Friday, March 25, 2011

north coast tour

Three days, many miles and about 12 candy shops later, we're back, dusted free of sand, and once again wearing clothes that don't smell like a salt marsh. Based on our whirlwind and no doubt incomplete trip to Tillamook, Cannon Beach, and Seaside, I feel confident recommending the following:

Go to the Aquarium in Seaside, even though it looks (and is) a little cheesy and perhaps overpriced. It's basically two big rooms on the bottom floor of some sort of hotel, but buying $1 servings of chopped up fish (served in little french fry containers) and feeding them to the seals is a real treat. The seals are very dog-like; they have figured out the system and what people like to see (little encouraging nods, fin slapping) and their shiny eyes and slippery bodies are tremendously cute. Also know that when the sign says "splash zone" they are not kidding.

Spend as much time as you can in Cannon Beach and maybe don't even bother much with the other towns. There are lots of lovely shops including a very nice quilt shop, an indie book store, and (much to Aspen's liking) a candy store on about every block. Mostly, though, it's just so beautiful and charming. All these little clapboard houses and not a fast food place or huge Super 8 sign anywhere in sight. We lucked into a last-minute deal at a guest house that would be worth staying in for the bathtub alone.... huge, beautiful, overlooking the estuary. For once, no one needed to be strong-armed into getting cleaned up (if only there was a fancy sink that had the same effect on getting children to brush their teeth without reminders...).
Go outside whenever there is a break from the rain and/or wind and soak up the wonderfulness of new beaches and big white waves. Get your pants wet and then admit to your mother that you only packed one pair of jeans because "you can wear jeans for two days in a row". Make formerly white socks look an unrecognizable color. Work up an appetite. Demand food every hour and a half and get hot cocoa with whipped cream for every meal. Do not let a single piece of fruit cross your lips. Stay up late and watch programs like Dancing With the Stars and Glee that you don't get to watch at home.

Ah, vacations. :)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

road trip

The girls and I are heading out tomorrow morning for the northern coast. We have no set itinerary, but rather an interest in visiting / exploring Tillamook, Cannon Beach, Astoria and stops in between for the next few days. As you can see, the essential items have already been packed-- books on audio, GPS, maps and guidebooks, homemade cookies.

I hope the weather is bearable and the girls get along and nothing weird happens with the (aging) Honda. I hope we find good places to stay that don't cost a fortune and stop at funky little bakeries and watch movies in our hotel room and return with a back seat full of rocks and interesting driftwood pieces and beach glass. Mostly, I hope it's an adventure, a break from the everyday, and a chance to flop around and kick our legs in the air, so to speak.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

all about the food

I've been thinking a lot about food lately. Really, I'm never not thinking about it, but recently, as I've blogged about, Savanna has been extra interested in cooking, plus I'm reading this very lovely book about food (see sidebar) with accompanying recipes. More about that in a minute.

Savanna has been hankering for potato soup. We eat soup a lot around here, almost never made from a recipe, but rather from whatever is leftover (er, I mean, handy) and the last batch of potato must have been memorable. Since Aspen was at ballet and we had the time, we decided she'd just go ahead and prepare the whole meal, which she did quite wonderfully.

(I love the tongue in corner of mouth concentration of this photo...)

I read a story somewhere recently about a chef who was giving a cooking a class and one of the students kept pestering them about specifics... how much of this and how long of that, wanting to be very concrete about the process, until the chef basically said, look, do you want to be precise or do you want to cook? I definitely fall into the camp of the latter, which luckily, seems to suit Savanna's temperament fine. She found a recipe for lemon squares and I bravely declared that we had all of the ingredients, which we did... just not enough of most of them. But, is true cooking, rather than recipe-following form, we didn't lack a shortage of sugar or a lack of previously frozen butter stop us, and the results were lovely. Since I don't have a potato soup recipe, we just talked about all soups as being a basic combination of sauteed veggies and broth, along with whatever else you might care to add to it-- meat or beans or noodles or half and half or frozen corn or cheese. Really, it was a delicious meal.

