Day Trip: A Visit to Mount Angel Abbey

Mount Angel Abbey is located in Mount Angel, Oregon in the beautiful Willamette Valley.  My daughter is studying architecture and was on an assignment following her summer internship, “you must visit the library at Mount Angel Abbey!”  The library was designed by a world-renown Finnish architect, Alvar Aalto.  The architect is well known for his modern style. The library was completed in 1970 and itself is a well known theological library.

Visiting the Abbey, one must respect that it is a working monastery and seminary, and not a public park.  Visitors should be respectful. 

The Abbey sits atop a hill with outstanding views on 3 sides.  They have benches set in perfect spots for viewing.  DSCF5194I could have sat on one of those benches for hours, but we continued on to tour the library.  Voices are kept at low levels, as this is a working library, and you will find monks doing research while there.  The library has some Aalto furniture pieces on display, and copies of Aalto’s famous glass vase design, as well as posters available for purchase.  The library’s architecture is modern in a circular, curving format with good natural lighting, and consistent style using vertical light wood pieces – even covering the panel holding the emergency fire hose.  The design takes advantage of the library’s position on the edge of the hill and has a stair-step 3 level design.


Adjoining the library is a room of rare books which fascinated even my two teenagers and is worth a look. DSCF5185

After leaving the library we headed for the church to take a peek.  It was closed due to construction but we could still peek inside at its unusual design.  It is perhaps an homage to the Monastery’s roots based in Switzerland.DSCF5199

Around the corner and below the Monastery rooms, is a basement entrance with a small sign “museum” that I’m sure is missed by many.  But don’t miss it!  I have no doubt my kids were “ugh…a church museum?” but as I overheard a monk explain, it is like the Abbey’s attic.  And what an attic.  The last thing I expected to see as I walked in the door was a still life taxidermy scene of a cougar pouncing on a black-tailed deer. Then a full size moose.  And a goat.  And a polar bear. And an eagle. And a bison.  And so much more.  Tiny preserved birds in tubes.  Insects large and small.  Other cases contained a wild variety of items loosely displayed by region – the Pacific Islands, European, and the Holy Land ranging from 1,000 BC to a can of Coleman’s Mustard in the vintage case.DSCF5201

It is a small, free museum and well worth the visit!

Our last stop was a lovely little coffee and gift shop called “The Press” with is definitely worth a visit.DSCF5209




Daytrip: Oregon Coast and Devil’s Punchbowl

Last weekend my family and I made another day trip.  This time we aimed for the Devil’s Punchbowl.  It is a circular outcrop at the base of a cliff where the center has eroded.  At minus-tide, you can walk into the center of it.  At high tide, it fills about half full.  During storms it can fill all the way to the top.  The viewpoint directly overhead was rather windy, but what a view! My husband and teenagers ventured down inside while I stayed up top to take photos.


My kids looking at the sea anenomes inside the punchbowl.


There are many viewpoints at which you can stop and take photos along the Oregon Coast hwy 101.  We stopped at a viewpoint just north of Devil’s Punchbowl and had a spectacular view overlooking Otter Rock and Devil’s Punchbowl.

My favorite view overlooking Otter Rock
Overlooking Agate Beach with many brave surfers


A bit further north we stopped at another viewpoint with great views.  A group of college aged boys were joking as they headed into the Lookout Souvenir shop “I must buy a refrigerator magnet!”

DSCF5023DSCF5008bridge oregon coast

As we headed north, we stopped for a frisbee-break at Tierra del Mar beach.  We tried stopping for lunch at Pelican Brew Pub in Pacific City, but couldn’t find parking.  We don’t usually go to the coast on the weekends, but wowza! Large crowds there.  There was extra excitement as a group of good samaritans helped lift a Subaru stuck in the sand as the tide was coming in.  They literally had to lift it out of the water and to dry land.  There are just a few beaches that allow cars on them.  (I’m not a fan of cars on beaches.) From Tierra del Mar we headed north all the way to Cannon Beach where we headed back to the heat and traffic of the Portland Metropolitan area.

