Saturday, November 03, 2012

Funniest Day!

Since Leah and I put the sheets in the dryer this morning, but failed to turned the dryer on, I’m waiting up for my sheets to dry before I can go to bed and I thought I’d blog some of the hysterical stuff that happened today!

We went hiking at Manassas Battlefield and I’d been carrying her in the baby backpack.  We’d walked about a mile and I’d been asking her if she wanted to get out but she kept saying no.  Until she said “I have to go potty.”   Oh-no! 

She was wearing a pull-up (she’s had a few accidents lately, but she still uses the potty when she has to even with a pull up on!) and I attempted to negotiate with her to just use the pull up and I’d change it when we got back to the car.  She refused.  Said “I need to use the bushes.”  Ok then. 

I lowered her down, a little faster than I intended and she got scared, but as soon as she was on the ground she started cracking up! I then started trying to get her clothes off.  It was really cold outside so she was dressed in layers.  She was wearing 2 layers of coats, a shirt and 3 layers of pants.  The top layer of pants was overalls.  I got the overalls unhooked without taking off the coats and pulled everything down.  I then realized that at 3 she likely doesn’t have the finesse and aim that I do when I “use the bushes” and she probably couldn’t do it without getting her pants wet.  It was cold and I really didn’t want her to get her pants wet.  So I took them off.  Of course she wasn’t standing still – I managed to get her in the most awkward position – her head was under my arm and I had her mid-section on my lap as a wrestled 3 pairs of pants and a pull up off.  Of course I’d pulled them down already so I had to 1st locate the boots under all the clothes and get them off, then the rest of the pants. 

Now we were ready to learn to pee in the woods.  I modeled and taught the proper stance, however she pulled her legs a little far apart and didn’t squat deeply enough and pee went down her leg! 

She finally said she was done (after taking a few seconds to enjoy the breeze!).  At 1st I attempted to put the pull up and all 3 pairs of pants back on simultaneously.  This did not work.  The top pair of pants went on but the bottom pair got lost.  This is was starting to remind me of something that happened at Starbucks last summer (I can’t seem to find where Susan wrote about that…when I do, I’ll post it).  So I finally had to pull all the pants apart and put them on one at a time.  I got back to the overalls.  I didn’t want to take off the coats (the top coat has a tricky zipper that I didn’t want to fight with again) I managed to thread the left strap through the coats and got it snapped.  The right one was more of a challenge!  I had my hand on one side of the fleece layer and the strap on the other side!  I finally got them connected and got the overalls hooked! 

I sat back and looked at Leah, proud of myself and her for managing a bathroom break!  Then I realized we weren’t done yet, she still didn’t have her boots on! Luckily those were easy!

I told her she had to run to get warm again, but she didn’t seem like she was cold!?!?! 

After our walk we went to Wegmans.  She was getting tired by this point and less cooperative.  I knew what I needed and I know the store like the back of my hand so I was counting on this being fast! I put her in the basket part of the cart so she’d had more room – I felt like she’d been “contained” all day between the car seat & the backpack.  She’d clearly never ridden there and was unsure at 1st, but I think she liked it (Sorry Susan….). 

We made it through the produce section and zipped into the “Nature’s Markeplace” so I could pick up some coconut oil. As we zoomed down the aisle we went past a man who was looking at the shelf trying to decide what he needed.  As we went past Leah yelled “Watch out Little Man!”  I was simultaneously mortified and trying not to crack up.  I finally pulled myself together and said to Leah (so the man could hear me) “The proper term is ‘sir’, we should say ‘Excuse me, Sir’”.  He did smile at her as he past, I couldn’t even look at him.

One of the things on my list was some Always.  When I tossed them in my cart she yelled out “ISSA, WHAT ARE THESE????”.   I explained that Mommy would tell her in about 7 years. 

She proceeded to spend the rest of our time in the store playing with the pack of Always.  They were a pillow, a tray for the frozen peas, and most hysterically, a guitar.  The image of her sitting in the cart riding through the frozen food section playing on her maxi pad guitar, will always crack me up! (pun intended!)  She wasn’t singing though…that would have made it better!

