Spring Has Come Finally!

Spring has finally arrived here in Seattle! As the cherry trees blossoms awash the area in whitish-pinkish color, there are many signs of spring has finally here! The tulips are starting to come out of their slumber, and the yellow heads of daffodils are shining brightly through the gray days of spring. Finally after a roller coaster ride of a winter season, spring has come.

While large crowds crammed themselves into the University of Washington’s quad full of cherry trees, the Washington Park Arboretum and the Japanese Garden’s cherry trees where in bloom minus the large crowds. For four hours I walked the winding paths through the different gardens soaking in the spring sunshine with the cherry trees and dogwood trees in full bloom.

Unexpected find in the rhododendron garden! These beauties are Camellias. They are a broad leaf evergreen shrub with pink, white and red large showy flowers. I want to have these in my garden one day!

Photography done on a Samsung Galaxy S9 phone.

Which Way Is Your Deck Chair Facing?

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Which way is your deck chair facing?

I came across this little comic while cleaning out paper piled up over the past year. Little bits and pieces shoved in file folders, hence this comic, told the small story of what has transpired in 2018. Some of these pieces of paper showed where my “deck” chair was pointed. Every year I have blogged, I always look back on what happened in the year (What A Year It Has Been) and thought about the lesson or experiences I have encountered. Yet where was my deck chair facing? Was it facing backward instead of forwards?

I remember last year as I was riding the ferry all over the Puget Sound, I always found myself at the back of the boat as the ferry pulled away saying goodbye, but as the boat headed toward the new destination, it was in the front ready to greet whatever was to come once I stepped off the boat. Then there were times I was at the front of the boat looking at the horizon the whole time. The horizon the future, the port left the past.

The song Auld Lang Syne comes to mind around New Year’s Eve.

Should Old Acquaintance be forgot,
and never thought upon;
The flames of Love extinguished,
and fully past and gone:
Is thy sweet Heart now grown so cold,
that loving Breast of thine;
That thou canst never once reflect
On old long syne.

The song is often used as symbolism to endings/new beginnings. New Year means new beginnings, hope for the future, hope for an answer long overdue, or a long waited for a goodbye to the past. Saying goodbye to the past year in the Scottish tradition reminds us to not have the past keep holding us back. Make a decision which way you want to greet the new year.

Yet the wax eloquent of Lucy’s statement to Charlie Brown hits into a deep recess of those of us who find ourselves standing one foot in the past and another foot in the future. You could say our deck chair is neither in one direction nor our cruise ship out of port.

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Photo by allows the happiest face on Pexels.com

The deck chair facing which direction indicates where you want to go in life. Where you want to go this year. Facing the bow towards the future? Facing the stern towards the past? Or does the chair face in another direction? Is the new year a new beginning or is it an ending?  The deck chair is the decision we all must make about the new year ahead of us.

On the cruise ship of life, pull up a deck chair and decided in 2019 which way your deck chair is going to be facing. Where it is facing is where your year is going to go.

Christmas Of Years Past

This girl may have been watching too much Hallmark Channel Christmas movies and now it may have gone to her head… a little. Christmas time for some reason makes past eras (1800s anyone?) seem closer than any other time of year (except for baseball season).

Image result for Miss Bennet: Christmas at PemberleyLast year a friend told me about the Meeker Mansion being all dressed up for Christmas in a Victorian theme. Every year the Meeker Mansion opens its doors day after Thanksgiving through eighteenth of December to the public for a special holiday exhibit. This special Christmas showing raises funds for the Puyallup Historical Society’s upkeep and repairs of this old historical home.

It has been a very long time since I have been down in Puyallup (last remembered 2011). When you have all the Christmas shopping done early, and need to get out of the Seattle holiday madness, go further south.

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The Meeker Mansion sits in the old part of Puyallup as a relic from a time long gone, and every year the mansion is decorated for Christmas in the late Italianate Victorian style. Ezra Meeker the man the Victorian mansion is named for was a leading pioneer (physical parts of the Oregon Trail exists today because of him), first mayor of Puyallup and the “Hop King” of his day (Washington Hops).

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Photo Credit: bookwormhistory.com

During Christmas season the house is dressed up for a Victorian Christmas. Each of the seventeen rooms on the tour are decorated ready to receive guests for a Christmas house party at any moment.

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Even the kitchen is decorated for the holidays!

Today the mansion is still undergoing painstaking work to bring all the rooms back to original decoration during the time when the Meeker’s were in residence. At the time the first and second floors of the house are completely finished to include period era furniture with all the trappings of grand house at the turn of the century. The third floor, unfortunately, is not open for exploring.

20181123_133045.jpgThe house around the time of it being built had modern convenience of having electricity and running water. As you can see the tree is plugged into an outlet in the wall that is original to the house.

Cannot have a real Victorian Christmas without a piano. This one was waiting to for Silent Night to be played.

Scene out of many of those Christmas cards!

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A little crowed at the beginning to day, but my the time I got to the first floor most of the people were already gone. I would recommend coming a little later in the day as it is not so much crowed.

Avoid The Porch Pirates This Holiday Season

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Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

It’s the holidays and you know what that means? Presents go missing off the porch or even under the tree or whatever you put presents under! In the past you could have a package dropped off on the porch without a problem, but those days are long gone!

Porch Pirates or as you can call them……thieves have shown up in neighborhoods across the country!

Nothing can ruin the holiday cheer like a person walking up to your house and steal in broad daylight something from you. Here in the Seattle area there has been an increase of packages missing, outdoor objects disappearing, car and home break-ins, that have caused many neighbors to start installing security cameras and the Ring doorbell to deter or catch these people in the act.

Still, there are simple things to do to protect those packages during the holidays and year round.

1. Get a P.O. Box
It is a federal crime to steal someone else’s mail or packages. BUT, it has not stopped people! A few years ago I signed up for a P.O. Box at the local post office after mail started disappearing out of the street mailbox. Anything deemed to be important (bills, banking, birthday cards, etc.) is sent to the P.O.Box and anything not important (advertisements, catalogs, etc.) goes to the street mailbox. Any packages sent to the P.O. Box will be held securely in a locked box and the key along with the notification will be put in your P.O. Box for you. Anything that is too big would be held securely with a notification to pick it up put into the box as well.

2. Send It To Work
Some employers allow employees to send their packages to their work’s address. My current employer gives this option to all employees to send their personal packages (things consider valuable or health related) to the shipping receiving department. This option is only secure as the environment you work in. 

3. Amazon Lockers, Amazon Hub & BoxLock
Amazon Locker is a self-service parcel delivery service offered by online retailer Amazon. Amazon customers can select any Locker location as their delivery address, and retrieve their orders at that location by entering a unique pick-up code on the Locker touch screen. However, certain third-party sellers on Amazon may not be able to ship to an Amazon Locker, due to their use of other shipping services such as FedEx or UPS that require a signature. Amazon Hub is a delivery locker for apartment lobbies. The delivery locker accepts packages from all carriers (FedEx or UPS).

The BoxLock is a new app-based lock connects with delivery companies designed to prevent theft of delivery packages left by the front door. In addition to the anti-theft aspect, packages are protected from bad weather. When couriers get to your house, they scan the package for their system (they all use handheld mobile scanners) and then scan the label with the BoxLock. Once the label is approved by the lock, it opens and allows the driver to leave the package inside. After you get a notification of delivery.

4. UPS Stores
If you know the carrier is UPS, you can have it held at the UPS store location for pick up. Customers receive a notification telling them their package is ready for pickup at any of their 9,000 store locations.

5. Signature Required
By having a signature required, shippers cannot leave the package without a signature from you. UPSP recommends this for those who will not be able to receive the package at a certain location (home).

Or get a whole new security system

 Ring Doorbell System & Google’s Nest System
I have seen recent notifications on Facebook about neighbors sharing neighborhood watch videos from their Ring doorbell. If it was not for one said neighbor I may not have known there was a suspicious man walking up to people’s houses when no one was home on our block! The same goes for Google’s Nest system. I friend of mine recently installed on for her home and she has a peace of mind now after her house was broken into. I know there will be a security system in my stocking this year!

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Ring Doorbell

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Google Nest Doorbell

With these simple ways of protecting against package thievery from ruining the holiday cheer, you will have a merrier holiday season!

 

Disclosure: This post does not contain affiliate links or paid advertisement for the products mentioned above. I do not make a commission on any of the above products.  All opinion are my own!

Falling In Love With Bivalves

A long time ago I had some very bad mussels dish at a fancy seafood restaurant which was the reason I never touched certain bivalves. Clams where the only thing I would eat with a shell in this department. This all changed when I toured the Penn Cove Mussel Farm on Whidbey Island and Taylor’s Shellfish Farm in Bow. Not only did I get to sample fresh mussels, clams, and oysters, but I learned more about how each farm raises them in the most sustainable ways possible. I even was able to see a geoduck up close, something very few of us are afford in a restaurant.

Penn Cove Shellfish Mussel Farms

To get to the mussel beds out in Penn Cove, I had to board a boat at the old Coupeville Wharf. This is the famous wharf everyone has to take a picture of for social media, and on this morning, the wharf had a coastal seaport asleep vibe waiting to be awoken by the sun.

DSC00353Once in the boat, I sported the most stylish bright orange life vest and off towards the mussel beds we went. Once in the area, we saw mussel beds loaded down into the water with harbor seals lounging on top looking very happy. Most of the beds at the time had small mussels growing, but a few of the beds were big enough to harvest. It takes about a year for a mussel to grow the size for harvesting.

DSC00334DSC00311IMG_3299DSC00331Penn Cove Shellfish Mussel Farms grows more of a native mussel to the Pacific Coast-Penn Cove, but they also grow Mediterranean Mussels as well. The mussels are grown mostly in their Penn Cove location, but they also grow other shellfish like clams and oysters at their other location in Willapa Bay.

DSC00341After the tour was finished, our group received a 15lb bag of mussels to bring back to share with our friends.

DSC00395Interesting fact: mussels are more popular in Belgium, Netherlands, and other landlocked German-Franco countries. The first mussel farm on the west coast of the US was established in the 1970s and is Penn Cove Shellfish Farm.

Taylor Shellfish Farms

DSC00589When you hear Taylor Shellfish Farms, you may think of the Oyster Bars popping up all over the Seattle -Bellevue area of recent. But the real treat is to visit the location of the farm itself off Chuckanut Drive in Bow. Here you can have a taste of oysters while enjoying the view of the oyster growing beds and seeing first hand how those oysters are harvested.

DSC00593Here I tasted the different types of oysters grown and got an up close look at a delectably, the goeduck which goes for $70 lb which translates into $80-100+ at a seafood restaurant! I really wanted to try a small piece just to see why people want to eat this, but only if you buy one.

DSC00608DSC00611What does a person do with a geoduck? This even sparked some… let’s say.. inappropriate jokes regarding what a goeduck looks like. Even a shirt being sold in the market store played on this inappropriate joke. Pacific Northwest native the geoduck is known as “the good time clam.” Yep, I typed that!

IMG_3660IMG_3671The famous oyster shells are spread all over the ground outside which goes to show how close from tide to table really is.

Overall, I do believe I will be eating more bivalves in the future. Spending a whole day touring both shellfish farms was a treat, by had the opportunity to see how sustainable shellfish farming is and how it contributes to a healthy environment in our water ways, all the while eating homegrown shellfish in the process.

Tale Of Two Forts| Casey & Ebey

Forts are all over Whidbey Island and a few are even state parks! Fort Casey was located close to where I was staying making it an easily accessible place to explore on an early crisp sunny morning and Fort Ebey just a fifteen-minute drive toward Oak Harbor.

Fort Casey:

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Fort Casey is located five miles from Coupeville next door to the Port Townsend-Coupeville Ferry terminal. The fort was established around the 1890s as a World War I coast artillery fortification to protect the Puget Sound at the Admiralty Inlet area. The fort was decommissioned after World War II and made into a state park.

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On a quiet morning, I decided to explore the fortifications early before the crowds. In relative peace, I explored the arm structures, battlements and the iconic large guns reinstalled after becoming a historical site.

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For some reason, I found this funny!

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The iconic Admiralty Lighthouse built in 1903 was not open at the time. Maybe when I return for another visit to Whidbey Island I will have to stop by.

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Fort Ebey:

Fort Ebey just like Fort Casey was part of the World War II coastal defense system with smaller battlements. The old fort has a lot of hiking trails and beach access to explore.

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One such battlement had a series of tunnels to explore in the dark. With a flashlight and my phone, I walked around the dark rooms and passageways. I should have known that a walking around a dark secluded area would not be a smart thing to do. At one point when I was walking back down another semi-dark passageway, I caught a dark figure out of the corner of my eye off in a dark bunker. At first, I thought “oh hell! I saw a ghost.” But quickly realized it was a person and he was sorry to scare me, but I was already running down the corridor out towards light and to my car. This really should have taught me a lesson in not going to these places alone!

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After a scare just wanted to calm my nerves so I headed towards the beach to get some sea breeze. The waves were crashing in at an alarming rate. There were moments when the waves were huge, enough to boogie board or surf at one point.

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After what seemed like hours I headed back to my car and headed back to Camp Casey for a day of sunbathing at the pool.

 

Have you been to any of these forts? Did you find the Fort Ebey tunnel a little scary? Let me know in the comments!