Entries in bento box - cute animals sidecar (25)



I have the crud and want to do nothing more than lay in bed and watch movies. It started with a scratchy throat Tuesday night that hasn't gone away, then achiness and stuffiness Wednesday night, then congestion yesterday, and by last night, was a full-blown cold.

It's supposed to be beautiful and warm this weekend, when I could be doing any number of fun and glorious things. But I won't be doing fun and glorious things, I will be dealing with the crud, holing up like a wounded animal and subsisting on soup and juice and NyQuil.

Feh. Feh, I say.

yesterday's lunch, Paris slimline

  • chicken teriyaki meatballs
  • steamed broccoli
  • carrot sticks
  • cucumber slices
  • cashews and dried cherries

yesterday's snack, cute animals sidecar

  • hard boiled egg
  • carrot sticks
  • almond butter for dipping

erin go braugh

Sister and Guy and the Fabulous Miss M joined us for the weekend for a bit of family time. Saturday being St. Patrick's Day, we of course had to pay proper deference to our Irish ancestors. Soda bread and Dubliner cheese for an appetizer, pasties and Guinness for dinner, and a very precious bit of a 22 year-old Bushmill's whiskey that Guy brought back from Ireland with him 10 years ago. Short an Irish pub, an Irish fiddle and tin whistle, and a bunch of drunk Irishmen singing "Danny Boy" in the corner, it was just about as Irish as you can get without a plane ticket.

breakfast, cute animals sidecar:

  • gala apple slices
  • roasted almond butter* for dipping


lunch, laptop lunch:

  • homemade pasty, courtesy of Guy (handmade crust, steak chunks, turnips, potatoes onion)
  • carrot sticks and broccoli
  • gravy (for the pasty)
  • raw pumpkin seeds
  • Gala apple slices

last Tuesday's lunch that I forgot to post, bento colors purple:

  • herb roasted turkey breast
  • carrot sticks
  • peas
  • sunflower seeds and almonds
  • cheese wrap (cheddar, lettuce, flour tortilla)

*I one of the (many, many) things I love about New Seasons is that their bulk foods section includes a place to make your own nut butters. They have different machines all loaded up with different nuts and you just run the grinder thingie and fill up whatever size container you choose. Straight nut butter, no sugar, no salt.


st. johns appreciation post

our little market square hosts the St. Johns Farmers' Market until mid-OctoberSeriously, our neighborhood is the greatest. Sometimes I wonder how we got to be so lucky to live here.

We looked at 42 houses before we found The One, and we were looking long and hard at the neighborhood for each, not just the house. Which is to say, we did our legwork, no question. But there was a sizeable amount of luck and faith and hope, involved, too. Driving through the little downtown area of St. Johns then was deceptive -- many storefronts were empty and what was there wasn't promising. The houses ranged from well-kept to rundown. It was the Charlie Brown Christmas tree of Portland.

But there was promise there. The downtown had a community feel despite the vacancies, and it was clear that many people had lived here a long time, and were proud of it. There was a police station and a fire house right there by the bridge, and a post office just a block past that, and a terrific library with original woodwork and stately old fixtures. There were wonderful parks and some great little shops and places to eat (granted, just a few). And then there was the house, and the bridge, and that view.

Saturday, after a trek out to Forest Grove for a vintage crafts fair (that turned out to be less "crafts" and more "stuff"), we stopped in our little downtown to check out a few of the newest shops we hadn't made it to yet. Barrel, a new wine and beer shop, was opening, so of course we had to be there for that. Right next door was Etcetera, a wonderful little home decor shop that will give me another place for gift shopping along with the already fabulous Salty Teacup. And right around the corner (past Grammy and Nonna's Toys, where we're always able to find something just right for the Fabulous Miss M), we had a chance to stop in at Olive and Vine for the first time since they opened. Salts and tea and olive oil and vinegars and spices, oh my.

Both of us now laden with shopping bags in each hand, we didn't dare cross the street to St. John's Booksellers, since we can never get out of that place without at least one book apiece (and our tottering to-read pile is already borderline hazardous). We had our options of Thai Cottage for dinner, or Anna Banana's, or James John Cafe, or Girasole, or John Street Cafe, or Signal Station Pizza, or could have bought ingredients to make it ourselves at Proper Eats Market. Afterward, we could've caught the latest release at the St. Johns Cinema (for less than one of of those big movie houses, and the option for pizza and beer to boot!), or a summer release for half the price at St. Johns Pub. Cakes and cookies from Tulip Pastry, cat food and litter from Tres Bone, bikes and supplies from Weir Cyclery, photography-anything from Blue Moon Camera, clothes for Sal at The Man's Shop...all of these and more are just blocks from our house in our neighborhood's little downtown.

From haircuts to freshly roasted coffee beans, our neighborhood has it all, and as we headed home, I had to pinch myself yet again at how lucky we are to live here.

lunch, Ms. Bento:

  • roasted butternut squash soup
  • broccoli and hard boiled egg
  • carrots and celery (with the leaves left on)
  • Starkcrimson pear with cashews as gap fillers

breakfast/snack, cute animals sidecar:

  • Starkcrimson pear
  • kiwi
  • walnuts

the fires of autumn are beacons homeward

our front Japanese maple is called "Firestorm", which has burgundy leaves that turn bright red in fall, then dark purple before falling off; it was a housewarming gift for Sal from my momWe planted this tree almost 10 years ago and every year, I forget just how gorgeous it turns in fall, and have to take seventy gazillion pictures of it, vainly trying to capture the degree of the red, a bright fire on an otherwise very gray day.

