What to Do During a Long Weekend in New Orleans

What to Do During a Long Weekend in New Orleans

At the beginning of February I met up with two of my best friends in New Orleans, LA to celebrate 17 years of friendship. While the trip didn’t fall on our anniversary (you better believe we have one!), we wanted to make it a celebration of our relationship and strove to create an awesome long weekend of fun, friends, and so much food! Spoiler alert: we were successful! The three of us are scattered in different cities around the United States now (Portland, OR; San Francisco, CA; and Philadelphia, PA) and we picked New Orleans since it was kinda-sorta in the middle.

Continue reading “What to Do During a Long Weekend in New Orleans”
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Happy Galentine’s Day!

Happy Galentine’s Day!

Ah, can you smell that? Mmmm… that’s the scent of chocolate my friends. Tomorrow is 50% off chocolate day, so get ready for some shopping! Today however is Valentine’s Day, or as I prefer to celebrate it, Galentine’s Day!

Since I was about 10 years old I’ve almost always celebrated Valentine’s Day with a group of girls. For me Valentine’s is always about the people you love, not just a single significant other. Luckily, Parks and Rec helped popularize the Galentine’s Day movement! Woohoo! Ladies, gather around, I’ve got chocolate.

This past weekend I threw a Galentine’s Day Party. You may have seen my plate of leftover cookies on instagram! Mmmm. I made a bunch of sugar cookie hearts and whipped up some royal icing which I dyed red, two shades of pink, and a pretty teal blue. I kept plenty of white as well. I like to pop the icing in squeeze bottles like these for easy and less messy frosting. It makes it easier for kids to go at it as well!

Since I’m a pro at over-baking, I had so many cookies left after the party that I ended up spending about 2 hours streaming Netflix and decorating the excess cookies. It was a relaxing way to spend a late Saturday afternoon!

Valentine's Cookies | Land of Laurel

The party was fun and I managed to snap a few pics before everyone arrived. I made a bunch of cupcakes and some biscuits too. A big part of any Galentine’s Day party has got to be the food! I made tons of food – I always do – there was enough for thirty and I had a party of ten! Everyone got to take home leftover though and I even froze some for myself.

Galentine's Day Party | Land of Laurel

I mashed up some re-heated frozen raspberries and added them and their juice to my cream cheese frosting for an simple and natural pink color and a little extra favor. It was so delicious and incredibly easy to get that vibrant pink color! I have half a bag left in my fridge now, so I just might need to bake a cake!

Valentin's Day Cupcakes | Land of Laurel

The raspberry cream cheese frosting could have been a little thicker, but oh well, nobody cared, it was delicious! A bag of Valentine’s M&Ms adds a little party atmosphere. As much as I love fancy chocolate, I have to admit, there is something about M&Ms at a party that is just so right! I cut my biscuit dough into heart shapes as well, because I like to roll with a theme. I whipped some chives, salt, and pepper with some cream cheese for a savory biscuit topping, but I also put out raspberry jam and lemon curd for those with a sweet tooth.

Galentine's Day Party | Land of Laurel

Over all, it was a lovely party and I can’t wait for next year. In the meantime, I’ll just be home drinking hot buttered rum because I over-made the mix for that as well. No harm, no foul there though! There’s nothing I enjoy more than a hot, alcoholic beverage. Mmmm mmmm good!

How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? What about Galentine’s Day? I can’t get enough of spreading the love to all my lady friends! The move to Portland has been so wonderful because of all the women I’ve met here. I really couldn’t feel more lucky!

(Golden) Delicious Apple Pie

(Golden) Delicious Apple Pie

Apple pie is one of the most classic American dishes. It’s the perfect dessert when you want something a little bit lighter that flourless chocolate cake; which for me, is admittedly rare since I’m a crazy chocolate fiend, but even I switch things up now and again! What I love about apple pie is how super easy it is to throw together. All the ingredients are typically ones you have stocked at home and the recipe is pretty fail proof. It’s easier than pumpkin pie to make and just as delicious!

Killer Apple Pie | Land of Laurel

To me, apple pie means fall and Thanksgiving, it means winter and foggy windows, it means filling the house with the smell of cinnamon and cloves, but most of all it means a gathering of friends or family. I like my apple pies tart and spicy, just like my friends, so it’s pretty much the perfect dessert for a girls night. Ha! Plus, apple pie is the perfect house freshener: put an apple pie in the oven 20 minutes before your guests come over and your whole house will smell like heaven! It’s a multipurpose dessert y’all! Check out the recipe below for a super easy and delicious evening.

