Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Busy As a Bee

"How doth the little busy bee
Improve each shining hour,
And gather honey all the day
From every opening flower!"

~ Isaac Watts
"Against Idleness and Mischief," Divine Songs for Children (1715)

I know I'm loving the bees in my garden. Though they do get testy with me if I water them or disturb their work.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Motorcyle Monday: 3 Days of Motorcycle Rides Beginning in the Yakima Valley

A view of Mt. Hood from Maryhill Museum

Columbia River Gorge, vineyards, and Mt. Hood

Last weekend we celebrated our 30th anniversary with three local motorcycle rides. It was good practice to find out how long we could stay on the bike and how we would feel after a few days of travel.

Columbia River Gorge overview

What we found out:

~ early morning rides are our favorite (unless it is early spring or late fall when the weather tends to be too brisk)

~ wild animals surprise you when least expected, especially in the early morning or late afternoon

~ an hour is about as long as my backside can go without becoming totally numb, and therefore putting me at risk of falling off, as I think I am holding on, but I can't really feel the seat to tell if I am actually gripping the seat

~ my favorite part of the rides are the rest breaks

~ snack time is necessary when out riding

~ scenery is a requirement; it's a good thing the northwest is overflowing with beautiful sights

~ bugs hurt when they hit you as the bike is traveling at anything over 50 mph

~ I keep my face shield down to avoid bees in my helmet; Kevin learned this the hard way

~ sunblock is a necessity

~ helmet hair is not so great, but what can you do?

~ it's great fun meeting other motorcycle fans

~ the fresh air (both fragrant and smelly) takes experiencing the outdoors to a new level; involving the sense of smell enhances nature

~ it's hard to take photos with my helmet on, but possible

~ once we've had a good night's sleep, we are ready to hop on the bike and head out again

Ride 1 - Maryhill Museum and the Columbia River Gorge

We left from home early in the morning after enjoying a breakfast out. I had packed lunch and snacks and picked up a free pass from the library for the Maryhill Museum south of Goldendale. Maryhill Museum overlooks the Columbia River Gorge. The grounds and displays are wonderful. We stopped here first, had a snack, and toured the museum. After the museum, we hit the Maryhill Winery where a patio concert was in progress. We sat and enjoyed Columbia River Gorge views as we ate our lunch. It was so nice in the shade. The music was a great treat. On the way home, we stopped at the Centerville Cemetery to search for some of Kevin's relatives. We found one Brown. It was hot and windy but very peaceful (being out in the middle of nowhere, things tend to be quiet). The ride home over Satus Pass brought plenty of wild horses and birds of prey sightings.

"You've got to be kidding me!" was the response I got when, a) I made Kevin play chess at Maryhill Museum, and b) we tried to remember the rules for chess.

Centerville Cemetery with Mt. Adams in the background

Riding through the Yakima River Canyon

Ride 2 - Coffee in Ellensburg via the Yakima River Canyon

Our day 2 ride was a last minute idea. We were up early and out the door, headed to Ellensburg for coffee. Yes, a long way for coffee, but a great reason to go for a ride. We saw many types of wildlife while touring through the Yakima River Canyon. It was beautiful and slightly cool. Traffic was light, which was a side benefit for going so early. Mountain goats, deer, birds, eagles, and even several pelicans were spotted as we rode. It's never a mistake to tour the canyon on a bike. Just watch for deer trying to cross the road to get to the river.

Old homestead along Highway 24

Ride 3 - Anniversary Lunch in Kennewick via Hanford and Highway 24

The ride to Kennewick for an anniversary lunch was the hottest and windiest ride. We drove east on Highway 24, which heads to Hanford. After many miles of ranches and farms, the views changed to grasslands and sagebrush. The closer we got to Hanford, the more we felt heat and wind. When we turned south towards Kennewick, we really had to hang on, as wind gusts came and went. But still, it was fun to enter the Tri-Cities area from a different direction. After lunch, we headed home on I-82 as far as Granger, then jumped on the old Yakima Valley Highway, which is a beautiful ride through orchards, farms, ranches, and small communities. We had a construction-induced detour over Konnowac Pass, but we love that ride just as much as Yakima Valley Highway.

