Monday, January 4, 2010

Our "Big Adventure"

Amelia and I decided to make the most of her last day on vacation by going on what she calls a "big adventure". This entails taking the light rail downtown and exploring around. So, despite the rain, drizzle, and darkness, we set out with Zebra, Little Bear, Raggedy Ann, and some spare undies of course. Unlike me, I brought my camera with working batteries and snagged some shots.

Waiting for the train

Riding sideways on the train (can turn it upright in iPhoto, but not here)

Crossing the Steel Bridge over the Willamette River

We arrive at the train station

An obligatory shot in front of the sea lion fountain

Amelia smiling in the Central Library

A nice view out the window in the kids' section of the library

Amelia singing a Christmas carol to me

Reflection of ourselves and the train passing by

Finally, at the right angle. Just before we headed home we got this shot of her in this nice little Mimi-sized nook.

Note: Any hints on getting the pictures to stand upright would be helpful. Thanks.

Monday, December 28, 2009


How am I supposed to keep readers if I only do quarterly posts? Ah well.

Anyways, I got a wad of cash for Christmas--thanks Mom and Dad. I'm going to spend it on a brand new coffee roaster. I usually spend these cash gifts on clothes, which was again my first thought, but I wanted to think outside of the box a bit and get something fun instead. So, I think I've found the model that fits into my price range/needs and lo and behold, I can buy it at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Somehow, it takes the romance out of buying a coffee roaster when you have to walk into a Bed, Bath, and Beyond to pick it up. But hey, I won't have to pay for shipping it online.

So it's the Hearthenware I-Roast 2.
i-ROAST 2 Coffee Roaster
It's got a bunch of nifty settings and ways to control the roasting and I'm super psyched! I can't wait to be able to nuance my roasts instead of the limits that I had trying to roast with a popper. Don't get me wrong, the popcorn popper is an excellent roaster. I'm just excited about the prospect of a new toy.

In other news--

I'm on vacation . . . again!

I'm contemplating violin lessons after a 10 year break.

We were all sick for Christmas, including Amelia with Pink Eye.

Ariana got me a baking stone, cedar incense, and some really fancy socks for Christmas.

I've also caught almost 8 mice in the last month and did a major clean up behind our fridge and under our sink to rid ourselves of the rodents. I still gasp and jump every time I see one run across the kitchen.

Oh, and I borrowed a set of Johnny Cash CDs from the great Olympia Shacks and man, what a genius that Johnny Cash was. I wish I could sing that low.

Well, I'll try to be a bit more consistent here. Take care everyone and thanks for reading.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Our Weekly Bread

Because we (Little A and me) eat a lot of bread around here, we thought it would be good to make some at home instead of always buying it.  So, I came upon a simple, foolproof recipe for Spelt Bread that turns out every time.  It's slightly sweet, very hearty, and it does not have any wheat.  Here's the recipe from The Anti-Inflammation Diet and Recipe Book (I know, not the first place you'd run to for a bread recipe, but hey it's great stuff):

1 tbsp active dry yeast

1 1/4 cups warm filtered water

2 tbsp organic coconut oil, warmed to a liquid consistency

3 tbsp raw honey or brown rice syrup ( I usually do a combo of honey and agave nectar.)

1 1/2 tsp sea salt

3 1/2 to 4 1/2 cups spelt flour (final amount varies on humidity)

Mix 1/4 cup warm water with yeast and let sit 

In large bowl, mix 1 cup warm water, liquified coconut, oil, honey, salt, and 1 1/2 cups of flour.  When yeast is bubbly, add it to the mixing bowl.  Beat generously for 60 seconds to develop the gluten.  Add another cup of flour gradually while stirring to make a soft dough.  

Of a floured board, knead the dough for 10 minutes while gradually adding more flour to form the dough into a round loaf.  Add enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the board,  but not so much that it falls apart.  Form into rectangular shape, place it into a greased bread pan, and set it in  a warm place to rise for an hour.  When the dough has risen slightly, bake at 350 degrees for half an hour.  

This makes one small loaf, so I double the recipe and get two loaves out of it.  Enjoy!

Hot Chicks!

After several months of procrastination I finally completed our chicken coop.  We also got chickens.  Actually, the day I finished the coop, we picked up our hens 15 minutes after I nailed the last board.  This was surprisingly fun.  For a guy that has not even built a box and can barely pound a nail without bending it, this presented quite the challenge.  There's something rather gratifying about making something with your hands.  

We got two chickens, which type I cannot remember.  We decided on Spanish names:  Susana and Carmen.  I still haven't picked them up.  They like A much better as she gives them sweet treats of corn cobs and compost scraps.  They've given us four eggs in total, which were promptly eaten for breakfast on a Saturday morning.  They're taking a break, though, and have lost a considerable amount of plumage.  Hopefully they will lay again soon.  

So here it is:

And I forgot to mention that nothing of this coop is new, except the chicken wire.  All of the wood, the aluminum roofing, the screen door, and the window were obtained second hand through friends or at the wonderful Rebuilding Center.  So, even though it doesn't look like much, I'm darn proud.  And it's still standing.  Ha!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Happy Birthday

My first and only child is celebrating her 3rd birthday today.  What a wonderful person she has become.  I have the rare privilege of being a papa that has so much time off due to the nature of my job that I can spend a lot of time with her.  I remember when she was born, I was off for the summer and had two months to be with her and Ariana as we adjusted to our new lives as a family together.  I relish the time I have to spend with this little person.  She has quite a way with people and we never go unnoticed while out in public.  She is the first to initiate a conversation with anyone she sees, asking, “What’s your name?” which is usually followed by “What are you doing?” 

Among Amelia’s favorite things are: Mama, going out to a restaurant, strawberries, salmon, bread, watermelon, popsicles, the library, books, Kipper, Pingu, mud, dirt, digging, preschool, visiting Grandma and Grampy, the carousel, going downtown, OMSI, and drinking tea.  I cherish the times that we have to take walks together, not walking more than 3 feet before we have to stop and look at something that she sees.  I even cherish the times that I have to get up with her so often at night just to hold her when she cries.  I appreciate that I can still put my cheek on hers and she doesn’t push me away.

I just don’t understand how Ariana and I got so blessed as to have this amazing person in our lives.  She is so loving and kind, so self-assured and outgoing.  She is such a good kid.  She rarely ever makes a scene in public.  Being out with her is pure delight.  She is constantly amazed by the world and is working so hard to understand it:  “Why, Papa, why?”  I appreciate how she causes me to bend down and notice the world from a different perspective. 

So raise your glasses to Mimi.  Happy Birthday!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sweet Relief and Now Suspense

The agency that I work for finally got some concrete information on their budget for this upcoming year and everyone's job has been saved, including mine!  Apparently, some money "showed up" and we have what we need to get through the year without laying off even the least senior member of our staff.  All of us couldn't tell whether to be joyful or totally ticked.  "You mean to tell me I went through the stress of applying for 4 jobs and interviewing for one just to find out that everything's fine?"  Obviously, we're all relieved and happy to be doing what we are, even if caseloads are still going to be adversely affected and service to kids and families will look totally different.  I am just happy to be able to bring home some bacon.  So, I've got another year guaranteed.  Hallelujah!

In other news, I interviewed last week for the job with Sterling Medical in Sicily.  If I haven't explained already, it is a job working for the Department of Defense, but this company is a recruiter of medical personnel and Early Intervention Specialists to work for the DoD.  I had an interview scheduled for 6 am and woke up at 5 to be ready, only to find out that it was pushed back to 7 am.  I drove out to a nice view and did my interview which turned out to be much less than I anticipated.  It was only 20 minutes of questions like, "So Italian drivers are known for being rather reckless and this job requires a lot of driving.  Would you be okay driving through Sicily to get from place to place?"  My favorite question was, "Your caseload would not be nearly as heavy as what you are handling now (30 kids).  Would you be okay with this?"  I honestly expected more grilling questions that would make me sweat.  There were a few difficult ones, but nothing that bad.  I spent 10 minutes asking them questions and then they had to cut me short to do another interview after me.  

It was hard to tell how it went.  It felt solid, but not stellar.  We will see.  Now I wait.  They said last week on Wednesday that it would be roughly 3 weeks until they would have a decision.  It's very difficult not to be Google Imaging Sicily and reading up on possible towns to live in.  I don't want to count those chickens yet.  But, again, all you praying types, please lift one up for us.  This has been the most stressful time on record for us.  Having a job is a huge piece of that puzzle, but there are others that still remain.  Will I get this job?   Will we make an international move or not?  How will we get rid of our house that we need to get rid of regardless of moving to Sicily or not?  As the dust settles, I'll give updates here.  

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Night Out

Last weekend I went to see Joshua Bell play Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto.  It was really amazing.  We were given the tickets as a prize from an auction at A's preschool.  I have listened to Heifetz play this concerto for years on a CD that I have, but have never seen it live.  It was breathtaking to watch the music come through him.  His cadenzas were virtuosic and beautiful.  It's strange how much music moves me.  I'm sure this has something to do with having played the violin for so long and growing up with a father who is a music teacher.  

When he finished, he did the funny ritual of receiving applause, going backstage, and coming out again several times until finally, he played an encore.  Yet he didn't play some other great classical work, he played Yankee Doodle.  It started out sounding much like an alternate cadenza to the concerto, but then all of a sudden, you could hear the melody.  He then did multiple variations on the melody with clever use of double stops and even one using solely harmonics (a technique of touching the string very lightly).  It was great as it really showcased the violin's and music's whimsical potential.  Most would expect that classical music and the violin is monotone in it's solemnity, but he truly demonstrated how funny it can really be.  The whole crowd was cracking up.  

The night was made better by happy hour at Park Kitchen and a walk through the Park Blocks with Ariana.  Sweet relief from life's stress.  Now it's time to dust off my fiddle.