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The Foodie Experience Continues…

I hate to talk about food, food, food…but here we are. More food. It almost seems silly to be giving you a blow, by blow, but if you knew how hard it is for us to find really good vegetarian food, it would be understandable what an EXPERIENCE this has been! But, really, It’s a little like food porn…

We had lunch at a little place called Cheryl’s on 12th. Well, brunch really. Yelp gave it 4 1/2 stars, so we were expecting good things, and we were not disappointed.

They started us with a little beignet (French Donut) that was light and delicious.

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I ordered the eggs benedict with avocado instead of canadian bacon. Wow. Amazing.

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Mr. Tattered had  french toast made with challah bread. I didn’t have any, but it sure looked good!

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I suspect we may be going back tomorrow!

But as good as it was, it was not the highlight of our food consumption today.

For dinner, we went to a tiny little place place called Farm Spirit.

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It is a vegan restaurant that cooks with only foods grown within 150 miles of its location, most of it much closer. The chef/owner was our host and artistic plater. It was fun watching him create his little masterpieces.

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It is far from a traditional restaurant. Seating is at a long counter, with the food plating going on right in front of us, and is limited to 12 people per seating. Ours was the early seating, 12 courses. The later seating has 15-16 courses (we’re doing that next time!) Tickets had to be purchased in advance, and were non-refundable. When we made the arrangements, the first available seating was nearly a month out. It seemed crazy for a place to be THAT popular, so we were expecting good things.

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For an additional charge, you could purchase wine pairings, and for the non-drinkers, house-made juice/kombucha. Since I’m particular about my wine, I chose the juice pairing, and a great choice it was – I experienced some new and unusual flavors that made me wonder why I ever have wine! Seriously, they were that good. Mr. Tattered had the wine pairing, and he enjoyed his, too!

So, 12 courses. This is how I LOVE to eat, just a couple of bites of many different things. Especially if it is really odd sounding stuff!

But the icing on the cake? Everything was presented in fun, trendy containers, and plated like little pieces of art!

1st up a dense seeded rye bread with with first press canola oil butter, paired with a Pear/juniper spritzer.

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Next, just a bite – they were so cute – pickled green beans, dried shallots and filberts.

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Then, served on a shale tile, a little bite of “massaged” kale wrapped around a filling of green strawberry and pepitas. This may have been my favorite of the evening.

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4th course, a savory squash fritter and smoked walnut milk sauce.

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Next, a fermented broth with filbert and herb stuffed turnip raviolis and minced apple. YUM!

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Somewhere along the line, came new juices, apple/fennel shrub and chamomile kombucha.

I think we’re at 6th course now – half way – beets with hazelnut/fermented mushroom cream, huckleberry and watercress (our host said they picked it out of the yards in the neighborhood, and I don’t think he was kidding!)

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7th, winter mushrooms and walnuts over abernaki porridge (surely everyone is familiar with abernaki porridge! Heeheehee! Wut?)

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Next, kohlrabi soup with charred brussel sprout leaves, chestnuts and chives.

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The 9th course (paired with a mean/thyme shrub) was poached and seared celeriac, principe borghese tomato preserve, onion sauce and shiso was my least favorite – a little strong  for my taste. It also won the “oddest presentation of the night award,” for the smallest serving on the largest plate.

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And then, nebrodini mushrooms on sprouted faro with charred cabbage and brown mushroom sauce.

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Before dessert, a cleansing raspberry kefir in the cutest little bottle – half the fun of this was the darling presentation! It was like food art!

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The last “juice” was a ginger root beer to go with dessert, parsnip cake with parsnip cream and sweet huckleberry sauce. I know, it sounds totally weird, but it was delish.

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This was unlike anything we’ve ever done before, and BOTH of us really enjoyed it. Mr. Tattered is the one who came up with brilliant idea… This man of mine is really starting to get to know me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portland, Oregon – Foodie Trip

Seems like a lot of our vacations are more for the scenery than the food, and that’s fine. If I have to choose, seeing amazing sights is more important than what we’re eating.

But every once in awhile it’s nice to have a “foodie” experience.

I can’t say that we’re experts in culinary experiences, but we do have tastes that are outside the norm, and love to try new things, sometimes the odder sounding, the better. We consider ourselves to be fledgling “foodies.”

