Feast, the recap!

I’ve been back a little while from Feast now, and I still can’t get over how amazing the whole time was. Was it that I had time to myself, or the chance to see old friends? Was it the late nights, fires, food and drink? Or was it that the whole event the perfect combination of things?

Yes, that’s it.  I keep trying to recap Feast for people, happily sharing pictures, salivating over some amazing jerk goat tacos, and I keep thinking; how do I best describe this event to someone who has never been, to convince them to join me next year. What have I come up with?

Imagine Feast as your very own Willy Wonka-leading you through a world of amazing delights in the form of food and drinks; each event more wondrous than the last. You keep eating, feeling a little like Violet Beauregarde with each delectable bite and savored sip (it’s OK, go on and have a little more, you’ll be fine!).

I went to quite a few events at Feast Portland, including, cocktail events with Bull in China, Smoked!, The Grand Tasting Events (oh, so wonderful), breakfast at Gracie’s over in Hotel deLuxe, the Brunch Village, and even managed to get in a couple of Drink Tanks to learn more about cocktails. There’s something for everyone here, whether it’s small plate nibbles, to large portions of perfectly barbecued meat. Feast is really your go to event to attend if you love wonderful food-and really, who doesn’t?! Still not convinced?? Hopefully these pictures convince you.

bbq-and-fire beets beingets bon-apetit-magazine breakfast breakfast-shot champagne-and-fruit cheese chef chicken cider cocktails cocktails-with-plants delicious eat-dessert-first kite-hill lamb lemonade pear-dessert pear-dishes pears rosemary-cocktail smoked tamales us-pears

Well, dear reader, there you have it; so many reasons for you to prep plan your attendance for Feast Portland, which by the way will be: September 14th-17th. Will I see you there?

Yours in adventure and oh, so delicious food.
Raina

Beer Friday: Feast Portland Edition

beer

It’s Friday and it’s been a while since we’ve had a Beer Friday post! I am less than a week away from Feast Portland (check out my recent write up on Feast for my plans), and I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to attend. Aside from the great food, there’s some stellar beer and cider that will be there and you can be sure I’ll be sipping and savoring my way through all of them.  Seriously, check out the line up here!  Here you have it, what I am most excited to have again, and what I can’t wait to try with this edition of Beer Friday: Feast Portland!  Let’s start with some old favorites, shall we?

First up is Base Camp Brewing-I won’t lie, the first time I had their beer, I only bought it because of the cool aluminum 22 ounce bottles (they also have cans). Their beers didn’t disappoint and the lightweight cans were perfect for camping. Once I had the S’more Stout, I was hooked. Later, it became the perfect beer to be used in pancakes, adding a sweet but deep and dark yeast flavor that went perfectly with a pat of butter and a side of bacon. Plus, breakfast beers are outstanding! I haven’t had a beer from Base Camp that I didn’t enjoy, but I was particularly fond of the S’more stout and the Lost Meridian  Wit.

Next up is Bridgeport Brewing-What I love about these guys is how easy it is to find their beer-whether you’re at Full Throttle Bottles, or Safeway, you’re going to spot them. Their beers are consistent from batch to batch and the price for a case is usually below $16, which is affordable. Their “year round” beers you’re likely to spot in stores are IPA heavy, but they offer some other solid non-IPA brews, too. I recently had their Stumptown Cherry Saison. It’s a good tart, kick in the lips that isn’t overly fruity. It’s a good summer beer that pairs well with lawn work and sitting in a hammock.

I’m getting crazy here y’all and including my favorite cider company, Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider -A while back, one of my close friends moved to Portland, and started posting pictures of his drinks and the amazing events at the taproom. I had to know what was so amazing about these ciders that he was there weekly (or more). SO. MANY. AWESOME. CHOICES! It’s going to be hard for me to narrow it down, folks. First up is my favorite-the Hallelujah Hopricot (yes, you read that right); the name says it all; it’s slightly hoppy, slightly fruity, and oh so good. It’s amazing as a pork marinade, or with pork in general and it’s crisp and tart enough to cut through moderately fatty foods. It’s a solid choice. Next up is the Deliverance Ginger Tonic. This is a great base for a whiskey ginger-no simple syrup needed! The Revival Hard Apple is just what you would expect from a cider-crisp, a little sweet; kind of like early fall in a bottle. I’m really looking forward to their Winter Abbey Spice next, which hopefully will be out in the coming months. I could go on and on about these guys.

Lastly, because they make some damn good beers that I both love to cook with and enjoy drinking, is Burnside Brewing. My favorite for green chicken chili is their Sweet Heat. Add a 22 ounce bottle, some hatch peppers and a ton of garlic and you have an amazing base to a solid chili. Don’t let that sweet fool you, it’s a tasty, tasty beer. Also amazing is their Oatmeal Pale, while I haven’t cooked with it, I have had enough of it to know you should go grab a few bottles! You can thank me later.

Now that you know what I love and have vetted for you (it’s a hard life, I tell ya), what am I excited to check out?

Nectar Creek Mead has really piqued my interest, particularly their Strawberry Rhubarb, which comes in at a whopping 9.8% abv. I’ll be sipping this one! As an herbalist I can’t wait to try the Clary Sage Session Mead as well.

Worthy Brewing also has a few beers I want to try-both for drinking and cooking!  Their Lights Out Vanilla Cream Extra Stout seems like something that needs to be the base for an ice cream float, or maybe added to a waffle mix with bourbon syrup. My heart also beats for a good German beer, so I’ll have to try out their Easy Day Kolsch.

Last, but not least, I can’t wait to check out Yachats Brewing. They have a Huckleberry Wheat that may be calling my name, and the Tears of the Innocent sounds delicious-a sour wit? Yes, please!

Are you thirsty yet? I know I sure am.  This isn’t all of the breweries that will be at Feast, but a good summary. You should come check out the Portland beer scene and let me know which ones are your favorites!  For those of you in the know, what are your go to breweries and which beers should I not miss?

Yours in delicious beers,

Raina

On the road to Feast Portland

I’m heading to Portland, y’all and I couldn’t be happier. 4 days solo, eating and drinking my way through Feast Portland, and visiting with friends. I can’t think of a better way to spend some hard-earned time off. I’ve been waiting for feast for months and can’t wait to drive down to Portland to enjoy all it has to offer. Not sure what Feast is?  Oh, dear reader…you’re in for a treat!

Imagine a place where you can eat and drink amazing treats prepared expertly with passion for days on end, selecting events that appeal to you.  Whether it’s classes on wine pairing, or cooking salmon perfectly, and even cooking competitions, Feast has you covered.  You have to prepare early, tickets to the events sell out quickly and are well worth the light price tag!

I know you’re curious! What will I be doing, and what should you do next time you’re in Portland? Read on!

First, off I’ll be staying in an Air BnB, close to downtown, so I don’t miss a thing. For less than a hotel, I have a full house with a kitchen and a yard to relax and entertain fellow foodies. The idea of having a true home away from home is perfect. I also get to have my car, so I don’t have to stay locked in to one area if I don’t want to (but Lyft and Uber accounts on the ready should I be drinking). I’ll be flying solo, and the idea of sleeping in a king bed without a toddler’s feet in my back sounds amazing. Mom’s, are you feeling me on this one??  Let Feast be your next get away!  Since Thursday is my most open day, I’ll be hitting Powell’s Books to grab a few new reads before chatting with friends over dinner. I’ll likely call it an early night, reading in front of the fireplace.

Friday, I’ll start my day over at Gracie’s at Hotel DeLuxe for a quick breakfast, and spend a few hours exploring downtown without an agenda. What I love about Portland, is that you’re close to so much, and it’s a pedestrian friendly city. Each block has a treasure and a new shop to explore.

I’ll be attending a few events, focusing on the Grand Tastings on Friday and Saturday, where I’ll be fawning over cheeses from Rogue Creamery, sipping amazing brews from one of my favorite’s Base Camp Brewing, and even sampling some wines from Andrew Will and others. I’m ready to chat with familiar chefs and to taste their exciting offerings, but also so excited find some new favorites. Feast is like that, you can meander through tasting as you go with this event, not having to stick to one thing!

When I am not at the Grand Tastings, I’ll be hitting various happy hours and even attending one of the Drink Tank events-witnessing chefs, distillers and brewers pair off for challenges and tastings? Yes, please!

