The Wonderful Smells of Life in the Pacific Northwest & Other Observations

life in the Pacific Northwest

What are the smells of life that evoke an emotional response? I have so many, do you?

Ah, the wholly different and wonderful smells of my new life in the Northwest.  

Back in 2014 when I began Adventures of Empty Nesters, I wrote a post called, Do certain smells trigger a rush of memories for you? and it was all about smell memories and my family. 

I have always associated certain smells with people, places, and experiences. Maybe it was a perfume my teacher wore, or the aroma of a glorious meal while traveling, or the familiar scents of the holidays. Do you associate meaningful smells with exceptional memories?

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Our Move to the Pacific Northwest: An Update & Kirkland, WA Pictorial!

move to the Pacific Northwest

A Six Month Update!                    

Our Crazy Move to the Pacific Northwest!

Our move to the Pacific Northwest has been challenging, sad, wet, sunny, exciting, exhilarating, and so very different from our old life.

Back in Southern California, we had downsized and renovated our Empty Nest, which was just perfect for two. We enjoyed our small, quaint home, relaxing back yard, proximity to family and friends, and warm weather.

We made the hard decision to move to Kirkland, WA, to be nearer to our newly born grandchildren, James & Josephine.

There has been a lot of adjusting and the climate takes some getting used to also! New dry cleaners, grocery stores, dog sitter, you name it, we had to find it! And, with a much bigger house that needed inside paint and new furniture, we embarked on another home project!

However, this move provided us the time and accessibility to watch these babies grow up, support our daughter and son in law, and begin our life as grandparents. Flying from California every time we wanted to see them would be a hassle and we wanted to be more hands-on. Luckily for us, we could work from home long before COVID offered this newest possibility.

I want to dive into the house design choices, but I will do that in another post. I have been updating my audience through Facebook and Instagram, but many of you do not participate in social media or miss these posts, and I wanted you to know what it was like living here!

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For Valentine’s Day, Why Not Create A Virtual Romantic Getaway for Two!

long term marriages

Does the idea of a virtual romantic getaway sound a little crazy, but fun?

After all, this is 2021, travel remains at a virtual standstill, and almost everything we do, even as ridiculous as it sounds – is virtual. Work, school, birthday parties, Thanksgiving, Christmas, cocktail hour, baby showers, wine tasting, cooking class, exercise class! Good grief! Why not enjoy a virtual romantic getaway for two? Let’s create everything you need to pretend to be at the destination of your dreams!

Valentine’s Day is around the corner, but we have a little time to plan. Why the heck not? As a travel writer, my work life was upended by the pandemic, which allowed me the freedom to try a few new ideas. One of which was to create a Virtual Maui Vacation. Brilliant, yes? 

romantic getaway
A virtual Maui could be fun!

After umpteen months of quarantine, a virtual Maui Vacation sounds kind of fun, doesn’t it? Maybe you want to create a weekend in Maui? Just check out the Vacation Guide, which has all of the details!

Maybe you need a little help with this virtual romantic getaway idea? I plan to give you a few tips to get your creative juices flowing.

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An Anniversary Trip to Ventana Big Sur: A Luxury Hotel on the Pacific Coast

luxury hotel in Big Sur
We celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary at Ventana Big Sur

Ventana Big Sur – An extraordinary luxury hotel!

After seven months of quarantine, we were more than ready for an anniversary trip. At the time, restrictions from COVID had lifted enough where we could travel to the glorious California coast at Big Sur.

I needed this vacation so much! Tired of being cooped up with no trips planned, it was time. Travel is my passion, my occupation, and honestly, what lights me up inside. I love to create the plans, to experience new places, and find adventure. I’m not ready to settle into retirement yet; there are too many fabulous destinations to visit, too much out there to learn! Don’t you agree?

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An Escape for the Weekend in Yosemite – Yes Please!

Tunnel View - Yosemite
Tunnel View – A beautiful view, earlier in the day

“Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space.” Ansel Adams

An escape for the weekend in Yosemite!

sunset view Yosemite
Tunnel View Yosemite – Sunset

Don’t we need a weekend away surrounded by granite walls, deep valleys, forest creatures, and sublime sunsets? Right now, most travel plans focus toward the direction of the outdoors with a priority of open-air, lots of space, and peaceful surroundings. California offers many scenic destinations where we can unwind and be one with nature.

We had grand plans to spend a weekend in Yosemite National Park, but COVID had other ideas. This year is overflowing with canceled or postponed vacations and weekend getaways. I am sure there are too many to count. 

Unfortunately, COVID restrictions pushed off our plan to hike and experience Yosemite, but our son Nick and new wife Kylie live much closer to this National Park and were able to enjoy a glorious weekend trip!

