Category Archives: Uncategorized

Underwater San Francisco

During our recent trip to San Francisco, my husband and I went to the Steinhart Aquarium, which is part of the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. And since he’s stoked about getting the new aquarium, my husband had to visit. It’s really quite a wonderful aquarium full of more than 38,000 live animals from around the world.

It’s difficult to take photos of the many remarkable animals behind the glass, but here are a few of my “pretty-OK” shots.

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These Folks Have a Sense of Humor!

There is a building suppy company in Tigard, Ore., that I used to drive by every day. “Wow,” you say with a bit of sarcasm in your voice. Yes, I know, this sounds like a super lame thing to blog about, but actually the people who run the business are very funny. I don’t know them personally – I’ve never met them or even seen them. But the reason I say this is because they are always coming up with funny sayings to put on their sign.

I drove by a couple days ago (without my camera, darn it) and the sign read:

LEVEL HEADED PEOPLE LOOK FUNNY AND SHOULD BE IN A CIRCUS

I’ve always thought all their sayings would make a great book. They certainly make me smile each time I go by!

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It’s Spring in Oregon

Having grown up in the Midwest, I have a real appreciation for the coming of Spring. Saying goodbye to the nasty cold, snowy winters and saying hello to Robin Redbreast and the first crocuses – that sometimes popped up through the melting snow – was always a joyous celebration. I’ve lived lots of places – from cold Minneapolis to HOT Phoenix – but this spring I am truly grateful for living in Oregon.

It’s February 22, and the spring flowers are blooming, buds are on the trees, and we’ve even mowed the lawn twice already. It’s been a pretty crappy winter for you brave souls in the Midwest and East, but this winter has been the BEST in Oregon since we’ve moved in…and it’s been 6 years since we set roots here. We’ve only had one day of snow. Yes, one day. It started snowing at about 2 in the afternoon. We got about 4 inches, and by morning, it was all gone. (Of course, I probably just jinxed us.)

I got out this weekend and took a few photos of “springness.” I hope these give you a little hope that spring is on its way!

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I Made Bread – And It Was Good!

Woo hoo, you say. Bread, no big deal. OK, so it’s isn’t like I built the Taj Mahal, but I’ve always thought it would be fun to learn how to make real bread – not just banana bread or the like. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE banana bread, but I don’t want to eat it every day.

I made real artisan, taste-like-you-bought-it-at-the-bakery bread. And it was easy!

One of my “Things to Do in 2010” was learn how to make bread, so I bought the book, “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.” Five minutes a day? Really? Yes, it’s really true. I’m always skeptical about the prep time recipes list since it usually takes me longer than what is stated, but the title of this book doesn’t lie.

I started yesterday morning, and it took about 10 minutes to combine the ingredients and put it in the container where it rises and is stored in the refrigerator. And I must note that this 10 minutes included a brief “potty break” as my daughter who is in the midst of potty training had “to go to the potty NOW!” while I was putting flour into the mixer. So 10 minutes is a bit of a lengthened prep time.

After two hours of resting time at room temp, the dough was put into the refrigerator for about 4 hours. You make enough dough to last you about a week – making one loaf a day. After the four hours of chilling, I cut off enough dough to make a loaf and rounded the dough into a French boule shape (that’s the round loaf with slashes on the top), which took only about a minute. After letting it rest for 40 minutes, I popped it into the oven for 25 minutes, and Voila! Bread.

My husband, who is often leery of my new culinary adventures, even loved it. My kids ate it up. We sat and ate it before dinner with some brie. Oh la la. We thought we were French for an evening! I’m gonna make more tonight!

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My Design Style – Rustic Revival. Who Knew?

I have a habit of tearing out pictures and pages from magazines and saving them for way too long. And since it’s January 1st, I figured it was time to go through all the recipes, photos, design ides, etc. that I’ve been saving for a year.

