Tuesday, September 25, 2012

CANNING: More Apples & Tomato Time

So one thing I'm pretty stoked about is all the preserving I've been able to do this summer/fall, especially after learning how to use the pressure canner--now it's incredibly easy peasy! I wish that I would have known earlier in the summer so I could have canned the green beans and a few other things---but maybe that'll be for next summer :) However, while it's not listed, doing more preservation this summer was one of my goals....and I definitely feel it's been achieved! 

Apple Sauce & Butter
So I mentioned completing the apples the other day. I now have 4 quarts and a pint of apple sauce and 6 pints of apple butter, plus the dehydrated apples from earlier.

I still have about six large apples in the fridge that I'll either eat, dehydrate, or slice up for apple pie fixings.

Tomato Sauce & Salsa

My favorite pasta sauce with onions, zukes, peppers, & garlic added w/ seasoning and a splash of white wine for flavoring. Yum! And I'm so glad to be back to making it again after the three and a half year hiatus!

Two quarts sauce and 2 quarts, 1 pint, 1 half pint salsa. (I didn't want to buy new jars so hopefully the quarts will keep once opened in the refrigerator.)

This was my first time making salsa and I didn't core the tomatoes based on the recipe I used SO it took quite a while to simmer down. The salsa still looks a little runny and who knows how it will taste on this first trial run...but I'm pretty impressed all the same. I primarily used this recipe here, minus the cilantro which isn't my favorite and which Heather also said I could add in when serving later.

I still have a box of tomatoes though so I need to do some quarts of diced tomatoes still and maybe do some freezer stuff too.

I also got a bag of overly done corn cobs from my aunt's neighbor to feed/spoil the chickens. ;)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Transition Sunday

This morning I woke up at 6:47am...and lay in bed for the next hour...just thinking, feeling, existing.

This morning I got on Pinterest in the first time in over a week--finally feeling ready to enjoy some frivolous but fulfilling project surfing.

This morning I got out of bed at 8:20am and fed the cobs from my aunt's to the chickens..and listened to them coo excitedly in their boxes. I took the time to notice the amazing yet empty cobweb glistening between the tree branches in the back yard--a hole right in the upper middle but still completely beautiful in its own right.

This morning I fed the dogs and patted them both on the head...thinking of how happily Anna sniffed through the fallen leaves on our jog yesterday.

This morning I savored my coffee no longer flavored with creamer...returning again to more of my old single ways...and I focused on dressing and putting my face on for church. The Christian music playing in the background of the house this morning...filling the space but bringing tears of sadness to my eyes.

This morning I put the dogs out and loaded myself into the Sorento headed for church.

This morning I sat among the rows of a packed service...fulfilled to be sitting next to my cousin and her husband and to be surrounded by hundreds of other believers. I listened to the words coming out of the preachers mouth but also let my mind wander in the directions it chose to follow...frequently wondering and praying for the one I need to work on going away from.

This noon I threw all pre-set plans out the window until later and headed with my aunts and cousins to the Oktoberfest Wine Festival at St Josef's. The car shook with laughter on both the journey in and upon our return. The wine flowed, good music played and dancing ensued, and smiles graced our faces.

This afternoon I was dropped off by my aunt I'm closest to...and who told me the truth that I needed to hear that it's time to just truly let him go....that I need to stop supporting and befriending, stop trying to put my heart out in his way. Who held my face and told me that I truly deserved better whether or not I'm ready to believe in just how awesome a catch I am....and who let my tears fall knowing that's what needed to finally be done. Her hard honest truth is the type that she knows I need in order to move forward....all after walking the front yard discussing what I could do for landscaping.

This afternoon I changed into work out gear and sweated out the wine and pent up emotions to another round of Pure Cardio Insanity.

This evening I picked up the backyard and chatted briefly with the backyard neighbors...answering their cautious questions... and appreciated their gift of MORE tomatoes...and supportive thoughts.

This evening I rescheduled tomorrow's run with G in order to participate in my double booking of happy hour with some of the girls.

This evening I chopped peppers, tomatoes, onions, and zucchinis to saute down into pasta sauce for pressure canning with tomorrow's salsa, while listening to Christian radio on Pandora and researching salsa recipes online.

This evening I sat on the floor of the kitchen with sauce a'simmerin' trying to remove the sadness from my dog Anna's eyes by giving her as much love and cuddling as humanly possible. She relished the scratches and hugs and for a few moments happiness graced her and she covered me in kisses. Transitions effect all creatures great and small...and extra bones and treats and cuddles will be provided on the regular. Whether her sadness is directly from missing her alpha male...or is a continued byproduct of the sadness seeping out of me, I'm not entirely sure.

This evening I scratched the head of Lady for a good five minutes, who also decided that this is her week day of needing attention.

Tonight I'll take a shower washing away the events of the day...and hopefully be able to sleep better than I have the last two days. Tonight Roxi will curl up next to me like she has every day since my return from summer travels...and Anna will sleep direct at the foot of the bed with an eye on the door--always the protector and watcher.

Today I contemplated more additional changes that could be made to the rental to make me feel less like its still "our" space...and more like it's MY and the animals space. Today I texted Tall D and asked him to give me a date to remove the rest of his stuff and to return the key to the house. Today I worked on cutting ties and moving forward....and I'm sure tomorrow will be more of the same....

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Friday/Saturday Highlights

---Morning until early afternoon included making applesauce and apple butter from the rest of the apples. Also harvested the tomatoes and carrots from the raised beds, cleaned out the chicken boxes, and texted my brother about helping me build some winter cover for one raised bed so I can try a winter garden.

---Afternoon....I lost it....again, so I let the tears fall hard, cuddled with the dogs, and then leashed them up and made a solo PR for distance with 7 miles...only to come home and lose it some more.

----Headed to aunts to get extra tomatoes as our harvest was lacking...and ended up staying for dinner, wine, and supportive conversation.

----Came home, pressure canned the morning goods, and then cuddled with both dogs on the bed...Anna even shared my pillow and had her arms entwined in mine...which never happens. Couldn't fall asleep for hours though.

---Woke up early to sunlight streaming in. Lay in bed texting with my best friend...and checked FB message with my old boss about potential hire opportunity.

---Got up, made coffee, vacuumed the house and dusted, and for the first time in weeks opened the door and blinds in the front empty bedroom where some of Tall D's extra stuff is housed. Decided to let the sun shine in there.....and I had a moment of clarity with some thoughts that were still processing (mainly needing to purge his stuff from the house if he's truly done, reassessing the reality that he'd admitted in April he couldn't treat me like I deserved, reviewing actions taken early in the summer and during the marriage, etc etc).

