Monday, May 30, 2011

Kamiak Butte and Pullman Nostalgia

With this three day weekend, I had it in my mind to go looking for wildflowers. One reference I use states that the last weekend in May provides ample opportunity for such an exploration.  I had my doubts since Spring started several weeks later than normal. My first plan was to visit Steptoe Butte, but as we started driving south, we decided to hit it on the way back. We kept driving with the intention of going to
Kamiak Butte, but then we were so close to Pullman, we made another spontaneous decision to show the kids daddy's Alma mater.

But to make this story complete, I need to back up to another hidden motive of mine.  I wanted to show the kids how beautiful the rolling hills of the Palouse are, especially in Spring. They were not immediately impressed. "This is boring. How long are we going to drive?" My favorite commentary came from Baby Dragon who remarked, "this trip is taking my whole life." So maybe they weren't as close to the age of scenery-induced introspection as I had hoped. Mom and Dad tried to talk it up. Nothing helped until we got out of the car on campus at the grizzly bear research station.

About the only way I'd like to be close to a bear.

Um, bears smell! Really bad. We watched a female bear play with a ball in her metal tub, and 4 cubs play with tire swing. I think there were close to 8 adult grizzlies in various containment.
Bubba holding his 2 dollar bill.
After striking out trying to get ice cream at Ferdinand's Creamery on campus (on a Sunday, duh) we headed to the grocery store remembering that they give $2 bills out when you need change and we thought the kids would enjoy that. It was a total coincidence that Bubba wore his Cougars hat that day, but it looks like we're posing big time for some contest...  Other stops included Carpenter hall where Grant spent his youth chasing an education in architecture under ideal client situations (as in, no real client or economic conditions) and our first apartment where I came to believe I had married architecture too. Ah, young marriage; ah, early twenties...

I digress.  So we finally headed north a few miles to Kamiak Butte.  We didn't get far because even though Droid informed us where to turn, I spotted a field of ewes and lambs that we had to circle back for. I got out of the car and spoke sheep.  They answered. White lambs, twin lambs, spotted lambs and even a lamb like Biddy that we had just read about in Mountain Born.
My baa-ing was unconvincing- they wouldn't come to the fence.
The scenery was starting to impress the kids.
OK, finally we pulled into the park managed by Whitman County. The summit trail was just a mile round trip and was smooth and wide, great for a stroller. It was a bit steep and I think we both wished we had brought the Ergo, but we can't complain when we don't want to prepare (internal lecture I gave myself). My wildflower obsession came into full swing and I wasn't disappointed.  I took pictures of many new plants to identify.

This herb made the whole summit smell wonderful.
It's a beautiful walk that starts in Ponderosa/ Doug Fir mix forest and ends in an open summit overlooking the southern Palouse hills and the towns of Pullman and Moscow.

"Where's Boo? Here's Boo!"

It's looks sweet, but he's actually trying out the Swiss Army knife...

Is that introspection?

Almost 13 (lucky) years together!
After hiking back down, we checked out the playground.  It's a pretty awesome siting for some playground equipment and had some fun and risky elements sometimes missing from modern parks. I want to bring some friends back with me to enjoy it again.
Drive by barn sitings...
It was a beautiful day for a short road trip and a nature hike.  The kids got a glimpse of rural life in the spring and a feel for the land, literally, as we zoomed up and down over gravel roads tracing the hills and valleys while Droid pronounced Palouse like "palace". Another trip idea emerged from this one; around the town of Colfax- on Fugate and South Palouse roads are some amazing barns and we never get tired of finding them and admiring them.  Maybe next time we'll just go barn hopping... without the kids.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Native Plant Appreciation Week

On the last day of April, the month that came in like a lion and left like a lion, we stopped at the park after doing some errands. We had to check on the wildflowers.
Wait for me!
Unbeknownst to me at that time, May 1-7th is Native Plant Appreciation Week.  Well I happened to be appreciating them and here are some of our photos.
Glacier Lily

Grass Widow

What is this going to be?
This was also new to our eyes.

What kind of moss?

What are these tiny flowers?
Shrub/ tree by the pond

Shrub/ tree by pond

One of the many puddle ponds around the park that create mini habitats for exploring.

"It was deeper than I thought!"
Hey, there are real fish in this pond.

We left as the dark clouds blew in and before wet socks could make us complain.  Back at home, when the weather turned for the worse, wind rushed up, the rain came down, and we had to put the birds away in the play shed.
Follow me.
Cecil and Hershey let me catch them.

