As David Bowie so harmoniously sang about…

My life has seen so many positive changes since the Sweet Boy and I moved west. I blogged about the most important… well… most sentimental one last month. The other changes have just fallen into place.

No pomp.

No circumstance.

Just changes slowly seeping into how we do things and ever so slowly changing the course of our future. They feel good and I’m soaking them in with each moment I have.

If you’re anything like me, you’re eagerly awaiting the portion of this post where I start listing these changes. While I’m excited to share them with you, I do have to warn you, no change involves a cross country move (been there, done that) they don’t involve a baby (haven’t been there, not sure if we’re going to do that), and we haven’t bought our first house. If you speed read your blog feed for major happenings, move along, nothing to see here.

However, if you enjoy sharing in the real life that makes up the every day, you’ve come to the right place. And without further delay, the list (in no particular order):

1) In the past week, I’ve walked a total of 10 miles in addition to the miles I spend on my feet at work. These are miles walked out of necessity (like those ones I walk at work), but rather miles walked because of a conscious decision to improve my health My blood pressure has been high the past two times I’ve had it checked. The first time was an introductory course into bad news from the doctor. The second time saw me rolling my eyes at my own stupidity. High BP is the silent killer… right? Time to take the warning seriously and hit the trails. There are so many around Portland and I’m lucky to live just a few intersections away from Glendoveer Golf Course which comes with a 2 mile trail. I can swing by on my way home from work and in 40 minutes, I’m 2 more miles closer to a healthier future.

2) The Sweet Boy accepted a new job a couple of months ago. The 2nd paycheck for our house means we are finally on a 3 year track to have all credit card debt (and one vehicle) paid off. I keep talking about it and I know the Sweet Boy is surely sick of hearing it but it feels SO good to comfortably be heading that direction. When we were both working for a non-profit, we were uncomfortably paying down this debt and by uncomfortably I mean that for every bill we paid, we had to turn around and use the card again because all of our cash went to the bill. It’s that cycle everyone who has been in this position can relate to but we’ve finally broken it and I might just throw a party to celebrate.

In three years, of course.

3) I’m making the food I put in my mouth. Sounds simple enough, but it isn’t. Since moving to Portland, I’ve put on weight. It could be stress that comes with a move like this, or the new job, or the breweries that dot this town, or the amazing restaurants, or the… I’ll stop there. Excuses are too easy to fall back on and they allow for bad decisions to be made time and time again. If I was tired when I got home from work, we ordered pizza (and this town is full of good pizza) or picked up Chinese food or dropped in to visit my new favorite Thai restaurant. Don’t get my wrong, I haven’t abandoned those places, but I don’t care to visit them more than a few times a month. Making my own food allows me to control what I put in my mouth and makes more sense financially.

Also, I LOVE cooking, so it is a win win.

It gets hard when I’m tired so I make sure and freeze leftovers as soon as we’re done with dinner so food won’t go bad and I’ll have something quick to reheat on those nights when just driving home uses up whatever energy I’m left with at the end of the day.

There you have it.

Changes.

Positive changes.

Each one of the items above will lead to great things. Better health, fitting into my smaller clothes again, and financial freedom (and moving into a cozy bungalow closer to the idea neighborhoods in Portland). I can’t wait to keep everyone updated on my progress. It will keep me accountable and hopefully keep you inspired to make your own positive changes.

What changes have you seen in your life lately? I’ve love to hear about them.

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A Pretend Summary


Since it’s been what seems like 3 years since my last blog post (okay, half a year, but who’s counting?) I really should give you a good summary of what’s been going on since I last checked in.

But that sounds hard… doesn’t it? How do you summarize the past 6 months in an entertaining but expedient way?

You don’t.

So I’ll just give you this, we’ve hiked, we’ve sampled local beer, we’ve explored new neighborhoods, we’ve day dreamed about buying a cute house in a cute neighborhood walking distance to pubs and coffee houses, we’ve realistically day dreamed about the actual house we can afford and would it be close enough to public transportation to take a train to a pub or coffee house, we payed next to nothing for a gorgeous, fresh cute Christmas tree because Pacific Northwest and we got married.

