March 29, 2012

decisions, decisions...

Somehow Lane and I came to an agreement that if he bought a board game, I could buy a shirt (it's prison rules around here while we are still saving for a house). I honestly don't know how those two things became paired together, but, he bought a board game.

I am sure you remember my confession about not only despising shopping, but also having absolutely no knowledge of what I am doing. And so, I am hoping that you fashionable friends of mine will help me out.

Here are a few possibilities I have picked out. But they may all be horrible, so I am completely open to suggestions (do you sense my terrible insecurity about all things trendy?) :

From J. Crew:

Je suis graphic tee

From Madewell:

Lineleader Tunic Sweater

Also from Madewell:

Hillstripe Ex-Boyfriend Sweater

Apparently I'm into stripes right now.... Any votes? Any suggestions? Thanks!

March 28, 2012

morning glory muffins

Yawn. Everyone has had a morning glory muffin, right? Nothing new. They are the ones that are "healthy" because they are full of carrot, apple, and nuts.

I have had my share of muffins that are supposed to be healthy, but are actually comprised of oil, white flour, and sugar. Not my muffins. Oh no.

I started by reducing the sugar and eliminating the raisins (in my opinion they have no business being in muffins, or, while we are on the subject, cinnamon roles either). Then I substituted water and flax meal for one of the eggs, and yogurt for part of the oil to keep them nice and moist. The result is a hearty yet delicate muffin. I have been eating them in twos, which is a terrible idea because they actually are very filling.

I am not completely sure of the exact measurements of the ingredients that went into the muffins. You see, James was helping me. He was also eating shredded carrot out of the bowl as soon as I would put it in. So, here is my best shot:

Morning Glory Muffins
adapted from King Arthur Flour's Whole Grain Baking
recipe says it makes a dozen, I got 16

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 brown sugar
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups grated carrot
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and grated
3/4 cup large unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 eggs
1 tbsp flax meal + 3 tbsp water
1/3 cup lowfat or nonfat yogurt
1/3 cup canola or olive oil
juice of 1 orange

Whisk together the first ten ingredients (flour through walnuts). In a separate bowl, beat together eggs, flax meal, and water. Add yogurt, oil, and orange juice, and beat well. Stir in flour mixture until evenly combined.
Coat a muffin tin with cooking spray or line a with papers and coat them with cooking spray. Bake at 375 for about 25 minutes. Allow to cool in tin about five minutes before removing and setting the muffins on a cooling rack to cool completely. Enjoy.

March 24, 2012


Yesterday afternoon my mom and I went to the Portland Art Museum to see the Mark Rothko exhibit. It was an amazingly sunny day, which made me feel a little guilty about complaining so much this past week.

Rothko was actually a native Portlander, which makes his work even more brilliant, if you ask me. He later moved to New York City, which is my second favorite place in the world, so his subway paintings are some of my favorites.

  Mark Rothko, Entrance to Subway (1938)
(this image from:

I also love his pieces that are big blocks of color. He had an incredible way of using color and blurring the lines just enough that you want to stop and stare and get lost in the paintings. I would love to decorate a whole house in prints of his.

Mark Rothko, No. 14 (1951)
(this image from:

I took this terrible picture of this awesome quote of Rothko. (It was in a stairwell, but I still had to take the picture super fast because, you know, no flash is allowed in the museum and, being the technological genius I am, I could not figure out how to turn the flash off my little Cannon pocket-sized camera.)


To me, this quote means that Rothko sees his art bridging a gap between he and the people that are privileged to enjoy it. I loved reading this quote because as I stood gazing into the huge canvases of color I thought about how he painted it to communicate himself through color and abstract lines, to bring his "observer" (me) closer to what was in his mind.

But before I get too philosophical, I will just say that we then went and had some great Lebanese food, and then drove home as the sun was setting. I was pleased when the Hawthorne bridge was going up and I was forced to stop my car, turn off the engine, and sit and watch the sunset reflecting off Mt Hood.

