Tuesday, November 30, 2010

happy thanksgiving!

this month, i posted to facebook something i was thankful for every day leading up to and on thanksgiving day.  as this month ends, i will continue to be thankful for all of the blessings God has bestowed upon me and my beautiful family.

we had a lovely holiday with our first smoked duck stuffed with apples (an unconventional thanksgiving meal that i hope will become tradition for us), turkey, stir fry, "potato stuffing", and homemade cranberry walnut bread.  the next day we celebrated with some friends we were lucky enough to spend the holiday with last year as well.  there were lots of people and way more food than we could handle - lots of laughs and so much love.

we are blessed and thankful...

Monday, November 29, 2010

new trick

i've discovered that Saraya will ride the elliptical machine while strapped to me in the bjorn.  and at around 5 minutes, she is out.  maybe next time i can get a picture...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

touch - hydrangea

Saturday, November 27, 2010

dear 6 month old,

you are the coolest baby i know.  you absolutely light up our lives. in the mornings, your sweet smile and soft meeps are an awesome way to begin the day.  you're a super healthy eater (and it shows miss sumo thighs).  you nap like a champ.  you enjoy your daily walks and express it in your speeches to the trees.  your daddy and i watch each new devlopment with awe and we love to celebrate your victories at such accomplishments as rolling over, sitting up, grabbing toys, standing (with something to lean on), and saying mama and dada (though we realize those are just sounds, not the actual words yet).  your hums, grunts and growls are beyond amusing.  your laughter is so contagious.  as your teeth make their debut, the drool fest is on!  your hair is getting a little fuller (your daddy swears it's the squash).  you smile at everyone and it brightens so many people's day.  your favorite toys at the moment are your colorful squishy blocks and the sing-a-ma-jigs.  at night, you love to hear goodnight moon before drifting off.  and you love it when i sing or hum "once upon a dream" from sleeping beauty.

i cannot imagine life without you now.  thank you for being such a joy!

love (with all my heart, forever and ever),

Friday, November 26, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

top 6 thanksgiving foods

my all time favorites!  i realize that a lot of these are available at other times of the year but there's just something about having them as part of this holiday that i really love...

1. eggnog - only available this time of year.  i can't really drink it straight but it is delicious cut with regular or soy milk, of course with spiced rum, or added to coffee in lieu of creamer

2. cranberry sauce - i think the whole berry is a bit overwhelming by itself and the berry-less is too plain so i like to take a little of both and mix them together; of course any fresh cranberry sauce beats out both cans any day

3. macaroni and cheese - my sister makes the best homemade macaroni and cheese.  real butter.  lots of melty, cheesy goodness. 

4. sweet potato pie - this will always beat out pumpkin pie in my books

5. turkey leg - i just love this part of the turkey the most.  maybe because there are only two available (most times), so it seems more special.  who knows?

6. red velvet cake - the southern version.  pound cake consistency.  real cream cheese frosting with pecans on top.  yum, yum

Monday, November 22, 2010

goodbye george

**WARNING** - this post has some pictures of dead/dying poultry (but not too bloody).  if you are a vegetarian (Janet) or otherwise easily disturbed, consider yourself warned.

have you ever been in a place like ace hardware or a feed store around Easter?  they always have adorable chicks and ducklings for sale.  sometimes they're even dyed pretty easter colors.  our friend drew happened to be at one of these places shortly after the holiday and was talked into adopting 4 such baby animals.  they were free and cute and he thought it would be nice to have fresh eggs, so why not?  well, at that stage, it was nearly impossible to tell that all 4 chicks were actually going to become roosters.  he named them all george.  george(s) were loud.  they liked to chase the chickens around and gang up on a hen and do unspeakable things to her.  they were basically annoying bullies. 

so one day, justin and drew decided it was time for george to say goodbye.  they made a little noose and laid george across a stump.

it was quick work with the hatchet.

did you know that expression "running around like a chicken with it's head cut off" is a true story?  see the head on the stump on the left.  then check out the body in the upper right hand corner.  it flew over there!  by itself!  HEADLESS!!  it totally freaked me out.  it freaked the dogs out too.  luckily there were no small children present to witness the slayings.  because if i were a kid and saw this, it might give me nightmares.  who am i kidding?  i'm no kid and it does give me nightmares.

