Monday, October 29, 2012

{hey i just met you, and this is crazy...}

I had one day off this weekend, and since it was raining, raining, raining here... I went out for pumpkin milkshakes and spent the afternoon drawing Christmas cards. I've decided that I love drawing Christmas cards. The possibilities for fun cartoons are just endless.

Here are the latest:

Of course, I gotta throw in a new geeky card, too....

And speaking of a rainy weekend, my thoughts go out to all of you on the east coast this week. Stay safe as Hurricane Sandy approaches!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

{mcneil point... deja vous all over again}

Soooo... you know that trip I took to Crater Lake at the end of September? The one where I took 600+ photos in four days? I'm still trying to go through and edit/ discard duplicates/ keep my favorites, so I'm totally NOT going to share them today (sorry). I realize I should have been finished with this task weeks ago, but what can I say? I'm a slacker. ;)

On the upside, while I work on that, I have photos from a hike my mom and I took on her last day here. She wanted to see Mt. Hood all week, so I took her up to McNeil Point, my personal favorite Mt. Hood view in Oregon. I realize that you've already seen photos from this hike in {this post}, but... I can't help it. The photos of this mountain are too damn gorgeous. I have to share again.

Plus, it was a blue-sky no-clouds perfect kind of day AND I totally remembered my polarizing filter this time. I KNOW. Crazy. (I'm always forgetting that thing in "my other camera bag." Typical.) Hence why the sky finally came out nice and saturated like it's supposed to be.

Enjoy.... Again. ;)

Monday, October 22, 2012

{merry chris-moose!}

Tanner and I had the weekend off, so we went with some friends to a pumpkin patch on Saturday and had fun shooting apples, picking pumpkins, solving corn mazes, and eating copious amounts of cider apple donuts and pumpkin pancakes.

The colors of the changing leaves are just beautiful these days, and it was a wonderful way to enjoy my favorite season. The weather since has quickly dropped to a chilly 47 degrees in Portland, and Mt Hood got its first foot of snow on Saturday night! I'm keeping an eye out for early skiing conditions (we were skiing by Thanksgiving last year) while still enjoying the brief last bits of autumn.

All the wonderful sights/ smells/ tastes of fall this weekend put me in the mood to make a new line of holiday cards! My favorite is the Christmas moose, even through Tanner thinks his neck is too skinny. I think it's a good thing he has a turtleneck on, or else his little neck would get chilly. :)

And of course, don't forget the Thanksgiving/ thank you cards!

I also posted some listings for sets, so now you can buy Holiday cards (or any card!) in bulk at cheaper prices! You may choose to get four or six at a time:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

{i know a place where dreams are born...}

I really like doing custom orders. They tend to be time consuming, which is why I don't advertise them in my shop, but it's always fun to do one or two here and there as people ask for them. I get in creative ruts sometimes and can't think of any new ideas, so when someone gives me a brilliant suggestion, it's all I can do not to hunker down with my sketch book and spend the rest of the day drawing.

I've had a few custom orders lately that I thought I'd share with you.

The first came from a girl who ordered a couple of my cards a few weeks back. She asked if I had any Peter Pan drawings. I didn't, which surprised even me because Peter Pan is one of my very favorite books, fairy tales, movie, you name it.
She asked if I wouldn't mind making some prints of some of her favorite Peter Pan quotes, so of course I jumped on the opportunity.

I felt like a little kid drawing these, and Kenny Loggin's Neverland Medley kept playing over and over in my head all the while.

These prints were final drafts. The first drawings I made were more "cartoony": a little more like the cards I draw in my shop. After discussing options and figuring out what her vision for the prints was, we scrapped the first set and ended up with the ones you see above.
However, I had so much fun giggling over the first set that I couldn't help but add them to my shop:

The next custom order was for an iteration of my Han and Leia "I love you" card, with R2D2, instead. I liked the idea so much I couldn't resist making it a permanent spot in my shop.

Yeah, I'm a total Star Wars dork.
It's nice to know that I'm not the only one. :)

Monday, October 15, 2012

{vista ridge hike}

It has been raining in Portland all weekend. Our first rainfall in three months.

Last week when I checked the weather forecast, I noticed that our perfectly sunny days were set to end on Thursday. Fortunately, Thursday was also my day off, so I made it our official beautiful summer last hurrah hike, because who knows when such a lovely day might come again?

I packed up our bags Thursday morning, and by noon Tanner and I were on the road with some written directions and a guide book to Mt Hood. I like doing alpine hikes late in the summer because here in Oregon the snow doesn't melt in the high country until late July, or sometimes even August. Then it begins snowing again in late October, so the window of opportunity is brief and I feel wildly compelled to take full advantage of it.

We drove to the north side of Mt Hood, which we last visited on our trip to Lost Lake and McNeil Point. This time we decided to hike Vista Ridge, but discovered that the long, winding logging roads to the trailhead made it a much lengthier drive than expected. It took a full two hours to reach our destination, not including our inadvertent side-trip down the wrong forest road. (Sometimes they are poorly marked...)  Fortunately, the drive was simply beautiful. With the fall colors in full bloom on the hillsides, everything was exploding in reds, oranges and yellows against the deep purple of Mt Hood. I didn't take any photos because I was too busy gawking to tell Tanner to stop the car.