Now, the book. I'm only about a third of the way through it, but it's wonderful... just a very gentle, pleasant book that makes you feel good about the world and want to make good food. It's funny, because if I just saw some of these recipes, I'm not sure I'd be that into making them, but after reading the little stories, I feel absolutely compelled to make almost all of it, especially the sweet stuff like macaroons. Last night, unable to sleep for a spell, I was reading the section about Dutch Babies with lemon and powdered sugar and I knew I had to make them for breakfast. The Dutch Baby (an eggy sort of baked pancake) puffed up huge in the oven and would have looked very pretty filled with some sort of fruit and cream, but I stuck to the lemon and powdered sugar for my serving, and it was great. Savvy ate two. Aspen, more of a purist when it comes to things like pancakes, didn't really love hers. And Mike ate a plain piece topped with green salsa and said it was good that way too.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

day three of rain

Rain scatters plum petals;
Weeping stains the earth.
One can only take shelter
And wait for clearing.

Deng Ming-Dao
365 Tao: Daily Meditations

Monday, March 14, 2011

what was

This weekend was full of...

Savanna wanting to bake and make, as much without assistance as possible. I tried to be available without hovering and she did just fine. I like that she still straps on her cat apron before getting started (Aspen has a similar pig apron). I tried to get some good pictures, which produced a lot of eye rolling and faces of the are you serious? variety? At one point, she asked, "Mom, do you want me to put my little pinkie on the cooling rack so you can get a picture of it?" Sarcastic child.

Finishing some projects...

And starting others...
A sudden storm blowing through about 20 minutes into my regular run. I had been planning to shuttle cars around and run to River Forks Park, about 8.5 miles from here, but the sky looked a little ominous. Figuring it would just rain, Terry dog and I set out for a neighborhood run and there came a point where the wind started blowing like something out of The Wizard of Oz and Terry (always eager, always game for an adventure) looked at me like Mom, are you sure about this? At which point it started hailing...hard, sharp little pellets. We aimed for the shortest way home, me running fast with my head down like a charging rhino, hoping that maybe Mike would look out the window and wonder if we needed a lift. And he did! So nice to be rescued and ride the rest of the way home in a warm car.

We spent the rest of the afternoon with a fire, playing Settlers of Catan and eating popcorn. A happy ending.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

while I was gone

I haven't felt like I've had much to share in this space lately...the combination of a lot of winter blahness and a lot of tackling nothing more than the monotonous and everyday. But, when I think about the last two weeks, a few things have been happening.
I finished the cabinet make over and am liking how it works in the space. I also liked seeing that old 80's style oak desk go, hauled away by two guys from The Salvation Army.

I've been making more fishies. Every time I make one, I think "maybe this will be the time everything works and I don't screw something up". And then, I go and screw something up. Flipped over pieces of trim, excess fabric (to be trimmed away from the edging later) caught in the get the idea. I'm also wishing their noses were a little less... what?... stubby? And their faces a little bigger? Must work on this.

Yesterday, I finished a quick spring wreath in the colors I'm really liking right now.

Good food is still being made. Lately, I've been into Brussels sprouts. Aren't they pretty? I love them sauteed and kind of carmelized (cut in half, flat side down) in a little olive oil with sea salt and pepper. The extraneous leaves get all crispy and I can't stop myself from standing there, eating them up. Which is OK, since I'm pretty much the only person in the family that feels this way about sprouts. I like to add them too my salads, too.

And, I finished this book. I believe it's either a finalist for ... or winner of... the Oregon Book Award for fiction. I really liked it. It's about a sad topic, but it doesn't really knock you over the head with sadness... it kinds of creeps up on you a little at a time. It's worth reading.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


When you live with me, there's always a chance that you will come home from work / school and find something like this sitting in the garage.

Let's just say I like to browse in thrift stores. And, I like to imagine what things could become. And I have a hard time passing up a good deal. Monday, the Salvation Army was having a 50% off furniture sale and this old kitchen cabinet found it's way home with me. I think it's pretty cool and will make a nice craft organizer. I'm currently using an old 90's oak desk (somewhat pictured in the background) that I dislike immensely. I have lots of leftover paint in colors I like, so I just need to get to work, buy a few new knobs and pulls and wait for the magic to happen.

I will post pictures when it does.