Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Celebrations

This past weekend was Ross' birthday! HOORAY! The big 2-7!!

We celebrated with lots of cards and mail from home:


Presents throughout the weekend:




Dinner out with friends (SO MUCH GOOD FOOD!):


AND I went a whole weekend without making Ross do chores. Pretty impressive if you ask me!

Henry loves birthdays because of all the boxes:


But all the partying makes him sooooooo tired (he has a hard life):


Then last night my boss offered me last minute tickets to go see the Portland Timbers exhibition match. Of course I want to go!

Great seats (view of the Timbers Army):


But COLD!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I'm Still Here

I am still here... just haven't thought of too many witty things to post to keep you entertained. Although, I have been working on my New Years "goals." Here is a 2 month update:

1. So far my half marathon training is going well. I am up to almost 6 straight miles running, and I am hitting the pavement about 5 days a week.
2. I am riding my bike to work about 1 day a week, sometimes more and sometimes less (depending on the rain). I rode today actually!
3. I spend several hours a week focusing on my novel and yes, I have actually gotten words on the page. I have been spending quite a good bit of my weekend mornings in the window seat of our neighborhood coffee shop (which I can see from my kitchen).
4. So the cooking thing... that's not going so well. Mainly, because Ross cooks and I eat. And I love him for it. But we did have a delicious, local, yegan dinner last night. YAY!
5. Our budget is set, now it's just a matter of sticking to it.
6. I still haven't figured out who to vote for this year for President. Maybe I will write in a name. Oprah?
7. Visit somewhere I have never been... I'm still working on that one too.
8. Stop living to work and start working to live... If I didn't spend 70% of my waking hours on my phone this one would be a lot easier.
9. Call a friend on the phone or skype at least once a week. (I am a bad friend. End of discussion)
10. Make one new friend. (Will you be my friend?)
11. Volunteer once a month.(AHHH! So I haven't done this one either)
12. Fall more in love with my hubby and nurture our growing relationship. (Now THIS one I do every DAY!)

So there you have it.... in some areas I am succeeding, and others I am failing miserably. But hey, I had high goals, right?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Good-bye My Pumpkin

On Monday we said good-bye to my beloved pumpkin. He developed a mushy spot that started oozing white puss.



We decided that Mr. Pumpkin may not be sanitary any more. He now lives in the compost bin in our back yard where he will hopefully decay and grow more happy pumpkins. That doesn't mean that I am not missing him already.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

02-14-2012

Happy Valentine's Day from the Bowdens!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Projects

We had a very busy, but wonderful weekend. Friday night we went out to eat at my new favorite restaurant in Portland- called Montage. It is dark and crowded, located underneath a bridge. You share tables with strangers, read your menu by candle-light, and eat the world's best Spold Mac and Cheese (amazing). The food was fast, spicy, and delicious. And left overs? Well they come wrapped in custom-shaped aluminum foil. I got a squirrel.




After dinner we went to The One Motorcycle Show. We got to walk around a neat warehouse space with cheap beer in cans and look at old motorcycles that had been re-furbished. Ross was in heaven. He took some really great pictures- I will post them once he spends some time editing!


Saturday we had pretty nice weather, so I went for a long run in Forest Park with my friend Janie while Ross rode his bike.


After running (and scrubing the mud off of my legs) I spent some time stripping paint for my desk project. Before:


In between layers, I gave a face lift to some old frames. I painted them yellow and brown a while back (when we lived in the apartment), but I haven't been happy with them. I don't know if it was my color choice or that the paint was too opaque, but I have never really used them because I couldn't find a place where they looked right. Before:


So, like any good antique-loving, vintage-craving, country girl at heart would do, I sanded-them, and roughed up the edges to give them an old and used feel. I love the light wood/white accents that the sanding created and I am MUCH happier with them now. They two have a home in our living room as a splash of color on a dark book case. I have two more that need some TLC and then I may make cork boards out of them.


After church on Sunday I spent practically all day sanding paint off of my desk. The person who owned it before me applied about 4 layers of brown stain and at least that many coats of white paint, which means I spent all morning scrubbing 80grain sand paper by hand. I then followed up with my electric sander. And let's be honest it took all day. I am sure my neighbors loved hearing my sander roar all day, with short breaks for me to stop and yell at Eisley (she was digging a hole to China). I have decided I need to buy a year's supply of sand paper to keep myself busy (great gift idea folks! I use the sand paper for the Black and Decker Mouse and I love 120grit!)


Here is a glimpse of my progress... I can't give too much away until the final product!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Stories

I have always loved spending time with my grandparents. I feel like there is a special bond between a grandparent and grandchild that is hard to explain. Like our parents, grandparents love us unconditionally and support us in all decisions. They want what is best for us and encourage us to follow the right path in life. When a grandparent gives advice, a grandchild listens with a tentativeness that is not always there when a mom or dad speaks.

I have been blessed with two sets of wonderful grandparents. Whether it is AMAZING cooking even now that I am a vegetarian (thank you Grandma Lillian!), laughs, hugs, and unconditional holiday spirit (Nana you’re the best!), or lunch conversations and daily emails (that’s my Papa!), I know that each of my grandparents brings a special element to my life that cannot be replaced by anyone else.

Over the past couple of weeks I have been blessed with a new element to my relationship with one of my grandparents. My Papa has been sharing his “stories” with me. Tales of his cross-country adventure, very similar to mine. Mischievous college days. Friends from the past who he still talks to today.

I looked up some definitions of the word “story.” Phrases such as “to ornament with pictured scenes as from history” and a “legend, anecdote, record, history, or chronicle” popped up. I like these definitions because they show what Papa’s stories are: a picture of his past and a new look into not only his life, but mine as well.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Running in the Rain

As part of my 2012 goal to run a half marathon, I have decided to start my training off with preparing for a 10K race (6.2miles). A friend of mine is doing the Race for the Roses, a run on April 1 that supports Albertina Kerr which is a local organization that helps Oregon children, adults, and families who have mental and health challenges and developmental disabilities by empowering them to lead fuller, self-determined lives. It's a great cause, and it will be a great training exercise! I am hoping to look into more spring and summer races to keep my momentum going!



You may remember the Shamrock Run (the race I did last year with Ross and almost DIED). I am considering running the 8K again (it is in March), but it is notorious for being really rainy... and honestly I am already running in the rain almost every day for training. We will see!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Desk to Match

Now that my desk chair has been transformed from BLAH! to BEAUTIFUL! it is time to set my sights on a new project. (Now is where Ross will groan and say “REALLY?! He doesn’t understand my constant need to “do something.”) I have been going back and forth about whether or not I should refinish the corner desk that came with my pretty chair. It has the same white and green yucky paint as the chair, but it isn’t quite as hideous… almost but not quite.



So, I am asking for your opinion. What color? Eggplant purple? Mustard yellow? White-washed? Original wood (who knows what's under all that paint!) Or some other color entirely? It will not be paired with the chair anymore (since it has a home with my antique desk) so don't let that be a factor!

Let me know your thoughts!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Weekend Recap (two weekends ago)

Over the past couple of weekends we have been very good about getting out and enjoying everything Portland has to offer. On Friday the 27th we got to take Canary’s season tickets to see the Portland Trailblazers. We have amazing seats (only 8 rows back) and we were sitting around several of the Blazer’s girlfriends. (You could tell they were girlfriends because they were dressed like they were going out to a club and kept talking about how this player or that player was making a weird face or had a bad attitude in between their constant text messages.)



Blazers won! And streamers fell out of the sky!


And I was excited!


Last Saturday we bundled up and trekked up to Mount Hood with some friends to go snowshoeing. The snow was great (a base of about 100 inches) with a clear blue sky and visibility for miles. We all had a blast, especially Eisley. She was the fastest of the group, and she didn’t even have snowshoes on! Here are a few of the great shots Ross captured up on the mountain.







On the way home we stopped by a local produce stand that was based off of the Honor System, meaning, they had a sign with the prices listed and they expected you to leave the cash in a lock box. (Talk about trust!) The only “person” keeping us honest was the Manager on Duty (a cat). Don’t worry, we paid our fair share!



Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Chair

When Ross and I came out to Portland for a few days with Dad before the big move, we each bought a piece of furniture that would give us something to look forward to coming back to, and a starting point for our Portland home decor. Ross bought a giant, old red trunk (that we call his Pirate Chest) and I bought an old antique writing desk. While we LOVE both pieces, they have each presented their own problems.

For one thing, Ross' Pirate Chest is HUGE. In the store we were thinking it could be used as storage at the foot of our bed or a TV stand, but once we got it home we realized that it was too massive to serve as any of those purposes. It dwarfed anything else it was near. So we have moved it around over time, and finally are using it as a (very large) side table in between our couch and over-sized chair.

On the other hand, my desk was quite the opposite. As it is an antique and we got it from a second-hand emporium, the chair was missing. I thought it would be no problem finding a cute wooden chair to match. We searched every Pier One, Bed Bath & Beyond, TJ Maxx, and home store in Portland, but all of the chairs were too tall. Apparently writers back in the day didn't have thighs, because no matter what size chair we found, you couldn't slide under the desk without your legs being smashed up against the desk. Not comfortable. Or flattering to describe for that matter.

So at the end of last summer we went to a yard sale a few streets over and purchased a cute corner desk and chair for a whopping $10. Both the desk and chair had been painted white, and it looked as if a 5 year old had gone back in to put green paint on the accent trim. The paint was dirty and stained and the cushion on the chair was covered in a film of filth.

As it was all-wood, I was able to clean the desk with a LOT of bleach and Mr. Clean Magic Erasers (they really are magic), but the chair was immediately banned to the garage. I didn't know what was living in the fibers of the cloth and I didn't want those lurking creepy crawlies in my home. The desk we turned into a resting place for books, pictures, and Henry's butt as he looks out the windows.

Over the past few months I have slowly but surely given my chair a complete overhaul. Starting with sanding all the crooks and crannies of the wood. Then staining it a dark antique brown. I over-sanded some of the edges to give it a nice "I have lived through everything" feel.

Just yesterday I put the final touches of the clear satin finish and this morning I replaced the seat with new padding and a new cushion-cover made from dark green canvas.

Before:






After!!!









And the best part? The chair matches and FITS under my antique desk. Two for one deal my friends!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

If Furniture Could Tell a Story

I have been wanting a new piece of furniture for a while now. Our tiny house and non-existent amount of closet space does not pair well with my inability to get rid of clothes (yet still buy new ones) and Ross’ addiction to adidas shoes (in his defense, he gets 99% of them for free). Each of our closets is stuffed to the brim, mine in neat stacks while Ross’ explodes onto the bedroom floor. Every. Single. Morning. However, despite my constant organization and love of cubby holes and storage containers, we just don’t have enough room. In fact, we have a large utility rack in our second bedroom serving as clothing storage. Trust me, it’s not something I am proud of.

So, I have spent the last week scouring over CraigsList looking for that perfect piece to add to our home. Not too big (because we don’t have room), not too small (because it does need to actually hold some clothes), not too expensive yet made from real wood, preferably vintage yet not needing a lot of restoration or repairs. I love restoration projects but honestly I just wanted a quick fix.

After several days of getting my hopes up to find my favorite pieces had already been sold, missed yard sales (due to our snowshoeing adventure I still need to fill you in on), and lots of overpriced crappy furniture posts, I found the one. I happened to be on Craigslist at the exact moment the post was brought live, and immediately emailed the nice man and told him I wanted his dresser. I am sure he questioned my authenticity (and sanity) because I emailed so quickly, however he didn’t question it and gave me his address to go check it out. (Now is where I pause the story to say “NO! I did not go to a stranger’s house alone. Ross went with me. YES! I am aware of the CraigsList killer." Don’t worry I do some research before I set out on a random furniture-craving scavenger hunt.)

Anyway, Nice CraigsList Fellow (I think he is more of a fellow than a man because he had a European accent. And I want an excuse to excessively say “hello fellow” in a high-pitched British accent in my head) told us that when he bought the dresser 20 years ago in St. Louis the antique shop told him it was over 100 years old and that in the past couple of decades it had been salvaged and restored from an old crack house. Yes, crack house. Like the drug. Proof of his story lies in the little bit shaky frame, lack of drawer tracks, and cigarette burns and deep scratches and discoloration on the top… which ironically are all my favorite details of the piece (and the fact that every drawer has a key hole… but we don’t have the key.)

So if our new to us, old dresser could talk, it would tell of cross-country travels, a century of history, the consequences of making bad decisions, and a long life in the wrong hands. But now, it is safe and sound, and the only worries it has are kitten scratches and a wagging doggy tail.