A Day in the Life

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When Bird is the Word moved from just a glimmer in my eye to a living, breathing part of my everyday life, I promised myself I would start an interview series. A series that follows some of my favorite people around for a day, chronicling their lives, their work and their beautiful spirits. And I’m finally making good on that promise. We’re on to our fourth Day in the Life interview today, and boy oh boy, is it a good one. See the other interviews, here.

Maija was a regular at the restaurant I used to work at. I’d see her almost daily, usually accompanied by a friend dressed nearly as well as she was. She seemed vibrant and alive, appearing to me, to be glowing with some secret to living that none of the rest of us knew. And then one day, we became friends on Instagram. I wish I could say the rest was history, and we were thick as thieves from that point on. But in reality, this interview was the first time I’d really spent any time with her. I’d watched the birth of her illustration business online and was so intrigued about the person behind it all. The person I’d made breakfast for 47,000 times. And so I emailed her. And we set up the interview.

And if anyone ever lived up to the hype of nice things said about them, it’s Maija. She’s just so cool. So incredibly poised. Assured of who she is, yet completely open to who she will become. She’s only 23, but strangely has a very grandmotherly wisdom about her. If your grandma was a beautiful, free-sprited, young artist. I feel like the term “old soul,” is pretty cliche at this point, but if ever there was one, it’s her. Spending the day with her sure made me wish I’d had her grace and self-awareness at that age. At 23 I was kneck-deep in a full-blown quarter life crisis, completely unsure of who I was or what I wanted.

Within a few hours of talking and taking photos, we had talked about our businesses, families, romantic relationships, mental health, you name it. I had a true Anne of Green Gables moment sitting across the room from her going, “this girl is a true bosom friend.” After only a few hours together! It’s not too terribly often that I encounter someone with the same zest for cutting the crap and telling it like it is. Though she seems to do it with a grace I’ve never managed to master. She doesn’t waste any time with fluff, and makes no apologies for herself. Chalks her mistakes up to learning. Doesn’t mind being picky and waiting for things to happen in their own time. She’s truly wise beyond her years.

Which is why I’m so thrilled to get to share her with you today. To share her growing business and the journey she’s been on since it began. So funny (and fun!) to watch someone go through the same process you did. Working another job, while doing your thing on the side. Trying to decide when to dive in. Having all these crazy things just happen and trying to wrap your mind around them. I feel like I can see where she’s going and it is going to be good. So instead of gushing any longer about this sweet person, I’ll very proudly share with you A Day in the Life with Maija Rebecca.


Who are you?
Maija (pronounced MAYA) Rebecca Kellner-Rode. I’ve grown to love the uniqueness of my Latvian/Scandinavian name, though so many people mispronounce it. No one else will ever be me.

I’m a Sister, Daughter, Best friend. Illustrator, Designer and Tasting Room Associate.

I’m an artist in it’s entirety. I’m a dreamer and I love dreaming up possibilities and making them happen. The way I view things is through a design lens, I always have. Though I used to feel that my creative side wasn’t “important” enough work, that it wouldn’t change the world, I feel like it’s finally coloring everything I do.

Where do you live?
McMinnville, Oregon. I was born and raised in Alaska, but I’ve lived in Oregon for six years. I feel much more at home here because I’ve chosen to live here. The community is incredible. I can walk into any store downtown and know the owners.

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What do you love most about where you live?
The people. The area in general. I feel like I get to be immersed in a culture of food, wine and art. It’s very inspiring and allows people the freedom to create. People are here because they want to experience those three things. I love that I’ve been able to grow with this community.

I love that we are so close to Portland, so I can go into the city and get rejuvenated, but then come back to the country.

What does a normal day in your life look like?
I usually wake up around 6:45 a.m., shower and get ready for a day at the winery, if I’m working that day. I usually take around two hours for breakfast to eat, answer emails, reflect on the day. It’s me time.

If I’m working at Sokol Blosser, I head there around nine. It’s beautiful. An incredible landscape right through the windows. It never fails to take my breath away. Especially seeing that “golden hour,” every day. I love to just BS with my co-workers and get to know these people that come in from all over the world. Not to mention sell a product I’m really proud of. Lately I’ve been doing a lot more design related to merchandising. Putting together some pretty amazing displays with local products. Doing everything with my two hands. It’s wonderful.

On my days off, that’s when I’m really able to do what I want to be doing. I still get up pretty early, make coffee, check emails, grab my computer and do edits in bed. That’s the dream. Being tucked in your cozy bed, doing what you love. That’s when you know you’re doing the right thing.

