Sunday, August 29, 2010

West Africa to a Western Hoedown

Summer parties are the best!  It's always a fun experience to celebrate the different twists and turns of life with friends and family. This party celebrated a very special young friend's much anticipated return from Africa, where she had been living as a Fulbright scholar for several months.  Emi had to endure lots of challenges in the past year as she did her research on malaria-illness, bugs, heat, lack of technology, a strike at the college where she was to do her research-to name just a few. Obviously, her life was enriched by the people she met as well, but it was a relief to her family and friends to have her home safe and sound.     
Emi brought back some treasures from Benin, where she lived in the city and at nearby village.
Emi and her Mom, put together an African feast, see below:
They had Enjara, a bread served with a spicy chicken stew, goat kabobs, plantains, plus, lots of other dishes that I don't know the names of.
Lovely Emi, with her interesting hairdo, which took 11 hours and cost about $6.  We're so pround of you Emi!
After leaving the African party, we headed across town for a Hoedown, hosted by one of the choir members from church.  The owner of the house in an architect, and had converted a rundown Portland bungalow into marvel.  It reminded me of a classic LA house from the 30's with Spanish influences and subtle elegance.  It was a beautiful summer night and we sat outside eating quintessentially American fare, hamburgers and hot dogs, and salads, while the brave among us square danced to live music.
The end of a lovely summer day filled with rich memories and cultural diversity.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Summer Concerts in the Park

One of my favorite things to do in summer is to pack a picnic and head to a free concert in our local park. They have become so popular that we usually get there an hour early and nab our favorite spot on a grassy berm-from that vantage point, you can hear the music and still have a conversation with the person next to you. It's a lovely way to spend a warm summer's evening, especially this year when it rained past July 4th in the Pacific NW, and we're all savoring every moment of warm weather. It's such a community thing to do, pack picnics, children, and dogs, and get out and enjoy the outdoors. What a better way to make lasting memories.
Of course, in addition to the music, fellowship and memories, it's also about the food!  Here's an adapted recipe for Pasta Salad that is easy to make and delicious:
One package of cooked and cooled Penne noodles
1 finely sliced yellow squash
3/4 fresh red pepper sliced
1/2 c. Kalamata olives
1/2 c. artichoke hearts diced
1 c. cubed pre-cooked chicken  ( I used the Trader Joe's Just Chicken Teriyaki)
Just before serving add 1/2 c. of Feta Cheese
2 c. fresh spinach
Toss with:
3/4's cup of olive oil
the juice of 1/2 squeezed lemon
1/3 c Rice vinegar
1 tsp. dill
salt and pepper to taste
Add some fresh fruit, some bread with cheese, and you have a lovely feast!
The group Aquiles Montas Latin Orquestra, had a great Puerto Rican sound, and soon had the crowd on their feet dancing to the music!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Wordless Wednesday-Floral Wonder

These Summer Beauties speak for themselves:

Saturday, August 14, 2010

2nd Annual Muttzanita Festival in Manzanita

This could be subtitled: The Doggie Social Event of the Year! Dogs and owners from all over Oregon descended on our little town of Manzanita, on the Oregon Coast today for the 2nd annual Muttzanita Festival, sponsored by Four Paws on the Beach-the local Pet Store.  All proceeds from the event supported local charities
The day started at 10:30 AM with a Doggie Parade down Laneda Ave, which was closed to car traffic for the event. It was a flurry of activity with dog meet and greets, and event registration.
Many dogs sat patiently, waiting for the festivities to begin 
There's always a handsome Dude in every crowd
He almost seems to be saying "Mom made me do this!"
Only my hairdresser knows for sure...
A merry band of drummers led us to the beach
Let the parade begin!
DH and The Girls
Under all that fog, the beach is really there...not exactly the 90's we were promised, but nobody complained
Some people and canines go all out with costumes adding to the fun!  Here are The Bees!
Cute little Oregon Duck pooch!
Mike, Phyllis and Bo, I mean, Pete!
Getting ready for the Chuck It Toss in the fog!
There were a total of 6 rescue dogs in this family.  
Yeah, Pete, not bad for 11 years old!  The dogs had to chase the ball, pick it up, and return it to their owner in record time to win
A little stress relieving jousting between Molly and Lulu
The next event was Doggy Musical Chairs, where the dogs had to sit when the music stopped, and stay sitting until given the OK signal.  The day was full of fun activities, including a Silent Auction, Pet Fashion Show, Poker Walk, Treasure Hunt and Doggie Demonstrations.
Awards for the winners
a tired, wet, and happy Molly 
and Lulu, who agree that it was a doggone good day!


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Plein Air Painting

My Art Buddy, Roberta and I, took a watercolor painting class with Renee in Milwaukie last winter and spring terms.  Everyone talked about Renee's Plein Air painting sessions, so when she she sent out an email to former students that one was coming up, we rushed to register.  Now after today, I'm thinking Renee' might want to change the name to A Day In Provence, since I could just imagine Monet painting at every turn.  What a lovely, amazing place!
 Roberta, pondering a field of sunflowers.
Another student, took in the whole valley with it's beautiful western exposure.
We had about four hours of painting time and then broke for Tea Time about 4 PM, followed by more painting until sunset when the 'Heaven Rays' faded in the valley. 
Flowers were everywhere, since flowers are grown commercially on the property, along with tomatoes, and  Bonsai Trees.  In between painting, Renee and her husband, John, helped us pick berries to bring home. They couldn't have been more generous.   
Our Tea Break location under the grape arbor.  The whole day seemed like a refreshing step back in time.
The clouds were amazing!
This rooster seemed fascinated by the attention, and poised regally for this photo as I very carefully aimed my camera through the fence.
I can't wait to paint this emerging sunflower.
Renee painted with us, and created two beautiful acrylics during our art time. Doesn't this look very French and idyllic? 
What a perfect day!