lemon cookies.

We are back! It was an amazing weekend, but it might take a couple of days to get the pictures together. There is so much exciting goings-ons in the Gray household right now, so I apologize if my posts seem a bit scattered. Sam and I are working on a big, BIG project that will be revealed pretty soon. I am so excited about it, I just might explode.


Tonight we had the Smiths over for dinner. It was quick, but I was so happy to see them. Stacie was my very first roommate in the dorms my freshmen year, and I haven't seen her in a long time. Too long, to be exact. I made these cookies, and upon request, I am sharing the recipe. This was one of my favorite recipes that my Daddy used to make for me. You really need to try them. They are absolutely perfect.

(Big) Lemon Cookies
We call them "Big" lemon cookies because they really must be big. You may say, "Oh, but I would much rather just make smaller cookies and get more out of the recipe." No, my dear-- quality over quantity. Make them big, and you will be very happy you did.

2 1/4 c flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 c butter, softened
3/4 c granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tbs grated lemon peel (2 lemons), divided
1 tsp vanilla
1 c powdered sugar
4-5 tsp lemon juice
additional sugar

1. Preheat oven to 375.

2. Combine Flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside. Beat butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, 1 tablespoon lemon peel, and vanilla until well blended. Beat in flour mixture on a low speed, until well blended.

3. Divide the dough into 1-2 inch balls (should make about 9-12 cookies). Place balls on ungreased cookie sheet, 3 inches apart. Flatten the dough balls with the bottom of a glass that has been dipped in additional granulated sugar.

4. Bake for 12 minutes, rotating pan halfway. Time will vary depending on the altitude and oven. I love these cookies so much that I usually stay near the oven and check constantly. It is a real tragedy when they get too crispy. Cool on cookie sheets for 2 minutes, and transfer to wire rack. Cool completely.

5. Combine powdered sugar, lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon of lemon peel. The measurements are not specific. I would start with powdered sugar and add juice until you get a glaze-like consistency. Drizzle over cookies, and let stand until icing sets. It will drip onto counter surface.

I hope these cookies make you smile.
If you try them, let me know! I would love to hear any suggestions or successes.
I hope you all had a beautiful Memorial Day weekend!

southern utah.

rox zion3


boots zion

sam smile zion

rox zion2

red rock zion

rox zion4

sam jump

We are headed down to southern Utah this weekend! We sort of feel that summer doesn't really begin until you have spent your first warm and wonderful weekend in southern Utah. We will be backpacking Coyote Gulch with some friends of ours, and we are so excited to get going!

For those of you who are not familiar with southern Utah, I posted a few pictures from our last trip when we spent a few days in Zion National Park area for President's Day weekend. Southern Utah is most famous for the beautiful red rocks that make you feel like you have suddenly wondered onto Mars. Although these pictures look like Christmastime on Mars, southern Utah is usually deliciously warm. You will find the most amazing geological formations, colors, and views. You will also run into more Europeans than if you were backpacking across Europe--they love the "Wild West." It is just a great place to celebrate summer.

I am really excited about this weekend, because it will be my first real multi-night backpacking trip. Also, we will be trying out some new equipment, like our camp stove and Sam's Osprey backpack. Sam will definitely be carrying more, but I am proud to say I will packing in some weight, too. Wish me luck! This will be the first of many weekend trips this summer. Sam and I have decided that this may be our last summer in Utah for awhile, and we are going to take advantage of it.

I proclaim this, the summer of ROXSAM!
(Any Seinfeld fans out there?)

Ps. I was hoping to have our northern California posts complete before we left for the weekend. Sorry, that didn't happen. I promise to finish those up sometime when we get back.

fern canyon.

fern canyon 2

fern canyon 1

fern canyon 8

fern canyon 7

fern canyon 6

fern canyon 9

fern canyon 5

fern canyon 3

fern canyon 4

This is Fern Canyon. Need I say anymore? It's just magical.

Ps. I have had quite a few questions about our camera lately, so I thought I would throw a shout out for our new favorite toy.

What camera do you use?
We have a Canon 60D. We love it. You should get one.

Where did you get it?
Sam bought it on B&H Photo. They have great deals, and we consider it a wonderful investment.

How long have you had it?
Sam got it for me as a Christmas gift this year. Isn't he great? We are both still getting the hang of it, but we hope that you will see improvement over the next few months!

What lenses do you use?
We only have one right now--Canon 50 mm. We hope to get more soon.

Do you edit your photos?
We do minimal post work in Photoshop.

If you have any other questions, I would be happy to answer them!

gold bluffs beach.

Gold Bluffs Rox

Gold Bluffs Sam

Gold Bluffs Lof

Gold Bluffs

Gold Bluffs Beach Dinner Rox

Gold Bluffs Beach Dinner Sam

Gold Bluffs Beach Dinner Rox2

If you stand on the beach at just the right time of day, you can see why they call them the Gold Bluffs. In the evening, the sun hits them just right and they practically glow. We set up camp there one night, only with the intent to find a campsite close to Fern Canyon for a long anticipated hike the next day. But, we fell into a bit of luck when we realized what a beautiful spot it was. The camp sites are nestled between sand dunes covered in sea grass and some sort of flower that reminded me of foxgloves.

Sam and I got so excited we dragged our little table out onto the beach to have dinner--lemonade, crackers, cheese, pears, and summer sausage--and watched the sun go down. When it got chilly, we decided to head back to the fire. I convinced Sam that we could just carry the table covered with food as is and, of course, it tipped and dumped our dinner on to the sand. I don't think Sam thought it was very funny, but I couldn't stop laughing. As a peace offering, I took the time to rinse the sand off of all the cheese and presented it to him on a paper plate.

trinidad fishing crates.

Trinidad Crates TRINIDAD

Trinidad Crates RED YELLOW

Trinidad Crates ALIBI

Trinidad Crates LUCKY 50

Trinidad Crates JEANNIE II

While in Trinidad, we came across these beautiful fishing crates on the pier. I love how each crew is branded different. My favorite is the red and yellow, no words just color. Wouldn't it be great if there was a book dedicated to the branding of fishing crews? I would love to have it.


crabbing floats trinidad

trinidad harbor sea lions

trinidad bnb


shoes trinidad

sea anenome

luffenholtz beach2

rox and sam diptych

luffenholtz beach1

Trinidad is a little town perched on the edge of a bluff overlooking Trinidad Bay. It was a perfect place to relax and celebrate our anniversary (observed). I would love to retire there. (Sam and I have a long list of our favorite small towns that we want to retire to. Sometimes I feel like I am 23, going on 83.) Trinidad Bay looks like a bright, happy version of the pirate cove that Captain Hook takes Tiger Lily to. There is a perfect, little red and white lighthouse on the edge of the bluff, and empty fishing boats bobbing in the water. The boats remind me of sunflowers because every time you look out the window they are slowly pointing in a different direction, following the ocean current in complete unison. When we first arrived in Trinidad, a small crowd was forming across the street from our bed and breakfast, peering through binoculars at a family of grey whales circling the harbor.

The next morning we walked down the bluffs to see the sea lions sunbathing on the rocks and slipping into the water to cool off. We also hiked along the beach and poked around in the tide pools. It was a rare minus tide, so the bases of the tall monolith rocks revealed a blanket of fat, fleshy starfish and sea anemones. We climbed along the rocks and the large stretch of wet sand, occasionally joined by dogs on leashes bounding along beside us. There is a sweet, salty fish smell that grows stronger the closer you get to the pier at the harbor. Wooden crates with rope handles encrusted in salt and sea are stacked along the pier. The town is quiet and comfortable, and watching the traffic to and from the harbor is entertainment enough.

If you ever find yourself in Trinidad, California:
1. Trinidad Bay B&B- A bright, red bed and breakfast owned by a man named Jason, a photographer from the area. Each room has a theme and an unbelievable view of the harbor from every window. For breakfast, we had the most delicious baked apple and eggs, and a delightful conversation with a lovely silver-haired woman from Oregon, named Valentine.

2. Moonstone Grill- It was our anniversary splurge, and completely worth it. From our table we could see Moonstone Beach spread out in one direction, and the sun setting over the ocean in the other. Get a cup of their seafood chowder-- soup so rich you might fall into a dreamy slumber right there in your seat. Sam had crab and halibut, and I had lightly-breaded abalone over vermicelli. It really was just dreamy.

3. Aztec Grill- Located in the corner of the Chevron gas station--we went there after we drooled over a burrito some guy was eating as he overlooked the harbor. "The best burrito you will ever get from a gas station," he said.

This is only the third post in our series about our trip to northern California-- so keep posted!

my little sister.

Danielle - flamingos


Today is my little sister's birthday.

Happy birthday, Danielle!
Love you.

eureka and ferndale.

eureka books

eureka books2

pink victorian

rox eureka

carson victorian

ferndale cemetery



ferndale barn

This is the second post in our series about our trip to northern California.

If you ever find yourself in Eureka, California:
1. Eureka Books- A beautiful antique book shop in Old Town Eureka. You will get lost, I promise. In fact, I lost Sam for a good 20 minutes before I found him on the second floor balcony gushing over some design book. We left with a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee--one of my favorites. We wish that we would have gotten a portrait of the owner, who happened to be a friend of Ken Sanders.

2. Victorian Homes- Just drive or walk around town to spot some of the most ornate and colorful Victorian homes on the West Coast. They remind me of Betsy, Tacy, Tib novels. Anybody else? Or, was I the only one who was obsessed with petticoats and stockings when I was a little girl?

3. Shipwreck- A vintage shop, also in Old Town Eureka. We loved it because it was full of treasures, reasonably priced, and the shop itself was well-designed and friendly. And, hiding on a little shoe shelf, I found a pair of Joan and David oxfords!

4. St. Vincent de Paul thrift store- Yes, we hit every thrift store in Humboldt County. St. Vincent's was huge. They didn't have a huge selection of clothing, but they had a large room of furniture and household items. Sam found a vintage Tensor mid-century table lamp. I was a bit skeptical at first, because it looked like a piece of junk. But, Sam has applied some rubbing alcohol and a little elbow grease, and it actually looks pretty good now.

5. Rita's- Sam used to come here when he was a missionary, and we ended up eating here twice. Rita's has great taqueria-style mexican food, we could have eaten there every day if we hadn't had a little bit of restraint. Also, we had our very first spicy-dish that totally kicked our butts. Stay clear of the chipotle potato taco, unless you want to sear your internal organs.

If you ever find yourself in Ferndale, California:
1. go for a drive- First of all, you need to find yourself in Ferndale. It's a little out of the way, but it is well worth the trip. Ferndale is a picture-perfect, quaint town surrounded by farmland and big, red barns. Have you seen The Majestic? It was filmed in Ferndale. Oh, and so was Pet Cemetery.

2. Ferndale cemetery- We may be a bit morbid, but Sam and I love visiting cemeteries in small towns. Ferndale's cemetery looks like a picnic laid out on a hill. We spent a little time walking through the headstones carefully placed along the slope, reading names and dates. There were trees heavy with blossoms and entire plots covered with flower gardens--white calla lilies and orange poppies.

We have a few more posts planned about our trip, and so many, many pictures. I hope you are having a happy May!