To continue in my “let’s go outside” week of posts.

I’ve realized that a lot of my childhood summers, were very different from what my kids are experiencing.

Growing up we’d go to the house by the lake my parents owned for the almost three months of summer.  My dad would comeback to the city to work through the week, and then come back on the weekends.  My mom would stay with me and my brothers (and any friends we’d bring) the whole summer.


It wasn’t too far from civilization, not at all.  but the house was far enough that this is where we stayed and played and hung out.  And we played in the water all day long.  We’d come “visit my mom” whenever we needed a snack or lunch, and then even after dinners, we’d still be playing outside by the lake, or take another swim, or whatever else we were doing.

There was no worries about cars, or traffic, or people.  There was no one but us, and my uncle and cousins and one more family friend and their kids.  We were all friends.  We knew to be safe in and around the water and we learned to be comfortable and be smart around it.  I was one of the youngest of all the kids running around.  But it didn’t matter.  We all played, sometimes together, sometimes alone.  We were always just outside.

We swam, snorkeled, learn to dice, rowed boats, and rode on a small motor boat we had, skied, windsurfed, and anything else we’d come up with.  It was really fun. I have so many great memories.

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Now, my kids still have great summer breaks.  But we live in the city, and we head out of the city as much as we can.  But there’s not one place, like I had growing up.  We go back camping to some of the same spots, but it’s not our spot like the lake house was for me.


We also enjoy many different city things there is to do during the summer, mostly outdoors.  There is lots out there.  And yes, it is fun too.


Both Mark and I having grown up with a fair amount of country life (or something close to that), we get outside as much as we can.  Rain or shine.  You know, living in Portland (Oregon), with as much rain as we get, we have to  get out even in the rain.  We have a good rain coat (for those of us who want one), and some of us go without.  As my kids say “the rain feels so good!”… they are Oregonians for sure!

Picking berries


We went to pick blueberries at the same spot that we usually do, in Sauvie Island.


This time with our friends from out of town.

DSC_0118-small DSC_0119-smallWe picked enough blueberries for making a little jam, eating fresh of course, and freezing the rest.  Between the picking we did this day (with lots of help!) and the blueberries we picked at a friend’s house, about 100 lbs picked, I’m hoping it will last us over the winter.  We’ll see!

DSC_0132-smallFrom the blueberry farm we went to pick Marionberries and raspberries.

DSC_0139-smallWe felt that to get a real summer visit to Oregon, you have to get fresh Marion blackberries.

DSC_0135-small DSC_0146-smallDelicious!  I love them.

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We picked enough for fresh eating, making jam (for our friends to take home), smoothies, and Mark made a cobbler.  A new recipe, and I need to ask him for the link because it was really good, almost like a cake, and you should try it.



Mark picked a few raspberries. Just enough to eat fresh.  We missed the peak time this year.  So none for the freezer for the winter.  We’ll make do.

DSC_0149-smallStopped under this very old oak tree at the farm, where the breeze cooled us a little, while we played and rested.



This is the summer smile I love to see around.  Just perfect!  Berries fresh to eat, picking, running, laughing, talking, hanging out together, telling stories or riddles, passing through the sprinkler (even at the farm!) and of course, lots of playing under the sun.


A stop at the farm’s store to pick other fresh produce, a sun hat (or two), and we are ready for our next stop.

Oh… that’s summer in my book!



On kindness and simplicity. What happened to us?

We followed a tour guide for the First Nations part at the Museum in Vancouver last March, and the guide said at some point “The stories, are the most treasured thing the clans had.”

So I wonder, why did the government banned their potlatches at some point in their history, when these were a celebration in their villages?  I don’t believe they were hurting anything, but instead just making the tribe and families closer to each other.  What happened to us to believe this was not something good for the nation and their community, for the people?  For history?


When did we loose the telling of stories in our families in gatherings?   How come we have become so individualistic that there is no need to gather with neighbors and friends to celebrate the changing of the seasons or the times when we need each other, helping each other, or to celebrate?  Sometimes a good thing, but I believe many times would be good to act more as a group, be aware of our neighbors next door, or across town or across the country and even across the world.

How come we took the lives of thousands of innocent buffaloes so that the native americans would starve to death and be obligated to move?  How come we get greedy and use up the resources without thinking of what we’ll leave to our children and grandchildren, or the neighbor next to us?  What happened to what the coastal tribes did years ago when they fished enough salmon to survive through the winter and leave enough for the clans and tribes below, down the river from them?

When did we turn our lives to feel better when we own things?  When material stuff is how we describe someone’s richness?

When did we change to become so materialistic that we have to have much bigger houses than we ever have in history? I know studies show that the size is going down these past few years, but from about 950 sq ft in the 50’s to over 2,300 sq ft in 2010, seems like a huge amount of space for one family.  And I believe, today, we don’t live with bigger families than before.  I know some of us need bigger homes so we can fit everything we own or want to own.  But is that the way we should live?

How come we compete with one another on the better car or the better clothes instead of sharing what we have together, as a village, as a community?  Can we celebrate together and share instead?

How come our kids need TV’s and video games in their bedrooms so they can feel connected and have fun instead of having relationships with persons, in real life?  The average for American kids between the ages of 2 and 5 is to watch almost 4 hours per day.  That seems to be a lot of TV time for someone so young.  For anybody really, in my opinion, of course.


And I believe it’s not just me thinking this, because I see a trend, and there’s lots of people working on changing how our children are growing up.

The National Wildlife Federation says kids spend as much as 7 hours in front of a screen, but only about 30 minutes of uninstructed time playing out of doors, per day.  That is crazy!


Why is it that as a culture we don’t see our kids being out of doors the common thing anymore?  Why does it have to be more complicated?  Why is it that our kids and parents today need to have an i-something connected to them most of the time?  If it’s not to their hands it’s to their ears, or both.  Can we still connect with each other like we used to?  In person, talking.  How come we can’t be telling and sharing stories instead of listening music, watching a movie or playing games or texting, from a plastic handheld device?

No WiFi Zone in Amsterdam

Maybe this is a good way to start to go back to our roots…. or actually it’s not even that far back.  Just a few years back.


Thoughtfulness, niceness, kindness, simplicity.  I think these are the words that come up in my family as goals in our days more often than any others.  We want to have more of these.  I want us to do more about this.  As a family.  As a community.  It doesn’t have to be big, show-off-y things.  Just something small.  Be more thoughtful.  Be nicer.  Be kinder.  To each other, and also to those we don’t know but we cross our paths with, even sometimes unnoticed.

Just wondering… what happened.

Making : A little of everything

With our friends visiting, we showed them Sauvie Island, and picked berries.  Oh, they are so good when you are right there, in the middle of the bushes, trying them, fresh.  Right? As fresh as they can be.  The best!


So Mark made this cobbler, with the Marionberries we picked that day.

DSC_0247-smallAnd we also made Marionberry and blueberry jam so they could take home.


And we also made peg dolls inspired by the book Making Peg Dolls, by Margaret Bloom.


DSC_0103-smallTo go along with their playing.

DSC_0106-small DSC_0257-smallAnd then Siena and the girls made monster dolls. Lots of them!  It was so much fun to see what they would come up with next.

DSC_0260-small DSC_0263-small DSC_0265-smallAnd of course, these days, we always have a Minion with us, in one way or another.  And I think this one, is the cutest one we’ve seen! (Have you seen Despicable Me 2, or the first one? Oh…. so funny! I loved both movies… oh those Minions. Hilarious!)

And I’ve been making some quilting, finishing Siena’s birthday quilt. Which is great, because she wanted it a little bigger than I first thought, so giving it to her unfinished, gave me the chance to add blocks.  It’s turning out pretty cute, I think.  With lots of memories.  For me at least.  Siena doesn’t remember all the fabrics she’s worn in way or another, and at some point of her 11 years.  But she’s heard the stories!

And I’ve been sewing a little more too. I’ll share the rest when I have more done. What have you’ve been making lately? Thanks for stopping by.  Have a good day!

We played + visited


We had friends staying with us from Vancouver, BC.  Actually, we were friends many years ago in college… in Chile.

It is funny to think, that we met over 22 years ago, while studying, and growing up.


Now, on the other side of the world, 22 years later and many experiences on us, we meet again, still growing up.


In our home.  A place I shared in letters and photos with her when we bought it 18 years ago, and now here gathering for more stories together.  Four kids running around, and many years to catch up with.

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We shared drinks, made breakfast and dinners together, talked around the table and around a fire.

DSC_0270-small DSC_0269-smallWe played and talked.  Got to know each other a little more.



Made things together.


DSC_0082-small DSC_0084-smallVisited OMSI.

On a side note If you live here in Portland, or close enough to visit, you should go see the new exhibit there, Mummies of the World.  For us it was perfect after having studied Ancient Egypt in the spring.  It is an amazing exhibit.

DSC_0085-smallJumped, and played.

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And of course, had s’mores.

DSC_0214-small DSC_0219-smallA gathering is not complete without a fire in the backyard… and as my kids say, if you have a fire, you have to have s’mores too. So we did.

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And sat together, telling stories, riddles, whittling, laughing, growing closer together these kids of ours that hadn’t really met.  But us adults had many stories and adventures together from long ago, that keeps us closer, even with the passing of time.


The 4th


This year, the Fourth of July went by quickly, in between other days, also filled with fun-ness (is that a word?)

Our day usually is nothing big but we like being at home.  We try to barbecue something, have a yummy dessert, and in the evening head down to the bluff.


That’s where it’s happening!


There’s where the party is going. And we like to watch it.

DSC_0031-small DSC_0030-smallLoud and crazy as it is, it’s fun.  And we’ve gone for many years, even before having kids.


And we do nothing crazy, really. DSC_0015-small DSC_0016-small DSC_0017-small DSC_0020-small DSC_0022-small



We leave those for others to do.

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DSC_0036-small DSC_0072-smallWe just enjoy.  Lights, music and sounds noise and all.


:: right now ::

July.  It is summer here in Oregon.  Yes it is. And right now, I am:

:: laughing and enjoying all the lines Siena and Lucas repeat from Despicable Me 2 we went to see last weekend.   We have been waiting for it to come out for months.  And it was so much fun to go see it at our small theater here in the neighborhood.  Loved it as much as the first one.

:: seeing Minions drawn everywhere around the house.  On paper on the sidewalk. Fun!

:: enjoying the summer days, with the cooler evenings. Love it!

:: thinking it is definitely summer.  Watermelons. Cherries.  Park concerts. Ice cream truck music in the background.  Sprinkler. Weeding the garden. Cucumbers. Breeze.  Barefeet. Kids running and chasing each other in some kind of game.  Yup! It is summer.

:: loving having Mark at home with us, every day.  So nice.

:: of course, also, enjoying Mark’s baking.  We all are!


:: thinking it will be interesting to see the pictures of the Earth from Saturn.

:: recuperating from a week with friends.  The kids (and us adults too!) seemed to have had a whole week of sleep over and camp.  It was fun to play, catch up, cook and hang out.  It had been far too long since we last saw them.


:: thankful for our friends’ help in picking berries last weekend, and making the first jams of the season.

:: trying to ride my bike more often.

:: thankful of our friend Mac‘s help back in early spring for all the gardening and preparing the garden for the summer.  We’ve been eating peas like crazy.  Beans are almost ready.  We ate lettuce and spinach. More to come and more planting.


:: happy to see Siena and Lucas enjoying their summer camp week.  So many stories to share once they step into the car or on our bike ride home.  So many new things we’ve all learned.  A fun week for everyone.

:: also excited Mark and I got to spend few hours to ourselves this week, while the kids were having fun at camp.  We went to Powell’s and browsed what we wanted.  We had lunch downtown in the food carts.  Mark gardened and had all the time he wanted to water.  I sewed some.  We sat down.  We read. We went to the library and browsed what we wanted and took all the time we needed, too!  We played tetris uninterrupted! (the game of the summer for us…. I know, exciting technology here!) It felt like a small vacation, where it felt light on responsibilities.  A fun break for everyone.

:: enjoying all the energy Siena and Lucas have now at the end of a very different week they experienced. 

:: excited we have a cleaner basement, and sheds, and closets and drawers from our spring cleaning and yard sale we did with friends.  It is fun to do it with friends, to catch up, hang out together, and at the same time, get cleaned up in the house.  Ah! And also another great perk of course, was to put a little more money to our travel fund. 

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:: smiling at our summer marks.  T-shirts and swimsuits marked, with faces happy and tired most evenings.  Filled with fruit and ice cream stains.

:: thankful we live in Portland, where the heat is bearable, and can get away most of the time, in the evenings or by standing in the shade.

:: enjoying my newly won treasures at Amanda’s giveaway at SouleMama.  A bunch of beautiful fabrics from Alewives. I am dreaming, still wondering what I’ll use my little bundle in.  Any suggestions?

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:: loving just picked fruits and vegetables.  And our first vegetables from our garden!  Summer is here and so far it’s been a great one.

The garden this week

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Tomato and bean plants, all grown form seeds this year.  Siena, Mark and Mac did a great job in watering them and I can tell they all have a very green thumb.  We are so thankful!


DSC_0342-smallVolunteer pumpkin plant.

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My Lemon verbena, growing great this second year.  A fourth try in having this delicious plant in our garden.  We’ll see.

DSC_0347-smallLucas’s cilantro.  Growing slowly but we think it will make it.  

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These bean plants… growing by the minute!

DSC_0354-smallAnd this grape plant.  Doing very good too.  Thank you Mac for all your help in getting our garden started while you were visiting!  We are enjoying the fruits already.