Tuesday, July 22, 2014

My Paddington Bear Birthday Treasure Hunt

We have been so busy these past couple of weeks enjoying the summer. I am looking forward to sharing about all of our fun outings and activities this week on my blog. This past week was my birthday, and my kids, my son's girlfriend and her sister, and my dear hubby planned such a nice day for me I am excited to share about it.

The morning of my birthday I was told to stay in my bedroom and enjoy a quiet morning with a nice cup of coffee and watch an episode or two of one of my current favorite Netflix shows, Murder She Wrote, while everyone worked on brunch and secret birthday plans.  When everything was ready I was called out to a lovely brunch of bacon and cheesy eggs and my favorite cornmeal pancakes, and a house all decked out in pretty orange and yellow streamers. When brunch was over, I was directed to open a gift sitting next to me and begin my birthday treasure hunt. The first gift was a glow stick princess wand, and I was made queen of the day. :)

Then came the treasure hunt, my family knows I love sleuthing type mysteries, and I LOVE Paddington Bear, so they made the treasure hunt Paddington Bear themed! They found this cute Paddington Bear craft on Pinterest, and used each Paddington Bear to hold a clue. They even made a Paddington Facebook page with a message that was one of the clues! I was very impressed with how creative this was, and I had a very fun time figuring out the clues and following each clue to another destination, each location had a fun present to open and another clue.

Such cute Paddington's!

There were all sorts of goodies, scrapbooking stickers, bubbles, Paddington's favorite- and mine - Marmalade Jam, a fun old western style cap gun (I had been telling them all about the cap guns I used to play with as a kid every summer), some immensely cute miniature dinosaurs, a new flower for my garden, all sorts of fun little goodies, and a very nice birthday card with a special note from all the kids.

A beautiful new orchid for my collection from Gary, and a nice birthday note as well, and then the last clue led me to a very exciting gift- the new camera I had been eyeing! That took some real planning, they had to find the camera on my Amazon account, then use my daughter's Amazon account to order it, and somehow intercept the delivery man without my knowing, and trust me, my two labs make such a fuss when Mr. UPS man arrives that that is pretty tricky, they managed to pull it off, I had no idea, it was quite a surprise. :)

Here's the Amazon link to my new camera, I love the vintage brown color of the camera, and am excited to upgrade my very very old point and shoot to this new one with a lot more features, I look forward to learning how to use all of the new settings.

I had a few other birthday treats as well, a new fox cookie jar that I spotted at Target a couple of weekends ago, and completely fell in love with.

I also went on a pre-birthday shopping trip to stock up on some new drawing supplies to go with a fun new book series called Illustration School, so far there are four books in the series, Illustration School: Let's Draw Happy People, also one of cute animals, then one on plants and small animals, and one about using color. I am very excited to go through these books and work on my drawing a bit.

After my very exciting and fun treasure hunt, we had a fun day enjoying some family movies, croissant sandwiches for lunch, and a trip to a new antique store in town which I will share about in another post, then a nice dinner and a delicious birthday cake with lemon filling- yum! I was really quite pampered, and had an amazing day! To my hubby and all the kids - thank you very much!! What a very special and memorable day!

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                Elizabeth and Co.

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Birthday Outing to Powell's Book Store

Now that my children are older, we celebrate their birthday's by letting them pick a location for a fun outing. My daughter celebrated her birthday earlier this month, and since she absolutely loves books, she decided her birthday outing would be a trip to Powell's City of Books in downtown Portland.

Sarah had been to Powell's before when they went on a tour of downtown Portland for a school field trip, I had only ever been to Powell's smaller locations. I had heard that this bookstore was huge, and we were all looking forward to spending the day exploring. When we arrived I was amazed at the size of this place, it is huge, there are so many rooms of books that we had to use a map, "City of Books" is right! I made sure that the kid's stuck together, and that they could text me what room they were currently in so we could find each other if needed, the rooms have color names, like the Rose Room, or Gold Room, which was very helpful.

The interesting thing about this bookstore, is that it not only sells new books, but also used books, so there are really great bargains on some gently used books, as well as plenty of new books to look through as well. I had fun browsing through some of the older books, and the kids had fun finding many books that were on their want lists, as well as books they hadn't seen before, they both bought a good supply to keep them busy for the rest of the summer. :)

The most interesting room there though had to be the Rare Book Room, what a treat that was! We were able to see some very old books, including books from clear back in the mid 1500's and 1600's, of course those were behind glass with price tags that were just as fascinating (rare books can be incredibly spendy!!). Some of the rare books could be looked through carefully, and we read a few excerpts from some interesting books from the early 1900's, as well as flipped through some old leaflets, and textbooks, and even some vintage coloring books. It was a wonderful treat since we are all book people.

