Category Archives: life at home

cocktail: gin & ginger

gin & ginger

gin & ginger

I saw a starfruit at the grocery store and realized I hadn’t had one in maybe twenty years? I remembered my mom came home with one one. I brought it home and sliced in for a garnish in my Koval gin and Q ginger ale cocktail tonight. If you haven’t ever had one, it’s a bit citrusy and has a soft flesh like a grape. They do have seeds, but are big and easy to remove. Cheers!

interview series moving forward and some reflective thoughts

unicorn portland

Last year was one full of great changes for me.

David and I left Phoenix to move to Portland at the very end of February. I had lived in Phoenix my entire life. My original plan was to move after college, but it took a little over ten years.

We went from owning a large home to renting a small (725 sq ft!) house! We learned and are still learning to pare down what we have. It helps that we don’t live close to any big box stores full of inexpensive and tempting things. There’s a sense of accomplishment to let go of things we’ve been holding on to both physically and emotionally.

After finally getting my health under control in 2012 and moving at the beginning of 2013, I was finally able to get a job in a new career. I am so grateful for those who saw my potential and ignored my lack of experience. I am grateful for the teammates who help me with the steep learning curve everyday and make my job a fun place to work. I am full of joy to move forward and learn new skills and grow. Thank you: Jarnigan, Jesse, Wael, Jordan, John, Kenny, Mike, Ian, Robert, Lucas, Matt, Will, Grant, Raul, Charlie, Mel and Alison.

I am thankful for my friends and family who have visited me here in Portland bringing pieces of home. I love showing my new city to you. I still have so much to discover each day about this magical place full of artists, trees, and quirky shops. Oh and the food. Thank you Tom, Sarah, Jill, John, Stacy, Erica, James, Tim, Anke, Judy, Chanelle, Gabe, Susan, and Bree. (Am I forgetting anyone?)

And speaking of food, what a perfect city for me! Restaurants that label their menu with gluten free indicators (GF)! Chefs who understand special diets and embrace the diversity of their patrons! Hooray!

Just under the gun, Stephanie slid into Portland. She left Phoenix before I did, but overshot and landed in Seattle. She just moved to the neighborhood last month! I am thrilled to have one of my best friends back again.

We visited Phoenix in May for my little brother’s wedding. It was originally going to be a destination wedding, but they changed their plans. It ended up being just perfect for them: full of friends and family. Dancing, eating, toasting, drinking…so full of emotion and celebration.

I rode my bike to and from work about 10-11 miles round trip along the river on a bike path from the beginning of October to the end of November. So maybe about 460 miles? I suppose that isn’t much for you regular cyclists, but quite a lot for me. I am excited for the mornings to warm up a tad (50 degrees please!) and the sun to extend it’s daylight hours so I can ride again.

In some sense, my blog has suffered because of my new life. I feel compelled to be outside so often. I love exploring and when I am at home, I like to unwind with my knitting. I have met so many wonderful people here though, so I want to continue my interview series and increase the frequency. I can’t believe I only interviewed three people in 2013!

2013 Interviews




2012 Interviews:






2011 Interviews:












2010 Interviews:






Portland Photography: Sellwood Walking Tour

I joined a walking tour courtesy of my friend Rachel from Sellwood Soap! (She gifted me a ticket!) I learned so many new things about my lovely new neighborhood and it’s layered history as a blue collar railroad and sawmill town!

Sellwood was originally settled around 1848 by the Luelling family who brought five hundred fruit trees with them in their trek. Later, John Sellwood purchased three hundred and twenty acres from the Luelling family. Eventually, the town of Sellwood was founded and named for John Sellwood.

The Sellwood Bridge 1925

Nearby was the sawmill, Pendleton Woolen Mill (still in business today in a different location), and the railroad. It’s currently under construction and will be until 2016.

Sellwood Walking Tour

Portland Rowing Club Entrance (originally located by the Morrison Bridge)

Sellwood Walking Tour

The house in the photograph below was moved from another location. It was a parish house for a local church. (I learned a lot of buildings and homes have been moved! Who knew that was a thing?) See the house below the picture of the photo to see it in it’s happy new locale.

