Tag Archives: birthday

JNB>VFA>DUR: PART I

23 Feb

When my father first proposed the idea of taking me to South Africa for my 30th birthday he only had one condition:

“I don’t want to plan a bit of it.”

How could I resist?

My dad clued me in on the budget and gave me free reign creating an unforgettable 16 day itinerary for our family. In order to do so it was important for me to keep my travel companions in mind. (Sadly, E. Dohrmann had to sit this one out due to a work conflict.) A brief overview: My dad and step-mom are a social, outgoing and fairly active couple in their mid sixties. My dad’s perfect vacation normally involves Disneyland, a cruise ship, and noise cancelling headphones. Felice is a dance teacher who cares deeply for the preforming arts and culture in general. Her ideal vacation normally includes: attending a performance of some kind and a day at the spa. They both love to cook, drink red wine and look to traveling as a way of connecting with the world. It was important for me to create an itinerary that included fun, sun, adventure, culture, good food and enough creature comforts that this trip would feel unique and exciting without being too scary or out of the box.

First let’s get one thing straight: There’s no easy way to get South Africa from Portland, OR. It’s as simple as that. It took multiple flights, 31 hours, and several laps around the plane before we arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa. And don’t forget about the impromptu airport yoga that happened between layovers (important to keep the blood flowing!), and the constant shuffle of Bob Marley, Paul Simon, the Talking Heads and Nina Simone on the iPod. The first ten days of our trip went something like this: Jo’burg>Victoria Falls>Durban>Hluhluwe. It was a crazy amount of traveling to do in such a short amount of time but I wouldn’t change a thing. After all, how often do you have the opportunity to visit one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, dip your toes in the Indian Ocean, and take in a 6 day safari tour?

HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE ( but are not limited to):

01. Hunting and finding the most beautiful seashells alongside the local fishermen in Durban
02. “Lions, and Tigers, and Bears! Oh my!” We supplemented elephants for bears and cheetahs for tigers on this trip but “Oh My” is right! I didn’t realize how emotional I’d become being so close to these beautiful beasts. I was simultaneously freaked, elated, nervous and incredibly humbled (and tearing up more often than not!)
03. A visit to a local Zulu Village and neighboring elementary school outside of Hluhluwe
04. Watching adventure junkies putting in rafts just below the towering Rainbow Falls at Victoria Falls
05. Drinking cocktails at sunset, also known as a “sundowner” in these parts
06. Sunsets in general. With or without booze. Absolutely brilliant, full, and breathtaking.

IMG_8793Jo’Burg Airport

IMG_8908Sundowner Cruise on the Zambezi River
(I could get used to this!)

IMG_8895(photo by Dad)

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Victoria Falls

IMG_9057Durban Sunrise

IMG_9065Durban Boardwalk

IMG_9061(photo by Felice)

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IMG_9411
Zulu Ancestor’s Hut

IMG_9410Zulu School

IMG_9406  IMG_9454Lion Pride

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IMG_9109 One of many breathtaking sunsets

Stay tuned for PART II: Capetown and the Winelands

Dirty Thirty, Indeed

15 Feb

Dirty Thirty

Oh my gosh, it’s been awhile. The party and the trip to Africa happened. Not to mention a few others big revelations. First and foremost being: we’re moving to L.A.!!! Evan accepted a job offer in Los Angeles to continue working with Stumptown Coffee Roasters. I’ll be leaving my post at the Woodsman Tavern in March in order to join him down south. My departure from this group of people is bittersweet, as we really have become family. That said, I miss my husband, who has been living in DTLA since the first of the year.

Now…where did we leave off? That’s right! Back to the party!

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So many wonderful people were involved to make this special event successful. I wanted to indulge my Francophilia and love of Woody Allen so I chose “La Vie en Rose” as a theme. (An added bonus: I finally wear my hatband in public!) I am deeply indebted to our many friends and family who invested their time and energy to see my vision come to life. Fittingly for this animal lover, proceeds from the event benefited our friends Amy’s animal rescue and adoption organization The Pixie Project. You can see more photos and silly costumes from the event by skipping over to Paige’s blog or by checking out the gallery from StudioBooth. Once again, many, many thanks to everyone involved. Literally. Could Not. Have Done it. Without You. Thanks for making my entry into “adulthood” so memorable. Especially Mr. E. Dohrmann: It’s a pleasure growing old with you, Sir.

