Parlez Vous Francais Dick et Jane?

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This weekend was busy but fun. My godparents came down to celebrate france with me. We started the weekend drinking a lovely bottle of french wine and looking over pictures of the areas we were going to travel. I CANT WAIT!

Saturday we got up early and went down to the Portland Art Museum to view to The Dancer; Degas, Forain and Lautrec exhibit. It far surpassed what i had hoped for. I have always been entranced by Ballet and the fluid grace in which dancers are able to move their bodies. These artists captured it so elegantly and so rawly. The sordid backstage shenanigans the young girls were privy to is astonishing. OK so it is France…in the late 18th century. Of course it was raunchy. The artists got it down with perfection. The mothers used to contract their 14 year old daughters to these dirty old fat frenchmen for baubles and a comfortable life…comfortable for whom is what i want to know? It was still fascinating to see in pastels :)

After that we had a lovely lunch at South Park and then went to a Bead Expo. Holy Hell! that is all i can say to that. millions of beads and beading products. I cant believe the things people need to do with beads! i saw some gorgeous blown glass creations. I also somehow managed not to spend a dime…how did i do that? Peggy, my godmother, did some damage and is making me a gorgeous pair of earrings. But she wanted to make sure i wasnt expecting them anytime soon :) i discovered that in general, beaders are special.

I sadly must confess the next part of our adventure involved what i used to think was a fantastic restaurant. I chose French of course. Sel Gris and Le Pigion were full which isnt a huge surprise so i chose Fenouil. It is a much larger restaurant to easy to get a table on saturday night. This is a gorgeous restaurant (i.e. i could live there) but the food was dreadful! I felt like i was at a glorified Olive Garden. It was really disappointing. We have soooo many excellent restaurants here in PDX, Fenouil will not be on the list again. Certainly not for the prices. I must give props to the pastry chef, she was lovely and those chocolates were loaded with liqueur.

All in all it was a wonderful weekend and it was great to catch up with Peggy, she is a wonderful caring god-mother. And Tom fixed my closet door! Thanks Tom!

on a final note, Sunday we went to my favorite fabric store Fabric Depot and after the GPs headed back to Seattle, i sat down to sew a baby blanket for my oldest Portland friend, Nina and her soon to be bundle of happiness. Cute huh? Go Dick and Jane! PS Sami, i got all of our apron making supplies!

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P.S.S. we had SNOW here!  my yard was covered! doesnt it look cold? maybe that just because my furnace is dead and i am freezing inside too!

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Il Fait Froid! TRES FROID!

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I am still just tickled that it is spring…even though the snow level has plummeted to 500 feet and I am still in my down coat and scarves and mittens. i have to wear socks to bed and my furnace is broken…Hence the decision…HEAT or TRAVEL. please. like it was a real choice. I have 2 drawers full of socks

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However, to keep my happiness level at a keening height of delirium i decided to take a closer look at my Itinerary for Provence this summer. I wanted to see the hotels i would be staying in and they all have pools! My levels of delirium are about to max out. I still forget that i am going and now that April is nearing i am having almost nightly dreams about my travels through Italy. sigh…

So if you need to heighten your senses of happiness, here is a place to shut down and dream of the magical wonderland of sounds, smells and sights. I can already feel the heat of the Mediterranean sun beaming down on my face in a small village, listening to the french banter around me while sipping a cold white wine with some pungent cheese of choice on my fresh baguette with a fig tapanade. All of this will occur, while i present myself in a crisp white linen skirt, flowery blouse and sandals blessed with a lovely golden tan and big Audrey Hepburn sunglasses. Seriously if this moment occurs, i will take a picture. It sounds almost too good to be true doesn’t it? piscine3.jpg

Hotel #1- 3 nights
http://www.auberge-veyret.com/gb/accueil.htm

Hotel #2 – 1 night
http://www.thuries.fr/gastronomie/hvc_hotel.php?sess=4607667de24e84b562ebd633e19535a3〈=en

Hotel #3 -1 night
http://www.lecalendal.com/us/lieu.htm

Hotel #4 – 3 nights COOKING CLASS!!
www.bastide-princes.com/cooking-classes-pierre-paumel.htm

Hotel #5 – 1 night
http://www.hotel-artea-aix-en-provence.com/en/presentation/

Hotel #6 – 2 nights
http://en.venere.com/hotels_cap_d_antibes/cap_d_antibes/hotel_beau_site.html?action=photo_gallery#start