Killer Apple Pie | Land of Laurel

Ingredients

1 – pie crust

7 – medium, organic, green apples, granny smith is the classic

1 – medium, organic, multi-colored apple, fugi or gala work well

1/2 cup – organic, brown sugar

1  – lemon, zest and juice

1/4 teaspoon – salt

1 teaspoon – cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon – cloves

1/4 teaspoon – nutmeg

4 tablespoons – organic butter

1 – organic egg

Recipe

Split your ball of pie crust dough in two and roll out half, keeping the other half cool in the refrigerator for later as it will form the top crust. Use your rolling pin to help convey the rolled bottom pie crust dough from your counter to you pie pan, then use your fingers shape the dough inside. Leaving half an inch over the edge of the pan, cut off the excess dough. Pop the bottom crust into the oven to pre-bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Once baked, remove from oven and set aside to cool. Turn the oven to 425° to pre-heat for the pie.

While the bottom crust pre-bakes, begin peeling, coring, and thinly slicing your apples. You want your apples to be roughly peeled, so don’t worry about getting every last bit off. I use this awesome kitchen aide attachment I have and love, and then slice the peeled, cored, and spiral sliced apple in half.  The kitchen aide attachment or counter-mounted version are fantastic because they do all the peeling, slicing, and coring at once, but this isn’t difficult to accomplish with a simple knife alone.

Place the apple slices into a large bowl, add all other ingredients except the butter andegg, and use your hands to toss everything together. Once apples are evenly coated, place in cooled, pre-baked pie shell in a spiral pattern, coating the bottom before placing additional layers. Use small or broken slices to fill any odd spaces. Once you’ve piled your mound of apples into the bottom shell, you will have some excess liquid in your bowl, pour about half over the apples in the pie shell and compost the rest. Cut butter into 8 evenly sized pieces and sprinkle over mounded apples.

Roll out the other half of your pie dough and use it to cover your mounded apples. Pinch the edges into the pre-baked bottom crust and remove any excess. Cut openings in the top crust to allow steam to escape. Coat the top pie crust completely with a whipped egg yolk to give it a deep finished sheen. To make decorative leaves, cut leaf shapes out of excess down, using the knife to carve leaf veins into the tops. Coat leaves with lightly whipped egg white mixed with food coloring and place on pie shell.

Bake at 425° degrees for 10 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350° and bake for another 40 minutes or until crust is lightly browned. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before serving, refrigerate after slicing. Pie keeps well and can be baked and left on counter up to 36 hours in advance, before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream for best results!

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Mango Mint Salad

Mango Mint Salad

I’m sharing another recipe from the dishes I served at my birthday party today! Remember the spread? The colorful crostini? Here is something equally simple that you can totally make ahead of time! Boom! Easy! My favorite.

 

Party Food | Land of Laurel

 

I’ve always just loved mangos. My mom always gave them to us during the summer when I was little. She’d cut them up into little “porcupines” as we called it and we’d use our teeth to scrape off chunks of the delicious fruit, the juices running down our chins until we were sticky messes. Don’t worry, this recipe isn’t anywhere near that messy.

 

My favorite way to cut mangos — for this recipe and just for eating in general– is to slice the mango on either side of the pit. You should end up with 3 pieces, each about one-third the size of the mango, the pit piece being the smallest. Take each side and slice a grid into the flesh of the fruit with your knife. Then use your fingers to push on the peel side of the piece of fruit until it’s “inside-out” and looks like a series of rectangular projections on a hillside (or a porcupine!). Then use your knife to slice off the projection fruit flesh.

 

This Mango Mint Salad is easy, peasy. It requires only three ingredients and can be whipped up in a few minutes. It’s a great use for slightly over-ripened mangos and can be stored in the fridge for a few days, then brought to room temperature, before serving. It’s great for a side dish at lunch or breakfast. It’s a great dish to bring to a barbecue on a hot summer day. With organic mangos at Berkeley Bowl selling at 10 for $5.00 in the summers, I’m guaranteed to make this dish another half dozen times this season alone!

 

Mango Mint Salad | Land of Laurel

 

MANGO MINT SALAD

Serves as a side dish for 4-8 people

Ingredients:

4 – Organic Mangos

3 – Organic Limes

15-20 – Medium-Sized Organic Mint Leaves (freshly plucked from the stem)

 

Instructions:

Cut the mangos into bite sized pieces no larger than three-quarters of an inch. Place into medium sized bowl. Juice the limes and add the liquid to the mangos. Slice the mint leaves into small pieces and stir into the mangos. Let rest for at least thirty minutes, stirring occasionally, before serving. The rest period allow the mango to absorb more of the lime juice.