We spent a few hours exploring and then headed to the checkout with a large stack of books. Such a fun place to explore!

I tend to get a little overwhelmed with that many choices, so I took pictures of the books I wanted to consider for later, and only bought two, one was a little Basher's Book for our collection that was on clearance for under $4.00 which I thought was a great find, and the other is a book called Wildwood: The Wildwood Chronicles, Book I, this book takes place in a magical place just on the outskirts of Portland. I was intrigued by this book because of it's local connection, as well as the fact that it takes place in a magical world with talking animals, not unlike Narnia, as well as being similar to books like The Series of Unfortunate Events and The Spiderwick Chronicles, which I really enjoyed reading with my kids when they were younger. I am about a third of the way through and am really enjoying it, the art work in the book is also very well done and really enjoyable. I already ordered the next two books in the series, and am looking forward to reading through this series throughout the summer.

We all had a wonderful time visiting Powell's City of Books, it is definitely a place I would enjoy visiting again. We spent the rest of Sarah's birthday celebration playing games together, and I made her an angel food birthday cake with some vanilla pudding cream and blueberries, topped with some very cute mustache candies that I found, overall a fun celebration. :) Happy Birthday Sarah!!

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Easy Bierocks - German Hamburger and Cabbage Rolls Tutorial

My grandma is a wonderful cook, I fondly remember many of her special meals, one of my favorites was a soft bun, made of bread dough, and filled with a delicious mixture of hamburger and cabbage. My grandma had learned the recipe from one of her neighbors who was from a German family. I learned that these buns are called Bierocks or Runza Meat Pies and have always wanted to make them. Unlike my grandma, who has wonderful bread making skills, I am still a novice in the yeast dough department, so I have always been hesitant to try making them. Then it dawned on me that I could use frozen bread rolls and give this recipe a try after all, they turned out so delicious, and were so easy to make, I thought I'd share my recipe.

Easy Bierocks


1 bag of frozen bread rolls ( I made 20 but there was filling for probably 25)
1 1/2 pound hambuger
1 large diced onion
1 large bag coleslaw shredded mix
Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper

Start by thawing and rising the bread rolls as directed by the package, I set mine out on lightly cooking sprayed parchment paper and covered with lightly cooking sprayed plastic wrap. I let the rolls rise and thaw on my counter for around five to six hours.

When they were thawed and risen I got to work making the filling. I sauteed the chopped onion in a little butter until it was starting to be translucent, then added the hamburger and cooked until browned and cooked through. I drained the grease from the pan, returned the pan to the stove added 1/2 a cup of water and the bag of pre-chopped coleslaw cabbage blend, cook until cabbage has softened and water has evaporated (the water is just there to help steam the cabbage and prevent the browned hamburger from sticking). Add a couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside mixture to cool.

While hamburger mixture is cooling lay out some wax paper and dust with a little flour to roll out buns. I didn't even bother getting out the rolling pin since these were smaller, I used a large plastic cup instead and it worked great. I lightly dusted the top of the bun with flour as well and rolled each bun into a flat disk, refreshing flour as needed. I rolled out about four or five at a time and then would fill them and then roll out more.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop a pile of meat mixture onto flattened bun, fold dough over to form a half circle and press dough shut, I found that rolling and pinching the edge of the roll made a better seal. As you are folding it and pinching the bun in half you can hold it in your hand and when it is half way closed you can tuck in a little more meat mixture and finish sealing, that way they will be nice and full.

Before baking I brushed each roll with melted butter, then baked at 350 according to frozen roll bag, until they were golden brown, for about 20 minutes.

When they came out of the oven I brushed on another layer of melted butter over the hot rolls, then let them cool for about five minutes. I baked ten per tray in two batches.

These rolls were delicious, the filling was just as I remembered and the bread was delicious and buttery, by the end of the evening all twenty were gone! The whole family loved them, and these will definitely be on our menu rotation from now on.

Thanks for stopping by!

You might be interested in reading about our recent outing to a natural soda spring out in the cascade foothills - Our Day Hike to Wilhoit Springs 

 Hope everyone is having a nice summer week!

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Our Day Hike to Wilhoit Springs

July is one of my favorite months, the weather is beautiful, and I love the relaxed days of summer vacation. We have been having a really fun time so far this summer with various day outings. This past week I was so eager to finally explore an off the beaten path, historical location, that has been on my "places to explore" list for a couple of years now - Wilhoit Springs.

