Book Love

What do you do when you find yourself alone on a rainy evening in Portland’s Pearl District? Why go to the biggest independent bookstore in the world, of course.

After a fun weekend with Baby Girl and her sorority sisters, I was to meet up with Sweet Miss in Portland. She was flying back from a quick visit with high school friends, and so I had a few hours to kill on my own.


After wandering a bit, I looked up through the rain to see the big Powell’s sign just down the street. I was in luck, I’d visit the City of Books. After browsing awhile, I found the travel section and picked up a few pocket guides for our summer trip and then hiked up the stairs in search of a crochet dictionary—no luck. But I did find a copy of Blueprint Crochet Sweaters by Robyn Chachula; I’ve only checked it out from the library half a dozen times.

Over dinner, I read about Vienna and then noticed a text from Sweet Miss. She was still waiting for her flight out of Denver but suggested picking up a few bridal magazines. So I paid the bill and headed the two blocks back to Powell’s. Wouldn’t you know? The bridal magazines were back up by the knitting and crochet section adjacent to a wonderful author talk that had just started. Magazines in tow, I sat down in one of the chairs and listened to author Jess Thomson talk about her food adventures in the Pacific Northwest, in the midst of dealing with her son’s health concerns, while her marine biologist husband traveled to distant shores. It’s all part of her touching book, A Year Right Here. Book talks like these are one reason I hope local bookstores never disappear.


Sweet Miss did finally arrive late that evening, and we talked weddings, and moving, and jobs before collapsing into bed. Hanging out with the kids is exhausting albeit wonderful.


How was your weekend?

 

 

The Other Washington

Me and the MR have done our share of traveling the last few years. Visiting other countries’ capital cities, I was impressed with the museums and monuments, the statues and memorials, the abundance of history, beautiful architecture, and national pride. Somehow, I got it into my head that we just don’t have that at home. I mean Seattle has EMP and the Hammering Man. We’re famous for throwing fish at Pike Place and for inventing casual Fridays—not pomp and patriotism.

But a few weeks ago, we met the MR’s parents in the other Washington, and my whole perception changed. Our family isn’t big into politics, and we had never seriously thought about visiting Washington, DC. I’d bring it up every now and then saying we really should take the girls—kind of like taking vitamins or eating your vegetables. But then the MR’s mom suggested traveling to there to see the cherry blossoms. I like cherry blossoms.

So the beginning of the month found us with five days in DC to see the sights. It was amazing. We stayed in the Penn Quarter, just around the corner from Ford’s Theater and the rooming house where Lincoln died. Our first morning, we strolled down the block to the White House. Yes, that would be Pennsylvania Avenue.

We were a little further back than it looks like in the movies, but we were actually there next to Michelle Obama’s vegetable garden

I had tried to book a tour, but with the change in administration, all tours had been put on hold—maybe next time. I’d contacted our representative about the White House tour, and she’d signed us up for a tour of the Capitol instead. So our group of adventurers headed on to the National Mall.

As you can see, the MR (from Washington State) is wearing a windbreaker. His parents (from Nevada) are bundled up against the cold.

Our next stop was the World War II Memorial.

In the distance, that’s the Lincoln Memorial. I’d never realized how all these monuments are lined up. In our family we have this joke that if you can see it, you can walk to it; it may have started when we took the girls to Paris—you can see the Eiffel Tower for a really long ways away… While we probably could have walked to Lincoln we’d been warned that the National Mall is really quite large, and we had a tour of the Capitol coming up.

So we turned in the other direction and headed towards the Washington Monument.

The elevators to the top of the monument are being repaired through 2019, so no aerial views this time. With a few hours to kill, we headed on towards the Capitol up the streets flanked by Smithsonian museums.

We didn’t visit the National Gallery of Art, but we did wander through the sculpture garden.

We met our group in Congressman Suzan DelBene’s office, and then were off viewing art and architecture, old meeting rooms and new. Both houses were in recess, but if we’d wanted to wait around for a few hours, we could have watched them in action.

By that time, we’d walked nearly nine miles and were ready for dinner and a chance to put our feet up.