 

Wasn’t that quick and easy? I promise it’s so delicious, you have to try! I made it the day of my party and then again this weekend to bring to a crab feed. It’s incredibly yummy. I even paired it with avocado toast for breakfast a couple days after my party.

 

Mango Mint Salad and Avocado Toast | Land of Laurel

 

Does anyone else have a fruit that just screams summer to them? That’s what mangos do for me! They’re so inspiring, I know as soon as they come to under $1/each in the grocery store, it’s time for sand, sunscreen, and some lazy, hazy days of summer!

Celebrating 24

This past Saturday I turned thirty-five twenty-four and despite my wish to be about ten years older, it was a wonderful birthday weekend!

 

Friday evening I threw a big birthday party at my house. I absolutely love having parties. They don’t need to be formal or a lot of work to be fun! I did most of my party prep on Thursday evening after work so Friday I had plenty time to do the last few things before my guests arrived. Lucky me, I had some wonderful helpers on Friday who helped get everything ready to go in the last few minutes so I had time to shower!

 

I’ll be sharing a few recipes the next couple of weeks, but I wanted to give you a little preview. We prepped quite a spread. My personal food mantra is there is never too much. I’ve inherited a love of food and feeding people from my father’s side of the family. I simply am not comfortable when I have visitors unless there is a drink in their hand and a snack in their mouth. I have aunts who simply will not rest when you come over, unless you’ve eaten a post-dinner snack and have a bowl of ice cream with homemade fudge sauce in your hand. It’s one of the most endearing qualities of my extended family. These are definitely traits that have been passed on from my parent’s generation to my cousins and I. My food table was quickly full!

 

Party Food | Land of Laurel

 

So at the party I wanted to do a few simple things. I prepped a quick version of my delicious, thick, vegan Butternut Squash Soup on Thursday evening. On Friday I quickly heated up a veggie broth, added everything I’d roasted the day before, and pureed it all together. Then my three helpers (my darling sister Bronwyn, and two of my best friends, Hannah & Nicole) put together a small army of crostini, the toppings of which I’d also prepped on Thursday. Now I love a good crostini, they’re delicious! I’ve already shared my favorite fall appetizer, a Pomegranate, Butternut Squash, Lemon Ricotta crostini and these spring versions were just as easy! They came out just gorgeous and oh so colorful! I promise they also tasted as good as they looked. Other foods I served? A delicious (but small) Mango-Mint Salad, a cheese plate, and a Spring Veggie Couscous salad. Yum!  To top off the entire evening of eating, my sister made an absolutely gorgeous chocolate raspberry cake. It was beautiful! Chocolate raspberry is my dream cake so I was in dessert heaven.

 

For my actual birthday on Saturday, I went out to brunch with my parents and sister at a place in North Berkeley called Cafe Leila. The food was alright. I think the pastries are the way to go at that place, but I ordered pancakes. They were a bit undercooked. Oops! Their selection of teas and lattes is pretty amazing though. We all shared one of their cronuts as well. That was flakey and delicious! My parents gifted me an amazing sewing machine that does an amazing number of awesome stitches so look forward to some sewing tutorials in the future! First step? Hemming some curtains for my bedroom!

 

After brunch my parents left and my friend Hannah arrived. My sister, Hannah, and I then all headed down the California coast towards Santa Cruz! We got a super late start, leaving shortly after 1:00pm. We took 92 over the San Mateo Bridge and over into Half Moon Bay. Before we got to the cute town, we stopped at some of the nurseries to see the amazing array of plants. The greenhouses were humid and simple signs reading “Orchids for Sale” did nothing to disclose the amazing sites within. Orchids as far as you could see in every direction. In every color! It was beautiful!

 

Orchids to Die For | Land of Laurel

 

In another greenhouse, there were amazing carnivorous plants (many of which I wanted to buy considering our summer fly problem!) and nestled among them tiny fairy houses. It was so cute! And these carnivorous plants were so interesting and unusual.

 

Carnivorous Plants & Fairy Houses | Land of Laurel

 

Lastly there were the succulents and cacti! Plants to die for! I wanted to take all of them home and slowly kill them (my go-to method for succulent care). They were so beautiful though!