I always underestimate how long fall lasts here, and that the leaves stay on well into November, and how positively gargantuan some of the leaves are. I sent a collection of leaves to my grandmother one year, to share my Pacific Northwest autumn with her, and I collected two dozen different leaves without walking more than a block. The largest, from an old maple in the neighbor's yard, wouldn't even fit in a manila envelope without trimming the ends.

We had a day of errands Saturday, amidst wind and downpour, ending with a stop at New Seasons and bags of groceries to be hauled out of the car and up the stairs. (Douchebag developer, miraculously, finished up early and we've been able to park in front of the house again.*) In the midst of helping with the bags and being pelted with rain, I had to stop to take this picture of a rose petal amongst the yellow and brown. I know Sal must've wondered what the hell, and probably cursed me under his breath, but sometimes you've just got to stop and observe those little moments when they present themselves.

breakfast/snack, cute animals sidecar:

lunch, Ms. Bento:

  • Another delicious soup that makes autumn kind of the best season ever. Broccoli cheese soup, to be exact, and holy deliciousness, Batman, it is simply divine.
  • more broccoli
  • not-at-all-hard boiled egg
  • carrot sticks
  • kiwi

*After all my pissing and moaning, you'd think I'd feel bad for complaining so much when they finished up a week early. Not really, but I do feel bad about complaining when I found out that the cross street that borders the property on the other side, which also has to undergo street improvements for the development, is going to be out of commission until February.


summer begins to have the look, peruser of enchanting book

Fall is definitely here. It's my favorite season, all bright, crisp days and cool, clear nights. Or gray and rainy like it was this weekend. I love everything about it, from the smell and feel of the air to the turning leaves to the heavy sweaters and abundance of produce and craving for hearty comfort foods. And, joy of joys, Honeycrisp apples!

We were fortunate to not have a whole lot on the docket at Hall House, which meant that I could spend most of the day curled up in the library with a new book, and fall asleep in my chair for an impromptu afternoon nap. It also meant time to get laundry done without it feeling like a chore (folding while watching movies), and to stay on top of the dishes (always a challenge without a dishwasher), and to write for a good long stretch of time while Sal helped a friend harvest their hops (and coming home with a nice bounty as a result). It was the best sort of weekend, a combination of productive and leisurely, cozy and restful and restorative.

With such weather that makes a person crave hearty comfort foods, it's little wonder that Sunday night dinner would be something thick and creamy and served with crusty artisan bread and likely to put a person to sleep after two overflowing bowls full. Which we totally didn't have. We also totally didn't follow that with a slice of opera cake and a dollop of malted chocolate ice cream. We're all about moderation here at Hall House.

breakfast, cute animals sidecar:

  • oatmeal with raisins and maple syrup
  • Honeycrisp apple slices


lunch, Ms. Bento:

  • potato soup (potatoes, spaetzle, corn, celery, dill)
  • peas and carrots
  • Honeycrisp apple half
  • opera cake


title taken from The Complete Poems of Emily Dickenson, "Part Five: The Single Hound, LXV"


celebration and mourning

Mother Nature seems to be making up for the lack of spring and summer by making every day of August so heartachingly beautiful that you feel like your heart might burst from its perfection. Every day for the last two weeks has been comfortably warm but not hot, still and fragrant and clear blue sky, and if the extended forecasts are to be believed, we're set to continue like this for the next two weeks or more.

August is also the time for two important birthdays: Sister's and the Fabulous Miss M's. They're not actually until tomorrow and Wednesday, respectively, but Saturday was the celebration for Miss M's, so that was the centerpiece of our weekend.

One of the perks of having a chef for a godfather is that you get beautiful and delicious cakes for your birthday. One of the (many, many) perks of having Sal for a godfather is that he will make your beautiful and delicious cake extra beautiful and extra delicious, even when you are turning four years old and your only requirements are that it be pink and girly.

His original plan involved fairies and flowers and lots of pink and purple, since those are Miss M's current favorite things. But reality collided with good intentions, and a fourteen hour day necessitated a quick reworking of those plans. He arrived home from work Friday night with enough layers for two round cakes (vanilla flavored "with a kiss of cocoa), a ginormous bowl of chocolate Italian buttercream, a smaller container of plain Italian butter cream, and a blob of handmade molding chocolate. The chocolate was for the roses and leaves he was determined to sculpt, but he wasn't sure what to do for the rest. I suggested tinting the plain icing pink, and doing it up in pink and chocolate brown for a more sophisticated take on girly.

It takes a surprising amount of skill to make a cake look clean and deceptively simple. It takes a significant amount of skill to do so without disguising your mistakes with a heavy slathering of icing to even things out.  I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader as to the level of Sal's skill. Except to also point out that the chocolate roses and leaves were sculpted by hand, and the wording was done with straight tempered* chocolate. Oh, and to note, yet again, that Sal normally has the handwriting of a serial killer, but put a pastry bag in his hand and suddenly he's got the penmanship of an 19th century Victorian aristocrat.

The cake was well received by the birthday girl, who asked to view the cake repeatedly while it was still in the box, well before it was actually brought out and served. The pink feather boa from Aunt Bitty was also a big hit, particularly since Miss M and her young guests spent the better part of the party playing dress up in their finest princess couture. (The biggest fashion hit of the day, however, belonged to one her friends, who put together a pink dress with a set of swim goggles, a dozen bracelets, orange flip flops, and a beaded Mardi Gras necklace that featured miniature plastic beer mugs. Wish I'd gotten a picture of that one.)

Since we'd spent our Saturday partying, it was time to be grownups yesterday and do some straightening and other such chores around the house. Sal tackled the apple tree in the backyard, which we finally conceded this spring would have to come down. We've known for a few years that it was inevitable, but this year, when the roots on the upper slope had actually come loose from the soil, we knew it was time.

