28 March 2015

Spring Break Along Yaquina Bay and Parts North

It's spring break in Oregon,
so mid-week my best friend of many, many years and I spent
some time together on the central Oregon coast. And, because there
was no school, we brought some of our favorite kiddos along--
Small One and my BFF's grandson.
Some photos from our daytrip...
In this aquarium some of the creatures stare back at you...
(Speaking of creatures, it's prime whale watching time right now in Oregon
so get out to your favorite headland and bring a good pair of binoculars!)
A view of the Yaquina Bay bridge from a different vantage point than I've seen before.
I'll have to come back on a sunnier day and take another photo...
and maybe, maybe take some using my zoom lens too.

The Yaquina Bay lighthouse.
There are two lighthouses in the area--this one and the Yaquina Head lighthouse
which is located a little further to the north.
Kind of an unusual lighthouse in that the living quarters and light are in the same building.
A little closer view of the bridge I love--
when I'm not on it that is.  
One of the murals along the historic, working bayfront area...
sadly we couldn't get parking this time. Of course I've been here before
so I wasn't too disappointed.  
A quick drive-by shot in the Nye Beach district--
another historic area in Newport.
Can you see the Yaquina Head Lighthouse off to the left?
After a yummy shrimp melt sandwich at Moe's
(yes we went up to the Siletz Bay one then we returned south to Beverly Beach
for some fun in the sand and surf).
A new game...

with an expected outcome.
Just to let you know, I wasn't too comfy with this game
and made her move further up on the sand.
Too many news reports on sneaker waves...

Kite flying time...
for my friend, granddaughter and I.
See how the sun came out?

A view to the north...
It was a GREAT day,
full of some surprises,
some new-to-us destinations
a lot of good conversation.
Makes it all the harder knowing things will soon change...
Well we have a lot of plans for tomorrow so it's time,
past time actually,
for some shut eye.
Good night :)
Wishing you all a very blessed Palm Sunday weekend!
Hatfield Marine Science Center (OSU)
(link above to another post I did with a lot more photos and a link to their site)
Newport's south jetty
(first time there!)
Newport's historic bayfront
(lots to look at and as an extra bonus, sea lions)
Beverly Beach

23 March 2015

What Serenity Looks Like

Serenity surrounded us there.
It accompanied me as I passed by the ponds.

It filled my heart as I beheld this grove of trees.
And with it came a sense of wonder as I stood on the bridge watching a pair of ducks below
and later contemplated the seed head of a dandelion.
The calls of assorted birds could be heard as I wondered along
through forest, meadow and oak savannah.
They filled my heart with joy!
For a time this past Sunday this is what serenity looked like.  
What kind of places make you feel peaceful?

The WORD on Monday:)
These things I have spoken unto you,
that in Me ye might have peace.
In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer;
I have overcome the world.
John 16:33 KJV
Early spring.
Tualatin River NWR
(one of several refuges in the Willamette Valley--all unique;
all wonderful when you're looking for a bit of serenity and wonder)

21 March 2015

(Official) Spring in the Garden

The last day, of the strange yet wonderful winter of 2015, found my best friend and I toiling away in the garden and after months of virtual neglect we had much to do! During the 4 hours we worked we pulled out blackberry vines that seem to LOVE all rural PNW gardens, removed some of the naughtier, most unruly running bamboo and we weeded, raked and watched the burn pile grow.
A lot done and there's a LOT more to do!
Somehow though it seemed quite pleasant working under a blue sky and temps
 that seemed more like early summer or late spring than winter.
Of course there's a lot of blooming going on right now because of our VERY abnormal winter temps.
the sunny yellow blooms of forsythia, daffodils and Oregon grape,
the lovely white of a magnolia, pieris, other daffodils and many fruit trees,
the always pretty pink blossoms of one of our bleeding hearts and azaleas,
and the unexpected small blue blossoms of the brunnera and light purple of the rosemary.
The blueberries and evergreen huckleberries are in bloom as is our most lovely native kinnikinnick. In the bud stage is one peach colored rose and there are buds not quite showing color yet on some of the other roses. Our prairiefire crabapple's buds are right on the verge of opening and yesterday I noticed that our one and only beloved trillium has emerged from the ground (yippee), as has it's nearby neighbor, a hosta. Some of these plants are about a month ahead of schedule I think and others are pretty much on time or a bit early. Our forecast is calling for cooler temperatures for a few days and rain (yea, yea, yea) so maybe things will slow down.

Well I should be in bed (or doing the dishes my hubby, who just came out for an early morning snack, says) but I am, as usual, not tired yet so I'll share some photos...be forewarned the lighting was not the best and I still had on my zoom lens from our last trip with Small One. Anyway here goes!

Oregon Grape

Resident toad who offered to pose for a picture--
ok he didn't offer and I took much more than one picture :)

Camellia--a japonica
 (our camellia sasanqua finally decided to stop blooming after some 5 months of color)

Fruit tree blossoms
(I think this is one of our pears)
(borrowed from a post I made 2 years ago. One can only take so much bad lighting you know. LOL)
Brunnera Jack Frost
(also borrowed from an older post.
 I love the leaves and forget-me-not type flowers on these shade loving plants).
Oh my! There's the most wonderful violinist playing on TV right now.
I have thought for the longest time that the violin most closely matches the melody of my heart--
well at least the sadder tunes.
I think the flute captures the peaceful, happier tunes.
What instrument would you say is most like the melody of your heart?
Well I guess I'd best get to sleep as I am officially exhausted now.
Blessings + Happy Spring (or Autumn) to you!
A favorite couple of verses for your springtime...
(even if it's not Wednesday)
For, lo, the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone;
The flowers appear on the earth;
 the time of the singing of birds is come,
 and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.
Song of Solomon 2:11-12

10 March 2015

Of Unexpected Blessings: Pt II

From awhile ago...

Our early spring continues with many days of blue skies,
blossoming fruit trees and other plants
lots of yard work still needing to be done!

So today, instead of dipping our toes in the sea
or watching one of my favorite rivers in action,

pruned and pruned some more,
turned back on our external water system
(then had to turn it off in a few days because of the cold night temps),
raked leaves
(yep, didn't do that this fall)
and watched a red tail hawk flying over us.
the best part
(other then all of the above)
was we didn't see ANY of the slithery ones!
Now, that's what I call a perfect spring-in-winter day:)
  (Update: but this last weekend lucky me had the
first snake sighting--CLOSE up of course)
But this post isn't about today--
though it was filled with unexpected blessings--
it's about Valentine's Day weekend and our trip up into Oregon's coast range.
 Now most visitors and residents  take one of the main highways that cross the mountains that run north to south between the Willamette Valley and the coast.
But there's some of us that prefer the quieter, (usually) less traveled and
MUCH more interesting back roads.
It's a beautiful little drive -- with lots of pretty things to look at...
 some white water
(if you know where to look for it and where to park so you can take a photo or two).
A pretty meadow with a river running through it and a favorite spot of mine!
Looks peaceful doesn't it?
What you may not know is that it hasn't always looked the way it does now.
In fact if you had been here in the very early 60's,
before November 20, 1962 that is,
you would have seen a beautiful lake here.
But on that day, the historic dam holding back those waters failed.
I would not have wanted to be downstream of that dam on that day.
Though no one lost their life, it must have been scary knowing
that a lot of water and debris was headed your way.
I don't recall ever hearing about this dam break as a child;
my hubby was the first to tell me about the existence of Meadow Lake and to show me its location.
I do recall the horrible Columbus Day storm that preceded it by more than a month though and I do recall our family enjoying a picnic or two at another earth-filled dam not too far from this one.
Ah, the memories of childhood...
funny what you remember and what lays hidden deep within your mind.

You can still see the big boulders of the dam,
although there's a lot more moss and
undergrowth since my Hubby was here with his Dad in the late 60s.
That's how he knew about Meadow Lake.
Some of these boulders are quite large--the size of a car.
I didn't want to venture closer to the edge...at this time of the year I wouldn't trust the area.
Lots more to see up here--
lots of views of the valley and even the Cascade Mountains.
A drive by, not so great photo of Mt. Hood 
(one of the two snow covered peaks we saw that day and they were stunning in person)

a photo of the valley.
There's a somewhat hidden viewpoint near here that we've visited before.

A pretty little valley that you pass.
Yep, it's a beautiful back country byway and one of my favorite places.
Perhaps sometime this year I'll share photos of the lovely river canyon that you drive through on the "main" route, but until then you can check out the links below for the alternate mountain route that we've taken several times.
Now it's back to work. Our sun has gone away and they're calling for rain,
but Friday is looking good! Meanwhile the blooms are multiplying outside and
sometimes it almost feels like summer-in-winter. Truly amazing!
Blessings, Aimee
Links (I included quite a few as my search feature isn't working correctly and I wanted a list of posts from this area to refer to quickly):

(Bible Creek Rd, Lake, etc.)
(Bald Mountain/Bible Creek Rd Route)
(Bald Mountain/Bible Creek Rd Route--first time)
(Meadow Lake area and more)
(Meadow Lake area, viewpoint BLM)

Meadow Lake Dam Info:
(several photos available here of the lake before and after 1961)
(awesome history of the lake and dam that I found)
(newspaper report about the event and other problems caused by the abundance of rain that fall. Includes a very short witness account of the dam's collapse)

(Updated 3/11) Brochure and video of Nestucca River Byway:
(printable brochure with a map of the byway)

Other (just for me because it took me FOREVER to find it this last time)
Fear + Mountain Roads by Lakes

02 March 2015

Of Sandy Toes + Rocky Beaches

Saturday saw Farmer Boy working in our yard...
pruning, weeding, burning (ick),
raking, hauling and watching a red tail hawk in the skies above us.
So much still to do, but there's improvement--yippee!
Sunday found us here--
watching the wave action against the north jetty of Tillamook Bay,
Admiring Twin Rocks from a little different perspective.
Watching our youngest grandchild write letters in the sand...
and get her toes all sandy.
Hiking a bit in the Tillamook forest where there's lots of moss and...
the beautiful Wilson River!
It was a pretty incredible day -- a day filled with lots of time in God's gardens
(which are always my favorite gardens).
So much to do this week.
How about you?
Oregon North Coast
Tillamook State Forest

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?
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:

  • 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.)

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

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.

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!

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