Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The secret to good photographs

When the light is just right
It's all about the light. And catching those magical moments when the light is just right. You don't always get it when you want it, but when it's there, everything is awash in something beautiful, and special. I don't always have my camera when I see them, but this time it wasn't far away.

The green vase on the wall is from my grandparent's farm in Kansas. I should put a flower in it, shouldn't I? I'm off to the garden... Keep your eyes open for that magic light. It makes everything look good.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Random thoughts about visiting Portland’s new Ikea during opening week

• I don’t think i want the shrimp and egg toast for breakfast. However, their breakfasts are decent and very decently priced.
• Wow. I can get there without taking the freeway from our house.
• If you get there first thing in the AM it’s much less crowded than later on a weekend: oy vey, looking at that afternoon line to get in was painful. Just glad we weren't in it.
• The lighting selection is just as much fun as I remember: I must have this...

• They have fabric
• They have leather couches now: ooh la la
• There are pet items
• Pillow covers and pillow stuffers are ingenious
• Crowded shopping pisses people off. To the blonde mom and daughter blocking the way to the pillows: honey, don’t be snappy with strangers like that in front of your daughter. She’s going to grow up to be a bitch just like you. And yes, I really did smile back at you and say thanks. That’s how civilized people speak to each other. (My mother taught me that skill: thanks mom!)
• People with young children: there’s a childcare area for a reason.
• I lost count of the gay and lesbian couples: it was like Gay Days at Disneyland. Everywhere! Fabulous!
• Ikea really knows how to do color: bright, cheery and spot on.
• Side tables? Not so much.
• I wish you had catalogs for your opening, but alas, I’ll just have to return sooner than anticipated. No big. You’re just down the street now.
Returned home with lingonberry jam, a new fabulous red round rug for the living room...

various needed and not needed accoutrements, and lots of things to now measure for. That will require a return visit. Too bad so sad.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Welcome to the blogosphere

Gardening in Austin, raising a handful of kidlets and chickens and possibly goats, growing your own food, all this and more can be found in the blog at Amlo Farms. Uh ha, AmLo. You see the resemblance to LeLo. That would be my wonderful sister-in-law and those photos of those adorable girls? Uh huh. My nieces. X'AmLo and L'AmLo. Aren't they cute? Go give Cat a visit and wish her some peacefulness in that crazy* wonderful household of hers.

*The crazy part is because she's married to my brother, Ja'AmLo.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

When blogging actually makes the world a smaller place

Remember my post from earlier today about the cute cafe opening in my North Portland neighborhood and the owners are blogging about it? First of all, props to all of you who went over there and commented: my readers totally rock. Second, please take note that while I posted that at 10am, at 6:30pm on the very same day, the incredibly sweet owners came to my house and personally delivered the most delicious ice cream ever. To us. In person. Here they are:
Ali and Evan
I know. They're cute, aren't they? And the ice cream, you ask? Creamy chocolate aztec ice cream, just the perfect depth of chocolateness, followed by a kick-ass kick of pepper on the back of your palette. Spicy chocolate. Check out the beauty:
Aztec Chocolate Ice Cream
And delivered just in time for a little dinner party with friends.
summer dinner with friends
The menu? Creamy homemade pesto on locally made noodles from last night's Farmers Market (note to all of you in North Portland: the pasta you can buy at Wednesday's Interstate Farmer's Market is awesome), parmesan popovers and caprese salad with black basil (from the garden).
my favorite summer food
Followed, of course, by Chocolate Aztec ice cream. Ali and Evan, thank you. I'll tell everyone about you and for any of my blogging friends who want to get together at the Little Red Bike Cafe for an ice cream party once they're open, let's do it.

Anticipation: following the blog of a restaurant opening in my neighborhood

I have a feeling that the sweetest little restaurant ever is opening up in my neighborhood. And the really fun thing is, they're blogging about it. Their new ice cream maker from Italy just arrived, and they're asking for our favorite ice cream flavors. Hello. Ali and Evan's research into local coffee roasting is beautiful, and they even are posting about their favorite local restaurant, Burrito King, which, by the way, is every bit as good as they say it is.

Their new soon-to-be-restaurant, Little Red Bike Cafe, is within walking distance, and I hope they do well. Our neighborhood has few and far between good places to eat, though that is changing, and I know the neighborhood is now packed with people seeking good food and products. I love that reading their blog is like peaking into the restaurant before it's opened. Good luck Ali and Evan!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Wow. Straights and gays intermingling? No way.

I had no idea. And I do so love a good catfight. Actually, I try not to look at these things (media going after other media: it gets tiring, doesn't it?!). But it's kinda hard not to look at this one: Portland's gay publication is written by a mainly straight news staff.

Interesting conundrum. I suppose if they have the skills, I don't care if they're straight or gay or however they may identify. Recent Oregon legislation protects people from being hired/fired based on their sexual orientation, at least beginning in January. So technically, right now, it's legally okay in many of Oregon's towns and cities to say straights only, or gays only, for that matter (Portland, however, does include sexual orientation in protections). There may be plenty of great queer writers in town, but frankly I hope Just Out hires the best writers, straight or gay or in between. Yes, I think a queer perspective is more appropriate, but not necessary in my book. I think what may be even more important is a staff representing a diversity of life experiences overall, including race, culture, and suburb/urban. The queer community doesn't march lock and step together, and our straight allies play a huge role.

Readers, what do you think? Should writers at queer publications be queer?

Pesto making

It's high time for fresh basil and that means it's high time for making pesto. I'm taking advantage of the summer bounty and freezing lots of berries, why not pesto? Ah ha. So much better than anything you can buy in the store.

So off we went to the Farmers Market on Saturday morning, and sure enough, easily found a booth selling bunches of basil for $1. Sweet. Read lots of different opinions and recipes on the internet, and finally settled for a simple one. Opted to not add in any cheese prior to freezing, so it's pretty much straight forward basil, pine nuts, garlic, a little salt, and olive oil. Perfect recipe for a Saturday evening...
recipe for a saturday evening

Super fresh basil...
Super fresh basil

Pine nuts and garlic...
Garlic and pine nuts

And the easiest way to freeze it is to pour it into ice cube trays, freeze, and then the next day, remove the cubes and store in a freezer bag.
Freezing in ice cube trays

Super delish. Super fresh. Super local. Yum.
P.S. Have you seen our lilies? Holy crap!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Quintessential summer to-do in Portland

Someone asked me last night what I've been up to this summer and I realized in my answers (gardening, blueberry picking, BBQing with friends, concerts in the park, daytrips to the beach) it was really the first time in a long time that I was living my Oregon life. Not traveling for work all over the place or working too much to enjoy the season. I'm doing all the things I love so much right here in Oregon. Maybe it doesn't sound sexy, I suppose, but I'm loving it.

And one of those quintessential summer things to do is to pick blueberries. Yum yum and double yum. But more than the yum, is to be on a farm, on a warm summer day, in among the bushes that themselves are so pretty...
Blueberries growing are pretty

And breathing in the fresh air. The wind in the trees. Kids giggling and picking a few rows over. The muggy warm weather making my shirt cling to my back and looking up at the blue summer sky....
Summer day on a farm

And the blueberries themselves are so gorgeous. Is this post making you want a blueberry? Here, have one.
Care for a blueberry?

Blueberries really and truly are blue.
Blueberries really are blue

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

There's only so much time in the summer

...and we can't get to everything on the list. Alas, this is one Oregon summertime event we missed. Anyone else make it to the cow parade?
Helvetia Swiss Festival
Shout out for a Swiss Festival though. As I'm 50% Swiss, I have to say I had no idea Helvetia means Switzerland. No wonder I love it out there.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Things I've seen while working in my North Portland garden

View from my front porch
Last night while watering the garden out front, I saw a woman walking her dog, and her cat following along. She says her cat loves to join them on their walks. "I salute you" I told her. A little while later, a woman walking her two goats cruised on by. Awesome.

Just to clarify, I live in the city. In North Portland. You never know what you're going to see. It made me think back to other things I've seen while working in the garden.

Once I saw a man in a jogging outfit, jogging. And he was smoking a cigarette.

Once I saw a man on a bike, pulling a child carrier, but instead of a child, he had a boombox in there, blaring speed metal. I actually heard him before I saw him.

I've seen toothless folks arguing at the top of their lungs. I saw a woman on a horse not far from here, in a neighborhood just like ours.

I've seen possums and raccoons. I've seen Canadian Geese fly low overhead, honking as they go.

One neighbor says he's seen a skunk. I'm glad I haven't.

There used to be a guy who drove around the neighborhood on his riding mower in the mornings. Then it would be parked in front of a North Lombard tavern later in the afternoon.

A few weeks ago we saw an undercover officer and a shakedown of a carload of people in the street out front. My parents were the worst rubberneckers I've ever seen.

I've seen a woman walking her cat in a front loading baby carrier. You know, like Baby Bjorn.

What have you seen from your front yard?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Summer is...

for letting the wind fly through your hair and breathing the sweet smell of sunshine.
go Wink!
go wink go!
and just lettin' it all hang out...
go Ginger!
and havin' fun with friends...
go Ginger go!
Sweet weekend. Playing, picking berries, sunning, reading, gardening, relaxing, catching up on sleep, concert in the park, hangin' with new friends, and havin' some alone time too. Sweet sweet summer.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Renovation closure: during and after of our bathroom remodel

I realize that while I blogged here for months while living through a winter of kitchen and bathroom renovations that effected just about every room in this house, I never closed up the stories with final photos. So here are some during and after photos of the bathroom. Previously our house was a 1-bathroom, and the remodel included transforming one of the upstairs bedrooms into a spacious and lucious bathroom. We still have the original bathroom on the main floor, complete with bath tub. Oh for the love of finally having a shower. And what a shower it is.
Lots of space, and lots of natural light.
The skylight was one of the best decisions we made.
I've put some notes in the flickr photos, but for all of the gaudy details and my constant complaining, take a look at all posts labeled renovation. Let's just say I'm glad it's over, and yes, I'd actually do it again.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Where you WON'T find me when the heat hits the Portland area...

...and that's at any of the rivers in Clackamas County. What the heck is going on out there, anyway? Drunken brawls, rioting, massive people, heat, sunburns, mullets flying.....I can see it now and I have zero desire to be in the middle of that. Now comes this report of attempted murder, and dog fighting, and guns, and a tractor?! Nice. Now that sounds like the way to beat the heat. I'll stay far away...

P.S. Regarding the photo: if you do go, don't pass out. You might wake up in the middle of the Summer Redneck Games.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I think they put crack in Sonic Cherry Limeade

...because it really is good. I had never been to a Sonic or really heard much about them, and a neighbor mentioned a Sonic had opened in Hillsboro. And she said it with wonder and awe like people did when Krispy Kreme first opened in Oregon. After we almost sweated ourselves to nothingness on the 4th, I convinced AdRi to take a little detour past the new Sonic because I wanted a limeade. I don't know where I had heard about these limeades...somewhere in the blogosphere someone had written about them I suppose.
Limeade, Low Calorie Diet Limeade, Cherry Limeade, Low Calorie Diet Cherry Limeade, Strawberry Limeade, Apple Limeade and Cranberry Limeade

First of all, the place was packed. Drive-in stalls all full, line outside, and the drive-through had a line too. Well I guess there's a buzz about this place: who knew? Not me. And then we see the menu. Limeades of all different kinds, fruit drinks (with real fruit), and they even sell bags of their "famous" ice. (mmmm....ice....it's soft and easy to chew)

The cherry limeade was good. No, I mean, really good. And there were real limes in that thing. And a cherry. It was so good I asked her to bring me one home 2 nights later. I see a habit forming. The only downside? They come in a styrofoam cup. And man, I hate styrofoam. It's B-A-D. I've been known to turn down drinks that came in styrofoam. But Sonic Cherry Limeade? I wonder if I can bring my own cup.