All in all, it was a refreshing evening that made me realize once again how much I love this crazy city of ours.

P.S. Did you know that the Portland Art Museum is free every last Friday after five?... Neither did my mom and I; they told us after we paid to get in a little after four. But I would encourage everyone to go see the exhibit... Who are your favorite painters? What kind of art inspires you to decorate?

March 22, 2012

snowed in... or out?

When I woke up to pee and check on James at about three this morning I thought our neighbor had left his porch light on... why was it so bright outside? I peeked through the blinds and was surprised to see a blanket of white covering the ground. I crawled back in bed, with that giddy its-snowing-outside excitement.

When I woke up again at six I wasn't feeling so much enthusiasm. The opposite in fact. I felt tired, and I had cabin fever to the max, but the last thing I wanted to do was go outside which would be freezing and require energy. I decided that instead we would play inside a little and then go to play group at our local gym. I made the excuse that I was "snowed out" and ready for sunshine and warmer weather.

James and I got all bundled up and put on our jackets and boots to venture out to playgroup. I tried to herd him immediately into the car. No such luck. Instead, he wanted to run through the snow in our front yard and jump in the quickly-forming puddles. I indulged him a little, but continued my attempt at persuading him to hop into the car. He was not having it. Finally, I gave up.

We put on gloves and went for a walk, splashing in puddles and crunching the snow under our boots. Then we headed back home and played with Sadie in the back yard, threw snow up in the air, and made a little snow man.

When our toes and fingers started to get numb we shook the snow off our boots and went back inside where we made hot chocolate ("ca-ca" according to James) and drank it snuggling on the couch.

I was a bit confused this morning when I didn't feel like a kid at Christmas, as I usually do, about the snow. I thought that I was "snowed out," ready to ring in the sunshine and say goodbye to the cold weather. I had a whole plan for the day that avoided the snow. Thank God I have a little guy in my life who can change my attitude (and my plans) in an instant by showing me the excitement and adventure and wonder in the things I find annoying.

If you live in the fabulously soggy Portland area: how did you spend the snow day?
...and if you live in beautiful, sunny Cali (cough-Jen): how did you spend your sunny day?

P.S. to make your own hot chocolate, do not follow almost every recipe you will find online. They will tell you to use about a three to one sugar to cocoa ratio, when it should actually be the other way around. I used less than 1/4 cup sugar, about 1/2 cup cocoa, a pinch of salt, a couple cups milk and a couple cups water. Then you heat it slowly on the stove, whisking well. This makes three or four servings, and is deliciously chocolaty.

March 20, 2012

the first day of spring (or so they say)

I'm feeling a little jealous of the beautiful weather some people are having, while here it's snowing on our daffodils.

Or at least it did yesterday, which I guess is fitting since yesterday was technically the last day of winter.
I am so ready for sunshine, picnics, and fresh produce from the farmer's markets. I blame the weather for my lack of creativity in the kitchen lately, but I have been reaping the benefits of other cook's creativity. I tried to make up a fresh dish this evening which involved asparagus, tofu, and basil; but the overall flavor was not blog-worthy.

Until the sun comes out and I feel more inspired, I guess I will just have to put on my snow gear, grin, and bear it.

March 17, 2012

happy st. patty's day

I kind of boycotted the holiday by wearing blue and making Italian.

We spent a lot of time looking at houses today, and then played outside in the sunshine.

In case you're not sick of the housing updates yet, we didn't get house number five. But we were one of the two offers that were actually considered, so that was exciting. I bought flowers as a consolation gift to myself.

We saw a house today that came on the market yesterday evening. Twelve people saw it today, and there is an open house tomorrow. We put an offer in, but our offer will be one of multiple. This house has it all: crown molding, built-ins, wood floors, a huge fireplace with a mantel, a great backyard, those super-charming glass door knobs, and -in classic NE style- two tiny bedrooms, one tiny bathroom, and a ginormous unfinished basement. Oh, and did I mention it's one block from Alberta? If we don't get this one, I will be doing some major retail therapy next week.