Sellwood Walking Tour

Sellwood Walking Tour

We saw condominiums where the location of the former Mount Hood Brewery (which originally began as Wilherm’s Brewery in 1890.)

Sellwood Walking Tour

Our tour guide suggested that the house below may  have been a Sears Roebuck mail order house, but she was unsure.

Sellwood Walking Tour

The red house below sits next to the private gold course which borders Clackamas county yet sits on the Multnomah county side. It also had been moved from its original location on the golf course grounds.

Sellwood Walking Tour

This was a beautiful garden hidden in a neighborhood.

Sellwood Walking Tour

There are railroad tracks in our neighborhood that are still occasionally used but were part of the original Interurban Train Line. The current Springwater Corridor Trail which is used by bikers and pedestrians sits on a former rail line running parallel to a current one.

Sellwood Walking Tour

Our lovely and incredibly knowledgeable tour guide who also writes for the local Sellwood Bee.

Sellwood Walking Tour

We walked past a building which served as a break room and place to hang out for rail workers.

Sellwood Walking Tour

A former boarding house.

Sellwood Walking Tour

There are many multi-family style houses left in the neighborhood which served as affordable housing during economic hard times. Not unlike ours.

Sellwood Walking Tour

Another former boarding house.

Sellwood Walking Tour

This house below and the house below it were built about fifteen years apart with the same plans. They sit in adjacent lots. I’m told we have a poet laureate living in one of them.

Sellwood Walking Tour

Sellwood Walking Tour

Mrs. Randall’s boarding house.

Sellwood Walking Tour

In the photo below, you can see this was a former transfer building. Below that you can see the original building now painted gray and purple.

Sellwood Walking Tour

Sellwood Walking Tour

The brick building which now houses The Bike Commuter formerly served as the City Hall building upstairs and the Sellwood Bank below.

Sellwood Walking Tour  

Sellwood Walking Tour

Sellwood Walking Tour

Here’s a building which will be torn down soon. The Black Cat Tavern’s last day is Saturday. The land has been sold. Supposedly, the building is not in salvageable shape. It will be rebuilt as condos above with retail space below.

Sellwood Walking Tour

The building below is now the SMILE station which is the Sellwood-Moreland Improvement League. It used to be the firehouse.

Sellwood Walking Tour

This building was a confectionery!

Sellwood Walking Tour

The Original Leipzig Tavern Building now houses Gino’s. It also served as a silent movie theatre.

Sellwood Walking Tour

This building sits behind Gino’s but was originally situated on the corner.

Sellwood Walking Tour

I’ve wondered about this building for some time. It’s nestled in the neighborhood, but there is no sign on the exterior. Our guide said it used to be a church but now is The Sellwood Playhouse. Just opened in fact!

Sellwood Walking Tour

This last photo is of Oaks Pioneer Church. It was moved in 1960 from Milwaukee, Oregon. It was the 1851 St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. They moved it on a barge and floated it on the Willamette River. It is deconsecrated and is now used for weddings, memorials and family reunions.

Sellwood Walking Tour

There’s so much more to Sellwood, and this is just a small sampling of my neighborhood!

I’d also appreciate if I missed any information, or if you know of any that I have incorrect, if you’d let me know in the comments! Thanks!

recipe: brandied cherries

brandied cherry recipe

I like whiskey and bourbon. I like to order an old fashioned.

I don’t always enjoying paying a bartender eight to ten dollars though.

Cherry season has come (and almost gone) here in the Pacific Northwest, so I thought I would try my hand at making my own cocktail cherries since we all know maraschino cherries are super gross.

brandied cherries

Brandied Cherries:

2 lbs of red cherries

4 cups of drinkable brandy 

2 cups of sugar

2-4 sticks of cinnamon

4 cloves

4 allspice berries

Rinse the cherries in a colander. Remove the stem and pit the cherries. Place the cherries in a jar.

In a saucepan, heat the remaining ingredients on medium low heat until the sugar has dissolved completely. Pour the liquid over the cherries. Let the mixture come to room temperature (or ice bath it) then stick it in the back of your fridge for six weeks. You could alternatively water bath can it, but I am too lazy for that at this point. Although I might have considered it if I had gone cherry picking.

