June 30, 2011

Hell in a Handbasket

I'm not all that up on popular culture in general. Those of you who make Full House, Saved by the Bell, and any number of childhood sitcom references, will be rewarded with a blank stare. I might even ask you, "Who's Stephanie Tanner?" I'm sorry. We didn't have cable. And I really, really liked cartoons.

That being said, I do read magazine covers in grocery stores, I happened to be working as a restaurant delivery phone operator in the internet cafe with big televisions on the night that Britney shaved her head (and therefore saw that CNN found it extremely newsworthy), and I occasionally glean things from Facebook (just found out that Michele Bachmann is a crazy, incompetent nutjob with nice hair).

And I am aware, somewhat, of the whole Justin Bieber thing. But look at this ad.

Could it be more unfortunate? He's so underage. What does that copy on the bottom mean? Who is the pervy older girl behind him and why is she smelling a famous child's hair? What has happened to the world? Someday this won't be so gross, but it is right now.

June 29, 2011

Delicious Oatmeal Bars

How do you know you've become an adult? When you bake things and bring them to events that should be an unadulterated party. I've found myself doing exactly that lately, and am feeling a strange mix of pride and mourning for my youthful self who ate cold baked beans out of the can. It's okay. When it comes down to it, Raisin Oatmeal Bars are way better than cold baked beans.

Alexis requested this recipe after I brought these to Sasquatch and I figured I would post it here so that anyone can replicate and enjoy this treat.

The first time I made these I was in Colorado, recovering from a breakup and living by myself in the furnished apartment of my ex-boyfriend's sister. I had never lived by myself before and was really into it. I was painting and cooking a lot, mostly using this crazy slow-cook macrobiotic cookbook (The Self Healing Cookbook) that I had found in the apartment. Lucky for you, this recipe did not come from the The Self Healing Cookbook. I found this in the Summit Daily, quite possibly one of the worst newspapers in the history of the world. Anyway. Here's the recipe. I been using whole-wheat flour lately, and I think it adds to it. I also added coconut to the last batch with no ill-effect, so I would recommend adding that too, unless you hate coconut.

Raisin Oatmeal Bars

1 cup dark raisins
1 cup golden raisins (it's worth it. Don't skimp and only use dark ones)
1 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup grated coconut
2 sticks unsalted butter (1 cup) at room temperature
1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in the center. Line a 9" by 13'' pan with foil. Let the foil hang over the sides so that you have handles when you want to pull the bars out. If foil isn't non-stick, spray or grease.

Make the raisin filling by combining  the dark and golden raisins, condensed milk, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan. Cook over low medium heat and stir constantly until mixture thickens slightly and starts to simmer (you'll see bubbles but don't let it boil). Add coconut and mix. Remove the pan from heat and let it cool.

Make the base and topping by cutting the butter into pieces and mixing it with sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat until fluffy. Add the oats, flour, baking soda, and walnuts, and stir until well mixed and crumbly.

Set aside 1 cup of the mixture for the topping. Press the rest into the baking pan. Smooth in an even layer (you can use a sheet of wax paper if it's sticking to your hands). Spoon the raisin filling over the bottom layer and spread with a spatula so that it covers the entire base. Crumble the 1 cup of topping over the filling and press down gently to keep it in place.

Place in oven and bake until the top of the bars are a deep golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes. Remove the pastry from the oven and cool on a wire rack before lifting out of the pan.  Cut into 1 by 2 inch bars when you're ready to serve (they're rich). rich rich rich.

June 24, 2011

Tunnel Vision

Oh my, I am excited for the weekend. I'm going up to Seattle to visit my friend Alexa. She recently returned from Australia where she got a Masters in urban planning, and in a flurry of activity, moved to Seattle for an internship. That's all exciting but the really exciting thing is that she was just offered a real job with them. Hurrah!

I won't be around this weekend, but if you're in Portland, you should most certainly go to this. That is, if you love being awesome and looking at (and possibly purchasing) awesome things. 

June 22, 2011

Home Alone

What do you do when you have the house to yourself?

When Sam and I moved in together I was a little worried about not having space and time to myself. But our schedules are not very congruent, and I end up having several evenings throughout the week all to myself. They're nice. I make plans with friends a lot of the time, but sometimes I just go home so I can hang out and do nothing. At least, my version of nothing:

Gardening: I use this term loosely. We have a couple garden boxes planted with tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, carrots, and peas. "Gardening" involves watering these plants and then looking at them. Seriously. I just kind of stare at them with this immense feeling of satisfaction. Sometimes I pick at a stray weed. Attempt to thin the carrots or lettuce out (My thinning attempts are pathetic because I feel bad about pulling them out). Redirect the pea plant tendrils. Mostly, I just stare at the plants. Also, I get the potting soil out and start repotting plants. Sam comes home to find random piles of dirt scattered around the garage.

Accordion: I feel like there are only certain hours in the day that I can play. Too late and your neighbors will be bummed. If I come home within the acceptable window, I play the accordion. The neighbors have been subjected to "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" lately. Lucky them.

Cook: Rare. Quite rare. But it's usually an all-evening affair and then requires an extensive amount of follow-up kitchen cleaning. I feel like cooking usually pushes the other activities to the wayside (yet another reason to avoid it), I'm all about free-time maximization.

Dance Aerobics: Sam will never see this in action. I put music on, pull my hand weights out, and I do random movements, off-the-cuff routines, various calisthenics, and muscle-building exercises. Not for the eyes of others. Sometimes I wonder if the neighbors can see me. I like to think that they can't.

Artistic Forays: Writing, drawing, painting. These things don't happen enough. I think I allocate too much time to gardening.

I'm interested. What do other people do? Is this pretty on par? I know Kyle Arthur likes to drink beer and work on websites to all hours of the night. I don't think I've ever done that.

June 21, 2011


For those of you who think my meals consist of happy hours on patios, you are wrong. I can cook.* Mainly for special occasions such as potlucks, Sasquatch, camping trips, and of course, Father's Day. I made my dad this pie. It's strawberry rhubarb. And it was delicious. I know posting a photo of a pie is questionable. Right up there with those horrible people on Facebook who post photos and a cryptic caption of the sandwich they're about to eat. But I'm really proud of this pie.

* Sadly, not very often. I like cooking, but it's so much easier to eat carrots and peanut butter, or chips and salsa, or a burrito that I didn't make. Sam and I make breakfast together quite often, but I'm afraid he hasn't been impressed with my dinner skills. It's not that they don't exist. I think I'm just lazy.

June 20, 2011

New Bon Iver

It's great and you can listen to it on NPR. Not quite as heartbreaking as For Emma, Forever Ago, but no less touching. He creates these spaces with sound that take me back to childhood, when I rode in the backs of cars and my parents would play self-recorded tapes from their favorite records, and we would wind through valleys lined with hillsides wrinkled like dropcloths, sharp aired forests, and plains studded with straw. I watched sun strike through the ponderosa pines, clouds twist on bony peaks, horses stand round backed in dry fields, broken ridged barns, hawks on wires, and daydreamed. It's nice to listen to music that reminds you when life was like that. And yes, it's nostalgia, but there's nothing wrong with remembering.

June 15, 2011

A New Contender

I apologize for the lack of posts lately. I've been sick. BUT I'm back with good news. I have found a great new patio. Actually, I need to credit Jocelyn with this discovery. She lives right down the road and had already told me it was her new favorite bar. We went there for her birthday last week. I would hate to take all the credit, especially from a recent birthday girl.

Side note: I could have discovered Maui's. A few months ago, Sam and I went on an ill-fated adventure that took us past Maui's newly opened doors, but we decided to avoid the tiki theme and went straight to little Ethiopia. That turned out to be a wonderful but also unfortunate choice.

Maui's on Williams (otherwise known as Maui's)

Drinks: Cheap! Great deals! Happy hour provides you with $2 pints of microbrews.

Food: Not bad. Jocelyn hadn't eaten there yet, because she didn't want to spoil the illusion that this was her favorite new bar. Fortunately for her, the mac n' cheese was actually really tasty and it had bacon. Kyle ordered a corn dog and the mac n' cheese and I sampled both. I would eat there again.

Service: Pretty good. The bartender remembered what I had ordered when I went back for the second round. It's a small detail but aren't small details what separate the horrible bartender from the good?  

Patrons: Melting pot. For once, you can hang out and pretend you don't live in the whitest city ever.

Patio: 10 points for safety: patio was covered in a thick layer of bark chips,  10 points for ample picnic table distribution, 10 points for ping pong table.

Random points for sparkle wire. We were sitting at a picnic table talking about how much we liked the patio, and then noticed that the barbed wire-topped fence had white christmas lights wrapped around it. Festive. After making various jokes and comments about this, christening it "Sparkle Wire" and basically running the conversation into the ground, Kyle Carnes piped up with, "They should put christmas lights on the barbed wire." He was sitting right next to it. He had been there for the entire conversation. "Kyle," I said, "They have." (Despite abject listening skills, Kyle is a talented photographer and has a really great blog).

