Making : keeping our calendula

I’ve mentioned before that as we are cleaning up our garden, we are using and trying to save all the calendula flowers we can.  We don’t want to pull them all, and I don’t think we can.  The seeds spread so easily, that there’s more coming up all the time.   And we transplanted some to the front yard, hoping they can spread all they want there, and we can have more calendula all the time.

Right now the vegetable garden seems much smaller than before, and we need the space.  So we are pulling the plants we need the space from, but those that we can leave, we are picking the blooms and enjoying them.  I love that deep orange color.

We’ve made a calendula salve from this book already. This one is made with fresh flowers, and we are really enjoying the salve, and have shared it with friends.  Now,  we’d  like to try different recipes and other ways to preserve the flowers.

So we are drying the whole flowers.  We cut through the first set of leaves with scissors or clippers, and then we trim them to just leave the top.  We set them on screen windows to dry.  With our cooler days here in Portland it seems that they’ve been taking a long time.  But we’ve let them dry for few days like this, laying flat.  Then we put them in paper bags, shaking them every day to make sure they are drying.

Others, we are pulling the stems.

We are left with these beautiful tiny bouquet.

And a bag of petals, ready to be dried.

Once the petals have been dried, we put them in jars. About 3/4 full, and then cover them with olive oil, with a little over an inch of oil on top of the petals to preserve them better, they say.

The petals float and have this beautiful color against the sunset…

They look so pretty…. I think.  Now, they are sitting on our kitchen windowsill. Catching the sunlight when we have it, keeping a little warmer, when they can. We shake them, give them a twirl every day, and we’ll see what they make in a couple more weeks.

For now, we are waiting and thinking what we’ll make next with them.

I call it home

When we were in India last fall, I made a video of Oregon.  I had taken pictures of downtown, of our home and our friends, and took them with us as well as other photos from our camping and hiking trips.  Photos I have and usually take.

When we shared our video with the students, teachers and friends, we realized that the video was mostly about nature.  A lot of the students were surprised we didn’t share more of the ‘city life.’  We are not really ‘city people.’  We live in the city, and we do enjoy what the city has to offer, but we pick and choose.

We are pretty boring by some people’s standards, but we enjoy our days.  We like them mellow, and we like them filled with family time.

We’d much rather stay at home together, play a card game or parcheese, read a book, maybe watch a movie snuggled up in our bed, than going out by ourselves and have Siena and Lucas stay with our friends.

Maybe it’s the rain and long winters (or springs that look like winter) that keeps us tight.

But we like it like this.  We like being out of doors.

For a hike, counting critters, camping, planting, playing, or anything else that can come up.

Rain doesn’t usually keep us from going out and doing our things. You can’t if you live in Portland.  There’s always a chance of rain, no matter the time of the year.  And I love that.  It’s what keeps everything green.

Filled with diversity.

This is what I call home.

It’s not the home where I grew up.  It’s the home where I have my own family now.  I’ll never be a ‘local.’  I’m actually far from being called a local. But this is where I belong now.

It’s the place where Mark and I decided it was the best place to start our family.  It’s the home where we live as a family.  Where we are raising our children.  Where we do our day-to-day things, where we have a house, grow our own vegetables, have our friends, and volunteer.  It’s the home where we laugh, learn and make memories, each day.


This is home.

This World

This World

I would like to write a poem about the world that has in it nothing fancy.

But it seems impossible.

Whatever the subject, the morning sun

glimmers it.

The tulip feels the heat and flaps its petals open

and becomes a star.

The ants bore into the peony bud and there is the dark

pinprick well of sweetness.

As for the stones in the beach, forget it.

Each one could be set in gold.

So I tried with my eyes shut, but of course, the birds

were singing.

And the aspen trees were shaking the sweetest music

out of their leaves.

And that was followed by, guess what, a momentous and

beautiful silence

as comes to all of us, in little earfuls, if we’re not too

hurried to hear it.

As for spiders, how the dew hangs in their webs

even if they say nothing, or seem to say nothing.

So fancy is the world, who knows, maybe they sing.

So fancy is the world, who know, maybe the stars sing too,

and the ants, and the peonies, and the warm stones,

so happy to be where they are, on the beach, instead of being

locked up in gold.

— Mary Oliver from Why I Wake Early.

Spring is here



It is spring in Portland.  With all its colors, and sights, and the sunshine and rain dance.  I do love this time of the year.


Potatoes in our new bed, already growing.

Foxglove ready to bloom.







And you can see there’s more coming!  What a beautiful place this is.

:: this moment ::

A beautiful and fun Friday ritual. Inspired by SouleMama.

{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. – Amanda Soule

If you’d like to leave a comment and a link to your moment, we would love to see it. Have a beautiful day.

Making : calendula salve

We’ve started cleaning our garden, to get it ready to plant and transplant all the seeds that Siena has started.

As every year, our calendula plants are spread all over our vegetable garden, and they look beautiful! I love seeing them in the winter, with their greens so strong, ready to flower as soon as they can.

We’ve never done anything with them but admire them and place them in vases for some fresh cut flowers to enjoy throughout our house.  But I checked out this book from the library a while ago and found a recipe for calendula salve I thought we’d try.  The Essential Herbal for Natural Health by Holly Bellebuono is a great book.  So good! Lucas and Siena gave it to me for Mother’s Day, I’m so excited to have it on hand now whenever we need it.

With Siena’s love for making all things at home, especially with wild plants, didn’t take us long to get started.

Mix equal parts of fresh calendula flowers and olive oil.  Warm on stove in very low heat for about 20 minutes.

Pass through the colander to keep the liquid without the flowers.

Put it back on the stove on low heat to melt some beeswax with it.

Let it cool a little.  Pour it onto a jar and enjoy!  My hands have felt better since we made it, they’ve been very dry.  I love how it feels.  Siena does too.  We are enjoying our salve, and Siena has a little travel size for her days out. Mmm, so good.  Look at the color!  If I could only smell…

Seeing that our calendula is flowering like crazy, with our rain and sunshine, and also some requests from Siena, I’m looking for more salves or good things to make with calendula.

I’ve also read that is better to use dried flowers instead of fresh, because they tend to get moldy quicker.  So we are drying some flowers and some petals as well, separate, to give it a try on different recipes.

I’ve found these recipes too that we’d like to try:

Oh… we are having so much fun.

Am I ready for a change?

These past few weeks we’ve been remodeling Siena and Lucas’s playhouse.  No longer called such, now it’s a ClubHouse.

With sadness I saw their play kitchen go (which was OK to hand over to someone else to enjoy), but seeing them grow up from that very special piece of furniture that stayed in our kitchen for many years, and then moved to the playhouse for more cooking, was hard to let go.

We saw many soups and pancakes, teas, and coffee, and more foods being prepared in this tiny kitchen.  Siena especially, would cook right next to us for so many hours.  It seems that she was always playing with it.  Then moved to the playhouse for more cooking, mud soups and bark chips snacks and flower coffee or tea.  Lots more playing.

As they were cleaning up the playhouse, they said they don’t use it anymore.  Siena much too tall for it.  Lucas a little bit too.

I realized it was me who didn’t want to let it go.  Siena and Lucas were ready for a new place.  They want this new space to be something they can use, right now.   Most of the larger cooking utensils and equipment have moved out, and now the floor is filled with pillows, cards, quilts, and some crafting supplies.

Not bad at all, just different.  And I wonder if I am ready for this change.  It’s a very visual sign that two of my most precious people are growing.  Growing up right in front of me.  I don’t really see this in our day-to-day things (except in the shortening of their pants.)

I do try to really pay attention, and notice how they are changing, learning new things, and just how big they’ve gotten.  But this change, from playhouse to clubhouse is a visual, clear sign that they are growing up into what they are right now.  Sigh.  A very beautiful sigh!

It reminds me to hug them just one more time, a little tighter, a little longer.  Give them one more kiss.  Say I love you one more time.

So from a kitchen centered playhouse, it’s changed to a playing and hanging out clubhouse.

It makes me happy to see them hanging out there.  Magazines on hand.  Craft supplies or playing cards.  It makes me happy that the decorations are mostly hand made by them and their friends.  That they’ve asked to put a mason bee hive on the outside of their clubhouse.  And that their Clubhouse House Warming Party was focused on being ecological and Earth-caring.

Here are some pictures of Siena’s first planned and organized, all by herself, party.  With Lucas’s help when needed, of course.

