Thursday, September 29, 2011

A painted house and other farm ramblings

So the house is done! *Little happy dance* To be honest, I think we are all pretty surprised that we actually got it done before the rains set in... there just nearly wasn't enough drama in getting it done to make it feel normal! So here's a mostly done shot of the house. It looks even better now that we got things cleaned up and put back but it's dark outside, so I don't think taking a picture this minute would fully capture the glamour. ;)

Here's a candid shot of some of the sheep at evening time. Overall, they're looking really good. In fact, we should have babies sometime soon. Like, I should figure this out... soon!  It helped that we had such a wet spring. We haven't had to feed them hay this summer.

And our back door. This gets the most improved award of our yard for this year. Especially now that the roses are blooming. The sunflowers have added a lot... I'm hoping next year to do sunflowers along the other side too!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Brain Seminar

So not much writing this week! Mostly just busyness... You know, when you are busy and there's stuff worth writing about, that's when you are tired in the evening and too busy to write. :) Mostly this week consisted of gardening, admiring the view from OHSU, finishing up a bunch of little items that have been on the to do list for forever, sewing, caulking, painting.... It's been a good week, and to top it off, today the parentals and I went to a conference on neurological development and it was fascinating! Mostly about the stages children's brains go through and how it affects them later. And most importantly, what you can do about it if normal development doesn't happen. In short summary, here's what I learned.

1. God made our brains to be amazing.
2. Our brains can be retrained even after major damage has been done.
3. It can take a lot of work to retrain a brain. :)
4. The importance of cross training when young and doing it in the right order! ... ie, creeping, crawling, walking, running.
5. Cross training can be used at any age to retrain the brain
6.  Bumbos, child swings & walkers, and wraps should be used with caution.... Babies need to be able to move around freely in order to develop normally. That means lots and lots of creeping and crawling. 7. Also, using bumbos and walkers before the baby is able to do it normally puts undo stress on their bones. Carrying on the hips and creeping/crawling is the natural way for a babies hip joints to form.
8. The three most important stages of brain development should happen by the time the baby is 8 months old.

Well, that's all for now! I know there's more to report, and probably these points could be explained better, but it's bed time. My cousins have been having amazing results with this program so I'm excited to see how it will help our family. I'm planning on doing some more reading and I anticipate doing some active cross training soon as it should help with my remaining concussion issues. So I'm excited.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Saturday: Of scones and sugar (powdered that is)

First off, about the powdered sugar... if you haven't seen my facebook status, then you don't know that on Saturday I bought 50 pounds of powdered sugar. On accident. Yes, 50 pounds. Who knew that Costco even sold 50 pounds of powdered sugar? Anyone?

I was tired. And I never ever go to Costcos on Saturday. I had been to a baby shower that afternoon, gotten up earlier than normal and left the shower a little early because I knew I had to still run errands and I really wanted to get in a nap... I know, I'm a wussy. So I head into Costco, tired and determined to get out of there as quickly as possible... so then sugar is the last thing on my list. I grab it. It's right next to the brown sugar. I don't see the words Powdered anywhere (now I'm dying to go back and see what that sign really said) and I grabbed it. I even glanced around to see if there were any smaller packs of white sugar, but I didn't see any. So I'm blaming my tired eyes here (Or really the concussion)....

Anyways, I get home and the boys graciously unload the groceries for me. One of them then opens up the bag and gets confused because it looks like flour. And that's when I hear that I bought powdered sugar. FIFTY pounds of it. And we probably buy two small packs of powdered sugar a year. Usually around Christmas time because I use it to make eggnog. Yums... So, anyone want some powdered sugar? I did get one suggestion on facebook that maybe it was time to open up a cake shop... and I got one helpful suggestion to NOT divide it up in small plastic bags and sell it on street corners (no worries there)...

So yes, now on to scones. I was asked to bring some scones to a baby shower for this little guy, and I thought I would share the recipe, since I altered it a smidge and they turned out way better than I could have imagined. I made all of the variations on Saturday in the cookbook (The New Best Recipe Cookbook) but the ginger one turned out amazing, so the recipe follows...

Here's one lone scone left. It was more important to eat them than to take pictures! Also, I will note that my name could be interpreted as S. Cone... which spells scone. Not that anyone really cares... ;) but I do have an affinity for scones!

