Thursday, May 27, 2010

Prepare for Farm Day 2010!

I've taken two groups of CE2 students to M&K's "chicken farm" in Newberg. They LOVE it and wanted to go back ... this time staying longer to play more and do some service projects around the property. So teachers Sue and Andy decided to take the entire class out for Farm Day 2010. We've all been dreaming of the day, and it's finally here. Tomorrow we'll load the bus and spend the day on the farm!!!!
There's a super-duper surprise for the students. They will flip out. Makayla and Joan might actually wet themselves! I can't tell you what it is ... you'll have to wait along with the rest of them :)

I hear some students are hitting Goodwill this evening to look for overalls and plaid shirts. And we're supposed to wear pigtails to complete the "farmer" look.

Right now, I'm praying for the weather to hold so we can have fun and not get too soaked on FARM DAY 2010!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Muffin Wednesday: Chocolate

Happy Muffin Wednesday to one and all! I was riding my stationary bike last night when I suddenly realized that it was almost Wednesday... and I hadn't picked out recipe. I jumped up, found the cookbook and thumbed through it while I finished my workout. Exercising while reading dessert cookbooks is sorta funny. I had to use ingredients on hand, so I picked out Chocolate Muffins - those have to be good, right? Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Grease or line muffin tin (I got 20 muffins)

1 2/3 c flour

3/4 c sugar
1/3 c cocoa

3 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt

1 egg
1 c milk (I had soy)

1/4 c vegetable oil

(I also added a 1/2 c of chocolate chips - because, well, why not?!?)

1. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt.

2. In another bowl, beat egg, milk and oil. Pour into the flour mixture and stir just until combined. Don't over mix. Fold in chocolate chips.

3. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin, filling cups 3/4 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes.


This was a simple recipe with simple ingredients. The batter was runny - much more like brownies than muffins, but they baked up nicely.

I thought these were good but not excellent. They were on the bitter side, so if you're looking for a really sweet chocolate, this isn't it.


The lettuce experiment

We live in a mini forest full of tall oak, maple, fir and cedar trees. Consequently, I grow a lot of hostas, ferns, huchera... things that love the shade. I have morning sun in the front only - mostly just on our driveway. The rest gets very little direct sunlight, so there's no chance of having a vegetable garden.

But we decided this year to try planting lettuce in containers on the side of our wide driveway and see if we could get anything. With just the cost of seeds and soil, it's a cheap experiment. I sowed the seeds on 5/16, right before the major rain and windstorm. A couple days ago, I noticed something growing!!!!!!
Salad, anyone!?!


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cake Wrecks

Do you know Cake Wrecks? It's a hilarious blog about professional cakes gone wrong:

"A Cake Wreck is any cake that is unintentionally sad, silly, creepy, inappropriate - you name it."

It's updated daily, and I usually find something that makes me laugh out loud - or at least chuckle. This was posted today:
If you're looking for a good laugh, check it out. The "Literal LOLs" are my favorites. Look for them...


Monday, May 24, 2010

Cowboy cookies

Brad speaks fondly of cowboy cookies, but I've yet to find a recipe that lives up to his childhood memories. Perhaps I should just ask his mother... duh! I recently tried a version from eat me, delicious. Unfortunately, I forgot to snap a picture, so I'll paste in hers - which looks nothing like mine.
2 c old-fashioned rolled oats
2 c flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
2/3 c canola oil
2/3 c sugar
3/4 c packed brown sugar
1/2 cup nondairy milk (I used real cow milk)
1 T ground flax seeds
1 t vanilla
1 c shredded sweetened coconut
1 c semisweet chocolate chips
1 c chopped toasted pecan pieces (I didn't take time to toast)

1. Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, beat together oil, sugar, brown sugar, milk, flax seeds and vanilla. Fold in half of the flour mixture to moisten, then fold in the remaining half. Just before the mixture is completely combined, fold in the coconut, chocolate chips and pecans.

4. She made large cookies, about 1/4 c of dough each, flattening slightly and baking for 14-16 minutes. I used a small scoop and baked a lot less (though I honestly can't remember how long). Cool on a wire rack.

