Wednesday, November 30, 2011

O Christmas Tree

One of our first Christmases, we were on a budget and seeking adventure.  We learned about cutting your Christmas tree fresh out of the woods for $10--perfect! It involves stopping in at the ranger station on your way up to Snoqualamie Pass or Chinook Pass and buying a permit. They will give you maps and all the other details you need to know.

A couple things we learned...
1) You might want to bring a handgun, we were a bit on edge our first trip with all the feline tracks going every which way, bobcat or cougar--didn't really want to meet one.

2)  If you have 4 wheel drive or chains, you will probably get a prettier tree. We have never bothered with either and have always come home with a homely, but endearing Charlie Brown tree. The big trucks who can drive up higher come down with beautiful noble firs...jealous.

3)  The other tip my parents learned from our one-time tree-cutting experience, is when tying your tree onto the roof of your car, place it with the trunk at the rear, otherwise your tree will dry out in a week!

4) Lastly, if you happen to stop at North Bend for a quick lunch on your way home, do not put your brand new android phone on the tray with all your leftover wrappers, because it just might end with you digging through a Burger King dumpster at midnight...just saying.

It's a good little drive up the pass, I think you get off I-90 around Exit 37, 
it's either Asahel Curtis or Denny Creek.

These are extremely helpful if you have a pair.

 I think Jeremy has never felt more manly .

Eureka! Like I said homely, but endearing.

For the Forest Service's website click here, there is a Quick Link for "Christmas Trees" for additional tips on keeping your tree fresh as long as possible.  

Snoqualamie Ranger District
902 SE North Bend Way
North Bend, WA 98045
(425) 888-1421

South Sounders:
US Forest Service Ranger Station
450 Roosevelt Ave E
Enumclaw, WA 98022
(360) 825-6585

All other offices and locations to purchase permits click here.

Happy Hunting!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Harvest Banner

While we were on vacation in September, I started thinking about my front porch. I've never really done anything with it, and yet it has so much potential. I want my house to be welcoming the moment you pull into the driveway.  I didn't have much in my budget for it this year, so I knew I needed to make something and then, thanks to Pinterest I got my idea.

So here is my first attempt at a tutorial, which first involves a trip to JoAnns.

1. Shopping List:
1/3 yard solid cream outdoor canvas 
1/8 yard solid brown outdoor canvas
1/8 yard Pellon Wonder-Under Fusible Web 
Small spool of brown thread
2 yards of binding - you can use a double wide packaged binding. I bought a cream trim. Use whatever catches your eye.

2. On the computer:
Design your letters, and get creative with fonts. I chose High Tower Text since I was going for classic and old fashioned. As far as size of the letters, you want them to be around 4 inches tall. I think for High Tower that was between 300-400. Print (I always click the "Outline" in advanced settings, so as not to waste ink).

3. Make your triangle pattern. 
I cut mine out of a Digiorno box and it's 11 1/2 inches long x 8 1/2 inches wide.

4. Cut out your printed letters.

5. Iron the Wonder-Under onto the back of the brown canvas.

6. Trace letters onto Wonder-Undered canvas
Place letters face down (backwards), and trace.

7. Cut out canvas letters.

8. Cut out flags.
Using your cardboard pattern, cut out 7 flags. 

9. Iron letters onto flags.
Get out your craft ruler and center letters on flags, remembering to account for the 1/2 inch trim that will be sewn at the top.  Iron into place.

10. Sew around flags.
Thread your machine with brown thread. Set your stitch length to 3.0, I think a larger stitch looks more professional for top stitching. Sew quarter inch around sides of flags. At this point you may want to trim sides with pinking shears to add detail.

11. Sew flags together.
Pull out your trim, give yourself a foot or so of excess for hanging. You can pin trim to flags or just take it slow. As far as spacing the flags,  you could put a couple inches between each flag. For the size of my porch I butted them up so they were almost touching.

12. Iron the finished product and hang!

It does not feel like 12 steps, it's really simple and goes pretty quick once you start. And of course you could make one for any season or holiday, changing fabrics, words, lettering...have fun with it!


As the holidays approach, I get anxious to visit the Main Street shops in Sumner. One of our traditions we look forward to each year is attending the Autumn Evening Open House. The downtown shops stay open late and serve all kinds of cookies, candies, doughnuts and cider. It's a fun event to attend with your family, girlfriends, or even husbands who love all the treats! We still have yet to make it to The Old Cannery's Bridge Lighting during Thanksgiving weekend, with cider, coffee, roasted nuts and kettle corn ... maybe this will finally be the year!

