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Growing Gardens {Week 1}


mariah-290x290I discovered Portland-based Growing Gardens in the Willamette Week’s annual Give Guide this year. So the first Forkover Friday of 2012 is in celebration of the simple pleasure of gardening. As a fellow gardner, I’ve found that participating in the growing of your own food makes you a lot more in-tune with your health and diet. It can also be a nice money saver during the summer for “cash cow” crops like tomatoes and basil. But most of all it’s such an empowering and exciting feeling to pick and eat something you spent time growing. So fun.

Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace. —May Sarton


Growing Gardens

What they do: Help low-income Portlanders improve their diets and save money on food by building raised beds in backyards and schoolyards and teaching sustainable organic gardening methods. Growing Gardens has created gardens for nearly 900 Portlanders, 83 percent of whom are still gardening after five years. It also runs after-school garden clubs and community gardening workshops.

How we can help:

  • Volunteer to grow vegetable starts to be distributed in the spring.
  • Donate seed packets, kid- and adult-sized garden tools, hoses and compost bins.
  • Volunteer to help install garden beds, teach workshops or mentor beginning gardeners.
  • Donate money to Growing gardens
  • Support them on Facebook and Twitter

Who it helps: low-income Portlanders
What non-profit: Growing Gardens
Where: Portland, Oregon
Why: teaching people how to improve their diets and save money

Want to participate in Forkover Friday?

Match my donation of $12 this week to Growing Gardens or pick your own cause and leave a comment below if you feel like sharing!

10 Things Loved in July: Grand Lodge + Bocce + Macarons

Summer don’t leave us! It’s about this time every year that I want to fit in as much summery fun as possible, into each and every weekend. So here are a few of those things that made me happy in July.

1. McMenamin’s Grand Lodge Hotel – The Grand Lodge is about a 45 minute drive from Portland, in Forest Grove. Like all the McMenamin’s hotels, there’s a lot of history surrounding the place — The Grand Lodge use to be a Masonic convalescent home. It might sound a little creepy, but it’s totally not! It’s a perfect (quick) weekend getaway from Portland, and way more fun with a group. We spent the day playing disc golf, hurling bocce balls around the grounds, drinking at the outdoor pub and snacking on our farmer’s market haul, attempted to watch a movie (which broke! That’s what happens when you try to watch a Vin Diesel movie), lounged about the soaking pool, and played pool. A giggle-worthy and great weekend.

2.Playing bocce – I joined a bocce league — it’s super low-key.

3. 4th of July weekend:
Waterfront Blues Fest, biking around, fireworks on the Eastbank Esplanade, and I made a cherry tart. America! F$@% yeah!

4. event planning @ Ace Hotel
– finalized our Meet, Plan, Go! Portland venue for Oct 18. Woo!

5. first tomatoes from garden – golden, cherry, and early girl <3 gardening

6. working at Barista & Crema – I spent quite a few afternoons this month at Crema and Barista with an iced coffee, sunshine, and fresh air — the perfect antidote for post-lunch food coma.

7. Oregon coast – I never tire of visiting Oswald West State Park. It’s my favorite totally-not-a-secret Oregon beach that always seems to still be secret enough to have a little area to yourself. Trumps Cannon Beach.

8. Rose gardens – summer has been lagging a bit this year, so during an early July visit to the Rose Gardens, roses were still in full bloom. Gorgeous.

9. Fountains & biking – <3 biking and all the fountains around town.

10. Macarons! My favorite Macarons in Portland are from Two Tarts Bakery. So while at Little Bird a couple weeks ago, I thought it was adorable that they give you a mini macaron with your bill. On the way out, I noticed this tray of macarons. Too cute.

Hooray for summer!


Weekly Love: Oregon Coast + Pie + Lykke Li


Pie is so the new cupcakes. And pie might be the new macarons too, or maybe macarons are the new pie? I’m sure there’s some hip dessert I have yet to discover that is even cooler. Regardless, “Let them eat pie!” and here are a few things I’ve had my eye on lately.

This week…

-You Are What You Eat is a series of portraits made by examining the interiors of refrigerators in homes across the United States. Why are interiors of fridges so personal feeling? Mesmerizing. [via Flowing Data]

-Impossible to scold kitteh for using my Hobo International clutch as a pillow when she looks so cute!

-Kokblog is an illustrated food blog with super cute illustrated food, and I loved her recent collaboration: Kölsch (collaboration).

-Went to the coast last weekend. There’s simply nothing more refreshing than walking the beach in the morning (even if it feels like winter out).

-Latest song on repeat Lykke Li – I Follow Rivers. Catchy.
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-The grilled corn (Khao Poht Ping) is back at Pok Pok, and as I posted on Foodspotting: I could eat an entire cornfield of this. A summer favorite!

-I picked the first golden tomatoes from my garden this week. So tasty. I can’t wait to make pasta with roasted summer veggies soon when I stop eating them immediately after they ripen.

-Checked out Central’s new outside seating & happy hour last Thursday. Love the converted alleyway on SW Ankeny into picnic tables, but won’t be ordering drinks off the happy hour menu next time, think I’ll stick to my favorites, the PB Jewel and #8.

-Some mornings require pie for breakfast. You can’t really go wrong with any of the baked goods at Crema.

What fabulous things have you been doing/reading/eating/Instagram-ing lately?

Cherry Tomato & Feta Orzo with Dill: Cooking for One


Yay for orzo! Since I’ve had a seemingly endless supply of cherry tomatoes from my garden, this has been my go-to recipe for a quick (15 minutes!) lunch. I love how fresh this recipe is — and the feta makes it a good mix of tangy and sweet. It’s also really scalable (and for whatever reason, seems to be pasta-hater approved!). Although, seriously? Who hates pasta?!? :(

Orzo feta tomato

Cherry Tomato & Feta Orzo with Dill – {for 1!}


  • 1 TB olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 TB fresh dill (or 1 tsp of dried dill)
  • 1/4 tsp lemon zest (orange or lime zest works too!)
  • 1 cup of golden and/or regular cherry tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup orzo
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese (2-3 ounces)


  1. Start boiling water for pasta.
  2. Mix together oil, salt, pepper, and chopped dill (dried dill works fine too) in a medium bowl.
  3. Cut tomatoes in half and add to the oil mixture.
  4. Cook orzo in pasta water as directed, usually about 8 minutes.
  5. Drain orzo and mix with the tomato and dill.
  6. Crumble feta cheese into the orzo and tomato and mix
  7. Eat!

Cherry Tomato & Feta Orzo with Dill

You can also add random ingredients to this one fairly easily, such as: 1/4 English cucumber, chopped; 1/8 red onion, chopped; substituting 1/2 TB oil for balsamic vinegar etc.

How to Raise Chickens: Urban Coop 101


Earlier this year, while reading the Sunset magazine, I found an article on backyard gardening by Willi Galloway, West coast editor of Organic Gardening magazine. I’ve been hooked on her gardening blog — DigginFood — ever since! So I’m excited for today’s guest post, written by Willi.

Raising Backyard ChickensWe love having chickens, but I definitely recommend carefully considering all the benefits (free eggs! great fertilizer! cute chicken antics!) and the drawbacks (cleaning the coop, feeding and watering them in the pouring, freezing rain) before your get them. So here are a few things for you to consider:

  1. Know the rules. Before we got our girls I checked out the Seattle Municipal Code that covers keeping chickens. I learned that because our 6500 square foot lot was above average size, we could legally keep four chickens (lots 5000 feet and under can only have three) and that roosters aren’t illegal. We luckily don’t live in a neighborhood with a homeowner’s association, but if you do, check the bylaws before you buy birds.
  2. Be sure you have enough time. All in all taking care of a small flock of chickens is not a ton of work. Jon and I agree that it falls somewhere in between keeping a goldfish and a cat. But consider this: chickens wake up at first light and need to be let out of their coop soon their after. You must also tuck them into bed at dusk to protect them from predators. They need fresh food and water every morning, and clean bedding about once a week, and a couple of times a year you need to clean out their whole coop and run and give everything a good scrub. Before you get your birds, I recommend talking with your family about how you will split up the chicken care so it doesn’t become an issue later.
  3. Make nice with your neighbors, especially if you like to travel. Before we got the chickens, I let our immediate neighbors in on the plan. I told them we were placing their coop far from their bedroom windows and would be giving them lots of free eggs. This worked like a charm, and my neighbor Elaine even told me that she loves hearing my chickens in the morning (and I thought I was the only one!). Since chickens need to be taken care of twice a day, every day it makes planning to go away for the weekend slightly more complicated. We’ve dealt with this by teaching five families on our block how to watch the girls and paying them with fresh eggs.
  4. And finally… I will tell you something that no one told me. Chickens poo a lot. Like twenty times a day. They tend to leave their slippery deposits in inconvenient places around our yard, including on the deck and the arm of our beloved sun chair. This, um, habit of theirs certainly shouldn’t be a deal breaker, but I wanted you all to know.

Thanks Willi!  After a little research, I found that the “urban livestock” ordinance in Portland, Oregon allows a maximum of three chickens and zero roosters.  :)  When I eventually accomplish #73 — buy a house (which quite frankly is NOT happening this time around, thanks to my globetrotting) — I want chickens! and maybe a goat or a bunny… or a pony!  Anyone else still want a pony?

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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