Monday, December 22

Hanukkah Snow Storm!

Hanukkah Snow Storm


What an amazing storm... Portland has seen record snow fall - the most in 40 years! Our original Hanukkah guests were not able to make it over to our house, but our neighbors and nearby friends were happy to fill in!

Monday, December 8

Friendship!

I discovered Kelly Corrigan last year during my breast cancer scare. If I have learned anything over the past year, it has been to value my friendships and relationships. We are all stretched and pressed for time and too often we let days, weeks, months and years go by without keeping in touch. Let's all try to slow down in 2009 and make phone calls, write letters, have coffee, whatever it takes to keep in touch and support each other.

Author Kelly Corrigan wrote this moving essay about women's remarkable capacity to suport each other, to laugh together, and to endure. The full text is available in the paperback edition of her memoir, The Middle Place, on sale December 23, 2008.

Saturday, October 18

Going offline

It seems that everyone around us is struggling to simplify their lives, yet we are all busier and more stressed than ever. What is with that?!

Tyler and I have decided that it has something to do with the computer.

It is a bold experiment but effective immediately, we are going offline. We will not be logging into the computer at home. It is going to be difficult. Who knows if it is even possible.

Call us or better yet swing by for a visit.

Friday, October 10

Friday Finds under $5: GoGo Squeez


I was thrilled to find Materne GoGo Squeeze Applesauce on the go at Fred Meyer today for $3.99 (package of 4). As many of you know we were fortunate enough to spend three weeks in France this summer. While we were in Paris, Henry attended a summer camp at the Bilingual Montessori school. I had to pack him a lunch every day. Clearly he ate a lot of baguette and he also was a huge fan of this applesauce in a tube. He has asked for this product several times since we have been home and I haven't been able to find anything other than yogurt in a tube. I have never been a fan of yogurt in a tube... It is not allowed at my son's preschool and honestly it seems like it would make a terrible mess. These tubes of applesauce have a little plastic valve and cap. There is no mess.

Friday Finds under $5: ¿Por Qué No?


The truth is $5 doesn't buy you much these days...
Last night I had dinner with a friend at one of my favorite restaurants. ¿Por Qué No? recently opened a second location on SE Hawthorne and 46th (In addition to their N. Mississippi location). This place is funky and fun. The food is mighty tasty and very affordable.
Their menu has many items under $5. You can even get a delightful sangria for $5 or small margarita for $4.50 during their happy hour (3-6) or all evening on Tuesdays. There are 9 delicious soft shell tacos that cost between $2.25 and $5. What are you waiting for? Go there... "Why not?"

Friday, October 3

Boot Camp - Don't make me do this alone!


Seriously... come do this with me. I need you.
I start on Monday at 5:30 AM (sharp)
4 mornings a week (M-TH) for 4 weeks.
Here are the details.... Power Outdoor Fitness.
Come on... It will be fun. Really!

Tuesday, September 30

L'Shana Tovah (A good new year)

In celebration of Rosh Hashanah I thought I would share this important (and funny!) video message from Sarah Silverman.

The Great Schlep

Monday, September 29

Wipe-out!


Henry is loves his new Kettler balance bike. We spent the weekend practicing stunts at Foothills Park in Lake Oswego. He was pretty proud of this video.

Friday, September 26

Friday Finds: Some of my favorite things that cost less than $5

My new favorite dessert!
$5 will buy you the most delicious and adorable chocolate cream pie at Baker & Spice Bakery. This little pie is a gem with rich chocolate pudding, whipped cream that is very lightly sweetened, and the yummiest chocolate shortbread crust that has the perfect touch of salt. If you haven't been yet, be sure to visit Baker & Spice Bakery in Hillsdale. You will find many treats for under $5.


Baker & Spice
6330 SW Capitol Hwy
Portland, Oregon 97239

Tuesday, September 23

Thrifty Tuesday: A shiny clean car


View Larger Map

This morning I took a risk. For a year I have been driving by this abandoned building located at N Fremont and N Vancouver. It is located about a half mile from my office. There is a small, hand written sign that says, "hand wash". There are usually a few guys hanging around and not more than one car. As I drive by I see some hoses, buckets and sponges around the back. I always think, "I wonder if that place is any good", but it really looks too suspicious to try without a strong recommendation.

