Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Camping Will Put Hair On Your Chest!

I have to say, I really like camping and always have.  Not to say I've ever been particularly good at it on my own, but I am slowly learning the ways of being an awesome camper.  Luckily we have good friends to show us the ropes.  
One of the fundamentals to good camping is location.  This past weekend we camped at Nottingham Campground which stretches along East Fork of the Hood River.  The first night all the men created this little blocked off area with large rocks so the kiddies could play in the water without getting carried down the river.

Our awesome tent, which didn't even leak when a thunderstorm hit at 2am the last night we were there. 

Another fundamental of good camping is good company.  Here are the men of the group.  'Cept baby Savannah. 

To celebrate Alicia's birthday, the kids got sparklers.  Seems like a good idea to play with fireworks when you're out camping in a forest.  :)  Jacob didn't really know what to do.  

Cute kids on a rock. 

It's also important to have fun activities planned.  On Saturday we took a drive to the Fruit Loop.  This included a stop at Cascade Alpacas farm and Foothills Yarn and Fiber.  

These baby alpacas were so cute.   

The view itself makes me want to live on a farm. 

Awww, so sweet.  A nursing baby. 

This little newbie alpaca was so fluffy and soft, like a brand new baby chick would be. 

Only 2 weeks old with mama. 

The kids petting the Great Pyrenees guard dog. 

I was surprised to learn that alpaca fiber exceeds sheeps wool in several ways.  It's finer, softer, lighter, warmer, and stronger, plus it's not as itchy and its hypoallergenic.  Here is some yarn made from alpaca fiber. 

A bag of raw alpaca fleece just shorn. 

Washed and carded fleece.  Although, some spinners don't even wash the fleece until after it's spun into yarn.  Apparently it's not necessary since alpacas don't produce bodily oils the same way sheep do.  Yah, I bet you didn't know I was gonna go all educational on you. 

Alpaca fleece sockies. 

Jacob is usually pretty wary of animals of every kind.  It took him a really long time to finally get the nerve to go pet this farm cat with Vessel. 

Another sweet view. 

Look at them chompers!

Feeding the black alpaca. 

Here is Mount Hood.  I tried to get a good shot several times and then it turns out this is the only photo I got and it sucks.  Whaddayagonnado?  On a side note, Mount St. Helens is behind us in this photo and I didn't get a picture of that either, so just use your imaginations, mmmmkay?  If  Mount St. Helens and Mount Hood were in a face off, which one would win? 

We ate lunch at Apple Valley BBQ.  Mmmmmm, pulled pork sandwiches and apple slaw. 

Twangy country singer who did an awful job singing Happy Birthday to Alicia.  Boooooo....

Gal pals

The kids saw some Italian Greyhounds.  I only find this interesting since my brother and sister-in-law have Italian Greyhounds. 

At Packer Orchards we got ice cream and shakes. 

And saw some fruit... 

Did you know that Haven LOVES camping? 

Well, he does!

He likes to Dutch oven cook, too.  

Here's the group enjoying some water fun.  Mike, Mark, and I took a jaunt across the river and found a sweet trail that led up to an eroded cliff side that overlooked the fork.  Then we pretended to be Bear Grylls as we climbed down the mountain and then walked upstream in the freezing cold water.  It was actually pretty fun.  Don't worry, the kiddies were supervised by a napping Ben Blake. 

The nice thing about this campsite was a lot of sandy areas for the kids to play in and keep themselves occupied. 


So there you have it, Camping 101.  In order to make it a memorable time all you need is the right location, fun people, fun activities, stuff to keep the kids entertained, and last, but not least, let's not forget the good food. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Black and Blue

 While Mike's parents were in town they asked us to take them to a fruit farm.  Have I mentioned how much I love Oregon yet?  :) We took them to Rowell Bros. Berry Farm since they are awesome and cheap.  Only $.50/lb. people!  Seems insane, right?  Well, considering how much a pound of berries would cost at the grocery store.  Last month the kids and I picked raspberries and this month we hit up the blueberry and blackberry patches.  


After a tough morning of picking blueberries...

So, I'll be honest and say I've never been much of a blueberry fan.  But apparently there is quite a big difference in taste and quality when they come from a local farm grown without pesticides and then picked ripe yourself.  Go figure.  I couldn't stop eating the things.  As I was picking I just kept thinking of the wonderful treats I was going to make, such as blueberry pancakes and muffins, blueberry scones, blueberry crisp...  you get the idea.  But to be honest, the only thing we ended up making were pancakes one night and the rest of the blueberries we ate by the handfuls from the bowl I left in the fridge.  That's how good they were. 

Fresh whipped cream is so good on pancakes.  Don't buy Cool Whip, the real stuff is much better, trust me on this one.  

Breakfast for dinner is a favorite in our house.  I don't think I will ever master the art of taking appetizing food photographs, so these will have to do.  I set up this plate and then couldn't find my camera.  By the time I grabbed my phone to take the shot, the cream and butter were already turning into soup from the heat of the pancakes.  Oh yes, and don't forget the REAL maple syrup.  Not the corn syrup stuff.  

Now onto blackberries.  While my boys and I were gathering blueberries, my in-laws were off picking buckets of blackberries.  They came back to the car with more than I anticipated!  
Here is one beautiful bowl of berries, freshly washed. 

And if you're getting a bunch of berries and fear they will mold before being able to use them, look no further than this tip from foodlushblog.  It actually works!  So after washing them and rinsing them in a colander, there are plenty of delicious things you can do with them.   

For instance, homemade blackberry milkshakes.  Wow. 

My in-laws picked enough blackberries for me to make shakes, jam, and this dutch oven cobbler when we went camping with friends this past weekend.
photo courtesy of

I am extremely excited to live where we do.  There are wonderful organic farms all around and not only is local, organic food delicious and healthy, going to pick it yourself is a fun activity that I am so happy to share with my family!