13 July 2014

I've been participating in the 100 Happy Days challenge on instagram for the past few months and I just completed all 100 days!

It's been a really enlightening challenge. I feel like gratitude and appreciation of the small things is something that I have worked really hard to make a central theme in my life because I genuinely feel like it makes me a happier and better person.

It's been a rough start for this year. I lost my job and got brain surgery in January and that took a real toll on my heart this year. Shortly after surgery, I realized that I was lucky to have support system and to be recovering so quickly and so well. There was a lot of stress, but there was also a lot to be grateful for.

I started the 100 Happy Days challenge on March 24th and ended on July 4th. I missed a few days so it did take a few more than 100 days to finish. It was a really powerful experience to try to remember everyday to find some small thing to share and document that made me happy...even in the most boring or grumpy days, I had to look deep for something which helped refocus me and helped me to have less of those days that linger on.

It's incredible what I've done in 100 days. My life has changed so much in such a short time and it's so cool to have this to document it.

 Some of my favorite highlights from the past 100 happy days...

+Thailand! Obviously that's a huge one! Tigers, elephants, food, beautiful views. Amazing.
+Hosted a sweet pair of foster kittens for a few weeks until they could be adopted
+Lots of wonderful garden progress
+Beautiful meals with friends
+Watching Macaulay Culkin sing songs about pizza
+Reconnecting with an old friend
+Co-hosted a bridal shower and standing by a friend as she married the love of her life
+Lots and lots of canned good and canning swaps
+A trip to New York City
+A picnic in the park
+Celebrated two of my favorite people's birthdays
+Made some incredible meals that I'm proud of and happy I got to share
+Ended on a fantastic weekend adventure to the Oregon coast with a dear friend

Have you tried the happy days project or something like it?

Perfectly Portland : A 4th of July Trip to the Oregon Coast

08 July 2014

I hope you all had an amazing holiday weekend!

4th of July has never been all that big of a deal in my life I suppose, we never had many traditions to celebrate growing up. This year was a little different, this year was a chance to take a road trip to see some beautiful small town traditions.

A dear friend invited me on a weekend getaway to her hometown of Lincoln City, OR.  It is about a 2 hour drive from Portland.  I got the chance to spend a couple of days enjoying the small towns of the Oregon Coast and the darling little 4th of July activities that came along with them.

Friday afternoon was spent in Glendon Beach, where we shopped some handmade crafts and watched a cute DIY parade that the town puts on every year. Instead of the fancy million dollar floats you might see at big parades, this charming little town encourages anyone and everyone to participate with classic cars, costumes, dance routines, etc. It was a really sweet tradition that I was lucky to be able to check out.

That night, we watched fireworks on the beach. It was a beautiful sight. I am not always super into fireworks, but there was something really magical about my friend and her family surrounding me, the roar of the ocean, and the gorgeous booms of color that made this year special.

The rest of my weekend was spent relaxing, yard saling, and enjoying the beautiful views of the coast.

How was your holiday weekend?

Seasonal Eating : Raspberries

03 July 2014

July means that strawberry season is coming to an end in Oregon, but raspberries are in full force and soon will be followed by blueberries and blackberries.  These are the simple pleasures of summer for me.

Here is a little roundup of some exciting recipes for raspberries to try this season...

I'm always looking for more ideas for this beautiful harvest, so please tell me about your favorite thing to do with raspberries!

Jam Sessions : Easy Japanese Picked Sugar Snap Peas

01 July 2014

I love sugar snap peas.  They are the perfect treat in the early summer months.  We grow them every year and I always look forward to the harvest and to seeing them appear in farmers markets.  Ususally I just eat them raw as a snack, but I decided to give pickling them a try (because you know, in Portland, we pickle everything!).

Instead of a standard pickle, I went with an asian style with rice wine vinegar and a simple seasoning of
nori komi furikake.  If furikake isn't already a pantry staple for you, it probably should be!  It's a really simple mix of seasame seeds, salt, and seaweed.  It's traditional use is to make a simple bowl of rice into something magical and flavorful.   If you can't find furikake or don't care for it, you can substitute other seasonings or leave it simple and fresh with garlic and chili flakes.

Quick and Easy Pickled Sugar Snap Peas
Makes about 5 half-pint jars

1+ pound sugar snap peas
2 cups rice wine vinegar
2 cups water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
5 tablespoon nori komi furikake (or your own blend of nori and seasame seeds)
1 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes (more if you want a little more heat)
2 chopped garlic cloves

Start by prepping your peas.  Remove the tips and pull off the tough string that runs along the pod.  Wash the peas.  Arrange them into 5 half-pint jars.  
Top each jar with: 1 tablespoon furikake, 1/4+ teaspoon chili flakes, & about 1/4 teaspoon garlic.
Prepare your brine by mixing vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil.   Once they sugar is fully dissolved, pour the hot brine into each jar and leave about 1/4" from the brim.
Let them cool on the counter and then screw on the lids and store them in the fridge for up to 2-3 months.

*Note, this recipe is for refrigerator pickles.  It is not safe to can and these jars will not be shelf stable.   They will last for about 2-3 months in the fridge.  The rice vinegar is usually about 4.0 acidity which is too low for canning.  If you wanted to adapt the recipe for canning, you could use white vinegar instead.

I like to just eat these as a snack, but you could also serve these on a cheese tray or as a light side dish.  They are a delicious and light pickle with a really refreshing summer taste that I just love!
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