I Love Canberra

Friday, December 22, 2017

Smack dab in the middle of no where (aka the Australian bush) lies the capital city of Australia: Canberra.  Sydney and Melbourne couldn't agree on a location, so it ended up somewhere around the middle, with a blank slate of possibilities.  The ACT Government has been brilliant with the development of this city--I have never seen another city like it, not even close. 

Adam and I try to make it down to Australia annually, and are starting to plan our fourth trip for 2018.  Whenever we fly to Sydney, we spend most of our time near Wollongong, visiting my husband's family and friends.  For the past two years, however, we have taken the time to stay a night or two in Canberra, and I think someone once said two times makes a tradition.  Both times we have visited Canberra, we have discovered something new, and I'm a big fan. 

This past spring (which was fall in AUS), we discovered the National Arboretum Canberra and can't wait to return, as we only had a couple of hours the morning we visited, which wasn't nearly enough time.  It will be spectacular one day, once the forests mature.  There were bush fires in 2003, wiping out many of the pine plantations that grew there.  A few still remain, but in large part, this land needed a new vision and purpose.  Because the ACT Government is genius, they decided to dedicate the land as the site of a future national arboretum. 

The forests are young: beautiful in their youth, and easy to imagine how much more beautiful they will become with time.  You can read more about the forests of Canberra's National Arboretum here.

Roundabout after roundabout are beautiful neighborhoods with interesting shops, restaurants, and parks.  The last time we went, we stayed at the top of a hotel overlooking Lake Burley Griffin--it was beautiful in the morning with the sunrise watching the hot air balloons drift over the man-made lake, landing in fields beyond.  I hope to ride on one of their hot air balloons one day.  The city design is idyllic and smart in every way.  There are kangaroos everywhere (did I mention that Canberra is right in the middle of no where?); a short drive in any direction will leave you in a remote and rural setting--the sky is the limit!  It was a short distance outside Canberra that I saw my first red-tailed black cockatoo--a real treat!

This post is only a snippet of why I love Canberra.  When I visit Canberra, I ALWAYS go to Lonsdale Street Roasters, on Lonsdale Street, of course.  They have the BEST coffee, and since Portland is home to some of the best coffee EVER, I feel a little more at home drinking their coffee, as I think it's even BETTER than Portland's coffee.  Plus, they make a KILLER fruit, honey, and granola parfait.  I'm looking into getting my Australian family a blend roasted in their honor, complete with branding and naming rights.  There really isn't a better Christmas present, now, is there?

P.S.  Look for more Canberra posts on Beetles and Bees in the future!

My Love Affair with Brew Dr. Kombucha

Thursday, December 21, 2017
I LOVE Brew Dr. Kombucha.  Our recycling bin was FULL of glass this last week, and does anyone want to take a guess at what it might have been full of?  Yep, Brew Dr. Kombucha bottles.  I am addicted to the stuff.  Has been a healthier substitution for alcohol, I must say.  I'm going into my third month now without the stuff, so I treat myself with other non-alcoholic beverages.

Townsend's Tea Company started in 2006 as a start-up, funded by a local loan.  In 2008, Brew Dr. was started, and at this point, I'm convinced they have the best kombucha line of them all! 

I had wondered earlier this month if I could fill up a growler of the stuff, and I'm sure this is easily possible at one of the several tap rooms across Portland.  For now, I'm loving these 32-oz bottles, currently at New Seasons.  What is YOUR favorite kombucha?  For the record, mine is Brew Dr.

The Presents Are Wrapped and Under the Tree

Tuesday, December 19, 2017
All the Christmas shopping is done!

Oh, no.  I might have spoken too soon.  There are now two more guests coming Christmas morning, which means two more suet feeders from Backyard Bird Shop to pick up.  I haven't been there this week yet . . . the staff know me now on a first-name basis.  Now to learn their names . . . when we travel to Australia, my backyard bird experience gets even better.  I heart fairy wrens, magpies, cockatoos, and black swans.

