Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Beautiful Fall Drive

My husband's last day home before he leaves to work for a few weeks is always bittersweet.  We enjoy our time together so much, but the last day together is always hard because we know he has to leave the next day, and even if we've been doing it for years - doesn't make it any eas

With the beautiful fall weather we have been having, and with the leaves that have been turning here, the fall colors have been showing up everywhere.  Last Saturday was a lovely balmy 69-70 degrees with the sun high in the crisp blue sky, and so my husband and I took the day off together for a fall drive.  Our kids were both busy with other things and couldn't come, so it ended up being a special day together for the two of us.

As we left on our drive, we had no real destination in mind.  This is one of our favorite things to do! Just get in the car and go... with no strings attached, and it always makes for the best times together.

What a beautiful day it was!

There was a gentle cool breeze to the day, and the trees softly waved to us as we drove by.

One of our favorite destinations of all time usually ends up in the Priest Lake area.  This area is immensely huge, with countless numbers of roads, trails, and hikes that we have yet to experience.

We decided to go up the east side of the lake, and by the time we got to Coolin, we were hungry.  We stopped for a wonderful lunch at the "Moose Knuckles" where we both enjoyed a cheeseburger and fries.

We drove around Coolin for a bit and then headed to one of the state parks in the area as we wanted to get out of the car and explore.

The Priest River ran south as it flowed through this park.  It was very shallow now, after the hot summer, but you could see where the edge of the riverbank rose during the spring run-off.

We walked for a long way along the rocky shoreline, just enjoying the beauty of the area, and the fact that other then a few birds we saw, we were out there completely to ourselves.

We spotted a trail leading straight up to a little rocky rise.  We both looked at each other, and decided, hey why not, let's give it a shot.  It was almost straight up, and we were grabbing rocks, bushes, and whatever we could get our hands on to scramble up the trail.  It was a great workout, let me tell you!

Once we got to the top, we saw this trail leading off into the great beyond.  We walked it for a while, and then decided we wanted to go back down to the river, as the trail seemed to just meander through the woods.

So we headed back towards the river to explore the riverbanks some more.

Looking north towards Priest Lake from the bridge that crossed over the river.

Looking down the Priest River, as it flows south.

Before long it started getting dark, which does put a real damper on your outdoor activities!  Now that fall is here, the days are getting much shorter, and it is dark now by 6:45 to 7 p.m.

So we headed back towards home... but the best part of the day was about to show up!

As we drove, I remarked to Dan that the sunset really seemed to be working itself up into something big, as the clouds began to form with streaks of red and orange brightening the sky. The view was amazing as we drove along.

As darkness began to fall, the most amazing set of colors began to just pour into the sky above us.

The dark silhouettes of the trees provided a dramatic backdrop to the amazing splash of color going on in the sky above.

I couldn't stop the camera... it seemed to have a mind of its own (lol!)  click - click - click!

The pictures were one after another just incredibly powerful with the dark silhouettes of the trees, and the brilliant colors of the sky contrasting each other.

As we arrived in town, the whole town seemed to be riveted upward - people were stopping, and just looking at the sky.  It really just appeared as if the whole sky was on fire.

When we got to the bridge where you can see directly west... my husband didn't even have to hear my request.  He just put the car in park, and put the emergency flashers on to let me out...

It was absolutely the most perfect timing ever to witness this sunset - just a few minutes more or less, and we would have missed these most brilliantly profound colors forever.

It was absolutely the most perfect ending to our day.

I kept snapping picture after picture, because the show was changing moment by moment - more orange, more red, some more purple... yellow - blue - black ....

... watching the sun tease us with shadows, light, hues, and tints of orange, purple, red, blue and yellow - truly amazing.

How can you NOT believe in a God that created such incredible beauty for us to enjoy when you watch a display such as this one?

 I just kept my camera clicking with one eye on the view, I didn't want to miss any of it.

Suddenly, the shadows deepened, and the sun disappeared - just like that!

As we continued our journey towards home, the remaining rays of the sun danced across the sky, daring the darkness to dim them.

The lights of town appeared brighter now, since the amazing show had come to its end.

