My Weekend In Pictures

Here’s my weekend in a nutshell.  It was a lovely couple of days in Portland and I reached a milestone this weekend – first 20 mile run is complete!

photo credit: Tal Bright via photopin cc

photo credit: Tal Bright via photopin cc

20 miles, you all!  Woot!

I celebrated with a peaceful and delicious hour at one of my favorite coffee shops.

Good book.  Delicious scone.  Ultra satisfying cup of coffee.

Good book. Delicious scone. Ultra satisfying cup of coffee.

Later, I went looking for work shoes and found these instead.

mizunos - edited

For $45!! These are my favorite Mizunos which normally run over $100.  It was the deal of a century.

I cooked up an exciting dinner (those pictures will come later in the week) and spent an hour with The Doctor.

Sunday was brunch out with my favorite people and seeing life starting to make itself known in my first apartment container garden.

plants - edited

Not too shabby.

My Weekend In Pictures

My new flex schedule at work provides me with three day weekends twice a month.  I’m loving the extra time and here’s some evidence to prove it!

A lovely little tea service.  Followed by a delicious cucumber sandwich.

Working fast to get caught up with my fellow knit-a-longers on the Holla Back Tank.

Time spent in the kitchen for blueberry jam and plum muffins (recipes to be posted soon).

A trip to the Farmer’s Market.

And an evening chopping veggies for Samosa Wraps.

Plus, a great long run and ordering yarn for another knit-a-long (more on that to come)!

A Perfect Saturday Morning Treat?

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There are so many foods that I once thought I hated and have since been proven wrong about.  Not having been exposed to a wide variety of foods when I was young, I just wrote off most unfamiliar items as ‘not for me’.  But, I’ve been happily proven wrong over the last few years.  The list of surprisingly enjoyable foods includes a great many vegetables (such as cauliflower – one of my absolute favorite veggies), but some have been much more common.

Such as jam.  Yes, jam.  Delicious, delicious jam.

For 31 years of my life, I thought I hated it.  I think the reality is that I’d never really had it before.  I’d had jelly (which as it turns out IS actually something that makes me shudder) and just assumed jelly and jam were one and the same.  Turns out this is not true AT ALL.  And hurrah for that!

I have been sampling jams and preserves of late and am finding them to be such a satisfying and delightful sweet treat – such a great addition to an english muffin or my much revered scones.  What is so great about jam, I think, is that the sweetness (if made well) is primarily natural tasting and awakening to the senses. The unnaturalness of so many jellies is a big part of what steered me away from jam for so long. The jelly that you find lining grocery store shelves and slapped on top of peanut butter is either too overloaded with sugar or too crammed full of artificial sweeteners.  That is not appealing to me at all, but jam is a different story.  Well made, all-natural jam has pushed itself boldly into my little food world.

I just bookmarked a strawberry-rhubarb jam recipe that I intend to make next week with fruit from my CSA box (I’ll tell you about that another time), but for now, for this past weekend, I had the delectable snack you see above.

This delightfully crumbly, slightly sweet biscuit was sliced in two and filled with a healthy dollop of strawberry jam.  This biscuit and this jam MADE my Saturday morning.  I ate it slowly, in small bites so that I could savor it’s tastiness.  I washed my bites down with two cups of coffee from my favorite roaster (I’m looking at you, Stumptown) while alternately reading a book and people watching from the café window seat that I was fortunate enough to snag on a busy weekend morning.

It is moments like that one that I love to start my weekends with.  Now that the weekend is over and Monday is here, I wanted to relive the memory of it and start my week off with that feeling of contentment, and maybe share even just a little bit of that contentment with you, too.

Happy Monday.  Now go eat some jam.

Here Is To Long Weekends and Letting the Creative Juices Flow!

I wish every weekend was three days long.

I know, I know – I’m sure pretty much all of you wish that, too.  I do realize that I am not alone here.  But I must confess that I have a problem – a serious problem.  You see, I’m a bit of a relentless, obsessive task master for myself and on any given weekend I will likely have created so many pseudo-important jobs for myself to complete that I have little time to relax (something I’m bad at by nature) and I end up harried and frazzled by the time Sunday night rolls around.  When a three day weekend rolls around, however, something almost magical happens.  That extra day gives me time to do all the stuff that I feel I need to, plus have some frivolous fun time, too.  This long weekend has been no exception.  I’ve been busy, but I am pleased to report I’ve done some pretty fantastic and relaxing creating.

I continue to surprise myself with how much I enjoy creating things.  Until recent months, I never considered myself to be a creative person.  In fact, I thought of myself as quite the opposite.  If asked to describe myself, I likely would have included terms such as left-brained, analytical, and generally unimaginative.  For so long I associated creativity with the likes of high school art class – painting, drawing, chalk, and magazine cut-out collages.  (By the way, I was REALLY bad in high school art class.)  This belief about what constitutes creativity was one of the few ways in which I was so very close-minded.  Happily, I have recently discovered that creativity emerges in a multitude of ways – many of them having nothing to do with a sketchpad or easel.  For me creativity has been manifesting in baked goods, knitting (of course), sewing, liqueur-making (yum), and bath scrub (yes, bath scrub).  Here’s what I’ve been up to:

1)      Crafting

Who knew I would ever be a modern crafter?!  But, I am – proudly.   There is, of course, my knitting.  I am currently starting on holiday gifts (I know it’s early, but I’m a planner) and I hope to get my TARDIS shawl cast-on tonight.  I’ve been positively itching to get that shawl on my needles.  Allons-y! (Any Doctor Who fans out there??)

ImageIn addition to knitting, last weekend I took my first sewing class and I must say that it was amazing.  Honestly sitting in front of a sewing machine was a bit intimidating, but completing my first (albeit very simple) sewing project was so exhilarating.  I have successfully created a small, but functional drawstring pouch.  I have no idea what said pouch will hold, but it will certainly hold something.  Spurred on by my new found inner-seamstress, I have promptly purchased some fabric to go back and sew up my second project (more on that another time.)

I am already trying to calculate how long it will take me to save up for a Bernina.

2)      Baking

This weekend I made this marbled banana bread.  It came out quite beautifully and very tasty.  It also happens to be a great option for a fairly healthy bread/loaf, and, its vegan.  I am not actually vegan, but I have found that I quite enjoy vegan baked goods.  In general, they strike a nice balance between indulgent and healthy.  Between sweet and sugar-overload.  In my neighborhood, I have become quite smitten with vegan pastries from Sweatpea Baking Company.  I am pleased to learn that I, too, can create a delicious vegan snack cake in my kitchen.  This banana bread totally fits the bill.  Whole wheat flour, cocoa powder, ripe bananas and brown sugar (my favorite of all sugars) combine here to make a satisfying and non-sugar coma inducing treat.

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3)      Making Liqueur

I am very fond of rhubarb.  I am also very fond of a tasty cocktail.  Enter rhubarb liqueur.  When I came across a recipe for making a simple rhubarb liqueur at home (with vodka, a homemade simple syrup, and Grand Marnier as the other components) I knew I needed to give it a try.  Now I haven’t been able to try this yet, as it takes 2-3 weeks to infuse, but I am anticipating shaking up a refreshing drink on a warm summer day.  Maybe a rhubarb-flavored gin fizz?  Or a rhubarb mimosa?  So many possibilities.   I’ll let you know.

4)      Shower Scrub

Homemade exfoliating bath scrub that leaves my skin super soft and smelling just as I choose?  I will have that, please!

I picked up Weekend Handmade by Kelli Wilkinson from the library a couple of weeks ago.  This book is full of diverse, modern, useful projects that can be completed quickly and (generally) on a budget.  Several of the projects have caught my attention, but my first to tackle was making my own shower scrub.  I am a sucker for a great smelling bath/shower/body products, but my budget rarely permits me to indulge in the ones I really enjoy.  I find that so many of the more affordable ones smell too factory-produced, over-the-top, and artificial for my liking.  So making all natural scrub to suit my preferences was a project right up my alley.  My first batch has been prepared with a delightful and energizing blend of grapefruit and sweet orange oils, with just a touch of vanilla for sweetness to tame the tart citrus scents.  It was so simple to make and is every bit as effective on my skin as anything I’ve ever purchased.  I anticipate making many, many batches of varying scents and styles in the future.

It’s been really fantastic to have some time to be creative.  My senses are pleased.  My mind and body have been fed well and I know there is more to come.   So, here is to long weekends, leisure time, and an active mind!