Saturday, December 3, 2011

Ski Lodge Open January 19

Back in July, we started talking about the possibility of looking at new housing arrangements. Then in August, around when we returned from our camping trip and it was 88 degrees in our un-air-conditioned apartment, we decided we needed to move. Thus began our hunt for a house.

We tried (twice) and got outbid (twice) on one house in SW Bend. That was mid-October. After that, feeling mildly sulky, we bought a second car and forgot about moving for the time being. Then I spotted something the day after Thanksgiving: same floor plan, same street and neighborhood, better price, better location and better condition. We went and looked last Sunday, offered Monday, and as of Tuesday afternoon are well on our way to owning a house in Bend!
Here are the specs: 3 bedrooms and a den, 2.5 baths, 2-car garage, fireplace, private backyard, wired for hot tub. HUGE master closet. Newly installed wood floors and slate tile in kitchen and entry. It has enough tiny projects to keep me happy, but also looks almost like a brand-new house inside. Closing is January 18 (or sooner!!)

So I guess my days of studio living are numbered (45, to be exact). It's been a good run here, but I don't know how much I'll miss it. I think this is going to be a really good change, and we are excited for it.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fall daze

It's officially been fall for two days now, and I've felt it in the air for a little longer than that. The weather has been warm, hot even, on some days, but it's a golden sort of heat, not the searing silver-white hot of July or August. And we didn't really have that this year.

For a few weeks, I've been glancing at the maples outside the office window and thinking they looking slightly tinged with lime green that was headed toward yellow, but then decided my eyes were playing tricks on me. But it's unmistakable now, the yellow is coming.

I'm good with that. It's been a coolish summer (which I'm also good with) but fires kicked up all around Bend and it turned smoky, which always makes me immediately ready for fall.

In the meantime, we're looking at buying a second house in Bend, which is exciting. It'll be good to have a little more space so people can come visit and we can not spend all our time within 8 feet of each other.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

New addition

It was a bit iffy whether the now-yellow dresser was going to come back to Bend with us, but I ended up doing it. The paint, for some inexplicable reason, was still kind of gummy, despite having had three weeks to dry and harden in 85+ degree temperatures. Consequently, the finish ended up a bit crappy, after getting jostled around in the back of the Q.

(And the "reveal" pic is craptacular, thanks to the impromptu hailstorm we had while I was taking pictures. It's much cuter in person. Whatever.)

But I'm overall very pleased with how it came out, mainly because of one little secret ingredient: Floetrol. It's a paint conditioner. It extends the wet edge and helps reduce drag. It's like pouring magic into your paint. Somehow, without diluting the color (which is good, because yellow is a sucky color to paint with and requires a lot of coats) it makes painting worlds better. I highly recommend you snag a bottle for your next project. I will never paint without it again.

The dresser takes up a bit more space at the top of the stairs than I'd expected, but it's ok.

It also doesn't particularly matter, because we're thinking we'll be changing places in Bend soon. We're kicking around the idea of buying something that's the exact opposite of our Hillcrest house...NOT a short sale or foreclosure, NOT with a yard that wants maintenance, NOT a fixer-upper, and probably more like 1500 square feet or less. Or renting something bigger. In any case, our 600-sq-ft studio days are numbered. And the dresser will have a new home.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Time flies

Been a busy few months around here...but before things got busy (more on that shortly) I finally painted the stupid wooden knobs that came with the dresser I painted last winter. I used some antique gold paint and am happy enough with how they came out (and really loving actually having knobs on the dresser--makes getting the drawers out a lot easier).

Fun trick with painting knobs (I've done it several times and this is my best method). Get a box, like a cracker box, and cut X-shaped holes in it. Put the screws in the back of the knobs and insert the knobs, screw-side down, into the box, so the knobs are sitting on the box. Then you can easily paint the knobs without holding them and getting your fingers all paint-y. And they're nice and stable, so you can easily paint all the way around.

In other news, I started working at Todd's company about six weeks ago. Not the direction I expected life to take, but a good opportunity came along and I decided to take it.
Anyway... We're headed back to Medford next weekend, and I'm in the process of painting another dresser there. This one's for Todd, since he's been living out of laundry baskets and under-the-bed boxes since we moved here.

