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Hello Again…..

Well, I’m back. I had intended to retire this blog all together, change my email address and simplify my online life. You know, a clean break. I really have not spent much time on the computer at all, because I have been living my life. My word for 2013 was MORE (I wrote about it here, one of the two – yes two, blog posts of 2013). 

I was going to experience MORE spending time with friends, getting outside and enjoying the fresh air, Yoga, travel, walking the dog, hugs and kisses, game nights, girls nights, card playing, schooling, reading, random acts of kindness, exploring and living. Well I wasn’t perfect but I did A LOT of all of the above.

2013 brought a lot of fun. I am still dating B and we have a blast together. Here are some highlights with LOTS of links.

  • Went with my mom down to Long Beach, WA for a long weekend. My sister and her family joined us later. We saw a snowy owl and played lots of Cribbage and Scotland Yard
  • Went to the Northwest Flower & Garden Show.
  • B and I attended the Steampunk Exhibition Ball at Seattle’s new location for the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI).
  • Had a work party to help out around mom’s house.
  • Toured both Lemay car museums (B had one of his cars in one).
  • Watched B play Flaming Tetherball at the Hazard Factory.
  • Finally took the Seattle Underground Tour and took my second (B’s first) ride on The Duck with a bunch of people from B’s car club. Had an AMAZING bloody Mary with Sriracha!
  • Took B to the Cirque du Soliel show Amaluna.
  • B and I played Smash Putt (21+ miniature golf – with lazers and other fun stuff)!
  • Helped B’s friend clear out items from their family property. Cars and fabric and photos oh my!
  • Went to Lewiston, ID to visit B’s grandparents. On the way back swung through my alma matter’s home town. Go Cougs!
  • Went camping several times in B’s vanagon.
  • Had a Stone Vertical Epic beer tasting – yes all twelve.
  • Went to a few car shows. One of which I got very badly sunburned at. Finally went to the All British Field meet my birthday weekend.
  • We spent part of the July 4th weekend at the Vintage Car Races where B got to drive his Ghia around the track and then went to a lake house shooting off water balloons from a giant slingshot in the yard and kayaking the lake.
  • To finish off my birthday weekend we took a ferry to a friends parents property, watched Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark on a ginormous screen in their backyard, played extreme croquet (although there was no fire) and camped out.
  • A friend turned a school bus in to a giant party bus and we took that for a spin for a picnic.
  • Attended in costume the Midsummer Renaissance Faire where we saw the Cirque du Sewer, Cavallo Equestrian Arts and a “ribald and raunchy comedy” by the Les Bouffons des Battes.
  • Had a BBQ at my sisters where B was introduced to the lawn game of Kubb and we played more Extreme Croquet.
  • Became a mugger at Special Brews.
  • Fostered a sweet kitty named Bella for three months until we could find her a forever home.
  • B and I went rafting down the Yakima River with Beej. He had a little life jacket and did very well.
  • Met my mom in Chelan for a winery overnight.
  • Attended a craft night at a gal’s house I only knew from the blogworld.
  • B and I attended the fifth annual Steamcon – of course in costume. I sucked my friend Megan in to all things Steamy, she’s hooked! While at Steamcon B and I learned how to rap Steamy style (Chap Hop) with Professor Elemental. I participated in a fencing demonstration presented by the fine folks at the Salle Saint – George fencing school on the gentlemanly way to defend yourself with a cane.
  • B and I attended two Burlesque shows (Lost In Space & The Naughty Nutcracker).
  • B and I participated in a Steampunk photo shoot (yes I wore a corset) at Gas Works Park.
  • B and I Went to Wild Lights at the Woodland Park Zoo (we rode the Carousel).
  • Made a few crafty items, sewed a few things and even knit something.
  • Played a LOT of cribbage with B while drinking yummy craft beer.
  • I did attend Yoga off and on. Managed to mess up both of my knees at two separate times and came down with that hacking cough crud twice.
  • B is re-teaching me the card game Magic: The Gathering.
  • Had a game night a few weeks ago and we played Cards Against Humanity. Got two people hooked on the game.

