friday friends

this is donovan. she is one of my most favorite people in the world and this is my favorite picture of her. she just came to portland for crafty wonderland and stayed with us. when i got up in the morning, this is how i found her. when i left the room for a moment and returned this is how i found her. the stack of mail she sent from portland was impressive. it makes sense. she co-founded the letter writers alliance with another friend, kathy. they are passionate about getting people to write more letters. pretty effing great. additionally:

  • she really loves halloween
  • she works at both a comic book store and a stationery store part time, on top of her day job.
  • she knows her zombies.
  • she was a part of a grandma club for awhile. she still does many grandmotherly activities but doesn't update that blog any longer.
  • now she has a blog that, well, causes me clap almost every time she posts. it makes me so happy. she hasn't posted in a bit but she will be back and really, there's a lot in the archive to keep you busy.
  • she knows a lot about a lot. i once tweeted a very blurry picture of a bird with a vague description and she figured it out.  
  • she and kathy also started 16 sparrows. this is my favorite card they make.
  • she is fun to drink with. we had many beers together the day this picture was taken and went to powell's books, the photobooth at the ace hotel and to voodoo donuts. it was a spectacularly good and giggly day.

she's a grown up girl scout turned humble superhero and i love her to bits. 

in her honor, i'm going to pop open a beer and write a letter.

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saturday stats

for the week of may 27 -  june 2:

  • exercise - of any kind: 4 or 5 times. i think there was a walk with monkey i didn't write down. not bad. still not entirely back in the swing of things.
  • number of smoothies: 3
  • number of glasses of green juice: 4
  • meals involving pizza: 1
  • meals involving piles of vegetables: 5
  • pints of snap peas eaten: 4
  • i cooked: 4 times and made pear jam
  • i baked: bread
  • letters written: 3
  • packages sent: 13
  • things made: 23
  • photos taken and edited: 0
  • best thing i watched: mad men (OMG)
  • books read: blackout by mira grant and i finally finished swamplandia by karen russell
  • days i wore no socks: 7
  • living room (and kitchen) dance parties: 1  
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how does your garden grow?

it was kind of a crazy busy week. we were trying to get back into the swing of things after being away for a week plus we decided it was really time to plant the garden - because we didn't already have a ton to do. as anyone who has planted a garden can tell you, its kind of a huge project. add to that the fact that garden in the pacific northwest is entirely different from chicago - i mean how do you cope with rain all but a few months a year where it TOTALLY STOPS RAINING? well, i found this book to be awfully helpful while we were trying to figure it all out.

so, we're mostly done with the planting portion. we planted tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, basil, kale, chard, spinach, beets, lettuce, zucchini and pumpkins. there are also pots of mint, cilantro, dill and strawberries. exciting.

why is it i always forget that gardening works muscles that nothing else does. the pain i'm feeling today will be entirely worth it though when i eat the first sun-warmed tomato right off the vine. there's nothing better.

except for maybe peonies bigger than my face.

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music mondays

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shawn & i have a problem. we've had it since we left chicago. there is no "good" pizza in portland. i know, i know. i'm that asshole. there is good pizza in portland. dove vivi, apizza scholls... its good but not what we crave - that thick, juicy pizza that anthony bourdain likened to a pizza casserole. we've also not found thin crust that's quite like thin crust pizza in chicago either, with its cracker-like crust. we miss our families, yes. but we can talk to them on the phone or via skype. pizza, chicago pizza we may miss more.

every year i declare "the year of ______" - pie, cake, bread, ice cream. in december, i decided 2012 would be the year of pizza. we were going to try more of portland's pizza offerings and we were going to try to master making good pizza at home.

full disclosure: we are thinner (AND HEALTHIER) than we were during the years of pie, cake, bread and ice cream. 2011 was the year of moving. it was crazy. so, i didn't take on any food projects except for maybe eating healthier. so, knowing that eating pizza with the voraciousness that we ate ice cream that one year would not be so good we resolved: one pizza meal a month, two at most but if there was two, one HAD TO BE HOMEMADE. 

this is our latest, and i believe, best effort thus far.

(veggie) snap pea pesto pizza

for the snap pea pesto sauce:

like any pesto sauce, this recipe is flexible. add and subtract to taste.

makes 2 cups - i think the pizza used about 1/2 cup

  • 2 cups stringed snap peas
  • 1-3 cloves garlic (to taste - i used 3)
  • 1 large handful of basil leaves
  • 1/8 cup pine nuts
  • 1/8 - 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 – 1 cup extra virgin olive oil (i used just over 1/2 cup)

clean and chop peas. put all ingredients except the salt and pepper. and olive oil in a blender or food processor. slowly add the olive oil. only add enough until all ingredients are well blended and smooth. season with salt & pepper.

for the pizza:

adapted from jamie oliver's recipe found here

for the crust:

  • 1 cups of self-rising flour, plus extra for dusting (1 substituted king arthur pizza dough flavor for 3 tbsp of the flour)
  • 1/3 cup of warm water
  • a glug of olive oil
  • a pinch of salt

for the toppings:

  • 1 cippoline onion, sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced (we used half red, half yellow)
  • 1 roma tomato, chopped
  • 1/3 lb fresh mozzarella, torn to bits (we used fresh wisconsin mozzarella. i could talk about the cheese at length. you don't want me to.)
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • parmesan for sprinkling

preheat your broiler, put a large oven proof frying pan on the stove on high heat to warm and dust a clean surface with flour.
put flour into the food processor. add the water, salt and olive oil. process until smooth, then place onto the floured counter. sprinkle the top of the dough and the rolling pin with flour. roll the dough to a 1/4-ish inch thickness.
drizzle olive oil into the pan, then dust the dough with flour again and very lightly fold it over into a halfmoon shape. lightly fold the half-moon in half, then move the dough to the pan and unfold it, pushing it down into the sides of the pan.
spread a layer of sauce over the crust in the pan*. place peppers and tomatoes on top of sauce and cheese on top of that. dust with basil, oregano or whatever your spice of choice is. sprinkle pine nuts and parmesan on top.
place under the broiler for 5-7 minutes - until you've reached your particular level of crusty brown, burnt cheese nirvana. we go all the way.
and EAT.

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wednesday words

“you can only hold a smile for so long, after that it's just teeth.”
- chuck palahniuk, invisible monsters 

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in the beginning

i've always known that one day i would want to write more about my time at the synagogue. working for a religious organization is fascinating. the stories are endless and the lessons learned are valuable. but as all my friends who've worked for a church or a synagogue could tell you, working for god can suck. 

i was on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. i would get calls during dinner, in the middle of the night, too early on a sunday morning... no time felt like my own. plus, no one really calls their synagogue just to say "hi." something is going on that made them pick up the phone - a death, a birth, a divorce, a crisis of some sort. whatever it was, chances were good their emotional state was heightened. add to that a meager paycheck and yeah, working for god did indeed suck sometimes. 

i've been thinking a lot about those years lately. surprisingly they have been, more often than not, happy thoughts. things were hard, yes, and my time ended on a sour note but they weren't always that way. i'm glad that i've gotten to the point that i can remember the better times. 

last week, i was watching mad men and peggy said to don, "i want you to know, the day you saw something in me my whole life changed." that line got under my skin. days later, it was echoing in my head. after giving it a lot of thought i realized that i had said something similar to rabbi jm on the day i gave my notice. 

i was young when i started, only 24. i was hired as the receptionist but my predecessor was in her eighties and was slowing down a bit. after a few months and many conversations with jm, they decided that i should work with her, learning how to do parts of her job, helping her out with the things she no longer wanted to do. i hadn't quite finished college and wasn't entirely sure what i wanted to do with my life. i'd had management experience and possessed some valuable skills. i liked the work i was doing and was eager. it was a good place to be, with exceptional people. truly. so, why not?

in may of 2000, my predecessor had a heart attack. it was memorial day weekend and jm called me at home. she had survived but it became clear that she was going to need more help than initially planned. i was going to need to do x, y and z starting immediately. he never really asked if i could, or even wanted to. this was what made sense to him and so this was what was going to happen. he knew i could do the job and so i would do the job. right then and there, everything changed for me. 

everything that happened on the job for the next 10 years was a result of that moment, the moment jm believed in me. i also think its why my memories of the synagogue have been so hard to untangle. i have to start somewhere though and this seems like as good a place as any.

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flashback friday

one year ago i was reading the second in the mira grant series. i just finished the third a little over a week ago.

two years ago i was hooked on the guild. still am.

three years ago i was in love with a new pair of shoes. they are still in the rotation.

four year ago i was trying to get used to life without lucy.

five years ago i was obsessed with the cicadas.

today, i was sick. i've caught a not-quite-summer cold. i had plans to see a movie with a friend and maybe grab a cocktail with a new friend. i was going to have dinner with my mother-in-law who is in town for the weekend. none of that happened. i stayed in bed all day, reading, wishing i felt better. tomorrow, i'll feel better.

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saturday stats

for the week of june 3 - 9:

  • exercise - of any kind: 3 times
  • number of smoothies: 4
  • number of glasses of green juice: 6
  • meals involving pizza: 1
  • meals involving piles of vegetables: 5
  • pints of snap peas eaten: 5
  • i cooked: 4 times 
  • i baked: strawberry cupcakes 
  • letters written: 2
  • packages sent: 10
  • things made: 8
  • photos taken and edited: 189
  • best thing i watched: the entire first season of west wing
  • books read: gone girl by gillian flynn
  • days i wore no socks: 7
  • living room (and kitchen) dance parties: 1  
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the artist

i noticed the artist was plating at the bagdad theater this weekend. i really wanted to see it, we love the bagdad and it seemed like it would be a fun thing to do with shawn's mom. so, we went tonight. first off, i'm certain the bagdad was the perfect place to see this movie - an old movie palace for an old-fashioned movie about movies. beyond that, there's nothing about it i didn't love. there was tap-dancing and john goodman and a cute dog and hats! oh and did i mention the tap dancing? well, there was tap dancing.

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music monday

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things i love tuesday (a short list)

these new necklaces and hair things i've been making with silk yoyos and vintage handkerchiefs. they're so much work but i think they're lovely. 

the west wing. i'd been thinking about it a lot lately. the election, i suppose. then, last week, kathryn joosten passed away. she played my favorite character on the show, mrs. landingham - maybe one of my favorite characters of all time. anyway, i decided i needed to watch. i started season 3 this afternoon. (i watch a lot of tv while working. don't judge.) its so good. the best actually. an episode i watched earlier today is going to need its own blog post. plus, its making me really excited for aaron sorkin's new show

diane's new bunny plush toys. i thought it couldn't get any cuter than the monsters. the girl's a genius, y'all.

these two new colorfriends. so pretty i could die.

this picture of shawn & i from yesterday. i am totally giving him a look behind my sunglasses. quelle surprise.


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