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December 3, 2009

Facebook Defriending Flow Chart

How many times have you rolled your eyes when Fratty McDouche fills up 90% of your news feed with misspelled musings about minutiae? How often does Susie Shallowstein's CONSTANT updates of her photo albums with yet another picture of her adorable puppy/hubby/druid make you lose the will to live?

You know it's time to weed out the bad apples in your friend list, but you just don't know how to go about it. Neenuh to the rescue. Click on the above image and use the completely scientific method I spent entirely too much time tonight perfecting to make your friend list one you can be proud of.

November 29, 2009

And then my ice-cold heart slowly began to melt...

When Seest0r and I hop on the bus for on our excursions, she enjoys playing with my iPod on the way there and back. Sometimes I'll have her listen to some music, and if she likes it I'll burn it on a CD for her. Lately, she's been filling my woefully empty calendar with important dates like Christmas, New Years and her birthday.

Yesterday, while on our way to see a ballet performance, she started fiddling with the note function and wouldn't let me see what she was writing. When she was done she got a big grin on her face and turned it so I could see.

So verklempt. So very, very verklempt was I.

November 27, 2009


When my 9th grade geometry teacher got herself with child, we had substitute teachers for a good chunk of the year while she birthed and cared for her spawn. There was the dirty, bearded man who looked like Santa and smelled of vodka, a couple of quavery-voiced ladyfolk, and a longterm guy I'll call Mr. Mullet. He sported a very greasy business/party combo and was entirely awesome.

Exhibit A: Our first order of business when we came to the unit on matrices was to watch The Matrix.

Exhibit B: One day he came across two pounds of fudge he wanted to get rid of. He announced to the class that whoever ate the entirety in the remainder of the class period would be the proud owner of 70 shiny extra credit points. The New Kid, who no one had ever heard speak a word, immediately volunteered. Throughout the next half hour or so, he methodically worked his way through those bricks. Sure enough, he choked it down and went from a C to an A. It was the stuff of legend.

He soon transferred to the city's private school and I thought I would never again lay my eyes upon the one I called Fudge.

Fast forward three years to the summer before senior year. My buddy had convinced me the time was nigh for me to "get my drink on." She led me to a houseboat in the west end of town hosted by a kid named Squirrel. I didn't know anyone there besides my friend and her boyfriend, but one of the kids looked kind of familiar. It took me a while to realize who he was, but after a plastic cup of Beefeater, straight up, I slurred, "You're the kid who ate the fudge!" And indeed he was.

Fast forward another seven years to last night. I was at my dear buddy's house enjoying a lovely Portland Orphan Thanksgiving (also known as T-Give-Sauce, according to my younger brother's Facebook status). It was a gathering of mostly Minnesotans, and several were even from my hometown. I introduced myself to a couple I hadn't seen before. I bet you can see where this is going... the dude was the kid who ate the fudge! I fudge you not! Amazing.

I'm now expecting him to make an appearance at other meaningful life events. Like my first traffic ticket. Or at the birth of my third child. Or the next time I throw up (which won't be for YEARS...)

November 23, 2009

Seen in the hood

I'm glad someone's finally working to put an end to the evil despotism of the dreaded fiery sauces of the world. My mouth thanks you.

What is more refined than having the noggins of a six-point buck, a raccoon, and a fox in your sitting room? You can get all these fauna at Flutter.

The geese at Sunlan, the lightbulb shop, are dressed in their Turkey Day finery.

The ants have all gone to their earthly graves, the fruit flies have been vanquished. But the green and silver glamour beetles are peaking this week.

"I have lost my pet serpent, Yggdrazilla, near Le Jardin de la Font Aride. He is fond of the concrete urban jungle, he is drawn to the hum of automobile traffic as he has a voracious appetite for four wheeled things, like Hummers and big diesel trucks. He has been known to chase two wheeled vehicles, but have no fear, he loves two legged creatures, in fact you might have become entranced in his gaze. Although he is friendly, please do not approach him but rather contact me at Thanks"

November 16, 2009

My New Favorite All-Purpose Joke

It is this: "Somebody must have pressed their easy button..."

This joke is endlessly adaptable for any situation. Observe:

Boyf and I had to fly home unexpectedly last Saturday to attend a funeral. Our tickets were for 5:30 in the morning and included a very short layover in Seattle. There were any number of things that could have gone wrong, including our angel friend sleeping through her 3:30 alarm and not fetching us, a massive line to check bags, a massive line at security, a delayed plane that would cause us to miss our connection, etc. But no. Everything went swimmingly. Somebody must have pressed their easy button...

Then our plane to Minneapolis got in a good half hour in advance! Somebody must have pressed their early button...

Uh oh... I'm feeling a bit airsick. Somebody must have pressed their queasy button...

AH-CHOOOO! Somebody must have pressed their sneezy button....

You get the idea. It sure beats my previous all-purpose joke: "Oh, monkeys... they're like nature's humans." I read this somewhere (sorry if it was your prose and I'm not attributing) and thought it was thoroughly hilarious. It doesn't adapt very well, however, and I find that people don't look at me as adoringly as I want them to when I bust it out apropos of nothing.

When I was in France I discovered that my humor does not translate very well. During my homestay, my French sisters would often say, "Ce n'est pas grave (It's no big deal)," when I inevitably snorted champagne through my nose onto the appetizers or tipped over a priceless Limoges vase or was so incapacitated by a bloody nose that I managed to leave my DNA on my bed linens and in a trail leading from the bedroom to the kitchen to the bathroom (true story). My response was always, "Si. C'est grave (But yes. It's very serious)" even if it was a minor infraction. They didn't get it.

My one successful overseas joke was in Israel. My travel companions and I were all eating at a lovely restaurant when we noticed our leader, Muriel, was looking a bit morose. We hatched a plan to cheer her up, and since I was the only one with a firm grasp on Hebrew it was up to me to put it into action. I flagged down the waiter and said, "Yom hellenich sameach (happy birthday)" while pointing emphatically to Muriel. "Afo sufganiot (where's the jelly donut)?" Minutes later, our dear Muriel celebrated her 29th birthday five months early.

