Saturday, October 13, 2012

How We Are Avoiding The Seven Year Itch Thanks To Portland

I was a bit disappointed in myself this week for not prioritizing this post, but I realized that my procrastinating nature has served me well.  I've been looking forward to reliving this vacation all week and I'm so glad I waited until I had time to write it, enjoy it, and reminisce about one of the coolest weeks of my life.  We had a good first week back to work so we have nothing to complain about, but we talked about what we would be doing if we were in Portland RIGHT NOW.

So, let's get to it shall we?

Day 3 of this adventure also happened to be our seven year wedding anniversary.   Wheeeee!  We started the day with the goal of exploring as much as possible.  The day before had been spent with the road trip to the coast, so we wanted to stay local and soak in the city.  We started in the Pearl District where we found a shop that Eric proceeded to spend the better part of an hour in.  It was awesome.  Billy Galaxy's was one of those tiny shops you dream of when you're a collector.  It was packed from floor to ceiling, wall to wall with toys from the 70's & 80's and who knows what else.  I could tell by the way his eyes lit up that he needed at least an hour to explore this gold mine, so I wandered up the street to Powell's City of Books for another look.

I want to take this opportunity to make sure that all of ya'll realize what a huge deal this morning was for us.  Of all the cool shiz we got into on the vacation, these are the moments that we long for the most now that we're back in Fresno.  The moments we can't wait to live in real life.  Eric is somewhat discreet about his vintage toy collecting but to know him is to know his passion for it.  It's been his hobby since before we started dating.  He loves the hunt for obscure toys from his childhood.  To be casually walking down the street and find a place like Billy Galaxy's could only happen in a town like Portland.  This is why I refer to Portland as our version of Adult Disneyland.

 I, on the other hand, feel the same about books.  I love a good book.  I have vivid memories from elementary school of trying to discreetly read The Baby Sitter's Club under my desk during math or some other useless subject.  I LOVE TO READ.  I love collecting books as much as I love reading.  So for Eric and I to spend a few hours a few blocks apart from each other, each submersed in something we are passionate about, well, this is what it's all about for us folks.

Eric came looking for me at Powell's after an hour or so to tell me about the things he'd found in Billy Galaxy's.  We walked back to Billy's together so Eric pick out what he couldn't live without.  The neatest part of the Billy Galaxy's experience for me was seeing the nod of approval from the guy who owned it, who I assume was Billy.  Eric bought things that were apparently awesome finds for a toy hunter, things only a true obscure toy hunter could appreciate.  Awesome. Eric made his purchases and once we confirmed Billy would safely mail them to Fresno, we were off to search for lunch.  Since there are options a-plenty in Portland we looked to Yelp for a suggestion.

We ended up at The People's Sandwich downtown.  As we were walking to this spot for lunch we passed it.  VOODOO DOUGHNUTS.  Perfect!  The universe lined up and without knowing it we'd picked a spot for lunch that was conveniently three blocks from Voodoo.  At The People's Sandwich I decided on something light (more room for doughnuts, you understand) and it was a good pick.  A typical caprese for the most part, basil and spring mix, grape tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella.  Eric decided to get the Argentina Arrabiata that was a tasty mix of salami, ham, mortadella, pepperocini's and a few other yummy ingredients.  Both sandwiches came with homemade potato chips and a Tootsie Roll.  How cute!

Eric's is on the left, mine is on the right.  See the adorable Tootsie Roll?

After the sandwiches we hightailed it over to Voodoo doughnuts.  Voodoo is a pretty famous because their toppings are less than traditional.  They get real creative up in there with the flavor combinations.  With toppings like Fruit Loops, Captain Crunch, "grape dust", and bacon it's no wonder they're notorious.  We also confirmed that Voodoo is as big a deal for locals as it is tourists.  Without further ado, I give you...Voodoo:

My pick with was the "ODB" or, The Old Dirty Bastard.  And dirty it was.  Deliciously dirty.  Chocolate frosting dipped in crushed Oreos then drizzled with peanut butter.  *mouth waters*  Eric's picks were the maple bacon bar (which my Aunt Carol hysterically referred to as the "Lady Gaga Meat Shoe").  Captain Crunch was the third pick, and I must say it was a close second to the ODB.  Odd, I realize, but tasty nonetheless.  There was a cute little coffee shop right next door where I ordered a delicious latte, but I was too busy digging into these little treasures to stop and take a picture. 

Don't judge us people, when in Rome!

After we stuffed ourselves silly with doughnuts we kept up exploration of the city.  We drove up to Washington Park to peep out the Japanese Gardens and attempt to walk off some of the Captain Crunch and bacon, but this was as far as we got:  

Unfortunately, the hours of operation had changed two days prior so the gardens closed promptly at 4 pm which happened to be the exact time we arrived.  We took the opportunity to drive through the neighborhoods surrounding Washington Park and laaaawd, there were some gorgeous homes!  The road was twisty and narrow so it was hard to stop for pics, but just picture The Shire from Lord of The Rings if The Shire was million dollar real estate.  Adorable hobbity homes that were unassuming but had the casual elegance of one million plus price tags.  We talked about the possibility of robbing a bank, and if successful which house we'd buy, but decided that our doughnut consumption a half hour before negated the swift escape required for a bank robbery.  I'm pretty sure people fleeing the scene of a robbery shouldn't be carb loading on doughnuts.  

Eric decided to take matters into his own capable hands and navigate me to a "surprise" for our anniversary.  Now, I love a good surprise.  But I prefer the kind of surprise that involves said surprise being divulged spontaneously and right that very moment.  Anticipating surprises has a tendency to bring out the control freak in me.  Eric navigated me back across town and when I saw the sign for what was in store for me, my jaw dropped.  Take a gander:


That's right folks.  Eric surprised me with a trip to Portland's Tub & Tan. This is a facility wherein one rents a room by the hour with a private Jacuzzi.  I know what you're thinking.  It's probably EXACTLY what I was thinking.  And it probably involves an image similar to the one found if you click right HERE.  Now, if Drew Barrymore is to be involved with anything I have the opportunity to partake in, I'll take what I can get. Even if it means meeting "the great Eagle spirit".  I thought a soak in a public hotTUB would certainly result in spiced meats, jackrabbit haunches, and Lovers so I was a smidge skeered. Alas; there were no swingers in sight.  We enjoyed a perfectly relaxing hour in an outdoor room next to a waterfall.  A little disconcerting at first, but the staff was so friendly and professional they quickly eliminated any fear of running into Rachel Dratch and Will Farrell.

It was a fun time.  There was no roof on this room, a private bathroom w/ shower, fireplace, music with no less than 90 options, and LOCKS ON THE DOORS.  It was a great surprise, and a story we'll always have fun telling.  I think this is the insurance policy that our marriage will not be suffering from the oft reputed "Seven Year Itch".   Thank you Eric!

After the soak in our hotTUB we did more wandering around 23rd Avenue for shopping and the best manicure ever (while Eric people watched from the side walk).  We decided in light of our anniversary we should celebrate with our favorite food.  Again. Since Portland has no shortage of places to try, pizza it was!  23rd Avenue had several options, but we chose a place called Pizzicato.  Once again, an excellent choice.  We sat at one of the cozy sidewalk bistro tables and ordered what sounded good. We started with the artichoke and spinach dip, which we quickly agreed was probably the best we'd ever had.  

It was the perfect serving.  A little cup served with freshly made garlic pita strips and lemon.  
Ya'll it was delish.  
What more can I say?

I realize it doesn't look like it here, but these were personal sized pizzas.  I swear.  Why try to deny the food consumption taking place at this point?  Eric ordered the Pepperoni Supreme that came with mushrooms and pepperocinis.  Kind of spicy, perfectly delicious.  I went with the Quattro Formaggi that came with goat cheese, fontina, Parmesan, bleu cheese, and mozzarella.  Oh, and some roasted garlic to keep it spicy.  We shared them and still managed to have a doggy bag.  Great service, great wine, great food.  Another spot that I'm sure will be a favorite when we live there. 

