Apr 142014
 

What a gorgeous weekend! The weather was absolutely beautiful and I brought out the shorts and t-shirts. Saturday afternoon Bella and I drove with the windows down to meet my friend Robyn at Mount Tabor Park for a sunny walk. Mount Tabor is a pretty park in SE Portland built on a volcanic cinder cone overlooking the entire city. There are tall trees, running/hiking trails through the forest, people skateboarding, biking, running and walking. There are places for kids to play on toys, picnic areas and it’s also the location for the annual Soap Box Derby race.

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I met Robyn at the entrance of the park with Bella and we started walking up to the top. Not only was this a nice afternoon walk with a friend, it was also a little training for Bella. I want her to get more socialized so we can take her places without her barking at strangers. She did so well! She barked at Robyn, then remembered who she was and she was fine. There was a ton of stimulation in the park, tons of people–kids and people on bikes and other dogs–and Bella didn’t bark at any of them. I was pretty proud of her showing restraint! Of course, lots of treats probably helped.

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Robyn and I walked for a little over an hour and did 2.87 miles! It was a great walk and it felt good to be outside in the sunshine!

On Sunday afternoon it was even nicer out. I had plans to meet my cousin Anna for a late lunch/early dinner. We met at Produce Row–a restaurant that used to be a dive but got cleaned up really, really nicely in the last few years and they have an outdoor patio which is CRUCIAL for a sunny weekend!

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Anna snagged a table on the patio, which was covered but the sunshine still shone through. The patio was packed–everyone had the same idea. Soak up as much sunshine as possible. I was on a quest for finding the best Bloody Mary in town and I decided to test out theirs.

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Anna got a Moscow Mule–vodka, ginger beer and lemon or lime juice. I had a taste and it was quite tasty! A very nice summery beverage. The Bloody Mary was very good–thick and spicy but not intolerable. It came with pickled green beans, onions, olives and celery. I liked it a lot–it wasn’t the best Bloody I’ve had but I liked it!

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We got the combo snack option–choose three appetizers for a discounted price. We chose the hummus–which came with fresh carrots, radishes and delicious spelt toast (I’ve never had spelt before, it was wonderful!). We also got the crostini topped with ricotta cheese, artichokes, walnut pesto and some garlic and onion. I loved the crostini. It messy but so tasty. Not only did they taste good, but they were little miniature works of art:

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Topped with fresh dill. Wonderful, huh? Lastly, we got the bacon wrapped dates that came atop some chevre cheese, topped with a balsamic reduction and some hazelnuts.

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The dates were tiny, which was good, and I was glad that they weren’t stingy with them. Sometimes restaurants bring out two dates on a plate! Two are not nearly enough.

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This was dinner! And it was enough food for the two of us. Anna ordered another Moscow Mule and I tried something different–the Jules Verne. It was dark spiced rum, coconut and lime. It was really good!!

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Loved loved loved the presentation of everything! Everything was so great and I loved the outdoor patio. I was indeed drunk on sunshine! It was a great end to the weekend and I only wished it could last just a little bit longer……

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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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