Posts tagged Family

Resurrection of a Blog

Date of last entry; 6/18/2008. Whoa! I started with such good intent. I wonder what happened? I vaguely remember the last few years…I think. I quit the job I had when I started this blog, it’s now been two crazy jobs later. I’ve aged. I don’t feel it, but my hair has definitely grayed. My then teenager is now 21. The Husband and I are still married five years strong this year (that’s always a good thing!). Pretty sure I’ve gained some weight. Turned Vegetarian. I moved from the home my son and I lived in for 15 years into brand new home. it’s a rental, but oh so wonderful. I’ve started a new creative outlet or two, created a new genre of  silly Haiku and Poetry, read lots of books, seen lots a movies. For unknown reasons I’ve managed to alienate some friends and family. Made some new friends and have a new grandson. Most importantly, I have successfully avoided MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. I shall forge on with this diary of my life, such as it is. And even though I really have nothing to talk about, I have so much to say!

All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts.

– William Shakespeare

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The Arcata Bay Oyster Festival

Anytime my honey and I can get away for a weekend I jump at the chance. Especially when we can drive three hours or less to our destination from Grants Pass, Oregon. Last Friday we did just that. After work we headed to my Uncle Steve’s house in near McKinleyville, California. Our plan was to attend The Arcata Bay Oyster Festival. The festival is going on 18 years and highlights local chefs, restaurants and caterers. Their goal is to win the judges approval for best Oysters. The publics goal is to eat, drink and be merry. Or to win Oyster Shucker and/or Oyster Sucker of the year. I am not a fan of Oysters but I knew we’d have fun no matter what we did.

Arcata Plaza

We took off early evening and planned on eating dinner somewhere along the way. Whenever I’m near the ocean my desire to eat fish and chowder becomes overwhelming. My Uncle had told us about a restaurant in Crescent City, California that had great fish and chips. I can not think of one restaurant in Crescent City that has decent food, but I trusted him on this one. The place, Chart Room, located on Anchor Way at the marina near the one and only surf shop in the city. As we drove up I saw that people were standing inside the door. Not a good sign for us as we wanted to eat and run, but a good sign that the food must be partially decent at the least. I ran in and asked the waitress how long the wait was and it was too long for us, plus they were closing in 30 minutes. It did smell good in there but also looked frantic.

Plan B. There is another restaurant about one minute away named The Grotto. I had eaten there years ago and it was fair so we decided to give it a try. We arrived at 7:40 pm. The place only had two other tables occupied. The hostess was just writing the nights special on the board. I thought that a bit odd that she put it up so late. The menu was very pricy for what I had wanted. Small Fish and Chips for $11.95. Large order was $13.95. I ordered the small plate with a cup of clam chowder. Hubby ordered scallops, baked potato and a salad. The menu noted that all fish came breaded, battered or grilled. Sautéed was and extra $1.00. OK this is another oddity. Why charge more for sautéed? Unfortunately my honey did not notice this and the waiter did not ask him.

As we waited for our food, the restaurant filled to capacity. We were shocked. All we could think of was that when the Chart House closed, everyone came to the Grotto. The place turned into a zoo.

Dinner arrived. First bummer was the scallops. Hubby wanted sautéed scallops and got breaded. The scallops were soggy. Frozen scallops always hold a lot of water. He was not happy with that potato either. It tasted like it sat in the baker all day long. The mealy waxy texture is a turn off. My plate was equally unappetizing. The chowder had an odd flavor to it. Some sort of herb or seasoning that I could not put my finger. My small fish and chips order was actually very large. Four pieces of fish, a large pile of fries and a small scoop of overly boiled mixed veggies. What, no coleslaw??? . Also on the plate was about one tablespoon of tarter sauce and about two tablespoons of cocktail sauce. I normally do not see cocktail sauce for fish and chips. I took the veggies off my plate immediately. The water from the veggies was making the fish soggy. The fish was battered, though not a beer batter. It was fair but again soggy. The fries were as okay as can be. I had to ask for extra tarter sauce and waiter came out in a huge cup of the stuff, so much so that it was wasted. This will be the last time we eat at the Grotto.

Saturday morning we were up and at ‘em. We decided to hit the festival early at the suggestion of Uncle Steve. He said the crowds got large and rowdy around noon. We meet his lovely adorable girlfriend at the festival and headed off to the first tent. The festival is held at the Arcata Plaza. I have always loved this little college town. There are shops and restaurants built around a square quaint park. The festival is held around the park. The center of the park had a stage and music. There must have been over a hundred vendors. Mostly food and about four local microbrew and wine tents. The first Oyster we tried was barbequed with a light cucumber salsa. I must admit the salsa was great; the Oyster was just ok for me. Off to the next tent. Fried Oysters with hot sauce. I tried just one and decided that was enough Oyster tasting for me. Hubby, Uncle and his girlfriend loved them. I could tell they were in heaven. Next we tried the taco tent. The three had Oyster tacos. I had a steak taco. This was delish! Grilled steak topped with a spicy coleslaw mixture, salsa and lime in a corn tortilla. Next hubby got three barbequed Oysters with garlic, sherry and herbs topped with salmon tartar. As I watched the three devour those, I noticed a couple people with ears of barbequed corn. OH YEAH! That’s more my speed. This was our next stop…but wait, Uncle Steve found a booth that had Oyster Pierogi’s. These came with sautéed onions. While they ate those I ordered Cheese Pierogi’s. Also with sautéed onions and a side of sour cream. These were very nice. Whilst I was eating those, hubby found a stand that sold kabobs. Are we EVER getting to that corn? He got a chicken kabob that we all tried and agreed was very good and thought to come back for more. Off to find that corn. Yea! We ordered three ears. Boy was that corn good. White corn barbequed in the husks and slathered with butter, salt and pepper. I was in heaven.

As we meandered around the plaza more Oysters were consumed and the square was filling up fast. I lost track of all the Oysters they tried. Somewhere along the way they all tried an Oyster Shooter with roe. Double yuck. I heard moans of joy from the three. We found one of the stands we were looking for that sold Fish Tacos. Oh my, these were good. Nicely battered pieces of white fish, cabbage, salsa, a spicy sour cream sauce, cilantro and lime. Delectable! At this point we decided to find a spot in the park and watch the Oyster calling contest. This was divided into ages from three up. There were some pretty adorable kids and some very drunk and funny adults. The kids pretty much yelled out remarks such as “HELLO OYSTERS!” The adults had poems and songs and even a rap or two. One song was titled “Oysters over troubled Waters” and one was “We don’t Shuck our Oysters in Arcata”. All in all, pretty hilarious. Full of Oysters and wall to wall people we decided to head for home. Sadly no pictures were taken by any of us. Hard to hold a camera, a drink and a plate of Oysters at a crowded festival.

http://www.oysterfestival.net/about.php

Winners of this years best of Oysters;

Best Oyster according to the judges:
-1st Tomo’s Oyster Sushi
-2nd Tomo’s Oyster Shooter
-3rd Folie Douce Japanese grilled oysters
The people’s choice:
Curly’s Grill

Shuck and Chuck 2008 champions:
Shucker: Aidan Semingson
Sucker: Conor Eckholm

Back at the house the three were barely awake. I was in the mood for more fun and I was actually a bit hungry as I hadn’t consumed as much as they had. After a rest we decided a walk on the beach would perk them up. We drove up the coast to Triniad. The beach was beautiful but extremely windy and chilly, so much so we didn’t walk very far. Trinidad is a beautiful little fishing town. Most of it sits on a bluff above a gorgeous inlet were the water is blue green. There are fishing boats moored in the inlet that are only accessible by smaller boats or dingies. The pier has cranes attached that lower and raise boats from the water for repair. This is a must stop place for any traveler.

http://www.humboldt1.com/~popenoe/scenes/Trinidad.htm

Wind blown and hungry, we headed off to dinner. We decided more barbeque was in order. We headed off to Porter Street Barbeque. Porter’s is nothing fancy, but has some of the best bbq I have had in the Pacific Northwest. There is a large bbq pit outside that they load with meat every morning. The menu is small and no nonsense. BBQ chicken, pork or beef. Homemade sides and the BEST clam chowder I have ever eaten. Made with red potatoes, tender clams and seasoned perfectly.
Three of us had the BBQ chicken sandwich. This came shredded in big chunks, smothered with bbq sauce on toasted garlic bread. They have a fixins’ bar for your sandwiches. Hot peppers, horseradish, salsas, peperoncinis and more. Also a big bucket of warmed barbeque sauce in case you needed more on your meat which of course I did. That was one fine sauce, slightly spicy, thick and dark red. Hubby had beef ribs. They looked good but messy. His came with a side of slaw and chili. That chili was great! Lots of beef to beans and spiced just right.

