Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Cutest County Fair

The Kitsap County Fair and Stampede, only two words can aptly describe this event: SOOO CUTE! (or 4H Heaven... depending on your focus :)

You can find the Kitsap county fair grounds right here in rural outer Silverdale. The grounds are made up of half a dozen permanent structures, most labeled with a different type of farm raised animal, and two halls, a few fields and a small rodeo stadium. Picturesque!

Saturday was a perfect day - sunny, warm, beautiful - and EVERYONE in the county was out to enjoy it! We walked the entire fair, viewing every animal on display and stopping by every vendor... in about 2 hours. Luckily on the main stage there were a few shows to watch, a hypnotist and one of the funniest comedy skit shows I've ever seen: Brothers From Different Mothers. Apparently, they are a pretty big Seattle act, voted #1 show for a few years now. They were great.

The high point of the day was when CHAD WON ME A HEDGEHOG!!!! It was hilarious... I saw someone holding one, and Chad said he'd get me one, no matter what it took! Come to find out it wasn't going to be much of a challenge... See, the hedgehog was the smallest prize, at the easiest game - the one where you fish a ducky out of a "pond" and you get the prize written on its butt, which 98% of the time is a S (for small prize!) He did it though, he got me the perfect hedgehog. He loves me!

We weren't able to make it to the Rodeo/Stampede part of the fair - we had just gotten there too early, and there just wasn't quite enough to do until 7pm when it started. But now that we know the routine, we'll plan better next year.

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Dress Blue/White Parade

Last week Chad invited me to a "Parade" on base that he had to go to. Neither of us really knew what this was, but we knew it was a community event, with lots of Marines and Sailors in their dress blues and whites.

The night was very structured. Starting with the Navy band, then the bagpipes. There was then a long procession of men and women in uniform - starting with the entire history of Marine uniforms and epic events throughout their existence. Then officers, then a march of all the units on the base. There was even a retierment ceremony thrown in. A very impressive part was the inter-service drill. There were 4 Marines and 4 Sailors with rifles - throwing them, spinning them, up the line down the line - they looked as thought they were dancing, all in perfect sync. An announcer was explaining everything, who they were, why they were saying what they were saying, why certain things were done as such. It was very well choreographed.

The best part was the end, when they gave a 21 gun salute and re-enacted the Iwo Jima Memorial Statue.

Apparently they have these parades about once a month. This one was very much about the history of the Marines, I am hoping the next might focus on the Navy.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

An Evening Stroll with my Hubby

Every once in a while, after a long day at work, Chad will come home, eat dinner, then want to go for an evening stroll. Last night was just such an evening. A perfect, clear, warm evening.

We went for a nice walk around Clear Creek - and for once didn't pick berries :)

Towards the end of the trail, I looked up, and wished out loud that, we could see the sunset. Usually there are too many clouds in the sky or too many trees blocking the horizon - we hadn't actually seen a Kitsap Sunset yet. Unfortunately though, at that point of the evening, the sunset was still an hour or more away.

As we drove home from the park, Chad "missed" our turn. Come to find out, he wasn't in the mood to go home yet. So, we took a drive, a drive to nowhere specific. Ended up finding an odd little town - Keyport. One general store, one semi-famous restaurant (Whiskey Creek), a huge Naval base and a dead end - so we turned around, and ended up in Poulsbo.

Downtown we found a band, and a town picnic going on. Poulsbo is apparently the place to be on Tuesday nights.

On the way home - we saw it, our first sunset. Actual pink and dark blue, with the moon full and completely unobstructed. Chad made a few u-turns so I could see the moon over the water. Just stunning.

It was a great night - the perfect Tuesday evening.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cook, 2, 3, 4...

I have been cooking up a storm.

Pozole, blackberry pie - including the crust, jams, enchiladas, mid-eastern chicken and couscous, pad Thai, a wedding cake, Italian meringue buttercreams, banana everything (cakes, bread, pancakes, etc...), Dolmas, and so on and so forth...

Chad has been such a sport about my cooking. Don't get me wrong, it hasn't been anything to suffer though exactly, but it hasn't exactly been the most convenient hobby for him... Take me wanting to make Dolmas, for example - I needed a jar of grape leaves to complete the recipe. Finally, all four Silverdale grocers, a ferry ride and a hoity-toity store in Seattle later - Chad found me my grape leaves. Then the Pozole - trying to find hominy and dried Mexican chilies in Silverdale... big fun. Then, the seemingly easy banana cake, when I needed cream cheese for the frosting. No worries, Chad the magnificent went, after working all day, to pick some up for me. Then half way through mixing the batter (and his trip to the store), I realized I didn't have any eggs... he went back for me. Oh and the berries... all the picking trips for the berries... What a sport.

