Bella Umbrella

People who hate to be rained on, visitors of Seattle, lovers of umbrellas: do I have a store for you!  Bella Umbrella.  I recently found this lovely gem during our family vacation and fell in love.  In LOVE, I tell you.

It can be found on the corner of 1st and Pine, just a (steep) block up from the Pikes Place Market.  We initially walked passed it on our way to the Space Needle.  The Banker and I both noticed it, but forged ahead to the next landmark destination.  But neither of us could resist the temptation on the walk back and were lured into the store.

We were greeted by colorful umbrellas everywhere.  Hanging from the ceiling, perched on the floor, waiting in umbrella stands just begging to be opened.   Everywhere.  The kids quickly found their table located conveniently in the front of the store.  It’s a kids dream to be able to open every umbrella inside.  They found Disney Characters and Hello Kitty; bugs and animals, bright colors and see through umbrellas.  BabyFace selected Super Man and Marshmellow went with the adorable pink ruffle.  Very cute.

The Banker was drawn to the travel umbrella section.  He found some nifty umbrellas that folded very small, were very light and could open AND close with a push of a button in a rainbow of colors.  He ultimately selected a standard black umbrella with a handsome wooden handle (and a lifetime warranty).  The handle cuts down on the size and adds to the weight, but it definitely has the classy factor any banker would desire.

And then there was me.  I was a kid in a candy store wanting one of everything.  Adorable lace parasol?  Yes please.  Super sleek pagoda?  Of course.  Fashion umbrella with fancy floral layers and jeweled handles?  Sounds dreamy.  A ruffled umbrella in bright pink?  Absolutely!

But we had a one umbrella per person limit.  Which even that might be extreme, given our climate at home really isn’t known for rainy days.  But who cares?  This store is awesome!

What to do?  What to do?

Ah…the Spanish umbrella adorned with pale pink polka dots with a dull grey to really make them pop.  Atop is a dangerous looking walking tip.  Below is the embroidered leather curved handle with even more polka dots.  To finish the look, a large bow hangs on the side of the opened umbrella.  I’m not going to lie; it was a bit of a splurge.  But the umbrella spoke to me and said, “Take me home.”  So I did.  But to justify myself, it also has UV protection, so can totally double for a parasol.

The really cool thing?  They rent umbrella’s too!  If you’re planning an event where rain might be in the forecast and you need umbrellas to usher your guests to and fro…this is the place.  Or if you want your dutiful brides maids to carry umbrellas dripping in white feathers…this is the place.  Umbrellas really would be awesome in a group photo too.  I’m just saying.

Now, Bella Umbrella might not be the reason to travel to Seattle.  But if you’re in the area, you really should just stop in and play for a while.  Go ahead…open a few of them, inside!


Photo A Day – July 29th through July 31st

July Photo A Day Success!

That’s right folks.  Today is already the last day of July.  And with only one fail for the month, I think I did pretty darn good.

I hope you join me for my August Photo A Day Challenge.  If you want to link your posted pictures to this blog, drop me a comment and I will add a new PAGE to this blog with your link.


July 29: Last Thing You Bought

Vacation Souvenirs: 2 necklaces, a sweatshirt and some salt water taffy.

July 30: Calm


Finally bedtime.  The calmest moment of my day.

July 31: Toothbrush


Didn’t seem right to take a picture of my used toothbrush.

Poulsbo and Sogno di Vino

During our time on the Kitsap Peninsula, we found an adorable little town by the name of Poulsbo or “Little Norway.” My Scandinavian roots were intrigued…

I wanted to take my time in each and every one of the quaint little shops featuring antiques, Norwegian nit-knacks, and baked goods.  Instead, we quickly walked the streets and ushered cranky children back into the car.  But I left unsatisfied and insisted we return.

After an enjoyable afternoon roaming the streets, savoring another cup of local coffee, and dreaming of how to redecorate my entire house beach cottage style, it was time for more food.  Two restaurants were recommended: Mor Mor Bistro & Bar for fresh northwest flavor and Sogno di Vino for authentic Italian cuisine.  The Banker had  his fill of local fare and opted for Italian.

I was allowed to dine alfresco.  Our table sat under a 100 year old Magnolia tree wrapped in white lights and I was able to see the Puget Sound, marina and the adorable street all at once.  Add a glass of a local blended white wine to the mix, and I was one happy girl.

The food!  I haven’t talked about the mouth-watering food that was placed upon our firepit adorned table. Of course, every Italian restaurant will serve fresh bread.  Sogno di Vino was no exception.  The flavorful bread had a salted crust and was drizzled with what I’m assuming was infused olive oil.