 My favorite store and interior decorating icon. Check out their blog.

 One of the classiest paper stores around.

 I love their generous and elegant selection.

Autumn Evening is the same night as the 
Scarecrow Celebration Contest who perform every half hour. 

The Old Cannery a few blocks from town is worth a visit, boasting 10 acres of furniture sold at low prices; a Fudge Factory with 24 flavors including sugar-free options; 7 scale miles of overhead G scale trains; and during their Hometown Holidays, free pictures with Santa and Sleigh Rides.

For a listing of Sumner's year round events, click here.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Glazed Pumpkin Bread

One of my favorite indulgences this time of year is fresh from the oven Pumpkin Bread. This recipe was the first one our family tried years ago, torn out of a Family Fun magazine and it continues to be my favorite. It is so simple to make and sure to please the whole family.

In mixer, beat until well combined:
2 cups (16 oz) canned pumpkin
3 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
(Careful, it's a lot of liquid for your mixer to take, start on low.)

In separate bowl, whisk and add to pumpkin mixture:
3 1/3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
3/4 tsp ground cloves

Beat 2 minutes. Divide between two greased and floured (I just use pan spray) loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes or until toothpick comes out mostly clean (but still a little soft) in center. Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pans.

Some Tips:

  • Set your first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pans. Then check in 15, 10, 5 minute increments until bread is almost, but not fully firm in center. 
  • Bake on lower middle oven rack. I learned this from my America's Test Kitchen Baking Book. It helps the bread cook more evenly without getting too brown on top.
  • A new thing I'm trying is baking breads and cakes at 325 degrees instead of 350. My husband's Aunt told me about this trick, which helps things rise slowly, cook evenly and yields a moist, dense bread or cake.
  • For quick breads, I use 1 large bread pan, like this Wilton Aluminum Loaf Pan instead of 2 traditional 9x5 loaf pans. I learned about these amazing pans when I baked for Olympic Coffee Roasters. You get more center pieces, which we all know are the best!

I use two different glazes depending on my mood.

Cinnamon Sugar Glaze
2-3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2-3 Tbsp. warm water

Whisk powdered sugar and cinnamon in a bowl, add 1 Tbsp water at a time until desired consistency is reached. I like a thick glaze that stays on the bread. Drizzle over cool bread, if it's too warm, the glaze will just run off onto the counter.

Vanilla Glaze
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine in saucepan. Boil for 3 minutes. Poke warm bread and brush slowly with glaze allowing to seep into the holes.

For more nutrition and seriously no difference in taste or texture, 
I've been using this awesome whole wheat flour 
from Wheat Montana. It's a fine sift, non GMO, great product 
with 6 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber per 1/4 cup!
I buy this 5lb. bag at Super Wal-Mart for around $4.50.
It's also cool, cause it reminds me of my sister Angie, from Montana. 
There is actually a Wheat Montana Bakery in her hometown--lucky.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pike Place Market

Pike's is probably the most touristy thing you can do in Seattle, but it's for a reason--it's awesome and uniquely ours. I remember my British Uncle Jeremy who had traveled on business around the world saying "It holds it's own" a good way, either way, it's something you have to see whether you're here for a week or a weekend.  The famous Pike Place Fish gather quite the crowd for their flying performances with each purchase. There's the boquet vendors, the locally grown fruits and vegetables, the many street performers and artists, the signature Market Spice Tea, bakeries, pubs, burgers and asian cuisine. Then there's the lower levels which can be pretty...weird.  There's a very unique smell that exists there, so 1st trimester moms, beware.  We love to get a bag of freshly made cinnamon doughnuts from the Daily Dozen Doughnut Company with their notorious "God sees when you don't tip" jar--threatening, but honest. And don't forget to walk across the cobblestones to the Post Alley side of the market. It's impressive how many ethnic flavors are available in a one block radius. For a cheap eat, try one of the creative combinations at The Crumpet Shop. Sample the Flagaship cheese at Beecher's. Order "your" drink at the original Starbucks that changed the world. Come back for a special dinner at Campagne if you like expensive, delicate, french cuisine or one of our favorites The Pink Door with no sign, just a pink door. Your tummy is not big enough to try everything your eyes want so choose wisely. 

 The market is a great place to buy hard to find fruits and vegetables.

Bring some chewing gum to leave a part of yourself at the Gum Wall. 

 Jeremy found this little gem of a piece at Post Alley 
and wanted to remember it forever.

I thought we had more can always search Google Images, but hopefully you will just get a chance to see it in person!