Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Berry Baskets

I don't love summer.  Although, in it's defense, I might love summer if I didn't live where the daily weather forecaster describes the day as "oppressive".  But the one thing that saves summer for me is the produce you can buy (okay, two things...add snowcones to that list).  Berries are some of my favorite things to buy, and blackberries are one of my favorite foods in existence, so I was super excited to find these adorable berry baskets.

I've been wanting some from Anthropologie for a long time, but at $20 for the larger size and $14 for the smaller size, I just never could justify the purchase.  Then I got the Sur la Table catalog and saw that they had these cute baskets on sale, I was sold. 

I got the smaller yellow baskets for $3.99 and the larger basket (which they called a peach basket) for $9.06.  I couldn't pass it up.  They only came in yellow, white, and red, (so not all the cute anthropologie color options), but I was happy with the price.

Since I bought these, I also found some cheaper melamine options at World Market.  They come in yellow, hot pink, and lime green. 

I just think my berries are so much more tasty since they are stored in the adorable baskets!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Confessions of a Product Junkie {Face Makeup~Revised Edition}

It's been less than a month since I posted a Confessions regarding face makeup. I've already returned the Bobbi Brown products I wrote about. Hey, a girl can always change her mind, right?

It wasn't that I decided I didn't like the Bobbie products, but while in Seattle, we visited Nordstrom.  We went to the Laura Mercier counter because my friend Suzanna had forgotten to bring her powder on vacation.  She had tried my Laura powder that I wrote about in the first post, so we went to the counter.  They sold her on several products, and well, they sold me too.

So I returned the Bobbie and purchased the Laura.  I've used Laura Mercier in the past.  I had used their foundation primer and loved it, but I hadn't used the radiance primer.  I am obsessed!  Obsessed I tell you!  It is beyond fabulous and gives you the greatest glow.  

Over the primer, I'm using the tinted moisturizer.  I've used it before, but it has been years and I apparently I have forgotten how much I liked it.  It is perfect for summer.  The primer with the tinted moisturizer over it feels like you aren't wearing any makeup, which was really what made me decide to switch.  Now, there is a Laura Mercier Illuminating Tinted Moisturizer which accomplishes basically the same effect as the radiance primer under the regular tinted moisturizer, but of course, it doesn't come in a color light enough for me. 
I'm using a different powder too.  It is their mineral powder.  I'm really liking it too.  It doesn't seem to make my dry skin look flaky.  For some reason, Nordstrom is out of the color I needed in this, both in store and online, so I had to get it at Sephora.   

So while I was liking the products I wrote about a month ago, I'm loving these products!  These are my official face makeup products of Summer.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Seattle/Victoria Trip {Day 6}

Sunday was our last day in Seattle.  We spent the last two nights at the Inn at the Market.  It is a great boutique hotel that is actually located inside Pike Place Market.  We had a nice large room (unfortunately I waited until 1 a.m. to take the photos!), and a great view of the market and the sound (which I didn't take a photo of!).

Why don't all hotels have a hamper for the dirty towels?
Despite wanting to sleep until noon, we got up, got ready, and headed out to see Pike Place Market again.  I still can't get over the flowers and the seafood...
It was a great trip, and I was sad to leave, but I had a pup at home that was ready to see me (& I was ready to see her too!).  Here's a phone pic of Mt. Rainier as we flew over...
Here's the pup with her souvenir from the Seattle Aquarium
Here are some of my thoughts on the hotels, restaurants, what we did right, what we did wrong, what I'd do differently, etc....
The Hotels

Edgewater Hotel:  You can't beat the views at this hotel, BUT if you aren't going to pay for a waterview room, then stay somewhere else and just visit the Six Seven Restaurant for the view.  If you are not in a waterview room, then there is a train which will go by your room.  Even with earplugs, that dang train woke me several times each night.  Also, we did not have a mirror outside of the bathroom, which is really not very handy for two girls trying to get ready.  My final big gripe is that they charged approx $15 for wifi.  Seriously?  Why, when I'm paying what I was paying to stay there, do you want to charge me $15 a day for wifi?  This hotel was a great hotel to stay in when you are catching the early Victoria Clipper ferry as it is just on the next pier.