Porter Street Barbeque
665 Samoa Blvd
Arcata, CA 95521

http://www.northcoast101.com/menus/menu_viewer.php?id=1395

We decided to continue our gluttonous journey and head for Bon Boniere. An ice cream and bakery establishment located back at the Arcata Square. Homemade ice cream is pretty hard to pass up. I had a scoop of chocolate orange chip and a scoop of mint cookie. Very creamy and refreshing. I think that did it. I was done and ready to fall into a coma of happiness.

Bon Boniere
791 8th Street
Arcata, CA 95521
http://www.bonboniere.biz/

Sunday, Uncle Steve suggested that he and his sweetheart follow us back to Crescent City, about an hours drive north to have lunch at the Chart Room. What a great idea. I would have my fish and chip fix after all. The Chart Room is nothing fancy but boy is it good. The clam chowder was excellent. We had the Samll order of a Seafood combo with fish, scallops and prawns beer battered with lots of tarter and cocktail sauce, crispy fries, coleslaw and garlic toast for $9.95. The fish was hot and crispy good and a great ending to a wonderful happy weekend!

Chart Room Marina & Restaurant
130 Anchor Way
Crescent City, CA 95531

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All American Macaroni Salad

Picnic Season is here! I love a good picnic with family and friends. I don’t picnic as often as I like, but this summer have a couple planned already.

This weekend marks the Josephine County Relay for Life event in Grants Pass, Oregon. My husbands team raised over $10,000.00. The team brought a huge potluck, picnic dinner together to eat at the track. Hamburgers, chicken, hot dogs and salads. Hubby made my All American Macaroni Salad.

1 pound elbow macaroni
1 1/2 c grated or diced cheddar cheese
3 hard boiled eggs chopped small
1/2 small red onion , diced small
2 large stalks celery , diced small
3 TB Sweet Relish
3 TB yellow mustard
1/4 c minced parsley
2 TB Dill
2 tsp celery seed
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2 TB lemon juice
2 c mayo
2 TB milk – to thin
Salt and pepper

Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and macaroni and cook until nearly tender, about 5 minutes. Drain in colander and rinse with cold water until cool. Chill macaroni in refrigerator until cold.

Mix onion, celery, relish, mustard, parsley, dill, celery seed cayenne, lemon juice and let sit until flavors are absorbed, about 5 minutes. Add mayo and milk. Fold mayo mixture over chilled macaroni, eggs and cheese.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serves 8-10

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The High Cost of Groceries – 5 Ways to cut costs

$5.00 a gallon back East. $4.89 a gallon locally. No this is not the price of a gallon of gas. This is what it will cost for you to buy one gallon of milk at your grocery store. With the rise of gas prices brings the rise of groceries. Most families in America are already on a tight budget. From clipping coupons to changing your shopping habits, tonight I am sharing five sure ways to help you reduce your grocery bill.

• Buy store brands. Brands like Western Family or Sam’s Choice have improved in quality over the years in order to compete with name brands. Some of us shoppers want name brands as they are tried and true. However switching to store brands can save anywhere from 20 to 50%.

• Evaluate unit prices. Checking an item’s cost per unit, which is found on the shelf sticker, can help you make your decisions on what brand to buy at the cheapest cost per unit. You will still need to compare cost per unit even when an item goes on sale to see which is the better deal. This method is timely but does help save you money.

• Consider changing markets. Here is a comparison on three different items from three stores. I also chose three items of the same brand name and compared prices at each store.

Wal mart
-One gallon of 1% Milk $3.35, Umpqua Dairy
-One dozen eggs $2.24, Eggland’s Best
-Two pounds cheese $7.98, Tillamook Cheese

Fred Meyer
-One gallon of 1% Milk $3.69, Umpqua Dairy
-One dozen eggs $3.99, Eggland’s Best
-Two pounds cheese $5.99, Tillamook Cheese ~ Fred Meyers claims this is an every day low price.

Safeway
-One gallon of 1% Milk $4.89, Umpqua Dairy
-One dozen eggs $3.49, Eggland’s Best
-Two pounds cheese $10.99, Tillamook Cheese

• Clip coupons. Shoppers should look through newspapers or online for coupons, especially double coupons where accepted. When reading ads, do not assume that all items in a supermarket’s flyer are on sale. Manufacturers pay to have items featured. “Featured” is not the same as “On Sale”.