The recipe is vegan, something I didn't even realize until I was halfway through baking them :) And because it's egg-free, I was able to eat the dough guilt-free - yipee!

We all thought the dough was very good. But the cookies weren't nearly as good. They weren't bad, but kinda dry and bland. They also stayed as little lumps, not spreading all beautifully like I'd hoped. So I only baked two sheets of cookies and took them and the dough to share with my Thursday night posse. I'd probably skip this recipe in the future.

Donna... are you out there? So what fabulous recipe did you use when Brad was a little tyke????


A thousand words...

Christiam graduated Friday from CE2 - the first in his family to complete high school. When I saw this picture, I had to post it. Do you think he's proud???
This is why we do what we do :)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Weekend goodies

With our spouses otherwise occupied, Lindsey and I decided to crash Michael and Kendra's weekend beach getaway. We'd both been eyeing some amazing-looking recipes, so we told our friends we'd bake for them if allowed entry to the Pacific City cabin. Access was immediately granted.

Lindsey found this graham cracker recipe on Smitten Kitchen. I'm not sure if/how she altered it, so I'll just let you check out the original instructions.
They were very tasty - lots of honey flavor. And of course, we had to turn them into s'mores!
Soooo good!

And I recently found this homemade Oreo recipe, also on Smitten Kitchen (she has lots of excellent creations!). I honestly couldn't stop thinking about it, so I had to make it happen.
It supposedly makes 25 to 30 sandwich cookies - unless you're like me (and Lindsey and Kendra and Michael!) and eat a lot of the dough. But it still made plenty.

1 1/4 c all-purpose flour (I was out and used cake flour. Worked just fine)
1/2 c unsweetened Dutch process cocoa (I just used Hersey's)
1 t baking soda
1/4 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 to 1 1/2 c sugar (I went with the higher amount - I wanted sweet)
1/2 c plus 2 T (1 1/4 sticks) butter, room temp
1 large egg

1/4 c (1/2 stick) butter, room temp
1/4 c vegetable shortening
2 c sifted powdered sugar (like I'm going to sift it... yeah, right!)
2 t vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a food processor or electric mixer (I didn't feel like pulling out the mixer so I did it by hand), thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt and sugar. Add the butter and then the egg. Continue mixing until dough comes together in a mass.

3. Place rounded teaspoons of batter (I used my smallest cookie scoop) on a greased baking sheet and slightly flatten. Bake for 9 minutes, rotating once for even baking. (I wanted mine less crispy and more soft, so I baked 8 minutes). Cool cookies on rack.

4. To make the cream, place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl. At low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Beat on high until filling is light and fluffy.

5. Mrs. Smitten said to pipe the filling onto cooled cookies. I'm not that fancy, so I just spread with a knife.

I made the dough and filling at home and then baked and assembled these beauties at the beach. They are amazingly good. The cookie dough is excellent raw or baked. The filling was very heavy on the fat and tasted like it when eaten alone. But on the sandwich, it was perfect!

These came together without much trouble and tasted SO good. I would definitely make them again.

As for the rest of the weekend, it was fabulous! The weather was surprisingly pleasant - even sunny at times. Lindsey forced me to go running Saturday evening (during the one of the day's only downpours), which was exactly what we both needed. We watched a movie, played with M&K's kiddos, ate yummy food, laughed, puzzled and talked until 1:30 in the morning (Lindsey was smart enough to go to bed at a reasonable hour - but she missed some crazy late-night discussions!)

Sunday, we ate at Hawk Creek Cafe in Neskowin before cruising the Lincoln City outlet mall. Lindsey and I split a scrumptious smoked salmon/cream cheese/avocado omelet with potatoes and biscuits. I will be returning to that little hidden treasure!

I've said it a million times already... my friends are amazing. Thanks to them for a wonderful weekend away :)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Go Timbers!

Brad's company owns a suite at PGE Park and has generously offered Beavers and Timbers tickets to employees. So last night, we had our first experience with the Portland Timbers.
We ended up losing 0-1 to Montreal, but there was lots of other excitement to entertain us. Brad brought his new toy and pretended to be a sports photographer. He ended up with some nice shots!
There were free snacks inside the suite:
And we knew we were in the right place because FLIR posters covered the walls:
But the most entertainment came from the Timbers Army, the team's unofficial fan club. Those people were crazy! I've been to a lot of sporting events and never saw anything like this, even at Winter Hawks games, which are cultural experiences for sure. My picture doesn't come close to capturing the enthusiasm:
These people stood, clapped, jumped, waved scarves and flags, beat drums, played trumpets, tooted plastic horns and SANG... almost the entire game. It was amazing. I wanted so badly to join the revelry. Next time I might have to buy a scarf and sing along.

We had a good time and enjoyed a (free!) night out to try something new.

Go Timbers!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Muffin Wednesday: Applecrisp Muffins

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
12-cup muffin tin, greased or lined

1 egg
1 1/4 c milk
1/2 c melted margarine
1/3 c liquid honey
1 1/2 c graham cracker crumbs
1 1/2 c flour
1 T baking powder
1 t cinnamon (I went light on the spice)
1/2 t salt
1 c grated peeled apples (I did not peel)

1. In a bowl, beat egg with a fork. Add milk, margarine and honey and blend well. Add graham cracker crumbs.

2. In another bowl combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Add honey mixture and stir just until moist. Fold in apples.

3. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin, filling to the top. (I wanted to stretch this, so I used 18 cups, filling about 2/3 full) Bake for 20 minutes.

Amazingly, I don't think I screwed up this Applecrisp Muffin Wednesday recipe at all! No bad measurements. No wrong ingredients. WOOHOO!

These went together quickly and easily, though my counter was very sticky and messy after I got done with the honey and margarine and crumbs and everything. But that's more my fault than the recipe's. The batter was yummy and I really liked the finished product - very moist and flavorful.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Have I lost my mind?!?

The answers is yes. I think I've finally lost it. Gone completely crazy. Seriously.

I often read SkinnyRunner, a blog by a SoCal gal who apparently doesn't work but just runs and blogs all the time. While I think she has some serious body-image issues, she's also very funny and very inspiring. Right now she's trying to complete 12 marathons in 12 months.

She recently mentioned running a destination marathon, like at Disney World. That got me thinking. (oh, no!) There's some kind of run at Disneyland, right? A half-marathon on Labor Day weekend. Maybe I should do that. No... that's stupid. I hate running. But I love having a goal. And I LOVE Disneyland. Shoot. Maybe I should do it. But I hate running. But now it's stuck in my head. Shoot. Maybe now I have to do it. Shoot. They offer a 5K, why can't they have a 10K... I would do that for sure. Shoot.

So I talked to Eryn and she's thinking about doing it too! And Mom wants to do the 5K. Brad's interested, but his pesky knees don't like running. We'll see...

This is my plan: Right now I'm focused on climbing season, training with lots of hiking and stadiums, so this year's out. I will prepare for the Tilikum 10K in April 2011, which I did finish a couple years ago. If all goes well and I'm not ready to throw out my running shoes by then, I'll keep training with Labor Day 2011 in mind. Yikes. Now I'm scared. For real. But excited. Yikes.

Anyone want to join the craziness and do it with me?? Please. Be stupid with me!


Monday, May 17, 2010

Fun with new toys

Brad traded in some old toys in the garage for a new toy and a new hobby: photography. He bought a Pentax camera with two lenses and has studied all the books at the Tigard Library about digital photography. The camera finally arrived this weekend, and he started playing. He had fun experimenting but says he still has lots to learn.
Creeper cat!
My garden:
He swept the roof Sunday afternoon and took the camera with him for a different perspective:

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Kings Mountain (5/15/10)

Sunday obligations forced us to cut short our anniversary beach trip, but we still managed to get in a hike on our way home from Oceanside. We stopped Saturday afternoon at Kings Mountain at milepost 25 on Highway 6. We've done the hike a couple other times but in very poor weather, so we were excited to get out on such a beautiful day and maybe see some of the views we've heard so much about.

