What happened? Part 2

Vancouver

Incredible view of Vancouver from our hotel room.

So what have I been up to?

Oh, lots of shit. We did a lot of traveling. Turns out there’s a lot of fun stuff to see in the West Coast. We went to Vancouver, BC and The Redwood Forest in California. We went to Lincoln City, OR and saw the Devil’s Punchbowl on the Oregon Coast. We also did a couple of trips to Seattle, we even went sailing on Puget Sound.  We took a trip to the Ape Caves in southern Washington state. I visited Florida for a work trip. Exciting for me as I had never been to the Florida and have only been on the East Coast once. All of which was incredible!

Redwood Forest

Giant trees in the forest

I did some crafting with some good results and a lot of disatrous results–jewelry, sewing, knitting, painting, dye jobs, making shoes. These may make good posts, watch out for more content!

I did a little bit of cooking with some new recipes and also jumped on the cold brew coffee bandwagon. What can I say? I am sheeple, hear me bahhhhhh. But, but, but! Best coffee ever! Can’t wait till summer so I can start making more.

IMG_0861

Cold Brew Coffee

 

Dealt with a bunch of medical stuff. I’m not sure how much of that I should talk about and how much I should keep to myself. On top of all that noise, I found out I have severe seasonal allergies. Haven’t stopped coughing since September.  Major sad face.

So, there ya have it. Two years in a nutshell. Mostly, the good, the bad and none of the ugly!

The PDX Grinch

Hello everyone!

You have disappointed me in the following ways…

I know I’ve neglected you , dear readers but I hope all of you had a great Hannukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Festivus, Winter Solstice,  New Year’s and MLK day!

I’m so sorry I haven’t been posting like I thought I would. I have to admit, I haven’t had much to say and I haven’t been crafting much. I would rather not post anything than just put up some drivel. I read a few blogs like that. They’ll disappear for weeks, sometimes months, and then a new post!  And I get so excited. Yay! New post from semi-regular blogger!  Sure, it’s frustrating as a reader but life happens and you find yourself with other things to do besides writing a post. As a blogger, I don’t want to just slap up something just to say I made a post. I think that’s a disservice to you, dear reader. Anywho…….

Christmas, holidays. Bah humbug! As I get older, I find that I’m losing all desire in celebrating the holidays. It’s all BUY! BUY! BUY! And CONSUME! It’s all so crass. Personally,  I really don’t want or need any gifts or items – I have everything I need. The one thing that I crave and deeply want more than anything is time. A little time spent talking to friends; a little time to hang out; a little time for a vacation; and most importantly, a little more time with The Husband and The Boy, together and separately.

At the same time, is it fair to ruin The Boy’s Christmas because I’m the Grinch? Not at all. I will put on a happy Christmas face for him. He asked for the usual amount of crap that sound amazing to all six-year old boys: TOYS! Nerf guns! Angry Birds Star Wars! Angry Birds Space! More toys! Games!

Despite everything, Christmas was good. I got what I’ve needed for a long time. Friends, I got a space heater! Hells. Yeah. I also did some holiday cooking! It felt really good to cook again. Since it’s just the three of us, we decided to only make enough food for the three of us. Why in the world we were making these huge spreads, I have no idea. But we had just enough food. Second post about Christmas dishes, coming soon….

Almost Vegan Almond Joys

Almond_Joy_Opened

It looked nothing like this. Mine were better and not gooey in the center.

Holiday work parties.  Make something that everyone will enjoy but ensure that nothing is left over. So much pressure! Hmmm, what to do?

I got invited to my old office’s holiday party. I was extremely flattered, especially since I don’t work there anymore. I miss those crazy cusses! I knew there was gonna be around fifty people so I wanted to make something that was a little different, something that didn’t need any refrigeration and could be transported easily to the site since I use mass transit. Then I got invited to my current office’s party. This one was for the whole building, four floors! I knew there was gonna be a TON of food, so I didn’t need to make a lot. Didn’t matter about refrigeration since I could store it as soon as I arrived but it had to be easily transported. Dilemma, people! What to make?

For the old office, I decided to make my Jolly Lollies. Instead of three pieces of Jolly Ranchers, I only used two. We also used a package of the tropical-flavored Jolly Ranchers. The Boy and I had a great time picking out colors/flavor combinations. We created some really cool modern-looking color blocking stripes. I got many compliments and only had about five left over.

For the new office, I remember reading about some vegan almond joys that made me drool at the sight of them. I signed up as bringing “Homemade Almond Joys (no pun intended-since that’s my name). After hunting down the recipe–I forgot to bookmark it, I found it at the Free People blog. I had all the ingredients but of course I changed a few things. I used sweetened coconut, so I couldn’t be sure the sweetening agent was vegan like the maple syrup and I used whatever chocolate I had around the house, which was a 1/2 of a bag  Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips and another 1/2 bag of Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips.

I received many compliments on this one! I only had a few left but I ended up not taking a single one home and three people asked for the recipe and one asked if I could make them again for a special occasion. I asked, “Like when?” He said, “Oh, like it being a Wednesday.” Ha!

Below, is my version of the recipe and a link to the original. Enjoy (again, no pun intended)!