Rusted out vehicles in the grass

All in all, three days of getting out on the motorcycle with my honey was refreshing. Who cares about helmet hair anyway, right?

A photo taken in the wind and while I was wearing my helmet. Not too shabby.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

A Garden Harvest You Won't Believe

Yes. From our two new blueberry bushes, the harvest came up to exactly 1 tiny but incredibly delish blueberry. ONE.

Other crops are producing just fine. Oddly, yellow squash is outperforming zucchini this year. Usually it's the other way around.

The garden layout as seen from the patio.

My experiment of potatoes in a bag is going astray. This bag has a hole. I am fairly certain the kitties have provided assistance in broadening the gap.

Volunteer sunflowers are in full bloom and are attracting families of goldfinch. The kitties have been warned that goldfinch are not on the menu. Starlings, yes. Goldfinch, no.

How is your garden growing?

Friday, June 26, 2015

Spicy Pickled Green Beans & Garlic Recipe

Oh, yes! The garden is now in production.

With some surprise, after harvesting raspberries yesterday, I was able to pick a full basket of yellow wax beans and green beans. Time to can some pickled beans! Interestingly enough, I had just been daydreaming about biting into a spicy tangy pickled green bean. And voila' - beans are ready!

This recipe came from Renee, a good college buddy (who happens to be visiting Australia right now, but let's not hold that against her). I, per my usual inability to leave well enough alone, have adapted it to our tastes.

Spicy Pickled Green Beans

You need sanitized and prepared jars, lids, and rings. I used 5 pint jars for this recipe.

Fill jars with:

2 lbs. green beans, washed and cut to fit jars (Khloe and I planted green beans and yellow wax beans this year, so I put a mix of beans in each jar)
2-3 cloves of garlic per jar
1 dried Thai chili per jar
1 dill head per jar (I cut apart several large ones and divided it among the jars)
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper per jar
1/8 tsp. crushed red peppers per jar

Pickling liquid (enough for 5 pint jars):

Mix, boil, and pour over beans.

2-1/2 cup water
2-1/2 cup vinegar
1/8 cup salt
4 tsp. sugar

Wipe jar edges clean. Cover with lids and rings. Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove and let sit on table undisturbed for 24 hours. Check if jars have sealed. Store in cool, dry place.

Let pickled beans cure for at least 2 weeks before tasting.

Now the hard part - waiting for 2 weeks!

Does anyone know why touching and picking green beans gives me a rash? So itchy! At least it doesn't last, but I am guaranteed some prickles on my hands and arms after perusing the bean bushes.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Thankful Thursday Brought to You By the Letter Rr

Perfect! This Thankful Thursday is brought to you by the letter Rr, raspberry being one such thing for which I am very thankful and of which I just ate above and beyond a single serving. Mmmm.

Here's a list of things beginning with Rr for which I am thankful:

~ raspberries (also called raspbabies at our house)

~ rocks. Yes. I have hauled tons of pretty rocks home.

~ ripe fruits and vegetables

~ real friends

~ Redeemer (as in my Redeemer, Jesus)

~ rides (in Disneyland)

~ riding (on horses and motorcycles)

~ rabbits and raccoons

~ relatives (even the crazy ones - you know who you are)

~ relaxation

~ rain (please, Lord, we need rain!)

~ rainbows

~ ranches (fruit and/or animals)

~ Rapture (coming soon, don't you think?)

~ reading

~ recreation

~ re-do's (also called do-overs, but that doesn't begin with Rr)

~ redecorating (too much fun)

~ rings (from my love and my mama)

~ resuscitation, which was used several times on my dad (he is alive and well, feisty as always)

~ roses

~ roots (literal and figurative)

~ rubber stamps

Did my list of Rr items reveal any real reasons for thankfulness for you? I'd love to hear.

Raspberry Piggy

I'm sorry. I ate all the raspberries. Ok. MOST of the raspberries. The ripe ones.

I couldn't help it! They are so tartly sweet and delicious. Fresh raspberries taste just like summer. Each flavor burst brings back scenes from my childhood and thoughts of other times when les frambroises passed my eager lips.

So, family and friends. You will now have to wait a few more days to share the bounty, as the bees are busy preparing the next batch.