Cake, my friends. One punchline that's universal.

October 18, 2009

My Sister by Another Mister

After an application process that took many moons, Big Brothers Big Sisters decided that I was un-scary enough to get a little buddy. It's been about a month since I've been matched, and I thought I'd tell you all about the hijinks that Seest0r and I have gotten into.

On our first playdate we drew pictures. This is a picture of the artiste, by the artiste:

Please notice how the features are tilted to the right, which indicates that she is a budding artistic genius. I also taught her to knit and she picked it up immediately. Not only that, but on our next outing-- a full week later-- she remembered exactly how to do it. Future Mensa member? Almost certainly.

Two weeks I took her bowling for her first time, and helped her get her first spare. I tell you, the smile on that girl's face could have lit a cave at the bottom of the ocean where the fish are colorless and freaky looking.

Last week I took her to see Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, and she spent a good portion of the movie asking how and why things happened. Curious like a kitty. A genius kitty.

We're going ice skating today, and I've spent the morning trying to remember the moves I learned during an ice skating class at the U in the spring semester of my junior year. I was the picture of grace and beauty.

Despite what I'm sure is entirely accurate muscle memory, I think I'm going to have to insist that Seest0r wear a helmet just in case I accidentally bring her down with me when I inevitably trip.

I'm most excited for three weeks from now, when we'll see a production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I ran into a higher-up at the theater when I went to get my tickets, and he offered to give us a backstage tour if we got there a little early. Bangarang.

If you have any awesome, low-cost ideas for a future hang out sesh for us, please leave them in the comments. Merci!

October 7, 2009

Gettin' Knitty

When the first nippy breeze fills the air, a chemical called Knitularus Obsessus fills my brain. Tis that time, my friends, when I give myself the beginnings of arthritis so I can whale on knitting projects large and small in time for the holidays.

Among the projects I've decided to commit to fiber is a blanket in the vein of the one I toiled over last year. If I hope to complete this monstrosity, along with the gloves and big-person fair isle hat I've got my eye on, I have to be militarily disciplined in my output. I've given myself an inch-a-day quota, parceled out over my bus rides to and from work, my lunch hour and before bed time. If I do not complete a row by the time my bus reaches its stop (and with 238 stitches it's not as easy a task as it seems), then I must make use of my newest skill: Knitting While Walking.

If you've mastered Knitting While Watching Movies, then Knitting While Walking isn't such a stretch. I had to do so yesterday since I was 20 stitches short of my bus quota. I garnered myself several odd looks and even one snicker (I shake my needle at you, sir!), but I neither tripped nor fell down the stairs. No, that came later in the day, when I didn't even have the needles in my hand. It's not visible yet, but I can feel the beginnings of quite the shiner on my bum.

My lunch buddy had to depart before the full hour was up yesterday. Instead of simply staring into space alone on my bench during my furious knit-purling, I acquired the skill of Knitting While Reading. I had to sit on the book's edge to keep the spine flat, crouching over it in quite the awkward manner. I laughed, I cried, I learned all about Frida Kahlo, but I persevered and I even completing two whole rows.

Next up on the list is Knitting While Elliptical Machine-ing and the holy grail: Knitting While Eating. I might require an extra pair of limbs for the latter, but I got faith.

September 27, 2009

A peaceful lunch

So there I was on a park bench on a warm autumn Friday, my turkey sandwich in one hand and the last few pages of my book in the other, contemplating how lovely it was to be able to take an hour away from work to do such things.

Ambient noise from the playground a block away began to distract me. Like a thundercloud gathering force, the thumps of several pint-sized feet galloping on the pavement drew ever closer. I looked up from a crucial scene in my book to see a gaggle of schoolchildren brandishing handmade pinwheels racing past me.

"Pinwheels for peeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaccccceeeeeeee!" they yelled as they whooshed by, seemingly about to run into oncoming traffic before making a sharp right and continuing down the other side of the block.

After the first lap some tired and others nursed broken pinwheel backbones. They clustered around my bench, where their teacher had taken up residence for the purpose of pinwheel first aid.

While waiting for some attention, or perhaps while catching his breath before another lap, a boy threatened to cut off his classmate's arm with his pinwheel. "We want peace, not cutting off arms," she admonished witheringly.

Another girl repeatedly declared, "PEACE! OUT! YO!" while violently thrusting her pinwheel in the air to punctuate each syllable.

At some unknown signal the children abandoned their activities to race back to the end of the block where they had first made their presence known, chanting, "Pinwheels for peace! Pinwheels for peace, not war!"


September 21, 2009

Scenes of Domestication

 border=This photo is entitled, "Still Life with Lamp and Half-Eaten Challah"

This weekend I decided to tackle something I've been meaning to incorporating into my skillz set for many moons: the art of breadmaking. Since it's Rosh Hashana I was feeling extra Jewful, and thus challah seemed the best choice. I busted out my Hadassah Jewish Holiday Cookbook and settled upon a recipe perfected by Peggy Samet Fine from the Hadassah chapter in Houston. Sometimes titchy things like "yield" slip by me in my excitement to go gung-ho on a recipe, and thus I missed the fact that I would be purchasing ingredients for four whole loaves.

It's a good thing the manf was out of the house when I started my yeasty journey, for all manner of unladylike utterances escaped my lips as I proceeded to get flour EVERYWHERE. My jeans and sweatshirt were coated with sticky dough. I will probably get un-inscribed in the Book of Life for the curses that flew when the 15 cups of flour weren't incorporating into the eggs, oil, vanilla, yeast, warm water and sugar (holy Moses there is so much sugar in challah) as they should.

But, when all was said and done, I ended up with two beautiful and delicious loaves of holiday spirit, as well as a huge mound of dough in my freezer awaiting my next surge of carb cravings.

 border=This photo is entitled, "Come visit me, Amanda"

My daddy dearest came to town yesterday, and brought with him my most beloved flamenco ladybug apron, a gift from a star-crossed roommate of yore. A theme party with this apron as its central element is in the works.

 border=This photo is entitled, "Who Says a Pattern on a Pattern is Too Busy?"

Last Sunday marked the start of months of football widowhood for yours truly. Instead of moping around the apartment to try to distract myself from the grunts and dull thuds emanating from el boob tube, I signed up for a fair isle knitting class at Yarnia. I learned to knit when I was a senior in high school, and my knitting sensei stayed put in my hometown whilst I ventured off to my institution of higher learning three hours away. I am thus a largely self-taught knitter, and though I'm really, really good at knitting straight things like scarves and blankets nowadays, I hadn't tried anything new since a half-assed attempt at a sock last spring. Twas time.

Fair isle is tricky because you have to knit with two or more colors simultaneously, a feat that often lends itself to the most horrendous yarn snarlys when done improperly. But my new sensei at Yarnia showed me the light and I am now well on my way to making a lovely patterned baby hat. Next up: toe-up socks, gloves and intarsia.

September 7, 2009

To whet your appetite

My dear fellow pirate Anna and honorary pirate Steph have sadly left after a whirlwind weekend of wizardry and wallumping in Portypants. We had a magnificent time gallavanting hither and thither, and Anna has plans to document it all for your hungry eyeballs with a culinary photographic tour quite soon. The above picture is regrettably all I have to contribute to such an endeavor, for the majority my pictures from the weekend seem to be of other people's kitties.

But please allow me to entice you with but a small sampling of the dishes and drinks we stuffed down our gullets:

tempura chevre and date balls with honey and sage | yam fries with lemon cayenne aioli | fleur du sel caramel macarons | jammers | pinot noir | pinot gris | lemon raw milk chevre | maple-glazed doughnuts with bacon on top | cream top biscuits with strawberry jam | white sangria | marscapone, grilled bananas and nutella on cinnamon swirl bread | nectarine and raspberry salad with raspberry compote | rosemary hot chocolate | pumpkin ale

OK fine you can see the kitties too.


August 30, 2009

When the apocalypse cometh, can I be on your team?

As you know, we have about three years and change until the apocalypse. What's that? You didn't know ? Well, there's a film that's coming out called 2012 that would be happy to tell you all the horrible things that are going to happen to us in a few years' time. Meteors will rain from the sky, New York will flood, a ship named after JFK will crash into the White House.

I think this movie is the height of irresponsibility. There are enough weirdos out there who already know about the Mayan calendar and have made reservations for their cave in sub-Saharan Africa. There is no need to inform the action-movie-going masses that the world is possibly about to end. This is just asking for looting, mass suicides and crazy bomb shelter preparations.

That said, I need to start working on my Apocalypse Plan. A friend came over a while back and asked us to play her favorite game: What Skills Can You Bring to My Apocalypse Team? I thought about it and thought about it, and I came to the conclusion that I really don't have much to offer. I'm kind of an indoors kind of girl who eschews camping, so survival skills like making a fire and putting your food somewhere a bear won't eat it and tracking wild beasts are ones I am woefully without. I can cook, sure, but only when following a recipe. And I highly doubt I'll be able to find the pine nuts and feta I so love using as ingredients when the world ends. I can knit, but again, there will be no size ten knitting needles and worsted wool at my disposal in three years' time. I can't fell trees, I'm not handy with a weapon, my arches start to hurt if I'm on my feet for too long and I NEVER REMEMBER WHAT POISON OAK LOOKS LIKE.

I've read The Road. I know how important plastic will be in the world to come to use as shoe coverings and shelter. Oh, and a shopping cart. We'll need one of those for sure. Should I start hoarding them now? Would that make me team-worthy?

The one thing I have going for me is that I'm highly confident in my fertility. I'm one of four, and my ma was one of four as well. I don't want to brag or anything, but I'm pretty sure this womb could start repopulating the earth in a pinch.

So... um... pick me? Pretty please?

August 10, 2009

Scrabble with Brother Bear

 border=Hopixie: (n.) A pixie of the whorish sort.
Entgnome: (n.) A gnome tree herder. Found in the bonsai forests of Japan and NE Asia.
Erioky: (n., adv.) Australian curse word; Belgian oyster.
Flang: (v.) Past-past-tense of "flung."
Gront: (v.) To grunt whilst grinning.
Drent: (v.) To dream whilst farting.
Fluic: (n.) (colloq.) Flulike.
Jiwtir: (n.) Highest level of management in a jewelery store.
Gadawaj: (n.) Holiday celebrating yeast in India.
Tronc: (n.) (colloq.) Trunk.
Ditali: (n.) Halibut cheeks in Denali (Mt. McKinley, Alaska).
Weeebo: (n.) Baby earwig. Common to the coastal regions of Belarus.
Sizourfy: (v.) To cut up things with ones legs.
Sheett: (n.) (colloq.) Self-explanatory.
Pabsod: (n.) Grass grown with the water content of Pabst Blue Ribbon.
Ovaly: (n.) Oval-shaped, oval-like, oval-scented.

August 5, 2009

Who's got the beat? (Hint: Not I)

Last night a coworker invited me to a hip hop class at our gym. It'll be fun, she said. You'll be great, she said. It can't be that hard, she said. ALL LIES. I'm scared, I said. PREACH.

I got there early, while a conditioning class was finishing up. The teacher was pretty hardcore, making her students alternate jumping squats, leg curls with weights in their knee pits and jumping rope. I wondered what the hip hop teacher would look like and imagined a delicate flower of a dancer with long, flowing hair. WRONG. Conditioning teacher IS the hip hop teacher. Woe.

