16 February 2015

Of Unexpected Blessings: Pt I

 
Who would have ever thought that in mid February our plum tree would have its first bloom?
And our garden would also be seeing daffodils, daphne, camellia and pieris blooms too?
And who would have ever thought that my Farmer Boy would be mowing
our yard on a sunny, dry weekend?
Certainly not I.

 
And who would have thought their wish would come true and they would be standing looking at this beautiful coastal creek -- all because of a little girl's request and a traffic jam?

 
Or that a certain big girl would be blessed with seeing sights she had never seen or be able to touch and walk on the rock that has enchanted her for a long, long time--
but has always been just a little out of reach?

 
And who would have thought that the tide would be so kind (LOL)
as to reveal more of the magic that is THIS beach...?
 
 
Not I, not I.
But there was even more to come on this special weekend of love.
And it involved a return to a location that was changed because of weather that was not nearly as wonderful as our weather has been...
 
 
In other news,
the G Room bed has been finished and has officially been slept in by a
 certain, much loved Small One.
I will soon be calling upon all of you very gifted crafters to
advise me on a certain idea I have about it...
 
How was your weekend?
Blessings,
Aimee
 
Photos:
Satsuma plum bloom--just in time for Valentine's Day:)
Neskowin Creek looking inland
(two creeks come together on what is considered by some a very romantic beach;
kind of like two hearts becoming one...)
North portion of Proposal Rock
(yep I really like this romantic Valentine's Day weekend theme I got going here)
Looking south towards Cascade Head and part of the "ghost forest"
More "ghost forest"
(an earlier post with a link to a wonderful video)
Part of the finished Scandinavian Style daybed with storage
 
Time for bed. Lots of garden work to get done today:)
 

09 February 2015

DS's Pork Verde Recipe

Oh, oh! Aimee's making a recipe post while watching a special on her favorite place on the coast (or at least one of them) Astoria...this should be interesting :)

Dear Son's Pork Verde:

Ingredients:
  • pork shoulder, 4#, cubed
  • sweet onions, 2, peeled, chopped
  • jalapeno peppers, 2, seeded, chopped
  • poblano peppers, 2, seeded, chopped
  • garlic, a few small cloves, peeled, chopped
  • tomatillos,  1 1/2#, peeled, chopped
  • chicken stock, 1/2 box (no salt)
  • chili powder, 1 1/2 tablespoons
  • oregano, 2 teaspoons
  • cumin, 1 teaspoon
  • green chiles, 1 can
  • hot sauce, if desired
  • kale, 2 bundles, chopped
  • cilantro, 1 bundle, chopped
  • 2-3 limes, juiced

Directions for Pork Verde:
1. In a skillet, sear cubed pork in hot oil. Season the meat with salt either before or during the searing process and sear it in small enough batches so that the pan is not overcrowded at any time. Place meat in crockpot once you have finished seared it.
2. Using the same skillet, cook onions low and slow, scrapping pan to remove any browned bits of meat leftover from searing the pork cubes.
3. When the onions are mostly caramelized, add peppers and cook them for a couple of minutes before you add the garlic. (Chef's note: if you have a gas stove, you can skip this step and char the veggies including the tomatillos. If you char the peppers peel or scrape them after you do this).
4. After removing the veggies, deglaze the skillet with chicken stock. Add all veggies, chicken stock and remaining ingredients to the crockpot except the kale, lime juice and cilantro (you'll cook the rice separately).
5. Cook pork mixture in the crockpot for 6 hours on low. Add kale one hour before serving; cilantro and lime juice a few minutes before serving (Chef's note: adding these close to serving time gives them a more pronounced taste.)

Rice:
  • brown rice, 4 cups
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • cilantro, 1/2 bunch, chopped
  • chicken stock, 1/2 box (no salt)

Directions:
1. About an hour before the Pork Verde is done, cook the brown rice in a separate pot according to the rice package directions.
2. Add lime juice and cilantro when the rice is done. You can also use the leftover chicken broth as part of the liquid needed to cook the rice.