Still, we hate that it has to go. It provides such a lovely green canopy over our patio, and is perfect for stringing lights through for our famous backyard parties. Not to mention the thick privacy screen from the attic window, so that when you're up there in the summer and you look out the window to see nothing but heavy green foliage and bright green apples, it feels like you're up in a tree house.

It's the also the last of the apple trees that were originally planted on our lot and the one next to it. The people who built our house, you see, had an apple orchard. Yes, that story from the Cathedral Park Chronicles is based on real history. When we moved into the house, the orchard next door was long since gone, replaced by the apartment building that's there now, but there were five apple trees in the back yard that remained from that orchard. We had to cut down four of them because they were diseased and in danger of falling on the house or the neighbor's. It killed us to do it, but we saved the healthiest one, and hoped we'd have it for years to come, even if it was too late to give it the care it needed to make the apples edible.

Unfortunately, it wasn't enough. And although we were fortunate enough to enjoy it for nine years, and we'll keep parts of the trunk to use in the yard the same way we did with the cherry tree that had to come down, it was hard to watch it come down bit by bit yesterday. We'll have to have an arborist to come in to finish the work, but I'll schedule it for a day when I'm not at home, so I don't have to watch.

Instead, I'll be at the nursery, looking for a new tree to plant. Not to take its place, but to honor its memory.

lunch, pink Natural Lunch:

  • Parmesan breaded chicken
  • rosemary roasted potatoes
  • carrots
  • peas
  • cherries

let the wild rumpus begin

Success! Our yard, which now looks approximately like the wild jungles of Borneo, is about to be beaten into submission. We'll have to pay someone to do it, but we found someone who was willing to take their lives in their hands and attempt to restore it to its benign Pacific Northwest unruliness. Of course, there's the very real possibility they'll go inside and be eaten by wild things with lots of teeth, but better them than us.

And speaking of Pacific Northwest unruliness (oh, I kill me with these segues)...Saturday night was the Naked Bike Ride (link is SO not safe for work, but this one is). Ostensibly, it's a protest against fossil fuels, or a way to highlight the vulnerability of riders on the road, depending on whom you talk to, but it's mainly an excuse for people ride around the city letting it all hang out. Which is always hilarious if you happen to be out and about and suddenly a bunch of naked people on bicycles streak past (that's happened to us a few times). Guaranteed to make you smile and giggle and be glad for a bit of gentle absurdity. But this year was notable because Sal decided to join in. And had a blast, so I suspect this will be an annual activity at Hall House. Don't worry, there won't be pictures.

I can't boast anything quite so daring for my weekend. Did some writing, some art, made phone calls, avoided work stuff. I also made the mistake yesterday of not bringing lunch in with me. Well, the mistake was Sunday night when I didn't make one to bring, for no real good reason at all, and then yesterday...well, yesterday was the kind of day that makes a person glad they don't happen very often. It was merely coincidence that it also happened to be a Monday, but it certainly didn't help Monday's reputation for sucking.

Anyway. Today has to be better because I have both lunch AND breakfast, my replacement debit card finally arrived (srsly, what a PITA), and our summer vacation (mine and Sal's) commences Friday. Eleven whole entire days of not being at work. Such luxury! And with the yard finally restored to order, we don't even have to go anywhere for it to be awesome.

breakfast, cute animals sidecar:

  • molded egg
  • cantaloupe
  • red grapes

lunch, Ms. Bento:

  • taco filling -- seasoned ground beef and rice, shredded colby, and a bit of sour cream in the little condiment cup
  • flour tortilla and red leaf lettuce for the taco
  • carrots and red grapes
  • cantaloupe
  • dark chocolate covered raisins and candied almonds (courtesy of Chef Sal)

a sudden realization about treats

I was up very late last night working (on stuff for website clients, not my day job), to the point that I convinced myself that I wasn't going to take the time to pack a lunch. Too tired, no leftovers to scrounge, no starches/carbs, too much work, etc. etc. The usual. But our organics delivery had come earlier in the day so I certainly didn't lack for veggies, and eggs are always an option, and no starch/carb wouldn't be any big deal. So I ended up putting one together, as well as a small breakfast sidecar. I even molded a couple of eggs and cut out a few carrot shapes. It was so late by the time I was putting it all together I just figured in for a penny, in for a pound, right?

Tuesdays include a very long meeting, one that goes from morning until lunch, sometimes past lunch. So as I sat during our meeting eating from my little breakfast sidecar, I was thankful that I'd taken the time the night before.  But our meeting went longer than usual and rather than order out, we decided to finish the meeting at a nearby restaurant (Macaroni Grill). Damn, I thought. I could've just saved myself the hassle of making lunch last night if I'd known. A silly thought, since of course there was no way to know that we'd decide on the spur of the moment to make it a lunch meeting, but I thought it nonetheless.

At first, I thought well, I'll just save my lunch for dinner, then. Consider lunch a treat, even though a part of me was bummed that the especially colorful lunch I was looking forward to would have to wait until dinner.

But once I got there and looked at the menu (which was perfectly decent food, if a bit heavy), I changed my mind. I wasn't very hungry yet, thanks to my little breakfast, and my pretty lunch was waiting for me at my office, packed full of veggies and food cut into cute shapes. I knew I'd feel better afterward if I ate that instead of the pasta and cream sauces. (HAHAHAHA ORDER A SALAD WHAT IS THIS CRAZY TALK?) My bento was my treat, I realized, and suddenly nothing on the menu could compare.

breakfast, cute animals sidecar:

  • heart-shaped egg (with a small container of sea salt)
  • mandarin sections
  • fresh blackberries and raspberries

lunch, bento colors purple

  • mini sausages*
  • peas w/carrot shapes on top
  • two halves a star-shaped egg
  • corn
  • carrot sticks
  • green beans
  • mandarin sections
  • red grapes

all this time in her city, and I'm finally going to meet her

I'm headed to an SFWA event tonight which will include Ursula K. LeGuin speaking about writing, books, genre literature, and, I imagine, whatever else she darn well pleases. As the kids say today, I am excite!

I read The Earthsea Trilogy when I was, like, ten, and if I could locate the boxed set I had (stole borrowed inherited from my dad), I'd take it with me to be signed. Sadly, I suspect that it was lost in a move at some point. But I can still picture that set, and still remember discovering it on a weekend when I was looking for something new to read and browsing his bookcase. I came to a lot of books that way, now that I think about it....

breakfast, cute animals sidecar:

  • oatmeal
  • smidge of butter
  • maple syrup
  • raisins

lunch, Lunchbots Duo:

  • half sandwich -- pepper roasted turkey with mustard on sourdough
  • string cheese pieces as gap fillers
  • lettuce for the sandwich lining the box
  • Braeburn apple half
  • celery sticks and carrot pieces

distilling a personality with four simple letters

Today was another work retreat like the one we did last month. Which meant bringing in both a breakfast and lunch and again eating it while everyone else ordered from the restaurant menu. For someone who prefers not to call attention to herself, I've become remarkably ambivalent about this. Remarkable only to me, perhaps, but still.

We took one of those personality/temperament tests (a Myers-Briggs sort of test) as a team building exercise, and let me just say that I am apparently the most textbook case of the "Rational" temperament ever invented. I am, in fact, an INTJ, quantified in this particular test as a "Rational Mastermind". Which makes me sound like the most boringly benign super villain ever. Among other things, I:

  • have a temperament (Rational) considered rare (5% to 10% of the population) and a personality type (Mastermind) even more scarce (1% to 2% of the population). [No wonder I often feel like I'm from another planet.]
  • value logic and pragmatism above almost all else. [And that planet was apparently Vulcan.]
  • am ingenious, independent, strong-willed, and skeptical.
  • am generally even-tempered and goal-oriented. [Unless there's something good on TV.]
  • yearn for achievement and accomplishment. [A high score on the Scrabble game on my phone counts as an achievement, right?]
  • have an innate ability to grasp a project's necessary progression and understand how each step leads to the next.
  • prefer to stay in the background, reluctant to take command despite a skill for big picture thinking and focus on details. [HAHAHAHAHA TEST PEOPLE HOW DO YOU READ MY BRAIN WITHOUT A PROBE SCANNER THINGIE FROM A SCI-FI MOVIE.]
  • am fascinated with developing strategic plans for others to use. [Hello, my entire job.]
  • prefer a work environment where I can exercise intellectual freedom, am provided with challenging work, and have flexible hours, needing time to play at my own outside interests. [Otherwise, I get a little stabbity stabbity.]
  • am more comfortable alone than in a crowd, and if a job or social situation requires me to be outgoing or take center stage, I can soon become exhausted and need down time in a quiet place to rest and recharge. [SRSLY TEST PEOPLE YOU ARE KIND OF CREEPING ME OUT WITH YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF ME.]
  • draw energy from private, solitary activities, including reading, listening to music, and working by myself on my latest project or hobby.
  • crave closure and finality, as well as orderly procedure, and can be quick to make schedules, agendas, or timetables for myself or others to follow. [Excel is my woobie.]
  • feel unhappy or unsettled when my personal space is a mess. [HAHAHAHAHA NO REALLY]

There are actually 18 pages of details and charts in the report. My entire me-ness distilled into 18 pages with the accuracy of a DNA test. I read some of it to Sal last night and it was so spot on that he just started laughing. Somewhere around page three.

breakfast, cute animals sidecar:

  • cream cheese and barrel pickle in a sundried tomato wrap
  • Fuji apple chunk with an heirloom carrot garnish
  • peanut butter for dipping

lunch, Paris slimline:

  • honey-glazed red garnet yams, with a yam garnish
  • steamed broccoli
  • parmesan-breaded chicken breast
  • orzo pasta salad (mushrooms, roasted red peppers, caramelized onion, parsley, rosemary, and balsamic vinaigrette)
  • Fuji apple slices and heirloom carrot sticks
  • peanut butter for dipping with carrot garnish
  • yogurt covered raisins with carrot garnish

not a bad life, all in all

We managed to be surprisingly productive in spite of ourselves this weekend. We woke up late Saturday morning not really wanting to do the things on our to-do list, but decided we'd work for an hour, just an hour, and call it good. Two hours later, the dishes were done and half the laundry was folded. Hey, you take your victories where you can get them.

It was a beautiful, beautiful day and not wanting to miss out on the first sunny day in more than a week, we decided to knock another thing off our list by making a trip to Portland Nursery to get replacement pots for the two shrubs on our front porch. See? We can be downright efficient when we have half a mind to be.

Portland Nursery, fortuitously enough, was having a sale on all their pots and we got an additional discount on one of the pots we chose that had a chip in the rim. Easy peasy. We found a new restaurant in the area to try for an early supper, and spent the last hours of the day snuggled up in a cozy pub, with a view out the window, a pint (for him), and a tasty meal. I love our life.

lunch, black strawberry box:

  • stir fry -- beef, kale, spinach, carrots, red pepper, onion, broccoli, special sauce
  • half jasmine rice, half short grain brown rice
  • satsuma orange halves
  • Rancho Royale apple chunk
  • cashews and yogurt covered raisins

vacation's all i ever wanted

Hello, internets!! I have returned, you may rejoice! Or roll your eyes, that works, too.

