The longer days

I can feel spring getting closer.  The days are getting longer.  It is no longer dark at 4:30pm.  On a clear day, at 6:15 pm when we are getting out of swim practice, there is a smidge of natural light.  And even though I really do like winter, I like feeling and seeing the seasons turn.

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The sun shines through the windows and warms us a little inside.

DSC_0080 (And I can see how really dirty our windows are.)

DSC_0081 The bulbs that were lost under the piles of stuff… are blooming!


The chairs outside are drying off at times.  Though the paint has chipped away a little, they still look the same beautiful blue we enjoyed last summer. They seem brighter these days, when the sun just feels as bright as can be.


And that blue sky up above… makes everyone happy.  For all of our outdoor needs.



The rhubarb is one of the first vegetable, plant appearing in our garden.  This plant is from some friends who gave it to us long, long time ago.  18 years?  They lived here in Portland for few years, we became friends, they had kids and they moved back East.  When they left Portland, we had our house and they gave us their rhubarb.  Three plants.  One of them is very strong.  The other two, I transferred them last year to this new spot.  I think this is a better place already.  (Thank you Lisa!)


Is Spring really coming?  I know, it always seems too early when the first flowers start to bloom.  Seeing in the news all the snow falling in the rest of the country, seems that purple crocuses shouldn’t be flowering just yet. DSC_0045

The rosemary is also starting to bloom, but it is a little hardier. DSC_0046 DSC_0047

It is these delicate petals that make me wonder about spring.

DSC_0037 DSC_0039 DSC_0041Is February Purple Flower Month then? Or maybe (most likely) we like purple so we have only early blooming flowers that are purple. (Probably this last one is truer.)  But I guess I wouldn’t mind the first one either…. so Happy Purple Flower Month to you all!

in the kitchen

I did a little cleaning in the kitchen few weeks ago.  I find that winter, January in particular, is a good cleaning and re-arranging month.


Not so much decluttering here in this room just yet,  I am still enjoying and looking through all those library cookbooks on top…  DSC_0097 DSC_0098Some beautiful, great cookbooks gifted by some friends.  I am having a lot of fun looking through them and planning our meals.


We’ve enjoyed salads with some new oil and vinegar I received for Christmas.  I think I’m going to go check it out when we are out.

The day starts.  I make bread, some days.  Some days I make muffins.  Some days the food goes in the slow cooker in the morning.  Other days, goes from the freezer to the oven.  People get home.  They are taken to activities.  The food is ready.  Hungry people walk in.  The food is eaten.  Plates are empty, dishes are washed.  Showers are taken, bodies lay in beds.  The next day begins.

In between all that there is going on, there is always food (we are lucky that way.)  As I clean my recipes, from folders, binders, baskets, I pick our meals for what sounds good, trying to vary what we eat.  I like it that way.

One of those days, I found a pumpkin bread recipe and some easy dinner rolls (I’ve never made them before.)  I made them for dinner the other day (no pictures of them, read explanation above.)  As they are coming out of the oven, Mark stops by the oven and tries one of the rolls with butter, and comments after having butter melted all over “these are dangerously good!”  Ahhh… my heart melts too… I can’t ask to hear anything better than that!  Those are going to be on repeat I am sure.

In my cleaning, I found these seeds that we bought to sprout.  We are waiting. DSC_0108 DSC_0112 DSC_0114 DSC_0116 DSC_0001 DSC_0002 Looking good!

DSC_0004 A Christmas present.  Beans and beer corn bread.  Perfect for a cold winter day! (Thank you, Grandma)

DSC_0022Elderberry syrup being made with frozen elderberries and some of the honey we had harvested from our bees.


I couldn’t wait… I know strawberries and raspberries in February in Portland is not normal.  But oh… they looked so good…  And they were!DSC_0101Now, we are ready to go back to oranges and apples for few more months.

DSC_0146And of course, lemons too!  This is Siena’s and Mark’s dessert one day.  I’m not a lemon bar kinda’ person, but it was really good.


This is where it’s all happening at the moment… What have you’ve been cooking and baking?

Last few weeks…

… we opened an Etsy shop!  We’ve had it for a while, not really updating it or making it work very well, but this time Siena is in charge and it’s been much more fun.

… my mom sent me these photos of her garden at the lake house, in Villarrica.  Oh summer,  I know you will return so for now I am thoroughly enjoying this rain. unnamed-2 unnamed-1 unnamed

… I heard Siena say to Mark “How can you not like this rain?” with a tone in her voice of disbelief.  And I cannot agree more with her.  I do love this rain too.  Maybe it’s because I was born in a city where just like in Portland, it rains a lot.  I love the sounds it makes at night when all is quiet and I hear it falling.

… I heard that one of my youngest Chilean nephew got accepted in College.  They are growing up so fast.

… saw this beautiful video.

… I read this knowing already that knitting was awesome.

… she’s made some re-decorating.


and I love it that there is always coloring books and pens and other craft projects happening in her room. DSC_0042

… Lucas made two knives one day in his blacksmith day Trackers (I need a better picture of the knives…)


… heard people talking about sites and people actively not recruiting people to move to Portland.  About moving to Portland and funny to read this one on why it sucks.  How to apologize for moving to Portland. And why you shouldn’t move here, including the Don’t move to Portland, Oregon website.  Even that the drinking water here doesn’t fluoride made it to one of the lists.  So funny to read.

And also about current events

Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland.

… I’ve enjoyed so many cuties mandarines lately.  They taste good in January.  And it’s a good color to help brighter those gray skies this time of the year.

… I want to find this picture of Ruth Wakefield, who we just learned invented Chocolate Chip Cookies.  We all agreed here at home, she needs to be in a frame in our kitchen.  So the search begins…

Ruth Wakefield. I found this photo here.
Ruth Wakefield. I found this photo here.

And of course, a little online search and we can find her recipe.  Did you know about her?


We might need to try her recipe soon!  I know someone here at home who’s been baking cookies lately who would love to give these a try.

… have enjoyed learning more about Dr Jane Goodall as we learn together with the kids, and especially love this photo that I found from a post on her Facebook page (Roots and Shoots) about her from a photo take last year by Annie Leibovitz and showing in her new exhibit New Portraits, opened until few more days in London. 12662611_10153917636052171_5497767465872540340_n

About Jane Goodall… “Inspiring, determined, patient, hardworking, passionate, trailblazer, observer, explorer. Dame, peacemaker, primatologist, conservationist, changemaker, hero, activist, vegetarian, mother, grandmother. A global citizen. Saving species. Healing our planet. She walks the talk. She’s the giver of hope.” (Take from here.)

And of course, from there I read about Amy Schumer’s tweet about her almost clothes-less portrait of her in the exhibit.  So many beautiful photographs… I wonder if we’d be able to see this exhibit somewhere in the world, while it tours… San Francisco is the closest city, but I’d take any city!

… there’s been lots and lots of building.  There always is.  but this one is especially fun because it relates to what we are studying… it’s Jane Goodall’s house in their Lego City (more to come later.)

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… both Siena and Lucas got a fit tracker thingamajigger.  They each chose their own style, with what they needed them to do.  they are excited about seeing how many steps they do.

… there’s been some basketball but we are getting ready for baseball season.


… we’ve had lots of swimming, and even more exciting meets to come this month.  I can’t wait to see what happens. Her wall getting more covered with ribbons each month.


An exciting time around here. So much happening with these growing kids.  I am always amazed at what they can do.

Hope your February is a fun month too.


A winter walk and some reminders

I’ve said it before, and I say it almost every day, I love where we live. And I love the rain too.  It makes where we live, the beautiful place it is.  I am glad I took my camera.

DSC_0004 We were lucky to go for a walk at a park we don’t usually go to, with a good friend and two happy dogs.

DSC_0010 DSC_0014And two happy kids.

DSC_0012 Green.

DSC_0008White. Snow. Berries.

DSC_0017 Winter sights are there, waiting for us to discover.  Dormant.

DSC_0020 Bare.

DSC_0021 Colors.  Textures. Delicate.  Subtle.

DSC_0025 DSC_0027 Brown.

DSC_0030 Shapes.  Sharp.

DSC_0032 DSC_0033 Red.

DSC_0034 Water.

DSC_0035 Black.

DSC_0036 Gray.

DSC_0037 Clouds. Rain.

DSC_0038 Orange.

DSC_0041 Yellow. Life.

DSC_0044 Levels.

DSC_0046 Open.

DSC_0047 Happiness.  Freedom.

DSC_0050 Dried.


DSC_0052 New.  Alive.

DSC_0055 Space.


DSC_0060 Water.

DSC_0065 Work.

DSC_0066 Life.

DSC_0068 New.

DSC_0074 Air.

DSC_0076 Sky.

