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    At Home  --  North America Travel

    Yah Sure YaBetcha – It’s Time to Rediscover Ballard Washington

    Location: Ballard Washington

    Please check websites for Covid 19 hours and restrictions before you make time to rediscover Ballard Washington

    Only a few decades ago, sleepy Ballard was the butt of all Scandinavian jokes. A neighborhood of working class families descended from working class immigrants, Ballard was solid, if a bit rough around the edges. Times have changed and It’s Time to Rediscover Ballard Washington.

    Sleepy No More

    I sure wish I had bought a house in Ballard back then. I’d be a millionaire today. Today, Ballard is hip. A cool place to be for young singles and families….without losing that solid working class vibe. Still home to much of the Seattle area fishing fleet, the history of fishing and shipbuilding runs deep in this community.

    Shilshole Bay Ballard
    View from Sunset Park

    What a difference a few decades make. Ballard is blooming and is now not only home to the magnificent Nordic Heritage Museum (opened in 2018), it is also a culinary Mecca – home to dozens of highly rated restaurants, some difficult to get a reservation for. Ballard, sleepy no more. I love a lot of my home state, and Ballard is one of my favorite places among those.

    It’s Time to Rediscover Ballard, Washington

    A day in Ballard is a pleasant idea….but even better why not a weekend or several days? There is so much to do here, without ever actually going into downtown Seattle. Beautiful Ballard. We want you to give it the time it deserves, so we share with you a wide variety of our favorite Ballard finds…everything from beer to parks, coffee to fish, and hiking to vintage. Yah sure yabetcha – it’s time to rediscover Ballard, Washington.

    One of the friendly locals

    Our Recommendations to Get You Started

    It’s a long, long list but we hope these recommendations will give you a variety of reasons to visit Ballard and it’s surrounding neighborhoods. If you can make your visit more than a day, we recommend the beautiful boutique hotel in the heart of Ballard, The Hotel Ballard. It’s exceptional and will make your visit to Ballard exceptional. And here are more recommendations for you;

    Let’s Eat!

    Stoneburner Restaurant Ballard
    Stoneburner is my fav

    It’s impossible to list all the delicious and innovative dining options in Ballard…so I am offering up here my favs. These are all restaurants I have eaten at and would not hesitate to go back to.

    Walrus and the Carpenter Ballard
    Oysters at The Walrus and the Carpenter
    1. Stoneburner – amazing food. Probably my favorite restaurant in Ballard
    2. The Walrus and the Carpenter – one of the best restaurants in Seattle. Reservations a must.
    3. Rays Boathouse – a Seattle area institution, with stunning water views.
    4. Portage Bay Cafe – often a wait for breakfast or lunch but always worth it.
    5. La Carte de Oaxaco – what real Mexican food should taste like.
    6. Red Mill Burgers – old school burger joint with outdoor seating or take away
    7. Lil Woody’s – another great burger and sandwich option…try the salmon burger
    8. Hot Cakes – it’s all about the chocolate here.
    9. Shiku Japanese – excellent sushi and Japanese specialties
    Little Woody's Ballard
    Salmon Burger from Lil Woody’s

    Get Outside

    For such a compact neighborhood of Seattle, Ballard is blessed with an abundance of parks, and a visit to beautiful Ballard wouldn’t be complete without a visit to at least one of Ballard’s parks. This is a list of our favorites.

    Discovery Park Ballard
    Discovery Park
    1. Discovery Park – the granddaddy of them all, this 534 acre park is a hidden natural gem.
    2. Golden Gardens – where the sunbathers, stand up paddle boarders, wind surfers, sailors and beachcombers will be found high tide, low tide and everything
    3. Burke Gilman Trail – ride or walk on this trail that will take you for miles and miles
    4. Sunset Hill – this little pocket park is the definitive place for a Seattle Sunset
    5. Shilshole Marina – enjoy a boardwalk stroll through this beautiful waterfront area and try to count the masts. Be sure and stop at the Leif Erickson statue for a taste of Scandinavian heritage.
    Leif Erickson Statue Ballard
    Leif Erickson

    So Many Things To Do

    Don’t miss any of these awesome things to do in Beautiful Ballard

    Nordic Heritage Museum Ballard
    Nordic Heritage Museum
    The locks Ballard
    Going through the locks on my son’s sailboat
    1. The National Nordic Museum – allow yourself a few hours to explore this amazing museum that chronicles the history of the Nordic people both locally and throughout the world. The cafe and gift shop are great too.
    2. Ballard Locks – officially the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks but known locally as the Ballard Locks is a fun and educational working locks that provides boat traffic to navigate between Lake Union and the Puget Sound. Don’t miss the information on the salmon ladder.
    3. Fisherman’s Terminal – a working fishing terminal for local fishing vessels, you can walk amongst the vessels in port and also purchase fresh seafood.
    4. Ballard Farmer’s Market – every Sunday from 9am to 2pm visit the Ballard Farmers Market for a colorful selection of fresh and locally made
    5. The Cycle Saloon Tours – Fun and crazy way to drink beer, get your exercise and see the sites
    6. Ballard Kayak Rentals – get out on Shilshole Bay and see the beautiful sites from the waterside
    Ballard Farmers Market
    The Ballard Farmer’s Market on Sundays

    Do You Brew?

