Date Night

David and I went on our first “date” since Chloe was born last night. I thought it was going to be weird, going somewhere without the baby.  Instead it felt fine, especially knowing that Chloe was having fun, safe at home with Grandma Sandy. We had dinner at Lovely Hula Hands and then went for dessert at Papa Haydn.

Getting dessert at Papa Haydn is one of my very favorite things to do in Portland. They have an entire menu of only desserts, and it is always so hard to narrow it down to one. I finally decided on the Autumn Meringue (swiss meringues layered with chocolate mousse and pot de creme, wrapped in ribbons of chocolate) and David chose the Boccone Dolce, which was basically the white version of mine (swiss meringues drizzled with semi-sweet chocolate, layered with fresh fruit and chantilly cream) and we didn’t even consult each other. Paired with two Illy lattes, it was a little slice of heaven.


4th Anniversary

Us, four years ago today

Today marks our 4 year anniversary. David and I celebrated with a lovely 3-course dinner at Urban Fondue downtown, after he got off work. It felt like ages since we shared a nice dinner out together, and I was glad I had made the extra effort to dress up. He also surprised me with some delicious morsels from local Sahagun Chocolates and plans to order a gift certificate for prenatal massage, which I will certainly welcome. A lot of things have happened this past year, with even more to come, including a getaway this weekend for the two of us. I’ll try and remember to bring my camera this time. 🙂


Maternity Shopping 101

The morning after we shared our Big News with David’s family, Sandy (David’s mom) took me for my first foray into the world of maternity clothes. I had just reached my first trimester, and because I was still under my pre-pregnancy weight, I could still fit a couple of my largest pants with a rubber band through the button loop. However, even I agreed that it might be time to see what was out there.

The shop we ended up in was called Motherhood Maternity. It wasn’t a big place, but it had the kind of packed in feel that usually overwhelms me when shopping. I remember initially feeling lost without David there to help me “see” through the compact racks of clothes (I rarely shop without him). I shouldn’t have worried though, because Sandy stepped right in. She claimed us a dressing room and immediately began to sort through the possibilities.

In many ways, I’m not very fun to shop with because I tend to wear simple basics, and mostly stay away from prints or too much color. Sandy was great though. She didn’t get offended on the pieces I declined, yet continued to find me nice items I would have missed, like a good-looking pair of khaki twill pants, and a feminine printed top that I normally wouldn’t have tried, but ended up loving.

Each dressing room contained a cushion attached to a velcro strap that you could fasten around your waist to show what you’d look like 3 months down the road. Whoa! Seeing that pillow stuffed into my waistband really put things into perspective. My little pooch is downright petite compared to where I’ll be at the end of summer, and I’ll be getting even bigger throughout the fall. Knowing this helped me to decide that maybe the “secret fit belly” waist panel was not such a bad idea (even though I originally thought they looked weird). Turns out comfort and fit really does makes all the difference.

By the end I was pretty tired, but was rewarded with two simple tees, two nice looking and comfortable pants, and the printed tank top. All mix-and-matchable, nice enough to wear out, but comfortable enough to wear in. I am surprised to find how happy I am with each item. Thank you Sandy, for making it such a good experience!


The Big Surprise + The Big News

Just a hint at the personalized service provided by The Capital Grille

Last Thursday we flew to Denver to surprise David’s mom for her 60th birthday. As far as Sandy knew, she was simply going to meet Alan after work for a very nice dinner at a restaurant called The Capital Grille. What she didn’t know was that Andrew and Aundrea (her youngest son and his fiancée, who live in Denver) and David and I were going to “crash” their little dinner party about 15 minutes after they arrived.

The restaurant did a magnificent job of playing along. The host apologized and said that their table for two wasn’t ready, and would they mind just waiting a bit at the bar? Not too long afterward, the four of us arrived and were ushered quickly into a cozy and elegant private room where we waited for Sandy and Alan to be alerted that their table was finally ready. SURPRISE! The host opened the door and there we were. Sandy was floored, practically glued to the doorway in stunned surprise. It was priceless. Utter disbelief mingled with tears of joy. So gratifying for all of us. I wish I had taken pictures, but at the same time I was really glad I could just enjoy the moment.

Eventually we all settled down long enough to place our orders and enjoy our delicious food – crispy pan-fried calamari, fresh basil mozzerella and mango salad, porcini rubbed Delmonico dry aged steak, lobster, grilled pork chop, lobster mac & cheese, creamy potatoes au gratin, fresh asparagus with hollandaise, heirloom tomatoes… I was lucky enough to try at least a bite of almost everything, and my taste buds were singing.

Right before dessert (crème brûlée and a taste of coconut cream pie), we shared our Big News. David handed his mom her “birthday” gift from us, a little photo album. We left it practically empty, except for the first page where we included a scan of our early ultrasound. I think it took about a heartbeat to register before she looked up, wide-eyed, at both of us for confirmation. Is it true? Yep. We’re pregnant!


Making Totes

David and I have been making totes lately. That’s right, David is sewing now, too! We were at New Seasons and saw a batch of simple, unlined totes for sale made from Ikea fabric and David asked me to teach him how to make them.

For his first two totes, he decided to recycle an old Pottery Barn curtain panel from our fabric stash. I walked him through cutting for size and inseam, and a few other basics like threading the bobbin, back-stitching, squaring the bottom and making french seams to keep the inside neat-looking and strong. Actually, David kind of knew how to sew long before me, because I remember him making large curtains for one of our first apartments back in the mid 1990s. However, this was a machine he hadn’t used before. He was a fast learner, and doesn’t get hung up and fussy about details like I do.

After making the bags, he then screen-printed one with an image of a bird. Didn’t it turn out great? I’m so proud!

And not to be completely outdone by my talented husband, here is a tote that I finished as well. I kind of made it up as I went along, which was not a good thing, in this case, because I think I would have made a couple different choices had I thought it through from the beginning. The outside is Ikea fabric (from the frederika collection) and the inside is Essex white linen cotton blend from Sew Mama Sew.


Handmade Valentine Cards (a personal swap)

This year for Valentine’s Day I asked David for just one thing, a handmade (by him) Valentine’s card. No chocolates, or flowers, or store-bought card. Just a little of his personal time and effort. And I promised not to judge him. That whatever he chose to make would be just fine. I really meant that. And in return, I would make him a handmade card, too.

Look at this beauty. I would never have expected this in a million years. It looks like a rolled up piece of paper in the photo, but it is actually a little cylindrical box made of heavy paper, secured by a red thread around two eyelets. About 4 inches across.

This is what it looks like inside – surprise! Filled with little strips of pink paper, each with a word on one side and the matching design from the container on the other. Words like love, forever, we, you, mine, desire, romantic, emily, david, always. I could re-arrange the little strips into many different combinations. Pretty and clever. I’m clearly blown away.

This is the card that I made for David. He really loves to flyfish. On our drive back from the coast on my birthday, we stopped at a tiny scrapbooking shop in the seaside town of Gearhart, where I picked up my first collection of brads. That’s right. Before making this card I was a Brad Virgin. I don’t know why I waited – they’re so fun! Such a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. I purchased these little fish, the dragonfly, and the heart paperclips, chosen individually out of tiny drawers. They worked perfectly for this card. The writing on top says “Fishin’ for your love.” The little fish hooks are made of staples I bent with needle-nosed pliers. The inside reads “…and now I’m hooked on you! Happy Valentine’s Day!” embellished with two red heart eyelets.

I’m so proud of us.


If that's what motivates you

A couple days ago David announced during breakfast that he was “scheduling a meeting” at 11 o’clock for us to take care of some lingering tax documents and business paperwork. As I’ve mentioned before, these are things we procrastinate on every year. I reluctantly agreed, and then (typically) put it out of my mind. I was in the backyard when David stepped outside onto the deck at 11:05am to tell me that the meeting has already started and would I please join him? And get this… he was completely showered, shaved and fully dressed in his best suit and tie! A dramatic difference from our daily uniform of jeans and tee shirts. To see him make such an effort (for humor? or motivation?) really cracked me up. But, I did follow him into the office and we proceeded to take care of every related task on our list.


Weekend Retreat, Crescent Lake

A view of the cabin from the back, almost buried in the snow.

This past Friday Alex called about the four of us and the dogs spending the 3-day weekend away somewhere. We agreed it would be fun to go somewhere new, but not spend all day in the car. We settled on the Waldo/Crescent/Odell lake area east of Eugene, about a 3.5 hour drive southeast of Portland. A place where we’d find lots of snow for snowshoeing. Not surprisingly, most of the lodges and cabins in the area were already booked. Luckily Alex found a private home listed on craigslist that was still available. So that’s where we went.

The home was a charming A-frame cabin on a secluded 3.5 acre lot, not far from the national forest. Although poorly furnished (with not a shred of toilet paper to be found), it was comfortable and cheerily warmed with a sturdy wood stove. Actually, the place had loads of potential, and I couldn’t help wondering why the owners didn’t put any effort into making it a little better. A set of decent hooks for hanging wet coats or towels and a matching set of dining chairs could have made a big difference (but I’m just picky). When we arrived there wasn’t a track to be found, and in some spots the dogs would sink in up to their bodies. Part of the fun was just watching them bound in and out of the drifts.

Crescent Creek, right in the backyard.

A little snowshoeing adventure along the creek. We made those tracks ourselves.

Barkley taking a much needed break from all the excitement.

Overall, it was so nice to get away. And I’m again reminded how lucky we are to have such good friends. With Marcy and Alex’s baby boy on the way (see this pic), it likely won’t be so easy to just pick up and go, as we’ve done in the past. But it will be interesting, too, to see what kind of new adventures will come into play, and all that the future will bring.

A brief stop at Odell Lake, on our way back to Portland.

More pics from this weekend can be found here on my flickr page.

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Wedding Reception "Shoe Game"

bride and groom shoes

One of the most entertaining games I have ever seen at a reception is the “Shoe Game” or “Marriage Test” which I witnessed here for the first time. It’s easy, fun, and the only props needed are already being worn by the bride and groom—their shoes.

After removing their shoes, the bride and groom either sit or stand, back to back, each holding their partner’s shoe in one hand and their own shoe in another. Someone (preferably with a strong clear voice to be overheard by the crowd) acts as the speaker, and asks about 20-25 prepared questions. For example, the speaker might ask the couple “In your relationship, which one of you made the first move?” Then the couple would answer by holding up either the bride or the groom’s shoe, depending on who they thought made the first move.

Other typical questions might be “Who is the better cook?” “Which one of you is more frugal?” “Who is the better driver?” “Who is more romantic?” It’s a lot of fun for the audience to see when the couple agrees and when they don’t. Even better is to mix in a bunch of personalized questions, in our friends’ case, since an Ikea recently opened in our town, one question was “Who is the first to want to go to Ikea?” and so on.

Here is a good link to another blog that includes a video example, and here is a version seen on youtube.


A Lake Creek Lodge Reception

What a lovely weekend. My in-laws flew into town and we drove the 2.5 hours to Lake Creek Lodge, where our friends Alex and Marcy were holding their wedding reception. Lake Creek Lodge is completely charming, surrounded by its various unique rental cabins. Best of all, they allow dogs, so Barkley, Mia, Suki and Booker all had a marvelous time playing together.

There were many things that made this a wonderful weekend, even beyond the fact that we were here to celebrate the marriage of two such dear friends. Everything just seemed to come together… the friends and family, the elegant and woodsy decor, the music, the games, the food and drink, the cakes… and all this despite the inevitable bumps that come along with every reception.