Yup. A wedding happened. Last November to be exact. My old employer was flying me in for a week of training with my replacement so The Sweet Boy bought a plane ticket to go home with me and over the course of that week, we had a wedding. I’m not going to lie, it was hectic to put together on short notice, I was stressed, we had a TERRIBLE time shopping for wedding rings (I need to do a post about how the malls in Portland are always packed like it’s Black Friday – can someone explain that to me?) and his wedding outfit didn’t come together until the week of…

but it was the perfect wedding.

It was absolutely beautiful. I told my sister I thought it would be awesome to have it outdoors near the river that our family land was on and she delivered. She found land RIGHT on the river with a view of a bluff (thanks Saddlebock Brewery for the free wedding location), she added the perfect vintage yet simple elements to add to the gorgeous natural backdrop and she surprised us with live music from Brick Fields as we walked down the aisle (they sang “Into the Mystic” and it was beyond beautiful). After the day was over, all I was left with was how perfect the day was. The only way it could have been better was if the timing allowed my brothers to be there.

So I’m married now. No, I don’t know when I’m legally changing my name. I did change it on Facebook, which is close enough to legal these days… right? We received some appliances from friends near and far to make it official (I’m not sure it’s a marriage without a new food processor and espresso machine). We filed taxes jointly for the first time (hello tax benefits for married peeps). We like this married thing.

I like this married thing.

It’s cool.

Let’s Talk Hawg

DISCLAIMER
his post is all about BBQ which means it’s all about meat which means it might not appeal to you.
That’s why I don’t have a picture.
I looked for a picture of a hawg, but really, all of the pictures were of cute little piggies.
Deep down, I felt bad about that.
Sorry.

I would like to take a moment from your day to discuss BBQ/BarBQ/Barbecue/Heaven on a plate/MEAT… whatever you want to call it, I’d like to discuss it.

You see, BBQ is very important to someone from Texas.  I might even go as far as to say it had it’s own place on the food pyramid.  Some people even consider eating good BBQ a religious experience (if you’ve been to Black’s Barbecue in Lockhart, TX then you probably agree).  No matter your opinion, some smoked meat with white onions, pickles an white bread is good eatin’!

I was lucky in my move to Fayetteville, AR.  BBQ is plentiful there and you get a good mix of origins.  Texas is represented with beef and sausage, KC has their representation, the dry rub movement from Memphis has a good showing, Pulled Pork from out east is just about on every menu and a few places have vinegar and white sauces from the Carolinas.  You might even say my move to Arkansas dramatically expanded my BBQ pallet.

I even started eating that stuff on a baked potato.

Scandalous, I know!

Enter a move to Portland, OR.  This town is a foodies dream!  It has so many local, unique restaurants that the Sweet Boy and I have a heck of time picking out a place for dinner.  Do we want Ethiopian food tonight?  Lebanese?  Indian?  Italian?  Burgers?  Pizza?  If pizza which kind of pizza?  Chicago style?  Wood fired?  Brick oven?  New York style?!?!  I hate to say it, but it’s maddening.

What there isn’t, however, is a plethora of BBQ.  At least, not that I can tell.  Sure sure, there are BBQ places scattered throughout.  But upon further inspection at work (i.e. – asking around to see what places come recommended), it seems as though many places might not be worth the swipe of our debit card.  Thankfully, though, two places have risen to the top of the recommended places to go list.  Podnah’s Pit BBQ and Russell Street BBQ.

So here’s my challenge to myself (written in 3rd person to actually sound like someone is challenging me, but not to sound like I’m crazy):  Don’t be scared of the new BBQ places.  Go eat there.  See what Portland has to offer when it comes to smoked meats.  Write reviews about it here on the blog.  Surely, between the two of you, you can be a good judge of quality BBQ.  Don’t crinkle your nose just because the pulled pork sandwich is $12 here when you could have got it for $4 back in Arkansas.

Guys, HAWG is pricey here.

The End.

