Becca’s Best: Top 10 Northwest Escapes

I have had a lot of friends tell me their kids are causing extreme sleep deprivation in their lives as well.  What is going on with kids these days???  So I think it is time to share this post about some great places you can getaway (by car) weekend with just you and your honey.  I am 100% sure you deserve it.  Don’t feel bad for your kids.  They will surely benefit from you having the opportunity to rejuvenate!

Again, I start this travel post with the disclaimer that these are my own opinions, and as I sadly have not been everywhere I would like to have gone, this will most definitely not be an all-inclusive list of the amazing places the Northwest has to offer.  Since people are often ask my recommendations, I am writing a post, but please please tell me what places you feel should be on the list and I will gladly check them out!

1. Whistler, BC

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This is hands down my favorite place to vacation–really with family, friends, or with your spouse–anytime of year.  It has something for everyone, no matter what you like to do.  Great shops.  Great restaurants.  Amazing skiing (the largest resort in North America).  The craziest mountain biking.  Gorgeous scenery. And so many beautiful hotels, resorts, condos, spas, vacation rentals, that I promise whatever you are seeking for your vacation, you can find it here.

Yes, you need your passport (or an enhanced driver’s license) and yes, you may have to wait for awhile at the border, but once you pass Vancouver you won’t regret it.  The Sea-to-Sky Highway is one of the most beautiful drives I have ever been on.

2. Salish Lodge, WA

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If you are looking for something a little closer to home, then THIS is my favorite for that (I guess, that is if you live close to me anyway).  Aaron and I went here for a belated valentine’s celebration after I returned from one of my worst business trips ever.  I got kicked out of my hotel in Kuwait, kicked off the airplane trying to fly to Bahrain, snowed in & chased down by strange men in Istanbul, sick getting ready for my return, and luggage lost on flight home.  To say I was wiped out physically and emotionally was putting it mildly.

Then…the next day we walked into the Salish Lodge to the overwhelming and comforting smell of cedar and then into our room where they had relaxation music playing and a fire already roaring for us.  I started to restore almost immediately.  We headed to the spa and even though we were too cheap to pay for any of the treatments, we still were able to enjoy the therapeutic soaking pool, sauna and steam rooms before heading to what I am not kidding is the most delicious dinner I have ever had.  Pricey? Undoubtedly–our dinner and breakfast were just as much as our room for the night!  But worth every penny.  If you ever see the deal they sometimes sell at Costco, snatch it up!  I know I am going to.

3. Sun Mountain Lodge, WA

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So this one is out in the middle of NOWHERE (about a five hour drive from here and an hour and a half north of Chelan)!  My parents always talked about how much they loved going there for conferences and Aaron and I finally found a reason to check it out too.  Because it is so far off the beaten path, you definitely feel like you are “escaping.”  It has a great perch overlooking the Methow Valley, which is filled with mountain biking and hiking for all levels, and is just a short drive from Winthrop, which is a tiny western-style town with lots of cool festivals throughout the year.

4. Sunriver Resort, OR

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After making this whole list I realized somehow I only ended up with one Oregon place on it.  I guess I need to escape to Oregon more often!!  We really love the Sunriver/Bend area–it is another place that has something fun to do all year round.  It is only a 20 minute drive from great skiing at Mt. Bachelor.  I hear the golfing is great, though I’m not that into that myself, but we did have a fabulous time rafting the Deschutes River!

5. Alderbrook Resort, WA

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At just under an hour drive, this is the closest one on my list for us Olympia folks.  It sits right on the hood canal, so feel free to take your sea plane or your yacht to get there. :) I wish.  It’s location is perfect to hit up one of the awesome hikes on the Olympia Peninsula (Mt. Ellinor is next on my list), take a kayak or sailboat out right from their dock, or just relax and enjoy the view of the Olympia mountains.

Their restaurant is another one you won’t want to miss.  Oh man, looking at their menu made me just want to head out there just for some food right now.  Anyone up for a double date?! :)

6. Victoria, BC

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Please tell me I am not the only one who looks at this picture and is mentally taken to some fairytale place where dreams always come true and everyone lives happily ever after.  Isn’t that what we need to be promised in our getaway weekends?  Before going myself, I had heard people talk about Butchart Gardens with such wonder and wondered how they could lavish such praise on a garden.  I am certainly no garden aficionado and wasn’t too interested in going, but since everyone insisted, Aaron and I decided to check it out.

