Motivational Monday…beauty

You ALWAYS have a choice to see the beauty or to see the ugly.

Choose the beauty, the good intention, the kind gesture, and the promise of a hopeful tomorrow. Forever an optimist.

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

Motivational Monday…Comfort and Fear

A ship in the harbor is safe…but that is not what ships are for.

“Habit, laziness and fear conspire to keep us comfortably within the familiar”…Jane Hirshfield

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”…Neale Donald Walsch

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

Foodie Friday…you’re making me cry!

The onions are that is! LOL..I crack myself up!

My sister-in-law, Doreen, sent me a recipe for Roasted Chicken with Classic or Curry Soubise from Serious Eats….that she’d had at a friend’s home, so I decided to try it. I didn’t have any chicken at the time, but I had shrimp, so I thought why not just make the sauce for the shrimp instead…and it was great! This set me off on a week-long onion-obsessed food fest!

Here’s the recipe from Serious Eats for just the Soubise…aka onion sauce….how did I not know about this recipe sooner!!


2 TB butter
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups heavy cream (I didn’t use this much…but I also used less onions ’cause it’s just me)
1 tsp curry powder (optional)

Melt butter over medium heat until foaming. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and most liquid has evaporated,  about 20 minutes. Stir in the cream and simmer for 5 minutes.

Transfer the hot onion & cream to a blender (I used my nutri-bullet) and blend, starting at low speed and gradually increasing to high, until smooth. The texture should be thicker than most sauces, but not a puree. You can pass it through a fine-mess strainer if you want it creamier. The recipe has the optional 1 tsp curry powder that I really liked (it gives it just a hint of curry spice flavor..not overpowering at all), but also made it later in the week without the curry and it was just as good…and one I’m going to make it for my next steak dinner, that I anticipate will be DElish!

My sister, Mariellen, got me the new Chrissy Teigen cookbook, Cravings: Hungry for More. It’s not just a really good recipe book, but she is so F-ing funny that her commentary is priceless…example: she adds “DFWI” in her instructions on some recipes “Don’t Fuck With It!” I had so much fun just reading it…and every recipe looks good!

So as I was going through it, I saw on page 130 a recipe for “Crispy Shallots & Shallot Oil” that intrigued me….and the picture looked amazing. It’s so easy that I’ve literally made them three times this past week, and experimented with regular onions and garlic too.

Here you go…

1 cup thinly sliced shallots
1 cup canola oil
kosher salt

Scatter shallots evenly in an 8×8 glass dish (pyrex). Pour the oil over the shallots and microwave on high until the shallots are browned and crispy, 6-8 minutes. Quickly, and carefully, drain the shallots in a fine mesh sieve set over a bowl to catch the oil. Transfer shallots to paper towels and season with salt. Let cool completely.

The recipe says they’ll keep for a week in an airtight container, but I never have any leftover to store…they are that good! The oil is great for salads..or pizza…store in fridge.

Here are my tweeks to the recipe. I didn’t measure anything because I didn’t have a cup of shallots, so I just poured oil over to coat them (a cup seems like a lot). I love them so much that I thought…why not regular onions…or garlic. I did both! The regular onions were great and the garlic is good and crispy, but a little more bitter than when I fry them in a saucepan really slowly. I think they’ll still be good for pizza monday and the onions are amazing on pizza! 6-9 minutes was too much for my microwave…and I used less shallots…so here are the times I used for all three.

Shallots…5 minutes (remove immediately from oil…or 4 1/2 minutes and let them continue to cook a bit in the hot oil.)
Onions…7 1/2 minutes
Garlic…3 1/2 to 4 minutes

Just remember that the oil is hot and they’ll continue to cook after you remove from microwave….so remove from oil right away or let them simmer a bit if they’re not quite done.

Here’s the shrimp with soubise…with crispy shallots sprinkled on top…YUMMYYYY!

Bon Appetit!

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!


Our last day in Portland took us to the breathtaking Columbia River Gorge! We rented a car for the scenic drive along the Columbia River, which cuts through the Cascade Mountains, with numerous stops to take in the views and gaze at the multitude of waterfalls.

Our first stop is the view from The Portland Women’s Forum…recommended by our Uber driver the day before as the best place to start our sightseeing.
that’s the Vista House on the next mountain over…a memorial to Oregon pioneers and a place of rest for travelers.

Multnomah Falls...the most popular of all the places to stop along the way. (pic by Val)…where you can have lunch or just coffee in a beautiful stone Lodge. There’s a gift shop too. I’d recommend getting there very early, because the parking fills ups pretty quick (we arrived around 11:30 and I waited in the car while Val & Jan ran up to take pics…but I could hear the roar of the water)

We stopped at the Bonneville Fish Hatchery…another rec from the Uber driver…where they raise Chinook and coho salmon. They also have viewing ponds of rainbow trout and sturgeon…pretty interesting place!

notice the new Doc Martens…made in Portland!
feeding the rainbow trout

path to the underwater sturgeon viewing area

Stopped in Hood River for lunch before making our way back to Portland

some really good fries at this place…recommended by a local we had met at the Portland Women’s Forum

Our final meal of the trip was on New Year’s Eve at the rooftop bar, Portland City Grill, with 360 views of Portland and the surrounding areas, as well as distant views of Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens and Mount Rainier. We just ordered wine and appetizers and then stopped on the way home at Afuri…those dumplings are delish!!

Mount Hood (the pics of Rainier & St Helens were too far in the distance for a decent pic)

Portland is also a very artsy area, so here are some cool murals and random sculptures we stumbled upon around town…

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!


I’ve actually never watched the show Portlandia, but it seemed like an apropos title.

We arrived late at night on Dec. 27th and settled into our Airbnb in the Ladd’s Edition area of Portland, Oregon. We woke to a normal, cloudy Portland, day and walked around this adorable neighborhood on our way to a yummy breakfast at Junior’s Cafe. Ladd’s Edition is made up of four quadrants, each anchored by a beautiful rose garden. We were wondering who takes care of all those roses?? We were so happy to get some cold, rainy weather…wearing gloves & jackets.. and loved strolling by the charming area homes.

One of the first things the waitress at Junior’s told us, after we said we were visiting from California, was (I’m paraphrasing) ‘say you’re from Idaho, Portland people are not happy with all the Californians that are coming and changing our way of life.’ It was kind of funny, but we heard the same throughout our trip from Uber drivers, etc…but everyone was super nice, and I think, happy, that we weren’t planning on moving there.

Our trip can be described as shopping and eating…neither disappointed!! Here’s a rundown, with pictures of all the areas & restaurants we visited…

Pearl District…Powell’s books, Deschutes Brewery (shared a crab roll with fries), Doc Martens…

On the recommendation of my friend/neighbor, Breanna, we made reservations at a cool place called Beast. There are only two sittings of a six course prix fixe menu, served on long communal tables. I didn’t want to be totally obnoxious, so only took a couple of pics of the amazing food. I would highly recommend!!

marinated dungeness crab, lobster-citrus sabayonne, picked fennel, tarragon sauce gribiche, finger lime
chocolate date cake, brillat-savarin ice cream, cara-cara orange chocolate sauce, pistachios

random multiple mini santas display

Day 2 was NW 23rd St shopping & more eating…we agreed this was the cutest street and reminded us of Union St. in SF. Made a stop in at Kell’s pub to watch the Notre Dame game (disappointing), then Afuri for dumplings & ramen on the recommendation of Val’s cousin…(I think we did over 20,000 steps this day)

Day 3…Jan visited with her cousin, who lives locally, while Val and I hit the store Urbanite, which had a cool vibe and was an eclectic mix of all things for the home, then on to Mississippi St for some strolling (not as charming as NW 23rd) We met up with Jan on Hawthorne St. for more strolling, shopping, a stop in a pub for more football…before finishing off the day with yet another amazing meal at Trifecta , also recommended by Val’s cousin….

one of the many food truck pods throughout Portland

….time to rest up for our last day, where we drive out to witness the beauty of the Columbia River Gorge…stay tuned!!

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

Motivational Monday…the purpose of life

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

Friday Fun Project…book folding!

there’s a cute family story about the backwards Noel on top

I saw this idea in a magazine over a year ago and then went on Etsy to check them out and possibly buy an already finished one. At the time they were over $100 and I just never followed through on the purchase. A few weeks ago I was at my friend/neighbor Kym’s home….so unbelievably talented…and saw this (above) in her hallway. Not only is the book that’s folded cute, but she took other books and worked them into the frame around the book. So clever!!.

Of course, she made it herself, and I told her I wanted to do one. We decided to make it a group neighborhood project. We had a preliminary meeting of eight or so of us, with Kym giving us the logistics of the project and what we’d need before proceeding. Here’s the list…

pattern …she recommended the Etsy site for easy templates, but there are so many options on Etsy. They’re easy to download and give you the info of what you’ll need in regards to book size, how many pages, etc…. I did like this site because there was no measuring, like some of the templates require.

book…I had quite a few and then went to the library bookstore to get some old inexpensive ones that had interesting inside covers. As Kym instructed, if the inside book cover is boring you can just use contact paper, wallpaper or some other pattern to make it more interesting/fun….or you can just leave the excess pages unfolded.

large hair bands…these came in very handy to hold the folded pages while you were working on the book.

ruler & reading glasses (optional)…you only need these if you download your pattern from a site that requires measuring , as opposed to an easy template…and the glasses are only necessary for those of a certain age!

One of the most important things is making sure you’re starting in the right spot at the beginning of your book, because there are blank pages or un-numbered pages before, after and sometimes throughout the book that you need to account for. I won’t give the whole tutorial here because it’s a bit confusing to explain, but, trust me, follow the instructions so you’re book looks even.

We got together the Friday before Christmas and sat for a few hours folding and helping one another to get the hang of it. Everyone took theirs home to finish.

Here are a few of the finished masterpieces….

Maggie’s masterpiece…an example of leaving the extra pages unfolded…so cute!


Breanna’s masterpiece…there are templates for animals, letters, favorite team logos…the possibilities are endless!
Carre’s masterpiece…cleverly placed in her bookshelf!
My finished product…because FAMILY is everything!

I can’t wait to do another one, just because it’s fun, but also, as I said, it’s like a puzzle or knitting…so exciting to see the progress as your going and the finished product is so satisfying.

Have a great weekend!

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

Motivational Monday….JOY

“If you’re not having a good time, find something else that gives you some joy in life.” — Penny Marshall (RIP)

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!