Portland Food Tour 2014

I am a Seattle girl through and through but I must admit I love Portland to itty bitty pieces. There’s a lot to love about Portland but one of the better reasons is the food. I don’t think I can ever spend enough time there to eat at all the worthy restaurants. The last time Janet and I went to Portland we spent time with three absolutely wonderful places. I can’t wait to go back!

Killer Burgers

I have a special place in my heart for cheeseburgers. My food pyramid has cheeseburgers and beers at the top. Killer is a relatively new establishment and Janet talked me into going with her. It wasn’t very hard to do: she asked and I said yes. We went in for dinner on a Thursday night and there weren’t many people in the rather large dining area. We ordered at the counter and went to wait for our double patty burger (which we split, a much better bun to burger ratio).

We waited for approximately 20 minutes. The whole time we’re thinking ‘what a waste of time’ and ‘why are we still here?’ When they brought our burger out we noticed it had bacon on it. Apparently, all their burgers are served with bacon. Things were looking up. It only took one bite before we were both hooked on Killer Burgers. The patties were juicy on the inside and slightly crispy on the outside. The cheese and bacon were perfectly distributed and enhanced the burger. This burger was so good I will think about it until I go back to make sure it wasn’t a fluke. Soon, I hope.

Sugar Mama’s Café

This place looked great from the outside: open and bright and inviting. The name also spoke to me, I love cafes and sugar. We went for breakfast and ordered an egg scramble. It was really good and their coffee was delicious. What really caught my eye was their freshly baked cinnamon roll. It looked so good Janet and I went back the next morning so I could order one.

Our delightful waitress heated up the cinnamon roll and smothered it in butter. I can vividly remember the sensation of the roll melting in my mouth. It was fluffy and sweet but not so sweet it was cloying. The cinnamon roll, along with their wonderful coffee, was all I needed to start my day. I had an omelet too but that’s beside the point.

Grassa

This is another new restaurant Janet saw on one of her walks and we decided to eat dinner there on Friday night. It’s a tiny space but they utilize it well. Two long communal tables are centrally located with tables, a counter, and a couple of booths along the perimeter. The waiters were friendly and helpful especially when their credit card machine wasn’t working properly. Unfortunately, they fixed the problem and we had to pay.

I was a little concerned with the menu. I’m not even close to the definition of an adventurous eater and when I saw the choices I had a mini panic attack. I noticed one of the noodle and fish dishes used squid ink and I asked Janet why anyone would do that to their food. She informed me that the ink didn’t have a flavor – it was just for show. I was a little concerned with black teeth but ordered the dish despite my reservations. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the pasta. It was a little weird, eating black pasta, but the flavor was a perfect symphony of pasta, fish, garlic and salt in my mouth. I think it was even better the next day as leftovers.

jenn

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Dear Jesse: Set Goals In Your Life

I know I mentioned this before, but I want to mention it again: please consider reading Sonia Sotomayor’s autobiography My Beloved World. Here is a woman who lived her life with one goal in mind. She wanted to be a judge. Not only did she become a judge, she became a Supreme Court Justice.

When Sonia (since I read her book I feel very close to her and figure she wouldn’t mind if I called her Sonia) was little, a doctor told her she had diabetes and, at the time, she was told people with Type 1 diabetes didn’t live very long. Instead of giving up on any dreams or hopes she had, Sonia decided, “I better hurry up and get this done, who knows how long I have.”

Quite a few people would listen to their doctors and stop living to their full potential thinking, “why bother? I’ll be dead soon. No point wasting my time studying or learning.” But not Sonia, she buckled down and did everything in her power to attain the goal she had set for herself, a goal which originated by watching the TV show, Perry Mason, no less!

She set very specific goals for herself and, when facing a decision in life, made choices which aimed her in the direction of her choice. Right after Sonia graduated from Yale Law School, she had a choice between a lucrative private sector job where she would have made a ton of money and a job as an assistant district attorney making hardly any money. Which job did she take? Sonia took the lower paying job because it was the easiest way to get a lot of experience in a courtroom; the only real way to become a judge. She realized the money would come later. That’s focusing on your long term goal.

