Portland Preservation Society

Just about a year ago, with Brooke's motivation and organization, a handful of people - friends, and friends of friends - somewhat awkwardly assembled at a café in SE Portland to discuss canning and preserving. We each brought books to reference, and a general enthusiasm to form a group in which we would reconvene each month and exchange canned goods. Formally named the "Portland Preservation Society," most of us casually refer to it as "canning club." At that first meeting, we loosely established some method to the process, which after the initial exchange we realized needed to be overhauled. From then on, the general process is that anyone who comes should bring 5-6 jars of something preferably seasonal and local that they have canned/preserved. At the meeting, we all place our goods on the table, form a circle around the precious goods, and one-by-one explain what we've made. It's nearly impossible after a couple glasses of wine and good conversation to remember which jars sounded best, and which to choose first! The second time around the circle, we each get to choose one jar, and then we go back around and around until each person has the number of jars they contributed. In the end we each walk away with 5 or 6 incredibly creative, flavorful canned goods that we probably wouldn't have thought to make ourselves.

Image(from the second swap)

We have our one year anniversary meeting this week, and it's amazing to see how it's grown! From a modest 10 or so people in the beginning, we now have over 250 members in the Facebook group, thanks to Brooke's continued organization and excitement. We began by having a different member host each month, but now it's grown so big (about 30-50 people attend each month) that we are meeting at Union Pine, thanks to Summer and Patrick's generous contribution of that lovely space.

Image(left to right, top to bottom: curried cauliflower, gomasio, cranberry apple ginger beer, balsamic pickled eggs, pickled Asian pears)

When I was young, my mom would make pickled beans and beets, and they were always such a treat! I started canning only four years ago, and luckily I can say my skills have progressed with time. The first batches of pickled things I made were too spicy - not too hot, they just too many competing flavors - but now I have my go-to recipe for pickling. And I've tried so many other things that once would have seemed too ambitious.

Image(lapsang souchong tea jelly that I made)

Image(mushroom herb seasoning that I made for the next meeting)

Even though a canning club is the ultimate Portland cliché, it's a really wonderful group to be a part of. Through it I've made some great friends, gotten to take home some delicious foods (hello bacon jam!), and had a number of memorable wine-filled conversations.

**Some notes - to join, just become a member of the Facebook group for the details on the next meeting. Check out the Portland Preservation Society Tumblr page, too! And see photos on Instagram at #portlandpreservationsociety.

____________________ all photos taken with my iphone


I'm really terrible at talking about trips. When I got home from Paris and people asked how it was, I simply responded "great!" Expecting more than a one word answer, I'd follow that up by reiterating "so good." When that still didn't satisfy whoever I was talking to, I'd add "we ate and drank, walked, biked, shopped, saw a few sights, and drank more wine."  Then I'd change the subject. Unless you want every detail, I can't sum it up in a short conversation. So this might be a long one.

To start, the reason I went to Paris in the first place was for my former job -- at a high school study abroad non-profit. In February I was awarded a chaperon flight to Paris, long before I had decided to leave the organization. Lucky for me, I was allowed to keep the flight even though I hadn't worked there for months. So in early September, I headed to New York for a few days where I met the 46 teenagers who I'd eventually take from JFK to Charles de Gaulle airport. Just me and them, with an hourlong layover in Zurich where we had to go through security and immigration. I only yelled at them once, but it was well deserved. Needless to say, we made it to Paris and the staff there took over. An hour after arriving, I had completed my responsibilities and was ready for vacation.

Sarah had been visiting our friend Kim in London the week prior, and the day after I arrived, the two of them took the train down and met me in Paris. There is something really special about meeting up with friends in another country. You get to see a side of someone that you wouldn't normally. The night they arrived, we went out to dinner at a highly recommended neighborhood restaurant in the Marais, where we were staying. It was packed, and we needed to get on the list. Neither of them speak a word of French, so I was elected to do all the communicating. I proudly got us on the list, but somehow inadvertently told the bartender that I'd like to go to his house. You'd think three years of college French would get me a little further than that.

Thanks to Kim's special European credit card with a chip in it, we could rent commuter bikes by the hour. There was a bike station right out side of our apartment, and conveniently there was always a station to drop them off near wherever we went. One day we seemed to bike all over the city to see many of the major sights. When I was 18, my cousin and I spent the summer in Paris living with her former exchange student. We were young and dumb, and didn't even have a guidebook to tell us where to go. But I think we made our way to all of the major museums that summer, and most of the famous attractions. I've been lucky enough to go back a couple other times between then and now, so I was totally content letting this trip be purely a vacation of eating, drinking, and wandering around. Luckily Sarah, Kim, and I were all on the same page. Everything was seamless.

