Highlight Local: Manaia Coffee House and Island Grill

This weekend, we ventured into Hillsboro to check out the local Farmer’s market.  We adore PSU’s market, but we wanted to get a feel for the local flavor and meet the vendors. It was a broiling hot day by Hillsboro in May standards – 85 degrees and sunny.  So, almost as soon as we got there, we wanted to take a break to get Ethan out of the sun, and found our new favorite local brewhouse, Manaia Coffeehouse and Island Grill

Mainaia Coffee House

The space is beautifully designed to be both spacious and welcoming.  It’s designed with wood and brick, with a variety of seating options from chairs to bar stools to a couch in the back. 

Manaia Interior

They brew locally roasted Longbottom Coffee, and have a wide variety of fancy sweet drinks as well as the more traditional espresso based beverages. 

Manaia Menu

They also offer a small but thoughtful food menu that reflects the Samoan flair of the cafe, and includes options for all diets, from vegan to paleo.  They use pastured, GMO-free chicken which is a really delightful touch.

Manaia menu

I love their use of color and pops of personality throughout the space. They have a wall that highlights local artists, as well as a kids corner. Now that I have one, I think every coffeeshop would benefit from having a kids corner!

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kids corner

Their coffee is really quite tasty, and it’s such a warm, lovely place that I’d rather come here and spend a morning than go to any of the more high-brow coffee houses in Portland proper.  The locals seem to agree, as we went in a few times during the day and it was always crowded with people from all walks of life, from toddlers drawing on the chalk board to seniors chatting leisurely over their cuppa.

Definitely highly recommended if you’re in Hillsboro!

When the babe’s away…

The dog does play.

Chewy in Ethan's bed

Then and Now

It’s amazing how much can change over the course of a few months.

Here’s the garlic then…

garlic then

Garlic now.

garlic now

Chickens then…

Chickens then

chickens then 2
Chickens now.

Chickens now

Chicken brooder…


Chicken coop!


Fruit trees while I was pregnant…

fruit trees

Fruit trees now that he’s out!

blossoming tree

And of course, baby then…

Ethan then

And Ethan now!

Ethan smiling

What a great smile, am I right?

Also, just a few shots of our gorgeous blooming flowers…

wisteria blooming


Amazing Sunday night dinner on the porch, with a little vino.

salad for dinner

Happy Monday!

Don’t worry…

Bee Happy!


We have bees now!  So exciting. They are actually loner bees from a man named Bee (true story!) and they’re busy buzzing and pollinating our fruit trees.  They are such fun to watch!  Here are some fun bee facts:

Bees are the only insects that eat food produced by man.

Honey bees have 170 oderant receptors, compared with only 62 in fruit flies and 79 in mosquitoes. Their sense of smell is so precise that it can differentiate between hundreds of different floral varieties and tell whether a flower carried pollen or nectar from many feet away.

A toxin in bee venom called meltier may prevent HIV.

During chillier seasons, worker bees can live for nine months. But in summer, they rarely last longer than six weeks – they literally work themselves to death.

To make one pound of honey, the bees in the colony must visit 2 million flowers, fly over 55,000 miles and will be the the lifetime work of approximately 768 bees.

Honey is the only food that includes all substances necessary to sustain life, including water.

Happy Wednesday!

Life is Sweet

E and me sleeping

Have a great weekend, friends.

Four Baby Sleep Essentials*

*for my baby. Your baby might hate them.  


Well, it’s hard to believe my little baby is a month old.  He’s also not so little. Need proof?  Here he is at 2 days old…

Ethan at 2 days old

And here he is two days ago.

Ethan at 3.5 weeks

He’s grown by a quarter at least!

Anyway, all in all, he’s a great kid. He’s very adaptable, easy going, and smily, even at one month. However, he is still a one month old, and sleep doesn’t always come easy to him.  Obviously, I want to help him sleep as much as I can, but my arms can only bounce a 9.5 lb baby for so long before the burn is just unbearable.  Having Anthony and my mother-in-law around helps enormously, but we all use these different tools to help him catch up on some zzzz’s.

Happiest Baby on the Block

The book The Happiest Baby on the Block is truly a life saver. The 5 S’s are magical in how effective they are 95% of the time (the other 5%, I’m pretty sure he has genuine gas).  The techniques not only help Ethan, but they help me feel like a confident and competent mom, which is priceless.  One note: I first started the book while pregnant, and put it down in disgust.  “Why is this man, a famous pediatrician, writing like I’m a 5 year old reader? It is so condescending.” Well, after Ethan was born, I re-opened it, and got it.  It wasn’t condescending. It’s written for moms and dads who haven’t slept in weeks and have lost their mental faculties.  It’s awesome.

Halo sleep sack

The Halo Sleep Sack is another essential for us.  We tried using baby blankets to swaddle, as well as three brands of of pre-made versions that were gifted to us, and the Halo is by far our favorite (to the point that we bought an extra!) It’s the only one that really keeps his arms in. However, my sister’s baby (not a baby anymore!) was a devoted Miracle Blanket baby, so your mileage may vary.  I’d recommend trying a few and seeing how it works for you. The most important thing we’ve learned is that for them to work, they have to be tight. Like, super tight. If he can get their arms out, he hits himself in the face and wakes himself up. True story. 

Cloud b Sleep Sheep

The Cloud b Sleep Sheep is such an essential that we’re about to buy another one for the car, just in case. We’ve been trying to be fairly minimalistic with baby purchases, but this guy – WOW.  He makes 4 sounds, and the ocean sound keeps E asleep at night. White noise is so helpful to keeping him asleep, as apparently in the womb, it was loud and white noisy all the time.  The only thing I’d change is to have a white noise machine that has the option to stay on all night, not just for 45 minutes, as when he wakes himself up in the middle of the night, it’s silent and he cries. Sad face.

Solly baby wrap

Solly baby wrap. Oh my goodness, how I love this wrap.  It’s soft, light weight, and gets him to conk out when nothing else will.  I also love that they’re made in the US and the company is owned by mama extraordinare Elle Rowley. However, wraps are yet another personal preference thing – there are so many ways to “wear” your baby, and the Solly is just one of many fabulous choices.

These are tools that have been working for us, though of course there is no guarantee that they will continue to do so – the joys of parenthood! Would love to hear what has worked for you, as well!

Welcome Home, Little Gnome – Ethan Anthony’s birth story

Amazing how time has flown. I wrote this 8 days after Ethan was born, but he’s turning a month old on Thursday – I was waiting for a time to put the photos in, and apparently that is 20 days :-). Since I know family is reading this, I have tried to make it as ungraphic as possible. However, if you’re not into reading about dilation or cervixes, I’d recommend skipping this post. Also, of course, this is just my experience, and is not in any way encouraging anyone else to make the choices I did.

It’s hard to imagine life before Ethan arrived.  Even though he’s only 8 days old, I truly can’t remember life without him.  These past weeks have been amazing, challenging, and delightful.  Of course, sleep is now at a massive premium and I can’t imagine how anyone goes through the birth of a child without family support (I’ve had my mom here until last Sunday, and my dad, sister, brother-in-law and niece all came for the first few days, which was completely incredible).  However, before the actual story of his birth disappears, I wanted to write it down, not only for my memory books, but because his birth was a joyous, vibrant, playful and fun experience.


When I was pregnant, I read so many birth stories, and so many of them were horror, or at least, very dramatic experiences.  I had no idea how fun birth could be.  I also heard so many horrible things about epidurals, hence my intense desire to avoid one. However, the epidural gave me the ability to be present in a way I could not otherwise have had, and gave me the birth of my dreams.  Of course, parts of it were completely unexpected, but what would birth be without surprises!

My labor started Tuesday night, March 31st, in a totally textbook fashion.  We were at home, and I had been having mild cramps all day. I was 5 days overdue and starting to feel a wee bit desperate.  So, I was absolutely thrilled when clear contractions started at around 5:30pm, first 10 minutes apart, then 8, then 7, then 6. I texted our amazing doulas, Michelle and Corinne, and told them what was happening. They’d been texting me daily to check in, give me coping tips, and helping me get through the last few very uncomfortable weeks of pregnancy.  So, I was so excited to tell them that labor had finally started! I used all sorts of birth positions they had taught, as well as the ones from birth class, which really helped with coping.


At about 10:00pm, they advised I get some sleep before labor really picked up.  I was feeling so excited, but decided to follow their advice.  I was so upset to wake up at 1:00am, labor having completely stopped.  I ended up crying to Anthony because I was so upset. There is definitely a certain time in pregnancy when you feel like the baby will never come out, and that was that time for me. After the tears, I went back to sleep and woke up feeling refreshed.  In hindsight, I am really grateful I had that amazing sleep, as it would be the last time I had a good nights sleep for the foreseeable future.  :-)

The next day, April 1st, my mom (who had been staying with us for over a week – what an amazing woman she is!) wanted to make me feel better, so we went for lunch and reflexology.  Reflexology was fantastic, and I dozed off to sleep in the chair.  I woke up to thinking my water had broken! I wasn’t sure, however, so I called the doulas, who told me the main options, which included go to the hospital, or wait it out.  I decided to wait it out, as I just wasn’t sure what was happening and didn’t feel ready to go to the hospital yet, especially as if my water broke without contractions, they would start a countdown clock for delivery. However, I decided to check in with my incredible midwife, who advised I come in for a check at 8pm that night, and either way, if contractions hadn’t started, I’d be sent home until the following day.

So, mom and I grabbed some lunch (a vegetable-heavy noodle dish which I regretted profusely later), finished our errands, and headed home at around 3:00pm.

At around 6:00pm, contractions started up again, but this time, went from 10 minute to 7 minute to 4 minute intervals over the course of 21 minutes.  They were dramatically more intense than the contractions from the day before, and required my full concentration. I called the midwife, who told me to get in the shower and see if they slowed.  Lo and behold, at about 7:00, they fizzled out again.  I called my midwife one more time, and asked if I could skip coming into the hospital that night, as the contractions had stopped and I just wanted to go to sleep. She approved, so I decided to relax on the couch. I told the doulas I would be going to bed.  However, within half an hour, the contractions started up again – and didn’t stop. As in, there was absolutely no break between contractions.  I tried some of the positions we learned about in Bradley Method to ease labor pain, which had helped so much the day before, but today,  and they made it so much worse. I was also incredibly sick to my stomach, and shaking like a leaf. Within 20 minutes, we decided to go straight to the hospital as I was in incredibly intense and ceaseless pain. Anthony was amazing throughout the whole process. My mom held my hand on the 30 minute drive to the hospital, during which I had 11 contractions. By the time we got to the hospital, I could barely move.  We got to the labor ward, and I knew in my heart I needed an epidural and felt no guilt or remorse.  However, the on duty midwife had to check me first to make sure I was dilated enough to be admittable.

in labor

She wasn’t the most empathetic person, and kept asking me questions and seemed very impatient when I couldn’t answer during a contraction, which were coming between 1 and 3 minutes apart. When she did check me, though, her expression changed.  While I was only 3 cm dilated, I was 85% effaced and +1 station (with +3 being crowning and +4 out).  So, that explained the intense contractions and difficulty – he was already very much in the birth canal.  Michelle the doula arrived, and instantly was so incredibly helpful, getting me water and juice, helping me try different positions (none of which made the pain more maneagable, sadly) and suggesting a bath, which was a life changer. The nurse started the IV (which was also very helpful, leading me to think I may have been dehydrated even though I had been drinking tons that day).  I got in the bath, and Anthony poured warm water over me.  The anesthesiologist arrived quite promptly, and went through the disclosure while I was in the bath, as I refused to move under any circumstances.  He was truly lovely, and patiently waited for contractions to tell me the risks of the epidural.  If I had been more able to speak, I would have mentioned that I’m a clinical researcher and read the consent well before I was in labor, but I just let it go. Ego check. ;-) 

Smiling after epidural


The epidural took about 20 minutes to kick in, but when it did, the birth of my dreams happened.  Truly.  When I visualized the birth, I really wanted it to be a joyous celebration of life.  I wanted it to feel peaceful and serene.  Perhaps that was totally unrealistic, but I didn’t want to visualize myself miserable and in agony, so I chose to visualize joy.  For me, the epidural gave me the relief from the fear and sensation to have that exact experience. I was able to connect to people, I felt truly happy, and my body felt relaxed for the first time in weeks.  I even wonder now if I could have dilated as easily without it, as I was so terrified from the intensity of the pain.  Michelle the doula was amazing – she kept me hydrated, and helped me switch positions throughout the night. Even with the epidural, I felt the pressure from the contractions, could feel and move my legs, and felt great.  Ethan was a trooper even before birth – his heart rate was perfect and strong.  After the epidural was administered, the contractions got regular and strong, although they remained clustered for quite a while at the beginning, with three at 1 minute apart and then 1 5 minutes later.  The midwife pretty much left me alone from the first check (10pm), and except for a few verbal check-ins, let me labor in peace without any mention of any further interventions. I tried to sleep but found it nearly impossible, particularly as I could still feel sensation, it just wasn’t painful. 

Anthony and me


The next morning at around 7am, the angel midwife Laila came in.  Coincidentally, she looked so much like my dear friend Laila from college who is also an OB, so I did a massive double take. She was fantastic – so funny, warm and real.  When she checked me, it turned out that I was fully dilated and he was +2 – so we were ready to push!  I found this really interesting, as I felt no urge to push, so they let me hang out for a few hours.  At 8:00am, my midwife Michelle came by to say hello. She sat with me and chatted, and was just incredible.  She said she’d be back by lunch to meet the baby. By 10:00am, I was feeling intense pressure and was ready to push him out!  It was amazing to be surrounded by such wonderful people – the lovely nurses I had gotten to know through the evening, Michelle the doula, my mom and of course, Anthony. Anthony really shone during pushing – counting to help me push, and being so encouraging.  Pushing came very easily to me, even with the epidural. I was able to use the squat bar, and had tons of support and gentle encouragement – no yelling like in the movies.  Ethan himself also helped – between contractions, he kept coming out by himself! It was amazing.  At 10:35, with one final push, he came right out and was placed on my belly.  Anthony was originally going to announce the sex, but it was a bit hard to miss.  I said, “honey, I hate to break it to you, but it’s a boy!” Anthony had been positive it was a girl, but we were both overjoyed to meet our beautiful son.  They let us have skin to skin for at least an hour. He was so alert, and instantly started crawling up to try and feed (I admit, I gave him a bit of help to latch on).  The nurses all took bets on his weight, all guessing 7-7.5 pounds. However, when the pediatric nurse came in to put him on the scale, she said “woah, that is no 7.5 pound baby!” He was almost exactly 9 lbs, and 22 inches long.  

WeekendHighlights 1 3

So, that’s the story. Recovery has been fairly uneventful – I definitely tried to do too much too quickly, so had to cut back on activity until now (a month after) and am only now starting to go on real walks and feel myself.  However, he’s been amazing – so adaptable, so much fun, and so precious. I feel so, so lucky to be his mom, and I can’t wait to get to know him better!

WeekendHighlights 1 4

Photos courtesy of Anthony van der Hoorn and Terry Berenson

Weekend Highlights

What a great, if gray and rainy weekend! Hopefully, it will be our last weekend as a twosome, and we had a lot of fun…doing exactly what we do every weekend. Garden work, farmer’s market, chicken coop building, cooking, and watching movies.

apple struedel muffins

Apple strudel muffins from Practical Paleo.  These were so good. Thank God they’re healthy, as we ate 12 in two days. Baked goods, even grain-free ones, are no match for us.


Farmer’s market kale with red onions.  Amazing dinner – kale, roasted sweet potato and parsnips, a fried egg and some thinly sliced pork chop (1/4 chop each) with balsamic vinegar. So simple, so yummy.

6 week old chicks

Our chickens are almost too big for the dog crate!  On a whim, we put a dowel in for them to roost, and the birds are obsessed with it.  There are always a minimum of 2 hanging out on it, and it’s pretty adorable when all of them are there. 

chicken coop

Our chicken coop is ALMOST done!  It’s so amazing how talented and brilliant my husband is – he saw a few photos, and designed this coop from photos. It’s sturdy, beautiful, streamlined, and elegant. He is such a badass.

If at first you don’t succeed, replant your seedlings. I tried a few varieties of tomato and tomatillo (pictured) and three types of kale. The rest I’ll either direct seed or buy as starts, as I do not have enough faith in my soil block medium to invest the time and energy into a bunch of seeds at this point. However, we have at least one tomato seedling, so 1 out of 60 ain’t bad. 

tomato seedlings

PS anyone with experience – does it look like the block medium is too chunky? I think it is, but don’t have enough experience. 

Finally, dinner highlight was definitely cheeseburgers with slow-cooked onions and kale salad. 


My mom comes today, and will stay until baby is born which is just too exciting.  My mom and I are so close, and she will be at the birth which is just awesome. Provided I don’t go into labor in the next six hours and have a 1 hour and 45 minute labor like my sister did. Which, I have to say, if that happens I will not complain.


Pink Slime…It’s What’s For Dinner

No, I don’t mean the delightful concoction served in McDonald’s the world over. I mean what I made last night, using nothing but pastured, organic, locally-grown, custom butchered and all together fancy pork steak. Read this as very expensive.  Ugh. 

pastured pink slime

It’s been a rough week for farm learning for me.  This morning caught me sobbing hysterically that nearly all my seedlings had died, even though I carefully watered them and followed all of Dr. Google’s instructions (give me a break, I am nearly 10 months pregnant. Hysterical sobs, although rare, are just par for the course.) I just feel so inadequate – this is my full time job at this point, and I can’t even keep a couple of seedlings alive. 

Since most of what I’ve done professionally and studied has been my strengths (reading, analysis, research, etc.) it’s shocking and feels appalling to me how bad I can be at some things that involve feel and experience.  Like making the planting medium (most likely why the seedlings failed) – the instructions say in the consistency of putty or concrete. This sent me for a touch of a tailspin, because I just couldn’t quite figure out if my soil mix was concrete, or more peanut butter?  How much water, exactly, do I need, for a soil mix that I created and is therefore not exactly like any other soil mix out there?

planting trees in the garden

After my episode of hysteria, that definitely involved some cuddles from a patient husband and a confused dog… 

confused dog

I was ready to throw the whole thing out and give up. However the nice and hard thing about our life now is that really isn’t an option.  For the first time, we’re choosing to rely on ourselves to create our food, even if it’s only 2% this year. If I give up until “next year,” that 2% will never grow.  So, I started again, and I made more soil blocks with more water.  This time, they stayed put.  We’ll see how they go. 

Oh, and the pink slime? I now know that if you want to ground sausage in the vitamin, you need to do it in very small batches on a low speed.  Also, that anything with lots of spices and salt tastes pretty good when mixed with sweet potatoes or thrown in a soup. Also, that my sweet and incredible husband will eat anything if it’s called sausage, and will tell me how delicious it is.


What’s your most recent kitchen disaster? Come on, make me feel better ;-)

What To Look for in Chicks

Our chicks are now five weeks old, and are basically smaller versions of chickens.  They have finally moved out of our bathroom into the garage, and I think we are all happier for it (especially Chewy, who was having such anxiety about exactly WHY she was not allowed to eat the chicks, when they were right there in her territory.)  Of the seven chicks we bought, six survived, thrived, and seem happy as little birds can be.  Here’s what we looked for to make sure the chicks were as healthy as possible when we bought them.

1. Clear Eyes

clear eyed chick

It’s important to make sure the chicks eyes are clear, not at all opaque or cloudy.  They should look curious and alert, not sleepy or disinterested.

2. Clean, bug free feathers

clean feathers

It’s also important to make sure their feathers are clear of mites and lice, and look to be in generally good condition.  This particularly applies to chicks younger than two weeks, as once they hit the two week mark, they start getting their adult feathers and look a little bedraggled. 

3. A clear vent (butt).

clear butt

Yet another important trait to look for is a clear vent (rear end) that has no fecal matter blocking it, and again, no small bugs of any sort.  Pasty butt usually has to do with being exposed to environmental triggers such as too hot or too cold a temperature, and can signify stressed out chicks.

4. Chicks who are active, curious and annoying.

While it can take a day or so for the chicks to settle fully in to their new home, when they do, they should be interested in their surroundings, their food and water.  If using a heat lamp, they should be scattered around the brooder, not huddled under or away from the source of heat.  If using a heater, they should be in and out from under it, getting food and playing around and returning under it to rest and sleep.  It is quite normal for them to lie down for a while, even on their sides (scary the first time you see it) but they should also hop up when prodded.

Of course, none of these are guarantees for survivors – we checked and observed each chick carefully, and still lost one after two days to unknown causes.  However, especially if picking up your chicks from a feed store, these qualities give you a fighting chance for healthy and thriving chicks who will contribute to your homestead.