Monday, April 25, 2011

Blueberry Banana Bread

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I love when there are a few extra ripe bananas sitting in the fruit bowl.  It gives me an excuse to bake something tasty!  There also happens to be a few bags of frozen blueberries in my freezer from last year's harvest.  This recipe for blueberry banana bread was just jumping off the page waiting to be embraced.  And embraced it was!  The loaf was almost gone as soon as it came out of the oven.  I barely was able to snap a photo of a slice before it was gobbled down. 

Blueberry Banana Bread

1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
2 cups + 1 Tablespoon flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
1/2 cup buttermilk
6 Tablespoons melted butter
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 350 degF.  Mix blueberries with 1 Tablespoon of flour (this helps to keep the blueberries from falling in the batter while baking).  In a separate bowl, blend fry ingredients - flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.  In another bowl, whisk bananas, buttermilk, butter and egg to blend.  Stir flour mixture into wet mixture until moist (note: batter will be stiff).  Fold in the blueberries.  Pour batter into a greased loaf pan; sprinkle with oatmeal streusel (press in lightly).  Bake for 60-70 minutes until a inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Oatmeal Streusel:
In a bowl, combine 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup rolled outs, 1/4 cup chopped banana chips (optional), 2 tablespoons of brown sugar (packed) and 2 tablespoons of butter (cut into chunks) and 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon.  Mix all ingredients with fingers until fine crumbs form.

Happy Baking!

Linking Up To:
Today's Creative BlogSweet Tooth Friday

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Olympic National Park - A Land of Contrasts and Variety

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Photo Courtesy of the National Park Service
These majestic mountains reside in my backyard!
I wake up every morning to see them glistening in the distance.
In a short 20 mile drive, I can be in the Olympic National Park.
Who's a lucky girl?!

The Olympic National Park is surely the most diverse of all of our grand national parks.  Within its boundaries are miles of coastal and tide lands, the largest old-growth forest with trees over 1000 years old, temperate rain forests, hot water springs, sub alpine meadows and magnificent glaciers.

Map of Olympic National Park (courtesy of

One of my favorite hikes is at Hurricane Ridge located 17 miles straight up the mountain from Port Angeles.  It is a favorite of our guests who have made the trek.This past week, while my dad was in the dentist's chair in Port Angeles, my mother and I took a drive up the mountain - I thought you might enjoy seeing photos of our little adventure.

Top: Photos of the drive up the mountain. Snow started only a few miles up.
Bottom: 'Looks like Christmas!' Deer nibbling the new growth along the road.

View of Straight of Juan de Fuca and Vancouver Island in the distance.
Tidbit: At 7,980 feet, Mount Olympus is the highest peak
 in Olympic National Park and has the third largest
glacial system in the contiguous U.S.

Even though there was snow everywhere, it was a beautiful day at the crest.
My mother wanted to take in the sun so I attempted to wheel her up the path,
but alas we only made it a short distance.  We saw two guys strapping on
skis for a back-woods downhill adventure.  Woo hoo!!

I  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE  our national parks!! 

If you are not familiar with our National Park Service, check it out.  Chances are there is a national park, forest or monument close to you. 

This is what Hurricane Ridge looks like in July and August - wild flowers replace the snow!
Tidbit: 95 percent of Olympic National Park is designated as Wilderness.

2011 Fee-Free Days:  April 16-24, June 21, September 24, November 11-1

Many of the 394 our national parks NEVER charge an entrance fee.

Annual pass (one year from date of issue): $80
Senior Lifetime Pass: $10 (62+ years)
Disabilities Pass:  Free
Volunteer Pass:  Free (500+ hours of service)

If you find yourself in Seattle, perhaps departing for a cruise to Alaska, consider staying an extra week or two so that you can venture out to the Olympic Peninsula and the Olympic National Park.  Guaranteed to be a highlight of your adventure to the Pacific Northwest!

Linking up to: TidyMom

Tidy Mom

Friday, April 22, 2011

Fun in my Studio

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Birthday season in our family is fast approaching!
So, I've started creating birthday cards for the ladies and
a few extra for Operation Write Home.

This week's Papertrey Ink challenge is to emboss your project with dies.
I've combined the project with the CR84FN weekly color challenge and
came up with this beauty.  I like how it turned out.

