Photo of rose cuddle Easter bunny.

White Cuddle Rose Easter Bunny

2018 Sew Stitchery Expo

I took the beach house and headed up to Puyallup, WA a few weeks ago to attend the Sewing and Stitchery Expo.  The shopping was incredible, and there were way too many seminars to choose from!  I went home with a multitude of  patterns, tools, and ideas to keep me busy for a couple years:)

I’m in Love with the Bunny!

I fell in love with the purple cuddle rose rabbit that was sitting in the  Carol’s Zoo  booth.  The pattern was purchased, and I finished the rabbit a couple weeks ago.  The rabbit was made from Shannon cuddle rose fabric in snow white, and the eyes and nose were purchased from Carol’s Zoo.  They can also be purchased in bulk online.  Carol had made plastic templates of her patterns, so I bought the plastic at Joann’s thinking it would be easier to use than paper for tracing the patterns onto cuddle, minky and fur fabrics.

The plastic templates were perfect and made tracing very easy.

A minky and cuddle workshop was offered at the expo where participants were given many helpful ideas for working with these fabrics.  Since the fabrics are slippery, the presenter suggested using lots of pins or clips.  I purchased a box of Clover’s Wonder Clips and was very pleased with them.  I probably over clipped the rabbit, but it didn’t slip while sewing.  After the rabbit was sewn together, it was stuffed with just enough fiber fill to give it shape, but loosely enough to cuddle with.  A yellow ribbon was chosen for Gymhawk colors, and it works for Easter too. The Easter card was made with my Silhouette Cameo.

Best Friends Forever!

The rabbit was shipped to its new home in Iowa and is now best friends with the most well loved green bunny.  Fourteen years ago the ER nurses gave the green rabbit to Misty-Jade after she broke her elbow.   The rabbit has been to every gymnastics meet since, traveled all over the country, and rescued several times after being left in stores.  She now has her own ID tag!   I only wish I could thank the nurses who gave the rabbit to her.  The rabbit helped Misty-Jade get through surgery, a year of physical therapy, and a change in gyms.

Photo of Hawkeye Backpacks

Good Luck Gifts for the Gymhawks!

My daughter, Misty-Jade, is a member of the University of Iowa gymnastics team.  Every year parents volunteer to support the team by sending Hawkeye Honey gifts  to the girls at each meet during the season.  The first year I sent a bag of goodies with things from or made in Oregon.  Last year Misty-Jade and I decided on cups with the team’s theme for the season.

Photo of mug with glittered vinyl
2017 Hawkeye Honeys

This year she wanted me to machine embroider socks for each of the girls.  There was no way that was happening!  So, in the end she decided I should sew drawstring backpacks for everyone.  A couple weeks before she needed these, she found a pattern that worked perfectly for this project.  The directions can be found at Pockets full of Wonder.  We chose four different beautiful cotton fabrics made by Moda and Quilting Treasures.

My original thought was to machine embroider the logo and 2018 team theme, but decided vinyl would be a better option.  I used Siser easy weed heat transfer vinyl and am very pleased with the results.

The last step was putting the cord through the top and loops at the bottom.  Misty-Jade filled the bags with St. Patricks items for good luck.

Last weekend the Gymhawks were at Rutgers for the Big 5 meet where they placed second and earned a spot in the evening session at the Big 10 meet.  They left for Illinois today and will compete Saturday at the Big 10 Championship!

Photo of Iowa Women’s Gymnastics Team
Photo by Iowa Women’s Gymnastics 
Photo of Spaghetti Dinner

Instant Pot Spaghetti!

Last weekend we went camping out at the coast with the goal of photographing waterfalls and autumn leaves.  Since Amber is back in school we needed electrical hookups and wi-fi for homework assignments, so we stayed at an RV park.  During the day we went hiking at Sweet Creek Falls and captured some wonderful fall photos.

Amber has been wanting to try the Instant Pot on a camping trip, but I hadn’t wanted to lug it out camping and back home after each trip.  The RV’s crock pot broke a couple months ago, and I had been thinking about replacing it with an IP.  When I found a larger IP on sale at Fred Meyer I purchased it, so now we have one for home and one for glamping!

 

 

 

I like using the Instant Pot for soups, chili, dried beans, baked potatoes, and vegetables.  Amber suggested making spaghetti, so we gave it a try.  The recipe we used can be found at The Salty Marshmallow.  The IP is wonderful for making one-pot meals, and we always freeze the leftovers for quick and easy lunches.  The hamburger and onions are cooked using the saute mode, and then the dry spaghetti noodles, diced tomatoes, spaghetti sauce and water were layered on top of the meat.  After locking the lid on the pot, the spaghetti cooked for 8 minutes.

 

 

 

The spaghetti was served with my favorite veggie, broccoli, and garlic bread.  The spaghetti was okay, and it works for a camp meal, but it was a bit soupy. However, it did get thicker as it sat.  Some of the noodles stuck together during cooking.  I love my IP, but some things are still better cooked using a conventional method.   This spaghetti may not be my favorite, but there is definitely a place for the Instant Pot in my beach house!

 

 

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Photo of girl in front of tree

Kinders Farewell Party & Last Photo Session

W and R left for school last week, and B went this week.  We’ll miss having them at preschool, but I’m sure they’re ready for the next adventures waiting for them.  Although, since W’s sister is still in preschool, we might get to see her occasionally.  Before leaving for Kindergarten the girls had a final photo session and a Peter Rabbit party.

Here are some snapshots of the party.

Their final photo session.

All the teachers wish the girls the best of luck in their educational journey!

Photo of Middle Lewis River Falls located in Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

Lewis River Lower Falls, A 5+ Star Campground!!

What Makes Lower Falls a 5 Star Campground?

Everything!!!  I’m a member of Campendium, a site where parks are reviewed and rated on a 1-5 star basis.  My goal is to eventually go full-time RVing, and I’ve found their site to be quite helpful.  A few posts back I lamented that my beach house doesn’t fit into the tent section at Millersylvania State Park. Lower Falls Campground is the answer!  The campground has everything I could have asked for!  Well, except for a lake to go kayaking on, but I’ll take this park any day.  It is a gorgeous, green, lush campground that RVs can fit into.  The sites are huge and spaced far apart giving families the privacy they seek in a camping experience.  Campers actually feel like they’re out in the woods.  Children have plenty of space to play and won’t be quite as tempted to cross into other’s sites.  The trails are easily accessible from the campground and hikers can be down at the river to view the beautiful waterfalls in a short time.

Trailer Access

The campground was easy to drive to, however, the National Forest Service website does warn that it might be difficult for trailers to get through a short section of gravel road and that you drive at your own risk.  I called the forest service the day before to confirm the warning was still in effect and to determine whether or not we should go.  The lady I spoke to said it should be okay if we drive slow.  The mile long section of road is passible, but slow going is definitely the key.  Fortunately I drove it very late at night and couldn’t see what I was driving over.  It didn’t look so bad then!  Driving out I put the truck in 4 wheel drive; probably didn’t need it, but it made me feel better.  The other obstacle while towing a trailer is dodging the overgrown trees, even on the paved roads.  I hit a few branches on the way in, but didn’t damage anything.  On the way out I drove down the center of the road as much as possible to avoid them.

The road doesn’t look so bad in the video, but Amber’s having a difficult time holding the camera still due to the road conditions.

Trails & Waterfalls

The crown jewels of this park are the waterfalls!  They are photographic heaven!!  The only thing I didn’t bring were the right shoes to stand in the middle of the river to photograph the lower falls.  It wasn’t possible to stand in the river at the middle falls, and I didn’t see a way, other than swimming, to get across the river to put myself at a better angle for those images.  There must be some other way across, but that will have to wait for another day.  Most of the trails we hiked were easily accessible with great views of the falls and several points to stop and enjoy the surrounding areas.

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Photo of Butte Creek Upper Falls in Oregon

Butte Creek Falls, Oregon

Road to the Falls

I’ve been wanting to get out and practice using the neutral density filters more so decided to visit Butte Creek Falls. Last year I purchased “Hiking Waterfalls in Oregon” written by Adam Sawyer at Costco.  It’s a great reference for finding falls within a reasonable distance for a day outing.  We checked the directions and other information in the book against some internet sites.  Obviously some directions were better than others, but it was easy to find and we were able to drive directly to the falls.  The last 4 to 5 miles is a gravel/washboard road, however most vehicles will make it just fine.  The washboard is fairly minor compared to others I’ve experienced.  There is a section of one lane road that feels more perilous than it actually is from the driver’s perspective as it winds around and overlooks the hill.

The Trail and Falls

The hike is on a beautiful .9 mile, easy loop trail, with a couple hills, and the lush green foliage and shade were much appreciated on a hot July day.  The straight part of the trail leads to the lower falls, but we weren’t able to get to its base.  We saw some people go down the side of the rocky hill to get there, but we chose not to do that with our camera equipment.  Another family came along and opted not to go down as well.  Those who are more adventurous have the falls and pool all to themselves!

Then we took the loop trail to the upper falls which were easily accessible, and several families were playing in the water.  It wasn’t as crowded as other falls tend to be, and we were able to get the photos we wanted.  On the way out of the loop trail I saw another view of the upper falls I didn’t see going in.  I’ll have to go back and photograph it with the neutral density filter.