 

Cacti & Succulent Nursery | Land of Laurel

 

After I’d died and gone to heaven at the nurseries we continued the little ways down Highway 92 into Half Moon Bay where we stopped briefly for sandwich snacks at a small deli and creeped on adorable chicks at the cute hay and feed store on Main Street. Some day I will get to go in and buy those baby chicks rather than just looking! Seriously, there is nothing cuter, y’all!

 

Baby Chicks | Land of Laurel

 

After our pit stop, we hopped onto Highway One and continued down the beautiful coast, stopping occasionally to take in the ocean views. At one point we found what seemed to be a wind surfing convention. Literally dozens of windsurfers were winding their way around in the water by this one beach. It was beautiful and so colorful! All the colors of the sails seemed so joyful against the backdrop of the blue ocean and sky.

 

Windsurfers | Land of Laurel

 

By the time we got into Santa Cruz it was already pretty late. We stopped first at Penny Ice Creamery for Bitter Carmel cones topped with toasted marshmallow fluff. If you haven’t tried this yet, do it! It’s the most amazing combination! The only Penny Ice Creamery to have this combo, seemingly, is the one on 41st Street, so be sure to plan accordingly! We walked with our cones down to Pleasure Point where we found a nice bench to finish devouring them. We spotted a pod of dolphins in the distance which made it even more lovely. We walked down East Cliff for a little while, watching the surfers and beach-goers.

 

Santa Cruz East Cliff | Land of Laurel

 

After our short walk, we headed to Pacific Ave for some window shopping before finishing the evening with dinner at I Love Sushi (we got four of the five Vegetarian Special Rolls and split them) and a bowl of soul at Verve Coffee. All too soon it was time to hit the road, but it had been a truly lovely birthday!

 

What do you like to do for your birthdays? Celebrate with a big party? A few friends? Just spend time with your family?

We Ate Our Way Through Portland – PART II

Post Saturday and Sunday we were full. Very satiated. Don’t worry, though. We kept eating. Monday morning in Portland. Day three of our trip. We we woke up early. REALLY early. We dropped Scott off at work at 6:40am. Then we went back to the house and saw Nikki off before hopping into Nikki’s car and heading to Pip’s Doughnuts. Why don’t more people talk about Pip’s Doughnuts?! This place is AMAZING! First of all, it’s on the cutest little street. NE Fremont Street looks like something straight out of the 1940’s. The buildings all told a story. We ended up wandering through the surrounding neighborhood as well, the houses were all adorable! They all looked different and were painted fun colors. The cottages and craftsman style homes all seemed so historical and stylish compared with California’s constant stream of ranch style homes painted beige or grey with black trim.

 

NE Fremont Street Potland | Land of Laurel

 

Let’s go inside Pip’s though and get to the good stuff. First of all, they had these cute cans filled with succulents. Too cute!

 

Succulent Cans | Land of Laurel

 

I’ve always wanted to do something like this! Just need cans that look old, but are still waterproof. Anyways, Nicole and I waited for a short bit, ordered our food, and quickly got a table. We split the Chai Latte Flight and eight doughnuts. We loved every flavor of doughnut we tried, my favorite was the Dirty Wu, but the Meyer Lemon Pear Butter was fresh and delicious, you can’t go wrong with Raw Honey and Sea Salt, or the Nutella and Sea Salt. Basically anything with sea salt is amazing. Nicole loved the Candied Bacon and Maple too. And oh my god. The chai flight. This was my personal heaven, y’all. Five kinds of chai lattes. Each tastier than the next. My favorite was a bit surprising. The Emmylou is non-caffeinated and made from an herbal tea with lavender, camomile, and chrysanthemum.  It taste like relaxation and yoga breaths, lazy Sundays and rainy days by the fire. Amazing. My next favorite was the King & I, which was more of a traditional chai. Nicole preferred Ginger Rodgers and Heart of Gold. The former was gingery and spicy, the latter had hints of coconut and turmeric.  Neither of us really liked the Smokey Robinson, which, as you may have guessed from the name, had a distinct smokey flavor. We finished the doughnuts as well as four of the chais and left half a cup of the Smokey Robinson behind.

 

Pip's Originial Doughnuts and Chai Flight | Land of Laurel

 

After Pip’s we headed to Alberta which quickly became our favorite little street in Portland. There were so many cute shops and we shopped till we dropped. I bought a cute dog collar at Healthy Pets Northwest for my parent’s pooch who recently outgrew her old one. We both bought tank dresses at Frock which was a cute store with happy colors and lots of cool clothing. We both adored Digs which had a cool mix of home items, gardening supplies, and some clothing. They had so many cool containers and tons of air plants. I fell in love with a Turkish towel bathrobe, but the price tag had me balking.

