15 Things

February 29, 2012
This year Matthew and I are following this Lenten Calendar and it's been a really cool experience. I almost said a really enjoyable experience, but I don't mean enjoyable as in oh-this-is-so-much-fun. I mean enjoyable in the sense that we've learned a lot, thought a lot, prayed a lot - and we're only on day eight. I love the idea of taking on something like this for Lent - instead of solely focusing on eliminating or going without, I like the action in the calendar. There's a sacrifice element, but there is also taking action and appreciating beauty.

Today we were prompted to write down 15 things that we are grateful for, and I thought I'd share.

In no particular order...

MATTHEW / My husband and fellow adventurer.

FAMILY / Spread all over, weirdest bunch ever, the best.

TRUE FRIENDSHIP / True, you may live far away, but I love you.

GOOD FOOD / Cooking and eating it. Love it. 

CLEAN WATER / I drink it all day long and take it totally for granted. 

FREEDOM / Religious, social, political, personal.

HEALTHY BODY / It totally works. 

GOD'S GRACE & LOVE / I mean, just wow. 

MUSIC / Listening, playing, singing.

REAL LIFE HEROES / We recently met a man who leads undercover operations to free child sex slaves oversees. I am so thankful that there are people out there who are real life Jason Bournes that literally fight for justice.

DESIGN / Graphic, interior, everything. I love Art. 

OUR CHURCH / The place and people brought us back to life.

BLOGGING / Self expression, sharing life. It makes this introvert very happy. And I love meeting other creative types and seeing bits of their world. 

A WARM HOUSE / As I type it is blizzarding outside. I have a place to call my own. 

INSPIRATION / It comes from everywhere and anywhere. It pulls me out of my fog. 

I highly recommend this exercise not just for today, but anytime. It brings perspective and acknowledgment of the truly wonderful blessings that surround us. Try it out. 

Like Father, Like Daughter

February 24, 2012
In college my father spent a year living and learning in Paris. He was one of the original hipsters, but back then he just looked homeless. He roamed the streets of Paris with his old school camera snapping shots of street performers, nature, monuments, and an assortment of interesting people. (He also made hundreds of illegal Collect calls to my mother, which almost landed him in a Parisian jail, but that's a story for another time...)

When he passed away a few years ago I inherited boxes of photographs and family videos, and came across photos from his Parisian adventure. They are incredible. Wonky street performers laden with banjos, harmonicas, tamborines; little old women feeding pigeons on park benches, lovers kissing on the bus. Self portraits in cafe windows. I love the story they tell.

During my time with Makenzie a few weeks ago, I tried to channel that Parisian vibe. These photographs make me so happy - not because Makenzie looks stellar (she does, she's a dream) - but because they really, truly remind me of my father's pictures. Even though he isn't here to cheer me on, I feel connected to him. Both twenty somethings, both in new places, both running around with our cameras - it just makes me smile.


A Favorite Breakfast

February 23, 2012
We had variations of this breakfast all throughout our time in Eastern Europe - sometimes it would be a roll with some sort of cheese, ham, and cucumbers - other times it would be croissants, butter, tomatoes and onions. Of course we had our share of sweet things, but savory breakfasts are the best when you're trekking across Prague on foot.

Paired with some really good espresso and you're set.

I added avocado for good measure. Naturally.

 Chop up some cherry tomatoes. 
 Chop up some Persian cucumbers, or the best cucumbers out there. 
 Add some avo. (I used a half.)
 Mix it all together.
Toast up a whole wheat English muffin.

 The lady at Trader Joe's convinced me to try this Vegan cream cheese - and it's seriously good. I'm no vegan, but I love this. 
 Top with veggie mixture. Make it look pretty. Take a picture.
Then top with the rest of the veggie mixture, because if you save it for later then it will get soggy. And you were going to eat it anyway. 


Let's Get Real Here

February 21, 2012
I've been incredibly inspired by a recent outflowing of blog posts dedicated to promoting authenticity in the bloggersphere.

