Summer Bucket List #4: Berry Picking!

Two summers ago, we visited Portland and did a short visit to Sauvie Island to get some fresh corn at one of the many farms, and enjoy the rural scenery. And then a year ago, we went apple picking in the Berkshires and really enjoyed it. So, since we moved here to Portland, I’ve been looking forward to getting out to Sauvie Island to pick some fruit! It was the item I was third-most excited about for our summer list. We figured that it would be a great time to go while Andy’s family was here visiting. And it was!

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As we walked back to the berry fields, we passed the flowers and then the veggies.

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Blueberries! We wanted to pick enough to make a delicious cobbler. It was quite tedious–I now really appreciate the time and effort it takes to get those neat little pints of berries!

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We also picked some raspberries quickly. I tasted one right off the vine and YUM. It practically melted in my mouth. DSC_6325-18 DSC_6326-19 DSC_6330-20

There were two rows of Early Red Haven peaches that were ready, so we trekked over and grabbed a few handfuls.

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Here is the box of berries we ended up with. Beautiful as well as extremely tasty! Β  DSC_6372-27

I really can’t wait to go back. Hopefully this summer for more blueberries/raspberries, and then later for apples and corn, and then next year for strawberries!

Pinspiration: Desserts

I joined Pinterest mainly for photography inspiration. But I kept seeing people post amazing food/cooking/baking and reluctantly began pinning those too. I don’t really cook, but in the past few years I’ve enjoyed doing some baking and trying out tasty new desserts. (Dessert is the best food group, don’t you think?) I know that sweets aren’t the healthiest thing, but it’s got to be better to have real ingredients from your own kitchen instead of processed, store-bought stuff. Right? That’s what I tell myself anyway. Of course we have plenty of goodies from a store too, but it’s fun to make our own sometimes. Just because.

-#1

A couple months ago I was in need of something chocolatey and decided that it couldn’t hurt to try out one of the mug brownie recipes floating around out there. It’s super quick, uses a very small amount of ingredients, and way easy. So if it didn’t work, no skin off my flour jar, so to speak.

Here’s the mug brownie pin, and the original recipe source:

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It sure was easy, and it was almost tasty. I think I nuked it for 90 seconds, and it tastedΒ  burned. But I could tell that there was yumminess close by! So I think next time, if I try one minute it will be better. Probably depends on your microwave. That just means you need to have several trials–oh darn!

-#2

Last week or thereabouts, I saw a pin for No Bake Peanut Butter Bars.

Original recipe source:

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Oh snap! Anything PB/chocolate is food of the gods as far as I’m concerned. I was in a baking mood last week and had to pick up a few ingredients (boxed graham cracker crumbs) at the store in order to make them.

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It was pretty easy to put everything together. I wasn’t sure if I’d gotten everything to the right consistency–the peanut butter layer especially was not smooth. And I probably should have melted the chocolate topping a bit more.

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However, the final product looked just like the original picture, so it all worked out.

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Delicious. DEE-LICIOUS. So delicious it was all I could do to *only* eat two (generously-cut) pieces at a time. This would be a great dessert to bring to a get-together so that other people eat some of it. πŸ™‚

– #3

Summer is a great time of year for baking, with all the fresh produce (especially here in the PNW where so much is local). We got a big box of peaches at Trader Joe’s and I figured that we may not be able to eat all of them before they went bad, so that meant I would have to make a peach dessert. Oh shucks. I scrolled through my pins and found this: Peach Pie Muffins with Brown Butter Glaze

Original recipe source:

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Wow! That sounded amazing. I have a great muffin recipe from a friend, but I figure it’s always good to find more. These promised to be high and fluffy, and looked extra delicious.

Well. I think I did something wrong.

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This was my first time browning butter…and obviously I did it wrong. The glaze is indeed brown, but in the pictures from the recipe, it looks light-colored or clear. Oh well. Clearly I’m still a baking beginner! I also think they didn’t bake long enough–they were almost too moist, like a little uncooked. Not as fluffy and light as the recipe looked. This is one of the recipes where you’re not supposed to overmix–and I probably did. Oops again.

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But they were still fairly tasty. Hey, a fresh peach muffin is always a good thing, right?

Feel free to follow me on pinterest and share your best yummy pins below!

Summer Bucket List #3: the Yard!

Well, more specifically, the kiddie pool!

This was a simple one, but even so, I’m really excited I finally did it! I have a tendency to procrastinate (umm…see this post a few weeks late…)

I went to Fred Meyer one weekend and their small plastic pools were only ten bucks. I also picked up two plastic adirondack chairs and some small plastic tables.

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Our little patio now looks super cute and homey! We already spent a lovely hour reading there in the warm night air after babies’ bedtime.

Since our front yard doesn’t have any shade of its own, so we’d talked about getting a cheap standing umbrella at IKEA. Of course when we did get to IKEA a few days later, they were out of them. But then we saw a better and more expensive umbrella (the Baggon). It wasn’t that much more and it seemed like it would actually work better for us, so we got it.

The next day we set it all up and the day after that I finally got one of the babies in the pool! I just dragged it so that it matched up with the shade that the umbrella gave at that time.

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Malcolm hung out for a couple minutes before he figured out he could splash. Splash splash splash! I also lay him down (the water was only a couple inches deep) and let him kick splash kick splash kick splash. Super cute!

Splashy!

The next day, while our nanny was here, we got both babies in the pool (during Emmett’s helmet break time). Emmett also took a few minutes to get acclimated and figure out splashing. And then, splashy splashy!

