Best Finds of 2013

I’ve been reading a lot of best of lists in the last several days, everything from albums of 2013 to recipes involving bacon.  Everyone seems to be making a year end list.  I thought, why not jump on the bandwagon.  So here we go.  This isn’t a top ten or even a list with any sort of theme.  These are just things (songs, movie houses, art, tv shows, food, etc.) I discovered in 2013 that will stay with me long into 2014 and beyond.

Let’s get to it….

The Lone Bellow came into my life via iTunes and a free download.  I instantly became obsessed with them.  Great lyrics, excellent harmonies, and catchy tunes that stay in your head for days.

The Cinnamon Crunch Bagel from Panera.  This thing is addicting.  I’m so glad we discovered them, and so sad at the same time.  It’s all kinds of deliciousness in a small round baked good.  Toasted with butter… so damn tasty.

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Kickapoo State Park, Illinois.  We’ve lived in Illinois now for nearly two and a half years.  Surprisingly there are many things we’ve come to appreciate and even truly like about living here.  One thing we haven’t is that there isn’t as much water as we were used to living in Oregon.  We’ve done our best to travel to nearby towns with river walks (there aren’t that many) and to find state parks and such that have a decent amount of water, in whatever form we can find it.  One such place, to our delight, is Kickapoo.  First, you have to love the name, c’mon, it’s kind of awesome.  But more importantly, it has water.  All sorts of little lakes and a stream, running through it.  There are canoe rentals in the summer, and loads of trails.  We went in the fall, when the colors of the foliage were stunningly beautiful.  We will definitely be going back.

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The Golden Harbor Restaurant.  With a huge menu, free tea by the pot, and a cool old school vibe, this place rocks. Plus, the food is great.  How can you go wrong with spicy green beans, salt and pepper mushrooms, and plates full of sweet and spicy chicken.  The menu on the wall is enormous and all in Chinese.  You can pick up an english language menu from the little table by the front door if you like.  Write down the numbers of the things you’d like to order, take it up to the counter, and moments later your tasty hot food starts coming out as it’s ready.  We love this place.

SliceMenuWall

Season tickets for the University of Illinois women’s volleyball and basketball.  What a great deal.  We’d been to games before, but this all inclusive $35 dollar ticket package gets you into all the home games for both sports.  We’ve had hours of enjoyment at these games.  The atmosphere, the competition, supporting the local university, and eating an occasional stadium dog… all worth it.  Can’t beat it for good sporty entertainment.

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Cris Cab.  I can’t even remember how I stumbled on this young gent.  All I know for sure is that his music is catchy and I’m semi-addicted to it.

Dominic Thomas was born.  I don’t know if you can call him a discovery, but as he grows, and has one discovery after another of his own, we have discovered a little more about him, and ourselves.  I think that’s part of the beauty of little people.  As they grow and change and develop we see the world through them, and it is an amazingly wondrous place.

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The fun of riding steam trains.  Taking a five mile ride on a steam train isn’t exactly something I would choose to do on my own.  Maybe an over night or a several night journey, one with sleeper cars and a nice dining car, but not a shorty ride on a steam train that goes one way forward and then backs up on the return trip.  But, somehow, with the help of the excitement of a three year old, short trip steam trains kinda rock.  We went a couple of different times and I’m sure we’ll be going again this year.  Our mini engineer in training loves it and, consequently, so do we.

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The Blacklist.  James Spader is just plain awesome.  He’s an amazing actor.  In lessor hands this role, and the tv show connected to it, might not be as riveting and interesting as it is.  But with James Spader at the center, a decent supporting cast, and top notch writing, Blacklist keeps you hooked.

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Portland, Maine.  We took a little road trip for our 10th anniversary to Portland by way of NY, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, etc.  We loved New England.  It’s beautiful, it’s people are great, and it’s beautiful.  Portland, the destination for this trip, didn’t disappoint.  We met in Portland, Oregon.  It’s our city, as we like to call it.  We love it there.  I had, however, always wanted to go to the other Portland.  To check it out.  To see what it had to offer.  My honey felt the same.  Seemed fitting that on our 10th we would take a trip to that other Portland to see what we could see.  It was great.  Good restaurants, excellent scenery, really nice people, and funky in it’s own way, we enjoyed it very much.

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Roadtrippers.  I love this website.  We travel quite a bit.  Most especially, in recent years at least, we’ve gone on some major road trips here in the U.S.  This site allows you to plan your route and then see what sorts of places might be along it.  From practical to strange Roadtrippers has them all.   They also have an app, which rocks.  I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.

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Cafe ZoJo.  It’s a local coffee shop that’s fairly new.  I’m not sure if we actually found this in 2013 or the year before, but never the less, I’m including it here.  The staff are friendly, with quick helpful smiles, the atmosphere is eclectic and comfortable, the food is tasty, and the coffee is sublime.  ZoJo is our go to for take away coffee.  I’ve never had better drip coffee in my life.  That’s saying a lot.

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Sleepy Creek Vineyards.  We actually discovered this place by way of a thing called the Fork in the Road Tour.  A few local farms, their goods, a nice drive with good friends, and we ended up, last stop on the tour, at Sleepy Creek.  We were given a tour of the vineyard,  an explanation of the bottling process, and then a tasting.  The wine was good, but the people were great, and the atmosphere was awesome.  Later, like a month or so, they hosted the Salk Fork River Art Festival.  Again, great setting, great wine, great people.  We were hooked.  They do several events a month including things like film festivals, live music, art festivals, weenie roasts, and of course wine tastings.  It’s worth the drive east.

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Cinnebarre in Salem, Oregon.  We live in Illinois now, but we still spend a significant amount of time in Oregon.  It’s where I’m from, and where my honey lived for over 30 years.  It’s home.  My mom lives in Salem, in the same house we lived in when I was in high school.  Salem is the capitol city, and has always been considered, amongst people who live in Portland anyway, a lessor town.  But in the last several years Salem has grown up a little, and funked out a bit as well.  To prove this point they now have a movie place downtown called Cinebarre.  It’s a chain, though there are only about seven or eight locations around the country.  The fact that one of those is in Salem is very cool.  Cinebarre is a movie theater and it’s a restaurant.  You get table service during the movie, which seems like it could distract you, but it doesn’t really.  Walk in, look at the menu before the movie starts, fill out your card, prop it up, and the wait staff comes to take your order via your card and then brings you the food while the movie is going.  You can keep ordering if you want to, they also have beer and wine.  It’s a kick and a unique movie experience.  I like it.

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Honda PCX 150 Scooter.  We used to own motorcycles.  Big motorcycles.  Hogs.  We had all the gear, went on rides, and thought we were slightly above all those scooter riders out there.  That’s the way it goes.  If you ride motorcycles you think scooter riders, or scooterists as I like to call them, are slightly beneath you.  Not really in an arrogant way, it’s just that as a motorcycle rider you’re cool.  As a scooterist you’re nerdy.  Until, of course, we gave up the motorcycles and bought a Honda scooter in 2013.  It’s beyond awesome.  It hauls buns, can carry both of us, is fun as hell to ride, and seems easier.  Maybe the easier part is just because you don’t have to shift, I don’t know.  But it’s zippy, and it makes a fantastic second car.  I so love to ride it.  Who would’ve thunk, those few short years ago, we would prefer a scooter, but we do.  I guess if that makes us nerds we proudly own it.  I’m a scooterist.  Damn straight I am.

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10 Word Review – The Beef House

Beef HouseBland. Tasteless. Usual. Rolls. Amiable. Quick. Salad. Filling. Banal. No.

10 Word Review – Fat Sandwich Company

Huge. Ridiculous. Tasty. Overboard. Yum. Variety. Decadent. Fried. Heavy. Yes.

Steakburger

County Bucket List

Humps….. check! Really enjoyed the flavor of the meat at Humps!

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Breaking Bread With Earl, originally uploaded by Tokenhippygirl.

Olympic Club



Olympic Club

Originally uploaded by Tokenhippygirl

Had a great lunch this last Sunday with our friends, Dan and Linda, their kids, Amanda and Daniel, and Kev. Really nice time with them in Centralia at the Olympic Club. Nice mid point meeting spot.

Cheers



Cheers

Originally uploaded by Tokenhippygirl

First dinner out in the big city.

Cold One

Cold One, originally uploaded by Tokenhippygirl.

Karen took this one inside Deschutes as we sat and enjoyed the spoils of our victory.

Deschutes

Deschutes, originally uploaded by Tokenhippygirl.

After the Providence Bridge Pedal we all rode our bikes an additional ten plus blocks to the Deschutes Brewery iin search of some much needed nourishment and libation. We got both.

Corked

Corked, originally uploaded by Tokenhippygirl.

From this hour I ordain myself loosed of limits and imaginary lines.
-Walt Whitman

The Tower

The Tower, originally uploaded by Tokenhippygirl.

After our tubing adventure last Saturday we all went to Edgefield. The McMenamins establishment that’s out in Troutdale. I’ve never seen a group of hungrier women. We were all so famished we could have eaten almost anything. Fortunately, even though they were packed and we had to wait a while to get a table, once we got seated our service was pretty darn good. The beer and the food started flowing almost immediately and we were in heaven.

Eating Out

Eating Out, originally uploaded by Tokenhippygirl.

Outside that is. The view from our table at McMenamins. It was so nice Friday night. A nice dinner out after we’d worked around the house, in the yard, all morning. We got tons of stuff done this weekend at our place. Very satisfying. Also very satisfying to play after you work.  Oh, and the plans on the table… they are the plans for our bathroom addition.  We took them along so Sandy and Vicki could check them out.

Out For A Walk

Out For A Walk, originally uploaded by Tokenhippygirl.

Friday night, July 3, we met some friends (yo Sandy and Vicki) at the McMenamins on the Columbia over in Vancouver. It’s a great spot right on the river. We sat outside. It was grand.

Lunch With Family

Lunch With Family, originally uploaded by Tokenhippygirl.

Last Saturday, the 20th, we had a little family get together (thanks again Ab for planning it out!). We met at the Ram in Salem. Nice place. Really good company. We don’t get to see each other much, the seven of us. So many busy lives, so much going on for each of us. But when we do get together… wonderful. I love these people. Everyone of them, good to the last. Just a spectacular bunch. I’m so proud to be their sister. So proud to have them in my life. And I couldn’t help thinking, looking around at all of us (we missed you Kenny), that my dad would’ve loved it. My dad would’ve loved knowing we were together. I could feel him there. Laughing that throw his head back full body laugh. Eyes twinkling. He would’ve teared up. His love that big, his heart that full. My dad, our dad, made us. He lives in us, and is with each of us every day. I felt him there last Saturday. Probably everyone at the table did. There are really no words to describe it… there was magic at that table. Beautiful, harmonious, loving, happy, magic.

Tea

 

Tea, originally uploaded by Tokenhippygirl.

Just hanging out waiting for my to delivery of delicious Thai food
sippin on a very tasty Thai iced tea. Yummy.

From this hour I ordain myself loosed of limits and imaginary lines.
-Walt Whitman

Yum… Tasty, Or At Least It Was

 

We stopped for breakfast at the Logger in Knappa on our way back from the clam digging adventure yesterday. Pretty good eats in a rustic ambiance. Great after a tough morning of digging up the little diggers.

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Ice Cream Anyone?, originally uploaded by Tokenhippygirl.

Ice cream stand in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Taken February 3, 2006 with the Canon PowerShot SD500.

Nonna Emilia

Nonna Emilia, originally uploaded by Tokenhippygirl.

We also went to a friend’s surprise birthday party at Nonna Emilia. She was surprised, and the food was, as always, really good.

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Nonna Emilia, originally uploaded by Tokenhippygirl.

The table at Nonna Emilia, Hillsboro, Oregon.

Taken with the Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT.

Mama Mia

Mama Mia, originally uploaded by Tokenhippygirl.

And again I’ll say… Happy Birthday to Me! I had a great day, ending with a very nice dinner at Mama Mia, downtown Portland.

Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli

After enjoying a mini birthday party at our house and then walking around in the city, we went to dinner with friends on my birthday at Mama Mia. I had cannoli and an espresso for dessert. Both were good, but the cannoli… ah… really great.

The Mississippi Pizza Pub

The Mississippi Pizza Pub, originally uploaded by Tokenhippygirl.

We actually started off the evening, last night, with a stop by Phil and Steph’s house. Ok, so what happened is we knew we could probably park by their house, which we found we could, and when we did we decided we should probably stop in and say hello since we were just right there and everything. And before you go and think we were being rude and all by just dropping by without a call, which I would normally never do to anyone, know this… they don’t mind it at all. In fact, they like it. People are always dropping by their house. It’s just their way. So, we stopped in and said hello. Phil was getting some dinner and some wine together on their deck for them and some friend’s of theirs who’d come over. Steph was hanging with their girls upstairs. We went in and chatted with Steph upstairs and then Phil offered us wine as we came back downstairs. We had to decline the wine as we had friends waiting at Mississippi Pizza, but it was great of him to ask. What a fantastic couple of people they are. I feel, we feel, very fortunate to have met them and very lucky that my mom married Steph’s dad. It’s terrific to really dig the people you get connected to through marriage. And… we dig them.

After the short visit with Steph and Phil we walked down to Mississippi Pizza for a pie and a root beer with friends. Yeah, no beer last night. Root beer. It was good. What can we say, we’re not big drinkers. At least there’s beer in the name… yeah, we’re very tough.

We were very full after dinner and a walk sounded splendid to all so a walk is what we had. We cruised up one side and down the other of Mississippi Avenue, wandering into some stores, looking at the Freemont Bridge, looking at construction on the street… me snapping pictures the whole time. It was a very relaxing, very lovely evening.

