Happy Australia Day!

Friday, January 25, 2019

For my husband and immediate and extended family and friends in Australia, Happy Australia Day!  I thought this bouquet illustrated the diversity of culture that makes Australia the great country it is, as we have flora from all over the world.  I think I see eucalyptus, proteas from South Africa (they're in Australia, too), roses, wax flowers, and rosemary.  Have a wonderful (albeit sweltering) day!  x o

P.S.  Australia is a day ahead, making this January 26th, not the 25th, in the Australian Eastern Daylight Time zone.

Lan Su Chinese Garden

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Today we picked up a cultural pass at Ledding Library and headed down to Lan Su Chinese Garden.  I love the cultural passes--a great use of tax dollars, and who ever says that?!


Here is the Tower of Cosmic Reflections teahouse I mentioned in a former post.  It's a Chinese teahouse operated by The Tao of Tea.  They kept refilling the hot water in our pots, so I must have had five or six pots of the Eight Treasures. 


From the menu: "Eight treasures tea, Ba Bao Cha, has a long history as a Chinese elixir and delicious beverage made from flowers, fruit, green tea, medicinal herbs, and rock sugar.  Flavor profile: A melange of flavors.  Sweet, soothing tea."  It was so delicious and calming.


There are two levels to the teahouse.  The photo above is of the ground floor.  We ate on the top floor, which looks like this:


Next time you have a free afternoon, this is a great place to be.  The garden was beautiful even in the dead of winter.  I loved this description of the Chinese garden, which was printed on the brochure:  "Plants serve many purposes in a Chinese garden.  Besides providing beauty, color, texture and fragrance, they also convey meaning."


"For example, plum, bamboo an pine are collectively known as the Three Friends of Winter and serve to remind us to persevere.  The plum braves the cold of winter to blossom; the pine stays green throughout the cold season; and the bamboo bends in storms, but does not break."


  I was so happy to have affordable access to this place today through the cultural pass offered through our local library.  It's certainly a special place to visit, and " . . . a historical treasure . . . a place where people, ideas and cultures intermingle."



Afternoons at The Tao of Tea

Wednesday, January 23, 2019
I mentioned it last week, but I have been taking the girls about once every other week after school to The Tao of Tea, where we try different teas, and experience the art and culture of an international teahouse.  We always leave feeling much better in body, mind, and spirit than when we arrived.


The girls split a pot of Egyptian chamomile, and I enjoyed a pot of my favorite 500-mile Chai with whole milk and raw honey.  Chai translates to 'tea' in Hindi, so one should say Chai, not Chai tea, as that is redundant.  From The Tao of Tea's website:  "The tale of the ‘500 Mile Chai’ is famous in India. It refers to long distance truck drivers traveling on the highways at night. They would stop at small Chai stands called “Dhabas” and request very strong, sweet Chai to help them continue safely on their trip. “Give me the 500 Mile Chai,” is a way of saying, 'Give me your strongest tea!'"


The girls love the chocolate-covered macaroons, and I usually favor a savory Indian aloo paratha with a side of raita.  This paratha is filled with potatoes, cilantro, and onions.  Very tasty and pairs well with a pot of tea.  If I have a choice, I almost always choose savory over sweet.  My girls, on the other hand, will choose sweet over savory any day (as will my husband, Adam).


So there you have it!  Another afternoon spent at The Tao of Tea.  We hope they never close, as it is a favorite afternoon spot for us!  x o, Karli

Teaching Children to Love Vegetables

Tuesday, January 22, 2019
We get bi-monthly produce boxes from Organics to You, but I still struggle to get my girls to try new things and expand their palate outside the two, maybe three, vegetables they have decided they like.  Sam, my son, will eat just about anything, and is never afraid to try a new item.  Since what we receive is mostly seasonal, the vegetables are always changing that come to us.  Amelia is the one out of my two girls that likes carrots, though my other daughter is not so keen.  None of my kids care for avocados, but you'd never know from this cutie patootie picture!


The kids have to try certain things, we keep trying with different seasonal vegetables that come through, as well as some fruits, and slowly by slowly, I hope they will loosen up. 


Parsnips are a root vegetable that I have to hide in soups, sometimes pureeing them.  I am always telling the girls that even if it LOOKS funny, it doesn't mean that it TASTES funny!  Having said that, this one looks pretty FUNNY!


Oh, Amelia.  If you'd spend even a fraction of the time sampling as you do staring at these odd looking things that we call food, who knows, you might just like them.


