Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Asian Pear Crisp

Asian Pears? Apple-pears? Pearapples? Whatever you want to call them, I personally am not a huge fan. We've gotten so many through Bountiful Baskets, probably because they're cheap fruits. We find them to be watery or flavorless, and would never just go buy them on our own. I don't always find a use for them, and sometimes they're just left sitting there until they go bad - no matter how flavorless they are, I hate it when that happens!

So what was my solution this week when we were given 10? Make Asian Pear Crisp! Super easy, and they can actually have flavor with some added ingredients, baked, and served with ice cream! Even though it's still quite warm down here, making crisps has been a fun way to bring some tastes of autumn to our table. 

My new Asian Pear Crisp recipe:
8-10 Asian Pears (mine were about the size of baseballs, pretty standard as far as I've seen with them)
⅔ cup sugar, divided
½ tsp salt
⅔ cup flour
⅔ cup rolled oats
⅓ cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 stick melted butter

Preheat oven to 350
Peal, core and dice the Asian Pears, add ⅓ cup of the sugar and salt. Mix together, and put in greased baking dish.
Mix the remaining dry ingredients together, add the butter, then pour over the pears mixture. 
Bake for 35-40 minutes, serve warm with ice cream!

I made a large dish of it, hoping for it to last for a few days...but my husband enjoyed it a bit too much for that ;)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Puppy Adventures

Before we got married, a piece of advice I received several times was "Before you have kids, get a pet to practice on!" This sounded like a great idea, so we started looking forward to the day we'd get our puppy - our first child. Now that we have a puppy, this makes even more sense to me than it did before! We knew she would be a big time and financial commitment, but I wasn't expecting how fast and how much she could turn our world upside down.

Taking a nap. She's really mastered the art of sleeping.

Though we had put much thought into the responsibilities that come with a puppy, the reality of it didn't seem so real until she was really ours. However, Charlotte has made things easier on us by being a stellar puppy. One of the biggest ways she's impressed us is by sleeping through the night! YES! She's also been relatively quiet, which I know might not stick since she's a hound dog, but for now it's a blessing, especially living in an apartment!

I know she'll grow up way too fast, so I want to remember as much as I can about what she is like as a puppy. Here is a list of Charlie's quirks that make her who she is.

Charlotte is 10 weeks and 6 days old, (born 7/14/14) and weighs 11 pounds.

-Charlie LOVES people. When we take her outside, she gets so excited if she sees someone new. Her little tail wags so fast, and she is so happy to get to smell and kiss someone new. If you ignore her, look out - you'll have a little basset puppy chasing you down! Thanks to Charlie, we've met at least half the people in our apartment community.

Charlie sits and waits for her friends in the office to come back.

-Charlie gets nervous around other dogs/cats. Her tail goes in between her legs, and she might try and hide behind something. She stays very quiet until they leave.

-It took her a few days, but she mastered the art of stair climbing. Once she got that down, she decided that it's way more fun to have someone else carry her. Going down the stairs is terrifying! She's made it halfway once, then started crying for help.

-Do you remember being a young kid, and always wanting to walk along the edge of the curb? That's exactly what Charlie is like. She enjoys balancing on the curb and the center of speed bumps.

-The first 2 mornings, Charlie woke us up at 5. After that, she started blessing us by sleeping in till 6, at least! She will just whimper a little. The one time she cried the most was when she was in "time out", which has only had to happen once.

-She takes lots of little naps every day. She enjoys being near us, but her other favorite places are in the bathroom or on a small ledge under the piano.

-Her favorite things to chew include her toys, the bathroom rug, newspapers, and us.

Vicious Charlie attacks a poor innocent toy.

-The only place she'll try to dig is when we let her on the futon. The futon, though only 1.5 feet off the ground (at most), is our place of refuge when she gets nippy.

But sometimes, we let her up here anyway!

-She loves to have her belly rubbed. We finally found that sweet spot which will make her little legs kick when rubbed.

-She has the cutest little groan/grunt that she'll make when we pick her up, when she's stretching, or other random times.

-She's currently not allowed in the office or bedroom. She will make every attempt to get in whenever she sees her chance.

