In the kitchen

IMG_1882 copy IMG_1885 copyThe other day I made this new recipe of Peach Pecan Crisp.  It was really good warm.  The kids and Mark had it with ice cream (I don’t like mixing it like that.)

IMG_1890 And then Mark finished it off for breakfast I think, because it was gone just like that.  So I think  at least one of us really liked it and gave it a 10 (in our food scoring system.)

And talking about food, I found this video about food.  A good reminder.

IMG_1518 IMG_1511 IMG_1513 Another day I made this Crackly Banana Bread from the Smitten Kitchen, and I must admit it was the best banana bread I’ve had in a while. I liked the crackly part… I gave it a 10, and I am not sure what everyone else did, but I am making it again. (Since I am the one asking for scores and manage the whole food scoring system, if I like something, it’s in the repeat binder.  Fair, right?)

Siena made these Cake Pops. They look so pretty!

IMG_2015 IMG_2147 Siena had a Swim-A-Thon last week, where the kids had to swim laps for 1 hour and 20 minutes.   As many laps as they could. So we set up a table of snacks for them, because we know how hungry these swimmers get.  We made these really good Pumpkin Chocolate Chips Cookies that I had printed the recipe from many years ago (10 maybe?)  The funny thing is that we had to make a lot of cookies, and I debated.  But we went ahead and made a triple batch of first-time cookies… but anything with chocolate can’t go wrong, right?

I changed it a little for mixing 1 cup all purpose flour and 1 cup of whole wheat.  They were good.

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And another found recipe from my pile, but newer (Cooking Light, May 2015) was this Marshmallow Popcorn Treats (with dark chocolate drizzle.) Also a keeper and liked by the kids.

It takes time to go through my too many pieces of magazine clips and printings from online recipes, but I do enjoy getting the new ideas and new recipes to try.  From dinners to desserts, to snacks and breads.  They are all a go and then are either discarded or kept.  This system is actually working for me right now.  But the pile of recipes to go through and try are too many.  There is no way we’ll make all these recipes in a year, or two, or even 5!  Besides, I have all those books in the kitchen too… but it’s working, and it’s very inspiring.  And a real plus if we find a meal that everyone enjoys.  That is a 10 in my books!

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These two helpers I am really enjoying having around the kitchen.  They are a keeper as well.

Portland Thorns

Few weeks ago some friends invited Lucas and Siena to go see a Portland Thorns Game.  Siena came back home that night with a plan.  Her friend mentioned she really wanted to buy one of the stuffed bear with the Thorns t-shirt, but I guess she has lots of teddy bears, and wasn’t sure if she wanted to spend her money on that.

So the next day, Siena asked secretly to her mom for one of her friend’s special teddy bears, so she could “Thorn-ize it.”  Our friend’s mom (also a friend), brought two of her special stuffies, a Thorns buff, and Siena got to work.

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She knew exactly what she wanted to do.  She is so good at that.  She has a vision and can bring it to reality.  I love watching her do that.

IMG_1457 She used an old t-shirt and cut it and sewed it to make it fit to this dog (I think it is.)

IMG_1458 She glued and sewed the Thorns logo from the buff.

IMG_1461 After much thought and some trials, this other stuffy friend got a scarf and a flag.  Siena tried to make him a t-shirt, but was harder because it is a hand puppet.  So then she tried a vest.  I think this was the best idea.

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That same day, Siena took them to her friend and I guess she was surprised and really liked them.  Now they are also ready to cheer the team.  Go Thorns! 

Barking again

IMG_1375 Every couple of years we put new bark in our backyard, where the chairs and picnic tables are.  It makes it look so nice and clean and neat again.

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But we have to dig out the old bark so it doesn’t get too high and go over the edges too much.   This year, all that hard work, was mostly done by Siena and Lucas.

IMG_1414 They did so good and worked really hard to make it happen.  Because there were only few hours in between swimming or baseball.  The rain was coming.  And the bark chips had been delivered to our friends’ from yard and couldn’t leave them there for too long.  The job had to be done.

IMG_1415 And they did it all.  Dug it all out.  Placed it in the backyard.  Wheelbarrows after wheelbarrows of cedar chips brought from few houses down.  Almost 4 cubic yards of bark.

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I helped with the hydration, of our first lemonade-rhubarb drink over ice.  At the end, sore hands and muscles, with few blisters, and tired arms they saw their hard work look so beautiful, and for what they say, smelling so good too.  Thanks to the youngest two in our family, we have a beautiful backyard sitting area, ready to be enjoyed many, many times by us and our friends.  We are ready for spending our time out there.   Thank you you two.

Making : new pillows

IMG_1492 After making the quilt with the indigo dyed fabrics from last year, I’ve been thinking and planning on making a few other things.  I really like the blue…

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So I decided to make a pillow for Siena.  She had asked me if she could keep the quilt in her room, and I thought it looked nice in the living room, to have for those moments someone needs something warm (I know we are not short on blankets, we have lots of other quilts handy as well, but I guess it is fun to see it laying around, since I just made it.)

So I made a (modern) log cabin block for the front and just added the back, with a fold over.  Easy to change the cover (to that Paris cover I made them last year.)  IMG_1505 I thought this fabric for the back matched the blue tone in the front, and I knew Siena would like that.

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(Having it outside in that blue chair, might be a little too much blue but I liked the light outside.)IMG_1499 IMG_1522

So for a day or so the pillow was in the living room, and looked really good with the indigo quilt.

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Siena likes blues.  She really does.  I think it might a connection to the water (and pool and swimming) she loves so much.  She did take her pillow to her room soon.  And after I looked around for the quilt, I knew exactly where I would find it. IMG_1874

It does look cute in her room.  And I like it that she likes keeping it organized and matchy.  And what else can I ask for, right?  Sneaking Mama-made things to her room, to make it look nice is a real compliment.  I’ll take it!

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So then I made a new pillow cover for Lucas.  I’ve had these baseball fabrics for years, and it is baseball season after all!

IMG_1871 It jumped from outside. To inside.

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To Lucas’s bedroom.  He does have few things red and polka dots, but not everything.  It is just when he chooses this comforter, everything seem really dotted and red. IMG_1879

I’ll keep sewing if I’ll get this model to show me how good it works, right?

My Mother’s Day Clematis

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I’ve written before about this beautiful corner in our garden.  The entrance to our vegetable garden.

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It is in full bloom, and I love watching it and taking photos.  As if each flower is different and each year as well… I know they are, and at the same time, they are so similar and identical in beauty. IMG_1438 IMG_1834 IMG_1846 IMG_1836 IMG_1848 IMG_1835IMG_1847

Happy Mother’s Day Weekend to all the mom’s out there and especially to My Mamá.  Feliz Día Mamá.

Last few weeks…

… Lucas lost a half a tooth and then 5 days later he lost the other half.  Does that mean the Tooth Fairy comes half way and then the whole way? Does she leave half the coins?  How does he have to deal with this situation?

… there’s been more playing out of doors.

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… we went to the beach and spent just a short hour on the beach (itself) and many hours inside an indoor pool.  This time, I wouldn’t take it any other way.  We are so proud of our big fish.  She did great in that swim meet.

… I played a few games of Mahjong.

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… I went to the store and then came home to this on his window.

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(Please don’t look at the rotting, and paint chipping windows… it’s in our list of things to do around the house, together with the roof, the chimney, the rotting porch, and oh yes, windows.)

… the two boys in our house got a hair cut.

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… have been cleaning a little here and there.  There always seems to be piles anywhere you look.

DSC_0097(And yes, we need to already put the Easter decorations away.)

This is how Portland gets its name

Portland (Oregon) is called The City of Roses.  And yes, it is a sight worth seeing, each and every spring.

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We have this small, unkept rose bush, and it flowers every year, and I love seeing that little bit of color in that corner of the yard.  But it is those who know Roses, that I enjoy the most seeing their gardens.

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And of course, visiting the Rose Garden up in the hill is a real treat.

But it is the rhododendron what always fills my heart the most at this time of the year.  When we first moved to Portland (and didn’t spend our spring weekends in swim meets or baseball tournaments), and we hiked in the woods more frequently  that I enjoyed and amazed at the size of wild rhododendrons, underneath the tall canopy of trees, in the middle of the forests.

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Last weekend, without going too far for a hike, just a walk in the neighborhood, while the kids warmed up and waiting for the baseball game to start, I noticed these beautiful plants in front yards.

IMG_2051 The delicate colors and flowers…

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Oh the colors….. against that bright blue, I think this orange made the top of my list that day. IMG_2069 IMG_2070 IMG_2089 IMG_2084 IMG_2086 IMG_2078

I think Rhododendron should be Portland’s middle name.  Portland, The City of Roses and Rhododendrons (and Azaleas).

Spring in the second half of this April

IMG_1556Brighter and longer days, sometimes dark and fluffy clouds sprinkling above. Spring skies I call it.

DSC_0100More and more time spent outside.

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All of our Mason Bee homes are almost full.  It is really fun to see them fly around and help them with their life cycle. IMG_1443 IMG_1408 The porch Clematis is starting to grow.

IMG_1409I think our Lemon Verbena survived last winter… probably because I didn’t touch it, Mark did all the handling.

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Spring is here, and some days feel like summer has already arrived.  I will share a whole week of garden and nature posts, to celebrate the beginning of May.

And by the way, Happy World Naked Gardening Day today. 

Making :: a baby blanket

One of Mark’s co-workers and friend, just became a grandma.  And so I had to make a little baby blanket.

IMG_1363 I cut up 5×5 squares of flannel.

IMG_1364 IMG_1366 Sewed them together.

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And ta da!IMG_1369

He’s a little boy, so I put a truck flannel in the back with a fabric I had bought to make something for Lucas… and I never did.  So I am so glad I got to use it for another little boy.

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I put a cotton batting and didn’t put binding, I turned it instead, to make it with soft edges.

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I didn’t get a picture of it finished(darn it!), but I ended up tying it with blue cotton thread that I think tied it well with the blue in the back.  I just love flannel blankets and their softness.