Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Our room at the Grand Canyon was in the Thunderbird Lodge (more about that in my next post). The room was clean & cheery - had TV, excellent cell phone reception, etc. and a whole lotta "outside staff".
We came out of the restaurant in the Bright Angel Lodge only to find the lawns of the lodge areas being grazed by deer and elk. Right there, munching on the lawn and any other tasty vegetation they could find!
Now, our friend Rascal worries about Vishus Deer and often gets concerned about Neelix and the Vishus Sheep . Well, he'd have been VERY concerned when he saw me pull out my camera - "Here, nice elk, don't attack me and push me off the edge (which was only about 35 feet away)" We got back to our room safely, and I got my (barely discernable) picture of a really big elk.
But not as REALLY BIG as this guy who is giving John the laser eye - he had plopped himself down in the middle of the driveway of the El Tovar Hotel with sort of an "As a matter of fact, I do own the road" attitude. If you click on the picture to biggify it, you'll see that his rack of horns extends waaaayyyyy up - The Shepherd figured they were at least 6 feet up from the grass - and that is on top of an elk that is standing six feet tall at the shoulder. I'm glad I was back in the room, safe from this critter!
Monday, October 29, 2007
My "local friends" are amazed at the number of "blogger friends" that I have made. They were even more amazed when we announced that we were going to VISIT one of these blogger friends - and going so far to do it! Well, it wasn't exactly like we were going to visit strangers - after all, Kathy & I have been friends for over a year (at least) and she does raise Shetland Sheep, so she couldn't be all bad, right?
Like my sisters, Kat checked on me nearly every day last winter when John was hurting and Michelle from Boulderneigh and I waited on pins and needles to hear how her surgery turned out last summer - so we had a little bit of history here. But, to some extent, it was a leap of faith on both our parts.
Miles and miles and miles -
(Info from National Park Service web site)
Kathy and Ralph had told us about a great place to have lunch in Cameron - there is a HUGE trading post (aka -tourist trap) there - every type of Arizona Curios that you could ever want - but in the back is a dining room decorated in the most beautiful Navajo rugs you have ever seen, serving some of the best food you'll have while you are in AZ. John had Navajo stew - it came with a plate size piece of fry bread - I had a Navajo taco - it came ON a plate size piece of fry bread - and the cool thing was it was not just the tourists eating there - there were a lot of locals - generally a very good sign for good food - I have a story about THAT (ie - lots of locals indicating a good restaurant) for later in our trip.
The thing about driving up to the Grand Canyon this way is you get the teaser of the Little Colorado Canyon - beautiful in it's own right.
Next up? The BIG Kahuna - The GRAND Canyon.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Thank you to MontyQ cat for the nice get well card for our friend.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Today was the NW Washington Shetland Sheep Breeders meeting. We gathered at Chris & Jerry's beautiful Whoamule Farm on Whidbey Island. In attendance were Molly from BlackberryMoon Farm and Wendy from Ylletroja Farm, both also from Whidbey Island, Donna & Tom of Schoonover Farm in Sedro Woolley, Sally from Sleepy Hollow Sheep Dogs in Granite Falls, Franna from EverRanch in Auburn and of course, The Shepherd and myself.
Before lunch, the group went out and took some halter lessons -
Oh, oh, it looks like The Shepherd has a flopper...
We all brought a little gift to exchange - I picked this cute little bag - it was full of mohair (something new to spin!) and three cute little sheep Christmas ornaments. I thought that the saying printed on the bag was very appropriate for the day.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
There is NOTHING darker than a motel bathroom at night and the Hampton Inn on Grant Street in Tucson, AZ has the BEST idea that has hit motel bathrooms in decades:
Just a plain old night light! All it takes is a 20 watt bulb (or so) that is behind this little 5 or 6" grate...keeps the bathroom just light enough so you can see where the potty is in the middle of the night. They have my business forever!
The Hampton Inns also have the best complimentary breakfast - nothing "continental" about it either - a hot dish (sausage, ham, gravy, scrambled eggs, etc. - there was something different every day), with fluffy biscuits - warm pastrys, all sorts of breads, bagles, & muffins, fresh fruit, cut up fruit bowl, yogurt, cereal, coffee, tea, 3 different kinds of juices (are you ready to make your room reservations yet?) in a bright and cheery room with a BIG screen TV with the morning show on. Such a deal.
Now, this was REALLY good - it was the cheesy spinach & corn dip that we had at Buster's in Flagstaff. (Kathy, I'm working on the recipe - I'll let you know as soon as I have it perfected! )
THE BAD: Knowing that some yahoo had been through your suitcase as you started your journey. Did it make it better that they left a little note - not really -
We noticed that they didn't bother to go through our suitcases on the way back - way too may dirty clothes - or maybe it was all those little plastic baggies full of wool that Kathy sent back with me from her stash.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Although there is no record of the architect or the artists who painted the interior and almost every available space is painted. The accoustics are incredible and they generally have recordings of monks chanting playing during the day. It is very cool and restful inside, despite the huge numbers of tourists who visit.