By the end of the week, we'd buy multiple baguettes and at least two bottles of wine at a time. Just in case we needed them when the stores had closed. We didn't want to be caught without either.

I'm not sure how familiar you are with Parisian café culture, but it's something people do: sit at cafés and sip espresso. Did you know that the espresso is actually really gross?  For a couple of Portlanders and a Londoner, the coffee was totally sub-par. While Kim could handle it, Sarah and I couldn't. We made it our mission to find decent coffee. We never really did, but we came close at Rose Bakery. We'd each order two drinks during breakfast so we could feel properly caffeinated.

I was talking with a friend the other night about Paris, and he said seeing photos makes him feel weirdly nostalgic, which is how I feel, too. I'm not sure if it's even for a time that I've already had there, or if it's for a time I want to have. But there's something about that city that makes me feel like I want to make memories there. Maybe that's what we just did?

____________________ All photos taken on my film camera.

Small Houses

As I was scanning pages from the Lofts book that I recently bought, I decided to look up other books that Jeffrey Weiss put out. My quick internet search showed this one, Small Houses, which I realized that I already own but had forgotten about.  I got this book at a yard sale last summer for  25 cents from an older eccentric man who must have been an interior decorator based on the stuff he was selling. His taste seemed pretty gaudy, so I'm sure this book was a relic from years past when his taste was more modest.


When I was a little girl, in kindergarten, we would have breaks during class to play. Most kids would play house in the small model kitchen we had in the back of the classroom. At age 5, for some reason, I thought I was too old for that, so I would usually sit on the rug and do something else on my own. Similarly, throughout elementary school I didn't watch cartoons -- they were too immature. Instead, I would wake up just as early on Saturday mornings to watch a public access show called Show Your Home. This was pre-HGTV, and the only show like it that was on to my knowledge. On this very sophisticated program, the local real estate agents in Eugene would give tours of homes for sale. Usually they were split-level ranch style homes: three bedrooms, two baths, double car garage, wall to wall carpet, etc. Whenever I'd go into town with my parents, I'd always grab the free real estate magazines outside of the grocery stores. I got so good at estimating the value of a house that I'd walk into any home and guess the square footage and value. I'm sure this provides some weird insight into my character that I'd rather not delve into.

I have absolutely no idea where this interest came from, but it's stayed with me my entire life. Now my friends turn to me to find them apartments or houses, as sifting through the Craigslist rentals to find a rare gem is one of my resumé-worthy skills. I would forever be content if I could find a place like one of these small houses to call my own.

____________________ All photos are scans of the Lila Gault & Jeffrey Weiss book Small Houses.


Today while on my lunch break at work, I wanted to use a small gift card I had, so I walked up to Powell's to look for a good magazine to read in the sun. Yes, sun! There was sun in Portland today! Surprisingly, Powell's has a pretty poor selection of magazines and quarterlies, so I walked through my favorite room: the one with the cookbooks, gardening books, and books on houses. Without any real direction or focus, I was meandering down the aisles just looking for something to jump out. On the end of one the aisles, there was a cart of books to return back to the shelf. On it I found this little gem of a book: Lofts by Jeffrey Weiss. Upon first glance, I knew this was the book I'd be taking home. It was published in the 70s, but the aesthetic is very current.  I flipped through it with an architect friend while sitting in the park, and he said that this is the kind of thing he refers to at work. He said that at his firm, they don't look t0 anything newer than 30 years for design inspiration, as more contemporary buildings haven't withstood the test of time.

Remove the clunky tvs and maybe some of the appliances, and you'd think these photos were from some new design blog. Instead, they're straight out of 1979.

____________________ All photos scanned from Lofts by Jeffrey Weiss.


In the past year and a half, I've traveled more than I ever have before. For the entirety of this past fall, I was taking weeklong trips to the East Coast every third week for work. Once I was home I'd need a week to recover, then the next week I was busy planning another trip. Consequently, I've been racking up frequent flier miles which has allowed me to go on some real vacations. I just got back from a wedding on Cape Cod a few days ago, but before that a couple friends and I went on a dream trip to Texas. As the rain continued to pour down in Portland, we flew to Austin to work on our tans. We spent the first two days exclusively drinking coffee, eating tacos, laying around and occasionally getting into the water at Barton Springs, and then drinking micheladas at the bar at Hotel San Jose. If this alone was all we did it would have been a great vacation, but it was just the beginning of what turned out to be the best trip I've taken in recent years.

