Thursday, June 30, 2011

mid-week brunch? why not!

I woke up with a lot on my mind this morning. Last night, a friend of mine told me that I "sounded like a f--ing lame 40-year-old who's given up." I *think* there was some good intent in there... it was meant to shake me up or inspire me somehow, but obviously that's a zinger. It stung, and it made me think that I'm somehow not painting a picture of how I feel about my life. It put me on the defensive (how could it not?), and once you're on the defensive on anything, it's all downhill from there.

This job-hunting business has been tough. I feel a little foolish for thinking it would be easier (not easy, but not this hard), and sometimes I get discouraged. My confidence gets rattled and I feel down. But, I work very hard to maintain a normal schedule, I have a wonderful support system, I've had some amazing opportunities that NEVER would have come my way without choosing this path, and I am hopeful that something good will happen soon. I do my best to stay positive and happy, busy, and healthy. If that's lame, then I guess I'm lame!

In all reality, I have a wonderful life and am so very lucky. I get to hike, write, run, drink wine, ride my bike, eat great food, love my dog, love my husband and family, meet new friends, chat with and see my beloved far-away friends, and a million other things that most of this world could only dream about. I hope to start volunteering soon, which is something I've always wanted to do more of, and it's a great opportunity to get involved in lieu of a job right now. So, in spite of my friend's comment, I like my life. Sure, it could be "better" in a lot of ways, and maybe someday my crazy dreams will be realized. It won't be for my lack of trying! So it's one day at a time right now. Some are really busy, some are quiet, like today. Mostly, I dream big, work hard, and feel grateful for what I have today.

Anyway, the point was that having some extra time on my hands gives me the opportunity to make brunch for the man and me on a cloudy Thursday while he works from home. I'm only calling it brunch because we ate it at 11. No bloody Marys, unfortunately. However, I'd been looking for an opportunity to try ruffly eggs, and with our fridge nearing empty, it was perfect for this morning. Fresh but comforting, didn't take too long, pretty healthy, and minimal ingredients!

I put basil in with my eggs and we ate them on a bed of arugula tossed with a little olive oil and white balsamic vinegar (one of my favorite things ever), some shaved parm, and a piece of toast. I overcooked the eggs a little bit, so they were not as poach-y, runny as I like them, but now I know! Next time, I think I will try it with some pasta and veggies. Yum!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

lessons on the internet.

I had my first e-mail address when I was a senior in high school. I was taking a class at Baker University, and it came with my own, personal electronic mailbox. This, I thought, was so cool. I could e-mail the three other people I knew with addresses! My dad refused to spring for Internet at home, so I would go to the campus library to write to my few friends. Already a letter writer, I was quickly taken with the concept of telling someone something without calling them or waiting for the post.

Since then, I've had accounts at pretty much all of the major providers. AOL, my university, Hotmail, Yahoo,, now Gmail, not to mention at places I've worked. As the Internet grew and took over our lives, I pretty much laid down and let it steamroll me. A friend of mine jokes that there's nothing I can't find on the Internet if someone wants to know it. That I chalk up to my former life as a copy editor and needing to verify every single detail in an article (THIS girl has never had a correction run... very proud of that...).

Eventually I had a Friendster account. Remember Friendster? I found a guy in my neighborhood who wanted to give me drum lessons, but I never met up with him for fear he was a murderer. I also had a Myspace account, and I still shudder at the frenetic disorganization of that site. Both accounts are long dead because, after resisting as long as I could, I signed up for Facebook.

Oh, how I wish I could be a person who says I hate Facebook, but I don't. It's so fun to share photos with friends and family who are far away. I turn off the rational part of my brain that worries about oversharing and try to post only what I wouldn't mind anyone in the world knowing about me. Though my Facebook is private, it led me to become more secure and open with the concept of sharing my thoughts and ideas in an open forum.

I was late to the game blogging and Tweeting. It just seemed too personal, and who would really care? Believe me, I am acutely aware of the fact that no one gives a darn about what I think. Nothing I say is earth shattering. But still, I felt the need to start putting myself out into the Interuniverse. I've been cultivating my online personality in the past several months, I guess before someone assigns one to me. And that brings me to what I believe are the rules of the Internet. Call it Internet Personality 101 According to Totally Nutts. They are at least the ones to which I adhere for my own personal sanity and well-being. If you're not going to set your Twitter/blog/whatever to "private," you need to have some ground rules:

1) Once your opinions and thoughts are out there, they are out there. Don't Tweet, blog, or post anything you wouldn't want your employer to know or at least guess about you. And don't post anything you aren't prepared to defend. The anonymous troll is the true dictator of the Internet, and prepare to be challenged on things as simple as "dogs are great!" because someone will come along and say, "are you anti-cat? There's no way dogs are better than cats." And then it begins. You're the cat hater, and everyone will spread your blog around and you'll be inundated by e-mails and comments from cat lovers around the world.

2) Other people use the Internet. People you know! Don't post anything you wouldn't want your fellow employees to know. Like "Geeeeezzzz, I can't believe these slobs didn't clean the bar before I came in. I hate this job!" I cannot tell you how many times I have heard of people doing this. Just don't be friends with people you work with if you cannot control your griping!

3) You have a face in photos. Don't post any pictures you wouldn't want your family or employer to know about.

4) Don't post about your awesome day off when you called in sick. AKA: Don't shoot yourself in the foot, dummy.

5) There is no such thing as "tone." Don't assume people will feel your sarcasm or snark through the screen. If you ironically post something dumb while trying to be a smartypants, like a racist comment, assume that people will take it at face value. See: Gilbert Gottfried and Aflac.

6) Don't say things on the Internet that you wouldn't say out loud to strangers or figures of authority. This could kind of be a 5b)... Watch out for personal information, deep secrets, and keeping with your own voice and personality. For example, I try not to swear in my writing. It's unlikely I'd want to curse up a storm in front of my boss. Plus, there's generally a better, more expressive word for whatever swear I would typically use. I prefer to keep my swearing in writing to PG-13, but only when I need to, dammit.

7) Don't assume people care and don't get frustrated by it. There are millions of Web pages out there. The chances of becoming a "hit" blog or site are slim to none. Do it for yourself, and do the best you can. Maybe some day, it will have a bigger purpose. You never know. Having said that...

8) Have a purpose. Whether it's to keep friends updated on your life, practice your writing skills, or rant about your personal politics, it's good to try to have a point. Don't be vague and whiny! It's boring and gets old really fast. "Life is so hard," "some people really let me down," "why can't I find a man?" Ugh. No one. Wants. To. Hear. It. Get a diary or a private blog and kvetch there. Otherwise, you just seem like you're fishing for attention, and I am NOT going to ask you what is wrong.

All of these "rules" come down to that one concept: Think before you post. With personal information, this goes without saying. If you can't keep your finger off of the button, maybe stay away from the button. Now, I'm going to go re-read all of my blog posts and Tweets and delete anything stupid... What rules do you set for yourself online?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

dinner 6/27/11. too ugly to photograph.

Wow, was dinner ugly last night. However, it was very tasty! A simple cucumber salad and some grilled garlic bread (still making our way through a baguette we bought Saturday!) aside some grilled dijon chicken.

I need to remember this marinade I whipped together because it was very flavorful, if ugly, and would be great with any veggies but specifically asparagus. Also, boneless or bone-in chicken work, either way. We used boneless, skinless thighs, but I think skin and some flavor from the bone would be great.

I don't think it was the chicken's fault that it was ugly. We just did a bad job cooking it.

Grilled Dijon Chicken
Amount of chicken your meal requires
3 tablespoons of Dijon mustard (Beaver Mustard is my favorite - it's SPICY)
3 T. olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 slice of white onion
2 T. each of fresh basil, parsley chopped
1 T. fresh rosemary
Juice and zest of one lemon
Salt & pepper to taste

In a food processor or blender, mix together mustard through S&P, place chicken in large freezer bag or a bowl just big enough. Coat with the marinade and chill at least one hour. Grill chicken until done, basting with the marinate as you put it on the grill (not after, the marinade has raw chicken!).

Monday, June 27, 2011

bounty. so much bounty.

Many Saturdays in Chicago we would leash up the dog and walk to the Green City Market early in the morning. Generally, we would get there right before the crowds hit but after the stroller brigade had invaded. We'd find some choice produce - usually squash, tomatoes, some herbs, mushrooms, whatever looked really great and in season - and enjoy our picks. It was a lovely experience and a great tradition of summer that I relish.

This Saturday, we made it to our first Portland Farmers Market at PSU downtown. Oh. My. Goodness. It put the Chicago market to shame, and the Green City market is nothing to sneeze at. Granted, Oregon is one of the top food-producing states in the U.S., but wow. Everything I saw was beautiful, with many organic purveyors and some fantastic food stands. I barely resisted the urge to buy a FOUR DOLLAR artichoke, just because it was so pretty. I don't even really LIKE artichokes that much! It just looked like the world's most beautiful, edible cactus.

I took the opportunity to play around with a Composer Pro and funky lens from Lensbaby and try to get some serious food porn.

Not technically food, but if you've ever eaten a Pine State Biscuit, you know it's the business. They have a stand at the market. Giant cast-iron pots of boiling oil with fried chicken in them = awesome.

Real seafood at the market. 

Garlic scapes! Now that I know what to do with these, I want to get some next week.

STRAWBERRIES. We bought a half-flat. On Saturday. There are two small boxes left. Nom.

 Sauteed veggies from Verde Cocina. More on this in a minute...

