Wild & Scenic Film Festival

Nevada City Today I’m leaving rain-soaked Eugene for five days and heading down to Nevada City, California for the Wild and Scenic Film Festival (and the gorgeous High Sierras). Five films my organization co-produced will be featured at the festival, along with dozens of other amazing works (like this!). I’m stoked to hang with talented individuals, do a little hiking and see what the nation’s premiere environmental and adventure film festival is all about.

Look for photos next week!

M

(photo from Liz Rusby)

the best caramel sauce & a few winter treats

If you’ve been searching for the world’s best caramel sauce, look no further. Meg introduced this recipe to the family last year around the holidays, and this year I made some for all of my close Portland friends (…and myself). Who knew sugar, butter, and cream could produce such a heavenly substance!

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 This rich, buttery sauce makes the perfect topping for ice cream, warm apple pie, or a large spoon.

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Here’s the recipe (courtesy of Deb at the Smitten Kitchen).

A few more Winter favorites are Douglas Fir Spring Tips tea, and Joy the Baker’s Orange Gingerbread with Cream Cheese Frosting, which go hand in hand and are best accompanied by a good book and a fireplace.

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Relish the charm of the Winter season, Spring will be here before we know it!

L

MCMC Fragrances

Anne McClain is doing it right. The creator of the Brooklyn based MCMC Fragrances is inspired by personal stories and memories, uses natural ingredients for every fragrance and ensures all MCMC products “come to life in a way that feels natural, fun and elegant to the wearer.” Anne is also pleasantly wonderful when it comes to corresponding via email about special requests and inquiries.

Lauren and I each have a favorite MCMC fragrance. I love Hunter, which was inspired by an old friend of Anne’s who played guitar and taught her to love the natural world. It has notes of tobacco, vanilla and fir, and is perfect for winter days in the Northwest. Lauren prefers Noble, the fragrance that started it all. It’s both floral and woody and can be worn 365 days a year.

The best part about her fragrances is that they are all subtly rich, and never overbearing. And for all of the bearded men out there, MCMC has something for you too. Meet Dude No. 1, a beard oil inspired by her husband. It’s 100% natural and with cedarwood, coriander and peppercorn it’s both woody and spicy.

What are your favorite fragrances?

M

Here’s to Healthy, Happy 2013

I rang in 2013 with a few of my closest friends and one of my favorite places in Oregon. Any post-New Years Eve drowsiness couldn’t keep us away from a beautiful day of hiking in the Columbia River Gorge.

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Neighborhood blocks lined with naked Christmas trees remind us that the holiday season has come to a close, and by now most of us are back in the swing of things…work is once again in full force, as is the hussle and bussle of our daily lives. But, before we sail through another year, I think it’s important to take these first few days to reflect and reenergize ourselves. I’m not really big on resolutions, but I do see the importance of being mindful of accountability and growth, so I have made a few goals for myself in 2013. My biggest goal is to stay happy and healthy, and DO what makes me happy and healthy (because, as I have learned recently, it’s never about what you say, it’s always about what you do).

2013 is bound to be full of new opportunities and exciting adventures. Here’s to an amazing year filled with great friends, delicious food, and lots of laughter. May this be the best one yet!

L

My Friend, Horse Feathers

I’m not sure if there is anything better than music. Food, trees, and good company come close, but there’s something really special about the way a song, band, or musician can fit perfectly with your mood in a unique time and space. For me, morning commutes to work are accompanied by Hieroglyphics mixed with a little Tallest Man on Earth, campfires go hand-in-hand with Cat Stevens and CCR, road trips with Fleetwood Mac, long runs with Lady Gaga, and in quiet times of list-making, baking, reading, and writing, Blind Pilot, Emmylou, The Band, and Horse Feathers are my best friends (I’ve come to terms with the fact this friendship is the epitome of one-sided, and that’s 100% OK).

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I saw Horse Feathers, a Portland-based band, play a show at The Echo a few weeks ago. The venue was small and intimate, which made the perfect setting for Justin Ringle and his multi-orchestral crew to deliver hours of folksy, heart-swelling tunes…Brought me back to memories of their show in Eugene last year, surrounded by great friends and the hoppiest of IPA’s.