She put on some beats for us to loosen up to. That's when I knew I was in for it. The ladies and gents around me were shaking their booties like they were in da clurrrb, whilst I did some of my patented robot moves and felt awkward. Teacher then announced that she was going to build on what everyone had learned the last two weeks with three new eight counts. "I'm a fast learner," I thought to myself. "I'll be able to pick up on this no sweat."

I caught the first three moves, which were a snap to the side with some 'tude, a punch to the right and a punch to the left. Then there was some jumping and some falling backwards and some "drive that car!" and some booty shaking and some dipping. As a lovely young man behind me pointed out, I looked a hot mess. The only part I could do with some semblance of confidence was the eight count of "walkin' it out," which entailed walking in a circle. With some 'tude.

Reader, I was so bad. It brought me back to my failed attempt to try out for cheerleading freshman year of high school. I felt like I was insulting our teacher, who looks like she's straight out of a Missy Elliot video, merely by being there.

The worst was at the end of the class, when she had half of us perform for the other half. Twice. I immigrated to the very back of the room where I prayed their eyeballs would gloss over me in favor of the overweight dude at the front who was dancing his big ol' heart out.

Actually, I lied. The worst is that when I text my buddy to commiserate about how very, very awful I was she insisted we go together next week and I agreed.

July 29, 2009

Dying of hot

It's been outrageously hot and humid in Portland for the past few days. On Monday it got up to 103. Yesterday hit 106. Today is supposed to be 107 or even a record-breaking 108. Not only do we not have air conditioning in our new apartment, we are without fans as well.

Yesterday morning I handed the manf $20 and told him to buy me something windy. He came home after a multiple-hour search to deliver the tragic news that Portland had sold out of every wind-maker. We were relegated to fanning each other with a number my little brother got me in Japan. It didn't help.

Sleeping is miserable because it only cools down to about 80 degrees. I've taken to spraying myself with a hose and dousing myself in a cold shower before bed, but it just evaporates and makes me even stickier than I was before.

To top it all off, our freezer isn't working. All of our lovely ice cream and popsicles turn to goo within hours.

I'm seriously considering sleeping at work/in the river/at a movie theater/inside a walk-in freezer tonight.

July 18, 2009

Found objects

There's something about finding things just lying around in the great outdoors and taking them home that makes me feel so resourceful, like I'm one of the Boxcar Children. And I think you'll understand completely when I say aspiring to be like Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny is one of my chief goals in life. Especially because my own siblings and I go boy, girl, girl, boy in birth order JUST LIKE THEM. Fate.

Yesterday I went to the movies to see another group of kiddies I'd very much like to emulate. Sectumsempra! Except not. More like Wingardium Leviosa. Semantics. Anyway. I snarfed way too much popcorn with melted golden topping and cherry cola and was feeling woozy from all the sodium and sugar I'd ingested. I required approximately 1 million salads to counteract the effects, stat, but in a pinch decided I could make do with the blackberry bramble in my alleyway. The bramble may have its roots in someone's yard, but the plant itself leans wantonly into the alley, making its fruit The People's Berries, I speck.

Nevertheless, I was very sureptitious as I pulled one juicy fruit after the other from its be-thorned lair. As soon as I had filled my little plastic container, I raced home with my illegal berries and admired they way they glistened in the sunshine.

I gobbled them up straightaway, and let me tell you. Blackberries never tasted so sweet. So tart. So delicious.


My Portland bosom buddy invited me to a homewares party hosted by her former coworker. The brand was Demarle, a line of French cookery that's all floppy and nonstick and stuff. I was very intrigued, especially by the mini tartlet pan and the mold that would make your baked goods look like a bear. I was close to buying their famous pan, weirdly called a "silpat" for no good reason, until I learned that it would cost about a million dollars. Plus if you're going to be baking things like meat or fish that would "throw their juices," you would need to get the special pan that costs about two million dollars.

Throw their juices? That has to be the funniest/best phrase I have ever heard coming out of a very put-together plastic surgeon wife's mouth while she conducts a live informercial, like, ever. You could use it for expressions of rage ("You'd best step off or I swear I'll throw my juices!") or joy ("I was so psyched I threw my juices!"). But I digress.

By the grace of Moses I was able to get out of there without parting with my dearly-beloved moolala. And I'm so glad I did, because look what I found lying on the sidewalk yesterday:

It's Flexipan, not Demarle, but it's still french! And floppy! I soaked it in soapy water for a good long time last night, but it still has a filmy green tint on top. What think? Should I risk self-poisoning and make some delicious blackberry muffins in this baby? I'm pretty sure that's what Jessie and Violet would do.

And now, as your reward for reading this far, I give you another found object: Mt. Hood, as viewed from Mt. Tabor at sunset:


July 11, 2009

#ouch #cantwalk #ouch #neverdoinglungesagain

I've been trying to make up from my total deviance from the Get Healthy Plan while I was in Seattle (I worked out once the whole week and ate many Things That Are Bad). This week I'm back on my Don't Eat Crap diet-- I even refused a cupcake from Cupcake Jones two days ago--and my quice-weekly workout regime.

Yesterday I decided to kick it up a notch at the gym. I've been doing mostly the same machines when I go, so I asked my personal trainer (who happens to live with me) for ideas for some moves with the free weights. He had me grasp 10-pounders whilst slowly lunging all the way across the gym floor, with my knee almost touching the ground on each dip. I could only handle four lengths of the gym before I felt like I was going to collapse.

I had already done the leg press, leg extension, calf extension and seated leg curl. My stems started feeling as they have never felt before-- as if the muscles were atrophying on the spot, as if they were disintegrating into sawdust. I usually feel a bit tender after a workout, but don't get full-on sore until two days after the fact. That I was already feeling as if I had been body slammed did not bode well.

After our nightly episode of Big Love, I told my personal trainer I didn't even want to THINK about moving. "Why are you worrying about moving?" he asked. "We have another nine and a half months until our lease is up."

"I meant off this couch. I don't think I can do it."