This morning I was desperate. My car was embarrassingly dirty. Once you have a child, your car is always filled with crumbs, sand and dirt. I decided that I was going to give that place a try. I was greeted by a kind man with a thick African accent. I asked if I could leave the car and return at noon. He said that would be fine and I gave him my car keys. That was it... no receipt... No business name... no telephone number... I wondered if I would ever see my car again. I wondered if I had done something really foolish.

I walked back at noon, and from a block away I saw my shiny red car safely parked in the parking lot. The same man greeted me and was pleased to show me the car. It was thoroughly cleaned inside and out. Every crumb had been vacuumed, the surfaces had been dusted, the windows were cleaned, the wheels were polished and the car was shiny and clean.

I was very relieved and thrilled that I found a wonderful new car wash. The best part is it only cost $20! I was told that it is usually $14 (when the inside is not so dirty).

If you live in Portland, be brave (or foolish) and give them a try!

Saturday, September 20

Sunday Splurges: Historic Columbia River Highway


I originally envisioned Sunday Splurge posts to focus on things that cost a lot, but are well worth it. Last Sunday our family splurged on driving time instead of dollars. We packed up our bikes and drove over 60 miles East on I-84 to the Columbia River Gorge to the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail. This five mile paved trail is located between Hood River and Mosier. It sits about 500 feet above the river with basalt bluffs and signature wooden guardrails. It is a bit indulgent to pack up and drive over an hour for a short ten mile roundtrip bike ride, but the views are breathtaking. It was a lovely afternoon.

Therapeutic Sport Riding




This fall we are offering our son a new experience to strengthen his gross & fine motor skills and increase his stamina and self esteem. Yesterday Henry participated in his first class at Forward Stride, a therapeutic equestrian center. Henry was really nervous at first, but then quickly adjusted once he got on his horse, Blesie. He learned to instruct the horse to move, "WALK ON" and to tell the horse to stop, "WHOA". He was able to ride around the arena holding a ball over his head and he also played catch while sitting on Blesie's back. He did a great job and really enjoyed it. He will now be placed in a small group class and attend a weekly lesson.

Friday, September 19

Nature Hikes With Alex




Over the past month, Henry has made a great new friend with our neighbor, Alex. They have enjoyed fabulous adventures throughout Portland. It is sweet to see the way Henry looks up to Alex. Alex makes him feel like a cool kid. We have been working with Henry to increase his endurance and strengthen his body. I can see that he really pushes himself around Alex. Sadly, we had to say goodbye to Alex this weekend, as he is returning to college. We will look forward to him coming home over the holidays. Thanks Alex for some fun adventures!

Friday Finds: Some of my favorite things that cost less than $5


Have your tried Plugra yet?
Plugra (pronounced PLOO GRA), is a European style butter lower in moisture and higher in butterfat than conventional butters. Once you get hooked on it, you will not want to ever eat conventional butter again. It costs about $4 for an 8 oz. bar. It is so worth it.

Splurge a little and buy a salted block for your butter dish today!

Thursday, September 11

Friday Finds: Some of my favorite things that cost less than $5

I have been inspired to revamp my blog. I am pleased to introduce...

Friday Finds (under $5): Here I will share some of my favorite little pleasures that won't break the bank.
Sunday Splurges: Things that may cost a lot, but are well worth it.
Thrifty Tuesdays: My thoughts about money saving tips or ideas.

With that I must tell you about my favorite new gelato flavor for 2008. Last spring Mio Gelato introduced a new flavor, Yoggi, Italian-style yogurt gelato.
I know... you are probably thinking, "frozen yogurt... been there, done that... not interested". NO... trust me. Yogurt gelato is nothing like any frozen yogurt you had in the past. It is so creamy and rich, yet it has a delightful tart and tangy flavor. It turns out this flavor is also wildly popular in France. I enjoyed this fabulous combination of yogurt gelato with mango sorbetto when we were in Paris this summer. Fruit gelato is the perfect compliment to this flavor.

Seriouly... go and try it. It is so good. You can easily get a double scoop for well under $5. Enjoy!

Goodbye Burley... Hello Trailer Bike!



Last week we sold our Burley. I'm pleased to report that we were able to get $300 for it on Craig's list. We thought it was time to give our son a more active role during our bike adventures so we purchased a trailer bike. We have been out on three rides now. Last week we rode down to Sellwood - about 20 miles RT. We indulged in yummy treats at Grand Central Bakery and played in Sellwood Park. Henry loves his new bike. He looks very confident and strong when he rides.
video

Multnomah Falls



We have lived in Portland for over 9 years now and we have never been to Multnomah Falls. For months now, Henry has expressed an interest in visiting the falls. Last week we finally made the short 45-minute drive. Henry was determined to hike to the top of the falls. The hike was a moderate, 2.2-mile hike with 700 feet of elevation gain to the top. This was a great accomplishment for our 4-year old. We had a great time and look forward to going back to the gorge and exploring some of the other hikes and falls in the area.

Thursday, September 4

The Final Chapter


They did it! My husband and son are reading the final chapter of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. It has taken three weeks to get through 17 chapters, but clearly they both enjoyed it. Henry has really taken to chapter books this summer. In addition to James and The Giant Peach, We have also read the first four books of the Magic Tree House Series. Tomorrow they are planning to begin Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Saturday, August 23

The Last Days of Summer


Technically there are 30 days left to summer, but as far as I'm concerned there are only 9 days left. Once September arrives, Labor Day passes, Duck Football kicks-off and the new school year begins you can't ignore that autumn is upon us. Somehow this summer really got away from us. We made this list and hope to squeeze in these activities before we launch into the lovely season of fall leaves, pumpkins, and Halloween!

1. Go to Jamison Fountain
2. Take bike rides on the Springwater Corridor Trail
3. Visit Oaks Park
4. Go to the Wilson Pool
5. Go blackberry picking and make homemade blackberry ice cream

Monday, August 18

Vicky Cristina Barcelona



It has been months since Tyler and I had a normal Sunday night date. Last night we finally got out for dinner and a movie. Woody Allen's newest movie is fantastic! It was so much fun... I felt like I spent two hours in Barcelona. We topped off the evening with tapas at Andina and gelato at Mio Gelato. It was a much needed retreat!

Friday, August 1

Summer Reading!

One of the unique pleasures of Tyler's sabbatical has been finding the time to read and enjoy books. Over the past few months he has read the following:
THE HOBBIT
THE CATCHER IN THE RYE
BEL CANTO
THE MONKEY WRENCH GANG
A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES
FIERCE INVALIDS HOME FROM HOT CLIMATES
PORTNOY'S COMPLAINT
THE OTHER

Sadly, my list is much shorter...
UNACCUSTOMED EARTH

Henry's list is way too long to attempt. We usually read at least three books a day. His recent highlight is JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH.
It is very exciting to successfully read long chapter books that extend over many nights. He is really enjoying this!

Henry's 1st "driveway moment"



As we were driving home from swim lessons tonight, we were listening to Fresh Air on OPB. Terry Gross was interviewing Paul Anka about writing the song MY WAY for Frank Sinatra. Henry was absolutely consumed. As we were pulling into the driveway Henry insisted that we keep the radio on. He was absolutely silent as we listened to Frank Sinatra sing MY WAY and he asked that we play the next song. We finally talked him into coming upstairs and we played an old Sinatra Duets CD and danced around the living room. I guess the boys loves Sinatra!

Sunday, July 27

NW Trek




We did it! We had our first family camping adventure.
We went to S'mores & Snores at NW Trek, a 750 acre wildlife park between Olympia and Mount Rainier in Washington State. We rented gear from REI and ventured off into the "wilderness". It was a bit of a nightmare and a bit of fun. On the whole we decided that we need to get out for at least one camping adventure every summer. It will certainly take a bit of practice and getting used to. Henry did great! Mom and dad have a way to go.

