#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.
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.
#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!”
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.
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.”
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.
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.