Also, random points for extremely spirited game watching. There was yelling and screaming and arm waving going on when I got there. It's always nice to find a new place to watch a sports game. Because, you know, I do that all the time.

June 9, 2011

Summer Vacation

Dream Vacation: A big road trip through the south, complete with a stop at Dollywood. You know, Dolly Parton's Great Smoky Mountains family amusement park.  I've wanted to go there for ages. Dolly got me through a rough patch at work this morning, and I'm pretty sure this won't be the first time. Listen to her evangelizing below. She's so great. 

June 8, 2011

Next stop, Voodoo Doughnuts

Sam's parents are in town. They are staying with us. This initially elicited a lot of joy on Sam's side and a sense of impending doom on my side. Not because I don't like Sam's parents. I do. They're great. But I get stressed about guests. I'm not great with the whole host, showing you around town thing. Past guests of mine have been subjected to a wide variety of activities: dirtbag bar tours (began at Sandy Hut, went on to Chopsticks, ended at my bedroom floor with a bag of Doritos), late night bike rides, weird reggae shows, OMSI, jogging through the Lloyd Center, snowboarding, music festivals, Scrabble and brunch in a snowstorm, the requisite beach trip, or just visiting my parents and sitting on their deck for five hours. Basically, whatever I happened to already have planned. But you can't do that with visiting parents. You have to do fun things that they might like to do too.

I was also worried that Sam's mother would judge my housekeeping skills. I imagined her getting on the phone with friends and family and saying things like, "Oh, you will not believe the state of her pantry. Organic white beans, only one box of cereal, and a Cup o' Noodle," or "It looks like they haven't cleaned their toilet in least two days." I want to be clear. Sam's mom isn't like that. I just tend to go for worst-case-scenario in my head.

The good news is, their visit has been great so far. Sam's mom doesn't care about our pantry. We went to Multnomah Falls, we went to my parents' place in Newberg for the THE MEETING OF THE PARENTS and it was not painful or awkward, and we're having a big dinner tonight. My only complaint is the general lack of really cool attractions/tourist traps in Portland. There are a million great things about Portland, for sure, but when a doughnut shop is considered a major attraction, I feel like we have some work to do. Where is your favorite place to take visitors? I'm open to suggestions.

June 7, 2011

Summer Food

Is there anything more summery than mangos? Well, maybe popsicles. Or watermelon. There are actually a lot of foods that say summer, but there's something about mangos. The golden color, the sweetness, the sticky juice. It's like eating sunshine.

I've been eating more mangos lately, mostly because they've been on sale, even though they're kind of a pain in the ass. I mean, you always have to cut them up, and that pit is slippery, and you always end up making a mess.

Anyway, the other morning I chopped up a mango and ate half and put half in the fridge for later. I ate the other half yesterday morning for a quick breakfast. As I was popping pieces into my mouth, I realized I had gotten a little chunk of skin in there. Failure at mango cutting. I spit it out and threw it in the garbage.

Now, to preface this story, I occasionally have lip problems. My lips get horribly chapped and cracked on the edges. It hurts and is generally unpleasant. Don't worry. I won't show you photos (but you can find really extreme examples on the internet if you're inclined. Google image angular cheilitis. This one is especially great because it's all mouths). Anyway, I've been dealing with a bit of that and it bums me out.

Now yesterday evening, I realized, in addition to the regular cracking, I had these tiny blisters accumulating on my lip. Like three tiny blisters. And I was seriously freaking out. All I could think was, I've got the Herp. It didn't actually look like a cold sore, but what else could it be? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Done for.

Now, I will admit to frequent internet self-diagnosis. It's never a good idea but it's irresistible. My internet research gave me nothing but assurance that I had a herpes outbreak on my lip, and then Sam was going to have a herpes outbreak on his lip, and we were going to be one of those couples with matching lip sores. Doom.

But in my darkest hour the internet prevailed. I happened upon some crazy natural remedy forum and someone mentioned something about mango being in the same family as poison oak and ivy. What? I researched further. Yes. It is true. Mango is in the same family and its skin contains the same oil (Urushiol) that poison oak and ivy does. And if you eat it (which I did yesterday morning), and you are allergic (which I am, horribly so), then you will have a similar reaction. Which I did. Tiny little blisters. Internet and mango magic. Yes, it still sucks (though it's going away), but it's sooo much better than the herp. I think this is the first time in the history of internet self-diagnosis that I've closed my browser feeling better about my life.

June 6, 2011

Style Inspiration

I would to talk about my favorite new blog: Tomboy Style.

