How I Met Your Father

I was having a conversation with my daughter Gianna about boys and relationships, when something I said made her ask, “Mom, how many boyfriends did you have?!”Also, How I Met Your Mother is one our favorite shows!

Southern Bride
Photo By Southern Bride magazine, cropped

My first serious relationship was with Paul. We met at a Tri-Delt/Pike mixer in Little Rock where I noticed him first. I told my friend Debbie, who told her boyfriend, who was the pledge trainer. He told Paul to ask me out. We moved entirely too fast. “If ever there was love, it would be with you.” he told me. We got engaged, moved in together, and got jobs together at a restaurant where I was a hostess and he was a server. One day, Chelsea Clinton came in and asked for Paul’s section. Her secret service detail sat nearby at a separate table. When her dad Bill became the President of the United States, Paul’s dad and grandparents went up and stayed in the White House. I loved hearing the details about the Lincoln bedroom where they stayed and all the details of the house’s history.

At that time, a new guy started at the restaurant. His name was Jack, and he was in law school. Everyone there thought the resemblance was amazing. One girl said that Jack and Paul looked like brothers. After Paul broke off our engagement, stating that he thought all I wanted was to have someone take care of me, I tried so hard to get over him. My brother Thien had to tell me to stop playing “Love Will Lead You Back” and “I Will Always Love You” all the time. Then he told me that to get over Paul, I was gonna have to just go have fun with someone new.

I didn’t want fun with someone new. I wanted Paul, and love. Then I ran into Jack one night. We weren’t working together anymore, so I hadn’t thought about him at all. We sat in one place for about 4 hours and talked. I never really thought he looked like Paul. Jack had more of a privileged upbringing, preppy guy look about him. He was the first guy to offer to cook for me on our first date. One night I gave him a compliment, and he said, “Like Paul?” So…..it became an issue. I asked my brother if he thought Jack looked like Paul. “They all look like Paul,” he said. Okay, so I had a type.

I think that because Paul thought all I wanted was someone to take care of me, I was determined to prove him wrong. I thought about him when I was the breadwinner in my relationship with my husband. I thought about him when I won about 5 sales contests and trips to The Bahamas, Cabo San Lucas, and Budapest. Always give that person a reason why you’re breaking up with them. It might drive them enough to make their life the best it can be, even if it’s not with you.

Jack and I had a very complicated relationship. Sometimes there are just some you can’t figure out. One night he called me, and I asked him to call back because I was on the phone with a cosmetics consultant. He didn’t call back, and when I saw him next, he said he thought I was lying about the other caller. I guess the lesson here is if the guy you like calls, don’t put him on hold. Or maybe if he acts like that, you’re better off without him.

The funny thing is, of the two guys, Jack was the one I measured every other guy up against later.

Did we have a lot to talk about? Does he have a smile that made me feel like I was lucky it was pointed at me? Did his eyes make me want to stare at him all night? Do I find myself laughing a lot when we’re together?

I had a few two month relationships after that. There were a few head turners, and a few funny guys. “It’s rare that you find both personality and good looks. It’s usually one or the other but not both,” one of my pharma guy friends once said.

But I did find him. I didn’t know if he was good looking to other people because his personality was so great it made him so attractive in my own eyes.

And we talked all night long the first night we met.

Please Tell Everyone on This Train I Love Them

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Instagram: @johanesenphotography

On June 5th, I woke up to a notification on my phone that a photographer had tagged me (@Portland_Love_Story) in this picture on Instagram. Total strangers tag me often, and it’s usually food related, because my Instagram is mostly of food in Portland. Food is my passion, and I created my Instagram to showcase it. However, another common tag that I get is from photographers shooting the beauty of Portland. Because there’s so much to love about Portland, and I guess I have the handle that says it.

But this particular photo made me think, “This is the true Portland Love Story.” The tragedy of the Portland MAX train stabbing over Memorial Day weekend was all over the news, including CNN. It was a great thing they did, standing up to bullying. And it’s awful how one instance can do so much damage.

“I wanna see it,” I told my husband. I explained the picture and the tag to him, and he doesn’t do Instagram, so he probably had no idea what I meant. I’d been emotional all morning just thinking about it.