I LOVED it–couldn’t take enough pictures and never wanted to leave.  Victoria has this and countless other cool things to do and see and romantic places to stay–some quaint and some fancy, many of which offer afternoon tea…a specialty of the flagship hotel The Empress.  We took the ferry and not The Clipper, so if anyone has done that, I am curious to hear how that is.

7. Roche Harbor, San Juan Island

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Two Island destinations in a row (and one more at the end!).  Don’t know if that is an indication of what I like or of what our geography has to offer.  The San Juans are a very popular place to get away, and San Juan Island is the most popular of them, so if you want to get away from the “hustle and bustle” of Friday Harbor, just head north to Roche Harbor.  You will have all the same popular options of kayaking, biking, whale watching, but from a fresh perspective.

8. The Davenport, Spokane, WA

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I don’t really talk much about cities when I talk about escaping, but since I know there are some who prefer that to the outdoors (though I don’t know how), I thought I would compromise and include an awesome hotel in a smaller city.  I am sure Seattle has some great hotels too, but since I lived up there for awhile it doesn’t feel like much of an escape.  This is a gorgeous, historic hotel right in downtown Spokane that will take you back in time.  Yet it is still within walking distance of the Riverfront Park, the mall, the movie theaters, and all that to keep you entertained in modern times.

9. The Sleeping Lady, Leavenworth, WA

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Since I talked about Leavenworth a bit in my last adventure post, I won’t dwell too much but to say it is another place that has something to do no matter what time of year you go or what kind of people you go with.  It can be a fun family vacation or a great romantic getaway.  I like this hotel for more romance because it is away from town, closer to the canyon and right on Icicle Creek, with “sustainable gourmet cuisine” and a great spa.

10. Tofino, B.C.

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Chances are, even if you have been in Washington for a long time, you may never have heard of this place.  Truth be told, I am not even sure how I heard about this place!  And honestly I don’t even know how I can call it a local getaway since the driving time alone is 9 hours, and on top of that you will have to wait for a ferry.  But if you break it down and check out Victoria or the San Juans on your way/way back like Aaron and I did when we went, you would have quite the adventure.

Besides, the drive across Vancouver Island to the westside is all part of the getting away experience.  You will definitely feel like you are leaving all civilization and life as you know it behind.  We saw all sorts of whales, seals, sea lions, BEARS (yes, just on the side of the road!), hot springs, rain forest.  We weren’t there at the right time, but supposedly they even have awesome storm watching and surfing in the winter, if you are up for an adventure.

Okay, I think this is officially the longest post I have ever done on this blog…hope you had the stamina to sit through it and got some great ideas of places to escape with your “eternal cream puff” as my sisters used to always say.  If you have favorite places that I didn’t talk about, please share them with the rest of us!

 

Hicka-what? And Other Under-Appreciated Vegetables

I recently took a vegetable tray to a church function instead of my usual plate of goodies.  I know…gasp!  What is to become of me.  Who knew what a stir it would cause.  Any of you recognize this little veggie?  Everyone kept asking me what it was and seemed even more confused when I told them.

jicama

It is usually in the part of the grocery store with all the less popular vegetables.  Broccoli, asparagus, potatoes, all get their spotlight out in front but these stay tucked in the corner with turnips, rutabagas, beets, etc.  If you are still clueless, I will just give you the answer.  It’s a jicama!  Pronounced Hick-a-ma, and though people were leery to try it, everyone that did liked it.  It was one of the random foods that we got well acquainted with during Aaron’s cleanse and I just wanted to post about it to encourage all of you to give it a chance.

Just peel it, cut it into matchsticks, and dip it in hummus or ranch or whatever your favorite is.  Or toss it on salads and it will add a nice sweet crunch with minimal calories.  Honestly I even just love it plain for a nighttime snack when I don’t want to eat too much before bed.  Of course there are real recipes you could try it with, but so far that’s all I have done and I’ve loved it.  I’ll report back when I take it to the next level.  Or you could.

parsnip

 

Speaking of parsnips, this is another vegetable you should add into your rotation.  You can use them in place of potatoes for a similar consistency with a sweeter taste but fewer carbs and calories.  They are terrific mashed, as oven baked fries, or roasted as a medley with some other neglected vegetables.

coconut collard greens

The last lucky vegetable for today’s spotlight is Collard Greens.  Even though I am from the South, I can’t say that I have eaten too many of these in my day.  Of course, Aaron says Texas is not really the South, so maybe that is why.  I also can’t say that I love these straight up like I do the last two veggies, but since they are REALLY good for you and this recipe below, from Aaron’s cleanse, took the bitterness out of them and made them yummy, I thought I would share.

