Stumptown Coffee Celebration

STUMPTOWN COFFEE

Portland, Oregon

Celebrating 14 years of serving coffee

 

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Happy Thanksgiving

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing you Great Food and Fun Times

With Great Friends in Fun Places

 

Dragon Fruit

 

Bright pink “Dragon Fruit” is an intriguing produce that has started showing up in local grocery stores.Dragon Fruit

I saw Dragon Fruit for the first time last year.  Even at the $9.99 price per pound, which seemed outrageous to me, I was intrigued.

When I saw this fruit again – in abundance –  in the markets in San Francisco’s China Town (and for a much lower -more reasonable price)  I decided I needed to give it a try.Dragon Fruit

Dragon Fruit

This exotic fruit MIGHT be worth the price, right?! I chose a small specimen -partly to save money, but also because- I might not like it and it might not be worth the price.

Dragon Fruit

It is easy to work with – peeling, scooping or dicing; and a very pretty pink to add to a salad or over yogurt etc.

Dragon Fruit

Other than the bright pretty pink color, I am not impressed! The flavor is mild and nothing to sing about. The texture is something akin to a dense kiwi.  In my opinion, unless it proves to have super nutritious powers, it isn’t worth adding to anything – especially at the going rate. Perhaps if the price comes down –a lot! it might be fun. . .

 

 

 

But here is some interesting information on this strange -looking exotic “Dragon” fruit:

It is also known as Pitaya or Pitaha.  It is the fruit of several cactus species.  There are three varieties: a red-skinned with pink flesh; red-skinned with white  flesh  and  yellow-skin with white flesh.

Dragon Fruit Dragon Fruit

 

 

St Petersburg – Scandinavia Cruise

 Cruising Scandinavia and the Baltic

 

On to  St. Petersburg, Russia, for two days!   

Part 1

St Petersburg- Scandinavia Cruise

This city has been on my bucket list for at least 15 years.

After our visit,  I’ve decided it was good to be the Tsar (or Tsarina) because life was miserable for everyone else. I would have had to be a Tsarina!  The difference between the royalty and everyone else was staggering. One can easily see how the peasants decided to overthrow the Tsars but I don’t think they realized that communism would be even more oppressive.

I’m splitting this into 3 different posts – this first one is just scenes around St. Petersburg. Some are views from our river cruise on the Neva River in the heart of the city.

St Petersburg- Scandinavia Cruise

St Petersburg- Scandinavia Cruise

St Petersburg- Scandinavia Cruise

St Petersburg- Scandinavia Cruise

St Petersburg- Scandinavia Cruise

St Petersburg- Scandinavia Cruise

Guest Author: Vicki L

Let’s Eat Cake! . . . Epic Failure?

 Let’s Eat Cake!

The challenge: Bake one cake a month. Take photos during the process or at least of the finished product. Tell us about the experience and share the photos. Then EAT the CAKE!

In a totally RANDOM drawing done on behalf of each participant by Mr. Tommy, the first round of recipes have been picked and handed out.

First up:

Let's Eat Cake. . .or Not

Yellow Layer Cake with Chocolate-Sour Cream Frosting

Are you ready to eat cake? Let’s get started!

 Ok – here ya go!!!  I was laughing so hard during this!  My helper was complaining that she couldn’t take pictures because I was making her laugh, too.  It was hilarious!

I bought two sets of new cake pans to start this adventure!  I have two “old” pans – don’t even know if they’re nine inch or eight inch.  I needed three rounds for this cake (each split in half so I’d end up w/6 layers), and I wanted to make sure they were all the same size, etc.

Let's Eat Cake . . . or NotThe cake batter was easy to make and I thought it turned out good – fluffy and good consistency.  The cakes took a little longer to bake than the recipe said, and ended up with “crispy” edges – kinda like when there’s too much butter in a chocolate chip cookie and it spreads and gets crispy (?) – so I didn’t adjust for altitude, and I think that I should’ve added more flour (live and learn)!  When the cakes were cooled and I cut them in half, it seemed like the “tops” were bigger than the bottoms, but I wasn’t comfortable trimming around the edges – the cake seemed too “crumbly”.

The frosting recipe was a sour cream chocolate icing – you mix it up and let it get thicker in the fridge as it cools (recipe called for 30 minutes).  Well, I let it set all afternoon and finally decided it was probably as thick as it was going to get.

So. . . I put the first layer on the cake stand, topped it with the icing, smoothed it to the edge, put the second  layer on, topped it with icing, smoothed it to the edge, then the third, etc., etc.  By the time I got to the fifth layer, things were obviously off-kilter and leaning towards one side.  I tried to smoosh everything back to the other side without making too much of a mess – there was a little movement in the right direction, but obviously not enough. Let's Eat Cake . . . or Not I went ahead and put the final layers on and noticed how uneven the layers were (as in, the edges of the layers were radically not even).  I thought I was being careful when placing the cake layers on each time, but I think the spreading of the icing created movement that made everything crooked.  The picture on the recipe doesn’t have the sides of the cake frosted, but I had lots of extra frosting, and thought that maybe I could hide some of the unevenness if I threw some frosting on the side (obviously not!).

Let's Eat Cake! . . . or NotThen there was more movement and I hollered that we needed to cut a piece quick!  and get it on a plate. We grabbed a dessert plate and cut a slice and rushed to get a picture of the inside of the cake on the stand.

Let's Eat Cake . . . or NotThen while we were taking a picture of the slice on the plate, the whole cake just started cracking and sliding so I grabbed a cookie sheet for it to fall on – it was hysterical at this point – a slow (but kinda quick as it gathered momentum) mudslide.

Let's Eat Cake . . . or Not

Let's Eat Cake . . . or NotLet's Eat Cake . . . or Not

Wow.  I think the frosting was too “slick” – maybe more powdered sugar?  But I didn’t want to mess with it too much when I was making it – the picture looked like it was very glossy and not too thick with powdered sugar.  Now I know!

None of us were big fans of the taste of the cake, either.  I’ll get the “boys” opinions tonight.  – It had a tang or sourness that’s a little unpleasant.  Which is surprising to me, because I love tangy/sour things – I love buttermilk and sour cream.  But, not so much in this recipe!  What a way to start the cake challenge!  Geesh!

OMG!  It was fun though, and I enjoyed the experience, and the girls and I got a good laugh!  🙂

It’s OK if you start with the epic failure – we can only get better from here!  By the way, neither of the “boys” liked the taste of the cake either – both cut a large-ish slice and neither finished.  It looks like it should be good – it’s just not.  🙁  

Recipe: Epicurious.com

Cake Image:  Stephen Lewis

 

Let’s Eat CAKE!

It’s CAKE TIME!  Let’s Eat CAKE!

…at least once a week

….isn’t that what Betty Crocker, (or was it Duncan Hines or Pillsbury?) led us to believe? 

Works for me!

Somewhere along my journey from childhood, it may have been programmed into me, but I have become convinced that the proper homemaker provides the family with a luscious layer cake every week. Let's Eat Cake!

It hasn’t happened for me….yet.  It remains a standard for me to live up to and now…. we are going to eat cake!

I’ve always been attracted to pictures (& recipes) of pretty cakes. As a child, I would linger over the lovely pictures in the cake section of my mother’s Betty Crocker Cook Book… drooling, dreaming, and wishing I could taste them;

Cake Time! wishing even more, I could actually MAKE one of them – so pretty, they had to taste good too! I never actually made any of the fancy ones (Sunburst cake, or Pink Cake or Queen Elizabeth Cake, or….)

We always made a tried & true ‘safe’ cake  – usually the ‘quick cake’ which was quick – and easy – sort of a ‘dump cake’  – and eaten fresh and hot out of the oven with chocolate syrup drizzled over it….. mmmm…that was actually really good! Still… not the same as I imagined the fancy frosted layer ‘party’ cake would be. Not that I didn’t try once in awhile. Determined to make the ‘perfect’ chocolate layer cake, I would end up with a lopsided, drooping, sagging sorry excuse for a layer cake.

So – when I came across a collection of recipes on the internet for lovely layer cakes (with pretty pictures!) I wanted to make them ALL – so luscious and so enticing! (don’t you just luv the internet? -all those delightful recipes!!)

Let's Eat Cake!

Knowing it would take me a LONG time to make them all, I challenged a few fans (& relatives) to join me in raising the bar and striving to be the proper homemaker with a weekly cake. Realizing that one a week for each of us still might be a bit much in our busy lives (and healthy lifestyles), we decided a one-a-month each would work.

And so it starts – a random drawing of a recipe each month for each of us and we have: One Cake A Week! (Maybe even a Betty Crocker Cake!)

Let the baking begin and . . .

Let’s Eat Cake!

Let's Eat Cake!

 

 

 

Image Credits: General Mills, Betty Crocker.com, Epicurious.com, My Recipes.com

Summer Solstice

Summer Solstice – a traditional time for celebrating

For those in the the Northern Hemisphere, today, (Saturday, June 21) marks the Summer Solstice — the  first official day of summer — when the sun appears highest in the sky, reaching its northernmost point.

Summer Solstice

 Longest Day – Shortest Shadow

This day is also recognized and celebrated as the longest day of year  – the longest hours of daylight for the Northern Hemisphere.

