Sunday, November 29, 2009

Magical Leavenworth

On a crisp autumn weekend in early October, Riff and I took a drive up Washington's Highway 2 to the magical other world of Leavenworth, Washington. Leavenworth is located in the ruggedly beautiful foothills of the Cascade Mountains and a visit is like stepping into a Bavarian village.
Leavenworth was a booming timber and railroad community from the 1890's to the 1920's, with a very prosperous lumber company and seven sets of railroad tracks connecting this beautiful valley with the rest of the world. Then, in 1925, The Great Northern Railway Company decided to move it's headquarters to Wenatchee and between this devastating blow to the community and the great depression, the town was on it's death bed. The rugged mountains are perfect for ski hills and in the late 1920's, a Winter Sports Club was established with ski jumps and toboggan runs being built. This brought in winter tourists and spectators to watch the international jumping competitions that began to take place, but it wasn't enough to keep the town prosperous.

During the 1950's, things were so bad that Leavenworth was known as a Welfare town. The townspeople loved their village and got together to come up with idea's to save their town. Looking up at the gorgeous rugged mountains, the alpine theme became an inspiration to them. It took quite a few years, but the whole town decided to go with the Bavarian theme, building festivals and events around the idea, along with changing the look and feel of their buildings. It worked and Leavenworth is now a bustling thriving community, full of tourists spending their money at all the local establishments. With something like 17 festivals a year, many of them running more than one weekend, there is always something going on in this mountain village.
From magical winter wonderlands, to Octoberfest, Autumn Leaf Festivals, Ale Fests, Maifest, Bird Fest, Bike and Brew Fest, Wine Walk, Accordion Celebration, Kinderfest, Fall Music Festival, Salmon Festival and more, there is always so much to see and do.
Riff and I enjoyed and authentic Bavarian dinner at Andreas Keller that was just incredible. Soo so good! Come on, walk with us through this magical place...

No road trip is complete without a visit to a yarn shop!

Anyone who lives here has had to buy into the magical Bavarian world of Leavenworth 100%. Their work uniforms are costumes, really, and they can be seen all over town dressed in their European gear. Very fun to see, you feel like you really must be in another time and place.
Street entertainment ~ I've seen this same guy in several of the Leavenworth advertisement publications, during all kinds of weather so he must be a staple of the streets. Entertaining and fun to watch with a large crowd around him at all times. The kids love it!

Silly, goofy hats are huge in Leavenworth. I don't know if it's all the time or a Octoberfest tradition, but it was just to fun to see so many people in their finery. There is a special shop, The Hat Shop, of course, to purchase your nonsense, but the line was formed a block from the front door so we stayed away. Next time, though, I'm joining in this Tom-foolery. Yes, I am, Riff, and so are you...

Just outside of Leavenworth and in the surrounding country are a few wonderful farm stands and pumpkin patches. This old wooden farmer stands at the entrance to Prey's Fruit Barn, enticing us in with his large wooden apple. This fruit barn is wonderful eye candy in itself, and once inside, oh my goodness! The smell of the fresh fruit is incredible. Apples, pears, plums oh my! Corn and pumpkins and squash make beautiful displays beside farm fresh jams, jelly's, soup mixes and so much more. I could have spent a gazillion dollars in here, had I had a gazillion dollars, of course, which I did not. Too bad for me! If you find yourself on Highway 2 in Washington State, don't stop until you have found Prey's Fruit Barn and the attached Home Fires Bakery. Delicious!
We were chummed right in to the Home Fires Bakery with the smell of fresh brewed coffee and the best pastries this side of the Mississippi. I didn't take any pictures inside (I'm kind of shy like that!), but they had the most incredible HUGE old-fashioned floor mixer I've ever seen. It was gorgeous, as mixers go. Look at those grounds. I so love that pumpkin path!
Oh My! This pastry is called a "Twist and Shout". It was fresh out of the ovens and it made me want to shout for sure. Absolutely scrumptious!!

