Friday, December 30, 2011

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Well not quite... 

We drove to North Bend last weekend on a hunt for the perfect tree! We had intentions to look for a small Noble Fir, and actually came home with one which was kind of a miracle. You may be wondering... can you randomly chop down a tree? In case you are thinking of an adventure for next year, pick up a permit from the Forest Ranger at REI for $10 with instructions on where to chop down the tree of your choice (anything under 12' that is). 

Exploring the trail for a about a mile and a half

After some debate, our top choice

Decorated and lit. Pretty cute, eh?

A friend said we get the widest-base-shortest-height tree award! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Rosewater Pistachio Cake with Pomegranates

In my time off from school, I have been doing a lot of catching up. Mainly, I've spent about three days cleaning the apartment which has been productive. I did all my Christmas shopping, and wrapping. Also, I have spent a fair amount time in the kitchen... making more messes to clean up  :)

One of my classmates recommended a food blog called Anja's Food 4 Thought. This lady is a genius! She likes making delicious healthy food, and her recipes are easy to follow and the ingredients are generally straight forward. 

Her Pistachio Cake is really easy to make, it took me about 20 minutes to get into the oven. Okay, so something about healthy cake recipes you might find shocking is... they have NO butter! Eeek! I was a little nervous to serve this cake to our friends, but decided to bite the bullet and go for it.

Here is the recipe:
Combine flour, baking powder and soda, salt in bowl and mix. Combine wet ingredients and sugar in separate bowl and mix. Mix together wet and dry ingredients and fold in pistachios. Bake in 8" greased spring-form pan at 375 degrees F for 20-25 minutes. 

1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp lemon zest, finely grated
1/2 c plain yogurt
1/4 c olive oil
1/3 c sugar
1 tbsp rosewater
1/2 c pistachios, finely chopped

Frost cake just before you are ready to serve. Combine cream cheese and honey, spread on cake and sprinkle with pistachios and pomegranates. 

1/2 c cream cheese
3 tbsp honey or agave syrup
1/4 c pistachios, chopped
1/2 c pomegranates

It turned out well. Looking good and tasting good, more importantly!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Smoothie Time!

Brenton and I recently bought an abundant amount of tupperware at Sur la Table and any purchase over $50 comes with a free subscription to Martha Stewart Magazine. Now, I realize some of you (Brenton included) may be opposed to my partaking in anything Martha has to offer, but I have to admit, when you get past the heavy promotion of an Über-domesticated lifestyle there are some pretty delectable recipes tucked inside of the cover.

This smoothie has seriously changed my approach to the blended breakfast. The oats give a great texture, and the ginger cuts through the flavors adding a lightness smoothies often lack. Plus! Ginger is mm-mm-good, and blended with the almond butter, cinnamon and maple syrup, you can't go wrong. 

Fruit smoothie with Ginger and Oats

2 pears (I used frozen blackberries)
1 3/4 cups milk (I added some OJ as well)
1 cup buttermilk (I used plain yogurt)
2/3 c rolled/quick-cooking oats (I cooked them first)
1/3 c ice cubes
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp almond butter
2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Muffin Madness

The cold winter months combined with my affinity toward baked goods, has tempted me spend a lot of time in the kitchen! I have had particularly good luck with muffins this season. 

Adapted from this William-Sonoma recipe, these Blackberry Lemon Muffins make a great breakfast when you are on the go. They are simple to make, and have a subtle lemon zest. They keep for a few days, and stay moist because of the berries. 

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
grated zest of 1/2 large lemon
1 egg, beaten
5 Tbs butter, melted
1 cup buttermilk (alternative: fresh milk and 4 tsp white vinegar)
2 1/2 cups frozen blackberries (unsweetened, and unthawed)

Preheat the oven to 375 F, oil standard muffin cups with butter. 

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a bowl, and mix together. Mix the egg, melted butter, buttermilk and lemon zest in separate bowl. Combine with flour mixture and stir until evenly moistened. Add the berries in portions and fold into the batter with a rubber spatula. Do not over mix. 

Bake for 25-30 minutes. Makes 12 muffins. 

Frozen berries from the Capitol Hill Farmers Market, Hayton Farms

Blackberry Lemon Muffins

Next up, Pumpkin Ginger Walnut Muffins, adapted from Simple Recipes. These are great to bring to holiday parties, you could even throw a little cream cheese frosting on top and have something very similar to carrot cake. Also, if you have any pumpkins left over from Halloween, chop them into quarters, clean the insides and pop them in the oven for 30 minutes. You can use the innards for soup, bread, muffins, cookies, you name it! Here's how to make the muffins:

Preheat oven to 350 F, oil standard muffin cups with butter.

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp nutmeg (plus a little)
1/2 tsp cinnamon (plus a little)
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup melted butter
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup water
1 tsp ground ginger
1 cup chopped walnuts

Combine the flour, salt, sugar, baking soda, nutmeg and cinnamon in a bowl, and mix together. Mix the pumpkin puree, melted butter, eggs, water, and ginger in separate bowl. Combine with flour mixture and stir until evenly moistened. Add the walnuts in portions and mix into the batter.

Bake for 25-30 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.

Pumpkin Ginger Walnut Muffins

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Concrete Bench

Architecture school is awesome! Last week my lab partner and I cast a 150 pound concrete bench!

Formwork made from recycled plywood

Plywood reinforced with scrap wood 

Rebar to support the cantilevered seat. Yep, I made that.

Bennet and I mixed 2.5 60 lb bags of concrete with
water before it was enough to fill the form

Almost there!

Poured! Now we wait... one week until the form is revealed

Final product!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Our good friends recently became feline foster parents. Their first week on the job also corresponded with a very important wedding, leading them to be out of town for 5 days. Of course, we volunteered to hang out with the cutest cat in the world! Eva is her name, she's tiny and has a crooked tail. She does funny things like slosh through her water bowl before she drinks from it, and goes fishing in the toilet.

Hanging by the window looking at some birds, and occasionally a camera

Always drinking with her paw in the water

Most cats don't like water but she couldn't get enough, she almost fell in!

If you are interested in fostering a cat, look for more information at

Monday, November 14, 2011

Hiroshi Sugimoto

After we visited the site in Ballard, we were assigned photographers to present in studio. The purpose of this assignment was to inform and inspire (it worked!). We now know the building program of our site, a photography collective workspace and gallery.

I presented on Hiroshi Sugimoto, a Japanese photographer interested in capturing time within a two-dimensional image. In the series Theaters, he sets the exposure time on his camera to the length of the movie being shown (averaging two hours). The result is this blank image where all the color and movement has overlapped to create this almost blinding block of white.

The long exposure records the planes flying 

These are from his series, Seascapes, also an extended exposure time which produces a calm and euphoric view of the sky and water. He keeps the horizon line at the same level in his photographs, creating a consistency within the composition. These images are so simple at first glance, but when I see them, my imagination gets to work. I see the sun setting, or the fog running across the waters surface. The images change without movement.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Faux Building in Ballard

After our trip to Vancouver, we began a new project! We met in Ballard to visit our site, an empty lot on Ballard Avenue typically used for the Sunday farmer's market. Though nothing will actually be built at this location, it is still very exciting to work within a physical space. 

Walking across the site, approximately 100' deep x 50 ' wide

Looking inwards from the sidewalk

Looking inwards from the street

Street view

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Vancouver Buildings

Last weekend the 1st year graduate class went on an architecture field trip to Vancouver, BC. It was a lot of fun, and we saw quite a few impressive buildings. The more buildings I look at critically, the more it begins to inform my design approach. It is very inspiring. 

The following images portray Arthur Erickson's Museum of Anthropology. This building utilizes a concrete version of post and beam construction, emulating architecture of First Nation's people. The building opens to a field and pond, you can walk a short distance up the hill to see Vancouver's Straight of Georgia. The interior space is light and open, despite the heavy use of concrete. The totem's are the central display of the main gallery, naturally backlit and inserted into an airy vertical space, these carved forms can truly express their magnificence. 

Museum of Anthropology
University of British Columbia
Architect Arthur Erickson
Interior space displaying Haida totems and other native american historical markers

Close-up of the Haida totem

This structure was designed and built by Bill Reid and Douglas Cranmer.
This is what you see when you turn around after overlooking the pond, grass field and building. 

Also on UBC's campus is the Belkin Art Museum, design by Architect Peter Cardew.

The pile of logs in the foreground are cast concrete pieces

Elevation of the Belkin

Interior street at the entrance of the museum

Just outside the Belkin Museum, Rodney Graham's Camera Obscura

After we finished up at the Belkin, we went over to Biodiversity Research Center building and museum. The interior courtyard space feels comfortable and lush, you are surrounded with native plants that flourish in the middle of the city. Even on a cold, and rainy day, the plant life evokes a feeling of warmth. The buildings have been designed by Patkau Architects.

Beaty Biodiversity Museum and surrounding academic buildings

The next day we visited the B.C. Binning house in West Vancouver. Binning was a prominent Canadian artist, and worked as a professor at the Vancouver School of Art, today Emily Carr University. He designed and built his home in 1941, and it is recognized as a leading example of the modernist movement in Canada. The house is completely detached from the street, when you descend into the property you are looking down on the house. It is of modest size, and follows the terraced landscape. Binning painted two murals on the house, one at the exterior entrance stair case, and the other at the end of the entrance hallway. Both are indicative of his style later in his career.

BC Binning House
Walk down the step into the entrance hall

Entrance hallway, bedrooms/studio are in the right section of the house,
the living space in the left side of the house

Binning's studio

View from the living room

Looking back at the house from yard 

This post would not be possible without the photos taken by my classmate Jonathan Konkol - thank you!