Looking forward to going back down under to see Mom, Dad, and all the little (and big) Australian birds with our littlest one, Amelia.  We'll be boarding a Qantas flight before we know it.  But first, Christmas.  x o, Karli

It's a Grey's Anatomy Kind of Night

Sunday, December 17, 2017
The Nutcracker performances have ended, I've been Christmas shopping an hour here and there when I have money and time, Juniper's birthday was last weekend, I got through my six work shifts in eight days . . . I am tired now.  I wrapped presents this evening, but now all I want to do is drink tea and watch Grey's Anatomy until I fall asleep.   I stopped drinking awhile ago . . . a closer look at dates shows that it's actually been 60 days.  Two months.  I can do whatever I set my mind to.  I won't be sober forever, but for now, not drinking feels good.

New Felt Wreath

Saturday, December 16, 2017
A few weeks ago, I posted about this felt wreath by Curious Bloom, and I'm still loving that wreath, but sadly, it sold out long ago.

My sweet husband found this gem, however, around town (he won't tell me where), and the thought counts so much! Here it is, looking lovely on our little red door this year.  I love that it is festive, yet simple.  I'm still stalking Curious Bloom's Etsy shop for more felted goodies (currently, I have my eye on a succulent Christmas ornament), but for now, my husband has found the perfect replacement.  I heart him and his thoughtfulness.

The Children's Nutcracker

Friday, December 15, 2017

For the past five years, one of my two girls has been in The Children's Nutcracker. For a couple of years, both daughters were involved, but now Juniper has moved on from ballet, and it's Amelia who still dances.  She is a Princess Mouse this year in Act One--I have been volunteering, but got to watch last night's performance.  It was beautiful in every way!

There is something magical about the music of The Nutcracker, written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.  I think my favorite scene in general is Waltz of the Snowflakes.  My girls love the music, too, and ask to listen to it often.  I am thinking about getting the soundtrack on CD for Christmas so they can listen to it as they go to sleep at night.  x o, Karli

Oak's Bottom and the Steam Locomotive

Thursday, December 14, 2017
I heart Oak's Bottom and the steam locomotive that fires up on December mornings, giving rides to those lucky enough to buy tickets in advance!  I took this picture from the bluff, looking down on to the natural beauty that still abides after more than a hundred and fifty years since Portland was founded.  That's a lot of people that have lived and resided in the area.  At any point in time, someone might have made a decision to no longer protect this land.  If you read about the history of Oak's Bottom Wildlife Refuge, you will see that it came close to landing into the hands of developers at times, but the neighborhood has always fought hard to preserve it.  I'm so glad they have--it is a beautiful site, sunrise or sunset, and feels especially like Christmas when the historic train chugs along the Willamette with its billows of steam rising into the morning air.

Noh Masks

Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Art in the Garden at Portland Japanese Garden featured Mirrors of the Mind: The Noh Masks of Ohtsuki Kokun October through early December. It was my first exposure to Noh masks, and what was even more unique about my first experience, is it was the only time in my life I had learned about masks as an art form.  Prior to seeing this exhibit, I may have been scared of masks, or did not understand the allure of masks in such places as Mardi Gras in New Orleans.  It was an amazing exhibit, and beautifully displayed.  In reading about each mask, I began to deepen my understanding of the art form, the detail, the meaning, their place in theater, and the unique history behind each one.

The 30 hand-carved masks displayed by Kokun were works of art. I tried to imagine the "window to the soul", as each one portrayed emotion and feeling.

Later, I was at our annual Christmas potluck with my book-club and the hostess had a wall of masks displayed in her home.  I stood and looked at them for a long while, recognizing that I no longer felt afraid of them, and saw them as works of art.  

I would like to learn more about masks and their place in history.  I find them fascinating now that through education my fear of them has been replaced by knowledge.  I remember when I was a student at Portland State years ago, "Let Knowledge Serve the City" was displayed in block print on a walkway/overpass on Broadway.  Knowledge empowers, conquers fear, and opens the mind to wider and more diverse perspectives.  The Noh mask exhibit was one example of how knowledge did this for me, and I am grateful for this small awakening.  As I reflect on it now, I can see that acquired knowledge awakens the desire for the pursuit of more knowledge. 

