Tuesday, September 29, 2015

40/52: Hiking out to Dungeness Spit

Brian and I have talked about walking out to Dungeness Spit for over 10 year and this past weekend, we finally completed the journey.  We've spent most of our spring and summer training for the 11 mile round trip walk (GPS Tracker has us going a total of 13 miles).

Dungeness Spit was first founded by Europeans during the Spanish 1790 Quimper expedition.  The name "Dungeness" comes from the Dungeness Headland in England.  The spit was named by explorer George Vancouver in 1792, who wrote: "the low sandy point of land, which from its great resemblance to Dungeness in the Britich Channel, I called New Dungeness".

Dungeness Spit was formed by wind and water currents that formed river silt and glacial till to arch into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  Over the centuries the spit has grown to over 5 miles.

You can hike the entire length of the spit to where a lighthouse has been keeping guard since 1857. The extreme tip, however, like the Dungeness Bay side of the split, is closed to public entry to protect important wildlife habitat. Over 250 species have been recorded on the spit and in the Dungeness Bay.

We planned this hike during low tide for easier walking on compact sand.  We caught an early morning ferry from Fauntleroy to Southworth and arrived at the National Wildlife Refuge about 9:45.  We each carried a backpack (mine was a camel-back) that included plenty of water, lunch/snacks and photography and video equipment. 

You follow the refuge trail for 3/4 mile through a maritime forest before descending to the beach. From this viewpoint we saw amazing views of the spit.  We dropped about 100 feet and emerged at the base of a tall bluff which is the start of the spit trail.  It's a straightforward hike from there to the lighthouse.  

To the lighthouse was easy.  The tide was out and the sand was compact with plenty of beach to walk on.  We stopped a few times, but I think our training really paid off.

Once we got to the lighthouse, we rested, ate our lunch and took a tour of the lighthouse including a museum and a 74 stair climb into the light tower for amazing views and pictures.

The journey back was tough.  The tide rolled in and we lost most of our beach.  We walked through deeper sand, rocks and climbed over driftwood.  By mile 11, we were spent, but managed to find our sense of humor and trudged on.

It was an amazing journey...and I don't just mean the walk to and from the lighthouse.   Setting goals and training brought Brian and I together on a shared journey.  The destination was spectacular but the journey leading up to the adventure was filled with challenges, pain, determination, frustration and awareness...ending in ultimate fulfilling rewards and a deep sense of accomplishment.

Yea, for us!


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Menu Plan Monday: Welcome Fall 2015

Welcome Monday!  Welcome Fall!

Well.....I can really feel it in the air, that summer is officially over.  It's been a good run, summer.  Thanks!

I've decided to take my menu planning to a whole new level and found on-line a monthly meal planner.  This way I can track some of our favorites and use this long range planner as a way to track pantry items and use up leftovers more regularly.  Since I like to plan ahead, this really makes me happy!

Remember to check out other recipes every week on Laura's website.


Monday:  Grilled Pork Chops with Acorn Squash 
Tuesday: Beef Enchiladas (TACO TOOOOSDAY)
Wednesday: Thai Coconut Beef Curry (Crockpot) over Jasmine Rice
Thursday: MOD Pizza and packing for road trip to Seattle on Friday!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Old Photo Friday: Happy Birthday, Sonja!

WHO: Stacy and Sonja
WHAT: Girl's Night Out (for my birthday)
WHERE: Rebecca Lane; Beaverton
WHEN: Back of picture says April 2001

Happy Birthday to one of my besties, Sonja!!

I am not sure why you let me out of the house in those animal print pants, but I love you anyway!


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Recipe of the Week: Root Vegetable Gratin

Okay, so it's officially fall and therefore it's totally okay to start roasting those veggies again.  I love all root vegetables and this recipe comes together just like traditional scalloped potatoes.  It makes a great side dish to a roasted chicken or beef.

Welcome Fall!


Root Vegetable Gratin


1 tablespoon butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons AP flour
3 cups heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 parsnips, peeled and sliced, thin
2 sweet potatoes. peeled and sliced, thin (like to get 1 light yam and one dark sweet potato)
1 large celery root, peeled and sliced thin
1 turnip, peeled and sliced thin
1 rudabega, peeled and sliced thin (par boil the rutabega for 10 minutes, then cool and slice)
3 cups Gruyere cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
3 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley


Preheat oven to 400F. Coat a 3 quart baking dish with cooking spray.

In a large sauce pan over medium heat, melt the butter.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add the flour and cook for one minute before adding the heavy cream.  Season with salt and pepper and add the nutmeg.  Heat until sauce thickens, about 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes.

Arrange 2 layers of the vegetables, assorted in the prepared baking dish.  Pour half of the cream mixture over the vegetables then sprinkle with half the cheese, and half the thyme and parsley.  Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Cover the dish with foil and place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour.

Remove the foil and lightly press the gratin down with a spatula.  Continue baking until the vegetables are tender and the top is golden brown, 15 to 30 minutes more.