NO WAIT – not the end.  I’d like to expand on that.  Did you know the cheap bacon I used to buy back home is almost $7 here?  I could have bought thick slab, peppered fancy bacon for that price in Arkansas.  They have valuable pigs in the Northwest.

Now it’s The End.

NO WAIT – still not the end.  Help me chose which BBQ place to try first.  Shall I go to Podnah’s Pit BBQ and see how Texan they really are or check out Russell Street BBQ first because they have a cute little piggy on their logo?  Podnah’s website looks a bit hipster whereas Russell Street does not… but who am I kidding?  They are both in Portland.  I’m sure both are equally hipster.  I’ll just pick one.  And ignore the hipsters because hipsters and BBQ don’t fit on the same puzzle in my world.

Okay, really, this time… The End.

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N’awlins

Whew!

I just flew back to Portland after a whirlwind trip to New Orleans for the annual IAVM conference.  It was my 4th VenueConnect and I feel that I finally have found my groove.  People know me, I know people, and I can make it through an entire conference with only 1 nap.

Just 1 nap!  Incredible.

Normally I’m excited about a conference because of the networking and educational opportunities.  This time, however, the location sat at the top of my list.  I 100% adore New Orleans.  It’s hot, muggy, smells a bit swampy (yes, I claim it’s swampy) but it is hands down the friendliest city I’ve visited.  The people there just love music, gulf seafood and hospitality.  Okay, okay, maybe they like an adult beverage or three.  But seriously, friendly is something they excel at.

It takes a while to truly start to see the heart of a city.  One trip there isn’t going to reveal such a treasure.  Two trips, maybe… maybe on the third time.  Maybe.

This time it took 4 visits for me to finally start to feel the vibe of this historical and culturally rich location nestled in the curve of the Mississippi River.  Well, 5 if you count the time I went there when I was 12 (but I don’t).

The first time was in 2008 – just a few years after Katrina.  We stayed in the French Quarter, went to a couple of concerts and I just about died from what I refer to as humidity suffocation.  I don’t think that’s a real thing but let’s roll with it.  It was a lovely trip but stressful.  I was with a lot of people and with a lot of people come a lot of decisions that aren’t up to me.  It was a good intro to New Orleans though.

The 2nd time was for a day before a cruise with my sister.  We dined, saw a few sites and then left.  Just like that.  Trip over.

The 3rd time was also for a cruise but the sweet boy and I went down a few days early.  Again, it was the typical tourist trip in the French Quarter, but something started to settle in me.  I was extremely disappointed to leave the city.  It called after me as we sailed down the river towards the gulf.  The jazz danced through my ears for days.  Memories of kicking back with a bloody mary and oysters stuck with me months after the trip was over.

I started to really love that city.

This last trip solidified it.  I played tour guide for a few coworkers who had either never been or had only been once.  I told them about the places I’ve visited as if they were old friends.  We ventured out to Frenchman to find some good music like it was something I did every Monday night.  I didn’t need a map to find where I needed to go.  I told the stories that define the history of the region as if I was writing a text book.  I also applied hot sauce to everything I consumed as if I was born on the bayou and raised to hunt muskrat.

Yes, I really love that city.

It’s a city of resilience, of love, of good times, of laughter, of sharing, of music and it truly is a good time.

So, what are you waiting for?  Pack those bags and head south!  You know you want to.

Did you come here looking for more info about the conference?  I hope I didn’t disappoint.  I’m sure I’ll blog about the networking and professional stuff later.  This post had to come first, though.  I can’t shake it.

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A disappearance

The water cooler in the office at work was missing this morning.

I was taunted by the row of delicious, refreshing, clean 5 gallon bottles of water.

My Nalgene bottle rested sadly in my hands… empty… full of so much untapped potential…lacking in the one thing I need in the morning besides coffee (don’t tell my doctor I’m drinking caffeine again).

It seems a crime has been committed and no one came forward… well, that is, until I asked someone about it.

Apparently, we were short exactly one water cooler for an event this week and sacrifices had to be made.  Sacrifices indeed.  I suppose room temperature tap water will have to do this morning.  I’m not sure when I became so spoiled that the lack of cool, crisp, water from the cooler left me stumped for at least 3 minutes this morning.

