Anniversary dinner at Navarre

It’s our seventeenth anniversary and to celebrate, we had a delicious meal at Navarre. The restaurant was deserted, as it was a glorious warm spring day and everyone else was probably hiking or some other outdoorsy Portland thing.

Due to the full staff and the lack of other customers, our food came fast. While we ate dinner we traded off asking questions of our favorite memories. Examples: favorite vacation we’ve taken/ favorite wedding we’ve attended/ favorite thing about our house, etc. It turned out to be a pretty fun game.

We forgot to take a picture in the restaurant, so here we are by the car.

Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom is filming at our house.

I don’t really mind spiders setting up shop in our house. (Though I don’t love the little black speckles that appear where they do set up shop.) I often wonder what they find to eat when inside. There are a few bugs, but not really that many.

This spider completely lucked out. And this caterpillar did not.

There was a long, grisly process of sucking the juices. You can see that juices were spilled. As the spider ate, it’s body got rounder and rounder.

It was very gross and also fascinating. Reporting from the future, I can tell you that soon after this large meal, an egg sac appeared. As of June, it’s still there. I keep meaning to put it outside before the baby spiders emerge. We shall see if I do.

Kissing in the D A R K, D A R K, D A R K darkdarkdark

So many things have been done to support me having a better sleep experience. Today’s thing: a room darkening shade.

Here we have the blurry before picture. The curtains didn’t really do much to block the light and this is especially a problem in June and July because the sun starts to come up before 4:30 am.

Here is the blurry “after” picture. It’s still quite light outside, but that room-darkening shad is blocking that light!

Here’s hoping it will help improve the sleep patterns.

Over 10 years of living with my stove and I finally discover…

…holy crap, the top lifts up for easy cleaning!

I’ve been trying to clean that drip pan area from the top through the burner holes the entire time. This is much better!

This all came about because both large elements gave up the ghost and I bought four new ones, plus new drip pans. In doing a thorough scrub, I happened to lift the stovetop up and to my surprise, it moved!

Here’s to new features on old appliances.

The Orange Door’s newest appliance

I’ve owned a stovetop pressure cooker before and found it to be an appliance that was okay to use. It didn’t live up to its promises (so fast!) but did prepare food slightly faster than the conventional stovetop method. I think my stovetop pressure cooker broke, or I wandered away from it and donated it.

However, I was intrigued by the Instant Pot because it has both the pressure cooking attributes and a slow cooker function. I hadn’t replaced my slow cooker when it broke and I did, from time to time, wish I had another one.

The price was prohibitive, and I’ve been biding my time, figuring eventually someone would have theirs up for sale for cheap because it didn’t quite fit into their cooking routine. However, this weekend Fred Meyer put their 6-quart jobber on sale for $79.99 plus a $10 FM gift card and I snapped it up. It actually rang up even cheaper than that ($59.99) which I reluctantly told the cashier. She shrugged, and let me have it for the lower price.

I’ve had this for two weeks now and can report that I think this will be a permanent and well-used part of my cooking tools. Here’s the reason why: it’s a countertop appliance. Most of my cooking is done in one or two long sessions on the weekend. This means that sometimes space on the burners is at a premium. Being a countertop appliance, I can set something up, program the timer, walk away, and continue doing four other things until the Instant Pot cooking cycle is over. With a stovetop pressure cooker, not only did I lose a burner, but also I had to do a good amount of futzing with the burner setting to maintain pressure.

I love also that I can sauté in the Instant Pot. With my slow cooker, I would have to sauté in a pan and transfer the food to the slow cooker. Otherwise everything came out with the same mushy long-cooked flavor that I didn’t enjoy.

I haven’t yet used the slow cooker function, so I have no report on that, but Steam, Rice, Soup and the pressure cooking functions have worked very well for me. In fact, on Saturday I used the Instant Pot six times, making brown rice, white rice, black beans, red beans, chicken and lentil soup, and Indian butter chicken.

First-time users of pressure cookers might find the time savings to be negligible. You have to let the unit come to pressure, which takes time, and then it cooks at pressure, and then while you can quick release, for some things you have to let the pressure cooker come down naturally from full pressure, and by that time, you could have just done it on the regular stove.

But I was aware I wouldn’t win much time. And unaware of how freeing the Instant Pot would be.

The Portland Streetcar Scavenger Hunt

The Portland Streetcar put on a scavenger hunt and we participated. There were clues (that rhymed!) and they led us to different spots along the Portland Streetcar line. When we found them, we took a picture, posted it on Instagram and received the next clue. Here are all the places we went. Of note: I learned that I have no selfie skills. None. I’m usually laughing in these photos due to my sub-par skills. I take self portraits all the time with my camera, but it’s much easier to do than using a phone.

We started at the Spirit of 77, where we checked in and got a brochure with all the clues. This was handy as our last few posts got lost in the shuffle and we didn’t get our clues via Instagram.

Also, it was the rare summer rainy day! Here we are just outside our first destination The clue “Working out this clue/Gave us quite a fit/Mostly because/Nothing rhymes with it.”  Matt knew it was “Orange something,” and a bit of googling showed us the location.

“For this basilisk vessel/Look above, not below/It’s hanging in a place where/You attend a conference or a show.”  This one was tough. We had to figure out with basilisk meant (lizard). I guessed the location was the Convention Center and downloaded a brochure of public art that alerted me to the dragon boat. Then it was a matter of walking there. Matt wishes to point out that a dragon isn’t a lizard and thus, this was a sub-par clue.

“Dame says get your fun on/and be witty!/Be the “i” in the sign of / “__ __ __  __ __ __ __”  We had to ask for a clue for this one. Luckily Instagram direct messenger made it easy. “Damian Lillard” was the clue and that meant that it was something over at the Rose Garden. I took a picture of Matt by this fountain because I’ve always liked this fountain. To solve the clue we took our picture in front of a clothing store that wasn’t open and it was pronounced good enough. Apparently there was a big “Rip City” sign out front and you could take a picture with yourself as the I. However, the sign wasn’t out on this particular day, much to the organizers annoyance.

“Be it dark, white, or milk/Design your own, smooth as silk.” Googling told us there were two options of chocolate stores, one on the west side of the river and one on the east side, where we were.  I DM’d to see if we should cross the river yet, and the answer was that it wasn’t quite time yet. So Creo Chocolate it was.

We both got chocolate drinks as the rain had gone away and it had become a sunny day. They were chocolate, milk and club soda, I found mine funny tasting (I don’t love bubbly water, so I’m not sure why I ordered it) but very refreshing.

As we had done nothing but walk thus far, we had planned to take the streetcar across the bridge and into the Pearl. But the next car was not coming for 18 minutes and so we walked some more. I groused about it, but we did see some fun things like a group of guys playing around on the electric scooters.

From the Broadway Bridge. West side of the river:

East side of the river.

Union Station always looks so pretty.

Some graffiti 

“Head to the Pearl for your/Next treat/”Eat it! Don’t Bake it”/This dessert is sweet!”  We discussed what kind of dessert place they might be talking about, but I remembered the Cookie Dough Cafe, where you can buy cookie dough to eat. “That’s right by my work!” I said, happy to have solved the clue. “We can stop by and use the bathrooms. And so we did.

We were told to go inside on this one and were rewarded with some cookie dough to go. Thanks Cookie Dough Cafe!

“This place is also/Swell, nifty, groovy, and cool/Find it and take a photo inside the ‘Better Takes Action’ tool.”  While Matt stood in line for our cookie dough prize, I googled “better takes action” and was told about the shoe company Keen’s campaign. We headed down the street to Keen for this photo.

Keen had benches outside, so we rested while we worked out the next clue. Across the street Filson (of the overpriced flannel fame) was doing something with chainsaws.

“This awning is great/for a night or a bite/Find the sculpture inside/Of birds taking flight”  We knew it had to be a hotel with a restaurant, but there are many, many hotels in that area. Matt googled “awning hotel portland” and it came back with Canopy which is a new hotel by Hilton. In fact, I have chronicled the block after the previous building was taken down, but before they had made much progress building it.

In other news, though I walk past this hotel regularly, I had never noticed this grand sculpture of the swifts!

“Public art in a park sure is neat/These make streetcar poles more/discrete.”  Matt knew exactly what the clue was talking about. I had never noticed them, even though the bank where I deposit work checks is right across the street from these totem poles/streetcar pole camouflage.

People who spend time downtown know the signs of something being filmed nearby. RV, Penske rental truck, No Parking signs. Somewhere in the vicinity filming is happening.  Strangely, they were spread out over three or four blocks.  It appeared to be some sort of athletic gear ad.

We found our final place, the Tea Bar, and headed for the last clue, “You’re done!/Come celebrate and say YAY/At the brick home of/The original IPA!” That was Bridgeport Brewing.  Matt got a burger and I got a hummus plate while we waited to hear the results of the raffle.

And Matt won!  A basketball signed by last year’s Blazers. Thanks, Portland Streetcar!

On the way to take the streetcar back to the starting point we had a very rare summer downpour.  That was fun!

Finally, we use our free streetcar fare!

This was a very fun way to spend the afternoon. Thanks, Portland Streetcar!

OPB via the TV

The addition of our too-large flat screen TV at the Orange Door has changed the way I listen to NPR. Now I listen via the TV, as station 10.4 plays OPB radio. 

To my surprise, while the radio is playing I’m treated to a slideshow of Oregon landscapes.  These landscapes change with the seasons so in winter, I’m treated to snowy vistas and in spring meadows of wildflowers.  It’s a fun bonus, and makes up for the fact that the feed shorts out every time a Max train or large truck goes by the house.

I need a better antenna.