Summer Luvin


A few things I’m loving about this (finally!) sunny season:

Finding garage sale vintage canning supply bargains along with priceless advice from the original owners.

Exploring an edible/learning garden at a nearby school. Being grateful that it exists.

Reading my good friend and partner-in-strawberry-picking-crime’s cool new blog.

Enjoying my craft room (reunited, at last).


Discovering new worlds and creatures through Holden’s eyes and imagination. Laughing when he corrects my dinosaur name pronounciation.

Loving Esme’s summer strawberry infatuation and glimpsing the end of the teething tunnel.

Journeying from the city over the mountain through the farm to the desert, and back again. Seeing Reindeer in sunshine along the way.


Reuniting (and staying up much too late) with some favorite cousins, and watching the next generation of cousin-friendships form.

Dinosaur Cousins

Savoring pesto barley soup with CSA veggies (I’ll share the recipe on Veg Friday).

Receiving gifts from the earth, via my babes.

Dandelion Sweater

Knowing we are making summer memories for years to come.


Friday = Veggies

Thank you, spoonful of sugar girls, for awarding me this lovely Arte y pico award. Aside from winning an Atari 2600 when I was in grade school (woohoo!), I’ve never won anything in my life. I wish I could bake you (and all the sweet blog peeps I’ve met) some virtual cookies or have a virtual barbecue or something. But I’ll just say thanks instead!

June Garden

I’m showing off our sweet growing garden here. I’m so proud of my little veggie babies, making their way into the world despite our novice gardening skills. As with parenting, I'm a bit overprotective and am learning, ever so slowly, that they do just fine if I let them figure things out on their own (veggies and kids).

Chocolate Cosmo

And this is our newest chocolate cosmo hatchling, Holden’s favorite flower. Truth be known, Holden adored the idea of this flower before he even met one in person because, come on –- a flower that smells like chocolate? What 4-year-old wouldn’t love that?!

Lemon Verbena

And onto the veggies... (Is this getting boring? Maybe I’ll just highlight the newfangled interesting veggies that we meet each week). We were almost successful in using up our entire CSA box in one evening with the help of my brother and his little fam. We made grilled veggie sandwiches with herbed goat cheese spread using the carrots, onions and zucchini, and Esme ate the entire batch of grilled garlic scapes before anyone could partake. The spinach and English peas went into the quinoa and the lettuce, cucumbers and radishes, along with some mint and feta, made up a green salad. Poor lonely bok choi had to spend the week in the crisper all alone, but he’ll be front and center on our dinner plates tonight. I froze the strawberries since we were way too full to eat "just one wafer-thin berry" (sorry, couldn't resist the monty python reference after spending an evening, let alone my childhood, with an MP-obsessed brother).

Lettuce + Kale

We’re getting fava beans today and I’m reeling with excitement. REELING, I TELL YOU!!! We're also awaiting: salad mix, snap peas, zucchini, garlic, white turnips, cauliflower, italian kale, and basil. I'm feeling a Pesto-making session a brewin'!

Happy weekend everyone!


The Desert Life


Hi friends! We’re back from our whirlwind tour of Central Oregon, aka visiting the fam. Along with two family get-togethers and plenty of wild animal sightings (deer, quail, and friendly neighborhood piddle bugs), Brian and I partook(?) of the grandparental babysitting opportunity and snuck out for a windy, twilight-y game of tennis and a feast of beer and nachos at the local pub one night. Ahh, simple (and cheap) pleasures.


Anyway, we came home to a house free of angry kitty bombs (yay!) but piled high with dust bunnies. I don’t know if it was this awesome preserving class that I took before we left, the pleasure of staying in a spotless home (both my mother- and grandmother-in-law put that june cleaver slacker to shame), or the fact that my blogging buddy slash cousin extraordinaire is visiting tomorrow, but I suddenly felt an overwhelming urge to be domestic.

(Edit: we found two angry kitty bombs hidden behind the couch this morning. kitty is getting stealthy in her revenge tactics!!)


So I took advantage of this rare opportunity by putting on some jeff tweedy, rolling up my sleeves and…making a list. But topped that magical little list with “clean entire house” and then set to it. TGFL.


I’m also re-energized on the crafting front and have a multitude of small projects in mind that I’m pretty excited about. This one here in particular that I finished the embroidery in the car. Carsickness: what doesn't make you puke makes you stronger, right? Ugh.


But, first things first. Gotta go catch up on blogs, clean some more and plan a veggie fest for cousin Ryan since he refused to eat the quinoa salad and black bean brownies that I made for the fam-fests. May the force of veggies be with you, cousin Ryan.


The Revenge of Veg Friday

[the pics depict holden's first kite flying adventure. much more entertaining than a still life of veggies, methinks.]

The sun has only just peeked it’s bright face here in Portland these past few days, and I don’t want to scare it away by being overly optimistic, but we’re planning a teensy tiny smallest of small summer solstice celebration this evening. Really, no big deal Sun, so if you retreat, we will not cry. Well, maybe just a little.


We’ll build some fairy houses, kiss the trees, maybe sing one song and attempt to eat the entire contents of this week’s CSA bin (plus last week’s spring onions and garlic scapes) in preparation for leaving town on Monday. I don’t want any sad veggies left pouting alone in the crisper next week. So that’s the plan.


Here’s what last week’s veggie adventure looked like:

We ate lots of quinoa salads using the zuchinni, cabbage, arugula and spinach. I love this salad because it welcomes any orphan veggie that I don’t have a recipe for (BTW, quinoa is pronounced “Keen Wah,” I should’ve mentioned that, sorry. Also, you need to use seasoned rice vinegar, not the regular unflavored kind. And did I mention quinoa likes to be sung to? Just a little ditty or limerick, it has quite a sense of humor. Hee)

My favorite bin item was the cabbage. So crisp and sweet, it replaced our regular green salad for a few nights. I added thinly sliced apples and the sugar snap peas and made a vinaigrette using seasoned rice vinegar, sesame oil and olive oil. Yum.


I cooked the rhubarb with the strawberries, lots of ginger and some mint into an ice cream-topping compote. Brian won’t go near strawberries so the kids and I are still working through our jam jar of this. Yum again.

And as I mentioned, we’ll be MIA next week, getting spoiled visiting the grandpeeps. I was trying to decide between bringing my laptop or my sewing machine, and decided to bring neither. None. Nilch. Nada. I’m bringing some hand sewing and the pile of books I’m reading and zero pressure to finish either. So have a lovely solstice, weekend and week, my friends. I’ll be back here sometime next week! xo


Attack of the Killer Finger Glop

I tried to make homemade finger paint today, inspired by this post using this recipe and well, some days competence just isn’t in the cards. Rereading the instructions now, I'm embarassed to tell you just how much cornstarch I really used and which ingredient I completely forgot. How one messes up a 3-ingredient and 1-step recipe, I do not know. I did manage to get the colors right. I tried out turmeric in place of the yellow food coloring and am happy to report that it courageously held its own. Go turmeric!


Esme took the Jackson Pollack approach (although I’m not sure if JP actually stomped on his paintings?) and Holden did his foraging for found objects thing with his. And then we all retired to the backyard for an old-fashioned hose-down.


The kids were good sports and asked if we could "do that gloppy thing again someday?"

Yeah sure, let me just write down that recipe...


Gawd Dammitch

While I was catching up on some cleaning yesterday, I could hear happy Esme noises emanating from the craft room where she was deeply engrossed in play. I listened to little cooking phrase murmurs, orders barked at an imaginary Holden (real Holden was in Tuesday preschool) and general two-year-old ramblings and thought ahhh, I could listen to this sweet serenade all day…

And then as I listened closer I realized that she replaced her gibber-gabber monologue with “Gawd Dammitch” muttered over and over. And it wasn't stopping.

Two year old that she is, little Esme is big on imitating these days. So whatever we say, be it a kind ‘thank you’ or a not-so-kind swear word barked at a crazy driver in frustration, comes right back at us in a slightly higher octave. Since I’ve been in practice for over 4 years now, I’ve got my swear word replacement skills up to par. So, I did what any clean-mouthed mom would do and blamed the swear slip on my husband. [ahem]

After mustering up the courage to march into the craft room and ask my two-year-old to please stop swearing (without laughing), I was met by this scene.

Playdough Party

Esme’s first tea party! Her floppy guests, each seated semi-comfortably around the craft table, were being graciously treated to her legendary playdough sandwiches. And then I realized that “Gawd Dammitch” was not the swear slip that I thought. It actually translates to “Got Sandwich!!” She was hostessing, not cursing imaginary drivers like I’d imagined!!

Playdough Sandwiches

The playdough is homemade batch using this great recipe again with turmeric for the coloring. The yellow is very bright and sunny, a contrast to the current weather conditions here in our drippy northwest.

Oh and I guess an apology is in order, for silently accusing my husband of tarnishing the sweet mind (and mouth) of our impressionable young child. Apologies, my clean-mouthed sweetie.


From the crazy kitchen that brought you chocolate beet cake…

Introducing the newest of freaky dessert concoctions…black bean brownies! They give new meaning to the term “special brownies!!” Impress your friends, fool your children and add a little eccentricity (and protein) to your meal!

Black Bean Brownies

The recipe is here (scroll down to the bottom of the article) which I tweaked beyond recognition, but I did use black beans and it tastes like brownies so I’m still going to reference the recipe. The texture is ever-so-slightly bean-ish, like if you think really, really hard about black beans while eating it. But otherwise it tastes like flourless chocolate cake. I added cardamom and sprinkled chocolate chips on top before baking which I think masked whatever lingering bean taste may have existed.

Next up…rhubarb!! (Is rhubarb supposed to smell like stinky sweat socks when you cut into it? Not feeling the rhubarb love just yet…)


Sweet One

Sydney Cake Face
Our sweet niece celebrated her very first birthday this past weekend. We partied it up, one-year-old style, with birthday cake in our eyebrows and all.

Soft Book Front

And I finally get to share the secret project I've been working on for awhile (right on up to the last second before Brian dragged me from my sewing machine to leave for the party). See? I told you this was a craft blog!

Book Page1

True to form, I seriously underestimated the amount of time this soft book would take to complete. So much so, that the entire last page is missing [ahem].

Book Page2

But baby Sydney didn't seem to mind and happily chewed away on it as is. Mission accomplished (and many thanks to grommet boy for saving the soft book day!)

Seed Packet

I also made these party favors for the kiddos (and some adulto's) to remember the occasion: little envelopes filled with echinacea seeds. I tied the bows in the car on the way there and nearly tossed my carsick cookies. But it was all worth it to think that a new little flower may pop up and reveal her bright, sweet face somewhere and remind someone of our equally sweet-faced little niece.

Esme Run

It's been months since my poor kids last saw the sun, so they appropriately ran screaming with their hands flapping in the air for most of the party.

Esme Cake Face

Aside from the time they spent devouring birthday cake.


And here's the money pic - the screensaver that the grandparents have been waiting for all their lives... The one- two- and four-year-old grandchildren, all in one picture and not freaking out, crying or beating on each other. Priceless.


Our Guy

You lift us high

And you comfort us.

You amaze us every day

And feed our hungry minds.

You show us the path, but let us find our own way.
Thank you for being our most favoritest guy in the world and happy father's day to all the amazing daddies everywhere!


Veg + Strawberry Friday

We got off to a good start on the meal-making, then sloooowed waaaay down on the cooking enthusiasm by the end of the week. We used up all the CSA veggies, so goal reached, but not exactly as I intended to use them. As long as the veggies get to where they need to go (our tummies) who really cares, right? I also totally spaced it on the picture taking thing. Setting up a still life during the mayhem of dinner has no place in our routine yet. So I’ve included some pics from our berry picking excursion today on Sauvie Island. Perfect day, not quite perfect berries yet. But we had fun!


My BFF stayed with use last weekend, so I planned some pampering-style dishes for her. Saturday we grilled sausages and onions and I made baked hedgehog new potatoes with yogurt mint dipping sauce from, you guessed it, Super Natural Cooking. The dipping sauce became a quick favorite, so I sliced the cucumbers and carrots up as dipping implements. We also made a bok choi salad with apples and fava beans. I’m not sure if you’re supposed to eat bok choi raw, but it was so fresh and yummy we couldn’t resist. I also used the bok choi in a tofu scramble
(again, from Super Natural Cooking – I told you I’m boring).


And my new fave: I made burrito bowls on Sunday (burrito sans the tortilla) with faux burger crumbles, brown rice, cheese, and corn. We had a ton left over on Monday, so I threw everything in the food processor with a couple eggs and some breadcrumbs and made veggie patties. I just shaped them and pan-fried them in olive oil until crispy on both sides. We had them on the arugula, with the yogurt mint sauce again. Holden wasn’t super fond of it, but Esme loved it. This will be a mainstay on our menu list, especially since it takes care of two meals. I love that one-two dinner punch combo!


So I think that’s it? Oh yeah, the broccoli… Holden, Esme and I had steamed broccoli dipped in peanut butter for dinner one night when Brian was out. That’s right about when I lost my “what’s for dinner?” enthusiasm.

Happy weekend everyone!


Mudpies and Recipes

Holden: SelfPortrait
I promised a few peeps that I would post this recipe for our current fast, easy, healthy dinner solution. This falls under the "It's 5pm and we're sitting outside making mudpies and I haven't even thought about dinner today" category.

Quinoa Salad - 30 min.
If you haven't had quinoa, you gotta try it. Trader Joe's sells it in a little vacuum packed box, but you can also buy it more economically in grocery store's bulk bin sections. We eat it alot, so i've stocked up. So here's what ya do:

Add one cup quinoa and two cups liquid (i use chicken or veggie stock and if i'm out of those, i use water and add 1 tsp of Better than Buillion - love that stuff) to a pot and heat until boiling, then turn down the heat and simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes or until the grains absorb all the water.

Transfer to a bowl and let it cool (or you can eat it hot, too). I usually make it ahead of time and we have it warm.

Add some olive oil and rice vinegar and let it sit for a while to absorb those flavors.

Add stuff! I usually add whatever veggie is available, raw or cooked, nuts and cheese. Leftovers work really well in this, too. My favorites are beet, fresh spinach or arugula, goat cheese and walnuts (although you have to add the greens while still hot so they wilt). Then add a little bit more rice vinegar right before serving. It doesn't make a TON, so if it's the main course i usually make a salad, too, but we typically have it as a side dish. It's yummy, and if you bring it to a potluck people will gobble it up. Just don't let on that it's good for them!

And a mud-pie maker's self portrait above. Just cuz.



a confession, blasphemy and new shoes

Like many other peeps out there in the world, I'm going to see the new Sex and the City movie this Thursday with some girlfriends. We'd planned on dressing up, but seeing as it's still 54 degrees and raining in Portland, we ixnay'd that plan (although, the SATC girls always seem to endure freezing NY temps wearing next to nothing). But here's the confession part: before 2 days ago, I'd never seen a SATC episode in my life...gasp!! I know!!! SCANDALOUS!!!

I honestly think I'm the only person on Earth that didn't know what a reference to "Mr Big" meant before I borrowed all the seasons from my BFF (thanks, step!). But now, I know.

Is it ok that I think the main character is a whiney, shallow egomaniac? Is that all part of the premise? I'm only on season 1. Does she grow up? Or will that be the premise of the movie? Ooh, don't tell me...I want to be surprised!

I'm sorry to bad mouth this show, but so far I'm not hooked. And I hate that Carrie smokes. But I do love the clothes...yes, the clothes are vicarious eye candy to this SAHM who will never step foot in a Manolo Blahnik. Sigh.

Speaking of shoes...must show Esme's newest wardrobe additions (thanks again, step!) These are all "pre-used." Can you guess which ones were hand-me-downs from her brother?


Red patent leather mary jane doc martens...I want them in my size!!!

You can't tell from the pic, but these are pink and brown and about 3 sizes too big.

And of course, Holden had to model his beloved dinosaur boots.

OK, off for more SATC!!


Is it Veg Friday already?

beluga lentil crostini
Well I guess so, as I have box #3 of our CSA staring me in the face. I have plans for you, little veggies…don’t you worry your pretty little veggieheads!

We had some vegetarian friends over for dinner which encouraged me to come up with alternate protein sources (I should mention now, with my head bowed in shame, that I have a degree in nutritional toxicology, of which I remember next to nothing. Sad, sad, I know, but I’m working to relearn it all).

fava shucking

For Saturday’s veg fest, we made beluga lentil crostini, quinoa salad with fava beans, fennel, spinach, walnuts and feta cheese, grilled veggie sandwiches (fennel, asparagus, onion, zucchini) with pesto mayo, and chocolate beet cake, included for its conversation-inducing properties. In fact, at your next dinner party mention the word “chocolate beet cake” and see what kinds of philosophical conversations ensue

The Rapini (aka broccoli raab, but I prefer “rapini” since I have no idea how to pronounce “raab”) was crazy yummy sautéed and tossed with pasta. I only got a couple spears as my little broccoli enthusiast turned to my plate shortly after inhaling his share.


The carrots became
carrot orange soup (yummy for spring or winter) and the radishes and lettuce were salad-bound. Much of the spinach stealthily snuck its way into the kid’s peanut butter sandwiches. Esme caught sight of it after her first bite, stared at it for awhile, then apparently deemed it “sandwich appropriate” and continued on with her meal. Whew.

I had a chance to read through
Super Natural Cooking this week and plan most of next week’s meals out of it. I can’t say enough good things about this book, so I’ll just show you next week with photos and menu items. How does that sound?


Here’s this week’s bin: Baby Romaine, Arugula, Cucumber, Baby Bok Choi, Broccoli, Carrots, Fresh Garlic, Fava Beans, New Potatoes. Wish me luck and have a peachy weekend!