Kitchens, Camping, and Life {oh my}

It is already November 8th and I can hardly believe there are only 6 short, itty, bitty weeks until the Christmas season. Where does the time go?? Halloween came and went, and the changing of the clocks, and all the leaves have blown away. We’ve even had snow…

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That in itself seems impossible here in Seattle. But snow it did over the weekend. Most of you in colder climates will laugh but several inches of snow in Seattle in November is no joke. It’s a warning to just how fun this winter season is going to be!

I’m always wishing there was more time, but it truly does seem we skipped from fall straight into winter with not a lot of fall. Maybe it’s just being back in America again, and recognizing the change without the concrete jungle of London. Maybe it’s because fall is my favorite season and I am always sad to see the leaves change and blow away within a week or two. This year has been spectacular with color, but once again I only have phone snaps because there just is never enough time go out and capture it with a proper camera. Or rather I always think there’ll be time next week, after I finish the halloween costume, after that dinner, after after after.

And there never is.

Here is a sampling of what we’ve done so far this fall:

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The kitchen is finished. Hall-leh-lujah. I haven’t taken any proper pictures (mainly because LIFE and for me proper pictures would REQUIRE me to scrub it top to bottom and then ACCESSORIZE and I just haven’t done it). While it took what felt like forever, and our contractor was definitely not our favorite person by the end {the amount of dirt/dust/everything everywhere…I’m still cleaning, let’s just put it that way}, our vision did come to life.

The living room is coming along. I bought a mirror for the fireplace yesterday and I’m still deciding if it works or not. I put some maps on the walls. Two are new but the others are ones I collected while we lived abroad or are ones we used to use when we lived in Germany before the whole smart phone era. {I rather miss those days.}

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Yep, still have pictures etc sitting on the floor, but overall I hope the vibe is fun and casual (just like this phone generated picture).

In October we went camping at Lake Wenatchee, and 3/4 of us admitted to having a ton of fun. {the boy resists admitting he had fun, but I’m pretty sure he did.} The main purpose of the trip was two fold: 1. we’ve only been talking about camping for 17 years now since we registered for (and received) a tent for our wedding. And while we are definitely beyond the proper age for tent camping, we did finally go camping. Albeit in a trailer. Which brings me to 2. we rented a trailer for the weekend to see if we would want to buy one in the future (answer: YES). It was so much fun just being out in nature {ala my entire childhood of camping and boating}, and I can’t get enough of it.

Neither can the majority of my family. Even though it was freezing at night, and we didn’t have a hookup, and couldn’t run the heater. {noted, don’t camp in October in Washington without a power hook-up}.

Still. Best.Weekend.Ever.

(And phone snaps again because despite owning a very nice dslr, I never really use it)

I can’t wait for the winter RV show, where we will be seriously looking at trailers. I do wish we’d done this years ago so our kids could be camping freaks like me!

Onward we go into November and both the Chick and I are starting (separate) ballet classes, there is grandma’s stuffing to make, and the traditional Chinese food for Thanksgiving. Before we know it, I’ll be recapping Christmas and New Years.

We’ll be staring down the start of 2018, and yearning for spring.

What has your fall been like? Anything exciting happening?

 

To horse? Or not horse?

As a child, I always loved horses. Nearly every birthday I would ask my parents to take me on a trail ride. It didn’t matter that the horses were programmed to go forward and follow the horse in front of them, no matter what, I really thought I was a little western cowgirl (in horse only, I’ve never been one for Wrangler jeans, cowgirl boots or ten gallon hats). Obligingly, my dad would climb aboard a horse with me and off we would go with the group for a 30-60 minute walk through the forest.

I couldn’t get enough.

As you can see from the pictures:

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In the picture above, it was 1983 in Lake Louise, Banff, Canada, and I was 6, so forgive my stylistic choices (and lack of helmet, we didn’t know about that kind of thing back then).

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This is probably a few years later. I’m sure I drove my parents crazy everytime we passed a horse. If I was anything like I am now, when I walk past the barn and a horse head is sticking out, well, they will get a rub or a pet. I literally cannot help myself.

I.Love.Horses.

Four or so years ago I started taking riding lessons, thinking that maybe now that I was older and could afford to take lessons, an hour a week on the back of a lovely horse would be a lot of fun. It’s one of those ‘yes it is and yes it isn’t’ kinds of things. The barn I rode at before, the first lesson horse wasn’t super into riding English style, but we managed and did fairly well. (I did briefly switch over to Western style.) I started riding with a new trainer during the week on a different horse and things were looking up. I had a good handle on posting and we were working on getting the correct diagonal. {here are definitions on what that means if you are not all.things.horse.obsessed}

Summer was approaching so I knew I couldn’t ride during the week with my (then young) kids out of school. Things being what they were, busy, I didn’t go back to riding again after the summer. Then we moved to London. While I did look into riding in London, riding in Hyde Park with traffic whizzing by wasn’t my idea of fun, and getting to barn outside the city wasn’t feasible without a car.

When we returned to Seattle this summer, after lots and lots of trial and error and phone calls and barn visits, I finally found a place that I really like, doesn’t require the equivalent of college tuition to ride a horse, and while certainly not close by (45-60 minutes each way), I am happy with both the instructor and the facility.

The biggest problem I have is with the school horse I’ve been assigned. Her name is Joy. And last Friday, she was anything but a joy to ride. Here’s where I start to wonder if I’m too old to be doing this.

The first horse I rode, Guinness, wasn’t a good match. Week two I started riding on Joy. She’s 11 years old and has been a school horse probably forever. This means her primary rider is a child, who is likely being led on a line. There are no signals – leg on, clucking, squeezing, steering – she is being made to follow from the students. She gets pretty much free reign to do what she wants.

Then there’s my ride with Joy. I am (trying) to give her all these signals to get her to stay on the rail (leg + rein), trot when I say (squeeze, leg, cluck, beg…) and we are just not getting these basics. Especially with staying on the rail. I did not have this issue with the horses I rode at the last barn, so I am questioning whether it is me who has unlearned this task, or the horse that simply won’t do this task I’ve asked of her.

I walked away really dejected after Friday’s lesson. The last three sessions my trainer has climbed on Joy after we’ve been in the arena struggling and forced her to comply. It is about having to be dominant over the animal, and I do get that. She has almost listened completely while I’m tacking up (and I’ve learned what to do when she is naughty and we pretty much go with me having to reinforce proper crosstie behavior every week…) The trainer has given me a whip (and several times spurs), and I am not comfortable at all having to use them. I do understand I am not hurting Joy, and according to my trainer I’m not even being forceful enough, even though I feel bad having to use the whip after everything I ask Joy to do because she refuses to do it when I ask by putting my leg on.

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I am not having fun. I know that getting this is hard, and isn’t going to be fun, but 6 sessions on…I am not having fun. I am paying to not enjoy riding a horse (though it feels more like fighting with a toddler and losing).

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I have considered whether I should continue riding past my next session (sessions of 5 lessons, which I just paid for the next 5 taking me through to December. Christmas/New Years I am not riding because of the holidays and being with family.) I’ve wondered if I should switch to riding Western, where you still need to have the horse listen, but it is a different set of things to ask for.

My goal as I wrote it on my ‘get to know your goals’ sheet when I signed up for lessons was to learn to jump. Initially, I chose English because it has a more refined/classy look to it and so many more barns here teach/focus on English style. I have three questions to answer before Friday:

  1. Do I want to keep riding, period?
  2. Do I want to stick with Joy and English?
  3. Do I want to work towards jumping, or just learn enough to go hacking and switch to Western?

I have no idea how exactly to come up with the answers but I definitely don’t want to go to the barn on Friday and leave feeling like I did last week (and it’s ZERO reflection on my trainer; she is fabulous and gives me lots of positive feedback {though she can’t possibly be telling the truth!}, and instructions to help me).

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I love horses. I do not want to give them up, but I don’t won’t to pay for something that leaves me feeling defeated.

to be continued…

Falling for fall

I love fall. Every year I say it’s my favorite season as soon as the leaves start to change colors. And then in spring I say, no wait! spring is my favorite season. And so on to summer. Pretty much the only season that never gets a shout of joy is winter.

Snow is pretty but I don’t want to live in it (and we don’t often have to in Seattle, though I heard last year up here in the mountains where we live it was horrible…so that’ll be fun!)

Fall means sweaters and scarves and warm coats, and around here rain, but I won’t let a daily session with my windshield wipers distract me from the loveliest of fashions: the fall sweater. Here is a round up of some of my favorites:

This looks like something to live in all fall.

The color of this one gives me the warm fuzzies.

I love the entire outfit below, though I tried the wide leg crop, and just ended up looking ridiculous. Still, on the right person, it’s cute.

While I don’t have any cashmere, it’s hard to beat the sweater below. It is responsibly made, 100% cashmere for $100.

If we were head into the never-paying-it territory (there are some lines I will not cross no matter how much I like an item), then this sweater would be on the top of the heap.

To go with these sweaters, I would recommend the new Everlane high waist denim collection. I’d never tried high waisted jeans (I was firmly in the camp of NO) until they did a pop-up shop at my local Nordstrom and I kinda fell into semi-love with them. I won’t be forsaking my old comfy lovely jeans by any means, but high waisted jeans will be making the rotation.

Do you have anything lurking in your daydreams for fall?

The Unpopular Opinion: Why I no longer want to live in this America

It was just another morning. Coffee, school lunches, sending my family out the door. And then I sat down and started scanning the news, and once again my heart sank, and my stomach clenched, because the screen was once again telling me a senseless tragedy had taken place. There are tragedies from mother nature we can’t control – hurricanes, earthquakes, forest fires –  and then there are the ones we can control; gun violence. mass shootings. more people innocently killed.

I’ve never liked guns. I didn’t grow up ever having one in my home. Before I met my husband (who was a police officer at the time we met), I’d never even held or seen a gun up close. One of the greatest days was the day he left the police department, and his gun left our house. We do not hunt. We do not possess any weapons. That is our personal choice.

This is a link to the 2nd Amendment, the Right to Bear Arms. When this was written way back in the 18th century, it was written in a different time, in an altogether different country. What happens more and more frequently is not what I believe the founding fathers wanted. They would be horrified at the way their law has been interpreted in modern times.

I do not know this country I’m living in, the one where I was born, the one that changes day by day into a place that feels less and less safe. These are Americans getting hold of these guns that serve no purpose but death, and killing children, mothers, fathers, grandparents, friends, innocents.

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There is no country in the world that is all-safe. Such a place does not exist. I know this. But there are so many countries that are peaceful. The US ranks at 114 on the Global Peace Index. I want to live in a country that does not allow citizens to own weapons that have no purpose except in war (and maybe not even then). No one should be able to have these guns in their homes. No. One.

I find myself longing to leave America, even though I only moved back here from England a few months ago. I do not want to live in a place where these things do not matter to congress, to my government. They will not outlaw these guns, and therefore they continue the cycle of violence and death. They endorse gun violence by not doing anything to stop it. The majority of Americans support laws that restrict guns. Why won’t they listen? They didn’t listen when the majority said who we wanted to be president. I know they won’t listen now. It must change.

Senseless violence will continue.

I would rather live in a country where the government takes steps to make sure gun violence doesn’t happen.

I want to live in a place that believes all its citizens lives matter. All of them.

 

Reference: Amendment 2 https://nccs.net/online-resources/us-constitution/amendments-to-the-us-constitution/the-bill-of-rights-amendments-1-10/amendment-2-the-right-to-bear-arms

Chart of most and least peaceful countries: https://www.statista.com/chart/9688/the-worlds-most-and-least-peaceful-countries/

Vision of Humanity: Risk Report http://visionofhumanity.org/app/uploads/2017/09/Risk-Report_Web_Final.pdf

Poll of Americans and guns: http://www.pollingreport.com/guns.htm

 

Alaska

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I struggled over a title for this post because (as you will see), how on earth do you describe a trip to Alaska? There are hardly words to set the scene for the beauty and amazing display of nature every time you open your eyes. In fact, I only went through pictures up to the morning of day 3 because I had already marked 20 to share.

Of all the places I’ve traveled, and there have been MANY, a few take top marks like the incredible stark colors of the Scottish Highlands, or the lush greens of the Ireland countryside. Alaska might have top billing. Maybe because it’s fresh in my mind (even though it was already a month ago), I’ve never seen anything so pure and beautiful.

How do you describe that?? We hadn’t even gotten off the ship yet, these were all just things we went by on the our way to our first port stop in Skagway. It’s kind of mind-boggling to see glaciers and icebergs and the stunning colors.

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Chick giving her dad the helicopter front seat side-eye

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Thank you Temsco Helicopter Tours for helping me conquer some fears. Helicopter: check. Done IT. Walked on a glacier: Done THAT. Seriously one of the best days ever, and 100% worth every penny. (Thanks to The Husband for making me do it.)

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Love you Pluto, but wow was it COLD!

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That only takes us to our first stop. Two more to come (a cute little town, big fishing vessels, and SEAPLANES!)

The First Day of School Survival List {for parents}

So, you’ve been waiting all summer for this day, and it’s finally here:

THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!!!

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Now, admit it, you were all excited the moment the.damn.kids your darlings stepped out the door. I thought it would be nice to post a little something about how us parents should spend the day, this first day of school.

How many climbed right back in here?

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And I’m certain there was quite a bit of this in most houses (as we wake at the unbearable 6 am alarm):

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I know I relished the quiet of my morning cup o’joe. I’m also sure I can’t be the only one still sitting around at 10 am soaking up the silence (and a second cup).

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If you’re looking for things to do today, may I suggest: binge worthy tv –

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Feel free to memorize that. By the way, was I the ONLY one who didn’t know Sunday’s episode was the last of the season??! That’s what happens when you go on vacation!

Other shows to try if GOT just isn’t your thing:

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Who doesn’t love a little classic manners and backstabbing with a smile every now and then?

Or you could always catch up on those books you’ve been hoarding for a rainy day.

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As for me, (and probably most of us, because we do not live in a dream world) I’ll be getting to the laundry leftover from vacation, unpacking the hordes of boxes from moving, spending copious amounts of time in the car buying groceries, finding kids gym shorts, and catering to the craziest dog in the world.

But, if I did have a dream day, it would probably look a lot like above. Just add ice cream.

 

*images via Pinterest

It’s already August?!  Inspiration for the end of summer

I can’t believe that it is already July 30. Or August 7. Where did the summer go?! I’ve spent what seems like weeks shuttling myself and children to doctors offices (nothing wrong, just getting in everything that we hadn’t done while living in London – orthodontist visits, ENT, dermatologist etc. it seriously never ends). August is on track to be more of the same. Throw in horse camp, a week in Alaska, finishing the renovation, finally moving into our house, and school starting; we are already into September.

Time flies whether you’re having fun or not.

The fun things of summer:

The house is somewhat finished, and while it hasn’t gone quite as smoothly as we wanted, it will be beautiful when it is finished (because I will make sure of it!). Focusing on the positives, or at least trying to, and once we move in (um in two days), our household goods from London will be here, and we will be able to try to get a little bit more organization into our lives. And I will have access to ALL of my books and ALL of my clothes again. Yay!

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Alaska. We have only been talking about to Alaska since we first moved to Seattle 5 years ago. The one slight hiccup is we get back from Alaska on Monday and school starts on Wednesday. Both kids will miss their orientations at school, and both schools will be new to them. Not the best timing but when you book a year in advance, things happen.  I’m laughing now because right before we decided to do the cruise, The Husband asked if we should get the travel insurance in case we had to change the date. I said nah…. hindsight, you know?

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Still, it’ll be an awesome trip, and we are doing a helicopter tour to a glacier hike, and as much as the thought of voluntarily getting IN a helicopter terrifies me, I’m. Doing. It.

Because:

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I’m very excited to see something along those lines in person. Plus an entire week with:

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…who we all know is my true love. Mickey Mouse & Alaska & a week of someone else doing the cooking and cleaning: PURE BLISS. The Husband and I are looking forward to having a week off from all the craziness that has been going on the last month or so.

In other news, I finally found a barn to ride at (YAY!) and I cannot wait to get my horse on. When I dropped the Chick off at horse camp this morning, I really really wondered if they would notice if I just snuck into a stall for a few hours. (I’m sure they would have.)

And it was also a reminder of just how big horses are – giGanTiC – and how little my girl is…

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This will probably be me (since I haven’t ridden in three years…

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I did pick up a copy of the US Pony Club Book of Horsemanship so I can refresh the basics like how to hold my reins, pick a hoof, and generally sit a horse (I kid…) I am also considering getting two of these shirts for the Chick and myself.

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So that’s the summer in a nutshell. Next week (or after) I’ll probably bore everyone with house pictures. But you can check my Instagram for sneak peeks of where we are at. It’s the home stretch (thank goodness).

What have you been up to this summer? Anything fun?

*all images from Pinterest