Mar 092015
 

Saturday

I really wanted to sleep in on Saturday…I rarely ever get to and this day was no different. My cat decided at 8am it was time to jump on me, walk on my head, prance around on my bladder and do circles around my body. Plus the sun was out and I could hear the birds chirping outside the window. It was supposed to be a nice day out! I went to the gym and did some weight lifting, followed up with a few miles on the elliptical. I know I should be taking advantage of the nice weather and be doing my workouts outside but…I wanted to lift weights.

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After the gym I got cleaned up and then Michael and I drove to Beaverton for lunch. It feels like it’s on the other side of the world from us. It kind of is. But we were going to visit a place that installs countertops and we wanted to see larger samples of them so we had to go to their store to do that. Michael decided to make an outing of it and took my to lunch at Gloria’s Secret Cafe.

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It’s a little hole in the wall Mexican restaurant (El Salvadorian, actually) that has maybe four tables in it. It’s seriously tiny. But oh my god was it GOOD. What a FIND! Gloria herself came out and greeted everyone at each table and asked how the food was. The food was spectacular. Michael got the carnitas taco special. I got the steak taco. Both came with saffron rice and beans. My taco was marinated meat in a sweet sauce topped with cabbage, radishes, spinach, cucumber and zucchini. The fresh veggies were an excellent texture and flavor with the steak. I cannot express just how delicious the food was! If you’re ever in Beaverton, Oregon, you must go to Gloria’s! The servings were perfect lunch size, not too big but just filling enough.

Obligatory Bella-loving-the-sunshine-being-a-spazz photo:

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It was seriously so nice out! We took Bella for a super long walk when we got back from our errands and lunch. Michael wanted me to pick up something that we could grill because it was so nice out so I went grocery shopping and got some veggies and a pork tenderloin that was pre-seasoned.

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While Michael grilled up the pork tenderloin (it was REALLY good, just slightly salty) I sauteed Brussels sprouts with a few pieces of bacon and we settled in to watch a few episodes of House Of Cards. Man, this season is crazy!

Sunday

Sunday Michael, Bella and I piled into the car and drove to Mount Hood to go for a hike. Nope, no snowshoeing–hiking! In March! It was 70 degrees with clear skies, shorts and t-shirt weather. I remarked that I don’t think we’ve EVER gone hiking in March before. A little bit in January and maybe February but but March the rain starts and doesn’t stop til May/June. This year we are lucky. OR, we are getting our summer now instead of in July…I can’t complain, though. Either can Bella–she’s loving how active our winter is so far!

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We did Salmon Butte, one we’ve hiked once before last summer. It was a hot day last year and I remember we didn’t do as far as we’d hoped because it was so hot and I felt like Bella was getting overheated (she was panting a lot). This time she was a trooper.

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I was panting and huffing it up the trail, feeling like I was really slow and out of shape. Then Michael said he was hiking at a faster pace than normal. Oh, that explains it. Normally a hike doesn’t make me that winded! Apparently he was speed walking! ;P

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There were a few parts of the trail that were washed out and difficult to cross but we made it. And Bella tromped through the creek like it was nothing. Us humans tried to balance on sticks and rocks in the creek.

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We made a stop in the sunshine to eat our Subway sandwiches for lunch and then continued the strenuous hike uphill.

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We got a little ways past the spot we turned around the last time we did this hike and then the path was blocked by a large tree that had fallen. If we didn’t have Bella we might have been able to maneuver around the fallen tree but it seemed like a dangerous thing for her to try and crawl underneath with the broken stabby branches so we figured it was a good time to turn around.

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There were some pretty purple wildflowers blooming (with lots of plump bees buzzing around pollinating) and there was also this odd looking plant that was kind of like a broccoli stalk:

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Anyone know what that white flower is? I’m really curious and would like to know. We hiked back down the trail and past by small waterfalls and creeks. The temperature was warming up nicely and the sun felt so good. The breeze was WARM, which was a nice change from icy. I just could not get enough of the forest and river and sunshine. Loving it!