I usually spend the early hours of the day at my desk working on illustrations; scanning them in digitally, reconstructing, redesigning and refining them. Sometimes I head into town, grab some coffee at my favorite coffee shop and have a meeting or two with cleints. In the evenings, my brother David and I usually cook dinner. I love to cook. It’s my way of letting down, and we (David + roommate) all usually eat dinner together and have a glass of wine. We show each other our latest projects and give feedback and encouragement.

And then, I usually head upstairs to my room and get back to it. Working on designs, social networking, checking emails and setting meetings. I love it.

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How did you get into what you do?
It’s a funny story.

I graduated from college about two years ago. I’d gone to college to get an education, not a job. So I studied sociology. I loved being able to understand how our society works and how I fit into that. How I could impact the world to make it more beautiful. Throughout college I mentored high school students and figured I would be a teacher or end up somewhere in the mentoring realm or do non-profit work. I even had a job lined up at a local school district when I graduated. But instead, I went on a solo trip to Europe.

I spent a month and a half there between arrival and departure. Needless to say I had time for a lot of self-reflection. A lot of time to think.

And I realized three things. 1) I knew I wanted to be in McMinnville. 2) The lack of creativity in my life. I wasn’t experiencing or developing in that area because I felt guilty, because being creative wasn’t necessary, wasn’t going to change the world. But that needed to change. 3) I was very reassured that love and light, God, whatever you want to call it, was real. Love is the core. And that translates to everything. It was really a profound realization for me.

Life is an incredible miracle. The fact that humans even exist is just crazy. And that means anything is possible. I realized if you want something to happen, and put your whole heart into it, anything can happen. If you are following your heart, you will feel satisfied and people will see that and want to support what you’re doing.

So I came back and got a job where I knew I would have free time to explore what I wanted to do. I had zero illustration training, I’d never drawn. I had all these ideas of botanicals floating around in my head and I just needed to get them out. So I started to sketch. And one day at a cafe, this couple from Hood River came over and asked me for one. They said they thought I’d be famous one day and wanted a piece of my work. It made a huge impact on me. This was just two weeks after I’d begun sketching.

And everything just sort of snowballed from there. I started drawing more, people were very reassuring. Chelsey Nichol, owner of a local letterpress shop, gave me a big boost when she asked me to illustrate a whole line for food blogger Beth Kirby. I really got to learn the process of doing a commissioned piece and it shaped me and my work. I’ve had to learn to draw things I’d never drawn before. A chicken. A pinecone. Every time someone hires me to do something, it’ll very often be the first time I’ve ever drawn it.

As this process has unfolded, I’ve started to hone in on my style. And one thing has led to another. That first project became a website, which became business cards, and merchandise, and now I have invoices and am putting money away for retirement. It’s pretty surreal.

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What do you like most about it? What inspires you?
Being able to put my creative sensibility to use. Creating logos, branding, labels and assisting in other people’s businesses growing. I feel useful. Like I can really help.

And it’s pretty great knowing something that’s so intuitive to who I am, people really respond to. Being able to do something that makes me feel like what I’m doing is what I’m 100% supposed to be doing. I’ve always had working for myself in the back of my mind and I love being able to meet with people and help their vision come to life.

Favorite thing to illustrate/design?
Sometimes the most mundane things. Leaves, branches, weeds. I think there is such beauty in what we often overlook. It provides depth and life to view those things as pleasing. I love to draw botanicals. But I also love a new challenge, something I’ve never done before.

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Favorite illustrators/designers?
June Letters. Katt Frank. Her illustrations are simple, but really charming.

I’m really inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe, her whole persona towards art is really great. I read a quote of hers a few years ago, about focusing on the seemingly insignificant details of flowerrs, and thought, “Holy shit, that’s powerful. If people aren’t doing this, I’m going to do it.”

What do you like to do on a NOT so normal day?
Dance. Be outside. Go to to coast. Go out to eat. Have leisurely meals. Go to the city. Concerts. Music shows.

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Thank you so much Maija, you are such a beautiful human and I can’t wait to spend more time together.

If you are interested in doing a Day in the Life interview, please get in touch.

A New Season

Us

I’ve had a terrible time trying to write this post. Everytime I sit down at my computer, my list of 1,437 to-do’s pops into my head and criticizes me for wasting time blogging. Everything I write sounds trite and the tick-tock of my watch seems to be all that I can hear. There is not enough time in the day lately.