If you don’t set goals for yourself, Jesse, how are you going to know how to live your life? For example: if you decided, right now, to retire from work at 45 and you made that your goal in life it would be helpful to live with that goal in mind before you’re in your 40s, right? You might not spend money frivolously, like a lot of people do, if you knew you wanted to retire early and travel.

You have an advantage at your age: you have your whole life in front of you. You don’t have to decide today what you want to do with the rest of your life. But maybe, in the back of your mind, you should start thinking about what makes you happy and what you see yourself doing when you get a little older.

I’m not trying to pressure you or tell you what to do, I just want you to think about things. It may seem like a long time until you reach adulthood but you’ll get there before you know it and I just want you to be as prepared as you can be for your future. Set goals, get to know yourself a little and think about the future. You could start by reading a wonderful little book I found: it’s called My Beloved World.

Love, Mom

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New Year’s Resolutions 2014

Every year I like to create a long list of resolutions so I have a good chance of finishing at least a few. I won’t bore you with all of them; I’m trying to be more concise.

Lose five pounds a quarter for a total of 20 pounds. I’ve done this same resolution for years now but I think I will take it seriously this year. I should weigh -320 pounds, if you add up all the 20 pounds over the years.

Gun safety class. We’ve been watching a lot of zombie and Hunger game movies; it seems like knowing how to handle a gun might be a good skill.

Introduce one new veggie a month. I have a hard time with vegetables. I just don’t like them. We tried to pick veggies which were in season and weren’t a normal part of our diet. January is Kale. Mmmm…I can’t wait.

Destination dinners once a month. Janet had a great idea, one of many I might add, a few months ago where Jesse picked a country and we made their national dish. She picked Morocco and their national dish is a stew called Tagine which we made with chicken. We bought the food together, cooked together and ate this together. It was delicious! Jesse even ate it declaring “these little garbanzo beans are good!”

Learn four songs on the Ukulele. Janet and I took a ukulele class and I just fell in love with the sound. How can you be in a bad mood when someone plays the ukulele? You just can’t. We learned Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in class but I really need to branch out. Right now I’m trying to learn Let Me Call You Sweetheart, and it sounds lovely. Oh btw, Janet: I now know the lyrics and they’re not “Let me call you sweetheart…I forgot your name”!

Learn Geography. I once read an article about a group of nuns in France who never (except for one case) see Alzheimer’s in their ranks. Their secret? They pick a subject they know nothing about and learn all they can about that subject for a year or two. For Janet and me that would be geography. Okay, a lot more topics but we picked geography.

jenn

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Roxy the Sensitive Boston Terrier

I have never met a dog quite like Roxy, my little Boston terrier. She has the most sensitive stomach I have ever seen. Since my daughter is twelve now, it’s been a while since I used diaper wipes; until I brought Roxy home. It’s also been a long time since I’ve been interested in another creatures bowel movements; until I brought Roxy home.

I have read about how some rescue dogs have stomach issues because of the things they eat when they are in the wild. That might be the case but I’m thinking Roxy is just a sensitive dog. Right from the beginning, we had issues with Roxy and her digestive track. We’ve spent a lot of money at the vet and the pet store trying to figure out how to make her stomach settle down and produce solids.

I now realize what needs to be done. I can never change her food, any part of it, ever. If her particular dog food goes out of business, I will just have to stop feeding Roxy altogether. Of course, I’m kidding. Roxy is 99% chowhound and 1% Boston. She wouldn’t survive the afternoon without food.

Right now Roxy is eating Canidae hard dog food with Trader Joe’s organic chicken broth mixed in (along with some water) and Trader Joe’s peanut butter flavored dog treats as the occasional snack when she can’t possibly take another step before she dies of starvation. I firmly believe Trader Joe’s has saved my little dog’s belly. I will write them a letter, explaining in depth, the issues Roxy has and how Trader Joe’s has helped. They’ll appreciate that.

Don’t read any further if you don’t have a dog or a child. I’m a little surprised at how happy I am with Roxy’s bowel movements this past week! I will never stray from her food regiment again. I will never ‘accidentally’ drop cheese on the floor again. Today, when I dropped a couple of Cheetos on the floor, I dove down, knocked Roxy out of the way and carefully carried the now soiled Cheetos to the garbage. I will not willingly go back to faucet butt, Roxy, sorry.