The girl who loves raspberry season

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Plenty of Rustic in This Beauty

I love to find beauty in regular every day things. This is especially true when I'm out and about and find aged, rusted every day things. That is a guarantee for appreciation. And multiple photos.

These pictures were taken during a stretch break during a 3-day motorcycle ride marathon we enjoyed for our anniversary. This homestead is located east of Moxee on Highway 24. Beauty was found in the hot, dry, windy, beat-up setting. Tranquility, nostalgia, unseen wildlife, and the wafting scent of something dead filled our senses. Yes. Never a dull moment.

Perhaps I so love the old and rusty because, dare I say it, I'm getting a little bit of both myself?

The man beside the motorcycle is not included in my 'old and rusty' statement. No way. He is a fine and wonderful husband with just the slightest touch of gray and a wrinkle or two.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Where is the REST of the Bird?

You know that moment.

The one when you return from a day-long excursion and the girls were left to their own devices. (Four-legged, furry, sisters from the same litter - that kind of girls.)

And there it is. A something dark on the floor. What is it? Barf? Mouse? Rat? Bird?

Creeping ever closer, you are relived to find it is a feather. A very large feather. But how did it get there?

And where is the REST of the bird?

Did they eat the whole thing? Is it loose and wounded in the house? Are there other piles of feathers and 'stuff' in a different room? Where are the girls anyway?

So you search, room by room, hoping to not find anything that jumps out or wiggles or spreads blood and guts while also needing to discover the source of the feather and deal with it.


Some relief. But not really. Because the feather did belong to someone at sometime.

The last time this happened, we found piles of tiny feathers. No bird. Months later, Mabel managed to scrape out the petrified dehydrated bird from beneath the stove. Can I just say YUCK?

So far, so good.

Let's check back in a few months to see if she pulls something else from beneath the oven.

Monday, June 22, 2015

A Cinderella Story

My life is just like a fairy tale. Perhaps Cinderella.

Except for the castle. And the ugly stepsisters and stepmother. And sleeping by the fire, though that has happened on occasion (my choice). I have cats, so no mice running around as friends. The huge estate is a mere city lot. And both of my parents are still alive.

I do have the prince. I suppose I could also say I have a castle. At least my home is a castle to me.

But the prince? He's my high school sweetheart.

Today, Monday, June 22, we celebrate 30 years of marriage.

30 years ago today, we:

~ dressed in our fancy wedding clothes and said our vows

~ celebrated with friends and family

~ began our life journey together as best friends, both literally and metaphorically

~ drove off into the sunset of our first trip as husband and wife, headed south to Disneyland for our honeymoon

~ embraced a marriage that would eventually lead us through circumstances of thick and thin, sick and healthy, rich and poor, tired and energized, messy and spruced up, stretch marked and scarred, hot flashing and temp wars, graying and balding, fighting and making up

~ stepped out on the road of beginning a family, a path that has blessed us with two adult children and their spouses, and four exceedingly wonderful and gorgeous grandbabies

My. I can't imagine being old enough to be married 30 years.

But I guess I am.

It's been wonderful, my love. And crazy, scary, challenging, difficult, amazing, fantastic...

You are Mickey Mouse to my Minnie.

Looking forward to another 30 years with my best friend.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Welcome, Little One ~ Baby Gage Makes His Appearance

Welcome, Baby Gage!

Last stop before the hospital...

William Gage Aucutt was born at 12:37 PM on Friday, June 12, 2015, to a happy mama and proud daddy. Not to mention ecstatic brother, sister, nanas, papas, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Mama preferred rocking during labor.

Mama and Baby Gage Burrito. The long wait is over.

Happy Nana with grand number 4. "This is Nana, Baby Gage, NANA." (Never too early to start teaching them my name.)

Daddy and his third little munchkin.

Baby Gage was 21 inches long at birth.

We were all shocked at his weight - 9# 1.4 oz. Daddy was closest on our labor room poll.

Excited and somewhat dazed brother and sister.

There were 2 proud grandmas in that room!

Papa and his boy. Here comes another foot tattoo.

The poll, conducted and revised twice before Gage actually appeared. Mommy was closest to time of birth and Daddy nearest to Gage's actual birth weight.

