CHRISTMAS: DALLAS | WISCONSIN.

This is our second Christmas as husband and wife.  For the first, we celebrated at our home in Seattle, just the two of us.  But this year Kyle and I spent the past week visiting both of our families.  We started our vacation in Dallas with the Benadoms.  Some highlights were seeing friends, baking Pulla bread, and watching White Christmas on Christmas Eve.  Then we flew to Wisconsin, where I was hoping to see some snow on the ground, but unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) the Wisconsin weather was warmer than usual for this time of year.  We baked and frosted Christmas cookies, played Sequence, and watched the Packers play.  Now, as I'm cozied up and warmed by the heat of our fireplace back in Seattle, I reflect on not only the blessing of family and the ability to visit them, but also on how many blessings have been scattered throughout this past year.  With tomorrow being New Years Eve, we will will say goodbye to 2014 and welcome 2015 with the excitement of what the next year may hold.

Cheers and Happy New Year!

- The Zabels

CHRISTMAS LUGGAGE.

Working in a hospital, it can be challenging around the holidays to request time off.  But this year, I was fortunate to receive a full week vacation around Christmas!  Knowing that this may not happen again for a few years, we decided to visit both of our families.

After purchasing several one way tickets to make the journey from Seattle - Dallas - Milwaukee, we realized our luggage was looking a bit rough.  Especially since we have done a decent amount of traveling in our short year and a half of marriage.

So we made the decision to gift new luggage to one another for Christmas.  This felt like an "adult" sort of gift ... very practical.  We did our research to find just what we were looking for (plus the best value) and we now have two new pieces of luggage in our living room, ready for their first adventure.

P.S. I'm sure our Christmas luggage will also be "practical" for all the traveling we plan to do in the future!

NOVEMBER | SHARING A MEAL.

Kyle and I were in Seattle the entire month of November, which was refreshing as we had been in both NYC and Wisconsin the previous month.  As I think back on how we spent this past month, I would say that the overarching theme was sharing a meal.  

Together (K&E) - Early in the month, Kyle and I celebrated the anniversary of our first date (2 yrs ago) with dinner at Mkt.

With others (in a variety of forms) - Bringing pizza to a dear family, cooking | hosting at our home, happy hours, a group dinner at Westward to celebrate a birthday, brunch after church, and Thanksgiving with a community of friends.  

There is little that we enjoy more than sharing a meal.  

NYC + WI.

Kyle and I joined some friends in NYC for almost a week exploring the city and finding good food and drink.  Some highlights of the trip were walking across the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset, dinner at ABC Kitchen, and the 911 Memorial | Museum.  I was astounded by the amount of people, tall buildings, and the grittiness of the city!  I even asked Kyle, "where do people in NYC go hiking?"  NYC feels so different from life in the PNW.  

We then left NYC and headed to Milwaukee to see my sister-in-law get married.  It was a beautiful ceremony and great to celebrate with Kyle's family! 

It was a long and exhausting but enjoyable trip.  We are settling back into normal life rhythms (i.e our washing machine has been working non-stop) here in Seattle and we plan to lay low for a while as we recover!        

IN LOVING MEMORY.

This past year Kyle and I collectively have lost 3 grandparents.  The depth of each of those relationships is different, but there is a lineage linked with those we have lost.  They were once newly married with dreams about life and family.  As I reflect personally on my relationship with my grandmother (who passed a year ago today),  I have fond memories of her investing in my life and wanting to know how she could be praying for me.  I am reminded of her strength, relationship with Jesus, and love for others.  I hope to carry that legacy forward. 

SUMMER FADES TO FALL.

This summer has been wonderful!  Kyle and I have explored the PNW via hiking, running, camping, and biking.  We celebrated our one year Anniversary and both of our birthdays (all within a few week span).  Most recently we traveled down to San Luis Obispo | CA to see some dear friends get married!  At the beginning of the summer, our goals were to do the following:  Ride to Red Hook Brewery | Buy a tent & go camping | Hike in the San Juans | Drive along the PCH | Run a 1/2 Marathon.  I am happy to report we were able to check off the items on our bucket list!  Here is a collection of photos that capture some of our summer adventures. 

