August Pinterest and Parties

August Pinterest Parties

I am terrible at remembering names. Remembering your birthday would be even more impossible.  However, I have no intention of not giving birthday gifts to people I love.  So, thanks to Patty having a birthday 3 days after mine, I’ve gotten into the habit of giving gifts to others on my birthday. (Shout out to my birthday twins Tara and Sylvie too!)  I’m also giving myself a gift, the gift of memories and accomplishments.

For the entire month of August I am not pinning on Pinterest, but rather, making all the time I spent pinning worthwhile.  I’m picking wishes and dreams, projects and parties from my boards and doing them Now.
So tonight, I went to my first First Friday art night in downtown Vancouver.  We got started a little late, but two girlfriends and one of the munchkins and I figured out where the galleries are downtown in the mini art district.  We slipped into Aurora Gallery where Tammy found a piece and had it framed for a friend. We peered through the windows at Gallery 360 and Angst and were treated to cupcakes at Gravitate.
This was not a specific pin that I was accomplishing, but rather the whole concept of my Art and Studios board.  It pushed me to step out and be around the work of other artists and remind myself what I am doing with my own work, as well as appreciating theirs.  One day of pushing myself to enjoy the life inspired by my pins, 30 to go.

Father Child Camp

When the munchkins were little, there was a magical weekend in the middle of the summer.  On this weekend, they would pack up their tent and backpacks and drive away to a camp.  At this camp there was a director who would plan events for daddies and their little ones to  stay active with all weekend.  The kids were girls and boys from 2 to 10 and their brave daddies.  All their meals were eaten in the grand mess hall and they had a campfire and treats before bed.  They would fish, swim, boat on the pond, have newt races, and lose their voices.

Father Child Camp

Father Child Camp

Their mothers would sleep, read a book, ignore the laundry, and make tea. They would catch up with girlfriends and take a shower without small people. They would remember what life before kids was and would be after the whirlwind of young motherhood.  They would remember who they were and appreciate the bravery of their spouse. They would be revived. Now that the munchkins are bigger, they still go away with daddy for a day, but it’s now in the winter, to a hotel with a pool and movies, next to a bowling alley and without any diapers in the backpacks.  We fill this jar with things to stretch their minds and grow their hearts. When they have completed the challenges, from sitting next to a kid likely to be bullied at school, to writing a poem, to accomplishing an extra tough workout, the weekend will be scheduled.

Advent Day One

Advent Day One
Advent Day One

I was fussing to my sister that Christmas flies by so fast without half the things done that I wished I had done.  She filled me in on a little secret.  “My advent calendar is not little toys, but notes with activities on them so we don’t miss the things we love each year.” Oh. My. Goodness! This year I’ve made a fresh list to attempt to implement this lovely method. Last night I swung by the store to pick up a few things to prep for the 1st day.  I needed some Christmas candies as we’ve all come to love the chocolate in our calendar. I found a Merci with 20 chocolates on sale with a $2 off coupon at Fred Meyer. I love these chocolates because they have so many flavors in each package and I can personalize the choice for each person each day of advent.

I printed the cards and envelopes from yellowblissroad at 30% after using the Kingthingswillow font to write out our two projects for Sunday, December 1st. The first project was to pick a child and shop for them from our local elementary school tree.  Naturally, the munchkins found a child who loved Minecraft so they could have fun shopping! They found t-shirts at Hot Topic (with a buy one get one 50% off in the store) as well as a creeper wristband.

Satisfied, they moved on to the next item on the list. Ornaments. The youngest groaned and said, “I thought Christmas was supposed to be fun.” I thought quickly and replied, “What about Minecraft ornaments?” Within moments we found ornaments made from cubes with glitter and green creatures.  They instantly began choosing which patterns were their favorites. Score!  I dropped them off at youth group and headed off to JoAnn’s to find the necessary ornaments with a 60% off coupon loaded on my phone. Alas, JoAnn’s had no such objects. I did however find this wonderful book to use my coupon on for a gift for my mother.

So I searched the web and found that both Michael’s and Craft Warehouse supposedly are carrying the little cubes. I’ll have to move that craft project further into the week, once I can reach a store again. I’ll also be calling before I go, being as tomorrow is the Monday after black Friday and most of the checkers were saying they’d been cleared out of most sale stock.  I did find them online here, but the one review said that the glass ones were very fragile.  If we have to choose another block ornament, I’m pulling for the snow block Now to fill the door behind the number 2…


It’s the beginning of my summer, just after the summer solstice, and a Thursday.  I’m rather settled in the “cottage”, but the backyard (tiny) looks like a weedlot. Dh kindly built a raised bed for the tomatoes with the supplies I’d purchased. (I must water, I must!)  I really don’t want to do anything more with the yard until we’ve built the patio though, and that may be a while yet.  He used his “one day off per week” to build it for me.  (must water, must water!)

Raised bed

I’ve actually pulled out my pencils to begin a piece of art. I said this last summer as well, but this time I actually have started! I did a pre-sketch of a watercolor last week and worked on ideas for the overlay this week.  Come Monday, I will begin sketching on that as well.

The neighbor’s plantings look lovely from the viewpoint of this photo.  Maybe I should just crawl around on all fours when in the backyard from now on. It would prevent me from being able to look over the fence to see the obnoxious items in the view from the back door. (I must water, I must!)



and Tea

I call my mother a pyromaniac because of her absolute love of fire.  She loves the warmth tickling up through her fingers and toes, making up for our joint lack of “good circulation”.  Matching this love of fire is her love of tea, the conduit to warmth from the inside, tingling out to meet the crackling heat on the outside.

My favorite tea is a chai, not too sweet, not too spicy, and always with a sweet or buttery bread at hand.  Below are a few of my favorite places to find the perfect combination.

Jim and Patty’s is a Portland landmark.  They are the original creators of Coffee People, and my mother actually worked at the old headquarters years ago.  We LOVE their sour cream coffeecake. I think it goes great with chai. Mum thinks it goes well with Earl Grey.

Pearl Bakery is dh’s favorite bakery.  He will make a beeline for this just as quickly as he can on a free afternoon.  Their croissants and signature pugliese would keep him fed for a month straight. Maybe longer if cheese was an option.

Dot’s Donuts. The couple who owns and runs Dots used to be our link to fresh bread until they decided to sell their bread bakery and switch gears. They now have Tazo teas and fresh-from-scratch donuts of all shapes and sizes. They will box up a dozen for a party, or you can sit outside during the summer at their little bistro tables.

Chocolate first, then Tea…

I may not dream in chocolate, but I certainly have my cravings.  I did a little research for you this week to bring the possibilities of a chocolate tour to your mind.  My girlfriend Patty and I do have to warn you though, we did a tour of a lovely chocolate factory (The Candy Basket) and were full by the time we left.  The factory gave us sweet samples the whole way through and we felt like chocolate covered jelly sticks ourselves on the way out.

Chocolate festivals through the year:
Portland, Oregon Forestry Center Benefit at the Convention Center; Chocolate Fest  Bloomington, Indiana; Week of Chocolate

Morehead City, North Carolina benefit including a chocolate spa day, Friday golf and formal dinner, Saturday afternoon spa and casual, formal art and wine and a dinner Saturday night; Carolina Chocolate Festival
Glendale, Arizona Glendale Chocolate Affaire casual street faire combined with a Romance Writers workshop

Ashland, Oregon Ashland Springs Hotel Oregon Chocolate Festival 35 chocolate companies compete in a juried competition
Fairfax, Virginia  Chocolate Lovers Festival casual, with juried amature and professional competition benefits children’s food program
Dallas/Ft.Worth Chocolatefest benefit for Traveler’s Aid Formal on Friday evening (wine and art also a focus of this event) casual on Saturday
Washington, Kentucky casual festival Chocolate Festival
San Diego, California Botanical Gardens has a Chocolate Festival right before Mother’s Day with crafts for children to make and tastings for mothers.
Winter Park Resort in Colorado has an open admission to their Chocolate Festival with tickets for individual tastings.

Melbourne, Australia Chocolate Rush brings consumers in touch with innovations in the industry.
San Francisco, California Ghiradelli Chocolate Festival square benefit for Open Hand Saturday and Sunday casual demonstrations all day with special tea menu
Paris Salon du Chocolat an exhibition and show devoted entirely to chocolate art in all forms.
Vancouver, Canada hosts a month long series of events for chocolate lovers with their West Coast Chocolate Festival
Orange County, California O.C. Chocolate Festival  wine tasting, holiday shopping, chocolate fashion show, and raffle to benefit a local charity.

Chocolate craft studio also has chocolate kits if you can’t leave home.


Each spring since I’ve been married, there’s been a blooming tree in our yard, no matter where we are living. Several years ago, one of my Japanese students mentioned that she was going to the cherry blossom festival and then I flew to D.C. the next year while the trees were in bloom there.  Of course, I couldn’t help but think of blossoms and friends elsewhere when the flowers appeared this year.  My student and her family are safe, but they ask for prayers for Japan.  Can you send one up?

I took several photos of these flowers last week, but I just wasn’t happy with them.  However, the light was just perfect when I approached them again a few days later.  This reminded me of a girl’s frilly dress.


I’ve been thinking white, white, white for my new house, but I’ve been seeing red everywhere.

Driving home today I contemplated the brevity of life, the state of nature and the pointlessness of fighting to improve the affairs of the physical world.  As the sun broke through the clouds and shown down the throughfare, it came to me clearly.  I am not to clean things up for me, nor really for “my children” but for the longer reach of people coming after me.  Who wants to be born into a world that, though they inhabit it for a mere 80 years this side of eternity, is sickly?  Things were put into perspective as I thought about people long before me and long after me, with myself only a single moment in time.

This doesn’t mean that I’m camping, establishing an environmental board, or gasp! doing anything political. What it means is that I think through choices that I make on a daily basis, listen to my spirit more closely, and communicate that with my own munchkins.  and you.


Searching for Spring

This has been a wild winter.  Since August we’ve lived in our home, a tent, a car, with friends, a rental house, a hotel, our old home, and soon a new place. I’m ready to settle in, plant a few bulbs, and begin anew.

However, we are still in our waiting stage, waiting for spring.  While waiting, a few bulbs I planted years ago at our old home are coming out to cheer me.  There are baby showers all around me, and just this morning, the temperature outside is 20 degrees warmer than this time last week.  Maybe it’s pushing the door open…