I'm thinking this second look might be my new look. Something super textured yet feminine with short bangs just like I love to wear mine. Haircut tomorrow! If I like it, I'll post a pic of how it turns out.


Buy Nothing Day

In protest of superficial materialism, thousands of people are participating in Buy Nothing Day. I am not a big shopper and plan on saving my shopping energy for Sunday's Give Handmade Sale, so I'll gladly participate. Here are some ideas of things to do on Black Friday other than shop.

Make something. Knit a scarf. Sew curtains. Paint. Collage Christmas cards. Be creative.
Have a potluck.
Go on a hike. Avoid the crowded malls and go to the forests/mountains/gorges/rivers/beaches.
Read a book. Read aloud to someone.
Make music. Or play music and dance.
Take photographs.
Sleep in.
Spend time with someone special.
Do yoga.

Have a wonderful Buy Nothing Day!

Give Handmade

On Sunday, I may head over to the Give Handmade Sale to get my holiday shopping on. I'll gladly hand over some of my cash to local artisans who have agreed to donate 10% to the Oregon Food Bank. This way I can purchase unique gifts for a good cause. Who wants to go with me?


dress your family in corduroy and denim

I have finally read a David Sedaris book. I believe I attempted to read this book several years ago, but it didn't catch my interest. Did I not get his wit? Perhaps. Here's how most of the chapters go: David acts like a selfish prick; David repents. Either that, or it's a strange encounter, often with members of his own family, like his brother whose dialog is unlike anything I've ever heard (with corny jokes such as: "This coffee's like making love on a canoe. It's f***ing near water") or his self-employed sister who tears the linoleum off of her kitchen floor and sells it. A lot of the stories are funny, but sometimes they're simultaneously sad as he addresses peoples' loneliness, insecurities, irrational and bullying behavior, bigotry, and other foibles.

It's the school year, so I spend a lot of time reading for work, including Ender's Game, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and student papers, so Sedaris is a great read during the school year. Intelligent without being taxing; amusingly sharp and witty; and each chapter is its own little story rather than a long, ornate plot to try to untangle after a day of being intellectually drained.


Tasting Italy 101

On Thursday night, my friend Steph and I made our way down to inner South East, where there appears to be nothing but warehouses, but inside of 107 SE Washington, a building has been revamped into chic industrial with an acupuncturist and massage therapists and wine bar and Red Slate Wine Company, where we met up with my friends Emily and Sarah and Sarah's boss Deb. Normally, Steph, Sarah, Emily, nor I would pay $20 for a wine tasting, but Deb hooked it up and we were able to go for free. Or, well, for the cost of the bottles that we ended up walking away with.

This tasting, in looks, was sophisticated and classy with olives, pecorino cheese, almonds, salami and squash roasted with onions and cranberries and herbs and funky glass pitchers of water and long tables elegantly set. But in feel, it was relaxed and with "no wine snobbery" allowed. We tried seven wines from single estates in Italy where the quality control is so high that one grape vine yields approximately one bottle of wine. Tom, one of the hosts, has a personal relationship with all of these makers, and so despite the quality and the rarity of the wine(some of these wines are only available in 3-4 states--including Washington--and only 200 cases of some were even made), prices ranged from only $14-$32 per bottle.

Some of the wines instantly reminded me of people. The Cesanese immediately reminded me of my friend Amy, and the Tom Langhe, a Barbera blended with Merlot instantly reminded me of my dad. The Marzemino was a complex wine that smelled sometimes briney and sometimes like slate but then was surprisingly gentle and ever-changing. The Montepulciano smelled like berries and chocolate with a delicious finish. In addition to walking out with some presents, I also bought the Fior d'Arancio Spumante for Thanksgiving. This sparkling desert wine that literally means "orange blossom" smelled like orange, pear, and subtle spices and tasted sweet yet not overpowering, as some desert wines can be. A delicate blend of citrus and oranges. We decided that this would be a classy substitute for mimosas at brunch.

So maybe instead of eating it with pie, I'll invite our Thanksgiving day host over for brunch and we'll share the bottle between the three of us before we get cooking!

Here are a few interesting things that I learned:
You can compartmentalize the nose, so when smelling wine, if you imagine that you're breathing in through the top part of the nostrils, this is where you will smell the berries or the fruit. The bottom part of the nostrils is where you will pick up on minerals/woods/earth.

In Italy, it is often considered insanity to drink without food. Wine is made to pair with food, so don't be afraid to take a few bites of cheese/olives/stew/whatever and then sip your wine and slosh them both around together to see what one does for the other.

When trying to pair wine with food, look up the primary ingredients from that region. If that region is known for tomato dishes or seafood or mushrooms and cheeses, those are the foods that will go with the wine.

The most famous wine regions were once under the sea. Shells have lots of calcium carbonate in them, and calcium carbonate give fortitude and structure to wine.

All of these wines are organically and sustainable produced, but are not labeled as such because, as one of the wine makers says to Tom, "It's 2000 years of common sense."


on a dark and rainy day...

