December 31, 2010

New Year's Resolutions [About Me]

2010 has been good to me. I spent six months in Buenos Aires, three months in Guildford with Si and his family, a month in Pennsylvania with all of my lovely friends and two months home in Portland. In that time, I managed to write my dissertation and defend it, as well as start two websites that I am now very proud of (this blog and This of course is not to mention (yet again) our engagement last July and the beginning of my side career as a craftsperson on Etsy. Pfew! That's a lot for just one year.

I have already been through so much, but it's looking like 2011 will be just as busy. This year I will move to London for good (finally), officially graduate and become "Dr. Dean," and start my life as both a professional and a married person (fingers crossed on finding a job in this economy).

With so much to come, I wanted to take a moment to set aside a few New Year's resolutions. My resolutions this year all revolve around regaining what I lost touch with while in Buenos Aires. Truth be told, I was intimidated by Buenos Aires. I'm not proud to say that. That same intimidation kept me from some of the things I love most, and ultimately led to missed opportunities to meet new and interesting people. It's a shame and I don't want that to happen again when I get to London.

In 2011, I would like to learn to be a better seamstress. This of course means that I will need to buy a sewing machine once I am in England, and hopefully find a lovely person to teach me this trade. Once I've learned how, I'd like to try my hand at making some things for me, for my friends and family and for our house.

photo by Claudia Assad

In 2011, I would like to get back in touch with my green thumb. I realize it is difficult to find allotments in London, but perhaps I can find someone willing to share their allotment with me in exchange for splitting water duties. Ah, I can almost taste the vine ripened heirlooms now.

photo by London Permaculture

In 2011, I would like to regain direction in my career. The dissertation and defense process left me jaded and in need of a new direction. I know that at least for the moment I worry about the pressures of taking on the responsibility of a lecturer at a manor research university. Within the next year, I want to have regained that old, comfortable sense of direction, but to pursue a different goal (at least for a while). I want to know where I'm going and have something to work for again.

photo by Stefan

In 2011, I would like to become part of a new community of friends who share my interests in things like the arts, gardening, crafts, good beer, good food, etc. etc. Moving is always hard, but by actively pursuing my own interests I'm bound to meet some good people along the way right?

As this post is published I am leaving to get on a plane to go to London. I arrive at noon on New Year's Day, literally starting off the New Year with an absolutely clean slate. New house, new city, new life. I am both excited and afraid right now, both feelings will eventually subside regretfully. Only time will tell what will happen in the next months. I can't wait to find out!

Happy New Year to you all, and my best of wishes for 2011!

December 27, 2010

Beer Hops Business Cards [My Crafts]

A few weeks back a client asked me to create business cards in the style of my beer hops wedding invitations. Since our engagement in July my attention has been dedicated primarily to wedding details. The notion of using the same graphics to create other stationary hadn't yet dawned on me, but what a great idea it was.

The client wanted a one-sided simple card, but I've added the botanical drawing to the back recently and love the vintage feel of this cool business card. Here are a few images.

Beer Hops Business Cards Front

Brewer's Hops Business Cards Front

Humulus Lupulus "Brewer's Hops" 

Brewer's Hops Business Card Back

Brewer's Hops Business Cards

I'm uploading this item to my Etsy shop today, so stay tuned. Any one interested in creative rethinking of my existing designs, please do be in touch. I'm happy to collaborate on custom orders!

December 24, 2010

Some Christmas Favorites [Things I Like]

Tis Christmas Eve and I wanted to spread some cheer.

Here's one of my most favorite clips from Charlie Brown Christmas.

My mom imitated the twins' dance the other day while we were making dinner. Silly mom.

I hope everyone is having a lovely, fun and safe holiday!

December 22, 2010

My Favorite Portland Restaurants, 2010 Edition [Things I Love]

Portland has become a major destination for foodies. A proud foodie myself, I have been visiting my old favorites and trying out new places since my return to Portland last October. Now that my days are numbered, I wanted to take a moment to review a few of my favorites from this trip.

John Street Cafe
8338 N Lombard
Hands down. John Street Cafe makes the best breakfast in Portland. I know that Tasty n Sons is all the rage right now, and I love that place too, but you just can't bear John Street Cafe. During the summer, take a seat in their amazing garden and dine in the company of butterflies. In the winter hunker down with one of their amazing (and I mean it, AMAZING) pancakes or order their most popular omelette, the BOCAVO (with bacon, bleu cheese and avocado). Plan on coming for an early breakfast (before 8am) or come ready to wait an hour for your table. Needless to say, the breakfast served by this darling family business are well worth the wait.

Bar Avignon
2138 SE Division
I discovered Bar Avignon on accident. My mother and I stopped by when we had been disappointed to find that Xtabay Vintage Boutique had closed early one rainy afternoon. Hoping to kill some time and lift our spirits we stopped in this hidden gem for a glass of wine and a snack. What we got was one of the best culinary experiences I've had here in Portland. One glass of Torrontes and a few nibbles of warm marinated olives and Serrano ham later, I was left with a smile that still comes back when I think of this place. Somehow this place remains off of the Portland radar so it's not too crowded outside of peak dinner time. That won't last long, so get in there sooner rather than later.

3731 SE Hawthorne
Evoe is the only well-known eatery that will make my list really. I usually prefer neighborhood places, so I was relieved at the cozy and comfortable atmosphere here. The food is damn good at its worst.  I recently had an open-face salmon sandwich, which was truly lovely. As good as the sandwich was, it was the wine pairing suggested that made the whole meal something special. Seating is limited so be patient. I'd suggest stopping by at an off-peak time and sitting at the stools facing the preparation space. That way you can watch the chef as he does his work and hear all of the great foodie chatter.

King Burrito
2924 N Lombard
When I'm away from the US, I miss Mexican food. When I'm away from Portland, I miss King Burrito. This place is the very definition of a no frills hole in the wall. Who cares about ambience when the food is this good? Order the Tostada Burrito (refried beans, lettuce, tomato and avocado sauce) and enjoy. It sounds simple, but what it is is simply delicious! Be weary of some of their bigger burrito offerings, however. "The King" comes with a fried chile relleno inside and is heavy enough to force even a giant into a food coma for days.

The Fishwife
5328 N Lombard
This is my perennial neighborhood favorite. While Willamette Week has leaked King Burrito and John Street Cafe to foodies in other parts of the city, nobody outside of North Portland has discovered The Fishwife. Usually I like to keep my favorite places a secret amongst friends, but I fear the Fishwife needs the business and want to encourage anyone and everyone to come here. Year round, this restaurant is my go to place. In the winter, I go for their halibut bleu, a baked casserole of halibut and bleu cheese. In the summer, I never miss the opportunity for a shrimp louie salad. These standard menu items always find tough competition from the specials menu, however, as this local haunt buys the freshest in seasonal seafood and meats and serves truly special specials every day. 

December 21, 2010

Oregon Beer is the Best, 2010 Edition [Things I Love]

Artful shot of McMenamin's Ales
My favorite is Ruby (center) served with an orange slice
(this gorgeous photo by Tom Watson)
My blog is about the things I love.  Today, I want to share my love of Oregon beers.

I'm pretty spoiled when it comes to beer. While the rest of the US is left to drink Bud Light and celebrate Miller Time, I have come of age amongst the hop-laden greats of the Henry Weinhard, Rogue and Deschutes breweries. I've lived all over the US, all over the world really. I'm certainly biased, but I think Oregon beers are the best anywhere. Every year when I come home to Oregon to celebrate the holidays, I make concerted efforts to drink as much, and as many different beers as I can.

I'm not alone in my affinity for Oregon's craft brews, and there exist somewhat scientific reasoning behind the high quality produced within the region. Apparently, beer is good here in Oregon because it can be. Since the 1980s (when there were only 80 breweries in the whole country), the State of Oregon has passed legislation that makes it easier for craft breweries and brew pubs to emerge and succeed in the marketplace. Furthermore, Oregon and Washington produce the vast majority of the world's brewer's hops (Oregon is #2 behind Washington in the national count, and the US is #1 worldwide). Word on the street is that the hops produced here in the Willamette Valley are a more bitter, pungent hop than is produced elsewhere. Perhaps thanks to our super delicious hops, today there are more than 100 breweries just within the state of Oregon, all of which produce more than 1,000,000 barrels of craft beer per year (for more on craft beers in Oregon, visit the Oregon Brewers Guild).

I only have a few days left here in Oregon. I'll be going back to London New Year's Eve (I know, poor me). I'll miss my family. I'll miss my friends. I'll certainly miss the food. Also ranking up there is the beer. I will miss the beer, a lot. So, in honor of my beloved Portland, Oregon and Northwest breweries, I wanted to publish a post in praise of the craft beer. Here's a list of favorites among my family:

My 2010 Favorite: Bridgeport ESB
My standby: McMenamin's Ruby Ale, served with an orange slice
Mom and Dad's Fav: Deschutes Jubelale
When Si visited, he liked: Widmer Drifter

NBC's Sing Off Was Great Fun [Things I Love]

This post is about an absolute guilty pleasure of mine. Don't judge me. We all have our guilty pleasures. This just happens to be one of mine.

I haven't blogged for a while. Why? Well, last week I discovered that On the Rocks (an a cappella group from the University of Oregon, my alma mater) had been performing on NBC's Sing Off. I had missed 4 episodes, so I had some catching up to do.

Sadly, my fellow Ducks were eliminated last week, but the remaining groups were absolutely deserving. I particularly loved this performance by Street Corner Symphony and wanted to share it:

And for the sake of representing, here's On the Rocks (Go Ducks!) with Kyrie by Mister Mister:

December 14, 2010

Our Beer Hops Wedding Invitations, FINALLY! [My Crafts]

It's true. We're not holding our wedding until June 2012. With more than a year and a half to plan, there really is no hurry for me to get these designed and printed. I wanted to work on these now, however, because really there is no better time than the present. I only have a few more revisions to put into my dissertation (almost done, pfew!), and I don't currently have a job. Since I only have three more weeks here in the US and since I cannot work in England until after our civil ceremony on January 29, I am relying on etsy to not only provide me with a little bit of money, but also to me busy and sane.

So here they are. Our lovely beer hops wedding invitations.

It'll all be tied together with a sweet little bow

Humulus lupulus, "brewers' hops"
This old botanical drawing was the inspiration
for our invitation suite. 
A detail from the botanical drawing became the motif
of our invitation, reception card and everything else. 
Here's the full set with the exterior of the envelope.
I know it's a small touch, but I really like these mailing labels.
(I really ought to take new photos, these aren't doing it justice)

I'm so relieved to have these done, actually. Now that I have these, more ideas are brewing for my etsy store. Here are a few things that I'm working on next:

-More beer hops wedding stationery pieces, including place cards, thank you notes, table numbers, and wedding programs.

-Other vintage botanical drawing invitation suites. Right now I'm in love with the following plants and will try and do suites for them all: persimmon (aka sharon fruit), pomegranate and sweet pea (my dad's nickname for me).

December 13, 2010

Adorable Custom Wedding Maps for Save the Date Cards [My Crafts]

I just finished a really special order that I wanted to share.

This request came in a few days ago for custom wedding map postcards. These cards would serve as save the date cards for a couple that works for the US Navy. This couple has been having to cope with not only stressful work conditions (to say the least), but being apart much of the time. Since they have been stationed all over the world over the course of past years, they wanted to use their custom map to show their guests all the places the two had been.

The end product was really special. These clients were really amazing to work with, but more importantly, I am really proud to do a good job for them. I wish them nothing but the best in the future and send them my most hearty of congratulations on their engagements and upcoming wedding. Wow! What a great couple.

Here's how their maps turned out (I've changed the names and dates to protect my client).

by Kristin Dean

The bride said she got choked up reading this.
I quite like the wording I chose, too. 

December 9, 2010

Invitation Inspiration: Brewer's Hops, The Perfect Symbol of Our Love [Things I Love]

Did you know that 80% of the world's hops are
grown in Oregon and Washington? 

What should we do for our wedding invitations?

I've been trying to answer this question for quite a while. At one point I thought I would do something having to do with a tree (who doesn't like trees, right? fail!), at another point I was getting ready to spend big bucks on letterpress invites (but wouldn't we all prefer that money to be spent on good food and booze?). Until now I haven't come to any sort of conclusion. Really, I couldn't make up my mind because I needed to focus on one important question:

What do we want for our invitations? 

Although I am certainly doing more wedding planning that Si, I want to see him in these updates. Correction, I want to represent us with these invites. From that I could eliminate anything too girlie. Then I had to think about the things that we both love. We play a lot of Scrabble, we love Apple products and we always enjoy a good trip to the pub. 

And that's it: beer! Beer (or alcohol in general) is perfect. Not only is it representative of something we both love, it is appropriate representation of our celebration. Ok, perfect. 

Next problem: how to incorporate this graphically in an attractive set of invitations? 

Solution: the hops plant. Hops are grown in Oregon and Washington, further representation of my family and are absolutely gorgeous. I'll certainly be incorporating these beautiful buds throughout our wedding decor. 

Ah, so pleased!

December 8, 2010

Wedding Maps to Fall in Love With [My Crafts]

Wedding Maps from Love's Leftovers by Kristin Dean

So we're having a destination wedding. Simon's mother is from Italy and we are going to have the wedding in his mom's hometown. 

Pro: My guests will get to see a part of Italy otherwise less explored by tourists and travelers. 
Con: Nobody will know anything about this place and there is virtually no information about this place in English. 

Conclusion: We need to include pretty detailed maps in our wedding invitation suite to make our guests feel more comfortable. 

These maps are my solution. This is the post card version, which I'm not sure whether I'll be including in the wedding invitation or perhaps in the welcome bags. Either way, my guests will see them. The front side has the map of Italy to illustrate where our wedding will be in relation to other major cities. The back has a detailed map of the city, indicating where we will be having our ceremony and reception, as well as other important landmarks, such as recommended hotels and restaurants. 

Wedding Map Postcard Back
I loved the other wedding maps published on etsy, but they really are just to girly for us. Simon and I are a team and as much as I might like ribbons and big loopy writing, he hates it. So I set out to design something that would be appropriate representation of us as a couple, much as I did with our save the date cards. Part vintage, part homemade, part modern minimalist. I love them and hope others will too. 

Stay tuned!!!!! I'll be releasing a fold out version of my maps soon too. These post cards are super cute, but my fold out maps are something totally different from what's out there and are really really special. I'm working on them now and am hoping to get them out soon.

Christmas Shopping FIND! Bugs on Your Walls [Things I Love]

Amazing Christmas Gift!!!!

So I am always wanting to give my family those special things for their homes for Christmas. Yes, these are slightly weird, but they are AMAZING! Gorgeous exotic butterflies and lots of other insects all mounted in pretty frames from Real Butterfly Gifts on Etsy. Don't miss out! They really are amazing!

December 6, 2010

Look What Just Arrived! [Things I Love]

I finished my last post and there was a knock at my door. I was still in my jammies (how embarassing). Opened the door to a kind man with flowers from Simon! Oh happy day!

Flowers from Simon
alternate caption: how to keep your fiancee happy forever

Botanical Drawings [Things I Love]

I just wanted to share a few pretty images of one of my new/old favorite things: botanical prints. My parents have some lovely fern prints framed on the wall of their breakfast nook and I just love them. Maybe my love for these things is partly the result of nostalgia, but is there anything wrong with that? I think I will be incorporating these into my wedding invitations. Hoorah for centuries-old artists and fair use copyright laws. Imagine. 

I particularly love those drawings describing plant diseases and garden pests. 

DIY Kit: Save the Dates with Magnet Pockets [My Crafts]

My DIY Kit: Save the Date Cards with Magnet Pockets

Save the Date Cards from Love's Leftovers by Kristin Dean
The Finished Product

It took me a while, I know. My apologies. That darned dissertation got in the way. Well, actually I haven't finished my revisions entirely, so I suppose I really should be working on that still, but I don't want to. Working on these invitations is so much more fun! So there.

The news today is that I have come up with a cheaper option for my save the date cards: a DIY Kit. How does it work? Well, since some of the most important parts of the invitation come from the UK and are no where to be found here in the US, I decided it would be best if I prepared the components of the invitation for you, but left the assembly for you. This will save you (and me) the cost of having me assemble the cards for you. How much will you save? For 100 invitations, you'll save $100 USD by ordering the DIY kit instead of the fully assembled cards. That's some serious savings!

Here's what I'll include in the DIY Kit:
-Instructions for assembly
-Magnets, designed by me, approved by you
-100 craft paper pockets
-Pre-cut stripes for each pocket
-100 Luggage Tags
-100 Save the Date Cards, customized to your liking, printed here in my shop and ready to go
-102 Craft paper envelopes

Portland's Best Wedding Dress Shops [Things I Love]

Maybe I've watched too many episodes of "Say Yes to the Dress," but I really expected wedding dress shopping to be a horrific experience. Quite to the contrary, I had the BEST time shopping for dresses! I had anticipated that I would have to go to at least a dozen shops only to find something in a dark corner of some dingy or over iced shop. Not true. Two dresses. Two dress shops. Bang. Bang. Done! Here's the skinny.

Since Si and I are doing a separate civil ceremony in England before our big wedding in Italy (for the oh-so-un-romantic requirements of visa applications) I need two dresses. Damn. Poor me.

For the civil ceremony I wanted a vintage dress. So I did a little web searching while I was still in England this summer and spent all of the months of August, September and October pining over the blog for Xtabay.

Here's an example of the GORGEOUS things they have going at Xtabay.
(I hope you ladies don't mind me publishing this photo)

Figuring the pictures were too good to be true, or that the dresses wouldn't fit my strange body shape I had prepared myself for a miss at this Portland vintage staple. That miss never happened. What luck I had! That day the shop owner was there. I know Xtabay enthusiasts share my sentiments, but she is really something special. She took one look at me, and knew which dresses would look nice on me. She grabbed a few from the shelves. She made simple, relaxed suggestions. Not once did I feel harassed or like she was trying to sell me the dresses. She didn't have to. The dresses spoke for themselves. The dresses fit me so well, and looked so great that I was absolutely torn between three dresses. THREE!!! I'm still a little upset for not also picking up the pink cocktail ditty, but I am so incredibly in love with my Fred Perlberg Dance Originals that I got. Here's a pic of a Perlberg 1950s party dress, but I won't publish pictures of the dress until after the ceremony for fear of my dear Simon catching glimpse of it.

Fred Perlberg Dance Originals
This one's not got a bit of white on it so it's clearly not my dress, but it does show how nice these dresses are. Thank you Xtabay!
I promise I'll post photos of our civil ceremony. For sure!

After having such great luck with Xtabay, I figured that I wouldn't push my luck for a while. I waited a few weeks. Simon came to visit for Thanksgiving, and only after he left (and I had gained a good 10 pounds, haha) was I ready to go dress shopping again. I once again scoured the internet. I asked all of my recently married friends for recommendations and narrowed my list of bridals shops to a small list. A very, very small list. I should be honest. I only had this one shop on my list: The English Department (on Alder between 11th and 12th in downtown Portland). I had looked at all of the rest and they made me panic. So The English Department was really my only hope for this first attempt.

So last Friday, I talked both my parents (yes, my dad too) into joining me. Once again prepared for potential disappointments, I really just wanted to try on a dress or two, see the shop and get a feel for bridal shopping. To be completely honest, I was really looking for any opportunity, any excuse, to go back to Xtabay. I was not hopeful for The English Department at all. I would have been happy to leave somewhat dissatisfied and make a bee-line right back to my new favorite vintage shop. Only problem with that plan is that I felt so comfortable in this shop. The whole time. Seriously. Just like at Xtabay, I was again torn between not one, not two, but THREE amazing choices. Only difference here is that I haven't chosen yet. Debate is between a modest mermaid (I know, I never would think it, but it looked great on me) and an absolutely traditional and magically me strapless dress. Will keep everyone posted on those. The dresses that I loved the most from The English Department were from the same designer, Jenny Yo. Here are a few examples from her collection:


Now,  I know I always brag about Portland and bore my friends with the many reasons why I love it here. I don't hate to say it. My dress shopping experience in the small, romantic boutiques of Portland has just been so fantastic. I want to say thank you to all of the lovely women who helped me while I was shopping for my dresses, express my continued and undying gratitude for the support and love of my parents who accompanied me to these stores without complain, and encourage anyone who needs a great dress to go to either of these shops. They both are truly, truly special places.

Dang, it's been a good couple of years! [About Me]

As I am preparing the house for Christmas and getting ready to move to London at New Year, I decided that now would be a good time to reflect on the last couple years. I left the US in February 2009. Then, I was a student at Penn State working on my PhD. Well, I suppose I will technically be a grad student at Penn State until graduation next May 2011 when I officially become Dr. Dean (oh yeah!). Regardless, it was that February when this Oregon girl left Pennsylvania, left this whole country to live in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Since then I've been so lucky to travel to Uruguay, throughout Argentina, as well as to parts of England I had yet to see. I've seen some amazing places and made some great friends. My only regret is that I didn't take advantage of it enough. Oh well. I guess I'll just have to spend the rest of my life making up for that mistake. And how lucky I am to have such a great partner in crime to continue to travel and explore with me. Si, you're my geekqual. You know.

It has been a great past couple of years and I need to remind myself of that more often. Here are a few snaps to share.

Simon and I in London, August 2009

Puente de la Mujer, Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires

Tanicu Festival, Santiago del Estero, Argentina
October 2009

Simon and I in Punta del Este, Uruguay
November 2009

I taught myself how to make homemade gnocchi for Si's 30th. 

Tour of Widmer Brewery, Portland, Oregon
Thanksgiving 2010

Notice the large gap between Si's 30th and his trip to the states for this last Thanksgiving. AAAAH, of course, my dissertation took over. Well, yet another tragedy that I'll have to make up for. Dear Santa: I would like a new digital camera for Christmas so I might take more photos of our adventures from here on out. 

November 17, 2010

Save the Date with Magnet Pocket: More Popular than Anticipated [My Crafts]

Save the Date Card with Magnet Pocket

These little ditties have been popular! I never expected my etsy store to really take off (of course I hoped), but thanks to these cards the dream is still alive. I'll be developing a more affordable option for those who want to make their own magnet pockets in the future. Only complication is that some of the materials to make these, namely the luggage tag and the craft paper pocket, can only be purchased in the UK. So I'm trying to source these and make it happen for my customers here in the US.

Stay tuned!

September 9, 2010

New Etsy Shop!

One of my favorite ways to procrastinate my dissertation (which I just submitted last Friday!) was to plan the little crafty details of our wedding. I realized after about a month of crafting that I was really enjoying this. This thought led me to start my own etsy store: love's leftovers.

Inside this store, I'll be posting items that I've created for our wedding: save the date cards, invitations, bridesmaids and groomsman gifts, place cards, programs, etc. My store really is stocked with the byproducts of our wedding planning, hence the name of the shop (and this blog).

Although it only has one item thus, far, I'll be adding more as I make progress with wedding planning and other projects, so stay tuned.

My first wedding craft/product offered on etsy (sorry to spoil the surprise for those of you who will be receiving these)
**Update: I made my first etsy sale last week! Very encouraging!

August 28, 2010

Radio Silence Explained [About Me]

It has been months since I last posted. I have been neglecting my blog horribly, as well as my website, but I am back. I have been finishing my dissertation and have gone through a series of major life changes since I last published anything here. In short, here's what's been up:

--I have finished my research and have moved away from Buenos Aires. I will miss my friends in BA, but I am really happy and excited for what's to come.

--I am nearing the end with my dissertation (knock on wood, please!). The thing is in some semblance of draft form. From here on out my biggest hurdle is myself.

and the BIGGEST changes since I last wrote?

--Simon's now and uncle for the first time and I'll be an aunty soon because...

--Simon and I got ENGAGED!!! Here are the photos from our announcement: