Monday, March 24, 2014

Alaska Part 3

Day 5 of our Alaska adventure. It's been around 30 degrees here which is cold but not awful until the North wind blows and cuts right through the thin Oregonian coats Mom and I brought. One of my most favorite places here is the Dyea area. My daughter-in-law Dannie is so good about being our tour guide. After everyone got up from their naps we loaded up in the van and took off to show Mom Long Bay and see about getting some family pictures.

Skagway has a rich history and Dyea played a huge part in the gold rush. There isn't much there but mudflats now but at one time it was a very active area...

 
I think I like it best in the summer when the fireweed is blooming, but it was still beautiful this Spring with its dressing of lingering snow banks...
 

 
We jumped out of the car with the babies thinking that we would get a few good family shots, but we about froze to death so they turned out goofy...
 
 
We're all a bit goofy in this family so I guess it works. We couldn't get back into the warm van fast enough. On the way back home we stopped to get a good shot of Long Bay...
 
 
My most favorite photo of my husband and I and Tim and I have been taken here. And the photos just doesn't do it justice. I just can't get enough of this incredible view.
 
This was our last full day here before we board the Ferry and head to Juneau. We spent the afternoon being silly, doing pipe cleaner crafts, painting and admiring Maycee's fashion designs...
 
 
 
I'll miss this little Alaska family of mine when we have to head back to Oregon. I'm so glad that we were able to take this trip and that Mom got to experience this with me. Tomorrow is another big adventure. A 7 hour ferry trip along the Lynn Canal to Juneau and our connecting flight home. This will be my first daytime ferry ride (I generally take the latest ferry out to have more time with Tim and his family) and I can't wait to take pictures along the way.
 

Alaska Part 2

Mom and I landed in Skagway Alaska on Thursday. I don't know how we managed it, but between my Mom, daughter-in-law Dannie and I, we managed to keep Mom coming with me a secret from
my son. He was at work when we got in and when he called Dannie to say he was ready to come home I was the one that got to pick him up.

It was funny to me that here was a 33 year old hard working father of two waiting to be picked up from work yet all I saw was my much missed little boy. A year and a half between visits is just too long. He was surprised to see me, but the reaction when he walked in the house and did a double take when he saw his grandma standing there was priceless. We had him convinced that grandma just wasn't able to fly. Such a good surprise.

When we got settled in our room I opened my suitcase to find a nice little note from security letting me know that my bag had been searched. What was it about an old lady's seashell tapestry suitcase that prompted a search? Well, I guess it could have been the summer sausage from Aunt Mindy wrapped tightly in plastic and white paper and tucked in a zippered compartment. Or maybe the dryer sheets that I tucked in my shoes before  packing just to keep them fresh. Really, I've watched enough episodes of Border Wars to know that this might look slightly suspicious.

It's beautiful here. I've been fortunate enough to visit this little frontier town both during tourist season and in the off season. It's like two completly different worlds. During the height of tourist season the town can host as many as 10,000 visitors from the cruise ships that stop here. All the little shops along Broadway open and it's a beehive of activity with a festival like feel.

The off season is totally different. It's odd to drive down the main drag and see almost all of the storefronts empty and not a soul on the street...



So far, this has been such a nice quiet visit filled with things that memories are made of...


Like all the visits before this one is going too fast. Today we're off for a little drive and, I'm pretty sure, more arts and crafts and funny little kid cuddling.



Sunday, March 23, 2014

North to Alaska

My Mom will be 70 this year in May. I guess I should have asked her before I shared that, but I think it's quite a landmark and one to celebrate. Last year we had a bit of a scare when she was diagnosed with lung cancer. It was a long road but she pulled through that and now we're doing things that we had put off doing. Like this little adventure that we're on right now.

My sister Mindy and niece Abby brought Mom to my place and dropped her off last Saturday. The adventure started right away. It's almost like a wildlife safari with all the animals that I share my house with. On Tuesday, we went to lunch with my best friend Lori and I insisted that Mom try a bite of sushi. I gave her a rousing "you're going to be 70! You have to be adventurous!" speech till she folded to peer pressure and ate it. I was so proud of her. She even waited till I went back to work to throw it up. (Sorry Mom....)

On Thursday morning our real adventure started. We flew out of Eugene bight and early. It was a quick flight to Seattle where we had a little lay-over and some breakfast and people watching...


Then it was on to Juneau. Another nice flight. Much smaller airport than Seattle. And full of bears...
 
 
My son Timothee had no idea that Mom was coming with me and thought that I was taking the ferry the next day. But we managed to catch a small six seat "puddle jumper" a couple of hours later for the last leg of our trip.  I was a little worried about getting Mom into the smaller plane but with the help of a few friendly Alaskans we got her in and settled.

I actually enjoy the smaller planes. I love how you can really see out at all the beauty. In the last three trips I've taken to Skagway the plane has left Juneau and flown up the Lynn Canal. Which I love. But this trip we took off from Juneau and headed straight up and over Mendenhal Glacier. Breath taking....

