Sunday, November 30, 2014

Blog Love

With Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook dominating our online expressive tendencies,  blogging has faded into the background of social media. If you're reading this, that means you still read blogs and I thank you. 

For my final November post I want to talk about the blogs I still read and am inspired by. There are reasons to stick with blogs: when it's a blog done right, you're guaranteed a satisfying read. 

My four favorite blogs have been around since I myself started blogging back in 2005, some before. All of them have been referenced in conversations with friends, all of them are written by published authors and ALL of them inspire and entice return visits.

Angry Chicken: Amy Karol has fun, interesting posts. The ones I love the most are the ones that totally make me relate to her as the '72-born mom of daughters livin' and creatin' in the Portland area. In recent months I have actually communicated with her (was mentioned in her blog!!) and was the first lucky member of her snail mail Greensleeves book club.

Ben and Birdy: Catherine Newman is an AMAZING writer. She really is. She wows me all the time with her posts. Check out this one about her son Ben at 14.  We also like the same kinds of books-any fiction she recommends, I read without hesitation. She has two kiddos, and her daughter is Julia's age, so I love her perspective on motherhood. I really resonated with this gem she wrote. When she writes about recipes, you instantly want to try it based on her description of the food. I make her crack broccoli all the time. I have had her respond to my comments before and when that happens, it brings joy. These bloggers are celebrities to me, I tell ya.

Posie Gets Cozy Alicia Paulson wows me regularly with her writing and her photos. She has lured me into several local Portland restaurants, etc. with posts about them. Her aesthetic is so pleasing. I love following along with tales of their beautiful adopted daughter "Mimi," the very picture of a Eloise Wilkin child. If ever there was a more fitting place for Amelia to end up, I can't imagine where it was. Alicia also does cool kits-I purchased her Miss Maggie Rabbit kit and made the girls bunnies one year for Easter.

Orangette: I love Molly's writing-she's been given a gift with it. She, like Catherine, can entice me to make a recipe just by its description. I've read both her books, too and they were amazing. I loved Delancy because it was about her marriage and the business of starting an Eater 38 restaurant in Seattle. I love that she's in the Northwest and I hope to one day eat the pizza at Delancy.

Do you read any of these blogs? What blogs do you regularly visit and read?

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Do You Have Any Advice For Those of Us Just Starting Out?

Give up sitting dutifully at your desk. Leave
your house or apartment. Go out into the world.

It's all right to carry a notebook but a cheap
one is best, with pages the color of weak tea
and on the front a kitten or a space ship.

Avoid any enclosed space where more than
three people are wearing turtlenecks. Beware
any snow-covered chalet with deer tracks
across the muffled tennis courts.

Not surprisingly, libraries are a good place to write.
And the perfect place in a library is near an aisle
where a child a year or two old is playing as his
mother browses the ranks of the dead.

Often he will pull books from the bottom shelf.
The title, the author's name, the brooding photo
on the flap mean nothing. Red book on black, grey
book on brown, he builds a tower. And the higher
it gets, the wider he grins.

You who asked for advice, listen: When the tower
falls, be like that child. Laugh so loud everybody
in the world frowns and says, "Shhhhh."

Then start again.

-Ron Koertge

Friday, November 28, 2014

Make a Wish!

I'm a big wisher.
That's why, when I found out about this, I was jazzed, to say the least. 
Portland has a wishing tree and finding its NE 7th and Morris location is a snap.  
I highly recommend a visit.
What I love about the wishes is that there are really profound wishes and there are simple wishes. All have their place on this grand Chestnut in NE..........
"I wish that Lloyd the Owl would let us see him."
"I wish my heart wasn't broken."
"I wish that Canada would annex USA."
"I wish I could meet a fairy."
There's a bag of empty tags and a pen hanging on the tree for you to add your own wish to the tree. 
The tree represents a few of our own family's wishes, letting them dangle sacredly.  

What would you wish for today?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Birthday to Him!

See this little guy right here, the little guy with the white pants covered in anchors? 
He's my brother Ryan, and today he turns 40.  

If years were ounces he'd be a tall boy.  

Nothin' but love for ya, blood. Nothin' but love.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Things You Are Thankful For

Marshalls had a book of LISTS the other day that I almost bought because I love making lists. Instead, I took a snapshot of the lists in the table of contents and figured I could compile the lists in any old notebook, or anywhere, even here. 

The appropriately titled list: Things You are Thankful For seems like a fitting one to compile the week of Thanksgiving. So, here goes.
Kids who say funny things.
Finding a love rock.
My dog and how happy she always is to see me.
Awesome co-workers past and present.
Big Hunks and Coffee Rios.
Miley, Julia, Avery, Martha, Ryan, Andy, Meghann, Maddie, Drew....
Instant Trader Joe's coffee.
Parenthood, the show.
Satellite radio.
The cabin.
Jazz hands.
Reading a really engaging book.
Skinny pop.
Family movies.
Cardio Jam.
Weight Watchers.
Good teachers.
The woods.
Good smells.
Good health.

What are YOU thankful for?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Recipes to Give Thanks For

Brussels Sprouts on a stalk are highly satisfying to pop off the stalk

This week we will be heading up to the cabin to give thanks with my mom and brother Ryan.  I will be bringing I Can't Believe It's Not Sweet Potato Casserole which I make every year, Saigon Brussels Sprouts and for dessert, we will be having Trader Joe's Mini Pumpkin Pies.

Do you have any favorite Thanksgiving recipes that you'll be bringing to Thanksgiving this year?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Top Five Weekend Haps

5. Saturday afternoon I made myself a mug of sweet and spicy tea and sat down to finish Some Luck. Though quiet, this book was good, strangely soothing in its' rhythm. Each chapter featured glimpses into another year in the life of an Iowan farm family, beginning in the depression and covering 40 years. It gave me a tiny glimpse into what life might have been like for several of my ancestors on my dad's side who lived in Iowa in the 1850's. It's the first in a trilogy so I will look forward to the continuation of this family's tale, having already met several generations.

4. Saturday the girls and I went and Julia tried on dresses at The Vault, a vintage clothing store in Beaverton.  The girls have been watching Hairspray so Julia's been set on finding a dress like the ones they wear in the movie. She promptly fell in love with a gauzy formal and can't get it out of her brain. She calls it her "Soul Dress"and wants to spend some of her own money on it. It's tough to know just how to proceed-take the practical route-it has some need for repair, it's expensive, it won't fit her forever, or let her buy herself something she really really wants and feels dreamy in.......
It makes her very happy
3. Post dress-bliss/anguish (because we'd walked out of the store to "think about it") I took them to Frice Pastry on N. Williams Saturday evening as I'd read about it here and placed it on my list of treat places to try. Julia's favorite was the macarons, Avery's the eclair, mine the pumpkin spice macaron.
2. Sunday we went and saw Ivy and Bean: The Musical. Both girls had read books in the Ivy and Bean series when they were younger. It's a really good first Chapter book for girls. The play was geared for ages 4 and up, so I was a little worried it would be "babyish" for my 9 and 11 year-olds. What we found was that it was hilarious and well done, right down to the brilliant evil laughs Bean's big sister Nancy did before running offstage. Super fun. 

1. We had a late breakfast at Cup and Saucer after the play. There, we saw Julianne, a gal I'd met when my mom and I went on the Al-a-non retreat-she was one of the chefs responsible for feeding us on the retreat. Her family owns the Cup and Saucer(s) and she was waitressing there today, so I said hi and reminded her that we'd chatted at the retreat. As we were getting ready to go, I said we were lucky to get to eat a tasty meal out there, and she turned to the girls, interested in convincing them they were lucky-for a meal out, for a good mom to take them for a meal out. She said something like, "It's harder than it looks. Little things are a lot of work. It's like turning on a light switch or opening the cupboard to find something to eat, or putting on clean clothes.  Each of those things your mom had to think about."  I loved her wisdom. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Saturday, November 22, 2014


Ryan, myself and my dad circa 1977 in the San Juan Islands

I miss my dad. Lots of things remind me of him.

The other day I was letting my husband smell a new perfume I was wearing and he told the girls, "You know what your grandpa used to call perfume? He called it 'smell pretty'."

I loved that he remembered that and that my dad gave us so many great ways to remember him with his funny phrases and hilarious personality. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Best Things I've Eaten in Portland, Oregon

At the risk of sounding like a complete HOG ( whore....lush) the way that my husband and I live it up ( extravagant....celebrate) is to get out for the occasional meal in the city, much to the delight of our taste buds. I am now going to write a post about the best things I've put into my gullet that PTown, town of food, has to offer.  In my humble opinion, you can't go wrong if you try ANY of this.......
The Woodsman Tavern's double cheeseburger
 The Woodsman Tavern's take on a double cheeseburger. It's a two-napkin affair. 

Tasty and Alder's Saigon Brussel Sprouts. Wow. I could make a meal of them alone and die happy.

Jakes Famous Crawfish makes a cocktail called a Basil Grape Refresher that is super satisfying. 

Broder used to make a meatball sandwich on a brioche bun. DANG. I don't see it on the menu anymore but it was tasty. My daughter had it and I kept asking for bites.

Khao Man Gai's chicken and rice. Enough said. You have to do it.

Por Que No? and their chips and guacamole? A pleasing meal in and of itself. The chips are thick and homemade. Kinda like pita chips but not pita chips. As Nacho Libre would say, they are like the "Lord's CHEEPS."

Mad Sons Good N' Plenty is one of the best cocktails I've had. 

Whenever POK POK features a whole fish on its' menu, get it. It will be served with herbs and this amazing clear herby sauce and more herbs and you eat it in lettuce and herbs and your mouth is so happy with all the flavors. Be sure to also chase it down with some SOM, or drinking vinegar, which I LOVE. Go to POK POK on a Sunday at three. You won't wait long. 

The butter lettuce salad at St. Jack. So good.

The roast chicken and schmaltz potatoes at Olympic Provision

Clyde Common's Gin Mary

Country Ham with Biscuits and pepper jelly at Irving Street Kitchen
Andina's scrumptious Empanadas and mojitos. 

Cup and Saucer's vanilla butter scones are delectable and delicious and require a close-up:
Whiffies makes an amazing mounds pie. 

Blue Star's blueberry basil and passionfruit/cocoa nub donuts are TO. Die. For. 
Two Tart's Cappucino Creams are delectable coffee and cinnamon flavored sandwich cookies that blow any other sandwich cookie out of the water. 
I've mentioned Oui Presse and their tasty cafe creme. Very good coffee beverage, me thinks.
Palace Cakes vanilla bucky is the cupcake of my dreams. They get it right in each category: flavor, texture, and overall yum factor.

Sweet Pea Bakery's chick o' stick cake is my favorite. It's like a butterfinger flavored cake, a little bit of peanut butter, a little bit of toffee, a whole lot of good. I do not see it on their menu anymore so maybe I shouldn't have mentioned it but it is definitely worthy of being on this list. 

Loretta Jean's makes two very tasty pies: chocolate chess and black raspberry streusel. You can swing by there after eating at POK POK for a slice of each. You're welcome.

Lastly, I want you to go to Pie Spot and I want you to get a chocolate peanut butter pie hole and I want you to savor it because it is really a tiny little treat worth savoring. Then I want some sort of kick back for introducing you to your new favorite treat. 


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thrifting Thursday

I have many collections of things, (agates! books! earrings!) but I'd like to introduce you to one of my zaniest: my LADY MUGS.  What better way to keep track of which mug is yours than to have a  name on it, hence I've snatched up clever ones at Good Willies when I see them.  Not every mug with a lady name on it earns a spot in my cupboard, but when it's from Orcas Island, (one of my favorite places!) and it has a lady name on it, boom it's suddenly part of the Lady Mug collection.  Julia's friend Marisa is especially enamored of it so if anything ever happens to me, she gets it. You heard it here first, folks.

My favorite lady mug says PAM is the GREATEST. Each time I use it, I smile.
Do you have any cool collections you want to reveal to the blogosphere?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Hobby Talk

In high school, I loved to make my boyfriend big collages on poster boards. Though they featured girly imagery and kissing people, like a boy in love, he willingly hung them in his room.  I have never stopped making collages. In much the same way that cream soda or sweetened earl grey are my favorite things to drink, collage has stuck as my favorite thing to make.

I have sold several of my collages, but the majority end up being given to school auctions or as gifts to people getting married. Most hang in my house somewhere. One time I made a collage for my hairdresser's nursery in lieu of a tip.  I've only ever sold one thing in my currently empty etsy shop, to my mother-in-law.  She also graciously purchased a bunch of collages and pillows once during a visit then returned to Michigan, her suitcase stuffed with Tia-made gifts, and her luggage was lost and never recovered. Who knows where those creations ended up.

I am still figuring out how to make my collage-crafting a HABIT, occurring often rather than cyclically. My next goal is to figure out a way to make prints of the collages I make because that will allow me to sell them for less and ship them for less. I have a few sources for printing in my back pocket. I am reading a book by Lilla Rogers, an agent to artists, who has all sorts of good information about how to put yourself out there and find a market for the kinds of things you create.

Here's a few of the collages I've made over the past few years......

This was a collage I made especially for my husband. One of my more recent ideas was to make collages based on cool old houses I'd seen on some of the urban hikes we've taken in Portland. These were actual houses I saw in the Ladd's Addition neighborhood. I took pictures of them and then piece by piece created them again out of paper. I like how they turned out on a birch background, too.
This was it before, and then here it is after......

 This is the largest collage I've made. It's now enhancing our playroom walls. 
This hangs in our bathroom

 I've made a few cards......

My next idea is to make educational posters with positive messages for use in elementary classrooms. I made this design on a large canvas to hang in the space I share with two other teachers. The letters are made of children's book illustrations (I snatch the large copies when the library has a sale) and then I did a color photo-copy of the spines of books for the bottom.....
The joy continues. I love this hobby of mine.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Good Use for a Jar

Since I've been blogging again there's a critical inner voice sounding off in ways I don't like. It says things like,"You do too many posts about _____, nobody's going to think you_____!" It accuses,"You don't write about ______ enough, what are you, ______?"

Anne Lamott's genius book about writing, Bird by Bird has some really good things to say about this very topic.

"What I've learned to do when I sit down to write a shitty first to quiet the voices in my head............Quieting those voices is at least half the battle I fight daily.............I happened to mention this to a hypnotist I saw......... he gave me the following exercise......Close your eyes and get quiet for a minute, until the chatter starts up. Then isolate one of the voices and imagine the person speaking as a mouse. Pick it up by the tail and drop it into a mason jar. Then isolate another voice, pick it up by the tail, drop it in the jar. And so on...........Then put the lid on, and watch all these mouse people clawing at the glass, jabbering away, trying to make you feel like shit because you won't do what they want. Then imagine that there is a volume-control button on the bottle. Turn it all the way up for a minute and listen to the stream of angry, neglected, guilt-mongering voices. Then turn it all the way down and watch the frantic mice lunge at the glass, trying to get to you.  Leave it down, and get back to your shitty first draft."

I just love this. I need to continue to remember it when negative voices are filling my head and bogging me down, keeping me from confidently doing my thing.

