Saturday, June 30, 2012

Our Day in Astoria

We just got back home from a wonderful little beach vacation, and had a fun few days exploring and playing along the northern Oregon coast.  I thought I would break up our trip into two posts, so here is post number one of our trip to the beach.

We arrived in Seaside, Oregon on Tuesday afternoon, we got the van unpacked, and the dogs settled, and finished up dinner in time to head on down to the beach and watch the sun set.

It is so relaxing to sit on the beach and watch the sun go down.

When the sun was just about down we decided to spend a little time playing in the shallow waves, the water was nice, I love watching the waves roll in.  Perfect way to spend the evening of our first night of vacation.

Wednesday morning we had plans to explore Astoria, Oregon, about half an hour away from Seaside.  Our first stop was the Astoria Column.  The drive through Astoria to get to the Astoria Column is great, lots of interesting old houses.  When we arrived at the column, which sits 600 feet above sea level on Coxcomb Hill, the view was stunning.  Below is a replica of an Indian burial canoe that is at the park.

Sarah and Joseph had been to the Column with their youth group a couple of years ago, but it had been close to 18 years since I had been.  

The column overlooks the mouth of the Columbia River.  It was cool seeing the mouth of the Columbia river, since only a week and a half ago we took a Father's Day trip to Multnomah Falls and drove along the Columbia River quite a bit further east.

Here is a picture of a pretty amazing looking bridge between Washington and Oregon.

And here is the Astoria Column.  This Column is 125 feet tall, and is painted with a pictorial frieze of Astoria's history, from it's beginning as a Native American village to the arrival of the railroad and settlers.  You can climb 164 steps to the top.

Sarah and Joseph had no problems, and went right on up ahead of Gary and I.  Physically it was no problem for me, but mentally was a whole other story, I am not too fond of heights, and looking up and down the stairs as I climbed higher was a little freaky.  Thank goodness there were landings every so often so I could stop and gather myself a bit.

The stairs are the sort that you can see under as you are walking up, a constant reminder that you are quite high with only a small metal stair holding you up.  Yikes!  Thankfully Gary hung back and walked up slowly with me, reassuring me that the stairs were very sturdy. (Thanks Gary!)

We finally made it to the top, and the view was amazing.  I will admit though, my back was hugging the column for most of my time up there, the edge was a bit much for me, and every time the kids would go and lean on it, a wave of panic would creep up.  After a few minutes though, I was much better and able to enjoy the view.  You could see Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier in the distance.

A friendly woman offered to take our picture as a family, and we took one of her and her son.  Here we all are at the top of the column.

We got a great view of a cargo ship passing under the bridge while we were at the top of the column.

Climbing down was much easier, and we made it back down to ground level in no time.  The Astoria Column climb was fun, and even though it was a little scary as far as heights go, it was well worth it, and I look forward to visiting again.

Afterward, we browsed through the gift shop a bit, and I found a pamphlet of other interesting places to visit in Astoria.   One of the places I was interested in was a historic house we noticed on the way to the column- The Flavel House, so that was where we were headed next.

On the way we were surprised by a deer crossing the road right in the middle of a neighborhood.  We all thought it was hilarious that the deer carefully crossed right at the crosswalk!

Here is the Flavel House Museum.  Once Home to Captain George Flavel, built as his retirement home in 1884-85.  A beautiful Queen Anne style home.

Outside of the home was a huge tree, you can see how big the trunk is compared to Sarah and Joseph.  The gardens surrounding the house were very pretty.

The porch had a lot of neat detail, and you could imagine the original family and their guests enjoying it.

Inside the house we could only take non flash pictures, so most of my pictures came out very dark.   The woodwork throughout the home was very nice, you can see the detail on this door.  One picture I couldn't capture were two huge dark wood pocket doors that would close off the parlor and sitting rooms.

There were lots of really great rooms in this house,  I thought this little room with the desk would be a great writing and reading room.

The ice box was interesting to imagine using.

I don't often take pictures of bathrooms, but I thought this wooden toilette was picture worthy (and oops my flash did go off on this one, I forgot to reset it after I had turned it off then on again) this was a single toilette room.

Here is the larger bathroom, the tub was beautiful, but I'm not sure how comfortable the metal would be.

Here is the wooden toilette in the bigger bathroom, it was the water closet style of flushing toilette, I think it is  great that they even made the bathrooms so pretty with all the nice woodwork.

The stairs were beautiful, we all enjoyed exploring all the rooms of this house.

The antique furniture was fun to see too, I took a picture of this sewing box, I thought it would be a great idea, I am always bringing my hand sewing to the couch to work on while I watch TV, and am always balancing my supplies on the arm of the couch or the end table, this would be a handy sewing box to have, it had a couple of compartments inside and opened from each side as well.

I am glad we decided to tour Flavel house, we love exploring old buildings.

Astoria has been the filming location of many movies, Short Circuit, Kindergarten Cop, Free Willy, and more, as well as one of my favorite 1980's movies The Goonies.  I grew up watching The Goonies, and I knew Astoria was its filming location, but I didn't realize you could visit some of the movie locations.  So that was our next stop.

Right across the street from The Flavel House (which is also shown in The Goonies) is The Oregon Film Museum.  This building was once The Clatsop County Jail from 1914-1976, and was the location of the jail break scene at the beginning of The Goonies.

A friendly worker stopped on her way out to take our family picture in front of the old jail.

The museum workers let Sarah and Joseph close the jail door for a fun picture.

Inside were a few movie set replicas, like Data's costume.  It was also interesting walking around the old jail, such tiny rooms!  They also had an area set up with real film cameras and green screens and little movie sets to make your own movies.  We had some fun with that, then found some fun Goonies T-shirts for Sarah and Joe in the gift shop.

We then drove to the house used in The Goonies.  We walked up the gravel driveway, along with other people visiting, for a weekday they had a pretty steady stream of people walking up to visit, it must be interesting to live in a house that thousands of people visit.

Here is a picture of The Goonies House.

The kids took Gary and my picture in front of the house.

Here is a picture of Sarah and Joseph at the Goonies house.  That evening we had fun watching The Goonies movie, I had brought our Goonies DVD, it was fun spotting all of the locations that we had seen that day.

One last view, and we were off to our next location.

We left Astoria and went to explore Fort Stevens historic area and Clatsop Beach.  I will share about that part of our trip as well as the rest of our trip in my next post.

We had a lot of fun in Astoria, and will definitely visit again, we saw lots of other places we hope to explore on future trips.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Late June Garden 2012

Late June is when our garden really gets going, this is the first year I have grown peas. I only grew a couple of small tubs this year, to see how they would do.  I was excited to see some pretty white pea blossoms over the last couple of weeks.  I love the shape of the leaves as well as the blossoms, and I love how the tendrils wind around the pole, what a great plant!

We are now starting to get little pods, and you can see the little peas starting to take shape, I am really looking forward to their harvest, I haven't shelled peas for quite some time.

The tomatoes are also blossoming, and starting to get a little taller, I think they are looking forward to a little more heat.

Another new addition to the garden- my little green onions. I love cooking with green onions, and had I known they were so easy to grow I would have been growing them all along, I am ordering more onion seeds to plant another pot full, they are doing very well.

My squash was very slow starting this year, and I actually had to replant them, finally they came through, and I was relieved, this variety below is a new variety that is supposed to be lime green, it will be interesting to see what it turns out like.

The pepper plants are doing good, I am looking forward to the jalapeno poppers and stuffed bell peppers later this summer.

I ran out of garden bed space, so my old cracked wheelbarrow, which held bachelor buttons last year, is now home to a small planting of lima beans, I look forward to seeing if I can get these to grow to maturity.

I have had a little trouble with the green beans this year, I have replanted the bare spots, but I have a feeling this might be it for the season, I have grown this variety for over a decade and I have never had a bad batch.  I did rotate them to a new bed this year, and I guess they just don't like it.

The bed right next to the sparse green bean bed above is also a variety of bean, I grew it as an experiment, and it is doing much better than my standard variety.  This variety is a purple bean, they grow just like a green bean, but the pod is supposed to be purple.  When you cook the beans, apparently they turn green, and taste just like a regular bean.  The stems are a darker purple color, and they are doing very well.  So although I may not have many typical green beans this year, we will hopefully have some funky purple ones, which I am very excited to watch grow. :)

I am also looking forward to starting another new gardening project inspired by my latest library visit.  I have checked out a book about growing micro greens, and it sounds like a fun project that you could grow for a large part of the year, and can even grow indoors.  I'm not sure how practical they are for feeding a family, but apparently they are packed with nutrients, and I think they would be fun on salads.

The book I checked out is called Microgreens How to Grow Natures Own Superfood written by Fiona Hill you can read more about it at my Amazon link below.  I would love to know if anyone else has experimented with micro-greens.

This week we are catching up on some household projects, as well as going on a few summer outings, so my fairy tale post will be delayed a few more days.  I am hoping to be all caught up with both last weeks and this weeks fairy tales by this weekend.

Have a great week!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Our Fairy Garden 2012 and a Fairy Book List

Last year we took part in The Magic Onions Fairy Garden contest. We had so much fun putting together our little fairy garden last year, that we definitely wanted to make another one this year.  Here is a link to view Our Fairy Garden 2011  .  This year we kept a few of our favorite bits from last years garden, and added a few new special things, as well as some very fun plants that we had quite a fun time picking out at the garden center.  Here's how it turned out.

