Monday, September 28, 2009

Sneak Peek



I'm in the home stretch of the project I've been working on the past few months. I mentioned before that I had worked with Mercy Corps on the design of their annual report. Now I'm helping them with the graphics for the Portland Action Center, housed in their new global headquarters. The Action Center is “a first-of-its-kind, interactive public space that educates and empowers visitors to tackle the global challenges posed by poverty.”

The ribbon cutting ceremony is Friday, October 9 and there are going to be events in the Center all weekend.

My posting here will probably be scarce. I'll try to make it up to you with lots of great pics of the Center after everything's in place. And if you're local, come check out the Action Center!

Friday, September 25, 2009

New bag for a new babe

One of my oldest friends just had a baby. This bag, which I custom made for them, is just my usual Farmer's Market bag with lots of extra pockets.

Happy Birthday, Zachary!

Choosing fabrics.

Attaching the straps and the bottom panel to the body.

Attaching the lining (orange). The strip of dotted fabric is one long pocket that has been divided into 4 smaller ones of varying shapes.

What the finished piece looks like. I love how it looks a bit like a pregnant belly in this photo!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


In preparation for our upcoming trip to Japan, David, Anna, and I took a field trip to Uwajimaya; an enormous Japanese market in Beaverton.

Our mission was simple: stroll the aisles and look at things. Appreciate the differences. Pick a few things to bring home and try.

bags of rice





plum wine

The designer in me just loves this stuff!

So far, we've liked the rice crackers and seaweed products. Not so much with the wagashi cakes.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Kind of Jew

I'm Jewish by birth, but really know nothing about Judaism. Since having Anna, I've toyed with the idea of learning more, but it just never really works out. I'm not interested in the religious part, just the cultural aspect, and it's often difficult to separate the two. And I'm kinda busy.

So when my cousin called last week and said “Shana Tova”, I said it back. Then I asked her what it meant. After she finished laughing at me, she explained that it was Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. I asked what that meant I was supposed to do and she said it was all about the apples and honey. See, this is why there's a part of me that still tries, because it seems to always come back to food!

Never one to waste a baking opportunity, especially one that brings me closer to my people, I did a Google search for recipes. This Apple Honey Bundt Cake from All Recipes had tons of great reviews. Of course I modified, cutting the sugar in half and subbing applesauce for half the oil.

The cake itself is good, not much different than the Applesauce Cake I wrote about here. But the best part was that when Anna sat down to eat her first piece she said “Happy New Year!” Mission accomplished.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Just because

ice cream sundae

ice cream sundae

Anna and I were running errands the other day when we spotted an old-fashioned soda fountain.

(And don't think I haven't noticed the irony of this post coming right after the last!) It's one of the pleasures of life — inconsistency!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Aw, nuts!


Some people are spiritual seekers. I am a nutritional seeker. Over the years I've dabbled in just about every (healthy) dietary variation out there—vegetarian, vegan, wheat-free, dairy-free, raw, macrobiotic—but I haven't really landed anywhere in particular. Mostly I eat a healthy, seafood-etarian diet and struggle with my love of dessert.

One thing that I've read about but never really understood is this business of soaking grains and nuts before you eat them. Seemed like an unnecessary complication and, frankly, a bit woo-woo. But over the weekend it was explained to me in a way that I finally understood.

Nuts and grains contain living enzymes. These enzymes provide vital nutrients for our bodies, and help with the digestion of these nutrients. When the nuts and grains have been sitting around dry (in stores, warehouses, our cupboards) for a while, the enzymes become less accessible to us. By pre-soaking, we reactivate them (sort of wake them up), thereby increasing the beneficial proteins, amino acids, etc. In effect, we make the food a "living" food again.

So last weekend I soaked my first batch of nuts. I happened to have a bag of walnuts that I purchased at Trader Joes some time ago. I dumped them into a bowl of filtered water for 8 hours and then spread them on a cookie sheet. I chose to dry them in my oven on low heat (200F) for a few hours, but you can just air dry them to keep them totally raw. Super easy.

