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travel

help! i need a beach book to read

I’m escaping the city the last week of August and heading to sandier surroundings. The first stop is the 17 miles of free beaches on Rhode Island’s Block Island. I’ve bought my ferry ticket, printed out a list of must-see sites and researched the island’s best eats. The one thing I’m missing is a good read for the down-time in the sun (sitting under my umbrella of course!) Does anyone have a suggestion? — Erica P.

great find: plum produce


I was visiting family in Massachusetts recently and spent one afternoon walking around beautiful South Boston. The up-and-coming neighborhood boasts a slew of amazing restaurants, adorable boutique shops and quaint brownstone-lined blocks. Walking along Waltham Street we came upon Plum Produce. The large glass windows showcased colorful fruits and vegetables in a perfectly bright setting. The little shop is a haven of fresh, local produce and specialty items picked by shop owner and chef Barbara Lynch. Lynch opened Plum Produce to give the home-cook the same opportunity to consistently find the top-notch fruits & vegetables available to chefs. If you live in the Boston area I suggest you make your way to Plum Produce for the freshest seasonal fare. If you can’t make it to the store, let yourself be inspired by the beautiful images on the site, or try your hand at one of the featured recipes. — Erica P.

post off: how do you handle houseguests?

We’re new to the whole houseguest thing, but boy, are we making up for lost time. The past few months have seen five visits from friends and family (including one visit of SEVEN people at once). We did our best to be good hosts, but I confess that every trip included at least one day where one of us wanted to curl into the fetal position until everyone went home. This is what I’ve learned (the hard way):

1. Know your visitors. Don’t expect anyone to do something that you suspect they won’t be comfortable doing. Friend has a fear of driving in a strange city? Accept it and be prepared to chauffeur — or line up other people who will.
2. Hire a housecleaner. We didn’t, and the stress of doing a last-minute deep clean on top of making beds and putting out towels and blowing up air mattresses almost did us in.
3. Don’t buy too much food ahead of time. Once everyone has settled in a bit, make the first outing a trip to the grocery store. Everyone will have what they like to eat — and they’ll chip in for provisions, too.
4. Be realistic about your plans. I had visions of how I would WOW my visitors with the best of Seattle each day. And then I spent more time stressing over trying to fit it all in than enjoying being with the people who were also there to see me. Really, planning one outing per day is FINE.
5. But do plan. Ask people what kinds of things they want to do when in town — Outdoorsy? Touristy? Shopping? — and make a daily schedule ahead of time. You can always dump the schedule later, but it will save time and brain cells by not having the “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” conversation each day.

So those are my tips. What are yours? –Mary T.

a trip to the olympic peninsula, part two: eagles, sea lions and starfish


Have you ever had the chance to watch more than 40 bald eagles in their natural habitat less than 50 feet away? Neither had I, until we visited Neah Bay on the Olympic Peninsula.


We got up early to drive from Lake Crescent to Cape Flattery, the most northwest point of the U.S. This turned out to take three hours — the Peninsula isn’t huge, but because most of it is covered in national parks and forests, there isn’t an incredibly direct route. Cape Flattery, part of the Makah Nation, is home to water an astounding shade of blue and sea caves that echo the bellows of sea lions. After walking the trails along the tops of the rocks, we decided to find a walkable beach.



We ended up a few minutes away on Hobuck Beach. Though guidebooks tell us that Hobuck is popular with surfers, around 3 in the afternoon the beach was utterly deserted. It was low tide, so we spent a good hour wandering about exploring the tide pools. Never had we seen so many fat, colorful starfish, mint-green sea anemones, and enormous rocks literally jammed with mussels. Click to the link to see where we watched dozens of eagles have their evening meal! (more…)