In a fog?

20141007_104301-1Fall in the Pacific Northwest is known as a time of true beauty. Colors of yellow, orange, red, and green paint the landscape and remind us all to stop and take in the natural splendor that is Washington State. With this time of year also comes the fog, wind, and rain! And let me tell you… there’s a lot of that! Many Pacific North westerners are on a steady Vitamin D regimen that’s pretty much the norm.

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The Holiday Season is upon us!

With the holidays approaching everyone is thinking about family. Should we do the holidays at grandmas or maybe rent out a nice cabin on a beautiful snowy hill-side so everyone can relax and enjoy. Perhaps you’ve become very popular during this time of year and everyone would like for you to split your time between grandma, grandpa, mother-in-law, father, uncles and aunties and so on. Whatever the case may be, it can be a wonderful and stressful time of year for all of us!

Up the hill and under the bridge to Grandmother's house we go!
Up the hill and under the bridge to Grandmother’s house we go!

This time of year also brings to mind those people who don’t have families to celebrate with. It’s amazing how your frame of mind can change on a drop of a dime when you see someone with no one. It’s times like these that remind me to be true to the spirit of the holiday and remember the traditions that made it worth celebrating.

At our marina I have come across multiple millennials who have chosen a way of life img_2821that distance them from their family members. They talk of friends and colleagues being their family and think only of the great times to come because they’re in charge of creating them. Though we aren’t on the same paths, it’s refreshing to see the holiday season through these kinds of eyes.

So what is family? We want so badly to spend good quality time with our family but for a lot of people, that is more work than reward. So why not change the definition of family? Prepare for the spirit of the holiday to be one filled with family that builds you up to be better than you are! Reviving your soul for the year to come and push you to better the world around you.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to go out and tell all of your family that you no longer want to spend the holiday season with them because they drive you nuts! But I do think it’s smart to be honest with your family, and make these holiday gatherings times that you will remember fondly and want to do again in the future. All people want to enjoy themselves when it comes down to the heart of it. And if someone is truly a loved one, then they love to see you enjoy yourself as well. So here are some tips to get that conversation rolling…

  1. Ask family members to have a holiday planning meeting.
  2. Start the meeting by asking what others would like first. When others get to speak their mind before you then they’re more apt to listen to you when prompted.
  3. Be specific and take charge. Part of the headache of the holidays is the planning, so be prepared to take that burden. They will thank you for it and you’ll have a much better time because of it. Check out my Top 5 things to plan for the holidays list!
  4. State the real reason why you wanted to have this planning meeting. Whether it’s to keep Aunt Joe from wrestling Grandpa on the living room floor over a football game, or whether the kids get to open one present on Christmas Eve all together or not. There are many little traditions that are not valuable or helpful toward the overall experience and can be changed! Remember it’s never too late to do that.

Changing these less than ideal traditions to ones that transform an experience to one of memorable proportion’s is not as hard as you think.

Here some ideas to get you started…

Thanksgiving traditions-

  • Making crafts of pilgrims and Indians
  • Making “I am thankful lists” for dinner table talk
  • A game of family flag football
  • A decoration station, to make Thanksgiving decorations for the table or room where dinner will be held.
  • Check out all these other ideas on Pinterest

Christmas traditions –

  • Making Christmas crafts
  • Go caroling
  • Make Christmas cards
  • Play Christmas charades
  • More on Pinterest!

Another thing to think about during holiday planning is in the kid’s department. If you have children who don’t like holiday foods then you have to be prepared. Kids can make a party, or break a party! So make sure to bring their favorite snacks, then if they don’t like what’s on their plate, they aren’t starving and therefore making your holiday experience a lame one. I know from experience that when I cook for people and they either don’t like my food or can’t eat it because of an allergy I feel really bad. So remind your children to be thankful and to put your game face on and enjoy a meal that you may or may not have had to cook because somebody special prepared it with love.

Remember that the holidays are meant to bring family, friends and loved ones around each other to make memories that shape our families morals and build us into more caring and loving people. So go in with an attitude of gratitude and truly be thankful to be able to spend time with those that you love and love you in return.

Happy Holidays!

Top 5 things to plan for the holidays!

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  1. WHO- Find out who is coming this year and if anyone has food allergies!
  2. WHAT- Assign dishes so everyone’s included.
  3. WHERE- Who’s hosting this year’s holiday gala?
  4. WHEN- Respect the Host and/or Hostess by having a set time of arrival.
  5. WHY- Make some fun plans to create a memorable party. See more on Pinterest!

