4.20.2015

Hike at Carbon River in Mt. Rainier National Park

This weekend was GORGEOUS!  We spent the majority of our Saturday hiking in Mt. Rainier National Park.  Did you know that Saturday started National Park Week?  We didn't either, but were able to park and hike for free this weekend.

For us, we had sunny weather in the upper 60's, lower 70's for most of the weekend.  Here are a few pictures from our great 11.5 mile hike.

The one-lane bridge we had to go over to get to the Carbon River Ranger Station. 

At the Carbon River Ranger Station before our hike.  This station is 2.5 miles from the parking area and trailhead.

Kevin at the Mt. Rainier sign near the trailheads.

A few miles into our hike, we just can't believe how big some of the trees are.  The entire hike is through old growth forests.

We hike 0.3 mile uphill hike from the main trail to check out an old mine.

Another hike 1 mile uphill and off the mail trail is Ranger Falls.  The picture really doesn't do it justice.  This thing was pretty tall!

Again, this picture makes it look not as grand as it was.  It looks like it is right behind us, but it is a good 50 yards away.

We continue along the trail that brought us to the Ranger Falls and along the way we cross a stream on this little bridge.

Along this path we also saw some old trees that had fallen over the years.  I'm touching the root system of one and the root system alone was about 2.5 times my height.

At the end of our hike we make it to Green Lake.  Across the water is snow.  Actually, some of the only snow we've seen in person this year.  The lake indeed has a green tint to it, but from the furthest log we could climb to, you can see down over 60 feet deep.  We were the only ones at the time on the lake, so it felt pretty cool to have it all to ourselves.  Too bad it wasn't swimming weather!

Green Lake


A view into the lake.  So clear and green.  No fish to be seen or aquatic birds, but plenty of water bugs.

We were pretty tired the rest of our hike back.  With only fruit for breakfast that morning and a large apple each for lunch, we were in need of some serious fuel!  This was the cross-section of a fallen tree, which was my arm span (I'm about 5'5").  Wish I could have stayed to count the rings!

After our hike we pass back through the small historic town of Wilkeson.  The old buildings on the main drag made it seem like an old western town.

After a stop for a beer at the local historic saloon, we were on our way to grab some food in town and go home... for an amazing night's sleep.
Health and Happiness,

Amy


4.15.2015

Meet our First House

As I mentioned in my last update post, we are going through the process of buying our first house.  This was exciting, and really frustrating at times.  Without getting into too many gory details, we found that the housing market for buyers in our area is very competitive.  Before we found our house and had our offer accepted, we had tried unsuccessfully to put offers in on four other houses.  For the four we tried, we were beaten out by higher offers, some of which were cash.  Very hard to compete with that when you are a first time home buyer.

When we viewed our house, it was the only one we were interested in that was by appointment only with the owners.  We ended up being the only ones to see it before we put in our offer, and had our offer accepted the next day.  It is a lovely, updated, and well maintained two story home with three bedrooms and two and a half baths.  And the backyard... is amazing!!!  There are three things that I have been most excited for in a house: having a craft room, having a nice kitchen, and having a yard where I can grow all things lovely and/or edible.  With this house, I am getting all three!  Let me share a few pictures with you...

Our adorable house with a large lilac bush in the front as well as some lavender bushes.

My new kitchen!  It has lovely lighter-stained cabinets, a tile countertop and backsplash, a deep two sided porcelain sink, a pot and pan rack on the far wall, a spice rack on the left wall, a window looking out over the backyard, as well as a newer dishwasher, gas stovetop, convection oven/microwave, and nice fridge.  The french doors in this picture lead off to the family/TV room, which will be perfect for cooking and watching football games in the fall.  The paint color is a bit bright for my tastes, so I am hoping to paint not too long after we move in.

A closer view of the pots and pan rack.  I'm not sure my miss-matched pots and pans will look quite as nice as their matching set.

A view from the other direction of my kitchen.  I just love the tiling detail that they chose!

This is the view walking into the backyard from the family room slider.  There is a long pergola that has three different types of grapes that grow.  I'm not sure what I will do with all of the grapes come fall, but I'm hoping to learn how to make preserves and perhaps some wine.  To the left of the extended pergola is our covered detached deck, which the appraisal report called a cabana... so that is what we will forever call it.  I can just imagine thinking this summer, "I can't wait to go home from work and have a glass of wine under my cabana."

Here is another view of the pergola and "cabana".  Ha!  Cabana... I just can't get over it.