What are your favorite random veggies?  Or favorite random ways to cook “normal” veggies?

Coconut Collard Greens

  • 1½ tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ medium onion, diced
  • ½ bunch collard greens, stems removed, cut into ½-inch strips
  • ¼ cup coconut milk
  • 1 dash Himalayan salt (to taste; optional)

Directions

  1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook, stirring frequently, 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown and very soft.
  2. Add collard greens and coconut milk; cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes, or until greens are very tender.
  3. Add salt (if desired)

Those Last Ten Pounds

Looks like I made it through a whole week without a post.  I did, however, have PLENTY of sleep deprivation…and I wonder why I have been having more difficulty reaching my health and fitness goals these days!!!  I learned at General Conference that

Being in good physical condition comes at a price, and that price is dedication, perseverance, and self-discipline.

I know, maybe not spiritual, but maybe it IS because our bodies and spirits are connected!  So it is time for me to step up my perseverance and wanted to invite any of you to join me.  I have been haphazardly working out and haphazardly eating healthy, but I need some more structure and definitely more accountability.

So I am going to officially start the Beachbody Challenge and hope some of you ladies will do it with me.  I am thinking about Insanity, but am up for your suggestions.  Then we can have a Facebook fitness group where we can keep each other motivated by sharing our workout experiences and healthy recipes.

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So comment, email, text me whatever if you are interested and we can help each other meet our goals!!!

P.S. Sorry if you got a message on Facebook and here and feel stalked, but I am ready to get going on this (maybe November 4th??) so talk to me soon.

 

Conquering Cravings Part III

Remember The Land Before Time?  I was 8 when it came out and LOVED it.  Did you know that it was followed by TWELVE direct to video musical sequels?  They are pretty much all on Netflix right now and my kids are loving them.  I, on the other hand…not so much.  As with all too many sequels these days, they definitely should have quit while they were ahead (Tokyo Drift, anyone??).  Hopefully this conquering cravings issue does not take the same path.

cravings

 

I will readily admit I am not the most technically savvy person, nor am I up on the latest trends by any means.  I mean, don’t judge me but I don’t even have a smart phone!  So it took me awhile to realize I was not utilizing Pinterest to its fullest capacity.  I was pretty much just following my friends, but then one day I wanted to pin a recipe I saw in my Cooking Light magazine instead of ripping out the page and sticking it in my overflowing expandable file of recipes to try.

And it dawned on me…Cooking Light has its own Pinterest!  With almost 5,000 pins!  What a better method for organizing recipes!  So I quickly followed them, Health, Fitness, Clean Eating, and Eating Well magazines.  So many recipes to try, all digitally and more cleanly organized than my file, PLUS no monetary investment and no wasting of trees!  I am loving it.  Seriously.  Awesome.  I try to go to one of those when I want to avoid all the amazing looking baked goods people are pinning that have me salivating.

So tonight while looking at Health’s pins (avoiding lingering on a recipe for Salted Browned Butter Snickerdoodles), I saw an article, How the Pros Curb Cravings and figured I ought to share it with you since we have been talking about it so much.  They had some good ideas that we hadn’t talked about yet.

What non-friends have you found helpful to follow?

Trading Screaming for Serenity

 

Are your mornings anything like mine have been lately?  Kids waking up way too early?  What about your afternoons?  Kids not going down for their naps?  What about your evenings? Kids shouting mommy mommy mommy instead of going to bed?  What about your nights?  A baby crying for food or comfort every few hours?

I hope this doesn’t sound like I am complaining, or that I don’t love my kids, but sometimes my inner chi just needs a little TLC.  In order to better love and better help those kids, I need to get away from them for awhile.  A massage has been just what the doctor ordered lately.  As I laid on that massage table listening to the soothing music, I felt a peace wash over me and I knew this needed to be a regular part of “living to last.”

If the description at the beginning matches your life but the picture below hasn’t been you in awhile, I really think you should make an appointment today.

Massage

 

Not only does massage have great restorative power, it has also been shown to help with the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Digestive disorders
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia related to stress
  • Myofascial pain syndrome
  • Paresthesias and nerve pain
  • Soft tissue strains or injuries
  • Sports injuries
  • Temporomandibular joint pain

Okay, so I don’t know what all those things are, but maybe it will help give you a few more reasons to get a massage.  If you live around here and aren’t sure where to go, my massage therapist just moved to a new place and has a 20% off special for new clients.  It is a gorgeous and peaceful setting out in Boston Harbor.

What are some of your techniques for staying sane through the chaos of kids?

Tastier Tacos

I have heard from several friends lately that tacos are one of their go-to meals.  Mine too!!  I love them and could probably eat them every day.  Well, I know I can actually because that is exactly what I have been doing while Aaron is on his cleanse.  Well, a taco salad actually.  But that is what is great about this meal…you make up a few basic ingredients and you end up with lots of options: tacos, burritos, quesadillas, nachos, tostadas, yum!

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But if you eventually get sick of those tacos, here are a few great ways to spruce them up.

#1 – FRESH Pico de Gallo

I don’t think there is anything that adds a better flavor that homemade salsa.  At least that has so few calories and so many vegetables that is.  I had a pile of tomatoes from the garden that I needed to use up fast so I busted out my college roommate’s recipe and got to work.  You still make this recipe Erika Loveland??

7 large tomatoes
1 onion
1 bunch cilantro
2 green chilies (seeded, unless you are ready for some heat of course!)
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp garlic salt
1 TBSP vinegar
1 TBSP sugar
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp dried red chili
1 tsp dried basil

Chop, Mix, Chill, and enjoy!  It also tastes good with eggs or a baked potato; what else do you put your salsa on??

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Peppers are another great add-in, and another healthy vegetable!  Instead of just frying them on the stove, try roasting them or grilling them for more ooomph.  And for an even deeper flavor, ditch your usual bell pepper and go for the poblano.  It is not spicy (unless you leave those seeds in!), but rich and smoky.  Just pop it in the oven at 400, using tongs to rotate it every 5 minutes until ll sides are slightly charred.

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My all-time favorite topping is the caramelized onion.  I could probably eat it on everything.  It and the peppers are a great way to jazz up burgers and homemade pizza.  Contrary to popular belief, you do not need a pile of butter or oil to get a tasty caramelized onion.  Just get a sweet onion (Walla Walla are the best, in my opinion, but maybe if you are in the south you would argue for the Vidalia)!

  • Set your frying pan on medium heat, spray it with olive oil, then add the onion.
  • Cook until it is starting to get pretty brown on one side.
  • Give it a good stir and then add enough water to cover the bottom.
  • Cook until it is starting to get pretty brown on the other side.
  • Give it a good stir and then add enough water to cover the bottom.
  • Are you getting the picture?  Keep doing this until the onions are as soft and sweet as your taste buds desire.

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For this week I just used ground turkey with the Costco Taco Seasoning.  I like the flavor of that and it doesn’t have any MSG like a lot of packaged seasonings.  Do any of you purists have a good recipe for Taco Seasoning that you like to use?

With all this deliciousness you don’t even need to add cheese or sour cream! My cheese loving family may disagree though.  Of course you may want to toss in some healthier fats like avocado or a dab of greek yogurt.  Yum!  What are your favorite ways to jazz up tacos?

Conquering Cravings Part II

Did you know it is National Women’s Health and Fitness Day today??  Since I am a woman blogging about health and fitness, I figured I ought to at least commemorate with a post since my workout today consisted of a half a dose of yoga and a walk with the kids.  I am taking a little workout break to heal my little tummy separation.  While doing that I decided to give Beachbody’s expensive little shake a try.
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Let me tell you, I am LOVING it!!!  I was working out for about six weeks and lost 10 pounds, which I thought was awesome.  But then when I switched to very low intensity workouts like I mentioned above and added Shakeology, I have lost 5 lbs in 2 weeks!!!  And beyond that, It has actually helped me get in control of those sugar cravings I always seem to be talking about on this blog.

I made Nanaimo Bars for youth group last night and I didn’t even want to eat one?!?!

I took a bite partly out of habit and partly some strange sense of obligation and thought it was too sweet?!?!

I find myself wanting to snack on fruits and vegetables now?!?!

And beyond that, there are so many amazing ingredients in there…it is like a superfood smoothie and a protein shake rolled into one!  shakeology_vanilla_supp_facts

When Aaron first became a beachbody coach I wouldn’t let him buy it because of the price, but now that I have tried it I am seriously loving it and thought I would share it here in case you have been looking for a quick and easy way to supercharge your health.  They even have a 30-day money back guarantee if you try it and don’t love it so it is a win-win.  Let me know if you want to check it out.