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Happy St Patrick’s Day

I wish you a hearty and healthy St Patrick’s Day!  I can’t help feeling proud of my heritage. 

Brandon on the Sky Road west coast of Ireland in County Galway back in 2001

Brandon on the Sky Road in Clifden on west coast of Ireland in County Galway back in 2001

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand. moved moved to a better neighborhood.  The old hood was getting run down and ruined.  Thanks to Bren for renting the moving truck and doing most of the heavy lifting.  Hopefully having fresh digs will encourage some of the residents to start posting again.  Although the ‘active’ ones have actual successful projects elsewhere to spend their time on.

Update:Upside-Down Tomatoes Failed

Hanging Tomato Plants Failed 007My upside-down tomato planter project that I wrote about in an earlier post ended up a complete failure! The two plants hardly grew in size and only one of them produced any tomatoes. And the tomatoes it produced were tiny and tasted terrible. I have no idea what went wrong. My hunch is that our Seattle summer just was not hot enough. Or maybe all those websites with pictures of huge upside-down tomato plants full of fruit are just frauds. :-)

MS Bike Tour 2007

Team Wilhite and Team CarlsenOnce again this years MS Bike Tour was an amazing event. Last weekend Kristin and I, along with about 1800 cyclists, pedaled 150 miles around Skagit, Whatcom, and Island counties on a two-day figure eight route that started and stopped in La Conner each day. It was definitely a challenging ride with a total of 7000 feet elevation gain. My legs are still sore and my seat isn’t sure when it wants to get back on the saddle again. But I wouldn’t trade the sore muscles or tired body for all the fun and sun and camaraderie that I experienced last weekend.

Combined Kristin and I raised over $4500 for the National MS Society. Our 28 member team Lyn’s Leggs raised $30,000. And so far the 2007 MS Bike Tour’s 1800 participants have raised over $1.2 million!
True colors busting out!
THANK YOU to all of you that sent support! These events are only successful because of your generosity. If you haven’t already given and would like to contribute, please do. Donations are being accepted for this event through October 19th.

Check out my photos from the weekend.

To donate visit my personal page

Click here to view the team page for Lyn’s Leggs

Thank you for your support!
-Brandon Wilhite

Baked My First Blackberry Pies

Blackberry Pie 026Sunday night I got a wild idea that I would go pick blackberries and bake a pie! Where did that Idea come from? Well, we had this great baking book and it’s blackberry season.

Kristin and I received a Baking Illustrated cook book as a wedding gift from some of Kristin’s cooking group friends. From what I understand Baking Illustrated is the holy grail of baking books. It was a very nice gift but, it has been almost three years since the wedding and neither one of us have attempted any of the recipes yet. Kristin is an amazing cook but, she is self-admittedly not a baker. I have heard it said that – cooking is an art, while baking is a science. In the back of my mind I would love to be able to bake. Not that I think the baking itself would be that fun but I love to eat the results. And hopefully I would learn to enjoy the work.

It is Blackberry season here in the Northwest right now. Blackberries grow like weeds everywhere. Most people think of blackberries as annoying sticker bushes that take over every untended piece of soil. And they are, but they also produce copious amounts of sweet berries.

studying how to bake a pieSo I set off from our apartment with my bowl in hand without really knowing where any blackberry bushes were. It didn’t take long to find them. Only half a block from our place is a little park that is overrun with blackberries. There were plenty to pick from. I filled my bowl in less then 20 minutes of foraging. I busted out the Baking Illustrated book and started reading. They do an amazing job of explaining the details of baking; what really is happening between the ingredients – and it really is a science. I found it very interesting. I made my store run to buy all my ingredients. Then I was off to the races washing berries, mixing dough, rolling out crust, mixing berries, and baking! It was a fun adventure and the results were a big success if I don’t say so myself.

Go bake a pie – it’s fun!

Bridges, Ferries, and Hills Oh My!

K and I biked to Gig on Sat. and back on Sun.I love biking in the Puget Sound area. With all the different bodies of water that surround Seattle – Lake Washington, Lake Union, the Ship Canal, and the Puget Sound – traveling almost always requires navigating around or over bodies of water. I am always trying to discover new biking routes. Road biking is all about the route. And navigating the waters always makes the bike route a little more interesting.

Last weekend Kristin and I biked to Gig Harbor. The ride included three ferry rides, one bridge crossing and many hills to climb. Her folks live in Gig Harbor so it makes for a great overnight biking destination – we can travel light not needed to bring any overnight gear with us.

Bike Route Seattle - Fauntleroy - Southworth - Gig HarborOur route took us in a big two day loop starting and ending in Seattle. Saturday we head South along the Seattle waterfront wrapping around the shoreline to Alki beach in West Seattle and then south to Fauntleroy where we caught a ferry across Puget Sound to Southworth near Port Orchard. From Port Orchard we pedaled South on scenic country roads down to Gig Harbor. If we actually got to quit at Gig Harbor it would have been a breeze but Kristin’s parent live just South of the Harbor on Wollochet Bay. Which means we had to make the wicked climb out of Gig Harbor. All the roads leading South out of Gig Harbor are some of the steepest roads I have ever biked.
Return Bike Route from Gig to SeattleSunday we left heading East from Gig Harbor across the old Tacoma Narrows Bridge – unfortunately the sidewalk on the new bridge is not open yet. Once across the Narrows we made the quick jaunt up to Point Defiance where took the short ferry ride to the South end of Vashon Island. Vashon Island was quiet, scenic and HILLY. The roads on Vashon have smooth wide shoulders. And the smaller shoulder-less roads are only lightly traveled. Drivers seem to really believe in the Share the Road signs we say all over the island. From the North end of Vashon we caught the ferry back to Fauntleroy in West Seattle and then backtracked along Alki and the Seattle waterfront on home.

Lasso Golf – this summers lawn game craze

Fathers Day Tacoma Gig Harbor 2007 054.jpgLasso Golf, also called ladder golf, is this summer’s lawn game craze. If you don’t have yourself a set yet then go get one. I can not remember having this much fun since Lawn Darts. You remember Lawn Darts don’t you? Those wonderfully dangerous flying plastic arrows with the sharp metal tips that you would through back and forth at your friends – I mean try to stick inside the hula hoop. Oh how many a backyard barbeque’s were stop short with 911 calls because someone got speared in the foot, leg or temple by a stray lawn dart?!

Fathers Day Tacoma Gig Harbor 2007 068.jpgNow enters the more safety focused Lasso Golf. The rules to Lasso Golf are similar to horseshoes, bocce ball or lawn darts for that matter. You setup two three-rung plastic ladders about 20 feet apart. Then you get points for getting your lasso – two golf balls tied to either end of a short piece of rope – to wrap around one of the rungs of the ladder. 3 points for the low rung, 2 points for the middle and 1 for the top. Fun game for all. Get yourself a set and invite the neighbors over for a bbq and have a good time challenging each other in lasso golf.

My New Ride – Vintage Schwinn Speedster

Vintage Schwinn SpeedsterThey just don’t make ‘em with this much style anymore. Yes I’m jumping on the vintage bike bandwagon. Just picked up an old Schwinn Speedster off Craigslist. I don’t know much about it yet but I going to learn. It definitely needs some loving. I’m sure just a little grease and some new treads and I’ll be looking like a champ pedaling around my neighborhood!

UPDATE: Just uploaded a video of me and the Speedster to YouTube – check it out.

My DIY Upside-Down Tomato Planter

My first Upside-Down Tomato PlantMonths back while stumbling around the interweb I happened upon the Topsy Turvy™ Upside-down Tomato Planter and thought – I have gots to get me some! How Cool is that?!?! Grow tomato plants upside down from a hanging basket! And perfect for us yard-less city dwellers to hang on our deck/patio/lanai.

In usual fashion I let time slip by and now I hear it is almost too late in the season to plant tomatoes. I have no idea if that is true or not because I have never planted anything in my life. But, what better time to start. I quickly googled ‘upside down tomato planter’ to find that about 60,000 other people are growing tomato plants in the abnormal direction. After scanning a couple articles I ran to Fred Meyer and picked up a couple tomato plants (a Tumbling Tom and a Window Box Roma), a couple 5 gallon buckets, some potting soil, and some hanging hardware and I was off.

After a few minutes – wahla! I’ve got a couple of my very own upside down tomato plants! Now bring on the summer sun and lets see if they produce any juicy red goodness! I’ll report on the progress later this summer.

Why Hide the Remote Control

our tv remote control boxIf your wife or mother or mother-in-law are like mine then they all share this strange belief that TV remote controls are hideous looking devices that should be kept hidden from plain view at all times. I say that is weird.

My mom hides them in the couch end table drawer. My mom-in-law hides them in a little wicker basket next to pops chair. And my wife tries to get me to put ours away in this black box on our end table. It drives me nuts!

For starters, why hide the remotes at all when your just going to turn around and dig them back out everyday? Of course I have made the same argument for why we don’t need to make the bed every morning – we’re just going to ‘unmake’ it again at night. But, I digress…

My second beef to pick is IF we are going to be forced/guilted/coerced into hiding our remote controls PLEASE please please don’t make it overly difficult to get to the hiding spot. As you can see from the picture above – getting to our remote control hiding place is almost always booby trapped with an assortment of decor trinkets.

And Kristin wonders why I never put the TV remotes back in their storage spot?! :-)