Happy holidays! I hope everyone had a good *insert your holiday of choice* celebration. I was a little concerned that Christmas would feel sad this year without having any family over from Norway, but JK and I (and the pups of course) had a wonderful time.
For us, Christmas begins on the 23rd, Little Christmas Eve. Since we knew we wouldn’t be getting a white Christmas in Redmond this year, JK took the day off so we could find some snow in the mountains instead. Out of sheer laziness, we went back to Skyline Ridge. I was there just a couple of weeks ago, but it’s short, easy, doesn’t require any planning, and it seemed like the perfect place for JK to try his new randonnée skis. I followed him on snowshoes.
We had been promised sun, but skies kept changing from blue to grey to white to yellow and pink, which made for some eerie light but unfortunately blocked our views to the north. As we climbed above the Stevens Pass ski area, we got some excellent views into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
The local views weren’t bad either – after listening to Alvin and the Chipmunks in the car on the way up, the snowy trees were all it took to finally get my into the Christmas spirit. Bliss!
(If anyone has any tips on taking photos of snow on overcast days, please share – mine always come out dull, grey and flat, even if I overexpose the shot.)
Mount Daniel was looking particularly handsome and dramatic:
As we rounded the lake, I spotted a familiar white and black dog in the forest. It was Jasper and his dad, Tom, on the way back from a peakbagging adventure on the other side of the ridge. They joined us for the rest of our trip (even though it meant they had to go back up to the rock garden), which was good for me so I could have some company on the way down while JK skied.
JK made it all the way back to the car without falling (or so he claims), and then we headed home to get started on the nut loaf and risengrynsgrøt…and the donning of gay apparel.
Thank you so much for all your well wishes! Bobby is doing so much better; he’s eating up a storm and getting lardier by the minute. I think he might even be ready to go on some little walks around the neighborhood soon. He’s our little Christmas miracle!
Speaking of miracles, I have fallen in love…with a vegetable. I’ve had an aversion to spinach ever since a regrettable episode four years ago involving me, a salad, and some slightly soggy spinach that had been in our fridge just a tad too long. Did you know that when spinach is past its prime, it tastes like fish? Nas-tay.
Well, after reading about green smoothies all over Bloglandia for about a year now, I decided it was time for me to grow up, get over my gag reflex and give the Wonder Green a chance. That’s right – I’m putting spinach in my smoothies! I’ve adopted Angela‘s term for the concoctions, Green Monsters. The most shocking thing is that they taste good, and after having them for breakfast a couple of days, I actually started craving them. I usually only crave chocolate and potatoes (in various shapes and forms), so this was a welcome surprise.
My basic recipe is:
2 tbs frozen berries (you can add more, but it will make your smoothie look very…brown)
In order to mix it up once in a while, I use different greens, add some extra stuff like parsley or cucumber, and I also made a very good holiday themed Green Monster where I used pumpkin instead of berries and added cloves and ginger. Mmm. I’ll have to make that one again for Christmas. For your first couple of smoothies you can use more berries and less spinach so you can get used to the taste.
I’ve been drinking these for breakfast for about a month now, and it feels great to know that I’ve consumed about 326 servings (ballpark figure) of veggies before the day has even begun. I’ve also had much fewer headaches and migraines even though I’ve been fairly stressed out these last few weeks, which makes sense since I am finally getting some nutrients into my body.
Even Bobby likes Green Smoothies – when he was at his worst and wouldn’t eat any of the tasty things we tried to give him, I caught him licking the leftover smoothie in my glass. After some quick googling (sorry honey, “binging”), I found these pet safe green smoothie recipes and started making him a mini Green Monster every day. Whenever I used the blender, he would come up to me and wag his tail! It was pretty much the only thing he would eat before he got his medicines and his regular appetite back.
Hopefully eating all this spinach is going to make both of us as strong as Popeye (but without the unfortunate medical problems):
Since our regular vets couldn’t find out what was going on with Bobby, we ended up taking him to a neurologist. Diagnosis: canine meningitis. Eeep! At least now we know what it is and what to do about it. Bobs will be taking steroids for a couple of months, and then hopefully he’ll be all healed.
He actually started doing significantly better within 24 hours of his first dose (and after three days I caught him trying to hump Wellie – must be the ‘roid rage)! It’s so good to have our old Bobby back – and it’s such a relief to see him eating again. As you can see, we definitely need to fatten him up after a month and a half of being sick.
Part of Operation Lard Dog was to make our annual batch of holiday gingerbones for the dogs. Bobby and Wellie (and certain other stout friends of theirs) love these, especially the ones shaped like Italian Greyhounds. If you want to make them for your pups, you can find the recipe here (it’s from an old issue of The Bark magazine).
