Gifts from Bend, OR

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Green your coffee routine

Save 23 lbs of waste this year and start using a reusable coffee cup to keep you caffeinated.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Getting all into Christmas

Last year, we bought a live Christmas tree and planted it in honor of the year of our last child and only daughter's birth. We call it EmmyLu's tree which will be in our yard, long after we move. Yesterday, my husband and son surprised us by hanging lights on it.

Aren't you in the holiday spirit just looking at it?

Friday, November 29, 2013

Happy Birthday Grandma


This is a photo of me with my aunts and my grandmother 8 years ago, right before my wedding.

Today, my grandmother Marie would have been 91 years old. I hope she knows I really appreciated all the support she gave my mother when we were growing up and especially the support she gave us after my mom died in 1996.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

I set off for a 3 mile run. I haven't been working out as much because I've been working a lot and the mornings have been cold BUT while running decided that was a dumb excuse. I'm cold for maybe 5 minutes.

I'm thankful for many things. The usual ... a warm house, healthy kids, good jobs, family and friends. This week, I was told a pivotal person in my career path was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I have laid awake at 2 am in tears that this cancer would strike another person in my life (just like my mom). Often when it is detected, it's too late, and the person is given weeks to live.

I'm thankful for John. When I really hated my job and thought that I wasn't good at anything, he championed me and lifted me up. He believed I was talented, and we talked often about all things internet and I would like to think, I taught him as much as he taught me, to be confident in myself. When I lost my job, he was one of the first to hire me to do some freelance work. It was tough to take a full time job because I felt I really let him down but in the end, I trained someone else who ended up taking him presence to the next level.

I'm thankful for knowing my sister-in-law Natasha, who passed away from a long battle with breast cancer. It's sad she left us so soon, but we always remind ourself, we have another angel in heaven.

I'm thankful for my husband. Even though, he can be a pain in the ass, and I feel like I have three kids at times, he's a pretty awesome husband and father.

And I'm thankful for those who read my blog and who've helped me along the way with this hobby.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

We hit the mountain

The snow has finally hit in the Cascades and I convinced the family to get outside and head of to Mt. Bachelor to play around in the snow.
The Road to Mt. Bachelor. It's the Three Sisters!
 The was the first time, EmmyLu played in the snow. Last year, it hardly snowed in Bend and we didn't spend too much time outside as a family because she was so little.


It was pretty apparent, she was more into the apres than the ski part of the snow.


Ben was quite the opposite and could have stayed all day.


And my husband captured the cutest photo of EmmyLu and I. This photo could have been my mother and I, 38 years ago.

Looking forward to more days in the snow soon!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I met Allie Brosh


2012 was not the best year for me in the history of my whole 38 years of life (so far). Yes, I birthed a child who brings me the most awesome joy in the world but I pretty much spent that year wondering "what am I meant to do with my life?"

I've been an avid reader of Allie Brosh's blog Hyperbole and a Half since the inception and was one of those things that I also wished I thought of making silly drawings of my family. I could totally see myself writing a post about my son's obsessions with fish or my daughter's "NO!" phase.

photo courtesy of Hyperbole and a Half
Last spring, she posted Depression part 2 which chronicled her coming out of a crippling depression. The end had this epic graphic that totally resonated with me (which I shamelessly stole and put up to the left) -- "Maybe everything isn't hopeless bullshit." 

I wish I had seen that graphic a year earlier. And part of me wishes I could just post it up somewhere that will remind me later to laugh at those so serious moments. 

Allie lives in Bend, and I got a booked signed by her last week at her local book signing. It's hilarious, but I can't keep my kids from looking at the drawings of dogs and dead fish. Good thing they can't read. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Meatless Monday: Carrot Mash with Orange and Mint


I learned a few years ago, not to go away from traditional when it comes to actual Thanksgiving Day. This came after I made cornbread stuffing, and I was the only one out of 10 people who would eat it.

Since then, I've always been assigned green bean casserole, in particular, the recipe on the back of the fried onion container.

Luckily, some foodie friends hold a Thanksgiving potluck on the Tuesday before where I can bring something creative.

As I was driving home from work, I heard a story on NPR with new suggestions for Thanksgiving dishes from The Bitten Word. This is a new blog to me but when they said their runaway hit was carrot mash with orange and mint, I quickly came home to find their recipe and make it myself.

It's surprising how yummy carrots, mint, butter, cream and orange zest taste together. ENJOY!

