Portland.

Sometimes all you need is to get away. Memorial Day is the perfect excuse to take a mini vacation.

After singing karaoke with my roomies in the kitchen—we do a MEAN rendition of You and I and Spanish Pipedream—I made the ludicrous decision to drive to Portland at 7:30 at night on a Sunday. Which means I got into Portland at 10:30. Which also means I was there for less than 24 hours.

Sounds ridiculous, eh? Especially because gas is $4.45 a gallon. Straight up silly. I justified this decision with my need for a change and the fact that I biked to work everyday this month. I have saved so much gas this month that a spontaneous trip to Portland was in order.

It was magical. I celebrated my one year anniversary friendship with Ted and Ric—two dudes that I find refreshing. I am coming to the conclusion that men aren’t cool until they are over 30. This doesn’t hold true to ALL men, but this is a trend I am noticing. So hanging out with those two old dudes (hehe) was wonderful. They mixed up fancy cocktails, talked chickens with me and showed me all around their city.

Another conclusion I have reached: I LOVE Portland. This isn’t too surprising as it has a lot of things that I love. It is like if Seattle and Bellingham met, fell in love and had a ridiculously cute child. Portland is the love child of the West Coast.

I drank Aviators, met up with an old friend who hasn’t changed one iota (in the best way possible), squealed over the myriad of incredible boutiques and ate vegan food until my face hurt from smiling about all the options (if you ever go, hit up the Bye and Bye’s happy hour. Everything is vegan, everything is delicious).

Oh yeah, I also had the best cup of coffee ever. This is saying a lot as I have been a barista for 9 years and am a self-proclaimed snob when it comes to coffee. The guy actually had to take a break before he started on the strenuous work that my double short soy latte required.

That is some serious coffee business.

My trip to Portland confirmed a few things. 1) Portlandia is pretty spot-on, which I love. 2) Portland is a vegan mecca. 3) My future husband may be in Portland. I saw a table of three bearded men with forearm tattoos and flannel. One of them had a great dane slung across his lap. I wanted to congratulate them on their beauty.

Swoon.

Portland, you have my heart.

The Aviator (aka the drunk that made my heart happy and my mind fuzzy)

  • 2 oz gin
  • ¼ oz maraschino liquor
  • ½ oz fresh lemon juice
  • Dash of crème de Violette (which Ric actually had. I was impressed)
  • Lemon peel for garnish

Pour ingredients into a cocktail shaker (another thing Ric had. See? Awesome.) add ice. Shake that puppy up. Pour into some sort of fancy glass (through a strainer if you are feeling particular). Drink too many of them and then flirt shamelessly with whoever will have you. Or something adventurous like that.

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Perspective.

Today I woke up feeling peaceful. After having a week from hell, I woke up at 5 am this morning feeling like today was going to be a pretty decent day. The pup and I spent our morning running around Greenlake while the sky turned pink. The geese (there are babies! So cute!), ducks and the notorious blue heron were playful this morning, teasing my dog as he attempted to pull me into the lake.

All of the birds were especially lively this morning. I like to think it was a sign that he is still a powerful presence in this world, and it is okay to feel happy today. Here’s looking at you Jim.

It was a bluebird on my shoulder kind of morning. Full of plans—most of them founded on spontaneity and curiosity of old friends and new places.

I do think it is time to shake the dust (Holler at my boy). To accept the ebb and flow of friendships and relationships. To get over the fear of trying something completely out of my comfort zone. To really start fresh with all of this, and come to terms with the fact that an adventure is all that I need.

So today I will work my 8 hour shift. I will bike home in the sunshine. I will reconnect with an old friend. I will BBQ with my bestie and cuddle up to my warm and sleepy hound dog. I will probably drink too much of something, and make questionable choices. I will let today be completely, 100% based on instinct and impulse.

In line with the drinking too much and making poor (or awesome, depending on the perspective) choices, I will most likely pop by the liquor store on my ride home from work (classy… I know) so I can whip up one (or two, or three) or these bad boys.

