Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It's almost that time!

I'm on the Better Homes & Gardens e-mail list, which also sends cool holiday ideas from sister magazine, Parents. This was in my inbox this morning and I just think it's SO cool! I may have to print some and color.

There are several neat designs... just click on the picture to see the Web page.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Cookie Day: Chocolate Chip Bars

My Friday schedule offers a little extra time... hopefully for baking with CE2 students! Today I whipped out a quick batch of chocolate chip bars. YUM! They are currently eating them hot from the oven :)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Corn chowder from the garden

Brad loves corn chowder, and since we have an abundance of ears from our community garden, I thought I'd try a recipe. I found this one on the Better Homes and Gardens Web site and, of course, didn't really measure and made some modifications.

  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 6 fresh medium ears of corn or 3 cups frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery (I didn't have any so I left it out)
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 14-1/2-ounce can chicken broth (I used homemade veggie broth from the freezer)
  • 1 cup cubed, peeled potato
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • Dash ground red pepper (I used a large dash)
  • 1/2 cup diced, fully cooked ham
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons snipped fresh parsley (didn't have this, either)
I also shredded in some zucchini (because I had it) and a couple leftover tomatillos.


1. If using fresh corn, use a sharp knife to cut off just the kernel tips, then scrape the cobs with the dull edge of the knife. You should have 3 cups corn.

2. Place 1-3/4 cups corn in a food processor bowl. Cover and process until smooth; set aside.

3. In a large saucepan cook onion and celery in hot oil until onion is tender but not brown. Stir in chicken broth and potato. Bring to boiling; reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Stir in the corn puree and the remaining corn. Cook, uncovered, about 10 minutes more or until potato and corn are tender, stirring occasionally.

4. In a small bowl combine milk, flour, pepper, and ground red pepper; stir into corn mixture. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 1 minute more. Stir in ham and cheese; cook and stir until cheese melts and soup is heated through. Garnish with parsley. Makes 5 servings.

This was yummy! I put away several containers in the freezer to enjoy after the fresh veggies are gone.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Spinach artichoke dip

With my new role at THS, I don't have much time for cooking/baking with the students. But Robbie, who wants to be a chef, went in the CE2 kitchen and whipped up some spinach artichoke dip to share! Andy and I polished off about half of it right away. Some students who'd never had it were a bit scared. But when they eventually tried it, they also loved it! Robbie wrote down the recipe for us: Because it was so good, I'll share with you!

16 oz cream cheese
1 c any cheese (cheddar, mozz, Swiss)
1/2 c sour cream
1/2 c parm/asiago/romano blend
1/4 t black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced (I would add more if I was making it!!)

Blend until thoroughly mixed.
Slowly add:
3/4 c chopped spinach
1 3/4 c chopped artichoke hearts

Spread in cookie sheet or casserole dish. Sprinkle 1/2 c of mozzarella on top. Bake at 350 degrees until cheese starts to brown. Enjoy hot on crackers or bread.

YUM!!!! Thanks, Robbie :)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Race for the Cure 2009

On Sunday, I joined with 40,000+ others for the 2009 Race for the Cure in downtown Portland. It was my fourth Race and another wonderful experience! This year I ran for Team Butz, organized by the Tigard High School football team in honor of Stephanie Butz, wife of assistant coach and THS teacher Jay Butz. She was diagnosed this summer with breast cancer and immediately had a double mastectomy. She is currently undergoing chemotherapy.

My mom (who never before ran an entire 5K!) ran for Stephanie but also for Caren, a good friend from her high school years who died just last month from breast cancer.
Look at the sea of people running down Broadway for the co-ed 5K run:
There goes Mom:
I'm just yards from the finish line:
And Eryn:
And Mom & Dad: She ran the whole thing!!!!!
Right after the race, we ran into Aunt Kari and cousins Kayla and Jessie:
THANKS SO MUCH to everyone who donated to my fund-raising effort! I am still $118.10 short of my goal, so if you feel led, please click here to give. Any amount helps :)

-Liz :)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I need $159!

The Race for the Cure is Sunday - and I'm just $159 short of my fund-raising goal!

If you can spare even a few dollars to help me reach my goal.
Just click HERE to visit my page (http://race.komenoregon.org/goto/lizwoodteambutz) and give. And a BIG thanks to everyone who has already donated!

If you didn't see my earlier post, I'm running this year in honor of Stephanie Butz, the wife of friend and co-worker, Jay. She was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and had surgery over the summer.

-Liz :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tigard Family Fest 2009

With Brad climbing last weekend, the ladies had to step up and make a strong showing at the Tigard Family Fest 5K.
Laura, Kendra, Liz, Sarah, Eryn, Emma & Noah ready to roll!

Guess who won her division? No surprise here - she won the last race we did together, too!
Sarah shows off her prize of movie tickets and corn socks!

Check out the race page for the official results. Join us next year for fun and free breakfast :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mt. Cruiser - 9/13/09

This past weekend I headed out once again with the Mazamas, this time to climb Mount Cruiser in the Sawtooth range near Olympic National Park.

Our team gathered early Saturday morning at the leader’s house in Portland to carpool to the Staircase Ranger Station in Olympic National Park.
John, Mike, Kim, Jessica, & Chad at a rest stop about half way in

Upon registering at the ranger station we were told that we needed to be out by 6 p.m. Sunday. Apparently the area was being closed so they could replace the temporary patch with a permanent fix for a section of road that had been washed out.

We were told that our cars would be stuck in the parking lot once they tore out the temporary section and we might not be able to get them out for a week. This meant we were going to be very tight on time to reach the summit and hike all the way back out on Sunday, but no pressure. ; )

After gathering our gear we set out on the 8-mile hike in to Flapjack Lakes. Flapjack Lakes is a popular limited-use area equipped with bear wires, vault toilets, and is staffed by a wilderness ranger most weekends during the summer.
Flapjack lakes with Sawtooth in the background

The trail started out fairly mellow, but then we began to ascend the ~3,100’ in the last half. Somehow I managed to remain glued to the heels of Chad, who is a fit marathon runner, as he led our hike for most of the ascent. The exertion provided a good outlet for my masochistic tendencies.

During the hike in, leader John and I began talking about the Mazamas Advanced Rock class, which I took last summer. He asked if I would be interested in leading the 5th-class section that led to the summit on Sunday. It’s rare that I’ll turn down an opportunity to lead rock that’s within my ability, so I anxiously took him up on the offer.

We headed for the group campsite that we’d reserved at Flapjack Lakes, eager to set up camp and relax before our early rise Sunday for the climb. The campsite was vacant, with the exception of five tents belonging to a Boy Scout troop, so we headed down to the lake to hang out while we waited for their leader to return so we could sort out the campsite situation.

The resident ranger eventually rolled into camp and we were able to verify that there were other open campsites, so John graciously offered to let the Boy Scout troop remain in the group campsite. We also discussed the road closure situation a bit and determined that the work probably wouldn’t start until Monday morning, but that we should be out by at least 8 p.m. or we might get locked in.

We were off to a bit of a rough start with the surprise road closure and the campsite reservation debacle, but it all worked out. We decided to start a bit earlier than originally planned on Sunday to make sure we were out on time.

4:30 a.m. came way too early, but we had a deadline so we got moving fairly quickly. There’s a nice trail from Flapjack Lakes up to the base of Needle Pass where we left the beaten path to scramble up a loose rock-filled gully to the crest of the range. The going was a bit sketchy as the six of us made our way up to the pass trying not to send rocks down on each other.

Ascending the gully to Needle Pass

From Needle Pass we had to traverse the ridge crest over to the base of Mount Cruiser. There was a lot of exposed 4th-class scrambling and some route finding required to make our way across the ridge, which added to the adventure of this trip.

We dropped our packs at the base of a chimney leading up to a large platform at the base of Mount Cruiser. After mustering some courage we ascended this gully un-roped and squeezed through a small hole in the rock to gain the platform that would serve as our staging area for the technical portion of this climb.

Mike squeezing through the hole at the top of the chimney

As we waited for the rest of the group, Jess and I located the belay ledge and scouted the climbing route. Unfortunately, the climb began with a bulge just above the belay ledge which made it impossible to scout the route from the bottom.

Once John arrived he handed me “the rack”. I should mention that I had not planned to lead this until I was on the trail, so I didn’t bring any gear of my own that I would usually use for leading, I was in hiking boots, and I could hardly see any of the route I was about to climb. Fortunately I was feeling confident that day, so in my mind this added greatly to the adventure. “The rack” that John had brought consisted of 5 stoppers, 2 cams, 3 tri-cams, and not nearly enough carabiners and slings. For those of you reading this who are not climbers this is about ¼ of the gear I would usually carry up a climb like this at the crag, and about ½ what I would usually take in the mountains. I was a bit nervous about heading into the unknown being so sparsely equipped, but I knew that the rock was easy.

Once I started up the route I was glad to see that the climbing was easy so that I could focus on finding gear placements to protect my ascent. This turned out to be quite a challenge as the rock in this area has very few cracks. It took some significant creativity to complete the pitch with what I had on my harness. The guide book says this is a 70-foot pitch. What I discovered is that 70’ only gets you to a belay ledge from which you have to traverse across a very narrow exposed ridge to the summit. I knew nobody in our group would want to climb this un-roped and that belaying each other one at a time would take forever, so I clipped the belay anchor as I passed and pushed on to the summit where I was able to fix the end of the rope to a large horn. After completing the pitch and fixing the rope I had two carabiners left and zero slings. That’s as close as I’ve ever come to running out of gear on a route.

This is a photo of a private group of Mazamas who climbed the same route right after us

With a fixed line in place I called down to the rest of the group to head on up. We took turns on the small summit before rappelling back to the safety of the staging platform below. From here we rappelled back down through the keyhole and the chimney to our packs.

Descending the chimney back to our packs

We ended up setting about four fixed lines on our descent since down climbing this steep terrain was quite intimidating for all but the most experienced climbers. Although the rope provided much more safety it also tended to knock down a lot of loose rock as we rappelled down the loose gully from Needle Pass. Fortunately everyone made it down safely and we began the short jaunt back to camp before heading down the mountain.

Once in camp we refueled and packed up before heading for the cars. I burned down the trail like a horse headed back to the barn in an effort to hike out before darkness set in and the gate was locked. We managed to knock off the 8 miles back in less than 3 hours, which put us at the cars at 8 p.m. We quickly packed up and headed down the road hoping the gate had not yet been locked.

Fortunately the Rangers had left it partly open so we could get through. We stopped for burgers at a tavern in Hoodsport and then drove home. I arrived home exhausted after midnight.

I must say I wasn’t good for much at work the next day, but it was an awesome adventure and I’m glad we did it.

More photos of the climb, and another trip report from Jessica:
Jessica's Trip report
Jessica's Photos
Kim's Photos
Brad's Photos

Monday, September 14, 2009

Girls' Weekend, Sept. 2009

Feeling the need to get away, my lady friends planned another girls' weekend beach trip for the first of September. A bunch of us spent a relaxing time at Pacific City, chatting, snacking, walking, shopping, reading and sleeping. Of course, Saturday's lunch was a traditional cheese buffet!!!
Girls rule! :)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Signs of fall

Despite today's warm weather, several signs point to fall!! On my way to church, I passed a truck full of pumpkins. Yellow leaves were scattered beneath trees on the lawn -- and children were tossing them about. And the Seahawks are playing on TV this afternoon. Soon, the shorter days will be filled with clouds and drizzle - my favorite!

What's your favorite season?? Take the poll on the right ----> ----->


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Rock of Ages (8/29/09)

Poor weather canceled Brad's North Sister climb last month, so we decided to try the Rock of Ages scramble in the Gorge (read the hike description from Portlandhikersfieldguide.org). Scrambling is more than hiking but less than rock climbing and often involves off-trail route finding.

This adventure started at Horsetail Falls off the Old Columbia River Highway. After about .3 miles, just before Ponytail Falls, we took off up a very steep path with a sign stating: Trail Not Maintained. From there, we scrambled up, up, up, seeing only two other people in the next 2.5 miles.

On top of the Devil's Backbone ridge, looking west:
But that ridge was far from the summit. The "trail" kept climbing until we finally reached the Horsetail Creek Trail.
We headed west on the connector trail and discovered that it was far less maintained than the "not maintained" trail we just left. We also saw no other person until we returned to our car. But I did get stung by a bee on the back of my knee and then fell in a hole and scraped up the same leg. It was one of those days.

We eventually crossed Oneonta Creek and then went downhill on the Oneonta Trail. A short time later, we discovered why the trail was so overgrown and we'd encountered no other people: a bridge was out and the trail was closed! Oops. Luckily, we were able to cross without getting wet. It could have been bad, but the water level was low.

Then came Ponytail Falls (the trail goes behind the falls - you can barely see me making my way past) and we were back where we started, having made a big loop.
It was getting dark, and ours was the last car at the trailhead. We posed at Horsetail Falls before hitting the road:
Our book, 75 Scrambles in Oregon, put the hike at 9.1 miles and 4,179 feet of elevation gain. It was a tough one! But worth it, especially having hiked 7+ miles without seeing another human.


Monday, September 7, 2009

Dudes Can Cook

So with our ladies out of town this weekend, Jacob, David and I decided to tackle some gourmet cookin'.

I picked out a recipe from the America's Test Kitchen cookbook for a dish I've been craving a lot lately: orange chicken.

I figured with three guys, a tested recipe, and a DVD to follow that we ought to be able to make it happen.

I swung by Jacob's house on my way to the grocery to pick up ingredients. We then met David back at my place to commence the desecration of our kitchen.

It took about 3 hours and I think we used every cooking implement in the kitchen, but the results were fantastic!

David contributed a fried rice dish that nicely complimented the orange chicken

Civilized Gentlemen