February

#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.