Into the Home Stretch

Baby Girl + Dad Lifestyle Photography via Yea Yea PuebloBaby Girl + Dad Lifestyle Photography via Yea Yea Pueblo

Well Friends, it’s been one whole year of me going on and on about our upcoming PSC (Permanent Change of Station) to Alaska. In a week the movers will be here to neatly pack our lives into boxes and transport them to the interior of Alaska.

The Military lifestyle is still a foreign concept to me, probably because my upbringing was one of such permanence. If you bumped into the couch, you’d uncover depressions in the carpet where the legs had long settled. Dated shag carpet, wicker wall hangings, and oatmeal colored curtains decorated our home until I was well into Jr. High.

I left that childhood home when I was sixteen. I packed my bags for Oklahoma and never looked back. That was the first in a series of big changes in my life.

The next place I called home was Norman, OK where I was a college student turned townie. I almost made it an entire decade there, but a PCS to Washington changed that.  Now, not even two years later, we’re off to yet another location. A friend recently suggested that change is the only constant for me these days. So true.

Baby Girl + Dad Lifestyle Photography via Yea Yea Pueblo Baby Girl + Dad Lifestyle Photography via Yea Yea Pueblo

In just over a week, we’ll have our Subaru all packed up, with a roof box on top, travel trailer in tow and a big fat beagle in the cargo area. Yours truly will ride in back with the baby (I’m too tall to fit in the front seat with the carseat behind it), and the snacks. We’ll wave good bye to our first family home, and say hello to a much larger town home on Fort Wainwright.

So here we go again, off to make new friends and to explore another region of the US, this time with our ever-changing baby girl Margot.

Baby Girl + Dad Lifestyle Photography via Yea Yea Pueblo

20130831-IMG_8606Baby Girl + Dad Lifestyle Photography via Yea Yea Pueblo

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Your prayers for our safe travels (and the survival of my houseplants) are greatly appreciated!

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Wild Blackberry Swirl Ice Cream

Wild Blackberry Swirl Ice Cream | Yea Yea Pueblo

Wild Blackberry Swirl Ice Cream | Yea Yea Pueblo

I’m assuming that the dry summer weather caused a smaller yield in Washington’s Wild Blackberries than it did last year because as I paced the perimeter of a few blackberry bushes near the local dog park, I saw that the majority of the fruit had dried out. Or the smaller-than-average crop meant perhaps other like-minded people had harvested the bushes before I had.

Wild Blackberry Swirl Ice Cream - Ingredients | Yea Yea Pueblo

I didn’t really let it deter me. On one foot (and in Birkenstocks, no less) I balanced precariously over the thorny bushes to reach the wonderful Washington Blackberries sitting atop the bushes; the same berries that were probably out of reach for more cautious foragers. I have the scratches on my arms and the snags in my favorite shirt to prove it. While I stomped around in the thorny brush, Margot sat in her carseat in the shade nearby. She was more interested in her hand than my foraging. Babies. 

Wild Blackberry Swirl Ice Cream - Ingredients | Yea Yea Pueblo

Last year, our over-abundance provided me with enough blackberries to make preserves. I even shipped a few jars to family members in other states. This year I only came out with a pint or so. At the suggestion of my dear friend Rachel, I decided to turn my small yield of berries into ice cream. That Rachel is full of good ideas.

Wild Blackberry Swirl Ice Cream - Ingredients | Yea Yea PuebloWild Blackberry Swirl Ice Cream - Ingredients | Yea Yea Pueblo

Using the same concept I did for my Strawberry Swirl Ice Cream, I made my Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Base and swirled in homemade Blackberry syrup. The great thing about this recipe is that you can omit the Blackberry syrup-making process and substitute for another fruit syrup, fruit preserve or topping of your choice. Throw in some chopped up cookies or candies, chopped nuts, or even caramel sauce! The possibilities are endless.

Wild Blackberry Swirl Ice Cream - Tools | Yea Yea Pueblo

Wild Blackberry Swirl Ice Cream | Yea Yea Pueblo

Wild Blackberry Swirl Ice Cream Recipe

Ingredients:

2 Large Eggs

1 1/8 Cup Sugar

1 Vanilla Bean

2 Cups 2% milk

1 3/4 Cup Half & half

1/4 tsp of Xanthan Gum

1 Cup Wild Blackberries

1/2 Lemon, juiced

Instructions:

1. Slice the vanilla bean length wise using a paring knife, then scrape the caviar using a spoon.

2. In a large bowl, mix the eggs, sugar and vanilla bean caviar until well blended. Slowly add in the milk, and the half & half. Next sprinkle in the xanthan gum. Allow ingredients to incorporate while you work on the blackberry swirl syrup.

