Wild Blackberries on Sauvie Island

I’ve made several trips to Sauvie Island and shared some of what I found here. On Sunday I made a visit with two friends who know the island well and where the best places for picking wild blackberries are. The berry patches were huge and heavy with plump, ripe fruit. I haven’t picked wild blackberries since I lived in Washington during the 1970s. We had a huge patch in our backyard so picking and cooking with the berries was easy. I made pies and jams and even traded the fruit with other neighbors who had other fruits growing in their yards.

My goal for picking was 3.5 pounds for a single batch of jam with a little more for morning breakfast. These berries are best cooked the same day they are picked while the fragrance and flavor are at their peak. Before I left for the island, I had sugar, lemons and jars at the ready for my return. Another great opportunity to delve into Rachel Saunders’ Blue Chair Jam Cookbook. You can read about the many recipes I’ve cooked from her book by clicking on the category ‘In the Kitchen’, or search the the book title.

While we were picking berries we frightened a large male deer. And as we were headed back to the car with our bag of fruit we spotted quite a little gathering of American green tree frogs (Hyla cinerea). They were certainly in the right habitat, but they didn’t seem concerned about our presence. Click on image for a larger view.

07-10-16 Sauvie Island frog-1

In a small clump of vines we counted at least 8 frogs, 3 clustered on a single leaf.

07-10-16 Sauvie Island frog-2

And this one seemed to be posing for us. (Frog photos by Susan, used with permission.)

07-10-16 Sauvie Island frog-3

The berries were beautiful!

07-10-16 wild blackberries

And since they had just been rinsed with light rain the day before, clean up was a snap. These berries, 1 3/4 pound sugar and 3 ounces fresh lemon juice yielded 6 8-ounce jars of jam plus a little ‘taster.’

07-10-16 wild blackberry jam-2

I was inspired to make some bran muffins for breakfast the next day.

07-11-16 breakfast with blackberries

What a fun trip with friends this was! And the rewards will be enjoyed for months to come.

Storage System for Art Quilts

I have just submitted an entry for an exhibit with my new community of fiber artists. New communities have new ideas about how to do things. The rules can be long and detailed. It can seem overwhelming at first. Is this just a reaction to change? Perhaps. But darn! This is the kind of thing that does nothing to promote my art or spark creativity. Okay, okay. Once the grumbling was done, I saw the wisdom in the system for protecting and identifying art quilts during the submission/return process for exhibits.  In fact, I’ve embraced the system so completely that I’m creating storage bags for all of my pieces.

Right now my art quilts are stored rolled, tied with selvedge strips, hanging slat tucked inside the sleeve. Now I’m creating a bag for each piece like this:  Click on image for larger view.

05-25-16 First bag done

The fabric is a ‘retired’ bed sheet. Here are the steps I did for creating the bag:

  1. Cut fabric 16″ wide;  for the length, cut the width of the piece plus eight inches  (more about this measurement later).
  2. Turn top edge of fabric 1/4″ and stitch.
  3. Position a sandwich bag on the right side of the fabric. Use a zigzag-stitch on the sides and bottom to secure it.
  4. Center a tie on the right side, top edge of the back of the fabric and zigzag-stitch it in place.
  5. Right sides together, stitch a 1/4″ seam for the side and bottom of the bag. Turn right side out.
  6. Insert a printed page with a photograph of the art quilt, title, dimensions, your name and contact information.

The first one is done. Just nine more to go.

05-25-16 Nine to go

I cut all the fabric pieces at one time and assembled the information sheets, sandwich bags and tie supplies. If I had to do this again I would have done one bag to test all my measurements — hence, the suggestion above for a more generous length measurement than I used (five inches). What I have will work but it would be easier with a bit more fabric at the top.

Oh yes, I realize that the image at the top of my posting doesn’t have anything to do with this project but I couldn’t resist sharing what’s happening by the river. I’ll be watching the maturing of those blackberries very closely!

First Box From Organics to You

We have been missing the incredible boxes of farm-fresh vegetables and fruits that once came to our door from Shooting Star CSA. After all, it’s spring — so where are the strawberries and asparagus?  I have found a local source. Organics to You works with many local organic farms and other sources for organic foods and delivers to your door. Easy peasy. Here’s the box we received today.

Their box selections means you can choose the box that is the right size for your family. They also share a lot of information about nutrition, recipes and more. There’s nothing like fresh!

Farmer’s Market

I went to the farmer’s market this past weekend. Not just any farmer’s market, but the one that Portlanders refer to as the Mother of all farmer’s markets — the Saturday market at Portland State University. And it is well named, let me tell you.

The produce at the market is top quality. Check. Click on an image for a larger view.


Farmer Market, need greens


Farmer market carrots galore

The vendors are friendly and eager to answer questions. Check.


Farmer market chard, apples and sunflowers

This vendor wasn’t selling sunflowers but doesn’t this display look more appealing with them?

We had to laugh when we saw these weapon-sized zucchini. Even the pros can let this squash get away from them.


Farmer market weapon size zucchini

It is very well attended. Check. The atmosphere is lively and fun. Check. I loved the pink outfit here, complete with cowboy hat!

Farmer Market Pink Cowboy Hat

The flower stalls were jammed with gorgeous flowers and the vendors couldn’t make the bouquets fast enough.


Farmer market flower vendor

Many vendors are cooking meals to be consumed on the spot.


Farmer Market Cookin'

And that means being prepared for clean up, including receptacles for recyclables.


Farmer market Dirty Dish Return

Local bakeries are represented. Two Tarts Bakery had some divine small cookies. And I loved the birds!

Farmer market Two Tarts Bakery

There are many buskers throughout the grove of trees — guitar, violin, etc. But when was the last time you encountered a harpist at a farmer’s market?

Farmer market Harpist

Or a fellow entertaining small children with his didgeridoo?


Farmer market didgeridoo

On the way to catch the streetcar home I got a laugh from a nearby bistro.


Stop making excuses

Fresh air. Great produce. Large servings of fun. What could be better? Support your local farmers. They are there for you. Bon Appetite!







Wordless — almost.

My trillium is coming up as though it were spring.


Wordless Wednesday

Click on an image for a larger view.

09-20 magnolia 09-23 Western Swallowtail butterfly larva

Lavender and Sweet Peas

This is the time of year when it is difficult to be indoors. The garden is bursting with new energy and rewards will just keep coming over the next few months.

Lavender and Sweet PeasAnd speaking of rewards from the garden — here is our first box from Shooting Star CSA.

First box from Shooting StarSpring is here!

Wordless Wednesday



Buddha Hand Harvest

This fascinating fruit always draws comment when newcomers visit my back yard. ‘What is it?’ and ‘How do you use it?’ are always asked. The short answers are that it is a citron and I primarily use it to candy, though I have plans to use it in jam. For more details, check out the explanations here.

And here are the bad boys I plucked from the tree this week:

Buddha's handEach one is between 7 and 8 inches long  and (left to right) they weigh 14 oz., 1 lb. 5 oz. and 9 oz. Hefty!

The largest one is the most ornate — a real stand alone.

Buddha's hand 1It’s almost a crime to cut it up and candy it. I said almost because that’s the next thing that will happen to this beautiful citron.

Visit my posting of last year to see the tree and fruit in various stages, including candied.

Last Box of the Season

Shooting Star CSA delivered their final box of farm-fresh vegetables for the season this week. The Romanesco cauliflower looks too beautiful to eat!

Franki Kohler, Romanesco cThe rest of the box looks just as tasty and has me looking forward to the 2014 season.

Second Chances

We all need them at one time or another. And aren’t we thrilled when we get a second chance to do the right thing? Well, I’ve gotten one!

Last June I shared an embarrassing moment in the garden when I mistook a soon-to-be Western Swallowtail butterfly for a tomato worm and killed it. I was very disgusted with myself about this mistake. This morning I found another caterpillar on a parsley plant.

Franki Kohler, Swallowtail butterfly to beNow I need to find out how long it will take before it becomes a Swallowtail that will fly away. If you happen to know, please share. I’d love to be there for the big event!

This and That

Where to begin. There are many things in progress here. After all, it’s July — the height of summer.

Our side yard with the succulent plantings is filling in nicely.


Here’s  a close up of one panel


The male oriole and his entire family — 2 chicks this year! — visit our feeder regularly.

07-12-Hooded Oriole-male

He is simply stunning from any view.


And I’m having more fun than I’m sure the law allows with the sketching and watercolor class. This page represents the last 2 weeks which covered 8 techniques.


Who knew that there was a graphite pencil that you could sketch with and then use your watercolor brush with just water to shade? Check out number 5 on the page. The tissue overlay exercise (#8) was fun — and a real learning experience. I put the adhesive on the back of the tissue and then struggled to apply it to the page. Naturally, I was supposed to apply the adhesive to the page and then lay the tissue over it. I’m learning. *sigh*

I’ve already begun my second page using these techniques. This time the theme is birds. Stay tuned.

Early Girls and more!

We celebrated the first day of summer this week and this morning I picked our first ripe Early Girl tomatoes along with some basil. Can we say Caprese Salad?

Franki Kohler, First Early Girl

The rhubarb is about to take over! It is growing in a 4-foot square raised box.

Franki Kohler, Rhubarb

Too bad those enormous leaves aren’t edible!

The magnolia I have espaliered across the back fence treated us with new blooms this week. I’d say it’s officially summer.

Franki Kohler, Magnolia blossoms

I hope you are reaping the rewards of the season.

The Door — A New Look

Here’s a quick update on progress with the door and side yard project. The door and post have been painted. Here the door is open so you see only the edge of it and the post.

Franki Kohler, Door open

Paint colors were inspired by an orange succulent and some of the blooms (for the post) and a new planter in the foreground of the above picture (for the door). Moving the round green pot with jade under the succulent wall accomplished two goals: it hides the watering lines for the succulent wall and eliminates the bottle neck at the corner where it sat. The second jade plant in the green pot (a different variety) was removed and planted in the smaller blue pot.

Here’s a view with the door shut.

Franki Kohler, Door shut

The succulent wall continues to grow and has almost completely filled in the panels. They are so happy that they are producing pups like crazy.

Franki Kohler, Succulent wall,-side

And here’s a close-up view.

Franki Kohler, Succulent wall, close

The inspiration for this project was born last November when I traded a trellis for a door.  Here’s how the side yard looked in February.

Rhubarb Update and a New Project

If I want to harvest any rhubarb this year from this front-yard plant, I’ll have to remove the blooming stalk. It has reached 58″ tall and competes with the Eddie’s White Wonder Dogwood.

Franki Kohler, Rhubarb stalk 58 inches tall

Once the stalk was removed I could get a nice shot of the fully opened flowers.

Franki Kohler, Eddie's White Wonder1

The stalk is a full inch across and hollow. Who knew? I hope to see new stalks of fruit form now, but I really have no idea what will happen. Luckily, I have another rhubarb plant in the back yard. It is producing edible stalks and shows no sign of bolting.

Franki Kohler, 1 inch across

There has been more than gardening happening. Here’s a peek at Sunflower Scrap V in progress.

Franki Kohler, Sunflower Scrap V started

I expect to make serious headway, if not complete it, quickly. This assumes I can stay inside while the garden beckons. Wish me luck!

This post is linked to Off the Wall Friday.