Saturday, August 18, 2012

Some things

I can't believe we are leaving for Europe so soon!  The older I get the more of a homebody I become & the idea of leaving for almost 1 month makes me nervous.  I wonder if I will get homesick & wish we had planned a shorter trip? At the same time,   I are plan on making some big changes in my life in the next year & it may be a while before we can take such a long & care free trip.  I should probably suck up any homesickness & instead enjoy my freedom!

We are going to several countries which will keep it interesting, but I am glad for the week we rented an apartment in Italy which will allow us time to relax, read books & take lazy walks & boat rides.  Also, I'm thinking of taking a cooking class when we are in Cinque Terre. I wish I could travel all around France, Italy & Spain & take cooking classes in all the different regions, but that's a trip for later.

In preparation for our week of hiking the Alps I've been running up hills & speed hiking to whip my butt into shape as best as I can.  Unfortunately, I've begun to feel the return of my plantar fasciitis which made my life miserable all through last year (and some of the year before!  Yikes!).  I've had to take a break from running & I am returning to physical therapy next week.  It's such a bummer to have my body fail me over & over when all I want is to be healthy! 

Sometimes I wonder if the problems I have had with my feet in the last 2 years are manifestations of my need to move on from my job.  I have been in the service industry my whole working life which I realize is pretty common for us folks in the art world. 

There are many good aspects to it. 
For example, being able to take off to Europe for almost a whole month!
Also, I do love that when I leave work, my work stays at work.  I know a lot of people who have to bring home work to finish during the evenings & weekends.  That doesn't happen as a bartender or waitress. 

But then the big downfall for me is that I am not using my creativity.  Really, I am not being mentally challenged in any way.  Pouring beers really is quite boring work & there is no room to grow. 
The job doesn't evolve. 
That was fine when I started this job 7+ years ago, but in that time I have evolved.  I've traveled, graduated from college & bought a house.  I want more than to make art as a hobby.  I want to be challenged artistically by my job & be surrounded by other creative people.  I want my job to demand that I improve & grow as an artist.  But where to go when all I know is the service industry? 
And honestly, it is hard to make a change when I am so comfortable.  And the great big world seems scary with new bosses & coworkers... Yikes!

So, maybe I have begun to have foot problems because it is symbolic for my need to depart from this line of work?  Maybe my body is stepping in to force me to make a change that I have been afraid to make? 

Or maybe I am just having foot problems.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Paris Syndrome

I was listening to NPR the other day & heard the strangest thing.
It's called Paris Syndrome & it is an actual medical condition.

Apparently, when tourists visit Paris & are greeted with the gritty realization that Paris does not live up to their romantic expectations, people literally have a breakdown.  They can suddenly experience hallucinations, delusions & psychosomatic manifestations triggered by something as simple as a rude waiter or bus driver!   Often they must be immediately escorted home by medical staff.  In some cases they have to go through months to years of therapy to prepare themselves to be able to travel again.   Sound strange?

It gets weirder...  oddly, it effects mostly Japanese tourists & since it is such a common occurrence the Japanese Embassy even has a 24 hour hotline to help these folks who are having a mental breakdown.  At least 20 people in the summer of 2011 experienced it!


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Eat your beets! (in a delicous salad!)

When I was in Montana I spent time with a friend whose passionate talk of cooking  inspired me to branch out in my own cooking.  Honestly I always want to branch out, yet I find myself using the same seasonings & flavor combinations.
It pretty much boils down to intimidation.  I've had some big failures, like the time Sara & I spent hours making sweet potato gnocchi in a Gorgonzola sauce & it came out awful.  Soooooo terrible.

So, one thing I have been intimidated by is a Balsamic Reduction.  It's this thing that chefs insert into a menu flippantly, as if it is as easy as boiling water- but I had always been afraid to make it.  I wasn't  even really sure what it is exactly.
Turns out, yes it is almost as easy as boiling water because as the name suggests it is simply balsamic that is gently simmered down into a thick & oh my so very delicious syrup.
In fact, I may have to go buy some strawberry or vanilla ice cream to  drizzle the rest of my balsamic on.

Essentially, this salad was created from the desire to eat some beets that were in my fridge & make a balsamic reduction.  It has now gone to the top of my list of favorite salads.  Okay, I don't really have a favorite salad list, but I probably should because I can be really passionate about a good salad.  Aren't I cool?


To make this salad you need:
Balsamic vinegar reduction (make this first or even days ahead- recipe below*)
Butter Lettuce (or whatever kind you want)
a high heat oil- I used safflower
salt & pepper

Balsamic Vinegar Reduction:
This changes your average balsamic vinegar into a rich & complex sweet & tangy syrup.
Pour at least a cup of balsamic vinegar in a sauce pan & set on high heat (the larger the pan the quicker you can make it)  As soon as the bubbles start, but before boiling, turn it down to a low simmer.  Stir it often & as it begins to thicken up you will want to stir it even more often.  Also, you may want to turn it down to the lowest of the lows as far as heat goes so that you don't burn the balsamic.  It should take about 10-15 minutes until you get a very molasses like consistency which is perfect.  Store at room temperature.

Here's a photo starring the finished reduction & chévre.  See how thick it is? 

Next, peel & thickly slice your beets (at least half an inch). Oil both sides & sprinkle with salt & pepper.  Grill on a low heat flipping once halfway through.  I think mine took about 15 minutes total.  You can also cut them up & sauté them or bake them in the oven.  I tend to like to grill everything in the summer so... yeah.  You can do this ahead as well but, I do think that the warm beats that slightly melt the Chévre really add to the deliciousness factor.

While those are cooking, hand chop your garlic into bits.  Sprinkle with salt & sauté over medium heat in oil until they are golden brown but not at all burnt.  Remove them from the pan & put them on a paper towel to absorb the excess oil.

Now you have all your components.  Assemble your salad by cutting up the beets into bite sized pieces & layering on a bed of lettuce.  Sprinkle with as much chévre as your heart desires, top with crunchy garlic bits & drizzle with balsamic reduction.  Salt & pepper if you like.

P.S.  If pears were in season those would have gone perfectly with the salad so you might want to try that too.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I still exist!

Maybe I should have checked in to tell everyone why I would be away for so long.  But, sometimes life happens & the internet takes the back seat.  I actually love it when my life gets too busy to blog for a bit!
Anyway, reasons for my absence...

Some of my family came to visit me a few weeks ago.  It was fun to show them around my city, take them hiking, hang out at my house (they had never seen it!) & introduce them to Scott. 

They stayed at The Kennedy School which is literally an old school converted into a hotel.  It has a theater, restaurants, soaking pool & bar.  And, there are also chalkboards in the hotel rooms!  By the end of their stay everyone had been unable to refrain from writing the alphabet. 

Also, we had ice cream from Salt & Straw almost every night.  They are known for having wacky flavors with maximum deliciousness.  Turns out my new favorite ice cream flavor is Strawberry, Balsamic, Honey & Black Pepper.  Yeah, that exists.  Yeah, it's amazing.

After my fam left Scott & I headed to Montana for a visit with my dad, a wedding & a backpacking trip up to a mountain lake with a few friends. 

I can't believe I was deep in the wilderness only 2 days ago!

So, that's where I have been.  But, I am back now & plan on posting more often once again.  And, I am curious about all my friends... what have you been up to so far this summer?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Make sure

Upon cleaning out & organizing a desk in my guest room I came across two of my old to do lists.  Let's make fun of these, shall we?

On the top list my number 1 thing to do is to "make sure".  What?  Hahaha!
On the second list I am supposed to "get $".  If only it was that simple!  Notice, it was never crossed off... how sad.   
On another note, my family is coming for a visit tomorrow & I am so excited!  This is the first time they have met Scott & seen our house.  I am looking forward to a little time off work that involves staying in Portland & spending time with my family... Hooray!!

Friday, July 6, 2012

My birthday & exciting news!

My birthday is July 3rd so every year it feels kind of like a little holiday (to me) since lots of people have the 4th off.  This year was perfect.  I usually do something big like rafting, but this year I wanted something super low key.  All I really wanted to do was walk around NW Portland taking pictures & to eat at my favorite Italian Restaurant
They have the best rigatoni I have ever had.  The. Best
I never go there because it's quite expensive but I just found out they have a happy hour & my old pal rigatoni is on it!  Yay!
So that is what I did.

