Kids love chia seeds!

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chia seeds

chia seeds

Chia seeds are one of those strange things you know is good for you, but can’t figure out how to use!  I put about 1/4 cup in my water bottle to add extra energy when I’m on a walk, but getting the kids to drink a slimy, goopy substance just wasn’t happening!

Voila!  Here we have it!  I mixed 1 cup of Chia seeds in 3 cups of juice.  Let it sit overnight and the kids were fighting over it after school.



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Southern Oregon Vacation Itinerary

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camelThis past summer we finally got to spend some time travelling around Southern Oregon. We had never been to Crater Lake so that was a must. After researching other possible destinations, I booked everything and we took off. Note that the Crater Lake boat tours and campgrounds fill up quickly, so be sure to book those way ahead of time!

Day 1: Leave Portland and drive to Winston
Wanted to take the kids to the Wildlife Safari in Winston. The animals are much more active in the morning, so decided to leave here the afternoon before, have a nice slow start to the trip. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Roseburg. They have a package which includes Wildlife Safari tickets and breakfast. Perfect! Swam in the pool and had a lovely leisurely evening.

Day 2: Winston Wildlife Safari, Watson Falls, Crater Lake
crane
Breakfast in the hotel then a quick jaunt over to the wildlife safari. The drive through took about 1 1/2 hours. It was great seeing the animals up close. The kids loved this African Crane who wouldn’t leave our car alone. We would try and drive to the next area but he would stick his head up to the car. I think he was liking the shade, but the kids thought he was just weird! We then headed towards Crater Lake. Stopped about halfway there for lunch and a quick hike up to Watson Falls. That night we camped at Mazama Campground by Crater Lake.

Day 3: Crater Lake Boat Tour
phantom ship
We booked the boat tour that included a stop at Wizard Island — awesome because it’s a cinder cone volcano inside the crater of another cinder cone! To get to the boat dock, you have to hike down from the edge of the rim to the water’s edge. BOOK EARLY FOR AVAILABILITY! Not a problem in the morning when you’re fresh, but a little challenging in the afternoon heat. We toured around the lake, then they dropped of us off on Wizard Island and we headed up to the peak. Had lunch up there and explored around the top and then back down to wait for the boat. Be prepared for the elevation — about 2,000 feet down to the boat, about 2,000 feet up to the top of Wizard Island, then the same in reverse! Some people went swimming at the boat dock — chilly!
wizard island Forest fires were really bad this summer so there was a bit of smoke at the lake. Didn’t get the picture perfect shot, but we had a great time!

Day 4 Crater Lake and Oregon Vortex
Finished up seeing the last bits of Crater Lake, kids did a ranger program and then we headed off towards Medford. Stopped at Lost Creek Lake for a picnic lunch — less than impressive. Seems like it’s more for motor boats and water skiing. Also stopped for a quick walk along the Rogue Riverrogue What a beautiful river! Now I want to go read Zane Grey’s books again! No trip to this area would be complete without a stop at the funky, odd . The kids were befuddled and we were entertained. Totally hoaky, but still a great stop (plus it’s shady!) Although, I did feel very dizzy and out of sorts while there, so maybe there’s something to it? Makes you wonder…. Stayed at Valley of the Rogue campground in a yurt. Again, lots of forest fires, so there was smoke in the air. A nice ranger engaged the kids in a shelter building project and fun was had!yurt

Day 5: River Rafting on the Rogue and on to Oregon Caves

Wouldn’t miss a chance to go rafting on the Rogue. Some friends recommended Ferron at Ferron’s Fun Trips. Met him at the river and hopped in for a ride. We had the full day trip which was perfect. Lazy drifting in the beautiful waters punctuated by intense moments of white water. chateauThe kids had a great time and went back and forth with the individual kayak. Ferron is an odd duck, but very knowledgeable and we were safe and well cared for. Lunch was a delight and we all had fun! Headed to Oregon Caves. The drive there is long and winding and intense. Glad we decided to spend the night since there’s no way I would want to drive both ways in one day. Campgrounds were closed by the caves, so we had reservations in the Chateau. It was an amazing historic building. Loved the architecture, live music in the lobby, games for the kids, a great ambiance. The rooms are small and old-feeling, but not junky, more vintage and historic. The only negative was the restaurant. It was over priced and not up to the standard that we had heard about — wait staff was overworked and overwhelmed, food was mediocre quality at high prices. But you are in the middle of nowhere so you have to consider that.

Day 6: Oregon Caves to Redwoods
oregon caves

The cave tour was fun. Learned lots about limestone caves and the discovery of the caves. It is very cold inside to be sure to bring coats. Our guide was great with lots of stories and information. The walk wasn’t too strenuous but some other members of the group had a hard time with the stairs and a few tight spots. Once we were done with the caves, headed back down the winding long road to Cave Junction. Stopped at Taylor’s Sausage Country for lunch and on to California! Camped at the . Had never stayed in a KOA before, but this one was highly reviewed online. It was great! Loved having a nice quiet place to setup camp in the middle of these huge trees. Kids played around with the camera trying to take shots of bark chips in motion!wood chip art

Took in the sights of Crescent City (not much!).

Day 7: Redwoods

P1010542Stopped by downtown Crescent City to stock up on food. Definitely not a spot to have as a destination, but it was nice to get groceries. Drove up to the Boy Scout Tree trail and hiked in to see it. Loved the huge trees with just a bed of ferns underneath. The trail was nice and flat. It wasn’t obvious where “the” tree was, but after conferring with the guide book, we found it off the trail up a steep hill.

redwoods hike

Day 8: Redwoods to Florence

The redwoods are truly majestic and amazing. After leaving the woods, we headed up the coast stopping when we felt inspired. I had printed out a map of Oregon lighthouses and so we tried to stop at most of them. Love the architecture and history. The Oregon Coast is amazing! Almost got a ticket in Gold Beach though. Be careful. Lots of little tiny towns looking to increase their revenue with tourist dollars! Cape Blanco is definitely worth a stop. Loved the tour of the old lighthouse. P1010548

For more resources be sure to take along guide books, there are lots of other places to stop along the way. The coast has lots of hidden coves to stop. For our last night we stayed at the Best Western in Florence. Lovely hotel right on the river. Went across the river to the old town and had a great time wandering around in civilization.

Day 9 Sand Dunes and Portland
We went on a dune rail tour of the sand dunes. What a blast! Loved the skill and expertise of our guide. We got our thrills without the spills. P1010578Be sure to take a bandana to cover your face to keep sand out of your mouth and nose. Headed out to I-5 and north to Portland. Oregon is beautiful! Lots of fun places to take children and have an awesome family vacation! Great vacation! Lots of memories and fun times!

One family tradition we started this summer, is that every time we have to do a u-turn, to cheer! No day is complete without at least one wrong turn! It’s a sign of adventure and risk :)

by by bugs! natural insect repellant

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Had a great summer camping all over the northwest. couldn’t avoid the bugs however. thought we were prepared with repellent, but alas some bugs still buzzed through our defenses and zapped the tender skin of my children. Started making my own insect repellent a couple years ago before going on a cruise to the Caribbean. Ended up with a great formulation that worked in the jungles of central america and was in a solid base of shea butter and beeswax so I could take it on the plane without tsa confiscating it. However, I forgot what I put in it!! ARGHHH! It was some mixture of citronella oil, and other random oils from my giant collection. Starting over.

The list of effective oils includes cinnamon, vanilla extract, citronella oil, catnip, lemongrass and peppermint oil. You can combine them to your liking in a spray bottle with a carrier (some sort of oil… castor or olive and alcohol) or mix in a solid of shea butter and beeswax with almond oil. Will try to recreate the perfect blend and WRITE IT DOWN this time.

How much homework???

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At my kids’ school, there’s been a discussion brewing about how much homework elementary kids should have. My thought has been that the benefits of homework are that:

1. it builds certain skills (multiplication tables for example)
2. it builds study skills
3. it creates good habits

I started at our local library to see what books were out there on this subject. Found 3 recent books. Two of them
and
did not even discuss whether or not homework was appropriate, but rather counseling parents on how to deal with the voluminous homework that is assigned. I scanned through these books and was completely unimpressed — time management skills and patience were all that was discussed.

