Cowboy dinner in the Methow

  by rosebuttons
, a photo by rosebuttons on Flickr.

We spent the weekend relaxing and shedding the trappings of hospice/Renton/Boeing/St. Louis in the Methow Valley at Sun Mountain Lodge. I don’t have a lot to report because we didn’t do very much…that was the whole point. The first night there we went on a “Cowboy Dinner Ride;” a mellow 40-minute trail ride to a homestead site, were fed dinner, and listened to cowboy songs. Dinner was basic stuff: grilled BBQ chicken, steaks, cornbread, potato salad. At one point a little Ballard tot (I have no idea where he was from, I just call all annoyingly-precocious and entitled children Ballard kids) went up to the cook and asked, “Where are these steaks from? What kind are they?” and the cook just said, “Costco.” The tot wordlessly ran back to his Ballard parent,¬† crestfallen at the possibility of having ingested something not-entirely-grass fed. I think Matt enjoyed the experience (I think he was hoping for more cowboy riding and less dinner and songs), but I know I did…anything with horses and cowboys is all I need to relax.

I'm pretty sure he was a cowboy in a previous incarnation. He looks pretty at home up there.

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Whidbey Island dog park tour, day 2

Langley is a twee village on Whidbey Island, we strolled through the 2-block “downtown” but since it was after 5pm on Monday most of the shops were closed. Ardie enjoyed meeting the “dog” part of “Boy and Dog” park.

On Tuesday morning, after being unceremoniously awoken by Ted and his urgent need to evacuate his stomach contents, we packed up and checked out of the hotel. Our plan for the day was to visit Double Bluff Beach, the off-leash dog beach that I’ve been wanting to check out for a long time. It was easy to find, at the end of Double Bluff Road, of course.

The first 500 feet of the beach were not off-leash, but after that the beach continued to stretch for miles, with beautiful views of the San Juan islands to the west and a sandy bluff rising on the east. It was doggy beach heaven. Ted and Tessa trotted happily along, and young Ardie scampered ahead, in and out of the surf, getting sand in his whiskers. He was such a good boy and returned to us when I called him to give him a treat, and then he was off again on his adventures.

Needless to say, we had some very exhausted weenies after our beach trek. This beach alone was worth the trip to Whidbey, I would definitely come here again even for an afternoon. There were picnic tables, bathrooms, and water spouts for rinsing your feet (or sandy weenie bellies.) Three paws up for Double Bluff Beach!

Whidbey Island dog park tour, day 1

For S’s birthday, the weenies and I whisked her off to Whidbey Island for a couple of days. I have never been to the southern part of the island, and for years I’ve heard rumors of an amazing off-leash dog beach up there. Plus, Whidbey Island is home to five off-leash dog parks, all managed by Fetch. What better way to spend a couple of days off than with three dogs and five dog parks to explore? We left on Monday, and it took us about two hours to get to our little hotel in Freeland via ferry. The dogs slept through the ferry ride and were rather unimpressed. We stayed at the Harbour Inn Motel in Freeland. It was modest but our room was large, very clean, and pet-friendly. The website states they have a two-dog limit but when I booked the room and explained I had three small dogs there was no problem at all. We checked in, the dogs summarily investigated every nook and cranny of the room, and shortly thereafter the rain cleared.

First on our agenda: Marguerite Brons Dog Park. We loved this park! It was a large fenced area, mostly covered in grass, a huge plus for little weenie paws that aren’t so agile over big rocks or gravel. There was a solar panel that powered the lights and the well for drinking water. Leading away from the play area are fenced, 0ff-leash wooded trails. The trails were quiet and well-groomed. I love parks with dog-friendly trails, since two of my three weenies are not, ahem, very self-motivated when it comes to exercise. So while little Ardie will play and tire himself out, it’s nice to take a little walk to get all of them moving.

There was much romping.

We give this park 3 paws up! My only minor complaint was that the watering area wasn’t accessible for little dogs, you’d have to bring your own bowl to fill up for them. Although Ardie say, “Little dogs? Who’s a little dog?”

Next: Langley, Double Bluff Beach park, Coupeville.

Have wieners, will travel

DSC_4737 by rosebuttons
DSC_4737, a photo by rosebuttons on Flickr.

