It’s Friday, I’m in love

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Yay for a fall weekends!  While we are bummed to be missing out on one last west coast wedding and all the lovely people gathered there, it’s undoubtedly a gorgeous time of year to be stuck on the east coast.  We’re planning to rent a car and take a day trip to the Shenandoah Valley to enjoy the crisp weather and autumn colors.  If we’re lucky, maybe we’ll find a little fresh apple cider to enjoy along the way.

Hope you have a great weekend!

Eye Candy

Here are a few links to some of my favorite recent art and photography projects to get you through your Friday.

  • Artist Carol Milne “knits” with glass, and the resulting sculptures are impossibly beautiful.  [via This is Collossal]
  • Photographer Finn Beales was traveling in Iceland and has been sharing the most stunning nighttime shots of icy landscapes lit by the aurora borealis and a starry sky.  [Made by Finn]
  • Photographer Chrissie White’s work always makes me feel like I’m spying in on someone else’s fairy dreamscape. Loving her recent set, Call of the Wild.  [via Rookie Mag]
  • It’s always a good thing when photographers Jamie Beck and Kevin Berg visit Paris. [Ann Street Studio]

The mist on the mountain

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I love the foggy marine layer that comes in off the Pacific Ocean in central California.  Over the time we’ve spent here in the last year, we often find ourselves speaking of it as though it were a person, like some cross between a mythical creature and a grumpy but lovable townie.   It’s always present in some way; if not immediately engulfing us, then waiting and hovering on the horizon over the sea.  Will it let the sun in today, we wonder?  Will it crawl eerily up the mountain as we race against the light to get home?  Should we bring a sweater to protect against the damp cold it brings?  Or will it disappear for days at a time, leaving us wondering after it and missing its chilly, slithering form as it makes its way across the landscape?

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The road just rolls out behind me

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Big Sur, CA. October, 2014.

Tidefalls

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McWay Falls, Big Sur, CA.  October, 2014.

Wanderings: Big Sur

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Have you ever imagined what the edge of the world might look like?  With its creeping fog, and jagged mountains rising straight out of the sea, Big Sur seems impossible enough to be that place.  With cliffs too impossibly steep and crashing waves too impossibly wild, one feels like this place was meant to be a secret, open only to the strongest and most daring among us.  And yet, here is this road carved right into the mountainside, and here you are, a regular person, standing right at the edge of this cliff staring out at an unearned landscape that almost seems too beautiful to be real.

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I leave my rage to the sea and the sun

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Monterey, CA. October 2014.

Honey, I’ve gone away

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Los Angeles, CA. September, 2014.

A first taste

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Heading north from Los Angeles to Monterey, we drove along the scenic Pacific Coastal Highway through Big Sur.  We passed through as quickly as we could, not wanting to get stuck on the twisting mountain roads after dark and knowing that we would be back a week later to take it in more slowly.  But the sunsets undid us and the sight of the sea crashing up against the mountains was too much, and more often than we could help, we found ourselves pulling over to the side of the road, staring wide-eyed at the wild and rugged coast.

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Big Sur, CA.  September, 2014.

Graceful sleeper, you midnight dreamer

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Last week I biked out through the dunes east of the city with no particular plan and no real idea of what I would find.  A few spur of the moment turns off of the main path and I wound up here, acres and acres of ruby red on all sides.  Except for the sound of the crashing waves on the other side of the dunes, it was silent, and I stood alone, a little frightened and also a little bit happy, in this otherworldly dream-scape, just me and the creeping fog.

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Fort Ord Dunes State Park.  Monterey, CA. October, 2014.

The sea sang a love song

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Pacific Coast Highway near San Louis Obispo, CA.  September, 2014.

Wanderings: Venice Beach

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Something about Venice Beach just makes me want to grab a board and dive right into the waves.  I loved the sounds, the crashing waves, the throbbing music.  So much color, so many people, so much energy.  We only had a few pre-wedding hours to explore the neighborhood—-on foot, which is so amazing in LA.  Hopefully we’ll have some time this weekend to pay Venice Beach another visit.

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A Topanga Canyon wedding

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A few weekends ago, we made our way out to Topanga Canyon in the Santa Monica mountains, just west of Los Angeles, for the wedding of two of our lovely friends.  LA’s recent heat wave had finally broken that weekend, and everyone was super excited to reunite and celebrate the happy couple in a gorgeous field surrounded by oak trees and mountains.

In fact I had such a wonderful time chatting, eating Greek food, drinking champagne, and dancing non-stop for hours, that I completely forgot to get any photos of the bride and groom together.  Whoops!  I’m sure their super friendly photographers had it covered, but here are a couple of shots I did grab—probably during the one song I didn’t dance to over the whole evening.

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Stop and smell the cheeses

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Can we all just pause for a moment to remember how great cheese is?  Especially when it is ripe and oozy, and ready to expire.  Mmmmm.  Okay, back to work.