3

long

waterless

minutes!

A racap, if you will

Bad Erin.

BAD!

I know I should be blogging.  Here I am, during this MAJOR transition/growth period/wearing big girl pants part of my life and I have hardly uttered a word.  Well, written a word, I suppose, many a words have verbally been uttered.  I’ve noticed this before.  When I’m very happy and content with things, I don’t have much in the way of personal things to talk about.  I think I even wrote about that as a negative.  We should want to blog about the positive!

And man do I have some positive things to talk about.  Portland is 100% spectacular.  I mean, just look at that picture above.  That was taken a mere 18 minutes from my house.  YES, I said 18 minutes.  That’s not to say the move up here and transition into a new job was a piece of cake, but I feel so good about this change that it’s all too easy to overlook the challenges.  However, I will note the challenges as I hate it when blogs are all peaches and cream and the blogger’s perfect life makes your life seem bland and miserable.  I’ll break this down in to sections to make it easy on the eye.

Today’s post is dedicated to THE MOVE!!!

(insert dramatic music here)

We ordered at 16′ truck due to the price and the fact that the next largest truck would push us way over our covered moving expenses.  We found out last minute that they didn’t have any 16′ trucks and they would give us the larger truck for the 16′ price.  Let me just say THANK GOD for this.  We had to leave a small load of things behind even with the larger truck so I don’t want to think about the stress factor of realizing the 16′ truck was WAY too small the day we loaded it up.  Some things just work out.  However, the larger truck did come with some challenges.  The night before we hit the road, we noticed a low tire on the tow trailer.  I had trouble sleeping that night just thinking about that tire.  Would it be flat the next day?  Would we find a repair shop on Sunday?  Would the whole trip be postponed because of this?  Those thoughts lead to a very sleepless night.  Thankfully, we aired it up in the morning and had no more trouble with it.  Just a low tire, nothing more.  Whew!

On the first day, somewhere in west Kansas, we were stuck on the side of the road in the worst hail storm I’ve ever sat through in my car.  The wind was intense, the rain came down hard, and the hail did the number on my car and my house plants currently stored in the back of the pick up on the tow trailer (not by choice, mind you, but by necessity).  Once that was over and I calmed down enough to drive, the dust storm hit.  Fun times in Kansas, I tell you, fun times.

Day two and three presented us with the mountainous region of the US.  Wyoming and eastern Oregon has their fair share of inclines.  Our moving truck didn’t take kindly to inclines of any sort.  I’m talking 30-35 miles/hour on some of the hills.  I was certain we were never going to reach Portland at the rate we were driving, never!

But we did.  If anything, the challenges encountered along the way simply gave me something to talk about.  One of those “remember the time we had to search the entire city of Portland for one gas station that had diesel gas so we could fill up the moving truck one last time and come to find out that like, only one station has diesel?” situations.  Always good banter for dinner parties and such.

Just be thankful you don’t drive a diesel and live in Portland.

I’m very glad that my sister decided to participate in the move with us.  It gave me someone to talk to on the drive out (I was driving my car, the Sweet Boy had the moving truck), she took pictures when I had my hands on the wheel, she recorded a small portion of the panic attack that occurred in the west Kansas storm of doom, she checked out a handful of local Goodwills with me my first weekend here (and let me tell you folks, they are superb!), and she unpacked my kitchen when I had to work as soon as we moved here.  During one of our chats before she flew home, I mentioned that I’m fairly certain companies only give you JUST enough moving expenses coverage to get you out here on your own.  After finding a truck, packing the truck and taking 3 days to get it out here and move in, you don’t want to turn around and leave.  It’s a guarantee that you’ll stick around for a LONG time just so you don’t have to move again.

Smart, really.

Very, very smart.

Greetings… from Portland!

Well, I’m in Portland and have been here for a week.

I’m not settled though.

So I won’t say much.

Because I think being settled will allow for more literary creativity and what now.

I do have a fun picture of a box of donuts to share though.  Donuts are important.  Especially Voodoo donuts.  Especially Voodoo donuts at 10PM on a Friday.

