Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Seeing Stars

Sunset from Mauna Kea high above the clouds

On our trip to Hawaii in 2009, a friend suggested we visit the Mauna Kea Observatories, located at 13,796 feet on top of an inactive volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii. Due to the low humidity, clear skies and lack of city lights, Mauna Kea is one of the finest observatory sites on the planet.

We left Kona about three hours before sunset.  Our first stop was the Visitor Information Center at 9,200 feet.  Because it only takes a few hours to go from sea level to almost 14,000 feet, it's important to stop here and acclimate for 30 minutes or so.  

Soon we continued our way upward to see the observatories and watch the spectacular sunset from the top of the world.  There are currently thirteen optical and infrared telescopes being used for astronomical research at Mauna Kea.  All of them are privately owned and not open to the public, but visitors are welcome to walk around outside.

Because there is 40% less oxygen at 14,000 feet, we only stayed long enough to watch the sunset and take a few pictures.  Some members of my family (who shall remain nameless :) were not feeling too well after only twenty minutes at the summit.  It was also COLD and windy - something we weren't accustomed to after a week in Hawaii.

We headed back down to the Visitor's center for the Stargazing Program, which was the highlight of the night.  High powered telescopes were set out manned with experienced guides to explain what we were seeing.  Because Hawaii is near the equator, you can see stars from the Southern and Northern Hemispheres from there - 85% of the stars that are visible from earth.

It was a spectacular experience.  Through the telescopes we were able to clearly see Saturn and its rings, Mars, the complete Southern Cross, and the Great Andromeda Galaxy. The guides used laser pointers to draw out the constellations - and the boys got quite a lesson in zodiac signs.

Credit:  Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station
It's not your normal Hawaiian activity, but it was a once in a lifetime experience to see the sunset and stars from Mauna Kea!

Monday, September 29, 2014


Last week, my husband ran out of soap.  Usually I keep several extra bars stashed away, but when I was shopping the store was out of stock, and then I forgot all about it. It wasn't until I went to put a new bar in the shower that I remembered.  Normally not a big deal, except my hubby is very particular about his soap brand.  I've known him for 32 years, and with the exception of vacations, he always uses Tone Soap with Cocoa Butter.

When he called me on his way home from work, I mentioned that we were out, and he decided he'd better stop and pick some up.  I laughed and told him I'd never known anybody so loyal to a bar of soap.  

The more I thought about it, I realized that I've never known anybody more loyal, period. My husband is loyal to his friends, his children, our business, and most of all...


He has many wonderful qualities.  I love his sense of humor, and he is kind, hard working, strong, compassionate, never gives up, and tells me I'm beautiful every day. He is the very best dad to our two boys, and he puts our family above all else.

Today is our 24th wedding anniversary, and it's been over 32 years since we went on our first date.  We were in ninth grade, and his mom had to drive us to the restaurant. The eight years between that night and September 29, 1990 had a lot of ups and downs.

But since that day 24 years ago, my husband has been true and devoted to me.  He has always been there when I needed him, offering his constant support.  He never looks at me like I'm crazy, even when I am.  No matter where we are headed, I know that he will be by my side, loving and encouraging me.


And I am one lucky girl.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Sharing Some Gratitude Part Five

How can it be the end of September already?  It's time to share some gratitude!

--I'm grateful for this kid.  His first quarter of community college went great, he passed his electrical ASE certification, and got a promotion at work.  Not to mention, he's sweet and funny and takes all my outfit pictures for me.  Yesterday he offered to chauffeur me around while I ran errands.  Who says teenagers aren't useful?

--I'm grateful for September.  It's my favorite month of the year.  The weather is perfect, pumpkins are for sale, fall is in the air, and Nestle's Pumpkin Spice Chips are in the stores. They are so good - I may or may not have a few bags in my pantry, waiting for me to eat them!  I got married in September because I love it so much.

--I'm grateful to be participating in #100HappyDays on Instagram.  It goes hand in hand with my gratitude journal, and I feel less anxious when I focus on the positive.  It's been thirteen days since I started and I haven't missed one day yet.  Follow me on Instagram to see my daily pictures.