Tuesday, July 22

Easy Rider


My sweetie is coming home tomorrow... I can't wait!
As part of Tyler's sabbatical he planned a 10-day trip to Montana to do a motorcycle ride with his dad and spend time with reminiscing with his high school buddies in Butte, MT. Tyler and his dad rode 1,000 miles in three days. His brother and sister-in-law also flew to Missoula to spend some time with him. It sounds like it has been a fun and relaxing getaway.

As for me... I have been surviving (barely!). I am not cut out for single parenting. Henry has been busy with his summer preschool program and I have been working. Henry and I spent the weekend in Pacific City at my friend's parent's beach house. It was a lovely getaway, but the two 4-year old boys were a handful. They terrorized each other (and especially their moms!). Next time we need to coordinate a sitter.

Thursday, July 17

It has been a journey



Seven months ago, my routine 40-year old mammogram revealed an irregular mass. Since then I have had 5 mammograms, a sterotactic core-needle biopsy, a MRI, a PEM scan and ultimately a lumpectomy in my left breast.
It has been scary.
It has been stressful.
It has been concerning.

In the end, I have been lucky. Today I learned today the mass is not cancer.
I have learned much through the process.
Life is fragile and it can change too quickly... unfairly...

Today, I escaped, but many have not. This journey has introduced me to some very inspiring people, like Kelly Corrigan. I just learned that Kelly will be in Portland in August and I am working to put an event together. I hope to post more details soon.

Tuesday, July 8

Shaun the Sheep and other BBC favorites


The BBC has a fabulous children's network called CBeebies. The programming is so much more clever than U.S. programs.
We were turned on to a fabulous Nick Park (of Wallace and Gromit fame) program called Shaun the Sheep.

Charlie and Lola is another popular program. We love this show. There is a U.S. site where you can purchase (U.S. compatible) DVDs.

Our final favorite is Mama Mirabelle's Home Movies. This show airs on PBS on Saturday mornings. It is such a great show. I wish we could see more of it.

Saturday, July 5

Postcard From London: Wrapping Up




It is hard to believe our trip is over. We will take a taxi to Heathrow at 8 AM in the morning. This is an expensive splurge, but we can't bear the thought of lugging all our stuff (and the kid) again. The transitions are really exhausting! We are willing to pay any price to not have to haul our bags down another street or through another subway station. 
We arrived in London on Friday evening (July 4). We are staying at a great hotel in Tralfalgar Square. London is dramatically different than Paris. This is a party town... It reminds me of a Boston. Bar crowds pour into the streets and alcohol is consumed massively. It's like a big frat party. People are dressed more casually... t-shirts, shorts and jeans. The people are fatter and louder (It seems like there are a lot of Americans here). 
It feels really nice to stay at a hotel for a change. Once we got settled into our room we went across the street to a traditional English pub for dinner (Sherlock Holmes). It was wild chaos! We managed to get some beer and fish & chips. This morning we signed up for a tour program. It was probably our best opportunity to see the city in one day with a 4-year old. We also took a river cruise on the Thames and took a ride on the London Eye. Henry needed a long nap, so we spend a few hours at the hotel. We wrapped up the evening at a fun, kid-friendly restaurant called Giraffe
See you in Portland!

Wednesday, July 2

Postcard From France - Thank you Brooke!


Our friend Brooke lives in Paris with her husband and son Felix (age 15 months). Brooke is the daughter of our good friends Helen & Dennis in Eugene. Brooke and Dave moved to Paris two years ago for Dave's work (astrophysicist). Brooke has been a god-send with kid-friendly planning in Paris. She has a great network of English-speaking moms living in Paris. Brooke was so helpful in helping us to decide on the best neighborhoods to stay in, the best kid-friendly activities, the best parks, she introduced us to Henry's summer camp, she lent us her pousette (stroller) and has even shared her babysitter Pierre. Pierre will come over and watch Henry for our last night in Paris. Thank you Brooke for helping to make our trip so easy! 