Sure enough, I stayed put all night, adding a backache to my list of ailments. This morning, I've been hobbling around like an old biddy with a bum hip and a bad case of the gout, grunting as the strain of walking hits each muscle group. Le ouch.

July 10, 2009

Welcome to my hood

Please join me on a tour of the delights and wonders of my new hood.

Art. I just love this little guy. He puts a smile on my face every time I walk by. A heart balloon? For me? Why thank you!


The wares of my new favorite store, which sells a mash of twee rolls of wrapping paper, vintage jewelry and wedding dresses with bird remains stuck to the bustle. It was closed by the time I stopped by so I could only take a snap through the window.

Do you need wine, chocolate, gourmet salts and flowers and nothing else? This store is for you.

Can't be a hipster enclave without a bike repair shop. It's Article 4 of the Hipster Bylaws.

Bulbs. All shapes, all sizes, all colors.


July 5, 2009

Home again, home again, jiggety jaw

I'm coming up on my year anniversary of the Great Move West, and the feeling that dear old Porty Pants (as Anna calls it) is really my home became clear during my travels in the past week.

In honor of that blessed event known as my birthday, my dear benefactress aunt and my new unk swooped into town like a battalion of angels and spoiled me with such plunder as a cast iron skillet and dutch oven, a cookbook stand and, most importantly, a set of crumpet rings. After a few days of gallavanting in the hood, we were off to Seattle to visit another dear auntie.

Before I moved here I saw Seattle and Portland as interchangeable: both were drizzly, cultured cities near the coast that in my mind's eye were overrun with apple orchards (why? I don't know). My first jaunt up to Seattle proved me wrong. There's just something about big cities with lots of tall buildings that make me uncomfortable. My favorite cities that I've spent more than a few weeks in--Portland, DC, Paris--all have a shorter skyline that makes me feel like I can breathe better or something.

See? Just too durn big fer leetle old me.

Less than a day after I returned from Seattle the manf and I took off again, this time for the Oregon Coast. We've often been to northern coastal cities Astoria and Seaside, each about an hour and a half from Portland, so this time we decided to go to Newport on the central coast. It felt a heckuva a lot like Canal Park in my hometown Duluth with its kitschy shops selling nautical wares and huge masses of fat tourists. There's even an iconic bridge.

I had very delicious crab soup and playing on the beaches was very fun. But I found myself longing for my humble little abode.

Have I even told you about my new apartment yet? Since I've been a very neglectful blogger and all-around horrible person, I think not. I blame this jewel of a place for keeping me from you. You see, when we were in the shoebox, I had nothing to do but sit in my cave and troll the Internets. There was nothing to do nearby and I lived so far off the beaten path that going to the places where there were things to do was always a chore.

Now I live mere blocks away from a brewery; a pizza pub; a store that only sells wine, flowers, chocolate and salt; a store that only sells lightbulbs; several boutiques, including one that sells refurbished wedding dresses with stuffed owls on the bustle; antique stores; cafes; music venues; a bakery; a local independent video store; and much, much more. Now people actually want to come over to hang out in my hood, and my apartment is big enough for me to return to my chief joy: entertaining.

So, a year after I first set foot on this fertile soil, I feel like I not only belong here but that I want to stick around for a good long while.

June 24, 2009

Working on my fitness

I joined a gym a few weeks ago and decided to start a self-imposed diet at the same time. My diet is called, "Don't Eat Crap" and involves lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and lean proteins. The one slice of cheese I have on my daily lunch sandwich is OK but all other cheeses are out. Olives are OK, but only seven at a time. I've been munching lots of salads from Whole Foods and carrot-beet-kale juices from the vegan restaurant down the street. As of this morning I'm seven pounds lower than I was when I started my new life plan (on Saturday the scale told me I'd lost 7.5 pounds but I think it was lying).

My plan is to keep weight-lifting until I can open a jar of pickles on my own and cardio until I could successfully hunt a wildebeast. My gym has these crazy elliptical machines that make one look as if one is bounding through a magical fairy forest in attempts to greet a unicorn.

Thus far my gym attire consists of gym shorts I got for cross country in 9th grade that are entirely too short for me and lovely t-shirts such as my bright yellow "Rappel! Ding" shirt from senior year French class or my oversize rhubarb shirt from a much-beloved college roommate.

And that's all I have to say about that.

May 25, 2009

The dessert so nice I made it twice

Although I would consider myself a semi-competent cooktress, I haven't made many forays into baking. Whether this is due to rabid fear of failure or my complacency with a good ol' pint of B & J's Oatmeal Cookie Chunk, I do not know. My repertoire consisted solely of apple crisp and that ill-fated Disaster Cake... until now.

Do you read food blogs? You should. By blogs, of course, I am only referring to the exalted Smitten Kitchen, which I discovered through my dear friend McSamalama. All other blogs pale in comparison to Deb's beautious photos, story-ful prose and down-right darn good eatin'. I've made this Moroccan Stew for a few dinner parties, and each time it enters my guests' mouths they literally shriek with deliciousness.

Deb has often tempted me with her delectable desserts, but until yesterday I was too chicken to give them a go. Dangle anything strawberry-rhubarb in front of my face, though, and I'll do anything you say. Her strawberry-rhubarb crumble was too mouth-watering to pass by.

I made a batch last night along with some Quiche Gone Wild and broiled asparagus to surprise the manf after his long day of selling snake oil at Barnes and Noble. The guy thought he hated rhubarb. You bet your bip he thought again. His verdict? "Perfect."

We got invited to a Memorial Day barbecue today. I got a little cocky, and decided to use the same recipe to make my very first pie with the extra shell I had (I'm too chicken to make my own crust just yet). Behold:

I know that if the pie fell or if the stray alley cat jumped up and snatched it, it would make for a much better tale. But that hasn't happened. So this is the end. OKBYE.

