Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge : in June

Oregon Ash.

We’ve talked about seeing Oaks Bottom, a beautiful wildlife refuge just few blocks away form our home, every month and notice.

Notice how things change.  The plants, the trees, the sights, the smells, the water, the wildlife.  There is so much down there.

I’ll try to take my camera more often to record these changes.  This is what we noticed last month.

Red Elderberry.

Morning Glory.


Wild Rose.


Pacific Ninebark.

Black Hawthorn.


Cascara Buckthorn.


Wild rose.




Canada Geese.

Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge.

We are due our next hike and notice.

A different walk

Our walks have changed.

We look inside flowers more.

We wonder if this one could be one of our bees, or what that bee is doing? How does it move? How full her legs are with pollen?

Is it more than 3 miles away? I guess this little bee could be from one of our hives.  Would the honey taste like these flowers?

It’s fun to think if they are, and what and where our bees would like to visit for pollen and nectar.  A fun thing to keep in mind.

Song of the Builders

By Mary Oliver in her book Why I Wake Early I found this poem I really liked.  Like her other words, I’d like to share this with you.

Song of the Builders

On a summer morning

I sat down

on a hillside

to think about God–

a worthy pastime.

Near me, I saw

a single cricket;

it was moving the grains of the hillside

this way and that way.

How great was its energy,

how humble its effort.

Let us hope

it will always be like this,

each of us going on

in our inexplicable ways

building the universe.

Have a beautiful day.

:: 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.

Book Review :: Grow Cook Eat

I received a copy of Grow Cook Eat : A Food Lover’s Guide to Vegetable Gardening from the publisher.   Written by Willi Galloway  and published by Sasquatch Books.  I am loving it.

Do you see all these sticky notes?

It’s one of those books you can go through it, enjoy the photography (amazing! By Jim Henkens), open any page and learn something fun.  Either a new recipe or about a plant you might already have in your garden, or something new.   And I must confess I also love the feeling of the cover and the pages… it just feels good to hold in your hands, every way you look at it, I’m really enjoying it.

Do you see the type they used for the name of the plants?  I like it!  They used the same type for Willi’s name in the front cover too.  I find it friendly and playful, and personal.  I wish I had it to write maybe the heading of my blog, or the title of each post… it’s easy to read, and different.

Now… the content.  Did I mention the photography?  It is just gorgeous! (I’m going to come back to this, here in a minute.)

This is Mark and I 16 years ago, our first garden, in our first home.

We’ve been gardening for a while now (18 years, I think that’s a while, right?)  Not to say that we are master gardeners or anything close, but we’ve been doing it for a while, and learning as we go.  Always learning.

When we moved to the US after getting married in Chile (18 years ago), we rented an apartment here in Portland.  That first spring we found a dresser drawer from some furniture or something, and filled it up with dirt.  It was our first little garden, a garden box of sorts.  We planted radishes, arugula, and maybe something else (I don’t remember what else we had.  Maybe lettuce?)  It was a tiny apartment, and we didn’t really get ready for much more, and didn’t have the space or money to rent a plot.  We were young and newly wed, trying to figure out our new lives together, in a new country, with everything new.  A small box seemed to be the perfect first garden for that year. I hadn’t thought of our first garden probably since that year.  That’s funny.

For our second spring, we felt like we really wanted to get out in the dirt, so we started a garden in one of Mark’s co-worker’s house.  They had some land, and didn’t have a proper garden.  So we broke the ground for them, and planted a garden, with many rows, and many vegetables.  For us and for them. We fell in love with the dirt and those tiny plants growing.  It was lots of fun. I remember the huge zucchinis and cucumbers we ate that summer… I must have those pictures somewhere…  I’ll keep looking.

That was our second summer.  Then we found our own first home that autumn and were excited.  Now, we could have our own garden, right in our own back yard!  This photo above and here below are of our backyard.  We are getting rid of some of the grass, and turning into a garden.

We worked on it, made vegetable beds, dug out the grass and cleaned out garbage that was there from many, many years ago.  It turned out perfect.

We’ve changed the position of our beds in these 17 years of home and garden ownership.  And of course, the plants we’ve had have also changed, which makes it exciting every winter and spring to think of what we’ll have for the season.  Now there’s four of us to decide.  I like that.

Even though I received this book after we had planned and planted our garden this year, I want to try some of the recipes Willi shares.

I am excited.  Every time I see the book around the house (it’s been by my bedside for a long time, in the living room, on the coffee table, the floor next to the gardening magazines and library books, in the kitchen) it makes me want to get out and garden.  The colors, the photos, the plants, the recipes… all of it! It’s so inspiring.

So, yesterday I made pasta with Willi’s pesto.  Last time I made pesto was with the nettle we had just picked.  This time, was with basil from our garden.  It is so good!  I could eat it with everything.

Pine nuts, garlic, cheese, basil…. a beautiful mix.

The great folks at Sasquatch Books let me share the pesto recipe here with you, so here it is for you to try now:

Nona’s Pesto

3 plump garlic cloves, peeled

1/2 cup pine nuts

4 cups packed fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup packed finely grated parmesan (about 1 ounce)

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Sea salt

Pulse the garlic and pine nuts in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the basil and Parmesan and process into a smooth paste. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the blade running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Process until the oil is thoroughly incorporated and the pesto is smooth. Taste and add salt if desired.

To keep refrigerated pesto from turning black, lay plastic wrap coated with olive oil directly over it, and seal the container with a lid. It will keep for at least a week refrigerated and several months frozen. Bring it to room temperature and stir thoroughly before using. When using frozen pesto in pasta, thaw it and stir in 1 tablespoon pasta water before tossing with cooked pasta—this helps distribute pesto evenly.

