Monthly Archives: May 2013

Interview Series: Sarah Heath

I’m excited to bring you my first Portland interview! Sarah was one of the first people I met when we moved into the Sellwood neighborhood. She was at the meeting the neighbors held to discuss the mural design for the Sherrett Square intersection. She showed up without shoes on in late March, and my curiosity was piqued!


Jamie: Tell us a little about yourself.

Sarah: I’m a 23 year old artist and playful living extraordinaire! I spend my days working on creative and collaborative projects and try to be as helpful and goofy as possible! I believe that the best way to inspire others to do good in the world is to live your truth. I love graphic novels, harmonizing, loukoumades, and playing my soul sport ultimate Frisbee.


Jamie: I’d really like to know more about your barefoot philosophy-how did you get into it? Do you ride your bike without shoes? Do you go into restaurants without them?

Sarah: Well sure! It all began many years ago down in the Rogue Valley where I grew up. We lived on a few acres of land surrounded by meadows with views of mountain ranges and I’d spend hours upon hours romping around in “the back 40” unshod. My mom would insist that I wear shoes, but after many futile attempts, she finally conceded to allow me to play without a scolding because I’d never listen. Going barefoot wasn’t even a question. It just made sense. It felt right.


I wore shoes or sandals in public places when I had to and at school. Shoes became more of an installation in my life during my high school years what with sports and the desire to fit in being larger factors. At some point, I started to realize how odd and almost nonexistent it was for adults to walk around outside of the house without shoes. This was troubling because I felt the most like myself, I felt the most comfortable barefoot, and I didn’t want to be chastised or gawked at for it. At that time I was getting into film and I thought it would be a great documentary topic from a social commentary point of view. I began researching feet and barefooting and discovered that there were several organizations that were totally dedicated to barefooting, which was awesome! I also discovered that many myths surrounding laws and the dangers of going barefoot in our modern societies were false.

I shelved the idea for a while, but kept coming back to it excitedly. While at university, my activist fires were ignited and with my new found confidence I felt empowered to be more vocal and active in my barefooting. I gradually moved almost completely away from shoes and over the past couple of years have been working on the preproduction of my documentary film Foot.


All of the research I’ve done over the years has expanded my knowledge of the scientific and health related reasons for going barefoot, but the deeper truth was there all along. I knew it as a child, as I think we all inherently know it. When we go the beach or park and slip off our shoes without a thought, instinctually gripping at the sun warmed sand or luscious grass beneath us. Our bodies and hearts know that it’s good because it’s how we come in to the world to experience it. It’s how we connect to everything. To the past, present, and future. To life!

I try to be barefoot as much as I can, but I usually bring sandals with me if I know I’ll be going into buildings that may have an issue with being barefoot. I’ve asked all of the places I frequent and about half of them are fine with me coming in unshod. Usually it’s liability that folks are worried about which is unfortunate. I do bike without shoes. Two summers ago I biked to the coast barefoot!


Jamie: You are onto something there with the idea about instinct for sure. When we truly connect with nature, we do instinctually take off our shoes. But what about winter? Don’t your feet get cold? And in this climate in particular, a lot of people take off their shoes when entering a house, how do you navigate that custom if your feet are wet or muddy?

Sarah: People who live primarily barefoot actually have warmer feet because their circulation is better. When you use all of the muscles in your feet to support and move your entire body instead of relying on the support of shoes, your feet demand more blood flow which your heart is happy to provide. A lot of times in the winter I’ll start out with wool socks in sandals and a half hour later I need to take them off because my feet are too hot. This isn’t always possible as it does get very cold and wet in a lot of places, so I do wear wool socks with sandals or shoes that I make. I’m crafty and love tedious projects, but there are handcrafted moccasin-like shoe producers out there. The closest to Portland I know of is in Corvallis and they are named Soft Star Shoes. (Website below). They’re really wonderful!

