Category: Holidays and Celebrations

Holiday Enrichments at NW Trek

Holiday Enrichments at NW Trek

The Sunday following Christmas, Thom and I decided to head to a wildlife park about an hour away called Northwest Trek. This weekend, they were celebrating the holidays in the park by giving the animals their holiday enrichments. Every day, animals in zoos and wildlife parks get what’s called enrichments – treats or toys that allow them to act or play as they would in the wild. Sometimes the keepers hide treats to be sniffed out and dug up, or hang things in trees so the animals can climb to get them, or occasionally it’s just a special themed treat to celebrate something. In this case, they were celebrating the holidays.

I must admit, the main reason I wanted to go was to see the wolves with their holiday treats. Of course. This wouldn’t be the whimsikal wolf if I only went to see the elk! And of course, seeing the wolves playing and enjoying their treats made me a little trigger happy with my camera. Overall during our visit in the park I took over 700 photos, more than 400 of which were just with the wolves! Now of course, I did take photos of some of the other animals, but the wolves were definitely where we spent most of our time. Trying to decide which photos to share with all of you was difficult to say the least, but here’s a few that I absolutely love.

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It was so hard to narrow down the photos so I didn’t flood this post with hundreds of pictures of the wolves. They were being so adorable with their treats. We went to a couple of keeper talks where they had the skunk and the opossum out enjoying mini christmas trees with carrots dangling like ornaments and marshmallow tipped branches, and little stars made out of pineapple! These animals sure do get spoiled for the holidays. There were many more animals that got treats that I attempted to get photos of, but alas, my photography skills are still on the uphill and many of those photos came out way too blurry to be “artistic” haha. However, I am very happy with how the wolf photos came out.

Overall we had a really great time. It was a little cold, but at least the rain held off the whole time we were there. Luckily for us, it wasn’t that busy either. A few families and couples, but nothing like the crowds can normally get on the weekends. We even had a nice encounter with a couple who was asking about my photos! I wrote down the blog URL for them and told them to check in a couple days. ( Hello ^_^ ) The guy had an awesome Tardis hat that reminded me we hadn’t watched the Christmas episode yet! Which Thom and I watched a couple nights ago (it was so good!).

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If you live in the area, I definitely recommend checking out Northwest Trek at some point, especially with the family. The park is huge, and includes a free roaming area for a lot of the herbivores where you can ride on a slow moving tram through the area to see the animals in their natural habitat. How cool is that?! Thom isn’t much of a fan of zoos, but he even enjoys coming here. It’s definitely a must see stop for those of you in the western Washington area.

I hope you all enjoyed the pictures. I greatly enjoyed taking them. Only one post left for the rest of 2015 before we head straight into 2016. I have high hopes and goals for the coming year, especially in growing and developing my blog. See you guys again tomorrow!

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Point Defiance Zoolights

Point Defiance Zoolights

On Christmas eve eve, Thom and I decided to visit the Point Defiance Zoolights in Tacoma. It’s an attraction I like to go to every year, and as part of the first holidays we got to spend together, it’s somewhere I wanted to take Thom. Not being a fan of zoos, it wasn’t something he was really interested in doing, but he could tell how much I wanted to see them with him and reluctantly came along. After which, he was glad for.

It was a little bit on the rainy side, as is the norm for Washington, but we had plenty of dry breaks where I could bring my camera out of hiding and take some shots. The lights all around were an amazing sight to see, with all the colors and the different shapes, many of them even moving. It’s always nice to see what’s changed from year to year. They’re always moving things around and adding new displays, so it’s never the same.

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These jellyfish were so fun to watch! All the tiny jellies swimming around. They seemed to love having that candy cane in there. It was always swarmed with tons of the little guys. Floating around and bumping into it. The one thing I really wanted to see that night was the scuba diving Santa! But yet again, I missed him. The Point Defiance Zoolights have been doing the scuba Santa for a few years now, but I have never once gotten to see him in action. It seems we were too late in the evening and he’d already done his show. One of these years I’ll see him, but not this year.

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Overall, I love going to the Zoolights here in Tacoma. And after seeing what it’s all about, Thom loved it too. It will definitely continue to be on the list of must see visits during the holidays, and even more so when we have little pups of our own to bring with us. If you haven’t seen the Zoolights and you’re in the area, they are still running this week until January 3rd so go check them out! For more info, here’s their website.There’s minor hills around the place, but overall very kid and stroller friendly. So bring the family out to see some of the animals and enjoy all of the lights!

