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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Posted in Celebrations, friends, Summer | 1 Comment

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.

Posted in locals, Oregon + Washington, outdoors, Summer | 4 Comments

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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Posted in locals, Oregon + Washington | 2 Comments

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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Posted in Food, gardening, Handmade, Recipes, Summer | 2 Comments

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.

Posted in family, Oregon + Washington, outdoors, Summer | 1 Comment

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!

Posted in Food, Recipes | 1 Comment

Making : Sauerkraut

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Few weeks ago we had some friends over for dinner and we realized we didn’t have any of our home-made sauerkraut.  Because we were grilling sausages, we had to go buy some, and I realized how much I prefer the one we make at home.

So, I got a cabbage and made sauerkraut few days ago.  It is still fermenting, so I can’t say how good it is just yet, but I really like making it.

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Thanks to the publisher of the book I usually use, I was able to post the recipe two years ago here in the blog. I used the same one this time around.

DSC_0003 copySlice.

DSC_0005 copyPut the salt. 

DSC_0007 copyMassage the cabbage with the salt for about 10 minutes until the juice starts coming out. 

DSC_0008 copyThen pack in in a jar with a lid.

DSC_0009 copy DSC_0011 copyPack it firmly, so the brine covers all the cabbage. 

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Posted in Food, Handmade | 1 Comment