Mt. Evans!

Yeah. Here is a picture of Mike and I congratulating each other on making it across the parking lot without passing out. I posted this somewhere else and our friends all thought we hiked up Mt. Evans. It is 14 thousand feet. If you took Mt. Hood and stacked half of Mt. Washington on top of it that is how high Mt. Evans is. So no. We didn’t climb it. But thanks for thinking we are that in shape! This past weekend we took a rare trip together and visited a friend of ours in Colorado. Visiting Mt. Evans was our Sunday sight seeing event and we enjoyed it thoroughly.

Mike and I have been burning the candle at both ends. He has been out at User Experience group events and working on some creative endeavors. I have been traveling quite a bit. This weekend though, he will be traveling to Guadalajara for work and I will finally have a weekend at home to rest. I haven’t been home for the past five weekends in a row and I am really looking forward to it. I am, however, planning another trip for us. We are going to visit a dear friend of mine in Italy, then we are going to hop over to Ireland, where neither of us have been yet.

Other than that I’m in a bit of a funk. My friend passing has really made me drill down and think about what is really worth pursuing in life. I am forever grateful for having such a wonderful boyfriend and the dogs in my life are pure joy. Still, I don’t have any big goals set for myself and that is an odd and uncomfortable place for me to be. For now I will focus on traveling and being open to life’s experiences.

Chuck

My dear friend Chuck passed away last week after a battle with brain cancer. I have no words. He was an exceptional human being who left an impression on his friends and family and in the world. This past weekend I went to one of his memorial services which was held at Farm Sanctuary. I miss him. I miss his laughter, and humor, and friendship.

Here is a short video of some of the amazing work he did for Farm Sanctuary.

Perfect PDX Summer Evening, Strawberries, & Wafu

I went away to visit a friend this weekend and I had a spectacular time. Aside from exploring new places, enjoying other cultures, sampling unique foods, et. al., traveling really makes me appreciate my adopted home of Portland.

Since Mike and I were really busy the week before I left we made a date to have dinner with each other when I flew back into town Sunday. It turned out to be a perfect summer evening spent with my favorite person and had all the little quirky earmarks that make Portland such a great place to live.

We live in Southeast Portland in the Richmond neighborhood, but everyone refers to our location within Richmond as the Hawthorne district. We live smack in the middle of two busy streets – Hawthorne and Division. There is no shortage of shops and restaurants and services available on Hawthorne, but over the last year Division has started to become our “go-to” street for dining, drinking, shopping, etc. Some really wonderful restaurants in particular have popped up a handful of blocks away. Last night we finally tried Wafu.

It. Was. Spectacular.

A while back our favorite restaurant was a place called Fin. Every bite of food that went into our mouths we analyzed and discussed like obnoxious little idiots, but it was THAT AMAZING. When Fin closed it was a dark day for us. But Fin’s chef, Trent Pierce, decided to open Wafu, and last night while we were crying tears of joy over the delicious food and feeling like we had our beloved Fin back, he informed us that he was actually opening another restaurant in the back room of Wafu that would be much like Fin. Sobs of joy. You can read more about it here. As much as I love to cook I’m considering never cooking again and eating only at Wafu and its back room.*

After dinner Mike and I walked through our neighborhood to the grocery store to buy some ice cream. While I was away a mass of strawberries ripened and we decided to serve them over some ice cream. We took our time and strolled through our neighborhood, admired the houses and beautiful plants and flowers, ogled the community garden, cut through the park, and generally enjoyed the charm of South East Portland. Here are some pictorial highlights. Sorry about the crappy photography. I’ll do something about that one day.

The Strawberry Haul

The “Ice Cream”

The whole shebang.

The walk through the park which includes a kickball game in progress.

This lovely outfielder paired her uniform with a tulle tutu.

On the walk home is the lending tree.

And some peaches I harvested too.

*by the way, Wafu – like Fin – is wonderful about making modifications for food allergies. Most of the menu can be made gluten free and they accommodate dairy free and garlic free when needed too.

Oregon Country Fair – Food & Fun!

We are back! We had wonderful camp-mates and this year I worked some Registration Crew shifts with Mike, which I really enjoyed. I also got some sleep which is miraculous and not something I’ve come to expect when we are out there. And, of course, we got to hang out with some good people we don’t get to see often enough.

A lot of planning went into packing for a week of camping. No small amount of effort went into planning the food we would need until some of the vendors opened up. We opted for some salads. These are all gluten, dairy, and garlic free and pack well for picnics and in coolers. I’ve had friends ask for the recipes, but they were kind of made up on the fly by me. I’ll do my best to recreate them here. Nothing is exact in terms of measurements. It’s just a list of ingredients so you’ll have to get creative with the ratios although I’ve tried to estimate some things as a starting point.

