Sunday, June 29, 2008

City of Roses

*Sorry for the upcoming spelling errors! Blogger's spell check isn't working right now and I am too lazy to edit!*
What a crazy week! By last friday, my brain felt hard-boiled! It was good and I have gone through a lot of learning experiences this week, but boy was I glad when friday came and our weekend was in effect. Casey got his early birthday present (it is next Saturday) on friday, a new Bike! We finally sold our broke down van and so it justified him having this Swobo Dixon bicycle! I am excited for him because I catch him just gazing at it lovingly!
Saturday the weather was 100 degrees. We did as much housework and gardening our bodies could stand before collapsing outside in a daze. That night we had Yakisoba, served cold. The cold noodles and chicken were so refreshing to our depleted bodies. I used Annie's shitake seasame dressing, green onions, and basil from our garden for the sauce. Basil is kind of odd to put in the mix, but it added a nice kick to the flavor. Here is a photo of the leftovers the next day in the park. Today the weather cooled down some, but it was very muggy. We rode our bikes and it was nice to have the breeze flow through our hair. I swear, I could take a shower every hour and still feel grimy due to the humidity! But it was a gorgeous day! We rode to The Little Red Bike Cafe, a new "Bike-Thru" cafe in our nighborhood that a co-worker of Casey's just recently opened. It is so freakin cute! Click on the link to read their blog on starting up the cafe, it is quite interesting, and I also love the charm the place has. Casey's friend, Deacon was working there today, and I got to try some of his famous donutholes I have heard about since last winter from my husband. Wow, they were amazing! Really, I have never had any that have compared to this before! We rode our bikes back to Columbia Park to enjoy our treats
Then we decided to head over to Peninsula Park to see it's famous Test Rose Garden. The rose garden is so breathtaking and magical!

I like it far better than the Washington Park Rose Gardens (which is a beautiful, you could say "royal" park) because Peninsula park showcases the beautiful roses that so many genius gardeners have labored over in such a personal way. The other rose garden is more famous and big, and is always loaded with tour buses. I laid on a park bench in the shade and just gazed at all of the beauty.Portland is called "The city of Roses" so I feel that when the roses are in bloom here, it is part of our culture to admire them, like Japan does with Sakura Blossoms.
And then we headed back to Columbia Park, where we had a picnic and I napped in the grass for a marvelously long time.
When we headed home, a huge thunderstorm started. What a way to end the weekend!
Also, a few things from last week, we got Wiifit for our Nintendo! We got it on Craigslist, an it is awesome! I use it everyday, at least for yoga on busy days. I like it because I feel like I get a good satisfying workout without with the instuction I need. I cannot tell you how ridiculously excited I am about this game! So cool!
And all week I was sososososoo tired, and ate cereal for dinner almost every night, but one night I managed to make this Thai soup called Tom Yum Goong soup with shrimp over steamed rice. It is a very citrusy, spicy soup. It is actually pretty easy and very yummy.
Here are some flowers that are currently blooming in our yard, some vibrant Fuschia, and some Trumpet Lilies
Well, that was my week. Hope everyone out there had a great week, too and has a great week ahead! I can't wait for the next 4 days to move along, we are going camping for Casey's birthday, it is also the date I met him on!

Monday, June 23, 2008

everybody's workin for the weekend!

"Promotional" Mini Roses given to me from Casey, for my promotion at work!

Happy weekend days! Not that daily life is bad, but I daydream of the weekend, and this one did not dissapoint! I blew off a ton of chores and spent time doing what we wanted to do! That was good, but this week I feel a little swamped, but whatever!

I did no shopping, no baking (minus flatbread), nothing.

What we did do what spend a ton of time riding bikes! We rode well over 24 miles this weekend.
We participated in this event,
where a 6 mile loop through North portland got shut off to cars and was open to cyclists, walkers, runners, skaters, etc. The surrounding parks on the loop had live music, food, and yoga workshops. Casey and I enjoyed crepes at one stop. It was so much fun we rode the six miles twice! I found out something, that I am a bit of an agressive bike rider! Good thing I don't drive! I have insane urges to cut people off, and I want to talk smack to people who ride too slow. I am able to control this mostly out of safety, but it shocked me, I never knew that was in me, in fact I have always hated people like that! So everyday we got home after riding we would eat in a daze and chill out listening to music. Casey has discovered this beautiful jazz and electro-jazz albums that just blow my mind! They are super mellow, perfect for summer days.A lot of my favorites from the compilations are from Brazil.

This donburi dish I made last night from my Quick and Easy cookbook series. It is paper thin pork loin (I am not that good with a knife, so I bought it pre-sliced, from Hiroshi's Anzen, the cutest little Japanese grocery in Portland, it has been around since the 20's) The pork is marinated in soy and mirin, then sauted in miso, sugar, onion, sake, and a little garlic oil. Melt in your mouth meat! Donburi means a meal served in a bowl over rice, so that is how this was served

And that was that! Now, back to the grindstone (kidding, work is great, just hard to want to leave the sun!) until friday evening! We have a lot of fun things planned for our weekends this summer, we joined zipcar, so soon we will be camping and leaving town a lot!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Tour de North Portland

This has been one of the best weekends EVER! I always have great ones with Casey, each one always seems to to top the one before. It started off Friday afternoon, when I found out I was getting promoted at work! Totally unexpected, and I am still in shock. I really have begun to fall in love with where I work and feel really lucky to have gotten such a blessing. I am getting a rountine of daily life going well, something I have always had a hard time with before with work. I know things will change in the fall when I resume school, but right now I feel really content and motivated. That day, my wonderful mother in law Betty, and my lovely grandmother in law, Marie were in town for a whirlwind day with Casey, I met up with them and his stepfather at a local brewery and felt really excited because of my promotion. It was so good to see them, and I wish I could have spent more time.

