Monday, February 28, 2011

Portland Walk: Pittock Mansion

It wasn't the best weather for a long walk this weekend, but I had the thought that tromping around mansion grounds on a kind of bleak winter day might be kind of neat. It ended up being a six mile walk that took us up about 850 ft. in elevation! Even though visibility was low, it's still neat to be up that high and have a great view of the city:

View View of Portland

After hiking all that way we weren't really up for a tour, but I'm sure we will be back at some point to check out the house. It's huge, built in 1909, originally for the publisher of the Oregonian. As we hiked towards it I found myself wondering just how hard it would've been to built such a large house up in the hills that long ago. The wikipedia entry about the house also says it's a great birdwatching location so there are more than a few reasons to make this trip again. Meanwhile, my suspicions were correct and it looked great in the misty, wet weather, even if it proved especially difficult to keep drops of water off my lens:

Pittock Mansion

Hiking through the Northwest neighborhood was interesting as well, with a lot of architectural styles represented, elaborate landscaping and sculptures in many of the yards. Many of the houses had a quaint cottage feel, and most of them looked deceptively small and private from the street. I'm sure the other side of most of these homes is covered in large windows to take in the views. But on the street side fences and hedges, or sometimes both:

Cottage Hedge

When we got home it took a while to dry ourselves and warm up, but it was satisfying to explore a new part of town and see some really interesting houses.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Portlandia Episode 6: Last One!

Okay, so I'm not a sports fan whatsoever, so I wasn't thrilled to hear the last episode was called baseball. But it was fine, hilarious actually. The Mayor (Kyle McLaughlin) asked Carrie and Fred to put together a team (which he wants to call "the thinkers" so that's more up my alley.) So they ran tryouts like a casting call:

More of this throughout the episode, and the Mayor is always funny. Again, I loved the opening sketch a spoof of political commercials which claimed it was putting unemployed Portland residents to work finishing each others sentences. There was more from the Feminist Bookstore (yay!) and if you've ever wondered why photos of chefs always look so goofy, maybe this sketch has the answer.

But that was the last episode until season two. It would be great if the season is longer than six episodes next year. I'm looking forward to it!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Tumblr Finds February: Illustration, Food & Knit Inspiration

I've finally decided there's just too much awesome stuff on tumblr to go without sharing some of what I've found there here as well. Everything from illustration, fashion, food, politics, public art, and architecture, and much much more. Here's just a small sampling of what I've found this month: 


"Kittenwillows" by Melinda Jose illustrator, textile designer & artist from Toronto (via missworld)
Nicolas Le Borgne an illustrator & graphic designer from France (via ElChoko)
Animal vs. Cities Series by Sabella Tsiopani an illustration student in Bristol, UK (via breakalead)


Vegan Thin Mint Recipe from Chef Chloe via Vegansaurus!
Edible Butterflies from Sugar Robot via BarbieGirlie2
Grilled Tofu with Mustard Caper Sauce from My Recession Kitchen via Finding Vegan


You can follow my posts by going to or just watch the blog for more of these recaps! I'm thinking I may do one of these posts near the end of every month, but the topics may vary!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Public Art: Organic Sculptures in Washington Park

Stick Men
Earlier this week, before the snowfall, we went for a walk through Washington Park around dusk. I had no idea these sculptures were there, so at first, especially at dusk, they startled me a bit. There are 3 total, located not too far from the playground, but the third was a bit further out of the way and the park was still very muddy. Later we found out via Cary Clarke from the Mayor's office on twitter that the artist is Nico Jose, a recent graduate of Lewis & Clark College with a double major in environmental studies and studio art. According to his site, he's currently working on a project in the Philippines.

