Saturday, September 17, 2016

Bloedel Reserve

We have lived on the Olympic Peninsula for a little over five years and still have so much to see and experience.  One place on our list was the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island.  The garden is known as one of the most beautiful and it certainly did not disappoint us.  Finally made the 40 mile drive (I know, so close) a few days ago.  One of those days that starts off with a cloudy marine layer and burns away to a cloudless blue sky.  (Note:  All photographs are from the Bloedel Reserve website.  Saw all of the views, but my photos just do not do it justice.)

Bloedel Reserve is 150 acres with a two-mile walk through meadows, woods, marshes, bridges and boardwalks.  You emerge from the woods to a lushly landscaped pond complete with an enormous weeping willow and beyond a building which was the Bloedels' home from 1951 to 1986 (Read the Bloedel's family story on their website.   Interesting read).  I loved the house just as much as the gardens.  Not only are there views from the house of the woods and gardens, but also a bluff overlook of Port Madison Bay.  Spectacular.

The Reserve also includes a serene Japanese sand and stone garden, Japanese pond garden, and Japanese tea house.  This looks like a perfect spot to sit on a bench and sketch.  If only as an excuse to sit and meditate your surroundings for a few more hours.

A fairy-like moss garden literally carpeting the ground with over 50 types. 

This place is a world to itself.  Highly recommend seeing, if you get the chance.  I would like to plan a couple more visits to experience a winter and spring landscape.  Yes, this is definitely worth a repeat trip.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Good Eats - #3 Smoked Salmon Chowder (4th Sunday of the Month)

Our favorite restaurant locally has to be Kokopelli's in Port Angeles.  Along with many tasty entrees, they make a fabulous smoked salmon chowder.  I love clam chowder, but this is even better.  After a few tries, we were able to "kopy kat" the recipe and now we have it every 4th Sunday of the month.

Lots of salmon comes through our front door here on the O Peninsula (although this year has been a little skimpy) either from a good fishing trip or from friends.  A good portion of the fish is smoked by the husband and used either in a salmon spread for appetizers or in the smoked salmon chowder.  Every effort is made to use local, fresh ingredients.

Smoked Salmon Chowder

2 cups of small red potatoes, cut into quarters (Nash's Organic Produce, if we are lucky)
1 stick of butter (Sunny Farms Grocery carries a local butter)
1/4 cup diced onion (an eastern Washington treat is the Walla Walla onion, but Nash's for a good wanna-be)
1/4 cup flour  (Nash's actually grinds their own.  I kid you not!)
1 cup of smoked salmon (in pieces and de-boned)
1 tsp salt to taste (Sequim Tea and Spice shop fills my container with coarse sea salt)
16 oz Half and Half (or whole milk)  (Dungeness Creamery is about 2 miles down the road)
several diced stalks of celery (Nash's)

Place potatoes in saucepan and cover with water, cook on medium heat until tender.  (If I am feeling lazy, I let the potatoes cook on low in the slow cooker until they are tender.)  Remove potatoes from heat, drain and set aside.  In 2 quart saucepan on medium low heat to melt butter, add diced onions and celery, cook until onions are slightly clear.  Add flour to butter and stir briskly.  Mixture will start to thicken.  Add half and half a little at a time while stirring briskly.  Mixture should be creamy and thick.  Place salt, salmon, and potatoes in mixture.  Simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring often.

Serve with crusty bread for dipping.  I know dipping is not well-mannered at the dinner table, but let's keep it real.


Saturday, August 27, 2016

No Waste Wednesday - #43 Homemade Lotion Version 2

Several years ago, I posted a "recipe" for homemade lotion containing beeswax, olive oil and essential oils.  It was great for getting rid of dry skin.  BUT.  It was sticky and greasy.  I found I used it more as a lip balm and nail cuticle softener rather than overall skin lotion. (See original post here from May 2013: )

Still determined to find a homemade lotion I loved, it was finally discovered in the Autumn edition of Willow and Sage magazine, page 10-13, by Lia Griffith.  Only three ingredients-- Aloe Vera Gelly, (6 oz.) fractionated coconut oil (1.5 oz.) and the essential oil of your choice.  I was skeptical when I bought the gelly and oil.  Both are clear.  But, when you whisk them together, it all turns fluffy and creamy white.  I add tangerine and vanilla oil for my scent (another blend for fall/winter is in order).  I think another batch for hubby with a bay rum scent will work nicely.  This stuff is not greasy at all and he actually likes it minus the girly scent.