Carrot Mash with Orange and Mint
from Fine Cooking


2 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
Kosher salt
1 oz. (2 Tbs.) unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces
2 Tbs. heavy cream
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1-1/2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh mint
1/2 tsp. finely grated orange zest; more as needed
Hot sauce, such as Tabasco, to taste


Put the carrots in a 4-quart saucepan with enough cool water to cover by at least 1 inch. Add 1 tsp. salt and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and cook at a gentle boil until the carrots can be easily pierced with a fork, about 25 minutes.

Drain well in a colander, letting the steam rise for a few minutes. Meanwhile, heat the butter, cream, oil, mint, orange zest, 1/2 tsp. salt, and a dash of hot sauce in the saucepan over low heat until the butter is melted.

For a rustic texture, return the carrots to the pan and mash with a potato masher to the consistency you like.

For a smooth texture (shown), purée the carrots in a food processor until smooth and then add them to the pan, stirring well to combine.

Season to taste with more orange zest, salt, or hot sauce before serving.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Guest post: 5 Ways Music Makes Smart Kids

Image from compfight.com
It's not a secret, my husband and I LOVE music. When writer Jessica Socheski approached me about a guest post, I didn't have to think twice. Jessica Socheski is a freelance writer who loves learning about child development. you can connect with her on Twitter.
Learning to play a musical instrument can open up a world of possibilities to a young child. Whether your child takes private lessons for a few years or is fortunate enough to eventually play with an orchestra and continue enjoying music as an adult, there are many reasons that music creates an enriching life experience.

1. Music Helps Language
Mastering an instrument can play a role in language development. An understanding of music helps the brain break down language and better comprehend. So it may be true to say that music students have an advantage when it comes to learning a second language.

2. Confident, Well-Adjusted Students
Music can help students to become better adjusted than their piers. A study by researchers at Columbia University discovered that socially students who studied the arts tended to cooperate better with teachers and peers. They also demonstrated more self-confidence and could express themselves and their ideas with more ease. And students who pursued music were less likely to use substances such as tobacco, alcohol and drugs.

3. Exercising the Brain
Physical exercise builds stamina and strength in young bodies. Similarly, music trains the human brain in “auditory fitness and allows it to decipher between tone and pitch,” says dosomething.org. Music exercises the brain and helps it to grow new pathways better connecting the two hemispheres.

4. Higher Test Scores and More
Research has also uncovered a connection between music and academic success. In a study of schools, those who had music programs had a much higher graduation and attendance rate than those without. And regardless of socioeconomic status or district, students who participated in quality music programs scored roughly twenty percent higher on English and math standardized tests.

5. Creativity and Discipline
Music is also a huge factor when it comes to building patience and discipline. Taking the initiative to practice for several hours a week is a big step in becoming more independent and responsible. Music provides a great blend of creativity, expression and self-discipline.

All the amazing benefits music can offer your child might have you trying to find guitar lessons or a piano teacher in your local area. There are some tried and true ways to go about locating the best music teacher for your little one. These include:
• Asking for references from friends
• Looking for a music major at your local college
• Searching directories through the National Association of Music Education

These resources should help you connect with a fantastic teacher whose personality meshes well with your child.
                                               


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Yum!

Super excited to give Sun Cups a whirl. They reached out to me and asked for a review. Anything with chocolate and peanut butter is a favorite in my book but sunflower butter and chocolate ... I'll let you know in a couple of days.

I took them to work and hid them in case my husband and kids decided to eat them.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Memories of Grandma: South Omaha Chili


I've written about it before, the priceless cookbook my grandmother handed down to me. When my mother passed away, my grandma bought me a copy of this precious cookbook and I have cherished it ever since.

My mom had this rule, "I'll only make chili with month's containing the letter R" because June, July & August were off limits because chili is such a hearty dish.

Another part of our letter R chili ritual would be enjoying it with Grandma Marie's "hot tamales."  Grandma Marie made "hot tamales" for everyone in South Omaha. Bars, church functions -- anyone who would buy them. It was her way of making an income after my grandfather had a stroke in the 1970s.

The "hot tamale" operation was on the down low because she was doing them in the second kitchen in her house, not certified by the health department, yet everyone knew about them.

She purchased a machine that combined one side of a cooked cornmeal like substance with seasoned spicy beef/pork. She then would enlist her assistants (grandchildren, children, cousins, nieces, nephews) to help with assembly.  Instead of corn husks, she did it the Polish way; she had her helpers wrap them in parchment paper. Now you know why I preface it "hot tamale." They were tamale-like but not really tamales.