I also thought spring was right around the corner before we got all snowed on. Here's why:
Chinese Paper Tree Springing Hellebores

The cool tree on the left was fortunately labeled as a "Chinese paper tree", but I still don't know what the middle one is called. My Mom identified the flower on the right for me as a Hellebore/Lenten Rose. And I think this one is a fancy crocus coming up. (I like photographing flowers, I just wish I were better at identifying them.) There seem to be a lot of the Lenten Roses in bloom right now here, in white, darker purple, etc. but that was the prettiest one I've seen yet. We did stroll through the Rose test garden a little, and I think it was the emptiest we've seen it yet, although there was one larger bush in bloom. I was tempted to take some pictures of the trimmed rose bushes with moss growing on them, but instead I focused on the views:

Trees & Snowy

And later as the sun set there was a very distinct pink glow hitting part of the city that you can see in this pic. I think there's always some great reason to go climb up into Washington park, views, flowers, art, or to visit the Japanese gardens. Not to mention you get to put some effort in for a 300 ft.+ elevation change! Not bad for a short evening stroll.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

New Etsy Business Cards and Snow!

New CardsIt's always fun to get packages in the mail. Of course I had been anxiously checking my order status since I ordered these new cards from Vistaprint on the 12th. Back when I was making fun new graphics for the blog, shop, etc. I set up a card design too. I wasn't planning on ordering any right away, but after sending out a few orders I realized I was almost out of both the big and little moo cards I had been using. "Yay!" I thought "I get to see how my new design looks printed!"

I'm very happy with how these turned out. The cards stock on these is not as heavy (but still substantial enough to be satisfying) as what you get when you order from moo, but there's also a big price difference. And even though I used the free shipping they got here much faster than I was expecting. I've had fun pairing my moo cards with my packaging, but it will be nice not to have to worry about sending out cards with pictures of items I may not have in stock anymore.

We also got a decent amount of snow today. Well, sort of. It wasn't sticking to the ground much. For a while it was snowing really nicely. (see the image on the left below) Big fat snowing, pretty dense, a perfect winter wonderland. It made me happy and I wanted to go out and frolic in it, but by the time I could get myself wrapped up in coats, etc. the flakes were getting smaller and anything that had managed to stick to the ground was starting to melt. Which in a sense is the ideal snow, pretty when it falls, then it goes away before causing too many problems.

Snow! Snow!

Of course it's a different story for those further out from the city, and some businesses did shut down today. Also, if you're ever curious as to whether it is snowing in Portland, this site will keep you updated!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Music: A Portland Music Video, Emusic Finds & More

This new Portland band AgesandAges released an album last week. I don't have it yet, but I'm excited about it! It's produced by Kevin Robinson from Viva Voce and Blue Giant. And this video was filmed in the St. Johns Neighborhood, with the gorgeous St Johns Bridge (in Cathedral Park) featured heavily at the end:

In other music news, I think my emusic download this month is going to be "Um, Uh Oh" by Say Hi. You can listen to an Exclusive Stream on Paste (a short commercial you seem to be able to skip is first though) I just discovered them by browsing around on emusic, and I really don't know much about them yet but I like what I'm hearing, especially the second track, "Devils."

Of course I went to look at emusic to try and make up my mind about my downloads before the month is through and got distracted by an interview with the band Tennis. (btw, still not adjusted to emusic's switch from credits to'd think it would be a good switch, but I had a good system in place for figuring out how to use all my credits, and I don't seem to be doing as well with the dollar balance.) They talk about meeting as philosophy students and being inspired by an 8 month boat trip they took. Just the sorts of things I love finding out about before I listen to new music. I found this link to a stream of the latest album, .

And lastly, Lucinda Williams is on my list of awesome musicians I really really (really) still need to see perform live. Up until the release date of her new album, which is March 1st, you can listen to it on NPR's First Listen.

Update: AgesandAges should have no spaces, good to know.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Portland Walks: Division & Hawthorne

Fish Gutter Clinton Condos
This weekend we took a long walk out on Division and back on Hawthorne. It was the first time we've gone out along Division St. and there are a few newer buildings we found interesting. A small building had an elaborate gutter/sculpture, on the left, complete with salmon swimming upstream. I really like the Clinton Condos, on the right, by Holst Architects again.  Mostly we were walking through residential areas just appreciating nicely landscaped lawns and plant life. I browsed a little at a used furniture shop and Powell's Home & Garden Bookshop on Hawthorne. 

Horse Project Flying Cat Coffee Co.
Portland has horse hitches installed in the sidewalks all around the city. When I was trying to find out more about the history of that, I found out about The Horse Project. A few years ago someone started attaching toy horses to them. This weekend on Division I found one, and I think it was pretty neat that it was an old wooden one. Also: Flying Cat Coffee. I adore the illustration and the whole idea. We didn't stop by this weekend because it was too late for coffee, but we will be back soon, the name, illustration, etc...just too perfect.

Nirvana Bridge Up
We crossed the Hawthorne bridge twice on this walk, and both times we had to wait on the bridge. Funny since before this weekend we hadn't had that happen yet. The first time was for the Portland Spirit and on the way back a small sail boat. It was a nice day to be out!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Book: Eating Animals

I just finished reading Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals. I was initially drawn into reading this book because I liked the idea of looking at the issues involved in meat eating from the perspective of a new father deciding how to raise his family. It wasn't quite the personal reflection I anticipated and there were aspects of that which I felt worked extremely well, while there were others that I didn't like as much.

Perhaps my favorite moments in this book were the letters from a wide range of people involved in farming. A letter from a someone directly involved in factory farming, one from a man who works for PETA, letters and discussion with a couple who runs a natural ranch one of whom is a vegetarian, and a letter from a vegan who is helping design a chicken slaughterhouse. My favorite was from a chicken farmer describing how much he loves his chickens and how they communicate. Each provided their own personal reflections on what they do, why they eat meat or don't, and the result of this was a book that was intensely personal but in a broader sense.

On the other hand there are quite of a few descriptions of the processes involved, the conditions and so forth, issues that while important, are ones that I've made myself familiar with over the last 10 years of being vegetarian. So it was during these sections I got a little bored and my interest in the book waned somewhat. This is reflected in this chart of my status updates from goodreads, which stretches out over time in the middle.:
But ultimately, I appreciate the way he talked about this information, that the way we farm has changed so drastically in such a short period of time, with a huge impact on so many aspects of our lives.

There were a few things that bugged me a little here and there. At one point in the beginning he makes a random dig at cat people, for example. But those are small, I suppose. He managed to tackle the subject in a way that shows a lot of shades of gray, more complexity to the issue than it is often allowed, while also reflecting upon personal and broad implications of the choice to eat meat. I think the structure of stepping back for most of the book to talk about facts and listen to other points of view made this book feel a bit more honest. Stories about his own family meals and ideas about food at the beginning and end brought back the personal perspective I was looking for. So I ended up giving a rating: 4 of 5 stars, which they say is "I really liked it." 

I actually read the hard copy of this book, which I bought at a small book shop in Hyde Park in Chicago, right before I got my kindle actually. I still do that from time to time. I did miss the highlighting you can do on an e-reader so easily as there were some noteworthy facts presented, and I have to wonder if reading it that way would have affected my enjoyment of some of the information. I think my next read will be Super Sad True Love Story: A Novel which I've already put on my kindle. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Lazy Sunday: Etsy Treasuries

This week I got back into the swing of making a few treasuries on Etsy. Gifts for Knitters. Pretty much directly from my wishlist (yes I think I need a tattoo-inspired headband that says knit with a yarn ball...I'm not getting a tattoo, so it's the next best thing):

and after watching a few old episodes of Star Trek:Deep Space Nine (ah, the 90s) I was in the mood for this. Apparently this is also fairly timely, since George Takei was here in Portland for a fundraiser this weekend. Unfortunately I did not bump into him!:

I was also featured in a treasury which I gather, from checking out craft cult's site, was on the front page around 5am. I was asleep, and I think my item was only an alternate & not quite on the front page. Ah, well, so close, and it's a nice treasury nonetheless.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Portlandia Episode Five

Hotels, Film and Music Festivals were the main targets of the show this week. There's only one clip from this episode I've seen around the internet this week, but it features local musicians Colin Meloy (The Decemberists), James Mercer (The Shins) and Corin Tucker (Sleater-Kinney). And the Deuce obviously has to be something like the Ace Hotels

My favorite sketch was actually the very first one of the episode, unfortunately not available anywhere, involving a fight for poster space on a telephone pole. The Blunderbuss Music festival vs. a lost kitty! Yes, finally a sketch with a cat. When we first moved out to Seattle, I remember hearing something about older residents of the Capitol Hill Neighborhood tearing down concert posters because they considered them unsightly. So it seems pretty likely to me. 

Only one more episode (which is going to be about baseball...hmm) but there was news this week that it will be renewed for season 2! Apparently they announced the renewal on Valentine's Day, which, as it happens was also the 152nd anniversary of Portland's statehood. And here's hoping next season they make full episodes available on Hulu or somewhere similar.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Knitting for a newborn?

A friend's due date is sneaking up on me very quickly, and I just have to knit some things for her. This will be the first time I've knit for a baby or child at all. On one hand I am excited, just envisioning many quickly produced and satisfying F.O.s On the other hand I'm kind of baffled. Babies grow quickly and make messes. What kinds of patterns are good, and what yarn works well? I am thinking it's a pretty safe bet that MACHINE WASHABLE (in all caps like that) is the major factor in yarn choice. However, I'm also thinking softness, and quality are also important in this kind of gift giving.

I may eventually end up stashing for the project(s?) that I chose for this endeavor, but right now I'm thinking about the possibility of using up some stash yarn too. Partly because it is Friday and I'm thinking it might be fun to start off with a nice quick weekend project. Just few of the contenders, and I'm sure I have plenty of bits I could use up too if I find the right project(s) for them:

Caron Spa Sublime Cotonade
Caron Spa: 75% Acrylic, 25% Bamboo, DK, Light Gray, stashed: 1 skein = 251 yards
Sublime Yarns Organic Cotton: 100% cotton, DK, Nutmeg, statshed: 1 skein = 120 yards
Cottonade: 100% Cotton, Worsted, Teal, statshed: 1 skein = 83 yards

I've queued a few projects which I probably have to make at some point, wether it's statsh yarn or requires a purchase. Of course something with a cat is an appropriate gift from me. I think this kitty buddy blanket from Stitch Therapy is pretty adorable:

And booties seem like they'd be quick, fun and use up scrap yarn. These are from Saartje Knits:

I'd like to make a garment too, some kind of sweater, but I'm not sure what age would be best to plan on making it for. And I'm feeling a little overwhelmed since there are so many patterns for babies out there. Any suggestions, yarn recommendations, stories, tips, etc. would be greatly appreciated! 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Portland Walks: Broadway Bridge & Mississippi Ave.

Union Station Restoration Work Resource Access Center Under Construction
First off, before we crossed the bridge, it was nice to see some construction going on! Restoration work on the train station, and a new project by Holst Architects, a "resource access center" which will have a homeless shelter and housing. This article explains the housing project, and this one talks about the station, which looks like it's getting lots of long overdue funding from a variety of sources. On the other hand I was impressed with the amount of settlement happening in this old storefront nearby.

Broadway Bridge Broadway Bridge
We crossed the Broadway bridge for this trip across the river, which means we've now crossed all the pedestrian friendly bridges near the downtown area. Chuck once crossed the Morrison bridge without me, which I guess is not terribly pedestrian friendly, but is doable. So technically I haven't done them all yet. Anyway, I really liked the mural from the Albers Mill building right up against the bridge. I believe it is now only used as an office building, but as an historic building, over 100 years old, things like the mural have been preserved and retouched. I looks great, and there are two illustrations of the peacock.

Mississippi Ave. Cart Area Palmer House
So we wandered around a bit on the other side of the river, eventually ending up on Mississippi Ave. with no particular purpose. It's a nice area though, and a nice mix of food carts, residential, little shops, and restaurants. It was the day before Valentine's day and the flower and wine shops were definitely busy. I had to take a picture of the food cart on the left for my parents. When we were in New York City (all they way back in 2001, yeesh) we saw impressive gem shop comprised of plexiglas and binder clips. This is a little fancier, looks a bit more stable, using reclaimed windows. Possibly from the awesome rebuilding center down the street. On the right is the Palmer house, a Victorian house from 1890.

The View Beyond Fremont Bridge On-Ramps
Heading back into the city we walked under the Fremont Bridge, definitely not one we will be trying to cross on foot. Two four lane decks, and we were walking right under where that all came together.  It reminded me of Celtic knots, so much coming together at the same spot. 

Birds are Interested
Lastly, as we came back across the Broadway bridge, a grain barge had docked, much to the delight of all the birds in the area. We spent a little bit of time watching all the excitement.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Whisper Cardigan: Part Three - the Finished Object (FO)

My Whisper Cardigan is finished! And now that it's done I'm really anxious for spring and summer. It is just a light accessory, really, not providing much in the way of warmth. However, I know when summer rolls around I'm going to love wearing this. It's green, sparkley (that little bit of metallic in the yarn) and really comfortable.

Whisper Cardigan Whisper Cardigan

It's a project that's really all about the back where you can see how all of the pieces come together. I made the last part about 2 inches longer than the pattern calls for (otherwise this is pretty much precisely per the pattern) because the 8" length was definitely way too short for me. Even so, I am not expecting it to tie in the front or meet much at all. I felt like that wouldn't be entirely in the wispy spirit of this pattern. I stopped at a 10" length from the ribbing band because I was getting a little tired of so much stockinette stitch, also because I'm always concerned (perhaps overly) about the potential future use of any scrap yarn. Since I have over an ounce left of it now, that should almost be enough to use for some other small project, though nothing very huge. While I like the idea of trying to get a mini version of knitty's annis, I probably shouldn't convince myself of anything until I do some swatching.

Whisper Cardigan 
This picture gives you a better idea of the fun curling the fronts of the cardigan do, and of the sparkleyness!

The Pattern: Whisper Cardigan by Hannah Fettig from Interweave Knits Spring 2009
The Yarn: Suhrim Trading Co. Ltd.'s Muse in Olive, a Linen, Rayon & Metallic Blend

Read about Part One and Part Two

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Vegan Valentine's Day Treats

Valentine's Day Sausage & Biscuts

Chuck made us a Biscuits, Sausage and Gravy Brunch for Valentine's Day. Fairly simple, just the "gimme lean" sausage that you can find at a lot of grocery stores, and we've been trying out using Bisquick for biscuits and pancakes recently. It seems to work pretty well for both! Chuck used our heart shaped cookie cutter to make it all very adorable! He also improvised the gravy which was yummy.

 Vegan Homemade Oreos

And then we made the Oh-la-las, or Homemade Vegan Oreos, from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. As the cookbook points out, Oreos are already vegan, but making them at home is fun! I'm very glad I decided Valentine's day was the time to try out this recipe. After I mixed up the cookie batter I realized I didn't have the 1.5" round cookie cutter it called for and our heart shaped cutter was probably the next closest thing. I guess heart shaped oreos would still be adorable on any day, but I'm happy that they seemed especially appropriate this week.

Vegan Homemade Oreos 
The process was a little intense so it  helped to be looking at lots of adorable chocolate hearts. It uses a lot of parchment paper for rolling out the dough, cutting out the cookies & then transferring the whole shebang over to the cookie sheet. Assembly was also tricky; smooshing all the filling in place broke a few of the thinner cookies. For the filling, I split the mix in half adding vanilla (per the org. recipe) to one half, and 1/2 tsp. peppermint flavoring and a few drops of red food coloring to the other. So we have pink and white filled hearts! It helps to have a small team to assemble these, which is mentioned in the recipie description. I really love how Isa's cookbooks usually give you such a good idea about what you're getting into before you get started!

I can't believe I've only made two recipes from this cookbook, these Oh la las, and the Lemon Bars:

which is crazy cause there are so many good looking recipes in it. I've been really wanting to try the Vegan Samoas (yeah, like the girl scout cookies, but veganized!) since I got it. So maybe those will be up next, once we recover from all these oreos!