Memorial Day.

Wow!  The weekend has zoomed by!

Today we headed over to Noreen’s to celebrate Memorial Day.   On the way we stopped by the cemetery to put a flag and flowers on Dad’s grave.  Cheers, Dad!

We spent the day together:  Noreen, Jared & Kelsey; Fran, Art, Rebecca, & Aaron (& Jojo); Colleen & Jake; Monte, Mom & me.  Brian was down with the flu, so he and Gail will have to join us another time.  It was another amazingly beautiful day in the Pacific Northwest when it was really supposed to be raining.

Jared and Kelsey cooked up the burgers & dogs, and we put out all the fixings;  we also had halibut that Art caught just a day ago off the Washington coast.  Delicious.   Afterwards most of us headed down the road for a hike to the beach.   Wow, that sure was steep!   We found one of the 2 geocaches we searched for along the way.

This is a panarama, looking west to the Olympics, of the beautiful beach along Hood Canal at the bottom of our 1 mile, downhill, switchback-y hike. Becca and Aaron are skipping stones and Jojo is splashing around.

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Then we turned around and slogged up the way we came down and were all extremely happy when we made it back to the upper trail head.  Whew-ie!!

March 30 – Viejo San Juan.

Sunday, March 30.

We headed out to visit Old San Juan this morning.  Caught a bus right outside our hotel.  The old town is a beautiful place to see.  Here are some of the sights….

A guard turret in the old wall — called a garita.

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A view looking out at the sea from one of the garitas. 20140330-125342.jpg

The colorful building facades:

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A view of the stunning Castillo de San Felipe del Morro, built in the early 16th century.

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We went back to the hotel in the afternoon to meet up with Susanne and Laura.   Then we all went back to Old San Juan.    We ate dinner at a restaurant Irene recommended – El Jibarito, and I recommend it, too!  Great home cooked Puerto Rican dishes.  They also make a yummy sangria.

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March 29 – Road trip!

We’re on our way to the Caribbean for a sailing vacay!  Our flight itinerary takes us there via Puerto Rico.   We’ve decided to stay 2 nights in San Juan, since we never visited there before.  We won’t have (and don’t want!) internet connectivity while we’re away, so I’m drafting these blog entries as I go along, and am posting them in order, after I get back.

Saturday, March 29.

We are leaving on a beautiful day in Austin.  Here’s a great shot from the plane showing Lady Bird Lake, Zilker Park, the booming downtown skyline, the 40 acres, Longhorn stadium, UT tower, Erwin Center, the Capitol, Disch-Falk field, … What else can you spot?

20140329-115220.jpgAfter arriving in San Juan and checking into the hotel, we took a walk around the neighborhood.  We stopped into a pub nearby and I found one of my favorite brewskis from my misspent awesome youth!

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Our crew, Susanne and Laura, arrive in San Juan tomorrow!

Oh, hail.

A thunderstorm blew by us to the north this afternoon. The wind whipped up and dropped a bunch of leaves from the live oaks in the yard. All we got was small hail. While I’d love an endless downpour, I’m glad we didn’t get skylight-breaking hail (again ).

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Thirsty Thursday.

Cheers!

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And, some daiquiri humor:

One doctor always stopped at a local bar after work for a hazelnut daiquiri – a special drink the bartender created just for him. One day, the bartender ran out of hazelnut flavor so he substituted hickory nuts instead.
The doctor took one sip of the drink and exclaimed, ‘This isn’t a hazelnut daiquiri!’
‘No, I’m sorry’, replied the bartender, ‘it’s a hickory daiquiri, doc.’

Bonnets of blue.

The wildflower patch out back didn’t yield much last year.   This year we have a few patches of bluebonnets.   They’ve started to show their beautiful colors.IMG_3027

Oh, and Happy St. Patrick’s day!

Birthday!

We enjoyed a nice night on the boat last night, and spent a leisurely morning at anchor.   We were back home in time for me to bake a cake for the birthday boy.    And, taking liberties with being the big kids that we are, that’s what we had for dinner!  #notgonnagrowup

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Getting ready for Mercury.

According to Sky and Telescope, Mercury is at its highest tonight, and reportedly the best view of it, all year. So, after sunset, I toodled over to my favorite nearby west-facing vantage point and caught this shot of it to the top left of the crescent moon.

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For those of you that are inclined to look towards the stars for influence on our day-to-day lives, be warned that Mercury will enter retrograde from Feb 6 to Feb 28. Get ready for some weird happenings and funky vibes. More background here. And you may want to bookmark this link for future reference.

And, let me wish everyone a happy Chinese new year. 2014 is supposed to be the year of the horse. But let me just add….. GO HAWKS!!!!!

Sunday funday.

Sandwiched between the snowpocolypse of last week and another cold front due in tomorrow night was a beautiful day with temps in the 70s and winds blowing in the 20s. We headed to the lake and Lori and Dave joined us. We sailed up and down the lake for about 4 hours and enjoyed being out in it.
Good crew!

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Applebuttery goodness.

I have had a hankering for apple butter lately.   My HEB has a poor selection.   The only one they stock was full of multi-syllable chemical ingredients, and high fructose corn syrup.  I couldn’t bring myself to put it in my cart.    When I was a kid, apple butter was one of the many delicious things my mom would make and I would help her with the cooking and canning.   So, i decided to make my own apple butter.

There were many different recipes online.   I wasn’t looking to go the whole canning route, as I just wanted to make a small batch.    Some recipes started with apple sauce.   But I wanted to go as close to the good old fashioned way as possible.   I found a recipe that sounded minimalistic and simple.   I halved the original recipe, and it yielded 2 pint jars (i recycled some Bonne Maman 13 oz jam jars) of applebutter, which have a fridge life of about 2 weeks.  Or could be frozen up to a month.

I’ll start with a picture of the result, to get your mouth watering, and follow with the recipe:

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You’ll need a crock-pot and an immersion blender.   Here’s the before:

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You may want to use a variety of apples.   I used mostly gala, which are on the sweet side, and mixed in a few red delicious which are less sweet.   I also have one of these awesome contraptions, which makes peeling/coring/slicing the apples a breeze:

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Crock-pot Applebutter    (yields 2 pints)

3 1/4 lbs apples, peeled, cored & sliced
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 T ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 T vanilla extract

Place apple slices in crock pot.   In medium bowl, mix sugars, and spices.  Sprinkle dry mix over the apples and stir gently to coat apples and combine.

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Cook on low, covered, for 12 hours.

Stir in vanilla extract and puree with immersion blender until smooth.  For thicker applebutter, can cook on low another hour with lid ajar.

Cool and place in jars.  Store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for up to 2 months.