My sweet friend and talented Portland photographer, Jamie Jones, took these pics of Ella the other day - love 'em to pieces! Her personality is so much fun these days!
Last weekend Jeff surprised me with a night away just him and I! What a treat. Ella K was back at home with our friends Maggie and Pete, who were generous enough to risk giving up some zzz's and come spend the night with her. What great friends we have!
A relaxing late afternoon at Hotel Modera (modern boutique hotel in downtown PDX). NxNW wine pre-dinn dinn. Then off to Lincoln, for a unique and delicious dinner (N. Williams St.). An intimate space - minimalist, yet cozy (my fav) - and quite the unique menu by most peoples' standards. I ordered a ricotta cavatelli (almost like a gnocchi) with a rabbit ragu (yes, rabbit - a very sustainable meat) and parmesan. Delish! Jeff got the hanger steak with blue cheese butter and cornmeal onion rings (super low fat I'm sure). The bruschetta was an interesting starter, yet quite unsubstantial if I'm being honest (two pieces of plain toast with essentially a very flavorful butter).
Following dinner we bounced back to our hotel to grab drinks at Nel Centro (the bar/restaurant at Hotel Modera). What a fun little surprise to have live music (jazz) in the bar (they were throwing a party just for us I think). Lo and behold I found myself a tad bit hungry after the dainty portion of rabbit pasta I was served at Lincoln. Obvious solution: order a pizza! The pizza from Nel Centro was scrumptious, a thin crust, and I devoured all but once slice. :)
What a fun and memorable getaway in our own city. Just takes one fun date night like this to remind me why I love my hubby so much! I'm reminded that these times are so important!
Jeff and I have been looking...and looking...and looking...for the perfect high chair. Oh what a dilemma. For some reason, this has been quite the tough choice...to the point where Ella's chubby thighs are getting stuck in her current baby-feeding chair (the Bumbo) and food is falling on her lap because she has no tray to eat off of. C'mon MAMA AND DADA, just make a damn decision!!!
Upon researching dozens of different choices, looking for something modern, minimalist, compact (for our compact living space), and stylish (a real challenge for most baby items, which are usually worse than ugly oozing eye-sores)....I came across our dream high chair. Yes, you will probably laugh at the fact that it's perhaps not very functional, but doesn't it look pretty? Needless to say, we did not order it because I'm sure it's ridiculously spendy and I have not been able to find any sites that sell it. But can't we just admire it's beauty for a moment? :)
I'm not ready to let go of my Caribbean memories from last month yet! A couple weeks ago I tried out this new recipe to complement some Hoisen chicken skewers that we were grilling (just chicken breasts marinated in Hoisen sauce, usually found on Asian foods aisle...will make your skewers oh-so-tender and juicy). This simple, easy rice recipe was so full of flavor and had such a hearty, tropical spirit! :)
Caribbean Coconut Rice
2 tsp. butter
1/2 tsp. dry ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 c. jasmine rice
1/2 c. coconut milk (I used canned)
1/4 tsp. grated lime zest
1 1/2 c. chicken broth
Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add ginger, garlic, and cinnamon, and sauté 1 minute or until fragrant. Stir in rice, and sauté 2 minutes, or until rice grains are opaque. Add coconut milk, salt, lime zest, pepper, and chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Stir once, cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 15 min. Fluff rice with a fork, cover, and let rest 5 min. Garnish with toasted coconut, if using.
This past weekend we had a little date night out to a place we've been wanting to try for years -Beast! Thanks Mom and Dad for watching the babe. :) Visiting Beast truly is a dining experience. It's a 5-course chef's choice dinner, with a pre-fixe menu. They seat twice a night, once at 5:00 and once at 8:45. We chose the later seating...savored every minute of our time there, and did not get done until just before midnight. What a night!
What impressed me most about our night at Beast was just the overall pure appreciation for good food. Every ingredient was selected oh-so carefully, and clearly the courses involved a lot of thought. Everything from the garnishes (pure gold!), the dressings (black garlic and black truffle), the flavor combinations (rosemary and caramel!), the unexpected wonderfulness (I decided I love lamb after all...when it's served with rustic white polenta and preserved lemon and olive sauce verte! :), and the absolutely gorgeous presentation.
Here are a few pics from the dinner, just to give you an idea of what you may be in for (although as usual, my basic picture-taking skills don't do it justice). The lighting was dim, so thanks for putting up with that! You must visit and be sure to make a reservation!
Ah, what a wonderful meal!
Loved the open kitchen! Artists at work.
The Charcuterie plate...
Syrah braised lava lake lamb shoulder, rustic white polenta, preserved lemon & olive sauce verte,
cumin spiced crispy carrots
A wonderful selection of cheeses from Steve at Cheese Bar...angelino plums, fried almonds, black pepper-fennel-pollen shortbread, wild flower honey
Portland creamery goat cheese cake with huckleberry confiture and rosemary caramel (love it!)