As far as going into homes goes, feet are much easier to clean than shoes for one thing, so it’s usually enough to just wipe on the doormat a few times. If it’s particularly mucky out, I may bring along a hand towel just in case, or I’ll ask for one when I arrive. Also grass is a great bath and mat all in one!


Jamie:  I am also very interested in the work you do with the Planet Repair Institute. Could you talk a little about that? (And in particular, the project you did about making your bed!)

Sarah: Sure. Well PRI is the home I share with four others as well as a demonstration site and permaculture school. We all work together on experimenting with all kinds of urban homesteading projects such as growing our own food, installing rainwater catchment and other water systems, straw-clay insulation, and community asset sharing. Every year we participate in the Village Building Convergence as a site and we host a 15 day Permaculture Design Course that’s spread out over several months in the summer and fall. We all also have our own projects outside of the house, but at the same time are all very invested in this place. Mostly we’re all very interested in exploring ways in which we can sustain our needs at home, instead of outsourcing them and spending most of our lives apart from the place and people we love.


My bed project is expanded upon on our blog listed below, but basically I needed a new bed one day and didn’t want to purchase one because beds are weird and chemically and I have no idea where or how they’re made. So I thought, “why not make one!? How hard could it be?” Fortunately because we do a lot of building around here, we had all of the tools and spare lumber for the job. I did source some nice scrap untreated cotton canvas for the mattress and bought some localish straw to stuff it with.


I love making my own things. It’s one of the most satisfying activities to partake in. I’m so incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to spend a large portion of my days making my own furniture, clothing, food, and artwork instead of performing ultimately meaningless tasks for someone else hours on end so that I can pay for yet another person to provide for my needs. It’s not perfect, certainly not always so dandy or easy, but it is always rich and meaningful. And that’s what matters.


Jamie: Would you share some of your favorite internet links?

Sarah: – Awesome shoe company in Oregon – The society for barefoot living’s homepage – Permaculture demonstration site and home – Great Portland organization that puts on the Village Building Convergence – My garden inspired earring website – A magazine that I really love!

Look out soon for my film’s website!

Thank you so much, Sarah, for taking the time to answer my questions! You are so interesting, and this interview only scratches the surface. Please everyone reading this, feel free to ask her more questions, and I will make sure she sees your comments.

portland photography: new baby

My beautiful friend Tara invited me to photograph her newest family member’s birth day. For me, words can’t really describe an event like this. Tara was magical and strong. Her new baby boy is full of possibility.

tara + baby


You can see more photos on my facebook page here. (SFW)

Portland Photography: Lake Grove Upholstery

I grew up with a mother who loved antiques. For a time, she even ran a large Antique Warehouse on Apache and McClintock in Tempe, Arizona called Cheap Antiques. It was huge: one of those buildings filled with different vendors and rooms. It was unlike any other I’ve been in since though. The back section of the warehouse was a workspace for certain employees to refurnish the some antiques. I used to watch in awe as they dipped heavy pieces into an industrial sized tub to remove all the varnish. It smelled like stripper, oil, and wood shavings back there. I loved it.

It’s been a long time since then; my mother has long since changed careers, but I did inherit a couple of large chairs that wouldn’t quite fit into her house the way she wanted. I lugged them all the way up here to Portland. (Thanks David! I know they were heavy!)

One of the chairs in particular has always been ugly. The fabric on it, I just don’t even know how to describe it. Colorful?


I have provided evidence with a “vintage” photo of me and my cat taking a nap on it. As you can tell, it is comfortable. Definitely worth saving. MAKEOVER MONTAGE! (Just kidding, although if I already had photos of the after…sorry you will have to wait. JUST.LIKE.ME.


I took it to my local reupholster-er. These folks are legit. Alexander Baghdanov is the third generation in his family to practice this business. His wife Lyubov runs the front desk, and his children work in the shop as well. They have beautiful accents and are wonderfully friendly.




Part of what they do is give the furniture a little love. I look forward to seeing how they salvage what my mother’s pug pack did to this arm.


Alexander Bagdanov





There are A MILLION FABRIC SAMPLES. It was so hard to decide. But I finally did. EEEEEEEE!



I hope to have the “after” photos in another week or so!



Portland wedding photography: Matt and Christina

I received a call from a good friend; his cousin wanted to get married the coming weekend-could I shoot the ceremony? Of course! It was a small gathering, and their most special guests were their family of dogs. (I am sure some of you can relate!)

matt and christina-portland wedding

We met in one of the parks in Sellwood. They wanted to be surrounded by nature, so we had the ceremony near a small pond surrounded by trees. After, the dogs ran free near the river and they celebrated with (so Portland!) Voodoo Doughnuts!

matt and christina-portland wedding

matt and christina-portland wedding

matt and christina-portland wedding

matt and christina-portland wedding

matt and christina-portland wedding

Congrats to you both! Thanks for letting me be part of your big (little) day!

Portland Photography: Camamu Soap

There’s a little workshop in my neighborhood of Sellwood called Camamu Soap.

camamu soap-jamie carey mulhern

It smells amazing-and it should! They named it after a little piece of paradise in Brazil-a small port town inside an amazing mangrove edged bay. When you first walk in, you are actually standing in their workspace. If you are lucky, they’ll be pouring or cutting the soap into bars. I visited when they were doing just that! They take the soap out of the wooden molds and cut them into pieces with wires.

camamu soap-jamie carey mulhern

Sarah is pushing the soap through the wires here in the above photo.

camamu soap-jamie carey mulhern

camamu soap-jamie carey mulhern

After they cut them into bars, they go into a cool closet for about a month to cure.

camamu soap-jamie carey mulhern

camamu soap-jamie carey mulhern

You might think that handmade soap is just for little old ladies, but I was surprised at all the products they had. The soaps had all different uses-some were gritty for gardeners, but I could see mechanics and cooks using it too. They had shaving soaps, soaps for skin conditions, and gentle soaps for babies. They even had dirty dog soap!

camamu soap-jamie carey mulhern

I wish you could smell these hand poured soaps. So many different combinations! All made with essential oils, hand foraged herbs, and quality oils! (I’m hoping that Lori will let me follow along on one of her herb picking walks.)

camamu soap-jamie carey mulhern

camamu soap-jamie carey mulhern

camamu soap-jamie carey mulhern

camamu soap-jamie carey mulhern

They make more than just bar soap too! They sell some gorgeous Turkish towels-they are a smooth cotton, much different than the type of towel one normally finds in a bathroom. I think I may splurge on one.

camamu soap-jamie carey mulhern

Lori is creating an oil here that she infused with herbs. If I recall, it’s a hair oil-like a leave-in conditioner or for bearding softening. Mmmmm! Smelled lovely!

camamu soap-jamie carey mulhern

camamu soap-jamie carey mulhern

camamu soap-jamie carey mulhern

They also make lotions, toners, creams, and salves.

camamu soap-jamie carey mulhern

camamu soap-jamie carey mulhern

camamu soap-jamie carey mulhern

I asked Lori a few questions about how the business came to be and the inspiration behind it:

 “I started the company 13 years ago after apprenticing as a cheesemaker on a biodynamic farm in the UK. I’d always been interested in both cheese-making and soap-making…ended up back in Portland without farm or sheep/goat’s/cows and so started making soap instead. I had no particular intention of starting a business but loved the process and the alchemy of it, the creativity and artistry involved and couldn’t stop making more and more batches. I worked for years out of my home until 2006 when the business had grown to the point that it could support a storefront/fabrication area. I have always loved the idea of having what we do be visible and the process accessible.

I have created most of the recipes. Sarah created the chakra soap line.

We source our ingredients and packaging supplies as locally as we can. The bulk of our base ingredients (fixed and essential oils) come from three local businesses. Our organic culinary and botanical ingredients come from a company in California. Items in our retail section are also primarily from other local artisanal businesses (Wild Carrot Herbals, Portland Bee Balm, Big Dipper Wax Works, Cusp Natural Products, etc.)”