Neighborhood Nature Walk


When the kids have abundant energy, and the weather is unusally dry, it’s time to bundle up and walk to Grandma and Grandpa’s.  The kids brought a basket to collect items for the nature table on their way.


We’ve been reading books about Thanksgiving, but also about late-autumn as we prepare to shift into the winter holiday.  The kids were anxious to add items to the nature table while it is still decorated for autumn.  (At the end of the month,  the table shifts over to Advent and Winter decor.)


George had more fun jumping in the leaves than collecting them.


Bea brought her whittling gear, so that she and Grandpa could make spoons when we arrived at his workshop.



Ruth, enjoying the crunch of the leaves.

More soon – crafting and good things from the kitchen!


Early September in the Garden/ Transitions

Purple "de Milpa" tomatillos.  As tasty as they are beautiful.
Purple “de Milpa” tomatillos. As tasty as they are beautiful.

Well, the photo editor/uploader issues with WordPress haven’t been fixed yet, but I’m going to try and get a few images to upload for this post.  I wish the uploader would cooperate, and I could share photos of all the garden is producing – Sunchokes 10 feet fall, baskets (and bellies) full of “Fall Gold” raspberries, ducks laying pale green eggs every day, broody chickens, yarrow and salvia and dahlias splashing every corner with color…

I love the transition of early September, when we are just beginning to be weary of summer, but not quite ready for the dreariness that Oregon offers the rest of the year.  The plants and bees are frantic to do their work before fall sets in, and the cooler weather and episodes of rain have re-greened every inch of the garden.  The front and backyards are bursting with tomatoes, tomatillos, summer squash, chard, kale, elderberries and ripening quince, winter squash, and apples.


Runner beans are beginning to dry.  Looking forward to a few pots of soup from 1 teepee's worth of vines.
Runner beans are beginning to dry. Looking forward to a few pots of soup from 1 teepee’s worth of vines.

The difficulties of malfunctioning WordPress haven’t been a bad thing, really.  Taking a break from blogging and my FB page has been a good thing for me – less stress, more free time with the kids.   I have learned to roller skate (never skated as a kid!) and am training with Ruth and Bea for roller derby (they play, I fall a bunch and try to learn a fraction of the skills they have acquired).  I ended up falling at skating class and jacking up my left arm, so typing is slow and one-handed at the moment (another reason to take a break from blogging).  (I am very much looking forward to getting back on skates when the splint comes off in a week or two – I may not be a good skater (yet!) but it is something I can do with my girls, good exercise, and a fantastic way to release a lot of accumulated anxieties, worries, frustrations.)

Bea picking dahlias and lavender, both of which are still producing abundantly
Bea picking dahlias and lavender, both of which are still producing abundantly

Time late at night that I would normally spend blogging or reading other blogs, I am now spending exercising and strength building for derby and working on writing projects.   I really miss reading what other blogging families are doing, and seeing other mom’s beautiful handwork and culinary creations – through them I find so many good knitting patterns, book recommendations, recipes, home-education inspiration.   However,  it is also stressful for me and a lot of feelings of inferiority well up with each blog post I view.  The more I read about lives that run so much more smoothly than my own, and view those carefully chosen images, the more I stress about dust bunnies in every corner of my house, kids with tangled hair, house projects unfinished, and piles of unfolded laundry.  When I take a break from the blogosphere, I feel more centered and enjoy my family more, because I am stressing less.  And with the start of our homeschooling year and having a kindergartener, a 3rd grader and a 5th grader, plus a very active 2 yr-old, I need less stress.

Orange beefsteaks with red cherries in the background.  Near the house, the beds are overrun with red and yellow "Brandywines" and "Mortgage Lifters".  We've been eating "Sun Gold" cherry tomatoes with nearly every meal - so delicious on omelettes or in salads.
Orange beefsteaks with red cherries in the background. Near the house, the beds are overrun with red and yellow “Brandywines” and “Mortgage Lifters”. We’ve been eating “Sun Gold” cherry tomatoes with nearly every meal – so delicious on omelettes or in salads.

So, after sharing this morning’s photos from a few hours in the garden with the kids, I’m not sure when I’ll be back.  I probably won’t be posting regularly for a while, but I will be back now and then to share some of the good things happening in our lives.

