My Faves of Portland : {Making the most of a short trip}

IMG_6371_2“Keep Portland Weird” is a phrase that was painted on the wall of a local pizza place by our hotel…and it says so much about Portland!  Portland is weird and quirky and artsy and beautiful and they own it!

Because my mom is a cosmetic laser trainer and travels all the time; training clinics and doctor’s office staff on their newly purchased lasers….she gets to travel and earn lots of travel points and rewards!  So we used some of her rewards points and had a mother/daughter trip to Portland two weeks ago!

It was a short trip (Sunday night-Wednesday evening) so we had to make the most of our time to ensure we saw everything we wanted to.

Despite only being there a few days, I FELL IN LOVE WITH PORTLAND!  It had all the best things of a big city: tons of things to do and see, so many great and unique eateries, amazing parks, quirky neighborhoods, etc……but it was so much better than most of the famous big cities I have visited!  Mainly because it was clean, lush and green, the people were so friendly, and it was oh so quiet!  Of course being the socal girl that I am….it helped that it didn’t rain while we were there :).

Here are just a few highlights and recommendations on where to eat and what to see when there….especially if its only for a short time!  Prior to leaving I scoured blogs, Pinterest and yelp to make sure I hit great spots.  Plan a trip there soon friends!!

EAT:

  • VooDoo Doughnuts – Famous for their crazy donuts
  • Salt & Straw – Amazing & unique ice cream flavors (like Olive Oil)…plus this is in a cute neighborhood that I wish I had time to really explore!
  • Tasty & Alder – Great breakfast biscuits! (although I still need to try Pine St. Biscuits)
  • Veritable Quandary – The Bacon Dates app was on point, and everything was so delish here…but make a reservation!
  • Cheryl’s on 12th – Not only did I chat and talk about babies with the actual Cheryl, but my mother and I shared drinks, chatted, and showed off baby pictures with a lovely couple sitting next to us.  Oh yeah and the food was great…I had a fig & goat cheese sandwich!
  • Stumptown Coffee Roasters – The best coffee…seriously so smooth and delish!  You will find a number of cafe’s and bakeries around the city that promote that they brew Stumptown.
  • Lovejoy Bakers – Grab a Stumptown coffee and a pastry and you can sit on their adirondack chairs and just relax..taking in the Pearl District!
  • Petunia’s Pies & Pastries – Vegan Bakery…my mom was obsessed with the raspberry bars
  • Ken’s Artisan Bakery – We had an amazing lunch here…the bread is so fresh and I love that goat cheese came on the salad.
  • Andina – Peruvian Food (I recommend the cheese plate & quinoa crusted shrimp)
  • Isabel – Yummy latin breakfast (I had the artichoke scramble)
  • Lonesome’s Pizza – Open late and cheap delicious slices from a tiny speak-easy type window (Cash Only)

SEE:

  • Washington Park – There are endless things to do here.  You can visit the zoo, rose garden, japanese garden, tree arboretum, children’s museum, etc.  And the hiking…oh the amount of trails!
  • Waterfront Park – This runs along the river which divides Portland and it is a great walk where you can take in all the gorgeous bridges!…just watch out for all the bikers!
  • Keller Fountain Park – This is a fountain (although it didn’t have water when we were there) that just looks so cool!

SHOP:

  • Powell’s Bookstore – THE bookstore in Portland
  • The Pearl District – This was my favorite neighborhood to explore.  It has a ton of cute shops, adorable homes and apartments, art installations and sculptures line the streets, and it is just oh so hip feeling haha.

HELPFUL TIPS:

  • You can’t catch cabs in the city…just from the airport or if your hotel calls one for you
  • The train/bus system is awesome but you can walk the city fairly easy (when you stick to one side…I.E. the Westside or the Eastside)
  • Best months to travel there are August and September…a friend from there told me Don’t go in the fall!…you can seriously get just drenched by the rain!
  • They offer great tours…like bike tours and brewery tours.
  • If you do rent a car…there are lots of one way streets and you have to pay for parking pretty much wherever you go in the downtown area…but I didn’t find it was too hard to find a spot or too expensive.
  • Traffic going in and out of the city can be rough so plan ahead when trying to catch a flight.

I MUST go back…and maybe I will bring the hubby along next time :).

IMG_6382_2

My favorite cheat sheet/map that I found! IMG_6379_2We loved our stay at the Embassy Suites Downtown…the decor was so 1920’s art deco…and the accommodations were great!
IMG_6510No joke the cheese plate at Andina’s…the corn nuts!…so good 
IMG_6514 IMG_6473Our appetizer at Veritable QuandaryIMG_6469_2These cinnamon/sugar puffs (like a beignet) come free as you wait for your meal at Cheryl’s on 12th!IMG_6458This is at Washington Park and there were just so many trails!….I was almost expecting Edward Cullen to walk out from behind a tree.
IMG_6461Lush lush lushIMG_6446These are the drinking fountains that are spread around the SouthWest side of Portland…they are all around and the water constantly flows!  Plus the water there tastes AMAZING!IMG_6443_2Keller Fountain Park…would have been so cool if it was flowing…but still so beautiful.IMG_6441_2Walking along Waterfront ParkIMG_6426_2VooDoo Doughnuts…the line can get cray so go when its slow!IMG_6419_2This place is so adorable and the vegan treats were delish!
IMG_6409Our lunch at Ken’s Artisan BakeryIMG_6398_2At Lovejoy BakersIMG_6400_2Oh you know…just a baby on a bench :).  IMG_6392_2Such cute homes in The Pearl!IMG_6391_2Oh I love all the greenery!