It is so refreshing to hear from those women  - women who you've followed for years, yearned for their seemingly perfect lives, felt inadaquate because your life isn't as pretty/buttoned up/design inspired/whatever as theirs - and to hear about their true struggles. Depression, stress, anxiety, post partum difficulties, unhappy marriages, and a host of other things have been thrust out into the world for everyone to see.
Oh, and my running shoes are seriously dirty. 
After our last trip to Branches and the consequent car conversation with Matthew, I felt a little tug with regards to blogging. Then I read this post and this post and felt moved - to stop hiding the things that are tough in my life. It's not about airing out all your dirty laundry or bitching about the things that upset you - I want to avoid creating a space here where things look perfect.  I've seen first hand what can happen when your whole life becomes a facade and then it somehow shatters- you have a full blown mental breakdown.

I'm not in that place, thankfully. I've been pretty open on this blog - clearly no one is in danger of over-glamorizing my life or believing that I'm perfect. And yet sometimes it is such a struggle to come up with Happy Blog Posts That People Will Like.

Since November I've had a ca-razy bout with depression. After college I suffered from such intense anxiety that I was on medication just to get through normal everyday activities. This time it was so different. I felt nothing. There were times where I just felt nothing. And that was the one thing that really freaked me out - because that is not like me in the slightest.

It was the first time in my life when I felt truly on my own. Of course I've had the love and support of Matthew and my far off family, but this time I didn't self medicate or hide things. I just felt like crap. And then I felt worse. And I just kept telling Matthew that things were going to get better, but that for the time being, I was pretty much going to be the worst. He just smiled and gave me a kiss and told me that he still loved me. I really was the worst. 

I am doing so much better now. I've had to make some hard choices, but I feel stronger for it. For the first time in my life things are starting to click. What is important. What I want. How I want to live. Who I want to spend time with. (And I know you'll roll your eyes, because yes, I'm talking about them again - but Ryan and Heidi and Branches have been a huge part of all this. Literally. Life. Changing.)

So that's a part of me. Not all of me, maybe not even a big part of me, but it definitely exists.

Here's the truth: I'm afraid to meet new people and that I might not know what to say. Last minute changes of plans freaks me out. I am extremely introverted. I'm glad I don't work with Brides anymore. Really glad. I cry, a lot. I worry that I'll never be successful or that people will never think I'm cool.

Reader, whoever you are, remember that even behind the glossiest pages there lies a real person with real problems, stories, faults, and trials. No one has that life. No one.

Let's celebrate one another in our triumphs and joys, all the while acknowledging the hard work it took to get there.

"For last year's words belong to last year's language. And next year's words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning." - T.S. Eliot

*Post update: Today I realized that I've been saying Bon Iver in the 100% wrong way. Hello, I'm embarrassed and humbled. Nice to meet you. 

Friday Night in Spokane

February 18, 2012
Last night Matthew and I hit the town - Spokane style. (By that I mean it was really cold.)

Ethiopian food, photos, shivery-cold walking, Aunties bookstore, Mizuna vegan carrot cake and lots of laughter.

We rounded out the night by playing Words with Friends together in bed.

No joke - one of the best nights I've had in a long time.


Lucky in Love

February 14, 2012
My very first Valentine's Day with Matthew was the sweetest, most random experience. 

There we were, sophomores in college, poor, awkward, and still in the beginnings of being madly in love.  There was a sandwich, strawberries and chocolate pudding. There was a picnic table covered in a blanket. But there was also the crashing ocean, tropical surroundings and an amazing Santa Barbara sunset. 

It was incredible. 
Today I look at my husband and feel wholeheartedly in love.  He rocks, plain and simple. He is a be-speckled genius who woos me with his hilarity. He makes life a never ending adventure. He loves me unconditionally. And this is all the time. I'm one blessed lady.

Happy Valentine's Day MR! You make life sweet all the time. :)


Mango Ink

February 13, 2012
When I first came across Mango Ink, I was like wait, these people live in Spokane?

I met Heidi and Ryan at the Spokane Bridal Fest about a year ago - I was walking around checking out the other vendors and came upon their booth space. I was immediately impressed. And then thought oh dear, these people are too cool to talk to. But then we chatted and I realized I had stumbled across, perhaps, some of the nicest people ever.

One of my favorite things about their business: Mango Ink stands out in the Spokane crowd. They are cool. They are hip. They have a beautiful website. Their designs are fresh and modern.

These things are hard to come by in this area. Really hard to come by.

