Saturday, December 27, 2008

Festive Shopping

The downtown Bellevue shopping district is so pretty and festive right now with all the Christmas lighting. It's a shame they don't leave it like this year round.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

And s-now for something completely different...

In my experience, Seattle usually gets a dusting of snow once a year. That dusting often melts as soon as it touches down. So the fact that we've had about 8 inches of snow on the ground for the past week or so is quite something! It has taken a toll on my running, but we are still getting out for dog walks and shopping (the essentials). I'm hoping it sticks around another couple of days to create my first White Christmas!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Happy Paws

The snow might have been one day late in our neck of the woods, but now that it's here, there's a ton of it! Most Seattle school districts were closed yesterday, and many people on my team, including me, chose to "WFH" (work from home). The weatherman made suckers of all of us because the snow never came. But today it is beautiful. Here's Cosmo enjoying the fluffy stuff in our backyard.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

You Light Up My Life

I've been meaning to take this picture of our house in its Christmas outfit just after sunset, but alas it gets dark so early these days that I'm never home in time. A layer of fresh-ish snow ought to brighten the picture up a bit though? Notice the icy road too. I became quite intimate with it just prior to snapping this picture. My camera took a bit of a jolt too, but after a bit of TLC seems to be functioning okay again. Presently my elbow is being iced - and not by the road :)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

December Sunset

A beautifully sunny day that ended in a beautiful winter sunset - as seen from our upstairs bedroom. (Note that a plethora of power lines have been "erased" from this image.)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Right Path

This week saw our beautiful, and more importantly mud-free, flagstone path get installed, connecting our driveway with our side gate. No more muddy shoes, yay!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Dog Park!

We took Coz-Woz to the off-leash dog park at Magnuson Park yesterday. It was our first time at an OL park, and we were a bit hesitant about taking him, but the enticement of a fully-fenced area for him to run free in proved too much for us. We didn't actually see Cosmo most of the time we were there, but there was one shining moment where we called his name from across the field and he distinctly ran straight towards us, even if he wasn't looking at us.

But the real adventure came when we got to Retriever's Beach (my name for it). Out Cosmo swam into Lake Washington! (We didn't think he liked water.) He didn't stay in very long, but soon was in again, this time to circumnavigate the fence that jutted out into the lake, which positioned him nicely in the out-of-bounds, video-taped for security, federal property that borders the park. Don't worry, I said to Dan, he'll come back. But after 15 minutes he hadn't come back. So I, the intrepid adventurer, rolled up my jeans, waded out into the lake, rounded the fence onto the rocky beach on the other side, and proceeded to walk a (quite lovely) path in the restricted area, passing all sorts of NO TRESPASSING signs. After a lovely 15 minute walk, Cosmo having already run right past me on one occasion, ostensibly oblivious to my calling, I managed to snag our bird hunter and put him squarely back on his leash.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Leaves Haven't Left

They just won't leave! Actually this pic is from last weekend, but the leaves are still around this weekend too.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Twins

We splurged on these two Japanese Maple beauties that will be delivered to our house on Wednesday. We'll install them one on either side of the walkway leading to our front door, where our Katsura trees used to stand. Their scarlet autumn colouring is quite spectacular.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Autumn on Our Street

I was out sweeping the lawn fertilizer off the pavement this morning when I looked up and the sun was sort-of-out! So I ran to grab my camera to capture this fleeting moment, looking down our street.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Fence Finito

This is the week of progress on our house projects! (Not that we're having to lift any fingers ourselves, other than to write cheques for large sums of money.) Earthscapes finished our fencing today (although they will return to stain it) - which means we can bring doggy home tomorrow! I think they did a great job. There are several customizations to this fence: 6x6 posts instead of 4x4, custom gate design, extra wide gates (> 4 feet), custom extra long trellis, and posts dug next to house instead of attaching fence to house (bad for siding). What do you think?

North side of house:

South side of house, with trellis and extra wide custom gate:

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Landscaping Complete!

Laurie and her crew from Cedarmist Gardens have completed phase one of our backyard landscaping project. She was an absolute pleasure to work with and we can't believe how quickly she got the job done, with no hassle whatsoever. But above all, she has great taste and did a fantastic job, really taking matters into her own hands and planning the garden (including not so green things like shed and garbage can placement) as if it were her own.

Here's the before and after of the back fence (notice our new Thuja hedge, and if you look closely, Kaffir Lilies):

Before and after of the utility side of the house:

Before and after of the tranquil spot behind the living room (eventually we'll pave this meandering path with flagstone, and fill in the beds with more plants like Kalmia):

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

NZ Flax

Our garden is almost ready! I will post before and after pictures when it's all finished. But for now, don't you think this is a beautiful plant? My best guess is that it's some type of New Zealand Flax, but I'm not sure.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Katsura Colour

Our back yard is getting a makeover this week! We found a wonderful woman named Laurie who's helping us design and implement our new landscaping. Part of the plan is to move two of the Katsura trees from our front yard to the back. Katsuras are especially beautiful in autumn - here's our third Katsura tree which will be staying put in the front to punctuate the edge of our property.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Road Trip!

Dan and I just got back from a 5-day road trip from Oakland, up through Napa Valley to the California coast and the Redwood forests, then up the Oregon coast and back home. It was a great break from work and the stresses of daily life. Some of our favorite places, and recommendations if you're ever in the Napa Valley area, dear reader, are: Alexis Baking Company for breakfast in Napa, the Heitz Cellars wine tasting, Woodhouse Chocolates in St. Helena, and the cottages at the Indian Springs Resort in Calistoga (it has its own natural geyser that heats a gigantic swimming pool as well as provides steam for a natural steam room). We also enjoyed taking Highway 128 from the Napa Valley to the coast - very scenic. Finally, we happened upon "One Love's Eclectic Cuisine" in Brookings, Oregon, where we had a most fantastic lunch cooked up by a hippie family. Of course if you're ever in Yachats, Oregon, you must visit the Green Salmon coffee shop, written up by the N.Y. Times as one of the best coffee shops on the west coast!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Astonishing Ash

We have admired our neighbour's beautiful and mature tree ever since we moved into our new home. It seems like the bright red berries have been around that long too, adding nice colour to our back yard view. The other day I found out what this lovely tree is - an Ash. Our garden is probably too small for one of these beauties, but at least we can admire our neighbour's.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Crikey Crocosmia

We have plants on our minds because in the next couple of weeks the landscapers are coming to decorate our back yard with something more interesting than just lawn. One plant that grows very well in the Northwest, but hails all the way from South Africa, is Crocosmia. Here's a bunch of it in full bloom at Lowe's.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Birthday Boy

It was Dan's birthday last Saturday, so I treated him to a lavish seafood dinner at the Third Floor Fish Cafe. It was fantastic! Best food I've had since Abacus in Dallas. There's also a wonderful view of Lake Washington and the Seattle high-rises. For our dessert of passionfruit cheesecake, they brought it out with a sparkler to celebrate Dan's big day.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Wedding Flowers

Dan and I got married last Sunday! The last of the family has just left for the airport and we have the house to ourselves again. We appropriated lots of flowers of various sorts after the big day. Here they are in our new kitchen: disas, irises, roses, and a lovely bouquet from the Pike Place Market.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Geek Picnic

We headed out to gorgeous Mountain Meadows Farm in North Bend for the annual Microsoft company picnic today. We had a blast; there was some new "adult" entertainment this year, the best of which was the hypnosis show. Hilarious! Also, one could sing karaoke to a real live band which was a hit. And as part of the tradition of scaling the climbing wall, we climbed it again this year. Here's Dan on the hardest route and Jill down below, on the second hardest route. I did the easy one :)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Boxes boxes

We've moved! L'il Bit has quickly situated himself as king of the castle in our brand new home. He is also having a blast exploring all the new nooks and crannies, and of course all the boxes and packing paper that comes with a move. Here he keeps watch from one of the dining room windows.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Cat Pride

Remember Screech and Pretty Girl, our neighbour kitties, from a previous post? Well this past weekend, when we had 90 degree weather, we noticed two sorry looking fluffy things coming through our garden. On closer inspection they proved to be cats, in facts, the cats we know and love so well as L'il Bits door visitors. These poor kitties have apparently had a little haircut, a rather degrading one at that. Poor things...a kitty needs his dignity!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Whale Wishes

This year for my birthday we may not have gone somewhere tropically lovely like Fiji or Hawaii. But we did take a fun day trip "in our own back yard". The weather was glorious but, as always, I dressed optimistically and ended up being cold. Remember this: it's ALWAYS cold on a boat deck! Because I certainly didn't when it came time to dress. Anyway, we had a lovely time touring the various straits and seas of the Puget Sound (who knew it was collectively known as the Salish Sea?) and for our allotted 45 minutes, we were allowed to travel alongside some beautiful killer whales from the "J-pod" near San Juan Island. (We all know that they're neither killers (at least of humans) nor whales, correct?)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Intrepid Hikers

Today we enjoyed one of the few "fine" days we've had all spring by hiking up Mt. Si with our friends Jill and Jason. It's a trek at 4-miles to the top and about 3000 feet elevation gain, but the views from there are stunning. You can see Mt. Rainier, downtown Seattle, and of course the growing town of North Bend at the base of the mountain. We shared some of our lunch at the top with Gray Jays and chipmunks. This trail seems to be the hiking freeway of Seattle, so be prepared to share it with endless people.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Three Musketeers

The regeneration of nature brought about by spring is remarkable, especially with the ever increasing burden of man. What popped out of the bushes and started tumbling across our lawn a few days ago? None other than three fuzzy little raccoon kittens. We clambered outside, cameras in hand, to witness their incessant calling as they made their way from one garden to the next. In the end we decided they were probably still blind, as they never really seemed to look at anything. We haven't seen these cute little creatures since, and we can only hope that their mom was on a short hiatus when we saw them and hurried back soon afterwards to nurse them and keep them warm.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

They're Wild Ones!

They lay dormant all winter, their existence completely unbeknownst to us. Just recently, these beautiful wildflowers sprang up to decorate the hillside next to Lakemont Boulevard, the main road leading up to our house. I've made a few attempts to get a decent picture while driving, and finally have come up with something worth posting. We will miss this beautiful drive when we move to our new digs.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Biker Chick

I'm actually not a biker chick, but now that Dan has a motorcycle, I must admit that I check them out a lot more. These are two I've seen in the area recently that I thought were really attractive. According to Dan, the first is a custom bike and the second is a V-rod "Screaming Eagle Special Edition".

Monday, May 26, 2008

Blazing Bakkie

We got to witness some excitement in our quiet neighbourhood the other day when a City of Bellevue "bakkie" (truck) went up in flames. We saw the black smoke from a couple blocks away and made our way over for a closer look. The driver was out of the vehicle and dousing the blaze with a relatively feeble looking trickle from a garden hose (you can see the trickle if you look at the picture closely).

Thursday, May 22, 2008


My cousin Garrick was in Seattle! So I picked him up from his swish IEEE conference do at the Space Needle and we headed to a bar in Belltown to catch up. G bought us each a pint of Manny's Pale Ale (made in Seattle) and then filled me in on his fortuitous position at Johns Hopkins. He's studying for his PhD in some sort of mechanical-electrical engineering field, all expenses paid. Along the way he's coaching the women's field hockey team too. The shocker of the night was the somewhat grotesque piercing he now sports in his right temple; other than that, he was the same old cuz.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Meeting My Hero

One of my all-time favourite books is Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, a memoir of Alexandra Fuller's childhood in Zimbabwe. This is the only book I can recall reading where I really didn't want it to end; each night I wanted to keep reading and reading, but at the same time I also wanted to put it away so that I wouldn't reach the end so quickly. On May 14, Alexandra Fuller was at the Seattle Public Library to give a reading from her new book (The Legend of Colton H. Bryant), and I actually found about it in time to go see her! I even got to speak to her (heart pounding) as she signed a couple of books for me. The podcast of her talk will be posted here.

Monday, May 12, 2008

China Plate

I had to fetch my camera the other night as we sat down to a dinner of microwaved leftovers. Sophisticated Dan arrived at the table with his ziploc container of chicken. Instead of getting a plate, he transferred the warm fowl from the receptacle to the lid and proceeded to carve it up with a steak knife! To top it off, he had the almost-empty ranch dressing bottle positioned upside-down in the plastic container, a rather precarious and amusing arrangement!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Behold the Dogwood

It's Dogwood blooming time in Seattle, and I'm in love. Will definitely have to put one of these in our yard when we get a house of our own.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Excuse me, can I check for my keys?

Dan snapped this shot surreptitiously as we dined on some fabulous food at the Salish Lodge on Monday night. Amazing that an otherwise ordinary looking person can shamelessly show herself in public like that!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Baie Diesel

When Dan bought his diesel Touareg last February, the price of biodiesel was a mere 3bucks a gallon. It held steady for a while as gas prices skyrocketed, and Dan was smiling. But as biofuel popularity and the price of regular diesel have increased, so has the price of biodiesel. Check out the final tally he paid at the pump yesterday!

Monday, March 24, 2008

The American Way

The photo subject of this week's blog post was spotted at an intersection in Issaquah yesterday. The first thing that caught my eye about the RV was a Bichon Frise dog up on the dashboard, king of the castle. Next to it were numerous stuffed and porcelain Bichon Frises. But the kicker was that, even in these days of $3.70/gallon petrol and a climate in crisis, the RV towed not only a full-size pickup truck, but in the bed of the truck rode a large ATV! Revolting...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Duck, Duck, Goose

Dan I and just got back from a fantastic weekend on San Juan Island. We are now officialy spoilt. We can no longer transfer to the island with the hordes (i.e. via ferry) or stay anywhere other than a 180 degree waterfront view property. Hugh very kindly flew us up on his private plane, which was a blast as I even got to fly it for a bit. He also provided us with a waterfront bedroom, our own 4x4 for exploring, fabulous wines (Ferarri-Carano Russian River 2005 Vintner Select Chardonnay) and self-caught wild salmon from Alaska. He also booked us on a 3-hour Orca spotting trip - the one downer of the weekend as we didn't see any Orcas and were freezing cold the whole time - however, we did see Steller's Sea Lions out swimming in the channel; they were pretty cool. Saw lots of waterfowl (Harlequin Ducks, 3 different kinds of Merganser, Buffleheads galore, Loons, Surf Scoters), Bald Eagles, and a Belted Kingfisher this weekend. Thanks Hugh!

Harlequin Ducks
Steller's Sea Lion
Canada Geese just after sunrise
View from Hugh's Cattle Point house at sunrise

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Scent of a Pine Tree

We just got back from a fabulous first day of nordic skiing. We started off with a lesson from a very warm guy, then hopped on the ski lift to access the upper trail system. Up there we found a whole different, stress free world of cross-country ski trails, quietude, pine trees, ravens, and some very friendly people.

We stopped for lunch in a warming hut at one of the big trail junctions; inside, a ski patrol volunteer and a trail monitor named Sherry tended a wood stove. They were very eager to share their world of nordic skiing with us and to advise us on good trails for beginners. When we left, two Gray Jays perched nearby on their skis to see if we had any parting gifts for them.
Two Gray Jays
Dan on the tracks