They still have services twice a day.
They were in the middle of renovation to the main dome, but you can see how beautiful it is by the surrounding buildings.
That night we went to El Minuto Cafe for great Mexican food with John's old friend Mary and her partner Steve. We haven't seen them in just about 10 years, but it was almost like we were just there last week. Such nice people
We had an appetizer called a Cheese Crispi, with green chilis - they aren't common here in B'ham town - so I wasn't sure what to expect - YUM - it was like a huge open faced faced quesadilla - and the green chilis were fresh not those slimy canned ones that I was expecting. Good choice, Steve!
We also spend some time visinting John's parent's gravesite. The town has changed a fair amount in the last ten years, but old Mr. "compass head" was able to find his way around quite nicely. If we hadn't been so tightly scheduled for the rest of the trip, I think we would have liked to have spent more time there - next time it won't be such a long interval.
So with the hills in the distance beckoning us, we head off north towards Flagstaff -
Nwxt I'll tell you about the good parts and the bad parts of traveling in today's post "911" era.
We're off to see Skittles and his friends.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Monday, October 15, 2007
Sunday, October 14, 2007
On October 15th - Blog Action Day, bloggers around the web will unite to put a single important issue on everyone's mind. In its inaugural year, Blog Action Day will be co-ordinating bloggers to tackle the issue of the environment. Blog Action Day is and will ever be, simply a vehicle for bloggers to work together to create a better world. The Organizers of Blog Action Day were inspired by one member's Baha'i belief's in the unity of humanity.
I am inspired by their willingness to try to mobilize the thousands of blogs and millions of readers. Stir the proverbial pot - it causes change.
I spent the first 18 years of my life growing up on this farm in North Central Washington. My father was tethered to the environment in a way that most fathers these days don't understand - he was a farmer. Everything he did on a day to day basis depended upon, effected, relyed upon - the land.
My grandparents homesteaded this land in 1907 - for one hundred years a Thomsen has owned this property. Even though I have not lived there since 1970, the "ranch" as we call it, is still "home" - to this day, the smell of sage brings back memories of warm summer days - the sagebrush and the grasses heated thru by the sun - the acrid smell permeating the air.
"Mom, we're going up on the cliff" - we'd call out - and be gone for hours - walking, wandering, looking for wildflowers in the spring, picking through the piles of stuff and junk (in those days there were no landfills - you made your own) to see if we could find any "treasures" to take home for our play house - old plates, maybe a chipped cup or a bent spoon. Maybe that is where my younger sister developed her love for antiques...
Hundreds of thousands of years ago, the glaciers pushed their way down into the area now owned by my sisters and I. When the glaciers melted, (dare I ask - was that caused by the last episode of global warming?) they did the biggest environmental litter-bug job in the world - they dropped all these big rocks - right where they stopped - in our front yard, and our back yard, you get the picture.
The "environment" is so much more than a cause - it determines how one looks at the world - and how the world looks at us.
Sometimes, it is discouraging. We do what we can, recycle this or that - only to learn that sometimes "it" ends up in a landfill anyhow. We change the type of lightbulb we buy, only to learn that the new types of compact flourescent bulbs contain mercury and require special handling to dispose of.
So, I challenge you - get involved - add your voice to the thousands - let me know what YOU think.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Last year first of October - the sunflowers lasted a lot longer - this year's are all gone - knocked over by the wind- eaten by the very happy/hungry finches.
This year first of October - this picture is looking the other direction in our yard from the picture I posted the other day. It's just a riot of color around here right now.
The sunflowers may be gone, but the zinnias are still blooming, aren't they Sinda.
Greg & I became fast friends – although we haven’t seen much of each other in the last 15 years, he has moved on to much bigger and better things – and successively more responsible jobs – one of his last full time “chef” jobs was as the executive chef at the Canlis Restaurant (a classic & celebrated restaurant since 1950) in Seattle. He now teaches cooking classes, and regularly appears on the local Public Television station as a regular Guest Host on their specials – “KCTS Chefs” AND has his own Culinary Consulting business. He writes a weekly article called “Taste” for the Seattle Times/PI Weekend Magazine, AND he also has written some great cookbooks.
I love reading his articles – I can almost hear his “voice” reading aloud to me. I also love reading his cookbooks – I admire how he can “craft” a recipe that, in the end, tastes divine.
Well, I consider myself to be a better than average cook. I have made dinners for as many as 90 people at our church auctions (with rave reviews, I might add) and I sold Pampered Chef Kitchen Tools for 3 or 4 years – so, I generally have the right tool for the task at hand.