So vacation is officially over and I am officially depressed. (not really) Nineteen days away from work is really the bestest invention ever and should be something I do every month. Ha ha, I kid. (no really, nobody fire me, kay?) The downside of nineteen days of vacation is the coming back part, which is decidedly not part of the bestest invention ever, but I knew that going into it, so.

yes, it's really a screenshot of my Inbox (we don't count the Sustainability folder since it's all from automated online mailing lists)But you know what else is also not the funnest thing ever invented? THE TWO HUNDRED AND SIXTEEN EMAIL MESSAGES WAITING IN MY INBOX THIS MORNING. Jesus H, people! Email in the workplace is srsly of the devil. I suppose I should be grateful(!) that I was gone when many people were also gone for various lengths of time for the holidays, because holy buckets I would not even want to contemplate the horrors. I'm hoping that half of that will be variations on "hey everyone I will be gone for the next 3/5/whatever days so long losers" and "oh yay vendors have brought holiday treats don't trample each other on the way to the kitchen" and thus deleted with no further effort. I AM VERY OPTIMISTIC IN THIS WAY. I kind of don't know yet how bad it is because I am feeling particularly avoidant today and thus haven't delved too deeply. Well, and I had meetings from the moment I walked in the door until, well, right now. Let's see, lunch or cleaning out my inbox...hmmm....

So, vacation! Was, as I mentioned, totally badass! It was a little more hectic at the start than either of us would've preferred due to some scheduling obligations, but nothing too traumatic. Things That I Did On My Vacation: A Thesis:

  • completed the creative room, woot woot! (now renamed officially to the studio, except on the web pages here because it would break all the links and I don't feel like fixing them all)
  • created our little hearts out in our creative room studio, woot woot! and left projects half-done, and all our stuff out, and it's totally okay because it's not in the middle of the kitchen or the living room and the cats can't get into any of it to chew on things and barf them back up and just generally yay for dedicated creative spaces!
  • did some writing on Book 2 in the new creative room studio; also, at the coast
  • made some way awesome presents for the homemade Christmas with our Smiley family, as mentioned in the last post (and yes, I still owe a write-up and pics of that...coming soon!)
  • finished Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which makes me sad because ye gods and little fishes that show is goddamn freaking awesome and joins the list of great shows that died too soon and I may now be madly in love with John Connor and his almost-human Summerbot and also also ALSO Sarah Connor the mother of us all and Derek Reese of the Reese clan and omg Shirley Manson still a Scottish badass and also in addition I need to see more John Henry playing D&D oh woe why why why was this show cancelled
  • went to the movies (saw Voyage of the Dawn Treader but still haven't seen Tangled so we're hoping we can fit it in next weekend before it's gone from the theaters)
  • played utterly ridic amounts of Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess on the Wii; in other news, we are hilariously behind on gaming trends (hahaha as if we have ever been up-to-date on gaming anything, we are srsly 124 years old)
  • got my website clients updated for January (those who sent me their updates, anyway) -- not really a vacation-y thing, but a considerable accomplishment considering my general attitude throughout vacation was "if it looks like work, then I'm not doing it, damn it"

a winter storm raged like a banshee the entire time we were at the coast, and of course the morning we left, it looked like this

  • spent four quite glorious days at the Oregon Coast
  • went out to eat at a new restaurant (Tasty & Sons); well actually, two, since we tried out Little Big Burger for the first time, as well
  • went to brunch on Alberta -- hahaha Tin Shed on any day of the week what was I thinking trying to get in for brunch? god bless Alberta's many coffee shop alternatives or we would have been hungry and thus cranky otherwise -- and then to Collage with Sal and managed not to buy everything in sight
  • started (finally) Wheel of Time: The Towers of Midnight and spent much happy time curled up with a satisfactorily heavy book either at the coast with a terrifically ferocious storm raging outside or at home in my terrifically cozy library; also, I have an addiction to adverbifying adjectives
  • slept in...like, a whole lot
  • did silly time-wasting things like playing an embarrassing amount of Angry Birds on my phone (what I don't even), for which I make no apologies because I freaking PWN that game, dude
  • oh yeah, and spent every available moment with my dear and beloved Sally Bear which was still not enough but way, way more time than we've had together in a long, long while

Our vacation clearly rocked it, I think we can all agree. There were a few things not done that we'd hoped to -- no LOTR marathon this year, unfortunately -- but there's no reason we can't do them anyway. It's going to take some time to get back into the routine of things, and there's always that period of the doldrums following a vacation, but it was worth it. Also, the cats have gotten WAY too used to having our attention practically 24/7 so I expect retaliation when I get home tonight. In other news, we live with terrorists.

And you know, we actually aren't planning to get back into the routine of things. We've long since decided -- and vacation was partly used for the planning of making this happen -- that we need to refocus our efforts on boundaries with the demands on our time versus spending our time in a way that's important to us. That refocus is something you just have to do on a regular basis, that resetting of boundaries, and we just haven't had a chance to catch our breath long enough to do it. So we did. Will. Are.

New Years' Resolutions? Nay nay, for we do not believe in them! Instead, these are Our Goals That Just Happen To Coincide With The Beginning Of A New Year No They Are Not Resolutions Shut Up. Anyway, 2011 will hopefully be a good year, better than 2010 was and it better be a damn sight better than 2009 or I'll demand a refund because holy crap, 2009 sucked it.

Anywhoodle, I'm back to work, back to posting, back to catching up on the past house projects so I can post on the creative room studio project, back to folding laundry and doing dishes and other illusions of responsibility, but in a new and revised format in which responsibilities and obligations get a portion of the pie than they were getting prior to vacation.