So we arrived at the airport in Portland late afternoon, and took the train to the Pearl District, where we’ll be staying for 3 nights. It’s a refurbished warehouse district, kinda upscale with trendy shops and lots of brewhouses and restaurants.

The weather is c-c-c-c-c-cold and rainy, so I don’t know how much looking around we’ll be doing, but if our initial assessment is correct, if we can get out, there will be a lot to see.

I’ve already scoped out a gift shop with a rooster as its logo (so it must be fun!) a Dick Blick’s art supply store (I may be in trouble – but hopefully it’s not as good as I’ve heard it is!) a “free People” clothing store (only one of my very favorite brands – they sell it at Macy’s but I’ve never seen a whole store full of it!) Yikers! AND, we walked by a fancy hair salon (Glow) that accepts walk-ins, and if I don’t chicken out, I may try that messy bob haircut I was fantasizing about yesterday. I mean, hey, it’s kinda like the universe wants me to do it, doncha think? And on top of that, a Starbucks for our morning coffee. Life is good.

All of that, just walking to the Deschutes Brewery for dinner.

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The one in Bend is one of our favorite places to eat, and we were looking forward to the garlic-lovers pizza (after a little adult beverage – Mr. Tattered’s favorite beer is Deschutes Black Butte Porter, and I rarely meet a Pinot Gris I don’t like!) But alas, the menu here is different – no pizza.

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However, there were more things on the menu that sounded good than we could try in one evening.

We started off sharing a big bowl of roasted tomato soup with jalapeño pesto and artisan jalapeño bread. Great choice. Very hearty with a nice kick.

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For our main course Mr. Tattered had a slab of soho salmon (caught this summer and flash frozen on the boat) on a bed of spaetzel (a small, dense German pasta) with spinach and mustard sauce. He enjoyed it very much.

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I had an Israeli coucous with curry sauce, and roasted sweet potatoes, cauliflower, cashews, and cashew cream, topped with crispy kale. It was incredible!

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For dessert we shared a slice of pumpkin spice cake with cream cheese frosting drizzled with a healthy serving of caramel and toasted pecans. Two bites was about all I could stuff down, but it was delish!

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So, our little “foodie” getaway is off to a really good start.

 

 

Bad Hair Life

Some people complain about having a bad hair day. I have a bad hair life. No kidding. In my whole life I’ve had very few haircuts I really like. And even if I DO accidentally get one I like, I can never duplicate at home what they do in the salon.

So, I end up just letting it grow, air dry it and call it a day. Worse yet, when I do get it cut, I go to Supercuts, where all haircuts look alike. It’s pretty sad.

I don’t know if I am challenged in this area, or just lazy.

But one way or another, I am RARELY happy with the way my hair looks. Most of the time, I just ignore it and move on with life. So this morning, I’m trying to analyze why it’s bugging me so much now. With so much going on in the world that is so much more important than what my hair looks like, why now?

I think it may be that I am feeling like I have so little control over outside forces that I need to find something, ANYTHING, I can control.

So I went to (where else?) Pinterest to check out hairstyles, and found one I REALLY like.

But it’s a young face.

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I can almost picture it on an old, wrinkly face with silver hair, a less defined jaw line and chicken skin. Almost.

So what do you think? Should I try it?

 

 

I’m Lucky and I Know It

I hardly know where to start on this one.

You know how much I LOVE to travel. There are very few places in the world I WOULDN’T want to go (any?) and my list of places I hear about that I definitely want to go just keeps growing.

Fortunately, Mr. Tattered is not only willing to go along with most of my crazy ideas, but he does the vast majority of the work required to make each and every trip “the trip of a lifetime.”

I spent a few hours today sorting photos from the Italy leg of our 2014 trip. 1900+ photos of extreme wonderfulness. Fortunately, Costco did an EXCELLENT job (this time) of keeping the photos in consecutive order, something that doesn’t happen with every purchase. It made a job that could have taken weeks go by pretty quickly.

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It will still be a big job getting them into albums, but this was the part I was dreading. I would much rather be doing the documenting than the planning!

