Hiking and Happiness

January 30, 2011

We have had unseasonably warm weather lately. and have been fortunate to have little to no rain in the last few weeks. This is fortunate for us who love to be outdoors and walk in the woods. This morning was one of those mornings as my little guy, husband, dog and I ventured out to the Sandy River Delta to explore and stretch some muscles.

But, seeing this is Oregon it was a very muddy trail, albeit very fun. Lucy has so much fun on these hikes that it really is a pleasure to take her walking. She gets to be herself: a happy, excited and cheerful pup as she smells scents, marks territory and greets other dogs in the off leash area.  Husband and I had a long and lovely conversation as we walked through the woods and the little guy got to take in the smells of the woods and all the different dogs.

This was our second time using our hiking pack and I think its a winner! This pack has gone through two cousins and is now on its third toddler. My brother and his family had it first and it took a long journey from California to our lovely woods. It is so nice to not push a stroller or have the heat of my body mixed with his as in the carrier. He loves his backpack and all the advantage of the field of vision it gives him.

I love being able to walk in the woods and really sink in the wintertime greens, the bare branches, the muddy trails with puddles. Also, you get to see so many different birds that just flitter and fly as you walk into the glens. The Sandy River delta is open and grassy with many, many miles of gravel paths and dirt trails. There is even a bird sanctuary and a path to the mighty Columbia River.

The inlets of the Sandy River inhabit small fish, frogs and salamanders. As you wander through the paths you can hear the croaking of frogs and barking of dogs, the occasional cricket chirping and your own thoughts. The wind rustles through the trees and you can smell the Gorge: the fresh, grassy, leafy smell of the woods. The smell of rain and water and moss, the smell of nature. As we found the entrance to the river, of course, Lucy found any possible puddle and inlet to swim and had one heck of a time.

If the weather holds maybe we can do it again next weekend!



January 28, 2011

A picture of what is currently peaking my interest. Just a photo, no words or explanation. If you would like to share with me your interests, I would love to see them. Please leave it in the comments.

In progress…

January 27, 2011

Right now in my work stash I have:

A lovely spring skirt cut and pinned, but has yet to make it to the sewing machine.

Two aprons cut and pieced, but yet to be pinned. Sometime soon they will make it to my kitchen!

Knitting needle holders somewhat finished and…

A sewing kit that my little guy got into and destroyed. I mean pulled all the threads, tossed everything out and then back in and let me just say it is a mess. This might be the reason I haven’t finished all my other projects ~ I just can’t do anything until I get this all sorted out!

And finally the first eighth of my very first scarf. I have been toting this with me everywhere and getting in a row here, a few rows there. I do think it will all get done soon… maybe by fall?

Whats in your work bag?

In the cupboard.

January 26, 2011

Today we’re delving into our cupboards, or more particularly,  my canning cupboard. I don’t know much about any one else’s canning cupboards, but I know mine is looking a bit bare.  This summer my favorite tomato processing machine was ambushed by my little guy as he took a main piece of it and placed it in our recycle bin. Did we notice this before it went to the curb? No. Therefore many of my precious tomatoes got roasted and frozen to be made into sauce at a later date.

What I love about looking at my canning cupboard is remembering all the stories that happened around the time those things were put up.

The summer before my son was born we made pickles. By we, I of course means I was nine months pregnant and I sat and cut cucumbers to the right size while my husband made the brine, sanitized the jars and basically finished the whole process. I supervised. He sweetly labeled them for me and we had a lovely, two year batch of Pia’s Pickle. Our friends and families have received these as presents throughout the year and I have been told they are the best we’ve ever made. Maybe I should “let” him help more often!

We also canned roasted red peppers and zucchini relish. The relish was made as one of my very first entry into the State Fair. I made it because I had ample zucchini and I really, really wanted to enter stuff into the fair. I entered a pie, pickles and relish: and did not win anything for any of it!  If you have never had zucchini relish it is the best over grilled meats and vegetables. Sweet, briny and chock full of vegetables, it is a wonderful accompaniment. I also really like it on salads and wraps.  The roasted red peppers are one of my favorites to add to pasta, sandwiches, and especially on pizzas.

Jams! Jams! Jams! We love jam in our house. I believe all of us live on peanut butter and jellies, homemade fruit bars and toast. Yes, we love our bread and jam. In this cupboard we have strawberry, blackberry and fig, along with the (yikes!) last jar of canned pears. The strawberries were from the first batch of last summer’s local berries, a sweet, succulent berry that just melts in your mouth. The blackberry and fig jams were the last batch from my husband’s grandmother’s farm that they left this year.  Every year we would go berry and fig picking at their farm and make jams and pies from them. This was our very last time with the berries and every taste of our jam reminds us of that September picking berries in the warm sun.

Yes, our pantry has many stories to tell, and as we delve into the rest I look forward to sharing our stories of putting food up. Generally, taking the time to grow, pick and purchase quality, in season produce and fruits means being hopeful for the future – taking time to really prepare for what we hope will be a pleasant winter filled with the tastes and smells of summer.




January 24, 2011

While I sit here and write I am looking out my window and seeing my beautiful garden lush with greens and flowers, trees blooming and gently swaying in the breeze. I see bees buzzing, my hens clucking and scratching for bugs and leaves, chasing each other across the yard. The vegetables are up, tender and soft leaves barely pushing their way out of our dark, loamy soil, each baby leaf unfurling to find sun, wind, water, life.

The sun is shining and the tulips are up.  Tender petals pushing open, turning from green to peach to pink as the flower opens. The tulips are up and daffodils are opening up and the grass is green. The apple and pear tree are bursting with buds and across the fence I see my neighbor’s cherry tree drooping with blooms.

Yes, in my dream it is full, luscious spring. And today it was lovely – the sun was shining, the wind blowing and the park beckoned us outside. My little guy, the dog and I wandered out and across the way to a lovely neighborhood park. We played and climbed and slid and bounced. He swung, I pushed, he flew, I caught. I had my fingers firmly held by a little boy calling, “Momma, momma” everywhere he went and wanting to show me everything: the swing set, the slide, the bouncy bridge, the ship’s wheel.  I felt loved, shared with and coveted as he pulled me to show me a leaf he found, “Ohhhhh!” a bug crawling on the ground, “Ohhhhh!” the dog rolling on the grass.

It might still be January, it might be sunny today and pouring tomorrow as most Januaries in the Pacific Northwest go, yes it might be the beginning of the year but today, today dear readers, today I am dreaming. Dreaming of spring, dreaming of days spent on walks, hikes and picnics, days of exploring the garden and yard with a curious little boy who sees more than I ever will and wishes to share it with me.

Holy Pancake Batman!

January 23, 2011

Sunday mornings are rather special to me.  You wake up and usually there is a day just for family, cooking, baking and hanging around. Most Sundays at our house are lazy to start, with lots of playtime, books read, football to watch and something wonderful for breakfast. This is usually where I come in ~ I love breakfast. Something crunchy, creamy, warm and hopefully quick to throw together that everyone loves.

This morning I woke up with a hankering for a Baked Pancake. If you are anything like me, you are probably wondering what on earth is a Baked Pancake! I mean, how can you bake a Pancake? I know, this is also what I thought until I went to an old coworkers house for brunch one weekend and he served me this amazing, crunchy, butter flying saucer that looked and tasted like heaven. I was smitten and asked for the recipe immediately!

So here you go, one of my favorites that is so fast to throw together and will impress anyone when set on the table.

Baked Pancake

serves 2

1/2 stick of butter (I use 1/4)

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup milk

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Place butter in a pie dish and place in cold oven. Turn oven on to preheat at 400 with pie dish inside.

In a medium bowl, whisk milk and flour together until lump free. Add eggs, vanilla and nutmeg and mix. When oven is ready, pull out rack with pie pan on it and using a rubber spatula pour batter right into hot pie pan. Put back in oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Serve with powdered sugar, maple syrup or (my favorite!) fresh fruit and unsweetened whipped cream.


This moment…

January 21, 2011

A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

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