Sunday, July 24, 2011

Berry picking

Last night we had the Fs and Mr. P over for dinner. The Fs mentioned that they were planning on heading out to Sauvie's Island today to pick blueberries. Our Little Helper loves blueberries so we thought we'd join them. It was such a beautiful day on the island. We are so lucky to have this protected farming community within 20 miles of Portland! As we drove across the bridge to get there all 4 mountains were out! I took these photos on the way home.
The tip top of Mt. Ranier on the far left and St. Helens in the middle.Mt. St. HelensSt. Helens on the left and Mt. Adams on the far rightMt. AdamsAnd our own Mt. Hood, or Wy'eastThe Fs decided to go to The Pumpkin Patch for blueberries. They weren't really ripe yet, everything is so late this year because of the cool weather we've been having. But the raspberries were perfect and fat and the Marionberries were ripe too. The boys had a great time running through the fields. In the raspberries. While the mommas were hard at work picking.My Little Helper was holding a box for me as I was picking Marionberries. I kept picking berries, but my box never seemed to fill up; he kept eating them. As much as I told him he needed to stop eating them before we paid for them, I couldn't keep him from snacking. Baby Boy even decided to get in on the berry picking since I had him strapped to me and those non-ripe, red Marionberries were right in his face. I looked down and realized he had picked one too! Good thing he didn't grab a thorn. Unfortunately I forgot to pack a hat for the baby so I tried to keep him out of the sun as best I could. Bad Momma! I think he had a bad reaction with the sunscreen, or he just rubbed it in his eyes because when I stopped to nurse him his eye and half his face was red and puffy. Poor little thing.
Mr. W thinks that picking our own berries is such a great deal, considering Zupan's prices. And especially considering we got all the berries the children ate for free. He thinks they ought to weigh the children before they head into the fields and then afterwards to recoup their losses. I still have a lot of jam from the last time I canned so I am considering making syrup with these.
After we were done on the island Mr. W suggested going to Skyline Burger for lunch. It has been a long time since I've been there so I loved the idea. Can I just say the roads in the West HIlls are super curvy. It took so long to get there and I was so hungry I was beginning to get car sick. All was better when we arrived though, a cheeseburger and a butterscotch milkshake can cure just about anything. I wish they still had their old neon signage that is in the photo on the menu, it was awesome!
From there we headed out to my Aunt R's log cabin in Redlands for game night. We were planning on the drive to count as a nap for the baby. Our Little Helper and his cousin had a blast running circles around the kitchen while the grown-ups played Proletariat. When we left for the evening there was a doe and a rabbit in my aunt's driveway. How lucky for the little boys to see! It was a great day!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Feast of St. Mary Magdalen

My patron saint is St. Mary Magdalen, I chose Madeleine for my Confirmation name and Magdalena is among my top picks for a daughter if we ever have one. July always seems so busy, but when I remember I like to honor her. Cooking With the Saints has several recipes attributed to her. However the savory main dish just seems like such an odd match for a summer feast day. Who wants to cook a roast in late July? It certainly doesn't seem to fit with the Slow Food movement of eating things in season. But with incredibly rain. cool weather around here I decided this would be the year to make the Rindsbraten St. Magdalena mit Kartoffelndeln, or Braised Beef with Potato Noodles.
The more I looked into this recipe I learned that the wine that is used for the beef is called St. Magdalena thus the odd pairing for the time of year. The recipe calls for "beef, topside, boneless" neither Mr. W nor the butcher at Fred Meyers knew what this was so in the end I decided to just buy a pot roast. Not surprisingly Freddy's also didn't carry this Austrian wine. I really liked this recipe though! I certainly couldn't make it most years, but I might try it in the autumn of winter. The sauce was really good and we had so much left over that I'm saving it to top some steaks later in the week perhaps.
I knew that the 3 of us wouldn't be able to consume a roast on our own so I invited the F's over for dinner. Mr. F asked if we could extend the invitation to Mr. P, who is moving away. I was certainly happy to have him for one last meal. I had seen him briefly the night before at his going away party, I just popped in and then took the children home to bed so Mr. W could stay out.
I wasn't able to make the potato noodles completely because I didn't check to make sure I had enough eggs before I went to the store. So stupid! Withe roast in the oven I couldn't run back out so I had to wait for Mrs. F to come over and she ran out for them and by the time she returned the baby was awake and I had to nurse so Mr. W had to finish up for me. These types of noodles, like spatzel are challenging for him, but I think most of the batches turned out well. The crummy, butter sauce was nice and covered any sogginess.
They guys all liked the roast and the sauce too and went back for several helpings of it and the potatoes with that butter sauce. Everything was a little frantic at the end there so I didn't take any pictures but we had one last meal on the deck with Mr. P.
I had planned to make the Magdalenenkuchen, or Magdalen cake but ran out of time. Nursing and a non napping baby can do that to a plan.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Flamme d' Or

We have been talking a lot about last July when we went to Japan for Mr. W's brother's wedding. I wrote about it a little bit last summer, but didn't post much about our good adventures. One of them was seeing Flamme d'Or. I only had three things I had on my vacation check list: 1)go to a real Japanese style tea ceremony,2) Go to the flagship Mikimoto store in Ginza, and 3) see the Phillipe Starck building.
I have a soft spot for the Post Modern architects and designers. My favorite is Michael Graves because my first introduction to him was when he designed the Portland Building. My second favorite is Starck. I love his iconic spider shaped juicer. I have a Book called Places for Tea in New York city and I went to as many as I could while I lived there among them the Hotel lobby designed by Starck. I loved it, it is not your typical tea setting.
His building in Tokyo is home to the Asahi Beer company. On the first level there is a restaurant. It is located on the opposite side of the Sumida river so we got off the subway at the Asakusa stop and had to walk across the bridge in the drizzle, but his allowed for more photo opportunities. We visited a few Shinto shrines in that area first and then came back to dine in the restaurant so I could get some interior shots too.
A cemetery we just happened upon smack int he middle of houses and shops.
An offering of beer.I didn't get a photo of the main part of the dining room because there was a large group of businessmen and I didn't want to be an ugly American. The restaurant has a serpentine shape. The entire length of one wall is covered in upholstered panels.There is a little station near the entrance where the staff has their supplies. Actually there were a lot of stations like this trhough out the restraunt tht were simply carts, not very Post Modern and certainly not something of which I think Monsuier Starck would approve. But I do like this big, bulbous column treatment. A better view of the upholstered wall and leather banquet, the table and chair. The edges of the tables are angled so that they can be butted together.A detail of the feet on the banquet which reflect the shape of the flame on the top of the building. You can also see that this leather has been well worn since 1989.And then there was the bathroom. Starck's bathrooms are always awesome and this one did not disappoint. The walls were undulating stainless steel and it took some time for me to figure out how to get into the stall. Then once inside it I discovered a Japanese style floor toilet. This was the only one of this kind I found while on this trip to Japan. So I was reminded of our trip to Turkey when I last used a hole in the floor, and this was by far much better looking. Dare I say beautiful? The walls opposite the stalls were frosted. The basin for the sink was beautiful, creamy onyx. There was no lever for the faucet, not did it seem to be motion activated. I finally figured out what those random circles on the floor were for, a foot pedal for the water. The hand dryer was a metal box floating on 3 legs. While we were there Our Little Helper fell asleep on the banquet; the poor thing fell asleep nearly every afternoon and slept through dinner because his little body was unable to adjust to the time change. There were stairs to a second level of the restaurant which I didn't get to go see because he was asleep in my lap. However I loved this space and I am glad that I drug everyone there to see it. My brother in law told me that the Japanese have nicknamed this building the Golden Turd. I don't like that one bit though.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

When the Ocean calls, I listen

I enjoy the rain. And even if July I don't mind it that much, especially considering the terrible heat waves that a lot of the country is going through right now. But, it has been unseasonally rainy this week, even for Portland. i was thinking about how just two weekends ago we were at the coast. It was a beautiful day: sunny and warm, but windy.
I shouldn't mention one of my favorite spots, for fear it becomes too popular, but I really like Hug Point. It has enough points to protect you from the wind, it isn't a super long walk to the beach (although it is steep), and there is a waterfall! And caves! It is very family friendly.
It was sort of a last minute plan to go down. I had an urge to go during the week and mentioned it to Mr. W. Then Friday night we went out to dinner at the Blue Monk. Mr. W is a bit of a regular there so our waiter asked us if we had weekend plans. I mentioned heading to the coast and the waiter said that when the ocean calls you have to go. Aha! See Mr. W that is what I have been telling you, the ocean is calling me!
So I loaded up the car the next morning with everything we would need and we drove out to the beach.
Checking out the surf like his grandfather before himHappiness is running barefoot in the sand

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

7 months old!

