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.


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!

photo 1

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.

photo 2

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!

photo 4

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


  • 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)


  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.

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!


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!

photo 2-1
photo 1-1
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:

photo 3

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


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

Dec 272013


Happy Festivus! Merry Christmas!

It was a fun one this year! Michael and I woke up Christmas morning and Bella donned her gay apparel and we unwrapped presents! Bella first, of course. She didn’t seem to “get it” but she loved her new rope toy. She immediately ran off to destroy it while we opened our presents.



It was a leisurely morning. Michael built a fire, we watched A Christmas Story and just chilled out until my parents arrived. They were on their way south–somewhere SUNNY AND WARM (jealous) and they stopped in Portland to take us to brunch before they went on vacation. We went to Gracie’s again this year. We used to go to The Heathman for Christmas brunch and then one year I was too late making a reservation and they were booked so I tried Gracie’s and we loved it much better. That is the new norm now.


It was such a nice, sunny day out in Portland! We arrived at Gracie’s and had a nice table near the window. I was in desperate need of some coffee. I’ve been so tired lately. Not quite the “run down” tired but more like “I think I’m getting sick and I’m so sleepy” tired. The coffee took the edge off, slightly.


Gracie’s is in the Hotel deLuxe–a very swanky old-world hotel downtown. It was built in 1912 and was remodeled back to it’s glory. There are old black and white photos from the 20’s–50’s movies all over the hotel. It adds to the 1940’s glamour of it all.


I’d been craving French toast lately and the first year we went to Gracie’s I had theirs and it was a-mazing!! But when I got there and looked at the menu, I ended up getting something else. I ordered the eggs benedict on top of crab and shrimp cakes. Wow, it was a decadent dish! The hollandaise sauce was surprisingly light tasting and I loved the crab and shrimp cakes. It was cool that they put the poached eggs on that instead of biscuits.


I think their ketchup was homemade. It was great. Michael got the huevos rancheros. I had a bite; it was pretty spicy. Yum!


My parents love this restaurant, too, so it’s nice that we can do this. After brunch I asked the front desk if we could see a room. It’s a hotel that I’ve considered booking for our wedding night. The front desk clerk graciously gave us a tour of a few different rooms. The deluxe king suite was super nice! It was huge! With windows on two walls overlooking downtown Portland. There was a humongous walk-in-closet and a huge bathroom. It was a really nice room and I could see us staying there after the wedding. I was glad we got to take a peak.

After that we went back to the house for presents and visiting and then my parents took off for parts unknown in sunny California. Michael and I headed over to his mom’s house for the evening.



We had lots of munchies there — a cheese and cracker plate, a “everything pickled” plate, a veggie and yogurt dip plate. Plenty of food! Michael’s mom did some kind of beef tenderloin for dinner. It was perfectly prepared. She wrapped it in the cooking twine and then used the Montreal seasoning to crust the outside of the beef.  It was so good. I’d love to try something like that but cooking meat is not my specialty.



Michael made his mac n’ cheese and it was a big hit, as usual. I had a little but of everything. Honestly, I was still pretty full from brunch!



(It’s been a lot of eating lately. Like a little too much honestly. I most definitely will not be stepping on the scale until I get back on track. Too many Christmas cookies (delicious ones made by Michael’s sister) and lots of carby-good things.)  It was a really nice holiday with everyone. I was glad we got to see everybody. I wish I’d been able to see my brother. It sucks he lives so far away.

One of the gifts we got from Michael’s mom was a headed mattress pad. I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS. I miss having flannel sheets in the winter time but Mr. Scrooge hates them and so we haven’t had flannel sheets. But the electric pad is dual controlled! His and hers temperature settings. Finally, one of the gifts Michael gave me was a Kindle. I’m also excited about this but honestly struggling with it. I’m usually pretty tech-savvy but for some reason it’s hard to figure it out! I KNOW there is a way to check out ebooks from my library for the Kindle but I can’t figure it out. Any tips??