Mary’s Peak

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Another of my favorite hikes is up Mary’s Peak. I like it because it is not too far from my house and it is an easy hike for kids. We have taken our kids as young at 2-3 and they easily hike up this trail – they might just go slow! They like to explore the bugs along the way too!

You drive up the mountain, almost to the top. There is a great view just from the large parking area. You can only do this hike in late spring, summer, or early fall – otherwise, it is covered in snow. Once you park in the parking lot, the path up to the top is just off the parking lot.

You do gain quite a bit in elevation on the hike, but it is gradual, so it isn’t too difficult. Once you get to the top – took us about 20-30 minutes with a very slow 3 year old – you will get some AMAZING Views. On a clear day, you can see to the coast to the cascade mountain range. You should be able to see the Three Sisters, Mt. Jefferson, and Mt. Hood on a very clear day (We saw it on our last visit).

Seriously AMAZING 360 views of the coast to the cascades – the view is amazing, especially for how easy of a hike it is! Your kids will feel quite the accomplishment when they make it to the TOP of a mountain and are above the clouds!

So if you are looking for a fairly easy hike for kids with a fabulous view as your reward, I highly recommend heading up to Mary’s Peak!

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Cheddar Biscuits

cheddar biscuit

I love a good cheddar biscuit. Well, I love a good biscuit and you add cheese to just about anything and I am a happy girl. I mean, we have an entire drawer full of cheese in our refrigerator. Tillamook Cheese is on sale this week at Fred Meyer too. More cheese!

These cheddar biscuits are simple to make and a great addition to any meal. I prefer drop biscuits to the roll out kind because 1. I’m lazy, 2. takes longer to make. I like to just drop and bake, not roll, cut out, roll again, etc. I do it occasionally, when I feel like I have extra time and I want flaky layers. For these cheddar biscuits though, the drop kind work just as well.

Cheese and Bread – YUM!

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
  • 1 cup milk (can use/make buttermilk, if desired)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into small cubes/slices
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • Melted Butter, garlic powder

 

Directions:

Heat oven to 425

In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, garlic powder, salt, and cayenne pepper together. Using 2 forks or a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour mixture until crumbly. Stir in the cheese. Add the milk and stir until combined. Don’t overmix.

Drop biscuits onto a greased cookie sheet. I used foil to help with clean up. Should make about 12 biscuits. Brush melted butter onto the top of the biscuits and sprinkle with garlic powder. Bake 12-15 minutes until they just start to brown.

Yum! Eat and Enjoy!

 

cheddar biscuit cheddar biscuit cheddar biscuit

Cheddar Biscuits

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
  • 1 cup milk (can use/make buttermilk, if desired)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into small cubes/slices
  • 1 - 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • Melted Butter, garlic powder

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 425
  2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, garlic powder, salt, and cayenne pepper together.
  3. Using 2 forks or a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour mixture until crumbly.
  4. Stir in the cheese.
  5. Add the milk and stir until combined. Don't overmix.
  6. Drop biscuits onto a greased cookie sheet. I used foil to help with clean up.
  7. Should make about 12 biscuits.
  8. Brush melted butter onto the top of the biscuits and sprinkle with garlic powder.
  9. Bake 12-15 minutes until they just start to brown.
http://mismashedmom.com/2016/09/cheddar-biscuits.html

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Silver Falls

If you were to ask me where my favorite places I’ve been to are, I’d answer one of 3 ways: Disney (Land or World, love them both!), ANY Beach (Oregon’s hold a special place in my heart – beautiful, rugged, spent most of my life there. Hawaii – we had the most fun ever as a family on the beach for a week straight! East Coast beaches have such warm water, but too many people! Nicaragua had the most breathtakingly beautiful beach I have ever laid eyes on – better than any picture I’ve seen! Even beat the beaches in El Salvador & Costa Rica) or I would say Silver Falls.

Silver Falls is a gorgeous State Park here in Oregon – less than an hour from my house. Not sure why this isn’t a National Park!

There are many waterfalls for you to see and several trails you can hike. You can go the easy route and see the Iconic South Falls, which someone of any ability can see and experience, because it is not too far from the parking lots! This is the falls most people think of when they go to Silver Falls. We’ve had several trips where we just went to this falls (and then maybe the North Falls)

The scenery is like nothing else. So green, lush, and beautiful. Green as far as the eye can see! It is one of the only places I know of that you can walk behind waterfalls! Different times of year, the waterfalls are fuller than others. The spring time offers some of the wettest and fullest waterfalls. Last time we went in Spring, there was so much water, we got fairly soaked going behind the waterfalls. This year, we went early summer, and it wasn’t too full, so we didn’t get wet. Some year, I am going to think ahead and book one of their cabins for a few nights!

There are also several other hikes you can take to see the other 9 waterfalls in the park. There is one 7.2 mile trail that will take you to all the waterfalls called the “Trail of Ten Falls.” When my kids are older (or we leave the younger ones home), we plan to do this trail again!