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Yule ~ The Start to Our Holidays

Yule ~ The Start to Our Holidays

Today officially marks the start to the full holiday cheer for me. Unlike many people these days, I’m not a huge fan of Christmas. It’s nice to spend time with the family, and sure, who doesn’t love getting gifts? However, there’s a holiday this time of year that is much more suited to me. That holiday is Yule, the Winter Solstice.

The winter solstice is a time of reflection, a time to stop and take a look at the year that’s gone past and to think ahead to the year rapidly coming up. It marks the return of the sun, as tonight is the longest night and from here on days will be getting longer and the darkness lessening. The Goddess becoming the Great Mother once again and giving birth to the Sun King, bringing back the light.

In all truth, this will be the first year I officially celebrate Yule. A lot of that I owe to my husband. I’ve always wanted to celebrate, but never had the spirits to or felt confidant enough to. The last couple of years, I’ve spent the holidays alone. Truth be told, that was probably when I should have started to celebrate the most! But I just wasn’t in the spirits. But this year, Thom has encouraged me and given me the motivation I’ve been lacking. And today, on this our first Yule together and married, we give birth to new family traditions that we’ll (hopefully) continue on for years and years to come, passing them on to our children and their children.

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I’ve done quite a bit of reading the past couple weeks to prepare myself for today. Having never celebrated Yule, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do to actually celebrate the solstice. So here’s a few things I came up with.

~ Make a Yule Log, or Bรปche de Noรซl as it’s called by its original French name. I really wanted to make my first ever yule log this year. That was the one thing I knew for sure I wanted to make to celebrate the holidays. Though, the one pictured above isn’t actually my first one. It’s the second… The first one I made did not turn out at all. I got really upset and Thom had to come into the kitchen to get me to relax and decide on how to move forward. I decided to change recipes to this one and try again. The result is that gorgeous cake above. It was so hard not to dig right into it yesterday after all the work I put in. But I wanted to save it for tonight.

~ Turn off the electricity and have dinner by the fire. That’s right. Shut off the phone, computers, tablets, lights, everything. Get away from all that un-natural light and humm of the world and relax by a fire while enjoying a meal with loved ones. Even better if you cook with the fire.

~ After dinner, try a fire releasing ceremony. Take a moment to reflect on the year and any thoughts or feelings that you may have held on to that weren’t good for you. Things that you want to release from you. Once you have it, write it down on a piece of paper. Hold that paper in your hand and imagine what you wrote, imagine that piece of paper is that thing that you want to release. When you’re ready, throw it in the fire.

~ For couples, you can sit together thinking about the year ahead and plan out dates that you’d like to have. Maybe just a simple night out at a restaurant you’ve been meaning to try or something a bit more adventurous like a cruise or small vacation. Whatever they may be, have fun with it. Take note of the things you come up with together as you’re thinking about the year ahead and save them.

~ Take a moment to give a blessing to the earth below the frost and snow. Acknowledge that it’s still there, celebrating the return of the sun just like us and waiting for that warm sunshine to melt the cold and bring spring back to the earth.

~ Make birdseed ornaments! This one I can’t do since my apartments won’t allow us to hang things in the surrounding trees, but I will definitely be doing it once we have our own place. Mix up a batch of birdseed like this recipe here and create different shapes using cookie cutters. When they’re all finished, hang them in the trees outside as an offering to the birds who are still around.

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These are just a few things I came up with while reading some of the many traditions around the Winter Solstice. We’ll be celebrating Christmas as well since that’s what my family celebrates, but today is all about Yule and the earth.

How will you be celebrating the holidays?

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A Very Thankful Thanksgiving

A Very Thankful Thanksgiving

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It’s Thanksgiving in America today! Much like Valentine’s day, I don’t overly like to celebrate as most people do. Dedicating a whole day (or month) to being thankful when you should be every day of the year seems a little bit off to me. But, in the spirit of things, and for my family as well, it’s just another tradition that I follow year to year with the rest of America.

So in the spirit of that, I’d like to share a bunch of things that I’ve been thankful for in the past year, and the last month especially (and not because it’s November, but because a lot of things have happened in the past month).

