Voluntourism at Woodinville Lavender

 

Last week, I started a new annual summer tradition – volunteering with the lavender harvest at Woodinville Lavender in beautiful Woodinville, WA.   

July is the peak for the lavender bloom, which means it’s happening right now! It’s a breathtaking experience. One for the bucket list for anyone who lives in the Seattle area.

The farm and gift store is open year-round, but it’s at its most brilliant in the summer months. The manicured rows of vibrant lavender offer a sensual aromatherapy experience.

For the casual visitor
Bite into a lavender ice cream bar (yes, I said lavender ice cream) and wander the fields: The farm grows many different varieties of lavender – each one is a little different from the other. For lavender fanatics, it’s a treat to compare the rows and pick out your favorite.

U-Pick: The farm offers visitors the opportunity to cut a fresh bouquet, or take home a dried wreath from the gift shop. Get lost exploring all of the lavender products in the store.  From teas and culinary lavender tins to lotions and floral water,  Woodinville Lavender has all kinds of imaginative uses for lavender.

Patio: Relax with a lavender lemonade on the patio and open your senses to the purple hues and distinctive fragrance radiating off the field.

The lavender addict that I am, I wanted a more hands-on experience at the farm. I’m obsessed with lavender and learning everything there is to know about bringing more of it into my life. To that end,  the farm generously offers harvesting and bundling classes,  demonstrations,  and special events all year round. Be sure to like the farm on Facebook for time and date updates.

Harvest Volunteering
Lavender Bundling: Farm owner Tom Frei was our gracious host and teacher. Tom, wisely, handled the cutting with a sickle, and we volunteers bundled the bunches with rubber bands to get them ready for drying. I couldn’t believe how pungent the fields were. My hands have never smelled so good after handling all the flowers. I wish I permanently smelled like lavender! There were only 5 of us working in the field, but we were definitely not alone. The garden was absolutely buzzing with honey bees! I have a deep-rooted terror of bees, but between the calming scent of lavender and Tom’s reassurance that the bees had no interest in harming us, my fear quickly dissipated. He was right, they left us alone to go about our harvesting adventure. Not one sting!

Drying the lavender: With hundreds of bundles piled up, it was time to hang them out to dry. I learned a super easy technique for bundling and drying the lavender you might have growing at home:
1. Cut a generous handful of lavender stems.
2. Tie the bottom stems secure using a rubber band.
3. Open up a paper clip so there’s a hook on each end. Thread one hook through the rubber band. Use the other hook to hang on some netting or a nail in a cool, dry place!

Volunteering was such a rewarding experience. I went into it to get tips about how to cut and dry my own lavender, but I got so much more out of it. It was truly part-tourism, part-volunteering, all love for lavender.

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5 Reasons You Should Be Planting Lavender

5 Reasons to grow lavender
The more I learn about lavender, the more I love this fragrant and vibrant plant/herb. Last summer, I experimented with culinary lavender to create all kinds of recipes, from lavender lemonade to blueberry lavender bundt cake. This year, I decided to try growing my own lavender. Here’s why:

With the help of Woodinville Lavender and Pelindaba Lavender, I’ve learned just how incredible and versatile this plant really is. I consider it to be a “super plant.” We all know it smells fantastic, and it’s widely known for its calming, soothing properties, but lavender actually has so many more uses. Did you know you can cook with it, use it as a healing antiseptic, use it as an all natural insect repellent, and clean with it? Why are we using chemicals again?

Considering all that, I wanted my own little purple patch of heaven to gaze upon in my garden. When I started researching “how to grow lavender,” my appreciation grew ten fold, as you’ll soon see. I hope this inspires you to join me in fostering the resurgence of lavender. So, here are 5 reasons why you should be planting lavender in your garden this spring.

My first lavender plant
My first lavender plant

1. Tough – Generally speaking, lavender is an incredibly hardy plant. It loves lots of sunshine and dry soil, so you don’t have to worry about under-watering the plant once it’s established. In fact, water is lavender’s Achilles Heel. (That could be trouble for me here in Seattle.) Lavender is drought resistant, too much moisture can kill the plants, so be sure to grow them in a well-drained plot of soil. Without good drainage,  the roots will rot.