Leavenworth's Riverfront Park is a wonderful place to relax away from the hustle and bustle of the many festivals. Take a walk along the Wenatchee River or sit on one of the long line of benches with a good book and a cup of joe. Sweet and serene, Riff and I ended our stay in Leavenworth with a stroll through this park before jumping in the car and heading back home. A perfect ending to a magical weekend.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Christmas carols are playing on the stereo, the lingering scent of pumpkin pie is still in the air, the sounds of knitting needles clicking and clacking and a whirling sewing machine can be heard at differing intervals. Black Friday sales are not for me, instead I have chosen to stay home, digging into my Christmas crafting with a frenzy. I'm really happy with the presents that I have turned out in this last week (vacation time for me~ Yippee!). Three little quilts are finished, one custom hat for an etsy sale, a knitting project complete, and a new snowman on the needles. Our Christmas boxes going to Germany and Texas have been mailed and one for Wyoming is getting close to completion. What a week it's been, completely relaxing, knitting, sewing and baking. Feels like a dream...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Five little turkeys are we...
We slept all night in a tree...
When the cook came around
We couldn't be found
And that's why were here you see.
Gobble, Gobble!!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Hope your tables and your houses are full!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Little Miss Matched

Traditionally, I'm not a threesome kind of girl but recently I've been giving that a second thought. In the mail one day last week, I received a random package from my brother Joshua in Manhattan. (Well, it was a late birthday present, but late enough that it felt just like a random surprise which is even better than a darn old birthday present.) In that fun red, white and blue priority mail package was that fun, wonderful, polka-dotty, soft, striped threesome of socks that you see in the picture above. Now how darn fun is that, I ask you? You don't get a PAIR of socks, you get a three un-matched, super soft fun fun socks! Bet you didn't know I have three feet, did you?!

I so love this idea. It fits me perfectly. Thanks Joshua!

The company is called Little Miss Matched and you can find all their fun socks here. What great presents these would make for all those Miss Matched girls in your life. Check it out!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ice Ice Baby!

Snowmonsters and Icemen have invaded my house. They can be seen hanging out in the living room watching TV, studying the bookshelves in my craft room for some light reading and I've even caught them standing in the kitchen with the fridge door wide open. GUYS! There's nothing new in that fridge since you checked last. You have to make something! The snowmonsters are quieter than you would think, I barely know their around except for those ice cold spots of water that I've been stepping in from time to time. Brrr!

Nevertheless, they are going to get individually boxed up and shipped away. In fact, Mr. Abominable left last week for Germany. I sure hope his passport was up to date and that the weather doesn't get to warm somewhere on his journey. Sure wouldn't want him to arrive as just a puddle of slush. Sad!

Iceman, the newest snowmonster inhabitant, is going to shortly be off to Texas. I may have to find him a refrigerated boxcar to travel in. Maybe Frosty will show up to keep him company. As long as that evil magician stays far away. I'm pretty sure that Iceman could take him in a showdown anyway, but to be safe I'll look under the train to make sure he's not clinging on before they pull out of the station.

I sent the little quilt below along to Germany. Wouldn't want our little Ayden getting cold when he's playing with his new snow friend, now would we?!

Oh the weather outside is frightful....can't remember the words.....Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fabulous Fall Foods - Recipe 4

I'm late - I'm late
For a very important date!
No time to say hello, goodbye
I'm late - I'm late - I'm late!!

No, I have not forgotten about my Fabulous Fall Foods, but in usual me fashion - I'm late! I hope you all have been enjoying some beautiful fall weather and some wonderful fall flavors. This week's Fabulous Fall Foods recipe is a scrumptious bread that will have you drooling while baking. Mmmmm....this stuff is so good, and with a bowl of homemade Venison Barley Soup it's simply to die for.

Here's the recipe. Have fun!

Pepper Cheese Bread

1-1/2 cups finely diced green peppers
3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil, divided
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons honey
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3 eggs
4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 tablespoon water

In a skillet, saute peppers in 1 tablespoon oil for 15 minutes or until tender; set aside. In a mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water. Stir in the sugar; let stand for 5 minutes. In a saucepan, heat the milk, honey, salt and remaining oil to 110-115 degrees. Remove from the heat; stir in the cheese. Stir in 2 eggs and reserved peppers; add to yeast mixture. Add 2 cups flour and wheat germ; beat until smooth.

Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Do not knead.

Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch dough down; Spoon into two greased 8" x 4" x 2" loaf pans. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Beat water and remaining egg together; brush over loaves. Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Yields 2 loaves.

Delicious! Next time, I will probably add more green peppers. The flavor was wonderful but, heck, can you have enough peppers?!

What have you been baking this week? I'd love to hear.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Standing in line at the Post Office the other day, I found myself tapping my heels together and wishing for home. The line was long, lunch hour on a Monday, with only one window open to serve all of our needs. The box I was sending to Germany for Christmas was feeling heavy after awhile, people were clearing their throats, shuffling feet and feeling generally discontent with spending so much time standing in line, which brought me to my thoughts of home.