I'm also back to bentoing. I missed doing it, and I didn't. It was nice being all free spirit-y and lackadaisical about mealtimes and such, but I sure enjoy my pretty packed lunches, lo they give me great joy, Charlie Brown. Still, it's good to take a break sometimes, just so it stays fun and enjoyable instead of becoming another obligation, non?

lunch, Paris slimline:

  • jasmine rice with a stripe of peas
  • orange sections and Rancho Royale apple slices
  • Sal's custom blend of flavored nut mix (part of his homemade Christmas gifts)

special treat, cute animals sidecar:

  • sugar cookies Sal made for me last night as a special treat for my first day back to work, which he presented to me as bento animal cookies I KNOW RIGHT HE MADE ME HOMEMADE ANIMAL COOKIES HE WINS ALL THE AWARDS IN EXISTENCE

lol somewhat homely bento I maybe didn't put much effort into it. The protein part of the equation is a tad, um, lacking, but whatever, it's still a bento and it's still one more meal I'm neither skipping nor resorting to less healthy means for.


from a distance, we look like paragons of efficiency

Smaug and Hobbes, being their usual productive selves, which is to say IN ABSOLUTELY NO WAY WHATSOEVERProductive weekend, I'm happy to report. Which is a relief because I feel like there's a countdown clock hanging just over my shoulder -- as previously mentioned, I'm taking off the second half of December to coincide with Sal's winter break from school but there is much to be done in the next week and a half. Nonetheless, I feel like a kid looking forward to Christmas, or perhaps the way I did in college: excited to have a breather from the stress and homework and tests, but a shitload of difficult finals to get through first.

It started off on the right foot: not with work, but with fun. Friday, I met up with my friend Kim for coffee (well, hot chocolate, actually) and we spent a few hours catching up and trading info on cool creative things, tools, and new places to spend way more money than we should shop for all the things that make an artist's heart go pitter pat. So it's thanks to her that I was feeling energized enough to focus on website updates when I got home.

So I've completed a few more updates on the guest room and library projects from a few years ago. We're getting into the exciting stuff now, like neato decorative window films and painting the walls at last:

Library, Part 4: Fixing the Window & Wall

Guest & Creative Room, Part 4: Fixing the Windows & Ceiling

Guest & Creative Room, Part 5: Painting the Room

Note that the text is not the same for these posts, nor will they be from here on out.

I hope to have the painting in the library posted tonight; that was a far more dramatic change. It was fun to look through the pictures for these phases of the projects and remember all the little snags and interruptions we had to overcome, but to look at them knowing about the end result and how much we love the outcome. Or to relive the sense of accomplishment when we'd successfully completed a particularly challenging part (wall patch ftw!). One of the reasons I've been documenting all our home improvement (mis)adventures is to be able to go back and see how far we've come and to remember what it took to get to this point. As I've gone back through these pictures to get caught up on these two projects, but with a few years' distance, I'm reminded of all the hard work that went into them and each time I go into those rooms now, I have a renewed sense of pride in them. Also, how thankful I am that we got rid of that heinous pink.

Saturday, we got the paint for the creative room and I did the preliminary work on the aforementioned sooper sekrit project in preparation for (probably) painting this coming weekend. Sal had to do the transfer to secondary fermentation of his latest batch of beer (brewed last weekend). He also fixed the dripping faucets in the kitchen and bathroom, the broken handle on the toilet, and put in much-easier-to-use faucet handles in the utility sink in the basement. His trip to Home Depot for the hardware also included the purchase of nine(!) smoke/fire detectors and two carbon monoxide detectors so that we don't literally die in a fire. So yay, no house-induced death for us!

AND! We spent Saturday evening going through several boxes of papers and mementos that had accumulated in the eave closets, the product of needing to clean in a hurry -- for company, more often than not -- and throwing stuff we didn't have time for into a box "to go through later". Well "later" came Saturday night since I had to drag out some mementos boxes anyway to put away the things from the guest room that had been on display and stored in my old desk. We're not done, but we put a respectable dent in it.

Despite our weekend of industry (or perhaps because of it), the house looks like a wreck, but I should have time this weekend to instill some order. Nothing too catastrophic, thankfully. I do have to wrap up my website clients for the month (statistics analysis, final report, and invoicing), and I expect I'll be working some late nights right up until vacation starts in order to get the end-of-year programming done on the billing program, but at this point, I'm not in freakout mode. The fact that I'm still thinking I can fit in housework in the evenings indicates that I'm in not-yet-overwhelmed-but-possibly-a-tad-optimistic mode. Don't try this at home, kids.

And just to round out the list of accomplishments for the weekend, I got a breakfast AND lunch packed for today. I've been away from bento for a couple of weeks and I'm feeling it. There was the week of the holiday, of course, and I worked from home in the days leading up to it so no bento. Last week was occupied by visits from Corporate (the COO on Tuesday and one of the members of the Corporate IT Team at another division on Thursday) so I either was too busy in preparation to even get a drink of water (Monday) or joining them for lunch (Tuesday and Thursday). So again, no bento.

It's a testament to how little I go out for lunch, how infrequently I eat at chain restaurants, and how accustomed I am to my bentos that I didn't feel well at all last week. The restaurants were decent as chain restaurants go, but nothing about the meal felt good. Way too much food (I ended up leaving most of it on the plate, unfortunately, and I absolutely hate waste), much too heavy (even though I ordered a salad!), and the fruit and veggies didn't have as much flavor as I'm used to. Yes, I fear the worst has happened: I've become a food snob. :) I think in the future when I inevitably have to go for these Corporate lunches, I'll plan to pack a bento anyway to eat before/after and just order a small side of something for lunch.