In these days of political unrest, my hope for all of us is that we continue to open our minds to opportunities and experiences that will foster the procurement of knowledge.  Then, with knowledge, activation through grassroots movements that seek to change the course of history. 

Even after all these years, this bumper sticker still says it all:


Juniper Turns 10!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Today was a special day, as it was Juniper's 10th birthday!

And so it was the birthday of the bike (a new 13" Trek) to celebrate the big 1-0.

What 10th birthday would be complete without a karaoke party with one's closest friends?

And then there was a pizza dinner with family/friends.

So we never forget, this is what a 10-year old karaoke playlist looks like!

Juniper is a beautiful girl inside and out. Celebrating her 10th birthday today falls on my life list of "Best Days in My Life". Love you so, Juniper! x o, Mommy

The Night Before I Gave Birth to Juniper (10 Years Ago)

Saturday, December 09, 2017
The night before I gave birth to Juniper, I watched Gorillas in the Mist, then dreamt I was lost at sea on a raft, feeling the waves rock me throughout the night.  At one point, I woke up and realized the waves were contractions.  The next afternoon, my Juniper was born. 

Ten years have passed now, and tomorrow Juniper will be celebrating her first decade of life.  She is my beautiful daughter, and I love her.  With my youngest daughter, Amelia, I assembled these gift bags for the party guests.  Thank-you for the sweet party favors, Backyard Bird Shop!  x o, Karli

Discounted Table Runner

Friday, December 08, 2017
I finally checked out the Collage Outlet, which is located where the original Sellwood store was, now moved over to Bybee.  Their site states "deep sales" and that about sums it up!  I found many pretty things for dollars each, including this little runner--$3.00!  It looks bright and festive for the holidays!  I will be frequenting this store often to check out the mark-offs from last-chance items.

P.S.  Do you see our window decals?  Yukon Cornelius, Rudolph, and the Snow Monster?  An annual favorite Christmas movie of ours, and we reuse the decals year after year.

Things from Australia

Thursday, December 07, 2017
This Australian Rosella (Eastern?) made it over for the holidays--brrr, he's cold!  I heart Australian birds and flora.  To the right of the rosella is a banksia pod.  You can add essential oils like eucalyptus or peppermint for aromatherapy in the home, plus they look super cool.  There is much folklore about the banksia pods.  May Gibbs writes beautifully about Australian bush in her children's books.  I hope to buy some more of her books when we are in Australia next time.  I absolutely love bringing things from Australia back with us when we go: prints, dried flora, books, calendars, coasters, tea towels, etc.  If we ever move to Australia one day, I will look forward to learning all about the plants that we grow indoors here that thrive outdoors there.  For now, I will treasure our finds from our travels, and it helps us to feel more connected to our home away from home in Australia.  Adam, of course, loves it all.  x o , Karli

Christmas Tree, 2017

Tuesday, December 05, 2017
What a beautiful December morning, and we get more of this throughout the entire week. Absolutely love this weather!

I did something a little different this year: to make more time for decorating the tree in the evening with the kids, I picked up the tree in the morning with Adam.  The kids were alright with that plan, and it made for a much more relaxing evening instead of trying to do it all at once.

Amelia was all dressed up this evening for her 1st grade concert, and looked so beautiful as she decorated the tree.

For downstairs, we now have this sweet little fiber optic tree.  I have been admiring it for years in another home, and now its owners have passed it along to us.  Thank you, thank you!  We love it, and it is perfect for our basement, which is carpeted.

And here I am, going through these December days with more intention, purpose, and meaning.  If I'm going to be busy, it better be the good stuff making me busy!
x o, Karli

Time Management

Monday, December 04, 2017
In nursing, time management is an important skill to have, but in my personal life, it is just as important.  The struggle for me is finding the time to decompress, unwind, and just be--because that is an important part of life balance.  I am getting ready to jump into another three shifts on the unit, and this time of year, balance can be so difficult to find for me.  The part that sets my life off balance is not having the down time, as that is the first thing I tend to cut out to make time for everything else.

It is a busy holiday season for me this year.  Organization is key, along with good time management.  I don't like the feeling of "keeping up", as I would much rather feel a day or two ahead of the game.  So, I'm not going to fall behind, and my strategy this year to accomplish that is to maintain time for self, but stay on task.  So, I'll make a list, then divide that list into days I am available, and go from there.  And I won't forget to include time for self.

I like to include on my list as I tackle my day a few things that have made me happy or brought me a feeling of gratitude.  Last evening, at my book club's annual December potluck, one of the members made these chocolates, a tradition going back to her childhood.  Her family makes 200 pounds of Christmas chocolates for family and friends.  She brought an album to show pictures of the recipes and her family from over the years of chocolate-making.  It was a meaningful tradition to share with all of us, and I was grateful to her for it.

I think it is so important to ensure that the activities that make it to our list of things to do are those things which bring us meaning and a deeper sense of connection to our families and to ourselves.

x o, Karli

Brass Bracelets by SaraLua Designs

Saturday, December 02, 2017
I've been a long-time fan of Michael Franti, attended several of his shows at Edgefield, and greatly appreciate his advocacy and activism for peace, human rights, and social justice. 

One day, he posted an engagement video to his twitter feed, and I became an instant fan of Sara Agah as well (plus, she's a fellow RN)!  I tune into Sara's Insta-stories daily, and absolutely love her jewelry design.  For Cyber Monday, she offered buy one get one free on her brass bracelets, and they are AMAZING.  They are light and delicate on the wrist and can easily be worn with both casual or fancy attire.  I love wearing both together--I chose coral and camo green (there are five other colors available).

Today was Decemberville in Sellwood, and what a rainy Decemberville it turned out to be!  We do have sun in the forecast this week, but this weekend quite a lot of rain has fallen and will continue to do so into tomorrow.

Juniper and I made a beeline for Tilde, where we picked up a few Christmas gifts, including a few 2017 ornaments by Roost for our own family to enjoy.

Juniper and I both admired the jewelry made by Totinette, especially her gold charm and enamel triangular necklaces.

All in all, it was a lovely Saturday morning spent with Juniper.  Amelia was busy most of the day with her dress rehearsal for The Children's Nutcracker and a birthday party at Duke's following.  I usually work on weekends, so this was a treat to get to spend a lazy Saturday with my family.  I'm back to work in the morning, so for now, au revoir, my friends.  x o, Karli

Oh, How We Love Trader Joe's

Friday, December 01, 2017
Many years ago, I wrote a blog post about the chalk artists of Trader Joe's, and over the past decade, not much has changed.  They still put out the Fearless Flyer, the staff still wear Hawaiian shirts, and 800-million bottles later, they still sell the 2-buck chuck.  They are also home of the $5.99 poinsettia.  This video really says it all:

But back to Trader Joe's Fearless Flyer.  It's not just an ordinary weekly ad you'd find anywhere else (usually in your recycling bin).  The Fearless Flyer is a different spin on advertising that reads like a newsletter.  The Holiday Guide 2017 brings to us an important announcement this year:  the Trader Joe's freezer section is now called "Appetizer Central"!  Here you'll find scallops wrapped in bacon, mini-quiches, and the famous Shrimp and Salmon Trio.

Pretzel sign for Trader Joe's by Jazelle Lieske
The real reason I still shop at Trader Joe's, besides everything you see in the youtube clip above, is because I respect the way in which they treat their employees.  Suzanne Raga put together a list of these fine treatments over on Mental Floss if you're interested.

When we're in Australia, we shop at Aldi, owned by the heirs of Theo Albrecht, who left this world a rich man in 2010.  His heirs now own Aldi, as well as our beloved Trader Joe's.  Small world, and as it turns out, a small-hearted family.  Money is like poison for the heart, don't you think?

But my Australian family still loves Aldi, because they're a family who loves a good bargain.

Karli and Adam in Aldi, Dapto, NSW, Australia, 2015
But for this American girl, I've been loving Trader Joe's since 1997, and I don't see myself stopping unless they stop hiding the stuffed black cat.

P.S.  I heart Trader Joe's sugar plum jam made from local plums--yum!  Try it with pizzelles, which I enjoy when Adam makes them with his pizzelle iron (my husband's father is Italian).
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