Several months ago, he ranted, "I used to be a man! I used to store my clothes in a dresser!" So I'm painting the champagne-colored one that was in the guest room a school bus yellow color, filling the holes and adding new nickel hardware. It gets to come home with us next weekend :)

That's mostly what's going on here these days!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Brownie hangover can happen. At least, I'm pretty sure. I made these dulce de leche brownies the other night and ate some last night, and I swear they ruined me. It took a LOT of very loud dance music to get me going this morning.

Normally, I like silence or quiet ambient rock in the morning. I realized desperate measures were in order when, in my zombie-trancelike state, I accidentally ate a brownie for breakfast. Love that Lady Gaga Pandora radio station.

They are amazing and I highly recommend making them. Next time, I'll be adding some not-melted chocolate chips to the mix, because I like brownies with chocolate chips. Adds nice texture.

On the other end of the food spectrum, my lettuce seeds are coming along nicely, despite the fact that there was SNOW in the forecast this week.I'm excited for fresh lettuce. Like most produce that's home grown, it's just a lot better than grocery-store lettuce.

We're headed to Medford this weekend, and I'm excited to dig into some projects. Like a table for our grill I want to build. Maybe "stand" is more accurate, but something to lift it up a little. I need to take some measurements. Our neighbors have been gardening, so it'll be fun to see how things are coming along there. And, of course, yardwork. YAY!

Lastly, I finished my lemon wreath a while ago and it makes me happy every dang time I look at it (which is frequently, since I spend most of my time in a very tiny apartment).

Saturday, May 7, 2011


It's springtime in Medford. I posted about it in our house blog a few weeks ago. It is NOT spring in Bend. Spring has dementia: it was late, then showed up for a few days, but not realizing it was in the right place, left. And now it's November again.

Anyway, not to be deterred, I constructed a self-watering vegetable container based on this plan and planted tomatoes, basil and oregano. I also built a nifty little cart to wheel it in and out at night, because tomatoes are temperature sensitive and won't produce if they get too chilly.

That's the plant collection, taken from 20 feet above looking over our ledge. The pot on the right is 18 inches at the top. It's big. (It also probably needs a reservoir fill-up, too, eek...)

Other crafty news: I found a blog post somewhere about a lemon wreath. I love wreaths that don't look like trash, and I love lemons, and I especially love being crafty and creative. So...I copied the idea. But mine's better.
Or, you know, it will be, once I finish hot-gluing the lemons in place and can hang it up. Still maybe a bit sparse in the 6 to 9 o'clock areas. Hmm.

ALSO! I am propagating rosemary and basil, and my little seedlings (Gloriosa daisies, which look like black-eyed susans, my favorite!) are coming right along.

Oh, I love gardening so much.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Raspberry lemon bars

I made these for book club a few weeks ago. They're what I tweeted about eating for breakfast. (Fact: if "dessert" has fruit, it can also be very acceptable breakfast food.)
I don't really feel like finding the recipe and linking to it, but if you search for "bhg raspberry lemon shortbread bars" you'll probably find it. It was in May's BHG.

Friday, April 29, 2011

On birthdays

I've been a dedicated reader of Slate's Dear Prudence column for at least five years now, and Miss Manners on MSN before that. From time to time, there's someone who writes in about a birthday. It's one of two takes on a situation. A) My friends forgot my birthday and I feel hurt or B) My friend is going waaaay overboard in celebrating and thinks her birthday is an annual wedding where she gets all the attention she wants for as long as she wants.

I've done some thinking about this, because I suppose both responses are unreasonable (though, full disclosure, I'm more likely to fall into the former camp than the latter). I think it stems from feeling deep in your heart that you're un-cared for. It's a lot more obvious in the first response than the second, but overcompensation is usually an indicator of a lack, no?

The people who comment (and usually the advice-givers) are down on people who think they should be celebrated by their friends on their birthday. "You're too old, stop acting like a child" is how it typically goes.

It makes me wonder what's so wrong with celebrating people on their birthdays. What's wrong with celebrating people in general? We don't have time or energy to do that every day (though maybe we should), but it seems like people should be excited to have one day they can celebrate and make the people they supposedly care for feel cared for.

I'm not talking about addressing the symptom or reaction (sulkiness or self-centeredness) but the root of the issue: that people don't feel like those around them genuinely care about them. Maybe that's not just appreciating someone on his or her birthday, but regularly. Actually caring for people because it's important and because we want to.

P.S. it is still snowing outside. That's six months, folks. And I thought I was going to get to garden soon.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Scrambled updates

Been a busy few weeks! I've been working on two websites, and I've been meaning to post a link to my own company, Paraphrase Media, for about a month now. I finally finished it (mostly...there's always room for improvement) and am excited to be official!

It's been such a busy few weeks that I haven't done any projects, other than baking. Also, I've taken up being a full-blown nerd, playing COD Black Ops (mainly to kill the zombies). If video games weren't bad enough, Todd got me a headset to wear while we're playing, so I can be told by the friends we play with not to shoot the crawler...right before I do. Oops. (Sorry, nerdy digression.)

I have been doing some really awesome things with eggs lately, that I'm going to share. That is a rosemary-onion-spinach scramble, seasoned with cracked black pepper, kosher salt, green onions and plenty of Tillamook Colby Jack. (Secret: the "onion" part is actually powdered onion soup from a packet. Surprisingly versatile stuff.) The rosemary was grown in my windowsill herb garden (in which I am unfortunately, and so far unsuccessfully, battling aphids. I'm buying ladybugs today.)

There have also been some very successful stir-fry experiments, but I don't have pictures, so I won't mention them yet.

Plans are also in the works for my summer garden, which is going to include:
  • tomatoes
  • basil
  • oregano
  • possibly zucchini
  • lettuce (more for springtime)
  • petunias
  • geraniums
  • dahlias
and I am excited for it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

How to knock off a J. Crew headwrap's the headwrap how-to and an example that I made!
  1. Use your seam ripper or scissors to remove all the thread that holds the tie together: remove the tags, backing and any trim stuff. The idea is to turn it into a flat piece of fabric.
  2. Once all the thread is removed, iron the wide part of the tie so it's flat. Iron and flatten to where the tie gets skinny and remains skinny; leave that alone.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Watch out, J. Crew

Three summers ago, J. Crew made an amazing accessory known as the no-fuss headwrap. I bought a few and wear them all the time. I always wish they'd made more...more colors, more fabrics...

But the thing is, I've always known they're incredibly simple to make. If, you know, you can sew. (Which I now can!) So last weekend I rounded up a bunch of fabric I'd bought for this purpose (including a men's silk tie from Goodwill for experimentation purposes) and got to work studying the construction of the headwrap.

It's really simple. The basic idea is a 16" x 8" rectangle (for the top part) and a 2"x 8" rectangle (for the tube that holds the elastic around the back). I have to double-check my measurements, but I'm thinking I'll post a how-to when I make my next one. The first was sort of an exploratory mission.
Some of my stitching was very nice and neat.
Some...wasn't (in the middle...that's the messy part. Not the hem). Silk is kind of tricky and my sewing machine doesn't really like elastic much. Anyway....stay tuned for a how-to in the coming days. I'm excited to have a huge supply of headwraps.

P.S. SUPERCUTE tie, huh? $3 from Goodwill. Totally weird for a man's necktie, but LOVE for the headband.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dropcloth euroshams

I was inspired a few weeks ago by this post in one of my favorite blogs, about using dropcloths as curtain liners. I've been wanting to sew eurosham covers for these big square pillows we use as a sort of headboard on our bed for a long time. It's part of the reason I got a sewing machine in the first place. But fabric is EXPENSIVE (or rather, I always end up picking the most expensive things. But upholstery fabric is pricey.)

So anyway, using dropcloths (the linen-y texture and oatmealish color of which I love) was a perfect solution. A perfect $10 solution.

A little help from Allie (Todd's coworker/my sewing buddy) and I was on my way. The first one took a long time to measure out, and I predictably got confused with the math and need to enlist a little velcro to help the backs stay shut. But on the whole, I am so happy with how they look, and feel TOTALLY accomplished for coming up with an idea, plotting it out and making it happen!
It's official: sewing is fun!

My pillows were 26" x 26" and I measured 28" for the big square and should have done about 15" x 28" and 14" x 28" for the backs. (Or even a little more. The backs fluff out in the middle, not that anyone sees. That's where I need a bit of velcro.)

There was only a small mess left in the kitchen after:

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Burn, baby, burn!

Excited to report that we FINALLY got a grill. Early last summer, our grill tried to blow up our house and kill Todd, so we stopped using it. Then we moved. And still grill-less, we ate no grilled food all winter. Then we decided it was time to find something new. Most of the grills in the $100 range are best described as "rickety" but luckily, Costco came to the rescue.

This little baby is almost normal-sized (plenty of room for two people, anyway) and also perfectly deck-sized. I'm debating whether to build a little table for it to sit on. In the meantime, we had grilled chicken the other night for dinner, and it was great. And I highly recommend the grill (so far).

Monday, March 21, 2011

Odds and ends

I am sooo excited for the new camera I picked up on Saturday--bday present from my parents. Technology has changed a little, since we bought a little Nikon point-and-shoot four and a half years ago (I think it's four mp and 3x zoom). The new toy is 14 mp and has a 7x optical zoom. It can see things I can't, which is amazing. Kind of like taking pictures with a microscope.

Anyway. My parents also picked up this mini hummingbird feeder while they were in Florida a while ago (they've been going so frequently I can't keep track of when it was--mark of Midwesterners with an eye toward retirement). I love hummingbirds and don't really have a good place to put a feeder on my dinky balcony, but this little guy is perfectly apartment sized. Note the suction cup, which will be stuck to my sliding glass door come summer. LOVE.
Speaking of summer and studio has been killing me that I'm not going to have a big garden this summer. We've nearly polished off the stockpile of frozen pesto I made last August, and it just totally bums me out that I might not be able to grow my own (basil) this year.

The earliest of the early-spring plants are showing up at stores (hyacinth, pansies, daffodils) and I have a pot of pansies on the deck that the still-chilly temps haven't wiped out yet. But it's not the same as having a yard. (Then again, I suppose I should be glad I still have a house, even if I'm not living in it. And I am.) this blog, In Praise of Leftovers. I found it while in search for a tomatillo salsa recipe on the weekend, and I'm a new fan.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Faking my spring garden

Begonias are one of my favorite flowers. Not so much the ones that come in six-packs at the nursery, but tuberous ones, with big fat flowers. Like this one, which I picked up at Trader Joe's last weekend. LOOK at that red. It's incredible.

I needed to clear out those forced bulbs, that had been in the process of croaking on the windowsill, and TJ's is a perennial favorite for finding new plants.

Begonias are pretty easy to care for and propagate easily. They like part sun, regular water, and some humidity. If humidity isn't possible, mist the leaves.

Though that's a closed pot, the plant is in a separate pot inside and there are some packing peanuts at the bottom to facilitate drainage. (Nobody likes wet feet.)

So now my little windowsill garden looks like this:
I repotted the geranium that had been sitting in a jar of water for a few months (that's the two bare-looking sticks on the right sill) and it has some very teeny leaves sprouting. Here's hoping she recovers; I love those hot pink blooms.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Favorites: weekend breakfast

Saturday mornings are almost always eggs, coffee and reading (when we're in town, which is two or three times a month). Todd makes fantastic scrambled eggs and breakfast burritos and we LOVE to doctor them up with salsa, Tillamook Colby Jack, mushrooms and chili garlic sauce.

If you're not familiar, it's like magic in a bottle. I use it in soups, on tacos, mix it into salsa, on eggs...I guess that's mostly it, but it's really good.

In other weekend breakfast news, you should check out the world's best pancake recipe. It doesn't get better than that. Seriously.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Roast results

So that hunk of beef that I wrote about last was awesome. Maybe a little long in the crock pot (I'd shoot for 7 hours on low next time rather than 8) and a hair salty (added a cup of beef broth before cooking to make sure it didn't dry out), but it was really great.

We had that with bread and salad Saturday, and then ate the leftover beef in tacos Sunday. It was excellent both times. Todd pointed out that we are getting pretty darn good at making tacos: we have a good method for chicken, and I would totally do the beef again this way.

A few observations:
  • dilute the beef broth. Maybe 1/2 or 3/4 tsp of stuff to 1 cup of water. It was pretty salty.
  • use red wine instead of soy sauce for a different direction.
  • onions and shallots caramelized....yum.
I'm still thinking about those tacos. Wow.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

It's official, I love my sewing machine!

So, I got my sewing machine out for the first time since...the first time...and decided to work on taking in a military-style anorak i got last year, so it'd be ready to use for springtime. (Spring, please don't come too soon; I'm still enjoying the snow, boots, boot socks...gosh, I love winter.)

I pinned the jacket, threaded and "installed" a new bobbin, threaded the machine and sewed two simple lines on each side. SUCCESS! Then I cut off the extra, and the raw edge started to unravel. So I got out the manual and read about the overcasting stitch, which allows you to finish edges. Perfect. It called for presser foot G, so I read about how to change out the foot (easy!), did that, and overcasted that edge!