There are other trails or ways to see some of the other waterfalls, without doing the one long hike. Some are farther back and hard to get to, some require a short hike and others you may be able to see from the many viewpoints along the road. Their website has a list of the trails and lengths. Don’t let the lengths fool you! We thought some seemed short, but they can be steep! Quite the elevation changes, which aren’t always listed! Some more difficult that others for little kids!

Bring a picnic and enjoy an afternoon hiking around. Bring lots and lots of water, snacks, and good hiking shoes!

This is how the baby hikes!

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Crack Tator Tot Casserole 

My 6-year-old has been an incredibly picky eater lately. EVERY night at dinner, it is a fight. It is not enjoyable for anyone. Even if I make something he likes, like pancakes, he finds something to complain about/not eat. Frankly, it is driving us CRAZY. I do not enjoy the fight every evening.

Now, my other kids love almost everything I make. In fact, after getting home from a 2-week vacation this week, my 11-year-old son said “YAY! We get a homemade meal!” So at least most people in the house appreciate what I make.

Well, one thing my 6-year-old likes is tater tots. I am not a fan of traditional tater tot casserole. I saw a recipe on Pinterest with chicken and it looked creamy, so I thought I could eat it too. Well, it was successful. It turned out delicious! As you can see, it was a bit messy in my pan, but that was because I forgot the ranch seasoning, so I had to mix it in after I had it in the pan – Oops! I love my stoneware pan though – cleans up sooooo EASY!

This will be made again here. If the 6-year-old will eat it without a fight, then it is a winner around here! YUM!

 

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz Sour Cream
  • 1 can condensed cream of chicken (or cheddar) soup
  • 1 package Ranch dressing mix
  • 1 lb cooked chicken – cubed or shredded
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 2lb bag of frozen tater tots
  • 1/2 pkg. of bacon – cooked (optional)

 

Directions:

Heat oven to 350. Spray a 13×9″ pan with cooking spray.

Mix together the sour cream, ranch dressing mix, chicken, condensed soup, cheese, and bacon (optional). Fold in the tater tots. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake 40-45 minutes, until cooked through and browning on top.

Eat and Enjoy! YUM!

 

Crack Tator Tot Casserole 

Ingredients

  • 16 oz Sour Cream
  • 1 can condensed cream of chicken (or cheddar) soup
  • 1 package Ranch dressing mix
  • 1 lb cooked chicken - cubed or shredded
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 2lb bag of frozen tater tots
  • 1/2 pkg. of bacon - cooked (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350.
  2. Spray a 13x9" pan with cooking spray.
  3. Mix together the sour cream, ranch dressing mix, chicken, condensed soup, cheese, and bacon (optional).
  4. Fold in the tater tots.
  5. Pour into prepared pan.
  6. Bake 40-45 minutes, until cooked through and browning on top
http://mismashedmom.com/2016/09/crack-tator-tot-casserole.html

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 Easy Strawberry Bars

 Easy Strawberry Bars

 

I made these strawberry bars a few months ago. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from them. I usually turn my nose up at recipes that use a cake mix for the base of the dessert. I always think of it as cheating or an easy way to make a sub-par dessert. Usually, they don’t turn out as delicious as I would want. I use cake mixes all the time for cakes, cupcakes, etc. I love them for cakes. It is just for other desserts, I don’t think they turn out the best – especially cookies, etc. Well, I think this is an exception to my “don’t use cake mixes for desserts other than cake” rule.

These bars are like a mix between a cake and a brownie, only strawberry flavored. I love strawberry anything. I am actually a big fan of strawberry cake. That is probably why I liked this dessert because it was like a strawberry cake brownie!

They were gobbled up by the family pretty quick. Now looking at the photos again, I am thinking I should go into the kitchen and whip some up right now! YUM! They take no time at all to make – super simple and delicious! Plus, I mean you coat anything in cream cheese frosting and it is bound to be delicious! Mmmmmm…..

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 box Strawberry Cake Mix
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg

Frosting:

  • 8 oz Cream Cheese, Softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • Sprinkles as desired

Buttercream frosting would also work well!

 

Directions:

Heat oven to 350. Spray a 9×13″ pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl or your stand mixer, mix the cake mix, the butter, and the egg together until ingredients are combined. Dough will be thick. Spread dough into pan using a spatula or your fingers. It will be thin. Bake for about 12 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow bars to cool completely before frosting.

With your mixer, whip together the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Spread over the cooled strawberry bars. Top with sprinkles as desired.

Super easy and delicious! A quick dessert for any day of the week!

 

 Easy Strawberry Bars

 Easy Strawberry Bars

Ingredients

  • 1 box Strawberry Cake Mix
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • Frosting:
  • 8 oz Cream Cheese, Softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • Sprinkles as desired
  • Buttercream frosting would also work well!

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350.
  2. Spray a 9x13" pan with cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl or your stand mixer, mix the cake mix, the butter, and the egg together until ingredients are combined. Dough will be thick.
  4. Spread dough into pan using a spatula or your fingers. It will be thin.
  5. Bake for about 12 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Allow bars to cool completely before frosting.
  7. With your mixer, whip together the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy.
  8. Spread over the cooled strawberry bars.
  9. Top with sprinkles as desired.
http://mismashedmom.com/2016/09/easy-strawberry-bars.html

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Out

Wow! I realized that I have been neglecting this blog for too long! We had a VERY busy and fun summer here, and I still am trying to play catch-up from everything we’ve done. I did manage to keep up my personal family blog, so that is something, right? Plus, I managed to empty out all the luggage from our last trip in about 2 days – that is a record for me!

My baby turned 6 months old today. Half a year! How has it gone by so fast?!?! We have done quite a bit in these last 6 months – he may be one of the best-traveled 6-month-olds around! After his difficult birth and after delivery where I had life-threatening complications, I just want to enjoy life and see the beauty of this Earth – so we took advantage of that this summer!

I just put together 2 photo books just of pictures from our summer. I did one from our summer adventures and I really had to narrow down which pictures to use, since we did so many fun things. Hopefully, I’ll get some of it blogged here. I did a separate book for our trip to Disneyland, Legoland, and Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

In short, I’ve been busy out enjoying life. Enjoying my family. Enjoying my children. Enjoying the world around me. Trying to live life to the fullest. We had a fabulous summer. I have several recipes we’ve made that need to be blogged – I don’t want to forget about them! Time to play catch-up. Back to Life, Back to Reality! Recipes, Travel, & some craft posts to get written! The 3 oldest are back to school this week – 8th, 6th, and 1st grades. The 2 youngest are going through sibling withdrawals. The 3-year-old misses his playmates and the baby misses everyone fawning and cooing over him constantly. However, he has been napping MUCH better this week! Go figure 😉

Now to start typing up some new posts and recipes!

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Paralyzed

Today, as I celebrate both child #2 5th grade graduation and child #3 Kindergarten graduation, I do so with such a heavy heart. The news of the child at DisneyWorld last night did me in.

It started with waking up on Sunday morning to the horror that happened in Orlando. I can’t even. It brings me back to the day of Sandy Hook. I was paralyzed with fear that day – I’m not sure I have really ever gotten over the horror of that day. I had 2 children in an elementary school. It took everything I had not to go take them out of school and keep them home with me forever. I believe it was one of the most horrible days, next to 9/11, that I could remember. Such unimaginable pain. I can’t imagine, and I pray never to, what those parents went through. The fear, the pain, the loss. I still cry today just thinking about it. Seeing our President cry over those children, just really hit home to me how horrible this crime was.

Then the mass shooting in Orlando this weekend. All those parents losing their beloved children (even if they are adults). Then the child being snatched by the alligator at Disneyworld last night just did me in. Too much horror and bad news. All I could think of was my children. What those poor parents are going through. You are excited to go on a fun, family vacation, and you end up coming home without someone. Horrible. Terrible. Unimaginable.

I had a hard time sleeping. I kept thinking about our last trips to Disneyworld. We had a 2-year-old boy on our last trip. We stayed at one of those DisneyWorld resorts with a beach. We played on those beaches as a family. We have pictures of us having a great time on those beaches. We sent our kids on a Pirate Cruise, where they played with Cast Members on those beaches (and went on a small boat in those waters). I vividly remember my 2-year-old running on the beach to the ice cream shop, excited to get ice cream, after a long day, but enjoying the sand on his way there.  I never considered Alligators at the Happiest Place on Earth. It never crossed my mind (it should have in Florida, but we don’t have alligators here in Oregon). That 2-year-old could have been anyone’s 2-year-old. There but by the grace of God go I. That sweet child. Those poor parents and siblings. My heart and prayers go out to them. It’s horrible. My heart breaks for them.

Seriously, my heart aches for all these parents. What a horrible week in Orlando. I want to sit in a corner and cry – just like I did with Sandy Hook (I seriously pretty much cried for a week). I hugged my kids a little tighter today, the now 3-year-old is getting more attention than he would probably like today. I am grateful for them – each one of them. Times like this make me want to wrap us all in bubble wrap and never leave the house. But I know we can’t. That is not living and enjoying life, as much as I would like to. My heart is hurting and sad for all that is lost. I pray all these families find some sort of comfort in these tragedies, and that our country tries to put aside our differences and learn to love everybody – no matter their race, religion, or lifestyle. Everyone is someone’s child, brother, sister, mother, father. We are all Children of a loving Heavenly Father. If we could honestly, truly just love one another, despite our perceived differences, what a wonderful world this would be.

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