Summer forever

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Thanks again, Michigan, for another lovely summer.  I hope I see you again next year.

Coming to an end

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Paw Paw, MI. August 2014.

You’re ever welcome with me

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Paw Paw, MI. August 2014.

Rain rain rain came down down down

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Rainy little day trip to Holland, MI. August 2014.

Tilting at windmills

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Daytrip to visit the De Zwaan windmill in Holland, MI. August 2014.

While our leaves are still green

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Paw Paw, MI. August 2014.

Canoe racing

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What would a lakeside holiday be without a few friendly canoe races?

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Al fresco every night

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Lakeside accessories

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Who needs bangles or sandals when you can accessorize your cut offs with a fish cleaning knife?

Wanderings: Michigan summers

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There is nothing like a Michigan summer.  I’ve spent part of the summer there for six of the last nine years, sometimes for just a few days and sometimes for months at a time.  It’s a magical place and I was happy to be back again this summer, staying on the same peninsula as last year, this time with a few additional friends.  We canoed, cooked, swam, overslept, and generally forgot about all our worries back home.  For the next few days, I’ll be sharing some memories of those lazy lakeside days.

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It’s Friday, I’m in love

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Don’t you love short weeks?  I’m happy for another weekend, as well as a little break from the steamy weather we’ve been having lately.  We’re planning to see a few friends, and if it isn’t too rainy, catch a ballgame.  If we do get rained out, I’ll just try to brighten things up indoors by picking up a few blossoms, like these lovely yellow and red Butterfly Weeds that I got last weekend from the Women’s Coop in Bethesda.

Hope you have a great weekend!

[Edit 8:30am]  Turns out my flowers lived up to their name!  After almost a week on our dining room table, I suddenly noticed two giant caterpillars munching away on the leaves!  Those little guys got set free outside before I left for work, but I’m sure their new bush is nowhere near as tasty as my flowers.

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Rooftop picnic

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Summer’s not quite gone yet and on a recent lazy Saturday afternoon, we decided to take advantage of the remaining warm weather by having a romantic rooftop picnic.  I picked up baguettes, a bottle of rosé, and a couple of cheeses from on my way back from ballet class, and the Mister cut up ripe peaches and heirloom tomatoes from the farmers market.  We toted all of it up to our building’s roof deck, and spent a few hours picnicking and enjoying the breeze and the sunset, and a little quiet time together.

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A Madison wedding

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It’s hard to articulate how overwhelmed with love I felt on this day.  For the happy couple, for the city of Madison, and most of all for the wonderful friends gathered there.  Ending every night dancing and singing in a big circle of hugs with these people would be my idea of bliss.

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Dinner at the Tornado Room

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A few shots from an amazing dinner at the Tornado Room Steakhouse. Fantastic food and an oh-so-cool setting to celebrate the love of two dear friends.  We felt so lucky to be included.

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Labor Day

Hoping you are all having a lovely three-day weekend filled with watermelon, naps, and good friends!

It’s Friday, I’m in love

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A long weekend is upon us and we have big plans to do… not much.  We’re staying in town and planning to spend three days taking naps, working through our Netflix queue, and having a few romantic picnics on the roof-deck.  It sounds pretty dreamy to me.

Have a great weekend!

Photo from Madison, WI.  July 2014.

Eating well in Madison

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To be honest, most of the hype we’d heard about Madison over the years was about food.  The amazing restaurants, the sprawling farmer’s market, and, most exciting of all, the cheese curds.  We got off our plane with big ideas about the food scene, and Madison did not disappoint.  Here’s a short list of some of the fantastic places we managed to experience.

  • Forequarter – New American.  Great cocktails and incredible charcuterie board.  Bonus – they catered the wedding we attended, so we got to enjoy them twice.
  • Graze – New American.  If you want the BiBimBop just get the BiBimBop.  You’ll regret if you don’t.
  • The Tipsy Cow – Very good bar food.  Fried avocado tacos and cheese curds made my day.
  • The Old Fashioned – American/bar food.  I went here twice late at night.  The cheese curds were great both times.
  • Francisco’s Cantina – Mexican.  Chorizo tacos and cold horchata hit the spot late in the evening.
  • Tornado Steakhouse – Steakhouse (obvs.)  We got to try this one as invitees to the rehearsal dinner.  Great steaks, great cocktails. AMAZING ambiance.  This place was so so cool.
  • Fromagination – Artisinal cheese shop.  We stopped here to put together a picnic before the symphony on the public square.  We tried a nice variety of ripe french cheeses and sharp Wisconsin cheese, plus grapes and flaky baguettes.
  • Madison Farmers Market – Saturdays.  One of the biggest farmers markets I’ve ever been to, it spreads around the entire capital square with food cars overflowing onto nearby streets.  Walk around until you find the spicy cheesy, pull-apart bread.  Buy it hot, eat it right away.

