Lazy Morning

After a week away in Florida, and a long journey back home, I woke up Sunday morning in my own bed. Finally. My trip was fine, but I've really just wanted to be home lately. I took Monday off of work, too, and laid in bed that morning appreciating the sunlight coming through the windows, casting shadows on my bedroom wall.

On Sunday I made breakfast for myself -- something I wholly enjoy after a week away -- and then picked up my sweet friend Sarah to get coffee and go thrifting. I found this wooden plant stand at Goodwill, and the golden clip lamp at a flea market. Both are welcome additions to my bedside.

Yesterday during my day off, I had a lot to do for an exciting project I'm working on with my dear friend Emily, which I'll share more about soon. It was my favorite kind of work: poring over magazines, books, and catalogs to find beautiful images to use for inspiration. Emily came over later in the afternoon and climbed in bed with me, and together we made lists, shared ideas about the project, and fell in love with the moment.

My bedroom is teeny, and sparsely decorated, but it's also the one place where I feel completely relaxed. I'm writing this right now leaning against that pillow, in what I like to think of as the cloud where I sleep.

____________________ All photos were taken with my film camera.


It seems that I've gotten so carried away working on projects and spending time with friends that I forgot to share what I've been doing. More likely is that I failed to take any worthwhile photos of my own lately, and have been waiting for these to become public.

A couple weekends ago I was a part of something so special and beautiful, it almost feels like a dream. Kinfolk hosted their first of twelve dinners in just as many cities over the course of the year, at the incredible Beam + Anchor space. I had the good fortune to receive an invitation, and found myself dining amongst a handful of Portland's most inspiring doers and makers.

The gatherings are meant to bring people together to "take advantage of the rich community that already exists around them, opening up and drawing close to the people that share a common place." The aim is to encourage collaboration and connections with other local creative-minded people. Everyone was asked to participate by helping to set the table, open wine bottles, light candles, or take care of other small tasks. We got to know the people sitting next to us by sharing a meal with them, which is something that always brings people together.

Similar to my own aesthetic, the entire event had a feeling of wabi-sabi -- the Japanese idea of beauty through imperfection, with an appreciation for irregular, organic objects and processes. There was no right or wrong way to approach the meal. Only one fork to keep track of. We had to clear our dinner plates because there weren't any special dessert plates. We could drink wine of any color (red, white, rosé) depending on our individual taste and not what the proper pairing would be.

When I was in college I worked at a natural food store and was the wine steward's assistant for a short time. I confessed to him that I didn't really know anything about wine, but I knew what I liked. He told me that's all that mattered, and I shouldn't worry about anything else. That's kind of how I felt about this dinner: we did what felt good. And it just happened to be beautiful.

Read more about the dinner on the Kinfolk journal.

____________________ All photos by the very talented Laura D'Art.


One of my favorite things to do is to go thrifting. Either alone or with a friend, or even my mom. At the Goodwill down the street, or in small towns around the state -- it's sort of an addiction. Not an unhealthy one though, I don't think.

Over the past few months, I've acquired some little treasures. A wool blanket for $6 in rural Oregon, a wooden cutting board for a couple dollars in the Berkshires, mismatched silver utensils in the Hudson Valley, a copper saucepan in some small town outside of Portland, and a bunch of other things in thrift stores around town. My sister found these ceramic plates at a local shop, and luckily knew I'd love them.

I'm usually too impatient to look for clothing, and always go straight to the housewares. At every store, my favorite aisle is the one with the baskets and wooden things. Glass jars, wicker baskets, ceramic mugs (or plates, or bowls...), wooden spoons and cutting boards, natural textiles -- these are all things I collect. I admit that I do enjoy a trip to Ikea from time to time, but it's important to me to have good quality, well-built things in my house. And because of that I prefer worn, imperfect to new and sleek pieces.

In her last years, my grandma would always send all her house guests home with something from her closet or kitchen cupboards. And they were definitely not always things we wanted. Sometimes I think that one day I'll be one of those old women who spends her time in thrift stores, buying strange and unique gifts for friends just because she thinks they'd like them. Then I remember that I already do that.


On Saturday I finally made it down to the lovely new little shop and cafe in Portland called LOWELL. Christie and I were excited to check it out, but as we approached the front door and glimpsed in, we were both taken aback. It was even more amazing than we expected...and we knew it would be good.

The couple who opened the place, Maya and Dino, are pretty incredible, too. We got some coffee, sat at the bar of the café, and talked to them like we were old friends. (Maybe one day we will be.) Maya told us that her parents used to have a shop where they sold Native American crafts, and that's where some of the wire baskets and other goods they're selling came from. The beautiful wooden spoons were sourced from an indigenous community that they have a connection to in Mexico. I bought a teeny little vintage leather coin purse that I couldn't bear to leave behind. Christie left with her arms full of a beautifully worn rug and metal toolbox. The entire shop is expertly curated, and the jewelry, pottery, furniture, and other little trinkets each had their own stories and allure.

Dino is in charge of food in the basic kitchen, and based on the smell of the soup stock he was brewing, he knows what he's doing. I already have plans to go back for a Japanese-style soup they'll begin serving this week. In fact, from the moment I walked into the place, I couldn't help but think it belonged in my favorite outer neighborhoods of Tokyo: Shimokitazawa or Nakameguro, just like the café that is the inspiration for this blog.

If you live in Portland, do yourself a favor and go to LOWELL as soon as you can.

819 N Russell St | Portland OR 97227 503 753 3608 Open Wednesday through Sunday, 12-8pm-ish


____________________ All photos were taken with my iPhone.

Cabin in the Woods

When I was back in Horton around Christmastime, I was strangely drawn to our old family friends' house. They moved away long before we did, and like my parents, kept their house. Also like our family, they had three daughters around our ages. But unlike us, the parents separated and went on to live their own lives. The father kept the house, and apparently he comes back every so often for a few nights, according to my sister.

I walked through the fence marked "Private Property," and made my way through the tall grass to the front of the cedar shingled cabin, which faces the creek. The details of the cabin didn't make me recall any specific memories, but the general feeling was familiar. Whenever I see that book Woodstock Handmade Houses, it always reminds me of the rustic cabins that my parents' friends lived in when I was young. This cabin has that same feeling as the ones in that book: cozy, natural, and kind of funky.

Once up the steps, I peeked in the windows and fell in love with the space. My mind started racing with all the things I would do to it if it were mine. Not that it really needs much added to what already exists, but it definitely needs an addition of a kitchen and bathroom. And I already have that worked out in my head. Needless to say, ideas have continued to swirl in my mind, and I can't quite shake the idea of living in this place. I keep imagining summer days with the big doors in the loft opened up to the outside, letting the breeze in. And the garden I would plant. And cold nights curled up in front of the wood stove with warm drinks.

____________________ All photos were taken with my iPhone.

Wood Shop

I woke up this morning with no plans for the day. Usually when that happens, I settle in on the couch with a cup of coffee and look through my favorite design books for inspiration. I only got a few pages into Hand Made Home (which I got for Christmas) before it was clear that I needed to actually make something today, not just look at beautiful things in a book.

I hopped in the car and went to the Rebuilding Center, where for $8 I found exactly what I was looking for -- even if the idea was only in the back of my mind.

Once back in the car, I called my dad asked what he was up to today. He said that my mom went to visit my sister, and he wasn't doing much. He's the only male in our immediate family, so he's been left alone throughout the years to watch sports and do maintenance. My dad is also a carpenter, and even when we were young he let my sisters and me use his tools under his supervision. I don't remember ever making anything in particular in the shop, but we got to saw and drill things, which was thrilling when we were young! Unless my dad has other plans, when I ask to use the shop he usually jumps on the idea. I think secretly he enjoys teaching me how to use the tools, and making me strategize how to do what I want to accomplish. And I also think he finds some satisfaction in knowing that I enjoy woodworking like he does.

So we spent the afternoon drilling, sawing, measuring, marking, hammering, laughing, and making this beautiful bench. He told me that I'd better learn how to use all of the tools, because they'll probably be mine one day.

  ____________________ All photos were taken with my iPhone -- I've been a lazy photographer lately.


  The week before Christmas, I visited my sister Julia out where she lives -- where we grew up -- in Horton, Oregon. Nobody calls it that anymore, but it still is on Google Maps as such. Horton is essentially a country road, aptly named Horton Road, with one little market at the end called the Horton Market. Our good family friends own the market, and they live in the attached house. My sister works there a couple days a week, just as my mom worked there when I was little.

I remember when both of my sisters were in school, but I wasn't old enough yet, I would go with my mom to work and just sit on the stool behind the counter at the store. I can't remember what I would do to occupy my time -- probably eat penny candies and color or something -- but I always liked to watch everything that would happen there. During the fall months men would come from all around to go mushroom hunting in the mountains around the little valley. The store bought the mushrooms, and presumably sold them to a distributor or a bigger store.

