Sunday, September 30, 2012


We were feeling too much pressure to tie up some lose ends around the house for the insurance company so Mr. W wasn't up for roasting a goose this year. Instead he chose to spatch cock a chicken and we dined as a family of four.
Our figs are ripe, which I recently discovered thanks to a curious, and hungry neighbor, so I included some of them in a harvest centerpiece.
 Normally I wouldn't have any idea what Mr. W was talking about when he said he was going to spatch cock the chicken, but I watched a lot of Martha when I was nursing my first baby. That skin looks delicious. He did a perfect job I think.
 Our Little Helper is always happy to have a drumstick. I'm going to have a thousand photos of him in this pose by the time he is grown!
 Roasted chicken with gravy, roasted acorn squash, and sauteed broccoli. Yum!

Friday, September 28, 2012


Last night we went to Chapman school to watch the Vaux swifts descend into the chimney to nest.  This is a somewhat recent Portland tradition. People began to notice that these migratory birds, that typically sleep in hollowed out trees or snags, were nesting in this chimney in the city.  There is a lot of wide open space around this now disconnected chimney so the flock has lots of space to fly around to get in.  During the month of September the swifts are still in Portland and stay at the Chapman school so Portlanders gather on the hillside to watch their decent at dusk.
The flock is huge to begin with and they circle and circle around as on a few birds can make it into the opening at a time.  They each cling to the interior walls of the chimney to roost for the night. The whole process takes over an hour as the birds circle and circle around.  It is as Mr. W calls it mesmerizing.  And the event is not without its own drama.  This many birds in one spot opens them up to predators so there is usually an appearance of a hawk that comes out of nowhere and gets a swift or two.  That happened last night.  A collective gasp goes out from the crowd. I think there are some who are rooting for the hawks, but we are Team Swift.
It's nearly the end of September so I was a little worried that we might have missed them. But my grandma had mentioned that the weather would be 80 degrees through the weekend, and My Little Helper doesn't have school today so I thought last night would be the perfect opportunity to squeeze it in this year.  We made a picnic dinner and Mr. W met us at the school after work.

A huge crowd had already gathered by the time we got there so we were half way down the slope, but I don't know if you can get a bad seat for Swift watching.
 The swifts circling

 Baby Boy enjoying some apple slices while bird watching.
 It was a beautiful sunset.
 As it grew darker the swifts began their decent into the chimney more earnestly. Here are better pictures of them going in.
What a wonderful way to spend an evening with the family. I love Portland!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Vintage chairs and appliance shopping

Wanda Sykes was doing a comedy show at the coast the same weekend as my mom's birthday and she offered to babysit so we could go. Unfortunately by the time I had secured a sitter the concert was sold out. My mom was still willing to have the boys for the weekend so MR. W and I took that opportunity to go to appliance showrooms to look for a new range, fireplace insert, and he decided to look at refrigerators as well.
The stove we have now is a hotmess. I think that she swapped this out with one that was in the house into which she was downsizing. I knew I wanted to get a slide in range even though the current one is freestanding. I figure the counter top is a white corian so it should be relatively easy to get a small strip to match at the rear, if not we could use some angle iron and a stainless steel strip.  I would prefer the slide in becasue it will have a lip that will prevent crumbs from getting trapped between the stove and the countertop.  We had this problem at our old house and it was pretty gross. I know a kitchen renovation is FAR in our future, but if the stove is still good by then, I'd want to have a slide in application.
We started our search at BASCo. We pretty much narrowed our search down to an Electrolux dual fuel range and the JennAir Prostyle duel fuel range. When I had been looking at stoves online I was interested in the new feature for adjustable oven racks which allow you to have two levels on one side and then one on the other half. I thought it would be a great alternative to a double oven for Thanksgiving dinner. One coudl have a turkey roasting pan on one side and room for two sides on the other. However once I saw it isn the showroom I realized that the rack doesn't go all the weay back so a roasting pan couldn't fit on one side. (This is probably confusing to understand without a picture.) In any event, I was able to eliminate this feature as a requirement.
We both prefered the styling of the JennAir Pro versus the European styling; it is more expensive, but in the big picture not by much. I prefered the control panel on the Jenn Air and Mr. W favored the Electrolux's. For some reason I'd rather have more manual knobs than a digital control panel. 
We both liked the pretty blue interior of the Electrolux, although I feel bad for it, it will never stay that clean in our house. It also has a lower oven vs just a warming drawer on the JennAir.  (Probably because of the placement of the control panel on top near the cooking surface. Having them up top is certainly advantageous at the age our children are now.) Two ovens is definitely an advantage.  At this point, I will leave the final decision up to Mr. W. He's mush more particular when it comes to cooking than I am; I'd be happy with either model.
We drove out to the Eighty deuce to check out Standard TV & Appliance also. They had a smaller selection of slide in ranges, and the prices were slightly higher.  The did have more refrigerator options for our dimension limitations.  Our favorite was the Kitchen Aid.  It is a french door model which Mr. W really wants, but the freezer section has a somewhat solid bottom, which is a big deal to me.  I really don't like the open wire bottoms, it seems like a mess just waiting to happen.  We both really liked the full width deli drawer. We're big cheese and meat eaters so they extra space will be great.
We also visited Gordon's Fireplace shop to look at gas inserts for the fireplace. We learned that what we probably need is just a gas log unit rather than an enclosed, proper insert. We don't need to heat that much space as an insert will generate. We also don't have enough room to fit a modern insert in our Victorian firebox. More on this later.
On a whim, on the way back from the Eighty deuce, I asked Mr. W to stop at the Monticello Antique Mall. My mom has seen some large garden fountains there a few weeks ago, and I just wanted him to take a look so he could visualize what I was thinking about to eventually use in the triangular shaped parch of grass outside the bay windows of the tower.  They were having a big event with new vendors and all the fountains I had seen a few weeks prior were gone. I was ready to leave, but since Mr. W said he'd never been to this mall before, he wanted to go into the main section to look around. As I followed him in, the very first booth I saw had a pair of Art Deco channel back side chairs.  I've been looking for something like this for our Drawing Room for months.  I've been searching craigslist with not much luck in finding pairs of chairs.  I have seen them on ebay, but can't bring myself to pay for shipping costs.
Here are few images I have been saving. I simple adore these ones!
Isn't the fringe detail on these chairs wonderful?!