They graciously allowed me to live vicariously and provide me with their details to write this inspirational post! This month I am partnering with Hotels.com to help create a dreamy future weekend in Yosemite!

Now more than ever, careful planning is a necessity for every vacation or travel plan. We must do our homework to learn of any restrictions and closures and best understand our chosen destination.

Yosemite is an extremely popular destination all year round, and even if there were no extenuating circumstances, the weather can always provide challenges with road closures and snow.

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A Visit to Joshua Tree National Park Should Be on Your Adventure List!

visit to Joshua Tree National Park

A Visit to Joshua Tree National Park

A visit to Joshua Tree National Park and the town of Joshua Tree will take you away from everyday stress and introduce you to a desert landscape that is so incredibly different from city life!

Recently I have written about finding adventure in woodsy, pine-smelling forests with vast lakes like Lake Tahoe and charming towns like Jackson Hole where the Grand Tetons impress and welcome you.  So today, along with my partner Hotels.com, I share one more destination inspiration! It is time to seek the sandy, rock-climbing terrain of Joshua Tree. We loved it!

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Let’s Escape to Lake Tahoe For Our Next Getaway

escape to Lake Tahoe
Photo: L. Simone

An Escape to Lake Tahoe

Let’s go to the mountains where there are fewer people, fresh air, blue skies, exceptional deep blue water, and views to make you weep. Let’s escape to Lake Tahoe! I am once again working with my friends at Hotels.com to bring you more travel inspiration.

We started visiting Lake Tahoe when our children were little, we traveled there in the winter to ski and in the summer to hike, but with Fall around the corner, it’s time to plan for the leaf-peeping season! It is best to reach out to local hotels to learn about their new COVID protocols and safety guidelines. However, it is getting easier to travel every week that passes by. Fall in Lake Tahoe could be a wonderful first step back toward our love of travel.

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Three of Our Best Cocktail Recipes & Videos for Empty Nesters & Friends

        best cocktail recipes

More of our best cocktail recipes for you!

So the project continues.

Our little video Cocktail Adventure has been moving along and catching speed. You all have been so supportive with your comments and enthusiasm, and we aim to please! Even our non-drinking friends are enjoying this little escape as well!

We began this adventure six weeks ago to connect with everyone stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people are baking amazing new recipes, letting their creative juices flow, and investigating new personal talents. Also, liquor sales have gone up dramatically! Hello? You are making cocktails too!

Not exactly sure how we could contribute, we created Cocktail Adventures, where we film a short 4-5 minute video and offer a little cocktail history, our favorite recipes, and a travel memory that is enhanced by this drink.

My husband Craig does some research, we include our signature recipes, and I add my friendly spin on our travel memories.

Today you are in for a treat! A tasty trifecta of the perfect ingredients and stories as well as the three videos we filmed in one take. Yep, one take. Why waste time on perfection? There’s no such thing!

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Culinary Tourism is So Much Fun :: Learning How to Make Macarons

learning how to make macarons
Holding a partial tray of pistachio macarons after filling

Travel offers so many types of learning experiences

Is learning how to make macarons a worthwhile life skill? To some, not so much, but to the rest of us, baking challenges enhance our culinary skills, create BIG smiles and a happy sense of accomplishment!

As I write this post, we are in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic, and flour is at a premium. It took me two weeks to find five pounds of white flour, and I only have it because my stepfather found it for me! Whoever thought that finding baking flour would be a problem?

However, during this small window of time, many of us are turning to baking as therapy as well as a way to learn a new skill. Some are honing our baking chops to see if we can up our game as well! So far, I have tried my hand at Foccacia and Blueberry Scones – Successfully!

Just a few months ago, when flour was an ingredient I took for granted, I learned how to make macarons. I traveled to Seattle to see our daughter and included this culinary adventure. The class was held at The Pantry and was taught by Marianna Stepniewski, a skilled pastry chef, who showed us many special techniques and offered tips and tricks. After she demonstrated what we needed to do, we tried it ourselves and took turns. We divided into four groups of three and each made a flavor.

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The Tastiest Dishes & Most Delicious Cocktails of 2019

tastiest drinks
A celebratory Piña Colada on a sunny afternoon in Maui

Tasty Dishes & Enticing Cocktails

I began my search for the tastiest dishes of the year by sifting through my photos starting in January. However, by the time I reached the month of June, I had already chosen 30 different tantalizing feasts for the eyes! How to choose?

Be honest, do you want to see that many of my “highlights”? I don’t believe so. Therefore, I carefully looked for colorful, unique meals and surprisingly incredible drinks that are worth celebrating once again. A few of them are favorites due to their unique nature or element of surprise!

I have narrowed down this list to a more manageable number and I hope you enjoy revisiting them as much as I do!

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