Life has gotten so busy lately that I ended up taking an unexpected break from blogging. I’m not complaining… the busy has been wonderful, creative, and full of inspiration. It has also given me a TON of new content that I just have to get around to finding the time to craft and share posts about. Below are a few snapshots of life lately and some looks into what you’ll be seeing on the blog in the very near future.
Disclaimer: I received some free product and/or free entry into an event. Everything is disclosed below. All opinions are my own.
Disclaimer: I received a complementary happy hour and cocktail instruction from Aviary Restaurant in SE Portland for review purposes. I was not otherwise compensated. Check out my review of the Aviary Happy Hour.
While enjoying several tasty dishes and cocktails at Aviary’s Happy Hour last week the barman Russ Hunsinger shared how he came up with one of Aviary’s most popular cocktails, the Brix Layer. Not only did he share his inspiration and thoughts behind the tasty concoction, but he pulled together a make shift bar in the dining room and showed us how to make it!
Russ came up with the drink while hanging out with friends, drinking Cabernet. He really wanted to figure out a way to create a cocktail that utilized the wine. He started off using a basic old fashioned recipe and working from there. The layering of the drink happened naturally and changes with the type of whiskey or cab used.
This recipe is only an approximation of the awesomeness we tasted at Aviary. But, I wanted to share with those of you that didn’t live in the Portland area and just have to schedule a trip to Aviary in to a future visit to our lovely city.
*You can use any sour really, but the Aviary House Sour is made with lemon, lime, orange juice, and sugar. So, to get a similar taste you should use a homemade fresh sour that has orange juice in it. Try out this sweet-and-sour recipe from Baked Bree.
Disclaimer: I was invited by Aviary to try out their Happy Hour drinks and food items with other bloggers free of charge. I was not otherwise compensated.
I had heard about Aviary Restaurant from a few of my foodie friends, but hadn’t ventured out to the SE restaurant until this past week. I’m sort of kicking myself for not trying it sooner. It was seriously amazing.
I brought my DSLR to take amazing photos. But, when I got it out to shoot it flashed the dreaded, “No CF Card” message at me. Of course. So, I iPhoned it the entire night. I did manage to catch a couple of beautiful photos…however, if you wanna go check out some really amazing photos of this event then check out my friend Michelle’s Hummingbird High post about the event.
The food and drinks at Aviary were filled with complex flavors, prepared in a simple and delicious fashion. I even ate pig feet and loved it (still happy I didn’t know what it was before I tried it!) We enjoyed several of the Aviary Happy Hour menu items including: kusshi oysters, tempura green beans, pulled pork sliders, brussels sprout nachos (OMG—why have I never made this at home!?), trotter n eggs, and bread and bagna cauda. So good. You could totally see the references to Japanese and Korean food in the menu. But, it was completely its own style of food. The Happy Hour food prices range from $2 to $6. I didn’t try one thing that I didn’t like (though, admittedly, I don’t meet many foods I don’t enjoy.) My favorites were the oysters (a little bit of spice!) and the brussels sprout nachos.
The only bad thing about going to a cocktail party is that I want to try as many different cocktails as possible, but I also want to remain a responsible person and not get sloshed at the dinner table. Thankfully for me, many of the food bloggers weren’t too worried about germs and were very generous in allowing sample sips. I was able to really taste several different cocktails! Coming from a bar background I have to say that I was incredibly impressed with the quality ingredients and beautiful preparation of each of the drinks that I tried. The drinks that I tried include: pinkerton, one night in bangkok, high and low, milkplus vellocet, brix layer, and the opera sidecar. All of them were delicious. Drink prices range from $9 to $10— which is common for the quality ingredients and large pours.
While at Aviary barman Russ Hunsinger shared with us how he came up with and makes the Brix Layer cocktail. I’ll be back tomorrow to share with you some of his tips and how he made this brilliant drink.
My favorite moment of the night was when Natalie (of Twelfth Avenue) asked Russ (the bartender) the name of her drink? The conversation went something like this:
Natalie: “What was this one again? One night in Bangkok? Or nights in bangkok?
