Thursday, July 30, 2009

Asian Garden

I have mentioned before on my blog that E and I love the look, simplicity and design of Japanese gardens. When we were in Japan it really cemented it for us; we wanted to come home and design an Asian garden of our own.

Now this is a work in process. First, we only could afford so much this year. Also, lots of these tiny plants are going to be huge in years to come, so we didn't want to over plant. And finally, we only had enough man power to get to this stage this year. Next year we have other projects in mind, so that will be fun.

I mentioned in the backpacking post that the light looked so beautiful the other morning, I decided to grab my camera and take a few photos. I hope you enjoy.

1. Our path and moss. One day the moss will fill in. So pretty!
2. Our stone lantern is set up on a hill in the yard.
3. Our dry river winds around and ends near the bench under the trees.

Behind the stones do you notice the bamboo? It is small now, but growing!
Buddha finds enlightenment under our maple trees.
1. Day lilies are so nice in the garden. Even the green grassy leaves add a nice touch.
2. Our pots have exploded with color. E says they are his favorite potted plants yet, and I've been planting pots for six years.

I tease E and say our veggie garden is on steroids. In reality, we just have a really really sunny spot. What is my best tip for growing veggies? LOTS of sunshine.
This year we planted 3 Sweet 100s tomato plants. They are awesome. Each is huge, and I wouldn't be surprised if each plant produces 200 grape tomatoes. And just like the name states, they are so sweet!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Craft - etched glass bowls

My mom and I are still crafting, we aren't as busy as last winter, but we still get together on a semi regular basis to work on our next craft. One of the crafts that we just finished are our new etched glass bowls. We saw this idea is the new Martha Stewart Encyclopedia of Crafts book (which is a great book, if you love crafting). First, we purchased etching cream at our local craft store along with contact paper. Then we each purchased six plain glass bowls from Ikea. Lastly, we each thought of an idea and started making stencils from the contact paper. Once the stencils were laid on the bowls, we applied the etching cream (kind of like a think paint) and let sit for five minutes. Whalla! Etched glass bowls!

I decided to etch robots on my bowls because only days before we started this craft I found out I was having a baby boy. What baby boy doesn't want a set of robot bowls?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Little Alex loves big hikes

Remember little Alex (she is my travel Playmobil, seen here, here and here), well because she is so little, she is perfect to take along on backpacking trips. Alex is about two inches tall and is a snap to carry. Because of this, she got to see all the beauty we saw over the weekend.

The wildflowers were just as beautiful when you are tiny.
View from camp. So awesome.
In my last post I said "Little rivers and streams crisscrossed meadows full of moss and flowers. Tiny fairy sized waterfalls fell over rocks into perfect little pools below," well when you are two inches high, this is perfect. Here is one of the tiny waterfalls we saw.
The little mossy hills were so magical. Look at the size of the tiny fern growing next to Alex's hand. So perfect.
Loving every minute of being in the great outdoors.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Backpacking the Uintas

On Saturday morning our alarm went off at 7:15. The night before E and I had been up late doing more fireworks and having another fun BBQ for Pioneer Day, Utah's state holiday, with E's family.

7:15 felt so early, the bedroom was already hot and flooded with light. I could tell it was overcast and would be an extremely hot day. For the next hour or so we packed up a few last things, watered the plants and I even had time to do a garden photo shot. With the warm overcast day, our Asian garden looked so Asian; the light reminded me a lot of the light in Japan.

At 8:30 David arrived and we moved his gear into E's car. We piled in, and after a stop to get bagels for lunch and egg McMuffins for breakfast we were off! Ninety minutes later we pulled into a very wet and very gray parking lot. The sky was dark and rain splashed on our faces as we got out of the car. With an extremely dry and hot month, why today is the only day we get rain?

However, the air temperature was fantastic for hiking. We put on our rain coats and our backpacks (don't worry, mine wasn't too heavy, or too tight across my tummy) and headed towards our destination: Ruth Lake.

The trail was easy and beautiful. Wildflowers of every color were in bloom and with the rain everything looked deep dark green. Little rivers and streams crisscrossed meadows full of moss and flowers. Tiny fairy sized waterfalls fell over rocks into perfect little pools below. Soon the rain slowed and finally stopped.

Here are E and David. Behind them you can see Hayden Peak. Notice at this point E is still in his rain gear.
Me, with Hayden Peak and Ruth Lake in the background.
Once at Ruth Lake (only one mile from the trail head) we stopped and had lunch. All three of us decided to continue on into the back country and explore the basin a little more. The official trail ended at Ruth Lake, but the basin was huge with many lakes and ponds, all connected by delicate little rivers.

