Tuesday, October 15, 2013


I was just talking with friends about my blog. I actually said, "Yeah, I think I'm done." And yet.....now, out of the blue, inspiration has hit and I thought I'd share a few discoveries. 

1) If you ever go to Cupcake Royale in Seattle, just for me, have a white cupcake with buttercream frosting. It will change your life, because there, they do that right, that white cupcake thing with GOOOOOD buttercream. 

Also, when you see cookies, and they are Bacon Crack* Cookies, you should probably do what I did and get one and break it up and share it with your rarely culinarily curious children. It will be worth it. They will smile, and say "Wow." It might just encourage future risk-taking bites. 

2) I have recently scored a few amazing children's books at the library, like this one, and this one, and this one! Of course I simply can't forget THIS series by Mary Calhoun, which the girls and I read over the summer and which we just finished last night. So sad we are done, but they were so good, especially for any girls (and I'm NOT mentioning any names) who might think BOYS are the devil and who might just ABHOR the idea of ever liking a boy. Luckily, they also featured the adventures of a girl with an awful lot of spunk, determined not to live a "little life." She is rich.

3) This man's music. I listen to a lot of jazz. Avery actually claims jazz makes her carsick. No matter. The other day this guy was on with a song about Green Grass. It was so nice. He has this super deep and beautiful voice. I am really loving Be Good (Lion's Song). I think I'm going to get into this guy the way I did with Esparanza Spalding. 

4) I will end with a poem I just read and loved, in the same vein of the love of all the above. 

Aimless Love

This morning as I walked along the lakeshore,
I fell in love with a wren
and later in the day with a mouse
the cat had dropped under the dining room table. 

In the shadows of an autumn evening,
I fell for a seamstress
still at her machine in the tailor’s window,
and later for a bowl of broth,
steam rising like smoke from a naval battle. 

This is the best kind of love, I thought,
without recompense, without gifts,
or unkind words, without suspicion,
or silence on the telephone. 

The love of the chestnut,
the jazz cap and one hand on the wheel. 

No lust, no slam of the door –
the love of the miniature orange tree,
the clean white shirt, the hot evening shower,
the highway that cuts across Florida. 

No waiting, no huffiness, or rancor –
just a twinge every now and then 
for the wren who had built her nest
on a low branch overhanging the water
and for the dead mouse,
still dressed in its light brown suit. 

But my heart is always propped up
in a field on its tripod,
ready for the next arrow. 

After I carried the mouse by the tail
to a pile of leaves in the woods,
I found myself standing at the bathroom sink
gazing down affectionately at the soap, 
so patient and soluble,
so at home in its pale green soap dish.

I could feel myself falling again
as I felt its turning in my wet hands
and caught the scent of lavender and stone. 

–Billy Collins

*Bacon Crack is a term coined by Cupcake Royale to describe toffee with bacon in it.  I'm certain it's wonderful solo, but in a cookie? Great. Yes.

Monday, October 14, 2013


We just took a brief jaunt to Washington for the weekend, the girls and I. Drove up on a Friday and was pleasantly surprised when both girls, exhausted from sleepovers the night before, slept on the way north. It allowed me some quiet driving time singing along with Pandora. It was so cool, all the songs I'd ever thumbs-up'ed played on my Weepies station. Sweet!
Here, four-year-old Benjamin models his Fedora.

Our first stop was my dear friend Molly's. This is Molly of the ten marathons, Molly who I went to college with. Her family hosted us up real nicely.  

We had a yummy pizza dinner out at Flying Squirrel Pizza and chased that with some ice cream at Full Tilt.  I am still full of remorse about ordering BORING VANILLA when there was Blue Moon, like a lick of fruity pebbles. YUM. Pinball was fun, too. The girls had never played it before.

We hit a soccer game in the am for Miss-Lucy-the-Fabulous and then hit Cupcake Royale. All the FINE eating aside, it was really fun to have some time on their turf, as it had been a LONG time since we'd been up to visit them. Love getting out of our space to see friends.
Saturday we headed east to Duvall to visit another fabulous friend o'mine and her family: Meagan. We were going to get to join her and her cheeldren at a Cider Making party, fully replete with a cider press,  many pounds of apples, and a bunch of cool people we'd never met before. There were also some VERY CUTE PUGS.

Note the NUT HUT behind us. I won't mention what grows there, but remember it IS Washington. Another road safely travelled, another fun time with friends. Hanging out in Washington was a blast, but we headed home Sunday to reunite with our dog and dad. Glad to go, and ever-so-glad to return. 

Monday, July 08, 2013

Thanks Angry Chicken and Todd Oldham

Today we had friends over and played. But in addition to playing, we also made.  I had read this post at Angry Chicken, and requested the book it references, intending to learn exactly how to make super fun packing tape post cards. Who doesn't love getting fun mail? As a child who used to have pen pals and communicate with them via fun mailed creations, I was INTO it.

So today we tried it. I thought it might be a nightmare to deal with packing tape but it really wasn't! Okay, so there was the accidental lean with an elbow, and the dog tried to eat a few of the sheets I made. Overall though, not bad at all. I even made a postcard, and intend to make more.

Someone out there has an awful lot of fun heading to their mailbox!

Friday, June 07, 2013

Advice to Writers

Even if it keeps you up all night,
wash down the walls and scrub the floor of the study before composing a syllable.

Clean the place as if the Pope were on his way. Spotlessness is the niece of inspiration.

The more you clean, the more brilliant your writing will be, so do not hesitate to take to the open fields to scour the undersides of rocks or swab in the dark forest upper branches, nests full of eggs.

When you find your way back home and stow the sponges and brushes under the sink,
you will behold in the light of dawn the immaculate altar of your desk, a clear surface in the middle of a clean world.

From a small vase, sparkling blue, lift a yellow pencil, the sharpest of the bouquet, and cover pages with tiny sentences like long rows of devoted ants that followed you in from the woods.

-Billy Collins
(I found this via Kelly Corrigan, a new favorite, whose book Lift, I just finished)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

How to Have an Amazing Mother's Day

1. Get your people (and especially the "head" of your people)to let you decide on each detail of the day because mothers deserve a whole day to decide the details. Or, maybe you want THEM to decide the details. It's important on Mother's Day that your heart is happy with the results. 
2. Go somewhere with those people who made you a mother. Don't go somewhere you don't want to go. Go somewhere you like going, somewhere that is new, or old, wherever it is that puts a smile on your face. We went into Portland, to a deli with yummy sandwiches, and to several bakeries with yummy treats. 
3. Have yummy treats. I had an egg cream, homemade oreos. Something tasty that you can all enjoy and remember really does make the day fun, especially if it comes wrapped in a box with a grossgrain ribbon. We got treats at two of my favorite bakeries in Portland: Two Tarts and Bluebird Bakers.

4. Wear something that you like. This navy eyelet dress was $10 at Old Navy.
5. Take a family picture. Sometimes this means standing and trying to get everyone in the frame with your I Phone until a stranger offers.

6. Stop, or if you are made to stop, savor the lessons in that brief pause.
7. Go again, but this time on a bike, with the people you love, near water, or nature, or both. See what's around you. Delight in baby ducks.
8. Take more pictures of your people. This never fails to remind you of your many blessings.
9. Stand somewhere amazing and be amazed by the space. This was taken in the UO building downtown. 

10. Let a good cook cook for you, and request a meal you enjoy. Here I enjoyed halibut, yummy mashed potatoes, a bit of texas caviar, and cilantro sauce/dip with the fish. It was heavenly. I am very lucky to have a good cook for a husband.

11. Reflect on the goodness of the day, and be glad. This day comes but once a year and you deserve every minute of its goodness.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Some Things About My Mother

Here we are all clean 
and settled in 
for an episode of Little House.

I guarantee we teared up together,
despite the deadpan face 
below the head scarf 
in home movies,
she taught me 
how to have a heart 
that got straight A's in Caring Class.

With her I've laughed my most aerobic laughter,
bent over the pages of David Sedaris in an empty house on a blow up mattress.

She gave me things
like artistic ability and
calves that in shadows
look the same width as thighs.

She made me clothes on a deadline, staying up late to finish.
I remember the thrill of finding 
a white blouse and light blue striped skirt hanging pinned to a hanger 
 the next day.

She nourished me 
with favorites like salmon ring or creamed chipped beef on toast.

To this day the volume of her sneeze surprises me.

Once she jumped rope with me and I laughed at the way her boobs bounced.
She didn't get mad.

She used to tell me my mother was a really good gal,
she'd met her at the grocery store once.

She's been known to get high 
on nature
I totally get that now, 
something about the smell of coniferous trees in the sun.

We laugh at her pronunciation of Queezenos
she calls potential POtential,
and we remember the way, 
when we were teenagers finally home for the night, 
she would come down to check on us, 
her robe clutched around her chin and her face sleepy.

We both hate snakes.

When spontaneous dancing overtakes me (or ANYONE) it is her favorite.

She knows me 
both the way she wants to know me
and probably pretty accurately.

She has definitely taken liberties 
about my perfection,

but nobody else believes in me
like she does,
so i have jokingly borrowed lyrics, 
telling her 
she's the wind beneath my wings.

But seriously,
she is.
-Me, 2013


Friday, May 03, 2013

Ikea Idea

Somewhere along the line the girls and I started playing around with these Ikea beads and the next thing you know we'd given birth to earrings. Basically you create a cool design out of beads, then create another one, iron them simultaneously so as to create a uniform sheen and meltedness, poke earring hardware through one of the top beads' centers and VOILA! EARRINGS! We made several pairs of these and they were very fun and easy, the kids really got into it, too. Try it out!

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

This is now. Now is,
all there is. Don't wait for Then;
strike the spark, light the fire.
Sit at the Beloved's table,
feast with gusto, drink your fill
then dance
the way branches
of jasmine and cypress
dance in a spring wind.

The green earth
is your cloth;
tailor your robe
with dignity and grace.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

National Poem in Your Pocket Day

Today at the library I saw a little flier by the checkout desk that said:

"Celebrate National Poem In Your Pocket Day on Thursday, April 18, 2013.The idea is simple: select a poem you love during National Poetry Month then carry it with you to share with co-workers, family, and friends." I love this!

Here is the poem I have just put in my pocket, a little late, but still.....

You must always keep in mind that a path is only a path.
Each path is only one of a million paths.
If you feel that you must now follow it,
you need not stay with it under any circumstances.
Any path is only a path. 
There is no affront to yourself or others in dropping a path
if that is what your heart tells you to do. 
But your decision to keep on a path or to leave it 
must be free of fear and ambition. 
I caution you: look at every path closely and deliberately. 
Try it as many times as you think necessary.
Then ask yourself and yourself alone this one question.
Does this path have a heart? 

All paths are the same. They lead nowhere.
They are paths going through the brush or into the brush
or under the brush of the Universe. 
The only question is: Does this path have a heart?
If it does, then it is a good path.
If it doesn’t, then it is of no use.

–Carlos Castaneda

Saturday, April 13, 2013


Dear Avery,

It's been awhile since I've written to you on your birthday, all the more reason to update you on who you are now: OLDER, for one thing and also, more and more awesome, if that's possible. 

You turned eight yesterday. You knew how you wanted to celebrate your birthday as soon as you got home from your friend Mya's birthday in January: you wanted a slumber party with the same two friends, the same dinner destination (Red Robin!) and the same mousse cups for dessert. Your day was a true celebration, with the aforementioned delights but also nickel games at Wunderland and a viewing of Freaky Friday that night.

Gotta love Skeeball.

A favorite gift this birthday was a label maker, which you have already used and loved, depleting the tape in one whole cartridge. We are all walking around wearing stickers that say "Awesome." 

But enough about the WHAT of eight, let's talk about the WHO. 

You, my sweet girl, are amazing. 

I look at pictures of you and see the many sides to you, all which make you so much more than a beautiful face. You are tender-hearted and empathetic, able to take others' feelings into account. Maybe this is because you yourself feel things (from excitement to disappointment) with gusto. 

You are present and notice everything, remembering everything too. You and I have the same habit of finding similarities in people. You often say, "She reminds me of so-and-so" and they really do look alike. 

You like school and you get absorbed with playing school.  You are a super writer at school and I love your stories. You have written a series about a Bad Cat and I can't wait to see where it's going to go. You also like listening to music and singing. You LOVE LOVE LOVE Kit your American Girl. You have also been working on swimming this year and are oh so close to finishing your last swimming lesson. That's been exciting to watch your improvement in the pool. 

Molly dog is another favorite. You are very good at sitting with her and engaging her in some sort of game where she's choosing pick up sticks with large puppy paws. You call her "sweetie" and give her lots of attention.

You are a helper, always there to run and get me things I need.  You are connected to me, making a point to kiss me goodbye when I leave the house and giving me sweet notes. As your mom I am so lucky to get to witness your full personality, as you save your quieter side for the public. I love the silly side of you and the side that loves a good laugh. You are funny!

You know what you like, are particular about foods you like to eat. Right now your favorite snacks are seaweed and mango and you prefer to snack more than eat regular meals. You still love hamburgers, chocolate and carrots. Lately you have discovered spaghetti with meat sauce and salad. 

You used to get more nervous and scared but you have become more brave. The other day you and your sister got your ears pierced and YOU went first! Your sister is both your best friend and your biggest enemy at times. You play so well together and then will erupt into loud and terrible arguments, and whereas you used to compromise more and let her get her way, these days you are putting up more of a fight about what you want and need, which I'm glad to see.
Avery, I am loving watching you grow and change. I am so glad with a capital G to have you as my daughter.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Neice. Nephew.

I haven't yet met Drew here on the right, but look at that smile. I can just smell his baby smell and hear his tiny grunts and see his mini fist doing its mini fist thing. And look at that big sister of his looking on so dearly. SHE is a character, telling her parents "Vamanos" to get them out of the house, and talking on FaceTime to her cousins (chin in hands) about her favorite type of pizza: cheese.

I love these little people, so.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Dawgs and Dawllers

Oh how having a dog changes everything.

Like going on a trip. When you leave for a week to sunny San Diego for spring break, your dog doesn't get to come with you on the plane. So you check her into a kennel and hope that this time, she isn't labelled shy and timid, and that this time, she dives in headfirst and doesn't come home with kennel cough.

This time, indeed, Molly's report card read: "Friendly" and "Active." This time instead of giving us the trainer's business card for shyness, they gave us the trainer's business card for behavior training, to which I reply, "Come on, she's still just a puppy!" (Despite her large size and weight: 68 pounds).

In the seven months we've owned her, Molly has presented us with the usual puppy challenges. She digs up the yard. Her peeing has ruined our lawn. There's the jumping, the biting, the counter surfing. The floors are covered in her shedding fur. And yet it's only been in the past few months that we've felt more of the strain of being dog owners. If you want to race out and get a full bred puppy of some sort, read on, to discourage yourself.

This morning my alarm came from Molly's crate, the sound of hurling. Usually she laps up her hurl, (I know! Gross!) but this time it was all still there. I cleaned it up and inspected it, and within the contents were the fibers of a half-eaten hand knit washcloth, a sliver of undigested rawhide, and....wait for it.....a rock.

She loves to push her enamel dog dish around aggressively once she's finished eating. It's like a compulsion. Most recently, the effects of this were that the dog dish got RAMMED just right into the corner of our glass oven door, causing it to shatter into a million little shards. Luckily it was safety glass, and it held, but we had to replace the glass in the door to the tune of about $300.  Next she got fixed, which was another expense, but pretty seamless in terms of the incision healing, etc. plus it bought us a week of a very calm and sedated dog.  Then she had an ear infection in her left ear. Not a week after an ear re-check we took her in because following the pulverizing of a new toy, she kept hacking like she had something stuck in her throat. We had x-rays done only to discover that there was nothing stuck and she instead was coughing because she had kennel cough. Cue her second round of antibiotics. Upon picking her up after our San Diego trip, I noticed her right ear was red and irritated. Today's vet visit corroborated a second ear infection. Thankfully a topical treatment was prescribed, one we already had at home from the last ear infection.

Then, not minutes after we got home from the vet, I was out lint rolling the front seat where she'd sat and when I came in, Avery said, "Mom! What's all this blood everywhere?" Upon surveying the scene, sure enough, tiny fresh blood drops trailed all over the floors, dotted the walls, and were smeared occasionally on doors and trim. What the?

It was a mystery for awhile, but we knew it was coming from the dog. I figured during one of her counter surfs she'd scored a knife, as is her way. Turns out, it was her tail that was all bloody and Julia admitted (with shame) to slamming the bathroom door to keep Molly out, catching her tail accidentally in the door. HELLO! Poor poor dog! I am watching it and worried about it, like I worry about Julia when her asthma acts up. This pet business is about being a parent all over again. Will it mean another vet visit? Will she need a cone to keep her from fussing with a wound that doesn't seem to want to stop bleeding? AAAAAA!

There are bright spots, though, always bright spots. Like yesterday, when I took a gamble and left her inside while I trekked to Costco, in search of a new food to try with her in case her ear infections are being caused by an allergy of some sort. I expected to come home and find our Sheffelia munched, or one of my pillows torn, or SOMETHING. All I found was a sweet dog face greeting me at the window, and a return to her rawhide in the corner once she'd greeted me with lots of wags and happy grunts. She was a CHAMP. I was so proud of her and pumped her full of praise. We never leave her in the house when we go anywhere, so this was a success!

People warned us about puppies, and full bred dogs. People said, "Don't get a lab. They are spazes for three years. They shed. They stink." We went ahead and did it anyway.

Despite the stresses and strains, cleaning up blood and vomit, paying another vet bill, I can honestly say that I can't imagine life without our Molly dog. One of the best parts of my day was tossing the ball for my retriever again and again in the backyard.
After a visit to the vet the next day, we found that our dear Mol had quite the laceration on the tip of her tail. Jump forward a week + and we're on week two of sedation, cone, antibiotics, and pain/inflamation meds so as to help this thing heal. Too bad she's such a WAGGER. It is healing but slated to be bandaged for another 2-3 weeks. It's going to be like not having a dog for awhile, but hopefully she will be back in business.  Poor, poor girl. We love her so. Those underwear are to help her from banging it on stuff while it's healing. Luckily she hasn't done any damage to her bandage.  Sigh.....

Monday, April 01, 2013

Destination San Diego Spring Break 2013

This year for spring break we put the dog in the kennel and hopped on a plane to sunny San Diego. Virgin America equips each seat with its own screen, and here the girls are indulging in a whole heck of a lot of tweeny bopper shows on Disney, the ones mom never lets them normally watch.
San Diego was a bit overcast upon arrival. Still, it was different and warmer and the tropical foliage immediately had me sucked in. Check out the view from the condo we rented on VRBO....
Whilst in San Diego, we did a lot. We hit the beach....it felt a lot like Oregon but with cooler shells.

We hit LaJolla. What a pretty spot. From the seals on the beach to the yummy restaurants, to Sprinkles cupcakes, it was a worthwhile stop.

We did Sea World. My favorites were the belugas and the sea turtles and flamingos. They get that color from their diet high in beta.

We did Lego Land, too. Check out these sweet RVs built of Legos.
We LOVED the San Diego zoo. We hopped right onto a shuttle and saw the park and then walked around and saw other highlights. It's such a pretty zoo, tons of beautiful foliage and natural habitats and huge enclosures.

This guy was quite something to get so close to.
It's a big enough zoo that taking a tram from one end to another makes perfect sense.

 One afternoon we headed over the bridge to Coronado......

...... a wonderful stop for some shopping and sight seeing. This hotel has been around since the late 1800's. Pretty sweet, I say.

One of the girls' favorite things to do was to hit the pool. They made some friends from Colorado, Greta and Elsa, and inevitably they were able to hang at the pool with them a bit, offering dad poolside chill time and mom time to walk on the beach.....

LOVE YOU SAN DIEGO. Thanks for a great spring break! It was awesome!