• Ask for a store discount card. These discount cards allow shoppers to get discounts on items without having to clip coupons. This can be a pain as you may end up with 4-5 discount cards in your wallet. Not to mention that I can never find mine. However two pounds of cheese at Safeway that is regularly $10.99 was on the discount card this week for $7.99. Though this is still higher then prices Wal Mart and Fred Meyers.

• Shop different sections of the store.  Cheese and sliced meat is often cheaper in the dairy aisle than the deli because shoppers have to pay extra for it to be sliced.

While gas, rent and groceries cost more and more each day, yet wages stay the same, the lack of disposable income makes it hard to live a comfortable life. We can ride a bike or walk to work. We can move to a smaller more affordable home, but we have to have groceries to survive. Cutting costs is crucial to most budgets. Compare, clip and consider down sizing from your favorite brand names. Or as one of my good friends told me just recently… “I know how to the cut cost of my grocery bill. I eat out more!”

*This will be a speech I am giving on 6/4/08 for Toastmasters in Grants Pass.

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Karen’s Oven Caramel Corn

I am posting on of my all time favorite recipes. My Aunt Karen’s Oven Caramel Popcorn. It is the best caramel corn I have ever ever had. For a fund raiser for my husbands Relay for Life team, I made two batches. I packaged them in clear cellophane bags with descriptions and sold 4 ounces for $2.00 per bag. They sold well!

Karen’s Oven Caramel Corn

1 1/2 c dark brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks real butter
1/2 c dark corn syrup
6 qts popped popcorn – all un-popped kernels removed
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp *Butter Flavoring

Boil brown sugar, butter and corn syrup for five minutes. Remove from heat and stir in salt soda and butter flavoring. Stir fast and well. Pour over popped corn and stir well. Spread on cookie sheets and bake one hour at 200 degrees stirring every 15 minutes.

Store in closed container.

*Please note – the butter flavoring is actually a very important ingredient. Hard to find but worth the search. It will be located with vanilla, orange, lemon and other flavorings in the baking isle. I have tried this recipe with out and I could taste the difference.

I have also added salted peanuts at times, and drizzled melted dark chocolate over the caramel corn once it has cooled.

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Aunt Karen with me and my brother. He was always the center of attention!

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My Aunt Karen

My first memory of Karen was in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. She was dating my Uncle Steve and they would come to visit my mom and grandparents at the Lake. Karen was the first woman to ever teach me how to put on makeup. I loved sitting at her side watching her put on face while I touched her brushes and compacts. She seemed so glamorous to me. One of my most vivid memories was when my Uncle Steve showed me the wedding ring he was going to give her. I was only about 4 or 5, but I remember it well.

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Aunt Karen on her wedding day
Her sister Peggy on her right
My mom on her left

Karen was born in 1946 in Santa Cruz, California. She met and married my Uncle Steve and joined our crazy family. She fit right in. My Aunt and Uncle had one child. Kerri Rae. I thought she was just neato. I got to say at my Aunt’s house one summer to help take care of this little girl. Karen taught me a lot about the care of babies. I loved that summer. Spending time with my favorite Aunt and Uncle and my new cousin, what more could I ask for.

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Aunt Karen with Kerri

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Aunt Karen, next to my grandpa
with myself and my brother.
Camping on the Carson River

Through the years we tried to visit often. My family ended up in Grants Pass, Oregon and hers in Orleans, McKinleyville and finally Fieldbrook. Aunt Karen and I shared a special passion. We both believed in Santa Claus. Every Christmas she went with my brother and I to search for Rudolph in the sky. We always spotted him. I remember often pointing him out to her or her to I. I would look at her face and see tears of joy in her eyes. No matter what age we were, we always believed.

In my cousin’s junior year of high school, around 1995-96, Aunt Karen was diagnosed with breast cancer. She prevailed. Around four years later, just one year shy of complete remission, she had a second bout. The second time was worse then the first. Her and her doctors tried everything. They decided on one last treatment, a three week immunization program. Week one was hard. Week two was the best week she had felt since this second bout of cancer started. She loved to use the term “we nipped it in the bud!” Then week three there was a downhill spiral and her body couldn’t take it anymore. She passed away May 16, 2006.

I think of Aunt Karen often and wonder if her life was full. Her daughter is doing well. I know she struggles and misses her mom. Kerri has a great job at a college up north of us in Washington. Karen would be proud very proud of her. My Uncle too, is well. He travels often, especially to visit Kerri. My heart breaks for them but they are strong.