Inn at the MarketWe really loved this hotel, but hardly got to enjoy it due to our late night arrival on Friday, our Saturday at Olympic Park, and Sunday morning checkout.  This is an awesome location.  I would stay here again in a heartbeat.  I think it's an even better location than many of the other Downtown Seattle hotels.  I can see why it is on Conde Nast's Gold List!  (and free wifi!)
The Fairmont EmpressTo be honest, our room was more run-down than I would expect for a Fairmont Hotel.  The rooms could use some serious updating and it didn't have A/C, which wasn't a big deal at night, but did get warm during the day.  Thankfully, it had a ceiling fan.  They too charge for wifi, again approx $15 for 24 hours of service.  Since we were in Canada and weren't using our phones without wifi, we paid for it here so we could use our phones and ipad.  But all that being said, I cannot imagine staying anywhere else in Victoria.  Not only because of the beauty and the history, but location, location, location!  


La Panier:  A great french bakery.  Got a sandwich to eat on the road on Saturday and it was wonderful.  All the pastries were to die for.
Dahlia Lounge: This was probably my favorite Seattle restaurant.  If you couldn't eat there, you should at least stop by the Dahlia Bakery next door for some goodies.
Red Fish Blue Fish:  In Victoria, this was my favorite.  If I'd have been able to, I would have eaten here more than once.  There were about 3 things I was just itching to try.
Seattle Don't Miss Sights
Pike Place Market
Kerry Park--that's a post card view you need to see!
Chihuly Garden & Space Needle
Victoria Don't Miss Sights
Inner Harbour area
Whale Watch
Butchart Gardens
What I'd Do Differently
(1) I'd definitely want to devote more time to Olympic National Park.  You could easily do 2 full days here.  That being said, I wouldn't take for my day there.  So if you could only do one day there, I'd still say go for it.  Maybe just do Hurricane Ridge, Marymere Falls (or the falls at Sol Duc), and then see some of the beaches.  I just don't think there is enough time to add in Hoh Rainforest since it's such a huge time suck. 
If I was going to do two days in the park, I'd probably detour before I got to the park.  See Port Townsend, WA and also Sequim, WA.  Go to Hurricane Ridge, Marymere & Sol Duc.  Spend the night in that Crescent Lake area.  Then on day two hit up the rainforest and the beaches.
(2) Go a few weeks later in the summer.  We went from June 4-9, which was a little too early apparently.  In Sequim, WA, the lavender was about a week out from blooming.  In Victoria, the city had not put out all the hanging baskets and flowers they usually have everywhere.  (Apparently they were suppose to have gone in the week before we arrived, but for some reason they didn't).  Also, I think we were kind of between seasons at Butchart Gardens.  It was still beautiful, but the spring flowers were done, and the summer flowers weren't in their splendor yet.  Again, you could tell that the roses were about a week away from being beautiful. 
Overall Opinion
If you haven't been to Seattle, I'd say go as soon as you can.  It's so beautiful.  I mean, really beautiful.  I was comparing sights on the peninsula to Snowdonia National Park in Wales.  Suzanna was comparing it to her summer in Austria.  But it's so much closer to home!  In fact, as we drove, we both agreed that our national anthem should be "America, the Beautiful".
I think Seattle is easily seen in 2 days.  Then you could devote any additional time you might have to an excursion or two like Victoria, Vancouver, Mount Rainier, or Olympic National Park. 
I've been on a real kick over the past few years to see this country.  I have been to the Northeast, Southeast, the South, Arizona, California, but I was really missing out on not having seen the great Pacific Northwest.  I'm very happy with my 2013 vacation selection!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Seattle/Victoria Trip {Day 5}

On Saturday morning, we got up, hit up La Panier to get food for the road, and headed to the rental car place.  We got our car and headed out to the Olympic Peninsula to see Olympic National Park.  There are a couple of different ways you can get to the Oympic Peninsula... some, including iphone maps favorite options, involve taking a ferry.  We decided against the ferry route for a few reasons and just drove on down and around through Tacoma. 

Olmpic National Park is huge.  It's really three parks in one, because there are mountains, rain forests, and beaches.  You need multiple days to see the park, not only because of it's size, but because many of the roads have a 35 mph speed limit, an issue that we failed to factor accordingly for. 

Here is a map to give you a better idea of where the park is...

We left Seattle at about 9:15 a.m.  We drove down to Tacoma and across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge to drive up WA 16.  We made a quick stop in Sequim were there are numerous lavender farms.  Unfortunately, the lavender was about a week away from blooming, but we purchased some lavender products.  Then we hit the road again and headed to the park.  In Port Angeles, there is the park's information center, and that's where we stopped to plot out all our stops.

Let me take a minute to say, that our plans were full on crazy...CRAZY in all caps really.  The park ranger looked at us like we were nuts, but we were determined, so we made the plans to do the following:

(1) Hurricane Ridge
(2) Marymere Falls near Crescent Lake
(3) Hoh Rain Forest
(3) some beaches

Driving up to Hurricane Ridge was our first stop.  It's a beautiful drive up the mountain, but definitely a winding road
We saw some deer as we traveled up the mountain, and then when we got to the top, there were deer everywhere.
 and SNOW!!
Only one short trail was open.  The others were still snowed over.
But that was good because we really didn't have time to do a long hike up here if we were going to make it to our other targets.
This map helps you identify the various mountains, Mount Olympic being the tallest.

 This little guy was so close to us.  At this point, I said "Are you photogenic little guy?" and he gave me this.  I took that as a yes!
 As we drove down the mountain, the clouds were rolling in.
It was really eerie, but beautiful at the same time.
Once we got back to Port Angeles, we headed west on Highway 101.  We traveled by Crescent Lake.
Just on the other side of Crescent Lake, we parked and took out hiking for Marymere Falls.
The park guide had said the falls were really active due to snow melt, so we knew it would be worth the 1.5 mile hike.
The hike was so pretty. 
Lots of forest with moss covered trees and ferns everywhere.
 My artsy photo practice`manually focusing on the fern seen through a log.
 We got to this point and were amazed by the beauty, but we had no idea the best part was still to come.
 The hike became an uphill climb at this point.
We went up...
 and up...
and up, until we reached the falls.
 Then we hiked back down to the car and set out driving to Hoh Rain Forest.
Everyone said "You can't miss Hoh".
 We did not factor in that the drive was about 45 minutes to Forks, and then it takes about another  hour from Forks to get to Hoh each way, even though it's only like 25 miles.
By the time we reached Hoh, I was bitter, I'm not going to lie.  I felt like it had sucked a ton of our time, and once we got there, it was apparent that we would only have time for the mini-10 minute-hike, instead of the longer ones.
Maybe if we had taken the longer hikes, we would have been really impressed, but as it was, I was not impressed with Hoh Rain Forest.
Sure it was beautiful, but it looked very similar to what we had seen on the hike to Marymere Falls (and what we were about to see hiking near the beaches).  Plus, it is suppose to be raining there!  It's one of the rainiest place in the country and it was sunny as all get out!
This was interesting though.  The tall spruce trees have very shallow roots, so they fall over and the ferns just grow all over the roots and it looked like a wall of vegitation.  You can see that below.
 We loaded back up and headed to the beaches.
We knew we had a hour drive back to Forks where we would turn off to the beach and we were fighting daylight at this point. 
 As we drove out of Hoh, we saw some Elk.  My pics of the elk aren't very good because I was stopped in the road taking the pics with two RV's behind me honking. 
 I include this pic of the Forks sign because if you are a Twilight fan, this will mean something to you.  I have not read the book, nor seen the movie, so I could have cared less.
 This isn't a great photo that I snapped as I drove down the road, but these yellow flowering bushes were all along the road.  They were so pretty!
 We drove out to First Beach because you could drive right up to it.
Here are 3 instagrams from First Beach
 First Beach selfie
There is also a Second Beach and a Third Beach which are reported to be even more beautiful than First Beach (is that possible?).  You have to hike to both of them.  The hike to Second Beach was shorter, so we decided to try it.
Again, you are hiking through a forest...
After about 20 minutes, it started to get darker and darker.
The sitatuion was beginning to resemble everything Disney movies have spent years cautioning us against... a dark, creepy, forest. 
We reached a spot where we had every instinct telling us to turn around.  We ran across a guy that said were were probably still 40 mintues from the beach.  We factored the 40 minutes there, time to see the beach, an hour back to the car, plus our instincts into the equation and decided to turn around.
You can imagine it was at this point, I was cursing Hoh for wasting 2 hours of daylight!
 It's interesting because the camera captured much more light in the photos than what actually happening there in the forest at this point.
We did walk back up the road to an overlook of First Beach before we hit the road.
We got into the car at 8:30, and did not get back to Seattle until 12:30.  That was the darkest and scarriest road I have ever driven, and I can assure you that we were super tired when we rolled back into our hotel at 1:00 a.m.!
Stay tuned for the next post:  the last few hours in Seattle, plus some pictures of our room at the Inn at the Market.  I will also give my thoughts on best places to stay, eat, activities, etc. if you are planning a trip to Seattle, Victoria, or Olympic National Park.


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