I cannot believe how much fast it seems to go by the second time! Although, in my defense, Baby Boy is hitting milestones at a fast pace than his big brother. Mr. W is convinced it is because he has to escape from his brother. I prefer to think that he just wants to keep up with his brother. In any event our baby is completely mobile!
Our Little Helper began crawling at 8 months which is perfectly normal. This baby becane crawling at 6.5 months. I am amused by the difference though. DS1 's crawling started off fast. I remember the first time I put him on the floor in our tv room prior to it being refinished. He shot straight for the tv components, which were located on the lowest shelf, grabbed the dial and cranked the volume all the way up. I hardly had any time to react! Mr. W thought he must have been staring at the big dial for months waiting to play with it and went for it immediately when he had the opportunity.
DS2 started crawling earlier this month and it has been much slower and determined. He looks like he is lurching around. He had been covering a lot of ground creeping around and moon crawling, then up on his hands and knees rocking back and forth. His wobbly little crawl was adorable to watch and allowed us ample time to prepare for what ever hazards lay in his path.
He cut his first tooth on the 4th of July with a second one that just emerged. Poor thing, growing teeth is hard work.
He also has perfected sitting up. Now we can comfortable have him in the high chair and ride in the stroller with out the infant seat. He kept craning his neck up so his head was no longer resting on the back of the chair. Clearly he wanted a better view of the world around him.
On his 9 month birthday, I found our eldest son smiling and pulled up in his crib. Over the weekend our youngest already started trying to pull up when we were at OMSI for Mr. W's company picnic. I was hopin git was just a fluke, but no, he has been pulling up at home now too. I have mixed feelings about the possibility of him being an early walker. It would be convenient to no longer have to carry him everywhere, but dear Lord, what will my life be like when they are both mobile!?
I also have to reinstall the baby gate immediately. I thought I could leave Baby Boy in the nursery with his brother while I ran downstairs to retrieve my cell phone. When I came back up I couldn't find the baby in the nursery, frantic I began searching all the rooms and My Little Helper told me the baby was in the bathroom. Thank God his lurchy little crawling lead him straight into the bathroom and right past the unprotected top of the stairs!!! I am horrified to think of what could have happened if he had decided to turn left and explore the shiny metal edging of the top step! Clearly his crawling is losing the lurchiness and becoming quick and carefree.
My little baby! I can't believe he won't be so little or baby like for much longer. They are both so easy children, I feel very fortunate.

Monday, July 18, 2011

She is moved in! (mostly)

Saturday morning the majority of my sister's furniture was moved in. I wasn't able to go over until Sunday to check it out. On my way there I stopped in Woodstock and bought a cute little boudoir chair from a Craigslist seller for my sister's bedroom. I originally bought the shell chair for this spot, but it proved too big. I wanted something with curvy, feminine lines. Maybe something with bamboo so it had a bit of a chinoserie look. Definitely something that I could reupholster so that I could get a punch of red in that corner. This chair seemed to fit all my criteria and the seller only wanted $35. I called my sister and told her about it. I had actually found it Saturday night and thought about it all night before finally falling asleep. I decided I would paint or stain the wood frame black and then recover it in one of the red fabrics we found when we had to find additional fabric for the curtains. I thought that this would be my first undertaking in the world of real upholstery following my debut with the headboard. I was troubleshooting in my head how I would tackle the double welt or if it would be more practical for me to use a black braid to finish it the entire drive from Woodstock to Irvington. However once I delivered it to my sister's condo and placed in the bedroom, it's a perfect fit by the way, my mom said she would rather have it professional reupholstered. That's fine with me too. My sister picked out her favorite red fabric from the swatches we already had. I notice after I purchased it that one of the decorative brackets is missing in the front and I thought I could use a bamboo handle made for fabric purse projects as a substitute. Not only that, once I arrived at the condo and got a second look I realized that I can also swap out one of the side brackets and put the replacement one on the side.The bed is all set up now, with the exception of the headboard that Mr. W and I need to finish. My initial vision for the bedside lamps was either silver finish base or a Lucite look one with white drum shades. When I took her to HomeGoods to look at the selection there, my sister opted for these black, faux croc wrapped bases with rectangular shades. Not my first choice, but a nice juxtaposition with the cabriole legs on the nightstands and the sinewy headboard. One can see that the Emily Strange rug is unpacked already.I returned this afternoon as Mom thought it would be better to keep the boys away while the entertainment center and desk were being assembled. Each has about a thousand pieces parts, just what toddlers and crawling babes like to get into! They were still assembling when we arrived so I wasn't able to finish the headboard; I need a second person to staple while I pull the fabric around that inside corner. Instead I assembled the blue side chair. I originally wanted two of these to oppose the love seat, but now that I have one in place I think that two, plus a side table won't allow enough clearance. Instead I need to find something bright and fun to fill that void where another chair ought to be. The two blue, faux croc nesting tables were indeed too tall next to the chair, but they filled the corner perfectly when I added a cat accessory from my sister's collection. I spent hours last night searching the internet for a corner piece for that spot to no avail. Now I have the height I was looking for without too much weight.The other thing I was tasked with was arranging my sister's artwork and posters. There is a very large sandblasted mirror that my dad did that I originally planned for the bedroom opposite the bed. But the more I thought about it I thought my mom's idea to hang it in the living room would be better because we could bring more color to that back wall from the reflection of the drapes. On the adjacent wall I like two painting my sister did in high school because they pull in lots of color in addition to being very personal. Why not have her work front and center?
Along the same wall but outside the seating arrangement I propose a print my parents' friend made as a wedding gift. Finally near the window we will place an oak Art Deco cabinet and above it I intend to hang her Chat Noir poster. I think the yellow there will work with the drapes and give us some nice height to fill this zone with no real purpose other than future cat scratch towers.
A painting of my father's that my sister wanted above a sofa I think would nicely fill the wall in the dining room, especially given the brand new yellow Provencal tablecloth my mother just brought back as a souvenir.One of our grandfather's cousins was a member of the Mazamas and had a collection of black and white photographs that my sister enjoys. We are thinking we will do some combination of them in the bedroom opposite the bed. We have a lot of framing ahead of us.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The carpet is in!