The only problem I had was that I don’t have a food processor, so I used the blender, and it was harder to get it all mixed.  I had to scrape and mix with a spatula more often, and stop and mix.  And I ended up adding a little more olive oil than the recipe says, but I think it turned out really good anyways!  I’m definitely making it again, and see how it looks (and tastes) freezing it.

As you can see (from my sticky notes collection in the first pictures), I have lots of other recipes I want to try, and some tips and ideas for harvesting and using some of the plants we have in our garden.  Since our raspberries seem to be done producing for their first year, I was reading about how to trim them now.

And Willi also has some ideas for drying herbs for teas, and a sandwich that looks delicious!  Check out her book, I think you are really going to like it.   And have I said the photography is so amazing that it makes you almost smell the plants and the food?  It does!

A summer quilt : 100 % recycled

Back in May, when we had a couple of sunny days I decided ‘we needed’ a summer quilt.  Because you know, people ‘need’ different quilts for different rooms, beds, people and of course, for different seasons!

So when I looked at my shelf of fabric what drew to me (and well, I’ve been thinking about it for a long while) was linen.  I love linen. It says ‘summer’ to me like no other fabric.

So I got all my linen clothes I didn’t wear anymore, plus those that I had found thrifting and saw what I had.

Do you see those dark brown pants in the bottom of the pile here?  Well… I’ve been thinking about this quilt for a long time, so long, that I actually brought these linen pants I wore (out) in India last winter.  I know, crazy you might call me, but how could I not.  With so many stories, so many memories (and hot-hot, sweaty memories they are!) I had to bring them home for this quilt!

And just so I wouldn’t cause a battle with my husband over if I should bring these ripped pants back from India, in our too-full, too-heavy suitcases, I didn’t even tell him that these pants were no good anymore as pants.  But that they were the perfect piece of fabric for this quilt I was thinking of making.  I felt there was no need to add this information, to our already tight (in space) return home.  Right?

I first, disassembled all the pieces of clothes, and kept the good parts.

Cut them in strips and blocks of whatever length they were, but all the same width (I think it’s 9 inches wide).  Including buttons and all.

And sewed them together in longer strips.

And the pieces left I’m putting them in this little cushion-ottoman we bought in India. (It needs lots more pieces to fill it so I better get sewing!)

I found this flowery sheet at the thrift store for the backing.  100% cotton, very soft.

I made my sandwich with the batting (cotton) I bought.  I didn’t realized when I was sewing the pieces together, and adding the fabric (from old curtains I had made for our house when we first moved in 17 years ago) in between the strips, that it ended up so big.   It barely fit in the floor space we have in our art studio (the biggest open floor space in our house.)  The chairs helped to put it in place.

After sewing the edges, and turning it, I decided to put ties.  I wanted it quick.

And it’s done.  An easy summer quilt we can have outside.  I’ve always wanted to make a quilt with linen, and this was the perfect project for me right now.

I really like the natural colors.  I’m not sure yet, if I like the parts from shirts I left, like the buttons and the closings.  I’m going to have to think about that, but it’s not much.  Just a few small pieces that’s all.  I do like the pockets from the pants.  But it doesn’t really matter.  I love how it looks, how it feels, and that it has some stories to tell…. or at least to remind me.

Well? It’s finally done and it’s not raining.  And I feel even better knowing that it is 100% recycled (except the batting and the thread!)  Not bad I think.

Note: The truth is that it’s not all the way done.  You can see in the last photo I’m still missing the ties in the white strip and some of the other blocks… but it’s almost done, just few more minutes of work.  I just want it to be outside and to take a picture and post it before the summer was over!  Phew.  Have a month to spare.

The other ladies

Back in May I ordered live caterpillars to see them turn into butterflies.  We’ve done two other times before, few years ago, and I thought it would be fun to have them hatch, around Siena’s birthday, this year.

I had it all planned out.  But as it turns out, nature is not something you can plan.  And as you can see in this pictures above, the caterpillars we got, were very small.  We waited for two weeks (as they suggest) to see them grow and turn into chrysalids.  They didn’t. They never changed much.  So I called the place we got them from, and they replaced them, and we received few weeks later new, much bigger caterpillars.  But it was 3 weeks later, from my original plan.  It was OK. Just a different plan I guess.

This time, they were almost double the size from the first caterpillars we received, and we could see them walk around, eat the food (they came with), and soon, almost two weeks after we received them, they turned into amazing chrysalids.

We were heading to Idaho to visit family, and we had our friends chrysalid-sit for us.

They were lucky to have them when they turned into butterflies.  I am glad they got to see that.  I think it’s amazing.

When we returned, we had five beautiful painted ladies to see up close.

We watched them for few days, until we had a sunny day we felt they would enjoy to meet the real, natural world, and to let them go.

And of course, we invited our friends who chrysalid-watched for us while we were gone, to see them fly away with us.

And we let them go.

They left one by one.

And they checked out our plants.

And our dogwood.

And there was the last one that didn’t want to leave the ‘butterfly garden’ we had them in.

It was eating from the watermelon piece we gave them the day before.

And was hanging on to that.  We took it out carefully, in case it wanted to fly away.

But it didn’t.

It moved to the daisy in our garden.

I think, so we could watch it carefully, and up close.

So we did.

It hang out in our garden for a while, until it was ready to leave.

And then it left to see the world. Thank you painted ladies for letting us see a little more about butterflies.

Hope you can see some butterflies in your garden today.  Enjoy!