Thursday, October 19, 2017

What's Making Me Happy This Week

// So much wisdom in this interview with cookbook author Melissa Clark. I've loved cooking from Dinner: Changing the Game and her new cookbook, Dinner in an Instant: 75 modern recipes for your pressure cooker, multi cooker, and Instant Pot came out this week. I'm on the library waitlist for it. I have a pressure cooker but will likely decide I need a multi cooker too. Or Instant Pot. Or both!

// I gave up on Hilary Mantel's Beyond Black 3/4 of the way through -- supernatural's just not my genre -- and I started James Shapiro's The Year of Lear: Shakespeare in 1606, which is fantastic.

// The discovery that Google Photos makes movies... unprompted! This video just appeared as is on my phone. Big Brother is watching and controls everything, but sometimes he makes such good content!

// This poem by Sharon Olds, recently shared on Writer's Almanac. Take-out is my love language too!

I have heard about the civilized,
the marriages run on talk, elegant and
honest, rational. But you and I are
savages. You come in with a bag,
hold it out to me in silence.
I know Moo Shu Pork when I smell it
and understand the message: I have
pleased you greatly last night. We sit
quietly, side by side, to eat
the long pancakes dangling and spilling,
fragrant sauce dripping out,
and glance at each other askance, wordless,
the corners of our eyes clear as spear points
laid along the sill to show
a friend sits with a friend here.

Sunday, October 8, 2017


Right before Josie's hospitalization I booked a short trip for Luke and me to Portland, Oregon, a place we've wanted to go for ages.

Then she went into the hospital and September flew by and I didn't do any other planning aside from getting in touch with our friends in Portland.

On Saturday morning, First Day of Vacation, I had planned to go to the Tower Grove Farmers' Market but nobody was in the mood. We had a fun morning at home. Jenny and I went to Nordstrom for a prosecco and pants shopping (prosecco >>> pants shopping) with my shopper Christine. Victory was mine! A pair of plain black pants secured.

My mom picked up the girls that evening and Luke and I had dinner with friends. Happy to report Luke's mind is totally changed re: Greek food after having moussaka, that Hellenic shepard's pie.

We slept in, packed, and flew direct to Portland. So leisurely! I brought a bunch of magazines from my bedside hoarder's pile to read on the plane; Luke listened to songs for his upcoming Texas performances.

Per the advice of two friends, we stayed at the Kimpton Monaco. Recommend!

We had cocktails at the hotel restaurant and asked for dinner recommendations. We walked to the waiter's favorite, Tasty n Alder, but it was packed. We crossed the street for pork belly with an egg over fries at Lardo. We sat at a long table and struck up conversations with the couples to either side of us, both really funny. One couple was headed to a comedy show and the other to a Vance Joy concert up the street. "I love Vance Joy!" exclaimed Luke and they invited us along; tickets were still available.

I had never heard of Vance Joy but enjoyed the show -- turns out I have heard his hit "Riptide" somewhere ...

Can you spot the Lucas Jack?

Monday morning city exploring.

Blue Star donuts.

Powell's Books. This was a place I've wanted to go since I heard about it years ago. It was truly heartwarming watching people shop for books.

Woonwinkel home goods.

Lunch at Portland City Grill, 30 floors up.

Trying not to buy everything at the Made Here PDX store. (I did buy some his and hers perfume oil, Lumberjack and Calm Mama respectively, from Wooly Beast Designs. I have enjoyed wearing the rollerball I bought in Florence - a little vacation scent-memory before work).

It was from this tea towel that I learned of Hinklehatz peppers, so named because they resemble chicken hearts. Will definitely be growing some of those at Chez Kunkelhinklehatz von Suburbanstein.

Ducked into a restaurant for a beer (him) and coffee with Baileys (her). We were sitting at the bar when 3 minute hail storm came out of absolutely nowhere.

Post-rain brilliant sunshine.

Powell's loot.

We Uber'ed over to East Portland to meet up with Ken and David, friends of mine from medical school. We had drinks at Whiskey Soda Lounge, dinner at Pok Pok, and ice cream at Salt & Straw. Next project 1: olive oil ice cream! Next project 2: get Ken and David back to St. Louis!

We booked a Portland tour at 8 am for Tuesday morning but they didn't show. We went to the hop-on, hop-off trolley kiosk and bought tickets. With about an hour before the first departure we walked to Tasty n Alder for a truly spectacular brunch: bloody Mary; cauliflower frittata; steak and cheesy eggs over jalapeƱo cornbread. Tom Petty music was playing in the restaurant and I thought about what an incredible songwriter he was, with lyrics like:

She grew up in an Indiana town
Had a good-lookin mom who never was around.
Tells you everything about her in fewer than twenty words. Brilliant.