This fall (and now winter) have been unexpectedly full. I anticipated a slow down after the rush of summer events, but I have stayed incredibly (and wonderfully) busy. I wish I could properly put into words how much joy this has brought me and how grateful I am. As I’ve started to look back over the last year, I’m absolutely overwhelmed by the success of Bird is the Word and the (often unrealistic) personal goals and benchmarks that have somehow been met. What a crazy, magical ride! And it’s all thanks to you! Thank you for supporting me and following along on this crazy adventure.

Because we can’t seem to get enough of crazy adventures, amidst all of our busyness this year, we’ve also managed to make some pretty big decisions that we are excited to finally share with you!

First, in about a week, we will be picking up the newest member of our family. A sweet, little, eight week old chocolate lab named Cash.

Cash Martin | Bird is the Word (1 of 1)

A few people have been surprised by this announcement, as I’ve never really been an animal person, but for some reason when Taylor and I began talking about it about a year ago, it just clicked and started to seem like the best idea in the world. And now, he’ll be the first to tell you, that I’m absolutely, over the moon, out of this world thrilled to bring our little guy home. I’ve been reading all my puppy books, planning our training methods and gathering supplies for the last couple months while we searched for our little dude. And once we found him, we’ve been visiting once a week to give him love and watch him grow.

I know there’ll be accidents and chewing, middle of the night wake up calls and trips to the vet. I know he’ll get into mischief, roll in the mud and grow much faster than I’d like him to. I know it will be a lot of work and require a lot of patience. But the combination of working from home and Taylor being pretty occupied with grad school has resulted in a lot of alone time for me. And I’m so looking forward to having somebody around to join me on walks, keep me company while I work and share my daily life with. Get ready to see a LOT of puppy pictures around these parts. You’ve been warned.

The second bit of news, which I have waited what feels like FOREVER to share, is that the same day we pick up Cash, we’ll be moving this operation just across the valley to a beautiful old farmhouse near Silverton.

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Just over a year ago, we sold our house and moved north to be closer to both of our jobs. We shed a good deal of our worldly possessions, moved into a tiny apartment and have thoroughly enjoyed the free time and financial flexibility of a simpler life. We were able to travel quite a bit, take off for the weekend whenever we wanted and spend very little time worrying about caring for our home. Footloose and fancy free.

But about six months into our year of no-responsibilities, Taylor and I realized that while we were enjoying our new found freedoms, we’d both started to long for somewhere that truly feels like home. We never really felt settled in our first house, or in the community, and even though we have a ton of friends in the Newberg area and have loved living close to them, it still didn’t feel quite right to put down roots here.

So, when we found out last Christmas that the sweet little lady who owned our dream house out on the family farm had passed away, we both started to dream a little. And when the family farm purchased the house and property, and told us they intended to rent it out, we started to dream a little more. And around June, those dreams turned into conversations, which turned into plans, and before we knew it, we were ripping up carpet and painting every square inch of that beautiful old place.

All that to say, we’re moving into the most beautiful house in the world, one I’ve dreamt of living in almost as long as I’ve loved my husband, and while it won’t be “ours,” it’ll be ours for now and that’s more than enough.

How does this affect Bird is the Word, you ask? Well, it really doesn’t. I’m completely mobile and it’ll actually make things easier on my end, as I won’t have to make a trip to storage every time I have an event. I’ll have a real office, plenty of space for all my equipment and loads of inspiration right outside my window.

So, now that we’re all caught up and not holding back any more secrets, I’ve got to get back to packing like a madwoman. Thank you for your love and support during this last season of life and I can’t wait to share the new one with you, too! Here’s to creaky farmhouses and fuzzy puppies! Bring it on December.

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Big thanks to my new friend Meredith Bacon for capturing us (and our new home!) so beautifully.

Sweet Potato + Celery Root Gratin

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Last night the Fab Five and families gathered for our third annual Friendsgiving. Besides looking forward to an evening spent with the people I love the most, I was extra excited about the gathering this year because I didn’t have the flu. Last year I spent the whole night restricted to a couch in the corner, fighting the chills and pretending like every bone in my body didn’t ache. But this year, this year I was going to eat. And play with all my little nieces. And drink wine. And Live. It. Up.

I dished out food assignments last week and gave myself two vegetable sides and drinks. I’ve been re-reading French Women Don’t Get Fat, the book that truly began my love affair with cooking, and vegetable cookery has been at the forefront of my mind lately. We picked up our last CSA haul of the season last Wednesday and I knew I had a good foundation for Thanksgiving sides already stowed away in my cupboards.

My first dish was two acorn squash and one delicata, sliced in little moons and roasted to perfection. I made a warm bacon maple vinaigrette and topped the dish with a few leftover roasted pepitas from last week’s dinner.

