Monday, March 31, 2014

Food Passport: Lardo

One of the locations on my Portland Food Passport is Lardo.... and yes, Lardo is what you think it is...PIG!


Okay technically Lardo is "a type of salume made by curing strips of fatback with rosemary and other herbs and spices."

Lardo is also a sandwich shop here in Portland which of course serves many drool-causing pork sandwiches. It's been written up as one of the best sandwich places in Portland - as well as I've known a few folks who have gone who spoke highly of it.

We went as a staff last month (belated birthday luncheon) and I'm so glad I did. I can't wait to go back and try other items on the menu. The birthday person always gets to pick and I picked Pig!



I did have to look at the menu to make sure it would work for us all. We have two folks who are GF (but not only does Lardo have a few yummy looking salads but they also can turn most sandwiches into a salad) and we also have a vegetarian (but she ate the chickpea patty sandwich and said it was amazing!) So really they have something for everyone.


ME? I ordered the Korean Pork Shoulder with kimchi on a chibatta roll and an order of the Dirty Fries.... Read: Fries with fried peppers and pork scraps!


The sandwich was much larger than I expected. I ended up only eating 1/2 of the sandwich and took the other half home. Same with the fries - huge order! as you can see in the picture. I shared with it a colleague and still had some to bring home!

I can't wait to go back!


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Celebrating Spring

In Portland it rains most of the year...not a heavy down pour, mostly a sprinkle or mist (more or less). Still it can get depressing once spring comes around and winter cabin-fever has set in. So the first sunny days (even if they are only in the high 60s) are cherished by everyone.

Portlanders come out of their caverns and point their faces to the sun (I call it doing the lizard). We throw on sandals and shorts, head to the park or falls to play in the sun. Last weekend we headed to the Chinese Gardens in downtown.

We strolled the walkways, sat under pagodas, ate in the tea house, and simply enjoyed the nirvana atmosphere. So beautiful:







I love going all times of year - there is always something blooming or deep evergreen. And this time we took my Aunt J for her first time. We all had a lovely afternoon and I can't wait for the sun to come back (yes, it's once again over cast) so we can head to the zoo, the Rose Garden, the Japanese Garden and Multnomah Falls.

Friday, March 28, 2014

2014 In Like a Lion

Is anyone else having just a ROUGH 2014 so far?! Because I know that I am and those around me.

2013 ended pretty rough - divorces, break ups, deaths, etc. So we hoped for a new year and new beginnings.

January 2014 wasn't much better though....so fingers crossed that the Chinese New Year would be the new beginning we looked for.

But it seems this year and the wooden horse truly was full of surprises but not necessarily those of joy and happiness we had hoped.

Yes. There have been some happy things - trips, births, closing doors that needed to be closed.

But still! So far 2014 has come in like a lion and I can only hope the rest of the year eases up a little.

Sheesh.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Recipe: Lemon Oregano Chicken

Ingredients:

1 Tablespoon grated or thinly sliced lemon zest
1/3 cup (about 2 lemons) lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh oregano
2 Tablespoons olive oil (plus more for grates)
coarse salt & freshly ground pepper
2 pounds chicken thigh (bone in)
2 medium lemons, halved crosswise
oregano sprigs for garnish, optional

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The One That Got Away

We all know about the concept of "the one that got away"  or having an ex who just doesn't understand when it's over....but what happens when you turn out to be "the one"?


Mr. HK and I haven't dated in years and yet every six months or so he comes back into my life to say "Hi". We share a few moments of back and forth polite chit chat.

But this time the conversation went further than "how is work" and noncommittal "what have you been up to". This time the conversation jumped from "we should hang out" to "I want to make it work".....

What the....???
How the....???


Okay so I didn't say that in response. But I did tell him that it wasn't going to happen....ever.


I know what it's like to get a booty call.
To be someone's fall back.

But I never thought I'd be "the one that got away".... I'm still not sure I 100% believe that this wasn't a booty call....


...maybe it's because I never felt I could really trust what came out of his mouth. Or maybe it's just because I'm feeling like I'm not worth being someone's "the one"....the BF and I are over (again) and I'm just not sure how to feel or move on.

Let alone then emotionally process an ex contacting me saying he want's to "work it out"....

I guess I'm just a little confused right now.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

DIY: Dryer Sheets

Do-it-Yourself projects just flood the internet and social media. Sometimes I try and tackle the projects and than others I just have to giggle and shake my head. I know my limitations. Recently though I came across a "How to Make Your Own Dryer Sheets" instructions and felt I had to try it out.

There are somethings in our lives that are just wasteful. Every load of laundry has a dryer sheet and that just means added waste. So the idea of being able to have a more eco-friendly alternative is wonderful.

Supplies:

Your favorite/preferred liquid fabric softener
Sponges
Tight sealing container

Directions:

Places sponges in container and fill with fabric softener. Let sponges soak up softener. Wring out a sponge and toss into the dryer with clothes. The sponge will come out dry, just replace into the storage container.

I've been using these homemade dryer sheets for about a month now. My clothes come out static free and no different than using the throw-away sheets.

Do-It-Yourself Success!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Breaking the (Fashion) Rules

Every "big boned"..."husky"..."chunky"... "plus size" and/or "fat" wo/man most likely grew up being told not to wear stripes. That it would make us look wider, like a circus tent, like a barrel with rings emphasizing our "worst parts". 

This "fashion faux pas" has been passed along for generations that you'll often hear someone of slender or average body size saying the same thing. 

Just last week, our students had a "Spirit Week" with themed days - including Stripes. My office mates and I were talking about how to coordinate together for the following day and discussing how limited some of their closets were of stripes and archeological excavations were needed to pull out the one or two stripped pieces. One coworker, who I consider of average height and body size, said how she doesn't wear stripes because they "make you look huge". 

It makes me sad that fashion "rules" today have limited so many people's available wardrobes...especially those who are larger than "average" (i.e., not super model slender). If you're a larger sized person you:

Shouldn't wear bright colors, because it draws attention to your "problem areas".
Should wear black, because it's slimming. 
Shouldn't wear stripes, because it makes you look huge. 
Shouldn't wear/carry small accessories. 
Shouldn't wear tight clothing. 
Etc. etc. etc. 

The list just goes on forever it seems. 

For years I followed these ridiculous rules because that's all I ever heard...how to hide  my body.  Finally ten years ago I said enough was enough. I was tired of limiting what I could wear, what I was attracted to, because someone, somewhere at some point in "time" thought I shouldn't. 

If I want to wear stripes I will. And by god I'm going to rock them!



I'm a believer that you should wear what you like. Wear things that flatter your body, your personality, your sense of style.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Tricks and Tips to Meatloaf

Meatloaf has been around for centuries in various forms, recipes and methods in various countries. The "contemporary" American Meatloaf didn't start appearing in cookbooks until the late 19th century. And it seems that every family has a some Great Aunt Pearl's meatloaf recipe card passed down from generation to generation.

Me? I've never really been a fan of meatloaf. Don't ask me why... I'm a fan of meatballs, sausage, even ground meat in my spaghetti sauce and in tacos. But growing up there was something just unappealing about meatloaf.

Over the years though, and because I love my family and their affection for this lump of ground meat, I've started practicing and figuring out how I can enjoy "meatloaf night". Here are a few things I've learned over the years:

Adding vegetables to your loaf? Make sure to saute them a little first. This will make for tender vegetables which often need to cook longer than ground meat. Pictured Above: Garlic, Onions and Celery

This is a trick I learned from my Grandmother's meatballs but works for meatloaf too. Mix your egg, milk and breadcrumbs separately before adding the mixture to the meat. Getting the gluten in the bread moist first will help make more tender meatloaf (or meatballs).

Everyone has a family "glaze" recipe I'm sure. But try using fewer ingredients that still cover the sweet, salty, and acidic spectrum...add some both to the meat mixture as well as glazed on top of the loaf.

Bacon. Everything is better with bacon. And in this case you want a bacon that is NOT lean. The fattier the bacon, the more drippings will soak into your ground meat and again add to the tenderness. Don't forget that fat is flavor.

In the end these combinations of tricks and tips make for a meatloaf that is more giant tender meatball and less a meat flavored foot ball. Even I took some for lunch the next day!


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Playing in the Dirt

After blogging earlier this week about how spring has sprung I couldn't help but go play out in the dirt. 

About three years ago I bought a half-dozen tulip bulbs in pots, for my sister's bridal shower. The center pieces that weren't taken home by guests just came back to my house and have been living/blooming in the same pots ever since.

Last year I realized that the blooms weren't as nice, looking a little droopy, not as many blossoms, etc. So this year I decided to transplant the remaining live bulbs from the multiple little ones to one larger one. 

I finished the replant, and left the pot on the patio chair. Than this afternoon when I got home from work I found the container ON IT'S SIDE! I think one of the chubby squirrels that live in the back yard was confused and thought his nuts were in my flowers. *sigh*

So I changed clothes and went digging in the dirt again. Hopefully the poor bulbs survive and bloom this spring. 




Thursday, March 13, 2014

Spring has Sprung

Overnight it seems that Mother Nature woke up and said "Spring Time!!

The daffodils started sprouting a few weeks back when the ground was still frosted and covered in ice
My tulips are starting to peek out from the soil.

Then a few days ago all the cherry blossoms burst open. 




Just means my lilies aren't far behind and I better start transplanting a few bulbs before it's too late in the season. I may not be the best gardener but I do love going out and getting my hands in the soil.
 Do you garden? What do you grow?
 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Seedy Underbelly.

I've gone on a number of Portland Walking Tours but then last month I finally went on the Portland Underground Walking Tour. Kidnapping, forced labor, prostitution, gambling, racism and a SockMonkey Man....what else do you need?

Learning about the history of old buildings I used to go by every day when I worked in downtown and never knew the full history of... taverns, gambling halls, "seamstresses" and flop houses. 

 
The Japanese American Historical Plaza. Another place I pass by often, admiring the cherry blossoms when they are in bloom, but had never gone to. Never seen the poems, statues and dedication to the injustice and discrimination Portland Japanese Americans endured.  Oregon declared "To be the first state Jap Free" once WWII began.

 
Underground tunnels used by bootleggers and shanghai proprietors still exist under Portland today.


Portland's "modern" uniqueness....
 This was the first "underground" tour I've ever been on but I know they exist in many other cities across the United States. I recommend, if you live in a city that offers them, or are traveling to a city that does, take an afternoon and sign up for the tour. You can never truly appreciate a modern/current city without fully accepting and knowing it's past.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Going to the Circus!

No. I don't mean the Ringling Brothers but rather Cirque du Soleil!!

They come to town every year and I'm finally going. This will be my 2nd time seeing a Cirque du Soleil (the first was last year for my birthday in Seattle).

This show is called Totem and is "a journey into the evolution of mankind"...


"TOTEM traces the fascinating journey of the human species from its original amphibian state to its ultimate desire to fly. The characters evolve on a stage evoking a giant turtle, the symbol of origin for many ancient civilizations. Inspired by many founding myths, TOTEM illustrates, through a visual and acrobatic language, the evolutionary progress of species. Somewhere between science and legend TOTEM explores the ties that bind Man to other species, his dreams and his infinite potential."




Having studied world religion and spirituality in college this story just excites me so much. But I think the thing that excites me most is going with my little sister CC. It will be her first time seeing a Cirque show! She has seen so many on Netflix and TV it'll be so great to be there the first time she seems them live.

If you've never gone - GO! Find a show near you. Doesn't matter what. It's an amazing experience that shouldn't be missed. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Getting a Life

Now that a major time consuming life event is over I am suddenly finding myself with more free time. For the last few months my free time was spent answering emails, creating spreadsheets, designing catalogs and brochures....basically spending my time getting ready for the biggest event in my life so far. 

Now it's over. Now I have time. 

I decided I needed to be spending this "free time" doing something for myself...something that gets me out of hte house...something that isn't lying on the couch watching movies. 

So while I still have this fire in my belly I started looking up local activities/groups that will draw me out of my hermit hole. Including a yoga studio devoted to body acceptance/positivity and a Burlesque workshop. 

Image from fatyoga.org
The yoga studio is led by a woman (Anna) who has been teaching yoga for over the last 12 years and devotes her studio to body acceptance and opening yoga up to everyone. I know a few ladies who have been going to her studio for a while and speak highly of her. 

Image here.
So today I gave the studio a call and booked the next three weeks (2x a week) to start the introduction classes. I've bought a sports bra and am picking up a yoga mat this Saturday. I can't wait to start Monday!

As for the Burlesque workshop...it's hosted by a local burlesque school and is focusing on movement, hair and just being sassy...finding your inner burlesque queen. Oh, did I forget to mention it was FREE!

That course is happening this Sunday and I'm sure I'll be writing about it next week. 

All in all I'm just glad to 1) have some time on my hands to pursue "hobbies" and 2) find the passion and eagerness to break out of my introverted shell and meet people. 

Here's to getting a life!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Body Positive Christmas

I started following The Militant Baker a few months back. It was so refreshing to find a blogger where every post felt like she was speaking right to me. Jes is one of those writers, when I'm feeling down, I know I can jump to her blog or Facebook and either a post that picks me back up or at least gives me hope for a better tomorrow. 

Jes "The Militant" Baker is also one of the brain child's behind the upcoming Body Love Conference

"The Body Love Conference is a high energy, positive and progressive event where women can come together to build a community in a supportive environment while participating in revolutionary presentations and workshops."


The organizers have been planning and fundraising for years and are bringing an amazing group of speakers to cover topics ranging from 'How to teach body positivity to children' and 'The beauty of Aging' as well as 'Intimacy and Self Acceptance" to 'Reclaiming Self Trust'. 

Well for a few months I'd been watching as the list of presentations grew and grew. Wishing and wanting to be able to go in April. Finally an old friend finally told me that she'd bought her ticket and that I should go too. I don't know why I didn't think "I could totally go" before she nudged me....maybe I just didn't want to go alone? Maybe I didn't think it was really something meant for me? Either way she convinced me (okay it really didn't take much convincing) and I'M GOING!!


I'm headed to Tucson after work on a Friday, attending the conference - staying in Tucson for a brief 32 hours, before heading back home early Sunday morning. 

The event is still a month away but I'm so excited! I keep checking back to the conference website looking for more information and updates. It's like Body Positive Christmas!

Getting to hear some amazing
ladies speak.
Attending  my first non-work related conference.
And getting to reconnect with an old friend
while making new ones. 

Can't wait!!