Vancouver, BC : Lighthouse Park


On one of the days we were in Vancouver, when it was sunny, we decided to go for a little hike to the Lighthouse Park, right across the beautiful Lion’s Gate Bridge, in the north shore of Vancouver.

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It was a fun and beautiful hike.

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Oh the view…

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And we sat there for a while, talking, laughing, noticing, breathing.

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And boats…. so large coming through… a reminder it’s the ocean.  And back there? Do you see that volcano? I think that’s Mt. Rainier.  All the way from here…

DSC_0845-smallThis is the view towards Vancouver.  You can see the Lion’s Gate Bridge we crossed coming this way.

DSC_0846-small DSC_0847-small DSC_0849-small DSC_0850-small DSC_0873-smallAs we are leaving, we heard and then saw this pileated woodpecker. So beautiful! Look.



Making : With stinging nettle + some sort of tutorial

I wrote about when we went to pick the stinging nettle a couple of weeks ago, but now I have the pictures of what we made with all of it.


1- I blanched the nettle and just chopped it in small pieces and froze it in ice cube trays.  After they were frozen, 12 hours or so, I placed them in a bag.  I like to use these in soups, or stews, sauces and meatloaves, or any other way I can add a little boost to our meals.



2- After blanching it, I also made pesto.  I made pesto last year and we finished it all.  Now we have some more!

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I followed Langdon Cook’s recipe from Fat of the Land.DSC_0211-smallAnd yes, as he says in his post, I ended up using a food processor.  We have a small one, so I had to do it in half batches, but it ended up great and smooth.  And well, I had no choice, since I burned the motor of my blender half way my first batch!

3- And third. The last of my attempts to keep the nettle is by drying it.


We had lots to be dried and it was hard.  The day we picked the nettle was pouring raining, and so were the days following.  So I was a little concerned as to where to out them to dry.  But we made do.  And they took about a week to dry.  But it worked.

I picked the leaves by hand (they still sting a little, mostly the stems, but not too bad, I don’t think) and placed them whole in glass jars with lids to keep fresh.


I also picked the leaves and chopped them up and my food processor, that way they use up less space in the jar. Not sure I find a difference when I make tea, but if they are small like this, I can also it in sauces and other foods, when I run out of the frozen cubes.  But it is mostly about saving space.

4- This one os for the future.  After blanching the nettle, it leaves this beautiful dark color water.


It has to be good for something, right? Oh… I was sad to send it down the drain, but with all the nettle around, and just rain in sight, I just couldn’t take the time to figure out what to do.  I want to read more about it, and see if there’s something I can use this beautiful, dark, rich left over water.  Do you have suggestions?

Aaaahhhh… I feel so good of our bigger stash of stinging nettle this year.  I’m excited and glad we’ll have for more of our winter.

Critter Count 2013


Once again this April, we went to Critter Count.


An event organized by the City of Vancouver (Washington) at the Water Resources Center.



It was a little chilly, but we went with friends this time, and it was fun.


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We saw some critters, but I think it was much less than other years.

DSC_0178-smallNorthwest Salamander.

DSC_0176-smallBullfrog tadpole.

DSC_0174-smallLong-toed Salamander.

DSC_0171-smallNorthwest Salamander.

DSC_0185-small DSC_0188-smallRed-legged Frog.

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As always, it was great to be out there looking, measuring and counting

4th Homeschool Science Fair


Last week we had our fourth science fair. I’ve organized it every year in the spring, and we have more kids and more experiments, and new families each time.


I wrote a post last week about the experiments Siena and Lucas did.


Everybody helps to make it work.  I send an email a couple of months ahead of time and see which families will be interested in participating.  Then I start the planning.  Finding a date that we can use the space and that works for most families… but with that much time in advance, it’s hard to know for certain.

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Lucas brought paper, tape, the golf balls and a container and filled it with water so people could try making their own boats and seeing how many balls it would hold before sinking.

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It was fun seeing everybody’s designs and strategies.



The kids stay at their poster for the first half an hour (after they’ve eaten some of the great foods and snacks we all bring to share) and the adults, and whoever didn’t do a poster can visit and go around seeing everyone’s posters and experiments.

DSC_0061-small DSC_0067-small DSC_0068-small DSC_0071-small DSC_0074-small DSC_0080-small DSC_0084-small DSC_0088-smallI made certificates for everyone.

DSC_0091-smallThese are all the kids who participated with an experiment and had a poster to share.  So cool!

DSC_0099-smallAnd as some of us are cleaning up and getting ready to leave, there are still some of us making just one more boat to see how many golf balls it would hold…

A fun evening indeed.  Thanks everyone!



Vancouver, BC : Gastown + Art



Gastown in downtown.


DSC_0576-smallIf you are visiting touristy places, it’s good to see the Hop On Hop Off Trolley again.


Gassy Jack Deighton, a seaman that arrived here to open the first saloon in the area, when this was the downtown. 

DSC_0532-smallI love this building.


And the cobblestones, and the old buildings.



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Then we headed to the Steam Clock.

DSC_0546-smallWe ran to see it at 4:45 pm.  It was originally built to harness the steam coming from Vancouver’s steam heating system, and prevent people sleeping on top of the grate.

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It is the most famous thing to visit in Gastown, but not the oldest, since it was built in 1977 by Raymond Saunders.

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Then we went to an art gallery because it looked so beautiful from outside.

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Beautiful Native American, well First Nations’ art. Beautiful!

DSC_0566-small DSC_0567-small DSC_0578-smallThen we watched an artist do a drawing, but ended up  not being a friendly man at all…


But the day was beautiful and glad we got to see the Steam Clock once again at the hour.  I’d recommend doing that.  Plan your trip so you can hear it at the hour… hopefully later or earlier than 1 or 2 pm (or am, I guess!) so you can hear more of it.

DSC_0575-smallHere it is.  Enjoy.


:: right now ::

It is already closer to May, than I have realized. I can’t believe how the days go by, even as I try to slow down as much as I can.  And making sure I remember what was happening during the days. I don’t want them to slip by so quick.  There’s so much going on, so much happening. Right now I am:

:: feeling the days are definitely getting longer.

:: and warmer, though it’s cold in the evenings, and the hale that happens once in while, reminds me that we are not all the way there yet…

:: loving the colors our flowering dogwood brings. Outside and inside the house.  It is such a big tree, it irradiates warmth all day long, especially when it’s sunny.  I love having it by our kitchen window.


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:: excited to have a great friend with Lucas playing in his team.


:: feeling spring.

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:: cleaning and washing, and trying to get the little warmth from the sun to bring indoors.

:: excited to see Siena excited about planting.  She set up the greenhouse with Mark. They are getting ready.


:: still enjoying my visits with friends last weekend. Three visits, four friends, two days. A fun weekend.  We don’t get to hang out much, our days are filled with our lives and families, I think.  But it’s always great to see them.

:: still laughing at the conversation I had on the phone on the weekend with a little friend.  He calls. “Hi.” Me: “Hi. How are you?” He says:”Good. Can I come and stay overnight this weekend?” Me:”Mmm, let me see… (pause, thinking of our huge to do list and what else we were planning and had talked about doing in the next two days)… yeah, I think it will be OK, actually yes! it would be fun to have you (as I’m looking at Siena’s and Lucas’s huge smiles and saying yes please!)” He says:”OK, let me check with my mom…”

:: smiling at how tired my two little people were from a marathon of running and games inside, and outside, and more running, and sleep over, movie, and fun-filled weekend.

:: waiting for my Mother’s Day clematis to bloom.  She’s almost ready!


:: sad to see everyone missing our kitty, especially when Siena and Lucas used to cuddle with him and pet him, when they had a hard day or something difficult.  But glad to have had the 18 years of memories, with him in our home and family.  We miss him though.  Lots!

DSC_0211-small And this plant reminds us of him.

:: really enjoying Sarah’s post over at Simple Homeschool.  My best dozen pieces of homeschool advice. I really liked what she wrote and it reminds me to dig a little deeper at times when the day gets harder.  Because you know, sometimes it does.

:: enjoying and laughing every time our doggy little friend comes to visit.  Even if it is 30 minutes!DSC_0106-small DSC_0113-small DSC_0114-small

:: thinking I need an easy, social knitting project I can do in the weeks to come, while I can also be talking and paying attention to other people and watching over swimming meets and baseball games.  My fingers are itching for some spring knitting… I need to find something soon, from my stash and my long list of would-like-to-make-projects.  I know I can find something.  I’ll do that today.

:: doing what Heather from Beauty that Moves is doing. A Chai concentrate, so I can just make it easier during the week.


:: loving all the playing I’ve seen in the backyard.  Some more conventional than others.

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:: seeing things pop here and there.


:: glad we got to spend some time with Glendie.  Talking, sharing meals, picking nettle, playing games… we open our new expansion Ticket to Ride while she was here. Ticket to Ride India.  It was fun to talk and remember her trip to see us in India last year (OK, over a year ago… time is flying by.)


:: happy we got to celebrate her birthday (though 4 months later!) and Christmas too!

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:: and she also brought these balls… slippery, that grow with water they say, up to 200 times their size or something like that.

DSC_0113-smallThey are tiny, the size of the head of a pin.  And after a while, minutes they start to grow and show these smaller spheres inside them…

DSC_0104-smalllots of fun.

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:: excited, waiting for some great friends traveling from far, far away and staying at our place for much time and many meals together.

:: thinking we’ll probably spend many hours re-living our days and travels together in India.  Oh, how fun!  Can’t wait.

Vancouver, BC : Stanley Park + Totem Poles

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Coming from the the north part of Vancouver, you cross this beautiful bridge to get to Stanley Park.

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With a view of downtown Vancouver… it was incredible.

DSC_0458-small DSC_0459-small DSC_0461-small DSC_0462-smallWe see these same Canada Geese crossing over our heads at home.  I wonder if this goose, has been to “our park.”

DSC_0463-smallSaw a cricket field.  It reminded us of India.

DSC_0464-small DSC_0465-smallAnd then you walk to the area where there are these beautiful Totem Poles.  We had seen one totem pole before, in Seattle. But I think now, since we’ve studied them, for some reason they are even more incredible and amazing to see in person.  DSC_0467-small DSC_0470-small DSC_0475-small DSC_0482-small

I think also, having so many of them in one place.





DSC_0503-smallThunderbird House Post.  This one is done to support the large roof beams in the cedar houses.  This is a replica from the original done in the early 1900’s from a Kwakwaka’wakw artist. With the thunderbird on top and a grizzly bear holding a human in the bottom.


DSC_0530-small“Each carving in each pole has a meaning… ”


Photo by Siena.
Photo by Lucas.


DSC_0533-small DSC_0535-small DSC_0546-smallAll the details… the work, the many hours of work.  Now a days, probably a little easier to get the tree, but back then? All the cutting and transporting of the pole done by hand, only with the strength of the men helping.



How much meaning it has. All the stories that they tell.

DSC_0549-smallWe stood for a while watching.  Looking at each one, reading about them, reading their story.

DSC_0550-small DSC_0553-small DSC_0554-smallWith a beautiful day over us, we walked back,

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DSC_0570-small DSC_0576-smallOh those mountains… I love it that you can see them from pretty much anywhere.  They are beautiful.


DSC_0819-small DSC_0820-smallEven from the bridge on the way back. But I’m leaving this day with the picture in my mind…

Photo by Siena.
Photo by Siena.

Beautiful art and amazing history.


The bees’s remodel : Part 2 or is it Portlandia?

So the next day, after Mark had added the two new boxes to our Warre hive, while we were gone, the bees swarmed.

DSC_0208-small DSC_0210-smallAnd with the beautiful, blooming doogwood right there, I would not have gone far either.

DSC_0214-small DSC_0215-small DSC_0216-smallI just love the contrast, the colors, the warmth, the life-ness of it all, right there.


We were getting ready to leave for dinner at some friends’ house, but we had to deal with this bee emergency. Well, it became an emergency when we thought maybe the bees had left their new remodeled, larger home.  And we didn’t want them going too far.  So Mark called our bee friend from Bee Thinking for some information and what he suggested doing.

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He took a closer look at the hive and too how many bees were left.  Were they all gone and moved out of their bigger, remodeled hive? Or was it just a swarm, they had planned way before “we” (Mark) added the two boxes the day before?

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Mark was uncertain.  To our new-to-beekeeping knowledge, we couldn’t tell for certain.  So Matt, came to check, and hopefully give us the good news, that it was just a swarm, and that we still, indeed, had a healthy hive.


And yes.  He came later that evening.


Lucas and I went to our planned dinner with friends, while Siena stayed behind with Mark, doing the right thing for our bees, and the  swarm on our roof.  Actually by this point we had learned there was another swarm in our neighbors backyard.  We don’t know where that one came from, but maybe was from our hive in the backyard.  We don’t know.  But at least, if Matt told us we had a good hive, he could go home with two swarms to give to the many people in his wait list, here in Portland.

DSC_0222-smallAnd do you see my daughter here?  She’s wearing the other bee net we have, and decided to stay with the bees (and Mark and two other bee excited people) instead of going to play with a friend.

Because we were gone, nobody took pictures.  I wish I could have.  Mark says it was funny. Having three adult people wearing that bee, white suit, working in the front yard, with a shorter one on rain coat and books and a net hat.

DSC_0217-smallNot only did they work on our front yard, getting a box for the hive up in our roof (that ended up staying there for 2 days, because the bees would’t move in as easy as they thought they would.)  They also waked around the block, to get to our neighbor’s backyard, by this time, each with a flashlight.

I can only imagine what they looked like.  The first thing that comes to mind as Mark is describing me their evening, is the show Portlandia.  I’ve only seen a few pieces of episodes, but I can see this sight fitting perfectly fine… don’t you?

Ah! And yes, the two swarms have been delivered to better homes and our hive, is doing well and doing all the healthy things they are suppose to be doing at this time of the year.

The bees get a little remodel : Part 1



So, we’ve had two boxes in our Warre hive for about a year, so Mark decided to add two more boxes.  I guess it’s not so little of a remodel for the bees… they are getting double square footage, and we hope they like it.

DSC_0126-smallWe are each watching from where we feel comfortable, and help Mark as we can.  Me, mostly taking pictures, as you see…

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We also noticed that our stand was sagging, probably with all the rain from last year and the weight of the combs, honey and bees.  So we decide to change the base too.


Imagine these bees… they are all doing their job and all of a sudden their roof, actually their whole home is lifted… not sure what I would do if this happened to me?


So we put a new, brick base this time.  I think that should be better.

DSC_0134-small DSC_0135-smallMark puts the bars in the new boxes.

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And the bees are still flying back and I bet they are not sure what’s going on with their home.  But Mark is working as quick as he can.

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These ladies, and gentlemen have a new, bigger home.  And it’s looking like they like it alright.  Mark will go in and check their combs in more detail in few more days.  For now we are checking to see how they are doing in their bigger space.