JUNE 2016

#153 Relief Nursery

01 June 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Today I did something that should have probably been on my bucket list, except it’s not really something I imagined myself doing. I got to help give away a giant check.

The funds went to the Relief Nursery as part of a class project I’ve been a part of. I also got to physically hand them the “real” check for $15,000, which is the most money I’ve ever given away. It wasn’t my money, but I physically got to give it away, so that counts for something I guess.

The Relief Nursery is one of the things making me pretty happy midweek. I visited their campus and was pretty impressed at the parental support they offer to low income families with the goal of putting an end to child abuse.

What else? Hmm… I’ve been loving the Chance album lately, like most other people who are aware of its existence. It’s one I really don’t mind on repeat over and over and over.

And I’m also pretty happy with Xurroland in Portland. Yet another dessert spot in the City of Roses that I hope to make part of my routine whenever I pass through.

#154 Redmond City Hall

02 June 2016 // Redmond, Oregon

One of the fun things I’ve been able to work on over the past couple months has been setting up a homeless shelter or service of some sort in the city of Redmond.

Today I got to give a presentation at Redmond’s city hall, which reminds me of some sort of Art Deco Deli.

Good times. And Hop Valley SaiBlack to celebrate.

#155 Buttermilk Fried Chicken

03 June 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Summer heat calls for summer meals, and it’s hard to skirt a classic. Buttermilk fried chicken.

Pickled corn, store-bought cole slaw, homemade ice cream, and chili pepper beer all work together to fight back against a weekend in the upper nineties.

This is the sort of recipe where I start to see the results of my yearlong cooking project. I used to never be able to get a handle on anything breaded and fried, with the breading almost always coming apart when moving things in and out of the oil. This year, I’ve been able to solve that problem for fish and chips, milanesa, and the much beloved fried chicken.

#156 Bohemia Saddle

04 June 2016 // Bohemia, Oregon

Close to triple digit temperatures… also known as a good time to hike, apparently.

Jordan took us to go see the highest point in Lane County, somewhere pretty deep in the Umpqua National Forest. Then to Bohemia, an abandoned mining town that hasn’t been used in a century. Creepy. And cool.

Beignet loved her time on the mountaintop too. A little too much. She got away from us for about an hour. Good thing she loves snow as much as she does. That made it way easier to go find her.

#157 Drinking from a Salt Pond

05 June 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

My favorite thing about getting into running has been being able to dig into some podcasts and good music a lot more.

Every few months or so I put up a blog post featuring some of my recent recommendations. No surprise that the most recent one happens to be dominated by what’s been coming in through my earbuds.

On the music side of things: Run River North, Gallant, and Jack Garratt have been getting a lot of plays from me lately.

Some fun podcasts: The Splendid Table, Gastropod, NPR’s Embedded, Sounds Good, and NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour.

#158 Mayonnaises

06 June 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Homemade condiments are the best. Homemade things generally tend to be better, but condiments are one of the things that really allow you to taste the difference.

I made a batch of spicy mayo and a batch of herb mayo to go into different things over the next week or so, starting with tonight’s dinner of crab rolls. Mayo lends itself well to quite a few summer recipes, so the timing is perfect.

Plus, I have leftover egg whites. Macarons soon?

#159 Black Panther

07 June 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I don’t know how long it’s been since I’ve bought a comic book. At least a dozen years, but probably longer.

What triggered this purchase? Ta-Nehisi Coates.

When I found out that the writer of what might be this decade’s most important book would follow up that piece by writing a line of Marvel Comics, I was intrigued. But it was great source material for him to be working with. Back when I was much more into the superhero world, Black Panther was one of the coolest characters, king of a technologically sophisticated African nation. It’s been fun to get back into the world of Wakanda.

I’ve mostly been going through these first few issues while trying to relax, and I’ve been enjoying them so far. Team T’Challa, all the way.

What else am I stoked about today? Well, Team USA proved they’ve got some fight in ‘em, with a pretty decided win against Costa Rica. I have a feeling the real Team USA is much better than they displayed against Colombia en la COPA.

Also, when I wake up tomorrow, it’ll mark four years that Deanna and I have been dating. My goodness. Life’s been sweet for a while now.

#160 Anniversary 4

08 June 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I’m the lucky one.

The past four years have been wild. Both of us have gone through grad school, we’ve moved from Santa Barbara to Bakersfield to Oregon, we’ve done long distance while I’ve lived in a van or in Africa, and we’ve shared some of the best adventures ever together. We drove across the country with a brake missing. We’ve also had to carry each other through stressful jobs, tragic news, and rough transitions, and we’ve been experiencing the excitement of getting married and talking about what sort of family we want to build.

