Winter Wonderland

Sadly it didn’t really snow much in Portland today (but there were flakes falling for maybe 10 minutes!). The photo above is from a snowshoe trip Tim and I took this afternoon. We chose a short 5-6 mile trail that passes two lakes. This is Upper Twin Lake. We enjoyed complete solitude until the last mile of the trail. It was freezing, but worth every step! We were visited by several Gray Jays, one who happily perched on a branch for at least 15 minutes while I snapped his photo (with ever-increasing numb fingers):

I love how you can see his little feet poking out from under his fluffed-up feathers. So sweet!

After snowshoeing, we drove back to Portland so we could head over to Herbivore to meet Melisser, the author of The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life. I filled my pockets with crackers (it’s a terrible addiction, me and the cracker) from the snack table and chatted briefly with Melisser and Kittee. Kittee made some incredible cookies for the book signing event:

Carrot Cake Cookies with Candied Ginger and Cream Cheese Frosting! Oooooh yeah. The recipe is adapted from a great little cookbook called Cookies for Everyone. Check out Kittee’s post on the cookies because her photos are much better and super close-up so you can experience cookie envy.



Soup Overflow

The sun was shining brightly in Portland today but it just might snow tomorrow! It rarely snows here and I get incredibly excited when the fluffy white flakes do fall. I grew up near Lake Erie in Pennsylvania where snow in the winter meant building snow caves in the backyard, sledding down steep hills, cross country skiing around the house, and suiting up in multiple layers of cozy (hand-me-down) winter apparel. Regardless of whether or not it snows, Tim and I have plans to go snowshoeing near Mt. Hood. In the meantime, we are fueling up on soup (more soup!) and sandwiches from Sweetpea Baking Company. We received a gift certificate for the holidays and have been enjoying bike rides over to Sweetpea for lunch.

Over the weekend we feasted on Greek Lentil Soup (my choice) and the Schwegmann, a double-decker grilled cheese sandwich (Tim’s choice, although I had several monster-sized nibbles).

I seem to have mastered the skill of taking crooked photographs! I blame my crooked shoulders.

Today we had Creamy Sweet Potato Soup and the Wilson Brothers Sandwich (thinly sliced seitan and grilled onions served with au jus). Both were excellent!

Oh, and Tim had a Chocolate Pudding Tart for dessert.

Keep your fingers crossed for snow tomorrow!

Soup it Up

It’s no secret that chilly weather and soup complement one another nicely. I love soup for two main reasons:  (1) it is incredibly easy to make, and (2) you can enjoy it with bread/rolls. I suppose the fact that it is nurturing, warming, and delicious helps too.

I gave Tim a copy of Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry for Christmas and we have been enjoying some of the recipes over the last few weeks. One of our favorites was the Potato Rosemary Soup. We halved the recipe and had enough for several meals. The portions were generous too. Yukon potatoes made the soup a beautiful, bright yellow and the subtle rosemary flavor was just perfect. If you own Vegan Soul Kitchen, I recommend making this soup – it’s thick, creamy, filling, and fantastic! Tim used to hate soup and every time we make soup he claims the current bowl his new favorite. Right now, this soup is his favorite.

Hope you are all keeping warm and cozy (at least in the Northern hemisphere)!

Which Way to the Whales

Winter is the time of year when whales migrate south to warmer waters (for birthing and mating) and the Oregon coast is a great place to spot them in their travels. Several years ago Tim and I were hiking on the coast and Tim spotted a whale off in the (far) distance. At the time, we didn’t know it was whale migrating season. It was awesome because we had complete solitude while we ate our lunch and watched whales!

We decided over the weekend that another whale watching experience was necessary. So, on Monday we drove to the Oregon coast with fingers crossed. Unfortunately, we didn’t spot a single whale (it requires keen eyes and patience). The weather was beautiful though, sunny and relatively warm. We made good use of our time by hiking on near-empty beaches, exploring tide pools, taking lots of pictures, and snacking on homemade bagels with savory spread. We even found a tiny natural foods store in one coastal town that was stocked with vegan treasures!! They even had Newman O’s but I restrained myself!! Overall it was a relaxing, peaceful, fulfilling day.

I am determined to spot some whales when they migrate back to Alaskan waters in March.

Choosing Goals

Happy New Year, everybody!

I rarely make a list of what I hope to accomplish when the new year strikes. But for some reason, I decided I needed an extra push this year. Unemployment has left me with plenty of time to think about what makes me happy (and unhappy). I need some positive energy in my life and that can only be accomplished by being productive with my time and immersing myself in activities I enjoy – while challenging myself and learning at the same time. Here is my list:

1. Take 365 photographs (one good quality photograph per day) –  I want to learn to see more creatively and compose my photographs better.

2. Ride my bike 3,000 miles (not all at once!) – Cycling is one of my favorite forms of exercise. Over the summer I was averaging 75 miles per week. I think this is a very attainable goal, and I hope to surpass it if possible!

3. Travel – Often traveling for Tim and I means driving someplace cool and going on an extended backpacking trip. That’s perfectly acceptable, but we never really take a vacation where we just relax, explore a new city, and eat lots of yummy vegan food. I would love to go to San Francisco or Vancouver, British Columbia.

4. Write my cookbook (or a cookzine) – My motivation for my brownie cookbook is constantly changing. I lost interest for several months. I am considering turning it into a zine, or writing an outdoor adventure cookzine.

5. Learn to knit with circular needles – My friend Kittee is going to teach me how to use my circular knitting needles. I am not an advanced knitter, but it would be nice to explore patterns beyond scarves and dishcloths!!

6. Summit Mt. Saint Helens with Tim – We have talked about doing this for years. I think it’s about time we commit! Expect photos once this goal is accomplished!!

7. Find a job – This might be the hardest goal on my list. I’m not sure what I want to do and social anxiety is a nasty obstacle.

8. Be less negative – I am going to work at this one every day. I need to be more optimistic. My natural scowl shall disappear by the end of the year!!

9. Read more books – Lately cookbooks are my novels of choice. I used to read quite a bit, but stopped for some reason. This needs to change.

10. Eat less sugar – I have a major sweet tooth. My sugar intake can get out of control because baking is my greatest passion. Tim and are I are working on this one together :)

11. Visit/explore a National Park – Tim and I hike/backpack a lot. Would you believe we have never been to a National Park? It will be difficult to choose just one, but California boasts plenty of options so we wouldn’t have to travel too far.

Wish me luck!

What are some of your most challenging goals for the new year?