Story Time

I haven’t blogged a ton lately, for a few reasons. I’ve been working (of course), I’ve been re-doing the spare room into my office (that was well worth it!), and I’m writing a book.

I’m thinking about writing a little series on this blog, but I’d really like to hear your thoughts on this. Is anybody interested in reading short bits that add up? It would be fiction, possibly a mystery. I would probably write once a week. I might write the first bit up to see if I can get some feedback, but what do you think, friends??

In the meantime, here’s my little office!

The room can still accommodate guests, as well

I’m very happy with how it turned out. I still have some painting to do, but that’s about it. I love being in this space, and I’m getting a fair amount of writing done!

Pretty please, make a comment to let me know if a story series (along with my regular stuff) sounds like something you wouldn’t mind (or might even like).

I Made Sushi!

I decided to have a go at making sushi so I could take it for lunch. I worked Monday and Tuesday, so I made these on Sunday afternoon. I learned there are recipes for sushi rice, which was a surprise. Apparently, you take the cooked sushi rice and add a mixture of seasoned rice vinegar, white wine vinegar, salt, and sugar. I cooked the rice in my InstantPot (it has a setting for it, so it’s easy-peasy, lemon squeezy). I put all of my supplies together and got ready to roll.

I’ve tried this many years ago, but I don’t think I had the supplies or looked up directions. As you can imagine, I failed miserably. I still ate the fish, but I also made a mess. Now I have a sushi mat and I looked up a few videos. There are actually these tube things that you put the ingredients in and push it all out together, but I really like the idea of rolling it and having more control.

My favorite fish is salmon. I mean, I LOVE salmon. Baked, poached, planked, or raw, I really don’t care. It’s wonderful! So for my first sushi roll, I chose to make a Philidelphia roll. I put the rice on the nori sheet (using water to dip my hands in – that rice is STICKY!). I added the cucumber, salmon, and cream cheese, and I was ready to roll it up!

I’m glad I watched the directions. It seems pretty self-explanatory, but it’s still nice to know the little details. I had watched other people put the squeeze on the roll, making it tight, and I did that as well.

Look at this beauty! I was so pleasantly surprised! It looks like a real sushi roll!

I cut it up and tried one to make sure it was good… and it was. So yummy! I made two of these bad boys and had each one for lunch. Now, it was NOT the same the next day. The rice was hard, almost like it was stale. I wonder if it was because it had the vinegars and whatnot, or if it was because I sliced it and that sat in the refrigerator?

Either way, I’ve decided I’ll stick to making this one for home lunches. It was soooo easy for work lunch, but I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to. So, back to the drawing board, always looking for more work lunches. Ach, what a chore! (snicker snicker)

Horse Rock Ridge 03Jul2022

Christine and I wanted to hike Horse Rock Ridge, for the incredible views. So, the day before Independence Day, we set off in the morning…

It has been a wet summer so far in Oregon, and today was a foggy one up in the mountains. We got to the trailhead to be greeted by fog and dew, and lots of it.

Christine’s dog didn’t mind. She was excited, running ahead of us and waiting impatiently!

Despite the poor visibility, there were TONS of wildflowers!

Coastal Plain Honeycombhead (Balduina angustifolia)

The dew was thick as well as the fog. The pup was drenched in no time, much to her joy!

Cat’s Ear (Calochortus elegans), I think
Shortspur Seablush (Plectritis congest)
Menzies’ Larkspur (Delphinium menziesii)

Even where the terrain was steep and rocky, wildflowers are growing in abundance!

Oregon Checker-mallow (Sidalcea oregona)

I couldn’t identify some of the flowers, but that’s okay. They’re still beautiful, and I’ll figure it out another time.

Oregon Checker-mallow
Coast Paintbrush (Castilleja affinis)

Christine’s dog almost seemed impatient at times, lying down to wait for us. That is one energetic dog! She runs without slowing down, for the entire hike. She’s amazing!

Christine and her dog wanted to show me something really neat… I’m almost there.

Western Columbine (Aquilegia formosa)

I had to stop for a picture of this sweet columbine though. My sister and I used to bite off the little round nubs and suck out the nectar when we were young. Columbines are pretty common in the coastal range.

Look at this tree! It’s going to grow, and it doesn’t care if there’s a mountain in the way. Okay Christine, you’re right: this is pretty cool.

Pacific Poison Oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum)
More poison oak!

I was very careful not to touch the poison oak. This stuff is a bane to so many people I know. It is sneaky and can be so awful. I’ve known people who got it on their clothes or in their sleeping bags, and then you can imagine how it spread all over their skin. UGH!

There was a tower up here, some sort of satellite. There’s also bunnies, according to Christine, but we didn’t see any on this day.

Iris chrysophylla

Here

We weren’t sure what the red stuff was on these leaves, but we hope to find out.

While the view was not what we were hoping for, we got to see so dang many wildflowers, that it was still a great hike! I do hope to go again sometime to see the incredible view.

Distance: 2.9 miles; Elevation gain: not quite sure. (My Apple watch said 847 feet, but I’m not sure that’s correct.)

Bunches of Lunches

Here I am again, making lunches. I have a few days off (I took the weekend off for the Joyride, and then I have my normal days off), but I still need to eat lunch. I’m doing intermittent fasting, so my lunch is my first meal. I want it to be a tasty one!

I figured I’d make some lunches and see if they were easy and suitable for work. I typically don’t like time consuming lunches (making them, that is), so I’m looking for quick, easy, and yummy. I wouldn’t mind healthy as well… The first one on the list was a hummus wrap.

I have a couple of almond flour tortillas instead of flour. I put a generous amount of hummus on them along with some fresh feta. I got the feta from my nearest Market of Choice, and it comes in a container with liquid (water? I have no idea) which keeps the feta fresh and moist. It’s so much better than some of the very dry feta cheeses I’ve had! Next came some kalamata olives and thinly sliced red onion. Lastly, I topped it off with some local microgreens. If you’re interested in microgreens, you can click right here. That’s a website for a local farm here in Oregon.

I’m telling you; this was really more like a hummus taco than a hummus wrap. But it was very good and quite satisfying. I have no problems making this one again for a work lunch. I’ll just have to keep a lot of the ingredients separated so things don’t get soggy. But I’m okay with that!

For my next wrap, I decided to use some smoked salmon my sweetheart got me a little while ago. I picked up some fresh dill and some chive & onion cream cheese (I have a crush on Tillamook, seriously). I still had some microgreens left, so I figured I would add those as well.

I put them in a layer and added some capers for a nice salty punch. This was good, but definitely smelled fishy… which people at work are very sensitive about. I probably won’t make it for work. Also, it was a bit on the dry side, so I think I need to add a juicy vegetable.

Next was more of a dinner thing than lunch, although it would reheat easily enough. I would not mind reheating this for lunch! This is cheesesteak on a portobello mushroom. I think I should throw in the caveat that I have never had an authentic Philly cheesesteak sandwich (in PA, that is), so I take liberties with this recipe that would probably leave a purist gaping in horror. You’ve been warned.

I grabbed some white onion, green bell pepper, and lean flank steak for the main filling.

I cleaned the gills and stem out of the mushroom and put some olive oil on it. I poured the oil without getting the brush out first, so I ended up smoothing it out evenly (ish) with my finger. Then I added some garlic salt stuff. Mmmm.

After baking for 10 minutes or so, the mushrooms were ready.

Did I mention how much I love Tillamook? Well, I do.

When the veggies were cooked, I threw in the flank steak at a high heat and cooked it quickly. The meat stayed nice and tender! Then I piled it all on and threw a slice of provolone on it. Back in the oven it went, to be broiled.

This was pretty darn good. Yes, you need a fork and knife to eat it. I could have put the other portobello on top to make a sandwich, but I think we all know how messy that would have been.

For my last lunch, this was an at-home lunch. I was feeling good and wanted to give myself a little treat. I’m making a bit of a fancy egg sandwich. I got my truffle mayonnaise out, sliced up a green onion, and decided to try out some radish sprouts.

If you’re like me, you’ve struggled with boiling eggs so that they come out with perfectly yellow yolks and the shell peels right off. Well, suffer no more! You can read how the Pioneer Woman boils eggs HERE! I followed her directions, and my eggs, as you can see, came out wonderfully. Thanks, Ree!

Smash up your eggs and put the mayo in to taste/texture. I like to keep the onions out to add as garnish.

Lastly, I toasted up some bread (using Tillamook butter, no joke). Since I didn’t want to eat a TON of bread, I have some of the small slices. Fewer calories, less flour. I consider it a splurge. Today, I bought my first “paleo bread,” so I’ll have to update here if I try it and it turns out tasty. But for this sandwich, I used regular whole grain bread.

Now, come on. Is that the cutest, most delicious egg salad sandwich you’ve ever seen, or what?? I can tell you with full honesty, between the buttered toast and the truffle mayonnaise, this was a decadent sandwich!

Here’s what I learned:

  1. I don’t make wraps; I just make different forms of tacos.
  2. Radish sprouts are very slippery and make my sandwich slippery (but still delicious).
  3. Tillamook is the best for cheeses, sour cream, etc. Okay, I didn’t learn that one – I already knew it.
  4. Sweet pea microgreens taste just like raw sweet peas! The microgreens are expensive, but I really enjoyed them.

Aaaand, that’s a wrap! (Or not.)

Cycle Oregon Joyride 25Jun2022

Summer has officially come to Oregon!

The Joyride, an all-women ride, is a ride I have done a couple of other times, and it’s one of my favorites. Cycle Oregon really knows how to put an event together! Between the venue, the route, the food, and the entertainment after, it’s such a wonderful thing to experience.

Christina and I posed at the beginning, getting a little bit of a late start. We hit the road at around 9am, while it opens at 8am. The latest you can start, I believe, is 10am. We chose to do the 40-mile route.

Photo by Christine B.

Toward the beginning, we got to see some growing hops. The Pacific Northwest really does love good coffee and good beer!

This is a great area for growing all kinds of things. From grass to grapes to hops, you never know what you’ll find. It sure is pretty, even when you don’t see green things.

Our first rest stop had foods such as dill pickles, little cups of pickle juice (I loved both!), small open-faced egg salad sandwiches, bread with peanut butter and jelly, pieces of bagel with cream cheese, fresh, local strawberries, banana halves, and more. It was a mini feast!

The shade was also VERY welcomed.

Since this is an all-women’s ride, you can see various men and women helping – serving food, making more, etc. The local robotics club was also a part of this! All of the helpers were incredibly gracious and wonderful.

We took a few breaks for water or lip balm, and it was really heating up!

Photo by Christina H.

The second rest stop was just as good as the first. This one had granola bars, Babybel cheese, candied ginger, more pickles, and some lemon cookies. There was more that I can’t remember, and each stop had plenty to drink.

The second rest stop was at this great farm.

I don’t know what kind of flowers those were, but there were soooo many!

This cemetery was named something-Crest (brain no worky well at this point in the ride). I hoped the word “crest” indicated more downhill from there… but there were a few more hills.

Mt Hood in the distance.

I’m pretty sure the elevation gain was promoted at a little over 900 feet, which is why I was thinking I could do it. Well. It was more. I was pretty beat at the end, and I felt like I was limping in. It was HOT. The food and festivities at the end were wonderful. I had so much fun talking to my friends, Christine and Christina! That was the frosting on the cake. That and sitting in the shade, sipping a very cold, locally made beer.

Distance and elevation gain listed in the picture above.

The Gorge Ride 18Jun2022

I’ve done the Gorge Ride at least twice before, but it’s been a few years. It’s a ride that supports the historical Highway 30, the first highway in the Pacific Northwest, if I recall correctly. Here’s a quick bit of info about it: HERE. It’s supported by Friends of the Historic Columbia Highway.

For the other times I’ve done the ride, I stayed at a local motel that has a restaurant in it. I can eat dinner, sleep, and get an early breakfast. However, the last time I was there I ended up with six spider bites on my legs. C.R.E.E.P.Y. So, I decided why not try Airbnb? I snagged a very cute studio in a Victorian-style home. Airbnb prices are crazy high with “covid cleaning,” but hotels are pretty pricey too. Why not go cute and unique?

I got to store my bike at the bottom of the stairs, which is nicer than in the Jeep. I was the only one using that entrance, so it was relatively safe.

Tiny! The shower is straight ahead of the toilet – very small! But the whole thing was efficient and well-done.

The kitchen was also very small. Just beyond the sink there is a stand with a microwave oven, coffee maker, and supplies. Under that is a toaster oven and a dorm-style refrigerator with freezer. Lastly is an impressively sized pantry. If I lived there, I definitely would have stored a lot more in there than food!

After a great night’s sleep, I headed out to the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center. This neat salmon-in-the-river metal sculpture was over a freeway – pretty neat!

Columbia Gorge Discovery Center

The beginning of the ride started out with an insane headwind. The Gorge is known for windiness. Check out the Columbia Gorge Wind & Water Association.

This was supposed to be a better picture. You might notice it’s slightly askew. Well friends, that’s because a big gust of wind almost knocked me over! I had to keep both hands on the handlebars as much as possible. This comes into play later…

I put a big red arrow pointing at the Rowena Crest viewpoint. Waaaaaaay up there. I’m biking up there. *sigh*

It really is a beautiful ride, but there’s a lot of uphill. Going on Highway 242 helped me prepare for this, I thought. But I had to stop a few times on the way up. I’m not ashamed to stop and rest!

Almost there! Hairpin turns and all, this is a killer hill. This sight gave me hope though.

At the top!! You can see the road far, far below. What a view!

