a portland house : fixer upper edition, part 1

a bit back, i posted about turning all my wallpaper fantasies into all my wallpaper realities. the thing about fantasies is, well, they’re just that. they don’t come with a price tag or a budgeting plan or a baby daddy who lives in the real world and has the shitty job of (gently, kindly) shooting down all my whimsical dreams. it’s okay, i still love him. because of his stereotypical jew-like accounting radar (something my jew ass simply doesn’t have), we’re debt-free and can afford to buy all the organic fruit i can stomach. so there’s that. but back to wallpaper business and a house update!

after much deliberation and late night internet worm-holing, i managed to narrow down my billion wallpaper choices to just a few. okay, several. whatever. decisions are not my strong suit. especially when many are needed to be made in a short amount of time and oh yeah, no big deal or anything, but these decisions would be stared at by us, family, friends, strangers, neighbors and pizza delivery kids for the next 10-20 years. ugh. pressure. fun pressure, sure, but pressure. so i sent off for many wallpaper samples, at $1 a piece from wallpaperdirect.com – a site i came across that i’ve been really pleased with, not just for their massive worldwide paper selection but also for their awesome customer service. a rarity these days, it seems. rating customer service is also my own personal indicator that and i’m getting old and cranky. fun. anyway, here’s what came in the mail:Screen shot 2015-06-20 at 2.16.56 PMi’m really glad i decided to throw down a wad of dollar bills to get physical samples. i could 1) see the actual colors up close 2) see the pattern and how large or small it was and 3) walk around the house’s big, empty rooms, holding up the samples on the big, empty walls and visualize the best i could what that room would feel like when covered in wallpaper. on the wall paper direct website, they also have a nice room gallery that can help you see what whole walls plastered in any of their papers will look like.

the husband and i hemmed and hawed and hemmed some more and then started narrowing down room and number of wall choices. wallpapering is not cheap. the paper itself is not cheap (on average, all the samples i loved were over $100 per roll – it will take us two rolls to do a smallish standard sized wall in the bathroom. and the installation is not cheap. unless you a talented mo fo and can do it yourself. i thought about this, i really did. and then i talked to some folks who were like, umm, if you’ve never done it before, this probably isn’t a great first timer situation. no offense. and i was like, none taken. the last thing i want is mismatched seams, mismatched patterns or bubbly walls. but i did figure out a nice compromise, both for my own need to learn new skills and to help soften the installation price which is to help the woman who is doing the installing. she is terrific and talented and told me that she would love to help show me how to properly lay wallpaper if i helped out with the process. done and done.

all that being said, picking out choice walls that i reaaaally wanted to wallpaper was tough but here’s where that left us:

the kitchen nook. a tiny space that makes me so happy. wanted something that would complement the potential beverly hills palm paper that will likely go on the back den wall so i’m leaning towards this fun toucan paper. only drawback, lots of pretty white space which i imagine in a few short years (weeks), will be spotted (smeared) with an array of colorful food stains:

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the other top contenders for this space are these two cow print versions from marimekko. the samples are teentsy so i included larger pictures found online, so you can really see the cow action:

large marimekko cows 2

large marimekko cows 1

ahhh! they’re both so on fleek (that works for things other than eye brows, right?)! can’t you just see yourself, saturday morning light coming in through the windows, kiddos scampering around still in their pjs, first round of french toast sticks in the heavily buttered pan  – you’ve just poured yourself a lovely mason jar of french press (stumptown, barista, coava, water ave., take your local pick, they’re all outstanding and deliciously nerdy) and then you curl into a kitchen nook surrounded by these big-eyed, gentle giants. you can’t see it? well damn, i can.

the den. baby daddy pulled white, arabesque tile to surround the fancy wood-burning stove that we inherited when we bought the house. we would have neeeeever purchased something this extravagant on our own, it wouldn’t have even crossed our wishiest of wish lists but the previous owners spent good money on one and had it installed, chimney and all. everyone who has come through the house has drooled over it and told us we will luh-huve having one in the winter so we are going to be burning some wood and making some fires y’all! bring a mug for hot chocolate and come on over.

og fireplace 1

as stated above, still obsessed with this iconic beverly hills hotel palm paper to cover the back wall of the den. i think the white arabesque tile will look good with the palms. like cookie dough and ice cream. sandals with socks. rice with soy sauce. you get the drift.

palm leaf 1

the upstairs bathroom. this room was gutted so were we happily forced to design (within budget, always within budget) from scratch. we decided to go full force with white subway tile, a nod to our love of nyc. did the tub walls, the floor (no one told us that tiling a floor in wall tile wasn’t the smartest thing to do. oh well.) and every other wall except one, which will be gloriously plastered in this:

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it’s from cole & son, called palm jungle. they carry it in about four different colorways. and here’s current before and afters of where we’re at with the bathroom. due to a just glorious skylight, the room is actually flooded with light but i think because of the size of the room (it’s small) and my mediocre camera skills, these came out lighted terribly.

og bathroom 1

og bathroom 2

and after the white-on-white subway tile and tub went in:

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we also had to tile the kitchen sink backsplash so we laid white subway tile there too. because really, you can never have too much subway tile. the before:

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the after:

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that’s probably all for the wallpaper. i’m super stoked though – it’s a good start and even though i think plainly painted walls are bo-ring, i had to pick some colors for all the other rooms (that is correct, we are painting the entire interior of the house. that’s how much of a hot mess it is) so i spent an achingly long time at sherwin-williams and came up with these swatches:

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i saw this image online and was like, fuck yes, so we’ll see if that comes of anything but for now we’re going with a bright, light cream for much of the main floor, stairway and upstairs.

diagonal wall stripes

attic playroom – black chalkboard paint on bottom and light sky blue for angled walls. here’s our before, i’ll add in an after later:

og attic

chalkboard paint, b-t-dubs, is o-mazing and it now comes in a bunch more colors besides black! you can go old school (literally) chalkboard green and relive third grade! i’ve never painted with it before but i’m so excited! seb is going to have to fight me for doodle room. just remember to cure whatever you’re chalkboard painting before you start drawing. and also! people! there is an outstanding local paint company that slangs chalkboard paint in so many colors! all their paints, chalkboard or otherwise are totally non-toxic / voc free / can be inhaled by small humans and pets without fear! they’re called colorhouse paint! we are definitely buying our chalkboard paint from them. woop!

chalkboard paint

sebe’s room – one cherry red wall and same sky blue on rest of walls as in playroom. his room before:

Sebe's room 1

the after, with the red wall…it occurred to me last night however, as i was putting little muffin to bed, that this is the current crib set-up and i still totally love these dark pieces by our favorite portland graffiti artist rasco:

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there’s also no red in those pieces so maybe i should nix the red and pick a color (purple? orange?) from the rasco art if we’re going to transplant the pieces to the new bedroom…

not feeling 100 about this room because initially i drooled over these wallpapers which got axed off the budget so i half heartedly picked primary colors. inspiration will hit at some point. it’s a kiddo room! it has to be rad!

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kiddo wallpaper

sewing room (did i mention?!?! i wil have a designated sewing and patterning room!!!! oh a girl can dream and those dreams can come true!!! i have massive plans for this space. private classes, group workshops, whatever anyone wants to pay me to do, we can do it in this room. stop. that sounded dirty. sewing-wise. you know what i mean.) – verdict still out but leaning towards a bubblegum pink? eh. i don’t know. i plan to hold mad classes in this space so i want it to read clean, fun, encouraging, inspirational. the kind of space where anything is possible. i love my friend and very accomplished portland pattern maker and designer john blasioli’s gorgeous studio shots that he posts on his instagram. his space is well loved, simple, open and functional. something to aspire to for sure. this first shot was taken by the unfuckwitable mikola accuardi, photographer and portland supply co. blog owner.

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plus he does achingly fun things like this and isn’t afraid of making a giant mess while doing so:

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exterior of the house needed to be painted like whoah so after not so much deliberation, we said black. black is it. i was fully aware that black usually (most of the time. all of the time.) looks best on multi-million dollar mid-century modern houses but hey, our 1922 bungalow is so totally close to that. right? ha. no, no it is not. surprisingly, sherwin-williams has three exterior blacks to choose from so we did three swatches and chose the one that had the most matte appearance; cavier black. the first time i had time to go check out the progress on the house, much of the first coat had been put on the big side wall. i freaked out. i woke up in the middle of the night continuing to freak out. i thought maybe we had made a huge mistake. turns out, a 1922 bungalow is nothing like a multi-million dollar modern house. one of the painters said, “it’s cool. it’s like the adams family lives here.” i wanted to cry. i said maybe we should stop and change it. to like, a brilliant blue or something. baby daddy got out his calculator, pushed up his glasses and gently reminded me that all the paint had been purchased, the work was started and that we weren’t making a huge mistake. that it would look amazing and that with the other pops of color we were planning; huge front window garden box filled with bright green ferny plants and a front door and fence in light-colored wood – that it would be fantastic. i knew he was right. i still loved black over any other color for our house. everyone asked what contrasting trim we would be doing. umm, none, juuust black. the whole, entire, thing black. we like making statements, what can i say.

before:

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after:

black house

the backyard is the other gigantic improvement, which i would have been able to post an after for except that i just went through my phone’s gallery and those photos are mia, which means my very savvy not quite two year-old deleted during one of his recent playing-with-momma’s-phone sessions. even on airplane mode that kid manages to make his mark. i’ll update the after soon. just know there is grass. lush, green, roll your face in it grass.