2. Bug Buster – Lavender is a natural insect repellent. Bugs hate the stuff. Fine with me, I hate bugs right back. Another bonus: you don’t have to spray chemicals on your skin to keep pests away.

3. Fragrant – Lavender is not just pleasing to the eye, it’s incredibly aromatic, which it’s why the buds are harnessed for all kinds of essential oils and fragrances.

4. Varieties – There are about 40 known species of lavender! Whether you’re looking for a flowery, bold pop of color,  a plant to produce a culinary herb, or a more subtle landscaping plant, there’s a lavender species out there for you!  Here’s a breakdown of the most popular varieties and the differences.

5. Dried Buds: The Gift That Keeps Giving – Lavender is a crafter’s dream. Dried lavender looks stunning in a vase. Shake off the buds to create a lovely sachet for your drawers. Put the buds in a small bowl next to your bed, add a few drops of essential oil and drift off to dreamland. I’ve even heard of people throwing buds at the bride and groom at a wedding.  Click here for more inspiration.

I can’t wait to share my lavender-ing adventure with you this summer. To keep in touch and see more pictures, be sure to follow along on my Instagram and Facebook pages.

We Bought a House! And The Truths I Learned

Buying a house in Seattle
We did it! Crack the bubbly. My husband and I took the giant/scary/exciting/emotional leap of faith known as real estate. We bought our very first house! (see pictures at the end of this post!) It only took me 33 years to commit to such a massive milestone, but then – I’ve always been on my own life schedule.

As a homegrown Michigan girl, I never ever – not in a million years – thought I would ever buy my first house in Seattle, that is until we moved here for work four years ago and fell in love with the Pacific Northwest. It wasn’t until six months ago that my husband convinced me to ditch apartment life for the joys of homeownership. He gave me the nudge I needed despite a long list of hesitations: the gigantic expense, the enormous responsibility, the yard work, the upkeep, the commute, potential crime…

I eventually came to the realization that I had to get over my intense fears and embrace the positives that come along with getting on The American Dream Express: more space, owning something, painting walls, drilling holes, more space, the investment, and the all-important MORE SPACE!

I know the process moves at vastly different paces for each buyer, but for us it was a total whirlwind. From the first open house to turning the key, it all happened in a span of about two months! In that short amount of time I got a crash course in what goes into this crazy/wonderful experience called buying a house. Some things I expected, some I didn’t. Here are a few of my nuggets of knowledge.
Buying a house
Seattle Real Estate is Expensive: There’s no beating around the bush or getting around it. Sticker shock? You bet! It took me a good long while to accept the fact that if we wanted a move-in ready, semi-spacious, middle-class house anywhere close to downtown, we were going to have to pay for it. For sanity’s sake, I have stopped comparing the price of my house to home prices in Michigan and Florida. LaLaLaLa, I can’t hear you.

20% Down is HOW MUCH?! : Goodbye life savings. We had a good run, but now you have to move out of my bank account and into something called equity (which I still don’t fully understand). Watching all that money, our blood and sweat money, drain out of our account was a day I’ll never forget. But now I have something totally kick ass to show for it!

A good realtor is a treasure: My first experience working with a realtor was a fabulous one. My husband and I are both major procrastinators and she kept us both on track the entire way. Worth every penny.

It’s WAY easier to put stuff away than to box it all up: Packing is the worst. I think you’ll all agree with me on that. For me, putting stuff away is the fun part. Finding new homes for all your knick knacks. That feeling of “newness.” It’s the opposite of going on vacation when you’re SO excited to pack but dread the unpacking part.

YOU HAVE MORE SH** THAN YOU THINK YOU DO!!!!: Honestly, where does it all come from?! I always think it’s going to be easy peasy to pack everything, but then I forget about all the stuff hiding in the crevices that I’ve been ignoring or too lazy to get rid of. It all has to come out and stare you in the face when you move. That’s the most frightening thing ever. However, it’s good motivation to (FINALLY) purge all that old, useless stuff you’ve been hoarding!

Packing Gives You Dry Hands Damn those cardboard boxes! They dry your hands out faster than the Sahara. Plus, I have cuts all over my hands from the cardboard and the packing tape cutter. Ouch!