“It’s the Hollywood District,” he told me as I drove us to lunch downtown. We live on the outskirts of Portland, although most of my focus is downtown. He asked, “Why do you care so much….I mean, besides that his daughter goes to school with Sasha?”

I didn’t have an answer at the moment. But yes, his daughter is in the sixth grade with my daughter, and they have classes together. And he was an army veteran like my husband. I have so much empathy for his family and for the other man who also lost his life. The tribute at the Hollywood Transit Center touched my heart deeply because it is an outpouring of love to these men. And a symbol of the great people of Portland. I love this city.

I asked Sasha about how his daughter was doing that day. She said she was absent, and it must have been his funeral that day because all the sixth grade teachers were out, and she had substitutes in every class. I told her I would have gone if I’d known. She didn’t understand why, if I didn’t know him personally. I explained that it’s moments like this that connects us all, even if we don’t know each other. And the men deserved all the respect for what they did.

I didn’t know as much about the other gentleman who lost his life that day, but for his actions, and as shown in the picture above, for saying, “Please tell everyone on this train that I love them,” he won many hearts over.

I love that a stranger tagged me in this picture, reaching out to share a moment of love in our community. Thanks to everyone for thinking of me and tagging me when you do. I love being a part of Portland’s Love Story.

2015: A Look Back

For my next post, I thought of doing a 2016 collage and look back, but then I realized that I had this opportunity to do 2015 first. 

About this time two years ago, I had just accepted an offer to work at Comcast Spotlight as an Advertising Account Executive. When I moved to the Portland area, I applied to Comcast, The Oregonian, and KOIN. So Villa, the sales manager at KOIN called the week I accepted the Comcast offer. I sorta wondered later if I had gone into broadcast sales rather than cable, if I’d been able to make it work better. But learning cable advertising while raising two kids with busy athletic and social schedules while Jereme stayed in Alaska for 6 weeks at a time was a challenge.  We decided to take some time to get better adjusted to our new life in a new state.

The rest (and best) of 2015 was spent focusing on eating good food. (Left to right)

2015-pls

Pok Pok: The famous Vietnamese fish sauce wings there are so good, and a must have for an appetizer if sharing. Then there’s the flank steak salad with fish sauce, lime, chili powder dressing, mint, and cilantro. One of the best things I ate in 2015. My second visit to Pok Pok, I was shocked to see Andy Ricker walk by. I recognized him from Food Network features, and I followed him on Instagram. An actual chef/owner in their own restaurant in Portland. The more I found that it wasn’t so rare for many chef/owners, the more I loved this foodie town.

Por Que No Taqueria: My first visit was with Brittany for lunch. We went to the North Mississippi location, and she told me about the area. I had the Calamari, Camarones, and Lengua. I had a feeling about that place, and I now frequent the Hawthorne location often.

Jake’s Famous Crawfish: I loved the classic presentation of the Escargot there. I took Brittany and Jereme, and neither of them loved Jake’s like I did. So I didn’t really get to eat there as often as I wanted. Anyone else wanna go?

The Parish: This was one of the first places I visited the first week in town. I had read about Ethan’s Arkansas roots and studies at the French Culinary Institute in New York, and I was interested in meeting him. He actually knew about the small town I grew up in, and told me he had relatives there. The header picture of this blog is of the oysters from The Parish, and I was sad to hear it closed in 2016. I loved their gumbo, but now I’ll have to eat at EaT: An Oyster Bar, his other restaurant which displays the familiar Arkansas Razorback hat at the bar.

Urban Farmer: I submitted that bloody mary pic for a contest which I didn’t win, but I I thought the Taylor Swift reference was fun.

Acadia: As I made my way around Portland to taste all the new and renowned restaurants, I found my self going back to Acadia often, especially for the Louisiana Barbeque Shrimp. I love that they open for lunch at least one day a week, on Wednesdays.

Luc Lac: I had fun tweeting at these guys when I first discovered them. I have loved every single thing I’ve ever eaten there, and this Bo Thai Chanh (rare beef salad) is one of my favorite things to eat in the city. The pork and shrimp crispy rolls are also my favorite in Portland. They’re along the lines of how I make mine at home. Also Charles Phan style.