    Beer? Coffee? Even a distillery is waiting for you in Ballard. Ya Sure YaBetcha, there is something for everyone. This is a tiny sample:

    Beers in Ballard
    1. Reubens Brews – Beer
    2. Stoup Brewing – Beer
    3. Lagunitas Brewing Co – Beer
    4. Heritage Distillery – serving up distilled liquors and mixed drinks
    5. Venture Coffee – Coffee
    6. Ballard Coffee Works – Coffee
    7. Woodland Coffee – Coffee
    8. Ballard Beer Company – Beer
    Heritage Distillery
    Ballard Coffee Works

    She Shops!

    To be honest, I’m not much of a shopper, preferring to spend my time outdoors, eating, learning history…all that stuff. BUT, you might like a few funky or vintage places and don’t miss a Scandinavian shop

    1. Scandinavian Specialties – one of the few shops left that focuses on delicious Scandinavian delicacies as well as, art, sweaters, ceramic and more.
    2. Gold Dog – for someone who doesn’t really shop….I spent some fun time in here. Cowboy boots and so much more.

    As Long As You Are Here…

    Ya sure yabetcha, as long as you are here definitely spend as much time as possible at any or all of these wonderful attractions near Ballard.

    Woodland Park Zoo Lowland Gorilla
    Woodland Park Zoo
    1. Woodland Park Zoo – not the zoo of yesteryear, today’s award winning Woodland Park Zoo is focused on conservation, preservation and immersion exhibits that provide animals a healthy and authentic living environment. Woodland Park Zoo also offers a variety of events and activities through out the year on it’s 92 acre urban site.
    2. Fremont – Ballard’s neighbor Fremont is Seattle’s answer to funky and fun claiming to be “the center of the universe”. Be sure to visit the Fremont Troll, JP Patches and Gertrude statue, Waiting for the Bus Sculpture and many other fun and quirky Fremont finds.
    3. Green Lake, just over the hill from Ballard is Seattle’s beloved Green Lake. A perfect place for a stroll or bike ride anytime of the year. Seattle gathers here.
    4. Gas Works Park – The idea to turn this huge former and simply ugly former gas works on Lake Union into a park was brilliant. Today the rusted “gas works” create an urban sculpture unique and beautiful in a strange and Seattle kind of way.
    Fremont Washington
    Funky Fremont

    Are You Convinced?

    Have I convinced you that it’s time to rediscover Ballard Washington? I have spent a lot of time there over the last five years, because my adult sons call it home. If they had never moved there, I would never have rediscovered Ballard myself…and I’m so glad I did. I still have a lot to see in Beautiful Ballard…so I’ll see you there.

    Learn more about Ballard at Visit Ballard

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    At Home

    Covid Cocktails for a Summer Lockdown 2020

    Delicious and Fun Cocktails

    Covid Cocktails for Summer Lockdown 2020

    Revisiting this blog post from last summer, because hey, Covid Cocktails in summer 2021 might make the PanDamit feel a little better. Enjoy this post once again, or for the very first time.

    Lockdown is easing, but we still will be finding summer 2020 a bit of a lonely place; no summer concerts, parades, fairs and events. Many weddings postponed, graduations and parties done virtually. How will Fourth of July look? And our favorite restaurants and bars? They just won’t be the same for a while.

    Summer 2020 is gonna need some creative energy to pull us through and that is exactly what I have for you here today! I’ve been “researching” (ah-hem drinking daily) for this blog for two weeks and I think I am ready to share my Covid Cocktails for Summer Lockdown 2020. You can thank me later.

    The Social Distance

    Covid Cocktails The Social Distance
    The Social Distance

    (AKA Tequila Sunrise) Our version of this delicious and inspiring summer cocktail comes together easily but with rum instead of tequila. Combine 12 oz of orange juice and 3 oz of dark or light rum. Pour a third into one ice filled glass and a third into the second glass and set a third aside. Add two tablespoons of grenadine to the third you set aside and slowly pour over the top of the two glasses. Garnish with lime.

    The Quarantini

    Covid Cocktails The Quarantini
    The Quarantini

    (AKA Dilly Dirty Martini) I’m a sucker for a gin dirty martini, but this version tastes like summer using dilly beans and the juice from the dilly beans instead of olive juice. Add 6 oz gin to a martini shaker, 1 oz dilly juice, shake and pour. Garnish with dilly beans and olives.

    Covid Cocktails The Covid Colada
    The Covid Colada

    Covid Colada

    (AKA Pina Colada) This blended summer treat takes you away to a tropical island, with frozen chunks of pineapple and nutty coconut/almond milk. In a blender combine 4 oz of rum, a cup of frozen pineapple, 4 oz of coconut almond milk and a splash of pineapple juice. Add a cup of ice to the blender. Pour into two glasses and top with a tropical paper umbrella and forget your Covid troubles.