The trail climbs quickly away from the Wilson River Highway, gaining more than 2,500 feet in 2.5 miles. We made it to the top in just under 90 minutes and signed the summit registry.
High clouds kept us from seeing forever, but the 360-degree view of the Coast Range was still spectacular. A short way down from the top is a sturdy wooden picnic table for resting and snacking.
It's engraved -- an Eagle Scout project from a Tigard kid in July 1993.
The funny thing is that I'm from Tigard and graduated in 1994. And I went all through school with a Nathan Brown. It has to be him. Very cool!

Our entire trip, including our rest breaks at the top and at the table, took 2.5 hours - a quick up and down. The hike was a terrific way to get out in nature and continue our anniversary celebration!


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Anniversary getaway

How did we celebrate our 12th anniversary? With a couple days away at Oceanside! Beautiful weather and lots of relaxing!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

(Belated) Muffin Wednesday: Sour Cream Bran

A strange school schedule again preempted Muffin Wednesday, so I baked Thursday instead. And I deviated from the book, choosing a Smitten Kitchen recipe that looked yummy.

1/2 c softened butter or 1/2 c vegetable oil (I used butter)
1/4 c packed brown sugar
1 egg, beaten lightly
1 c sour cream or yogurt (I used sour cream)
1/4 c dark molasses
1/2 c raisins, cranberries or other diced dried fruit (I forgot to add this... oops!)
1 c flour
1 t baking soda (I accidentally used baking powder... oops!)
1/4 t salt
1 c miller’s bran (Winco bulk)
1/4 t cinnamon, optional (I skipped this because I don't like cinnamon in my bread/muffins)

1. Cream together the butter or oil and the brown sugar, beat in the egg, the sour cream or yogurt, and the molasses. Stir in the raisins or other dried fruit.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and bran. Add the dry mixture to the sour cream mixture, stirring until just combined.

3. Spoon the batter into 12 well-buttered muffin cups and bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until they are golden brown and springy to the touch. Cool on a rack.

These were very quick and easy to make (though I really should have read the directions more carefully. Have I said that before?!?!) I found the miller's bran (unprocessed wheat bran) in Winco's bulk section - woohoo!

I don't like the taste of molasses, so I didn't enjoy this batter at all. And now I don't want to even try one. But Lindsey ate one and thought it was moist and great - a definite keeper. Andy also liked his sample. So if you like molasses, go for it. If not, skip this one.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010


My family celebrated two milestones this weekend: Aunt Kari's 50th birthday and Grandpa McKee's 90th birthday! Dad's side of the family gathered Saturday evening at Friendsview Retirement Community in Newberg to celebrate Grandpa's 90 years. Dad's three siblings were on hand, as well as all but one group of grandkids/great grandkids (they live in Denver). Grandpa's nieces, Cheri and Lindy, also flew in from California for the grand occasion: The cousins - Mark (my dad), Cheri, Grandpa John, Lindy, Cynthia, Pat & John: Grandpa was a flight engineer for Pan American Airways, so of course the party was airplane themed. Brad spent quite awhile getting these guys to perform like this: Grandpa sported the PAA rain hat he wore in the 1940s while stationed in the South Pacific, mostly working on flying boats on Canton Island. It's now part of Dad's Pan Am collection: Looking amazing!
Betty, his bride of 67 years and the matriarch of this clan:
We left Newberg about 9 p.m. and headed to Kari's birthday bash, which was already under way in Portland. It was a Sound of Music theme, complete with outfits hand sewn from curtains right off their walls.

The birthday girl (I'm not sure where the hat came from):
Vicki had the full nun outfit: Mom and little sister Kari sang a "Do-Re-Mi" karaoke duet outside under the gazebo: Happy birthday to Grandpa and Kari!!! :)


This was on my calendar this morning at work (you can click the comic to make it bigger):

Made me chuckle :)