 

And, then it was time to eat again. Yup. We ate more. And more. And more. This time we stopped at Pine State Biscuits.

 

Pine State Biscuits | Land of Laurel

 

We nommed on The Regina and The Double Down. Lot’s of eggs. Lot’s of gravy. Plenty of deliciousness. Nicole and I were splitting almost every meal at this point. We just wanted to be able to try all the options. It was amazing. Here’s The Regina in all her glory. We gobbled down The Double Down before I could snap a picture.

 

Pine State Biscuits' The Regina | Land of Laurel

 

After gorging ourselves once again, we stumbled outside and discovered two awesome mural walls. One had a fantastic message, which I very much appreciated it.

 

Mural Wall | Land of Laurel

 

Of course, we had to take some pictures. We propped my phone up on a bush, then a random car (scaring the owner who was getting a haircut enough for him to send the stylist out to make sure we weren’t doing anything bad to it! Oops! Sorry!) and set the timer.

 

Mural Wall 1 | Land of LaurelMural Wall 2 | Land of LaurelMural Wall 3 | Land of LaurelMural Wall 4 | Land of LaurelMural Wall 5 | Land of Laurel

 

We had some fun with that. I love how the colors of the mural pop against our black and grey outfits. Sometimes taking a good picture is all about finding the right setting.

 

After wandering back down Alberta we hopped into the car with the plan to hit up Powell’s Books and the Pearl District before picking up Nikki at her office. Fail. We drove down Mississippi Street and quickly realized we needed to stop and venture into the shops on this cute street as well!

 

We headed into PDXchange, a fair trade and local store, where I bough a necklace made from a bullet in which a trellis pattern had been melted. Miraculously, at the end of the trip TSA did let me wear this through security!

 

Bullet Necklace | Land of Laurel

 

We stopped for coffee and tea at the Fresh Pot before continuing to pop into every shop along the street. Before long, it was time to pick up Nikki so we headed south towards her office. We actually arrived a bit early so we stopped in at the nearby Goodwill Superstore and ended up buying coordinating silver containers at $3 buck a pop. We plan on planting succulents in them. After we nabbed Nikki, we decided to stop in at Grand Marketplace to oooh and ahhh at all the antiques.

 

Grand Marketplace | Land of Laurel

 

There was lots of silver similar to what we’d just purchased at the Goodwill Superstore, but for 10 times the price, but many other things caught my eye. The displays were so artful and fun! You felt like you were in a bohemian apartment in the 1920’s. It was delightful to walk around the large shop.

 

Grand Marketplace Display | Land of Laurel

 

One day, I’m building myself a big kitchen island that looks like the above. So beautifully worn, so functional. We managed to convince Nikki to hit up the Motherland while we were some what near by. This is when I got really excited!

 

Powell's Books

 

No trip to Portland would be complete without a stop at Powell’s Books! I wish I could say I spent my time exploring the entire store, but in truth, I quickly  picked up a copy of Wildwood as a hostess gift for Nikki and then dove into the urban agriculture section immersing myself in books on backyard chickens and goats. For an hour. I could have stayed for ten hours in that section alone!

 

After Powell’s we picked up Scott from their house and headed to the Chapel Pub for dinner. We got a cozy little table right next to a small fireplace. I used my girl scout skills to take the fire from coals to brightly burning flames. I ordered a hot buttered rum for the first time. Literally the best drink I’ve ever tried. My new favorite. So good and creamy! Definitely searching out a local place to try that again.

 

Hot Buttered Rum | Land of Laurel

 

Then we ate. So. Much. Food. Greek tater tots and Cajun french fries? Yes please. Nikki and I both got veggie burgers. Then we split dessert. We ate and ate and ate. I couldn’t even look at food afterwards. That night we fell into bed, happy, full, and exhausted. Nicole was leaving the next day and we still had things to do!

 

Tuesday morning, Nicole woke up early and dropped Scott off at work. When she got back, I woke up, threw on clothes, and then we took Nikki to her office. We then had what we called “dirty breakfast” still half-asleep, partially in last nights clothes, unshowered. We planned to return to Nikki’s to clean up after our meal. We went to Zell’s which was close to Nikki’s office. We ordered Eggs Florentine and a German Pancake with Pear Butter and slices. Nicole and I both make these Germanic style pancakes (recipes courtesy of our Oma’s, mine German, hers Dutch), but this one was puffier than our own. It was fluffy and delicious. Yum. After breakfast (how could we ever eat again?!), we headed back to Nikki’s to clean up before driving over to the west side to visit Washington Park.