    The Fauci Fizz

    Covid Cocktails the Fauci Fizz
    The Fauci Fizz

    (AKA Gin Fizz) Make this one really taste like summer using your favorite herb such as rosemary, basil or mint. Make the simpe syrup on the stove top with half a cup water and half a cup sugar and herb of choice. Let cool then strain. In a martini shaker pour 2 oz of gin, juice of one fresh squeezed lemon, 4 oz of seltzer, one egg white and the strained simple syrup. Shake the hell out of it and get your Covid frustrations out. Pour into a pretty glass and garnish with herbs of choice and lemon wedge.

    The Orange Trump Crush

    Covid Cocktails The Orange Trump Crush
    The Orange Trump Crusgh

    (AKA Mimosa) More than a mimosa this is an Orange Trump Crush Mimosa!! Mix 1/4 cup of sugar and zest of one orange on a small plate. Use juice of the orange to wet the rim of your glasses then rim the glasses with the orange zest sugar mixture. Fill half the glass with orange flavored seltzer water, add champagne to about an inch from the top and finish with orange juice. Save the rest of the champagne for the next drink.

    The Pandemic Penguin

    Covid Cocktails The Pandemic Penguin
    The Pandemic Penguin

    (AKA Orange and Lemon Granita) Use the other half a bottle of champagne from The Orange Trump Crush. Pour into a shallow dish. Make a simple syrup of 1 cup water, the zest of one orange and one cup sugar. Let the syrup cool. Add the juice of one orange and the juice of half a lemon to the champagne then mix in the cooled simple syrup. Freeze for three hours, stirring occasionally. Scoop into pretty glasses and enjoy your Pandemic Penguin!

    What The Hell Day Is It?

    Covid Cocktails The What The Hell Day Is It?
    The What The Hell Day Is It?

    (AKA a Dark and Stormy) Ginger is healthy right? Boosts your immunity too! All good things during this virus summer! Get a good quality ginger beer 12 oz. In a blender add the ginger beer, one tablespoon of fresh ground ginger (must be fresh), juice of one lime and about 2 cups of ice. Blend. Pour into glasses and then pour a dark rum (about 2 oz per glass) over the top.

    The Working From Home

    Covid Cocktails The Working From Home
    The Working From Home

    (AKA Coffee with a kick) Use a French Press to brew a very dark rich coffee. Add 1 oz of good whiskey and 2 oz of almond milk. It will make those zoom meeting way more fun.

    The Lemon Lockdown

    Covid Cocktails The Lemon Lockdown
    The Lemons Lockdown

    (AKA Blueberry Lemon Margarita) Squeeze one and half lemons or enough for one cup of fresh lemon juice. Add half a cup of water and two tablespoons of sugar. Set aside. On the stove top make a simple syrup of 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of water, zest of one lime and 1/2 a cup of blueberries. Let cool and then strain. Use two chilled glasses and rub a fresh lemon on the rim. Dip the rim into a mixture of salt and sugar on a plate. Add ice cubes to about half way up the glass. Pour in 2 oz of tequila into each glass and 1 oz of triple sec into each glass. Add half the fresh lemon juice mixture to each glass and then top with the cooled blueberry simple syrup. Garnish with blueberries and a lemon wedge. Lockdown never tested so good.

    Bra? What Bra?

    Covid Cocktails The Bra? What Bra?
    The Bra? What Bra?

    (AKA Spicy Bloody Mary) Super simple. Super delicious. Buy premixed Bloody Mary mix. Mix with Vodka. Garnish with Celery stalk, dilly bean, olives…whatever you want. Remove bra before consuming. Unless you haven’t had a bra on for two months.

    The Mask-a-rita

    Covid Cocktails Mask-a-rita
    The Mask-a-rita

    (AKA Pineapple Margarita) Chill two glasses and then rub a quarter of lime around the rim, then dip in salt. To each glass add 2 oz of tequila, 1 oz triple sec, 4 oz of pineapple juice and a squeeze of fresh lime. You can shake it in your martini shaker if you like it a bit frothy. Garnish with a pineapple wedge or lime wedge. You’re gonna need to remove your mask before you can drink it!

    Virus Breakfast of Champions

    Virus Breakfast of Champions

    (AKA Gin & Tonic) Duh. The best summer drink ever so you know I had to add it here. Choose your favorite gin (we usually use less expensive gin like Gordons for this and save the good stuff for the martinis), your favorite tonic (we like Schweppes), lime is mandatory. Over ice pour 2 oz gin, fill glass with tonic, squeeze of lime, garnish with lime. Drink!

    My Corona

    My Corona

    (AKA Beer) Chill. Drink.

    So there you have it. My Covid Cocktails for Summer Lockdown 2020. Enjoy a few of these in the months ahead, for some fun and sane entertainment as we navigate our way through Pandemic 2020.

    Be well everyone. Love you all.

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    At Home  --  Inspire

    Immunity Boosting Foods for Healthy Life

    Enjoy this blog from 2020 again or for the very first time.

    We are all a bit anxious these days about our health and well-being. Remembering the important recommendations for social distancing, mask wearing and washing your hands A LOT remains super important. But what we choose to eat in our social distanced lives is another important factor in staying healthy. Immunity boosting foods for healthy life is something we should learn to do all the time, not just when the world is fighting a pandemic.