I begin to picture our house, warm fire crackling, soft jazz on the stereo, cookies baking in the oven, kitty curled up on the couch. Ahh, how I long to be home. My thoughts then begin to wander farther back - to a November afternoon in 1975.

The school bell rings, doors fly open and we all scramble our way out of Stella Mayfield Elementary School into a bright, crisp autumn day. Coats are buttoned up, mittens pulled on as thirty 2nd graders mingle with the rest of the grade-schoolers, calling out to our friends, laughing and jostling as we each head our own ways home. In this tiny rural community in the 70's, we are safe to walk home alone, knowing that everyone we meet along the way is looking out for us. It takes a community to raise a child was such a true statement during this era. If we were naughty on the way home, rest assured that Mom would know before we got there.

I meander home, never in a big hurry. Too many leaves to crunch and crackle under my feet, too many bugs to watch poke along. When I do arrive, I push open the door to the smell of fresh baked cookies and a Mama's love.

Ahh, how I long to be home again, and eight years old, for just one more day...

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Following my friend Terri's advice, I have entered the picture that's in my header into the Weather Channel's fall photo contest. I would love it if you would pop over to the contest page and vote for my photo. When you are on the site, click on the "People's Choice" tab then just type in my name, Paula Niziolek, under the photographer search and the picture should come up. Keep in mind that you can only vote once per email address (and you will have to register to vote), so as much as I would love to get your vote, choose carefully your favorite photo. There are some absolutely gorgeous ones. It's a fun way to take a virtual fall trip to see the colors. Beautiful for sure!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Tales Behind the Tombstones

"We never did hang the wrong one but once or twice, and them fellers needed to be hung anyhow jes' on general principles."
~A Nameless Judge In The Old West

It's time for Turn the Page Tuesday hosted by Adrienne from Some of a Kind. I choose to read Tales Behind the Tombstones by Chris Enss, thinking that it was appropriate and fun for a late October read.

From the back cover:
A crumbling headstone in the cemetery at Bodie, California, memorializes Rosa May, a prostitute still known for caring for the sick. In Deadwood, South Dakota, Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok, infamous to the end, lie interred side by side, per Jane's last request. And at the top of Lookout Mountain in Colorado lies the greatest western showman of all time, Buffalo Bill Cody, his grave site visited by thousands every year.
Simple Stones, roadside crosses, and grand monuments commemorate the lives of those ordinary citizens and larger-than-life characters who tamed the Wild West and exemplified its greatest myths. In Tales Behind the Tombstones, author Chris Enss shares the stories behind their lives, deaths, and burials.

This book is a collection of short true stories about those buried in both marked and unmarked graves all over the old west, both the infamous outlaws that we all know and many other pioneers that we don't. All of the stories are interesting, all of them taking us back to the old west.

I really enjoyed this one. It's fun to read short stories now and then and even better when we revisit some of our old outlaw friends and foes. I had always thought that Bob Ford shot Jesse James in the back of the head after Jesse had stopped his life of crime. Not so. Bob was part of the James brothers gang, had killed one of the other gang members and, after getting caught, plea-bargained his own case by agreeing to bring down the infamous Jesse James. They were in Jesse's house discussing their next train robbery when Jesse turned to straighten a picture and Mr. Ford shot him in the head. I knew most of the story; had just always heard that the gang was no longer a gang and that Jesse (alias Mr. Howard) was on the straight and narrow.

"All the world likes an outlaw. For some damn reason they remember 'em."
~Jesse James, 1879

I know that I'm posting this on Monday night but my computer seems to have a bit of a bug again, so I probably won't have any access for a couple of days. Darn thing won't recognize it's own battery pack or my photo multi-media card, among other things. Cross your fingers and wish my poor sick computer luck. Otherwise, it might soon be in an unmarked grave in the old west.

"A cemetery is a history of people - a perpetual record of yesterday and sanctuary of peace and quiet today. A cemetery exists because every life is worth loving and remembering - always."
~William Gladstone, Prime Minister of England, 1890

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Fishing the Old Way

My nephew, Jordan, caught a salmon with his bare hands the other day in the Umatilla River that runs right behind their house. You've got to hop over to my sister Susan's blog and watch the video. It's hysterical and you won't be able to help yourself from laughing right out loud along with Jordan. What a hoot!