September would come, and my mom would make a double batch of chili from a recipe in the Bohemian Cookbook. She'd then steam a dozen "hot tamales" and then we'd proceed to build out chili-tamale bowls. Tamale -->Chili-->Cheese. Yum, right?

My brother still carries on the tamale tradition though they still taste great, don't quite have my grandma's touch.

However, since I don't live near Omaha, I use cornbread instead of tamales to sorta, kinda, recreate my chili-tamale bowls.

Here's the recipe from the Bohemian Cookbook (it's the second one) -- Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Review & Giveaway: EcoTrek Whole Food Bar



Since losing weight this past year, I've gotten in the habit of looking to meal or fitness bars in a pinch. I'm a subscriber to EcoCentric Mom Box and each month, there is some sort of fitness bar for me to try.
None of them have been as impressive as EcoTrek Fitness Whole Food Bars!

I replaced my morning Shaklee bar with EcoTrek Fitness Whole Foods Bars and I was hooked. I still love the Shaklee meal bars but these bars taste amazing -- like eating truffles amazing. They basically kill my sweet tooth for the day.

You know what, they're actually pretty good for you! Each bar is packed with six servings of fruits and vegetables AND also dairy and gluten free along with being vegan. They come in three flavors: Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Box, Dark Chocolate Raspberry and Dark Chocolate Toasted Coconut. As much as I love peanut butter and chocolate, the chocolate raspberry was my favorite.

I contacted EcoTrek Fitness owner, Cari Draft and let her know how much I loved her bars so she sent me a box of each AND wanted to do a giveaway for my readers.

Enter between now and November 25 at Midnight!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

I was given EcoFitness Whole Food Bars to review and giveaway. The opinions are my own. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Meatless Monday: Butternut Squash Pizza with Caramelized Onions



My husband and I love artisan pizza. A few times a month, we'll look at the specials at our local pizza joint that specializes in local, seasonal and fresh ingredients and order us a small pie to share.

This meatless pizza was inspired by their pumpkin sage pizza (that week we added local Italian sausage) from a few weeks ago. Instead of pumpkin, I used baked butternut squash slices.

Butternut Squash Pizza with Caramelized Onions

Ingredients
1 pizza crust (we make our own using this recipe)

1/2 Butternut squash, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 garlic clove, pressed
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 onion, sliced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Mozzarella cheese (amount is up to you)
Parmesan cheese (amount is up to you)
Sage leaves (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare the butternut squash slices by brushing with 1/8 cup of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet for 20 minutes until tender.

Caramelize the onion by melting the butter and sautéing the onions for 8-10 minutes.

Roll out pizza dough according to your instructions. When butternut squash is done, preheat oven to 500 degrees for the pizza. Mix together 1/8 olive oil with the pressed garlic clove and brush on the pizza crust. Take ricotta cheese and spread on the pizza crust. Lay the squash slices on top of the ricotta cheese and top with onions, mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Bake for 8-10 minutes until crust is golden and cheese is bubbly.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add sage leaves frying for 1 minute on each side. Top  fried sage lives on pizza.



Sunday, November 17, 2013

You have to download it!: Ibotta

In my quest to lower our weekly grocery bill, someone mentioned they use Ibotta, which is an app that gives you cash back instead of using coupons. So far, I've redeemed around $30 for in the past two months for using it.  

I shop the perimeter of the store meaning I don't buy can or processed food and usually have a cart full of produce, meat and dairy. About the only time I go in the aisles are for things like baking items, organic apple juice and frozen organic vegetables (EmmyLu LOVES peas).

On my weekly shopping trip, Ibottawas offering $1 off ANY laundry detergent and $1 Chobani yogurt tubes -- something I had on my list that week.  One week, I saved $10 on frozen foods from EVOL, Good Simple Food and Kashi from Target.

How you earn the cash is by answering survey questions, posting on social networks, watching videos or reading something about the product.

The great thing is a variety of stores  such as Whole Foods, Fred Meyer and Safeway along with home improvement stores such as Lowes and Home Depot participate in ibotta's cash back program. 

If you click this link and register for Ibotta, I will earn more cash back BUT you won't regret it, I promise. 



Thursday, November 14, 2013

Ben's art this week

Ben drew this at the afterschool program he attends. He usually only draws fish but recently, he drew a a picture of himself "fishing and wearing jean." I especially love the rainbow fish in this one.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Memories: Grandma's apple pie


Remember all those apples we picked on our trip. Well, they got made into a pie, as you can see. Making apple pie out of freshly picked apples has been a tradition since I was a kid. We'd head to an orchard either across the Missouri River in Iowa or head to Nebraska City with my Grandma Marie each year and enjoy fresh pies and apple sauce for weeks. Many times, she'd make several pies and freeze them.

