Apr 082014
 

After a recent burst of summer-y weather, I vowed that the next day it was sunny and warm I’d take a vacation day and enjoy it. With the wedding and stuff I have been saving my vacation days but I had enough to spare one. I ended up taking off Monday to extend my weekend. I had nothing planned other than enjoying 0% chance of rain and the possible temperature of 74 degrees.

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I packed a backpack and water and Bella and I were off to play in the sunshine! I got an iced coffee, we filled up the gas tank and then drove to East Portland for a hike. I decided to do Powell Butte Park. I’d heard of the park before but had never been. I decided Monday was a good day! I didn’t want to drive all the way out to the Gorge for a hike and I’m glad I gave this local hike a try. I’d like to do it again with Michael.

They are doing construction at the park so the visitor parking lot is closed. I parked at the bowling alley across the street from the entrance road and Bella and I hoofed it up the steep road to the park. The hardest part of the hike was the first 1/2 mile trek TO the park!

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The park was pretty empty. We came across a few other people with dogs and Bella did a great job! She didn’t bark at any of the strangers except for one. The park is under massive construction. Not sure what all they are doing but I did see parts of the park were closed for habitat restoration. There were also tons of newly planted trees.

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The park is supposedly popular with cyclists, hikers and horseback riders. I saw evidence of horses on the trail but didn’t see any horses on our hike. The summit of the park was pretty barren; there were some trees but mostly it was just views of the surrounding mountains. It was a gorgeous lookout from the top!

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The sun was out, the skies were perfectly blue and it was warm out there. Bella and I hiked on the Wildhorse Trail and then it hooked up to the Orchard Trail. The path started to lead downhill and wound into some trees. The hike turned into a more typical Oregon hike–through old growth forests.

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The only sound was the breeze through the trees and the birds hiding in the branches. It was very peaceful. I followed the forested trail downhill for awhile and decided to turn around. I’m glad I did. We’d hiked a lot longer than I had expected. The trail was deceptive–it didn’t seem very far.

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It was a pretty warm day and most of the hike was out in the open. The sun felt really nice. We stopped many times for water breaks. We turned around and headed back the same way we came. I loved seeing the mountains! I found a map after the hike that showed all the trails. I’m not sure which ones are under construction but I was impressed with how big the park was!

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I’ve hiked on my own many times before. I’m always aware of what’s going on around me, pay attention to other people on the trail, and just be smart. I liked having Bella with me! We got back to the car and had more water before heading home.  We did about 4.25 miles total. It was such a nice way to spend a day off!

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When I got home Bella fell asleep on the couch (snoring) while I cleaned up and had lunch. Lunch was leftover cashew chicken from the weekend and it really hit the spot. I’d worked up an appetite!

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I ran a few errands–one being a trip through the car wash! My poor car hasn’t been washed in months. And Bella got the exciting experience of going through a carwash. I posted a video of it on my instagram if you’re so inclined to check it out. After a day in the sunshine, Bella and I finally sat down to relax a little. She fell asleep and snored on the couch. ;)

When Michael got home I gave him his birthday present and made dinner. Even though we’d had Italian for his “official” birthday dinner, we ended up having Italian again! I opened a jar of my homemade marinara sauce made entirely from the tomatoes, rosemary, onions and basil from last year’s garden. I cooked some Trader Joe’s pesto tortellini, browned some turkey into the sauce and opened a bottle of red.

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For dessert I tried something I saw on Pinterest. You take the crescent roll dough, roll some Rollos into it, bake it and it’s all melty and gooey on the inside. For about 180 calories, it’s a nice treat! It was a little weird but tasty. Kind of reminded me of the croissants that have chocolate baked on the inside.

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We watched Game of Thrones and ended the day. It was such a nice day off!

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Apr 072014
 

Sunday was a mixed bag. The not so fun part was having to take all the animals to the vet. It was for their annual exam but the cats were going to be under anesthesia for their teeth cleaning. It’s important, especially for Maya because she had to have two tooth removed a few years ago, but it still makes me nervous!

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It was weird not having the pets in the house. It felt very empty without them. Bella did well and got a bandana from the vet when we picked her up. I think it was the equivalent of getting a lollipop from the doctor’s office. Bella wasn’t a fan of the bandana and kept trying to bite it to get it off.

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I was so glad when all the beasts were back home! Everyone had a good checkup. Fat Kitty has actually lost about a pound since his last visit. I don’t know if that is due to running away from Bella or the new “interactive” feeder I got the cats that is supposed to slow them down and make them eat less. Either way, I am happy that everyone is healthy!

After all the pet stuff was done, I took Michael out for dinner for his birthday! We went to Iorio. Partly because I had a Groupon for it and partly because it’s one of our favorite restaurants. Great service and great food every time. I goofed and didn’t make reservations and when I tried, they were all booked up for days! :( Thankfully, we still got in. We went early (they’d just opened up for the night) and were able to snag some spots at the bar.

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The bar seating was nice and not too bad. There was a lot of space and it still felt intimate. We were also right by the live entertainment. There was a guy there playing flamenco guitar and he sounded fantastic! Michael remarked that he was a really good guitarist (and Michael would know). Look at the birthday boy being goofy:

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So we dined at 5:30pm with the other blue hairs. Exciting life, eh? Anyways. One of the things I like about Iorio is that have a LOT of gluten free options. Most of their pasta can be made gluten free and they have GF beer options, too. I got a glass of a a Sangiovese-Cab blend that was sweet and smooth and Michael got a gluten free beer. We skipped the appetizers because both of us had a large lunch.

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Michael ordered the hand-made pasta with spicy meatballs. He said the dish was delicious, but the meatballs weren’t spicy. He also tried to figure out what the spice/herb was in the dish he couldn’t place. He thought maybe it was mint. I had a bite and agreed, the meatballs weren’t spicy but they tasted great. I tasted a hint of lemon zest in his dish.

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I struggled with deciding what dish to get. At first I was going to get their soup of the day — butternut squash bisque topped with candied walnuts. It sounded divine!!! I love butternut squash bisque! But in the end, they won me over with their Ravioli of the Day. I think it’s what I get every time we go there because it always sounds good. This time it was filled with braised short rib meat and caramelized onions. It was topped with a marinara sauce, lots of fresh parsley and basil and pecorino cheese on top. My dinner was outstanding! I ate very single bite and didn’t regret it at all (ok, maybe a teeny tiny bit later when my pants felt a little tight).

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Michael and I shared a dessert. Flourless chocolate cake topped with vanilla ice cream, crunchy chocolate sauce, raspberry sauce and fresh blackberries. It was magnificent.  Small enough not to overpower but also small enough to make you wish you’d ordered two. I was glad we’d split it. It was very rich—melting into a pool of chocolate sauce when you forked into the center of it. Like molten lava chocolate. Mmmm so good!

I’m so thankful that I met Michael 6 years ago (has it really been that long?!?!) and that in a few months we’ll be married. I can’t wait to celebrate many more birthdays together. :) Okay, enough gooey stuff. We left the restaurant full of good food and chocolate and it was still light out. Yep, we were done with dinner by 6:45. Man, when did we get so old? Back home to let Bella out and then we just chilled for a bit. I think we might go see a movie tonight for Michael’s official birthday.

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