Summer playing

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Friends.  Snowcones.

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Yes, snow cones and ice creams. All sizes.  All colors. All flavors.

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More baseball.

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Movies. Yes, lots of movies in our backyard.  Also movies at the pool.

DSC_0006 copyBasketball.  Yes, lots of basketball.

DSC_0011 copy DSC_0002 copyMore movies.

DSC_0007 copyDinner.  Lunches.

DSC_0017 copyLegos.  Movie making. Laughs.

DSC_0021 copy DSC_0067 copySnacks.

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Board games.

DSC_0082 copyPop corn.  Yes, lots of popcorn. (I didn’t measure or count, but because we keep the popcorn in a 1/2 gallon jar, I think we made about 1  1/2 gallon popcorn this summer.

DSC_0088 copyMonkeying around.

DSC_0093 copyFriends.

DSC_0152 copyLaughs.  Jokes, Smiles. Stories.  Oh how I love them all.

DSC_0033 copyPlaying by flashlights.

DSC_0037 copyWater toys. Legos.  Book on CDs.

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Baskets.  Knitting.  Sewing. Reading.

DSC_0040 copyGoggles.  Sunglasses.  Fly goggles? Baseball cup?  Yeah… what a mix.  On the dinner table? Why not! Right? We didn’t eat much inside anyway.  Better leave them all there handy, when one needs them the next time you walk by.

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Yes lots of laughs all through the house all summer long.

Basketball in the pool.  Frisbee at the park.  Ice cream (and yes, lots of fresh fruit too!)  Capture the Flag.  Biking.  Swimming at the pool.  Scooting.  Walking.  Swimming in the river.  Swimming at the lakes.  Lots of swimming.  Playing.  Yes, lots and lots of playing.  All.  Summer.  Long.

The International Space Station (ISS)

I’ve always loved seeing up above.  Growing up and spending many months in the lake house, especially those 3 months in the summer, we had clear nights and no light or city pollution, we’d sit outside or lay in the grass and look up above.  The sky. The Milky Way.

Back then, in Chile, I knew few stars by name and could identify just a couple of constellations.  But I could stare the dark sky for hours.

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Photo by Scott Kelly from ISS, 2015.

After college I moved to Portland, and being in the city all the time, makes it hard to see and enjoy our night sky.  Also, the trees, and the hills, all the green that I so enjoy, makes it hard to see the big sky.  We have to make an effort to get into open space.  We like camping in the forest, where there are dark nights, but we are usually protected by trees all around.

But when we do have a chance for a dark night, it takes me back 35 years ago all the way to the other side of the world, laying on my back, watching up above.

The Earth from ISS 2015
Photo by Scott Kelly from ISS, 2015.

I still don’t know many stars or constellations, but I can recognize a few, in this northern sky.  Two summers ago we joined a group of folks from OMSI and watched the moon as it was setting, learned about that night sky, saw Saturn… yes!  Saturn!  That Saturn. It was amazing.  We still talk about it how surreal it was.  As if they had put a sticker in front of the telescope to show the Saturn that you’ve seen in the books.  But no, it is exactly how we’ve studied it.  That was cool.

Scott Kelly August 2015 ISS
Scott Kelly selfie  –  Photo by Scott Kelly from ISS, 2015.

And we also got to see, and identify correctly the International Space Station (ISS.) I can see it sometimes when we have the chance to be in dark skies, but of course, it’s only about every 90 minutes that it passes around, so if we are lucky I can tell it apart from other satellites.

Photo by Scott Kelly from ISS, 2015.

Even with my not so fond love of Facebook, I am intrigued by the Astronaut Scott Kelly‘s posts and photos from his year long stay in the ISS.  I’ve seen his videos from aboard from 2010, showing his work area and sleeping bag as well as a tour of the Window of The World.  There’s one from this year’s expedition, with an interview from his first 100 days above the station.  And there are so many other cool videos, but I love watching how they live and have their routines in space as well as images of the Earth?

The Earth from ISS 2015
Photo by Scott Kelly from ISS, 2015.

I hope it’s OK to share the photos he’s posted online, because I am thoroughly enjoying his work from up there, and I am really hoping he’ll make a book with his photos… I love them!  I am having fun seeing how our Earth is seen from up there.  How incredible and small it looks.

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Africa  –  Photo by Scott Kelly from ISS, 2015.
Andes Mountains in Peru from space
Andes Mountains in Peru – Photo by Scott Kelly from ISS, 2015.
Andes Mountains with sun shining from Space July 30 2015
Andes Mountains – Photo by Scott Kelly from ISS, 2015.
Australia from ISS
Australia – Photo by Scott Kelly from ISS, 2015.
Earth from ISS 2015
Earth – Photo by Scott Kelly from ISS, 2015.
Earth from ISS
Earth – Photo by Scott Kelly from ISS, 2015.
Himalayas from ISS
Himalayas – Photo by Scott Kelly from ISS, 2015.
Himalayas from space
Himalayas – Photo by Scott Kelly from ISS, 2015.
Kilimanjaro – Photo by Scott Kelly from ISS, 2015.
Mountains in South America from ISS 2015
Mountains in South America – Photo by Scott Kelly from ISS, 2015.
Patagonia frmo ISS
Patagonia – Photo by Scott Kelly from ISS, 2015.
Earth with river – Photo by Scott Kelly from ISS, 2015.
Canada – Photo by Scott Kelly from ISS, 2015.
Scott Kelly and lettuce selfie from ISS August 2015
Selfie by Scott Kelly from ISS, 2015.

Astronaut Scott Kelly and the newly arrived lettuce.  Selfie with lettuce, as he posted online.

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Photo by Scott Kelly from ISS, 2015.

Scott Kelly’s Summer Vacation 2015. 

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Photo by Scott Kelly from ISS, 2015.
Western US from ISS 2015 in the morning
Photo by Scott Kelly from ISS, 2015.

Wow… that is some trip and experience.  Some stories to tell, for sure.  As the stories we’ve been collecting ourselves.

Thank you Astronaut Scott Kelly for sharing these wonderful and beautiful photos of the Earth from up above.  It is amazing to see it from a different perspective.  It is a treat to realize what technology is and lets us do today. I don’t know the specifics of your studies at the ISS, but getting instant posts on Facebook from someone so far away, making it all seem so much less big.  Not quite smaller, just less big.

a party

We had a great party to celebrate Siena turning 13 few weeks a month ago (time flies.)

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We watched a movie.

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Had milkshakes.

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Decorated a cake.  Two cakes.

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Siena and her friends had a lot of fun.DSC_0083 copy

They had their coach, the swimmers, the lane lines, the diving blocks, the different styles of swimming with different arms, the lifeguards…DSC_0085 copy

People hanging on the lane line.

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It was so fun to watch them think what and how to decorate it.

DSC_0080 copyWe even had quite a few helpers to make the fruit monster we’ve been making for 12 years. (We didn’t make it when Siena turned 1.  And a little different from what we can make for Lucas in the winter.)

DSC_0081 copyAs always, it looks so festive and funny.

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As we are getting ready for her party that morning, celebrated a month later because of other activities, we thought we would be safe (weather wise) with a party in the middle of July.  Besides, this has been the driest, hottest year that I can remember.

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But that morning… it started to rain.  I know we all have been wanting rain, and the garden and the earth needs it.  I know.  But really?  Did it have to be that day? (You know, the other day that has rained this summer, was a couple of weekends ago, when we were going to a camping birthday party.)

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But all that rain passed, and with clouds rolling in, making our sky that gray, meant that no one was going to go to the pool.  Well, that is, no one besides our kids and friends.  It was not a summer-looking day, which worked for us.  Our friends were ready to go with Siena’s wishes, and happy to get in the pool to play.  it wasn’t cold at all, and we had the pool almost all to ourselves.  And what fun that was.

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They said, the water felt nice with all the playing, swimming and having fun, and was warmer than outside.

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Siena was so happy.  She loved it.

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After few hours of playing in the pool, we went to the park to play Capture the Flag.  Another game we all enjoy.

DSC_0287 copyRunning around, warmed them up too.  A good thing.

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And from the park we headed back to the house.  I went back a little earlier, because I wanted to add to the cold lemonade we had made, hot chocolate as well.  It wasn’t the typical hot July day.

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I wasn’t planning on hot drinks for a summer day, but hey! life happens.  And even though sometimes I’m a little stubborn and not ready for the unexpected, this turned out OK and it was not a problem for anyone.  And the hot chocolate was well welcomed.

DSC_0306 copyThe cake was admired by everyone.

DSC_0311 copyThe fruit monster eaten by everyone.

