only saw them for a couple hours, and the lighting at the restaurant was not awesome for photos.

IMG_5595

Linda getting a shot of Dom and Darren

 

IMG_5596

Not sure what Linda and I were thinking with this one!

 

IMG_5602

I love this one of Linda! This is who she is, fun, warm and so very kind! Bill is pretty awesome too💕

 

IMG_5600

These three are up to something!!

We ate, we laughed, we talked way too loud, we took tons of pictures, we told stories and we closed the place down!! Honestly! The dude had to kick us out😂

And then I was out of time😔! I had a very early flight back to Washington, plus I walked a total of 14 miles that day😏, I was tired!!

I know this was a long post, and most of you gave up reading by now. But this was an emotional journey for me. I never dreamed that when I started my blog, almost two years ago, that I would make such important connections, with such amazing people! It’s true that not everyone could make this trip, and there are other bloggers out there who are just as important to me. But the fact that I pulled myself out of that dark place, and put myself out there, and let’s be honest, that is scary, and came away with these friends…Well, all I can say is thank you❤️ Thank you Dom, Linda and Darren, for rescuing this once sad, lonely and invisible person. I love you all🙏

 

Meeting my Blog Buddies in Montreal!🇨🇦Part Un!

 

1537002457844

It has been almost one month since I went to Montreal to meet up with some of my BBBs (best blog buddies). Why has it taken me so long to blog about the trip? Is it because I had a rotten time? NO!! Is it because we didn’t do anything fun? NO!!! Is it because I took so many pictures of all the places we visited that I could not figure out how to start this post? BINGO😊

I was only there for three days, so how could I have a billion photos? I think this phenomenon has something to do with getting bloggers together. As individuals we tend to take more pics than the average human, but combine us! I can’t begin to imagine how many storage sticks Darren had to buy for his 10 day trip🤣 Not only was this my first time meeting Darren, Dominique, Linda and Bill, it was my first trip to Montreal. Another reason for my snap happy camera finger.

I decided that the best way to approach this retelling of the first annual BBB meeting, would be chronologically, and in two posts. Is my boring science background coming through loud and clear? 😂

I flew in on Tuesday, about 3 hours late (thank you Air Canada). Darren and Dominique waited to have dinner with me! I felt so bad for starving them all day. We had a lovely dinner, not that the food was scrumptious, it wasn’t. But, meeting these two wonderful souls was a blast! I could tell this was going to be a fun trip😊!  It was getting late, so we called it a night and wound are way through the maze of construction that is downtown Montreal. Seriously, every street was in some state of reconfiguration! 😳

Dominique chose the perfect hotel for our stay, the Hotel Terrasse Royale (not my photo!). As she put it, it is clean, comfortable, affordable and central to everything. She was right on all counts!

104925394

I would definitely stay here again and recommend it to everyone.

There was one more surprise when I checked in.

1539022787533

As if being the best host in all of North America was not enough for her, she and Darren put together a gift basket for me❤️ This would be very important in a couple days!

The next morning, I was still on West Coast time, so I was up kinda early. I needed coffee so I ate at the hotel restaurant. Of course, being a food blogger too, I wanted to capture my gorgeous and tasty breakfast!

IMG_5128

This oatmeal with fresh fruit was so good, I had it the second morning as well.😋 I did my morning yoga and met Darren at the pastry shop across the street, for more coffee! ☕️☕️Montreal is so much like Paris! I couldn’t resist taking some photos of the breads and pastries.

I didn’t sample any, but did have a fantastic cappuccino (or two 😉)

IMG_5555

Wednesday was to be our Botanical Garden day🌳 so off we went to Le Jardin Botanique de Montreal.

colorful-chinese-gardens_2527-2450

I did not take this picture, I swiped it from the internet. I like it for a couple reasons. Firstly, the garden was presenting their Chinese Lantern Exhibit, and some of that is depicted here. Secondly, see that tower in the background? I was in love with this structure! I believe Dominique told us that it was part of a venue built for the Montreal Olympic village.

We began our tour inside, with the tropical flowers and plants. You can imagine how many pictures Darren, The Arty Plantsman, took😆 He was a botanist/blogger/photographer on a mission!

