Category Archives: Postcards

Postcard from the OR Coast

10-year-old me, on the OR coast

I got the idea for this road trip this summer. I was heading to Sequim with Nicole and we were rockin’ to the “Road Trip” playlist I made. It reminded me of my mom; she loved road trips. We took countless road trips down Highway 101 to the coast when we were kids and I hadn’t been back in almost as long.

I texted my sister Rachel right then and said, “Let’s take a road trip to the Oregon coast! It will be like old times!” She replied with an enthusiastic yes and several months later, we were booking hotel rooms for the trip.

We decided to start in Astoria where we’d see the landmarks from one of our favorite childhood (hell, it still is) movies, the Goonies. We put Cyndi Lauper on for the occasion. A stop at the visitors center got us a map with more sights than we really needed to see.

Rachel stayed in the car while I ran into a gas station to pick up a ceremonial Baby Ruth as Sloth would have liked. When I didn’t see them, I halfway expected them to be in some special spot for Goonies nerds like us. But no, they didn’t have them.

When I returned to the car empty-handed, Rachel said, “What? No Baby Ruths in Astoria? The Goonies put Baby Ruth on the map!” Luckily, we found another place that did.

We traveled through a surprise hail storm that made it look like the ground was covered in snow and eventually made it to Cannon Beach, where we stayed the first night. Our room was small, but cozy with a gas fireplace and an amazing view of the ocean. I delighted in the fact that I could see the Tillamook Rock  Lighthouse from the bed.


We were all giggles that night, spilling our hot chocolate all over the place because we were laughing so hard. Crying, stomach-hurting giggles about what I don’t know. Although, I know why Rachel was laughing so hard…she loves to pull that one on people. Gets us every time!

In the morning, we picked up the most amazing savory roll from Waves of Grain bakery and took it to the beach with our coffee and tea. It was a lovely start to the most beautiful day!

The sun was breaking through the clouds as we walked up and down the beach near Haystack Rock. The weather was so surprisingly mild, we were stripping off layers of warm clothes so that by the time we were back at the car, we were ready to change into t-shirts and Toms.

The beautiful, sunshiny weather made for the most gorgeous drive south down the highway and stops in small towns along the way. A recommendation from a friend prompted us to stop in Manzanita and we were both glad we did. I’m still munching on the salt water taffy I picked up when we were there. Maple bacon taffy? Seriously? Yes.

On Sunday, after picking up a couple doughnuts from Voodoo in Eugene, where we stayed the next two nights, we headed back west to the Sea Lion caves, a childhood favorite. We took the elevator down; there were only two options.

Even though it was rare this season, there were about 20 sea lions on the rock in the center of the cave. They made low, echoing sounds as they moved around on their bellies, vying for a better spot. I realized being there again how vague my memories of the place had been. It felt like I was visiting for the first time.

Before heading back inland to Eugene, we decided to head up Highway 101 north a ways to take in a bit more of the ocean views. We stopped off at a park where we could see the water and had ourselves a car picnic of Tuscan kale salad with farro. In true Stacy fashion, I made a ton of food for our road trip, which kept us well fed and only having to purchase a meal a day for the whole trip. Throughout the trip, we noshed on the arsenal of snacks I prepared: turkey sandwiches and sandwiches with peanut butter and ginger pear butter, homemade granola bars, Mom’s chocolate chip cookies, apple and carrot slices, kale chips, and oranges. Plus, a quart jar of almond milk for tea along the way.

We stopped in the town of Yachats before turning around and heading back. I had been told that a stop at the Green Salmon was in order since they had amazing coffee. We were so glad we did! They had the biggest selection of teas and coffees and hot chocolates I had ever seen. Rachel got some kind of latte and I had the Mayan hot chocolate. We were both in heaven, raving in between sips about how our drinks were so good. We wanted to savor them for as long as we could. I was grateful to have gotten that recommendation because it was well worth the extra drive.

On the last night of our trip, we ate dinner at the Pizza Research Institute in Eugene, which was known for having unique and delicious vegetarian and vegan pizzas. I started the meal with the most delicious cup of coconut curry yam soup! It was like sipping the sauce of my favorite Thai dish.