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My second dish was Sweet Potato and Celery Root Crumble, a favorite from food blogging great, Cannelle et Vanille. Except I had it in my head I was going to make a gratin, and so I decided to change up the recipe a little bit. It turned out so lovely, with such great taste and texture. I was convinced there would be a bunch left since it was one of the “healthier” options amongst the spread of treats, but when I dropped my plate off in the sink, the pan was nearly empty! What do you know? Being gluten-free and a little lighter, this is such a great option for a Thanksgiving side. You could even sub out the rice and quinoa flours for regular, but I don’t think this dish needs it. The nuttier flours seem to only add to the already autumnal flavor.

While Thanksgiving is definitely not at the top of my list of favorite holidays, I have to say I’m finding it pretty hard to be a scrooge about the whole thing this year. Good food, great friends and family and a day centered around both. Taylor and I both have so much to be thankful for this year, so don’t tell anyone, but I’m kind of looking forward to Thursday. What are your plans for the great day of feasting!?

Sweet Potato + Celery Root Gratin
Author: 
 
Ingredients
Crumble:
  • ½ cup superfine brown rice flour.
  • ½ cup quinoa flour.
  • ¼ cup walnuts.
  • ¼ cup quinoa flakes.
  • 30 g pecorino romano cheese, finely grated.
  • 1 clove garlic, grated.
  • 2 cloves chopped fresh parsley.
  • leaves from 3 sprigs thyme.
  • ½ teaspoon salt.
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.
  • 140 g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces.
Celery Root and Sweet Potato Filling:
  • 1 small yellow onion, minced.
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced.
  • 1 medium celery root, peeled and diced.
  • 2 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced.
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley.
  • 1¼ teaspoon salt.
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.
  • ¾ cup vegetable broth.
  • 30 g pecorino cheese, finely grated.
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  2. To make the crumble, whisk together the first ten ingredients in a large bowl. Add the soft butter and, using your hands, work the butter into the flour mixture until there are small pieces of butter throughout the flour.
  3. Slice the sweet potato and celery root in thin discs on a mandoline. Layer them in a single layer in a 9x13 pan, reserving the extra. Top with grated cheese, salt + pepper, parsley and thyme.
  4. Top with about half of the crumble mixture.
  5. Repeat the layering process. Top with the second half of the crumble. Add about ¾ cup of vegetable stock to the pan.
  6. Bake for 40-45 minutes, covered, until filling is fork tender. Remove cover and bake for 5-10 minutes until topping is golden brown.

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Baby Boy Shower

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This weekend my best friends and I threw a shower for my sister-in-law, Melissa. She’s due in early January with my very first nephew and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

When my niece was born in June 2012, I had no idea what it meant to be an Auntie. I was excited, sure. I had camped out in the hospital waiting room for nearly 24 hours, sure. But I was completely unprepared for the way that little squish would instantly steal my heart. For the way she would transform family gatherings, bring new joy to every holiday and light up my world with early morning phone calls. I never really liked kids that much until she came along and blew my heart wide open.

So needless to say, I’m pretty pumped that there’s another one on the way. And a boy this time. Little boys are just about the sweetest creatures in the entire world, melting my heart in a way that even the cutest little girl can’t. I’m praying this little dude will be an extra chunky, smile-laden, mud-loving little moose. And I can’t wait to snuggle the crap out of him.

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When we started to plan for the shower, we knew we didn’t want to do anything too theme-y and wanted to provide decorations that Melissa could use for the nursery. She’d mentioned she was going for a wooden/old-fashioned toy kind of idea, so we took that and ran with it. With some fresh, simple flowers, a smattering of toys, some of my BW props and an amazing Hot Air Balloon mobile (and garland!) made by Whitney, I think we pulled it all together pretty nicely.

For the food, I tried to assemble a few of Melissa’s favorites, nothing too heavy. I mean it’s almost Thanksgiving, you know? She’s always been a devotee of chocolate mousse, so I knew these little pots were the perfect treat. And she’s not the only one who can’t seem to get enough of this pasta salad. I was pretty happy with the spread and have been enjoying a few leftovers since!

Menu:
Oven BBQ Chicken
Kale Pasta Salad
Winter Fruit Salad with Vanilla Rooibos Dressing
Chocolate Pots de Creme with Sea Salt

Melissa, from living with you in a glorified closet, to watching you become this gracious, beautiful mama. You are amazing. Thanks for letting us share this journey with you. I can’t believe how lucky this little dude is to be your son. Love you!!!

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And a huge thank you to Aunt Marie, who let us use her stunningly gorgeous home to gather in. It was a hit!

Cottage Pie

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Last night was the fifth of our six client appreciation dinners. I had spent the entire day of prep floating on air. Listening to music, shrouded in my favorite apron, feeling super inspired by the weather and thrilled with my menu. And as I stirred and chopped, whisked and boiled, everything tasted and smelled divine. My kitchen experiences are not always this ideal, but when they are, it’s something I truly relish. I woke up this morning exhausted, but exhilarated. Last night was good.

I’d really been feeling the drizzly, blustery days we’ve been having. The cold air and grey skies pushing me towards my favorite comfort foods, and I just knew that the menu had to echo those desires. It would be all too easy to rely on next week’s holiday for inspiration, but since Thanksgiving isn’t really my favorite, I wanted to go in a different direction. Fog, mist and damp cold. Warm, simple, comforting dishes. Pretty soon I arrived at- what I thought- was the perfect solution. England! I’ll do a meal inspired by some of my favorite traditional British dishes.

The crowning glory of the feast was a spin on a shepherd’s pie, but with grass fed beef. A cottage pie. Now shepherd’s (or cottage) pie, may not sound like the most gourmet dish in all the land, but that’s exactly what I love to do. Take a simple, comforting recipe and kick it up a few notches. I served the pies in these adorable little cocottes and every single one came back empty. And today, for lunch, Taylor and I sat on the couch and devoured the reheated leftovers. The flavors are so rich and savory. Juicy sauce made with tomatoes I canned myself, pumped up with balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire. Creamy mashed potatoes, flecked with scallions sautéed in butter and dotted with a few frozen peas. But it’s the cheese, OH THE CHEESE, that really makes this baby. Go find yourself the best aged, smoked cheddar you can find and crumble it all over this dish. Oh my word. I want smoked cheddar on everything from now on.

If you are looking for the perfect seasonal, comforting, yet not Thanksgiving-y dish to make this fall/winter. THIS. IS. IT. Trust me. And oddly enough, this is something that I would never have laid a finger upon in my former life. Boy would I have been missing out!

Cottage Pie | Bird is the Word (6 of 7)

Cottage Pie
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 3 russet potatoes, chopped
  • small handful frozen peas
  • 1 tsbp butter
  • 2 scallions, sliced on a diagonal
  • ⅓ cup milk/cream to moisten
  • 3oz smoked aged cheddar, broken into chunks
  • pinch smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, peeled, roughly chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled, crushed
  • 2 small carrots, peeled, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 celery stalk, trimmed, chopped into small pieces
  • 14oz canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tsp Tabasco
  • pinch smoked paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • splash balsamic vinegar
  • small handful fresh flatleaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 lb ground grass fed beef
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425F. For the potatoes, heat a pan of salted water, adding the potatoes while the water is cold and bring gently to the boil, then simmer until the potatoes are nearly cooked through, about 15-20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, for the beef mixture, heat half the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and gently fry the chopped onion, garlic, carrots and celery for 5-10 minutes, or until softened.
  3. Add the remaining beef mixture ingredients except for the beef and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat slightly and simmer for 4-5 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Keep warm.
  4. Heat the remaining olive oil in a separate frying pan over a medium heat, add the beef in batches, if necessary, and fry until golden-brown. Stir the tomato sauce into the beef.
  5. When the potatoes for the champ topping are almost done, add the frozen peas and cook for a few more minutes until the peas are tender.
  6. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat, then gently fry the scallions until softened. Add the milk and heat through.
  7. Drain the potatoes and peas and mash roughly. Add the warm milk mixture to the potatoes and continue to mash until combined but still chunky.
  8. Spoon the beef mixture into a medium pie dish and top with the champ. Scatter over the cheese and smoked paprika.
  9. Place the dish onto a baking sheet and bake the pie for 25-30 minutes, or until the potato is golden-brown.

 

BW Gift Guide 2014

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I had a difficult time making a Christmas list this year. My mom, being the type who likes to get her shopping done well ahead of the holiday rush, usually demands the list earlier than the average bear. But I found myself at a loss.

With a small apartment packed to the hilt and a storage unit that looks much the same, there’s not much that I need. And at first, I felt bad that I wouldn’t be able to provide any desperate need to be filled. But then, then I thought to myself, for once you could ask for something you want. Something frivolous that would make your heart beat just a little faster. Something you’d rarely, if ever, buy for yourself. What a treat! And so, I give you the 2014 BW Holiday Gift Guide, filled with items that aren’t entirely utilitarian, but simply make my heart go pitter pat.

1. Storage Jars, $27 for 3. There’s nothing that makes me grin like dry goods in pretty jars.
2. Sunday Suppers, $23. I’ve followed this blog for a few years and would love to be able to hold the beautiful photos and recipes in my hand, instead of just drool over them on the screen.
3. At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen, $25. Beautiful, inspiring, and healthy to boot. Sign me up. Afterall, one can never have enough cookbooks.
4. Rifle Paper Co Appointment Calendar, $26. I’m pretty sure writing 2015’s BW events in this baby would be the best thing ever.
5. Pastry Blender, $6. I’m kind of obsessed by making the perfect pie crust, and convinced it can only be done by hand. With a beautiful, wooden handle.
6. Women’s Beets T-Shirt, $25. Gray, beets. Enough said.
7. Le Creuset Spatula Spoon, $12. These are the best spatulas ever. I’ve had mine for 3-4 years and they look brand new. Gentle-women prefer white.
8. Jadeite Mixing Bowl Set, $65. Swoon.
9. Le Creuset Cast-Iron Skillet, $99.95. I’ve fallen hard for cast-iron and the blue coated enamel is just too-too.
10. Duralex Picardie Drinking Glasses, set of 6, $16.88. Though I love a good mason jar, I’ve had my eye on these drinking glasses for years.
11. Steele Laundry Basket, $67. Dirty clothes never looked so good.
12. Textured Stripe Throw Pillow, $50. Straight to my couch please.
13. Pendleton Junior Wool Dopp Kit, $60. Nothing is more luxurious in my mind than a snazzy overnight bag. Pendleton forever.

And if this guide just doesn’t do it for you, here is last year’s, which is chock full of just as many covetable items sure to make your loved ones smile. Let’s do this thing holiday season!

This post was not sponsored by any of the companies or products above. All recommendations are based on personal opinion or experience.

Holiday Table Workshop

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A couple weeks ago, on a windy Sunday afternoon, a bunch of awesome ladies gathered at Willamette Valley Pie Co. and let Katie Davis and I, stand up in front of them and wax poetic about our passions.

First, Katie taught the group how to make a holiday table arrangement using locally sourced flowers, foraged elements from around her yard and a thrifted vessel. She shared her inspirations, her methods, how she is constantly motivated to keep learning and how investing time and effort into making beautiful things is worth it. It was such a treat to watch her assemble a breathtaking arrangement and so fun to see one of the ladies as she realized she was taking it home. Thank you so much for sharing your talents Katie!

Next, I got to talk a little bit about easy, inexpensive table decor. I shared my “secret” list of places to find simple items that really make a table set up. I encouraged saving money on things like linens, using mismatched vintage dishes and flatware, and splurging on special details, like place cards or menus. We also talked about putting a fresh spin on classic favorites. Here’s a list of recipes I shared; all ones I’m dying to try. Then, as a group, we assembled and snacked on one of my favorite holiday side dishes; this quinoa and sweet potato salad.

Once we had our fill of salad, it was time for the good stuff. Pie. WVPCO set out a lovely spread for the ladies to sample and even sent three of them home with a free holiday pie! Not to mention mini-pies for everyone. What could be better than pie for everyone?

Despite the fact that public speaking is far from my favorite activity, I really love these workshops where a bunch of ladies come together and talk about things that make us happy. It’s good for the soul.

Thank you for hosting WVPie! Thank you for sharing your talents with us Katie! And thanks to everyone who came. Let’s do it again!

A Day in the Life

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When Bird is the Word moved from just a glimmer in my eye to a living, breathing part of my everyday life, I promised myself I would start an interview series. A series that follows some of my favorite people around for a day, chronicling their lives, their work and their beautiful spirits. And I’m finally making good on that promise. We’re on to our third Day in the Life interview today, and believe you me, it’s a good one. See the other interviews, here.

I have four best friends. They’re wonderful. They complete me in so many ways. We have shared history. Memories. We’re a part of each other’s daily lives. But they are also very different than me. Wildly varied interests and talents, quite a range of taste and preferences.

Which is why, when I first met Kira, I was so very pleasantly surprised to find someone who seemed to understand exactly how my brain works. We have an insane amount in common. She too prefers the company of books to humans. She too would rather enjoy a rainstorm next to a fire, over a day at the beach. She too earmarks the pages of L.L.Bean and scours thrift stores for oversized vintage sweaters. She too obsesses over the curation of her Pinterest page and loses sleep over the aesthetic consistency of her Instagram account. She has this insane way of capturing (in photos), the exact way I see the world. When she shoots my food, it looks just like I’ve shot it myself- only better. And when she shoots me, I somehow come out looking like the best version of myself.

The funny part is, our personalities couldn’t be more opposite. She is probably one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met, and I…well I’ve not often been accused of sweetness. She is kind and soft-spoken, and I’m rather blunt. She is Jane Bennet. And I am Elizabeth. But something so magical happens when we work together and there is no one I’d rather be creative with. She’s inspired me countless times, given me invaluable advice on small business ownership and taught me how to take a decent photo.

Everything about her is beautiful. Her face, her work, her spirit. She’s going to be the most wonderful mama in the world. And I’m so absolutely thrilled to share her with you today. With all the admiration in my heart, A Day in the Life with Kira Noble.


Who are you?
I feel like I’m in a weird growing stage. Going from a girl to a woman. I’m growing a baby, afterall.

I’m a creative. I love beautiful things. Portraits. I’m a photographer. And then, I have a bunch of relationship titles; I’m a wife. A mama. A sister. A friend.

Where do you live?
I live in one of the most beautiful places on earth: McMinnville, Oregon. We live on the edge of town and I love to walk to where things are quiet and open. I need that. But I also love walking downtown. We have one of the cutest, quaintest little downtowns.

What do you love most about where you live?
I love how close we are to the people we love. We used to live a ways away and now we get to see them more regularly. I love that we are close to farm country, open fields, windy roads.

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What does a normal day in your life look like?
My days change by the time of year. In the summer, it’s busy season, so I’m shooting weddings all the time. But in the fall and winter, things are a bit slower.

I usually wake up slowly- I’m not a morning person. Read some emails, read some blogs, write on my own if I’m going to. Browse Pinterest. Drink tea. If I can manage to stay awake, I spend most of the afternoon editing photos. But lately, my afternoons have included quite a few naps.

Sometimes I run errands, often having to do with packaging up my photos to send to clients. I put a lot of energy into making the packages look just the way I want them to. I’ll usually grab a coffee while I’m out, walk around, stretch my legs. Afternoons are when I shoot my own creative projects, which I try to do in the slower months to stay inspired. Whether it’s a craft or simply browsing around until I find something interesting to photograph.

Lately, the evenings have been consumed with church activities, but usually I’ll make dinner and my husband Matt and I will just hang out.

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How did you get into what you do?
I really love how I got into photography. I didn’t realize how much I liked it, but Matt did.

When we were first dating, he noticed I loved to take photos and bought me my first camera. He actually asked me if I wanted a camera or an engagement ring for Christmas, and I said a camera. I wasn’t ready. But he didn’t mind. Instead, he bought me the camera and wrote me this awesome letter when he gave it to me. The letter said, “You’ve been given this incredible gift, and I want you to promise me that you’ll use it to bring joy to other people’s lives.”

In 2008, a friend asked me to take her portraits and I realized that was where I really connected. That’s what I liked to do. I was terrified of doing weddings, I had no formal training, but I knew I wanted to. So despite having no experience and feeling like a fraud, I just booked one. And one of my favorite things is that Matt has shot every single one with me since then.

Though I was still in school at the time, thinking I was going to be a history teacher, as I got closer to graduation, I realized I was dreading the thought of doing anything besides photography. Matt asked me, “What’s the worse that could happen,” so I made a website, made it real, and then jumped in with both feet in 2011. Matt is the backbone of what I do. My encouragement. Voice of reason. He’s really blossomed creatively and it’s been so fun to watch him take on my vision and passion. Our photos are so cohesive, you can hardly tell who’s taken what. He’s really an incredible photographer.

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What do you like most about it? What inspires you?
Studying history in school and becoming a photographer doesn’t feel like such an accident. Being a photographer, you’re documenting people’s personal history- days or times they want to remember the most. It’s exciting to capture those things as they unfold. It’s an honor. And very gratifying.

I’m inspired by beautiful things; joy, emotion. I get paid to be there and intimately watch their most special moments. Sometimes I think I probably remember more than they do. I also feel like I get to know people really well, even if it’s just over the course of one day. It’s important, beautiful work. A wide, ongoing and yet complete story.

My love for photos also spills over into our personal life. My camera is almost always with me, and if it’s not for some reason, I feel physical pain wishing I could capture whatever it is I’m seeing. Matt and I have documented our lives together so well, and I’m so inspired when I look back on all the things we’ve done. I wish that I could look back on my own parents’ lives the way our kids will be able to.

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Favorite thing to photograph?
People. People celebrating.

Taking portraits. Trying to capture what I see of who they are.

Favorite photographers?
My friends Paige Jones and Nakalan McKay. I’m always inspired by them.

Carl Zoch. His portraits are insane. Rylee Hitchner. She has a gorgeous point of view and shoots film, which is just awesome. Vivian Maier. Her self-portraits are stunning.

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What do you like to do on a NOT so normal day?
Drink coffee. Roast coffee and make it fresh at home.

Read. Some online, but especially books. Re-reading favorites. Anne of Green Gables. Pride and Prejudice. I love the stories and characters and I’ve read them so much, I feel like I know them.

I love to spend time with Matt. We spend a lot of time talking. Whether it’s walking and talking or going out to eat, we love to just pick each other’s brains. It doesn’t happen all that often, but it’s simple and feeds my soul.

I’m learning to play guitar when I have time to myself, but I expect that time to myself is going to significantly change once Eleanor arrives.

If you are interested in doing a Day in the Life interview, please get in touch.

Saffron Fields Client Dinner

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Last Thursday marked the fourth of our six Client Appreciation Dinners for the Rogers. I can’t believe how quickly this fall is flying by! This dinner was extra fun for a couple of reasons. First, Andrea and I got to work with an old friend (Katy!) who used to work with us at Community Plate. It was kind of nuts how the three of us just fell right back into the same old rhythm. The night was so smooth and easy. It was wonderful.

The second, was the fact that Saffron Fields has such a beautiful, modern tasting room, so different from a lot of the more “rustic” places we’ve been. I was inspired to write a more refined menu and kept the table decor a little more restrained than usual. I loved mixing it up and flexing my creative muscles in a different way.

Wednesday, the day before the dinner, as I stood in the kitchen prepping and slicing, the light dimmed and rain began to literally dump from the heavens. The sky turned that shade of gray that can only be found in Oregon and created an instant coziness in the warm kitchen. I found myself looking around and instantly a smile came to my face.

Who is this person that gets to spend cozy afternoons working with beautiful ingredients, creating gourmet meals that will be served with world class Oregon wines? How did I get here? How is this my life? My job? I’ll admit it’s not always sunshine and roses, and in reality, my job involves a lot of computer time and even more dirty dish washing, but there are a few days here and there, where I get to revel- even just for a few minutes- in that fact that I’m doing what I was made to do.

Thank you Rogers for hosting another smashing party. Thank you Andrea for your excellent company and even better service. And thank you Katy for being the social director and sharing your space and knowledge with all of us. It was such a wonderful evening, one I hope to repeat sometime very soon!

Menu
Balsamic Roasted Roots with Spinach Sauce
Chicory Salad with Roquefort, Apples and Walnuts
Red Wine Marinated Flat Iron Steak with Herb Roasted Potatoes
Candied Apple Ile Flottante

Holiday Table Workshop

I’m so very pleased to announce (albeit, a little late) this super fun workshop with two new friends! As we all know, the holidays can be a crazy whirlwind of food, family and stress. Come join us this Sunday, from 2-4 p.m. at Willamette Valley Pie Company in Salem, where we’ll help you simplify your celebrations!

PonderosaandThyme

The workshop will feature the talents of local florist Katie Davis, of Ponderosa and Thyme, who will be there showing us how to make a gorgeous, seasonal arrangement that you’ll have a chance to win! She’ll pass along some of her tips and tricks for creating simple arrangements out of materials that can easily be found in your neck of the woods, and guide us in the art of foraging.

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Bird is the Word will walk you through putting a fresh spin on classic holiday recipes, teach you how to make our favorite seasonal side dishes and talk about easy, affordable table decor. There’s no reason a beautiful table has to be complicated!

WVPCO

Finally, Willamette Valley Pie Company will be serving up a tasty pie buffet so you can sample all the season’s specialties. Everyone will go home with a mini pie of their own and WVPCO will also be raffling off free pies for you to enjoy in your holiday celebrations!

Goodie baskets, new friends and free pie. What more could you ask for?

Your $40/person fee includes:
-Demo of a holiday table arrangement and tips and tricks for creating your own at home. Plus a chance to win the arrangement that Katie will make during the demo.
-Instruction on seasonal side dishes and recipe ideas.
-Budget friendly holiday table decor ideas.
-Holiday Pie Giveaways and raffles!
-WVPCO Mini Pies, flower frogs and a stocked goodie bag for everyone!

Click here for more information and to RSVP! We can’t wait to see you there!