Project 365

This Year:

#1 Happy 2016!

01 January 2016 // Portland, Oregon

Good morning to you! And happy 2016! May the parties you unintentionally end up DJing be okay with you just playing Latin remixes of your favorite songs and in the words of Dawes, may all your favorite bands stay together.

I’m surprised I woke up this early. Sort of.

To be honest, 2015 is a tough one to leave behind. Wedding year and all that. And also, I’m hardcore anticipating 2017. Yes, I said 2017, when I’m done with grad school and free to do something new.

But it’s 2016. I woke up just now in Portland. I’m spending the day with a few good friends. Once they finally wake up, that is. Much like this year, I have no idea what’s in store for today. I’m not even sure what’s open around town. But I’ve got some good company so I’m sure it’ll be a memorable one.
Today and this year.

#2 Escapism Portland

02 January 2016 // Portland, Oregon

Had a lot of fun at Dr. Zylchov’s escape room this morning… but not as much fun as Daniel, considering the theme of this room escape consisted of cats and molecular-level science.

Actually, I’m pretty proud of how we did. Almost nineteen minutes to spare. We killed it.

At this point, all of my 2016 can be summed up as eat and escape the room. Good year so far.

#3 Snowfall

03 January 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

We only get a day or two of snow each year, if that, so this was pretty exciting to wake up to.

The first half of the day, while we stayed in, was very Calvin and Hobbes. Little kids in our complex made sleds out of garbage can lids and kept crashing into someone’s parked pickup.

The second part of the day, when we had more errands, called for trying to pull cars out of driveways by force. A lot more Snowpiercer.

2016 has yet to fully sink in. The past few weeks have been wild ones. I’ve had visitors and I’ve been a visitor, sometimes doing both those things at the same time. With a few days to slow it way down before South Africa, it’ll be nice to let the present sink in some more.

#4 Daniel at Vero

04 January 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

So glad Daniel I could ring in the new year together, almost like Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper. Almost.

Also glad I didn’t lose my friend forever sliding down an icy mountain.

Come back to Oregon. We’ll have more donuts ready.

#5 Six Month Gift

05 January 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Got our mail that was held at the post office while we were away the past few weeks and found this treat… Some really neat card stock square prints of wedding photos from our photographer… Thanks Becky!

At the moment, here’s a few good things I’ve been thankful for.

Getting to have Daniel in town for a few days— Having visitors has always made me excited, especially while I’ve been living further away from my closest friends. I especially like it when they’re the sort of visitor I can totally be myself around.

Blue Star Donuts— Particularly for their Egg Nog Brûlée and rum donut. A brûlée donut is such a good idea, and they’re quite generous with the rum.

Getting to do another room escape— its a hot, trendy activity now, and I hope the trend is here to stay.

#6 French Baguettes

06 January 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

This year, I’ve made myself a list of 52 recipes I’d love to have mastered by the end of the year. Half of these items are basics I should really know how to master. The other half are things I’ve eaten before that I’ve thought were really yummy and wondered if I could make myself. I’ll be doing what people who do this sort of thing do, which is chronicling my challenge by blog.

Item number one of this year… the French baguette. One of my favorite simple lunches is a slice of prosciutto and a bit of brie sandwiched in a fresh baguette, so these are nice to have on hand. Plus, one of my favorite things about the middle east are the bread vendors who come around every morning with fresh baguettes. They introduced me to the wonders of a really simple but really good egg and cheese baguette sandwich. That fresh baked bread makes a world of difference.

These suckers are actually really sensitive to temperature and humidity. The dough will rise very differently from one part of the country to the next… probably from one room to the next.

Actually, that’s the great debate in New Orleans. The bread process I’m using is used to make the buns of a po’boy sandwich. But does that make it a French baguette? Some would argue that the Delta humidity alters the dough way too much that it’s its own animal.

I guess you could maybe make that argument for the Middle East’s dryness too.

#7 Jozi Prep

07 January 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Looooooonnng day. Spent most of it doing prep for South Africa.

After getting my computer ready for travel, clearing up memory on all my stuff that usually runs out of memory, making a list of things to buy before going, phone calls and other details, the pending trip is finally beginning to sink in.

And I’m really excited.

From everything I’ve heard, a TON has changed since my last visit three years ago… A lot good, some not quite as good, but probably mostly good. From the sound of things it won’t be as big of a challenge to navigate my way around as it was last time.

Also, the last microloan I gave out in October didn’t work out because the person never collected the money… So it was returned. I still want to give this thing a legit shot so I found another person looking for one.

Looking forward to seeing you again soon, Africa!

#8 Piano Man

08 January 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Coming to the end of my little bit of time in Eugene before going out to South Africa. Decided to take a break from all the trip planning and packing to spend some time with my GCF friends.

That was a good call. We ended up with Andrew on the piano, playing name that tune and just riffing off of nostalgic old ideas.

But, speaking of the South Africa trip, I am getting really excited for that. From all I’ve heard via phone calls and emails, so much has changed that will likely make this a much more productive and enjoyable visit. Looking forward to it!

#9 Running Through Amazon Park

09 January 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

“Initially you’re overwhelmed. But gradually you realize it’s like a wave. Resist, and you’ll be knocked over. Dive into it, and you’ll swim out the other side.”

—The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

If these words were spoken by the Dame Judy Dench, they must be taken seriously.

I don’t like to run. I live in Tracktown, USA, birthplace of Nike and host of this year’s Olympic trials. Still don’t like to run.

I wish I could learn how to like running. I know how to run. I don’t know how to enjoy it. Deanna enjoys it.

Taking the words of Judy Dench to heart, I signed myself up for the Eugene half marathon on my birthday weekend and bought some cold weather running clothes. I figured at the very least I love wearing those compression leggings, but I think I’ve taken the plunge even further.

#10 Fundraising

10 January 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Deanna and I are super excited to announce the start of one of the big adventures we’re undertaking… we’re looking to fund the refugee of a rescue through Liberty in North Korea.

I interned with LiNK over three years ago, just shortly after Deanna and I begun dating. Although I’m pretty sure most of my friends have heard from me at some point what they’re up to, if you haven’t, you’ve got to check out their website at libertyinnorthkorea.org to see how supporting refugees can help further empower the people of North Korea to change their country from within.

It takes about $3000 to rescue a refugee. I’ve had the opportunity to meet more than a few from North Korea, and their stories are the most amazing. They’re the best reminders on how to celebrate life. I’ll be setting up and sharing a fundraising page for this quest soon.

#11 The Steven Scott Foster Podcast

11 January 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Had a blast spending a good chunk of the day talking to Steven and recording a new episode for his podcast.

We talked everything from my last visit to South Africa to narratives for the new year to big shifts in our mindsets concerning our careers.

Steven’s interview skills are tops, and just keep getting better. His is a podcast I really enjoy new episodes from.

#12 Packing Night

12 January 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I suck at getting to sleep before an exciting happening, last night was no exception. No big. Thirty-something hours on the plane will help get me caught up.

Last night was an adrenaline rush, as it finally sunk in deeper that in a matter of hours, I’d be back where I was three years ago, surrounded by pink and brown graffitied walls.

I really can’t wait. I wonder which of the kids that remember me will be the first one I see. I’m even actually excited to deal with the long flight… Though the chance to sleep may be a factor there.

#13 Party in the Sky

13 January 2016 // Los Angeles, California

Leg two of the really long journey to Joburg… LAX to London Heathrow. Not exactly my favorite airports but let’s make it a good time.

I’m really glad it worked out for us to do this trip via Virgin Airlines… That is a fave, especially for back-to-back really long flights.

So looking forward to seeing some familiar (but now more grown up) faces when our last plane finally touches down. That still feels a ways away right now, so for the moment I’m looking forward to catching up on the movies of 2015 via in-flight entertainment.

UPDATE 2 HRS LATER:

Actually still a party at LAX. The plane had a malfunctioning part and they needed it to be brought in from the other side of LA by somebody on motorbike. That sounds more like a Ryan Gosling movie plot to me, so we opted to hop on the next plane over.

#14 Heathrow Layover

14 January 2016 // London, England

Back to back flights in double digit hours, but I guess if that’s what it takes to get us to South Africa, so be it.

Not to mention, we got eight hours of London-time in-between. If the Heathrow Airport wasn’t so far away from where our London friends live, and if British airport security wasn’t so strict, it would’ve been really neat to pay some a visit.

But, alas, we settled for this meat pie and pint of ale combo.

#15 Arrived

15 January 2016 // Johannesburg, South Africa

Man, it is so good to be here- and I’m not just saying that because our arrival puts an end to a two hour drive, two hour flight, three hour layover, nine hour flight, seven hour layover, and ten hour flight.

Seriously, if anyone would like to reassemble Pangea so all these places could be closer together, be my guest.

In the meantime, trying to take it all in through a sleep deprived state. The old faces. The new faces. Having Deanna see it all for the first time.

It’s been a very hard-to-believe-it’s-real day.

#16 The Courtyard of 5Cees

16 January 2016 // Johannesburg, South Africa

Oh man, everything comes rushing back in the middle of this courtyard. Some things changed a great deal… Other things seem like they never will.

Today’s excitement was provided by Lloyd the dog. Some of these kids were more nervous around Lloyd than they were around lions.

Our first day was a mostly open one… A slow Saturday that allowed us to spend a lot of playtime with the kids. The perfect way to slide back into things.

#17 Johannesburg Love

17 January 2016 // Johannesburg, South Africa

This city has such a different personality from my own. Large, gritty, competitive, and opportunity driven. Honestly on paper it wouldn’t seem like a good fit.

This trip though, I’ve found myself simply thinking… Man, I love it here. Over and over again.

I’m thankful that this city is where my people are. And that this will be my home base whenever I’m on the African continent. Hope my next visit isn’t too far away!

#18 Lindokhule

18 January 2016 // Johannesburg, South Africa

Lindo and I bonded well when I was here last… Probably because he and I were very similar in high school. Spending more effort trying to get out of work than doing the work.

When I arrived here, I was bummed to find out he had aged out and moved away just a month prior. So close! I was looking forward to being reunited.

Then, yesterday, he happens to drop by. Much like the Lindo of old times, but also three years older like the rest of us. He definitely had his share of crazy stories over the past few years, which I got to learn about over the course of tea for four hours. Missed this guy a ton, but glad our paths crossed.

#19 Deanna in Jozi

19 January 2016 // Johannesburg, South Africa

It’s been making me really happy all week to see Deanna hanging out around the center, helping with homework, and playing with the kids. Three years ago it was a place she knew by my emailed stories… Now she has stories of her own.

Honestly, I think that when a place or experience in your life shapes you so much, you’ve gotta let the people you share your life with see it. Even if it isn’t the same thing to them that it was to you, it will help that much more with understanding each other.

In the meantime, I get to enjoy sights like this for a little while longer. It’s been a good time.

#20 Art Therapy in Africa

20 January 2016 // Johannesburg, South Africa

Just a public service announcement, Deanna is really, really good at her job.

Today we did a lot of art therapy exercises with the kids. Through the process, we got to hear more than a few of their stories.

“When my brother died,” one of them explained a drawing, “me, my sister, and grandma were really sad. Then I wrote a poem. I still felt sad, but my sister and grandma were happier after reading it.”

#21 Zoo Lake

21 January 2016 // Johannesburg, South Africa

A huge happy birthday to our local friend Bongi! Ever since she introduced me to Arts On Main on my first visit three years ago, she’s always been my informant on what’s fun in Joburg.

This visit has been no exception. She’s been a great source of help to Deanna and I.

I had a blast celebrating tonight in Braam. And I have the fatty bruise on my wrist from a collapsing table to robe it. I never thought I’d say this, but I now know what it’s like to be the whitest guy in the club.

#22 Deanna Heads Back

22 January 2016 // Johannesburg, South Africa

Took Deanna to the airport tonight. Unfortunately her work schedule doesn’t allow her to stay as long as I get to, but I’m so glad she got to be a part of my second visit to South Africa and see some of the kids I’ve kept telling her about.

A few things this trip has really helped me appreciate;

1- Deanna’s willingness to come along for the experience. I know getting to visit Africa was a lifelong dream of hers, and I’m glad I got to see it happen.

2 – Uber. It makes life easier in the states, but in South Africa? It’s given me an easy and affordable way to get around I could only dream about on my first visit. Plus I’ve had the most fun conversations with my Jozi drivers.

3- Getting around way more easily. My first trip was much more confined. This time, I feel like I have way more access to the city. It’s more than just the Uber thing too. I feel more directionally oriented. I know the culture much better. I feel at ease in a place where living isn’t usually easy.

#23 The Center’s Alley

23 January 2016 // Johannesburg, South Africa

It was a quieter Saturday at the center… the first one of the year, meaning the kids are still figuring out how Saturdays are going to work with the newly imposed study time and everything.

It was also my first Saturday with Deanna on her way back to the United States meaning that this stay will bear a lot of resemblance now to my previous visit, where we did the long distance thing for almost three months, only being able to email.

It wasn’t easy, that’s for sure. But it actually did wonders for our communication. Being back here, especially knowing that I was able to bring her back this time as my wife, feels like a celebration.

#24 Ivin

24 January 2015 // Johannesburg, South Africa

Actually I was originally named Basil. Or perhaps it was Basel. Anyways, when I was registered for school there was a spelling error and they called me Baryl. I thought it sounded like a girls name so I changed it to Ivin.

Ivin the security guard is quickly becoming one of my most favorite people in South Africa. He kind of reminds me of my stepdad, and he’s been making me lots of curry.

While at the center, I like to imagine who the staff members and characters would be if it were Hogwarts. Ivin is definitely Hagrid.

#25 Meet Max

25 January 2015 // Johannesburg, South Africa

Lemme introduce you to Max. One of the guys I’ve really had the pleasure of getting to know on this trip.

This guy works hard and sends so much of what he earns to his family. He’s also brilliant. He’s given me more insight into inter-tribal dynamics than anyone else. He’s also a great role model for the guys at the center, which can’t be over valued.

I’d bring him back to the U.S. if I could. He’s kept me informed and enlightened with many great chats about race, politics, theology, and food.

#26 Classic Sifundo

26 January 2015 // Johannesburg, South Africa

The funny thing about being back at the center after three years is that if something has drastically changed, it’ll amaze me. Also, if it hasn’t changed at all, it’ll amaze me too.

When I was here last I taught Sifundo how to use my camera, and while we were playing around out front I had a moment of taking it all in and being fully there.

Then a couple days ago, I was hanging out with Sifundo atop the teenage dormitory and just like old times the camera came out and we started taking pictures in the sun.

#27 Alexandra Township

27 January 2015 // Johannesburg, South Africa

The goal isn’t wealth or poverty but contentment.

—Ross Lester

Went with some of the group to a nearby church on Sunday and actually really connected with what was spoken. Trying to learn to see things through the lenses of generosity and contentment and learning how to make the most of both seasons: thin and plenty, and the in between.

South Africa gives such a unique vantage point into the economic disparity that exists in many spots around the world. I’m staying in Hillbrow which is the most densely populated mile in Africa. At night I can stare out towards Sandton, a bright light in the distance that represents the wealthiest mile in Africa. I spent most of my day in the township of Alexandria… These informal settlements are a whole different world.

This trip is teaching me so much about the complexities that come from such a disparity. Having a lot makes you susceptible to greed and having little makes you susceptible to desperation. Contentment is a good remedy on both ends.

#28 The Kiddos

28 January 2015 // Johannesburg, South Africa

There’s a reason why I’ll always be wondering how soon I can make my next visit to South Africa. There’s a reason why even when I’m back home South Africa stays really close to my heart.

It’s not the gorgeous mix of coastline and mountains and hiking trails, although that’s there. It’s not the rich history that overlaps with my lifetime, though that’s wonderful too. Then there’s the cuisine… the seafood and the mix of adapted Dutch and British recipes alongside indigenous food habits. But that’s not the main reason either.

Nah. It’s all about the people. Whether they’re older and helping to run the care center or they’re some of the youngest ones I’ve had the chance to play with, I’ll have to keep planning to come back. And hopefully they won’t be too much bigger by then.

#29 Enter the Kingdom

29 January 2015 // Oshoek, Swaziland

How’s this for an exciting night… I got to waltz in to the Kingdom of Swaziland.

I hopped on a bus in the afternoon, with only the roughest idea of how to get where I was supposed to go after crossing the border. Thankfully, we met one of the kindest souls on our bus ride who offered to let us stay at her place in Mbabane so we could find our way in the daylight.

We arrived after dark into one of the more peculiar countries the world has to offer. I could only make out the subtle outlines of mountains in the dark, but I could already tell, this was going to be a gorgeous place when I could see it.

#30 Swazi Hike

30 January 2015 // Piggs Peak, Swaziland

This was my weekend.

Being led out on a hike by a bunch of Swazi boys in the middle of some mountain that I’m not sure even has a name. Stopping at each of the fruit trees to pick and taste their unfamiliar produce. Sitting on rocks and staring into valleys for hours on end.

Good weekend, man.

#31 The Kingdom of Swaziland

31 January 2016 // Piggs Peak, Swaziland

Made it! An unpredictable journey over from Joburg and taking chances on unnamed dirt roads led to this rewarding view.

Swaziland is one of the last remaining true kingdoms in the modern day and I can understand why… I feel like the number one activity to do here is to stand on a tall rock, stretch out your arm and shout the word “behold!” That and hiking.

This country had me impressed from the get-go with its mountains. If this is how green it looks in a severe drought, I can only imagine it’s normal state. Cheers to country number thirty-nine.

#32 Soccer Side

01 February 2016 // Johannesburg, South Africa

Working on soaking up all the time I have remaining in South Africa, especially once all the kids get back from their schools.

I love just wandering around the center’s premises in the day, talking to whichever kids happen to be around. Or the staff members, too. They’re fun to talk to.

I know I’ll miss it. I know I’ll long to be back. For now, though, there’s a lot to take in.

#33 Nando’s Team Meeting

02 February 2016 // Johannesburg, South Africa

Had a blast last night going out to dinner with my small team. Yay for Nando’s.

Hard to believe that I’ve reached my last full day in the city. I don’t fly out till late, so at least there’s still half of tomorrow, but wow, it’s never easy to leave this place.

It’ll be a bummer to leave Jozi. I’m extremely excited to be back with Deanna, but I’ll be missing everyone here too. At least this trip has assured me of one thing- my connection to Joburg, it doesn’t end here.

#34 Always a Tough Goodbye

03 February 2016 // Johannesburg, South Africa

The boys wanted me to show off muscle… Instead I went with farmer’s tan.

This place will always be one of the hardest places to leave.

Already missing the boys and girls and staff. It was so tough having to answer “I don’t know” to everyone who asked when I’m coming. “But I’ll be thinking hard about it.” Every day that goes by is another day closer.

#35 Air-a-thon

03 February 2016 // Amsterdam, Netherlands

My flight from Joburg was cancelled. The good news was that they could get me a new route to Portland arriving Friday night. The bad news? It’s a four legged journey that gets me there at midnight while I fly to Salt Lake the next day at 6 am.

Despite that here’s some good stuff making this whole ordeal much more bearable.

Perdidos El Norte – fun movie I found on my plane about Spanish immigrants in Germany. Surprisingly sweet story. I always try and use those airplane movies to try and find at least one good foreign film.

The Amsterdam airport – This is probably my favorite airport abroad, and my second favorite right next to PDX for totally different reasons.

Fun company along the way – I’ve befriended a Polish traveler trying to make her way back to London via my same route, and a very friendly cleaning lady from Suriname. One of the fun parts of airports

#36 Days on Planes

04 February 2016 // Portland, Oregon

Alright, here’s a synopsis of my past IDK how many hours.

Johannesburg to Amsterdam — originally meant to be London but that flight got cancelled.

Amsterdam to London — You’d think this would be unnecessary since there’s so many ways to get to the U.S. from Amsterdam but whatever. I got Dutch frites for lunch.

London to New York — In NY, I only had exactly one hour to clear customs, recheck my bag, print a new boarding pass, switch terminals, go through security again and then find my gate.

New York to Portland — Just kidding, this flight got delayed two hours.

And now… I’ll be spending my night in the Portland airport. Gotta get up at 4am. I arrive at 130, so I might as well. Because when I wake up

Portland to Salt Lake — and back the next day.

#37 Eliza’s Wedding

05 February 2016 // Salt Lake City, Utah

Official- Eliza and Geoff are now married.

Not gonna lie, this was one of the most tiring weekends ever, but I am so glad we found enough gas in the tank to see these two tie the knot.

Had a really fun time at the wedding and hanging out in Salt Lake. Congrats, Geoff and Eliza!

#38 A Day in Salt Lake

07 February 2016 // Salt Lake City, Utah

With one more full day before I could really get home, Deanna and I found ourselves with hours to spend wandering and exploring Salt Lake City.

Unfortunately this happened to be a Sunday, so most of the city had shut down, but we were able to find a handful of fun spots to have a look around.

The whole day was on the chilly side, but visually gorgeous. Snow and sun are such a great combination when you can get the two to coexist.

#39 A Day at Home

08 February 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

So after all of the movement and traveling over the past week, it was really nice to stay in all day.

I don’t think I’ve enjoyed being at home and doing nothing really of note this much in a long time.

Scarcity principle.

#40 Home in Eugene

09 February 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Spent another whole day at home, cleaning the floors, washing clothes, and trying to tidy up in general. The most simple day, and yet, it was so good.

Even though I don’t always enjoy living in Eugene, and though spending too much time at home can make me feel suffocated, I’m realizing how much of what’s important to me has transitioned into this little space, and the things that happen in this place are often my highest priority.

Although I make a lot of plans to go see other places, this is the one that keeps bringing me back.

#41 To and From Portland

10 February 2016 // Portland, Oregon

From spending hours on end on planes to hours behind the wheel… it’s a new mode of transport for a new week. This isn’t much of a road trip, though, I’ve just been back and forth from Portland and Eugene for various reasons.

Lots of time on the road means I’m finally starting to get caught up on my backlog of podcasts that accumulated while in South Africa.

I think by the end of the month I’ll have spent more time in Portland than Eugene. On its own I don’t really mind that stat. I like Portland. Very much.

#42 Go Set a Watchman

11 February 2016 // Portland, Oregon

“Prejudice, a dirty word, and faith, a clean one, have something in common: they both begin where reason ends. That’s odd, isn’t it?”

–Harper Lee

Finished up Harper Lee’s follow up novel the other day, and I think I could appreciate it for what it is. To Kill a Mockingbird was a book about racism and conviction, the resolve to do what’s right in spite of crazy difficulty. Having that resolve and that firm of a sense for what’s right versus wrong is extremely crucial in figuring out one’s place in the world.