The Banker ordered the Tuscan Steak with Espresso & roasted almond mascarpone that was served with fingerling potatoes, balsamic braised shallots and asparagus.  My fork may or may not have reached across the table a few times.

In typical form, I made my order slightly more complicated.  I ordered the Strawberries, Beets and Feta salad…hold the beets, add chicken.  It came with spring greens, strawberries, candied pecans, feta and a Raspberry-balsamic vinaigrette.  I practically licked the bowl.  If we hadn’t already eaten all the bread, I would have used it to soak up the left over dressing.

Should you ever find yourself anywhere near this darling town, either on Bainbridge Island or in Seattle looking for a day trip, you need to go.  Preferably without children so you can actually enjoy the quiet streets and shops in peace.

Photo A Day – July 21st through July 28th

Here is a short preview of our family vacation this week.  Although I have roughly 100 blog post ideas, I’ll try to scale it back and not overwhelm you with all 700+ photos taken this past week.

July 21: 9 o’clock

9 o’clock in the morning and all packed.

July 22: Upside Down

An upside down inflatable kayak sitting alone on the dock.

July 23: Mirror

Woke up to this outside my window.  The water was perfectly still and as reflective as a mirror.

July 24: A Stranger

The awkwardness of photographing a stranger…without them knowing.

July 25: Heart

The heart of Seattle…the Pikes Place Market.

July 26: Sunshine

Another beautiful sunrise on the Puget Sound.  Who says the sun never comes out here?

July 27: On the Road

The road that lead to our Captains Cabin for the week.

July 28: Cup

An all too important cup of Joe to handle two cranky kids on the last day of vacation.

Camping Shadow

I immediately fell in love with this picture when I first saw it.  The dark clouds, the illuminated tents, the shadow.  Amazing.

A friend of mine took this picture using his iPhone.  He was on a 4 day/3 night mountain bike ride on the Kokopelli Trail.  He was deep in the desert between Loma and Moab .

Photo A Day – August Challenge

Ack!  August is a week away.  How did that happen?

I’m a planner.  Well, at least I try to be a planner.  So I went looking for an August Photo A Day challenge.  But I didn’t find any posted yet!  What’s a girl to do?  Create her own!  So if I saw something interesting while driving down the road, sitting at my desk, or watching t.v., I would jot it down.  Thus became the August list.

My goal is to get at least 5 people to take my Photo A Day – August Challenge.  I would love if 50 people would join me.  500 people might get overwhelming, but why not?  Drop me a comment to let me know you’re in!  And then, more importantly, show me your pictures!

If I get enough people who want to share, I’ll create a new PAGE on Between The Shutters and let people link up with you and see your photos too.  But I have full rights to take it down your link if I don’t like your blog.

New to Photo A Day Challenge?

Here’s the deal.  You are given a daily topic, you take a picture of your subject and then you share you photo.  You can share it on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instragram, Pinterest…where ever.  It’s suppose to be fun, not a chore.  So if you  miss a day, you miss a day.  No big deal.

August’s Challenge List

Do you need a more direction than just a single word?  For a bit more inspiration, here are some ideas:

