Road Trip: Seattle-Macy's Santaland

December 31, 2017

This year was quite a change from our normal routine of visiting Macy's Santaland. Unfortunately, the Portland Macy's closed its doors and sold their flagship/brick and mortar store here. So we had to make the journey up to the Seattle store in order to keep with our tradition. We were hoping to see just a grand put on as we did in Portland, but it wasn't at all the same. Of course, Macy's did try to keep it as grand as they could, but instead of an entire area devoted to Santaland it was just a small corner of the store. We were a bit disappointed, but the road trip up, the people putting on the Santaland, and the atmosphere was wonderful.  

The Seattle skyline as we arrived. 

Macy's is always so beautiful this time of year. They really do bring the magic.



The people they have putting on the Santaland are always in such great spirits. The Santa this year was a wonderfully cheerful man that fit the part well. He was also a Star Wars fan and that peeked The Bean's interest a lot. 






After leaving Macy's we walked around Seattle for a bit soaking in the holiday ambiance. 







Dock-less biking system through LimeBike and Ofo. This concept is amazing really. With less pollution on the streets and an easy grab and go technique. $1 for 30 minutes!

Five simple things

December 29, 2017

Hello.

Happy "after-Christmas?" How's the flu where you live? Here it's running rampant and our house was not untouched. We usually skate under the radar with illness each season, but this year it caught up to us. Of course, I can say we have only have a mild case of it, or so we think, but others are suffering quite terribly. The Mr. brought "something" home a couple of weeks ago and now it has worked its way through the house. I am currently writing bedside sipping hot tea and defusing tea tree and other essential oils in hopes that it will soothe my achy throat and ease coughing. The Bean is sleeping next to me cuddled up as if he were a baby again. This time of year is so tricky because those of us that don't want to get the flu shot end up being made to feel guilty by those that do. Injecting dead flu cells from whatever strain of Influenza they guess might pass through doesn't seem that appealing to me. Then there are those that get the flu shot and get sick anyway. Quite a gamble, if I do say so. We are on the uphill out of being sick, so we are mending. I do feel that this weekend will be a weekend of rest in this house.

Here are five simple things that made this week great.

1. Homemade vanilla.

Nothing better than homemade vanilla extract.

2. Waste-free decoration.

Made from the cuttings of our Christmas tree and it worked out perfectly. The bell is from here.

3. This sweater.

Drying them flat is the only way.

4. Space needle.

From our trip. It was a lovely night.

5. Hardy and Happy.

Two peas in a pod.

A few more things:





Road Trip: Snow on the Cascade Mountains

Longing for a bit of snowfall here in the valley we decided to cheat the system and go to the snow instead. The Cascade Mountain range is roughly a 20 minute drive from where we live and the peaks there are never short on some sort of snowfall before Christmas comes. This year was no exception and we were delighted to see quite a bit of it. Of course, it wasn't anything worth bragging about yet, but it was enough to appease us for the time being.



Three Finger Jack from Hoodoo Ski Resort.




Historical markers marking the history behind the first road constructed on the pass. You can read them up close here.

Warming shelters along the snow parks.

Even though it was a short trip up on the pass we had a rare elk sighting. First time living in Oregon that I've seen them in person, especially this many, and the size of the horns on some of them. Nature is so wonderful sometimes.

Five simple things

December 22, 2017

Hello.

Happy early holiday to you. Hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend planned for yourself and your loved ones. We are gearing up to make our annual cookies and overplay our Christmas vinyl and movies. There's nothing better than the 1947 version of  Miracle on 34th Street. We still have our fingers crossed for a little snow to fall, but nothing as of yet. Bummer. Maybe we will get a few flakes soon. As for this week we didn't really do much at all, but we did have a few things that are worth mentioning. And the talk around these parts lately is the Amtrak derailment. Having rail fans in our house we can't be anything other than sad. Ironically, we took an overnight trip to Seattle the weekend before and came back on the same route where the train came onto the road. The tracks were new, but the train was in its first trip-its inaugural trip for a new route from Portland, Oregon, to Seattle, Washington that would take 10 minutes off the old route. Positive Train Control (PTC) needs to be in place for all trains, no matter what. This Amtrak train did not have it and speed has been determined to be a factor. The cost of PTC is worth human lives and this derailment should be proof of that. It should be a must before any train is allowed to run, especially trains carrying passengers. I never understand why the safety of lives is ever gambled with. Hopefully, this derailment and loss of life will prove that PTC is a must on all trains. On a positive note, train travel is one of the safest means of getting from point A to point B and we see an Amtrak train through here every day. Not to mention the AERC tracks traveled many times daily that run behind the home we currently live in. Let's just hope that these three that lost their lives this close to the holidays didn't die in vain and PTC will become mandatory in the months to come.