Anne Lamott knows. (I can't talk about her too much without getting sad because she was in Portland this week and I wanted to go listen to her so bad and get her book for my brother and have her sign it, and the weather was crappy and I ended up staying in). 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Top Five Weekend Haps

I like to call her Lisa Lisa and Cardio Jam
5. Friday morning I headed to the gym at 8:00am for Cardio Jam. It was an especially special day because it just celebrated its 4th year! I brought Lisa, our awesome teacher, a big flamboyant wig and made a big show of placing it on her head as she knelt before me, crowning her the Dancing Queen, thanking her for giving me and all of us our grooves.
the mural I laid my eyes on at Farina Bakery during a quick trip there Friday
4. I made a really good dinner Friday night: penne and meat sauce, crack broccoli and garlic bread, with mini pumpkin pies for dessert. (Oh, SOO good, those mini pumpkin pies, they were sampling them at Trader Joe's and had we not tried them, I doubt I would've bought them). After the kids were down we watched Wish I Was Here. There's nothing like sharing a good movie with someone you love and them enjoying it as much as you. 
this absolutely adorable ornament hung at new seasons and cheered me to no end when i was grocery shopping there on friday
 3. Saturday I took Avery to ballet and after that we went to the Dilley Elementary bazaar out in Forest Grove and found some great items for Christmas gifts. We also met the Love Rock mom, and it was very moving to speak with her, I got a little choked up thinking about what she's been through. 

2. Sunday my husband and I got to steal away for lunch. We tried Andina for the first time. It's Peruvian and we had a wonderful table with a huge window overlooking the crisp, sunny November day. I inhaled my mojito (it was SO good!!) and my favorite tapas we got was definitely the empanadas. Fun to sneak out for a few hours and we tried a new babysitter that was AWESOME!

1. Sunday night I went to an interfaith gospel concert in Portland with a friend from cardio jam and her mom at the Mt. Tabor Presbytarian Church. What an uplifting and wonderful way to end the weekend.

In this life, I am blessed, and it keeps me blessed to count those blessings. 
What were YOUR top five weekend haps? Do tell.....

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Things I Like at 11

marisa and julia

Back in the day I documented what Julia liked, as an eight-year-old.  Here's what she's digging at 11.

my family
white tigers
nail polish
the flute
my tablet
peppermint bark
St. Patrick's Day
lavender flavored things
Ms. S
Chinese class
hairstyles (ponytails!)
Hunger Games movies
my warm up jacket
Shooting Kabul (the saddest book I ever read)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Twenty Things I Love

At six, Avery wrote a list of 20 of her favorite things in a notebook. When I saw it, I thought it would be fun to publish here, a tiny window into her world.

Three years later at nine, these are her favorite things. Check it out!
1. Mom
2. Molly
3. Daddy
4. Julia
5. our dollhouse
6. snow days
7. Jack Black movies
8. tea
9. fruit loops
10. sewing
11. the park
12. dancing
13. Harry Potter Kinex
14. playdates with friends
15. school
16. school activities: (fun run, spring fling, fall festival)
17. board games
18. Star Wars
19. turquoise, brown, grey lime green and pink
20. a clean room
21. writing
22. reading
23. book reports
24. nonfiction

Friday, November 14, 2014

Out and About in Portland

Often I have Friday off and I've been know to take a blank box on the calendar as an opportunity to have an adventure. Recently, I packed up my laptop and headed into Portland to try out Oui Presse, a cafe I'd read about. I wanted to do some writing, and also to try some of their offerings.

Oui Presse is known for their "gourmet" peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  I got mine sans butter, and was warned that the pb&j would soak into the bread, but as testament to the sandwich, I ate it too fast for that to happen. The peanut butter was freshly ground, the jam sweet and fruity, and I'm a sucker for homemade bread cut thick, so altogether the effect was quite pleasing.  I also enjoyed a cafe creme, an especially pleasing alternative to the latte I usually order, especially once sweetened.
You have to mix it up. How can you not with Portland's huge supply of fun destinations? I say just say "OUI"to days off and to Oui Presse.