I also love cookbooks – or rather I LOVE cookbooks – but strangely enough, the one I generally reach for first is my Grandma’s Betty Crocker cookbook – circa 1960’s. I make most meals from scratch – why buy Hamburger Helper Stroganoff mix, loaded with salt and monosodium glutamate and countless other things you can’t pronounce, when all you have to do is chop up an onion and ½# of mushrooms to brown with your ground beef. Add a little flour, a can of beef broth and a pint of sour cream – there you have it – easier than a Rachel Ray “30 Minute Meal”
Frequently I will “throw” some ingredients together and it will be a hit with The Shepherd. “Is this from a recipe?” he’ll ask… “Well, kind of…” I’ll respond. Often, he’ll say “this is a keeper, jot down your notes” – that is what happened with the following recipe – Turkey Shepherd’s Pie – Ground turkey is so much better for you than ground beef (but you can substitute ground beef if you want. – change your soup to Cream of Mushroom and use brown gravy mix) It’s not as polished as some of Greg’s recipes, it’s kind of like one of those recipes that your mom used to make – the one that only she knew the ingredients for. I bake it up in my Pampered Chef 9x13” baking dish – it is deep like a lasagna pan, so there is lots of room for LOTS of mashed potatoes.
Turkey Shepherd’s Pie
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1 ¼ pound ground turkey (Jennie-O "Turkey Store" ground turkey is what I’ve used – it comes in a 20 oz package)
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil (to keep the turkey from burning)
1 medium sweet onion, chopped fine
¼ pound mushrooms, chopped fine
1 stalk celery, chopped fine
1 can Campbells Healthy Request Cream of Chicken Soup
plus 1 can of water
1 packet of Turkey Gravy mix
1# package of frozen Mixed Vegetables
Salt, pepper, herbs & spices of your choice – I like to use ½ tsp of Cavender’s Greek Seasoning
2-3 # of potatoes peeled or scrubbed.
(I use Yukon gold) (By the way - make sure there is no green skin on your potatoes – Did you know---Potatoes exposed to bright light develop green patches. This green skin contains the toxin 'solanine' which can cause cramps, headache, diarrhea, and fever. The solution is simple. Don't eat the green skin - simply remove it - the solanine is only present in the green skin and any discoloration underneath it - the rest of the potato is completely safe to eat.)
½ to 1 cup of milk
2-4 tablespoons butter
½ cup sour cream
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
Salt & pepper to taste
Peel your potatoes & cut them in 1” (or so) cubes – cook in boiling water or steam – however you like – until they are tender. Mash them with enough milk to make them creamy, but you don’t want them too thin because they will be the topping on your turkey & vegetables. Stir in the butter, sour cream, shredded cheese & salt & pepper to taste.
While the potatoes are cooking, chop the onion, mushrooms, & celery. In a 10-12 inch frying pan brown your ground turkey, over medium heat and add the chopped veggies. Cook for a few minutes until they are limp. Add the frozen mixed vegetables and cook for a few minutes until they are thawed. Add the can of soup, a can of water and the gravy mix. Cook until the soup and gravy have combined and thickened and the whole thing is bubbling. Remove from heat and pour into a 9”x13” baking dish. Spoon your mashed potatoes (I like to use my 4 oz scoop – that way it is uniform) on top of your ground turkey & vegetable mixture. Spread the mashed potatoes out over the whole dish, making sure to seal them up to the edge of your baking dish. Make some “vents” in the middle so the gravy will have someplace to escape to (and not over the edge and down onto the floor of your oven).
Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes or until the gravy starts to bubble up in those vents. It’s pure comfort food. Hope you enjoy it – we do.
Sunday, October 07, 2007
Thursday, October 04, 2007
I didn't have time today to really study this article but I've got it printed out and I'll report on it here soon. I do believe that gratitude is good for the heart and soul and finding Three Beautiful Things about your day can certainly make that trip down the road to happiness a lot shorter. I have been neglecting that in my life lately - sigh - so much to do, so little time...but here are my three beautiful things for this week.
We had a small patch of tomatoes this summer - they are shaped like Roma's but they are little - arent these green ones pretty?
The ripe ones were very tasty - and not a one made it to the house - well, I actually only got 5 ripes ones and the temp is supposed to dip into the 30's tonight, so I suppose the plants will all be done for tomorrow. Next year I'll have The Shepherd put them where they will get more sun.
John's bonsai collection is beginning to put on it's fall clothes. He tucked this oak into the greenhouse to delay the inevitable - it is just gorgeous.
Neelix & Sinda found the 'nip bag that I got them last spring - if Sinda isn't sleeping on it (sort of like some kind of aroma therapy) Neelix is licking it. They have definately been two happy cats this week.