Gone Camping

We are elated when this time of year rolls around. Alas, we're finally headed to where the wild things are. Be back soon. XO



photo by
Pupil Photography

Last June I found myself "inconsolable" when the hard drive to my laptop crashed. Aside from losing years worth of photos, the single most valued possession contained within that processor was a food memoir we'd been working on. Having previously been contacted by a fancy (yet-totally-down-to-Earth) agent from New York, I was determined to get a book proposal and writing sample wrapped up and sent out to the other coast ASAP. In a span of six months I had become convinced that perhaps my childhood dream of getting published wasn't so far out of reach after all. As our families would say, "as with all things Ali and Evan, a scenic back road will be likely be taken."

Admittedly the process didn't come naturally to me, especially in comparison to the ease of writing a blog post. When writing for the book I struggled getting anything down on the page. I felt like I fought for every one of those sentences. To help us write, said Agent encouraged us to have a clear audience in mind, as well as a focus. Would this book be conventional? Used in the kitchen? Or pretty? Put on a coffee table? While I had the audience part down (ahem- I was hoping that would be all of you), Evan and I still weren't sure what the book was about. It felt weird thinking about writing a "Little Red Bike Cafe Cookbook," especially because at 1.5 years old, our cafe's story had yet to unfold. We knew we wanted a book that was beautiful, contained recipes, pictures and diagrams, but had stories, too. We wanted some depth to it. Perhaps a little fluff. We basically wanted to tell the story of us, and about where our journey thus far in life, and specifically with food, has taken us. While it seemed awful narcissistic to think others would care to read (let alone purchase) a book containing such information, we did feel confident that we had something to say, and more telling, a desire to try. Through our interaction with our customers and our blog readers, we also thought it was worth taking a chance to see if we were right. We decided to shoot for a food memoir; in our hearts we were hoping for something between the beauty of the perfect coffee table book, the functionality of a beloved edged-stained cookbook, and the heart-warming nature of a good read you keep by your bedside. This memoir contained bits and pieces from Evan's and my history, this blog, and recipes and stories from home, travels abroad, and our cafe. I was four months into my writing project when the hard drive seized and I lost everything. Every single word I'd written.

I was devastated. At the time I felt that "this is perhaps the most overwhelming thing that can happen to a writer." Eight days after I typed that sentence my mom suffered cardiac arrest, twice, and survived with her life after a 5% chance. Five percent. I'll never forget when the doctor made a number out of my mother's existence. Needless to say, I had a major shift in perspective. Losing my hard drive was nothing in comparison to the thought of losing my mom. As the months rolled by, the focus was on the health and well-being of our family and business. We threw everything we had into getting lost in the moment, and any thought of a future book was fleeting, and every memory faded. We bought a new hard drive and continued telling our story on the blog, despite how censored our writing had become due to formal courtesies and endless legal peacocking from an opposing team's side. Truth be told, I've always preferred writing on the blog, mostly because it feels...safe. I rarely feel harshly judged by my audience, and I have the pleasure of using the "delete comment" button if I completely disagree with your tone or point of view. Writing on a blog platform allows me so much more control than if I were to try and actually write an entire book. After the tanked economy, the cafe's flood, and my mom's cardiac arrest I just felt lucky that we had all survived. I didn't feel up to the task of trying to rewrite anything, and more so, I didn't want to take the risk of failing in a pursuit of getting known, of doing something more, or going after the success I desired. P.S. This is not a way to live.

Yet throughout this time I carried a nagging feeling that a story was developing, and had been doing so all along. Though I wasn't prepared and I was too anxious to tackle writing at the time, this didn't stop the story from continuing to grow and build, eventually creating the momentum that got us through those very last days of our business. It's the story that made our ambition of opening up a cafe successful, despite the loss along the way. I know I like writing this blog. But there is more to it: I enjoy being the storyteller, or how I see it, the voice of the story. Life changed when we closed the doors to the cafe. For one, we no longer had venue to outsource and exchange our creative energy. We do miss and crave that interaction but ultimately accept that leaving that building was in the best interest for everybody involved. We feel as though we were meant to start our business there, and were meant to end it there, too. But as with all things that we have experienced so far in life, we know that's not where our story ends.