At the end of every year, our friends Sandy and Marilyn, the shopkeepers, need to take inventory of their stock and would invite their friends and family to help. It was a big event -- and still is -- that people of all ages would partake in. The kids were assigned the candy to count, and the adults tallied other higher up things. Once everything was counted, we could eat whatever we wanted from the shelves of the store. Or at least that's how I remember it. We always ended the night with a homemade pizza feast and plenty of long stories and board games.

When I was in elementary school I would have the school bus drop me off at the store so I could get a snack after school. I would then walk the two or more miles home, usually alone, because that was my excitement for the day!

So when I was just back in Horton, I had to go visit Sandy at the market. Walking into the store, and behind the counter into their home, always brings back such vivid memories of watching my mom and Marilyn can pickled beets, late night summer bonfires, the best salads in wooden bowls, playing horseshoes, petting rabbits, and so much more.

When I was there, Sandy reminded me about a little rendez-vous we had when I lived in New York, and he and Marilyn were visiting. He was born in the Bronx and spent the first 10 or so years of his life there, so he was back to explore his old neighborhood. It was a funny thing for both of us -- for him to see me, the little girl he knew in Horton, as an adult in the city; and for me to see the shopkeeper of the little market where I lived in the country in New York City, where he grew up.


I have a lot more to share about this short visit to Horton, so consider this just scratching the surface. It felt so good to get out in the fresh air, trudge in my rain boots, and sit in front of the wood stove.

____________________ All photos were taken with my iPhone.

New Year

New Year's Eve is usually pretty anti-climactic for me, and I often feel that I watch things happen rather than really join in on the fun. But this year was much different. I've had the best weekend -- filled with so much laughter and happiness -- that I can remember in a long time! It started with a nice dinner with an old friend and her family, and ended at 4am after dancing to Robyn in my highest heels. I hope it's a sign for the year to come, but I feel totally content with my life as 2012 is commencing.

The biggest theme that has emerged as I have been reflecting on the past year and thinking about the coming one is that I want to continue to pursue making and creating in 2012. Last year around this time I said something similar, and specifically that I wanted to create an actual space to make things. In 2011, Christie and I got our studio and published our book. I can only hope this year will be as productive.

To start the new year off, I spent some time this morning sitting on the couch, drinking tea and recounting the night before as I listened to npr. Tomorrow a friend and I are starting a 7-day detox to start the year anew. After this weekend, our bodies need it!

Here's to the new year and all that is yet to come!

____________________ All photos taken with my iPhone.

After Christmas

After Christmas, I always get a little depressed. Nothing serious -- I just get a little down because I don't have anything in particular to look forward to. Throughout the fall I traveled constantly it seemed, from mid-September through early December, I was going back and forth to the East Coast every couple weeks for work. It was exhausting, but fun at times too. Right now I'm looking forward to a bit more normality in my life. Breakfast at home, not at a strip mall coffee shop. It's time to slow down a little bit and relax. So while I don't have anything in particular to count down the days until, I am really happy to just be home and have time to appreciate mundane things like breakfast.

____________________ This photo was taken with my iPhone.


Lately I've been thinking a lot about my environment, and what makes me happiest. At my age, it seems to make sense to live in an urban area, where I can meet up with friends and go out to eat on a whim. The quality of life in relation to the expense is a big draw to living in Portland. I've said for a long while that my ideal would be to have a home in the city, and also somewhere I could escape to in the country. But that may not ever be possible for me -- it certainly isn't right now.

I spent the first eleven years of my life in the foothills of the Coast Range mountains of Western Oregon. I climbed high in trees and caught crawdads in the creek that wrapped around our modest home. My childhood was rich in experience, having grown up outdoors and not in front of the television.

In my family, I've always been the adventurer. The moment I graduated from college, I moved to New York because 'why not?' I thought. As anyone who has ever moved there can attest, it was one of the best and hardest things I've ever done. In the end, it wasn't the right time in my life for me to live there, and I ended up moving back west to Portland just a year later.

Now I'm finding myself drawn to both extremes: bigger cities and rural escapes. The goal of this blog is to explore both worlds, and the details of my fascination with these vastly different environments.

____________________ I took this photo on Larch Mountain in the Columbia River Gorge while cutting down my Christmas tree.