The venerable Tessa, aged 15, has earned her right to travel in comfort. She deserves nothing but first-class. She is particularly pleased that I seem to have finally found the perfect carrying bag…she loves it. And it’s light and fairly easy to tote around even full of 14 pounds of wiener. It’s called the “Bitty Bag” by Petego, if your dog is jealous of how comfortable and relentlessly stylish Tessa looks, you can get your own here. As you can see, Tessa is a fan of the water…from afar. This photo is from our recent wiener-led exploration of Whidbey Island. More to follow…

Random updates

A few weeks ago, I was pondering some random things. So I’m back to give some updates and opinions on those random things.

[file under personal hygiene] The crunchy side of me became interested in eliminating unnecessary chemicals from my beauty regimen, namely with the Oil Cleansing Method (OCM) and by “washing” my hair with a baking soda and apple cider vinegar. At first glance, both of these intrigued me: natural AND frugal! I tried both for a couple of weeks.

OCM Verdict: I mixed 2 parts olive oil to 1 part castor oil, and added a couple of drops of tea tree oil. I used it about every night for a couple of weeks. I did love the way my skin felt after I washed it, but didn’t see an overall improvement in my complexion (maybe even had more breakouts?). I might continue with it once a week or so, and I’m still trying to find a face soap that I really like anyway.

BS & ACV Verdict: Nope. I had to experiment with this one a bit. First, I mixed 1 tbs baking soda with 8 oz water, then squeezed the mixture over my wet hair in the shower, tried to massage it in to my scalp, and rinsed. Then I squirted the ACV mixture (1 tbs to 8 oz water) on my ends as a “conditioner.” My hair did not seem very clean afterwards, it wasn’t shiny or easy to comb through and not nice to run my fingers through it. So, next I tried applying the BS mixture to my hair dry. Lather, rinse repeat. Same unimpressive findings. Next, I tried mixing a paste of BS and water, about equal parts, and massaged it into my scalp. Hair seemed a bit cleaner afterwards but nothing like with regular shampoo, and I definitely could not have gone more than two days without washing it again. I wonder if this method failed because I have such long, thick hair, and it was almost impossible to really get to my scalp and scrub it. But I did a bit more googling and found others have been disenchanted with this method as well. So, I’m back to my organic natural shampoo and conditioner, which I can get away with using every third or fourth day if I rinse my hair well daily.

And now for some subdued excitement

Relaxing by rosebuttons
Relaxing, a photo by rosebuttons on Flickr.

Here’s a brief postcard from the City of Subdued Excitement: Bellingham, Washington. We escaped Seattle for the weekend with just one wiener, little Ardie. There’s just something about Bellingham that cures my misanthropy. We’ll be relaxing at the Chrysalis, seeing a film at the Pickford, and overeating at the Bayou. But now I am off to indulge in one of my favorite pleasures: afternoon hotel naps.

OAMC results

So last weekend I cooked, all weekend long, as part of my first experiment in OAMC (Once a Month Cooking. The interwebs have an acronym for everything). I followed the meal plan from Once a Month Mom, the Whole Foods menu. I eliminated a couple of dishes from the menu for time and cost. I liked that the menu, recipes, and shopping list are provided on Excel spreadsheets. You can just plug in the number of people you are cooking for and it does the math for you. I tried to download the files and open them in Excel, but the formatting was wonky. Turns out (at least on a Mac) you need to keep the files in Google docs and just save a copy to your files. I did my grocery shopping the night before, spending just under $300. A bit of sticker shock, but I tried reminding myself that I usually spend about $150/week on groceries and in the long run this plan is supposed to reduce overall grocery costs. Friday night I chopped all the veggies, then Saturday I cooked. And cooked. And cooked. I started around 10am and finished up around 5pm. I filled the freezer with 5 main dishes, two sides, and a dozen muffins. I also made about a dozen crepes but didn’t freeze those as it was obvious they wouldn’t last long in the fridge at the rate we were eating them. I like the idea of making breakfast foods in a batch but next time would probably stick with pancakes or waffles; the crepes were kind of a pain to flip. So far we’ve eaten the BBQ Buffalo chicken and the polenta gratin, both were delicious. As long as I can remember to take the dishes out of the freezer the night before, I think this is going to be pretty convenient and stress-reducing.