Thursday, September 22, 2016

Seattle, land of bounty


As I walked off the plane, I was greeted by a crisp, cool hug from the air around me. After a storybook descent into a land of green isles and peninsulas enveloped by deep blue seas, I kept thinking, "Life! This place breeds life!" 

In summary, Seattle knows how to grow stuff. Grapes fall from shaded awnings, full pumpkins pop up unexpectedly in backyards, $5 flower bouquets are so bright and full, they put most $40 bouquets to shame. And the green. Oh, the green. So much green, everywhere. So much bounty. 


{Skyline view from the ferry to Bainbridge Island}

{Gawking at referenced $5 bouquets}  

 {Happily accepting kisses I usually have to steal}


{Curing toddler wiggles at Pike Place Market}


{Bainbridge Island giggle fits} 



{#bringthekids}

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Wholeness

I've had this tab open for several days because I don't want to forget this quote. If I had found it in a magazine, I would have cut it out and pasted it on my refrigerator. But since webpages are the new magazines, I suppose blogs are the new refrigerators? 
I actually attack the concept of happiness. The idea that—I don't mind people being happy—but the idea that everything we do is part of the pursuit of happiness seems to me a really dangerous idea and has led to a contemporary disease in Western society, which is fear of sadness. It's a really odd thing that we're seeing people saying "write down three things that made you happy today before you go to sleep" and "cheer up" and "happiness is our birthright" and so on. We're kind of teaching our kids that happiness is the default position. It's rubbish. Wholeness is what we ought to be striving for and part of that is sadness, disappointment, frustration, failure; all of those things which make us who we are. Happiness and victory and fulfillment are nice little things that also happen to us, but they don't teach us much. Everyone says we grow through pain and then as soon as they experience pain they say, "Quick! Move on! Cheer up!" I'd like just for a year to have a moratorium on the word "happiness" and to replace it with the word "wholeness." Ask yourself, "Is this contributing to my wholeness?" and if you're having a bad day, it is.     
- Hugh MacKay, author of The Good Life 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Moab, Utah & Arches National Park


Petra and I have been doing a lot of traveling this summer, with even more to come. Last week, we met up with the Fishback clan in Moab for some summer fun and hiking beauty. Southern Utah always blows me away with its impressive, majestic red rock. Arches helped me tick off #4 for me of Utah's "Big 5" National Parks. We spent two days doing short hikes with the kids, then on the third day, Nana watched all the kids while the rest of the adults did the "Delicate Arch" hike. Delicate Arch is the arch you see on many Utah license plates. Unlike many of the other arches in the park, it stands alone without much else around it, making it look very impressive and a bit mind-boggling. 

When I first became a Fishback, I was not a hiker, but I quickly learned that if I wanted to remain a Fishback, I needed to become one. It took a few years, but I can honestly say that I love hiking now. It's such a pure and rewarding way to appreciate nature and give thanks to the gorgeous world we live on.

Aside from hiking, we also had lots of good ole summer fun in the yard of the house we were staying in with a slip n' slide, snow cones, and a lake not too far away.  

{The cutest hiking buddy!} 

{Double Arch}


{The Fishbacks + a few random kids in the back - Bradford}


 {I love how Bennett is going at his older cousins with the hose. No mercy!}

{Wet kids in swimsuits!}


{Hiking up to Delicate Arch} 



{First sight of Delicate Arch after rounding the corner}


{The gang at the top!} 



Monday, June 27, 2016

Chidambaram & Thanjavur, India

I miss India. I think I will always miss it and long for it's intensity, humility, and brilliance. India (and Nepal) really brought home how lucky I am to have been born into the circumstances I was. Each day is a gift in my life because I have drinking water, a toilet to sit on, and a bed to sleep on.

We visited a lot of temples in India, and each one showed a different perspective, beauty, or intrigue. In Thanjavur, we visited the Brahadeeswara Temple, established in 1011 AD. I wish I could let you experience the feeling of walking into the inner sanctums of these temples and receiving pooja (a blessing) from the priest...the dirt floors, the bare feet, the acceptance, the humility, the belief.

{Chidambaram}

At Chidambaram, I witnessed a scene that really helped illustrate India's caste system and culture that still pervades today despite the technically illegal nature of discriminating people by castes. The man you see below was so frail, old, and weak. He dutifully transferred this pile of wood to the inside of the temple, using nothing but a short cloth to wrap them. All the while, a group of stout, young, able-bodied priests sat inside collecting donations and eating sweets. I blame the wood gatherer as much as the priests for this imbalance. He has accepted his life's fate and done nothing to try to change his lot in life, rather waiting till reincarnation for his situation to change. 

{man gathering sticks for fire at Chidambaram}

{Brahadeeswara Temple}


Whenever I feel discomfort in America, I think of an Indian bus station, and then I feel better again. 







Monday, May 2, 2016

Tzatziki Sauce


I've made one of those new-to-me discoveries that has totally been a game changer in my kitchen...tzaziki sauce! I pretty much eat it by the spoonful, but it also goes well with chicken, fresh vegetables, fish, rice. It just adds that perfect creamy yet fresh touch to so many Mediterranean-style meals and gives an otherwise simple plate a spark.

Tzaziki Sauce
From: RecipeTin Eats
Yield: about 2 cups
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Meld Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

2 cucumbers
2 cups plain Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar (or red wine or apple cider vinegar)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (or more if you want it richer)
1 teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise. Use a teaspoon to scrape the watery seeds out. Coarsely grate the cucumber using a box grater. (Be very areful when you get to the end, don't cut your finger!) Then wrap in paper towels or a tea towel to remove excess liquid.

Place cucumbers in a bowl. Add remaining ingredients then mix to combine. Set aside for at least 20 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.

Add to just about any grilled meat or vegetable dish and enjoy!

Friday, April 22, 2016

A Weekend in Newport Beach with A Baby

Last weekend, Petra and I took a road trip to Newport Beach. Travel is obviously something very important to Bradford and me, and we both so looking forward to sharing new places and experiences with our children. "Vacations" with a 1-year-old don't really exist, however exploration and excitement seems to be at an all-time high when you take a child somewhere new. Petra was so amped the whole weekend, hardly napping, and we had such a great time with family enjoying the gorgeous California coast that I love and miss so much. 

We stayed at Marriott's Newport Coast Villas, which is a really great spot for families. They have suites with a full kitchen, great play areas and daily activities for kids, and it's within walking distance of Crystal Cove State Park, which has great tide pools for exploring and adventuring. 






Monday, February 29, 2016

The Best Chocolate Birthday Cake



Petra turned one last week and we had a perfect, small celebration with family. I was beyond excited to make her birthday special, including baking this seriously delicious chocolate cake with vanilla bean buttercream frosting (and hot pink sprinkles!). I think I will be making this cake for every celebration I host from now on. It is moist, rich, and SUPER easy to make. We devoured it so quickly that the only picture I snapped was from the next day when there was only one slice left.

The Best Chocolate Birthday Cake
Yield: one whole cake
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 30 minutes
Cool Time: 1 hour
Total Time: about 2 hours

INGREDIENTS:

1 pkg. devil's food cake mix
3 oz. pkg. instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of sea salt
2 cups semi-sweet mini chocolate chips (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray cake pan(s) with non-stick cooking spray. 

Beat together all ingredients until smooth batter forms, reserving the chocolate chips if using. 

Mix in the chocolate chips with a rubber spatula. 

Pour batter into cake pan(s) and bake according to the time directions given on the cake mix box (30 minutes for a traditional round cake). 

Let cool completely before slicing each layer in half and frosting with Vanilla Bean Buttercream frosting.

*I'd also like to try this with this Best Ever Chocolate Frosting recipe sometime.