A few things that I found particularly memorable – the beauty of the Metolius River and Lake Creek, the multiple meals taken together with incredible friends, the bounding happiness of all the dogs, the newlyweds looking gorgeous and dashing in their elegant attire, the heartfelt speeches, the 5 individual cakes, the impromptu after-dinner salsa lesson, and the bride & groom “shoe question” game (read about it here).

Photos from the weekend:

The bridge connecting our cabins to the main lodge

The dogs during a moment of obedience with Jerry

A rare view of sunlight through the trees

An evening shot of Kevin & Jerry’s Cabin, #5, where we all congregated and
enjoyed the delicious food so generously provided.

The remarkably clear water of the Metolius River

Photos from the Reception:

A table awaiting the guests. The reception colors were burnt orange
and brown as depicted by the runner, the matching roses and pine cones.

The happy couple…

Flower seed favors in reusable magnetic tins

One of the 5 cakes, each with a different flavor and white-on-white design


"Stranger than Fiction" Movie + Infographics

It is very unusual for David and I to find a movie that we both enjoy, but we recently netflixed Stranger than Fiction, which falls into that rare category. It is a comedy/drama about a lonely IRS agent (Will Ferrell) who starts to hear a voice narrating in his head. Turns out the voice belongs to eccentric novelist Karen Eiffel (played by Emma Thompson) who is on the verge of killing him off, not realizing her main character is real. Other supporting roles are played by the ever charming Maggie Gyllenhaal (the love interest), Dustin Hoffman (a professor who Harold goes to for advice), and Queen Latifah (who plays Karen’s writing assistant). The film’s unique storyline is artistic, dramatic, funny, poignant, revealing and classic.

Picture clipping of two frames out of the animated opening credits sequence (see video, below)

Picture clippings during the introduction of the main character (see video, below)

Beyond the story, however, is a very well done method of info graphics that was pretty intriguing. I don’t know why, but there is no hint of it in the trailer, so it came as a surprise while we were watching. David did a little online research and found the info graphics were done by MK12. Their site is definitely worth checking out because they’ve done some wildly cool design and animation. David also came across the blog infosthetics.com, who also posts about this subject.

I suggest watching the trailer before watching the opening sequence below, just so there is a better understanding of the film.

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Day 3 – San Josef Bay: Seastacks, Bears, Vows & Other Oddities

San Josef Bay

The darkening clouds above a seastack, San Josef Bay

On Day 3 of our trip we decided to drive to Cape Scott Provincial Park, on the very northwestern end of the island. Not too far from Port Hardy, the road turns into the bumpiest, pot-holed, gravelly unpaved road which takes about an hour and a half to cross. Luckily, unpaved roads are Alex’s thing and he didn’t seem to mind. As a matter of fact, I think he was eager to see what his recently purchased (but used) Toyota 4 Runner could do.

Be prepared for the unexpected

A sign presumably warning about the logging in the area

black bear

A Black Bear up close

shoe tree, vancouver island

Marcy taking a photo of the “shoe tree”

On the way we were lucky to see a bear on the side of the road (the first of four we’d see that day, but the only one I was able to photograph). I think someone told me that bears out number people on that part of the island. He (or she) was so cool, just grazing along the side of the road, as calm as you please, despite a vehicle with excited passengers watching its every move. We also passed several lovely lakes and a couple other oddities, like the “shoe tree” where tons of shoes cover what was once a very tall tree, and Ronning’s Garden, where we would stop on the way back.

Crossing a bridge on the trail to San Josef Bay

San Josef Bay

River reflection of the perpetually cloudy sky

San Josef Bay

David admiring the large ferns growing on the bottom of an enormous fallen tree

This day was as rainy and grey as all of the other days so far, maybe even more so, but we were pretty undaunted. We parked at the trail head and hiked the easy 2.5km trail to the bay, passing some enormous trees, ferns and other rainforest/woodland features.

San Josef Bay

The large sandy beach at San Josef Bay

San Josef Bay Seastacks

The unique and mysterious looking seastacks

San Josef Bay

The green plants growing on the beach

San Josef Bay

The caves at the north end of the beach

Me photographing Marcy photographing Alex

One of the neatest things about San Josef Bay are the gorgeous and somewhat mysterious rock pillars, cliffs and caves at the north end. At low tide you can walk across a sand bridge to the second beach, and to a coupld of other outcroppings, which we would explore later. Today we just took tons of pictures of the seastack, enjoyed the huge stretch of sand and admired this remarkable natural area shared by only a few other people.

false chanterelle mushrooms

One of the many picturesque mushrooms flourishing in the forest

Ronning's Garden

The sign for Ronning’s Garden at the parking area

Ronning's Garden

The cultivation of little monkey trees

On our way back later in the day, we stopped and hiked the half mile to Ronning’s Garden, with its unusual trees, shrubs and flowers. Being early fall, there wasn’t too much in bloom, but it still a pleasant surprise to come upon so much cultivated beauty seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Luckily there was an informational sign and pamphlets so we could give ourselves a self-guided tour (and someone even thoughtfully provided deet-free insect repellant). A pamphlet mentioned that one of the crowning glories of the garden were a matched pair of huge male and female monkey trees. However, one must have been damaged and removed because there was only a single tree left. Alex and Marcy have a monkey tree in their front yard, which I think they had been debating about whether to keep (monkey tree branches are covered in very sharp thorny leaves). I think seeing the one here gave them greater appreciation for their own.

Port Hardy, Vancouver Island

An evening shot from the Port Hardy wharf #1

Port Hardy, Vancouver Island

An evening shot from the Port Hardy wharf #2

We returned pretty late and stopped into Port Hardy to buy steaks and asparagus to grill for dinner. Being an island, there is just so much beautiful water everywhere. David and I walked out onto the wharf and admired the evening colors before returning to the cabin. Alex decided that this was the night he wanted to surprise Marcy with some specialty items we had packed secretly for just this purpose, including string lights, many candles and champagne. Once dinner was grilling and Marcy was in the shower the three of us scrambled to clean up, set out the dinner table, and hang lights all around. It worked out pretty well and she was definitely surprised. That night, after dinner, they exchanged their thoughtful and beautifully written private vows. It was quite a night. For them, September 3rd is going to be the day they will celebrate as their “true” wedding anniversary for the rest of their lives.


It's Official – A Courthouse Ceremony

Our friends Alex and Marcy got married at the courthouse yesterday with David and I as witnesses. The bride wore a lovely chocolate satin dress and the groom was dashing in a suit and tie. After the ceremony (which hardly took 5 minutes) we went back to their house for more photos and then to dinner at The Farm, where Alex had originally given Marcy her engagement ring. It’s a charming restaurant housed in a restored Victorian, and features fresh, seasonal and local foods. Afterwards it was karaoke at Galaxy!

Here are a few photos from the event:


The Wedding Dress

wedding dress

Marcy tried on my wedding dress tonight. She and Alex have decided on a private courthouse wedding and have recently scheduled a reception for September. They came over to dinner tonight so that we could talk details, since I have the honor of designing the invitations.

I think we were discussing what she was going to wear to the reception when David suggested she consider wearing the dress I wore at my wedding. He went to the closet and pulled it out, stored in its original garment bag and shoved to the back, behind our dusty winter coats. Even though I had looked at our wedding photos just yesterday, I had forgotten how beautiful it was in person. How the rich silk drapes so elegantly, and the subtle shimmering of the burnout satin on the delicate floating chiffon. With it’s plunging back and cowl neckline, it is by no means traditional. It’s elegance is understated, calm yet unmistakable. I admit, that for a moment, I hesitated. A wedding dress is pretty personal. A small fortune in materials and memories, all bound together with threads of hopes and happiness.

Mine has not been a family to pass down heirlooms. I have no idea what any member of my family wore when they got married. There are no photos, and almost no one to ask. I do know that my mom, and probably my grandmother, did not wear a wedding dress. Sadly, both of those marriages ended in divorce.

