Aug 122013


As I sit here reminiscing about my weekend at my family reunion, sweeping stray pine needles out of my suitcase, smelling campfire smoke in my sweatshirt and going through the photos, I am grateful. I’m grateful that I have such a cool and fun and close family. As a kid, I always looked forward to the big family reunion mid-summer. A weekend with the other cousins, running amok all day and going way past our bedtime playing flashlight tag and sneaking beer from the keg when the adults weren’t looking (or pretending not to see), these were the memories my childhood was built on.

Even now as an adult, I still have fond memories of all the summers we’ve had together–almost 30 years worth of family reunions (the first one started in 1984). We’re all getting older, many cousins have their own kids now, but we still have this common bond. A group memory. My favorite that we discussed this weekend was remembering the early days of the family Scavenger Hunt where we had to crawl underneath an electric fence to get to the open field where things were hidden. And of course the older cousins daring the younger one to pee on the electric fence. Aren’t kids fun?

There are a lot of changes coming up in my life. Getting married next year has created this intense feeling of inclusion and nesting. I am so happy that Michael is being brought into the (sometimes wacky and weird) fold of my family and I hope that when we have kids, they get to experience the same fun things I did as a kid. I think family is so important and I am forever shocked when I come across other people who never had that; as a kid I thought everyone’s family was like ours.

This weekend we went up to my cousin Kristin’s house for the family reunion. She lives in Poulsbo with her husband and son and they have recently started their own food cart, Bonfire Ovenworks. This is a dream that Matthew had and has made it a reality–a very delicious reality.


They specialize in pizza and even though they are fairly new, their pizzas are delicious! They remind me a lot of Apizza Scholls–perfect, crispy crust with that smokey flavor from the wood fire stove.


When we arrived Friday night, Matthew and Kristin were hard at work making pizzas for everyone. Their set up is super awesome and I was so impressed with the pizzas! I ate WAY TOO MUCH pizza. They made 19 pies Friday night and there were no leftovers.


They even did a gluten free pizza for Michael, which was surprisingly good. By far, my favorite pizza was the one with arugula, sun-dried tomatoes and a balsamic reduction. I want to eat that pizza again!

Friday night we were all sitting around the campfire when we started seeing flashes of light in the night sky. A storm was coming in. Michael and I crawled into our tent and I laid there in my sleeping back listening to the rumbling thunder in the distance, the clap of lightning and then finally huge raindrops hitting the top of the tent. It was so relaxing and mesmerizing and I was lulled into a deep sleep by the rain. It was really nice. Thankfully the next day had nice weather and no more rain.

One of my favorite memories of the weekend was going for a run with my cousin Di on Saturday morning. Since my knee injury, I haven’t run outside since last September. Almost a year. I’ve gotten up to almost 1.5 miles on the treadmill at the gym so this was the first time I went outside running. Di is a super athlete, does Crossfit and used to play soccer, but she hates running so she was okay with going at my pace (thank you!). We ended up doing a little over 3 miles of run/walking. If I had to guess I’d say, 1.5 or 1.75 miles of actual running and the rest was walking.


It felt so good to get out there! I didn’t have knee pain while I did it, I felt great (but sore) the next day and I think it went well!

Saturday after lunch was the annual Scavenger Hunt. My cousin Lea took over the planning from her dad (who’d done it almost 30 years) and she did a great job! She had everyone sign up into teams of 5 and then when the Scavenger Hunt began she told the boys to go on one side, girls on the other and SURPRISE that was our new teams! Two teams! Boys against girls!

The Scavenger Hunt can get pretty competitive and of course there is smack talk, even more so since it was girls against boys. One of the activities was bobbing for plums. It was hilarious. This of course turned into a water balloon fight of epic proportions.




Whatever you do, don’t drop the beer. (Beer provided by Sound Brewery–I really liked their IPA!) Then the Scavenger Hunt took a hilarious turn. Our next challenge:

This was my favorite memory of the weekend. It was the wackiest, most hilarious thing I’ve ever seen at our family reunion! The girls chose Snoop Dog. My aunt was a GREAT sport and offered to be Snoop Dogg. We watched Gin and Juice a few times on my phone for inspiration and then set to work. She made her hair into an afro, used a mascara brush to create a goatee, put on a plaid shirt to mirror the one in the video and we made a plan.


The rest of the girls got hoodies and practiced their moves as the backup dancers. My cousin turned the song on and blasted it outside and my aunt swaggered out with her bottle of gin. 😉


The glasses were a nice touch. And the bling. Haha! Do I even need to say that the girl’s team won the whole thing??? 😉


Kudos to the girls for doing an awesome job! And of course I was there to document it all. (And I was impressed with how quickly my aunt was able to get her hair back to normal. It would take me days to get the knots out of my hair!) Next up was the potluck (so much food), and my cousin Di’s amazing Sheep Herder’s Bread!! I love this stuff!!!


Then we all sat around the campfire playing Catch Phrase (and we might have turned that into a drinking game). Dang, I think it’s been a decade since I’ve done shots. And I can’t remember the last time I laughed as hard as I did this weekend!


Another year of fun memories to be stored in my brain.

Your turn; tell me some happy family memories!

Jun 192013

I left off in my story with Pike Place Market and chocolate (yum). After that Rachel and I drove to her friend Phil’s house in Burien. He lives right in the water at Three Trees Pointe with an amazing view of Puget Sound and the Cascades. I would never tire of that view.


We were at Phil’s house to go kayaking. It was my first time and I was so glad I went with experienced kayakers. I was a little nervous because I didn’t know what I was doing but my fears were cleared up almost immediately. It was so much fun!


They gave me a mini lesson and then the three of us set off in the Puget Sound. We stayed fairly close to shore and never went deeper than 5 feet or so. I never felt unsafe while I was out there. We paddled down (South of Phil’s house) with the wind at our backs and the water pretty calm. I was starting to get the rhythm and hang of paddling and was actually doing pretty well!


I had no sense of time and no sense of distance while we were out on the Sound. The sun was warm and there was a cool breeze and we just paddled down the coast. After a bit we turned around because the wind was picking up and the water was super choppy.


Any skill I developed on the paddle down, went out the window on the way back. We were paddling into the wind, the water was rough and no matter how hard I paddled, it felt like I was going backwards!! It wasn’t as bad as I make it sound–it was still fun just REALLY HARD WORK. I was getting tired, even though I’m in pretty good shape. The rough waves started splashing into the kayak, the salty sea water drying into salt on my face, hands and legs.

We finally made it back and I let the kayak just drift a little by the shore. I was tired but not ready to quit yet. Two little kids sharing a kayak paddled by me and then we got a visit from two sea lions! They poked their little heads out of the water and looked at us curiously. It was such a cool moment.

Rachel and Phil were still paddling up the shore to meet me so I got out of the kayak and did a little shell collecting while I waited. It turned out we were out on the water for two hours. Longer than we planned or thought we’d do! Rachel got pretty sunburned and I got a little sun burn on my legs. Oooops!

After that we said goodbye to Phil and then went back to the hotel to check into our new and upgraded room to clean up. Our new upgraded room was fantastic!


It was about 3:30 at this point and we had just enough time to go out to Woodinville for some wine tasting. Rachel ordered us a car from Uber — something I’d never heard of before but it turned out to be pretty cool. It’s like a car service you can book on your iPhone app. I’m glad we got a car service to go wine tasting.


Woodinville is a great place for wine tasting because there’s so many wineries and tasting rooms right next to each other. Part of it is very walkable, too, so you don’t need a car once you get out there (which is a good idea). The first place we went to was Mark Ryan and we weren’t huge fans of their wines. Rachel and I split our tastings (also a good idea).


The next place we went to was Village Wines, which turned out to be a wine store and tasting room–which meant they didn’t waive the tasting fee if you bought a bottle and the wines weren’t just from Washington. I liked several of the wines I tried but didn’t end up buying any. I was super surprised that my favorite wine I tasted there was a Merlot (Novelty Hill Merlot). It was rich and smooth with hints of chocolate.


Guess what? You get pretty tipsy when you drink wine after kayaking for 2 hours and skipping lunch! Ooops! We got some food at Village Wines to help with that. We got the hummus and veggie plate and an order of their tortellini. The pasta was cold and seasoned with a lemon aioli sauce. It was my favorite snack! I loved it.


The next place we went to is my favorite winery in Washington. It’s called Brian Carter Cellars and I’ve been there twice now and wish both times that I could buy every single one of their wines.

The first wine we tried was the Oriana (51% Viognier, 35% Roussanne, 14% Riesling). Rachel does not like white wines but even she loved it so much she bought a bottle! That says a lot, I think. I bought a bottle of Oriana because I loved it to so much. It was slightly sweet and very crisp. I tasted pear and melons. It was such a refreshing, light wine on a hot a summer day.


The service is always friendly and like I said, the wines are delicious. Our last stop was to Trust. It was a fun tasting room and I bought a bottle from there, too! I needed more snacks because skipping lunch and having wine instead was a bad idea!


I’m really glad we took a car service. It was easy and made it a much more relaxed experience; no stress! Man, what a busy day! Saturday I worked out, had a great breakfast, checked out Pike Place Market, went kayaking, wine tasting and then back to the room to totally crash!


On Sunday it was much more relaxed. Rachel and I had our free breakfast, went to the Fremont Sunday Market and then to the Ballard Locks.



Rachel and I parted ways and I went to my Grandma’s house to spend some time with her. We went through some of her old photo albums and just hung out. It was so nice to spend some time with her and I wished I had more time.


My Grandma was so glamorous looking!!  After that I had a late lunch with my parents for Father’s Day, had time to get a swim in and then picked up Michael. Okay never-mind, Sunday wasn’t relaxing, it was just as busy as Saturday! We didn’t get home to Portland until 10pm. Exhausting weekend? For sure. But so much fun and definitely an adventure!

QUESTION: Have you ever been kayaking? What was your favorite experience?