I think the reason for all this cooking is boredom. Its not that Washington is boring, or my life is boring - its that I am having a hard time convincing myself to get out of the house without Chad. I don't really want to go out, and do fun things or spend money without him. This is a new place, with new adventures - and I'd like to find them with Chad. So, I sit at home a lot (well at least close to home) and instead of feeling totally unproductive (you can only clean a house so many times...) I cook. This way I have a few hours of entertainment, and I get to enjoy the fruits of my labor with Chad.

Its fun, and I am getting pretty good at it. The thing is - I am running out of ideas. All the things I have had swimming around in my head - I have made. All that's left is Mole - a real undertaking I've heard. Any ideas? I love all food - the more complicated and tasty the better! Hmmm maybe a curry - both Thai and Indian! Ok, more ideas then that!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Lame No More!

What's amazing about this photo?? Do you know?

Joule has a left front arm! A whole, intact, twistable, walk-on-able arm!!! No more cast!! Its soooo exciting!

I've known since early last week that there was a "chance" he was getting his cast off this Saturday. Chad and I had been counting down the days. In fact, if Joule could speak english, I am sure he would have been as antsy as we were come Saturday afternoon.

It was a quick visit - basically informing us that all was well, and it was at last time for the cast to come off... pretty much regardless of the bone. See his cast sores were getting pretty bad, and probably couldn't have lasted, without opening or infecting, another week. His almost ulcers and hairless arm are bothering him so much that he wants to lick and chew the arm off! So with the good news of the no cast, came the bad news of the return of his helmet (the cone).

So now he pouts... phantom licks... and follows us around the house just BEGGING us to take it off... but we endure, cause oh my gosh, he finally has his arm back, and by golly we are going to KEEP it in one, healthy piece!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Aw, to have a home... to remodel!

Finally, a blue wall.

If you know me at all you know that I have always wanted a blue wall in my home. That is how I've always gauged "my home." The theory is: I'd be able to paint a wall in my house blue, once its my house, once I know I have my home.

Its been years since my last blue wall - well not even a wall back then, but a couple closet doors. That's because it was at my mom's house, not mine, but at least it was my room.

Since then I've lived in apartments - 6 months to a year on a lease. I've moved 14 times in the last 8 years. Doing the math... I've averaged 6.86 months at each address. Don't get me wrong, many of them were longer-term than others... but none over a year and most around the average...

But then I met Chad - a member of the military - and sadly enough, finally home-front stability in sight. Since I've met him, I've lived in 3 places, 11 months in Vista, 9 months in Oceanside and now looking forward to a WONDERFUL 3 full years in Silverdale, WA. Now, I know things can change at any moment, but for now, I am going to relish in the possibility of being at the same address for 3 whole years. So much in fact, that Chad let me paint one of our walls blue - not so much BLUE as cornflower/slate mix, but as close as I wanted to get without a mortgage.

So here, finally I get to show off our hard work, our remodeling of sorts! Our blue wall, Chad's and mine, our home.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

R.I.P. Little one...

We have had a death in our family...

Little Violet has finally left us to swim in the rice patty in the sky.

Violet and I have been through a lot together - which, as a female betta fish, you may not have expected.

I first saw her while unpacking a fish shipment as Pet Care Lead at Petsmart. I had been keeping an eye out for a one-of-a-kind female to add to my zoo at home. Usually, females are rather bland in color, and even worse off in health. With Violet, it was love at first sight. When I pulled her little cup out of a box, the light hit her just the right way, illuminating her bright purple body and lilac head. Then she turned around, and her little crowntail propelled her the 3 inches her little cup would allow. A very rare beauty indeed, she was Perfect.

That was June 2007, since then Violet and I have have changed both addresses and jobs. But our best times were while we were at Lee's Aquarium. When I started at Lee's, I had thought it was ironic that, here we were, a pet supply manufacture, called Lee's Aquarium, and there wasn't a pet or speck of life on the premises. So very soon after I started, I asked if I could bring Violet in, and share my desk with her.

She was instantly loved. Such a fixture there that, whenever I left on vacation, the big boss would make sure she was taken care of. She even had her own phone line, our junk line, until people started calling in and actually asking for "Violet." Then in July 2010, we both said goodbye to Lee's and took our next great adventure together, the adventure that would be her last...