Almond Coconut Chocolate Bites from the Free People Blog(with my mods)
makes 12 treats (using tiny mini muffin liners, I made about 40)
Coconut Filling:
1 1/4 cups unsweetened coconut, finely shredded (I used about two cups of sweetened coconut)
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup (or about a tablespoon if you’re using sweetened coconut)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Dark or Milk Chocolate Coating*:
10 ounces of good semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
Plus: approximately 1/3 cup toasted almond slices (I used whole almonds)

Lightly grease a nonstick mini-muffin tin with a little coconut oil and set aside. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine all of the coconut filling ingredients and mix together until very well combined. Evenly divide up the filling between the 12 mini-muffin cups, pressing it in very tightly, making sure it is somewhat even.  (I used a 1/4 teaspoon to scoop out little portions that fit into my liners. I placed them on a pan and stuck almonds on top.) Don’t worry they won’t stick. Place the muffin pan in the freezer make sure it is sitting flat, and freeze until filling is solid, about 30-45 minutes. (I left it in overnight. I’m lazy)

Take the muffin tin with the frozen coconut mixture out of the freezer, carefully remove each coconut treat out of the pan, running a thin knife around the edge to loosen and pop them out. Place them on a parchment or wax paper lined baking sheet, if you want to place the pan back in the fridge to keep them cool while you melt the chocolate, you can do that.

Once you are ready to coat the treats with the chocolate you can carefully melt the chocolate using a double boiler setup on the stove top or you can carefully melt it in small increments in the microwave, stirring often. Turn off the heat on the stove and keep the bowl of chocolate over the pan, remove the coconut treats from the fridge. Place one coconut treat on a fork and slowly lower it into the chocolate, spoon additional chocolate over it to fully coat it. Lift the fork out and gently shake to release any of the excess chocolate.  Scrape the bottom of the fork along the side of the bowl and place on the lined baking sheet. Sprinkle a few toasted almond slices on top into the chocolate. Repeat until all of the treats are coated in chocolate and have almonds on top.  If the chocolate gets too thick, you just turn on the flame and heat slightly to melt it again. Put the tray back in the fridge and let them harden for about 45 minutes.

(I used mini muffin liners and drizzled a little chocolate in the bottom of liners. Then I placed coconut filling on top of chocolate and then drizzled chocolate on top of filling. They had a little chocolate sandwich look about them. I placed them back in the freezer overnight.)

After these set, store them in the freezer/fridge until you’re ready to serve. The chocolate will remain solid at room temperature but the coconut filling might not.

Off to Cannon Beach

I have to admit, one of my favorite places on this earth is the Oregon coast. I say Oregon coast because really, I have never been to any other coast.

The first time I saw the ocean, it was right when we first moved to Oregon. We decided to do a day trip out to Florence, Ore, since it was easiest ocean-side beach to get to from Eugene. Not knowing anything about the weather, the climate and the drive, we bundled up the Boy, who was still a baby, and made our way to the sunny, sunny beach. I remember how I could see the ocean peaking over the dunes as we turned down the street leading to the beach and my heart just exploded into pieces. I can’t explain my experience in words but seeing the ocean exceeded my expectations tenfold.

What I can explain is how damn cold it was. If you grow up away from the ocean, like, oh say, MOST of the country and you only have images of people frolicking on the warm beaches of Florida, California and Hawaii, you are gonna be disappointed when you visit the beaches of Pacific Northwest. It is cold, cold and cold and often windy. And sometimes the fog is so deep that you can’t see anything beyond ten feet around you.  And the water is frigid!  When you first put your feet in the water, it’s like an electrifying shot of cold that shocks you to your core and leaves you speechless. And I loved it, loved it, loved it! We spent many happy summer days in Florence. We watched the Boy grow from a tiny baby who was mildly annoyed with the grains of sand stuck to his hands to a toddler who would run headfirst into the water if allowed. So many happy memories made there.

And then we moved to Portland. No time to visit Florence again (too far). Our closest stretch of coast is in Seaside, OR. It’s a little different from Florence. For one, it has an actual boardwalk full of restaurants, tourist shops and ice cream shops. There are throngs of people and tourists.  The quiet solitude that we loved in Florence was missing. We could set up a blanket in Florence and not have anyone around for quite a ways. While I will never hate going to the coast, something was different. We would drive all the way to the coast, and spend maybe an hour or two and then turn right back around and drive home.  Something was different. Something was off.

Fast forward to last month. My mother was in town. We are so lucky and grateful that she’s able to visit us. She also had never been to the ocean until we moved here and had only been to Florence in the middle of winter.  For this visit, we decided that one of her days with us would be spent at the coast. We had heard about Cannon Beach but had never ventured there. After checking a map, we saw that it was pretty much equidistant to Seaside from Portland. We decided to take the highway less traveled (for us, that is) and journey to Cannon Beach. I was hoping to see something new.  It was phenomenal! We stayed there, parked on the beach for most of the day. The Boy played in the water, we attempted a sand castle but mainly we sat and talked and watch the slow waves roll in.  I even made my mother dip her feet in the water. She had the audacity to try and tell me that seeing the ocean was good enough and I was like, aw hell naw! You don’t go to the ocean without standing in the damn water! I made her stand there and experience the majestic water, not once but twice! I even made her take a leisure stroll with me. Glorious! All of it, glorious!

I bought a tiny souvenir bottle and filled it with sand for my mom but surprisingly I took very few pictures. I’ll post some later tonight. I’m really sorry that I have been preoccupied and I’ve neglected to post anything in a while. I’m working on it…

Howdy humble reader!

Thanks for joining me again! I’m excited to get this blog thing going again. I have to admit, I do so like the title of this blog much better than the last time. Now if I could only stick with it!

So Toast Hungry? How did I get this name? Will this be a blog about toast?  Well, no, maybe, we’ll see?

The name for the blog came from my most awesome five-years old son, known here as the Boy. We were sitting in the living room one day when he, out of the blue, turns to me and says, “Mommy, I’m toast hungry.”
“Toast hungry?”
“Yes, I’m toast hungry.”
“Are you saying you want some toast?”
“Yes”
“So, are you hungry?”
“No, just toast hungry”

And a new blog title was born.