Wednesday, August 31, 2011

oregon travels, part 3: wine country, day 2

we awoke craving another breakfast from community plate, so there we went. i had the daily quiche + cricket had the steel cut oats with berries. the berries were some of the most amazing berries i've ever tasted!

then, we headed south. we were expected in springfield, oregon around 5pm for flower picking for the wedding, so we just spent the day leisurely lingering between the small towns. the bride called to see if we could pick up her wine club shipment at a winery on our way, so it was a perfect "anchor" of our route. here's a google map of our entire wine country tour, the purple/pink is day 2....

  • st. innocent: it shares a location with zenith vineyards, which is apparently really just an event facility. the wines weren't anything special.
  • johan: the tasting room is very small, but it's a pretty drive that neighbors left coast cellars. the winemaker had had special visitors earlier in the day, so he'd opened a reserve bottle that made it to the tasting menu, so that was nice.
  • left coast cellars: a must-stop if you're in the area. they have a cute tasting room + cafe. after the tasting, we sat on the patio to enjoy lunch. i had the amazing sundried tomato mac + cheese, while cricket ordered a smoked salmon baguette. both were really really good. the best part, we had a visit from bambi while we dined! turns out, the former winemaker was actually at the wedding, too. 
[holy moly mac & cheese]
[lunchtime visit from bambi]
  • van duzer vineyards: we may be biased. my sis had joined their wine club in order to get a case discount for their wedding wine. they treated us like wine club members, since we were there to pick up her seasonal shipment. we spent a good while there, and very much enjoyed the wines. of the day's vineyards, this view was tops. they have a nice patio + were planning their wine club pick-up party. everyone was very friendly. 
[van duzer tasting]
[van duzer patio pic]

we headed on towards corvallis, where we met my sis for ice cream en route to the flower-pickin' farm.  the farm is a hobby of the owners, who designated it a "farm" for tax purposes. i felt like i was in their backyard garden picking the flowers, much against the rule my mom taught me many years ago. luckily, she was there too. not scolding, but picking away.

after picking bucket loads of flowers, we headed to mckenzie bridge, oregon for the wedding festivities!

more oregon adventures coming up...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

oregon travels, part 2: wine country, day 1

after the coast, we headed up the pacific coast highway then headed east to McMinnville, which would be our base for the next two nights. the quaint town is chock full of charm + good eats, and provides a great spot to chill between wine tasting adventures.

we stayed at McMennamin's Hotel Oregon. i love all of the McMennamin's properties i've visited, but they aren't for everyone. they're famous in oregon for rehabilitating older buildings and giving them a new, albeit quirky, life. for example, our room was named after the son of the previous hotel owners. he was BIG into HAM radio, and apparently had a huge antenna extending from the family's upstairs apartment in the hotel. the rooftop bar is a great spot to grab a bite to eat or take advantage of happy hour. everyone is super friendly there. everyone.

we started the day with breakfast at community plate. delish. the vibe + decor are just my style: reclaimed wood counter, industrial farm accents, huge dining tables for community-style dining. the food, just as top-notch.
[the sign just about sums it up. it was yummy, indeed]

[reclaimed wood detail]

[biscuits + gravy]
[egg sammich]

with full bellies, we began our wine country adventure. for those traveling in oregon, you're in luck. a while back, oregon invested in directional signage for the winery industry. you can drive along the highways of wine country and easily be directed to the next winery or vineyard. but, if you want a little pre-planning, i suggest requesting this map. the online version is handy, but the printed version details tasting room hours + highlights.

·     youngberg hill: we arrived at the same time as an overnight group, as it doubles as a B+B. it was a bit chaotic + i was mistaken for someone who worked there while i tried to figure out what was going on. the kitchen was bustling with dinner prep, so it was kinda strange. the wines were ok. amidst the hub-bub, no one asked us to pay the tasting fee, so it wasn't a total loss. i don't know if there actually is one?

·     anne amie vineyards:: worth the stop. BEAUTIFUL views, friendly staff, tasty wines. $10 tasting fee for 5 wines. did i mention they have a row of hammocks just off the patio?

[row of hammocks + linear fire pit at anne amie]

·       winderlea: very contemporary tasting room suspended over the vineyard. the staff was very accommodating, and we sat on the balcony and leisurely enjoyed the wine without any pressure to purchase. i think the fee was $15.
[tasting deck at winderlea]
[martian-looking maintenance worker at winderlea]

·         erath: a wine we're familiar with, so figured we should stop by. the $10 flight was okay, but felt some pressure to purchase. they had a nice patio, but this place felt more like a tourist trap than the others we visited.

·     trisateum: the tasting room was a gallery, and the drive was really pretty. it's a bit pretentious to be in a gallery of the owner's art + pressured to buy his wine. the staff was very friendly, though. it seemed to be a stop on the limo tours, but wasn't too crowded.

·     penner-ash: AMAZING. the views were great, the wine was delish. we'd planned to visit Penner-Ash, but were also referred by a fellow taster we ran into at Trisateum. apparently they were pouring some of their newer award-winning releases of pinot noir that day + we were in luck. we opted for the pinot noir flight + it was great. they have a beautiful deck with views of Mt. Hood. don't miss it!

[penner-ash view of mt. hood]

·     carlton winemaker's studio: this is a treat because it's a joint effort between 3-4 winemakers, so you get to taste a variety. we arrived as a rambunctious group was leaving, but it mellowed out shortly thereafter. i think the flight was $15.

here's a google map of our route.
here's a google earth map from a friend of ours who is very well-informed about the area's wines. we didn't have a chance to visit them all, but maybe you can!

that was an end to day 1's wine trail. we grabbed a snack on the hotel rooftop before dinner where we ran into the purveyors of community plate. we're all friends now. well, they recognized us the next day anyway.

we capped it off with dinner at thistle in downtown McMinnville. we couldn't get in the night prior, so our 8pm reservation was crucial. the restaurant is small, but charming. the only menu is on a large chalkboard, which is tucked into a strange corner. we were seated near the chalkboard, so it wasn't a big deal--but it was awkward when other diners would come stand near our table just to read the menu. i think maybe a 2nd chalkboard on the other side of the dining room would be helpful here. the farm-fresh menu will appeal to all epicurean types. it's definitely worth a try, but they need another server. be ready to order when she comes the first time--you won't see her for a while.

after dinner, back to the hotel. more wine tomorrow...

Monday, August 29, 2011

oregon travels, part 1: the ranch + the coast

Q: where in oregon did you visit on vacation?
A: oregon. just about all of it

the truth is, we put about 1,100 miles on our rental car in 9 days. we saw all sorts of beautiful places + had a GREAT time.

after our late arrivals, Texas Teacher sister and I spent the night in Eugene. we woke up the next morning, appropriately dressed for our ranch adventure, grabbed breakfast at the infamous Voodoo Doughnuts, and headed to costco for the bachelorette party supplies. then to the grocery store, then to the liquor store for the remaining essentials. don't let me forget to tell you about the amazingly delicious maple glazed donut topped with bacon. it's like the perfect bite of a syrup-soaked pancake and crispy bacon. you know the moment...when you dip your bacon in your maple syrup? yummerific.

[maple glazed donut with BACON from Voodo]

note to travelers: oregon is very strict on their liquor sales. you can only buy liquor at dedicated stores, and none of them in the entire state accept AmEx. beer/wine are sold at regular grocery outlets.

we took the pink route to Agency Ranch, near Klamath Falls. we passed by Crater Lake en route, but we didn't stop to check it out...i wish we had. nonetheless, the ranch was gorgeous.

my sister's friend's ranch was the perfect place for the girl's rustic weekend; it was formerly the headquarters of the Klamath tribe. the main ranch house used to be the communications center--where they sent morse code signals and such. pretty freakin' cool. of course, they had no idea that it would turn into bachelorette party central!

there's not much to tell of the bachelorette weekend--what happens at the ranch stays at the ranch, or you get shot with a BB gun. but you can check out these posts on the favors + party games to get an idea of the fun that followed.

on monday, we picked up cricket in Eugene + headed to the west coast, following the turquoise route to Yachats. if you've never seen the Oregon coast, you should. it's beautiful + very different from the beaches we East Coasters are used to sunbathing on. there is no sunbathing here--it's windy + cold. the cliffs are gorgeous and you may even see a seal or two hundred.

in Yachats, we stayed at Terry [blech] A [jerks] While condos. as you can tell, not a fan [i hate to give them any credit with the google crawlers!]. they hate dogs. hate them. hate them hate them hate them. dogs can't even be IN THE CAR IN THE PARKING LOT while you unload your luggage without the threat of a $500 fine. jerks. mean mean jerks. also, they don't actually have wireless internet as claimed on their website. well, they have it in the lobby [which consists of 2 sliding glass doors, a desk chair, and a counter] but not in any of the rooms. oh, and their single iron sucks. you have to use it in the tiny lobby on the rickety ironing board.

the rooms are nice enough for the price, and the view is amazing. just don't expect to be connected or have your pooch with you or have ironed clothes. on principle, i'm not saying anything else positive about them.