 

We drove through the beautiful park for a while, admiring the stunning forest before wandering out into the wealthy neighborhoods surrounding the park. We spent the next hour looking at houses in the hills before it was time to drive Nicole to the airport. I dropped her off with a hug and a see you at work soon! Then I hit the highway towards Multnomah Falls. Wow, it was a gorgeous drive and when I was arrived it was once again, like walking into a fairy tale. The little lodge looked like a tiny medieval inn, ready to bed down lonely travelers for the the night. The falls? Absolutely stunning.

 

Multnomah Falls | Land of Laurel

 

Everything was misty from the falls, a light dew descending on anything and everything within sight. The damp atmosphere gave plenty of moss the energy to grow, making everything gorgeously green. Moss covered stairs right out of my dreams.

 

Multnomah Falls 2 | Land of Laurel

 

Moss covered stone walls inspired me to pet them. Repeatedly. Seriously, Portland is so green! It’s the place that defines the word lush. Lush greenery abounds.

 

Multnomah Falls 3 | Land of Laurel

 

I climbed up to the bridge to take this shot of the water descending into the first pool. See how the mist is being throw off the falls? It was truly magical.

 

Multnomah Falls 4 | Land of Laurel

 

The water rushed by, roaring from the first fall into the pool, before falling once again, somehow even more violently into the second pool below.

 

Multnomah Falls 4 | Land of Laurel

 

After exploring my way up the path a bit, I turned around hopped back into Nikki’s little Honda Fit. I drove back into Portland, grabbed some delicious Palak Paneer Fries from a food truck, and wandered around the Pearl District for a while, venturing back into Powell’s Books, but still not able to leave the urban agriculture section!

 

Palak Paneer Fries | Land of Laurel

 

Then it was time to pick up Nikki from work again. We headed back out to her house where we met up with Scott and his friend Josh, then went out again to– you guessed it– eat! We went to Swift and Union. Everything was yummy. Nikki and I split the Tofu Sando and the Beet Veggie Burger with goat cheese. Blow your mind good. I was so full at this point, I was pretty sure I’d never need to eat again after I flew home from Portland. But don’t worry, that didn’t stop us. We hopped back into the car and drove out after dessert. We hit up Portland’s famous Voodoo Doughnuts. At 8:30pm the east side location had absolutely no line whatsoever. We went in and made our selections.

 

Voodoo Doughnuts | Land of Laurel

 

I got a chocolate doughnut with Coco Pebbles. Nikki got one with Oreos and peanut butter. Scott got a Butterfingers doughnut and a Scooby Doo dog one that donated to the local Humane Society. We ate most of them and saved the rest. We were all so so so full!

 

Voodoo Doughnuts Scooby Doo | Land of Laurel

 

We got home in full food coma mode and soon hit the hay. The next morning, we were off! After everyone was dropped off at work, I headed back to Washington Park, exploring the rose-less Rose Garden (too early in the year), the Holocaust memorial, and walking along some of the less muddy paths. The camilla bushes everywhere were blooming, sprinkling bright color splashes in the lush greenery.

 

Camillas in Bloom | Land of Laurel

 

All too soon, my trip was coming to a close. I filled up the car with gas, headed back to Nikki’s, grabbed my bags, and called my uber. Off to the airport I made it through security and on to my plane with thoughts of adorable and colorful craftsman style homes and a very full belly.

 

Have you ever been to Portland? What did you do? All I want now is to go back!

 

We Ate Our Way Through Portland – PART I

I skipped out of work last Friday grinning like a fool in excitement. On Saturday, I hopped on a plane to Portland, Oregon with my good friend Nicole! It was time for an adventure. And time to relax. But mostly? It was time to explore!

 

I was going to compile a big list of things we did in Portland, but then I realized, we mostly just ate. So instead of a big What We Did In Portland post, here’s a combo, What We Did Ate in Portland post. Because honestly, no one’s going to care what we did when you see pictures of what we ate!