There is no office/repairman/handyman: Sometimes I have panic attacks thinking about what we’ll do when something breaks or goes wrong. I totally trust my husband and I know he’ll handle it like a pro, but I will miss the days when I can just call the apartment office and say “come fix this” and they have to do it – without charging me. That was a wonderful luxury.

Solicitors are ready to pounce: – I don’t know how, I don’t want to know how, but within 3 days of us moving in we had dueling home security guys come to our house and solicit business. One of them trash talking the other. One of them literally came to the door as I was typing this post! This is going to test my patience. BTW: Girl scouts, you may come knock on my door any day, every day. Bring on the cookies!

Space is a wonderful thing: At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. Our own slice of land. Our own piece of the pie. You can decorate however you want to.. and then change it… and then change it again. We have many projects to tackle. But that’s a good thing! I hope to keep you updated on the “Before and Afters” along the way. Cheers!

As promised, here are a few pics of the new digs!

IMG_5550 IMG_5552 IMG_5553 IMG_5570 IMG_4573 IMG_5564

Most Popular Posts of 2014

2014.jpg
It’s a good thing my New Year’s resolution wasn’t “stop procrastinating” because I’m a little behind on sharing all of my most popular posts of 2014. To my surprise, some of my older posts are still getting “LA during rush hour-style” bumper-to-bumper traffic. Thanks for showing those oldies but goodies so much love! Here’s a look back at the posts you couldn’t get enough of in the last 12 months!

5. Homemade Tortilla Chips
tortilla strips

4. Lavender Chocolate Chip Cookies
lavender cookies

3. The Cronut Hits Seattle
cronut

2. Crock Pot German Potato Salad
german potato salad

1. Chicken Tamale Casserole
Chicken Tamale Casserole

Beating the Post-Holiday Blues

Beating Holiday Blues

Anyone else going through sparkle withdrawals? I’m talking about that empty feeling in your stomach now that the Christmas trees have been taken down, the decorations put away, and the holiday cheer fading. The glitter is gone.

The blues bite me around this time every year, and every year I have to find ways to keep that New Year’s sparkle alive. Instead of making resolutions, here are a few things I’m going to do to help make each day, week, and month of 2015 as special and sparkly as possible.

Treat Yourself At Least Once A Week: This could be as simple as splurging on a Starbucks coffee if you normally do homemade drip, getting a manicure, taking yourself to a movie on the weekend, or even carving out a few minutes to visit a scenic/peaceful place in your city on a day off/before or after work. A place where you can snap a Facebook/Instagram picture of something interesting or sit and contemplate all the things you’re grateful for. It will satisfy that instant gratification we all crave.

Plan A Vacation: Now that we’ve got the instant gratification out of the way, let’s focus on something we can look forward to a little further down the road. Even if you can’t take a big trip this year, put in for your vacation time at work. Having that week off set in stone gives you a light at the end of the tunnel. If you are able to take a trip, research the city or country you’ll be visiting and jot down some of the things you’d like to see and do.

Try Something New: Have you been meaning to take up a hobby? Now’s the time to commit before that “new year, new beginning” spirit wears off. Find a cooking/knitting/dancing/glass blowing/painting class and sign up. Now! I want to explore my state a little more. Hopefully, that will entail going on some (easy) weekend hikes on scenic trails.

Tackle A Project: My husband and I are closing on our first house (fingers crossed) in 2 weeks! AH! I’m fortunate that this life-changing event has given me something exciting to look forward to in early 2015. I’m enjoying trolling Pinterest (check out my For The Home Board) and planning all kinds of fun decoration projects. On a smaller scale, you could start the new year by freshening up your home with a new hall decoration, a new painting, or a new organizational project.

Start A Gratitude Diary: This is so easy and so rewarding! Just jot down one good thing that happened to you today. Did someone hold the door open when they could have kept going? Did a co-worker bring in treats? Did you get a discount when you didn’t expect it? Maybe it was a gorgeous sunset? Perhaps you got a complement on your outfit? So often we overlook the little things that add joy to our daily lives and we get down if there are no grand gestures. I kept a gratitude journal years ago in college and it made me come to appreciate all the good things that happen every day.