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We ended up doing exactly 4.5 miles. It took was just over 2 hours, with a lunch break. It was a decent hike, a lot more body-friendly for me than last weekend’s hike that had me very sore and very tired (we did too much that day). I didn’t feel too tired or like I hit the wall with this hike. And bonus points, it’s only 45 minutes from the house. That’s perfect! That’s a good driving distance for a great hike in my book. Hood River/The Gorge area hikes are around 45 minutes to an hour, depending on which one you do, and they are always really popular and crowded. Instead, we got to go up to the mountain and enjoy the fresh air on an almost empty trail.

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We got home with time enough to clean up, give Bella a bath and dinner and then we drove to Beaverton to have dinner at Michael’s mom’s house. She made orange chicken, rice, steamed broccoli and salad. Everything  was delicious! And I definitely ate a little more than I’d planned. Hadn’t realized just how hungry I was until we started eating. Hiking sure takes a lot out of you. Here is dinner:

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I should also mention that when we went to Michael’s mom’s house for dinner we left Bella OUT OF HER CRATE. We’ve been slowly leaving her home alone, uncrated now for a few months. The most time we’ve left her out is about an hour. She’s done really well and didn’t destroy the house (or my shoes) like she did last year. We decided to leave her out Sunday evening while we went to dinner as a test–and because we both figured the hike would have tired her out enough that she wouldn’t get into mischief.

I have to admit, as the evening went on and then we decided to drive home I was definitely getting anxious! I had all sorts of horrible and funny thoughts of the destruction and anarchy that we were possibly going home to. Michael drove into the garage and I leapt out of the car before it was even in Park. I went into the kitchen and Bella AND Fat Kitty were both sitting there waiting for me! Bella was super excited, jumped and licked me and then flopped onto her back for belly rubs. Since Fat Kitty was okay I figured the house was probably ok too but I did a quick peek and yep! Bella was a ROCKSTAR. No destruction. Everything was exactly as we’d left it. Nothing was eaten, chewed, puked on or peed on. I think she just spent the three and a half hours we were gone sleeping on the couch….!

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I am SO PROUD of my girl. :D

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Feb 182015
 

Michael’s dad came to visit for a long weekend. He’s been in the beer business for decades so of course we wanted to show off some of the Oregon beers! I turned him on to my favorite beer–Boneyard IPA–a few years ago and he agrees it’s one of the best tasting beers he’s had. :D One of the local Fred Meyer grocery stores has a growler filling station and they have Boneyard on tap! Of course I had to go and fill our growler for Michael’s dad to enjoy at home during his visit (and for me too LOL).

The first night he was in town we went to Gino’s in Sellwood. It’s a really good Italian restaurant without the hassle of going downtown. It’s an old Portland institution that is always packed, no matter what time of the week you go. Thankfully we got a table pretty quickly. We shared a Caesar salad to start and I got a glass of the Pinot Grigio wine. I got the ravioli special. It was ravioli with goat cheese in it and a butternut squash sauce on the outside of the pasta. It was a really interesting take on butternut squash ravioli! It was topped with some red pepper flakes and toasted hazelnuts. It was very rich but so delicious! Considering we eat pasta like 2x a year it was a real treat.

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Monday was a holiday. I slept in a little bit and then went to the gym while Michael and his dad hung out at home and had breakfast. I did my weight routine–lots of kettle bell exercises and some ab work–and then did 2.25 miles on the elliptical. It was a good, sweaty session, that came no where close to burning off the pasta from the night before!!

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It was such a nice day out in Portland! 60’s and sunny! The perfect spring/summer tease that comes every mid-February right before the rains starts. The three of us went out to lunch at Hopworks in SE Portland. It’s a cool restaurant/pub with a bike and beer theme. How can you go wrong with that?? I ended up getting the Thai Peanut Wrap with chicken (instead of tempeh) and it was really tasty. It came with red cabbage, quinoa, broccoli and peanut sauce. It didn’t sit too heavy, either, which was good. Michael got a chopped salad and his dad got the chicken tenders. Everything tasted really great! (Sometimes the food can be hit or miss.)

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We also shared a tasting tray of 15 beers! I think the favorite for Michael and I was the Abominable Winter Ale, which was rich and smooth and hoppy like an IPA, which was odd for a winter ale. Those are usually darker beers. But it was really good! Of course I also liked the IPA’s and the double IPA’s, those tend to be my favorites. The hoppier the better. There were a lot of beers that I skipped (I’m not a fan of dark beers).

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Surprisingly, I also LOVED the Radler–which was a lager (40%) and lemonade (60%)! It was SO good. I could see myself drinking WAY too many of those lovely ladies on a hot summer day. Michael’s dad told the story of how the Radler got started. Apparently in the 1920’s some German town was full of thousands of cyclists one summer day and Radler was running out of beer in his pub so he started mixing the beer with a lemon lime soda that didn’t sell very well on it’s own and everyone loved it! Hence, the beer/lemonade combo was born. I googled it when we got home and found this ad:

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Too funny! After lunch and beer tasting we hit one more local brewery, Burnside Brewing. It’s one of my cousin’s favorites and I’m a fan of their Sweet Heat, but haven’t tried any of their other beers. It was a really nice day and they had a covered patio that was partially in the sun so we got to sit outside while we did a sampler tray.

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I LOVE their logo. It’s a little artistic devil and it’s so cute. Anyways, we sat in the sun and enjoyed our sampler tray of mostly IPA’s, a lager, a stout and of course the Sweet Heat (which is made with Louisiana Scotch Peppers). The boys weren’t a fan of that one but I like it. :)

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That yellow one on the forefront is the Sweet Heat. Normally I’d take one look at that beer and be like, “I won’t like it” but I really do…it’s unique! So we enjoyed the sun and beer and wished it were summer then called the beer tour over for the day. I haven’t been drinking alcohol except for my birthday weekend and then the holiday weekend because Michael’s dad was visiting. Just having some samples was a doozy for me!

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After that the boys dropped me off at home to hang out with Bella and do some stuff while they went computer shopping and then hit another brewery (Breakside Brewing). I’d had my fill of beer for the day (or weekend, really) and ended up watching some Gilmore Girls, cuddled with Bella and did some yard work in the sunshine.

When Michael’s dad comes to visit from Texas he usually wants seafood so we take him to his favorite spots (Jake’s or Ringside). Monday night we went to Jake’s Grill downtown. It’s a classy, gorgeous restaurant with impeccable service and it’s always a good experience. I always forget just how great dining out at Jake’s is.

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We got all gussied up and headed downtown for an early dinner.

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I had a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, crisp and dry just like how I like my wine! They brought out the famous sourdough rolls which are just too tasty not to eat…

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Michael ordered the calamari appetizer. He thinks it’s the best calamari in town and I tend to agree. It’s never overly chewy or greasy. I only had a few bites though, as I was saving room for my dinner!

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For dinner I ordered the cedar plank salmon that came with basmati rice and crispy leeks. At first I was going to get a salad and soup but the salmon sounded so amazing (and I wasn’t wrong) and when you go to Jake’s you really should order the fish.

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The salmon was perfectly crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. I LOVED the leeks on top. They were kind of like fried onions. The portions were good too–not grotesquely huge, just right. Michael got the salmon with potatoes and kale topped with a lobster sauce. Michael’s dad got the rockfish with green beans, tomatoes and artichokes.

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Everything was magnificent. I love that place! We were all stuffed but not uncomfortably so. There was definitely no room for dessert and we called it an early night.

I love it when family comes to visit and we can show off our lovely city. You can throw a rock and hit a dozen breweries and great restaurants. The weather was perfect for Michael’s dad’s visit, too, which was nice. I will say I will be happy to get back to my normal eating routine and give the alcohol a break again. Back on track!

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