Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Longest Day Celebration

I love the longest day of the year! We celebrated with our traditional stay-outside-till-it-gets-dark party. We had rosemary lemonade and I made tiny loaves of bread, and then we made little open-face sandwiches with various spreads. Everything was good!
I really liked this carrot-cheese curry spread---it sounds weird, but it was so good! Yum. I left out the mincemeat, not being one who keeps canned mincemeat on hand (?!).

We made homemade ricotta, which is heavenly. And here is the recipe for the rosemary lemonade. It's so easy, but tastes so fancy---just different enough from plain lemonade! When I was newly married, I demonstrated how to make this herbed lemonade for a Relief Society activity one time, and everyone was so nice about it. It's one of the first times I felt like I was "one of the ladies" instead of just tagging along. :)
 Herbed Lemonade

Syrup:
1/2 C. sugar
1 C. water
4-5 sprigs of mint, rosemary, basil, or other herb

Combine water and sugar in small saucepan. Add sprigs of herbs. Stir over medium-high heat until mixture comes to a boil. Boil 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep for 2-3 minutes (for rosemary, 20 minutes)—or as desired. Remove and discard herb sprigs. Cool syrup before adding to lemonade. 

Lemonade:
4 c. water
3 c. lemon juice (about 16 lemons)
1 1/2 to 2 c. sugar, or to taste
Herb syrup, above

Combine water, lemon juice, and sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves. Add mint or rosemary syrup to flavor as desired (I use about 1/2 of the syrup for 2 quarts of lemonade). Garnish with mint or other herb leaves. Makes 2 quarts.
Nutmeg came out to enjoy the day with us too. He feasted on fresh mint and oregano from the garden.
Seb did a lovely job with the flower arranging
Goldie looked like this (concerned/mad) every time she ran out of milk in her cup, which was often.
Maybe the best part of the evening was having these Izze floats. Have you ever tried Izze in floats? It was an amazing discovery for us. Blackberry was probably my favorite, but the clementine and, surprisingly, the apple, were SO good too! I've had floats with orange and various other sodas before, but they are usually too sweet for my taste. The slightly-sour Izze worked perfectly when sweetened by the ice cream, I thought. And it looked so pretty! :)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

June Sky

We've had such pretty evenings the last little while. The other night the setting sun had beams. We rode our bikes to follow the last of the sunset. It was changing every minute!
The sky overhead, above the gold clouds, was a bright cerulean color. Or did Sam call it cyan? He's the resident Color Expert. Anyway, it was so striking, above the oranges in the horizon.
Looking the other direction. I love these little feathery paintstrokes.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Tom McCall Nature Preserve

This was another stop as we drove home from Oregon---I had read that the wildflowers were beautiful in the Spring, so we stopped to eat our lunch and go on a little hike. We didn't get to do the whole hike (around a "permanent pond," as I kept pointing out to Sam on the hike map---I don't know why I found that phrase so funny) but what we saw was SO lovely. There were a few yellow and white flowers still out, but mostly it was huge sweeping fields full of blue.
I think these are called "Bachelor's Buttons" or cornflowers. Daisy had to hold one still for me while I took a picture, because there was a constant wind making them wave back and forth with the grass!
There were a few of these purple flowers too---I don't know their name
To get here, you just get off the regular Columbia River Highway at Mosier and go East on the old scenic Highway 30. It takes you up onto a plateau overlooking the gorge and the river. You're not even that far up, but the views are amazing! You drive through pretty orchards as you drive up the plateau, and then suddenly: vast meadows of wildflowers! The place we stopped is Rowena Crest Viewpoint, and the Tom McCall Preserve and the hiking trail are right across the road from the viewpoint.  If I lived closer I would want to go here every day between April and June.
I'm pretty sure that's Mt. Hood in the background

Bonneville Dam, Multnomah Falls

To break up the drive a bit on our way home, we stopped at Bonneville Dam. We do love a good dam in this family, and we seek them out whenever possible. This dam is quite interesting because of the changes made in it over the years. We went on a tour of the powerhouse and enjoyed it immensely!
Huge generators (turbines are below, with the orange stripe)
Junie by one of the stator coils
Our tour guide told us that a huge chunk fell off of this mountain and dammed the Columbia River in Prehistoric times. Much of that landslide later eroded away, but that's what gave the river its distinctive shape and two-channel flow pattern.
We loved watching fish jump up the fish ladders
And Daisy also loved this huge turbine, evidently.
Fish ladder from below
Lampreys! If there's one piece of information I know in this world, it's what a lamprey has: a round sucking mouth with rasping teeth. I learned it in 10th-grade biology and I have been repeating it frequently ever since (ask anyone). So you can imagine my pleasure and delight at seeing one in the flesh. Round sucking mouth! Rasping teeth! It's all there.
Seb poses precariously on a hill
We were pleased that our path also took us right by Multnomah Falls. I hadn't planned to make a special trip there since we'd already seen such great waterfalls, but when we saw that it was right by us, we stopped and made the quick hike up to the bridge. It was beautiful.
I love the way the water fans out like lace on the rock.

Cedar Wetlands

Right in Rockaway Beach, there's an old-growth Cedar Wetlands Preserve with one of the biggest cedar trees in Oregon in it. We had some little difficulty finding the trail (the instructions I found online were out of date, but I luckily also stumbled on this post which gave the real location of the trailhead: you take Washington Street (right off the 101) toward the mountains (away from the ocean) and turn left on Island Street. At the end of Island Street is the little trailhead. It's right in the middle of a residential neighborhood, but once you duck around the first tree, it's like you stepped into the middle of the wilderness. It's so beautiful! It's more of a walk than a hike, although there are some slippery spots (it's a wetlands, after all!). Soon you come to the huge cedar tree, which has a nice boardwalk around it.
I was afraid that after seeing the huge redwoods, all other trees would look small and unimpressive, but not so! This tree was so cool and knobby. And the whole forest was dripping with green plant life. I just never get tired of it. (Nor of saying that I don't get tired of it, apparently.)
Near the trailhead
Nothing to do with the cedar wetlands; just a street sign we saw in the area
I love the moss enrobing this log!

Tide Pools

We drove up to Cannon Beach one morning to see the tide pools. Sam and I had been to Haystack Rock before on another trip, but never at low tide, and it was interesting how different everything seemed! My mom said she used to spend a week in a little cottage near here every year when she was a little girl.
I hadn't realized how rocky it was---SO many little secret places for crabs and starfish and mussels to hide!
We couldn't decide if we liked the starfish better,
or the anemones, which would squinch up when you stroked them. Fun!
This seagull is quite pleased with his catch! Poor starfish.
I was very excited that it happened to be nesting season for the tufted puffins! (Just SAYING "tufted puffin" makes me happy.) Haystack rock was just covered with them, and with gulls and cormorants and all sorts of other birds. There were some bird watchers there with telescopes, and they let us look at the birds. The puffins make their burrows in the grassy areas on the rock. It was really helpful to have one of the birders tell us how to tell the different kinds of birds apart from far away (based on speed of wingbeat and silhouette, etc).
I couldn't get a good picture from below, but see? You can certainly tell he's a puffin, anyway. So cute! Here is a better picture of a tufted puffin.
The birds were so beautiful and seemed so happy, flying around over the water. :)
Gorgeous views on the way back down toward Rockaway Beach---I love the gradient of sand to water to sky!