From Austin we drove to White Sands, NM, which is a place I'm not sure if I even knew about before we started planning this trip. When we were driving up, I was convinced that we'd pull up, look around, then go along our way. I don't think any of us expected to be so blown away by White Sands. Huge rolling white dunes that seemingly go on forever. I've ridden a camel in the Sahara Desert, and that has nothing on this place.

The clouds were beautiful and intense, but we didn't think much of it. We drove five or six hours down to Marfa, TX that evening, and the clouds followed us there.

We were driving south, just 50 or so miles from Marfa, in the middle of the desolate West Texas desert, and this was the view in my rearview mirror. At any point during the trip, if one of us wanted to stop the car and take photos, that's what we'd do no questions asked.

We got to El Cosmico after dark and after the reception area closed, but were instructed to just go straight to our teepee and check in the next morning. We were so excited to be there, and to finally shower after running through sand dunes and camping the previous night. We settled in, exhausted, and quickly passed out. Those thunderclouds that we had seen all day caught up to us and we were awoken just after 1am to extremely loud claps of thunder, rain and hail pounding on the canvas walls of the teepee, the wooden poles that hold it up rattling in the wind, dirt and rain flying in the sides where the structure wasn't sealed to the ground, and incredibly bright flashes of lightening. Christie's and Sarah's beds were more exposed to the rain and dirt, so they got in bed with me and we weathered the storm together in my bed with the covers completely over us. Of course we all had thoughts of the teepee collapsing or flying away, but we mostly just stayed quiet and let the storm pass. The next morning the girl at the reception desk told me that she was thinking about us all night, and how terrified she was for us. She was so sweet and said that we didn't pay for that experience, and didn't let us pay for that night.

We ate our way around the small town of Marfa. Food Shark was definitely our collective favorite. A month later I'm still craving the fattoush salad. My unexpected favorite thing I did there was tour the grounds of Donald Judd's home and studios. I realize this isn't what I was supposed to take away from the tour, but even just peering in the windows of his home left a lasting impression. I've never seen a house that I've wanted to live in more. No photos were allowed on the premises, but it looks like someone snuck a photo of the exterior.

Equally impressive was his library. His will stated that none of his thousands of books should be moved after his death, so in recent years an archivist photographed each shelf and cataloged his entire collection online. It was a massive project that took two years, but now you can type your zip code into the website and find the closest bookstore to you that sells a given book. Amazing.

I came home from this trip many shades darker (or redder?), and drunk on sun and friends. It's taken this long to be able to articulate anything about this experience, because more than anything, it just feels like a sweet dream that I really can't do justice with words.

*I almost forgot - I owe Michael M. Muller a big, public thanks for sending a list of recommendations for both Marfa and Austin at the very last minute. As our friend said, he's the salt of the earth.

____________________ All photos were taken with my film camera.


My entire life I've struggled with getting up in the morning. For a brief period when I was a little girl, I would get dressed in my school clothes the night before so I could sleep just a little longer in the morning. In the winter, to get me out of bed, my mom would wake me by telling me it snowed outside. For some reason it always worked, and I would jump out of bed and run to the window only to be disappointed. There was actually good reason to not want out of bed when I was young: we only had a wood stove to heat the house, and if the fire hadn't been burning for a while, it was freezing when we got up. That was an excuse during the cold months, but really my problem persisted year round.

As an adult, I'm a serial snoozer on weekdays. There's never anything that sounds more appealing than laying in bed for a few more minutes. Often I don't eat breakfast until I get to work, if at all. My morning routine is frantic, and usually ends in me running out the door with just minutes to catch the bus five blocks away.

The weekends are another story though. One of my favorite things about Saturday or Sunday mornings is that I get to wake up early and enjoy a nice home cooked breakfast. Eggs and coffee are always on the menu, but the rest varies. Sometimes steamed kale with preserved lemon and olive oil, and other times toast and jam. The morning after returning from Florida, I made poached eggs, bacon, toast, and coffee. Simple and delicious.

____________________ This photo was taken with my film camera.

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.

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.


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.