Dead Relatives Tour 2017: snowball bush

The snowball bush didn’t do so well during the hard winter, it’s being propped up here and there. My grandmother loved snowballs, and when it’s in bloom and also Memorial Day, she gets a bunch on her gravestone.

We made the tour as usual this year, despite my Aunt Pat being under the weather.  Basil and Basiliki and George and Helen were visited, and then Matt met up with us at Verde Cocina for a delicious lunch.

XMas Eve Eve

We celebrated Xmas Eve Eve early this year.  Normally, we celebrate on 12/23 (the Eve of Christmas Eve) but moving it up allowed us to have more things to chat about.  When we have three days in a row of hanging out with the fam, we’ve exhausted all conversation.

We celebrated with the traditional soups and bread.  And Mom brought along this fun decorating kit purchased at Trader Joe’s.

I made these white chocolate peppermint covered brownies for dessert, which were delicious.

Our decorated sweaters.They were great fun.  Good choice, mom!

Dead Relatives Tour 2016

For some reason it’s taken me a long time to notice this carved piece of art. It’s kind of 60’s cool, in keeping with the decor.  That’s a far-out Jesus.IMG_5445

Uncle Tom is still resting in peace.  I missed taking a picture of the Great-great grandparents grave.IMG_5446

At the next cemetery, I apparently had my camera set to “poster” again.  This is Aunt Pat getting started.IMG_5448

And the finished product.IMG_5449

Then we ate Chinese food.

Easter 2016, plus Hilda

I was tasked with the cake making, so I made Vintage Cakes‘s Daffodil Cake.  It’s a marbled chiffon/angel food cake with lime zest and a lime glaze.IMG_5148

My “Easter bunny” gift this year was asparagus. IMG_5149

A friend posted a retrospective of Hilda illustrations  (article also here) on Facebook and I excitedly told her about the the one that had been hanging in my grandparents’-now-aunt’s house since before I was born.  And here it is!  I’ve always loved this illustration.  And in the second link above, there is a different version of this with a washcloth over her nipples.  I’d always wondered where her nipples had gotten to.IMG_5150

Back to Easter.  The table is full of delicious treats.


And we had a good variety of things for dinner too! IMG_5152

Day of Driving, Eight Eposodes of Serial and Ever Closer to our Passport Goal.

So we’ve got this rain thing happening in my part of Oregon, you might have heard.  And we do things in the rain, because if you don’t do things in the rain, you don’t get to do much for nine months of the year.  But man, was it a miserable spring day when we set out on our journey.  The kind with dark skies and pouring rain and everything just sopping wet.  The kind of day where you can be sitting warm and dry in a car and still feel chilly.

Our aim was to drive to Lincoln City, get our passport stamp there, then head up 101 to Gearheart and grab our stamps there, then head home on 26.  We brought along episodes of Season 1 of the Serial Podcast to keep us company.

This is after the rain had lightened up. I wanted to grab a picture when it looked really terrible, but I was busy driving.IMG_5117

One nice things about rainy days, you get some great rainbows.  I saw two full rainbows and another partial. IMG_5118

Our first destination.  McMenamins Lighthouse Brewpub is another strip mall McMenamins, this one located in Lincoln City. IMG_5119

Unlike most restaurants, this one had a photo hunt.  It wasn’t too hard though. IMG_5120

In fact, it was to the right of the clue. Here, Matt poses with the picture. IMG_5121

We completed that passport goal.  Aside from driving to Lincoln City, this was the easiest one so far, requiring only one stamp. IMG_5122

Matt chose the crab fondue appetizer.IMG_5123

I went with the bowl of clam chowder.  And I got two bags of oyster crackers!IMG_5124

Though it was a strip mall McMenamins, I liked how the second floor made me feel like I was tucked away in a crow’s nest.   IMG_5125

Our weather improved a ton and we stopped at the Tillamook Cheese Factory, where I bought my traditional bag of squeaky cheese.  The factory was producing 40 pound blocks of cheese.IMG_5126

This is a terrible picture, information-wise, as well as compositionally. IMG_5127

We stopped at the viewpoint at Tillamook Bay.  There was a lot of wind going on.IMG_5128

Our next stop was a quick hike to Short Sands beach in Oswald West State Park.  The waves were crashing like mad.IMG_5129

Matt and I had visited this summer, when the tide was out and there was a good amount of sand.  This time, the tide was in and we discovered just how short the sand at Short Sands Beach can be.  The wind was intense–it pushed us off the beach when we turned to go.IMG_5130

We stopped at Gearheart Hotel to get our stamps and prizes.  This was the answer to the photo clue.  Unique to McMenamins hotels, this location had interperative text on nearly every photo.  This made finding the correct photo a challenge.  Luckily for me, a guy in the Pot Bunker Bar told me where it was. IMG_5131

Matt and Linda pose outside the hotel. IMG_5132

Though Matt could have gotten a second leather drink cosy, he opted for the pint glass and pin, as did I.IMG_5133

Forktown Food Tour: Alphabet District and the Pearl

Matt’s mom Linda is visiting and she bought us tickets for another fabulous Forktown Food Tour.

Our first stop was the Picnic House.IMG_5106

Here’s the food plan for the day.  Doesn’t it sound fabulous?


At Picnic House we had a great beet salad as well as a very good sample of wine.  I loved the beet/panko crumb topping to the salad.  They take beet juice and mix it with panko, then roast it.  Very good.


I also learned that the Picnic House was the entrance to the original Heathman Hotel.  When the owners found what was behind the drywall, they revamped their restaurant concept and their goal is to bring the picnic indoors.  Thus, they have a lot of moss in their decor.  They also use old lithograph plates, which are fun to look at.IMG_5109

Here you can see the original tile floor and the grand staircase. I’d eaten here before, and enjoyed it, so it was even more fun to get the story behind the restaurant’s origin.IMG_5110

Our next stop was the Dump Truck, so we could sample some dumplings.  We also learned about Portland food cart culture.  The guy in the picture was not part of our tour, but was super excited to show off the Dump Truck’s dumplings to his friends.


Here is Mr. Ma’s Special (pork dumpling) and the Down to Earth (the vegan selection).  They were both quite good, and I’m not a huge fan of dumplings.IMG_5112

Our next stop was Verde Cocina, which has a location near Matt’s work and so he eats there often.  He really enjoys their specials.  We had enchilada with mole sauce, guacamole and vegetables, plus a margarita, all of which were delightful.  And I don’t usually drink margaritas.IMG_5113

Next was Lardo, another of my favorites.  We were treated to a pork meatball banh mi and Lardo fries.  Lardo started as a food cart and became a brick and mortar establishment.  You can also (and I have) eat at Grassa, which is the handcrafted pasta establishment.


Next was Cacao, where we sampled two different single origin chocolates as well as Cacao’s famous drinking chocolate.  Which was amazing.  So amazing that at least one person from almost every group on the tour purchased drinking chocolate to take home.IMG_5115

Our last stop was Petunia’s Pie and Pastries where we sampled a marionberry bar as well as a salted caramel bar.  All items sold at Petunia’s are gluten-free and vegan.IMG_5116

It was a great food tour.  Thanks Linda!

Cupcakes and frosting roses for mom’s birthday.

My mom wanted almond-flavored cupcakes for her birthday, and thus I made them.  I have tidied my way to owning just one muffin tin, so I only made 12 cupcakes.*   So I made a small cake with the rest.  And then got carried away with the frosting part.  Those are the first frosting roses I’ve made since I took the cake decorating class when I was 14 or something.**  My grandmother could make frosting roses.  She was a cake decorator before she got married.  I used her flower nails, which are the base where you build the rose.  Hers are made of wood, not metal or plastic like the ones in the tutorials.  This was also fun, using tools that my grandmother had used.IMG_5039

Overall, the frosting was great.  The cake was a little dense, probably because I had trouble understanding done-ness.

*Plus, what was I going to do with 24 cupcakes? The new workplace really doesn’t eat sugar. Three boxes of Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies stayed on the table unopened for two weeks.  And even then, they weren’t eaten, they were eventually moved to snacks drawer.
**More evidence that I’ve always been a middle-aged woman at heart.

Williams Ave and just one picture from our food tour.

Matt, his mother Linda and I are on our way to a Forktown Food Tour of N. Mississippi Street.  I wanted to update you on the ch-ch-ch-changes on N. Williams Avenue first.  This sign was photographed in January.

Across the street, this building has undergone a huge transformation.  I even have compare/contrast photos for you.  Now:

Here’s what it looked like on 1/28:

And here’s just one picture from our food tour.  That is a huge shelf of bitters.  Read more about it here.