Saturday, 29 August 2015

summertime blues

It's been an absolute age since I've been here.  Bloggers Block? Or a Summer Siesta?

I'm not feeling too blue about it though. This summer has been magnificent.  Talk about endless.  We have been spoilt with glorious days of blue sky, and I do believe a consecutive 19 days of 90+ degrees, with the rest not far off.  When it got a little too much (and I know I really shouldn't be complaining) and we had a couple of days of cloudy skies with a few showers and temps dropping to low 70s, it was enjoyed.  However, I wasn't quite ready for cooler days just yet.

Of course there is downside of this wonderful summer.  The lack of rain in Oregon has increased the wildfires substantially here in the Pacific Northwest I have never seen the countryside so parched.  And seeing on the news the fires that have destroyed more than a million acres of land, homes, old wooden bridges and more is frightening. Even though not on our doorstep, we could smell the smoke in the air and the smoke pollution on a few days was quite visible hanging over the city.  Thoughts always go to those in danger and those risking their lives to help.  So for this reason the rain that's arrived this past couple of days has been more than welcome.

For us it was a Staycation this year.  Lovely family came visiting from the UK and stayed with us for 10 days which meant lots of day trips, cousins getting lots of overdue time to play together, lazy dinners late into the evening, board games, movies, gin & tonics (plenty!) and a great time together.  My kids were at a few summer camps ranging from camping in the San Juan islands, to an art camp and lots of clay creations coming home every day!  A multi-sports camp and a beginners sailing camp (I love that they get to try out new stuff each year).  Plenty of sleepovers with friends, grilling outside almost every day, camping, summer movies and messing about in boats.  And of course lots of beach and pool days, keeping cool and in some cases escaping the heat of Portland for the cooler temperatures at the coast.

With just over a week to go until BTS (back-to-school) we have a camping trip, a 7th birthday celebration slumber party and school picnic to enjoy.  Fun up to the last minute and plenty of good memories of a great summer to carry us through what we know will feel like a long damp Fall and Winter.

Hope you're enjoying your last days of summer as much as we are…

Sunday, 19 July 2015

we all scream for ice-cream

National Ice-Cream day!

And perfect timing too, with temps today at 95 degrees!

Salt and Straw division st scoop shop - photo by Leela Cyd

In Portland, we are rather spoilt in the ice-cream department.  Salt & Straw being my favorite.  With a line snaking around the block at peak times (which is most hours of the day), at any one of its three stores (+ one in LA), it seems it's everyone else's favorite too!  I found that mornings are the least busy and it's no hardship having a little ice-cream indulgence before lunch!

Fresh handmade ice-cream with flavors ranging from Stawberry Banana Split to Goat Cheese Marionberry Habenero, and Meyer Lemon Buttermilk and Blueberries to Stumptown Coffee & Burnside Bourbon, it's an adventure for your taste buds for sure.  Of course Salt & Straw does have a vanilla (albeit double fold Vanilla) and a Chocolate (with Gooey Brownie) if you don't want to push your ice-cream boundaries.  And if you can't decide on what flavor (after sampling a variety), then you can always pick a 'tasting' board' of 4 different flavors - its more than enough to share, if you have to.

Salt and Straw Ice Cream Pints  
Salt & Straw - Portland ice cream shop. Flavors like Rhubarb Crumble with Toasted Anise, Dandelion Sorbet with Spring Flowers, Sweet Heat Apricot Wheat Ale with Candied Peppers, Honey Lavender, Lemon Basil Sorbet, Pear with Blue Cheese, Honey Balsamic Strawberry with Cracked Pepper, Sea Salt Ice Cream with Caramel Ribbon

With pints to take home and an ice-cream cart to hire for events, Salt & Straw have got Portland covered.

Happy Ice-Cream Day!

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

summer days drifted away….

We are into week 5 of summer vacation already!  One day has rolled into the next and before you know it another week has passed by.  We've managed to squeeze in a whole bunch of stuff in so far…

3 beach trips
1 camping trip

2 visits to the movies
many many playdates with friends

copius amounts of ice-cream
grilling on the bbq almost every day

17 consecutive days of temperatures reaching 90+ degrees (we hit 100 a couple of times) = 
hours and hours spent at the pool

4th July at the St Paul Rodeo - yee haw cowboys!
 a small surgery for Ruby (nothing to worry about thankfully)


lots of library book borrowing
lots of playing in the sprinkler

bike rides
outdoor music concert

an art camp for Ruby - lots of clays things were made!
and Luca is away in the amazing and beautiful San Juan Islands with 23 other kids this week (envy!)

climbing all over the remains of a ship wreck from 1906
exploring a fort dating from 1863

more than enough time on electronics!

and yet…..

I've heard my kids,  more the a few times, say "I'm bored"  !!!

To which I've replied...

What about that pile of Lego that could be rebuilt into all those amazing things you "needed" not so long ago.  How about walking the dog? Go outside and play basketball.  Start on a new book.

No, I will not let you watch another movie. 
No, I will not give you another $5 to spend in Starbucks!

It makes me think of my summer vacation in the UK as a child.

six weeks of lazing around  
watching Elvis movies in the mornings

endless bike riding with friends
Girl Scout camp

parks, forests, den making

No electronics (well, unless you count the TV) whatsoever!

And I'm sure I said I was bored more than once too!  

Hope your summer is going wonderfully.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

summer party

One of my (many) favorite things about summertime is the outdoor eating and entertaining.  Whether it's coffee, fruit and yoghurt for breakfast on the deck as the sun peaks through the trees (ideally with the kids still fast asleep in their beds).  A 'mezze' for lunch, with a table filled with cheeses, homemade bread, selection of meats and chutneys and fresh fruit.  A dinner with family and friends with delicious salads, steaks or fish on the grill, chilled wine and little lights glowing all around.  It's all good.

Paperless Post - the creators of beautifully designed unique invitations and cards that make organizing your own event that little bit easier - asked if I'd be interested in compiling a post on my inspiration for summertime entertaining, from color schemes, what I'd wear, food, styling etc.  How fun is that?  I mean, just take a look at my Pinterest SummertimeEats & Drinks and Outdoor Space boards to start with.  How could I resist?

My dream entertaining space would be a sandy beach with a long table lined with flowers and candles.  Cream, tan and white, with and a touch of gold, and lights strung overhead.   Invitations would be gorgeously simply and have to include the softest bluey/grey with with flecks of gold.

Party à la plage         beach party

Dinner At The Beach             eventful | simple white set-up on the beach

A stylishly relaxed dress 'code' on a warm summer night.  Shoes kicked off (why would you need heels on the beach?), sand between our toes, soft fabrics ….. I would absolutely be wearing a dress…. which one of these would be hard to decide …..

4-in-1 trapeze dress | Gap     block-printed silk dress
Image 4 of Glamorous Printed Maxi Dress with Lace Up      Christophe+Sauvat+Chica+Bandeau+Maxi


Citrus & Basil Sangria

Citrus and Basil Sangria via What's Gaby Cooking

And a delicious spread of food…

This is the best coconut shrimp recipe I've tried and you won't believe how easy it is!  Heirloom Tomato, Peach & Burrata Salad

Coconut Shrip  |  Tomato, Peach & Burrata Salad

Strawberry Goat Cheese Crostini on Foodess

Strawberry & Goats' Cheese Crostini

Followed by a sweet treat. 

Vanilla Bean And Salted Caramel Fudge Recipe. This stuff is addictive, so delicious! And super easy.

Of course, you're all invited!

Happy Summertime Friends.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

ice ice baby

I heart summer

Summer is well and truly here.  Kiddos have finished school in a crazy week filled with end of year exams, field day, class parties, talent shows and 'school's out' parties.   It feels like the quickes school year ever (but I'm sure I say that every summer!).  It's good to know we have no early morning alarms to contend with, packed lunches to make and no late night homework schedules to deal with.  Twelve (yes 12!) weeks are ahead of us and I am taking a deep breath and diving in, and hoping I come out the other end still breathing!!!

The sun is shining here and its hot hot hot here (I'm hoping we haven't peaked too soon with such good weather).  The demand for ice-cream and popsicles is on the rise too, and there's only so many mini-Magnums I want my kidds (and me) to eat, and so I've been browsing homemade ices for them and some that have an extra kick for the grown-ups too!

Happy Summertime!

Blackberry, Rosemary, and Yogurt Ice Pops


iced coffee popsicles 1

Friday, 5 June 2015

doughnut day

blue star donuts portland
via Pinterest

Yes, its National Doughtnut Day!

I think my son may have got there early.  We made a visit to Blue Star Donuts last weekend to break up his finals studying, and then we picked up 2 dozen doughtnuts from Krispy Kreme on Wednesday for a class party - apparently he ate at least 3 of them!

Here in Portland we are kind of spoilt in the doughnut (or is it donut?) market. Voodoo Donuts has the bright pink boxes and a eyepopping selection of crazy color and crazy flavors - covered in Froot Loops, the 'Cock-n-Ball (yes, really in that shape!), Maple Bacon (with a slice on the top), a Voodoo doll etc.  And there is always a line of customers snaking down the street and often around the block!

Blue Star Donuts is a more upscale, minimalist doughnut store with a selection for the more discerning doughtnut fan - quality over quantity is the promise.  With flavors like Bluebery Bourbon Basil, Poppyseed Lemon Buttermilk, Vegan Pistachio Cake with Raspberry Hibiscus, Cointreau Creme Brûlée.  Definitely worth the indulgence.  Mmmmm!

Of course, we have a Krispy Kreme where the kids still like to go and watch all the doughnuts being churned out, deep fried and moving along the conveyor.  It still has a very retro feel about it that they love.

Move over Voodoo, there's a new donut shop in town - Blue Star Donuts!  The two pictured are blueberry bourbon basil & passionfruit cocoa nib.  Amazing!

Portland | Blue Star Donuts • 1237 SW Washington / Laurens Latest
via Pinterest

Anyhow, if you are partial to a doughnut, today's the day.  What's your favorite?  Original glazed?  Maple Bacon?  Sprinkles?  Chocolate?  Filled with jam or custard?  Whatever it is…   E N J O Y!

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

rainblow colored salads

Banish those salads made from limp lettuce, cucumber and tomato (memories of which still haunt me!).  With the bounty of gorgeous vegetables and fruits available as summer approaches, these salads are sure to get your tastebuds buzzing and asking for more.  And of course they look pretty good too.  Enjoy.

Beet Salad with Honey-Lavender Dressing


Quinoa, Mint and Stone Fruit Salad via A House in the Hills
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