A backyard that lives up to the chicken coop!

We had some work done on the back yard. Here are some before and after pictures.

In the front of the yard, we added another parking space.

The entrance from the driveway before
and after!

In front of the main entrance to the house, we removed the cracked and concave concrete patio and put in a brick patio.


We have a nice flat grassy area that isn’t super lumpy and hard to mow! Hoping we can keep Oval from digging in it.

after- planning to get a hot tub for the gravel pad someday!

We have a water line running to the coop now too! Once we get it set up, no more leaving the hose out all the time.

after- a big raised bed for veggies (if we can keep the dogs and the deer out)!

Can’t wait for the sun to come out, so we can fully take advantage of all the great outdoor spaces we have now.

Before and After… finally.

After more than 2 years, we are finally posting some before and after photos from the house renovation! We had great timing and finished up just before COVID hit. If you have to spend a couple years in and out of isolation, this has been a pretty great place to do it. We are really looking forward to finally getting visitors more regularly.

The kitchen is definitely our hang out spot. We took down a wall to expand the space available for it and transformed it from a dark galley kitchen to an open space. We have really loved cooking in it!


We brighten up this hallway by removing the wrought iron and putting in a half-wall and removing the wood paneling.

We removed a lot of wood paneling. In the front door entryway, we added some windows to brighten up the space as well.

Front Door Entryway

We left some of the wood paneling… This is looking the other way down the main hallway, on the right after the hallway is the entryway, then the kitchen. You can see the wall that we removed to make more space for the kitchen. The house is pretty open and a lot brighter.

main hallway looking back towards the kitchen

There was a giant bathroom that served as both the master bathroom and guest bathroom. We split it into two bathrooms.

master bathroom

The deck was what we fell in love with when we were looking at the house. The views from the deck are amazing. We look out into a valley that is all forest lands. There are some houses down below us, but when you look out you don’t see them, even at night.

finished deck
views looking out from the deck

Bret built an amazing new home for the chickies. We now have seven of them!

Next up will be a big outdoor project to fix up our patio! More to come this spring.

We went to Italy and Bret turned 40!!

Mt Vesuvius

Bret had a conference in Naples, so I decided to tag along!

After a long flight, we got to Naples early on a Saturday morning. Our hotel room was not quite ready for us, so we spent the morning wandering around our neighborhood and taking in the sites.

In the afternoon, I got a quick shower in, then headed straight back to the airport. I left Bret in Naples to conference and I flew to Geneva to visit Cinda, Danny, their boys, and their new puppy Mousse! It was a quick turn around, but it was well worth it. We got out on the lake, ate well, and probably had a glass of wine or two. It was such a treat!

I got back to Naples in time for the end of Bret’s conference and HIS 40th BIRTHDAY!!! True to Bret, he wanted to keep it low key. He went to the last sessions of his conference in the morning, then we took a train out to Herculaneum, a town that was buried in the Mt Vesuvius eruption of 79 AD. We explored the town for the afternoon, then returned to Naples for a lovely dinner on the water.

The next morning, we jumped on an early ferry to Ischia to kick off the vacation part of the trip!

We were in Ischia for three days. In the mornings, we explored the nearby Aragonese Castle and some nearby towns. In the afternoons, we swam in the ocean and relaxed on the deck. We also ate well and had some great local wines.

Then we were on to Sorrento! We loved Sorrento. While we did not get to stay right on the water like we did in Ischia, we found a very nice and quiet B&B tucked into an alley in the heart of busy Sorrento. The first night, we returned to a restaurant Bret enjoyed on his previous visit to Sorrento, Trattoria da Emilia and drank my namesake rosato!

The next day we got up early and took the first ferry to Capri. We bussed to the Anacapri side of the island and took at single chairlift to the top of the mountain. The views of Naples Bay and the Amalfi Coast were pretty great.

After, we wandered around the town of Capri a bit. We saw this cool sculpture made of old bike chains. Then we headed back to Sorrento for another delicious dinner.

The next morning, we walked out to the Regina Giovanna Bath. The views of Sorrento were pretty great on the way out. Then we got to swim around in some ancient Roman ruins and have lunch out on the rocks.

