Salt & Fog

The Art of Veronica Casson


One Week in Portland

illustrationVeronica CassonComment

I have been doing a piece of art everyday detailing our Portland adventures.


After having been snowed in since we arrived, we decided to walk to Barbur's, a market about a half mile away. What a great place! Like an independent much less expensive Whole Foods with a Mediterranean slant. Luke ate snow and talked the whole way. 


Snowed in again. Julie and Luke made homemade bread and I made pickles. Luke wanted to bring one of the loaves to the neighbors sharing the other side of our duplex.

street sledding

Street sledding! 
We are still snowed in. Tried getting our truck out, but no luck. Luckily the disappointment was tempered with finding a discarded sled and boggie board in our neighbor's driveway.

Bus Stop Snowmen

Making a snowman while waiting got the us into town. During the ride we received an ice storm warning so decided only to stop for lunch then return home.


We finally got our car out of the snow. A good thing too, as we were invited to a "talk with pictures" event at a fabulous comic store. Books with Pictures was one of the most welcoming kid-friendly, LGBT inclusive, feminist comic stores I have been too. Our family is sure to be regulars.
Luke also found a new favorite comic Ultracat.


Finally got out to a food pod -the first time of many I'm sure. (a food pod is a congregation of different food carts that often have facilities, a fire pit, picnic tables, and a roof).

 Before we moved here we knew that would be one of our favorite things from our visits. It was Luke's first time and he sure loved being able to run around in between bites of his amazing burger from Burger Stevens Julie had some ramen from the adjacent cart. Both were so good!


All three of us marched in PDX's Women's march last Saturday. Such an inspirational and empowering day. And everyone was SO kind! Which is a Portland thing in general though I expect it was the same at all of the Women's marches.


And finally we spent yesterday play board games and drinking beers at Cloud Cap games. Such a warm inviting space. $5 gets you all day in a charming game room with a great selection of family and euro games. This one is Dead of Winter. (Our son was not there when we played this one, Zombie apocalypses are no place for a three year old).

Jersey Food Tour Sketchbook

Adventures & Parenting, Pen & PaperVeronica Casson1 Comment

One of my favorite things Julie does on any trip is to sample as much of the regional food as you can. Yes, New Jersey is part of the USA as much as California but culturally I think they share only a common political body. Lifestyle and foods are so different between the two.

Jersey may have it’s share of issues, but it undoubtedly has great food and an absurd amount of diners. Having grown up there, I miss its unique culinary choices and be sure to revisit whenever I visit. Here’s the top shelf choices that make the list. 


Taylor Ham

Synonymous with New Jersey food stuff, and usually the first thing mentioned, is Taylor Ham. Created by John Taylor in 1856, Taylor Ham is a cylinder-shaped salted pork roll, which tastes similar but not the same as U.S. Canadian Bacon. It can be found in almost every restaurant in New Jersey (and almost nowhere else).

It is usually fried up, and served on a breakfast plate or in a sandwich. You can buy Taylor Ham online here


Hard Roll

Crips and shiny on the outside with a soft pillow texture on the in. New Jersey Hard Rolls are a local staple. Often eaten with only butter they resemble puffier kaiser rolls . I always liked mine best with poppy seeds.

Taylor Ham, Egg and Cheese with S.P.K

If you want a fast breakfast in New Jersey is what you do. I think it is the most common morning meal in the state. S.P.K stands for Salt, Pepper & Ketchup. It’s how they do. 


Hot Dogs All-The-Way

You would think this would mean a hot dog with everything on it but it is not. In fact All-the_way sauce is a particular kind of topping that is similar to a ground beef chili. Many hot dog shops in North Jersey exist entirely on the strength of their All-The-Way sauce. The very from place to place but the best have a smoky cajun flavor.

I found this recipe online if you would like to give it a go:


  • 2 lbs ground beef 
  • 2 8oz cans tomato paste 
  • 2 cups water 
  • 1 tsp ginger 
  • 1 tbsp cumin 
  • 1 ½ tbsp chili powder 
  • ¾ tbsp paprika 
  • ¾ tsp onion powder 
  • ½ tsp garlic salt 
  • ½ tsp celery seed 
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon 
  • ½ tsp nutmeg 
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 1 tsp ground pepper 
  • 6 oz Heinz ketchup 
  • 2 tbsp spicy brown mustard 
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce 
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion and another 2 cups that do not go into the recipe. 


The process is just as important as the ingredients, so please do not try to rush this. 

1) Put all measured dry ingredients above into a small bowl and mix well, set aside. 

2) Brown the ground beef while breaking it into the smallest pieces possible, drain most of the grease, leave a little. 

3) Add tomato paste and water directly to the pan with the beef, medium heat, combine well. 

4) Sprinkle all dry ingredients evenly into beef/tomato paste mixture while keeping a medium to low heat. 

5) Add all other remaining ingredients to pan and stir/mix well. Remember, only 1 cup onion goes in. 

6) Slow simmer for at least 1 hour, adding water as necessary so as not to dry out or burn. 


Your final sauce should have enough consistency so it does not drip or get too runny, yet thin enough not to clump into a ball. 


The Happy Waitress

There are an awful lot of diners, and while the temperament of the actual servers can vary from pleasant to hostile, they almost all serve  the happy waitress. It is an open-face grilled cheese  sandwich with bacon and tomato. Get it with a side of fries or it doesn’t count.


Italian Ice

New Jersey Italian Ice is different then the crunchy chunks of flavored Sno Cone found  elsewhere. Somehow the ice always seems smoother and the flavor is more robust. The chain Rita’s is now the gold standard, though I still have fond memories of the small paper cups of the frozen treat that I would get from carts while spending the day on the beach.


