Birthday Getaway Day 3, Deception Pass and Chuckanut Drive

Our last day was spent in true road trip fashion.  It was a beautiful day, and the landscape just reminded me of how grand this planet really is.

We started at Deception Pass.  Here we saw amazing turquoise waters, curious sea lions, enormous cedars,  tons of kayakers, and pebbled beaches.

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Look at that water!

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 Deception Pass bridge that joins Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands

After taking in all this breathtaking splendor, we took the long way home by way of the Historic Chuckanut Drive.  Virtually every tourist stop on Whidbey Island has a free guide to this drive.  It goes up the coast through beautiful forest.  Along the way you can stop by cute little towns and see charming farms.  But the highlight for us was finding a tucked away gem called Taylor Shellfish Farms.

We debated whether to stop here, but found the Yelp reviews were too good to pass up.  We were utterly unprepared for this place, but managed to enjoy it anyway.  This farm is open everyday from 9-5 and has a few outdoor picnic tables with barbecues available.  You can go into the shop, buy delicious shellfish, and go out to the tables and enjoy them while looking out into Samish bay.

This beautiful day will forever be burned into my memory because the weather was perfect, and the oysters we bought were the most delicious oysters we had ever eaten!  (Plus, we learned how to shuck our own.  Priceless skill.)

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Looking at these photos I can just taste the sweetness of these oysters.  mmmmm…. We are definitely going back.  Only next time, we’re coming prepared with wine, bread, and cheese.  Who’s in?

Birthday Getaway Day 2, San Juan Island

Ever since we’ve moved to Seattle (all of 2 months now), people keep telling us to visit the San Juan Islands.  This was not in my plan for “Birthday Getaway,” but I realized that there wasn’t a whole lot to do/see on Whidbey Island.  So, we took a spontaneous day trip to San Juan Island. We took the 1 hour and 15 minute ride by ferry to a gorgeous port.  It seems that leaving cloudy Whidbey behind made way for beautiful blue skies on San Juan.

*Side Note: San Juan Island is a great getaway for Seattleites all year round as Seattle gets 40 inches of rain per year and San Juan gets about 8-9.  I learned this from the guy that sold us tickets to a San Juan Island shuttle.

We had 6 hours on San Juan Island and did 3 things: 1.  ate  2.  visited a lavendar farm  and 3.  tried to spot whales off of the whale watching point.

1.  Let’s start with the most important part of our trip, eating.  We ate at Cask and Schooner. It was pretty yummy, with locally farmed fresh vegetables and meats.  (One of my favorite details about so many of the restaurants in the PNW)  I had a delicious beet and blue cheese salad, and S had a meat pie.   Oh yea, and we had delicious beers to accompany our meals.  (Another favorite detail about the PNW–craft beer everywhere!)  After we had fortified ourselves for our adventure ahead, we bought tickets to a shuttle service that makes stops at all the most touristy of places on the island.

2.  Our first stop was a lavender farm.  lavendar fieldsOkay, that first picture isn’t the lavender farm, but it WAS a farm at some point. (Not even sure where the photo of the farm was taken, just wanted to add it in there).   We were the only people to get off the shuttle at this stop, and the next shuttle wouldn’t be by for an hour.  We were a little fearful of how to fill up the hour looking at lavender.  We chose not to try any of the lavender ice cream or lavender lemonade here, or buy any of the lavender products in the gift shop.  Instead, we decided that paying $7 to harvest our own lavender would be a great way to spend some time.  In the end, we had to rush our lavender clipping to make the shuttle.  Picking the right stalk of lavender can be quite tricky.

3.  Next stop was Whale Watch Park.

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Okay, one of those photos is from the harbor, but I really liked it.

We had an hour here as well.  It was a great place for photo ops.  Beautiful trees, lovely lighthouse, and incredible vistas.  We didn’t spot any whales, but we took lots of photos anyway.  (Every 7 years there is a lack of Orcas in the San Juans due to lack of salmon.  This just happens to be one of the off years,  lucky us.)

I’m so glad we got the chance to experience San Juan Island.  Being spontaneous totally paid off.

 

Birthday Getaway Day 1, Whidbey Island

For the hubby’s birthday I wanted to surprise him with a weekend getaway.  Okay, not really surprise, I’m terrible with surprises.  I am such a people pleaser that I have to make sure it will be to his liking.  I kept asking, “Wanna go here or there? Wanna do this or that?” I guess the surprise was that I took charge and planned it.  Boy, did I plan it!

Here’s a little peek into our Friday afternoon.  We took the Mukilteo Ferry to Whidbey Island and drove up through lovely countryside farms and made it to our cute Bed and Breakfast in Oak Harbor, the Bluff on Whidbey Island.  It was our first time at a B&B.  I always had these romantic notions of what a B&B was and then I started searching for reservations and found that they are actually super cheesy/tacky themed rooms in some old lady’s house.  I found the Bluff on Whidbey Island and was pleasantly surprised.  It was really homey, but not tacky.  The hosts, Kathy and Larry, were a very sweet couple who offered us chocolate chip cookies and tea upon arrival (way to win us over).

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Here are some snapshots of our stay:

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The amazing view from our room.  I loved the furniture.

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There were cute details all over the property, like the tree swing and adirondack chairs.  They also had hand carved signs labeling the trees and flowers.  You could tell Kathy and Larry put lots of thought into their B&B.

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This is Rocky, the resident cat.  He almost made me wish I wasn’t allergic to cats.  

The views of the ocean were spectacular, and the room was spacious and comfy.  The best part was getting to eat breakfast in bed the next morning.

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Decadent breakfast thanks to Kathy.

Oh yea, and we explored the Island a bit in the evening.

whidbey1Gorgeous silver sunset.

That was Whidbey Island for us, a great way to start our weekend journey.

Going Granola: Spencer Island

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Any one of my friends can tell you that I am NOT outdoorsy.  I don’t like running, I haven’t gone camping in nearly two decades, and I will never go on a serious trek.  So you can imagine their surprise when they see my instagram feed flooded with pictures of nature.  The other day one of my friends actually said, “You’re going to come back decked out in hiking gear.”  Knowing how much I love fashion and shopping, I found this statement to be a bit drastic.  (Although I have noticed that if you really want to get into serious hiking, you DO need some weather appropriate and practical clothing.  Who knew there was a hiker look?  When you see us in our tanks and jeans you know we don’t mean business in the wild. Hmmm…perhaps I should invest in some good hiking gear….)

Anyway, the first trail we decided to explore was on Spencer Island in Everett.  You can find a great guide here.  I chose this trail because it seemed totally easy, as well as picturesque.  It’s supposedly a great place to go birding.  (Birding is a sport/hobby in which really obsessive compulsive people find joy in identifying various birds by their appearance, calls, etc.  In fact, some people make it an extreme sport.)  All I saw were a bunch of geese and brown birds, albeit various shades of brown.  I lie, one had some blue on it. We had a great time on this trail, as it was completely flat.  We even packed a lunch of trail mix, boiled eggs, hummus, and carrots.  (I think this was the day I decided I wanted to lose weight)

The best part of this whole trail was the ambient music.  Oh yes, there was a soundtrack to this trail that we found to be a riot.  As we got closer to the stream, so did the sound.  We weren’t sure where exactly it was coming from, but it sounded like a dude belting out country song lyrics to a cd he had on full blast.  He must have been practicing for a karaoke performance he had going on later that day.  Songs about tractors and backwoods filled the trees, and I imagine scared some birds away.  My one wish was to see this man who I imagined wearing a red flannel shirt with the sleeves torn off, dirty jeans, work boots, and a trucker hat.

All in all, this was a really great walk in the sun.  I think when it rains, and the ponds fill with more water, the views are even more amazing.

*warning: If you decide to do this trail, don’t be thrown off by the sewage treatment plant at the entrance.  Once you pass that, it’s really quite beautiful and serene…really.

Friend Sketch #3: The Worldly Journalist

art by Shelly Beauvais at lepetithappy.blogspot.com

art by Shelly Beauvais at lepetithappy.blogspot.com

One of the first friends I connected with here was the Worldly Journalist. Before she came to Seattle, she was an actual tv journalist in Pakistan. Impressed yet?

We met at a building barbecue and I knew we were going to get along when she high fived me within the first 10 minutes of meeting.   I was complaining about how hard it was to park in these tiny spots in our garage, and that I actually already scraped my fender.  Her response was, “I know, what do they think we all drive Mini Coopers?” To which I replied, “I DO drive a Mini Cooper.” We laughed and high fived.  Great way to make a new friend.  Since then, she has also high fived over the declining childhood obesity rates in the US.  She’s pretty awesome!

Eating well is very important to the Worldly Journalist, both eating well at home and dining out.  It’s no wonder she’s an amazing cook.  If I ever need to know how to cook lentils, I ask her.  “Any good recipes for carrots?” She’s sure to have one.   She has even  come to my house to teach me how to make a Pakistani salmon curry.  (Nevermind that she actually just made it for me :P, double bonus!) She makes our building seem like a real neighborhood with her friendly smile and hugs.

