A Long Time….and Qantas Saves the Day….

It seems like it has been a long time since we talked about our travel adventures. I guess  life can get in the way of the fun things we task ourselves with. Funny how that happens. If you have been following us and our travels, or if you are just joining us,  Lloyd, and I have had the opportunity to travel quite a lot in the last several years and began finally began sharing our photographs from our most memorable adventures with those following our blog. Thus far we have shared three series’ from our yearly travels in Egypt, Belgium, and Holland. I had combined or ordered the trips in such a manner as our last trip to Belgium we were actually on-route to Egypt, and stopped on each leg of our trip in Belgium to rest up. It might not make a lot of sense, bu we often do wacky spur of the moment trips. It’s how we role, sometimes. That adventure was a trip of a lifetime for me, taken merely a few months after our last travels to Australia. So I though it would be fitting to share the next series of articles from our adventures in Australia.

Before you get all excited, we generally spend a lot of time in Australia because that is  Lloyd’s home. Well it was until he married me. 🙂 So we have tried to get return as often as possible so we can check in with the family, relax, refresh, and explore the countryside.  Sadly this years travel plans were unexpectedly interrupted due to our three year old Tuxedo cat, Mr. Perkins, giving us quite the scare. A  month of running back and forth to the kitty hospital. Who even knew there was such a thing? There is, and we the good parents that we are, practically lived there for a month before Mr. P., went under the knife in a life or death operation.  No kidding. I wish I were then I could be writing this post from somewhere like Tahiti or Fiji, or Phuket, on our way to Australia, or …..the list goes on… It was horrible. Sadly for us, Mr. Perkins expunged our travel funds for the year. No holiday’s. Boo…..But it was worth foregoing our travels knowing Mr. Perkins is happy and back to his normal pampered self, rejoining his sister Lady Morgana. And our family is again complete.

A Camera Shy Mr. Perkins

Phew… with that in mind, I sit and write this post while the Thunderbirds roar over head causing the cats to bolt to their respective hiding places, and me, wishing the f-ing planes would just go away.  We hate the airshow, pretty much since a plane crashed in the field a few blocks from our house a couple of years ago. That, and loud roars of the fighter jets freak the the hell out of the cats which is so, not cool. Poor Lady Morgana, she races off to her favorite hiding spot in a tall (three foot tall) Mexican vase we have in our living room. Last year we looked all over (she is only two) for her and alas we found he in the last place we looked she dove in. We know this as we have witnessed her acrobatic maneuvers on a number of occasions when something freaks her out. Its quite impressive. Mr. Perkins on the other hand generally runs for our bed where he used to hide. Now, his 15-pound body no longer fits. Instead he gets stuck head first. No kidding. Ass hanging out tail flaccid.

A Happier Lady Morgana, Who Jacked Mr. Perkins Throne

Yikes! Where was I, traveling. Darn planes! I now have a head ache.

This post will be the first of several dedicated to Australia, which is likely where we would be heading about now….sigh… That said, our travels brought us to Melbourne, a wonderful not unlike Portland, the weather is the same, the size is comparable, very metropolitan, the weather is the same, and it also boats wineries a short drive to the countryside.

In Melbourne, we hooked up with our cousin Cathy, who happened to be living there for the time being before taking her new job up in Macau, working for the Venetian Hotels.  And thanks to Cathy we ended up staying at the luxurious Park Hyatt Hotel.

We love having someone in the family in the hotel business. She totally hooked us up. Now generally I am the one who takes photos of the hotel, our room, the lobby, the grounds, food, etc. Admittedly,  I turn into a crazed travel-photographer on our trips, I can’t help it. This time however, was a bit different.  Who knows why, but, I experienced some of the worse jet lag in history, well maybe not in history, but for me, it was horrible. I tasked Lloyd with taking the photos of the hotel while I went and crashed until we met up with Cathy and another cousin for a nice lunch.

The weather during our stay was cold, rainy, and pretty much like Portland when we left. This wasn’t what I had in mind. Crappy weather and horrible jet lag. Good grief. I was on holiday for crying out loud. Give me a break. I can deal with the rain, I don’t like it but I will soldier though it. On holiday, the weather can suck and you are still on holiday, so no matter what, one is bound to have an awesome time. Besides, we are from Oregon. We were having the same weather back home.  I felt right at home, almost.  Our hotel sang classy and luxurious the second the door opened, then screamed giraffes just as quickly. Seriously, giraffe motif, really? Really. Okay, well large bubbles, in giraffe colors. Yet, no where else but the Hyatt could anyone pull off wearing orange and red marble.

Lobby to Paradise, Park Hyatt, Melbourne, Australia

I love this vase. It was exquisite. It would go very nicely in my living room. It of course stayed at the hotel.

