Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Easy Peasy Fudge


I think this was the first time I have made fudge. This recipe is so simple and so good. I can't hardly stay out of it. You can make this without the nuts.

3 cups of  semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick), cut into small pieces
1 cup chopped walnuts

Spray an 8x8 inch pan with cooking spray. Cut 2 pieces of wax or parchment paper long enough to extend outside the pan. Place them in the pan criss-crossed (this will create "handles" that make it easier to remove them form the pan).

Place the chocolate chips, condensed milk, and butter in a double boiler over a pan of shallow water on low heat. Melt the mixture, stirring occasionally.

Remove from the heat and stir in the nuts.

Pour into the prepared pan and refrigerate for 2 hours or more. Remove from the pan by gently lifting the handles of the wax paper. Cut into pieces with a sharp knife.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Elk Rock Garden at Bishop’s Close

The Elk Rock Garden at Bishop’s Close, Portland, Oregon

What a delightful treasure this was, hidden in a residential neighborhood! I had never heard of Elk Rock garden and stumbled across it on Trip Advisor. This was once a private garden owned by Scotland native Peter Kerr, who moved to Portland in the 1888. It is located in the Dunthorpe neighborhood and overlooks the Wilamette River. 

Kerr, along with his brother, owned and operated a grain business. They both lived in a cottage on this property until his brother married and moved. Kerr lived in the cottage until 1916 when he and his wife built a larger home. The garden was designed by John Olmsted, who also created Central Park in New York. The property was donated to the Episcopal Bishop of Oregon in 1957 under the condition that it be open to the public.

The 13-acre garden features an array of shrubs and trees and a large collection of magnolias. Gravel pathways surround a central grassy area. An elevated pathway takes you around the perimeter of the property and up a hillside with spectacular views of the river. It is a very peaceful garden, a great place for meditation. There wasn't anyone there the entire time we were there, not even an attendant.


The Elk Rock Garden at Bishop’s Close, Portland, Oregon

The Elk Rock Garden at Bishop’s Close, Portland, Oregon

The Elk Rock Garden at Bishop’s Close, Portland, Oregon

The Elk Rock Garden at Bishop’s Close, Portland, Oregon

The Elk Rock Garden at Bishop’s Close, Portland, Oregon

The Elk Rock Garden at Bishop’s Close, Portland, Oregon

The Elk Rock Garden at Bishop’s Close, Portland, Oregon

The Elk Rock Garden at Bishop’s Close, Portland, Oregon

The Elk Rock Garden at Bishop’s Close, Portland, Oregon

The Elk Rock Garden at Bishop’s Close, Portland, Oregon

The Elk Rock Garden at Bishop’s Close, Portland, Oregon

The Elk Rock Garden at Bishop’s Close, Portland, Oregon


Two tired travelers!


Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Revisiting Columbia River Gorge and Multnomah Falls

Columbia River Gorge, Portland, Oregon  
A major highlight of any visit to Portland would have to be the spectacular Columbia River Gorge and Multnomah Falls, just east of the city. My last trip to Portland was in June of 2013, a much sunnier and warmer trip than our recent visit. To see how it looked then, take a look at my post from last year. This time, the weather was rainy, dreary and very windy. Michael opted to stay in town since he has an aversion to heights so I went along with our friends from Alabama, Paul and Cindy and our tour guide, Rick. 

The wind was powerful along the upper cliffs but by the time we had wound our way down the mountain, it was not so bad below. Several train tracks run alongside the river and meander through the dense forest and cut their way through tunnels under the mountainside. 


Columbia River Gorge, Portland, Oregon

The trip to Multnomah Falls takes you by several other waterfalls that are spectacular in their own right. Multnomah is the biggie though. At 635 feet, it is the tallest waterfall in Oregon. It is widely mentioned that Multnomah is the fourth tallest waterfall in the U.S., but according to the World Waterfall Database, this is not true (there are a lot of larger waterfalls, many of them in the state of Washington. Whatever the statistics, it cannot be denied that Multnomah is a stunning waterfall to see.



Multnomah Falls, Portland, Oregon


Multnomah Falls, Portland, Oregon

Multnomah Falls, Portland, Oregon  


Multnomah Falls, Portland, Oregon

Multnomah Falls, Portland, Oregon



Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Pittock Mansion



Henry Lewis Pittock (1835-1919) was a prominent resident of Portland, Oregon, where he reestablished the struggling Oregonian and turned it into the state's preeminent newspapers. He was born in England and his family moved to the United States when Henry was four. At the age of seventeen, he and his brother headed west. According to legend, Pittock arrived in Portland in 1853, penniless and barefoot. He had worked in his father's print shop in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as a child and soon found a job in Portland as a typesetter at the Oregon Spectator. The newspaper owner, Thomas Dryer, was more interested in politics than the newspaper business and the publication was struggling to stay afloat. Pittock worked there for six months without salary - his only compensation being room and board, if you could call it that (his bed was a meager pallet located under the front counter.

When Dryer was given a political appointment by President Lincoln, he offered Pittock ownership of the newspaper for unpaid compensation. Pittock accepted and took over the business and all of its debts. He worked hard to turn the business around. He invested wisely in the latest printing equipment and began publishing the paper on a daily basis. In order to get new readers, he devised an elaborate pony express and stagecoach system that would deliver the news to Portland faster than the competing newspapers, who relied on the nearest telegraph line in California. 

Pittock married Georgiana Martin Burton in 1860. She was the daughter of a flour mill owner and her family had immigrated to Portland from Iowa six years earlier.

Pittock's business acumen paid off and The Oregonian became the state's most popular newspaper. He ventured out to expand his empire to include real estate, banking, railroads, steamboats, sheep ranching, silver mining, and the pulp and paper industry. Georgiana devoted her time to community service and help reach out to the city's women and needy children. The couple had five children of their own. They both loved the outdoors. Pittock claimed to be the first person to reach the top of Mount Hood and Georgiana loved gardening. She also organized the local Rose Society.

In 1909, near the end of their lives, they hired architect Edward Foulke to design their mansion which would overlook the city of Portland. The home was completed in 1914. It sits 1,000 feet above the city of Portland, the property encompassing 46 acres. The twenty-two room Renaissance revival mansion features a winding staircase and rooms and windows that take advantage of the stunning views. The home was equipped with the latest modern conveniences including a central vacuum system, intercoms and indirect lighting. Unique touches include a rounded Turkish smoking room and a complex hydraulic walk-in shower.

Sadly, the couple would only spend a few years living in the house. Georgiana died in 1918 at the age of 72, and Henry in 1919 at 84. The home remained in the family until 1958, when a grandson put it on the market. It sat empty for many years and a severe storm in 1962 did major damage to the roof and windows. The city of Portland purchased the property in 1964 and restored it to its former glory.



Pittock Mansion, Portland, Oregon

Pittock Mansion, Portland, Oregon

Pittock Mansion, Portland, Oregon

The home's furnishings are actually not original - they were donated by locals to decorate the rooms. Oddly, there were virtually no photographs of the home's interior while the Pittocks lived there.

Pittock Mansion, Portland, Oregon


Pittock Mansion, Portland, Oregon

The kitchen floor is a copy of the original which consisted of 8,000 interlocking puzzle pieces of rubber tile. The small display case (above) contains original tile pieces from the kitchen floor.  



Pittock Mansion, Portland, Oregon  


Pittock Mansion, Portland, Oregon  


Pittock Mansion, Portland, Oregon  
Although a large dining room was available for company, the family usually ate their meals in this small nook.

Pittock Mansion, Portland, Oregon

This is one of the original windows that was not damaged during the 1962 storm.

Pittock Mansion, Portland, Oregon  


Pittock Mansion, Portland, Oregon



Pittock Mansion, Portland, Oregon  


Pittock Mansion, Portland, Oregon
Pittock Mansion, Portland, Oregon  
This is the view from the bluff overlooking Portland. It was very cloudy the day we were there but you get the idea.

Pittock Mansion, Portland, Oregon  
The grounds surrounding the home are just as impressive as the house itself. Henry Pittock created miles of trails around the property which are still used today.

Pittock Mansion, Portland, Oregon  


Pittock Mansion, Portland, Oregon
Pittock Mansion, Portland, Oregon

Pittock Mansion, Portland, Oregon  
Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Portland

`Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Portland, Oregon

The Tom McCall Waterfront Park (named for a former Oregon governor), stretches along the western side of the Willamette River. At the southern tip is a harbor, restaurants (we ate at a good seafood restaurant here) and an amazing garden filled with ornamental grasses and other plants. This is where these photographs were taken.

If you head north, you approach a walking area (you can see it in the bottom photograph, next to the seafood restaurant), that extends all the way up to Naito Parkway and the downtown area where our condo was located. This area is popular with joggers, bikers, people walking their pets, etc. The space was once a freeway. It was torn down in 1975 and this park was created. It opened to the public in 1978.


Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Portland, Oregon

Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Portland, Oregon

Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Portland, Oregon

Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Portland, Oregon

Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Portland, Oregon

Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Portland, Oregon

Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Portland, Oregon

Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Portland, Oregon

Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Portland, Oregon
Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy