Monday, August 31, 2009

Monday Mosaic - Forest Path

Welcome to Mosaic Monday hosted by Mary at the Little Red House. Oops, I see Mary isn't hosting Mosaic Monday this week. We'll just have to catch her next week.

This mosaic was inspired by a walk in the forest near Fern Canyon. How peaceful and beautiful it was. I hope you enjoy it too.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Covered Bridges

One sight that surprised me in Oregon was the covered bridges. I had no idea there were so many of them there, but I guess it makes sense; the roof protects the bridge structure from the rain making the bridge last much longer.
Every time we saw one, I'd ask the Lord of the Manor to pull over and I'd set up my easel and paint it. It took a while, and he got bored just waiting, so by the sixth bridge he was starting to roll his eyes, but boy I got some dandy paintings....
This one was in the town of Cottage Grove.
I think this one was just outside Cottage Grove. I think Cottage Grove boasts the most covered bridges in Oregon.
I liked the red side on this one.

This was an abandoned railroad bridge.

And I caught this seagull too at a rest stop.

Oh who am I trying to kid? I didn't really paint those pictures. I simply took the photos and "Photoshopped" them. But I like to think that's the kind of painting I'd do if I could. {sigh}

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

All Creatures Great and Small

I just have a couple more things to share about our recent trip to Oregon. One thing that amazed me was the variety of wildlife we saw everywhere. (And that's not even counting the safari.)

We saw numerous birds, lots of deer, tide pools full of fantastic creatures, and a fish farm full of young trout. We also saw this California Gray Whale lolling just off the coast. Did you know it's really hard to get a photo of a whale spouting?

Some of the most spectacular animals we saw were these Roosevelt Elk. They were near the south end of the Redwood State Park in the meadow area along Highway 101. They seemed quite comfortable with all the traffic and all the attention. Folks were stopping their cars right on the highway to get out and take photos.

At the other end of the spectrum size-wise were these slugs. We found this magnificent black one sliding through our campsite one damp morning.

And these yellow ones were at one of the fish hatcheries that we visited.

Whales, Elk, Slugs....

and the Lord God made them all.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Pokemon Stadium Cake

Teen2 had a birthday party Saturday night for her peeps. I've always made the kids birthday cakes, so I asked her what kind of cake she wanted. She wanted a Pokemon cake. Dread and despair crossed my mind thinking I would have to make a round (Pokeball) cake, but she suggested the stadium scene, so {whew!} I stopped fretting.

First I covered a board with aluminum foil, set a 9x13 cake on it and cut the corners off. Then I mixed up some red, green and grey icing and made the Pokeball in the middle.
Then I did the green field around it.

Then I had a little trouble with the brown frosting. I bought ready made chocolate, but it had tiny chocolate chips in it, so it was difficult to spread. Darn those little lumps! But I eventually got all the little finishing touches on it...

and Teen2 placed her well loved (and well washed) figures around the arena.

And that's how you make a Pokemon Stadium cake....if you have a little kid who likes that sort of thing....or if you have a big kid who still likes that sort of thing.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Have you ever dreamed of going on a safari? The lure of Africa has always called to me: the abundant wildlife, the sweeping landscapes, the exotic culture and the ancient history. I'd love to experience it all. And the accommodations! Luxurious tents, tea at 4:00, cocktails at sundown, dinner by lamp light.
I thought I could never afford it, but while we were in Oregon, we found an affordable substitute. Near Roseburg, Oregon there's a place called Wildlife Safari where you can drive amongst the wild animals. With Teen2 sticking her head out the sunroof, I felt just like I was in a Land Rover in Africa. It was even hot and dusty, just like the real deal.

The very first animal we saw was this giraffe. He calmly nibbled leaves whilst the tourists idled by gawking and snapping photos.

We also saw a large group of zebras heading for the shade of some trees.

The Hippopotamus kept cool by staying in the water.

We also saw this Sarus Crane.

There was a large herd of Sika Deer. They are actually from Asia.

The Nilgai Antelope is also from Asia and lives on grassy steppes, but there are more Nilgai in Texas than in India! Introduced there in the 1920s they are now a popular quest for game hunters.

I felt sorry for these Tibetan Yaks in the long dark coats. They looked really hot.

These are White Fallow Deer originally from Central Asia. They too have been introduced all over the world. There are ancient herds in Europe and modern day ones in America.

We also saw Ostrich and Flamingos. I love the color of their tail feathers.

The Wildlife Safari was quite nice, but I think I still might like to visit Africa. After all, I didn't get tea at 4:00, a sun downer cocktail, or dinner by lamplight!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Yum, Yum, Yuck!

We pretty much eat our way along our route when on vacation, and our trip to Oregon was no different. We started at the Olive Pit before we even got out of California. They had all these oils out for tasting and we liked Ascolano the best so we bought a bottle of it.

When we arrived at our friends' house in Medford, we were treated to farm fresh free range eggs. There really is a difference between these and store bought eggs. They were soooo yummy!

After one long day of driving the Lord of the Manor had an Irish Coffee at a cafe called the Crabby Cafe. I tasted the Irish Coffee and it was darn good. Yum.

Here is one of our roadside lunches. Dagwood sandwiches on the verge. Yummy.

And now here is the Yuck.

In Ashland there is a little plaza that's been there since 1927. Its claim to fame is the Lithia Water that flows 24/7 from these old porcelain fountains. Reputed to be good for what ails you, but stinky, and laced with minerals. Yuck! It reminded me of the water in Bath; far too mineraly for my taste. But I took a large swig of it just in case it really does have curative powers.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

First Day of School

Used to be this time of year we were thinking of red plaid skirts, knee socks, Mary Janes, and character lunch boxes, but now it's Pwn3d T-shirts, stud belts, Converse high tops with lime green laces, and {shock!} make up. Where has my little girl gone?

