Our PNW adventure

Our adventure in the PNW | RISING*SHINING Our adventure in the PNW | RISING*SHINING

In October Chris and I took our first trip without the boys since Cedric was born. We chose the Pacific Northwest because it's so completely different from where we live in Arizona. Although we're learning to love the desert we still crave trees that are tall and abundant, green, rain, cold and water. We knew we'd find it all in the Pacific Northwest. And we did.

Visiting our country's national parks is something I want to spend the rest of my life doing so we set our sights on Olympic National Park with our last night in Seattle to visit Chris's brother and to eat at Delancey.

Chris's sister so generously offered to keep the boys during our four-night trip and Chris's mom helped out a lot as well. We were a bit anxious to leave them, just the general parent worry, but knew they would be in the best hands and have a great time. Once we got on our way and heard they were doing doing I was able to put my worry aside and fully relax. 

From start to finish our trip was everything I had hoped it would be - perhaps even more. Our Airbnb cabin overlooked a rushing river and had a cozy gas stove. We basked in incredible scenery, hiked in ancient forests, took in the view from a windy, cold mountain top and combed the seashore. We ate well at every single meal, didn't feel rushed or overwhelmed with multi-tasking, and had long and uninterrupted conversations. I read an entire book start to finish and the latest issue of The New Yorker. I didn't check social media or email once (the best). 

Our adventure in the PNW | RISING*SHINING Our adventure in the PNW | RISING*SHINING Our adventure in the PNW | RISING*SHINING

It's hard to pick favorites but two days in particular stand out. On our first day we did several short hikes in Olympic National Park, lunched at Lake Crescent Lodge (roaring fire, moose on the wall, dining room overlooking the clear lake and grey day), soaked in slippery sulphur hot springs for three hours surrounded by evergreen trees with occasional chilly rain and felt rejuvenated physically, mentally and emotionally. We ended the day watching the third presidential debate (the first we'd be able to watch) next to the gas stove with wine, cheese, crackers and ice cream. A perfect, perfect day.

Our adventure in the PNW | RISING*SHINING Our adventure in the PNW | RISING*SHINING Our adventure in the PNW | RISING*SHINING Our adventure in the PNW | RISING*SHINING

The other stand out day was the second to last. As we drove up to Hurricane Ridge the temperature dropped 30 degrees and the fall color was nearly unbelievable. We listened to political podcasts covering the election the entire way. Then we headed toward Seattle via ferry (Chris says the ferry ride is one of his favorite parts of the trip!) and checked into our posh Ballard hotel. We played dice at Essex, I discovered the Americano cocktail and then had a long conversation with Chris's brother. Followed by the best meal and deep conversation at Delancey including cookies and ice cream. I asked for a signed menu and was so generously given one.

Our adventure in the PNW | RISING*SHINING Our adventure in the PNW | RISING*SHINING Our adventure in the PNW | RISING*SHINING Our adventure in the PNW | RISING*SHINING Our adventure in the PNW | RISING*SHINING Our adventure in the PNW | RISING*SHINING Our adventure in the PNW | RISING*SHINING

I'd love to share our favorite recommendations from the trip (after a few more pictures....)!

Our adventure in the PNW | RISING*SHINING Our adventure in the PNW | RISING*SHINING Our adventure in the PNW | RISING*SHINING Our adventure in the PNW | RISING*SHINING Our adventure in the PNW | RISING*SHINING Our adventure in the PNW | RISING*SHINING Our adventure in the PNW | RISING*SHINING Our adventure in the PNW | RISING*SHINING Our adventure in the PNW | RISING*SHINING

Ancient Groves hike

Exploring Lake Crescent

Sol Duc Hot Springs - highly recommend!

Clallam Bay

(We were bummed to discover that the roads to Rialto Beach and the Hoh Rainforest were not open due to storms the previous spring.)

Ballard Locks and salmon ladder


Barhop (recommended by a Matrimoney listener, thank you Jill!) - great pizza and the Ediz Hook IPA was delicious.

Lake Crescent Lodge

Alder Wood Bistro

Puffin on 101

Country Aire Natural Market (another great recommendation from Jill)



Portage Bay Cafe for breakfast


Cozy cabin on a river in Port Angeles, WA

Hotel Ballard (Chris had a hard time sleeping through noise from the bar across the street, I didn't notice it but I'm a deep sleeper)

  Our adventure in the PNW | RISING*SHINING

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh. Which is the sound of me remembering how lovely and relaxing our trip was. If I missed some of your favorites please share, we'd love to go back hopefully before too long.

What fills you up?


Last Saturday, in those long hours between nap and dinner, the boys were getting restless and so was I. Chris was happy to be at home with Cedric and so Dashiell and I made plans for an outing. First, we headed to the library where we walked hand in hand through the doors and Dashiell returned our books through the slot, one by one. We stopped by the giant doll house behind glass and searched for the hidden pumpkins, as is the theme this season, before combing the shelves in the children's section. 

After filling our canvas bag and checking out our books I told Dash I wanted to go to the plant store next. It was late afternoon at the nursery and few other people were browsing. The sun was low and the temperature perfect. Dash pointed out all the flowers to me and asked me to smell many of them. I snapped pictures of plants with my phone and Dashiell enjoyed exploring on his own and let me know proudly, "I'll just go this way and meet you over there." We met the nursery cat in the back near the trees and pet her belly when she showed it to us. I didn't buy anything but left feeling so relaxed and fulfilled. I kept thinking about the outing, the library and the nursery, for the rest of the weekend and into my full week. Just thinking of it now makes me smile.