In addition, I beautify fruit and vegetables by displaying this beautiful calendar in our kitchen by Brooke Weeber of Little Canoe, an artist I have been supporting for many, many years.  We have her succulent, vegetable, and fruit magnets, too.  All of her work is lovely, and as of this year, we have started buying her Power Foods calendar to promote eating fruit and vegetables in the kitchen.  P.S.  These calendars are currently 40% off, and I would highly recommend ordering one!


Soon, the following poster will be hanging in the kitchen, also--I just need to find the right frame first.  I'm thinking a rustic green one.  1.  Buy it with thought.  2.  Cook it with care.  3.  Use less wheat & meat.  4.  Buy local foods.  5.  Use what is left.  x o, Karli

Acupuncture

Monday, January 21, 2019

Those closest to me are aware that my panic/anxiety disorder hit an all-time high towards the end of last year, and has trickled into the New Year as well.  I always like to approach a problem with a variety of interventions.  One that I am currently trying is acupuncture.  So far, I have seen good results with my levels of anxiety.  I will not pretend to be very knowledgeable about this very old practice of Chinese medicine, but it's covered under my insurance and seems to be helping, so that's good enough for me.  x o, Karli

Special Package from Lemontree Interiors

Sunday, January 20, 2019
My all-time favorite interior designer is Ontario-based Sophia of Lemontree Interiors.  I love her home that she and her husband designed from the ground up, her style sense, her love of Nature, her online market, and following along with her lemontree_interiors Instagram posts, which is something I look forward to nearly every day.  Recently, for my 42nd birthday, my husband surprised me with two hand-forged brass spice spoons (one shorter, one longer) from her shop.  I absolutely love them, and will use them probably most frequently with my loose leaf teas, and maybe also occasionally for cocktail stirring.  They are beautiful to display on the counter or a kitchen shelf, and are timeless.  As Sophia notes in her online shop, "the shorter the spoon, the better for serving, the longer the spoon, the better for stirring."  x o, Karli

Banana fiber serving tray from Uganda, genmaicha (a favorite tea of mine), Le Creuset honey pot, inherited teacup and saucer from my Mother, a teapot from Tao of Tea gifted to me in the late 1990s by a dear friend, and my two new brass spice spoons from my husband Adam.  x o

South African Metal Antelope Bust from World Market

Saturday, January 19, 2019
It must have been over a year ago that I mentioned to Adam that I spotted something at World Market/Cost Plus that I thought would look nicely mounted over the downstairs fireplace mantle.  It was a metal antelope bust in light grey, and I kind of fell in love with it at first sight.  He must have sneaked back and purchased it, because I was surprised when I opened it this Christmas--they don't even sell them anymore!


Made from reclaimed metal from local scrapyards in South Africa, there are paint markings on the metal that are left, speaking to the original history.  Handcrafted, each one is a little different.  I remember when I was in Uganda watching African craftsmen make beautiful things along the roadside or at the markets, which I was able to obtain for loose change.  I packed as much as my suitcases would allow, leaving behind most of my clothes I brought for the African children in my host village Bwerenga.  An African stool became my carry-on (was very useful while waiting in long customs lines), many African batiks were rolled up, one even framed, and many banana fiber figurines were amongst a few of the souvenirs I brought back.  I love this antelope bust from World Market, and it looks just right above our fireplace downstairs.  Oh, and our new battery-operated copper-wire fairy lights now grace both of our two mantles . . . just the right amount of light to create a homey ambiance.  They remind me of fireflies and fairies.  x o, Karli

The Art and Culture of Tea

Friday, January 18, 2019
My girls and I have been drinking more tea lately, and sometimes for an after school treat, I'll take them to Tao of Tea to try new teas at one of my favorite teahouses in Portland.  Opening in 1997, it was one of the first places I used to go with friends when I moved into the Hawthorne house in 1997, and has been a favorite of mine ever since.  You could say I've been going there for over twenty years now!

Dew Drop Inn Tea House at the Nan Tien Temple in Berkeley, New South Wales, Australia
I personally love almost any tea, my favorites being brown rice tea from Japan called genmaicha and I rarely turn down a steaming cup of Masala Chai tea.  I like almost any black or herbal tea, gravitating to hibiscus, licorice, nettle, red clover, red raspberry, and bergomot.  Some of those I have listed are used to boost fertility, so I have been drinking them for the better part of this past year, and I enjoy some of these iced as well.  Last year, to further boost my fertility, I would add false unicorn or Dong quai tinctures to my teas, also.

Juniper and Amelia enjoy lavender tea at Tao of Tea in Portland, Oregon, after school.
The girls have been choosing flowery teas, and both agree they like lavender tea.  Both add a little milk to their teas.  They enjoy the experience of the teahouse as much as they presentation, the Tao of Tea serving their teas in a variety of teaware, mostly ceramic, stoneware, clay, or gongfu teapots.

Tao of Tea in Portland, Oregon
What about you?  Which teas do you like?  Do you enjoy the art and culture of teahouses, with the differing traditions depending on the country.  You can find teahouses in Japan, China, Nepal, Egypt, Mynamar, and British countries have their own style with china and high-tea traditions.  Buddhist monks used teas many hundreds of years ago to aid in meditation.  Tea can be medicinal, calming, energizing, and cleansing to name just a few ways that tea can benefit the body and the mind.  One place we have not yet visited is the Lan Su Chinese Garden in downtown Portland.  Tao of Tea operates a teahouse there in the Tower of Cosmic Reflections, serving Chinese teas in traditional Chinese teaware beside the Chinese gardens.  Next time you have a free afternoon, try visiting a local teahouse, exploring the different traditions and presentations of tea depending on what type of teahouse you visit.  x o, Karli

Rest in Peace, Mary Oliver

Thursday, January 17, 2019

I worried, by Mary Oliver
 
I worried a lot.  Will the garden grow, will the rivers 
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn 
as it was taught, and if not how shall 
I correct it?
Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?

Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,
hopeless.

Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
lockjaw, dementia?

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up.  And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
and sang.

Mary Oliver. Swan – Poems and Prose, 2010 Beacon Press

Walking Upstairs

Wednesday, January 16, 2019
It's late.  Time for bed.  About to head upstairs, I pause with wandering thoughts.  But then I hear it, and it stops me in my tracks.  The sound of my daughter's even breathing as she soundly sleeps.  The silence now coming from my son's room after an hour of coughing, now soothed by the glass of water and Australian magic drops.  Coming up the stairs, there is Pepper, sitting in the dining room, wondering if she wants to be a night owl or fall asleep on Juniper's coat on the couch.  I hear the wind outside tonight, spinning around our house like it will whirl it up like a top that leaves the ground.  Then the wind is still, my thoughts are still, my daughter keeps breathing, and Pepper keeps watching, perhaps wondering if the wind might cast a stray bird or feral cat against our screen door.  But the wind dies down, the house is quiet, the rain has started making pelting noises on the gutters, and everything else will somehow fall into place.  x o, Karli

Horsley, an Australian suburb in New South Wales, in the Fall of 2018

Dreaming of Tasmania

Tuesday, January 15, 2019
Our Australian parents visited Tasmania in December, and when I saw the pictures and heard about the trip, I fell in love with the place.  It is a must-stop next time we fly down under!  Oh, Australia, "where the women glow and the men plunder, where beer does flow and men chunder", there is still so much to see and explore.   

Tasmania, Australia, at the home of two of Adam's relatives, looking out on to the bay and Bruny Island
This place is like a dream to me, with this beautiful garden overlooking the bay.  I'm kind of in love, and I haven't even seen it in person yet.

Fairy wren, Tasmania
My favorite time of year to visit Australia is the Spring, when everything is in bloom, and the birds are flitting out and about, taking care of their babies.  It's not too hot, not too rainy, not too cold, not too windy.  Just right and absolutely beautiful.

A Tasmanian bumblebee x o
The landscape seems like it's out of a storybook, and Tasmania is so rural, that I imagine escaping there, reading books, meandering through gardens, maybe going into Hobart to explore Salamanca and Battery Point.  Spend a night or two in a 19th century sandstone barn, reading Becoming while sipping on a long black with a splash of milk.  Oh, Tasmania, you are definitely on the list for next time.  x o, Karli


High School Forecasting

Monday, January 14, 2019
How did my baby boy go from digging for worms to building his own PC last week and filling out high school forecasting forms with me for next year? 

Sam, Spring 2010, 5 years old, with his old pet crawfish

Wintertime

Sunday, January 13, 2019
We've been so lucky this January to have many sunny, but cool, days.  Usually, January is pretty rainy and grey.  On these sunny days, it feels nice to have the sun shine in a window, reminding us that Spring is just around the corner.

Pepper, our cat

A Step Back in Time: Sheridan Select Market

Saturday, January 12, 2019
Last weekend, we took a drive down to McMinnville and Sheridan, Oregon as I wanted to show Adam the grocery store that my Dad owned for 35 years.  It was weird how many things were still the same, yet so different with my Dad no longer the owner.  He sold it when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer after owning it for 35 years.  It wasn't easy seeing it after so many years, and I was still feeling a bit tearful about our infertility, but I'm glad I showed Adam, as it was a big part of my childhood.  I think he liked seeing it, too.


At the end of especially hard days, sometimes you have to reach for a bumper sticker and laugh.  All we have, after all, is the here and now.  P.S.  We did stop at Spirit Mountain Casino and Lodge, where smoking is allowed.  It's hard to imagine a time in my life when that was the norm.  We shared a nice dinner (restaurant was non-smoking, thank-goodness), then drove home in the wind and the rain.  x o, Karli

Throw Me A Rope

Friday, January 11, 2019
I called my Australian Mom the other night and told her everything, about how we tried for a baby all of last year, and we couldn't get pregnant.  It had been so hard to keep it from Adam's parents while they were visiting last summer/fall, but in those days, I wanted to save it up for a surprise.  Now all I feel sadness and loss.  I know Adam and I can share many things in life, and having children together is only one aspect to what two people can share, but damnit!  I mean, really.  Sometimes life doesn't go the way you want it to.


P.S.  For those who read my post My Personal Battle with Anxiety and Panic Disorder, I have been making calls this week to those clinics specializing in anxiety/panic disorders, and will let you know what resources I find that can help.  x o, Karli

Nature in the Home

Thursday, January 10, 2019
Bringing natural elements into the home (especially during the winter months) is one of the easiest ways to create an environment of peace.  The small flame of a candle, rocks hand-selected from travels, evergreens such as eucalyptus, fir, or pine, essential oils like lavender or citrus, or even fallen pine cones from the garden can brighten the home during the winter months.  In addition, we regularly donate to Goodwill those things that are simply taking up space or no longer bring us joy.  We try to keep our house simplified and orderly.  A de-cluttered environment is a peaceful environment.  I also have Bromme bird feeders (best ever!) strategically centered in front of windows where birds can be observed throughout the day, bringing Nature not only into our home, but around it.  What are your favorite natural elements for the home?


Kobocha Squash and Everything After

Wednesday, January 09, 2019
We get a produce bin from Organics to You every-other-week, receiving seasonal fruits and vegetables.  This time of year, our local farm-direct produce includes a variety of root vegetables and squashes.  This week, we received a Kobocha squash (also known as the Japanese pumpkin), and since I've been working on a vegetable and turkey soup today, I threw it in the pot after following these two steps:


TAKE THE TIME TO PRE-ROAST PRIOR TO CUTTING

Now I don't know about you, but I've learned a few lessons in life the hard way, but have never lost a finger from the School of Hard Knocks.  Squash are notorious for being extremely hard to chop, even with the sharpest of knives, and one miss could cost you a finger, and I guarantee you that squash will be the last man standing.  Pop the squash whole into the oven on 425 for ten minutes before you cut for roasting.  I promise you, it will cut like a hard stick of butter when it comes out, and your life will be so much easier.


Oops, I did it again.  Got distracted and left mine in the oven for closer to 30 minutes, so this one is just about roasted through, though just perfect to chop up for my soup.  Kobocha squash is very high in antioxidants, beta carotene, iron, vitamins A, C, fiber and some B vitamins.  The rind is edible, and obviously high in fiber, but I usually choose to peel mine.  



Next it's time to scoop out the seeds, just like Halloween!  Luckily, Japanese pumpkins are much smaller, and four or five tablespoons will complete the job (remember to compost or save seeds for roasting separately)!  From here, I chopped mine up into cubes for the soup, but you could also puree for soup (or baby food!), but here's another way to prepare it that is so yum:


If you truly only roast for 10 minutes prior to cutting, drizzle melted coconut oil on top, sprinkle with a little salt and cinnamon (good for digestion), and return to roast for another 30-35 minutes.  Head on over to Nutritious Eats for the whole recipe.  

P.S.  I'm not a squash fan, but like this.  x o, Karli


Favorite Soaps

Tuesday, January 08, 2019
TOP TWO:

Amy Peterson Homemade Soaps (Handmade in Lakeview, Oregon).  I purchase mine at Mount Hood Roasters (a favorite stop of mine on the way up to Mount Hood).  My favorite soap bar is Leather and Lace and her Blackberry Sage (Paraben-free) Lotion is the best ever.  I absolutely love everything about it!


