Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pacific Northwest, Part 2

Continuing on with our Top Ten:

7. The Pike Place Market.

This place is the major tourist hub of the city, but still worth checking out. Hey, we like markets. And this one just feels like a farmer's market on steroids. We walked by countless stalls of beautiful flowers, colorful fruit, honey, jams, breads, and peppers. That is also where you'll find the first Starbucks.

Pike Place Market

We enjoyed perusing the market for picnic fixins, and found all kinds of yummy (albeit a bit overpriced) food for our...

6. Trip to Bainbridge Island.

The dock to the ferry boats is a short walk from the Pike Place Market, so we headed right there after buying our lunch stuff. In Seattle, ferries cross the Puget Sound regularly, headed for all kinds of different islands and things on the other side. We so enjoyed getting out on the water and appreciating the beautiful scenery from that angle.

Once we got to the Island, we enjoyed our lunch in a nearby park, and then I took a nap in the grass. Heavenly!

And on our return boat trip, the sun started to set. Beautiful.

Seattle Boat Trip

5. The Columbia River Gorge.

Josh did his research on this one, too! If you ever go to Portland, MAKE SURE you visit this area. It is only a few miles down the road from the city and it completely breathtaking. Just off the highway is a big, lush canyon with a wide, blue river running down it. It seems to stretch for forever in both directions.

And for you history buffs, this is the river that Lewis and Clark paddled down to reach the Pacific Ocean.

We explored this area first thing in the morning. Living on Eastern Time in Oregon will do that to you every time! But we were SO thankful we did! Despite the FREEZING CRAZY COLD, we totally loved watching the sunrise over the gorge.

Columbia River Gorge

And spaced in between look-outs over the gorge were other delightful natural wonders -

4. Waterfalls.

In the span of about twenty miles along the gorge, you can find a number of really impressive waterfalls. I think we visited four. Some required a bit of hiking, but most were the pull over and marvel type. Of them, Multnomah Falls is the most well known. But we enjoyed them all - and it was nice to see a variety, too.

But as it was still SUPER early, it was also SUPER cold. And we'd failed to pack appropriately. Check out my four shirts - it was stylin'.


Something else that struck me about this area? BIG trees. Look for Josh in the bottom right picture.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Pacific Northwest, Part 1

Without further ado, here are the first three of our Top Ten:

10. Portland.

I'd been to Portland once before, but this trip was a first for Josh. I must say I'm thankful for an excuse (a meeting for work) to go there regularly. It is a pretty city, with a big river running through it and bridges all around town. Plus, it has a certain charming grittiness to it which I enjoy. Oh, and the city is known for GREAT food.


9. Portland's Washington Park - The Rose Garden.

Josh reads up on the places we're going ahead of time and plans out what he'd like to see, while I just roll with the flow. He'd found out about this place and suggested we go and see it. I, of course, had no idea of it's existence. But perched up on a hill overlooking the city is a big old park, and a part of the park is dedicated to an enormous rose garden.

I'm thankful Josh takes care of the trip research.

8. Seattle.

When it comes to vacations, give us big cities over beaches any day of the week. I'd say we're "city people" except we don't actually live in a big city or anything. But we enjoy them. This was my first trip to Seattle and I was TOTALLY impressed. I don't know what I was expecting but let me tell you a little something I didn't know going in:

In Seattle, there is water EVERYWHERE.

And lots of boats. And hills.

From Puget Sound to Lake Washington to Lake Union, and all kinds of canals in between, we pretty much saw water wherever we went. And remember those house boats from Sleepless in Seattle? They're totally sweet.

Seattle Main

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Travel, Pictures, and Needed Advice

I love this man.


And, I love traveling with him.

It is one of our favorite shared hobbies, and we're really thankful for all the opportunities we've had to explore new places thus far in our relationship.

I remember our first trip - fondly. We had been dating about two months when he invited me to go to New York City with him and a few classmates for an architecture project. The school work side of things took about 45 minutes, so we got to spend the rest of the time exploring the city. We loved every minute - the two 12 hour car trips, the food, the walking around town, everything.

And that was where Josh told me he loved me for the very first time. And where I cut him off mid-love-profession because he took so long to say it. Thankfully he found the courage to try again, and he succeeded. And heard it back from me.

We recently took another weekend trip. Traveling together is a bit different these days (we get to stay in a hotel room of our own!) but we enjoy it all the same. More, actually.