we ate george for dinner that night.  they looked beautiful when they were all cooked up and the smell was mouth-watering.  but i couldn't get this image out of my head. 

that, combined with telling the kids that george flew away made it a teensy bit difficult to enjoy eating our meal.  but it was pretty nice not waking up to incessant cock-a-doodle-dooing the next morning...  ;)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

gift ideas

you only need to turn on the TV or walk through wal-mart or target to see that christmas is upon us.  i love shopping but sometimes the holiday shopping can be a bit overwhelming.  and justin is always good about reminding me that we don't have room for a lot of stuff.  so as i was doing a bit of cleaning and purging, i thought it would be kind of fun/funny if we took a couple of things from around the house and regifted them to each other - the wii game we haven't played in awhile, the book on the shelf we haven't read yet - that kind of thing.  a reminder that we don't need a lot of new and shiny things because we have plenty.  more than plenty.  not to say that saraya can't get a few new things, right? ;)

i ran the idea past justin and he actually asked me what blog i got that from.  i told him it was an original.  so i think we're going to do it!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

best baby foods

as saraya begins welcoming solids into her diet,  justin and i have been excitedly researching what to feed her.  so far she has had rice cereal, peas, green beans, avocado, pumpkin, squash, sweet potato, carrot and chickpeas.  her definite favorites are squash and avo.  i'm hesitant to add anything sweeter than she's already had until she's really well established with her veggies.  justin thinks we have a really good eater on our hands and that there's nothing to worry about.  i think he's just having way too much fun prepping her food.  i'm not complaining (though it would be nice if he were that excited about making our food too).

in our research, we've found many lists and recipes for baby foods...
top 5: apple, avocado, pumpkin, sweet potato, carrot
best 10: squash, lentils, dark green leafy veggies, broccoli, blueberries, avocados, meat, prunes, garbanzo beans, and mandarin oranges
top ten first foods: applesauce, banana, pear, squash, carrots and parsnip, brown rice, quinoa, plain whole milk yogurt, avocado, egg yolk

and so on, and so on.  now, some of these lists contradict each other and what some experts say you should and shouldn't feed babies new to solids.  so we're trying to keep it simple and watch her for any reactions.  so far so good.  we've even added some spices like cumin and cinnamon.  she really likes them.

probably her favorite so far has been avocado mixed with butternut squash with a dash of cinnamon.  we thought it was pretty tasty too!

what kinds of foods do you guys recommend?  a lot of you have been there, done that and it's nice to get personal recommendations.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

lan su chinese garden

here are some more pictures of that beautiful garden in portland.  it's located just between chinatown and old town.  here's the entrance to chinatown.

there were a ton of chrysanthemums on display as part of their autumn exhibit.
i really liked the cobblestone walkways with moss growing between the stones.
and the pagodas were so beautiful.
the grounds in general are just so serene.

one of the displays had fortune sticks.  you shake the can and tip it forward until one stick comes out further than the others.  justin got a nice little thought. 
i think the pandi was pretty impressed.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

tao of tea

lan su is portland's chinese garden.  inside there is a lovely little teahouse operated by tao of tea.  after walking through the gorgeous gardens (pictures of those coming tomorrow!) we enjoyed a great cultural experience at the teahouse.  it started with the menu...
we chose some jasmine teas with the traditional service.  we also ordered a delicious red bean cake.

i loved the jasmine pearl tea i ordered.  at first i caught this fun reflection.

and then everything came into focus...
there was even some beautiful traditional music being played with bamboo instruments.  it was such a relaxing and enjoyable afternoon!  stay tuned for pictures from the rest of the garden tomorrow!

Monday, November 15, 2010

sea lion caves

the sea lion caves in florence, oregon is home of the largest sea cave in the world!
stellar sea lions (like these that we posed with) like to frequent these caves.

they were actually all out playing in the ocean when we went down to the cave but it was still awesome to see the huge cavern.  the elevator goes 20 stories in less than a minute!

even though the sea lions weren't in the cave, Saraya made up for it by barking loud enough for everyone...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

new sunday theme - touch

i got inspired on our road trip by Saraya's fascination with her sense of touch so i decided to start documenting it.  every sunday i'll be sharing a new photo of the babe exploring with those chubby fingers...

this first one is one of her favorite things to touch - daddy's beard!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

things i love about portland

i'd never been to portland before this trip and we didn't spend nearly enough time there!  i know a lot of people complain about the rain (kind of like seattle) but we lucked out and only had a little rain one night.  anyhow, there were a lot of cool things about this city and i definitely plan on going back but in the interim, check out just a few of the things i loved.

