welcome ... enjoy yourself

Friday, July 25, 2014

happy friday

Happy Friday!!  We made it!!  Today I will be happier than a bumble bee on a bright pink flower.  Hope you all have a great day and a wonderful weekend :)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

baltimore inner harbor


I'm continuing with the travel post theme this week with the last of my photos from Baltimore.  I travelled there for my first official work conference at the beginning of June - which now sounds like a lifetime ago.  Since then, I've been to two weddings, travelled to St. Louis twice, flew to Seattle and Portland, went camping in Northern Wisconsin, saw Lady Gaga, and accepted a new part time job -- all in a seven week span!  Reading all that makes me want to take a nap. 
With the craziness of summer in full swing, I've been trying to take small breaks throughout my day and stick with a regular routine as much as possible.  
And now, back to Baltimore.   

I had last been to Baltimore about six years ago when I was doing my year of service on the East Coast.  But I somehow missed this whole area of the city.  Luckily our hotel was located right on the harbor giving me the chance to take a lovely evening photo walk.   

The weather couldn't have been more perfect during my trip.  Nice warm days with bright blue skies. 

The only thing cooler than all the large boats around the inner harbor was the ginormous Barnes & Noble.  With all the time I spend at libraries, I've barely set foot in an actual book store for years, but this was a cool bookstore to check out.  The inside still had a warehouse feel with large old timey photos of the Baltimore area. 

I opted not to rent any paddle boats, preferring to watch all the families and couples enjoying their time from the safety of the pier.

I walked so long I watched the sun go down and the harbor lights come on.  This long walk was a much needed balance to sitting inside hotel conference rooms all day listening to well informed, but pretty boring talks.  And that's really what this summer has been about for me: finding balance.  In the midst of lots and lots of activity, I'm finding ways to slow down and enjoy one of my favorite times of year -- before it flies by and we're welcoming the beginning of fall once again.

How do you find balance in the busy summer months?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

seattle, washington

I'm wrapping up the Pacific Northwest posts today with some of my favorite photos from our trip to Seattle.  Before our latest trip, I had spent about 2-3 days total in Seattle, always quick trips before we drove or took the train down to Portland to visit family.  This was the first time I had been to Seattle in summer, and I loooooved it.  Like marry it loved it (sorry Paul).  We spent our quick 24 hour trip walking around the city and eating delicious food. 

The day we visited was pretty warm, and I admit I stared pretty longingly at all those kids playing in the fountain.  

Instead of spending a lot of money to go to the top of the Space Needle, we opted for the cheaper, cheesier tourist attraction: the Monorail!!!  Paul had been singing me this song for many years, and I decided it was time for us to check out this World's Fair relic.  

It turns out the Monorail was actually super nice, and I wished that it could have taken me more places around the city.  Seattle, can you work on that?  

After dinner, we walked along the Waterfront - mostly so I could be as close to the water as possible.  Secretly I just wanted to try to see some seals or sea lions.  No wildlife, but I did see some super nice reflections and a gorgeous sunset.  

Seattle - you are such a pretty city!  I'm excited for more trips so I can start to explore more beyond the touristy areas.  Maybe we could stop by one of these swanky places during our next visit??  

Where have you been traveling this summer?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

rocky butte

Things are slightly chaotic in my life right now with transitioning to working at two part time jobs and being in the height of summer activity.  I feel like I need a week long retreat!!  But until I get time for that retreat, I'll calm myself with photos from relaxing places I've visited.  Like these photos from our trip to Portland a few weeks ago. 

Friends of ours took us on a quick scenic drive to Joseph Wood Hill Park, at the top of Rocky Butte on our way to the airport.  A beautiful stone structure was added to the top of the Butte as a WPA project, and it offers amazing views of the mountain tops surrounding the Portland area.  It's one of those out of the way scenic views that we never would have known was there if someone hadn't shown us.   

A no-longer-in-service beacon stands in the center of the park and has been preserved for it's historical awesomeness. 

The views were absolutely amazing.  A large stone "map" points the way to the different peaks visible from the Butte.  We had a pretty clear day for viewing, but it was still difficult to see all of the peaks. 

View of downtown Portland and one of its bridges spanning the Willamette River. 

I think this is Mt. Hood...or maybe it's Mt. Rainier.  A lot of these mountains look the same to this Midwestern girl.

I believe this is Mt. St. Helens (you can tell it's Mt. St. Helens because it's peak was blown off in the volcanic explosion in 1980).  But I'm sure Paul, my go-to volcano expert will let me know if I've switched up the mountains. 

And with that I'm putting in my official request to be transferred to this park for the rest of the day.  Anybody else want to have a picnic with me?  You can come if you promise to bring a book and are ok with "hanging out" being loosely defined as "reading in the same vicinity." 

(Has anyone else been thinking of Finding Nemo while reading this??  Nemo touched the "butte"!)

Monday, July 21, 2014

today i'm thankful for

800 miles driven safely between Milwaukee and St. Louis

a great first week at my new job

three ginormous cucumbers from my mom's garden: ready for the juicer!
watching my dad make friends with sting rays

walking around the St. Louis zoo with Paul and my dad

a nice home cooked salmon dinner

conversations with my parents about marriage

spending a Sunday morning with my sister


the enthusiastic reception of my new blog design

the joy our pups bring to our lives

Friday, July 18, 2014

adventures in wildwood

I love books that I can escape into, books that make me yearn to be part of a world created by an author.  My current favorite escape books are the Wildwood Chronicles by Colin Meloy.  The books are a modern day Chronicles of Narnia-type series based in Portland, Oregon.  The heroine of the books, young Prue McKeel, ventures into "The Impassable Wilderness" and discovers a new world - populated by an evil queen, Wildwood bandits, and talking animals.  
I love how imaginative this series is -- and I also love that I can actually visit the Impassable Wilderness!  The "Narnia" of these books is Portland's Forest Park, the largest urban park in the United States -- 5,157 acres!  Paul and I took an urban hike through Forest Park during our last visit, and while I didn't see any talking animals, I did feel pretty excited to be in the setting of one of my favorite books. 

Portland has such easy access to so many beautiful areas.  I appreciate that their city planners took care to maintain a lot of the land's natural beauty when building roads and houses. 

The giant sequoias don't come up in the Wildwood Chronicles, but they're still pretty neat.  

Ah Wildwood.  Since I can't visit Portland as often as I'd like, I guess I'll just have to indulge my fantasies by reading more Wildwood Chronicles.  

Thursday, July 17, 2014

fourth of july

I decided this year that fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays.  Because any day that everybody has off in the summer time is going to be my favorite.  So I think that means that my holiday rankings are now as follows: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day.  Do you agree?  

We spent fourth of July weekend in Portland, OR, and were lucky enough to celebrate the fourth chilling by a pool on the Columbia River.  I kept asking "is this real life?" 

This is what fancy houses look like in the Pacific Northwest.  They have lots of trees and lots of windows for looking at trees.  I love it. 

We spent all day just laying around.  It was so nice not to have to be anywhere and not to have to do anything except hang out with friends.  

We sat outside until the sun went down and watched the bridge lights go on.  

And then it was time for fireworks.  I've never been so close to real fireworks.  It was a little unnerving but mostly awesome.  What an excellent day. 

Congratulations to Anne in Colorado for winning the popsicle giveaway!  Send me an email with your address to claim your fabulous prize!  And thank you to everyone for reading and for your kind words about the new blog design.  It means a lot!!