Friday, November 28, 2008

Tiger Tape

I've recently been introduced to Tiger Tape: a reusable measuring tape you can apply to fabric. I purchased the 1/4" wide tape and have been using it to provide me with a straight line so that I can hand sew some seams for a project I'm working on. Before I got the tape, I marked the fabric with a fabric pencil which didn't work very well and then resorted to using an ink pen. This worked fine but I always worried about the markings showing up on the front side. And it look time to measure from the edge to make a score and then draw the seam line.

If only I had this when I was putting together 6 foot pieces of fabric for the quilt - marking the seams would have been a snap!

Other uses I could see for this time would be for embroidery projects where you wanted to mark some lines at a specific distance apart.

Or how about for doing a blanket stitch or for hand quilting and much more!

Since you can reuse the tape you can cut specific distances that work for you. I was able to use 1 piece of tape about 8 times before the stray threads adhered to the tape and the stuckum was gone.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Ready for Thanksgiving

I received some Persimmons in the food box and then found this recipe for Cranberry Persimmon Sauce through Tastespotting. I grew up with cranberry sauce made from lowbush cranberries and can't image using anything else. You can't find these berries down here so i've been trying to come up with another option. This sounded like a good plan and I've made some sauce to take with us to Sitka for the Holiday. I didn't have any star anise so I substituted 1/4 t clove and I think it turned out quite good!

I never remember having this fruit growing up–and I give thanks for being introduced to it!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Knitted Vest

I've been working on a knitted vest for Tim which I had hoped to finish for his birthday at the end of October but didn't quite make it. The pattern is a mixture of moss stitch and a welt stitch with welt stitch under the arms between the fronts and the back.

Here's some detail

The pattern came from Knitting Classic Style: 35 Modern Designs Inspired by Fashion's Archives and I used 5 skeins of Knit Picks Swish Superwash in a Heather merlot – a little more red then the swatch card showed. I have about 1/3 of a skein leftover

I had problems finding the right length zipper in Juneau but finally found one online and ordered from . It came quickly - I was very impressed with their service. If I had read the pattern directions about the zipper a little more closely I would have realized that they expected you to use a much longer zipper and then fold back the top of the zipper into the collar. Now it makes a lot more sense. I read through this tutorial after I had one side of the zipper already put in. I can see that it might have been helpful to have basted the right front and the left front together so that the stripes lined up. I think I did ok though without doing that. I also didn't want the edge of the knitting to be too close to the zipper edge and have the potential of getting caught.

The finally product came out a wee bit shorter then I intended - I know I measured more than once but it ended up maybe an inch shorter. Tim says he thinks it just fine. Just don't ask to look at the inside - I had problems with the yarn splitting when I spliced them together - I've got some ugly knots.

Taking advantage of the Sunshine

When the sun is out and you don't want to drive a long way for a walk the best place to go is the Airport Dike. Its a relatively short trail and there almost always someone else here and on a sunny day it can be packed. But its a great way to soak up some of the eliusive rays.

Depending on the tide you can venture out into the flats and walk towards the channel so there are places to go where there aren't too many people. We don't mind the dike trail on a sunny day. You always see interesting dogs and often you run into someone you know or recognize.

There a covered bench at a little past mid-way and then an upper and lower trail that continues on to the end of the runway. Its a great place to look back towards town and see Mt Juneau.

And heading back towards the car you can see Mt McGinnis and the Mendenhall Glacier on the right. This is the Mendenhall River that flows into the channel.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Breadline Trail - not for whiners

We're still working on our list of trails from the 90 Short Walks Around Juneau book, and with the weather being snow, ice, and rain free we've been taking advantage of the opportunity to tick off more trails. For this adventure we choice the Breadline Trail. The breadline is actually the channel of water that is between Tee Harbor and Amalga Harbor and is got its name because of the incredible fishing. The book says that the trail was originally used by workers in the Tee Harbor cannery make a treck over to Amagla Harbor for the Saturday night festivities. It seems like a pretty long and rugged walk to me but then I've never worked in a cannery nor have I had to walk to school uphill - both ways. My route to school was relatively flat - both ways.

Based on this sign we weren't sure what shape the trail would be in so were pleasantly surprised when we came across this cute little bridge and boardwalk not far down the trail.

And then we turned the corner and ran into about 50 yards of muck and mud (they are different, you know, mud is just perified muck without the gunk in it!). We had decided NOT to wear our xtratufs for some reason and we were really wishing we had brought them because it wasn't too late to turn around and get them. We also decided that if the trail condition was like that for much longer we'd have to turn around.

But the trail did get better. It wound itself through the trees. This picture looks a little dark - oh yeah, I had my sunglasses on.

Access to the beach for fishing requires a steep cliff decent. And then an even steeper cliff ascent hopefully with a nice-sized king. Reminded me of cliff climbing at Chitina.

We found beach access down a cliff that wasn't too steep to walk back up. And enjoyed the sun and light that came out to greet us.

To the North

We saw a lot of trees that had huge fungus pieces on them - some of them were the size of a dinner plate.

On the beach

We followed the trail until we started to see houses (on Cohen Road) and we made several attempts to work our way up the cliff towards where we thought the road was but kept running into No Trespassing signs. We had see the Cohen Road trail maker on a previous drive so we knew there had to be a way out. We backtracked and finally found the right trail. And then we also started to notice all the surveys tape hanging from the trees. Geeze - what a couple of ol' blonds! We were just to engrossed in the beauty of the woods we didn't see the bold statements of "Follow Me to the Way Out."

We had to do a bit more climbing and as we moved away from the coast the trail became that more familiar muck and mud, although it wasn't as bad as what we saw on the way in.

Ah we made it to the other side!

And then we walked back on the highway about 1.5 miles back to our car. So this is one of those trails that we're glad we did it but there's no reason to do it again. We've found much more interesting trails (some just as mud and mucky) that we'd rather do over - guess they just had a better pay=off in the end.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Reverse falls - Gruening State Historical Park

We've been having really extreme tides recently + 19 and -2.5 ft in a 24-hour period. Because of this we thought we better follow up at the Ernest Gruening Cabin where we found the "Reverse Falls" so we could check out what it looks like at high tide.

We didn't actually see the ocean rushing into the salt chuck - we got there about an hour after the high tide had ebbed but here you can see that spawning salmon would have no problem making their way into marsh to make their way up Peterson Creek.

High Tide (11/15, about 2 pm)

Pretty Low tide (11/8, about 1 pm)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Beer and Chips

I stopped at Fred's the other day for a bottle of wine to go with dinner and saw this new (to me at least) Porter from Alaska Brew Company, its called a Baltic Porter Ale and comes in a 22 oz bottle. It has a hint of cherry and vanilla in a rich malted liquid. I liked it but not as much as I like the smoked porter or some other darker beers I've had.

But it was pretty tasty served with these Kale Chips. I'm never quite sure how to prepare kale. It seems like if you braise it or steam it it is stringy and tough. I can only eat so much of it raw and it usually comes in a large bundle. But everyone likes chips, right! They were fun to eat– the curly edges of the kale when crisped quickly dissolved in your mouth–much like eating pop rocks!

Kale Chips
1 T Olive Oil
1 T Apple Cider Vinegar
sea salt to taste
small bunch of Kale, torn into small pieces

Bake for 8-15 minutes at 350° or until crisp but not black!

I only did about 5 medium-sized leaves with the above recipe. I might have made them a bit too salty for our taste. My kale pieces were a little bigger then a fiddy-cents piece and they baked quickly in about 8 minutes.

We thought that this same recipe with different types of vinegar and other greens might also be good grub - like chard with rice vinegar and a little ginger, or beet greens with apple cider vinegar and a little cayenne or chili powder. We'll have to experiment.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Interesting Cookies

I made some cookies using a recipe from the May 2008 issue of Cooking Light called Lemon Cornmeal Cookies. I'm not getting the magazine anymore but the library here lets you checkout past issues of magazines to take home. I love the library, but I don't necessarily love to be limited to reading there so this is a fun way to review a bunch of magazines in the comfort of my own couch!

Anyway - these sugar-like cookies with the added taste of ginger and lemon and the crunchy texture of the cornmeal were really tasty. They were especially tasty with vanilla soy ice cream layered between two cookies. YUM!

I filled up the Blazer over the weekend and was pleasantly surprised to see a much lower gas price then we had this summer.

$3.09/gallon. I won't say its cheap but, to be honest with you, I really didn't expect the price to drop this low. I know that Alaska still has some of the highest gas rates which sure doesn't seem right, but I'm just glad to see the price hovering around $3!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

So we follow the fortune cookie, right?