There’s absolutely nobody I would rather be sharing this amazing and often ridiculous life with than my best friend. I’ve told her again and again that so many others become better people just by being around her, and I get to benefit from that the most by being around her the most.

I Love you, Hun. Thanks for saying yes to me on the Goleta Pier four years ago. I think it’s worked out pretty well.

#161 Grown Up BLT

09 June 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

BLTs are classic favorites, no doubt, and one of the best things to be eating when the weather gets this hot.

I wanted to try and come up with a recipe for perfect “grown-up” BLT. I tried thinking through what an upgrade to each of the main ingredients would be.

Bacon became uncured smoked bacon with pork rind flakes, though I was originally trying to get pork belly to work. Lettuce became a romaine salad cut with arugula. I kept some full tomato slices in but also added in some sundried aioli. And since the most obvious upgrade to a BLT is avocado, I threw on some, along with homemade mayo all on homemade sourdough bread.

#162 Fight

10 June 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

“Loving your enemy. Doing good things for evil people. Never taking vengeance. Responding to violence with nonviolent love– even if it brings suffering. These are not options, but the primary character traits of those who claim to follow a crucified God.”

–Preston Sprinkle, Fight

Now this was a thought-inducing read.

I don’t find many authors who tackle pretty weighty theological matters like violence as honesty and sympathetically as Sprinkle. This book had intellectual merit, while still coming across as very relatable.

For me, Christianity and nonviolence have always seemed to go together. Turning the other cheek and loving your enemy were distinguishing marks of the faith from its beginning. Then again, historical Christianity doesn’t seem to have a spotless record when it comes to that. And the Bible can be a pretty violent text at times.

Preston Sprinkle goes through by looking at the trajectory of scripture, era by era. It gets weighty at times, but it’s an important topic and this has been one of the more accessible approaches I’ve seen to some of these questions.

What I appreciated most was his apparent lack of an agenda. He definitely takes a stance and makes his understanding clear, but not in a way that recycles mantras and oversimplified arguments from cookie-cutter viewpoints. He stands for nonviolence, but not in a way that seems lost in empty idealism.

It was refreshing to see somebody unpack a issue in such an honest way. This book was written not to advocate a specific viewpoint, but to wrestle with some often-complicated questions.

#163 Kona Prep

11 June 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

My to-do list today was about twice as long as it usually is.

At the end of the day, I got it all done. Setting Beignet up with her babysitter. Packing my backpack. Getting a haircut.

It’ll all be worth it next week.

Kona, here we come.

#164 The Office Bar & Grill

12 June 2016 // Tacoma, Washington

After our travel plans went all wrong, we found ourselves unexpectedly in the middle of Tacoma with big appetites and some time to spare.

We found our way to The Office Bar & Grill on a quiet Sunday downtown. The outdoor seating was serene in the early summer and a perfect spot for people watching while mimosa sipping.

This place has a great happy hour… the fish and chips are pretty good, and I’m even more fond of their macaroni and cheese balls. Each was a pleasant surprise.

#165 Place of Refuge

13 June 2016 // Kalaoa, Hawaii

Getting to Hawaii was a long, wild, unexpected ride.

We’re here now though, and things are beautiful.

#166 Hookena Beach

14 June 2016 // Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

Hawaii routine: Wake up early, breakfast of guava toast or spam and eggs.

Beach in the morning. Play in the water a bit, snorkel, then sit, read, and sip on La Croix.

Come back for lunch, possibly a nap, and explore somewhere else.

Big dinner and family time at night, and call it a day.

#167 Nephews in Hawaii

15 June 2016 // Kalaoa, Hawaii

Swimming and boogie boarding with this kiddo marks the perfect start to summer.

I miss having my nephews close by. The six months in between Christmas and our Hawaii trip was the longest stretch of time I’ve gone without seeing them since they became a part of my life.

A week in Hawaii with the boys was great. And now I’m constantly counting down the weeks until I can move somewhere that allows us to see them much more often. Before they get a whole lot bigger. That’s a real race against the clock.

#168 Dolphins

16 June 2016 // Captain Cook, Hawaii

Deanna and I got to snorkel with dolphins around the Captain Cook monument and we had so much fun. It was most definitely mating season out there.

We kayaked out a couple miles to get to the spot. It was a good workout, but it was totally worth it. Being able to get really, really close to the dolphins was amazing.

The dolphins were pretty interesting, and so was the hippie mermaid who kept singing Joanna Newsom style while underwater. For obvious reasons, most people thought she was pretty nuts until her singing lured the dolphins towards her and she hitched onto one for a piggyback ride.

#169 Dinner at Huggos

17 June 2016 // Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

Huggos is one of the most noted restaurants in Kailua-Kona, and we got to grab dinner there on our last night in Hawaii.

I got to enjoy a Hawaiian inspired fettuccine and some guava braised ribs. Large order, I know, but I couldn’t decide between the two and figured it was a fancy enough occasion.

So thankful for this week.

#170 Lava Tubes

18 June 2016 // Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

Deanna and I had a full day, an island, and a rental car all to ourselves before we needed to get back to the mainland, so we figured we shouldn’t let it go to waste.

We spent most of the day eating and exploring Kailua-Kona, but before we left, we figured we should go check out a nearby state park.

On our way there, we got a bit sidetracked by some lava tubes. This is some of the newest land on the planet and we spent some time climbing through caves, tossing around weightless volcanic rock, and getting a glimpse of what the island would be like without people.

#171 The Mileage Club

19 June 2016 // San Francisco, California

Thanks to a couple of guest passes from Deanna’s dad, I got to enjoy a taste of life inside a airline mileage club lounge. In San Francisco the day of Game 7 of the NBA Finals no less.

We arrived early but got to grab coffee, bagels, and then a mimosa while people watching and working in some fancy recliners. It’s fun in here. I’ll have to pay better attention to all those travel-hacking blogs I follow to get back in here the next time I take a trip.

This summer, my focus will be on preparing myself for the end of grad school. Professionally, spiritually, personally. I’ll hope to do more copywriting, bulking up my portfolio before my job hunt goes full swing. (Seriously, if you need some writing done, send me a message!) I’m aiming to think and pray through what I’d want out of life after grad school and what my top priorities are. And of course, taking things a bit slower and enjoying the sun.

I won’t be doing a whole lot of travel this summer, which feels odd. Instead, I’ll be doing more short-term getaways around the Northwest since we may or may not get another summer here. We’ll also be hosting a lot of visitors which I always enjoy.

#172 Kare Kari

20 June 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

One of my cooking goals within my overall cooking project has been to learn some Filipino dishes. Sometime in the future, maybe I’ll set up a whole year-long project to actually get proficient at Filipino cuisine. In the meantime, figuring out a few go-to dishes sounds like a good idea.

Kare Kari is one dish I definitely wanted to be able to master. First off, oxtail is a real pleasure and it was fun to get to learn how to work with it. Tripe isn’t everyone’s favorite, but I like it and it allows me to live out my “use-as-much-of-the-animal-as-you-can” philosophy. Most of all, the peanut butter stew it’s cooked in is one of the most unique tastes across the spectrum of Filipino cuisine.

My first attempt wasn’t so bad! And for a cheaper option in the future, it can always be made with pork hock in lieu of the oxtail, and I do hope to make this again soon.

#173 Kare Kari Tacos

21 June 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I usually always pull for Argentina’s National Team whenever they play. Spending a semester in college made them my surrogate soccer country. There’s one massive exception to that, though, and it’s whenever they play my actual country. Tonight, I’m all for the underdog.

To throw in some more cultural mishmashing into this post, I whipped up some kari kare tacos, taking on a Filipino favorite, Mexican style.

And to tie it all together, the world of sports and the world of tacos, here’s a courtesy reminder to grab your free Taco Bell taco courtesy of the Warriors and the Calves.

#174 The Year of Living Danishly

22 June 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

“I am not important. If I take a break, no one dies. And this is A Good Thing.”

–Helen Russell

I wanted a light and fun, but deeply interesting read to bring on a summer trip, and this book turned out to be the perfect choice. It offered a pretty entertaining look at Danish culture and society, all through the lens of why they continually rank among the highest countries in terms of happiness.

I’m not too hard to please with a good book that takes on the premise of “I’ll try this out for a year and then write about it,” and this book fits that description to a tee. The writing is light and engaging enough to make it easy to fly right through its pages, yet contains enough statistics and odd facts to keep you intrigued. Did you know that Danish women can get an ovulation discount for booking their travel around a ripe time for them to procreate? I do now.

After a while you get the formula of each chapter: an anecdote, a few statistics, an interview with a randomly found “expert,” and the constant questioning of various Danes about how happy they are on a scale of 1 to 10. That said, the book manages to be pretty interesting in spite of its persistence upon this formula, so I suppose that’s a big win.

As far as Denmark goes? I could probably do without the tax rate (although, that comes with some major benefits), cultural homogeny, and the never-ending darkness come November, but there’s a lot about the Danish Way that I do appreciate. The lack of self-importance reflected in that earlier quote… I think that’s refreshing. And I love the way they’re able to enjoy their work. Not to mention the practice of hygge and getting all cozy as a sport.