---Headed out for errands: farmers market, Target, and Freddies. At Farmers Market scored produce to make sauce and salsa, including splitting a box of tomatoes with another couple (awesome!). Browsed through antique store still looking for that perfect buffet/bar. And on the way back to the car....ran into Tall D and the new lady he's not been admitting to having...introductions and awkward conversation ensued. Target didn't have the headphones I was looking for so I happily left empty-handed and then picked up some more replacement groceries at Freddies.

---Got home and texted friends and family...and headed out for therapy appt.

---So glad I found this lady! Helped me through more grief but also is encouraging me to remember just how unhappy I actually was in my marriage (as are my friends trying to help remind me of the same thing...). Reported I've actually made huge strides in where I am between the two sessions and sent me home with homework: a list of what made me unfulfilled in the marriage and a list of things I feel I need to forgive myself on....umph. Reminded me that regardless of how I coat it...divorce IS a failure...but that letting go and getting back to the me I used to be and CAN be...can open me up to something new and something better.

---Headed to aunt & uncle's for Beaver's game. Aunt forced food into me---grr. Beavers won! Lots of open conversation ensued.

---Came home to hang out with dogs and get in a run with them. Smoothie, shower, blog, texting with more of my support network....and then back to watch the Oregon game!

Tomorrow I'm headed to church with my cousin and her husband again, and then I plan to work over these tomatoes and spend some major time loving on the dogs. I've told Tall D that he needs to find his own canner, clean out the rest of his stuff from the house/garage, and return my house key. I'm still not going to sign, but depending on what all he writes in, I might contest a few potential items...

Altogether it's been an interesting day...not sure exactly how I feel. Bit of continued sorrow and grief, some renewed anger, and in smaller doses acceptance. I've been noticing myself returning to some of my old single behavior patterns the last few days however (like Saturday morning Cs: coffee, conversation, & cleaning) and I've also been starting to think about other ways to utilize all the space in the house. One other thought that hit me last night is how much I truly do want to be a spouse and a mother...I'm the type of person who has so much love to give and I just need to meet someone who actually wants to receive and reciprocate it. Eventually, once I've regained myself, maybe that might just happen....but I'm glad to feel myself thinking through all these things again.

Off to watch the Oregon game---GOOO DUCKS! :)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mid-Afternoon Thursday Gratitudes

Today my gratitudes are arriving mid-afternoon because my mind and heart are full of them.

I'm grateful for:

---A safe drive north yesterday and a car trip full of quality time with one of my cousins I'm closest to.

---The clouds that cleared yesterday and provided such a gorgeous evening on our return.

---Time with and love bestowed on our baby cousin.

---Recognition that yesterday's trip fulfilled many of the items listed in what I consider FUN.

---A day of rest to allow my muscles to regroup...and stuffing my face with great left overs once getting home last night.

---The pure exhaustion that put me into a deep sleep last night and allowed me to sleep in.

---Answered texts to J (Tall D's apt mate...and our mutual friend) in the middle of the night when I was freaked out awakened by the noise of movement in the bedroom with absolutely no viable explanation....and an invitation to go crash at the boys' apartment if needed.

---The dogs comfort on the bed laying next to me....and their coating me in kisses to get me up and moving this morning.

---An overcast hazy fall day with a slight chill in the air.

---Leggings, long sleeves, sweaters, and blankets providing warmth while I sat on the back deck this morning reading blogs, relishing coffee, embracing the changing seasons, and watching the dogs play.

---Finished prepping of all my fall classes.

---The ability to help others who could use it...and also knowing that return gifts will be passed around.

---Continued texts, FB messages, sent Bible passages, and emails arriving daily to brighten my day. My support system continues to surround and astound me.

---A Insanity work-out in the garage....flushing out the sweat, some heightened emotions at that moment, and making my legs feel like lead!

---For once a return feeling of my house being capable of being a HOME--coziness and thoughts on transformations.

---The advocacy of my gal Deir...and her passion for environmental health these days.

---The reality of so many praying...for Tall D, for me, and for our marriage....regardless of what God provides as His ultimate outcome.

---An offer of extra tomatoes from my nearby Auntie M and plans for a weekend of yard work and more canning.

---An evening together with many of my favorite gals discussing books over good food and wine.

---Plans to wear cozy sweater dresses and tall boots.

---Offers to teach me more about football.

---Reassuring conversations providing advice and insight for my mother.

---The reality that I live in a home full of warmth and light with everything that is truly NEEDED to sustain life.

---That Tall D took the time to get away for himself.

---Praying daily for others who have requested it in my life.

---Actually looking forward to the upcoming fall.....

UPDATED TO ADD: Tonight I'm grateful for:

---Not being in the car accident I watched unfold on the highway this evening.....and that no one in the accident was injured.

---A grand time at book club this evening surrounded by so many wonderful gals and full of good food....and even snagging a great parking spot.

---Dogs happy to see me upon my arrival home.

---Today's cleaning of the chicken coop.

---Easy plans for tomorrow....

---Answered facebook messages from influential people.

---Potential ins for my old job option in Salem.

---Time to read snuggled into bed.

Sending lots of love to you...and each of yours.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Point Defiance Park Visit

Baby cousin lives in Tacoma with a husband who is currently deployed, so cousin A and I had scheduled to go spend today with her. Was great to finally see their first apartment, go out to lunch together, explore a lil bit of the area, give baby cuz some love, and help her decorate her place for fall. She's an incredibly spirited lil gal who has done a great job of showing her strength throughout this short deployment--but let's be real: deployments and being alone/carless in a new location are in NO way fun at all. Definitely will be trying to get in on more regular visits when he's gone, especially as Tacoma's only three hours away...

Here are some pictures of the trek we did around GORGEOUS Point Defiance Park: 

Owen's Beach @ Point Defiance Park
Cousins: A & S seated looking at the harbor

Absolutely gorgeous drive on the way back--sunshine, trees are just barely starting to turn, and the most beautiful large sunset I've seen in years. Windows down (partly due to the fact that the water proofing spray was still permeating the air--DOH!) and country music blaring---what a great drive back from an enjoyable afternoon. Much love to both my cousins!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

CANNING: Tuna & Pear Butter

....HA! And no the tuna and pear butter are NOT together. ;)

A few weeks ago Tall D and his friend G had bought some major pounds of tuna from G's dad. They'd set half the tuna out to thaw in the fridge prior to the arrival of the bad news...and so on Saturday night their other apt mate J had texted G and I to make sure the tuna got canned on Sunday. Tall D must have been on the same wavelength anyway and G's mom was in town so it turned into a canning party. The guys made lots of experimental half-pints, we labeled everything, and had it canned by early evening....and I learned a lot about canning in the process of being allowed to help. While the tuna is theirs, it was still fun being a part of the process, learning, and I'm being rewarded with a few jars too...