Adding up the price of ingredients, the cost was about $10 for 16 oz. I can probably get the cost way down if I buy the gelly in a bigger bottle, but I wanted to test before committing to a large volume.  And I love that you can personalize the scent with essential oils and no un-needed plastic bottles (I reuse a glass container and canning jars).  If I believe the hype on aromatherapy, then the essential oil is an added healthy benefit of the lotion too.

A keeper!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

International and Domestic

On the domestic front, our kitchen remodel is almost complete.  The project took six weeks rather than the planned three.  Washing the dishes in the laundry room sink is not my idea of a good time.  Will post pictures soon.  Really loving the whole look and function.

Because we have been putting in so much effort and money into our new home, there is not much left to travel (time and money).  But, that is not stopping us from making plans.  Portugal seems like a very interesting place and we are looking into the Rick Steves' tour of Portugal for the Spring of 2018. 

The biggest downside to overseas travel for both of us has been the effect of jet lag.  It can almost ruin the trip. Even planning two extra days before the actual tour does not seem to get us past it.  But, we have a plan.  Met a fellow last December in Puerto Vallarta who travels extensively and he shared that jet lag has the same effect on him.  He has found a solution.  Rather than flying to his overseas destination, he travels on a relocating cruise ship crossing the Atlantic.  Taking 10 to 14 days, you are able to slowly get used to the time change.  The cost of the cruise is approximately the same as a one-way business class ticket.

So, our plans will include a transatlantic cruise in mid-April embarking in Miami and disembarking into Lisbon, Portugal.  Fingers crossed for making this work for us in a year and a half.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Boutique Closet

If you read previous posts on my downsizing efforts, you will know that I subscribe to the minimal clothing movement, Project 333.  And I do TRY to maintain a total of 33 items of clothing (exception is workout clothing and intimates).  What was odd, though, was having a large walk-in closet and our clothing volume only took up a fraction of the space.  Because my wardrobe is geared toward a capsule approach (all pants and tops color and style interchange), I found it was often handy to have a hook to put an outfit together.  And although the husband does not necessarily put together an "outfit", I would often hear a yell from the closet, "Do these pants work with this shirt!?". 

Given all of the above, it was decided eliminating the traditional rods and replacing them with a retail face-out rod would work well for us.  And it does!  Our little walk-in has a neat boutique look to it and I have preassembled outfits for the day which can easily be reassembled into a different look, if wanted.  The man clothes have the pants with a coordinating shirt.  No more yelling from the closet.

You are probably wondering where the shoes are?  Since we have downsized linen needs (extra towels, sheets), the traditional linen closet located in the master bath is now a shoe closet. There are more rods are either side of the closet that you can't see in the photos, but you get the general idea.

The husband installed track lighting with each light pointing to a particular rod.  Looks very much like an upscale little shop.

There are still a few adjustments needed like cuter hooks for purses, repainting and more stylish baseboards; but I am so excited about the new function of our master closet I had to share.

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Guy Has An Eye

Why is it a photo can point out all the flaws with a space?  Taking one look at the master bath photo I posted yesterday, my husband mentioned that the vanity looked a little blah.  "Maybe put the tall vase with the tropical arrangement on the vanity for some height and color?" 

He was right.  The room has a little more flair now.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Master Bath Remodel

The first room in our new home to get a total remodel was the master bath (except the shower--will do another year--replacing the fiberglass stall with tile and frame less glass door).  The berber carpet was replaced with rectangle dark gray tile, a white double sink vanity, marble counter, and oval mirrors.

The vanity has a feel of separate furniture rather than built-in.  

A corner tall cabinet matching the white vanity is on the opposite wall.  It holds all the extras we need and gives the small room a balanced feel.  

The overall house style outside and in is cottage meets northwest and the white vanity with clean linear lines seems to fit right in with this theme.  The look is clean and fresh.  A pop of color with brick red and olive green on the floor completes the look.
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