Monthly Archives: September 2012

PDX PIX: OMSI & Voodoo

After some technical difficulties I’m finally sharing some of my vacation photos.  These are from Portland though we’ve moved on to Seattle.  In fact, we return home tomorrow.  But better late than never.

The Willamette River runs through city;  the picture above shows Marquam Bridge, one of 10 bridges that cross the river in Portland. Rem and I took the MAX, a light rail train from Hillsboro where we were staying into the city to visit OMSI, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

I loved the different designs etched in the glass of the transit shelters

He was reading The Hobbit, published 75 years ago on that very day, September 21.

The Validator.

Physics and Chemistry Labs…a little different than the ones back home at College of Marin.

Rem gives weather-forecasting a try: he’s in front of a green screen watching the monitor with the map.

A cool, floating globe.

Docked outside is the submarine USS Blueback.  Rem had hoped to do some ham radio from the sub but the radio operator he would have worked with had to cancel.

Touring the sub was still fascinating.  We learned that the meals on a sub are known for being delicious. You’ve got a hard-working crew with little distraction aside from their duties so good food was important.  When they load all the food on board for 60 days at sea, they had to have enough for 90 days. They served 4 meals a day to the 85-member crew and it took 14 TONS of supplies! After the cupboards, drawers, ends of the bunks, showers, walk-in freezer and walk-in fridge were stuffed full they still had cans of food to store. The solution: line the floor with #10 cans of fruit, vegetables, condensed milk, tomato sauce, etc. and cover the cans with rubber mats. Voila! Extra storage.  The cooks must have had a layout of where everything was so they could find it later.

After the tour (and hearing about the food on the sub) we headed for downtown and something to eat.  We had a snack at one of the many food carts (fried egg roll for Rem and a salad roll with shrimp or spring roll for me),

before heading to Voodoo Doughnut for some magic.

We were visiting Voodoo for the second time.  On our first day in town, Lisa included Voodoo in her mini-tour of Portland.  We’d split a maple-bacon bar. But with so many choices, we wanted to go back.

While waiting in line we met 8-week-old Darby, a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog.

A hole in the screen door gave us a view of the doughnut makers at work.

Good Things Come in Pink Boxes.

One maple, one chocolate and two Portland Creams: Raised yeast doughnut filled with Bavarian cream with chocolate on the top and two eyeballs!  We saved the PC’s for breakfast the next morning.

A full day in Portland and two full tummies.

Coming soon: more pictures from Portland!  Thanks for stopping by.


Filed under Life

Happy Mail

I sent this red ball to Eamon who I was visiting on vacation.  Notice the stickers on the ball.  I actually mailed the ball with no box or other packaging!

Before leaving California, I saw this site: giver’slog, where AmberLee writes about mailing fun stuff without a box.  She has mailed flip flops and a sand bucket!  She has mailed plastic bottles filled with colored pencils. She has mailed a Frisbee.  She has also mailed a ball and I knew that I wanted to try it.

Just a day or two before leaving for the first part of our vacation (Portland), I picked out the shiny red ball at Safeway.  I used a Sharpie to write the mailing and return addresses on the surface of the ball.

Then I took it to the Post Office.  I felt a little silly but also happy to be sending something without any package.  It was fun!  I asked the clerk if I could mail the ball and he kind of shrugged and said yes.  Another customer looked over and said “Are you mailing a balloon?” And I said “No, just a ball.”  It made me smile.

The clerk had a little bit of a challenge weighing the ball.  But he managed.

I asked for it back so I could take a photo with the postage on it.

Next time I think I’ll ask for stamps because they’re more colorful.

Here are the how-to’s for mailing stuff without boxes.  The item needs to be 13 oz. or less.

I didn’t tell Eamon’s parents about the surprise that was heading their way.  I heard that their mail carrier delivered it to their door with the comment “You must have a special Auntie”.  What a nice thing to say!

Please let me know if you decide to send some happy mail of your own.  Thanks for the visit.


Filed under Crafts, Life

Bookstore Envy

On vacation it is just about impossible to see everything a city has to offer.  You check with friends and look at travel guides both online and in print as you make your plans.  You make a list.  But when it comes down to it there are only so many hours in each day.

In this case I’m talking about my visit to Powell’s City of Books in Portland, OR.  Those of you who’ve been to Powell’s are probably smiling in recognition.

Even before you get through the door you know you are at a special place because of the  giant books carved into the column outside the entrance.   Now I wish I’d taken a few more moments to look at them but I had to get inside.

This place is ginormous. It is arranged in this a of layered stack of shelf-stuffed spaces. Stairs go up half a flight here, a full flight there, signs point in different directions to color-named rooms.  The arrangement is a bit baffling but also kind of magical.

In the photo above  I was in the Blue Room which led to the Gold Room.  From there  I could also go the the Coffee Shop or to the Orange Room. Got that? I could have been happily lost for hours or even days.  But I had a limited amount of time.  Luckily there are information desks all over the place and staff were very helpful. As I stumbled about, wide eyed, they pointed me in the right direction.

First I wanted to see my friend Tom’s cookbook on the shelf.

I was told to look (and I found two copies) in the giant cookbook section in the regional area under California and then alphabetical under author. Check.  By the way, that’s a giant section, not one for cookbooks that are super-sized, although this one would would qualify on both counts.

Then I backtracked to zigzag through several aisles that had caught my eye. In most bookstores the craft section isn’t very big. But I was at Powell’s which is a city block of books. The Crafts & Collectibles section is five full aisles.  FIVE.

Tall shelves on both sides of the aisles from 500 to 510.

