Sunday, April 22, 2018

Spring Hike at Three Creeks

It's almost like spring hiking season hasn't even begun until we've hiked Three Creeks South. We generally hike it at least a handful of times during the year. It was one of the last hikes we did last year, and now the second AND third one of this year, because we've been there for the last two weekends now. Last Saturday, we had early morning soccer games. They were the first Saturday games of the season because the rain has continually delayed and cancelled one game and practice after another. But once we rolled ourselves out of bed so early for that first game, we figured we may as well be productive with the rest of our day and be outdoors.

And boy did we ever make the most of it. We took one of the boys' friends with us, which was a lot of fun for the boys! 

Eli couldn't wait to get his feet in the water. Finally warm enough! He was the only one who braved the water, but I was thisclose to being right in there with him. 

Notice that Lex has a different approach. Shoes on, not in the water.

And as always, the search for interesting rocks, and the inevitable challenge of skipping them across the water.

 The boys just climbed and explored, and then climbed and explored some more.

The sky was perfect. Even though it was only in the 50's, the sun was shining, and that was all that mattered.

The boys found rock paths back and forth across the creek.

We discovered this cliff face last year on this hike. Look carefully. The cliff wall appears to have eyes and a nose. Can you see it?

The three boys skipped rocks, then threw rocks, then dug for rocks, then examined rocks. It's an explorer's playground down there at the creek.

And finally, we followed the rocky path back uphill to this meadow. We met the nicest older couple along the way who talked to us about the spring weather, the flowers they had seen, and their prediction for when morel mushrooms would be coming up. This trail system is very private, and we rarely see anyone, but we always enjoy talking to the people we do meet. Kindred spirits.

The landscape was just beautiful.

 The boys started playing hide and seek along the path. Or maybe it wasn't so much hide and seek, but rather hide and jump out when mom and dad walked by.

The next time we're on this trail, it will be much greener! Yeah, spring!

On the homestretch, Lex found this "walking stick" that he carried instead of using for "walking." This kid.

Here are the stats from Geotracker.

 On our way out of the conservation area, we couldn't resist stopping to take pictures of this beautiful field and sky. 

That ended our spring hike for the day! Stay tuned for week 2 at Three Creeks. Happy hiking!

Friday, April 20, 2018

Broccoli Blueberry Chopped Salad with Herb Dressing

Spring, where are you!?! Groundhog day was forever ago, and here we are still dressing like it's winter most days. Spring is usually my energizer after a long winter, but day after day, week after week, I sit staring at gray, rainy (sometimes snowy) sky. Our meteorologist says that spring weather is coming. Could it actually be? I only dare to hope.

In the meantime, I'm trying to do my part and make it at least feel like spring around here. Springy wreath on the front door, lavender candles, spring cleaning and purging... anything to make it feel like someday the clouds with give in to the sun and we can open the windows once again.

As for meals, even though it seems like we should be making hearty, soul warming meals, my mind has already shifted over to spring like foods. Salads, veggies, and fish dinners have taken over our menu and the recipe I'm sharing with you today is going on our regular rotation of salads for this spring/summer. I made it first a few weeks ago, and immediately wished that I had taken pictures for the blog.

I have mentioned it before on this blog, but it's worth repeating - I cannot get enough of chopped salads. Lettuce is not typically my favorite part of salads, especially when it's served in big chunks that you have to cut up. I much prefer a salad that has just as much vegetables/cheese/nuts/toppings as the lettuce itself. Enter this chopped salad. Blueberries, broccoli, sunflower seeds, feta! Every single bite it full of spring loving flavors.

Let's proceed, shall we?

Here's what you need.

Salad Ingredients
4 cups lettuce of your choice, chopped into bite sized chunks
3-4 cups broccoli, chopped into bite sized chunks
1 cup fresh blueberries
4 (or 5) ounces feta cheese
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup sesame seeds (more for topping if you want)

Dressing Ingredients
1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup milk (more or less to get desired consistency)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dill, dried
1 tsp parsley, dried
1/4 tsp paprika

The good thing about a chopped salad? All the ingredients are "give and take." If you want (or have) more of one thing, and less of another, switch it up! The flavors of the ingredients blend together, so it's your call. For example, I love, love, love feta, so when I have extra, I throw it in too. So take those salad ingredients and throw them all together.

 Now for the dressing. I've been making up this dressing as a cleaner version of ranch dressing. It is so yummy, versatile, and tastes so much fresher (obviously) than the bottled version.

Mix together your Greek yogurt and milk, until you get your desired consistency.

Throw in your herbs and spices, and adjust to suit your flavor preference. I tend to always throw in a little extra salt, and maybe a little garlic powder (or real garlic) too. It just depends on what you're in the mood for. If you have any of this leftover, it would be good as a veggie dip, or whatever. There is no reason for this to go to waste.

 Serve it up and enjoy!

I served it on the side of a grilled salmon with garlic, lemon, butter sauce that was seriously the best fish I have ever made at home. The salad was the perfect side!