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And Siena was celebrated and loved by all of us.  A day we’ll remember for sure.

backyard fixin’

We love hanging out in our backyard.  It is my favorite spot in the summer, and in the fall too.




But I can say also, so it is in the spring where we can see everything starting to come back alive after months of being asleep, and more and more hours are spent out there, getting it ready for the summer months.


And you know? I appreciate it in the winter months too, when things are wet, the grass green as can be and the muddy spots show where we’ve worn our paths.  And of course, the weird times we get to enjoy snow.



Our back yard is lived and loved.  Played and sat.  Read and written.  Listened and talked.  It is laughed and cried.  It is making memories and remembering them.  It is eaten and made.  It is celebrated.  It is shown and discovered.  It is slept and awakened.  It is warm and cold.  It is old and new.  It is so much.  It is where we spend most of our hours and meals in the summer.


I got these used chairs and coach and table few years ago.  I got rid of that table because I don’t like glass in the backyard, because of all what we do out there.  We have kids, there’s baseballs, basketballs, rackets, hula hoops, and who knows if it gets in the way of our playing.


And because there’s always lots of playing and talking and hanging out out there, and I’d say almost certain, we have extra people every day, when we like to hang out together, I’ve been looking for a couple of extra wicker chair I could add to our sitting area.  And so, few months ago I found two for $5.  Not bad I thought, even thought they were green and not white.


So, at the beginning of the summer, I went and bought white spray paint to give them a new coat and make them match.  As I was reading on the internet if there was any tricks to using spray paint (I’ve never done it before) I found all these beautifully painted wicker furniture, in all bright colors.

I changed my mind.  Went back to the store and changed the color of paint as well.

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Before I painted I did some fixing, because these chairs and coach had big holes in the arms and in the back rest.

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The arms looked OK and I think it can last another year.  The duct tape of course… I am not so sure.

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I then moved them to my painting corner.

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Where I put a shower curtain to keep the ground and fence not too blue.

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One by one, the chairs started to appear in our newly fixed up area.

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I kept the cushions, because it makes them more comfy.

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I just added quilts to add color.

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And even though it took a lot more cans than I thought it would, and my arm (the muscle you use to push the spray nozzle) was sore after painting 6 large pieces of furniture, I am so happy how they turned out.

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It is one of my summer painting projects for this year (I’ll share the other when it’s finally put back together, and it’s actually not that exciting.)  I like it a lot.  I love the color, and it turned out to be our happy corner we’ve all enjoyed all these months already.

Another party at the lake


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We arrived at the lake Friday evening, after a fun afternoon seeing new places.

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We’ve been lucky to celebrate with our friends, 9 of the 13 birthdays.  We met when our oldest ones were 4, and seen them grow up to be the teenagers they are now it’s been a treat.

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All the kids have grown up.

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Friends, new friends, grandparents, doggies, all are around for a whole weekend.

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They play all day long. Running, kicking the ball, the can, swimming, running, walking, laughing… all sounds of summer.

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And of course, there’s The Fire.

DSC_0260 copyOh… so nice.

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Sitting there, chillin’.  Actually wearing up, resting, talking, listening to the kids still run around and play, even in the dark hours.

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And besides all the catching up, the talking, the laughing, the conversations happening by the fire, in the kitchen, around the grill, there’s all the cooking and chopping and slicing of watermelon, and sharing of great foods and drinks in great company.

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With all the delicious foods we all bring and share, I have to admit, when we see these cinnamon rolls made by grandma, coming out of the oven ohhhhh….. there’s silence.

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Oh my.  Silence.  Complete silence.

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Another day comes around, and there is more of the same delicious foods, talks and laughs and swims and boat rides and paddling and company.  What a weekend.

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DSC_0286 copyOh yes! The views… look at this place, this is what we see while we eat breakfast, or when we get out of our tent, and when we go to sleep… hard to give our backs to.  So we don’t.

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We can spend all day in the water.  I know we can.

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So, we do our best.

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There’s something to do for each one of us.  Besides the swimming, of course.

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What a fun weekend it always is.

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Thank you for everything.  We loved it all.

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Canoeing in the Willamette

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Last week we went on a tour of the Willamette River here in Portland, with the great folks of the Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership.  It wasn’t a long trip nor far, just a couple of hours, with lunch in the island.

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They offer free events like this one, and lots of other cool resources.  I can’t believe we hadn’t done anything with them until this summer.