What follows this is a collection of some of the shots I took last night as we wandered. My camera is my friend… and it’s offspring ain’t that bad either. Yeah, I know that was a weird metaphor….

A Little Moxie

A Little Moxie, originally uploaded by Tokenhippygirl.

This place is on Mississippi Avenue in North Portland. We’ve actually never purchased anything from this place, but I want to. They offer snacks, various beverages, morning nosh (don’t you just love the word nosh) and several cool picnic tables to lounge at while enjoying their fare. Kinda cool. I think this totally fits into the whole “keep portland weird” scheme.

Lemon With That Water

Location: Mexican restaurant

Subjects: Older couple enjoying a dinner out

I’m perplexed. Ok, maybe not really perplexed. Maybe I’m just shaking my head due to the fact that there was this older couple sitting across the little aisle from us last night and they were so stereotypical of what you might expect out of people who looked like they did. She with her jewelry and pinched expression and he with his izod sweater and khaki shorts. Though I did keep thinking they might be on a date, even a first date, which would make them a bit less stereotypical, and might have explained some of the uncomfortable vibes coming off their table. And I hope I don’t sound too mean, because sounding mean isn’t my intention. I’m not trying to be. It’s just that their behavior was not exactly friendly, or even respectful, and I didn’t think it would be, just based on their attire, their expressions, and their entrance. I wanted to be pleasantly surprised by them… I wasn’t.

First, they sat and ordered drinks… he a beer to go with his food, she some lemon to go in her water. She tried to order a number 13 with chicken without even really looking at the young woman giving them the water and putting the basket of chips and accompanying salsa on the table. The gentleman with her hurriedly said to her, as if embarrassed that she didn’t know the rules, she doesn’t take the order, she just brings the water and the chips. The woman, with a very strong southern accent, said… oh, Ok. She seemed nervous to be there, uncomfortable. But then again, if this was a date she very well might have been uncomfortable because of that. Could be, right…

After they get their beer and their lemon, the waitress comes to take their order who, by the way, is the same one waiting on us and also someone we like very much, and the older gent says to her, we thought you forgot about us over here…. even though it hadn’t been that long at all. Maybe 5 to 10 minutes. He tried to laugh while he said it, but he wasn’t kidding, and the waitress wasn’t laughing. Plus, they already had their beverages, with lemon, and their chips and salsa… what’s the rush. The woman then, in the same voice as earlier, without looking at the waitress, says… number 13 with chicken. The man orders his, I can’t remember what, without cheese. After ordering they make small talk about surgeries and insurance and property left to her by her father that was worth a lot for the good part of the property, but the bad part, all marsh, hasn’t sold yet and how the guy was in Texas and didn’t understand how people could live in mobile homes like that because they, to him, were inhabitable. They stop only to ask for more salsa, because she can’t eat the onions and only dips her chips in the sauce, when a young gentleman came to fill up their water glasses. He brought her more salsa.

Then the food comes, and they pray. After praying they start to eat, and hardly say another word. I mean… nothing. They eat as if they’re sitting there alone, not with each other… and that’s it. Fini.

I wonder… will I be like that? Not really paying any attention to the people working hard to bring me the food I’ve ordered or to fill the water in my glass. Will I not notice them, or when I do will I just give them a bad time about how they aren’t doing their job well, or how they’ve disappointed me by not doing it exactly as I’d like them to. Will I forget to show them respect for just being the human beings they are. I hope not.

I hope I don’t forget that they are just people who, like me, have a job. They go to work, have good days and bad, and then they go home to their lives, their friends, and their families. I hope I never get to the place that I don’t look them in the eyes or talk to them. We had a long drawn out conversation with our waitress, who also waited on the couple next to us, about her former business (she owned a coffee shop we used to frequent that had been fairly successful, but decided it took too much out of her life, that it had become her life, and she didn’t want to live like that anymore. Her solution… go to work as a waitress where she can make pretty decent money working for her brothers who own the restaurant we were in last night and who have mostly family working there… very cool, and good for her). I hope I always remember to smile, and to look people in the eye, and to be gracious. I hope I remember that we are all, to the last of us living on this tiny spinning globe, human beings with feelings, thoughts, hopes, and lives we’re living.

So far, I hope, I think I’m OK with all of that… I’m on point. I’m a person who usually thinks the best of people, or wants to anyway. And in thinking about what happened… the older couple at the table across the aisle from us, well… they too are people, maybe doing the best they could to have a night out. And maybe they were just having a bad day. Maybe they were feeling a bit off or out of sorts. Yeah, maybe that’s why they were a little less than friendly, a little less than respectful. Could be. Maybe…