Friday, October 3, 2014

Autumn Means..(Pumpkin Butter)

Pumpkin Butter

Combine in a medium saucepan:

1 29 oz. can of pumpkin puree 
1 cup apple juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup pure maple syrup 
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves  

Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly. Lower temperature to medium and cook uncovered, stirring, for 30 minutes to reduce. Here's the thing - It is going to spit (covering your kitchen with delicious spots of goodness, ask me how I know) if you stop stirring it. If you need to walk away, cover it with a screen or an offset lid. Normally I wouldn't bother with a recipe that instructs me to stir something for a solid 30 minutes but in this case it's worth it. Hey, extra love makes things taste better. For real. Just turn on some tunes and daydream, the time will pass in a flash. 

Divide into jars and rest on counter until steaming stops. Screw on air tight lids and pop in the fridge. Keeps in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks or in the freezer for 1 year. 

Makes about two pint jars full.

This is a really flexible recipe. If you want to make your own pumpkin puree and use that, feel free. If you don't have any maple syrup, use all brown sugar. Like more maple flavor, use all maple syrup. If you want to use Grandma's special spice blend, or like it really spicy, go right ahead! Pretty sure you can't go wrong. ❈

Great on waffles, toast, crackers, ice cream, yogurt. Even (ahem) on a spoon. 

(*Please note, the USDA recommends that you not use home canning methods for pumpkin butter. So if you are into canning and putting up supplies, do not "can" this recipe.) 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Snoqualmie Tunnel

In an effort to reclaim part of our identity after three moves in two years we decided to tackle our first family hike in so many months. We actually intended to hike the lovely alpine trail leading to the west entrance to the Snoqualmie Tunnel but (ahem) couldn't remember where the trail head started. We could find the 15 mile hike trail head, but not the much shorter one we had used when the kids were toddlers. A quick google later and we settled for the east entrance.  

Upon arrival at the opening to the tunnel, my husband and I locked eyes and with some carefully concealed hand gestures, silently agreed not to let the kids know what they were in for. 

There may or may not have been some suppressed smirks or fake innocent expressions involved. 

The Snoqualmie Tunnel is part of the Iron Horse State Park's 110 mile trail that makes use of an old rail line. The tunnel was built in 1914 (has been shored up and reopened in 2009) and is 2.3 miles long, very much inside and under a mountain. It is dark. And cold. And a little damp in places. It's also really cool. 

We headed in, telling our kids, "Don't worry, it's not too far.". Which was a total lie, but whatever. 

They both had flashlights and honestly had a pretty good time turning them off and trying to spook each other. We weren't alone. About every five minutes a group of people on bikes would overtake us which took down the creepy factor quite a bit. Almost immediately we could see, "the light at the end of the tunnel". We all watched it grow incrementally from a pinprick until finally it started getting bigger quite quickly. 

If you are the sentimental type, which I totally happen to be, coming out of a 2.3 mile long black dark tunnel might take your breath away. Especially if your daughter happens to be walking in front of you. It's really quite stunning. And not just because it's so bright that you can't see. ❈ 

It all changes so quickly at the end.  I almost wanted to walk slower...  

And just like that, we were outside again. The kids were so excited. And then they realized... there was only one way to get back. Ha!

We played around for a bit. Had a snack. Let our eyes adjust. 

Climbed down to check out the little waterfall...

Climbed up to the top...

Let the kids be kids. 

Eventually it was time to head back. Off we marched...

There was a lot more light coming in from this end and we could see without flashlights for a very long time. 

Soon enough we were in the pitch dark again, headed toward the light at the end of the tunnel. 

And again, coming out into the light was just so striking...  totally worth it. 

Once outside we owned up to the distance. The kids admitted that it was a totally cool experience. They didn't want to do it again anytime soon, but felt pretty accomplished to have done it. 

We've hiked up to the tunnel a few times, and even ventured in a short way. So excited that I can put a big check mark next to this one on the bucket list now that we have walked all the way through it and back. ❈

If you go -
Dress warm, it's cold
Bring a flashlight with fresh batteries
If you choose to turn your flashlight off, listen for approaching bikes, they'll be traveling fast and won't see you. 
Bring a snack
Bring a good sense of humor
Note - Closed November 1st through early May due to ice and snow. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

(Cinnamon Walnut) Butterhorns

About this time of year I start running through my mental inventory of holiday entertaining trickery.

I've got some good ones (See "Recipes" in the side bar.), but I'm always scouting for new ideas. Today I'm in the mood to experiment with something sweet.


This version is made with cinnamon and walnuts. Can't go wrong with those for holiday baking. I'm not sure if these are a pastry like cookie or a cookie like pastry. Either way, they were sweet flakey goodness.  I think they'd be great for any brunch, afternoon nibble with coffee, or late night holiday kitchen raiding.

(Adapted from a recipe found in Simply Whidbey)

When ready to bake, pre-heat oven to 375°

2 sticks butter
2 cups flour
⅔ cup sour cream
1 egg yolk
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup chopped walnuts (You could totally use pecans instead if you like!)
Heaping teaspoon cinnamon

Mix together the butter, flour, sour cream, and egg yolk.  (I used a food processor, mixing first the butter and flour, then adding the sour cream and egg yolk until a dough formed. I'm sure you could do this by hand or with a stand mixer as well.)

Separate dough into five equal portions and wrap in waxed paper. Chill at least 2 hours.

Mix sugar, walnuts and cinnamon in a bowl and set aside.

When you are ready to roll out your doughs, prepare your work surface with a generous dusting of flour. Working with one portion at a time (leave the rest in the fridge), sprinkle with flour and roll out into a circle about 11 inches in diameter (Yes, I totally measured.). 

Spread two heaping spoonfuls of of the sugar mixture over the rolled out dough, almost to the edges. (I just used a cereal spoon.) Pat the mixture down into the dough a bit.

Using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife, cut the circle into 12 equal wedges.

Starting with the wide end, roll each wedge into a crescent shape. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. (I lined my cookie sheet with parchment paper for easier clean up.)

Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes. They should be a nice golden brown.

Makes 5 dozen.

These freeze beautifully and get eaten fast.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Fast Forward One Year...

The new, new (old) house. 

Well, here I am. It's been almost a full year since I've blogged and so much has happened. I'm not sure how I will ever catch up the lost time. In fact, I'm certain that I can't.  With that said, let's just default to bullet points. Sometimes that's just what it ends up boiling down to anyway.

So to catch up, when we last left off we had sold our house while trying to buy a little lake house. That deal fell through and we ended up in a rental house for a year. We were not cut out for renting and were determined to get into a house. When we couldn't find anything to buy locally we eventually purchased and moved into a new construction home about an hour North of our town. The last post before my year long hiatus was in October of 2013. After that, the following went down:

Back yard. 

• In November we finally started to feel settled.
• By December I knew it wasn't working. 
• By January I knew it wasn't something that time, or energy, or will power could fix. 
• By February I started getting really twitchy. 
• By March I was casually looking at houses online. 
• By April I knew for sure we would move back to our original town.
   I just wasn't sure when we could pull it off. I mean really, who does that? 
•  By the end of April my husband arrived at the same place and told me to "find a house". 
• A week later we found and made an offer on a house back home, it was accepted. 
• A week later we listed our house for sale. 
• Two weeks later we accepted an offer on our house. 
• Two weeks later we moved into our new house in our old town. 
• Two weeks later we closed on the house we sold. 

• Our kids were able to attend the last four weeks of school with their friends.

• In June I took the kids on a road trip to Oregon. 
• In July two great husbands sent two grateful wives to Hawaii for a long weekend of R & R.
• In August we took our annual sailing trip through the San Juan's. 
• In September we launched two growing kids into middle school (6th and 7th).

Upper lawn and shed. 

And now here we are. It's autumn again and we've come full circle. Looking forward I'm  hoping to break out my camera for fun photos, experiment with new recipes, and hopefully find some adventure I can post about. I've no idea how the blog will evolve from this point, we'll just have to take it one step at a time and see. 

Until next time,

Thursday, October 31, 2013

This is October...

In a day before Halloween crunch to visit a pumpkin patch before the big day we waved our finger at a map and plunked it down on the most promising local patch within 20 minutes and ended up here. 

It was a wonderful surprise to find it tucked into some rolling hills and surrounded by little white farm houses. I love a good happy accident! 

Somehow the goal is always to find the biggest pumpkin that can still be carried. You have to try out a few...

They had these great dual washing stations with old hand pumps, something we've never encountered before. Who can say no to an old school hand pump? They were able to spend a good amount of time here as there was no one waiting for a turn. 

After getting the pumpkins we strolled up to the farm store to check things out...

There were some fun little things...

And we took full advantage. 

Super cute place…

Meet Ham One and Ham Two.  "Ok! Now pretend to run me over!"

So glad we were able to squeeze this in. So glad I got my annual pumpkin photo! 

(Yes, those are hot pink socks. Breast cancer awareness socks. I love a man in pink!)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Content... (Where is is?)

Getting ready to pass under the Deception Pass Bridge

The last year... (sigh). 

It's kind of thrown me for a loop. Like a turn you around, flip you over so you are landing upright, but in a totally different direction than you started in, loop. 

The marina from the grounds of the Moran Mansion, Orcas Island.
And it's not bad (Unless I make the mistake of looking at these photos of the dream house we lost last year.) , or good.  It's a new life. 

And I'm adjusting. 

The rope swing at the Cascade Lake Tree.

It's really hard to explain without sounding whiney. Because, really and truly - it's good. But at the same time...  Just "whoa". You know?

Rosario Harbor.
It will come. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither is a new life. Thankfully I'm finally starting to find places that make me feel at home.

The life. Nuff said.
And yay for the holidays! Because I can't think of a better way of settling in than filling this brand new house with some good old fashioned memories.

I'm pretty sure when I hauled out the fall decor the other day that I could actually see the kids relax three notches.

Sucia Island, by float plane.
What relief it must be for them to know that we are still us and our holidays are still going to look just the way they are supposed to, even though every other thing in their lives are different.

The bay from Sucia.
So the content... this blog... it's adapting and adjusting too. And it feels good to be looking forward to that. Finally. ❈

It kind of leaves you speechless.

*We took this trip to Orcas Island right before school started. It was just what we needed to ground our spirits a little. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

We're In, We're Out

Just a quick update:

We're IN!  Moved into the new house this weekend. Moved all day Saturday and spent all day Sunday cleaning the rental (which is hysterical considering how dirty it was when we moved into it, but I digress...).

Had our first breakfast on the deck  yesterday and I have to say, it felt like being on vacation.

Still working on sorting our home into place, happy chaos ensues. ❈