Friday, April 17, 2015

Bookmarked


As previously mentioned, I retired my geriatric laptop recently. That lovely creature had been my constant companion: it was there when I typed my very first blog post (and three subsequent years of blogging); helped me produce countless term papers and research essays over the course of four years (and patiently waited while I procrastinated my way through writer's block and general laziness); and saw me through hundreds of hours of internet surfing.

That machine, it would seem, knows me better than myself: it holds 7+ years of bookmarks and documents, some I don't even remember saving. You know how after many years of using Netflix it gets to know you and your preferences and begins making suggestions based on your mood, which makes you swear it knows you? That's that computer for me. Sarah from 6 years ago bookmarked a website because she thought Future Sarah would totally appreciate that style of writing, clothing design, or be in a place to buy those totally gorgeous but oh so expensive handmade wooden spoons. It's a time capsule of sorts.

Saying goodbye to that history, both literally and figuratively, was hard. (Which is probably why Shiny New Computer lived in its box for nearly a month before I cracked her open.) My emotional hangups about inanimate objects aside, starting over with a clean state is always refreshing. It has been fun finding a new group of favorites based on where I am now. My bookmarks are organized into folders, and my Word documents will one day (soon, I hope) be filled grad school-worthy material.

Over the last year I've been turning the page on a new chapter, while discovering new likes and interests. Sorting through and backing up photos, documents and bookmarks from my old computer has been nostalgic but also freeing. A reminder that we are ever-evolving creatures; our likes and interests are not static over a lifetime.

Here are some lovely things that made it into my save pile this week:

Puberty, pregnancy and weight fluctuations haven't been kind to my body, so I'm a one-piece kinda gal. I think I found my dream swimsuit.

This website is filled to the brim with unique, colorful toys... but I'm totally smitten. Search their site for nesting dolls. I double dog dare you.

This waxed canvas tote is perfection. (I'd use it as a non-diaper bag.)

Perhaps the perfect dress?

The art of nature.

A beautiful new cookbook made it into our home this week. It has quickly become a favorite. 

Happy Weekend!



Friday, April 10, 2015

Life (lately).


I'm going to be clichéd and proclaim life to be busy lately. The kind of busy where you're not sure why exactly you're busy but days meld into weeks and next thing you know it is April and yet you are positive you were passing out Christmas gifts and Valentines just last week. Though let it be said that spring is very, very welcome.

Track is in full swing, so Kiddo's got practice six days per week + a meet in addition to the arduous process of making sure his perpetually late homework is turned in time to get some sort of credit. (Oy! Boys!) Weekends are, well, a brief respite from the hubub but also involve a lot of paper towels. I'm sure you know what I mean: last weekend we used a whole roll because the cat had a case of the pukes and Kiddo managed to miss the giant bowl of pancake batter and cracked an egg right onto the kitchen floor.

This is a season much like the ones that came before, and the many to come. It's not bad or good, it's just life. I'm sure there will be times I look back and thing That was nothing! and times when I will think I'm glad it's over. I am also certain there will be times when I desperately miss these experiences. (Well, maybe not the cat puke.) Those are the days I'll be glad I kept this journal; glad that my memories are tucked safely away on a server somewhere, ready to be revisited. A reminder of the seasons, because, man, do they fly by.


Last month, feeling overwhelmed and flustered by motherhood and workforce reentry, I sought the calming influence of the ocean. My love for the ocean is deep and abiding; it's impossible for me to fret to the soundtrack of crashing waves and sand between my toes. Upon my return the same worries awaited me, but I also had an improved perspective. There is nothing like the ocean to make you realize how small your problems are in this vast world. 

Seeking out time for myself is a relatively new endeavor; Mario has always been supportive when it comes to me taking a break, but guilt and second-guessing and the tendency to micromanage (What if everything falls apart in my absence?!) always got in the way. I still feel a little guilty leaving him to manage everything, but it no longer stops me from doing it every so often. And let's be honest: a less frazzled version of myself benefits everyone.


This Easter was lovely in a low-key kind of way. We opened our baskets as a family, then headed over to our friends' house for an early dinner. As part of my plan to simplify, I let myself off the hook when it came to dyeing eggs. Kiddo is currently off boiled eggs, and Husband doesn't eat them at all, and I didn't want the pressure of consuming them all by myself. So I said no. Instead, we made Rice Krispies Treat + Fruity Pebbles eggs and Kiddo decorated them with sprinkles and colored sugar. There were also Coconut Lime cupcakes which are always a crowd-pleaser. (Complete with vintage German bird embellishments. And more sprinkles! My domestic prowess was on full display.)


Spring calls for a new doormat and colorful canvas shoes. // April showers bring May flowers. What do May flowers bring? (Pilgrims!) // Lemon everything. (Lemon Trifle candle + my new favorite snack: plain Greek yogurt with a spoonful of lemon custard swirled in.)


A new laptop skin + an exploration of Portland's awesome coffee house scene. (I had my last laptop for 7+ years, so replacing both was a big commitment. I'm incredibly loyal.) // Still coffee free. (She says, as she sips a latte. My first and only in weeks!) // A man that makes pasta from scratch, even after discovering we donated our pasta maker before the move, is a man worth keeping around. // An amazing, oh-so helpful vintage book on plant husbandry + photobombing at its finest.


Kiddo did not get his athleticism from me, so I'm in constant awe of his muscular stature and long legs. (The ropy veins that run through his arms are something to behold, for sure.) // When he was little he used to fill entire notebooks with his drawings and doodles. Recently he's picked it back up and is so. darn. good. (Another thing he didn't inherit from me.) Constant awe, I tell you.


This week Kiddo is on spring break, so we headed to Bend, Oregon for a couple days. The architecture! Swoonworthy. (That yellow Arts and Crafts! Gah! It must be mine!)


While in Bend we had our first stay at a McMenamins property. It's hard to explain the awesomeness that is a McMenamins, but this converted schoolhouse was a rather awesome adventure. (The funky art, the history, the architecture, the nooks and crannies and hidden bars... fascinating!)

In other news, I had a job interview yesterday! For a position I received a rejection email about two weeks ago! It's exactly what I'm looking for, but also daunting, so of course I'm terrified but so happy to have been asked to interview for it. (I can do this? I can do this!) There are several more applicants left to be considered, and it's a bit of a long shot, but gosh if it wasn't a morale boost. A real Hey! Maybe it IS possible to get back in the game!. Plus, my interviewer is a physician assistant and wanted to help a sister out, so maybe? If you could cross your fingers and toes and think positive thoughts for me, I'll bake you all cookies. (Lemon, of course.)


Last but not least, this stud muffin is turning a year older today. Boy did I marry up.

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Periodicals + Potage


It's a known fact among our close friends and family that we subscribe to precisely 1 million magazines. This can be contributed, in part, to Mario's proclivity for cashing in every. single. expiring airline mile... typically in the form of subscriptions. Time, so we can stay up on current events and be well-rounded citizens; Women's Health, so I can be a more active, attractive version of myself (while feeling completely inundated by the ever contradictory advice regarding the best methods of physical exercise and macronutrient consumption); Outside, because the photography! and the articles! (and, let's be honest, the lingering aspiration that I will one day become "outdoorsy"); Adweek, because it's good to know the latest and greatest in the marketing and advertising world (Target, how dare you use my frivolous acquisition of glitter, t-shirts and trail mix to profile my buying habits). The list goes on (and on). Did I mention they are all paid up until 2030, at which point we can add an AARP subscription to the mix?

If I'm honest, most of them make their way to the recycling bin or Kiddo's school for collage projects. As I get older (and more evolved, I hope), I find that constant influx of information, often served up in a zillion little information boxes, overwhelming. Reading a magazine at bedtime is a sure way to stave off slumber... it puts my brain on information overload. In short, I've become a terrible magazine reader. Gone are the days of me anxiously awaiting that month's issue of Teen. (Tiffani Amber Thiessen + Brian Austin Green = True Love Forever.) (I'm old.)

In an ideal world, I'd pore over all the glossy pages and become an expert in the fine arts of fitness, DIY and home decor. I'd make a Pinterest-worthy home cooked meal six nights a week, complete with the requisite spiraled fruit or vegetable peel garnish. Martha and her beautifully photographed monthly inspires me to be a better, well, everything. (Only Martha could get me to consider gold leafing my Easter eggs.) Martha Stewart Living is a fairly new addition to the magazine pile (though we go waaay back), and it, along with Outside (usually) get read. They are the exceptions.

Every couple months I'll be wooed by an issue Real Simple from the checkout line (for the love of all things holy, open another lane), and a copy will make its way home with me. Because clearly I need another magazine ... like I need a hole in my head. But, you know, the covers are real pretty and promise to make my life better from A-Z.

One such month was February. Let me tell you, that issue was worth its weight in recipe gold. I was in a soup sort of mood and they knew that. (Target probably told them.) And that's the story of how 3 new meals made their way into my life. Make them, enjoy them, and let me know if you want a free gift subscription.


I've made this several times and it has quickly become a favorite. Easy peasy and super delicious. // Advice:  I add a second bottle of clam juice; I like extra flavor in my soup broths.


This one takes a little more effort, but boy is it good. Miso is allegedly a superfood, so I could feel the latest issue of Women's Health radiating approval from the mail pile. // Advice: Sub low-sodium chicken broth for at least half of the water. Flavor and all that jazz. Also, I used our favorite potstickers from Costco which have a firmer wrapping that held up through leftovers the next day.


This was a fork + spoon, slurp-your-noodles kind of soup. The best kind, in my opinion. // Advice: Again, add a broth (beef, chicken and vegetable would all be good) otherwise the soup base is a little boring. Also, don't sweat it if you can't find dried porcini mushrooms. All my local stores were mysteriously out of stock, so I substituted a mixture of dried mushrooms that contained porcinis and it turned out just fine.


Monday, March 30, 2015

Best of Portland // Part III


Portland living is the gift that keeps on giving. I mean, I challenge you to find a better fit for this trio than Portland. We appreciate Portland for its kind, quirky, wondrous ways and never grow tired of wandering its neighborhoods. Even though it doesn't break the top 20 biggest cities in the States, it has the shopping, dining, and cultural scene of a major metropolitan area (and the traffic, if I'm being honest).

Although we have established some favorites, each meal out or weekend afternoon spent wandering yields new and unexplored gems. I posted some initial favorites last year, but now that we are seasoned Portlandians, it's time to continue the series. (Best of Portland Part I and Part II.)


1// Pine State Biscuits // Four locations // We came to know the deliciousness that is Pine State Biscuits via their food tent at the Portland Farmer's Market, and later learned of their brick and mortar locations throughout the city. Dude. Their food is off. the. hook. Two of our favorites, shown here, are the Reggie Deluxe (fried chicken, bacon, cheese, egg and gravy) and The Wedgie (fried chicken, fried green tomato, iceberg wedge and blue cheese dressing). Their hash browns are pretty swoon-worthy, too. (Kiddo eats their biscuits plain and dry. They're that good.)


2// Po'shines // 8139 N. Denver Ave //  While seeking a place for a casual lunch date one day, Mario came across this mecca for Southern fare. I had the shrimp po'boy and he opted for something manly and meaty sandwiched between bread. Together we shared an order of hush puppies drizzled with honey. Some people have Paris, we'll always have Po'shines.


3// Mimosa Studios // 1718 NE Alberta St // Although Kiddo is getting older, I still crave our long-standing mother-son dates. Last month I set up an activity which ended sooner than we'd hoped (and was a bit lackluster), and was in search of something else to do. This darling paint-your-own pottery studio to the rescue! We each picked a little figurine and set about being artists. The staff was so sweet and the studio quaint (but not cramped). We had a great afternoon and, for the first time in my life, my project looked like someone over the age of two had painted it. (An artist, I am not.) My little gnome now sits on my windowsill and I've been pondering the idea of a reoccurring date in order to build a gnome army of my very own.


4// Salt & Straw // 3 locations // If you live in or around Portland, you've probably heard of or had Salt & Straw ice cream. It's unique, creamy cold goodness. Dare I say the best ice cream I've ever had? This coming from a girl who has to be really careful about her dairy intake and therefore chooses her milky indulgences wisely. In other words, it's got to be good. The seasonal flavors change regularly, but some favorites have been (from top): Meyer Lemon Meringue (me), Black Licorice (him), Pots of Gold and Rainbows (Lucky Charms!!), and Coconut with Salted Caramel Bars (vegan!). They also have a really cool story of how they came to be.


5// Pok Pok // 3226 SE Division St // This is a new one for us, but from what we understand, Pok Pok is a Portland staple. Something about putting Division Street on the map? The building is whimsical and fun, and the food is authentic Thai. We sat in a romantic little corner table for two; I ordered a coconut curry bowl which came with a side of fried anchovies, pickled garlic and soft boiled egg. The soup, with its abundance of Thai chilies, served to clear out my pores and nasal passages, but not in a necessarily unpleasant way. We sampled one of their signature Drinking Vinegars (Meyer Lemon), but the jury is still out for Mario. I quite enjoyed it, but I also down raw ACV and drink pickle juice and in general like a good shiver up my spine. It was a rather enjoyable lunch and overall experience. I'll be baaack.

That's all she wrote. But certainly not all she ate/drank. Until next time...