Smallwares: I didn’t get to eat at Smallwares as often as I wanted. The summer rolls shown above were from a tasting menu of a special dinner that we loved. We mostly had brunch there, and apparently enough that we got a “friends discount” once. I hope to see Johanna back so that I can eat more of her creative, tasty concoctions. RIP Smallwares.

St. Jack: I love the atmosphere, the location, and the foie gras. You’ll most likely see them in my 2016 recap as well. Loved watching the chef/owner Aaron Barnett on Food Network’s Chopped.

Check back soon for my 2016 recap! That one will be more difficult, probably…

Polish Day Spa

1420 NW Pettygrove St.   Portland, OR 97209   503.327.8328    Mon – Sat 10-7, Sun 11-6

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My good friend Jenna found this nail salon/day spa for us to try when they were advertising a 15 minutes reflexology special for $10 on a sign outside. I laugh now at the memory of our visit because I had Jason, who applied the perfect moderate pressure, while I could hear Jenna next to me saying ouch, should that be painful? I was literally laughing out loud at her complaints, when she told him to go over there and do that to Thanh’s feet. When he did, I screamed out loud and said Jason is not rubbing that hard! You’ve gotta set your boundaries.

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Hanoi Kitchen

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I don’t mean to give all my secrets away, but…..I am hooked on this place. Please don’t go there, because this is where I like to go without wearing lipstick, without fixing my hair really. I’m lucky my husband is fine with me like that. I feel fortunate I found him before social media, before filters. Take this dish for example. It’s not the prettiest, but it’s full of complexity, and has captivated my interest.

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Cart Lab Friends & Family Event

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Last night I had the pleasure of attending the Friends and Family event for Cart Lab, Portland’s newest dining hall near the Tom McCall Waterfront Park area. It coincided with their soft opening to the public, which is like a dress rehearsal for restaurants.

This is a time that no media or food critic should attend, unless they can keep from writing. When I worked at an alt weekly publication similar to the Willamette Week, I practically begged our food critics to stay out of my clients’ new restaurants for the first month until they firmly established themselves. They didn’t always abide, and there was the time the editor titled my client’s food as Farm to Terrible. Thanks again, Lindsay.

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My Best Friends

Friendship… is not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything. – Muhammad Ali
wcw

ANGELICA

I recently read a quote on Twitter that said, “I have too much emotion to be brief.” That sums me up. Our friend Joe once started on a monologue, pausing briefly to ask us what we liked about him. One of the guys countered with, “Your brevity?” He and I were always dominating our group’s conversations.

I’m so excited to visit Little Rock in November. While I’ve made great friends in Portland, there’s still so much love awaiting me back home. Angelica and I met at the Phi Delt house at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville our freshman year. My best friend from seventh grade was a pledge, and while I felt like Bridget Jones standing next to Hugh Grant with him, he still demanded my attendance at every outing. I was helping his entire pledge class pass Freshman English, and the pledge trainer let me sit in on their study halls.

“Who is that loud, obnoxious girl?!” I asked John. He wasn’t sure. The Phi Delt house in Northwest Arkansas was full of kids from Little Rock, and we were the new ones on the block from the tiny town of never heard before Nashville. We asked his pledge brother Kevin, and he told us. Angelica, from Mount Saint Mary in Little Rock. Kevin and I later built our houses, as adults, in the same neighborhood in the Villages of Wellington. I also found out later that he had actually played baseball with my future husband. Complete strangers have told me how my husband could crush a baseball when he was younger. People loved watching him play.

By the end of the night, Angelica and I were singing along to Jimmy Buffett songs together. Now, she is my everything. When my brother was diagnosed with cancer, he asked her to look after me. She’s done a pretty good job, considering. I still can’t believe we stayed at Trump International and never ate at Jean Georges.

KARRI

I went to a Girls Night Out with my good friend Kristi, and this girl Karri was making me laugh every second she spoke.

I had to ask her, “Where are you from? You are so funny!!” She said, “Nashville, Arkansas.”I couldn’t even believe it. “That’s where I’m from!!” I told her. We compared friends and family stories to prove it. Such a small world.

We’ve had so many good times together just hanging out and laughing about everything.

I love her.

KRISTI

Kristi and I waited tables together at a restaurant where she lived nearby. When she told me she got mugged in the parking lot of her apartment complex, I laughed for some reason. I don’t think she thought it was funny. She went to college with one of my older brothers at UCA, where my best friend Anne’s dad had coached Scottie Pippen. When Anne died in a car accident in Cozumel, Coach Jones and his wife went up to Chicago to stay with Scottie the week after the funeral.

When Kristi moved back from Florida, she went to work for the Pulaski County Clerk’s office. She was a very left wing liberal, and she was helping our friend Pat with his race for the Secretary of State office. I called her at work because my friends said we should consider David Sanders for Senate, but he was a Republican. She was adamant that I not support him. He won anyway, and I ran into him in Seattle last year while he was attending a healthcare meeting with some other senators. He was actually with a lobbyist who had once challenged me on Twitter about the Farm Bill.

Kristi is now big in the Republican community. She had dated a well known conservative lobbyist, and she began consulting as well. She always maintains class and I need to be more like her. She asked me to promise never to go without talking to each other, and I will keep that promise.

MONIKA

Monika won me over at our office. She wanted to have meetings, and lists, and appointments with my clients to talk to them about her doing their social media. I really didn’t wanna do any of that, but we ended up sharing a few clients. We were both friends with Jo Garcia, so we ended up at lunch together. Moni has a way of expressing herself that is so cute. She always speaks her mind, and if you’re not right she will call you on it.

She became my plus one at so many events. I don’t have many pictures of myself solo but I have a ton with her. There’s one where I’m just sick of posing.

DONNIE

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Now, the reason for my visit home in November. Donnie Ferneau is getting married to his perfect match. When I first met Meaghan, I liked her immediately. She hung out at our cooking classes and gave makeovers to my daughters. We went through an ordeal together when my publication published an article about Donnie’s potential reality show. If anyone in Little Rock is gonna have a reality show, it would be Donnie. But he wasn’t ready for the news to go public, and I got into it with the writer and the editor. I think this is an example of why they wrote about me being “a force to be reckoned with.”

But it looks like they all made up, because he’s holding his hog for the annual Arkansas Times hog roast.

I can’t wait to see all these people.

Thelonious Wines

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Lisa from This Beautiful Day invited our Portland blogger group on Facebook to attend a potluck at this fairly new boutique wine shop in the Pearl District, an area flocked by Portland’s finest.

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While the event is further away this month, I found myself curious about Thelonious Wines. They have some very creative videos on their Instagram, and one of them in particular made me decide that Kelsey sounded like one hell of a sommelier.

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Two Years

It’s been 2 years since I’ve been sharing my eats around Portland, and it seems like Instagram is almost enough for that purpose. So I’m starting to feel like this blog is becoming more of an extended “About me” and significant happenings of my life. I love to share my love of food, but you might be surprised by some of the things that have encompassed my life.

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September 29th marked the two year anniversary of the day that my feet hit the famous PDX airport carpet for the first time. I arrived with my little shih tzu, while my husband and daughters drove across the country in his truck with my car behind it. And what a whirlwind of food it’s been! As you can see above.

My husband is super spontaneous, so we made the decision to leave Little Rock in a split second. Before he could change his mind, I started packing and looking up the best public schools in the Portland area in warp speed. I couldn’t wait to tell everyone that I was moving to the city with some of the best eateries in the country.

I was ready to leave, so I could make a new beginning. The last two years in Little Rock had been a little rocky, and the thought of walking away from it all sounded really good. It was sad, though, the thought of leaving behind so many friends that meant so much to me.

My best friend had just informed me that she was getting a divorce, and I felt bad that I would not be around to support her through it. Earlier that year, 45 FBI agents with AR 15’s let themselves into her house to interrogate her husband John about his sports memorabilia business. That morning, I was sitting in my office at the Arkansas Times, finishing up my makeup. Our staff photographer Brian came in and said, “The FBI is at the Rogers’ house. David and I are about to head over there.”

I called Angelica immediately. “Are you okay?” I asked.

“The news is out?” she asked. Later on, there were pictures of the agents in their blue and yellow jackets outside the house. Really, 45 agents.