On the way home I couldn’t stop laughing about our Wegmans trip and every time I laughed she asked why I was laughing and I told her it was because she was so funny and then she started fake laughing really hard, which made me laugh harder!

Before all this hilarity we had a few other moments…

At one point in the car she was saying “Hello, Hello, Hello!”  I asked who she was talking to and she said “Hello”.  I said “Who are you saying “Hello to?”  She said “Hello”.   Finally it came out that she had an invisible friend named “Hello.”

She asked about the sun roof, so I opened it and told her it was a window in the roof.  She thought that was hysterical and started talking about other stuff that could go in the roof…like a cow in the roof or a dog in the roof.  This thought process lead to her remembering the song “Turkey in the Straw”, which she knows 1 line of.  "”Turkey in the straw, turkey in the straw, turkey in the straw….”

On our hike was some deer prints.  She concocted a story about the deer that involved the Vikings taking the deer away.   How does she know this stuff? 

What a fun day! My sheets are dry now so I can post this and go to bed! I’m sure she’ll be up early….tonight’s the time change!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Biting off more than I can chew?

I usually spend Sundays cooking up yummy food for the week, it takes me most of the day, but it’s SOOOO worth it!  I’ve come to really love my time in the kitchen as well as the time and effort it takes to obtain quality ingredients.  Today, however, I was cooking up a Fabulous Feast of Fall Foods and it got a little out of hand…

1st up….a batch of applesauce.  Apples from the CSA fruit share, cut, peeled and put in the crock pot!


Next up were the beans for my Pumpkin Chili (I got a cooking pumpkin from the CSA this week and wanted to experiment).  Dry beans are cheaper and better than canned because canned foods contain BPA.  It’s quick and easy to soak/boil your own – just takes pre-planning. 


Finally it was time to tackle the pumpkin!  This pumpkin looked huge sitting on the counter waiting to be cooked!


It’s much easier to cut when you aren’t trying to salvage it for a jack-o-lantern! 


I was so excited that it all fit in the pot to steam!  I steamed it for about 20 minutes.


This next picture is after it was steamed, I know it looks the same as before!  The flesh was all cooked and it was super easy to cut the skin off!


While the pumpkin was steaming I whipped up some Egg Muffins for breakfast this week.  Usually I eat Steel Cut oats that I cook on Sunday and reheat but I have an insane amount of eggs from the farm so I made these.  I hope they are good!  I put mushrooms, broccoli, and green onions in each cup then poured in eggs, with a little milk (like scrambled eggs).


While the eggs were baking I cut the skin off the pumpkin and pureed it in the blender, here’s the finished product!  It was WAY more pumpkin than I needed for my chili (and I used double what the recipe called for too), so I put the rest in a seal-a-meal and froze it, I think I’ll make pumpkin soup in a few weeks!


Finally it was time for lunch!  I made this pasta last night, but it’s one of my favorite dishes these days!  It’s just left over veggies and pasta but it’s yummy! This time I sautéed some mushrooms, eggplant, onions, kale, and cherry tomatoes in about a tablespoon of olive oil.  I cooked the broccoli with the pasta and tossed it all together then put some parmesan cheese on it!


After spending a few hours cleaning out the closet and walking to Giant for more big trash bags, it was time to finish up the cooking! 

1st up was getting the chili started.  I decided to use my Polyface Ground Beef – soooo yummy, it doesn’t taste like meat & it didn’t smell while I cooked it!


While the meat was cooking the applesauce was cooling, I didn’t put any cinnamon in it, just apples in the crock-pot for about 5 hours.


This is a crappy picture of he chili, I meant to take a picture of it in the bowl but I forgot!  The corn is farm fresh as well!  The chili is yummy – the spices and the pumpkin give it a different flavor that is quite yummy!


While the soup was cooling I put together my lunch for tomorrow (this is what I’ll be eating most of the week – I have 2 all day meetings this week which mean I’ll likely eat out those days, boo.  I much prefer eating the yummy stuff I cook than going out!)

This is one of my favorite lunches – 1/2 a baked sweet potato with pecans & salt, salad – mix of 3 types of greens from the CSA (the red container has dressing – just olive oil & balsamic), fresh (still warm) applesauce with cinnamon on top & fat-free Greek Yogurt.  My snack this week will be Bosc Pears from the Farmer’s Market.


Finally, the last thing to do was to roast the pumpkin seeds.  I’ve never liked roasted pumpkin seed but I decided I should try – I could always throw them out after I roasted them!  I must not have had roasted pumpkin seeds done right because the ones I made are AMAZING!  I tossed the seeds with a teaspoon of olive oil, a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, a teaspoon of garlic powder, and a teaspoon of salt.  It took forever to cook them, but it was worth it!!!!!  YUMMMY!


Usually I don’t attempt this many big projects, but I enjoyed the whole day and I’m so happy I have so many yummy, healthy, clean things to eat this week! :-)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Trillium: Just Right!

For many years now I’ve been trying to catch the trillium at the GR Thompson Wildlife Management Area at their peak.  Some years I’m thwarted by high pollen counts, one year I was too late, one year I was too early, but this year, I hit it just right!  Finally!
A few weeks ago my Dad and I were hiking in SNP and we saw a few trillium and that made me realize that the trillium are out and now would be a good time to get out to the WMA and check them out. 
I didn’t want to go on a weekend & I had weekend plans so I decided to just go out after school on Fri and take an evening hike.  I’m at a new school this year and I’m way on the western side of Fairfax County which makes getting out to hike very easy. Not only that but my school has an early bell schedule and my contract hours end at 3:00!  I left school at 3:03 and after a quick stop in Linden to get gas I was on the trail by 4:30!
As I was driving up the road I could see the trillium covering the forest floor.  There were millions.  Every spot you looked was covered in trillium!  WOW! 
I drove past 3 parking areas to get to where I wanted to park and didn’t see any other cars.  None. I was going to have the place to myself.  Amazing!
I’d studied the map of the area and read the AT Guidebook but it didn’t seem to match up.  I knew I was going to stay on the AT, but my plan was to hike south a little bit to get to a spot that they’d marked as having trillium and then hike north to Dicks Dome Shelter.  I was excited about hiking to Dicks Dome since a few years ago I hiked to that shelter from Sky Meadows and I’d be completing another section of the AT.  As I hiked south though it wasn’t looking like I thought it would from the map and the book.  So I consulted the map and figured out that I wasn’t where I thought I was.  I appeared that I was about 4 miles from Dicks Dome.  I decided I was closer to the Manassas Gap shelter so I decided to hike there and then back. 
I made it to the shelter pretty quickly and found it empty, which kinda surprised me.  After a quick snack and water break I was on my way back to where I’d started.  As I hiked up the ridge the sun was hitting the trillium and making them even prettier!  I took a lot of pictures! 
There were odd pockets where there weren’t any trillium and then a few feet later there were hundreds.  It was very strange!
Soon I was back at the old road that would lead me back to the car.  It was still early so I decided to keep hiking.  I decided I needed to head back to the car by 6:30 so I wouldn’t get caught out after dark so I set an alarm on my phone and continued hiking north. 
Soon the trail began to climb up the mountain.  I was chugging along up the hill when I heard the distinctive click clack of trekking poles on rocks behind me.  I turned around and there was a lone backpacker gaining on me.  He looked like a thru-hiker, so I asked and sure enough he was!  Usually thru-hikers don’t make it to Northern Virginia until June so he was very early!  I chatted with him as he caught up and then we walked together for a few minutes before he pulled out in front of me.  He was the only other person I saw the whole evening.
Soon I came to a fork in the trail and upon consulting the map I decided that it would be a good stopping point because it would be really easy to find that spot and resume the hike another day.
I quickly hiked back to the car and was quite sad to see my evening with the trillium end. 
I couldn’t just go home so I drove up to the other parking area to check it out and see where I’d go next time.  Finally though I had to call it a night and drive home.
This past Thursday night I was thinking about how much fun my trillium hike had been and realized that the trillium were probably still out and if I went back I could finish the AT through the WMA.  This was very appealing!
Since I didn’t have to get gas and I’d gotten some route tips from my friend Kathy who lives on a mountain in Linden I made it to the trail by 4:15.  That’s right, my desk to the AT in just about an hour.  Amazing. 
This weeks hike wasn’t a “WOW” filled since many of the trillium were fading, but the woods were still filled with them!  The woods in this area aren’t all that interesting on their own so I’m really glad I completed this section of AT with the trillium. 
I’d consulted the map and guidebook and the guidebook was still confusing but I figured that it would be about 2.5 miles one way from the parking area to Dicks Dome so 5 miles round trip.  I’d done 5 mile hikes in about 2 hours so I figured this was doable before dark.
I took a few pictures of trillium but realized that I really didn’t need anymore pictures so actually put the camera away and just walked enjoying the trillium in the moment and enjoying the cool air!
I passed one guy hiking, not sure if he was out for a day hike or backpacking, but he was the only person I saw!  2 hikes on the AT at the height of trillium season and I only saw 2 other people!  WOW. 
The hike into Dicks Dome wasn’t that remarkable, downhill, lots of rocks, pleasant temps.  I was quite surprised to find the shelter empty! Dicks Dome is a cool hexagon shaped shelter and it’s right next to a babbling brook.  Very nice setting!
On the way up from Dick’s Dome I saw one of the other wildflowers the area is known for – showy orchid!  There were bunches of them on the side of the trail!  No idea how I missed them on the way down.  I took a bunch of pictures, but the light was fading by this time and many were out of focus so I ended up deleting them. 
I made it back to the car at 7:15 – so the 5 miles had taken me 3 hours, not as fast as I would have liked, but not bad.   Since there was daylight left I decided to figure out where the AT crossed RT 55 in Linden.  I’d driven RT 55 many times but had never seen where the trail comes down.  Turns out I was looking too close to Linden and it’s further out than I thought.  There’s a nice parking area on both sides of the road so continuing this section as a day hike or even a quickie Friday night hike is very doable!  I looked at the map and figured that with 5 more hikes I could complete the section of AT from US RT 50/Ashby Gap all the way to US 33/Swift Run Gap in SNP!  Pictures from the 1st hike:
GR Thompson WMA: Trillium! 4.20.12
Pictures from the 2nd hike:
GR Thompson WMA: Trillium2 4.27.12

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Jeremy’s Run Snowy Day Hike

Late last week I was having a hard time deciding what to do on Saturday. Should I go for a full day hike?  Maybe I should drive down 95 to check out 2 other RV brands, just for comparisons sake.  Then there’s always game day.  Hmmm…  Then I got an email from Leigh, “my farmer” – he was giving away eggs and having a little open house.  That settled it, even though I couldn’t get the eggs until 11 which would put me getting a later start than I’d like but that was ok!

It was a cold, cloudy morning.  Colder and cloudier than I thought was forecast.  I was feeling optimistic that maybe the predicted winter weather was coming faster and more furiously than forecast (it was forecast to be a very minor event).   It was cold and damp and it seemed that the air was pregnant with snow ready to burst! 

My stop at the farm was busy, but quick – I gathered some late growing lettuce (although upon closer examination it might be broccoli greens), sampled some other random lettuces (only on the farm do you pick a plant and taste it!),  some arugula from the greenhouse, made friends with Angora, one of 2 Great Pyrenees Dogs who keep watch over the crops, seen the inside of the hen house, learned about the beginnings of the season, and picked up a dozen eggs.  Soon I was headed west to Shenandoah.

When I arrived the Ranger at the gate told me that they were closing Skyline Drive at 5:00 because of the forecasted snow and ice.   I quickly realized that this was going to cramp my style – it was already 12:30 and where I wanted to hike was about 20 miles down Skyline Drive! I figured I’d hike in a set amount of time and then turn around.   But first I needed to stop at the “comfort station” at the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center and put on my long underwear – I’m very glad that got left in the car last week!

As I made my way from Dickey Ridge to the Elkwallow Picnic Area there wasn’t much in the way of views.  The entire Massanutten Range was obstructed by clouds!  I thought I saw a few drops of rain hit the windshield, but it was very light.   When I arrived at the Elkwallow picnic area there was a couple and their dogs just heading out and about 5 other cars there! Surprising since it wasn’t the nicest day in everyone’s opinion – I thought it was just about perfect!