The flower was created using Papertrey Ink's Large Scalloped Border die
and muslin fabric.  Papertrey Ink's vintage buttons were added to finish the flower.

Papertrey Ink's Fillable Frames #9 Stamp Set and coordinating die
was used to create this tag.  I embossed the tag using the die and
then trimmed it out with scissors.
Sentiment: Papertrey Ink Make A Wish stamp set.

Coordinating scrap paper was layered and the stitched around the border
for effect.  A muslin ruffle, rick-rack and angora yarn were added
to finish the effect.  The panel was then adhered to the front of
a Papertrey Ink scored notecard.

Do you like this design?  The sentiment on the tag could easily
be swapped with anything to create a card for any special
occasion.  I think I may try making the same card using
a different color scheme and other fabrics.

4/25/11 Update:   Linking up to Today's Creative Blog

I received such positive feedback on this card that I made another.  It's available in my etsy shop (see link on right sidebar) if you are interested. 

It's Earth Day - Hug A Tree!

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by Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918)

I THINK that I shall never see
A poem as lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth's flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

I don't consider myself a tree hugger, not in the sense that is typically associated with the term anyway.  However, I have been known to put my arms around and delight in a few trees on Otter Hill.  My favorite of all is the Madrona tree that sits in the very center of the property like a regal queen amongst her subjects.  She wasn't always so beautiful though.  When we acquired Otter Hill, Miss Madrona was very sad and neglected.  Previous tenants had built a bonfire at her base and she is badly scarred.  The wild blackberry bushes were encrouching and strangling the life out of her.  With tender care and gentle hands, my husband and my mother nurtured her back to life.  Now, Miss Madrona sparkles and sings her praises to heaven with her outstretched arms.  The animals take delight in her.  Our guests take delight in her.  Every day I sit and enjoy her beauty, and occassionally I give her a big hug.

With each passing day that I take in the breath of life, I am more and more in awe of the God's creation - this planet we call Earth.  Living a country life on the Island has a way of putting one more in touch with all of God's living things.  I suppose with age also comes maturity and new appreciation for the many blessings received.  I no longer take Mother Earth for granted.  I respect her and her offspring - even a simple Madrona tree. 

Madrona twins (left)
A Hawthorne tree, right outside of my studio, is believed to provide a portal for fairies.
Pine twins (right)
My resolution at the start of this year was to be a better steward of the many blessings Our Lord has bestowed on me - to waste less, to live life more fully, and to be a blessing to someone each and every day (see original post here).  Today, Earth Day, I reconfirm my resolution to honor God by living a more sustainable life - to move from a consuming economy to a conserving economy - and sharing my learnings with you.

Vintage fruit trees that bear delicious apples and pears.
They are favored by the coyotes and deer.

A grove of pines and cedars that provide a canopy over our fire pit.
Jacob's tree (below)

Tall, old-growth majestics frame the snow-capped Olympic Mountains in the distance.
An eagle sits high above overlooking the bay.

Rejoice in God's creations - Hug a tree today!


But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In His Hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.  - Job 12:7-10 NIV

Monday, April 18, 2011

Asparagus Parmesan Tart

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Photo Courtesy of

Fresh asparagus is showing up in the market these days.  It looked so good the other day that I picked up a bundle.  Thumbing through a couple of cookbooks (see old post), I came across this tasty looking recipe for a tart.  It seemed like the perfect addition to the roasted chicken thighs and saffron rice being served that evening.

Asparagus - Parmesan Tart
From Martha Stewart's Dinner at Home 
(Recipe and Video also available here)

1 sheet (14 ounces) frozen puff pastry, thawed
All-purpose flour, for dusting
1 large egg, well beaten
10 medium asparagus spears, tough ends trimmed, shaved into thin strips using a vegetable peeler
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface, just until creases are smooth. Trim dough to a 10-inch square. Lightly score a 1/2-inch border around dough. Brush off excess flour and transfer dough to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze 15 minutes.

2.Brush border of dough with the beaten egg. Bake until puffed and starting to brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Toss asparagus with the oil, and season with salt and pepper.

3.Remove tart shell from oven and press down on the center with a spatula. Arrange asparagus on top. Bake until asparagus is crisp-tender, about 8 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle cheese evenly on top. Bake until cheese is melted, about 4 minutes more. Let cool on a wire rack 5 minutes before slicing into squares.  Deb's Tip:  Use a pizza cutter to slice tart into squares.

I can't wait for those little flowery asparagus heads to pop through the soil in our garden.  It is amazing when freshly picked and served the same day!
4/21/11 Update:  Linking up to

Saturday, April 16, 2011

My New Blogging Buddies

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Sweet darling Lyndsay and Sarah started The Blog Guidebook as a resource to help the blogging community get its groove on.  I recently discovered this awesome resource and wanted to share it with all of you.  Just this month, they launched a new Blog Club and I signed on. A small group of 5-6 bloggers are hooked up to form a group with the idea that fellow club members will consistently read and follow each others blogs.  Honest feedback and idea sharing is encouraged, and no doubt friendships will be born.

Here are the links to the fabulous ladies whom I have been connected with.

At the Bargain Hoot, Rene shares her tips for bargains, DIY decor, recipes, craftings and weddings and events.  The Bargain Hoot has lovely photos, great ideas for simple projects and recipes, and easy money saving tips.

Carolyn is the proprietor of Mulberry Heights Antiques in Alabama.  Her blog, It Doesn't Fall From the Tree, provides inspiration for home decor and antiques.  I love antiques and the stories they tell - can't wait to explore Mulberry Heights.

Nicola is from the UK and has a lovely etsy shop featuring hand-knit creations.  Life on Orchard Road will draw you into her world and every day loves.

Diane at Sweet European Dreams shares vintage and kitchy collectibles from Europe.  You'll be begging your grandmother for her treasures after visiting Sweet European Dreams.

Dawn is a certified health and wellness coach.  At Dawn Dishes It Out you will find healthy recipes and lifestyle tips.  I'm anxious to try out some of her recipes already - who knew you could make chocolate pudding with avocados?!

I'm lovin' The Blog Guidebook's Blog Club and my new blogging buddies!

Welcome Ladies to Footprints From Otter Hill!  Perhaps one day we will all be sitting together enjoying a glass of wine and Puget Sound oysters here on my deck on Marrowstone Island!  Cheers!

Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

Link Ups:

Tidy Mom

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Defining Moment

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A Defining Moment:  A point at which the essential nature or character
of a person, group, etc.,  is revealed or identified.

This photo taken many, many years ago by a high-school yearbook photographer
captures a defining moment for me.  It reveals the essence of who I am. 

I was a senior in high school - only 16 years old at the time and barely broke
100 pounds on the scale.  I had just been accepted into one of the nation's best
engineering schools which had started accepting female applicants only a couple
of years before (thank you Title 9).  I wanted to take in the fun of senior year. 
I left my musical instruments and dawned a flag for the school color guard. 
I challenged the school board to allow me to take Machine Shop so that
I could be better prepared for college engineering classes. 
I was the first female student to work a lathe in that school.
I'll never forget the (male) instructor's face when I came to class
this day and started working on my project.
I had no idea that this photo was taken until yearbook came out.
It is one of my favorite photos - it gets me.

To my loving parents -
Thank you for always encouraging me to be all that I can be,
For always reminding me to never let anyone stand in
the way of my dreams and passion, 
And for being great examples of God's shining light.

Wishing all of you find your defining moment and in that moment be blessed by Our Lord's grace,

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Only A Fool Argues With The Cook

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How many cookbooks are too many
for one household to own?




Oh and don't forget these ...

Ninety - four.

Yes, ninety-four cookbooks are too many
cookbooks for one household to own.

(Must remember to tell friends and family not
to buy us any more cookbooks - unless they
personally authored and signed it just for me.)

Peter Walsh, author of It's All Too Much
suggests using post-it notes to help sort through
which cookbooks to keep and which cookbooks to move on.

I got Post-it notes.

Over the next year, I will judiciously sort through
the cookbooks.  Post-it notes will flag any recipes
that I want to keep.  If less than ten recipes are flagged,
the recipes will be scanned using NeatReceipts
and the cookbook moved on for someone else to
love and treasure. 

My Goal:  To keep only twelve cookbooks.

Wish me luck!

Link Ups:  
Tip Junkie handmade projects

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