 

We left Saturday morning very early. I set my alarm for 5:15am. I planned to call Nicole at 5:30am to make sure she was awake. The Girl-Who-Never-Sleeps deserves another 15 mins, I figured. But, before I could call, Nicole was texting me. Yay! Both awake. I grabbed some toast with jam, threw on some clothes and called an uber. We we’re going to meet at the 19th Street BART station, but I was feeling lazy and didn’t want to walk to BART. I arrived 20 minutes early instead. Oops! But, really, that’s not atypical for me when I travel. I love punctuality! Nicole arrived with 2 minutes to spare and we took the BART train to SFO and hopped on our flight. We were exactly on time (like Nicole likes it) and I didn’t break out in hives stressing about not being an hour early! So any day that doesn’t begin in hives is a good one. 🙂

 

At The Airport | Land of Laurel

 

When we arrived in Portland Nicole’s awesome, interior designer friend, Nikki, picked us up at the airport. I knew I liked Nikki within minutes because she introduced me to the term “Pet-ophile” when talking about how she and her boyfriend Scott like to stare at dogs at the park and daydream about having one of their own. Which is exactly how I feel about every dog/cat/chicken I’ve ever met. I could tell we were going to be on the same page. From now on I shall refer to myself as a “pet-ophile” whenever possible. Because it’s hilarious!

 

Nikki drove us back to her house where we were staying and I met her boyfriend Scott who quickly became the funniest person I have ever met. Every other sentence out of his mouth was a joke and I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much in my life! Nicole and I put on contacts and then we piled back into Nikki’s car (sans Scott) and headed to Hawthorne Street. We started out in a relaxed fashion, walking down Hawthorne and popping into any shop that caught our fancy like Lounge Lizard (oh my god, thrifting in Portland is so much better priced!), sipping at a mead tasting at Mead Market (oh, yes, now I’m daydreaming of beekeeping!), and wandering further. We considered stopping at Jam on Hawthorne for brunch, but a 45 minute wait had us walking further (though now I’m looking at their menu and my stomach is growling). I wanted to stop at some food trucks, but Nicole convinced me to venture further. We ended up at the perfect place! The Hazel Room was not only adorable, but so delicious! I found this picture just googling it, and now I’m wishing we’d been there in the snow. Look how adorable!

 

Winter-Hazel-Room
via

 

Nikki got the Vegetarian Bee Gees biscuit and gravy (I know, right, she’s also a vegetarian. Like she wasn’t already awesome!), and Nicole and I began the first of many shared meals, splitting the Rose Tea Crepes and Bubble & Squeak with a sunny side up egg.. We almost skipped the former, but we were so glad we didn’t as it was AMAZING. So good, you could really taste the rose-i-ness. Plus it was smothered in whipped cream and anything with whipped cream is my favorite. The Bubble & Squeak was maybe a bit healthier (okay, a lot healthier) with potatoes and veggies, but not nearly as exciting. Once we devoured our meal (literally took Nicole and I less than ten minutes to finish everything), we began meandering further down the street significantly more satisfied.

 

We stopped at nearly every shop, never buying a thing, but touching everything. It was fun to explore. Portland has some really cute vintage shops, thrift stores, and paper goods stores. We had a blast! We then ventured over to Division Street walking down 37th through a gorgeous residential neighborhood. There we stopped at Artifact which had lots of cool vintage clothes and furnishings. Nicole almost bought shoes. Since we were in the neighborhood, we couldn’t help but hit up the famous Salt & Straw. The Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons was flat out the best ice cream I’ve ever tried in my life you guys!

 

Sea Salt
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Then we walked back to Nikki’s car and drove along the Willamette River to the St. John’s Bridge. It was a gorgeous day, but at this point, clouds had started to roll in. We wandered through the shops in St. John’s (while I relived every St. John’s moment from my newest favorite kid’s book Wildwood), before walking out onto the bridge a bit. I snapped this pic of Nicole and Nikki and then we headed down to the park under the bridge.

 

St. John's Bridge | Land of Laurel

 

When we got to the park below, a wedding had just taken place! Naturally, I stalked the happy couple a bit.

 

Wedding Under the St. John's Bridge | Land of Laurel

 

But the gorgeous bridge took up plenty of my attention. The architecture was amazing. Modern gothic and bee-ay-yoo-tee-full!

 

Beneath St. John's Bridge | Land of Laurel

 

We decided to try and take a few pictures of the three of us while we were there so I propped my camera up on a wooden post and set the time. Fifteen pictures later we got one that was pretty cute.

 

St. John's Bridge Friends | Land of Laurel

 

…as well as some fairly amusing outtakes!

 

Laughing Under the St. John's Bridge | Land of Laurel

 

Posing Beneath the St. John's Bridge | Land of Laurel

 

Regardless, we had fun! And we were exhausted. We headed back to Nikki’s to relax after a long day. We stopped by Green Zebra Grocery for cheese, soup, and a baguette before crashing on Nikki’s couch and watching a dolphin documentary on Netflix, Dolphins: a Spy in the Pod. The documentary was hilarious and involved spy-creatures. Everything was “the first time this has ever been recorded” and we learned all about urogenital slits. Yup, you read that right. We headed to bed early.

