Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tiny works of art

It was really foggy early this week. It's also been pretty cold in the mornings lately, so the frost was quite thick. Since they were coated in little ice crystals, all the spiders' webs outside really stood out. The two below are actually two halves of the same web that some spider decided to spin on either side of a post in our porch railing. They were obviously corresponding pieces of the same web, but there was a big, thick pole in the middle. It made me think--isn't it amazing that tiny little creatures like a spider the size of my fingernail can create something so beautiful? If any human made something like that, we would think he or she was a very creative artist, but these little spiders are just doing what they were made to do! The real Artist in this case is the one who made the spider.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Cinnabon Recipe!

I've never blogged about food before, but last Saturday I tried a new recipe that I think is definitely blog-worthy! To begin with, a little background. My family loves Cinnabon cinnamon rolls. There used to be a Cinnabon at the Vancouver mall, but it closed and now the closest one is at Lloyd Center. Needless to say, we haven't gotten any in a long time! However, the other day a friend told me about this cookbook called Top Secret Recipes, and that there was a recipe for Cinnabons (thanks, Kathy!). Well, I found it online here. It seemed worth a try. I tried to do it just like the recipe said to and the results were amazing! It truly tastes like a Cinnabon cinnamon roll. Some parts of the recipe are a little unusual. For one thing, several ingredients are measured by weight. It also requires kneading the dough and beating the frosting for a really long time, but it's totally worth it. I'm not sure if my family will ever buy Cinnabon again... 

Saturday, November 12, 2011


"So you're finally blogging again! Where have you been??" Well, I've been working on school again. I'm continuing to do (almost) full time studies with Whitefield. I'm getting pretty close to having an AA in Christian Studies--just a few more months to go! I say almost full-time, because I have been busy with other things, as well. A couple weeks ago Christina and I went on what will probably be our last trip for a while, this time to see some very dear friends who live in Oklahoma. We met them over ten years ago, when dad was in the Air Force, and we went to the same church in Germany. It was a very quick trip, but it was wonderful to spend time with them, go to church with them, and just do some catching up (not to mention they served some really delicious meals!--they're talented cooks). 
However, none of that is an excuse for not taking pictures and blogging. I can only say that I got in a rut again. I finally got out of that rut and took some pictures yesterday. The fall colors are so nice right now! It was a misty, wet morning and I found some different things in the yard that caught my attention. 

Texture on the grape leaves

Colorful blueberry leaves

Delicate maple leaves

These hydrangea flowers used to be blue, but through the fall they have transitioned to a  purple-ish/red-ish color

I was taking pictures of this Japanese maple in the front yard when...

...a hummingbird came up to the feeder on the porch! Isn't it cute? 

Sunday, October 9, 2011


A couple weeks ago, we celebrated Christina's graduation from Whitefield by going on a trip to Alaska. And, while this trip was not for me, or planned by me, I got to tag along, too... 
So, what did we do in Alaska? We started out with something crazy--we went to the town of Nome for about four hours. Nome is a coastal town near the arctic circle in northwest Alaska. If you've heard of it, it's probably been in connection to the Iditarod sled-dog race that finishes here. Unless you're a musher, the only way to get to Nome is by plane (or boat, I guess). It's an interesting, kind-of rough little town.

This is the Bering Sea, right behind the main street of Nome!  

Nome City Hall, and the End of the Iditarod Sled-Dog Race.

Nome's Airport is tiny. One room served for ticket counter, baggage claim, and boarding area. And note the sign on the counter. ALL ulu knives must be checked. Gotta remember stuff like that, since this door serves as the entrance to the TSA screening area.  

We spent most of our time in Anchorage. We used to live in Anchorage many years ago, so it was neat going back to places that we had been to a long time ago. I was about six when we left Alaska, so even here, many things felt new. 

We took a short hike in Arctic Valley, just outside Anchorage. It serves as a ski slope during the winter. The fall colors on the mountains were just lovely!

Looking over the ridge into the Eagle River Valley. Do you see the rainbow under the clouds?

Later in the trip, we headed up to the Fairbanks area. From Fairbanks it's just a couple hours to Denali National Park. The Park is partly closed down for the season, but we were able to drive a short ways inside. It was a little disappointing--we didn't see any wild life or Mt. McKinley (too cloudy), but I guess that's not uncommon! Someone told us that only fifteen percent of visitors see the mountain.

We may not have seen McKinley, but the vastness of Denali is still breath-taking!

We intended to head home on Thursday. We were flying standby, and it turned out to be a very bad time to leave Alaska on standby. Most of the flights were full or nearly full, while the standby list at times had 60-80 names on it. We tried to get on flights Wednesday and Thursday, but couldn't. By Friday we were pretty tired of hanging out at the airport, and things still didn't look good, so we took a break from trying to get home and just drove around the area some more. Back at the airport, things finally started to improve on Saturday, so by the wee hours of Sunday morning, we had all made it onto a flight. It was so good to be home!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Goat Rocks

We went on our last camping trip of the season this past weekend. The goal of this one was specifically to hike in Goat Rocks Wilderness, which is about 3 1/2 hours away from us. I first read about hiking Goat Rocks in the paper. I cut out the article and made it kind of a goal to get there, but it took a few years to actually do it.