I came across an article from the May 2009 issue of Sunset magazine that I saved that is called “One-click home design.” It lists three online decorating services that cost way less than that of a traditional interior decorator. One service, Sproost, is free. I like that price!

So I went onto the Sproost site and took quiz to see what my design style is. The quiz shows you multiple photos of rooms and you have to rate them as: Love it, Like it, Just OK, Don’t Like it, or Hate it. Based on my choices, I’m deemed Rustic Revival. I like it – or should I say I love it?!

Photo of "Rustic Revival" from LivingEtc.

“You are one of the unique individuals who loves a mix of modern and country. The clean lines of the modern softened by rustic /vintage elements is the perfect mix in your mind,” the explanation tells me. I really think that pegs me pretty well. I love modern styles furniture but couldn’t live without our antique store finds. I feel like a home needs a sense of history, even if it’s not necessarily your own. Does that make sense?

After taking the Sproost quiz, I was reminded of one of my favorite decorating books, Found Style by David and Amy Butler. (On a side note, I never realized that the book was written by Amy Butler who happens to be one of my favorite fabric designers.)

Found Style by David and Amy Butler

When I bought the book back in 2003, I fell in love with the style – modern pieces interspersed antique/garage sale/thrift store/flea market finds.

We’ve got a little decorating project in our heads for this year – changing our dining room into a “fish tank room/sitting room” and our little-used living room into the dining room. You can bet I’m going to be looking for “found style” inspiration this year!

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Blustery Beach Vacation

We had the wonderful opportunity to stay the weekend with some friends in Lincoln City, Oregon, a few weeks ago. You might not think that this would be the best time of year to go to the beach, but in Oregon, any time is a good time. Considering the water is never warm enough to really swim in, even in the middle of summer, winter offers some beautiful scenery and great weather watching.
Our friends built their house this year, so it is brand spanking new – and gorgeous! They call it the Knee Deep Beach House – cute, huh. My friend did a great job decorating and furnishing the place. It’s a great example of how if you take your time, you can put together a modern, fresh home on a budget. She bought most of the furnishing from places like IKEA, Cost Plus World Market and TJ Maxx. But you’d think that it came from much more expensive stores.

The house is just over the bluff from the beach so it took only 3-4 minutes to walk there. And though it was a little chilly, we had a blast looking at the tide pools and dodging waves. They rent the house out, so I’m sure we’ll be back lots of times!

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Artichoke Dip: A Mission for Yummy Goodness

Years ago when I lived in Minneapolis, my husband and I would go to this eclectic little restaurant and bar called the Loring Cafe (it unfortunately closed a while back). It was one of those bars where they had live music and comfy sofas and chairs to sit on – of course thinking back you probably wouldn’t want to see those comfy sofas and chairs during the day when their Goodwill-ishness would rear its ugly head. Things like that seem to take on a hip quality in the darkened, mood lighting and after a few drinks. But I digress…

The restaurant though was delicious. And the best thing on the menu in my opinion was the artichoke dip. Good artichoke dip is hard to find. Often it’s too creamy (too much mayo) or too oily. Or people throw in spinach. I like spinach but not in my artichoke dip.

So one time, we asked what was in the dip. The waitress was very cordial and started telling us the ingredients, but with the caveat that they make it in huge vats so the portions she knew wouldn’t make much sense if you wanted to make it at home. She obviously didn’t know how much I loved artichoke dip.

After that, my husband and I made it our mission to recreate the Loring Cafe artichoke dip. It took years, literally, of trial and error, but we finally perfected it. Now I feel that I owe it to the world to share what I feel is the best recipe for artichoke dip.

1/2 cup real mayo

1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (Use the best quality you can. Sometimes the really inexpensive brands can get a bit oily.)

1 8-oz package of frozen artichokes, thawed and roughly chopped

Pinch of red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons diced green chiles

1 garlic clove, minced

Salt and pepper

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. Don’t bake for much longer than that or the mayo starts to break down and get oily. Twenty five minutes has been deemed the optimal time. :^)

Do enjoy!

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