My Grandma Marie was the baker, chef expert in our family, and when I was in my 20s, she showed my cousin and I the art of making pie. Even though I use a different crust recipe now, the filling recipe is still the one she passed down to me.

First, she always stressed we need to make sure the apples are perfect for pie. The wrong apple will be too mushy and won't taste right.  I went with Jonagold and Golden Delicious for this pie.

Second, she'd tell us it didn't matter how thick or thin we'd chop the apples -- that was our preference. I prefer my apples thick and chunky but have been known to use one of those apple corer/peeler contraptions too to make them paper thin too.

Usually, all the recipes my Grandma Marie used were in her Bohemian Cookbook but this recipe she wrote down on a notecard for me and I couldn't find it at first, this weekend. Alas, after 20 minutes of looking and trying not to freak out, I finally found it. It's the ONLY recipe I'll use for a double crust apple pie!

Grandma Marie's Apple Pie
by Marie Foral

2 pie crusts (I use this recipe)
6 apples, peeled, cored and cut into slices
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, cut in 8 small squares

Make pie crust according to directions.  Lay the first one in the pie plate.

Preheat oven to 350. Combine apples, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and mix well. Add the apples to the pie crust and top with the 8 squares of butter.  Top with second pie crust and cut four slits to let the steam out while cooking.

(I use a pie crust shield (affiliate link). If you don't have one, you can use foil)

Bake for 50-60 minutes. Let cool for two hours and enjoy with your favorite vanilla ice cream or homemade caramel!

This blog post contains an affiliate link. It's clearly noted, and if you buy the product, I will make money. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Already upset about her wardrobe

Emmylu is at this stage where she likes to take everything out of dresser drawers, kitchen cabinets and anything in a box and put it on the floor.  I call the photos above "but I have NOTHING to wear."

This kid is already quite the character at 20 months. We're doomed.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Meatless Monday: Portobello Pizzas


We don't eat mushrooms enough. Don't get me wrong, I love a good fungi now and so I ran across a recipe on Pinterest (seriously, are you surprised by this?) and did some modifications and viola, a new dish was born. I can't remember which recipe it was as it's now gone from my boards! Ooops.

This makes a great alternative to pizza if you're going without bread.

Portobello Mushroom Pizzas 
Serves 4


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, pressed
4 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Cheese topping of your choice (we used mozzarella)
4 portobello mushroom caps

Preheat oven to 350. In a pan, heat oil and saute garlic for 30 seconds. Add chopped tomatoes, onions and Italian seasoning and saute until soft, around 7 minutes.. Fill the mushroom caps with filling and top with your cheese of choice. Bake for 8 minutes.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Visiting Petersen Rock Garden


On a whim, we visited the Petersen Rock Garden yesterday. I've live in Central Oregon for 10 years, and I can't believe this was my first trip! The place is pretty run down and has received a lot of press lately since they were put on the National Register of Historic Places last month. With that designation, the owners are working to restore the property.

One our favorite things was the peacocks that roam the property!


Have you been here before? What is your favorite thing about the property? 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

EmmyLu's name


Many of us fantasize about what we're going to name our children for years. I had gone back and forth for with names like Ethan or Gavin if I had a boy, but I really didn't have a girl name.

Since there was an Ethan in our family already, my husband picked Ben's name after we found out we were having a boy.  At our ultrasound for EmmyLu, I was convinced she was a boy because I really didn't think I would be lucky enough to have a girl and a boy. I laid there in disbelief with no name.

With Ben, he was Ben was 18 weeks on. With EmmyLu, she was just baby until 33 weeks because my husband and I couldn't agree on names. I liked Riley but my husband thought that was too boyish. Then I asked him if we could name her after my mom; Mary Lucille (MaryLu). How could he say no to that? Instead of calling her Mary, we'd call her Lucy.

At 34 weeks, I went on bed rest because my blood pressure was high and I worked from home on my couch. So blasting Minnesota Public Radio's The Current, I worked 4 hours a day trying to prep my team for 12 weeks maternity leave (which was my eventful departure 12 weeks after that).

A song called "Emmylou" by the Swedish Indie Rock Band First Aid Kit was playing a couple times a day. It talks about singer Emmylou Harris (whom she met when she was 4 months old) and other singers, and since I'm a sucker for steel guitar and folk songs, I feel in love with this song. Even though naming my daughter after her grandmother would have been a nice tribute (my mother was actually named after her maternal grandmother), Emmy Lucille just seemed to stick in my mind.

I did, however, wait until she was born to decide officially on this name. She was born via c-section right before midnight and with us both having complications, it was 3 a.m. until I really got to  hold her.

Even though she looked very much like me when she was born, and I look very similar to my mom, EmmyLu just seem to fit her better.

With Ben, everyone knew what his name would be. With EmmyLu, it was a nice surprise to wait and tell everyone our perfect name after her arrival.

I know she'll be faced with not finding pencils or things with her name on them but I wouldn't have it any other way and 20 months later, EmmyLu fits her happy, smiling, shy personality.
EmmyLu stayed up past her bedtime to meet EmmyLou Harris


Friday, November 8, 2013

Friday Green Links: November 8 edition


 I've made it one week into NaBloPoMo and I feel like I have my groove back a little.

I got a call from Help a Reporter out on Tuesday regarding my membership. I signed up for a new account on my personal account so I could do some pitches for my blog. I told the guy on the phone I've made several pitches for my blog and for the places I've worked over the past five years and no one has reached out to me. 

That all changed that evening when I found out I was quoted on All Parenting.   This is super exciting folks as I've been making a conscious effort to spend my free time working on my blog. 

Onto this week's green links!




Chia Seeds: An Aztec’s Warrior’s Secret Wellness Weapon via the Green Divas

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Running away: a fitness update

I ran my 4th 5k this year. I've been planning to run the Sister's Happy Girls Run for a few months. I knew a lot of folks who were doing the half marathon, but no one doing the 5k, but that didn't stop me. It was very rainy on Saturday, but I headed out to Sisters, OR and ran my best time for a race -- 30:30! I probably would have been faster if I would not have stopped to take the rainbow photo above.

I finished the race wet and cold and after a celebratory Greyhound, I headed home. I've decided to sideline the weight loss and head into maintenance mode until January 1. I'm still eating healthy and exercising, but I know with the holidays coming up that I need to take it easy on myself. I have also hit a plateau and with the weather changing, I'm finding it challenging to get out for a run. My goal from now until the end of the year is crossfit three days a week and running twice a week.

Also, I want my goals for 2014 to include a 10k and half marathon! I believe that's a goal I can achieve! Don't you?

30:30 PR on a 5K 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Slow cooker dumplings, sauerkraut and sausage



When you ask anyone in my family, what was my Grandma Marie's signature dish, everyone would say her Czech dumplings and sauerkraut.

This recipe was a staple at holidays, weddings and for Sunday dinner. She served it often with homemade apple sauce, pork loin or Polish Sausage.

She had showed me several times before she passed away how to make it, but I could never get the recipe right! The part that never seemed to work out was the dumpling part. She didn't have an exact recipe for the dumplings --  just white bread, milk and egg.

A friend on Facebook clued me into my current recipe that does come close enough to Grandma Marie's recipe. I've tried it with both refrigerated biscuits (we use Trader Joes) and homemade biscuit dough and I like both equally.


Slow cooker dumplings, sauerkraut and sausage


32 oz sauerkraut
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 lb Polish Sausage (I used turkey kielbasa)
1 can refrigerator biscuits*

Combine sauerkraut, sugar and caraway seeds in the crockpot. Add sausages and cook on low for 5 hours. Roll refrigerator biscuits in to balls and cover with sauerkraut in the crockpot for 1 hour.

*I have tried this with my own buttermilk biscuit recipe and it will work too

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

EmmyLu discovers trains


I love it when we can recycle some of Ben's toys. I was about to put Ben's trains and tracks on Craigslist when I heard my little one say "choo choo, Mama." Guess it will be a while before they get sold.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Meatless Monday: Greek Yogurt Mac & Cheese with Spinach


I'm always on the hunt for quick dishes for the weeknights. When I first came across this on Pinterest,  I was very suspect. You're supposed to labor over mac and cheese, right? Stirring and stirring. Well, this recipe will change your mind of that!

This dish takes about 20 minutes, and I've made this three times since discovering this dish. I even entrusted my husband in making it while I went out for a quick run.

I made some adjustments to the original recipe ... I've used cheddar and pepper jack cheese to make it spices. Also, I've added more spinach than the original recipe.

Greek Yogurt Mac & Cheese with Spinach by Cooking with Mel

Serves 4

8 oz. (about 2 cups) elbow pasta
8 oz. (about 2 cups) shredded cheese (I've done cheddar and pepper jack to spice it up)
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
8 ounces fresh spinach
salt & pepper, to taste
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder

Cook the macaroni according to the package's instructions (about 8-10 minutes), until al dente.

Place the spinach leaves in the bottom of a strainer, and pour the pasta over top to drain and wilt the spinach. Save about 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Return the cooked macaroni and wilted spinach to the pot.

Add about 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water to the pot, and stir in the cheese until melted. Stir in the Greek yogurt, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper, until smooth and creamy. Stir in the remaining pasta water to thin, if necessary. Serve immediately.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Skeleton Door

I'm sad to see our sad spooky skeleton door come down. I think we should always have a theme, don't you?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

We took a trip: Hood River, OR & White Salmon, WA


I love traveling to Hood River, Oregon. It's a beautiful place just 2.5 hours from Bend that offers a bounty of local fruit, vegetables, wine and beer.

As a kid, I loved going to Nebraska City, NE to pick apples with my grandma (more on that to come) so I have been dying to start this tradition with our family. We could have made it a day trip, instead we decided to stay across the Columbia River in White Salmon, Washington at the Inn of the White Salmon.

Our first stop from Pfriem Family Brewers which offers artisanal beers with a Northwest flair. They had a play area for the kids and I tried six tasters of their beer.

Next up, we went to get pumpkins at Rasmussen Farms. I read years ago that this farm was a must stop pumpkin patch by Sunset Magazine and I've been intrigued ever since. Each year they have a theme in their Funland (it was story time this year) and a free corn maze offering a story too. The stories were dioramas made out of pumpkins and it was really cute! We left with pumpkins and sticky hands from caramel apples.

Rainbow FISH!
We checked into our room in White Salmon. The room was small but comfortable for us! The beds were full beds -- and we're used to a king size bed at home. It was nice and cozy though and we all slept great. 

It was about dinner time so we walked down to Everybody's Brewing to try some local beer and eat some food. Everyone we talked to said this was a must stop on our trip and I'll tell you, they weren't joking. I tried the IPA and the sweet potato burrito and I'm still dreaming about it. If you go, make sure you get it. I'm going to try to recreate it myself, it was that yummy!

After that, we walked around and Ben had to take photos with all the fish artwork

In the morning we packed up, checked out and headed back into the Hood River area to pick some apples!
Friends were in the area the day before and sent over some recommendations after scouting out the orchards. We decided to hit up Kiyakowa Orchards in Parkdale, OR to do some picking.


We walked the rows of many variety of apples and left with jonagolds and golden delicious varieties that we could make applesauce and pies from!

Our last stop on the way home was Packard Orchards Bakery for some cookies and jam. This orchard is always at our farmer's market in Bend and we're very familiar with their yummy cookies and jams. We left with 5 large cookies and jam -- strawberry rhubarb and huckleberry pepper jam!

On the way home, Ben kept asking me about my favorite part .. it had to be the apple picking. For him it was searching for pumpkins.

I can't wait for our next trip!


Friday, November 1, 2013

National Blog Posting Month & Halloween Pic


I know, it's been two weeks since my last post. Yes, life is getting in the way and finding that time to blog has been hard but it's National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) and I'm bound and determine to make blogging a habit. I have some cool reviews coming up along with some other green factoids and stuff we're working on BUT can I really fill 30 days of only green? I probably could BUT I'm going to sprinkle in some other things.

A few years back, I wrote something about my mom for 30 days. And then WordPress ate my blog meaning, it's all gone now SO I'm going to tell some stories about my mom and grandma throughout the month in hopes that my children will read this in the future. My mom died of pancreatic cancer in 1996. My grandmother died in 2010 after she slipped down the stairs in her home. Both are inspirations to me and telling these stories will be emotional but a great tribute to both.

Onto Halloween: The shark and the mermaid were a big hit. I didn't have time to do a tutorial on the mermaid costume which is a bummer. The kids hit the neighborhood with dad, ate their share of candy and then crashed. Surprisingly this morning, no one asked for candy. We'll see how long that last.

We were "that family" that gave out Stretch Island Fruit Leather. My friends teased that my house would get eggs and that I should just shut the lights off and save myself from the humiliation of getting TP'd. So far, no eggs or TP but it's still too early to tell. It was nice that my green friends said some nice things too.

Are you writing in NaBloPoMo? How do you get re-energized to blog each day?

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