Individual Frozen Smoothies

Hi there!

We have had a beautiful weekend in Oregon – high 50’s and sunny.  It is glorious!

Lately, I have been struggling with healthy snacks and breakfast ideas.  I need something quick and satisfying.  Raw veggies haven’t been cutting it!

Jake and I have been doing smoothies about once per week but we don’t have a high powered blender so it takes us a while to get the right consistency of fluid and fruit and many times our smoothies end up more watered down then we would like.  I started doing some searching on Pinterest for smoothie ideas and discovered the idea of freezing individual smoothie “packets”.  Essentially, you place all the ingredients for the smoothie in freezer bags except for sweetener and liquid.

IMG_0099Because of all of my freezing of fruit (cherries, strawberries, blueberries, and peaches) last summer we had everything on hand and the packets came together in a pinch.  I made the following smoothie packets:

  • Strawberry Oat (oatmeal, almonds, strawberries, yogurt, banana, honey)
  • Tropical (mango, peach, banana, kale, coconut water)
  • Cherry Limeade (peach, cherry, milk, lime juice, kale)
  • Berry (kale, blueberries, strawberries, banana, milk, and oats

I will let you know how they work out this week.  I am hoping that if I don’t make one for breakfast, I can still blend one up in the morning and store it in the freezer at work for a quick snack.

Other things we were up to this weekend:

  • Installing 2 new toilets – Jake’s parents got me toilets for my birthday and I am thrilled!  Our toilets were very old and used SO. MUCH. WATER.  And half the time they didn’t flush the toilet contents down!  We actually only ended up getting one in because while installing, the ceramic cracked and broke.  Hopefully we will get the other one in soon.
  • Removing all the bushes (9 in total) from our front corner yard and dug three 3 ft deep holes for blueberries.  Although we knew we wanted to remove all those bushes and make the landscaping edible (blueberries, rhubarb, and raspberries) at some point, we weren’t planning to do it this soon.  We just happened to get a killer deal on mature blueberry plants that we couldn’t pass up.  I hope they survive!  In addition we mowed the lawn, raked so many leaves and filled our entire yard debris bin and still have several piles of yard debris scattered around the rest of the yard.IMG_0101
  • We finished our guest bathroom!  I wish I had before AND after shots.  We updated the light fixture (previous fixture was a large wooden box that extended out from the wall about 1 foot and had a grate that allowed the light to shine through), got a new mirror, and painted (previous paint was purple and blue stripes with a floor to ceiling flower painted behind the door).  Eventually we would like new cabinets, counter top, and sink… one project at a time!
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  • Saturday after the toilets were done we took a quick trip out to Willamette Mission State Park and did a 3 mile walk before it got dark.  I love that we live so close to the outdoors!

In the coming weeks, it is midterms at UP (lots of grading to catch up on for me), I will be traveling to Las Vegas for a conference, and Jake plans to start painting our bedroom.

Hope you had a rejuvenating weekend!



Grand Canyon – Part III

Finally, I have a moment to write a brief post about the final leg of our trip – 4 months later.  I will also do an update at the end of this post about what has been happening the last 4 months.

The final leg of our trip was a lot of driving and quick site seeing.

We spent the last 2 days exploring the South Rim and are really glad we took the time to do so.  There were several visitors centers, shops, and hikes to do.  We even saw a California Condor (bird) that was near extinction but has been reintroduced into the Grand Canyon area.

One of the highlights of our time on the south Rim was dinner at El Tovar.  It was amazing, even if we were slightly under dressed!  We left early the next morning and took a shuttle to the North Rim where we were re-acquainted with our car.  Woohoo!

P1030082 P1030096 Viva Las Vegas!  IMG_1004 Death Valley en route to Yosemite.  We had hoped to drive from Las Vegas to Yosemite but ended up staying the night in Monmouth, CA instead.  I would love to go back there.  It was an adorable little ski town and reminded me a lot of Bozeman.IMG_1011 IMG_1019Finally, Yosemite!  We spent 2 nights here.  I was a little burnt out on camping and absolutely terrified of bears?  It was so absurd but I couldn’t help myself.  I would love to go back sometime when I can enjoy it a little bit more. IMG_1026 Our final stop was Arcata, CA where we stayed in a wonderful bed and breakfast and took day trips to the Redwoods.  It was wonderful and relaxing and the perfect end to our trip.IMG_2226 P1030160 P1030163 IMG_1035What we have been up to lately:

  • We spent Thanksgiving in Sisters and had a blast. From there every weekend was spent celebrating the holidays – work parties, family parties, friends parties.
  • We hosted our first Christmas and I loved it.  We served prime rib, mashed potatoes, roasted vegetable salad, green beans and had cakes for dessert (we were celebrating 2 birthdays that day as well)
  • I wrapped up my first semester teaching at University of Portland.  It was a whirlwind but something I really enjoyed.  Spring semester has been going much more smoothly and I hope it continues that way.
  • We have had several free weekends since the holiday, which has been so relaxing.  Since we are both working about 50 hours per week (or more) it is nice to have free weekends to prepare for the week (meals, laundry, etc.)
  • Because of the free weekends, Jake and I have got back to painting the house.  We have painted 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom (not quite done yet) since the beginning of January and it has made such a difference (photos below)
  • We celebrated Jake’s 30th birthday.  We had about 20 friends over for a Fiesta.  The Margaritas were flowing and I made about 60 homemade flour tortillas for our taco bar.  We finished the night with several rounds of Cards Against Humanity and good laughs.
  • I have been playing with my pressure cooker I received for Christmas most weekends (chicken stock, chicken noodle soup, hummus, and “refried beans” are a few of the things I have made so far).  Looking forward to many more adventures with the pressure cooker.  It amazes me that chicken can cook in about 10 minutes!

Here are a few photos to commemorate the last 2 months:

Christmas Tree hunting.IMG_1079I cooked my first turkey(not for the Holidays – just for fun!).

IMG_1076 Jake’s work party for Christmas! IMG_1088 Lot’s of walks in the park.  It was so cold at the beginning of January that we saw lots of pretty ice in the park.IMG_1107The mess post birthday party bash!IMG_1114New paint, bedroom 1 IMG_1116New paint bedroom 2 IMG_1115 Early morning run.IMG_1118Hope your holidays were fabulous and 2015 is off to a great start!

Grand Canyon – Part II

Be prepared for a long post all….

On Oct 14 we woke up to 35 degree weather but totally ready to hit the trail!  We started to descend the North Kaibab trail head at about 8:15 a.m.  Not 10 minutes later from when this photos was taken, I removed all my layers and rolled my pants up.  It got hot fast.P1010939IMG_2149 IMG_2147 IMG_2140 IMG_2150 IMG_2158 P1010951The hike was a total of 6.8 miles with 4200 feet elevation change. We took several short breaks and arrived at Cottonwood Campground around 12:45 and temperature read 81 degrees.  The trail was absolutely beautiful but scary!  Many times we were right on cliffs edge, which was unnerving for me given my fear of heights.  One thing Jake and I found really amazing was the drastic changes in vegetation as you make your way to the bottom.  They say that for every 1000 feet in elevation change it is as if you were driving south towards mexico 300 miles.  Pretty amazing!

The canyon gets dark early (5:30) so we had an early dinner and were out cold by 8:00 p.m. that night.   We slept without a rain fly the entire trip and it was fun to wake up at 1:30 in the morning as the moon crept over the canyon walls and my calves screamed in pain from the hike earlier!

The next morning we got up at 5:30 to pack up camp and head out on our longest hike.  It was supposed to reach 90 degrees that day so we wanted to be out earlier to avoid hiking in the hottest part of  the day.

P1010960 IMG_2167 P1010964 P1010978This part of the hike was in.the.canyon.  There were literally canyon walls on both sides as we hiked right next to the stream.   Little did we know the heat was going to be the least of our worries.  I woke up with calves in huge knots.  For some reason this translated into a very uncomfortable pain (couldn’t bear weight on it!) on the outside of my left knee.  Although I didn’t tell this to Jake, I was a tiny bit worried I may not make it out.  Thank goodness for advil and hiking poles.

We arrived at Phantom Ranch at 11:00 a.m. after a 7 mile hike.  After a lazy couple of hours we decided to take a 2 mile hike down to the Colorado River.

P1010995Who know it looked like chocolate milk!?  One thing Jake forgot to mention was that this hike crossed, not 1, but 2 suspension bridges!  Ahh!  I practically ran across those things.  After all that excitement, I was famished.  The wonderful about staying at Bright Angel Campground at Phantom Ranch is that there are amenities there – like a canteen.  With beer.  HEAVEN!

P1030028Not only was there beer but there was also air conditioning and Snickers.  I don’t even like Snickers but it tasted so good!  Phantom Ranch also offers rangers hikes, self-guided history tours, and breakfast, lunch, and dinner if you wish.  We spent two nights here and definitely could have spent more time.  We did a couple short hikes, ranger talks, and the self-guided history tour and spent lots of time lounging in the warm sun and reading books.  One thing I learned quickly at Phantom Ranch was that if I wore my headlamp on my head the bats would literally  swoop at me.  After one close call, I quickly moved my headlamp to my wrist.  Ekkk!  Side note: By this point we had been on day 5 without showers.  I wrote in my journal: “I found myself feeling a little self-conscious around all the showered and make-uped people at the canteen.  Our hair will stand up in whatever way you shape it!”.

IMG_2196IMG_2190On Oct 17th we hiked from Bright Angel Campground to Indian Garden.  I woke up on the wrong side of the air mattress and was a bit crank for at least half of our 5 mile hike.  Thank goodness Jake is patient.  We climbed 1200 ft this day and, once again, the views were spectacular!

IMG_2203 P1030033 IMG_2210 P1030043 P1030042 P1030059Later that afternoon I noticed I was freezing and my throat was hurting.  I was so happy we saved the lentil soup, beef stew, and tea for our last day!  That combined with a bed time of 6:30 p.m. had me waking up refreshed and ready to climb out of the canyon.  One more goofy journal musing: “I have started to master the art of pulling the flimsy toilet paper off the wall.  The compostable pit toilets have very thin toilet paper.  Every time I try and pull it off  the roll I get tiny little pieces.  Even when I do get a few decent sized pieces I get urine all over my hands.  Jake has finally taught me the proper angle with which to pull the paper to get a substantial wad with some success!”.  Oh the things that amuse after being in the wilderness for several days!

On Oct 18th we headed up the trail 3000 ft and 4.5 miles.  We were both so anxious for a shower we were up and hiking at 7:00 a.m.!

IMG_2212 IMG_2213 P1030069 P1030070 P1030073 We made it to the South Rim at 9:45 a.m. on a high that only comes after realizing you traveled all the way across this beautiful canyon.

IMG_0994Stay tuned… the final leg of our trip coming soon!

Bryce + North Rim Grand Canyon

On Friday evening after work we started our voyage making it is far as Sisters.  We woke up early Saturday morning and drove through eastern Oregon, southern Idaho (so flat, long, and boring – thank goodness we were able to stream the ducks football game), and down to Provo, UT.


Of course, we couldn/t drive through SLC without stopping at The Annex by Epic Brewery.  We can get Epic Brewery beers in select beer shops in Oregon but the food.  OMG.  It was good.  Jake had a lamb burger with a salad and I had trout with lentils and fall vegetables.  Mmmm…. I highly recommend!  And for a Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. we got right in.  Bonus!

IMG_0980The next morning we woke up to dark clouds over the mountains and roaring winds.  We quickly checked the weather and  Bryce was forecasted at high of 45 degrees and 40 MPH winds.  Eeekkk!

IMG_2104As we wrestled to set up our large tent, we briefly contemplated getting a hotel, but instead wrapped our big tent back up and pulled out the small backpacking tent.  This was much easier to set up in the wind!  Despite the weather, Bryce is beautiful.  The tall spikey things are called Hoodoo’s and Jake and I did a short 3 mile hike down around the Hoodoo’s.

IMG_2102P1010900P1010903P1010890IMG_2137IMG_2119IMG_2117It was so cold (woke up and it was 29 degrees!!) on the night we stayed in Bryce, we ended up making ourselves some tea and going for another walk along the rim to keep warm! Bryce is a smaller park so you don’t need a lot of time there but it was definitely worth the stop and the stars.  My goodness, the stars!

Next stop: North Rim Grand Canyon!

We arrived at the North Rim in early afternoon and by the time we set up camp and got our backpacks ready for the next day it was already 3:30 p.m.  We had planned to do a 4 mile hike from the campground to Bright Angel View Point but sunset was 6:00 p.m. and didn’t think we would have enough time.  Instead, we drove to the lodge, walked out to Bright Angel View Point and enjoyed a drink on the patio.


P1010924  IMG_0992 IMG_0990 As we were cleaning up dinner we realized the sun was still high in the sky at 6:00 p.m…. we had forgotten to turn our clocks after driving into AZ.  Stupid AZ time zones!  But it gave us time to take some quick pictures of the sunset.

P1010936 P1010931It was another cold night but we were so ready to hit the next part of our adventure we went to bed early in anticipation of hitting the trail!

Hold tight for Part II… coming soon!