The Canals : Waterways in England


On our third day with our friends Mac and Ros, we went for a walk to see the beautiful English countryside.  We went to Ellesmere.  I wrote a little about it yesterday.

DSC_0026-smallThis is a canal.  The Shropshire Union Canal.  These are man-made channels for water, built around 1790’s, with a huge importance for the commerce of the country.  It runs south, eastward.

DSC_0030-small DSC_0024-small DSC_0031-smallThere were no boasts available to try an adventure in these waters, so we’ll have to try it at another time.

DSC_0033-small DSC_0034-small DSC_0035-small DSC_0032-small DSC_0038-small DSC_0036-small DSC_0037-small DSC_0043-smallI think Lucas and Siena would have liked to have gone swimming, but we decided not to do it this time.

DSC_0044-small DSC_0047-smallOne of the boats was selling candy and snacks.

DSC_0048-small DSC_0049-small DSC_0039-small DSC_0050-small DSC_0053-smallSome of these boats are for rent, some are private homes.

DSC_0054-small DSC_0051-smallA place to tie the boats.

DSC_0055-small DSC_0058-small DSC_0059-small DSC_0060-smallThis one, has solar panels.  We saw solar panels in lots of homes and places.  I think there were more than I see here at home in the Pacific Northwest of the US.

DSC_0061-small DSC_0062-small DSC_0056-small DSC_0063-smallA beautiful town in the countryside.  If you are enjoying our trip, there is more to come.  We don’t want to forget!

Ellesmere, Shropshire


A market town, like Wem, Ellesmere is in the northern part of Shropshire.  It has the largest natural mere (lake) outside the Lake District, without a natural flow of water into it.  And we went for a walk. 



Ellesmere doesn’t have a mall.  It’s a small town, of just over 3,000 people, northwest of Wem, and just few minutes from Wales.  A small with Medieval streets, Georgian homes and half timbered buildings.



You can see the new homes being built.



But the old ones are predominant.  And how I love those buildings.  Beautiful homes.

DSC_0067-small DSC_0070-small DSC_0066-small DSC_0071-small DSC_0072-small DSC_0073-small DSC_0069-small DSC_0074-small DSC_0075-small DSC_0076-small DSC_0079-small DSC_0082-small DSC_0077-smallDidn’t try these Fish and Chips here, but we did have some somewhere else.

DSC_0087-small DSC_0080-small DSC_0084-small DSC_0083-small DSC_0086-small DSC_0089-smallI love seeing the recycling, no matter where we are.


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A walk can’t get any better than this.  Can’t it?

this week in my kitchen :: blog hop

This week, well actually the last two weeks, because I didn’t get back to post our kitchening last time, has been a little of everything.  Trying to catch up with the garden, the vegetables, the canning and freezing, meals, and just summer.

So here I am with pictures from the last ten days to share with Heather from Beauty That Moves, what’s been happening at our home.  She’s not posting this week, but here’s the link to her kitchening last week.

“A weekly collection of photos from the center of my home.”       — Heather

DSC_0138-smallCucumbers from our garden, taken camping.

DSC_0137-small DSC_0155-smallTea.

DSC_0156-smallMark makes the pancakes.  He’s good at it.

DSC_0134-smallPopcorn, because you can’t live without it.  It’s like air and water for humans.  You can’t live without air for 3 minutes.  You can’t live without water for 3 days.  You can’t live without popcorn for 3 days either.

DSC_0017-smallPesto for dinner and the freezer.

DSC_0019-smallTomato sauce from our garden, in canning jars.

DSC_0020-small DSC_0021-smallZucchini relish.  A new recipe from the Blue Ball book, we’ll see how it tastes.

DSC_0002-smallMy two beautiful men cooking and making dinner.

DSC_0005-smallCucumbers growing like there is no tomorrow.  And tomatoes have started to ripen too.  Enough to can them and for salads.  More coming our way.  A wonderful thing.

DSC_36-smallEating outside for three meals a day is a beautiful summer memory.

DSC_39-smallI think my favorite dish of the summer.  Summer meals and cooking.


Summer energy, summer produce.  The reward of hard work in the garden.  Thank you for all of it.

If you’d like to get inspired some more, hop on over to Heather’s blog and check out everyone who participated last week.  Even with a week old news, no matter, you’ll get great inspirations with all those great links to delicious foods and photos!  Thanks for coming to visit me here.  Have a great Thursday!

take a hike


We did. Yes, we went for a little hike up the creek.

DSC_0046-small DSC_0053-smallNot far up, we found this rock.

DSC_0055-smallThe biggest petrified wood we have ever found.  We left it there, and kept going on our hike.

DSC_0050-smallFound mushrooms of all sizes, colors and shapes.

DSC_0054-smallA beautiful leaf it caught Lucas’s eye.  It reminded me of autumn, that it is coming.

DSC_0048-smallFallen logs.

DSC_0058-smallRoots.  Just look at these roots!

DSC_0062-smallA heart shape rock.

DSC_0063-smallI love hiking up on the creek.

DSC_0061-smallGetting muddy is not too bad when you have water running next to you.

DSC_0059-small DSC_0066-smallAnd when you find surprises like these… what a treat it is.

DSC_0068-small DSC_0070-smallSpores.  A science experiment?  A science lesson at least, and something they won’t forget.

DSC_0077-smallTrees taller than anything around.  How many years? What do they tell from years of standing by this river bed?

DSC_0074-small DSC_0073-smallA collection to bring home.  And a backpack with the airline name tag, because it reminds us of our travels last month.

DSC_0117-smallLunch in nature always seem so much better.  Doesn’t it? After swimming in the creek, after a hike, sitting on a huge log.

DSC_0087-smallA little present from Lucas given with the biggest smile, in his little hands like the most wonderful found treasure. And yes it is.  Thank you.  I love you too my little guy. 

DSC_0108-smallOh… his laugh I can hear it as I watch this photo.

DSC_0111-smallHis voice, his eyes, his love. I can feel it.

DSC_0095-smallHer cute face.  I can see it even with my eyes closed.


DSC_0130-smallTreasures.  Memories.  I love them all.



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Crossing over to Washington to our first camping trip of the summer made me realize that camping is what makes our summers be summers.  Not that other trips are not exciting but for some reason, camping means summer to us.

DSC_0013-small DSC_0020-small DSC_0021-smallSo, before Mark went back to work yesterday (sigh)we headed out to the woods.  We’ve been going to this spot for more than 8 years.  It’s not too far from home, and we can always find peace, beautiful sights, a little cooler weather, and of course, a camp site we enjoy.  DSC_0015-smallThe kids have grown up, and each time I see how different the camping is.  It always turn into something new, for the most part, it’s getting easier and it’s always fun.

DSC_0022-small Lucas and Siena take care of the fire, in the evenings and in the mornings.  Lucas loves starting the fire, but it has to be without matches.  He’s really good at it too.  He takes his flint and steel most places we go and starts a fire every time.

DSC_0023-smallAnd there’s one of us who keeps things organized.  Thank goodness!  (Even with purple toe nails you can go camping, of course)

DSC_0014-smallThese trees I’m sure have seen so many days and many more stories.  I wonder what it’s like when the snow starts to fall, and there is no one to enjoy their shade, their sounds, their ruffling and hushing of the leaves with the breeze.  I wonder what happens here in the winter.  We enjoy the quietness of our weekday camping trips, but I can only imagine what it must be like in November or January.  I know everything must get covered with snow.  I bet it does.

DSC_0040-smallWe found a recipe to make these cinnamon sugar cakes, cooked on a stick last year, and this one was a must for this trip.  As was the popcorn of course.


We were gone for a month in our trip to Europe, and then we were catching up with the garden, apples, and everything a house requires.  But we wanted to go visit a favorite place of ours.  And I am so glad we did.

DSC_0027-small DSC_0154-smallWe played a new game.

DSC_0148-small DSC_0150-smallAnd we played until there was not enough light to see the pieces.

DSC_0041-smallWe found beautiful, amazing things.


DSC_0160-small DSC_0121-smallWe found peace…

DSC_0126-smalland restful times.

DSC_0135-smallWe found time to work together.  You have to when you are out camping, right?  It’s more fun and easier for everyone.

DSC_0143-small We ate and we shared.  We nourished ourselves in many levels.


DSC_0142-smallThis tree stump and log seemed so much bigger few years ago.

DSC_0163-smallI love this sign, and the fact that it is A Handshake Agreement,  from 1932.

DSC_0165-smallWe of course, obliged.  Because it’s an agreement we need to respect, and because it’s history.

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And it is a topic we talk about every single time we come here to pick huckleberries.  And I love how it has changed from year to year, as they grow up and learn and think more of their thoughts on history and people.  I love to see how they’ve changed in their way of thinking and learning history along the way.

DSC_0176-small DSC_0178-smallSurprises are everywhere.

DSC_0181-smallHuckleberries are so delicious and a real treat.  Especially when freshly picked.  And though we had few bowls to keep them in, we had to taste them and make sure our tongues were tingly from the sourness of these fruits.  Ah…. a real summer treat.

DSC_0183-smallAnd yes, please do look at this picking bucket.  It was turned into a hanging bucket especially designed for picking berries by my kids.  I think Siena made it maybe 4 years ago?  And it is kept safe during the years, until it comes out to the light of springs and summers.  Ready to be filled, with whatever fruits these little hands can reach.  It is simple things like this, that make me smile.  That make our family, and our traditions, that make our stories.

DSC_0192-smallWhile picking in these Huckleberries fields , it makes me think that maybe there’s a bear watching us.  Wondering what kind of creatures are we that we can stand like them, but have all sorts of colors, and a special pouches for our food, maybe more like a kangaroo.  What are we doing with their food anyways.  We are sharing dear bear.  We are certainly leaving you enough, and some more for the birds and squirrels and chipmunks.

But this time, we only found a bear bell in there.  And of course a whole bunch of huckleberries! A real treat.

DSC_0197-smallAnd a cricket.

DSC_0186-small DSC_0189-small DSC_0190-smallWe also found these colorful flowers.

DSC_0203-smallAnd a tiny tree frog that seemed hot and lost.  But we left him there.  I bet it knows where it needs to go.

DSC_0205-smallBut oh this drive.  This is Mt Adams, which we don’t get to see very often, from Portland.

DSC_0213-smallA beautiful sight.  Isn’t it?

DSC_0210-smallA grouse (photo taken by Mark.) 

DSC_0216-small DSC_0218-smallA new found lake, a new possible camping spot.  We kept driving towards home.

DSC_0219-small DSC_0224-smallWe went through a lava bed.  And after a little while from here, we turned into a corner on the road, and we found a black bear walking on the road.  Oh my!  How I wish we could have had our camera ready, or more like, have thought of taking a picture of it.  But then, we wouldn’t have paid attention to it as much.  We would have missed this chance of seeing this black bear right in front of us.  And how special is that!  The first time Lucas has seen a black bear.  Siena had seen one with us when she was tiny, so she doesn’t remember that time.  This one on the other hand, a story that will be told.

DSC_0226-smallAnd just like that, we then find two deer on the road.  A couple.  Not very worried about us driving a little closer, though I was being very careful and quiet.

DSC_0228-small DSC_0229-small DSC_0233-small DSC_0234-smallAnd after a day like that, we have to top it off with an ice cream.  Because when you drive by here, you just have to stop.

Maybe we’ll get to do another camping trip  before the rain starts.  But I think for now, even if this is it for this summer, it was a very memorable camping trip for sure.  

last week…

Oh it’s been a while since I’ve kept up here with what has happened in our day to day.  Our trip to Europe this summer has been the focus of most of my posts here, because we are making sure we don’t forget this amazing month we adventured into the big, big world.  So much happened, so much was discovered, learned, shared, seen that I’m trying to keep it alive here in these pages.  (And I thank you for coming to share and travel with us!  I hope you are enjoying the sights as well.)

But last week, this summer, here at our home…

… we watched three movies in our backyard in the big screen.  Because we have to.  You see? We have this large screen we’ve propped up in the wall and we have a projector where we’ve watched movies for years (because we don’t have a tv) and watching movies out in the open air, has been the best discovery we’ve done in the past few years.  So… we have to.


So this year we are catching up in the movies we haven’t seen and should have seen.  Like The Wizard of Oz.  Big (I know.)  Brave (we’ve seen this one many times, but we were showing to a friend who hadn’t seen it.)  The Lego Movie.  It’s been so much fun.  I think we’ll be doing this, until the rain keeps us inside.

… we’ve been canning.  So good!  Apple sauce, zucchini relish, tomato sauce.


… we’ve been freezing green beans, blackberries and a handful of huckleberries we found up in the woods.

… went camping.  Went for a lovely hike on a creek (that we’ve done many times before) and found petrified wood (a huge piece too!) Then, on our way back home, stopped to pick huckleberries, and saw a black bear.  Oh my… hard to even write all this wonderfulness. (More on this tomorrow.)

… watched the kids play outside, taking in all the sun, all the friendships, all that summer is offering us.  Love hearing the kids play, laugh and scream and run around.  I think is what summer is all about.


… the kids had a sleep over with a friend.

… have had an average of 3 extra kids every day for playing and snacks.  And one of the moms is so cute and said to me the other day: “my kids love coming to your house to play, thank you so much for having them…”  But truly I do love having them here and that her kids enjoy coming.  They are having so much fun.  Thank you!

… swam in a creek.  It was warm enough even for those cold waters.

… have gone to the swimming pool, enough times to more than pay off the summer pass.  Some times for lap swimming, but mostly to go play and cool off.  Such a great bonus to have it just two blocks away.

… watched the zucchinis grow.  I’m serious.

… played hide and go seek with the cucumbers in the garden.  Where are they coming from?

… enjoying the last days with Mark at home.  I know we are so very lucky.

… we cleaned the living room.  Dusted off shelves and walls, put away sentimental little somethings that were made and created years ago, and now we need a revamp of our shelves.  The kids decide, and we like it.  There is more dusting off in the rest of the house, shelves, books, games, etc.   The house is getting all cleaned up for the start of the months to come that will move us indoor more and more.  It is nice to start our homeschool days with shelves organized and ready for learning.


… went on our annual homeschool supplies shopping.

… the kids have new tennis shoes.  Oh my goodness… their feet keep growing!

… our printer broke.  We need to look for a new one.  Not sure it’s blog-worthy to mention though.

… cleaned up the living room, by getting rid of a too-small rocking chair the kids never really used too much (so, no real sentimental value, I guess… though I did check with myself quite a bit before deciding) and found two matching chairs that I think are more comfortable than the other ones we had.  The living room is looking much more matchy than I ever thought!


… have thought I should get our photos from our trip printed into the photo books I’ve done before.  I should do that before more time passes, right?

… I bought tulip bulbs.  Haven’t done that in quite a few years, but thought it would be a fun activity to do in the next few weeks and then see the surprises come up next spring.

… helped a friend with a garage sale at her house, and took some of our things over, making some money as an extra side!

… the kids went to see a movie with a friend at the local swimming pool.  I guess because we hadn’t done that this summer, yet.

… got the latest National Geographic Traveler in the mail, and found this cool cover.  So fun to be able to say “Hey! We’ve been there!”  And “I took the same photo!”

… enjoying the less apples on the trees.  Though lots have made them into the compost pile, many others have been made into apple sauce, apple-blackberry jelly, and some into pies.  It does make me want to bake few more pies and crisps before they are all gone.

… we’ve had ice creams.  Many!

… I tried a new dinner recipe with shrimp, and I think it’s my favorite meal this summer.


… I am missing making bread, but I don’t want to even think of turning the oven on.  We are still in summer mode.  It’s hot yet.  We are working with the stove outside (for canning), stove top and raw meals.  All good summer tastes.  For sure.

Hope your summer has been a good one too.

Stokesay Castle, Shropshire


On our way back from Ludlow, we stopped at Stokesay Castle.  It was 4pm and they were closing, so we only got to see it from outside.  But still the sights are beautiful and fun to think we are standing in front of our second castle of the day.

DSC_0896-small DSC_0850-small DSC_0853-small DSC_0854-smallThe north tower of the castle.

DSC_0889-small DSC_0890-smallThe moat of the castle.

DSC_0855-small Stokesay Castle built in the 13th century, starting the contstruction around 1285.  Owned by Laurence of Ludlow, a leading wool merchant from that time who wanted it to be a secure, private house.  His family owned the castle until the 16th century.

DSC_0861-small DSC_0862-smallLucas would have loved to visit this castle and turn into a knight, maybe 2 years ago, when all his playing was about knights.

DSC_0863-smallThis is a view I don’t think I could tire of seeing.  The colors, the wood, the bricks… what a beautiful construction.  The gatehouse made out of wood and plaster in the 17th century.


DSC_0865-small DSC_0866-smallSiena found a fury friend while we were walking the grounds.

DSC_0867-smallLook at this beautiful roof.


Next to the castle, there is a church and the cemetery.

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All this history. I feel lucky to be able to stand there and see it with our own eyes.

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The castle is on this road.  And though most of the roads we took were paved, they were almost as wide as these ones.  I love how unique and calm and quiet it feels.

Beekeeping in England

While visiting our friends in England, at their home, they have a couple of bee hives.  Some friends of theirs are the beekeepers, so they come and check the hives regularly.

It was fun to see the bees go about their business and see a little bit of beekeeping even in our trip.  Because beekeeping is a worldwide language.


We had left our bees at home (of course), but Mark enjoyed getting in the hive with their friends, and seeing an English hive… not sure there was much difference from ours here.  But hey! You’ve got to poke around to learn, right?

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They had placed a new queen in the hive few weeks before we arrived, so they had been checking on her and how the hive was doing.

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All looked good.  It made all three beekeepers happy, because you know the saying… “happy queen, happy bees, happy beekeepers!”


Ludlow’s Market

DSC_0756-smallThe market. No matter where, farmer’s markets, or everything-markets, are so much fun to visit.  This one was the first one in our trip.

DSC_0759-small DSC_0761-smallMmm… honey.  Beautiful color!

DSC_0760-small DSC_0764-small DSC_0762-small DSC_0763-small DSC_0765-small DSC_0768-small DSC_0766-small DSC_0767-smallSo many handmade goods. Lots of fun to look around.

DSC_0769-smallDelicious olives and pickles, we took for our picnic.

DSC_0770-small DSC_0771-small DSC_0800-small DSC_0802-small DSC_0803-smallWeaving.

DSC_0804-smallIf I could have brought some of these with us… I knew I couldn’t so I took a picture.

DSC_0806-small DSC_0807-small DSC_0808-smallBut oh these cups and teapots and plates… I couldn’t bring them either! So here are some photos.

DSC_0810-small DSC_0811-smallSo fun to look at everything new.  So much fun.

Ludlow Castle + Shakespeare Festival


To celebrate Siena’s birthday, our friends Mac and Ros gave us the experience of going to see a Shakespeare Play. As You Like It. When Ros asked us few months before if that would be something we wanted to do while visiting, the kids said right away they did want to go.  Knowing it was a comedy, we thought it might be easier than other plays but we thought we’d read it before we went.

DSC_0722-smallWhen we arrived in Ludlow, you could see the town was celebrating.  There were people dressed up everywhere.  Other’s performing in the streets, outside the castle.

DSC_0776-small DSC_0798-small DSC_0774-small DSC_0778-smallWe went for a walk to see the castle before we went inside for the play.

DSC_0783-small DSC_0784-smallIt reminded me a little of the views we had in Gwalior, in India.  Maybe it was because we were with Ros, Mac and Ro.  Everyone we had first met while in India.

DSC_0780-small DSC_0785-small DSC_0786-small DSC_0787-small DSC_0788-small DSC_0789-small DSC_0791-small DSC_0790-small DSC_0792-small DSC_0813-smallAnd now, heading inside for the play and a picnic.

DSC_0819-small DSC_0814-small DSC_0817-small DSC_0823-small DSC_0825-smallThere were no pictures allowed inside, during the play, but we have the memories and lots of funny stories.


Ludlow, a beautiful town, I’d recommend visiting, if you are in that part of the world.