Birthday Fun

Since my birthday this year falls on a workday, the fun times got split up over several days. On Sunday (Adam’s first weekend out of school for the summer!) we had brunch at Mother’s, one of Portland’s best – Crabcake Eggs Benedict, Pecan Vanilla Cinnamon Rolls, Mimosas – and then walked it off on our first City Walk from a book I just got – 2-6 mile guided walks through each of Portland’s neighborhoods. It was a gorgeous sunny day and we discovered a beautiful ‘hood we never knew of before (old, old money…amazing architecture), and then we spent a couple hours at Powell’s. I collected some new political and historical works and expanded my library of Charlaine Harris novels.

Just a few moments ago this arrived (gorgeous Toby Pomeroy necklace from Mom and Alan! Yay!):

Today, I had lunch at the Heathman with Joanna (after she brought me lilies, wine, chocolate, and assorted other goodies). The menu included:

Roasted Pear and Cabecou Feuille salad (brandy macerated chevre grilled in a chestnut leaf, arugula, pomegranage vinaigrette and toasted almonds)
Lentil Soup with Ham and Fresh Herbs (me)
French Onion Soup with Swiss Gratin (J)
Malbec
Flourless Chocolate Torte with Ganache, Chocolate Praline, and Vanilla Bean ice cream (on the house, our prize for Joanna subtly slipping in the fact that it was my birthday as we were being seated)

And then after work I’m having a massage at Dosha. Tonight for dinner we’re having avocado and grapfruit salad with pork chops seared in hot pepper butter. Wow…I didn’t realize how food-centric this whole experience is. At least I exercised both weekend days. Adam says he doesn’t want me cooking on my birthday, but I don’t actually mind that much. It’s a pleasure to cook when you have good company (especially a good looking, interesting man) and no pressure. I think we’ll try to have a low-key evening, maybe drink some wine and watch a movie or something.

Thanks to everyone who sent me good wishes and/or in other ways made my day special!

Birthday Reflections

Today I turn 29. I feel resigned to it, and not completely terrible, mostly because Dana is already in her 30’s and she just keeps getting cooler, so I have hope. Maybe my 30’s will be way better than my 20’s (which weren’t bad). Entering the last year of my 20’s decade though has put me in a reflective mood this morning. I remember that when Dana turned 30, Brooks made a list of all the things she had accomplished that year, so I thought I would do that for myself (albeit not as poetically). In my 20’s, I:

Graduated from college
Went to grad school
Got married
Moved to LA
Moved to DC
Moved to Portland
Visited Rome
Made 3 amazing friends: Joanna, Liza, Becky

There were some sucky things (parents getting divorced, ca-RAY-zy in-laws), but I really did learn alot and grow up quite a bit through this stuff. So all in all I can’t complain. There are a lot of things to look forward to: this coming year is Adam’s last in law school. He’ll graduate before I turn 30. After that, we can buy a house. We can have or adopt babies (Joanna: “Babieeees!!”). I can go to grad school again (if I want to). We can travel a lot (Spain, Mexico, Scotland…). Etc. And I’m going to plan an awesome, amazing 30th birthday party. Oh, so Dana, be ready to fly somewhere for that.

Hot (Long Dead) Egyptian Guys in Skirts

I don’t know whether this is hedonistic or just embarrassing, but the other day I actually watched a certain Ben Stiller movie featuring a museum and various re-animated historical characters. I’d scoffed for a long time, but eventually I just couldn’t resist Attila the Hun (a common complaint, actually, now that I think about it, though not many others have been able to offer their surrender from the comfort of their couch). It was entertaining enough (or else I was just THAT BORED) that I immediately followed it up by watching the second one. I don’t give a fig for Ben Stiller, and Amy Adams was actually kind of annoying, but man, Hank Azaria ROCKS. Kha-mun-ra is now at the top of my list for favorite HA roles, along with his nearly naked gay cleaning guy from “The Birdcage.” Yul Brynner finally has a rival for my affections in the category of Awesomest Evil Egyptian Princes.

Weekend With Anna

Not long ago, Anna came to visit us for a weekend. In addition to taking her to Screen Door for brunch on Saturday, I thought we’d give the Northwest Professional Dance Project another go (one may recall that a certain MoTH had previously expressed difficulties with his Fall Program experience). This time I left my studious Neanderthal at home and had Girl’s Night Out with Anna (or, it was supposed to be GNO, except that by the time the show got out everything was closed except drinking establishments into which she would be unable to sneak, so we ended up going home and snuggling on the couch while eating homemade chocolate frosting and watching Bridget Jones’ Diary 2. I, at least, had the decency to put my frosting on a chocolate cupcake before eating it.)

We were both blown away by the program, however. The Spring Program had several pieces by eminent international choreographers, but we agreed that by far our favorite part of the show was the second half, choreographed by Portland’s own Sarah Slipper. It was powerful and entrancing and funny and beautiful. I left feeling very proud of Portland for claiming such fine talent.

Adventures in Kitchenland: My New Food Blog/Online Cookbook

cropped-spice_bazaar_saffron_and_curry2.jpg

Along with wine and music, food is one of the most hallowed of the Hedonist’s ventures. Probably the one common thread that unites me with all my best friends (besides intellectual brilliance and great beauty, of course) is a love of really good food – food that is close to nature, organic and local when possible, simply prepared, wonderfully nourishing, and shared among friends.

Good food features so prominantly in my life that I’ve started a blog devoted entirely to it – it’s mostly a compendium of great recipes that I’ve found or created or grew up with. I’ve moved all the posts on the former Food page over to the new blog:

Adventures in Kitchenland
http://jenaskitchen.wordpress.com

Here Be Dragons (Sharon Kay Penman)

here be dragonsIn the lull while I’m waiting for the next Maisie Dobbs book to come out in paperback, I’ve started reading a series I picked up LAST New Year’s in Seattle, by Sharon Kay Penman. I’m on the first one, Here Be Dragons, and totally loving it, not only because Plantagenet England was my first great historical love (before Rome, even), but also because Llewelyn’s sexiness is doing a fine job of comforting me in my Stratton-less state. I wish he had married someone with more gumption, but…he did it like 800 years ago so I guess there’s nothing I can do about it now.

Historical fiction can be wonderfully enlightening when done well, and I think Penman has done a fine job capturing the era and the people…and she’s making me want to read a bunch of REAL history now (not that that’s hard, it is my main interest after all – well, along with clothes and spa treatments – but when I could read novels instead, the historical monograph has got to be fairly intriguing.)

Spicy Dark European Drinking Chocolate – the New Reason to Live

Cacao drinking chocolateAnd by live, I don’t mean breathing in and out. That’s surviving. I mean live in caps drawn out with a huge deep breath,  like LIVE live.

I had the most amazing Hedonistic moment (or 30 moments) yesterday in the middle of the morning when I realized that what I really needed to do was take my lunch break NOW, by heading down the block with my new Maisie Dobbs novel to sit at the window-front bar at Cacao and sip a 2-oz. shot of their spicy dark drinking chocolate, a thick, creamy concoction that coats your throat with bittersweet chocolate, hot pepper, and ginger. So I did. I felt amazing and very grown up and European (which are some of my favorite ways to feel). And at $2 a shot, very practical as far as indulging in bliss goes, as well.