Don’t judge, you would do it too.

I hope to post more soon – just let me unpack my home office first.

1 week shy of 9 years

I’ve been trying to write this post for a couple of weeks but it hasn’t come easily.

I want to talk about what the move to a new venue, new job and new town really means to me.

I mean REALLY means to me.

But I’m afraid I can’t figure it out.  4 weeks ago, when I got the offer, I was bouncing off of the walls with glee.  Last week at my 2nd year of Venue Management School, I couldn’t wait to tell everyone.  At the beginning of this week, I started a countdown until the moving truck pulls away from our town home for the last time.  Last night I rejoiced in the fact that we were getting down to packing the final few boxes.

However, today, today I’m just here.  I came to work and it feels like any other day.  I was gifted a delicious chocolate croissant, Starbucks gift card (COFFEE) and thoughtful card from one of my favorite coworkers, but it still feels like any other day.  My desk and walls are bare – I should feel differently than I do.

I’m baffled.

Where are my emotions?  Where’s my fear?  Where’s my excitement?  Where’s my anticipation?  It’s not here.  Wait, that’s not true.  I’m OVER THE MOON with excitement about my move.  I feel like I’m going on a permanent vacation.  I hear Portland is where young people go to retire, I see where that comes from.  I’ll be moving, it will be work, I’ll have to make money, but I’ll be in one of those towns that always is at the top of my “I need to go on vacation there” list.

But why does today feel so normal?  It’s almost disappointing that it doesn’t feel otherwise.

Today is exactly one week shy of my 9 year anniversary at Walton Arts Center.  I feel it’s poignant to end with that.

In other news, I’m going to Pesto Cafe tonight to stuff my face full of my favorite Italian food and fill my belly with a bottle of wine (shared with friends, of course).  So there is that.  I’m sure I’ll feel differently when I’m there, celebrating our new adventure.

Wish the Sweet Boy and me luck – we’re off!

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Comfort food… reinvented

Hey… over here. Just a bit of legal jargon before I really dive into this post: I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias® and Tyson Foods #cbias #SocialFabric

I’m going to go ahead and let you in on a little secret…

I ADORE pepperoni.

I also have been meeting myself coming for three weeks.

That makes two secrets and I promised only one – consider it a gift.

I spend a lot of time staring at the lunch meat section at Walmart. I have the hardest time choosing between turkey or roast beef and quite often end up leaving with bologna or salami because the decision was just that hard! Last time I found myself in this place of indecision, my eyes landed on a new Tyson Foods product.

Guys, you might need to sit down for this. Tyson Foods is now making SLICED PEPPERONI.

I said above that I adore pepperoni. I’ve been known to eat it straight out of the fridge when necessary. If it’s a topping on a salad bar, rest assured it will end up on my plate. I think I make my own pizza at home just so I can snack on this manna from heaven.

Oh, I love it.

Unfortunately, I had to pass it up on that trip as I was about to head out of town and any cooking would have to wait, but I’ll be back, pepperoni, I’ll be back.

And back I was. I was recently given the opportunity to try this new product out. I just had to share a meal solution that was slightly beyond the typical use for pepperoni… you know, the beloved pizza? Well, I could eat pepperoni on just about anything so this would not be a challenge at all. It actually was going to give me the opportunity to make something I haven’t put together in years.

Shall I present to you, the ever so humble, yet delicious, pizza ring? I shall? Good, here goes.

Disclaimer, my recipe doesn’t have exacts, use amounts that feel right to you. Sometimes I add more olives, sometimes I add more parsley, it’s really up to you.

Disclaimer number two, this is really the easiest recipe in the world. If it’s so easy that you decide to make it every day and gain 5 pounds in a month because you really shouldn’t eat crescent rolls every day, then don’t blame me.

Consider this a warning.

Ingredients:
2 cans crescent rolls (I used Pillsbury because I got a good deal, but you can use store brand if you want)
1 package Tyson Toppings Sliced Pepperoni
1 small can sliced olives
1/3 bunch of curly parsley
3 cups shredded Italian cheese or Mozzarella
Italian seasoning or Herbs de Provence
1 jar of your favorite marinara (or you can use homemade)

Preheat oven to 375.