Green Bean and Tempeh Salad

I used frozen tempeh for this one. I defrosted it and then broke it into chunks. I marinated it in olive oil, dried Greek oregano, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and finely diced onions. I then roasted it for about twenty minutes in a 400 degree oven, making sure to turn the pieces over halfway through; I like them to be slightly golden brown. I then washed, trimmed, and cut into bite sized pieces some fresh organic green beans and steamed them until cooked. Once the tempeh and green beans were both cooked I tossed them with a dressing made of Dijon mustard, olive oil, fresh squeezed lemon juice, freshly ground black pepper, some dried tarragon, some salt, and some fresh and finely minced parsley.  I have to confess that tempeh is not my favorite food, but truthfully this salad ended up being delicious. We will make it again.

Tuna and White Bean Salad

Every time I make this salad people devour it. Including us! Buy good canned tuna in olive oil. This will seem weird but I drain off the oil (I add it to my dogs’ food at mealtime as a treat for them). I like the fresher taste of good extra virgin olive oil in the salad. I throw the drained tuna in a bowl along with a half a can of rinsed cannellini  beans. Buy good beans so that they are creamy and not tough! I add some capers, some finely diced red onion, some fresh and finely minced parsley, some lemon juice, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Mix everything together and add enough extra virgin olive oil in to it all so that is is moist without being too oily. This salad is even better if it has had a day to sit in the refrigerator, but it’s a challenge to not gobble it up before then.

Gluten Free Tabbouleh

I make this like a traditional tabbouleh only instead of using bulger I use quinoa. Dice two Italian plum tomatoes. I like to pull the seeds out so there is less tomato liquid first, and then dice them. I add that to about one-and-a-half cups of cooked quinoa. I add some finely diced red onion, a healthy amount of fresh and finely diced parsley and about a third as much fresh and finely diced mint as the parsley. I then make a dressing of olive oil, dried Greek oregano (spring for the Dean & DeLuca brand – it’s the best I have found), lemon juice, salt, and pepper. I then toss the dressing in with the quinoa/onion/parsley/mint mixture. Done! Yum!

And last but not least…

Veggie Potato Salad

Boil your potatoes of choice (red is nice because you don’t need to peel them, but whatever you have on hand is fine too) and, if necessary, peel them. Dice them into medium sized chunks. I used two very large russets that were on our counter in danger of sprouting eyes. I also like to make this salad quickly while the potatoes are still hot. You need to be careful not to burn yourself peeling and dicing them, but I find the warmth of the potatoes makes the vegetables – particularly the green onion – blend better into the overall flavor of the salad. They also seem to absorb the dressing better when you start out warm. Chop up a red pepper, three ribs of celery, a handful of fresh parsley, and about three scallions – white and green parts – and add them to the potatoes. Drain one can of artichoke hearts, chop them in half and add them as well. I make a dressing of olive oil, apple cider vinegar, a bit of sugar, some dried dill weed, some salt, and some freshly ground black pepper. This salad can take a lot of dressing so don’t skimp! Another delicious salad that is not mayonnaise based so it travels well and the dill flavor really comes out if you let it sit in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.

So that’s it for my quick and tasty salads that travel in a cooler or picnic pack well. I hope you try one or two of them.

And for your viewing pleasure, a few pics from our time at the fair.

Mike with a weird expression on his face but this is pretty much what he looks like at fair (Superman Kilt!). Here he is eating a gluten free, vegan, chocolate and peanut butter cupcake. Yum!

Here are two pictures from one of the many parades.

My view from registration booth. The pregnant woman on the left, sprawled out and catching some shade, is the perfect visual representation of how freaking hot it was out there.

The coveted wrist bands and parking stickers (and my cute purple toes). Ooooh. Aaaaah.

Our friend John at the drum tower. This apparently wasn’t the day it came together there for him and the group, but it was the beginning. And it is always fun to see him out there. He is the guy in the cap, the orange shirt, and the tribal band tattoo on his bicep. Love him!

Our friend June Bug getting her wolf spirit on.

And a gratuitous picture of Mike in our camp (that’s our red tent behind him) looking cute 🙂

One of our friends is on the photography crew at fair and if you are on Facebook, and want to see more photos than I’ve posted above, you can see them here: http://www.facebook.com/OCF.Photos

Another Mostly Pictorial Update!

Man! I’ve been so busy and in the midst of it all I felt nothing was interesting enough to post on here; and isn’t that just a sad commentary on everything I have been doing. So I’m going to just update you quick and let the chips fall where they may.

We attended the Cider Summit here in Portland. It rained off and on for a good chunk of the day but that really didn’t stop the PDX-ers. After all if a little rain stopped all the fun there would never be any fun here. My favorite ciders of the day were Reverend Nat’s Hopricort (which I now can’t find anywhere – even at Bushwacker) and Sea Cider’s Prohibition (which sold out so fast I could not score a bottle). So, yay. Awesome.

I finally walked across the Hawthorne Bridge (instead of driving – it’s been on my mental want-to-do list).

We got a new duvet cover with shams. Hey, not exciting to you but I was pretty jazzed about it. Color! I’m still uncomfortable with color, but I’m trying to be all “blendy” with Mike’s tastes. The rug is the main issue. Eventually I think I will get over it. Eventually.

Still working on the giant painting (not a new pic – sorry).

We have been enjoying Oliver’s company and I now love him so much I don’t know how I’m going to let him go back to his home (stopthinkingaboutit, stopthinkingaboutit, stopthinkingaboutit, stopthinkingaboutit).

I got some adorable new shoes.

We had some cherries come in.

I stuffed some artichokes and they were amazing.

I bought a cactus to go in my Ponderosa mug (so awesome).

I baked my first ever strawberry rhubarb pie and it was delicious. It is gluten free and dairy free. One tip for handling gluten free pie crust – since it cracks and falls apart easily – is to take a cookie cutter and layer cutouts in a pretty way on top of the pie. In honour (check the spelling!) of Canada Day, on July 1, I went with the Maple Leaf design.

We are now getting ready to go the Oregon Country Fair. So much prep involved; the most taxing being the house cleaning for which I have taken an entire day off. I do this out of respect for our friend who will be house and dog sitting for us. Three dogs means a lot of cleaning. But I don’t care! If Oliver wants to stay he should just stay! STOPTHINKINGABOUTIT!

Here is my to get and to do list for the fair:

  • clean entire house
  • buy warm sleeping bag
  • Target Run!
  • figure out food for fair
  • return shoes (i.e. put that money back in your account so you can spend it at fair)
  • buy iron on letters and make a Masshole T-shirt
  • buy funky trim for jeans and then sew it on
  • buy extra freezer packs for the cooler
  • air out the tent
  • pick up allergy pills (remember to pack!)
  • do laundry
  • fix T-shirts that are too big
  • make a light up hat band (if time)

And because Serena and Oliver are in this montage I feel I have to also include a cute pic of my girl Emma (Serena photobombed!). This is what I wake up to every morning.

Ok! I’ll try to get some good pics at the fair to share with you when I get back!

 

Ugh. Back to work.

If you live in the U.S., and don’t work retail, then you enjoyed a long weekend in observance of Memorial Day. If you are like me then you also took Friday off and made it a four day weekend. I rented a house in Depot Bay, on the Oregon coast, with two girlfriends. On our last day we visited this more secluded area of the coast where we saw a whale up close in the bay and enjoyed the absolutely gorgeous weather and the crashing waves. Enjoy a short little taste in this video. I want to play this on a loop with the sound up high and pretend I’m still there.

Lazy Pictorial Post

I’ve been a slacker. Well, as far as posting is concerned. Life has been jam packed with activities. I hate to be lazy, but here is a mostly pictorial update of what has been going on lately.

We have been working in the garden. If you are new here, the yard is a bit large for us. We have been late to start this season and have spent a lot of time preparing beds and weeding the past few weeks (with help from friends thankfully!). While we have been working ourselves exhausted, this lovely artichoke decided to present itself in all of its purple, organic glory. I will be eating it tonight.

The yard is starting to really look good. Emma enjoys the late afternoon sun on the back deck and appreciates that she no longer has to poop in scratchy weeds. This picture is from last week. The yard looks even better now and there are tons of flowers.

We went to Stumptown Comic Fest 2012 where my fearless partner wore the Superman Kilt I made him for his birthday last year (also his Grover as Captain America Shirt). I think there might be more pictures of him from this event out there on the web. He was a bit of an attraction.

I bought a tiny comic for $ 1.00. The subject seemed appropriate considering we are in the PNW, but I really bought this because of the hand sewn binding. The staple method was rampant at this event and it hurt my soul.

We saw @CraigyFerg at the Aladdin Theater and he was funny. He is a lot less G-rated live (just a comment not a judgement – we like him either way).

That same night our little destroyer ate Mike’s phone (reason #997 for buying the Apple Care Plus Plan).

I visited the Oregon Coast (Depot Bay) with a friend on a sunny day.

I bought a blender so that I could continue to make chicken mole (No pic of the delicious mole I made. Sad face.), but secretly it was to make pina coladas all summer…

I made delicious Grilled Shrimp Chile Rellenos. It was a Rick Bayless recipe that I modified. I added artichoke hearts to the recipe, and for Mike’s instead of cheese I used nutritional yeast. Mine had full cheese. Delicious if a bit ambitious on a Friday night. They took two hours to make. WORTH IT!

Another labor of love is this Salad Nicoise that I made a couple of weekends ago. Between boiling eggs, boiling potatoes, making three dressings – one for tuna, one for potatoes, one for salad – I am always overwhelmed with using so many dishes, bowls, pots and pans. Again, WORTH IT!

My sister’s doggie, Abbey, got big.

Our doggies are still adorable (also, ‘Rina got fixed and is recovering very well indeed).