Because we will.

This concludes day three of the Portland adventure, but stayed tuned for the most often asked for ECETTI Ranch post.  You won't want to miss it, it's a fascinating tale!  

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Steak Salad with Blackberry Vinaigrette

Eating vegetables can be tricky at Casa de Lamer.  Eric and I both like vegetables, but never agree on which ones are the least offensive to eat.  Eric loves broccoli (meh...I can take it or leave it), I love grilled asparagus that are crunchy (Eric likes his boiled into oblivion then smothered in mayonnaise), I love brussel sprouts (Eric...does not).  You see where I'm going with this.

I came up with this recipe in an attempt to get us eating more leafy greens in a way that was easy to make and didn't require two different vegetable dishes.


We have a winner folks!  This salad fits the bill for us both so I imagine we'll be eating this quite a bit now that it's not 100+ degrees outside and grilling has once again become a reasonable way to prepare a meal.  Life in the valley...*sigh*...

I present to ya'll:


Ingredients for Dressing:

~  1-2 tbps. balsamic vinegar
~  1-2 tbsp. rice vinegar
~  tsp. blackberry jam (or whatever you have on hand, apricot is good too!)
~  one good squirt of agave nectar or honey
~  2 tbsp. dijon mustard
~  1 tsp. chopped garlic
~  Salt and pepper to taste (I love Costco's Pink Himalayan Salt.  Check out health benefits HERE)
~ 1/4 cup of olive oil

***I dump all of these ingredients into a mixing bowl and slowly whisk in the olive oil.  Use any ingredients you have on hand that are similar and taste as you go.  You'll know what to add to make it perfect!


I read an article in Playboy magazine (yup, we get it and the articles are great!) written by a chef who gave some great tips for marinating meat.  I can't locate the article to confirm his name...but whoever he is he's a Meat God and I love him.  If I find it I'll post it later.  His tips have been great for grilling and I use them on any steak we grill.  I bought a London Broil on sale but that cut can be pretty tough.  Per Meat God's instructions I marinated the steak for about three hours in sea salt.  He suggested that you cover every inch of the meat in salt, and when you think you have enough add a smidge more.  I'm confident Meat God used "smidge" so there is no need to question that detail. After the steak sat in salt for a few hours I rinsed it well under cold water, then dried with a paper towel.  I threw it back in the covered dish smothered in Salt Lick and let her sit for a few more hours.  We tossed it on the grill and cooked until it was medium rare.  *mouth waters*

Use the link above to procure yourself some Salt Lick. You'll praise me with gratitude and I will love it!  We both win!!!

The London Broil soaking up the salty goodness.

I threw together the salad with the ingredients I had in the fridge.  Romaine hearts, Spring Mix/Spinach medley, purple cabbage, English cucumber, green onion, chopped fresh parsely, and cherry tomatoes.  I also threw in some toasted almonds, because well, they're delicious and make me feel fancy.  I tossed the salads in the vinaigrette and topped mine with bleu cheese crumbles, Eric's with pecorino and romano.  That dude has no idea what he's missing with the bleu cheese, but whatevs.  Leaves more for me to gorge on later with crackers and honey, right?!?!

After the meat came off the grill we let it sit for about 10 minutes so it would stay juicy.  After the obligatory waiting with our mouths watering all over the steak we wanted juicy anyway, I thinly sliced the meat against the grain.  Voila!  We had a tender, flavorful (but not too salty) cut of London Broil placed ever so gently across our salads.  It was a Food Network moment ya'll.  I can hear the applause from here.  

There is no higher compliment for any meal as far as I'm concerned than a clean plate.  We thought about licking the bowls when we were finished, but figured we'd wait until desert to behave like complete and total animals.  Desert will consist of banana "soft serve" ice cream.  Two ingredients in this little number...bananas and cocoa powder.  


