Hiking Cedar Creek Falls

On Saturday, seven of us tackled the Cedar Creek Falls (aka Devil’s Punchbowl) hike in the Cleveland National Forest outside of Julian. At just 4.5 miles round-trip it was relatively easy, yet the waterfall made it one of our most rewarding San Diego hikes so far!

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From SR-79 in Julian we took Pine Hills Road to Eagle Creek Road, the last 8 or 10 miles of which were unpaved. The way in was okay but on the way home our Prius struggled to gain traction up the steep gravel road. All but the driver had to get out of the car and give it a head start at the base of the hill. It’s the best car ever, except about once a month when we’d love to have an SUV for adventures like this. Anyway, the trailhead was easy to spot with many cars already there — not a surprise, as we arrived after 11am.

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Since it’s February the temps were safely in the 70s/80s and the vegetation was relatively green. I wouldn’t want to come here in the summer:

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The trail starts on a ridge and descends into a valley. It’s well marked and easy to follow. We crossed Cedar Creek a few times toward the bottom. Rainfall has been below average this winter — still flowing water, but also plenty of dry stones for our crossing.

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After just over two miles of descent we reached the beautiful waterfall!

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There were lots of other hikers enjoying snacks on the rocks with their boots off, and dogs ran around shaking water from their fur. Several people had braved the icy water to take a dip in the swimming hole. K and R were even bold enough to jump in from the rocks above. I’d love to try it another time… maybe!

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I really enjoyed the group we came with — everyone had a compatible fitness level and we had some great conversations that ranged from boxing fighter strategy to novel feminine hygiene products to the morality of the death penalty and reliability of our justice system. Cheers to friends who have a million interests and who I can learn from every day!

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The hike back up obviously took more effort than the way down, but there weren’t any difficult or tricky parts. Someone mentioned cheeseburgers and there was no ignoring the hunger after that (don’t you hate when that happens!) so we stopped at a bar in El Cajon for food and a celebratory beer on the way home.

We are so fortunate to live in such a beautiful part of the world — not only gorgeous places to explore, but hot sunny weather in February! I don’t ever want to take it for granted!

Quiet holiday

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Monday was one of my favorite kinds of days — no work, no plans, lots of sunshine. Yoga set the tone for the morning, followed by a bagel, coffee, and a good book. All day long a savory barbecue aroma wafted from the kitchen thanks to babyback ribs in the slow cooker. After nearly a year on the balcony, our dwarf Meyer lemon tree yielded its very first edible fruit! I crocheted a few rows of blanket and caught up on some emails. My new food processor made an outstanding debut with homemade hummus, and I even took the extra effort to shell the chickpeas for a velvety smooth texture. After a long walk along the bayfront at sunset I shared a delicious meal with Dan when he got home. Sigh… I really could get used to this kind of day. Hope your day was lovely as well, holiday or not.

Meal plan 02.18.13

Due to a fun and busy weekend I didn’t post my menu plan on Friday as usual, so this one covers a few days less than normal.

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(images from recipes linked below)

I’m most intrigued by the slow cooker ribs. Can they really be good compared to restaurants that have big smokers and fancy equipment? We shall see!

Baby gift: dress, bloomers, headband

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One of my closest friends had a beautiful baby girl last month! When she announced her pregnancy I knew I wanted to make a gift by hand for an extra special treat. This dress has been done since October but I didn’t want to reveal it until after the baby was born.

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I chose New Look 6168, but decided to omit the applique and add a full lining. The dress fabric is a zigzag print cotton and the lining is a dotted red cotton, both from the Jo-Ann Fabrics kids section.

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It’s a sleeveless A-line dress with an invisible zip closure and matching diaper cover. I made it in size Medium, which I’m guessing means about 6-9 months, so the baby can wear it this summer. If it fits her sooner though, I bet it’d be cute over a long-sleeve onesie and tights.

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The finishing touches turned out really well. I learned a new clean finish bodice lining technique and used matching red bias binding to finish the hem. Hopefully these details not only look nice, but also help keep the dress in good shape for many years.

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The final part of the gift was based on this pleated headband tutorial. It took only a few minutes to make and I had the buttons and elastic already on hand. I totally guessed about the size, so hopefully it’ll fit!

Congratulations to my friend and her husband, and best wishes for the new parent adjustment period. Can’t wait to see pictures of baby girl all dressed up!

Raisin bran buttermilk muffins

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If you ever enjoyed raisin bran cereal for breakfast (and even if you didn’t!) you’ll love these muffins. As a kid I loved them so much that my mom regularly threatened I was going to turn into one. She must have been equally horrified and amused to watch her otherwise healthy 10-year-old taking down six of these at a time. Now I only eat three or so at a time, so that’s okay, right?

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Raisin Bran Muffin Recipe (makes 5-6 dozen [yeah that’s a lot])

  • 15 oz raisin bran cereal
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 5 cups flour
  • 5 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup veg/canola oil
  • 1 quart buttermilk

In your largest bowl, stir together all dry ingredients. Stir in all wet ingredients until mixed well. Batter will be relatively runny. You can bake the muffins right away, or keep the batter in the fridge for a while. They’ll be puffier and taller if you’ve waited a few days.

To make ahead: Store in covered container and use as desired throughout the week, keeping refrigerated. Dough swells, so use a larger container than you’d think.

When ready to bake: Preheat oven to 400F. Line muffin tins with baking cups or use baking spray. Fill each cup about 2/3rds full. Make sure there are raisins in each muffin! Bake 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Blanket in progress

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After the questionable success of my first crochet project, I wanted to try something that didn’t require fitting. I was tempted by a truly lovely photo of this ripple blanket pattern floating around the internet. So I looked up a few tutorials and youtube videos for double crochet, practiced increasing/decreasing on some scrap yarn, and then got to work. It’s going to be a baby blanket — I don’t know yet who will receive it but as I said, there are babies everywhere these days!

Meal plan 02.08.13

That broiled grapefruit from last week was really delicious! The sweet warm fruit with tart creamy yogurt and crunchy granola was a perfect combination. Like awkward little kids, though, we both had trouble eating the grapefruit. As in, separating the fruit bits from the membranes. Silly, eh? I will make it again, but section it first.

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Dan’s traveling for business this coming week so I get to make some things I love that he’s not as fond of. Small consolation though — I miss him during these trips. Sigh… Anyway, here’s this week’s meal plan:

  • Friday: Leftover chicken burrito with pineapple avocado salsa
  • Saturday: Out and about
  • Sunday: My parents’ stovetop BBQ chicken with new potatoes
  • Monday: I’m invited as a friend’s plus-one to a Yelp Elite event!
  • Tuesday: Pasta with roasted asparagus tomato caper sauce
  • Wednesday: Leftovers (getting home late)
  • Thursday: Enchiladas

Happy Valentine’s week by the way! We don’t usually celebrate it so I’m not especially sad we won’t be together for the holiday. But maybe I’ll use it as an excuse to bake something sweet just for me. That’s fair, right?