Tuna Slabs waiting to be stuffed in jars
Double row stack of jars in the canner--three canning sessions

Yesterday evening I got the canner back so I could finally do something with that box of pears from my aunt (FREE!) and to hopefully do something with the box of apples I bought with my cousin last Thursday (20lbs: $12). The whole process of the pears took longer than I expected, although the second round went easier as I had a better idea of what I was doing. I decided to make pear butter as the pears varied in sizes and ripeness...and that way I could throw it all in and boil it down. Both tastes and smells delicious btw!
Pears in box
Simmering down after peeling
Finished product: 8 pints of pear butter

The other two jars pictured above are two of the quarts of apple sauce Mom and I made before. Tall D and I had talked this weekend about whether jars sealing themselves automatically is safe enough...and he made the case that it's better to process them through the canner. So I threw in two of the quarts...and hopefully it's good enough! ;)

I didn't get to the box of apples today...so they've taken the place of the pears in the fridge until I can get to them on Thursday or Friday. I see apple butter making in my future...but hopefully I've got this canning thing down now! (Many thanks to Tall D for checking in and answering extra questions about processing this evening!) And I might even do something with the tomatoes....

Now to think up some great uses for all this pear butter......gifts, but also tonight I thought about pecan waffles covered in pear butter and maybe some sliced up bananas--YUM! :)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Evening Gratitudes

So a great way to fight sadness? Think about the many good things I do have in my life! Bringing back of evening of gratitudes....

---Had my seats detailed today (for just $30!) and was able to spray them to water protect. Although ironically I sweated hard core into the drivers seat just after my evening run BEFORE water sealing...OF Course :)

---Mom was a sport and got up early to transport me for the car appointment this morning...and she put up with my morning tears and general crankiness. Which might also be why Mom prayed on me mid-morning...I'm getting much better at accepting this new stage of Christianity that I'm in....and I've been so blessed to truly realize how the majority of my family & social circle are believers also.

---I was able to borrow Mom's car to go to work this afternoon.

---Yep, work. I went in to have a couple hours convo with my replacement in the vet job. Caught him up to speed on things and was able to hand it over while feeling great about his ability to take the center to the next level. JOB COMPLETED! I also fixed my syllabi for my in-person courses for this fall and copied them while on campus. Half-prepped for fall term.

---I spent part of the day looking at finances and thinking about employment. I am TRUSTING that it's all going to fall into place and was reminded of being more mindful of spending. However I know that my NEEDS are covered for the next several months at least...and I trust that the right job and finances will be provided.

---Let me reiterate...I know that my NEEDS are covered. Maybe not the desires of my heart....but at this point there's not much I can do about that. God knows my hearts pleas and most people I know are praying....and I finally had a moment on the drive home from work when I thought about just needing to let go. I'm still not signing anything and I'm still not done at all....but I have to let go in the sense of truly giving it over to God....or it's going to just keep eating me up. This doesn't mean there won't be daily moments of sorrows but it was a slight afternoon/evening break in the cloud today...and it's more of less lasted into tonight too.

---I spent a chunk of time this afternoon organizing the garage. Throwing stuff away, creating a stack for Goodwill. Separating out  things for Tall D. I also spent some time yesterday organizing some stacks that have accumulated over the last week. It feels good to remove unneeded items and to take stock of what I own. Still more to be done.

---I got the canner back this afternoon and hope to spend part of the day tomorrow taking care of those pears (let's hope they're still good!) and some apples I picked up late last week. Yesterday I helped can tuna at Tall D's...and he took the time to explain how the canner operates so I feel a little less intimated in my attempt. Just in case you actually might read this, thanks Tall D--much appreciated!

---I've been listening to a mix of Christian music and bluegrass---both allowing to purge the sadness and brighten the mood. Mumford & Sons speaks DIRECTLY to my heart these days though...

---The run this evening kicked my booty. G kept up a full charge out of no where, except for one part where I felt tears coming on so I picked it up until I hit the end of a slight incline to keep them at bay. Of course that backfired since I also was dehydrated and hadn't eaten an actual meal in about three days...so the last half of the run I was struggling. Tall D surprisingly joined us this evening...and somehow nearly managed the approx 4 miles carrying a medicine ball!

---Since Mom's here I was forced to provide actual substance, so I ate something solid for the first time since breakfast on Saturday with Tall D.

---Saturday also granted me time with my gal N...and it was so great to have "lunch" with her. To catch up, hear what she's been handling, and also to feel her continual support. Much needed and appreciated.

---Excited for my next session with the counselor on Saturday to discover some more gems of wisdom...and continue to work through some of this sorrow, anger, regret, and fear.

---In all of the sadness of the loss of our friend Kyle, it's been nice to really reconnect with many of our old Louisiana crew, to support each other, and to offer prayers and support for Maggie as well.

---Also looking forward to book club this week with my gals and a day trip with my cousin to visit our baby cousin who is a military spouse up north.

---The texts, FB messages, comments, and sent Bible passages that have been full of support have meant so much to me in recent days and weeks---THANK YOU!

September the Struggler

This month is only half over and yet it feels like it's already held SO MUCH SORROW. I'm sure y'all are ready for me to stop being depressed, but I ain't gonna lie folks--there's a lot of anger and grief pent up in this lady....and maybe some touches of regret these days too.

Beyond the loss of such a great man on Friday (who still is so forefront on my mind and heart), Tall D and I also sat down to have THE conversation...in which he finally told me that he is for sure, 100% done with the marriage and any repair attempts. Ironically, I'm not done and I don't feel that we've ever truly given the marriage our all nor attempted to repair it rationally, so I do not feel comfortable signing any divorce papers. I still believe that it deserves a fighting chance, I feel we both need to attend counseling to work through our individual issues, and I believe in the marriage we stated we desired to have originally. However, having been able to have both of us state our sides, I do feel slightly more at peace about the whole situation. The courts will still grant him his wish even if I never agree to it. I've been praying for both of us and for restoration of the marriage (and of us to God) for several weeks now and there are a lot of other people praying as well. I truly believe that our lack of spiritual involvement throughout the duration of our marriage (although not as it started) has a lot to do with the unhappiness that settled into us individually and into our marriage. I know that God can fix anything, but I also am well aware of purposeful unanswered prayers......and thus, in general, the tears just keep right on coming.

Thus the weekend was a hard one emotionally grieving both for the loss of a wonderful man and the upcoming loss of a marriage, while also trying to support Tall D in his own grief without overstepping the boundary safety net that he continually has to protect him. In reality, I don't know that he'll ever truly know all the faith and small supportive steps that occurred on his behalf this weekend. And I'm not going to lie, it was equally good for me to be around him and his apartment mates throughout this weekend.

In our family it seems that some years we get slammed with more downers than uppers and this year has been a hard one. I don't want to disclose too much but let's just say my divorce would make #2 in the immediate family and we've had lots of health set-backs for various family members with most of these difficulties occurring in the last two months. Plus we're looking at needing to move Granny into a more individually focused facility....but of course we're meeting opposition. Tack on this devastating loss of one of the military family....and it's just been a challenging year all around.

However in the midst of the sorrowfulness, there still continue to be blessings in the mix. I joined my cousin and her husband for church this morning and immediately wished that Tall D and I would have selected to attend that service when we first relocated. The atmosphere, music, and message were all fabulous...and I even didn't feel too awkward crying through 1/2 of the service. The church itself has a great mission focus and the message was one that of course related in many ways to current personal events. And for the first time ever this weekend, I prayed hands on for someone else...and was glad to have my cousin pray for and on me after the church service today. I honestly and (yet still sadly) know that part of this separation and probable divorce has been God grabbing me back into his fold and wanting me to get closer to some of the things that I've always felt Him calling me to do, which ironically in the beginning Tall D always supported me doing too. I'm hopeful to continue with Sundays at this church...and maybe get involved in some other ways too. (Coming full circle, it's also ironically the same church that my landlords are key leaders in as well...)

Additionally, I finally really connected with the new counselor consult I had yesterday and I plan to start regularly seeing her weekly to begin. I'm not always a fan of paying for an initial consult, but I seriously didn't mind yesterday since I left with some great reflections and insights including:
---Listen to and trust yourself, do what feels right aka don't sign the papers, be okay with the uncomfortable decision to stay put recognizing that I'll figure out the next step when I'm ready
---It's good to have a trusting relationship with God
---Be present in the sorrow and let the tears flow. It's better to grieve than to not.
---Probably not a good idea to have a stranger move in since my current state might skew my intuition of safety
---DO NOT DATE until I've worked through my own issues, settled back into a peaceful place, allowed time to pass, and fixed my picker...
I'm really looking forward to continuing to work with her.

Running seems to be the one thing that keeps me from crying....so after not running throughout most the end of the week and weekend...and with some new frustrations earlier this evening...I pounded out a new 5.4 mile loop with some major sprinting at the end....and for once even felt like I probably could have put in a bit more distance to boot. And then of course, the tears fell off and on throughout the evening.....luckily tomorrow evening is supposed to be my new weekly set run with G--so we'll see how I do with him.

And with that Mom's here again. Technically she's here for a conference on Tuesday, but she's also here to help support me. She'd wanted to come on Thursday after a tearful morning conversation, but instead will be here for a few days before heading back home. I'm so glad she's been able to come up when needed this summer/fall however....and I continue to feel the love and support of so many in my daily life...near and far. Mom also spoiled me with a lil requested retail therapy right after her arrival tonight and I now have some new large frames to put pictures of my travels in to replace the shelves we had lining the fireplace in the living room. She also got us a box of easy start logs so I don't have to hassle with limited firewood. Thanks Mom!

I'm sure the next few weeks and months are going to continue to be trying, especially as the divorce moves toward final and Tall D eventually comes to collect the rest of his things lingering in corners of the house. I know we're also going to butt heads over ownership of one of our dogs, although the rest of the household animals will be left in my care...even if those silly chickens have suddenly taken a vacation from eggs! Yet, as dumb as it is, I will continue to pray for healing and restoration of our hearts and marriage...and attempt to focus on the supports and blessings that daily exist in my life. Plus...I've got to get moving on prepping for the new term--starts next week!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Period of Grieving

So many tears have been shed, so many happy memories and bonds remembered. Yesterday the world lost a most amazing man in a firefight in Afghanistan. A true solider, a loving husband, a spitfire spirit, and an all around valuable human. We've been in touch with many of our military family and we're praying for the family and wife of this fallen hero.

The whole loss has had me thinking about how little the American public is exposed to the ongoing conflicts overseas. We know and focus so little. Please continue to keep all our soldiers and their families in your prayers and lift some extra support out of your hearts for our gal Maggie and her family.

In the coming weeks, if possible, we all hope to make it to the stateside funeral....

Words can't express the sadness that comes from the loss of such a wonderful man. His life is being remembered the world over.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Cooking for Guests & Good Food

So one thing that I have learned this summer is that I enjoy cooking or just plain having the opportunity to get creative in the kitchen. I'm sure if I had to do it every day I wouldn't enjoy it quite as much, but I'm loving it when I get the opportunity to fix something of substance for those I care about and while Mom was here I was able to do plenty of caring & food prep:

Night one I made pretty much this same salmon dinner and night two we went to the family BBQ for which I made two salads: kale/avocado salad and a black bean salad.

For lunch the next day I made this from our left overs:
Salmon melts with celery & mayo & shredded cheese...and more of the left over black bean salad.

And then dinner of the final day I made this:
Black rice, stir fry, corn-on-the-cob, and scrambled eggs w/ feta (for protein).

I definitely enjoy a much more simple meal and I'm noticing that my meals are becoming more protein based and less carb based throughout the day. Beyond that I'm tending to eat one solid meal and then have smoothies and fresh fruits/veggies throughout the day.

Katie had gone to culinary school for a year so she was really into trying out many of the different eating establishments, plus at least half her trip we were away from the house. Thus all I made for Katie were two cups of coffee and then hastily thrown together french toast for breakfast this morning. (Have I mentioned I love french toast?!) The following is the awesomeness of what I/we indulged in during her visit:
Amazing french toast at Jam in SE
Coffee from the local coffee cart back home & many Starbucks in PDX
Tuna Sandwich w/ side salad at McMenamins in Roseburg
Asian Salad Wrap w/ Fries at Applebees in Bend
Oatmeal Pancakes w/ Fruit at McKays Cottage in Bend
Banana Nut French Toast + egg at Stepping Stone Cafe in NW
Salmon cakes, bruschetta, fish tacos, & chips w/ dip at Jake's Crawfish downtown
Berry smoothie & Oregon salad at Burgerville 
Falafael gyro at the down town foodcarts

Tomorrow evening I've got a gal pal coming over for dinner and chatting, so I'm looking forward to cooking for her (and not eating out!!)---I'll have to see exactly what I can whip up! (Maybe I'll actually have to check-out some of those Pinterest inspirations.)

I'm linking up with Townsend House's What Am I Eating Series.

Apple Preservation--Last Week

The Apple Orchard mom and I went to during her visit.

Beautiful apples--but as I learned later, not the greatest prices!

Mom peeling apples. 
Left over apples put to dehydrate this week.

Two bags of gravensteins and one bag of mcintosh's produced just three quart jars of apple sauce--but it's delicious! The rest of the apples I cut up this week and deyhdrated before they could go bad. The last two apples I'm planning on making a pie from or freezing pie fixings. 

I found a MUCH cheaper apple source, so I might attempt some more apple sauce......but first I have to do something with those pears still! :)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Beginning of Fall Update

A Couple Big Thoughts:
1) As much as I talked about just starting over somewhere new...I've decided to buckle down and attempt to stay put for at least the next two months.  For the last 12 years, I've made a move or school transition every year. Not engaging in self-inflicted change when I'm in such an uncomfortable place in life will be a MAJOR challenge....but one that I think that might be the best decision. I need to prove to myself that I can make it on my own if needed (especially at 30) and I also need to ensure that I have improved continuity in both work and location.
2) I've honestly barred my soul to Tall D about the nut case I've been this summer and how much I believe in the marriage we set out to have. I've come to realize that the only one who can save the marriage is God...with the assistance of some pretty decent counselors. Regardless saving the marriage and becoming better versions of ourselves is what I've been praying for daily. I've also been asking people in my life to pray every day too...as there is much greater strength in numbers.

Changing Seasons
--This morning I woke up dismayed with the chill in the air, as I've been fighting the excitement of many to be heading into fall. However this evening, I'm sitting wrapped in fuzzy blankets, pumpkin spice candle burning, red wine in hand, and slightly relishing the season that is to come.
--Ironically fall is by nature my favorite season...I've just been hanging on to the sun and summer as long as possible...and I'm going to do my darnest to not get dismayed as we head into snuggle-perfect weather.
--I've decided it's time for me to truly learn to appreciate...football.

--There's finally a new hire to take over my veterans position. I'm headed in officially tomorrow to turn in my keys and finalize paperwork, and I'll sit down with the new hire to get him up to speed on this year to come. Its been a wonderful job, but with life in shambles...I've been very ready to trade in this position.
--We're between summer and fall terms. Final grades went in last week and I'm already getting emails from my fall term students. I'll be editing syllabi in the next few weeks and prepping for the term that'll start the end of this month.
--I've got one app out currently for my old Louisiana position that had an opening in Salem...and once this month settles down, I'll be applying for other jobs that seem fitting.

Home & Yard
--Yard work still needs to be finalized. I'm planning on focusing on wood chips, grass seeding,and the raised beds will probably need to be put to rest soon.
--I still need to harvest the carrots but I think it's going to be too cold for the rest of the tomatoes.
--Even with staying for the next few months, I'm hoping to repaint one of the painted rooms back to white.
--I have this great idea for new photos for the house from all my recent travels.

Food & Preservation
--Apples are currently in the dehydrator. Pears are in the fridge waiting for me to make canned pears and potentially pear butter.
--I've been improving my skill set in the kitchen....even if K and I have been doing much culinary tasting outside of the home on this visit.
--Chickens are still big time laying. Took another bag to the landlords today.

Fun Times & Socialization
--I'm really glad that Miss Katie was able to come for a visit and I'm seriously going to miss her awesome companionship after her return to Georgia. Today we hit up Stepping Stone for breakfast and wandered around my favorite strip of NW Portland. An afternoon at home for Katie to work on homework (she's probably stoked that I'm now a college instructor!) and so I could run, and then an evening of Burgerville dinner, errands, and a Target shopping trip.
--I'm realizing that I need to keep busy to stay sane and less lonely, so I'm glad I have some interesting and fun things planned for the days after Katie's vacated. Part of the difficulty of this separation has been having to tell friends that I'm really struggling with being lonely....but I've been so happily surprised to see so many rise to the occasion.
--Next week my cousin A and I are visiting our baby cousin in Tacoma and then we have book club as well. I'll need to arrange a few more days of plans...and then before I know it "summer" will be over...not that I won't still have much free time until a new job is acquired too.
--I'd like to maybe get another hike in within the next month...and I've got to do something about this goal and desire toward fishing!
--Definitely open to more visitors!

--I've really been relishing growing closer to one of my cousins. It's been great getting to spend more time with her and she's been a wonderful supporter as well.
--My visit with my mom was much different than the one from earlier this summer--very low key but great to share time together. (Some concerns as it's apparent that her retention skills have decreased in recent years...but hopefully it's something that will regulate rather than increase.)
--Dad's biopsy....not totally clean and clear but it sounds like they're going to monitor and we'll hope that what is there won't grow. Yet another fear in a potential long holding pattern....but we'll continue to enjoy the moments that we all do have together and hope that those moments continue!

--Tonight I ran 4.9 miles and could have gone further. I'm thinking a 10k at least might not be too far in my future...and wondering if I could make the jump to a half for fun sooner rather than later. Currently I'm registered to do The Color Run at the end of this month...but I've been contemplating whether I can fit in a few other races before the end of year.
--Still figuring out how to make more of the year 30 goals reach completion, but know that I'll be steadily on my way...especially once I get some additional income to make some of the travel options more viable again.
--I have a new lead on another counselor--left a message today for an initial appointment for the next week.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Half-Oregon Tour

Katie's here from Georgia and we've been busy doing a driving tour of Oregon. Ironically, I thought she was to fly in mid-afternoon on Friday but when I woke up early that morning (dehydrated and with a headache after a totally fun night of bowling and brews with my cousin and Tall D's two apartment mates), I re-checked her itinerary and discovered her flight landed mid-morning. Ensue throwing items into bags, fixing coffee, loading up the car, watering the plants/feeding animals....and then heading for the airport! :)

Picked Miss Katie up and then we headed to SE PDX for breakfast at Jam (amazing french toast--delicious!) before heading south on the interstate. After a quick stop at the North Face Outlet and Freddies, we kept driving until we arrived at my hometown on the coast. A quick trip to pick up new running goods and then we headed to my alma mater for the civil war football game with the cross-town rivals. We won by a large margin and after the game Katie and I headed onto the field to say quick hellos to hometown friends and love on Tall D's godkid. On the field I also ran into an old buddy of mine--someone I haven't talked to since I married and it was great to be able to smooth over some rippled water...and hopefully he and I will be able to restore an old friendship.

Saturday morning K and I were treated to breakfast goodies provided by Dad, before swinging through a coffee stand on our way out to the beach and a quick tour of the local coastal areas:
Katie's first time in the Pacific

Ships in one of the local harbors

We got to see one of my favorite off-shore reefs that is home to a whole host of barking sea lions and seals year round:

After a quick return to load the Sorento and wish my parents well, we hit the road toward Central Oregon:
Umpqua River--which I've decided I definitely need to explore further

And then we made it to Crater Lake:

We'd talked about camping, but I was worried that Miss K might get too cold at night, so after snapping numerous photos and a LONG trip to the gift shop, we headed for Bend in Central Oregon. We rented a hotel room, walked to dinner and large beers at Applebees, and then glorious showers later...we hopped into our beds...and I relished in finding Stella happily getting her groove back via a little help from Taye Diggs and TBS. 

This morning we checked out and hit up McKay Cottage for a delicious breakfast, mimosas, and coffee on the lawn. We made a stop for photos at Odgen Bridge (overlooking a 300ft drop to the Crooked River) and Smith Rock State Park:

Back in the car, we continued on our loop toward Portland with a stop at Mt Hood's Timberline Lodge:
The view from the Lodge.

Looking up at Mt Hood.

Katie got to deposit one of her trackables in the geocache.

And then after all that, we headed for home....with a quick stop downtown for happy hour at one of my favorite places: Jake's Crawfish (amazing happy hour food & drinks!) and a quick trip through Powell's (used & new bookstore that takes up an entire city block downtown). I made K promise to keep me empty handed, and she did a great job of holding me to that while only picking up a needed vet tech dictionary for her program.

Back at the house, unloaded the car, took care of my thirsty critters, did some laundry, and then we called it a night fairly early. In a lot of ways it's been really great to have a visitor--given me an excuse to explore and share more of this beautiful state. I'd never been to Crater Lake nor up to Mt Hood, and I found other areas of Oregon that I'd seriously love to explore further (hiking the Umpqua trail by chance?!) There are other areas I'd love to show her, but there isn't enough time and by now we're both pretty tired! Two more days together to take care of some general needs and explore/share Portland....and then Miss Katie will be already leaving! SO GLAD TO HAVE HER HERE!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Evening GratiTUDES: Part Siete

Tonight is a harder one. A wonderful day but it's definitely a harder evening emotionally than I've had in the the last handful of days....so maybe listing some gratitudes will be a good thing?!

Today I'm thankful for:

---Attentive dogs who read me like a book

---Mom's presence in the house these last few days, especially in the evenings, and her ability to alter a few of my freebie shirts

---Enjoyment from cooking up another new dinner combination--most of which was from locally grown veggies and healthy options

---Breakfasts of fruit and coffee

---A trip out to Sauvies Island for sunshine and farm goods with two of my cousins

---A quick peek at adorable farm animals

---Backroads and country music, especially Little Big Town's Pontoon song :)

---Fitting in a quick Insanity work-out in the garage

---The delicious taste of yesterday's applesauce

---The ability to honestly write an email last night from my soul

---Trying to trust in God's hand over my life

---Prayers for grace at the dinner table

---Feeling my muscles becoming leaner and stronger

---The feel of sunshine kissing skin

---Great news of baby #2 on the way for my friend Heather!

---Getting a box of free pears from my aunt & uncle

---Reading blogs of like-minded individuals

---And hitting the hay early to hopefully be able to sleep off these emotions!

I'm grateful for each one of you readers :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Evening GratiTUDES: Part Seis

---A bit of a morning sleep-in, especially since it was lighter sleep in the wee morning hours.

---Another slow morning of coffee & pjs while Mom took a quick cat nap...and I checked into my regular online goodies.

---Washing the sheets today which will hopefully stop whatever's been biting/itching my feet and ankles in the wee morning hours. :)

---Wearing yet another of gal D's hand-me-downs...and loving the trip down high school apparel memory lane.

---A quick visit with Tall D exchanging our vacuum for a float tube...but that also included a 30 minute chat in the garage and as always left me glad to have seen him.

---Quick errands with Mom with the dogs riding along in back.

---Same day replies from the short-term counselor I saw as an undergrad and from several friends who are counselors offering more referrals, including the name of the other gal I'd thought about last night but couldn't remember ...and another potential wonderful option.

---Heartfelt prayers said today direct from my soul to the big man up there.

---A sweat drenching Insanity DVD work-out in the garage this afternoon to work the core and get the high cardio going....followed by a 1.8 quick jog/run.

---A quick trip to the "man store" aka Bi-Mart to pick up more canning supplies and to grab something for Mom as well....which also included a total hottie alert. What is it about my local Bi-mart providing some phenomenal eye candy?!

---Solidifying Thursday evening bowling plans with the cousin and the boys...and tossing out ideas for other to-dos.

---Looking forward to tomorrow's trip for sun & farm goods with the cousin.

---An evening spent turning two bags of apples into tasty applesauce.

---Great post-workout protein smoothies....and a creative but tasty thrown together lunch of salmon melts. Remembering how much I love coming up with new takes on left-overs....and enjoying putting to use the food I already have.

---The feel of a cleansing shower five hours post sweat-dripping work-out and one hour post applesauce splatters. Always feels amazing!

---Finishing grading for the summer term and submitted grades into our online system. Summer term of teaching is over. Friday morning I'll turn in my key and finish any paperwork for my other job. Still will do an initial conversation once the new hires on in a few weeks but glad to have that chapter ending.

---Looking forward to Miss Katie arriving!

---As always appreciation of Tall D looking after the dogs and place.

---Potential buy-in from G to help me train and run in a half this year, since he's just starting to get into regular running. We'll see if it really pans out, but the idea of someone also training even sort-of with me, left me beaming!

---Continued patience with many individuals in life. Continued realizations about myself and areas for improvement. And continued ability to bring myself back to peace even in today's moments when life fears started to get the best of me.

Here's to a Closet Clean-Out!

Yesterday's Outfit (sorry for the horrible quality):
Skinny jeans: Ha-Walmart (2 years ago)
Granny cardigan: Thrifted (years ago)
Embellished blue tunic: D's closet
Clutch: recent Kohl's $25
Sandals: Steve Madden via recent Ross $12
Gold earrings: mom's closet
Gold bracelet: art museum gift store $20

Yes, I know you can't see this outfit and I actually only wore the old lady sweater for about an hour during errands..and yes, I attempted to belt it all to actually accentuate my waist. And then I took the belt off, stopped worrying about the flowy shirt making me look preggers, and I ran out the door.....and actually came to love the combo the longer I wore it! :)

Today's Outfit:
Black shirt: Target
Olive green cargo skirt: D's closet
(To be added) Black T strap sandals: Ether's on NW 23rd $20
Black accessories: clearance Target

This particular outfit cracks me up....because I swear to you that I wore almost the exact same thing my junior year of high school. Although back then the black shirt said Banana Republic and the skirt was actual khaki color....and the sandals were clunky Doc Marten's. Yep...those were the days, especially since the summer before Mom somehow got this notion to spoil me with a mega shopping trip. I'm pretty sure that summer is the only time I bought legit name brand stuff...without it being from an outlet that is. Ha...back when I thought paying a company to advertise for them by wearing their name on me was the cool thing to do! :) 
 I can't decide if this combination is just the modern take on a time-less classic combo....or if I'm just throwing back to casual high school days. Ha! Regardless it's easy peasy...and that pretty much makes it a viable outfit option for me on a summer day.

Closet-Cleanouts are Happy Enducing:
Now, why am I posting these bad pictures of outfits? (And don't answer that it's cause my pictures are almost always blurry and shadow-y! :)) I'm posting because I'm stoked that my gal D cleaned out her closet while I was visiting....and the best type of clothes to get are of the free variety! :) Plus there's almost nothing as fun as standing in your girlfriend's walk-in closet pulling on and off multiple garments and chatting about what works and what doesn't. So I came back with two dresses, the tunic, four skirts, and four tanks somehow shoved into my already full carry-on luggage. (One dress was one I'd borrowed on my 2009 trip and LOVED, so I'd secretly hoped it might be in the mentioned give-away pile. And there's a sleeveless white button-up in there that's outside my usual comfort style zone that I got talked into...but it might be a decent addition to remedy my overheating while teaching! Outside comfort zone but free goods=give it a worthwhile chance....) While Mom's here, I'm going to have her alter a few of the tops to help them fit better....and I also might have her help me play closet clean-out so she can pass on any extras of mine to some of her old co-workers back home. I feel like I wear most of what I have throughout the year, but I'm in that stage where I still have some pieces from the South that I love but that don't cover as much as I'd like these days when I have male students oogling. So I'm sure I can weed out a few pieces, and it's always nice when you can keep the cycle continuing...

...plus I need to put myself on a spending freeze...stat. I remember when I first got into the simplicity movement, how easily I cleaned out my closet and was able to live on so much less (both of $ and of stuff). Beyond weeding things out and consolidating, I'm also thinking about tracking my money for the month so I can monitor spending/budgeting.....some of those old financial habits and other traits are starting to come back.

Have you cleaned out your closet/cupboards lately or have you scored any awesome free goodies?!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Evening GratiTUDES: Part Cinco

Tonight I'm grateful for:

--A night of sleeping with the screen door feeling the cool air....and the entertainment of hearing the (illegal) neighborhood rooster crowing (or attempting!) at 6:46 this morning!

--8am sunlight chasing away the clouds of 6:46 am.

--Glorious cup of morning coffee and half a mini-watermelon for breakfast. Lounging in pjs over a slow morning mixed between chatting with Mom and checking into Internet news.

--Errands with Mom.

--Discovering the nearby local farm has apples....and starting to think about potential apple preserving projects :)

--Pushing myself to 5.6 miles on my run this afternoon....and Roxi even made it without trying to terrorize any other dogs for once!

--Taking care of all the house/yard to-dos without feeling a sense of burden.

--Preparing two salads (black bean--yum! and again with the healthy kale) to take to the family BBQ.

--Purchasing my first bottle of wine in months....and still not drinking it.

--Major getting extra Mom attention.

--Having Mom's quiet, supportive presence in the house.

--Borrowing paint supplies (again!) from my uncle so I can return at least one of my painted rooms to white.

--Moments of laughter, memories, and catching up with the extended family...while chowing down on some pretty good food.

--Offers of time & support from my aunt & uncle.

--Finally feeling comfortable enough in my body again to wear skinny jeans....and getting the opportunity to wear gal D's hand-me-down awesome tunic. Enjoying wearing a different look!

--Being fortunate to have a week of hot-ish weather still, even with the cool mornings & evenings of fall entering in.

--The humor of headlamps, shovels, and plastic bags on evening hunts to finally pick up after the dogs...to be hauled away in tomorrow's trash pick-up.

--An initial appointment with the new potential counselor, who while maybe not the perfect match, I think will be able to help steer me in the right direction...and be willing to pass the torch if needed.

--Granny and her new found love of potato chips :)

--Relaxing, flexible days ahead with a few subtle plans thrown in.

--Returning to see the beauty and joy in everyday things. Feeling a renewed sense of peace, patience, and trust in my soul. Knowing that there is a deep love that exists in there.

--Being able to actually take care of Mom for once; ie making meals, driving her around, providing books of interest, etc.

--Practicing patience daily these days.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

What's Going in the Garden?

What's growing?!

Grapes came on this year. Few and small, but still exciting to see the grape come back.

Cucumbers--first time ever planting them and they've pretty much been left all alone--but four big boys have come off the vines already.

Asian pear produced 3-5 lil guys this year! Taste amazing!

Volunteer pumpkin starter! We'll see how this guy does as the plant started from seeds that spilled from our old Jack-O-Lantern out front last year! I've just let it grow where it started :)

Kiwis are still growing, carrots are still ready for harvesting, tomatoes are just turning, the pepper is finally turning, artichokes are just about done for, cilantros gone to seed, and the lettuce is getting out of control.

What didn't produce? Green beans, peas, zucchini, green onions, kohlrabi, and the strawberries never put on fruit. While this year has been slimmer pickings than last, I ironically preserved more food from the garden this year. 

If I stick around, I just might even attempt some fall and/or winter gardening....I could see uses for some winter greens, more carrots, perhaps some turnips.....

Evening GratiTUDES: Part Cuatro

I'm seriously thinking that these gratitude posts are a good thing...as they keep me focusing on the good things ALL.DAY.LONG, while also helping me to reframe potential negatives into positives!

Today I'm thankful for the following:

--Waking up to sunshine streaming in my bedroom at 7am. Enjoying a slow wake-up, reflecting upon the meaning of dreams, and enjoying waiting for the dogs to wake up before letting them out.

--A good cup of joe, pajamas, and a long morning working while still in bed... also looking up other bits of interesting and needed info online.

--Completing the term's grading this morning/early afternoon. One more section of discussions to grade on Tuesday and then final grades can be transferred over on Tuesday/Wednesday, and that's the end of summer term!

--Smoothies and snacks of veggies from the garden.

--Getting in a 4.1 mile run with the dogs in full sunshine while listening to Christian artists.... and pushing it beyond my original mileage goal. Also tested out my new toe socks--definitely helped with the ankle rubbing although the extra cushion will take some getting used to!