This book takes it to the next level, a more uncomfortable one. The dissonance of realizing a loved one has intolerable viewpoints. The tension between deep seated convictions and personal relationships. Racism is more of a vehicle through which the story unpacks one of its main arcs, growing up. I appreciated that. It was not as easily digestible as To Kill a Mockingbird, but quite true to life.

#43 Atop PDX

12 February 2016 // Portland, Oregon

Ah, alright. This has been a pretty tough week to be honest. I guess that’s why I try to make it a point to try and always find at least a few things I’m thankful for.

Here’s what it is this week.

Justin Bonello – Just when you think there are no more celebrity chefs to discover, you realize other countries have their own celebrity chefs. Definitely had to pick up at least one of his books while in South Africa.

Lardo – Last time I was in Portland, I got a look at their deli menu and it looked great. I unfortunately had no appetite. I went back this time, and apparently it was a totally different location. No sandwiches, just pasta. But like, really really good pasta.

Ratatouille – I’m late to this party, but I finally saw the movie yesterday and c’est bon!

#44 Physician’s Pavillion

13 February 2016 // Portland, Oregon

“I disagreed with most of what he said, but I loved the way he said it.”

—Ruth Bader Ginsburg on her friendship with Antonin Scalia

I would love to be a lot better at disagreeing with people, to be transparent about convictions that aren’t shared without threatening the relationship at all or sounding antagonistic or even trying to persuade the other person. It’s not a skill that comes easy for a lot of people.

I know it comes way more natural for me to just stay silent when I know I disagree with someone. Of course I would rather not be overly outspoken and it’s always important to choose battles wisely, but I’d wager that this is one area where I could grow in a lot.

#45 First Married Valentines

14 February 2016 // Portland, Oregon

We’re sick!

Obviously not how we would’ve chosen to spend our first Valentine’s Day since getting married, but the important thing is that we’re spending it together, regardless of the circumstances.

But this has been a good reminder that Love isn’t just about the mountaintop highs all the time, but ultimately about being present and together.

And we’ll go ahead and grab our fancy dinner eventually.

#46 Phonewreck

15 February 2016 // Portland, Oregon

I’ve owned iPhones since 2008… that’s nearly a decade, and in that time I’ve managed to avoid those cracked and busted screens I see time to time.

That ended today on my run. A stray planter managed to grab hold of my foot and I made a fantastic landing on my phone and hand, busting both in the process.

Well, bummer! I was hoping my phone would’ve lasted me until September or October when the next round of iPhones gets released. I don’t like feeling the need to always have the latest thing, so having a phone that lasted three years worth of phone releases would’ve been really sweet. I probably would have stuck it out, too, except this guy can’t even recharge anymore. There are worse things in life than needing a new phone, I suppose.

#47 OHSU Skybridge

16 February 2016 // Portland, Oregon

Went on a two mile run in the morning and a two mile meander in the afternoon.

This is the longest suspended pedestrian skybridge in North America at 200 meters.

More importantly, it’s the best place in North America to walk slowly, breathing heavily, and humming John Williams scored while pretending to be Darth Vader.

#48 Getting to Go

17 February 2016 // Portland, Oregon

Finally able to be back home now after one stay away from home after another. Maybe I just needed to be reminded of how good it can be to be at home.

Here’s a few things I’m appreciating as well—

OHSU– especially for their really pretty campus on a mountain that offers so many great views of Portland. Nobody wants to go to the hospital, but if you must, might as well have it be a pretty one.

Big Hero 6– Got to rematch this movie the other night and it held up really well. Just a reminder that I loved it start to finish.

Kitchen Stories– found a new favorite app for publishing my recipes.

#49 Book Club

18 February 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Deanna and I checked another item off our list. We started up a book club through our church. It’s our first time ever going book clubbin’. So, when we decided to revisit A Million Miles in a Thousand Years for our book club, I wondered a few things… how would the book hold up? What would I see differently about living a good story? What lessons would be reinforced? Most of all, would I still be able to say that I’m living a good story or was it just a passing idea?

Here’s my take on A Million Miles in a Thousand Years five years down the line.

It’s still a great book, and one of my all time favorites. It still does a really good and unique job at putting words to things we know deep down are important.

I still believe in the importance of living a good story and I think that whenever you see somebody who’s really doing it, it’s a really beautiful thing that reminds you what it’s all about.

The best storylines aren’t necessarily about the places you go or, but about what challenges you the most.

#50 Onion Quiche

19 February 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I got my wish for a simple night in, Deanna going for Julia Child covers, and the early 2000s streaming on Netflix. Ah 2000-2003, the golden era of Ben Stiller.

By the way, Deanna nailed it on this quiche. Taking things as simple as eggs, onions, and flour and whipping it up into this… That takes skill.

Things are starting to return to ordinary, and at the moment that is a welcome return. I’m sure our appetites for adventure won’t be dormant for very long, but for now I appreciate the reality that there’s nowhere I’d rather be at the moment than right at home.

#51 Greenhill Animal Shelter

20 February 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Took a trip to the animal shelter today to browse their selection of puppies.

They don’t respond to Sarah McLaughlin tunes the way they’d lead you to believe.

I had a good moment with Sawyer the Siberian, though.

#52 Congrats Jesse & Raquel

21 February 2016 // Portland, Oregon

So, Sunday night was pretty fun.

A huge congrats to Jesse and Raquel for getting engaged over the weekend.

Super excited for the two of you and glad I was able to make it to celebrate with y’all.

#53 Warm Up Run

22 February 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Getting back into the swing of things, which includes race training. Got a good amount of sun this morning so I tried to redeem oversleeping by getting in a good run.

According to MapMyRun, it was a REALLY good run. 4 miles at a 9:09 minute pace. I’m skeptical, but nothing like running with this app in an area with no phone reception to boost your confidence.

Also, today is the day my nephew turns six. Hope you like Settlers of Catan Junior, Simoncello!

#54 Bran Nue Dae

23 February 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Chasing off the back end of February with a taste of summer in the winter.

Sausage meatballs in a yogurt sauce plus garlic knots for dinner and a movie I’ve looked for for six years after I thought that it looked kinda fun.

If you’re into brightly colored musicals featuring Aboriginal Australians in the late sixties, it was fun. A whole lot of fun.

#55 Home Roast

24 February 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Decided to dabble in a world where I would be a total newcomer… the world of at-home coffee roasting. I have a few friends who swear by various methods and refuse to go back to buying roasted beans. If that’s the case, I figured it was worth trying at least once.

I was told that a stove-top popcorn maker would work adequately. I didn’t have much luck finding one, though. I did find an air pressure popcorn maker, though, so I split the difference, roasting half of my green beans in the popcorn maker, and the other half in a cast iron skillet… yes this does work, but your fire alarm will freak the freak out.

We roasted up some beans from a Costa Rican estate. I’m currently drinking some coffee that resulted from the experiment, meaning that it was a success and that I plan on doing it again sometime in the near future… whenever a new roast is needed.

#56 The Vintage

25 February 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Yesterday was a good one. A solid 4.5 mile run and then the evening introduced me to one of Eugene’s more underspoken places to eat.

On the outside, it’s easily mistakable as some guy’s house. Even on the inside it kind of just looks like a house.

I was highly recommended getting a burger although the shoestring fries outshined their partner. Best thing though are their infused liquors- a peach infused bourbon made for a good base to a ginger fizz.

#57 At Home Espresso

26 February 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

After getting a little off-schedule due to travel and the ups and downs of life, I’m now starting to get back on track with my 52 items-to-master cooking challenge.

This newest attempt wasn’t so much a recipe as it was a hands-on lesson on how to use a fancy but complicated wedding present we received, a Delonghi at home espresso maker. Plus I got to try this thing out using home roasted coffee beans, so that’s a double treat!

I don’t think you could even call it a recipe really, but I posted a post on my blog with all the steps and fun facts about espresso. Did you know that my Grandma is a few decades older than the entire idea of espresso? You do now.

When I first gave this a shot, I read a guide from Blue Bottle Coffee that began with this analogy:

“To us, skimping on an espresso machine and expecting delicious shots is similar to skydiving with a threadbare parachute – you can certainly risk it, but we can’t guarantee exquisite (or even safe) results.”

Obviously, those guys take this a lot more seriously than I do. Comically, they immediately followed it up with this statement:

Espresso is a finicky beast and deserves the proper equipment. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t nail a perfect shot right off the bat; it takes time and practice to dial in well.

“Well, the “if at first you don’t succeed” attitude wouldn’t apply so well to skydiving, but whatever. I agree with that approach a little bit more readily. Generally, the more times you do something, the more natural it gets. Although I was pretty happy about how my results turned out this time, I look forward to trying this out more often experimenting with other fun espresso drinks.”

#58 Puppy Nesting

27 February 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Deanna and I spent our weekend nesting and getting our house ready for the dog we’d like to adopt very, very soon.

Also, I learned what Bret Michaels has been up to since Rock of Love. Glad that he’s been keeping himself busy.

In the meantime, we’ve been debating names and want your input. We won’t necessarily go with the majority vote, but perhaps some of you will give us good feedback. If the shelter dog we’ve been eyeballing doesn’t get reclaimed by the end of the week, one of these names will go to a golden colored medium sized lab mix.

No offense to all the owners of Spots and Codys and Milos out there, but I’m not one for overused dog names. Here’s a chance to inject a family member’s title with some personal meaning in a way that you can’t quite get away with when its for a kid.

Here we go, our name finalists are:

Beignet – to celebrate our New Orleans honeymoon and the wonderful Café du Monde

Timber – In honor of the MLS champion Portland Timbers, #rctid baby, but also because #istandwithkesha y’know

Jozi – Because South Africa has my heart and Cape Town isn’t a very good doggy name.

#59 Son of Laughter

28 February 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

“He makes us promises about life. I do not know what he promises to the dead if he promises anything… He speaks to us sometimes in dreams that are like torches to light our way through the dark. He gives us daughters and sons so our seed may live after us and the promises he has made us may be kept to the world’s luck and blessing. Perhaps that is enough.”

–Frederick Buechner

I’ve always wanted to read something by Buechner, and Chris helped make that happen by letting me borrow Son of Laughter. It took me a while to open up this book, but once I did it was a smooth and fast read, but also one rich with story. It’s a reimagining of the Genesis story of the Hebrew patriarchs, mostly told through Jacob’s perspective. It’s one that demystifies and humanizes its storytellers far more than how they are usually depicted.

Good read! Now to spend the rest of my Sunday hanging out with Deanna and the other end of the storytelling spectrum by watching some of that Full House revamp.

#60 Workspace: The Beanery

29 February 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Here’s something worth celebrating… This week I finish up the results chapter of my thesis! It’s not a total finish line, I still need to enter in some pictures and format everything, but I just finished typing 90 something pages worth of stuff, so I’ll cheers to that.

But just a cheers with an espresso, because I haven’t shown any of this to my advisor as of yet so we can’t celebrate too much too soon.

I’ve been turning all of Eugene’s coffee shops into my workspaces lately. If the Beanery had somewhere you could park for more than two hours it would be much higher on my list. I love the look and light on the inside of this converted train station.

#61 Black Bread

01 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

More catching up on my cooking project! This was indeed a good week for catching up, as the rye bread was second among a few items I had the time to prepare. Rye bread, especially this recipe ends up being way heavier and richer-tasting in comparison to something like the baguette I made for week one. It’s still fairly dreary and wintery out in the Pacific Northwest, so this made for a perfect dinner companion.

This attempt didn’t quite turn out like I hoped. It was an ambitious bread, but I underestimated a flour ration, which led to this bread not rising quite like I would’ve liked. I thought it kind of looked like a giant molasses cookie.

But, despite the visual flaw, it was still a very rich and hearty loaf, and I’m quite pleased with the taste that resulted. I guess that’s the more important part, huh? Among the many things that went into this dough were sea salt, cocoa powder, home roasted espresso grounds, caraway seeds, and molasses.

#62 Long Trail Runs

02 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Today was the day I was supposed to tie the longest distance I’ve ever ran– five miles. And I did it… sort of. The trail by the Bonneville power lines I found unexpectedly led me up a mountain during mile two, which I thought would level out, but it never really did. Getting back down went even slower, since there were a number of tree fells in my way. The plan was to run without stopping, but that was hard to do when I needed to climb trees at some points. Mile two took over seventeen minutes and tired me out for the rest of the run more than I would’ve hoped, but I did make it to five at the end.

Thankfully, I’ve discovered a lot of new podcasts lately to go through while running.

NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour – This is the podcast that’s led to me developing an interest some of my favorite pop culture interests in the past few months. After all, they’ve had wonderful things to say about Jane the Virgin and the Hamilton Musical.

The Splendid Table – Along with Gastropod, this has become my new favorite food related podcast. They do a little Q&A and some interviews with a few of my favorite chefs and food writers, recently including Yotam Ottolenghi and J. Lopez Kenji-Alt.

Sounds Good with Branden Harvey – This is a new one. Apparently Branden is a social media star, but he’s also really good at finding pretty interesting people to interview.

#63 Three Whiskey Recipes

03 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Hope you’ve had a pleasant weekend… relaxing or otherwise.

The year-long cooking project I’ve been taking on also calls for learning a little mixology, and that’s a good skill to have. My first mixed-drink challenge was to come up with three using whiskey, a tricky cocktail base to use since you don’t want to overpower the subtleties found in good whiskey.

I highly recommend the cocktail episode of Good Eats… that was what I used as my base of information with this project, and I followed the directions to a tee to make a mint julep. Alton Brown puts together the coolest little tutorial using music chords and triads as an analogy to the anatomy of a cocktail.

I also made a South African inspired beverage and a whiskey sour on recent evenings. The julep remains my personal favorite, though.

#64 Workspace: Cozmic

04 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Cozmic… an eccentric little hangout in Downtown Eugene that brands itself at 50/50 coffee shop and pizza joint.

It’s also a pretty happenin’ music venue. Sir Mix-a-lot played here a few months ago, and I’ve seen a couple of solid live shows here.

This visit was a bit different, though. Work related. I finished the first draft of my thesis.

#65 Flat White

05 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Spent another couple of days doing work with the espresso maker… Decided I wanted to try out some of my usual orders when I go to a coffee shop.

Flat whites are Australian in origin but I first discovered the flat white when I was in South Africa the first time around, as it’s a favorite drink in the country’s burgeoning coffee culture, especially around Cape Town. It seemed like one of the most frequently ordered beverages. They’ve gotten way more popular in the US in the past couple years thanks to Starbucks.

What’s the big deal with the milk foam and does this stuff really matter? In the grand scheme of life, it doesn’t, but if you want to have coffee snob discussions, sure! The idea that steaming milk to a lower temperature compared to lattes or cappuccinos retains more fats and proteins that give milk a slightly sweet flavor. This sweetness is intended to blend well with the flavor of the cappuccino.

#66 Ducks vs. Gauchos

06 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Had a blast yesterday pulling for my alma mater in Oregon territory… and going to our first ballgame of the year, hopefully the first of many.

I’ve been wanting to see my undergrad and graduate schools go head to head. Unfortunately one doesn’t have a football team and the other doesn’t have a futbol team… And their basketball teams always seem to go at it on Christmas Eve.

My school lost, but at least they lost to my second school. Olé!

#67 A Salem Day

07 March 2016 // Salem, Oregon

Despite passing by it all the time I never really spend a whole lot of time in Salem. Granted, there isn’t much there, but it’s still the state Capitol, and it’s weird I haven’t visited considering I’ve been to at least half of the state capitol buildings without trying.

Well, like it or not, I ended up having to spend some of yesterday in Salem to do traffic school for a speeding ticket from September.

Central Salem was quaint and the park by the Capitol was pretty. And I got some good writing done while I was there but that is about all I have to report.

This is a big week in the Lazaro house and hopefully I have good news to report at the end of it regarding puppy adoption. In the meantime it’s hard to contain excitement.

#68 Avocado Toast with Poached Eggs

08 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Avocado toast was recently named the Most Annoying Food on Instagram. I had no idea such a distinction existed, but I guess avocado toast takes home the trophy. So you’re welcome for this post.

Made some on my black bread recipe on toast form… turned out to be one of my favorite dinners from this week. Few foods scream “California!” quite like something cheesy or avoacado-ey, something that’s both tasty with somewhat redemptive nutritional value. Also, I’m currently training for a half-marathon, so this is a marginally decent way to up my caloric intake in a mostly healthy way.

Help yourself to my blog for the recipe! The year-long cooking project continues, and I’m catching up… only four weeks behind pace.

#69 Run River North

09 March 2016 // Portland, Oregon

Oh man… Thanks to @runrivernorth last night for putting on one of the best shows I’ve seen in ages. Despite all the random one-degree-separations I have from the band, somehow seeing them perform live has eluded me until now. I love their music and it translates really well to the stage.

Yesterday was a good day for so many reasons.

Run River North — again, an amazing show! Getting to watch from over the drummer’s shoulders made it even better.

The doggy — we won the stakeout. I’m picking her up today.

Poaching eggs — I treated myself to homemade open face sandwiches for lunch… I’m getting better at this tricky skill.

#70 Puppy Adoption Day

10 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

It’s a wrap! After a week and a half of waiting, and a rainy night of camping out in front of the animal shelter, she is ours.

Also, we’re very progressive parents so she’s already signed up for school tomorrow.

We’re gonna try out all the names we brainstormed and see how responsive she is… So far she seems to realize Beignet means something. The shelter had been calling her Zucchini. That’s a little too healthy for us though.

#71 Beignet

11 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

The newest addition to our household.

This girl is a crazy one! 60 pounds of puppy energy… And she’s a strong one too.

She’s really sweet, but she’s got a lot to learn… Like not being afraid of stairs when those are the only way in and out of the apartment.

#72 Beignet’s First Playdate

12 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

We’re helping our girl learn how to be more social and less sociopathic.

This weekend we took her out on her first play date, and it went really, really well.

Beignet finally met her match in terms of energy level in our friend Alyssa’s six month old husky pup, Koda.

#73 Beignet Loves Visits

13 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Real life is more complicated than a slogan on a bumper sticker

–Zootopia

I just got to see Zootopia so much and I loved it so much I need to say something. What a great movie, that somehow managed to present some really heavy and complicated issues in a lighthearted and kid friendly way. Life is more complicated than a bumper sticker… but that doesn’t mean that big and complex ideas can’t be explained accessibly. Or with animals.

Speaking of which, Beignet loves it when Uncle Jesse and Aunt Raquel come to visit… and so do we. Although, we don’t call them that, only she does. Cause that would be weird.

#74 Biscuits and Pomegranate Jam

14 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

A little while ago, Deanna was inspired by the Great British Baking Show to try and make some biscuits. Apparently those biscuits didn’t turn out the way she intended. She was hoping for the American, big, fluffy biscuits-n-gravy sort of biscuits. Instead they came out more cookie like, but with a savory taste. Even if they weren’t what she intended, I thought they were a big success. Because the cookies were so plain, they paired up nicely with a jar of marmalade. I asked her for the recipe which she did not store in her memory.

I was inspired to make shortbread cookies because they’re great. Especially the Scottish style bars, with a bit of espresso ground. It pairs super well with a cup of coffee or cappuccino. If you buy them at a grocery store they can be a bit pricey which is odd, because they didn’t strike me as that tough to make. If you know how to do a pie crust, you’re a sugar ratio away from being there. So I decided to try and go for shortbread, and inspired by that marmalade pairing, make a pomegranate syrup.

So I had a good amount of fresh ricotta cheese left over after the avocado toast. Ricotta cheese notoriously doesn’t last long, so I tried to find as many ways as I could of using it up, and this was a really good one. A little smear of ricotta on top of one of these biscuits was perfect. Then a splash of syrup.

#75 Bracket Set

15 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

It’s taken me almost 26 years but I’ve finally given in to the Madness of March for the first time ever. I guess that’s a pretty short wait relative to CSU Bakersfield, but for both of us, the drought is over.

Deanna’s job is doing an office pool, so she handed me her bracket and I took the liberty to include a Steel Bridge Porter.

Who’ve ya got? I have Kansas topping Michigan State in the championship with Oklahoma and Kentucky rounding out the Final Four. I felt like a big homer picking Oregon to get all the way to the Sweet 16, but they have like, seven guys who could start and I legit think they have the best shot out of the Pac12.

Go Ducks.

#76 Authentic Happiness

16 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

“The best we can do as individuals is to choose to be a small part of furthering this progress. This is the door through which meaning that transcends us can enter our lives. A meaningful life is one that joins with something larger than we are– and the larger something is, the more meaning our lives have.”

— Martin E.P. Seligman

This was a very different book than my usual sort of read. Actually, it’s primarily a psychology oriented read and it was one from Deanna’s bookshelf. But while she was reading it I thought some of the chapters about optimism seemed pretty interesting so I gave it a shot.

The last chapter had some really interesting ideas about the whole faith and science implications. Although Seligman’s been a lifelong secularist, he noted how studying positive psychology led him towards a concept of God that exists at the end of all things. It doesn’t exactly overlap with how I see things, but I always love it when people’s passions and expertise ultimately take them to a place of wonder and being blown away by everything.

#77 Pre’s Rock

17 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Today’s run started off at the site of the auto accident that claimed track and field legend Steve Prefontaine’s life at an early age some 40 years ago.

Seemed like a fitting day to start my run today. Six miles. That’s the most I’ve ever ran and from now until May I get to keep saying that sentence once a week. I’m still not sure if I can say that I enjoy running but I am pleasantly amazed each time at the distance I ran. I’m surprised I still feel pretty good after six when I used to loathe running two. Craziest is feeling like I could do another when I’m done. If enjoying running means being pleasantly surprised at what you can actually do, then I guess I’m enjoying it.

I’ve been learning so much about being challenged lately. I’m glad I have something as literal and tactile as a half marathon to harvest lessons from.

#78 Ducks Madness

18 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Well, thanks to Michigan State, I have very limited interest in cheering for games for the sake of my bracket.

Just in time for the Oregon game… so I can be a homer all the way.

Go Ducks!

#79 Puppy Egg Hunt

19 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Easter is on its way! We took our girl out to Greenhill Humane Society for a bit of a puppy adventure… an Easter egg hunt for dogs.

She had a good time, eventually discovering that the eggs were worth finding because there are actually treats inside. She made friends with a massive Great Dane and it was fun for mommy and daddy too.

Love that we’re getting some sporadic sunlight. It made it so much easier to give her a bath… necessary after she took her own plunge into a mud pool.

#80 Dye-ing Over Here

20 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

“Maybe happiness is this
Not feeling like you
Should be somewhere else
Doing something else
Being something else”

— Unknown origin, but I found it here on Instagram

Either way, I love this quote.

It feels almost like an incongruous day to share it though, because honestly, today did feel like one where I wanted to be elsewhere. Along with all the perks of living in Eugene, it can also be isolating, being kinda far from so many of my favorite people. Today I thought about the time we’ve been living here and the nine months I have until the end of grad school and it feels pretty long.

At the same time, I also felt pretty thankful for a lot in my life, including the time we have left for so many of the things we love about living in Western Oregon. Today we hung out with the dog and dyed Easter eggs.

Today and this whole year have been so full of both rain and sun, heaviness and light, highs and lows. One day it’ll be a good story to tell. In the meantime, we get to see where this is all going to go.

#81 Falling Sky Friends

21 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

My weeknight out crew… Deanna, Zhen, and a baby. All to celebrate another year in Oregon for Zhen.

I love Falling Sky for many reasons, particularly pastrami. Also their beer selection. Dr. Optic’s Standard Bitter is my pick for the month.

Even though I’ve been off for a couple months thanks to my leave of absence, it is technically my spring break. Cheers.

#82 Rexius Trail

22 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

As of this week, I’m up to seven miles! Miles three and four were the hardest but after that it sort of felt like cruise control. Five more weeks to the half.

Some other good things from this week:

Radiolab — the episode they aired yesterday, technically a replay of a 2013 recording might have been the first thing I could label as a tearjerker podcast.

The way home roasting coffee beans make your house smell — did a batch of medium to dark roast Brazilian beans last night and it was lovely.

Ducks basketball — looks like we’re in for a good match tonight.

#83 Puppy School

23 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Beignet really is a fast learner. She’s signed up for puppy school which has been really fun to do with her.

She’s totally the stereotypical learner that’s too smart to stay focused all the time. When there’s no structured activity she tries to go over and mess with the other dogs, starts making some noise, or getting really restless.

The minute they switch activities to something with more structure, she gets it instantly and nails it. The smartest one in the class. If anything, the activities are too easy for her.

That’s our girl.

#84 Steak & Latkes

24 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I love that Deanna and I both love to cook. The kitchen is an egalitarian space. We share it and experiment and try and teach ourselves new tricks and recipes.

It’s a win-win situation for both of us. We get to play around and surprise each other with some really amazing meals sometimes that we’ve made for the first time ever.

That’s what happened this week with Deanna’s steak and latkes. The steak was phenomenal, and she nailed the art of medium-rare cooking. I can still taste it and feel that texture on my tongue. And the latkes were crisp and lovely and everything they should have been.

#85 Mirror Pond

25 March 2016 // Bend, Oregon

Mirror Pond Pale Ale is named after this little body of water… Or is the water named after the ale? I can’t seem to figure out why else they would name this thing mirror. Perhaps it was discovered by an explorer named Mirror, or inhabited by the Mirror Tribe. It was probably the beer, though. Nothing else makes sense.

This little city is amazing. So much good stuff for such a small size. And it’s not all that far away from us too.

Wholly enjoyed my first night in Bend and looking forward to some more excitement and adventuring today. Coffee and hikes and Beignet, hurrah.

#86 Smith Rock

26 March 2016 // Smith Rock, Oregon

People need to be validated. Like, desperately. Behind every interaction between one person and another, there are a billion unspoken questions like “Do you really see me? Does this moment matter? Do I matter to you?” Behind a lot of stories told, simple exchanges, or small talk, there’s this dynamic going on.

A lot of times the answer is no. Humans are social beings, meaning this desire is strong, but we’re so well adapted to social skills that we can put these interactions on autopilot, meaning we’re not really seeing people. We’re listening to their stories but thinking about our own experiences that are somewhat related. They’re making their point, but we’re already composing our counterargument in our head.

The desire to be validated fuels so much in the world right now. Who people are voting for is mostly determined by who makes them feel validated. The companies who sell the most product are the ones who can attach it to validation.

The good news about the ability to affirm another person’s humanity is that it’s an unlimited resource. We lose nothing by giving it away, and it’s something I really, really want to focus on these days. I speak for myself when I say it’s way too easy to go on autopilot. But the smallest time-out to break that habit can go a real long way.

#87 Tumalo Falls

27 March 2016 // Bend, Oregon

I couldn’t have asked for a better Easter Sunday this year. I’m so glad we decided to make this the weekend we took off for Central Oregon… We spent hours around all kinds of gorgeousness.

We did a sunrise breakfast, then church. After lunch at a brewery sand some time at a dog park, we decided to hunt down waterfalls.

Typically Tumalo Falls is a pretty easy spot to drive most of the way. Road closures, though, meant having to walk two miles each way with snow coming down, on and off with the sunlight.

We spent hours waking and chatting and Beignet found out that snow is pretty much the greatest thing ever. And after a good while of enjoying it, we were treated to a killer view.

#88 UO Restart

28 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I resumed taking and teaching classes at UO today, after being on leave since mid-December. Beignet isn’t too thrilled about her increase in home alone time, but in some ways it’s actually pretty nice to be back.

Three and a half months off is a freaking luxury. I don’t think they could’ve been better timed. Having the time off to go to Africa, work on my thesis, take care of Deanna when she got sick, and help Beignet adjust to the house really paid off.

Here’s hoping that this quarter is a balanced one. Graduation is coming and that’s something to look forward to. In the meantime, there’s a lot of perks to the grad school life to enjoy and keep busy with for the rest of the year.

#89 Oregon Campus

29 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Second day back after a long hiatus from grad school and things are already going full swing.

A big chunk of that is because there is so much administrative stuff and so many hoops to jump through after going on leave. Making sure I have insurance again, making sure all my registration issues are taken care of.

Thankfully the class I’m teaching this term looks like it’ll be a good one. International Political Economy, FTW.

#90 Oakway Ctr.

30 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Glad my dog has a facial expression to say “suckkkk itttt!” Also, glad it’s Friday.

I forgot to do a good things gratitude post earlier this week but it’s never really too late so here we go.

Bend – So glad this city and the surrounding area exists. Had such a good weekend there last weekend. I loved it. Deanna loved it. The dog loved it.

Tumalo Falls – likewise, this was not just a great sight to behold but we got snow on the hike for Beignet to freak out about.

Other People’s Food – This podcast series by The Sporkful has been great. It looks at the interplay between race and culture relations with gastronomy. It’s gotten me to think more deeply than ever about Sriracha’s popularity, the presentation factor of stews, and the evolution of Italian food in new ways.

#91 Pesto Sauce

31 March 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Lets see here, so it’s 2016, meaning it’s been nearly seven years since I studied abroad in Italy as a college student. That experience had such a profound impact on me in so many ways, but largely on my relationship with food.

I could walk to a market and get only the ingredients I needed for that day specifically. I could get some really fresh ingredients and it was the first time I tried to get more creative with the meals I made for myself. Plus I really learned how to appreciate simplicity and execution in certain dishes and I still do.

One of the most valuable experiences I had was being able to take a one-day cooking course. I remember being amazed and surprised at how relatively simple a homemade pasta was, and how much more rewarding it was to make. Also, its taste was far superior.

Fast forward to tonight when I had a terrific and tasty time tonight testing some of my new pasta making equipment.

Started by working on a homemade pesto sauce, which turned out to be pretty fun. I’m a huge fan of pretty much anything with pesto in it, so being able to make some was a treat.

#122 Eugene Half Marathon

01 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.

–Steve Prefontaine

Marathons have long been overused as a metaphor of how to respond to different challenges in life. That metaphor has given us played out cliches like “it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.” In my case, though, it was neither a sprint nor a marathon. It was a half-marathon.

After actually running, though, I totally get why people use those cliches. Running long distances and life have a lot of parallels. Like how port-a-potties are the worst and should be avoided and are usually not worth it.

#123 Recovery Day

02 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Spent most of today with my feet up, for obvious reasons.

Actually, my legs don’t feel all that sore from yesterday’s race, which is good. I do, however, feel like napping pretty much around the clock.

I’ll probably dedicate a good chunk of my birthday this week to treating myself to a nap.

#124 Good Evening Beignet

03 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

When you’re home alone with her, this dog is the sweetest. She usually just naps on the ground and wants to hang out near you.

Then, as soon as the second person comes home, her inner crazy comes out and she can’t help but try and jump and chew to her hearts desire.

Deanna’s been getting home later than me lately, so she doesn’t know what she’s missing.

#125 Gonna Run Again

04 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Here we go again.

I went on a two mile run today, which is extremely light compared to all the training I’ve done lately, but it was one of the harder runs I’ve gone on in a while. Mostly because this is my first time running since the half, and I just needed to get rid of that lactic acid somewhere.

But get this– I’m running. Still. Even though there’s no more half-marathon to train for. I figure I’m probably in better shape than I’ve been in for a long, long time. I might as well keep it. And I’m totally open to another race sometime. We’ll see when.

#126 Twentysix

05 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Hey you guys! Thank you.

Today has been really special- thank you so much for the messages and comments, the thoughtful texts and phone calls, and the contributions to my LiNK fundraising campaign. I really appreciate these things, so really, thanks.

I loved all the warm wishes today. I’m super thankful for the life I get to live and that you all are a part of it.

25 brought marriage, a puppy, and a half marathon into my life. So far, 26 has come with all you can eat sushi. I’d say we’re off to a good start.

#127 Dog Parks

06 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Based on my first 36 hours, I’d say 26 is the new 14 with the crazy amounts of sleep my body is demanding me to take. A 2 PM siesta ended up being one of my birthday highlights.

When we plan our activities months out, Deanna and I try to alternate between adventurous weekends and weekends of rest. In between last weekend’s half marathon and next weekend’s Mt. Hood expedition, this is a true weekend off.

So far we’ve spent a sunny afternoon at the dog park and I messed up a batch of macarons. Cheers to the laid back weekends.

#128 Macaróns

07 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Took on the ambitious weekend project of trying to make macarons. These guys were a challenge! I don’t know what I was thinking when I scheduled them so early on in the year for my cooking challenge. They’re more like a boss level.

The key ingredient in macarons is basically persistence. My first attempt yielded some cookies that were literally inedible. That was a bummer since I’d been looking for a chance to make them all week and some almond flour and well aged egg whites had to go to waste. But tonight I gave it a second shot.

Dulce de leche and chocolate macarons were produced and the dulce de leche ones were far superior. I was pretty pleased with the airy shell of a cookie that resulted.

Glad I didn’t give up after that initial failure. I now can understand why these often cost over a dollar for one tiny piece. They are labor intensive. But I put in that labor and have approximately $50 worth of macarons to feast on.

#129 Crime Thrillers

08 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

We have a TON of Black Butte Porter leftover after last weekend’s carload. Not that that’s a problem or anything. I really needed this weekend to be a restful one, and that’s exactly what I got. An evening of kicking back to Southeast Asian crime thrillers.

I’m not saying that in another life I would be a Metro Manila gang boss, or anything like that, but have you ever wondered how many random circumstances in yours or your family’s history would need to be changed in order for you to be living a totally different sort of existence? There’s the six-degrees-to-Kevin-Bacon game that reveals how close we are to knowing any given person. I wonder if there’s some sort of game to play that gives us any idea of how close we actually are to being totally different people.

When my family started to leave the Philippines in batches decades ago, the USA was the obvious destination. But if we were all born fifty years later, would that have sent me to Saudi Arabia or Dubai? What if that move never even happened? What if my mom decided to stay in Philadelphia instead of moving to California? What if she went back to Illinois?. I really like the life I have right now, though, so I’m fine with not knowing those answers. I’m content to have these crime thrillers to be the extent of my experience in Southeast Asian cartels.

#130 A Birthday Package

09 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I couldn’t check my mail over the weekend because our apartment office was closed, so I finally got to open my birthday package from my in-laws tonight. Loved it! Especially the socks Deanna’s mom knit me. I think Beignet was jealous.

If I could talk to myself a year ago, I’d let me know that there’s a lot to look forward to over the next 365 days. Don’t rush through them too fast. Most of them are good days. Being married is amazing, and even better than I expected.

Every year around my birthday, I write a blog post listing some of the biggest things I learned over the past year. I’ve done this for five years straight now, and I’ve loved keeping track of the biggest ideas that seem to follow me around for an extended moment in my life. Things like never taking normal for granted. Appreciating the passing of time. Asking yourself how you can help people. 25 has probably taught me more than any other age so far.

#131 Solo Movie Outing

10 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

One of the odd jobs I worked for a really short while was at a movie theatre. I loved the old retired guys who would come in for Tuesday morning matinees, treating themselves to a flick and no self consciousness.

I tried to celebrate getting older last week by doing the same thing, and treating myself to go see Civil War. Plus, I don’t have any superhero lovin’ friends in town to my knowledge, so it was either go alone or wait for the DVD and try to avoid spoilers for months.

I went in totally ready to be on Team Cap. I thought he was kind of a wild card in that movie though, so you are all welcome to join me over on Team T’Challa. Wakanda forever.

#132 Easy Evening

11 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Never take “normal” for granted. You never know when an accident or illness can land someone in the hospital, when you could lose a car or a house or an appendage, when you could suddenly suffer a financial crisis. Heck, sometimes it just takes a really stuffy nose to make you truly miss the times when your nose wasn’t stuffy that you took for granted.

I’m hoping to be a better connoisseur of normal. It clashes with my more adventurous sides, but I’ve learned that these simple, seemingly boring days are also brilliant samples of a life that merits some appreciation. In any given moment that can be overlooked, there are a billion things to not be taken for granted.

#133 Cilantro Pistachio Carrot Top Puree

12 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I came across the idea for a pistachio cilantro carrot top puree and had to try it out.

The flavors of these three things are quite distinct, and each is a quirky ingredient in its own right. Cilantro is the mystery herb, intolerable to a random group of people who lost a certain genetic lottery. Pistachios are also in their own little world as the nut that looks constantly underripe. Then there’s carrot top, which is an edible thing, but barely.

I ended up using the puree on a dish of roast carrots, potatoes, and ham steak and it added a lot of lightness to an otherwise heavy meal.

#134 Ben’s First Burgerville

13 May 2016 // Albany, Oregon

Good friends paying you a visit in Oregon and going on hikes and adventures makes for a good weekend.

Good friends don’t mind having to sit through a random presentation you have to give right after picking them up from the airport.

I like to thank my good friends by introducing them to Burgerville.

#135 Mt. Hood

14 May 2016 // Mt. Hood, Oregon

Something about mountains. I have bucket list level hopes to do one of the big ones someday, Kilimanjaro, Fuji, etc. Of course I don’t have the funds or physique for that just yet.

Since the half marathon wasn’t too long ago, I decided to not wait too long and try and climb Mt. Hood while still in decent shape. Plus May is supposed to be the best time.

Didn’t summit, but made it far enough to feel good given my lack of much mountaineering experience.

#136 Portland Timbers vs. New York FC

15 May 2016 // Portland, Oregon

We got to witness at least one goal on our side of things, which meant the ceremonial tree slicing. I also had a chance to see some of my favorite players in live action, namely the Argentine, Diego Valeri. And since food is a pretty big deal to me no matter where I end up going, it’s worth noting that the stadium fare included Tillamook grilled cheese sandwiches, buffalo wing wraps, and some Argentine empanadas (that were double the size of any you’d find in Argentina and about ten times the price.)

The fan bases may be smaller than many other sports, but they make up for it with extremely colorful fan cultures. Plus it’s a great way to get into the rest of the sport with many big names taking up more and more MLS stints.

It always feels good to be a part of a collective something, and a fan group is no exception.

Baseball, football, and basketball are all alive and well in the U.S., but for those of us who long to be a part of its golden era, it seems that it’s too late. The golden era of soccer is approaching, however, and it’ll be a fun one to participate in.

#137 After One Adventure

16 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I’m an adventure lover, that part of my personality tends to be straightforward.

After a good weekend spent mountain climbing or city exploring, though, I find myself easily content wherever I am. If these things are meant to be refreshing, they definitely have that effect on me.

#138 Chicken Adobo

17 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

This is kind of surprising, but this is the first time I’ve ever tried my hand at chicken adobo, and… I love cooking this stuff! I totally get why this is the one thing my mom will make again and again even though overall she’s never been too fond of cooking.

It’s a pretty easy recipe, but one that can get even better the more and more you get used to it, and it’s also a crowd pleaser. Plus you can swap out different ingredients each time to experiment with new things.

For my first attempt, I consulted two sources. My mom, obvi. And my Auntie Ella too. They both have different styles, but I took the gist of what they told me to do and kind of merged their two methods into one.

#139 Eat My Globe

18 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

“Ten of us sat around the table and ate, drank, and talked for over five hours, until the small hours of the early morning. We talked mainly about food and how things should be done properly, and how so many young people now took shortcuts. Everyone shook their heads mournfully. I felt totally at home.”

–Simon Majumdar

I just finished this book, and I read it fairly slowly considering I couldn’t read such a food centric book on an empty stomach.

This book reads like a food and travel show plays out, transcribed right into a paperback. Simon’s demanding taste buds get irritating at some points, but his British sense of humor grows on you after a while. It’s a food memoir. It’s a travel memoir. I’m a pretty easy audience when those two things come together.

#140 Roasted Brussel Sprouts

19 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Growing up, brussel sprouts were always used as a go-to example of a food most kids thought were nasty. Brussel sprouts and squid. I actually liked squid as a kid, but I understood why people disliked brussel sprouts. I wasn’t repulsed by them, but I also wasn’t terribly fond of the sometimes-metallic taste.

Turns out, much like cilantro, there’s a genetic reason why some people can’t stomach brussel sprouts. TAS2R38, if you happen to care. And I figured making an unpopular veggie into a good side dish might be a worthwhile challenge.

My attempt included crushed walnuts, bacon bits, and olive oil, three things that can improve many a dish. And it turned out good enough for Thursday’s dinner with some chicken quarters.

#141 Timbers Spirit

20 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Much love for the birthday present Deanna got for me, a Timbers jersey. I’ve wanted one for a while but they don’t come cheap.

If they were cheaper, I’d probably try and get away with having a wardrobe consist almost entirely of soccer jerseys. Beyond fandom, they’re the most comfortable thing to wear.

#142 Pancakes & Blackberry Syrup

21 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Saturday morning. A full day ahead and pretty much no plans at all. What’s the best companion for a day like that? Pancakes. A full, fat stack of them.

Deanna’s often the one to get the pancakes going around home but I decided to try mixing things up by trying out a new recipe. Buttermilk. And a pairing of blackberry syrup to go with it, since we try to be good Northwesterners.

Oh, and my favorite thing to do with pancake batter is to sprinkle it on the griddle to make really tiny pancakes. They’re called niblets and they’re awesome. One day I’ll figure out how to package a bunch of these in plastic and market them as wonderful snacks, cause that’s what they are.

#143 Market Weekend

22 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

This past weekend was one where we intentionally tried to not do too much, since it fell in between two travel weekends. We ended up not doing too much and getting plenty of rest, but also, we had plenty of fun, including two foreign film discoveries on Netflix we really liked.

Le Chef is a simple romantic comedy, but with French chefs so we know it’s good. I overlooked it for so long by mistaking it for a French baking competition I had already seen.

Trash is a Brazilian film featuring a group of kids who live on a landfill and get by via scavenging. They find a wallet with random contents– a lotto ticket, a key, a bookmark, which ends up turning into a neat little puzzle film in which they uncover some big time political corruption.

And as if that wasn’t good enough, we also spent our weekend just wandering around the 5th Street Market and picked up a couple macarons. I had a root beer float macaron that was spot on. How on earth do they do that?

#144 Hanging Mint

23 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

“I guess part of growing up is learning how to allow the lost things of the past to make new roots and grow, to become new and greater things by digging down into memory and image and rise up again in a new form.”

–Tyson Motsenbocker

This quote seemed relevant since at the end of the week I’ll be in San Diego, the city where I grew up.

Increasingly, roots are asserting themselves as what I find really valuable. Having a sense of origin and allowing that to feed you. This makes sense to me in both a mega-cosmic spiritual sort of way and as a reference to childhoods and past homes and longtime friendships.

With my roots being spread quite far in terms of geography, it takes a lot of extra effort to give them their deserved attention. It’s always worth it, though.

And speaking of roots, my mint seems to be doing the best out of anything I planted. If I can measure success by mojito potential, things should be great in the late summer.

#145 Milanesa & Chimichurri

24 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

It’s 2011. I’d been in Buenos Aires just long enough to take a nap at the hostel before wandering the streets. IT hasn’t sunk in yet that this is where I’ll be spending the next five months of my life. While exploring, I get hungry and find a café that looks like it might be good.

I know that in Argentina, the steak is supposed to be really good. There are so many options on the menu, though. Lomo, Bife. When the waitress comes around, I point at one. Milanesa.

What came out was a bit of a surprise. A very flat piece of beef that was breaded. But from that day forward, I knew what a milanesa was. And I had it again and again over the next five months. Usually with fries. Sometimes in a sandwich. Or with a squirt of lemon. Or with ham and cheese on top.

Flip ahead to 2016 and I finally tried to recreate my first meal in Argentina, a task I was already at a disadvantage at because of the lack of quality beef within the U.S. But, I took on the task anyways and I kind of like what happened as a result.

#146 Book Cleanse

25 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I think a lot of you are probably aware that my love of books goes pretty deep. From the days of me taking total advantage of Borders going out of business to scavenging thrift shops for travel guides to use as wedding props, I’ve accumulated quite the library over the years. Also, when Deanna and I got married, we wound up with a lot of second copies of the same title. I guess that’s a good sign we had a few things in common.

It’s probably a pretty good sign of personal progress and decluttering that I’m ready to drastically trim down my bookshelves to make room for new reads and to make sure everything can comfortably fit on there. Plus, a lot of the books I’ve trimmed down are either second copies or ones I’m unlikely to read again with all the things I have yet to read that I still hope to get to.

With all that said, I’m going to Powells on Monday with several stacks of books I’m looking to resell, but I thought I would check with my friends to see if there are any titles that interest you… there are some weird ones I’m getting rid of, as well as some all-time faves, but I won’t judge either way! I only ask that you Venmo me a little for shipping if you live far from me.

Vonnegut, Laura Hillenbrand, Jonathan Safran Foer, C.S. Lewis, Pico Iyer, Barbara Kingsolver await!

#147 Barry’s

26 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Eugene just lost one of its better coffee shops.

I went in on Friday for one last donut muffin, a latte, and an extra splurge of lox pie.

When legalized marijuana was up for a vote about a year ago, arguments in favor of lower incarceration rates and more efficient criminal justice were convincing enough to get it passed. The opposing side brought up gateway drug and slippery slope arguments, and so on, to no avail. Their arguments would have been a lot stronger if they brought up the dystopian future in which Barry’s loses its lease to a Cannabis Supply Shop.

#148 SeaTac Layover

27 May 2016 // SeaTac, Washington

Poking around the Sub-Pop store and trying to grab some fish and chips are the two most redeeming things about having a layover in Seattle.

I try to wear Timbers gear whenever I fly Alaska. Even when their flight routes take me through rival territory. Sometimes I wonder if people see me in my jersey, perhaps purchasing something with my Alaska mileage card thinking my customer loyalty game is ridiculous. But I’ve been on flights where wearing Timbers gear has resulted in perks like early boarding, so I can handle the judgement.

No dice this flight, but I did get comped some Portland Brewing Pale Ale, so no complaints.

#149 City of SD

28 May 2016 // San Diego, California

“I’m thanking God for being alive. And for our victory.”

–Trash (2014) 

Is this city our next home? Maybe. Maybe.

One of the big things that’s been on my mind lately is the fact that I’ll most likely be moving sometime within six to nine months. I’ll be finishing grad school and I’d like a job in a city that puts my family and friends in much closer access. San Diego perhaps? I definitely have a lot of family and friends there. Portland? It’s a possibility. We’ve also been throwing around the names of Sacramento and Ventura, and others may emerge.

Sometimes I wish I knew the answer already so I could start imagining the future, but perhaps that’s one of the big reasons why it’s a good thing I don’t know. In the end, I’ll have to see what my job hunt looks like after the summer and see what the options are then. So much of this move is out of my control. Then again, most of life is and I’m just pretty good at acting like it’s not.

One way or another, we end up where we need to be. It’s one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from the crazy travels and outdoor things I enjoy doing, and part of the reason I insist on adventure. It’s seeing how you managed to end up where you need to be and being astounded by the process.

I’ll find out how this goes eventually. In the meantime, I thank God I’m alive and for every little victory.

#150 Soledad with Jeremy

29 May 2016 // San Diego, California

Of all the San Diego natives I know (and there’s a lot of them) few know the city as well as Jeremy.

Had a good, good time catching up and talking about hospital work and photography during my short stint back in the city. The view up on Mount Soledad wasn’t too bad, either.

#151 Engaged: Jesse & Raquel

30 May 2016 // Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

It’s been forever since I’ve been able to do any sort of wedding, engagement shoot, or photoshoot for somebody, so it felt really good to get out to the Columbia Gorge with my camera and a lovely couple.

I’m really glad that Raquel and Jesse chose to call Portland their home when they had a whole country to choose from (and probably a dozen or so other countries, too, knowing them). It means we get to see them quite often, and hanging out usually involves good food or gorgeous places.

With these two, it isn’t hard to get some gorgeous shots and having Shepherd’s Dell in the background didn’t hurt either. Of course some of the shots that turned out great probably won’t be used on the Save the Date cards: Jesse smirking, Raquel blowing her nose, and Deanna photobombing.

#152 Born for This

31 May 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

“Life is seasonal. There’s a time to explore and experiment, and there’s also a time to focus.”

–Chris Guillebeau

Some things go down pretty well after a long work day. An engaging read and an apricot ale are two of them.

Books like this are not my usual. I actually kind of dislike the genre of self-help-ish, entrepreneur-ish books because most of them seem to promise the earth and sky and offer platitudes instead. This book does make some pretty big promises at the beginning– to “unlock the life you were made to live.”

I figured this book would be worth looking into since I have a career change coming up at the end of the year, and Chris Guillebeau tends to be an exception to my general dislike of the genre. A lot of what I’ve read from him has been genuinely helpful, and there were some good ideas in this one. Finding the intersection of joy and money and flow. Making backup plans on backup plans. Always being willing to try new ventures. I especially liked his ideas of writing “resumes from the future” or discovering your skills through what sorts of favors people often ask you for to.

That said, some of the results advertised in the book are finding work that doesn’t feel like work, amassing a base of supporters, and finding a side gig that can help provide more financial freedom. If you’d expect them all to come true instantly, you’ll likely be disappointed, but if you go into it expecting a good idea or two to stick with you, you’ll get something good out of it.

#153 Relief Nursery

01 June 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Today I did something that should have probably been on my bucket list, except it’s not really something I imagined myself doing. I got to help give away a giant check.

The funds went to the Relief Nursery as part of a class project I’ve been a part of. I also got to physically hand them the “real” check for $15,000, which is the most money I’ve ever given away. It wasn’t my money, but I physically got to give it away, so that counts for something I guess.

The Relief Nursery is one of the things making me pretty happy midweek. I visited their campus and was pretty impressed at the parental support they offer to low income families with the goal of putting an end to child abuse.

What else? Hmm… I’ve been loving the Chance album lately, like most other people who are aware of its existence. It’s one I really don’t mind on repeat over and over and over.

And I’m also pretty happy with Xurroland in Portland. Yet another dessert spot in the City of Roses that I hope to make part of my routine whenever I pass through.

#154 Redmond City Hall

02 June 2016 // Redmond, Oregon

One of the fun things I’ve been able to work on over the past couple months has been setting up a homeless shelter or service of some sort in the city of Redmond.

Today I got to give a presentation at Redmond’s city hall, which reminds me of some sort of Art Deco Deli.

Good times. And Hop Valley SaiBlack to celebrate.

#155 Buttermilk Fried Chicken

03 June 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Summer heat calls for summer meals, and it’s hard to skirt a classic. Buttermilk fried chicken.

Pickled corn, store-bought cole slaw, homemade ice cream, and chili pepper beer all work together to fight back against a weekend in the upper nineties.

This is the sort of recipe where I start to see the results of my yearlong cooking project. I used to never be able to get a handle on anything breaded and fried, with the breading almost always coming apart when moving things in and out of the oil. This year, I’ve been able to solve that problem for fish and chips, milanesa, and the much beloved fried chicken.

#156 Bohemia Saddle

04 June 2016 // Bohemia, Oregon

Close to triple digit temperatures… also known as a good time to hike, apparently.

Jordan took us to go see the highest point in Lane County, somewhere pretty deep in the Umpqua National Forest. Then to Bohemia, an abandoned mining town that hasn’t been used in a century. Creepy. And cool.

Beignet loved her time on the mountaintop too. A little too much. She got away from us for about an hour. Good thing she loves snow as much as she does. That made it way easier to go find her.

#157 Drinking from a Salt Pond

05 June 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

My favorite thing about getting into running has been being able to dig into some podcasts and good music a lot more.

Every few months or so I put up a blog post featuring some of my recent recommendations. No surprise that the most recent one happens to be dominated by what’s been coming in through my earbuds.

On the music side of things: Run River North, Gallant, and Jack Garratt have been getting a lot of plays from me lately.

Some fun podcasts: The Splendid Table, Gastropod, NPR’s Embedded, Sounds Good, and NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour.

#158 Mayonnaises

06 June 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Homemade condiments are the best. Homemade things generally tend to be better, but condiments are one of the things that really allow you to taste the difference.

I made a batch of spicy mayo and a batch of herb mayo to go into different things over the next week or so, starting with tonight’s dinner of crab rolls. Mayo lends itself well to quite a few summer recipes, so the timing is perfect.

Plus, I have leftover egg whites. Macarons soon?

#159 Black Panther

07 June 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I don’t know how long it’s been since I’ve bought a comic book. At least a dozen years, but probably longer.

What triggered this purchase? Ta-Nehisi Coates.

When I found out that the writer of what might be this decade’s most important book would follow up that piece by writing a line of Marvel Comics, I was intrigued. But it was great source material for him to be working with. Back when I was much more into the superhero world, Black Panther was one of the coolest characters, king of a technologically sophisticated African nation. It’s been fun to get back into the world of Wakanda.

I’ve mostly been going through these first few issues while trying to relax, and I’ve been enjoying them so far. Team T’Challa, all the way.

What else am I stoked about today? Well, Team USA proved they’ve got some fight in ‘em, with a pretty decided win against Costa Rica. I have a feeling the real Team USA is much better than they displayed against Colombia en la COPA.

Also, when I wake up tomorrow, it’ll mark four years that Deanna and I have been dating. My goodness. Life’s been sweet for a while now.

#160 Anniversary 4

08 June 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I’m the lucky one.

The past four years have been wild. Both of us have gone through grad school, we’ve moved from Santa Barbara to Bakersfield to Oregon, we’ve done long distance while I’ve lived in a van or in Africa, and we’ve shared some of the best adventures ever together. We drove across the country with a brake missing. We’ve also had to carry each other through stressful jobs, tragic news, and rough transitions, and we’ve been experiencing the excitement of getting married and talking about what sort of family we want to build.

There’s absolutely nobody I would rather be sharing this amazing and often ridiculous life with than my best friend. I’ve told her again and again that so many others become better people just by being around her, and I get to benefit from that the most by being around her the most.

I Love you, Hun. Thanks for saying yes to me on the Goleta Pier four years ago. I think it’s worked out pretty well.

#161 Grown Up BLT

09 June 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

BLTs are classic favorites, no doubt, and one of the best things to be eating when the weather gets this hot.

I wanted to try and come up with a recipe for perfect “grown-up” BLT. I tried thinking through what an upgrade to each of the main ingredients would be.

Bacon became uncured smoked bacon with pork rind flakes, though I was originally trying to get pork belly to work. Lettuce became a romaine salad cut with arugula. I kept some full tomato slices in but also added in some sundried aioli. And since the most obvious upgrade to a BLT is avocado, I threw on some, along with homemade mayo all on homemade sourdough bread.

#162 Fight

10 June 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

“Loving your enemy. Doing good things for evil people. Never taking vengeance. Responding to violence with nonviolent love– even if it brings suffering. These are not options, but the primary character traits of those who claim to follow a crucified God.”

–Preston Sprinkle, Fight

Now this was a thought-inducing read.

I don’t find many authors who tackle pretty weighty theological matters like violence as honesty and sympathetically as Sprinkle. This book had intellectual merit, while still coming across as very relatable.

For me, Christianity and nonviolence have always seemed to go together. Turning the other cheek and loving your enemy were distinguishing marks of the faith from its beginning. Then again, historical Christianity doesn’t seem to have a spotless record when it comes to that. And the Bible can be a pretty violent text at times.

Preston Sprinkle goes through by looking at the trajectory of scripture, era by era. It gets weighty at times, but it’s an important topic and this has been one of the more accessible approaches I’ve seen to some of these questions.

What I appreciated most was his apparent lack of an agenda. He definitely takes a stance and makes his understanding clear, but not in a way that recycles mantras and oversimplified arguments from cookie-cutter viewpoints. He stands for nonviolence, but not in a way that seems lost in empty idealism.

It was refreshing to see somebody unpack a issue in such an honest way. This book was written not to advocate a specific viewpoint, but to wrestle with some often-complicated questions.

#163 Kona Prep

11 June 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

My to-do list today was about twice as long as it usually is.

At the end of the day, I got it all done. Setting Beignet up with her babysitter. Packing my backpack. Getting a haircut.

It’ll all be worth it next week.

Kona, here we come.

#164 The Office Bar & Grill

12 June 2016 // Tacoma, Washington

After our travel plans went all wrong, we found ourselves unexpectedly in the middle of Tacoma with big appetites and some time to spare.

We found our way to The Office Bar & Grill on a quiet Sunday downtown. The outdoor seating was serene in the early summer and a perfect spot for people watching while mimosa sipping.

This place has a great happy hour… the fish and chips are pretty good, and I’m even more fond of their macaroni and cheese balls. Each was a pleasant surprise.

#165 Place of Refuge

13 June 2016 // Kalaoa, Hawaii

Getting to Hawaii was a long, wild, unexpected ride.

We’re here now though, and things are beautiful.

#166 Hookena Beach

14 June 2016 // Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

Hawaii routine: Wake up early, breakfast of guava toast or spam and eggs.

Beach in the morning. Play in the water a bit, snorkel, then sit, read, and sip on La Croix.

Come back for lunch, possibly a nap, and explore somewhere else.

Big dinner and family time at night, and call it a day.

#167 Nephews in Hawaii

15 June 2016 // Kalaoa, Hawaii

Swimming and boogie boarding with this kiddo marks the perfect start to summer.

I miss having my nephews close by. The six months in between Christmas and our Hawaii trip was the longest stretch of time I’ve gone without seeing them since they became a part of my life.

A week in Hawaii with the boys was great. And now I’m constantly counting down the weeks until I can move somewhere that allows us to see them much more often. Before they get a whole lot bigger. That’s a real race against the clock.

#168 Dolphins

16 June 2016 // Captain Cook, Hawaii

Deanna and I got to snorkel with dolphins around the Captain Cook monument and we had so much fun. It was most definitely mating season out there.

We kayaked out a couple miles to get to the spot. It was a good workout, but it was totally worth it. Being able to get really, really close to the dolphins was amazing.

The dolphins were pretty interesting, and so was the hippie mermaid who kept singing Joanna Newsom style while underwater. For obvious reasons, most people thought she was pretty nuts until her singing lured the dolphins towards her and she hitched onto one for a piggyback ride.

#169 Dinner at Huggos

17 June 2016 // Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

Huggos is one of the most noted restaurants in Kailua-Kona, and we got to grab dinner there on our last night in Hawaii.

I got to enjoy a Hawaiian inspired fettuccine and some guava braised ribs. Large order, I know, but I couldn’t decide between the two and figured it was a fancy enough occasion.

So thankful for this week.

#170 Lava Tubes

18 June 2016 // Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

Deanna and I had a full day, an island, and a rental car all to ourselves before we needed to get back to the mainland, so we figured we shouldn’t let it go to waste.

We spent most of the day eating and exploring Kailua-Kona, but before we left, we figured we should go check out a nearby state park.

On our way there, we got a bit sidetracked by some lava tubes. This is some of the newest land on the planet and we spent some time climbing through caves, tossing around weightless volcanic rock, and getting a glimpse of what the island would be like without people.

#171 The Mileage Club

19 June 2016 // San Francisco, California

Thanks to a couple of guest passes from Deanna’s dad, I got to enjoy a taste of life inside a airline mileage club lounge. In San Francisco the day of Game 7 of the NBA Finals no less.

We arrived early but got to grab coffee, bagels, and then a mimosa while people watching and working in some fancy recliners. It’s fun in here. I’ll have to pay better attention to all those travel-hacking blogs I follow to get back in here the next time I take a trip.

This summer, my focus will be on preparing myself for the end of grad school. Professionally, spiritually, personally. I’ll hope to do more copywriting, bulking up my portfolio before my job hunt goes full swing. (Seriously, if you need some writing done, send me a message!) I’m aiming to think and pray through what I’d want out of life after grad school and what my top priorities are. And of course, taking things a bit slower and enjoying the sun.

I won’t be doing a whole lot of travel this summer, which feels odd. Instead, I’ll be doing more short-term getaways around the Northwest since we may or may not get another summer here. We’ll also be hosting a lot of visitors which I always enjoy.

#172 Kare Kari

20 June 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

One of my cooking goals within my overall cooking project has been to learn some Filipino dishes. Sometime in the future, maybe I’ll set up a whole year-long project to actually get proficient at Filipino cuisine. In the meantime, figuring out a few go-to dishes sounds like a good idea.

Kare Kari is one dish I definitely wanted to be able to master. First off, oxtail is a real pleasure and it was fun to get to learn how to work with it. Tripe isn’t everyone’s favorite, but I like it and it allows me to live out my “use-as-much-of-the-animal-as-you-can” philosophy. Most of all, the peanut butter stew it’s cooked in is one of the most unique tastes across the spectrum of Filipino cuisine.

My first attempt wasn’t so bad! And for a cheaper option in the future, it can always be made with pork hock in lieu of the oxtail, and I do hope to make this again soon.

#173 Kare Kari Tacos

21 June 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I usually always pull for Argentina’s National Team whenever they play. Spending a semester in college made them my surrogate soccer country. There’s one massive exception to that, though, and it’s whenever they play my actual country. Tonight, I’m all for the underdog.

To throw in some more cultural mishmashing into this post, I whipped up some kari kare tacos, taking on a Filipino favorite, Mexican style.

And to tie it all together, the world of sports and the world of tacos, here’s a courtesy reminder to grab your free Taco Bell taco courtesy of the Warriors and the Calves.

#174 The Year of Living Danishly

22 June 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

“I am not important. If I take a break, no one dies. And this is A Good Thing.”

–Helen Russell

I wanted a light and fun, but deeply interesting read to bring on a summer trip, and this book turned out to be the perfect choice. It offered a pretty entertaining look at Danish culture and society, all through the lens of why they continually rank among the highest countries in terms of happiness.

I’m not too hard to please with a good book that takes on the premise of “I’ll try this out for a year and then write about it,” and this book fits that description to a tee. The writing is light and engaging enough to make it easy to fly right through its pages, yet contains enough statistics and odd facts to keep you intrigued. Did you know that Danish women can get an ovulation discount for booking their travel around a ripe time for them to procreate? I do now.

After a while you get the formula of each chapter: an anecdote, a few statistics, an interview with a randomly found “expert,” and the constant questioning of various Danes about how happy they are on a scale of 1 to 10. That said, the book manages to be pretty interesting in spite of its persistence upon this formula, so I suppose that’s a big win.

As far as Denmark goes? I could probably do without the tax rate (although, that comes with some major benefits), cultural homogeny, and the never-ending darkness come November, but there’s a lot about the Danish Way that I do appreciate. The lack of self-importance reflected in that earlier quote… I think that’s refreshing. And I love the way they’re able to enjoy their work. Not to mention the practice of hygge and getting all cozy as a sport.

#175 Fish Fillet

23 June 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Fish Friday struck a day early this week.

Seasonal cooking gets especially fun in the summer, when I move away from thicker, richer foods and have to think through how to use cooking to actually make something more refreshing. The zesty flavors that can go into a lot of fish items through herbs or citrus end up being one of my favorite summer tactics to rely on.

I’m so thankful our northwestern summer has finally come. Here’s to a weekend of the coast life.

#176 Astoria

24 June 2016 // Astoria, Oregon

I fell in love with the City of Astoria last weekend.

Peaceful is the perfect word for this city. It’s the ideal spot to walk around, get cozy in coffee shops, stare off into the ocean, and admire the views.

It’s got a history, a long and rich one, but it’s still fully alive in its gorgeous surroundings.

Small, but not too small, surprisingly good food all over the place, and it’s hard to argue with some of the stellar views this place has of both the ocean and the woods.

#177 Beignet Love

25 June 2016 // Seaside, Oregon

This dog was such a nutcase when we first adopted her. All puppy energy, no idea what to do with it.

Over the weekend, we took her with us to the Oregon Coast, which was the most dog-friendly trip I’ve ever taken. And the whole time, Beignet’s behavior was actually pretty exceptional. We haven’t even had her for four months and that’s made such a huge difference.

As a treat to our puppy for making good life choices, I tested out my long held hypothesis that her mind would be blown going into the ocean. My results at Seaside confirm my hypothesis.

#178 The Oregon Coast

26 June 2016 // Cannon Beach, Oregon

The Oregon Coast is pretty much amazing.

Thus far, all I’d really had the chance to see were Florence, Reedsport, and really small towns on the Central Coast, but I knew the good stuff was on the Northern Coast. Deanna and I went up to Astoria for our anniversary weekend and also spent some time in Seaside and Cannon Beach.

Man. These places were fun and quirky and gorgeous. I was surprised with how much good food there was on the coast. I was unsurprised about how pretty it was, but still impressed all the same. I’m glad we chose this as our destination for our first anniversary. Simple but great.

#179 One Year Anniversary

27 June 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Deanna, it’s been a year since we got married and having you as my wife has been beyond incredible.

Shortly before I got married, somebody told me that marriage is too fast. Seems kinda weird. How can a commitment you make that’s supposed to last you the rest of your life be too fast? Well, we’ve been married for a year as of today, and I get it. Slow down! Being married has been a big adventure, a long conversation, and a beautiful process.

Even though the year feels like it went by in a hurry (especially those first six months!), we’ve done so much together. Nashville and Johannesburg and Kona and New Orleans. A half marathon. Adopting Beignet. Discovering even more relatives. Hospital beds and bank accounts that run too low too quickly. Campsites and hiking trails and geocaches. Fast as it was, it’s been a very full year.

Happy anniversary, Mrs. Bun. I love being able to dream with you, to go places with you, to cook with you, to stay in and watch our shows with you, and to get even closer than we knew was possible.

#180 Vero Espresso Meeting

28 June 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I’m taking on as many communications projects over this summer as I can find! I’m in the process of trying to boost my portfolio and so I’m looking to take on copywrite projects, websites audits, and all good things.

Today I met with Eugene City Club to see how I can help them build up their outreach for sponsors. Looks like it’ll be a pretty good team up.

#181 Quelf

29 June 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Quelf! I don’t think I’ve played this game in years but I’ve just been reminded of how much fun it is.

These summer weeks are exactly what I’ve been needing lately.

Currently reading: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi… I’m only into the very early stages of the book but I already get what all the hype is about. People have been saying some very nice things about this generation-spanning novel of African and African-American family trees. I can’t wait to dig deeper.

Currently loving: Pok Pok’s drinking vinegar. I had a limited release black pepper flavor last weekend and now I wish that was one of the ones I could find in stores.

#182 If You Feel Too Much

30 June 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

“What if all those things that make up your story, the hard stuff and the good stuff, all the fears and dreams– what if all of it matters?”

– Jamie Tworkowski

I’ve been reading If You Feel Too Much by Jamie Tworkowski. Many of the essays and thoughts in this book were familiar pieces I’d already seen floating around online, but reading a bunch of them in succession was really kind of amazing. It accomplished it’s goal of painting a picture of life as an incredible, often difficult yet worthwhile thing.

This book lived up to my expectations. It lived up to its title. It was centered on the feelings of life, and in a very substantive way. It had a gritty edge along the side of its words.

This may come across as high praise for the book, and if it does, good. That’s what I mean it to be. This book made me want to write again. I know I already write a lot, but this reminded me so much about what I loved when I started turning thoughts into words.

#183 French Toast

01 July 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

The very first thing I learned how to cook ever was french toast. It seemed appropriate that one of the items on my list should be trying to perfect my very first recipe that I made as a kid.

I was at my aunt and uncle’s, and my Auntie Ella would always prepare me these massive breakfasts with all the classics. Sausage links and eggs and bacon and O.J. And french toasts would be an important part, too. One time she asked me if I wanted to give it a shot. I don’t recall it being any different from a typical french toast recipe. A wash of eggs. Cinnamon. Powdered sugar.

That being my first recipe and all, I wanted to make sure to do it justice when making it as a part of my cooking project. That meant the non-negotiable were truly non-negotiable. Texas Toast, even though some lady at the grocery store tried to pitch a discounted loaf of white bread. A double wash of the eggs. A bit of butter and vanilla extract. Just the right frying time.

A couple of maple sausage links on the side and the world has come full circle.

#184 St. John’s Bridge

02 July 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I’m in Portland. I love this city so much. Every single time I’ve come here, I’ve gotten this feeling that I belong. I don’t know what it is, but I’ve felt it so deep. There’s something about the spacing of the buildings downtown, the contrast of the muted red tones of brick buildings against the green shade of trees, the way the city feels so intimate and endless at the same time.

I wish I could put this feeling into words a little bit better. It reminds me just a little bit of the feeling I’d get from Santa Barbara, the last place where I ever felt truly at home. I wish I had the words to explain this to Deanna, as we start to deliberate where we want to live next. I wish I had the words to explain this to my family, who all anticipate my return to California. That’s the logical thing to do on paper, and there’s probably a pretty good chance that we’ll end up there, but for now, I’m in Portland and it’s amazing.

#185 Ivy & JB in Portland

03 July 2016 // Portland, Oregon

How do you Portland in 36 hours? Basically, you eat. Pick berries, then eat. Go see a waterfall, and eat. Powell’s of course, then more food.

That was basically our task at hand when Ivy and JB came up to visit us for the weekend but only really had one and a half days to spend exploring my favorite big city. There was Pok Pok and Powell’s and Salt & Straw and all the things I’d deem as a Portland must. Not an easy task when that’s an ever growing list.

I’m satisfied with all we got done. Most of all, it was great getting to spend some time with these two again.

#186 Fourthland

04 July 2016 // Portland, Oregon

It was a very good 4th with some very good friends to wrap up a very good weekend.

This week will once again be full of hustle and work and contemplating options and balancing money and trying to figure out what’s next in life.

None of that matters while fireworks are going off. While the sky is on fire and flecks of gold rain down on the waterfront.

#187 The Olympic Trials

05 July 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

The Olympic Trials are in town!

For the most part, this means my favorite restaurants will be unusually packed and that I’ll have to start parking somewhere else to get to the University.

Other than that, though, it’s pretty great having some of this excitement around Eugene.

#188 Thesis Revisions

06 July 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Thesis crunch time is in full swing!

I don’t know how my advisor did it, but in about a week she managed to make corrections and edits for all 240 pages. Hopefully she’s still got some energy left for the final copy which I’m hurting to get done tonight.

Less than a week until I defend this thing. End in sight!

#189 Five of Seven

07 July 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

After selling back a ton of extra books to Powell’s, Deanna and I made quite a decent amount of money in the form of Powell’s gift cards that we should have no trouble using up.

We started by trying to recover the lost childhood artifact of the entire Harry Potter series.

For less than $50, we’re off to a good start. In one swoop I managed to find used copies of everything but books two and seven, all in the familiar friendly paperback covers we’ve come to love.

#190 Ellie & Sabrina Visit

08 July 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

We got the treat of having our friends Ellie and Sabrina come through Eugene on their epic Portland and Yosemite road trip.

Per usual we got to take them out to Sweet Life.

To absolutely nobody’s surprise, Beignet loved them too much and I had an excuse to test out a chicken nugget recipe I’ve been wanting to make.

#191 Emerlads Night

09 July 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Baseball parks are pretty much my favorite place to be this time of the year.

Truth be told, the main reason we went to this game was because we thought it would be the Emeralds’ tribute night to Prince. Unfortunately I read the schedule wrong and they were wearing pinstripes instead of their special Purple Rain jerseys, but we had a good time anywho.

Baseball is summer, even when you’re at the lowest level of minor leagues.

#192 Pokémon Go

10 July 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Ah, Pokémon Go, I’ve been waiting for you!

So far, it’s been as fun as I thought it might be to run all over town to catch ‘em all. And Eevee looks like my dog, which kind of explains why they keep flocking to my house.

Thankful for technology that brings a world that was a blast to explore during childhood into (augmented) reality. And to the dog park at Alton Baker for being the best place to catch Pokémon. I’m sure Beignet is thankful as well.

#193 Mom & Aunt Viv Visit

11 July 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Mom & Aunt Viv got into town yesterday. We are getting visitors left and right this summer and we absolutely love it.

Later this week, Deanna’s family gets into town.

Also… Slowbro!

#194 Thesis Defended!

12 July 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Twelve months of writing, three months in South Africa, 240 pages of work, and I can now celebrate a Masters’ thesis successfully defended!

Honestly, today was the fun part. I just got to stand in front of my committee and talk for thirty minutes about my time working with orphans and vulnerable kids in South Africa. Those kids are the best though and I can easily talk about them for hours.

I’m so thankful to have the kiddos as a part of my life for forever in some way, to have Deanna so willing to join me on my research trip, for the staff at 5Cees being accommodating, for my academic committee actually being really fun to work with, and for my friends and family willing to sit through academic jargon to watch me defend. I’ve got a great team!

#195 Day at the Public Market

13 July 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Spend the day acting as tour guide to my mom and aunt and took them to the one part of town I’m most confident that they’d enjoy… the Fifth Street Public Market!

I got to treat myself to a slice of Mereguez pizza with some amazing lamb sausage, plus a bottle of drinking vinegar soda on the side.

Also, while they were shopping, I managed to grab myself a Sandslash. Pretty swell.

#196 Energy Bars

14 July 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I hit the halfway point of my 2016 cooking goals! Of course, right when I hit the halfway point, I started to get busy and skipped a few weeks.

I felt pretty determined to not let another week pass me by without crossing anything off, so in spite of this week probably being my most sedentary week of the year (I’ll be sitting on a plane for over 60 hours) I cooked up my most high octane food item. Power bars.

Considering most power bars taste kinda weird and have a weird texture, I figured it would be hard coming up with a standard to gauge how well I did this recipe. I somewhat based a lot of the ingredients off what I could recall from a Good Eats episode with peanut butter, tofu, wheat germ, and oat bran being the main components. I also got pretty excited at my grocery’s bulk section when I found things like dried whole bananas and cherries to include.

When it was finished, I actually thought it was pretty good for a power bar. The texture was still a little bit funky, I blame the tofu, but everything kind of melded together and formed a cohesive taste that was dominated by the peanut butter and bananas- and that’s a solid combination right there.

#197 Lola’s Love

15 July 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Sometimes I wonder what qualities exist in the type of person God allows to live that long. I think it’s a strong suggestion that Lola’s presence on the earth was needed for nearly a century. Her Love. Her gentleness. Her care for her family.

When she would wake up at three, I wondered what she was doing. How many things were there for her to do at three in the morning?

She prayed. For each of her kids. And grandkids. And eventually, great-grandkids.

Lola’s Love was so large that it ends up sounding statistical. Ask anyone in her family and they’ll start rattling off a tally of family members. Kids? 9. Grandkids? 20. I guess it makes sense that she lived so long, she always put up astounding numbers.

Lola’s very long life was spent surrounded by Love, and at the end of the day, no matter how many years we get, I think that’s all we could really want. To know that we have Loved and been Loved. Lola spent nearly a century giving and receiving Love as freely as possible.

#198 Sweetwater Grill

16 July 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Thanks to Deanna’s family coming into town, I had the chance to eat at the Sweetwater Grill for the first time.

This place sits right on the Willamette River, with an outside patio area adjacent to the North Bank bike path. I used to run right by it while training a lot, but I didn’t realize it was connected to the Valley River Inn and I definitely didn’t realize how delicious it was.

I ordered some fish and chips, and they were great! It was a thicker but less floury breading unlike most fish and chips and it was great. It refrained from ever getting soggy and had a great crisp that went well with the quality of the fish. I also tried a bit of Deanna’s dungeness crab chowder… that was a really good soup! The menu wasn’t the biggest or most inventive, but the tastes I got were all well-executed.

#199 Skinner’s Butte

17 July 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

We spent the day showing Deanna’s family around town, her grandma in particular, since she had never been to Eugene before.

We did some wandering around campus and Hayward Field in particular. Then we had lunch at the market (finally got to try their cubano) and found ourselves on Skinner’s Butte.

I feel pretty ready to move on from Eugene, but I also want to rack up the goo memories for as long as we have left.

#200 Top of Lillis

18 July 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

It’s official– my job hunt for life after grad school has gotten underway!

I’m looking widely. Mostly communications work or nonprofit work, especially interested in jobs in cities that’ll let me be a lot closer to family and to be ready for a new season of life.

So far I’m feeling pretty good and excitement. Hopefully that translates into something good.

#201 In Laws In Eugene

19 July 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

This past week has been one of the craziest ones this year. It’s been a difficult one for obvious reasons, but there were a lot of good things that happened too.

One of those good things was having my in laws visiting Eugene for the week, along with Deanna’s grandma.

Lots of good nights on backyard patios, wine tasting at vineyards, playing tour guide around Eugene, and reintroducing them to Ticket to Ride brought a lot of needed light into this week. Glad for that.

#202 Layover in the City

20 July 2016 // San Francisco, California

Spent quite a while in San Francisco’s airport today. A six hour layover flew by surprisingly fast. Actually most of this day flew by surprisingly fast.

I’ve never been the biggest fan of SFO. Too expensive, for sure. Also, massive and kind of impersonal.

Today, though, I discovered that it makes for a pretty nice workspace. I guess that’s a sweet perk of being such a start-up hub.

Philippines, here I come.

#203 Hong Kong Layover

21 July 2016 // Hong Kong

I’ve made it to Hong Kong to stretch my legs! Being on international flights, in new airports makes me wish I weren’t on this journey for such a short time and under these circumstances. There are so many places and people along the way that I’d love to see and I’m getting flashbacks of our adventure two years ago that stir up good memories I’d like more of. I’m glad to be on my way to see family, though.

On the plane I discovered a Korean detective movie and actually really liked it, which was good because the three other movies I saw were big letdowns! I had much higher hopes for Deadpool and Hail Caesar.

Also, I finished Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. Loved it so much I can’t wait to give it a fuller review.

I can’t wait to be with my family in just a few hours. It’ll be good to be with everyone, even if the reasons aren’t so happy.

#204 Lola’s Memorial

22 July 2016 // Iloilo City, Philippines

Hearing stories from the past week have helped me realize how many traits my grandma passed on to me. Traits i’m really proud of.

Lola loved to cook, especially for others, and I’ve always wondered where I got that interest, since my mom and most of her siblings don’t enjoy cooking at all.

Lola was also a traveler, especially for a Filipina woman born in the 1910’s. (Most of them just didn’t do that back then!) She did it for those she loved, and that’s the best reason to travel.

Lola also loved orphans and vulnerable children. Yesterday, I met the boy (now almost fifty!) she took in as a foster child after she had raised nine of her own. She also essentially adopted her sister’s family. I wonder if that same heartbeat is the one that drove me to South Africa.

#205 Lola’s Life

23 July 2016 // Iloilo City, Philippines

“Imagine… you could have all this!”

–Lola

The last time I saw my grandma, she was so happy to see me and to meet Deanna that she got up and slowly walked us around the house to give us a tour. Four times in a row. We went from the living room, to her bedroom, to the garden, again and again. Each time we got to her room, she picked up this plate with her portrait that somebody made for her as a birthday present. She would look around the room and say those exact words. “Imagine… you could have all this!”

Maybe she was just really excited about her plate. Maybe she was talking about “all this” as in us. Visitors. Family. One that would keep on growing and keep on traveling in order to stay together. I think that’s more likely. It still makes me glad to know that my last memory of Lola will be of her flooded with joy and gratitude.

I asked her caretaker Alice if she knew what plate I was talking about, and she remembered exactly. I’ll be bringing this back home with me as a reminder to always go where the Love is.

#206 Surprise Tokyo Trip

24 July 2016 // Tokyo, Japan

This doesn’t always happen to me, but some days I wake up and unexpectedly finish the day in Japan.

For unknown reasons, my connecting flight between Narita and San Francisco was cancelled, along with all other flights between Japan and the US for the rest of the day.

I wound up needing to take an extra day off (I know, there are far worse sacrifices that people have made) and got to spend the night in a pretty fun Tokyo hotel for the evening. The results of this mishap turned out to be hotel fun, an unexpectedly amazing and cheap meal, and a pretty good day of Pokéhunting.

#207 Lunch with Chika

25 July 2016 // Tokyo, Japan

I landed at my Narita layover to find that my flight to San Francisco had been cancelled, along with pretty much every flight to the United States. What to do?

First, I treated my free hotel stay like it was Home Alone 2, complete with complimentary bathrobes!

Then I tried to see which of my friends in Japan I might be able to meet. It was a bit of a puzzle navigating the Tokyo railway, but I made it to the city in time to eat lunch with my friend Chika who I haven’t seen in two years. Not bad for a cancelled flight.

#208 Homegoing

26 July 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

“The need to call this thing “good” and this thing “bad,” this thing “white” and this thing “black,” was an impulse that Effia did not understand. In her village, everything was everything. Everything bore the weight of everything else.”

– Yaa Gyasi

I finished the book Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi on the plane and the timing of me reading this book could not have been better. The novel follows two branches of a family tree across several generations. Each chapter explores a moment of another family member, and subtly reveals how pain and heartache and sins and strengths and resilience were passed down the line for years and years.

This book is important. So important. Not only was it really well written, but its themes were so important to both personal experiences and current events. One line of the family is brought from Asanteland into the United States via the slave trade while the other remains in modern-day Ghana. While the novel was fiction, the events that interfered and oppressed many of the characters on both sides were so unjust they’d make you angry. At the same time, the delicate strands of relationships, often estranged ones, that connected people to each other were undeniably beautiful.

This wasn’t a perfect book, but its mild flaws are totally forgivable in light of its importance. Midway through, I began to tire of the formula it had followed for 200 pages. Then I hit the chapter about “Yaw.” It was the one I connected with best, and the last chapters were especially beautiful and powerful.

I value knowing where you came from, but for many minorities and other cultures, that can be a painful knowledge. And a beautiful one at the same time.

#209 Laudato Si

27 July 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

The universe unfolds in God, who fills it completely. Hence, there is a mystical meaning to be found in a leaf, in a mountain trail, in a dewdrop, in a poor person’s face. The ideal is not only to pass from the exterior to the interior to discover the action of God in the soul, but also to discover God in all things. Saint Bonaventure teaches us that “contemplation deepens the more we feel the working of God’s grace within our hearts, and the better we learn to encounter God in creatures outside ourselves.”

–Pope Francis

I’ll be honest, I’m quite partial to Pope Francis and I’ve been hoping to read his encyclical on climate change for quite some time.

I’ve never read an encyclical from any Pope before, so I don’t know how it compares to other writings that precede it, but I do think it explained the rationale for a spiritual motivation to care for the earth really well and to step beyond throwaway culture and the worship of exclusively technological solutions.

#210 Sauerkraut

28 July 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Still trying to get my yearlong cooking project back on track… I’ve got some fairly simple summer recipes for drinks and appetizers coming up though, so I think we’re getting there!

Tonight I tried to make some sauerkraut. Cabbage and onion and a surprise ingredient– beer! I guess the yeast helps with the curing of the dish.

Special guest beer appearance by a McMennamin’s Wheat!

#211 Toy Story in the Park

29 July 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Deanna and I spent our evening in the park trying to watch a movie under the stars… or we tried to at least.

Beignet couldn’t really handle all the stimulation.

But we also did get some Five Guys… and we made it as far as Sid’s first appearance.

#212 Crater Lake

30 July 2016 // Crater Lake, Oregon

Checked off another wonder of Oregon… and the one that I’ve been trying to visit for over five years. Crater Lake.

When I studied in Argentina during college, I remember my roommate told me that Crater Lake was the most beautiful place he’s ever been. He lived in Washington, so I figured his standards were pretty high. And all the pictures and everything I saw since seemed to confirm. That Blue.

I was surprised to find that Crater Lake was a national park seemingly more meant for a day visit. Driving the rim was gorgeous and pretty easy, and Deanna, Beignet, and I had a great time. We also got to explore some of Roseburg on our way back and now we have so many more places we’d want to eat.

#213 Joy Church

31 July 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

It took us longer than we would’ve expected to find a church in Eugene that really felt like a good fit.

Glad we ran into Joy Church. It’s only been a few months, but we’ve loved being a part of this community.

#214 Cold Brew

01 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I don’t know why, but the tweet that’s made me laugh the most out of all the tweets I’ve ever read was this one:

“When drinking cold brew, it is proper etiquette to stand up, look the barista in the eyes, and say ‘damn, that brew is COLD!’”

#215 Mango Salsa

02 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I am giving myself a pretty big pat on the back for being able to anticipate what sort of meals I’d like to be preparing mid-summer… the meat-and-starch-heavy, labor intensive projects have been on break for a while, giving way to more light and refreshing summer fare.

Chips and salsa were due up next, and not only was this a pretty easy task, but salsa is one item that you can really get creative with and transform with endless combinations.

Although, if you’re me, you’re such a big fan of mango salsa that submitting anything else as an entry for my cooking project was simply unthinkable.

#216 Sonny

03 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Not everybody gets to have lunch with Sonny Van in their town in the middle of the week. #blessed am I.

Ninkasi, sushiritos, and good chats about what life’s been serving us lately, which isn’t always easy but at least it doesn’t have to be a solo act.

#217 Chocolate Coconut Coffee Seltzer

04 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I listened to an episode of The Splendid Table that got me all into the idea of afternoon seltzers, spritzers, and aperitifs.

Here’s one that I managed to whip up, a chocolate coffee coconut seltzer. Sort of a West Coast upgrade to the traditional egg cream.

Bonus points: just a little splash of amarula.

#218 Cuisines of the Axis of Evil

05 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

“This plan of attack presumes you are feeding a crowd of eight esurient diners.” .

–Chris Fair

Oh man… I really wanted to like this book! In theory, it seemed to have all the markings of a book I’d enjoy. Food as a tool of understanding some of the most difficult nations to get our heads around! Cooking as diplomacy! Maybe those raised my expectations way too high, because I was severely disappointed.

Unfortunately, this book suffers from a pretty big identity crisis. Instead of coming across like an experience or firsthand account, each chapter reads like an overambitious textbook that tries to cram an entire nation’s history into five or six pages before abruptly turning into a cookbook. The book jacket talks about the author sharing meals with Delhi prostitutes and Talibs in Peshawar. The book itself shares none of those stories, instead going for information that could be easily found online and flat attempts at humor.

There were also so many points where Chris Fair’s writing got so distracting as I would read over sentences and think of how each one could have been better written. I don’t know if it’s her academic background, or what, but she never chooses the clearest way to say something when there are million dollar vocabulary words available. If only big words made for good writing. Her excessive vocabulary and lack of filters for what details to include resulted in sentences like the above quote.

I will point say that I did learn something new– that in India you can hire a coach to help you cheat on exams. And I have yet to actually try out her recipes, so perhaps there’s room for redemption there.

#219 Miike Snow

06 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

This weekend was niice. With two i’s.

Of all the concerts I’ve seen in the past several years, I was probably the least familiar with Miike Snow’s music before going to their show. But hey, I like Animal and Genghis Khan and a handful of others, and I had an inkling that they’d be a fun bunch to see live.

They were! And it isn’t very often that bands like them drop by Eugene.

#220 State Street Evening

07 August 2016 // Santa Barbara, California

This summer couldn’t end without another mostly unplanned, rather unexpected trip. Thankfully it wasn’t to the other side of the world this time, just Southern California.

This trip enabled me to see my aunts, and to go to my cousin’s birthday party. That also meant pounds and pounds of Filipino food for lunch.

And then the evening came and I got to see Matt and treat him out to fro yo for his birthday. And I got to wander State Street for a bit. If only I had a bit more time to see people while in SB. But I’ll take this.

#221 Short SB Stint

08 August 2016 // Santa Barbara, California

Took a very quick, almost unplanned, and way unannounced visit to Santa Barbara today. I really wish I had the ability to stay much longer, because there would’ve been so many people I’d have loved to see. Unfortunately I was in town for mere hours, so I ended up making it just a quiet solo visit.

This was my first time back here since I got married over a year ago. That’s also officially the longest amount of time I’ve spent away from Santa Barbara since I started living there almost a decade ago.

I still like the way the streets feel. And I know that there’s a sense of home here that I’ll never fully erase no matter what happens.

#222 New Year’s Resolution

09 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

This is my view from the couch. I never intended the couch to be my primary workspace, but that started when I adopted the dog and continues on to this summer.

I stare at this corner wall, kind of an awkwardly designed corner the more you look at it. This location has managed to sell a decent portion of my book’s copies.

Also, my new resolution was to finally put some photos in that window-style frame. New year’s resolution accomplished!

#223 Cherry Pie

10 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

It is summer, therefore, I will make pie.

I am making a pie, therefore I will make it out of as many cherries as I can get my hands on while they’re in season.

Well, I feel accomplished today.

#224 Cornbread with Cheri

11 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

It’s been a pretty busy week- I had a presentation of some sort nearly every day, but that’s over and now it’s time to go explore some Oregon small towns in the middle of nowhere.

Current musical fixation: Oh Wonder. Phantogram-esque production with more restraint and way better harmonies.

Also, I watched The Little Prince last night. Wayyyy different from what I was expecting but that movie was romanticism and whimsy.

#225 Bryndzové Halusky

12 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Six years ago, I was wandering around Slovakia. A friend I met on the airplane decided to hunt for a meal with me. We went into a nameless restaurant in a rustic old alleyway. I was served a tall pitcher of beer and a meal I’ll always remember, even if I never got its name. The best way I could describe it was something like a goat cheese gnocchi with large chunks of seared bacon or pancetta on top. It was Central European comfort food at its finest. 

Flash forward to several months ago and I find an article in Anthony Bourdain’s Roads & Kingdoms online magazine about the mysterious Slovakian masterpiece, bryndzové halusky.

While I couldn’t find all the right ingredients (the cheese is a special Slovak cheese that makes for an impossible scavenger hunt in the US) I learned enough about how to take on making this recipe myself using chèvre, a couple potatoes, and uncured block bacon. I’m pleased with these results.

#226 Eastern Oregon

13 August 2016 // Joseph, Oregon

This has been one of the strangest summers for me on record. A lot of new things, a lot of challenging and difficult things, and a lot of unexpected things. Most of all, a lot of not really knowing what comes next.

I recently realized that there was so much ambiguity in my life that I can’t really make any plans beyond September. Then it also occurred to me how much I liked that… just having to take things weeks at a time, and soon enough, days.

The summer’s winding down, and I’m not even sure if it felt fast or long. That probably means it was both in some ways. There were times where I was so busy that it felt more like a really warm March.

At the same time this summer has also been full of some really beautiful moments, like getting out of a car I had spent seven hours driving just in time to witness the sun finally go down in a part of Oregon I’d never seen before– the mysterious, sparsely populated east. Deanna and I needed to cook dinner and ended up being shifty and “borrowing” a fold out table from a laundromat to get by. It was an unexpected challenge, but one all the more memorable because of that.

#227 The Wallowas

14 August 2016 // Wallowa Lake, Oregon

I’ve heard the Wallowas refered to as the Oregonian Alps, so naturally, I wanted to head over there last weekend.

Great mountains and backpacking trails that stretch for days. Literally. It was hard for us to find a hike that could be done within a couple hours.

We weren’t able to stay for very long, but this place was gorgeous- and I’m glad the Seven Wonders of Oregon campaign included something from the less visited Eastern Oregon.

#228 Market of Choice

15 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I love buying groceries in bulk. Seriously one of the best ways to save a lot of money and to reduce food waste.

This is one of the reasons I like Market of Choice. Most of the time I think of it as an expensive grocery store, which is true if you buy the seven dollar cookies on display right by the door.

But, if you know how to hunt around for basics, find some of their special deals, or spend some time discovering their massive bulk section, it’s a great spot.

#229 Poké Stroll

16 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

This is the part of town that is always flooded with Pokémon Go players. There’s been a crowd over here for two months now. People sit on the corner by the creek on lawn chairs with their phones out.

There are three Pokéstops at the intersection, and all of them always have lures. The Bier Stein is right here and I wonder if they love the foot traffic or find it a nuisance. My guess is that they like it, and my sneaking suspicion is that they’ve been planting the lures. And why not? If I owned a business near three Pokéstops, I’d spend a good ten bucks a day to keep foot traffic pretty heavy in front.

I joined the crowd for the first time last week with my friend Andrew. We mostly went to try and take over as many gyms as we could. A successful outing.

#230 Coach Pro

17 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Sometimes new endeavors and opportunities spring up out of nowhere and take off way faster than you’d expect. Doesn’t always happen, but sometimes it does, and it’s one of those things I like a lot about life.

This summer, an unexpected side hustle showed up. I’ve been doing work on copywriting and content consulting with different organizations to help make their messages more clear, more energized, and more empathetic. This sort of stems from a realization I had earlier this year about how people are designed to thrive off of helping each other.

So far, I’ve really enjoyed doing this! One of the companies I’ve had a really fun time working with has been Coach Pro, that does customizations and repairs on big coach buses. I’ve got to go inside some of their vehicles and Xzibit would be totally jealous. These guys have a lot of fun making a bus just right for whoever they’re working with– whether that’s been converting a coach into a camoflauge-patterned man cave or making a big RV disability-friendly. Their old website was informative, but it didn’t quite showcase what a great service they did for their clients. Their new one does.

So far these projects have been a really good fit for me, and I look forward to taking on more in the upcoming months. If you know someone who could use a storyteller, give me a holler.

#231 Guest Room

18 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Our guest room has a futon bed, fully loaded bookshelves, and lots and lots of maps on the wall.

Spent a little bit of time in the afternoon getting the guest room ready for Justin and Caytlin over the weekend.

When we were looking for our first apartment together we knew that one thing we really wanted was a guest room. We love it when friends come to visit.

#232 Waffles in Town

19 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

This is gonna be a good weekend– we’ve got a visit from CC and Justin and of course, Charlie Waffles the corgi.

Good times on the Ninkasi porch with two puppies in tow.

#233 Wildwood Falls

20 August 2016 // Culp Creek, Oregon

We loved having visitors, as we always do. Caytlin and Justin came to town to pay us a visit, and Charlie Waffles came with them.

It was a great couple days of eating great food, going out into the woods and finding a waterfall to go splash in.

One of the hardest parts when we first moved to Oregon was being far away from some of our closest friends. One of the best parts was having endless nature to go be mesmerized by. Last weekend was a combo of that first problem being solved and that second gift being enjoyed. Perfect.

#234 Picnic After Church

21 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

One of the earliest moments when I decided our church would be a good fit was when everybody went out to grab burgers together after the service on Sunday. Churches that eat together are my favorite.

Today after church, a friend’s parents were in town and the weather was nice and warm. A bunch of us ended up gathered at the park to enjoy a simple picnic.

We had some amazing grilled barbecue chicken, some tasty burgers, and seemingly bottomless chips. Sunday afternoons like this are great.

#235 Southeast Asian Food Night

22 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

My small group at church is responsible for me getting to enjoy one fantastic meal every week.

This week we had an Asian food night, which turned out to be noodles galore.

I got to try my hand at making pad see ew, which is my favorite Thai dish, for the first time. Came out a bit salty but people seemed to like it.

#236 Emeralds Puppy Night

23 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Beignet got to go to her first baseball game this week. The Emeralds hosted puppy night at the ballpark as a fundraiser for the shelter we adopted her from.

There were dogs everywhere at this game. If you love baseball and dogs, you would’ve thought you were in the best place on earth.

I think Beignet liked the game. She at least liked the sasquatch mascot. She was less thrilled by all the stairs we had to climb on the bleachers and the scary foul ball that came our way.

#237 Prosciutto, Arugula, Mozzarella Pizza

24 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

We made it a pizza night, and I got to try out a new recipe.

Made the crust from a recipe that mostly resembled my baguette dough. I added a little rosemary because that’s fun. And for toppings, prosciutto, arugula, and mozzarella. I love the way a deep cheese blends with he saltiness of prosciutto and the bitter spike from the arugula leaves.

Pizzas are some of the best meals to make at home. High reward for a pretty simple process.

#238 Hop Valley Trivia Night

25 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Went to Hop Valley’s trivia night for the first time. Showed up. Signed up. Dominated.

First time I’ve ever placed as high as second, and we could’ve had a good run at first if only we remembered Ellen Degeneres’ short stint as an American Idol judge.

We did good enough for me to win a $10 gift certificate for burgers in Albany, though.

#239 Deanna Rocks!

26 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I don’t get to brag about Deanna nearly enough, but she does really meaningful work and really difficult work. And she’s really, really good at it.

It’s impossible to know how many crises she’s averted or how many lives she’s saved through hard work, but I know she’s helped a ton of people. At the very least, there’s one kid out there this week who is in a much safer situation thanks to Deanna.

I get to be married to an actual hero. How cool is that?

#240 Camp Agape

27 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

My friend Andrew invited us to come check out a camp he’s been involved with for a couple years, and we’re so glad we took his invitation yesterday to come hang out at the campgrounds yesterday.

The site was awesome- it was everything I remembered from my childhood summer camps, but with even more. Mini golf, a zip line, bumper boats, even this pulley system so kids could be yanked 60 feet in the air.

The best thing of all though was that the camp sends these kids home with messages of being Loved and not being alone. All of them have parents in prison, and that’s not a population I think of a whole lot, but man, they have it rough in so many ways. I’m glad this camp exists for them.

#241 Vietnamese Spring Roll

28 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Vietnamese fresh spring rolls are probably my favorite dinner during the summer.

For the most part, ingredients are pretty cheap and basic. I can fill my belly at a low cost, and that doesn’t always happen. There is also very little cooking with heat needed- just to boil the rice noodles and somewhat cook the shrimp. And most of the ingredients are the crisp, cool type perfect for summer.

#242 Powell’s Rummage

29 August 2016 // Portland, Oregon

A quick trip to Portland for errands would not be complete without setting aside an hour for exploring, preferably bookstore exploring.

I decided to skip out on the usual Powell’s spot for the smaller but easier Powell’s on Hawthorne. It’s still a Powell’s so I did not walk out empty handed.

Books, I look forward to the time we’ll be spending together soon!

#243 Bijou Art Cinema

30 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Thanks to this little indie theatre that runs out of an office suite, I’ve gotten to see a pretty good pair of movies this week that you can’t find in most theaters.

Deanna and I went to see Captain Fantastic, which truly was fantastic, and not at all a superhero movie. (Otherwise I never would’ve gotten Deanna to go). Viggo Mortensen plays a “fight-the-power” hippie dad who has to figure out if he wants to continue raising his kids in the woods after their mom dies. It’s a little bit Moonrise Kingdom meets Into The Wild, but also it’s entirely own thing. I don’t think I’ve seen such an honest portrayal of an alternative way of living in a movie.

Then I got to see Don’t Think Twice which I liked. It was a bit insidery to the whole world of stand up comedy and theatre, but way, way back in the day I did my share of improv, so I liked it.

#244 Tortillas

31 August 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I took a stab at handmade tortillas tonight, these were perfect for helping us finish off a batch of leftover carnitas.

Conclusion: these were great and kind of fun to make, but I don’t know if I’ll be doing it again anytime soon. Getting the flour thin enough was so time consuming, and a pack of tortillas at the store is pretty cheap. At least I made enough for a stack of leftovers.

This gives me new appreciation for the lady I met in San Antonio who cranks out stacks of these every hour by hand. I think she held a record or something. The shop where she worked sold shirts with her picture on it that said Rage Against the Tortilla Machine.

#245 Ceviche

01 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I am a huge fan of ceviche. In between the fresh flavor of uncooked fish and the meatiness of cooked fish is cured fish.

The citrus was a bit strong on this one and I would’ve loved to add a bit more jalapeño heat. The fish texture came out great, though. I’m glad the guys at Newman’s recommended going with the snapper.

This also paired up pretty well with my leftover tortillas from yesterday, though some corn tortillas would’ve been nice too.

#246 Eugene Emeralds

02 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Congrats and good luck to the Eugene Emeralds on their playoff run, and a really good season after all. I’m glad we got to make it to a few games this year.

One of our marriage goals was to make it to four different Emeralds games, and we closed out the season with our fourth one. If I had to pick a favorite, I’d go with puppy night against Hillsboro a couple weeks ago.

#247 NEEDTOBREATHE

03 September 2016 // Bend, Oregon

On the unofficial last night of summer, we got to hang out at the park by the river with what felt like the entire city of Bend and watch a few really great bands put on a really great show.

There wasn’t a bad act in the lineup, but NEEDTOBREATHE was the headliner and so they brought some serious oomph with them on stage. I’ve heard from lots of people that they’re good live performers, and those people were right. Lately, I’ve been all about the song Happiness… the lyrics of that chorus telling me I wasn’t made for the simple life… that resonates the way a meaningful song does.

It’s all for you, in my pursuit of happiness.

#248 Sisters

04 September 2016 // Sisters, Oregon

So glad we were able to spend one of our last weekends of the summer in Sisters.

Food plus hikes and mountains plus campfires with roasted s’mores and garlic. Yes.

#249 Labor Day Weekend

05 September 2016 // Sisters, Oregon

Lets talk about this past Labor Day Weekend. Was it the best one of my life? I can’t really remember a past Labor Day off the top of my head, so probably!

We spent it sitting on this patio for hours and sipping chardonnay with coconut custard pie. Also, visiting Bend, camping at Sisters, listening to good music, roasting garlic by campfire, discovering amazing poke at Safeway of all places, and hiking to lakes.

This was a memorable summer. Lots of good. Lots of hard stuff. Lots of learning. It’s been a while since I’ve learned this much about myself. I’m glad we got to give this season a proper sendoff.

#250 Liberty Update

06 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Time to update our friends on one major bucket list item of ours… funding the rescue of a North Korean refugee.

One of our marriage goals is to raise $3,000 to fund the rescue of a refugee from North Korea to get safely out of China and into resettlement in the U.S. or in South Korea. We wanted to do this within our first 1,000 days of being married and we decided to make the year of 2016 our phase one. Raising the first half, or $1,500.

I’m happy to announce that this phase is complete and successful… and it’s all thanks to a ton of our friends and family who have helped contribute to our donation page or attend our various fundraising events that we’ve done. Here are some of the ways we’ve gotten to the amount so far: Everybody who pitched in $15 at our murder mystery party last Halloween, all those who helped give when we ran our half-marathon in May, everyone who paid at our charitable carbo-load the night before, lots of birthday gift donations on my birthday, and setting aside small portions of our paychecks.

Hats off to you! Now it’s time for phase two.

We’re about to launch a new fundraising page for the year ahead and you can see that it’s basically the same goal as last year. $1,500, or the second half of the rescue! We’d love it if you could give us a nice little boost to kick things off, and we’ll be brainstorming some other fun fundraising things we could put together soon.

#251 Beautiful Ruins

07 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

“The smaller the space between your desire and what is right, the happier you will be.”

–Jess Walter

Man, I loved this book. It doesn’t end with a pretty bow and leaves room for life to be unexpected and difficult, but it does end with optimism, hope, and redemption, which I wish I could say was true of more books I read. Beautiful is in its title and the book lives up to the adjective.

The storyline jumps… a lot. From Italy to LA to the Pacific Northwest and London. From the sixties to World War 2 to a year or two ago or a script that exists outside of time. The characters are well defined and mostly likable. You wonder how a story can give so much of itself away so early, but still have more places to go as you read on. This book and Homegoing were my two favorite summer reads.

#252 Glenwood with GCF

08 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Maybe it’s the place, maybe it’s the stage of life, but when we first moved up to Eugene, Deanna and I had a much harder time finding community than we expected. There was a lot of meeting people, “we should hang out” exchanging, with nothing ever really happening.

A few years later, we really value the friends we’ve made here and the bonds we’ve formed. We are far more thankful for the community we’ve managed to grow into over time. There are times in life where you meet people right and left and times where that happens way more slowly. Either way, though, you’ll always need people.

#253 Chicken Inasal

09 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Chicken adobo isn’t the only Filipino chicken dish worth knowing. Chicken Inasal is the regional dish of Iloilo, and for a roast chicken recipe, good execution makes all the difference. The meal itself is kind of simple… chargrilled chicken marinated in a blend of spices. The marinade blend is what sets it all apart, though.

The end product should be a flavorful anatto and lemongrass chargrilled chicken. Neither of those two ingredients are very beginner friendly, but their flavors are amazing when used well.

After I plated this, I decided to amp up the chargrilled feature by throwing it under the broiler for a bit. It charred the skin and improved the texture, but the first version was the more photogenic dish.

#254 Hellgate

10 September 2016 // Grants Pass, Oregon

One of the most fun things I’ve done since living in Oregon was going on the Hellgate jetboat ride. I’ve heard so many people who’ve done it talk it up. Rightfully so.

The jet boat goes thirty-six miles down the Rogue River and into Hellgate Canyon. It’s a lovely and scenic ride with the wind in your face and waving hi to all the fishermen.

After reaching Hellgate Canyon, we spun around to a boat-in only restaurant where we got bottomless mimosas, and a pretty full breakfast. Because what better way to wrap up a nice boat ride than with brunch?

Then then Hellgates open. Unfortunately for anyone who overindulged at brunch, the jet boat ride back is a bit more of a thrill ride. The captain steers the boat over as many choppy waters and into as many spins as they can manage. Everyone gets wet. Especially the guy in the first row who was celebrating his 75th birthday.

So much fun.

#255 Inasal Tacos

11 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Sunday afternoons are for no-rules. Alright, there’s one rule. Nothing that feels like work, and just spend time with people or doing inspiring things that birth new ideas and energy.

Today’s inspiration came in the form of Emiril’s Amazon show and looking through the pictures and words in what might be my new favorite cookbook. Oh and a nice can of passionfruit juice.

Feeling pretty inspired after that, I put together my leftover chicken inasal with some spicy papaya salad to make yet another Filipino style taco.

#256 Summerbier

12 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

With summer coming to a close a little too fast, I went to go buy up some of my favorite limited release summer beers before they went away and became impossible to find. Here are my top three from this year, all available in cans.

Oakshire Cucumber Belgian Ale – Not so much of a sour that it turns into a pickle beer, but a perfect mix of everything that’s in its name. It’s a summer afternoon beer, and I prefer not to have it with food, since it’s got an interesting taste of its own.

Anchor Brewing Meyer Lemon Lager – Much like the Cucumber Belgian, this is also a beer that hits the spot after a long day. It’s a mellow lager, which means it can kind of act as an afternoon session. The amount of lemon is just right.

Mazama Brewing Mosaic IPA – Hey, something from Corvalis that I like! And an IPA that I like! This is all kinds of unlikely. The hops that go into this beer are actually pretty flavorful and not bitterly repugnant. This isn’t an exclusive summer release, per se, but that’s when I think it goes best.

#257 Candied Jalapeño Cornbread

13 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I seem to have a little knack for cornbread. I never made it prior to this year, but I’ve gotten some pretty happy feedback each time.

If that’s the case, I thought I should step my game up with candied jalapeño cornbread. Jalapeños plus sugar plus patience.

It was a success! And Deanna made some chili so it was a double win.

#258 Garden City

14 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

“We need to learn to embrace our potential and our limitations. Because both of them are signposts, pointing us forward into God’s calling on our life.”

–John Mark Comer

This was a good book to read as I look to re-enter the job market. Job hunting, to be honest, is one of my least favorite things to do.

Garden City offers a broader perspective on the role of work, the role of rest, and the bigger idea of working towards the reinvention of the world. I appreciated so much of this outlook on how as different as one person’s responsibilities might look from another person’s, all are part of the world being restored.

What I appreciated was how this book affirms how all jobs can be potentially significant when it comes to this task. It isn’t just the humanitarian, the political leader, or the child surgeon who gets the privilege of being part of changing the world, but really, almost all jobs and roles play a necessary role.

I’m also challenged by some of this book because I definitely have jack-of-all-trades tendencies, and Garden City explains very well why it’s important to do something well and to be dedicated to it. I’m definitely wired to be an experiencer, but deep down I agree it’s important to hone a skill to develop.

#259 Trivial

15 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Another pretty good trivia night in the bags.

I’m calling shenanigans on the trivia master’s use of Wikipedia for info, though.

#260 That Kinda Day

16 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I know that based on my social media posts, one could easily believe I live a problem free life, driving fancy sports cars and sharing mimosas with my famous rapper friends without a worry or care. It’s a good life, no doubt, but here’s a humble reminder that it isn’t all gold flakes and tiramisu.

I spent most of today trying to put out a fire, helping a client get his urgent email back up and running after some web work got a little out of hand. I was in the office all day until I needed to go pick Deanna up from work and it felt like one thing after another. Unfortunately, this also meant Beignet had to wait on the patio for me to get home for an unusually long time. I took her to the dog park and when I got back I was ready to do absolutely nothing.

It was a long day with lots of surprises I wouldn’t have wanted, but somebody wise once said that once you realize the sets of problems other people face you would gladly accept your own. I think it might’ve been Lil’ Wayne. Sorry I couldn’t take your calls today, pal.

#261 Thor’s Well

17 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

This summer went by fast and slow. I saw some really difficult moments within my family but fell in Love with simple weekends with Deanna more and more. I seemed to go somewhere every weekend and yet I felt like I stayed home the entire year. This was the summer that contradicted itself entirely.

It’s over now, and it’ll take a while to get my head around everything that happened in the past few months. I do know that I’ve learned quite a bit about myself. These things will help me make better choices in the upcoming year when life gets a total makeover and when I’ll probably have to make more than one tough decision.

1 – I learned that I place an extremely high value on experiences. It’s really hard for me to be just satisfied with dissecting an idea with textbooks and theories, I need to actually try stuff out and do things. That means I have to find out what endeavors are right for me by trying out a variety of things and discovering what doesn’t work. Knowing that helps me be more patient with myself when it comes to figuring out what I want to do and more gracious with myself when things don’t go right.

2 – Related to that, I have an unusually high amount of energy for doing things and for variety. Doing the same thing all the time sounds like a death trap to me, and it takes zero effort for me to start planning my next idea. It’s been really important for me to learn this so I can be careful not to wear out other people around me, since few people are built with a similar energy. Knowing this has helped me be more compassionate to those closest to me, and has made me conscious that I need outlets for that energy.

3 – I thrive when I’m connected to a cause, when I can use my energy to get other people fired up for something that I sincerely believe matters. Times in my life where I’ve done really well have been when I’ve had a cause pretty centrally positioned in my life– North Korea, kids in South Africa, working at an autism center. I’ve put an incredible amount of effort this decade towards trying to find a role that fits me well that allows me to pour that energy into. That project still isn’t complete, but learning this has helped.

#262 The Fix Up

18 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I’ve come to love cutting back on the things I own. Taking old clothes to be donated. Giving old books away to friends or selling them at Powell’s. I swear to you I didn’t just find out I’m dying. It’s just better in so many ways to own just enough… not more and not less.

I’m sure I’ll always have a few things I’ll accumulate quickly. The bookshelves will replenish themselves soon and it’s hard to say no to a useful kitchen gadget. I’ve spent most of my adulthood so far pretty low-budget, so I turned into an excellent scavenger. Hopefully I can keep up these new habits though for the benefit of other scavengers.

I got to spend a good amount of time today tidying up and I’m quite pleased with the look of our living room.

I don’t know when this change happened but I’ve come to love the look of my space when it’s all cleaned up and neat. Growing up, I was kind of a messy kid. Now, having a house with everything squared away feels weirdly energizing.

#263 Last Week Off

19 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I have this week off, more or less. Some errands and odd jobs and freelance projects to tinker with, but mostly a week off.

Stopping myself from doing too much work this week. I can do this so easily when I start to get spare time. I like to take on a bunch of projects, and sometimes having nothing to do for a week gives my brain too much space to start taking on even more projects.

My goal right now is to not let that happen. Weeks like this don’t come by very often.

#264 GCF Welcome

20 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Spent some time welcoming new grad students onto campus. Here’s some of the things this week making me happy.

I’m loving the show Galavant. I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard at a TV show in a long time.

I love Rover. The Airbnb of pet sitting. We needed to find someone for Beignet this weekend while we’re in Austin. I hope to get myself listed there as a dog walker soon enough!

I loved watching the Marlins play for the first time on Monday since Jose Fernandez’s death. By now a bunch of people have seen headlines and replays of Dee Gordon hitting a home run on the first at bat any one of his teammates took after the tragedy, but watching it in real time was unbelievable. By far the most emotional oomph and heart I’ve ever seen out of a game, personally, and I’m glad I gave this a watch on Monday night. We all could do with some reminders of how human we are.

#265 Jeremy Visits Eugene

21 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

A visit from Jeremy wouldn’t be complete without taking him to get his shots.

#266 Andrew Pham

22 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Heads up, Eugene! If any of you are looking for a piano teacher or if you need somebody to play for you or accompany you at some event, Andrew Pham is your guy!

