Friday, May 31, 2013

Another Graduation?

For the last week or so Ashley and I have been celebrating another graduation.  Kaleigh graduation kindergarten!  The first full day of celebration was a hike.  She got to pick the trail at Sweetwater Creek State Park.  We choose the white trail again, which seems to be her favorite despite it being a 4 mile trail.  She did a great job on this trail again.

We saw quite a bit of wildlife this trip as well, including turtles, hawks, lizards, and an eastern garter snake.  Kaleigh and I even ventured out onto some rocks in the creek and let the water rush past us.  We took our time and spent about 5 hours in the woods, hiking, watching, talking, and relaxing.  I think it is great that at 6 years old she has such an appreciation for the wilderness.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Cooking with Kaleigh: Strawberry Jam!

When I was a child I have fond and vivid memories of my mum making raspberry jam.  Looking back, I am not sure that she made jam year after year but I do recall them sitting in the cabinet for awhile and they were delicious.  Even know, raspberry jam is my favorite.

This year, when Ashley, Kaleigh, and I picked strawberries, we had such an abundance that we thought it would be fun to try and make strawberry jam.  We got all the stuff ready and ended up making 6 jars of jam!  It was really good for a first try and lots of fun!  One of the best parts of the afternoon was that Kaleigh agreed to make another cooking video!

Again I used clips because the process is long, especially when you let a 6 year old instruct you.  Kaleigh did a great job and I think she was thrilled to have Ashley make a cameo appearance!  This was also my first video with my new camera and I think I really like the quality.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Panther Creek and a Snake Fight!

Last Friday, Ashley and I finally took the hike to Panther Creek.  I have heard it was a good hike for several years but neither of us had gone before.  It is about an hour and a half drive so it requires a good portion of the day, not to mention the 7 mile hike round trip.

We got a late start leaving Atlanta, it was closing in on 2pm.  We also stopped at a local farmers store and shopped for some goodies.  We found a treasure!  Fried pies that were vegan!  There were all sorts of varieties and we tried both the apple (what was amazing) and the strawberry (which is pictured).  It was a fun stop and broke up the drive a bit.

Once we headed onto the trail-head, it was already 4pm.  We did not think much of it though and we pushed through, with me stopping every few feet to take pictures.  About half way into the hike we encountered a huge king snake slithering up the trail.  The snake did not seem to be concerned with us but would also not slide him or herself off the trail so we could go by.  We ended up waiting for about 20 minutes and wondering if we should turn around and call it a night.  Our concern was that if the snake was lingering in this locale, it's nest may be nearby which would mean circumventing the snake by going off the trail could put us in another dangerous situation.  Eventually, the snake opted to slither just off the trail and dare us to pass.  We took the dare and cautiously moved past.  It was a battle of wills with the snake!

We stopped a few more times before reaching the falls but we were a little concerned about the time.  When we arrived at the falls, we had been hiking for 3 hours.  Now a big deal but it was now 7pm and if it took us another 3 hours to hike out we would be hiking the last half of the trail in the dark.  Fortunately, there were no snakes (that we saw) and we took no pictures or stops and made it out in about an hour and a half.

I have to say, Panther Creek lived up to it's reputation as one of the best hikes in Georgia.  The entire hike is along the creek and there are plenty of amazing views.  Well worth the effort although next time, we will plan a little better!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Ashley's Graduation!

Another week late post.  I swear I will catch up to the current posts.  Just not today.  Last week was Ashley's college graduation!  She worked hard raising a child, working, and going to school full time.  She did a great job and everyone is very proud of her.  Sadly, the graduation took place at night so the pictures were not the best.


I am so proud of the hard work and diligence she put in for this achievement.  It is an amazing accomplishment that will improve her life tremendously.  Great job Ashley!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Mother's Day! (a week late)

I have been so behind on posts recently.  Over the last week or so I have been playing catch up, in fact, today is my Mother's Day post.  Sadly, my mother lives over 1000 miles away so I am only able to speak with her by phone.  However, Ashley is a mother, and so is her mother!  I had a privilege of spending my late morning with them.

I hosted the 2nd annual Mother's Day brunch at my house on Mother's Day for Ashley, her mother, and her daughter.  Three generations at my dinner table (actually, it is an extremely cheap folding card table)!  I made pancakes of all sorts of variety.  Some of the cakes were currant, some were chocolate chip, some raspberry, a couple were blueberry, a few strawberry and even and "everything" pancake that Kaleigh claimed!  Foolishly, I did not take pictures of the pancakes.

I also made some home fries, a smoothie with our fresh picked strawberries, and a fruit salad.  The day prior, I made my first attempt at making a granola from scratch to go with the fruit salad.  It turned out incredibly well and I am going to make some variations on it and post recipes soon.  I then took the fruit and arranged it neatly over the granola and served the breakfast with Vermont imported maple syrup.

Day like this really make me miss my mum.  I really hope that someday soon I will make her a Mother's Day brunch.  I hope my mum had a great day.  Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Chattanooga Vacation: Day 2; Caverns, Adventure, Food and Mischief!

Day two started out a little rocky as Kaleigh was cranky.  She is not a morning person and she was super excited to start the adventures we had planed.  She was not interested in the preparations needed to get to the adventures.  Once we finally got her there, to Raccoon Mountain, she was perfect!