1. it's weird

2. stumptown coffee - they grind and french press it right in front of you and it is seriously good coffee.  horace the hedgehog (one of Saraya's fingerpuppet friends, care of auntie Tara) was pretty infatuated. 

3. powell's books - the largest bookstore in the country!  i loved the small press section and the children's section was enormous!
4. chinatown

5. portland saturday market - so many fun little booths and food trucks!  we discovered a fun band called all the apparatus playing in the square.  tons of crazy instruments and great energy!

there's sooo much more we wanted to check out.  i'm really looking forward to going back.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

30. pick wild mushrooms

in case you missed my haiku...

i love mushrooms and so i was very excited to have the opportunity to hunt them in the wild.  we went on a couple of expeditions and we were lucky enough to find lion's mane, matsutakes, and chanterelles.  they all tasted amazing!  and lion's mane is not only good to eat but is also supposedly good for your brain?!  in China they used to be reserved solely for the emperors.  all i know for sure is that it is one of my new favorites.  matsutakes are very hard to find and so they are highly prized (Japanese pay a lot for them!)  they have a very distinct spicy smell, almost like cinnamon.  these too are delicious.  chanterelles are another mushroom that command a high price.  they are fantastic sauteed in butter and served over a nice steak.

Saraya absolutely loved looking around in the wet woods!  we found all kinds of fungi but you can't be too careful because there are a lot of deadly look-alikes so we only stuck to ones we could definitely identify.  it was fun looking up some of the unknown ones in Mushrooms Demystified.  David Arora is a pretty entertaining mushroom expert.

it was also fun taking pics of non-fungi while we traipsed through the forest.  this is our friends' son Ezekiel.  he was a helpful mushroom hunter.
these little truffle hunters were helpful too...

isn't this so pretty?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


"sharks are worse than terrorists!"

this is what justin grumbles to me after his morning surf is cut short by the appearance of a great white.  what's more disturbing is that this is his second close encounter with a great white in the past month.  he swears that they are out and attacking people more than ever, and for no good reason.  the more recent run-in was not as traumatic as the previous one.  Earlier, he had been surfing one of his favorite (top secret) Oregon locations with some friends when Stumpy (nickamed by the Coast Guard) literally breached in an attack on his friend dave.  justin was only about 20 feet away.  and he swam for his life.  and then called me to tell me all about it.  and though i was of course ecstatic that he (and dave) were unhurt, i still had the heebie jeebies.

this time, i was watching him go out at a completely different location.  i got some great shots of him paddling out.

followed all too soon by him paddling in.

i think the worst part was that he didn't get to catch a wave before the shark decided to show up.  and he says sharks just always give him such a yucky feeling.  yes, i said always.  as in, this isn't the first time and it won't be the last.  *sigh*

Monday, November 8, 2010

etsy treasury

etsy is one of those sites that looks like it's getting better and better every day.  i love all of the special categories and cool ways to do searches for things.  one feature i really like is the treasury.  you can go to the "ways to shop" links and click on treasury to see tons of member-curated shopping galleries.  you can even create your own treasuries to share with everyone or no one and they may be featured on etsy's home page.  it's really fun putting together collections and getting comments from sellers and other shoppers.  if you're interested in seeing some i've created, just type in whimspirationphoto in the treasury search.  and if you create any you'd like to share, leave a comment here and i'll check it out!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

say cheese!

we made a stop at the tillamook creamery to sample delicious cheeses and ice creams.  the farm-owned association has been making cheese commercially for over 100 years.  it was fun learning about the history and process of cheesemaking.  i even tucked away some trivia - it takes  10 lbs of milk to make 1 lb of cheese!

my favorite were the fresh cheddar cheese curds.  they called them squeaky cheese because they make a kind of squeaky noise in your mouth when you eat them.  a very close second was the garlic white cheddar.
and since Saraya couldn't eat any cheese or ice cream, she decided to explore while we enjoyed our marionberry pie and blackberry flavored waffle cones.

Friday, November 5, 2010