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At one point, Malcolm put his arm around Emmett.

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A few moments later, Emmett pushed him away. Heh.IMG_0335

 

Summer Bucket List #2: Mt Hood!

Please make sure to visit my photography page for non-family, beautiful-scenery-only photos!

Last week we finally went to Mt Hood! I’ve been so excited to go there for months. This is one of the two outings I’ve been most looking forward to this summer, and I’m so happy we finally went! We decided to go for the Fourth of July, because we don’t care about fireworks stuff and the weather had been so gorgeous the past week or two. It was actually cloudy when we left our house, and I was really bummed about not having great weather at the mountain. But as we got closer and closer, the sky got clearer and bluer!

The drive was super easy. One hour east of us, on one road, and bam, national forest and big snowy mountain. Amazing. I was giddy. πŸ™‚

First we came to Government Camp, which is a small strip of hotels, shops, and ski places. Timberline Lodge is only a few minutes from there.

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Something’s different about Smokey the Bear…

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(Slightly blurry) stats about Timberline:

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We got there right around the babies’ lunchtime, so we set up in the lobby to feed them on one of the couches. Of course they were very interested in looking around at all the new stuff and hearing all those new noises.

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While they were eating, a small tour group came through right behind us, led by what was easily the dumbest guide ranger I’ve ever encountered. I hope for everyone’s sake that either it was her first day on the job or she was filling in for someone else at the last minute. She was reading from some papers, peppered her sentences with “ummm…” and “sooo…” and “….yeah.” She had a couple ‘facts’ to share, but they were incomplete. She tried talking about the stone structure in the middle of the lodge and one of her audience members had to tell her the term ‘mason.’ She also was trying to explain the phenomenon of the timberline–‘if you look up the mountain, you don’t see any trees, and if you look down, you see lots of trees. So trees don’t grow past here’–without actually using the term timberline. Which, I might suppose, is probably where the name of the lodge actually came from. Just a guess. Anyway. Andy and I kept giving each other looks like, “Really?!!!”

Anyway, we didn’t have time to walk around or anything, but of course I set up a family photo:

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Huge cougar carving–out here was a balcony with a southern view of the foothills and Mt Jefferson.

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We were starving and had a quick lunch in Government Camp, at one of the hotel ‘restaurants’ (really more of an overpriced diner). The babies sat in those wooden high chairs for the first time. So cute! They were VERY interested in our water and our food too (but we only gave them sips of the water).

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Our final stop was a short hike along Little Zigzag River to a small waterfall.

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Walking through the woods and listening to the running water was so beautiful and peaceful!

The falls were small but lovely nonetheless.

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We finally headed home after that, and the babies dozed in the car. I also fed them there, in the backseat. It worked really well and I am so glad to have that option in our pocket for future outings!

Headed back to civilization:

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It was a really great day. I can’t wait to bring the babies back next summer when they’re toddling around!

Summer Bucket List #1: the Falls!

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This was a great first outing for our summer ‘bucket list’ because it was so easy! (More info on the 2013 Summer Bucket List Challenge here)

Multnomah Falls is a popular sight in the Portland area–and it’s only half an hour east on the freeway!

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The freeway (I-84) cruises between the Columbia River to the north and thickly forested foothills to the south. Then suddenly, bam, a big waterfall!

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It’s actually two levels, an upper falls and then a near-immediate lower falls, but my 50mm lens wasn’t wide enough to get it all in one shot. πŸ™‚

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Including the distance from the parking lot, it takes maybe five minutes to get to the viewing area at the base of the falls. There’s a trail that goes uphill to that higher viewing bridge, but we were not up for that with our baby carriers.

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We looked around the gift shop and informational area and then we were basically done. It was a very quick activity (and free!!), so we decided to drive the scenic byway part of the way back. On that road, we passed by two more falls before detouring again to the freeway.

We stopped for a break at a rest stop to try to feed the babies. Of course with all the noise and new things to see, they were very distracted and not interested in eating. So we got back in the car, I sat in the back between the car seats, and helped them finish their bottles. Happily that worked pretty well. πŸ™‚

A companion outing on our list is to go back and drive more of the Scenic Byway, visit more of the waterfalls, and visit Vista House. I think that should be an easy and fun daytrip!

We did another short activity the following weekend, to the Grotto. Wasn’t on the list, but it was a good family outing. It’s close to us, and very nature-y.

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It’s basically an outdoor Catholic sanctuary. We are not at all religious, but we thought it would be nice to stroll around the peaceful gardens.

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It’s actually in two parts; most of it is on top of this cliff here. You buy a ticket for the elevator and then you follow the path around and through trees and gardens, passing statuary and plaques along the way.

Emmett volunteered to digest the information in the brochure for us. Heh.

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I was expecting manicured gardens, and there are some, but most of the time you’re winding through tracts of forest! It’s quite beautiful.

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And what a neat surprise to find that there is a labyrinth there! (For one of my AmeriCorps NCCC projects back in 2002, my team and I built one at a park in Wallingford, Connecticut. Ever since then I’m always delighted to find them when I’m out and about. For instance, there’s a ‘secret’ one in Battery Park in NYC!)

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We didn’t spend a ton of time there, but it was really nice to walk around such a lovely, quiet place, right in the city! And the best part was that we hit up the Burgerville drive-thru on the way home for some fries and an Oregon strawberry shake. πŸ™‚