Tim and I had lunch on Friday at Dragon Inn in Lemon Creek. We had been here for dinner when we first moved to Juneau and thought we should give it another try. They meal was decent for ordering "lunch specials." We got a bowl of soup with rice and entree: we split pork tenderloin with a sweet and sour sauce and General Tsao's Chicken - nothing special about the taste or the portion. The soup was very good - Tim had the hot and sour and I had a seafood soup. It came it a huge bowl. The soup plus the dim sum platter we ordered was really all I needed! The dim sum platter had fried egg roll, dumplings, jalapenos with a pork middle (yum), terriyaki beef (pretty chewey), and steamed shrimp sho mao (yum). There were only about 4 tables with people but it looked like the restaurant were doing a pretty good takeout business.

We had just looked at a house that we were thinking about making an offer on so were really scratching our heads when we read our fortunes in our cookies!

Opportunity knocks on your door tomorrow! Act Soon!

Be prepared to modify your plan.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Granite Creek-Perserverance Trail

Back in Oct Tim and I took off on a Friday afternoon hike up towards Granite Creek Trail off the Perseverance Trail. There were some clouds but it was a relatively dry day compared to the rest of October. Because of all the rainfall, water was coming out from everywhere! This was along the higher cliff as we walked along the Perseverance trail gaining elevation and overlooking Gold Creek.

There's been some trail work here this year and they have widened the trail, trying to stabilize some of the landslide areas. So a lot of boulders and debris have fallen down the steep slopes. Some of the large boulders have actually changed the look of the creek. There are now some nice large pools of water where they weren't before. This is looking down towards Gold Creek and Ebner Falls.

We took the Granite Creek turn and continued to climb up and over to the next little valley where Granite Creek runs. Then the clouds started to collect, the temperature dropped, and we started seeing snow patches from last winter that hadn't melted yet. And then it started to rain.

We reached the creek and had to bypass this ice bridge to continue on up the trail.

And then it started to snow. We were soaked and decided to head back to town before the sun went down.

Google Map - look for Granite Creek

Monday, November 17, 2008

Interesting Links

Here are some resources that I've come across lately that might be interesting to others:

21 Century Technology Tools: Tutorial for Teachers
Tutorial on how to get started using google docs (word, spreadsheet, presentation, gmail), voicethreads, ning, delicious and diigo. One thing that is missing is why you would want to use these tools. It obvious why you might want to use google docs but some of the other tools aren't explained very well. If anyone has questions we should talk about it.

This is a cool site feed tool you can add to your blog - I've added it to the sidebar and you can see who is looking at the blog - where they come from, how they got there and in come cases which link they followed to leave.

I'm hooked on this site and get fed an almost continuous dose of delicious-looking images of food and recipes. I check my RSS feed several times a day and drool my way through the list. There's always something that I have to bookmark for a future meal.

Google Trends
I got this from Curt when he showed it at a meeting where he entered distance learning, distance education, online learning, open courseware, and maybe something else. What this does is reviews all searches people made using google over the last 5 years and based on your search words plots out a trend of the words and counts the physical locations. If you use Curt's word then you'll see that the majority of the searches for these topics came from India. Now, if I were thinking about starting up an online business I would find this very interesting!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday Hike

We enjoyed a wonderful hike last Sunday. The day dawned bright, cloudless, and cool. Thanks North wind!

We decided to try out the Upper Montana Creek Trail (Map - look for Montana Creek). If you follow the trailhead you eventually end up at Windfall Lake and the upper Glacier Highway about 8 miles. We didn't get that far on our hike but think it might be doable if you take an overnight at the cabin at Windfall Lake.

The trail started out at the end of Montana Creek Road and started as about a 1 1/2 mile gravel road that followed the creek. Really easy bike riding road with a few small bridges. This is probably where people x-country ski in the winter. A little elevation but nice a wide with no roots or big rocks. Then we crosses a small bridge over a stream and got on the "real" trail: a pathway that was dry and relatively root free that wound through the woods, again right alongside the creek. As we followed the creek the trees started to tower around us, blocking the bright sun.

As we started to climb (very gently) we came across a couple of landslides where the slate covered the trail. Most of these spots we could get across easily. A couple of them were on pretty steep slopes and were much higher from the creek. We forged ahead though, not ready to turn around. I wasn't able to get any landslide pictures - my hands were busy holding on to whatever vegetation I could find. Besides it makes Tim nervous when I lallygag on cliffs.

There's a couple of really nice things about hiking in the fall:
  • most of the smaller vegetation is gone so you can really look around, especially the devils club which can grow to be taller than I am when its close to water.
  • the mud is frozen so its not so mucky
  • you don't sweat much (if at all)
  • there's not as many people around
  • small pieces of shale doesn't slide as much if its frozen to each other
  • your water stays cold
  • you don't have to worry about packing extra clothes in case if rains because you're already wearing everything

We aren't quite sure how far we walked - we're thinking that we went more than half-way to the Windfall Lake Cabin. We got a later start then we had expected and didn't want to be out on the trail in the dark so we reluctantly turned around and headed back.

Tim mentioned that he didn't realize how much we had actually climbed because the trip home really seemed all downhill!

As we were walking back on the gravel road we realized that the sun was still shining brightly and we caught this look at Mt McGinnis.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bird from the Deck

Its not unusual to see crows hanging on on the deck railing. They are often there by the dozens. They like to smooth down their beaks on the metal railing. We've also had kingfishers land and watch the water for a meal. We've see eagles land and hang out until they see a shadow from the front window and usually fly off before I can snap a pic.

This is a Great Blue Heron - quite large. I took this from the second story loft. I figured if I went downstairs it would see me and fly away. It must have been full because its facing away from the water.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Blue Silky Wool Hat

I've been wanting a new hat for almost a year now and I finally got time in my knitting schedule to make myself one. The pattern came from a Christmas gift last year, 101 Designer One-Skein Wonders. I picked up this yarn last winter at the local yarn shop, Skeins.

Its light and warm, but not bulky or itchy. I've worked with silk blends before and have found that sometimes the yarn splits. I didn't have that problem with this blend. I will definitely buy this yarn again.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Pumpkin Biscuits

Yes, I had a lot of left-over pumpkin so I'm trying out a few recipes to use it up. I got this one from my Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson, page 482.

Pumpking Biscuits
2 c flour (I used 1 c white and 3/4 c whole wheat)
1 T baking powder
1/4 t salt (I left this out)
1/2 t ground allsice (I used 1 t chili powder but could have used more)
3/4 c canned pumpkin (I took my roasted pumpkin slices and mashed them up with a fork)
1/2 c soy milk (I used 1% milk)
3 T corn oil
1 T maple syrup (I used 1 T molasses)

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. (I went for 400° because I had something else in the oven that I didnt want to bake that high - didn't seem to affect the cooking time) Lightly oil a baking sheet and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and allspice and set aside.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, combine pumpkin, milk, oil and syrup until smooth. Add the pumpkin mixture to the flour mixture and stir until dough is just mixed and holds together.
  4. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface (I used semolina) and roll out to about 1/2-in thick. Using a biscuit cutter or small drinking glass, cut the dough into 2-in rounds and place on the baking sheet. Reroll scraps and cut more (keep in mind that the more you handle the dough, the tougher it will be). They should rise a little but they won't spread out on the pan so they can be pretty close together.
  5. Bake on center oven rack until golden brown on top, 12-15 minutes.

Recipes says it makes 10 (I made 8)

I had half with peanut butter and the other half with honey - honey was better! Tim strongly suggests just peanut butter.

Lena Point Trail

We've driven by this trailhead marker for the Lena Point Loop Trail, a dozen times so it was nice to get the chance to actually get out on it. The first part of the trail was made up of boardwalk and wound its way through the woods. You came to a fork where you could go down to the beach or continue to climb up to the point. We chose to climb. There were several spots along the way where you could access the beach. It was getting late in the day and the clouds were moving through so we had some really nice skies to watch.

This is the site where the Princess Kathleen rammed into the coast in 1952. From what I've read everyone walked away and got into waiting cabs and local cars to be taken to town. Here's some pictures from the state archives. Last winter I attended a presentation given by a lady scuba diver. She said that about 15 years ago the ship was basically untouched and hadn't been pillaged yet. She had some photos that she took at it was quite amazing.

Google Map - look for Lena Point

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

North Tee Harbor Loop Trail

Tee Harbor (google map - look for North Tee Harbor Loop Trail) is a cool place that offers a long of coast and a protected area for your boat. We've looked at a couple of cabins here but the price is too much for what you get. I don't think we're alone in our thinking because they are still on the market after several months. The loop actually started on a dirt road that leads to a bed and breakfast called the Williwaws. Once we got to the water line there was a lovely view of South Tee Harbor and Favorite Channel. We stopped and watched the sea lions, mergansers, loon, harlequin ducks, scooters, buffelhead, goldeneyes, and gulls. There's a really nice bench right by a marine light where you can sit and look out into Favorite Channel. It was here that we were able to find the forest trail so we headed back to where we left the car through the woods. The trail was a lot more fun than the road and there was interesting woodsy stuff to look at.

It was nice of Fish and Game to alert us that there was a nest on this tree:

But I don't think anyone's home anymore. There wasn't and feathers or bones on the ground either.

The trail felt like we were going farther down the coast then where we parked so at one point when we thought we knew where the road was we cut across. We had overshot the turnaround where we parked out car by about 1/8 mile. I image the trail continued down the coast until it ran into private property.

Fun spot to come back to for a picnic, bird watching, or maybe salmon fishing.

Favorite Channel Beach Access
It look a bit of looking around but we found this beach access very close to a house that we looked at to buy. We actually really liked the house, thought the price was too high and were making plans to go back for a second look and think about making an offer when our REALTOR told us that they had just gotten an offer on it. Oh well, wasn't meant to be.

So now we know where this beach access is and we can still enjoy the view - just not from our own deck!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lovely Fall Weekend

We had a beautiful weekend down here. Its always pretty clear when the wind blows down from the North. I like to think that my family and friends from up north are sending their greetings to me, and sharing the clear skies that they often enjoy.

It also seems like the temperature seems to dip down (maybe by 10°) so its also a reminder of what I'm missing! Brrrr :)

We spend the weekend hiking. We're working our way through the 90 short trails of Juneau. We've been doing pretty good and have completed most of the longer ones. There are several listed in the book that are pretty short and/or tell you how to gain beach access. On Saturday we hit about 5 of these spots. Mostly for selfish reasons, but it gave up the opportunity to feel a sense of accomplishment when we got to tick off all five in one day! Whew, certainly deserved a beer after all that walking!

Amalga Harbor Salt Chuck and Earnest Gruening Historical State Park
(two tick marks for the driving of one!)

We've seen people out here fishing and thought it might be a good spot for dollys and trout but haven't made the first cast yet. The water originates in Peterson Creek. We'll have to come back next spring with our fly rods. The trail book says that when there is snow and the slough freezes over it makes for great skiing and you can actually sky over the another trail and end up at Boy Scout Beach.

At the mouth of the salt chuck, where the water flows into Eagle Harbor, you can see the below pictured rock outcropping at low tide. I was really surprised at how steep the waterfall was. We'll have to go back during a high tide to get a contrasting picture. Its called a reverse waterfall because at high tide the incoming water covers the rocks and the water flows the opposite direction. We know that salmon, dollys, and trout come through. At low tide this will make a good picnic spot! and if it had been about 50 degrees water there were several inviting pools that would be a good cooling off spot.

At this little point of land (I think its called Eagle Rock), Ernest Gruening's family built a large cabin and used it as a vacation home. The house isn't open to the public but it did look like someone was living there - at least part of the time. A short trail system takes you down to the falls. There's a great picture of Gruening and another guy going down the falls in a canoe. It looked like fun!

Auke Rec Area
It was a lovely evening and we had forgotten to eat our lunch so we stopped at Auke Rec to have a snack before heading home to make dinner. This is also where the video was taken.


Try these out: Joe's Molten Marshmallow-Chocolate Cakes

I used the mini marshmallow (about 10) instead of the big ones. I didn't want to buy a big bag and have them get all hard on me. I might be tempted to use the smaller ones in something else. I must have left my ramekins in Fairbanks but a regular-sized muffin pan worked out just fine. The recipe filled 6 cups perfectly.

Next time I'd like to try the recipe with raspberry-chocolate chips and serve with fresh raspberries. I also saw a suggestion about adding a small spoonful of Nutella along with the marshmallows. And it might be fun to make them in mini-muffin cups and use different flavors of chips.

They disappeared before I got a chance to take a picture!