og backyard

complete with a janky (chicken? dog? we weren’t entirely sure. but it was falling apart and literally covered in shit) coop at the far end near the garage:

og back yard chicken coop

so, let’s see – front windows still need to be installed, whole house will be painted with a second coat soon, i plan on making window seat cushions and fashioning the kitchen of my dreams…but that might be it for now! holy shit. a house. it feels really, really unreal.

if you’re remodeling a space and/or have any helpful tips, suggestions or grumblings of lessons learned the hard way, please holler! especially all you kitchen and craft people!

xoxo!

pookie play date : mother’s day edition

i saw this listed in the merc this week and was like wow, that’s mega adorable, let’s totally go do that with grandma and we can have a double decker mom day date with seb doing all the heavy lifting (emotionally, not physically although the kid is strong, if his recent baby tantrums are any indicator). how fun though, right?! an event held at adx, portland’s tool-sharing, diy, custom fabrication space?! yes please! i’ve been badly wanting an excuse to go check out their digs. perfect! build a planter box where free refreshments and snacks are in arms reach? yes please! i was already drifting off on a three generation daydream of fertilized soil and succulents when i clicked on the website to snag tickets and gosh dammit it’s for kiddos aged 6-12. sigh. oh well. hopefully it’s a smashing success and they’ll still be doing it 5 years from now. shiet. that’s really far away.

adx

but the idea is so stinking cute that i’m going to propose it to my ma anyway. i think she’d love if her grandchile and i picked up the ingredients to bake something yummy together and then the three of us could tend to her backyard garden, which is in full bloom right now. you should see her honeysuckle – the hummingbirds are ev-er-y-where and it’s gorgeous. i guess i don’t have any flicks of seb in ma’s yard but here he is during and after kissing planter boxes on our neighborhood walks.

seb kissing plants

seb after kissing plants

happiest early momma day to everyone who has pushed a human head and body out of their vagina, had one taken out via cesarean, adopted one, is fostering one or has taken on the role of a lifetime and is caring for one they did not birth, adopt or foster. you are all brave, magical unicorns.

i love you so much mom!!!

mom and seb

make shit : super duper easy thrift store dress alteration & the story of my life

i am a community college proud whore. attending a cc allowed my not so ivy league ass to attend a very ivy league university for the last two years of school and graduate amongst a throng of folks much nerdier than myself. and then, years later, while experiencing a mild quarter life crises, a cc allowed me to take affordable classes that fit my work schedule to discover a brand new life passion / part-time career. if it weren’t for portland community college’s (pcc) continuing education department (which is one of the largest in the country – booyah), i know for a fact that i wouldn’t have had banging classes taught by teachers who gave a shit. more than a shit. so much more that, one of my teachers, eileen celentrano, was thoughtful enough to bring me a threads magazine that profiled nicolas caito, the talent behind new york city’s most prestigious pattern making atelier. and oy vey, what a seriously handsome frenchie.

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in a heady, naive move, i contacted the atelier via their website asking about internships and after a short interview over the phone the following week, i was asked to come into the studio for an in-person chat and a draping trial. i have never been more motivated in all my days. i draped and re-draped every garment i could in the weeks leading up to the interview and then with money i didn’t have, i flew across the country to compete with students from fit and parsons and central saint martins for one of three internship slots. and then the email came. whatever amount of desperation i exhibited in that studio must’ve been palpable. for the next four glorious months,  i worked 40 hours a week (no pay, not a dime) learning my dream trade while at night i slept on an air mattress deep in brooklyn and ate beans and rice for dinner. but holy fuck was it worth it. it was the most exhilarating, nerve wracking and marvelous experience of my life. i still sit sometimes and daydream about climbing those five flights of stairs up to the studio, hanging up my faux fur coat, hat and gloves (dead of winter in nyc is NO. JOKE.) and being handed a design sketch by proenza schouler or creatures of the wind or one of a handful of esteemed nyfw designers and being told in that perfectly curt, i’ll-cut-a-bitch tone by one of the head pattern makers to make it happen (a muslin prototype of the garment). which i would spend the next 8, sweaty, nerve and adrenaline-filled hours doing. i had the esteemed privilege to create a skirt from scratch for proenza schouler and work on the finale runway dress for creatures of the wind. here’s some of the other entrees to come out of nicolas’ studio, most which end up somewhere fancy, like the new york times fashion magazine. and here’s a proenza schouler jacket i spied in the times mag many months after being back home from new york.

nicolas caito in ny times

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i’m telling y’all – internship of a LIFETIME (and last time, i told myself, that i would likely ever work again for free). nicolas is such hot stuff that a fashiony blog interviewed him at the studio while i was knee deep in a muslin draping and this photo ended up being published. i love it because when i feel like the whole experience was something i dreamt up, this reminds me that it did in fact go down.

me at nicolas caito

oh, the things you can do before chillrun!!! dammit. just kidding. sort of. aaanyway, four months later and having had the easy opportunity to stay in new york and get work with my newfound pattern making chops (my mentor at the studio, the incomparable dylan abrams, is now the senior studio manager for alexander wang, NBD), i made the decision to come back to portlandia where my folks and my fuck buddy were patiently waiting. my folks were happy to see me and my fuck buddy proposed two days after my return so you know, all things for a reason.

(another fun piece to the whole nicolas caito story is that after my interview while waiting to hear if i landed the internship or not, i was googling the hell out of caito and stumbled upon a blog portlander hannah flor used to write where she essentially had the exact parallel experience as i, just a few years before me. i became enamored with her after reading her blog posts and after my stint with caito, i ended up contacting hannah and got to meet her lovely self for coffee and pattern making gossip. it was wonderful. i believe she is still in new york, working as a freelance pattern maker out of a studio in brooklyn!)

a recent and welcome addition to my mom life lately was the offer from pcc to teach a beginning sewing class, the very same beginning sewing class that i had taken several years ago. i actually took over the class after my dear friend and sewing mentor of sorts passed away suddenly. it was a bittersweet moment accepting the position but i do it for jean and i think about her each week in that classroom. i’ve enjoyed the teaching so immensely that i started offering new classes so here we are – a shout-out to my side gig! in a totally undeserved move, after teaching just two semesters, pcc interviewed me and put it in their fall 2014 catalog. i also owe this press to jean, as it was the story of how i became a teacher that interested the school. thank you miss jean. here’s that ink and the info for the three summer courses coming down the pipe, if you or anyone you know is interested.

 

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pcc learn to sew description

pcc pattern manipulation description

pcc alter your wardrobe description

aaanyways, i say all that to say this; i miss sewing. hella hella. i miss cranking up a podcast of the splendid table or fresh air or starting the entire suede-bound box set of sex and the city series over and blacking out for hours on end at my patterning table tweaking a garment. pushing sebe out was definitely a game changer on many levels and not that i’d want to change anything, i just wish for double the amount of hours in the day so that i can be super momtastic and get my seamstress on. i fo sho cherish the sweet sebe-free hours i get every here and there. one of those here and theres was this past weekend, which started with a bike ride to delish vegan eatery vita cafe on alberta street to suck down multiple cups of coffee and indulge with girlfriends. after brunch, we walked across the street to bristlecone, a most adorable vintage shop run by my girl audie.

bristlecone 1 look how cute she is! such a patootie pie.bristlecone 2i rummaged through her candy-colored racks of clothing and her $3 bins and pulled out this diddy. oh haiii sebe happy at his train table.

bristlecone 3

i’m having the most bubblegum pink moment of my life and the gingham was so springtime-picnic that i snagged it. after trying it on at home, i realized i wasn’t in love with the elastic waistband nor where it was placed (these dresses are never built for the short torso’d among us, are they?) and i wasn’t sure i was into the marmy length. again people, just because you have the chillrun, doesn’t mean you can’t dress like your inner ‘yonce is asking you to. since it’s been fo-ever since i did anything with a needle and thread and i’m hoping this blog will put a stop to that, let’s do a little garment altering shall we? word.

first to go was the waistband. when i turned the dress inside out, i realized that i had in my presence a lovingly handmade piece.

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none of the seam allowances were finished, which is a fail and one i’ll have to go back and remedy by zig-zagging all the seam allowance edges so that the fraying doesn’t get so bad that it compromises the sewn seams but other than that, the dress was put together adorably. oh haiii sebe happy playing with his hamburger stickers.

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trusty seam ripper in hand, i first undid the elastic casing holding the elastic in place and then took out that casing and elastic. like this.

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than the dress looked like this.

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getting better! i could have left it like this if i wanted – tented oversize thangs are so on trend right now, right? but i was like, ah to hell with it, i’m already spending time on this, let’s keep going. so next i took out the collar and collar facing. so now the neckline looks like this.

bristlecone 13

at this point, taking apart the collar and using some of that fabric to make a cute little neckline and then hemming the skirt length to whatever (from ankle-grazing to cho-cha grazing) would finish this off but i really want to turn the long skirt into palazzo’ish pants, throw in a center front zipper and rename this cutie a jumpsuit…i will try and take the appropriate time/photos/explanatory verbiage and do this in a separate post! love you mean it!

bristlecone 10

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* experiment with what your diddy will look like if you decide to a) shorten the hem or b) go for the jumpsuit! *

 

pookie play date : mo phillips!

mo phillips 1
mo phillips. holy warm crap i adore this man. seb and i have booped and bopped all over town to check out the big assortment of kid musicians p-town is currently offering. they are all good. mo is the best. mo is effervescent. mo is energetic. mo is entertaining. mo performs mad original music that he writes and composes (shout-out to “occasional yogurt”, a personal fav), a lot of which is done with his two sons and elementary school students. if mo were a sandwich shop, he’d be Brass Tacks (his favorite nbd). plus the man has a kiss ass sense of humor and that “it” thing. he loves what he does and the chillrun, that’s right, chillrun can tell. i look forward to every friday morning at 10am so that seb and i can bike (when it’s nice) or drive (when it’s nasty) to the Treehouse kid shop/play room and spend the next hour with mo. mo phillips 2

mo phillips 5

i have memorized my favorite tunes of his and sing them back to seb ad nauseam all the damn time. mo treats the chillrun like the mini half-cooked cartoon-like characters they are and all us grown folk appreciate the levity he brings to what might be a bonkers stressed out parenting day. example; there’s a song where he asks the chillrun to shout out different animals for his, “go to sleep” song and one week, a little one offered up something decidedly non-animal, like toaster oven or crackers or something to that effect. and mo loved it. ate it up. was like, “that’s amazing, yes, toaster oven, ‘let’s go with it” and put it in the song where an animal usually goes. i was already drinking the kool-aid and in that instance, i was like, yeah, this dude is the truth. he is endearingly silly and young at heart and i hope he stays that way forever.

go see him whenever, wherever you can. some weeks, the Treehouse is packed and other weeks a smaller crowd shows up. either way is a solid time. plus the room he performs in is perfect – chillrun can be present in the magical mo bubble or wander around the room and play with tons of toys; a train table, a kitchen set-up, buckets filled with puzzles, building blocks and interactive toys plus there’s a separate little room where the chillrun can hide away and play or in the case of my son, retreat to poop.

mo phillips 3

he also plays happy hour every week across the street on Williams Ave. at Poa Cafe, the fam-friendly spot i yammered on about here. sip on an adult bevvy with actual alcohol in it or suck down a yummy chillrun-friendly smoothie with a side of nutritional yeast-dusted popcorn. either way, you’re golden.

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mo’ mo! mo’ mo! mo’ mo! but for reals, go see and support this dude. he’s the goat of chillrun musicians.

mophillips.com

*eight. the number of times the word chillrun was used in this post kay thanks*

wallpapering all my dreams come true.

so, we have this house. still shell-shocked that we managed to pull off buying something in a city where i swear i can hear the up-ticking of the real estate market every passing minute. it’s incredible and we’re probably in over our heads but hey, grabbing and life and balls. plus it’s a mere 10 blocks from my parents so when Sebe is super bugging me stir-crazy, i can just put him on his mini radio flyer and say, “go trike your ass up the street to grandpa’s. just remember to look both ways when you get to the busy street”.

it’s a super duper fixer upper. many, many things need to be done to make it habitable. if it was just baby daddy and i, we could hang – throw some blankets on the floor and the french press, some dry cereal and candles on the counter and work from there. but with the toddler in tow, we should probably finish some stuff. like the second bathroom that was listed in the house description but in reality, looks like this:

bathroom 1

not too bad, right? ha. so of course instead of spending time making important decisions like finding a bathtub, i trolled online for way too many hours drooling over wallpaper. because that’s another thing we are happily forced to wont to do because thismaster bedroom

and this Sebe's room 1 are what we’re working with. the top photo is the master bedroom, or you know, the room where the magic happens. when i’m not too tired. when he’s not too tired. when the baby’s asleep. when we’re able to see each other like the loving fuck buddies we are and not just worn out parents with applesauce stains on our shirts. i digress. the second photo is Sebe/future children’s room. i’m thinking bunk beds if they’re close enough in age. i’m also thinking obsessing about wallpaper. so. much. wallpaper. baby daddy kept bugging me about picking paint colors but every time i envisioned painting, i just wasn’t feeling it. we’ve been living in a castle of an apartment whose last tenant was a sweet little old lady who kept the place decorated as it (originally?) was many moons ago. floral wallpaper and all. seriously.

current wallpaper 1

current wallpaper 2

current wallpaper 3

current wallpaper 4here’s our current bathroom, Seb’s room and kitchen. and while the yellowing floral isn’t my dream scene, i have loved living with wallpaper, so much. now that we have the mind boggling opportunity to break the whole damn piggy bank go a little ham, here’s what i’ve discovered in the world of wallpaper, circa now:

1st choice, always local. there are three folks doing wallpaper right, right here in the city of roses.

the make house

(hunky) make house owner Nathan Reimer has had dinner with Martha Cooper. that should sum up his street cred / bad assery.