Checking Things Out, Park Hyatt, Melbourne, Australia

Lobby and the Giraffe Printed Marble Floors, Park Hyatt, Melbourne, Australia

The Grand Staircase, Park Hyatt, Melbourne, Australia

It would have been fun to slide down the banister. The hotel staff would frown. Just a thought.

Purple Haze, Park Hyatt, Melbourne, Australia

This photo reminded me of  high school. Who ever thought that purple neon would accent the decor was off his nut! Bring on the Jimi Hendrix and Purple Haze. But, hey it was the Hyatt and for the next three days it was our home. We took advantage of the VIP passes to the VIP lounge on the upper floor of the hotel. Free adult beverages of your choice along with another drink you might think of, all you can eat happy hour snacks, and late night drinks and snacks. We could live here it was so great. Little did I know the best was yet to come.

Our own studio apartment. Holy crap! The king size bed was spectacular complete with down comforters, down pillows, and Egyptian cotton threads. Oh ya. I was in heaven. It was almost like I never left home, only better. Pish. Who was I kidding, it was freaking awesome!  I was going to sleep like a baby. Say bye bye jet lag. Since I had tasked Lloyd with the photos, we never took photos of the room. It truly was like a studio apartment with a full living space large bathroom the size our my office back home. Wow.  I was sold on the Hyatt. They really know class and comfort. The room seriously was very swank, a total hook-up, we had everything one might expect to see in an upscale studio apartment. It was great! awesome! And I did sleep like a baby. Just sayin’.

But the grand finale of our stay, at least in my opinion, was the result of having Lloyd take the photos: the next image.Lloyd out did himself.

I don’t know about anyone else, we fell in love with this image of the infinity pool the moment it was hot off the printer.  In fact we loved it so much we printed out a 20×30 image that has a home in our living room above the fireplace. We can always remember our stay in Melbourne. It looks great and it matches beautifully with a 26.5×30.5 size papyrus we purchased Saqqara, Egypt we matted and framed that also found a home on our living room wall.  Who would have thought that we would have a picture of a hotel pool as a showcase photo hanging in our living room. I would have laughed. The cool part is people always ask where in Egypt did we take that shot? We cringe then giggle a bit when we tell them Lloyd took it of the pool at the Park Hyatt Hotel in Melbourne. They seem shocked.

Back to our trip. While in Melbourne, we actually spent zero time ‘in’ Melbourne. Rather with the exception of happy hour and our hotel, we were out to see the sights around the city. Our first day we spent an afternoon in St, Kilda a short drive from our hotel, where we enjoyed walking along the boardwalk after a nice long lunch at a little Italian Bistro nearby, with another cousin. Yes, another cousin the first two of many. So, many in fact they seem to multiply like rabbits kangaroos.

St. Kilda Boardwalk, Victoria Australia

Along the Boardwalk, St. Kilda, Victoria, Australia

Beach, St. Kilda, Victoria, Australia.

People on the Beach, St. Kilda Boardwalk, Victoria, Australia

After spending the afternoon in St. Kilda we crashed. We had to rest up as we were off to the countryside for a tour of some wineries.

On our day trip to the Yarra Valley, we had great fun! Cousin Cathy served as designated driver and gave us a grand tour of some of her favorite wineries. We probably visited ten or so in two days, while in the Victoria state. I will spare you all of them, rather I have included some of the more memorable moments of our wine tasting adventures. First stop Coldsteam Winery.

Balloon over the Yarra, Coldstream Winery, Yarra Valley, Australia

At Coldstream Hills Winery we had this spectacular view of the Yarra Valley and the balloon floating in the distance.The winery is owned by well known wine author, James Halliday. The winery produces cool climate wines including: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon. We had a great time drinking their wines and talking with the folks in the tasting room. Their wines are great and very different from either Oregon or California style wines. When we arrived I expected to see the huge Shiraz’s I so dearly like love; when I realized we were not even remotely in the neighborhood of the Shiraz grapes, I had to reprogram my brain for something new and refreshing. My palate was fooled as Australian Pinot’s taste nothing like Oregon or California Pinot’s. It took a few tastings to get used to fruity in your face Pinot’s and the idea that Australia produces Pinot Noirs, and Chardonnay’s. I have always drank Shiraz from Australia and fell in love with the bold rich tannins, the jammy feel on your tongue and the strong robust flavors. I never payed attention to the fact they made other wines. The exception Cabernet’s.. That said, the wines were very good. In fact,I  actually preferred the white wines of this region much more. That coming from an enthusiastic red wine drinker.

Yering Station, Yarra Valley, Australia

Yering Station is a premium winery in the center of the Yarra Valley, roughly one hour east of Melbourne and not far from Coldstream and a few others inbetween. The winery was established in 1839, as the first vineyard in Victoria. The wines here were very good, we purchased a number of bottles here. I could feel the weight of our luggage with each bottle we purchased.

Stonier Winery, Yarra Valley, Australia

Stonier Winery is a beautiful winery situated next to riding stables (I found this very cool. Girls in proper riding gear were practicing their show jumping skills) was established at Merricks, on the cool southern rim of Victoria’s picturesque Mornington Peninsula. The winery was the first in the region to plant Chardonnay vines back in 1978, followed by Pinot Noir a number of years later. The vineyard had expanded significantly by the late 80s, with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay the primary wine varietals and what Stonier, built its reputation on. These wines were exceptional. I was amazed by the complexity and diversity among grape clones. We purchased several bottles here. My favorite winery we were to see. The others all had great features, but the wines here were far superior. They didn’t need the swank buildings to draw people in. They relied on their reputation as superior grape growers and winemakers. A must see if ever in the area.

Port Phillip Estates, Mornington Peninsula, Australia

Don’t let the bunker, grand cement looking structure fool you, inside Port Phillip Estates is gorgeous. And it boasts a spectacular panoramic view of the vineyards with the sea off in the distance. Truly it is amazing. We stopped in for wine and a spot of lunch. Everything about this winery spelled class and elegance, despite of the cement like facade. I say cement like as the structure was actually constructed of pressed soil.

Port Phillip Estates Vineyard and Winery, Mornington Peninsula, Australia

The wonderful view of the ponds, vineyards, and sea in the distance.

Vineyards, Port Phillip Estates, Mornington Peninsula, Australia

Port Phillip Estates, situated at Red Hill in the heart of the Mornington Peninsula, roughly one hour south of Melbourne and is family owned by the Gjergia family. Sandro Mosele is their winemaker who is fantastic at his craft, making excellent Pinot Noir wines among others. This winery was most impressive for us as were their wines. The winery describes themselves as “a dramatic curved sculpture made of rammed-earth. Inside is a large cellar door and tasting room and a light filled restaurant open out to an expensive expansive outdoor deck. Underneath the tasting room and restaurant is state of the art wine making facilities.” The winery also includes six luxury accommodation suites complete with a private deck and a panoramic view of the vineyards and sea. It truly is a wonderful place to spend a few hours. Their wines are fantastic and we had a great time sitting at a table overlooking the property,  talking with their winemaker who happened to be in the tasting room that day. The restaurant has a wonderful chef who prepares a great selection of amazing dishes. The word I would use to describe everything is impeccable. We had a great time having lunch while drinking one of their great wines that they paired with the food. I love that little touch. That little something extra that makes a great dining experience a fabulous dining experience.

So, here is the story of our wine making adventures. I can’t make this up. So here we are at maybe our third winery. You must first realize we are truly wine snobs. I hate to admit it but its true, we are. And when we go wine tasting, we typically purchase at least one bottle of wine depending on how well we like the wines. Problem when traveling is where do you put the wine you buy. You either drink quickly and a lot or don’t buy any. Well, we have a problem with that. It doesn’t happen. We can’t go to a winery and not buy wine. It simply doesn’t happen. Wineries love us. We didn’t plan this trip very well. As Melbourne was the first stop on our journey. We didn’t have room to pack a ton of wine in our bags. So, at our third or so winery, I forget,  after purchasing maybe three or four bottles, or six bottles of wine, one of the gals we spoke with over hears our conversation and speaks up  “you can take wine on the airplane as a carry on in Australia, we even have bubble packs to put your wine in so it won’t break, in case you wish to put some in your packed ports.” We looked at each other and said “Really! Well that changes things.” Long story short, we ended up at the airport for our next stop Brisbane loaded. I mean really loaded. The magic number being thirteen, yep thirteen bottles of wine we attempted to stuff, yes stuff into every possible crevice we could locate. At the airport, I told Lloyd it wasn’t going to work we needed an extra bag to put some of the wine in. We were, well I was, frantically searching dragging my bags and well we ended up finding a luggage store in the airport in Melbourne. And wouldn’t you know, they had these great back-packs on wheels made by non other than Qantas bag, for which we proceeded to in the store mind you unstuff and restuff our wine into the newly purchased Qantas bag with wine. It was awesome! In the store, customers watching, we had a line up of people trying to figure out what we were doing. Suffice it to say, the bag held nearly a case of wine. Our problem was solved thanks to Qantas.

We hope you enjoyed our journey through a little part of Southern Australia, we had a blast! We were quite the sight at the airport I am sure, but that was nothing, stay tune for more of our Australian adventures, as they only get better.  And for those who don’t know, Aussies love to consume large quantities of adult beverages, wine included, beer preferred.



Exciting News to our Fellow photographers and writers….

We would like to invite you to submit Feature Articles and Photos on our Blog:

How to Proceed:

You can begin by taking a look at our blog for articles we have posted and become familiar with the type of articles we have published. Please note that a place is not an idea, nor is a type of camera interesting, we are looking for compelling stories where photography is the main focus; we encourage the writer to seek a specific angle, or photographic tip(s), news related topics, adventures, or travels that make the topic/subject innovative, and interesting to a wide audience of readers. Our readers include the following genres: travel photographers, travel journalists, photo-journalists, professional and amateur photographers, writers, poets teachers, technical science professional, environmental and wildlife enthusiasts, bird watchers, Rosarians, teachers, and botanists to name but a few. We are looking for an article that is fresh, relevant and exciting in the world of photography.

The Feature Article and all Photographs must be appropriate for viewers of all ages, therefore your submittable work should be considered family friendly.  We reserve the right to reject your materials if we deem they are poorly written or contain numerous  errors, and/or excessive profanity, or sexual references. Both Feature Articles and Photo/Flower of the day entries will also be submitted or linked to Linkedin, Google+, Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter, which will get your name out to various other social media sites, meaning more exposure for you and your business!

Formatting for Feature Article:

  • Please Include a catchy title
  • Include your name at the top as Featured Writer
  • Insert photos
  • Articles should include at least 3 original photographs up to 10 max, do not use photos taken by other people, use original photographs that you have taken.
  • Make sure to check off the appropriate categories and tags
  • Preview your post for grammar and spelling errors before submitting it for approval
  • Include a link to your blog
  • Photos should be no larger than 1000 pixels on the longest side of the image, sRGB color space, please.
  • Multiple entries are allowed on a monthly basis
  • Please review our format in our blog for an example; we will provide the quote unless you find one you would like to include.
  • Please Include a title for the image
  • Category for image ( i.e., travel, landscape, macro, outdoor, wildlife, nature, urban, architectural, or other relevant category)
  • For flower shots include the name (i.e, rose, dahlia, etc.) of the flower
  • Location followed by city and state or city and country where photo was taken (i.e., Forest Park, Portland Oregon, or Portland Rose Gardens, Portland, Oregon
  • Photographers name and copyright information
  • Include a link to your blog
  • Photos should be no larger than 1000 pixels on the longest side of the image, sRGB color space, please.
  • Multiple entries are allowed on a monthly basis

Please submit Featured Articles and/or Photo/Flower of the Day images to: Louise@LandLimages.com: Clearly indicate in your email what you are submitting – either  i.e., Feature Article, Flower or Photo of the Day.  We will alert you via email that your submission has been accepted and the date in which your material will be posted. All authors/photographers whose articles are chosen will receive a link to their blog, and a link on our Facebook page, our blog page, Pinterest, Google+, Linkedin, and Twitter.

We thank you for your interest and look forward to receiving your articles and photographs!



Summer in the Gardens

Japanese Gardens Portland – Lilith’s Grasp, Japanese Maple

Lloyd and I love Living in Portland. It has so many fabulous amenities all within a short distance from our home; we feel blessed to have chosen such a place to call home.  Because of this, we love to have guests visit from out of town so we can show off why Portland is so special.  This summer has been no exception, we had the pleasure of hosting one of our favorite Aussie cousins, Cathy, who was visiting us on her way to Vegas on business. We had a marvelous time as always. Great laughs, food, and of course Oregon Pinot Noir.  In the three days she was here, there was wine tasting at local wineries (I sat this one out), and a trip to the Japanese Gardens and Rose Gardens. When Cathy arrived she did so with a newly broken toe which didn’t stop her from wanting to see the city a foot cast and all, she hobbled around. We were such a motley crue, one hobbling around in a cast, Lloyd packing around the camera gear while and pushing Deloris with me holding more camera gear. You would think we liked to take pictures or something. It is merely our thing.

Our two favorites gardens is where we headed, both of which are located in Downtown Portland: the Rose Gardens and the Japanese Gardens. Both are nestled within the 5,500 acres of natural preserve land in Portland, thus making it the largest urban park of its kind in the world. Yep another great reason to visit. We are pretty proud to call Portland home. Wow try to say that one fast. We are are lucky to also have the highest rated Japanese Gardens outside of Japan as well and one of the best Rose Gardens in the country, making Portland truly the city of Roses. There are many places to visit within one hour of Portland in every direction making it a great destination for those who are looking for a great long weekend getaway. Click here for a guide of things to see and do. First stop, The Portland Rose Gardens. Enjoy!

Garden Steps and Roses

These lush gardens are planted along a tiered hillside in roughly three levels, with stairs situated in the middle and at either ends and places in between and a long relatively steep paved ramp at one end for those who prefer to avoid the stairs.

Stone Columns

Situated at the base of the gardens.The roses basically are planted in rows, each individually named and planted in some semblance of order, by color.

Row of Roses and Garden Clouds

The thick rows of roses as far as the eye can see. Truly amazing gardens you won’t be disappointed, even if you think it might not be your thing, you will love it. Trust me. The gardens are stunning.  Each of the rows zig-zag gradually down the hillside with a mixture of concrete paths, this being on the main level, and a mixture of small stone and grassy paths which parallel the rows of roses. Portland also hosts a Rose Festival in June with a parade full of roses. It is quite spectacular and draws people from all over the world.

A Rose is Just a Rose as Pink is Merely Pink

Because our city is so wonderful, we jump at the chance to share as many of fun places with our friends and family when they pop in for a visit. While we spend a fair share of our times at these places anyway, it is always great to spread the fun around. Plus they see first hand why we chose to live here. Summer is definitely the best time to visit as the city is a rainbow of color as the flowers are in full bloom in an array of vibrant colors varieties and fragrant bouquets ready to be found in the gardens, and at the many the local markets around the area. Also very cool to visit.

Blood Red

If you have been following our posts you will likely noticed a few of these beauties have been shown as photos/flowers of the day, they are so lovely they deserved a second glance and especially for those who have never seen the beauty of the Rose Gardens.  Okay, I also had to include Mr. Squirrel. He was merely to cute not to post again.

Mr. Squirrel

Orange on Black

Sexy Hot Pink

Please note each of the roses in the garden have their own official names given by the rose society. The names used here are my names; the same holds true of the photos from the Japanese gardens at least for some of the water features.

Light Peach

Yellow Bud on Black

Bright White

Tipped in Pink

Yellow Lemon


One of my favorites. Such a unique color. One doesn’t expect to see.

Orange Marmalade

Candy Cane 

Another one of my favorites reminds me of Christmas in June.

Bright Pink 

Basically, I chose my favorite roses. I literally have hundreds of photos of roses in every color under the sun. I will spare you. I will be posting more on our web site, and Red Bubble site hopefully within the week. If you are interested in seeing more. They are each beautiful in their own way. I found when we were there my endorphins go into overload mode, they were bouncing all over from bush to bush. It was crazy nuts! everywhere I looked was a new and different colored rose. I know I was driving Lloyd crazy directing me to go in five directions at once. Or so he believed. Ha!

Next stop the Japanese Gardens. If you visit this lovely garden, there is a fee or membership options available. The membership option makes it affordable and sensible for locals, as we can bring out of town guests for free. We have a membership. This is also why you will see a “with permission” tag on all of the photos we take from these gardens after our copyrights information. While photos are allowed, professional photographers must receive permission to post their photos for viewing and selling. Primarily if the photos are going to be sold. In case you were wondering.

Mt. Hood from the Japanese Gardens

We saw the gardens at the perfect time in terms of weather, not too hot, not too cold, and not yet raining. When we stepped into the car when the day was done, it rained.  A break for Cathy, ha pun intended, as we made our way through these beautiful gardens. I still think Lloyd had it worse pushing me up the hills. ADA compliant my ass, or his. Ha!

Upper Pond

Magical Tree of Life, Wisdom, and Knowledge

Heavenly Falls

Glowing Falls

One of my favorite photos. Those who follow have seen it before. No you are seeing things. It is true. The following images however are what makes the gardens so special especially in mid-June –  the water iris’ which only bloom for a short time in June, then they are done, leaving a carpet of green rig-zagging along a wooden boardwalk which takes one through the wetlands and over the stream. We were lucky enough to capture many  in bloom. Beautiful. The week before only a couple were in bloom. This iris species is different from the garden varieties as they completely open up exposing brilliant silky petals in shades of brilliant purple to blue, to white and dotted with brilliant yellow. Amazing.

Garden of Purple Passion

White Water Iris

New Life



Stepping Stones of Life

Hidden by the Carex spp. (grass species) which is blooming nearly covering the hidden waterfall and stepping stones inside the stream which trickles along amongst the lush vegetation.

Tree of Knowledge

This tree is one of many similar maples and this particular one is amazing; even during summer the wondrous colors of this tree – stunning.

Into the Fire

So that concludes our trip to the Portland Rose Gardens and the Portland Japanese Gardens. I hope you enjoyed the shots. It was a lot of fun taking the pictures. I look forward to going back soon to see what has evolved since our last visit. Soon.



Flowers, Shrubs, and Trees, Oh My!

As in the past during our Sunday Market visits, I like to find a vendor that has the coolest product or is selling something so unique that people go Wow! Like Wow where did you get that, or some other statement that lives up to the Wow Factor.  Well two weeks ago, I failed miserably, first we were late getting to the market, which rarely ever happens and secondly, it was raining off and on. Not ideal conditions for snapping photos. That said, there was no post as my photos pretty much sucked, along with the weather, if you were wondering if you missed a week. You didn’t, I did. I wanted to feature today’s Wow vendor then, but they were not at the market then either. So here it is.

This week was a great weekend for taking pictures. The weather actually seemed like summer in Portland had finally arrived. And in fact it has been summer all week-long and will continue through the weekend. Yay! So this weeks Wow Factor producer is one of the best at the market. N&M Herb Nursery, Inc. You guessed it a flower nursery. As I have mentioned in many of my past blogs there are many vendors this year all carrying flowers of all varieties and as such the bar has been raised. This is good, it means that Hillsboro is finally being noticed as a great place to bring ones produce and local products to sell. This includes the ‘High Quality Plants and Herbs’ N&M Herb Nursery.

What sets this vendor apart and above the rest is they practically bring the entire nursery to the party (not really, it merely seems that way), not only do they bring the plants, they bring healthy outstanding plants, beautiful potted plants, some do it yourself varieties as well, hanging baskets, shrubs, anything and everything that goes in ones garden in a small but well used vendor space which is well used and laid out perfectly – you feel like you are experiencing a little Zen moment. Well you would if not so many people would be in there with you. But hey it is all about traffic. Product placement is key and a smiling facing ready to greet you as you step up and into her world of Zen.

The Vendor who meets and greets is Maraya (as in the “M” in N & M Herb Nursery) a family owned business named after two daughters Natasha and Maraya. Maraya’s parents actually named the nursery before the girls were born.  You will have to ask Maraya about that one. The business is within the local range located a bit south of Portland in Hubbard, Oregon. I was excited the first time I saw the plants from N&M last year as they were so beautiful, and this year they have upped the bar, they are even better. They own the rights to boast over 200 varieties of plants and herbs. The product – plants and they are perfectly placed and are of extraordinary quality and variety.

According to Maraya, who is the primary face of N&M at the market, is well schooled in horticulture and knows the name of each plant in stock, how to care for them, and is happy to help answer anyone questions who is interested in gardening. She also has included the perfect number of exotic species and/or ornamental’s in their stock.  Whether it is the display models (Yes they have flowers on display that are not for sale), or the quantity and quality of their plants or all three, when you first lay eyes on her booth, your eyes are driven to a place of peace and tranquility. They offer such a great variety of popular local species as well as some unique varieties. We were impressed immediately and thankful that they were at the market again this year. They have “Wow” written all over them.

In addition to having the widest variety they have the best quality. We (Lloyd and I) purchased nearly all of our plants from them last year and many are still going strong this year. The perennials that is and even a couple of the annuals believe it or not. This year we purchased nearly all of our plants from N&M. We also tried out a few of the other vendors too as they seem to have tightened up the playing field a bit and have brought in some higher quality varieties this year. Have to spread the love a bit. It was good to see so many vendors upping the anty so to speak. This year we have stood in line to purchase plants from Maraya and their great  collection of perennials  and annuals.


Maraya having a chat with my hubbie (my hubbie is hiding from the camera) over the plants we purchased for the week. This Sunday we will purchase the last of our plants, we spread out the plants until we finally have what we want. We need to pick up a few more smaller plants to fill our planters and a couple of our hanging bouquets on Sunday. When we spoke Maraya wasn’t sure how long they would be at the Market as there supplies were about spent for the Orenco Station Market. If your interested you can check online at the Portland Farmers Market website here.  They will be at the Beaverton Farmers Market through October, and the Vancouver Market through September.Their stock seems to get smaller each week as people seem to really like this particular nursery. It is evident why once you see the plants. They have the “Wow Factor” and the Zen Factor rolled into one.


                                                                        Calla Lilies

Red Tiger Abutilon

This is an interesting plant that grows fast up to two to three feet in one summer. Keep pinching on the dead blooms and give the plant a haircut and it will last all summer full of blooms. This plant loves Oregon and if covered or put on a covered porch  or in the house over the winter this plant will continue to grow and be ready for Summer. The plant is absolutely gorgeous in full bloom. Added bonus – a party attraction. The blooms resemble Chinese lanterns. and are about the size of a small tomato.

Fuchsia hanging baskets

I bet you won’t guess what this beautiful hanging plant is? I sure didn’t, we purchased several to put in our hanging baskets. Maraya gave us some suggestions as to what would be good for our porch and we were sold.

This gem is actually a Sparkle Scarlet Begonia – who knew a begonia grew like a hanging plant? I sure didn’t. To me this looked more like a fuchsia or a relative of one and not a begonia.

Orange Lilies

The lily planter is another one we purchased for our porch along with the reddish color one below. Both stunning, the various colors of orange are really pretty. We have a varieties of color to make the porch come alive as we spend a great deal of our evenings out sitting on our covered porch. It is fully enclosed and we have complete privacy from our neighbors on either side of use and in the front as our house sits up on a slight incline. We are higher up than the sidewalk below us and we have two obnoxious arborvitaes that I have a love – hate relationship with. I love them because they provide a lot of privacy from the sidewalk and street, and neighbors across the street, and hate them because they are so tall and we have to have someone come and cut them back each year. Normally this would not be a big deal, but we have the homeowners association from hell who police the area.  Seriously! We continually receive notices about something or another. We tend to be rebels without a cause. The notices  are gently placed in the round file. We are having our porch area painted and our house power washed, which was supposed to have been done a few weeks ago, but our dear Mr. Perkins literally drained our vacation fund, our house upgrade fund, and our camera and computer related items fund dry as the Sahara desert.  No kidding. Sucks.

Pink/Reddish Lilies

I love this variety of lily which resembles an azalea.  These guys will come year after year if taken care of them by either bringing them in the house over winter, placed in the garage, or well covered in case of frost or snow. That would be our problem with them, we continue to purchase them year after year because something of the three isn’t cared for properly. We have no house plants because we have two cats and they would love nothing more than to play in the dirt, eat the leaves, or destroy them in some other devious manner. So they all went bye-bye.

Whatever our problems are with our outside plants, we have managed to keep one yellow daisy like flower from dying off completely it, like our Hosta’s come back year after year as do some of our herbs in our herb garden. Once we stop using the front porch, things begin to die and we tend to forget to water our little friends, out of sight out of mind for sure. We need to resolve that issue this year. I think we said that last year, know we did. No sure what happened. Our new plants are so beautiful right now I have every confidence they will come back next year.

Maple trees from Japanese to vine maples, they brought at least four to six different varieties. These are but a few of the shrubs they had a couple of weeks ago. We purchased a couple a small Japanese maple and a dark red shrub, that I can’t remember the name. We have one in the front yard and it grows like crazy. I would love to have it grow the same in our back yard. We are still trying to figure out what to do back there. It is very small and strangely configured. When I say small, I mean small; as it is now a barbeque and small bistro table and chairs barely fit on the slab of cement, while the remainder is a stone path and row of shrubs and a few ferns. None are large and should be after being planted in for six years. They are the same size they were when the lawn guy put them in. I hate our back. It needs a serious over haul. If Mr. Perkins wouldn’t have used up our home renovation funds etc, we would have been close to having our dream backyard. All I can say is having a cat in the hospital for one month is a bit spendy.  So we will focus on our front porch the rest is not gonna happen…. We love our Mr. Perkins.  Next year, we will either put tiles or flagstone down in the entire space and have raised beds for a small garden and pots for our flowers and shrubs. I have seen this as a way to make a small space look spacious and cozy and very elegant in a some of those garden magazines and it looked awesome. Very easy to care for and little week problem. None actually. My kind of garden.

These were from pots filled with flowers.

Hanging baskets

Hanging baskets

Lavender and other wonderful smelling herbs and plants

One of my favorite photos which I had in a previous post, the red calla lily.

I hope you enjoyed seeing a post solely devoted to flowers. While there is still time to purchase foliage this year, (check the Portland Farmers Market for a list of vendors), keep them in mind for next year. You wont be disappointed.

Say hi to Maraya for us if you do check them out; in case you would like to know more  you can follow them on Facebook here.

Until next time. Cheers!


Soleil De Provence, I Struck Gold!

Well another Sunday and Market has come and gone. Hard to believe another one is nearly here. Each day at the market I like to select a vendor that represents a special “Wow Factor”. If you read last weeks blog you I featured  “Fancy My Feathers” which exemplified the “Wow Factor”, a named I coined (not really) which defines a product crafted by a local artist, chef, or florist, that basically would have what I consider the “Wow Factor”,  or “Wow”, I love that!  This weeks “Wow Factor” or feature product is by far the epitome of Wow. I am merely disappointed in myself for waiting so long to feature Nazare Dufosse and her business – Soleil de Provence, and the beautiful handcrafted tablecloths she creates. They are truly a work of art and made to make any table you own beautiful and the envy of those who see them.

Meet – Nazare Dufosse, Soleil De Provence

Nazare is a wonderful lady from France, we have chatted with on several occasions during our rounds at the market. She designs a unique line of tablecloths, table runners, place mats, and napkin holders all handcrafted from fabric originating in the Provence region of France.

Each piece is unique handcrafted by Nazare. Whether it is a tablecloth or the double-sided place-mats, her work is impeccable. The best feature is the fabric does not stain. Perfect for those occasions with guests and oops a spilled glass of red wine or barbecue sauce. No problem, the cloth is easy to wipe clean. The fabric is not the cheezy plastic kind that can wipe off. This material is fabulous. Each piece inspired by the french designs, with the quality top of the line and won’t break the bank. A mere wash off, and they are good to go for the next meal. Each tablecloth and set of place mats are perfect for either indoor or outdoor use. I prefer the above patterns for the outdoors, and her Jacquard patterns below for indoor use. That is merely my preference. They are for use for either indoor or outdoor use. These patterns are offered for round, square and oval-shaped tables. As I said perfect for outdoor use, matching place-mats designed for either round or square designed tables. Very unique. It is often difficult to find a place mat that will work well on a round table. Her designs work perfectly.

Place-mat for round table.

Her unique prints are available at least ten different prints, I am actually not certain of the number but there is one for just about anyone’s taste. All are unique to the region of Provence. Each table-cloth has a lovely colored bordered sewn around the end of the cloth. Depending on the pattern the colors of the border change with the design. She often offers a choice of borders. I love the lavender prints, for which we have two; one in yellow with lavender sprigs and a gray color with lavender sprigs. We also recently purchased a cloth with a bird pattern. Each color are popular designs within the French region of Provence.  Our tablecloths are round and custom-made to fit all our tables at no extra charge.  We use the yellow lavender cloth and the beautiful bird cloth for our two bistro tables on our front veranda. We use the grey lavender print for our backyard round table.  These table cloths are best ones I have ever owned and look very expensive but are very reasonably priced, as are all of her items. Trust me, you will be very happy with any of the patterns she carries. And will likely want to buy more than one.  We decided to have three different prints as they are so beautiful, I couldn’t decide on just one print.

Above, a place mat and matching table-cloth for a square table. Below are the numbers of prints available.

As I have said, all the cloths are popular french patterns used widely in France for table cloths and dish patterns. The quality is higher than I have seen in the stores or on-line.

Each tablecloth is stitched with a colored border for which she has usually one or two different colors to choose; whether you buy your tableware from her at the market or whether you order on-line via email, Nazare will take very good care of you.

This image displays the napkin holders which are very unique and made from the same fabric and prints used for the tablecloths and place mats. Your table will look fabulous with all three. We love ours. It makes everything more elegant.

Napkin holder

Jacquard patterns used for either indoor or outdoor use as well. This material is much more elegant for inside use. And the sizes vary, designed to fit most tables and can be custom fit to your table.

This fabric is also used to make hand crafted table runners. There is also a special coating on the fabric which helps to prevent stains. The fabric is very elegant and soft. Your table will look so elegant with one of the many designs she carries. I was amazed at the choices in fabric. The colors are vibrant and each patter different. It was difficult to choose but we had to of course purchase one of these as well. I opted for a table runner. Then decided when we got it home we wanted to use it for our coffee table. It made our living area table look more elegant.  The colors are vibrant and the fabric is very will stitched.

This image shows the unique french design in the Jacquard print. The material is soft and very well crafted. I am by no means an expert on table cloths, but these are some of the finest cloths I have seen. This fabric also has a special repellant to make clean up a breeze. The feel and look are very luxurious and soft. I am not sure if she makes napkins that match this material, but she might do so by special request.

As one can see, Nazare has a fantastic collection of colors in stock and take’s special and custom orders for anything you need to make your tables look fabulous and very elegant. You will have many colors and patterns to choose from. And from the quality you will not be disappointed. They are all crafted by hand with the utmost care.

One last glance at more colors. We love the high quality prints and patterns Nazare uses to make such beautiful and elegant tableware. We highly recommend her and her beautiful handcrafted tablecloths. So if you are looking for a gift for someone, or for yourself you will not be disappointed. Nazare takes immense pride in each piece she makes; each piece is a work of art. I don’t believe in featuring a product I have never tried out first or in most cases purchased. Whatever the occasion, Soleil de Provence will fit your needs. We receive so many compliments on how beautiful our tables look.  We decided to share the wealth with our friends and to those who follow us online, if you are looking for tablecloths, you must definitely check out those from Soleil de Provence. Nazare’s prices are also quite reasonable so don’t worry you will not break the bank to have your table look like a million dollars. If you don’t see Nazare at the Sunday market drop her an email, or contact here via phone. If you do decide to buy one of these high quality tablecloths, we hope you enjoy it as much as we do ours. All of ours are well used and well-loved.