Apr 222014
 

What a weekend! Busy busy busy.

It feels like I haven’t seen Michael in two weeks! We had a house guest for 5 days recently so I didn’t see much of him and then this past weekend he went up to Seattle to hang out with a friend and see a concert. My mom came down from Seattle (I wonder if her and Michael waved when they drove past each other I-5?) to help with some wedding stuff.

The biggest project was getting the invitations made. My friend Star, who is also officiating the ceremony, gets a discount at Kinko’s so we were going to take advantage of that to save some money. About a month ago Michael and I picked out our invitations, ordered the digital file, and I’ve been waiting (impatiently) to take it in and get them printed!

First things first, I got up a little earlier than usually to get my workout out of the way.  I lifted weights, worked with some kettlebells and then ran on the treadmill. After stretching a bit (my hips feel tight lately) I hurried home to get cleaned up.

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Then, my mom and I met Star at Papa Haydn’s for brunch. Turned out that brunch was only on Sundays, so what was brunch turned into lunch. But that was okay because the food there is great. My aunt also joined us, so it was just four ladies doing lunch! I got their seasonal salad which had goat cheese, granny smith apples and hazelnuts on it. I love this salad!

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Then I got their French Onion soup. Theirs is really good but not as good as Petite Provence, I think. My mom and Star both got the French Onion soup, too, and my aunt got the pasta and clams.

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I love French Onion soup! It was rich and hearty and very filling. I had an iced tea with my lunch and had planned on also getting coffee but I FORGOT. How did I forget to get coffee?!?! I sure felt it later in the afternoon when I couldn’t stop yawning. We did splurge and get dessert. Kinda have to at Papa Haydn’s!

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Star got a small bowl of pistachio ice cream and my mom and both got a macaron. I got the salted caramel one–wowza! It was so great! I’ve only had macarons a few times before. I loved the salty creamy sweetness of it.

After brunch we went to get the invitations made. Star’s discount saved us a ton of money but we had to wait to get the invitation. For some reason I thought they’d just print them up while we wait but it takes longer than that. They can fit 2 invitations to one sheet and 4 RSVP cards to one sheet, so they were printing them up and then cutting them for us. They should be ready in a few days!

After dropping the flashdrive off, my mom and I drove all over town for like five hours trying to find envelopes that will go with the invitations. We found the perfect ones for the RSVP cards but not the actually invitations. Either they were the wrong color, the wrong size or too flimsy. Who know it would be SO HARD to find envelopes. We went to like 5 stores and it was VERY frustrating and exhausting and not very fun. I was pretty much over it by the end of the day. In the end I found some on amazon (good grief) and ordered them. Will see if they work!

While we were out all day, dinner was cooking in the crockpot. I knew I wouldn’t be interested in cooking something after spending all day running around. I knew the easiest thing to just throw into a crockpot would be a black bean soup. I found a recipe on another blog for Black Bean and Rice soup and threw that together.

Slow Cooker Black Bean and Rice Soup with Lime and Cilantro

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 8 hours

Total Time: 8 hours, 15 minutes

Yield: 6-8 servings

Calories per serving: 194 calories for 6 servings, 145 for 8 servings

From: http://www.kalynskitchen.com/2006/12/black-bean-and-rice-soup-with-lime-and.html?m=1

Ingredients

  • 2 cans (15. oz. each) black beans with liquid
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz. each) petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock or canned chicken broth (or use vegetable stock for strictly vegetarian or vegan version)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic (or more)
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • 1 T dried oregano (preferably Mexican oregano)
  • 1 tsp. ground Ancho chile powder (I used Penzeys)
  • (could substitite regular chile powder)
  • 1/4 tsp. ground Chipotle chile powder (I used Penzeys)
  • (could substitute finely chopped Chipotle chile in adobo from a can)
  • 1/4 cup white long-grain rice (not more!)
  • (I use Uncle Ben's Converted Rice for South Beach)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (2 limes)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (or more)

Instructions

  1. In small Crockpot, combine beans, tomatoes, chicken or vegetable stock, onion, garlic, cumin, oregano, Ancho chile powder and Chipotle chile powder.
  2. Cook on low for 6-8 hours (or 3-4 hours on high), until tomatoes are disintegrating and beans are starting to fall apart.
  3. When soup has reached the consistency you want, turn Crockpot to high if you were cooking on low. Add 1/4 cup rice and cook until rice is done, about 30 minutes.
  4. Add fresh lime juice and cilantro and cook 5 minutes more.
  5. Serve hot, with additional fresh lime pieces for each person to squeeze into soup and more cilantro if desired.
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I added some leftover chipotle peppers in adobo sauce that I’d frozen from a chicken tortilla soup I made a few months ago. I’m glad I froze the leftovers because the chiptole peppers and sauce added a really nice smoky flavor to the soup. I also added a handful of diced carrot to the crockpot. When I make this recipe again I’ll probably add more vegetables–maybe some celery and more onion. I goofed and added the rice at the beginning instead of at the end, so next time I will pay attention to that!

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Loved the soup! It was a little spicy, really flavorful and just delicious. I put a spoonful of sour cream on top, drizzled some lime juice over it, added green onion and dinner was served. I had some crescent roll dough so I baked those up and we had some tortilla chips with the soup. The soup was really low in calories.

After dinner we worked on some crafty things for the wedding. I’m using old corks as place card holders. So my mom and worked on cutting those and making them ready for the place cards. It was hard work! It took a few hours but we got them all done. I’m really grateful to all the friends (and even a blog reader!) who mailed me bags and boxes of corks they had saved!

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My mom also brought down a bunch of old photos for me to sort through to find some for the wedding/rehearsal dinner slideshow. She brought some very embarrassing and horrible photos, but there were a few gems in there, too. :) I think this one was when I was three months old:

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Aww the 80′s….This is one of me and my brother:

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We got a ton of stuff done but not everything we had hoped to accomplish. Next trip. :)

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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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