Monday, November 15, 2010

Leftover Lunch

There is an absolutely amazing disparity in the amount of food consumed in this house when I am here alone, versus when N is here. He is thoroughly hungry with clock-like regularity: soon after he wakes up, snack time, lunch time, snack time, dinner time, dessert, and snack time to fill the cracks right before bed. If he doesn't eat enough, he won't be able to fall asleep and will have to get up in the middle of the night to make another snack. I, on the other hand, am a good eater when I get down to it. But I might forget about breakfast til 11... Or if I wait too long to make dinner I get too tired to cook, and satisfy myself with a spoonful of peanut butter or something else equally silly.

This has created some confusion with my grocery shopping this summer. N was farming 2 1/2 hours away, and only home on weekends. We'd stock up on food and cook lots of fabulous meals while he was here, and then he'd leave and I'd struggle to eat all the leftovers before they went bad. I find myself in this situation again. N came home for a week, then took off to visit his parents and help them rebuild their house. He made a ton of great food during that week here, and then took off leaving me with bits of leftover cheese, random veggies, and several loaves of bread. I'm trying desperately to eat them all up before I leave for my (NINE DAY!! :) Thanksgiving vacation.

It doesn't help matters that I stopped by the PSU farmer's market on Saturday, and came back loaded with produce and cheese and apple cider. I just couldn't help myself:

Anyway, today I made myself a little lunch with some leftover odds and ends and it turned out quite delicious. An open face "grilled cheese."
Homemade bread that was on the verge of going stale, sauteed onions, a hunk of queso fresco, and an astoundingly delicious sweet-hot pepper sauce made from my homegrown peppers.
I toasted the bread for a couple minutes to start, meanwhile sauteeing the onions in a bit of olive oil. When they were soft, I added the sauce over very low heat to warm up. I then spread this mixture on my bread, topped with the cheese, and stuck it back in the toaster oven to brown. So simple, and so good. I don't think I'd ever really had queso fresco melted before, but I will definitely be doing it again.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pumpkin Pizza!

As promised, here are the pics of the pumpkin pizza we ate last night. Unfortunately, I did not get a good photo; I was just so excited to eat this delicious pizza!!

It was pumpkin puree mixed with sage and lemon balm, then topped with caramelized onions (with fig balsamic vinegar), roasted fennel and walnuts. OMG SO GOOD.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Cook in the House

There have been many exciting changes going on around here lately:

I became an aunt!

I got a haircut! (and then had a hard time photographing it)

I got engaged!! (and had a hard time photographing it)

And my wonderful fiance finally finished his farm apprenticeship 2 1/2 hours away. It's been a long 6 months of only seeing each other on the weekends, and I'm so excited to have him back home with me. Not least because he is a CIA trained cook. I love that even the small week night dinners he whips up are so delicious.

Last night we ate grilled cheese with a simple salad of butter lettuce with roasted beets, caramelized shallots and a mustard dressing. Yum! And everything in the salad was grown either at the farm at my work or at his.

We've also been dealing with a HUGE cinderella pumpkin I brought home from the farm this week. We roasted it a couple nights ago, and ended up with about 5 quarts of puree!! I ate some of it for breakfast with maple yogurt and pecans. Then we made a pie last night, topped off with some dark brown sugar and walnuts. Tonight, we'll be making pumpkin pizza! I'll try to post some pictures later.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

One Small Change - October

This small change feels like a big one for me. I've been contemplating it for months, trying to work up the courage to tackle it. Brainstorming different ways to approach the issue. Putting it off.

But finally I've decided I need to face up to the fact that I use the internet Way Too Much. I use it to communicate with my friends, search recipes, get inspiration for crafts or gardening. I look up how to get stains out of my laundry and what kind of chestnut tree is growing across the street, how to get to friends' houses, and the best way to join seams on the baby sweater I'm knitting. I also procrastinate, snoop on facebook, watch tv shows, and a lot of other stuff. You all know what I mean. So much of our life these days is available on the internet - or really centered on the internet. Philosophically, I don't like that; but practically I end up spending a lot of time online every day.

I considered (and have tried somewhat unsuccessfully) setting a daily computer time limit. But I think what I'm going to try for the month of October is choosing one day out of the week that I will not use the computer except at work. The day will probably change from week to week. This week I'm choosing Monday (tomorrow). It's my day off, and so normally I probably would have spent a good chunk of time online... reading blogs, browsing recipes, getting "inspiration..."  Instead I'm hoping to process all the tomatoes I just picked from my garden, ride my bike, finish that sweater I'm working on, do a lot of laundry, write some letters, and read some of my latest library book (Your Money or Your Life). If I need to look something up, I will have to try other methods of finding answers, or write it down for tomorrow. Sometimes I think I've grown all too dependent on instant knowledge gratification these days, so it will be an interesting exercise to cut myself off from it for a short time.

This challenge will save a tiny bit of energy by not having my laptop on all day, but ultimately I'm doing it so that I will have more time for my life, and to live out the goals I've set for myself. The internet has become for me an all too easy time suck to avoid the reality of life around me... I'm feeling apprehensive as I type these words. Tomorrow could be a very long day. We'll see how it goes!!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Arizona Love

When I moved to Tucson Arizona at the age of 10, I hated it. Really hated it. I'd spent the last four years in a pine forest on the banks of a river at the edge of a wildlife preserve in Arkansas. My sister and I would while away the long afternoons berry picking on our bike rides, catching baby turtles, paddling down the river, and attempting to fish (We once fished from the dock every day for an entire summer and caught only one small fish. We sure were determined though.) So having come from such a  lovely environment, I simply couldn't believe that I was supposed to enjoy this new hot, arid home. I kept getting poked whenever I tried to play in our cactusy back yard. There was no soft grass to run around in, just dust and rocks. There were no tall trees, just what looked like scraggly (thorny) bushes to me. There were snakes and scorpions and a particularly huge and hairy tarantula that live in our house and would emerge from the vents at terrifying moments, such as while my sister was in the shower or right over my bed as I was trying to fall asleep at night. And it was hot. Over 100 degrees hot. When someone would try to point out a lovely sunset to me, I'd make bitter comments like "The sunsets in Arkansas were just as pretty, you just couldn't see them because of all the TREES."

But eventually, over time, Arizona won my heart like no other place ever has. I grew to love the "dry heat." I loved the warm, mild winters. I loved the mountains that surround Tucson on every side. I loved watching the spectacular cloud formations and sunsets. I loved dancing in the warm torrential downpour of a summer monsoon, or splashing through one of the temporary rivers it brought to our normally dry washes. I loved climbing on the roof and watching far off lightning storms. I loved how the mountains turned pink at sunset, and how I could see the milky way at night. I loved the visiting herds of javelina that would congregate on our porch. I loved spotting jack rabbits. I even grew to love the particular beauty of the spiny cacti, especially in the spring with their stunning blossoms. I appreciated the cleverness of all these plants that could survive in such a dry place. The way they stored water, grew small narrow leaves, warded off predators, and how some of them would live almost dormant for most of the year only to burst into green growth and bloom at the coming of rain. Yes, I love my desert. And now, living in cold rainy Portland, my heart often aches for it. Don't get me wrong, it's beautiful here too, but I miss the magical desert.

That's why, when I found out I had a month off between Americorps terms at Village Gardens, I knew I had to go back and visit. I recently spent 11 lovely days in Arizona, and I wanted to share a few pictures here.

The first night I was back in Tucson, I hiked Pusch Ridge with my friend Josh. Notice the prickly pear fruit on the right side there. They make delicious jelly if you can get past the dangerous harvest with tongs, and the burning off of tiny spines all over the fruit before you process!
We headed out shortly before sunset, because in the summer you can pretty much only hike at 5am, or at night.

I wish I were better at taking sunset photos, because it was absolutely gorgeous.

Another view of the ridge.

Next my good friend Karima and I went on an adventure to Southern AZ. First we checked out the quirky old mining town of Bisbee that's built into the hills. Then we went out to Cochise Stronghold for some camping and hiking.

This is from our drive down. Aren't those clouds and mountains fabulous?! And look at how GREEN everything is from the monsoons!

Here's a snapshot of a typical building in Bisbee - covered in funky art.

We were very excited to discover, while walking the hills of Bisbee, a fig tree growing on the street level below us.

Kari really liked those figs! hehe. We also foraged some pomegranates, fennel seeds and peaches. It was a very productive walk.
I have a lot of pictures, so I'll have to share some more from my trip later. Just loading these is making me a little homesick!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

August One Small Change

My change for August is to learn to preserve the harvest from my garden and foraging... I've canned jam in the past, but that's pretty much the extent of my knowledge. The past few years I've canned massive amounts of blueberry jam from the berries I picked in Alaska. I made prickly pear jelly a few years back, and I canned some triple citrus marmalade this January.

This summer I want to expand my canning to new and more types of jam. I want to can savory things too, like tomato sauce -- if my tomatoes would ever ripen! I'm also going to learn to ferment and to pickle.

I got an amazing book from the library recently called Preserving Food without Canning or Freezing: Traditional techniques using salt, oil, sugar, alcohol, vinegar, drying, cold storage and lactic fermentation.  These recipes were compiled from readers of a French organic gardening magazine, and many are family recipes passed down over generations. The book is chock full of useful information, and fun recipes like Whole Cabbage Sauerkraut (with 70 heads of cabbage!!), Bottled Swiss Chard Ribs, Blueberries Preserved in Honey, Preserved Radishes, etc. I highly recommend this book for anyone wanting to learn traditional ways of preservation that are easy to digest, and maximize flavor and nutrition.

In the few days of August so far, I've already started on this challenge!  I made some Strawberry Rosemary Balsamic Jam with Black Pepper and some Mint Jelly. They both turned out delicous!

I also made some kimchee/sauerkraut today at my Americorps team meeting! It was awesome. I'll share some pictures and tips later, and be sure to keep you updated on what I'm learning along the way.

By the way, anyone have ideas of good ways to use mint jelly besides on meat? I'm thinking in thumbprint chocolate shortbread cookies... Yum!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Weekend Surprises

One of my favorite things about a weekend away is coming home and checking out what has been going on in my garden:

My first zucchini of the year!!

Yellow Pear tomatoes growing

Squash growing on the vine... I'm hoping this will prove to be dumpling squash, and not pumpkins. At my job, I just take whatever plants are leftover from the plant sales and sometimes they are not labeled. So it's usually a bit of a surprise to see what grows!

Lemon cucumbers!!

I let my cilantro bolt, and I'm very excited to save the seeds for future plantings, and to eat.

Blackberries ripening over the chicken coop.

And lastly, lots of (very dirty) eggs!

This PNW weather has definitely been a learning experience for me. I never would have guessed that at the end of July I'd only just be harvesting my first zucchini, and still holding my breath for the tomatoes to ripen... I'm still waiting for the fruits of summer, but I just started planting for fall -- some more kale, cabbages, brussel sprouts and celery root.

I'll post pictures of the new plants later, but for now there are some zucchini and eggs waiting to be eaten!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Going Green Summer 2010

I have considered myself to try to live "green" as best as possible for several years now, but this past year I have learned a lot and made many changes, with even more slated for the summer. This comprehensive post was inspired by hip mountain mama's anniversary give away. So, in no particular order, just as they pop into my head, here's a little run-down of my doings so far and plans for the summer.

  • I am growing my largest garden ever this year! I've gardened some in the past, but have moved so frequently it's been hard to keep up with consistently. But now my yard is a patchwork of garden beds, and it makes me so happy! I wake up in the morning and first thing go outside to see how my plants are doing. I'm growing tons of greens, onions, tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons, cucumbers, three kinds of berries, grapes and so much more. I am so happy to be able to pick produce from my yard and make a meal. And my current project is planning out my fabulous fall and winter garden.
  • As of three months ago, I have chickens!! Their eggs are so delicious, and they love wandering around my yard and pecking at bugs and slugs. They also love flying over the maze of fencing I've put around the garden and eating all my kale. :( But I just don't have the heart to clip their wings.

  • I don't own a car and so I ride my bike to work, or take the bus. This probably would not have happened if I hadn't moved to Portland, OR last fall! Sometimes I really miss having a car (biking to get groceries in the rain), but ultimately it's worth it. I've found that I feel a lot better emotionally and physically from getting that exercise every day too.

  • Hanging my laundry out to dry. I used to do this all the time when I lived in AZ, but over the rainy Portland winter I've been slacking. Now that it's (finally!) summer I'm hanging my clothes on the line again, and will rig up a rack or line inside for this winter.

  • I'm jamming and canning!  I usually make a couple batches of jam in the summer, but this year I'm way more ambitious. I've already made lots of strawberry jam, and up next are blueberry, blackberry, and plum. I'm so excited to make pickles and can tomato sauce, and I'm also going to learn to ferment! 

  • I've been greening my personal care products -- hardly ever wearing make up and going no poo. Next up: homemade toothpaste and deodorant!
  • Gifts: so far this year all the birthday gifts I've given have been handmade by me, or purchased from local artisans or farmers.
  • I've eliminated all foil, paper towels and disposable plastic bags/wrap from my kitchen, except those pesky plastic produce bags. I often remember to take my own containers to the store for bulk goods, but not always. Also, my boyfriend is a chef and is very picky about his produce. He doesn't like it in cloth bags instead of plastic. Of course, harvesting more veggies from our gardens is helping with this issue!
  • I've been doing this for so long that I almost forgot to mention, but of course I frequent the farmer's markets and buy almost everything organic at the store. I struggle to make it fit into my Americorps budget, but I really try to make buying local and organic a priority.
  • I write letters and call my senators about environmental issues that are important to me.
  • I do pretty much all my clothes shopping, and most home goods shopping at thrift stores. The only things I don't buy used are underwear and socks. I started doing this long ago for budgetary reasons, and the fact that I appreciate vintage style. Now, I do it for my pocketbook and the earth! I love giving a second life to used items.
  • I've dropped my showering to every other day (for the most part) and use an adjustable low-flow showerhead.
  • I moved a few months ago, and just the other day thought about the fact that the water is really hot, and perhaps we should turn it down... When we looked at the water heater, it was set to 160!! We quickly turned it down to 120. I will be interested to see how much of an impact this has on the bills...
  • I use baking soda and vinegar for all household cleaning purposes.
  • Of course, my job is environmentally friendly as well. I work with a fantastic nonprofit called Village Gardens. We work in two low-income communities to empower community leaders through gardening, skills training and leadership. I spend a lot of my time with the two children's garden clubs and in the community gardens. Check out our new blog and facebook page for pictures. I truly feel honored to work with such an amazing organization. Our latest venture is to open a non-profit, community run, local, healthy grocery store in an area that currently has no grocery stores. It's going to be awesome!!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Quarter Century

This weekend was a breath of fresh air.

I must admit that one of the hardest adjustments for me in moving to Portland is the lack of outside time. Being used to the warm sunny deserts of Tucson AZ, I'm not very enthusiastic about camping in the rain. Also, it takes so much longer (and so much driving) to get to a good hike. I miss being able to drive 15-20 minutes to Pima Canyon or Sabino Canyon or Saguaro National Park and get out on the trails...

But N and I took four days this week and drove up to the Olympic Peninsula for my 25th birthday. It poured down rain on the drive up and back, but the weather was gorgeous while we were there. We took a short hike into the Quinault Rainforest, where I was super duper excited to see berries ripening!! This time of year I always have my berry vision on, my eyes eagerly scanning the trail for bright spots of red or blue. N gets a little annoyed after a couple hours of me pointing out every berry I see!

We saw some huckleberries, and some thimbleberries and salmonberries just beginning to ripen.

Then we headed out to Oil City to backpack on the beach. Oh, the weather was beautiful. I wore shorts and actually got to run barefoot and splash in the waves! We saw barnacles, and touched squishy sponges and poked starfish and stared at anemones. We climbed on huge old trees washed up on the beach and found one eyed monsters in the rocks. N balanced rocks and drift wood. One of the things I love about being with N is how well we play together.  We are goofy and silly and excited as kids.

We had some exciting times because we were trying to hike impassable portions of the beach at pretty much high tide. We ended up racing the waves down the beach and pretty much rock climbing along the face of the cliffs to get past. I was missing the security of my harness! But what's a birthday without a little adrenaline, right? We had a lovely campsite to watch the sunset.

After we hiked out from the beach, we headed over to Olympic Hot Springs. I neglected to take any pictures of the springs themselves, because I was just too relaxed soaking in the warm water and listening to the river rushing below. I did take some pictures of our tasty dinner though. Fanciest backpacking dinner I've ever eaten. :) We totally splurged and brought heavy food.

Here we are heating tortillas and roasting sweet potatoes and onions in the fire.

The finished product with some homemade tomatillo salsa. YUM! All in all, a wonderful birthday. I'm one lucky gal.

Also, I can't wait to get back to the Olympic Peninsula for some more adventures!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

One Small Change Update

Wow, this post is long overdue! I was busy moving and settling in in April, and things are definitely not slowing down at work as summer approaches. I've been doing my changes each month, just not blogging about them. So here is a quick rundown of the past few months:

March - The change to the family cloth went really well. I'm still keeping up with it at the new house. I didn't say anything to the roomies, just quietly put my two little boxes in the bathroom and went about business as usual. I love it! So clean and comfortable.

April - I switched to 100% renewable energy on the electric bill. Believe it or not, this is actually the first time I've had a utility in my name. Every other house I've lived in, I just paid utilities to the owner, and not directly to the power company. It adds about $7 to the bill monthly. Not bad!

May - This is a big one; so big that I will be carrying it into June. I decided to tackle my personal care products. I consider myself to not use that many, by normal cultural standards. Here is a picture of the products I used on a regular basis:

In the past I've tried to use natural products as much as possible, as well as keeping it cheap. I'm on an Americorps stipend, after all. I also just plain don't use very much. I've had that deodorant and face wash for about a year and a half now. Anyway, a quick rundown: natural shampoo and conditioner, handmade natural soap, St. Ive's facial scrub, Neutrogena face wash, mascara, eyeliner, powder foundation, mousse, facial lotion, and Tom's toothpaste/deodorant.

My May challenge was to use even less of these products, and to try replacing them with homemade/more natural alternatives when they ran out. For one, I wanted to stop rubbing hormone-disrupting, cancer-causing chemicals in the form of pthalates (or "fragrance") into my face and scalp. I also wish to cut back on my consumption of plastics.  Check out this link for more info: I figure that the extra money I will probably spend on natural products will even out with the money I save on making some of the other products at home.

My first change was to go no poo, which I've been doing for about three weeks. I'm doing the baking soda/apple cider vinegar combo, and it's working great! I don't find my hair to smell like salad, and I only use it about 3 times a week. The other times I just rinse my hair. My only complaint is that I have naturally wavy hair, and I feel like it doesn't curl as well with the baking soda/vinegar.

I've cut way back on how much makeup I wear. I mean I don't wear that much normally, but I used to feel compelled to wear makeup every day. I'd feel naked/ugly without it. When I was in college, I might roll out of bed and go to class in my sweats, but I always took a minute to swipe on some concealer and mascara first.  Now I am very happy that I feel comfortable with a bare face. I think living in Portland has helped with this. There are many women here that I think are beautiful that don't wear a bit of makeup. It was just how I grew up that made me think I had to cover up my face every day. Now I wear it maybe half the time?

Now here is my question for you: Do you have any tried and true recipes for homemade products like deodorant, face washes and scrubs? Please do share! And if you can recommend some natural/organic makeup products, that would be great as well... I need to do more research in this area.

One other change I've made is my toothbrush.  My old one was getting nasty, so I switched it out for an Ecodent toothbrush, which saves money and plastic over it's lifetime because you only have to replace the head, not the whole handle. Genius!

And here's a bonus for making it all the way to the end of this post: one of my fierce little hens. She has so much sass.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

You Know You're A Gardening Nerd When...

You get really excited about free zoo poo!!

That's right folks, one of the big highlights of my week was picking up three truck loads of zoo poo. I work for a small nonprofit in North Portland called Village Gardens. We work in two low-income neighborhoods to empower leaders in the community through gardening and other programming. We've been trying to find an affordable way to get some fertilizer on our gardens, so I was really excited when my Master Gardener class announced that the zoo would be giving away free poo!

We drove down to the zoo on a rainy day, and there were huge piles of hot composted poo. As the front end loader shoveled into it, the piles steamed into the cold gray air. It was a good consistency - looked like it had been composted with straw and wood chips - and didn't smell bad at all.

That afternoon, I had the garden club kids help unload it into the garden. They actually got really into it, and had so much fun mixing it into the soil in our raised beds. Occasionally they would yell out, "I just found a big chunk of lion poo!" Or "Here's some elephant!!" It was awesome. I loved it because it was free, because we were reusing some unexpected materials, and because it will help make our gardens fertile and productive this year. Win win win. We also got on the zoo's list to be contacted in summer when they have more zoo poo ready. Perfect for a little side dressing on our corn.

I should note that we've been really enjoying this whole "zoo poo" thing. We've been keeping a tally of how many times we say "zoo poo" in a single meeting. A tradition at Village Gardens is to start all of our community meetings with a check-in question that everyone answers. Last week, our check-in question was "If you could be any kind of zoo poo, what kind would you be?" hehe. I love my job.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

March One Small Change Update

Well, we are midway through March, and my change is going well. I cut up an old t-shirt to use as "family cloth" and I love it! So soft and it cleans well. Occasionally I just forget and use toilet paper, but that doesn't happen often.

As far as using my vintage hankies to blow my nose on... I haven't had much occasion to use them! I haven't been sick and I don't have allergies, and I haven't cried much this month. :)  I did use them a couple times at the beginning of the month. At first I felt weird blowing my nose on such pretty, delicate fabric - but hey, useful things can be pretty too, right? And they are super easy to launder, along with my cut up t-shirt squares.

A couple challenges I've run into: Sometiems I don't have enough of my t-shirt cloths to last me til the next laundry day. I could of course easily solve this by cutting up another shirt. The more major challenge is this: I'm moving at the end of the month. My boyfriend N and I are currently renting the finished attic of a house, and we have our own half bath upstairs. Thus the other members of the house aren't subjected to our weird toilet rituals, including the family cloth and "if it's yellow let it mellow." I'm moving because N is doing a six-month farm internship about 2 hours away from here, and I need to live somewhere cheaper. So the new house is smaller, and has only one bathroom. I met the roommates on Craigslist, and while they seem concerned with environmental issues, I was too embarrassed to bring any of this up.... We'll see how it goes.

There are really good things about this house though, and these are a big part of the reason I chose it.
1) It is small. There will be 3, sometimes 4 people living there, and I'm excited to share the small space. Small means less heating and lighting, less building materials that went into the house, etc. etc. I've been obsessed with Tumbleweed Tiny Houses for several years, so moving into a smaller house is a step in the right direction for me!
2) The owners have spent the last three years fixing up the house, and installing all energy efficient appliances: washer and dryer, fridge, dishwasher, etc. Woohoo! A big change from my current house.
3) There are chickens!! Five of them. I've been wanting chickens, but since I move around so much I didn't think it was really feasible. I'm so excited to move into a house that already has them, and to try my hand at caring for small livestock.
4) The backyard is sunny and has two big garden beds, with room for more. My current house is shaded by two immense Doug Fir trees, and only has a small area suitable for gardening. I'm so excited to get in there and plant a big veggie garden! There's also a compost pile already going. My current house has a worm compost bin, and I love that. I would want to set up one at the new house, but I have a feeling that the chickens will probably eat a lot of my kitchen scraps.

So overall, I think this move will be a positive one environmentally, even if I do wimp out and stop using the family cloth.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Coffee Cozy

I'll admit it, I haven't been knitting or crocheting much lately. Unless I have a specific project in mind, I have a hard time shelling out the money for nice yarn. And I know that I don't really need a new sweater or scarf or whatever. So my needles have been sitting idle.

Then a couple days ago, I saw N wrapping his french press in a towel to keep it warm. He doesn't do this every day, since he usually drinks his coffee immediately. However, it gave me the perfect excuse to whip up a quick project with some stash yarn.

I just single crocheted until the piece was long enough to cover the glass portion of the french press. Then I added some buttons out of my button jar, and it was complete! Voila! French press cozy in about 20 minutes. Please don't judge me for not weaving in the ends. N likes things to look a little rough, and I gladly accept the excuse, because I secretly despise weaving in the ends!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Weekend Adventures

We've been having some great warm weather and sunny days here in Portland lately. Of course I've been a little worried that spring is coming too early, that we might get a hard freeze and everything would die, that global warming is making crazy things happen. All of these things might be true, but being a Southwestern sunshine-loving girl, I am just grinning and soaking up every minute of it. Riding my bike is fun again!

And so I've been having some fun pedal-powered outings. Last weekend N and I set off for Kelley Point Park, a nice 8 mile jaunt from our house. It was an interesting ride... Partly through the Columbia Slough/wetlands, and partly on the side of crazy industrial high-speed roads. That's just how North Portland is. It was my first time out to Kelley Point, and it was definitely interesting...

We walked along the little beach at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers.

We could see Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens really clearly. We could also see ship yards and industrial waste.

There were a lot of cormorants.

We had a delicious picnic lunch on the beach. Homemade bread and egg salad open face sandwiches with arugula from the garden. Yum!

Of course no walk on the beach would be complete without a little monkey business from N.
Striking his best Lewis & Clark pose.
Here's hoping for some more outdoor adventures this weekend! What are your plans?