Thanksgiving in Portland.2

In true Portland hipster fashion we biked everywhere. But it was also really nice to bike because we could stop whenever we wanted and parking didn't have to be an issue. - OK fine we were being hipster :)
This is the hotel we stayed at. It was also very hipster, ha. But our wall had a mural on it orange in the carpet and a really fantastic bar and restaurant attached to it. So those were also wins.

While we were biking along the water we happened upon a Saturday Market. They had tons of food and homeade goodies. We, of course, ended up getting more pho. Something about it's spicy warm goodness that screams fall.

We also got to meet up with a friend from Cincy while we were there. John has been living in Portland, we called him up and all met up at a bar with his friend Amy. We played euchre all night! GIRLS WON! Euchre is Midwest card game and John had been dying to play it. I am so thankful for meeting up with them. We had fun conversations, talked about memories, and laughed a whole whole lot. When we left the older bartender said he couldn't get over how funny we thought playing cards was. He said we were so loud and laughing so hard that he couldn't help but smile. So I told him what we were playing and he then told me he knew it- he was from Cincinnati! How fun and cool is that!

This Thanksgiving I was thankful for random moments and meetings like that. Our weekend was filled with companionship even if it was 2 hours next to a random guy at a bar eating turkey. We missed our families but it really felt like we were surrounded by one anyways, even if they were temporary.

Plus we really loved going on vacation together. Next we're planning a camping trip!
When we got home hubs made me eggs in a basket and bacon and we watched How I Met Your Mother all afternoon!

Part 1 here

Check it out

Good morning! I was a guest blogger over at this blog talking about Christmas traditions

last year at the Cincinnati Zoo Fesitval of Lights


Thanksgiving in Portland.1

We took our first family vacation together! We went to Portland, OR for Thanksgiving and it rocked. We mostly played it pretty chill, skipped the Black Friday shopping, and lounged around our hotel for lunch (in our defense they have amazing food, amazing! and it is in a cute log cabin looking place)

For Thanksgiving dinner we found a bar that was serving free dinner! But it turned out so much better than that- it was a smoked turkey, homeade stuffing and pies and potatoes yummmmm
They had outside heaters so we hung out on the patio all night watching football and making new friends. It felt perfect.

O and of course we watched some of the James Bond marathon earlier in the day- a MUST

Then the next day we hit the town. One of our new Portland friends said it is the place old people go to retire. Which felt so true, it was relaxed and everyone wasn't in a hurry and there was tons of good food!
We had to of course go to Voodoo donuts and got the voodoo jelly man, bacon maple, and sprinkle donuts

Then when we were wondering around we accidentally found my work's other office in Portland
Portland is overflowing with food trucks! The donwtown has 3 blocks, I said Blocks soley dedicated to them. They are in a corral and it is amazing.
It was a little chilly so we grabbed pho and it was beyond amazingly tasty

Also found a really hipster coffee shop to warm up in :) and of course we bike there, hehe

Our hotel also had chalkboard doors so, not feeling very creative, we drew turkey hands and cowboys over the peephole :)

There's a part 2 here


Homeade Cookie Cutters

Since I enjoy being crafty we made our own cookie cutters:

My family always spends lots of time making cookies in December and Josh and I are excited not to let being far away stop us from still making tons of them.
The special ones are always the sugar cookies- each kid got a tray that they decorated and got their picture taken with.
Since I don't have any cookie cutters yet I thought it might be fun to make some!

We now have an angel, snowman, ornament, tree & candy cane :)

Mini Tutorial below:
You need aluminum flashing (not chemically treated!),
scissors (that you’re not afraid you may ruin),
a ruler(for bending edges around),
& mini clips of some kind, string,
non-toxic adhesive (I used epoxy could also use double-sided tape if you only need to use them a few times)
  yes epoxy is toxic but not once it's dry

1   draw or print off what you want your cookie cutter to look like and measure the
      length of flashing you’ll need with the string
2    then cut the flashing about 1” wide and to the length of the string + a little extra
3    start folding and bending the flashing around your drawing and use the ruler to help
      get good bends in the aluminum, also for some curves and such I grabbed pencils, cups and such
4    once you’ve made your shape leave a little bit to overlap each end of the aluminum, at least ½”
5    then put some glue on one end and push them together and clamp
6    let dry, wash them, and enjoy!