Paris is a very intimidating and overwhelming city. We are grateful that we had Brooke to "hold our hands" through many of the rough spots. Today Brooke and Felix joined us for an afternoon of champagne and treats from the Le Grand Epicerie (The Whole Foods/ Dean & Deluca of Paris). It was our first rainy day, so it was nice to spend time in our apartment and do some entertaining.

It is hard to believe that we will be back in Portland in a few days (Sunday night). We leave Paris on Friday afternoon. We will take the train to London and spend two nights in there before flying home on Sunday morning.

Tuesday, July 1

Postcard From France - Parisian Life


We are settling into Parisian life. Paris is much like New York City. It is thrilling and exhilirating, yet it is busy, stressful and exhausting. You come to a big city for excitement and adventure - not rest and relaxation. Big cities and young children are a challenging mix. We have to remind ourselves constantly to keep our plans simple, allow for a lot of extra time and be mentally prepared to spend a lot of money. 
With that said, we are making the most of Paris. On Sunday we went to the Jardin des Plantes where they have a charming zoo. Later we met Henry's pediatritan, Dr. Gopal, and her family. At Henry's recent 4-year old appointment we learned that our trips would overlap. They decided to spend 5 nights in Paris on their way to India. I was impressed with how much they were able to do traveling with 2 girls (ages 11 and 8) and a 7-month old INFANT! They made it to practically every site and museum! We met at the famous Berthillon ice cream shop. Again, I sampled "salted butter caramel."
Yesterday, we raced to get out of the apartment by 8:30 AM. We have been on "vacation time" so that was no easy task. We rode a bus to Henry's school (Bilingual Montessori School of Paris). He is attending a summer program for 3-6 year olds for one week. He seemed to enjoy it. On Friday he will take a field trip to the Centre de la Mer et des Eaux (Aquarium).
Yesterday we ventured to the other side of Paris to visit a special boulangerie and Parc des Butte Chaumont. It was a glorious sunny day... Henry rode the carousel (the French love carousels... they are EVERYWHERE!) and he played a fun carnival-type game where he caught moving plastic fish for a toy prize.

Sunday, June 29

Postcard From France - Back in Paris



On Friday we returned to Paris. Transitioning through train stations and subways with all our gear was not easy. We are in a different apartment - 106 Rue d'Assas - on the other side of Luxembourg Gardens, in the 6th. It is nicer than we expected. We went to the grocery store and stocked up on some essentials for the week. We made a simple dinner at home and settled into our comfy beds. The French seem to really have a wonderful appreciation of fine bedding and wonderful quality linens.
On Saturday we ventured out toward the Eiffel Tower. We spent some time in the Champs-de-Mar and Henry got to ride a pedal-powered go-cart and ride a donkey at the base of the Eiffel Tower. I have been using CLOTILDE'S EDIBLE ADVENTURES IN PARIS as my food bible of places to go. I was excited to finally try some "salted butter caramel" ice cream at Martine Lambert. Meghan was wonderful enough to offer to babysit Henry on her last night in Paris. We are very sad to see her go. Our trip would not have been a vacation without her. Thank you Meghan. We love you more than you can imagine!

Saturday, June 28

Postcard from Burgundy VI: Our last day in Beaune



We wanted to do something special for our bike and walking guide Florent Leroux. We learned that he was celebrating his 40th birthday so we asked if he would have a glass of wine with us. It was clear that Florent is no stranger to the best wine and food and Burgundy so we wanted to get something really special. We strolled through Beaune looking for the perfect bottle. We finally came upon a shop with a very helpful English speaker. He was quick to point out a very rare and special bottle of port from 1968 - Florent's birth year. Wow... How can we beat that?! Florent joined us at the apartment and we celebrated over this very unique 40-year old wine. Later Abby and Meghan joined us for Kir Royals - my new favorite apertif!

Thursday, June 26

Postcard from Burgundy V: Burgundy on foot



Tyler and I returned from our 3-night "on foot" adventure yesterday. On the whole it was great. The walking was very beautiful. It was much more challenging than we anticipated. It was HOT and the sun was mighty intense. We didn't realize how heavy our packs would be... we didn't realize we would go over so many hills and travel on narrow footpaths... we didn't think about missing trail markers and getting a bit lost.... Mostly, we thought every village would have at least a small store and restaurant. We were wrong! 
Day #1 Beaune to Puligny-Montrachet
Splurge night at La Maison d'Olivier LeFlaive 
We walked about 10 miles... flat and easy. The challenge was time. We didn't leave Beaune until 4:30 PM. We arrived by 8 PM. We had a shower and then indulged in the special tapas menu.
Day #2 Puligny-Montrachet to Saint Romain
This was a very challenging day. We walked about 12 miles through steep hills and rugged little footpaths. It took us 5-6 hours before we finally arrived in Saint Romain. We were hot, thirsty and exhausted. We were shocked and horrified to learn that the one restaurant in town was CLOSED (on Mondays and Tuesdays). There was no store, no bar, no bakery... NOTHING!
We found our B&B Domain Corgette. The owner had left a note that she had an emergency and had to leave until 6 PM. She left the key so we were able to get into our room. I raided the house looking for a cold drink... ANYTHING! All I could find was milk, butter, yogurt, and confiture (jam). By amazing luck, we passed a school on the way to the B&B. We saw a teacher and children playing in the schoolyard. We called the teacher over to ask if he knew of any place for us to get a cold drink. Fortunately he spoke English. He was able to see that we were in a bad situation. He told us to come back to the school at 7 PM. He said that the kids were doing a special little concert and there would be beer. Our inn keeper returned around 6 PM and informed us that we didn't have any options other than taking a taxi to Beaune for dinner, so we went to the concert... hoping. Sure enough it was a charming evening. Elementary-aged children from three villages played the drums and sang sweet little French songs. At 7:30 there was an intermission and cold refreshments were served. We bought SEVEN beers (one for the kind teacher who invited us). It still didn't look like we would be able to get any dinner. The kind and generous teacher Ivan told us that we should stay until the end of the concert. He explained that all of the families have brought food (and wine) for a "potluck" (not his word).  We are so glad that we did. Word started to spread among the French families as to who we were and why we were there. There was an outpouring of kindness and generosity. Most of the families did not speak English, but we tried our best to communicate. People were filling our plates and pouring wine in our glass. We finally met a lovely mom named Sophie. Her English was great and she took us under her wing. We ended up having the best evening on our trip. We stayed until after 11 and walked home rather full and intoxicated. It was an evening that we won't forget.
Day #3 Saint-Romain to Meloisey
This was our shortest walk... maybe only 3-4 miles, but we still had a few good climbs. We were happy to get into Meloisey by 1 PM... We were ready to rest and relax at our B&B Marie Calou. As you might have noticed from the link, everything is in French. Our lovely host, Marie Helene, did not speak any English. Really... NOTHING!!. We tried our best to speak some French to her and NOTHING... she didn't seem to understand us. We had a complete communication failure. Our concern was Meloisey also had no restaurant, store or bakery. We needed Marie Calou to make us dinner and we couldn't seem to understand if she would. She was kind enough to wash our very stinky clothes... Finally at 4 PM I mustered up the courage to tell her that we were thirsty (J'ai soif) and we would like a cold drink (Je voudrais boissson froid). Hooray... she understood and gave me a coke and an orangina. She gave us glasses, but no ice. I wasn't about to try and ask for that. I don't know the word for "ice". We were thrilled to have these cool drinks by the pool. Oh yes... her property was delightful with a really nice pool. At 7 PM we went into the dining room. She continued to try and explain something. We finally realized that she was telling us that she had other dinner plans. She offered us wine, bread, cheese and a charcuterie platter.  We had not eaten since breakfast. We were so hungry. It was all wonderful.
Day #4 Meloisey to Beaune
This would have been probably the longest and most difficult walk. We decided that we were not up for it. We were eager to return to Beaune by noon, so we managed to get a ride from Marie Calou. Perhaps our communication improved slightly, but we still had no idea what she was saying. It was very kind of her to drive us to town.