The next morning, we were up early again and we took a bus to Positano. We wanted to hike the Path of the Gods from Nocelle to Bomerano , but first we had to climb 1,700 steps to get from the road to Nocelle.

We made it up the stairs and enjoyed all the amazing views along the 4-mile trail. It was a little crowded on the return hike, but we loved it.

When we made it back to Positano, we had well-deserved and amazing lunch on the waterfront followed by a swim at the public beach.

We decide to spend our last day in Italy lounging at a beach club in Sorrento. We swam around, relaxed, and ate until the afternoon, when we had to hop a train back to Naples.

We went to the one with the yellow umbrellas in the distance.

We spent one last night in Naples on the 9th floor with a view that could not be beat. We fell asleep to the sounds of fireworks and marching bands, although we could not figure out what exactly they were celebrating. It sounded super fun!

It was an amazing trip! We loved everything we did and got to come home relaxed and rejuvenated.

We bought a new house!!!!

Uh oh! What have we done? It was built in 1966 and has some nice bones and the best views around, but needs a lot of work. First up is a new roof, deck, carport, and septic. We’ll see how much we still love it in six months. For now, we are enjoying cocktails on the deck and trying to figure out what we want to do inside! Hotel Bosco will hopefully open for business by the end of 2019, book your trip soon!

The Steens and the Bend Beer Chase

Bret and I spent some time on the east side of the Cascades the last two weekends.

The Steens

Memorial Day weekend, we took advantage of Bret’s extra day off and drove out to the Steens Mountains.  It was a lot of time in the car, but we were rewarded with a pretty nice camping spot and a real pretty hike.

We were also rewarded with several snake sightings, a lot of ticks and mosquitoes, and a tired puppy dog.

Bend Beer Chase

This past weekend, we participated in the Bend Beer Chase for the second year.  It is a 52-mile relay race.  This year, we pulled it off with just four runners (last year we had six).  The Cascadia Drinking Alliance consisted of me, Bret, Lauren, and Cindy and our amazing volunteers, Ed and Jason.

Here is a before picture of Cindy, Lauren, and I.  All smiles.

The race start

The only hand-offs I managed to catch were of Cindy handing the baton (a slap bracelet) off to Lauren.  It is starting to get warm in the first shot and officially hot by the second.

I think these really capture how much Lauren loves running.

A post-race, beer leg photo from Atlas Cider in Bend.

The race was super fun, especially in retrospect.  It was definitely more difficult with a team of four, but we had a great team and everyone stayed positive despite the heat and the extra miles.  I am pretty sure the beer tastings available at every exchange probably helped with the smiles and good attitudes.

Thanks so much to our designated driver, Jason, and our super volunteer, Ed.  Ed got accolades for being a great volunteer from the race staff and I can attest to the superiority of his flag waiving skills compared to other team’s volunteers.



The ladies take on Santa Catalina Island and celebrate some birthdays!

I had the chance to head down to southern California and spend the weekend with some of the greatest ladies I know last weekend.  Three of my friends just happen to have been born in succession, Jan 6th (Ramona), 7th (Lauren), and 8th (Erin).  They let a couple of Emilys join them for a weekend of backpacking and shenanigans.

We met up in LA on Thursday and explore Redondo Beach.  I am not going to brag, but I may have schooled Erin Kelly in some Skee ball that day.  We combined our skee ball tickets to acquire the purple snake, Lucille.

Ramona’s sister, Raquel, and Raquel’s partner, Tom, were kind enough to let us crash at their house Thursday night.  They also had a delicious cake to kick off the birthday celebrations!

Birthday #1, Ramona

We jumped on the ferry to Santa Catalina Island on Friday morning.  Ramona wears the ceremonial purple snake, Lucille.

We arrived at Two Harbors, after a two hour ferry ride, ready to put on our packs and get going.  Did I mention that this was a backpacking trip?

Our hike on the Trans Catalina Trail started out steep and muddy, but quickly offered some amazing views!

and Bison!!!

It turns out, some bison were brought to Santa Catalina Island in the 1920s to create some ambiance for a western film.  They left 14 when they finished filming and now there is a population of about 140 that graze across the island.

Our campsite was on the beach at Little Harbor.

Birthday #2, Lauren

We woke up Saturday morning to the sounds of the 17-mile aid station for a 50 mile trail run across Santa Catalina island.  The race had started at 5am and runners were still looking pretty strong!