So here are five simple things that made this week nice.

1. Winter Solstice.

We brought in Winter Solstice by making some ice lanterns. We are going to set them out in the next few days. As for right now, in the freezer they sit.

2. These two.

A not so rare moment. Oddly enough, Hardy seemed to be okay with it "this time."

3. This tree.

For the past 14 years we've taken a picture next to this tree each year it's decorated and this year is no exception.

4. Frosty morning.

We had quite a few chilly mornings lately and the morning of Winter Solstice it was 21 degrees out. Burr!

5. This reminder.

Just a little reminder, especially this time of year.

A few more things:

Dinner plans?

For the love of a duck.

40 pictures over 40 years..

One thing we all want; More time.

Plants are Magic

Final thought: The holidays can sometimes be a lonely time for a lot of people. No matter how many people you are gathered with remember those that aren't surrounded by love and be thankful you have what you have. Reach out to those that could use a warm cup of coffee on a cold night, or those that just need a little extra to get by, but are too humble to ask. The holidays are also a great time to mend fences. Ego and pride sometimes are the only things standing in the way of making things right with someone. Perhaps it's someone you have shunned in the past, or harsh words made fences? Be the humble one to make them feel important this holiday season. An "I'm sorry" goes a long way and the holidays are the perfect time to make that happen. Remember, you are never too important to be kind to someone else.

Have a great weekend and a wonderful holiday.

The loss of Rosey the Duck

December 20, 2017

Our hearts took another emotional blow with the loss of one of our ducklings. Rosey the Duck was a little bit of a late bloomer, but she was growing and developing with leaps and bounds and we had such high hopes for her. Her life was cut short by one flaw with her development, it wasn't ready. Her sweet personality and her loving nature weren't enough to slow the progress of nature. Her body wasn't developed enough to start laying eggs, but nature took its course and in the end it too its toll on her little body.


Rosey (L) and Happy (R) 


She had laid three eggs in the last three days before her passing. It isn't normal for this time of year, and her age-four months, but from what we learned, it can happen. Unfortunately for Rosey, her little body wasn't ready for this milestone. She has always been a little behind with development and was never where Happy was with foraging, or water play, so her laying eggs before Happy sort of surprised us. She ended up pushing too many eggs out in too short of time and caused her uterus to prolapse. It isn't a common issue, but it isn't unheard of either. Most of the time the prolapse is either pushed back in and the bird is kept separated in a dark, quiet area to slow egg production until she can heal completely. Well, with Rosey she kept trying to push and with her being abnormal to begin with and not fully developed, she cause small tears inside of her uterus, which lead to a hernia.



We immediately contacted Chintimini Wildlife Center in Corvallis, Oregon, and they told us to bring her in right away. Being that Rosey and Happy are mixed with wild mallard normal veterinarians won't look at them because they are considered a wild animal. Unfortunately, as we crossed the Willamette River Bridge into Corvallis, Rosey passed away. We were not expecting her to die, so we are all completely devastated. The veterinarian at Chintimini Wildlife Center said that Rosey's prolapse couldn't have be helped because her little body wasn't completely ready to produce eggs and her pushing so much caused too much trauma internally. I love that she produced three eggs before she passed and gave us such a fun three months. I hate that she was abnormal when she was born and not fully developed before her little body started the egg production. She always acted differently than Happy, but we loved her just the same. We take comfort in knowing that we gave her the greatest three months of her short life. She was such a neat and beautiful duck. Her breed is considered a Magpie with Mallard traces. We will miss her terribly. For now, we will love on her sister, Happy, and hope her egg-laying is successful.



Rosey's namesake came from a dog that The Mr. and I just adored. It was my parent's dog and she lived to be 17-Her name was Rosebud. She was timid and seemed to just go with the flow. She got startled easily and always sensed the bad in some people. She was a neat, little dog, and I always thought highly of her. She loved to be loved and knew the ones that loved her until her passing. I figured carrying on her name would be a great tribute for us to remember her by. Rosey lived the same way, timid, shy, easily started, and loved to be loved. It pains us to know that she didn't get to live that long with the namesake, but it gives us some comfort knowing she did get to live a fun four months with a lot of love from us, and develop her own little personality.


Rosey the Duck's first egg.