May 23, 2009

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

These geese wandered within five feet of me while I was waiting to be picked up from my Excel training at a "learning center" in Beaverton. I derived great amusement from imagining them waddling up to my instructor and honking, "You're a quack!" (He wasn't, but, you know... puns.)

The farmers market has been back in action for weeks now, but I only just made my way down there this morning. I wish I could send you a smell-o-gram from this place. Eau de Sustainability, I tell you.

I stumbled upon proof of what I've always known while at the Rose Garden this week. That could totally be my handwriting from a past life.

May 10, 2009

My first piece of crocheted art

About a month ago I went to a crochet-a-thon at the Museum of Contemporary Craft to aid in a new project by fiber artist Mandy Greer. Though I've been knitting for about six years, the only crocheting I've mastered is the chain stitch. With the help of a crochet book my ma got me for Channukah to augment what I learned at the museum, I decided to make a doily.

I thought I was following the directions correctly, but instead of a flat, circular piece of fabric, I ended up with a cone:

At first, I thought: baby hat! I don't know too many infants with cone heads, though, so that was out. Eventually, inspiration struck: bra cup. I set to work making a bridge to go between them, and attempted to make the new cup from the bottom up. Things didn't quite go as planned, and I ended up with the doily I had originally tried to make:

Whoopsies. Do you want to see how silly this looks? Of course you do.

Since the only mirror we have in our new apartment is this small one in the bathroom, I enlisted the help of my infinitely helpful and very shirtless boyfriend to further illustrate the depth of my art.

And now, a side view:


April 23, 2009

Grilled Cheese: "Cues I feel good!"

I couldn't help it. The holy grail of grilled cheeses was haunting me and I was utterly powerless to resist its siren call. So, escorted by my buddy Ryan, tonight I entered Cheese-Vana.

The Grilled Cheese Grill resides in North Portland, on Alberta. There is a kitchen trailer (where the grill magic happens) and a school bus a few steps away for diners to sit in (where the mouth magic happens). Before we even ordered, Ryan decided to get on the bus and distribute bouquets of tulips to fellow patrons-- in hopes of appeasing Cheesus, I think.

 border=(I blurred his face to protect his fabulous self from stalkers and other n'er do wells. I don't know that girl so I didn't expend the same effort on her behalf. I'm hoping she can fend for herself on the wild wild interwebs.)

Ryan decided to order what I so gushingly described to you a few days ago, that cinnamon bread/ Nutella/ marscapone/ grilled banana bliss-mobile. I went with the Kindergartner-- cheddar on wheat-- with some mushrooms tossed in for flair.

 border=Where the grill magic happens.

 border=Where the mouth magic happens.

The tables inside the bus were covered with random yearbook photos, so while we waited for our grub we played the amusing game of deciding who we wished we were. I chose her:

And finally, it was time. Here it is, my friends-- the sandwich you've been salivating over for days, complete with fun blurring effects to make it look as heavenly as it tastes:

 border=This sandwich came with a Worther's Original. As if you needed more convincing to gobble it up.

In conclusion, why the heck haven't you come out to visit me yet??

I'll leave you with a piece of prose written by a luminary of our time named Jasmine (of Ms. Lewton's class):

Grilled cheese
creamy crunchy
oh I like it oh, yes, yes.
I do I do, yummy
sweet I love it oh
yes, I do. How do
you feel? cues I
feel good.

April 19, 2009

The day I ate my weight in incremental, sample-sized portions

Portland has pockets of parking lots where food nirvana drives up and plunks down to delight all who happen to wander by. These food carts represent a United Nations of ethnicity. The food they make is so f'ing good because they make it in tiny huts and you start to gorge yourself while still outside. Food just tastes better outside, especially if you're miraculously not suffering from the hay fever that has plagued you since middle school and you can admire the flowering trees and not eye them warily. That's just the way it is and always will be, forever and ever amen.

Yesterday the local alt weekly hosted a Food Cart Festival, where you paid a nominal $5 to have access to a cornucopia of food cart flavor in the form of bite-sized samples. I was physically unable to photograph this event as I was at all times clutching at least three tiny vessels of food. The best I can do for you is a picture I took a few weeks ago of the food cart pod near my office. I made it sepia and blurry because I was playing with my photo editor and it seemed like it was the right thing to do.

Perhaps owing to the fact that this was the unofficial kickoff to the summer festival season, where beer and food jamborees occur on a nearly weekly basis, and perhaps because it was actually not drizzling with a passion for the first time in what felt like years, every hipster in the tri-county, often with their infant Baby-Bjorned to their chest, was in attendance.* Therefore, my compatriots and I had to endure epic lines at every cart after enduring the ultra-epic, 45-minute line just to enter the hallowed grounds.

I must say that despite this, and despite the protest my poor tummy made afterward, complete with punny signs and bullhorns (foreshadowing!), it was worth it. Please spare me some bandwidth so I can tell you about what I ate.

1. Clam Chowder from Soup Cycle, which isn't really a cart because they DELIVER FOOD TO YOU ON THEIR BICYCLES. That is the Portlandiest thing possibly ever.

2. A Mexican creation that I know not the name of, but I want to say was a sopapilla, from Nueva Mexico.

3. Chicken paprikash accompanied by a slice of baguette from Tabor, a Czech cart.

4. Banana-lime smoothie and a walnut chocolate piece of heaven from Moxie Rx.

5. A chocolate shake and a green, grassy shake from Sip.

I need to pause here and tell you a little something about myself. When I was a child the only thing I would eat at restaurants was grilled cheese sandwiches. This drove Ma nuts, because, seriously, why would you spend money on something you can make so easily and cheaply at home? The answer, Ma, is that no sane person who values his or her arteries would willingly put the amount of butter on a grilled cheese sandwich that a restaurant does. That's why it tastes so ridiculously manna from heaven in a restaurant and so not whilst at home. But no restaurant grilled cheese came close to preparing me for what I sampled next.

6. Three grilled cheese variations from The Grilled Cheese Grill. The first was colby on sourdough. Pretty basic, pretty delicious. The second was swiss on rye. Interesting tang; you're onto something there.