We headed up to the Goat Rocks area Thursday evening and spent the night at a campground by Walupt Lake, which is not very far from the trailhead we were going to use. It was a great campground and would have been a nice place to spend a few days, especially if we had a boat or kayak.

While it would have been nice to spend more time at Walupt Lake, the main purpose for staying there was to use it as a base camp for our hike to Goat Lake the next day.  

Here's a map of the 12-mile trail.

I had read really great things about this trail, so I was very excited to hike it. I was definitely not disappointed! The scenery on this hike was some of the most beautiful I've ever encountered.

The hike really got exciting once we reached the tree line and started hiking through the alpine meadows at the top of the Goat Creek Basin. The wild flowers were still in bloom, but there were a lot of snow patches that hadn't melted yet.

The narrow trail, surround by wildflowers. 

Christina heads down the trail through one of the meadows.

A shallow snow-melt pond by the trail. 

One of numerous little tributary mountain streams we had to cross.

Goat Lake is in the little bowl in the middle of these cliffs. The waterfall is where it flows out to become Goat Creek. 

Another tiny mountain stream.

Looking down the valley toward Mt. Adams.

Finally we got to Goat Lake! It was still mostly frozen over this year, as I had heard it would be. Still, it's amazing to think that on the first weekend of September, last year's snow and ice had not totally thawed.  

Dad checks out the edge of the lake.

I don't know my wildflowers very well, so I'm not sure what these are, but they were very soft to the touch.

That's a marmot or something (?) on that rock, admiring the view of Mt. St. Helens.

To get back to the trailhead, we crossed Goat Ridge into Jordan Creek Basin. Here's the view down that valley toward Mt. St. Helens.

Okay, so Goat Rocks, Goat Lake, Goat Creek, Goat Ridge... there's a theme, right? You are supposed to see mountain goats in this area, but we were over halfway through the hike and we hadn't seen any. Finally, we spotted one goat high up on an opposite ridge.

It's a goat!!! (It's to the right of the two snow patches.) 

The hike made for a long and very tiring day, but it was completely worth it! I'm so thankful for God's kindness in allowing us to visit this gorgeous, wild area, and for his protection on the trail and the road.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

From the Mountains to the Beach

It's high time for another blog post! Before I get started, though, a little side note... Some of you have mentioned not knowing when I had a new post up. Now, I know this is really my fault, because when I don't post very often, frequent visits to the blog aren't worth it. However, did you know that there's a handy little service that will send my blog posts to you by email? Just enter your email address into the "Follow by Email" box on the right, and you'll be signed up for updates whenever I post. That way, you'll never miss them. And of course, you can unsubscribe if you get tired of the updates (it's okay, I'll never know!).

Okay, now on to the fun stuff. August was full of lots of opportunities to get out and enjoy the beautiful place we live in. We have my cousin Amber to thank for a lot of those opportunities, because she came out and visited us. We wanted to take her to all our favorite places and in the process had a nice week-long "staycation."

Anyone who comes to the Northwest has to see Multnomah Falls, so that was our first stop. It was very crowded. I guess that's to be expected for a Sunday in August!

Crown Point, on our way home from Multnomah Falls.

We also went on a hike in the Gorge around the Cape Horn area. It was a lovely hike, even though the weather was a little cloudy.

Wild Columbine.


The Gorge again. Such a lovely view!

Cigar Rock. Appropriately named, don't you think?

This thin, misty waterfall was a highlight of the hike. The trail passes behind it.

We also took Amber to Cape Disappointment State Park for a couple days of camping.

The moon rises as we get ready for our first night.

Amber, Christina, and Mom, with North Head Lighthouse in the bakground.


North Head Lighthouse in the morning

The North Jetty on the Columbia. We walked out on it a good distance. It was fascinating to see how the water was rough on the north side, but very calm on the south side. There were lots of birds and a few sea lions around it.

See-sawing on the beach.


Cape Disappointment Lighthouse.

Another must-see for anyone visiting the Northwest is, of course, Mt. St. Helens, so this was our last excursion with Amber. We were really thankful that although it was a cloudy day at lower elevations, the clouds weren't too thick at Johnston Ridge.

Wildflowers! Still blooming in August.

We were so glad Amber could come out and stay with us, and it was very fun showing her around the area. The week after she left, we got to go to the Coast again, this time to visit the folks at our church's annual camp-out at Cape Lookout State Park. Again, we were blessed with gorgeous weather.

The beach at Cape Lookout, looking north.


Looking south toward the actual Cape Lookout.

It's been an exciting summer, and it's not quite over yet. Stay tuned for more. :)