Russ: “For you, it can be as many nights as you want.”
Check out the Aviary Restaurant for more information about their business hours, location, and menu. A big thank you to Aviary for inviting me out to try Happy Hour and teaching me to make the Brix Layer!
Check out these awesome blogs whose bloggers joined me in Happy Hour at Aviary:
This is part of my series featuring things to do in Portland , Or. I have several PNW readers and like to share some of the fun items that residents and visitors can do in the area!
Anyone who is in the Portland area this week and want to get out for an afternoon of fun and learning is invited to the GoodnessKnows Wellness Lounge. I think this would be a fun activity for stay-at-home moms and dads looking to get out of the house for the afternoon, homeschooling parents looking for a little educational field trip, or for a fun lunch break experience to those people (like my husband) who work downtown.
When: Wednesday, August 7 from 11 AM to 3 PM
Where: Pioneer Square, Morrison Corner, 701 SW 6th Avenue, Portland, Ore. 97204
Cost: Free admission!
What is going on!?
** This is NOT a sponsored post. I thought this information might be useful for some of my PNW followers. **
Disclaimer: I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a free trip courtesy of Amtrak for review purposes. The photos, videos, and opinions are entirely my own, based on my experience.
Yesterday I spent a lovely day traveling to and hanging out in Seattle, WA. I’ve never traveled on a train before. Sure, I’ve ridden the MAX (Portland’s Light Rail System) but, that isn’t the same.
The trip was one of my more relaxing and enjoyable trips I’ve ever had. I didn’t have to deal with traffic or making sure I had enough gas in the car. I was able to easily get up and walk around. The dining selection was tasty. The seats were big and comfortable. And, I had an outlet to plug in my phone. I will be riding with Amtrak again.
I had been super excited about having wifi on the train and being able to get some work done while traveling. Unfortunately, the wifi was a little spotty on the way up to Seattle and nonexistent on the way back. The conductor came on overhead and conveyed apologies for the problem, and several signs explained that having more reliable wifi was one of the things that Amtrak is working on. Honestly, if I had driven or flown I wouldn’t have had the option for free wifi either. So, I wasn’t too fussed.
Amtrak’s website even added a handy dandy guide of things to do when visiting Seattle. Next time I take a trip up I’ll be bookmarking this page as well and making sure I visit more of Seattle!
*** CONTEST OVER: Currently Amtrak is having a promotion trying to find the best photo or video for promotional purposes through its Instagram fans hashtagging “#amtrakgram” until August 11. Winners will receive travel vouchers! Check out the AmtrakGram website for more information.****
Disclaimer: I was provided a Local Plate meal for two to review for this post. All opinions are my own. See my policies page for more information.
I know it isn’t just Portland that is on this trend to try to eat more local and support the local businesses. I’m glad that the trend has been sweeping the nation. I’m not as much as an alarmist as my husband, but I do believe that we will someday need the skills to source our food locally, be able to grow food, and definitely need to know how to cook items instead of having things that have been processed for us.
I was thrilled when Nicholas from Local Plate approached me about their new business providing the ingredients for delicious meals with all locally sourced ingredients. I was even more excited when he said that they deliver! The hard thing about eating locally is finding all the ingredients for a meal in one place. If you are lucky and can think on your feet, you can find local ingredients for entire meals at your local Farmer’s Market. But, I’m not that good. I would have to visit at least three different stores on many occasions to get ALL the ingredients I need from local suppliers. Having the fixings for an entire meal delivered to my door was stinking awesome.
Why would you want ingredients delivered instead of a full meal? This was my first question when I was thinking about whether I would use this service. I mean, I grocery shop every week and purchase ingredients for meals that I cook. If I’m getting something delivered then I’m getting a full meal cooked and ready to go so that I can avoid the kitchen and the mess afterwards. However, after creating this meal, here are my thoughts on the subject: 1. It was a quick meal with all the ingredients and directions. I barely had to do any prep at all and I think I had a delicious, healthy, and local meal out on the table in 30 minutes flat (with photos). 2. It was a meal I had never prepared before! I hadn’t ever made a meal with Tahini sauce and would have had to go out and buy several sauces/spices in order to create this meal at home. I loved that I could try something new without purchasing a large container of sauce or a new spice that I didn’t know if I’d enjoy or ever use again. 3. Boy oh boy, was my husband impressed! I put out this beautiful meal that is nothing like I’d cooked before. It was a a fun surprise for sure. 4. As I said above, it was all local and I didn’t have to drive all over town to get the ingredients.
