A Tithe Box

Ryan’s work for Emmanuel.
Made of walnut and finished with beeswax, mineral spirits, linseed oil.


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Afternoon at the River

One hot sticky Sunday we packed a picnic and went to spend the afternoon on the banks of a river.  It was the perfect slow afternoon savoring the hot sunshine and the cool water.

Because he can’t resist fishing when he’s near water, Ryan used a plastic bottle to catch minnows in the stream. Catch and release. I hunted for periwinkles and cheered on his fishing.


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DSC_0897And because it’s what he does, he found a treasure in the ditch beside the road when we pulled over to check river access. A hardened steel 24inch ruler with all the tiny tiny increment measurements he wants.

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Celebrating My Mom’s 60 years


















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Cherry Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream (Dairy free)

It’s been too long since we talked about ice cream. After all, it’s one of summer’s primary food groups if you count popsicles, smoothies, and milkshakes in there too.

I think the biggest thing I miss being dairy-free is ice cream. It might even beat out butter cravings. Fortunately we live near an inspiring ice cream shop that turns out some of the best dairy-free ice cream that is on a rotating flavor schedule so I never get tired of a flavor.

DSC_0794But really, you can’t go out for ice cream every night. So I started playing around at home. We made some delicious sorbets. But this new try is the kind of thing you start thinking about in the middle of the afternoon and can’t always wait until after dinner.  Perfect for midnight snacking straight out of the container. But also fancy enough to serve in pretty glass dishes with pretty silver spoons that you’re selling for a friend but had to sneak into a photo.

DSC_0795This isn’t a very original recipe, since cherries and chocolate have been put in ice cream since the beginning of ice cream.  There are fresh bing cherries at the farmer’s markets right now, so it’s time to get your hands dirty (literally) and make some cherry ice cream.

Most cherry chocolate chunk ice cream recipes call for pureeing some or most of the cherries into the ice cream. I prefer it with the cherries just chopped and mixed in. It makes each bite explode with the distinct flavors of cream, cherry, and chocolate. But if you want it to be more pink, puree a couple cherries into the milk before churning.

Cherry Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream

Two 13.5 oz cans of full fat coconut milk
2 Tablespoons corn starch
1/2 to 1 cup of pitted chopped bing cherries
A healthy sized pinch of salt
A dash of vanilla
3 T of sugar or honey
a generous 1/2 cup of chopped chocolate or chocolate chips

Mix the corn starch into a bit of the room temp/cold coconut milk to blend. Heat the rest of the coconut milk to a simmer in a saucepan, then stir in the corn starch mixture until completely smooth. Add everything else but the chocolate and chill completely.
Freeze according to your ice cream makers instructions.   (Add the chocolate during the last couple minutes of churning).


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A New Super for the Beehive

Each level or box of the beehive is called a super. Large super, medium super, small super. Our hive needed an expansion as Queen Hilda makes alot of babies. A little glue, some clamps, a too-big nail gun, and some varnish later, we had two new floors for the hive.












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Independence Day in the Mountains

In our effort to squeeze in as many camping trips as possible during the sunny months, we went camping over Fourth of July. Really, the holiday was very accommodating to fall on a Friday to give us a three day weekend. We escaped to the mountains away from the crowds and the noise. Up to where showers are optional and housework is minimal.

We drove up to the Icicle Creek area outside of Leavenworth, WA. And since one of the friends we went with had spent a summer backpacking the area, he knew all the secrets. Such as where to camp to avoid the masses of generators and crowds and stereos of the normal campgrounds, yet still on a creek for water. We’re really starting to get very attached to the blessing of a 4runner that allows us to use out-of-the-way-not-a-campground sites. Ryan has almost won me over to an additional 2 inches of lift. Almost. But then I try to get into it in a pencil skirt and all bets are off.


We hiked to Stuart Lake one day. It was longer, buggier, and colder than we expected; and as beautiful and worth every minute as we’d hoped.




Ryan took a nap break.


Andrew fishing a Nalgene out of the lake.





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A Brief Camping Trip and a Recipe

This last weekend was the first of the summer we got out for our favorite activity. We got up on Saturday morning, packed up the car, and took off for the mountains through Monday to come back sunburned and grimy and happy and refreshed.  We’ve been tossing and turning some game plans for our next couple years, and took the down time to hammer out decisions.

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We drove down around Mt Rainier National Park, which is always beautiful. Then we cruised down the other side of the Cascades out of the mountain air until it was warm, and found a place to camp.  The next day we spent bouncing from fishing hole to fishing hole around Naches and Yakima, before 4-wheeling our way into a ‘campsite’ on a lake for the next night.


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I tried some new camping foods out this time.  I’m a huge fan of simple camping food. Give me a brat, some potato chips and a couple marshmallows or some bacon and eggs charred over the fire and I’m good to go. We try to see if we can go a whole trip without ever lighting up the campstove (we did get lazy and use it to boil water one morning this time…). But it’s nice to mix things up some.  So I messed around with foil-wrapped-stuff-in-the-coals. To go with brats or the fish Ryan caught, I had pre-made potato packets.  Sliced potatoes, a little chopped onion and tomato and thyme, and plenty of salt and pepper. Wrap it all in two layers of foil, and throw them in the fire. For the fish we sliced up a lemon and grated some garlic salt and threw it in the fire with the potatoes.  Yum.

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But here’s the real reason we’re here chatting.  We made fire-baked orange blueberry muffins. Fire baked. Orange. Blueberry. Muffins. In the woods, sleeping on the ground, eating a few bugs with every meal, and we made muffins.

(My camera battery died, so bear with me and the iphone photos here.)

Know that if I was willing to do this while camping, it’s a pretty simple process and anyone could do it.
First, you make plain old blueberry muffin batter, the simpler the better. I had the dry ingredients together in a bag, and a jar of the wet ingredients (including the blueberries), and mixed the two together that morning.  The jar of wet ingredients had been in the cooler, and so the coconut oil was pretty solid, so I set the jar next to the fire until it thawed out and I could mix it all together. Or you could also just get a box of just-add-water blueberry muffin mix, which would make this even simpler.

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Then you take orange peels that you’ve sliced in half and scraped all the flesh out, and fill one half with batter. (I had cut and emptied the orange peels at home and had them all in a bag in my cooler ready to go.
It looks kinda unappetizing here but just transport yourself to the stage of being soo hungry and out in the forest, etc.

photo 2 (4) Match the other half of the orange over it, and firmly wrap the whole thing in foil. Drop it into the hot coals. The orange peels insulate the muffin (I use the term muffin loosely) from the heat and give off wonderful citrus aroma.  Wait about 10-15 minutes, during which time you can make your coffee and roast some sausage.

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Finally, fish them out of the coals and set them out to cool a little before opening them and eating them out of the peel with a fork. They are moist and delicious and now I want to do the same thing only with chocolate cake batter.  This could be a dangerous hobby.

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