Day two, we went on the Big Bus Tour. We picked it up across the street from our hotel, and it took us right to the Lincoln Memorial. One of the things you don’t realize from the movies and TV is the shear size of these buildings.

From there, we walked over to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. My sweet mother-in-law shook hands with each of the veterans she met along the wall. It was a moving experience for both her and them.

Then we were back on the bus destined for Arlington National Cemetery. More than 400,000 people are buried here; it’s acres upon acres of headstones.

After visiting the grave of John F. Kennedy, we happened upon the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier just in time for the changing of the guard.

Day three, we started our museum visits with the National Air and Space Museum.

After touching the space rock, and oohing and aahing over all things that fly, we headed for greener pastures. We had noticed the United States Botanic Gardens on our way to the Capitol tour, but it was closed by the time we’d finished, so after lunch we went there.

While it was interesting, this was one of the few things on our itinerary I would not repeat.

Then we headed beyond the Capitol to the Library of Congress to enjoy the beautiful architecture inside and out.

My father-in-law teased the security about not being able to check out a book. The guard quickly gave him directions on were to go to get a library card. Maybe next time we’ll make use of the reading room.

Day four dawned wet and dreary, but no worries, we had umbrellas and the National Archives were just down the street.

So much of our history has been captured here. I listened to tapes of FDR refusing increased security around the White House after Pearl Harbor, and then joined the crowds to see the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

We spent an entertaining lunch watching unwary commuters emerge from the subway station only to have their umbrellas blown inside out and then trudged on to the National Museum of Natural History. I’d been hoping for American History, but somehow we wound up next door. On rainy days during spring break, these museums are chaos.

The MR”s dad was sick in bed that evening, but we took out his mom to help celebrate their 54th wedding anniversary.

That being our last night in town, me and the MR went out to see the monuments at night. It’s really quite beautiful.

Our last day, we checked the bags at the hotel and thought we were heading across the street to the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery, but they didn’t open till 11:30, so we hurried a few blocks in a stiff wind to the National Building Museum—one of the few requiring an admissions few to the exhibits. We were still able to see portraits of the presidents and some American folk art before eating lunch and saying goodbye to the MR’s parents as they left for the train station.

We had a few hours before going to the airport, so we checked out the White House Visitor Center, which is the next best thing to being there.

I loved the history, the beauty, and the grandeur of DC, and I would definitely go back.

Next time, I’d like to make it to Mount Vernon and to a few more of the museums. I’m not sure I’d do Arlington again, and the bus tour was a bit of a miss. We’d purchased multiple lines, so we could visit Arlington, and ended up waiting on the side of the road for more than an hour because of a motorcade. The company can’t really do anything about that, but for the price of four adults we could have booked a private tour that would have meant less standing and waiting.

With 17 Smithsonians, it was hard to choose which one to visit. Next time, the MR can go back to the Air and Space while I’m immersing myself in history. Then we’ll just meet up for lunch.

Many of the museums and Arlington have their own apps—something I haven’t got in the habit of looking for ahead of time.

After all these years, I’m glad we finally visited our nation’s capital. Thanks MeeMee for the suggestion.

What are your highlights of Washington, DC?

In other fabulous news, The Fella asked Sweet Miss to marry him last Saturday. We’re all pleased as punch. And on Sunday, Papa Larry celebrated his 80th birthday. Add in Easter, and I’d say it was a banner weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carrot Crazy

Me and Cocoa went out to check on the garden the other day. I had a bin full of warm castings and some onion sets demanding my attention.

Now I don’t usually let the dog in the garden. She’s been known to dig big holes in the dirt and roll around. But I figured it was cool enough that she wouldn’t be tempted and besides, the garden was just full of debris from last year—tomato vines and broccoli skeletons.


The two of us were in for a bit of a surprise. The carrots I’d tried to coax into sprouting last summer made a come back over the winter.


It took a little weeding, but before long we’re going to have a harvest.

 

I wasn’t the only one to notice our bounty. One of Cocoa’s favorite foods is carrots. When she hears me peeling vegetables, she comes a running looking for a hand out certain it’s carrots. She’d eat the whole pile of peels if I let her.

So when she came upon that line of carrots, Cocoa lowered her nose and started sniffing. I shewed her away before she could do any damage. The gate is securely fastened to keep the harvest safe. When she looks at me with those big brown eyes, I’m sure she’ll get her share eventually.

What’s in your garden?

 

A Look Back at March 2017

Waking to the sound of rain, sometimes I wonder if spring will ever come. With the weather we’ve been having lately, it seems to have abandoned us even though the calendar says otherwise.

Perhaps that’s why I was so surprised to see a hummingbird seated on this shepherd’s crook as I passed through our bedroom the other day. He seemed to be chiding me for not having the feeder out when he was here for a visit. Soon my friend, I will sit out in the mornings, drinking my coffee, and laughing at your antics, but I won’t do that in the pouring rain.

Me and the MR enjoyed a breath of Spring Inspiration at the Seattle Home and Garden Show. The air was heavily scented with flowers, and I can’t wait to put our outdoor seating to use.

Sadly, this is not our outdoor seating–just inspiration. But a girl can dream.

Daffodils greet us with their bright cheery heads, and hyacinths are just beginning to open. On the one sunny day last week, I spent a few hours working in the garden. All this rain can’t last forever.

Maybe it’s a good thing we’ve been stuck indoors. Otherwise, we might not have noticed that certain scent that proved Life is Messy. The sink is no longer in the entry, all the holes have been filled, textured, and painted, and the exterminator gave me hope when he told me it’s only mice—that’s still not my favorite thing.

I may not be Saving the Planet, but I’m trying to make little changes that decrease my footprint. Earth Day’s coming up; it’s time to step up my game. I don’t want to leave a mess for future generations.

 

I shared with you our banner Citrus Harvest—three whole lemons this year. That’s a 50 percent increase in yield. I was feeling pretty good till we visited the MR’s cousins down in the LA-area, and their friend had trees dripping with lemons, clementines, and grapefruit. I’m just going to be content with what I have. The whole family got to enjoy the fruits of our labors with a yummy lemon pie; it was even full-sized this year. We’re getting there.

And finally, the new carpet came. It’s beautiful, soft, squishy-between-my-toes, wonderful. If you haven’t noticed, I’m rather in love. Now I promised a photo of the guest room—the one with the biggest change going from dark emerald to a lovely morning mist. This will not disappoint.

OK, maybe you’re not oohing and aahing as much as I’d like, but let’s go back a ways. Remember when it was a catch-all sewing/storage/mess?

Like those old ads from the ’70s “You’ve come a long way, baby.”

And sometimes this monthly recap is all about the stuff that didn’t make it in the blog. Like having both girls home for a few days is awesome and exhausting. Baby Girl turned 20, and Sweet Miss is planning a big move and had an exciting job interview. Me and the MR chased the sunshine to California. While it was in the 90’s the week before we arrived, the 70’s felt warm to us. And we explored most of the beach at Santa Monica before it started raining.

All and all, life is good even with holes in the wall, rain, and mice.

How was your March?

 

 

 

 

 

Chaos in the Name of Progress

Remember way back when in February when I told you we were getting carpet? Well this was the week it finally arrived. But why make it simple with just one event? Let’s add spring break for the girls, shopping trips, denist/doctor visits, dinners out with friends, dinners in with family, game night, trips to the train station, the exterminator visit, sinks in the entry, pumping the septic tank, and moving all of the furniture out of three of the bedrooms.

Now that’s a crazy kind of week.

We were lucky in that the master bedroom has a built-in platform bed, so all we had to move was a chair, the hope chest, and some clothes from the closets. The rest of the rooms were a little more intense. I, fortunately, had a meeting at work, and the MR and the girls took care of all the heavy lifting while I was gone. When I went to start a load of laundry, I was surprised to find an antique ice box blocking the way—oh well. And let’s just say the sewing room is filled to the brim with creative endeavors.

Enough of chaos. Don’t you want to see our beautiful new carpet? The sewing room looks so inviting when it’s empty.

Cocoa, I said the room was empty.

I’ve decided not to bring the broken dresser back in, and the MR talked me out of the bed. Now I have to make some decisions about storage. I spent a few hours yesterday, finishing up some projects. Baby Girl is headed back to school this weekend, so it’s less imperative that the upstairs is all back in order. I’m hoping to show you a new and improved creative space in a few weeks.

Our room is basically back together, and I’m rather in love with this new carpet. It is so soft. Even the little step up to the bed is soft.

The gray of the carpet matches the gray of the flooring wonderfully. We’ve finally irradicated the baby blue and emerald green carpets of the past.

The guest bedroom probably has the biggest transformation going from emerald to beige carpet. It’s amazing how much it’s lightened things up in there. But since the MR had to put the queen-sized bed back together after a long day at work, and I’m off this morning to more shopping, Baby Girl’s hair appointment, and “girl time”, you’re just going to have to wait.

Now for those of you who like details, we had Haight Carpet in Woodinville install Mohawk Natural Splendor II in Stormwatch in the master bedroom. In the guest room and sewing room, it was the same carpet in Morning Mist. Since we have radiant heat on the main floor, they recommended the “Victorious” 10-pound pad. With our oddly-shaped rooms, funky closets, and built-in steps around the bed, the installation took most of a day. They arrived at 8:30 am and were gone by 4 pm. It’s only been a day, but so far so good.

Some of you may be wondering about that big list of things that I glossed over at the beginning. The septic tank was simply maintenance. It’d been three years, so we figured it was time. They did encourage me to switch to a liquid dishwasher soap and spread out the loads of laundry. Old habits are hard to break.

The good news from the exterminator was that it was just mice. The bad news was that it’s mice. We live in the middle of 30 acres; it’s a problem we’ll have to deal with. After some of the horror stories he shared, I’m feeling rather thankful. We had Ben from ProTech Pest Control come out to assess our home and install a trapping system. With a few repairs, the situation should be under control.

On a happy note, the MR reinstalled the powder room sink, while I took Sweet Miss to the train station. I didn’t get any pictures, but I can assure you that the drywall behind the sink surrounds the pipes perfectly. The MR did a great job.

So what’s new at your house? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saving the Planet

My sweet sister-in-law, who’s rather awesome, has been working for the last few years to raise awareness about plastic bags and their impact on our environment. She’s attended local city council meetings encouraging the banning of plastic bags. I’m not sure if the towns have followed her advice, but she’s certainly made me more mindful of how much plastic I use.

Along with remembering to bring my reusable bags to the grocery store, I’ve also tried to lessen the use of plastic in the kitchen. First I bought Bees Wrap which is basically organic cotton fabric covered in bees wax. You simply get it warm in your hands and use it like you would plastic wrap. While you can’t use it on meat, it works well on most other things. It’s not as tight a seal as plastic, but I’ve been happy with it.

So happy that I was surprised when I noticed that my set of three wraps has dwindled down to one. Baby Girl and the MR have both assured me that they would never throw these out, so it appears to be a mystery. Browsing Pinterest, I did find a tutorial on how to make your own Beeswax Cotton Wraps. And while I’ve bought the beeswax, I haven’t quite got to the making part. Perhaps now that I’ve mentioned it to you, I’ll be more motivated.

And last month while we were wandering around Sweet Miss’ downtown, we browsed the shelves of her favorite housewares store, and I noticed something else I’d been wanting to try. I find these silicone bowl covers intriguing.

Designed to look like flowers, they take the place of plastic when covering bowls and pans. I bought the large size, but a smaller one might have been a better choice. We don’t have leftovers in such large quantities any more with just the two of us.

Then on Facebook—I know I’m addicted—I saw an ad for huggable silicone vegetable covers. On Amazon I found out they even have them for avocados. I’ve ordered a variety set of these. I don’t know how many times, I’m left with half an avocado and don’t know the best way to store it.

With just a little soap and water, I’m going through a lot less plastic wrap. Maybe I won’t save the world, but each little step counts.

How are you reducing your environmental footprint?

In other news, Baby Girl—our sweet breath of spring—celebrated the big 2-0 yesterday. Knock out those finals; we can’t wait to celebrate with you in just a few days.

 

When you were 2, I wanted you to wear a party dress. After lots of fighting, Dad stepped and let you wear old hand-be-downs—the big softy. You had some attitude.