Another Year, Another Birthday

I love the first few months of a new year. The holiday chaos is over and fresh starts are quite welcoming, even if they don’t last very long. What I really enjoy though is birthdays! Tim celebrated his in January and I celebrated mine last week. We definitely get our fair share of sweet treats and full day adventures during birthday time. It’s not uncommon to let our small festivities last longer than a day. That’s normal, right?

Anyway, I turned 36. Even though I am creeping slowly toward the big 4-0, I still feel like a kid. I doubt I will ever feel like an adult – well, except when I have to pay bills and make serious decisions about stuff. But otherwise, I still love swings, cookies, throwing snowballs, and sleeping late.

We set off early on my special day for a hike in the always gorgeous Oregon wilderness. While we didn’t expect to encounter snow, we did. It wasn’t enough to deter our hike. We even brought along birthday cupcakes. Tim was a champ and baked the cupcakes with my gentle supervision (heĀ almost forgot the salt!). I frosted them and we ate the entire dozen over the course of a week. Here are a few highlights from the hike:

Amy Hiking 02

Starting off on our hike in the snow.

Salmon River 02

The Salmon River, which parallels nearly the entire hike.

Nurse Log 02

A nurse log: Nurse logs are fallen trees that provide nutrients for new forest growth! You can see three trees have grown on top of this one. It’s so fascinating!

Cupcakes 02

Birthday cupcakes on a log! These were orange cupcakes with vanilla frosting and they were delicious.

Amy and Cupcake 02

Enjoying a cupcake

Tim and Cupcake 02

I’m not sure who loved the cupcakes more! After our hike we went out to dinner and then home for a relaxing night of watching Cheers and eating more cupcakes. Perfect day.

Celebrating a Birthday

Tim’s birthday was Thursday. We spent a good percentage of the week celebrating because birthday fun should always last at least a few days! The excitement kicked off on Tuesday with a snowshoeing adventure in Mt. Hood National Forest. We took along our friends and enjoyed a day in gorgeous, warming sunshine.

Lower Twin Lake 01

We stopped for lunch (and a hefty dose of much-needed vitamin D!) at the frozen, but beautiful Lower Twin Lake. While we were eating, a curious gray jay landed on my friend’s head – perhaps mistaking her for a mound of snow.

Emiko and a Birdie

When Thursday rolled around, Tim and I headed for the central Oregon coast. The optimal time to visit is during winter because crowds are non-existant and you end up having a massive stretch of beach all to yourself. We spent two hours in pure solitude near Three Arch Rocks National Wildlife Refuge.

Ocean 04

Tim loves recording nature sounds and took advantage of a low wind day to capture the waves ebbing and flowing.

Tim and the Ocean 03

I goofed around,

Cartwheelin' 02

and wrote messages in the sand.

Happy Birthday 02

We wandered to a different portion of the coast and watched people come and go.

Ocean 03

Once back in Portland, we stopped at the downtown Veggie Grill for Tim’s birthday meal (they have a birthday club and if you join, you get a free entree on your special day!). The food was delicious. The photographs didn’t turn out very well, but… There was homemade birthday cake later in the evening!

Cake 01

Double chocolate layer cake with chocolate ganache filling, chocolate frosting, and chocolate curls sprinkled on top. It was… chocolaty! That ends Tim’s birthday celebrations!

Birthday Cupcakes

My attempt to reduce my sugar intake isn’t going as well as planned:

Purple Cow Cupcakes (grape cupcakes with vanilla bean frosting)

Today was my 34th birthday. I am not one to have big celebrations. In fact, I am quite the opposite. Tim and I enjoyed a long bike ride under sunny skies and lunch at our favorite vegan cafe. We visited with our good friend, Kittee. We played Bananagrams. And we made Purple Cow Cupcakes. Tim baked the cupcakes (prettiest cupcakes I’ve seen in a long time!) and I took care of the frosting. I wanted a birthday treat that was different and these cupcakes happily filled my wishes. The recipe is in The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life, courtesy of Hannah Kaminsky.

My day is slowly coming to a close and I hardly feel any older. I mean, I got tater tots, a wind-up toy snail, maple syrup, bubble gum lip balm, and hair holders for my birthday. Seriously, I will always be a kid at heart :)

Birthday Adventures

Yesterday was Tim’s 34th birthday. We awoke to unusually sunny skies and temperatures nearing 60 degrees – ideal for a bike ride and lunch at our favorite Portland cafe, Proper Eats. I was fooled into thinking spring had arrived early! Although I think the ridiculous headwind we pedaled into for the first half of our bike ride made me realize winter is holding steady. Check out the clouds looming over downtown Portland:

Onward we pedaled…

Proper Eats is a cozy, welcoming place with super kind folks cooking and serving delicious food. The menu is entirely vegetarian (mostly vegan). They support local farmers, businesses, distributors, and artists. I’ve never had a disappointing meal at Proper Eats and the food is so healthy, nourishing, and well-priced. There is a small grocery/bulk foods section at the front of the cafe. The kitchen is open so you can watch people preparing your food – I love that!

It’s challenging trying to capture decent food photos in eateries (especially with low light conditions). Here is what we enjoyed:

Collard Wraps served with Carrot-Ginger Dressing

Potato & Garlic Soup

Spinach Salad w/ Carrot-Ginger Dressing (and local hazelnuts and cranberries!)

Tempeh Reuben (the only thing Tim ever orders at Proper Eats, it’s his favorite sammie)

The bike ride home was easier since we were riding with the wind (and fueled by yummy foods). When we got back to our place we decided it was okay to have some birthday cake a bit early. This poor cake had a traumatic day – it stuck to my cooling rack, cracked in half as a result, and then stuck to the serving plate. What a stinker! The issue of the naughty cake was resolved and disguised with peanut butter filling and chocolate ganache (plus a side of Coconut Bliss ice cream!).

Tim demands pizza for dinner weekly. His birthday was no exception. He kept reminding me over the weekend to make the dough. We learned from a friend that making the dough several days ahead of time and putting it in the fridge (no rising) creates a chewy, crisp-on-the-bottom, pizza. Just remember to let the dough rest on the counter a few hours before you plan to make your pizza.

And then, of course, we enjoyed more cake and Coconut Bliss after dinner. It was a good day.