 In ancient China, the summer solstice was observed by a ceremony to celebrate the Earth, femininity, and the “yin” forces (complementing the winter solstice that celebrated the heavens, masculinity and “yang” forces.) According to Chinese tradition, the shortest shadow is found on the day of  summer solstice – also known as the longest day.

Summer Solstice The Summer Solstice in the northern hemisphere is a traditional time for celebrating Nature’s bountifulness. Fruits are swelling with growth and flowers are blooming.  Twilight  lingers late  into the summer evening. If you can, get in touch with Gaia’s nurture by spending some outdoor time and breathing in her beauty.  If you have a celebration planned with friends, more’s the better!  What does the Solstice chart say about this summer quarter? — read more at Mind Body Spirit Astrology.)

In some parts of the United States, events that focus on the theme of the summer solstice are held:  local festivals featuring art or music; environmental awareness activities that focus on using natural sunlight as a source of energy; and family gatherings (especially pool parties and cookouts)

In the north, it is the time of the midnight sun – when the sun never dips below the horizon. Midsummer festivals with bonfires and feasts celebrate the summer and the fertility of the Earth.

In Poland, thousands of lanterns are launched Summer Solstice  for a Magical Midsummer celebration.

 

 

 

 

Summer Solstice

 

 

In southern England, thousands flock to Stonehenge, a 5,000-year-old site on the Salisbury Plain  to celebrate the the June solstice. Some people believe that Stonehenge was built to help ancient people know when the solstice arrived.. Interestingly, the sun rises at a particular point on the horizon as viewed from the centre of the stone circle on day of the June solstice.

 

At the ancient megalithic observatory  of Kokino, the sun rises from a rocky crest filled with astronomical stone markers.  This 3,800-year-old observatory  in the northwestern town of Kumanovov 70 km (43 miles) north of Skopje, Macedonia, is ranked the 4th oldest observatory in the world according to NASA

Summer Solstice

 How do you celebrate?

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Resources:

http://www.mindbodyspiritastrology.com

http://www.ibtimes.com/summer-solstice-2014-5-facts-know-about-first-day-summer-1606440

http://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/june-solstice-customs.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Natural Pools

Natural Pools: A Beautiful Self-Sustaining Swimming

Pool Ecosystem for Your Yard

Natural Pools

Natural pools provide clean, safe, non-chemical swimming within a self-sustaining ecosystem. delighting the senses and providing health benefits to the body.

These pools rely entirely on the plants and animals to condition the water. This is so effective that this pool has been tested and shown to be of drinking water quality. Also, through the continual natural “cleaning process” the pool water never needs changing, saving water. It’s chemical free so it is healthy for people and wildlife alike. It’s truly wild Swimming at home. Would you get one?

“Swimming in natural water is a delight to our senses. Your skin and hair feels soft and your eyes don’t sting. It seems as if, every cell in your body is telling you – this is the way swimming should be.” -David Pagan Butler

 

Here are some free plans to build your own: Mother Earth News 

From:  The Mind Unleashed

 

Freaky Friday Full Moon?

A Night to Howl!

 Freaky or Fascinating?

I go for fascinating! This a is fun happenstance that won’t happen again for 35 years!

So – Have a ‘Howlin’ good time with this Friday the 13th Full Moon!

 

Full Moon Photo: The Mind Unleashed

 

Knee Deep In June

June is Bustin’ Out All Over!

Knee Deep in June

This delightful song from the musical, Carousel, always comes to mind this time of year with it’s fun lyrics about the joys of June:

“March went out like a lion – Awakin’ up the water in the bay;
Then April cried and stepped aside,  And along came pretty little May!

May was full of promises …”

Knee Deep in June

Knee Deep in June

…with spring blossoms, movies in the park, end-of-school and graduation celebrations (we joyfully celebrated two Masters’ degrees, a Bachelors’ degree, and that very exciting transition from Elementary School into Junior High!)

,

Knee Deep in June

 

 

 

 

And now?

 

 

Knee Deep in June

June is Bustin’ Out All Over!

“You can feel it in your heart

You can see it in the ground

You can see it in the trees

You can smell it in the breeze

June is bustin’ out all over

All over the meadow and the hill!”  Knee Deep in June

 

 A friend shares this poetic perspective of the joys of June…

“AHH… June… when the fields are green, the flowers bloom, the temperature delightful, the days are long and the cloud formations provide endless hours of entertainment! What a perfect time of year! Reminds me of a poem by one of my favorite poets, James Whitcomb Riley, called “Knee Deep in June”

Knee Deep in June

Knee Deep in June Knee Deep in June

 

 

Peggy E; Alice P; Great Food Fun Places

Knee Deep in June

Musical Carousel

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