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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
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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.
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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?

Chihuly Garden and Glass

September 11th, 2014

Yesterday my mom and I took the water taxi from West Seattle to downtown and visited all the usual Seattle sights: Pike Place market, the Space Needle, etc.  We didn’t go to the original Starbucks as I don’t like their coffee, but the French bakery in the market is one of my favorite places. Ever since our first trip to Seattle way back in 1998 (our honeymoon), I’ve been visiting Le Panier for good coffee and palmiers whenever I am in town.
seattle 1
seattle 2
We decided to ride the monorail over to the Seattle center to visit the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit and we were not disappointed.
Chihuly Glass Exhibit Seattle (1)
I wasn’t expecting it to be as spectacular as it was, perhaps, like most things, the photos just don’t do it justice. I’d seen photos and heard it was great, but I wasn’t prepared for the vivid colors and the intricacy of the work.
Chihuly Glass Exhibit Seattle (2)
Chihuly Glass Exhibit Seattle (3)
Chihuly Glass Exhibit Seattle (4)
Chihuly Glass Exhibit Seattle (5)
Chihuly Glass Exhibit Seattle 1
Chihuly Glass Exhibit Seattle 2
Chihuly Glass Exhibit Seattle 3
Chihuly Glass Exhibit Seattle 4
Chihuly Glass Exhibit Seattle 5
Chihuly Glass Exhibit Seattle 6
Chihuly Glass Exhibit Seattle 7
Chihuly Glass Exhibit Seattle 8
Chihuly Glass Exhibit Seattle 9
Chihuly Glass Exhibit Seattle 10
Chihuly Glass Exhibit Seattle
After debating whether or not we’d enjoy it, I’m certainly glad we decided to go. It’s not a cheap tour, but it’s beautiful and worth the expense. I love glass art in the garden and hope to someday have some of my own.

What’s your favorite kind of garden art?

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?

A Delicious Day

September 9th, 2014

Yesterday was what you hear is typical for Seattle as far as the weather goes, though I have had nothing but great weather on all of my previous trips out here. We woke up to a gray, misty day that was cold, damp, and gloomy. No worries, as I had a tour of the Theo Chocolate factory waiting for such a day.
Theo Chocolate tour 12
We tasted a wide variety of chocolates along with cocoa beans from a few different regions. We walked through the factory and got to see and learn exactly how good chocolate is made. It was a great tour, the perfect thing to do on a rainy day!
Theo Chocolate tour 1
Theo Chocolate tour 2
Theo Chocolate tour 3
Theo Chocolate tour 4
Theo Chocolate tour 5
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Theo Chocolate tour 7
Theo Chocolate tour 8
Theo Chocolate tour 9
Theo Chocolate tour 10
Theo Chocolate tour 11
You can be we purchased a few goodies to eat and maybe a few to take home, if they make it through the week! I’m a big fan of dark chocolate and a few of those made it into my bag to enjoy throughout the week. I love that their chocolate doesn’t have soy lecithin it in as an emulsifier, only delicious cocoa butter!

Do you prefer light or dark chocolate?

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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.

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