Orcas Island Weekend Travel Guide

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How stunning is this view? Picture taken from Doe Bay on Orcas Island. 
When friends ask me what my favorite spot in Washington is outside of Seattle, without a beat, I always enthusiastically answer, “Orcas Island!”. If you’re unfamiliar, Orcas Island is the largest island in the San Juan Islands and is located in northwestern Washington. I liken it to a Northwest version of Hawaii. The island is covered with lush vegetation and evergreen trees, while surrounded by the deep blues of Puget Sound. It has that magical power that makes you feel worlds away, when actually it’s just a short weekend trip from Seattle.

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Three Things Making Me Happy This Week

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Creamy Carrot Farrotto topped with an arugula-carrot salad and parmesan. Recipe courtesy of The Skinnytaste Cookbook. Easy to make and delicious!

I don’t know about you, but this week has felt a little off. Perhaps it was the surprise firing of the FBI Director, which I cannot stop reading or listening about. Or maybe it’s that Seattle still cannot figure out whether it’s winter or spring. Or it could be that we were out-of-town last weekend for a friend’s wedding in Cincinnati, which was loads of fun but always throws things out-of-rhythm.

Despite the topsy-turviness of this week, these three little things are making me happy. Nothing revolutionary, but I like to share a good thing when I see/cook/read/watch it!

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It’s Gonna Be May and Moving Update

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Praying those April showers are a thing of the past. It’s time for May!

May has finally arrived. After a seemingly endless winter, signs of spring are starting to slowly pop up in Seattle. The flowers are nearly full bloom. The temperature has crept up into the occasional 60s. My down coat has officially moved towards the back of my closet. And that Justin Timberlake meme is now everywhere.

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Healthy Almond Date Granola Bars Recipe

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Dates, honey, oats, almond butter, and almonds. That’s it! 

In case you couldn’t tell, I have a thing for granola bars and almonds. I’ve been on the hunt for a healthy, satisfying granola bar that combines a sweet chewy texture and the satisfying crunch of almonds. Folks, I’m happy to report I found the recipe that fits the bill.

These bars are a perfect concoction of sweet dates and honey mixed with oats, almond butter, and almonds. That’s only five ingredients. Compared to store bought granola bars that contain 20-plus ingredients that I can’t pronounce the names of, I’ll take these any day! Plus, these bars are no-bake so no oven is required. They’re a great breakfast or snack on-the-go, or even a healthy dessert treat. You’ll love them!

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Top 5 Northwest Weekend Road Trips

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Taking in the views at Ebey’s Landing on Whidbey Island.

There’s nothing more I love than a good weekend road trip with my husband H. Busting out our old high school CD case and singing along to all the classic jams. (The original NOW! That’s What I Call Music CD is my personal favorite.) Sitting in the passenger seat and not being able to move my legs because they are covered by an overabundance of water bottles and snacks that would last anyone weeks. (You can never be over prepared.) It’s the journey, not the destination people!

But I digress. We are lucky to live in Seattle where there are so many unique and beautiful places to visit that are within a short driving distance. Now that the countdown clock is ticking towards our move date to Ohio, I am hurrying to book trips to some of our favorite places. Here’s a list of our top five favorite Northwest weekend road trips:

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Almond Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe (Gluten-Free)

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Meet your new favorite cookie!

Say that name five times fast. I know, the cookie name is a doozy but when you taste this trifecta of ingredients you’ll understand why it’s essential to include all three in the title. The rich almond meal base is highlighted by sweet chocolate chips and hearty coconut flakes, with coconut oil bringing all the ingredients together. (Excuse me while I eat another cookie after writing that sentence.)

Did I mention these cookies are 100 percent gluten-free? I do not eat a gluten-free diet personally, but I do have some friends with celiac disease and these cookies have become my go-to recipe for them. But don’t just dismiss this recipe for just for gluten-free eaters, as gluten eaters love these cookies just the same. I made a batch for my parents while they were in town last week and they were devoured in one sitting.

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Don’t Wear Rain Boots in Seattle and Other Rain Etiquette Tips

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Rain boots and Seattle seem like a natural pair, right? Seattleites think less so. (Pardon the dust on my rain boots, it has been awhile!)

When I moved to Seattle in 2013, one of my first purchases was a pair of coveted Hunter rain boots. Living in San Francisco prior to our move, I always admired the chic women who wore the rain boots on their wet commutes to work. I could never justify buying them in California since our rainy days were rare, but I figured living in Seattle was the perfect excuse!

My first job in Seattle was at a major technology company where the dress code was very casual (think engineers in sweatpants and Crocs). I remember one rainy fall day I decided to wear my new Hunter rain boots to work. To my credit, I did have a wet commute walking down a hill to my bus stop, riding a damp bus, and traversing through puddles downtown to my office. However, I was less observant to what my fellow Seattleites deemed appropriate rain footwear, especially in the office.

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Does It Really Rain in Seattle All the Time?

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Another gray day in Seattle. We’ve had three sunny, mild days in six months. Not that I’m counting or anything.
When people find out I live in Seattle, the first thing they ask is “Does it really rain all the time?” To which I respond, “Yes, but…” and rattle off my list of defensive answers that it’s not as rainy as it seems (all Seattleites have this monologue memorized).

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A Weekend in Whistler and Learning to Ski

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Riding the Peak 2 Peak Gondola between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. It holds two world records for the longest free span between ropeway towers (1.88 miles) and highest point above ground (1430 feet). Luckily we did not plummet to the ground as I originally feared!

With our countdown to our Ohio move getting closer, my husband H and I are trying to visit as many Pacific Northwest destinations as possible. Our list includes old favorites as well as new places we’ve been eyeing to go. Last weekend we finally made the pilgrimage to one of the top ski destinations in the world – Whistler, BC.

This trip was a milestone for me because up until a few years ago I did not know how to ski. When we moved to Seattle in 2013, I decided it was finally time to learn. Seattle is famous for our dreary winters and what makes them slightly more bearable is escaping the rain to ski on the mountains. Because when it’s raining in the city, it’s snowing in the Cascades. It’s the silver lining that us Seattleites use to cheer up our sun-deprived selves!

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Honey Nut Granola Recipe

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Crunchy almonds and pecans, meet sweet honey and oats.

Did you know making your own granola is actually pretty easy? There is a myth that granola is difficult to make (“It’s so expensive to buy, it must be hard to bake!”). Whatever the reason, I’m busting this myth right here, right now.  I’ve made this granola for family and friends over the years, many of them borrowing my recipe to make their own variation with great success. I promise you can too!

The base of this granola is oats, almonds, and pecans, stirred with a healthy dose of honey, a dash of cinnamon and vanilla, and olive oil. Yes, olive oil! I try to use healthy substitutes whenever possible in recipes. While this granola is definitely not a low-calorie recipe, it does provide healthy fats and oils. I’m from the healthy eating camp that believes in eating food that is fresh, unprocessed, and contains healthy nutrients. All good things in moderation, right?

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