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d’s holiday in the land of …. January 6, 2011

Filed under: christmas — ravennagirls @ 1:30 pm
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milk and honey.

rice balls and snow.

What a trip.  It’s no secret I went to Jersey for Christmas {see Christmas 09 here with striking similarities}. 

It always seems that Christmas for me comes twice.  Once at home in Seattle, and then again in NJ.   While my early December weeks were filled to the brim with friends, late night crafting with B, lots of advent church services, twinkling lights, wearing my Christmas outfits, etc… My Christmas week brought something very very different.  Yes, family, obviously! Oh, and obviously rice balls and stuffed shells and a very stuffed me. {insert, resolution one for 2011, lose December I-ate-everything-in-sight weight!}….

But it also brought a whole lot of snow!  A true Nor’easter blizzard! 

So… first presents and Santa from 2010….I gave some pretty fun things this year.  At least, I hope my recipients felt that way.  I had a good time making them at least… and watching people open their presents {my favorite!} …

and church…

ok, i lie, this picture is from an advent benefit concert B and I attended at this amazing church in downtown Seattle right before I left town.  But it’s crazy pretty, right?

and then friends and family and enough rice balls consumed to feed many many more.

and then snow snow snow snow.

The blizzard was perfect for a warm fire, more Christmas movies, playing this new board game my sister got me, chatting with an old friend who is luckily my parents neighbor and could walk down the block to see me, and plowing.

Yes — plowing.

The snow had been coming down most of Sunday afternoon.  By darkness, we took the first pass down the cul-de-sac.  Then I passengered along in the truck as my dad plowed some businesses all around town. 

{full speed action shot!}

{out the truck window as we plow by my parents' house}

Its so quiet in the dark, thick snow.  Nothing to be heard, but my dad’s sirius radio stations, that is….

{snow fallin'}

{garden santa, buried!}

After that first night, the next day was full of shoveling and more plowing.  Oh and snowball fights.

It was an insane amount of snow, 25 ” at the house, to be exact.  That plus the fierce wind made for some deep drifts to shovel.  I should have brought my snow pants!

{view from my side of the truck}

This is my dad, plow master.  This is him in  his element of pure glory, as trapped residents in my parents’ beach-town neighborhood are chanting his name and pretty much throwing a block party in his honor. 


The coastal towns, Ocean Grove included, got about 3 feet of the white-and-fluffy stuff.  And, due to some bureaucratic nightmare, no plows came to their rescue.  {all I kept thinking was  – my street in Seattle will never see a plow according to the City’s snow maps of plow-worthy streets!}

So after three days of ant-like pathways being the only way out of the house… residents banded together and shoveled out to a main road, getting their cars off the street and a small path for my dad to come in.

 Hence the chanting for Mr. Plow Master.  Cabin fever had overcome the neighborhood….

{the doggie neighbor says, "where did the grass go??"}

After we were done and my dad was crowned King, we headed for the beach.

I had never seen a beach all covered in snow.  I usually go there in the summer, after all!   The snow fell, then the wind blew, which resulted in sand covering the snow in some places.  You would never know it was there unless you stepped in it, like I did… and sank. 

{d’s footsteps}

Too pretty for words…



sometimes you go the wrong way and you end up in the right place… November 20, 2010

Filed under: adventures — ravennagirls @ 10:41 pm
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it happened to me recently.

A few weekends ago I took the junior highers on fall retreat.  It was the same location as last year… only sunny this time.

In fact, I had no idea that this mountain was right outside the big lodge windows!!

Pretty spectaular….

I love retreating, can I just say that?  It’s just so …. relaxing yet exhausting, goofy yet powerful, intense yet crazy… Its everything really.   It makes me thankful I have such great 8th graders, even though they woke me up in the middle of the night, even though they took pictures using a flash the entire way up the dark mountain, even though they brought makeup this year and talked about boys, even though they really want me to do everything they are doing every second of the day…

sitting by the fire

They are just seriously the coolest kids I know.