Here you can see some of the hairpin turns and a little car. Those dots on the road are more bikers, pushing hard.

The top is a large circle where cars (or bikes) can pull over and passengers get out to enjoy the view. You can see a pair of bikers almost dead ahead, on the other side of the circle. To the left are some Honey Buckets for when that coffee makes it to the bladder.

Just after Rowena Crest is a beautiful viewpoint on a narrow bridge. There’s a house down there! That must be an amazing place to live.

I couldn’t take pictures for a while because I was concentrating on staying on my bike and alive. But I finally made it to the halfway point! They had berries, pineapple, bananas, sandwiches, keto snacks, energy balls, water, and water with electrolytes. Such a treat!

This guy. I’m not going to lie, he annoyed me. He was driving an e-bike and he had a Raiders sticker on the back (I lived in San Diego for a while, and the Raiders fans were not a terribly friendly people when in town, generally speaking). He passed me a couple of times. It could also be that I was struggling, and he passed me without a struggle at all, and that’s why I was annoyed? My legs were BURNING!!

I stayed there for quite a while, trying to let my legs rest. I’m not great at eating during a big ride, but I forced myself to eat some energy balls and drink more electrolyte water.

On my way back, I enjoyed the cherry trees and the sunny weather. It was so nice! I knew it was raining at home.

This side is a very long hill, going back up to Rowena Crest. It’s not as steep, but it’s hard after doing the first half and then having more hill to climb. I pulled over, drank water, rested, and then would start up again.

Remember when I talked about the wind and the gusts? Well, I made it to Rowena Crest again, and there were a lot of cars, bikes, and people. I had to move my bike to get out of a car’s way, so I ended up with my wheels in some soft pea gravel. I was adjusting my technology (my Apple watch) when a strong gust of wind hit me from the left and I lost my balance. My left foot was on the ground, but my right was still clipped in. In the soft gravel, my tires quickly sank and shifted, giving me no time to unclip and put my foot down. I went down into the pea gravel. So embarrassing.

I got up as quickly as I could, ignoring the burning on my leg and knee. An older gentleman came up behind me, looking at me but not saying anything. I said, “Pretty gusty up here!” He agreed and said, “I’m a little worried about going down!” I agreed and said I would probably go slower than normal.

Friends.

I did not go slow.

I got on my bike and got the hell out of there, leaving my shame behind me! I reached speeds of just over 36 mph, my tires absolutely singing. Not only was I leaving that embarrassing moment behind, but I was so grateful for some downhill! I was happy for every bit I didn’t have to pedal.

I changed the exposure on this so you can see the craggy nature of some of the scenery nearby. I was only a few miles from the finish at this point and struggling to make it. My legs were absolute toast.

Normally, I cool off by taking a couple of slow laps around the parking lot. Not this time. I went straight to Matilde and loaded Sasha (my bike) in. I took off my helmet and sweat-gator and walked to the building. I got my free ice cream and went back to the Jeep. I am READY TO GO HOME.

The wind had fun with my sweaty hair. I didn’t care at all! I’m going home!

A quick scenery shot on the way home… You can see where the fires of either 2019 or 2020 ate some of the trees, black skeletons left behind. Things are green around it, and healing. It just takes a while, like most healing does.

I’ve enjoyed this ride more the other times I rode it. This time, I fear I wasn’t quite ready for it. I’m getting there, but the elevation got me this time. I’m doing another ride in a week, and I almost cancelled. But… it doesn’t have the same elevation gain, so I’ll probably go for it. I’m glad I finished, but it was painful.

Distance: 38.6 miles; Elevation Gain: 2,620 feet

To Clearwater Boat Ramp 15Jun2022

Working on my distance instead of hills, I decided to bike out to Springfield. It has been raining… STILL. It wasn’t raining on this day (yet), so it was a good day to ride.

Crossing one of the bridges near the University of Oregon, I noticed how full the rivers are.

This water is usually low around this time, and we can see balanced river rocks that people enjoy stacking. Not right now though!

Closer to the Clearwater boat ramp, it was pretty wet.

This was closed. Technically.

It was practically warm in the sunshine, so I took a little break and ate a fruit bar.

I was hoping to get a better video, but it turns out that it’s also important to steer.

I headed back through the Doris Ranch area.

Even Alton Baker Park has flooded areas. No biking there!

On the way home, I took a route that takes me by the freeway. It’s pretty loud! It’s not a long stretch though, so it’s ok.

This was a very nice ride. I tried to take some of the time pressure out of it by taking a snack break. I have a riding event coming up soon, and it’s longer. I hope I can do the distance! It also has a big hill… Wish me luck!

Distance: 26.4 miles; Elevation: 393 feet