Start out by pulling out about 2/3rds of the package of pepperoni and stacking them up in small towers. This took a bit of time to do but will result in pepperoni that is all the same size when your done. After they are all stacked up, quarter the pepperoni. Then put them into a large mixing bowl, separating them as you go.

Open your can of olives and drain completely before adding to the pepperoni. I mean it, don’t let any olive juice go into the mixing bowl. No one likes a mushy pizza ring and olive juice will result in a mushy pizza ring (I speak from experience, people, just trust me on this one).

Grab your small bunch of parsley and rough chop the leaves. Discard the stems – no one wants a stem in their pizza ring. In case you’re wondering if you can use flat leaf parsley, you can. This is actually the only dish I use curly parsley with and I do it because I like the texture it gives this one and it seems to hold up better in the ingredients. Add the leaves to the bowl.

Next, add about 3 cups of cheese to the mixture. You want enough to be stringy when you cut into after it has cooked but not so much that it oozes everywhere. 3 cups is perfect for me.

Now I add a generous amount of herbs de Provence. I used these instead of Italian seasoning because it’s what I had on hand. It also has rosemary in it which really adds a little somthin’ somthin’ to the finished dish. You could use either.

Mix up the ingredients until combined.

Now, on to the fun part. Unroll the 2 cans of crescent rolls and pull them apart until you have 16 triangles. Assemble them in a star shaped pattern as seen above on the baking dish of your choice (I prefer a well seasoned pizza stone). Towards the inside of the ring, but on the dough, pile up the pepperoni mixture. I have to mush mine together to keep it from spilling over. The cheese helps with this. I’m able to get the entire mixture in the ring, it might take you some practice.

After you’ve used up all of the filling, take the skinny end of the crescent rolls and wrap them around the mixture and press against the dough underneath the mixture. This takes some practice and never looks perfect so don’t worry if you struggle here. There isn’t a wrong way to do this. Tuck any toppings that fall out back in.

Next I sprinkle additional seasoning on top. It makes it pretty… and it adds a bit of extra flavor. I wouldn’t skip the pretty/flavor step.

Pop this bad boy in your preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. Once finished, allow to cool for just a couple of minutes, slice and serve with your favorite marinara for dipping.

You’re really going to love this. I promise!

See more pictures behind the story here.

If you make this and add different toppings in with the Tyson Foods Sliced Pepperoni, let me know how it turns out. I bet it would be wonderful with sauteed onions or mushrooms. Get creative!

Or better yet, after making your own version of this with Tyson Foods Sliced Pepperoni (or any of their delicious new toppings), go post it on their Facebook page or share with their Twitter account. Share the love, why don’t you?

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Portland or bust

Hey.

Things are insane in my life right now.

Work is busy.

We’re getting ready for our largest event of the year at Walton Arts Center (our annual Art of Wine Festival).

I’m heading off to my second year of Venue Management School on Friday (with a short stop on the way for a Dave Matthews Band concert, my second of this tour, with a friends from said Venue Management School).

I’m also packing.

No, not for a trip.

For a move.

And no, not for a move across town.

For a move to Portland, OR.  Yeah, the Sweet Boy and I are stoked and I don’t have much time to tell you the exciting details, but I have a new job as Director of Event Services at the Oregon Convention Center and wow.

Wow is really all I’ve been able to say about this for the past couple of weeks.  Actually, I think I posted a picture on instagram the day I was offered the position that said “OMG”.  So I suppose “OMG” sums it up as well.  I’ve been looking for a job at a new venue for some time and this one could not be more perfect.

Disclaimer: I’ve been at Walton Arts Center for 9 years.  I love it here, but it was time for a new scene.  I rent houses so I can move every few years.  Sometimes you need to do that with your job, too. 

The Sweet Boy and I are busy packing up our lives, selling things on Craigslist and doing paperwork for our new town home in NE Portland.

Let the adventure begin!

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