Ginger Scones
1 cup pastry flour (or all purpose)
1/2 cup spelt flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons of cold butter, cut up
1/2 cup of candied ginger (in small pieces) *
1 cup heavy cream

Oven temp: 425

Combine the flours, baking powder, sugar and salt. Cut in butter. Then add the ginger. (I did it all in a food processor.)

If using a food processor, dump into another bowl and add the cream. Stir until the dough forms a ball, then transfer dough to a floured counter top and knead until it forms a smooth ball.

You can then either free form each scone, or you can pat it into the bottom of a cake pan, invert it and you'll have a round pizza shape. You can then cut the wedges with a scraper or knife and place on a cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes. Then eat up!

* I used some that I had made earlier this month, 
but I'm sure it's fine with store bought ginger...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Columbia & gold mining

Thursday, August 18, 2010
Today most of us went traipsing off to Columbia State Park... which contains Columbia, a gold rush mining town, quite well preserved. We didn't take a whole ton of pictures of the town as it hasn't been that long since the last time and um, it doesn't change much, since they are tying to, you know, preserve it! 

The one picture I wish we had gotten was of the old house that was used in the movie High Noon, the white farm house that has John Wayne coming out of it.. That part was filmed here. In fact, I believe the tour guide said that the film was supposed to be filmed in Columbia but they started filming to late and it was to "fall-ish" by the time they made it up here...

This building was not well preserved as you can see. I don't remember what it started out as, but eventually it was a part of the china town area.

And ditch. (duh) Columbia has an interesting history of getting water down from the mountains. Mostly it involves a lot of out of work miners digging ditches.

The Columbia fire hall. Notice the faux brick siding.

The old fire engine... Columbia had several devastating fires (everything is brick now) and the bought this fire engine from San Francisco. San Francisco had obtained it after some company or another couldn't deliver it to some Indonesian island. It wasn't built with good brakes, and therefore was not well suited to San Francisco, thus Columbia got it. Also, note that the white bar is in a very propitious place.

Family photo shoot!

The Paynes

Walking down main street. At this blacksmith shop you can get a horseshoe with your name stamped on it. I have one from when I was 5. It was so special.... :D

So around Columbia they did hydraulic mining... ie, HUGE fire hoses of water that blasted the earth away and then left tons of rock outcroppings. These are very fun to climb on. :)


Here you can get an idea of how big these rocks are... and it's like that all over the place, where there was a hint of water coming down from the Sierras... usually not so tall though, but very noticable none the less!

The traditional Jail photo shoot...

A beautiful bridge that you cross to get to Columbia... Here the oaks are mixing with the Pines...

Back to the cabin a swim and dinner!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Painting. Or why it rained today.

First things first... this was taken with my own, yes, my very own camera. I am so happy... I originally made grand schemes to buy a fancy schmancy camera like all the ones my friends tote around... but my laptop died instead. So, when my grandfather graciously re-offered an old camera. I jumped at it.

Tyler, who has mostly lovingly shared his camera with me, is happy. Actually I don't know if that's true... I'm just guessing he's happy.. and I'm happy. So it's all good. And it's actually a pretty nice little camera... better than just the average point and shoot but not as  cumbersome as the "change a lens every time you move" cameras.

So onto more important things... As you may or may not surmise from the above photo, which I wouldn't if I were you, 'cause I am not Sean from Psyche. Tyler is standing by the front door about to take down the lights on either side of the front door. WHICH, we only found out a month ago are mounted UNEVENLY. That's right we've been living in a house with uneven lights. How embarrassing. Of course, it's not like anyone has ever noticed, because nobody, hardly anybody, ever comes to our front door. Everybody comes to our back door. Or even the sliding glass door in the kitchen. It's been more than once that we've looked up and realized a customer is about to knock on our glass door!

So Tyler is about to take down the lights because we are painting the brick. When we repainted the house about three years ago, we decided to leave the brick for a while and see if we liked it. Well, we didn't love it and we didn't hate it, so since we are painting the shed (hopefully tomorrow), we decided we might as well paint the brick too. And the brick really isn't "nice" brick. It looks fine here, but as soon as you get up close to it, it's pretty messy lookin'...