  1. Street: the street you live on, from the window at a red light, from your office window (because you’re not working)
  2. Book: a book you’re reading, the tickets you just booked (to escape someone), your e-reader
  3. Phone:  someone on the phone, a cell phone store (with a line out the door) , phone lines
  4. Tree: tree branches, a single leaf, shade from a tree (that you want to take a nap under)
  5. Left: somebody who left you, the left side of the room, something left on the counter (because you are so forgetful)
  6. Light: the lamp on the table, sunlight, the light of your life (gag)
  7. Line: people waiting in line, parking lot lines, a line you drew (just to take this picture)
  8. Change: coins from your pocket, something you did/want to change, changing of the guards (that would be awesome to see)
  9. Fence:  fence around the pool,  a squirrel on the fence, something fencing you in (the caged animal you are)
  10. Drink: your adult beverage, a child drinking from their sippy cup, iced tea (I’d go for the adult beverage)
  11. Love: a person/place/think you love, a word that spells love, a heart (like a drawing, not a human heart)
  12. Bag: a purse, a reusable grocery bag, your lunch bag (hopefully you have something yummy to eat)
  13. Mail: junk mail (what a waste of paper), mailbox, a package you received in the mail
  14. Dark: a dark room, a shadow, dark chocolate (mmm…dark chocolate)
  15. Sky: clouds, a bird flying in the sky, sky blue (or Skyy Vodka)
  16. Breakfast: anything you ate for breakfast, an empty cereal bowl, what you should have eaten for breakfast (instead of the cupcake you ate)
  17. Water: a puddle in the parking lot, a water droplet on a plant, your glass of water (if you’re boring like that)
  18. Sweet: a sweet puppy, a sugar packet, sweet cream ice cream (drizzle this with dark chocolate for me)
  19. Radio: a radio antenna, logo of your favorite radio station (don’t stalk the radio personalities), the radio in your car
  20. Wall: a blank wall, art hanging on a wall, your Facebook wall (careful with sharing your names)
  21. Shoe: shoes in your closet, shoe laces, shoe store (just go shoe shopping)
  22. Friend: your furry friend, a stuffed animal , your best friend (you can stalk your friend)
  23. Bowl: a bowl from your cabinet, a bowl of business cards at a restaurant, a souvenir from a bowl game you went to (and your team won, it’s more fun that way)
  24. Car: cars in the parking lot (hopefully not the empty spot where your car was when you went inside), keys to your car, a car seat
  25. Inside: the inside of your empty chip bag (piggy), inside of your refrigerator, a room inside your house
  26. Funny: a funny face, something that makes you laugh, a funny looking anything (no, you may not take my picture for this one)
  27. Hook: Captain Hook (get his autograph too), a coat hook, a trailer hitch hooked to a truck
  28. Top: the top of the stack, a shirt (perhaps on the stack of laundry to do), a spinning top
  29. Pen: something you penned, your favorite pen, someone holding a pen (hopefully not your boss writing your pink slip)
  30. Orange: the sunset with orange clouds, an orange sock, a peach (you know, because its orange too)
  31. Key: your house key, the key word in the crossword puzzle, don’t take a picture of the key to your car for car (save it for this one.)

Now, go snap some pictures and have fun with them!


I Hugged A Stranger

[NoteOkay, so some of you got a little teaser of this post on Wednesday night.  Chalk that up to a blogging foul.  I really shouldn’t blog from either the iPad or after my bedtime.  Clearly it doesn’t work too well.]

BabyFace and I were walking back to the house from the mailbox when we were flagged down by a stranger on her cell phone.  Not in a frantic way, but in a “hey, I have something to tell you” kind of way.  She quickly wrapped up her conversation as she crossed the street, clearly heading in our direction.  There was a slight hesitation before she gave us a great big smile.

“I used to live in your house.”

[Awkward moment of silence.]

I tried to recall tidbits of information from the offer process, closing and short conversations with the new neighbors.  But the evening isn’t the best time of day for my tired brain. What I do know about the previous owners is that they moved out of state and were unable to be at the closing.  So I never had the chance to meet them.


I’m holding several days worth of mail and trying to keep track of BabyFace, who is roaming around my legs.  I stretch out my arm to shake her hand.  She returns the gesture.  Then, as only two women can do, we exchange looks and hug each other.

[Kids: don’t hug strangers.]

She tells me stories about the trees the planted in the backyard.  One for each of their daughters when they were born.  And the big pine tree up front was a housing warming gift from her brother.  I get to ask her where exactly they hung the towels, given there are no towel rods or hook anywhere near the shower.  [Turns out he threw his over the shower door and she hung her’s on what I assumed was the robe hook by the toilet.]  She warns me to never use harsh cleaners on the bathroom marble because even toothpaste can eat through it and they had it replaced three times.  I finally get to ask how they decorated around the adorable white picket fence in Marshmellow’s room.  And I get to tell her that the blue room now has a surfboard theme.

“Would you like to come inside?”

[Kids: don’t invite strangers into your house.]

Her eyes follow the driveway up to the house with a look of intimidation, followed by sadness, and more hesitation.

“Maybe next time.”

They are in town to move her mother-in-law into assisted living and don’t have enough time as it is.

Then we continue talking.  She’s been working on a scrapbook of sorts to give us about the house.  She wanted to give it to us at the closing, but something came up at the last minute.  Somehow I’m telling her that I just got a Cricut.  She has one too!  In fact, she personally cut out the saying found on the family room wall: LIFE IS A JOURNEY.  She cut it out of vinyl with the special blade.  Who knew?  She gives me a few Cricut tips, which I’ve pretty much already forgotten.

We stood outside for at least twenty minutes chatting.  I love Sally.  They built this house and planned to grow old in it.  Until a job moved them to Texas.  We plan on raising our children here and growing old here.  I’m not moving to Texas.

I feel better knowing how much love was in this house before us.  I hope she has some comfort knowing that love continues to be here and that I appreciate all of her attention to detail.  I could see us being really great friends.  Too bad she lives in Texas.

*Sally is a fictitious name.  But the story is real.


Make Mexican Food An Event

The fam has a new Mexican food habit on Friday nights.  So we make Mexican food an event these days.

It’s really just because The Banker has taken a liking to our local Mexican restaurant’s chips and salsa.  So we keep going back for it.

The salsa we really like is the roasted tomato salsa.  But it photographs horribly and The Banker was getting pissed I was still taking pictures with my phone.  So you’ll have to settle on the fresh salsa.  But it does have my beloved cilantro in it.

The restaurant has this great little back patio with a water feature and a giant metal cactus.  We were lucky enough to snag one of those outdoor tables the first time.  Typically, there’s too long of a wait and we end up inside.

During our first visit, I was enticed by their drink special.  It was some lovely mixture of flavored vodka, juice and sprite.  That’s the one picture up above.  I never remember what it was, so my I send my waiter with a vague drink order to give the bartender.  I figure they’ll come back with something good.   Oddly enough, a margarita has yet to hit my table.  Perhaps I’ll try out their sangria margarita next time.  For now, I enjoy this fruity vodka mix.

We tend to chow down on all the free chips and salsa brought to our table.  By the time our food arrives, we aren’t really  hungry.  Plus by this then, the kids are over the etch a sketch they were given for entertainment and have turned to driving us completely nuts.  Which makes me want to say, “Waiter, can I get another drink here?”

Wait, back to the food.  This time we were smart and decided to split a meal.  The Banker seemed unimpressed by everything, so I got to pick.

This is what the menu reads, verbatim:

Fiesta Chicken Salad: caution, this salad can be addictive! strips of seasoned grilled chicken, fresh mixed salad greens, cilantro and tortilla strips tossed in our signature tequila lime vinaigrette and topped with our chipotle peanut sauce.

DANG!  It was addicting.  I scarfed my half of the salad as if a hungry bear might take it from me.  When I finally came up for air to check on the rest of the table, I saw The Banker casually pushing lettuce around his plate.  So I scarfed his down too.  Definitely my new favorite.

My point?  Find yourself a nice Mexican restaurant, eat their free chips and salsa and Make Mexican Food An Event.

Photo A Day – July 16th through July 20th

July 16: Sign

This was found on the side of a very large cardboard box in the office kitchen today. I suppose it’s a sign that means “Don’t walk on this box.” I thought it was funny.  [Sorry, I didn’t realize how blurry this picture was until it was super-sized on the screen.]

July 17: Your Addiction

Oh so many addictions to choose from…but I would have to say one of them has to be my York Pieces.  Dark chocolate and a refreshing mint taste are the perfect summer treat combination.  Good to keep in the desk drawer or hidden in the cabinet.

July 18: Plate

I went the anti-plate route today.  Like anti-pasta.  Oddly enough, I ate from a bowl for all meals: oatmeal, Sunday Salad, and cereal.  The Peanut Butter Mocha Madness was my post-workout treat to myself.

July 19: Animal/Insect/Pet

Our resident little bunny foo foo who’s eating holes in my grass.

July 20: Eyes

Eyes of innocence.

Colorado Cries

Taken from the Facebook page of “Visit Colorado”

Words cannot express the sadness that engulfs those affected by the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting.

Waking up to chaotic news reports is humbling.

Knowing that you are safe, but so many are not.  Knowing that your children are sleeping in the next room, but someones child will never return home.  Knowing that such horror is happening just down the road…my chest tightens with  the thought.

I live in Colorado where stories of this tragedy are filling the airways.  My favorite morning show dedicated their radio show to providing updates, live feeds of press conferences from the policy departments and President Obama, and thoughts to help calm our community.   They have been caution and kind and have asked people to hold onto their anger, at least for now, and allow those to grief and process in peace.  There’s plenty of time for opinions later.

And it sounds like it’s the topic of conversation across the country.  We are getting calls from loved ones across the county to check in on us.  I’ve even had a business associate call to see how close I am to the Century 16 Movie Theater.

The entire things makes me sick.  And sad.  And mad.  It makes me question what kind of person is able to imagine such disgusting harm to others and then actually act on those thoughts.  The planning involved.    The booby trapping of his apartment with the intent to cause more harm to more people.


May we all take a moment to pray.  Pray for those who lost their lives and their loved ones left grieving.  Pray for those who witnessed the violence and will be left physically and emotionally scarred.  Pray for the first responders who rushed into action.  And to pray for the community startled by the images.

I am left feeling helpless and hopeless, wanting to do something.  This afternoon I will be going to Bonfils to donate blood.  To save a life.  To do something.