It was this notion that motivated Evan to call the long-lost-agent in New York and spark her memory of a couple who owned a little cafe located on a peninsula on the other side of the coast. Despite the year long break in communication, she remembered who we were, and again encouraged us to explore the possibilities of writing a book. Furthermore, she suggested we look beyond the confines of just Little Red Bike Cafe's customers as our sole audience. We were all in agreement that while the cafe was surely an important chapter in the history of our lives, the book would still need to resonate as a page-turner after this fact. In other words, the show must go on even when the cafe's future remains uncertain.

I feel really blessed to have the insight of this agent, we'll call her Agent K., because she is extremely gifted at filtering our ideas. Much like a flour sifter, she's able to refine the thought process into what will eventually create the tastiest product. I'm keeping her anonymous because right now we're just in the beginning stages of courting one another, seeing where this leads. That said, her input during the process has been invaluable, and she's the very reason why I'm writing this blog post today. Agent K. reminded me that not everybody who reads the blog ate at the cafe. She went on to explain that there will have to be something else that draws our readers in besides the sheer existence of the food establishment. It's a voice; a picture; a story; a connection. Quite obviously, I feel it is my duty to tap into this connection so that you may enjoy reading and experiencing food from our perspective, as much as we enjoy relaying it. My goal over the next three months is to sit down and produce a writing sample for a book. As before, more food memoir than just cookbook. This would not be a recreation of what was lost, but instead will be a completely new attempt. I'm excited about the potential of this project because it no longer feel like a task or a risk to write. This time around it feels more like a redemption--quite simply, the time has come. There. I wrote it. We have officially put it out there: we're working on a book.

In writing the outline I'd like to enlist the help of the blog readers. Specifically I'm dying to know what your favorite cookbooks are. For starters think about the best cookbooks, coffee table books, and food memoirs--what makes them your favorite? What are some lacking? What do you consider essential about a cookbook? Are you a person that just wants to look at the pictures? Stretch your minds even further, try to imagine that you've never heard about us, seen our pictures, or read this blog (what a sad world that would be). What would make you pick up a book about us, if you didn't know us? Basically what I'm asking here is, if Evan and I are setting our sights on writing a cookbook: "What would you want to know? See? Taste? Feel?"

I know that seems like an awful lot to chew at but we'd greatly appreciate your participation in this excercise. I know there are many readers who don't often comment (or comment at all), don't like public comments, or don't understand how to correctly leave a comment (hi Mom!), so I encourage you to send us an email (littleredbikecafe@gmail.com) with your questions, thoughts, and ideas regarding your thought on the substance of a great book. Please do not hesitate to voice your opinion. I ensure you we will read and discuss every one thoughtfully and together. Thank you for indulging us. We can't wait to read the responses.


Meet Plate and Pitchfork

Delane was the first to get in touch, leaving a message on my home machine asking if I wanted to help out in the re-launch of the Plate and Pitchfork season. But really Delane found out through an email from her sister Memry, that was originally a forward from Erika Polmar, the creator of the aforementioned and insanely popular farm-to-table dinner series, that some extra hands were needed for a private event. It truly was a fantastic game of communication tag, which produced fabulous results. After a few more conversations a plan was set forth. Come Monday Delane, Memry, and I would pack into the car and head to Dundee, Oregon to help the people behind Plate and Pitchfork put on a private party. And boy, do these guys know how to throw a party.

While not technically a Plate and Pitchfork dinner, the event gave the P&P team a perfect opportunity to get creative with one of their favorite chefs before the official start of the Plate and Pitchfork dinner season. Eighty-one guests dined alfresco and family-style, nestled between rows of grapes on the hills of the Domaine Drouhin Vineyard, a property which contains arguably the most spectacular mountain and valley views of any vineyard in the Willamette Valley. The dinner was prepared by Chef Benjamin Bettinger from Beaker & Flask. He's the man you see pictured below, deboning a fillet of Chinook salmon. Please notice the adorable sprig of lavender behind the ear. I ask you to take note not because it's an undeniably cute touch to Ben's whole "hey look at me, I'm cooking outdoors" shtick, but more so because it speaks directly to Ben's friendly, approachable, and easy-going nature. He was completely at ease throughout the entire evening, and I couldn't help but notice that the more time I spent around him, the more inclined I felt to call him "Benny," just like the rest of his brigade.

Chef Ben Bettinger of Beaker and Flask

In terms of ego, Ben is not a "big personality" chef; however Ben is a big personality when it comes to heart. His passion for food is evident, but he oozes a sense of cool and charm while directing the show, never one to keep himself from getting lost in the moment, or from laughing at a joke. It was a pleasure to watch him work, and I now understand why so many are not only smitten with "Benny's" food, but with the man himself.

As previously mentioned, the dinner was presented by Plate & Pitchfork. Everything I once suspected about this organization I can now confirm is true. P&P was created eight years ago by a woman who is as passionate about good food as she is about ecological sustainability. Aside from teaming up with local farms, chefs, and winemakers, a portion of the proceeds from the farm dinners have always been given back to supporting organizations doing good in the community, particularly those supporting small farms, environmental literacy and food security. Erika and her team, including the resilient Hannah Treuhaft, literally make magic happen in these fields every summer, and I feel damn lucky to have been able to peek behind the scenes to see how it all goes down.

Before we arrived, a long row of tables were set and dressed in crisp white linens, perfectly poised plates and silverware, and finished with mason-jar candle holders and plenty of stemware. For this particular party there were three pours of wine per course from some of the area's best and most interesting winemakers, specifically Brooks, Domaine Drouhin, and Montinore. The setting could not have been more perfect, and the weather was cooperating, providing us with clear views of the mountain and valley for miles. The end result was one fabulous evening. This evening, in this setting, paired with the food and staff, showcased what we're all about in the Pacific Northwest. I found it to be an incredible tribute to our local area, and I felt proud as I listened to the out-of-town guests express a loss of words over what they were experiencing. Needless to say, Oregon made a very fine impression on this particular group, who hailed from all across the country including Texas, South Carolina, and New Jersey.

The menu was impressive, especially when you consider everything is being finished, plated, and served outdoors. I have now eaten Ben Bettinger's food both indoors and outdoors and I'll be damned if one can tell a difference between the two as far as quality is concerned. Here's what was served, and what leftovers we staff later devoured:

Grilled Romaine, Smoked Feta, Salsa Verde
2007 Brooks Ara Riesling
2007 Montinore Estate Gewürztraminer
2008 Domaine Drouhin Oregon Chardonnay Arthur

Chinook Salmon, Lentil Salad, Marinated Cucumbers, Roasted Tomato Aioli
2007 Brooks Janus Pinot Noir
2007 Domaine Drouhin Oregon Pinot noir Willamette Valley
2008 Montinore Reserve Pinot Noir

Roasted Lamb Shoulder, Lamb "Marmalade," Summer Vegetables and Romesco
2006 Brooks Rastaban Pinot Noir
2006 Domaine Drouhin Oregon Pinot Noir Cuvée
2008 Montinore Estate Cataclysm Pinot Noir

Summer Berry Crostata with Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream
Portland Roasting Coffee

The service went very smooth and graceful, especially from the perspective of the diners, which is all that really ever matters. Our personal interaction with the diners was casual but genuine, with a focus on quality and attentiveness. Once the diners left it was up to the kitchen staff to clean-up their section, and then the P&P team really went in to action. Do not let me glamorize this job for you. The Plate and Pitchfork crew works hard for their money. Clearing tables, gathering linens, sorting rentals from private property, breaking down and loading tables and a mobile kitchen, including a bus station where the "dishwasher" consists of a couple of bus tubs and water jugs, is not easy work. Let alone doing it in the dark, using headlights, lanterns, stars, and the glow of the moon as your only sources of light. I'm letting you in on this part of the evening to let you know that there is an incredible amount of thought and effort that goes into producing such an elaborate event outdoors, and both as a professional in the food industry and someone who cares deeply about the world I'm living in, I deeply admire all that Erika and her team do. Whether you are able to attend a Plate and Pitchfork event as a guest (if you can manage to get a ticket before they sell out!) or as a volunteer, you can feel good about supporting this group of dedicated individuals. Their mission is to promote sustainability, create change, and fill your belly at the same time. What's not to love? Oh, and I should mention that they're also really funny, down-to-earth, and have really good taste in food and wine.