He and I got to take some headshots together to update his site and they are coming together.

#267 A Tale For The Time Being

23 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

“Life is fleeting. Don’t waste a single moment of your precious life. Wake up now! And now! And now!”

–Ruth Ozeki

This book. I’ve been mesmerized by it since reading it. I’m completely fascinated by the amount of invention in the idea of this book and the amount of vividness in the way it was executed.

Ruth Ozeki essentially wrote herself as a character, interacting with another character she invented. Oftentimes, this book hardly feels like a work or fiction and you genuinely feel like you’re with Ruth, reading the discovered diary of Naoko in Japan. It feels like all this is happening just off of Vancouver Island in real time, as you read, which is quite a feat. There are more magical elements like disappearing pages, alternate futures, ghosts and superpowers, and yet it still feels realer than some biographies I’ve read.

The character voices in this book were so vivid and likeable. There are some horrific moments, but also coming to terms. This book straddles between timelines, fiction and nonfiction, magical realism and naturalism, darkness and light so quickly. Overcoming duality seems to be at the center of these stories and they accomplish their goal. There are some heavy themes in here, but if you like fiction that provokes some thought, I can’t recommend this enough.

#268 Oregon Ducks

24 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I’ve had the perk of getting Deanna and I into games for fifteen bucks the past couple years, but this will be our last season to take advantage of that.

Unfortunately our five game sample size gives us a losing record.

W vs. Colorado, 2014
W vs. Georgia State, 2015
L vs. Utah, 2015
L vs. Washington State, 2015
L vs. Colorado, 2016

Always leave things better than you found them. I love this idea. Sadly this won’t be the case with Ducks football. We came in during their best season ever.

Anytime Marcus Mariota wants to take a gap year from the NFL for grad school is fine by me.

#269 Joy Worship

25 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Over two years ago, Deanna started telling me that she wanted to get involved with a worship music team. She’d never really done it before, except for a little stint with a college gospel choir. She just felt real strongly that it was something she was being pulled towards. When she told me this we just moved to Eugene and hadn’t even found a church up here yet.

On Sunday she supplied our church’s music team with some female vocals. It was basically Sister Act.

Sometimes, you know that you’re called to do something but then you have to wait a while. Don’t rush, don’t quit. Just stay ready

#270 Grad School: Last Round

26 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Today, I started my very last quarter of grad school. Ever feel restless with your current life? I do.

I wish I could say that I was a little more excited for the term. To be honest, though, I’m feeling pretty ready to be finished with school and ready to be working full time.

I look forward to have a job that involves helping people more directly- not to say you can’t through academics, but that’s so not the way I’m built. Lately, I’ve felt a bit like a bench warmer when hearing people describe their jobs- especially ones where they get to work directly with people. Even when I hear about their really stressful situations, I remember how restless I get with theories and theses and I get a pretty bad case of put-me-in-coach!

At the end of summer, I came super close to ending early to take a job I would have loved and given my all. And it didn’t quite work out, so now I’ve got an anticlimactic feeling going into the term. But I know the reminder I need.

The way to get to where you wanna be starts with giving the present your very best.

I have ten weeks to do as good of a job with my current work as I can possibly do. And even if it’s not an apparent high stakes situation, I’ll have students to help learn about the world… and who knows what any of them might do with that knowledge. These ten weeks are ones I’ll never get back once they’re finished, so I’d better make them count.

Contentment can be a challenge for me, but it’s important to learn. But if I can learn some things about it over the next ten weeks, then it’ll be time unwasted.

#271 Beef Tenderloin with Garlic Horseradish

27 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

This week’s challenge dinner was a little bit labor intensive. Prep took a bit longer than usual. I sacrificed a pepper grinder in the process. And it was all worth it.

These two items paired together beautifully. I don’t know which component I liked better, the tenderloin or the garlic horseradish. Considering that one’s a meat and the other’s a sauce, I guess that says a lot about how well slow roasted garlic and horseradish meld… not that this is any surprise to me. Those are two of my favorite tastes.

I didn’t really nail this dish. I slightly overcooked the tenderloin and reducing the cream for the sauce got really messy. But it was still so satisfying in spite of all its flaws, meaning it’ll be really worthwhile to gain some mastery of it.

#272 Short Haired Dee

28 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Deanna bet on the Ducks this weekend and had to cut her hair all off.

Kidding.

She did cut off about a foot though to donate. Stylish and charitable!

Deanna now looks the way she did when we started dating, and that’s the circle of life pretty much.

#273 Texas Sized Pregame

29 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Leave the dog at the sitter– check.

Pack up more books than you have days on this trip– check.

Phils cap to take care of morning hair– check.

Coffee, coffee, coffee– check.

Just had a fully loaded Thursday and still found some time to pack up the Osprey.

Onwards to Texas, amigos. Got a 2 AM start to the day’s journey!

#274 Marble Falls

30 September 2016 // Marble Falls, Texas

“That scene still haunts me. The explosion and then five minutes. If only I… If only I… and then the capsule hits the water, it’s all over. Then you realize it’s all the same– five minutes, five days, 50 years. It’s all the same, for it’s over before we realize…. It may be the last time… stop, appreciate the blessings you have. ‘If only I could’- you still can, you’ve got today.”

–Rabbi Berger

The New York Times ran a really interesting piece on Rabbi Kenneth Berger this week. The Rabbi gave a Yom Kippur sermon the year of the Challenger Explosion that contained the above quote, reflecting what it would be like to stare at death from five minutes away. Only a few years later, in 1989, the Rabbi and his wife experienced exactly what he preached about, being killed in a plane crash over the Midwest.

Time is a crazy thing. This year I’ve had to say goodbye to two family members who’ve lived very long and full lives, and yet they felt too short. I’ve had to wait and countdown the weeks until grad school is finished, and that feels like forever. And all while this is going on, I’ve got no idea how much time I’ve got left.

Something about life’s brevity and uncertainty gives it so much value, and it gives today so much value. There are nights where it’s tempting to want to go from one errand to the next, connecting the dots into the next day. You’ve only got so much time to do that before you don’t get to anymore. Not with the people around you right now. Not in the place you’re in right now.

#275 tIhde the Knot

01 October 2016 // Marble Falls, Texas

Congrats to Meghan & Brendan! Deanna and I had such a blast celebrating in Marble Falls- that was definitely a unique wedding experience.

Between your wedding and ours, every time we’ve seen you two together it’s been a really, really fun day.

#276 Rad Mother Clucker

02 October 2016 // Austin, Texas

Doughnut lovers, I’m having cravings. What are your picks for best doughnut shops in the country? I’ll give you my top three.

Pip’s Original Doughnuts (Portland) – Going the route of keeping it simple but executing well. I’m a fan.

Gourdough’s (Austin) – Going the opposite direction with Big. Fat. Donuts. piled high with everything from fried chicken cuts to jalapeño jelly. I’m a fan as well and make it a point to come by whenever I’m in Austin.

Blue Star Doughnuts (Portland) – French brioche dough makes all of their doughnuts good to the breadcrumb. They won me over by tossing a vile of rum on to a caramel brulêe doughnut.

Yup, Portland takes two of three. Although I say this not having tried Daily Dozen in Seattle, which I’ve heard such good things about.

#277 Your Money Or Your Life

03 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

“Who you are is far greater than what you do for money, and your true work is far greater than your paid employment. Our focus on money and materialism may have robbed us of the pride we can and should feel in who we are as people and the many ways we contribute to the well being of others.”

-Vicki Robin

A bit of a break from what I usually read, a book about money use turns out to be far more practical, far less romantic, and just as purposeful as anything else I’ve read this year.

I didn’t follow all nine steps for financial independence to the tee. At least I haven’t yet, and while that must make Vicki Robin shake her head, I did start to do a few things. Measuring my income and expenditures in life energy, not just dollars. Figuring out what a “just right” level of income looks like for my family so I know when doing more work stops being worth it. Keeping track of all spending.

Perhaps I’ll take on the rest of the exercises when I have time. Or whenever I have graph paper handy, which is like never.

#278 Grad School: Nine Weeks

04 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Today I submitted my forms to graduate and be done with everything in nine weeks.

While my motivation going into this quarter is mostly propelled by the finish line I’m looking at, I’ve found a helpful way to think about work that provides an extra boost.

Imagine, for a second, what the best possible outcome could be of you showing up and doing your job well? A lot of people can easily drum up the worst case scenario, but what’s the best case scenario. My wife’s a therapist, so in her field it looks like saving a life, preventing suicide, and breaking up abusive cycles in a family. That’s a pretty serious contribution to the world. Do you accept a so-so job because of the healthy pay? Maybe the money you donate to charities, treat friends with, or support your family with are also in the life-saving business. Are you a barista? Maybe your pleasantness and warmth have actually made somebody’s day or turned it around… I can credit a phone rep for Virgin Airlines doing that for me once.

As a teacher of African studies, hmm… who knows? Maybe I strike the curiosity of a kid who one day discovers an efficient way to get antiretrovirals or malaria meds to the people who need them most.

Are these pretty out there possibilities? Yup. Unlikely? Probably. But here’s the crazy thing… if these things end up happening, a lot of times we’ll have had no idea. So we might as well act as if they just might, and by doing so, we’ll really increase our odds of doing meaningful work.

#279 Sunlit Halls

05 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Here’s a fun fact- some studies show that businesses that use totally made up words or names are often more successful than those that use descriptive, already existing words. Airbnb? Much better than ShareYourHouse. Instagram? Beats out Mobile PicShare. Ghostbusters? Better than its Chinese translation, Super Power Dare Die Team.

Here’s the part of that I find interesting… there’s a good part of us that can so easily be convinced we’re looking at something new just by the way it’s presented. Both traditional media and social media have gotten really, really skilled at that. The way to keep you glued is to run up storylines that seem like they’ve never happened before.

Corrupt politicians? That’s actually about as old of a news story as we have. Leaders with dictatorial tendencies? They go pretty far back throughout history. People unable to live peacefully with each other because of race, gender, or a bunch of other qualities? Yeah, unfortunately, that dynamic is much older than we are.

What to make of this? I’m all for staying informed, but also remember, there’s nothing really new under the sun and there’s a good and bad side to that. Unfortunately, progress happens very, very slowly, and many of the world’s big issues will probably outlive us. But the good news is that the world is crazy resilient. There’s still a lot of good that persists along with the bad.

At the end of the day, don’t just respond to the big bold headlines. Listen to what your life has taught you, to the lessons learned from the dirt underneath your fingernails. Don’t let panic take control of your creativity, it was meant to add good into the world, starting with what’s in front of you.

#280 13th to Campus

06 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

There are so many things in life that don’t work out, even though they made total sense on paper. I’ve seen couples break up that seemed like a great fit to me. I’ve had friends not get jobs that they seemed made for. I’ve known people who have started projects that for some reason never got the attention they were worthy of.

What’s the deal? I wish I knew. Unfortunately life is full of these little injustices that don’t seem to have a good explanation.

It’s good to know that this happens, and it happens quite a bit. It’s good to be prepared for this. Hard work is indispensable, but sometimes, it’s not enough. You can make all necessary efforts, all the right choices, and it still doesn’t work out.

It’s probably a healthy thing for everyone to experience this at least once in their lifetime. So many people in rough situations are there through no fault of their own. It’s important to have empathy for that. Not blame, and not a rescuer mentality. Just a deep sense of understanding and compassion.

#281 Chicken Katsu

07 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Katsuuuuuuu!

Chicken katsu is pretty much my go to dish at any Hawaiian restaurant. I’ll venture into other dishes but I always come back home. My lightly fried, breaded, crispy home.

I made some the other night and that was surprisingly simple and easy- with a big lightly fried, breaded, crispy payoff.

#282 Our Guests

08 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Hosting visitors is one of mine and Deanna’s favorite things to do.

Over the weekend we got to have Bre and Raquel and Jesse over for soul food, Ticket to Ride, and more food. Loved it.

We’ve now passed the amount of out-of-town friends we hoped to be able to host in Eugene for our marriage goals, but we have no plans of stopping! We love having people over.

#283 Deanna’s 27

09 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Happy, happy birthday to my sweet and beautiful Deanna! It’s been a good day of church, eating, friends, and hygge.

Life with you is so sweet, simple, fun, and I couldn’t be more thankful for it. I love getting to spend every day with you, taking Beignet out on little weekend adventures, watching our shows, trying to squeeze out every last minute of conversation before we go to sleep, cherishing the friendships we’ve managed to build around town, and dreaming of all kinds of things we hope to do together.

It’s a great life and I love that I get to share it with you.

#284 Current

10 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Wind and rain have this river feeling pretty good about itself.

Here are a few things making me happy this week.

So first, there was the bit of good news we got last week that I mentioned in my last post.

I’m also really loving Johnnyswim’s Georgica Pond album. So much soul and so many songs off the new album sounded great live.

And before the show, I finally got to eat at Tasty and Sons, which was on my places to eat in Portland list for a good while. Get the Asian Bloody Mary.

#285 Lasagna

11 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Lasagna is a birthday tradition in Deanna’s family, and that’s a tradition that I wouldn’t wanna mess with.

I didn’t get to make her some on her actual birthday but that’s cause we kept eating all day. So, Tuesday night, I got busy.

Lasagna is a tricky dish once you’ve been to Bologna. You realize how different the American interpretation of it is, but figuring out how they get their ragú that savory and creamy is a puzzle in and of itself.

My go to methods? A slow cooker. Add some milk. And white wine to break everything down. Sometimes a red wine gets too fruity. Toss in a bit of pancetta fat. And grate or process the veggies. That way you get a smoother filling.

Oh and homemade noodles. Those are a must.

#286 Grad School: Eight Weeks

12 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Know what’s a really, really good feeling? It’s when you don’t know exactly why something happened or didn’t happen to you but still feel really, really at peace with it.

I got hit by that while driving through Texas Hill Country a week or so ago. Suddenly convinced that the end of this year would make for a very important time for me to be learning things.

Last summer, I came pretty close to getting a job that looked like such a right fit on paper. I would’ve loved the work I’d be doing. I would’ve accepted without hesitation.

I realize now that if I did that, there would be no way I’d be able to tie up all the loose ends of my Masters programs like I thought. There’s a bit too much left to do, and I would’ve likely had to pay to do that too if I wasn’t teaching at the same time. I also did some math and figured out the “just right” amount of income for Deanna and I. This would’ve been a bit too far below, and sometimes I tend to underrate income for more idealistic trade offs.

Some stretches of life can feel so slow, with a purpose that’s hazier than mid October mornings. Surrendering what you don’t have control over frees you to unleash your best stuff.

#287 UO East Campus

13 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

With the end of grad school approaching, I often think of all the reasons why I’m looking forward to being done- and there are plenty. Being more financially able to support a family is a big one. So is the urge to contribute towards helping other people.

For the sake of getting the most out of the remaining weeks, though, here are a few things I know I’ll miss once it’s all done.

I’ll miss having so much control over my schedule. If I need to run an errand in the middle of the day, or run home to take care of something, I can do that really easily. It’s rare to find a job with as many moveable parts as mine right now.

I’ll miss the way I’ve acquired a deep and unexpected knowledge on so many random things on the way to getting degrees. World Heritage Sites in Mali. The Public Budgeting process in Oregon versus California. Andrew Carnegie’s writings. One day, when I’m on Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, at least a couple of my life flashbacks will have to be to grad school.

I’ll miss the student ticket rates for Ducks games… granted the Ducks aren’t making me miss that so much right now, but one day I will.

#288 Family Selfy

14 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Not gonna name any names, but one member of this family makes taking selfies a lot more difficult.

We’re thrilled, though!

Deanna went to see a doctor for a checkup. When she got really sick last February, her breathing scores dropped from a typical range in the mid-high 70s down to 22. We had a doctor tell us that a lot of people don’t get back to their old numbers after a drop that drastic.

Well since then, I knew she was doing better since we’ve visited lots of places, snorkeled in Hawaii, and ran a half marathon. But how much better?

When she went to get tested at her doctors, I walked Beignet around while praying for a good number. We got it… 80! This sort of comeback is really, really rare.

I’m a believer in never taking what you have for granted, in realizing there are things so much bigger than the usual things we freak out about on a daily basis, and in God working an old school miracle every now and again.

#289 Johnnyswim in PDX

15 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Deanna and I absolutely love Johnnyswim. We got engaged to our friends playing a cover of Paris in June and left our wedding reception to the tune of Diamonds.

We were absolutely not going to miss our shot to see them play in Portland.

Man this was an amazing show. So much charisma and stage chemistry- I’m loving the sound of the new album already.

#290 Rains Come

16 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Ah the rain has returned in full force after taking a little summer break. My opinion will probably change when February rolls around but right now I love this so much.

Also glad we were able to make it to and from Portland twice while having to basically drive through a lake with all the flooding. On Friday night we ended up backing up on a one way road just to get out from all the water.

#291 Street Life Under a Roof

17 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

“For as with Point Place, it is possible for youth to come together to create culturally expressive forms of social life not only for the privileged few, but for anyone who is looking for shelter and, along with it a sense of belonging under a shared roof.”

-Emily Margaretten

Frequently asked question… do books that I have to read for work or school count towards my personal reading goals? I say that they do if I like the book enough.

This was an assigned book for the class I’m teaching, and I’ll get to do two lectures on South Africa and street life next week which should be fun. Reading this ethnography of a researcher who lived in a youth shelter totally took me back to Jozi, even though it’s set in Durban.

#292 City Human Rights Commission

18 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Last night, I got to attend our local human rights commission meeting. I didn’t even know we had one but here’s what I saw.

A representative from the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs shared a nasty courtroom experience directed at her while trying to speak on behalf of land belonging to her tribe. Everybody listened empathically.

A member of the ACLU talked about methods of police surveillance that may raise some privacy concerns and a rep from the police department acknowledged the concerns and mentioned some potential benefits of the technology in stopping child predators or kidnappings.

I know a lot of people are so over political discourse, and I get why. But I was also encouraged by what I saw. Local governance offers so many opportunities for regular people to be a part of the process that not many people take. And in a local setting, you can oftentimes have a huge influence.

When you get tired of being a political spectator, maybe try participating every now and then.

#293 Grad School: Seven Weeks

19 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

On paper, this was supposed to be a really challenging Fall for me. I had to request special permission from the University to take twenty credits (twelve is my normal) all while keeping up my freelance projects, my job hunt, and several weekends of travel for family reasons. Plus it’s also the time of year when the sun disappears and everything drops fifty degrees and it’s way harder to feel motivated for anything.

The funny thing is that we’re close to halfway through this quarter and I am loving it. So far it’s all gone by smoothly and I’m surprised often at how efficiently I’ve been able to get things done.

Here are a few things that have been real helpful this term.

Going one day at a time. It’s easy to rush it when you’re close to the finish line, but just making sure each day’s challenges are given appropriate attention.

Before most items on my to do list I ask myself who do I really have a chance to serve with this task. The answer isn’t always obvious but it makes otherwise unmotivating tasks much more fulfilling.

So far I haven’t worked a Sunday, I’ve mostly been able to slow down my Saturdays, and often finish everything by 5 or 6 pm. All that time to enjoy life and not just work through it has finally become a good habit after years of working on it.

#294 College Hill

20 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

This summer, I came really, really close to getting what I thought could have been my dream job. I would’ve worked as a director with a really cool organization doing international work, it would’ve been work I’d enjoy doing every day, and it would’ve been in a city where I used to live that I miss a lot.

Part of me was surprised I didn’t get it because it seemed like such a great fit on paper, but another part of me just had a feeling that it wouldn’t work out. And while there was a bit of disappointment, there have been so many times this past fall where I’m glad it didn’t go through. If I got it, Deanna and I would be back living in California right now, and almost on a daily basis, I’ve been thinking, I’m glad I’m still here.

So in honor of understanding and appreciating things better in retrospect, here are a few reasons why I’m glad I’m still here.

Fall in the PNW is gorgeous. The first weather cycle, with the unending rain and grey skies can be a bit overwhelming. The next time around? I’ve fallen in love with it. Grey skies, bright orange leaves, and hygge weather… I’ve been liking this so much. I’ve also grown to appreciate having different seasons, and I’m thankful for this one.

Moving a couple weeks ago would’ve been a huge hassle, logistically. Not just with getting all our stuff and dog to California. We would’ve had to find a place to live. I would’ve had to figure out how to finish grad school remotely- which I now realize wouldn’t be easy at all while working full time. And there are some financial reasons too.

Ultimately, we really aren’t ready to leave where we are right now. Maybe we will be. Maybe soon. But I think we needed this last round to take it all in and to enjoy this stuff.

#295 One In N Out

21 October 2016 // Medford, Oregon

Living in a state with one In N Out > Living in a stat with zero In N Out.

Also, order #32’s number was just called and a family of six stood up and started clapping. Heartwarming moment of the day. There truly is good in thew world.

#296 Congrats Justin & CC!

22 October 2016 // San Francisco, California

This weekend was about as good as it gets.

Deanna and I went down to San Francisco to help our friend Justin propose to his now fiancé, Caytlin. There were tears and corgis and food trucks and beaches involved, and we got to see a bunch of our good friends again.

Congrats Justin and Caytlin- we are so, so happy for you two and we’re looking forward to you two being married!

#297 Friend Brunch

23 October 2016 // Sacramento, California

I hang out with a good looking bunch.

And we eat brunch.

#298 Grad School: Six Weeks

24 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

It’s crazy to think about how close life is to radically changing all over again. I’m both looking forward to it and ready for things in my life to last a little longer.

When I started grad school, I had a whole lot of energy to get things off the ground. I wanted to launch projects, new organizations, groups of people and have them all spring into action. I was ready to hit the ground running. The past few years before that had been so dynamic and full of big changes it seemed like there was only one direction to go.

It turns out that most of the things I attempted to start didn’t work out. There were a lot of false starts and midway through it started to feel like I’d been spending my year doing nothing. Life went from this dynamic journey to being surprisingly still.

I had a friend talk to me about how sometimes we hit these seasons in life where God just wants us to chill for a bit, without much going on. That gets really challenging for my personality and my inclination to want to go everywhere and do everything. But these stretches, slow and frustrating as they might be can be really important and underrated.

Some recipes have steps where dough needs to rise for hours, or flavors need to meld for a day, just so it can come out right. Some pieces of pottery need to chill for a week so they don’t shatter when used. Some songs need to rest after a big note before going on to the next movement so the listener can take it all in.

I don’t think God’s one to waste time. And when we can trust that there’s a point to these.