While I was doing that, Mr. Tattered was going over the final plans for our fall trip to Africa and Amsterdam. He has spent hours and hours and hours researching tour companies, hotels, transportation options, and activities, and today was finally ready to make the reservations and make deposits.

There is so much to it, making sure we can get from place to place, finding places to stay, and deciding on activities. I would NEVER have the patience or the attention to detail to do it.

You may be wondering why Africa and Amsterdam! I know, it seems like an odd combination.

It’s not easy to get to Africa. No matter how you end up doing it, there are challenges.

We were in Amsterdam in 2014, and really liked it, hoping to get back someday. And as luck would have it, there are many flights from Amsterdam to Africa and back. So, it seemed like a good way to do both.

We’ll fly into Amsterdam and stay for a couple of days to acclimate to the time change. Then on the way back we’ll stay for another 4 days to get in some sight-seeing. Last time we couldn’t get in to the Anne Frank House because it books up a long time in advance, so we’ll go there, then I’d also like to go out into the countryside on a day tour to see the windmills. And of course there will be some maple waffles…I can STILL taste them!

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But Africa is the main attraction and he’s come up with a spectacular itinerary, starting with a visit to Rwanda to go “gorilla-trekking” where we’ll see two different silver back gorilla families. From there we go to Tanzania where we’ll see some beautiful scenery along with the animals we’ve only seen on t.v and in the zoo. There will be numerous days spent out “on safari,” but with a little touch of luxury. Kinda like “glamping” in the wilds of Africa. It sounds amazing, and I have to tell you, of all the trips we’ve taken, this is the one I’m most looking forward to.

So, yeah. I’m a lucky girl, and I know it!

 

Happy Memories

Sometimes good  ideas come from the oddest places.

I was watching a really lame t.v. show, and one of the characters said something deep – in order to keep himself moving forward in the face of adversity, he makes a happy memory every day. Every single day. Just one. No matter what.

What a great idea!

I’ve regularly done the “gratitude” thing, remembering to be grateful every single day.

But I can’t say I’ve ever thought of making a happy memory every day. I THINK it happens. But I honestly haven’t made a point of consciously thinking about it.

I’ve seen these jars people are doing where they write down a memory a week and put it in the jar to look back on at the end of the year, not 365 a year. That feels a little cumbersome.

Maybe just a note at the bottom of each page of my engagement planner? I found a new one this year with the art of Lisa Kaus (one of my favorite artists these days.) And to be honest, we’re two weeks into the new year and I haven’t even used it yet! This idea made me dig it out.

It’s so cute.

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And there’s plenty of room for a memory a day.

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This feels doable. It doesn’t require an artsy project that I KNOW I’ll never find the time for. It’s just remembering to jot down a little note each day. It’s possible the hardest part will be deciding which happy memory to write down!

I like it.

 

Day #21 GBII – Yes, I’ve Been a Craft Snob

Before I get onto the actual post, let me say, today is the last day of my 21 day “Getting Back Into It” (GBII) challenge.

21 days ago, I decided I either needed to get back to tending my blog, or retire it. After much consideration, I decided I wasn’t ready to give it up, so I set up a challenge for myself to blog every day for 21 days, whether I felt like it or not. They say it takes 21 days to form a habit, so I used that for the basis of deciding on a timeline.

Now that day 21 is here, I feel like I’m getting ready to leave rehab, and I’m a little scared. There is no halfway house to back me up and help me work back into daily life on my own. Please don’t feel like I’m making light of “actual” rehab. I know this isn’t NEARLY as difficult, but it’s the closest analogy I could come up with.

So, I’m going to keep going on “my program.”

I’m not going to continue to number the days, but I am going, to the best of my ability, to continue to blog every day. At least until I feel certain I can a break for a day and jump back in. I’m not there yet. Reminds me a little of the trauma I’ve had with my fitbit. The first day of not hitting 10K steps was painful, then day 2 was easier, and before long, I just quit caring.

I don’t want to do that again with my blog.

And on that note, Day #21 GBII.

What is a craft snob, you wonder?

It’s someone who thinks that not every “handmade thing” rises to the level of an “acceptable” craft.

I remember well, back in the days when I took my art/crafts to shows to sell, walking through the show and thinking to myself pejoratively, “jeez, there’s not much here other than knitted scarves and crocheted baby booties. How can this be considered a craft show?” That perception continued for decades. Knitting and crocheting were not, in my mind, crafts. It was something old ladies did in their spare time.

Fast forward to about 4 years ago.

Hannah, my eldest grandchild, was 8, and she decided she wanted to learn how to knit. Neither of us can remember why (there’s probably a post back then explaining why, but I’m going to go with “we’ve forgotten!”)

I “think” I learned when I was a child. It would have been my grandmother who taught me (assuming I’m not hallucinating the whole thing – I can’t recover a single memory of learning, or of seeing her knit, but the steps were familiar enough that somehow I had to have been exposed to it.)

If I was going to teach Hannah, I was going to have to re-learn (or learn!) myself. So, I pulled up a beginning knitting tutorial on youtube and began to practice. Well, for me, practice meant “doing it.” I rarely have the patience to practice ANYTHING before jumping into an actual project.

I was thrilled to pieces with my finished scarf, even though it had MANY booboos in it, and I was addicted.

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Seeing a photo of it now, it wasn’t really as bad as I remember it being! Heeheehee!

Then, novice that I was, the lessons began – a little like the blind leading the blind. She completed a little “rug” for her dollhouse, and never picked up the needles again. She just didn’t have the patience to put in the time necessary to get good at it.

I went on to make another 6 or 7 scarves, then put away the needles and didn’t pick them up again until recently. Mr. Tattered found the scarf I had made for myself hanging in the closet and asked if he could wear it out for a walk one chilly morning. He wore it every day for weeks before I decided I should make him one of his own for Christmas. He is SOOOOO difficult to buy for, and normally buys himself whatever he wants, so it was a perfect plan.

But it had been quite awhile since I’d knitted at all, and it was almost like starting all over again. And I was VERY rusty. I made mistake after mistake. Intellectually I knew he would love it mistakes and all, but this wasn’t for a kid who couldn’t tell the difference. He would know. And although he wouldn’t point them out, or ask, “what happened here?” I would know. And it just wasn’t acceptable. So I started over and over again until the mistakes were small enough that I could live them, and eventually I completed it. In time for Christmas. Barely.

That was followed by one for Lexi who wasn’t around for the first series.

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Doesn’t that look snuggly around her little neck?

And then I found a lavender/purple yarn that Bea would love and made another,

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She loves it!

…and found the one I had started for Josh half finished (I wondered why he never wore his! Ha! It would be pretty hard since it was still on the needles and tucked into a bag – another example of “unfinished projects!) And now I find myself addicted once again.

I carry around a bag of 3-4 scarves in varying stages of completion, so if I have a few minutes of downtime, I can knit away. Josh’s had more mistakes in it than I could live with this time around, so 6” from completion, I ripped it apart and started over. At first I was slightly appalled at myself, but the new version is on larger needles, and I’m much happier with it. Sometimes being anal is a good thing.

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I now consider myself to be an acceptable basic knitter. I know one stitch, and I can do it over and over with no easily discernible errors. I can’t tell you how many hours I have under my belt, but it is in the hundreds, I would think. And I can’t do ANYTHING fancy. I can do one basic stitch, well enough. I’m trying knitting with fabric strips, which is a little more difficult, and I’m also trying to work up the courage to try a new stitch. I cannot consider myself to be an accomplished knitter, even after all the hours I’ve logged.

And with admitting that came the realization that I had been a “craft snob” when I looked down at all those women practicing their craft hour after hour, day after day, year after year, and getting REALLY GOOD at it. It’s not as easy as it looks.

Now, Bea, who is 8, wants to learn. I had yarn left from her scarf, so we got her started on one for her American Girl doll. And as I watch her struggle, but persevere, I am reminded again that learning to knit is not easy.

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There is a lesson there.

It may not have been anything I was interested in at the time, but I should not have allowed that to give me permission to look down on what they were doing. It was their “craft” and they were very good at what they did. I’m hoping that I now have a better appreciation for ALL arts/crafts. They may not all be “my style,” or anything I would want to own, but I will appreciate it for the skill/effort it took to do it, and the courage shown by putting it out there for people to see.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day #20 GBII – About Those Grandkids…

As most of you know, I have four grandchildren, ranging in age from almost three to twelve, three girls and one boy. And they are four of the lights of my life (I am so very fortunate to have MANY lights – I NEVER forget that, and am eternally grateful.)

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I am “Gaga,” a name bestowed upon me by the eldest when she was first learning to talk, and it stuck. I LOVE my name, and the silly things they change it to, Gawgs, Gawgie, Gawgsmagawgs…We love nick names in our family!

I am fortunate to have a different relationship with them than many grandmothers have with their grandchildren. First, we live close by (and many don’t – even though they’d love to!) but the main reason for the difference is that I don’t have the luxury of spoiling them and sending them home. Because I care for them while their parents work, any spoiling means that I have to live with the little monsters I help to create. So, I have to restrain myself from giving them EVERYTHING they want, and I have to discipline from time to time. They have learned (for the most part) that they want to avoid the “wrath of Gaga.” I don’t lose it often , but when I do, they pay attention. I think their parents appreciate that I lecture, and counsel and remind them how lucky they are to have parents that love them so much and take such good care of them, and occasionally even stand them in a corner.

Now that doesn’t mean I don’t spoil them, because I have certainly been known to go a little overboard (don’t laugh, parentals, I could be a lot worse, trust me on that! I DO rein myself in pretty regularly.)

Most of my indulgences are educational in nature, particularly books. I LOVE to read, and I want them to, as well. Hannah was a bookworm from the get-go, like her mom before her. She’s not only reading far above grade level, but she’s a prolific reader. She’s got a book (or now, Kindle) in her face a LOT of the time. It took Bea and Josh a little longer to get hooked on reading, but Bea has arrived, and Josh is quickly getting there. If books didn’t have to compete with video games, I think he’d be there, too. He’s finally learned how how to put himself into the book, which is where the magic happens! Both Bea and Josh are reading significantly above grade level, as well. Lexi is following suit, and even though she doesn’t actually “read” yet, she loves looking at books, even ones with no pictures, because she sees the older ones doing it, and she wants to be like them, especially her brother!  She’s already asked me to teach her to read, and is a little frustrated that she has to learn what the letters are called and what they say before she can actually read. It’s not that she doesn’t like the process, but it isn’t going quickly enough to suit her! She just wants to sit down and do it. Theres no doubt in my mind she’ll be an early reader.

Hannah is now taller than me, something she just LOVES. She likes to pat me on the head and call me “Little Gaga.” I pretend to be offended, but I have to admit I love it. The teenaged eye rolls, not so much – but I guess they come with the territory. I had hoped she would always think I was really smart (unlike parents who get dumber and dumber by the day, until that magical time when they realize their parents really did know what they were talking about, after all) but alas, I’m afraid I’m getting dumb, too. But, all the wisdom I’m imparting is going into the hard drive, and eventually she will be able to access it. I keep telling myself.

These days, my duties are really more that of a “chauffeur” for the three oldest, at least during the school year. I don’t feel like I get to spend enough time just goofing around with them any more. Games of UNO and Skip-bo are fewer and further between, and I miss them. Josh and I have have had lots of fun over cards – he is a good loser, although he’s been known to clobber me! We love the trash talk and laugh a lot.

Bea is probably closest to being my “mini-me” at this point. We love doing art together, although we don’t often have time! But Lexi may be following in our footsteps. She’s into decorating and loves to help Gaga shop for decor. She is a total enabler, often telling me, “you NEED that, Gaga!”

But, now there’s school, and sports, and dance, and coding class (yes, the three oldest are going to a class where they are learning HTML, and are constructing simple websites using code, rather than templates!) They are all well-rounded. There just aren’t enough hours in the day…

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I LOVE it when they go along with my goofy ideas!

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We like going to Big Spoon for frozen yogurt! And they like being silly!

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We have a good time, even when it’s just going out to lunch!

You wouldn’t know it from the photos, but we aren’t ALWAYS eating! It’s just easier to get pictures when they are!

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So for now, it’s mostly me and Lexi, although she’s just started pre-school, and goes to ballet, so even that is changing.

As much as I wish it would, time just won’t stand still.

I’m enjoying it as much as I can while I have it. Before I know it, they will all be off on their own, and their time with “Gawgs” will be a distant memory. Yikers!

I am looking forward to summer already!

 

 

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