3. Rinse blackberries, and pick through, ensuring there are no stems or other debris present, then put into food processor. Squeeze half a lemon (less is okay) over the blackberries and blend until smooth. Over a bowl, strain the blackberries through a sieve, making sure that all the juice is extracted from the berry pulp. Set blackberry syrup aside. Discard pulp.

4. Pour ice cream mixture into ice cream maker, and allow it to churn for about 20-25 minutes. Watch it closely. When the Ice Cream reaches the rim, turn off the mixer and spoon ice cream into a freezer-safe container. Slowly drizzle blackberry syrup over the ice cream and swirl in with a spoon. Be sure to fold the syrup into the lower layer of the ice cream as well. Freeze for an additional 2-5 hours until the ice cream reaches a scoopable density. Serve and enjoy!

Notes: 

– I originally blended the blackberry syrup directly into the ice cream mixer, creating a delightfully colorful, and less marbled ice cream. The taste was still wonderful, but for that marbled affect, use the above instructions.

– Xanthan gum is used in my ice cream recipes to keep this lighter ice cream base from become icy. It works wonders!

– Follow this vanilla ice cream base recipe and add fruit preserves straight into the ice cream mixer. This is another great way of having a fruit-swirl ice cream of your choice. But be sure to keep an eye on it, when you add more volume, the changes of an overflowing ice cream machine run high.

BONUS!:

Take your lemon and vanilla bean discards, place them in a pot with water and let it simmer on low as a natural air freshener. I like to save up a few vanilla bean pods for the pot so the fragrance is extra sweet.

Natural Air Freshener | Yea Yea Pueblo

Ruby Beach, WA

Ruby Beach, WA | Yea Yea Pueblo

Ruby Beach, WA | Yea Yea Pueblo

Spontaneity is not lost on us, I’m happy to report. After lamenting all the lost travel opportunities in Washington that we are up against, we decided to pick a couple locales and go for it.

Highest on the wish list was a camping trip to the Olympic National Park, but you’d need to reserve a campsite months in advance; an impossibility since we weren’t sure how difficult life with a newborn would be. Travelers come from all around the world to camp in the old-growth rain forests and backpack in the steep mountains of the sprawling park. Steep cliffs? River crossings? Snowy trails? Ai, ai, ai, not with a baby.

Margot at Ruby Beach, WA | Yea Yea PuebloRuby Beach, WA | Yea Yea Pueblo

Ruby Beach, WA | Yea Yea Pueblo

Ruby Beach, WA | Yea Yea Pueblo

So, a day hike: the perfect solution for a young family. We chose Ruby Beach, because it was the closest in scenery to the Giants Graveyard, which is what we really wanted to see. Doing so meant we would have had to check tide charts and risk a rocky traverse across a receding shoreline with a baby in a day pack. I was particularly keen on seeing a foggy seascape, freckled with sea stacks– from a safe vantage point. Overly-cautious mom reigns in the adventure, again.

Visibility maxed out at one mile, so the highly-anticipated infinity horizon of the Pacific Ocean was a no-show.

Fog obscured the tree-tops while a cool, misty breeze reminded us that the ocean churned nearby. Driftwood and boulders, littered with Cairns, dotted the shoreline.

Ruby Beach, WA | Yea Yea Pueblo

From a wind-swept branch high above the cove, a bald eagle sat, calmly watching the shoreline (can you find him in the following photograph?).

Ruby Beach, WA | Yea Yea PuebloRuby Beach, WA | Yea Yea Pueblo

Landscapes like this are a dime a dozen along the Oregon and Washington Coast. For however long, or short we live in this region, the novelty of such beauty will never wear off.

Ruby Beach, WA | Yea Yea PuebloRuby Beach, WA | Yea Yea PuebloRuby Beach, WA | Yea Yea PuebloRuby Beach, WA | Yea Yea PuebloRuby Beach, WA | Yea Yea PuebloRuby Beach, WA | Yea Yea Pueblo Ruby Beach, WA | Yea Yea Pueblo