It’s been below freezing here for a week now, and while this shouldn’t faze me at all (being a Norwegian and all), it seems I have lost my burly viking blood. I’ve spent most of the week burrowing under layers of blankets with Bobby and Wellie and trying to heat up our stupid, drafty house.
Here’s a totally gratuitous photo of us from JK’s office party on Saturday. It has nothing to do with the rest of the post, but I wanted to show it since we’re not wearing sweaty, grubby hiking clothes. And because JK wore his snazzy hat. Sadly, our evening was cut short because I had a major shoe fail. Yes, that’s blood. Ouch.
(I look so tired in photos lately – it certainly doesn’t help that I haven’t been sleeping well this fall. Aargh. If anyone has an under eye, anti-puff cream that actually works, please share. Or maybe something that could make me sleep that’s not some sort of evil pharmaceutical product.)
Anyway, we did manage to get out of the house a couple of times this week in spite of the cold. Before the holiday party, JK and I went for a quick run on Cougar Mountain (must get LONG running pants, brr!), and on Sunday we hiked up to good old Rattlesnake Ledge (the bump behind us in the photo up there) with Andre and Ellie.
On Wednesday, Ellie, Suz and I braved the forecast (-7°F* with the wind chill – luckily that wind never showed up and the sun was out in full force to keep us warm) and drove up to Stevens Pass for some snowshoeing.
The thing about hiking in the cold is that as long as you keep moving, you stay nice and toasty…but if something happens and you’re stuck up there waiting for help, you’re a wee bit screwed. So even though I was hiking in nothing but my thermal underwear and a soft shell layer, my pack was stuffed to the brim with all sorts of warm and puffy layers. I also heated up my water at home before I put it in my pack so it wouldn’t freeze.
Anyway, we snowshoed up to Skyline Ridge, a short and sweet hike with a great payoff. According to my GPS it’s only 3 miles with 1300 feet of elevation gain, and we got views of Mount Stuart and Daniel behind the Stevens Pass ski area and Glacier Peak and the Mountain Loop peaks to the north. Nom nom nom. I took more photos when JK and I went there in January (because my fingers weren’t as cold that day).
Supposedly the temperature is going to rise a little bit over the weekend, which might bring a bit of lowland snow – that would do wonders for my hitherto non-existent Christmas spirit. I think I have to go into some sort of holiday boot camp mode this weekend to see if I can get in the mood. Maybe I’ll have to bring out the big guns and watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation two weeks early. *gasp*
Holy neglected blog, Batman! I guess between uploading all our photos to flickr and posting all sorts of absolutely riveting updates about my life on facebook, it’s easy to forget about this old thing.
Item number one on the agenda is to let you all know that Bobby is ok – a lethargic tiny lump of skin and bones, but ok. The vets have taken approximately 34,204 tests, but no one has been able to figure out what’s wrong with the little guy. Last week he was eating a little bit and seemed to have some energy, but over the last couple of days he’s been slowing down again. It’s so frustrating to see him so skinny and uncomfortable when I have no idea what I can do to help him.
We haven’t been hiking much on the weekends lately (we replaced it with a wholesome activity known as eating), but on Sunday we had an unseasonably amazing day on Rainier. Our friends Andre and Ellie had never seen the Mountain from Paradise (despite several attempts), so we decided we would go snowshoeing and prove to them once and for all that there is, in fact, a rather large volcano there.
Unfortunately the weather didn’t seem to be cooperating when we arrived, but we held strong in hope that we could climb our way above the clouds.
At around 7300 feet, we could see hints of blue skies, sun, and – could it be?? – Mount Rainier! Many huzzahs were heard and there was much clicking of cameras. Andre and Ellie’s curse had finally been broken!
We synthesized as much vitamin D as possible, then headed back down since the days are disgustingly short this time of year in Washington.
The hike back down was spectacular; all the clouds and fog lifted, we could feel the warm sun on our faces, and the glissade down from Panorama Point was the most fun I’ve had in weeks. As a bonus, the falling temperature had formed an evil death crust on top of the snow – the faceplanting skiers provided us with much amusement.
Wending our way down to the parking lot, we ran into another couple of friends – Tom and Amy!
Of course no trip to Paradise is complete without a fox sighting. This handsome fella (or gorgeous gal, what do I know) was skulking around the parking lot looking for handouts. I guess people are still feeding them even after what happened to Pickles the Fox – the foxes have started walking into the road when they see cars approaching, which cannot possibly end well.
Not too shabby for a hike this time of year! November in Washington is a notoriously (well, among hiker folks, not normal people) bad hiking month since the weather tends to be utterly craptastic and there’s usually not enough snow cover for skiing, but this was certainly one of my favorite trips this year (yes, I know I always say that).