Zeke Moses

So most of you know by now that T and I got a dog last summer. Our first responsibility. Practice for kids some day, or so we'd like to think. 

We knew we wanted a dog for awhile, but after a failed go at having a cat and no desire for any other pet except a dog, we decided that once things settled down in our lives we would "talk" about getting a dog. 

Well, when you're Megan Weiss (Love), talk is cheap. We talked and talked and talked for months and did nothing. We were getting reaaaallllly good at talking. 
 What's more, when we saw dogs on the street, they were the kind that would make us run for the door. High-pitched yelping dogs. Dogs that shed over our fur. Dogs that licked their butts and then licked us. Dogs that smelled bad. Dogs that would try attacking us on the sidewalk. None of the dogs we met made us want to even come close to getting a dog. 

Until we saw this guy: 

Zekester. Zeke a Doodle. Zeke Moses. Zeke puppy. Zekie Poo. Stinkeroo. Puppy boy. Zekie-kins. 

Zeke Moses is our adorable Golden Doodle puppy baby. 

Thanks to my good friend Sara McGuire, we were introduced to the Goldendoodle breed because her family was considering getting one too. We had been interested in other doodle breeds because of their hypoallergenic fur, but had never heard of the Golden combo. When we learned how smart and loving they are, combined with the fact that they do not shed whatsoever, we were sold. After laying eyes on our little puppy boy in his litter we knew we had to take him home. 

Bringing Zeke home was one of the best decisions T and I have made so far. Raising a puppy is extremely hard and trying and I imagine much different than raising your own child. T and I are excited to be parents one day, but having this little guy in our lives really does enrich us. 

Zeke has done many naughty things in his short little life so far, such as (in no particular order)

**Eating the drywall in two places in our laundry room. 
**Gnawing on random floor molding in various corners of our house
**Eating three pairs of my shoes, and one pair of T's shoes
**Stealing our roasted chicken off the counter just before it was time to eat
** Necessitating that we buy a carpet cleaner
**Eating through every single sock that we have... he is a sneaky dude
**Destroying toilet paper rolls
**Chewing a hole in my antique wooden chair, in my leather footstool, and gnawing the wood on my new desk

Caught in action:

But we love this little guy. He is smart (so smart that he knows exactly which car is Timothy's coming up the road and will fly to the garage door and wait when he hears it); he is loving (he cuddles up at our feet or rests his head in our laps every single night), he is obedient (okay, we're working on that...) and he is FUNNY (the way he cocks his head to the side, or absolutely knows when he is being naughty and will run away and hide the thing he knows he's not supposed to be chewing). I never knew a dog could have so much personality. 

Having him is a sacrifice, but my heart was so warmed this weekend when we saw him running to his little heart's content on the sand, chasing the ocean and the birds alongside it. He was SO happy. 

So this might be a little bit of an "I heart my dog" post, but really. He warms my heart so much. It's amazing how much love I could have for a silly little dog. If I adore him this much, I am SO excited for the love that is possible for our children someday. God has blessed us so much in our lives-- even with our little stinker puppy, Ezekiel Moses. 


My unofficial list of best Portland Restaurants, in no particular order...

It's no surprise that I enjoy going out, and going out to explore new restaurants in my city nonetheless. A little over a year ago, T and I started something called "supper club" with some of our friends and the year-long monthly tradition included visiting new restaurants in Portland while connecting and breaking bread together. We discovered some favorites and some not-so-greats during supper club, and then T and I carried on that tradition every Friday night by trying someplace new. 

For what my opinion on Portland eating is worth, I'm pleased to present to you my "unofficial list of best Portland restaurants, in no particular order." 

If you have followed anything of mine on Facebook (and trust me, my life is not that cool so I'm not expecting you to...), you will know that I post a lot of outfit ideas with Stella & Dot jewelry, and I check in a lot of times at Piazza Italia. Please do my heart a favor and eat there. One time. Then I can celebrate in "ohmygoodnessdidyousoloveitorwhat!?!?!?!"-ness with you. Try the Spaghetti Aglio Olio, the house Sangiovese, or the Pasta al Tonno. We never stray. (Oh, and if you want to eat here on a weekend, you 100% have to make a reservation by Wednesday.)

Look, I know people probably have their favorite Thai restaurants around the area, but for those of us suburbanites, good Thai is hard to come by. Unfortunately for me, Thai Basil was located about two minutes away from my previous job, so anytime my stomach would growl, it could only be satisfied by a visit to Thai Basil. I may even come close to saying that I love Thai Basil more than I love Chipotle. That's saying something right there. Try the Drunken Noodles or the Oswego Noodles for a variation from traditional Pad Thai. Or, get the Pad Thai. You won't be disappointed. 

We have begun frequenting this sweet Parisian restaurant more regularly than Timothy would probably prefer. There's something special about this place-- whether it's the delicious mimosas, the oversized fresh breakfast pastries or the familiarity for all things French, La Provence does not disappoint if you're craving a little Paris in your life. Breakfast and lunch are fabulous; dinner has recently evolved into Tapas and small plates, which my waistline prefers anyway. It really reminds me of mid-afternoon long lunches at cafes along the Rue Cler. 

We recently discovered food carts. Yes, we're late to the party, but no, I don't regret it. Food carts are to Portland lunches as Starbucks is to morning commutes. I don't know how we waited so long to try it (actually I do. I'm a self-proclaimed recovering germaphobe which travel to Costa Rica miraculously cured me of). Nong's Khao Man Gai is my FAVORITE food cart pod on the 10th & Alder block and serves one dish: Khao Man Gai. Nong is the cook. Therefore it's Nong's Khao Man Gai. There's no straying and no custom orders. You order the Khao Man Gai and that's it. You'll be hooked for life. Live it up, because you won't go back after this. 

I have my eastside friends to thank for this find. Whiskey Soda Lounge is Pok-Pok's better looking other half. Quite frankly, I don't think I'll be back to Pok-Pok know that I know about Whiskey Soda Lounge. Basically, when you go to Pok-Pok and wait in their hourlong line since they don't take reservations, they will, inevitably, direct you to wait at their co-owned Whiskey Soda Lounge across the street. Somehow those sneaky servers know when your Pok-Pok number is ready, so you can rest assured you will be sought out when the time comes. Meanwhile, you're supposed to find a table, grab a drink and eat an appetizer while you wait. But wait. As you look over the menu at Whiskey Soda Lounge, you discover that 99% of the items at Pok-Pok are on it! What?! Nevertheless, you venture over to Pok-Pok after you've eaten some famous wings and had a whiskey soda and realize that you probably should never have left your cozy booth because Pok-Pok stuck you outside in the freezing cold beneath a heater requiring that you don't take your coat or mittens off. And when I say you, I mean me. We have been back to WSL to eat the "famous wings" on a number of occasions, because it is just so much better than Pok-Pok in my humble opinion. 

I will admit, we have not been back to Tasty n Sons in many, many months. Not because we don't completely love it, but because it's just so far away. However, this doesn't stop me from highly recommending it on my not-so-official list because when we can muster up the stamina to crawl out of bed on a Saturday morning and venture to the east side, it is THE spot for us. Who cares about the hourlong wait. I don't. I'm salivating over their potatoes bravas while I sip on some Stumptown hairbender and eye the bartender making the meanest bloody marys I've ever laid eyes on. Complete with peppered bacon. I mean really. Have I tried one? Nope. I'm not brave enough. But they sure do look beautiful if you're a fan. 

7. Broder

Broder makes me feel like I am perpetually in Europe. I never want to leave when I get there. Crowded next to twenty other people who don't care if we bump elbows because that's just what we do. Drinking coffee with a tiny little bottle of steamed milk and salivating over the savory smorgasbord (literally) in front of me. This little Norwegian has found her slice of Scandinavian heaven at Broder. 

NO OTHER RESTAURANT would I wait outside in the rain for. I mean it. Don't be fooled by my raving list of fabulous places above... they are not good enough to make me wait in the rain. If you want to know the real deal, the place where I have (95% of the time) waited in the rain for, it's Por Que No. Why not? Obviously. Best chips and salsa. Best burrito bowls. Best margaritas. Best atmosphere. Best dive. But not really a dive, but kind of. Just go there and you'll know why. 

Okay, this is for all of you with weekend wanderlust, should you happen to find yourself in Newport, Oregon. The Noodle Cafe has a special place in my heart, because it was the place that Timothy gave me lots of praise for being brave enough to try, despite its exterior. We were down in Newport one day last year, and were really hungry. I consulted my trusty companion "Yelp" for the highest-rated restaurants in Newport when none other than the Noodle Cafe popped up. We drove by and I was seriously like, "You've got to be kidding me." It looked like an outhouse. An abandoned outhouse. I refused to eat there because it was such a dumpy place. But we drove around and I said "Okay, let's go in." then, "Nevermind, let's not." We played that game around five times and four trips around the block when I caved. I was so hungry, and surely all the Yelpers weren't also liars. Well, come to find out this place is one we STILL talk about to this day. The exterior may have been nothing to write home about, but the food was. Their hospitality, service and quality was out of this world. We had a view of the water and everything was so ridiculously fresh. I'm looking for any excuse possible to make it down to Newport again, because the Noodle Cafe is where it's at. 

And that's it for now. My unofficial list of current favorite restaurants. It's time for the Bachelor so I can't finish my commentaries, but I didn't get to Irving Street Kitchen, Paragon Restaurant or Decarli. Check those places out too. 

Pick one off this list for your next Friday night date night, and you won't be disappointed. Trust me. 


Seven years ago today.

February 15th is a day that used to loom in the back of my mind like the {too big} elephant in the room. I was insecure in the early years how to approach this upcoming day with reverence and hope, while allowing the events of the day to slowly replay in my mind like a slideshow. February 15th, 2006 was the worst day of my life, and true testimony that God's strength and grace is sufficient to carry us through our darkest hour. I look back in awe wondering how I even managed to move, eat, sleep or function and know that it was only because I was carried. Because God is faithful. Because God loves us and promises not to give us more than we can handle. He truly brought me through the refiner's fire and held me every step of the way and I am so thankful He chose me to go through something like this
-- not because it was enjoyable or pleasant or not difficult, but because it immensely changed my life forever and my relationship with Him was rescued. The hope I have is that I know I will see my mom and Chase again, and I know this is just a temporary separation. While I miss their every day presence in my life beyond measure, God has covered that hole in my heart and filled it with his presence, and with relationships to support me. 

Now,  February 15th is a day of reflection for me because the pain and the sting is no longer there. My heart aches in remembering the tragedy and the chaos of that moment when we found out that my mom and Chase were gone, but my heart overflows with gratitude when I remember the immense hope and joy we felt when we discovered that Taylor had survived. Words cannot express the juxtaposition of emotions in that hour-- grieving over an unimaginable loss and celebrating a hopeful future at the same time. February 15th is a day of praise and thanksgiving to God for blessing me beyond measure and restoring unto me all that I lost that year and then some. 

I'm writing this today to encourage you that no matter what grief you have gone through or are afraid to go through in the future, there is hope. There is hope in Jesus Christ and in his sacrifice on the cross to bring us into heaven with him eternally if we believe. There is hope in knowing that GOD LOVES YOU, and that nothing in this world is greater than His power. Because God loves you, He is faithful to protect and to deliver you. God wants to bless you, and if that means healing you from grief or carrying you through trials, He will. Do not lose hope. Do not lose faith. Hope is the strongest life raft you can cling to during your darkest hour. 

There is also hope that you WILL heal from your circumstances-- whether that is when you enter heaven, or still here on Earth. Grief doesn't last forever. Seven years for me seems like yesterday. It gets easier. If you've lost a loved one, allow yourself to move in the grief process as wholly and authentically as you know how; don't hold anything back from God. But allow him to heal you. Don't be afraid to heal. Healing doesn't mean forgetting their memory of moving them out of your life. I can promise you with absolute certainty that those you love will be in your heart and thoughts on a daily basis. Celebrate their life with things that they love. Relish in the memories that you have of them and enjoy those times. Honor their memory by carrying on their traditions, or moving in the legacy of character that they left you. Laugh when you need to, and cry when you can as well. Grief never ends, but the hold that it can have on our lives will. 

On February 15th, 2006, I lost my beautiful mom and my 10 year old brother in a horrific car accident that had the power and significance to put me into fear, bitterness and hiding for the rest of my life. I have a million reasons why I could be angry, and 10 million instances that I can point the blame to. But NOTHING and no thoughts of mine will ever bring them back. I was faced with a choice-- a fork in two roads: Either get up out of bed and live the rest of my days honoring their lives, or hide away in bed hating God and letting this circumstance cloud my future. God's strength and power got me out of bed, and my hope in His promises moved me forward. 

So today, I am drinking Starbucks coffee out of the last Valentine's Day present my mom got me: A Starbucks card and a Valentine's Day mug. 

I'm getting a pedicure, because my mom and I used to get them all the time together, I'm reading Psalm 95 which was the first Bible passage that Chase memorized (and was so proud of himself for), I'm listening to my mom's favorite worship songs to remember their truth, and I'm having a fun girls' night with some of my best friends tonight because my mom would definitely have joined us. :) 

Grief does not have to be crippling. As believers, we know that leaving this life means entering a new one. While we wish our loved ones were with us, we can know we will be reunited again in the future. Don't be afraid to move on, because those you love will never leave you. Psalm 22:24 says, "For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him, but has listened to his cry for help." 

You can read more of my story here: http://love-lylife.blogspot.com/p/what-god-has-done.html

Who Tay has grown up to be now... a blessing to all of us. :)


Our upcoming travels of 2013

So part of me feels like I'm going to be ill over the price of flights to Europe for the summer. RIDICULOUS. I mean seriously. I have probably wasted close to an hour each night for the last six weeks checking flight prices and comparing/researching to no avail. Booking expensive flights is so not fun because there is always this wondering of "are they going to go down in price tomorrow?" type of thing. So today, I booked. I booked the absolute by far most expensive plane ticket I have ever purchased in my LIFE. Let's just say that we'll be working overtime for the next five months to try and make up that punch in the stomach, but like Timothy said tonight: It's a necessary evil. 

Because: We're going to Europe!! 

Teachers have the fabulous yet unfortunate circumstance of only having the summer for dedicated travel time. Therefore, it means we pay three times what anyone else traveling during off-peak season pays, we have 5 times as many crowds, and generally things sell out quicker. But again: necessary evil. 

After I finally calmed down over this large expenditure, T and I talked over dinner tonight and he reminded me of our reality: We are taking a ridiculously amazing dream trip to Europe for two weeks, visiting Rome, Ephesus, Pompeii, Athens, Mykonos, Santorini, Istanbul and Florence and then the most decadent thing of all-- we're leaving Europe to meet up with my family for ten days in Disneyworld. I mean, it's almost embarrassing... but if it is what it is, then I'll take it. :)

We absolutely do not take these circumstances for granted, and it is totally game on for the next few months to see how hard we can work to pay for the duration of our summer travels fully in cash. We're already very proud of ourselves because we've paid for our trip to the Caribbean next month in cash and have saved frugally and stringently for the last year to be able to do so. As cheesy as Dave Ramsey is, his theories (for the most part) really do work. And because of it, we're paying freely for the thing we love fourth in our life (after God, each other, and family): travel. 

We like to say that we work to travel. Travel is a huge part of who we are; our worldviews, our ideas, our thoughts and dreams. Travel has changed us so much in so many ways, and it is what keeps us motivated to work twelve to fourteen hour days, seven days a week. Adventures and exploring has brought us closer together, impacted and shaped our marriage and taught us so much about each other. 

