Thursday, May 28, 2009

14 years ago today

wedding photo

We walked to At Last (B.B. King and Diane Schuur). We danced to Thank You (Page and Plant).

We have been together through birth and death, and a few rebirths in the process.

We have come to know ourselves and each other.

And it just keeps getting better.

Happy Anniversary, love. I look forward to many, many more.
I love you.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009



Every once in a while someone asks me to do a small, commissioned piece. It hasn't happened in a really long time, and it's so much fun to get to think old-school again. For this piece, the client wanted a special card for her parents anniversary. She had envisioned something that had the names of the children and grandchildren spiraling or circling around the names of the parents, along with a personal message to them.

The part of this that's old-school, other than the fact that it's a one-off, is that I actually broke out the watercolors for the background. That's what makes these types of commissions so fun — getting into collage, painting, drawing, basically “real” media again, as opposed to just being on the computer.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Say cheese!

I've been wanting to try making my own mozzarella for a while now, and this week's pizza night seemed the perfect opportunity to dive in.

This is actually a fairly simple process, made even more so by my discovery of Ricki's Cheesemaking Kit, which I picked up at our local cheese shop (Foster and Dobb's for the locals). The kit contains everything you need except the milk and a pair of rubber gloves. The rennet provided is vegetarian, which I appreciated.

The next step was finding good milk — the fresher the milk, the better the cheese. As I posted last week, I found some great, local milk at the farmer's market. It's important that the milk not be ultra-pasteurized, a process that a lot of big-agro is using now because it extends the shelf life of the milk (handy if your trucking it far and wide). The ultra-pasturization does something to the milk, though, which prevents it from turning into cheese.

The kit contains a simple step-by-step guide on how to create mozzarella or ricotta cheese. Several, more experienced, cheesemakers told me not to expect success the first time, but everything worked perfectly. It really was very easy to make and, honestly, it's hands-down the best mozzarella I've ever had. The taste is richer and more flavorful, and it melts beautifully.

Here's a visual step-by-step of the process:

Ricki's cheesemaking kit
The kit, plus milk and gloves (not pictured), are all you need to make mozzarella or ricotta.

heating the milk
Heating the milk, plus rennet and citric acid. Once it gets to the right temperature, you let it rest for 5 minutes until it becomes custard-like.

curds and whey
You then take a large knife and cut through the custard, separating the curds (cheese) from the whey (liquid).

The curds with the whey strained off.

kneading the curds
A few minutes of kneading and stretching, followed by shaping into a ball and submersion into cold water.

Voila! C'est fini!

Saturday, May 23, 2009


I've been a coffee addict for most of my adult life. I remember sitting in my 10x15-foot dorm room having a panic attack my freshman year in college and finally realizing that a 32 oz ice coffee before my 8am psych class was probably not a good idea (I cut back).

Before I had Anna, I had this weird thing where I could only drink coffee on an empty stomach (it seems to be the opposite for most people). Once I'd eaten, coffee upset my stomach. In yet another miracle of nature, once I had a child who hated to sleep, I gained the ability to drink coffee at any hour of the day. This has had both upsides and downsides.

For the past few months, though, I'd been feeling kind of run down. I'd pour more coffee into my body to try to perk up, but it got to a point where it just wasn't helping. And then, a little voice in the back of my head started nagging at me that the coffee might, in fact, be part of the problem.

Of course I told the voice to shut the hell up because, come on, I love my coffee.

And then in one of those weird moments where the planets align just a certain way, two people talked to me about yerba maté within 24 hours. and they happened to be two of the most energetic, fit people I know (granted, one of them is childless).

I picked up a box of Eco Teas Organic Yerba Maté (local + organic = :-) and decided to try it for a day. It has now been about two weeks. Every morning I make myself a shot of espresso (to which I add water and soy milk). After that, I drink maté. Know what? I feel awesome! Tons of energy. Stupid amounts of energy. And, honestly, I'm not even finishing the coffee most days.

I consider this a wait and see in terms of lasting benefits, although I'm sure getting my coffee consumption down is nothing but good. I'll keep you posted and we'll see if the maté-love lasts. For now, I'm all in.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

new textures and updates

It's been a long time since I posted any texture pictures. I don't know why I'm so drawn to this stuff, but I am. These were all taken outside the Ecotrust building (home of the awesome, local, cheap, organic, eateries Hot Lips pizza and Laughing Planet).

As I write this, I'm listening to the soundtrack from Crazy Enough — again! I cannot get this woman's voice out of my head. I think she may have the richest, most beautiful voice I've ever heard (certainly live). If you're a local, you really should try to check out her show. You can hear clips of the album I'm hooked on here.

Also for locals, a save-the-date. I'm currently scheduled to do my first two art shows/sales next month. I'll be at 2nd Friday on Lower Fremont June 12th and at Milagros Crafty Mamas Bazar on June 20! Please come say hi so I don't get all sad and lonely! I'll post a reminder as the dates get closer.

And finally, a hint of things to come. As I've mentioned before, I've been really impressed with the book The Omnivore's Dilemma. I have been working with UC Berkeley on a series of events around the book and they have generously offered to donate 10 copies to me to give out as a sort of lending library experiment. This should happen in June, so stay turned!

Monday, May 18, 2009



This weekend epitomized why we Portlanders put up with the long, grey winter. It was sunny, hot (for us, 80s is hot) and everyone was out.

We started our Saturday with the Art Hop along Alberta Street. There were about 15 blocks of art, craft, music, food, and general silliness.




Then time to get our tomatoes planted (mid-May is the right time here — it's when you can safely assume there won't be any more frost). This year we've added strawberries, purple kale, and rainbow chard to our tomato and raspberry crops in the back yard. Definitely working towards some self-reliance though we've got a ways to go.



We also picked up a lovely birdbath at Garden Fever to keep our feathered friends happy this summer. Does the fairy look like anyone you know? ;-)


Sunday we checked out the new farmers market on NE 7th/Wygant. It was awesome! It's much smaller than the PSU market, but the adjacent playground more than made up for that! And I was able to get great, local milk for my foray into cheese-making later this week! I also got some local feta (goat milk), which is great because we decided to give up the one we love at Trader Joes since it's shipped all the way from Israel (quite the carbon footprint for a little hunk of cheese).





Finally, we capped off the weekend with dinner at the Bye and Bye, Portland's only vegan bar/restaurant. Our friends Ami and Andy brought us (along with Eliot, of course!) and the kids colored while we enjoyed awesome food and killer drinks in a great space.

As my father used to remind me, these are the good old days.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Crazy Enough

Wednesday night is usually date night. This week, it also happened to be Anna's birthday and I wanted to do something special, even though it was just us grown-ups. We're not theater folks, mostly because it's just not in our lexicon, but also because of cost. However, a colleague had raved about Crazy Enough, a one-woman show here at Portland Center Stage in the Armory building (which we've been curious to check out since they remodeled a couple years ago) and we happened to get the last two seats to the show.

I had heard of Storm Large, both because she's a local celeb and from her brief fame on Rockstar Supernova, but I didn't know much about the show. It was fantastic. Seriously, I sat open-mouthed with my arms around my knees for most of the show, transfixed by this woman's voice. The story of her life as a child with a psychotic mother and, later, as a heroin addict, is mesmerizing. But her voice is transformative. From the very first note she had my full attention.

The play is intense, but in no way a downer. In fact, Storm is hilarious. A mix of vulnerable child, bawdy vixen, and, more than anything, a born performer.

Crazy Enough has been extended here in Portland until June 28 and you should call right now and get tickets. The theater is tiny and seats are general admission, but they're all good. The price, about $37 each is high, but really, it's so worth it.

And getting to hear my husband sing along to "My Vagina is 8 Miles Wide": Priceless.

Note: None of the attached links do her voice justice. To hear what she really sounds like, click here. You can hear clips from the show and/or buy the album, which I'm going to do right now! Gotta love the internet!


It's been a very busy week. Anna turned 4 on May 13, but we celebrated with a party the weekend before. Parties of any sort turn me into an erstwhile Martha Stewart, although I think Anna's finally gotten to an age where that no longer makes sense. The amount of cooking (about 2.5 days worth) was really over the top for a few little kids and their parents! Next year, I think I'll just stick to cake!

That said, I did do a few things that I think worked out really well:

Given that it's springtime in Portland, I decided to combine an activity with a take-home gift. I bought small, terra cotta pots and had the kids decorate them with stickers, markers, and stamps. Afterward, they added a little soil and some wildflower seeds. Anna's started sprouting this morning, so I hope the other kiddos are watering theirs at home!

Sticking to the outdoor theme (party was in the back yard), Anna and I decorated plain brown lunch sacks with stamps and stickers, and then filled them with bubbles, sidewalk chalk. a cloth flower, and an organic lollipop.

The food was over the top, but delicious, and I think I'll post some of the recipes here. For the kids I made banana cupcakes with chocolate cream-cheese frosting. For the adults I made an orange-polenta cake, which was from Gourmet magazine and was made even more complex by the esoteric list of ingredients (orange-flower water!). Both were served with organic ice cream (thank god I decided not to make my own!). I also made spinach-ricotta pies (sort of like quiche) for the brunch, which I served with prosecco mimosas (see why this was over the top for a 4-year-old's birthday party!).

So I'll leave it to you in the comments to tell me which recipe(s) you're most interested in. Whichever gets the most requests will be posted sometime next week.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Dan Barber: A surprising parable of foie gras

Last night, during a discussion about The Omnivore’s Dilemma, the above video was Googled (it was, as my friend Nick says, a Googlruption*).

The talk is really engaging — funny and sweet — and well worth the 20 minutes required to watch it. And it ties in perfectly with those many forces pulling my attention to our food, and our relationship with the planet. 


* Googlruption: when whatever you're currently doing/discussing is interrupted by someone needing to look it up on Google.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Homemade granola bars, version 1

granola bar

These days I'm thinking a lot about what I eat. I've always liked the idea of homemade over store-bought, and now I've got more motivation than ever to avoid processed and packaged foods. So, ever the treat-lover, I decided to try making my own granola bars. These were quite good, and even better the second day, but I plan to try other variations too. Because, why not? I could see versions with dried cranberries, chocolate chips, cashews, sesame seeds … so much sweet, crunchy goodness awaits!

Enjoy! And post your results if you make these!

Granola Bars (adapted from
2 cups oats (not quick oats)
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped, roasted peanuts
1 t cardamom
4 T unsalted butter
2T peanut butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 T honey

Mix oats, raisins, peanuts, and cardamom in a bowl. Combine butter, sugar, honey, and peanut butter in a medium saucepan and stir over medium heat until mixure is smooth. Pour butter mixture over oats mixture and stir until well coated. Transfer to buttered (or sprayed) 9-inch square pan and bake at 350 degrees until golden, about 30 minutes. Let cool and then cut into bars with a sharp knife.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Serious Cuteness at Poppy & Ivy

Lately a whole bunch of seemingly disparate things have been coming together for me. Ultimately, they all point back to the health of the planet, whether they originate with the health of our children, our economy, our neighborhoods.

One of the ways this has manifested is in my neighborhood. There's a little cluster of shops at the end of my street, and lately I've been worried about them. On the one hand, I'm so glad they're there as opposed to some chain or fast food joint. But the truth is, I haven't been supporting them nearly enough. If they went out of business in this tough economy, I'd be one of many to bear the blame.

So, recently I've taken to showing up. I didn't have any particular agenda when I started other than to be there in some way to support these (mostly) women. And then great things just started happening. At Poppy & Ivy I found the perfect little box to complete the sewing kit I'm putting together for Anna's 4th birthday. And I found a really sweet, unique copy of The Three Bears, which I'd been telling Anna but we hadn't ever read yet.

And, most important, I started connecting. I spoke with Amy, the shop's owner, about my bags and skirts and she mentioned that the Michaela, who owns Sofia next door (seriously gorgeous, handmade clothing), has organized a monthly sidewalk sale and that, for a $10 fee (to cover advertising), I could set up a table. And, by the way, if I didn't have a table she'd be happy to have me use one of hers — and wouldn't her ironing board be a cute display for my things? (I'll be at the June 12th event! Come say hi!)

And then I learned about The 3/50 Project, which explains just how you can help support your little neighborhood stores.

I really feel like this is the time to start doing the work to take our planet back, one little piece at a time. In the next few months, I'll be talking a lot more about the ways I'm trying to put my time, money, and energy where my mouth is with all of this. Please join me. Let me know what you're doing. I really believe that it is an extremely critical time for change.

P.S. I know I keep harping on commenting, but it's still not taking. If you liked this post, if you have something to share, please try to do so here in the comments, where others can benefit from it. I know you have to sign in, but once you've done that you can just set your preferences to "Remember Me" and you won't have to do it again. See? So easy! ;-)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tuesday miscellany

Our model is wearing a Strongrrl-made poncho and skirt. Accessories are model's own.

There is a bunch of this and that to share, so I thought I'd just do it all in one place today.

I've added a bunch of new bags and skirts to my etsy shop. Please go take a look. I probably won't be adding more for a little while, but am always happy to talk about custom orders. So if you love a certain skirt, but need it in a different size, just let me know! And special thanks, once again, to David and Duncan for the lovely photos!

I'm currently reading The Omnivore's Dilemma by Micheal Pollan. Have you read it? I think that this book, combined with Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver (which I've recently finished) is going to have a major influence on how I look at food going forward. These are important, accessible books and I'll definitely be writing more about them going forward. If you'd like to join me in some some of informal reading/discussion group, let me know and we'll figure it out.

On a somewhat related note, I've been experimenting with homemade granola bars of late. Haven't found true love yet, but I'll keep you posted. Have you ever made them? Any favorite recipes to share?

Lastly, I'll leave you with two new songs I've been loving:
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Zero
Cage the Elephant, A'int No Rest for the Wicked

Enjoy! (oh, and play Zero as loud as you can!)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Pizza Night


Seems like pizza night has become a fairly common way for American families to carve out some together time. For me it's great because while I really crave structure and ritual, I am really not very good at creating either one. And, of course, it combines two of my favorite things: cooking and eating!

We've only recently begun a sort-of-weekly pizza night. The plan is to do it on Fridays, although we're flexible. One time we had friends come over and our three girls got to help together. The dads got overly enthusiastic and ended up making four large pizzas, which we managed to make a pretty good dent in anyway!

I begin by using one of my 5-minute-bread recipes (the olive oil bread), which I usually prepare at least a day ahead (that's not necessary — it just makes it easier for me). Anna helps with the sauce (marinara) and cheese (fresh or shredded mozzarella, feta) and then the grown-ups decide on additional veggie toppings (Anna's still a cheese-only girl).




This, like most things I enjoy making, is a very flexible process. You can roll the dough as thin or thick as you like, add jar sauce or make your own (or, in summer, just use fresh tomatoes, pesto, etc.), and use whatever you can scrounge for toppings.

I'm including the olive oil bread recipe, but as I've said many times before, I highly recommend buying the book

What your family does for mealtime traditions/rituals? (NOTE: these little questions at the end of some blog posts are not meant to be rhetorical! I'd actually like to know! Feel free to reply with a comment. It's easy, free, and helps to make us all a community. Thanks!)


Olive Oil dough (adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day)
Makes enough dough for 4 pizzas (dough can be kept in a sealed bowl in the fridge for up to 2 weeks)
2 3/4 c. lukewarm water
1.5 T. yeast
1.5 T. salt
1 T. sugar
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
6 to 6.5 c unbleached all-purpose flour

  1. Mix yeast, salt, sugar, olive oil and water in a 5-quart, lidded (not airtight) container
  2. Add in flour. Do not knead, but you may need to use your hands to incorporate last bits of flour.
  3. Cover and allow to rest at room temperature at least 2 hours.

When you're ready to make pizzas, take a grapefruit-sized hunk of dough and form a ball. Allow to rest about 15-minutes (this step isn't necessary, but helps keep the dough from snapping back when you roll it out). Dust with flour to keep from sticking. Use a rolling pin to make your crust, top with sauce, cheese, veggies, etc and bake on a pizza stone dusted with cornmeal (or cookie sheet) at 500 degrees 8-10 minutes (Or longer if desired).