trying new things

So Long 2014!

What a year it has been!

This has also been one of the worst years for my health. It seemed like I was ALWAYS sick this year. Getting a cold every other month, multiple sinus infections and also bronchitis. In that aspect I’d say I’m disappointed and hoping that 2015 is an improvement. Other than that, it was a pretty good year full of big events and lots of traveling.

Vegas

I got to go on a girl’s adventure! Going to Vegas with my cousin Anna was so great. It had been way too long since we’d traveled together and it turned out that one of my work friends was also in Vegas during the same time so we all got together for a great show. 😉

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It was a trip that I really needed and I love Vegas so much. The weather was fantastic and lounging poolside with drinks was a dream come true. Vegas is a place I could easily go to every single year. Maybe this is the winter weather speaking here but damn, I need to be back in Vegas poolside SOON. I never get sick of that city.

Trying New Things

Kayaking the Willamette River had been on my “to do list” for so long and I finally got to do it! It went well and I got more experience kayaking in Hawaii on our honeymoon. I am determined to make 2015 a year of kayaking! Michael is on board with this, too.

Canning Salsa had been on my “to do list” for several years, too. Ever since we started planting our own vegetable garden. Well this year I finally CANNED the stuff I grew! And it turned out well. I was surprised at how much fun it was canning stuff. I canned salsa, tomato sauce, raw tomatoes, I even made jalapeno jelly. All of those creations were a hit with people I gave them to as well. Next year will include a lot of new canning adventures.

Ran a 5K

After years of battling various injuries and flare-ups, I was able to run a race again. It took me pretty much all winter/spring to train for it. I know that 5k’s are pretty easy for most people but after being “out of it” for so long and not doing much running on a consistent basis, it was a really happy moment for me to be able to run another race.

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I did have to take a few walking breaks, but my time wasn’t too bad and I finished it! I felt strong and was able to keep running the rest of the year injury free!

Wedding

Yep! After a year and a half of planning, the wedding was finally here. (You can see the Engagement Pictures if you missed them.) And that of course included the Bachelorette Party! The Bachelorette Party was amazing and just perfect for me. I was really happy my close friends planned such a fantastic day and everyone could participate. Lots of happy memories there.

The wedding finally arrived and it was even more wonderful than I had fantasized about. We are STILL getting rave reviews from guests who loved the food and music and said it was the best wedding they’d been to. That kind of positive feedback makes me happy–all the stress of planning was worth it. (You can read the wedding posts here: The Wedding Details – Part 1The Wedding Details – Part 2The Wedding Details – Part 3, and Professional Pictures are Here!.)

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It’s nice because I still love looking at our beautiful wedding pictures and when I hear certain songs on the radio that were played at the ceremony/reception I do get a little teary-eyed. I’m a softy, what can I say. So yeah, I’d say the wedding and honeymoon was the “big deal” for 2014!

Hawaii

What can I say about Hawaii? It’s paradise, of course. The weather was hot and sunny but not so humid you felt stinky. The flowers were aromatic and gorgeous. The sound of the ocean waves hitting beach while we enjoyed our breakfast on the lanai every morning is something I missed the second we returned home.

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We did so many amazing things in Hawaii and one of the happiest memories I have is Michael actually running with me! Like, wow, that’s a huge deal. He is not a runner, has never expressed any desire to start running, but he joined me a few times on the honeymoon for a run along the ocean. How great is that? And of course, swimming and snorkeling in the warm ocean rates pretty high on my list.

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After spending 9 days on a beach in Hawaii all I want to do is go on tropical vacations. Beach life is necessary!

2015 Goals

Get back to 145 pounds. That was my weight for many, many years. Then shit happened, including a glorious honeymoon where I ate and drank everything in sight, and gained a bit. When I got back I had about 15 pounds to lose. It was a hard road and I lost a bit, gained a bit, lost a bit. 2015 is going to be an easy, low-key year, I know it. I will focus on losing those extra pounds and get back down under my goal weight. I know I can do it. I did it a few times before. I just need to buckle down. Here comes the

Do more kayaking. I got the kayaking bug! It was so much fun the few times I’ve done it and now all I want to do is do it more. Of course I’m a wuss when it comes to weather so this goal will have to wait until summer time. I’m just not willing to spend hours out in the rain for this!

