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September 17th, 2014

Whenever I travel to try to buy a patch for my travel patch quilt, but that’s about a kitchy as I get when it comes to souvenirs. Typically I prefer to purchase a useful item that I can either display or something useful that I can use daily. Last time I was in Seattle I purchase a lovely hand carved spatula. It’s made of bird’s eye maple and it’s quite stunning, I use it almost daily and it brings back memories of that trip. This time I purchase a small sign for my garden.
garden sign 1
I spotted it at Bloedel Reserve and knew it would be the perfect item since we spent the majority of our time touring gardens.
garden sign 2
The script font and the tiny bird are lovely, the rusty finish is also fetching. No worries about it rusting or leaving it in the garden.
garden sign 3
garden sign 4
I’m not sure where I’m going to put it right now, perhaps in my small entry by the front door. When I get a fence and gate on the main garden in back I’d like to put it there, perhaps I’ll cut a special rectangle in the gate and showcase this inside.

What kinds of items do you purchase to remember your travels?

Hello Houses

September 15th, 2014

I meant to do this as a Friday Favorite and completely forgot.  When my mom and I were in Seattle last week we rented a small bungalow in Alki Beach instead of staying at a hotel.  For many years now, we’ve been renting homes/apartments through Home Away instead of staying at hotels. Not only are they more comfortable, I like avoiding funding large corporations even when traveling. In case you’re headed to Seattle and are looking for a great little house, here’s the listing for this place.
alki beach bungalow 1
Another bonus is that they’re often much cheaper than a hotel and much more comfortable. I like having the option to prepare some of my own food on vacation, especially breakfast.
alki beach bungalow 2
Another great thing about staying in homes is that you get out into the neighborhoods and get to know the places you visit a little more intimately. Every evening we walked through different parts of the neighborhood and looked at gardens. We ate at local restaurants and shopped at local grocery stores.
neighborhood gardens 1
neighborhood gardens 2
neighborhood gardens 3
The gardens in the neighborhoods were especially lovely, we walked for an hour or two every evening down along the beach and zig zagging through the streets looking at plants, peeking in courtyards and enjoying the plants that dominate real gardens in the Seattle area.
neighborhood gardens
neighborhood gardens 1 (1)
neighborhood gardens 2 (1)
Nothing makes you feel like you know a place better than staying in a home and being immersed in non tourist dominated things. This was my second time staying in a home in the West Seattle area and I know my way around the streets and I even have a favorite coffee shop.

Have you ever rented a home when on vacation instead of staying in a hotel?

Always Amazing

September 13th, 2014

The first time I went to Mr Rainier National Park was over 16 years ago on our honeymoon. It was impressive and still is each time I have returned. Yesterday we make the trek down to the mountain. We even hiked a few miles to different overlooks up from Paradise Inn.
Mt Rainier 1
Overall we gained 1600 ft of elevation above the inn on our various hikes and the views were quite amazing. This is one thing that was new for me, I have never done any hiking up from the main visitor center.
Mt Rainier 2
Mt Rainier 3
Mt Rainier 4
Who can resist singing “The hills are alive with the sound of music” when they’re on an alpine meadow? Apparently everyone else but me, because I didn’t see anyone else doing it.
Mt Rainier 5
What national park visit is complete without a picnic lunch? We were lucky to have delicious salami, cheese, and arugula sandwiches with olives on the side – delicious post hike fuel.
Mt Rainier 7
Mt Rainier 6
Mountains are magical places, I’m not sure what it is, but they always make me happy. I love visiting them whenever I can. Perhaps they provide a reminder of how small and insignificant we are and that there are greater things at work.

What places are most awe inspiring for you to visit?

Hidden Gems

September 12th, 2014

I always like to go on vacation to a place where I can cook my own food, or I can find good food and great coffee out and about. Yesterday we headed over to Volunteer Park and stopped at Victrola Coffee on the way, when I saw they had single origin espresso I knew it would be a good cup of coffee, and it didn’t disappoint. I tend to find most coffee shops have coffee that’s far too “bright” for my liking, I tend to prefer a dark chocolatey roast. Since Mr Chiots and I roast our own coffee, we try single origin espressos quite often, though they often lack the complexity of a blend, they are quite good in their own right.
seattle day four 1
seattle day four 2
We decided to stop at St Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral since the conservatory didn’t open for a few minutes and it was recommended to us. I need to read up a little more on this building because it’s really unique and interesting.
seattle day four 3
After that we went to Volunteer Park to see the conservatory, which is under construction, but the corpse flower and half of the building was still open.
seattle day four 4
seattle day four 5
The dahlia garden was right across the street and was fabulous, I love that the dahlia society takes the time to plants and label so many wonderful varieties in one place.
seattle day four 6
We then stumbled upon a gem that has never been mentioned to me, at least not that I remember. I have visited Seattle many times and have read lots of blog posts on things to do and see while there. The water tower observatory was never mentioned, which is rather odd since it was wonderful. There is pretty much a 360 degree view, you can see the city, Mt Rainier, and the Cascades. There are a few steps to climb, but not enough to keep it off of anyone’s list of places to go while in the city.
seattle day four 7
seattle day four 8
seattle day four 9
Since we were still in the neighborhood we decided to go Southern for lunch at the Wandering Goose. A delicious salad with eggs, smoked tomatoes, buttermilk dressing and fried chicken was the perfect meal to fuel our next garden visit.
seattle day four 10
seattle day four 11
We hopping in the car and headed up to the Dunn Gardens, which was night, very historic. I can only imagine how beautiful they are in spring when the azaleas and rhododendrons are in bloom.
seattle day four 12
After getting stuck in traffic for and hour, we decided to call it a day and head back to our bungalow to eat the double chocolate cake we got to go from the restaurant. We were both tired and wanted to rest up for our trip down to see Mt Rainier today.

Have you ever discovered hidden gems while traveling?

Gardens and Food

September 10th, 2014

Yesterday I finally visited Heronswood, something I’ve been wanting to do for years. It was a fabulous tour, I took over 500 photos, which I probably won’t have time to get to while we’re here in Seattle.
Seattle Vacation 1
After leaving Heronswood we drove a few miles south and went to Bloedel Reserve. I visited this garden a few years ago and really enjoyed it, I knew my mom would as well.
Seattle Vacation 2
We had lunch/dinner at Harbour Public House, of course my meal was seafood, a delicious curry.
Seattle Vacation 4
Our second ferry ride of the day took us right into downtown Seattle and then we found our way home through the maze of streets. Thankfully I’ve been out here enough to know my way around fairly well.
Seattle Vacation 3
Yesterday and this morning were drizzly, gray, and cold, something you always hear when you talk about the Pacific Northwest. The rest of the week is supposed to be sunny and warm, which is what I have always experienced when I’ve been out here. We still have a long list of gardens to visit, downtown, more delicious restaurants, a few shops and maybe we’ll even make the trek down to Mt. Rainier. Lots of gardens, good food, and the ocean, just my kind of vacation!

What are your favorite things to do/see/eat on vacation?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.