There were a ton more places to see and eat at but there just wasn’t time (feel free to comment if you want more recommendations).  So….looks like I will just need to go again.  Until next time PDX!

Cocoa & Pumpkin Fruit & Nut Bars {Paleo}

IMG_2601

I am a snacker…especially at work.  This is because I get up so early (3am) that “normal meal times” sorta go out the window.   So I am always looking for a quick snack that is somewhat healthy.  But of course I often fail and go for whatever is easy and close.  The traditional granola bar frustrates me because it is usually loaded with tons of bad sugars and unwanted extras….or is super expensive!  So after seeing this fruit and nut bar recipe (compare to lara bars) on fitsugar.com I was inspired to make my own batch, make a few changes, and add some other flavors!  I like this recipe because it is super easy to modify with your preferred fruits, nuts, spices, etc.

Ingredients: {Yields approx. 12 Bars}

  • 2 Cups Nuts (I used 1 1/2 cup almonds/1/2 cup walnuts)
  • 18 Large pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit (I used 1/4 cup raisins & 1/4 cup apricots)
  • 2 tbsp  Spice(s) of choice!  (I split the batch and did one with pumpkin pie spice and the other raw cocoa)

*You can also add unsweetened coconut flakes to add more flavor, texture and thicken the bar OR if you have a sweet tooth you can add some dark chocolate chips.

Directions:  {So easy to make}

  • Combine fruit and nuts and process in food processor approx. 2 minutes until everything is finely chopped.
  • You may need to process fruits and nuts separately (depending on food processor size) and then combine by kneading together with your hand (which is what I did).
  • Place mixture between wax paper and roll out until 1/2 inch thick.  Try and roll into a rectangle which will help with cutting even bar shapes.  To keep the same shape you may need to cut off uneven sides and re-roll them in the center of the mixture.
  • Freeze rectangles for 1 hour to solidify mixture a little more, then cut, and wrap individually in plastic wrap!

*Keep them in the fridge.  Also be careful not to freeze longer than an hour in the wax paper or it will stick to the bars.  You can also use plastic wrap instead of wax paper.

IMG_2535IMG_2538IMG_2540IMG_2544IMG_2549IMG_2555IMG_2558IMG_2568IMG_2586IMG_2589

IMG_2595

Prime Wine Birthday Party

IMG_4927After having my baby I would be up at all hours of the night needing to feed her. Those middle of the night feedings became what I like to call “Pinterest Time” or “Sleep Pinning.” One of those nights I came across an idea for a wine tasting party and I got so excited! Something that Pinterest is great at is making you want to throw fabulous parties! I sent a text to my good friend Heather who later sent a text to our other good friend Diana and before we knew it we were planning a wine tasting party just for fun! We later realized that the three of our birthdays were not only coming up but were weeks apart from each other. We decided to combine our excitement for the wine tasting party and our birthdays to create the “Prime Wine Party.” (Note: We describe our age and time of life as “Our Prime”. See http://sweetlylemon.com/2013/07/19/30-not-so-dirty-or-flirty/ )

Throwing a party with friends is such a great idea because you can combine your creative strengths, and it is more cost effective and manageable. The party was such a success we know it won’t be the last!

IMG_4965Heather, Diana & I

IMG_4937

View More: http://dianarush.pass.us/prime-birthday-partyPhoto courtesy of http://www.dianarush.com/

IMG_4972

IMG_4969

IMG_4935

IMG_4806

IMG_4777The glasses needed two coats of chalkboard paint on the top and bottom. Note that if using chalkboard pens instead of plain chalk the writing dosen’t fully come off!

IMG_4816

IMG_4804

IMG_4800The “White Table” featured appetizers that can be best paired with white wines.

IMG_4799

IMG_4810The White Table Appetizers:

Caprese Salad Skewers, Gorgonzola Bruschetta, Prosciutto w/ Cantaloupe Bacon Wrapped Dates, Veggie Plate, GF Pasta Salad, Grilled Chicken & Steak Skewers, Fruit Tray (Apples, pears, grapes, strawberries, cherries), and an olive bar.

IMG_4809The “RedTable” featured appetizers that can be best paired with red wines.

IMG_4941

IMG_4807The Red Table Appetizers:

Grapes, dried apricots, dried dates, walnuts, jams, wide variety of crackers and toasts, variety of dried meats and over 10 different kinds of cheeses.

IMG_4808

IMG_4926

IMG_4791The Sweets Table:

This table featured dessert or “Sweet” wines/champagnes, as well as dessert: GF Cupcakes, Strawberries and Vegan Buttercream Dip, Variety of Unique Dark Chocolates, Lemon Macaroons, GF Cookies, Susie Cake Cupcakes, caramels, and salted caramel brownie bites (Click for Recipe)

IMG_4955

IMG_4957

IMG_4922

IMG_4949

IMG_4763Wine bottle ring toss gave the guests something to play with during the night.

Easy Homemade Ring Toss Tutorial: Click Here

IMG_4925

IMG_4964

IMG_4962We provided a basket of supplies to make S’mores and some of our guests got really creative with it! For example someone made a S’more with graham crackers, Brie Cheese, and Sea Salt Dark Chocolate.

IMG_4838

IMG_4975

IMG_4974

IMG_4839

IMG_4836

IMG_4918At the end of the night there were lots of empty bottles and left over wine! We provided about 6 bottles of red, white, and sweet wines and then asked the guests to bring a bottle to share in lieu of gifts and there was such a variety!