[we had the entire 4-unit building, each with private + amazing ocean views]

[me + cricket before leaving the coast]

[perfect reading spot just out the back door]

near Yachats, is Rogue brewery in Newport. we'd planned to visit, but after hearing how the locals aren't big fans of the new corporate mindset, we passed. we also heard rumors of moldy beer. no thanks.

you can find great seafood, though, in Yachats, Waldport and Newport. like this massive bowl of clam chowder cricket ordered [and couldn't finish]:

[my cup o' chowder]

[his "large" bowl of chowder. complete with a pat of butter for extra artery clogging]

wine country adventure coming soon...

m3: mason jar southern peach cobbler

as summer drifts away [okay, seems like kids are back in school but it's still a zillion degrees out], no southern summer is complete without homemade peach cobbler. and why not serve it in a mason jar?


it's a perfect way to serve cobbler, as it's the perfect portion! no fighting for the last bite--everyone has their own. since she's a georgia gal, i'm trusting paula deen knows her way around a peach cobbler filling. i'm adapting the cobbler itself + instructions for the mason jars.

preheat oven to 375.

for the filling:
4 cups [about 16 whole] fresh peaches, peeled, pitted, + sliced into small wedges
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

combine peaches, sugar, + water in heavy saucepan. mix well. bring to boil + simmer about 10 minutes. remove from heat.

for the batter:
1 cup bisquick mix
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 cup melted butter
dash of salt

mix bisquick, water, salt, + milk in mixing bowl. stir well. add melted butter + combine. set aside

assemble the cobbler jars:
line a large baking dish with a non-stick liner [silpat or parchment paper will work]. spray 8 4-ounce mason jars with non-stick cooking spray. place jars in baking dish atop liner.

fill each jar with 3-4 slices of peach filling. top with 1-2 tablespoons of batter.

cook 30-35 minutes until tops are golden + bubbly. let jars cool to touch. top with vanilla ice cream + enjoy.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

bachelorette party favors

to get the bachelorette weekend off to a fine start, i put together a few little projects to make sure everyone was in the right spirit. we were lucky to be hosted at a ranch, which was a former indian reservation. the room where our soon-to-be legendary dance parties occurred was formerly the communication hub for the klamath tribe. morse code, smoke signals, the macarena, the running man--all legitimate forms of communication, right?

i customized acrylic cups for each girl. in my opinion, this is a great favor because it pull double-duty:
1. everyone has her own cup, so she never loses her drink--at least not for long
2. minimal waste + dishwashing

1 double-walled insulated acrylic tumbler per guest. i picked mine up at bed, bath + beyond for about $4 each. mine included lids + straws.
vinyl stick-on letters -- i used the bubbly ones from hobby lobby, found in the scrapbooking section. it's important these are vinyl [or coated] so they'll hold up to any spillage. each package was $3.99, and i needed 2 packs.
rhinestone letter for the bride, also in the same section.
additional stick-on bling as you see fit--also in the scrapbooking section of your local hobby lobby.

wash + dry the cups:

apply the monogram + bling on each cup. press very firmly. i used each girl's first initial + flanked the monogram with a rhinestone for added sparkle. for the bride herself, she got the fancy cup! her new last name will be Green, so of course her cup was green: 

i also made a special bowl for the 4-legged honoree. afterall, mabel was getting an official daddy out of this!

i started with an acrylic pedestal serving bowl (from the party ware section of hobby lobby), washed + dried:

added the letters, some rhinestones, + a feather boa...and voila:

she was absolutely thrilled about it!

bachelorette party games

since the guest list included friends from all over the world [yes, switzerland was represented], it was important to have an icebreaker to kick off the weekend.

seeing that we were at a ranch, Texas sis + i felt everyone should first have a pink bandana on them at all times. it's like party flare. here we are at the ranch. yes, we match intentionally. it felt appropriate.

[texas sis + me ready for the ranch!]
a few other bandana highlights [we had regular paisley + pink camo options]. really, there are so many ways to accessorize with a bandana! which is your favorite?

[a headband]
[a necklace]

[a belt]

game #1: toilet paper gown
to start this game, the bride wrote a brief description of each girl on a piece of paper. Texas sis + i took turns drawing the descriptions to determine who'd be on each of our teams. as you can imagine, the descriptions often required a funny story to be told, all the while helping us all know a little more about each other.

once the teams were determined, the game began. the rules: using only 2 rolls of toilet tissue and your bandanas, design a bridal ensemble for the bride-to-be. you have 5 minutes + the bride will be the judge.

hilarity! that's all i can say. the winning design included a bouquet of TP roses, which the bride practiced tossing...

game #2: newlywed game
this is a fave of mine for showers + bachelorette parties. prior to the party, we asked the groom a handful of questions. everything from "when did you know O was the girl for you?" to "what is your favorite color?"
[bride-to-be in the hot seat]
as the bride opened her lingerie gifts, we posed those questions to her to see how many she could answer correctly. we made a drinking game of it--that way no one really loses. for every question she answered correctly, the guests had to drink. for those she got wrong, it was her turn.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

soon to be cruisin'

we've been planning to rebuild a vintage bike we bought off Craigslist for $60. we named the effort "the gidget project" in honor of the original 50's surfer chick who was initially overlooked by the fellas but ultimately won over the one and only moondoggie. but we've been slack, and, well, buying is a better option. wayyyyyy too many options out there to customize a bike for me, a casual rider.

so we've been cyberstalking lately for a vintage-styled cruiser for yours truly. and recently cricket got the alert that more were in stock! we missed the initial window but were able to snag one shortly thereafter. I love folks who put things in their cart and neglect to purchase. suckers! thank you very much.

it's the windsor Oxford deluxe in "ocean" and ain't she a beaut?

the deluxe (cue weezy and her apt in the skyyyyyyyyyy) means I get a rear rack, a bell, and a beverage holder. schweeeeeeeet! kinda like this:

I'm super excited to have wheels to cruise the neighborhood on! now I just need somewhere to go...

if you see me cruisin' down the road, give me a honk. I'll give you a solid bell ring back, and likely raise my cold beverage! the question you think Lula will be up for a ride in a basket???

Monday, August 22, 2011

m3: mason jar vases

okay, this isn't rocket science. but it sure give me an excuse to share photos of my sister's amazing wedding in oregon! the talented chris becerra took the amazing photos, kudos incredibly well deserved. be sure to check out his full post.

[the beautiful guest book was a gift from college friend Vivian the Bolivian. according to her native tradition, each guest signs a page with a personal note. the newlyweds later add a photo of the signatory to the page, so it serves as a photo memento]

[cheers to the beautiful bride + dashing groom!]

[gorgeous stems we picked at the u-pick farm in springfield, oregon + lovingly arranged by raina powell]

oh, and a few of the party pennants i diy'd!

[O + H = OH! get it??]

[the bride used remnants from my pennant project to fashion the banner for the cake. so cute, right?]

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

party pennant tutorial

for sister's oregon wedding, i was commissioned to fashion yards upon yards of party pennants. i think they turned out festive + fun...what do you think?

[photo courtesy of Vivian the Bolivian]
the project began when my sis sent me a crate full of remnant fabric pieces she'd picked up throughout san francisco. it ran the gamut from bright + cheery cotton prints to muted old-fashioned damask.

  • fabric remnants (at least 18" square)
  • jute twine or other ribbon/string, cut to the length you want your banner to be, plus at least 18" on each end for easy hanging
  • fabric glue
  • sewing machine
  • thread
prepping your triangles...
  1. create a triangle template the size of your liking by folding a piece of cardstock in half lengthwise, drawing a line from the unfolded edge to the folded edge at the angle degree of your choice. cut along the line and unfold to reveal your perfectly symmetrical pattern.
  2. fold a piece of fabric in half
  3. lay the pattern on top of the fabric, with the short straight edge against the fold.
  4. cut along the angled edges, cutting through both layers of fabric
  5. you should have two triangles, connected at the folded edge
  6. repeat with all of your fabric

positioning the pennants...
  1. unroll your twine to the desired length on a large flat surface
  2. place your triangle pennants along the twine, spacing as you like. i spaced mine approx 12-15" apart.
  3. place the twine inside the folded edge of each triangle
  4. pin into place

attaching the pennants...

  1. use a large zig-zag stitch to sew the folded edge to the twine of the first triangle
  2. cut the thread and repeat with each triangle
  3. once finished sewing all triangles, extend the banner on a large work surface. it should lay flat.
  4. place a small squiggle of fabric glue to each of the pennants. this attaches the front to the back + also gives them a little weight to prevent flipping + twisting--especially useful if using the banners outdoors or in a windy environment. this will help them hang straight + gently flutter in the breeze.
hang the banner + enjoy!