I met my mom and the curtain fabricator yesterday at my sister's condo. This was my first opportunity to check out the carpet after it has been installed. The nice thing about my mom being home is that she is taking over a lot of the management of the condo so I can take a back seat and the condo isn't consuming every waking moment of my life.
It is a patterned carpet that my mom and sister liked best so while wouldn't have been my first choice I think the color looks great with the wall color and once we get furniture moved in it won't look so busy. After the carpet was installed the two of them moved in most of her dishes and kitchen things. The whole process of moving is a little overwhelming to my sister. It touches on a lot of her Asperger's and her doctor has up her dose on her anxiety medication. So my mom is moving things in gradually rather than one giant moving day. Smart idea, especially since we aren't in a rush. I forget how many cat accessories she has though! Even for the kitchen! Anyway here is the green paint in the kitchen. I'm very happy with the way it turned out and how well it works with the adjacent blue of the dining room and living room. And not to toot my own horn, but the curtain guy kept raving about how great the green made the red of the cabinets stand out.
I can't remember if I included it before, but the bathroom paint became a bit of an issue. When my sister bought a new throw rug in a sea shell motif for the bathroom I assumed she was planning on having a new grown up bathroom for her new condo and losing the Emily the Strange stuff. I picked her paint color based on the bath mat. When she later told me she wasn't getting rid of the Emily stuff I was horrified at how awful the paint color would be with it. Mom has convinced her to switch to sea shells and no more Emily. her is the finished paint. I still need Mr. W to switch out the light fixture over the sink. I bought a blue shower curtain to tie in with the bath mat and the other day at Home Goods my sister found a few shell prints for the walls. They purchased a particle board desk from Office Depot and it was delivered without notice and just left on the walkway. Good thing my mom happened to be stopping by, but she had to move the whole thing inside by herself, and she has a bad shoulder. Which was the point of paying for delivery. In these photos you can see that she is in the midst of assembling the desk. I hope that works out for her.She also decided that rather than using my suggestion of buying ready made curtains and hemming them up to fit the window in the office that she'd rather pay to have custom ones in this room too. Since the curtain fabricator had to meet me to pick up the additional fabric for the bedroom we had him measure and give us yardage requirements for the office. i want the curtain rod to extend the full width of the walls here with an ample stack back to cover up this poorly placed electrical panel. (This is a dreadful photo)And although I charge up the camera before I left, it died and this is the only picture I got of the bedroom. I really like the textured carpet in here, as does my sister. It may not be the stripe she originally liked, but she is glad I found this for her. I am contemplating using this in our own bedroom if we don't do wool because we buy the Mt. Tabor house. If we stay for another 3 yrs I'd rather have wool. So everything is finally coming together. I think the plan is to have my Uncle D help move the furniture in on Sunday so that should be exciting. The curtains should be ready in about 3 weeks. I can't wait for that! I am still looking for a furniture piece to go in her living room against the wall by the window but I think I'd like to wait until everything is in before I decide on anything. I am also still looking for some sort of slipper or occasional chair to go in the corner of my sister's bedroom. Before meeting up with my mom yesterday I went to City Liquidators but found nothing that would work. I'm running out of places to search. I may walk over to Division St. today, there are a few cute boutiques that may have something for us.