Tuesday, December 29, 2009

It's Snowing!

Scenes from the back deck after
the Big Snow of 2008!  Below, looking out the window of my favorite room
Last year we had 3 feet of snow at Christmas and couldn't leave the house for days!  This year, I didn't want a repeat with memories of instant Fondue and fruit for Christmas dinner still fresh in my mind. When we finally did get to the grocery store, all the produce, meat and dairy sections were cleaned out!  Not to mention that church services were cancelled, work was missed and presents weren't delivered.  Still, when we had brilliant blue skies on this Christmas Day, I was reminded of my California childhood when I longed for real seasons, instead of the 70 degrees that we uually had during holiday time.

Today, I found myself running errands across town when the snowflakes stared falling.  Just an hour earlier the weatherman said to ignore the snow since it would quickly change to rain.  Fat Chance!  Those of us who have lived to the Pacific Northwest for a while know that the weather up here can turn on a dime. Luckily, I dashed home and soon those flurries turned into 4 inches of snow.  Rush hour traffic was tied up for hours. Still, if you are home, it's hard to beat the beauty and quiet of a snowday.  Everything slows down, and it's not a bad thing that you have to too!

A view across the creek.
Couldn't resist a shot from outside into our familyroom.  It still feels like Christmas.

Happy New Year Everyone!  I'm definitely looking forward to a new year and a new decade.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Happy Birthday

Happy 20th Birthday to our wonderful daughter, Katie, shown here on her
first birthday!  This was taken downtown last year, when it snowed so hard, she had to spend the day with your parents!  Aww...we had a great time!

Yum, Creme Brulee, and a beautiful birthday girl

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Seasonal Moments

Well, it's time to round up the Snow People!  They will eventually end up on the mantle, but I snapped this photo as I was unpacking them.  I like putting up the Snow People since they can stay up through February after all the Christmas decorations have been put away.  After Christmas and New Year, everything looks so bare and spring still looms long on the horizon before the bulbs pop up.  In winter, you have to find visual cheerfulness wherever you can!
The temperature has been between between 14 and 20 degrees in Portland all week.  We've crammed so many activities into one week, since my Mom is having hip surgery next Thursday and will have a long recovery.  It will be a bit of a juggling act over the holidays with kids coming into town, and Rick and Bryan heading to Pasadina for the big Rose Bowl Game between the U of O Ducks and the Ohio State Buckeyes. But, we did catch a fun performance of the Portland Christmas Revels, a couple of great parties, and more music events.

I also came across some of the Christmas books that I used to read to the kids when they were little.  So many favorites, but the ones that stand out are: The Polar Express, The Mitten, and the timeless, Night Before Christmas.  Our sweet Kannie Cat (named by Aunt Barb), likes to be wherever I am-she was named for the Neahkahnie Beach, on the Oregon Coast.  She was a stray and living off the land in our beach home's yard before we could catch her and bring her to her new home about 6 years ago.  She now lives a life of steady meals and comfy chairs.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Memories

It always seems like once fall is here, all the holidays come and go in quick succession!  Thanksgiving was fun, but a blur!  The kids were home with friends and significant others.  Our dear friends Mark, Barb and son, Tanner, joined us for the day.  Their daughter in in Africa on a Fulbright Scholarship, so it was time for them to have a new tradition for this year.  We had a turkey on the BBQ, and one in the oven...so far, so good, until, the oven decided to die!  It was a mad dash to put the pre-made stuffing, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes in the microwave to re-heat.

Our lovely KTB with her Godparents, Uncle  Mark and Aunty Barb.  I always love to serve buffet style from the counter.  I spent too many years feeling like a Traffic Cop, passing right and left throughout the whole meal!  This way, everyone serves themselves and we're done with it.

The best thing that we did this year was to share Thanksgiving stories between dinner and dessert.  We sat at the table and each person shared a memory of their favorite Thanksgiving.  It was interesting to hear the stories and to hear what mattered to each person... for me it's all about the stories and the memories!

My Mom has always been a stickler for a pretty table so naturally I fell into the tradition too.  When the kids arrived home on Wednesday, they found the tablecloth in the freezer where I'd put it so it would be easier to iron.  We made an "executive decision" to forego the tablecloth and just use placemats.  Dear son said he never remembers how a table is set, but remembers the food and conversation.. Ok, that did it!

I gave up trying to arrange everyone in the dining room.  The kitchen/family room is best--we can fit up to twelve for sure!

The water pitcher always reminds me to pour water when things get hectic!

Mom's china resides in my dining room cabinet since she doesn't host big dinners anymore.  She enjoys it when I use her lovely plates for a holiday meal.

Of course, Thanksgiving wouldn't be the same without my Dad's turkey candleholders.  It's a rule in the family that whoever hosts dinner, gets the turkeys!  Hard to believe that my wonderful Dad has been gone ten years!  He loved Thanksgiving!  We think of him every time we bring these birds out!

Here's hoping you and yours had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner as well and are enjoying the blessings of the season!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Going Vintage

Theses days I'm feeling a little like Santa's Helper working downstairs, making jewelry and thinking about what's IN and what's not. My daughter, KTB the fashionista, always reminds me to follow fashion trends but that isn't always easy to do especially when they change so quickly.   Last season, it seemed that chunky, colorful beads were in.  The Bold and Beautiful look was strong.  Now, however, it's all about Vintage Style.  Delicate necklaces are all the rage:

Especially seasonal necklaces...love the snowflakes...no two are alike!

Snowflakes can be worn late into winter and will be especially popular with the Vancouver Winter Olympics coming up in Feburary 2010.

Flowers, leaves and birds, and bird's nests continue to be hugely popular.