-She goes from a full out sprint to lying down in .008573 seconds. I never know what I'm in for when I take her outside. Will she sit there and chew on rocks for as long as I'll put up with? Will she do her business then climb up the stairs and be done? Or maybe she'll see someone and take off after them in what will end up to be a jog around all the apartment buildings? There's no way of knowing!

-Those ears! Our goal is to grow them out so she can beat the World Guinness Record of "Longest Dog Ears." (It's currently 13.75 inches, we've got a ways to go.) They get wet when she drinks, and then she shakes them off and they whip all over. She trips over them when she walks. She does not appreciate our efforts to keep them clean.

-Her first visit to the vet went perfectly - she put up with everything they had to do, and she learned about puppy treats!

-When going for car rides, she would much rather sit right between us than stick her head out the window.

-She's so cute, I really want to get pictures of everything she does, but the only time she's still enough for a camera is when she's asleep - therefore, I have many pictures of her sleeping. :)

But no matter what happens, Charlotte will never be remembered as "the most impulsive terrible mistake we made this month." My new haircut? THAT was "the most impulsive terrible mistake I made this month"!

"Selfies with Charlie" round 1: Charlie hates selfies. See her scowl? Grrrr.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Romero Pools

September 20, 2014

Before our new puppy entered our family, we had another weekend adventure! This happened the day after we first met Charlotte, and so while we were hiking, most of our conversations revolved around her. We were trying to imagine what it would be like doing everything with a little puppy by our side.

Exactly one year ago from this weekend was our first hike together in Arizona, and we had hiked this exact same trail. Then, we went with the Navigator group from U of A. Today, it was just us, and I intentionally went out with my camera, ready to document the adventure, unlike last year.

We started around 8 this morning, and it wasn't long before we were hot and sweating profusely. This was thanks to the humidity that lingered over after the rain. We took several breaks and questioned whether we should even be hiking since it was already so hot this early. But we knew that at the end of this short 2.7 mile hike were pools that we could relax and cool down in, and so we pressed on. 

The trail starts off being a sandy, easy path that is relatively flat. It would have been very easy if it weren't for the heat. Because the trail is much shorter, it's also very busy with hiking groups headed to the pools.

No dogs beyond this point - guess this isn't a hike we'll be doing with Charlie! We joked about how her short legs wouldn't even be able to climb up the high rock steps. Also, this sign has been joked about probably as long as Curtis has hiked this trail - the "No Horses" part was obviously added as an afterthought as it's written on the sign unlike the rest of the writing. The joke is that the bighorn sheep were the ones that wanted to exclude the horses, so they added that line to the sign. :)

I remembered being tired and winded throughout most of the hike last year, and I thought that it was just because it was my first hike and I was still adjusting to the elevation. However, I realized that it really is a more difficult hike because of the trail conditions (rock face, steep steps) and because it does gain quite a bit of elevation quickly. Having done both trails twice, I would definitely say that 7 Falls is a much easier trail, and therefore better for a first time hiker in the area!

This was another trail that we were excited to see after all the rain. Not only were the pools at the end very full, but everything was so green the whole way up. 

Ahhh! We saw our 5th tarantula while hiking! Curtis took this picture, because obviously I was hiding from it. I guess only seeing 5 tarantulas in 1 year isn't that bad for an Arizonian...right?

After around 2 hours of hiking with several breaks, we finally reached the end. We found a spot to leave our things, then went to enjoy the pools. Here, the air was cool and fresh, as was the water.

Here's Curtis' favorite part about the pools - the cliff diving! To see it better, try enlarging the video. I was just figuring out the video recording on my new phone for this, so sorry if the quality isn't the best. I'm just glad I had it to be able to capture the fun. I'll work on finding a better way to share videos...which is especially important now that I have an adorable puppy who much easier to record than take pictures of. ;)

Facing the opposite direction of the cliff diving. Here are some of the quiet, refreshing pools.

Facing towards the cliffs - we had a snack while watching some others jump from the highest cliff possible.

Selfie! Just one happy couple, completely unaware of all the happiness and love about to join them in the next day. :)

After spending quite a bit of time at the pools, we began the trek down. At this point, clouds were starting to come over us, and with them came cooler air which made the hike more comfortable.