Jeremy’s Run is a lovely creek that had a trail alongside it.  The trail takes you deep in the Shenandoah Backcountry.  There's a very nice 13 mile loop that allows you to hike the whole length of the run, that was a little much for today! I hiked the whole loop a few years ago and have been wanting to go and explore just the run since then. It was 1:20 when I left the car, I decided I’d hike down the run until 2:20 and turn around which would put me back at the car before 4 (I was assuming that it would take longer to hike up than down) which would give me plenty of time to get back to the entrance station before 5. 

As I started down the trail I saw a few snowflakes beginning to fall! They were light and few and far between, but still, it was snowing a little!  

The great thing about this trail is you get the downhill part over with first! I hate hiking downhill!  

Just about the time the trail joined up with the run the snow started falling in earnest!  It wasn’t sticking, but it was coming down!  It was also raining/sleeting – I could hear it lightly falling on the leaves!  Soon I came to the 1st stream crossing.  It was an easy crossing, although I was worried about getting my feet wet, it was not the day to be hiking with wet feet!

After the stream crossing the snow was really picking up and it made me wonder if the NPS would close Skyline Drive before 5 since the snow was seeming to come early.   I then began to wonder what would happen if I got “locked” in.  I know that when they close the drive at night during deer hunting season you can call the ranger and they’ll let you out, but a weather closing seemed different.  I knew that during the October snowstorm there were people stuck in the campgrounds and lodges – the ranger told me they’d tried to evacuate everyone but some folks didn’t want to go.  Getting locked in on Skyline Drive in my car with no extra clothes and no extra food/water did not sound like fun.  It did make me think that if I had an RV, it would be fun.  It would almost be like finding a loophole for winter camping in Shenandoah!  If I  had an RV I’d prob drive it when I went hiking because it needs to be driven to keep it healthy.  If I parked it at a trailhead and then headed out to hike and made sure not to get back until after Skyline Drive had closed (by accident of course…got too far and couldn’t get back) what would they do to me?  I’d just have to make sure the trailhead I’d parked at is one that has good cell coverage so I could email and Facebook! :-) 

Fantasy aside, it’s time to get back to reality! By the time I reached the 2nd stream crossing it was still snowing a lot and it was 2:00.  This spot didn’t look as easy to get across without getting  my feet wet so I decided to turn around 20 minutes early.  

On the way back up it started raining and snowing! My clothes were getting really wet! I was really glad I’d worn my synthetic hiking clothes, I’d considered just wearing jeans! I should have stopped and put on my raincoat, but I knew it would make me hot and the climb up from the run was already doing that!  I was wet inside and out!  But it was a good feeling!

I was about 1/2 way up when I ran into 2 folks hiking down!  They were also out for the day and enjoying the snow!

I got back to the car by 2:45 – it seemed a lot later because it was so dark and cloudy and snowing!  In the picnic area the snow was starting to stick!   Since I was so wet I decided to change into my jeans (I’d brought them because I was going to Wegmans after and though I might want to wear something else then). 

It was now decision time.  I was about 10 miles from the park exit at Thorton Gap, but that was going to mean a longer drive outside the park to get back to Gainsville.  It was 20 miles up Skyline Drive to the Front Royal Entrance.  I was getting even more concerned that they’d close Skyline Drive with me still inside. 

I decided that getting to drive on Skyline Drive when it it snowing is a rare event (12 years I’ve been here – this is the 1st time I’d been out there when it was snowing!) and I should go for it and drive back to Front Royal! 

The drive back was lovely! Snow falling and beginning to fill the woods! No views, at all, just thick low clouds.  Skyline Drive was mostly just wet, but there were a few spots that were snow covered.  There were a lot more cars than I’d expected! 

At the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center it was snowing like crazy and sticking, but about a mile down the road it was snowing and not sticking at all.   By the time I got out of the park (they hadn’t closed the drive) and into Front Royal it was a mix of snow and rain, more rain than snow. 

As I drove east on 66 the temp kept going up and slowly the snow and rain mix became only a gross, disgusting “so close, yet so far away” 37* rain.  Really wishing I had an RV and could have gotten “stuck” on the drive!

Overall though a great day, even if it wasn’t a big hike (only ended up walking 2 miles) and I wasn’t there very long it was a day I’ll remember for awhile! :-)