Let the gratin stand for 15 minutes before serving.  

Makes 8-12 servings

Notes:  Feel free to omit any of the above veggies that you don't like.  If using a rutabega, I find they take the longest to cook so I like to par boil mine first otherwise, it might not be done in an hour.  I also added extra cheese!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

39/52: Welcome Fall

Fall officially arrives tomorrow morning, but for the past week it's been gradually making an appearance.  I am okay with it...really I am.  The mornings are crisp, I've found my raincoat, it gets dark earlier than I am use to (so I think I am really late for bed) and I am slowing adding food items such as acorn squash, crock pot chili, Sheppard's Pie and pumpkin spiced ANYTHING into my diet!

Welcome Fall!

I put away all the summer decorations this past weekend in West Seattle and found all my favorite fall items...plus some new things I bought a couple months ago when fall seemed as far off as Christmas!

We took two 4+ mile walks this weekend, still training for Dungeness Spit Lighthouse at the end of the month. The air smelled like fall and the leaves are really starting to turn. The afternoon sun isn't as warm and it comes into the windows at low...lingering angles.

This weekend we cooked some amazing food, watched some football and took a stroll up the street on Saturday afternoon for a happy hour drink (and to fill up Brian's growler).

How are you welcoming fall?


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Menu Plan Monday: September 20-24, 2015

Welcome to another wonderful Monday!

What are you planning in the kitchen this week?

Here is our menu for the week ahead and remember to get inspired to plan and prepare ahead, check out Laura's site!


SUNDAY:  SEAHAWKS on Sunday night football!  Let's just grab a pizza at Bellagios!
MONDAY: Grilled Flank Steak with Cauliflower and a Garden Salad
TUESDAY: Mexican Chicken with Warm Bean Salsa and Asparagus
WEDNESDAY: Turkey Parmesan Meatloaf with Smashed Red Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts
THURSDAY: BLTs and Chips

Friday, September 18, 2015

Old Photo Friday: Good New for Judy!

WHO: Stacy, Grandpa Don and Aunt Judy
WHAT: Graduation Party
WHERE: Backyard E Street
WHEN: June 1987

A Brady family gathering! This picture was taken in June 1987 when my Aunt Judy came out from Ohio for my high school graduation and to see her father (my grandfather) Donald Young Brady.

We got some good news from Aunt Judy yesterday on her recent health issues.  Gratitude overflowing!


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Recipe of the Week: Eggplant Curry

I am cat-sitting/feeding/playing this week and I've come across another gardener with an over-abundance of produce.

I've been asked to "help myself" to several small fresh eggplants.  The only issue is, that both Chick and Brian are not big fans of eggplant.  What's a girl to do?

Last week, I found in the freezer, some curry lentil soup that I made about 6 months ago which was fabulous and just what I needed to fill in a lunchtime meal.  I got the idea when I was asked to help myself to the eggplant that I would make up a batch of eggplant curry and freeze it so when a missing meal is needed, there will be something yummy in the freezer to find.


Eggplant Curry


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 large or two medium eggplant, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (14 oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 (14 oz) can coconut milk (you may not use the entire can depending on how thick you like your curry)
2 cups fresh spinach, kale or chard leaves
Jasmine or Brown Rice


Heat oil in large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add onions and cook until translucent, about 2-3 minutes.  Add eggplant and cook for 2-3 minutes until they begin to soften and release their juices.  Add garlic and cook for another minute stirring to combine.  Add curry powder and stir mixture together and cook for 15-30 seconds, until fragrant.

Add the diced tomatoes and chickpeas and cook for another 2-3 minutes to incorporate all the flavors.  Finish by adding the coconut milk, and fresh spinach then simmer curry mixture for 5-10 minutes.

Serve curry over rice.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

38/52: Girl's Weekend 2015 in Portland

The second weekend in September is hereby declared...ANNUAL GIRL'S WEEKEND in Portland!

In honor of this occasion, Chick and I spent Saturday afternoon shopping along NW 23rd Avenue in Portland followed by a long lunch at Jo Bar.

We've thought about going to other places in the city, but we always end up back on NW 23rd...plus I can't resist the best place in all of Portland to people watch!

It's been an amazing summer and capping off one of the last Saturday's of summer in Portland is always memorable.

We ended up with quite a haul...a bit of this and that and celebrated our treasures with an amazing bottle of Chardonnay and an incredible lunch.  Chick had the Jo Bar burger and I had the scallop risotto with capers, saffron and cherry tomatoes. FABULOUS!!!

Our haul included...

Decorative napkins from Kitchen Kaboodle
Bath bombs from Lush
Black Shoe Boots from Ether
A chalkboard heart from Paper Source
Pumpkin Sauce from Williams Sonoma
Chocolates from Moonstruck

Hooray for Girl's Weekend!


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Menu Plan Monday: Middle of September

Welcome to Monday!

This is a crazy busy week!  Brian is in Portland and we have both personal and professional meetings this week, plus I am house-sitting and feeding cats a couple times a day.  Not a lot of cooking this week, but when I am cooking, I am preparing pretty easy dishes!