Here's Teen2 this morning just before she rushed off for the first day of school. We've done this thing with the chalkboard every year since they first started school. It's just one of my goofy little traditions. I always wrote their (real) names, grade, school and the date. It's fun to look back on the photos and see how they've grown and changed over the years. I guess we will keep doing it even as they go to college. I just hope that poor old chalkboard lasts a few more years.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Mummy

Today marks the end of an era for our local museum. And it's a sad day for the legions of local school children who have visited and loved the Mummy for over 60 years. You see, today the mummy goes home.How well I remember visiting the mummy myself. As children, my sisters and I often swam at the nearby pool, and afterwards would prowl the cool galleries of the museum. It was free and even then (I couldn't have been more than 8) I was drawn to the artwork, furniture, dishes, clothing, and yes, the Mummy.

It seems the Fine Arts Museum has decided they want Iret-net-Hor-irw back, so today at 10:30am the crew will arrive and load him up and take him first to a hospital for a full scan, and ultimately back to San Franciso where he will appear in a new display at the Legion of Honor (opening Halloween 2009) called Very Postmortem: Mummies and Medicine.

I procrastinated all summer and missed my chance to see him, so yesterday I pulled some strings and got us a private visit. It reminded me of the scene in the first Harry Potter movie where Dudley Dursley is watching the python and suddenly the glass is gone! Because they had already removed the glass and we did indeed get an up close and personal look (plus an informative explanation from the Museum Director) at the Mummy.

I think Teen2 was suitably impressed.

Beads in the Mist

You all know that the Pacific Northwest gets a lot of rain. That's why it's so green and pretty, and the Redwoods and Pines grow so big, and the forest floor is covered with ferns. So it should come as no surprise that we did see a little precipitation when we were there. Not real rain (it was summer after all) but misty, dewy mornings and something that dripped on our tent one night.

As we were packing up on our last morning Teen1 spotted this strand of pearls on the ferns near our tent. Okay, maybe it wasn't really pearls, it was actually dew drops on a spider web, but they were beautiful nonetheless. I just had to share this with you; the beauty of nature continually amazes me. I hope you enjoy it too. Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Julia and Julie

We went to the movies Friday night and saw Julia and Julie. It was positively delightful! I've always liked Julia Child. I remember watching her cooking shows on PBS back in the 1970s and 80s. They were always educational and entertaining. And who can forget the famous SNL parody with Dan Ackroyd cutting his finger and spurting blood everywhere. That scene was in the movie and I laughed 'til I cried all over again.

Here's the plot: A young modern woman decides to cook every recipe (524) in Julia Child's book Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 365 days and blog about it. It's a wonderful trip as she increases her skills and confidence, gains an audience, and finally triumphs with boning a duck and becoming famous. Anyway, I highly recommend the movie. As we walked out of the theatre after the movie, all we could talk about was food. I was ready to buy a duck, or maybe make Boeuf Bourgoignon, or at least an omelet. We settled for Chinese takeout, but the seed had been planted; I needed to cook something delicious.

So the next day I bought these ingredients and made this:

It's not French, but it was great fun anyway, and we did enjoy the flavors. But I should have gotten more mushrooms. I just love mushrooms, don't you?

The recipe calls for bucatini pasta. I found it at my favorite Italian specialty store.

Here is the finished dish. Rich, creamy, and punctuated by the salty prosciutto - delicious!

The Lord of the Manor made these beets as a side dish. They were excellent too.

So here's our dinner Amongst The Oaks.
Inspired by Julia and Julie.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Oregon Lighthouses

The Oregon coast is not only rugged and beautiful, but it has several wonderful old lighthouses. Most of them were built in the late 1800s as shipping increased along the coast due to logging and gold mining. They were originally staffed by a crew of lighthouse keepers (and their families) who worked and lived in isolated, harsh conditions. The lamps burned mineral oil for fuel and needed to be trimmed and wound and cleaned and polished frequently. The fuel had to be hauled up winding staircases every few hours all night long. It was demanding work, but many keepers stayed for years, so it must have been rewarding. Gradually the lights became more sophisticated and in the 1930s, most were converted to electric light bulbs. In the 1960s they were fully automated making lighthouse keepers obsolete. Some lighthouses were even abandoned and fell into ruin.

But now, thank goodness, several of them have been restored and are open for tours. At the Umpqua River Lighthouse (above) you can take a tour up to the very top for only $3.00. It is the only Oregon coast lighthouse with a red flash in its sequence, so it has beautiful cranberry colored sections in its Fresnel lens. These Fresnel lenses were manufactured in Paris over 100 years ago and the guide claims that there is no way to get replacement parts anymore, so each lens is priceless.

The lens sections are actually prisms that focus the light into a beam that can be seen for miles. The entire lens assemble rotates around the bulb creating its distinctive sequence. These sequences are marked on nautical charts so mariners can distinguish each light along the coast. If you click on the link you can see the Umpqua Lighthouse just to right of center, near the tail of the North arrow. It says the light is alternating, two white, one red, every 15 seconds, 165' tall, visible 20 miles.

We didn't visit this one at Cape Arago because it's not open to the public, but we saw it from an overlook along Highway 101.

This is the Coquille River Lighthouse near Bandon. It is open for tours too.

At Cape Blanco Lighthouse the tour guide showed us these beautifully polished containers that were used to measure and carry the fuel up to the lamp via the cast iron stairs. These lighthouse keepers must have been exceptionally fit climbing those stairs several times a day.

If you are ever in Oregon do try to visit a lighthouse. It's an affordable day out and a wonderful peek into nautical history.