Anyway, it's a relief to be back to a bento schedule. As I was packing today's, I initially felt a little rusty, like I was getting back on a bike after being away for awhile. Once I was done, I felt the familiar sense of comfort and assurance that I have something to eat tomorrow that I know will be good for me, that won't make me feel like chugging a bottle of Pepto afterward, and that gives me enough energy to get through the day. I know I go on and on about the wonders of bento and the difference it's made to my well-being, but I just can't overstate it enough.

breakfast, cute animals sidecar:

  • satsuma mandarin
  • red grapes
  • plain yogurt with a dollop of marionberry preserves


lunch, deli club:

  • chicken that Sal made for dinner Sunday -- he tucked slices of lemon under the skin and roasted it
  • roasted potates (olive oil, salt, pepper)
  • kiwi slices and red grapes
  • satsuma mandarin and the last of the dark chocolate covered raisins

Oh how I love the satsumas. Sal came home from the grocery store Saturday night bearing an entire box of them for me. I'll probably give myself a rash of canker sores from eating as many as I possibly can while they're in season, but it'll be worth it.


know when to fold 'em

We had a guy come yesterday to take measurements for doors to the attic eave closets so he can give us an estimate. There comes a time during renovation when you just have to call in the professionals, whether it's because you don't have the time for a particular project or you don't have the expertise. In this case, it's a combination of both. It's been five years since we finished the attic and we simply aren't going to get those damn doors done ourselves.

Of course, the danger with calling in the professionals is if they do a good job, it's tempting to just hand over your entire To Do list and a blank check....

breakfast, cute animals sidecar:

  • oatmeal
  • raisins
  • pears cooked with brown sugar and cinnamon in the mini sidecar (to be mixed in with the oatmeal and raisins)

lunch, black strawberry:

  • sushi using carrot and cucumber strips
  • shrimp sauteed with a bit of butter, sea salt, and fresh garlic on a bed of wilted kale salad (After the shrimp was done, I deglazed the pan with a little clam juice and then tossed some fresh kale in there to soak up the flavors for a nice little wilted salad.)
  • grapes and green string beans with a fan of leftover carrot strips for a little garnish
  • half a molded (and purple dyed) egg -- it came out lopsided when I molded it, and it was a tad too small so it didn't mold very well...c'est la vie

a day late, but hopefully i still have all my dollars

Yesterday's lunch, but I was having trouble accessing the site (still trying to figure out what's up with that...sorry, guys) and then just got too busy.

breakfast, cute animals sidecar:

  • half Bartlett pear
  • Rainier apple
  • grapes
  • kiwi berries


lunch, blue bunny & moons:

  • cucumber slices in apple cider vinegar (with a cucumber heart on top!) in the silicone cup
  • star molded egg, cut in half and a wee baked potato with an itty sprig of rosemary, with mini smoked sausages underneath
  • tiny squares of rosemary cheddar on the skewers
  • Rainier apple slices, kiwi berries, grapes
  • the other half of the Bartlett pear, with cashews as gap filler

the sea sings to her in wind tossed whispers

Hello friends and internet denizens! We have returned from our Fall Getaway, our annual September-ish escape to our Oceanside hideaway for an extended weekend. For those following along at home, we make this trek at least four times a year -- extended weekends in spring and fall, longer vacations in the winter and summer. We try to make it to the coast at other times, too, even if only for the day, but having those four getaways proverbially circled in red in on our electronic calendars are our talismans against the humdrum of life that can wear a soul down with routine. Of course, returning to said routine can be a bit harder in those initial days, but it's a price worth paying.

From Friday night until Monday morning, we escaped to a cozy little cabin and holed up together while weather raged outside. It was a particularly -- awesomely -- stormy weekend, with buckets of rain and intermittent wind, yet freakishly warm. Especially for the coast.

We didn't bother taking a whole lot of pics since it was mostly gray, gray, and gray (though beautiful!). But the sun did peek out for a brief time near sunset, because even Nature isn't above showing off from time to time. So we did snag a few to memorialize yet another wonderful retreat to our beloved Oregon Coast.

It all made for the perfect atmosphere for curling up under blankets and watching movies and reading books and nibbling on many yummy things. Hence my lunch today....

breakfast, pink strawberry sidecar:

  • Honeycrisp apple
  • Bartlett pear
  • Reliance grapes


lunch, laptop lunch:

  • meats: Niman Ranch ham, herb roasted turkey breast, Applegate Farms pepperoni; cheeses: Mahon, Jarlsberg, gouda, smoked mozzarella, Cotswold, maple smoked cheddar, Dubliner
  • French batard slices and carrot sticks
  • more French batard
  • Honeycrisp apple and Reliance grapes

ahoy, mateys!

Sunday be International Talk Like a Pirate Day, the finest holiday o' the year!

If yer lookin' to buckle yer swashes, heave to the starboard side fer the 5th Annual Portland Pirate Festival! Ye olde festival be this weekend in me own port-of-call, Cathedral Park (under ye olde St. Johns Bridge). Bring all yer landlubbin' mateys fer a weekend o' singin' sea shanties, plunderin' fer treasure, and drinkin' down the best grog o' the Seven Seas. Thar be lots more swashbucklin fer the whole crew (even the littlest scalawags) and ye can even shiver yer timbers with an actual ship-to-shore cannon battle! Hope to see ye thar, ye scurvy dogs...ARRRR!

[BTW: Having trouble accessing our site the last few days? Have you been getting an error when you try it during the day, and then it'll work later in the day/evening? Yeah, I don't know what's up with that but I'm trying to sort it out. In the meantime, please bear with me and keep checking back...we're still here, I promise!]

