a sauvie island blueberry pie

as we move into the second half of 2015 and i continue to be freaked out by how time is passing exponentially faster as i get older (dear old dirty bastard i’m getting older), i have made some self improvement promises to myself.

1. to sew more. caftans, kimonos, muumuus, palazzo pants, ponchos, jumpsuits, rompers. a new wardrobe is severely overdue.

2. to form a rad momma & me co-op situation in our new neighborhood. i need reinforcement to travel smoothly through parenthood. and i need a few hours each week where sebe gets his playtime on with other kiddos and momma can do more of numbers 1, 3 and 4 on this list.

3. to play dress-up more like i did pre-kiddo and less like i have been post-kiddo, which is just a fugly travesty and i won’t stand for it any longer.

4. to cook more. for years, i have been an avid stalker of a few foodie podcasts and blogs. i click on them every couple days, drooling over the gorgeous photography, the recipes and the ability of the women behind the blogs to balance baby daddies, kiddos, housekeeping, a social life, a steady social media presence AND the seemingly luxurious hours necessary to peruse farmers markets for the freshest ingredients out of which they craft decadent meals. these women are either half robot or just simply better human beings than myself, a hard truth i’m willing to accept. for now. until now. so here we go.

my very, very favorite food blog is all vegetarian, which is how heidi swanson first won my heart. she has been cooking and writing about her cooking for a long time and she is damn good at it. her blog, 101 cookbooks, was inspired by all the cookbooks she uses to find her next meal idea, many of which she tweaks to make even better. all her recipes are taste-tested, which is huge when following someone else’s recipe. you know an actual person has made it, eaten it and not spit it out. a new journey starts with a single step, or something like that. i decided mine would begin with pie.

last weekend, sebe woke up from his nap and i thought it would make for a fantastic date if we drove out to sauvie island and picked blueberries. it was going to be his first time and i always get geeked up about first times. they include having dance parties while we pack our outing bag and scream-singing, “whoooooooooohooooooooooooooo” complete with raise-the-roof hand motions the entire drive to wherever we’re going. this summer’s fun caliber is symbiotically affixed to the number of whoohoos being made at any given time. we’re doing pretty okay so far. i’m proud of us. sauvie island, if you’ve never been (insert empathetic facial expression here), is a mega magical place where anything can happen. in my lifetime, these things have most often included but are not subject to; playing on the beach and swimming in the water, driving from farm to farm, picking fresh fruit, veggies and flowers, attending the best pumpkin patch in all the land every year in October (complete with a corn stalk maize/maze, barnyard full of cute animals and another barnyard full of farm fresh edibles and in my more adult years, fashion photo shoots with brianne wills, my photographer partner in crime, who has recently moved to nyc to become famous. the photo above was my attempt to show off the gorgeous sauvie island bridge without getting out of the car because, you know, fast highway cars and toddler in the back seat. anyway, i’m telling you guys, it is an actual island! you get to drive across a beautiful little bridge which (little known portland fact coming up) was constructed as a mini trial version of the golden gate bridge in san francisco. how. rad. is. that. super rad. it’s super rad.

every summer growing up, my parents would take my brother and i to the blueberry house to spend hours plucking the ripest and most delicious blueberries that we got to take home and eat ourselves silly off of. in my childhood memory, it was a gigantic white house with lots of dogs running around and blueberry fields as far as the eye could see. going back with seb last weekend, i had a good giggle about childhood memories and am thankful that at least while not entirely reality-representative, mine were at least overly optimistic. the blueberry fields are there and they still stretch as far as you can see. the house is big but not gigantic nor white and the dogs (i know they had some) were not there to run or roam. but everything else was as if time has stood still the last 30-something years. the same buckets you can borrow to pick, the same scale used to weigh your bounty and the same woman who started the farm way back when is still sitting, chatting with every wide-eyed picker who comes calling. we arrived around 4:30pm and the farm closes at 6pm but for that entire hour and a half, my little boopie, not yet two years old, sat in the hot afternoon sun and picked blueberries with me. okay, he more like pulled the branches and grabbed at the berries and they were less blue, more green but he was a goddamn trooper and i was bursting with momma adoration. every once in a while, he would bring his bucket over to my container and dump his goods in. “oh my gosh seb! look at all the blueberries you picked! you’re doing such an awesome job!” he seriously looked proud and would walk back to another bush and begin his pulling/grabbing again. then i would quickly try to toss all his green berries out of my bucket before he could see. at least i try to find every opportunity for a learning lesson. “see these? these are blue. see these? these are green. just try to pick the blue ones. they’re ripe and you can eat them. don’t eat the green ones. they will make your baby tummy hurt.”

and so it went, with me picking and seb pulling until all three of my containers were full. we had exceeded all my expectations for the amount of fruit we could haul home. we were hot, sweaty, dirt-covered and so, so happy. i can’t remember how much per pound it was but for $22, we walked away with 11 pounds of blueberries, a jar of farm fresh honey and two honey sticks (seb luh-huved his).

we both had blue tee shirts on while picking blueberries. sometimes cute shit like that happens accidentally and i’m totally okay with it. but back to the business of pie. i realized while picking with the utmost joy that blueberries are my dad’s most favorite fruit and father’s day just happened to be the very next day. perf-ect. i would drop off fresh picked blueberries and the card seb and i made for dad. noooooooooo! i will drop off fresh picked blueberries, a hand drawn card and a pie! a pie that i made! game. on.  so after putting seb to bed (after we had both eaten way too many blueberries) i hit heidi’s site and searched for berry pie. i found this, my inspiration/fear factor:

heidi pie

crust. riiight. a real pie includes a real crust. not one purchased in the freezer section of a grocery store, rolled out and baked, no fanfare whatsoever. no. i would make the crust from scratch. luckily, in addition to heidi’s fancier rye pie crust she included a link to a simpler crust, one that after reading the recipe over and over, i decided i could do it. i had some sebe-free hours on sunday so i grabbed the few ingredients i didn’t have on hand at new seasons and got to work. the crust would need at least one hour to sit in the fridge before rolling out so i did that first.

i decided to go the cuisinart route for blending up the cold chunks of butter with the flour rather than hand chopping it. 1) it had been sitting in its original box, taunting me, gathering dust, since it was given to us as a wedding present almost two years ago 2) enough was enough (self improvement promises and whatnot) and i would attack this cuisinart business with the same blind gusto that i used teaching myself to sew that first garment – fearlessly and with the clarity that it could all be a huge disaster. that’s where i like to live, right on the edge. and btw, i wore the hell out of that flamenco tube top. i rolled the dough into a ball on a floured surface, wrapped it in plastic and stuck it in the fridge. then i followed heidi’s recipe for the berry filling and it was way less panicky than i thought.

i even got to bust out this vintage lemon juicer i found years ago at a garage sale and realized how fun it is to juice lemons.

dough out of the fridge, it rolled flat so smoothly. i might have done a little private kitchen dance.

put it all together, baked for exactly 45 mins. and holy crap of craps, there was pie. in the last few minutes, the fruit started bubbling over the edge and spilled out onto the oven floor. it’s still sitting there. i have no idea how to clean it. but it was awesome to look at. there were hot, sticky blueberries all over the oven and i didn’t even care because there was pie. the whole apartment smelled like pie. it was glorious.

aside from needing some (a lot of) assistance in the crust presentation department, i was thrilled. that night, my parents and i shared good company, good laughs and some damn good pie. i can’t wait to make another one.

the happiest father and grandfather’s day to you pops! we love you so, so much.

 

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:

og kitchen 1

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:

current wallpaper 2

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!

Burgerdoodles-wallpaper5

 

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:

og side house

 

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!