In six weeks, you’ll have perfect cocktail cherries, but I’ve also put them in a homemade chocolate chili ice cream. 

old fashioned recipe

Old Fashioned:

1/2 -1 tsp of sugar

several dashes of Angostura Orange Bitters

1 tsp of club soda or water (optional)

1 brandied cherry

1 giant ice cube or sphere

1.5 ounces of Bulleit bourbon or whiskey

1 orange wedge or peel (optional)

Put the sugar, bitters, and water in a glass. Mix or muddle them together. I like to muddle in my cherry too at this point and it would be a fine place to throw in an orange peel or even lime for something crazy, but try it without muddling fruit for your first time so you know what it really tastes like. Add one big ice cube. This is important. It’s preferred to have one large ice cube, so there is less surface area to melt. The original teaspoon of liquid is going to get your flavors melded together, and now your ice cube will slowly melt and the extra liquid will open up the flavors of the Bulleit, but you don’t want lots of little ice cubes because they will just water down your drink. Lastly, pour the Bulleit over the top and enjoy!

old fashioned recipe




before and after: chair reupholstery

I’ve had the chair back in my possession for about a week and a half, but visitors in town!

Before for the reminder:


And the debut!:


I LOVE IT. It’s so much more chilled out now. More mellow.


I can’t believe the difference to be honest. This was worth it, and it felt really good to pay a local small business to do the work. They did an amazing job. If you’ve ever wondered what really goes into a professional job like this I’ve included the photos they sent me of the work below. One of the major differences in using a professional rather than doing it yourself is the quality of fabric. They have access to a million different types that also have been tested against wear and tear.

Thanks for the photos and the job well done Lake Grove Upholstery!

IMG_6195 _resize web 540 IMG_6196 _resize web 540 IMG_6197 _resize web 540 IMG_6198 _resize web 540 IMG_6199 _resize web 540 IMG_6200 _resize web 540 IMG_6201 _resize web 540 IMG_6202 _resize web 540 IMG_6203 _resize web 540 IMG_6204 _resize web 540 IMG_6205 _resize web 540 IMG_6206 _resize web 540 IMG_6207 _resize web 540 IMG_6208 _resize web 540 IMG_6209 _resize web 540 IMG_6210 _resize web 540 IMG_6211 _resize web 540 IMG_6212 _resize web 540 IMG_6213 _resize web 540 IMG_6214 _resize web 540 IMG_6215 _resize web 540 IMG_6216 _resize web 540 IMG_6217 _resize web 540 IMG_6218 _resize web 540 IMG_6219 _resize web 540 IMG_6220 _resize web 540 IMG_6221 _resize web 540

knitting: driftwood

So I FINALLY finished this sweater. I have been working on it since September of last year. Not that I knit that slowly, but I was also working on another lace weight sweater at the same time. And the holidays, and then packing, and moving, oh and a beaded shawl

striped driftwood

It’s a gorgeous pattern called Driftwood by a designer I admire named Isabell Kraemer. She has a blog here. I knit mine up with Rowan’s Creative Linen which is a 50/50 blend of cotton and linen that I purchased from Wildfiber in Los Angeles. It’s kind of my spring sweater, really comfy and casual. I originally sewed on some mother of pearl shell buttons, but decided with some turquoise plastic buttons so I could throw this thing in the washer and dryer.

So yay! It’s finally done!!!

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!



home sweet home

e -7357

I love my new neighborhood. We live in the Sellwood-Mooreland neighborhood of Portland. We’ve already met new neighbors, many of whom are extremely active in the Sherrett Square street mural project. The corner of Sherrett and 9th Avenue was the first corner to paint a mural in the intersection. When they first did it, it was illegal. They eventually brought what they did to the mayor, and paved the way for street mural projects all over Portland! It now has a formal process where city officials help neighborhoods through the steps.

e -7359

The four corners of our mural also have little pausing stations. There is a tea station with ceramic teacups, bags of tea, and a hot water dispenser. This station is checked and maintained daily.

Across the street is a children’s play area. An open air wooden “cottage” holds toys and benches.