 

Visiting Butte Creek Falls is well worth the scenic drive through farm country and the gravel roads.  It’s about an hour from Portland depending on your starting point.  On the way out we stopped at a farm stand and purchased fresh picked blackberries and strawberries and then finished our day with strawberry shortcake for desert!

Woman kayaking on the Columbia River

Kayaking on the Columbia

We’ve been on vacation for a couple weeks and didn’t have access to internet for much of that time, so I haven’t posted in a while.  I’ll begin with our weekend in Irrigon and follow up with some posts about our California trip.

Boondocking on Farmland

We experienced the most awesome weekend in Irrigon visiting with my cousin Laurie and her family! Irrigon, as with most of the surrounding area, is largely farmland, and the beach house was parked just outside Laurie’s property with a view of horses out our front door.  Country noises of farm animals and frogs were a welcome change to the city’s sirens and constant traffic.  I think we saw only a couple cars drive by the entire weekend!  What more could anyone ask for in a boondocking spot?

Photo Shoot

The main purpose of our excursion was to deliver a Nikon D7000 that I helped Laurie purchase for her daughter’s birthday.  We did two photo shoots with Tresa’s six beautiful children who were absolutely a joy to work with!  The morning shoot was done at Hat Rock State Park.  The sunlight was beautiful, and we were able to get some great photos of the kids in tall grass, in the trees and on some logs.  The kids also wanted to take photos on a bridge that worked out perfectly.  After a potluck dinner we took the kids to a beach near a wildlife refuge for a sunset photo shoot.  We captured some 4th of July photos as well as shots of the kids playing in the water.  Unfortunately, the filter on my lens had marks on it and resulted in sun spots on many of the photos.  I’ll have to go back and do that photo shoot again.

Kayaking on the Columbia River

The plan for Sunday was to go kayaking, and I let Laurie know that since our kayaks are inflatables, I prefer to kayak on calm water such as lakes and ponds.  Tresa suggested Warehouse Beach, so off we went to Wallula Lake.  Little did we know that this “lake” is part of the Columbia River!  It doesn’t actually meet the formal definition, but resembles more of an inlet or bay.   At that point I couldn’t back out so went for it.  The lake’s configuration resulted in rougher waters with waves that crashed over the top of my kayak before I was able to get myself or the dog in.  Amber, on the other hand managed to stay dry getting into her kayak. And then Laurie in all her cousinly love thought to catch my plight on her phone and post to Facebook!  Oh well, it was fun and the water with the cool breeze felt wonderful in the 100 degree weather.

I had not previously kayaked or done anything else on the Columbia River, but it was very peaceful and the serenity of the river and birds was much appreciated.  I like to imagine people’s lives in earlier times and could see Lewis and Clark paddling down the Columbia to the Pacific Ocean.  I’m sure it was much rougher and more challenging when they made the journey.  While I was hesitant to take an inflatable kayak onto the river, I would highly recommend paddling on the Columbia if you have the opportunity.

Map collage of Oregon’s South Coast

Oregon’s South Coast

During Memorial Day weekend we visited Shore Acres State Park, the Umpqua Lighthouse, Sunset Beach, and Heceta Head Lighthouse Scenic Viewpoint.

Shore Acres State Park

I’ve visited Shore Acres on a few occasions and always enjoy photographing the flowers.  There are several gardens to wander through and a trail to Simpson Beach.  Another trail leads to the estate’s former tennis court located on a sandy, rocky cliff overlooking the ocean.  We found tadpoles in the fresh water that must have been left by all the rain we’ve had.

Umpqua Light House

Amber and I enjoyed the very informative tour and museum at the Umpqua Lighthouse that is a current US Coast Guard station.  It’s also the only lighthouse in Oregon that visitors may climb up into the light to view the beautiful prisms.

Beaches

I spent some time experimenting with the Lensbaby Composer Pro with the Sweet 35 optic and Breakthrough Photography’s X4 10 stop neutral density filter.  I’ll have to go back to the beach to get some more experience and take their tutorials with me.  The neutral density filter could be addicting!

Memorial Day Weekend 2017

Photo sailboats in Coos Bay, Oregon taken with a Sigma 35 Art lens.
Sailboats in Coos Bay, Oregon

Tugman State Park

This year Amber and I decided to go camping at a park we had never been to for Memorial Day weekend and ultimately chose Tugman State Park.  Reservations were made in January, but neither of us can remember why we chose this park, except that it has a lake and maybe we thought we would go kayaking there.  I believed the campground was near the beach; it’s not.  Driving is necessary if a beach outing is in the plans.  In any case the park is very small and was quiet.  It was easy backing the 5th wheel into our very spacious site.  And as with all Oregon State parks, the campground is clean and well maintained.  The only drawback is the proximity to highway 101.  However, it wasn’t too bad as most of the time we blocked out the noise.