Sunday will also have me stopping by the Brunch Village, hosted by Whole Foods Market. I’m hoping for a French 75 combo with gin from Aria Portland Dry Gin and champagne from Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte, which would be a wonderful addition to any brunch.

So many suggestions and so many stops to make as part of Feast. Get your tickets, get a place to stay and enjoy all that feast has to offer. Need more reasons to attend Feast? Check out their Instagram feed for delicious inspiration and motivation to come join me!

If you’re attending Feast Portland, what are you most excited for?

~Yours in culinary delights~

Raina

 

 

 

40 by 40

Happy 4th of July, all!  Tomorrow I turn 38. It’s not really a milestone birthday, but it is another year closer to 40. I’m pretty excited for that birthday, ushering in a new decade, closing out the old one. I’m excited to see that that looks and feels like. Every few years, I write a list of things I want to accomplish by a certain age, like this one I wrote before turning 35. I’m excited to share with you my list of things to accomplish in the next two years, my 40 by 40 list!

Before I get to that list, I have to share how things have gone so far!  This birthday week has been pretty darned good. I’ve been off seeing friends, getting things ticked off the to-do list, eating and drinking wonderful things. The highlight, however, had to be this-you know, just hanging out with these AMAZING birds! I didn’t expect when I went to a BBQ next door, that I’d get to pet a 40 day old owl and handle a falcon. I shouldn’t be surprised, this neighborhood always has magical things happening.

Raina and owl Izzy and owl falcon

The rest of the long weekend will be spent with friends, chatting about old times, sipping cold beers, and eating way too much. There will be hikes, and fireworks, hugs, and well-wishes, so much love and I can’t think of a better way to wrap up 37. I am truly lucky to have such a good life, with great people surrounding me. So, what will the next two years bring? Adventure, excitement, food and more happiness, I am sure based on how this past year has gone and by what I have planned in my new 40 by 40 bucket list!

My 40 by 40 List

1. Do something that scares me, often!
2. Go to Canlis
3. Finally get that tattoo!
4. Pay off a large bill-not super exciting, but getting rid of any bill is more cash for fun 🙂
5. Be more accepting of my body, strengths and flaws
6. Go overseas again/travel more
7. Continue to get in shape
8. Skate more
9. Learn to knit
10. Make sourdough, actually keep it alive for more than 1 week
11. Do 5 push ups, well. Yeah, I said it. 5.
12. Do more karaoke
13. Make a blood orange olive oil milkshake like the one at the Olive Pit, in California-so good!
14. Fix up the garage and make it into a studio
15. Raise rabbits
16. Make more quilts
17. Finish up my herbalism classes
18. Eat less processed foods
19. Rock climb again
20. Hunt a deer and properly butcher it
21. Write more (hmmm…check?)
22. Make cheese
23. Go clam digging
24. Set up a friend version of Outstanding in the Field.
25. Teach Izzy to fish
26. Find more happiness-actively seek it out, and hold it tight
27. Successfully grow peas and carrots, and not little dinky ones
28. Bring Izzy backpacking
29. Take a photography class
30. Dance more
31. Build the fence that has been sitting in raw materials in my garage for 10 years
32. Kayak on Lake Washington
33. Ride in a hot air balloon
34. Go to Disneyland
35. Camp on a beach
36. Buy more nice knives
37. Teach more
38. Hike to a hot spring
39. Take a train ride
40. Read more

That’s it, my 40 X 40 list! What would you add?  Any of these that you’ve already done?

Yours in finding adventure,
Raina

 

 

Make, Mend, GO!

This week I am turning Make, Mend, Grow into Make, Mend, GO!  I spent 10 days on the road with the family driving through Yellowstone, as well as taking side trips into Montana, Idaho, and other areas of Wyoming. We took our time driving to explore, do some critter watching and to eat some amazing food. Kiddo and I went on hikes, swam, and relaxed and it was a great trip over all. My car, which I bought two months ago, now has over 4,000 miles and I think it’s safe to say it’s officially broken in.

The weather was all over the map-sunny and warm, raining, hailing, sleeting and snowing often changing within 15 minutes. I am always in awe of Wyoming and Montana, how big the sky is and how far you can see, which makes for impressive storm watching opportunities. While we were waiting for Old Faithful, we watched a storm roll in-the weather changed from sunny and warm, to a light rain, and to snow, all in the short time we were there. I was quickly reminded that layers were my pal on this trip!