This time we took 4-ish days and took in as much of the Pacific Northwest as we could possibly cram in. We saw mountains, beaches, cities, waterfalls, rivers, boats, Michigan football fans, and the inside of a couple of Starbucks. (I told Josh that it would be disrespectful to Seattle if I didn't sneak in at least one cup.) Josh had been there as a kid and liked it, but I'd only ever been to Portland, and that was just for one day. And let me just say we can't wait to go back.

We're working on a top ten list to share with y'all. But a top ten list of that side of the country NEEDS to be accompanied by pictures to get the full effect. Things are just so beautiful over there that we can't NOT share. And HOLY COW did we take pictures. No surprises there!

But here's the problem:

We took somewhere around 1500 of them.

Why not, right? They're free (since we'd already purchased a digital camera, that is) and we wanted to get the best shots we could. We're newbies to this SLR thing, so we experimented heavily, and thoroughly enjoyed doing it. And we kept snapping. And trying a different angle. And snapping again. I spent a lot of time on the plane yesterday deleting duplicates, fuzzies, and other bad shots. But that left me with around 900. I deleted a bunch more last night, but still I have SO MANY PICTURES. And I like a lot of them. But the sheer reality of filing, organizing, editing, choosing the right ones to share, etc. makes me want to crawl into a ball and hide.

And the last thing I want is to go on vacation, take a bunch of pictures, and then never look at them again because I'm overwhelmed by the process of organizing them.

So I'm asking you, dear Internet, how do you keep tabs on your digital pictures? I use a program called Adobe Bridge, and I like it, but I'm probably only scratching the surface of what it has to offer me. How do you sort? How many do you delete? How many folders and subfolders do you utilize? And finally - what in the WORLD do you do with all of your pictures?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Detroit Tigers

I grew up in a family that enjoyed sports.

I played some softball and basketball growing up. My dad watched football on T.V. And about once each summer we'd head to Detroit for a Tigers game.

Josh grew up in a family that LOVED sports.

He played soccer, hockey, basketball, golf, baseball, and tennis. A lot. He started going to Michigan football games at age three. His dad has had season tickets since '75 and even when they moved away from Michigan they would drive in for most games from Iowa and Wisconsin. And they went to all kinds of other major sporting events, too. Golf tournaments. Pistons games. Tigers games. Red Wings games.

So it was only fitting that, during the past two weeks when Josh's parents came to visit, he and his dad made it to three separate sporting events. And that doesn't count sports watched on TV.

All in Michigan (where most of their sports loyalties are found).
All in 8 days.

The Michigan - Western Michigan football game.

The Michigan - Notre Dame football game (and HOLY COW what a game that was. I'm still a little jumpy just thinking about it.)

And the Tigers - Blue Jays game.

Comerica Park, where the Tigers play, is an interesting place. Any place that is A) set in downtown Detroit and B) is actually nice is an interesting place in my book.


You see, Detroit is a hole. A mess. A really sad place. The median home price in the city is $7500. For six years the city was governed by an extremely corrupt mayor. This only ended last September. And when go to a Tigers game, you park in a shady-looking lot, then walk past a number of abandoned buildings, and then TA DA find yourself in the in front of the very beautiful Comerica Park. It is clean, new, and nice. Only two blocks away from your will I ever see my car again parking spot, and yet in a completely different world. It sits next to the very new and nice Ford Field. Such a weird dichotomy.

I've never been anywhere remotely like it.


Detroit, and the state it is in, is sad to me. But aside from that I do like a good old fashioned baseball game. At home, I don't really care to watch baseball on TV. I don't follow it online. But when I'm there? It's fun. Buy me some peanuts (but keep the cracker jacks!) and give me a score card.



See this face? It says I know you're taking a picture of me. And since it is your 200th picture in the last 10 minutes, I'm a little annoyed.

Get used to it, love.

That's better.

I don't know what it is, but there is just something about it.

For both the big sports fans (my husband and father-in-law) and me.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

As fall approaches...

... I know a certain someone that will soon miss his sunbathing time.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009


I still don't have things figured out.

This side of heaven, I don't think I will.

But God has been so sweet to me lately.

It started with the outpouring of support, love, and encouragement when I shared how I was really feeling with you all. Thank you, bloggy world, for folding me up into your embrace. And walking with me in some way. I know you're being used by God in my life, and I'm so thankful for the little community I have through this here blog.

More than that, I've just felt the tug to draw near to God again. Just a little bit. I almost don't want to talk about it so I don't scare it away. Honestly, I know my own tendencies to make progress, and then get lax and fall back into the same old habits. But the God-given desire to spend a little time with my Creator has returned in some small way, and I'm thankful for that.

Back in college we used to sing a song in Campus Crusade meetings, and the lyrics come to my mind often these days.

Still, small, quietly spoken voice
that consistently calls my name
and quickens my heart to come

For me, it feels like God is using this time to remind.

Remind me of who He is.
Remind me of His power.
Remind me of his protection.
Remind me of his deep, sacrificing love for me.

I dug out an old devotional I'd once loved.
I shelved my new, shiny Bible and took out my old, underlined, pages-falling-out copy.

And the truths I've known for a long time are becoming dear to me again.

I've still got issues. Lots of them.

But God has been so tender toward me. So patient and faithful. And in my awkward, unsteady way, I know I'm taking baby steps again, by his grace.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust"

He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge.

Psalm 91:1-2, 4a

Monday, September 7, 2009

Shutterbug: Go Blue Style


As some of you may know, I've been drooling over a digital SLR camera for awhile now.

I love pictures.

I love color.

I love composition.

I love art. And creating it, in some form.

And I read a lot of blogs where fantastic photography is part of the mix.

So I read reviews. Polled friends. Asked a lot of questions. Talked to Josh about it. And then, Saturday morning, bit the bullet and picked one up.

I got this one:

I'm thinking of naming her Amy.

And let me just tell you -


I only have one lens - the one that came with my camera body. And yet I think this thing is completely fantastic. And I know neeeeext to nothing about how to use it - only what I've picked up from some photography blogs. I plan to read up in the coming months. But armed with only the most basic of ideas about shutter speed and aperture, I brought my new toy with me to the Michigan game on opening day.

I took so many shots that the lady sitting behind me asked me if I worked for a newspaper.  But practice makes perfect, right?

This camera really captured the vivid colors of the Big House.

The green grass. The blue flags. The maize student section. And all as sharp as a tack.

None of these pictures have been at all touched by Photoshop. No boosting the colors. No sharpening the edges. Not to say I won't go back to Photoshop sometime soon to tweak my SLR pics. But for now I'm just enjoying the SLR in its true, raw form.

And then I started playing with aperture. A dangerous addiction, to be sure.

You mean I can get that delicious blurry background without Photoshop? Amazing!

No, I don't have any idea who these people are. I sat alone for the first half since we couldn't get three tickets together, and enjoyed snapping pictures of strangers. They're sometimes more cooperative than people who know they're getting their picture taken. At least, they tend to look more natural.


And the icing on the cake? We won! Big.

M Go Blue indeed.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Group Cooking

I've heard that, in many cultures, the process of making food is just as important as eating it, when it comes to building community and spending time with friends.

I usually don't think much of the food preparation side of a meal. I like to cook and all, but it just doesn't seem like that big of a deal. In short, I prefer the eating part. And honestly, when we get together with friends it is often out a restaurant, and we're not even thinking about the cooking. And we really enjoy it.

But a couple of weeks ago we had some friends in town (some from Michigan, some from Kentucky) and the six of us adults actually made a meal together. And you know, I think there is something to this cooking-as-a-group thing.


We hadn't really planned on it working out that way. We had all met earlier in the day at a market in downtown Columbus where we had lunch, Beligian waffles, and smoothies. The food was great, and North Market is a fun place to walk around, but in light of the fact that there were three little ones to consider, we thought it might be easier to eat at our place for dinner. And, having made that plan, we picked up fancy ravioli, the ingredients for pasta sauce, and some vegetables before we left.

Chris and DeeDee made a pie.

Paulina made a salad.

Bill, the only true Italian of the group, made pasta sauce.

I was of no help but just concentrated on holding the babies as much as possible.

(Side note: I do not like my current haircut. It never behaves.)

And we had a really nice time together. There was something laid back and enjoyable about simply preparing a meal together.

The kids got fed, took naps, and generally made themselves at home.

Aren't they adorable?


The adults chatted while we cut up vegetables, washed dishes, and set the table.

And you know, we probably wouldn't have gotten in as much solid time together had we tried to "go out and do something" or just headed to a restaurant to eat.  This way, too, the kids could crawl around, watch a movie, and or nap in a different room.  And we adults not only enjoyed the simple task of making food, but also got to spend quality catching up while we were doing it.  

And when  you just have one day to spend with your buddies from college, a few hours of solid fellowship is all you want.


And we got to actually use our dining room.