She survived the journey to Washington, though since being here, she hadn't been the same. She was hardly eating, and her little tummy looked more bloated than usual... we knew the end was coming, so we did everything we could to keep her comfortable.

Finally, on Tuesday, August 17, 2010, Chad found her laying on a leaf in her bowl.

At 3.5 years old, Violet was an old lady. But she was spunky, and she always seemed excited to see you. She really will be missed.

Rest in peace little Violet.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Taking the day off...

It is a beautiful day and I have decided to enjoy it!

But one new piece of weird trivia...

You can't buy liquor in supermarkets here. They have huge beer and wine sections, but you have to go to a state run store to buy liquor... I thought that was weird, and a little ironic... being as though its the state who pulls you over for drinking the stuff....

Monday, August 16, 2010

Grape-leaves, flowers and beers! Oh My!

Silverdale, the best of both worlds:

1) smallish town feel, two car garage, no traffic and everything I need within a few minutes

2) including Seattle.

This Saturday was our first trip out to the big city since we moved here - and we had a wonderful day.

We took the ferry from Bainbridge Island and got to Seattle just in time for lunch. We stopped at McCormick & Schmick's (come to find out its a rather famous place) and got ourselves some of the most amazing food I've had in a while. We ordered two Sisters Point Oysters, two jumbo prawns and a Poor Boy Oyster sandwich - an amazing experience. The oysters were fresh and sweet (including the ones on the Poor Boy), with no grit or "chew" and the prawns were cooked and chilled perfectly. I highly recommend going there, and for the best prices, go for lunch.

Since this was Chad and my second time to Seattle, we were able to just putts around the city. We did a little shopping, we did a little sight-seeing, we did a lot of eating and we went to the Seattle Aquarium. The shopping in and around Pike's Market is pretty wonderful - no matter what you are looking for, you will find it, especially if it is a hoity-toity item - LIKE GRAPE LEAVES!!! I finally found them. We also stumbled across a Mexican market that sold every dried chili pepper and condiment I'd been looking for.

Basically we stayed around the market - hit up the The Pike Brewing Company, bought some flowers and enjoyed some free music on the streets.

Necessary local "need know":

There are three ways to get to Seattle from here. You can drive, go south to Tacoma then north up to Seattle. Takes about 2 hours and you have to deal with your car. Or there is the ferry - the much better, much more convenient route. The ferry leaves from two places here: Bainbridge Island or Bremerton. From Silverdale, to Bainbridge its a 30 minute drive to the terminal and a 30 minute ferry ride, whereas from Bremerton its a 20 drive but an hour on the ferry. The ferry is great - you just walk on and walk off in downtown Seattle. Either way you go its only $6.75 round trip, and you only pay on your way back. (There is also a fee driving, to get to Tacoma there is a toll bridge, about $3 to cross, and if you really need your car you can take it on the ferry with you).

Friday, August 13, 2010

My first visit to Bangor

Chad checked into his new unit just 13 days after checking out of his old one - we had been here only a week. He is now part of the Marine Corps Security Force at Bangor Trident Naval Base. Since then he has been leaving M-F mornings at 645 and returning between 1630 and 1700 each evening. He usually comes home quietly, without much to say about his day. Apparently, there just wasn't much to say - until receiving a badge - there really wasn't much for him to do.

He must have finally gotten it, because yesterday he came home smelling like metal - this meant he moved some ammo cans - thus, finally, getting to do his job. So things should be getting better, and hopefully he'll start telling me more about his day to day.

Yesterday though, he did take me onto base for the first time. He wanted to make macaroni and cheese, and we needed to go to the store for that. So we took the opportunity to check out our new commissary. On the way, he showed me where he worked - a large inconspicuous warehouse right off the main road.

I have to say I was impressed by the base. It was very clean, had new-ish looking buildings and a lot of entertainment variety. There was a movie theater, bowling ally, and a venue where they have shows. And in true Washington fashion, the entire base is covered in trees and bright green fields.

The commissary was awesome. They had a huge number of vegetables and fruits and all about 20% cheaper than the stores in town. They had a most excellent selection of meats and a huge ethnic food isle. I was surprised to see escargot and every Asian noodle imaginable, but sorry to see they didn't carry grape leaves, short grained rice or couscous. It just looked like a supermarket - with people in uniform shopping in it.

On the way out, we noticed there is a "Comics on Duty" show this weekend, we might check it out. There are supposed to be some pretty well known comics there.

The base entrance is only a 5 minute drive from our house, the commissary not much farther than that - so I think it will become our primary grocery store... so long as I'm not wanting to make dolams...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Just call me the bag lady...

This morning is a good morning - I have finally decided to TRY and add to the household income... well at least a little bit. Well at least it makes me FEEL like I am! :)

One of my favorite hobbies is sewing. And one of my favorite projects has always been making this super fun, super useful bag! So, thanks to the recommendation of a few more than one of my friends, I have started my own little, tiny, web-store!

Check it out at: http://www.etsy.com/listing/53675042/twist-fabric-grocery-bag

Speaking of reusable grocery bags though - here are a few really weird things about my area of Washington that are completely contrary to what everyone believes:

1) There is no 'CRV' equivalent. Because of this, there are no recycling turn in centers... thus no real incentive to recycle...

2) There are no 'reusable bag incentives' at the grocery stores (like there are in the major chains in CA). Thus, almost no one uses reusable bags at stores...

3) There are no whole foods/henery's/trader joes like stores anywhere... none. Not one.

4) The local farmers markets are crazy, ridiculously, expensive and very few people go to them - there were maybe 10 other non-vendors at the last one I went to.

Some cool observations though - there are very few extremely overweight people here. People, despite the weather are always out and about. The amount of runners on the roads is unbelievable - there are almost traffic jams of them.

Just some things I've noticed. Some kind of weird, some kind of cool.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I said "Hey Blackberry! Who's your friend?"

Awww the wonderful world of natural, free, roadside berries...

The obsession started when we came to Kitsap to house hunt at the end of July. I was looking out the window while driving down the freeway when "BABY! BABY!! Look! See all those plants - I think they are BLACKBERRIES!! Just growing there!! Growing there! Right there!!! ...Do you think we can pick them?"

Since then I think Chad wishes I were blind!

I thought we would miss the season, everything I read and what people said was that usually berry season was in July, and we weren't getting here till August... humph.

Luckily though - THEY WERE LYING!!!

The berry season here depends on the berry and location. Currently there are two VERY prolific berries ripe and luckily, right around Granite NW - the Salal and the Blackberry. The Salal is a berry kinda similar to a blueberry, but with a more subtle, less plump-juicy flavor. Its found near lakes and is ripe when the little green berries turn dark purple - so far mid July - mid August (picture at the top of this post). The blackberry on the other hand grow everywhere and their time of ripeness depends on their access to the sun - the earliest berries ripe early August, about half ready mid-late August, and shade berries hopefully ripe early September (I'll fix this if I prove wrong).

Chad and I go picking about once a week, usually getting between 3-8 cups of berries each time. Just enough to make a batch of jelly - Jelly, not jam - I have NEVER had enough berries to justify throwing away the pulp! Our last adventure was last Saturday - we spent about 45 minutes picking blackberries in the rain! Ended up being the juiciest pick yet! I am going to tackle berry pie next - Chad's new friends at work are requesting one! Then for the last pick of the season I'd like to freeze some.

Its funny cause it seems no one, but us, picks these things! The people of Washington are just jaded. I figure at $3 a little plastic tub - we probably pick $15 worth of berries each time - and its fun and decent exercise. It boggles my mind. Just to let you know - we usually pick in the parks, a little off the beaten trail - never near the roads. The county has a cool, pick what you want policy. And if you want to pick in the national forests its free for personal use or only $40 for commercial use.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Welcome to Silverdale!

Welcome to Silverdale! That's what the sign said as we exited the freeway and turned onto Silverdale Way - the light at the end of the tunnel... a very long tunnel. It meant we were finally *almost* home.

That was two weeks ago.

Now, here I am, in my new, on-the-way-to-being-a-home, on Granite Ln NW. A quite little road on the "ridge-tops" of Silverdale. A nice family filled neighborhood of townhouses and groomed lawns. As a-million-miles away as you can get from the quintessential Seattle life, everyone thinks you will be living when you say you're moving to Washington - and I love it.

Silverdale is located in Kitsap County, on the Kitsap Peninsula, a sub-peninsula on the east side of the Olympic Peninsula, due west of Seattle. They entire peninsula has about 15 towns/cities on it, all within a 20-30 minute drive from our driveway (Silverdale is conveniently located somewhere near the middle of everything).

Now that you know a little bit about where we are, I am going to spend the rest of these posts telling you about what we're doing. Current projects around our home, some interesting pieces of trivia about the area, the places we have found and would like to share. This is going to be the easiest way to keep everyone in the loop - and for me to provide some useful information to others coming into this area.