Wanderings: Minneapolis

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Work trips can be so amazing and so frustrating at the same time.  Mostly, you end up dropping into a new city just long enough to realize how amazing it is, but with little time to get to see much of it.  Sometimes, I’ll try to extend a trip with a day off or stay through the weekend, but it isn’t always possible, and sadly this was the case with my brief introduction to Minneapolis.

Within about an hour of arriving, I was in love with Minneapolis.  Once I’d gotten to my hotel, I had originally planned to rest for an hour or two and then meet colleagues for drinks and dinner, but the gorgeous Mill District I was staying in immediately caught my attention and I wandered out to have a look around.

The architecture of this neighborhood, running just west of the Mississippi River, was a fantastic mix of contemporary schools, museums, and theaters, and revitalized warehouse-to-your-house living spaces.  There were so many great restaurants and I was thrilled that my colleague wanted to try dinner at The Bachelor Farmer.

Afterwards, I spent $6 on a 24-hour pass to use Minneapolis’ bikesharing program, Nice Ride, and zipped around the neighborhood, taking in what I could, and wishing that I’d have some reason to come back soon and see more.

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A jar of summer

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Over the years we’ve had fun teaching ourselves to preserve our favorite summer foods with a little help from Youtube and my grandmother’s Ball Blue Book.  We’ve canned peaches, jammed and jellied strawberries and cherries, and had fun pickling cucumbers and red onions.  However much fun, canning can also be a lot of work, and over the last couple of summer seasons, we decided that biggest pay-off came from canning tomatoes.

There is nothing as wonderful to me as a summer tomato, and canning means that even in darkest winter, when all the tomatoes in the grocery store are mealy and flavorless, we’re able to open up a bright, delicious jar of summer.  We usually set aside a Saturday, order a bushel of seconds from our regular farmer, and roll up our sleeves.

Last year we were caught up in so much summer travel that we decided to skip canning, and as winter wore on and on (and on and on), we grew sadder and sadder that we hadn’t made the time to put up our usual jars.  That was a mistake we didn’t plan to make again, so on one of the only weekends we spent at home this summer, we spent the whole day blanching and peeling and boiling and sealing.  This year, a friend who wanted to learn came and pitched in.  We wore him out, but in the end we are ready to take on the winter armed with 24 jars full of summer goodness (and 12 for our friend).

Do you ever can your favorite summer foods?

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California, I’m coming home

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I’ve missed you my lovely, western coastline.  We’re back in California for another multi-week stint, and I couldn’t be happier.  Last weekend we spent a few days in LA attending a wedding and visiting with friends and family.  On the agenda for the rest of the trip are Big Sur, a visit to Joshua Tree, quiet weekdays in Monterey, and one more brief visit to LA before flying home.

Hope you have a great weekend!

She swam in the river, she sang with the birds

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Rockport, MA. August, 2014.

Stay there, I’ll be coming over

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Pretty jewel-colored kayaks, all lined up and ready for an adventure.

Rockport, Massachusetts. August, 2014.

House by the sea

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Do you dream of a house by the sea?  I do.  A cozy little cottage made of stone or covered in weather-beaten shingles.  It would sit on a hill, surrounded by a lush garden full of herbs and over-grown flowers.  The air would always be just chilly enough to need a cozy sweater, and you could drink your tea, and look out over a gray and rocky shore.

Whenever I’m visiting little coastal towns, I’m looking for this house.  Sometimes I find it, sometimes I don’t, but always I’m imagining myself there.

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Wanderings: Rockport

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It’s Friday, I’m in love

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Hectic weeks can be exhausting but so rewarding!  I spent a few days traveling in the Midwest for work, and now I’m back in California for another west coast wedding!  I just love it here so much and I’m happy to be seeing so many friends and excited to spend a little time exploring Venice Beach, before heading up to Monterey.  California, I just love you so much; almost as much as the gorgeous sunflowers we saw while driving around on little roads in Massachusetts.   Those sunny blooms are just like my mood these days.

Have a great weekend!

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Merrily merrily merrily

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Can I row away in one of these brightly colored boats? Rockport, August 2014.

Old Burying Ground

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A rainy afternoon visit to the Old Burying Ground in Ipswich, Massachusetts.  The beautiful carvings on these old slate tombstones, some of them over three-hundred and fifty years-old, are straight out of an Edward Gorey storybook.

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The Clam Box

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Traveling to Massachusetts in the summer means fried clams and onion rings, and for the Mister, no place place sings their siren song sweeter than the Clam Box in Ipswich, Massachusetts.  As a teenagers, he and his brother had jobs as onion boys (onion ring makers), and even now, whenever we visit someone working in the kitchen recognizes him.

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Wanderings: The North Shore

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The Mister grew up on the North Shore of Massachusetts and we went for a little family visit this summer.  I love the rocky, marshy coastal communities in the area, especially in the warmer months.  I’d be content driving from little town to little town, picking up sea glass, and eating fried clams and lobster.  I’ll be sharing photos from our visit over the next few days, starting with these shots of sea glass and hydrangeas at my in-laws’ cozy house in the woods.

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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.

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