#175 Fish Fillet

23 June 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Fish Friday struck a day early this week.

Seasonal cooking gets especially fun in the summer, when I move away from thicker, richer foods and have to think through how to use cooking to actually make something more refreshing. The zesty flavors that can go into a lot of fish items through herbs or citrus end up being one of my favorite summer tactics to rely on.

I’m so thankful our northwestern summer has finally come. Here’s to a weekend of the coast life.

#176 Astoria

24 June 2016 // Astoria, Oregon

I fell in love with the City of Astoria last weekend.

Peaceful is the perfect word for this city. It’s the ideal spot to walk around, get cozy in coffee shops, stare off into the ocean, and admire the views.

It’s got a history, a long and rich one, but it’s still fully alive in its gorgeous surroundings.

Small, but not too small, surprisingly good food all over the place, and it’s hard to argue with some of the stellar views this place has of both the ocean and the woods.

#177 Beignet Love

25 June 2016 // Seaside, Oregon

This dog was such a nutcase when we first adopted her. All puppy energy, no idea what to do with it.

Over the weekend, we took her with us to the Oregon Coast, which was the most dog-friendly trip I’ve ever taken. And the whole time, Beignet’s behavior was actually pretty exceptional. We haven’t even had her for four months and that’s made such a huge difference.

As a treat to our puppy for making good life choices, I tested out my long held hypothesis that her mind would be blown going into the ocean. My results at Seaside confirm my hypothesis.

#178 The Oregon Coast

26 June 2016 // Cannon Beach, Oregon

The Oregon Coast is pretty much amazing.

Thus far, all I’d really had the chance to see were Florence, Reedsport, and really small towns on the Central Coast, but I knew the good stuff was on the Northern Coast. Deanna and I went up to Astoria for our anniversary weekend and also spent some time in Seaside and Cannon Beach.

Man. These places were fun and quirky and gorgeous. I was surprised with how much good food there was on the coast. I was unsurprised about how pretty it was, but still impressed all the same. I’m glad we chose this as our destination for our first anniversary. Simple but great.

#179 One Year Anniversary

27 June 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Deanna, it’s been a year since we got married and having you as my wife has been beyond incredible.

Shortly before I got married, somebody told me that marriage is too fast. Seems kinda weird. How can a commitment you make that’s supposed to last you the rest of your life be too fast? Well, we’ve been married for a year as of today, and I get it. Slow down! Being married has been a big adventure, a long conversation, and a beautiful process.

Even though the year feels like it went by in a hurry (especially those first six months!), we’ve done so much together. Nashville and Johannesburg and Kona and New Orleans. A half marathon. Adopting Beignet. Discovering even more relatives. Hospital beds and bank accounts that run too low too quickly. Campsites and hiking trails and geocaches. Fast as it was, it’s been a very full year.

Happy anniversary, Mrs. Bun. I love being able to dream with you, to go places with you, to cook with you, to stay in and watch our shows with you, and to get even closer than we knew was possible.

#180 Vero Espresso Meeting

28 June 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I’m taking on as many communications projects over this summer as I can find! I’m in the process of trying to boost my portfolio and so I’m looking to take on copywrite projects, websites audits, and all good things.

Today I met with Eugene City Club to see how I can help them build up their outreach for sponsors. Looks like it’ll be a pretty good team up.

#181 Quelf

29 June 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Quelf! I don’t think I’ve played this game in years but I’ve just been reminded of how much fun it is.

These summer weeks are exactly what I’ve been needing lately.

Currently reading: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi… I’m only into the very early stages of the book but I already get what all the hype is about. People have been saying some very nice things about this generation-spanning novel of African and African-American family trees. I can’t wait to dig deeper.

Currently loving: Pok Pok’s drinking vinegar. I had a limited release black pepper flavor last weekend and now I wish that was one of the ones I could find in stores.

#182 If You Feel Too Much

30 June 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

“What if all those things that make up your story, the hard stuff and the good stuff, all the fears and dreams– what if all of it matters?”

– Jamie Tworkowski

I’ve been reading If You Feel Too Much by Jamie Tworkowski. Many of the essays and thoughts in this book were familiar pieces I’d already seen floating around online, but reading a bunch of them in succession was really kind of amazing. It accomplished it’s goal of painting a picture of life as an incredible, often difficult yet worthwhile thing.

This book lived up to my expectations. It lived up to its title. It was centered on the feelings of life, and in a very substantive way. It had a gritty edge along the side of its words.

This may come across as high praise for the book, and if it does, good. That’s what I mean it to be. This book made me want to write again. I know I already write a lot, but this reminded me so much about what I loved when I started turning thoughts into words.

Philippe Lazaro365