It wasn't until later that I found out that Ryan was a pastor of a church called Branches - and then I really fell in love with these people. Though it took us forever to finally get our act together and get to Branches, it has become the best thing about living in Spokane. WE LOVE THESE PEOPLE. We really do.

I digress - my main point is that along with starting a cool company, Heidi and Ryan are just good people. And I love supporting good people.

Along with designing wedding invites, Valentines, iPhone cases and pretty much any other cool/hip thing you can think of, they just released a new series called The Air Line - and yeah, you guessed it, I love it. Since moving to Spokane our air travel has increased two fold, and most always we end up in the SFO airport at some point in our journey. I've been looking for decor that is clean, fresh, modern - and I've found it.

The concept is great, and I relish the opportunity to support creative, wonderful people. They have a ton of major airports...I may have to get the SEA one too. Or maybe the LAX one....or both.  Go check them out!

An Afternoon With Makenzie

February 12, 2012
Makenzie is one of those people who just exudes beauty and grace. 

When we met at Rockwood Bakery, she ran up the steps in jeans, boots, and glamourous looking sunglasses - and looked instantly camera ready. After some coffee and a chat we started on our tour of South Hill - to the park, skyline, bakery, random roadside spots. 

I just held the camera (into the blazingly bright sun) and Makenzie did the rest. Seriously, this girl is a natural. She braved the bright cold day with not one complaint. Isn't she lovely?

Our goal was to dress things down and go for a natural, organic feel. In think she pulls it off. :)


Ginger Port Poached Pear Tart

February 9, 2012
I don't  know about you, but poached pears have never really appealed to me.

Perhaps it's because I've never had a well prepared poached pear, but the thought of soggy fruit doesn't really do it for me. The thought of a deeply rich port sauce with lemon zest, hints of orange and mellow ginger does, unsurprisingly sound quite good, so I thought I'd give this recipe a try - with a little twist. Poached pears meet pear tart.

When paired (oh my, a food pun) with a buttery crust, these poached pears win over even a hardened skeptic like me.

Adapted from Epicurious

3 Bartlett pears
1 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger
3 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups Tawny Port
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 Tablespoons fresh orange juice
Sprinkle of Pumpkin Pie Spice


Peel ginger and cut into thin strips. Bring to a simmer in a small pot of water for 10 minutes, then drain water and set aside. 

In a large saucepan or dutch oven, bring water, sugar, port, ginger, lemon/orange juices to a boil. Stir until sugar is dissolved. 

Peel, half and core pears. Add to dutch oven and sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice. The original recipe called for simmering the pears for 20 - 40 minutes, then removing with a slotted spoon. I decided I wanted a SUPER concentrated flavor, so I simmered for 40 minutes, then removed from heat and let sit overnight. Either way you'll be fine. 

Once done poaching, slice into thin strips. Set aside. 

Keep cooking the poaching liquid until it is reduced to a thick, gel-like sauce. Set aside.


Honestly, I'm totally a Trader Joe's pie crust lover. Sometimes I'll pull out my food processor and make the real thing, but when I'm feeling lazy (i.e. most of the time) it's the frozen TJ's crust that I go for. Let it come to room temp and then roll out. Place into tart pan (or pie pan) and press into edges. (If you really want to make sure it doesn't stick to the edges of the tart pan, line with parchment paper first. I didn't, as I don't really care. )


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Once the crust is prepared, add sliced pears. Arrange in even layers like flower petals. Or just throw them in. It really only matters if you're OCD like me. 

Pour as little or as much of the reduced poaching liquid as you'd like over the pears and bake for 40 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned. 

Let cool for awhile - it will let the juices settle. I learned the hard way that cutting into it too soon means a syrupy mess. A delicious, syrupy mess.


Sunny Saturday Salutations

February 4, 2012
Today the sun came out and it made me so happy.

We woke up early and walked to the bakery for coffee and an orange almond cinnamon roll to share.

When Matthew set off to be a genius music director for a few hours, I pulled on a down jacket and opened all the blinds. The sunshine poured in and I couldn't bare to sit in front of a computer.

Paintbrushes, teacups of paint, canvas, and one dishtowel - apparently the warmth of the sun brings out my artistic tendencies.

Today make sure you do something colorful, creative and fun! :)