Friend Sketch of the Worldly Journalist

Age range: 28-31

Marital Status: Married

Favorite Hobby: Going out to dine/making delicious meals

Favorite Store: Macy’s

Occupation: Public Relations/Journalist

Brief Description:  The Worldly Journalist is well educated, well spoken, and easy going.  She enjoys chatting and hanging out at a cafe. She’s always up for a walk to the library or a trip to Target.  But, when you meet up with her make sure you spent some time on your hair and makeup.  She is always perfectly coiffed–hair, makeup, and nails. (I think she may have a lipstick to compliment each of her outfits.) Don’t worry though, she will not forget to compliment you on your ensemble as well, which will make you feel that you both look good.

When you move to Seattle, she should definitely be the person you ask for a salon recommendation.

She has proven to be my go to friend in Seattle for a spontaneous outing about town.

You Are What You Eat: 9 Reasons Why My Waistline Hates Me

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I have always been one of those people that everyone is annoyed by.  You know, the person who never has to work out, yet never looks pudgy.  I could eat whatever I wanted and be a couch potato and still fit into my size 0 dresses.  (Don’t hate)

Then I decided to go on my first diet EVER.  Why? you might be asking.  Well, because my acupuncturist thought it might improve my fertility by lessening inflammation and making my womb a happy place for a baby to camp out.  So I went full force into this Paleo type diet and committed myself to it for 4 whole months.  It was rough, but potentially worth it.  I even lost weight (not an intention at all)!

A month before our move to Seattle, I quit the diet as a rebellion to our second failed IVF.  Since then, I have been spiraling out of control.  I didn’t think I was doing that badly, until a week ago I noticed my belly was distended.  “Whoa, I must be having a bad reaction to lactose!” And then it didn’t go away.  And then I stepped on a scale and my eyes nearly bugged out of my head at a number I had NEVER seen before.

I generally don’t care about the number on the scale, as long as you feel comfortable in your own skin, what’s a number anyway?  But right now I’m not feeling comfortable in my own skin.  I’m feeling swollen, uncomfortable, and frankly, gross.  I’m actually confused as to how I have put on 10 pounds in 6 weeks.  I don’t THINK I’m eating that differently than I did before the diet. Do diets mess up your metabolism so that when you go off of them your body reacts by storing fat?  (I am gonna believe that totally made up theory to comfort myself.  “It’s not my fault.  My body’s metabolism is all funky right now.”)

But if I’m being totally honest with myself, this pickle I’m in is due to me having way too much fun here in Seattle.  The top 9 reasons are pictured above.

1. Poutine (OH, God, Poutine!)

2.  Beecher’s Mac and Cheese

3.  Baked Beans and Toast (Brunch at Tilikum Place Cafe)

4. Smore’s (Dessert at Local 360)

5. Beer (Happy Hour Everywhere here!)

6. Ice Cream (I now have a sweet tooth)

7. More Brunch (Pettirosso)

8. Chocolate Popcorn (need I say more?)

9. Nachos (at Cactus)

Should I go back on a diet? Should I embrace the new rolls on my belly? What’s a girl to do?

*The positive to this story is that my neighbors ask me for food recommendations, and I’ve been here less time than they.  (Is this really good news?)

Friend Sketch #2: The Southern Belle

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Before I moved to Seattle, I didn’t realize there would be so many people transplanted here from all over our country and the world.  It seems people have come to this city from all over (especially to work in the booming tech industry).  I find myself meeting more people from very different walks of life here than I did in Los Angeles (that might be because I didn’t really meet that many new people in LA, being the introvert that I am).

But here I have made lots of new friends.  One such friend hails from the South.  I don’t think I’ve ever been friends with someone from the South.  It’s kind of fun.

Friend Sketch of the Southern Belle

Age range: 25-29

Marital Status: Married

Favorite Hobby: Going to events (baseball games, dance shows, festivals)

Favorite Store: Free People

Occupation: Civil Engineer

Brief Description:  The Southern Belle really knows how to make you feel like fast friends.  She uses colloquialisms I remember learning when I was a kid, and has a genuine warmth about her that is so welcoming.  She laughs at every joke you make, sometimes with such fervor you’d think you might have a go at being a stand up comic.  She is also extremely excitable and becomes giddy at the mention of real southern sweet tea.  In public she is always extremely polite.  Although I don’t think people these days appreciate politeness (or at least people in the West).

One time while we were in line at a public restroom she actually offended the person in front of us by calling her “ma’am.” “UH, I think it’s weird that you called me ma’am, since I’m like the same age as you.” Is it weird? We thought it was hysterical.

When you move to Seattle, she will probably be the first person to greet you with a warm smile and an invitation to lunch.

Most Admirable Quality: The ease with which she can maneuver a crowd and make you feel comfortable.

I need to learn this skill, instead of being the awkward maker.