In the center of our small town a few years back I noticed this mural and wondered where Wilhoit Springs was, I love history and local history is especially interesting, so I got to Googling and learned a little bit about this historical site. Wilhoit Springs is the site of natural soda and mineral water springs, it is located about twenty minutes or so outside of Molalla, Oregon. Even though it is only twenty minutes outside of town it really feels like the middle of nowhere, out in the middle of the woods! The drive is stunning with beautiful views the entire time.

Wilhoit Springs was developed as a spa and resort in the late 1800's and was open until the early 1920's, there was a hotel and bathhouse, and people would come to enjoy the waters which were thought to have medicinal properties. The hotel eventually burned down and was replaced by a log building and cabins and a pavilion. For whatever reason it became a less popular destination and when another fire broke out and destroyed the larger log hotel is was never replaced, the resort fell into disrepair and then a wind storm in the 1960's finished the majority of the old buildings off. Ownership has changed hands over the years and now it belongs to Clackamas County and is finally being maintained as a lovely rustic park.

We took the kids along with my son's girlfriend and her sister, everyone was eager to explore when we arrived. 

This water pump sign leads the way to the springs.

The park is surrounded by beautiful trees.

The air is so fresh, the trees were covered in lichen and moss in the most beautiful shades of green.

The walk to the spring is very short along a nicely maintained path. The mineral spring was a hand pump but it was covered and not in use, the soda spring is basically a covered hole in the ground and you can just lift off the top to access the water.

The water was clearly bubbly, and you could see bubbles coming up from below. The rusty color is from the minerals and iron in the water.

We wanted to give the water a try so we brought a pitcher and some cups. We were a little trepidatious to try water from a hole in the ground, but were all interested to see what it was like.

We all tried a sip or two, it was definitely bubbly, just like any sparkling mineral water might be, but it was not very tasty, it was very minerally and salty and overall pretty weird tasting. I am a big fan of mineral water but this would need some filtering before it would be palatable. :)

In addition to tasting the water we poured it over our hands and arms and such, as well as stuck our arm down in the spring to feel the bubbles, the water felt very nice, it was cold and the bubbles felt nice, and it left our skin feeling nice and soft. I can see why people would have wanted to soak in it.

Overall it was really interesting to see sparkling water coming right out of the ground, and a fascinating thing to explore.

After we were done checking out the springs we decided to explore the surroundings a bit, there was a beautiful little stream surrounding the park covered by lots of greenery and overhanging trees.

We found an old bridge that went over the stream and at first didn't look like it led anywhere, the trail had been largely overgrown and was rather muddy.

The boys found a way through, then cut some of the brambles back so we could all make it through. The path led to a beautiful open area surrounded completely by trees with the sun shining through the leaves, it was very pretty. At the same time though it was also a little freaky, cougar reports have been in the news recently quite a bit, and this is definitely cougar territory. It is also Sasquatch territory! ;)

I decided it would be best for us to stick together just in case, and we didn't go too far down the path since we hadn't packed correct gear for a longer hike. So we headed back to the main park area to explore in a slightly safer area.

There were beautiful flowers here and there, we also spotted quite a few little garter snakes winding through the grass.

We spotted this wonderful yellow fungus peeking out of the grass.

Salmonberries were growing throughout the park, I remember eating these on camping trips as a child, the air smelled of fresh warm berries.

We were able to walk down to the stream in one area and check out the pebbles and dunk our toes in the cool water.

There was something beautiful to see around every corner.

The only thing remaining of the old resort aside from the foundation around the spring and pumps was this set of stone steps covered in moss and surrounded by overgrown grass. It is amazing how nature can reclaim a space, and leave only a hint about what was once there.

Everyone enjoyed the outing, we all decided that it would be the perfect place to bring a picnic.

On the drive home we had quite the treat of seeing a little family of deer, we slowed down the van so they could make their way off the road. This little fawn decided to run the other way, and mama deer had to be very brave and walk back into the road to coax the fawn to join the group, you could tell she was nervous to walk in front of our stopped van but the urge to get her baby was more important, it was so sweet to see that. The picture doesn't show it very well, but the fawn was so cute with it's spots, it was very darling.

Exploring Wilhoit Springs was a great summer outing, I would encourage anyone who lives in the area to check it out. You can read more about Wilhoit Springs on Wikipedia's Wilhoit Springs Link, an article from Offbeat Oregon History, and an article from Dunton Farms  whose ancestors owned the property at one point. 

We are looking forward to many more day trips throughout the summer. 

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         Elizabeth and Co.