Inside we cozied up with a fire and popcorn. The best part was curling up with my honey on the couch, flipping through a favorite Andy Goldsworth book for inspiration. Stay tuned for our garden project.
Fireside evening.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


A few days before Easter I took the kids for a walk around the park near us. The wildflowers are starting to emerge into the pale light of the Spring sun. Everywhere there are buttercups, grass widows, and lilies.  Noisy northern flickers, red-breasted nuthatches, red-winged blackbirds, California quail, mallards, crows, robins, and I think my favorite song bird- the mountain chickadee, are out defending territories, finding mates, building nests and announcing Spring.
Wild and delicate glacier lilies

Fuzzy catkins

Red-winged Blackbird
This fellow was such a tease. He flew between us and the sun. As the light shone through his wings, it was like looking at stained glass.  Every time I would try to get a picture after he landed, he would weave his way into the branches of a thicket and it was nearly impossible for my "point and shoot" camera to find him.

Easter Smiles
Getting three young children to look at the camera simultaneously is no small triumph these days, so I am content with this photo in their Easter clothes. I would really like to put all the other pictures we took into a flip book so you can watch how one child, then two get distracted.  How the oldest tries to smoosh cheeks of younger ones to face the camera, how somebody gets something in their eye, and how another little person is asked where's mama and points to the sky instead. And this picture is for Nana and Papa- we took it while you weren't home because we thought that's where you'd want to take it if you were.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A little pie crust experiment...

Peach-strawberry pie, strawberry galette, and blackberry peach pie

My mom has always made good pies. She used a proven crust recipe and it made making pies enjoyable. When I was in college, I picked some blackberries at a park and made my boyfriend a pie. (I know now that blackberries are almost a weed in Seattle, so I hope they weren't sprayed, oh well, live and learn. Sorry Hon!) I tried the crust recipe I grew up with, and viola, my boyfriend became my fiance! If only our love story was that simple; however, he does remember the pie so it must have had some effect.

Then later in my twenties, I discovered that shortening wasn't even real food and I got really grossed out and despaired.  I mean, how was I gonna woo my man if I couldn't use the recipe?  A bit later, I discovered non hydrogenated palm oil.  It works just like shortening, but is a real food. I am still a bit unexcited about it though. Then a bit later again, I discovered cooking with coconut oil. So I started mixing ratios of real butter with unrefined or lightly refined coconut oil into the pie crust recipe and it was working.  Even my mom who hates coconut hasn't noticed the coconut taste in my pies.

At the same time I was experimenting with the lipids in the recipe, I was experimenting with the flours.  Whole wheat pastry flour works well in the crust in a ratio of about 3 parts to 1 part unbleached flour.  For my latest experiment, I was making a crust for chicken pot pie and knew I was going in a savory direction so I mixed in some cornmeal and used cornmeal to roll out the dough too. Super yummy I think. 

How can I care about pie crust this much?  Um, how can you not??
Chicken pot pie to go...

Experimental crust crackers (thyme, rosemary, garlic salt and S& P)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Rinse and Repeat: Spring Flurries

"I'll never be able to transplant my seedlings"

"Today looks like a great day to transplant!"

"There goes all signs of Spring!"
"Oh what a glorious Spring day!"
It was probably days like this that prompted the observation, "Don't like the weather?! Just wait five minutes!!"

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The New Flock

This weekend we went to the store to buy pine shavings for the chicken coop.  I had just hosed it all out and removed the build up that happened over winter. We got to the store just after closing.  So we tried again the next day and went to Aslin Finch.  We completely forgot our mission when we saw baby chicks.  I had my eyes on some Golden Sebright bantams online at my and I recognized one in the assortment.  I also recognized another Easter Egger.  We left without either (and mind you, any pine shavings) to go explore Big R.  The next store had quite a selection of chicks in many different breeds including another Golden Sebright.  So we nabbed it with the intent of purchasing the other two at Aslin Finch.  But... we also came away with three ducklings!  How's that for a simple trip just for pine shavings?  Two stores, six birds and finally the shavings!

Can you see how delightfully fuzzy their down is?
Everybody gets along, phew!

The ducks weren't the kind I had in mind, but that was a familiar story- such as how we ended up with the first three chickens last year.  I wanted Khaki Campbells, but we came away with 2 Swedish Blues and 1 black Cayuga. They have won us over already. The chicks remain unnamed, but the ducklings are Cheese and Quackers, Cecil, and Hershey.  Here's what Baby Dragon has to say about his duck Quackers, "I like ducks because they cuddle you, nibble you, and follow you around.  They're fluffy, cute, adorable, and fuzzy."  Yes, he said all that!  And it's all true.

Cecil receiving the near death grip.
The nice way to hold a duckling!
You know that saying, "like a duck to water?"  Well that's because they really do love it. We are astonished at how much they drink and play in it.  They can't swim because they don't have their feather oil yet. They have huge webbed feet that have a hard time on slippery hardwood floors.  Their bills are so much bigger than the chick beaks.  And their duck bum fuzz is so darn cuuuuuute!

Duck Bum