Every year I decorate a luminary back in her honor for our cities Relay for Life event. I think she would have liked this. I miss her and I am better for having known her.

In Aunt Karen’s honor I will be sharing her recipes on my blog. She was also wonderful cook.

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Not everyone’s a teacher OR A wife should never teach a husband how to fish!

My family are all fisherman and have had a long tradition of teaching each generation to fish. The older generations used bait and tackle the easy way to fish. The young ones fly fish, the more difficult way to fish. My uncle was the first fly fisherman of the family. He taught my aunt to fly fish and my aunt taught my brother and me to fly fish. In keeping with tradition, I thought it was time for me to teach someone in my family. I figured it couldn’t be that hard. I caught on fast myself. For my first pupil, I chose Dimples, my indoor only, Star Wars loving, extremely logical, computer geek of a husband. This should have been my first clue that not everyone can be a teacher no matter what the subject.

Once I convinced Dimples that fly fishing would be a blast and I assured him there would be plenty of sun screen for his pale skin. I set out to plan our trip. I decided the Umpqua River would fruitful. The Umpqua can be tricky and the wading can be dangerous but Dimples has always told me he’s as nimble as a Billy Goat. I packed snacks, gear and I bought fishing licenses. Being that is was steel head season I also purchased salmon and steel head tags at an additional cost. This should have been clue number two.

We arrived at the river. It was beautiful! We came to an area that I thought would be a good start. The river pooled nicely, with a riffle above and below. There was a steep trail down to the bank of the river but this was something I was very comfortable with however, I was a little worried about Dimples. So worried in fact that I decided to go first, carry ALL the gear down and have Dimps follow my trail. I guided him all the way down warning him of loose rocks and stumps. Before I knew it, I was down. Down with one knee bent behind me, one leg in front and sliding fast towards the bank. Thankfully I was stopped by a stump. Dimples came flying down the hill towards me to see if I was okay. I was a bit hurt, but more humiliated. I decided that it would be best for Dimples to start out with a bait and tackle. At this point I was in no shape to discuss the intricacies of fly fishing. I let my humiliation sink in and waded in the cold water up to my aching swollen knee. Not a good start to our trip.

After an unsuccessful hour, I decide we should move elsewhere. About two miles down the road we spotted a great site to check out. Very private with a small deep pool ending in a riffle leading to a huge rapid. This was it. I could hear the fish calling. This is where our teaching would begin.

Being that Dimples is a very logical person, I used the most logical and visual descriptions and presentations I could come up with to teach him to fly fish.

However, I am not a logical person. By the time I was done demonstrating Dimples looked more confused then ever. By now I should have thrown in the towel and headed home but I ignored my instincts and decided he just needed to give it a shot and I would try guiding him from there. I handed him my favorite fly rod. He slowly got the gist of it and at some point stopped listening to me. He waded into the water up to his ankles. I stressed with urgency the danger of the Umpqua’s extremely slippery rocks. Did I mention he stopped listening to me???? Farther and farther he went. He was about 150 yards above that very powerful rapid. Not a place you should even attempt fishing but again, he was not listening to me. He was up to his knees. Then his hips. At this point I had to yell at him to get him to hear me over the roar of the rapids. The water was lapping his stomach; his fly line was wrapped around the reel. I was getting very nervous, shouting instructions to him and begging him to come back to the shore. Before I knew it, he slipped. Up to this chin. His eyes were huge orbs. I screamed at him that he better not let go of my rod. He was getting closer to the rapid. Now I was crying. He was scrambling to get a foot hold. I knew he was a goner and so was my rod. Suddenly his Billy Goat senses kicked in and he found ground. Dimples slowly dragged himself out of the water with me screaming at him the whole time. He was safe… my rod was safe. All was well, almost. Dimples was drenched. He peeled off his shorts and shirt. His wallet survived but was soaking; his cell phone was completely water logged and forever unusable and his expensive fishing license and tags LOST to the rapids.

This was our FIRST and last fishing trip. Some people were born to teach and others are not. If I can ever convince Dimples to fish again, I’ll leave it to my aunt to teach him.

Not only did I fail to teach him the art of fly fishing, I failed to teach him what poison oak looked like. That hill I slipped all the way down……….yep, it was loaded with poison oak. I fell…. I hurt my self….almost lose my husband AND my favorite fly rod… I came home with the worst case of poison oak I have ever had!

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