Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Nana Stories: Part III (The End of Summer Fling, Day 2)

After breakfast the next morning, we headed up the mountain to Magness Tree Farm. This lovely forest is managed by our friend Bill, who was nice enough to let us use the indoor bathroom instead of the PortaPotties. 
Thank you Bill.
I am never too ashamed to take advantage of a little nepotism.

There are several trails at the tree farm. We somehow ended up on the 1/2 mile, paved trail, that has many benches on which to sit and signs explaining the flora and fauna of the woods.
If you are very lucky, like me, you might see cute children adorning the benches.

Cute children who, I might add, were very noisy and rambunctious on their riparian ramble. No amount of coaxing on my part would induce them to be quiet, but I continued to read the signs in the hope that something would pique their interest. Everything I read was met with a loud and obnoxious "I know!" from eldest grandson. Finally, it became a joke and all four of them were singing "I know, I know" as we walked along.

We took a little detour to the source of the spring that was the only water supply for the original Magness family. One of the rugrats spotted a woodpecker. I was happy to point out that if they were very, very quiet, they would probably see many more interesting things.
It was like magic.
Suddenly, four children were creeping along, vigilantly peering into the trees to see what they could see.

This toppled tree is full of woodpecker holes.


...and looking. Natalie is examining more woodpecker holes.

We found a great tree for photos.

We crossed a stream on a wobbly plank.
Josh refused to have his photo taken. I guess I had exceeded his quota!

Natalie walked very carefully.

As we followed the trail along, we heard what we thought were birds talking to each other in the trees, so we stopped and listened. I soon realized that it was squirrels chattering to each other. We could see a couple of them sitting on branches and we had fun watching and listening to them. 

The next item on the agenda was Dairy Queen.

Josh and Natalie had the star thingy.

Kenzie, Daniel, and I split a chocolate cookie dough Blizzard, because I am cheap that way.
It was not my favourite.

We headed home for a quick lunch and then drove to Charlie and Sam's apartment complex, which has a swimming pool and an accommodating uncle, who spent a couple of hours tossing small children high into the air. 
I took way too many photos, because I loved capturing the expressions on Josh and Natalie's faces as they flew through the air.

This is the boy who is terrified of water.

Wasn't that exhilarating?
Myself, I sat on a lounge chair in the shade and read a very good book.
[Have you read Cutting for Stone? You should.]
Before anyone was ready, except for maybe Charlie, it was time to go home.
And that was it, until next year.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Nana stories: Part II (The End of Summer Fling, Day 1)

I know what you're thinking.
You mean we have to suffer through more than one day of this?
Yes indeed!

Bethany was bemoaning the fact that there were still two weeks left of summer holidays and wondering if she would survive the torture bliss.
I had a little think to myself as I drove home and decided to invite the kids over for a couple of days of fun in the sun. 
One of my friends does a week-long camp for her grandkids every summer.
I'm not that crazy resourceful, but I figured I had a good twenty-four hours in me.

The next Monday afternoon, Bethany gleefully wistfully dropped them off and danced her way out of the door with Madelyn.

I had done a little prep work and mooched some giant bubble paraphernalia from my friend, Hope. 
Let me tell you, this Nana rocked the entertainment factor that evening! Here is the link to the bubble instructions, just in case you want to be mighty like me.
Or, if you're very polite, I'll give you Hope's number!

Next on the menu was customized individual pizzas for dinner.
I whipped up a gluten-free crust for Josh and he was meticulous in the placement of his toppings: pepperoni, olives, and pineapple.
No cheese for this dairy-free boy!

Here it is, ready to go in the oven. I wish I had gotten a photo of him eating it. I have never seen him eat anything quite so gleefully, with little grunts of satisfaction. He ate almost the whole pizza for dinner and the rest for lunch the next day. This Nana's heart was most delighted.

Kenzie and Natalie with their more traditional pizzas. Natalie discovered that she likes pineapple on her pizza.

Daniel had breadsticks, as usual, and I forgot to take a photo but I would have had to be quick as they were eaten in a flash.

After dinner, we played with the bubbles some more and then got ready for bed.
Pyjamas were donned and teeth cleaned.

We played an excruciatingly long game of Uno and then went to bed.
Promises of "lots of fun tomorrow" quelled their tendency to chatter and they were soon asleep.
My pillow and I were very happy to see each other.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Nana stories: Part I

It was a dark and stormy night....

If you've been reading for any length of time, you know that Jeff and I give our grandchildren gifts of experiences, rather than the usual toys or clothes. Last year in July, I told Bethany we would pay for swimming lessons for Josh for his birthday. Time went by...and by....and by, until I finally learned that Josh didn't want swimming lessons. He is scared of many things, remember? Water is one of them. 
So I planned an outing for Josh and Thomy to the art studio, thus taking care of T's birthday in May this year and J's birthday last year.
Whew. Sometimes the tracking of all this stuff gets a bit convoluted for my aging brain!

So, on a sunny Friday morning, off we trotted to My Masterpiece Art Studio, the setting of many happy outings for the Osborne progeny. 
The first time I took Josh there he refused to make a project and just watched his siblings and cousin. Towards the end of our visit, he decided he wanted to participate, so I let him use some of the clay that the other kids were using, dabbling his toes in the artistic waters, so to speak. I had promised to take him another time, now that he had decided it was an okay thing.

It was Monster Day again! What are the odds of that happening twice, a year apart? 
I told the boys that they could choose two projects each. 
Thomy chose a monster collage and painted an articulated wooden weiner dog that looked just like Squeaker. 
Josh, of course, chose only the collage and could not be bribed, coerced, or otherwise talked into a second one.

The monsters were pretty awesome-looking, don't you agree?

And, just because Josh hardly ever smiles so big on demand, here's another one.

Thomy takes his art quite seriously.

After this we went to Pump It Up, the play zone of inflatable bouncy things, and had lots of fun but no photos. 

And, just for a lark, how about some Madelyn photos to sweeten your day?

What's that you ask? 
What is Josh getting for his latest birthday?
Only tickets to go to a Timbers game with his Papa! I tried to renege on the promise and come up with something else after I found out that all their games were sold out, but someone's Mommy was pretty insistent that He Had Been Told. I swallowed my disgruntlement with ticket scalpers and bought two in the secondary market.
In thirty years, when I am old and decrepit and I ask him, "Josh, what was the best night of your life", he had better say, "The time Papa took me to my first Timbers game"!

The End.

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!