Jersey Pizza

So thin-crusted and dripping with butter and olive oil that it needs to be folded in half to be eaten. Jersey and New York both have the best pizza. Hands down. Be sure to get some the next time you are in trip-state area get a "pie." Also it is wierdly cheaper than the places that sell inferior slices.

Luke and I outside a NJ diner for a late night Happy Waitress.

Luke and I outside a NJ diner for a late night Happy Waitress.

The bagels are also spectacular as well but NY may just peak ahead of NJ so I did not add them on the list. I also love the way they serve Antipasti (pronounced Anti-past in Jersey). I did not get a sketch of that one but it was too pretty to not grab a photo of.

Buon appetito!


10 links I am loving and a life refresh

Adventures & ParentingVeronica CassonComment
For what I am  wearing .

For what I am wearing.

It’s September! and we are doing a life refresh. It's inspired partially by it being my birthday soon (I’ve always been one of those troublesome people that thinks birthdays are a big deal) and also because we went on that crazy three week trip (that I am already building groundbreaking blog posts about) and our lives got all thrown out of order.

This refresh is to get our lives back on track. 

Things in our refresh include:



We have failed at doing a budget so many times. This month we are going hardcore and doing that thing where you put cash in envelopes. Each one containing the max amount you should spend in different categories for the week/month. Our 'eating out' envelope will be the most challenging. So much of our money goes to restaurants.



We did Paleo with mixed results earlier this summer and then moved into a Clean Diet, which I really liked. I say “clean" but it was much very the Jessica Alba/Honest company inspired eating plan so I should say Honest Diet, maybe.

Basically it is eating:

  • Nothing with more than five ingredients.

  • Mostly fruit or veggies (2/3rds of your plate should be produce).

  • Proteins are mostly lean meats or fish (red meat sparingly).

  • Limited dairy.

When we were on it earlier this summer I felt so good. My tummy behaved much better than normal. We totally slipped when traveling but are going to try to do that pretty strictly this month.

Full guidelines in her book.




I plan on doing a capsule wardrobe for fall that I am slowly assembling.

However, Indian Summers are big here so I might go ahead and wait until the end of October to implement it. Either way, I know this skirt will be included in it as it is my current fave. (Protip: 40% off currently!




We live by the frackin’ ocean and we utilize it far less than we should. The ocean! I bet you live by some cool stuff you don't do as often as you should too, right?

Our morning walk always passes by the sea, but we have gotten out of the habit of spending extra time there. This month I want to be sure to spend time on the sand or in the water during playdates and and in the evening for dinner picnics as well. Who knows how long we will really get to live here so I better be taking advantage of it.

How about you all? Are there amazing things near where you live that you too often skip over? I want to know what they are! Make this month the one you utilize them and let me know.

I've already started to increase my ocean time by stopping by the beach to walk Byron after dropping Luke off in the morning the three days he has preschool. As opposed to walking Byron around the grass lot next door as I had been doing. You know who loves beaches more than people? Dogs!

Stuff I am Loving This Month:

Kayley Melissa


This YouTube channel. I solemnly swear to curl my hair more often because it looks so much better and Kelsey will help me do it. 


Michael Kors nailpolish in Fantasy

nail polish

Look at this nail polish! I don’t even like blue very much and it’s one of my favorite polishes this year.  Well, month maybe– I change a lot.

Call Your Girlfriend



Call Your Girlfriend. The podcast for long distance besties everywhere. Ammintou Sou and Ann Friedman dish about pop culture, feminism, menstruation and their lives in general. It makes me miss my long distance bestie and i cannot get enough of it.


Smart Planet Lunchboxes



I want these little foldable bento-like lunch boxes. Part of spending less on going out to eat is making lunches at home when Luke and I have outings. How much nicer if the containers were divided and you could fold them up afterwards?

(discovered on JenLovesKev)

Vanity Fair, Special Edition: TansAmerica 


If you told me when I was younger that Conde' Naste would put out a thick glossy magazine celebrating Transgender heroes past and present I would never have believed you.

While growing up being trans was always something to hide, both before and after transition. But look at this?  What a time to be alive.


Star Wars Golden Books


These came out in August are so cute and fun to share with our little reader. Star Wars has a way of sparking the imagination. I love hearing the little stories he makes up afterwards involving the characters or ships. 

Padrons and Shishitos

Eat & DrinkVeronica CassonComment


Yummy bright green chili peppers served at tapas bars throughout Spain, Padrons are easy to cook, serve, and eat an entire a bowl of.  They are completely one of my favorite summer snacks. I’m  not sure why more people in the states don’t “go Padron” and I have been on a mission for years to spread the pepper love.

Padrons are usually only available towards the mid or end of summer until early fall. Each week while they are in season I buy an absurd amount at the local farmer’s market. I have yet to let any spoil, so it’s totally justified, right?

Most Padrons have a mild peppery taste but one in ten packs a huge kick. The taste bud roulette adds a little extra excitement to eating them.


How to Cook:

Heat a large pan with enough olive oil to cover the bottom. Once it is simmering —but before it smokes — throw in as many peppers as you like (or will fit, but don’t crowd them too much).

Stir the peppers a bit until they are mostly covered in oil and  let them sit about two minutes until they start to blister.

Give the pan a few quick shakes to spread the heat around on the peppers for another minute.

Transfer to a bowl and use a three-fingered pinch of chunky sea salt.

Serve Hot.

shishito photo

Shishito Peppers

Very similar to Padrons, Shishito pepper are longer and thinner and hail from Japan.

I have been able to find them at farmer’s markets in the early part of summer and sometimes in asian markets throughout the year. Shishito peppers are also very easy to grow in pots at home!

They are  rarely spicy, so if you have an aversion to fiery foods you’ll want to pick these over the Padrons.

Preparation for Shishito is the same as a Padron.