Do you soak nuts and/or grains? What has your experience been?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Gluten-free, peach-cornmeal upside-down cake

Gluten-free peach cake

This recipe is one of those that feels so special you want to save it for an occasion, but really, it's great anytime.

The original recipe wasn't gluten-free, but has so little flour in it that it was an easy gluten-free makeover. One of the things I really like here is that you start the cake in a cast-iron skillet, and then just transfer to the oven for final baking.


Gluten-free peach cake

Gluten-free, peach-cornmeal upside-down cake (adapted from Martha Stewart Living)

1 stick butter, softened
3/4 c. sugar
3 peaches, cut into 3/4-inch wedges
1 c. yellow cornmeal
3/4 c. brown rice flour (you can use any flour that you usually bake with)
1 t. baking powder
2 t. chopped fresh lavender
1 1/4 t. coarse salt
3 large eggs
1/2 t. vanilla
1/2 c. whipping cream, plus more for topping if desired

Preheat over to 350-degrees (F). Melt 2 T. butter in a 10" cast-iron skillet using pastry brush to coat sides. Sprinkle with 1/4 c. sugar and cook until bubbly and golden brown. Arrange peaches as shown on top of sugar. Reduce heat to low and cook 10 minutes or so until peaches soften. Remove from heat.

Beat remaining butter and sugar with mixer on high until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Mix in vanilla and cream. Whisk remaining dry ingredients together and then add to butter mixture.

Drop large spoonfuls of batter over peaces and spread. Bake until golden brown and a tester comes out clean (about 20-25 minutes). Let stand 10 minutes and then run a knife around the edge of cake. Quickly invert cake onto a cutting board. Let cool before serving. I like it with fresh whipped cream with just a touch of vanilla and sugar added.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


When Anna was an infant, I used to drive in a big circle out to the airport to try to get her to fall asleep. Roughly once a week my dad would come up for the day and we'd use this time to have long “blue-sky” conversations—about wishes, dreams, goals—the sky was the limit.

At the time, my main fantasy was to raise Anna as a world traveler. In it, David, Anna, and I would pick a destination each year and spend time learning about the culture, language, and customs in preparation for our journey. Then off the 3 of us would go for anywhere from 2–6 weeks.

The birth of this blog came from the first such opportunity. A lot had changed since those blue-sky talks. My dad had died suddenly and unexpectedly, which eventually resulted in my pursuing a dream of fluency in French. That led directly, but unintentionally, into a 6-week house-swap opportunity in Normandy, which was the impetus for starting this blog.

And now the universe has offered another such opportunity: a trip to Japan! Recently, David and I were talking about the fantasy of travel, but weren't really feeling prepared or motivated to do much about it. A leisure trip so soon after France just didn't seem feasible. Then David mentioned a conference happening in Tokyo this November and said that he could submit a proposal for a talk. Nothing to lose, right?

A couple weeks ago David's proposal was accepted, but still. Japan's awfully far away and awfully expensive to get to. Can't hurt to ask about funding opportunities, right?

Several days ago we learned that David was chosen to receive funding for his travel expenses, meaning that, while still expensive, it's an opportunity we simply can't pass up.

I am a firm believer that if you let the universe know you want something, and the universe delivers, you don't ask questions! You just GO!

Of course, I'll be blogging all the way, beginning with resources I dig up in the process of researching our upcoming trip. And if you have any tips or resources to share, please do.

P.S. Dear universe, not to be greedy, but I'd like to make it known that if I have to declare a blogging niche, I'd love for it to be travel blogging! Just letting you know. Blue-sky.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Stocking up


The past few days have been filled with fruit. Both at the store and the farmer's markets, we've been busily stocking up on fresh, organic (where possible), berries and peaches to freeze for winter.

Our technique is simple: spread fruit on cookie sheets and freeze for a few hours. Then place the fruit in freezer bags until you're ready to use.

Freezing the fruit on trays first ensures that the pieces are individually frozen and that they won't come out in a solid lump when you're ready for them.

Of course, not all the fruit made it into the freezer! Anna got to enjoy her first blueberry pie. A last taste of summer (for now, anyway!).

freezing fruit, berries


freezing, peaches

blueberry pie

blueberry pie