These ones needed some serious love, but I liked the channel back, low profile arms, and the brushed fringe.

So when I saw this pair, in green, in Portland, and for $125 each I was beside myself with excitement.  We're definitely on a budget right now, but as I told Mr. W I have been searching for months. Plus the original upholstery on these is in such good shape that I wouldn't need to (or have an excuse to) reupholster them for a long time. Fortunately for me Mr. W agreed that the price was right. And since we had no children, or their car seats, with us we had room i the car to get them home.
So here they are in their new home:
I think they fit in perfectly with all the other Deco furnishings in our Drawing Room. They even have the same self welt detail on the base as the davenport and arm chair. You can get a better look of the nubby fabric here.

 I am so excited about these two chairs.  I have been sitting in them constantly. I don't think they'll replace my favorite seat in the house, but I feel they really complete this room.  They fill in the bay window, but are lightweight enough that they can easily be pulled forward into the conversation circle. They were just what I was looking for, and I can't believe the deal I got!
That photograph is of my Great Grandma Thelma and the nude lamp belonged to my Great-Great Aunt Frances. That textured glass is on original.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

On to Cycle #14

On Friday I had my CD2 appointment with an ultrasound, which showed my 3 cysts had resolved themselves without the help of BCPs (Yippee!) and blood work, the results of which were E2: 57 and FSH:7.6.  The most exciting thing to me was that unlucky Cycle #13 turned out to only be a textbook 28 days long. The RE anticipated it could be upwards of 40 days since I chose to decline the BCPs.  But I added in acupuncture treatments again this cycle so I have a suspicion that contributed to a "normal" cycle length. 
In any event I'm on to more follisitim injections.  They are keeping me at 75iu increments for now through Thursday when I'll go in for a monitoring appointment.  Fingers crossed that I will be able to get mature follicles by then so I won't need to purchase another vial of drugs.  So far this cycle has the potential to be a two for the price of one deal.  (Well, only if you count the follisitim.  I'm still paying OOP for two rounds of office visits and labwork as well as needing to purchase another vial of ovidrel.  BUT, the follisitim is the biggest chunk, so lets hope one is enough again.
This will be my Hail Mary cycle. I am resolved to do one last cycle of timed intercourse.  I know that is the only approved method in the church's view, so I'm willing to give it one last shot.  But I'll be very honest.  with my birthday looming and multiple failed cycles behind me so far, I'm starting to really freak out about my low ovarian reserve numbers and my chances at having another baby.  Girl or boy, we really want another child and I'm willing to do intrauterine insemination in order to improve our chances should this cycle fail.
Speaking of girls vs boys, I was doing some research on another website for gender disappointment and non -high tech ways to determine sex.  It is called Swaying.  There are probably 7 points to the swaying techniques. most of which are too tedious or bizarre for me to undertake (ie checking your ph by sticking ph test strips in your cooter to assess whether you have the right environment and if it isn't then douching with lime juice or alternatively dipping a tampon in lime juice and inserting that into your nether regions for awhile until the test strips come out with the proper result. Umm...yeah...I guess I'm not that obsessed with having a daughter because I want no part in that business. 
But there are many diet related changes that one can make to help Sway For A Girl. One is no caffeine at all.  That one hurts the most.  I had a major headache the night I quit tea cold turkey and never really felt all there the next day.  I'm 3 days in and still feeling a little off.  Other things to watch for low sodium food, no red meat, limit potassium, load up on calcium.  It actually is mcuh, much more restrictive, but I'm just not that disciplined when it comes to diets.  I dont do them. But I am willing to adjust what I eat to fit in with the general guidelines of this Swaying Diet.  Non of it is scientifically proven anyway, but I'm willing to try making some changes and see what results.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

My favorite seat in the house

We brought home some cut flowers from the Dahlia Festival so I took a few photos of the bouquets I made. This is my favorite seat in the house.
It is in our parlor with a view out the picture window. I hate pink, yet somehow all the Victorian things I have end up being pink due to previous owners. One day I can afford new wallpaper and upholstery fabric, but for now I'll suffer through the pepto in my wonderful new house where my Eastlake chair that I have had nearly 15 years is finally at home.  I bought it when I was renting a bungalow in Sellwood, took it across country with me to NY where it lived in a 4th story Brownstone stripped of nearly all decoration, next a postwar studio in Spanish Harlem, then back to Portland where it lived in a corner of the Living Room of The Laburnum Bungalow.
It looks so happy here. I have been waiting all this time to reupholster it because my cat Mortimer likes to scale the back of it and pulls the gimp out.  You'll notice the Eastlake side chair opposite my arm chair.  I found it on craigslist for $50 shortly after we moved in and had to have it.  Why am I not surprised that it is also pink?  I'll eventually reupholster them in like fabrics, unless I come across a suite fo Eastlake parlor furniture in my price range.  In that case these two non-matching chairs may be divided up among other rooms in the house.
Dahlias are one of my new favorite flowers!
 Iplaced another bouquet of dahlias in the adjoining Drawing Room.  This room has become a home for most of the art deco furniture we have.  Look at all that space for our davenport! It's no longer squished up between a colonnade and a fireplace.
 A better view of this arrangement.  That vase is a celery vase which was a wedding gift for my great, great grandparents married in the late 1800s (the letter with the exact date is surely packed away in a box right now.)
 A view of the stairwell.   
You can see that I moved the copper cache pots with rubber plants from the front parlor window pack along the paneled wall. I don't think rubber plants need that much light and they were looking a little weird.  I'd like to find a console table to put there.  I'm having a hard find time finding something perfect though because 1) We're kinda broke 2) I want something that can pop on that wall while at the same time not cover up that gorgeous paneling. I think something with a metal base and a marble top would be a nice juxtaposition.  At the very least it needs to be a painted wood.  I just found this table in a catalog today which might work.
I put some masking tape on the floor to mark how big it would be and see how that feels. Well, that and save up some money.
I also recently arranged the upper half of my grandma's secretary.  In the old house I kept my Nancy Drews in here, but decided to change it up in the new Parlor.  To start off with I decided to line the back of the bookshelves with a decorative paper. After lots of searching the best paper I could find for now was a pretty Florentine paper in blue. Blue was my grandma's favorite color and I'm anticipating doing this room in turquoise (drawing from the Povey window in the entry) and peacock blues.
So here it is before:
And here it is after. All these books are tea related (I have visions of tea parties in my new Parlor.) The collection of Mexican, hand painted, ceramic animals I inherited from my grandma. A few photos of her, including one with her and me with the secretary in the background, and a doll my uncle made for me when I was a child.I can't decided if I should have the paper extend all the way to the corners or not.  I bought enough sheets of paper to do that, I just didn't want to fuss with lining them up perfectly.  Right now this is attached with scotch tape and the seam hits right at the middle shelf.
The Dia de Los Muertos couple  and the folk art painting of a mission are souvenirs of mine which I thought compliment her collection.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Back to School Dinner party

Tomorrow is the big day! Our Little Helper goes off to full day Pre-Kindergarten! I'm happy, excited, nervous, and a tiny bit sad. I'm going to miss my little guy all day long. And he'll be off having adventures and learning new things without me.  It's a big step for both of us.  But I am really looking forward to having time alone with Baby Boy.  I think it will be great for him to spend the majority of his days having my undivided attention and not being tormented by his older brother.
I searched high and low for the right dragon backpack, lunchbox, and water bottle.  I got all the uniforms ordered, washed, labeled, and ready to go (although another dresser for the boys sure would come in handy!) All the school supplies have finally been purchased and fill up two brown paper bags by the front door, ready to go . Myriad snacks stock our refrigerator and pantry to fill his lunchbox and re-useable snack and sandwich bags.  The camera is on the charger.  I think we're good to go!
But not until we have our back to school dinner party!  Our first one, last year, fell on September 11th so I finessed it into a Big Apple Dinner party.  This year I could just apple it up back-to-school supply style.

(And please forgive the boxes still stacked up in our dining room! We're short on built-in storage space in the Victorian and I can't finish unpacking.)

Most of these decorations I used last year with a few new school supplies added in.

I bought these cute little lined chalkboards at Learning Palace while shopping for the Blue Dragon Birthday party and school supplies. I thought they'd make cute little place mats for the dinner. I wrote MLH's grade on his place mat.

I was looking around trying to find menu ideas for back to school night, hopefully something that might include apples, but instead found a blog with some cute tabletop ideas.  I used this as inspiration for making the menu using lined paper and some school bus yellow cardstock. It has been a very long time since I have been so precise with my lettering!

We kept our menu simple this year:
  • Toasted ham, brie, and sliced apple sandwiches on sourdough bread
  • Carrots and broccoli with ranch dip
  • Apple juice

 (Mr. W forgot the ham on the first round of sandwiches. They were still very yummy!)
MLH and I found these cute Martinelli's apple shaped  juice bottles at the grocery store today and had to have one for our dinner.
Baby Boy is still pretty particular with food so we're grateful for anything he'll eat.  Apples are a yes as long as we cut off the skins.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Canby Dahlia Festival

Somehow I never really knew that dahlias existed until after my dad died. Near the 1 yr anniversary my mom went with me to a tea convention in Victoria, BC and on our trip to the Butchart Gardens I 'discovered them. They are so pretty!  Fabulous gigantic blooms! The following year I decided to try out the Canby Dahlia Festival.  I dressed MLH who was about 2 at the time in one of the dandy rompers my mother-in-law sent him.  It was a great photo op.  As we left the farm I saw signs for the Canby Basil Festival across the road.  We stopped so I could buy some basil for freezing pesto and I noticed they had a train.  Unfortunately it wasn't running during the week, but I planned to return again since it was so close to his birthday.
After verifying the train was running this weekend, we took the boys on Labor Day. We'd have to go early though because my mom had planned her own birthday party for him that afternoon. I had dressed MLH in a dandy romper the first time we went so I dressed the boys in rompers again.  I think this is the last time any of them will fit in these. First we took a few photos on the porch.  5 year olds are fickle when it comes to posing.
 It is a good thing we got there as close to 10 AM as we could because there were already a ton of people there. The weather was still pretty overcast, so I hoped it would eventually clear up as predicted.
 The boys enjoy being able to touch all the flowers and MLH wanted me to read all the names of the flowers to him.
 The dahlia fields.
 He is so sweet in this romper!
 Baby Boy  has a new favorite game of bouncing in your arms and laughing.
 My favorite ones are always purple!
 Playing a version of the game with Daddy.
 This is the only dahlia with a name I can remember, Checkers.  Very interesting; we both liked it.
 After we bought some cut flowers and caramel corn and went through a bounce house, we crossed the road to the Basil farm and bought tickets for the train. I was a little disappointed because on the website they have a shiny, black engine.  When we arrived there was a schlumpy little engine named Sparky. Cue sad trombone.
The boys didn't seem to mind at all though!
 This is his "I'm so excited to ride a train for my birthday!" face.
 The train ride is about 20 minutes, that includes two trips around the track and stopping once to pet the barnyard animals.  If we get pets again after my cat Mortimer goes to the giant litter box in the sky I'd like to do bunnies. They boys enjoyed the bunnies.
 They also enjoyed feeding the chickens.  I was interested in getting city chickens until Mr. W told me I would have to kill them when they stop producing eggs because he won't do it.  So I'm rethinking it for now.

 The boys with Sparky.
I should add that it wasn't the best planning to have the boys in these dandy rompers while out with farm animals, but I was pleasantly surprised by how clean they stayed. Well done, boys! Hope you enjoyed the day as much as I did!