Four things I can't stop thinking about right now

This four part post on @humansofny

These posts gutted me. I kept waiting for the next one to be uploaded so I could read the rest of the story. Click on the image or this link to @humansofny’s page to read the other two parts.

Brandon Stanton, the person behind the camera, is such an amazing story teller and humanitarian. I love it when he leaves New York to travel and tells the stories of those he encounters along the way.

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Tea

I’m taking a break from coffee at the moment, which is going surprisingly well. Only one raging headache so far!

So I’m making tea my new best friend. My favorite place to pick up tea is from Tea Chai Te in Sellwood. It’s located inside of a historic red caboose, and it’s precious. My current favorite is their rose peony tea, which has a delicate flowery flavor. Get your tea there then walk across the street to Jade and grab a dessert. You won’t regret it!

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Basket case

I’m taking a basket weaving class later this week and I’m super excited about it. I signed up for a three class pass through Assembly PDX, and it has been so much fun! If you’re like me and tend to purchase a lot of arts and craft supplies, but then don’t actually know how to use them — and therefore don’t — taking classes and then deciding if it’s worth the investment might be a really good idea. So far, I’ve taken punch needle and weaving classes, and I’d highly recommend both. Cheers to getting crafty!

Book club

I told my husband earlier this week that I’m hosting book club at our house and he responded, “What book club?” So I guess that means I should probably both read the books and attend more often. This month, I’m managing both! So maybe that will start a streak for me.

Our book this month was Notorious RBG and conveniently the new RBG documentary is out on Hulu. Might be time to give it a watch!

My happy place

Do you have a place where you can go that no matter what’s happening in your life everything feels ok? For me, it’s the public library.

[Also: Target. But our bank account doesn’t feel so good after that.]

When I was a little girl, I was a voracious reader. And overdue books fine accumulator. One librarian at my small hometown library had my card number memorized. As an adult, I’m a weekly visitor to my local public library. I love the smells. I love picking up a book off the shelf and scanning the description to see if it’s something that might be interesting to me. Most of all, I love the atmosphere. We’re all equals here.

My beloved local library is being torn down to make way for a new, more modern library. It’s closed for a few weeks while they move all of the books to a temporary space. So in the meantime, I’m going to explore some of the other libraries in my county.

This is the Happy Valley Public Library. Isn’t it so pretty?

That’s my friend R. there, just casually modeling/studying.

That’s my friend R. there, just casually modeling/studying.


Slumber party

Ain’t no party like a slumber party. We had a blast during our sleepover with our niece and nephew last week. We played hard. We sang songs. We read books.

This was our first sleepover with this bedroom mostly renovated, so it was quite exciting. Or as my niece said, “This is very special.”

For ten incredibly peaceful minutes while B. was napping, S. quietly read books while we listened to classical music. Just about the time I sat down, she was over it so we made cookies.

For ten incredibly peaceful minutes while B. was napping, S. quietly read books while we listened to classical music. Just about the time I sat down, she was over it so we made cookies.

Slumber parties are so much fun, but boy they can tucker you out something fierce. Worth it!

Slumber parties are so much fun, but boy they can tucker you out something fierce. Worth it!


Focaccia

What the foc?

While we still have pockets of sunshine coming through, we’re making the slow march into the cold and rainy season here in Oregon. Which means soup season is here as well. I already have several glass containers full of stews to thaw out on days when we feel too lazy to stand around the stove. If you give a girl a bowl of soup, you’d better hand her some bread to dip in it as well.

This focaccia is honestly the most delicious and incredibly easy accompaniment to any meal. It mixes together in about five minutes, sits in the fridge for a day or two until you’re ready to bake it, and then freezes beautifully if you have any leftovers. And no kneading!

Be sure to use good quality olive oil and flour. My favorite flours are King Arthur or Bob’s Redmill, which is based out of our local area. It’s important that the sea salt you sprinkle on top is large and flaky to give it that crunch that it needs. Too fine and it will just taste salty. If you have a salt grinder, unscrew it to its loosest setting (just be sure to tighten it back up!) or pick up a small jar of flaky sea salt at the store.


Books to borrow

Here are a few books that I’ve recently read that I’d highly recommend. These are likely in circulation in your local public library — save yourself a few dollars and some time by setting up an online account through your neighborhood branch so you can place holds for books in your pajamas at home!

Wealth and power gained and lost in just a few generations. In the words of the Countess, “Money can’t buy you class.”

I nabbed this on Amazon First Reads a while back, but would have happily paid for it. Let me know if you have a Kindle and would like to borrow it.

This book was such a gift to read that I rushed it back to the library as to not stop someone else from devouring it. Beautifully written and heartbreakingly honest.


Thanks for checking in this week! I’d love to hear from you. How are you doing?

With love,
Bec

My favorite day of the week

We really know how to do Sundays around here. Despite our best efforts to sleep in, we usually wake up early and are sipping coffee by 7. On goes the electric fireplace and a nature documentary, and we snuggle with the doggies on the couch. When the weather is nice out, we sit on the back porch while Barkley chases butterflies. As you can probably imagine, it’s my favorite day of the week.

Please note that we have moved on to watching Crocodile Dundee, which is practically a nature documentary if you ask me.

Please note that we have moved on to watching Crocodile Dundee, which is practically a nature documentary if you ask me.


Terry the terrarium

Meet Terry

I stopped by my favorite local shop last week to buy myself a little happy during kind of a cruddy week. It's an apothecary called Milwaukie Mercantile and they sell the best chapstick along with herbs, soaps, and plants. This is the place where my fun money budget goes to die. They had an adorable terrarium there, but I was a babe with an already full basket. I already have plenty of succulents to kill at home, so I decided that I could make it myself. 

Next up was a quick run through the aisles of my corner Salvation Army. The pricing there absolutely kills me sometimes. 🤦🏻‍♀️

 
 

I picked up a glass bowl there for about $6 and two packages of rocks from the Dollar Tree next door. $8 for this beauty! Not bad. I'm trying to find a dinosaur or some other little creature to add to the mix for some flair. What do you think?

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Barkley’s Birthday

Sweet, sweet Barkley turns two this week!

This poor guy is battling a little bit of an eye infection, but worry not: he gets the good treats after his twice daily eye meds. 

This is my one of my favorite pictures of these two guys right after we first got Barks. Thor was a wee bit apprehensive — can you spot him?! — but you’d never know it now. They’re best buds!

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Breath of Joy

I wasn't sure if I should laugh or run out the door when my yoga teacher Elaine decided to share the breath of joy with us for the first time. She was kind of flinging her arms around and making weird sounds, and good gracious I'm a little granola but deep down inside I'm still a Midwesterner. 

I decided to go along with the rest of the class, and either the sheer silliness of how we all felt or the extra oxygen entering our bloodstreams made us all feel joyful. 

This is a great thing to do when you need a pick-me-up in the afternoon. I usually do this five times in a row and then stand still for 20 or 30 seconds before going about my day. 

Let me know what you think if you decide to try it. Videos encouraged! 


Thanks for making it this far! I’d love to hear from you. How are you doing?

Is it weird to throw a birthday party for a dog? Asking for a friend.

With love,
Bec

Two flexible recipes for cutting back on eating out

Last weekend, my husband and I went out for a cider at our favorite local place. We do this every once in a while because they have a fun game space in the back and, well duh, the cider is pretty tasty. While there, I mentioned that we had a pizza reward that was getting ready to expire from a place that we used to order delivery from quite frequently. My husband, who is getting to be quite the proficient cheap-o, excitedly exclaimed that if we picked up the order it would be entirely free. 

We decided to really live on the edge that night and ordered the pizza after we made a quick stop at Lowe's, which we left empty handed, forgetting the single item we stopped in for in our pizza-induced excitement. A fluffy crusted pizza with alfredo sauce, cheese, mushrooms, and onions awaited us. If you're looking for some food porn at this point in time, well friend, you're going to be out of luck. We inhaled that pizza in like five second flat.

If only the stomach pain had lasted that long. 


We've drastically cut back on eating out in the last few months. It's been partly a budget saver and partly because our tastes have changed. We've realized a lot of times that we can make our favorite takeout foods at home at a fraction of the cost and less time than we might expect.

Broccoli and cheddar soup is so easy to make along with easy, peasy (and freezy-ble) focaccia bread. This dinner takes about 20 minutes of active work and is much better and cheaper than Panera.

Broccoli and cheddar soup is so easy to make along with easy, peasy (and freezy-ble) focaccia bread. This dinner takes about 20 minutes of active work and is much better and cheaper than Panera.

Ahhhhh, sweet salad rolls with addicting peanut butter dipping sauce. The bane of my existence and wallet. These are shockingly easy to make and cheap, too!

Ahhhhh, sweet salad rolls with addicting peanut butter dipping sauce. The bane of my existence and wallet. These are shockingly easy to make and cheap, too!

This is not terribly pretty, but it tastes good! I'm getting better at my sushi rolling. We had family over and for about $20 of ingredients, we had enough sushi to feed everyone. Much less than any cheap sushi joint.

This is not terribly pretty, but it tastes good! I'm getting better at my sushi rolling. We had family over and for about $20 of ingredients, we had enough sushi to feed everyone. Much less than any cheap sushi joint.

While these dishes are surprisingly easy (to me) to make, you may not have the confidence or cooking skills yet to break these out. So what can you do if you're not a Julia Child wannabe, but you wanna stop breaking the bank each month with your eating out habit? Here are two easy ways to nourish your bod while boosting your skills.


1. Fancy grilled cheese and tomato soup

Step away from the American fake cheese slices! Get thee to a local Trader Joe's or Aldi's if you're lucky enough to have one close by and find a new cheese to experiment with. Provolone is a good gateway into the cheese world if you're not feeling very experimental. Gouda is very good-a. While you're at it, you can experiment with spreads if you're feeling so crazy. You could do the TJ's bruschetta sauce inside. Once you've tried a new cheese or two, you can play around with your soup options. Campbell's tomato soup is always a classic, but maybe a little tomato basil might be a good option. Go wild!

Step away from the American fake cheese slices! Get thee to a local Trader Joe's or Aldi's if you're lucky enough to have one close by and find a new cheese to experiment with. Provolone is a good gateway into the cheese world if you're not feeling very experimental. Gouda is very good-a. While you're at it, you can experiment with spreads if you're feeling so crazy. You could do the TJ's bruschetta sauce inside. Once you've tried a new cheese or two, you can play around with your soup options. Campbell's tomato soup is always a classic, but maybe a little tomato basil might be a good option. Go wild!

2. Take the chill outta frozen pizzas

We have a mild obsession around here with Costco frozen pizza. Now, you're welcome to just stick that baby in the oven and call it a day. At $2.50 apiece, it's much cheaper than ordering out any day but any old frozen pizza will do. But if you're feeling fancy, you should definitely start throwing some toppings on. Have some random cheese in your fridge? Go for it! Have some peppers getting ready to cross over? You go on with your bad self. I'm giving you the freedom and permission to top your pizza any way you damn please.

We have a mild obsession around here with Costco frozen pizza. Now, you're welcome to just stick that baby in the oven and call it a day. At $2.50 apiece, it's much cheaper than ordering out any day but any old frozen pizza will do. But if you're feeling fancy, you should definitely start throwing some toppings on. Have some random cheese in your fridge? Go for it! Have some peppers getting ready to cross over? You go on with your bad self. I'm giving you the freedom and permission to top your pizza any way you damn please.

The long and shorts of it: my struggle with body image

If I'm being honest, I'm not crazy about my body. I've always hated my legs and these days, especially, they're not pretty. I've got cellulite running up and down the back of them. My thighs seem to explode up my legs after my skinny calves and knobby knees into a gelatinous mess. I avoided shorts for years, wearing flowing skirts or pants even in the heat of the summer. While this photo makes me cringe, it also makes me proud. 

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It's easy enough to compare my body to other people's. I'm smaller than some, but bigger than others. And even when I was younger and thinner, I wasn't thrilled with how I look. 

I've been taking yoga classes regularly for a little over a year now. I'm breathing and sweating and downward dogging with people, mostly women, representing a wide variety of sizes and life experiences. Some are younger, but most are older than I am. Each and every class, the teacher reminds us not to compare ourselves to the person on the mat next to us.

It is a good reminder that I should appreciate the abilities of my body. Some classes, I can slide easily into a pose. Other times, it's a struggle and it hurts. I need to ease up and be gentle with myself, both in the yoga studio and in my everyday life.

My legs may not look like Gigi Hadid's in shorts, but they help me get from A to B. They're strong, and I like the way they feel when I'm stretched out in pigeon pose. 

When I (hopefully one day) have children, I don't want to miss out on chasing them around the beach in a bathing suit because I feel too fat. And I certainly don't want to pass on my own self-image issues. 

So I'm going to keep moving my body in yoga class because it makes me feel healthy and strong. Maybe one day I'll confident in shorts, but I'm going to keep wearing them either way. 

How does your garden grow?

I've killed every green thing that's come my way for years. Over watering, no watering. Do I have some deep-seeded (see what I did there?) emotional problems?

When I was a junior in college, I managed to keep a flower that my grandmother gave me alive for an entire school year. I watered it lovingly and dutifully, and it thrived. But I didn't realize that I'd left it in my bedroom window at my sorority house until I was already home for the summer, and I didn't think it was worth making the six hour roundtrip to rescue a plant. 

I've done the impossible: kill succulents. Houseplants labeled low maintenance have died from merely being in my presence. 

My husband made me some beautiful raised garden beds the first summer after we bought our home. Things started out well, but then all of my tomatoes split and my cucumbers turned a strange shade of yellow. Slugs and bugs invaded and my houseplants gave up the ghost. I let the beds become weed farms. 

Then last summer while at the farmers market, I found myself drawn to a fig plant. I brought it home and a few short weeks later, it was struggling a little bit. My husband, bless him, suggested that I set an alarm on my phone to remember to water stuff. So naturally I rolled my eyes at him, but then set an alarm on my phone later. The fig, a lemon tree, and the newly acquired houseplants survived the winter so I decided it was time to try to give the garden a go again.

I'm so glad that I did! We're in the throes of summer and my garden is looking mighty good this year if I do say so myself. I water my garden twice a week when my alarm goes off. The cucumbers are taking over the space like the gosh darned blob. We've even had five toppings heavy salads from the lettuce I've lovingly tended!

I started some seeds yesterday for fall harvest. I labeled them (better than previous attempts) and even included the approximate harvest dates. I'm feeling a little Martha Stewart meets Little House at the moment! 

Planting seeds in egg carton | How does your garden grow? | sunshine shed | Making Stuff Monday

I planted more mesclun lettuce, some marigolds to help keep critters away, and beets. Now I just need to convince my husband to build me a few more raised garden beds!

What's your best gardening tip?

Della, the vintage camper, update

This camper has so many windows and let's in so much light. If you've ever been stuck inside a camper when the weather is gross, you know that the walls kind of start to close in on you. We go camping year round, so it will be nice to be able to enjoy natural light even when we're experiencing a yucky Oregon winter day.

She's coming along, that Della girl. We, and by that I mean my husband, have been hard at work trying to pretty her up. Because she was originally a BLM fire command center, she only had a twin bed and no bathroom. My handsome hubby has torn apart the back half, which will be our bedroom, and is in the process of adding a bathroom. 

Before

Look at those cowboy curtains!

After

The top left photo is what will be the shower and toilet room. We found an accordion door with a frosted window and we plan to do a film glass window cutout on the other wall to let in additional light. Across from the bathroom, the second photo, is where the sink will go over the wheel well. This camper will be well insulated (the white foam board), which should make it cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter — and quieter all year round. 

This will be a long-term project that will take many months if not a year or more to get her completely renovated. We don't want to wait that long to go camping, though, so our plan for the moment is to get the back half with the bedroom and bathroom habitable and then work our way up to the kitchen and living room. 

Della, the vintage camper, renovation update | Red Dale | sunshine shed | Making Stuff Mondays

Last weekend, my hubby was hard at work on the roof to remove an old skylight, put in a new one, and replace a current one with something called a fantastic fan that will help keep the camper cool. The best part is the fan is programmable and has a rain sensor that will make it close automatically in case of inclement weather. Neato! 

Have you renovated a vintage camper? I would love to hear your stories and tips in the comments! 

Memories from my Mammaw's house

When we took Della, the vintage camper, back to her parking spot on Sunday, a bunch of weeds caught my eye. Seeing them took my breath away. No, not because of allergies — although, they're really giving me a run for my money at the moment — but because they reminded me of my Mammaw's house. Those weeds were the scent of my childhood.

I spent so much of my early years at my Mammaw's house, wreaking havoc with a gaggle of cousins. Many of my happiest childhood memories are running free in her yard, picking persimmons, and doing things that would cause modern parents huge amounts of anxiety (but were perfectly acceptable for children in the 80s). 

After my sister taught me how to get sent home from school — go to the nurse twice in one day for any reason — I spent most of the first grade recovering from my "tummy troubles" and "headaches" at my grandmother's house. The school secretary would call her up, and she'd pull into the school parking lot in her ancient bronze-gold car and I was free. In between watching her shows and eating canned chicken and dumplings together, she taught me how to sew and quilt. 

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My grandmother passed away more than a decade ago, and I can't tell you how much I miss her. Sometimes it hurts to think about it, and I wish she were around to meet my husband and be entertained by my crazy dogs and sew tiny quilts for the babies I hope to have someday. While she's no longer here, I'm still constantly learning from her.

My grandmother was still sharp as a tack when she passed away at 90, likely due in no small part to her daily word search habit. She kept her mind engaged and didn't let it turn to mush. Whether this was a conscious effort or just part of who she happened to be, I'll never know. I try to follow in her footsteps, and I think of her as I'm scanning the jumble of letters for the right word or when I try something new that scares me. 

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My grandmother was the most generous person I've ever known. She grew up poor in an area that was poor long before the depression hit. She could have, and logic would dictate, should have been tight with her money. Instead, she spent all year crafting handmade Christmas gifts for her family and random strangers that tagged along, shared food and whatever she had with anyone who needed, and slipped me a $20 bill for gas money every time I came home from college. I am nowhere near as generous, and I would like to cultivate this same spirit of generosity in her memory.

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My grandmother recognized the importance of family and always put them first, and they in turn loved and adored her. While she grew that family, she had 11 children after all — we're quite fertile people, sometimes you build your family in other ways whether that be friends, fellow volunteers, marriage, adoption, or procreation. I need to be better about checking in with my people, building them up, and loving and supporting them along the way. Sometimes I let distance be my excuse, but one of my goals is to be a better friend and family member.

These are just three of the many things my Mammaw taught me. What's the most import thing that you've learned from your grandmother?

Making memories

What's the most important thing you can make? Memories!

Look at this Thor pups just living his best life on a camping trip.

Look at this Thor pups just living his best life on a camping trip.

This was before Barkley came along.

This was before Barkley came along.

We sold our camper last week. I was so sad to see her go after two amazing years of adventures. We took her to the Redwoods, Smith Rock, the coast, Pinnacles National Park, Crater Lake, and a million other places. But it's time for her to help another family make memories now. We sold her to a nice couple who are enjoying empty nesting after raising a brood of boys. As silly as it feels to type this, I feel so much better knowing that they seem like the type of people who will take good care of the camper and take her on lots of fun trips. 

So what's next?

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Well, a few months ago we kind of unexpectedly won a camper in an online government auction for $500. My hubby and I made the trip out to Wyoming in February to pick it up - advice: don't visit Wyoming in February - and he immediately got to work tearing it apart so that we can fix it up.

Before

Life kind of got in the way and the camper's been hanging out for a few months. Now that our other camper is making memories elsewhere and we'd like to go camping like yesterday, we're feeling particularly motivated to get this thing road worthy. So be on the lookout for more updates about Dale*, the vintage camper. 

* The camper is a Red Dale, so naturally my husband name him Dale. I typically like to make inanimate objects female, so maybe I should nickname her Della? Sounds fair to me.