Beside the house is a nice area for a planter bench as well as the tranquil pond that will be staying.  Four little fish come with it, and I was told not to name them because fish always seem to go belly up once you name them.  But, seriously, how can I not name them?  I'm someone who names squirrels and ducks that I see in my head on a regular basis.  That is, in my head I name them... not that I'm seeing imaginary critters.

Here is the planter box to the right of the pergola.  I'm hoping to make this one my herb garden this summer.  The trees lining the fence include Rainier and bing cherries, Asian pears, plums, hazelnuts, walnuts, and a four way apple tree.  On the other side of the yard that I don't have any pictures of is another identical planter which I will do tomato plants, green onions, carrots, and some kale.  Around the outter edge on the other side is also three types of raspberries, one type of blackberry, and two types of strawberries.  On the left fense edge is bamboo that has been trained to make a partition for a private garden section.

A more professional picture of the backyard from the right side.

One more picture, from which you can see the bamboo and planter on the farther side.
I hope to be bringing you recipes from my new kitchen as well as showing you all my garden progress through the spring and summer!

Health and Happiness,

Amy

4.13.2015

Update from Amy

My goodness, how the time has flown!  It has been nearly two months since I've checked in, and a lot has happened since.  I had mentioned a little while back that we had goals of saving for and buying a house, well... that day has come and gone.  We started looking for houses in late February with the help of Kevin's dad who is a realtor in a town two hours away.  After looking for several weeks, trying unsuccessfully to put offers in on four different houses, we found the house and had our offer accepted the next day!

We are currently in escrow and getting ready to close before the end of the month.  In the meantime, I've been slowly boxing up our apartment (Kevin thinks I'm crazy because he prefers to pack the day before in absolute chaos.  On our last move we had to pack and move in two days, so I'm determined to have my long, organized, well boxed up move this time!).  We have also been traveling to and from Spokane (my hometown where we moved from 8 months ago) for friend's birthdays and most recently a bridal shower.

During the last few weeks, we have also been going through having a family member of Kevin's have heart issues and a quadruple bypass surgery.  Because of this, I was finally able to have Kevin watch Forks Over Knives, which I have long felt would be the most efficient and convincing way to get him to change up his bad eating habits.  We watched it together alone, and then later that week with his family member before their surgery.  The combination of seeing a loved one go through these issues and considering the documentary, Kevin made bigger changes than I've ever seen him make towards his health.

He is now eating plant-based with mostly fruit, vegetables, beans, and whole grains along with hitting the gym and being more active.  He has told me that he doesn't plan to completely cut out anything from his diet, but will have his favorites (burgers, pizza, sandwiches) rarely.  For him, I think it is the idea that he can have those things if he chooses that will keep him going.  I couldn't be happier.

During our visit to Spokane this last weekend, we enjoyed a long hike to the top of a small mountain with my parents, and kept to eating plant-based.  My nutritarian mom was thrilled to have Kevin eat her meals while we were visiting.  She made sure to include extra broccoli in the chickpea teriyaki we had for my broccoli-loving husband.  She also made her delicious waffles before we headed home on Sunday (recipe here).



Isn't my puppy just adorable!?  I miss her and my parents a lot!

Near the end of our visit, on Sunday, Kevin visited with our friends, Dannielle and Ian, who are getting married in two months, while I fit in time to see another dear friend.  Kevin talked to them about his changes and his family member that was going through surgery.  Once Kevin left they too watched Forks Over Knives and sent us the following pictures of their fridge, saying that they are going to give it a shot!  Kevin and Ian now have a challenge going on to weigh in each week up until their wedding in June.  If one of them quits the progress, the other will get to pick their 3rd round draft pick in Fantasy Football.  (For those who don't play.... it would be really bad to have a kicker or defense picked for you so early.)  It's fun to see their motivation!

Dannielle and Ian's fridge after clearing out the bad.

Dannielle and Ian's garbage with all the no-no's.
(I bet that salsa was old, because it is fine in my book and they got more of it in the picture below.)

Their fridge after stocking up from shopping.  Look at all those colors and all the green on the bottom shelf!!!

Here is their full countertop of delicious produce!
Rather than be competitive, I think Dannielle and I will take a more encouraging route by sending snapchats of our meals to each other.  Just like everyone, they have their own challenges of making changes and sticking to them, including very busy work and social lives.  I'm so excited to see them start this and am looking forward to cheering them on through their progress.  More than anything, I am dancing around with happiness that I might not be the only lone nutritarian in my age group of friends!

The next few weeks will be just as busy as the last two months have been in preparing for moving to our first house.  I'm hoping once the move settles down (and I have my own space for an office/craft room), I will be able to post more and share some recipes I've been loving lately.


Health and Happiness,

Amy