I also enjoyed a glass of a local pinot noir that tasted like cherries. Rachel and I shared a small pizza with spinach, feta, olives and artichoke hearts. We ate the rest of that “small” pizza for breakfast.

As I pulled up to Rachel’s place to drop her off at the end of our adventure, we both agreed that it was the best! Everything went so smoothly and we really had the best time! We’ve been realizing lately that even though we live so close to each other, it’s really easy to take this time and the short distance between us for granted. We took advantage of this opportunity to take a trip together that later, when she’s living in Nashville, where she’ll be next fall, would be a bit harder to arrange. We giggled, reminisced, and confided in each other this weekend like sisters do. And I am grateful.

You can’t catch a wave if you never get in the water!

Vashon Makes a Girl Want Some Flowers

I’ve always had a thing for flowers. Most girls do, I know. But my attraction to them has grown over time and is getting even more pronounced. It’s the big beautiful summer blooms that really get me – the ones that are rich yellow and hot pink.

It’s the ones that draw in the bees that really draw me in too. I gravitate to their petals like bees to their pollen. I noticed this heightened attraction when I went to Vashon Island a few weeks ago, when those summer blooms were bountiful!

At the farmers’ market, the buckets holding summer bouquets immediately drew me in and made me happier than I expected. My $3 bunch of rubeckia pretty much made my day and I think I might have made the sweet gentleman vendor blush with my giddy appreciation.

The bouquets of rubeckia, sunflowers and zinnias at the adorable Island Meadow Farm Stand had me swooning and the U Pick Flower garden at Hogsback Farm Stand ’bout did me in!

Is there anything more lovely than grabbing some shears, walking through a yellow wooden gate and picking flowers to your heart’s content? I’m already planning my trip back this time next summer!

And it all got me thinking about my own little “farm”.  With the exception of the pollinator-attracting blooms in my side yard and my row of lavender, I’ve really given up flowers for food. Where I once grew dahlias, I now grow fruit. One rogue dahlia I obviously failed to remove now grows on the neighbor’s side of the yard and peeks over into mine as if to taunt me for rejecting her.

So, if all these flowers bring me so much joy, why am I not creating more of a U-pick in my own backyard? With my hardcore drive to grow as much food in my yard as I can, would I be willing to carve out a bit of space for some self-indulgent garden blooms?

Producing food in my yard will always be my number one goal – it’s a passion that’s gotten me far. But I think some balance is in order, food for my belly with some food for my soul. Creating an environment that attracts pollinators attracts me as well, so maybe it’s not all that self-indulgent.

While I may not be able to eat what I grow in the backyard bed that I’ve now designated my future U-pick flower garden, it will give me even more reason to be outside in my urban farm oasis. And lucky for me, it will give our neighborhood pollinators more reasons as well.

* This is the first post of a series on the plethora of reasons why I love Vashon Island. It stole my heart this summer. I’ll show you why…

 

Postcard: A Return to Sequim

You know how I feel about lavender. I know I don’t have to repeat myself.

What I will say is that going to Sequim a second time was even better than the first trip and I didn’t think that was possible.

Nicole joined me on this one and we decided it must be an annual trip from now on. I should have known it was going to be a blast – spending time with Nicole is always easy and breezy!

We feed off each other’s joyful energy. If you weren’t loving life, hanging out with us on this trip would have probably felt like hanging out with the Brady Bunch – happy-go-lucky!

There was just so much to be grateful for! Standing in the fields, inhaling lavender and listening to the sound of the bees never gets old. Your cares melt away instantly. It sounds like this:

If I could have inserted the intoxicating smell into this video for you, I would have.

We brought along yummy green juice, fresh tomato caprese salad, quiche and fresh-picked carrots and had a picnic at our first farm stop. Summer bucket list item, check!

Because we went on a Saturday, we were able to catch downtown Sequim’s open air market! I had to buy one of these adorable tube vases, which now sticks on the window by the kitchen sink – a constant reminder of an amazing time! We giggled at the fact that everything must be lavender in Sequim – socks, shirts, walls. It must just go with the territory.

We stayed at my favorite bed and breakfast, the Dungeness Barn House, because I just can’t imagine staying anywhere else. Berta is the most lovely hostess and the food is delicious. It’s always fun meeting new friends at breakfast.

There are cows next door. I never noticed that before. I realized I’ve never been that close to a cow before and never knew what funny personalities they have. We loved No.13 the best.

After wine tasting at Wind Rose and Olympic cellars (Oh my word! Have you seen their “Working Girl” wine?! A-freaking-dorable!) and another amazing meal at the Alder Wood Bistro, we took in the sunset across the street from the Barn House. It was the perfect end to a perfect day.

Wish you were here!

Love,
Stacy 

Postcard from ATL

I love how well my dad knows me and my bff who I went to visit in Atlanta last week. Upon my return, he asked me, “What did you guys do? Eat?” He knows what we love to do.

And yes, it’s true. I ate a lot of great food and cooled off by eating my share of ice cream and popsicles. It was in the 90s after all. King of Pops, the little carts shaded by colorful umbrellas, can be found in gas station parking lots all over Atlanta, proudly serving up artisan popsicles with seasonal ingredients.

There are unique flavor options like you’d find at our local Molly Moons – watermelon mojito, fresh GA peach, and lemon ricotta. But I couldn’t resist their famous chocolate with sea salt. It was delicious.

And yes, frosty beverages were consumed to cool us from the humid heat. We certainly wouldn’t want to suffer from heat exhaustion, right? Right.

jct kitchen
The Tall Cool One at JCT Bar was my favorite, made with a fancy gin and tonic I didn’t recognize and strawberry rhubarb shrub. This lovely number was made even better with the garnish of strawberry and pickled rhubarb. I wish I could order another round right now.
The Goat FarmOf course, we did other things besides eat. We went to the goat farm where goats and vegetables coexist among run-down warehouses, which are being transformed and beautified by local artists (more on the goat farm here).

We also took a road trip to North Carolina. I’ve visited Atlanta so many times it was time to explore a little more of the South. Our destination was Asheville, a little city in North Carolina Radhi knew I would love.

But first, we did a little sight-seeing – we toured the Biltmore, America’s largest home! We wandered around the house on a self-guided tour for several hours. I couldn’t help but think about scenes from Downton Abbey, especially when we toured the servants’ quarters and the kitchen. Oh my word, the pantry and that kitchen with its original copper pots!
biltmore gardensSet on an 8,000 acre property, the house is surrounded by a beautiful landscape, a garden which was designed by the same man who designed Central Park in NYC. We set out to the garden and wandered around for as long as we could stand the heat.

We made sure to make a stop at the Antler Hill Winery on the property on our way out. Wine tasting was in order. Once we made it into town, it was clear that Asheville proper was me all over. I loved the focus on local, seasonal and homemade.

tupelo honey cafe

I think I can safely say that besides the vintage inspired store, Hip Replacements, which had me swooning (and buying), Tupelo Honey was our favorite thing about Asheville. The restaurant that came highly recommended delivered in a big way.

It’s busy, but a call ahead to get your name on the list will get you walking in the door to your table in a jiffy. The menu boasts many a southern dish and lots of pickled and preserved goodies. The cookbook does too and I’m kicking myself for not buying it when I was there. A plate of warm biscuits delighted us before our meals arrived and Radhi  decided they were the best biscuits she’d ever had. Now for a girl from the south where biscuits abound, that’s quite the statement, but I have to agree.

Since we were in the area, I was able to visit Ashley and drink in all the beautiful things she is doing with their land. The fact that Huxley greeted me by saying my name when we arrived made my heart melt.

So clearly, the answer to my dad’s question is yes, we did eat. But it wasn’t really the food that was so memorable. It was who I was sharing it with that meant so much to me. It was the opportunity to be able to sit across the table from Radhi and talk and laugh with her, face to face, instead of through our computer screens on Skype. It’s the silly synchronicity of our hunger pangs that is memorable – our bodies’ way of getting us to enjoy each others company across the table again. That is really why we love to eat.

Wish you were here!

Love,
Stacy

* Images by David Payne, Radhi Mohan and yours truly