Kaleigh had never been inside a cavern before so Ashley and I took her on a walking tour to warm her up.  I took my camera and was able to some nice shots of the caverns.  Kaleigh was often in awe of the beauty.  I can image I was also the first time I saw the inside of a cavern.

After the walking tour the three of us met up with out guide and took an hour long spelunking adventure!  We had pads, helmets, headlamps, the whole thing.  It was hard work for all three of us but Kaleigh was having a blast.  There was only one point where she got a little scared.  It was an area called "little canyon" where we crawled through a winding tunnel that was about 2 feet wide.  Cutting through the middle of the tunnel was a 4-5 foot drop into a "canyon".

She got to climb boulders, belly crawl through caves, slide down mudslides, scale ropes, all by just the light of her headlamp!  She was really brave and by the end she was extremely proud of herself.  Once out of the cave, we took some pictures with us all muddy and with our gear on.

After finishing up at Raccoon Mountain we did some gem mining and the headed back to Sluggo's for an early dinner as we were all famished by then.  Kaleigh enlightened another plate of nacho's while Ashley had the burrito.  I set out to eat an entire plate of pecan dusted seitan on top of mashed potatoes with a mushroom gravy.  Another great meal.

There can be no trip without some mischief so on our way out of Tennessee, we got some fireworks!  Once back in home, we set some of them off.  Kaleigh thought it was pretty cool since she has not had many chances to see fireworks that up close and personal.

The fireworks were a great grand finale to our overnight trip.  I hope we can take Kaleigh caving again, I think it has really made her feel special.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Chattanooga Vacation: Day 1; Sluggo's, Discovery and Hiking

Since Ashley completed her state exam and Kaleigh is about to graduate kindergarden, I wanted to treat them to a special out of town overnight.  We decided to go to Chattanooga since there were some extreamly fun and unique things for us to do.

We got up early and headed out, it is only about a 2 hour drive.  We had lunch at Sluggo's.  We had kept hearing great things about this little vegan restaurant but has not been able to go.  We made sure we got lunch there and it was excellent.  Ashley had a philly cheezesteak, I had a BBQ seitan sandwich, and Kaleigh had nachos.  We started off with some buffalo cheeky wings.  All the food was amazing.  Kaleigh destroyed almost the entire plate of nachos by herself!

After lunch the three of us went to the Children's Discovery Museum.  It had a lot of fun things for Kaliegh and she was going 100 miles per hour while we were there.  It was great!  One of the first rooms we went to was a doctor's office which seemed appropriate since Ashley just graduated as a radiology technician.  The two of them played with the x-rays before we went through the rest of the building.

After the Museum, we checked into our hotel, unpacked our things and headed for a local hike near lookout mountain.  Once we got a little ways into the woods, the trail was flooded out so we turned back.  At some point on the hike, without knowing it, I got a tick on my leg.  It was several hours before I noticed it.

After our hike, we headed to Ghegis Grill for a mongolian stir fry dinner.  We all had a lot of fun making out bowl of veggies.  It was a wonderful day but it came to a close early because we all needed our sleep for the following days adventure!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday


Soy fish with rice

Burrito with homemade re-fried beans

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Parks, Plants, and Hardcore!

Since Ashley has been out of school and the busy summer has begun at the jobby job, my schedule has been thrown for a loop.  Fortunately, it has largely worked out to allow me to spend more time doing enjoyable things. 

Ashley, Kaleigh and I had a Saturday morning together and we took the opportunity to plants some food.  We did not plant a lot and we used pots vs the ground but it is better than nothing.  We got some jalapeno peppers in, purple bell peppers, basil, cilantro, and tarragon.  Kaleigh loves to garden, I think most kids love any excuse to get dirty.

The following day I had off, which was extremely rare.  After Ashley got out of work, we grabbed Kaleigh and went to get some vegan donuts.  There was a special flavor, jalapeno!  They were great!  I am so fortunate to have a place that offers amazing vegan donuts here in Atlanta!  Revolution Doughnuts is an Atlanta treasure!

After donuts, we took a trip to the park.  There was a incredible amount of trash and it was not well taken care of.  We did get to some fire ants walking on water as well as some small turtles and a copperhead with babies!

That night, I headed out alone to see a couple of bands from France, Gasmask Terror and Youth Avoiders.  They were playing with one of my favorite new local bands, Mercenary.  Mercenary is so sick.  Fast abrasiveness hardcore, in your face.  Gasmask and Youth Avoiders were also extremely good.  Overall, it was a great show.

Gasmask Terror
Youth Avoiders

Monday, May 13, 2013

Raven Cliff Falls

Ashley finished all her tests and finals at school.  We have been taking any opportunity to celebrate her victory since.  She worked really hard and it will not be long before she is working at her new job so any chance she has to enjoy herself, she is taking!  Fortunately for me, I have been able to join in much of the fun.

The day directly after her last final, she and I went on a hike to Raven Cliff Falls.  It is just outside of Helen Georgia, a great day trip.  It was also my first hike with my new camera so I was snapping shots the entire time.  It was a little rainy on and off but that did not stop us!

We stopped at a grocery store to get some fruit for the hike and discovered some of the sketchiest (but vegan) potato chips! We tried them both, neither were very good but we could not resist!