Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Do You Have a Favorite Room?

What makes a room, your favorite room? The other day I was sitting in my livingroom and thinking how calm I always feel when I'm there. To me, being surrounded by my family photos and books make it a place I want to come to and sip a hot cup of tea. Part of the appeal, I must admit, is that the window opens up to a beautiful greenspace. No matter what time of year, we are surrounded by Nature's beauty. Perhaps, there's no more beautiful time than fall, than when the trees turn and I look out onto a wall of yellow leaves.

What else makes this room so special? For me it's twinkle lights on the wire sculpture that I have in the corner. And, always lots of candles! When the days get shorter, I want to keep the lights on as long as possible. There's year-round twinkle lights here. I figure they last 4 months at a time, so I stock up at Christmas. They're low voltage and don't use a lot of energy, so I don't feel too badly running then 24-7. If I find out otherwise, I'll have to find some other way to let the light in.

Stop by, the tea is on and maybe I'll even locate that box of Lemon Biscotti.  There's a chair waiting for you!

What is your favorite room?  Why?  Please comment!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cheap Dates in Portland

One of the great things about living in Portland, OR. is that there's lots of things to do on the cheap! College students, empty nesters, young married's- everyone is looking for a bargain these days. We've read a lot about the Esplenade along the Willamette River, so we figured it was high time to check it out! Our dogs, Lulu and Molly are always game for an adventure so off we went.

Other than the fact that Molly has a bad habit of jumping out at people who are jogging, on bicycles, or any hapless dog crossing her path, they're pretty good dogs. We started at the end of the Hawthorne Bridge, crossed the Steel Bridge, and then ended up back on the Hawthorne. Rick was sure that we had logged six miles, but it's actually only a 2.7 mile walk round trip.

Along the way, there were some great bridge views, shapes and textures

Some great views of the city


Interesting Art

And plenty of history

The 'girls' were in serious need of some water, so we headed over to the Lucky Lab Brewery on Hawthorne, one of the many dog-friendly eating places in the city.

Some more scenes from Lucky Lab, with sweet Molly and Lulu

And a cute visitor

By the way, I sure wish The New York Times would quit their fascination with all things great in Portland- how dog friendly we are, what great bike trails we have, and what great food carts they found all over the city! I liked it better when we were an undiscovered gem!

Finally, did you know that Portland has the smallest park in the WORLD? Check it out on Naito Parkway a.k.a. Front Street. It was dedicated on St. Patrick's Day 1948, as the only colony for leprechauns. How cool is that?

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Jazz in the Garden Dinner Party

Last month, Rick and I and seven other friends from our St. Michael's and All Angels Church community held a Gala Dinner to help raise funds for our Rector Search.  It was lots of fun to plan, and were were grateful for the mild weather and everyone's collaboration on menu and decor.  The day of the party, there was a flury of activity...ingredients, matching french tablecloths, silver sets, and musicians appeared as if by magic!  It was pretty amazing to see it all come together.  I brought out the pink flamingos from the basement, since you can't have a party without the aviarian flock. Unfortunately, I discovered that three of my birds had met with 'foul' play and were missing.  Upon reflection, I remembered a certain college aged son talking about how great my missing trio had looked, lit up with twinkle lights on the slopes of Anothony Lakes.
The Menu

Classic Northwest Cuisine
First Course: Bruchetta with Heirloom Tomatoes, olive oil, fresh chopped garlic and basil
Second Course: Fresh Gazpacho with avacado, Cuumber and shrimp
Third Course: Argula and Romaine Salad with Oregonola Cheese and Blackberries, Walnut-Citress Dressing 
Fourth Course: Grilled Wild Salmon with Nutted Wild Rice, almonds, and golden raisins, plus fresh Green Beans
Fifth Course: Vermont Ploughgate Creamery "Hartwell" Cow's Milk Brie, Denmark Danish Blue an French Goat Cheese Bourcheron, with fresh sliced apples
Sixth Course: Gingered Peach Shortcake with Blackberries and Vanilla Ice Cream

Chris graciously took over the rice preparation, which ended up being a modified version of a Silver Palate favorite. 
Pete was Grillmaster extraodinare mixing a wild array of sauces for the grilled salmon
Before dinner, guests mingled while Saxophonist Patrick Sargent, and his talented friends, Grant, on Keyboard, and Charlie on guitar, played classic jazz.  Patrick, by the way, played at the Monterey Jazz Festival this month, on his way to NYU, definitely a young man to watch!
What a great community to be a part of.
Chris hard at work plating the salad course 
Barb, Jim, and Rick, hustle to get food out while it's hot.  The covered pool table really came in handy!
Steve the 'Big Cheese'....
and his lovely wife, Trudy.
Barb was horrified when Rick wanted to use a mere airpot to serve coffee and tea!  Who could blame her, when she had these lovely heirlooms to share.
Jim always comes through with the most fabulous desserts.  Tonight was no exception, with this lovely fresh Ginger Peach and Berry Shortcake.  All in all, it was a memorable night for a worthy cause.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Jade Teahouse & Patisserie

I didn't really intend for this Blog to have so many restaurant reviews, but I have to share my favorite places! Especially in this economy, when you might not be going out to eat as often as you'd like and you want to have a pleasant experience and great food. Barb is always the 'go-to' person for great restaurants and things to do in Portland, so she has all her friends going to Jade. Since discovering Jade Teahouse last fall, I've been back many times and the food is always fresh and wonderful.

It doesn't hurt either, that the restaurant is very light and beautifully designed and owner April Cuong, is very personable and welcoming. It's one of my destinations when I need to escape the gray Oregon days.
Yesterday Barb and I, had a lunch date with our youngest who are the same age, and heading back to college. Tanner and Katie are more like cousins, having grown up together. It was fun to catch up on the summer's events as they head off to school. It's always so hard to get everyone together with summer activities and work schedules, but it was fun to enjoy a lingering lunch, and share some stories and laughs.

There were so many good choices on the menu, that it was hard to choose, but in the end, Katie and Tanner ordered the Coconut Rice Noodle Soup, which was full of shredded chicken and shrimp

I usually order chicken with vegetables, but....

couldn't resist trying the Stir fried Chicken and Mango dish...yummy!

And Barb ordered this yummy salad with peanut sauce on the side...
Jade is basically a Tea House with great food...the teas are amazing. My favorite is ginger peach- great hot or cold, but there's a wall of teas to choose from.

Of course, you'll have to end you meal with a bite of something sweet. Try splitting a Smore's Cookie, or a piece of their signature Vietnamese Wedding cake. All of their treats are made fresh daily by Eklund Cuong, who owns the restaurant with her daughter April.

Here's to Katie and Tanner (pictured with Barb), who are off to start their sophomore year adventures...