Sunday, December 26, 2010

Salt N' Pepper Revisited

A few days ago on one of the only sunny days on the southern Oregon coast the family and I embarked on a visit to Salt and Pepper beach south of Port Orford on 101.  My mom, sister and brother-in-law hadn't been yet and they needed to see such an outstanding place.

 The day couldn't have been more perfect for a December coastal day.  Trailblazing down the hillside, slipping down the mud and tripping our way through blackberry vines quickly warmed us up.  With the sun shining it felt like a perfect sunny day.

 I've said it before and I'll say it again: this is the most spectacular beach I've seen.  As you walk down the final grassy hill and look down upon the beach you can't help but feel part of a mystical place.  There are no buildings, electric lines, roads; there are no sounds other than the boom of the waves crashing on the rocks. It's as out of this world as I've been while staying right here in Oregon.
When I'm on Salt and Pepper beach a feeling of peace washes over me.  Maybe it's my brain waves syncing up with the tide.  Maybe it's the memories I have as a child splashing through the waves.  The sun rays peaking through the clouds and the glow of the blue/gray ocean balance and calm me. I want to do yoga, sleep and run when I come to this place.

It has been such a good week down in Port Orford with my family.  We haven't been all together for several years and this time has been memorable.  I wish we could all stay here for at least another week, and yet real life awaits.  My sister and bro-in-law will fly out shortly, I'll be heading to Portland and my brother off to where ever the wind takes him.  It's sad parting ways, I only hope we'll all be together sooner than it took last time.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Festivus To All!!!
Christmas morning was magical.  I hope everyone is having a wonderful day regardless of what you celebrate! 

Friday, December 24, 2010

How Lovely Are Your Branches

A week ago I hopped on the train from Seattle.  My sister and brother-in-law got on a plane and my brother took his car. We managed to coordinate our arrivals within a half hour of each other in Portland.  Shockingly there were no delays.  We then proceeded to make the 5 hour drive south to Port Orford where we have spent the week lounging and making the most of family time.
A couple days ago we woke up to a gloriously sunny day and knew it was the perfect day to find our christmas tree.  Throughout my childhood we spent hours and hours driving the logging roads in search of the "perfect" tree; of course, this rarely happened and we could never agree on a tree.  Usually the search would end in desperation as the sun dropped and the rain fell and we were left with a scrawny Charlie Brown tree. Honestly, the tree doesn't really matter; it's the adventure and tradition that means the most.
We all packed into the truck and began the drive up China Mountain.  Not ten minutes passed when my brother spotted a nice tree on the side of the road.  We inspected it and knew it was perfect.  Luckily, my conscience was eased when we noticed it had a disfigured trunk and was growing a steep hill not suitable for survival.
Utku got down to the business of sawing it down with our less than sharp blade.  With such a small trunk, the tree came down quickly.

 The speed in which we found and cut down the tree was unheard of so we spent the remainder of the afternoon seeing the sights and going to the beach.  It's times like this when I so happy to be an Oregonian.

Later that night my sister and brother put up the tree and we all decorated it.  Not the greatest picture, but believe me it is one of my favorite christmas trees yet, made even better with the smug satisfaction of finding the perfect one deep in the wilderness. 

A Day In Birch Bay

A few weeks ago, Wojc and I drove up to Birch Bay north of Seattle to check out a possible temporarily home.  We had some friends from Lake Havasu that offered their cabin until April.  We were pretty pumped to check it out and figured it would be the perfect place to hole up for the winter and write and apply for jobs.
 Unfortunately, the cabin was slightly more shack-like than we had imagine and sadly we marked this off our list of possibilities.  It was fun to take a morning run to Birch Bay State Park and see the quaint little town and I really liked Bellingham; it just wasn't meant to be.

 And so we drove south back to Seattle to continue our search for the perfect place.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

It's the most wonderful time.

I am super pumped for Christmas this year. Oh, what am I saying? I love the holiday and always have. The lights, smells, tree, holiday spirit, music; everything is so magical to me.  As a kid I loved the night before Christmas and all of the anticipation and excitement.
Tomorrow morning I board yet another Amtrak and head south to Portland where I will meet up with my sister and brother-in-law who are flying in from New York and my brother will pick us up and drive us all down to Port Orford.  We haven't all been together for about a year and a half now and I am beyond thrilled.  My siblings are, by far, some of very favorite people.  I can't imagine my life without my bro and sis; really, they are the best. It's pretty cool to genuinely like your family.  With all of us home it feels more like a festive party.
Top on my to do list is watch National Lampoons Christmas Vacation ( and Love Actually, COOK, make hot drinks, wrap presents, sing Christmas songs horribly off key and go on many more hiking adventures.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?

I've been in Seattle for the past week and its been lovely to be at my old stomping grounds.  I've been applying for jobs like a mad woman but there is just not a lot of work out there.  It can be a very frustrating process if you let it; so far, I've managed to maintain a pretty positive outlook.  It's easier to stay positive when most of the jobs I'm applying for I don't really want anyway.  Sure, some income would be nice, but I'm having a bit of an identity crisis and rethinking my career in social services.  I find the work satisfying and motivating but as anyone in social services knows the work can be draining, stressful and emotionally exhausting.  I'm just not sure I want that anymore.  And yet, I'm not sure what I want to pursue and have been thinking deeply about what my true passions are and how I could relate them to employment  I'm not there yet, but I think this is just one of life's never ending struggles.
My sister sent me an article today written by a nurse who had been at many deathbeds and the top 5 regrets she witnessed.
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Sometimes I find myself getting caught up in what I should be doing versus what I want to do.  It's hard to not get wrapped up in the mainstream ideals of happiness even though they are not usually in line with what I want.
The one that really speaks to me right now is number 5.  It really is a choice to be happy and I don't want to look back on these years with regret that I was stressed rather than enjoying my freedom.  Even though I'm unemployed I'm not broke (yet).  Even though I don't have an apartment I'm so lucky to have a support system and connections.  Even though I don't have work I have the much desired freedom that I've always dreamt of.  And so, I will choose happiness and not let this horrendous economy and job outlook effect my mood and happiness.  All my life I day dreamed about being free from school and work and now I am living it, doesn't it make sense to embrace it?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

No Reservations

Oddly enough, one of my favorite memories from this past summer's cross country road trip was sitting round the campfire reading aloud Anthony Bourdain's Medium Raw for both Wojc and I to enjoy. We had some internet/tv/phone withdrawals deep in the Smokey Mountains and what a replacement this was. If you haven't read Bourdain I suggest you run out and pick up Kitchen Confidential or Medium Raw now.  I adore his wit, foul mouth and to the point style...and I'm a vegetarian so that's saying something.
Now go build a campfire and start reading!
On an unrelated note, I really want to drape my future apartment with maps and globes. There's a reason I was a geography minor; I could stare at maps for hours on end.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings

To kill some restlessness and jitters last week, my brother and I decided to make the trek up Humbug Mountain. Humbug is part of the state park about 7 miles south of Port Orford. The mountain is notorious for its steep trail to the summit which is a killer both going up and coming down. We started out in the cold and dreary day. 
As we started up the trail we were taken by surprise by the out of this world misty fog and beauty.
 Environment so lush and ripe that every inch of ground is taken up by ferns, trees and plants. So fertile and untouched you expect to see saplings shoot up and grow before your very eyes.
Imagine a real life Jumanji and this is what you will see. So rich and vibrant it is only magnified by the fog and drizzle.  Lucky for us the trees provided such good coverage we barely go damp.
 By the time you reach the top your legs are like jello and the descent isn't much better for bad knees like my own, but it is all worth it in the end. Mission kill anxiety? Complete.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

So Spectacular You Can See The Earth’s Curvature

It is as close to the end of the Earth you can get.  A place so enormous, so profound you can see the curve of the Earth, the swell of the see and the horizon  stretching as far as the eye can see.

The trail around the Coast Guard Hill Heads in Port Orford is the most beautiful couple miles I’ve had the privilege of seeing in all my 27 years.  Every visitor to our house, everyone of my visits home (and there have been many), every holiday, a hike on the Heads is in order. 

I am not a religious person, but these cliffs looming over the powerful Pacific ocean are a spiritual experience.  I guess I just worship at the church of the great outdoors. 

I went to the Heads on two separate occasions.  The first with my brother and the second with my mom and brother.  Both were different and both spectacular.  And in case you were wondering, these pictures are not edited.  Oh the beauty of my home state!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas Food Court Flash Mob, Hallelujah Chorus - Must See!

Thanks to my mom I was introduced to the best flash mob yet. This is so beautiful it brings tears to my eyes. I'm hoping to see the Seattle Symphony perform Handel's Messiah in a few weeks. What a beautiful piece.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

I'm on a bus.

J and I woke early and hit the road after a 72 hour delay (mainly to watch the Ducks win the civil war) and drove straight through to Eugene.  The highway cutting over to I5 is so beautiful and changes season to season.  We made it to the train station early for me to buy my ticket and headed out to a Mexican market to get some of the best burritos I've had.  
After a saying by to my brother I awaited my chance to board the bus to Portland (where I will transfer to train to Seattle).  I watched a Japanese exchange student bid farewell to her host family and friends that ran up at the last minute and finally board the bus in tears.  Oh how I hate good byes.  I'm so thankful to be back on the west coast and spared the painful departures I endured these past years.  
Now I'm on the bus and in 7 hours I'll be reunited with Wojc and Seattle, the first city I fell in love with.  I'm getting more and more excited about possibly moving back to Seattle.  I lived there for about a year and  a half as an undergrad at the University of Washington.  I little piece of my soul turned dark the day I moved down to Eugene (dramatic much?) and the thought of heading back is getting more and more exciting.  
On another retrospective note, Eugene grows more and more appealing each year that passes.  As a student there, I liked it but I was a little more jaded; now, post New York? It seems like a liberal paradise. Either way, I'm excited to be heading off on adventure and I see really positive things in the coming month.  

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Teach Me How To Duckie

If you are from Oregon then you probably know by now that the University of Oregon Ducks are heading to the National Championship. Which is amazing.
I'm not usually a huge sports fan unless it's the Olympics, the World Cup or the Yankees (be still my heart); but as a proud University of Oregon alumnus, ever since my first football game I've been loyal to the Ducks.  Sure, I might not really watch all of the games but how can you not get behind such a good team, rowdy crowd and sleazy mascot? In celebration of the recent victory over the Oregon State Beavers, here's a little homage to the Ducks.

These clips make me miss UO and the crazy people who live in Eugene.  A creative bunch to say the least.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Lovin' From The Oven

Shockingly, my brother and I did not go on a hike today. I don't know if it was the previous days trek up Humbug Mt (pics shortly) that left me embarrassingly sore or the fact that it was really quite cold, but I spent the first part of my day stressing about life, the middle listening to my dad's Detroit firefighting stories and the end preparing a vegan feast for my family that got me out of my funk.
That's my dad second from left
My mom and brother had decided earlier in the week to eat vegan for a few days and in honor of that (and my own desire to cut out animal products) I decided to try a vegan mac n cheese recipe I've seen in the blogging world for the past year or so.  Unlike most recipes, this doesn't contain nutritional yeast (also known as hippie crack) and is really pretty healthy for a traditionally cheesy pasta dish.
Cooking at my mom's house is so wonderful with her stocked cupboards and equipment.  These days it's even better with her weekly CSA share from a local farm.  Today's share was full of acorn squash, turnips, red and yellow peppers and carrots.  Amazing.
To start the meal I halved the acorn squash and tossed them in the oven along with whole red peppers.  To prepare the mac n cheese I followed VegNews recipe as closely as my ingredients would let me though I only made a half batch.  I was afraid it wouldn't be that great and I didn't want to waste food so I cut it in half.  We only had whole wheat past so I used that, next time I think I will "splurge" and use white pasta. Since Port Orford has limited stores, there were no raw cashews so I substituted tahini. Also, I didn't have a vegan butter substitute so I just added a tablespoon of oil in lieu of butter.  Overall, it was pretty good; in fact, it grows on you so much you want more and more.  Next time when I try it with cashews and white pasta and a little more liquid I think it will be delicious.  And come on, does mac n cheese get any healthier than this?
It doesn't photograph great, but it's good!
 Also? Roasted squash and peppers and tempeh are delicious with the pasta.
To continue my vegan cooking spree I followed Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Carrot and Raisin Muffin recipe and they were delicious: not too sweet but totally satisfying.  Isa is by far one of my most trusted vegan cooks and she's pretty darn cool too.

Apparently that wasn't enough for one day so I whipped up a double batch of chocolate chip cookies for my mom to take to work tomorrow to pass out to the volunteers and inmates out on work-release (isn't my mom the sweetest?).