Archive for May, 2007

A Nod to Aging

Now that I’ve reached past my thirties, I’ve begun to notice a dramatic difference in my skin. The plus side is that acne has mostly become a thing of the past, but the negative side is that wrinkles, large pores and freckles from too many outdoor adventures and not enough sunscreen are starting to make a permanent show.

Luckily I have a blend of my mother’s somewhat wrinkle resistant oily asian skin and my father’s fairer and finer-pored white american skin. I know I need to start being more careful in the sun because age spots like my mother’s could be a problem. Is it possible to have age spots at 32? If so, I think I may have found one.

Lotion with a built-in sunscreen has been a toiletry staple for me ever since I bought my first bottle of Mary Kay lotion SPF 15 from my friend Janine’s sister about 8 years ago. I had moved in with Janine for a few months in St. Paul, MN between jobs in Yosemite National Park, CA. All that high desert altitude and sun could have been seriously damaging, but thankfully I believed in the power of sunscreen even then.

I’ve long since outgrown Mary Kay, but not my SPF. Most recently I found a great product at L’Occitane – their Immortelle Very Precious Fluid. I decided to try for the big guns (and unfortunately big bucks). It’s an anti-aging product that “mattifies and brightens” plus includes a full SPF 40. See? I wasn’t kidding about the big guns. It was time to go for the full defensive.

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Day Trippin’ – Hood River, Maryhill and Stonehenge

Today we decided to go to Maryhill Museum in Goldendale, Washington, about 1 1/2hrs from Portland. The drive took us through the magnificent Columbia River Gorge, past incredible waterfalls (like the famous Multnomah, the second highest year-round waterfall in the United States), two huge dams (the Bonneville and the Dalles, where Google’s new 30 acre campus is located), and mountainous rock walls and sparkling river views.

Columbia River Gorge Farm Breakfast

We’ve explored the Gorge on many previous trips, so today we drove straight through, except for one important detour to the Historic Columbia Gorge Hotel, located in Hood River. I had heard about their “World Famous Farm Breakfast” and thought it would be a perfect way to start the morning, especially since we would have already been on the road for about an hour.

The 5-course breakfast is a fun treat for $30/person. Seating is in a “morning room” to the left of the main dining area with beautiful views of the river and the hotel’s well-maintainged landscape. When you arrive the table is preset with a pedestal fruit tray, then comes a whole baked apple and delicious crispy apple fritter, oatmeal with brown sugar, a choice of entree – I chose the rainbow trout with 3 farm eggs and hashbrowns and David chose the croissant with smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, and to finish a country biscuit with butter and local wildflower honey. A lot of food, but all so scrumptous! Afterwards, we spent a little time exploring the gardens and grounds, including the view of the 207-ft Wah-Gwin-Gwin Falls. I can see why this hotel is so popular for weddings and other special occasions.

Maryhill Museum of Art was maybe another half hour east of Hood River. The museum collection was nice, but not one I would likely visit again, although they did have a nice collection of Faberge, Rodin sculptures, and memorable international chess sets among the other fine art. I preferred the view and the outdoors, especially the current Outdoor Sculpture Invitational. And curiously, there were quite a few wild peacocks randomly roaming around. Their call is something awful and I was startled more than once by an eruption of loud barking screams. They seem to wander freely and we were able to get surprisingly close.

Maryhill, Peacock, Scenic View

Another unique part of Maryhill is its full-scale replica of England’s Stonehenge. Apparently Sam Hill, the wealthy entrepreneur who bought the 6,000 acres of land overlooking the Columbia River, erected the structure as a world war 1 memorial as a reminder that ‘humanity is still being sacrificed to the god of war.” I wonder how he’d feel knowing that almost 100 years later, that remains to be true.

Maryhill, Stonehenge, Scenic View

The winds at Stonehenge were so fierce while we were there that we stayed only long enough to snap a few photos and take in the blustery view. We could barely stand in one place, so we decided to head back to Hood River for dinner and a little shopping in their charming historic district. Being Sunday, many shops were closed by the time we arrived, so I definitely plan to come back and look around more another time. David chose the Full Sail Brewery for dinner and were we lucked out with the best two person table in the house – right next to the large back windows with a perfect view of windsurfers and kite boarders in the distance. We even talked about looking into a lesson one day soon.