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Photography: Paige Jones / Invitations: Inclined to Create / Dinner Location: Little Bird Bistro / Party Location: Boothster / Flowers and Event Design: Rosemary Stafford Floral / Party Spread: Self Catered* / Cocktails:  Tender Bar / DJ: Tim Betterly / Photobooth: StudioBooth / Photobooth Props: Paperfinger / Dress: A.B.S. By Allen Schwartz (snagged at Goodwill + and black trim from a local fabric store)/ Wig: The Lippman Co. (5+ years ago) / Hair accessory: Ruche / Sponsored Charity: The Pixie Project

*The party spread was pretty ridiculous and entirely self catered! It took about a week to nail down my “Midnight in Paris” menu and required the help of several family members in order to pull it off. The menu included:

Rosemary Almonds

Olives with Orange and Fennel

French Onion Soup Stuffed Mushrooms

Cheese and Charcuterie boards with various pickles, jams and mustards

Pissaladieres (Provencal Pizzas with caramelized onions and anchovies)

Mini Ham and Brie Sandwiches wrapped in craft paper tied with bakers twine

Cookie Platter complete with Macarons Et Madeleines (naturally!)

Next up: AFRICA!

Birthday Cookies for All

22 Sep

I made a life changing decision this summer: to finally put an end to my suffering over buying birthday gifts for loved ones. For some people just a card is appropriate. For others, you feel like you owe them a boat bedazzled in diamonds. At the moment of truth I always seem to be too broke or wrapped up in my own pity party to actually make the present of my gift-giving dreams come true. Recipients usually end up with a card and some truly pathetic story about the gift I wanted/tried/dreamt to give them if only I…(fill in the blank). More often than not they don’t care about my story (or the card) and I end up feeling like an idiot, already dreading the upcoming year when I’ll likely be standing in the same place having the same argument with myself.

Then it dawned on me: Don’t I have more important things to have anxiety attacks over? Life health insurance? (OrLackThereOf.)

Henceforth my brilliant declaration that all birthday presents shall now be made up of cookies. What says “I love you” more than a homemade customized cookie? If your friends don’t like cookies then they’re NOT MY FRIEND. So far we’ve had four loved ones with birthdays this summer and each one received a batch of freshly baked cookies. Kendra got compost cookies with healthy notes likes raisin bran, oats, flax and sesame seeds. (Kendra’s kind of granola- with a twist of PBR). Tim and Logan both received the less healthy version with potato chips, buttered popcorn, Twix bars, and coffee. (It’s cool- they can handle the calories; they ride fixies). This week we celebrate the  life of one of our loveliest and most delicious friends ever, Delane, co-owner of Portland’s favorite cornmeal crust pizzeria Dove Vivi.

Here are some FUN FACTS about Delane:

  • She is a salad goddess. You will never make a better salad than her. Try. You WILL FAIL.
  • She bakes the very best chocolate cookies I have ever tasted. EVER.
  • She was the first person to teach me how to grill a pizza on the bbq. Pizza contained: bacon, strawberry jam, blue cheese and local salad greens (I shamelessly stole this exact flavor combination for an egg sandwich at our cafe the very next day and named it affectionately, “My New BFF”).
  • She can build things. Lots of things. With wood. Like bookshelves, entertainment centers, tables and living structures.
  • She is the mother to an awesome toddler, a devoted dog and two adorable goats.
  • She is a gifted potter. (The vase she gave us for a wedding present is proudly displayed on our mantle)
  • She has an outdoor shower at her house (I know!). That she built. (Right?!?)
  • She’s from ALASKA.
  • She is a professional fisherwoman.
  • SHE IS FROM ALASKA.

As you can see, Delane is a multifaceted person. For this reason (and because chocolate chip cookies are SO OUT of the question– DUH) she requires a special cookie. For Delane we baked Mocha Buckwheat Shortbread. Luckily for you I’m sharing the recipe. See if you have a friend they would be a good fit for. They make an excellent gift (for your own sanity). I speak the truth.

Mocha Buckwheat Shortbread Cookies with Cacao Nibs

  • 2 sticks butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar (I used a combination of confectioners, brown, and white)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup cacao nibs
  • 1/4 cup espresso beans, coarsely ground
  • 1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup buckwheat flour

Cream the butter, sugar and salt together until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract, nibs, and espresso beans and mix for 30 seconds. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the cocoa powder and both flours, mixing until the dough is smooth and the flour is just incorporated.

Turn the dough out onto wax paper. Using the wax paper, roll the dough into a thick log as evenly as possible to a thickness of 2-inches in diameter. Wrap in remaining wax paper and chill at least 4 hours, or for up to 2 days.  This dough also freezes well (up to 2 months).

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut the log into 1/2-inch thick slices and place on the baking sheet, leaving at least an inch of room in-between. Prick each cookie twice with the tines of a fork. Bake for 12-14 minutes, rotating the baking sheets half-way through. A slightly shorter baking time will yield a softer, fudge-like shortbread; a slightly longer baking time will yield firmer cookies.

Allow to cool before transferring to a wire rack. Store in an airtight container for a month. Many believe these cookies get better the longer they sit.

Happy Birthday, Sister.

28 Feb

Here’s to many, many more dipped cones. XO

(And yes, I do know your birthday is on the 27th)