Here's hoping AdRi calls on her way home and asks if I need anything...

Saturday, July 07, 2007

A few reasons why I love Oregon summers

Oregon berries are beautiful, and tasty.
Fresh Oregon Berries
red red raspberries
Oregon is beautiful, and tasty.
Helvetia, Oregon

Tonight we relaxed in the garden and watched the hummingbirds feed incessantly from the bee balm.

We have Medditarianian summers here: the rain stops for three months and it's just so incredibly gorgeous, gorgeous enough to grow things like lavender.
lavender at Bishop House

It's 9:00 pm and AdRi is mowing the backyard: the light stays light until late here in the summers: magical.

The coast is warm enough to give you a sunburn, but not so hot to force you into the frigid sea--unless you want to.
oregon coast

The summers make me remember the things I love the most, like this beautiful and wonderful woman.
i love summer

Happy summer!

Wink is all aflutter...

Maltipoo nap
...awaiting her sister's arrival. Our 10-day houseguest arrives tomorrow and everything must be just right. We anticipate many games of bitey face, tumbles and roll-arounds across the floor, and double doses of yapping while propped up in the window. We can't wait.

Frida, on the other hand, doesn't really want to hear about it.
Frida doesn't want to hear about it
And don't even think of asking Picasso.

Friday, July 06, 2007

The most over-used blog post title ever

***Just a wee little public service announcement.***
When determining the title or headline for your blog post, avoid doing this.
Or this.
Or this.
Or this.
Or this.
I'll stop there.
I don't know what it is, but it bugs the crap out of me. Sue me.

This doesn't count: it involved real bears, thus, is totally applicable.

Covered in fur for the 4th of July

Hey, how's that heat? Actually, I love it. Sunshine makes me happy, and I'm trying to be out in it as much as I can. And I should probably put that into perspective when I say heat: wow! It's been in the 80s here! (You readers from outside of Oregon can go ahead and scoff now.) But I have to say this was the first 4th of July I spent wearing fur. Fake fur, of course.

Here's what the beginning of the day looked like:
packin the mini

Here's a reminder photo of what I looked like during the day (or at least through the parade):
Safety Pup Jazz Hands

I walked about 70% of the parade. The rest of the parade I waved from the open door of the van. There are no photos of me, peeps. I know I know. But I can only do so much. Here are some photos of the Dairy Princess and her float though. I was impressed and took a few pics during set up.
milk display
dairy princess
And then there's the really pitiful self portrait after I took off the god forsaken costume:
post safety pup: sweaty

I know. Not pretty. I was totally drenched. Completely and totally. But can I just tell you how fun it actually was? It's like I became a total kid magnet with that costume on. Kids saw me and their faces lit up, and they were mesmerized. Some started to jump up and down, others ran to me with open arms for a hug. I'd run along the edge with my hand out and get high fives. And in the end, my wrists hurt from waving the whole time. I caught myself on multiple occasions telling myself to stop smiling. I was smiling the entire time, and I knew darn well no one could see my face with the big ol' head on. But I couldn't really stop: people smile and wave at you, kids run up to hug you, it's hard not to smile about that. So I give this Fourth of July a thumbs up, even though I was covered in fur. And I can't believe I shared that sweaty self portrait with you. Feel lucky, peeps.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

It's blueberry and raspberry season

Happy Fourth of July!
Almost time to go blueberry picking, and this year, we're freezing them. But with both blueberries and raspberries, it's the perfect time for a little patriotism shortcake. And isn't it time we took patriotism back from the right anyway?

Monday, July 02, 2007

I can clearly see my 4th of July

and it looks pretty much like this:
Safety Pup 1Safety Pup Jazz HandsSafety Pup: At Attention
Oh lordy lordy: I'll be in Oregon's second largest parade and yes, weather forecast calls for high 80's. Just don't call me a furry.

Oh, and that reminds me, I think I need to learn a few new moves.