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makehouse wallpaper

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aside from that, he runs a super fun creative studio in town where he allows himself to be hit up by strangers asking him how he’d feel about screen printing a gigantic blown up scene of b/boys in new york city in the 80’s on their living room wall. he will be so about it.

juju papers

this cutie couple hand draw their designs and then punch them into the ole’ computer.  small batch runs, water-based dyes and their finish their papers with a natural clay coating for smudge wipeability and to inhibit mildew growth. because mildew, like, gross.

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makelike

another cutie couple who are obsessed with each other (assuming) and making wall coverings. hand screen printed, water-based inks on recyclable paper. boom. portlandia. gotta love it.

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so, clearly, these are all rad choices and any of them would look o-mazing in anyone’s abode, on any viewable surface. however, my baby daddy and i are freaks and as much as i wanted to patronize a local company, i was really looking for something just a tad more 1980’s south bronx x south beach florida in the Bird Cage. nahmean? no? well, shit like this:little greene

cole & son 1

palm leaf 1

so that i can have ridiculous and fabulous dinner parties, like all the time and take photos of my fly girlfriends in the hallway that just happens to look like this, thanks to my tropical life wallpaper.palm leaf 2because let’s face it. i really just want the entire innards of our house to look and feel like i’ve just met up with Nathan Lane in Miami on a sunny Sunday afternoon and we’re going to have sweet teas and pink macaroons in the parlor.tropical life 1tropical life 2

 

okay guys, i spent hella hours digging the depths of computer land for this stuff but here it is, handed to you on a palm leaf platter. you’re welcome. Little Greene is the most delish, out of the UK. Cole & Son also has o-mazing tropi choices. but holy hell of all jackpots, here is where I found the quintessential wallpaper of my fantasies. giving me every ounce of 1980’s miami vice i could ever ask for. now can we please paste this stuff UP and go make fried appetizers to snack on while we finish our shibori teepees?! (this is in the works. promise. i will talk all about it.)

so there’s wallpaper dreams part one. because this post got just disgustingly long and i need to decompress before i let the Marimekko prints out the bag…

love you mean it!!!

pookie play dates : art a la carte

 

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a few mornings ago Sebe and i were faced with the eternal dilemma (or one that only a 19-month old and his stir-crazy mother can have); a city full of mommy and me things to do, which one to take on today?! as with lots of these events, i often see them listed on the pdx kids calendar several times until one day, they seem like the perfect fit for those couple of hours. and too, as the pookie gets older, more of these events feel doable. it’s much more fun when he can participate and it’s not just myself getting giddy over say, a shaving cream table.

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i’ve biked past art a la carte’s new northeast location so many times and always wondered what was happening inside. Complete and utter art making magic, that’s what. there are lots of open studio hours every week. we went on a Wednesday when it’s open most of the day, from 10am-5pm. we got there right as doors were opening which in hindsight, was lovely because it meant that we had the place to ourselves for a few wee moments before the Spring break crowd tumbled in. I don’t even know where to start – the place is basically set up to let anyone from ago 0-120 come in and go ham with supplies like vibrant finger paint, art easels, a ton of bins filled with everything from pom pom balls to stickers to plastic toys to glitter to empty egg cartons that can be regular or hot glued onto a ton of paper/cardboard choices. and the shaving cream table. there’s a shaving cream table. it is awesome. Sebe mostly wanted to try and squeeze out the last few drops of cream from the can. Only my chile would find the can more interesting than the entire cream-filled table complete with tons of interesting toys with which to play with the shaving cream.

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aside from the sheer joy i derived from watching the budding basquiat in my tiny one come alive but holy hell – it was incredible being in a space where every surface has already been covered in glue, glitter and gunk from hundreds of previous sticky little palms. i didn’t have to worry one nanosecond about what Seb was doing or touching or ruining. for maximum fun, all the products put out by the carte, including those bold finger paints,  wash out easily with soap and water (i can vouch for this). even so, i definitely recommend dressing yourself and your mini me in crappy outfits so you can seriously go to town and not give two shits about getting covered in color. after an hour and a half of messy play, Seb and i both left covered in gunk and glitter. the rest of the day, the kiddo looked like he had the best night of his life in pure portland style; strip clubs and food carts, curtesy of multiple snack breaks, which they also totally allow.

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with nap time calling, we headed out on a total art high with gluey fingertips, pen-marked faces and Seb’s first collage – okay so I might have helped a little bit but only because he can’t work a hot glue gun yet, sheesh, everyone’s a critic.

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i can’t wait to go again. c’mon, let’s go glue our fingers together.

artalacartepdx.com

$11 per artist (no fee for adults!)
kiddos get to keep everything they make aaaand you can come, go and come back in the same day!!! just ask for a hand stamp before leaving.

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the miscarriage files & stocking the locavore refrigerator : royal jelly

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in an effort to self educate on the matters of miscarriage, i stumbled on a superfood that is fit for a queen. like, literally. queen bees, to be exact but it turns out, the stuff works crazy wonders on queen human mamas-to-be too. i first read about this magic goo on this site – almost too much information to absorb in one sitting but kind of amazing if you’re feeling anxious and want to re-up what you’re putting in your body while baby-making. natural fertility is run by six women and one brave man, all doulas or herbalists. after my midwife-in-training roommate recommended i start popping Vitex (more on this later), i power-walked to New Seasons and stormed the pharmacy, ready to load up on a bottle of Chaste Berry and one of the three bee by-products said to aid in fertility-boosting matters. portland being incredible portland, of course we have a man who runs his own hive from which he makes and sells ev-er-y-thing bee. he is The Pollen Man and for $18 per ounce (no, not cheap), you can buy a little jar of the freshest, most organic royal jelly, taken from bees whom i can only assume each have names and their own cot on which to sleep. royal Jelly justification for its price tag, from the Pollen Man himself: Continue reading

stocking the locavore pantry : drinking chocolate

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IMAG0225winter has been surprisingly kind this year. at the baby gym the other day, a mom commented that we haven’t had any snow. no snow! true but so sad and as the days get lighter and warmer, looks like the possibility for that is slim. but! while there’s still a chill in the air (and the most gorgeous fog in the mornings and evenings), i figured there was no better time to talk hot chocolate. i’m also super eeeeked to start a series i’ve thought a lot about; creating a kitchen where the fridge and pantry are plump with nothing but products produced locally. every goody discussed in these posts will have come from somewhere in Oregon, including the packaging and design, which we can also drool over. Anything not within the state’s borders and I promise to let it be known. so without further adu*, let’s shout out Treehouse Chocolate Co., whose gorgeous packaging is made with 100% compostable materials.

*creating the most ridiculous fanfare for my own enjoyment, since I’m pretty sure that only my dad and I read this blog. ha.

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treehouse founder Aaron Koch fell in love with chocolate while working on cacao farms in Hawaii and lucky for us, brought the love with him when he made the move to Portland a few years ago. he sustainably sources organic cacao directly from farmer-owned cooperatives and uses simple, whole ingredients like sea salt and vanilla bean to round out the flavors in his cocoas. there are five flavors – Original, Camp (dusted with organic coffee for the perfect mocha-in-a-cup situation), Cherrywood (sea salted deliciousness) and Nectar (coconut-based, making this one vegan!). i’ve yet to try all four but have sucked down Original and Camp, because duh, coffee. they both make for a mug of thick, drinkable chocolate. something akin to letting a Hershey’s bar sit out on the back seat of your Volvo in August and then slurping the remains through a straw. next up for the locavore pantry will have to be Quin’s homemade marshmallows

 


yummy things you can make to eat using treehouse’s cocoa powders:


(last five photos borrowed from treehouse’s instagram)

Neighborhood outing: Hollywood District

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Yesterday morning was gray. And rainy. And cold. But staying inside is super hard for me and since my vitamin D discovery several years ago, the winter weather doesn’t bother me as much (vitamin shout-out to all women of the northwest, pop the highest IU you are comfortable with – go 5,000-10,000 daily and I pinkie promise you will notice a difference in a couple of weeks – I started taking 10,000 IU every day years ago and haven’t looked back since).


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So after the clothing/shoes/socks dance Seb and I do every morning, we convinced baby daddy to bike with us into the Hollywood District. I’d read on pdxkidscalendar.com that the new kids shop Small Fry was having a singalong from 10-11am, which gave us just enough time to pop into my favorite café, Nectar Coffee Bar, for bagel sandwiches and coffee. Natasha, the owner, is the cutest ever and since she took over the café space a couple of years ago, I’ve major fan girled over her. Her menu is entirely vegetarian/vegan, her coffee is yummy and her fresh juices and smoothies are super refreshing. Load up on anything and leave feeling like you did something healthy for your insides. I also love that I don’t have to think about what I’m ordering because everything is kid-approved and sharable.

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I love the Hollywood district because it exudes that true old school Portland vibe that I only feel when I’m in that neighborhood or in parts of North Portland. A huge chunk of the buildings are all still owned by one family who have fought against the rapid investor growth happening everywhere else in the city. Plus it’s super walkable and now that there’s a giant Whole Foods, New Seasons and Trader Joes all within blocks of each other, it makes for the best grocery game in town.

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So, bellies full, we went around the corner to Smally Fry, a super clean, modern new and used baby/kid store. The owner greeted every soggy parent and child with a smile and a sticker (and gave away tiny tees!). She was jazzed to introduce the first monthly event by musical duo Micah & Me (https://www.facebook.com/micahandme), two proud stay-at-home dads who play banjo and guitar and sing kid classics. They were joined by their friend Christopher Routly, another full-time father who was super nice and humble (he’s kind of a big deal in the daddy world). [daddydoctrines.com]

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After chatting with the fellas and taking some quick pictures of the shop’s cuteness, we walked across the street to the Hollywood Library, a place Seb gets to go every Tuesday afternoon with grandpa and abuelita for Book Babies (https://multcolib.org/events/book-babies), an adorably educational weekly for littles that involves singing, reading and bubbles. I’d gotten an email that after a two-month wait, a copy of The Marshmallow Test was on hold and I wanted to grab it. Living a life with less need for instant gratification? Umm, yes please. I think the book talks about how to achieve that for yourself and how to parent in that vein. Hoping I make the time to get through it before it’s due back. That and All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood are the two books I really want to get into. [NPR Fresh Air interview with All Joy and No Fun author here : http://www.npr.org/2015/01/30/382428335/are-we-having-fun-yet-new-book-explores-the-paradox-of-parenting]
In addition to these spots, there is Velo Cult bike, coffee and beer shop where you can ponder custom-build bicycles for two, Just 4 Kids consignment boutique and the Hollywood Farmer’s Market, which is so fun in warmer weather. Tons of vendors hocking farm-fresh and prepared foods. This type of thing is Portland at its finest. Hollywoodfarmersmarket.org for all the deets!

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Fix-It Fair : The Un-Handywoman’s Guide To Becoming Handy

fix it fair portland oregon

fix it fair portland oregon

fix it fair portland oregon

OMG. So, this post is prefaced with the fact that my ma is an undercover handy-woman. She has volunteered with Portland’s Habitat for Humanity Women’s Build for years, building houses all around town that are affordable and given* out to families in need. Women’s Build is just that – a huge group of women who don hard hats and power tools and band together to construct houses. I’ve joined in the past couple years on their mother/daughter build day which is on Mother’s Day (so sweet, I know). http://www.habitat.org/wb/diary/2011_nwbw/diary_blog_five_2011.aspx – that may or may not be me in the checkered shirt with power tool in hand, concentrating really hard not to chainsaw off a finger. These were some of the most exhilarating hours I’ve spent with my mom, probably second to having her in the delivery room while pushing Sebe out into the world but I’ll save that story for later. So anyway, my mom always seems to know about the raddest local stuff happening and since baby daddy and I are maybe about to empty out our entire savings account and Sebe’s college fund on a fixer-upper house, she suggested that we attend a Fix-It Fair. (College or not, I always said Seb can be a shoe cobbler, I don’t care, I just want him to be happy. And have a Woody Allen-like sense of sarcastic Jewish humor. But less neurotic.)

fix it fair portland oregon

fix it fair portland oregon

The Fix-It Fair was held at Rosa Parks Elementary School, a relatively shiny and new school nestled in the middle of Multnomah Village. The school seems like a winner on lots of levels so I’ll be checking them out more when Sebe is getting close to kindergarden age. The fair was so much more involved than I envisioned it to be. My dad joined us and he was impressed too (it’s tough to impress a former boy scout, just saying). There were tons of booths; folks like the Energy Trust of Oregon who essentially give away cash incentives for doing things for your house like weatherization, adding solar power panels or doing anything renewable energy-related. They were giving away energy-efficient shower heads and adorable stick-on 5-minute shower timers to remind those of us who, umm, maybe take more than 5-minute showers.** The Portland Fruit Tree Project was there handing out packs of fruit tree seeds and I learned about the Community Energy Project, located right on Alberta Street. They were offering free weatherization classes at the fair (I learned how to help an older house retain heat during cold months) and they conduct free home safety repairs for low income and senior citizen housing all over the city.

fix it fair portland oregon

fix it fair portland oregon

There was also a fix-it café which included free bike or small electronic appliance repair, free child care, free lunch and a hefty raffle for all kinds of handy fix-it gear.

After a few hours, I walked away with a free Ginko Bilboa tree, a toilet tank water saver plug, a shower timer, tons of pamphlets for local resources for everything house and child-safety related, a full belly, a sleeping baby and a happy father who is excited to help us check the status of our water heater. The next fair date is going on our family calendar and this time, I’m making sure baby daddy isn’t out of town on a business trip so that he can learn first hand how to install window weatherization strips too.

*Habitat requires 500 hours of on-site sweat equity from the family to whom the house is being given. The house does of course cost money but Habitat works with local banks and the generous donations of business and individuals to make the monthly payments amazingly affordable. It is an amazing non-profit. Holler if you would like to know more and I can email you!

**I just threw baby daddy under the hot water bus. That’s okay. We all have things we should work on. Anything for you, mother nature.