Monday, December 06, 2010

5 Things for Monday

1. Crafting like Crazy Now that my big embroidery gift project is done and given, I've moved on to Christmas Knitting. I'm very proud of the ribbon embroidery project I just completed and might post pictures on this blog of some of the flowers. It was a collection of cloth napkins (or tea towels) with native plants of the Pacific Northwest embroidered on them. I had some help from Deanna Hall West's books, but for the most part I made my own designs from pictures on USDA Plants and Pojar's Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast field guide. These were for a wedding gift for two friends who got married this weekend.

2. My First Wedding Out West My boyfriend and I went to the wedding of two of our friends this weekend. The bride was my first friend when I moved to Oregon, and also a co-worker at my first botanical job in Oregon. Also, MBF and I met each other through this couple and first started talking to each other the night we all were invited out to celebrate their engagement. The wedding was so different from most weddings I've been to back East, and it was really, really nice. Some of the family was Jewish so there were a lot of Jewish traditions reflected, such as smashing a glass at the end of the ceremony and a bunch of people being carried on chairs while everyone danced in a circle around them. It made me wish I was Jewish, instead of just looking Jewish. (Which reminds me of a funny story for another post.)

3. Moving Again I know, I know. This time, it's the studio of my dreams. It's very big for a studio, with a wood-burning fireplace and a balcony. The building is a hundred-year-old mansion. Much of the neighborhoods is Victorian mansions and old, moss-covered trees, some with forests of ferns growing out of the moss. I had just about given up on "old-fashioned" and "cute," since it is often accompanied by "poor insulation," "high heating bills," "mold," "mice," and "weird landlords." However, the landlord seems to be on top of things and utilities are included in the rent (which is still 1/3 lower than what I paid for my last apartment in New Jersey.) I won't have a huge garden, but I've kind of postponed that dream for whenever I own a house. I'll probably get a garden plot somewhere else, and I can do a little bit with the balcony, which has two big, built-in planters. Plus, there is a long window-box-like planter built in, running along the entire outside wall of the apartment. I can plant herbs (that will tolerate a northern exposure) outside my kitchen window!

(I just got distracted from writing this looking up small space organizing ideas on Apartment Therapy and other websites, and then looking at shelves on the IKEA website.)

4. Cooking. (As usual.) Since it's a busy time of year and I'm moving soon, I'm trying to avoid excessive grocery shopping and I've already packed up a lot of my kitchen things. When baking my Thanksgiving dessert contribution, this Concord Grape and Apple Pie, I rediscovered Not Eating Out in New York. I don't know why I forgot about this website, or why, in 2008, after making and loving the pie AND the concept behind this blog, I didn't look at the rest of it. There are so many interesting and simple recipes using inexpensive and/or in-season produce on this blog; the seasons of Portland and New York match up fairly well, although not exactly. I've made a version of these dijon beans with collard greens added and just last night, these very healthy miso-braised greens and mushroom soba soup using collards. I'd like to try some variation of beans baked in a pumpkin, and I'm especially intrigued by this salad which appears to use raw quince. I'd love to do a Not Eating Out in Portland version where tomatoes are a fall vegetable and go well with things like kale soup. But it's not easy to not eat out in Portland...

5. Some Places to Eat I've been meaning since Halloween weekend to write about Suzette, the interesting creperie MBF and I stopped at while out for a walk on a dreary fall day. Suzette combines the Portland food cart with the Portland cafe-in-a-cute-old-building. There's outdoor seating, but I've never been to Suzette when it's warm enough to sit there, and there's seating inside of a building that seems to be an old carriage house or something. The outside is painted a bright light blue. You walk down a little path (which makes me feel like I'm going to a secret garden) to order at the cart where I guess all the food is, since there's no kitchen inside the blue building, just coffee. After you order, you're directed by the friendly staff to sit inside where everything will be brought to you. Inside is an assortment of old-fashioned chairs and tables, a couch, and lots of artwork on the walls. I've never gotten one of their crepes, but both times I've gone, I've had their delicious homemade ice cream with a cup of coffee. Their wonderful ice cream, served in a chilled bowl, is perfect with a cup of coffee. I like to switch off between the two, eating and drinking slooooowly. The place has kind of a dreamy feel and dreamy lighting; it's great for a date and for coffee with a friend. The first time I went, I had the creme fraiche ice cream, and fell in love. I'd love to go there sometime for brunch.

Recently, I also went to Broder, which I've written about and posted pictures of before. I think Broder is my favorite place to eat in Portland. It's reliable; I know I will always get good food and good service there. No one will ever be rude to me, and I will like my brunch/dinner. The Friday night dinner was a bit more crowded than the last time I saw it, but there was no wait and I think even some empty tables. There's not much else to say. I love Broder, and if you're in the Portland area, go there!

We also ate brunch at Equinox, which was on my To-Try list, and the most interesting thing to say about that is that the toast appeared to come buttered with caramelized butter. It looked like normal butter, but tasted like browned butter.

The most exciting news of all is that MBF and I have found pizza in Portland that I'll eat, at Bella Faccia on Alberta. (I also like Hot Lips, but I've only had a squash sauce brie slice and that certainly doesn't satisfy the NJ pizza craving.) It tastes like good NY/NJ pizza, not quite like the best you've ever had, but good enough! Bella Faccia, thank you for existing.

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