Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Vintage Silverware

Eighteen years ago when Bryce and I got married we got a lovely silverware set that we've used consistently for every single meal we've had at home.  Which is pretty awesome.  However, somewhere along the way we've inexplicably lost pieces here and there.  So if we had a larger group over for dinner or we just plowed through silverware in a day, we might not have enough.

I'd had my eye on these vintage silverware sets for awhile and when I found a 20% off coupon and free shipping I decided to go for it.  I got a set of 8 place settings and I love them!  I think that the mix of all different patterns is charming and yet the monogram helps to bring some unity to the whole.  I also love that they came with soup spoons!

I love silver for it's beautiful and special glow and these silver plate utensils are no exception.  Quite simply they are just plain pretty.  They make a simple salad or a bowl of oatmeal just a little bit more special (I know that sounds crazy but they do.).

A few notes:

The care instructions with the utensils recommends not using the dishwasher for them but we totally do and have had no negative consequences.  However, we do use a soap that is gentler on our dishes.

The knives aren't awesome.  They are pretty dull and we had a knife or two that rusted at the joint.  Napa Style did replace them without any problem.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Rainier Painting

As I've mentioned before we always try to get a book, an ornament and a piece of art (the art can take many forms!) when we go on a vacation.  My decorating philosophy- that sounds fancier than I mean it too- is to be surrounded by things we love and that have meaning to us.  While we were in Washington State this summer, we knew that we wanted to find a piece of art that represented Bryce's achievement of summitting Mt. Rainier.  However, there was never time to peruse any galleries or stores and so we came home knowing that we would have to look on the internet.

Originally, we thought we wanted a landscape of Rainier with the flower meadow in the foreground and we found some really lovely ones.  However, we kept coming back to the painting of Rainier with a city (village?) in the foreground.  Even though the foreground is clearly not Seattle, we loved that it represented our vacation in that we did make it to the city to explore.

The painting is not signed and we are under no delusions that it's some masterful piece of art but that doesn't matter as long as it speaks to us and we enjoy looking at it everyday!  The frame is a bit much for me, but for now it will have to do as frames are crazy expensive!


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Mt. Rainier...the Return Trip (part 3!)

Columbia Crest, 14,410 ft!

Okay, last post...I promise! 

That final push up to the rim of crater was grueling and those 20 minutes felt like an hour! Doing all my training for this adventure at sea level did not prepare me well for the thin air at 14,000+ feet and I was seriously sucking wind when we made it to the top of the rim and descended into the crater. Even gasping for air it was a wonderful feeling of success! Jack and I dropped our packs and exchanged some hearty congratulations! However, while making it into the crater is considered a successful summit, we could see across the crater to the true summit, Columbia Crest. 

It was then that Peter gave us the good news and the bad. The long traverse we took earlier in the morning to avoid that newly-opened cravasse put us way behind schedule. However, our little group was still about 30 minutes ahead of the other rope teams. So, he said that if hauled it across the crater and up the other side we would be able to make the true summit! The other guys, unfortunately, would not have that opportunity. Needless to say, we promptly started out for the other side of the crater and, upon making it up to Columbia Crest at 14,410 feet, Jack and I really could celebrate our success! Of course, we only had time for a few pictures and then we had to haul it back down and to the other side.      

Rainier crater as seen from Columbia Crest

Looking down into and around the crater from the summit was pretty interesting. As you can see, there was no snow on this side of the crater rim and, in fact, it was actually steaming! This old volcano is not exactly inactive (the USGS says it is merely at rest between eruptions). Upon making it back the the other rim of the crater, we met up with the rest of our group, roped up, and started the looooong trek down the mountain.

Looking down on Little Tahoma
All I can really say about the trip down is that it was long, really long...and tedious...and so terribly hard on my knees that I think I've selectively forgotten most of the half a day it took to get back to Paradise. I was actually a lot more concerned about falling on the trip down than I ever was on the way up! We did get a few really cool views on the way down, like this one looking at High Camp from just below the Cleaver. The size of those cravasses was absolutely stunning...and also rather shocking to see so near to camp!

High camp at Ingraham Flats...and some monster cravasses!
A great view here as well, looking across the Cowlitz glacier to Camp Muir and Mt. Adams looming in the distance, taken from just below the Cathedral Rocks.

Camp Muir from across the Cowlitz glacier
Aside: this is an image I'm pretty glad I didn't find until after I got back home (looks rather daunting to me). It shows the Disappointment Cleaver route to the summit from Camp Muir from a 2002. The routes are bit different every year but you get the general idea. Our route this year was quite a bit different than this from above the Cleaver but otherwise very similar.

We took a break for a while at Camp Muir; unroped, removed crampons, stowed ice axes and applied more sunscreen. It was very sunny and getting rather warm as we descended down Rainier. Stepping onto the Muir Snowfield in the mid-day sunshine was quite fine, but after about twenty minutes the snow had softened so much that every step became a slide, and after a while we were boot-skiing down the snow! That was a bit rough on the knees as well and we soon began taking advantage of every opportunity to glissade that we could find. Somehow, I didn't end up with a picture of even one of the many chutes that we rode, sometimes for 100+ feet. It was pretty fun, even with the slush that ended up everywhere.

After what seemed like an eternity, we finally made it to the visitor center at Paradise and our trip was complete! We drove down to IGM HQ in Ashford, returned rental gear, claimed our certificates and, most importantly, signed the Summit Board that we had only gotten to look at last year! It was an amazing trip and an incredible accomplishment (at least for me)! I wonder what mountain Jack and I will set out to climb for our 50th birthdays!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Favorite Things #45

This past summer, when we ate at the top of the Space Needle, I ordered Dry Lavender Soda since it was local to the area and I love lavender.  It was surprisingly good, and I've kept my eye open for it ever since.  Unfortunately, I hadn't been able to find it and shipping costs were too high for me to consider ordering and shipping.  However, since I've been feeding Harris differently, I've also been shopping at new to me places where I made the happy discovery that Dry Soda was recently added to their stock list (it's a health food type store).  Hurrah!  

It's not an everyday type of soda for me (or even once a week), but it is a refreshing drink and would also be fun in cocktails.  It's not very sweet, but I really like the subtle flavor.  I've tried a few of the other flavors but lavender is by far my favorite.  

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Notes from the Garden

Monday night we had our first frost.  I'd already started the garden clean-up but now everything else will start to come out.

Here are some notes and observations from our first vegetable garden...

Don't plant too many SunGold tomatoes in your tomato enthusiasm.  These little guys were delicious but they literally over ran everything else.  They were prolific to say the least.

Next year, try a trellis for the cucumbers so they don't take up as much room.

Everything needs a little more room than I gave them.  For instance, our pole beans were overtaken by the tomatoes so they didn't produce much.

Only plant what our family likes to eat.  I just put in lots of garlic since it's an almost daily essential in our kitchen.

The carrots and Brandywine tomatoes were our absolute favorite.

Order the Dahlias early so that you get the variety you want early.  The Cafe au Lait is pretty high on my list.

Perhaps I don't need one million zinnias.  Or maybe I do.

The birds and bees that are drawn to the garden make it a happier place to be.

Leave space for asparagus.

I need a bigger garden....


Friday, October 17, 2014

The Halloween Tree and 2013 Ornaments

We've recently put up our beloved Halloween tree!  The tree is really filling up but we get so much joy from studying each ornament and remembering the year that Harris was a frog, Grace was the infamous chicken or when they were both furry, fluffy animals.  The making of the ornaments is truly a labor of love for my Mom and they are priceless to me.

We added last years ornaments that we have just now finished making!  My Mom made the Phillie Phanatic to match the costume she made for Harris last year.  He turned out darling.

I was a bit flummoxed as to how to make Grace's Coke can ornament as she originally used a trash can for her costume.  I decided on using a mini Coke can and added clothespin legs to the bottom and straw to the top.  I think it turned out cute.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Plz Take Pill (or Commence)

Every morning*, Harris has to take a PPI (protein pump inhibitor) pill to help reduce gastric acid that might be contributing to his EE.  He's been incredible about remembering to take the pill as soon as he wakes up.  However, the other morning he forgot, which really isn't the end of the world, and that night while tucking him into bed I found that he had made himself a reminder note and placed in on top of his alarm clock.  For some reason this note delighted me; it completely cracked me up that he included "please" on a note to himself!  (Note to self: work on spelling)

Two nights later, I noticed that the ante had been upped when Grace got into the mix and went all out for his reminder!  Needless to say he loves it!

*He only takes the PPI when a Scope is in the schedule

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Gray Jay?

Over the weekend, I was standing in the kitchen when a bird flew right into our window and dropped straight to the ground.  When I went out to check on the bird it was lying with both of its wings out and looked completely dazed, if not dead!  Grace came to the rescue of the bird, whom she immediately called a Gray Jay.  I've sinced looked the Gray Jay up and it does indeed look like our little visitor, but it's not typical for them to be in our area and it's beak is a little longer than Gray Jays.  So we are not really sure what it was?  The sweet bird let Grace pick her up and hold her for at least five minutes.

She would stare straight at Grace and seemed perfectly content with her.  I think it took Grace all of 30 seconds to fall hard for the little bird, but she was happy when she was able to fly off to a tree branch as that reassured her the little bird would be okay!

Friday, October 10, 2014

EE Update- The Allergist

this is about 3-4 minutes in- by the end of the 10 minutes his arms were a hot mess!

First, I would like to say that Harris is doing great!  He has taken to his new diet with such grace and ease and for that I am entirely thankful and I'm so very proud of him.  I'm also doing so much better than I was when I wrote the last update.  I feel more at peace with this being our path and no longer have so much of that fear that bubbled up and over when we first heard of his numbers and saw the state of his esophagus.  Having a plan and taking action has helped a lot!

Yesterday, we had our appointment with his allergist and we left feeling good about the whole visit (which lasted an entire two hours with no waiting- just with the doctor) and well taken care of.  We had lots of questions which were thoughtfully answered and discussed.

One of our big concerns and questions was about external allergies.  We've never noticed that Harris has struggled with seasonal allergies until this year when he was constantly sniffly for a good solid month (including when he had his scope).  We thought that it must be allergies because he felt fine otherwise, so we sort of ruled out a cold, etc.  Also, we have two cats that I was concerned were contributing to Harris' issues.  The more I read about new EE research the more I realized that environmental allergies can contribute though it should be noted that it's unlikely to do as much damage as Harris has on its own.

They no longer do food scratch testing for EE since it has shown to be absolutely unhelpful but the Dr. did want to do scratch testing for environmental allergens and a peanut/tree nut test to see if he is still anaphylactically allergic to nuts (he is).  It's interesting to me that when the Dr. examined Harris he asked him lots of questions about how he was feeling in general to which Harris answered "great" and "fine" or "no" when asked if he was ever itchy, uncomfortable, etc.  However, that's not how Harris presents.  For example, the Dr. called us over to look at Harris' eyes which were red at the bottom (when you pull down on the skin) and told us that that was not normal- nor was his nose.  He believes that Harris possibly just doesn't know any difference and therefore doesn't ever complain.

It was obvious within the first few minutes of the scratch test that Harris was allergic to basically everything both inside and outside.  In fact, when the nurse came in to take measurements she joked that Harris would need a bubble.  However, I have to stress that as bad as that sounds, Harris is not constantly uncomfortable!  I've seen children who have terrible seasonal allergies or cat/dog/dust allergies and Harris doesn't react like that!  But it could be contributing to his EE so we will start some treatment for those environmental allergies.

In summary, Harris is still off of dairy, wheat, corn, and nuts.  He's continuing to take an acid blocker and will start treatment for environmental allergies.  In two months he will have another scope to see where we are.  And that's it for now.

P.S.  The more I read about our digestive systems, our food (sources), GMO's and organic vs. non organic I feel as if I have had blinders on for years but that's a whole other topic of discussion.

Thursday, October 9, 2014


The Dahlias in the garden are absolutely beautiful!  As it's my first year growing Dahlias they have been a most pleasant surprise.  However, it should come as no surprise that my favorite ones are the big, ruffly ones, and in fact, I've already started a list of ones that I want to grow next year and every one falls into the ruffly, pink and feminine category.  Though I'm also thinking it would be lovely to plant some in shades of fall.

I love how tall this variety got as they are a really wonderful presence towering over the garden fence.

A couple of years ago, I bought this milk glass vase from our church rummage sale and it's one of my favorites.  It has a flower frog attached to the bottom that keeps all the stems standing up.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Mt. Rainier...the Return Trip (part 2)

Sunrise on Rainier
So, where was I? Oh yes, it's the morning of day 2, the weather is looking very cooperative but the unusually warm summer has caused a large cravasse to open up and our route to the summit is blown. My fellow climbers and I head over to the Weatherport for breakfast all feeling a bit apprehensive. The guides give us a bit more information at breakfast: a snow bridge over a cravasse above the Disappointment Cleaver had melted out; but two of our guides, along with two from RMI, would be heading up to scope out a way over or around the cravasse while we are doing our normal day 2 training at Muir. However, these guys were making no pomises. 

After breakfasting (pancakes, bacon and French press coffee!), we do the obligatory ice ax arrest training - to learn how to stop from sliding down the face of a glacier into a bottomless cravasse; cramponing techniques - its not easy walking around with a 12-pointed Chinese throwing star on each foot; and roped glacier travel. (Off and on during our training I overhear the guides' radios; the guys trying to set a new route radioed in several times, never sounding very positive about their progress.) By early afternoon we were ready to throw on our packs, rope up and head off across the Cowlitz glacier en route to high camp at Ingraham Flats.

Cowlitz Glacier and Cathedral Rocks
The walk across the Cowlitz is not that far (took about 45 minutes) but hitting Cathedral Rocks was a new experience. Last year the entire trip to the Gap was on snow and ice. This year we climbed a couple of hundred feet on the very rotten volcanic rock that makes up the entirety of Rainier and cramponing on that stuff is difficult - loose chunks of rock and gravel, metal-toothed crampons and a fairly steep pitch are a poor combination. We took a break at the top of the Gap and got our first view of Little Tahoma and the massive cravasses in that section of the Ingraham glacier.

Little Tahoma peak and the Ingraham Glacier
This is as far as we came last year, so a bit farther up route I got my first glimpse of the high camp at Ingraham Flats. It's not a lot to look at but I was struck by the nearness of the camp to cravasses that were large enough to swallow houses!

High Camp at Ingraham Flats and the lower Disappointment Cleaver
We arrived in camp around 3pm and got settled into our tents. We had a couple of hours until an early dinner and I managed to get a little rest. Right before dinner the guides sat us down outside the tents and finally gave us some info about the route above us. The guys had been unsuccessful in getting over the cravasse or simply around it. Instead, they set a new route traversing all the way over to the Emmons glacier. But that was as far as they were able to get before heading back down to us (they were still on their way down at that time). We were told that this is the normal route later in the season but since no one had been on the upper mountain on this route yet this year, we had no idea what to expect up there. We would get up and make our summit attempt as planned but we'd have to wait and see what the mountain would have in store for us higher up. 

After an early dinner we headed back to the tents to reorganize our packs for the alpine start the next morning. We would be leaving sleeping bags and pads, unneeded clothing and extra food behind in the tents so we wouldn't be carrying any extra weight up to the summit. This made for a nice, light pack that I was sure I'd be thankful for above 13,000 ft. We all bedded down by 8pm, while it was still quite light outside, and I tried to sleep. Using my buff as a blindfold and with Liquid Mind playing in my ears I think I managed about 90 minutes of actual sleep. It had gotten quite windy as evening turned to night and I was sure it was raining or sleeting by the sound of the tent. However, when I had to get up to use the pee hole (yeah, just a hole in the snow) I was relieved to learn the sound was just spindrift whipped up by the wind. The sky was quite clear, in fact, and the stars were beyond brilliant!

We were all up by 2am for our Alpine start and on the trail by 3. Jack and I found ourselves on the rope with our lead guide, Peter. We led the group out of camp, headlamps blazing, and stayed out front all morning. (This would end up to be a very good thing.) We were not more than 20 minutes out of camp when we came to an unexpected (at least by me) obstacle. Before us was cravasse with nothing but a ladder laid across it. On said ladder was lashed a strip of plywood to make this into a very scary-looking bridge. Oh, but at least there was a hand line on the left, a very smallish rope, and also a running belay at the far side (so we were perfectly safe...I think). I was at the end of our rope team so crossed this thing last. I trained the beam of my headlamp into the depths of the cravasse as I crossed it but the light didn't seem to get very far, definitely couldn't see the bottom. 

Not far after that little adventure we set foot on the Disappointment Cleaver (the "DC"), devoid of snow, and spent the next hour on that large rock outcropping. Above the DC somewhere was the cravasse that had caused so much trouble yesterday, but as it was very dark I never saw where our route diverged from the earlier one. It wasn't long after we started the traverse over to the Emmons that the sky began to lighten. I had been looking foward to a sunrise on Rainier for over a year. We were above 12,000 ft at this point and most of the world was below us. Right before the sun rose the view was incredible. Once the sun broke the horizon, the entire mountain was ablaze with colored light! It was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen and the pictures completely fail to capture it.

Looking back at Little Tahoma
From then on, it was long, slow climb up a lot of snow and ice. Thankfully, we encountered no surprises up there above where the guides had scoped out the day before. It was tedious and tiring though I was rewarded by a great view whenever we took a break or could venture a glance up from watching each and every foot placement. The pitch got pretty steep at times but this is just what the upper mountain is like!

Upper Mountain, view of Mt. Adams
After a long traverse heading mostly north on onto the Emmons, we switched back and headed toward the Nisqually glacier. Not long before the final push to the summit (I'm guessing we were around 14,000 ft), I glanced down and saw Camp Muir, waaaaaay below us. I zoomed the camera all the way (it's a 14x lens) to take this picture and wish I would have taken one without the zoom because looking down at where we started less than 20 hours ago was pretty cool.

Camp Muir as seen from 14,000 ft
After a final break, we turned to our right and climbed steeply up to to the crater rim for the last 20 minutes of the climb! 

(To be more time!)

Sunday, October 5, 2014


We had such a lovely, lovely weekend.  I'm finding that the weeks are becoming blurred in the to and fro from after school activities, meetings, obligations, food preparation, etc. and so to have a weekend that is a relaxing mix of family and friend time is just about perfect.

Friday evening, I met with my "God group" and even though I was late, I was so glad I went.  I tell you, sitting with a group of women who are open and honest about triumphs and struggles and everything in between is good for the soul.  Also, each of the children spent separate time with their Grandma this weekend- which is also good for the soul!

Saturday evening we had two other couples over for dinner.  I thought it would be fun to do something a bit different so we had a casual beer tasting!  I'm not even a big beer fan, but I loved trying the different brews.  We served three different beers; an Oktoberfest for the appetizers, a Pale Ale for the entree and an espresso stout for dessert!  I pretty much copied this menu exactly and it took all the guess work out of planning the menu!  I especially loved the appetizer board.  Oh, and the Beer Can Chicken was a novelty and very, very good.  We will be making it again for sure.

Sunday, after church, we decided that we could all really use a day doing something together as a family.  It was nice to focus on each other and I particularly enjoyed seeing Harris and Grace connect and have crazy, silly fun together.  Harris especially feels it when he doesn't have as much Grace time and he was so happy that I was so glad that we made the time for a hike in the woods.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Mt. Rainier...the Return Trip

After much gentle reminding pestering, Bryce has finally written about his and Jack's climb from the summer.  

First of all, my apologies for the lateness of this post! Work has been a complete whirlwind starting (literally) on the drive from Rainier back to Seattle and with no end in sight. Anna put her foot down, thankfully, so I'm finally getting this out there!

Since this is so late and most (or all) of you know the outcome of this trip, I'll spare you the suspense...

Bryce and Jack at Columbia Crest

Now that the punchline is out of the way, I'll tell the story. Yes, there is a story; it seems that at least where Jack and I and Mt. Rainier are concerned there is always a story.

I'm going to draw a lot of comparisons to our trip to Rainier last year and I have to apologize for that; it was just such a different experience this time. It's amazing to me how much difference about 6 weeks can make in the weather out there in the Seattle area. Last year I did not even see the mountain until we were climbing down off of it at the end of the trip. I never did actually spot it from Seattle or flying in or out. 

This year, the mountain made it's presence known from the very start. We had some excellent views from the plane on the way into SeaTac and from the first glimpse of that giant hunk of volcanic rock I was feeling mighty small. The pictures can't convey just how HUGE this thing is! All I could think as we flew by was, "I'm gonna climb THAT?! I must be crazy!!!"

Rainier from the air
As Anna has already shared, we and the Parsons were able to spend a very enjoyable couple of days in the park and around Paradise. The skies were fairly clear, most of the snow was melted off around Paradise and the wildflowers were beginning their brief appearance upon emerging from the snow (in mid-JULY!). Here in the park, again, the sheer size of this mountain kept announcing itself to me. It's ridiculously large, and intimidating, and gorgeous! Also, looking through my binoculars from several hundred feet above Paradise I realized, for the first time, that I could actually see Camp Muir from there! Couldn't get a picture of it but I could see it. Pretty cool (at least I thought so).

Saying goodbye to our families the night before the climb and seeing that the NWS forecast for the next few days showed good weather (and winds at the summit diminishing from 60+mph down to merely 15-20mph), Jack and I were feeling pretty optimistic about our chances of reaching the summit this year.

Waking up at Paradise on the first day of the climb this year was much different than last trip. We woke to sunny skies and temps in the 50s; last year it was dumping snow and in the low 30s. By the time we started the trek to Camp Muir (only about two hours later, mind you) the sun was mostly hidden and the wind had picked up just a bit. Have I mentioned that the weather on Mt. Rainier can turn on a dime?! 

With all the snow melting off, the first hour or so of the trip to Muir was really just an uphill hike, mostly on the paved trails leading up out of Paradise. It was a relief getting onto the snow as those double plastic boots are not well suited to pounding the pavement! The weather continued to change for us on the trek to Muir, improving quite a bit as we emerged from the clouds that hang out around 8,000 ft. However, you could really see the evidence of the strong winds at the summit - lenticular clouds on the mountain means winds strong enough to thwart a summit bid. 

On the Muir Snowfield
With the nice weather and pleasant temps we made the trip to Camp Muir (+4600 ft over about 5.5 miles) in right at five hours, downright speedy compared to the seven hours in rain, wind and blizzard conditions last year! Camp Muir looked much the same as last year with only a bit less snow. We occupied the same wooden box (the Guide Shelter), set out our sleeping pads and bags and got a little rest. 

We hadn't been at Muir all that long when the wind picked up a bit more and it began to rain. Really, the weather up there is just a wee bit unpredictable. We weren't too concerned about it. All we had to do was get over the hill to the Weatherport for dinner and then back to the shelter for some sleep (mostly rest for me since I couldn't sleep more than a couple of hours at altitude again this year). We did feel bad for the RMI group on the other side of the plywood wall of the shelter. They had arrived at Muir about the same time we did but they were getting up around 11pm to make their summit attempt. In the rain and wind. 

Morning finally arrived at Camp Muir on day 2 and the weather had changed yet again - I know...shocker. It was a beautiful morning and the views were pretty sweet.

Mts. Adams and St. Helens peeking out above the clouds

As we were getting ready to head to the Weatherport for breakfast, several of the RMI climbers were getting back into camp. Someone in our group made the mistake of asking them how their climb had been, knowing full well it probably didn't go all that well. They had to climb in the rain and they were already back at Muir, right about the time they should be at the summit. The response was something like, "Oh, it was really dangerous! A snow bridge over one of the cravasses [these are cracks in the glaciers that can be veeeery deep, veeeery large and can swallow climbing parties whole] on the route opened up...with one of the guides on the snow while it was moving! The route is blown, man. It'll be a few days before they can reset it." And I thought to myself, "Holy crap! Here we go again!!! The weather is supposed to be nearly perfect and the route is blown?! Are you kidding me?!?!"

To be continued...
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