We also got scolded at this store for doing a little photo session with all the hats they had.  Apparently there was a big obvious sign that said "no pictures" that we didn't see.... ha ha, isn't it awesome to get in trouble like that at age 31?

Then we went to an early showing of Wes Anderson's newest picture show,  Moonrise Kingdom
Has anyone seen it? 
It's good.  Real good.

But my biggest news is...

... we finally bought the tickets for a trip we have been saving up for, for almost 2 years!! 
Come September we will be flying into Amsterdam where we will stay a few days, then to Geneva where we will take a train to a teensy town & begin a 7 day hike through The Alps.  After that we will be going to the Cinque Terre to relax on the beach for a bit before we head to Paris to sit in the lap of luxury.  Just kidding, we'll be in the cheapest (yet cleanest) hostel we can find. 
I am so excited for this trip... I can't believe it is really happening after all the talk & daydreaming!! 

Also, thank you to everyone who sent me happy birthday wishes...  it made me feel happy & loved!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A new camera means...

 it takes me an hour to walk 10 blocks.

Going from a simple point & shoot with limited capabilities to a DSLR has been an exciting challenge!  I studied photography starting with a borrowed 35 millimeter about 15 years ago when a friend & I convinced the principal of our high school to let us open up the old dusty photo lab, find a teacher & start a photo club. I went on to college as a photography major but moved on to other things, leaving photography behind.

I feel like I've come full circle.  After all these years, to photographically apply all the design skills I have learned as an artist is gratifying.   I have tons to learn & lots to improve so I have come up with some photo challenge assignments for myself that I am going to be working on continually & I will definitely share here. 
Also, I would love for any of my dear readers to share tips or photo challenges that you have used to cultivate your artistic talents! 

I know they say things can't make you happy, but, damn, this camera has awakened artistic inspiration & motivation- which is pretty much the happiest place I can be.

Thank you Scotty for the raddest birthday present ever!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Ryan Baby Goose

I just thought I would point out that since "gosling" means baby goose, Ryan Gosling's name is also Ryan Baby Goose.
What is up with that guy? ... why is everything about that dude so attractive?
I mean, look at his dog!
Just look at it!
What kind of cute muppet puppet dog is that anyway?

Also, when I googled Ryan Gosling for images this photo was amongst them....

probably because of that flippin' cute panda.

Well, that's all...

*I just found this website where this funny guy compiled every photo of Ryan Baby Goose & his dog he could find on the internet!  That's right!  Check it here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Self Esteem


This video gives me the heebie-jeebies.  

The Dove Self Esteem Fund wants to free women & girls from the unreachable beauty standards the beauty & fashion industry has set. 
This video is a great reminder of all the work that goes into making those perfect & beautiful women who grace billboards & magazines.  Did you notice when they elongated her neck & enlarged her eyes? 
This normal looking girl has been made up & PhotoShopped so that even her bone structure is altered to become the beauty standard we compare ourselves to.  No wonder women feel like they will never be pretty enough.  I wonder how that girl feels? 

I read a very intriguing book about beauty & advertising years ago.  I personally think every female should read it & the younger the better. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Not really important thoughts on my mind...

-I ate too much licorice & now I feel a little sick.  Why do I always do that?
-I'm finding it awkward that my new found favorite make up pieces are so naughtily named.  Blush & lipstain.
-Made a big batch of 4B's tomato soup... still the best tomato soup in the world.  That's a fact, not an opinion.  Wondering if the whole grain Saltines I bought to go with the soup are really that much better for me?
-Got prescribed antibiotics for a tick bite right after I made my tomato soup.  Turns out I can't eat dairy while on them.  Do cream soups freeze well?
-Painted my french doors & front door black & trying to figure out if it makes my living room look too dark & small.
-Just noticed my strawberries are finally ripe!
-Excited that my feet are healed & I've been running again.
-Very much wanting to go on a for fun bike ride.  Not a commuting to work bike ride.
-Really excited about getting to know my early birthday present from Scott.
-Dreaming about a trip to Paris, hiking The Alps & the Cinque Terre.
-For now, a weekend trip to Bend will have to do.
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