The hike towards Jewel Lake was just as dazzling. Jewel Lake was tucked low and set beside sheer rock walls. We contemplated stopping there, but decided to keep going towards Cutthroat Lake. The bush waking between Jewel and Cutthroat was our hardest hiking. We knew the direction we needed to go in, and we knew how far away the lake was, but the route we took was tough. Over rock fields and through an old avalanche path we finally made our way to Cutthroat.

The lake was amazing, surrounded on all sides by huge peaks and spectacular views. We hiked to the far side of the lake, up a slope and found a perfect spot for camp. The view was unreal. Truly. We settled into a huge marshy meadow which meant the ground we set our tent on was dry, but soft. Rocks spilled down to the lake shore, and these make an ideal spot for cooking and chatting. Only steps away was another gorgeous stream where wildflowers grew thick and moss sheltered spots for magic.

That night we relaxed, made a fantastic dinner of pasta with garden veggies, salami, and fresh grated parmesan. After diner E and I hiked around the lake and then later David joined us to hike around the enormous marshy meadow where our camp was. Pikas scurried in and out of the rocks and the wildflowers were more vivid and in more verities than I ever remember. It got dark as we watched the sun change Hayden Peak from brown to pink to red to gray we even saw a family of deer not far from our camp.

This is our view from our dinner spot. Spectacular!
Again. The clouds and light changed so quickly, I got a lot of photos like this.
Dinner is served!

Here is our little tent and Hayden Peak beyond. Stunning.
Sunset in the mountains.

That night was quiet and peaceful. Sleeping in the back country was as good as it ever is, which is to say not that good at all. However, E and I woke up refreshed and excited to see a blue sky.We filtered water, enjoyed the view (you could never get sick of this view) and took a small hike up to a nearby saddle while David slept on. Once back we made a great breakfast of oatmeal, bagels and cream cheese and tea.

All too soon we packed up camp, filtered water one last time and hiked out. The hike back towards Jewel Lake was much more pleasing due to the fact that we didn't take the route of death, instead we stayed low in the meadows and enjoyed more of the delicate streams, fantastic wildflower shows and flat hiking. From Jewel it was a fairly easy two miles out. In the last quarter mile the skies opened up, and the rain started again. By the time E and I had put our rain coats on, however, the rain had stopped once again.

Back at the car we enjoyed what all backpackers enjoy most - taking off their pack. We then decided to head to Park City on the way home so we could stop at Squaters Brew Pub and fill up on beer and burgers (or in my case, a soda).

Fantastic weekend.

This is looking at our camp from the other direction. Blue skies! Our camp was well above 10,000 feet, so it was really up there.
This is the meadow we camped beside. Isn't it spectacular?
E and I hiked up to a saddle that morning without our packs. If you click on this photo to see it bigger, you can see my tummy!
Our campsite right before we left. We're all packed up here, as you can see.
On the way out the sky was so dramatic. Love it.
And the wildflowers were happy to show off.
E and David beside one of the dozens of small streams we crossed.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Hot summer weekend

E and I decided to stay home this weekend after being out of town only the weekend before. We were excited for the heat to finally be here; I was itching to do a Provo river float, but E was more intent on a day at Raging Waters.

Friday night we went to Tipica with my Grandma to celebrate E's birthday. We just love celebrating with her, and couldn't wait to tell her more Grand Canyon details, since she was the one that made it all possible.

On Saturday we hung around for most of the day and then met our friends Logan and Brooke at Raging Waters for a night pass. It worked out well, for half the price we could enter the park at 4:00. By then most of the lines were gone, people were leaving and the heat of the day was still upon us. I called the doc before heading to the water park to get the all clear, and so for the rest of the afternoon we enjoyed slides, tubes and really refreshing water. Afterwards we all went to Rio Grand, one of our favorite SLC restaurants. We sat on the patio, ordered chips, cheesy Mexican food and enjoyed the summer night.

Yesterday E and I decided to take a mountain drive. We wanted to explore East Canyon, one of the canyons we are not as familiar with. The drive was hot and beautiful. On the way back home be stopped to see a moose cooling off in a nearby lake. I wished I could jump in alongside him, it was wicked hot!

Do you see a tiny black speck in the lake?
The sweet male moose was too hot for a July afternoon and decided to take a swim.
Last night my family got together to celebrate my mom's birthday. We all went over to her house where she and Chuck made a fantastic dinner. Everyone was so excited to see me because I'm looking more and more pregnant these days. My tummy seems bigger each day, and in the last week I've started to feel Baby November kick! He loves Mexican food (starts kicking even if we mention it!) and staying up late. Every night around 11:00 pm he is very active. Can't wait to meet the little guy.

My Grandma, me (with baby bump apparent!), Melissa and my cousin Taylor.
Here is the group in my mom's backyard. Everyone really enjoyed themselves.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

HP6 opens today!

I am beyond beyond beyond thrilled! Anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis knows how much I adore Harry Potter.

Can't wait. Let the snogging begin!

Had to include this photo of Hermione, it is mine and E's favorite movie poster. I love Hermione because she reminds me of me. No, not because she is wicked smart and talented, but because she is bossy and keeps the boys in line. E likes this poster because "Hermione is a hotty."

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Grand Canyon North Rim

Way way way back last December my Grandma gave E and I a trip for our Christmas present. We love this type of present, it always seems like an item is forgotten, but a trip never is. My Grandma thought and thought about where we should go. E and I were up for anything. She finally decided that we'd love the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Back in the late '40s my Grandpa spent two summers there being the gardener for the grounds. Later in his autobiography, my Grandpa described those two summers as some of his happiest times. Since E and I hadn't seen the North Rim, or where my Grandpa worked, my Grandma decided this would be an excellent choice.

She booked us a Western Cabin on the rim, where we would stay for our trip. The cabin was nice and spacious, had two beds, a full bathroom, a walk in closet, a gas fireplace and a little porch with two rocking chairs. As you can guess, E and I were thrilled with our gift.

We left on Friday morning and arrived at the North Rim around 4:00, not a bad travel day at all. Immediately we fell in love with the 1930s lodge, remember not that long ago E and I got married in the 1920s sister lodge in Yosemite National Park. We just love historic lodges. This lodge had no hotel rooms inside, all the rooms were located around the lodge either in cabins or two motel buildings. Because of this, the lodge was just there for enjoyment. It housed two fantastic patios that looked directly over the Grand Canyon, a stunning sun room that also peeked over the canyon's rim, a huge dining room and other public places.

E and I were entranced. We walked around loving every detail from the antique Native American rugs to the old Zenith radios (E's favorite, and the first time he'd seen so many in one place), to the most amazing view ever. We decided to sit down on lodge's patio and order drinks. Tonight was just the first night of our fantastic trip.

On Saturday morning we woke to cloudy skies. We loved it, although it cast a very flat light on the canyon, the sky was amazing. The temperature was perfect, not cold at all. We ate breakfast at a window seat in the dining room looking over the grandest canyon in the world. That day we decided we wanted to hike the first part of the North Kaibab Trail, the only trail leading to the bottom of the canyon from the North Rim. The trail was spectacular. As we hiked down the side canyon, Bright Angel, we saw mules on the trail, a shy deer and some dazzling views. That afternoon we hiked a couple of other small trails and enjoyed a turkey sandwich on the patio of the lodge. By late afternoon the sky turned even darker and we retreated to our little cabin looking over the canyon's rim (we were very lucky to get this location) and watched the rain.

Later that evening we decided to have cocktails and appetizers on our little porch. What better way to honor my Grandpa's memory than having cocktail hour in his favorite part of the world? That night we headed to the grand dining room once again and had a fantastic dinner.

On Sunday we woke up at 7 and I looked outside. The morning light was slanted and spilling over the canyon walls. I convinced E to put on his dirty clothes from the night before and take a hike with me while the light was so magical. The morning walk was magic, we were nearly the only ones out on Bright Angel Point and the slanted light and deep shadows were so dramatic. Once back at our cabin we did shower and lead a very fulfilling day. We drove out to Cape Royal and enjoyed the views from there, enjoyed our cabin's porch more than we ever thought possible, and read in front of the fire after a fantastic dinner in the lodge's dining room.

Monday we were sad to say goodbye. We looked around the lodge and enjoyed our cabin one last time before stopping in the visitor center and buying a National Park pin. The drive home was enjoyable, E and I are listening to Odd Thomas on audio book and loving it. We are, however, planning on taking Baby November to the North Rim one day, and telling him how much my Grandpa loved the place.

These photos are horribly out of order, but you'll get the idea.

This was the view twenty steps from our cabin's front door. Yes, awe inspiring.
Here is the patio of the Grand Canyon Lodge. Just look at that! As you can see by the puddles on the patio, this was right after the rain, yet people are still enjoying.
This is the side canyon Bright Angel. This was taken from the North Kaibab Trail.
And here we are! Check out those dark clouds in the distance. Made for really nice hiking weather.
Oh my word, I look huge. This is how I've been looking lately when I'm not sucking in (like in the photo above). Baby November loved his first trip, he was kicking and twisting the entire time.
Cocktail hour on our porch.
Some of the animals we saw.

One morning I woke up at 5:30 and just had to peek outside. The sun was just coming up. I snapped this photo of our cabin before hurrying back to bed.
Inside the fireplace was so nice!
The morning we walked to Bright Angel Point we were the only ones there. I'm still in my PJs.
Another shot. This is E's. Isn't it just lovely?
Another Grand Canyon view, again with the dark clouds.
This was the dining room, huge and stunning. It looked directly over the canyon. We got a window seat twice, and loved it.
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