Then started on
and finally, this is what I was looking for. Discussion of research, the benefits of homework, actual case studies and data supporting little to no homework for pre-high schoolers. Interesting discussion of the policies of homework and the actual data showing that the “dumbing down of America” is not a fact. Highly recommend this book!

Quinoa Caprese Salad Recipe

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quinoa 1Came up with a new recipe recently and have taken it to some events and received rave reviews! My kids love it and it’s super easy to make! Here ya go:

Quinoa Caprese Salad

2 cups quinoa (cooked in 4 cups water then cooled)
1 cup pesto
1 cup fresh mozzarella balls
1/4 cup basil leaves cut chiffonade (thin strips)
1 cup grape tomatoes cut in half
juice from 1 lemon
salt, pepper to taste

Cook quinoa and cool. Mix in the pesto (add more or less if necessary) and lemon juice til well mixed. Can be kept in fridge at this stage overnight. Right before serving stir in mozzarella, basil and tomatoes. Season to taste. Enjoy!

quinoa2

Women Food and God — book review

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A friend recommended this book on Facebook and I thought it looked interesting. Fortunately, our local library had it. The book is written from the perspective of a therapist who has run workshops for women wanting to lose weight. I was talking to a young man (son of a friend) recently and we were talking about the issue of eating. He was astounded that people would eat for any other reason besides being hungry! His astonished question “you mean you eat when you’re not hungry???” is the crux of the whole book. The auther uses stories and experiences to help women dig down and understand the deep-rooted reasons why they eat. For some, perhaps you eat because your afraid, or lonely or nervous. Okay, so why is that…. Once you get to the bottom of it, deal with the issue and then reframe your eating and truly eat just when you’re hungry.

Dandelion Hunter – Foraging the Urban Wilderness — book review

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Just finished reading “Dandelion Hunter, Foraging the Urban Wilderness” by Rebecca Lerner. It was just published, I had come across it in several blogs and websites I follow, so was excited to see it at our local library. The author is from Portland, so I was doubly excited to be reading something local. The book was very easy to read – took me 3 evenings.
Anecdotal stories were fun an interesting so it was a pleasure to read. However, the content left a little to be desired. Perhaps my expectations were unrealistic…. It’s basically a story of a woman setting out to find edibles in her local urban environment. I was disappointed there were no diagrams of plants or even something to add to the story. Portland is a very left-wing area and so it’s not surprising that she shares these views, however I was dismayed to find them in her book. There was a section discussing why we are not able to forage as effectively as the native population did and it was pointed out that this is because we live in dense cities with cement, sidewalks, parking lots, roads, etc… places that plants can’t grow wild. The authors comment was that this is another indicator of how corporations are evil. It was also a little off-putting that the first few recipes in the back are all for rolling-your-own smokes. I don’t think it’s wrong, certainly believe that you have the right to do what you want to your body, but with her assumption in some of the stories and then with these recipes that everyone will want to smoke, I’m not letting my kids read it.

Overall, a disappointing book because it could have been so much more….

Triops and other strange creatures

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Most every kid loves animals, but if you don’t want the responsibility of a dog, the dander of a cat or the scent of a sea lion, then Triops or Sea Monkeys might be the right choice for you. We have raised both types of creatures and they are very different. Sea Monkeys are a type of brine shrimp. The eggs are stable in the packet for a very long time, so if you follow the directions on the packet (purify water first etc…) then you should have good success.

Triops are a little touchier to hatch, but still fairly easy. If you are worried about the environment, you probably want to be sure to purchase from the right company — Toyops (triops.com) raises theirs in a lab and so you can be sure they are responsibly harvested. Other companies (such as those licensed by Smithsonian) are reputed to be harvested from the wild and so I won’t buy them.

What to do in Portland with kids when it’s raining

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Not that it ever rains in Portland, but on the off-chance that someday it *might* I have a list of activities my kids love:

1. visit OMSI
2. watch a movie at
3. play board games at home (Settlers of Catan is our current favorite)
4. bake/cook (I was going to write “with kids” but that could be mistaken as cooking your children, which we wouldn’t do :))
5. play interactive games on the Wii or Playstation or whatever you have

Looking for a knife sharpener?

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If you’re looking for a new knife sharpener, checkout toolpeddler.com