December

#335 Jabberwocky Ale

01 December 2015 // Eugene, Oregon

Talk about a test of will- coming back for one and a half more weeks of work in between a really fun Thanksgiving break and a really fun Christmas is such a tease. And if that weren’t such a motivation leech, dropping temperatures are.

Here’s to finding a night in the middle of it all that allows me to lean into the lethargy. Hard. Cozying up on the couch with Deanna to Jane the Virgin status.

Warm apartment. Cold beer. And a new discovery at that. Jaberwocky had a deeper, more coffee-like flavor than I expected, and I liked it a lot.

#336 Ethiopian Dinner

02 December 2015 // Eugene, Oregon

I can’t remember the last time I’ve had Ethiopian food… and whenever you can say that statement you know it’s been way too long.

Some of my students invited me to their African studies Freshman interest group, which was having an end of the year party catered by a local, upcoming Ethiopian catering service. It was back at the dorm conference room, which totally brought back flashbacks. It’s been fun teaching students at the start of their college years. It’s also occasionally tasty.

Ethiopian food is also incredibly filling, so I was pretty much set for the rest of the day after this meal. Here’s to sour Njera and wonderfully braised chicken.

#337 DIY Bibimbap

03 December 2015 // Eugene, Oregon

I love me some bibimbap. It also occurred to me really recently that it wouldn’t be that hard for me to make for myself, so I decided to give it a shot.

The Asian grocery up the road had most of the veggies I needed, including chopped spinach and mung bean sprouts. I also got enough sliced pork to fill out the bowls, although in retrospect I should’ve gone with beef. Making decent fluffy rice was the most important part, followed by frying an egg well.

I’d call this mission a successful and tasty one that brought some long overdue Korean food back to my palate. Here’s to more culinary covers.

#338 NW by Zadie Smith

04 December 2015 // Eugene, Oregon

“Not everyone wants this conventional little life you’re rowing your boat toward. I like my river of fire. And when it’s time for me to go I fully intend to roll off my one-person dinghy into the flames and be consumed. I’m not afraid.”

–NW, Zadie Smith

I really, really probably should’ve started with White Teeth as my introduction to Zadie Smith as an author. I could tell by reading through NW that she was truly a gifted author and brilliantly creative. She switched up the style of NW so ambitiously, which is what ultimately lost me and made it a difficult book to fully get immersed in.

Kind of a bummer, because I like the theme that the book danced around so much, the disappointment of lofty expectations for life and being thrown off by the speed at which it moves. I mean, that’s totally something I relate to. Unfortunately, the somewhat-gimmicky switches in style did enough to keep me distant and detached from its characters and events.

#339 Tillamook Salted Caramel Bar

05 December 2015 // Eugene, Oregon

The best days are the ones that don’t really require pants now, yeah?

One week of school, of grading, and taking exams sandwiched in between a great Thanksgiving in California and a great upcoming trip over Christmas break is such a tease. It’s been tough to stay motivated all the way through, so Deanna spent most of this day at home with Netflix and taking naps, leaving studying and such for another day.

The one exception we made to leave the house was when Deanna went off on her own to the grocery store to go fetch just enough ingredients for grilled cheese and tomato soup. She also got us a pleasant treat… Tillamook ice cream bars.

#340 MLS Champions, PTFC

06 December 2015 // Eugene, Oregon

Nuthin’ like a grey, laid back Sunday with some football and beer.

And by beer, of course, I mean bier. Some cranberry weissbier from Oakshire that was more like a very tart lambic than anything else. Super perfect for winter when you’d want to break up the darker spiced porters.

And by football of course, I mean futbol, more specifically the Timbers taking the MLS Cup! Went out to Oakshire for the game, and man, was that fun! Some sweet vengeance for Oregon against Columbus.

#341 The End of this Term

07 December 2015 // Eugene, Oregon

Hooray. Yes. I cant’s that enough. I am SO glad to put an end to this term.

After delivering my final presentation to our strategic planning class, our professor did what I wish more of them did… treated us out to pizza and beer at the basement of Pegasus for an evening hangout.

It felt like we were a Little League team that just won a big game. After putting an end to this quarter, the feeling is similar.

#342 A Perfect Day

08 December 2015 // Eugene, Oregon

Deanna’s been teaching me a lot about art therapy, especially since it’ll probably be used in my thesis research.

Here’s her depiction of her idea of a perfect day… doing yoga with yours truly.

#343 Cauliflower Ceviche

09 December 2015 // Eugene, Oregon

Had a gathering of church friends tonight, so I decided to try out a new recipe for the first time.

I love ceviche, but without much time to go out to the fish market to make sure I got a fresh cut, this vegan variation works just as well.

Switch out the fish for a head of cauliflower, and keep the rest the same. Tomatoes, a jalapeño, onions, cilantro, etc. Let the lime cure it all for a couple hours before throwing in the avocado. I do miss the fish in there, but the cauliflower works pretty well!

#344 Pani Puri

10 December 2015 // Eugene, Oregon

My Hindi/Urdu teacher introduced me to pani puri last spring. It’s a very interactive piece of street food that’s found all over South Asia.

The puri puffs are made from semolina flower… I cheated and got those pre-made, but I managed to make the rest from scratch. The “pani” (water) was mostly made from tamarind. The filling came from boiled potatoes, chopped onions, chickpeas, and leftover cilantro bits. That last part was more of my touch.

You typically punch a little hole in a puff to make it into a bowl, fill it up with the stuffing, and then pour in a bit of the water. It’s got a little bit of a sour flavor and some spice from the onions. Deanna liked it, which is my best metric of successs.

#345 Jordan’s Whiskey Bar

11 December 2015 // Creswell, Oregon

Had a GCF guys’ hang-out at Dan and Jordan’s place out in Creswell. We had a night full of homemade pizzas and learning different poker games.

Eventually, we also got to tap into Jordan’s whiskey collection.

Also, how cool is his home bar?

#346 The Christmas Errands

12 December 2015 // Eugene, Oregon

It’s our last weekend before leaving for all our Christmas travels, so I had to take advantage of the last weekend we had in town to get things done.

The first half of the day was spent tending to the car, getting oil changes, full tanks of gas, and replacing a busted headlight.

Then came Christmas shopping at the Fifth Street Market. It was hectic but I love the way the place looks when it’s decked out for Christmas.

#347 Rain and Christmas Lights

13 December 2015 // Eugene, Oregon

We spent the evening exploring some tucked away neighborhoods deep in Eugene. We hit the jackpot as far as decked out Christmas lights go, which looked especially good after a solid weekend of rain.

This after a day mostly spent inside napping and Netflixing.

Glad to get in a sweet and easy day just before we take off for a fast paced Christmas stretch.

#348 Book Club, Night One

14 December 2015 // Eugene, Oregon

Tonight was the first night of mine and Deanna’s book club. The four of us got together to chat over the first couple of chapters and share some chips and salsa.

Since it’s our first book club, we decided to go with a sure fire book we love- Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. It’s been a couple of years since the last time I re-read this book, and New years is a perfect time to do it.

We’ve never done this book club thing before, but we’ve wanted to for so long!

#349 S.C. Reunited

15 December 2015 // Columbia, South Carolina

Today was a long one that covered a LOT of ground. Eugene to Portland to Seattle to Atlanta to Charleston to Columbia, all within 17 hours! Weird how it’s possible to cover that much ground yet do so little physical activity.

But after all of that, I’ve made it! And I’m reunited with Ivy in charming South Carolina.

That accounts for half the crew. Meet you soon Deanna and J.B.!

#350 Five Points

16 December 2015 // Columbia, South Carolina

Despite its charming exterior, I didn’t go into the Blossom Shop. I did spend a few good hours, though, wandering around the Five Points area, in and out of all of it’s little consignments and mom and pop venues. I eventually found a lovely coffee shop and record store and set up camp for a little while. The “Vader” at Drip was a wonderful discovery– a cold glass of coke with a shot of espresso and a bit of vanilla, and I’m not even much of a soda fan.

It’s been an extremely comfortable low-seventies in South Carolina, and the sun above feels really, really good. It’s a nice day for walking around outside and it’s been a good long time since I’ve been able to say that. Few things are as great as a perfectly timed change of scenery.

I’ve been getting such a good, comfortable, welcoming feeling from South Carolina, it’s great. Even the casual interactions with people here have all been really pleasant. For a long time, I suspected this would be a state I really enjoyed. I think I’m right… I’m in a really good mood just being here.

#351 Catawba Falls

17 December 2015 // Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina

My goodness, I knew North Carolina would be good to an outdoor lover but I underestimated just how good it would be. I decided to split my one day between Asheville and the Pisgah National Forest and found a sweet waterfall to hike to.

Unfortunately Google Maps let me down for the first time ever yesterday, trying to get me there via a private road I couldn’t drive down. I found another way but it cost me an hour.

While on my hike, I realized I needed to book it if I wanted to see the falls and make it back out of the woods with the remaining daylight. I felt confident enough to start sprinting towards the falls. I caught a bit of its lower end before I had to go, taking off for a very muddy trail run and an unintended river forging.

This did not go to plan and I loved it. I hope to make it back to visit the falls properly someday. I can only imagine.

#352 Seeing Lei

18 December 2015 // Atlanta, Georgia

The last time I saw Lei was at the Phoenix Airport. He had just filmed our wedding and Deanna and I were headed to the Dominican Republic for our honeymoon and we had no idea we had the same connecting flight. Once again we had the chance to cross paths, without too much advanced planning… this time in Atlanta.

When we talked during our hour long layover that last time, he was telling us how motivated he was to pursue more passion projects and to get to the next level with his pursuit of a career in film.

Then last night, as he transferred over some remaining footage from the wedding, he got me caught up on all he’d been up to lately… as a member of a media team, and writing and putting together his own short film projects. He’s also been able to take part in recording and producing some really cool scenes for other clients, and it made me super excited to see how much he followed through on that spark of motivation back in June.

Keep doing what you’re doing, Lei. God knows the stories you’ll have for me the next time we cross paths, in whatever random city.

#353 Tennessee Whiskey Tasting

19 December 2015 // Cascade Falls, Tennessee

Going whiskey tasting was at the top of my list for things to do while we were in Tennessee. I did a bit of searching and found some in the Cascades just a bit north of Chattanooga.

Turned out to be a really fun tour. The guides at George Dickel taught us so much about the distilling process.

Best of all, we got in a tasting of four different whiskey flights, and I picked up a bottle to bring back to Oregon.

#354 BBQ With The Bluetts

20 December 2015 // Plano, Texas

Considering I’ve been sitting in cars for hours, eating southern cooking, and getting fed plenty by famiy, I’m coming back home very, very full. And not just of biscuits and barbecue but the other kind of full too, where I’m really happy and thankful for the people I have in my life.

I got to see Derek and Holly just outside of Dallas for the first time in almost two years. (Take their BBQ tips seriously, by the way.) I got to see friends in Atlanta and Nashville, and lots of family in California.

I’m thankful to have people in my life who have been a part of it for the long haul. I love seeing where we’ve ended up so far.

#355 The Southern Road Trip

21 December 2015 // El Paso, Texas

This trip was so much fun and so sweet. Even the latter day we had to spend driving through Texas for forever was a good chance to bond, binge on Serial, and try to perfect lip syncing to Macklemore.

Road trips are one of my favorite analogies for how to live. Form a team with some good friends. Bring some snacks. See other friends along the way, and explore new places.

The entire thing ends up being a discovery, and not just a discovery of new cities. You get to rediscover yourself and the people with you, and it ends up being a real win-win-win-win.

#356 Breakfast in Tucson

22 December 2015 // Tucson, Arizona

Spent a night in my first American hostel, and it was… alright! Considering I’d heard awful things about some hostels in San Francisco and New York, this one was pretty pleasant. Especially since we had the whole dorm to ourselves.

We also got to wander around downtown Tucson for a little bit, which was more charming than I expected. Breakfast was at a ritzy John Dillinger-themed hotel.

#357 Box Exchange With The Wards

23 December 2015 // San Diego, California

A day in San Diego equals some in-person time with Chris and Katie – making good on what we talked on our last podcast episode. Making our own subscription boxes!

We got to exchange them today. We took slightly different approaches to crafting each other’s boxes.

Deanna and I now get to enjoy olive products for days. And the Wards? They have all the John Kruk baseball cards they could’ve ever dreamed of.

#358 JB & Ivy Get Engaged

24 December 2015 // Carlsbad, California

And my first Christmas gift of the year will be a tough one to top! Through Ivy, I’ll be getting a brand new cousin-in-law.

It’s a pretty fitting end to a fantastic road trip, a cherry on top of a wonderful Christmastime, and the beginning of something great.

Looking forward to having you in the family, JB! And not just cause I’ll finally have somebody to watch games with, though that’s a plus.

#359 Christmas 2015

25 December 2015 // Bakersfield, California

I’m calling it… Best Christmas I’ve had in recent memory. And our first married Christmas at that.

Who knows how long we’ll be able to keep getting in both families for the holidays but it worked out wonderfully for this year.

I got to watch my cousin get engaged yesterday and I made it to Bakersfield just in time to construct a giant dinosaur with my nephews.

Hope your Christmases were all similarly wonderful.

#360 Simon & Stormtrooper

26 December 2015 // Bakersfield, California

You know the nephews are really into Star Wars when for the first time ever, the older one requests a themed bedtime story… Star Wars themed.

I can’t pretend to be that Star Wars savvy… my knowledge of history long, long ago is quite limited. So I honestly hope that Simon enjoyed his story about the hairless ewok and how Yoda taught this ewok to use the force in order to overcome hereditary baldness.

#361 Friends at Dagny’s

27 December 2015 // Bakersfield, California

Dagny’s: Coffeeshop essential while in Bakersfield, and a great place to catch up with friends who now live in every direction.

Spent some time introducing Deanna to the world of Tinder by having her guest swipe on a friend’s account, and then swapped updates on everyone’s lives.

One of my favorite things about this point in the year is all the catching up that takes place. Loved seeing old high school friends, even if it wasn’t my high school.

#362 Downtown Disney

28 December 2015 // Anaheim, California

When your route home takes you through Anaheim during rush hour, sometimes you just gotta stretch your legs in Downtown Disney.

Found this great New Orleans restaurant that came highly recommended by Daniel Santos – I wish he were there to enjoy it with me.

I especially recommend the beignets. The small order isn’t enough. You’ll want to get the family size serving. And no sharing. It’s all for you.

#363 Fishtank Means Good Pho

29 December 2015 // San Diego, California

Spent a bonus day in San Diego after dropping Deanna off at the airport to head back to Oregon just a wee bit earlier.

Went to my old favorite pho joint with my mom in the evening to hang out and to get a bowl of pho, everything in it.

In my experience, it’s been a universal rule… the fish tank somewhere in the restaurant is a sign that you are about to enjoy quality pho.

#364 We’re Going Back to Oregon

30 December 2015 // Eugene, Oregon

Long day! Woke up at four in the morning to catch my flight to Portland, and then drove down to Eugene.

Right away, I got a chance to meet up with a family friend over coffee. And then I swung by the house to try and fix things up for our guest.

And then Daniel arrived. It was a full one.

#365 Horcruxes of 2015

31 December 2015 // Eugene, Oregon

Fun little exercise I like doing at the end of each year… dividing the year’s soul into seven appropriate horcruxes. 2015 was a big year, so here’s what we’ve got!

The Wand of Minerva McGonagall – An actual Harry Potter related horcrux! This one was from an essential honeymoon stop, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

If Not For Second Chances – This was the year that I first released a book into the world.

The Wedding Polaroid – I love everything about this little snapshot from our wedding… it perfectly captures us and the joy and excitement of this moment.

George A. Dickel Whiskey – A handle of the whiskey we picked up in Tennessee during our Southern Road Trip. Loved the trip and I love

Mini-Mug from Café du Monde – Deanna and I fell in love with New Orleans this year on our honeymoon, and Café du Monde is the perfect symbol of what we love about it

A Letter From My Dad – I won’t share much about this, cause I want to keep it personal, but I was so glad to read this at just the right time in life.

“Light My Fire” Camping Knife – Something needs to symbolize all the camping trips we took this year… I could’ve gone with any of our wedding presents from REI, but this one doubles as a Valentine’s Day gift from Deanna.

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