Walk to the other corner, and you will find The Communication Station. This is a place for the Sellwood Bee newspaper as well as any neighborhood news.

e -7365

The last corner boasts a tiny book lending library although other fun items sometimes find their way here.

e -7367

We picked a part of town to live in that is extremely walkable. We have easy access to two grocery stores, a homesteading store, about five or six coffee shops, a tea house, many restaurants and more. People walk everywhere! There are a number of little surprises that make walking exciting too! I’ve seen a couple poetry stations, a seed sharing station, chickens, gardens, dogs, cats, oh and there is a river too!

e -7374

This is the art store. A store that sells art. Dibs on the judgemental seahorse. (This store is not to be confused with the art supply store just down the street.)

e -7376

This is where you buy rennet, sourdough starter, jars, and learn how to make candles.

e -7370

Did I mention the Puppet Museum. IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD. This is not on a main street. This is a small neighborhood street. It is in the building that housed the first Sellwood grocery store. It is so charming.





so you want to plant some seeds…

A lot of people have asked me lately, “Is it time to plant?” and “What should I plant right now?”

Here in Arizona, we are coming out of the dregs of summer. If you were dedicated, you may still have some plants in your garden that are thriving: peppers, chiles, eggplant, okra, and melons or squash. The rest of you have a bunch of dried up sticks. But never fear! It’s time to bust out the shovels and rakes once again! It’s time to plant all the things!

What do I plant?:

-leafy greens: including lettuce, kale, spinach, swiss chard, celery, mustard, bok choy, arugula, parsley, cilantro (all of these grow GREAT in pots too, so if you are one of those people with no actual “garden” then plant these (seeds are fine) and stick them in full sun.) You don’t need to cut the head either, you just pull the leaves off the plant and it keeps making more! Neverending salad! Also, swiss chard is an amazing one to have because not only is it a good looking plant, but you can eat the leaves in a salad or saute them with butter and garlic. I find the leaves to have a nice umami flavor-it’s a bit salty.

-broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower: And if you usually don’t like these, it’s probably because you’ve never had it fresh. These particular vegetables get really bitter when old. So give it a go.

-root vegetables: carrots (rainbow variety is fun!), parsnips, radishes, turnips, BEETS!!!!

-snowpeas and peas

-onions, leeks, garlic

How do I plant them?:

You need to ask yourself some questions:

-Where do I have FULL SUN? This means sun all of the day? None of this shady area of the yard nonsense or morning sun stuff-winter vegetables need ALL OF THE SUN.

-In this sunny area, will a garden bed fit or am I going with pots?

-How much money do I have? Starting from seeds is the cheapest way to go. But, you get the most production from plants starts. (Also, in order to get Brussel sprout production, you need to start with starter plants. Trust me, the season just isn’t long enough in Phoenix for the plant to develop sprouts. Garden beds can be as expensive and elaborate or as basic and cheap as you want. You will need to and compost and soil amendments to your soil. And a can of earthworms doesn’t hurt either. You can get your soil tested to be super scientific if you are into that, but I’m really lazy, so I would just dig up that part of the yard and add in as many bags of compost that you can afford.

-Drip system or hose watering?

Once you figure out what and where, it’s how:

Next, is the actual shoving seeds into the ground part. This sounds easy, but it actually takes a long time. It’s super fidgety. Go get yourself some wooden shims or stakes and a sharpie too so you can label all the things.

-Open your packets with scissors. (organic seeds are way awesomer, so buy them from a nursery or the internets) Tearing the packets open gets seeds caught in them.

-You pretty much follow the planting instructions on the packet. (But the general rule is the tinier the seed, the closest to the top of the soil it goes.) Almost every seed will sprout, but not always. You plant and bunch of seeds, you wait and wait until you think nothing is ever going to happen, then they all start coming up and you have to “thin” them. This means, you have to rip out a whole bunch of sprouts so as they grow into plants, they don’t crowd each other out. Expect this especially with carrots. Those stupid seeds are so tiny, and if you don’t accidentally spill half of them, you’ll lose your mind at another point and simply start sprinkling them down anyway.

-Water water water. Seeds in the ground=watering three to four times a day. You have to keep the soil moist until the seeds sprout and the roots develop. Once that happens (they look like little plants, then you can back off on the watering.

From here, it’s a matter of thinning and weeding. Any questions?