You're welcome.  Also; please let me know if you try it and love it.  If you try it and don't love it, praise me anyway.  You'll feel good about praising me in spite of a horrid dinner, and I'll feel good that I'm changing your life with my culinary creativity.  Win/Win again!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The City Of Roses...Days 1 & 2

I knew it would happen.  I knew we would walk into this city and fall completely and totally in love.  And fall we did.  To say that we have a crush on Portland would be a gross understatement.  It's the city of our dreams, a Disneyland for adults if you will.  The food was amazing (more on that later), everyone has a dog, the weather was great (even though it didn't rain, dang it!), but more important than all of those amazing things, was the people. Everyone in Portland that we met (and we covered every neighborhood) was happy and as in love with Portland as we were.  People were eager to share their favorite restaurants, favorite shop for jewelry, clothes, where to get the best steaks in town, favorite recipe, these people are HAPPY.  Excited about life!  Eager to share their finds with anyone within chatting distance!  It was such a relief to see people's reactions when they heard we were thinking about moving there from California.  Come now!  Check out the neighborhoods off Hawthorne, you'll love it!  There's a great market down there with the best chai tea!  Have you been to Washington Park yet?  Check it out!  These were our people.

Our first afternoon/evening was spent acting like children given the keys to an amusement park.  We checked into our funky hotel Inn @ Northrup Station.  It's in the North West District off of 23rd Avenue, an area we loved immediately!  It is a tree lined street full of boutiques, cafes, bars, and restaurants.  We stayed at the Inn the first three nights of our visit and it didn't disappoint.  There is a full kitchen, a nice sitting room, great view, and super comfortable bed.  

Said comfy bed.  Seriously, it's the most comfortable hotel bed we've had the pleasure of sleeping in.

Sitting area where the coffee table is covered in books and magazines about Portland with titles like "Food Lover's Guide to Portland".  Oh laaaaawd, Portland is a foodie's paradise!

Groovy kitchen complete with Bodum toaster and Keurig coffee maker.  We were obviously taking full advantage of the plethora of food options in this town, but we did swing into Trader Joe's for some coffee creamer, o.j., and fruit to hold us over in the morning.  Our hotel offered a free continental breakfast but we're still gun-shy about crowds of people since we hail from the land of one million plus in the parking lot at Wal-Mart at all times of the day and night.  Turns out we were right, the lobby was packed every morning with folks lining up!

After we checked into our hotel we decided to hop in the car (we rented a 2012 Explorer by the way, quite fancy!) and started driving.  Portland is divided into several districts so we wanted to get somewhat familiar with each neighborhood so we didn't miss anything.  We ended up downtown and decided since we hadn't eaten all day we needed something to sustain our weary bodies for further exploration.  Since there are so many spots to choose from in this town we decided to download the app Yelp to help us find a good spot.  And find one we did.  We landed at Pizza Schmizza and quickly confirmed this was a good choice.  We sat outside and decided the alligator pie and pumpkin ales were appropriate.  It was delicious, but even more than delicious, we experienced something we haven't in a loooong time.  Excellent service, dining al fresco, and friendly smiles from people walking by.  People are so happy here, probably because they all have dogs on leashes that accompany them while they run last minute errands on Sunday afternoon.  Not the first or last indication that this is the town for us.   

I give you...Alligator Pie.  It was covered with alligator sausage (delish!), Mama Schmizza's noodles, fresh tomatoes, red bell pepper, feta cheese, and cilantro.  The pumpkin ales washed it down nicely too!

After dinner and some more driving around (and confirming the EXACT LOCATION OF VOODOO DOUGHNUTS where there was a damn line around the corner at 5 pm) we decided to head back to the hotel.  We were pretty tired at this point and figured we'd head to bed early so as to get an early start the next day.  Eric and are not party people...OR SO WE THOUGHT.  We got back to the hotel, I poured a glass of wine while throwing open the balcony door, we turned on Pandora and settled in for a cozy evening of research into Portland.  We dived into the stack of magazines on the coffee table, and Eric found an article about Living Room Theaters which is described as "Environmentally friendly.  Designed to entertain and welcome you at any time."  It's a movie theater with a first class bar, kitchen, and live music. Each theater has huge comfy chairs and seating with tables in the back of room. You can be served appetizers, dinner, or cocktails during the movie! And they feature independent films! We decided that we couldn't pass this up.  

We caught the 10 pm show of "For A Good Time Call" written and starred in by Lauren Miller who just so happens to be married to my secret boyfriend Seth Rogen.  Truth be told, I have a crush on her too after seeing this movie.  It was hysterical.  And, I drank a dirty martini while watching that was served to me by a bartender who is also a fire dancer.  Clearly people in this town were going to be cool as hell.  

Check out this movie trailer for "For A Good Time Call".

I should mention that before we checked out this hysterical movie we had an hour and a half to kill before it started.  We headed to the theater and figured we'd walk around the Pearl District and have a drink before it started, but as soon as we rounded the corner...I saw it.  When I spotted the sign I swear I heard angels singing.  Could it be Powell's City Of Books?!?!?!?  It's described as the largest bookstore in the country and it takes up a city block.  A CITY BLOCK FULL OF NEW AND USED BOOKS PEOPLE!  There are four floors and floor to ceiling books. Be still my heart! Each floor has rooms designated for different genres.  Fiction, Literature, Metaphysics, Cooking, Classics, it goes on and on.  Here's a glimpse into the world of Powell's:

*angels singing*
Powell's store front at 8:30 pm.  The place was buzzing with locals and tourists.  LOVE!

A tiny glimpse into the world of Powell's.  Every room looked like this!  

Our first night was amazing.  Living Room Theaters was a great place to hang out and I'm so glad we took advantage of that place while we were there.  Interesting observation: The first few minutes before the movie started (as we sipped our drinks) both Eric and I were so bitter that nothing like this existed anywhere we'd ever been.  A movie theater that screens indie films, serves food, and drinks?  Every town should have one!  It cost us $18 to see the movie and our drinks were $14.  You'll spend more than that in Fresno on a Wednesday night buying movie tickets, popcorn, and sodas.  Reason #764 we can't wait to live here one day!

On day two we woke up excited to see more.  Eric suggested a drive to the town of Astoria on the coast where the movie "The Goonies" was filmed.  I thought that sounded awesome, so we got ready and headed out for a road trip.  One of the reasons I love travelling with Eric is because he's up for anything at any time.  Some folks wouldn't have even considered a two hour drive after flying into a new town, but Eric's on board for an adventure no matter what.  I'm so glad he suggested it because it turned out to be one of my favorite days of the trip.  The drive out of town and into the country was gorgeous.  

The view of the Lewis and Clark Bridge over the Columbia river.  This river is huge!  Gorgeous blue water and white caps and we were loving every inch!  Huge barges were moving who-knows-what up and down the river, it was fascinating.  All of this surrounded by mountains, we were in heaven!

   Gorgeous, no?  It reminds me of North Carolina, which made it feel even more like home.  *sniffle*

Eric and the fancy Explorer complete with seat warmers.  Loooooved me some seat warmers!

After the scenic drive we made it into Astoria, and boy was it beautiful.  It looked just like the movie, which was awesome.  We turned to Yelp again to find a good spot for lunch.  And once again, we found a gem of a spot.  Baked Alaska was right on the water, and since it was a week day it wasn't busy at all.  We had a beautiful view of the water, great service, and a tasty lunch.  Brace yourself for many gratuitous photos of food, because it's always our favorite part!

We started with the Aged Jack & Asiago fondue served with sourdough and fuji apples.  Yup!  It was as delicious as it sounds!  We also ordered a 1/2 dozen raw oysters served with a "pink peppercorn mignonette" that was to-die-for.  A lunch at the coast is not complete for me without raw oysters.  I could eat a dozen by myself!  Also of note: I ordered a blood orange something-or-other that consisted of blood orange vodka, muddled naval oranges, and orange flavored San-Pellegrino.  It was a delight to drink, perfect and light!  

We decided to split the Dungeoness Crab Sandwich that was grilled panini style and a cup of clam chowder.  The sandwich was full of fresh crab meat, and was as light as a feather.  The chowder was delicious too, second only to my beloved Fish Hopper in Monterey.  

We split the "Baked Alaska" for desert and were surprised to find that it wasn't the traditional dish we were expecting.  Turns out it was a giant chocolate chip cookie baked in a cast-iron skillet served with ice cream and a vanilla brandy sauce.  So, needless to say, we left totally satisfied.

The restaurant was connected to a fun shop called Mise en Place (pronounced "miz on plas") which is french for "putting in place".  It was a cute store full of cooking gadgets and local art and while we browsed the shop there was an intriguing cooking class taking place in the middle of the room.  The chef teaching also happens to be the head chef at the restaurant we had lunch in.  He was teaching grilling techniques for fish, salmon specifically.  If we'd had more time I would've definitely signed up for the class because everyone taking it was sitting in a gourmet kitchen sipping wine while they watched.  Sounds fun, eh?

After we finished lunch and browsed a few other shops we decided to drive through the town.  It is adorable!  Here's a few shots of what we got into:

The new moonstone ring I picked up (for 70% off!) at Terra Stones on Commercial Street.  I found a few other goodies too.  I'll definitely be shopping at their online store!

These bleeding hearts were the size of the palm of my hand!

The sunflowers were at least 8 feet tall and the blooms were the size of a dinner plate.  

The town's architecture was so quaint, everything had a steeple!  

I spotted this glass blowing gallery on the way out of town and am so glad I stopped.  Fernhill Glass Studios was a great find.  It was an outdoor glass blowing studio with a shop that had the most beautiful hand blown ornaments, vases, mugs, paperweights, etc.  They offer classes for blowing your own ornament (only $40!) as well as a paperweight blowing class where I was told everyone leaves with at least two different pieces.  Another thing I was sorry I didn't have time to do!  The owners were very friendly and eager to tell me about the process of glass blowing. They even told us where to get the best pesto pizza with white sauce in town!  I love the way everyone here loved food!  

Annie's Tavern Dancers was closed!  Boooooooo!

After a few hours exploring Astoria we jumped back in the car to head back to Portland. On our way into town we'd passed a filling station that was advertising homemade fried chicken.  What else can one do in a strange land but to pull the hell over and try the fried chicken?!?!?!  Eric decided the offer was too good to pass up so we pulled off for a taste.  

The sign that drew us in...

Eric embracing the spirit of the road and trying what looked to be a juicy piece of fried chicken.  I declined to taste, as the fear of restrooms being few and far between was too great, should the need arise.

Proof that the chicken was amazing.

We laughed the entire drive back to Portland about how we should probably save the bones of that chicken because like a snake bite, if something takes a serious wrong turn we'd need some sort of evidence of what was eaten so the emergency staff would know what they were dealing with!  The chicken turned out to be as harmless as it was delicious, and I was glad one of the two of us committed to the adventure of trying the local staple.  

We wound down the evening back on 23rd Avenue with a bit of shopping for me and cocktails at a sidewalk pub for both of us.  We chatted for a while with a few local shop owners who were so gracious about sharing what they love about Portland.  They suggested neighborhoods to check out if we moved, the best place to see a live show, and local bands they loved.  So nice!

By the time we were ready to head back to the hotel we realized that it was almost 10 pm and it had been a whole five hours since we'd eaten!  *GASP*  That's when we stumbled onto the best pizza (we found) in the city.  And we ate a lot of pizza!  I'll leave you with a photo of said pizza so you'll know what we were dealing with.  

Cocktails at Ram's Head Pub on 23rd Avenue.  

Escape From New York pizza.  Ya'll, these guys know what they're doing.  It's a cash only joint with a few tables and a bar with stools, and that's about it.  They use fresh ingredients, amazing cheese, and you can have a beer while you wait for your pie to cook.  No need for fancy atmosphere when you're making something this good.  You can order a slice, or a whole pie and it is delicious!  In hindsight we obviously should have ordered a slice, but Eric had no problem having cold pizza for breakfast the next morning!   We also read through the local music flyer advertising live shows and were stunned at how big the music scene is.  Page after page of amazing bands, some we'd heard of, some not.  Check this out!

Just a few days worth of music playing locally.  I doubt this many shows have happened in Fresno in the last three months!

Aimee Mann was playing on our anniversary and we were soooo tempted to go see her!  We found something equally cool to do, but we loved having THE CHOICE of whether or not to check out a great show or do something else exciting.  We were baffled and impressed, yet again.

Stay tuned for more love letters to my now favorite city Portland!  We packed a lot in the week we were there and I'll be posting regularly until the entire adventure is documented!

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Today was one of those days that you want to call in to your job and risk your vacation time for a little peace and quiet.  And a bottle of wine at 10 am.  Since I decided to be responsible I figured I had two choices. I could either A) crawl into my manager’s office and explain in long lengthy detail the Ebola symptoms I’ve experienced in the last 24 hours and cross my fingers he’d let me go home for the day, or B) find some good music to tap my toe to until the feeling of wanting to curl up under my desk and spoon the recycling bin passed.

Being the company gal that I am, I chose to brace myself and find some music to jam too. Then the heavens opened and the universe gave me the most precious gift one could receive on a day like this. It gave me the Spice Girls Pandora station. Holy sh*tballs.

I began promptly with “Spice Up Your Life”. I swear on my first born second born Tucker than no one can listen to this song without getting up from your chair and bouncing around the room with a hair brush.  Or stapler, depending on your location.  Bless their hearts. Those girl's platforms and pleather danced their way into my psyche and before I knew it I was on a stage with bright lights and screaming fans. I was a Spice Girl AND I WAS AWESOME.  Click on the link below to indulge.  I won't tell a soul.  Promise.

The next diddy Pandora gifted me with was none other than a track from those saucy divas Destiny’s Child and their super mega hit from the 90’s “Say My Name”. They broke onto my early morning scene with their take-that-mother-effer song and made me feel like kicking every dude within reach in the…ummm…SHINS.  Here's the video in the event it's been 10 years since you heard the tune (which is highly likely):

Let me give you some insight into The Romantic History Of Lindsey. I met my husband when I was 19, fell in love immediately, and never looked back. He’s a nice guy. He's hot. Not a cheater, liar, or swindler. He Says My Name on a regular basis and I like it.

My history prior to Husbo was a very nice boy in high school who informed me of his crush by shoving a mixed tape full of Marvin Gaye and Ginuwine into my hands after Chemistry. He brought me soup and a beanie baby when I had the flu. Flowers on every date. As soon as I recovered from said flu, I promptly broke up with him because our last date consisted of “parking “ at a church and making out long enough to draw hearts in the windows when we were done. Then I got the flu. You can see why, although he was the boy every teenage girl dreams of, I had to end it. I had Dave Matthews concerts to go to and pot to smoke in my friend’s attic. Aw.

Clearly I have never been in a position to know what it feels like to have your heart ripped out, stomped on, then casually tossed aside. Yet, when I belted out the lyrics (in my head) to this “Say My Name” song I swear to god, I knew what it felt like ya'll. That’s how good Destiny’s Child is. Even when you’ve only ever dated nice boys who treated you right, when they sing about boys running game and acting shady and not calling me baby,  I felt them. That is the power of a good song my friends.

Amen and hallelujah for Pandora. It makes my days spent in a flesh colored cube under fluorescent lights not so bad. If you were a person Pandora, I would insist you meet me for a beer. Then I would toast to you and get you drunk on Bud Light.  Cheers!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Back to Basics

I'm curled up at my cozy desk this morning thinking about last weekend and how perfect it was.  I've officially had two full time jobs for a month, which explains my urgency in getting out in the woods for a few days.  Eric and I are doing a great job transitioning through this new phase of me not being home 6-7 nights a week every other week but I knew as of last weekend we'd had enough.  We needed some time together without the distractions of laundry, yard work, and errand running.