#299 Boeuf Borgignon

25 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Now that we’ve hit that fall-winter part of my cooking challenge, I’ve been having lots of fun with these heavier, heartier meals- this week’s being no exception.

I gave making bouef borgignon a shot, or as Julia Child calls it, bouef b£•∞¶£on. Speaking of Julia, I essentially used her recipe, but without a dutch oven, I had to adapt and improvise to work with our slow cooker.

I got to come home to a great meal and a great smelling house. Not much I would’ve changed about how it turned out, except that I wish I made even more.

#300 The Birth of Korean Cool

26 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

“So how does Korea manage the work ethic and maniacal drive to be number one? The underlying national psychology that motivates the country is not a salutary one. I remain convinced that ‘han’, that culturally specific, millennia-old rage against fate, is a huge motivating force in Koreans’ stamina and persistence.”

-Euny Hong

This was a fun little read about why Koreans are so darn cool. And it was very clearly written in late 2012 when Psy was at optimum Gangnam style.

Actually I learned quite a bit about how the ROK government has invested in its own entertainment industry in such a methodical way to get Halyu to take over the world.

#301 Week of Lectures

27 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Throwing back to my days as a substitute teacher by being a guest lecturer.

It’s so much easier when you have the chance to lecture about something that you could talk about forever and ever. In this case, street life in South Africa, concepts of masculinity, ghost stories, and township life. And a whole bunch of personal anecdotes from my own experiences.

#302 Great Fall

28 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Duuuuude the days have been stunning lately.

A couple weeks ago in Portland, Johnnyswim shared the inspiration for their song Drunks. Apparently there’s this bar in Nashville where all the hardcore soccer fans go. And during a match, things can get pretty nasty. One side yelling up a storm at the other. But there are these Irish folk songs that kick in after the game, and once they start, everyone sings. No matter who you were cheering for a minute ago.

Living in the USA right now feels like the country needs an Irish drinking song. This isn’t the first time of wild contentiousness, nor will it be the last, but a good time out would do wonders.

I used to think having the right facts could solve a lot of our problems. But if I doubted it before, this year has confirmed that people will gravitate towards “facts” that confirm what they already think is true and find ways to dismiss anything else. The right facts won’t change the world.

There’s something about beauty, though, that can still stop people in a single moment. For a new parent holding a tiny life in a maternity ward, the election is so far on the back burner it’s just white noise. For someone in the middle of this year’s most gorgeous weekend, next week need not come.

Our hearts were made to worship, and wonder still gets us where information fails us. Small fragments of starlight that can spell out true north.

#303 Mazed

29 October 2016 // Junction City, Oregon

This weekend was a great one for corn mazes and mud.

#304 The Pint Pot

30 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Gray mornings call for a classic Irish Pub. Thank goodness for The Pint Pot. An Irish coffee and a full Irish breakfast are exactly in order.

Here are a couple other things making me pretty happy this week.

I discovered that Terrence Malick’s film To The Wonder was streaming for free on Prime, and I loved it even though it wasn’t the most accessible of movies. In typical Malick fashion, it was full of amazing visuals, cryptic layers of meaning hiding beneath simple-but-poetic dialogue, and Javier Bardem being a priest. The film itself was so beautifully shot, despite being set in mostly sterile, suburban environments… but I kinda think that was supposed to be the point.

And on the other end of the spectrum, there’s that YouTube video of a dog’s favorite Gumby chew toy being brought to life by it’s owner in a Gumby costume. I’ve lost track of the amount of times I’ve watched it, I love it so.

And then there’s freaking baseball. What a game.

#305 Chill Halloween

31 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Happy Halloween my friends. We had a laid back dinner with friends kinda night, but I had some good reads to help me keep the day all spooky and such.

Also, we had zero trick or treaters! What’s going on, modern day children? I even heard some kids trick or treat at the door right across from us, never to come by.

Now I’m stuck with the dangerous prospect of endless fun size candies around the house.

#306 Grad School: Five Weeks

01 November 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

During my undergraduate college days, I signed up for the most eccentric classes I could. Middle Eastern Cooking. Japanese Horror Movies. Leadership and Team Building. Thanks to that I got a bunch of pretty neat experiences and learned some fun things.

Grad school makes it harder to go off the beaten path, but not impossible, and during my two years going for a Masters’ I’ve still wound up studying and gaining some knowledge in some things I never would’ve expected.

When I started, I was surprised to find I’d have to learn another language. I speak about five to some degree, but because I haven’t learned many of them in a classroom setting, I don’t have them on my transcripts. So, on a whim, I signed up to learn Hindi/Urdu. I can’t say I speak very good Hindi, or much at all, but I learned a bit about how to read the script and can utter some really basic phrases.

I’ve also learned a ton about local governance, especially when it comes to public finance and budgets. That’s thanks to my nonprofit classes being taught closely alongside public management classes. If it sounds dry, it kind of is, but I actually feel like I understand local government and things like tax considerations way better. I can also empathize with different opinions way better, and that’s always a good thing.

Also, by teaching a course on Africa twice, I’ve gotten quite familiar with some of the topics we’ve covered. One of these includes life in Mali. As a country, it doesn’t get many visitors, and I don’t envision myself being able to make it there any time soon. Glad I could learn a little bit through the process of teaching.

#307 Cubs Win

02 November 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

So… that… just… happened. Not only did the Cubs break their 108 year old curse, but they also put on the most dramatic game I’ve seen. And I watch a lot of baseball.

I guess this means the apocalypse starts tomorrow, but that game was so much fun, it’ll have been worth it.

Deanna and I don’t have live TV so we went to go and watch at a nearby sports bar, and my what a great decision. I got to befriend several old-guy-pub-dwellers, one of whom called David Ross’ home run a second before it happened. (Not to be outdone, I called the camera panning to Bill Murray a second before that happened). The girls next to me had the best Jason Kipnis specific trash talk. And they’re right… he probably does smell like Axe body spray! We all came as strangers, and left as friends who all never got around to exchanging names.

The Phillies will always be my team, but like any good racism-hating, loveable-loser-lovin’ American, I wanted this year to be the Cubs’ year. (Especially since the Phils’ had a sliver of a percent chance of being any decent). Baseball will feel kinda weird without a mindblowingly win-deprived team, but I’m sure the Cubs fans don’t mind.

#308 Gorgonzola Ravioli

03 November 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Never has developing a recipe given me as much of a difficult time as this ravioli. What you’re looking at is my third attempt.

This item of my cooking challenge was scheduled for last week when all the ravioli burst while boiling and I settled for frying up an odd mix of squash and cheese and noodles. Then earlier today, the filling soaked through the noodle sheets making them too sticky to shape.

I had to restart a third time and was pretty late to an afternoon class, but finally, I got something I could be pleased with. And Deanna was really pleased and said it was one of her favorites from this year’s challenge.

Sometimes I can get pretty stubborn about working on something until it comes out right. But I did learn a valuable lesson: use flour liberally.

#309 Oakshire

04 November 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Let’s talk about something a little more pleasant for most people- beer!

I’m in a MBA class on startup planning (Random, I know. Long story.) Our project right now revolves around beer deliveries and we need to do a little market research.

I’m hoping to conduct some interviews so if you’re a beer consumer- I’d love to hit you up with a few questions! No need to be the biggest hop head, but if you are, great! Message or comment or something and I’ll get in touch.

Also, I’m pretty sure Oakshire is taking over as my favorite brewer in town. We’ve got a lot of good ones but their seasonal stuff gets so creative!

#310 McKenzie Beer Festival

05 November 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I had a chance to go to the McKenzie Craft Beer and Cider Festival. If you saw my post about my startup project… market research! And that meant I got to do a lot of tasting.

After a pretty fun night, here were my favorite three beers/ciders.

Old Craig Ale by Ordnance Brewing   This beer definitely had an old vintage- tobacco-and-leather sort of quality, but in a good way! (I guess those typically don’t sound like good beverage flavors) Lots of spices and brown sugar left this tasting a lot like winter candy.

Nut Crusher Peanut Butter Porter by Wild Ride Brewing – If you like the taste of roast peanuts or peanut butter, this would be a great beer. They come on STRONG. But in a good way. And the brewery rep gave me a little garnish of a Reese’s cup to go with it.

Doc Fields Banana Mango Cider – I was suspicious over this this cider, I thought it might be a little too much like a fermented Jamba Juice. Turns out it was a pretty good cider and I’d love another taste.

#311 Finnish Salmon Pie

06 November 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

One of my big dreams is to regularly have dinners where people from totally different backgrounds can get together. I want a big table, good conversations, and of course the food needs to be up for the occasion.

Here’s one thing I’ll have to bring to the table- a new puff pastry technique. Most recipes call for folding butter into the dough over and over. A freezer and cheese grater can end up saving so much time.

I put the new puff pastry to the test and looked to Finland for some inspiration. This pie was filled with chunks of cooked salmon, capers, onion, and sauce. It may be one of my favorites from this past year.

#312 Grad School: Four Weeks

07 November 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Another week in the bags and another step closer to the finish line. Just some paperwork and a couple assignments left to go. Then what? We’ll find out soon.

No surprise, this has been a terse week around campus. Some are quick to say that today’s student lives in a cocoon of hyper sensitivity- and at times I get why people would think that. But lots of students feel unsafe- and for good reason. We’ve had random people and even a professor (?!) around in blackface. Ugh! That’s really not okay.

I’m often impatient with the end of grad school but this week I’ll thankful for my role as a TA that has allowed me to speak and share some things I’ve seen and experienced that I find helpful in an unpredictable and tense world. And I love reminding anyone that a lot of times the best thing they can do is focus on what changes there are to be made right in front of them, and to give it everything.

#313 Election 2016

08 November 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I screwed up my mail-in ballot… I left every single chad hanging (and it was a bubble sheet)! So I swung by the community center to set things right.

If you ask me, a lot of these decisions felt pretty obvious to me. But not everyone else feels the same way, so that’s why we have elections.

Voting is important. It’s very important. It’s one of those things that you totally take for granted if you’ve never experienced what happens in places without free and fair elections. It’s also a privilege that was hard earned.

So yeah, hooray for voting. I’m glad I cast my ballot today. It’s a big decision!

That said, it’s also one of millions of decisions you’ll make that shape the world we live in.

All of the people who have influenced me the most didn’t do it with their voting record. Who is in need of care and attention today that you have a chance to help? Who needs a well timed word of encouragement? Which friend is fundraising for something noble that you should perhaps pay attention to? Some of those decisions will have a much bigger impact than anything you or I bubbled in today, and I think these things are worthy of at least as much deliberation and energy.

#314 It’s Quiet Uptown

09 November 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Perhaps the reason why the election results were so surprising to a lot of people was that we forgot how much of a bubble most of us live in. No matter what results you were hoping for, roughly half the country feels differently.

The type of setting we grow up in, the sort of people we’re around, and all that have a huge impact on what lens through which we see the world. That’s not to say I don’t believe there’s usually a better choice and a worse choice at the end of the day. But it’s another thing to turn my conviction into an assumption that the country falls neatly into two halves of good guys and bad guys.

See, some of the best people I’ve ever met voted for things and people that make absolutely no sense to me. People who taught me everything I know about generosity voted for things I think contribute to inequality. People who taught me how to respect other people voted for candidates with a reputation for crudeness. And if you know enough people, you’ll know someone that this applies to. If not? Well, then that bubble is probably in effect.

One of the best interactions I’ve seen on Facebook was just that. Dad voted red. Daughter voted blue. Daughter was sad, and Dad acknowledged that this was okay. They grew up seeing different things in different times in different places– it was simple, but beautiful.

You don’t have to agree with everything I believe in. I don’t agree with all of your opinions. I’ll probably disagree with a few of them strongly. But I won’t assume the worst of you. I won’t defriend you. We’ll still have a lot to learn from each other.

It’s eerily quiet outside my window. I’m in a young urban area in a very blue state, so of course there’s an atmosphere of disappointment. But it’s also a gorgeous, crisp sunny day in November… and we don’t get too many of those. Disappointing day? Beautiful day? Perhaps both? There’s more than one way to see things and blessed are the eyes that can find both.

#315 Chestnut Bisque

10 November 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Man, chestnuts are the worst! They taste great and can lend themselves to all sorts of recipes in a way that no other nut can. But they are an absolute pain to get out of their shells to work with. Almost at the end of my yearlong cooking challenge and I managed to score my first injury by scoring a fingertip.

Because of that, I will think long and hard about working with chestnuts in the future, but I will say that they made for a pretty unique bisque.

The flavor of this soup was spot on. Rich and creamy and earthy like a good nut-based soup should be. The texture wasn’t as excellent, with the results coming out a little chunkier than I would’ve liked. Still, it made for a good enough and hard earned winter meal.

#316 Anacortes Ferry

11 November 2016 // Anacortes, Washington

Seemed like a good weekend for some perspective on how meager human accomplishments look next to creation, so I hopped on a ferry headed for one place I’ve always wanted to go.

Orcas Island is just a little off the Puget Sound, accessible only by ferry or personal jet, and boasts all of the natural beauty you might expect from a northwestern island. It’s got a pretty tight community of island dwellers too.

Looking forward to getting cozy on this floating patch of dirt that whales seem to love. I feel like I’ll have a good understanding of why after this weekend.

#317 Orcas Island

12 November 2016 // Orcas Island, Washington

“And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should… with all its sham, drudgergy and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.”

–Max Ehrmann, Disiderata

There’s a lot of stuff to be upset about, and I recognize how legitimate those things are. But I think the sort of rebellion we need is a counterintuitive one. In a contentious, divided world, joy and peace are rebellious. Beauty is subversive when put up next to brutality. I think it’s a better time than ever to be anchored in a joy that can’t be taken, a community of infectious acceptance, and a stubborn memory of the people we were meant to be.

These are crazy days, my friends. But they’re still extremely beautiful ones. To paraphrase Calvin and Hobbes, if we got out to look at the stars more often, we wouldn’t argue about half the stuff that we get worked up over.

#318 Outlook Inn

13 November 2016 // Orcas Island, Washington

While spending the weekend at Orcas, we got in a night at this sweet little inn. It felt like we weren’t in the inn itself for very long but that’s cause we got some real good sleep that night we were there.

The room itself was only a small part of what I really liked about this place. They had a fenced lawn across the street with such an excellent view of the islands.

And their restaurant. Awesome French onion soup and blue marlin carpaccio. Best of all they have some shared tables where they’ll sit you down at a table alongside strangers, and you’ll be able to leave with new friends- or at least some memorable encounters. We enjoyed the company of a couple older seniors out on a date. They shared stories of his late wife and her ex-husband. At times sad but also moving to see two hopeful people not willing to throw in the towel just yet.

#319 The Holy or The Broken

24 November 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

“I say all the perfect and broken hallelujahs have an equal value. It’s a desire to affirm my faith in life, not in some formal religious way, but with enthusiasm, with emotion.”

–Leonard Cohen

Big thanks to my friend Hamaila for gifting me this book after hearing I was fascinated by Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History podcast episode on the rise of ‘Hallelujah.’ That song has a story unlike any other modern anthem. I don’t read much music writing, but Alan Light kept its exploration fascinating.

And speaking of unlikely works of art, Leonard Cohen was such an artistic anomaly. I love that a huge part of his story was how late into his career he was when he hit his stride. Sad that we lost him next week.

Oh and for the record, Hallelujah isn’t even my favorite Leonard song. Dance Me To The End Of Love will always hold that honor.

#320 Pancit Molo

25 November 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

When we went to the Philippines a couple years ago, there was one dish that Deanna especially fell in love with– pancit molo.

It’s a regional favorite where my family’s from, and it’s a pretty simple wonton soup in a pork or chicken broth with basic sauteed vegetables. And if you do it just right, it’s one amazing piece of Filipino comfort food.

I timed this particular item of my cooking challenge just right for the winter months. Not too shabby for my first time taking a stab at this dish and I know where to go from here for even better results.

#321 Grad School: Three Weeks

26 November 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

The thing I’m looking forward to the most about being done with my program isn’t the absence of school, it’ll be the opportunity to build something.

The ability to commit to something for a long time without my schedule changing itself every few months is something that’s eluded me the past few years. Now I’m looking forward to dinners that become traditions, becoming a part of things around whatever community we end up in, and forming some more bonds.

Now seems like a good and important time to be building community up and getting connected. I’m ready to dig in.

#322 Blood, Bones, and Butter

27 November 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

“It’s promising and seductive, that huge Italian family, sitting around the dinner table, surrounded by olive trees. But it’s not my family and I am not their family, and no amount of birthing sons, and cooking dinner and raking leaves or planting the gardens or paying for the plane tickets is going to change that. If I don’t come back in eleven months, I will not be missed, and no one will write me or call me to acknowledge my absence. Which is not an accusation, just a small truth about clan and bloodline.”

–Gabrielle Hamilton

After so many of my favorite food podcasts mentioned this book as one of their favorite books on the subject, I was convinced to give it a try.

This book isn’t just about food, but about a career in food, dining, and the paths life takes you down, sometimes without exactly intending to. I read a lot of books by people who were driven by a very concrete goal so it was refreshing to hear from someone who took a more common path- a mix of following passions, doing one thing until it leads somewhere else, and unlikely encounters.

Plus there are moments where she describes her grad school experience and it sounds so similar to my own. Started out as a perfect fit that was slowly outgrew, leading her to discovering other passions.

#323 Making Kahlua

28 November 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Weekend at home project- making some Kahlua.

Looks okay so far, so now we wait a few weeks for our results.

#324 Foodspotting No. 1 & 39 – Adobo & Lumpia

29 November 2016 // Springfield, Oregon

Holla at ya 🇵🇭. Food week continues with some more Foodspotting.

Adobo and lumpia were two of the easiest items in the Foodspotting Field Guide to find. Well, especially if you’re me. I wasn’t sure if making my own adobo earlier this year would count so I decided it wouldn’t so we’d have an excuse to visit Maynila for dinner.

#325 Tillamook Mac & Cheese

20 November 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

So this is the thing with mac and cheese- I’ve had some really fancy mac and cheese from so many different high end places, and yet it never quite lives up to the gooey, salty, creamy goodness of that instant boxed stuff I used to eat after school.

Let’s face it, I love any melts cheesy product, and sometimes the fake stuff is just better.

But I believe real cheese can still make for a good mac and cheese and so I went with packs of Tillamook being added to a bechamel like sauce to get it all creamy and such. Turned out pretty good, but that might also be because I added a whole head of garlic.

#326 Grad School: Two Weeks

21 November 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

So close to the end! And to make things even better, this week barely counts since I’ll be in California staring Tuesday night.

So that’s one thing making me happy. What else?

That Ducks win versus Utah was so, so satisfying. Nobody saw it coming, even after it already came. Our season has been a ship that has been long sunk, but getting the win against a pretty good Utah team was just perfect. Our loss to them last year, in my mind, was the start of dark days for Ducks fans.

Oh, and a couple of my good friends gave birth to their son tonight. Welcome to the world, Mathis! See you when I get back.

#327 Gateway to Cali

22 November 2016 // Medford, Oregon

Passing through the In N Out in Medford means one surefire thing… we’re going to (or coming from) Cali.

Thankful that this pit stop is right off the freeway.

#328 Road to Thanksgiving

23 November 2016 // Kettleman City, California

We can act like we didn’t spend most of the drive taking selfies with Beignet. Or we can own it.

Thankful this one is a road tripper.

#329 Thanksgiving 16

24 November 2016 // Bakersfield, California

Hope your day was as fun and tasty as ours.

Here’s to a much needed weekend of hanging out with family and not doing much else. The next two weeks are gonna be such a power sprint that some time off like this is exactly the right thing.

#330 Noriega’s

25 November 2016 // Bakersfield, California

There’s a first time for everything.

This is my first time eating at a restaurant with both a B safety rating and a James Beard award.


#331 California 99

26 November 2016 // Delhi, California

“The future is built with the present moment and how we take care of it. If you are fearful, the future will be fearful. If you are uncooperative, the future will be divisive. This is very important.

The future is not something that will come to us; the future is built by us, by how we speak and what we do in the present moment.

Community practice is crucial at this time. It’s crucial not to be alone in front of the computer, reading media. That makes the world dark for you. Find flesh. There are still wonderful things happening.”

–Phap Dung

#332 Passing Shasta

27 November 2016 // Lake Shasta, California

“Scratch the surface of any cynic, and you will find a wounded idealist underneath. Because of previous pain or disappointment, cynics make their conclusions about life before the questions have even been asked. This means that beyond just seeing what is wrong with the world, cynics lack the courage to do something about it. The dynamic beneath cynicism is a fear of accepting responsibility.”

–John Ortberg

Be responsible to your convictions. They won’t always win debates. They won’t always pay the bills. They won’t always prevail in times of conflict. But if they’re convictions worth keeping, make sure they don’t lose you. Hope is a conviction. Joy is a conviction. Don’t give them up.

#333 Shoe Dog

28 November 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

“I thought if that phrase, it’s just business. It’s never just business. It never will be. If it becomes just business, that will mean that business is very bad.”

–Phil Knight

Thanks to the UO business school, I got a signed copy of Shoe Dog. I was told to study up on it, so I took to reading and found I enjoyed this book a whole heck of a lot more than I expected to.

This book had a lot of heart, and that’s something I really wasn’t expecting. After all, Nike is pretty much your archetype of a mega-corporation and I didn’t know a whole lot about Phil Knight other than the fact that his name is all over Eugene.

Hearing the stories of their early years, testing out models on the UO track team, having to take on legal challenges from the US government and Japan, and figuring out how to build a team that works kept this on the side of being a good story.

In the end it’s a book about following a Crazy Idea- watch it reveal itself as a calling and pursuing it through disappointment and fatigue.

#334 Office Hours

29 November 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

This week has been utterly ridiculous- in the past 48 hours I’ve had to present the City of Albany with a proposed budget, pitch a startup business idea, and knock out a 15 page paper.

Thankfully, I get a weekend to turn things down a notch before one last week of this finish line sprint. My first true day out of grad school is gonna be such a napfest.

#335 Bolognese

30 November 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Important beliefs I have about bolognese:

• It should be creamy. Use milk.

• It seems intuitive to add red wine, but go with white.

• Grating your carrots makes for a better texture than dicing.

• A little bit of ground sausage and diced bacon goes a long way.

Seems like an oddly late point in the year to have bolognese be an item on my cooking challenge. I’ve already made lasagna with bolognese as part of the challenge, and I’ve made bolognese a lot in general this year. Oh well. It’s been my busiest stretch of grad school, so it doesn’t hurt to have something I can prep from muscle memory.

Past Years:

2015

2014:

2013:

2012:

2011:

2010:

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s