Fortunately for me the evening's good food didn't have to end after we left the vineyard. You see, there were so many leftovers from the night's festivities that I was "forced" to take food home with me. Truth be told I couldn't wait to share the deliciousness with Evan because I knew he'd love to utilize my haul for breakfast. In the morning, in true LRBC fashion, we made this meal our own by topping it with a fried egg.

Roasted Lamb and Summer Vegetable Hash
with fried egg, seeded toast, and roasted tomato ailoi
(finish w/ Aardvark, if you're in our house)

Yeah, it was pretty wild to be feasting on lamb so early in the morning, a decadence that I think we'll rarely top. Many thanks to my girls Delane and Memry, who always make the trip worth it, and to Plate and Pitchfork, Chef Ben Bettinger and his staff, and the generous people at Brooks, Domaine Drouhin, and Montinore. It was an honor to be in your company on such a fine summer evening. I know I won't be forgetting about this one any time soon.


"Where You'll Find Me"

We seem to run into a lot of familiar faces around the neighborhood, all inquiring where and when we're going to reopen our business. The people at the local branch of our bank were some of the most inquisitive, playfully demanding the return of fried egg sandwiches to take precedent over us enjoying any "free time."

As anxious as we often find ourselves, desperate for the answer to that and many other questions regarding the state of our future, we are also reminded of the fact that this is a rare and delightful time in our lives; an opportunity to sit back (save money) and enjoy life. While we have become painfully aware of our abrupt change in income, we also feel wealthy with the amount of activity and productivity we've accomplished since shutting the doors to the cafe. It has been awhile since we have had the luxury of having extra time on our hands. We are trying to spend this time very wisely as we are surely in the middle of embracing one of life's important lessons: time is worth more than money.

Therefore we are trying to keep the present in mind, rather than focusing too hard on the future. Making the most of the present means asking yourself this question:"What do I want to do for fun?" Answering this question at first felt daunting--specifically because it came coupled with the fact that we were no longer "Ali and Evan, owners of Little Red Bike Cafe," simply "Ali and Evan."

Our abrupt shift in lifestyle has had some extraordinary results.

To start, as of last Friday I am three weeks cigarette free. Or as I'm looking at it, $18 richer, with healthier lungs, and noticeably dewier, glowing skin.

We've honed in on Farmers' markets for multitasking. We like biking there and making plans to meet friends. You can exercise, socialize, support a good cause, and grab goods for an affordable dinner at home all at the same time.

We made a pledge to not dine out during the month of July* in hopes of becoming more conscious of where and how we spend our money. In doing so we were forcefully reintroduced to our home kitchen. We spent a day cleaning out the fridge and pantry, organizing the Tupperware and shelves, and scrubbing down the stove, oven, and tile. A mess that took approximately three years to create vanished on a Saturday afternoon with the help of four hands, a little elbow grease, and plenty of bluegrass music. While I miss the days of dressing up and going out on the town, I am also finding pleasure in cooking at home, bumping hips with my husband as we canoodle over a hot stove. For lack of a better phrase, walking into our kitchen now feels like a breath of fresh air-- a combination of cooperation, inspiration, and success.

After tackling the kitchen, the rest of our home was next. We systematically went through the home room by room, creating boxes along the way: "TRASH," "GOODWILL," and "SELL." In all honesty, our home hasn't been this clean or organized since the day we moved in. Imagine this, if being in the kitchen now feels like a breath of fresh air, the rest of our home feels like a dead tree has just been removed from our path. We were also taught an incredibly valuable lesson from the buyers at Buffalo Exchange and Powell's Books when we went to sell some of our wares: Our taste in literature will always prove more valuable than our sense of fashion.

Speaking of literature, we're both reading again. This feels nice, and remarkably cheap in comparison to the video rentals that inevitably included a late-fee charge. Evan's currently picked up my ninth grade copy of Mandelbaum's translation of "The Odyssey of Homer" (complete with my personal notes, such as--"Athena wants to get the show on the road" and multi-color hi-lighted passages). I'm thumbing through Elizabeth Gilbert's "Committed," and Gretchen Rubin's "The Happiness Project"(obviously someone is doing some soul searching--ahem).