...when one drives to work in the darkling rain and returns from work in the darkening rain, a girl wants, craves, needs art! Such as the above print by Timothy Karpinski.
Or perhaps some aurora borealis:

Or a reminder of the color pink.
Or maybe just a warm fire, a purring 10 pound gray tiger, no weeds to pull, and time to daydream.


light of the mind

My friend Avery is having an exhibit of her photos, and she asked some of her friends who have been or are writers to contribute a written piece for a photo of their choice. I love the photo selection which you can view here, but I chose this one because it reminded me of my role as an educator. Here's the poem that I sent off to her the other day (of course finding much fault with her a day later, but oh well, tis what it is).

The Light of the Mind

The teacher seeks to lead her students
out of the darkened room--
out of the closed spaces
that breed ignorance and beget fear—
into a world vast and surprising.

There is a key-hole,
a portal,
a chamber door into the sun
that even she seeks.

Sometimes, the darkness encloses her.
Sometimes, the sun warms her soul.
Sometimes she feels as though she's lost the key
or the magic spell.
Or that there is not just one, but many
riddles to unravel.

There are constants in this life.
Change. Oscillation. Growth.
Set backs. The fluttering of wings.
The constancy of learning
when the mind's doorway is open:

the constant journey
towards illumination
and enlightenment.


yes, please

On my long shopping list, in addition to a new school bag, I have socks and tights. Here are some that make me swoon.

I love these burgandy codori crochet tights. The olive and black are also cool, but the burgandy seems the most eye-catching.
These charcoal diamond rib knee highs look soft and warm.
Um, yeah, love these Phoebe Over The Knee in petrol. Love the color and the pattern and the quirkiness of them.
These Derra Over The Knee are also lovely.
As are these ruffle topped leg warmers that can be worn as arm warmers as well.
All images and socks are from Sock Dreams. I think that I'm going to have to play Santa for some people at this little store, and perhaps, treat myself to a pair of something adorable. Of course, having great socks necessitates having great skirts and boots, but that search will have to be come later.


the breakfast club

So, our friend Matt proposed that we start our own version of the Breakfast Club, since Portland has oh-so-amazing breakfast spots. This town has got a lot of amazing, delicious cuisine, and Portlanders excel at their locally roasted coffee and at breakfast. So the first official meeting of the Breakfast Club was Sunday morning at Hash.

We waited on comfy leather furniture for our table for six while drinking locally roasted coffee that was nutty and not too bitter or biting. I ordered (along with over half the table) the corned beef with potatoes and a poached egg, brioche toast, and jam. Everything was delicious and the portion sizes were reasonable, as were the prices. We discussed what exactly corned beef was, and I learned that the salt they brine the corned beef in is actually shaped like corn. The atmosphere was clean, well-lit, comfortable. The only thing that didn't impress me were the paintings on the wall, large colorful acrylics that looked like paintings any one of us could have done ourselves.

Next month, we're considering for our second Breakfast Club outing Jam or the La Petit Provence.



It rather shocks and astounds me that some people go shopping for fun.

"What should we do today?"
"Let's go shopping!"

In my house, it's, "Shit, we really need to go buy ___________________." (Unless the item is a book, a bottle of wine, or a new tool/craft supply)

However, there is a long list of items that I do indeed need to buy, one being a new school bag (i.e. purse big enough to hold my journal and a few books and a water bottle). My ancient bag, purchased at The Gap about 100 years ago, is tattered and ragged and much loved and crawling towards retirement.

Here are a few I've found on Etsy that are possibilities:
 This one is from Tesage on Etsy. I like the simplicity, the size, and the unique print.

Not really my color, but I love the style and practicality of this one from FuchstBags. I would be able to convert my favorite bag into a backpack whenever I commute via bike. Of course, it wouldn't do much good in the rain, but then, I don't bike a whole lot in the rain anyway.
I think I'd go with the red.

Or perhaps the blue.

I'd really like a vinyl bag with applique. Something water proof and whimsical, in the messenger-bag style. I just met a woman with an adorable one from Kitty Empire.
I like the last two the best. Vinyl, water proof, messenger bags with whimsy and cherry blossoms and the gray one is on sale. Time to stew this over.


little winter market

This weekend in Portland there is the Little Winter Market at the Cleaners with a pre-party tonight. I'd like to try to make it over there at some point to see the hand-made items on sale. Perhaps I'll do some early Christmas shopping or find some inspiration for my own Christmas presents and handmade crafts. Even if it's inspiration to get off my bottom and finish some of the projects I've started and never finished (braided rug, tote bags, embroidery projects...).

This weekend needs to be about refocusing my energies in many ways: I need to get some fresh air, plant some bulbs in the warm earth, take some photographs, seek inspiration, and rest. Oh, yeah, and grade a bunch of papers.

Happy weekend!


blogs, bee, teas, and things

I just discovered two lovely blogs. Tospann has an assortment of random photographs of lovely people, yellow thread and fabric, wine, and tea: a few of my favorite things! The above photo is from Tea For Joy, also a wonderful blog of art and photos with tea themes.