The last few rays of the sun twinkled off in the distance, as the darkness marched forward claiming each one, one by one. What a sight it was to behold!

How thankful our hearts were to have this day together, with such a brilliant, one-of-a-kind sunset to bring the day to completion.  How blessed we felt as we drove home in the darkening shadows - thankful for our God who blessed us with such a beautiful ending to the day, and thankful for the time we had together, and for each other.  Thankful indeed - we are blessed!

Monday, September 29, 2014

More Sourdough Adventures!

Since my sourdough starter just begs to be used, every day or so, I've been trying new adventures with sourdough baking! I found an old cookbook at Goodwill that has continued my sourdough adventure quest.

It was a "GEM" of a find for me!  It was full of all kinds of great information about the history of sourdough, and lots of discussion about the chemistry of sourdough that really helped me understand more completely how to work better with sourdough.  One thing I liked about this cookbook was that it had in-depth instructions for each recipe, which was really, really helpful.

So I found a recipe for basic sourdough bread in this cookbook, and decided to give it a try.

I was really impressed with the bread as it rose wonderfully, and baked up beautifully!

The tops were soft and golden brown after I covered them liberally with butter after removing them from the oven.

After letting the loaves cool on the counter, it was time for a taste test!

Ooh... this bread smelled just heavenly, and tasted even better!  The faint taste of sourdough was there, but the bread was so soft, light and moist that it was hard to stop with just one slice!

I sliced up one loaf of the bread into thin slices, and froze the other loaf once it was cooled.

Since I was working in the kitchen already, I decided to try another recipe in the old Sourdough Cookbook. This one was for Sourdough Chocolate Cake.

Dear Lord Have Mercy!  This cake knocked the socks off any cake Betty Crocker has to offer! Seriously!  This recipe was simply amazing.  It was rather time consuming, I'll admit!  (Had to separate eggs, and beat egg whites into stiff peaks, and fold into mix)... but the extra work in making this cake was so worth it!

Over 1/3 of the cake gone before I could take a proper picture!

My family has already requested I make another one of these cakes.  It has jumped to the top of the list of their favorites.  And I agree.  I have never tasted such a moist, delicious rich chocolate cake!

I'll take another slice, thank you very much.... 

Did you just say diet? What? 

There is no diet with a cake like this sitting on your counter! LOL! 

Friday, September 26, 2014

A Breath of Fresh Air!

Last week my dear friend SL, my daughter, and I got together for an early morning hike. The air was fresh, cool, and crisp.  It was such a perfect day for hiking.  We had on light jackets but by the end of the hike we were shedding our layers!

Annie was thrilled that we brought her along for the hike, and every minute or so, she was stopping to sniff and smell something.

Can dogs smile?

I certainly think Annie has a beautiful smile!

Another beautiful happy smile from Cheetah!

We walked through many beautiful trails.

The sky was a brilliant blue, and just a hint of the moon remained high in the sky.

We encountered some trails that had trees blown over from the terrible wind storms our area suffered this past summer.  No problem... just more of a workout for us, jumping over the downed trees!

Then, my dear friend decided a trip through the brush was in order, and off we went.  We took a shortcut through some deep woods and brush to cut back to the trail we were meeting up with.

It was a pretty steep climb, over some fallen downed trees, and some rocks.  Such a beautiful day to be getting such a great workout!

See what I mean?  Oh yes, this is not your typical hiking trail, to be sure!

 Getting close to the top!

Finally we reached the plateau, and hiked through some low brush land until we met back up with the trail.  It wasn't long after this that we were headed back on the trail to our friend's house.  It was a marvelous day!  I didn't get any pictures of her crab apple tree, but it was loaded with apples, and so we picked a whole bag full to take home.  I washed and de-stemmed the apples, and cooked them until they were soft, and then pureed them for applesauce.  I have been using the applesauce in my smoothie every morning, and they are wonderful.  We hiked a little over 4 miles in just about 2 hours going up quite a few hills and over downed trees, so we certainly met our exercise requirement for the day!  We look forward to getting some more hikes in now that summer is over, and beautiful fall weather is here!