Then on Saturday Casey had to work, so I went thrift store shopping and Goodwill (which is owned by Target) was selling brand new Target items for VERY cheap, mostly everything was 99cents, and had the original tags and everything. I got these curtains, and this is what I did with them in our bedroom.
And since I feel pretty blingin' with my new promotion and all, I treated myself to these gaudy flip flops, which I probably would never buy for full price, but hey, I actually really like them!
I bought so much more, which will be uploaded on to my flickr page, it is a little thing I like to do, upload all my thrift store scores, I have a special folder for them.
These are some Hydrangeas in our front yard about to bloom!Then came today....we woke up and had a yummy breakfast, I packed a picnic and we rode to Forest Park, locked up our bikes and then hiked for a few miles. Here is a little community garden overlooking the Willamette River that we stopped at. There were butterflies everywhere, it was just perfect.
Once we got back in to St. Johns, we rode around for a bit, stopping at antique shops and getting macaroons and espresso at Ladybug Coffee, my favorite coffee shop in St. Johns.
It was such a sweet little date. I love Casey! I thank the stars each day for having such a wonderful husband.
After a little relaxing, we rode a bike trail called Peninsula Crossing for a few miles, then rode home, boy was I tired when I got back! We took a nap in the hammock and then I made these Lemon Bars that I got from Alpine Berry, a food blog. Mine are more cookie like, than hers, but remember I bake out of a toaster oven, so things have to be small and I can never trust the oven gauge.

My tummy hurts a little bit because while I was taking pics, I ended up eating like 4 (maybe 5!) of them. So good and summery.
Portland summers remind you the reason why you stay here through cold, wet, and dreary (although I don't mind) winters. The airs smells like blackberries, and everything is just glowing!
Things are really good for me right now, I keep thinking that I am going to wake up and it will all be gone. I hope everyone out there is just as happy!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

M.kate's Surprise and a great weekend

I have a wonderful blogging friend from Malaysia, her name is M.Kate, and I love to read her blog. It teaches me so much about different parts of the world, and she has a magnificent perspective on everything she discusses. She always sends me postcards from her travels, and they always make my day when they arrive in my mailbox. She had told me she was going to send me a package in the mail recently, but I had no idea that it was going to be on this level. When the package arrived, I was at work, so it had to be picked up at the post office, and I had to wait two days! Finally, Casey picked up the parcel on his way to work, and I had to wait until after 10 pm to get it.
I waited patiently at home, and when he came home I practically ripped his backpack off of him! She wrapped it in the most beautiful wrapping paper I had ever seen before! There is so much going on on the paper it was hard to capture: Ninjas, Sakura blossoms, Festivals, Rainbows, Oh my goodness!
Then when I opened up the package it was wrapped again, and more Japanese elegant wrapping! The package contained a beautiful handmade card, a mystic knot, Cambodian Pashmina, Malaysian Sarong fabric, kawaii cell phone bling, scrapbooking paper, and a wonderful Japanese cookbook, written by Keiko Ishida. I was floored! I loved everything, it meant so very much to me.
UPDATE: I am sorry this photo collage got deleted somehow, to see the whole parcel from M.Kate, please go to my FLickr Page in the gifts from friends folder
So I set out to try a recipe from the cookbook, and I choose Rice Ball Skewers. I love to buy these from Japanese Groceries, they are both sweet and salty, due to the sweet rice flour and the Mitarashi Ann sauce (a thick sweet soy sauce homemade w/ potato starch, soy sauce, sugar, and mirin)
The process starts with making the dough into balls, then flattening them out, then steaming them in a bamboo steamer, then grinding the dough in a mortar and pestle (I dont have one, so I used a ice cream scoop handle and a heavy duty pyrex bowl!)
Rolling the dough into balls (this was the hard part for me, the dough has a life of it's own, I thought sometimes it was going to just roll itself into a live alien, if you can understand that- it seemed to be alive!) and then skewering the balls onto soaked bamboo skewers. Then on a gas grill, you grill the rice balls for about 3 seconds, each side. Then you prepare the mitarashi ann sauce.
Here are some photos of the whole process, and the end result. What a treat! They taste similar to mochi cakes. I have never made anything like this before, and I thank M.kate for helping me accomplish this! We had them with beer and it was a lot of fun.

This weekend was a blast, and the best part was that we never left the neighborhood! I spent a lot of time cooking, and Casey worked on our bicycles, tuning them up.

I have never been much of a bike rider, I got into an accident when I was younger, and lets just say I couldn't pee for over a week! (well, I did, but my mom had to beg me to!) And so, I have always been hesitant to get on a bike because I am clumsy and I don't trust myself. Casey rides his bike to work everyday and he always wants me to go riding with him. After all that hard work on our bikes, I couldn't really make another excuse not to go! So we did, and I had the best time, and I feel so good when I am riding! I cannot believe how free I feel when we are out riding! So I look forward to a summer of riding together, today we went on a ride and stopped and had a picnic along the way. I havent uploaded those photos yet, but I will update them tomorrow.
And lastly, we got our first Sakura Tree! It is a dwarf "Stella" and will stay on our front patio. I am so excited for it to maybe bear fruit soon! I read up on the variety, and it doesn't need pollination. I can't wait to have my very own Sakura blossoms next year!
I also got some yellow begonias as well.

Here is my Malaysian Sarong Fabric in use, I have to learn how to wrap it better before I wear it, but when I do I will take pics!