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I’m thankful for my friends and family first and foremost. As well as all of the people that have walked in and out of my life, for they have helped in shaping the person that I am today.
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I’m thankful for the ability to get up in the morning and go about a (relatively) normal day. Every day is a blessing that I’m thankful for.
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Sharing a home with my friends and husband.
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Finally getting Thom here through all the visa paperwork, even with all the hiccups.
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Getting married to my soul mate.
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My two furry babies that I love with all my heart. They’re getting so big!
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I’m thankful for my job that I’ve had for 3 years now, and also for the new job that I’ll be starting in a little over a week.
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Washington state is a beautiful and rich place to live, and I love it more and more every day.
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Although I usually feel a bit out of place in society, it’s a wonderful time to be alive.
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Cooking. Not just Thanksgiving cooking, but every day cooking. I love food and spending time in the kitchen.
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My creative mind is something that I’ve been avoiding lately, but I love it so much. It’s a huge part of who I am.
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Most of all, I’m thankful for the air in my lungs and the blood in my veins, and the force that gives me life. For without life, what is there to be thankful for? So as many of us gather around with our friends and/or families, take a little extra time to think about the wonderful things in life and what a blessing it is to be alive. What are some things that you’re thankful for this year?

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World Animal Day

World Animal Day


Today is World Animal Day!!

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Today all around the world, people are celebrating animals big and small. In parts across the globe there are events by and for people who love and care for those who share this planet and call it home just like us. From marches in protest of the poaching of elephants and rhinos for ivory to free veterinary services, to parades and celebrations! To see what’s going on world wide, take a look here.

I absolutely love animals. Far more than I love humans! Whether it’s just a common ground squirrel or pigeon, or a rare wolf or bear in the woods. I love them all. I cherish their existence and equality daily. I’m against animal testing and always try to avoid products that were tested on animals. I won’t buy real fur for anything, especially when faux fur is just as good without harming a life. Forget about ivory. I do eat meat, however, I do go for the free range chickens and eggs, antibiotic free and grass fed beef, locally caught fish, etc. I even work in a veterinary clinic so I can help household animals as much as I can.

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Animal life is so simple. Very “circle of life”. Everything has its place, an order to things that is ingrained in their very genetics. The food chain. Hunting and gathering, whether you’re a predator or prey animal. Living peacefully, sharing the same space without assault unless it’s necessary for food or survival. It’s incredible.

Look at the relationship between deer, wolves, and ravens. The deer forages for grasses and leaves. Wolves will hunt them in a pack, and usually only pick off the sick or weak of the deer instead of being greedy and going for the more satisfying bull. When the wolves are finished, they leave the remains for the ravens and coyotes to scavenge. The circle of life and how everything is connected will never cease to amaze me.

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Wildlife photography is by far my favorite. My favorite art, my favorite hobby. I could look at pictures of wildlife all day, and spend hours trying to get my own photos. Walking quietly through the woods in the hopes of capturing a deer before it notices I’m there. Being respectful not to approach too closely to any wildlife or make startling or frightening noises just to get them to move or do something. I take photos in their own realities, not altered, not changed. I come into a surprise encounter with wildlife and let things happen as they should. Naturally. It’s in my bones.

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How will you celebrate the creatures we share our home on this planet with?

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A Change in Seasons

A Change in Seasons


Blessed Mabon
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Happy Fall Equinox

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It’s that time of year again. Time to prepare for pumpkin-spiced everything, bust out the sweaters, and enjoy the sudden change in weather and colors all around us. Shorts are being exchanged for leggings, flip-flops for Uggs, sunglasses for scarves and beanies. Bright sunny mornings have become foggy, the air crisp. Soon we’ll have to actually warm our cars up in the morning before going to work or school.

The autumn equinox is one of the two times in a year when day and night are equal, marking the shift where we say goodbye to our long days of warmth and sunshine and welcome the longer, colder nights. Traditionally, this is the time of harvest, preparing for the winter ahead. And as the saying goes, “As without, so within”. This is also a time to reflect on the year so far, goals you’ve accomplished, all the hard work you’ve put in to the year thus far. Reflect and rejoice!

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Many people and cultures will spend this time working hard. Bringing in the year’s harvest and preparing it for the winter months ahead. Others will partake in rituals in celebration of Mabon. And others still may be in the kitchen, making wine or mead, or cooking apple pies. Many people will just go on with their day just like any other day of the year, just another silly holiday written on today’s date on the calendar.

If you don’t know much about the day, check out this little article over on Treehugger that lists 12 things to know about the autumnal equinox. If you want to know exactly when it will be happening, you can enter your location here to find out.

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Just like anything else, Mabon can be as minimal or as powerful as you choose to believe. It can pass just like any other ordinary day or it can be a day of relaxation and strong reflective energies to be tapped into. At the very least, take the time to enjoy a nice, peaceful walk. Pay attention to the crisp air around you, the sounds of the birds singing their songs. Worst case scenario, you had to take a walk. But best case scenario, you’ll find yourself in tuned to the changing of the season and the energy that comes with it. If you take a step outside, you can’t deny it.

That fresh, crisp air feels good.

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