We've also put a great deal of effort towards taking in physical activity every day. After spending over 1,000 days standing on our feet we were looking forward to returning to a more active lifestyle. For Evan this means early morning rides to make the rounds at coffee shops, or to meet friends at Portland's International Test Rose Garden for thermoses of French press coffee, and prosciutto and butter sandwiches. For me this means daily does of cardio (think: biking, hiking, and walking) paired with a combination of stretching and sculpting yoga postures. The ultimate goal of these practices is to wake up feeling as good as possible. While the added benefits of weight loss, fitness, and flexibility are a bonus, putting our bodies to use again, after what seemed like an eminent time of hibernation, is the greatest relief of all. To feel our muscles tighten and stretch, to notice the pulsing of blood from our hearts, through our veins, shooting oxygen through the rest of our body, to feel ourselves getting stronger, well...that feels indescribable. Simply put, it's what feeling alive feels like.

Lastly, we've officially learned that the beach really isn't that far away. The 1.5 hour car-ride will melt from your memory the minute you (get out of the car) smell the salt in the air. Promise.

So when people ask us, "What have you been doing?" Here is the gist of it:

Picture us: Packing bunches of basil in backpacks on our bikes, throwing rocks on the sand for the dogs, talking to tarot card readers and walking through the woods, sipping espresso, and reading Thich Nhat Hanh and James Joyce, barefoot on the bluffs of the Peninsula, catching up with a friend over a frosty beer, nestled at home hawking LRBC t-shirts via USPS and treasures via craigslist, eating homemade cinnamon rolls and edamame pesto out on the patio.

But if we're not accomplishing any of these things then we're probably busy working on the next project.

More on that when the time is right.

*with the exception of birthdays, anniversaries, and/or food from carts/shops that equates to <$6/person (not including tip).



"The T-shirts are in! The T-shirts are in!"

Yes, it's true Folks. After listening to your demands we put in an order for additional t-shirts. Now you can be the proud owner of a limited edition LRBC t-shirt. The shirts are printed on American Apparel's tri-blend track shirt; you know, the soft and fuzzy cotton that feels like a vintage shirt?

Shirts are available in two colors: grey and athletic blue, and feature the popular bicycle design from our friend Keegan of One Foot In Front.

Shirts are available in Small, Medium, Large, and Extra Large*
(*grey only)

Ordering shirts is easy, just follow these two steps:

1. Send an email to: littleredbikecafe@gmail.com with your name, address, a phone number where you can be reached, and a description of your order (quantity, size, and color). Please put "I WANT A T-SHIRT" in the subject line of your email.

2. Upon receiving your email we will verify your order and send you a confirmation email with payment instructions. We are selling the shirts for $25 each, and each order will include a free copy of the LRBC zine, which includes photos, stories, recipes, and more ($3 value).

What are you waiting for? Don't delay! Make the most of your summer by sporting a cool new t-shirt from North Portland's most beloved cafe.


Onward and Upward!

This is the last picture taken of us at 4823 North Lombard St.

To put it lightly, it was difficult to say goodbye.

Our last three days there were spent removing the final details of what we had built, piece by piece, out of the space. We got a local food shelter to come and pick up the last of our pantry. Our parents helped us scrub, sweep, vacuum, dap, paint, pack, and eventually haul away the remains of our business to a storage facility located 0.8 miles from where our cafe was located. On the day we met the property manager to turn over the keys, I exhaled sobbing into Evan's arms in the bathroom, feeling shattered and defeated.

Later I would admit to myself that this was an odd and particularly cruel place to succumb to such an emotional impasse. I hated that bathroom. It was a seed that was planted on the very first day we signed the lease, and continued to grow through three years of graffiti, perpetually clogged toilets, drug addicts, and the stifling stale stench of a public restroom, a failing mix of fruity cleanser and bleach, made all the worse by old pipes, and an over-used facility.

Here's the good news: I never have to be in that bathroom, or at that address ever again. If I don't want to.

That is to say, that after three years this finally became an option for me. You know, to actually choose not to enter a space that gives me the creeps in order to plunge some one's shit.

I find this fact liberating.

I asked Evan the other day, as we drove by 4823 N. Lombard St. and locked eyes with that all too familiar awning, brick-facade, and large windows,

"How long do you think it's going to take before we don't look over and consider it 'Ours'?"

"Forever." he replied.

"Forever? Really?" I blurted out, astonished he said this fact so calmly.