I love it so much. This has given me the inspiration and validation I need to accept my true style calling. Let's face it. I'm just not a girly girl. I love jeans, t-shirts, and most of all, I love flats. I like to pretend I love heels because they look great, but the truth is that I hate wearing them. They're uncomfortable. They hurt my feet. And there's no way you can make a quick getaway. I like shoes that allow me to dance, like really dance, with lots of fancy footwork, jump on a skateboard, climb trees, ride bikes, and if necessary run from the police (not that this usually happens, but I still think it's important).  I didn't play with dolls or Barbies as a kid, I played in the mud. I don't think this should change just because I'm older and attempting to be mature. This blog has given me assurance that one does not have to dress like a lady to be a lady. So inspiring.

June 3, 2011


You may recall my promise to review summer beer drinking patios around town. Well, I've been shirking my duties. But not without good reason. You know when you have one of those nights that would be better left undone? The kind of night that starts with you going straight to happy hour without eating dinner? Those nights never turn out well, and I've been avoiding discussing this one, due to the unfortunate memories associated with it. However. I've put it off long enough.

Momo Bar Maximo (otherwise known as Momo's)

The Barfly review for this place is not particularly favorable:

Overpriced drinks, garish crimson interiors, crowds ranging between (weekends) scattered pockets of proto suburbanites and (weeknights) the bartender and her paramour watching The Parkers at top volume - Momo’s doesn’t exactly invite adventuring.

It goes on to mention  E-dates grimacing through appetizers and C-list fratboys misplaying pool, but does recommend the magical patio in the back, a completely unexpected surprise. The patio IS totally sweet. It's like a little oasis in an otherwise typical bar often filled with bad art. I headed over to meet a crew of friends, got mildly lost and managed to drop my bike on a person in a wheelchair (yes, really). I was looking forward to a drink on that patio. But you know how Portland is in the spring. People freak out on a sunny day. The patio was totally full and there wasn't a seat to be had. We did end up taking over the picnic tables in front and then Carin befriended some Canadians on vacation who may or may not have been involved in the adult film industry. They became our new best friends and brought out a round of tequila shots. And really, it all went downhill from there.

Drinks: Strong and tasty. Avoid the strange line that happens at the bar (what is it about over-polite people in Portland standing in single file lines at bars? It kills me) and just go up to the bar. Trust me. They'll serve you.

Food: See above. I didn't really eat. But Kyle Arthur did get a chicken strip basket. It looked pretty standard.

Service: Great. The guys are always friendly, overpour the shots, and once the bartender discussed scotch with us and poured a taster just because he was a nice guy. 

Patrons: Mixed bag. There is definitely a southwest crowd (overly polished, popped collars, aging greek system) but I was initially introduced to Momo's by dirtbag skater kids, so I think it's pretty variable. You are guaranteed to be cooler than at least one person there, so that's always kind of an ego boost.

Patio: As I said, the magical oasis had already been claimed by the unemployed and the 8 to 4 crowd. Next time. The sidewalk was a good consolation prize.

Random points for generous, weird Canadians. Girl was like, 'What's the deal yo? We don't want to be tourists. We want to knoooooow where to goooooo."
Jocelyn said, "I'm going to the farmer's market tomorrow. "
Canadian said, "Oh."
And the conversation died.

June 2, 2011

Wait for the Summer

I'm officially ready for it to be summer. To stick with that general theme, I'm going to do posts about summery things for the next while, until the sun finally comes out and stays out. Last week I went through my box of summer clothes and pulled out shorts (I know, total hypocrite), long striped dresses, printed skirts, and airy cotton tank tops. I tucked away my heavy sweaters and woolen scarves and lined suede boots. It's time.

This year I want my summer uniform to be white v-neck t-shirts, denim shirts, Liberty prints, bathing suit tops, and sun dresses. What are you going to wear this summer?

June 1, 2011

Back to the Real World

I'm alive. The 10th anniversary of Sasquatch did not kill me. In fact, I feel pretty good. My face is sunburnt and I'm sore from dancing as vigorously as I possibly could for three days straight, but in general, I would say this year was pretty successful. We are adults now. We made sure to drink water and eat food all day so we didn't end up like the children carted off in gurneys in their hot pants and bra tops and their face paint. The crowd has never looked younger, which probably means I have officially grown too old for Sasquatch. We had a successful friend reunion, saw some great shows (Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and Yeasayer were my favorites), ate Wild Burgers, danced, had adventures, witnessed some extremely kooky stuff, and laughed until our muscles cramped. Success. Complete success. I took photos with film this year, so it may be a while before I can share some images. To be continued . . ..