Tuesday, December 30, 2008

around the corner...

tree + snow
I'm really looking forward to the New Year this time around. I've been thinking about all the things in store for me and my family and all the possibilities. Its exciting! I'm ready for a fresh start, and the opportunity to say, by this time next year I want my life to have moved in ____ direction.

I don't usually do New Year's resolutions, but this year, there are some real things this year that I have in mind. They are too personal to blurt out to anyone other than my husband, let alone on a public place like a blog. Besides, I've always felt like it jinxes things a little to share my intentions about personal things like art projects or self improvement. But the spirit of my resolutions is simply to practice being a better person to those around me.

I also have some pretty big dreams wrapped up in the New Year. Namely, we want to buy our first house in 2009. We've been working hard on reaching this goal for a couple of years now, and we want it so badly we can almost taste it. Just a few more hurdles to go... Here's hoping there aren't any new hurdles around the bend...wish us luck!

Lastly, I have some exciting news to share with you on the first of the year! I can't wait to let you all in on my little secret!

Have a wonderful and safe New Year's Eve!

Monday, December 29, 2008

beautiful holiday

the road to my mom's house
This Christmas reminded me how much I have to be thankful for in my family. We aren't perfect. We nit-pick at each other sometimes (myself included) and like any family, we can get on eachother's nerves.

But really, this Christmas together was simply wonderful. Everyone made it through less than ideal, and sometimes scary driving conditions in order to be together. My mom painstakingly organized the rooms in her house so that every person had their own comfortable bedroom. My divorced parents came together, as they often do for holidays, to enjoy being a family as a whole, despite the fact that their romantic relationship has been over for nearly two decades. We played board games, went sledding, sang Christmas carols with family friends,
singing Christmas Carols
enjoyed some family craziness by building and running over a snowman with the car (yes we really did!),
snowman homicide
cooked and ate delicious meals together, and enjoyed a modest and simple Christmas morning together.

The gifts we gave each other are a testament to the shared values we all have. My dad gave us "I voted for Obama" t-shirts, which I will proudly wear when Obama becomes our next President on January 20th. My mom had years and years of old projector home videos transferred onto DVD, so we can all have these precious copies of our early years to enjoy. Others gave reusable grocery bags, gifts that were made by hand, made a donation to charity in our family's name, etc. My brother wrote me a nice check to help Ben and I get out from under the debt we've been working so hard to eliminate.

And of course, everyone had a fun gift or two for the favorite 3-year old in our lives. As it should be.
dr. cerezo
Family, you are so dear to me. I couldn't have imagined a better holiday with you all.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Dear Snow,

I love you, really I do. We've had tons of great times, and your presence is speckled throughout my childhood memories. You're an old childhood friend who's never visited me in Portland until now!

"snow" circa 1984

I grew up in a small town where getting a foot or three of snow at once was not uncommon (the photo is not a good example of the deep snow, but trust me it happened a lot). My siblings and I had our own personal sled run in the "woods" about 500 yards from my house, and I have packed many a snowball, made many a snowman and built a dozen snowforts complete with secret compartments for storing "ammo." Those were awesome times, snow.

But right now, you and I need to have a talk. I was so excited to see you when you dropped in for a bit last week. It was even more fun when you decided to spend the night on Friday and stuck around for me to take my son on his first sledding trip on Saturday. But let's be real. When you start inviting your discourteous, freezing rain buddies over and make a mess of everything, its really just time to go. You've extended your stay and we just can't host you anymore. In fact, if you keep this up, you're going to keep me and my family from being able to be together on Christmas, and that's just not cool.

So please, let's keep this friendship that we've got going, and take your leave for a little while. You can come back again in January, ok? But next time, leave that freezing rain behind.... got it? He's kind of giving you a bad rap.

I'm glad we talked about this, snow. Thanks for listening.

Update: We all made it to my mother's house safe and sound, and have been thoroughly enjoying the three feet of snow accumulation and icicles on every house....some reaching all the way from the roof to the ground! Pictures soon... Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

On the first day of Christmas....

Wow, what a week!
We've had:
  • 10 inches of snow,
the fattest squirrel in the world
  • took 9 sled runs down the hill, (which satisfies list item #3!)
  • watched the winter weather forecast for 7 days,
  • ate 6 cupcakes between the 3 of us today (guess who ate three all by herself),
  • made 5 quarts of soup,
  • enjoyed 4 holiday parties,
  • survived 3 snow days,

  • enjoyed a VERY rare evening staying up til 2am,
  • and now am mother to 1 toddler who turned 3 years old today!
birthday boy

Saturday, December 13, 2008

merry merry

The holidays are in full swing around here!

We picked out our tree and trimmed it last weekend. There is nothing quite like the glow of the tree in the silence of the evening after our son has gone to bed and we are able to sit and gaze at it, or when we first turn the tree on in the morning, and Addison lets out oohs and ahhhs.

I still haven't found the time to hang my wreath, but that's ok because I've been enjoying all its eucalyptus aromatherapy inside my house.


We're off to holiday brunch and holiday movies with close friends tomorrow , then a family tree-trimming party complete with homemade egg nog (and home-spiked of course). And to top it all off, we're expecting snow! Oh the holidays...

Hope you're enjoying it all too!

Friday, December 12, 2008

clarifying me

One of the responsibilities that comes with blogging, in my opinion, is to clarify what I may have mis-communicated the first time around. I feel like I need to say something about my post from a couple of days ago.

I really love blogging, and I really love this means of sharing my life with both loved ones and other great people whom I've never met. It's something I've wanted to do for years, and its nice to be living my dream. But, I'm definitely still figuring it out.

I want anyone who wants to read my blog to feel welcome here. I try to both make it an appealing place and I also try to keep it real. The thing is difficult for me is that my audience here is and always will be mostly anonymous. (For that reason, I try not to share too many personal details about me in my concrete life, but I do like to share about who I am as a spiritual and creative person.)

In "real life" we generally communicate one-on-one, or in small groups. Because everyone has their own personality and listening style and interests, and perhaps because I am also somewhat of a people pleaser, I tend to sculpt conversations around what I think may interest a friend while we have lunch together or what a group of family members might think is intriguing around the dinner table. We all do this based on our personal relationships and cultural context to the individuals we are communicating with. But when I blog, I have no idea who my audience is, so I feel somewhat in the dark about how to present who I am and in what context.

This is simply the nature of blogging, and I know it's not going to change. I'm just trying to find my way around in the dark here and figure out who I am in this world. And you're welcome to follow me on my journey, too! Thanks for hearing me out.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

food food food

One of the best uses of the internet, in my opinion, is the immense collection of fantastic recipes at your fingertips, complete with pictures, search engines that can help you find a recipe when you need to use up the broccoli in your crisper, a half package of spaghetti, some stewed tomatoes, and you feel like chicken tonight. It is a cook's dream come true!

I love real cookbooks too. Its nice to flip thorugh something in alphabetical order, make notes, see the pictures, and get to know what's in there after a few years so you can come back those favorite recipes.

I also adore Cooking Light magazine. I have subscribed to their magazine for a full year a few times. I also love thumbing through these and looking at the hundreds of no-fail recipes these guys have to offer, not to mention great articles. But at the end of receiving 12 issues, it just takes up so much space in my tiny little half of a duplex that I end up recycling them in an effort to save my sanity around the house.

But, the internet-as-cookbook is still the most amazing. Especially when there are amazing blogs out there with delicious recipes. Like CityMama -- her Spaghetti con burro e pomodori is simply to die for in all its rich tomato and butter simplicity. Dang, I love this stuff.
And like Bread & Honey: A Food Blog and their constant updates with delicious recipes and pictures of all the amazing things they've made. My favorite I've made is Alicia's Butternut Squash Soup. Totally to die for.

Today I found the motherload of recipe inspiration: TasteSpotting.
Yum and yum. I'm going to spend some serious time perusing here.

chicken & green chile casserole

Last night, I made Green Chile-Chicken Casserole which you can find here at Cooking Light. My mom used to make something similar when I was a kid, and I've come back to this recipe at least ten times, but was always short a key ingredient or two. This recipe uses pre-made shredded chicken, but I opted to make my own. This was a first for me, and I'm so glad I did! Here's how you do it:

Shredded Chicken

In a saucepan, combine 1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts, 1 1/2 cups water, 2 large sliced garlic cloves, 1 bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Partly cover and simmer until center of thickest chicken piece registers 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer and juices run clear, 15 - 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature in the broth. Remove chicken and simmer broth until reduced to 1/3 cup. Remove and discard bay leaf. Tear meat into shreds about 1/4" to 1/2" wide and place in a bowl. Add the reduced broth and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and ground black pepper. Toss to mix.

This was so easy, I will definitely be making it again. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I have a question... and some random photos

So, fellow bloggers, do your close, real-life family and friends know you have a blog? Do they read it on a regular basis that you know about?

How do you feel about that?

My parents (hi mom and dad) read my blog regularly, and frequently mention it to other family members and friends and gush... And to be honest, I never know quite how to react. I tend to suddenly be stymied and a little embarrassed about the whole thing. Now don't get me wrong, I'm so thrilled that my parents do enjoy my photos and thoughts here. Its nice to get the parental stamp of approval at any age, and its nice that they love it enough to share it with others.

On the other hand, I guess it feels a little like people reading my journal... which is fine when I can be somewhat anonymous, but strange when I know that real-life people in my life are reading. I feel exposed somehow.

What about you?

Portland 12.6.2008

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Dear Addison

At the wee age of almost three, you amaze me every day.

You are so incredibly smart. You know how to tell time on an analog clock as well as any adult. You know how to count by fives. You can already read 3 and 4 letter words.
I often wonder what you're going to be up to in kindergarten when they are teaching lesson after lesson of things you have already had mastered for more than 2 years.

You are so very compassionate. When I'm not feeling well, you say, "Oh mama! You not feeling well? I'm sorry." And then proceed to come put a blanket over me with the utmost care.
When you spill your crackers on the floor, you say, "I'm sorry I spilled my crackers. I shouldn't do that next time." When we have guests, you say "It's nice to see you." or, "Nice haircut," or "Nice dress!" You are always thinking of others.

You are a natural leader and are filled with confidence. You have no problem leading twelve adults in a round of Happy Birthday or Itsy Bitsy Spider, or counting from 1 to 10, very quietly.
You wave and smile at strangers who make eye contact with you, who then break from their 9 to 5 induced coma and smile right back. You bring joy to those around you.

Last night, you said your first prayer. We are aren't religious people, but we want to encourage a spirit of gratitude in you, and you really love the ritual. We've only been doing this since Thanksgiving, but less than two weeks later, you were ready to take on the responsibility.

After you told me to "sit there and do nothing and don't eat" you began. "Mommy is here, and Daddy's not here yet and Grandma Linda lives in Hood River. Amen." Then you thanked me for keeping my eyes shut the whole time.

I love you, you handsome boy. Thanks for letting me be your mommy.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Sunday, December 7, 2008


I headed to Eastern Washington State on Friday for my Grandpa's funeral. It was a strange series of events, since at the ripe age of 28, I have never known anyone personally who has died until now.



It turned out to be quite a lovely trip. My mom and my sister and brother and I packed into my car and headed east. I cannot remember the last time the four of us were in one car together for a lengthy drive. What a treat!

When we arrived, we were reunited with uncles and aunts and cousins and second cousins and non-blood relatives that I hadn't seen in as many as 20 years! It is strange to realize that the last time I had seen my second cousin, Devin, the 20-year old, handsome and intelligent sophomore attending University of Washington, he was a 6-month old baby in my 8-year old arms. All that life that has happened in between!

Family is so important to me, and becomes even more so as I get older.

swirls of light

I hope I can keep my promise to myself to keep in touch and make efforts to see these dear people in my life more often.

light & water

Besides, the drive there and back is sure pretty!

I'm off to decorate the Christmas tree, hang the wreath on the front door, and finish up some of my handmade gifts!

Monday, December 1, 2008

heavy + light

There are some heavy things going on in my life right now.

prayer candles

prayer candles

lanterns at the Grotto

But, there is a lot to be thankful for too.

making himself smile really big

reading Pete's a Pizza with great-grandma

Julie & Cheryle

I'll be okay...I'm trying to keep my chin up, but even looking down has its purpose from time to time.

snowflake at my feet