I never asked what he did, or if he did it. I was firmly committed that he was innocent. Until the news started to unfold from other news outlets.

honus-wagner

In 2008, John & Angelica came over to our house for a cookout. John had informed us earlier that he was going to bid on the Honus Wagner baseball card. He was on the phone with the auction house ready to spend a million dollars on a baseball card, and I was preparing sides in the kitchen. John’s best friend Earl came too, and I think if he hadn’t been there, John would not have made the second bid to win it for 1.6 million. Earl was also a pharmaceutical sales rep, he had played for the Razorbacks and the Cowboys, and just as competitive as me. We had fun debating the benefits of each others’ drugs, and he’s very persistent. He calls me sis. We had all been together since we were nineteen.

Later on in Oregon, Sasha’s teacher asked in class if anyone knew who Honus Wagner was. She raised her hand and said that her godfather had owned his card once.

When John made his first million at the age of 28, people started to speculate about how he made his money. Rumors circulated throughout the town. It was no secret that he was talked about often. Once, he told his new neighbors that he was an astronaut. He’s the kind of person that you don’t know if he’s being serious or joking. I usually just played along until he gave in. But if you didn’t know him well, he could fool you. So of course people believed he was an astronaut. His notoriety became a joke that we laughed about.

It really didn’t hit me until I was sitting on Earl’s couch at his house. “It’s no joke anymore,” he said, shaking his head. When it finally hit me, I broke into tears. I didn’t want to know more than what the media reported, so I never asked anyone for details. No matter what he did, we would all stand by him because we were the kind of tight knit group that locked secrets away and swallowed the key. Earl said that it could take up to two years for them to indict John. They really wished they would get it over with, rather than drag it out. But they did drag it out, and they took the entire two years.

It wasn’t a heinous crime. The man had just lost his way.

Angelica was going to stand by John’s side as well, but there were other circumstances that they couldn’t agree on. She wanted the fairy tale, like Julia Roberts. It wasn’t the 11,000 square foot, four story house or the apartment overlooking Columbus Circle in New York that she needed. She walked away from all that in the end. But it was what she had when we were all 22, when she and John lived in a small two bedroom house that they bought for $60,000.

Two years later, I’m so super proud of how she has picked herself back up. Seeing her without her Tag, her five carat diamond, and her Louboutins was shocking at first. But seeing her happy is what makes my heart full.

Are you on Twitter? If so, follow along for more fun with me and my friends!

My First Feast

I woke up at 5 a.m. this morning to make my husband a turkey sandwich for his lunch, so this post may either be a bit tired, or it may gain momentum based on all the thoughts I’ve had all day long coming together. I read a lot of William Faulkner growing up, and Stream of Consciousness really became my favorite style.

Why are kids these days not reading American classic literature by the way?

gourdet

FEAST Portland is HUGE. It’s my second year in town, so I’m new to the party. I’m friends with many foodies in town, and I noticed they were all attending. I missed out on the blogger pass application, so I bought a ticket to one of the last open events. I rarely can buy tickets in advance for events because I don’t know if my husband will be in town or in the country, so I miss out often.

I decided to just go alone if needed. When he surprised me and came home early (abruptly) from his last work project, I tried to buy him a ticket. They were sold out.

hat-yai

But I did get to take him to lunch at Hat Yai, which he and my friend Jenna absolutely loved. They both profusely thanked me for the great recommendation. Who do I look like, an amateur eater? Later on, scrolling through Instagram, under #feastpdx, I saw that Adam Rapoport, the editor of Bon Appétit, had been there the same time that we were. Because in this picture, that’s my friend Jenna on the right. My husband’s hat is showing a bit, and I’m in the middle.

cosentino

Back to Feast now. The event was chef spotting galore. Ugh, I swear I tried to fix my hair that day. But anyway…here’s my selfie with Chris Cosentino. He was super nice. I was standing there wondering how to eat Gregory Gourdet’s wonderful serving on a micro serving dish on my right hand with a wine glass on my left hand. Then I looked over, and I had to ask, “Are you Chris Cosentino?” Yes, he said. I told him I was a big fan. (I loved him and Aarón Sanchéz in that show where they had to eat a do a bunch of challenges, then race to the finish line.)

I’m also excited that he will be opening a restaurant in Portland!

Continue reading My First Feast