--Weather reports of mid-to-high 80s all week long! Thank you for another week of summer!

--Researching and purchasing a replacement vacuum. Hunted down a 20% off coupon making it a better savings at BBB than via Amazon....and that also meant I could actually vacuum my carpets today! :) Set-up was a breeze to boot.

--Brief text check-ins with my Georgia gals.

--Researching potential church options in the local area.

--Taking the time to pick-up a few mom-specific foods so she wouldn't need to make any extra special trips to the store today.

--Mom's arrival...and the fact that I think she found me in a better place than she'd expected to. Chatting in the kitchen this evening, getting her situated in the guest room, and chit chatting about plans for the next few days.

--Clean duvet covers free of dog hair and dirt....and hung-outside-to-dry-smelling pillow cases as I go to sleep tonight.

--Cooking dinner! Such enjoyment out of throwing together baked salmon sprinkled with Tony's surrounded by roasted halved cherry tomatoes and chopped up sweet and red potatoes....and served with a kale side salad with cucumbers, avocados, and sesame seeds. Delicious AND nutritious!

--Enjoyment of thinking of other gluten-free meal ideas while Mom's here...and starting to think about what to potentially fix for Katie.

--Plans for a late afternoon extended family BBQ tomorrow...and a potential float outing with the cousin mid-week!

--Regulating and purging of hormones....and what is starting to feel like a potential return to a more balanced version of myself.

--Extra thrifted canning jars brought by Mom...and a request to find apples to make an apple pie.

--Praying outloud for the first time in months with another person....grace over dinner.

--Happy dog smiles riding in the back of the Sorento during today's errands....and Anna's new found love of resting her head lazily on top of the middle seat.

--Opening my eyes more and more on areas where I could make improvements...and areas where I can/have/should realign.

--New thoughts on the future and new goals in mind.

--Online bill pay features. Savings. Checking account cushions.

--Clean carpets....and clean kitchen counters. :)

--Cussing less due to spending so much time around little ears...and hoping I can keep the foul words to a minimum!

--Openness of tomorrow!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Evening GratiTUDES: Part Tres

Since I was gone yesterday, I spent part of the evening thinking about things I was thankful for....and I've sure been thinking about them today too!

The last two days I've been thankful for:
---Quality time with a new pal bumming around in the woods. The scenery was gorgeous. The physical movement was fulfilling.....and there's nothing quite like Anna's perma-hiking-smile. :)

---No issues on the overnight trip. Safety. Easy parking, easy traffic. No dog flip outs or injuries. Everything set up and functioned well.

---Flexibility and patience.

---Tall D letting me borrow his parking pass, the tent, water filter, jet boil, his knife, his headlamp....and providing me with a new backpacking meal to try and offering all sorts of other camping help. Plus his suggestion to do Eagle Creek.

---Having the opportunity to just lay a few of my thoughts out on the table with no muss, no fuss.

---An appointment with the new potential therapist for Monday night. No payment required for first go and she seems friendly to boot.

---Completed a job application prior to leaving yesterday and found quite a few other potentials around the state and out of state while looking tonight.

---Understanding and supportive landlords.

---Fun texts from my aunts and cousin who are over enjoying the family beach cabin together.

---Mom's visit starts and I won't be alone again until Katie leaves mid next week!

---An afternoon cuddle session with an impatient Lady cat. Apparently she needed her entire month of love in a five minute pet & purr session! For a cat who rarely likes attention, it was quite entertaining.

---An hour laying out in the afternoon sun on the patio.

---My brother doing some outdoor enjoyment of his own in Central Oregon.

---Invitations out with friends. I love being asked to do things--even when I'm too tired to be able to join in!

---Pleasantries and small talk exchanged with many other trail patrons along the way!

---Four eggs and the first ripe tomato waiting for me when I got home.

---The ease of researching travel, work, housing, school, and all sorts of options via the internet.

---Delicious smoothies, fresh veggies, and egg scrambles to replenish.

---Accomplishing another year 30 goal and also continuing to make headway on the summer goal list too.

Hope you all have been feeling grateful too! :) Here's to the rest of a long Labor Day weekend--hope you're getting out there to enjoy!

Eagle Creek Backpacking Trip...

.....and my first solo/girls overnight wilderness trip!

T coming around the bend when we first started out.

One of the many falls along the trail.

Tunnel Falls sign: Turn around point. We hiked to the falls and then headed back to make camp for the night.

Part of the rocky trail-T's least favorite parts! :)

Camp for the night--down off the trail and just a bit up from the creek. Great lil spot!

View this morning looking up creek while I filtered fresh water.

The dogs and I at the end!

Woot--first solo/girls backpacking trip! T and I got to the trailhead for Eagle Creek about 2ish yesterday afternoon. The trail is rocky and popular, so we navigated LOTS of rough terrain and around lots of people and other dogs for the first 3-4 miles. We made it to Tunnel Falls last evening (6 mile mark) but I wasn't sure about navigating any additional miles without being sure of campsites/terrain, so we turned around and headed back to a section of open spots about 2 miles back down trail. It turned out to be a great lil campspot and T was pretty impressed with my ability to set up camp, filter water, cook dinner, and get us and the dogs settled in for the night. Tall D taught me well! Per usual I didn't sleep much but my new sleeping bag was toasty against the chilly night air! Early in the still dark morning, I could feel Roxi shivering outside the tent so I had to fix the extra rain fly so that it'd give her a bit more protection, but overall the night was peaceful and soothing.

T was a great sport and good company, but I think she was definitely glad when we'd made it back today! I'm so used to being the one bringing up the rear with Tall D, so it was sort of a role reversal the last two days to be the one to haul most the stuff, set up/break down, and have to keep my own & the dogs pace in check so as not to tire T out too much. I was impressed we'd covered 12 miles in the round trip and I'm pretty sure this was the heaviest pack I've had strapped on my back yet. Glad to learn I can do it "on my own" but not sure if I'm really ready for a truly solo trip---it was nice to have someone else around in the dark of the night! :) And honestly it was just plain fulfilling to share an outdoor pursuit with another female!

I'd thought of plenty of other trails to attempt but am glad that T and I took this route. The other routes would be better options for Tall D and I to potentially do together...or for me to eventually achieve on my own!

**This is also the first time in a year that I wore regular running shoes rather than toe shoes, as my feet were majorly sore and hurting from the terrain the last backpacking trip. However I'm not used to wearing running shoes at this point either--so my feet are still a bit sore, but just in different ways! Hmm......

Those 12 miles did me in however and I'll be calling it an early night for sure!