20Twenty-1One-4Four Review

So it’s been a while. Remember what I said about the theme of 2014?

20Twenty-1One-4Four: The Year of More

Meme - Star Trek

Well, we *definitely* did that… and since I shared none of it here, let me just include a brief year in review so that we can jump, jump, jump ahead!

Healthy Schmealthy Stuff

Walking, yoga, so many park strolls with my slave-driver, Fitbit. Suffice it to say, it was a good year of crunchy granola Portland goodness and awesome little yoga studios on Stark & 28th Avenue!

Big Girl Job Stuff [aka, Work]

Well, they say that opportunity comes knocking when you are least expecting it… and it certainly does! After a crazy busy 2013 and a decision to settle into a more calm 2014 professionally, I ended up accepting a new position as Development Director for Girls Inc. of the Pacific Northwest! They really couldn’t be a better organization, so I am thrilled to be helping them to realize their potential!

New Journeys, New Streets, New Doors

Did we do stuff in 2014?? I’m sure we did… it’s kinda a blur… here’s a recap of some highlights:

  • Favorite Coffee Shop – See See Motorcycles! Stumptown for me, bikes and gear for the hubby… does it get any better? Oh yes, it does, they have sausage breakfast sandwiches!!
  • Favorite Urban Getaway – Lan Su Chinese Gardens! Tucked away behind four walls in Portland’s somewhat dingy Chinatown, Lan Su is an urban escape of beautiful proportions.
  • Favorite Actual GetawayHaceta Head Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast! The closest you can get to staying in an actual lighthouse on the west coast… the views of the iconic light through your bedroom window is haunting and unforgettable!
  • Favorite New RestaurantTrifecta Tavern & Bakery! From the glutteny-goodness of Ken Forkish, Trifecta is equal parts bread, smokey cocktails, and seasonal small plates. Disclaimer: the hubby happens to work there, so you know, we’re regulars!
  • Favorite Hidden GemC.C. Stern Type Foundry! This little industrial hideaway is a step back in time with first-hand knowledge of an incredible profession. Smelling of lingering metal and quality paper, this is a perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon.
  • Favorite Portland PastimeRose City Rollers! These ladies are about as badass as they come, with such creative names that my marketing director in me wants to steal all the idea.

No matter how quickly this year flew by, Portland was, as it always is, a pleasure to enjoy! Don’t go so fast Portland, let’s stop to enjoy the flowers soon, hey?

PIC - Portland

And Did We Mention…

2014 brought big news in the form of a very small beginning:

PIC - Baby

“Even the Baby is Homemade!”

Thus, ever in pursuit of that balance that we all talk about, we can’t really hope for anything more wonderful in 2015 other than health, happiness, and so much time with our newest little family member. Thus, this New Year, with all of its new changes and chaos, will be aptly named:

20Twenty-1One-5Five: Stayin’ Alive, Stayin’ Alive!

Oh, and once again, I really would love to blog some more.

And on that note, I will end with something of a new mantra for myself…

In the Words of the young Erin Hanson:
| what if i fall? | oh, but darling, | what if you fly? |

Advertisements

Say It Ain’t So.

IMG_3669

It’s the post-holiday travel rush and we are arriving back to Portland. I have good news, and I have bad news. The good news: at least one coffee shop is still open at 11:00pm. The bad news: I’ve heard some awful news:

There is a terrible rumor going around that Portland International Airport will be replacing its iconic, and oh-so-retro carpeting in the near future. But it can’t be so! This carpet means “home” to returning Portlanders, so much so, in fact, that there is an entire KATU Article dedicated to the topic, and a huge following on the Carpet at Portland Airport’s Facebook Page. I’ve done the signature feet & PDX carpet photo myself – I have small feet – see above. And yet, this may be the last one I get to take…

Since the rumor remains… and may be less than a rumor at this point… I am considering investing in some trademark PDX Carpet Socks, or better yet, a T-Shirt, that will only be well understood by those that hold a special place for this quirky, foot-bearing, ultra large size “Welcome Home” mat that greets us on every return. But seriously Portland: say it ain’t so.

A Very Homemade Christmas

IMG_3561

In keeping with the homemade theme that began with the From Scratch Cookout, the hubs and I decided to go all Martha Stewart on this Christmas… without the glitter and lace. Simply put, we had four families to gift – 2 sets of parents, and 2 sets of sisters & brother-in-laws and with a hectic (and already pricey) November & December at play, this was not going to be the holiday to get fancy, but rather, to get cooking! So here’s our three step process to creating an entirely Homemade Christmas.

IMG_3496

STEP 1: Fa-La-La-La-La… Stop Procrastinating!

Yeah, we discovered the hard way that a Homemade Christmas is not a one-day shopping deal, but rather, a roughly 6 week affair with your kitchen, and fridge, and a shelf or two of a closet. So when you are deciding on the gifting specifics, think long and hard about what things you can actually accomplish. Try to plan it out as follows:

  • Long Projects – think ferments/pickles, beers/ciders, or any other endeavor that requires nature to take it’s time with the process. Start these early, or skip them entirely!
  • Mid Projects – think pretty things that might require painting, assembling, or very special packaging. Since we did all edible goods, this one wasn’t an issue.
  • Short Projects – do not mistake this for meaning “easy” or “short”. Most of our homemade items were “quick” projects that still took the majority of an afternoon or weekend day – these are the items that you cook/bake a few days out and don’t need lengthy prep or lactofermentation to be successful.

If you pick only one or two Longs, one or two Mids, and a handful of Shorts, you should have a great mix of projects that won’t have you up at 2am on Christmas Eve.

IMG_3634

STEP 2: Set the “Menu” & Get Cooking/Prepping

As I mentioned, we went with all edible homemade stuff – mainly because I have a husband with some pretty awesome cooking ability. Our menu looked like this:

  • Hot Giardiniera, Pickled Corn Relish & Saurkraut with Caraway – Long Projects, since we were doing a long ferment to keep all those good probiotics. We started these about 6 weeks out and jarred them (open-air) on a shelf in a closet to allow the bubbling to do its thing. Before packaging, we refrigerated to stop the fermentation process and avoid any bottle breakage.
  • Vanilla Bean Scented Sugar – another Long Project, mainly because the white sugar and spliced vanilla beans have to be an a large container together for quite some time to absorb all that vanilla-ey goodness. We used a plastic quart container and just shook the contents every few days to keep the sugar from sticking.
  • Bacon Slab & Hickory Smoked Salt – both Short Projects, but also convenient since they are accomplished simultaneously. While the bacon prep can take some time (so start early), the actually “cooking” day can doubly as your Smoked Salt day, since the smoking is already taking place – two birds with one very tasty bacon slab.
  • Hibiscus Ginger Soda Syrup – one of my favorites! A super Short Project that is totally unexpected by even the most from scratch gurus. The premise is to make any simple syrup concoction that could be easily added to club syrup to make an awesome – and healthier – soda drink. We chose hibiscus because we still had some dried flowers from our trip to North Africa and ginger, well, simply because it sounded good with hibiscus. Heat in water, add sugar, reduce, cool, and bam. Done.
  • Orange Bourbon Marmalade – this was initially going to be a pear or berry jam, but turns out, oranges are way cheaper in December. This is another long-ish Short Project that you can “spice up” with all kinds of nice add-ins, we went with Bourbon. 🙂
  • Granola with Nuts & Berries – a wonderfully Short Project, I had no idea how easy it was to make Granola! We added dried raisins, cranberries, and sliced almonds, but you could obviously to whatever the heck you wanted with this amazing stuff!
  • Mustard & Ketchup – probably not the norm for most, but our niece/nephew love their “dips”. These are Short Projects, but you’ll need a full afternoon/day for both. And unless you have an absolute ketchup lover, my personal opinion is to skip the hassle!

A few non-edibles that we are considering for future gifts that continue with the mason-jar, farm kitchenesque theme (and here’s a Pinterest Collection to get the wheel spinning):

  • Scented soap in mason jar pumps
  • Welded mason jar mugs with homemade brew/cider
  • Scented candles in mason jar glasses
  • Tinted or painted mason jar vases
  • Mason jar snow globes – for the kids – love that idea!
  • So. Many. Mason. Jars.

IMG_3632

STEP 3: …And Top It With A Bow …or ribbon, or cloth, or something.

The great thing about homemade gifts? The wrapping can be homemade [read as: inexpensive] too! We purchased 30 jar labels, a fine-point Sharpie, and Holiday ribbon tape (about $11 total) and then cut up some old pillow cases and used other odd bits around the house to do the rest. We didn’t really have a plan, other than to label each item (make sure to label – they have no idea what you made!) and to add a little something that made it look festive. But trust us, the hard work is already done, so don’t stress about it! (And if you have to ship, like the family package below, then skip the extras, since you’ll want to squeeze everything you can into a pre-pay box – no frills!) Then into a basked it all goes – these baskets are likely the ones that you received gift goodies in from a previous holiday season – and voila!

And did I mention… you should *definitely* eat all the extra! Yum!!

IMG_3592

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: