Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Life, As of Late

Apa IniApa Ini Gallery EntranceFoodParents YardSpringtime walksNeighborhood WalkFarfmer's Market FlowersGardenHome and HotdogsFor the kiddiesPoetry Box & Air plantNeighborhoodYard

Apparently we like low-key Memorial Day weekends. Our holiday weekend was spent pretty much the same as last year's - staying close to home, going for walks in the neighborhood, brunch with friends, dinner with family and enjoying all the beautiful spring scenery. 

It's been extremely cold and especially rainy the last couple of weeks, prompting us to roast a chicken and make soup. Some days have felt more like January than May, but the sun has come out just long enough for us to do a major bamboo cleanup, enjoy the farmer's market and slow down a bit to smell the flowers. Life, as of late isn't too exciting, we're liking the slower pace and taking care of long neglected chores (piles and piles of paperwork to be filed be gone!) We're dealing with the loss of missing out on a piece of furniture we've been hunting for awhile now, but we're reminding ourselves the only "things" we should be concerned with are the people in our lives. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Holy Bananas, It's Our 5 Year Anniversary!

5 years ago today we started this blog! Life has changed a lot in the last 5 years and so has this blog. We originally started it as a place to document our travels through Asia and continues to be a place for us to document our travels, daily adventures and life in general. Thank you all for joining us, we're already looking forward to the next 5 years. May the adventure continue!

Banana Plant

We planted this banana plant to remind of us of Asia a year after our trip, and it has been amazing to see it transform into something different each year.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Chaba Thai Mother's Day Dinner

I love my family. They know we haven't found any good Thai restaurants in Portland and attempted to rectify that on Mother's Day. "Bring your camera," said my mom.

Corn FrittersSquid SaladChicken LaarbCrispy Duck CurryStir Fry VeggiesPad Thai NoodlesStir Fry with Crispy Wheat NoodlesSeafood Special

First of all, why can't anyone make a decent plate of pad thai noodles? Chaba Thai's was underwhelming to say the least, over sauced, noodles too gummy and no flavor other than the dark "gravy". Also why is it that when you say, no meat or tofu, just the noodles, they toss in vegetables? I want to taste the noodles and noodles only.

Our Mother's Day dinner was fine enough, but nothing that made us say we'll be back. The first three pictures are our appetizers - corn fritters, squid salad and chicken laarb; all three were our favorite dishes, but nothing extraordinary. The crispy duck curry was flavorful and great for the rainy Sunday evening. The egg noodles with pork had no flavor and could have been much spicier. The stirfry vegetables was the dish my mom & I enjoyed the most, and I half-heartedly let her take the rest for lunch. The seafood dish was heavy and again, lacked the layered flavors Thai food really should have. It was a nice meal, but we're still disappointed in the Asian food in Portland. 

5810 NE Sandy Boulevard
Portland, Oregon

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Life, As of Late

Lace HydrangeaHibiscus & Bachelor ButtonsLillies & IrisesEvening LightReds & PurplesRhodedendronsPink Bloom and Outdoor SeatingNeighborhoodMike

April showers brings May flowers! Long after the cherry blossoms are gone, does the Pacific NW flower show really begin. We had unseasonably warm/sunny weather for two weeks and then the cold marine layer returned and we're back to typical 60s, gray and misty rain. The extra long days makes this crazy weather tolerable, especially when everything on the ground is so pretty. We've been enjoying extra walks in the evening, with the amazing evening light, and Mike even perfected his stretching by walking. Hope everyone is enjoying spring as mush as we are. There's only more and more light to come for the next 5 weeks! Woohoo!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Pilsner Room: Happy Hour with a View

I have lived in Portland all my life and this spring has been the warmest, sunniest and best spring ever. Record high temperatures, sunny blue cloudless skies and increasing daylight each day. It's been glorious. After a long week of work and aching to get outside, I made plans to meet a friend for happy hour at the Pilsner Room, which is ideally situated on the Willamette River at Riverplace Marina. Part of the McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurants, the Pilsner Room's resident brewer is Full Sail Brewery with many specialty beers specifically brewed for the riverside restaurant.

KayakersFamily of GeeseWaterfront ParkWillamette River

Unfortunately all the outside tables were full, so we had to enjoy the view from inside the bar area, which wasn't bad at all.

Dining with a View

The happy hour food menu is extensive and filled with signature Pacific NW seafood bar items, as well as typical bar food. We may have ordered a bit too much food

BruschettaFish TacosSweet Potato FriesCheeseburgerSpinach Dip and Pita

The marina was buzzing with people enjoying the warm weather and was a great place to let the weekend begin!

The Pilsner Room, Full Sail Brewery at Riverplace/Harborside Restaurant
0309 SW Montgomery
Portland, Oregon 97201
Happy Hour: 3PM - 6PM and 9PM to Close Daily

Friday, May 10, 2013

Building a Stone Patio

Last winter I was determined to get rid of the hideous/useless grass patch in our backyard, and vowed to have a new hardscaped patio before summer. Starting in February when the weather warmed up, the digging began.

Digging up grass patch

But before we get into the details, let's go down memory lane. Living outdoors is really important to us, so each year we document our lovely yard and I was really amazed at the number of photos we have taken over the years. I guess we just want to record all our hard work, because let's be honest maintaining a yard in Portland is a constant chore.

Back in 2007 our yard was nice and neat, look at how tiny all the plants are, including the bamboo! I was really shocked by how square and maintained the grass patch is, because that won't be the case in a few years.

Well manicured yard

Fast forward a few summers and the yard is looking a bit run down, but the plants are filling in nicely.

End of Summer Yard

Winter that year.

Snowy Yard

Early spring the next year, the grass patch is still nicely contained. You can see how empty it looks when the perennials haven't come back yet, as well as a shot of me and my bike.


Summer that year, the plants have filled in nicely and we are fully enjoying the yard every morning.You can't see it, but there's a reason why the table and chairs aren't in the grass - it's uneven.

Backyard Cafe

The following spring, the perennials are finally situated (so I thought) and you can see the beginning of the grass patch morphing. It only gets worse from here.


Only a few months later, the grass patch has completely lost its shape and is beginning to sag in the middle, with strange divots in parts, and clover is slowing creeping in. Thankfully the summer flowers still encouraged us to enjoy the space.

Lush Yard

Here is a better view of the ugly grass patch. We begin to notice during BBQs no one stands in the grass. People kind of walk around it.

Grass getting out of control

Fed up, we decide to simply put mulch over the whole grass patch, which seemed to only give it nutrients, because within a year it came back fast and furious.

Evening Cocktails

When we finally had a plan in place, we thought we would simply turn the grass over and let it decompose onto itself. However, we quickly learned sod was laid and we would have to pull it all up. Sod is heavy and the city will not dispose of it. So there was that conundrum. Most of it went into our compost bin and used to rebuild the sloping berm. After digging up all the sod we covered the dug out patch to prevent the neighborhood cats from turning it into a large kitty litter box, where it stayed like this for a month.

Grass dug up

After we got back from vacation, panic started to set in as the weather became unseasonably warm and all the perennials started to fill in. So on the warmest spring day on record, we set out to bang out the patio in one weekend. After consulting numerous Youtube videos and calculating gravel/sand amounts needed, we secured a workhorse of a truck and started bright and early Saturday morning.

We had dug the patch too deep and spent a good portion of our first morning re-filling the patch with the dirt we took out. This turned out to be the most physically demanding part, other than the initial digging out of the sod. We laid a 10-foot 2x4 across the patch to measure the depth and ensure it was 7 inches at the drain end and 6 at the other end.  

Digging the out the space

Next we used garden stompers to pound the dirt down. Those stompers made for a great arm workout. After the dirt was fairly level and tamped down, we laid weed guard.

Weed Guard

Next we laid down paving gravel and continually measured to make sure we had laid an even 3 inches down before stomping again with the garden stompers.

Ensuring it is level

Once the gravel was laid, we covered it and stacked all the pavers for tomrrow. Then we called it a day. It was way pass dinner time, it was Quattro De Mayo and we had plans to see Los Estupidos play that night.


The next morning, still sore from the day and night before, we got up early and prepared to lay the sand. We used 1-inch plumbing tubes to ensure we laid an even 1-inch layer of sand before the pavers were placed.

Laying Sand

Mike used to lay tile for a living, so we used a couple of his techniques to ensure the edge was straight, that the gaps between the pavers were even, and to prevent the whole patio from bowing in a curve. After all the pavers were laid in and straight, we nailed in edging all around to make sure nothing shifted. 

Patio Pavers and Edgingl

Now came the fun part, we scoop sand onto the pavers and slowly swept it into the gaps between each paver. Then we sprayed down the patio, let it dry, then swept more sand over. Last, we filled the gap, created by the edging between the patio and the flower beds, with soil.

Sweeping Sand

We then move large established plants into their new spacious spots before we situated the patio furniture we purchased last year at 75% off. This patio looks inviting from our kitchen window and we can't wait for all the plants to fill in. That night we were able to enjoy our handy work with Sunday dinner outside. We are ready for the warmer weather and now have a proper outdoor space to enjoy it. Summers not even here yet!

Conversation Seating

There are many people/places we need to thank for making this possible.

1.  Han's 1980s Ford F250 - what a worn-in-ride and boy can this beast haul. 
2.  Northwest Compost Products - easy and affordable bulk landscaping materials. Those guys who ran the folklifts looked like they had a lot of fun with those machines.
3. Lowe's - due to advance internet pricing and browsing, only 1 trip was needed to get everything from the weed guard to the edging and pavers. Bonus was all the materials (heavy pavers) was forklifted directly into the truck. No heavy lifting on our part.
4. Portland Tool Library! Big ups for this amazing City of Portland non-profit resource center. Without them we don't know if we could have done this. We used their garden stompers, the largest gravel rake I have ever seen and an awesome tool called a concrete hoe! The right tool for the right job and the Tool Library really allowed us to do this patio correctly without the cost of purchasing expensive tools for just this use.
5. Cedo's Falafel and Christopher's Grill for nourishment when we simply couldn't afford to stop and make something.

I can't tell you how much we love this new patio. The yard finally looks nice and tidy, although I'm not sure I like the christmas cactus there, that thing has gotten huge over the years.

New Yard