 




It was only a 45 minute flight, but the entire time Mom and I were both in awe. Alaska was never a place that I had a strong desire to explore, but after my first visit here I was hooked. There is something so humbling and soul soothing about the vast uninhabited views from the plane.

We landed in Skagway and were greeted by my daughter-in-law and my sweet grandbabies. Mom had a little trouble getting off the little plane but I'm pretty sure that it was a total act just to get the good looking young bush pilot to put his arm around her and help her down the ladder. I'll have to try that "help me down" act on the flight out...

 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Mmmmm...Apple Streusel Bars

What a great lazy, rainy Sunday. Ken and I did something we seldom do; we actually slept in. Seems like we always make a big noise on Friday about how we're glad it's finally the weekend and we're sleeping in and then Saturday morning at 5:30 or 6:00 we're wide awake and getting up to make coffee.

But this morning, we actually stayed in bed until 8:30. It felt amazing. Yesterday we spent several hours hauling trash and trying to get things cleaned up outside before the rain hit again, so it was nice to take this day and just hang out. And the fact that it was pouring buckets and we couldn't work outside if we wanted to made staying in a no-brainer.

A day like this called for something wonderful baking in the oven, and since I had a big bowl of  Granny Smith apples that needed to be used, I thought that some Apple Struedel Bars would be perfect.

What You'll Need

Sweet Pastry

2 cups flour (or gluten free flour blend)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tea. baking powder
1 cup butter softened
1 egg, beaten

Filling

1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup flour (or gluten free flour blend)
3 tea. cinnamon
4 Granny Smith (or other) apples, peeled,cored and sliced

Glaze

2 cups powered sugar
3 tbs. whole milk
1 tea. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, wisk together flour, sugar and baking powder. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it's in pea sized pieces. Gently fold in the beaten egg.


Spray the bottom and sides of an 9x13 pan. Spread 2/3 (the other 1/3 becomes your topping) of the crumb mixture in the pan and gently press to form a crust...


In a separate bowl mix the sugar, flour and cinnamon. Add the peeled and sliced apples and mix until well coated.


Spread the apples over the top of the pressed crust. Sprinkle with the rest of the crumb mixture...


Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Talk about filling your house with a comforting aroma! Remove from oven and mix your glaze while it cools. I just used a spoon and drizzled the glaze over the top. So good it's sinful...


Even better with a good cup of my favorite comfort tea. Even though not much got done today, I feel like it was productive enough for a March Sunday. It's back to work tomorrow. It's not that I don't like my job and I work with a great group of people, but boy if I wouldn't love to get paid to stay home and  bake and blog and pet my spoiled little dogs all day!

Wishing you a wonderful week ahead,


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Spring Tea

For some time now, I've been writing a book about tea. I used to throw 3 to 4 tea events a year and had quite a group that attended. I think the first tea I did I had 15 people and the last event had 50 guests! It was something that I enjoyed very much and I wanted to put together a book to show others how they could very easily have their own party.

I had so many theme ideas and notes that I finally decided I had to split it into a few books. The first book/installment is a seletion of seasonal themes. I've done each of the seasonal teas in the past and have pictures, but I decided that I wanted to do each tea in a smaller setting and take fresh photos of each theme. I can't wait to get it together and share it with all of you.

My friends Barb and Teresa were good to come out and have tea with me so that I could take some photos and try out recipes. I broke the cardinal rule of entertaining and tried two new recipes on the day of the tea. I ended up over baking my pecan bars and the cucumber soup was a flop. Not awful I guess, but nothing to write home about or even serve again. Lesson learned.

I spent the week before going through my collected linens and dishes and came up with this mix...



The white basket weave plate and the pretty blue plate are my everyday dishes, the leaf dish is part of a cabbage tureen set that I bought at a tag sale years ago and the pink rimmed dish is one of my grandmothers. I used the white plate as a charger...



...added my blue plate for sandwiches......



...the white leaf dish for salad....


...and my grandma's pink rimmed cup and saucer with a little bowl for soup.

I had dressed the table with an old tablecloth of my grandma's and a lace edge table runner that I picked up somewhere...


The buttery yellow of the cloth was bright and pretty and the runner added a nice feminine touch.

A few other pieces from my collection of 'things', some yellow pansies tucked in white egg cups (picked up at Goodwill for a song) and some pretty white primroses with yellow centers and I had a table that looked like this...


The menu was simple:

Cucumber Soup
Strawberry Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing
BLT Bites
Fancy Egg Salad
Roast beef on Rye
A good pot of Yorkshire Gold Tea

The dessert on the other hand....


...was out of this world. An amazing Raspberry Cream Trifle. More than made up for the lackluster cucumber soup. Look how pretty it is in the vintage pink depression glass that my Mother-in-law gave me. I could have eaten this all day.

It was such a wonderful way to spend a rainy Sunday; good food, awesome friends and good conversation. Looking forward to more 'research' and the next party!

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