Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Late August, and a Roasted Tomato Recipe...

I'm a winter knitter or at least a wait-til-fall knitter. Somehow in the summertime I never have any urge whatsoever to push needles through yarn. Warning: this is a bloggy-post blog-post, so please excuse me... 
I am noticing something is changing in the air—an autumn presence— you can smell it and feel it. It's one of those sort of days with wind in the trees, leaves rustling, clouds collecting high in the still-blue sky. I'm so excited, summer’s been way too warm. Even in the northwest I feel like I'm continually fighting summers. Yesterday I took the kids to the park... These kind of outings remind me of when the kids were little, when we were always altogether, always at the parks, and I was always making something on a blanket on the grass... Over the years my projects have become so much bigger; house restoration, food-truck start up, books... I feel nostalgia for the simple hat, a little doll and the oh so many attempts to make socks; they never came out as I wanted them to. I guess I'm just not a sock maker. I always marvel at all the people who knit these beautiful socks in beautiful colors with beautiful stripes. For me, somehow, I just never got the knack. It's probably impatience on my part, I hate patterns! I can't pause my mind long enough to want to read the small print with such specific guidelines...
  But summer is not done. Proof is in the tomatoes and zucchini still so abundant...

Hope everyone is having a wonderful end to August!
                                                                                                                  ~ Marica

Roasted Tomato Recipe

In a glass baking dish pour a splash of olive oil and then fill with sliced tomatoes, garlic and zucchini. Splash with more olive oil and then sprinkle with salt, black pepper and smoked paprika.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Greenpeace at the St Johns Bridge…

Well I guess after my last couple of posts, and now adding this one, I will come across as feeling somewhat political lately. Maybe I am, or maybe it's just been a coincidental bunch of things happening one after another. Either way, yesterday morning at 3:00am thirteen Greenpeace activists suspended themselves from the St Johns bridge to block a ship heading out to the Arctic to drill for oil. Late in the afternoon the kids and I managed to walk down to check out the protest. Wow, I have to say it is an impressive feat. We went back again this evening and there were loads more people out watching the spectacle and supporting this dangling human barricade. 

green peace in portland

st johns bridge
I hope it works!

                                                                                                        ~ Marica

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Pie and Capitalism

We finally got some rain… Whew…  And then I look at the weather and see Wednesday and Thursday are to hit the high nineties. What is going on? Come on dear planet, can we coax you just a bit into milder weather…?

Lately I have been struggling with the awkward chink of capitalism in a very visible, controlled environment. Having a food truck has been the most glorious ride. We coast through experiences and the sharp curves of learning at a very hippity-hop pace. Right now we are realizing the sour truth of how many landlords/owners truly count dollars before and above the flow of good camaraderie. It is disheartening. But, I don't think pie will ever be a sorry sight, so here is a picture of why we all bother to do what we do… Pie. 

                                                                                                       ~ Marica

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Why nine-year-olds should be part of making the decisions on how to run a country…

I just had the most amazing conversation in the car with my nine-year-old son. He has talked a lot about homelessness lately, and fairness in general. So out of the blue, as we are speeding along to go pick up his friend, he says:
      "I think everybody should have the same amount of money. If there are rich people they should have to give the government some of their money and then it should go to poor people."

I responded something along the lines of:
 "That is a really good thought." Not wanting to crush the incredible ideal that is so alive in this idea. 

He then goes on to say:
      "If I was rich I would give my money away to poor people and then I wouldn't be rich anymore. Well I would give half of my money away."

A minute later he says:
         "There is probably someone sleeping on the sidewalk right now, right this minute. I feel really bad for homeless people." 

We drive on and he says:
"Look there are pillows and a blanket. Look out there. That's so funny I just said there is probably someone sleeping on the sidewalk right now!"

Pause and then:
        "But I feel good for homeless people who live in Alaska."
"Why?" I ask.

         "Because, they could build themselves igloos, and in the summer it is warm. I feel good for them."

We finally get to his friend's house and are parking. 
"The president should make it so there are no poor people."

"That would be wonderful." I say, "Unfortunately there isn't a simple solution." 

Come on folks in office, lets hear from our children, lets remember we are all living-beings on this massive, swirling orb. Time to stop thinking one person is more important than another.

                                                Hope everyone is enjoying their Tuesday!
                                                                        ~ Marica

Monday, July 20, 2015

Summer Days…

I have a feeling a big house organization might be needing to take place in the next few days. You know how sometimes you feel that feeling and it's just simmering in the background and then all of a sudden you know it's going to push its way forward all the way through to the most important thing right here, right now. Of course there are other things that need to be done too. I need to finish a painting to complete a book. I need to make fliers for my food truck, and spend some time just relaxing and catching up on good old-fashioned rest. Well cheers to all the plans we have in our heads before they actually get done. Cheers to getting things done. And cheers to not getting anything done at all except for lazing by the river and napping in the sand. Maybe a combo?

How are you spending your summer days?

                                                     Happy Summer ~

Monday, May 25, 2015

Getting ready to say goodbye…

Sometimes a house is a friend, not just a passing, useful, rain deterring
tool, but a connection you will have and keep dear forever.

Four or so years ago I found a best friend, or how I more often phrase itmy baby. This was a house that held my deepest dreams and my most practical desires. I remember explaining to the realtor on the phone "I want a house with a huge yard, the house can be small, I want something that needs to be fixed but has good bones. I'm not in a hurry, but if it is the right one I want to know about it." I wanted a house I could call a home. Her quick response was "I know of a house that just came on the market, it may be way too run down for you but go by and check it out." She gave me the address and I immediately dropped everything to go look.

I drove up the long driveway lined by a mowed lawn that was mostly weeds and Bermuda grass. All I could see from there was a dilapidated garage door and the peak of a roof that may or may not have been the house. I parked and walked around the garage to a covered patio (really a carport, but I refused to call it that) with an outdoor fire place, right beyond was giant yard that swept back until it ran into a grove of oak trees. I was in love. I stepped up onto a concrete patio that ran along the house and peeked in through a very filthy window. A massive brick fire place stood immense and dramatic in a large living-room with wide, old oak flooring. I called her then and there. "I love it! It's perfect. What to I do now, I definitely want it as long as the structure is sound." 

I can't portray how excited I was. Here was a rough gem, so rough that all my fantasies from childhood could finally be filled with this old house. As a kid one of my biggest dreams was to find an old abandoned Victorian house and slowly but surely bring it back to life. This wasn't a Victorian, it was better, it was unique in ways I couldn't expect.

It took about five weeks to get the house into my name. A harrowing five weeks I must add. There was many a moment I doubted my decision; the smell alone made me wary enough to ask to see several more homes before I was clear this was the right one.

I had a handful of friends and friends of friends come check it out with their contractor eyes turned on. All had the same thoughts:  It looks sound but you never can truly know til you buy it and start working, it would take loads of money which they knew I didn't have to put into it, and lastly, they loved the house too. It truly was special.

We moved in with only a toilet ready to go, we slept in the hall and had no kitchen for at least a month.  The first night I knew, I really knew, I was finally at home. I felt more settled and at ease in this musty, unkept set of walls then I had at the lovely suburban house I had been renting the year before. Cement driveways and well kept lawns made my skin crawl.

Thanks to the help of a team of guys and my parents loan of some cash, we made the bathroom and kitchen the way we wanted and lived with the rest of the house as it was. I remember my friend telling me, "Now what used to be the worst part is the best, and what was tolerable before is now the worst." She was so right.

I designed the good spaces just how I wanted them, so that although it cost more than if I had used Lowe's cheapest ceramic tile, it came out better than I ever could have hoped. I have learned, and this is only for myself someone else may prefer a different plan of attack, but I have learned to make what you can fix  as wonderful and tasteful as you can, and then the rest follows, maybe slowly, but at least you know where you are headed.

Sadly, my perfect house is not in my perfect town. After only a couple of years in the house, we realized we needed to move to a place that had the same impact on us that that house had had on me when I first met it. Southern California has never been a place that speaks to me, and it took two tries to get us up and out to where our heart truly lies-- the Pacific North West. But I miss my friend, my baby, the deep shutter of connection I felt as I lived under that roof.

It was an incredibly hard decision to part with this baby of mine. But I have worked hard to let go and am ready, getting ready, to say goodbye for good. Hopefully the new family that moves in will love that house with the same immense passion that I did.



Outside the house in the first few days of ownership (pictures from this post):
pictures of houses, images of houses
pictures of houses, pictures of old houses, images of old houses before and after
The incredible yard:
The patio fireplace:
An old chicken shed in the back, so rotten we had to tear it down:
Sleeping in the hall:
Old kitchen, far worse than the picture shows: 
Wall of the kitchen to the living-room that was removed:
 Bathroom in all its beauty. There was even a spot of blood on the floor. So gross:

The carpet that smelled so strong the whole house was saturated:
The redone kitchen from the living-room:
The amazing fire place:
Open bar to the kitchen that was used all day long and was the best way to hang out with friends and the kids while I cooked:
The brilliant stove we found on Craigslist . . . (Two ovens, a  dream I've had since I was a kid!!)
We eventually put in the back splash, I had poured the concrete counter tops myself and had botched a couple of places. We decided to have the person who had laid our tile come back and fix up my funky spots and put in the back splash properly. He did such a nice job. We used ceramic coasters as accent tiles to bring in more color.
Onto the bathroom, gutted and loved . . .
 The stone sink was a bit of a challenge. It came from just a few streets over, at a small shop where the husband and wife import them from China. The wife is Chinese and either her family makes them, or they help select them. Anyway, I had told the guy helping us with our bathroom that we were going to have a drop in sink. I didn't know the plumbing changed entirely depending on what kind of sink you use. So part way through the bathroom creation I showed up with this baby. The guy was horrified, but had to agree it was pretty amazing. Usually they are used for fountains, but hey, the walls were all slate, and it brought the feeling to the bathroom I was searching for. 
 He suggested a copper faucet. Plumbing fixtures are far from cheep, and once he realized 
we had no intention of trying to stay in the box, it felt like a burst of interest came in. He
 was ready to experiment. 

The patio where we spent most of our time:
We had all our parties and holiday meals out there. The ten foot table fit almost everyone:
And at night even if it was just us, a fire made the whole space incredibly cozy:

We'll have a few more tune-ups to do before we set sail and beckon a new family in. I will post those pictures in a few weeks time as they are ready.

For now, I will love this house just a little bit longer and work to have it finished.

To read more about this house and see more pictures check out these posts and these.

                                         All my best to everyone

                                                            ~ Marica

This post was inspired by Compass's"Starter Stories Project". They asked me to write about my first home, which, anyone who has followed my blog would know is a very irresistible subject for me. Thanks for reading.