Tierra Del Mar
Neakhani mountain
Neakhani Mountain
Tide’s coming in…
beach exercise


Creating a Cozy Interior with Books

I love reading a good book.  I love my home to feel cozy, comfortable, and be a place where I can curl up with a good book, a warm blanket, and a cup of coffee (or tea, I love ’em both.)  I probably should have married a carpenter, for I dream of wall to wall bookshelves and lots of built-ins.

I have several Pinterest boards where I have collected images of my dream home.  Not surprisingly, most contain images of books.  I have gathered together a few of my favorites to show the many different ways to incorporate books into your home.  I am not a fan of color coding books – so that only pretty red covers are allowed in the house, or taking the time to recover books in plain paper, or turning books spine inward, all of which seems to send out in big letters “I DON’T ACTUALLY READ THEM – THEY ARE JUST FOR LOOKS.”

Well, I DO actually read them, or at least plan to read all of them. I don’t have a lot of free time right now, but soon…..

Looking at the photos you may come to see a tendency towards English country or French country.  That’s me.  Thus the tea AND coffee.


Books are meant for reading nooks. A drawer nearby is helpful for bookmarks and pens. A good reading lamp and footstool are essential!
I love this room and dream of having it be my own little sanctuary someday. Reading a book by the fireplace is heaven.
What could have been a long, boring wall has been vastly improved by adding built-in bookshelves and a storage cabinet. I love how it frames the wide doorway.
Placing bookshelves on either side of a fireplace is fairly traditional, but note how they are set back away from the heat and smoke of the flames, which won’t do your books any favors.
This clever person added two ready-made shelves on either side of the bed to create a nook. The curtains in front of the shelves hide the contents and creates a luxurious look. Only thing missing? Books. I would add a small bookshelf on either side facing towards the bed for easy access.
The dark paint on the bookshelves and added swing-arm lamps create a library atmosphere that is romantic.
Who needs a headboard when you’ve got so many old books to use as a focal point? The swing-arm lamps are perfect for reading in bed.
A seldom used dining room can double as a library with reading desk right there and handy.
Use that space below windows to create shelving. The natural light makes for a great spot to read.
I do like this room even though they color-coded it, but it all seems to work so well with the rustic wood ceiling and vintage books.
A short bookshelf below the window can double as a window seat. And what a view!
The bistro look. I love the little corner nook they’ve created using facing painted bookshelves and a table for two.
I love the personality painted woodwork brings to a room!
A completely different look with using painted woodwork by using a contrasting color on the back wall of the bookshelf.

And lest we forget, a place for treasured cookbooks! Such an adorable seating area. Pull down a cookbook, sit and figure out what to make for dinner that night…

Fractured Fairy Tales

As a child who grew up in the 60s and was slightly warped by watching Bullwinkle cartoons, I have an affinity for fractured fairy tales.

I used to volunteer a lot at my children’s elementary school library and gathered a list of favorites, but I’ve added a few I might need to check out to buy for future grandchildren.  If you enjoy reading to children and appreciate a funny story, check these out:

Goldilocks and the 3 Hares, by Heidi Petach (my daughter loved this one!)

Goldilocks Returns, by Lisa Campbell Ernst

3 Spinning Fairies, by Lisa Campbell Ernst

Very Little Red Riding Hood, by Heapy & Heap

Little Red Cowboy Hat, by Susan Lowell

Ninja  Red Riding Hood, by Corey Rosen Schwartz

A Bean, a Stalk, and a Boy Named Jack, by William Joyce

The Cowboy and the Blackeyed Pea, by Tony Johnston

Cindy Ellen, by Susan Lowell

Cinder Edna, by Ellen Jackson

Dinorella, by Pamela Duncan

3 Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig, by Eugene Trivizas

Dusty Locks and the 3 Bears, by Susan Lowell

Prince Cinders, by Babette Cole

Seriously, Cinderella is SO Annoying!, by Trisha Speed Shaskan

Trust Me, Jack’s Beanstalk Stinks!, by Eric Braun

Cinder-Elly, by Frances Minters

The Trial of the Big Bad Wolf, by Liam Farrell

The Very Smart Pea and the Princess, by Mini Grey

True Story of the 3 Little Pigs, by Jon Scieszka

Goldilocks and the 3 Dinosaurs, by Mo Willems