Serving Suggestions:
To serve, place rice in individual bowls and top with a generous serving of the Pork Verde mixture. You can top this with sour cream or plain yogurt if you'd like. Another idea is to serve the pork with warmed tortillas, finely diced onions and cilantro.

Notes:
I didn't include full information on how to prepare tomatillos, etc., so if you're unfamiliar with a certain item please check the web for information on how to prepare it or feel free to ask questions in the comment section below and I'll ask my son for you. Also, if you see a possible error let me know as I wrote this up from various texts my son and I sent each other over a period of several days :) Yep, you got to love that modern technology!
Enjoy. It's very, very yummy!

Blessings,
Aimee

27 January 2015

Of Garden Surprises + More

Last Saturday found me--
not on a lovely sandy beach nor on snowy mountain slopes I'm sad to say.
I did see a lot of the bathroom floor I was lying on for quite awhile though.
Sigh. I hate being sick.
 
Later that day, and on Sunday too,
though still a bit shaky I was able to get outside and explore the gardens.
 
 
Our wonderful and very dependable camellia sasanqua is still filled with pretty pink blossoms.
 
 
A bit closer.
Probably should have used a tripod on this shot.
 
 
A bit further along, the candytuft is starting to bloom.
Hey, what?
We are still in January right?
Yep. The calendar still says we are.
 
 
The Oregon Grape looks like it might be preparing another garden surprise also...
 
 
The lower pond was a mixture of blue and white from our lovely spring-like day.
 
 
 
I LOVE this time of the year because I can enjoy the ponds and NOT run into the slithery ones:)
 
 
A look in the upper pond...
I LOVE lily pads!
 
And on the deck table
and on our bed
and in the G room work continued on the project...
 
 
cutting out the scalloped accent...
can't believe my hubby drew this freehand from a picture on my phone!
 
 
finials attached.
Any ideas what Aimee's dream was?
 
Blessings,
Aimee
 
Terri~
My son said yes to sharing the recipe and so, after a bit of texting back and forth,
I have it written out and will post it here soon. Thanks for asking:)
 
Teresa~
Awhile back (November) you asked me for a bigger photo of the koi pond. I did get one this weekend. It's not the best because all the vegetation looks really dead and there are plenty of weeds too, but I can post it or try to get a better one for you once the pond plants come out of their dormancy.
 
Lorrie~
Back in September you asked me for the info on the organic fruit tree pest traps. I finally found it during one of my cleaning/sorting missions. Would you still like it?
 
 

22 January 2015

Of Burnt Sienna Ponies, Pork Verde, Projects + Still Blooming Roses

 
Our Christmas rose-in-winter miracle has become our late January wonder.
There's something a little odd, but totally fabulous, about having
blooming pink roses at this time of the year!
Truly it's a blessing!
 
Besides admiring our roses,
I've been on a bit of a cleaning and sorting mission inside the house.
 

It's also been a trip down "Memory Lane"--
this tin belonged to my mom and was made in England years ago.
I bet some of you can recall the poem that goes with it:)

 
And this is Pokey and Gumby.
Anyone remember them?
I'll admit I have a thing for horses--
even those that are burnt sienna and don't eat hay :)

I have found there are two major obstacles in this sorting process.
First, many of these inanimate objects hold a lot of sweet memories for me...
of mom,
my grandparents,
childhood,
the kids when they were young,
of--
well a lot of things.

Can I really get rid of them?

Secondly, what if I someday need the item and it costs ten times as much or isn't available?
After all who ever saw food prices rising as much as they have in the last several years?

Sigh. Need to do this...
we just have TOO much stuff that we've accumulated.

Of course,
some items are easier then others...
as I was stuffing my huge collection of rubber stamps into drawers today,
my main thought was a LOT of these have GOT TO GO!

Hopefully I will find more items that I feel that way about--stuff I don't ever use or enjoy anymore.
 
 
Back to more pleasant thoughts---
the garden!
 
Teresa recently posted a photo of her budding daphne.
Of course, that made me wonder about ours which gave me an excuse to get outside for a bit.
I LOVE that the days are getting longer again and that we've had some rather sunny days!
I have been thinking a LOT about spring lately and can hardly wait for more flowers.
I've also been thinking a LOT about how much I need a walk on the beach or up in the mountains...

But there's more work to do before I can play.

As you already know the "G" room is done
and we're working on furnishing it.

 
My very talented Farmer Boy is working on a project for that room --
one commissioned by his always dreaming, Nordic loving wife and
one which will soon be finished because of his love for a certain Small One.
Dear Hubby has done a lot more on it since this pic was taken--
but can you guess what it is??

Of course, since we don't have a garage or shop, it did require our bed
 to be turned -- temporarily -- into a workbench. Lately it's done a lot of double duty and it may do more as I already have another project in mind:)
 
Recently our oldest son invited us over for yet another fabulous meal--
this time we enjoyed the most wonderful pork verde and rice ever!
And I would show you a picture but I never got a good one :(
 
Just close your eyes and imagine tender pork shoulder,
a mixture of peppers,
onions, garlic, tomatillos, cilantro, lime, seasonings...
YUM, there I go making myself hungry again.
  
While our son was cooking,
 we were entertained by his roommate who was playing one of those
modern interactive games.
All I can say is the video games we played when our kids were young --
games like Donkey Kong, Pac Man and others --
aren't a thing like the ones they have today! 
  
To finish this post here's the WORD for your Wednesday Thursday--
 
 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.
For he shall be as a tree planteth by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river,
and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green;
and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit,

 Jeremiah 17:7, 8 KJV
 
Have a GREAT Thursday!
 
Blessings,
Aimee
 

01 January 2015

Of Roses In Winter, Christmas + Another New Year

When Advent started,
 I made a hundred and one plans--
most of which were changed when Farmer Boy decided
that Christmas would be a great time to finish some of the items on our seemingly endless 'to do' list. This would mean very little decorating and no baking, but it was logical in that he had time off from work and we would not be entertaining this year.
 
At first, I was VERY disappointed and stressed out, as I was looking forward to turning our home into a lovely winter wonderland...but because I wished to maintain my sanity,
I finally followed Elsa's good advice and "Let it go"--
well at least the winter wonderland part.
Now, looking back, I am glad I did because I'm SO happy to be done with more projects!
 
 
Finished:
 the G (guest) room, 
new handmade cabinet doors on a once very ugly storage area
and a few smaller projects.
YIPPEE!
 
Additionally, we were able to start cleaning and organizing the third bedroom that's been
used as a storage room for years now AND I found all my craft stuff --
some of which I had forgotten about--
candle and soap making supplies, ribbons, craft books, stamps (unfortunately way too many of these),
other card making stuff, scrapbooks, etc. Now to finish the job so I can use the treadmill and
work on the crafts I enjoy again. It would be a great way to start the new year off don't you think?
 
And that winter wonderland I dreamed about creating for this Christmas season?
Well there's a little surprise decorating project I am planning for that remodeled guest room--
in honor of Elsa and the Small One who loves her of course
:)
 
 
As I said baking was out this Christmas season,
but one of my sweet SIL's saw to it that we had a lot of homemade goodies to snack on during this time. Although this is a terrible picture, the goodies were indescribably yummy! And, unless my hubby Elf comes up with another project to work on, I still have a few days till Epiphany (January 6th) and a long list of Nordic goodies I want to make.
 
Speaking of indescribably yummy Christmassy food...
 
 
on Christmas Day our oldest son had us up to his place for a luscious dinner of glazed ham, green beans, mushroom gravy, a special potato-root veggie mash (sweet and russet potato, celery root, parsnips) and a lovely crostini topped with cream cheese, roasted beet and hazelnuts. It was SO GOOD that both hubby and I had multiple helpings and wanted even more!
 
 While there, in the lap of "civilization" (LOL) we enjoyed things we normally aren't able to do--things like watching a movie on Netflix (Skyfall--007) and doing Facetime with our granddaughter and son using an iPad. I can see why so many people love Apple products. My son used to do support for them and he has sung their 'praises' for years--LOL
 
As I have already mentioned, one of my Advent/Christmas dreams
had been to bake, and one of the items I had really wanted to try was lussekatter--
that lovely golden saffron roll Scandinavians make on St. Lucia's Day
(December 13th).
Here's one I shared with a good friend several years ago...
 
 
YUM. I can almost taste it now.
 
Doing it the traditional way was NOT going to happen due to all the remodeling and health issues;
a trip to the bakery I originally found these at was out of the question too.
But today, with no remodeling or cleanup happening and feeling OK (yea),
I was finally able to make an easy substitute...
and it did help satisfy my need for creating a pretty roll that reminded me a little of the swirls
and flourishes of rosemaling (Norwegian folk art) I love.
 
 
Since these were definitely not baked per tradition (no raisin or currant in the middle of the coils, no saffron, wrong type of dough, etc.), I also indulged my constant wintertime need for citrus with a very unorthodox orange icing that reminded me of orange sherbet.  These pseudo lussekatter turned out pretty well although next time I will have to alter the baking time +/or temperature as the bottoms were a tiny bit burnt.
As for the real thing...my son told me he will give me a private
 cooking lesson sometime soon and even provide the needed saffron :)
 
 
Around Christmas Day, I asked Farmer Boy to come with me up to Mom's gravesite and immediately started to gather a wintertime bouquet of camellia sasanqua (above photo) for her grave. Suddenly I heard him yelling that we had blooming roses. Roses? Blooming roses? Turns out we did.
 
All I can think is it must be some kind of miracle to have blooming roses here in winter and
that my mom must be smiling at God's little Christmas gift to me. She probably smiled at the fact that the deer that live near the cemetery would be happy to see the roses too:)
(my mom had a great sense of humor and deer love to eat roses)
 
 
Another Christmas surprise--
but not nearly as nice as the roses--
was the yellow jacket I found in the G Room this week.
Fortunately he was moving a little slower due to all the chilly night temps
 we've had recently
and I was able to convince him to leave the house without getting stung.
Roses AND yellow jackets in late December?
Strange but wonderful.
 
Finally, it being New Year's Day, I wanted to share my New Year's resolution here.
As I have been doing for the last several years, I chose some scripture for my goal.
For 2015 the following verses will be my resolution.
"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." Proverbs 3: 5, 6 KJV
 
Wishing you all a blessed, peaceful and joy-filled 2015!
Blessings,
Aimee
 
Sorry about the less than stellar photos.
Many of them were taken with my cell phone or when I was in less than optimum conditions. Also, as usual, I am watching one of those wonderful cooking shows and--well you know what that means:)
 

11 December 2014

Saturday By the Sea

Hello visitors!
I am totally into the Advent season now! Having finished my second reading of the New Testament for this year, I am currently reading through a list of Messianic Prophecies (prophecies in the Old Testament which foretell of the birth, life and death of Jesus).
As far as decorating for this wonderful season, I have been doing that in my usual leisurely manner--not all at once but little bits each day or so. Now if we could only have some pretty white snow instead of the BIG windstorm that is forecast.

But before I move on to Advent and Christmas...
 
 
As part of our Thanksgiving week celebrations,
we spent some time by the sea with our youngest granddaughter who,
not surprisingly, shares her grandma's love of the coast.
 
