Monday, October 31, 2016

October Memories

 It's been pouring down rain all morning on this last day of a very wet and soggy month.  With almost 10 inches of rain, October 2016 is now officially the wettest October on record for the Northwest.  It's a perfect day for curling up with a cozy blanket and a warm cup of tea.  

This is my favorite blanket.  My mom made if for me.  She isn't really all that crafty, but a few years ago when it was all the rage to tie fleece material together to make blankets and pillows she made several for the grand kids and one for me.  It's my first choice when I want to be cozy and warm.  The teapot was a gift from my daughter, the book of blessings from the church library.  I want to prepare my heart for the month of November which starts tomorrow with All Saints Day.  I can start by remembering some the blessings of the past month.

1.  The Last Summer flowers clinging tenaciously to the vine in the fall storms.

 2.  Decorating for the autumn season.


And as October comes to a close, doing a little "tweeking" in anticipation of Thanksgiving.

 3.  Freshly baked muffins and women's retreats

 I needed to bring four dozen muffins for the women's fall retreat so I tried a couple of new recipes, one was pumpkin nut and the other Cinnamon Crumb.  They both turned out delicious and I added two new recipes to my cookbook.

At the lodge with some of the lovely ladies from our church.

4.   A Basket of fresh baked bread.

My sister-in-law passed through for one evening with two of my nieces.  They were on their way to Hawaii and had stopped to meet up with my mother who was going with them.  I cooked spaghetti for the whole family.  This was just the perfect month for baking and my daughter-in-law baked these wonderful bread twists to share.  Can't you just smell the heavenly aroma?  They tasted as good as they looked.

5.  Time with extended family.

Seeing my children with their cousins for even such a short visit was the best blessing of all.

 I will be glad and rejoice in thee;  I will 
sing praise to they name, Oh thou most high.
Psalm 9:2


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Leavenworth, WA

We had so much fun at Mount Rainier we decided to make another trek into the mountains to the little town of Leavenworth, WA.  Nestled into the south side of the Cascade mountains, Leavenworth is a success story of a small town fighting for survival in a major economic downturn who turned themselves into a thriving Bavarian style tourist destination.  You can read a short history here.


It was raining off and on as we made our way up through the pass.  Even so, driving up the mountain roads we found ourselves surrounded with glorious autumn color.  

This fellow was guarding the the grounds of our hotel when we arrived.  He adds a bit of cachet, don't you think?

Looking like a little Bavarian gem in the middle of the mountains, the whole town was decorated for Octoberfest. Gorgeous baskets of late season summer flowers hanging above autumn arrangements of golden leaves, stalks of corn and pumpkins created  vivid visual displays as we walk through the town.

We spent two days wandering through the shops both during the days and into the evenings.  This metal sculpture shop is always a favorite place to stop in.  I was very tempted to bring home a copper leaf wreath or a pumpkin.

The evening window displays were lovely too.

Of course one of the fun things about traveling is sampling tasty local treats.  We had to check out the bakery.  I chose the raspberry and cream cheese strudel.  It was delicious.

This corner shop was filled with all kinds of mustards, relishes and jams we could sample.  


All these pepper jellies tasted so good.  Can you guess which jelly I took home with me?

If you chose this one, you would be correct.  I will just pour it over a brick of cream cheese and it will be the perfect spread to put on crackers during a holiday party. It will also be a wonderful reminder of our stay in lovely Bavarian inspired Leavenworth.


Sunday, October 9, 2016

A Trip to Mount Rainier, Part 2

 It took me forever to decide which photos I wanted to share today.  I really need to learn how to make photo collages.  After we left the Sunrise Lodge area behind we continued our drive around the park until we arrived at our next stop, The Grove of the Patriarchs. This magical spot was an easy 1.5 mile trail that looped through the forest. 

It looks like my hubby is getting his strength back!

 Eventually we had to cross the river on this suspension bridge.

 Once we were on the other side of the river we found ourselves on an island filled with magnificent old growth Douglas Firs, Hemlocks and Cedars, some over 300 feet tall and 40 inches in diameter.  Because so many people come through the park each year to see the trees, a boardwalk has been built to protect the roots.

This Red Cedar is estimated to be 1000 years old. Look at this knobby bark.  Even though it looked rough, it felt smooth under my fingers.


Looking inside a fallen tree. 

As we made our way back to the car we could see the signs of fall just beginning along the trail.

 On our way to Paradise we passed  Reflection Lakes.  On a clear day you can see Mount Rainier reflected in the water.  Unfortunately, today was not that day.  However, the spot is  beautiful and you could still see the reflections of trees and clouds.


 We finally made it around the park to the Inn at Paradise only to find the roads and parking areas were being repaved that day.  So we had to park our car a ways away and walk up the hill to take a look.  Although it was only mid-afternoon it seemed much later as the clouds had darkened and were beginning to threaten rain.  

The Inn itself was built in 1914.  Nestled 5,400 feet up the south slope of the mountain and with 121 guest rooms, it is considered one of  "the great lodges of the West". 

 I loved this rustic interior with the huge beams and massive stone fireplaces on each end. 


Once again because of the clouds we couldn't see the mountain but the views were still stunning.

 There were many wonderful trails that would have taken us through the alpine meadows filled with fall color.  You can see the trail beckoning off in the distance. 

Just at this point it started to rain and we began to make our way back down the hill.  By the time we got to our car we were soaked and ready to call it a day. 

 But we discovered one more lodge on our way out of the park and decided to make one last stop to see if we could dry ourselves out before hitting the road for a 2 1/2 hour drive home.

We were delighted to discover here at The National Park Inn this cozy little room with a fire crackling in the fireplace ready to greet visitors who needed a place to rest after the days activities.  It was the perfect place to get ourselves warmed up and dried out.

Once we were warmed up and ready to explore the lodge a bit more we discovered this log cabin style general store on the grounds.  I didn't buy anything but it's always fun to poke around.

I thought this jewelry was interesting.  Each piece is made from a real leaf that has been perfectly preserved and then dipped in copper. 

I really liked the pottery made by local artists too.  It was tempting to bring home one of those blue pieces but I am a retiree now and I have to watch the budget.  Besides, I am supposed to be getting over my pack rat tendencies.

And so our little journey around Mount Rainier has come to a close.  Even though we were a little disappointed that we couldn't see the mountain as well as we had hoped, we still had a wonderful day. I hope you did too.