We chose to include colorful and interesting plants this year, like bright pink snapdragons, celosia, and coleus  as well as some very fun ornamental spiral grass and a bed of corsican mint.

Earlier this year my hubby was helping his great aunt move, and she passed along some fun garden ornaments to us, one of the items was this cute little fairy planter, we knew right away it would make the perfect magical fairy fountain.  We planted corsican mint around it, and added some rocks decorated with peridot green glitter.  We love corsican mint, it is a lovely little ground cover that smells wonderfully minty, it is fun to brush your hand over it to release the minty smell.  We used to grow large patches of it in our old garden, our current garden gets too much Labrador foot traffic, so it should be much safer in the fairy garden.

We kept our seating from last year, and added a tree stump table, as well as a stand for the lantern.  Behind the seating area are the celosia which look like a bright forest. We still have our fairy gazing ball and added a brown glittery rock.

Scattered through the garden are little flags made from bits of scrapbook paper, glued onto twigs (which I gleaned from last years Christmas tree, and have on hand for crafting)  I covered them in clear packing tape to hopefully protect them from our Pacific Northwest rain.

Here is the spiral ornamental grass we found, which we knew was a must for the fairy garden.  The grass is very sturdy and it is amazing how it spirals.  Hidden behind it is a decorative garden rock with a Celtic band design around it, sort of a nod to Stonehenge.  ;)

Lastly, we have a little garden area, where the fairies can tend the Snapdragons, with all the garden tools needed.  I am hoping to use my new wood burner to make a "Beware of Snapdragons" sign.  I think snapdragons are one of the funnest flowers for children, it's so fun to make them talk!

I thought it would be fun to glitter some rocks for the fairy fountain area, the process is very fun and easy.  Clean and dry your rocks, then using a sponge brush, apply a layer of Mod Podge, then sprinkle with fine glitter, I use Martha Stewart's fine glitter but any fine glitter will do.  Let it dry for an hour or so, then top with a layer of Mod Podge, let that dry for and hour then add one last layer of Mod Podge, this will help seal the glitter to the rock, and weather proof it a bit.  A layer of wax paper it the perfect surface to work on so the glue will not stick to the surface.

The peridot green rocks are for the fairy fountain area to blend in with the corsican mint, the blue and brown are just pretty colors to tuck into the garden.

With all this fairy gardening, I thought it would be fun to share some of our favorite fairy themed books.  This first set of books are from The Fairy House series by Tracy L. Kane and Barry Kane, as well as a DVD called Kristen's Fairy House based on the book series.  This series is fun for kids and adults, it is about a girl who is vacationing on a small island off the coast of Maine, while she is exploring the woods by the cottage she finds little fairy houses that people have built in the woods, then she builds her own.  The idea of these fairy houses is to build them using only natural material- nothing living (so you don't disturb the forest) and nothing artificial (so you can leave it and it won't harm wildlife).  Very very fun series, Fairy Houses Everywhere includes pictures of fairy houses people have built.  After reading this series we had fun making fairy houses in the grassy hills by the beach using gathed items.

You can read more about these books through my links at Amazon.

The next set of fairy books are the Fairyopolis series of books by Cicely Mary Barker- when these first came out when my daughter was younger we had so much fun looking through these books, with their wonderful illustrations and pop-ups and lift-a-flaps, and little envelopes.  Very fun books with lots of information about Flower fairies, I never tire of these books, fun also from a gardener's standpoint!  We have quite a few Cicely Mary Barker Books and there are still many more out there that we hope to add to our library.

Here is an example of some of the imaginative illustrations in these books, this is a pop-up from Flower Fairies Magical Doors.

You can find more about Fairyopolis as well as the many more books in this series at Amazon.

Lastly, I have a nice little boxed set of fairy books that I purchased years ago, written and illustrated by Margaret Tarrant, who was a writer and illustrator from the 1920's and on.  In a style very similar to Cicely Mary Barker's these books are beautifully illustrated, with little poems.  I am not sure if they are still in print, but if you come across them, they are very nice old fashioned children's books.

This set came with Seashore Fairies, Weather Fairies, Forest Fairies, Flower Fairies, Twilight Fairies, and Wild Fruit Fairies.

I will leave you with an excerpt from one of Margaret Tarrant's Poems called Half A Fairy

It is better to be a bit of a fairy, 
Than not be a fairy at all.
I know someone, half a fairy,
Who lives by the forest tall.
She looks like everyone else by day,
As she sweeps up leaves and sings.
But at night she takes from her kitchen shelf
A pair of fairy wings!

Check out all of the wonderful fairy gardens The Magic Onions Fairy Garden Contest 2012.