And I realized yesterday, that maybe nobody ever comes to our front door because you can't really see it. Being red, it just blends in. Well, it ain't going to no more!

So today the boys spent a good part of the day priming the brick. Such hard workers! Even Jacob was out there the whole time. And I even went out there the last hour and helped with filling in the holes. Earlier, I was busy, you know, with inside stuff. :)

Now that it's primed, I think it looks better already. The house looks much more homey as you drive up the driveway. Plus, when Mom and I went out to check on it mid-afternoon, we realized that the porch area reminded us of the house she grew up in. Which made it feel like it was the right decision.

So cute... he's just so cute. :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Picturesque Mosquito Lake

Remember this view of Mosquito Lake from my last post... well, this post is devoted to Mosquito Lake. 'Cause it's pretty!

This is the view from the road earlier in the day. The cabins are so picturesque!

Well, on our way back, Dad, Mom, Bev and I decided we needed a break. So we stopped at Mosquito Lake. I've always wanted to get out and explore this little place. My day was made. :)

This is a little rock wall that separates the two lakes.

And yes, there is snow in the Sierras in August!

Bev graciously agreed to take my picture on the big rocks that I love, with the lake and the cabins that I love in the background. So happy!

Near one of the cabins was this funny little rock shed. It had a boat sitting  on top of it.

And yes, the classic outhouse picture. Love!

And thanks to Bev for letting me post her pictures!

And yes, sigh, there were plenty of mosquitoes at Mosquito Lake.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ebbetts Pass & Grover's Meadow

So in my last post, I left off with us finishing lunch at Lake Alpine and had decided to go to Grover Hot Springs for the afternoon. To get there we get to drive the lovely route of Hwy 4... It's such a beautiful stretch of highway in the Sierras that it has it's own website.Which if you want to see more or better pictures has a beautiful little slideshow!

This is the high point of the trip! Also, as a kid I remember getting such a kick out of the nearest town's propane supply store. It's called Ebbetts Pass Gas. Get it? Hahaha.

I wish I had more pictures to share of the next hour, but mostly we were too busy enjoying the scenery and watching out for other cars on the narrow road! 

But this view of charming Mosquito Lake give you and idea of the beautiful rocks and trees...

And then we come to this. The most harrowing part of the trip. Most of the road consist of narrow (squeek by other cars) windy road that meanders up and down rocky forest terrain... but we've now crossed into the eastern Sierras so the terrain is noticeably drier. 

Also, see that valley floor? That's where we're going... I think it's about three thousand feet lower. And about a thousand feet of that drop is on a narrow road, no rail guard and a nice drop to the valley floor. Eeks!

This is what the ridge looked like. Just imagine a road snaking its way down. Now. Also imagine being in a big van and meeting, not one, not two, not three but FOUR rent-a-RVs coming up. That have ignored the "do not drive on this road if you are a vehicle longer than 25 ft" sign. Plus the ~20% grade.. On a narrow road. With no guard rail. That was a little scary. We had to back up both times. And the engines on these poor RVs were just smoking. And there was a line of cars stuck behind them. We were guessing they were New Yorkers who had no clue what they were doing. And one of the poor women driving the RV looked absolutely petrified.

So this is Grover meadow where the hot springs are located. To be honest, I found the hot springs to be a little disappointing... mostly like swimming in a regular pool. I thought it'd be more nature-y.
But the meadow was more to my liking! In fact there's few things I love more than a Sierra meadow. 

This meadow was simply beautiful. Along one edge there were boulders that made it looked landscaped by God. Also the colors of the grass and wildflowers were gorgeous.There's a hiking trail that goes up the meadow, which Dad and I explored it for a few minutes and found a beautiful little creek. 

Monday, September 12, 2011


Things I am thankful for today:

1. For walking into my vision therapy appointment and finding out that I'm getting put onto maintenance! That means I'll be doing 5 minutes a day, 2 times a week (10 minutes total!) instead of the 30-45 minutes, 6 days a week (3-4 1/2 hours a week) which is what I've been doing.... So, so thankful!!!

2. Which also means I am reading. Feeling like I'm finally feasting after fasting from books. I feel like I have six months to make up and it's been wonderful.