Do A Random Act Of Kindness: That brings us to “paying it forward.” Be the person that other people will add to their gratitude journals. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. Bring cookies (homemade or store bought) to work. Pay for a stranger’s coffee. Volunteer with your favorite charity. The warmth will stay in your belly for the rest of the day. For example, I never realized how rewarding and uplifting it could be to volunteer with the Seattle Animal Shelter. Animals are my passion, and each week after walking the shelter dogs I feel like I’ve done something to make their lives a little better.

Write A Surprise Letter or Thank You Note: This suggestion is a little self-serving. I recently found a box of customized Thank You stationary that I’d forgotten about. Now I’m itching to put them to use. Still, surprising your friends or family with a handwritten note is a wonderful way to keep in touch and let loved ones know you’re thinking of them no matter how far away they are.

Have a happy, and sparkly, 2015!

My Favorite Cookbooks

My Favorite Cookbooks
 I could probably fill half a bookshelf with all the cookbooks I’ve accumulated over the years. Crockpot recipes. Cocktail recipes. 4 ingredient recipes. I’ll admit that most of my recipe books have gotten awfully dusty lately. With the explosion of Pinterest, food blogs, food apps, and social media, I no longer have to flip through the pages of a book to discover tantalizing meal ideas, but no matter how “techy” recipe hunting becomes, there will always be three recipe books that I use until the pages turn yellow and crumble.

1. Skinnytaste
Skinnytaste
I just discovered this fantastic new cookbook by Gina Homolka, author, photographer and recipe developer of Skinnytaste.com. Gina takes your favorite full calorie dishes and skinnies them down without sacrificing any of the flavor. Love! My mom sent me this cookbook for my birthday in September and right away I flagged five or six recipes that I couldn’t wait to try out.

Itallian Gnocchi Soup

I’ve already made Gina’s Italian Gnocchi Soup and the Orecchiette with Sausage, Kale and Bell Pepper. Both recipes were perfection. They were restaurant worthy dishes that are light on calories, big on flavor, of course!

Sausage, Kale and Pepper
What I love most about this cookbook are the clear instructions, the tempting pictures and the uncomplicated ingredient lists. Each recipe is presented with nutritional facts about the dish and nutritional side notes courtesy of registered dietitian Heather K Jones, RD.

2. My Father’s Daughter: Delicious, Easy Recipes Celebrating Family & Togetherness
My Father's Daughter
Gwyneth Paltrow has become a global icon of style and good taste. This is her debut cookbook. Gwyneth shares her favorite family-friendly recipes, her recipe inspirations and personal stories about how she cooks for her own family. I’ve cracked this cookbook open so many times that the pages automatically flip open to certain recipes (Read: Spaghetti Limone Parmeggiano). I’ve made other recipes so often that I don’t even have to look at the book anymore (Read: Butternut Squash Soup).

Spaghetti Limone

Some of my other favorite dishes are the Turkey Bolognese,  Broiled Salmon with Homemade Teriyaki Sauce, and Bruce’s World-Famous Pancakes.

I love that this book has a section dedicated to pasta (mmmm) – one of my favorite comfort foods. It has a good mix of classic weeknight dishes for families as well as recipes for special occasions. I also love all the personal stories that accompany the recipes and the adorable pictures of Gwyneth with her family.

3. IT’S ALL GOOD: Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great
It's All Good
It’s Gwyneth: The Sumptuous Sequel. While her first cookbook contained an array of classic comfort food, her second collection of recipes focuses on the other side of the culinary coin: clean eating. The book is billed as recipes that will make you look good and feel great. It’s a collection of dishes that adhere to an elimination diet which is meant to clear and heal the body. That means no sugar, shellfish, gluten or soy.

tomatillo salsa

Many of these dishes have become regulars in my house – the Avocado Toast, Salmon with Sriracha and Lime, and Tomatillo Salsa. Others I’m dying to try, include the Chicken and White Bean Chili and the Many Mushroom Soup.

Sriracha Lime Salmon

I love that this book has and entire Smoothie section. It also has a rundown of suggested weekly recipes for A Detox Week, A Vegan Week, and A Family-Friendly Week. There are also suggestions for a few “clean” staples to keep in your pantry like maple syrup, almond milk and vegenaise. Unless you are super committed to the cause, it’s not an every day cookbook, but it’s a wonderful place to find dishes for our “cleanse” days. I know I need them every now and then.