There was the getting ready for the party.

Siena invented a new game called Pick the Trash.

Very similar to Pin the Tail, but with a different theme.

There were decorations hung.

There was waiting.

Until friends were coming around the corner.

They were welcomed with a shower of flower petals confetti.

Visited the new Clubhouse (sorry, but I can’t disclose the location.)

Had snacks.

Played games.

Picked Up Trash’.

Blind folded.

By placing a piece of grass as close as you could to any of the trash drawn on the paper.  (I know she’s my daughter (and well, it’s also my blog, so I’ll go ahead and say it) I love the creativity and the fun game she came up with!

And then the club members drew on pieces of (recycled) cotton fabrics (old sheet cut and sewn with a loop) to hang for prayer flags for the new Clubhouse.

It was a super fun party and we all had fun.

To a life full of changes. I think I am ready for this one!  Have a fun day.


I have Poppies in my garden.  I’ve always admired these beautiful plants.  The flowers seem so delicate, paper-like.  I’ve taken lots of pictures of them but never before I’ve had them in my own garden to admire.

I’ve bought lots of cards with paintings and drawings of poppies. Look at this page, full of beautiful poppy-art.   And Claude Monet’s Poppy Field. Van Gogh Poppies.  And of course, I think my favorite painting, Georgia O’Keeffe‘s Oriental Poppies, and the other ones.  Included the stamp that came out a long time ago with her painting.

Siena and Mark came home one day two springs ago with a plant of poppies.  So we put it in the front yard, right next to the window to admire.

And this spring… look at what we witnessed:

I shared other photos on Friday too, I love them.  We’ve been enjoying the blooms, the colors, the smell, the bees coming to visit them, watching these plants daily, even few times a day to admire their beauty.  Such a beautiful plant.  I hope we’ll be able to enjoy them more springs to come.

:: right now ::

What a couple of weeks we’ve had. It’s been so much fun.  I am:

:: loving the change in the days, from rain to sun, clouds moving so fast on top of us.  I don’t mind as much the rain still, and I’m loving when the sun comes out.  It is Portland after all!

:: watching the moon, and its cycle.  I want to get one of these calendars.

:: trying to figure out how to put this calendar on the side bar of my page.  Does anybody know how I can do this on wordpress?

:: trying very hard to stay in the present.

:: loving seeing Lucas so immersed in baseball, and his new experiences in a team, learning so many things in so many levels.

:: enjoying seeing Lucas with our good friend, share their love for baseball.  Lucas looks up to him and enjoys his company and baseball playing every time.

:: loving seeing Siena loving swimming so much as well.  So much she loves it that she enjoys the “pool smell”…

:: loving seeing Siena so excited coming back from her daily check of her greenhouse, and update on how big her plants are, which seeds are sprouting and which ones are not.

:: trying to remember Siena’s face when coming from her said visit to her greenhouse. What a face. These moments, are certainly beautiful.  I want to stay in the moment.

:: seeing all the playing and talking about bees with friends and neighbors as well.

:: trying to figure out what our days ‘should’ look like, to make everyone comfortable and meeting everyone’s needs.  If I stay in the moment, it’s enjoyable.

:: enjoying every non-rainny moment to play outside, garden, eat lunch and dinner out of doors.

:: excited to see that our local Farmer’s Market has started.  A sign of spring for sure!

:: loving seeing Lucas be so ready for his games, so excited and passionate.

:: enjoying new friendships.

:: happy to see that our new bees are staying in their new home.

:: reminiscing our great time at Cirque du Soleil, Ovo.

:: enjoying seeing Siena and Lucas remodel our playhouse into what they want right now.  Perfect!

:: hearing all their plans for their new, remodeled space, with dreams of staying and keeping it forever even as Mamá and Papá get old.  So fun!

:: loving our new (almost can’t hear it) dishwasher.

:: even loving more the man I live with who hooked it up. Thank you so much!!!

:: glad we could help our friends to get ready for their move.  (Hopefully closer to us!)

:: enjoying hanging out outside and having fires for no other reason than having one to warm up and hang out.

:: looking forward to drying and making fun things with the wild plants we picked yesterday (more on this later.)

:: I am so happy of having had a complete ‘wild salad’ last night, from the plants we harvested on our hike yesterday.

Have a great start of your week.