"Yes, I think that place will always have a piece of our hearts," was all he had left to add.

I find this fact slightly less liberating.

The truth is, we want what's best for 4823 N. Lombard St. because we loved that space. We brought life back to a kitchen and cafe that needed a pulse, and gave ourselves a tremendous sense of purpose along the way. Further, we live in the neighborhood and want what's best for our friends and community, and having another thriving business in that location would ultimately be the best case scenario.

I will miss that space. But there are also many things--the sad, hostile, and painful memories attached to the process of learning how to become a restaurateur in three years, that I won't miss, and that I decided to remove from my life the day we gave back the keys.

I'm not going to lie. The first few days after the fact came as an absolute shock. I think Evan and I were both bewildered and in doubt over our new unemployment. Which by the way, however odd this may seem, seemed to creep up on us.

Up until this point so many people were asking us, "So...

...What are you going to do?"

...Where are you going on vacation?"

...How long till you're dreaming up the next business?"

To which we replied, with full honesty intact:

"We're not there yet. We haven't really even given it much thought."

To us, the three years we spent operating that space felt like a lifetime. It was two years of non-stop effort and creative force that led us to pursue our dream of opening up a restaurant in our hometown, and another three years devoted to seeing our idea flourish. The act of having its potential cut short, particularly during the peak of its existence, left my partner and I feeling like we wanted to devote every last ounce of ourselves into giving that business a proper farewell. In other words, we were not quite ready to move on. Therefore the thought of planning the next business, or treating ourselves to a nice vacation were the last things on our mind.

Evan and I spent the last six months of that business scrambling, trying to find it a perfect new home. We spent week after week scheduling meetings, making appointments, doing viewings, all in search of the second (albeit original) "Little Red Bike Cafe." When our search for the ideal relocation failed to turn up anything we felt the urgency to jump on, we learned in the process that the cafe we created 0.4 miles from our very home was an incredibly unique enterprise. One that seemed to exist because it was in the right place, at the right time, with the right mix of food, music, good looks, fanaticism, and heart. I will go as far as to say that while we looked for a new place to reopen "LRBC 2.0" we began to wonder whether or not such a place exists. Evan and I began to doubt whether it would be possible to just pick up our existing business and plop it down someplace else like nothing happened. Rather than feel pigeon-toed by the confines of this particular business, we began to extend our property search and look at new opportunities for different kinds of businesses and projects. Opportunities that before appeared out of reach because the scope of our frame was initially far too limited.

We decided that in order for us to feel confident that our pursuit was both best for our business and our own happiness, we would need to broaden our perspective.

Doing so meant getting away. Which is what that "No Service" post was all about. By the time we finished our last obligation to LRBC, Evan and I were suffering from broken hearts and an identity crisis to boot. We struggled to understand who were were without our business and accolades, the support of staff and customers, and lastly this blog. To point out the obvious, Evan and I had multiple conversations about what to do with the blog. Continue writing? And if so, as what? As whom?

We set off for a small fishing cabin situated along the Metolius river in central Oregon, to try and discover the answer to some of these, and life's other complexly woven lessons. This fishing cabin is in our family, and is considered to be an incredibly sacred sanctuary by all whom are willing to make the trek. Having experienced its healing magic time and time again, we knew it was the prefect spot to rest our weary bones.

Our days revolved around splashing in the river with the dogs, reading, writing, and philosophizing on the deck, and biking around the loop that takes us through red-dirt roads, bubbling streams, and the unmistakable sweet, dry scent that makes you aware you're in the presence of a patch of majestic Ponderosa pines. We also spent a fair share of time nurturing our love affair with the kitchen. It felt good to be back behind a hot stove after what felt like ages. We were happy to have the company and attention of loved ones as we tried finding a way back to ourselves through black bean taco salad, Greek breakfast scrambles, poached egg and bacon sandwiches served on Evan's flaky buttermilk biscuits, toasted hazelnuts crushed over market lettuce with goat cheese and and roasted beets, served just before the pork kebabs with cream-braised cabbage and steamed cider-vinegar kale. Later we'd soul search over orzo layered with fresh ricotta, summer tomatoes, and walnuts, and roasted veggie and avocado meatloaf sandwiches slathered with apricot jelly. Nights were devoted to movies and games of Scrabble, with late night toasted s'more experiments and peanut butter hot chocolates. And then finally, whenever we could find the time, we slept. And slept. And slept some more.

The day before we shut the doors to our business one of our favorite customers (yes, we do and we are allowed to have favorites) approached me at the register with a parting gift, a framed copy of one of our dinner menus containing one of my favorite Virginia Woolf quotes,

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well."

We wholeheartedly adopted this belief during our stay at the cabin, and I know we certainly would have made Colin (said customer) extremely proud.

Our diligence in taking care of ourselves and examining our situation has paid off. We feel as though we are more informed and excited as ever about the plethora of possibilities out there. Rather than viewing our situation as something that has been taken away from us, we continue to implore each other every day to use our experience as a stepping stone, to move forward with an effort and creation that is better than that which was lost.

What other vital information has been discovered, processed, and implanted in our brains during this journey of re-self discovery? Well, we're still figuring that out. For the time being we are just trying to take 'er easy. We are finding joy and successes in other areas of our lives. Like birthdays, sunrise bike rides, day trips to the beach, and quitting smoking after 15+ years.

Because life is not about who you were, it is about who you are becoming.


All Grown Up

The little girl you see pictured above is having a birthday tomorrow. She looks a wee bit different now, than she did when the picture was taken. You know her as the creator of this blog. To me she is a writer, chef, photographer, comedian, artist, dancer, partner, best friend, and love of my life.

Feel free to leave her a happy birthday wish by adding a 'comment' below.


The Unemployment Files: Episode IV

soaking it all in at Heart Coffee Roasters

Up just after 6:00 am this morning. The dogs were not a step behind me when I got out of bed. They have me trained pretty well these days. Upon entering the kitchen I opted to make their feeding my number one priority, knowing that I would be able to go about my own business without being bothered once I had done so.

on the porch outside the Courier Coffee roastery

With my masters' needs met (bathroom break included), I stumbled into our bathroom and brushed my teeth, simultaneously sending Tim a 'good morning' text to ensure that he was up and ready to roll. Within minutes I was dressed and out the door, welcomed by a glorious summer morning. Today was to be my first trip to the Coava Coffee retail location/tasting room in SE Portland.


I'm going to be brief, 'cause the cafe is downright gorgeous and worthy of a return visit (with a real camera and a subsequent blog post to follow, of course). From our house in North Portland I was able to reach the cafe in Southeast quite leisurely via bicycle (for all you neighbors out there, just take N Willamette Blvd/N Greeley Ave/N Interstate Ave/Eastbank Esplanade/SE Main St and SE Grand Ave and you're there!). Tim beat me to the shop, where we enjoyed delicious espresso (Ethiopia Sidama, Ardi) and two custom-pour over coffees (Colombia, Monserrate and a new arrival from Kenya).


From Coava we rode to the Courier Coffee Roastery at SE 40th and Hawthorne, after which, we made our way to Heart Roasters, at 22nd and E Burnside. Upon reaching Heart I noticed that my morning's 'free' time was running short, though prior to riding home we were able to enjoy a brief conversation, and more coffee, while taking in the morning sun (I enjoyed a lovely espresso, Guatemala, Santa Barbara).

Another epic early morning in Portland, in the books.


The Last Pasilla Aioli

Though this fact was already alluded to in a previous post, I wanted to take a moment to let all of you Zoobomb addicts out there know that the last of the pasilla aioli is currently being consumed here...

...by the very same people who first introduced you to this magical mayonnaise spread. If you're anything like me (and I know many of you were), you loyally indulged in this stuff every time you visited the cafe. After nearly four months of regular helpings, I had to cut myself off from egg sandwiches in order to calm my cravings for that mouth watering orange-hued condiment. If it's any consolation, please know that the final few dollops are thoughtfully being consumed while we wax poetic about the many joys, trials, and tribulations we faced throughout the short history of the LRBC.

If ever there was a place to lay the pasilla aioli and other memories to rest, this is it. We awaken each morning to the sound of the wind rushing through tall pine trees, the constant but gentle tremble of water rushing over rocks in the nearby river bed, and melodic thumping of woodpeckers eagerly searching for their morning meal. This is truly a place for reflection and renewal, and we're doing our best to channel the phoenix as we continue to contemplate the next chapter...slowly.