happy mother’s day from portland

This outdoor market takes “sample day” to a whole new level. The experience would later be affectionately referred to as the morning toothpick feast. Bacon pickles, huckleberry rhubarb jam, roasted hazelnuts, vanilla & cayenne all-natural maraschino cherries, green chile corn chowder, cardamom rosewater cheesecake, dried royal ann cherries, goat cheddar, marionberry & cream cinnamon rolls, red cabbage slaw, sopressata, and more! Somehow amidst the frenzy of fine samples I managed to take a few pictures of the abundance.

Mom: I love you bunches and piles. All Mothers: may your jam jars overflow with local pleasures.

pdx, ripe ‘n ready

I have two awesome cousin trips coming up these next two weeks. Later this month I will travel to Kansas to see my youngest cousin on my mom’s side graduate high school (proud!), and later this week I will hop on a plane to visit my oldest cousin (it’s been too long!) on my dad’s side in Oregon. I can hardly sit still I am so excited, though refilling my coffee cup each time I fill up my laundry loads may also have something to do with the extra energy.

As I was packing I realized that I was strangely out of postage stamps. So yesterday I went to the Post Office and found the commemorative Indy 500 stamps and a few others for mailing. Once I got home I cropped some paper and old fruit boxes for postcards (still inspired by the one Katie sent me) to write while I am away. The colors of the nectarine boxes seemed like a great match for Portland. I saved a few back to send to people -YOU- who read this blog. I’ll write you a postcard from Oregon if you send your mailing address to cozywalls@gmail.com.

P.S. Thanks to those of you that either commented on or talked with me about my last post. I appreciate those bloggers who wrote about specifically honest things in their entries. Like I mentioned, I am using this space to mainly dwell on cozy things. If it makes you feel better, it represents about 10% of my life. Now I will go make pancakes, and maybe I will take pictures of them too.

modern (lovers) pastry

I got to see Boston (and my dear, engaged-to-be-wed, friends Emily and Jarrid) for a day at the end of my trip out East last week. The sun was shining, and soon after walking past the Government Center, I had my first ever bakery fresh cannoli from Modern Pastry. Sweet little fried pastry tubes stuffed with sacchariferous ricotta. In my head were the song lyrics, “Oh that feelin’ inside we’re gonna transmit it to life!” from The Modern Lovers. Here’s hoping for future cannoli transmissions to/from my kitchen.

signs of spring in philly

It seems as though the minute I landed in Philadelphia, it was Spring. The past few days have been unseasonably warm. I ate a Geno’s cheese steak in 70+ degree weather! The outdoor basketball courts and city playgrounds were packed. Fruit lined the narrow city streets of the Italian Market. On a conference break, I had Chocolate Peanut Butter Ripple ice cream in a pretzel cone. Pretzel cone, more on that later. Spring bulbs were in bloom by Independence Hall, Rocky and “The Thinker.” All pleasant Philadelphia Spring surprises.

postcards and the city of brotherly love

Isn’t it the best to see something in the mailbox other than a doctor bill or credit card application?  A few weeks back I received a handwritten cardboard apple postcard in the mail, and it has been cheering me up ever since.  It was from the artful and thoughtful Katie, who took on the month of letters challenge and mailed at least one item through the post every day last month.

It was my turn to write, so I leafed through scraps of old end papers from bookmaking projects and sorted out all of the floral patterns (because SPRING is coming, you know!).  This year I am trying not to buy any new paper or fabric until I use up what I already have.  I cropped them into postcard size and sewed them onto cotton paper and the backs of old stationery.  The zig-zag stitch reminds me of a postage stamp.  Sewing paper always takes me back to practicing steady machine sewing in Mrs. Dafforn’s middle school Home Ec. class (we were allowed to start work on our fabric “Super Pockets” once we acheived a certain amount of control and straightness in our paper stitching).

