The most requested thing for dinner around here? Noodles. With butter.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


After Mercy Corps Artivism Camp on Friday, we walked around Portland and went to some favorite places like Powell's, Little Big Burger, Pioneer Courthouse Square, and Waterfront Park.

My plan was to spend the early evening in Portland to avoid the freeways and bridges until the crush was over, but we ended up coming home early because somebody (not me) didn't like the plan and just wanted to get home.  She's so good at being 13...

I give you P-town in all her natural glory...

There are bridges... 

The Morrison Bridge in the raised position.
There are water features...

There are statues, street performers and street people...

This is not a street performer, it is a statue.
This is not a statue, it is a street performer.
And another performer.

Hey guys!  Everyone get your brass instruments and your bedsheets and join us downtown!
And make sure you arrive by bike!
I gave this guy money because he was working hard for a living.  It takes forever to learn to play the pipes!
Portland does have homeless shelters but there are many who prefer the public parks.
It's easier to start panhandling the moment you wake up.
There's a Chinatown...

...and a humongous bookstore.

There's a great place to eat called "Little Big Burger".  Share a bag of fries with someone you love!

There's a place called "Voodoo Donuts" that always has a line out the door.  It's not that their pastries are so good, it's that their way of doing things is a little twisted and Portlanders like things that are twisted.

There's a grocery store in a trolley, a futuristic looking public toilet, firetrucks, and lots and lots of bikes.  

The green zone is for bikes.  If there is a bike there, your car should not be there.  Your car is not a bike.
Your car is evil because it is not a bike.  Bikes are not evil. You should get a bike.
I think you get the idea.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Mercy Corps

Last week, Abby attended Artivism Camp at Mercy Corps in downtown Portland.  Their website states the camp's purpose as follows:

Learn how to use your creativity to inspire people to take action and get excited about global issues. Art for activism, Artivism raises awareness about social issues through the arts, including visual arts, dance, creative writing and theater.

The mornings were usually dedicated to learning about some local or global social issue, and the afternoons were spent creating.  One day, they walked around Portland and learned about the homeless and the issues that accompany homelessness.

I think she learned quite a bit and I could see that not only was she inspired to create, but she was also becoming more thoughtful about the world around her.

Here are a few shots of the building and the projects the kids did:

The schedule for the week- at the beginning of the week everything was covered up and only revealed to the kids as time drew near for each section.  It was sort of intriguing and kept the kids interested.
She is standing by the comic that she drew on Tuesday.
It is about a homeless cat who finds a friend and a place to stay.
(And seriously, I am not a cat person, but this comic was really moving and I found myself rooting for the cat and getting all teary when it found a friend.  My kiddo has mad storytelling skillz, y'all)
On Wednesday, they made books out of recycled materials.
On Thursday, they did "creative movement".  Not her favorite part. 
The group is getting ready for the parent art show on Friday afternoon.
Displays in the Mercy Corps lobby.
The collage made by all the campers.  If you look closely, you will see that all the pieces make up a map of the world.
Abby's part of the collage.
She incorporated the Mercy Corps logo into her part of the sign.

It was a very productive week, and she learned a lot that will help her in her leadership class at school next year.  I hope she can experience this again next summer!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Bowling ball "art"

I wanted a gazing ball for my garden area.  I had a really nice one at my former house, but it got stolen from the front yard.  I got that one for free, so I had no idea how much they cost.  The really nice ones- the chrome ones- are spendy!  Nothing less than $40 on amazon.  Yikes.  Not in my budget.

So I looked on-line for alternatives and found that people were taking old bowling balls and painting them or gluing shiny things on them and voila! yard art!  I like crafty things so I started scouring the local GW for used inexpensive bowling balls. Nothing. I tried Salvation Army. Nada. Craigslist?  No way. Maybe Value Village would have one? Nope. The local bowling alley? Nein. It seems that as soon as one person posts an inexpensive recycle craft idea on the web, all the supplies for that craft get promptly scooped up and used by all the crafters in the area.  Boo.

Months later, I asked the staff at our athletic club, which has a small bowling alley.  They had a ball that was damaged and they didn't know what to do with it.  Did it go in the trash bin or the recycle bin? Neither.  It came home with me!

You can see the cracked and damaged area on the right center part of the ball.
I filled in the crack with some of the adhesive that I was going to use to glue on the glass stones.
The adhesive is called E-6000 and it is paintable.
I had white spray paint, so I used it up for the first coat.  Then I sprayed it with Glow-in-the-Dark paint.  I wasn't sure if it would actually glow, but I figured it was worth a try.
Blue painter's tape rolled into a sticky rope provided a nice guideline and "shelf" for the glass stones.
All the glass stones came from GW in random containers of craft supplies, so I had to figure out a pattern using what I had.  I decided to stick with a green/white/aqua color scheme since those are the main colors I got
and since the glow-in-the-dark effect was sort of greenish. 
I pounded a 12 inch spike of rebar into the ground and set the ball's thumb hole right on it.
I had covered the finger holes with glass stones so bugs wouldn't make homes inside them.
It looks cooler than I thought it would in the garden.  I can hardly wait to see it glow outside tonight.
(It does glow- like a night light in my living room the last few nights.) 
Now it just needs the sun to come out and "charge" the paint so it will glow tonight.
Instead of over $40, I spent just under $15 for paint, glue, and used glass stones.  Boo-yah.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Dear America

Dear America,
I hate to break it to you, but...
Leggings are not pants.
Tattoos are not shirts.
Please. Just. STOP.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Patio before and afters

The before pictures were taken last summer while I was still waiting for B of A to come down out of their lofty towers and approve my humble request to purchase this home for a certain amount of money.

So, we didn't own it yet and we sort of snuck in.  Only my realtor knows (well, and now you), but we won't tell how.

Looking out my bedroom door before...
...and after.
The famous Abster before...
...and after.
The really sad strip of grass before...
...and after.  Still working on getting some seeds to grow there and fill in the bare spots.
The gross "side yard" with the gap under the fence the size of our dog.
How convenient for him.

Side yard after- with some plants and 400 pounds of red lava rock.
No more gaps and no digging either because the lava rock hurts his paws.  Ha.
The metal can holds birdseed and grass seed.
Look at the gap under the gate!  That is where he escaped the first night we lived here!
Now there is a paver walkway under the gate and no way for the dog to squeeze under or dig.  It's so much neater and cleaner than before.  Not sure why they didn't build the houses with walkways under the fences.
Of course, furniture and plants help it look cozy.
The license plates are from every place I lived growing up.

First container is herbs, second is peas and carrots, third is little pumpkins, and the last one is my boxwood, George.
I tell ya, George is thriving here.  I have never seen him healthier or happier.
Won't you be my neighbor?
View from the far corner.

I wasn't sure how I would like living without a traditional backyard.  I love it.  It is big enough for 6 or 7 people to have dinner outside, and small enough to organize and clean and decorate on a budget.  It is perfect.  Happy happy!