--I'm grateful that we have a new back deck.  Our house is sixteen years old, and due to its Western exposure, our deck takes a lot of abuse from the sun and rain. It was past time for a replacement.  I'm happy (and grateful) to report that it's almost done!  One more topcoat this weekend and we can move the furniture back and start enjoying it again.  Here it is mid makeover.

--I'm grateful for Abby, our seven year old lab.  She's my constant companion during the day while everyone else is at work and school.  Once my hubby gets home though, she only has eyes for him.  Oh well, we'll always have Mondays!

I hope you find what you are grateful for.  Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, September 26, 2014

5 Favorite Pictures I've Taken

This week the Lifestyle Sistas and I are sharing the 5 favorite pictures we've taken. Once again, this was SO hard.  How to choose only five?  I finally had to narrow it down to pictures that are currently on my desktop, and even then it was difficult.

The first picture above was taken from our deck last winter, looking out at Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains.  There are some spectacular sunsets around here, especially on cold, clear days.  My hubby says it's because of all the air pollution - way to spoil a perfectly beautiful sunset :)!

I took this of my niece and nephew at the beach.  The shadows you see above them are five adults all trying to get them to smile for the picture - not an easy task with this pair! Love those cute little faces!

This is our dog Abby on the day we brought her home seven years ago.  She went missing (oops, bad new puppy owners), and I found her in the garage, snuggled up in C's hockey bag. If you've ever smelled hockey gear....let's just say, I hope you haven't had the "pleasure". Apparently Abby found it comforting.

This is T playing in the ocean at Manzanita.  I think it captures the joy of the experience of running in and out of the waves - for hours.

I love everything about this picture.  We were SO proud of C on his graduation day, and he was pretty proud of himself too.  As soon as we found him after the ceremony, my hubby gave him a huge bear hug.  I cry every time I look at it.

Hope you'll link up below, or join us next Friday for 5 things I love about Fall.  Check out my other Lifestyle Systas!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Two Weeks To Live

Creating a list of things to do before you die, or a Bucket List, was made popular by the 2007 movie starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson.  The main characters, both suffering from terminal cancer and with less than a year to live, traveled the world, crossing things off their "must do" lists.

Since then, the "bucket list" is everywhere - Summer Bucket List, Photography Bucket List, Family Bucket List, Date Night Bucket List.  The possibilities are endless.

But what if you only had two weeks to live?

Yesterday I saw a news story about a local man who was diagnosed with gall bladder cancer last week - and given only two more weeks to live.  But instead of curling up in a ball of sadness and anger, 60 year old Frank said, "We know it's going to happen. You've got to live each day for the moment".  His positive attitude in the face of such a horrible diagnosis humbled and inspired me.

Originally, Frank created a bucket list of things he wanted to get done around the house in order to help his wife and family.  But they added some fun things as well - decorating now for one last Christmas, and having a symbolic wedding ceremony for his daughter, due to be married next Spring.

After I wiped my tears away, I started thinking about my own bucket list, if I were faced with similar circumstances.  Two weeks is a very short time - not long enough to travel to far away places or arrange major adventures.

Obviously, I would want to spend every moment possible with my family and close friends.  I would want to go skydiving - something I have always thought about doing, but haven't yet summoned up the courage for.  I would want to see one more sunrise, hold one more baby, and eat lots of cupcakes.

And just like Frank did, I would spend some time writing a letter and recording a short video for each of my family members, as a reminder of my love for them.

Most of us will never know for certain that we are two weeks from our death.  I can't even imagine what that must feel like.  I hope that I would be as brave and giving as Frank.

What would you do if you only had two weeks to live?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Pin-Spired Lace Shirt

Today I'm taking a little Pin-Spiration from one of my favorite blogs, Mix And Match Family. The idea is to find an outfit on Pinterest and recreate it with clothes from your own closet.  I will be linking up with Shay on Friday if you'd like to see some other Pin-Spired looks.

This was the inspiration for my outfit.

I think I did pretty good - although I REALLY like her boots better than mine.  Lace is another big trend for Fall.  Wearing a lace shirt under a jacket or sweater provides just the right amount and keeps the look from being too "young".  I added a statement necklace for a little bit of color.

