Sunscreen in November

Who would have guessed it was this hard to track down sunscreen this time of year? I guess since the skies are grey and rainy most people would not be buying any so it makes sense. However, today it threw me for a loop in last minute vacation prep…no sunscreen to be found! (ok, not NONE at all, but none of the brands I prefer)

Finally after lots of investigating (3 stores in person, 3 called) I looked into Amazon Prime (too bad Hawaii is too slow to ship in time) and calling stores on the island. After 3 strikes, I hit gold: Costco has one brand of sunscreen and it is Alba Botanica…my brand of choice! Woohoo!

No packing sunscreen for these beach rats…we are picking it up when we get there.


All in Fall

How did we get to the end of October so quickly? We spent the weekend filling ourselves with fallness so that we did not miss this season (something we seem to have happened this summer!) Friday night was early birthday dinner at Matt’s parents, complete with 8mm baby movies.


Saturday we headed for the mountains and had a glorious hike 8.6 mile hike on Mt. Washington. This not so well known trail was exactly what we hoped it would be: a good workout, beautiful views and not crowded! Mt. Rainer cooperated and made for a perfect lunchtime view.



We had dinner with good friends on our way back through town and finally collapsed into bed around 10:30 back on the island.

Sunday morning I made a quick trip to the grocery store for fresh coffee while Matt rallied an 11:00 breakfast plan. Grey skies and sore muscles made for a slow morning. We played with the idea of going on another on-island adventure but opted for a garden winter-prep session instead. It felt good to be back in the dirt. We have been ignoring weeds and plants past their prime in favor of harvesting and other projects. The garden needed some attention. I weeded and removed old plants to make room for winter cover crop (part of our soil enrichment plan) while Matt removed more sod to expand planting space for next year. After about an hour we decided to invite the chickens in to help with cleanup. Since they do not free range anymore we missed their company. It was wonderful to have them in the garden with us.IMG_8382[1]


After a fabulous vegetarian dinner (kale-veggie curry, chanterelles and broccoli) I headed off for another fall festivity: ladies night pumpkin carving! It was a fun island event to carve pumpkins for the Roasterie’s pumpkin tradition. I am looking forward to seeing them all lit up on Friday.

How was our weekend? Fall fabulous.

Return to Port Townsend

For our third anniversary (how has it been so long already?!) we wanted to go back to Port Townsend for a weekend getaway. An Airbnb was selected, but no availability till October…so we booked a late anniversary weekend for the fall. It turned out to be exactly what we needed. August was busy enough with house painting and other weekend commitments, and the fall colors were great this time of year.

Last Friday we headed out. I still am in awe of how much closer to everything we feel living on Vashon Island. Well, close to everything except maybe the cascades. Surfing is 2.5 hours away, Port Townsend 1.5 hours. We are near to Seattle, and Tacoma, AND the Kitsap Peninsula (and therefore the lake property). It is pretty awesome. After the short ferry ride to Southworth we were on our way, and before we knew it, arrived in Port Townsend.

First order of business was dumping our stuff at the Airbnb. It was a cute little 1 room tiny house, 10×12 with a small bathroom, kitchenette bed and outdoor shower. Perfect!

Then we went out for long walk around Fort Worden. I was in a bit of a funk because my main camera was cardless (argh!) and my phone memory was full. No pictures was hard for me. We walked around and discovered a new part of the fort and reminisced at our wedding site.

We walked until sunset and then headed to town for dinner at Waterfront Pizza (they catered our rehearsal dinner). Service was slow, and then made slower by some issues with our order so our pizza was on the house. Turns out the slow dinner was a good thing so we spent less time at our Airbnb.

When we got back “home” for the night we were pooped and headed to bed. That is when the trouble began. We were both really bothered by an odor in the room. We are still not sure if it was mold or an air freshner or what, but it kept us up for hours. In the morning, we decided we could not handle another night there and reluctantly shortened our trip. The day was supposed to be rainy and we knew we did not want to spend time in that room.

So we loaded the car, and headed to town for breakfast. Pastries and coffee at Sweet Laurette’s, cruising the farmer’s market were a great way to start the day. We wandered all the standard shops along the waterfront and found a vintage 1940s or 50s art deco framed print for our house at an antique shop.

By 1:00 we were ready for another Port Townsend tradition: ice cream sundae at Don’s Pharmacy soda fountain!

We took a second lap around the fort (this time with a camera!) to work off the ice cream and then hit the road home.

All in all it was a great trip, and being home Sunday was really quite nice. The cats and chickens were happy to have us home and it make the weekend stretch just a bit longer. Most importantly, it reminded us how much we just love spending time together wherever we are.

October Surf

After months of prep and painting we finally gave ourselves permission to pause on the house and go for a much anticipated surf vacation. A mini trip to the Washington coast was exactly what we needed. We had roughly scouted out where to go, and decided on Grayland Beach state park…just south of where we would surf in Westport.

Friday afternoon Matt picked me up from work in a SUPER full car and we headed to the coast with no visibility out out windows. Camping in a mini cooper is quite a feat. But hey, when you only have one vehicle you work with what you have!

A mere 2.5 hours later and we were in Westport! First stop: a surf shop to get the lay of the land. We inquired about boards and surf breaks and then went to check out the jetty.

What a great spot! It was cloudy and foggy that afternoon but the weekend forecast was for warm, sunny weather. And SO MANY sand dollars! You could not go more than a few steps without reaching for another one!

Our campsite was great and had easy access to the beach. Next time we may try out one of the yurts.

Day one of surfing was fun, but hard. The current was pushing pretty hard south and the surf was really mushy and fast. It was exhausting to get yourself out far enough to catch a cleaner wave. We both had a great time though and were totally wiped and sporting sunburned faces out when we headed to dinner.

Sunset from our campground. We drank tea and watched it go down…and saw A GREEN FLASH! This elusive phenomenon has been on my family’s hit list for YEARS and we finally saw one!!! So cool!

Sunday was a down day and thank goodness…we were exhausted! We decided to explore the area and took a drive up to Moclips and the other seaside towns to the North. We stopped for clam chowder and ice cream in Ocean Shores before heading back to Grayland for a long beach walk.

Monday was the highlight though. After an ok breakfast at the Blue Bouy we stopped by the surf shop for boards. We grabbed two long boards and hit the road.

We got to the beach and saw exactly what we were hoping for: clean, easy, long breaks with no current. Beautiful!

I spent the morning catching wave after wave while Matt struggled with the other board. At lunch we swapped and then he was having all the success! Eventually even getting out to the “real” lineup at the back and catching big green waves like a pro! It was incredible to see how far we have come! Unfortunately I did not have better luck with the second board either. For some reason neither of us could catch a wave on it even though it was a bigger, longer board. The balance we could just not get down. Goes to show that we need to try out boards before we buy as they are NOT equal!

We surfed until nearly 5, showered and headed back to camp for the sunset and dinner. What a sunset it was! Probably one of the top 5 of my life. Seriously, how spectacular is this?!:

What a wonderful getaway. No cell service, awesome waves and only a few hours from home. We are already itching to go back!

Tuna Pasta

Although the vines may not look like much, the tomatoes on them are oh so good! (I guess next year we need to right-size cages so the tomato plants are actually supported!)

With another dose of rain on the way we picked two huge bowls full of red goodness. One bowl turned into dinner, the other into sauce for the freezer. Cooking two different meals at the same time helps us streamline putting up food (a feat we are still figuring out) so that none of this harvest goes to waste.

This year our favorites were Old Germans and Milanos. We planted 15+ varieties and are going to plant more selectivly next year with just our favorites. Old Germans are a great heirloom slicing tomato with epic flavor. Perfect for tomato salad with feta or mozzarella. Milanos are a good Roma for sauce…much like San Marzanos but seem to do better up here in the PNW. Finally, Sun Sugars have become our favorite cherry variety.

Dinner was our favorite: tuna pasta. Sounds simple, is simple, but really far from ordinary. It is good any time of year with cherry tomatoes, but with a variety of fresh picked flavors and high quality tuna in olive oil, it is divine.IMG_7433[1]

Tuna Pasta

2-3 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half

½ yellow onion, diced

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

2 cans tuna, packed in olive oil

Olive oil

Fistful of fresh basil

Salt and pepper

Stabby pasta of your choice (we like penne and rigatoni)

Fresh Romano or parmesan cheese

Hot pepper flakes (optional)

Preparation: In medium sized skillet, cook onions in olive oil until translucent. Add garlic and cook until tender. Add tomatoes and oil from the tuna, and simmer until water is mostly evaporated and tomatoes are falling apart. Cook pasta separately in salted water. While pasta cooks, add tuna to tomato sauce and heat through. Tear basil into sauce, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Serve over pasta with ample cheese and hot pepper.

Fall is in the Air

I added another layer of blankets to my side of the bed. A headlamp is needed for flagging down the bus for the morning commute. Plus, our chickens are all in bed by 7…summer is quickly wrapping up.

Thank goodness the house painting is too. We are officially DONE with all the high up extension ladder parts (2 coats), and nearly done with a second coat on the rest as well. My back is thankful for that. Last weekend we went to the fair.

Matt picked up some odd jobs at the winery next door and we are making plans for what comes next, but right now, we feel ready for a break. A weekend surfing should be happening soon, then a weekend away to Port Townsend. We are ready for snuggling down for the fall.

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Summer Wrap Up: Labor Day

The air changed this week in Western WA. Rain returned (much much needed rain), the temperature dropped, and all of a sudden we are back in sweats in the evening. After months of dry and hot, this is a welcome relif. It was such a treat to stay indoors and cook and clean and just relax for snuggle down days listening to the rain.

Except for the fact that our house is not fully painted. Thank goodness for a dry Labor Day weekend! I swear, every year this extra day is nothing but labor on unfinsihed summer projects. The house has one coat on nearly everything, so this weekend was starting on the second coat. And let me tell you, the second coat goes WAY faster! Thank goodness!

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We did an emergency pre-rain harvest of  nearly 8 quarts of tomatoes. The Milanos this year did really well, and are now frozen in fresh sauce form for the winter. We have had a few excellent Old Germans as well. Next year we are planning to prioritize these two varieties in the garden.


In other farm news, our little flock of hens has been shuffled a bit. Belle, our oldest hen, had stopped laying and she was adpoted into a 1 hen flock as a companion bird. We took the opportunity to add a young Black Marans to keep our lady count at eight. Olive is very sweet but is getting picked on. Hopefully things will calm down when she is a bit bigger. The young hens are laying finally and so production is way up, 25 eggs last week!


With fall on the way we are in planning for the next round of projects and goals. This past weekend we played around with a new renovation idea for opening up our kitchen and think we arrived on the perfect solution! The goal is to get the large demo and repair done this winter, along with finishing out the basement bedroom, and slowly add in cabinets and tile and more expensive details later. Best part of the plan? No appliances or major utilities to move!


With all this hard work we are due for some fun. Next weekend we are off to the fair, followed by a surf trip with the second coat of paint is done. In october we are going back to Port Townsend for a weekend getaway (where we were married) and finally Kauai in November! Finally found some decent airfare and booked tickets! We cannot wait for some beach time!

For now, it is back to work and home projects. A final push and our little house exterior will be totally made over!