We want to raise our kids traveling. We want to teach them to be uncomfortable in unfamiliar situations and learn how to navigate things that are foreign with confidence. We want to immerse them in other cultures and teach them respect for it. We want to show them history. We want them to walk in the footsteps of influencers before them. We want them to be captivated by nature's beauty and have wonder for things that are God-inspired.  The more that we travel, the more it will become imbedded in our family life and in the way our kids grow up. 

So, our travel plans have officially finalized as of this morning. 2013 will take us to:

1) Fort Lauderdale
2) Cozumel
3) Jamaica
4) Grand Cayman
5) Haiti
6) Rome
7) Ephesus
8) Naples
9) Istanbul
10) Athens
11) Mykonos
12) Santorini
13) Florence
14) Orlando
15) Vegas

Wow. Just reading that list humbles me in great thanks to God who provides for us and blesses us to pursue this thing in life that we love called travel. 

Whether you also have perpetual wanderlust like we do, or live vicariously through House Hunters International at 7:30pm on weeknights... ;) I hope you'll journey with us this year on our adventures and be inspired as we are, even from home, about what can be learned through earnest travel. 


Home cooking

One of the things I am loving about transitioning into the semi-freelance lifestyle is the amount of time I will {soon} have to prepare more meals at home from scratch.

I don't know about you, but for the last two and a half years, our meals have consisted of the following menu:

  • Burrito bowls (sometimes three times a week!)
  • Trader Joe's gnocchi with chicken
  • Trader Joe's orange chicken
  • Spinach salads
  • Breakfast burritos from Trader Joe's 
  • Yogurt
  • ...and the occasional salmon burger or baked chicken with rice. 
I mean seriously. We have TJ's so mapped out with our basics that I could shop for a week in about 5 - 10 minutes. And it's embarassingly been this way since we've been married. This life isn't okay for the long term.

 While I am vigilant to watch the foods we eat for preservatives, corn syrup, artificial ingredients, etc., they are still not super fresh. But quick and easy has been the name of the game for us, and really, Trader Joe's has a corner on the market for that need.

However, I'm really, really tired of the same old same old and have Pinterest envy of friends who have time to make things that are healthy and from scratch. BUT-- the more I've looked into it, the more I've discovered that so many food blogs out there (thank goodness for food blogs!) have dishes that can be prepared in under 30 minutes. My recent obsession of watching The Biggest Loser, paired with my discovery of some amazing food blogs has got my heart set on easy, quick home cooked meals.

Since T and I have been married, we both get up at 6am to go to work, get home around 5:30, work out or walk the dog until 6:30 or so (or work late, or, realistically, waste time in traffic most days...), and the desire to cook a meal from scratch after 12 hours days working kind of goes out the window. We're lucky if we can manage to scrape our frozen gnocchi together in a somewhat presentable manner while we both continue to work from 7:30 - 10pm. (Him: grading, me: editing or writing). SO... the moral of this long-winded story is that for me, while the 9-5 will soon be gone, I'm thrilled to have found some awesome options for cooking healthy and delicious home-cooked meals from scratch in less than thirty minutes.

I wanted to share two blogs with you that I ADORE, and that I have made some pretty amazing dishes from in this past week. (Warning: they have all been pasta dishes. I'm kind of obsessed with pasta.)
I can tell you with certainty that these recipes are legit. If my husband spent time after our first meal asking, "Where did you find that recipe?" and then Googling it himself to pick out other recipes he wanted to try (AND emailing them to me to make sure I had them...) then you know they're good.

{Above} This was the Garlic Pasta recipe from Pinch of Yum. 

We also made the "Chicken Soup Noodles" dish from Pinch of Yum last night... but because I had a minor dog-eating-my-rotisserie-chicken-mid-cooking meltdown which resulted in my husband having to run to Costco to buy another chicken... and me pouring myself a nice glass of wine after two hours of cleaning and prepping this meal... I did not take pictures. But it was de-lish. (Currently savoring my leftovers of last night.)

So, moral of the story: You can be a four-jobbed-one-dogged-no-kidded wife and make healthy, home cooked meals in thirty minutes or less. I love you Trader Joe's, but I am so over your freezer meals.

Blogging tips