Bea picked a handful of lavender for "secret potions"
Bea picked a handful of lavender for “secret potions”
Sweat Meat winter squash vining through the kale
Sweat Meat winter squash vining through the kale
Brandywines with oca (Oxalis tuberosa) and cucumber underneath.  We're getting more big ripe beefsteaks this year than in the last three years combined.
Brandywines with oca (Oxalis tuberosa) and cucumber underneath. We’re getting more big ripe beefsteaks this year than in the last three years combined.
Rows and rows of beautiful beneficial (though inedible) mushrooms spring up in all the paths after it rains.  They breakdown the woodchips and release nutrients into the soil.
Rows and rows of beautiful beneficial (though inedible) mushrooms spring up in all the paths after it rains. They breakdown the woodchips and release nutrients into the soil.

Blessings on you this month as the seasons shift.  I hope September is as energizing for you as it has been thus far for our family.


(Edit:  I realize WordPress is having issues right now – all my photos are loading sideways, and while they look fine on my Dashboard, they appear flipped on their side in the final post.  Working on it!)


The past few mornings have felt like September with their crispness, and we’ve started out the day in sweaters.  And yet the afternoons are the best that summer in Oregon has to offer with blue skies and warm breezes.  So, of course we’ve been taking advantage of the gorgeous weather and spending every possible moment outdoors.   Every evening we’ve taken long walks, and most days we head to a playground in the city after swim lessons and garden chores.


Sunday we played hooky from church, packed a picnic lunch, and went for a day hike in the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge.  The paths are wide and easy to navigate for toddlers like George who want to walk/run like the big kids (“No backpack!  I walk!  I WALLLLKKK!”).


And the wildlife!  We saw frogs and birds and insects and fish at every turn in the path and every pond.  Bea tuned-in to every call of every bird, particularly the Orange-Crowned Warblers and Song Sparrows.  But the highlight of the afternoon is when a Bald Eagle flew very low to the ground, directly over our heads, and landed in an adjacent tree.

If you haven’t made a trip out to the Refuge, we highly recommend it.  And we’ll be traveling back again to see the migratory birds moving through in the fall and spring.

I’ll be back later this week with some knitting, spinning, and maybe a few new recipes.  But for now, it’s back outside to soak up that sunshine.


L’Arche Christmas Tree

  Each year, we visit the same tree lot to pick up a little table-top Christmas tree which will sit in the window seat.  It is a tradition we really enjoy, and we’re thankful to be able to support L’Arche in our small way.

L’Arche, is a wonderful organization that serves adults with disabilities in many communities.  From the Portland chapter’s website:

At L’Arche Portland people with and without developmental disabilities work together to create home and build community. Those with developmental disabilities form the heart of our shared life and invite others into mutual relationships. We welcome each person’s unique gifts and challenges, and offer opportunities for personal transformation. We trust in God and live as a sign that love, respect and interdependence are the path to a peaceful and just world.

Look how big these girls are getting?  Very grateful that we had a dry day to go pick out our little tree, and that cousin Ruby could join us again this year.

Over the next week or two, we will slowly decorate.  First up is the star, followed sometime later by a string of lights, then a night popcorn and cranberries, and one more night for ornaments and mini candy canes.  The children like the undecorated tree for acting out all sorts of woodland play with their toys, so no one is in a hurry to get the ornaments up.

As we finish making up our Advent wreath, getting decorations out of storage, reading Christmas books aloud in the evening, we are anxious for the season of Advent.  As we enter this special time in which we anticipate the arrival of the Christ-child, a Light in the darkness.

Each year when we pick up our tree, I am reminded of L’Arche champion Henri Nouwen’s words on compassion, and how they ring so true at this time of year, when the God of the universe fully immersed Himself in the human condition in order to extend compassion to Humanity:

Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.
― Henri J.M. Nouwen

Joining with Taryn for her Gratitude Sunday as we enter into Advent, and all the Hope therein.

On the Oregon Coast

We are home from a weekend yurt getaway to celebrate my husband and our second daughter’s birthdays.  There was a driving rain most of the time, so we skipped the frigid beach in favor of a hike through the woods.

Definitely wool skirt, wool socks, heavy shoes kind of hiking weather.

As we started out, we came across an open space full of toadstools, most toppled over by the wind (or grouchy gnomes perhaps?).

Tucked in under the thick patches of ancient evergreen huckleberries and salal, and sometimes even wandering across the path, were many Rough-skinned newts, with their vibrant orange bellies.  The kids made up names and biographies for each and every one they found.  “Shalbert”, “Mona”, “Jean Grey”, “Jimmy” and the others all were given lengthy and elaborate backstories before returning them to their homes.

After our hike, it was back to the yurt as the rains and wind really began to pound.  In fact, we couldn’t even get a fire going, and resorted to driving in to town for take-out Chinese.  Then we huddled up in our sleeping bags and quilts, listening to Casey read aloud until we drifted off (Daddy does the best voices, after all).

Back tomorrow with our Sunday cider-pressing with dear friends on the coast and some travel knitting.

Swift Watch 2012

So, I’ve come to realize that blogging, even sporadically and ineptly, is really difficult with four busy kids, and a very busy life.  I cannot figure out how to do it without taking time away from the children, or my precious few hours of sleep. (The farm’s FB page is equally neglected lately.) This morning, I sacrificed the latter, getting up long before the children, finishing poultry chores, tidied and swept the downstairs, and folded a basket of laundry before sitting down to a mug of coffee and my laptop.  So, hopefully there will be a few posts up this week.  🙂

Yesterday evening, we said goodbye to summer with a trip to see the Vaux’s Swifts at the Chapman School.  For bird nerds like us,  it had been far too long since our last Swift Watch,  so we threw together a packed dinner, snagged some toys and blankets and headed out NW Portland.

There is a steep hill next to the school, and all the children bring cardboard to “sled” down while waiting for the birds to start spiraling in.

While we waited, I got a little knitting done (trying to finish socks before the cold weather sets in) while chatting with friends.

George played on the blanket and flirted shamelessly with the women sitting behind us.

The best part of the evening was watching the Peregrine Falcons swoop in and snatch two swifts.  George just called them “ducks” and signed “birdie”, but he found the whole thing terribly exciting.

I can honestly say that every member of the family thoroughly enjoyed himself or herself, and we are hoping to go again next week.  Best outing in a long time, and if you’re in the Portland area, we’d love to have to join us next time we go.  🙂

Cider Pressing




Some pictures from the cider pressing party last weekend.  It was also my husband’s birthday – I’m so glad he had a great time! (We all did!)


Most folks brought apples from their own trees and also gleaned many from abandoned orchards along country roads.


Apples were washed, wormy parts and bruises removed, and then cut in half or quarters to fit into the grinder.


Ground apples in one of the two presses on site.


Little Hen was strong enough to crank the smaller press. (The electric grinder is the wooden box behind her on the back end of the press – SO much quicker than the hand-grinding we did in the past!)


The girls carrying the pressings to the wheelbarrow (they’re heavy!).  The pressings will eventually to be buried back in the orchard, although while we were there, the deer kept snacking on them.


Tum Tum liked to hang out by the wheelbarrow.


Pressed cider, waiting to be strained through cheesecloth and bottled.


A small fraction of the finished cider – most folks froze theirs, but I canned mine, since our freezer is pretty well full.



The girls even got a chance to ride the zip line (thank you, Jody!!), which they have been talking about nonstop since. ( I’ve been informed by Firecracker that I need to plant some really fast growing trees, so that we, too, can have a zip line in our yard. )


Thank you for a wonderful time, Teacher Linda!

Paper crafting – freestyle


The past month has left me feeling stretched pretty thin because of obligations and responsibilities to my family and others.     Tackling domestic duties and  “home schooling” the girls while my non-stop motion toddler “explores” the house into a distaster zone has also been a challenge.  Crafting has been particularly tricky – Tum Tum either attempt to eat or destroy anything the girls are working on – and he’s especially good at climbing up on the kitchen table and flinging art supplies across the room in a lightning flash.


This day, he took a nice long nap after lunch, so as soon as he was sleeping,  I quickly whisked out some craft supplies for the girls to do a little fall paper crafting.  We didn’t have anything in mind  – I put out some supplies with a vaguely autumnal theme and let the girls’ creativity lead them.



We had a huge pad of fall-colored  scrap book paper (on clearance for $3 this past summer at Michaels),  paper scraps, some oatmeal and coffee tins, glitter glue, sequins, etc, chrysanthemum and maple leaf punches (I am addicted to the Martha Stewart craft punches – whenever they have one of those 50% off the sale price ” coupons and the Martha Stewart items are on sale, I snatch one up.).  After punching out some maple leaves for them, I went into the kitchen to make brownies, and let the girls explore on their own.




I love what they came up with – Little Hen’s (left) is a “treasure box” (it’s hard to see in this shot, but she wrote “treasures” on it) and Firecracker’s is a bank for “collecting coins for Heifer”.



We saved the last canister for Tum Tum, who was happy to turn it into a drum after he woke from his nap.  🙂

Note : I hope to get back to some more regular posting by the end of the week.  Life has been a bit overscheduled I just haven’t found the time to sit down at the computer much the past few weeks.  We have some family birthdays, out of town company, and a trip coming up, so I hope to squeeze in some blogging late at night!!

World Forestry Center


Over the weekend, we took advantage of the Smithsonian’s annual free pass day to visit the World Forestry Center, located right across from the Oregon Zoo.  The building is light and open, and the exhibits are well designed, educational, and attractive to children.



There were displays appealing to many senses – here Firecracker is smelling the oils from different culinary trees and trying to guess their origin.   Euclayptus had her stumped – she said it smelled like “Burt’s Bees something…but that’s not quite right.”


Little Hen played the tongue drums for a LONG time – and has been reminding me daily how “if we ever find any tongue drums on Craigslist, maybe we could get them.”



Of course, all Tum Tum cared about was the MACHINES!  That boy signed “more car” and made engine revving sounds all morning.  “Driving” the timberjack and the jeep totally made his day.


Little Hen spins a Tibetan prayer wheel.


Hope you get a chance to visit the World Forestry center – for my kids, it was a chance to try their hand at some really fun virtual experiences – like parachuting as a smoke jumper, running a timberjack, river rafting and riding a jeep in Africa.  But, it was also a chance to learn more about good stewardship of our resources, the importance of conserving forests, and the blessing that their products are to us and to people all over the world, and the value in renewing those forests for future generations.  A very nice little museum -I’m glad we got a chance to visit.

Vaux’s Swifts


Kortney at One Deep Drawer told me about the congregation of Vaux’s swifts in NW Portland, and this week we made it over to the Chapman School to see them.   For a bird nerd like me, it was a huge thrill.


We set up early, with hundreds of other families, enjoying our picnic dinner (homemade hummus, Greek yogurt, tomatoes, flatbread, pear sauce), and reading books until the sun began to set.



The school had some well-made signs up about swifts – with sections at the bottom geared for children.  One sign suggested we try  tracking one swift in the sky as long as possible before losing it in the swirl of birds (which we did!).  We learned from another that a single Vaux’s swift can eat 5000 bugs a day!



Then, the swifts began to congregate, and we got out the binoculars to watch.  It was truly breathtaking to watch the birds spiraling together and hear their constant vocalizations.   And the evening only got more spectacular as a Cooper’s Hawk attempted (and finally succeeded!) to catch his dinner from the cloud of birds.   The crowd reacted in unison to his swoops and dives – it was quite a show!



I wish I had a better camera that could have captured just how stunning the whole display really is.   If you’d like to learn more about Vaux’s swifts, and see some better images of their temporary residence at the Chapman School, check out this segment from Oregon Field Guide –

Oregon Field Guide – Vaux\’s Swifts

Hot Cocoa Mix


Today Firecracker and I are attending our church’s fall kickoff of our monthly Ladies’ Breakfast.  The pastor’s wife is hosting at her house, so we thought we’d take her (and her daughter – Firecracker’s friend) a little hostess gift when we go.


Earlier this week, we went to to the thrift store and picked up a little basket, lined it with an embroidered linen hand towel (from my stash).  We also found two little silver spoons, and paired them with two vintage Japanese tea cups and saucers.  The tea cups had a glossy opalescence that Firecracker really liked  (“the inside of the cup looks like a soap bubble!”).  To round out the Mom and Daughter Afternoon Cocoa basket, we made a batch of Not-Too-Sweet Hot Cocoa Mix.

If you’d like to make some cocoa mix of your own (which I prefer to store-bought, because it isn’t overwhelmingly sugary), prepare to get messy!  You’ll need –


Sift together 2 cups powdered sugar and 1 cup dutch-process cocoa and 2 tsp cornstarch (no lumps!).


Then stir in 1 tsp salt and 2 1/2 cups powdered milk,


and finally, add a large pinch Ancho Chili Powder.  (The original recipe is from Alton Brown’s website (love Good Eats!), although, the first time I made it, the girls didn’t like the cayenne, so now I use the Ancho chili powder, which is very mild, but provides a hint of smoky pepper flavor.)


Stir all ingredients together, and store in a large jar, sealed tight.  To make up a cup, fill your cup 1/3-1/2 full with the mix.  Add hot water, milk or coffee to fill.  Enjoy!

Hope your weekend is filled with peace and good fellowship.

Bartlett Harvest


Saturday,  I was blessed with the opportunity to ride with another family of volunteers out to Mosier, OR (in the beautiful Columbia Gorge) to glean pears for Birch Community Services.   The weather was very rainy, windy, and chilly, so I was grateful that the children could all stay home, snuggled up reading their latest chapter book with Daddy.


The five of us wore large canvas pear-picking bags, and picked 40-50 lbs of Bartletts off of the trees at a time and then unloaded them into large crates.  Due to the windy, rainy conditions, I didn’t get any pictures of the actual picking, but here you can see a fraction of what we picked.  The owner’s of the orchard estimated that we picked close to 2200 lbs of pears!!


You may ask, why were thousands of pounds of beautiful pears sitting unpicked, unwanted on the trees?   Well, the owners explained to me that there isn’t any profit in Bartletts – they cost $120/crate to grow,  but can only get $180/crate on the market – so by the time they pay workers to pick them, and absorb the cost of transporting them, they actually lose money on the Barletts.

The farmer makes his living growing Bosc pears for market.  So, why grow Barletts at all, then??  Bosc pears command a much higher price than Barletts, but the trees are not self-fertile, and require another pear variety for pollination.  So, for every 4 rows of Bosc pear trees planted in the orchard, the farmer must plant a whole row of Barletts in order to reap a crop.  The Barletts are generously left available for the gleaners.


After picking over 8000 pears to donate to BCS, we were allowed to harvest for ourselves as many pears as we could put up  – so I have over 150 lbs of pears sitting on my kitchen floor to ripen over the next week!  I’ll be dehydrating and canning pears and pear butter non-stop late in the week and over the next weekend.   Bring some jars and you’re welcome to join me and take home canned pears for your family, too!   I’d love to have your company!

For more on the culture and history of gleaning, check out my favorite (and oh-so-French!) documentary – Les Glaneurs et la Glaneuse (The Gleaners and I).

Day hike



Some pictures from our nature hike at Mt. Tabor Park (which is fast becoming our favorite day hike – right in the middle of the city, great hills, great hiking, lots of nature to examine and exlpore!).   Check out those helicopters!



Firecracker stood for a long time and watched the water pouring in at the reservoir.



Little Hen picked me a bouquet of wild pea blossoms.  Sweet girl.


Firecracker got pretty tuckered out in the middle, so it was Daddy to the rescue!



Stop in at The Magic Onions for more Friday Nature Table sharing.  Follow some other families on their nature hikes at It’s a Wild Life, Living and Learning, Garden Mama, and Ordinary Life Magic.

Have a blessed weekend.



We took the children for a quick visit to the Oregon  Zoo (the best part of having a pass, in my opinion, is that you can pop in for an hour or two and just see a few things, so the children don’t get maxed-out).  This visit, we decided to go with a bird theme (surprise, surprise).


Tum Tum signed “bird”  and said “cheep cheep” pretty much non-stop the entire morning.  🙂



We saw the penguins and the African bird aviary, but by far, the kids’ favorite stop was the Lorikeet exhibit.

I hope these last days of summer provide you with some fun family outings as well.

County Fair


Last week we traveled north to Ridgefield, WA for the Clark County Fair.   The kids’ aunt and uncle, niece, grandparents, and great-grandparents met us there for an afternoon full of livestock viewing, carnival rides, and ridiculously unhealthy food.




All of the kids enjoyed the hula-hooping contest, and my niece (with the white ribbon in her hair) took first place!


And of course, we had to have a little fair food – this is a deep-fried Snickers.  So deadly.




We spent a long time in the poultry barn – I kept having to bend down so Tum Tum could get a good look at the birds.   He especially liked the runner ducks in the pens outside, and had a nice little conversation with them.



I’m sure like most spinners, my favorite place is the sheep barn (well, maybe tied with the produce competition…or maybe the preserves table…so hard to choose.)  They had a nice spinning demo and information on Kool-Aid dying fiber, and lots of 4Hers had entered their fleeces for judging.


It was hard not to be envious of the gorgeous wheel the volunteer was using.   She asked Little Hen if she knew how yarn was made, and Little Hen answered, “Of course, my mama uses a ‘drop spindler’ and makes her own yarn.  Someday we’re going to get a fancy wheel like yours and then I’ll get to learn how to use it. ” I don’t think that was quite the response the woman expected.  (That girl is never short on answers.  6 year-olds can be so…confident in themselves, can’t they?)


Have you been to your local county fair?  Or state fair?  We’re hoping to make it to the Oregon State Fair one of these years.  I hear it’s a must-see.

Thanks so much for all of the comments on my giveaway.  I never expected so many!  I hope to have another giveaway soon.  Winner will be announced later this evening.  Thank you!

Orange Julius Recipe


To make this  refreshing, healthy summertime snack , you will first need 4 medium oranges.   Give them to the kids and let them roll the oranges around on the counter and between their hands to prep them for juicing.


Juice the oranges (you should get about 1 cup of orange juice).  If little hands are helping, I always put down a kitchen towel – juicing oranges is a messy task for a 4 year-old (or a 30 year-old, for that matter!)


If you like, throw in a chopped peach or a handful of strawberries or a mango for another layer of flavor and nutrition.  Put these in the blender.


To the blender, also add 1 cup of whole milk (or a nut milk would be yummy if you don’t do dairy, but you might want to decrease it to 3/4 cup),


one tsp pure vanilla extract,


and a scant 1/2 cup organic, unbleached sugar (or  4 Tbsp honey)  (and our oranges were very sweet, I could have cut this back even more).

Puree for 20 sec, then add


ice! Just have the kids drop them in a cube at a time until it’s a thickness that you all like.



Enjoy! (I know my kids did – Tum Tum kept signing to his sisters for sips! )

Don’t forget to check out my giveaway post! Thanks!

Larksong’s Orange Julius

4 medium oranges, washed and juiced to yield about 1 cup orange juice

1 peach or mango, chopped, or one handful of strawberries (optional)

1 cup whole milk

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

scant 1/2 cup sugar or 4 tbsp honey, to taste

ice cubes

Directions – Place all ingredients in the blender for 20-30 seconds, then add ice cubes one a time until desired consistency.   (Extra good with a bit of whipped cream on top.)

Morning on the Farm


Some more shots from yesterday’s trip to Sauvie Island Farms.


Little Hen in the raspberry canes,


where we found an old abandoned nest, lined with feathers and seed fluff.


Firecracker helped her auntie pick blueberries.



And the flowers were absolutely stunning.


The biggest surprise of the day was finding a nest with four baby birds in the middle of the marionberry canes.  They sat very still as we observed them.  It was a real treat – the nestlings were clearly Cedar Waxings (the black face mask and yellow band on the tail were telling signs), which are one of my favorite birds.   The nest was right at eye-level for the girls, so they got an excellent look.

Please come back tomorrow – I’ll be having my first giveaway.  Thanks!



The peaches are ripe on Sauvie Island!!!!  We took advantage of the cool weather this morning (65!!) and went to pick some with my sister.



The farm was lovely, as usual, and the picking easy (I love how so many of the branches are very low, so the children can pick easily).  Little Hen tripped and hurt her leg right at the end, which put a damper on things, but Auntie Jen took us all to Hot Lips Pizza (everyone’s favorite!) for lunch afterward, so the trip ended with lots of smiles.  🙂


And 57 lbs of beautiful ripe peaches later… I am camped out in the kitchen making batches of jam and canning sliced peaches.   Some will be peeled, sliced and frozen, as well.  And of course, some little children around here will polish off quite a few, too.    The aroma of cooking peaches filled the downstairs, and Firecracker kept running into the kitchen just to inhale deeply and then run back to playing with her sister.

Tomorrow, more pictures from our morning on Sauvie Island.  And a giveaway in two days!

Magic Potion


At day camp this week, Little Hen made a magic potion, which she has been applying on everyone – to cure anything from splinters to a grouchy mood.  She loves bestowing “goodness” on everyone.

Here’s her recipe as she dictates it to me ( how she remembers it from camp)

Magic Potion Recipe by Little Hen

24 handfuls of shredded beeswax

a medium sized jar of canola or olive oil (not sure which)

a whole boquet of flowers (such as roses, clover flowers, and every type of flower you can think of)

Directions – First, take some flower petals and soak them in the oil overnight.

The next day, strain the flowers from the oil.  Then, take the oil, put it in a pot and sprinkle in the shredded beeswax.  Put the pot on the stove and turn on the stove.  While you do this, you tell the fairies what magic things you want your potion to have in it (like good things to help people).

Pour  the melted potion into jars and let it cool down for half an hour so you don’t burn yourself.

To use it, get some of the potion lotion on your finger and put it on your owie or whisper a wish and rub it between your eyes.

I hope you like this.  – Little Hen

Some Waldorf Magic


Little Hen has been at Waldorf Art Day Camp (and thus immersed in magical-make-believe) for the past two weeks, .  Her sister misses her terribly while she’s gone (“Is it time to pick up sissy yet?  Is it time to pick up sissy yet???”), but we’ve been trying to do something special in the mornings – just Firecracker and me (and sometimes the baby in the backpack)  – a trip to the coffee shop for steamers, a visit to the craft store, a walk to the park, making brownies, that kind of thing.

So, here’s some of what my artistic 6 year-old has been creating this week of magic and sculpting –


A magic wand made from a tree limb, yarn, wire, and a piece of quartz


A fairy sculpture from wooden beads, wire, modeling beeswax, and tissue paper.


a wet-felted bumblebee, and rope and embroidery floss-sewn hive (which went straight on the nature table).

While camp has been a wonderful experience, it will be good for Little Hen to have a break next week, and for all of us to reconnect and plan some special outings and activities as a whole family.

Sauvie Island Strawberries






Pictures from our weekend outing to Sauvie Island Farms.  We picked over twenty pounds of strawberries – we ate as many as we could fresh, baked a few cakes (subbing-in whole wheat for half the flour), then put enough in the freezer for two batches of jam and lots and lots of smoothies, pies, and other goodies.

There couldn’t be a better way to spend a Saturday morning – picking strawberries with friends, and anticipating all of the good things to make from the harvest.  I love these early summer weekends!

We’ll be back at Sauvie Island in July to pick raspberries and peaches.  We’d love to have you to join us!

Spring-into-Summer Nature Table




While not technically summer, the very warm, sunny weather of late has been pointing us in that direction.  The girls and I have cleared away the spring table and begun to gather items for our summer table.  It’s just beginning to take shape – rocks from a nature hike, sweet alyssum from the yard, beeswax flowers Little Hen made, some shells from the beach…


We are looking forward to seeing it grow and change as the summer progresses, and also seeing and drawing inspiration from other families’ nature tables.

Some blog and flickr posts that showcase nature tables -  Chickadee Nest,  LadyKnit, Syrendell, Home Baked Education, Granola Girl, Madam Fafa,  Lyneya.

Farmer’s Market






Saturday’s ten-block walk to the Farmer’s Market in the blissful sunshine.   I think it will become a weekly ritual.  We even got to watch the high school marching band rehearsing as they marched around the market.  It was a big thrill for the girls.

Yay for Farmer’s Market season!!!