Since I can never do just one of anything, I now have a pile of stitched postcards.  The timing is perfect, because I will be traveling for a few days this week to attend a library conference in Philadelphia.  When I am away I like to write cards, either at breakfast or before bed at night.  For me, it is important to share a bit of the experience I’ve been granted.

If you would like to see something in your mailbox from me, email your postal address to cozywalls@gmail.com  I have seven postcards unaccounted for, and I would love to write to the first responders.  Oh!  And this will be my first time in Philadelphia, so I would be grateful for any tips you may have to share.

it’s a marshmallow world

Anyone remember the marshmallows in Voguemallow Grilled Sandwich? This weekend I took a quick trip with my friend Courtney to the source, where we learned from the mellifluent marshmallow makers at 240sweet. Chef Alexa and Co. were generous and funny (as we all hope good confectioners to be). While the mega batch of mallows were mixing, we were treated to samples of artisan marshmallows that were skewered and toasted on the spot. Flavors like Banana Split, Elephant Ear, and Salty Caramel Swirl = pillowy roasted gooey bliss. We all got to taste spoons of the fresh mango mallows right off the beater, then we put on plastic aprons and shaped up our own vanilla bean mallows with powder and pizza cutters (Courtney snapped my picture in action!). Hers were wedges that looked like a wheel of brie and mine were something like abstract picket fences and piano keys. I wanted to buy all available flavors, but I had to limit myself to two pouches. I chose the Hoosier Strawberry and March’s Flavor of the Month: Dirty Leprechaun (creation forthcoming). Thanks, 240sweet for a good time, and Happy March, All.

seattle window

I was sitting in my car watching the rain carry colored leaves off of the parking lot trees yesterday, and my thoughts drifted to the jewel-toned state of Washington. Then I realized that at this time last year I was in Seattle, so I dug up a few photos from that weekend.

brunch at marie’s

I always say that my first college roommate was a saint, and she still is.  When I visited her last week, she treated me to a super brunch in Grand Rapids at Marie Catrib’s.  I loved everything about this place from the people to the flowers to the font all over the restaurant.  Not to mention the food!  We split two dishes: Marie’s own gluten-free pancakes made with sweet potato and cranberries, served with real maple syrup and honey butter & Esperanza’s Omelette with Marie’s seasoned potatoes. I was having such a good time I had to cut myself off from my fourth coffee refill.  Sharing joys and sorrows of the past year goes best with brunch.

desserts & installations

Just a few of my favorite things! I met up with my old college roommates and summer camp counselor friends in Grand Rapids Friday. It was the last weekend of ArtPrize 2011 filled with treats visually & gastronomically in good company. These desserts are from San Chez in downtown Grand Rapids, including Empanada de Chocolate (chocolate fudge filled pastry, dolce de leche ice cream, brandy caramel, raspberry sauce), Pastel de Queso de Cabra (vanilla goat cheese cheesecake with shortbread crust, lemon curd, blackberry caviar & pecan tuile), and Tarta de Chocolate al Whisky (whisky soaked cake, caramel pecan ice cream, brownie & white chocolate mousse), respectively. The dishroom didn’t have much work to do once we were finished.

pasta & pancakes over the campfire

It’s probably not a surprise that one of my favorite parts of camping is eating food made over the fire. Pinot Basil Pasta and Pecan Pancakes with Fruit Compote were two such meals enjoyed this weekend at Van Buren State Park with a dear old friend of mine. We chopped goodness from her garden and began cooking the thickest and hardest veggies first in a bit of olive oil.  Afterwhile we added the softer veggies to the skillet along with some basil and Pinot Grigio. Once the wine reduces, everything is ready to mix in with the pasta and be consumed!  The pancake combo was another winner from Backpacker Magazine. These pancakes did not miss usual syrup.  The woodsy cinnamon and smoky dark cherry was my favorite flavor combination, but since I cannot resist a toasted marshmallow at any given opportunity, I topped off my pancakes with one goldened from the embers.  Corn syrup made it on the pancakes after all.