 

We woke up the next morning, Sunday, and headed to Milk Glass Market for breakfast. There was a bit of a line, but as soon as we ordered a table opened up. Nicole and I got excited and over ordered: Fig & Anise Panini with goat cheese, Bread pudding with marscapone and jam, a snack hard boiled egg, and a Biscuit with tomato marmalade, and cheese. Scott got a cinnamon roll that he graciously shared. We basically rolled out of there! The decoration of the space was super cute! I wish I’d snapped more than a quick and dirty iPhone shot. Check out their website for awesome brunch space ideas. I just love those bread boards.

 

After breakfast we jumped into Nikki’s car and drove up to the Pittock Mansion. This was another Wildwood spot and I was excited. I love big houses and I cannot lie, (those other brothers can’t deny). We pulled up and parked. It was gorgeous! The weather was misty, but no rain yet. The views from the Mansion were incredible. You could see the entire city of Portland as well as the surrounding forests and hills.

 

View from Pittock Mansion 1 | Land of Laurel

 

I loved seeing the ship yards through the trees.

 

View from Pittock Mansion 2 | Land of Laurel

 

We tried to take a picture of ourselves in front of the view, but it started raining and the water droplets on my lens made Scott a little fuzzy. We managed to squeeze in a semi-normal shot.

 

At Pittock Mansion | Land of Laurel

 

The Mansion itself was beautiful too, but honestly, nothing man-made holds a candle to nature.

 

Pittock Mansion | Land of Laurel

 

Inside were gorgeous rooms and furniture. The museum collected furnishings to showcase different styles of the period rather than preserving a moment in time. My favorite room? The pantry!

 

Pittock Pantry | Land of Laurel

 

Outside again, Scott tried to scare us…

 

Scott Scary | Land of Laurel

 

…it did not succeed. Then Nikki hopped on his back and they raced Nicole up the hill towards a trail head.

 

Scott and Nikki | Land of Laurel

 

Surprisingly, Nicole lost.

 

The Race | Land of Laurel

 

The trail was ridiculously muddy, so we didn’t hike it, but Scott ran down the trail a little ways. Hi, tiny Scott!

 

Tiny Scott | Land of Laurel

 

The forest was lush, green, and gorgeous here. It looked like a fairy tale forest. I kept expecting Hansel & Gretel or Snow White to show up! As long as we avoided the Big Bad Wolf, I was happy.

 

Lush Forest | Land of Laurel

 

After a bit, we once again climbed into Nikki’s little Honda Fit and drove down the hill. We parked on NW 23rd Street and shopped a bit. We only popped into a few stores, compared with the previous day’s visit-all-the-stores! attitude, this was more chill. Which I’m sure Scott appreciated. We soon got hungry, jumped back into the car and headed to Dove Vivi. We got there right when it opened at 4pm. Actually, we arrived at 3:50pm and took pictures of the building across the street to kill time, before heading in. Look how colorful the building was though! I loved that Portland was full of treasures like this.

 

Dove Vivi Neighbor | Land of Laurel

 

At the restaurant, we ordered halfs of the daily special Mushroom pizza, the Corn pizza, and the Blue Thyme pizzas.Yum. These had cornmeal crusts, which I don’t recall ever eating before, they were crunchy and mouthwateringly good. We chatted up the waitress, enjoyed our meal, and laughed like banshees at everything. Even when Scott paused in cracking jokes, we found something to giggle over. Like the fact that Dove Vivi classified all their beverages and threw in this at the end:

 

Also Milk | Land of Laurel

 

“Also… Milk” became a bit of an inside joke for the rest of the trip. We would say it randomly, frequently. We did a bit of research following this and discovered that Milk is the Oregon State Beverage. If you think that’s weird, you’re correct, but, as it turns out, more than ten states have milk as their state beverage! So strange!

 

We ended the night with fruity drinks at The Alibi  a tiki bar. A delicious way to finish off a busy weekend! Nikki and Scott had work the next day. Nicole and I were on our own! Time for adventures! I’ll talk more about what we did ate in my next post.

 

How was your weekend? Take any trips? Have  you been to Portland before? Did you eat everything?? I’m still so full you guys…

Perfect Pumpkin Pie

Yesterday, I shared my recipe for perfect pie crust, here is how I make my perfect pumpkin pie. Are you ready for amazing? