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Eat All the Vegetables: CSA Adventures


After taking two summers off from gardening, I’m back to discovering how green my thumbs can be. I had considered doing a CSA at the beginning of summer and then decided to DIY with gardening and farmers market. I started out this spring with some container gardening – think super small planters, not a container box on the ground. The arugula, strawberries, butter lettuce, and basil did really well until June or July. And after moving mid-summer, suddenly I had a 75% volunteer garden! We’re still overflowing with tomatoes – cherry, sun gold, heirloom, roma… There’s a little bit of basil still hanging on, tons of rhubarb, mint, rosemary, sage. The blueberries were amazing, but long gone. Pumpkins – surprise! And the only thing that didn’t turn out well from our super volunteer garden was the corn.

weekly CSA

As the summer ends, tons and tons of tomatoes are the only veggie we’re still juggling from our garden. So when a friend asked if I wanted to take over the last couple months of his CSA share as he moves to Seattle, I accepted the challenge.

I thought it would be fun to document here some of what we’re receiving each week and how I’m making myself actually use it!

This Week’s CSA bounty:

  • Dragon Tongue Beans
  • Jimmy Nardello and Padrone peppers
  • Criolla Sella peppers
  • 2 tiny onions
  • Eggplant
  • Mixed Tomatoes

 Eat All the Veggies Strategy:

1. Roasted Eggplant, Tomato, and Feta Salad - I ended up combining a couple recipes and using what was available, for this salad. It was super tasty– eggplant, tomatoes, feta, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, red pepper flakes, and basil.
Roasted eggplant salad

2. Dragon Tongue Beans with Butter and Garlic – While these purple and white beans are fun to look at — they ended up not being my favorite. I sautéed them with butter and garlic and added some basil. The purple color faded, which obviously doesn’t impact the taste – but I was more into the garlic, butter, and basil sauce than the actual beans.
Dragon Tongue Beans

3. Feta-stuffed Peppers – My sister had just sent me a quick recipe she created, so I knew exactly what I was going to use the mini peppers for when I saw them in the CSA this week. This is one quick and tasty starter. RECIPE: After halving, and de-seeding the peppers, boil or steam them for about 5 minutes. Mix 1/2 to 3/4 cup of feta, 1+ TB of olive oil, and salt and pepper. Then fill the pepper halves with the mixture, place on a baking sheet and broil on a lower rack in the oven for about 5-10 minutes. So good!

Feta-stuffed Peppers

The only unused veggies this week were the few tiny spicy peppers – hot sauce maybe? And the small onions, which will go in almost anything next week.

CSA Verdict?
After the first week, I’m super excited about getting out of my current cooking rut! I love cooking and trying new recipes, but all too often I get in little routines of making the same dishes on my meal plan. Another thing I noticed was that if I have something to use up, I’ll go searching for a recipe to make, but in the grocery store I usually just quickly run through my typical things. I wouldn’t have gone out of my way this week to pick up eggplant, peppers, or dragon tongue beans.

What new thing have you cooked lately?

Photo by Schoolyard Farms

49 Things to Do Before Summer Ends


With 31 days of summer left, I’m starting to feel like I’m running out of time to experience all the summer stuff I love. But I feel like this every year. Summer in Oregon is pretty much the best thing ever.

My summer list is a little Portland-centric, so feel free to replace things with your local, summer fun time places and things.

Summer in Oregon

45 Things to Do Before Summer Ends:

I’m bolding the stuff I still want to check off!

  1. Go berry picking - (does the yard count?)
  2. Go to Sauvie Island
  3. Camp in the backyard
  4. Do a backyard fire – s’mores
  5. Invite people over for BBQ/picnic – (informal house warming)
  6. Picnic at the park – done, a fancy picnic would also be fun
  7. Go tubing / river float
  8. Go to the coast – Oswald West!
  9. Go to the river – swam at the Clackamas River
  10. Go kayaking – kayak camped on the Willamette River and kayaked on 4th of July
  11. Have a big day of biking – birthday bike ride surprise!
  12. Mani/pedis – post-half marathon!
  13. Wear all my summer dresses and clothes
  14. Go out to breakfast on a weekday – I finally tried Sweedeedee
  15. Stay out late and have cocktails
  16. Wear heels 1x week – this can happen after my half marathon!
  17. Buy new sunnies
  18. Road trip! – to Seattle (ferry to Victoria), and to Vancouver for SeaWheeze
  19. Make morning mimosas
  20. Go on a boat – on the Columbia River in Kennewick
  21. Drink rose – reminds me of southern France
  22. Go to Last Thursday
  23. Go to a Beer Fest – how have I not checked this off yet this summer?
  24. Visit every ice cream shop in Portland – my favorite is Fifty Licks (no, not Salt & Straw, but they’re delicious too). Still need to visit: What’s the Scoop? Cool Moon, and Cloud City.
  25. Go to patios/rooftops in PDX that I haven’t visited yet - Departure, Salty’s on the Columbia
  26. Day trip to Hood River – did the valley fruit loop, I’d still like to do another summer Hood River visit
  27. play in the ocean – Kailua, Hawaii! and Oregon coast
  28. Declare my own summer song – Capital Cities - Safe and Sound has been on repeat, and Milk
  29. Make tasty water like the hotel in Victoria, just because – mint water! blueberry mint water!
  30. Smoothie making – try/invent a few new recipes
  31. Go standup paddle boarding
  32. Wear a sundress more often
  33. Bike everywhere for one+ week - post race
  34. Go camping – went kayak camping, not car tent camping yet
  35. Go backpacking -kayak camping is similar
  36. Buy a new swimsuit
  37. Go to movies in the park – Back to the Future at Arbor Lodge
  38. Go to a summer music festival or concert – SeaWheeze Sunset Festival – Capital Cities & The Colourists!
  39. Buy a new hat – got a birthday hat!
  40. Pretend I’m 15 and buy a new summer fragrance
  41. New sunscreen – I need more California Baby
  42. Try a new cocktail – Multnomah Whiskey Library is still on my list
  43. Read a new book (for fun not “work”!)
  44. Find my favorite summer seasonal beer – still testing…
  45. Go to Edgefield or Kennedy School - soaking pool! or golf?
  46. Roast corn – can’t wait to roast more from the garden
  47. Harvest from the garden – make a meal with mostly home-grown (tomatoes and basil pasta!) blueberries for dessert.
  48. Watch the stars – saw shooting stars at Oswald West
  49. Savor sunsets – in progress

What’s left on your summer list?

Best River Floats in Portland – Hello, Summer!

This week marks the official start to summer! As the weather heats up – yes, it gets into the 90s in Portland – city folk run for the Oregon coast and the nearest rivers. If you’ve been dreaming of a leisurely day on the water, here’s everything you need to know to get out on one of our many rivers.

Which Portland river to float?

While there are many rivers that you can swim and play in near Portland (including parts of the Columbia and the Willamette), if you want to do a proper float — from point A to point B — your best bet is to head to the Sandy River or the Clackamas River. Both rivers have several parks that you can base yourself from and either swim/wade in the water or go tubing. The Sandy is a little closer to central Portland, but the Clackamas is my favorite. You can also float on the Willamette River in July during The Big Float event.

Clackamas River float


First, you’ll need two cars if you plan to float from one park to the next (your other option is to bike or hitch a ride back to the upper parking lot). Here’s how:

1. On your way to the river, either drop Car #1 off at the float STOPPING point (and have driver #1 jump in Car #2) and drive Car #2 to the START point. OR have everyone meet at the STARTING point and then while everyone is getting ready, Driver #1 and #2 take both cars to the STOPPING point as detailed above.

2. When you arrive at the end of the float, either fit everyone into Car #1 and go get Car #2 at the STARTING point OR send both drivers to rescue Car #1. And everyone else gets to start a picnic. (Hope you put the food in Car #1).

Remember, the drivers need to keep their keys with them on the float!

Where to buy or rent tubes in Portland:

Most outdoor stores (Next Adventure etc.) in Portland have inner tubes for river floats (and stores like Fred Meyer do too). As summer heats up, it can be difficult to find tubes in stock and/or at a reasonable price, so plan ahead (I was quoted $60 for the cheapest tube at one big box sporting goods store in town one year). As much as I like to shop local, I decided to buy inner tubes on Amazon (and with Amazon Prime free 2-day shipping, you don’t have to plan ahead that far), which makes the adventure much more affordable!

Best Routes: Clackamas River Float

You have several options for floating the Clackamas River, as there are three typical start points and three end points. The most popular launch is from Milo McIver State Park‘s Upper Ramp near Estacada, Oregon (see map for details).

Float times:

  • Route 1: McIver Upper Ramp to McIver Lower Ramp – 2hrs
  • Route 2: McIver Upper Ramp to Barton – 6-7 hours
  • Route 3: McIver Upper Ramp to Carver – 8-9 hours
  • Route 4: McIver Lower Ramp to Barton – 5-6 hours
  • Route 5: McIver Lower Ramp to Carver – 7-8 hours

Best Routes: Sandy River Float

The most popular route on the Sandy is Dabney State Recreation Area to Lewis & Clark State Park (see map below). You can also start at Dodge Park and continue to Lewis & Clark.

Best river floats

Things to Bring to the River:

Newbie Tubing Tips:

  • McIver State Park and Carver County Park both close at 9pm; Barton closes at 10pm. Keep this in mind when you’re planning which route to float.
  • Most routes pass through several sets of small rapids (depending on the time of year, water levels and speed vary), so not recommended for small children.
  • You’ll need to purchase a $5 day use pass for both cars (main and shuttle).
  • If your car key is a fob and not an old school key, you’ll need to have a way to keep that key dry, by using an Otterbox etc.
  • Bring water! The idea of drinking a beer while floating the river might sound fantastic, but you’ll want water as well.
  • Bring a lunch! There are a few convenience stores on the way to the parks, but after your first hour or two of floating you’ll be glad you packed a picnic.
  • Just because you can drunkenly lay in a tube and float in water, doesn’t mean you can swim, maneuver small rapids, and/or help someone else if they need help. Drink responsibly!
  • If you get a fancy-schmancy tube you’ll need a pump to inflate the main intertube and a bike pump or your mouth to inflate the backrest.
  • Go see what the river looks like at the STOPPING point so you don’t float by.
  • You’ll learn this tip quickly: when you’re approaching rapids (and rocks), lift your butt out of the water!
  • Have fun, but be smart – every couple years someone dies on the river. Take safety seriously.

River Float Map:

View Portland Tubing: River Float Map in a larger map

Have you been river floating near Portland?

Leave your favorites in the comments. Float on!

Happy Girls 10K – Bend Oregon


This is a quick race recap post about my running adventures. Check out my Running page for more info on races and how I started running.

Happy Girls Course - Bend

If you haven’t been to Central Oregon, add it to your list! 300 days of sunshine, epic views of the Cascade mountains range, and a booming beer scene. Plus, one of the funniest things about Bend, is as a pretty outdoorsy person, being there makes me feel like a total amateur. While the Pacific Northwest has a good deal of people who like to get out on the weekend and hike etc., Central Oregon is full of athletes and people who are outdoorsy like it’s their job. Coming from Portland, it’s fun to see the difference.

I started the ball rolling on Memorial Day weekend plans in Bend way back in January. Then I saw that the Happy Girls 10k was the same weekend and decided to sign up.

Last year it was a bit chilly over Memorial Day weekend in Bend, but this year was pretty ideal running weather. Since the place we were staying was literally right on the course, we had our own little cheering section at the park. I definitely need to work on the slow down and smile nicely for a photo from loved ones bit though.

My Happy Girls 10k Time – 0:59 (9:37 pace)

  • Mile 1 – 9:25
  • Mile 2 – 9:15
  • Mile 3 – 9:54
  • Mile 4 – 10:07
  • Mile 5 – 10:13
  • Mile 6 – 9:37

I started out waaay to fast [for me!] on this one. I also overlooked that there was a bit of a hill in mile 5, oops! My Nike+ ended at 6.1 something instead of 6.2, so not sure what was up with the course or my phone.

Happy Girls Race Swag/Perks:

  • goodie bag with random stuff I don’t remember (the lavender soap was great though!)
  • 1 GoodLife Brewing beer at the finish
  • post-race snacks (fruit, hummus etc)

What: Happy Girls 10k
When: Sunday, May 25, 2014
Where: Deschutes River Trail – Bend, Oregon
Price: $37.58 (with promo code)

Bend 10k - I don't usually buy race photos. Ha!Overall, I loved the Happy Girls race. The course around the Deschutes River and parks is as-always gorgeous. It’s also fun to see Mt Bachelor and Broken Top in the background of race photos.

The staff of the event were also really kind. The only downside was that it lacked the “race energy” that you experience at bigger events with more people. And for my friend who ran through an injury, the lack of a distraction from smiling, cheering faces was probably a bit more noticeable. While the 10k was a tiny group, it seemed like both the half and the 5k were a bit more packed.

I can see myself running this one again.

South Waterfront Portland – My Mapped Guide


My next installment of Portland Neighborhood Maps hits close to [my first] home – South Waterfront. I moved to South Waterfront in the summer of 2010. South Waterfront was one of those areas that was created out of “nothing” in the mid-2000s. Most of the high-rises were just being finished as the economy tanked in 2008 and all development and business expansion came grinding to a halt. By 2010, a couple of the condo buildings in South Waterfront were still pretty vacant and there were several real estate auctions. No pressure. I bought one, sight unseen.

My first couple of years in South Waterfront, the neighborhood was quiet. I would mostly just take the streetcar into downtown or walk through no man’s land to Waterfront Park and across the river. Then things started changing. The Elizabeth Caruthers park was finished. I joined the community garden by the river. The farmers market opened. A pedestrian bridge over I5 opened. Little Big Burger arrived. There went the neighborhood.

South Waterfront, Portland:

SoWa still has a long way to go to get that unique lived-in feeling, but as my “first” grownup neighborhood, I’m rooting for them. South Waterfront is officially part of the South Portland neighborhood. When I was designing my map, I debated about how close to zoom in. I ended up deciding to show the tangle of highways and onramps as it’s a big part of what boxes in this little neighborhood. Highways to the west and river to the east.

Here’s my mapped guide to favorite places in South Waterfront!

South Waterfront map

Eat, Drink, Shop, Explore:

Bambuza – A practically ancient restaurant, in Portland years, Bambuza has been in South Waterfront since 2008. They serve up consistently delicious Vietnamese food. Order the banh mi sandwich and fresh rolls.
3682 SW Bond Ave [Hours: Monday - Saturday 11am - 9pm]

Rip City Grill & Moody Food Carts – There’s a reason this place is slammed at lunch time. Everyone raves about the tri-tip steak sandwich, thankfully Clint also makes an awesome portobello burger with caramelized onions and blue cheese.
Docks at Moody Ave & Abernathy St [Hours: Monday - Friday 10am - 2pm]

Little Big Burger – The long-awaited South Waterfront location of this Portland burger empire finally opened in 2013. As long as you don’t hit it during the OHSU lunch rush between 11-1 it’s a great bet.
3704 SW Bond Ave [Hours: 11am - 9pm daily]

Lovejoy Bakers – A Pearl district favorite since 2010, seeing a bakery finally land in this area (in May of 2014) is perfect. Since South Waterfront still lacks a grocery store, I can see them staying pretty busy from SoWa locals and the constant stream of OHSU employees.
3159 SW Moody Ave [Hours: 6am - 6pm daily]

Daily Cafe at the Tram - Nothing fancy here. It’s a solid lunch option and quick place to grab a coffee or a chai before you jump on the Streetcar.
3355 SW Bond Ave [Hours: Monday - Friday 7am - 5pm]

The Old Spaghetti Factory – Before Portland was the foodie paradise it is today, Old Spaghetti Factory was fine dining. While not its original location (which opened in 1969 at SW 2nd Ave & SW Pine St in downtown) , OSF has been holding down the fort in “South Waterfront” since before it was called South Waterfront (1984?)! It’s still worth a visit for the nostalgia, river view location and when you have kids in tow. Order the mizithra cheese!
715 SW Bancroft St

Greanleaf Juicing Co - One of South Waterfront’s newest additions, Greanleaf is in the Emery building by the tram. As you would expect by the name, they offer up veggie and fruit-packed juices and smoothies,  and some lighter items like soup and granola bowls.
3151 SW Moody Ave [Hours: Monday - Thursday 7am - 7pm, Friday 7am - 6pm, Saturday - Sunday 9am - 6pm]

South Waterfront Farmers Market - The farmers market opened in 2012 and was a welcome addition to this supermarket-less neighborhood. Every year it gets a little bit bigger!
Elizabeth Caruthers Park [Hours: Thursdays 2 - 7pm - June to October]

Frank Wine and Flower - Another 2014 addition to SoWa, this inconspicuous little shop is a wine bar meets gift shop and is pretty adorable.
3712 SW Bond Ave [Hours: Sunday - Monday 12 - 8pm, Tuesday - Thursday 11am - 9pm, Friday - Saturday 11am - 10pm]

Urbana Market – an almost-yuppy convenience store. It’s tiny, but saves the day when you need something basic for a recipe, or a snack, or a $5 bottle of wine.
3550 SW River Pkwy

South Waterfront Greenway & Osprey Nest - A few years ago this was a great grassy stretch to walk and sit by the river, with a few DIY trails down to the water.  It’s currently under construction to add in retaining walls, restoring the river bank, adding water access etc. Probably a smart idea to support the growing neighborhood. Expected completion winter 2014. It’s bordered on the north by the Dahlia field a great place to get giant gorgeous flowers, which I’m guessing won’t be here too many more years with all the new development. And was bordered to the south by the Community Garden (which is now planning to be developed as “Block 37″ a 6-story apartment building), which has now been moved closer to Macadam.

Elizabeth Caruthers Park - The park is named after a pioneer woman, who was a fascinating note in history (1850 Donation Act, a woman – married or not – had the same property rights as a man). Finished in 2010, the park is home to a bocce court, hilly grass, a short boardwalk and some neat fountains. Summer movies in the park, a few concerts, a cider festival, and the weekly farmers market keep the park busy – in the summer months at least.
3508 SW Moody Ave [Hours: 5am - midnight daily]

Waterfront Trail - Perfect for running and biking, the trail starts by the old trolley station at Moody and Bancroft St. It follows the river all the way through Willamette Park and the Sellwood bridge, where you can cross and connect with the Springwater Trail to either loop north up to the Eastbank Esplanade or towards East Portland.

Go By Bike - I think the only transportation option we’re missing now in SoWa is boating (the shipyard doesn’t count until they offer us boat rides). There’s now a massive bike valet at the base of the tram, also repairs and bike rental.
SW Moody & SW Gibbs [Hours: Monday - Friday 6am - 6:45pm]

Coming Soon:

-Cha! Cha! Cha! – another Portland chain that is promising to open sometime in June.

-Tilikum Crossing Bridge- Despite the boring name, we will all be happy when it opens in the fall of 2015. The pedestrian and transit bridge will bring much needed access to the east side of the river.

-Rumors of a pub opening in the fall in the old Soho sushi place.

Any other favorites in South Waterfront?

PS. If you missed my first mapped guide, it was Hosford Abernethy (& Ladd’s Addition).

Olivia Raymer
Things I ♥: travel, food (I'm a pescatarian), the Pacific Northwest, bikes (I ride an orange mixte), beer (IPAs), summer, coffee, lists, and kitties. Travel enthusiast, former product manager, dabbler, and currently helping small businesses with digital strategy at Early Bird Strategy.

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