Notes from the Weekend

Confession: This was actually last weekend, but the point and the photos are still the same :)  Enjoy!

We had one of those rare winter Seattle weekends full of sunshine.  These happen a few times throughout the winter and they are always such a nice surprise.  Of course, everyone in the entire city had to spend it outside and I was definitely one of them.  I spent it visiting approximately 3 bodies of water, all within the city proper.  Excessive? Maybe.  Beautiful? Absolutely.  I thought I would share some snippets of the weekend with you.

arboretum

On Saturday, E & I headed to the arboretum, where we will be getting married in July, to check out the venue again and scope out possible ceremony locations.  I was surprised by how many blooms were already sprouting and the colors already appearing on trees and flowers.  It legitimately felt like spring.  The arboretum is located next to Union Bay, which connects Lake Union to Lake Washington.

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blossoming tree

Nature’s chandelier anyone?

nature's chandelier

golden gardens

Later that day, I met up with Marie and we headed to Golden Gardens park that overlooks the Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains.  By the amount of people who were there, you would have thought it was the warmest day in summer!  We then stopped for Paseo’s sandwiches and took them to Peddler’s Brewery.  That place rocks.  Not too busy (yet), so has a pretty chill vibe.

marie and i at goldern gardens

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Croissants for days!

croissants for days

On Sunday it was again too nice not to be outside.  I decided to take a stroll over to Eastlake and stopped at a French Bakery & then made my way over to Lake Union.  I was lucky enough to find a quiet dock all to myself in the sun.  It was magical.  I snapped some photos of my walk back from Eastlake over the University Bridge.

lake union dock

lake union

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Obligatory Seattle house boats.

boat houses

I-5 bridge

sail boat from university bridge

What did you do this weekend?

Taste Tested: Minimalist Baker’s Black Bean Brownies & Peanut Butter Mousse

Recently I’ve been working to up my bean consumption to aid my digestive system.  This was recommended by my nutritionist.  I’ve made black beans and white beans from scratch and this week I’ll be making chickpea croutons.  As I was thinking about what else I could do, I remembered a recipe one of my friends sent me about 6 months back.  It was the Minimalist Baker’s vegan black bean brownies.  I figured they would be a great addition to my bean goal especially since I am also trying out the whole gluten-free thing.  These brownies have absolutely no flour and really, a minimal amount of sugar.  (On an aside, please forgive my horrible photos, I took these at work one day….)

black bean brownies with peanut butter mousse

Here’s the thing.  The brownies on their own are really freaking good.  They are airy and moist and super chocolate-y.  Everything you’d want in a brownie.  Also, the idea of making them in a muffin tin is genius.  They get the firmness on the outside and top rather than remaining super gooey, like I  imagine they would do in a regular dish.

I made my beans from scratch and I do not own a food processor, so I blended all the ingredients in two magic bullet containers and then combined them into a large bowl.  I divided the recipe in half, so that each container had the same amount of ingredients.  While the magic bullet did an ok job, it still left a few chunks of beans.  I think they would be even more delicious if I had a better processor.  Besides that, these brownies are excellent and I’m getting the extra boost of beans aka fiber and protein that my body needs!

And then the next day after I made these, Minimalist Baker posted this recipe for vegan peanut butter mousse.  She even suggests that it would be great with the brownies.  Well, let me tell you, the flavor combination is out.of.this.world.  I felt like I was eating a crazy fancy buttercream cupcake at Trophy or Cupcake Royale (for those Seattlites out there).  In addition, both recipes were ridiculously easy and took me almost no time at all to compile.

black bean brownies with peanut butter mousse

The review: Make these.  And make them soon.  I promise you, you won’t regret it.  Just be sure to really blend up the beans and use fancier cocoa powder.  Having a slightly nicer cocoa powder really does make a world of chocolate-y difference.

Oh! And in case you’re interested, Minimalist Baker posted ANOTHER black bean brownie recipe in the time it took me to write this up… And this one?  Peanut butter included!

What are your favorite dessert recipes?  Do any of them include beans??

Manzanita

Back in September 2013, I traveled to Manzanita, Oregon to spend some time with friends in a beautiful beach house.  I really enjoyed taking photos and felt inspired by this place.  If you’ve never been, the Oregon coast is one of those “must see” regions.  There’s just something very magical about the tiny coves of beach towns, with large jutting rocks.  Anyway, I hope you enjoy my pictorial memory of this trip.Manzanita, Oregon

Clouds reflections on Manzanita Beach

We were fortunate enough to have a perfect beach day. We went for walks on the beach, visited a friend’s new property they’re building, cooked breakfast, shopped for small goods in town, ate a wonderful homemade chili & cornbread, knit, hot tubbed & spent time talking to one another. It was a very relaxing day filled with simple pleasures.

Manzanita Beach

On the way home, Marie & I stopped in Canon Beach for some coffee beans from The Sleepy Monk. We also stopped at a Rite Aide to buy $10 knock off tom’s shoes. On a whim, we decided to take the short ferry ride from Oregon to Cathlamet, WA via the Columbia River. With a break in the rain, it was absolutely gorgeous and peaceful. It’s also only $5 for the trip, for both of us and the car!

painted ferry ride

I was inspired by all the reflections in the water. The tide was out and yet a thin layer of water remained.

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What’s on your “must see” list??

Weekend Photos

plantains with black beans & rice

I made fried plantains for the first time along with “puerto rican” black beans.  This meal reminded E & I of Venezuela, which made us very happy.  I put puerto rican in quotes because I followed a general recipe that said it was puerto rican but I’m not sure how accurate that was.  Also, I followed it loosely so again, not totally accurate.  The secret is lots of fresh lime juice and bacon, of course.  I had forgotten how much I like lightly cooked kale.  I might eat it every night this week…

sunrise in Seattle

We had the most beautiful sunrise on Friday morning.  I took this picture while riding the bus on my way to work.

cat and the heater

E’s mom sent us a new space heater for Christmas that we just received.  It uses less electricity and heats up a room about 10x faster than our other once.  We’re all pretty happy about it, Mona included.

portage bay mug

We had a leisurely brunch at Portage Bay on Sunday.  It was delightful and I got a giant slice of gluten free bread smothered in jam.  I was pretty happy about it.

What did you do this weekend?

Book # 1: People of Darkness

For my 12 books in 2014 goal, I decided that the books I read should all be books I already own.  See, I’m kind of a book hoarder.  When I was in school, I would long for the days when I could just read books for fun and I would buy them preemptively, just waiting for the day when I had some time.  But then, when a semester would end, I would find myself stepping away from books for awhile, having just read so many for all of my anthropology classes.  So here I am, with a large array of books on hand that I have not yet read.  Which, by the way, is kind of exciting!  There’s all these things I’ve wanted to know about and I finally have the time to absorb them.

top pot donut and tony hillerman

I decided to read The People of Darkness by Tony Hillerman first because I thought it would be a fun, quick holiday read.  I brought it on the plane to Iowa for Christmas as the light airplane reading I’m into.  I picked up this book a year or so ago on a recommendation from a friend.  She had recommended Tony Hillerman’s books and this is the one I happened to select from the used book store close to my home.  Tony’s books are detective/mystery books about Navajo Tribal Police.  I really enjoy the mix of native ideals and values with white (or non-native) ones.

While Hillerman grew up in the Southwest, I cannot tell if he is a native himself, which of course makes me question the true value of the native perspective represented in his books.  If anyone out there has more information on this, I’d like to know.  In fact, I’m postponing reading more of his books until I find out because it changes the value of them for me.  Because well, that’s just who I am.  I’d rather read fiction that is portraying true facts of those involved than inaccurate ones… especially when they deal so closely with religious or spiritual meanings and practices.  Actually, this book has peaked my interest in Southwestern natives and their tribes.  I am definitely interested in learning a lot more, as it is a subject I know very little about.

I felt like this book was a great start to my 2014 goals.  I spent a good chunk of January 1st reading this book as I visited a Seattle park (also part of my goals)!  Dang, one week in and I am killing it!  I quickly finished this book on the 2nd because every chapter left you needing to know what happened next!  I definitely enjoy the detective/mystery genre, hopefully I have another one lying around to read.  I’m already about halfway through book #2!  Can’t wait to share that next.

What are you reading right now?

Hike # 1: Twin Falls Trail

olalle state park

In 2013, Evan and I hiked a lot of the major “must see” trails in the area, however; there’s still a long list of trails and mountains we’d love to climb.  Lucky for us there are a ton of trails about 30-45 minutes from our home.  It’s so easy to plop yourself right in the middle of nature with a quick car trip.  I feel very lucky that we live in the place we do and I’m excited to keep trying new hikes and learning more about the area as we go along.

overlooking snoqualmie river

I had Monday off because we have a conference for work this Saturday, so Evan and I decided to take advantage of a quieter day on the trails and go for a morning hike.  We’re still in the process of wearing in our hiking boots, so we didn’t want anything too long.  I decided on the Twin Falls trail in North Bend.  Twin Falls is actually one of three main falls that all lead to the massive Snoqualmie Falls.  Because it’s further north than the Snoqualmie Falls, salmon cannot make it up that far, but there are several other species of fish who live in the area.  I can’t remember any of their names but I remember they sounded hilarious to me.

me and twin falls

Twin Falls is part of Olallie State Park, on the western slopes of the Cascade Mountains.  Apparently Twin Falls is full with huckleberries in July-September, which makes me think we definitely have to go back!  However, the winter is the best time to view the falls (at their strongest) so it’s a catch-22.  The trail is well kept and there was a place to purchase a day pass and a restroom at the beginning of the trail.  A lot of other trails we’ve gone to don’t allow you to buy the pass there, so this is good to know!  They even have a solar powered credit card machine, similar to the pay-to-park machines in Seattle.

twin falls from the bridge

We only ended up going about 2.5 miles roundtrip, just a little pass the falls bridge but the trail actually extended much further.  I enjoyed the fact that this hike was not a direct, steep incline like a lot of the others we’ve done.  It slowly ascends and descends throughout, so you’re not only going up on the way there and down on the way back.  The only downside to the trail was that one part was very close to some sort of highway, so there was a little traffic noise.  If there’s anything that makes you feel less in nature, it’s traffic.  But otherwise, it was a crisp, cool day in the high 30s, lower 40s and it was perfect for a hike.  Also, we only ran into four other people on the trail.  It seems on the weekends, the trails can get pretty congested, so it was nice to have it more or less to ourselves.  A few spots were a little muddy but by no means slippery.  Finally, standing on the bridge overlooking the falls and the flowing water below was very peaceful and magnificent.  I would recommend this hike to those who don’t want to work too hard for a very pretty view.

evan & i

All in all, I would call hike # 1 of 2014 a great success!  I’m looking forward to many more!

2014 Goals.

I’ve got a whole lot of goals for 2014 and I thought it would be nice to share some of them here and track my progression.  Since there are 12 months in year, I’ve decided to center many of my goals around this number.  The year of twelves.  Reflecting on the past year, I realized that I want to get out and explore the city and surrounding area even more than I already have.  For the most part, my social calendar consists of going to Evan’s shows.  In all honesty, I spend a lot of time at home because I know Evan will only be here for short bursts in between his busy schedule.  But for this year, I want to spend more time focused on learning more and getting out there for me.  And get married too….because that’s happening.  Actually, Evan and I will be pretty MIA for the entire month of July due to the wedding and honeymoon, so I should really have probably made my goals to do 11 of each, but where’s the fun in that?

Here are the things I want to do in twelves:

- Try 12 new to me restaurants
- Read 12 books
- Go on 12 hikes
- Visit 12 art/cultural/social centers or events in the city
- And, to divide things up a bit, I also would like to run 3 races this year.

I have some other professional and personal goals as well.  Like to actually sit down and start working on some articles as well as to join some sort of professional or community-based organization.  I think for the past few years I “hibernated” because I had to finish my thesis and I needed to spend some time figuring myself out.  But I feel like I’ve got a pretty good handle on who I am and where I want to go.  All that’s left is to do it!  So here’s to an exciting, adventurous, less hibernate-y year.

top pot donuts

Oh! And to top it off, I’ve already finished one book this year… The People of Darkness by Tony Hillerman.  A very quick and dramatic read.  I enjoyed it very much!