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Year one

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Tonight I’ll be raising a glass to celebrate the year that’s gone by since I first created this little space to share photos.    This project has been so amazingly satisfying both as a creative outlet, and, surprisingly to me, as a sort of visual diary of an incredible year.  To my Mister, my family, and friends, both in real life and those I’ve met here: thank you so much for your support, encouragement and friendship. Here’s to year two.

A few of my favorite posts from the last twelve months:

Photo from Paris, April 2014.  Taken by my mother.

B-cycling Madison

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Summer in the Midwest is gorgeous, so on our visit to Madison, we decided to skip the car rentals and get around town using B-Cycle, Madison’s bikesharing program.  I regularly use Capital Bikeshare in DC as part of my daily commute, so I was pretty excited to try a similar program while exploring another city, especially since most of the wedding events and restaurants we wanted to try were within a few miles of our downtown hotel.

Madison was sunny and breezy during our stay, perfect weather to ride down the bike and bus only State Street and explore the University of Wisconsin campus.   We made our way out to the Arboretum to admire the lily-pads and tall grasses waving alongside Lake Wingra.  Later we rode the bike trails along Lake Monona back into downtown and all the other bicycle commuters made us feel like locals.  After a quick freshening up, we hopped on bikes again to ride out to a restaurant on the other side of the isthmus for dinner, stopping to drop off our bikes and watch the sunset on Lake Mendota.

Though Madison doesn’t have quite as many bike stations as DC, but we never found it much of a problem to make it between stations within the 30 minute check-out period.  The B-Cycle bikes are a little sturdier and less rickety than the ones I ride in DC, which is great, but the best part of the experience was the amazing bike culture in Madison.  Most of the city had amazing bike lanes, and when we did have to share the road, drivers were so attentive, patient, and considerate.  The whole city was a cyclist’s dream and I only hope that someday DC will be as safe and stress-free place to bike.

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Wanderings: Madison

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Is there anything dreamier than the midwest in the summertime?  As a native-Texas, I grew up associating summer with broiling heat and dead dry grass, until I moved to Michigan in my mid-twenties, and realized how magical summer truely was in other parts of the world.

This year we had a couple of chances to visit the midwest, starting with a lovely trip to Madison, Wisconsin for the wedding of a very dear friend.  I’d been hearing amazing things about Madison for years and that lovely city lived up to every expectation.  I’ll be sharing more about our adventures there over the coming days.

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It’s Friday, I’m in love

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Hooray for the weekend!  Our summer of almost non-stop traveling has finally come to an end and we’ll be spending more time at home until late-September.  It’s been an amazing time, full of friends, food and adventure, and I have lots of photos to share over the coming weeks.

In the meantime, I’m hoping to catch a few naps, have some cuddle time with my guy, and savor the late-summer offerings at my local farmers market.

Hope you have a great weekend!

Farewell, Seattle

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Until next time, lovely city

Seattle, WA. July 2014.

She sailed across the sea

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Our last night in Seattle was about as dreamy and perfect a farewell to the city as I could imagine.  Our thoughtful hosts were taking another group out on their 50 ft sailboat, and offered us a few spots on the boat.  We jumped at the chance and invited a couple of local friends we’d been trying to meet up with.

We five friends met up first on our boat to enjoy a few drinks on the deck, then grabbed a bottle of wine and a few sweaters, and hopped across the marina to board the ketch-style Armadillo.  As we set out, for the first time since we’d arrived, the gray cloud cover cleared and we had a nice view of Mt. Rainier.

For the next three hours we sailed around Elliott Bay, eventually stopping to eat dinner on the deck while watching a perfect, golden sunset reflect off all the shiny glass buildings in downtown Seattle.  Later, on the way back to the marina, I was chatting with a friendly Dutch student who had seen bald eagles earlier that week, and 30 seconds later, one sped past the boat not twenty feet away.  I’d never seen a bald eagle in the wild and it was an exhilarating end to our PNW visit.

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I preferred the sea

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Bainbridge Island, Washington (State).  July 2014.

Beauty and the boat

2014.Seattle.47A little pedicure on the deck of our boat ♥

Essie’s Clambake.  Seattle, WA. July 2014.

It’s Friday, I’m in love

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Going through these photos from happy times in Seattle puts a smile on face, though I’m also excited for the next trip up on our plate.  This weekend we head back to Michigan for a getaway with dear friends.  We’re staying on the same tiny peninsula in the same little cabin, but this time more friends are joining us for a long weekend.  I have a special love for Michigan and I’m so excited to be back.

Hope you have a great weekend!

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Well beyond the waves

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Bainbridge Island, Washington State. July 2014.

Bainbridge Island

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Bainbridge Island, July 2014.

We learned the sea

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Morning ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island, July 2014.

So wide is my river

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Over the last few years, we’ve been using Airbnb to find great, affordable places to stay when we travel.  Typically, we try to find charming, quiet little apartments, but lately we’ve been reading articles about all of the airstreams, treehouses, and yurts that are available, and we decided it was time to try something a little less bread and butter.  So on our recent trip to Seattle, we paired up with a good friend who was coming to town for the same wedding and three of us stayed on a live-aboard boat!

Our boat, an 80 year-old wooden beauty, was docked in a private marina near a busy harbor south of downtown.  Some mornings you’d wake up in the gray, early-morning light to find the boat rocking gently from side-to-side and if you peeked out the window you might see a couple of tugboats lugging a giant barge loaded with shipping containers along the waterway.  Other times you’d be sitting out on the deck with a glass of wine and a young family would go rowing by in a little dinghy.  Our hosts even took us sailing on our last night in town.  I loved our brief life on the sea, and I can’t wait to see what other wonderful homes away from home await us.

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Seattle Public Library

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As an avid reader and non-practicing librarian, I couldn’t leave Seattle again without paying a visit to the flagship Central Branch of the Seattle Public Library.  Along with a few friends, we spent an hour or so exploring the stunning building, getting lost in the stacks, and riding the amazing neon yellow elevators.

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High as the flame will rise

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As a post-wedding treat, the bride and groom put together a little campfire on the beach at Puget Sound.  Happy to be together as long as possible, everyone gathered on the beach around the flames, watching the sun set behind the Olympic Mountains, toasting marshmallows, and trying to stretch out the evening, the laughter, the hugs and the togetherness just a little longer.

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A Seattle wedding

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A few of my favorite snaps from the wedding of our lovely friends in Seattle.

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Wanderings: Seattle

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We’re always happy when our friends fall in love with wonderful people and decide to get hitched.  More often than not, it means we get to travel for a wedding, and I can’t think of anything better than exploring another place but still being surrounded by good friends, especially when those friends are typically scattered around the country.

Late July saw us traveling to Seattle for just such a wedding, and we decided to take a little extra time off to explore the area, eat lots of great food, and hang out with our friends.  We slept on boats, traveled on boats, and sight-saw on boats and I’m already missing life on the water.  For the next few days, I’ll be sharing some memories from our PNW adventures.

Traveling north to find you

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It’s Friday, I’m in love

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East coast weekends have been few and far between this summer, but it’s been nice to explore other parts of the country.  There have been a couple of exceptions, like a brief, lovely visit to Breezy Point in Queens to see family.  We had cool and windy weather, and we basked in a few dramatic sunsets over Manhattan and Coney Island from the beach house deck.

This weekend is another one on the east coast, though again away from home.  We’re making a whirlwind trip up to the north shore of Massachusetts for a few family celebrations, and if we are lucky, some good seafood and a quick trip to the beach.  Fingers crossed.

Hope you have a great weekend!

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Those crazy days, city lights

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Feeling love for a summery New York City.  Photo taken from Breezy Point Bay, NY.

California love notes

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This is the last of my love letters to California, at least until late September when we’re scheduled to be back for another couple of weeks.  I already miss her rocky coastline and golden fields.  I want to buy avocados 9 for $1. I want to take long drives with the windows down and have the air switch back and forth from smelling like the salty sea to eucalyptus every few blocks.  I want to stuff myself silly with tacos, and then I want to burn a little in the sun, only to have the landscape taken over by rolling fog few minutes later.  I want to drink a bottle of local wine very slowly and sleep in late, all curled up against my Mister.  We have a bunch of other adventures lined up for this summer, but right now my heart belongs to the west coast.

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Russian River, stone skipper

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Oh, summer winds

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For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved the smell of lavender.  It’s in all my soaps and lotions, and I’d be happy to roll in fields of it rather than ever wearing perfume.  As a last minute treat, the Mister and I visited Matanzas Creek Winery, where we enjoyed an amazing wine and cheese pairing, but even more wonderfully, spent an hour wandering around the fields of lavender that grow on the estate grounds.  Thousands of bees buzzed happily amid the purple waves, and I was in bliss.

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When you and I were forever wild

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Dry Creek Valley

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Memories of a blazing hot summer day spent first touring the 115-year-old Lytton Springs estate of Ridge Vineyards, then retreating to a cool, private tasting room to enjoy local cheeses and some of Ridge’s best single-vineyard zinfandels.

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Wine and ride

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Sometimes one little planning oversight can derail your plans in the most wonderful of ways.  While we were in Sonoma, the Mister had put together a romantic day of biking from vineyard to vineyard, picking a few local gems that didn’t require reservations so we could linger if we felt like it or follow any detour that took our fancy.  Scribe Winery came highly recommended and we excitedly biked up their dusty gravel path, passing rows and rows of lush green vines.  When we approached the hostess, we were dismayed to learn that we’d misread the website: reservations were required and they were all booked up for the day.

We were out of breath from our ride, and I think the hostess took pity on us, offering a cool, generous pour of their Estate Reisling, and a Pendelton blanket to spread out in the grass and relax for a while.  We found a perfect shady spot on the hillside that looked out on the valley, and soon after the hostess sent over an icy carafe of water and a board of peaches, nuts, cheese, and olives.  As we sipped on the reisling, I looked at the Mister and proposed that we buy a bottle and stay on that hillside.  So for the next few hours we did just that.

It was cool and breezy in the shade, and it was a lovely change to get to know one good bottle of wine at it’s vineyard instead of a rushed sampling of five or six.  Partway through the bottle, I looked up and recognized an old friend from grad school, teaching her little daughter to roll down the hillside.  Laughing, we called out each others names and were so happy to get to meet the families we’d each built in the time since we’d last seen each other.

No amount of planning could have led to a vineyard visit quite like this, and I’m hopeful that this sort of happy mistake finds me a little more often.

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A little cottage by the valley vineyard

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There is a little cottage in a hot, green valley.  Far from home, I wake in it’s unfamiliar bed, a breeze from the open windows ruffling my hair.  With sleepy eyes, we brew coffee and pulled back the curtains from the doors.  With warm mugs, we shuffle out of the french doors onto a little porch where we settle into rocking chairs and sip the steaming coffee.  On all sides geraniums bloom in vivid reds and pinks, but we don’t look at them, because the sun is coming up over the mountain, filling the vineyard across the way with bouncy golden light, and it is just too pretty to look away.

Later we will unlock the bikes from the railing, and ride them from vineyard to vineyard, and to dinner with friends.  Then we’ll take a dangerous ride back on the unlit streets with no reflectors and no helmets, and it will be terrifying, but ultimately exhilarating, and we’ll feel a little like teenagers, breaking all the rules we usually follow so carefully.  But for now, we sit on the porch, and drink our coffee, and watch the sunlight fill the valley, wishing we could stay here forever.

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Wanderings: Sonoma

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As a belated birthday treat, the Mister planned a long-weekend escape to the Sonoma Valley.  The weekend was hot and dry, the sort of weather that forces you to slow down, drink slowly, and find quiet, shady hillsides to enjoy a cool bottle of wine and each other.  Sonoma was heaven.  Just my pace and everything I felt I’d been missing.  This week, I’ll share a few of my favorite memories.

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It’s Friday, I’m in love

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After one lovely, restful weekend at home, we’re heading back out on the road.  This time we have back-to-back wedding weekends out-of-state, so we’re spending the next few days catching up with the Mister’s good friends in the Pacific-northwest, and then with mine in the mid-west.  Here’s to an exciting week of travel.

Have a great weekend!

Drive fast, go north

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Traveling north on Route 1, where the cliffs rise straight out of the sea, the air smells like strawberries, and the sunny skies are suddenly overtaken with a rolling wave of fog.  West coast summer, I love you so.

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I didn’t hear the night song

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I take to the open road

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Last fall, I spent an amazing day biking around the Monterey peninsula while the Mister was stuck in class. It’s a foggy, otherworldly ride past twisted cypress and huge waves crashing along the rocky coast, and I was happy to have a chance to explore it again, this time with my guy by my side.  Here are some shots from our ride, starting in Cannery Row and making our way 11 miles out to the Lone Cypress and back again.

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Mission Ranch

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The views from brunch at Mission Ranch, in Carmel, CA.

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