Besides the memories, I’ve been holding on to that dress with the secret hope that, if I ever have a daughter some day, she might consider wearing it. Perhaps in the future it could be altered to suit her style, though the current design is timeless. Or maybe it could be used on another important occasion, like prom perhaps.

Eventually Marcy was convinced to try it on, complete with matching shoes for effect. It was astonishing. She looked amazing! It showed off her slender height and lightly tanned skin to perfection. It magically seemed to fit her, even though we’re built differently. It was one of those moments when you can’t help but be struck by the rightness of the situation. Marcy looks great in that dress. Wouldn’t it be cool if she wore it for her reception?

In the end, Marcy was sweet to say that I should think about it for a few days and that if I changed my mind there would be no hard feelings. Naturally, she mentioned being nervous about the prospect of spills or stains, and that is a possibility. I am willing to take that chance and hope that she is too. What good is an expensive dress that is never worn? Especially one that’s available and so obviously perfect for her? How many brides have worn a wedding dress once, only to push it to the back of their closet, forgotten amidst their unused winter coats? Beautiful dresses are made to be worn! They are a celebration of life. I realize now that I would be honored if Marcy decides to wear it. Maybe someday there will be others, but for now, I am happy that it is something that I have to offer a good friend, even if it took my husband to make me realize it. And hopefully, very soon, we’ll all have the pleasure of seeing it shimmer once again.


3 Years Ago Today

Every year on our anniversary, I spend just a little time looking at our wedding photos. What a day! Time just flew. And did I mention it was a record 103 degrees?

David and I before the wedding

Three varieties of rose bouquets

My Dad and I before walking down the isle

We’re married!

A simple and delicious almond poppyseed cake with
raspberry filling and cream cheese frosting

The outdoor dance floor, ready for after dinner dancing

Chinese lanterns in our wedding colors of red and white

All photos above taken at the Jenkins Estate by Soren at Coughlin-Glaser Photography.

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Such Good Times

Dear Alan & Sandy,

It was so great having you here for the past few days. I’m glad that we could share with you a little part of our lives here in Portland – from berry picking, to Mt. St. Helen’s, to exploring the markets, to dinner and games with friends – all such good times.

You both are truly an inspiration to us. We are so grateful for your unfailing support and generosity,  your insightful wisdom and your unconditional love. And thank you so much for being the best in-laws anyone could ever ask for.

With all my heart,

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Is there such thing as too many blueberries?


I know, we’re going a little blueberry crazy over here. But, I mean, BLUEBERRIES! How can anyone not love those plump, sweet blue-black pearls of utter sweet (and healthy) goodness?

David, deftly picking only the most succulent berries

Sandy, with her colander of  treasures

Yes, we went blueberry patch again, especially because we had free labor visiting from Colorado (read: In-laws 🙂 ). In just a short time we collected 10lbs of fruit, enough to gorge ourselves and have plenty leftover to freeze for later  (lay a single layer on a baking sheet until they freeze. Then transfer the frozen blueberries into gallon size ziploc freezer bags). I’m so glad its summer.


Pay It Forward Craft Exchange – Handmade for you!

I was reading pricklypearbloom’s post about something called the Pay It Forward Craft Exchange. This paragraph sums it up:

I will send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment on my blog requesting to join this PIF exchange. I don’t know what that gift will be yet and you may not receive it tomorrow or next week… LOL… but you will receive it within 365 days, that is my promise! The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog.

So basically, if you comment, I’ll send you something crafty that I’ll make. Once you sign up, copy and paste the above paragraph on your blog, and three other lucky people will be recipients of your handmade work. And thus the cycle continues. I just signed up at woolliemind, marleymor and esmereldaknits. How fun is that?


Thank You All!

Everyday more and more visitors find their way onto my little site. Yesterday my blog stats reached over a 100 views! That might seem like a pittance to other bloggers, but I never expected more than a few family and friends to be interested. I feel so honored and humbled that readers are stopping by. Thank you all so much!

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