 3. For malted vanilla ice cream with chocolate flakes. I made some this evening to celebrate #1. It was good.

4. Homegrown ripe tomatoes. Enough said.

5. That my sweet grandfather is giving me one of his "old" cameras. It's really not that old and it's going to suit me just fine. I'm very thankful! In fact if it wasn't for vision therapy, this would be the top of my list!

6. For a 10 year old brother that tells me to come in and say good night. And then he gives me a stuffed kitty to keep me company while I sleep.

7. The Three Stooges. (Bet you weren't expecting that one!) We just discovered there are episodes on Hulu. I grew up watching these guys over and over again. I think when we were sick we watched Three Stooges and Warner Brother cartoons and Marx Brothers non stop. So I thought I had seen them all! But thanks to Hulu, I now know I haven't. Tyler showed us this one tonight and it was pretty clever. The horses were incredibly well trained!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The moors and the theology of writing stories

Over the past week, I've been working on adding a little blog roll page...and I think I'm done for the moment, so it's up! I have a feeling I'll be tweaking it... 

I haven't been able to bring myself to add blogs of people I know. Maybe I'll add a separate section? I don't know, it just seems a little creepy to publicly link to people you know on the internet... of course, is it less creepy to link to people you don't know? So maybe my thinking is backwards...

One blog I enjoy is Attic 24. It's crafty/yarny blog, plus she lives in England. I love international blogs that give you a glimpse into another world. I especially enjoyed one of her latest posts that featured pictures of the moor. I grew up reading Famous Five books (about four kids and a dog in England) that often featured adventures on the moor, so I love seeing pictures of it. Just beautiful.

Another one, Conversion Diary, just had a fantastic article on leading a purposeful life. I feel like I've been seeing a lot of internet buzz along this line, but this post really spoke to me. I had just read recently about the rule of only using dialogue in a story if it moves the story line forward, but hadn't thought about applying it to my life until I read this post.... So what's your story and what's your dialogue?

Also, talking about story writing... While reading Poe, which is written in the first person, I was stuck by the fact that I never seem to read books written in the first person. Twilight was the only book that I could remember reading that stands out in my mind as being written from the 1st person, and it seems like that's becoming really common, whereas formally most books were written in the 3rd person. Or maybe I'm just really unobservant about these things?

If my observation is true though, it makes me wonder about the theology of writing books. In writing narrated by a third person, with the focus being on a) the story and b) the creator,  does this style imitate reality? That we, too, are characters in a story which we are not writing?

It seems like writing in the first person ultimately points to humanism.. Everything in the book revolves around them... they are the center. Which with the decline of Christianity in our country, could explain a movement towards writing in the first person.

Of course, blogs are mostly written in the first person....eeks. So um, never mind, right?

Or it made me wonder if most books (especially older) books were written in the 3rd person so it was much more natural to read it out loud? I dunno!

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Sierras & Lake Alpine

August 17th, 2011 Wednesday

Today we set off on a jaunt to cross the Sierras! Since the cabin is at about 5000 feet and Ebbetts Pass is at 8000 feet, we had some elevation to gain... and then we lost it on the way to our final destination, But I'll leave that to the next post.

First we headed to Lake Alpine. Actually, not. First, the ones in the big van headed to the gas station, 'cause the last thing you want to do is to run out of gas up there! The gas pumps were from the 70s and considering I barely know how to pump gas with a credit card (oh us spoiled Oregonians), I had to have someone show me how to work this one. It was such a novelty to my little mind that I made Dad take a picture of me and the gas pump.

 We bonded.

And we also found out that the little general store/resturant had wifi. Oh yes. A touch with the outside world was sweet for one minute.

Then we headed off to meet everyone else at the view point.

It's pretty breathtaking! And it's even better in person. I need to scrounge around in my photos from last time and see if I have a video. And remember that river in my last post? That's down there, way down there. I think we are at about 7000 feet here.

Next we went to Lake Alpine to have a picnic lunch. We were all to busy stuffing our faces (altitude makes me hungry!) to get any interesting photos with people, but I do have a few scenic shots.

I love Lake Alpine. One reason being that Lake Alpine is a resoivoir and so there are these fantasic granite islands dotting the edges. I think when I was about 12 we went swimming here and it was so fun to swim around the islands and clamber around them. For a little while you were king of the Island. And what child doesn't want there own private island? It was pretty magical.

When my parents were dating, my mom once won 20 dollars from my dad at this lake. So my dad hates cold water, while my mom is a proud member of the Polar Bear Club (motto: if there's water; it must be swum) and was standing on the edge of the lake contemplating jumping in. Dad dared her 20 dollars to jump in and she said "OK" and jumped. I think Dad's jaw hit the ground.

After a scrumptious lunch, we had a group meeting to determine whether to do a hike first or go to the hot springs first. Since not everyone could go on the hike we decided to do the hot springs first, that way others could go back early if they didn't want to go on the hike. Unfortunately we didn't have enough time to do the hike, but my goodness, it was my grandparents suggestion to do the hike and it's not often you hear of couples in their mid 80's recommending a hike at 7000 feet!

Next time.... how to not drive fall down 3000 foot tall cliffs. The secret? Let your father drive.

Bee mine

     In order to properly celebrate Hannah's birthday, she, Amanda and I decided to visit Sellwood and act touristy. We had a grand time... and thouroughl enjoyed our selves. I was super impressed with the fun stores we found and the reasonable prices. And I am now obsessed over this:
     Can anyone guess what it is? Drum roll... It is a Top Bar Hive. That's right a bee hive. I've never been super interested in bee keeping before. But oh, I want one of these bad. Real bad. I loved this store, the gal was really friendly and explained how everything worked. Plus, using this hive makes it much easier to harvest and obtain your own honey. Now beekeeping sounds like fun! Anyways, there having a sale... anyone want to get me one for Christmas???

Also, once it got hot, we had... Ice Cream. And it was good.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Sequoias & the Stanislaus

August 16, 2011 Tuesday

After we enjoyed a fairly leisurely morning at the cabin (in which I was introduced to the game Dominion, which is awesome) we all headed off down the big hill to Calaveras Big Trees State Park. We usually go there about every other trip, but I think it been a while since I'd last been there. We just took the shorter and easier hike/walk. I think we saw about 20 giant Sequoias, along with numerous baby Sequoias...

A mighty Sequoia! It's hard to tell but this tree probably has a diameter of at least 12 feet. Also, since I have to re-remember this every time, I'll just say it, the Redwoods and the Sequoias are related. Redwoods are the tallest trees, whereas Sequoias are the biggest (ie mass and diameter-wise). This grove is about as far north as Sequoias grow. Also, Redwoods grow in the mountains near the coast as they need the moisture and Sequoias grow in the Sierras.

My beautiful grandmother and I. She and Grandpa joined us at the cabin for three days.

The Family (Grandparents, Daniel, Sam P, Andrew, Jacob, Mum, Me, Julie P, Scott, Tyler, Dad & Bev P. )

We are standing in front of a Sequoia stump that measured 25 feet in diameter. It was huge! You can see a family posing on it behind us. ;)

Part of the tree that made the huge stump pictured in the background in the previous photo.

This was one of the first Sequoias discovered around here during the 1850's. They didn't have any equipment big enough to fell it so they used augers which created the lines above. The stump is about 25 feet in diameter! The part that fell down, of which only part of it is pictured above had at one point a bar and bowling alley built on top of it!

Here you can see a Sequoia that has had it's top die off. Also, check out the size of the limbs. The lower ones are probably around 6 feet in diameter! Later on the walk there were some branches that had fallen down and you could've sworn that they were trees in and of themselves!

This one had been hollowed out so that you could walk through it.

Here's Jacob posing in between two Sequoias. They have burn marks in between them as debris had collected and then was burned off. Sequoias rarely burn themselves thanks to their bark being naturally fire resistant and their sloping sides which encourage falling trees to roll away from them.

Grandma, Me, Andrew, Jacob, Sam P and Daniel

This bench allows you to easily gaze at the tops of the trees. Very clever, I say.

The "let's take a big tree and hollow it out so a car can drive under it" tree.

This is the Stanislaus River. It was quite chilly, but it's so beautiful! The rocks are mostly granite.

And this is what happens when you get a lot of boys (and a few gals ;) , all of whom like to skip rocks...

Also, thanks to Bev and Tyler for letting me use their photos!