Sunday, August 19, 2012

Feeling the love

A couple of weeks ago, I accompanied Bethany and the progeny on an outing to Multnomah Falls, the premier tourist destination in Oregon.
Beware of camera-carrying, silly-shoe-wearing groups of foreigners.
The plan was to hike to the top of the falls, fulfilling a Cub Scout requirement for Daniel.
Pretty sure I was there for damage control, but I'll take what I can get!

Multnomah Falls is actually two separate falls that are about 620 feet high, so it's not an outrageous climb, but can be a bit challenging with small children due to the extreme drop-off on the side of the path. We felt quite smug, being veteran climbers of the cliff, as we passed many poor souls pushing strollers and wearing flip-flops on the path.
Madelyn had the best seat in the house, being snugly carried all the way to the top by her mommy. She felt very secure and slept all the way up. 

Daniel insisted on having his picture taken at every switchback marker. It's kinda nice that the switchbacks are marked now, so that a climber has a general idea of his progress. 
I will not subject you to every photo of Daniel's progress up the mountain, although I will tell you that, for one so young and agile, he did a great deal of happy whining about the length of the hike.
I told him he was a wimp and that Cub Scouts aren't allowed to be wimps.

Here is Josh, our intrepid sports player who is afraid of many things, including steep mountain trails. He clung to my hand all the way up and down, and was much happier when he was on the inside of the trail.
This Nana loved it, because he is usually very independent and rejects my cuddly advances.
(Insert evil laugh here.)
For one with short legs and a tendency towards asthma, Josh was a trooper and kept up his end very well.

There are some glorious spots along the trail, as well as wonderful views of the Columbia River Gorge. Washington State is on the other side of the river.

Miss Natalie, when she is not being the Queen of Horrible, is a sweet little girl who loves to be loved. She was right behind Daniel at every photographic opportunity. Once she realized there was no other choice, she held my other hand all the way up and much of the way down. Natalie always has lots of questions and is the girl who sings along with the radio to every song, perfectly on pitch for some time now at the grand age of four. Her lyrics are sometimes inventive.

Kenzie, the long-legged Fashion Queen, loped along at the front and had to frequently be admonished to slow down. She still loves me, but her friends are seriously horning in on our time together.
Darn that adolescence!

The top of the falls has a viewing platform. You can't see the waterfall, obviously, but the view of the Gorge is spectacular.

The falls are spring-fed and we sat by the stream for a while to recuperate and eat snacks and throw rocks into the water.

I admit that I was a bit nervous going down about Bethany and her precious cargo, because a mis-step would have been disastrous on that steep path, but she was sure-footed every step of the way. 

It was a happy day.
Hope your summer is filled with happy days too.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

My sister and me

Here we are, circa 1964-ish.
I think I still have that cardigan that Anne is wearing, only it is navy blue, which tells you what has happened to the colours in the photo over the years.

My darling sister modified a bread recipe and sent it to me. 
What can I say? It is a genetic thing. She calls it "Annifying". I just call it messing around.
Anyway, the recipe is the direct antithesis of my slow-rise bread. 
Which, if you haven't tried yet, you should. 
This recipe is the quickest gun in the West, about an hour and fifteen minutes from finding the mixing bowl to taking out of the oven. I still prefer my original recipe, but this is the one I use if I forget to plan ahead.
Thank you, sister dear.
Oh, and did I mention that I modified it some more?

Quick Wheat Bread
Spray a loaf pan with non-stick spray.
Dissolve 1 tbs honey in 3/4c boiling water. 
Add 1 c cold water and a scant 2 tsp yeast. Set aside for 10 minutes, till yeast is foamy.
Add 1 c white flour, 1 1/2 c wheat flour, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp chia seed, and about 1/2 to 3/4 c of various things like flax seed, 10-grain cereal, etc.
Mixture will be fairly sloppy. Pour into prepared pan and sprinkle with seeds or nuts if you want. 
Place in a cold oven and turn oven to 180 degrees. Bake for 20 minutes and turn oven up to 400 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes. Bread will be quite brown (as pictured) and sound hollow when tapped. Put on rack to cool immediately.
This is a heavy and moist loaf, just like I love. The middle will sink a little, in fact I'm working on the texture to see if I can get it to hold the raised middle, but it may be a lost cause. It makes great toast, if it lasts that long. Also, if you have it for more than a couple of days in warm weather, better put it in the fridge or it will mould.

There, easy as pie! 

Anne and I are not ones to pose for photos, apparently, because this is the only recent one I can find of us. 

Just for fun, here is a picture of one of the hummingbirds that flits around in my flowerbeds. He was taking a little break on a gladiolus stem the other day. We get more hummingbird visits every year, and one day I saw two at the same time, a first! I still get excited every time I hear the clicking sound that means they are on the property.

I had a few friends over for lunch a couple of weeks ago. I wanted them to meet two very interesting sisters that I got to know through my senior choir. 
I have a few small vases and I love to fill them with a bloom or two and display them together. These are the flowers I picked for the lunch. I think they're unbearably adorable.

Hot Cocoa rose, Shasta daisy and crocosmia.

Peace rose (always reminds me of my Dad) and hydrangea.

The one in the middle is Double Delight rose, another of our favourites. It smells like a rose should smell.

Do you have fun things planned for August? I was feeling deprived because we did our traveling in June, but we still have one weekend getaway planned for the middle of the month, as well as the free concert every Tuesday and a few other random outings. I suppose I shall survive, but if you have any suggestions, I'm up for almost anything!

Green, clean, chocolate-loving machine

As I was idling away a few hours minutes on facebook the other day, I saw that Stacey, an old friend who runs a carpet-cleaning business from a nearby city, was going to be in our town the next day and was looking for some more work. 
Before I could think better of it, I told him to pay me a visit.
Eek, what was I thinking? 
We put in new carpet about three or four years ago (the years just fly by, don't they?) and I've been procrastinating the evil moment of cleaning for at least two years now. Our warranty is void unless we get the carpet professionally cleaned every 18 months. Oops! So I bit the bullet and spent the next morning moving furniture and vacuuming.

Yes, I single-handedly wrestled everything but the coffee table and the brown couch frames, which were too heavy. 

My adored rocking chair is too wide to fit through a door so it had to keep watch at the end of the hallway.

Stacey helped me move the last of the furniture and then spent the next couple of hours industriously working the carpets. He co-owns a Zerorez franchise, which doesn't use any harsh chemicals or inject too much water into your carpets, so there is no residue and it dries quickly. I was very impressed with how my music room carpet cleaned up,which is a much older carpet and very stained and spotty. Now it looks almost new again.

Consider this my wholehearted endorsement of Zerorez, the green carpet-cleaning company. 
If you have stinky, dirty, nasty carpets, give Stacey a call and tell him I sent you. 
Maybe we'll make him rich.
And maybe he'll give me a cut of the proceeds.

About the cut of the proceeds bit, not the calling Stacey bit.
You know that, right?

While I was moving all the knicknacks that reside on the sofa table, I fell in love again with this card that my Mum sent me several years ago. I loved it so much that I framed it.
And here it is, to sweeten your day too.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

So what's up with you?

Summer is flying by and I have been distracted by some unique projects. Be on the alert for a slew of blog posts!
Enlightenment is imminent.

Jeff and I went to First Friday Art Walk last night, just on a whim. The weather was nice, our allergies have dimmed, and we both needed a break from the computers. After my usual complaint that the art walk has become a wine walk, we went into my favourite art gallery.
Art is a guilty hobby of mine and I rarely exit a gallery without a purchase.
Well, depending on whether tightwad husband is along! If I am with friends, I might carry several small treasures home with me.

I told Jeff, last night, that some day my kids are going sell off all my lovely art at a gigantic garage sale for pennies on the dollar. On the other hand, maybe my taste is so impeccable that they will divide it up without squabbling (because they are good kids that way) and treasure it forever.
Keep an eye on that for me, would ya?

Last night, Jeff would have cheerfully left the gallery without this lovely wine glass, made by a local artist by the name of Greg Johnson.

Greg makes large and small vases and bowls, as well as smaller pieces like mugs and other vessels. 
I have a thing about glass and good pottery that begs to be picked up and caressed. It's a tactile thing. Notice the lovely high gloss of the glaze and the rich colours. His work all has this signature look and I wanted to buy a larger piece, but Jeff reminded me of how much art we have packed into our relatively small house.
I conceded his point, but I wanted to get two of the wine glasses for when we drink our sparkling juice.
Nope. Wouldn't budge.
So my lovely wine glass became a vessel for the ubiquitous pistachios that grace our table.

Classiest. Pistachio. Bowl. Ever!