Family KY camping

One of the main reasons we went home was to do a mini family vacation at the land my grandparents had in Kentucky along the river. I remember going there so many times as a kid. I wouldn't want to go at first, thinking it would be boring. Then we'd get there and people would be everywhere, games of volleyball, floating on the river riding the barges huge waves, unlimited access to candy so you could try all the combinations of starbursts mixed with each other, playing capture the flag late into the night and having my uncles always win, setting off huge displays of fireworks, begging my uncle to take us tubing or on the jet skis. They are good memories, memories of hanging out together.

I was really looking forward to sharing this place with Joshua and hanging out with my family. We floated in the water, sat on the dock, shot bb guns at cans, made pizzas in the fire, played soccer, starred at lighting bugs, and just enjoyed each other's company. Rarely are we all together and it was such blessing to get to be with them at a time other than Christmas.

Josh loved the river part, even it was a brown river.

The lightning bugs were amazing while we were there. The trees on either side of the property are about 75 feet high. The lightning bugs slowly worked their way to the topmost branches. Yellow flickers emanated all the way up the sky where they turned into stars instead. I miss lightning bugs, glad I got to come home while they were around.


Red river gorge climbing

For our 6 year anniversary!!! we took a day and a half away from family to go to the Red River Gorge. I had never been, which surprised me because my family camped and hiked a lot when we were growing up. I was really excited to go and although it started off rocky - pouring down rain right before we went climbing - we found a wall that stays dry.

Unlike in Seattle, we had the whole Blues Brother's wall to ourselves. It was so nice to be able to hear each other and be as goofy as we wanted because no one was around. The Gorge has little labels stuck into the rock for all their routes so it was easy to navigate and pick routes. We climbed about 3 routes that evening and then headed back to Miguel's (the place you can only camp if you're climbers) and got the traditional pizza/Miguel's experience. We camped out back and then woke up to go climb a few more routes the next day.

We also took a mini hike to Creation Falls and just wandered around in between the big broad leaf trees. Seattle is mostly coniferous so it was really beautiful to climb up the rock between big green leaves playing shadows on one another.

So glad that we took a little time to ourselves while home to celebrate our anniversary. Also great to get onto some rock close to where we grew up.


Cincy hang : FC game

I was so excited we got to go to an FC soccer game while we were home. My whole family talks about this team and these games, I've been dying to take part. Even better the game was against Columbus Crew. We were outfitted liberally in FC gear, I got to wear the Fiona hippo shirt :)

We even got to take part in the march to the field. Being a part of the energy and the pride marching its way to the field was a real treat. Everyone was chanting together, high fiving, and smiling.

Our brother-in-law got us great seats and then the game was off. Overall not the best soccer ever played but a fun game. In the end we won and I yelled/cheered A LOT.


Foraging for the sake of ice cream

In spring the pines get bright green spruce tips that grow out of their ends. You can see them in the first few photos. Turns out they are edible! I wouldn't recommend just popping them in your mouth, they taste bright and bitter with pine notes. But if you use them in something they are subtle and fun. I really enjoy foraging and so I grabbed up a bunch of the little guys to try to make something out of. I made a simple syrup with some and then recently made some into an ice cream.
I started with meringues and some roasted rhubarb and then I topped it all off with some spruce tip ice cream. The colors together are fabulous!!

3/4 cup spruce tips
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
6 egg yolks (use the whites for meringues!)
1/2 cup cane sugar
pinch of salt

1   in a small saucepan heat, on low, cream, milk, sugar, salt, egg yolks. Stir constantly so you don't cook the eggs. When the mixture is hot and the sugar is melted (but not simmering or boiling) remove from heat and let cool to room temperature
2   toss the spruce tips into a food processor and chop well.
3   when mixture is cool add into blender along with spruce tips, blend well.
4   pour mixture into ice cream maker and process for as long as your ice cream maker says
5   transfer to a container and freeze

Cincy hang : the zoo

While we were home in Cincy we took a trip to the zoo with Joshua's mom. It threatened to rain all day and we had a minor downpour for a few minutes but it cooled it down and was lovely. I had us all moving fast at the start to catch the 3 Malayan tiger cubs out on display. One of them was attacking a plant and bothering her sisters, super cute. Then I rushed them to the hippo exhibit because I was dying to see baby hippo Fiona, sadly she was not out that day. But the new hippo exhibit was still really fun to see. I love hippos, I still have a stuffed animal hippo from when I was born.

We got to see Bibi and Henry yawn, swim into the water, bobble around, I love it so much I made them go back a second time later. Next up the third priority of the zoo- Dippin dots ice cream, a zoo staple.

Since it was cloudy that day and not too hot all the animals were out wandering around. The baby giraffes were adorable. The monkeys were swinging around. The flamingos were goofy. The bears were swimming. It was a pretty darn good zoo trip.


Kayaks in the wild

Two weekends ago we took our kayaks to Cooper Lake. It was so much smoother than paddling around with big boats constantly passing you. Nice to just coast, stop and lay in the sun when it peaked out, expend less energy to stay straight. There were even the 4 Brother's mountains standing at the end of the lake for us to check out.

We paddled around for about 2 hours, drove a bit then stopped by some more water to read, stopped again in Roselyn to grab some bbq for dinner, then Joshua re-taught me to drive Richard! I drove for about 45 minutes. I think I may finally have it figured out!


All the yellow flowers

Over Memorial Day weekend we snuck off to the mountains. We headed east toward Wenatchee and backpacked near the Dead Horse lake. Joshua found this hike and it didn't seem many people backpacked it, he was right! We had the whole ridge to ourselves that night.

He found the hike because he was searching for the ever elusive yellow flowers we love. They are in dryer areas, only around for about 3 weeks, and it's never the same 3 weeks. I'm so so glad he found this hike. It was absolutely bursting with flowers. There were yellow, purple, white, other yellow, red. The hike was very mild and only steep toward the very end so we took a long time winding up and ogling the landscape. Joshua kept taking photos of the flowers and James and I were teasing him : portrait of flowers #53, and I'll call this one portrait of flowers #54. But I couldn't blame him they were so magnificent.

We got up to the ridge pretty early in the day so we laid around in the sun, took more flower photos, snacked, waited until magic hour and took more flower photos. Finally at sunset we watched the colors fly over the sky and fade behind the mountains. We made a nice fire and had dinner. That night it was also very warm out so we could sleep in our tent without the rainfly. This meant that we could stare up from our sleeping mats at the stars all night.

The next day we slowly meandered down from the ridge and I had them helping me pick spruce tips. I later turned them into spruce tip ice cream :) Love foraging and free stuff!

Then we headed back to Ballard, had pizza on the dock with friends, headed up to another friends to drink wine and sit in the hot tub. Woohoo 3 day weekends that are hot and full of sunshine!