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SLO | WEEKEND.

Our last summer adventure was in San Luis Obispo | CA for an extended weekend. The trip began with a drive down Highway 1.  Such a spectacular drive, we even saw two pods of whales!  Staying at the Granada Hotel was the perfect spot in downtown SLO.  We hiked Bishops Peak, took cruisers and biked to a couple wineries, enjoyed the city's restaurant scene, and celebrated Kyle's birthday!  However, the highlight of the trip was celebrating with the Stipechs at their wedding. It was at a quaint venue (the Cass House) nestled in a small beach town. The design, florals, and food were perfect.  It's such an honor to witness the intimacy of two lives being joined in the covenant of marriage.

REST.

It seems that every weekend this summer has been packed with activity.  This is in part because the short summers in Seattle are gorgeous and there is a desire to squeeze in as much as possible.  The other part (probably the more likely cause) is that Kyle and I find it difficult to rest.  This weekend we decided to lay low with some leisure morning coffee, walks around Green Lake, cooking / baking, house work, and a couple meals with my cousin (visiting from Austin).  Rest has been exactly what we needed.     

ANNIVERSARY WEEKEND | SAN JUAN ISLANDS.

Kyle and I celebrated our one year anniversary this past weekend in the San Juan Islands.

Our trip began with a ferry ride from Anacortes to Friday Harbor.  We spent the day exploring San Juan Island from Roche Harbor to the lighthouse at Lime Kiln State Park.  We finished the evening with a delicious dinner at Duck Soup Inn before catching the late ferry to Orcas Island, where we stayed for the weekend.   

Saturday morning we grabbed coffee at Brown Bear Bakery and strolled through the farmers market. Later in the day we ventured into Moran State Park and hiked to the top of Mt. Constitution for some spectacular views.

Sunday was a beautiful day for a bike ride around Lopez Island and a quick break for some wine tasting.

Before heading back to Seattle on Monday morning we had our favorite breakfast of the trip at Roses in Eastsound. 

HIKING | BIKING | & BIRTHDAYS.

These past couple of weeks have been full: hiked with friends who will be getting married next month and are moving to New York City, celebrated my birthday with a delicious dinner date night, and went on a bike ride around Lake Sammamish to Red Hook Brewery!  Kyle and I are trying to soak up the Seattle summer sunshine as much as possible! 

CAMPING & HIKING | MT. RAINIER NATIONAL PARK.

Over the past few months Kyle and I have been slowly adding outdoor gear to our family collection.  This has meant many date nights at REI.  All of that collecting finally paid off as we spent this past weekend camping and hiking in the NW side of Mt. Rainier National Park.  We drove down on Saturday morning and hiked Tolmie Peak to see some breathtaking views of Rainier.  The clouds started to roll in shortly after we reached the top!  We had the obligatory Rainier beer with the mountain in view (partially).  We found a rugged camp site off the beaten path and enjoyed s'mores around the campfire.  In the morning we brought out our french press.  There's just something about drinking coffee in the woods ... it feels good for the soul!  Sunday we hiked through old growth forest to see Ranger Falls on the way to Green Lake.  It was a great weekend to get out of the city and into fresh air!  

PRESCOTT.

There is just something refreshing about the smell of Ponderosa Pine as the wind moves through the trees.  This past weekend Kyle and I joined my folks up at our family cabin which is nestled in the pine trees near Prescott National Forest.  The warm Arizona sun greeted us when we arrived in Phoenix on Saturday. It was great having lunch with some long time friends on our way up north. We spent the weekend hiking, grilling on the deck, playing sequence, and hunting for treasures in the local art galleries in the downtown square.  It was a great weekend and I am looking forward to making more cabin memories. 

HOME.

A place of rest.

A place filled with people I love. 

A place to eat, savor, and enjoy.

A place containing books, maps, and music.

A place full of grace to be known and loved. 

Welcome Home.