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So we got on this 12-person canoe and paddle in the Willamette River.

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It was the first time we’ve been out with them and I am so glad we decided to go.  It was a beautiful, clear day.  It was hot, but it was cooler in the water.

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DSC_0013 copyWe saw the Sellwood Bridge.

DSC_0006 copyAnd downtown.

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And just being in the water, makes you see everything in a different perspective.  I love the views.

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With a field guide and binoculars provided by the staff, it was fun to see up close.  And we did get to see some cool stuff.

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(Oh, how I wish I would have taken my zoom…)

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Lucky us we got to see a Bald Eagle flying over us, a few Great Blue Herons perched in this small island and on edge, Canada Geese, Killdeer, Purple Martins .

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As we got closer to Ross Island, we were told that Kingfishers nest in these burrows.  I had no idea.

DSC_0023 copyWe had great guides, all four of them.  Our boat had two staff, both directing the canoe and sharing their knowledge.  We got to spend our paddling with this guy.  He was knowledgable, funny, and shared lots of information.  He talked about the birds, the history of Ross Island and who bought what when, and how it came about what it is now, about animals, history of the region, natives.

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It was cool to share few hours with them.

DSC_0041 copy DSC_0028 copyThis is the other canoe that went with us, it looks so pretty.  Doesn’t it?

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We noticed how the river rises with the tides.  It changes about 3 feet he said.  I had no idea it was that much.  I’ve never really have paid that much attention to the water levels.

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We stopped at Ross Island for lunch.

DSC_0071 copyThe view was gorgeous.  Oh what a day.

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We had a chance to talk to the guides, have lunch, hang out a little, cool off in the shade and see what treasures we could find in this new (to us) place.

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(Someone chewed on this stick.)  Signs of life, of autumn, signs of the life cycle.  There is always so much to notice just by being out of doors, isn’t it?

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We even saw a barge get launched to the river, not too far from the island.

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And waves of all sizes.

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After lunch we had to go back.  I really wished we could have paddle all day.

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I think I want to get something to paddle around in the river.  We live so close to it (10-12 blocks?)  We should try to find something.  I think it would be fun.

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I think of all the things this beautiful city has to offer.  I feel so lucky to live where we live.  The natural beauty amazes me almost daily.  Sometimes it’s hard to pay attention to it, when we are in the day to day life, when the garbage needs to be taken out, or it’s so hot to be outside, or inside for that matter!

But if I stop long enough to notice, I feel so very lucky we have ended up where we are.  The greens all around us, even in the hottest I’ve had; the blues, in front of us and up above;  the browns and grays; the yellows and all the natural colors in between; the people and friends we’ve been lucky to meet and keep through these twenty years of living in the same spot, because it’s been a wonderful spot up until now, at least.

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If we are going to live in a city, I feel lucky we’ve been able to raise our kids in this city. There’s always been things for us to do that we all enjoy.

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I think we’ll be going to other trips they offer, for sure.  Everyone loved it.

we found a steam train and didn’t get a puppy

Last weekend we went to our friend’s birthday party that he celebrates camping by the lake.  Because we were there early, we went for a drive to a new place.  To see what we could see.

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We went on a new road, and the sight was just beautiful.  I think seeing rain for the first time in months, seeing the road wet, the trees dripping, the earth dark, was a gift on itself. I really do miss the rain, and even though I am enjoying the summer a whole lot, I can’t wait to see and feel our ground wet.

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We were not prepared for the rain though.  No one had brought warm clothes, just these sweatshirts, that once wet, we knew we’d be cold.  So we didn’t do a hike, but instead looked for a place to stop and get a warm drink.   We found ourselves in Elbe, a small town in Washington, name given by the place in Germany where the founders’ of the town came from, in 1906.

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We found the Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad and Elbe Church a National Historic Site.  Right next to the Museum, was The Hobo Inn, a place we went to check out and warm up a little.

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And we made sure we stayed with our kids all the time…

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just in case…

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Crossing the tracks you can peek through the window into the interior of Elbe Lutheran Church on the banks of the Nisqually River, on the foothills of Mt. Rainier.DSC_0185 copy DSC_0188 copy

The sign in the window says: It can hold up to 46 people.  Founded by people from the Elbe River in Hamburg, Germany and built in 1906 by local folks of the area in the land and materials of Henry Lutkens.  He also donated materials and logs for Elbe’s first school house, which we didn’t see.

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And as we were heading out, we saw the Mt. Rainier Scenic train arrive in Elbe’s train station.

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canning tomatoes

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Our plants have done so well this year.  I can’t take any credit for the garden this year either, but it’s been fun seeing all the goods coming into our kitchen and into friends’s hands.   Look at this 1-pound tomato.  It was so pretty and so good!

DSC_0018 copyMy menu board is not being updated very often, for meals, but it is where we are keeping track of what the garden is producing us.

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A friend wanted to learn to can tomatoes, so we waited to pick them from the garden until that day.  We had 19 pounds of tomatoes to can.

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We set up our outdoor station, how we like doing it in the summer, to keep our house a little cooler (we can in that outdoor gas stove, is perfect.)

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Our friend brought some of her tomatoes and these were some of the tiny colorful and beautiful ones.  We’ve never canned small tomatoes.  We usually peel the bigger ones, but we didn’t these.

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We just packed them after washing them.  She said she blends her tomato sauce when she cooks, anyways.  I am excited to hear how they’ll turn out when she uses them later on.

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We put her to work too, so she can see it’s not that hard to can.  I know it takes time, but it is more fun to do it with friends anyway! We were glad to share our day with her.

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Besides, with these colors?  Isn’t it pretty?

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And then to wait to hear that pop, right? Aaaahhh… just perfect!

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A new camping spot

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Few weeks ago we went camping to a new spot.  Our usual, seemed a little too dry and had a wild fire earlier that made us wondering if that would be a good area to go back to this summer, with no camp fires allowed on campgrounds.

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So we tried a spot the other way. Towards the coast, an area we usually don’t visit.  A friend told us about a place they’ve gone by the Nehalem River so we gave it a try.

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I was surprised at how green it was with the dry summer (and winter) we’ve had.

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But we were pleasantly surprised that yes, we could have a campfire and with it our “wild popcorn.”

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We were by the Nehalem River.  It allowed us to swim and cool of and just have river fun.  I didn’t take pictures where we swam, neither of the ‘swarms of newts’… I have never seen so many newts grouped together like that.  I wish I would have taken my camera with me when we saw them (that’s the time I wish I had a cell phone so I could have taken a picture of.)  We’ll have to go back to see that again.

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I think the river is very low at this time, so the Nehalem Falls wasn’t much of it.  But still a beautiful view.

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And we were lucky to have found some wild blackberries.

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Lucas found them and we picked some for breakfast and snack, while camping.

DSC_0292 copyAnd then we picked some more to bring home and used for the Blackberry and Blueberry Galette I made days later.

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It was a fun trip and a pretty place.  We are definitely going back.  We’d love to see how the water level and the wildlife changes in the seasons.  Maybe we can go this fall and see the salmon coming up the river.  I bet it’s a pretty sight.

in the kitchen

I liked last year’s kitchen posts that Heather inspired us to do.  It was fun to see and try to keep track all the foodly things that were happening.

Here are a few of the foods we’ve eaten lately.

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An Apple German pancake of sorts.  I really like it, and it’s the best to eat it with our apples from the backyard.

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The other day I made a Blackberry Blueberry Galette.  I made the dough from Amy‘s recipe, from her cheat sheet.  (Thank you Amy!) The filling I made by looking at some recipes from this book. I decided to mix wild blackberries we had picked while camping few days before and some blueberries to make about 2-3 cups (didn’t measure).  Added about 1 1/2 tablespoon of flour, about 1/4 cup of sugar, about 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, and a sprinkle of cinnamon.  I put it over parchment paper because I knew it was going to ooze juice.  (Good idea.)

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I put this filling in the middle of the rolled out dough and then turned the dough on the edges to cover it, but leaving it open in the middle.  Then, I brushed milk and put a little bit of butter in the middle, as Amy suggested. So good it was gone very quickly.

I know we’ve eaten more than these two things. There has been lots of popcorn too, lots of it.  Some summer vegetable rolls, some grilling, pasta with the kale pesto, and more. But all and all, pretty simple meals though.

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And yes, some freezing of elderberries, to use in the winter months.  Some of these from some friends’ backyard, some from down by the river.

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This drink though…. oh, my new favorite, even though it doesn’t show what it is.  A simple syrup of rhubarb and basil with sparkling water, ice and a slice of lemon.  Oh yes! So good for hot days!