When we arrived, it was already 2:30 and the sun was hovering more in the west than the east. Worried we wouldn't have time for the entire eight mile hike, we hurried along the path and were soon entrenched in a section of the Mt Hood wilderness that had been stripped by a forest fire last year.

The charred, curling bark on the trees was a fascinating sight to see, and the stark emptiness of the area was chilling. It was almost eerie how silent the forest was. I could hear my own heart beat and see the curve of the mountain through the spaces where the leaves should have been. The ashy earth stuck to our boots and created whispering motes through the breeze. Everything smelled like old campfires and dusty attics. The trees curled painfully over the trail, pointing their spidery branches like fingers to the summit.

Once the fascination of the sight wore off, the eerie silence sunk in, and we scurried along, trying to find the lush trees again. But the trail tricked us, making the summit seem so close, while it wandered back and forth through the blackened forest, never quite reaching the top. I felt like Sisyphus, forever pushing his boulder up the hill, always just out of reach of the goal.

After two miles, we finally came upon life and picked up the Timberline Trail, which wends its way fully around Mt Hood in a forty-mile loop. We meandered along it for a while, watching the sun sink below the trees and enjoying the beautiful views of Mt Hood, Mt Adams, Mt St Helens and Mt Rainier lit by the golden glow of sunset. We got about four miles in before turning back so that we could make it back to the car before nightfall.

Though we hadn't seen a single soul all day (a fact that made the Halloween forest even creepier) we stumbled upon an elderly couple near the trailhead on our way out. They had gotten lost on the wrong trail and were now a few miles away from where they had parked their car, unsure how to get back. Tanner and I offered to help, and after carefully navigating some pitted forest roads via truck, we found the couple's car and dropped them off safely. They offered to give us money for gas, but we smiled and told them to pay it forward. I just love the camaraderie you find between people on the trails. Everyone so willing to help each other without cause. (I also hope I'm still putting in ten-mile day hikes when I'm their age!)

All in all, it was a lovely last hike of the season, and I expect winter to bring many more adventures!

Monday, October 8, 2012

{dutch oven bread}

I'm not the greatest cook (read: worst cook everrrrr) but I do love baking. One of my very favorite things to bake is bread. Homemade bread has been around in my family for as long as I can remember. I barely knew what pre-packaged white bread was until high school. Both my mom and my dad enjoyed making it every week, and I loved eating it.

These days, I enjoy making my own. The gentle rhythm of kneading dough is so cathartic, and is there anything more delicious than the smell of bread straight out of the oven? Heaven. I could live on bread alone, people, I'm telling you. I would be fat and happy and smell faintly of flour. Mmmmm.

Despite my skill at making a mean loaf of homemade bread, I had never before heard of making bread in a dutch oven. I mean, WHAT? Bread is made in bread pans! How the hell does a dutch oven come into play, here?

I was so intrigued with the idea, that I ran out and bought me a $50 dutch oven from IKEA and immediately googled a recipe (yes, I buy $50 worth of cookware on a whim. This is how much I love bread, people.) Turns out, this tactic is like MAGIC. I'm serious. I was completely skeptical the entire time. After all, I have years of bread baking experience in my pocket and this just threw it all out the window. AND, it's probably the easiest recipe in the world. Prepare to be amazed.

{dutch oven bread}

3 cups all purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp yeast
1 1/2 cups water
5 qt dutch oven with lid

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt and yeast.

At this point, you can keep going to make regular yeast bread, or you can add some fun ingredients and make the bread kick-ass. I put in cranberries and lemon zest, since that's what I had on hand at the time. (In case you are curious, this is a brilliant combination. I think orange zest would also be awesome.)

Add water and mix until dough becomes sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 12 - 18 hours. I let mine sit overnight. It will rise by morning:

The next day, heat oven to 450 degrees. Place your dutch oven (or cast iron pot of some kind, with a lid) into the preheated oven and heat up the pot for 30 minutes. While it is heating, knead dough on a floured surface and form into a ball. It will be crazy sticky, so make sure you have enough flour on the counter/ your hands. Let the dough-ball sit under the plastic wrap until the dutch oven is finished heating.

Remove your cast iron pot from oven (carefully) and drop in your dough ball. Cover the cast iron pot with lid and return it to the oven for 30 minutes. (My oven is crazy hot, so I lowered the temp a bit and only baked it for 20 minutes). After 20-30 minutes, remove dutch oven lid and bake an additional 15 minutes or so.

After you drop your bread dough into the pot and wait for it to bake, you're totally going to be thinking: there's no way in hell this will be bread. I mean, I know dough forms bread in a bread pan in 30 minutes, but usually it has spent all night rising to an appropriate bread shape and size, and when it bakes, it forms a nice, rounded golden crust on top. Plus, you can watch its progress through your oven door.

With the dutch oven, you can't see crap. You drop this tiny, sticky bundle of unrisen dough into a giant pot, cover it up, and scoff a little that it will create anything close to resembling bread in that time.

And then you pull the lid off.... and BAM! MAGIC DOUGH! It became BREAD! I mean, I bake a lot, but I still couldn't get over this one. I figured if there was any way to ruin the simplest recipe in the world, I would have found a way to do it. But I didn't! It made a perfect, round, artisan crispy loaf, and it was amazing.

Best $50 loaf of bread I ever made. :)

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