Until a further update, please help me make this post more interesting by telling me your St. Patty's day adventures. Any green beer drinkers?

March 15, 2012

some chalkboard paint craftiness

It all happened very fast.

Yesterday a house came up on the rmls that our realtor sends to us each morning, and we thought "cute." By the evening, we had done a bit of research on the house and the surrounding area, and we decided we wanted to go take a look at it. I gave our realtor a call this morning. She said we could tour it on Lane's lunch break, but there were multiple offers on it by that point. It had been on the market only 24 hours, and that is how the market is in NE Portland right now. 

We saw it and decided to put an offer on it. Our fifth home offer, if you've been counting. I don't think we got it, and I have to admit that I'm getting a bit bummed out by our inability to find a home that will stay on the market long enough for us to purchase. So, to make myself feel better, I have been mentally decorating the house we don't have yet; finding inspiration, and making things.

Yesterday, it was chalkboard paint

First, I painted this frame, which was this awful brown wood and I decided very suddenly that I hated it and it must be painted. 

Also, I broke the glass in one of the picture frames above our key hooks. So, I wrapped the backing in wrapping paper and painted over the paper with chalkboard paint. I think it would be fun to decorate this little square with different kinds of wrapping paper depending on the occasion or holiday.

What do you decorate with chalkboard paint?

March 14, 2012

mom fashion

Let's talk about fashion. Wow, I never thought that the word "fashion" would enter my little blog unless preceded by the words "I know nothing about."

But (as dumb as it may sound) lately I have been thinking a lot about fashion. I realized I don't really like my wardrobe, and I just keep adding boring things to it. It's like if you have a set of boring and not very pretty dishes, but you break one dish at a time, so instead of buying a whole new set, which takes time to pick out and a lot more money, you just keep replacing the broken ones with the exact same dishes.

Every once in a while I will buy something trendy. Last year (okay, once in a great while) I bought a super-cute pair of black leather boots. But in order to wear the black boots, you have to have the leggings, and then you have to have the strategically long shirts, or cute skirts and tops. Or you have to have skinny jeans, in which case you have to have skinny thighs...

My point is, I hate shopping for clothing. I wish I could hand someone a wad of money, give them my sizes, and let them buy it all for me. I realize that there are people who make this their profession, but I think they charge a ridiculous fee. And they shop at the real Nordstrom instead of the Rack.

The other problem -aside from no money, time, or desire to go shopping- is that I want to look cute, but my clothing has to also be functional. I can't exactly show up for library story time and sit criss-cross applesauce  in high heeled boots, leggings, and a miniskirt. I also shudder to think of myself crawling into the bear cave at the OMSI kid's room in "skinny" jeans.

I know that there are much bigger problems in the world, and I am so lucky to have clothes at all, especially so many clothes that keep me warm and dry and comfortable. But, c'mon, I am a girl in my mid-twenties, and you just wouldn't think it to look in my closet. So, I have been trying to get creative and to re-purpose some old clothes. Here are some examples of my attempts (things are about to get weird; let's just say I'm no budding clothing photographer, and these pics look more like a person melted and left only what they were wearing) :

Above: Layers are always good, right? My mom gave me this jacket a few years ago; it's from Levi and apparently was the same one that the blonde actress wore in "Kill Bill", and my mom just had to have it. The black hoodie is probably the softest thing I own. It's cashmere that I got on a huge after Christmas sale at Gap my senior year of high school. As in, eight years ago. Underneath the sweater is a redish T that I found on the Target sales rack for about six bucks. The scarf that I wear around my head has a red that matches the shirt, and I wear it when I haven't had time to wash my hair the night before. It was a Christmas gift from an old boss.

Above: The pumpkin-colored sweater was actually given to Lane, but he is not sure how he feels about the V-neck, so I swiped it from his side of the closet. I belted it with an old leather belt my mom gave me to make it less manly, and wear it with a blue scarf that has big pink, white, and orange flowers. Luckily, the sweater is long enough to wear with leggings and then I can wear my hippest clothing item- the boots!

Above: I feel like this outfit could either be super old lady, boyish, or maybe it is just really hip. I bought the flannel shirt last mothers day, which, by the way, was the last time I actually went shopping. I wear it with this awful sweater which I think could be extremely mom, but I like to think that I make it edgy by wearing it with the flannel shirt, cool earrings, and my 7's. I'm not sure if I'm correct in this assumption.

So, here is the question: What's a girl to do? How do I make my style less suburban-mom and more up-to-date without spending a fortune? What are your favorite style tricks and ways you use old clothing in trendy ways?

PS I love that yesterday I checked my blog to see if anyone had posted rainy day ideas (thank you Jane, we will be flying paper airplanes very soon, and hopefully I will be brave enough to make some flubber) and I noticed that the blog fairy had visited. I now have a boarder on the sides of my blog! So fun.

March 11, 2012

one rainy Sunday

Although we had a short blast of sunshine last week, there is much evidence that Spring has not yet arrived.

The sunny portion of Spring, anyway. The rainy portion has moved in to stay for, well, at least the next fifteen days. Luckily for our family, we know how to party despite the gray clouds.

This morning James helped make pancakes, then we had a musical parade. At one point Lane was drumming on a tin can, James was wildly beating two measuring cups together, and I was using my microplane sleeve as a trumpet, all as we ran circles at a dizzying pace around the table.

There is nothing quite like baking on a rainy day, so I made some crackers during nap time. I told you before how I had made these crackers once, but they were too greasy. I tried substituting half the butter for olive oil, and they turned out perfect. My only regret is that I made just one batch.

After nap (and much cracker munching) we pulled on our boots and our rain jackets and headed out to do some puddle jumping. We happen to have a puddle the size of a lake that forms each time it rains at the park down the street.

You can imagine what took place.

So, these are the simple and wonderful ways we spend our time... what does everyone else do on a rainy day?

March 08, 2012

sweet and salty tempeh fajitas

I am not sure if I have ever confessed to you that I am a picky eater. But, it's true. I am extremely picky. There are many things I dislike. Among them: mayonnaise, cucumbers, and meat. Honestly, I can't really stand the taste of meat. I also despise preparing it. I would surely be a vegetarian if it were not for my wonderful husband, who doesn't consider a meal actually a meal unless it contains a component that once had a face.

I do, however, very much enjoy meat substitutes. Especially tempeh. The grainy texture is much better than tofu, and it takes on whatever flavors you marinate and cook it in.

If you have never prepared or eaten tempeh before, this is a great recipe to start with. It is sweet and salty (obviously, hence the name), easy, and quite satisfying.

Sweet and salty tempeh fajitas
adapted from this recipe

1 cup diced pineapple
2 limes
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp cumin
freshly ground pepper and salt
8 oz multigrain tempeh, cut into thin strips
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 bell pepper, cut into strips
1 white onion, cut into slices the long way
1 bunch green onions, chopped
about 1 cup broth
whole wheat tortillas

Place pineapple, juice of one lime, soy sauce, and cumin in a food processor and puree. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour pineapple mixture over tempeh strips and refrigerate for at least two hours.
Heat a large pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add one tbsp of olive oil, then place bell pepper, onion, and tempeh in the pan, reserving marinade. Cook, and cook, and cook, stirring occasionally. Add the other tbsp of olive oil, then the broth little by little as the mixture cooks and the moisture is used up. Sprinkle in green onions and add the reserved marinade just before done.
Once the tempeh is browned and the veggies are tender, take off the heat. Warm tortillas. Place tempeh mixture into a tortilla, sprinkle with cilantro, and fold up. Serve with lime slices. Enjoy.