As he is far more talented at plant photography, I will only share a couple of shoots and blooms that caught my eye. See Darren’s post for the real good pics!🌸

IMG_5139

I love these giant, prehistoric looking leaves🌿

 

IMG_5162

 

IMG_5147

I couldn’t resist taking a pic of Dom, taking a pic of the pathway. Can we just appreciate how she is dressed right now! She always looks fabulous🤩

IMG_5148

This waterfall was located at the end of the pathway. I took a couple long exposure shots from the front….

FullSizeRender

and the back.

IMG_5156

 

The ceiling of the inner building had these beautiful botanical drawings.

IMG_5172I could totally envision Darren’s artwork hanging up here one day 💕!

Eventually, we made our way outside!

IMG_5184

I loved the reflection in this shallow pool

IMG_5170

the one dark berry caught my eye

IMG_5179

This picture just says “fall” to me and made me think of Lisa! She could do so much with this💚

There were a few critters out too! I did my best to channel my inner Roda, who along with Lisa, we missed on this trip😞

And speaking of Roda, I can’t see a sunflower, without picturing her! Anyone else remember that post of her carrying 300 pounds of sunflower heads?🌻

IMG_5223

There were some structures in the garden as well.

IMG_5197

This little potting shed caught my attention

 

IMG_5231

Dominique took this picture of me, as Darren took a picture of her. I haven’t seen it yet! Dom does pretty well behind the camera too. Not just a a model my friends! 

Of course, while I am taking these pictures, Darren is capturing images of flowers the size of a pea and Dom is on her second wardrobe change! I can’t wait to see how those shots turned out😊!

We continued meandering our way through the Chinese lantern display.

IMG_5216

I am determined to get this Silver Chinese Grass in one of my yards, maybe both of them!

IMG_5241

Another view of my favorite structure in Montreal!

 

IMG_5242

A beautiful bench for a cup of coffee ☕️

IMG_5243

One of the rare moments when Darren isn’t smiling! He is deep in thought, looking for his next shot 💕

We posed in the corn for one last picture! We had a great time, but needed nutrients, well, caffeine! Darren and I opted for, yet another, cup of coffee and Dom would have passed out if she didn’t have that Diet Coke in the car 😂 it was hot and flat but she downed it like a pro!

IMG_5230

What a doof I am! Look at these two European gems and I am the dopey American with the white shoes on! I have got to read Dom’s blog more often🤣🤣😂

Off we went to an Indian Restaurant, my first! I have no idea what I ate that night as Darren ordered for me (thank God!). It was delicious!! Seriously, I will have to try that again, whatever it was 😋. I slept well that night, after all that walking and laughing😂 Little did we know that our trip to Mount Tremblant the next day would require even more effort 🏔.

I will save that story for the next post, but let me just warn you…..Dominique almost didn’t make it off the mountain. 😱!

You may be asking “where was Linda and Bill”? They won’t be in Montreal for another day, but they should have started driving by now😉💕

A Family Vacation/Adventure to Remember 🚣‍♀️ ⛺️ 🌊

IMG_4735

I have finally, finally sorted through these pictures from our OARS trip in August😳!

If you happen to have seen the OARS trip that my hubby and I went on back in July, then you already now what fans we are of this organization.

It has taken me this long for a couple of reasons. 1. I have been fortunate enough to be extra busy this summer. I have been traveling and playing with my kids😊 And, 2. mine was the only camera on this trip, which meant that my other family members would grab my phone and took far more pictures than my capacity to sort through!

I have lots of this:

IMG_4294

And this, to deal with!

IMG_4250

So….You can see part of why this took so long!

This was a true family vacation. My hubby, our two kids, one boyfriend, hubby’s parents and me, set out for Moab, Utah. Our plan was to visit both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, for the first couple days, then meet our OARS guides for a 5 day, 4 night white water adventure.

We flew from Seattle to Salt Lake city and rented two cars to transport the seven of us, and our gear, to Moab (a four hour drive). After stocking up our VRBO and getting a good night sleep, we all piled into one car for the 30 minute ride to Arches. To accomplish this task, two of us had to ride in the back of the van. The smallest ones got that honor!

IMG_2501

Yes, I have a coffee mug with me! This was not the highlight of the day, to be sure 🤢. But is was worth it to see this gorgeous park!

IMG_3810

IMG_3832

IMG_3838

IMG_3842

Of course, you can’t take climbers to the rocks and expect them to stay on the ground.

 

We had a blast climbing and scrambling up the formations!

IMG_2052

Even Grandpa could not resist doing some climbing!

IMG_4626

That evening, the kids and I decided to hike to the iconic Delicate Arch, to view it at sunset. My son set a rapid pace, so we got there in plenty of time!

IMG_4003

IMG_3965IMG_3991

We hiked back in the dark and got ready for Canyonlands the next day.

IMG_4042

IMG_4083

IMG_4735

Canyonlands is beautiful, no doubt! But I have to say, for me, Arches was a little better! Of course the kids found plenty to occupy themselves😊

Alex loves to boulder, so she had to work her way over the top of this ledge.

IMG_4070

And Ryan couldn’t pass up this crack climbing opportunity. I am sure that we received some odd looks from the other visitors 😬

Finally, it was time to meet our guides and start our trip down the Colorado River. Our path would take us through Canyonlands once again, but at the water level. We began with a couple days of motoring down the river. We had a lot of ground to cover before finding the rapids.

IMG_4117

IMG_4129

IMG_4134

We were treated to amazing views!

IMG_4122

IMG_4135

And then the skies opened up and it poured ⛈ 💨 🌊 I am talking biblical proportions here! We all grabbed our rain gear and huddled, under what little cover there was available. But we had to keep motoring down river to make it to our first camp site.

Very wet!

IMG_4154

And, look at the color of the water! It was full of sediment streaming down the red rocks. The guides, who spend every week in this area, said they had never seen the water so red.

 

IMG_4147

Nevertheless, they set up camp and made us dinner😊

IMG_4308

IMG_4311

OARS trips are known for their amazing food preparations, even in the middle of nowhere! We had delicious dinners and breakfast (my favorite meal of the day) was perfect, every time😋

IMG_4166

Our first night was wet, but fun!

IMG_4172

IMG_4169

The next day was cooler than most, nice if you are in the desert, in August. We did appreciate the cooler temps.

IMG_4189

We did dock along the way and take some time for hiking around. Our guides were very knowledgeable about the local geology and the former indigenous tribes. We saw glyphs and old ruins that were the way of life thousands of years ago.

IMG_4174

IMG_4208

IMG_4265

 

IMG_4240

The weather dried out and the hot temps returned showing us amazing sunsets and abundant wildlife. I especially loved the bats at twilight.

 

IMG_4202

 

IMG_4368

While the guides made dinner, we would pitch our tents and play games. My son is throwing a horseshoe in the picture below, That is some follow through 💕

IMG_4330

One night, I was taking some panoramic shots when the kids got involved.

IMG_4285

IMG_4284

Each night we were treated to spectacular sunsets and moon risings.

IMG_4348

Our last day was rapids day! Sadly, I was too busy trying to survive to take any pictures of us actually navigating the white water. It took all day, and I swallowed a lot of the Colorado in the process 😆. Absolutely the best day of the trip! We did not flip, which is great, but we did go vertical a few times🌊

All great trips have an ending! We motored to the extraction point.

IMG_4368

IMG_4364

IMG_2619

And loaded up into two, very small planes!

IMG_4402

Ryan jumped into the copilot’s seat.

IMG_4403

IMG_4407

 

Our final view of Canyonlands came from above, making our trip complete!

IMG_4458

IMG_4045

IMG_4454

This is the “confluence”, where the Colorado meets the Green River. We were treated to a view that is unique due to that thunderstorm from three days prior! Really amazing😃

IMG_4429

If you have hung on this far, then thank you! I do hope I have not driven you crazy with my wacko family adventures! If you get the opportunity to travel with OARS, you will not be disappointed. 😊💕

Adventure Travel and an Apology💕

I am a terrible blog buddy! 😞 I am so sorry that I have not been paying attention to all your amazing and wonderful posts. I do have a feeble, but credible defense.

My adult children are both between jobs and done with college. Which means that when they call me up and say “mom, do you want to climb/paddle board/go on a hike/see a movie…” I say “YES!” You see, I know that this is a rare opportunity for me. Next summer, they will be working, and/or in graduate school, in other states. I am milking this for all I can while they are nearby! 😉

The hubby and I have also been traveling quite a bit too. We recently went on an OARS trip for our anniversary in July. I have mentioned the OARS company when I wrote about adventure traveling. They organize and partner with local groups to set up adventures all over the world. This time we headed up to Bear Camp, at Chilko Lake in Northern Canada. This beautiful and remote property is owned and operated by Brian and Ashley, a married couple that hosts adventures all over the world! You can find out more about them at Iroamtheworld.com.

Granville Island, Vancouver

The first part of this adventure required us to drive up to Vancouver, BC. Having lived most of our lives in Seattle, we have been to Vancouver many times. But this was the first time we have ever stayed at Granville Island. What a treat!!! We were sad that we only had one night there.

IMG_2410

The island has running paths, ferry rides, paddle boarding… So many activities and in the heart of this amazing skyline.

IMG_2413

Check out these silos! The art work is vibrant and impressive.

IMG_2432

I found this building to be so unique.

IMG_2441

This pirate ship cruises around the island to the delight of many squealing kids!

IMG_2462

The local street market reminded me of Pike Place in Seattle. It is full of fresh foods, unique gifts and specialty foods. I took way to many pictures, but will spare you!

 

Getting to Bear Camp

Did I mention that this is remote?😳 We boarded a small plane in Vancouver, and flew to Williams Lake. The plane held 18 passengers, with the pilots that makes 20 people total.

 

IMG_2481

IMG_2490

IMG_2494

IMG_2493

 

Once at Williams Lake, we then pilled into a van and drove for another 4 hours to the camp. Many of us cited this bus ride as the low point of the trip. Still worth it to get there! But, a long dusty ride!

Arrival Time!

The main lodge, where we have our meals and meet for our activities, had our tent assignments and morning coffee drink orders! Yes, this is glamping!!

IMG_2723

This is tent #8, our home for the next 5 days 😊 as seen from the lake.

IMG_2503

And, inside the tent…a king bed with lamps, heated blanket and beautiful wooden furniture.

IMG_2513

Some of you may be wondering about the facilities. Well, check out this gorgeous shower (one of three available for the guests). Each is hand crafted with the stones from the lake.

IMG_2650

And check out our view from the deck! The water is clear, clean (no filtration needed) and COLD 😬. Canadian mountain water, all the way!

IMG_2658

The Activities

We only had three full days and wanted to spend as much time on the water as possible. We decided to brave the class I and class II rapids in the inflatable Kayaks on the first day.

It was actually raining a bit for most of the day. But we were supplied with full wet suits and were never cold!

IMG_2532

I was not good at this! And did find myself in a tree (or two!) but it was a blast!

IMG_2549

The second day we decided to attack one of the hardest hikes we have ever been on!

This is Mount Tuillan, it is 12 miles round trip, so that is 6 miles with 3000 ft gain, and back again!

 

IMG_2619

Finally, the views were starting to pay off about half way up!

IMG_2584

And then the top!

IMG_2593

We are smiling here, but actually suffering. So sore and the mosquitoes were the worst part!! 😫

IMG_2607

The biting bugs were so bad in fact, that we jumped on some paddle boards to get out onto the lake once we returned from this hike. Our theory was that there would be no bugs out there!

Look how clear this water is!!

IMG_2625

We really enjoyed the calm water, and the peaceful, relaxing time on the lake. Unfortunately, Dennis still managed to get a large bite while in the middle of the lake!

IMG_2633

After killing my upper body kayaking in the trees, and my lower body hiking the mountiain, I wanted something fun and simple for the last day. Fishing!! 🎣

IMG_2693

We landed 8 fish between the three of us! We released them, but it was so fun watching the trout hit the lures. The water was that clear!

IMG_2701

The one activity that we did not do was horse back riding, but this is also available on this trip.

Now for something important, the food!

Of course we have to talk about the food! One of the hallmarks of an OARS trip is that they provide all the meals. And, they don’t skimp on that!

Our first dinner was served right on butcher paper, down the center of the table! I love this idea, and plan to steal it😊

IMG_2515

 

IMG_2517

 

IMG_2518

Another dinner!

IMG_2558

Desserts were delicious too! 🍫

IMG_2717

Dennis loved this vegan fudge.

IMG_2559

And, eggs Benedict anyone? Don’t you always make that when you go camping💕

IMG_2655

All great things must come to an end, and it was time to make our long, long way back to civilization. Fortunately, we were spared the four hour bus ride this time! We took a float plane back to Vancouver. This was my first time on an amphibian aircraft and I was so excited!

IMG_2741

This time it was a family of 4 and us! 7 whole people on this flight, counting the all important pilot😊

IMG_2784

Gorgeous views!

IMG_2777

IMG_2778

And back to Vancouver

IMG_2794

From here is was just a simple 4 hour drive back to Seattle (thank you border control 😬)

 

This was our second OARS trip and we enjoyed it just as much as our first, a decade ago!

When is the next one you ask? In 5 days!!!! Yep, our entire family -including a boyfriend and grandparents, are heading to Moab to raft a segment of the Colorado!

Thank you for hanging in there with me this summer!💕

 

A Yoga Retreat 🧘🏻‍♀️, and I am the Caterer👩🏻‍🍳 😬

That’s a scary thought huh?! You might be wondering how this happened, I know I was!

Last January we went Mexico to attend a yoga retreat. I did a few posts on that trip. This was the same location as the previous yoga retreat, which we loved! Our yoga instructor, Lisa Shifler for both of those retreats, recently moved to Twisp, WA, 4 hours east of our home in Redmond. She told us that she was building a “yoga Shalla” on her property and would be holding retreats this summer.

We were all sitting at breakfast, talking about her plans when she said she was looking for someone to do the cooking for two weekends in June, during the women’s only yoga retreats. I blurted out “I will do it!” And she said “great!” 😳

What was I thinking!! After my head stopped spinning, I realized that this would be a great challenge and experience for me. And, with the first one in the books, I can honestly say it was a blast!

I had never been to Twisp before, which is located in the Methow Valley. I have heard great things about the area so I was excited to see the area. It is as advertised!

This is the Methow River, and it is so relaxing and I love the sounds of the water flowing along.

D941977F-D920-43B8-83E2-06E639CA1641

I drank a lot of coffee sitting next to this beautiful scenery💕

And all the blooms were out. 🌼🌸🌹It is sunny on this side of the mountains, as they get less rain than the Seattle side.

1528842768473

Lisa’s yoga Shalla was so cute and inviting!

1528642211724

Lisa decorated with articles from her two trips to India

IMG_0330

And, bought Mexican blankets, a nod to our other retreats .

IMG_0332

But I had a job to do! I made two desserts, both gluten free, dairy free as one of the ladies has Celiacs. Friday night we had a chocolate cake with bruleed bananas. Saturday’s dessert was this angle food cake with triple berry sauce and ice cream (for the dairy folks). Some of you may remember these from instagram, as I have been recipe testing for the last few weeks.

Then I had two brunches to prepare, both had gluten free options as well.

Our first morning we had crustless quiche, one with cream cheese and one without. There was also fruit salad, mango-orange Greek yogurt, gluten free granola, breakfast potatoes (not shown), cranberry & pistachio biscotti and sourdough bread that I had made a few days earlier.

Sunday’s brunch also included the yogurt and granola option, along with a French toast bake, gluten free pancakes and bacon.

Lisa also made some gluten free steel cut oatmeal both days and I never got to taste it! Hopefully I will next time😊.

I am happy and proud to report that no one got sick!! That was my biggest fear, and we all were pleasantly full for the weekend.

The weekend wasn’t all about yoga, we had some creative time. We painted inspirational rocks from the river. I have a couple weeks to think about the next design and am hoping to come up with a better idea for my second rock!

IMG_0350

We also went into the town of Winthrop to do some shopping. I had never been there before, and found it to be a cute town. I have travel blogged about Leavenworth, a nearby town that has a Bavarian theme. Winthrop is fashioned after an old western town.

IMG_0328

This dude was in front of the Putt Putt Golf Course.

1528914325056

Like most tourist towns, there were plenty of ice cream and coffee shops. I love the mottos and sayings of these two in particular!

IMG_0321

IMG_0322

The weekend was a success! The 8 of us had a great time shopping, eating and stretching!

IMG_0445

The Yogis, relaxing and shopping

IMG_0447

Lisa, (left) is our instructor and Teena (right) also teaches in the Seattle area.

IMG_0446

IMG_0356

 

 

And I am now thinking about what to prepare for the last week in June, when I will head back for the next, and final, retreat. Any suggestions??