Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Five Fun, Inexpensive (or FREE) Things to do on the Central Oregon Coast!

Fish Food!..Alsea River Fish Hatchery
Oregon Coast Hatchery and Research Center at Fall Creek-28 miles E on Hwy 34 Turn left (if you are heading E on 34) on Fall Cr. Rd. This is a beautiful place to visit anytime of year but especially pretty during the fall months.  You can purchase a handful of fish food for 25 cents and feed the fish.  I love watching the feeding frenzy when you throw a handful of food in!  There is also a small visitor center which is fun to wander through.

 Big Spruce Trail at Cape Perpetua
Alsea River Fish Hatchery----This hatchery is located 43 miles E on How 34.   Turn left (if you are heading E on 34) on Fish Hatchery Rd.  This is a fun place to visit.  The hatchery raises trout that will be used to stock local lakes.  You can purchase a handful of fish food for 25cents and feed the fish....again it is fun to watch all the flipping and tail slapping that occurs as the fish rush to eat the food at the surface!  There is a tank which holds sturgeon and an enclosure that houses different varieties of pheasant. 

Cape Perpetua--Fee area $5.00 per day. Cape Perpetua is a beautiful recreation area just a few short miles South of Yachats.  There are a lot of trail heads that begin at the Visitor Center.  You can take a 2 mile trek and go visit a 400 year old Spruce tree, a 1 mile hike down to the tide pools (paved and stroller accessible the whole way) and others.  Make sure to go during low tide for tide pool accessibility.  Otherwise at high tide you can observe water spouts and splashing waves!

Yaquina Head Lighthouse--Fee area $5.00 per day.  This is a beautiful place to visit.  There is a wonderful interpretive center.  There are games for the kids to play, coloring for them to do and it is fun to tour around looking at all of the lighthouse history.  The drive out to the light house offers an incredible view and the tide pools are wonderful (make sure to go during low tide for best accessibility).  There is an area that is accessible for wheel chairs so all can enjoy being close to the ocean and tide pools.  One caveat is that the non-handicap accessible walk down to the tidepools is a bit of a hike.  There are many stairs and then when you reach the bottom you will be walking among small round rocks that are difficult to walk on.  Be careful!   The lighthouse can be toured during summer months.  This is also a great place to whale watch!

Agate Beach Recreation Site--beach access and a trail head for the Ocean to Bay Trail.  The trail head is located on the East side of the parking lot.  This trail is a beautiful one filled with lots of greenery, wooden bridges and is protected from the wind.  Bike accessible....but inexperienced bicyclists may need assistance in loose gravel.

Monday, August 6, 2012

It's Not to Early to Plan for Christmas Gifts Series..a Couple of Ideas

Family Conversation Night---how about a twist on the movie basket idea (you know the basket where you put popcorn, candy, pop, and a movie in a basket for a family to enjoy) and instead of a movie replace with a conversation game.  Here is a link to Amazon.com with some examples  http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=family+conversation+games

Gift of the Month Club---You gift someone with a gift that comes monthly. These usually go for periods of 3, 6, 9, or 12 months.  There are candle of the month, dinner of the month, beer of the month, etc. clubs that you can purchase.  Here is a link with some gift of the month club ideas  www.flyingnoodle.com  orrrrrr you can do your own gift of the month club.  You could make a dozen cookies or muffins and deliver them each month to your giftee.  Who doesn't like to receive a gift every month??!!?  I have purchased gifts of the month from Flying Noodle and I have gifted homemade gifts of the month as well.  I have enjoyed doing both!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Big Grins, Bouncing on Beds and A Little Guy Reminding His Mama to Slooooow Down

Today I was changing RJ's diaper on the bed right before we had to leave to go to the post office.  There was a package there waiting to be picked up.  We had a half hour before the post office closed for the day and a ten minute drive to get there.  I was feeling a bit rushed so I hurried thru the diaper change while talking to my little guy.  After I finished his changing he stood up.  I was holding his hands and needed him to let go of my fingers so I could help him pull up his pants.  He held tight to my fingers and started to laugh.  Then he started to bounce on the bed.  He has figured out that if he holds onto my hands and bounces on the bed he can go really high.  I sighed to myself and was just about to tell him to stop bouncing because we needed to GO when I looked at his little face.  His eyes were sparkling and his grin was so wide that it seemed to be stretched from ear  to ear.  He was bouncing really high and kept laughing and saying "more".   He is a little guy who loves to jump!!  So what did I do....I let him bounce and I started to laugh too.   What did it matter if we got to the post office 5 minutes later than I planned.  What did it matter if I didn't pick up the package today at all and ended up picking it up tomorrow.  What did matter was that Rj was feeling the joy that only a child can feel...a kind of joy that says he has entered fully into the moment and that he is enjoying doing what he is doing right now with no other thoughts or worries pressing at him.  I needed to enter that moment with him.  I needed to feel the joy he was feeling and laugh with him.  He will never remember that moment on the bed when he was bouncing as high as his little legs could carry him and laughing with two year old abandon, but I will.  I will remember his happiness much longer than I would remember what was in the package I was in such a hurry to pick up.  So he jumped and I laughed until he stopped saying "More!".  And guess what we still ended up getting to the post office and picked up my package. But I would have been completely content for my little guy to keep bouncing and laughing and for us to pick up the package tomorrow!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