So, my year was pretty full and I enjoyed it immensely! What’s in store for 2014? Well, certainly more of the above. B and I have tentative plans to see Cavalia and would love to see the Burlesque Alice in Wonderland. More Smash Putt, Flaming Tetherball and Steampunk events, cross country skiing, kayaking, fencing classes, the Dead Baby Downhill and my mom and I are traveling to Greece in October.



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The Beginning is The End

It has been four months since my last post and A LOT lot has changed in that time. I am an active participant in the course my life is taking. To that end, I have decided to retire “Take Life With A Grain of Chocolate” and create an entirely new blog.

Although I have not fleshed out the exact content, some things have not changed about me like my love of Steampunk, repurposing, Indie film, simplicity and of course my dog. Some new changes ahead will also be featured and we will get in to those when the time is right.

My divorce is not finalized yet but will soon be completely in my past. The lessons my marriage and divorce are teaching me are currently being incorporated in to my new life. My blog is a positive place and meant to focus on what I enjoy and what I feel brings meaning to the world as I see it.

I met a wonderful man who I care deeply about and who embodies the true meaning of all that I hold dear. I feel so very lucky and we have the best times together. I was not looking for it but it found me and it’s darn good!

For now I am still in our condo, I will be getting a new (to me) car and I have custody of the dog. I am focusing on the important things in my life. I have scaled back and have spent much time reflecting on where I am headed. The journey is going to be full of new experiences and surprises for certain.

I made wonderful friends on this blogging journey and I have benefitted from the process of getting thoughts out of my head and down on “paper”. To those of you who have followed me I appreciate you and please join me on my new journey.

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Looking Ahead to MORE

I am ready to step in to 2013 with a fresh outlook. A year ago today I returned to my previous place of employment and that has been a blessing. But this year, has been a hard one with more loss and heartbreak than I would like to repeat any time soon or at all.

This year has also brought me not only great new friends and strengthening current relationships with others, it has brought me so much more clarity for my life and what I want out of it. I have a few things to finalize in the new year and it could take a bit of time but I no longer live in the past.

So for this year to come, there is but a single thought and goal to my life. I will do MORE.

More of everything that I love to do, more spending time with my excellent tribe of friends and family, more getting outside and enjoying the fresh air and nature, more Yoga, more travel, more walking my dog, more hugs, more kisses, more game nights, more girls nights, more sewing, more knitting, more Geocashing, more listening, more card playing, more schooling, more reading, more random acts of kindsness, more exploring, more LIVING!

Watch out world – you ain’t seen nothing yet!


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Holy babies Batman!

I have been super busy of late and not really been reading blogs like I normally do. This morning I had time to sit down and hit up some of my faves and BOY am I missing out! Two of my favorite bloggers and online friends are having babies. When did I miss that?

Um apparently a little while ago.

Mrs. Stephanie at Brooklyn Limestone is having a baby! She’s due at the end of this year and I can’t wait to find out her plans for the baby’s room. First they have to find out if they are having a boy or a girl.

Mrs. Crystal at Brunette on a Budget is also having a baby! Not to mention they bought a house, a second car and got a second dog. She is having a little girl and the nursery is coming along wonderfully. Check out the French Provicial trash to treasure post.

Congratulations to you both (sorry I dropped off the face of the earth)!


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I am my father’s daughter…

Sadly last Saturday July 14, 2012 at 5:30 AM my father lost his battle with a brain tumor. He was loved and will be missed by many. I posted about him a few months back here.

In meeting with the priest at my parents church Sunday he asked about memories we had of him. I came to realize that I am my father’s daughter. We have the same crazy personality and sense of humor. We have the same cheeks. We have the same basic outlook on life. I will miss him terribly.

