Christmas Morning Showshoeing

With the late winters, Christmas usually marks the start of the snow sport season if you live in Western Washington. While the closer Snoqualmie area has not seen much snow yet, Stevens Pass further up north now has just enough to make the longer drive worth it.


Looking east from Stevens Pass near Skyline Lake.


Treats left for the local wildlife.


MSR Lightnings.

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Coffee and Kleinur

Kleinur, the long twisted diamond shaped donuts of Iceland, are among my favorite treats that I look forward to on my visits there. More dense than the typical donuts that you’d find here in the U.S., I like to think of them as a more sophisticated version so that I feel less remorse after eating a handful of them.

With the holidays here, my girlfriend and I have taken on making these ourselves for friends and family. Here’s the most commonly shared recipe that I could find online that we’ve used with success:

3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 cup milk or buttermilk
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. nutmeg
4 1/2 cups of flour, with extra for rolling dough out on surface

Beat eggs slightly and add sugar and beat some more. Gradually add the sour cream mixed with baking soda and milk alternately with the dry ingredients. This will take about 4 1/2 cups of flour. Mix it and pour out onto the floured board and divide into three portions and roll each out to approx. 1/4 inch thick and cut into 1 inch wide strips and then into about 2 1/2 inch long pieces. Put a slit in the center of each and fold one end through the slit. Fry in oil at about 375 degrees. Keep turning them till they are golden brown, about 3 minutes. Allow them to dry on paper towels.

Serve with coffee. Somewhat related, here’s a believable recipe for an Icelandic Christmas Fruit Cake that calls for 1 bottle of whiskey.

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1000 °C

When a fire ripped through Deyrolle, the beloved taxidermy establishment here, early one morning last February, it was as if a dagger had been plunged into the heart of Paris.
Elaine Sciolino – From Ashes, Reviving a Place of Wild Dreams

After the Deyrolle fire took place, photographer Laurent Bochet was able to photograph the damaged specimens and published them through Assouline into a single volume. While it’s been long out of print, copies can still be found through 3rd party sellers though you will need some patience if you want to find one for a good price. A few are still available through Deyrolle as well, though you should inquire about shipping as the last thing you want to put in your luggage on your way back from Paris is a 5lb tome.

Related: Browse inside Deyrolle with Google Maps.

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Four Seasons

Good quality prints of Andrew Wyeth’s works are not too difficult to find if you’re not constrained by a limited budget – for the rest of us, there is Four Seasons. Released over 50 years ago, the collection of reproductions span a little over 20 years of Wyeth’s art up until the early sixties. From the introduction:

In 1962 the editors of Art in America proposed to Wyeth a portfolio of reproductions of his recent dry-brush drawings. The artist and his wife suggested the theme, “The Four Seasons,” because of the essential role played in his work by the cycle of the seasons. The drawings were selected by Andrew and Betsy Wyeth from works in the house and studio at Chadds Ford, supplemented by some owned by friends. With a few exceptions they had never been exhibited or reproduced. The plates were made directly from the originals.

In no particular order the pieces include Spring Sun, New Leaves, Quaker Ladies, Burning Off, The Berry Picker, Teel’s Island, Early October, and a handful of others. Printed on heavy stock, the full 12 piece set can be easily found online in good condition for under $100 and despite their age, most copies that I’ve seen have held their color well.




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A Free & Easy Beach Vacation

Flipping back through the Perfect Summer Book again (see part 1 posted back in 2011).

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My Freedamn – Beach Fashions

Vintage beach fashions and swimwear via Rin Tanaka’s My Freedamn 7.

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Sunspel’s Bond Shorts

After a long wait since the preview, Sunspel finally released their Bond inspired (Sean Connery era) swimshorts last month which then quickly sold out. Fans of Orlebar Brown will find them nearly identical in fit to the trim Setter shorts, and many other details are similar, both fabric and pocket wise (I would not be surprised if they were made by the same Portuguese manufacturer).

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The Green Sand Beach

Near the southern most point of the Big Island (and also technically the most southern point of the United States if you include Hawaii) lies a remote burnt out volcano that is slowing being eroded by the ocean – and down inside the caldera of the volcano lies the Green Sand beach, one of the only two in the world. Like all of the cooler places on the island, it’s not easy to get to and you again must resort to either a 4WD or hike the 2.5 miles out on tough sandy terrain.

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The Mauna Kea Summit Hike

Those with any appreciation for science and astronomy would surely want to include a visit to Mauna Kea on their Hawaii itinerary. The summit reaches 13,800 ft, and is home to some of the world’s best observatories with the mountain itself having a unique ecology comprised of several different climates. Getting to the top can be a challenge though, and requires some experience with a 4WD or at the least some willingness to take on a tough hike (I suppose one could also join up with one of the dozens of tour groups that visit daily, but that’s boring).

The day prior to my trip up the mountain, I had heard a story from locals saying a tourist had recently wrecked his rental car trying to drive up the summit, and it had since been turned into a small ski ramp before it was eventually removed. Not wanting the same fate, and enjoying the challenge of a difficult hike, I decided to spend the day on the summit trail, smartly leaving my car at the visitor station roughly located at 9,200 ft.

The hike itself is not terribly long (six miles), but after 10,000 ft altitude sickness hits and I end up having to pause every 100 feet or so to catch my breath. Hours later at the top and in the shadows of the obversatories, I’m greeted with amazing views of the Big Island.

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A Week on a Lava Field

During my time down in Hawaii, I had the unique opportunity to stay in an open air loft situated on the Kalapana lava field, an area that was once a town by the same name up until the early 90′s when it was wiped out by the slow moving flows that are still visible miles out. Attracted by peaceful living and affordable prices, a few dozen people and families have since come back to build simple homes knowing that new active flows could easily wipe their work out (a home was destroyed as recently as 2010). Deciding to live here might seem unusual, but after a week I was already dreaming of building a loft of my own there.


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