Would I pay their price? The prices of the meals at Local Plate varied from around $8.50/serving to $10. Often when I am cooking meals at home my ingredients cost around $5 or less/ serving. A restaurant would cost around $12+ per serving (but, someone else would do the cooking and cleaning.) This is a biggie for me and my family… we need affordable food and eat on a budget. It wouldn’t be a service I could do 5 days a week for sure. However, when I want to cook for a dinner party, try something new, or impress the hubby I will certainly be using this service. I calculated how much it would cost me to source all of the ingredients myself and it would have been much more than the $9/serving because I don’t own many of the spices and sauces I used for the dish.
How did it taste? AMAZING. No, seriously, I loved it. I ordered the Sesame Noodles, Oregon Albacore Tuna, and Simple Asparagus and was surprised at the full flavor from such a simple preparation. I am terrible at directions and ended up mixing the tuna into the noodle dish instead of serving it on the side. I’d highly recommend that because the Tahini sauce on the tuna was SO good. They list ALL of their recipes online as well!
How was the portion size? Perfect for our family. The asparagus was just enough for two servings for us veggie loving people. The noodles with arugula and tuna made enough for my husband, child, myself and for leftovers the next day.
When do they deliver? Local Plate provides local delivery free of charge on Mondays and Thursdays. You can also pick up your ingredients on those days if you’d prefer. The delivery comes in an insulated, reusable green bag with an ice pack (just in case you aren’t home). The idea is that you order food and love it so much that you order again, reusing the bags along the way.
How do I try it? Hop on over to the Local Plate website, choose the meal that you want to try, choose the number of servings needed, and follow the directions for purchase. It is SO simple. If you are trying Local Plate for the first time then get 10% off your purchase by using the following coupon code: AAJUL24.
Man, I don’t live in Portland, but that looks amazing! How can I try it? While I can’t get the food delivered to you outside of Portland, the Local Plate website does have all of their recipes listed. So, you can source some local ingredients through your Farmers’ Market or find some quality ingredients from your local grocery store and make them yourself! Seriously try the tuna dish… it is out of this world.
PS. Don’t forget to get your 10% off for your first try of Local Plate! Use the coupon code: AAJUL24
I was invited to attend and review the Field and Vine Events’ Dinners in the Field over this past weekend. I had an amazing time with my friend Bee from The Spicy Bee. We drove just outside the city to Woodburn, Oregon and Iverson’s Farm for our dinner. The views were pretty much epic. The day was beautiful. And, the food—delish!
The meal was served family style and we were all able to chat with the people around us. It was fun listening to the different stories, talking about the foods, and getting to know a little bit more about the other people attending the event. I’m a weirdo about parking, heat, and bathrooms at events… so, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the parking was just fine, they placed us under tents for dinner, and the restrooms (though porta potties) were clean and had running water/soap for hand washing. The service from the team of Field and Vine events was AWESOME. Everyone dressed in flannel shirts (perfect for a dinner in the middle of the field) and worked hard at making sure drinks were full and everyone had enough food. The chef even prepared items off menu for the vegetarians in the crowd.
The Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm (or Iverson’s Family Farm) was an amazing venue for the event. They have over 1600 acres with plants being planted and harvested throughout the year. I honestly couldn’t even keep up with everything they told us about the farm. I was so impressed. Some highlights— In the Spring there is a field of gorgeous tulips! Beautiful photos. In the Fall they have a corn maze and haunted corn maze. There is a little train for the kiddos that looks like a bunch of cows. So cute. I can’t wait to bring my kiddo this fall.
Overall, it was a lovely evening. I actually can’t wait to set up a date night to go later in the season.
Additional Dinners in the Field Events: Currently there are three more dinners scheduled: August 10 at AlexEli Vineyard & Winery, Molalla, September 14 at King’s Raven Winery, Oregon City, and September 22 at Morning Shade Farm, Canby. Additional Farm & Vineyard dinners are being added to the schedule as well, including: August 25 at Bekham Estate and September 7 at Apollini. To find out more or to find out how to purchase tickets visit the Field and Vine website and check out the “Farms & Winery Dinners” section. The events cost $75, but include a six-course family style meal, gratuity, and wine.
More about Chef Pascal: Pascal Chureau is the chef/owner of Field and Vine Events. He is also the owner/ chef at Allium in West Linn. Follow along with his twitter feed to see updates on all the fun dinners he has planned for the future!
Disclaimer: I was given free entry to this dinner. I was not asked for a post in exchange for my visit. All thoughts and opinions are my own. If I sound super excited it is because I am super excited… welcome to me.
Tonight I got to enjoy a fabulous night as a guest with Field and Vine events for dinner with my good friend Bee from The Spicy Bee. I’ll chat more about the event
tomorrow soon… But, I wanted to share a few snapshots of the fun. Poor Bee got in on a lot of photos because I was wielding the camera!
All photos are from my iPhone 4 other than one that is an iPhone 5.
West Elm invited me to check out their Paper Flowers workshop with Lia Griffith last week. I’ve been really impressed with the events at West Elm thus far and was excited to join in on another one. Even more excited because I had met Lia a few other times and really wanted to see how she did paper flowers.
I’ve made hundreds of paper flowers for different projects. But, I’ve never had a pattern and no two flowers ever looked alike. It was a lot of fun seeing the ways that Lia did her flowers and how she made them more accessible to everyone by creating printable patterns. Her website has a TON of paper flower tutorials with easy to follow images for each step—Check out one of her Paper Rose Tutorials. She also has printables available so you can print off and make flowers that look exactly like hers. She will be adding videos for the tutorials soon too!
My mother-in-law and my brother-in-law’s girlfriend went to the class with me to try their hands at making the flowers. All three of us came out with gorgeous looking flowers… and, I’m still in awe that you couldn’t tell the difference between our three roses in the end!
One of the big secrets to making beautiful paper flowers? Curl the paper with the back of your scissors! Similar to curling a bit of ribbon, put the back of your scissors against the paper with your thumb lightly pressing the paper to the scissors. Then, pull your scissors back quickly, pulling the paper down as well. Try not to rip the paper, but you can do this several times until your paper has curled a tad. (Hard to explain, easy to execute.)
About West Elm: If you haven’t heard of West Elm, then you are missing out. West Elm is a modern home decor store affiliated with Pottery Barn. The store does SO many awesome collaborations with artists across the world and different local vendors. I’m sort of in love with a ton of their furniture, everything from their new Market section (think old school general store), and many small home decor items. But, I also love that they have events like these that work hand in hand with local artists and bring something more to the community. I mean, West Elm sells paper flowers… they certainly didn’t have to host a class on how to make them. But, I liked that they thought it would be a fun idea to bring this skill to customers so that they could make their own flowers for their home and mix and match with the flowers in the store. Portland locals can check out the West Elm Portland Facebook Page for updates on future classes. This weekend West Elm is hosting “Get Creative with Color” a fun class on how to decorate with color.
About Lia Griffith: Lia is a DIYer that shares her projects on her blog, “Lia Griffith: Handcraft Your Life.” She does so much more than just paper flowers… though, her tutorials for those are pretty amazing. Lia got started in the paper craft world (the business side of it all) with her Papier Couture (wearable paper!) dresses. Seriously gorgeous work. Check it out and follow along. She posts party crafts as well as home crafts. Lia will be doing more of these fun classes in the Portland area, as well as possibly more in the PNW. So, keep updated with her blog for more information if this is something that interests you!
Disclaimer: I received free entry into the $10 Paper Flowers course. All opinions and thoughts are my own.
Disclaimer: I was invited to join one of the upcoming events as press , complimentary. No further compensation was made. The choice to post about the event was my own. All opinions are my own! Enjoy!
If you’ve followed my blog at all you might have noticed that I’m a big fan of wine, food, and Oregon. So, when Field and Vine Events contacted me about Dinners in the Field, I had to say YES immediately. And, I’m telling the absolute truth when I say… I can’t wait! I promise to share my experience after the event. But, I wanted to share a little about the Dinners in the Field events and the upcoming schedule so that you have the opportunity to sign up if you’re in the area and love food and wine as much as I do!
The Dinners in the Field events are a kick off to the new venture in catering & events by chef-owner Pascal Chureau of Allium Bistro in West Linn dubbed Field & Vine Events. Field & Vine has partnered with Oregon Farm Loop for the dinners. Each diner will have the opportunity to either arrive at the field on their own OR ride the vintage school bus to the vineyard. (I totally opted to ride the school bus!) As guests stroll through the vineyard with glasses of wine in hand they will arrive upon community tables filled with candles in the middle of the vineyard! Then they are served a 6-course dinner made from native ingredients of the Northwest, and as often as possible, sourced straight from the host farm or surrounding farms.
Are you as excited as I am!?
July 20, 2013 | 530p Iverson’s Farm ‘Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm,’ Woodburn
August 10, 2013 | 530p AlexEli Vineyard & Winery, Molalla
September 14, 2013 | 530p King’s Raven Winery, Oregon City
September 22, 2013 | 530p Morning Shade Farm, Canby
Cost: $75 per person, including six course, wine and gratuity (additional $5 for bus from Allium)
Advance Tickets Only by contacting Field & Vine Events: 971-258-8389 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Summer in the Pacific Northwest just isn’t the same as it is in other places that I’ve lived. It is chilly in the morning and evening. It gets HOT in the day time. We wear layers year round. We buy cardigans in Summer colors and hang them in our closets rather than storing them away with our winter wear.
So, when writing this post I was going to title it “Summer Toddler Style” until I realized that this would be WAY too much clothing for a lot of toddlers. I really was dressing my son for a Pacific Northwest Summer Toddler Style. (mouthful much?) So, if you are visiting the Pacific Northwest this Summer or live here year-round and need tips on dressing your toddler boy for the PNW Summer then this post will be for you.
I dress my son in a hat as much as possible during the Summer. Most of the year the sun is scarse out here in Portland. But, during the Summer it is shining bright. The sun protects his pale skin from burns (along with copious amounts of sunscreen) and keeps his eyes shielded some. I love the way this little blue sun hat makes his blue eyes shine. It is getting a tad small (bought it last year) which makes me sad. My baby isn’t a baby anymore.
I like jeans year round for this kid. He has plenty of shorts for when it is really, really hot. However, because we were heading down to the water where it is cooler, I dressed him in jeans and rolled them into a capri length. We paired the jeans with a grey and white striped v-neck (big so he has room to grow) and a pair of black sandals. Closed toe shoes are important for my little guy… he stumbles a lot still and the closed toe protects his feet better than opened toe sandals. The jeans are the complementary jeans from 7 for All Mankind that I talked about in my 7 More Days of Toddler Style.
His Outfit: (The following links only go to the store website from which I got the clothing items. Many are from different seasons and are no longer being sold. However, similar items can be found.) Shirt: Old Navy, Jeans (Complimentary): 7 For All Mankind, Sun Hat: Old Navy, & Sandals: Burlington Coat Factory
** This is not a sponsored post as I did not receive anything in exchange for this post. However, I did receive the jeans my son is wearing in the photos above complimentary for a different series I wrote this year. All opinions are my own.**
I’ve been going back and forth about whether I was going to post about my health and fitness journey on the blog. It is such a personal and, often, frustrating part of my life. But, I figured that posting about my journey may do one or all of three things:
This series will cover my image issues and fitness journey. I am beginning in my childhood and teen years and traveling up to adulthood. I feel that many of my food issues and my self-image realities stems directly from my childhood and teen self-image and food relationships. I will still be posting recipes as per usual… I’ll just start including some of my healthier meals in addition to my butter and pie loving posts. I’ve had weight and body issues my entire life, so I am pretty much aware of what I am doing right and wrong and when I am doing it. I am a strong believer in EVERYTHING in moderation. This view is not shared by everyone, but it is what I’ve found works for me (when I stick with it!).
In addition to writing about my journey of a healthy self-image and life I am writing a 6-week fitness series. I’d love for you to visit and read about my fitness journey. I received membership to East Side Athletic Club in exchange for work I’m doing on their website and am telling my fitness story on their blog. I’d love to hear what you think of it!
I was a tall, lanky adolescent. Mainly I was ALL limbs. I played softball (though, I hated running) and enjoyed chasing after all the boys on the playground when I was in elementary school.
However, after elementary school I stopped playing sports and started becoming more and more studious. I was often found with a book in my hands or in front of a computer chatting with friends or creating HTML websites. You might have called me a nerd. (Some still do!)
The lack of activity in addition to puberty made me gain weight. I was taller than a lot of the girls. My feet were larger. I felt awkward all the time. And, while, looking back, I was thin and still quite lanky— I felt FAT. Though I had a flat belly and long limbs… I wore shorts and baggy t-shirts over my bathing suit. I slouched when I walked. I covered my waist with my arms when I sat. The me I saw in the mirror made me sad.
One story that often comes to mind from this time in my life was, of course, one where I was trying to impress a guy. I was at a summer camp leaving the cafeteria with friends. I had a donut and a cup of yogurt in my hands. The guy I had eyes for was walking towards me and my group of friends. In a flash I threw the donut into a bush and sucked in my (non-existent) belly.
I look back now and wish I had appreciated my body more. I was thin! I was agile! I was YOUNG!
My food issues stemmed from a lot of different places. First, my grandmother was very overweight and suffered from diabetes. I had to learn how to give her injections just in case her blood sugar levels dropped. I feared that future more than anything. Second, we were very poor. We were the kids that had free school breakfasts and lunches due to income…. and, we wanted to go to school because we knew we would get two full meals in the day. Sometimes our pantries only held white bread and peanut butter.
So, while I feared getting fat… I also ached for food. This often led to overeating when food was plentiful and letting myself go hungry when food was scarse. I often would get stomach issues and cramps that sent me to the restroom for long periods of time daily. I began to love the taste of PeptoBismol. Food was my savior and enemy over and over again.
I had wonderful, loving role models. They never called me fat or belittled me. They tried getting me access to healthy and plentiful food. They did their best But, they were not the best role models for what to eat or how to take care of the body. The adults in my life at the time didn’t know the best ways to approach food and body issues.
I don’t want my son to have the relationship with food that I had. I want him to get to enjoy his food and see how it can nourish the body. I want him to be able to enjoy the way rich, wonderfully prepared food can taste. But, I also want him to learn that those items are not for the everyday.
I know that my example is going to be the most distinct way that he will learn about food. I hope to provide a good example so that his childhood and teen years don’t resemble my own. I also plan on actually talking about food and nutrition as he grows older.
Thank you for reading about my health & fitness journey. To read about my current fitness goals please check out my post over on East Side Athletic Club’s brand new blog. I’d love your support as I work on getting healthier!
** I received membership in exchange for my work with East Side Athletic Club. I did not receive further compensation. All thoughts and opinions are my own. **
Through a series of tweets I discovered an open invitation through Snooth.com for a Kettle Brand Chips and Snooth Cook-Off. A bunch of us got together and RSVP’d excited to see what the heck that they could do to combine chips and wine. Chips and beer— that I do all the time. But, I really have never sat down with some chips and wine…much less used it as a refined appetizer at a party. Boy howdy did I learn a thing or two.
Summer is one of my favorite times for impromptu dinner parties and laid back entertaining. The sun stays out late. There is little fear of rain. And, there are a whole host of ice cold beverages that are delicious and can help beat the heat. The summer is just coming to Portland and I am already booking an event packed season.