Thursday, January 12, 2017

Ski Tabor Rising

Ski Tabor appears magically, sometimes when you least expect it. A sudden snowfall, and the streets Mt. Tabor come alive with children, adults and canines playing in the snow.

Cross Country Skiers Enjoying the Pow

Skis Are A Great Way to Get Around


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Katy Hadad and the Joyful Spirit of Tati & Me

Clothing for spirited girls
Photo courtesy Katy Hadad
In her clothing line tati & me, Katy Hadad designs and creates beautiful and joyful clothing for the spirited girl. The dresses of tati & me immediately catch your eye, and I couldn't help but smile at first glance. Seeing the dresses hanging in Katy's studio brought back the feeling of joy I had as a girl wearing a special dress for a special event. I could easily imaging a girl twirling to show off her new dress. These dresses are not just brilliantly colorful, but also masterfully sewn and amazingly designed. I am not surprised. Each dress reflects the spirit of the woman I met.

Joyful Energy and Design

From the moment Katy answered the door and invited me up to her studio, I felt her warmth and joy. She was bubbling over with it. Katy is obviously passionate about the clothing she designs and the space where she works. It's as if her spirit, the dresses, and the space are inextricably intertwined, all moving together in one joyful force of energy to share and empower that passion and joy of life with the girls who wear her clothes. I felt it too.

Katy says tati & me started in her kitchen about seven years ago. One day she hauled out her old sewing machine and made her daughter a skirt. Her daughter loved it and twirled around as she wore it. Soon, people starting asking about the skirt, and Katy was sewing and designing in her garage.

Clothing for spirited girls
Photo source: Katy Hadad; tati & me

Katy's talent and passion for design go back many years. Not surprisingly, she attended the Portland Art Institute and was an adjunct instructor there for 10 years. Additionally, Katy tells me how her grandmother was a talented seamstress and would sew Katy dresses. The two of them would pick out a piece of fabric, and Katy's grandmother would then sew up a dress with it. Katy's eyes lit up even further as she told this story. I sensed that these moments with her grandmother were joyous times and made a large impact on who Katy is and what she does.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Peacock Lane 2016 - A Portland Tradition

Peacock Lane
Photos by Aya

The Joy of Peacock Lane

It's not the holiday season for me without a visit to Peacock Lane. I think a lot of other Portlanders feel the same. My favorite time to visit the Peacock Lane holiday light festival is on one of the car-free nights. It just seems more festive without cars and exhaust. People own the street. Christmas Carolers wander in and out of the crowds of people. You can even buy hot cocoa.

Peacock Lane
Photos by Aya

I was happy to see the car-free night return this year. I went out there Saturday evening, and it was the first time I'd seen the street also adorned with snow for the holiday lights! The snow and cold evening added to the spirit of the street. The street was busy and full of an air of excitement from the little kids and a sense of enjoyment and peace from the adults. It just felt like Christmas.

Peacock Lane
Photos by Aya

Peacock Lane has been a Portland tradition it seems since 1929 - that's pretty amazing. It was so much fun sharing this tradition with the Japanese student who has been living with me (and who also took the pictures).

Peacock Lane
Photos by Aya

She says there's nothing quite like this in Japan. While they celebrate Christmas, she reports, it's a bit more subdued. She fell in love with all the Christmas lights in the neighborhood, so I knew she couldn't miss Peacock Lane. It didn't disappoint.

Peacock Lane
Photos by Aya

Nestled just one block east of Cesar Chavez, between SE Stark and SE Belmont, Peacock Lane is also accessible by a few bus lines. We took the 15 down from Mt. Tabor, and it was the perfect way to get there. Just hop off the bus and enter into the amazement of Peacock Lane. I can't wait for next year.

Peacock Lane
Photos by Aya

Friday, December 9, 2016

Ugly Mug Coffeehouse: Quintessential Portland Coffee Shop

Photo Source: Ugly Mug Coffeehouse
The Ugly Mug Coffeehouse is a Sellwood classic. In fact, it's a Southeast Portland classic. Ugly Mug is one of those coffee houses where you just know you're in Portland. It's the atmosphere. It's the great coffee. It's the friendly service. But mostly, it's the feeling you get while you're there - like you're in the heart of what you always imagined Portland would be and is.

Ugly Mugly Spirit

Ugly Mug was actually the first coffee house I visited when I moved to Portland over 9 years ago. I'd only been here a few weeks, and I met a friend there. I remember thinking "coffee houses like these are why I moved here." It was a warm summer evening, and dogs were sitting outside with their people. Patrons were inside reading and chatting. And boy the place had character. Plus, Ugly Mug sits in a very cool, old historic neighborhood. Coffee houses like this were very hard to find in my old stomping grounds in California.

Cole and Cheryl Akeman purchased Ugly Mug a few years ago, but the ethos is the same as when I visited the coffee house over the years. In fact, I never really noticed it changed hands until someone told me recently. Cole tells me they plan to keep it that way. Cole believes the "Old Portland vibe," as he calls it, makes the place special and sets it apart from many other coffee houses in the area. I tend to agree. Ugly Mug is not pretentious or trendy in its decor. Yet, it serves some of the finest coffee in town and is truly a place where you want to spend some time.

Photo Source: Ugly Mug Coffeehouse

The Art of Coffee

Cole Akeman is not new to coffee. Cole explains he's always been a foodie and watched a lot of food t.v. while he was a stay-at-home-dad. But his history with coffee goes back even further. He was working in the coffee industry over 20 years ago for a boutique coffee company as a coffee roaster. He eventually got involved with the Northwest Roasters Group and got to know local and international coffee people. Cole even worked as a barista for a Starbucks while he lived in Southern California.

Cole also took coffee roasting home. At one point, he had his own little table top coffee roaster at home and enjoyed making his own roasts and blends. Cole points out that it only takes about 8 minutes to roast coffee. "It's a bit like popcorn," he says. Apparently, you just need the right moisture content for the beans to swell and crack and roast. But, roasting equipment is very expensive, so it's very difficult to roast at home on any kind of scale other than for personal use.

Before Ugly Mug

Before owning and operating the Ugly Mug, Cole and Cheryl owned a food cart in one of the food cart lots downtown. They popped up all kinds of Kettle Corn. After owning and operating the cart a few years, Cole and Cheryl decided to sell it and move on to something else. A few years ago, they saw an ad that Ugly Mug was for sale, and they bought it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Seek and Swoon: Eco Throws That Tell A Story

Seek and Swoon
Photo Source: Seek and Swoon; Jala Smith-Huys
I think Jala Smith-Huys is a creative genius. She's got an eye for design, but also a head for business. Jala has created a business that merges her love for travel, her belief in sustainability, her mastery of social media and her talent for design. Jala Smith-Huys is the incredible person behind the eco-blankets of Seek and Swoon.

Story Telling Throws

Seek and Swoon blankets are not your ordinary throws. Each throw tells a story through its design and feel. Most of Seek and Swoon's uniquely designed throws reflect Jala's impressions and sense of joy from her travels. For example, Envie evokes the sense of being in Paris. Slip under the blanket, and imagine you're looking out at the Eiffel Tower and walking along the Champs d'Elysee. In fact, each blanket comes packaged with its own story.

Natural Design

You can also feel good about your Seek and Swoon blanket. All of the blankets are made in the USA by a second generation, family-owned and operated knitting mill. Jala contacted close to 100 knitting mills in the U.S. to find just the right one that shared her values and vision. Jala sources yarn made from re-purposed, textile manufacturing scraps. The yarn is not bleached. The colors are the original colors. From start to finish, Jala has designed a manufacturing process that conserves resources and supports the US knitting industry.

Jala has worked in design all of her professional life, and her expertise is in graphic design and social media. She spent nine years as creative director for New Seasons when it first opened. In fact, she was one of the original 12 employees. After getting married, Jala went out on her own as a freelance graphic designer, working mostly with her network in the food industry. She adeptly saw the boom of social media coming, and was an early adopter of Twitter. Soon, she found herself developing social media strategies for some of the bigger food brands in the Pacific Northwest.

Seek and Swoon
Photo source: Seek and Swoon; Jala Smith-Huys

Ingenious Dreamer

Jala almost sheepishly admits to being what she calls a serial entrepreneur. Jala says she's always dreaming up new businesses to launch, but most ideas lay dormant. I rather think that's a positive trait. I think it shows her ingenuity in action, but also the smarts to know when an idea is ripe for the market. Jala explains she's always been interested in making products instead of providing a service. She's always looking for a way to find that balance in her life.

In 2015, Jala and her husband decided to do something different. They packed up their two young boys and took a traveling sabbatical. Over the course of 60 days, they traveled through four countries in Europe and visited seven cities. Staying in Air BNB's and multiple days in one spot, Jala and her family got a glimpse of what life is like somewhere else. They also caught the travel bug.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Eli Eichenauer - Revitalizing Lives Through Connection and Community (Updated)

I met Eli Eichenauer a little over 9 years ago, not long after I moved into my house. He and his wife moved in next door several weeks later. It's incredible how life can connect you randomly with people who are doing such amazing things for the community and its health. Eli Eichenauer is an advanced Rolfer and the Executive Director of the nonprofit Revive Community Commons. His Rolfing practice and Revive are reflections of each other that are also connected together at a common core. Both vocations aim to heal mind and body by revitalizing the connections that bind us together.

Holistic Healing

Eli's Rolfing practice, Rolfing PDX, is an holistic healing practice. Eli explains that Rolfing is hands-on work that focuses on the body's connective tissue. From what I understand, Rolfing starts with a belief that the body is only as free from tension and as healthy as what connects it together. A Rolfing practitioner examines how the body functions and aligns with gravity, and works to realign and re-energize the body. Eli showed me a Tensegrity Model to demonstrate the symmetry between our connective tissue and structure. Tension in one area can affect the functionality and form of other areas of the body.

Eli's wants to bring about long lasting change in the body, so you will move more efficiently and without pain. But, he emphasizes this change can happen with a gentle practice. In addition to completing advanced training in Rolfing, Eli also is a licensed massage therapist and is trained in craniosacral therapy. He blends these practices to help his clients open up their bodies and to move more freely without tension and pain.

The Power of Community

Eli also believes we live better and more fulfilling lives when we are connected through community. Eli says he started his Rolfing practice in Portland at a wellness center in SE Portland. He enjoyed having his practice there, connected to other holistic practitioners in an integrated health environment. Around the time of the Great Recession, Eli decided to give more back to the community and the professionals in it. He helped found a group of professionals, Community Inspired Professionals, to create new and meaningful relationships among like-minded professionals. This group was more than a business leads group, but also a group dedicated to giving back to the community together through volunteer work and other support.

This group of professionals ultimately led Eli to TaborSpace. If you haven't been there, TaborSpace is the transformation of the Mt. Tabor Presbyterian Church into an amazing community and gathering place. One of the members of the group was at TaborSpace from the beginning. The professional group met there, and Eli bonded with the community and the space. He appreciated the sense of the sacred and the stillness that was part of the space open to the community. He connected with the spirit and energy moving through the people who gathered there. Eli moved his practice to TaborSpace in 2013, where his practice remains.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Discover Portland's Neighborhood Greenways

Neighborhood Greenways
Neighborhood Greenway at Ladd's Circle

Follow the Sharrows

Portland's Neighborhood Greenways create an excellent bicycling network through our neighborhoods. They meander mostly down quiet, neighborhood streets, where you can leisurely ride to your next destination. They also offer a unique opportunity to get to know our residential neighborhoods as you ride down the streets where people live and play. You really feel like you're in the neighborhood, sensing its feel and personality.

In fact, I explored Portland on bike using these Neighborhood Greenways when I first moved here. I didn't know what they were called at the time, but I quickly fell in love with the bicycle route signage that helped me navigate. I thought I had arrived in bicycling Nirvana or Biketopia. But mostly, I enjoyed getting to know Portland and how each neighborhood moved into the next, but were each still connected to the whole city.

Now, the City of Portland has also added special arrow markings - called sharrows - along the bike routes to help users navigate through the routes. The Neighborhood Greenways do twist and turn through the neighborhoods because they stick to mostly quiet, lesser traveled streets.  I usually take a look at a bike route map before I head out, so I have a general idea of where I'm going and if I need to find a good route off a Greenway to get to a commercial area, such as SE Hawthorne or NE Alberta. Fortunately, the signage along the routes is excellent.

I particularly like that the Neighborhood Greenways wind through the city neighborhood streets. I enjoy riding with fewer cars, but also enjoy exploring parts of the city I wouldn't discover otherwise. Sometimes I just head out and follow the sharrows to see where they take me. But I also use these routes to get from here to there for everyday tasks or for getting to work. It somehow just makes the errand or the commute more enjoyable to travel through a cozy neighborhood than on a busy thoroughfare. And who knows what I might discover along the way?