 
At first, it was really cold and windy (the above photo reminded me of a bad hair day (AKA our hairdo after a day at the beach), but then things got much better and we really enjoyed our time checking out Siletz Bay and the Pacific Ocean. There were lots of other people enjoying the area too, but we managed to snag the very last spot in the popular parking area. Yea!
We saw kayakers, fishermen, beachcombers and more...always fun to watch.
 
 
Of course, we also saw the usual residents...
small birds,

 
bigger birds
 
 
 
and the resident harbor seals which can always be seen on Salishan Spit
(located south of where we were)

 
 
The waves were glorious--
I LOVE high waves as much as I love low tides!
  
  
 
 It was a wonderful way to spend the last day before Advent!

Finally, fellow Oregonians and history lovers--
did you know there's a shipwreck located in this very same bay?
Yep. And being one who loves historical mysteries (and knows some others do too),
I've included a few links to some information on this mystery.

http://www.northlincolncountyhistoricalmuseum.org/historical-highlights/
(scan down to the very short article on the Schooner shipwreck)
http://ouroregoncoast.com/lincoln-city-area-guide/1409-siletz-bay-ghost-ship-an-oregon-coast-ghost-story.html
(another short article)
 http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Searchers+sift+Siletz+sands+for+signs+of+mystery+ship.-a0117950064
(an awesome, not too long, but more in depth article about the shipwreck there)

Maybe someday, if we're very, very lucky it will reappear! I know if it does, I'll be there.

Advent Blessings,
Aimee

Photos: Siletz Bay, Oregon
 

08 December 2014

Of Thanksgiving Turkey + Other Fowl

Thanksgiving Week
 
 
saw us in the Coast Range
 
 
admiring some newly fallen snow!
And it found us in one of our many Pacific NW National Wildlife Refuges
 
 
loving the dramatic morning light
(MUCH more dramatic in person)! 
 
It also saw us on the beach
(no surprise, I know. LOL)
 
 
enjoying a walk along the bay, watching the big waves and taking in the city's Christmas decorations!
 
But, on Thanksgiving Day it saw us here--
at my Chef's son home
 
 
devouring and thoroughly LOVING the meal he prepared for us!
 
On the menu was:
a truly DELICIOUS apple juice brined, herb infused roast turkey with gravy,
mashed potatoes
 (a FABULOUS combination of sweet potatoes and russet potatoes plus garlic and other ingredients),
totally YUMMY kale with bacon, hazelnuts and more
(I am NOT ashamed to say I have a new love in my life now---kale!)
and,
last but not least,
cranberry chutney SO GOOD I could eat it at least once a week
(needless to say I am stocking up on fresh cranberries while they're still available)!
 
Everything was great and we enjoyed each other's company,
chatting,
cooking,
learning about Netflix (something we had never seen)
and
getting some quick cooking lessons
:)
 
 
Sadly the lighting was dim and
 I didn't have my camera settings correct so pix are few,
but I had to include this refrigerator decoration in this post.
 I thought it (and the ones for fowl, pork and more) quite fitting...
 
Now about those other birds...
On the weekend, I got the brilliant idea to take the Small One to a NWR
 
 
and I knew just the one I wanted her to see--Baskett Slough near the town of Dallas, Oregon.
 
 
I love this one because you can hike
(although that is limited to the butte during the winter season to protect the visiting waterfowl)
 and drive through the refuge using your vehicle as a blind...
We were blessed to see a heron, duck, geese, hawks and more!
We also walked part way up the butte but didn't make it to where the deer usually are.
If you ever go to a NWR make sure you bring binoculars, a good camera with a zoom lens and SNACKS (for you, not the wildlife).
 
 
At home our remodeling project is getting closer to being done
(YEA!).
My hubby has just about finished painting and he's installed the new ceiling light and mini blinds.
Next to go:
the finishing touches to the ceiling then the laminate flooring and closet doors!
That means it's almost time to get a futon:)
 
 
Advent Blessings,
Aimee
 
Photos:
Oregon Central Coast Range
Baskett Slough NWR
Lincoln City area
and elsewhere!
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