Snow Crazy 2017

We’re preparing for another possible bout of freezing rain to come through Portland tomorrow. It’s been a tough winter for this snow-phobic Aussie, and I find myself flipping regularly through photos of our Costa Rican vacation and longing for a little sunshine.

I’m not alone. The common refrain from fellow working parents when we see a snowflake on the weather forecast is “Noooooooo”! Thankfully the kids already have the day off tomorrow for teacher planning so we won’t have to contemplate the logistics of adding yet another day to the end of the school year.

Still, I have to admit that I enjoy the first day or two of snowfall when everything is  covered in a bright, white blanket and the sound of the neighborhood is muffled. It’s by day 3 or 4 when the blanket starts to turns different shades of brown and yellow and we all start feeling like shut ins that I find the snow unbearable.

But I have to admit that snow in the sunshine can be pretty….


Happy Places

Trying to not look away from all that is happening, while also maintaining my sanity, is exhausting. I’m trying to balance the insanity with a few diversions. Ironically, they all seem to have some relation to our current political situation.

Making Oprah (Podcast) – only three episodes long, but fascinating. I’m half way through episode two where they talk about the shift to intentional programming. The production team had to have an intention behind every show that they produced, with a primary goal to put something good into the world. Intention matters.

Hidden Mansions – The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune, by Bill Dedman (Book) – The story of a reclusive multi-millionairess and the properties she owned all over the country but never lived in. Money doesn’t buy happiness.

My Favorite Murder (Podcast) – Come for the murder stories but stay for the girlfriend chatter. No relation to the current political climate…;)

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Movie) – I read the book many years ago and loved it. I’m happy to say that the pictures in my head were reflected nicely on screen. A beautiful movie about people who find strength through their peculiarity. Being different is powerful.

La La Land (Movie) – pure escapism and a wonderful throwback to old Hollywood musicals. This movie helped me find my happy place before the inauguration but I think I might need to go see it again for a refill. It’s important to find a distraction every now and again.

I’m also looking at pictures of beautiful flowers from our trip to Costa Rica late last year. It’s the little things that are getting me through…

Wordless Wednesday: The Last Day of Summer

Embarking on 2nd and 4th grades tomorrow. I start a new job on Monday.

Just like that, one long, hot Portland Summer comes to an end. And, while we find ourselves a little tentative thinking about the unknown that’s around the corner, with new beginnings come new adventures.

Wordless Wednesday: A New School Year

First grade and third grade. They refused to take a photo outside the school but I was lucky enough to catch them before we left the house. They had their arms around each other in every single photo.

And a wide view so you can appreciate the care Samuel took to match his shorts to his new sneakers. That kid’s not afraid to make an impression. Even his T-shirt glows in the dark.

It’s going to be a great year, I can feel it.

Garden Love

I never thought I would enjoy gardening. If you’d asked me a few years ago if I could ever see myself on a Sunday afternoon pulling weeds for four hours, I probably would have called you crazy, right after I picked myself up off the floor from laughing too hard. But now I find myself spending at least a few minutes in the garden every day, pulling a weed or two (or twenty). And it’s been a warm Summer here in Portland so watering has been a daily necessity. Honestly, once you start, it’s hard to stop. Who knew gardening could be like a drug? A very healthy drug, but just as addictive.

In truth, the hardest part of the garden project was completed a couple of years ago – and my husband dealt with most of that. He created a gravel pad for our new shed, built raised garden beds for the vegetables and laid a paved patio. I came in later to add the drama – it’s what I do best. 🙂

On the first year, I focused on the veggie garden. Year two was all about adding some color and wonderful scents with lavender (LOTS of lavender) and other flowering plants. This year I’m filling in the gaps left by the plants that sadly didn’t make it (R.I.P.) and working on maintaining my little paradise while I enjoy the fruits of my labor.

I’ll take you on a quick tour – but first a look back at where we began.

Five years ago…

Last year…

And now…

I always wanted lavender in my garden so, last year, I planted three different types. I may have overcompensated but the bees LOVE it. We have so many bees in our yard now that I’m tempted to start asking local bee keepers for a kickback.


After a failed attempt at growing strawberries in my hanging baskets, I decided to plant some colorful annuals this year. They don’t quite look like the beautiful arrangements that you find at the nursery but I think they have their own charm. I planted these little orange trumpet like flowers that the Hummingbirds enjoy so I consider that a win over conventional standards of beauty. In fact, one day as I was watering the garden, a hummingbird came and took a shower in the spray from the garden hose. He just hovered there for about 30 seconds and looked at me while he enjoyed the water. I told Kei about it and he called it my “Snow White moment.” The other birds like to use the basket material to build their nests which is probably why a pigeon decided our roof would be a nice place to set up home.

The lettuce is way over grown now but it looks cool. That’s Kale to the left. We have a love/hate relationship that can only be fixed with a green drink smoothie every morning. That’s the only way I have been able to keep it from taking over my garden.

Ahhh, the cucumbers. I learned not to plant Zucchini after the great zucchini overdose of 2011. Instead I decided to plant cucumbers and, right now, we have about 15 that are just waiting to be picked. I’ve been drinking a half a cucumber in my smoothie every day but it might be time to hand some out to friends. People are excited to receive cucumbers – zucchini, not so much.

These peas are a tried and true favorite. I plant them every year and they never fail to disappoint. I also have a healthy herb garden with basil, sage, mint, rosemary, thyme, parsley and majoram. Side note: If anyone has any idea what I can do with majoram then please let me know in the comments.

Also not photographed – Spinach, pak choi, arugula and chard. I manage to squeeze a lot into this little space.

The daisies are new and I love them. I bought some random plants through a plant sale at the school – which is a great way to fill the garden if you have trouble making a decision when faced with the thousands of options at the nursery. I’m speaking from experience, of course. I would never have picked daisies on my own.

This one also came with the plant sale. I have no idea what it’s called (my problem remembering names extends to flora), but the leaves are amazing.

And, finally, my pride and joy.

Eight foot tall sunflowers and healthy gardens make me happy.

Cooling Down

What a fun weekend! We managed to squeeze a lot in but we also enjoyed a little downtime. That’s the best kind of weekend in my opinion.

Kei and I managed to land a couple of tickets to see Book of Mormon at the Keller Auditorium in Portland on Saturday. While it felt a little strange to see a musical at 2pm on a 90 degree Portland Summer day, it was definitely worth the couple of hours of air conditioned comfort. Such a funny, entertaining, slightly (ok, very) offensive show. I really want to see it again but it’s a little spendy so I’ll have to make do with YouTube replays.

I ran errands on Sunday while the boys watched the Soccer World Cup final. The look of devastation on Samuel’s face when I got home told me that Argentina lost and, while I’m sad for my child, I did appreciate the two hours of quiet shopping time while the rest of the city watched TV. Then Kei took the boys to a baseball game in Salem and I was blessed with 6 hours all to myself. I did laundry, cleaned up and caught up on some Master Chef Australia. I know I live life on the edge.

It’s been a warm Portland Summer so far and this week is not exception. I’m grateful that the boys are spending the majority of their time indoors at music camp while the heat and humidity is at it worst but, sadly, our house is most comfortable at around 80 degrees. So, we’ve been finding other ways to cool  off – trips to the public pool, visits with friends to play in their temporary summer pools and popsicles, lots of popsicles.

But there is one thing we always find ourselves enjoying at some point over the Portland summer and that’s the low tech, but highly effective, fun of the sprinkler. It worked for me as a child growing up in Australia (when we didn’t have water restrictions) and it works just as well over here on the other side of the world. These photos are from a couple of weeks ago but I have a feeling the sprinkler will make another appearance when we hit the mid 90s tomorrow.

I think they had a good time.


It’s Friday and it’s sunny. The only thing that happens less frequently in Portland at this time of the year is a sunny weekend but it looks like we’re going to be blessed with that as well.

The last couple of weeks have been strange and difficult but I feel as though I’m slowly coming out of the fog. People warned me that I would think that I’d moved on and then suddenly an image or a feeling of grief will overtake me and they were right. Driving seems to be the most difficult time, when my mind wanders and there’s no one to jump in and change the topic that’s running through my head. Unfortunately my complicated commute means that I’m on the road for at least a couple of hours a day. Ira Glass and The Moth have been keeping me company but it sometimes feels like pop culture is a minefield. The smallest reference to anything remotely related to our experience can send my mind running through the events of that morning one more time. And then there’s the family suffering an unspeakable loss that I can’t stop thinking about. My heart breaks for them every day.

Still, I feel as though the fog is no longer the that black cloud that it was on those first few days. I am grateful for a community that came together to hold each other up – literally and figuratively. I’m grateful for a school counselor who gave my son the extra listening ear he needed. It’s been less that two weeks (two weeks!) but somehow feels like a lifetime ago. And while I want to move forward, I really don’t want to forget. There have been a few events in my life that have helped shape who I am and I’m determined to ensure this one shapes me in many positive ways. It seems like the only suitable memorial.

So, I plan to move forward with this little blog that almost no one reads. And, although I’m sure most people didn’t need to read that whole convoluted intro, it was important for me to put these thoughts out there because I didn’t know how I would go back to blogging about sunshine without it.