I thought I was going to cry a little this morning after Roxy had finished her morning business. I actually picked it up without smearing it all over the grass. Those disc shaped stink zones on your lawn? Like crop circles from a poop monster? Those are from Roxy; but not this morning!

I have never been this happy about another creature’s constitutionals. I honestly can’t remember ever getting this excited about my daughter’s. But once you have experienced nothing but liquid, it’s nice to see something solid sitting on top of the grass. I never thought I’d write about doggy doo, that is, until I brought Roxy home.

jenn

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Could You Turn the Heat Up, Please?

I had to turn on my electric blanket last night, I was so cold. That’s not the worst part. We’ve had the electric blanket on our bed since we moved into the condo in November. Our sheets, the electric blanket, and our down comforter…all summer long. Janet and I are a lot of things. Hardy is not one of them.

The four of us went over to Lopez Island to camp a couple of weekends ago and you’d think we were going to the actual tundra to camp, the way we packed. We brought hats and scarves and more layers than we could count. If we owned ski jackets we probably would have taken them along.

I grew up in Seattle but I think the last twenty years in Las Vegas/Texas ruined me for cold weather. How does everyone survive out here? I don’t remember any stories, last winter, about anyone freezing to death but it has to happen a few times a year, right? I’ll toughen up, I’m sure I will.

Janet swears she’ll feel better once she starts having hot flashes. I think she’s the only woman I know who is looking forward to menopause. She’ll finally be warm. Janet sent me an email about travel deals to Iceland and I wanted to send it back with this response: ARE YOU CRAZY? My fingers are experiencing frostbite just thinking about a place called Iceland.

My new job, as a groundskeeper for the condos, was a joy when the sun was shining. Now that it is officially Fall (on the calendar and outside) I’m getting a little nervous about working outside. What if Janet or Jessie come home and find a Jenn-popsicle over by the cabana? Would they fight over who gets my polar fleece jackets (which Jessie wears as a jacket and Janet wears as layer two of five)?

I told the condo HOA I would work until the end of the year, but that’s a lot of cold weather time from now. How many layers can I wear and still move around? Or will I be like Maggie from the Simpsons? Don’t worry about me, though, I have my polar fleece, a real fireplace, and my electric blanket. It’s 6pm: is it too early to go to bed?

jenn

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Hello Junior High

Jessie started seventh grade the other day. Out here in our neck of the woods, seventh grade is the start of Junior High. I was so excited for her I spent the whole day wondering where she was at that precise moment. It’s 9:30, where in the world is Jessie? Is she in Math! I hope so…I love math! (Jessie not so much.)

Jessie is growing up so fast. She’s growing about two inches a week (seems like) and shedding clothes and shoes like she thinks they’re disposable. She’s growing so fast she’s almost as tall as me. It makes my heart ache, a little, to look at her now. I can see the woman she will become, in her face, and it floors me because she is still my little girl. She’s just not so little anymore.

I’ve started a new chapter in my life, too: I got a job! I didn’t mean to it just kind of happened to me. Since Janet and I bought our condo I joined the HOA board to become more involved in our community. When the groundskeeper left a couple of weeks ago the other board members asked if I wanted to take over for him and much to my surprise I said yes.

The first day was great: I walked over twenty three thousand steps and never felt better. The next day, man, my feet hurt! It’s taken me three weeks to adjust but now my body feels back to normal. I’m averaging about sixteen thousand steps a day, have gotten to know several new neighbors and I don’t wobble when I walk anymore.

I told the rest of the board members I’ll work until the end of the year and we’ll take it from there but this seems like a great job for me at this moment; funny how life works out sometimes. It’s a part time job, flexible, allows me to spend time with Roxy the Boston Terrier, and I’m able to still be involved with Jessie’s life because, at the moment, she still likes me. That could change at any moment…right along with her shoe size!

jenn

ps. I still consider myself a writer, it just became too hard to promote a book all by myself. I signed up with Bella books and they told me they would publish Blue Hydrangeas sometime in early spring. That’s a long time from now, from my point of view, and I haven’t been writing much lately. I just haven’t felt like it much. So, this new job is perfect for me: keeps me busy and out of trouble (Janet hopes) and when Bella does need me to do something…I’m ready!

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