Wednesday, December 31, 2014

new year wisdom from t.s. eliot

in his poem "the love song of j alfred prufrock", t.s. eliot writes the line, "i have measured out my life in coffee spoons..." for me, that's a serious lot of java.  but really, i like this quote and i think it came to mind because what is a year but a series of small moments in the same direction?  consider each moment, no matter how ordinary, as being a part of your wild and precious life (mary oliver) right now.  this will be my 41st new year and i find myself appreciating each one more than the last.  thanks for following, dear readers, and happy 2015 xox

Saturday, December 27, 2014

so uncool they're cool again

instead of resolutions, i wanted to post my top ten list of things that, *during my lifetime thus far, have gone from hideous to hip.  *give or take a hundred years or so in some cases.

1) records  i had boxes of records ranging from chicago and george benson to loggins & messina and supertramp.  having already gotten rid of 8-tracks and walkmans i thought it only best to ditch my record player and boxes of vinyl.  now you can get a stylish little record player that comes in pastel colors and is defined as "minimalist elegant".

2) composting  c'mon, when i was little, this was just gross.  we separated the recycling from the garbage but then also set aside all natural materials for the garden.  we were trained never to toss anything that could be turned back into the earth.  now it's eco-friendly to have your own worm farm.

3) juicers  i had to plug my nose to get the mixture of apple and carrot juice down when i was in third grade.  now it costs $4.59 for an eighth of what our juicer would produce, and the greener the better.  juice bars all the rage, remember when wheat grass was just a field out there somewhere? 

4) handmade clothes  i was teased mercilessly for having homespun clothing.  i caved into pressure during the junior high years while secretly appreciating my mother's resourcefulness and talent.  now everyone wants to be able to make that linen tunic that goes for $230 in the downtown botique.

5)  pickling and canning  our kitchen would get so sticky and steamy with august peach juice and, while we never really wanted to learn or help, we were always happy to be eating fruit from the garage shelves in the winter. now i see so many pickled and canned things, things i didn't even know could go in a jar.

6)  moustache and beard wax did the pioneers have product for their facial hair?

7) beer  growlers and such have become all the rage in the northwest again, much like i imagine it to have been after prohibition was lifted.  my only deep thought here is grammatical:  if there's more than one is it beer or beers?

8)  chickens  i'm a sucker on this one, they're cute to me and the golden yolks from their eggs just so delicious, i can't go back to regular white grocery store eggs, i don't care what anyone says, i just can't.

9) homesteading  i really don't think the real version of this was all that fun.  imagine landing somewhere and having to go out and kill your dinner before it gets dark and then try to build a fire, you only have one bowl, etc. etc. etc. spending all your waking time with the business of staying alive.  it's much more fun to play at homesteading when none of it really matters one way or the other and you know you can always just drive to costco.

10) typewriters  having actually had to use these to write papers in highschool, complete with correction fluid and tape (ooh, options) i'll just say i really enjoy my laptop now.  i didn't even know to keep the thing and it's corona case (not to be confused with the aforementioned beer(s) which now, even with the h key that always stuck, would probably sell for a lot on eBay.

so that's my list.  what's on yours?  oh, and in the meantime, i'll be saving my landline phone for when anything that still has a cord becomes "vintage". 

run time approximately 220 minutes

i just watched the entire season two of portlandia, all episodes back to back.  this from a person who never watches tv, barely owns one (it fits and mostly stays in my closet) and has so many other things she wants to do with her time.  but i have to say, i laughed alot. (alot!) and that may be worth it.

this space i'm in--this one that's not mine--is about the same or less square footage than my cozy nest and sports not one but two big screen television sets.  after i got over the initial shock of that, i found that it was nice to have the holiday movie channel.  but that was after scrolling through i think 400+ channels (which is great if you want to watch the home jewelry shopping network in spanish, which i don't).  except for the occasional cooking show, and that neat screen shot of a blazing fire with christmas music in the background, i found myself coming up with alternate uses for a big screen tv.

1)  dry rack  for fabrics too delicate to go through the drier, the tv makes a perfect hanging place.

2) life map  big screens are an ideal surface for mapping your life's goals with post-it notes.  that way you can prioritize, rearrange and organize your top goals all in one convenient space.  this could also work well for budgets, reading lists and house projects.

3)  light reflector in small spaces, smart interior design is a must, so lining up candles or lights to reflect off of the television's surface can make your space seem larger and lighter during winter months leading to a boost in both mood and overall aesthetic.

this after spending, as the dvd stated, approximately 4 hours of my time on earth engrossed in watching an affectionate mockery of the city i hold so dear. 

recipe for rainy day resourcefulness

house sitting during the holidays puts you out of your usual routine and environment and into new pathways of adventure in all things, including cooking.  here's my post-holiday recipe for a rainy day between christmas and new years born out of necessity of being in someone else's place. you will need:  new flannel lounge wear, fuzzy socks, candles, an oversized mug for tea or hot chocolate plus any book from the maisie dobbs mystery series by jacqueline winspear. (i just finished book four, "messenger of truth").  put your laptop pandora station on "Sting" with added variety "holiday" and it's pretty much a perfect day.

as for the recipe...the nearest grocery store to me right now is a high-end one (the kind wherein i muse to myself, 'i could buy a small home OR i could purchase this wheel of french cheese'.  cheese invariably wins out, which is why, i suppose, i still rent). already purchased from said fancy store:  chicken broth and udon noodles.  so i said to myself, "self, time for some cozy soup...hmm". 

so, without a plan, here's what i did and how it turned out.  i grabbed seven or so fresh winter kale leaves from their raised beds, found and chopped an onion from the back of the fridge and started those in the skillet along with olive oil and salt (pretty much any good thing can be started with these two basic ingredients), broth and a good cup's worth of homemade salsa (that i received at yesterday's after-christmas party, perfect timing thankyouverymuch). because i can never get too much spice, i added a generous sprinkle of red chili peppers from a shaker i discovered at the back of a random kitchen cupboard (thankfully these never go bad because i have no idea how long they've been there).  then i shredded leftover turkey from dinner with mom and dad on the 24th and threw in the pre-cooked noodles:  hello healthy and delicious!  i love it as much as if i had made it via following a cook book or magazine. 

what's your favorite thing to do with leftovers this time of year no matter where you may find yourself?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

christmas eve

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God sent His only begotten son into the world so that we might live through Him."  

I John 4:7 & 8

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

get your stalking stuffers here (and other holiday bloopers)

coffee in hand, candle lit, and "white christmas" on tv, i've had just enough rest to retrieve my funny bone and i have to say the holidays have ample opportunties to bring that out in me. (*author's note, the tone of this post is meant to be sarcastic but kind and meant with no offense whatsoever to anyone or their holiday mail of choice.  i love mail, any and all of it and truly care about everyone and their lives!)

that said, i have time to reflect, set to bing crosby's crooning, remembering the year i drove by a certain establishment (which shall remain nameless to protect the guilty) and the reader board boasted "get your stalking stuffers here" (scary.  reason #452 to pay attention in grammar class.  enough said).

then there's what to say when someone asks if you like their christmas sweater?  the trick here is to be honest without offending.  my favorite response in this category is "you know, it's really not that cold out this year."  but the holiday cards take the yule log, hold the egg nog.

for some reason, i think that letters have a tendency to fall into two, possibly two and a half categories, rather like mad-libs 1) my kid is an honor student at _________ (fill in name of school here) elementary 1-1/2) cute pictures of my dog doing ________ (insert canine activity here) and 2) i had my _________ (fill in part of body here) replaced this year.  with no offense to any parties, i've been thinking about creative alternatives to replace the pressure of having to remember how brilliant our children and pets are or what medications we may or may not be on.  so what if your three year old has not yet been recruited by NASA?  don't have any pets?  you still have your own internal organs and bones intact?  feeling like you can't compete and have nothing to say?

what if you tried...rewriting a classic Christmas song/poem/story?  making a top-12 list of beautiful things you saw/tried/made?  or putting your family news into a photo collage or short video set to music?  sending out a copy of a delicious dessert or traditional recipe?  typing up a favorite holiday memory from the older generation?  not that these things couldn't go equally and terribly wrong, but at least it would be fun trying, right?  rest assured, all 350 of my kids at school are rocket scientists, my cats just wrote a peace treaty for the UN and you'll be receiving a photo card of my latest dental x-rays (did i mention my dentist said i have perfect teeth? oh, and they're all mine).  in the meantime, happy hannakah! 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

can you post attendance, please?

can you post attendance, please?

'twas the week before Christmas
and all through the school
the teachers were missing
so kids checked the pools

from Palm Springs to Oahu
the students, they searched
but not one instructor was found
they were left in a lurch!

no homework?  no research?
no papers, no books?
they looked high and low
in all crannies, all nooks

attendance was taken
but the teachers weren't there
call in the clones, get the subs
where'd they go?  it's not fair!

what about parties?
and grades?  we need papers back!
boys and girls, they missed us
some picked up the slack

but we had all left
the hallways were bare
sorry for not posting,
i just wasn't there!

--miss smith (that would be me)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

fun, films and flurries

i just finished reading a whimsical novel called "the president's hat" by antoine laurain, the central premise being, "can a hat change your life?"  it's a fun read, the way laurain weaves his characters together, the hat giving them the courage they need to step up or make changes in their lives.  i also went to see the movie "wild" about cheryl strayed's adventures hiking the pacific crest trail, although i have yet to read the book.  it's the time of year for more reading, more cocoa & indoor projects...and more holiday movies!  what are some of your favorite winter flicks?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

the wreath recipe

i first discovered the elegant botanical work of alethea harampolis in kinfolk magazine.  on a recent trip to ashland, i picked up the sole copy of "the wreath recipe" in a bookstore because it was square, white and had a lovely image on the cover that caught my eye, having no idea it was her work!  it inspired me to go out into the yard during thanksgiving and make a gratefulness gathering of berries and brambles, bringing the outside in.  then, today while reading the latest copy of "sunset" magazine, guess which book was featured?!  "three times," i thought, "it's a sign."  a sign of what nature has to offer in each and every season.

sweet paul

when a friend of mine was in norway, she loved and bought books that are now hard to find here in the states.  in one such quest she ran across the work of paul lowe einlyng. she discovered he was born in oslo, norway and raised by his great aunt and grandmother who lovingly referred to him as "sweet paul".  so when the art retreat The Makerie that we attended sent a link for a free online subscription to the same magazine, we jumped at it!  you might like it, too:

the art of illuminating

it's advent, when i feel an extra compulsion to share all things filled with light and beauty.  one such concept is the Saint John's Bible project.  in 1996, the Queen of England's calligrapher and friend of the abbey, donald jackson, suggested the idea of rendering a visual copy of the Bible using parchment and quill.  the result was the first handwritten illumination of it's kind in 500 years.

i love that this project brought together artists, calligraphers, theologians, historians and scholars across the Atlantic.  a beautiful book highlighting the process is by susan sink (an oblate of the abbey, a lifestyle i would like to look into, being one not for the extremes of cloister life OR the traditional american dream, but that's another topic for another day). and i hear that a portion of the project is on display right here in newberg, at george fox university and the cultural center! 

for more, visit

exhibit: growth

disclaimer:  i have yet to be inside this actual exhibit...but i can attest to it's hipness by the sheer number of portlanders willing to wait in line for it despite the cold and rain!  and i have a friend who tried it and said, "move alot, you'll love it!"  the first time i was in line i waited as long as i could, inching ahead about a foot per 15 minutes, or until my parking meter ran out, whichever was first. (alas, it was the latter). when i came back later, the line was closed off for the evening. 

and yet, i'm fascinated by the idea of interactive art.  this exhibit was sponsored by umpqua bank to explore human potential and growth.  a geodesic dome houses this choreographed visual experience with motion-activated digital technology.  you missed it too?  not to worry, it's soon to be in seattle, san francisco, sacramento, eugene and spokane!