We hiked back up into the mountains to the airport in the sky, where we stopped for a midday beer.

We made it to camp early enough to hike a couple more miles to an ironwood grove.  On the way back, we caught a nice sunset.

and we found a tire swing!

Birthday #3, Erin

The next day was our longest day on the trail and it gave us so many  beautiful vistas!  Beware of the prickly pear.

We arrived in Avalon that afternoon and explored the town a bit and grabbed some dinner and beers.

Final Day, no more birthdays 🙁

We woke up to a rainy day morning and packed things up one last time before jumping on the ferry back to LA.

We had enough time to shower back in Redondo Beach before hoping on our flights and scattering back to our respective homes.

Thanks ladies for an amazing weekend!  It was so nice to escape the cold weather for a couple days and hang out with such a fun group!

Race Report: Mary’s Peak 25k

There is a subtle, but significant difference between 25k and 17 miles.  At about 12 miles, I was feeling pretty good.  I dug pretty pretty hard from miles 13 to mile 15.5, thinking I was about to be done.  I used every fiber of my being not to cry for the last mile or so, when I saw the “1 mile to go” sign well after I though I should be finishing.   But I didn’t cry and I robot pounded my way to the finish.  I even managed a smile for the super psyched guy at the finish line (He ran the 50k and passed me. I was still smiling when he passed me because I thought I was less than a mile from the finish, and he told me that everything is great if you are still smiling at the end).  Other than the distance and the 2500 ft of climbing, it was a pretty nice race.  I got the full gamut of Oregon weather, light misty rain, heavy downpour rain, wind, thunder, sunshine.  I got to run some lovely single track and forest roads through mostly forest plantations.

blisters: 1

chafe: minimal

realizations: 2  (1.  don’t take race recommendations from really fit 20- something boys and 2. it is really nice to have a cool husband who will drive you home from the ridiculous runs you choose to go on)

holes in shoe with matching hole in sock : 1 (plenty enough to catch every twig on Mary’s peak)

race swag:  yes, that is a tecnu coin purse (everyone wants to think about poison oak while counting out change), finisher’s pint glass (much better than a useless medal), beer (the finish was at a school, so you couldn’t actually drink it), and t-shirt (yeah a white one!).

time I am going to go to sleep tonight: maybe now.



Also, I wrote a post about a month ago with the following pictures (probably in a different order), but it never posted (user error):

Ladies weekend with my bestie, Lauren (back in April).  Only our healthy activities are documented in the following pictures.

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Bainbridge Island with the lovely Fiscus Family (I may have found a new dream home-  the last picture)

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a couple pictures I loved that Bret didn’t post from our trip to Minneapolis

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I ran this half-marathon in May with Lauren.  Well, Lauren and I both ran it (she is a lot faster than me).



I rode my bike up McKenzie pass on a cold, rainy day with my awesome friend, German.



One last cute picture of Oval.  After our very, very slow walk this afternoon.


Some pictures from Charleston

I got to have nice long visit with my family in Charleston a couple weeks ago.  My first visit to my folks new home in the south.

Brian, Dad, and I went fishing out on the oyster flats in the rain the day I arrived.


Brian took care of the fly fishing.


Dad and I took care of the actually catching fish.


The weather felt familiar for the first few days (cold and rainy), but we got some nicer days towards the end of the week.  We made it out to Capers Island for a picnic.  A different sort of snag forest than I am used too.

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We had a guest appearance from our good friends, Diana and James.  I dragged them down from North Carolina to run a 10k with Kim and me.  Here is our before shot.



A couple shots from the run over the cooper river.

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worst selfie ever (but kind of hilarious).


after shot at Minero’s for post race lunch.DSC_1376

My folks and Rocky were nice enough to pick us up in Charleston by boat, so we would not have to take the bus home (the bridge into Charleston was closed for the run).

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After the weekend, the crowds cleared out at the Comfort Inn, and Kim, Rocky, my Mom, and I got to go see the Angel live oak.  Pictures do not do justice to what a massive and pretty tree this is.

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It was a great trip and I was very sad to say farewell, but it was nice to get home to these two.

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Thanks for holding down the fort and taking care of our growing posse of ladies, Bret!