First visit to a Pendleton store. Of course I bought an olive green sweater.

Trolley tour time. (Attn Mom: my lipstick is Armani Ecstasy Shine in 101 Nuda.)

We went on one loop of the city and had lunch at Sizzle Pie with a detour to the hailstorm bar to pick up a forgotten credit card.

We took an Uber back to Tilikum Crossing, a pedestrian, bike, and mass transit-only bridge, to walk across and take the aerial tram between campuses of the Oregon Health & Science University for a city view.

We caught the trolley back to the city center and enjoyed the hotel's lobby happy hour, talking to a couple from Honolulu. Going to remember this piece of advice: if you want to go to Hawaii, visit Lanai.

Another great dinner with Ken and David: pork belly buns, ramen, and sake at Afuri.

And four very large desserts at Papa Haydn.

Oh but there was more good food to be had: at the airport! A breakfast banh mi with scrambled eggs, pickled veggies, and lots of cilantro. On the return flight I finished the second stack of hoarded magazines (the Suburbs Lucky Peach issue was so good. RIP Lucky Peach!) and started a new novel from Powell's, Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel. I haven't read her Wolf Hall books but LOVED the Mark Rylance series and thought this essay of hers was fascinating. I also bought her memoir.

A wonderful trip with great friends, food, sights, and weather! Can't wait to go back to Oregon - next time with nature!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Late Summer

Late August to late September according to my phone.

A visit to the zoo.

Festival of Nations in Tower Grove Park with friends. We keep it local - we shared mac and cheese and burgers at this international event.

Camping with Grandma and Grandpa. Look at C, midair.

Luke picked up the girls in the morning at the campground and took them to school. At the end of day Josie was breathing quickly and we rushed her home for albuterol treatments.

Meanwhile, Luke's best friend, his wife, and their kids arrived from Seattle for a visit.

Meanwhile, Elise was admitted to the hospital to deliver her first baby.

Meanwhile, we made an offer on a house.

She didn't improve much and I took her to the emergency room. In the ER she received nebulizer treatments and IV steroids and magnesium. She was comfortable throughout, watching a movie. My heart sank when the doctor told me he was deciding between admission to the floor and admission to the pediatric ICU. It had only been three weeks since her first admission for asthma.

Luke took C to school when it opened and joined me in the ER. I stopped into my office then drove to our satellite campus where I was scheduled to work. I had a little time before the first surgery and stopped at Chick-fil-a for breakfast. I took my biscuit and coffee to the car and started to cry - fatigue, fear, guilt.

Fortunately I was required for only one early surgery and after I processed that specimen, I hurried back to the hospital where Josie had been admitted to the PICU. (My group graciously allowed me a personal day - thanks, everybody!)

Josie and I spent three days in the hospital. My dad joined us early Friday morning, allowing Luke and me to step away for a bit.

Meanwhile, Luke and Clementine had fun with our visitors.

Meanwhile, Elise had her baby.

Meanwhile, our house offer was accepted.

All of it seemed very far away as I spent the weekend with this little girl, this large window, the same clothes, the same movies on repeat (Princess and the Frog, Brave, Tangled).

Josie had a great time during her stay - toys and games and a full-size Moana doll! from Child Life, pizza, pancakes, and lots of attention.

She refused to wear any pants and ran around in too-small underwear with one cheek escaping. Especially funny when she showed the nurses her favorite yoga poses, downward dog and trwee pose!

When she was able to maintain good oxygenation on room air while sleeping, she was discharged. Refusing pants AND shirt, she consented to leaving the hospital in the only other garment from her backpack, her swimming suit.

Josie now is under the care of a pediatric pulmonologist and takes daily meds. Skin testing showed that she's allergic to cats and dogs. We're rarely around cats but the dog allergy appears to be well controlled by Zyrtec and Singulair (exactly the medications I take. Genes.)

The next day was Labor Day, allowing us some time to regroup. The girls and I went to see Leap! which they Loved.

With my mom in Chicago with the new grandbaby, I accompanied my dad to a farm-to-table dinner in Washington later that week.

Pajama Day.

Back to the zoo!

Doughnuts before school.

At Starbucks, C surveyed the case of baked goods and told me "I want the muffin like the heart of Te Fiti!"

I was/am so amazed at her cleverness.