Some sort of pretty flowers. There were two people, pulling all kinds of beautiful flowers from buckets and hand-tying bouquets. Lovely.

This woman is hand-pressing and grilling corn tortillas for Verde Cocina. I watched her for 15 minutes and wanted to hug her. I could write a huge post on my love of Mexican food, especially fresh tortillas, but another time.

Chilaquiles. Fresh tortillas, scrambled eggs, white bean salad, kale, sauteed veggies, and kicky salsa with a little crumble of cheese. The. Perfect. Breakfast.

We ended up leaving with the aforementioned strawberries, a microscopic bag of morel mushrooms, a pound and a half of English peas, some zucchini, and a bunch of basil. I decided to give risotto a try for the first time. Wow. Something I learned about risotto: Your patience will be rewarded! It was perfect, and delicious, and the sweet, fat peas were amazing in it with some lightly sauteed morels. Like heaven. 

Heaven, right here...

We had a balsamic-strawberry and arugula salad and some grilled baguette to finish off the meal. It was magical. Oh Oregon. Just when I needed that boost! Can't wait to see what I discover next weekend. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

two-meal quinoa.

Dinner tonight is one of my favorite, lazy dinners. It involves only one pot, one bowl, and leftover veggies. If you're not me, you eat half of it and save the other half for tomorrow's lunch. If you're me, you eat two-thirds of it and then wonder how to pad it for another meal, or resist eating the remainder in an hour.

Here's how I make mine. Really, you can do whatever you want with it.

1/2 c. quinoa, cooked and cooled
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
1/2 cucumber, chopped
Handful of grape tomatoes, chopped
Onion, chopped
Green pepper, chopped
Splash of olive oil
Splash of red wine vinegar
1/4 lemon, juiced
Salt & pepper

Combine, chill for an hour, and eat! The best. By the way, what is up with recipes calling for quinoa to be soaked for hours or overnight? I rinse and cook. Maybe that's just me... Shortcuts abound! Bon appetit!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

mountaincountrycity girl.

I was born and raised in Kansas. Not on a farm, but in several different towns, ranging from the college town where I was born to the Kansas City suburb to the central-state county seat to the town of 3,000 where my dad grew up. Each has a distinctive vibe and offers a different view of a state most people associate with Dorothy, a church full of bigoted jerkwads that I refuse to even mention by name, and tornadoes. I was never much of a country girl, save for a few rides on horses here and there. Really, I've always been more of a city girl who knows how to camp. Though I do enjoy cowboy boots and I have been run over by a four-wheeler, so I have a little country girl cred.

When I was 4 years old, my grandparents took me to Colorado for a road trip. I vaguely remember being overwhelmed by the looming Rockies. It was several years before I went back, but I remained awed and drawn in by the mountains. I saw the ocean for the first time a few years later, and that image of an expanse of water as far as my eyes could see remained with me as well. When I was 12, I went to Chicago. I ate it up, loving the architecture and the buzz and the lakefront. It was so exciting and busy, and my pre-teen self said "self, you will live in this city some day." I knew I was made for Chicago, and vice versa.

I lived there for longer than I lived anywhere else: Eight years. People ask me where I'm from, and I tell them Chicago more than half the time. It's not that I don't love Kansas in its own way, but Chicago became such a part of my identity. It's MY city, and I am a part of it as well. If Chicago had mountains, or an ocean (the lake SO does not count), I can't imagine we would have left it.

My theory used to be that I was half city mouse and half country mouse, still appreciating a sweeping field of wheat and in love with the idea of having goats some day. About a month ago, I realized that I'm about two-thirds city mouse and one-third mountain mouse. That ratio can change from day to day, but I really do need those mountains in my life right now, even if Portland might be a little too friendly for me. I had better not lose my edge with all this niceness around me!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

how I hike.

This is how you snack at the top of a strenuous hike. A little bit of Olympic Provisions Nola sausage on an everything bagel flat. There were also some strawberries. We were going to pack wine, but saved that for after the hike.

I know, you're thinking "what, no cheese?" Just seemed excessive.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

dinner. 6/9/11

It looks like the SUN is in my kitchen in this photo! And it's the only one I took! So deal with it. Ha. Chick food for dinner tonight. Tuna salad with tomato, red pepper, red onion, lemon, dijon mustard, capers, S&P. A couple of soda crackers. I've been craving zucchini, so I shaved a small one with the vegetable peeler and tossed it with lemon, olive oil, some mint, and a touch of parmesan.

I was happy. It was dinner. I didn't turn on the stove. Works for me!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

trying to get pretty.

My skin hates me these days. You'd think with all of the moisture in the air here, it would be dewy and clear. You would be wrong. I've been bouncing all over the place on facial products and having a hard time finding anything that works. After a couple of mediocre tries at the drugstore, I decided to suck it up and buy the infamous Hope in a Jar by Philosophy. I'd heard it works miracles. It did not work at all for me. First of all, it smells very, very medicinal and harsh. I felt like I was at the doctor's office. I know unscented is preferred in facial products, but couldn't they add a little lavender or something? Secondly, it stung my face as though it had a ton of SPF. Thirdly, I broke out in tiny blemishes, almost like a rash. I gave it a week, but no dice.

Lucky for me, Sephora has a great return policy. So, I drove down to the mall and very easily got my money back (thank you, Sephora!). Instead of impulse buying, I asked for a sample of a product I'd heard of: Boscia's Luminizing Black Mask.

My husband asked me if I was going to some kind of extreme football game. Then I chased him around the house and tackled him. He was terrified. Ahh, marriage...

Anyway, it is goopy and black, like I'd imagine oil from the barrel looks. There wasn't enough in the sample to cover my entire visage, but I smeared what I had on my freshly washed face and waited about 15 minutes until it dried. Then the fun part: It peels off! I wish I had pictures, but he was asleep and I had my hands full. It was so fun to pick and peel it off. I looked like an alien in a science-fiction movie.

 Guys, this stuff is awesome. My skin was soft and smooth underneath, and it was totally gentle but not over-moisturizing. I'll probably head back to Sephora in the next couple of weeks (it's far away! At the mall!) and grab this if I can scrounge up the cash. It's $34 for 2.8 ounces, which I think would last for quite a while if I used it twice a week. Can't wait to see how terrifying I look when I cover my entire face with it!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Yeesh! I have not posted for a while. I'm not so busy that I can't write, but I guess I haven't had anything that interesting to say. And we have had several guests (and more coming!)  the past few weeks to keep us busy.

One of my very, best, favorite things about Portland is the quality and quantity of awesome little dining establishments. Not just restaurants but also the food cart culture is amazing. Needless to say, we have a lot of options. Our dear friends who love food as much as we do visited for several days last week, and I knew I needed a fairly edited list of favorites from which to choose. I wanted to hit what I thought were most important to me but also fit their expectations and palates!

This post would be ridiculously long if I went through our entire weekend, but I want to highlight the places we were able to visit and express our love for them. There was a five-mile hike thrown in there, too, so don't think it was a weekend of total fatness!

Pine State Biscuits - Never disappoints. Though I don't know how fried chicken on a biscuit could let anyone down...

Olympic Provisions - Charcuterie. Pickles. Bread. Cheese. We are carnivores, so this was a no-brainer.

Bamboo Sushi - First certified, sustainable sushi restaurant in the world. Amazing food, ambiance (especially from our seat in the open front window), and drinks. Doesn't hurt that it's right next door to my favorite pizza place and you can smell wood-fired pizza while eating super-fresh salmon. A new favorite for me is the habanero masago smelt roll. My face was on FIRE, and I liked it.

Barista - Great coffee, great vibe, delightful people. Beer in a coffee shop! I love it all.

Hiking! - This is a great hike for almost anyone who doesn't mind breaking a sweat. Starting on the Wahkeena side is my preference. It was just gorgeous, and our guests loved it.

Double Mountain Brewery - Post-hike pizza and beers in adorable Hood River. A bike race to watch that day, too! Awesome all around.

Everybody's Brewing - Stopped in here for the view and a beer. Gorgeous look at Mt. Hood from the Washington side! And I recommend the Country Boy IPA.

Pok Pok Noi - It seems like everybody knows about Pok Pok, and with good reason! We just had a little snack of some fish sauce wings to go since our dinner wasn't until late. The papaya salad and sticky rice are my go-to here as well.

Beast - OK, this is one of the most regarded restaurants in Portland. I could write an entire post detailing our meal, but I won't. They offer a tasting menu and optional wine pairing. It was a good dinner at a great price, don't get me wrong, but it wasn't the greatest meal of my life. Some of the pairings were huge misses for all of us, which was so disappointing. The soup, charcuterie, salad, and dessert were pretty out-of-this-world. I'm glad we went, but I can say now that I much prefer DOC, just half a block away. Those guys killed me with their food a couple months ago, and I cannot wait to go back.

Our friends' flight was mid-afternoon and it was another beautiful day, so we had time to get in a beer on the patio at Prost and sandwiches from Garden State/Burgatroyd. To quote our guest, "It's a good thing we came here last because I could sit here for an entire day." It's an addictive place to be!

This is the tip(-py top!) of the iceberg as far as my list of favorites in this city. If I sent this out and asked for opinions, I'd probably get a ton of criticism saying, "But what about Screen Door?" "You forgot Toro Bravo!" "How could you miss Apizza Scholls?" But, I can say with confidence, it was a successful weekend that left our friends wanting more... and this is good news, because they will come back!