    Choosing to add immunity boosting foods to your diet is really easy, without giving up the tasty comfort foods we all are enjoying during these anxious days. Over the past few years I have been working on a diet that is rich in both immunity boosting foods, anti-inflamatory foods and foods that are good for gut health.

    Immunity Boosting Foods
    Blueberries

    I am not a dietitian or a nutritionist, just a lay person who has experimented and found some things that work for me. And maybe they will work for you too!

    Gut Health

    Last summer we purchased a sauerkraut maker, manufactured by a company called Cultures for Health. Now we eat a few tablespoons of homemade sauerkraut every day. Homemade sauerkraut is full of good bacteria for your gut. Unrefrigerated store-bought sauerkraut has been pasteurized. Pasteurization kills all those good bacteria and so you lose the healthy benefits. You can use this sauerkraut maker for other fermented foods too like pickles, beans, radishes. Eating fermented foods adds good bacteria and enzymes to your gut! And they taste good too.

    Here is our fun video on how to make your own!

    Now I know you’re gonna want your own fermenter. Here is the one we recommend.

    Daily Breakfast

    Our daily breakfast nearly every day of the week includes a lot of immunity boosting foods for healthy life. Each morning we eat a bowl full of blueberries (antioxidants, phytoflavinoids & Vitamin C), spinach (fights cardiovascular and chronic disease), almonds or walnuts (packed with fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals) and other fruits like apples, bananas, mango. We mix this with homemade yogurt.

    Immunity Boosting Foods
    Spinach

    The probiotics in yogurt (live cultures) are really good for your health. Yogurt is a great source of low calorie protein, as long as you aren’t eating the sweet and fruity kind. We make our own yogurt very simply in a yogurt maker we bought from a manufacturer called Euro Cuisine, through Cultures for Health. It’s really easy. All you need is a live-culture yogurt starter and milk. We make it once a week at night, and when we wake up in the morning it’s ready to eat.

    Immunity Boosting Foods
    Yogurt Maker

    Eat the Rainbow

    The rest of our daily diet includes a variety of immunity boosting foods for healthy life like ginger (free radicals build a defense system), garlic (anti-inflamatory), dark greens and broccoli ( full of good vitamins and anti-oxidant goodness) peppers and citrus (nothing like the Vitamin C in these foods to strengthen your immunity) and apple cider vinegar (used in small quantities is a great anti-oxidant boost).

    Immunity Boosting Foods
    Citrus

    We eat meat including beef and pork, although most of our meat consumption is chicken and fish. We consume so much fish, mostly cold water fish. We try to have salmon, canned sardines and responsibly fished canned tuna regularly, all foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

    Immunity Boosting Foods
    Nuts and spices and ginger

    Tea Time

    Although I am a coffee lover, I often take a cup of herbal tea before bed. I love a ginger tea which helps me sleep as does chamomile, and I’m also fond of peppermint tea as a pick me up in the afternoon. I don’t drink green tea very often, but like the teas I mentioned above, these all are high in immunity boosting anti-oxidants. The world of tea is actually very fascinating…there are entire books written about it and tea is definitely a immunity boosting food for healthy life. For me, just an herbal cup each evening is both delicious, healthy and relaxing.

    Immunity Boosting Foods
    Herbal Tea

    Staying healthy isn’t just about food of course. Finding ways to stay active, get lots of rest, drink lots of water and engage in activities we love during these stressful times are all part of keeping your immunity system thriving despite the stress. It’s okay to have that brownie, or burger too. It’s not about depriving yourself. It’s about making good choices as often as possible, adding immunity boosting foods for healthy life to your diet, the things science knows help our bodies fight back anything from the common cold to an uncontrolled virus. Doing this on a regular basis will make you look and feel better.

    Take care of yourself my friends. Choose healthy options and be well.

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    Immunity Boosting Foods
    Immunity Boosting Foods
    At Home  --  Inspire

    Skin Care at Sixty

    My Six- Week TimeWise Repair Journey

    Location: At Home, USA

    Enjoy this post, Skin Care at Sixty, from 2020 again or for the very first time.

    Being in lockdown, and returning so abruptly from our world travels back to the USA, put me in a position with free time to step back and take a look at myself. Everything that had fully occupied my time over the last four years had come to a complete and unexpected stop.

    But this provided an unexpected blessing – an opportunity for me to focus on self care. Something I have been wholly unable to do most of my life; to no one’s fault but my own.

    Me no make up on
    Me last week no makeup.

    When we arrived in the USA I found I had a lot of free time on my hands. I began to realize I could use this stay-at-home time to accomplish some self-care things I had so often put on the back burner before. I immediately started a running training program, joined NOOM weight loss (to date have dropped 20 pounds and will be blogging on this later) and set out to focus on revitalizing my aging and neglected skin and focusing on skin care at sixty.

    I’ve never been someone to spend a lot of money on beauty. I get my hair and nails done, but shop for myself infrequently and never too extravagantly. Most of my skincare products and makeup generally come from Target. When we travel I go months without wearing makeup and most days only use cleanser and moisturizer with SPF 15.

    But here I am with all this free time…free time to get healthy both inside and out. Free time to finally focus on skin care at sixty. Better late than never? Well, you be the judge.

    On arriving back home I contacted my friend Susi who is a Mary Kay consultant, because I had heard some good reviews about the MK line called TimeWise Repair. This line of skincare products is specifically designed for women like me, who are looking to repair damage from sun and sea, age and neglect.

    I began using these products in early May. I did a video on YouTube at that time, to share the start of my journey. You can see that first video below. In the video I share all the products I began using; 1) TimeWise Repair Foaming Cleanser 2) Indulge Soothing Eye Gel 3) Eye Renewal Cream 4) Vitamin C 5) Lifting Serum 6) TimeWise Repair Retinol Night Cream and TimeWise Repair SPF 30 Day Cream 7) Deep Wrinkle Filler

    Here is the first video…and by the way you will notice the 20 pounds heavier in this first video as compared to today…that alone makes my face look healthier.

    May 8th video

    I spent the next three weeks religiously following the night and day program for Mary Kay’s TimeWise Repair products and I immediately began to feel my skin was moister and generally all-around healthier. Once a week I used two more products in the evening; 8) TimeWise Repair Facial Peel and 9) TimeWise Repair Moisture Renewing Gel Mask.

    Here is the second video I did at week three. I REALLY notice in this video the bags under my eyes. At the time of this video I had not yet been diagnosed with a sinus infection…but clearly it was raging and causing me trouble. I kept hoping the Mary Kay eye cream would take care of the bags, not realizing it was something more. Here is the second video.

    May 30

    So today at week six I am pretty happy about how my skin FEELS as much as how it looks. I also feel like by focusing on this for six weeks I have developed good skin care habits for both morning and night, something I never had before. I would say that the products I feel have been the best for me would be the TimeWise Repair Foaming Cleanser, the Indulge Soothing Eye Gel, the Day Cream, the Night Cream, the Facial Peel and the Gel Mask.

    My consultant Susi feels strongly that the serum is one of the best things I can do for my skin. And I feel like the night cream with retinal has contributed greatly to the diminished wrinkles. It’s been nice having Susi at my fingertips for questions…something I can’t get from sales people at Target or the mall. Worth it for me in my busy life.

    It’s not pretty, but I’m sharing with you my before shot that was done on the Mary Kay Skin Analyzer App the first week of May, and my After Shot taken this week. Note I’m purposefully not smiling…to really be able to see my problem areas. The skin analyzer is the tool we used to both determine the products that would be best for my skin issues, and to see the results. Here it is. Oi. Embarrassing.

    Mary Kay Skin Analyzer picture week one
    Week one early May
    Mary Kay Skin Analyzer picture week six
    Week Six Mid June

    However, I see much improvement in the wrinkles, and am hopeful with continued use it will get better still. Although some of my most prominent wrinkles, like the “11” between my brows haven’t really improved at all, I’m happy to accept those as part of my sixty year journey. I think those are just here to stay.

    My final video, posted yesterday, shares a fun time lapse look at my routine to finish off the experiment. Here it is.

    So, again realizing I have dropped 20 lbs in six weeks, and started running every day combined with this skin care routine I feel really healthy overall. I see a difference in my skin, especially how it feels and even how my makeup feels on my skin. Here is another before and after shot with my make up on.

    March in Israel make up on
    BEFORE this is me early March in Israel, make up on
    Last week with makeup on
    AFTER Me mid June with makeup at home

    AND since I am making all this effort, I bought a new hat with a wider brim to protect my skin more than any hat I’ve owned before. Sassy. I am feeling so much healthier over all, I hope all these new habits will stick, and I can continue to improve my skin, weight and activity level in the months and years ahead. Because, you know, I’m fabulous!

    My new hat, make up on
    Protecting my skin with my new hat

    I would love to hear about your self care journey. Comment below or message me anytime.

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    At Home

    The History of Halloween

    Celtic Origins We Celebrate Today

    Note my facts here come from The History of Halloween from History.com

    As an adult I look back on so many fond memories of my 1960’s and 70’s childhood, including Halloween. As soon as school began in September we began thinking about and planning for that big day. We always made our own costumes just from found things around the house…never sewing anything elaborate and NEVER purchasing anything from a store.

    Halloween When I Was a Kid

    Unfortunately my parents were not big photo takers so I have only one photo I know of, of me with my siblings on Halloween. That was the year my sister proclaimed she was going to be the Fairy Godmother and I was going to be Cinderella in rags. Okay fine. My brother was a “hippie” and my littlest brother was a cowboy. It was a time in life when it didn’t take a lot ot make us happy.

    With my siblings, maybe around 1970

    In highschool and even college we celebrated the holiday with homemade costumes but the trick or treating gave way to parties. Here I’m sharing a few photos I pulled up from those days.

    1979 College
    1975 High School
    At my job 2005
    1983 Newlyweds

    Halloween When My Kids Were Little

    When my kids were little I made their costumes most years and we had a lot of fun with Halloween as a family. In the 1990’s when my kids were young, trick or treating was still safe and the school always had a special event with costumes.

    1988
    1994
    1987
    1995

    Today fewer kids wander the neighborhoods, but with Covid it’s hard to imagine that communities and malls will be holding their annual gatherings. I feel so sad for the little kids of 2020.

    The History of Holidays

    I’ve always been fascinated with our our holidays evolved into what we accept today as normal, ever since I discovered that Santa Claus is a fairly new invention. So I have over the years gathered lots of fun information about holiday rituals and their evoloution.

    Halloween Began 2000 Years Ago

    The origin of Halloween can be traced 2000 years years ago to the Celtic festival called Samhain. This festival was a celebration to ward off ghosts and included costumes and bon fires.

    Ghosts were responsible for death and havoc

    In the 8th Century Pope Gregory III declared that November 1st would be All Saints Day to remember all Catholic Saints and the Samhain festival the day before became known as All Hallows Eve.

    November 1st was also considered the New Year to the Celts and was marked as the end of the harvest and bounty and the beginning of the dark days of winter, a time of hunger and death.

    People believed black cats were witches in disguise

    The Druids (Celtic Priests) gave the Celtic people guidance during this time, when all believed the ghosts were responsible for failed crops, poor health and bad weather. The Druids built bon fires and everyone dressed in costumes to scare away the ghosts. Crops and animals were sacrificed.

    Rome, Of Course, Intervened

    When the Romans conquered this region, the Samhain festival merged with Feralia, a Roman festival similar to Day of the Dead; and Pomona, a celebration of the apple harvest (assumed to be where bobbing for apples comes from).

    Christianity

    By the 9th century the Celtic lands had become Christian and the November 2nd Christian holiday All Souls Day merged with All Hallows Even (Alholowmesse) and the costume tradition expanded.

    Ritual bonfires helped ward off evil

    Welcome to America

    Colonial America celebrated this holiday, despite the New England Protestant objection due to the pagan origins. As immigrants from many nations came together, the American version of the holiday emerged.

    Early Jack-o-lanterns were carved from turnips

    Outdoor parties, bon fires, scary stories, fortune telling, pranks, games, music and dancing were all part of the early American celebration. By the early 1800’s most communities celebrated an Autumn festival but Halloween as we know it was still a ways away.

    Irish Americans Bring the Tradition

    As Irish immigrants flooded America in the late 19th century, with them came many of the traditions we today associate with Halloween in the USA. This included costumes, Trick-or-Treat for food or money, and the focus of the holiday became more about children.

    Bobbing for apples is an ancient game still practiced today

    But in the 1920’s and 30’s vandals hijacked the holiday with pranks and sometimes drunken violence and many gatherings stopped. By the 1950’s local towns redirected the holiday back to family-focused and encouraged family gatherings. Trick-or-Treating was revived.

    Today’s Halloween

    Small homemade treats gave way to store bought candy in the 1960’s when parents feared for their children eating anything they didn’t know the source of. Today 6 billion dollars are spent annually on Halloween and it is the biggest candy buying time of the year in the USA.

    Halloween candy

    Both children and adults dress up annually, with many adults wearing costumes to their jobs. Halloween parties for kids and adults happen in the weeks ahead of the actual Halloween night.

    Halloween is the second biggest commercial holiday after Christmas in the USA.

    And now you know – the history of Halloween.

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    At Home

    DIY Bathroom Remodel – A 1993 Bath Becomes a 2020 Showpiece

    Last summer we did a “remodel” of our new villa in the USA. It was actually less of a remodel and more of a refresh, updating the 1990’s villa with fresh paint, tile, floors, countertop, appliances and design. We did this without any large construction or massive structural changes. We were able to do it all in 8 weeks for around $20K. We did everything last summer EXCEPT the master bathroom. We saved that for this summer – DIY Bathroom Remodel.

    DIY Bathroom Remodel
    Before with carpet

    Arriving home from our world tour two months earlier than planned due to Covid, we launched almost immediately into our project of completely demolishing the old bathroom and beginning a DIY bathroom remodel – a 1993 bath becomes a 2020 showpiece.

    DIY Bathroom Remodel

    Given we were in no hurry and we wanted to save money, my husband tackled the entire job himself. We both were raised in do-it-yourself families, and we have had a lot of experience in this area. We have built two homes from the ground up and gutted and remodeled a third before taking on this Villa last summer. We kinda know what we are doing. So, here is what we did over a four month period to create the bathroom of our dreams.

    Before

    I’m sure in the early 1990’s this bathroom was pretty swanky. But nearly thirty years later it was out of date and worn out. Yes that is carpet you see in that photo. It was a thing in the 80’s and 90’s to put carpet in a bathroom. Not something I want anymore. So a complete demolition of this bathroom took place, creating a total clean slate to work with. We found someone on Facebook who came and took all the cabinets and sinks. The rest went to the dump.

    Before tiny shower and pocketdoor
    Before old cabinet

    Before phone booth shower
    Before toilet cubby

    Inspiration

    Thank you Pinterest for all these inspiring ideas for my DIY Bathroom Remodel…while we were still traveling I began to save lots of pins to my Home and Garden file in Pinterest of the kind of bathroom I imagined for this space. The bathroom is not huge, about 8 x 15 feet, but big enough for just the two of us. Here are some of my most inspiring photos from Pinterest that I used as we laid out the design for this bathroom. (Follow me on Pinterest!)

    Framing, Plumbing and Electrical

    Once demolition was complete my husband Arne began moving the plumbing. We moved the toilet about three feet, expanded the shower about four feet, moved the sink and changed the layout of the tub. Next a lot of time was spent framing the new shower and toilet cubby area where we had removed a wall and pocket door. He then did all the electrical adding some recessed lighting, chandelier and several new outlets.

    Clean slate
    Shower is gone
    Framing of new shower area

    Meanwhile Countertop Art

    While Arne is doing all of this I am working with my friend and local concrete artist Laurie, as we begin to design a showpiece of a countertop as part of the DIY Bathroom Remodel. This is the second countertop Laurie has done for us. We worked closely together for three months on getting this beauty just right with the color and the texture that I wanted.

    See Laurie’s work at Advanced Concrete and Design here.

    Goregeous concrete art

    Sheetrock and Paint

    Once the plumbing and electrical was complete time to repair the sheet rock and paint. We used the same color paint we have used through out the rest of the house, a soft linen color by Behr called Authentic Tan.

    Sheet rock repair
    Shower frame in complete

    Time to Start the Tile

    Hands down the most time consuming and difficult task of all the bathroom remodel tasks the huge amount of tile in this bathroom was daunting. We purchased all the wall tile at Home Depot but made a special order for the magnificent floor tile from a local store called Advanced Flooring. We splurged a bit on the floor tile but the impact was worth it and we made up for it by using less expensive tile on the wall. By the way the wall tile is a larger style of subway tile that measures 12″.

    Professional Tile Cutter
    Shower floor goes in

    Arne borrowed his brother’s professional-grade tile cutter and got to work on this big job. Once again, taking his time was paramount in the success of this project. When we had other things to do, we did them. We took days off to hike, golf and play. We took two weeks off to do our Road Trip (see it all here). And pretty much every other minute he was placing tile. Occasionally when I would be working in other parts of the house a few choice words would burst from the project…but my husband persevered. He even built the pan for the new shower floor.

    Wall tile with detail
    Giant project
    I love the floor tile by Daltile
    Celebrating the final piece of tile being placed

    It Comes Together

    Once the tile and grout were complete the beautiful tub was placed, and the vanity and toilet put in. All the plumbing fixtures in oil rubbed bronze came from Signature Hardware. The chandelier and light over the sink also went in. By the way, we ordered ALL OF THESE online to avoid going into the stores as much as possible due to the virus.

    Finishing touches

    Finally Laurie arrived for the placement of the work-of-art countertop…after lots of work on her part and consultation on my part, the size, fit and color were absolutely perfect. The countertop weighs about 150 pounds and she was really nervous as we got it into place…but it went smoothly and we could not have been happier.

    Countertop arrives

    With the counter in place Arne finished the final tile pieces to finish off around the counter, and installed the faucet. Next we placed our beautiful mirror and added two small cabinets for more storage next to the tub and over the toilet.

    Beautiful mirror from reclaimed barn wood

    One good scrub down of everything and then I began to decorate. Nearly every decorative item you see here I already owned, but I also added a few new and “new to me” pieces I had collected in the months coming up to this moment. I purchased all new towels and bath rugs and some storage bins. Finally, everything was complete exactly four months to the day from when we began the tear-out in May.

    Pros and Cons

    Doing a major DIY like this is NOT for everyone. Don’t tackle it unless you know what you are doing. But I know having a contractor come in and do all of this work would have cost us at least $50K. We did it for $14K.

    So bright and beautiful

    The biggest con for me was the dust the project created throughout the house and the reaction I had to the dust in my allergies and sinuses. I am so grateful that part is over.

    I absolutely love everything about this beautiful space now and how it flows both in color and function with the rest of our new home.

    Although we have every intention of continuing to travel as soon as we can, knowing we have this space to call home when we are in the USA has been such a relief for us. So thankful we made the decision to buy this property and turn it into the retreat of our dreams. No regrets.

    Some Final Before and After Shots and Decorative Touches. Enjoy.

    DIY Bathroom Remodel
    Before with carpet
    After
    After
    Before
    Shower detail
    Concrete Counter
    LIttle touches
    Shelves from Wayfair
    I even love the toilet
    Counter decor
    Decore
    Pretty and functional
    So pretty

    Thanks for following along on this DIY Bathroom Remodel journey with us. We plan to relax for awhile now.

    See this week’s top performing pin here.

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    At Home  --  North America Travel

    Road Tripping Idaho USA

    Part One of a Three Part Road Tripping Series

    Location: McCall & Sun Valley Idaho, USA

    Inspired to explore environs closer to home, meaning in the United States, we set out on a road trip in August. Road tripping Idaho USA began in Washington State. We traveled 3375 miles through 5 states over 13 days. Our goal was only to sate a wee bit of our wanderlust and see a few towns and regions we had never visited. This is the first installment of three part series of our road trip adventures.

    Hiking in Idaho
    Hiking was at the top of our list for our road trip activities

    Road Warriors

    I should start by telling those of you who don’t know, that we have visited all fifty states. Yes, in addition to the 110 countries we have visited we can also claim to have visited all fifty states. Admittedly I am a bit of an overachiever (insert eye roll).

    But point of clarification – the way we accomplished this momentous task is by…wait for it…ROAD TRIPPING! Yep, it’s really the only way to visit all 50 states, and over the past twenty-eight years we have traversed the entire country on six separate road trips. Our first road trip was in 1992 when we drove from Washington State to Washington DC. So our Road tripping Idaho USA begins our sixth USA road trip.

    Idaho Deer
    Rural Idaho offers a lot of wildlife viewing opportunities

    Road Tripping in the Time of The “C” Word

    That inconvenient virus has made every aspect of our lives a struggle, including a summer road trip. We planned a socially distanced itinerary and were able to pull it off by planning ahead, traveling with cleaning supplies and wearing our masks. We spent multiple days in Idaho, Colorado and Oregon.

    Way to go Idaho

    Given that Idaho is the neighbor to my home state of Washington you’d think I would have spent more time there. But not so much. I’ve visited the panhandle multiple times, and the city of Boise, but on this trip I really wanted to see more of the mountains in the south so that’s what we set out to do.

    Reflexion in Lake
    Beautiful Twin Lakes, a four mile easy round trip hike in McCall

    We drove our first day to Spokane, still in Washington State but right on the border with Idaho. We spent a fun evening with my husband’s brother and his wife, before making an early morning escape under the cover of darkness. Today’s drive was about six hours to McCall Idaho (crossing into Mountain time zone), home to Payette Lake, Brundage Mountain and beautiful scenery.

    We spent our first day in McCall enjoying the company of dear old friends who have retired to this gorgeous area. It’s not hard to see why they would choose it. Everything you might want is here; hot dry summers, cold dry winters, hiking, biking, boating, skiing, great dining and beer. Wow.

    Wildflowers in Idaho
    Abundant wildflowers at Twin Lakes

    Day two in McCall we did two easy hikes. First we hiked to Twin Lakes, an easy four mile round trip suitable for just about anyone. It was one of the most peaceful places I have ever been. We had gotten an early start and found the trail and the lake deserted, except for a lone fisherman…perfect. The views were like a postcard…actually better!

    Next we went to the Brundage Ski Area very popular in the summer for mountain bikers. We had a delicious lunch (socially distanced outdoors) on the deck of the lodge before riding the chair lift ($15) up to the top of the mountain. Here we could see all the way back to McCall and Payette Lake and well beyond. The chair lift ticket includes a round trip, but we hiked the 4 mile cat track back down to the lodge, enjoying a wide variety of wildflowers and bird life, and only a handful of other people.

    Chair lift at Brundage
    Masked up for the chairlift ride at Brundage Ski Area

    We spent our two nights in McCall in a tiny little cabin a block from the lake. Teeny kitchen and bath, a comfy bed and a fireplace make this place cozy and perfect for a few days winter or summer. We also enjoyed sitting around the campfire in the evening. See it here.

    Payette Lake
    Payette Lake is a dream for boating and water sports

    Day four we exited early, heading south to the famous Sun Valley region. We had never visited Sun Valley and it had been on my list for a long time. Sun Valley is made up of several towns, and several ski areas. The best known town is Ketchum. We stayed in Hailey, about five miles outside of Ketchum (another peaceful and exceptionally well kept Airbnb. See it here).

    Sun Valley Ski Resort view
    You can see forever from the top of Sun Valley Ski Resort

    Our first day in the valley we took the gondola at Sun Valley Ski Resort up to the top of the mountain ($25). The weather was clear and warm and you could see for a hundred miles. We had an outdoor socially distanced meal at Warfield Distillery in Ketchum and explored some of the local microbrews.

    Ketchum Idaho
    A great view from the outdoor patio at Warfield Distillery in Ketchum

    Day two in the valley I enjoyed a long morning run on the Wood River trail that runs for 15+ miles all along the valley. Next we took a short hike on a nature trail near our Airbnb along the Wood River. We finished our day playing nine holes of golf at the beautiful Elk Horn Golf Course. Sun Valley is peppered with golf courses…wish we had been able to check out a few more – next time!

    Elk Horn Golf
    A beautiful golf course, Elk Horn in Sun Valley

    Feeling Safe in Idaho

    Idaho has a population of 1.75 million and ranks 35th in the USA for virus infections with just over 28,000 (Source Statista as of August 19th). In both McCall and the Sun Valley area we found people wearing masks in all stores and restaurants and many people wearing masks on the sidewalks in town. Idaho was dead last in the USA for cases until mid-June when virus cases began to rise.

    Sawtooth Mountains
    Mountains Majesty – the Sawtooth Mountains

    We made a point to keep distanced, choose activities where we could easily stay away from crowds, and we enjoyed our road trip in Idaho. It really is an underrated gem in the United States. Now I want to go back in the winter. Road tripping Idaho USA filled our goals.

    Join us next week for our Colorado installment of Road Tripping USA.

    See our road trip to Montana from Summer 2019.

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