Give them a listen, and see their NPR Tiny Desk Concert here.

L

P.S. Happy New Year’s Eve! May your champagne flutes never run dry…

Cooking with Deb

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Lauren and I both found copies of Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen cookbook hiding under the tree this Christmas, and my goodness! The woman went all out. With over 100 scrumptious recipes, beautiful photographs (dare I say, food porn?) and hilarious kitchen stories, Deb has won over our hearts (and our drooling mouths) more than we thought possible.

In the New Year, we are excited to try a new recipe from the book each week. We’ll share photos, and our cooking/baking experiences here.

A few things we’re especially looking forward to testing out…

(Lauren)
Honey and Harissa Farro Salad
Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Gallette
Cranberry Crumb Bars with Mulling Spices

(Me)
Greens, Eggs and Hollandaise
Corn Risotto-Stuffed Poblanos
Heart-Stuffed Shells in Lemon Ricotta Bechamel

“I hope you’re hungry” – Deb (and the Wards)

M

From Stumptown to La La Land

I headed south to Los Angeles from Portland, Oregon last July, where a yearlong job in education and the opportunity to get out and try something new awaited. My quiet life among the damp green transitioned quickly into one of sun, subways, and sixth graders…and coffee.

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A woman recently asked me what I do in LA when I’m not working…I told her I spend a lot of time in cafés. Can that be a hobby? I hope so. I’ve scoured the city for the best places to hunker down on Saturday mornings and Sunday afternoons, and I think I’ve been pretty successful. Here are a few of my favorites:

1. Stories, Echo Park. Stories is a bookstore with a café in the back, and a darling patio area outside. They have good coffee and great pastries (which you can find at the Hollywood Farmer’s Market most Sundays), but the best part about Stories is the cozy ambiance and friendly people. And who doesn’t love to be surrounded by books while doing work? Totally inspiring.

2. Square One Dining, Hollywood. Square One is one my favorite places for breakfast in LA. They use fresh, local ingredients, serve bottomless cups of Intelligentsia coffee, and have one heck of an outdoor seating area.

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Brioche french toast with banana-citrus caramel at Square One

3. Mornings Nights, Silverlake. This place has the best bagel sandwiches of all time, AND some of the nicest baristas (though I have generally been impressed with the friendliness of Angelinos). The inside is a bit small, but there is ample space out front to sip a latte and watch all the beautiful young people mosey down Sunset Blvd in their weekend best.

4. Café Los Feliz, Los Feliz. This place. This is the place you come to when you need a hearty breakfast and a smile. I came here with my parents when they visited for my birthday, and they were impressed with the down to earth owner (even before she gave us an assortment of sweets for the road) and the quaintness of this small café in the big city. Killer breakfast sandwiches and croissants to boot!

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A lovely almond croissant at Café Los Feliz

Cheers!

L

Banff & Plain of Six Glaciers Trail

I wanted one last big jaunt before darkness crept in, before days in the office grew longer, and before that good ol’ Oregon rain inevitably graced us with her presence. Banff National Park in Alberta, B.C. was the perfect end to summer. And although we’re in the throes of winter and the new year is just a couple of days away, I’m still reminiscing about the drive through the Canadian Rockies, the golden Aspens, late night skinny dipping in an emerald glacial lake and the best damn hike I’ve been on all year.

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The 9 miles out and back on the Plain of Six Glaciers trail was stunning every second of the way. From the beginning of the hike along the shores of Banff’s famous Lake Louise, to the glacial streams running along the trail, to the charming teahouse we stopped at to gobble up soup and sandwiches before making our way up the last mile of the trail, every bit of it was overwhelmingly beautiful and the experience is one I’ll look back fondly upon for years to come.

Being amongst mountains is where I often find myself most contemplative. Whether it’s pushing myself further up the trail, further into the unknown or stopping to quietly examine the ground I’m walking on, or the trees I pass, I always come away with a greater sense of self-awareness and a renewed appreciation for wild places.

Looking forward to backpacking, camping and more day hikes in 2013. Stay tuned for adventures to come.

M