My Go To Breakfasts

I find that having breakfast be a no brainer is a great timesaver in the morning.  Here are my top 10 items that are ready to slide onto a plate or pour into a bowl right away. 

1.  Muffins---so many good recipes out there.  They can be baked the night before, they are portable and kids love them.  Check out www.allrecipes.com for some amazing recipes.

2.  Breakfast Burritos---make your scrambled eggs, bacon or sausage and fried potatos or hashbrowns the night before.  The next morning pour your ingredients (I usually do scrambled eggs, fried potatos, cheese and bacon) into a microwave safe bowl and reheat.  Then add a dollop of your egg mixture onto a warmed tortilla, fold one end up, then roll and they are ready to eat! 

3.  Fruit, Granola and Yogurt Parfaits---Preslice your choice of fruit the night before. We like strawberries and blueberries.   Keep yogurt and granola on hand.  Here is a link to my easy granola recipe.  http://happymommy-happymommy.blogspot.com/2012/07/granola-for-breakfast-easy-recipe.html  The next morning let your kids make yogurt parfaits out of the available ingredients.  Serve in fun bowls for extra smiles!

4.   Bullseyes--Make toast using your toasters light setting then cut out the middle with a fun shaped cookie cutter (I usually use a heart unless there is a holiday then I use a seasonal cookie cutter), butter your toast on both sides, then place in a pan that is heated.  Break an egg  and pour into the cutout center of your toast.  Cook until firm enough to flip over and then turn the toast/egg over and cook the other side until done. 

5.  Scrambles---The night before break eggs and place in a bowl along with your families fave ingredients. (We like cheese, bacon, fried potatos, diced tomatos and diced green onion).  The next morning pour into a heated pan, cook and stir and you have a yummy scramble for your family to eat!

6.  Hot Cereal----my kids love Malt o Meal and really love adding different toppings to it.  Their favorites are brown sugar and seasonal sprinkles.  Oat meal is fun to add different toppings to as well.

7.  Cold Cereal---they don't get this to often so it is a special treat when it is served and they LOVE it!  If we have to get into the car right away in the morning I add diced dried fruit to their cereal and serve in baggies or disposable cups.  Finger food!

8.  Whipped Cream--kids love to dip their pancakes, waffles, french toast sticks, etc. into a dollop of whipped cream.  Make it a really fun breakfast and sprinkle some colored sugar or sprinkles (you can use seasonal sprinkles or if they are into sports you can use sprinkles that are their favorite teams colors) onto the whipping cream!

9.  Smoothies--cut up your favorite fruit the night before (strawberries here please!).  The next morning combine your cut up fruit, yogurt and a splash of milk (I like a bit of crushed ice too) into a blender and serve!  Kids love these for two reasons 1.  Kids just naturally love smoothies! and 2.  they like choosing what ingredients go into their smoothies.  I find that the more they help me make meals and the more input I allow them to give me the more interested my kids are in eating their meals!

10.  Buttered Cinnamon and Sugar Toast---what could be easier than toasting your bread, slathering it with butter and sprinkling it with cinnamon and sugar.  If you want to be creative you can cut the toast into strips or use cookie cutters to cut out fun shapes.  Yum!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

These muffins are easy to make and quite good.  I make these several times a year as they are a favorite of my kids and quick to bake!

Here is what you need:                                          Photo Credit Kimber Miner

3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil (or you can substitute apple sauce)
2 eggs
3/4 cups canned pumpkin (or you can substitute 1 mashed banana)
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease and flour muffin pan or use paper liners

Mix sugar, oil, eggs. Add pumpkin and water.  In a separate bowl mix together the baking flour, baking soda, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and salt.  Add wet mixture and stir to combine then fold in chocolate chips.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. To fill your muffin cups neatly without those pesky drips onto your muffin tin....use an ice cream scoop!   Bake in preheated oven 20-25 minutes.