Columbia River Gorge Scenic Views

After living here for 7 years it is hard to believe there are so many trips like this still out there waiting for us, a mere couple hours away. And the variety of it all, beaches, mountains, canyons, waterfalls, forests, rivers, lakes… there is just so much to see and and experience. Its too easy to think ‘someday I’ll do that…’ instead of making time to do it. So right now I’m really proud of us, and satisfied that our day was so well spent and rewarded.

 All these photos and more can be seen here through my flickr account.

On Feeling Grateful

Its sad, but there are some days when I need a reminder about how grateful I should feel for everything that I have. I mean, when I think about it, I realize that things are pretty darn good. I have a loving husband, a cute little house, a fun dog, a good job, a college education, reliable transportation, friends, family, access to plenty of good food and clean water and pretty much the means to do a lot of things that some people only dream about (if for only a little while, and maybe thanks to a little something called a credit card). Of course, this also means I have a mortgage, a car payment, a huge student loan, the occasional marital spat, and I have to spend 40+ hours a week at cooped up in a downtown office.

I guess I’m having a really hard time with that right now.

What is even harder, it that David is staying at home, trying to make a business for himself, which means that every morning I have to leave him there – that very same place where I would like to stay with all my heart. I don’t think it was this hard before, when he had a regular day job, but it is definitely getting harder.

I asked my friend Marcy how she does it. She’s been working at the same job for like six years and her fiance is a contractor who owns his own business. She gets up early so that she can take the train into town and he stays in bed later because he gets to make his own hours. Thank god David gets up with me, because I couldn’t deal with getting out of bed if he stayed in it. That would be torture. Anyway, I asked her what her secret was and she said “I just don’t think about it.” Right… and how do you do that exactly? I tried and it worked for a little while but it must be my Aquarius mentality because I think about how much I’d rather stay be doing so many other things all the time.

Dewey Color System Profile

Neenah Paper's Dewey Color Book

This morning David and I had breakfast at the Hawthorne Cafe where West Coast Paper Rep Laura Waxlax and Neenah Paper Rep Kerrie Bonner presented great new samples including the new/updated Eames line – which carries some of my favorite papers.

Neenah does a great job designing their samples and they’re always fun to get. This set included an interesting book developed from a simplified version of the Dewey Color System by Dewey Sadka. Dewey’ owns an incredibly succesful employment agency worth millions. He believes that a person’s color preferences can be used as a tool to interpret their personality. Neenah’s version only reveals positve information (naturally).

There are three easy steps to find your profile:

  1. The first choice is between Yellow, Blue or Red. I chose Blue and the paragraph begins by saying “You are a dreamer and a visionary – wistful, imaginative and eccentric…”
  2. The second choice is between Green, Purple or Orange. I chose Green: “You have fun nurturing and supporting others…”
  3. The third and final choice is between black, white or brown. I chose Brown: “Even when they don’t ask, you’re able to tell others what they need. Your amazing awareness instantly identifies practical solutions. Issues are resolved more quickly thanks to your realistic approach and clear understanding of what’s actually required to complete a task. This is your great talent. Use it to promote sound business practices and positive work environments. You are the dream-maker. Everyone benefits from your sound advice, especially you.”

Hmm, I guess I should take my advice more often then.

You can go to the Dewey Color System website to get your own free profile overview.

This Dog Has Changed My Life

Barkley

Today marks Barkley’s second anniversary with us. He is now about 3 and a half years old. Two years ago we walked into the Bonnie Hayes Small Animal Shelter in Hillsboro to look at the possibility of getting a cat, but fate obviously had other plans in store for us.

Today Barkley is pretty much an ideal pet. He’s mild mannered, attentive, trained and just plain fun. We’ve definitely had our ups and downs in the past, particularly right after we brought him home. He was shy and nervous, unsure of his place and how long we would be there to love him since obviously his previous owner did such a horrible job.

Yes, those were the days when we’d come home to find he’d ripped up the floor of his kennel, or tore holes in the sofa cushions. When he’d dig out my freshly planted garden, or catch squirrels, or bark unstoppably while left on the beach when we went out surfing.

Thankfully, he has out-grown those tendencies. His destructive behavior only ever surfaced when he was completely alone and his separation anxiety over-rode his natural, happy-go-lucky self. With the help of days and weeks of repetition where we always returned home to him, 3 sets of obedience classes at PetSmart, a wonderful tool called the KongTime, and a decent backyard for him to explore and protect, Barkley has finally found peace.

Now our days are filled with walks, bike rides, playing fetch, and a small fortune in vacuum bags filled with dog hair. But I can honestly say it is all worth it. Even my husband, who was against getting a dog in the first place, has fallen for Barkley’s big brown eyes and wagging tail (although he’s still unlikely to admit it).

Barkley has found a permanent place in our family, but I count myself as the lucky one.

A Sign from the Heavens

Now that I’ve become more familiar with Etsy, I’ve really been thinking about what I could make and sell. It is something that I’ve always wanted to do, and the fact that there are so many great artists out there, going out on a limb and presenting their own work just inspires me!

So what to make? Naturally, as a graphic designer papergoods are pretty much my specialty. I could always do notecards or wedding invitations, but what about craftier things? I used to enjoy pouring handmade candles before I went back to school for design, and I’ve also made decorative soaps which I gave away as gifts. But what else?

As usual, David came up with a better idea. To start out, we’ll make birdhouses!

He’s been saying for a while now that we should make some birdhouses. He’s made some with his Dad before, and we have the best source of salvaged wood available – from Alex, our contractor friend, who often has leftover wood just waiting to be recycled into something useful.

I checked on Etsy and there are a lot of birdhouses for sale, some only decorative, some usable, and some just random. Our goal is to make ours more modern – not overly cute, and definitely with the purpose of actually housing wild birds. Our long lasting cedar houses will be made with specific, bird-friendly features, and the modern design will be in the form of painted details.

And get this – this is what’s truly startling – while I was sitting down at my computer to update my blog this weekend A BIRD’S NEST FELL FROM THE SKY! Isn’t that bizarre? It scared the shit out of me because my computer is right beside the window. The nest fell with a THUMP and got partially caught on the gutter, where it lay dangling like a shoe caught up on an electrical wire.

David went out to investigate and pull it down. Turns out it must have fallen from the pine tree next to our office window. David said he saw a raven flying around making a lot of noise up there. See? Little birds need the safety of a good birdhouse! I don’t know if this nest was already used to nurture baby birds or if it was being made in preparation, but after taking a few photos (see below) we left it there in case the owner wanted to reclaim it (or pieces of it).

Bird Nest

Bird Nest

Bird Nest Detail

I have never seen a nest quite like this one before. I’ve seen twig nests, but this one was more like a woven or felted pouch. It was made with all kinds of things – lichen, moss, fibers, hair (likely from our dog, Barkley), paper, miniature twigs, plant material, downy feathers (which makes me wonder if it already served its purpose) and other things I just don’t recognize. But it was put together like a pro, and the photo does not do it’s craftmanship justice. What a weird thing to have happen.

So what greater sign do we need, than to have a bird’s nest fall from the sky?

Golden Calendula Heart

Calendula

Every once in a while I take a photo that I really love, and this calendula shot fits that bill. The color just turned out so rich and warm – like it glows from within. And the texture and details! Its all there, captured in a moment of nature’s perfection.

Calendula, also known as “pot marigold,” is very hardy, long blooming and easy to grow. I started some last year in the flower garden from a packet of Lilly Miller “Pacific Beauty” seeds. Although they are annuals, a couple survived over the winter and sprouted several baby plants this year. Calendula is considered a fairly versatile plant – the petals are thought to be edible (beautiful in salads), and as an herb it has properties that can reduce inflammation. I’ve seen it most often used in “calming” products like herbal teas and diaper ointment. I’ve also read that when planted near tomato plants in the garden, marigolds help to discourage aphids.