A perfect transitional outfit for early fall.  Right on cue, it started raining today - and probably won't stop until next Spring.  Ahh...Seattle!  Wish I could share a little with California.

Speaking of favorite blogs, it's time to sign up for Alison's Fall Style Me Pretty Challenge! Registration opens this Friday, the shopping list will be released on October 3rd, and you will receive 21 days of Fall outfits starting October 12th.

Fall Style Challenge - Full Size Square

This will be my third Style Me Challenge, and I cannot say enough good things about it! Alison has amazing style, and shares it all during the 21 day challenge.  If you don't have a lot of money in your clothing budget - no worries.  I usually find many of the items are already in my closet, and it's easy to substitute with pieces that you own. Plus, Alison's picks are always very budget friendly.  The girl knows how to shop a Target sale!  The best part? Not having to figure out what to wear every day - because Alison tells me!

Click on the link to sign up or find out more information about the Fall Style Me Pretty Challenge - any questions, leave me a comment or shoot me an email!

**In the spirit of full disclosure, this is an affiliate link, which means I will get a commission if you decide to join the challenge.  I only recommend products and programs that I use and love myself, so I know you'll be in good hands!**

Linking up with Get Your Pretty On, The Pleated PoppyBecause Shanna Said SoNot Dead Yet StyleVodka Infused Lemonade, Why I Do DeclaireFashion Friday

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

An Old School Fall

Well, it's the first day of fall, and I have mixed feelings about it.  On the one hand, it is my favorite season.  But on the other, I know that means the rain is coming - and I seem to be tolerating that less in my old age!

In any case, today I'm linking up with The miss Elaine-ous life and Tamara (Like) Camera (have you read her blog? - if you haven't, you should) for Old School Blogging - Fall Into Fall.  And I'm going really old school with some of the pictures - circa 2002-2003.

1. What Fall traditions do you have?

When the boys were younger we spent all day long at the pumpkin patch - looking for the perfect pumpkin, going on a hay ride, and wandering through the corn maze.  We even tried the haunted corn maze one year - that didn't go over too well.   The next day we carve our pumpkins while my hubby plays his "Halloween Mix" on the ipod - you'd be surprised how many monster songs there are.  Fall also means cross country races and dinner at Grandma's house for Thanksgiving (well, before she moved to Arizona).

2. What is your favorite fall recipe?

Cream of Watercress soup.  My husband makes it for me every year while we're carving pumpkins and listening to monster music.  I don't know the recipe though - I'll have to see if I can get it out of him for a future post.

3. What is a favorite Fall photo (or photos) you've taken?

When T was five he planted a pumpkin seed in the backyard.  We didn't think anything would come of it, but he grew the most beautiful pumpkin!  I love the look on his face - he was so proud of himself.

I took this last year at a Cross Country meet - it was a classic Northwest fall day.

4. Football - Love it or hate it? (maybe it steals your hubby away)?

I love watching football - my hubby, not so much.  I'm usually the one snuggled up with the boys on the couch watching the game.

5. What was your favorite Halloween costume as a kid?

Hmm...is it terrible that nothing stands out?  I love my mom, but she wasn't very crafty. We usually went to Kmart and chose a cheap costume.  I do remember being Raggedy Ann one year.

6. Pumpkins or Ghosts or both?   Love pumpkins.  Ghosts are okay.

7. What's your favorite fall fashion item (boots? scarves? sweaters)?

Most definitely scarves.  I have a bit of a problem - I will not tell you how many scarves I own.

8. Is "leaf pile jumping" your thing or not?

I would love to jump in a pile of leaves.  They're hard to come by around here though - we mostly have evergreen trees which don't drop their needles.  That would be a bit painful.

9. Is "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" a must-watch at your house?

Yes, and that is never going to change.

10. What are you going to be for Halloween this year (or your kids)?

We're kind of past the costume stage.  We draw the line on trick or treating once they can shave :).  This was my favorite costume of theirs from many years ago.  Because, well, it's Dr. Seuss.

Happy Fall - rain and all!
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