Happy Halloween or Harvest or whatever people call it these days!

No matter what you call it, society has fully embraced this candy gorging, scary costume parading, staying out late and being a trickster holiday. It can be a ton a fun and a parent’s nightmare all at the same time! But no matter what age you or your kids are there are ways to celebrate safely and enjoy every minute of this crazy day!

Halloween for the little ones’-

With the younger generations it’s a great day for some crafts! There are countless ideas on Pinterest and google or if your in a hurry you can swing by almost any dollar store or craft store and pick up some easy craft kits. Also check for events happening in your community. Churches are a great place to let your little ones run off their sugar high because they focus on the harvest theme which is so much more fun at this young age. If you choose to take your little one’s out trick or treating, make sure to read my Top 5 List for a successfully fun time!

Halloween for kids and teens-

This day is a golden opportunity to teach your child the right and wrong in trickster land. That’s what it’s all about right? Trick-or-treating is what it’s all about at this age. So teach them how to play good humored tricks that are fun and not destructive. And remember that not all kids have this kind of parenting so power in numbers, and having a solid plan are the most important tips for keeping your kiddo’s safe!

Check out these fun tricks on Parents.com!

Halloween for adults-

If you’re attending a Halloween party this year, remember to keep in mind the fact that just because you can go wild in disguise doesn’t mean you should! Don’t be the drunk with the smeared makeup and the annoying cackle.img_2850

Tips to keep your dignity and your productive November 1st-

  1. Drink at least 90 ounces of water, like 3 big water bottles!
  2. Eat a big dinner no matter what!
  3. Always have a water back (glass of water after a drink)
  4. Have a ride home!

 

Here’s to wishing everyone a very fun and spooky Halloween night!

 

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Top 5 ways to Trick-or-Treating success with young kids!

  1. Have a plan so you know you can fit in all the fun!
  2. Eat a good dinner! Even if your going out at 3pm, have a big dinner to keep those tummies from growling. (Need a fun dinner idea???)
  3. Pack a travel bag with water and wet wipes!
  4. Let your kids lead the way… it’s their night!
  5. Get home early so you can go through your child’s treasure trove of candy! #1 because it’s fun to dump it out in the middle of the living room floor and #2 to make sure it’s all safe 😉

 

Orcas Island

Stepping onto Orcas Island is like stepping back in time. To a place where folks smile and wave at each other, where water meets sand and the sound rushes through you while the cool sea breeze swipes your worries away. With a fabulous ferry ride behind you, your now ready to wined through beautiful country farms and magical hillsides of pottery, or cozy up in a seaside hotel with a fabulous meal.

Anacortes to Orcas Ferry Schedule!

The possibilities are endless on Orcas! You can have a rugged outdoorsy vacation or enjoy the life of luxury all within a 30 minute drive! You’re on Island Time now!

 

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When looking for an outdoors adventure, head to one of the best parts of Orcas Island, Moran State Park. You can spend an entire week here and still be in awe of this natural wonder. Hiking through old growth Cedar forests with moss hanging from every tree and little streams making paths through the forest floor on your way to numerous gorgeous waterfalls is just the beginning. All of the hiking trails are very well maintained and they open up to mountain biking in the fall and winter too! After a good hike or if your the sort that would rather kick back and relax with a good book and a fishing pole you wont be disappointed because Orcas has 5 freshwater lakes that are stocked with trout and bass and have easily accessible boat rentals or public fishing docks. Once you’ve taken in the beauty from below the canopy, rise above on Mt. Constitution where you can soak up views of all the San Juan Islands and neighboring Vancouver BC as well.

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Check out more facts on Moran State Park!

– Kayak rentals

-Bike rentals

Rosario Resort is closely connected with Moran State park and equally as interesting! You must explore this resort for yourself when visiting Orcas and trust me, you wont be disappointed! The beautifully landscaped gardens sweep you through the incredible property that’s nestled in East Sound’s Cascade Bay. They have 2 beautiful outdoor pools,  tennis courts, and a prized mansion museum and hotel. There’s also a wonderful music hall where they have weekend performances.

Also nestled on this side of the island is the cute little town of East Sound. Here you can find amazing restaurants, a booming farmer’s market, quaint seaside galleries and plenty of ice cream, coffee, and knick-knack shops. They have a great Grocery Store as well called the Island Market, and on a side note… the employees there had the best customer service of any grocery store I’ve ever shopped at! It’s sad to say, but that is a real treat these days!

With Orcas being the largest of the San Juan Islands it’s easy to spend a week or more exploring not only east sound but the west side of the island as well! There is a fabulous pizza parlor “Island Pie” at Deer Harbor marina that can’t be beat. And after dinner you can take a relaxing sunset stroll on the docks or a nice walk around the little beach.

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Sunset on C dock at Deer Harbor Marina

Make sure to check out West Beach Resort! This is my #1 recommendation for an amazing place to stay! They have everything you need for an all inclusive experience with beautiful seaside cabins and tent sites, boat rentals, restaurant you name it. It’s a classy casual environment where everyone is having a great time for a reasonable price.

Not to far from West Beach Resort is Orcas Island Pottery… a magical place where nature meets the kiln and art is born! Literally, you drive up a lush, fern and cedar tree covered hillside into a tiny neighborhood of bohemian style homes that make up an incredible shopping experience. You wander through trellised vines and tall ornamental grasses into a garden of beautiful flora and fauna, an architectural marvel of a treehouse, and multiple buildings displaying pottery from many different talented artists in the community. It’s a piece of Orcas Island that you have to experience yourself to truly understand this gentle, peaceful island.

Orcas is a place that is best described by it’s wildlife. Everywhere you turn you see a doe and her fawn feeding on the grass or rabbits nibbling off the blackberry bushes. Nothing is fearful here! The wildlife and sea life are plentiful and nature rules on these remote Islands because the people who call them home take great pride in keeping it that way. So thank you and hopefully you all have the chance to experience Orcas Island!

*Visit Orcas Island*

 

Cycling through awesomeness!

Bicycling is one of my family’s most enjoyable past times! It’s something we can all do together that’s a healthy, challenging, and fun activity. We frequent skate parks, neighborhood streets and mountain terrain all year long. But we came to a large snag during our last big life change (moving onto a sailboat). Our bikes are really big and take up a ton of room on the deck when we’re underway. We tried to store them inside the cabin, and that was no easy feet! It worked but it was all we could do keep ourselves out of the way of a swinging handlebar or protect our beautiful wood finishes from the jagged pedals.img_2395

 

So we decided that we would have to figure out a way to have our preferred means of travel fit our way of life! Where there’s a will, there’s a way! My husband, being the research guru he is had done some reading on this idea of a folding bike that packs away to about 1/3 the size of a normal bike. It sounded good but would it work? So we headed to Skagit Cycle in Burlington, WA for some more advice. 

Now understand that when you live on a boat you acquire a certain smell that some would call musty… It’s a boat smell! And our only vehicle is more of a storage unit then a means of decent transportation. So we show up all smelly in an ugly old van that our son had just thrown a huge fit in because of being tired from the early ferry ride and Alec, the store manager was super friendly! He was immediately making jokes and lightening the mood by just being helpful and truthfully answering all our questions. He showed us different styles and sizes, and took extra time to teach us all the tricks on assembling and disassembling these crazy folding contraptions. Most importantly he listened and must have spent at least an hour with me, my husband and my crazy but sweet little 6 year old boy who is like a wild animal in a feeding frenzy anytime he steps into a bike shop. He never got into that pushy salesman mode to either get us to buy or leave. So right off the bat, we were made to really feel comfortable taking our time and making the right choice on a bike that was…

#1. Going to cost a lot!

#2. Going to be my main mode of transportation!

#3. Going to be the last bike I buy for a long time!

So I choose a newer model, the Dahon Briza D8 that isn’t quite as dorky as the folding bikes I’ve seen in the past. And my husband bought the Dahon IOS D9 which was not in the store yet so Alec special ordered it at no extra charge and because we live on the islands, he was even willing to work out a special deal where they would meet us at the ferry terminal to pick it up if needed. They really went so above and beyond the normal level of customer service you receive at a little family owned bike shop.

*Check out the Briza!

*Check out the IOS!

To top off the experience, they gave us a very fair offer on the bikes we were trading in. And the following day we came back with a bike rack that we had no further need of, so he willingly took that in on trade and hooked me up with a new Giro helmet and front hanging bag that clips into my bike.

Needless to say, we would recommend this shop to anyone and everyone in need of anything bicycle related, or if your just looking for a business that treats people kindly and doesn’t judge a book by it’s cover. They are honest, fun and passionate about the sport. Visit Skagit Cycle in Burlington, Anacortes, or Oak Harbor! We have been to the Anacortes and the Burlington stores and they both rock!!! We’ll be back for sure!

Thank You Skagit Cycle!

Skagit Cycle

 

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Now there’s plenty of room in the boat for our bikes!
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