We had a wonderful weekend exploring Coos Bay and the surrounding areas in more depth than we have in the past when we only had time to make short stops on our way to other destinations.

Winchester Bay

Sunset photo of sailboats on Winchester Bay, Oregon using a Lensbaby
Sailboats on the bay using a Lensbaby.

Thursday I decided to use only the Lensbaby Composer Pro with the Sweet 35 optic.  I’ve had the lens for a few years, but was frustrated with it so never used it much.  I watched a couple videos before going camping and decided it was time to figure it out.  Actually I came away with some great images.  I took photos at Shore Acres State Park and Sunset Beach as well as the one above of the sailboats at Winchester Bay.  Next time I get to take sailboat photos I’ll try a smaller aperture.

Sea Lions

I visited Simpson Reef on Friday, but the weather was overcast and the sea lions weren’t visible.  Amber and I went back the next day and were able to observe  hundreds or thousands of them.  They are a ways back, so binoculars are needed.  Last summer before visiting the Tetons I bought Zeiss Terra ED 10 x 42 binoculars at Cabela’s. Those were greatly appreciated many times and were perfect for watching the sea lions as well.  While in the Tetons I realized I didn’t have the right lens to get photos of the wildlife, and I was drooling over the lenses I saw other visitors using.  One very nice gentleman from England let me hold and try out his long lens.  When I arrived home I did some research and found some affordable consumer zoom lenses.  It didn’t take me long to purchase the Sigma 150-600mm lens!  The lens is perfect for catching sea lions!  I believe Nikon, Canon and Tamron also make this or a similar lens.

As I was zooming in to edit the third photo I noticed one of the sea lions was branded with a number.  So I did some research and found that some animals are being branded to be studied and eventually to prevent some of them from consuming the salmon that are swimming upstream.  You can read more about this at OPB and at The Spokesman Review.

Elk

When I went to pick up Amber on Friday afternoon hundreds of elk were grazing at the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area!  Another opportunity to practice using my 150-600mm lens!  The elk were just gorgeous in the setting sun.  The Hinsdale Interpretive Center is also located at the viewing area and provides several educational plaques about the elk and other wildlife in the area.

Coos Bay

Amber and I spent a morning exploring Coos Bay.  While there we shopped in antique stores looking for items that could be used in  a cupcakes and cookies photo shoot we want to do with the children at Little Pandas Playschool.  We found a cute hand cranked beater for mixing whipped cream and cake batters.  I’m pretty sure my grandmother owned these when I was growing up.  Then one of the stores was selling the same desk used at my first elementary school.  I had to keep reminding Amber that if the store was selling something I’ve used in my lifetime, it’s not an antique!  It might be vintage, but certainly not antique.

We ate butter clams and fish for lunch, from the Fisherman’s Seafood Market, on the boardwalk.  I highly recommend stopping in for a meal.  After lunch we explored the tugboat display on the boardwalk and took pictures of the sailboats captured with my favorite lens; the Sigma 35 Art.

Over the weekend Amber and I also visited Shore Acres State Park, Sunset Beach, the Umpqua Lighthouse and the beach near Heceta Head Lighthouse.  However, those images will have to wait for another post.

Millersylvania State Park, WA

rvrow
RV Sites

The girls and I went camping at Millersylvania State Park near Olympia, Washington last weekend.  It’s a beautiful campground that hasn’t lost its charm due to modern updating.  The campsites in the tenting area look like they’re in the original condition; although I’m sure there have been changes over the years.  The sites are heavily wooded and the roads narrow, so RVs can’t get into that section.  There is an RV loop in an open field that is not very desirable.  However, there are two rows for RVs that are under the trees. The campground was very peaceful, and our trailer was squeezed in between the trees in site 205.   All the sites in these two rows are pull-throughs, although I would be cautious about taking my 5th wheel through some of them.

Misty-Jade make breakfast burritos for us on Saturday.  Then we had the most delicious steak covered with smoked blue cheese and grilled veggies along with freshly squeezed strawberry lemonade for dinner.

I’m envious of the tenters who were able to camp in the loop pictured below.  The park also has some glamping tents in this loop available for rent.

campsites
Tent Sites

I discovered this trail early Saturday morning while the girls were still sleeping.  I loved the romantic bridge and boardwalk section of the trail.  The boardwalk would make a great background for a photo shoot.

While kayaking on Deep Lake we saw an eagle and a crane as well as a few other critters.  We were able to get up close to the crane, but unfortunately I only had an iPhone with me.  There were several people fishing off the dock near the boat launch.

We all loved the park and have put it on our list of go-to campgrounds when we need something at the last minute for a weekend get-away.