What’s Next for the Garden?

Did you get your garden in?  Either way, no worries! There’s still food-friendly things to look forward to. As we wrap up the Rose festival, the next great thing on the calendar is all the fresh fruits and vegetables (whether you get them from your yard or your grocer, no one will tell).  There’s even a plethora of fabulous U-pick farms in the area to hit up. By mid-June, cherries and berries will be ready for us, but July is when the real bounty comes in.  Check it out a www.TriCountyFarm.org for the vast guide to local U-Pick and Farm Stands.

Interested in learning how to take advantage of all that wonderful fresh produce for months to come?  Pickling is one of the oldest methods of food preservation. If you’re not sure where to start, there are plenty of places to help with just that.  OSU Extension Service Food preservation experts host a series of hands-on classes on how to preserve produce in a safe and healthy way. Recipes, equipment, ingredients and additional resources provided, and all participants share the products made in class.  These classes are listed on the PCC website (okay – I know – kind of a surprise – but it’s true).  I found these classes at convenient locations to my neighbors in NE Portland. In my class last week, we pickled carrots, corn relish, beets, and asparagus.  Not only did we sample – we all shared in the bounty, and headed home with goodies to share with family and friends.

These ones are $29 plus fees, held 6:00 – 8:50  Fremont Methodist Church.

Preserving Fruit: Water Canning     July 11

Preserving Veggies and Meat: Pressure Canning and Drying  July 25

Preserving Tomatoes, Sauces and Salsas   Aug 8

Preserving Pickles     August 22

And for Westsiders, there are similar classes in the same program at the Bohemian Gourmet Food LLC, Monday’s from 6:00 pm- 9:00 pm. See details below, or check out the OSU extension website.

These are each $25 or Take all four classes – Fruits, Vegetables & Meat, Pickles, and Tomatoes – for $90. Pay by Credit card.

2013 Class Lineup

Fruit Products: Water Canning

July 8th: Step one! Come learn the basics of food preservation using a water bath. We’ll talk about preserving fruits and fruit products such as applesauce, jams, jellies and pie filling. Then we’ll make jam and pie filling using Oregon’s bounty. Pay by Credit card.

Veggies &Meat: Canning & Drying

July 15th: Learn the safe and simple process of pressure canning veggies and meats, including fish. We’ll talk about how to use and care for your pressure canner, and we’ll learn tips making high-quality, nutritious dried foods. Pay by Credit card.

Pickle Making

July 22nd : Pickles are popular again! This class covers safe procedures for pickling vegetables, including the difference between fermented and fresh-pack pickles, as well as selecting and preparing ingredients. We’ll fresh-pack pickles in class. Pay by Credit card.

Tomatoes, Sauces and Salsas

July 29th: Tomatoes are the most commonly preserved produce item. This class covers options for preserving plain tomatoes, tomato sauce and juice, as well as the “Laws of Salsa.” We’ll make and compare a variety of salsas in class. Pay by Credit card.

These are fabulous classes – I took my first one last week.

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Francene has over 30 years in the home mortgage business, and she loves being part of the Portland community. Connect with her on Facebook for Portland-centric updates and news or subscribe to her newsletter to receive monthly resources and tips just for locals. If you’re interested in homeownership or refinancing, contact her today to schedule a consultation and find out more about Portland mortgage options.

Seed, Garden, Pickle: It’s My Favorite Time of Year Again!

Here it comes again – that urge to plunge your fingers into the soil, kissed back into life by the warm days we’ve been experiencing this last week. I love to garden.   It would seem there is nothing better than the promise of a bountiful harvest in the months to come, all the while warming my own pasty white body in the warmth of a beautiful spring day.

Resist the urge to head straight to Portland Nursery!  I know it’s a lot of fun to let that expectation carry you into the temptation of beautiful plant starts–but now is the time to get out there to your patch of dirt to do a little prep. 

I’ve been reading with interest the theory that going full on with the spade to prepare your garden bed only leads to disturbing weeds that might otherwise have taken root.  Hmm.  That makes sense.  But I’m going to be gardening this year in a raised bed, compliment’s to a former owner. And I expect there will be some soil prep, weeding, and massaging my new piece of dirt–I’ve got to get it prepared for the cucumbers I’ve been growing! (For you seedling lovers, check out this wonderful chart I found to help decide when to move the cute little seedlings to their new home.)

I’m especially excited about these cucumbers, for a very specific reason. Pickling!! Tonight I’ve signed up for a Preserving Pickles class at Portland Community College.  While this will be my 4th year pickling, I think it’s time to circle back around to make sure I’m not missing something.  I want to be ready – you’re all invited to join me this year, when the cukes start coming in.

Lastly, for that memorable Portlandia first season reminder – We can pickle THAT!

Francene has over 30 years in the home mortgage business, and she loves being part of the Portland community. Connect with her on Facebook for Portland-centric updates and news or subscribe to her newsletter to receive monthly resources and tips just for locals. If you’re interested in homeownership or refinancing, contact her today to schedule a consultation and find out more about Portland mortgage options.

The Starlight Parade Approaches!

The skies are overcast.  The precipitation is at record levels.  Hay Fever season is in high gear.  Why, it must be time to kick off THE ROSE FESTIVAL!  Portland’s favorite celebration kicks off this week with the zany Starlight Parade!

It’s a LONG tradition here in Portland.  The idea for the Rose Festival was presented to the public in a speech by Mayor Harry Lane at the end of the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition in 1905. The first festival followed in 1907, and what a history it has made.

It’s 2013, and we’re gearing up to celebrate 106 years of festivities.  The lineup for the parade is everything from traditional marching bands and flood-lit floats, to glow-in-the-dark umbrellas and hand-built entries. You’ll see the best of Portland’s diverse community groups from the surrounding Northwest region. And some exciting news? (At least for me!) I’m marching and dancing in the first quarter of the nearly 100 illuminated groups! 

If you’re headed to the parade this weekend, you won’t be disappointed–but there are a few things to keep in mind. Here’s my “ inside tips” for the Starlight Parade! The parade starts at 9:00 pm.  This is no parade for whimps!  You have to stay up late and tough out the elements on the cold, wet, and dark streets of downtown Portland.  We’re expecting 250,000 to line the 2.25 miles, so make sure you get your spot scoped out early.  Also: Bring layers!  And don’t forget your costume…there will be some serious costuming that you don’t want to miss out on. The starlight parade is where FUN HAPPENS.

Francene has over 30 years in the home mortgage business, and she loves being part of the Portland community. Connect with her on Facebook for Portland-centric updates and news or subscribe to her newsletter to receive monthly resources and tips just for locals. If you’re interested in homeownership or refinancing, contact her today to schedule a consultation and find out more about Portland mortgage options.

Exploring Homes in Portland

It’s been all about home architecture for me the last few weeks. As you know, a love of home styles has made me appreciate local organizations like the Architectural Heritage Center, and the Historic Preservation League, both of which provide resources and fun activities for the community related to valued Oregon Architecture. Thanks to these two organizations, kindred souls that appreciate both my former Faber designed home, as well as the “new and modern” design of just 50 years ago traipsed through the marvels of architect Saul Zaik on last week’s Midcentury Modern home tour. It was quite a fabulous experience; Zaik is a truly gifted man who still works today with a passion I envy.

Can you find me in this photo?

Can you find me in this photo?

Midcentury landscaping.

Midcentury landscaping.

Then this last weekend I was also able to take part in another home tour–this one in the old neighborhood. The Irvington Home Tour focuses not on midcentury modernism, but on what might be considered “classic” Portland architecture–those homes from the early 1900’s that are so iconically Portland and whose owners have put so much work into caring for and restoring. You know me–this is exactly the kind of thing I love. Both tours showcased a beautiful side of Portland architecture; in the Irvington Home Tour, some folks even had turn-of-the-century parties, costumes included! Check out the photo below for proof! And make sure you try these tours next time if you didn’t go. They’re not to be missed!

Connecting in Community through Dance

Finding community.  The need to belong.  The common/shared interest. I love finding ways to connect here in Portland, and my recent association with dancing has given me yet another sense of community.  Not only amongst dancers, but to the community at large.  Last Saturday my previous association with the sponsor, White Bird, and their Le Grand Continental (a wonderful gift to our community) was brought back to life for an ever so brief repeat at Union Station for National Train Day

Our last rehearsal before National Train Day

Our last rehearsal before National Train Day

To prepare for that performance, rehearsals have filled my days. It was well worth the effort, looking back, but though that performance is complete the rehearsals haven’t finished. Many of us from Le Grand Continental are continuing to dance – dedicated to rehearsals 3 times a week – to prepare ourselves for the launch of the Portland Rose Festival with the Starlight Parade on June 1.  Known for being a ‘zanier” parade, we’re practicing our hearts out to make sure we’re ready. Of the 100 or so that committed to this, there are about 70 who have stayed the course.  Yet another community, and for many of us this will be our third performance together.  We shivered through another chilly and wet evening last night as we ran through the paces.  We may never look like these two professional dancers but we’re ready to bring fun and frivolity to the people of Portland 15 days from now. Will you be there?

Francene has over 30 years in the home mortgage business, and she loves being part of the Portland community. Connect with her on Facebook for Portland-centric updates and news or subscribe to her newsletter to receive monthly resources and tips just for locals. If you’re interested in homeownership or refinancing, contact her today to schedule a consultation and find out more about Portland mortgage options.

Memories and Mosses: Finding New Things in Old Places

How often are you reminded: ‘You Can Never Go Home Again’? It’s one of those frequently repeated mantras that often plays out.  Class reunions, family holidays, hometown gatherings.  But is it really true?  And why is it so much embedded in our culture?

 You Can’t Go Home Again was a novel by Thomas Wolfe, in which the main character George Webber, a fledgling author, writes a book that makes frequent references to his home town of Libya Hill.The story explores the changing American society of the 1920s/30s, including the stock market crash, the illusion of prosperity, and the unfair passing of time which prevents Webber ever being able to return “home again.”

This week, after nearly 20 years, I returned to Opal Creek–a family vacation spot that has remained near and dear to my heart.  A place so special, so pristine, that I held it in my heart above all other places I’ve visited.  Would it be changed?  Would it live up to 20 years’ worth of lavish memories?

The last time I visited was an OMSI family weekend, and I’ve long since forgotten what the theme of that outing was. But this time I came to study mosses, lichen, and liverwort through the Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center. Really! I know that’s pretty nerdy, but it was fantastic. And it was was thanks to this amazing exploration that I was able to see this place live up to and exceed all my expectations. Opal Creek, Ancient Forest Center, and Jaw Bone Flats was exactly as I remembered it. But this time, I got to see a lot more of the details. 

The Opal Creek Wilderness and the neighboring Bull of the Woods Wilderness is the largest contiguous area of low-elevation old growth left in Oregon.  The cool, cloudy, wet weather in western Washington and Oregon is ideal for these organisms.  There are approximately 12,000 species of moss classified in the Bryophyta. The division Bryophyta formerly included not only mosses, but also liverworts and hornworts. These other two groups of bryophytes are now placed in their own divisions. See what I mean about details? I definitely didn’t notice this stuff last time I was here.

After driving nearly an hour beyond Salem, the last 15 miles or so on rugged Forest Service roads, the lessons began as we hiked in the next 3 miles by foot.  Lucky for me, we were only going to focus on less than 300 species.  Standing there with my rain proof notebook, and rapidly taking notes with my water proof pen, I quickly abandoned any hope of keeping up with our instruction, and turned instead, to my camera.

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Beautiful, no?

Francene has over 30 years in the home mortgage business, and she loves being part of the Portland community. Connect with her on Facebook for Portland-centric updates and news or subscribe to her newsletter to receive monthly resources and tips just for locals. If you’re interested in homeownership or refinancing, contact her today to schedule a consultation and find out more about Portland mortgage options.

Dancing in the Streets

Who all out there is going to be here for the Starlight Parade? Well, I can now give you one more reason (of the many wonderful reasons) to attend: one of the many dancers you’ll see in on the streets that night will be yours truly!

Join me June 1st, 8:30 pm, through the streets of downtown Portland for two miles of dancing. The dance we’re doing is by Bodyvox, one and the same as THE dance–the Advance dance in this amazing video of one dance, two minutes, and fifty lovely locations.

We have just six weeks to learn, and last week I had my first rehearsal.  There were so many familiar faces – the people of Le Grand Continental, a similar group dancing experience I did last September (pictured above), made up one special family, to be sure, and many of us had hoped for just such another opportunity. Here we were, back at the very familiar location of BodyVox to learn our new moves! I’d invited anyone that I thought might find this fun, and was delighted to see a couple women from my Zumba class, and the new girlfriend of a dear old friend as well. The initial invite said they were looking for upwards of 100 people, and my quick assessment of the crowd put us at about 80 +/-. Nice. Mostly women, but a good diverse group of us. Big, small, young, old, black, white, etc. Perfect. Two hours of practice for six weeks, for two miles of dancing, smiling, and laughing.

And so it begins!

Francene has over 30 years in the home mortgage business, and she loves being part of the Portland community. Connect with her on Facebook for Portland-centric updates and news or subscribe to her newsletter to receive monthly resources and tips just for locals. If you’re interested in homeownership or refinancing, contact her today to schedule a consultation and find out more about Portland mortgage options. 

Hidden Portlandia Treasures

Last week, after my adventure in the Pendleton store, I have to say I was definitely feeling my Portland groove. So, of course, the next stop had to be to the food carts–how can you get more Portlandia than food carts? I’ve always known we have some of the best in the world, but I didn’t know what sort of surprise awaited me today. I’d pegged a Mediterranean cart for my meal, but found it closed. Hmmm. Circling, I found myself back at Frank’s Noodle house.  I’d been there before, and knew it was a safe bet – Frank’s Noodle house hasn’t let me down yet. It’s delicious!  But my mission today was to step outside my comfort zone–and that’s when I noticed a sushi cart: “Rolling Gourmet Fusion.” Interesting.  After studying the menu, I nervously decided to give it a try.

Apparently my hesitation was apparent, because chef Bobby Maki asked me to describe what I liked. To be honest, sushi has never appealed to me. Raw fish just doesn’t sound that great. So, having no experience, I had no idea what I wanted.  He suggested the Dynamite Roll, and I thought–why not? Steamed asparagus, avocado, cucumber rolled and topped with tempura fried snapper and wasabi Pico de gayo, all with a side of cucumber spinach sunomono and seared sesame tofu.

Wow.

Bobby Maki of Rolling Fusion

As I watched Chef Bobby deftly arrange my lunch, I noticed his laminated magazine. All across it rang the praises for this executive chef who hailed from Houston, Texas.   What?!  What was this executive chef doing in a food cart on 9th and Washington?  As it turned out, he moved here six months ago for the lifestyle! Thank you, Portland. We talked.  I ate.  And I decided sushi wasn’t that bad. In fact, it’s DELICIOUS. Thank you, Bobby!

So head on over to 9th and Washington. There’s an executive chef there waiting to make your WEEK with raw fish magic.

Francene has over 30 years in the home mortgage business, and she loves being part of the Portland community. If you’re interested in homeownership or refinancing, give her a call today to schedule a consultation or find out more about Portland mortgage options. 

A True Portland Moment

It seemed like a typical Portland morning in March when I headed off to Zumba one Saturday. This particular Saturday, though, was anything but. This was the once-a-year-only sale, with the new Pendleton Portland collection, and I snuck out early to secure a good parking spot on SW Broadway.  Once inside the door, I found that it was literally wall to wall with people. This line of clothing was made for the trendy, young hipsters of Portland, and they had all turned out accordingly. But I wanted in on this, too!  Could I find a large or extra-large in hipster-size (that would be a medium in any other line, right?)? After a frantic search I happily found several items and joined the checkout line to cash out on my bounty.  The line, however, took longer than an hour to get through! Normally, a wait that long would have made me CRAZY, but that’s when Portlandia happened.  And by Portlandia, I don’t mean high-nosed hipster indignation. I mean the most laid-back people on earth, who can’t help but make friends and bond over any shared experience–even waiting in line. By the time we snaked up to the checkout counter, I had traded and swapped for styles and sizes while generous strangers held my place in line, carried the cargo of my neighbors and had mine carried in turn so we could race out to fill our parking our meters, and we had all praised and encouraged each other to step outside our comfort zone to go for the biggest, baddest tribal print. I love Pendleton, and I adore Portland.  I halfway wondered why we didn’t all exchange email addresses by the time I left.

Here’s some of the great finds I snagged:

pendleton 2Pendleton Portland Line

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Francene has over 30 years in the home mortgage business, and she loves being part of the Portland community. If you’re interested in homeownership or refinancing, give her a call today to schedule a consultation or find out more about Portland mortgage options. 

Drinking in ALL of Portland…Spring Break!

Well, it’s a wrap on Spring break, and my in-box seems to announce the fact that I’m back.  The Sheraton San Jose wants to know how I enjoyed my stay, as does the Seattle Westin, and the Hotel Paracas in Peru.  Yeah, my timeshare, hard at work, making sure I’m a happy traveler.  But no, being a mother of adult children, my new freedom lets me avoid spring break travel without any guilt at all, and all those stays were for my daughter, son, and brother.   I stayed in Portland for Spring Break, and found PLENTY of fabulous things to do.

After taking in the Bill W and Dr. Bob play, I did a cleanse, which seemed appropriate. But after that, I headed out to find a beverage.

Picture 11

I headed to the Cornell Nursery for a class labeled “The Drunken Botanist.”  Local author Amy Stewart is something of an expert on this subject matter, and was inspired to write her sixth book after happening upon a work published in 1858 – Fermented Liquors: a Treatise on Brewing, Distilling, Rectifying, and Manufacturing of Sugars, Wines, Spirits, and All Known Liquors, Including Cider and Vinegar: Also, Hundreds of Valuable Directions in Medicine, Metallurgy, Pyrotechny, and the Arts in General, by Lewis Feuchtwanger.

Amy Stewart's "The Drunken Botanist"

Amy’s book is chock full of great information, and I brought home a whole tray of possible cocktail ingredients that will go into a container garden on my deck.

Botany at it's finest

Finally, I wrapped up the Spring Break with more local legends: Storm Large joined Pink Martini for a free “Singin’ in the Square” event in the fabulous afternoon sun on Saturday.

Singin' in the Square

Much like my experience when I danced in Le Grand Continental this past September in Pioneer Courthouse Square, I was overcome with emotion at the vast numbers of local Portlanders as we came together to sing for two whole hours.  This city really is the best.

Governor Roberts leads us in song. Along with some really strong support from Storm Large.

Governor Roberts leads us in song. Along with some really strong support from Storm Large.

Check out Amy’s website – she a local gem!  http://drunkenbotanist.com/

I’m filing her right next to Lisa the Beer Goddess:  http://beergoddess.com/