And the Oscar goes to… YOU for hosting a party!

Tonight is the big night! We normally have a party in honor of the Academy Awards, but this year is different. The east coast time zone combined with a 2 year old with an early-ish bedtime has really done a number on our party hosting. (I’m looking at you too, Super Bowl!)

If I WERE hosting a party though, I would print out this ballot, these bingo cards, and create a menu that looks something like this…

Our Oscar party spread, circa 2017

View our other annual Oscar party recaps here. {2015} {2014}

And a bonus photo of Michael from the 2016 show. What a round little cutie!

Michael getting the statues ready for our 2017 party


2015 National Night Out (Tomorrow!)

It’s already August (where did the past eight months go!?) and with that comes Election Day for those of us in Washington (make sure you vote!) and National Night Out. Both of which fall on the first Tuesday of August.

2015's National Night Out: TOMORROW! What are you bringing?

2015’s National Night Out: TOMORROW! What are you bringing?

What is National Night Out?

National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, better places to live. Together, we are making that happen.

National Night Out enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community and provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances.

Neighborhoods across the nation host block parties, festivals, parades, cookouts and other various community events with safety demonstrations, seminars, youth events, visits from emergency personnel and exhibits.

Growing up I was the Block Watch Captain for our block, organizing the Night Out potluck celebration each year.

Our Megan’s Island neighborhood usually has a get together and this year is only a little different. Our neighbor Dave professionally smokes meats (ribs, brisket, etc. — it smells SO good on our street come football season!) and will be cooking up BBQ chicken and brats for our Night Out celebration.

(Interesting side note: We toyed with the idea of having Dave bring is smoker up to our house and having fresh pizzas and smoked meats, but we didn’t get out stuff together fast enough this year or last. We’re planning a separate neighborhood pizza party instead. Besides, two parties is better than one, right?)

The assignment for those attending our neighborhood potluck this year is to bring a side dish to share. I usually go with brownies, but since it’s been so hot and brownies are kind of boring, I’ve been scouring the internet for a new recipe and I think I’ve found the perfect dish to bring: a watermelon goat cheese salad. (Of course, any and all of these hot weather eats would be perfect for your Night Out celebration!)

I found this recipe in my new (library-issued) Food52 Cookbook, which happens to be our cookbook of the week this week. It’s perfect for the season and should be perfect for a large group of our neighbors. I plan on making a few (mostly lazy) changes, so I’ll include them here. If you want to see the official recipe, visit Food52.

Watermelon and Goat Cheese Salad with a Mint-Basil Infused Vinaigrette
Serves 4

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 handful fresh mint basil 
  • teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 seedless watermelon
  • 1/2 pound fresh goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup unsalted pistachios
  • tablespoons red vine vinegar
  • teaspoon sea salt
  • dash fresh pepper
  1. Roughly chop the mint basil and add the olive oil and the coarse salt. Grind for about 10 minutes and let it sit for about 1 hour at room temperature. (The original calls for using a mortar and pestle, but we don’t have one of those. I’ll improvise.)
  2. Cut the watermelon into cubes and place in a salad bowl in the refrigerator.
  3. Place the pistachios in a pan and on low heat toast them for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove the pistachios from the pan and chop them roughly. Set aside in a small bowl.
  5. Crumble the goat cheese.
  6. Take the olive oil and mint-basil mix and put it through a small mixer. When completely mixed add the vinegar. Mix again.
  7. Take the watermelon out of the fridge, add the goat cheese, drizzle the vinaigrette, sprinkle the pistachios and finish with sea salt and pepper. Mix and serve!

This is what it’s supposed to look like. Check my Instagram feed tonight to see how my version turns out!

Food52's watermelon goat cheese salad

Food52’s watermelon goat cheese salad

I hope you’re able to enjoy Neighborhood Night Out tomorrow and get to know your neighbors!


Star-spangled quinoa salad

Happy belated independence day to you, dear blog reader! I took a brief hiatus from blogging, my real job, and my outside jobs to enjoy the fourth — and the heat — east of the mountains, at my family’s cabin near Vantage.

On the shores of the Columbia

On the shores of the Columbia

We played in the pool, we wine tasted, we did some work around the cabin, and we participated in the community celebrations. Brandon ran the community 5K — he got 24th overall! — and I decided at the last minute to enter the cooking contest.

Spoiler alert: I won!

Sunland Estates Best Salad winner 2015: ME!

Sunland Estates Best Salad 2015 winner: ME!

The cooking contest consisted of several categories:

  • Best burger
  • Best salad
  • Best ribs
  • Best chili
  • Best dessert
  • Best cocktail and costume

I made a quinoa salad with mint, watermelon, feta, and blueberries, in a lime vinaigrette. (Recipe below!) The initial recipe came from our cookbook of the week, Simply Ancient Grains, but I made many changes, including swapping the couscous for quinoa, making it gluten-free. I also added the blueberries for the red, white, and blue-ness of the salad, for ‘Merica. Brandon helped me re-name it, dubbing it “Star-spangled quinoa salad.”

Patriotic watermelons

Patriotic watermelons

There were seven judges, so I plated seven samples of the salad. Dishes were judged on presentation, so I added some fourth of July flair, including watermelon stars and decorative elements on this plate itself.

Star Spangled Quinoa Salad

Star Spangled Quinoa Salad

Star-spangled deliciousness!

Star-spangled deliciousness!

The salad turned out deliciously and there was plenty leftover for us to enjoy it with our burgers and corn-on-the-cob from the grill.

Decked out and ready to go!

Decked out and ready to go!

Our fourth of July feast

Our fourth of July feast

Star Spangled Quinoa Salad (adapted from Simply Ancient Grains) Serves 6-10, depending on serving size

  • 1 c quinoa (this can be altered as you see fit), appropriate amount of water to cook it with
  • 2-3 limes, to be zested and juiced (a couple of tablespoons of bottled lime juice works as well)
  • 2 T olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 2 T honey
  • 1.5 c seedless watermelon, I used about 1/3 of a small watermelon
  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 1/2 c crumbled feta
  • 1/2 c mint
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Cook the quinoa per the instructions, typically 1/2 c of quinoa with 1 c of water (I like to add a swirl of olive oil and some salt and pepper to the pot as it’s boiling)
  2. Make dressing: Combine oil, honey, lime juice and zest with salt and pepper.
  3. Prepare additional ingredients:
  4. Cut watermelon into little chunks (or stars, if applicable)
  5. Chiffonade (cut into small strips) the mint leaves
  6. Wash blueberries
  7. Crumble feta
  8. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and serve!
  9. Add additional salt and pepper as needed. Be careful: feta is salty and too much additional salt may overpower your salad!
  10. Salad can be served warm or cold.
  11. Enjoy!