So cool in fact that we went on a little hike.  It was advertised to us by the lodge manager as a mild walk — level and very short.  Some of my girls came, and so did some other jr highers and a few other leaders.  But I drove the van that left the parking lot first and I had the map.

Now before I begin, when I say “map” I really mean a 4″ x 5″ paper with one dark squiggly road on it and a few labels along said road.    I am told, oh, you can’t miss it, it’s around a bend and there is a ranger station.  It’s supposedly called Artists’ Point.

I pull out of the lot, and begin going further up the mountain – winding winding around the curves.  Really spectacular  views … yes, but I was told this place was not far… so where is it?  (and for those of you that don’t know — unlimited hot chocolate at the lodge + switch back roads + the 12 passenger van + kids + too many minutes = a nervous leader who did not bring Dramamine on this adventure.)

Luckily, just as I am about to be seriously worried… we pop out from the road into a parking lot.

No signs to be seen about what the trails were called, but there were tons of people there.  Not a spot in the parking lot.  

We all eagerly jump out kids start running around.  We find the trail head, and with other people all around start walking.  There were big  rocks the kids loved climbing, small areas of snow for a few snowballs, big puddles from melting ices to splash in. 

We keep going on this trail and pretty soon it starts to get steeper, and steeper.  The kids evidently slept way better than I thought last night, because they have energy to burn and still racing ahead.

And before we know it, we are all hiking up the switchbacks up this mountain.  Now, before you think I am whining… This was some serious steep-ness.  Most of the path became small rocks, which started falling as people were walking on them.   This cannot be right, I think.  This is not a short stroll through the woods.  This is like mountain climbing.   {kids beat leaders hands down though, for what it is worth…}

But finally, after what feels like forever… I realize we have not gone the wrong way.  Maybe different from what we set out to do, but certainly not wrong.  We have reached the top and you pop out right next to Mount Baker and all this beauty all around. 

mt baker!

It certainly was the right place to see all that splendor.


…and when we returned we played a very excellent game of  Ticket to Ride, our now yearly tradition….

…with more hot chocolate, but of course.

I hope every weekend is full of fun, laughter, games, deliciousness, and taking wrong turns to end up in exactly the right place.


Whew November 5, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — ravennagirls @ 11:21 pm
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What a week this has been! Lots of work, some fun with the girls, and certainly a lot of productivity, but oye, i’m exhausted.

Spotted this hideaway over at House of Turquoise and wish after long weeks I had a mountain meadow hideaway just this charming.

This is going to be a fun weekend full of a celebration of birthdays (both mom and baby), some crafts around the house, and hopefully a good bit of time in front of the fire. Get some rest, friends!


Weekend in Virginia October 24, 2010

Filed under: photo,travel,Uncategorized — ravennagirls @ 11:26 am
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Last weekend I took a trip out to Virginia to visit my sailor man in and around Norfolk. We have been trying to get out of Norfolk for a couple days each visit in order to see more of Virginia – especially since fall has come earlier to areas away from the coast. So, this time we stayed out near Charlottesville for two nights and went to Jefferson’s Monticello. This is a must for architecture nerds, so now I can say I’ve been, and it was pretty fascinating. So, a post in photos:

House Reflected in the Fish Pond

 When we showed up a little before noon to buy tickets, we found that the next places for tours inside the house was almost 5 pm! So, we went up to the grounds, took a tour of the garden (no wait), and led ourselves through all the self guided areas of the house. We’ll do the house inside next time, although i think the grounds are really the most spectacular part.

View back to Norfolk

 As part of the development of the estate, Thomas Jefferson decided he needed more room for growing food for all the folks that lived and worked on-site. So, he developed a plot just below the house that is about 40′ x 1000′ long. Thats 40,000 square feet of veggies, herbs, and fruits. And that doesn’t include the orchards and vineyards that continue even further down below. ALTHOUGH. they did tell us that because water is scarce at Monticello, there is no evidence that they had irrigiation back in the day, so it likely didn’t look as green and lush as it does today.

Part of 1,000 foot long vegetable garden plot

 Around the main lawn there were all sorts of fun and funky plants that TJ planted as experiments. Many of these seeds were obtained in seed swaps with other political leaders This one was like a painted poinsettia. According to the guide, if yu didn’t have this one in your Victorian garden, you might as well have not had a garden at all!

Pretty plant discovery

 After the garden tour, we took some time to walk around and see all the service portions of the house which are rich with texture and history.

Rich textures in cellar hallway


Wood and steel floor structure (nerd alert!)

Single wine bottle dumbwaiter - great idea!


Beautiful autumn foliage


Relaxing on the lawn

 After our day at Monticello, it was time to head back to our little home away from home to cook dinner. I did some searching for cute places to stay around Charlottesville, but since there was a UVA game in town that weekend, a lot of things were booked. I stumbled upon these converted Caboose cabins at Heavenly Acres Campground, so we stayed here. They were cute, although we were kind of far away from most everything, so it wasn’t quite as convenient as I’d hoped.

Our Caboose

 Sunday afternoon was back to Norfolk. We tried to go to a waterfront wine festival, but showed up too late to get tickets, so we just wandered along the water instead.



Battleship at twilight

It was a great early fall weekend. Beautiful weather and scenery, fall apples, good company. Anyone have any Virginia recommendations for my next trip?


yellowstone September 9, 2010

Filed under: adventures,travel — ravennagirls @ 12:19 pm
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….here we are at the hot springs…


b and i took a little roadtrip recently.  We drove from Seattle to West Yellowstone, Montana (with stops in Ennis on the way there and Bozeman on the way back).


It felt like summer.  

Also, did you know that Yellowstone is like crazy huge?  I had no idea.  

so we drove and drove and drove.

Montana had a big sky.



me, driving …

over river and through the woods and through mountains and farms….

Once at yellowstone we hiked and hiked and hiked until my feet hurt.  Seriously do you know how big that place is?  We stopped at a visitor’s center (the new one at old faithful), and they had a video playing that said you needed 1 and a half days to do the whole loop.  Are they crazy???  Do those people ever get out of the car????

Anyway, we saw lots. 

out to clear lake…

and up to a ridge near the yellowstone river.    see all the calcium carbonate deposits along the raging river?

One day we hiked down into a canyon at another point of the Yellowstone river.  Going down was easy peasy…but climbing back up was a different story!  We saw some amazing and massive waterfalls along this hike too. 


What I loved best of all… was that the park was so huge… you didn’t always have crowds everywhere.  Sure, the major sights to see had people, but there were plenty of hikes on paths less travelled… including this trail, which popped us out of the forest and onto the shores of Lake Yellowstone.  I am a lakes-and-mountains type of girl…

mmm mountains…..  beauty that no picture will ever describe, no matter what lens I use.


Another vacation-love was was the deliciousness of pb&js and huckleberry ice cream.  It’s like summer in food form.

oh, and we saw old faithful erupt. It was amazing! {also amazing was how accurate those scientists are at predicting those eruptions!}


Probably though the craziest and most unique places in the whole park were all the areas where water, minerals, and heat all came together — the geothermal features.  Places like Dragon’s caldron where smoke poured out and mud bubbled… and the Paint Pots which looked like hot piles of paint running together and through little pools… and Mammoth Hot springs which was, well, mammoth.


I had no idea that Yellowstone is the middle of a volcano..

It was also designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1978…making it the second World heritage Site we have visited this year.

Now, I am not going to lie to you.  The smell at all these geothermal features was kind of like leaving hundreds of deviled eggs outdoors in 95 degree heat for weeks.  But, I’m blogging so you can’t smell that.  Lucky.

Totally worth it though.  This was at Mammoth, which was amazing. 

And this is from the top lookout at Mammoth Hot Springs.  I loved how the rusty orange seemed to run right into the crystal blue pool before it trickled down the terraces the calcite had formed over time.  Evidently, during seasons where there is a lot of water at the springs… several inches of rock can be added  to terraces each day.  Crazy!



And, just in case you wanted to touch the pretty colors…. or were wondering if there are railings around there….


Oh!  and i forgot to tell you about the wildlife that came with us!!  Luckily we didn’t see any bears.  Getting my lunch stolen was not on my vacation to do list.  Although, B let me talk like Yogi Bear quite a bit.  : ) We did see TONS of Bison.  Often one or two at very close range even.  But one day we saw (and heard) a herd very close to us.



We also watched this little big bison family one afternoon. That baby bison was SO cute.  I mean not as cute as the twins, but pretty cute for a bison!


And then one day a huge bison decided to escort us down the road and over a bridge.  Luckily we did not look appealing to him.  And we stoped moving whenever he turned around and glared at us with his horns.


Mr. Bison, remember – please stay to the right if you are a slower vehicle… the signs say so!

Mr. Bison replied, hey I have a sign with my picture on it that blinks and another sign that says ‘slow down for wildlife’… so I win!


Hehe.  Bison humor for you.

Anyway, we had an AMAZING time.  By the end… we looked like this expression found here, in this mud pool.

Can you see it?


And on our way home, we drove through some pure beauty.  Big sky, bigger clouds, rain and sun-rays pouring through the distance.  Magnificent.


I am not ready for the end of summer.



Roadtrip on the 28th August 28, 2010

Filed under: adventures,travel — ravennagirls @ 3:27 pm
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So, today we will be taking an 8+ hour roadtrip back to Washington from the beautiful state of Montana.

Its August 28th.

This is not the first time D and I have headed off into wild blue yonder for a long road trip on August 28th. 5 years ago today we woke up early, turned on the local news, and decided it was probably about time to get our butts out of dodge. And by dodge, I mean the Crescent City.

5 years ago today, we evacuated from Hurricane Katrina. Most of you know the story already, but for those of you who don’t, just picture this:

3 people (Bri, D, and our great friend Kevin)

1 styrofoam cooler (squeak, squeak)

1 bassoon in its case (being rescued for another friend)

all snugly fit into a blue volkswagon bug.

It was quite a day. It took us 10+ hours to drive 300 miles from New Orleans to Tuscaloosa, Alabama (by the way – our initial destination was Tampa, FL and we made it nowhere NEAR the beach). We passed many gas stations out of fuel, many towns too small to have a name or population, and ran for our lives (literally). Needless to say, there was a bit of stress involved.

So, here’s to roadtrips on the 28th. Replicating today was unintentional, but it does seem awfully fitting as a reminder of how far we and New Orleans have come in the last five years. This trip will no doubt be less soggy, and we are blessed enough to have a home to return to when the day is over, which is more than we can say for last time.

These pictures below are from D’s graduation weekend, almost two years after the storm, taken at several of our favorite places in NOLA, Le Crepe Nanou and St. Joe’s (oh, and thats Kevin!). The city was on its way back then, and its come even further now.

Take a minute out of your day to think about the people of New Orleans, their strength and courage, and how terrific the city has become in the wake of this. One great example can be found over at Le Bateau. People wondered at the time of Katrina what would, and maybe what should become of the Big Easy. I think 5 years later its pretty safe to say that New Orleans is one of the most wondrous places anywhere and that perserverence is the name of the game down that-a-way.


Mount Angel Library August 7, 2010

Filed under: adventures — ravennagirls @ 11:42 am
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Alternately titled: A bunch of Tulane Architecture Alums being nerdy!

in St. Benedict, Oregon

designed by Alvar Aalto