My other top natural bar soap is Estrella HANDS DOWN!  Plant-based, natural soap bars, these are the perfect mix of everything, including slightly exfoliating (depending on which bar you choose).  Adam bought me two bars from Crafty Wonderland, as they had a booth there, and I will definitely be ordering more.  Based out of Seattle, I'm not sure if they carry products here in Portland, though it would not surprise me.  Their soaps can be ordered from their website, and they are AMAZING.  I have become quite sensitive to many products, and have had to start investing in natural, plant-based soaps.  These are currently my two top favorites!  x o, Karli

Don't Mind Me

Monday, January 07, 2019
I'm just drinking a hot toddy, reading Michelle Obama's hot new autobiography for bookclub, and sitting in a rustic chair by the fire at Timberline with a Pendleton pillow supporting the small of my back.  BLISS.


P.S.  REALITY check: I was also crying some tears during this day (lots of tears), saddened that Adam and I were unable to make a baby together.  I never knew the heartache of infertility until this year, and it is gut-wrenching. 

42 Years Old

Sunday, January 06, 2019
I don't think a birthday has hit me this hard since I turned 26 and thought I was so old that the world would come to an end.  We had been trying for a baby this year, but it didn't happen for us, making this birthday even more difficult in many ways as we processed the loss of what could have been.  Sometimes you work hard for something, but the doors do not open, while at other times, you work really hard for something, and doors do open.  What I do know is that some things are simply out of our hands.  Infertility aside, however, here I am . . . sixteen years after that 26th birthday, and I have three beautiful children, a loving husband, a beautiful house, and a nursing career that enables me to make a positive difference in the lives of my patients every day.  Life is good (not always easy, but good), and we live in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.  x o, Karli

Karli and Adam on Mount Hood in Oregon on her 42nd birthday

Tangled Up in You

Saturday, January 05, 2019
Adam wrote me the sweetest anniversary card "Tangled Up in You" by Jessica Soleil of A Little Sun.  We're definitely Octo-lovers!  I won't share what he wrote here (shhh, that's private!), but the entire car from front to back was the sweetest, and I will treasure it always.  x o , Karli

"Tangled Up in You" by Jessica Soleil of A Little Sun

Our Third Wedding Anniversary

Friday, January 04, 2019
Elephants on Corbett in Portland, Oregon, on our wedding day January 4, 2016
From meeting randomly one evening on Bourbon Street in New Orleans to the beginnings of a friendship to falling in love in The Dalles to a (very) long-distance romance to a missed flight and a proposal and here we are, celebrating our third wedding anniversary, which wouldn't have been complete without stopping in where we first said our vows on that snowy, January evening.

Elephants on Corbett on the 3rd anniversary of our wedding (January 4, 2019)
We've been through so much together (more than most realize) and are more committed than ever to our love and the life we are building and sharing together.  Do I believe in fate?  Yes.  And I also believe that New Orleans is the real city of love.

Raising a toast on our third wedding anniversary at Elephants on Corbett (January 4, 2019)
There was a time we couldn't see a way for our relationship to work, but we persisted, and doors opened, proving once again that life is more than what we see or imagine life to be.  If we can open our minds to new possibilities, life can bring us to places we never thought possible. 

Dinner Out with the Girls

Thursday, January 03, 2019
The girls and I went out after I picked them up from school today for tea, then a little shopping for a new bird feeder from Backyard Bird Shop for the living room picture window, then we treated ourselves to Ken's Artisan Pizza.  I have the next eight days off, so I'm looking forward to this time with Adam and the kids.

Sisters Juniper and Amelia enjoying house-made lemonade from Ken's Artisan Pizza.

Prosciutto pizza for the win!
We love Ken's, and were so lucky to beat the rush, as when we left there was a line down the block.  Always a treat and the perfect mid-week dinner to keep the kitchen tidy at home and allow us to catch up on some other things (and we even saved enough for Sam and Adam, though it was hard not to eat it all!).

Making Time Stand Still

Wednesday, January 02, 2019
Queue Neil Young, Heart of Gold, LIVE from 1971

Some things change, others time stands still. 

"I want to live, I want to give
I've been a miner for a heart of gold
It's these expressions I never give
That keep me searching for a heart of gold and I'm getting old
Keep me searching for a heart of gold and I'm getting old" --Neil Young
 
 
God damnit, why'd you have to die so young, Dad?  Mom is a wreck since you died, and we can't do anything about it.  I don't know how you did it all those years.  I have memories of you as old as I am now, and I especially remember when you turned 46 and thought you were really an old man.  I'm 4 years from there now, and I get you so much more now than I did in those days.  Robby's over in Sisters and Kristi's in Italy right now.  What the heck?  I love you, and miss you like hell.  
Love, Karlos

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

May we all learn to love the creatures that dwell on this planet with us, and grow to find beauty in the smallest of things.  Here's to life, living, and a better year in 2019.  x o, Karli
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