day 19

we had no real plan today. get some breakfast, maybe try to see the great salt lake and then head on out. we weren't feeling it. but we also weren't cranky like yesterday. 

so, we got up and i found a place for breakfast: ruth's diner. it was delicious. breakfast came with these giant biscuits, "mile-high biscuits." they were light and fluffy and moist and OH MY GOD GOOD. 

we then set out to get a view of the lake. and google told me that if we cut through a neighboorhood we were near, there was a causeway to antelope state park. we ended up spending the entire day there. it was beautiful. we saw a falcon, bison, antelope and many other birds. it was a perfect day together.

but wait, there's more...

the route to twin falls was mostly interstate, which we'd been avoiding. less to see. but shawn figured out a route that was a little out of the way but would give us a solid block of non-interstate driving during the magic hour. we made frequent stops for pictures. deer, cows, horses, run down stables, shacks, and this handsome and sort of terrifying fellow pictured above. 

we pulled to the side of the road and snapped a picture. he flew to another post. we followed him. he flew to another post. we followed him. and he then humored me by allowing me to take his picture for a good ten minutes. he was beautiful and fierce and knew it. eventually he flew away but i spent our time together in total disbelief. i had won the lottery. seriously. he looked me straight in the eye and just let me snap away. i'm getting chills just thinking about it. corny but true.

oh, and after a great deal of searching and comparing photos, i've concluded he's a red-tailed hawk

i kind of love my life.


more pictures of him and my most magic magic hour are here.

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day 20

today we drove from twin falls to pendleton, oregon. we got a room and then wandered into the prodigal son brewery. we found ourselves a comfy table and settled in for the evening. great beer, good food, a scrabble board and a ms. pac man game. it was the best possible way to end our three weeks on the road. 

we saw so many amazing things, did so much. packed orders out of the back of the car and kept in touch with clients and customers almost the whole time. it was really amazing.

together, shawn & i really do make a bad ass robot.

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day 21


we did it. and we stopped at multnomah falls on the way home.

we experienced something odd today. on past road trips, the drive home was always a bummer. up through BORING southern illinois. the place we were returning to always felt so blah in comparison to where we'd just been. and yes, we've been some truly amazing places on this trip but we were also returning to an incredibly beautiful place. we both said, at the very same moment, "we live someplace pretty." and we do. it was an amazing three weeks but i'm happy to be home. 

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the choices we've made

this is going to be a long one. you may want to get comfortable.

the beginning
we had a conversation over dinner at magnolia cafe with kim (frantic meerkat) and matt (mincing mockingbird) that has been bouncing around in my head ever since. we were discussing our freelance lives. we all agreed that however hard it may be sometimes, we wouldn't have it any other way. we work long hours, we have to go with the irregular cash flow. but we are incredibly lucky. we get to spend our days working on the things we love. our days are structured how WE want them to be and we can make free time for the other things we want to do. i started to write this blog post then.

when i was younger i wanted to be a lawyer, a fashion designer, a writer, a teacher, a forensic anthropologist... forensic anthropologist was what i was working toward when i started college. that was quickly derailed. i hadn't actually thought through the whole pesky dead body part of the job. so, after that i floundered. i took classes with no real goal in mind. i got good grades but had no real direction.

so i took a job. and another job. and then a job that turned into what could've been a career. for a long time i thought that the synagogue would be my life. i really did. i loved what i did and the people i worked with. they were like family. the first five years were great. the last five years were rough. things started to change for me. when my grandparents health started to decline, being on call 24 hour a day, everyday, started to take a toll. when the phone rang in the middle of the night i was afraid it was THE CALL. it made the day to day work harder. i was emotionally overwrought, doing a job that already took an emotional toll. the economy tanked, things changed more. staff members, friends, were fired. everyone's salaries were cut. and i was being expected to shoulder more and more of the work. i was already feeling fatigued. the new workload only made matters worse. i wasn't giving it my all. i couldn't - there wasn't much left to give. i felt terrible about it, about myself. i was constantly stressed out. my relationships suffered, my health suffered.

in the midst of all this, i started doing multimedia collage art. i did it to relieve stress and i was moderately successful. i had a few gallery owners who believed in my work. i had a few shows and had a few loyal followers in chicago. but it was a balancing act. and once i started making the things that would become cookoorikoo, a new thing that i was loving, something had to give.

this is not my beautiful house
we made many choices while working at the synagogue. we gave up a cheap and huge apartment for an expensive mortgage payment. when we made that choice we didn't really think through all the repercussions. the travelling that we'd become accustomed to? we would no longer afford to do it. the jobs that were making us miserable? we couldn't quit - we had a mortgage to pay. and the dreams we had of picking up and moving to somewhere with a less horrible winter? impossible given the real estate market. wanting to make art and music and craft or bake full time? you get the idea.

at some point, we both woke up and realized this was not the life we wanted.

more choices
when shawn lost his job in 2008, he decided to NOT to just get another full-time job. when i wasn’t worrying like a crazy person, i could admit that this was the best decision he’d ever made. he was not a nine-to-five guy. he had more than enough work coming his way and more time to work on pixel party and play music. he was in two bands and was practicing regularly. he was happy. as happy as he could be with a crazy stressed out wife who kept working at a job that was making her miserable.

and then we decided to move to portland and i HAD TO QUIT. no more excuses. it was time. we were going to move to portland, shawn was going to continue working on websites and pixelparty, start a band or two and i was going to try to make a go of cookoorikoo. and baking. and writing a graphic novel. and maybe going back to making art. and so i quit.

we also had a long discussion about the house and decided we needed to sell the house, even if we lost a little money. we had an offer on the house within 72 hours of putting it on the market. not having the house, and all the responsibility that went along with it, gave us freedom.

plan b
this week, i saw a tweet from amanda palmer with the hashtag, "#FuckPlanB." i clicked around to see what it was all about and found links to this. and this. it got me thinking more about the choices we’ve made. in these terms, i had been living plan b - the house, the miserable job and i took a leap to go for plan a.

i understand that i’m lucky. we don't have kids to consider and i have a safety net. shawn is incredibly supportive. he believes in me like no one else. AND he still does websites. people pay him well for those websites. but he’s cut back on his workload and plans on scaling back further. websites are a piece of our collective plan a puzzle for the time being. we'd like them to be a smaller piece.

and if i'm going to be perfectly honest, its not all roses. etsy’s been slow. i’m getting wedding orders and inquiries but the regular sales have been snail-like. i’m always working. if i’m not making things, i’m working on photographs, working on marketing, emailing wholesale customers or discussing the details of custom wedding orders. OR i’m helping shawn with his shop - assembling items, editing photos, answering emails. if i’m not working on the shops, i’m baking. or sleeping. as tiring and as frustrating as it can be, i LOVE it. a bad day is still a thousand time better than an ok day at the synagogue.

and so here i am, piles of silk waiting to be sewn, convos waiting to be answered. i need to place some ads. i need to order some supplies. i need to develop a few recipe ideas further. i need to do a bunch of research into kitchen options and food cart alternatives. the to do list is wildly varied and never-ending. and that’s ok. because its my plan a.

the last three weeks
if you read my blog, you know we’ve been on a road trip. we headed to austin for renegade and back again. a trip that would’ve never been possible with full-time jobs and a mortgage payment. we saw so many beautiful things. we had so much fun. the level of gratitude i feel for the chance to change my life is indescribable.

the support i’ve felt from other crafters has been amazing. at renegade, so many people wanted to know how it was going, and let us know how excited they were for us. online, i’ve gotten emails and twitter responses from people wanting to do the same.

to say my heart is full is an understatement. i often say it and i always mean it - i’m a lucky, lucky girl.

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i was home for what seemed like 10 minutes. long enough to hug monkey, bake some bread and cupcakes and re-pack my bags. i'll miss these two. yes indeed i will.

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music mondays

or if you want to die from cute there's this.

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Texas Smoked Pork Loin

Shanalee left town today, and there was a leftover steak bone in the fridge so i took an opportunity to go feral and gnaw on leftover ribeye.   This got me thinking of the ribeye steak we had at Cooper's BBQ in Llano, TX, and that reminded me of the pork loin we had there. 

Cooper's was the first TX BBQ place we ever ordered roast pork from, and has quickly (2 bbq places later) become a new favorite in the shampton household.  I decided that I'd get a pork loin and smoke it. 

Since Shanalee is out of town, and because there was a pile of jalapenos in my fridge left by our housesitter, I decided to make it a spicy roast.

4 large Jalapeno peppers
1 3Lb Pork loin roast
Cooper's BBQ seasoning

I coated it in the seasoning I bought at Cooper's (which appears to be mostly just salt and black pepper - that's what I like about Texas BBQ, they keep it simple) and put it in the fridge for an hour. 

while the salt was reacting with the meat in the fridge, I roasted jalapenos under the broiler (if I was clarivoyant or planned ahead, I would have roasted them on the grill yesterday with my steak)

once they cooled, I ran them through the food processor and turned them into dark green seedy spicy mush.   i then brushed this mixture on to the pork roast and put it in the fridge overnight.  my hope is that this gives the meat a good kick but doesn't penetrate the entire roast and make it super duper hot (although I won't mind too much if it does)

I also made some Texas Caviar based on a recipe in the Penzey's Spice catalog that arrived today.  I used canned beans so it was pretty easy

black beans

kidney beans

garbanzo beans


1 onion chopped


1/4cup olive oil

3tbsp balsamic vinegar

some sugar (penzey's didn't specify this - I looked for brown sugar, i should have went with molasses)

taco seasoning (they said cajun)

a splash of orange juice (didn't have lime)

I mixed this up and it was tasty, I expect it to get better overnight.

I'll update this entry tomorrow when I cook the pork...

Part Deux

I fired up (turned knob, pushed button) the gas smoker around noon, and got the temperature stabilized around 300 degrees. Pork loin unlike pork shoulder does not benefit from a super long smoke as there isn't as much connective tissue within the meat that must be broken down, so a higher temperature is ok here. 

I put some wet wood chips (mystery wood, i lost the label from the bag but I think they were mesquite) in the wood box over the burner and put the roast in the smoker.   

In addition, I took the last of the jalapeno paste and added some cilantro and tomato to it and liquefied it in the food processor then put that in the  smoker in a steel can to make a smoky sauce. 

3 1/2 hours later (after checking the temp ever 30 minutes or so and keeping the water tray full and adding wood chips half way through)  I pulled the meat and the sauce out of the smoker.   I put the meat on a plate and covered it in foil to rest for a bit and set the sauce aside. 

After 30 minutes of rest, I dumped the juices from the plate into the sauce and stirred and sliced up some of the pork.   It was delicious. The bits of jalapeno paste had hardened into crispy spicy bits on the outside and the inside was tender and juicy.   If you get a piece without jalapeno crust, you still have the jalapeno flavor, but it will not make you sweat in the least bit.  Dip the meat in my afterthought hot sauce, and hoo-wha - bring on the tears... 

I made myself a plate with some sliced meat, a serving of my Texas caviar (which turned out delicious) and a slice of sourdough bread that Shanalee baked before she left - a lovely meal that I'll repeat many times over the next few days...

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things i love tuesday


deadline by mira grant came out last week. i didn't have much of a chance to read until yesterday's plane ride. now, i don't want to put it down. nor does my mother or any of my friends reading it. its amazing so far. i'm going to go read more right now...

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wordless wednesday

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fishman's fabrics

i went to fishman's fabrics this week. although there are many fabric stores in portland, none have quite the selection of silk dupioni that fishman's does. nor are any of them quite as old school as fishman's is. 

i've been going in there regularly since i started making yoyos. a few of the men who work there know me by name and other's recognize me as the girl with the sewing machine tattoo. when i walked in i was greeted with warm smiles and a big "welcome back!"

so. awesome.

and wait until you see what i bought! extra pretty yoyos coming soon!

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music mondays

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things i love tuesday


my new iphone. i didn't bring my actual camera to chicago so my camera apps got a workout. instagram and hipstamatic were my best friends all week. it was oddly liberating. 

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