This wasn’t my first time to Yellowstone. Last time we were here, I was newly pregnant with Izzy and was just starting navigate the hunger, tiredness and uncertainty of what I should and shouldn’t eat on vacation.  It will always hold a special place in my heart, as it was one of our last big trips as a couple and just the two of us, but this time was by far the most special trip I have had to Yellowstone. Being able to see the park through Izzy’s eyes was amazing. We walked slowly on the boardwalks, looking at every crack and fissure in the ground around the pools, every bison had to be named, and every tiny chipmunk had to be talked to. We had to see if the snow in Yellowstone was different than the snow in Seattle (yes), and if the puddles were more puddley and jump-worthy than at home (jury is still out). Having her with me, being forced to slow down and be more mindful made me appreciate the trip so much more. I noticed so many tiny details and had more conversations about why things were the way they were, turning the trip into an educational opportunity since she was so fascinated. This kiddo, she makes every adventure so much more exciting.

I can’t wait to go back and see the park through her eyes as she gets older, but for now, I’ll cherish this trip and all of the memories we had! What is YOUR favorite part of Yellowstone?

Bison Yellowstone National Park Bison herd Yellowstone National Park Isabella Yellowstone National Park Elk Yellowstone National Park bull elk Yellowstone National Park Yellowstone National Park chipmunk waterfall thermal pool, steam, Yellowstone National Park Grand Canyon of Yellowstone National Park IMG_1491 IMG_1493 bear bear wolf wolf Grand Tetons Yellowstone National Park Yellowstone National Park Geyser Basin Yellowstone National Park hiking Yellowstone National Park chipmunk bear homestead barn

A glimpse

airforce dad

Driving home from work Wednesday, I caught a glimpse of a man who I swore was my dad. Same salt and peppered wild and coarse hair, unkempt and growing out from his usual military haircut covered slightly by a fisherman’s cap.  The same clothes too big, on a small and too-tired frame, wild-eyed and wandering with a slightly medicated walk. I slowed and came to a stop, staring. It wasn’t my dad, of course. He’s been gone 4 years later this month, but for a few seconds I found myself resisting the urge to park and run after this stranger, just to make sure.

That’s the thing with loss, especially tragic loss, years later it still doesn’t seem real.

My light turned green, and the Dad lookalike moved on, swallowed by a sea of people, heading home from their jobs or to wherever they were headed. I thought about it on the way home-was it really that he looked like my dad? Sure, there were similarities, or was it that haunting stare of mental illness that shadowed his face that made me think of my Dad? As much as I try to keep the good memories in front, the sad and dark ones creep in. Memories of pain and terror in my Dad’s face, his muscles strained, as he tried to make sense of the flashbacks that were haunting him as I tried to help him understand that it wasn’t real, that he was in his hallway at home and that I was there. Feelings of complete helplessness as he spiraled further down into mental illness, unwilling to accept help, until the very end.

I kept thinking about that man; did he have someone who was there for him? Was there a daughter like me, tired but wanting to try, expecting to finally get that call that he was gone, after so many attempts at ending his life? How was she holding up?

4 years and logically I get that he ‘s gone, but emotionally it’s still hard to accept. This time of year is hard for me. I dive into work, keep myself busy with friends and events, but it still creeps in and hits me like a punch to the gut: he’s gone and he won’t be back. I get in a good cry or two and move on, the waves of sadness coming and going. There’s nothing that makes the feelings go away, but I did learn the hard way that shoving the anger, the grief, the sorrow deep down is a recipe for disaster, coming out in the form of reflux, sleepless nights, and the inevitable crying. So I sit with my grief and think about my Dad, cherishing the good times, reconciling the bad and waiting for this to pass.  Here’s to the memory of my Dad, gone too soon; and that man, whoever he was, and him getting to where he was going.

How do you deal with grief?
Yours in love

Raina

P.S. Totally confused? You can read about that time in my life here in the lower posts on that page.

Taste Washington – A recap

I. Love. Wine. If you follow my Instagram, or have ever come to my house, you’ll see that I do not have a shortage of wine.  It’s a nice way to wind down a long day, it’s always perfect for a celebration, or a girls night.

Recently I attended the Taste Washington event held yearly here in Seattle and hopefully you did too! Wait, you didn’t?!  Let me show you quickly why you need to plan ahead and attend this event next year.
Taste Washingtoncured meat platedessertstacopearl and stone wine coB. Leighton

That’s just a quick glance, too! Taste Washington 2016 was held at the Century Link Event Center March 31st through April 3rd, and boasted 225 wineries, 65 restaurants, and various food businesses. Each row was filled with groups sampling their best products. It was a perfect opportunity to stroll through the event, learn about the wineries, meet the vintners, chefs, and taste to your hearts content. I saw old favorites, and found some new wines as well. So what did I love?

Let’s start with the old favorites:

Bartholomew Winery

In addition to being an all around nice guy, Bart Fawbush makes some wines that are solid too. Located in the old Rainier Brewery Building, the husband and wife team have an intimate tasting room where you can enjoy a tasting or a glass (or two). I love their Carmenere and the Aligote, and they even make a lovely Rose. The prices range from $17-$38 a bottle, and you won’t be disappointed.

Cave B

Cave B will always have a place in my heart, not just for the wine, but for the resort. I stayed there years ago, pre-baby and had one of the best vacations in recent memory. Located in the Columbia Valley, the winery boasts a wonderful restaurant, amazing grounds, and stellar Cliffehouses. The wine is wonderful as well, particularly the Semillion and the Barbera. The wines, like the grounds can be pricey, but I love them so it’s worth it. You’re looking at between $18-$50 a bottle.

Efeste

This is one of those wineries that has been like coming back to an old friend-reliable, fun, not dramatic. I had a chance to try their Sauvage Savignon Blanc and instantly thought of pairing it with seafood. So light and fun. Prices here will run you $25-$60.

Kestral

Oh, Kestral, you remind me of so many trips to Leavenworth with friends, and nights out on Capitol Hill. I love their port, their Signature Series Petit Verdot, and their Raptor House Syrah. It’s easy drinking backyard barbecue wine, that you can pick up at any local grocer, and the price point is also easy: $13-$60, with most coming in at or under $20 a bottle.

I could go on about old favorites (Owen Roe, Scarborough, Nota Bene), but how about something new?

Charles Smith

A recent addition to Georgetown, over by Sisters and Brothers restaurant, is a funky tasting room offering multiple wines. My favorites were the B. Leighton Petit Verdot and the Gratitude. The Secco Pinot Noir Rose was fun and fizzy, and the prices range from an easy to swallow $12 to a totally worth it $45. Some of the labels (Kung Fu Girl, for example), can also be found at your local grocer, but why not stop by their Jet City tasting room?

Pearl and Stone

Last up was a new (to me) winery that was one of the last of the night. Passionate about their wines, and excited to share, the Pearl and Stone team were a joy to hang out with. I tasted their Unemployment Beach (a rose) and Wandering (a tasty red blend). Both were nice easy to drink wines that would pair perfectly with friends and a fire on the beach. The prices were easy too, coming in at $18-$30.

There you have it! I highly recommend attending next year and making a weekend of it. You won’t be disappointed.

What Washington wineries are your favorite?

~Yours in wine~

Raina

 

 

On holding back

This is one of those posts that don’t really fall into a category, it’s about me and my thoughts and giving you, dear reader, a little glimpse into mommahood over here at MMG.

True story: I hold back. I don’t always jump in with both feet. Sure, I make some shit show decisions, but lately…there’s a block. There’s a wall, and seriously, I don’t even know what to do with it. I don’t even know if I would have realized it, had it not been pointed out to me by a friend lately and there was even a perfect descriptor: Tentative.

And it’s true. And weird. When the hell did I become shy; so unsure? When did I start holding back and stop doing what I know makes me happy? When did I start second guessing things in my personal life?

Work? Pfft. I’ve got that. I’m pretty darned confident in my decisions and requests. You need something researched, handled, coordinated? I’m on it. Process or program changes? I’m your gal. That kinda stuff is my strong suit-it’s not about me which really makes it easier. It’s about getting things done and improvements made. It has a start and end. The crazy and flux doesn’t get to me as I know I can handle or control it and happily, the buck often stops with me.

I clock out, and it’s like a light switches off. Call it decision fatigue, being tired from being “on”, or whatever, but I just start questioning everything. I leave work, come home and the house that was just clean is destroyed (as in toddler level warfare went on while I was out). Being a mom is tough, and stressful and I second guess everything and worry that I am not doing enough (who doesn’t!?). Kiddo has been in a phase (ummm…since birth) where I am her favorite person, which means constant snuggles, games, dancing, and at the risk of sounding like a kid myself-constant touching. She’s an awesome side kick, but holy crap, when can a gal pee by herself??

You combine all that with very little “me” time and shit yes, I am tentative. At the end of the day, I have no energy left for decision making as I am in mom survival mode and I am tired.

So. Damn. Tired.

I’ll own it. I don’t need to volunteer for multiple organizations and blog in addition to being mom and corporate job lady. I don’t need to pack my calendar full, but you know what? I do. That cocktail with friends? I am pretty sure that’s keeping me sane. The class I co-teach weekly? I can bring kiddo and she gets to play with other kids. Writing? I keep that around to get this all out of my head.

So where does that leave me? Well…I…huh. I have no idea, but something has to give. I’m starting to bring it back to the way I handle work: delegate, coping skills, and write it down to get it done.

I made the decision that I’m getting a maid-my spare time and sanity are worth the cost. I’m restocking my wine fridge, too.  Those things I want that make me happy, or provide a reprieve from the crazy? Add those to list as I’m doing those too. Is this going to make me less tentative? Maybe not in all scenarios, but something has to give, and dammit. It can’t be me again.

So bring on the wine, the momma’s night out, date nights…it’s time for a change. Oh, and new maid? I’m sorry in advance.

How do you find balance when you have to be “on” all the time?

~Yours in momma craziness~
Raina

 

 

Back to a moment

It’s funny how a scent can do so much-bring you back to a moment, connect you to someone, remind you of a place. For me, scent is emotive, and I connect so many scents with memory.

Tonight, I reached for soap to wash my hands, grabbing blindly to wash off my kiddos bright blue bathwater after letting out the drain plug. I inhale.

Johnson & Johnson’s no more tears bath wash. I smile. I never buy it. It’s crap, but her dad picked some up.

I inhale and smile again. Instantly, I am at Seattle Children’s Hospital, out of the NICU and in specialty care. We’re being taught how to give our 5 day old baby a bath with an ng tube.

There’s squeals; mine and hers. Laughter; ours and the medical staff. Everyone has gathered around our little amazing baby as they know we’re on our way out of the hospital soon. That smell; that clean, soapy smell reminds me of every passed medical test we had to go through, every exam, every medical team amazed at how strong my baby was, at how strong we were.

I stop and look at Izzy now, post bath. Her hair is slicked down and she’s so big now, reasoning with me why she shouldn’t have to eat dinner or go to bed. She’s three and soon, she won’t need me. I inhale and smile. She’s still my baby girl.

Izzy pic

Yours in love

Raina

A Sweet Adventure

Not to brag, but I may have the most adorable Valentine! I’ve been itching to get on the road and to go on a sweet adventure with kiddo, plus we have a new snowsuit that I have been dying to see her in. For Valentines Day, we hit to road to Snoqualmie Pass and had ourselves a snowy adventure!

Kiddo, looking like a well-dressed Oompa Loompa, made her way through the snow banks pretty well  getting stuck briefly here and there. She and her little best friend slid down hills, threw snowballs and had an overall great time.

The adults also had fun rolling around the snow, having snowball fights,  and then locating beer at Dru Bru Brewery, and ordering a massive “Wookie” pizza at Pie For the People. I’m not sure who had more fun-the kids, or the adults (it may have been me, I won’t lie).

Next year, I’ll definitely be heading for a road trip. This, dear reader, may be THE best way to spend Valentines Day. This also wraps up our last day of Valentines Day post, celebrating all things happiness and love, and I really can’t think of a better way to end this series than with some adorable pictures of our family and friends!

Izzy in the snow with Daddy-A sweet adventureSnowball fight! -A sweet adventureA cute snow toddler -A sweet adventure Snow giggles -A sweet adventure Lauren sledding -A sweet adventure Stuck in snow Princess Leia Snowy toddler Eating snow

How did you spend YOUR Valentines Day?

Yours in snowy fun and a sweet adventure,

Raina