I haven't been posting pictures of breakfasts lately since I've ended up eating them in meetings a lot recently, and get enough grief about my "fancy meals" as it is without snapping pics of my food with everyone sitting there at the conference table. (Well, grief isn't the right word. There sure is a lot of interest whenever I open my bento boxes, though. One coworker even comes into my office for the unveiling each day...I think she'll be purchasing her first box any day now. Muwhahahahahaha....)

breakfast, cute animals sidecar:

  • heart molded egg -- well mangled egg, really...the shell broke while I was boiling it and I had trouble getting the shell off when I was peeling it, so
  • apple slices -- no idea of the variety...Chris and Nolan picked apples at one of the old public apple trees on Sauvie Island and included them in this week's shares as a treat
  • cashews and raisins

lunch, black strawberry:

  • star molded egg
  • smoked sausages
  • rainbow carrots
  • cherry and lemon drop tomatoes
  • apple slices
  • maple smoked cheddar
  • cashews and dark chocolate raisins

Yesterday was overcast all day like it would be for rain, but there was none and the air was heavy and muggy. It finally started sprinkling a bit late in the afternoon, and by early evening, was steady. And then last night...oh, last night. Steady and heavy, but the air so incredibly temperate and fresh that I had every window in the house thrown open as far as it would go. This, this is the weather I love the best, in the season I love the best. I baked chocolate chip cookies and sat at the kitchen table with the door open to the back porch, listening to the sound of the rain in the trees while I worked on my art journal.

It should come as a surprise to no one that I'm a water sign.


back to work

The sucky thing about vacation is the part where it's over and you have to go back to being all responsible and stuff. That part blows.

I was actually back to work yesterday, but it was a work-from-home day, so no bento. It seems rather strange to have gone two weeks without making one (I didn't really, but more about that soon in another post). Plus, it's hot, which means I don't have a lot of energy for either making dinner/lunch or for eating, so I'm keeping it simple.

Breakfast, pink strawberry sidecar:

  • homemade blueberry muffins (yes, made with fresh berries! that I made!)
  • cherries

Lunch, pink natural lunch:

  • red oak lettuce
  • "sneak preview" carrots from this week's share (as in: not quite ready yet, but they pulled a few to get us excited for the carrots in the upcoming weeks)
  • broccoli -- can you tell it's my favorite veggie?
  • sugar snaps
  • molded egg
  • sweet vinaigrette underneath the broccoli to make it all kind of a salad thing (see? the heat makes me even lazier than usual!)

Everything in this box except for the vinaigrette is from this week's share.

Lunch/snack, cute animals sidecar:

  • cherries
  • raspberries
  • strawberries (sadly, not Oregon!strawberries)
  • blueberries

Everything in this box is from this week's organics bin. If you're thinking to yourself, "Wow, that's a lot of produce", YES THAT IS A LOT OF PRODUCE YOU SHOULD COME VISIT SO WE CAN PAWN IT OFF ON YOU.

And in the Portland Is Eternally Awesome Department, Reason #65,172:

Portland Officially has the Greatest Hold Music in the World


fruity goodness and developer badness

Making up for yesterday's wee bit o' decadence with fruit, fruit, and more fruit. Froooooooot! (Actually, the fruit bin arrived last night and holy crap! We have a lot of fruit to eat up! I see smoothies in our future for a late night treat.)


  • Oregon! strawberries
  • blueberries
  • Rainier cherries
  • grapes


  • stir fry -- red kale, Italian lacinato kale, French sorrell, Swiss chard, turnips, onion, garlic, lemongrass, bamboo shoots, peanuts, carrots, beef, special sauce
  • jasmine rice
  • Oregon! strawberries and Rainier cherries with blueberries and grapes as gap fillers

In house-related news...we lost the fight against Douchebag Developer. It didn't come as a surprise -- this time around was even more of a long-shot than last time, which is really saying something, and the fight was less organized this time around. Which isn't anyone's fault -- there just wasn't much of anything to get a toehold on to dispute. Still a disappointment, though. I would've loved to have someone buy that little house and fix it up. What a shame.

So instead, it's going to get razed to the ground and in its place will be 8 townhomes with one of those shitty central driveways that craptastic developers put in and everyone swears will allow even the biggest gas-guzzling behemoth to navigate into and out of, but which will do nothing but ensure that said behemoths will be parking on the street. To say nothing of the view the building will be blocking, nor this developer's horrible record of half-assed construction that takes so long to sell that units sit empty forever, and then when they do sell eventually (or become rentals), end up in defect litigation.

I'm still boggled that he's pushing a development in the current market. And one of his typically crappy developments, at that. What a douchebag. But I guess once they're built and sold, we'll finally be rid of him and his douchebaggery and won't have to sit in the same room with his stupid smirk ever again.


stir fry deliciousness

We had some kale, bok choy, and turnips from our share to use up before tomorrow's new share arrives, so we did a stir fry for dinner last night. When we use the wok, we use Sally's burner that he heats the big kettle with for brewing beer, since A) it gets the kind of heat a wok needs, and B) we don't an overhead vent for our stove. That means doing it outside, which is fun.

For those of you not living here, however, you may not know that this has been one of the coldest, wettest springs in a long time, and June has broken all kinds of records for rainfall and low temps. Yesterday was no different -- gray and damp though it wasn't cold, just cool. Our timing was perfect, though, because we happened to be outside with the wok between drizzle spells. And it was the perfect weather for curling up on the couch with hot bowls of stir fry and rice and catching up on our Netflix discs (the end of Season 5 of Weeds, in this case).

Anyway, today's bento benefits from golden stir fry deliciousness.  Too bad my cameraphone does it little justice.

Breakfast -- cute animals sidecar:

  • honey vanilla granola
  • mini sidecar with plain honey yogurt and a dollop of strawberry jam

Lunch -- Ms. Bento:

  • stir fry -- onions, scallions, lemongrass, turnips, chicken, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, kale, bok choy, sesame seeds, peanuts, and secret sauce
  • jasmine rice
  • fresh mango in one half, Fuji apple slices in the other half with fresh blueberries as gap fillers