Tale of One Chick on Easter and baby chickens too

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This weekend had the perfect assortment of new life and delicious food. After taking the dogs out to doggy-land for a good hard run, i drove out to Burns Feed Store off of Orient Drive and checked out the Chick Scene. I walked into the store and i could hear them! They were calling to me but i couldnt find them. Then before my eyes was a ROOM full of heat lamps, pine chips and peeping chickies.  My eyes got dreamy (see previous baby goat post for same starry look) and my throat closed up with a suppressed squeal. There were chicks and chicks and more chicks and hten in the next room there were goslings and ducklings and bunnies oh my. The gal who ran the chick arena was Fran. Fran is my new Goddess of the chickens. She is a no nonsense, lets get you prepared for your ladies, type of gal. I went home with my feed, my lime green feeder, my red watering thingy, my pine chips and grit and most importantly, my name on the Chick list! I am getting four little girls. here are pictures of what they will look like. It is like adoption! my friend adopted a baby from Vietnam and for weeks all we had was this glorious picture of a bundle in pink to ogle. I feel like that!

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Americana (Easter Egg laying love monkeys)
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Black Autralorp (can i eat your foot?)
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Red Sexlink (playing telephone…Sarah is the best chicken mama ever! pass it on)
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  Buff Orpington (aka egg-laying tea cozy playing leap frog?)

Aren’t they amazing? When i I think that my chicks are still eggs i get all sappy.  I certainly have my work cut out for me but i cant wait! i am even asking for the day off to make sure i love them enough..and maybe the day after that too. I am going to name them Gladys, Jenni, Harriet and Penelope . 2 of those are after my grandmother and great grandmother on my mom’s side who were chicken mavens themselves. I have always been smitten with the name Penelope and if there wasnt a better name for a Hen then Harriet, i dont know  what is. Isnt there a children’s book about Hattie the Hen or was it Penelope? was that the Sky is falling chicken? I dont know which will be which yet, i will have to wait until i meet them. sigh….such love.

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This little one thinks so!

Then on Sunday I shared Easter Dinner with a large collection of friends and we had a feast! I made Ricotta dumplings with spinach, fresh asparagus and mushrooms. YUM! of course i made the ricotta because i am ruined now. We also had burbon roasted Ham, Herb crusted Lamb, bacon brusselprouts, carrots, taters, sweet taters, nut brown rice, and peanut m&m’s. (we forgot dessert)

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The Egg Moon

HAPPY SPRING!!

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Apparently yesterday was the first day of Spring but i am still celebrating today because yesterday’s early arrival caught me off guard!  Last night I went to my book club to talk about eggs…in many forms. We are celebrating the Egg Moon this month as we read in Jessica Prentice’s book, Full Moon Feast.  This is the time of year that hens begin to lay eggs again as the days grow longer and warmer. For people all over the world, this meant adding fresh eggs back into their routine diets. We are talking ducks, geese, fish, chickens, iguanas…you name it we eat it somewhere. Eggs are a major source of nutrition for all cultures and is one of the only staples that has no culinary  boundaries.
Five of us met to talk eggs and sustainability and the amazing if not bizarre world we live in today. All of us agree we live in a wonderful bubble called Portland that permits us to talk of such things with like-minded people.
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note the spoon at the ready
Most importantly we had wonderful eggalicious foods. I captured it essence on GW’s plate because his was the prettiest. We had deviled eggs, a wonderful japanese egg custard, roasted pepper soufflé and a fermented black tea  that was really incredible! oh and that is home-made kimche and sauerkraut.
Next Month is the Milk Moon April 21st. mmmmmmmm yum!

Where Do I Sign Up?

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Last night i went to my first Cheese Makers Forum. I had no idea what to expect. I brought my little tub of Chevre and my cookbook and hoped to gain some useful incite about the creation of glorious cheese. Our next meeting will be April 16th Foster and Dobbs. I believe someone is going to teach us how to make something on a hot plate! If the people of Mesopotamia can do it over a fire, we can certainly use a hot plate right??

What struck me was how many people had that same desire. The place was packed with eager cheesers full of tales of woe or success. It was fun! Portland, yet once again, strikes me as a place for anyone willing to stick their .02 in. I was most blessed to be seated between 2 wonderful women who had years of cheese making between them and the willingness to try anything once, maybe twice if the first time was questionable. To my left was a women who owns her own goats and has tried, in her own words, anything that can and will be made from a goat’s milk. I hope to someday make soap with her! To my right was a woman who had, long ago, owned her own cow and produced all sorts of treats! Now that her family is settled, she is ready to dig in again. Between the 3 of us, i think we have a pretty great chance to create some magical cheese. Our first test will be Brie! oh lordy, how wonderful is that?!

Another thing that struck me about that meeting were the words Urban Homesteader. Something about that phrase just perked my nerve ending up and sent them to milk the goats and collect the eggs. For the past year i have slowly come into my own sense of self. I know i love to travel and will do so for as long as i can. But on the flip side, i love to be home. Not just home, but part of my home. I want to become part of the earth that i call home. I have been given this gift of place. All at once the phrase Urban Homesteader is complicated and simplistic. What could be more simple and easy then slowing down from the daily grind to feed your soil to grow vegetables,  raise your own food, collect your own eggs. As you may sense, this is also a complex role. To really appreciate your harvest and savor the goodness you have created, you work hard! The earth is in ever-evolving movement. The soil, the animals, the trees and weeds are all part of this dance and to become part of it, you really have to almost embrace the complexities of it and go along for the ride. The Earth does not profit from domination, we have seen that.  So i like that phrase Urban Homesteader. I want to co-exist in my city full of art and people and movement and chickens and canned peaches and fresh cheese. I love this place and i wont settle for less then it all!

the Ides of March FUN

This weekend was chalked full of fun. I not only had my adopted parents in town but we got to celebrate my sister-in-law’s mother’s 60s birthday in full flower power bloom. It was great and she was completely surprised! I had 3 favorite moments at that party.

the-originals.jpg 1) seeing matt and kathleen in tie-dye and head garb. they looklike they have smoked a little flower power dont they? i highly doubt it. good pun eh?

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2) watching Carolyn brave her flaming fire hazard of a cake and her beloved grandson all in one day (note shield). I am still not sure which was scarier.
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3) watching all the normal people stare at me like i was a complete loon

After that adventure we packed into the car, picked up Mieke and headed to IKEA. while the little miss was bouncing around in the ball room (the greatest play room ever) Kathleen and i wandered in that perfect IKEA daze for a couple of hours. Ifound a really cool craft project for Mieke and me. You take these little plastic beads and place them on grids and then run an iron over the whole thing to seal it and Voila! magical plastic art thing. it is actually really cool and kept us entertained all evening.

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The next day, thanks to a beautiful letter to the Easter Bunny, he came a week early and we got to have our annual hunt for eggs. Then it was time to prepare for our guests and dye some eggs! i wasnt quite sure what to expect with 12 egg dying crazies in my house but it was just so much fun! my nails are still turquoise today. Nina also discovered that the packing materials around her new mac notebook were perfect egg shaped holders!

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after an awesome lunch, thanks to stacey, everyone went home for naps and i passed out! i didnt really move for the rest of the day or night and slept like a rock.

Oh but i did pick up a wine fridge from a lovely lady (Cheryl) i found on Craig’s List. I am going to use it for hard cheese aging! i agree with Cheryl. I drink it too fast to store is some fridge too.

I would say all in all, it was a very successful weekend. Sami, i owe you a phone call! ZZZZZZZZZZ

Symphony no 2 in E minor, Op. 27 by Sergei Rachmaninov

I dont know if or how a person can relate to this because it is so personal but i was just hit like a bolt of lightening with a memory. The most beautiful and sad memory a girl can have. My mother was very sick, she had terminal cancer. I was dealing with it as best i could and trying to make sense of it all. She was a shell of the person she had once been but to me she was still more beautiful then any person who had walked this earth. It had to be Spring because the sun was just beginning to warm the new buds on the trees and we were so blessed with glorious weather for days on end. I remember she was lying in her bed, where she had been confined for at least a month. She seemed blissfully at peace but i knew she was also dealing with demons of the likes we cant imagine. This was a woman who surrounded herself with beauty and passion. She played the piano, taught others, designed and produced magical art. She was such the essence of life and here she was trapped in a bed in a rose pink room in a rehabilitaion home, on hospice and couldnt even move her fingers to communicate, let alone play the piano. I remember it was a sunny day, i was running around in and out and i seem to recall that she was tired but sad to see me go. The sun was lit in her room and blanketed the masses of flowers and cards around her in warmth. I asked if she wanted me to put on some music and she did. So i put on her favorite cd. she had been obsessed with it for months, it drew her in a gave her a place of peace i remember seeing her at home, battling unknown struggles with her memories and thoughts and listening to this same cd with her eyes closed and a smile so peaceful on her face. I knew she was somewhere else. So that day i put on that cd and she closed her eyes and smiled and i closed the door and left with that constant twinge of guilt muddled with panic and grief.

I haven’t been able to listen to that piece of music in almost 5 years. I had a friend put in on once not knowing what it was and i broke down and started to sob immediately. It was like something took me over. I scared him to death and then he started to cry when i told him why. So today as i near a 5 year mark without my mother, i am driving back to work from lunch listening to the classical station and this piece of music comes on. It was so beautiful to me and i couldnt quite place it. It jsut washed over me and made me so peaceful. I immediately had visions of an old Audrey Hepburn movie and love lost and beautiful dresses and gentlemen with that glimmer in their eye and simpler times. I dont even know why. I have almost successfully listen to it now for the first time. it truly is an amazing piece of music, although i still need a box of tissues