Vera Seattle

Vera SeattleSome days I want to hire my own personal glam-squad who will come to my door and help me with the grunt work of facing life. Day after day, the pattern is the same: blow dry my hair (its such a tedious and mind-numbing process -sometimes there’s a round brush involved, most days there isn’t), finish the job with a wet/dry straightening iron, spray, tease, spray, launch my makeup routine (which I have down to a science) and pray that the look is not going to draw any stares of horror at work or in public.

I’m sure busy moms have it much worse. Finding time to properly blow dry your hair is a luxury most women can’t make time for – and forget going to a salon with one or more fussy kids in tow. Whether you’re like me and you just need a break from the monotony, or you simply can’t find the time to get a blowout at the salon, there’s a solution coming for women in Seattle: Vera. The hair and makeup artists come to you! In your home! You can get glam in your PJ’s with a cup of coffee in hand if you like. I got a chance to try out the up and coming at-home makeup and blowout styling service as it works toward launching in Seattle.

Vera Hair Stylist
Vera Hair
VISION

The brains behind Vera wondered, if you can use an app to summon an Uber car or food to your doorstep, why not a hair and makeup stylist? Eventually, Vera plans to launch such an app, which will serve as the ultimate matchmaking service for stylists and clients. Think Instagram for hair and beauty. Women will be able to look at reviews, portfolios, and prices before choosing a stylist and booking appointments. The company is still in the early stages, but it’s looking for clients and stylists to sign up for the “VIP Beta Experience” on the website.

I met with one of the company’s founders Priya Dandawate and stylist Ain Mulikdwa last week for a little style sesh. For the hair, I just wanted a smooth bob with a little volume. They asked if they could do some makeup too for a video shoot. The end look was a pretty cool and dramatic mod look.

Vera’s four core principles are Etiquette, Quality, Attentiveness and Style.

Etiquette:
My stylist was punctual, personable, friendly and came well-prepared. She had all the tools to get down to the business of transforming my look.

Quality:
My stylist was confident in her ability and skills. She explained every step of her process and asked a lot of questions about how I normally do my hair and what works for me/what doesn’t work. I can be very shy about getting my hair done in public. I don’t like a lot of people staring at me, especially if my hair doesn’t turn out the way I’d hoped, so having the stylist come to my home was not only convenient, it was a more relaxing experience.

Attentiveness:
My stylist listened well to me. The crown of my head was great, but the bottoms were a smidgen too bouncy for my taste – nothing that a few swipes of a straightener couldn’t work out. I gave no instructions for the makeup so they could make the statement they were going for.

Style:
I would have liked a little more modern and a little less mod for the complete look, but overall it was a really fun experience. I gave a lot of free range for my session so the artist could play and experiment. I would love to work with her again.

Glamour in my PJ’s? Yeah, I’m all in! The full-fledged Vera app is still a few months away. The company expects to continue the testing phase for about three to six months.

TOPCOAT: Nightmare Nails Pop-up Party

Nightmare Nails
Picture courtesy, Trichome

Do you have your costume picked out yet? Sexy witch? Sexy Nurse? Sexy Ref? That’s right, Halloween is just two weeks away! Whether you plan to get dressed up or not, you can nail the perfect Halloween look with Nightmare Nails.

Trichome Seattle is hosting TOPCOAT: Nightmare Nails, a pop-up nail art party this Friday, October 17 from 6pm-10pm at their shop in the International District. Halloween is the perfect time to have a little fun with your manicure. Local nail artists will spookify your fingers just in time for all of the season’s best costume parties. If you already have a costume, the artists will give you a look to match – or get inspired by your new manicure!

Trichome Nightmare Nails
Picture courtesy: Trichome

Show off your new style while clutching champagne ice-pop mimosas from Six Strawberries, Seattle’s first artisan dairy-free ice-pop company. DJ’s will also be spinning the music all night long.

Nail Art: $15-25

I can’t wait to see all the creepy, creative designs!

Trichome Seattle
TOPCOAT: Nightmare Nails
618 S Jackson St (between 6th & Maynard).
206.905.9884
Event Hashtag: #topcoatMJ

10 Things To See On Washington’s Northern Olympic Peninsula

10 Things to see on Washington's Olympic PeninsulaMy travel bucket list is getting longer and longer and I’m falling woefully behind, woefully. Last week, I was able to play catch-up and put some overdue check marks on my “Must Do While Living in Washington” list. My husband and I took a five day vacation to Lake Crescent on the Olympic Peninsula, and we were lucky enough to see some incredible sights. In one day alone, we visited an ocean, a rainforest, and a mountain range. Washington, you are spectacular! (And to think — just five years ago, I knew next to nothing about this state and had no desire to ever set foot here.)

My trip inspired me to construct a list of 10 Things To See on Washington’s Northern Olympic Peninsula. Many of them I saw first hand. The others will have to wait until my next venture across Puget Sound. Let’s hope it doesn’t take another four years to get back there!

My list in no particular order:

1. Lake Crescent – The view from the shore of Lake Crescent is Stunning (with a capital “S”). The mountain ridges are laced across the blue-green water, and the scenery is equally as beautiful on clear days as on foggy days. Win-Win.
You can easily take in the view with a drive along Highway 101 on the way to Forks and the coast. If you prefer to live and breathe the beauty for a few days, there are several lodges and resorts on the lake where you can stay and play.
Lake Crescent View

2. Hurricane Ridge -Just a 17 mile drive from Port Angeles, Hurricane Ridge offers breathtaking views of the Olympic Mountains. We spotted several blacktail deer along the steep and winding road to the visitor center, so take it slow! Once we got to the visitor center the deer were EVERYWHERE, and they were not phased by us humans! I got close enough to take some amazing photos.

The Visitor Center has a mountain lookout, a cafeteria, and picnic areas. There are also hiking paths to the wildflower meadows and other lookouts. Entry to Hurricane Ridge requires a National Parks Pass. You may want to budget a half day to explore and have lunch.

Hurricane Ridge3. Hoh Rainforest – The Hoh Rainforest sits on the west side of the Olympic Mountains, about two hours from Port Angeles. It is, in a word, enchanting. I grew up around forests and trees and have never seen anything as lush as the Hoh. Moss blankets the forest and hangs off the trees like something out of a fairy tale.

Whether you want to explore for an hour or days, the visitor center is a good starting point for several trailheads. I recommend the Hall of Mosses Trail. It’s mostly flat and just .8 miles. Keep your smartphone cameras on panorama – you’ll want some wide views of the forest!
Hoh Rainforest4. Forks – If you’re not a Twi-hard, chances are you know someone who is totally crushing on Edward and Bella. It’s worth a stop in Forks to take a picture of the Twilight sign – even if it’s just to rack up a few “likes” and funny comments on Facebook. If vampires and werewolves are your jam, consider taking a Twilight Tour. And if you’re just passing through on the way to the coast or the Hoh, make a game out of counting how many “Twilight” references you can spot along the road!

Forks Twilight

5. La Push, The Washington Coast –  This is the Pacific Ocean in all her majesty. The rock formations off the coast are unreal, unmatched and unbelievable. I immediately wanted to go in search of One-Eyed Willy’s treasure. Ok, that was in Astoria, not La Push, but the atmosphere is pretty darn close. Take your camera, point it anywhere and you’re guaranteed a five-star picture. 
La Push, Washington Coast

6. Marymere Falls – This 90 foot waterfall is an easy .8 mile hike from the Storm King Visitor Center along Lake Crescent. It’s a popular stop for visitors to Olympic National Park and it’s open year-round.

7. Sol Duc Hot Springs – Ever want to soak in a hot springs? The Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort offers three mineral pools that guarantee utter relaxation. Temperatures range from 99F to 104F. The pools are complementary for resort guests. Non-guests can enjoy the pools for a fee. A truly unique way to soak up the PNW.

8. Sequim Lavender Farms – Here’s a colorful way to enjoy the Olympic Peninsula. Fields of lavender are ready to welcome you in Sequim. Take a tour of one of the lavender farms around town, or celebrate this fragrant flower in all its glory at the Sequim Lavender Festival each July.

9. Port AngelesPort Angeles is a popular gateway to Olympic National Park and all the recreation the Olympic Peninsula has to offer. Victoria, BC is just a ferry ride away from this lovely port town. Be sure to check out the harbor along the Strait of Juan de Fuca and you’ll see why Livability.com ranked it number five on the list of Top 10 Small Towns.

10. Port Gamble – Driving through Port Gamble, my husband and I looked at each other and said, “is this place real or are we in a movie set?” Technically, this town is on the Kitsap Peninsula, but I had to include it in my list of places to see. A trip through town is like a trip back in time. Idyllic New England style houses fill the tree-lined streets. Port Gamble was the longest continuously operating mill town in North America, and it’s now the only remaining company-owned mill town in Puget Sound. It’s billed as a dreamy setting for visiting unique shops, exploring trails, and even exchanging vows.

Lake Crescent, WA: Log Cabin Resort

Log Cabin LodgeNestled on the edge of wilderness and reality sits an escape from work, computers, news, traffic, knots in my stomach… the list goes on. I just got back from my first proper vacation with my husband in four, count ’em, FOUR years! Life – that sneaky, selfish thief – has a way of robbing us of quality time with our loved ones. This time, we got the upper hand on that old miser Life with the help of a stunning and serene “home away from home” at the Log Cabin Resort perched along Lake Crescent on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula.

Our campsite along the lake
Our campsite along the lake

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I gazed at the view from our campsite at the resort. Look at that! Clear, blue-green water. Mountains. The city? Where is that again? Lake Crescent is essentially a deep valley between a ridge of mountains that filled up with water. The lake sits within Olympic National Park, so there are tons of places to explore in the area while you’re here.

Of course, if you feel more like being an away-from-homebody, there’s really no need to leave at all. Here’s what the Log Cabin Resort has to offer:

Log Cabin Lodge General Store
General Store

1. Accommodations to fit any lifestyle. If your style of camping is setting up a tent or an RV, there are designated lots with picnic tables and fire pits on-site. Prefer to travel a bit lighter? The resort offers a variety of cabin-style accommodations including Lakeside Chalets with beds/bathroom/mini-kitchen, Lodge Rooms, Camper Cabins, and Rustic Cabins. Pro Tip: Book early! We booked about a month out and got the very last tent spots. All of the cabins were gone!

2. General Store. Aside from the typical souvenirs, essentials and “oops, I forgot the s’mores stuff” odds and ends, you can also stock up on quality mix-and-match craft beer at the general store in the main lodge. I spotted Hales, Pyramid, Fremont and many others. After working up a sweat setting up your site, cool down with soft serve ice cream sundays (with honey lavender topping!) from the counter. And in true PNW fashion, you can get a latte or cappuccino made to order any time of day. OK, so we’re not exactly “roughing” it here, but I’m a city gal and I have needs, darn it!

Log Cabin Lodge Restaurant
Lounge/Restaurant Area

3. Restaurant and Lounge. The lodge restaurant offers a full and generous buffet-style breakfast in the morning, as well as lunch and dinner off the menu. The breakfast turned out to be a godsend when we got drenched twice and didn’t want to eat at our site in the rain. Breakfast costs about $12 and we thought it was worth the price. Lunch and dinners were more expensive, so we stuck to hot dogs and hamburgers from the grill. Next to the restaurant is the lounge area with WI-FI! Sweet, sweet 4G. There are also a stack of board games for those rainy days. You’re looking at a 2-time Scrabble champ right here!

4. Water Activities. Take full advantage of the lake on those sunny days. The resort rents paddle boats, paddle boards, kayaks and canoes by the hour. It was $20 for an hour, $30 for two hours, and a little more for full day rentals.

5. Common Bathrooms. The bathroom facilities are nothing special. About what you’d find at a typical campground. There’s a coin operated shower. 25 cents for a few minutes. I had warm water for my shower. There was one sink in the ladies room and an electrical outlet – however I was “strongly urged” to leave my hair straightener home…

6. The Views. Unbeatable

Fog over Lake Crescent
Panorama of the fog on Lake Crescent
Sunset at Lake Crescent
Sunset at Lake Crescent

Lake Crescent View