Congratulations, Aucutt family. Congratulations us.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Thankful Thursday ~ Brought to You By the Letter Qq

Welcome to my favorite letter ~ Qq!

At least that is what I told my students. It sure helped them connect Qq with Mrs. Quantrell.

I do have lots of favorite letters though, about 26 of them. Qq just happens to be an important part of my family.

Some things that begin with Qq for which I am thankful:

~ Mr. Quantrell - 30 years of fantastic married life with my man coming up on Monday, June 22.

~ Quantrell's! (We do have rather a large clan.)

~ all the little Quantrell's (Hayden, Khloe, Donavyn, Gage and their parents Chelsie and Collin, Taylor and Jamie), though their last name may be different than Quantrell

~ quarters - the fastest way to get to a dollar

~ quail with their cute topnotches

~ quiet (see above - quiet is an important commodity)

~ quilts, oh so colorful and cozy

And that about wraps up the list of Qq words of things I would share on a thankful list. Not too many words or things begin with Qq, which makes Qq that much more special.

Have a quonderful day!

PS Do you have something that begins with Qq for which you are thankful?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Monday Tea with Me (on Wednesday)

Baby Gage sneak preview!


Due to many circumstances, some wonderful, some irritating and frustrating, I haven't been able to blog for a week!

I KNOW. I missed you.

Today, let's have tea. I have been dying to share tidbits with you. Grab a cup. Remember, I share, you share. I'd love to hear about your week.

1. The number one priority - Baby Gage has arrived! All 9 pounds 1.4 ounces of him. I shall blog about him on Friday and share photos. Of course, Nana has to do that. Do you have any new additions to your family?

2. I've spent the last two days trying to figure out computer and internet problems. Yesterday was the worst day with my time spent on the phone with tech help (I might add that Chasity at Costco Concierge was delightful, while Dell tech was not and hung up on her). I tried several strategies, from restore to virus scan. Nothing worked. Last night, I even lost the internet. Period. But this morning, ta-dah, I was able to easily get online and do what I needed. I know God worked a miracle overnight, because I went to bed with a non-working computer and no internet access. What's your biggest tech frustration?

3. Kevin survived a bumblebee in his helmet! We were on a short motorcycle ride out the North Fork Ahtanum Road west of Yakima. His visor was up so he could enjoy the cool mountain pine-scented air. And a bumblebee. He calmly drove on after he saw a bee wandering just outside his peripheral vision and heard buzzing. He pulled over at the next available safe spot. I jumped off and that's when we realized it was a giant bumblebee. Who immediately dropped down and flew off. Whew. Any other bee stories out there?

4. Raspberries are on, and they are oh so yummy. I love them fresh off the bushes. What's your favorite raspberry treat?

5. Getting ready to rip out a sage bush (the herb). I've come to the conclusion that nobody needs two, when one provides more than any family can use. Plus the extra one is taking up raised bed space. Sage, anyone?

6. Right in the middle of two grands and a great-niece (holy cow, I have a great niece) being dropped off yesterday, the cats (always on cue for chaos) brought in a dead bird. I am glad it was dead, or I would have had to chase it around the house trying to keep two kitties from destroying everything. As it was, I had to hold off the cats, especially Mabel who was trying to steal it from Monet, while I yelled for paper towels. The guts were gone, so I suspect that Monet found it dead, snitched it from someone else, or previously ate out the belly parts. ICK.

7. I personally trimmed the three birch trees in the front yard. Do you know how much a birch tree grows in one year? Enough to block visibility from our driveway and keep big trucks from parking. I do miss the privacy, but it is much easier to be safe now.

8. Bladder infection. Again. I should be on speed dial with the doctor. I told him they need a home test kit. Then I could take it at home (because I do KNOW the symptoms) and text the results in, which would let me avoid an appointment (this one being one where I was checked OUT instead of IN by the receptionist and I sat for 30 minutes before I asked what was going on - meanwhile Papa was on lunch break with the three amigos, forced to wear a crown while he made lunch).

9. Finished a writing deadline. Just in time to help Baby Gage make his appearance and cut the cord.

10. I have slept in all three beds in my house over the last week. Yes. Amazing fact. Most of those nights were accompanied by small children with long, long arms and legs.

How about you? Time for your sharing. Thanks for having tea.