I then felt like this:
Except instead of sailing, I SEWED! AHOY! The end.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Sausage mushroom soup

Todd and I have an arrangement about the food in our house. I do the grocery shopping and most of the cooking. He does a lot of the cleanup, and also contributes ideas to the weekly menu (I get totally bored and need inspiration, which he's quite good at).

So last week, he cracked open a cookbook he'd gotten me years ago as a gift (and from which one of our favorite dishes comes from; I'll share it in the summer) to come up with something for dinner.

The cookbook, by the way, is Food and Wine Magazine's Quick From Scratch Italian Cookbook. Having been raised in the Midwest, I still think, rather uncreatively, of spaghetti with marinara sauce topped with Kraft parmesan cheese as the quintessential Italian meal, and this cookbook pushes me far beyond that.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Eye of round roast, take 2. And work!

I made an ill-fated attempt at cooking a roast last fall. I'm not altogether sure why, given the fact that I all but get nauseous thinking about that roast, but I've decided to take another crack at it.

So I chopped up some onions and shallots and minced a whole lot of garlic and dumped that in a plastic freezer bag, along with the 2 1/4-pound roast.

Who ever went wrong with red meat, onions, garlic and shallots? Hopefully, I won't be the first.

Drawing from the marinade recipes I leafed through, I threw in some soy sauce, cracked black pepper and a hefty dose of kosher salt for good measure.

When it's ready to go in the crock pot (which is the one cooking method I'm always successful with) tomorrow, I'm going to bore a hole in the middle, and--get ready for it--stuff it with BACON.

I contend that there is nobody in the history of the universe who has ever made something that involves beef, bacon, garlic, shallots and onions taste bad. Especially when slow cooked, maybe in some red wine or something. IT'S JUST NOT POSSIBLE. (I hope.)
Above: does not look edible, but will hopefully be spectacular. I'll let you know how it goes.

Also! I've signed two new clients in the past few weeks, one for an SEO retainer and the other for a website that I'll be building. So far, Paraphrase Media's new direction is working for me!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Candied chocolate-covered orange peel and clementines

When we were in Chicago at Christmas, I bought some chocolate-covered orange peel on a whim. While I'm not a fan of dark chocolate, I do make exceptions when it's combined with orange.

So anyway, I got to thinking: how hard can it possibly be to candy oranges? Answer: it's not. It's reallllllly easy. I've done it three times so far. The first time, I learned the importance of keeping the lid on while the peels simmer in the syrup. While the orange hard candy I inadvertently made wasn't bad, the texture was wrong.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A few faves for the New Year

I know it's almost February and I've been MIA for quite a while. That's ok. I started blogging for fun, not out of obligation. But I have collected some things that have made my new year/month rather enjoyable, and I thought I'd share them.

1. The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook. This book on muscle tension is changing my life and helping me address pain issues I've had for seven years and three chiropractors. It's clear, easy to understand, and is teaching me to throw around words like "suboccipital" like I know what I'm talking about. And it's rocking my world, showing me where to massage my neck to get rid of a headache. Amazing and totally worth the $20.
2. These t-shirts from American Eagle. I feel utterly, shamefully teeny-bopper admitting that I still shop at this store, but it's true. And I have been on a years-long quest to find a perfect t-shirt. So if I find one, I don't really care where it's from. The length on the large is a glorious 29 inches, which means it is perfect fit for me. I want 12 in every color. So far, settled for two white and two gray. But don't think I'm done...just waiting for clearance.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Nature override successful

Just thought I'd report that my forced grape hyacinth bulbs are starting to bloom! The color's not as intense as it would be if they were in the ground, but on the windowsill. No complaints here.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Cashew Chicken

Last summer, we had really good cashew chicken from Panda Express (which you are more than welcome to judge me for if you feel so compelled, but I like what I like. And you are probably a food snob). I decided that it couldn't possibly be too difficult to duplicate at home. Wrong-ish. The sauce copycat recipes I found online all sucked (hoisin sauce...disgusting) so I decided to just use some bottled sauce. And it turned out to be really, really good.

So here's my thoroughly modified version of Panda's cashew chicken:

1 pound of chicken breasts
2-3 red, yellow or orange bell peppers (I use a combination)
1 large white onion
3-4 stalks of celery
1 can of sliced water chestnuts
1 bunch of cilantro (my clump of leaves are about the size of both of my fists together, so kind of a lot)
4-6 green onion stalks (to taste)
1 cup (or less) of cashews or cashew pieces
1 clove garlic, minced