We are totally making over our living space! I cannot wait. New fireplace to come, as well as lots of color pops and a fresh, lighter coat of paint. I will post pics in the coming months. For now, our first project was to get rid of our annoying glass coffee table and free up some floor space for our little on-the-go Ella K.
Jeff wouldn't take no for an answer when he got the idea to make our own ottomans (which, might I add, cost just as much as buying them...but I let him figure that out on his own :). He had the frames built in less than an hour, and with the help of my crafty and skilled mom, we created covers in a fun, bright yellow tweed fabric. This will complement the new (undisclosed :) wall shade nicely I think!
I'm just now getting to blogging about this little hidden gem in Eastern Oregon, even though we visited last December. I just couldn't go without mentioning this wonderful place to everyone, because I think so many people don't know about it. Our friends Maggie and Pete asked us if we'd be interested in trying it out, and especially after the deal we got on Living Social, we could hardly resist.
This golf resort was designed by Jack Nicklaus, the famous golfer. We don't know much, but we did hear that the resort used to be exclusive and they have recently opened it up to the public. Everything we saw seemed brand-spankin' new, and of the highest quality. Unexpectedly we had sunny and dry weather the entire weekend. Jeff and Pete went golfing on what is apparently one of the top golf courses in the world (got an incredible rate too because it was off-season). Maggie and I had a little spa time at my favorite spot (Zante) in Bend. Ahh, a very relaxing weekend.
If you ever have a chance to visit here, DO SO!! We got such an incredible deal, and we couldn't even believe what we got for our dough. A two bedroom townhouse, overlooking the golf course, huge top-of-the-line kitchen, giant floor-to-ceiling fireplace, outdoor kitchen and fire pit, huge bathroom, and you name it. I'd love to come back in the summer!! Keep your eyes out for more Living Social deals!
One of my favorite parts of vacation has to be eating out in the evenings. You spend all day on the beach, covered in sunscreen and sand...as sunset approaches, make your way back to the room for a tropical cocktail and to get ready for an evening out...which includes exploring not only the local spots, but the local cuisine as well. YUM. This is my favorite little routine. :)
Anyways, just in case you are ever to visit these islands, here are our favorite spots!!
- Magnolia Wine Bar - set high up on the hill overlooking Turtle Cove, you can see all of the lights down below, and the water. The food was probably our favorite all trip - among the things to try: The house specialty (seared ahi), and lobster pasta.
- Las Brisas - right on the shore of Chalk Sound. Open-air and wonderful! Yummy food and definitely a memorable dinner.
- da Conch Shack - a totally casual (yet spendy) little spot with picnic tables set right on the beach. They serve fresh conch just about any way you can imagine. And pitchers of rum punch!
- Mango Reef - the restaurant at our hotel. Set right on the beach. Delicious seafood, probably our favorite grouper and snapper the whole trip. Can't beat the view. We ate here a few times for both lunch and dinner. At lunch: amazing lobster quesdilla, fish tacos, and club sandwich. Dinner: like I said, you gotta order the fresh fish of the islands!
- Hemingways - also on Grace Bay Beach, a romantic oceanside restaurant!
- Tiki Hut - visit on Wednesdays for their chicken & rib night - the place is packed!!
- Shark Bite - if you want just a causal burger or fish sandwich, go here. You can watch the sharks swim in Turtle Cove right below your table (there are lights shining into the water at night).
- Baci - Italian, right in Turtle Cove
- Last Chance Bar & Grill - If you take the boat across to North Caicos, YOU HAVE TO GO HERE!! It's owned by a retired couple, who are just enjoying every minute of their quiet island life. Literally three tables in the whole place, and it's set right on the cliff of the most turquoise water you've ever seen. Spectacular. Be careful too or your head might hit the ceiling...the building is OLD! The owner claims to have invented the Rum Runner (cocktail) back in the 70s, and so of course we ordered a round. Tasty! Must try the FRESH fish sandwich!!
The three of us just returned from 9 days in paradise, also known as the Turks & Caicos Islands! These small islands are British territory, located in the Caribbean right next to Cuba. The water here is as turquoise as you can imagine, and calm and shallow which makes for great swimming...and an even better place to take kiddos (....Yep! We took the little babe!).
Here are some pics from our adventures, as well as a few family shots mixed in. We invited Jeff's mom and stepdad to come along with, which was SO fun (we each had rooms at the Alexandra resort). Lots of relaxing, laughing, swimming, snorkeling, and sipping back a few beers or rum punches. :) Our hotel was located on Grace Bay, just voted the best beach in the world....and we agreed! Fortunately we were also able to explore many other beaches too though, as well as the North and Middle Caicos islands which were far less populated (can we say off-roading jungle adventure? oh and did I just bring my baby along?!). The food....ah, the food...on Providenciales, the island we stayed on, did not disappoint...we had several memorable meals. But more on that later!