Filigree is also huge, lots of it faux painted and sealed.

Rick says that I aways fill the space available with my business ventures (which usually means the whole house), but it's been hard to stay put in my office where's it's dark and cramped.  So... I moved my beading operation to the familyroom where I have better light, and the company of my little buddies keeping an eye on things.  Meet the ever adorable


and Molly!

And these beautiful views!  Even in late autumn, it's so pretty and peaceful.

Stay tuned for more hot jewelry looks in future posts!  As for me, I'm off to clear off the pool table before the college kids arrive home for Thanksgiving!  Maybe they will be enticed to stay home more!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Chinese Gardens

Last month we took a couple of days of 'Staycation' and decided to explore some Cheap Dates in Portland.  Katie had the day off from school, so we invited her to join us.  I remember hearing all the buzz about the Chinese Gardens opening downtown, but couldn't believe that it had been nine years ago, and we still hadn't paid a visit so it was high time! 

In keeping with an Oriental theme, we checked out some downtown restaurants where we could grab a quick lunch before heading to the garden.  I went to the Internet and found Chef Naoko-natural and organic cuisine, at 1237 SW Jefferson St.  We decided to give it a try.  Don't let the innocent building or its small size fool you.  Once inside, you will be warmly welcomed and will find lots of attention to detail.  Aside from their regular menu, there is a Weekly News sheet full of interesting food tidbits, Japanese historical facts, and a hint of what's coming soon for the restaurant.
The food was fresh and delicious and came in a cute Bento box.

Rick and Katie had the Teriyaki Chicken

And I had a grilled natural chicken in a tomato sauce, with lovely spices, and a interesting bread pudding like 'thing.'  It was a great place, with fresh, organic ingredients, and everything prepared to order.

The Chinese Gardens are really amazing- truly an oasis within the city. Hard to believe they fit everything in one city block!  We just had time for a short visit, but it's worth planning to stay for tea, and to try going back for each season to see all the varieties of plants and trees in bloom.

I loved all the tiled roofs

They say that there's 52 windows/openings in the gardens and that no two are alike. The many points of interest were full of symbolism and stories, so it was nice to have the written guidebook to point things out.

I love the clash of culture and the mix of the old and new.

Not to mention all the beautiful details.  Everything is very authentic, since workers and materials actually came from China during the construction of the garden. 

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Game Day

I've never been much of a football fan until I became a Oregon Duck by marriage.  Truth be known, I'm probably in it more for catching up with friends and the tailgates, but my DH is a die-hard fan, reading the blogs each night, and being a season ticket holder.  I actually get up each Saturday morning and watch ESPN's Game Day with him so when we heard the show was coming to Eugene for the Game of the Decade with USC, we just had to make the two hour trek south.  We drove down with our friends (like family), Mark and Barb at 4 AM! Oh yeah, did mention it was rainy, dark and cold?  It was us and the long haulers at that hour, and as we approached  Autzen Stadium, it stood out like a lit up space ship.

Imagine the excitement with thousands of wild and crazy fans, many holding signs and cheering wildly, as Chip Kelly, the team coach, rode in on a motorcycle just like the Duck Mascot does as the team charges into the Stadium before the games.

We walked around the beautiful 150 year old campus, and arrived back at Autzen close to game time.  It was Halloween and Tailgates were in full swing, with plenty of costumed revelers. I had stop and snap a picture of this Michael Jackson and Thriller re-enactment.

Of course, anyone who knows Barb, knows that she loves an excuse to dress up as her alter-ego, Velma-here at the EconoLodge!

Once the game started, there was a feeling that momentum was on our side, and the Ducks beat USC 47-20!  There's supposed to be a five-minute rule before fans can go onto the field after the game is over, but that went out the window as crowds swarmed the field.  The top dog in the Pac-10 was displaced!!  I've never seen anything like it, and we just stood and watched in awe.

Here's the four of us-only the brave dressed up for Halloween!

ESPN Game Day sets up for the post-game show, with Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit.

Like ants, the crowd moved over to see the post game ESPN Show.  There's lots of excitement around Oregon these days...will the Ducks make it to the Rose Bowl or (gasp!), the BCS Championship?  Pretty exciting time to consider the possibilities!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Yummy Fix It and Forget It Turkey Vegetable Soup

Happy Halloween. My treat for you is this great 'fix it' and 'forget it' soup. It's perfect to make ahead on Halloween Day, and then sit back and enjoy the goblins in the evening. When my kids were little, it was always so stressful to try and think about dinner at the same time that I was trying to get them into costumes and hand out treats at the same time!
We're a big soup family. In fact, our daughter asked for a soup pot and some soup recipes for Christmas so she could carry on the tradition. Here's my latest turkey and vegatable soup (with a twist-it's all in the peppers!).  This soup would also be great for some of that extra turkey after Thankgiving.  Enjoy!

1 onion
2 cups cooked turkey breast
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
1 Anaheim pepper
3 carrots
4 cloves of garlic
2 zucchini
satue above in olive oil until al dente'
1 box Chicken Broth
2 cups tomato juice
2 cups water
(1 can garbanzo or black beans, opional)
1 cup frozen or fresh corn
2 tablespoons dill
pinch of red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons of chopped basil
salt and pepper
You could throw in a handful of pasta, but you don't really need it.
Simmer in a large pot, and serve with a tablespoon of Romano Cheese, and a piece of crusty Rye French Bread and enjoy!

Scenes from the mantle

I love the look of potato plants this time of year!

This is a scene from a local pumpkin farm.  They always decorate this wagon with a different seasonal theme

A view to savor

Happy Halloween Everyone!