Flying M Ranch

17 09 2016

img_8495-1I love visiting Yamhill County, Oregon where picturesque farms, majestic vineyards, and quaint towns reside. Yamhill, one such homey town within this small county, nestles near the Coast Range between Interstate 5 and U.S. Highway 101. For decades, my destination to Yamhill has been the Flying M Ranch where I’ve camped, hiked, swam, ridden horses, and enjoyed quintessential ranch breakfasts. It also hosts a private airport and a popular wedding venue. Flying M Ranch is open all year, so pay them a visit and enjoy the county’s scenery along your way. Find them at 23029 NW Flying M Road, Yamhill, Oregon 97148, www.flying-m-ranch.com, flyingmranch71@gmail.com, or (503) 662-3222.

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Toadstool Cupcakes

8 08 2016

IMG_7855My cousin recently brought Toadstool Cupcakes to a family gathering, and when I peeked inside the box, I saw the cutest variety of tiny cupcakes I’d ever laid eyes on. I’m not much of a cake lover and I never eat dessert first, but when another cousin prompted me to try one, I dove right in—before the potluck started! To my delight, the Toadstool Cupcakes tasted even better than they looked. They are topped with creamy fillings and hand-dipped in white or chocolate ganache, then finished with signature decorations unique to each flavor.

Toadstool Cupcakes bakes all cakes on site and offers over 50 flavors daily including wheat-free and vegan. Tiny Toadstool Cupcakes are nearly the size of a standard cupcake and cost $2.75 each or $30 per dozen. Some flavors of the Tiny Toadstool Cupcakes include: Salted Caramel, Snickerdoodle Dandy, Strawberries & Cream, Oregon Marionberry, Confetti Cake, Double Fudge, Strawberry Cheesecake, Mocha Buzz, Oregon Hazelnut, Green Tea Chai, Fudgy Pudgy Brownie, Carrot Cake, Chocolate Dipped Strawberries, and Banana Split. Giant Toadstool Cupcakes cost $5 each and if you buy 11, you get the 12th free. Giant Toadstool Cupcakes are double flavor, side-by-side treats in these six daily flavors: Red Velvet Double Fudge, Caramel Macchiato, Razzle Dazzle Lemonberry, Candy Bars, Neopolitan, and Cookie Monster.

Toadstool Cupcakes is open daily from 9 a.m.-8 p.m. and is located in Portland, Oregon at 3557 SE Hawthorne Blvd. 97214. Contact Toadstool Cupcakes at (503) 764-9921 or www.toadstoolcupcakes.com. Visit the shop or the website for a full list of gourmet flavors.

 

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Big League Chew

13 07 2016

IMG_8022Whether it’s baseball season or not, the classic Big League Chew bubble gum remains popular as new generations discover this unique product. Although the traditional pink, original-flavored bubble gum expanded into a variety of colors and flavors (chocolaty candy bar, sour cherry, strawberry, grape, sour apple, watermelon, and cotton candy), its iconic shredded texture and foil pouch packaging stay recognizable across generations and around the world.

The concept of Big League Chew began in the Portland Maverick’s bullpen in the 1970s. The Portland Mavericks were a new independent team in the Class A Northwest League created by Bing Russell, an actor in the hit TV series Bonanza and father to actor Kurt Russell. Left-handed pitcher Rob Nelson noticed teammate Todd Field “chewing” shredded black licorice as a healthy substitute for tobacco, and he instantly got the idea of shredding gum instead. Nelson approached teammate Jim Bouton for help in developing the gum. Bouton brainstormed the name of Big League Chew, financed the initial operation, and eventually pitched it to the Wrigley Company, owner of the Chicago Cubs. The teammates hired MAD magazine artist Bill Mayer to design the final packaging.

A secret formula keeps Big League Chew’s shredded gum from sticking together in the pouch, allowing customers to dip into any amount desired. This ingenuity didn’t happen overnight. In early 1979, Nelson ordered a gum-making machine from a magazine and attempted his first batch of licorice-flavored brown gum in Field’s kitchen in Southeast Portland. Nelson became the new pitching coach for Portland State University and tested batches of his homemade gum to his players who were not fans of it. He continued experimenting while Bouton sketched pouch designs. Nelson hired an art studio in Portland to render Bouton’s drawings into a professional sample to show Amurol, a subsidiary of Wrigley. Amurol’s President tested about 20 Big League Chew pouches at a 7-Eleven convenience store in Naperville, Illinois and they sold out immediately.

After months of tweaking the gum’s colors, flavors and packaging, former teammates and new business partners introduced Big League Chew in May 1980. Over the decades, Big League Chew fans rave that this particular gum continues its use as a healthy alternative to tobacco. For others, it’s a fun, flavorful, storable chewing gum.

 

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Summer Fairs and Festivals

14 06 2016

 

IMG_6960Americans will spend the next few months participating in various summer fairs and festivals around the country. Some will be professional city events while others will remain casual community affairs. Do you hold out for the grand, end-of-summer state fair or do you dip into small-town festivals throughout the season and soak up their unique cultures? Whether you prefer flashy or quaint, you’re certain to find one just your style. Be adventurous and discover something new this year!

 

 

Fairs and festivals offer an array of activities:

  • Arts & Crafts
  • Auctions
  • Carnival rides
  • Ceremonies
  • Contests
  • Demonstrations
  • Exhibits
  • Food booths
  • Games
  • Live shows
  • Livestock
  • Pageants
  • Parades
  • Vendors

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Unpredictable Spring

17 05 2016

IMG_6505As I share about the Pacific Northwest’s timely resources and places, I also simply recognize the gift of experiencing seasons. We’re deep into spring and transitioning from the rainy season to summer’s dry heat. This means that we enjoy hot, sunny days immediately followed by cool, damp ones and vice versa. When marine clouds drift in from the west, we know to protect certain outside items and perhaps, change course. These initial raindrops generate complaints from my outdoorsy children followed by my usual response of, “Free watering for the yard!” I’m still waiting for a positive reception to my statement.

The Willamette Valley, situated between the Cascades and the Coast Range, currently experiences these climate fluctuations every few days, making it challenging to plan outdoor activities. Recently, our forecast of showers became steady rain instead and forced us to switch plans. I bribed my tween and two teens with treats if they ran errands with their dad and me. While we were parked, cozy, and together in our car as rain pelted our sunroof, I looked up and snapped this photo. At that moment, I appreciated the beauty of the droplets and the dark clouds as their backdrop, because without this storm, we’d have scattered for the day. I enjoyed the happy chatter of my family despite the day’s turn of events. I relished this snapshot in time of having them under my wings still, because they’re going to leave the nest soon, one at a time.

Even mundane days deserve the recognition that they’re life’s memory-makers and bonders. I hope we all take mental snapshots of our lives throughout each season and appreciate that sometimes the smallest moments become the biggest.

 

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The Quilt

18 04 2016

IMG_6334The quilt came into my life upon marrying my husband. This colorful, multi-fabric square was his college graduation gift, stitched by an unfamiliar group of women. They composed a quilt for each graduate with the sole purpose of blessing young clergy as they set off for a life of adventure within their calling. The quilt was meant to comfort, a reminder that my husband and his fellow pastors and missionaries were covered physically, emotionally, and spiritually. My husband remained single for a decade after graduation, busy with church and missions work. The quilt resided in storage.

After the honeymoon, I integrated my belongings and our wedding gifts into his—now our—household. Our 1950 bungalow lacked adequate storage, so when I moved items around to include the new, I discovered the quilt neatly stored and in perfect condition. I had to free it. Within the week, it found itself sprawled beside a rippling creek in the Cascade foothills for a summer picnic.

Since that initiation day, the quilt regularly accompanies adventures expanding years of marriage and three children. The quilt protects sleeping bags from bumpy tent floors and comforts shivering bodies from chilly air. It spreads across sandy beaches, backyard grass, and rustic picnic tables. It absorbs earth from its bottom and spills from its top, and still launders beautifully. If and when, however, it begins to show wear and tear, we will not retire it. This quilt will be ready to escort future generations.

 

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Baked Rainbow Trout

5 04 2016

IMG_5854Rainbow trout are coldwater fish in the salmon family native to the Pacific Northwest. Some trout remain in fresh rivers and lakes for their entire lives, while others migrate to and from the Pacific Ocean. Migratory trout are called steelhead. Freshwater rainbow trout are smaller with a milder flavor and flesh color than their saltwater counterparts. They are delicious baked, fried, smoked, or grilled.

Ingredients

  • 4-6 rainbow trout, cleaned with heads and tails removed if desired
  • 3 lemons, sliced
  • 4-6 rosemary sprigs
  • Canola or extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 tsp dried parsley, if desired

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a 9×13-inch baking sheet with foil and coat with canola or olive oil.
  • Place trout on foil. Sprinkle flesh with salt and pepper and stuff with rosemary sprigs and lemon slices. Drizzle skin with oil and lemon juice, and season with additional salt and pepper. Lemon slices lined on top of trout and sprinkled with parsley also gives a nice presentation along with flavor.
  • Cover with foil and bake for approximately 20 minutes until trout is opaque and flakes easily with a fork.

 

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