Sewing and Felt is one whole side of an aisle.

These are the books on felting.  I can’t even find one book on felting in many bookstores.

I was determined to complete a quick tour of the whole place before leaving. I went up the main stairs to the top or Pearl Room – here is the view down.

I found this helpful sign:

Too bad I hadn’t studied the map and done more research. Instead I was doing a kind of power-browsing as I tried to taste enough of Powell’s that I could go away satisfied if not satiated.

I found a small Moleskine notebook on sale that has a beautiful blue cover.  I picked up an Anne Fadiman book, Ex Libris,  that I’d read and enjoyed to give to my friend Lisa. I found another one, Rereadings, edited by Ms. Fadiman, and decided to get one for my self and one for Lisa.  I also picked up Wild by Cheryl Strayed which I’ve been wanting to read.

Limited both by time and the size of my luggage I really only had a taste of Powell’s.

In the checkout line I picked up one more item: a bag with Powell’s written across an outline of the state of Oregon and a picture of the state bird, the Western Meadowlark. It had only been a nibble of this amazing place but I left happy.

I’m also very happy to be on vacation and finishing a post.  Thanks for stopping by.


Filed under Life

Baked Feta with Greens and Avocado Salad

This is a delicious salad and I only wish I could give you a taste.  I’m afraid my photos don’t capture the combination of flavors and textures that has my mouth watering at the memory.  But you really should just go on faith here and make it.

The salad is a wonderful balance of crisp, creamy, crunchy, rich, and salty dressed with fresh lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil.

I saw the salad on The Hazel Bloom and had all the ingredients so I gave it a try.

It is made up of mixed greens topped with avocado and a zesty spritz of lemon.  That is than top with feta cheese that has been baked along with some torn bits of bread that have been drizzled with olive oil.  The resulting melty-warm feta and crispy bread crumbs are what really take this salad from good to I-want-it-again-now wonderful.  A grind of black pepper and you are ready to eat.

Note: I’ve made this for myself twice and I just cut the recipe in half.

Baked Feta with Greens and Avocado Salad

Serves 2

2 oz. feta cheese (I love Pastures of Eden Israeli feta, available at Trader Joe’s)

1/2 cup crusty bread torn into small pieces

2 Tbsp. olive oil

4 cups mixed salad greens (your favorite combination from the Farmer’s market or an easy bagged salad from your local grocery store)

1 avocado

juice from half a lemon

black pepper


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Put the feta in a baking dish and scatter the torn bits of bread on and around it.  Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and bake for about 10 minutes until cheese is soft and crumbs are toasty.

While the cheese and bread are in the oven, put the salad greens on your serving plate and top with sliced avocado. Squeeze lemon juice over the avocado.

When the feta cheese and toasted crumbs are ready, put the cheese on top of the avocado and scatter the toasted crumbs.  Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the salad and grind black pepper on top.

Now eat it right away so you can enjoy the contrast between the cool, fresh salad greens, and the warm cheese;  the crunchy, toasty bread crumbs and the buttery avocado.


Thank you for coming by.


Filed under Cooking

Bracelet Keyring

I have just two keys that I carry at work.  I keep them separate from other keys because I don’t want to carry around the car fob (aka the “beeper” or “clicker”) all day at the office.  For years I have had these keys on a stretchy plastic cord like an old style phone cord.

Mine looked a lot like this one but it broke so I don’t have a picture of it.   I could slip the cord on my wrist when I was out of my office and if I did set them down, the bright red helped me notice them on a desk our counter top and remember to pick them up.  Most of the time.

Over the years, the plastic got kind of grimy and I often thought I should clean it but I never got around to it. Then it broke and I decided make a replacement instead of buying another plastic one.

Although I’ve been very focused on beads and bracelets lately, for this super simple project I used big, chunky beads.  I had an old beaded watch band I’d made years ago with beads that I loved.  I never repaired it because I don’t wear a watch but I saved the beads and now I had a use for some of them.

Lots of places sell beads, not just bead stores.  Michaels, Joann, and even Walmart. If you don’t live near a store with beads, there are a bazillion stores online selling beads.  Like this one.  Or this one.

I think this is best for a ring with only a few keys.  I like to slip it over my wrist when I am walking around the campus.  Lots of keys would have made it too heavy for that.

I used a fairly thick, stretchy bead cord – 1 mm Stretch Magic.

Cut a piece of cord about 10 or 12 inches long so you have plenty of length for knotting.  String the beads – if you want you can tie a loose knot with the first bead to keep the others from slipping right off the other end.  I like how it looks with small beads as spacers in between the big ones.

When you think you have enough,  hold the cord ends tight with one hand and see if you can fit your hand through the bracelet.  You don’t want it so big it will fall off or so small it strangles your wrist.  Add or remove beads as needed to get the right size.  Slide your key ring on.

Tie a knot in the cord.  Now take one end of the cord and thread it back through a few beads in one direction and thread  the other end back the other way through a few beads.  Tie each end once around the cord in the bracelet and, if you can, push the end back through to the original knot.  I didn’t originally glue the knots but I did after using it for a few weeks after reading on  a bead site that they recommend that.  I used E6000 but there are probably better bead adhesives.  After the glue dries, trim the ends.  That’s it!

I love quick and easy projects and this is something I use every day at work. I made one for my mom after she admired mine.  I bet there are plenty of you reading this who’ve got the beads at home.  Go ahead, dress up your keys.  This is so much cuter than the old one and it makes me happy.

It also makes me happy that you stopped by for a visit.  Thanks!

1 Comment

Filed under Crafts