Later that weekend Chris went out for a couple hours on his own and when we came back had a report from a local music store where he looked at banjos, pianos and acoustic guitars. He was content and energized. I laughed a bit to myself, thinking of how we'd found the same thing but at different places and how Chris's outing was so perfectly Chris and how mine was so perfectly Kelsey.

My go-to thought when I have a bit of time is to be productive - to work on my blog, or podcasts or to get a task done. And being productive and working on projects I'm passionate about is fulfilling, but it's not the same contented energy I got from my library  and nursery outing with Dashiell. And so I've been thinking about the things that fill me up, especially of the the easily accessible, free and screen-free variety. Here's what I've come up with:

+ Wandering through a plant nursery 

+ Browsing at the library

+ Drinking coffee outside, with content and independent children playing nearby :)

+ Watering plants

+ Looking through cookbooks and cooking magazines

+ Cooking from a recipe while listening to a podcast

+ Reading

+ My evening skincare routine of tonerexfoliator, and moisturizer

+ Painting my nails while listening to a podcast

+ Going on a walk, especially at the nearby Riparian Preserve

+ Outings with just one of my boys. Being out with the whole family, or both boys on my own, can be fun but it can also be a lot of management. Being out with just one feels so easy and relaxing, it feels like I'm winning at parenting.

+ Playing dice or cards during an afternoon date with Chris over beer or coffee (not free, especially if a babysitter is needed, but a favorite activity for sure)

Certainly many other things in my life are fulfilling and fun but these are the things that feel purely enjoyable and don't feel like "work" in any way. As I brainstormed what would be on a my list I found a common theme of not being rushed. I enjoy most things, even a trip to Trader Joe's, if I can go at my own pace. And this made me realize how often I need to multi-task during my days - both at home and at work - and how much I dislike multi-tasking. In some parts of my life it's a necessity but I could look for ways to cut down on the need to multi-task. For example, prepping all lunches the night before means less multi-tasking the next morning. And closing my email application at work means I don't see new email notifications pop up.

Putting together this list reminds me that there are simple things I can do to recharge, and it's so interesting to see the common theme of taking my time. I am a creature of habit, as will be a surprise to no one, and among all the other things on my to-do lists I want to remember to do the things that are purely Kelsey

I'd love to know what fills you up and make you feel like you!

Weekend in Flagstaff


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Last weekend, Chris and I escaped the Valley heat and spent two nights in Flagstaff, just the two of us! It was our first time to go away together since Dash was born and it. was. awesome. I took a paltry three photos so I fail as a blogger but as a gal spending a relaxing weekend with her husband I think I get an A+.

The weather was perrrrrfect and by that I mean NOT HOT. I wore jeans and (!) longsleeves. The air smelled fresh and crisp and piney. We ate amazing veggie burgers and fries at Diablo Burger and pizza at Pizzicletta and played lots of Yahtzee. I wondered whether the college kids sitting next to us thought we seemed like such a boring "old" couple playing dice over dinner, ha! But I didn't have too much time to dwell on that because I was having a fantastic time with my awesome husband. On Saturday we took the Pirus on a road "not maintained for passenger cars" to get to a trailhead for a great hike (we all survived!) and on Saturday night we looked at stars at Lowell Observatory. On Sunday morning we got the New York Times (!) and read to our hearts' content (!) and drank coffee (!) for two hours (!).

We missed Dashiell a lot and watched all of our videos of him but it was also great to have whole, uninterrupted conversations with Chris, to read a book for over an hour, not to worry about constructing our schedule around nap time and to have a free hand to hold Chris's arm as we strolled through town. The weekend felt like a rejuvenating deep breath. I'm so glad we made it happen and took some time just for us before growing Team Wharton this winter.

Hope you are having a great week! New Girl Next Door Podcast coming at you tomorrow morning!

Holiday week!


Hi friends! This week I'm taking a little break from blogging but I wanted to pop in to say hi and wish you a happy 4th of July week if you are celebrating in the U.S. and a happy first week of July regardless. I hope you are having a fabulous summer! It's really hot here but I'm trying very hard to stay positive. Just three more months to go! (Woooooo) We've been able to enjoy being outdoors in the early morning and in the shade of the late afternoon so that is definitely helping.

This week I just have a short week of two (busy) days at work before I'm off for a glorious five day weekend. I'm looking forward to a day date of lunch and a movie with Chris on Wednesday and then hanging with our wee one for the rest of the week. I'm sure there will be early morning walks at The Coffee Shop, backyard sprinklers, and I'm pretty sure I'll be making this. Icebox cake is my new favorite.

Also, toddler outtakes:


Yay for the weekend!


For the past two weekends either Chris or I have been out of town and I'm so excited to have a weekend with all of Team Wharton under one roof.

On Saturday, we're planning to visit the farmer's market and the nearby splash pad in the morning and in the evening we're celebrating Chris's tenure at Sleepy Dog with with friends over beer, Spinato's pizza and cupcakes! Our Sunday is gloriously plan-free; perhaps I'll make a pie and check a June goal off my list.

I hope you have a lovely weekend, too!