It will be a picture perfect afternoon. Backyard-sunshine-lounging with the roomies while marinated mushrooms, asparagus and kale roast on the BBQ.

I raise my glass to shaking the dust, and doing it all with a goddamn smile.

The Salty Chihuahua

  • Juice of three grapefruits
  • 4 oz  tequila
  • 2 oz orange liquor
  • Salt for rim
    • I think we know how to make this. You juice the grapefruits, you pop in the tequila and orange liquor and pour in glass with a salted rim. Drink. Celebrate. Repeat.The goal.

Grief

I am not sure what it is about grief.

What I do know is that it makes your heart ache. It makes you weep uncontrollably when you listen to Landslide. It causes you to walk around like a zombie, wishing life had a giant pause button.

I do not know why this grief has to happen to a person whose life is braided into mine, like those friendships bracelets we used to wear at summer camp. Why this had to reach out and grab these people whose kindness and genuine love is what sustains my belief in humanity.

I am not sure why there isn’t a good thing to say. Or why there is no way to make that pain go away.

I am not sure why this looming feeling has rushed over into every corner of my life. Like some sort of horrifying tidal wave.

What I am sure of is that it has made me realize how short all of this is.

What I am sure of is how I need to shake this shit up.

Let the wild rumpus begin.

ps. all of this grief resulted in hours in the kitchen, pounds of food, and the hope that it will bring some sort of comfort. I believe these crackers will travel the world with me. Through thick and thin.

Happy Crackers (nice name.)

adapted from My New Roots

2 cups black/brown rice

2 cups quinoa

3 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp tamari

1 tsp salt

cracked pepper

2/3 cup  toasted sesame seeds

* cook quinoa and rice, let cool. combine rice, quinoa, olive oil and tamari in the food processor. Blend for a few minutes until a dough forms.

*Add in sesame seeds and blend some more.

*Add in cracked pepper, garlic, dried fruit, whatever you want.

* Divide dough into two batches, put between parchment paper and roll REALLY thin.

*Bake on 400 degrees for 25 minutes until crispy.

*eat. share. cry. repeat.

Quarter Life Panic Mode

So here’s the thing. I have no idea what I want to do with my life. I am a person who has WAY too many interests. I dream of being a farmer, a nutritionist, a yoga instructor, a vegan chef or Rick Steves… What would be practical would be to pursue a career in non-profit administration, as that is where I am now, and what I could potentially make into a career.
Now here is the question: do I go with what is practical? This is where my parents are shaking their heads yes. Yes, yes, absolutely yes. They have watched me pursue a myriad of interests, flitting between them like nobody’s business. I can imagine it drives them bonkers. Being the magnificent parents that they are, they just support me and encourage me to be smart in my decisions.
Hu-rumph.
Isn’t there a job where I can be in the kitchen all day, writing about food in the evening, taking care of the vegetables, goats and chickens in the morning? Where is this life, and how do I go to there?
It is pretty incredible how many quarter life crisis’s have managed to squeeze into my 24th and 25th year. This all could be stemming from the fact that it is currently 75 degrees outside and I am stuck at a computer at work, with little to do. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. I love the people I work with; I love that I can come to work and know that I am supporting a great organization. However, I know that I wouldn’t be happy to stay in this position forever. I just want more. All the time.
I had a moment this morning where I decided that my heart was set on moving to Austin, TX. Then I decided I should move to Kauai. THEN I decided I should move wherever there was an awesome job waiting for me. This all happened within an hour. Sheesh, I need to get my head screwed on a little bit tighter.
You know how some people can look ahead 5-10 years and know where they are going to be? They have it mapped out. They want to have a baby by 28, own a house and be in a job that supports their family. Me? Not so much. Do I want to get married—who knows. Do I want kids? Meh… I can go either way. Do I know where I want to be career wise? Obviously not.
I think that I over think things, think myself into circles, get exhausted by all the potential awesome that I could make happen in my life and then I sort of drop out of pursuing any of it. There is nothing logical about it, but here I am. Same sort of situation—round #7.
Here is what I do know. And this is what grounds me when my mind starts to play the, “what if…” game. I know that I love food more than anything. I know that being in my kitchen is my therapy. I know that five hours can pass by without my noticing as long as I have a good podcast and fresh ingredients on hand.
Food is my sanity.
This is why I always end up in the kitchen when things get out of control.
What can I say? I eat my feelings.
But you know what has happened this week? All I have in my kitchen is popcorn. Literally. And my dog is out of food. I am a hot mess. I have every evening booked, my room is literally covered in clothes, glasses and far too much laundry.

Big ol’ sigh.
So I decided to pass my recipe desires to my step-mom. She, like me, loves to be in the kitchen. She, also like me, is a vegan. Let’s just say we make the perfect pair when it comes to food.

This recipe had me drooling at the title, then I looked at the beautiful pictures (Sprouted Kitchen, you’ve done it again) and it was all over—I must have it. Now.
So with plans up to my eyeballs, and a lack of an ice cream maker, I have asked my step mom to make it. I can’t wait to shove it in my mouth. Especially as we approach strawberry season.
Eating my feelings can sometimes result in a beautiful thing…

Roasted Strawberry Coconut Milk Ice Cream

Adapted from Hungry Girl Por Vida

2 pints strawberries, hulled and quartered

2 tsp. natural cane sugar

2 egg yolks

1/3 cup natural cane sugar

3 Tbsp. maple sugar (or just more natural cane sugar if that’s what you have)

1 13.5 oz. can coconut milk

1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

2 oz. dark chocolate, optional

 

Preheat the oven to 300′.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Pile the berries in the middle, sprinkle with the 2 tsp. of cane sugar, pinch of sea salt and toss gently to coat. Spread in an even layer and bake on the middle rack for 25 minutes. Turn off the heat but leave the berries in there to cool slowly. They need to be completely cool before adding to the ice cream machine. This step can be done in advance.

Set a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water, but do not let the bowl touch the water. Add the egg yolks and both sugars and stir to warm. As the sugar melts, it will become smooth and shiny. If these two need a bit of help melting, just add a spoonful of the coconut milk to get things moving along. Stir the mixture for about 5 minutes. Add the can of coconut milk and whisk everything to combine. As everything warms, it will get smoother. The custard will start to thicken just a bit. Stir in the vanilla, turn off the heat, strain through a fine strainer to remove any eggs bits and transfer the bowl to the fridge to cool completely.

Add the coconut custard to your ice cream maker and churn according to instructions. Meanwhile, if using, melt the chocolate in a double boiler (glass bowl over simmering water). At about 75% finished, add in a cup of the cooled, roasted strawberries and let it continue. In the last-minute, slowly drizzle in the (not super hot) chocolate if you wants some chocolate chards or chunks in the ice cream.

Transfer to a container and freeze until firm.

**it has been in the mid 70s all week-long, which is unheard of in Seattle. The air tastes like summer, I want to walk around in bare feet, spend my days at the ocean with a hound dog that loves to chase seagulls and drink my body weight in iced tea… too bad it is supposed to rain all next week. 😦 In celebration of ice cream and sun, I give you a picture that sums up what I do when I get home from work. He is my everything.**

Shame on you North Carolina…

           I don’t have much to say today. I could talk about being in the kitchen, the potluck I went to where I met a lovely fellow vegan, or the fact that I went on the first hike of the season. (all delightful things, of course)
None of that sounds too appealing as the world turns upside down in North Carolina, and decisions are made based on judgement and hate.
So my musings on food and exercise are trivial when a basic human right to choose who to love and marry is denied to people across North Carolina. How this is even an issue blows my mind. Why, when and how does it matter who someone chooses to spend their life with? How is it that those who base their opinions on marriage equality from the bible are okay with picking and choosing which parts of scripture to adhere to and which ones to blatantly ignore?
It makes my blood boil. I consider myself a rational, grounded human being. But you bring up marriage equality and my cheeks get red, my hands start shaking and I just want to scream at the top of my lungs, “LET THE PEOPLE LOVE!”
Thank goodness that my state (GO WASHINGTON) just signed a marriage equality bill– I have never been so proud to claim myself as a Washingtonian—I was hoping the same would happen nationwide.
Big ol’ sigh.
I was about to lose all hope when I opened up the Huffington Post to the headline, “Obama Backs Gay Marriage”.
Even if this is a hot button issue that causes him to get ousted by Mitt Romney (because our country is full of hateful, hateful people– this is where I get red in the face), I have never been so proud. Finally, he stops toeing the line and claims, yeah… I do support equality.

“I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married,” he said.

It’s about damn time.

No Child Left Inside

Remember how awesome it was to be a little kid? How you spent so much time in your own head, imagining that your backyard was a pirate ship, your bike was a horse and the woods were your make-believe home? My bestie and I would spend hours on her acre of wooded property, making forts and sneaking into the neighbor’s yard to feed apples to their horse.

Yeah, my youth was pretty idyllic.

I am not sure that outside-all-day, berry-picking, lost-in-the-woods, be-back-by-dusk childhood is all that common anymore. Maybe that is why the childhood obesity rate is 16.9% and why it isn’t uncommon to see seven-year olds with Iphones. What a strange world we live in.

I have decided that if I have kids they will wear recycled pillow cases (fashioned into draw string like dress bags), they will play with wooden toys, live on a farm, play in the dirt and never interact with the outside world. Which means I will live on a commune or be a part of a cult…?

Never let me have children.

I think about kids a lot because I work at a hospital; a hospital that only treats kids. A place where there are a lot of kids who are really sick. It makes me think about how many kids there are that aren’t battling cancer, that aren’t going through chemotherapy every other day, but are still slowly decreasing their chances at a healthy life because of the world and society around them.

Heavy stuff this morning, I know.

All of these thoughts led me to sign up as a running buddy for an incredible organization. Girls on the Run is an international non-profit that runs a 10-week after school program for 3-5 grade girls. It teaches them about positive body image, self love and trains them for a 5k. Basically, it rocks my world.

I spent my Monday afternoon running (let’s be real, it was mainly walking and then sprinting down hills) 3.5 miles with two 3rd grade girls. They were the cat’s pajamas. We talked about school, family, pets, their hopes to go to college together, live together and work as zoo keepers together (bless). It was the best way to spend a Monday. It reminded me that kids are resilient. That perhaps there is a bit of hope when it comes to the next generation.

To top all of this magic off, it is spring and that means rhubarb and asparagus (I am lacking a smooth transition today, oops). After eating a breakfast of vegan, gluten-free banana pancakes with homemade nutella (what?!? So delish) at my favorite spot for a bestie’s birthday we popped by the Ballard Farmers Market.

Perfection looks like bundle after bundle of fresh asparagus. It looks like baskets of fern fronds and bushels of arugula. Perfection is the realization that we are entering the time of year when eating local produce is easy. SO. MANY. VEGETABLES.

Thank heavens.

I bought the rhubarb on a whim. Mainly because it was so beautiful and my excitement got the better of me. This spontaneous purchase resulted in making a batch of rhubarb compote—one of the easiest things to make in the world. This delicious, honey sweetened concoction is best when plopped on coconut milk yogurt or ice cream. Highly recommended.

It is quite the way to ring in the spring. (Rhyming! Huzzah!)

Honey Sweetened Rhubarb Compote

4 cups rhubarb

½ cup water

¼ honey

Juice of ½ lemon

-Wash and cut up rhubarb into thin chunks.

-Place all ingredients (except honey) in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.

-Reduce to a simmer and cook down until rhubarb is soft—about 15/20 minutes—stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

-After the compote has cooled, pour through a fine sieve to get rid of the excess liquid.

-Add the honey and stir everything together.

-Put in an adorable jar and pop on whatever tickles your fancy.