DSC_0078 DSC_0079 DSC_0081 DSC_0082 DSC_0088 Green.

DSC_0087Thankful. Friends.


the last few weeks

2015 has ended and a new year has started. Lots of celebrating and happenings for us.

… my nephew graduated from high school, in Chile.

Graduacion Emi

… we celebrated Mark going around the sun one more time.

… we celebrated the year ending, with friends.

… it snowed and we played outside a lot. The kids more than us, but what a beautiful sight!

… we took longer than usual to pack up our Christmas decorations.  We started one day, and quickly realized that no one wanted to clean it up because we wanted to have it around for few more days.  So we did.   We cleaned up, re-arranged a little, cleaned up the shelves, the books, clothes… I am hoping I can get rid of things a little at a time, here and there.  But I like the cleaning after the holidays and giving me a chance to start anew.

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… I really loved the snow and cold days we had last week.  Besides everything glistening, being more quiet, it let us have Mark at home a little longer.  And it’s so rare for us to have snow fall, that it has a feeling of a party.  Something to celebrate for sure!

… love seeing the library’s posts online.  Especially of this Woodstock branch photo in the 1930’s I think it says.

Multnomah County Library : Woodstock Branch in 1930’s.

… I got our New Year’s card ready, written, addressed and mailed out.  Before Easter!

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… I’ve been thinking what projects I’d like to make next.  With the holidays and gift giving over, I feel the  need of something new in my needles, or on the cutting board.  I have some ideas, but I also know we have a craft fair coming up in two months, that I need to get ready for.  This is the first time we are doing a fair not during the holiday season, so we need to have spring items.  Of course, Siena is already ahead of me, she’s so organized and on top of things.  I am glad.  But I need to get myself going now.

… We started a new unit in homeschool, and it’s exciting.  I really enjoy new starts and this one they picked, is a fun one.  I’m excited to see where it will take us.

… beautiful recording on NPR.

… got together with some friends.  I am so glad we pulled it off.  My family used to do Art Night once a week with the kids, for few years and it was a lot of fun.  I really miss it.  I used to get together with friends for Craft Nights, and it seems that sometimes life gets in the way.  I am glad we decided to do a little bit of catching up and some art.

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… I’ve been awakened (awoken?) every day by my kids (who are earlier risers than me), with some snuggling, and breakfast set on the table, with scrambled eggs and warm chai waiting for me.  Thank you my (not so little) little guys.  You know how to wake your Mamá up!  It is such a treat.  I think I’ll try not to ever get up before you do!

… there’s been talk of baseball here in the house.  Lucas is playing basketball this year, and even though he’s enjoying it, he really us waiting for baseball to start.  We are all excited and a little nervous about how it will turn out this year.  We just had such a great team and coaches and parents that it’s hard to think of anything different.  We are excited.

… Learning more about great organizations.


This picture of Dian Fossey and her work with Gorillas, celebrating what would have been her turning 84 years old.  And I think this is so cool!  A Google doodle made in 2014 for her 82nd birthday.


I love those doodles they put on the site.

… read this article about how colleges might change the way they look at high school applicants.  I like the idea of focusing more on a greater good rather than overachieving and making our kids become super-human.  Healthier all the way around.

… Siena got some ribbons!

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We are so proud of her!  Her hard work is paying off and she sees it and is excited for what she can do, all because of her commitment.  It makes my heart happy seeing her excited and loving so much what she does.

… I enjoyed seeing all the photos from Scott Kelly from the International Space Station.  And this funny video too.  but oh the pictures…

Andes Mountains from ISS by Scott Kelly Jan 2016
Andes Mountains from ISS by Scott Kelly – January 2016
First flower grown in space Scott Kelly ISS- January 2016
First flower grown in space. Photo by Scott Kelly at ISS – January 2016.
Paris from ISS
Paris from the ISS. Photo by Scott Kelly. December 2015.
Southern tip of India- Scott Kelly SSI January 2016
Southern tip of India from the ISS. Photo by Scott Kelly – January 2016.

I really, really hope he makes a book with his images after he returns to Earth in a couple of months.  63 more days!  I would have freaked out by now being enclosed in such a small space.  I guess that is just one reason I am not an astronaut.


A meet in Corvallis

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Corvallis has a beautiful aquatic center.  We’ve never been there, so it was fun to get to see it. DSC_0103 copyDSC_0013 copy

They have bleachers downstairs by the pool, but also upstairs with windows, making it much cooler.

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We watched the meet from up there, more comfortably unless when Siena was racing.DSC_0025 copy DSC_0026 copy DSC_0027 copy

The first race of the day, the Medley Relay.  Siena did the butterfly.DSC_0028 copy DSC_0044 copy

Soon after that, she had the 100m Butterfly. DSC_0049 copy DSC_0055 copy DSC_0057 copy

She did great.  This is the race she’s going to State Competitions next month.  We are so proud of her.DSC_0020 copy

We watched from up there.  The team relays, other teams, her team mates.  I really enjoy swim meets. DSC_0073 copy DSC_0075 copy DSC_0077 copy DSC_0082 copy 100 backstroke.  And then to an evening in Corvallis.  A short visit to OSU campus and bookstore, and to watch crazy OSU fans get ready for a basketball game on campus.

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A second day of swimming.  This meet, Siena had her sessions in the afternoon.  That was very nice for a change not to have to wake her up super early, when her body is not quite ready to start the day. DSC_0095 copy A calm pool… for a little while.

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I do enjoy seeing and feeling the energy the swimmers bring.  Everyone getting ready, putting caps on, goggles, waiting by the end of the pool.  All ages, from different cities. DSC_0108 copy

The official says over the speaker that the pool is open for warm ups, and there they go.  Sometimes there’s music and the kids sing, do a little dance in the water or while waiting for their turn to dive.

And then we play Where’s Waldo Siena? I like finding Siena in the midst of all the swimmers.  Trying to find a girl, with blue swimsuit, a cap and goggles… in a mix of 300+ swimmers, most of them wearing dark swimsuits and goggles… the caps narrows her down.  But we can almost tell which one she is by her swimming style. DSC_0109 copy And we wait and wait.  Knitting in hand.  Yes, knitting always helps.

DSC_0131 copy Lucas gets ready to film her.

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And then she races.  If she could do more of those 1,000 m races, it would give us more time to watch her swim.  but for the most part, 1 or 2 minutes tops, it’s quick, and then more waiting until next race.  This one is one of my favorites.  Her 200 IM. DSC_0149 copy Butterfly. Backstroke.DSC_0154 copy Breastroke.DSC_0166 copy Freestyle.  And she’s so close to a State time.  We are crossing our fingers for the next meet to see if she can make it.DSC_0172 copy

The weekend is over and we are heading back home.  Some tea, a frozen juice to snack, and some more knitting while watching the pretty scenery go by outside our window. DSC_0175 copyBye Corvallis.  You are as pretty as always.

Happy New Year!


Thank you for coming to visit here this little space of ours.  I feel lucky you spend your time here with us.  I hope this new year brings you health, joy, and I think we all wish for peace and love.

I am excited for this new year and the promise of so many new beginnings and adventures.  I hope it comes filled with them!  I wish you that too and that all your wishes come true.

Happy 2016!  From my family to yours.

snow day

For real this time!  It snowed today, and we had freezing rain too, and we got to play outside with it all. Such a treat.  I love it when we get snow.  I just wish we did more often.

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Everything was covered with a thin layer of white powder.  It was maybe an inch or two.  So pretty though.  DSC_0073 copy DSC_0084 copy DSC_0091 copy DSC_0093 copy They rode their bike to pull each other in the sled, behind.   We talked about which one should wear the helmet… no injuries thank goodness.

DSC_0096 copy Just fun!

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After playing on the street (with no cars pretty much), we headed to the park, to The Hill.

DSC_0138 copy The pool, covered and frozen.  Different than the summer sight.

DSC_0139 copy DSC_0142 copy The park beautifully dusted in white.

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There wasn’t much snow to slide down very fast, but the little that there was, was frozen.  It worked just fine if you ask them!DSC_0161 copyDownhill!

DSC_0174 copy DSC_0181 copy This is now.  And this is…

DSC_0004 copy…six months ago.

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The streets are quiet.  Not many cars drive by.  You can hear the bus going by few blocks away, once in a while, with chains.  Some people walking, mostly walking.  Some doing their run on snow today, others in bike too.  Some with strollers, and most kids and families, with sleds.  It’s a snow day in Portland for sure.  A beautiful and fun day.  Feels like a party.

DSC_0191 copyDSC_0190 copy DSC_0192 copy                 DSC_0196 copy Snowball fights.  Running, making snow balls, hiding them.

DSC_0201 copyDSC_0216 copyDSC_0198 copy DSC_0200 copy  Watch out!

DSC_0210 copy Is it from Christmas Story movie?  Can you really get your tongue stuck to a pole?  Maybe not today…

DSC_0217 copy DSC_0233 copy Watch your back!


DSC_0004 copy New friends arriving.  New game.  New place. New snow… but less of it around!

DSC_0007 copy DSC_0017 copy But watch out!  There are four baseball players throwing snowballs! Myself?  Few quick pictures and then getting out of the way… just in case the target moves.

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Then inside for some hot chocolate. (In my other new cup I received for Christmas! I love it!  The perfect size, the cute design, the shape… I am lucky!) DSC_0020 copy

Yup!  Snow today. We are hoping for a little more for a no school day tomorrow.  We wouldn’t mind having Mark another day at home.  We’ll have to see. DSC_0021 copy

the most beautiful snow

We live just over an hour away from Mt Hood but we don’t really go there in the winter, very much.  I am not a skier, and Mark, even though he grew up skiing, stopped going many years ago.  I don’t know why we did it, but it wasn’t in the list of things we wanted to do in our free time, even in all those years before we had kids.

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Siena was about 7 when we first went skiing with her, the first time in many years for Mark and I.  She loved it.  She learned very quickly, and it was on her third trip to the mountain that she skied in the black diamond runs.  She was fearless.  That winter, Mark and Siena went skiing one day, and on their way back, they had a car accident, and our pickup was totaled.  They were both OK, but the scars were more than physical.

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After that, Mark worried to drive in the snow, and Siena cried and worried even just thinking about going to the snow.  So we stopped, for the most part.  We’ve done a little here and there, to get to the snow, but take care of choosing the days and the weather we are driving in.  When we pick the Christmas trees, we stay in the main roads, they need to be plowed, and we haven’t been able to go if it was snowing.  Slowly, she and Mark, are getting ready to get up there again, or in any snow, really!


With all the rain and cold we’ve had, Mt Hood was looking beautiful from the city, so we decided to go yesterday.  We woke up to a rainy day in Portland, which meant snow up in the mountain.  We headed up anyways, knowing we might need to stop and come back if the road was looking too much for Siena.  Hot chocolate in the thermos, snacks, jackets, warm pants, hats and the chains on hand.

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Snow was on the ground much lower than what we’ve seen and the rain turned into snow quickly.  Book on their mp3 player trying to distract Siena from the white stuff all around us, was doing little.  Mark decided to put the chains on, but struggled to get them on since we haven’t done it in many years.  Lucas helped and then Siena helped put them on, and we were on our way.  I think it was a great thing for her to help, I think she felt she was helping with the safety of the driving.

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I am glad she did, because the sights were the most beautiful I’ve seen in a long time.  The road was not bad, Mark was a little more relaxed since Siena was a little more relaxed.  It was a good trip and the view outside our windows… just incredible.

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There were lots of people on the road and up sledding.

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Fresh powder, snow, still falling. Is there anything better than that?

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A little sun trying to come out, but the clouds were passing by, and snow was falling the whole time we were up there. Small, beautiful flakes.

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I know, each to our own.

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This view was amazing.

DSC_0159 copy DSC_0161 copy DSC_0162 copy If I could put my some day cabin right here, it would be a lovely thing.

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A parking lot full.  Some coming others leaving.  Some alone or in groups doing alpine skiing or snowshoeing.  Others with snowboards or skis coming down from a day in the snow.  And yet others with littler ones, crying with the cold after just having arrived, or maybe after playing for a while, or crying because of a fall, or just tired from a day outside.  Others happy, with rosy cheeks, tired from carrying those sleds up and down the hills. Everyone for the most part, enjoying this beautiful day.

DSC_0167 copy Us, with two tired kids, cold, happy and with rosy cheeks, and hungry.  Ready for a snack and in time to get back to the city for some swimming.

DSC_0168 copy The sun still trying to make an appearance.

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Siena in the back seat with Lucas, listening to their book, I think less worried after a safe and fun day up in the snow.  Little steps.

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And this sky, the clouds, the sun, the trees, the snow…

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This is our Oregon. It is just a wonderful place.

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We crossed this snowplow and to my delight, everyone was still excited to see it working on the road.  I think it’s a very cool truck!DSC_0183 copy DSC_0186 copy DSC_0184

Happy, filled with cool fresh air.  I couldn’t have asked for a better day.