I'm thinking about taking this bee-keeping class. Yes, it's 101, but I feel like I could use a refresher course. Plus, my plans to build some bee-keeper community last September got derailed, so the class would be a way to make some connections. Also, I think that at some point I'd like to try a Langstroth hive, so there's yet another reason for the class. I just hope they're not Langstroth snobs who disparage top-bars and all hives that aren't Langstroth. The hive worlds have difficulties agreeing, somewhat like Republicans and Democrats in our current Congress.

All I want for Christmas is photoshop, I think. Or some sort of photo editing software. I'd like to continue to take photos throughout the winter, but it's rather difficult to take pictures at night with my craptastic flash or perhaps it's my limited knowledge of my camera that's to blame. I'm hoping to get oot and aboot with my camera this weekend, perhaps on a tromp through the woods to hunt for wild mushrooms and some digging in my own garden to plant those garlic and scallion bulbs.

Here's some loveliness from Tospann. It makes me want to sew.


food and other inspirations

So, blog. What are you and I gonna do all fall and winter, until it's catalog and seedling season? I can't just let you disappear forgotten into the internet ether. So instead, I'm going to look, once again, beyond my garden and yard (but still there too) for inspiration and humor and love and laughter to share with the world.

And food, this time of year, is a big part of that. I claim that it's my instinctual need to fatten up for the cold winter. I need that extra pudge to get me through, so suddenly, after months of not really wanting to be in the kitchen, I'm looking at recipes for pumpkin gnocchi, macaroni and cheese with mushrooms and sage, butternut squash soup, and fried green tomatoes. And I think that tonight, I'm going to go ahead and make this green tomato chutney from Gayla Trail.

As for eating out, Portland is a mecca for fabulous happy hours, and my new favorite is a place called Tasty n Sons, not too far from my 'hood. Happy hour cocktails aren't exactly cheap at $7, but the food is not only cheap but uh-uh-amazing! $1 bacon wrapped dates with almonds, $4 panna cotta, a $5 bleu cheese or cheddar bacon burger that drips delicious grease and really just might be the best burger deal in the city. I'm getting hungry writing about it. Is it time for lunch?


pumpkin season

Last night, while handing out candy to the few trick-or-treaters that we had, Brian and I carved pumpkins that the pumpkin fairy had delivered to us during the night. We used an amazing wood carving tool that made carving much simpler and quite easier to be creative. My pumpkin is the one above and the one on the left below. Brian's is on the right.
Here are Amy and Rob's awesome adult-themed pumpkins:
 Tonight, after making fig stuffed chicken in a cream and tomato sauce with sliced brandywine tomatoes and steamed green beans, I roasted the seeds in lots of olive oil, sea salt, and some chile powder for 15 minutes at 375 degrees. They were so delicious, Brian, Amy, and I gobbled them all up while we filled out our Oregon ballots.
Happy election!

While listening to rain

November 1st? How did this happen? Where did the golden summer go? Yesterday, I prepared my garden for winter, cutting down tomato plants, removing green tomatoes, layering the soil with the tomato vines, chicken pooh, straw and cover crop seeds. I planted crimson clover, vetch, and fava beans.

I left my green tomatoes on the vine and boxed them with newspaper. I've been told that some will rot, but some will ripen, so I'm curious. A few of them seem too immature to do much. Tonight, I'm going to cook up a batch of fried green tomatoes. If I notice that the others aren't ripening, I might make some chutney or relish with them. My tomato crop was less than mediocre. I had delicious tomatoes, but not the plethora that I hoped for. Never really enough to give away, although we dehydrated some. No canning, no preserving. No sauce or salsa in the pantry. Boo to wet springs and wet falls!

Still, I had many successes in the garden, such as hollyhocks and foxglove grown from seeds, a jar of chamomile that was homegrown, and healthy oregano, sage, thyme, and tarragon.

I still need to plant my garlic and scallion bulbs, but in the front garden, I planted (two weeks ago) tulip, iris, and crocus bulbs as well as one of those tall poofy alliums. The bulb cost $5 and was bigger than my fist, so I hope that it grows and successfully blooms.

The chickens are molting their summer feathers and growing in their winter plumes. Apparently, they eat each others' feathers and recycle the proteins in order to regenerate new ones. Ew.

Yesterday, we harvested a basketful of figs from our neighbor's fig tree. They aren't the sweetest figs in the world, but we're going to dehydrate most of them. I'd also like to make a fig mustard for sandwiches and can that, so we're going to revisit the fig tree throughout the week in hopes of collecting enough. Tonight, I want to cook some figs and tarragon and citrus with some chicken.

For Halloween, I sewed furry ears, furry boot cuffs, and furry tales, and Brian and I showed up at our friends' place dressed as brown bears with black noses. We ate nachos, danced around, shaking our tales, in their living room, and watched a semi-scary movie, followed by some Frank the Tank and  Lloyd Dobbler. Dreamy Lloyd Dobbler...sigh.