The third needs its own paragraph. OK. Please sit down. Imagine a world where there exists two slices of cinnamon bread. Now imagine marscopone, grilled bananas and Nutella filling those two slices. Now imagine that entering your mouth. That was me at approximately 6:43 p.m. on April 18, 2009.

7. A ball of goo at Garden State. Remember how blissed out I was just a paragraph ago? This experience was the exact opposite of that. My friends and I exited the indoor portion of the fest, stumbling with rapture over what we had just tasted, and stood in the line that seemed the shortest. The guy in front of us was gushing about this cart, about how he lives near it and eats from it nearly every day, and the fact that he was still standing in line to sample from it was a testament to its awesome awesomeness. After about 10 minutes we realized the line wasn't moving. After about 20 minutes I sauntered to the front of the line to take a peek at what was going on. Evidently they had run out of food and were in the process of cooking more. After about 30 minutes we finally reached the front of the line and were given wax paper bags containing a fried ball of goo. I don't know how to identify it other than it was yellow and there was a mushy pea in the middle. Eck. I'm not even going to link to them because they were such a total letdown.

Moving on, because I clearly had not gorged myself to bursting point yet.

8. Smoked salmon ice cream from Junior Ambassadors.

9. Rosemary shortbread from Lulu's Confections, also a bike delivery establishment (see above).

10. Mint tea from Cafe Velo.

11. Another banana-lime smoothie from Moxie Rx.

12. Another grassy smoothie from Sip (I was still trying to cleanse my palate from the goo ball).

After I had reached a point where my jeans were sufficiently uncomfortable, I decided to get gone. I was pretty close to requesting that somebody roll me out of the premises. Approximately four hours later, the gurgles and pops emanating from my core alerted me to the fact that I had just partaken in some dang good eatin'.

* God bless run-on sentences you are my friend I love you OK bye.

April 16, 2009

Pa waxes poetic as Passover wanes

My dear old dad sent me this poem today and I loved it so much I just had to share it. Enjoy.

Goodbye Matzah For Another Year

Goodbye matzah for another year.

Goodbye to your frail, cracking, and yeastless skin.

For eight days, we tried to smother your barren being with butter, honey, smoked oysters or fried with eggs and covered with maple syrup.

And yet, beneath each bite, the sandy desert of our hurried escape.

Goodbye matzah for another year.

You're a frisbie that wouldn't fly, a kite with no string, a flag of our impoverished disposition.

You remind me of my father's pale legs, a widow's blank face, the empty pages of a bank book.

Goodbye matzah for another year.

We find your crumbs everywhere, in shirt pockets, in woven carpet, underneath tables.

You're an embarassment like dandruff.

Go away matzah, good riddance, for another year.

I can't bear to eat or see you.

Stay away.

I'll miss you until I see you again.

--Jim Perlman, (c) 2009

April 13, 2009

I am so down with God right now

This week has been the religious equivalent of (insert non-offensive metaphor equating grandiosity here... I rejected inappropriate ones related to guns and sports). What with the Egyptians finally freeing the Jews from hundreds of years of oppression and Jesus rising from his tomb, there was a whole lot of God going on.

Passover commenced on Wednesday at sundown, and the manf and I found ourselves in the home of a random family for seder. How we got there is kind of a long story; suffice it to say I'm on a listserv for tribelings and the lady who runs it hooked me up. It was a perfectly lovely evening, albeit a bit on the long side. Get this-- they actually continued the seder post-feast. That is unheard of in all my years of seder-ing. In my family we usually rush through the first part so we can stuff our gobs full of lamb and matzah ball soup. Then we collapse on the couch, unable to move from fullness, and joke about continuing the service. We then promptly eat another maccaroon or two and forget all about it.

But these people were hardcore. We got there at around seven and didn't leave till midnight. I was so redeemed I felt like a coupon.

Two nights later I was somewhere I rarely am on Friday nights: temple. I went by my all by myself. I don't really have anything else to say about it; I just thought it should be documented.

To pay the manf back for sitting through five hours of kvetching that's been passed down generation to generation, I agreed to go to an Easter service with him. Make that an Easter mass. At the cathedral downtown. I'd gone to but a handful of church services in my lifetime so I was very nervous about doing something wrong, but I had the perfect Easter dress so I figured it'd be OK.

We got there a bit late and ended up having to stand along the wall, which ended up being a blessing because I didn't have to worry about about kneeling/standing/sitting at the wrong times, nor did I have to be awkward when everyone else got up to take communion. There was quite lovely music and some adorable tots to captivate me. One of them liked thrusting her index fingers in the air and shouting, "HA-le-lu-YAH!"


April 7, 2009

Trying to remain home-ful

The manf and I moved into a shoebox last July when we arrived in Portland. I had been searching for pads months ahead of time in a method that had become a habit for me: all of my previous apartments nationwide save the first had been selected sight unseen via that vile man Craig and his list. And it worked out for me every time. Not.

This one isn't so bad, to be completely honest. It's totally furnished down to the colander, it's by a major highway and lots of big transit stops and it's within walking distance of two grocery stores and Mt. Hood. It's just wee. And kind of on the pricey side for its wee-ness. We only planned to be here for a month, two tops, but when the job market only graced the two of us with one 20-hour-a-week gig we kind of got stuck. See, when we move we'll have to go out and buy everything down to the colander, and that's a whole lot of things 20 hours a week ain't gonna buy you.

A couple of weeks ago, though, the universe suddenly aligned. I got bumped up to 36 hours a week. My angelic coworker offered to sell me a whole slew of furniture, including a bed and a lovely pink pullout couch, for $150. The manf got a part-time gig slanging books and he was also accepted by a temp agency. I immediately rolled out Operation: Find and Secure Chez Neenuh (and Manf) 2.0.

After crawling back to Craig and enduring one misfire (the apartment was great but it was in a neighboorhood where all the storefronts had 80s signage that had faded to that depressing blue color), I found it: The Apartment of Dreams. Large, lots of kitchen counterspace, a soaking tub, steps away from my favorite SE Portland haunts... sigh, it was beyond. We told the landlord we were in lurve and put our current landlord on notice. Two days later, we got the devastating news that the apartment had gone to some tricksy hobbit who had arrived but 10 minutes before we had.

Since then, even after securing another month of lead time from the landlord, I've been a bit overwhelmed. The Apartment of Dreams set the bar so high that I fear I may not ever be apartmentally satisfied. A dear friend named Katherine-Kat turned me on to one tool that is helping me get through this mo' betta' than I would have otherwise. It's called Pad Mapper ( and it uses Google Maps to plot out where Craigslist apartments are located. Since we want to move to a very specific 'hood this has been a godsend.

So here's hoping for an apartment that is more like a palace, with an abundance of amenities and without a price to match.

March 27, 2009

How to wear your nightshirt to work

1. Have the teacher of a week-long software training you're attending tell you that Friday's going to be a lot more casual and invite you to even wear pajamas if you want.

2. Joke with your coworker that it'd be hilarious if you came wearing a nightshirt.

3. Make the coworker triple dog dare you to actually wear one the next day because you can't refuse a dare (and no one can refuse a triple dog dare (obviously)).

4. Settle upon this number:
 border=(In case you can't see, the nightshirt is festooned with kitties, poodles, Eiffel Towers and the phrase "Oh, Mon Amour!)

5. On Friday morning, reconsider following through.

6. Remember you've been triple dog dared.

7. Add a belt, sweater, tights, boots and any other accessories that may lead passers-by to believe that the nightshirt is actually a dress.

8. Leave the house looking like this:
9. Wear your sunglasses on the train in case anyone stares at you so you don't have to meet eyes.

10. Wonder why no one's staring at you.

11. Remember that it's Portland.

12. Go to training session.

13. At the end of the session, inform the teacher that you took her up on her pajama offer. Become amused that she had thought it was just a really cute dress. Mission accomplished.

March 26, 2009

A peek into my nightttime brain

I had such a weird series of dreams last night. I would usually post those to my dream blog, but in recognition of my TP blog delinquency I'm going to post them here.

My mom revealed to me that I had been adopted. I was shocked to learn this, as all four of us kids had been told repeatedly that we were accidents. My mom informed me that, in fact, my older brother and younger brother and sister had definitely not been planned, but after Big Brother's birth they had decided they wanted a little girl to complete their nuclear family. So they adopted me. I was furious; how could she have let me lie on all my medical family history forms I had filled out? How could she have let me believe that I was at risk for developing the cancer my brother had suffered?

I asked my mom if she had contact information for my birth mother and if she'd want to hear from me. She gave me Birth Mom's email address and showed me some pictures of her. She looked suspiciously like a woman in my real-life software training class that I'm going to all this week. I shot Birth Mom an email asking if she wanted to meet up and she responded emphatically that she would love to.

I met her at a VFW church, I believe. She was heavily made-up and wearing a ridiculous hat festooned with feathers. When I got there she was embracing Sarah Palin and telling her how much she loved and admired her. My mom was a neocon?? She didn't have time to talk to me-- the church service was about to start-- but introduced me to my birth father. He looked like an overweight frat boy with graying hair. I tried to interview him about my new family, but he was extremely hostile to me, perhaps because I told him I had been raised Jewish. His own father showed up and I tearfully told him that I was his granddaughter.

I had a new poem that I wanted to read at a Portland open mic. I wandered into one I go to every Thursday, but it was a Wednesday and the crowd was sparse. A group of people beckoned me by name. I asked them how they knew who I was and they said they were huge fans of my boyfriend's. They inquired if he was coming that night because they wanted to give him $500. I said he was elsewhere.

I spotted a former coworker at a newspaper I used to work at. She told me that we had been two of five women who had ever worked there. She had just been laid off and she suspected it was due to her gender. We had left on not-so-great terms, so I tried to assure her that I really did like her.

March 8, 2009

Disaster Cake

I decided to make my first cake today. It was to be an orange (the flavor, not the color), two-layer masterpiece with a meringue topping and strawberry whipped cream frosting.

Things started to go wrong pretty early on when I attempted to separate eggs for the meringue and the yolk kept breaking. I had a mini meltdown when I couldn't find my beaters. We've started watching Deadwood, so you better believe I was cussing up a storm Old West-style and calling my missing tools all sorts of unsavory similes for sex acts. Once found, they proved incapable of beating the meringue into the "stiff, white peaks" the recipe called for. More swearing ensued. After nearly going deaf from the blender noise I decided the gooey glops they were making would have to do.

Then I decided to put my oven racks one rung away from each other. Halfway into the baking process, this started to happen:

The meringue expanded so much that it stuck to both the rack and the cake pan above it. I tried to gently unstick it and to jiggle the rack loose, and the only thing both efforts got me was multiple burns.

After much maneuvering, I managed to flop my pathetic excuses for gateau onto a cooling rack. This is what they looked like:

Mind you, I was also planning on making a turkey for tonight's meal. The pressure to get everything ship-shape before I had to babysit/baste the bird for the next four hours made me swear like a sailor.

I figured I could hide the ugly under a layer of the whipped cream, and stack the less-offensive layer on top, like so:

Not so bad, right? Next I just needed to cover the exterior in frosting to make it all pretty-like. I channeled Duff from the Food Network's Ace of Cakes, and all my frosting efforts gained me was this:

It appears as if I just took fistfuls of whipped cream and lobbed them in the cake's general direction, but I was actually using a spatula to carefully transfer the frosting from the bowl to my masterpiece. This picture proves why I'm a better at thinking than at doing anything that requires motor skills.

But fret not my pets. I wasn't done with the little guy quite yet.

Behold: this is how I saved my boyfriend's birthday: