Monday, October 24, 2016

Nashville Wife's Pulled Pork

Hello, and Happy Monday! I usually keep up with blogging over the weekend, but this weekend, I took a much needed computer break, although I'll admit I did answer a few comments. (I thoroughly enjoy communicating with my readers, so it's hard to abstain completely.)

Last Friday, I purchased three pounds of pork shoulder and decided to create my own slow cooker pulled pork recipe. I was a little weary, but it ended up turning out great! Here's the tutorial.

Nashville Wife's Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

3-lb pork shoulder
2 teaspoons oil (I use canola or olive)
1 medium-sized onion, chopped
1/4 cup BBQ sauce
3 medium-sized garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon liquid smoke

Step 1: Cover the bottom of your slow cooker with 2 teaspoons oil and then with onion chunks. Lay pork shoulder (with all packaging removed) on top of onion.

Step 2: Drizzle with 1/4 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce. (I currently have two homemade BBQ sauce recipes that I use. You'll find one with my "Buffalo Wild Wings Style Chicken Wings" recipe. I have yet to post the other one.) Sprinkle minced garlic on top of meat.

Step 3: In a small bowl, mix the following:
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon liquid smoke

Pour mixture over meat. Cook on high for 7-8 hours, basting liquid over meat ever few hours (if possible). Thirty minutes before serving, pull meat with a fork, stir into existing liquid, and allow meat to cook 30 minutes immersed in liquid.

Step 4: Serve with BBQ sauce and buns (if desired).

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Visiting the Redwood Giants

It's time for another batch of pictures from our trip out West! After visiting Multnomah Falls, catching up with family and friends at my brother's seaside wedding, and spending a day sightseeing along the Oregon Coast, we arrived in Northern California to visit the spectacular Redwoods.

Ever since I was a little girl, I had been dreaming about visiting the Redwood Forest. It actually turned out to be even more majestic and breathtaking than I had imagined.

To walk up to the base of those massive trees and try to wrap my mind around the fact that they are hundreds (and even thousands) of years old was truly amazing. It's one thing to see a building or other man-made structure that was build before the year 1 AD, but to think that these trees have sustained themselves for that long is such an awesome thought.

We drove past many Redwoods that had been darkened and hollowed out by forest fires but were still standing strong. Then we learned from one of the park rangers that these trees are naturally fire-resistant. How neat!

As we were walking through the beautiful forests, I kept thinking how neat it would be if we could watch a time-lapse video of everything the Redwood Giants have witnessed over the past two millennia. 

Spiral tree (multiple "shoots" from the same root system)

After passing through Crescent City, California, we enjoyed stopping for a few short hikes in the Redwood National and State Parks near Berry Glenn and Orick. I found it quite hilarious to see Mr. Handsome dwarfed while standing next to even the medium-sized Redwoods.

Some of the trees had little hideouts in the middle of them, which made for great photo ops. Here's one of Mae and Lena...

I think Lena is trying to find the top of the tree!

This picture is a little dark, but seeing Lena's tiny head poking through really captures the size of the trunks.

 The "Big Tree" extends 304 feet above the forest floor and is an estimated 1500 years old. Wow!

The bright orange and yellow leaves and the vibrant green moss made the forest look like a scene straight out of a fairy tale. This isn't a Redwood, but it's still a beautiful tree.

Later that afternoon, we stopped at Humboldt Redwoods State Park and drove through the Avenue of the Giants. (Thank you to the readers who suggested we visit Humboldt. It was time well spent!)

We came across a tree that fell last winter, but unlike all the others we saw lying on the ground, it had splintered.

This is the Dyerville Giant, which once stood a whopping 362 feet tall with an estimated age of 2,000 years and a circumference of 52 feet. Before it fell in 1991, it was believed to be the tallest tree in the world.

Before heading to a hotel for the night, we stopped at the Chandelier Tree in Legget, California. At 315 feet, this tree is approximately 2,400 years old. Visitors with regular-sized vehicles can drive through the base of the tree, but we were in a 12-passenger van, so that didn't work out. There's Mae standing in front of the opening...

We spent 16 hours in San Francisco (pictures coming soon) and then headed home. Now that we've seen the Redwoods, the trees around here just aren't that impressive. LOL.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Fall at Fall Creek Falls

Over the weekend, we made the two-hour trek out to Fall Creek Falls State Park, located southeast of Nashville, Tennessee. The schools here are just finishing their two-week break, so there were quite a few visitors at the park.

Starting at the nature center, we crossed the suspension bridge and hiked a mile to the tallest waterfall on this side of the Rocky Mountains. We haven't had much rain, so the fall was more of a light shower, as you can see from the pictures. 

After taking photos from the lookout point at the top, we ventured 256 feet down to the base of the falls.

The trail was gorgeous, especially with the autumn-colored leaves, but climbing back up was a struggle. I'm going to count that as my leg workout for the year...

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Visit the Nashville Zoo

While trying to come up with a fun, after-church excursion two weeks ago, we decided to check out the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere. Turns out that the land used to be a plantation. How neat is that? It was donated to the city of Nashville for use as a nature center.

Although it was 90 degrees and humid, we had a blast. Before exploring the various animal exhibits, we toured the Grassmere Historic Home--built in 1810--and walked through the gardens and stables.

I really enjoy history, so seeing all the old buildings and artifacts was the highlight of our zoo trip for me, but the animals also turned out to be pretty fascinating.

Can you see the giraffes in the distance? We couldn't convince them to come any closer, but Mr. Handsome enjoyed watching them from afar.

And then there were the meerkats. This little guy came right up to the edge of the exhibit to have his picture taken. 

After that meerkat lost interest and walked away, I looked up and saw Mr. Handsome standing in the middle of the exhibit! But then I realized he was in a plexiglass enclosure. LOL

We were surprised to find out that the kangaroo pen was a petting zoo. We both enjoyed having our picture taken with a 'roo. For those of you who live in Australia, how often do you see wild kangaroos? Are they friendly?

The Nashville Zoo is also home to flamingos, zebras, antelopes, ostriches, leopards, cougars, various types of birds, and a handful of other creatures. We look forward to returning for future visits as new exhibits open.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Photo Ops Along the Oregon Coast

Hope you have been enjoying the pictures from our trip out west. After exploring the waterfalls east of Portland, Oregon, and spending time with family and friends at my brother's seaside wedding, we loaded into a 12-passenger van with Mr. Handsome's parents, grandparents, and two youngest sisters and headed down the coast to San Francisco.

It was early October, and the weather was chilly (around 50 degrees Fahrenheit). There was rain in the forecast, but it always seemed to clear up just as we were pulling over to snap pictures at lookout points or embark on a short hike. The ocean looked quite different than it does further south, but it was still beautiful.

You can see Heceta Head Lighthouse in the background at this lookout point. Mr. Handsome loved the view so much that he did a painting of it a few days after we returned home.

The coastal highway curves along the cliffs, providing a new, breathtaking view at every turn.

At one spot, we stopped and walked down to the shore, just as the sun was setting. It felt really strange being on a beach wearing heavy coats.

My sister-in-law Lena happened to climb up on a rock at just the right time for me to take this photo. Look at that spectacular sky!

We exhausted all the possible photo ops on that beach. Can't wait to make a scrapbook!

These next two are my favorites. The originals were beautiful, but Mr. Handsome edited them to make them even more gorgeous.

Stay tuned for photos from the Redwoods, the California coast, and San Francisco!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Stunning Oregon Waterfalls

Greetings, blog readers! Hope your week is off to a good start. On Friday, I shared photos from my brother's wedding on the Oregon coast. Living in Tennessee, we knew we likely wouldn't have another chance to fly out West for quite a while, so we decided to spend several days sightseeing.

We flew into Portland International Airport on Thursday evening and met up with Mr. Handsome's parents, grandparents, and two youngest sisters (Mae and Lena). We spent Friday morning exploring Wahkeena Falls and Multnomah Falls, located east of Portland. Thank you to those of you who recommended those attractions. The scenery was absolutely beautiful!

After just 10 minutes of hiking, we arrived at this beautiful waterfall. The vibrancy of the green moss made it look like a scene straight out of The Lord of the Rings.

Our pictures turned out so well, despite the fact that they were taken on an iPhone. The backdrop almost looks fake, doesn't it?

After that first stop, we continued along the path, which snaked up the hillside and provided an excellent leg workout.

Mr. Handsome found a giant rock that jutted out from the path and had nothing below it. I had a slight freak-out moment as he climbed out onto it and asked me to take his picture. You could tell that the rock used to be much bigger and that part of it had toppled down the cliff. Needless to say, I was relieved when he stepped off.

As we continued walking, another couple came up behind us and did the same thing. (The wife freaked out while the husband climbed out onto the rock and asked for a picture.) I had to laugh at that...

 The view from the first lookout point along our hike was stunning!

By that point, we were quite tired, but another group of hikers told us that the next stop, Fairy Falls, was gorgeous and not to be missed. So we continued on for another mile. This waterfall was smaller than the first one but still worth the trek.

After making our way back down the hillside, we drove a few miles to Multnomah Falls to snap a quick picture.

 I also had Mae take a photo of me drinking out of a 100-year-old water fountain. LOL.

In order to make it to Lincoln City for the rehearsal dinner, we weren't able to explore any of the other falls. After the wedding, we headed down the coast to San Francisco. More pictures coming soon!

Friday, October 7, 2016

An Oregon Coast Wedding

 Mr. Handsome and me on the Oregon coast 
(a super windy day, as you can tell by our hair!)

Happy Friday! Sorry for the delay in posting over the past week. Mr. Handsome and I were on a jam-packed vacation, which included my brother's wedding at a seaside chapel in Lincoln City, Oregon; a three-day drive through the Redwood Forest and along the California coast; and 24 hours in San Francisco. (If you follow my Facebook page, you have probably seen a few pictures that I posted during our trip.)

We had a blast! Those of you who live on the West Coast are truly blessed to be surround by such breathtaking beauty. I have tons of photos to share, so I'll start from the beginning. Here are my snapshots from my brother's wedding. (Hopefully when we receive pictures from the photographer, I will have even more to post.)

The bride's mother was in charge of the reception hall decorations, and she did a fabulous job. I was totally impressed to hear that she came up with all the arrangements without looking at Pinterest.

After the rehearsal dinner at the church, we all headed over to the reception hall to help add the finishing touches to the decorations. Mr. Handsome was quite proud of the pillar that he and a few other groomsmen decorated:

The wedding cake was definitely the most unique I had ever seen. Half the layers were chocolate, and the other half were vanilla. I just love the vibrancy of the flowers!

My brother and his new wife sat at this newlywed table during our delicious dinner (salad, salmon or chicken, veggies, and rolls).

The reception hall was also on the ocean, so we enjoyed taking family photos with the sea as our backdrop. Most were taken by the wedding photographer, but I had someone take this shot of Mr. Handsome, my parents, and me with my iPhone:

Most of my aunts, uncles, and cousins were able to make the trek from Canada. Mr. Handsome's parents, grandparents, and two youngest sisters also came to the wedding and drove with us down the coast. It was wonderful to have both our families together.