Yay, I can take my own panoramas now!This is facing Southeast, watching the clouds rolling in. 

Even wider view of the above picture - not the best, but you can see both sides of the trail here. 

Facing Northwest

And West! After this point, it started raining on us, so we put the devices away and finished the trail in the rain. However, since we were here, we decided to grab a box on the nature trail before finishing up. This added about a mile more to the hike.

A screenshot from the app "Map My Hike" on my phone. We had heard about this before and were excited to finally try it out, and we're excited about mapping out many more hikes! Here, you can see how far we went and what our trail looked like. The green dot is where our truck was, the red line to the right is the 5.4 mile hike to the pools, and the small loop above the dot was the nature trail to get the box.

Here, you can see the  elevation changes throughout the hike. The app uses GPS signal, and even though my phone lost service in parts of the canyon, it continued to keep track of where we were headed!

Now the real fun begins...how will we continue having adventures with a puppy by our side? Maybe we'll find out this weekend. :)

Monday, September 22, 2014

We Gladly Welcome To Our Family...

Charlotte ("Charlie") Antebellum!

Yes, we finally did it - We are now proud puppy parents!

We met Charlotte on Friday night and it was love at first sight.  What we thought was just another visit to the puppy store we frequent ended up to be the day we met the dog of our dreams.

Charlie also just seemed to know that we were the people she wanted to spend her life with! We had a great bonding time that night, but knew we had a big decision ahead of us. Were we really ready to be puppy parents? 

We went home and talked about it all weekend. We thought through every detail that comes with owning a puppy, and how it could change our schedules and plans. While we like to go hiking or on short trips over the weekends, we are usually at home during the week. We could still have weekend adventures, we would just need to either plan dog-friendly trips, or find a petsitter - and we already have some people who are more than willing to help out. 

By Sunday afternoon, we knew we really wanted her, and we decided to go back and see if she was still available. If she was, she was meant for us, if she was gone, then it wasn't meant to be. And what do you know, she was still there, and very excited that we came back for her! And so of course, we brought her home. 

She likes to sit on this ledge on the piano. Then she sees her reflection in it, barks at herself, and falls off. It's adorable! She also trips over her ears. :)

How about that big, round, spotted tummy?!

She has done very well adjusting so far - she hasn't barked much at all, she's been friendly around the neighbors, and is very laid back. She has gotten plenty of sleep - last night, she climbed into her kennel by herself and fell asleep around 9, then she was quiet throughout the night until we decided to get her up around 5. I guess we might become early risers thanks to her, but it's worth it. :)

Thanks to Charlie, we have used more paper towels in 18 hours than we have in 13 months of living here, but we have also met more neighbors than we had before. 

We've taken her on a few walks so far. She doesn't always understand the purpose, but she likes to use her hound dog instincts to smell everything! She's very friendly around people, and a little shy around other dogs. She is a bit nippy, which can be expected, but she makes up for that by being generally pretty quiet. 

We're so excited about the adventures ahead of us with our new little baby! 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Minor Upgrade

side note: please note my step count for today on the screen of my phone.

So this happened. 

I called it quits with my loyal, unbreakable, simple, dying, 5 year old phone and joined #teamandroid with a new (to me) smartphone.

While part of me feels disgusted that I have given in to society, the other part is excited about the areas of my life that will also upgrade, such as:

-Picture taking. I expect my picture taking habits to increase by 3000%.
-I now can enjoy texting and talking on the phone for 30 seconds without having to be within 2 feet of an outlet and charger.
-Letterboxing. Recently, we've had some trouble with clues cutting off on Curtis' iPad or printed out pages, so we are excited that our letterboxing habits will improve now that we can look up clues anywhere (especially when that means finding the box we drove or hiked hours to find).
-Hiking. I have yet to discover all the cool apps that I am now able to have, but the one we have enjoyed the most so far is "Map My Hike". I'm hoping to find a way to connect it to this blog somehow. At the very least, we can have an accurate reading on miles and elevation.
-Couponing. I receive many emails with coupons, and they all end up going to the trash because we don't have a printer. Now, receiving 20+ ads a day could maybe be a little bit worth it!

Looking back at this list, it could pretty much be titled "first world problems"...oh well. It's nice to finally enter this decade.

Tucson Faces Hurricane Odile

It was what we call... a dry hurricane. #wewillrebuild

(Not to be insensitive to the damage that this hurricane did cause in other areas - it's just that Tucson has been in the news all week about this hurricane that was going to bring storms and flooding, and it was a tad disappointing after all the hype.)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Strawberry Pie

Today I wanted to share a new favorite recipe with you - Strawberry pie! As I mentioned before, my friend Seneca and I did a little baking on Saturday, and this is what we came up with. I don't really think of strawberries as making a great pie on their own, but this was amazing!

I've talked about Bountiful Baskets before, an co-op that I participate in to get fresh fruits & veggies from. A few months ago, I purchased the strawberry add-on special that consisted of 8 pounds of strawberries for $12. I chopped them all up and froze them, because I knew I could get a good use out of them, even if I only used them in smoothies. Fast forward to this weekend, our friends requested we make some sort of fruity dessert, so I grabbed one of my bags of strawberries and we searched the internet looking for something to try. Usually when I'm making a baked good using fruits, I stick with a turnover or cobbler-type dessert, but we decided to be adventurous and try out a strawberry pie - and the results were amazing!

To start off, we used the easiest pie crust recipe we could find. We had no idea how much dough it would produce, but we had all the ingredients and so we went for it.

Pie crust:
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
½ cup butter, diced
¼ cup water

We whisked the first 3 ingredients together until it was a crumbly mixture, then added the water slowly while mixing. We played around with it a bit before rolling it into a ball, wrapping it with cling wrap, then putting it in the freezer for about 20 minutes.

Strawberry filling:
4-6 cups strawberries (it was difficult to tell how many because they were frozen!)
1 cup white sugar
⅓ cup all-purpose flour

While that was baking, we pulled the strawberries out of the freezer and put them in a skillet. It was maybe about 6 cups of strawberries - it seemed like a lot, but once they had defrosted and softened in the skillet it was closer to 4 cups. We added 1 cup of sugar to the skillet and stirred that in with the strawberries, then periodically as they continued to defrost. We left it on for about 20 minutes. After they were no longer frozen, we removed the strawberries to a mixing bowl and added the flour. The wonderful thing about using these frozen strawberries is that they left a LOT of sweet strawberry syrup behind - we put that in a jar and refrigerated it for later. 

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. We used a 9" cake pan (only because we didn't have a pie tin on hand!) we rolled out the dough and put it in, and we trimmed it down so that the edges went all the way up the side of the pan. We poured in the strawberry mixture and used the leftover dough to make a lattice on the top - we ended up having just enough dough to make it look pretty, and for it being our first time making a lattice, it turned out beautifully! We baked it at 425 for 35 minutes. 

After letting it cool, we served it with ice cream on the side, and some of the strawberry sauce poured on top. Everyone agreed that it was amazing, and there really isn't anything I would do differently!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Facing the Dangers of the Desert

We had another lovely night at Sabino Canyon, running/walking with our friend Mitch. Great conversation, perfect weather, a gorgeous canyon sunset that brightened the entire sky. Could the night get any better?

No. Down was the only way to go.

It was starting to get darker when we passed by some other walkers who said "Look out, we just saw a snake up ahead!" Sure enough, there it was….barely distinguishable from the cracks in the pavement. Mitchell got up closer while I cowered behind Curtis.

"Oh cool, it's a sidewinder! I've never seen one of these before! They're so rare!" He kept saying. Curtis got closer to check it out and I still panicked.

Photo not mine, I didn't have a camera on me and I would never get this close!

The sidewinder - they creep along the ground from side to side. They can also move quickly, especially on pavement. After safely getting past it, we started running again - this time, running for our lives! 

Photo again not mine, if I saw a snake looking at me like this the very last thing I would do is take a picture.

And as if that wasn't enough, just a quarter mile later, we saw a mohave snake, again in the middle of the path! It was getting darker, and of course I was becoming more afraid. By some miracle we survived passing by not one, but two rattlesnakes. We warned others who were headed the opposite way, and they told us they had seen 2 more where we were headed. "We're trapped! Take cover!!"

Spoiler alert: we made it out alive. I don't know how, but we're all fine. Thank God.
We are never returning to Sabino Canyon again.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

To The Falls!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Today, we decided that since we had afternoon plans, we just wanted to get out and do a short hike in the morning. We decided to hike the Bear Canyon trail, which leads to 7 Falls - a 6 mile hike round trip. (You can also start at Sabino Canyon, but that adds an extra mile!) We started early to beat the heat. As you may have heard, it's been raining a lot down here, so we were excited to see what the falls and river would look like with so much water.

Starting the trail that shortcuts to Sabino Canyon and Bear Canyon trail around 7 am. It was a quiet start, but as this trail is only 6 miles round trip, it's much busier, which makes it less of a peaceful hike.

Facing Northeast. 
Curtis has done this trail 4 times now, and we had done it together last October as well. When I started doing longer hikes, I thought that doing them once would be good enough for me, but now when I think back on them there are some that I really don't mind doing again - this is one of those trails! While it's easier, it helps us to get back into shape for hiking, yet it isn't too strenuous so we aren't caught out in the heat for too long. Also, since we had done this before I started taking pictures and documenting each hike on here, I thought it was necessary to do again! :)

The trail met up with Sabino Canyon's paved trail, which took us to the beginning of Bear Canyon trail. The river was rushing through, and everything was much more green than I remembered. For the most part, the trail stays relatively flat and really isn't difficult. It's also very well maintained.

The hardest part (for me!) was the river crossings. The trail to 7 Falls has 7 different river crossings. Each one has rocks to step on (like the above picture) that usually make it easier, unless the river is much higher than it was. For the first few crossings, I took off my hiking boots and let my feet get wet. But as you can imagine, 7 crossings in 2 miles is a lot of stopping to take off and put on shoes…for a brief period, I tried to pull a Curtis and hike barefoot, but soon gave up on that because I am weak. My issue with crossing rivers is more mental than anything else, but Curtis is helpful and understanding and we made it anyway. :)

After the last crossing, the trail gets a bit steeper and has a few switchbacks, and though it was easy for us today I recall being a bit more winded my first time. It really isn't anything compared to other hikes we've done, and soon enough, we made it to the falls!

7 Falls is just what it sounds like - 7 different waterfalls, each spilling into a new pool which starts another waterfall. It's really fun to walk around the rock face (barefoot especially!) and dip your feet in the cool water. There were lots of people there, but we managed to find a spot and a pool all to ourselves where we sat, relaxed, and enjoyed peanut butter and Nutella on tortillas.

Here we are in our own private pool with the falls behind us. :) The water felt refreshing but painful on my new blisters!

After wading around and enjoying, Curtis decided he wanted to do something he'd never done before - hike to the very top of the falls! I passed, since there isn't a trail, and I stayed and watched him through my zoomed-in camera.

Our own version of Where's Waldo - Where's Curtis? Hint: He likes to be camouflaged to his surroundings. :)

He made it! Can you see him? He said the hardest part was scaling a rock face, but after that it was easy. :)

Zoomed in - now can you see him?

As I mentioned before, we had done this hike last year, but I didn't write about it. Here's some pictures we had taken then. There was much less traffic, as it was October, and so we had climbed up to the 3rd fall and hung out there.

In the pool by this waterfall, there's a small cave - only Curtis was brave enough to check it out - I didn't trust Arizona very much at that point. ;)

Leaving - one last look at the falls!
There is a letterbox series for anyone interested that starts at the end of the trail and heads back to the beginning. We completed it last year though, so we just had an easy walk back.

Facing Southwest, toward Tucson. It was getting much hotter at this point. We passed lots of hikers that were just on their way up - we didn't envy them having to walk up and back in this heat!

After finishing the hike, we stopped at an estate sale where we got a bargain on a book Curtis had wanted for a long time, about Arizona ghost towns and mines. Normally $15, got it for 80 cents. Score!

Then in the afternoon, we went to hang out with our friends Austin and Seneca. While the guys played a war game, Seneca and I made some of the prettiest homemade pizzas ever.

See? They tasted even better than they look! We also made a strawberry pie… Check back later for a picture and the recipe ;)