Madre Birthday!

My mom's birthday is today!
I brought her gift to her when we were home a few weeks ago- a really cute sweater dress, and she went out and bought boots to go with it! So excited- she's becoming so fashiony :)

Wish I could be there, but Madre I love you and can't wait to see you at Christmas. I hope you have a great day and can feel how special you are to all of us. You always make me feel like I can do it and that you're thinking of me- know I'm thinking of you too!

H A P P Y     B I R T H D A Y !

Isn't she gorgeous!!



Have you ever had tapas? They are "small plates" usually a Spain restaurant type of thing.
You order lots of small plates of different things that make up your meal.
Joshua and I went when he visited me in Boston and we've loved them ever since. I love that you can sample a bunch of different things and not have to feel bad if you don't like it.

Hubs was still feeling sick Monday but he wanted to do something so I thought I'd make our own "going out to eat" experience. So I made tapas! They were a lot simpler than I thought.
I made glazed carrots, bacon-wrapped dates, and brie & parsley stuffed mushrooms.
We drank some red wine and snuggled while watching Alias. I think he was satisfied :)

We're going to Portland tonight! I can't wait. We've wanted to go but don't have vacation days and since we can't afford to fly home we're taking the holiday as a mini vacation. They have a little micro-brewery district, and no sales tax- yay for black friday shopping, and we're staying in a really cute hotel with a bar/restaurant lodge attached. Can't wait to see where we wind up for Thanksgiving dinner - as long as I can find stuffing somewhere in Portland I'll be happy!


Relaxy Kinda Weekend

Joshua was pretty sick all weekend so we stayed in and did nothing- Ok yes we were going to stay in anyway but now we don't have to feel bad about it.
It was even sunny and nice out but my couch and handful of DVD's I got from the library won out, and it was amazing!

We had pizza from papa john's one night- even got it delivered= ultimate lazy, wore pj's all evening, watched all of Season 2 How I Met Your Mother!
We did one productive thing- hubs hung up some curtains so the sun wouldn't wake us up Saturday morning haha, seriously we went to Target just to get curtains to sleep in late!
My new cozy wool socks matched our room!
Hooray they are up, mostly level and even match!
Then the next night we watched Life Aquatic, walked to go get Starbucks 2 for 1!!! holiday drinks (counts as going outside and being active) took a nap, ate pancakes, hubs tried to make latte's with a free thing he got from work, I relentlessly teased him about it, and finished up with 1/2 the 2nd season of Alias.

And since we are going to Portland Wednesday night (Hip hip hooray!) we have to finish the season so I can return it to the library before we leave, so it looks like we are just going to have to sit on the couch some more! :)

But really it was just nice to sit with each other, talk ourselves in cirlces, drink too much caffine too late at night, and eat pizza we didn't have to make. Makes me think of how much I love being with him, especially when we can do nothing and still feel like we had a full fun weekend.


Pumpkin Guts & Pumpkin Recipies

So Joshua and I went to the pumpkin patch and intended to carve o
ur pumpkin but life took over and we never got around to it :(
So the other day we had to compost him, but we did make some
pumpkin flavored treats this fall:
I never really thought I liked pumpkin flavored things- I was wrong.

Also check out my friend Adrienne's blog she has some FANTASTIC pumpkin recipies (& their much healthier than mine hehe)

Pumpkin Bread:

Beware this makes 3 loaves! Definitely send them to work with Joshua.
He took one loaf on Monday and they asked him to bring more the next day for when the clients from Turkey came in- turned out to be a good thing I had 3!

1 can 15oz. pumpkin
4 eggs
1 cup olive oil
2/3 cup water
3 cups sugar
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
chocolate chips
preheat 350 degrees F

1   mix pumpkin, eggs, oil, water, sugar in a bowl
2   in another bowl mix flour, soda, salt, and spices
3   stir dry into the wet ingredients until just blended
4   then add walnuts- since this makes 3 loaves I only added chocolate chips to the last loaf= variety :)
5   grease bread pans and bake 35-40 minutes if doing individually or around 50 minutes if doing all 3

Pumpkin Roll:
Joshua loves these and he helped me make it for our small group. Yet it didn't really turn out very pretty and it kind of cracked which I attribute to  him helping :)
But really I think it is because my dough was too thick, so be careful I just used a normal size rectangular cake pan and it wasn't big enough and the dough cracked when I rolled it because it was too thick

3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup pumpkin puree (I snuck in a little more)
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. pumpkin spice (also snuck in a little more of this)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

1 8 oz. package cream cheese; softened
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar
6 tbs. butter; softened

preheat oven 375 degrees F

1     grease pan and then put wax paper on the bottom of it
2     combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, pumpkin spice, soda, powder, and salt in a bowl
3     in a large mixer whip the eggs and then mix in the pumpkin
4     then add in the dry ingredients 1/2 cup at a time and mix until just incorporated
5     spread the batter into the pan evenly and bake for 12-16 min. top of dough should spring back when touched, don't over cook
6     place a towel down on the counter and sprinkle it with powdered sugar
7     when the dough is done immediately loosen edges and turn it onto the towel and remove the wax paper
8     then roll up the dough with the towel and let it cool compeltely (I did not do this oops) you can put it in the fridge to speed it up
9     beat the filling ingredients
10   once the roll has cooled unroll it gently and spread the filling on top of it
11   reroll the dough without the towel and wrap the roll
12   refrigerate and then serve, it tastes best cold!


Baklava & Prayer

Our small group always meets and has a potluck dinner before we dive into the word. I always loved the idea of eating with friends before studying and it is as great as I envisioned. We have gotten to know these people so much better and are so much more willing to open up, I think, because of the time and conversation we share together first over a meal.

Unfortunately Joshua and I left the last one early because that's when I found out about my Grandpa.
But these friends gathered and prayed around us before we left and throughout the week called or messaged us in some way to see how I was doing or to tell me that my family was in their thoughts and prayers.
After we got in the truck to leave Joshua said he was glad we were there when I got the call. I was still sobbing and him saying that somehow comforted me. Having people that you barely know care the way they did and make us feel like they were really there if we needed anything is such a blessing. I pray that Joshua and I can be that to them and I'm so thankful to have been placed in a community that is genuine and loving.

Now to the baklava :)
This dessert is amazing. I've made it about 5 times or so and I never come home with leftovers.
And since I'm a grown up married woman I use a real pastry brush instead of the cleaniest paintbrush I can find (hehe)

Baklava Recipe:
1 package phyllo dough (16 oz)
1/2-1 lb chopped pecans and walnuts (I don't usually use a whole pound I'd say more around 1/2)
1 cup butter; melted
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup honey
preheat oven 350 degrees F

1   butter the sides and bottom of the baking dish (it can be any size dish you want just depends on how thick or thin you want it, I like an 8"x8")
2   chop the nuts and mix them with the cinnamon
3   unroll the phyllo dough and cut it so that it will fit the size of your pan
cover the unused dough with a towel so it doesn't dry out
4   then lay down 2 sheets of dough into the baking dish and then brush on some melted butter and sprinkle on some of the nut/cinnamon mixture
5   place 2 layers of dough on top of that and repepat
6   make sure you leave 6-8 sheets aside for the top and once you put those on butter the top
most of the time my dough crumbles at some point and I promise no one will notice
7   then cut the dough into squares and then triangles with a really sharp knife
8   place in oven for 45-50 min, should be golden brown

when it has 20 minutes left start making the sauce:
1   boil the sugar and water until the sugar is all melted
2   stir in the vanilla and honey
3   simmer for 20 minutes
4   when the baklava is done baking pour the sauce overtop of the dough
5   let cool and serve, can freeze it, don't cover too tightly or it can get soggy

Enjoy- instant favorite!


Padre in Seattle- Playing

Goofy is something people may not see at first in my dad, but I promise you he is VERY goofy. And very tolerant of my goofiness as well. When I said we were taking a picture throwing leaves I don't even think he hesitated.
We had a great time Sunday walking around the arboretum. It was a little chilly but we hadn't had time to appreciate fall in Seattle yet and we soaked it all up Sunday.

When we were younger and went to McDonald's all of us kids and parents would try to "call largest fry" we thought it was fun and goofy and everyone played along. As we were walking my dad called largest leaf. I beat him with another at some point but then he pulled out for the win right before we went back to the car.
Also for some reason on our honeymoon Joshua and I started describing things in terms of how many faces (such as this is a face size pizza, and so on) So my dad is also demonstrating that this is about 1 1/2 faces :)
Yeah we had way too much fun!

Then we headed to Ballard at night and had Mexican and Margaritas and then ended the night with gelato. Padre had never had gelato and I think he loved it! Caramel & fig, chocolate hazelnut, dark coffee, crunchy coffee- who can't love all of those flavors!

Overall the weekend my dad was here turned out to be a real treat for Joshua and I. It was actually pretty relaxing and really nice to spend time with him. My mom had come out when I was interning here and I got her all to myself for a weekend and it was fun to get the same opportunity with him.

But this weekend hubs and I are going to target to buy dark curtains for our bedroom and sleeping in all Saturday, maybe waking up for a little more stuffed french toast though :)


Padre in Seattle-Feasting!

Recipes for Challah bread and Stuffed French Toast- Both incredibly delicious!!!! and very pretty!

Stuffed French toast rocks! I wanted to cook for my dad when he came but making him dinner would take a long time and rob us of going to some other places at night and we were always out for lunch So breakfast it was! We went to the farmer's market on Saturday, which me dad loved, and bought some of the last blackberries of the season. We also bought some breakfast sausage from a farmer there.

Also check out Padre in Seattle: BAKING, EXPLORING, HISTORY, PLAYING

It was tasty! Very tasty. And I'm so excited to have discovered challah bread- it is ridiculously tasty!

So here's the recipe!
Stuffed French Toast

1 loaf challah bread (you could use french bread too, i guess :)
box of blackberries
2 tbs. of sugar
1/4 cup water
ricotta cheese

for the egg bath:
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. cinnamon

1     cut the loaf into 1 1/2 inch slices and then slice a slit down the center of each (not all the way through
2     place blackberries, water, and sugar in a saucpan and cook on low and mash until they are more like a jam, about 7 minutes
3     then stuff the berry mixture into the slit of each slice of bread
4     add a spoonful of ricotta on top
5     then pinch the bread closed, if you can. (I couldn't get mine closed but it still worked
6     make the egg bath by mixing all of its ingredients
7     dip each slice of bread into the egg bath for 10-15 seconds on each side (only dip the ones you are immediately about to cook)
8     spray cooking pan
9     place in skillet and cook each side until it is browned slightly, don't put burner on too high or it will cook to fast and the inside won't get warm

serve with powdered sugar, the rest of the blackberry sauce, and syrup!

Challah bread recipe:
1/3 cup honey
1 1/4 cup warm water
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup olive oil
2 eggs (whisked already)
5 cups flour

bread wash:
1/4 cup milk
2 tbs olive oil
1 egg white
1 tbs sugar

1     in large mixing bowl pour honey into the warm water and stir in yeast, set aside for 15 min.
       (should get foamy)
2     then stir in the salt, 2/3 cup olive oil, and whisked eggs
3     add flour 1 cup at a time, dough should be tacky but not extremely sticky
       (I used Agatha and my bread hook to mix this throughly)
4     place the dough on a floured surface and knead for 10 min
5     lightly oil a bowl and place the dough back in and cover with a towel for 90 min
       (my dad's tip was to turn the oven on low and turn it back off and place the dough in if you're in
       a cold space, otherwise it won't really rise)
6     punch down the dough and cut into 2 halves (you can make one 6 braid challah if you want but for french toast you need it to be thinner loaves)
7     cut the halves into 4 equal pieces and roll each piece into thin ropes. the ends should be thinner than the middles of each rope (about thumb size at the center)
8     then take 4 strands and mash together one end of each and leave other ends free
9     then go in an over-under-over pattern with each strand working down one side until you get to the
10   repeat with other loaf and set aside to rise 60 min, cover with a towel
11   preheat oven 350 degrees F and line baking sheet with parchment paper
12   whisk together ingredients for glaze and brush onto the top and sides of each loaf
13   bake until they are a light golden brown, about 30 minutes

they freeze well too