Remember to check out Laura's site for more organizing tips and menu ideas.


Sunday:  ALL Day Spaghetti Sauce with Caesar Salad and Garlic Bread
Monday: Possible meeting after work with our web designer.  I told Brian perhaps we will grab something at California Pizza Kitchen
Tuesday: Garden Burgers with Fries
Wednesday: Stuffed Green Pepper (with leftover spaghetti sauce) and Salad
Thursday: I think Chick is out of town so I will be cooking for one tonight!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Old Photo Friday: Mom in Santa Ana

WHO: Jennifer (Mom) and Grandma Virginia
WHERE: Santa Ana, CA
WHEN: January 1965

A few weeks ago, I mentioned to my Mom that I was going through a bunch of old photos and there were quite a few that referenced they were taken in or near Santa Ana, CA when she was about 20.  I asked her why she was there and why she didn't stay very long and she spent about an hour telling me of her short time in California, being persuaded by my Uncle Mickey and his then-wife, Judy to move down, finding a job at a bank and eventually...falling in love with my Dad over a Christmas visit back home to Eugene in December 1964.  It was part of my Mom's life that I didn't know much about and the pictures were always a mystery to me.  


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Recipe of the Week: Caprese Burgers

So, I've still got more tomatoes than I know what to do with so I am trying out a new recipe tonight...wish me luck!

A caprese salad is, without a doubt, one of my favorite summer salads and this combination is the inspiration for tonight's burger.


Caprese Burger


1 tablespoon pesto (make your own or store bought is fine)
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 pound ground beef (85/15)
salt and pepper
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into 4 slices
4 burger buns
1 large tomato, cut into 4 slices
4-6 basil leaves, chiffonade
1/2 head iceberg lettuce, chopped


Mix pesto and mayonnaise together, set aside.

Season ground beef with salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce.  Form 4 patties and cook according to your preference.  Top with mozzarella and remove from heat.  Tent with foil to keep warm.

Toast burger buns until lightly toasted.

To assemble: add 1 tablespoon of pesto mayonnaise to bottom bun.  Top bun with burger patty, tomato, basil leaves and lettuce.

Recipe courtesy of about three recipes that I mixed together
Image found on Google Images

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

37/52: What did you do for Summer Vacation?

I am completely envious of all the school kids who get summers off.  I long for day after day of lounging by the pool, long walks along the beach, star gazing after twilight, sleeping in until noon with nothing to do....no schedule to adhere too.  This is why I plan at least one week in the summer to relive the summers of my youth!

So how did I spent my summer vacation you ask?  These pictures don't do the 10 days justice!

I walked 6 out of 10 days and once completely alone while Brian worked.  My goal was working out everyday, but I am still pleased that I got out as much as I did.

One of my vacation highlights was quality time at home with Brian and Sammy.  Despite Brian working a few days, I had time to putter around the house with Sammy, plant fall flowers, enjoy an amazing massage at Chill, decorate the house for Brian's birthday and prepared a baked lasagna for dinner.

We celebrated Brian's 55th Birthday with a BBQ at my Mom and Kenny's and then on his actual birthday, we had an amazing meal at Cactus on Alki, then took a brief stroll along the beach (almost saying goodbye to Summer because the weather was so cool).

We took the ferry across Fauntleroy to Vashon Island and explored Point Robinson Lighthouse, then took the Talequah Ferry to Port Defiance and had lunch at Katie Downs. That was a fabulous day!

We treated my Mom to one of her birthday wishes with a ride on Seattle's Great Wheel, followed by juicy burgers at Red Robin.  Thanks, Kenny for lunch!

Labor Day weekend we enjoyed a set with the Rusty Williams Band at the Easy Monkey Taphouse.  They play great R&B and on Sunday we had brunch at Lake Morton and then grilled hot dogs at home.

I am back in Portland now, and am enjoying looking through all my photos and memories of my wonderful summer vacation.

Until next summer......


Monday, September 7, 2015

Menu Plan Monday: September 7-13

Welcome Monday!

How is your Labor Day-End of Summer weekend going?!

I'll be returning to Portland Monday after spending an amazing 10 days in Seattle.  I'll be getting back into the swing of things...shopping and getting organized for the week...then ending Labor Day with a backyard patio dinner on Monday night.

Leave me a comment and let me know how you celebrated Labor Day!

Remember to check out Laura's site for more organizing tips!


Labor Day: BBQ Ribs, Corn on the Cob and Potato Salad (end of summer party on the patio)
Tuesday: Easy Skillet Beef Tacos
Wednesday: Grilled Chicken Fettuccine with Salad
Thursday: Caprese Burgers and Fries
Friday: Grilled Ribeye, Wedge Salad with Half Baked Potato (Girls weekend kicks off)
Saturday: Breakfast Bowls, shopping along 23rd Ave, lunch at JoBar then Oregon Ducks Football
Sunday:  All Day Spaghetti Bolognese with Garlic Bread