Travel. I have a trip planned to Tucson in the spring for my friend’s wedding. Other than that there are no major trips planned for me yet. Michael and I have been talking about where to go for our wedding anniversary in September. We talked about visiting the East Coast. I’ve always wanted to explore the historical towns and go to museums. We were originally planning a trip to Philly, Boston and New York but I think that might be a little too much–too much money, too much time away from home. We are currently discussing making a mini-trip and going to Philly (to see my brother and his wife) and then exploring Washington DC. The other destination discussed was Mexico and New Orleans. I have to admit, I am leaning more towards sunny, warm places! Stay tuned!

What were your 2014 highlights? Any New Year’s Resolutions?

Pho Adventures

Pho never appealed to me because I had the misconception that it was just raw meat in a bowl. I listened to the nay-sayers who told me I would be eating tripe and other weird things. While I am a pretty adventurous eater and I enjoy trying new things, intestines are not on my list of things to try.

That being said, a few good friends whom I trust have raved about Pho for so long I decided I wanted to try it. My friend Sam offered to take me to a place she really likes for my first experience. I took her up on it because it had been awhile since we’d hung out.

It was a gray, dreary spring evening but with Daylight Savings it was still light enough out for us to walk to the restaurant from her house. We zipped up our coats and strolled through the blooming cherry blossom trees in the neighborhood.

The ground was still wet from an earlier rain shower but it was a nice evening for a walk. We went to Pho DaLat off SE Hawthorne (for you Portlanders it’s right across from the Fred Meyer). I remember that location changing cuisine a lot. Inside it looks like it used to be a breakfast place a la Denney’s or the Waffle House at some point in time.


We were seated immediately (the place is huge) and we got tea right away. I think it was Jasmine tea–sweet and lovely. And it was hot, which was nice after our chilly 8 block walk to the restaurant.


Sam helped me figure out what to order. She was getting the Pho with beef balls, tendons and tripe. I was positive I did not want that! Instead, I ordered the noodle soup with flank steak. I was hungry and tempted to order a large bowl of the soup but Sam talked me out of it. She assured me the small was massive, and she was 100% correct.

They also brought a plate of the “mix-ins.” It was sprouts, jalapeno slices, lime slices, various kinds of basil and cilantro and greens. The plate was heaping. Sam instructed me to plop some of the jalapenos into the soup to get the flavor out and to squeeze lime juice into the broth and mix it around with my chopsticks.

The meat was on the bottom of the bowl with the noodles so I mixed it all up. Then I tore the greens and herbs up and mixed that in, followed by the sprouts which gave the soup some crunch.

It was insanely messy to eat so I do not recommend this type of cuisine for a first date. 🙂 I really enjoyed the Pho! It was savory and hearty. The broth was delicious and was the perfect thing to eat on a cold, rainy day. I added Sriracha sauce to the soup to give it some heat. I gobbled it all up it was so good.

How many calories are in Pho? I have no idea. I Googled it and got a million different answers. Best guess-somewhere between 400-800. Um, that’s pretty vague!

I was so glad I finally got to try Pho. I liked it a lot and my new mission is to try other restaurants around Portland that serve it. Michael really wants to try it too, so I might take him one day soon. I am ALWAYS up for soup. It’s one of my favorite things. After the Pho we opened our fortune cookies.

Vague, but telling at the same time. I’ve been looking for a solution to a problem in my life lately. Maybe I’m just looking in the wrong place….After we wrapped up our gab-fest and finished eating, we walked back to her place. It was dark by then but at least it wasn’t raining. It was a lovely evening that exposed me to some new cuisine. Win-win!

QUESTION: Give me your thoughts on Pho. Love it? Hate it? Never going to try it?