Burned: Poor planning and tactical errors fueled a wildfire catastrophe | The Oregonian

I have an admittedly odd fascination of forest fires. Each spring and summer includes consistent discussion of the increase of fires in the PNW a la a retired firefighter for a father, an Eastern Oregon location near to my heart, and an inescapable notion that we can design a better solution. The Canyon Creek disaster is just one example of why a new take on this issue cannot come soon enough.  


When the Stewardship Coordinator is a brewer, artisan ale is a pillar of local identity and economy, and a historic preserve was once home to a hop farm, magical things happen. Friends of Buford Park and Mt. Pisgah teamed up with Agrarian Ales to produce Pisgalicious, a hop-heavy, delicious ale, perfect for summer. We loved supporting this collaboration and fundraiser at the first tasting July 24 at Agrarian. 

Is the Oregon Standoff Evidence of a Racial Double Standard? | Slate

Oregon is my home. I, thus, doubly appreciated Jamelle Bouie's nuanced analysis of the Malheur Refuge stand off. 

The Earthquake That Will Devastate the Pacific Northwest | The New Yorker

The research and piece that cased every resident of the Willamette Valley and Oregon Coast to seriously consider their emergency preparedness. Go bags and garage space used for supply trailers are more common then most might think in everyday conversation. Can design and systems thinking lend a hand in a wide spread converting of worry to proactive action? 

A Growing Movement To Spread Faith, Love — And Clean Laundry | NPR

Laundry Love, a non-profit, was started by a dear friend. It is an exemplary human-centered research and design initiative, and I am continually reminded by the vision of Laundry Love to design for what people need, what contributes and supports their humanity and place in society. 

NPR's write up. 

Market To Table à la Hipcooks Seattle

Our Seattle Sunday morning was, post coffee and lazy flips of newspapers, spent at Hipcooks Seattle, learning to make scrumptious recipes and, even better, eating our efforts around a community table.

I’m not an avid cook (chips and salsa is a legitimate meal in my mind) but when spending time with three of the grandest foodies I know, organizing a cooking class only seemed right. Hipcooks Seattle offers a Market to Table class in which the chef brings whatever looked amazing at the market to the studio and you learn how to prepare a range of ingredients and create a feast (and get all the recipes too!). As I am notorious for opening the ‘fridge to see what might combine with what to create dinner, this “whatever we find” approach appealed.

Squash flowers basted in a light tempura were first. Next came the homemade fettuccine and fava bean ragout (fava beans might just be one of the most high labor to low yield foods I have ever cooked with). Fresh Copper River Sockeye Salmon, sautéed spinach with walnuts and aioli, and seared heirloom tomatoes were the main course. And dessert included perfect summer berries over homemade ice cream with a balsamic glaze. All paired with local wines. 

Seattle Weekend

After the 4th in Nehelam, we ventured north to Seattle along the 101.

Very dear friends from Beirut had recently moved to Seattle. Ardent foodies and outdoor enthusiasts, a weekend with J&M is hard to beat. 

We took in iconic views of Seattle…


…ate a fair amount of ice cream, explored Pike’s Market, the Gates Foundation Interpretive Center, and spied the Space Needle. The city boasts many options for those who want to take it all in (Duck Boat Tours, chartered kayak and boat trips, whale watching, etc.) but we were content to kick back, cook, walk, and experience J&M’s version of Seattle.

One post-dinner exploration took us to the Streissguth Garden, an iconic landmark in the Lake Union/Capital Hill neighborhood we were staying in. The garden is a hillside, reclaimed from the brambles and ivy decades ago by Dan and Ann Streissguth and then gifted to the city not so long ago as a way of ensuring this gem will be around for a while, and not parceled off to developers. Dan and Ann, along with family and volunteers, care diligently for the hillside space that is home to PNW natives, hummingbirds, bees, and the like. We were fortunate to meet them both and hear a bit of their stories. He is a retired architect and she is one of researchers responsible for figuring out Fetal Alcohol Syndrome back in the day and continues to teach at UW. Both shared enthusiastically about the garden, their adventures, and wondered over our own interesting paths in life so far. A hidden gem indeed, one I’ll venture back to.


Manzanita 4th of July

To venture north on Hwy 101 to Nehelam and Manzanita for 4th of July celebrations has become a favorite of mine. My sister’s in-laws call this corner of Oregon home, and their generous hospitality has allowed me to take part in Independence Day celebrations a la small coastal town for a few summers now. This year had the added bonus of introducing Andrew to this US-specific holiday, and meeting new friends as well.

First, the {fast becoming} obligatory stop at Gino’s in Newport for fish ‘n’ chips:

And then on to Nehelam for s'mores, mellow mornings, and creek-side banter as well as Manzanita’s traditions of: Pancake Breakfast hosted at the local Fire Department to benefit the school district’s athletic fund; Main Street Parade; and fireworks on the beach.

One of the many beauties of Oregon’s north coast is the close proximity of many gorgeous locals. We ventured further north today to explore lighthouses, hidden beaches, and coffee shops.

29 Before 28 Review

Another year older… And another “Before” list to reflect on.  I won’t be taking on the “Before” project in full this coming year. Instead, I’m thinking a few well placed goals will be better suited for the year ahead and all its dynamic movement. If you haven’t pursued a project like this, I would suggest it.  There is something about setting goals and hopes, large and small, that I have so enjoyed over the past two years.  And as I consider the rave reviews from other friends who have taken on this sort of venture, I don’t think I’m the only one who has found the full experience formative and fun. So stay tuned, chances are a “31 Before 30” will find its way into existence after a while…

Goals Met…
#1: Take a cooking class at Tawlet
#4: Add to my tattoo
#6: Kayak with Monica
#7: Visit the Portland Art Museum
#10: Knock off at least two “bucket list” items (Traveling with Jamie and Landon to Istanbul in November sorted one, while my adventure in Alaska over the summer satisfied the other.)
#11: Donate my hair to Lock of Love…
#12: …and chop is all off.
#13: Moonlight Hike
#15: Take at least one Arabic class at Saifi (extra credit for taking two?)
#17: Read The Great Gatsby (Much enjoyed, and based on the bias of my imagination, am of the opinion that the casting for the latest film rendition is spot on.)
#22: Go to Baalbek.
#24: Officially become a client of Monica Lauritsen Photography.
#29: Voodoo doughnuts.

…and those that wouldn’t be.
#2: Visit the AUB Archeological Museum (…though this small cache of Lebanese/regional history will be explored pre-departure.)
#3: Surf Santa Cruz with Reina (We had the best of intentions but chilly weather made exploring the city and catching up much more enticing.)
#5: Learn to make pie crusts like my mum (I think in reality, subconsciously, my logic is that if I don’t learn this all important skill then she and my lovely brother will continue to spoil me when I’m home with delicious treats!)
#8: Complete the “Poverty” piece (More to come; this idea isn’t on the shelf yet.)
#9: Piano Lessons (I’ll keep working on this one, though likely not in a particularly formal manner.)
#14: Volunteer in Lebanon
#16: Travel to Greece (Someday…)
#18: Hike the South Sister (Sometimes time is the greatest hinderance…)
#19: Take on and complete at least two photography projects (A few good ideas, simply a lack of follow through.)
#20: Blue Note for a jazz show (Again, another pre-departure endeavor.)
#21: Explore Byblos (And another.)
#23: Read 100 books (But I’m feeling pretty good about the 50 I completed.)
#25: Attend at least one BSP Photo workshop.
#26: Snowboard with Travis during Winter Hols (One would need snow to make this possible…)
#27: Hike Mt. Hermon (I would still love to do this but I’m not certain that current political dynamics will allow it.)
#28: Portland Chello Project concernt (So sad to have missed their shows over the summer! But this will happen at some point.)

13 for 29: not the best completion rate but sometimes it’s more about the process then the end result…

Backroad Love

I love backroads. Give me the old highways that cut through Oregon’s smaller towns and hamlets, countryside and marshland over the bleakness of the 5 any day, any season. I’m particularly fond of the late summer iteration when hay bales dot the horizon and the other sensory experiences are at their peak. Yesterday found me driving a particular favorite stretch - Hwy 99S from Corvallis to Eugene; scent of oak, mint, and fresh hay, dust devils in full swing on newly cleared fields, and the play of light as the day came to an end. Love.


Off To The Races

A new fascination was off and running when I landed in Portland: horse races. As in Dan Patch, Secretariat, jockeys, sires and dams, and Man O War. Portland Meadows had been recently re-branded and people were excited. Vintage ads strategically placed throughout the metro area sparked curiosity in some and conjured a bygone era (or perhaps just non-PNW location) of sun hats, mint juleps, seersucker suits, and saddle shoes for others. (Beautifully done Official Mfg. Co.! For a great read, check out their write up of the strategy/design process.)

Monica and I decided to place a few bets one afternoon, if for no other reason then to say we had and people watch. Hipsters and socialites mingled with horse owners and trainers, track mud fresh in their treads, sporting ironically large cowboy hats and belt buckles.  Though not quite the quintessential scene of the Kentucky Derby, there was something about a top hat in tails playing taps and horse/jockey pairs in their bright silks being fitted into race chutes that evoked a bit of wonder and whimsy in the crowd.

For another perspective, you can read the Oregonian’s inaugural write up here.

Portland Summer

Having made the Rose City home for three years, I am admittedly bias toward the idea that this small city (roughly half a million) indeed has a magical quality. Sure, it’s quirky and not without issue, but also jam packed with possibilities, fun, and a foodie/outdoor scene that leaves most with a watering mouth and penitent to become the next Bear Grylls.  It is amazing how much one can find to amuse herself, both the tried and true, and the new, especially during the bewitching months of summer when the days lengthen and temperatures allow for river floats while the sun shines and campfires and sweaters once it sets.  A few of my favorites….



Disc Golf and Deschutes at Pier Park; new to me this year, introduced by the lovely Jed and Alyssa…

The Alberta Last Thursday… I can fully empathize with the Alberta residents’ request that the monthly street fair be better regulated (parking is mayhem and permits are not required; the outcome can be less then ideal for the neighborhood) but am hopeful that a good solution can be found to keep this quirky event part of the Portland neighborhood scene.  My personal favorite was bartering a 5,000LL note for a one of a kind poem, created on the spot.


Salt & Straw… Oh.my.goodness. I’m hooked. There are two main locations, one in NW, one in NE, and a cart on SE Division.  The ice cream is heavenly and the owner takes personal pride in concocting perfect flavor pairings. Loved the salted caramel.

Slow crawls through favorite neighborhoods… Such as the NE 26th and Burnside area.  At one end is Pambiche, amazing Cuban food that I spent way too much money on while in grad school, and at the other is Crema, Ken’s Artisan Pizza, and small, local shops such as Artemisa, an atrium builder, or anyone who appreciates pretty things, haven. In between are numerous eateries, the Coca-Cola plant, Bakery Bar (Love this place! Especially when they stayed open at all hours during the World Cup to host games. Their Apple-Bacon scone is perfection.), a mix of traditional Foursquare-style houses and new eco-friendly designs, and the iconic Laurelhurst Theater.


I took an afternoon to finally explore the Portland Art Museum as well. Not too shabby and a nice way to escape the heat.


Gatsby, ink, and Roman ruins (29B28 Update)

A 29 item list, I’m finding out, can be a bit daunting.  I’m looking forward to what I’ve penned as goals for this year, but progress is incremental.  An update…

Done and done.

13/ Moonlight Hike

15/ Take at least one Arabic class at Saifi (I completed two)

22/ Visit Baalbek

24/ Officially become a client of Monica Lauritsen Photography.  {I’m lucky to have such a talented friend! even luckier to now own a few of her pieces! Check out her work at: monicalauritsen.com}

In process:

4/ Add to my tattoo: in keeping with ink wisdom, several ideas are now posted the the ‘fridge. If I still love ‘em in a few months time, I’ll be adding ink over the summer.

10/ Traveling with Jamie and Landon last fall got me half way on this one (Bucket List: to travel internationally with each of my siblings is a must). Now to sort the other half…

17/ I suppose at least having a copy of The Great Gatsby has me a little closer to this goal.

19/ The photo projects are sorted! Stay tuned for more details and initial shots.

And those that wouldn’t be…

So far only one goal slots into this category… Oregon had no snow when I was home at Christmas so #26 (to snowboard with Travis, which I haven’t done in far too long) has gone the way of the bin, …unless Hood has a good glacier pack this summer, which might mean resuscitation could be in order…