She was such a sweet little duckling from the start. Happy the Duck is so independent, but with Rosey we got to take care of something that really did need us. She was slow to progress and slow to learn, but she was such a delight. We had such hopes for her and we feel like her life was cut short by genetics. It's a confusing world we live in sometimes and with the loss of Baz this past September, another loss was too soon for our loving family. All we can do is be glad that we spent some time, even as short as it was, with a pretty cool little creature that made us laugh and smile every day, and enjoyed our family as much as we enjoyed her. 

"Rosey" the Duck- August 1, 2017-December 14, 2017

"It takes nothing away from a human to be kind to an animal."
―Joaquin Phoenix

"All animals deserve love, even a duck."
―S.B.W.


-If you are considering getting ducks, consider getting a Magpie/Mallard hybrid. Their personality and temperament are perfect for anyone. They work well with other animals and also get along with kids quite easily. They are vocal and love to talk.

-Please consider donating to the Chintimini Wildlife Center in Rosey the Duck's name. The wildlife center does great things for our local wildlife and it's all based on donations. Donating to the center in Rosey the Duck's name would mean a great deal to our family. Thank you!
-Donate here.

Basil/Tomato Chicken Wrap

December 19, 2017

This recipe is one of the house favorites here. Extremely easy to make and delicious. We normally make this toward the end of the week when we are low on meals for dinner, or lunch. I've even made two batches and placed them in glass lunch containers, so The Mr. can have something to grab and go for lunches for a few days. They are a high-end meal for low effort preparing and baking. 


What you will need:

Two organic, free-range chicken breasts (we like to use Roxy-the organic chicken)
Organic extra virgin olive oil 
Sea salt and organic black pepper
Organic mozzarella (we like to use Organic Valley)
Organic Roma tomatoes-sliced (about two)
Fresh, organic basil leaves


What to do:

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Wash and remove any fat from the chicken breast. Lay them out on a flat work surface and begin slicing them length-wise to cut into two equal-sized pieces. Once cut you should have four pieces to work with. Lay a small sheet of parchment paper over each breast and pound flat to about 1/4-inch thickness. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Rub the salt and pepper into the breasts. Add two slices of tomato, a few leaves of basil, and a thin slice of mozzarella. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and add another small drizzle of olive oil. Roll up chicken breasts starting from the larger end and rolling to the narrow end. Place on olive oil drizzled, glass baking dish seam-side down. Drizzle more olive oil on top of each breast and sprinkle with more salt and pepper. Bake at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and top each breast with a small slice of mozzarella. Broil five more minutes to melt and lightly brown the cheese. To cut calories with this dish you can leave off the last step with the cheese on top and just sprinkle with salt and pepper before serving (as pictured below).


Serve them hot along side some French baguette slices!


(As with any recipe, be sure to use quality, non-gmo, organic ingredients) 

Five simple things

December 15, 2017

Hello.

Well, this is the week of mending-physically and emotionally. For the physical part, I've been getting around a lot better since my fall, but have been depending on my cane a lot to help me stay balanced. I have been having a lot of cabin fever lately, so we took a drive up to the Cascades to see how much snowfall has come. There wasn't a lot, but enough to get out in and let The Bean and Hardy play. We are really looking forward to a good snowfall this year and my persimmon weather forecasting tells me it we be a lot! For the emotional part, we suffered a loss Thursday morning. Our sweet Rosey Duck passed away. I will post more on this in another post later explaining what happened, but for now her death was so sudden and we are all completely devastated. So that this week's "Friday things" doesn't turn sad, here are five simple things, that otherwise made the week good.

1. Our trees.


Our trees are great this year. Not too big, not too small, but just right. The smaller one is The Bean's tree and the larger one is the family tree. We have simple decorations this year and they are perfect. Interesting facts about the Christmas/Holiday tree here.


2. This bell.

For helping to call for help when I needed while being injured. My boys took great care of Mama Bear and I love them for it.

3. This picture.

The Build Lebanon Trails (BLT) program here in Lebanon, Oregon, hosted a photo contest recently. They wanted to find the best shot of the trail system here and the winner of the contest would have their picture used for the header of their new site starting 2018. This is the picture I entered. I wasn't the winner, but this picture just makes me smile. The Mr. and The Bean sitting on a donated park bench along the trail system. The trails here are all created by donations and it's great to know that there is always a safe place, off the main road, to ride our bicycles, or walk without worrying about being hit, or worse. You can read more about the photo contest and the trail system through BLT here.


4. Cascade snow.

The snow is getting thicker on the Cascade Mountains. We are hoping that some comes out way soon.


5. December's book.

This month's reading selection is worth a read. Women Who Run with the Wolves is about the women who don't fit the stereotypes set out to silence them. Find out more about it here. Other selections for this month are below.


Have a great weekend!
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