So, off to the woods we went!  A few years ago we found a fantastic campsite among the redwoods in Sierra National Forest.  It's a half hour drive from Oakhurst, CA which is a cute little town full of antique shops and cafe's.  Perfect.

We live in the Central Valley of California and the temperatures hover around 110 this time of year.  Eric's job includes commuting to the Bay Area several days a week as well as working in non-air conditioned buildings where contruction a-plenty is happening.  Which requires a hard hat.  And steel-toed boots.  You can imagine his glee when I suggested we spend two days outdoors with little to no protection from the elements.  *snicker*

In true Eric fashion he rallied immediately and helped me fill our truck bed with two days worth of necessities when living in the woods.

We arrived Friday afternoon and had our camp set up in less than an hour.  I packed light in the hopes that set up and clean up would be quick and painless.  We got a great site right next to the creek surrounded by huge redwoods.  The perfect ratio of sun to shade.  Here's a peek at our digs:

   The view from our fire pit and picnic table. We heard water trickling through this creek all day and night.  *sigh*

     Our camp chairs, cooler, and tent.  The tent was close enough to the creek to hear the water in the creek at night..  

Wicket trying to decide if we're crazy for dragging her from the comfort of A/C and cozy dog beds every few feet to sleep and play in the dirt.  She came around eventually.  

Camping essentials.  Cold beer and citronella candles for those of us who are prone to getting eaten alive by skeeters.  

Saturday night's feast.  Yummy steaks that marinated all day in beer and seasonings, biscuits, baked potatoes, and salad.  Doesn't dinner always taste better while you're camping?  

Candle light dinner, outdoors, next to a creek, at dusk.  Yes, please!

Clean plates all around.  Naturally.  

Since we left the tent fly off we fell asleep under the stars and woke up to this every morning.  It was just as amazing as it sounds folks.  I highly recommend losing the tent fly if weather permits.  It made all the difference.  

My biggest recommendation when camping is to have a comfortable bed.  Our friend Claire let us borrow her big cushy sleeping mats and we have the BEST sleeping bags we got from my father and step-mother as a wedding gift.  I slept like a dream, Eric...meh.  It was as comfortable as it could be in a tent and he soldiered through the stiffness every morning like a champion.  I could definitely get used to this though, so I hope he comes around.  *fingers crossed*

We had a great time sitting around the campfire catching up, making plans, and making each other laugh.  Speaking of laughing, the first night we were there it had gotten pretty late and I was making myself a s'more.  The campground had gotten quiet and folks were tucked in, and while assembling said s'more felt something sticky on my leg.  Since it was dark as pitch, I assumed it was a rogue marshmallow that I dropped on my knee.  I picked at it for a few seconds but couldn't get it off.  THEN I REALIZED IT WAS A HUGE GRASSHOPPER THE SIZE OF A PTERODACTYL.  Not kidding.  It looked huge, and prehistoric, and I screamed bloody murder.  See the image below for reference.  It was ridiculous.  The bug and the screaming.  

 I apologized to our neighbors the next morning who were gracious enough to say they hadn't heard a thing (they were in a primo travel trailer) and laughed at my description of the creature that befell me that evening.  Then they let us borrow forks for our steak dinner.  Camping + Neighbors With  A Sense Of Humor And Cutlery = Good Times. 

Wicket was a trooper this weekend too.  Sissy-La-La has become accustomed to her lifestyle that includes dirt free water, cushions and blankets every few feet, and a choice of indoor/outdoor napping.  She powered through after the first few hours and came home as dirty and happy as we did.  I'll leave you with the images below.  She was obviously named after her resemblance to a certain Ewok from Star Wars, but just for fun here is a comparison.  All she was missing was her headdress (she actually has one!) and her spear.  She would've been building tree forts and hunting for dinner if we'd been there one more night.  I just know it.  

Logray from Star Wars


I can't wait to start planning the next camping trip.  So far it looks like the weekend after Thanksgiving, so keep your eyes peeled for more adventures from The Lamer Clan!