Dad was born in Perryville, MO November 26, 1937. He was the youngest of six children, 2 sisters and 3 brothers. He graduated from McBride High School in St. Louis. In his teens he worked at the historic Fox Theater, which furthered his love of movies. After a brief stint at Washington University he decided to go to auto mechanic school, laying the foundation for a lifelong passion.

Here he is below with his dad and all his siblings and their spouses.

From left to right. First row: my Aunt Gwen (dad’s oldest sister), my aunt Phil (sister), Aunt Betty, my mom, Aunt Phil and Aunt Reba. Back row: Uncle Jack, a different Uncle Jack, Uncle Lee (my dad’s oldest brother), Grandpa, my dad, Uncle Bud and Uncle Dan.

Looking for some direction dad attempted to enlist in the army. He and two friends went down to the local recruiter and signed up on the “buddy system”. Dad didn’t pass the physical exam due to his eyesight and his other friend didn’t pass the written exam. So his third friend went in to the army alone on the “buddy system”. Ironically he ended up in the same unit as Elvis Presley, whom dad was a big fan.

In 1961 dad’s brother Felix (known as Bud to family and friends) asked him if he wanted to move out to Seattle with him. Dad accepted and never looked back.

In Seattle dad worked in the printing industry. Through the Chancellor club, he met and fell in love with a wonderful woman. Shirley Strum, who would eventually become his wife and mother to us three kids; myself, my sister Denise & my brother Mark. He made quite a first impression by stating his job title was “stripper” which is the industry name for lithographer.

Dad was always ready to laugh and tell story after story. Family game night was a particular pleasure and he was tough to beat at Trivial Pursuit. Often after much internal deliberation where the family was all required to be silent, he would pull some obscure factoids from out of nowhere.

Travel was a passion he shared with mom. He always found a way to put together a family vacation whether it was flying to Disney World or road tripping to Yellowstone. I remember we borrowed our Uncle Buds “Mini Wini” and during a particularly violent rainstorm – us three kids had to take turns sitting behind mom in the passenger seat and holding a towel over her head. Over the years, especially after retirement, he looked forward to adventures in faraway places. He and mom traveled to China, Mexico, England and enjoyed several cruises including Alaska and Mexico.

Dad enjoyed working on restoring his cars, specifically Studebakers of which he rebuilt three from scratch. Below are photos of his 1963 Avanti and 1962 Grand Tourismo Hawk. In recent years he loved driving his Porsche Boxster. Having three children in their teens there was no shortage of putting his mechanic skills to good use. He would often answer the phone when my brother called with “what’s wrong with the car now”?

Recently on the fourth of July I was with a friend and his two boys and one of the boys pointed out a plant and asked me if I knew what the flower was called. I immediately without thinking too much about it quoted my dad “well, it’s an aint rose”. My friend’s son looked at me quizzically. I explained my mother is fond of gardening and my dad could never remember the names of all the flowers in her garden. He would say, “there are two kinds of flowers, roses and aint roses. That’s how I keep them straight. If this aint a rose, then it’s an aint rose”. That of course sent my friend’s son in to fits of laughter.

Dad was a person who everyone knew. He loved people and would always chose his friends. He was fun to be around and everyone cherished the advice, love and care which he had to share. You were taken before your time and I love you!

My car has been in the shop and I have been driving my dad’s Porsche Boxster. Yesterday I took him for his last spin from the church to the cemetery.

To quote one of dad’s favorite movies, “Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it”.

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Eastern Washington Wine Country

Friday my mom and I headed over the mountains to Eastern Washington wine country. Even though we left in the late morning it still took us almost 45 minutes to make it over the pass. We stopped to stretch our legs and have a picnic lunch we had packed. We heard later that evening it was taking some people up to 4 hours!

After checking in to our hotel in Sunnyside we headed out to do some wine tasting. We went to the wine village in Prosser which has about ten wineries. First stop was at Airfield Estates Winery where I bought a bottle of Mustang a red wine which is a mix of Syrah, Grenache, Sinsault, Mourvedre and Counoise grapes. Their tasting room was really great. Lots of leather seating and plane inspired memorabilia. I asked who were the fliers at the winery and was told they grow their grapes where there used to be an old airfield.

Next stop was Willow Crest Winery where my mom bought a bottle of their Riesling. Our last stop of the day was at Milbrandt Winery where they have a restaurant as well. The tasting sheet listed suggested food pairings to go along with the different wines.

Our hotel room had a fridge and microwave so we were able to bring food with us and save money not eating out for every meal. This particular hotel also provided a hot breakfast in the morning. Eggs, potatoes, biscuits & gravy, sausage, cereal and waffles. There was something for everyone. Our room had a winery view as well.

Saturday morning we headed back to Prosser to the Farmer’s Market and stopped at Chukar Cherries where we were able to sample many of the treats they offer in their gift shop. The cherry chipotle jam was to die for! We stopped at another gift shop down the street and then headed off for our wine tastings of the day.

First stop was Desert Wind Winery where my mom and I shared a tasting. My mom ended up buying a bottle of their Tempranillo which was amazing. They also had suggested pairings on their tasting list and the smells coming from their restaurant were divine.

We took the Yakima Valley highway for the next stop on our winery tour and had the opportunity to get out and take some photos of hop fields and a vineyard.

In Outlook we stopped at Tefft Cellars. This place was really off the beaten path and we were the only ones there so were able to chat with the gal there for quite a bit. She had us try some port. I had mentioned that a friend said there was a winery in the area that had an amazing chocolate Port. My mom purchased a Pinot Grigio and a Chardonnay and we headed off to our next stop.

In Zillah we stopped at Horizon’s Edge Winery where I was excited to taste some ports including the chocolate one I had heard so much about. This tasting room had the best fee. Only $3 per person and you could go to their sister winery down the road and present your punch card and taste there as well. So, two tastings for $3. They had five ports to try and they were all really good. The Cream Sherry was not too sweet and heavy which was nice. Of course my mom and I loved and both purchased the Wishful Thinking Chocolate Port. They had a raspberry as well but it was a bit too syrupy for my taste. It did go nicely with the chocolate – raspberries and chocolate, two of my favorite combos! There was a small picnic table outside so mom and I had a small lunch we had packed and continued on our way.

Down the road we stopped at Horizon’s sister winery Maison de Padgett where we sampled more ports. They also had five offerings. They were out of the vanilla which was disappointing. The peach was way too much for me. They had an apple port which I thought was interesting and not too bad. The one I walked away with was the Smoking Gun Coffee Port. I can’t wait to try mixing the chocolate and coffee together! Both of these Horizon’s Edge and Maison de Padgett also had very reasonable prices for their wines.

While at Maison de Padgett we experienced our first bus load of winery tourists. It was a good thing we got there when we did because soon the tasting room became packed with people in colorful leis!

My mom wanted to go to Saturday evening church services so I went down to a little cafe near our hotel and had a coffee. Near the patio there was a very large iron Eiffel Tower – forgot to get a photo of that. It was wonderful to sit out on the patio with my iced coffee. Even though it got to 73 that day there was a wind blowing which was nice and warm and comfortable.

That evening for dinner I was feeling Italian. We headed back to Prosser to Tuscany Rustic Italian Bistro. We celebrated our winery weekend with before dinner drinks. I had a Grey Goose dirty martini and my mom had an Appletini. I had the Bistecca Gorgonzola which was a grilled fillet topped with sun-dried tomatoes, onions, gorgonzola cheese and a Demiglaze balsamic reduction. It came with green beans and a house salad. My mom had the Salmon Florentine which was salmon topped with spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes and bleu cheese over lemon pasta also with a house salad. We washed our dinner down with plenty of water and a glass of Airfield Estates Runway Cabernet Sauvignon.

The next morning we ate another fabulous breakfast, checked out of our hotel and headed to Toppenish. This small town’s claim to fame is a series of 72 murals painted on buildings around town. Most reflect like in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. My favorite mural was the Polo one. We got out and walked around. The amazing thing my mom noticed was that none of the murals had any graffiti on them. Downtown was small and cute and clean.

We headed back to Zillah to Silver Lake Winery which my mom is a member of. Again here we chose to share a tasting. They were getting ready for an afternoon barbecue and it smelled amazing. The view of the vineyard was truly breathtaking.

Our last stop before heading for home was in Wapato called Piety Flats Winery. Their tasting room was inside the Donald Fruit and Mercantile built in 1911 that also housed a gift shop. This area was the first in the Yakima valley to have irrigation.

We headed west and stop for lunch again before making it home in the afternoon. In was a jam-packed two days and nice to get away.

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When life gives you grapes – you make wine…..

I stated in a post a couple of days ago that a loved one of mine is very ill. It’s my father and it tears me up. Many of you family and friends know the details but I have had a number of people ask what is going on. I am finally ready to share.

We noticed during Christmas of 2010 that he seemed to be more tired than normal as well as really irritable. As the days went on he was able to use less and less of his left side. He went to the doctor in August and the doctor told him not to drive home. For a guy like my dad who LIVES AND BREATHES CARS it was devastating for him. Especially since his current ride is a Porsche Boxter. My husband and I retrieved his car and parked it in the garage. A few weeks later, my father had a tumor removed from his brain. We were grateful because it was benign.

Below is a photo of my husband in my dad’s car on a trip we took for our anniversary a couple of years ago. That road was full of switchbacks and was so fun! This is the car that he wants to get behind the wheel of again.

However, the remainder of the tumor that the surgeons couldn’t get grew back. Even though we don’t have an official diagnosis of Cancer, he underwent radiation and chemo. He started in February if I remember correctly, the first week my mom got him to and from the hospital OK. That weekend he slept – all weekend. When my mom had to run out for a while I checked on him. Yep still sleeping.

Monday night I got a call from my mom asking for help (we don’t live that far away). My dad had fallen off the couch and she was not strong enough to get him back on. My husband and I went over to help. It took the three of us an hour to get him from the floor in front of the couch to the couch. Needless to say he slept downstairs that night. I remember vividly how helpless my dad seemed. He was relying on us for help and he was in so much pain. I remember looking at him and thinking if this was my husband I would do whatever it took to help him and make him comfortable. It really shook my husband and I up.

When the physical therapist came the next morning they wanted to take him back to the hospital.

He has not been home ever since.

Through the progression of what is going on with him. His left side has become useless. He went through five more weeks of chemo and radiation and that was interrupted by two hospital stays because he was dehydrated. His kidneys even failed a couple times. He has been either in a nursing home or the hospital. Just shy of two weeks ago he finished his radiation and chemo and is now in an adult family home. The first few times I visited all he would do was sleep and I would sit there in his room sending him love and healing thoughts. He’s been more awake of late and we are encouraged by his progression. There is a dog that lives at the home named Mac. He’s an Australian Shepard Lab mix. He’s a three-month old puppy and so sweet and soft. He loves sleeping under my dad’s bed and I like to think that gives him comfort.

Last Saturday I took my dad’s car out for the day. It was sunny and I had the top down. I went to visit him and told him he needs to learn to walk again so I can take him for a spin in his car and my husband wants to take him to Cars and Coffee which is a local meetup for guys who love cars.

It’s been a rough road and I have other things on my mind. I try to stay positive and my mom and I have grown closer through this. We are going to eastern Washington tomorrow for two days to enjoy some wineries and relax.

We both need it.

Please send healing thoughts my dad’s way.


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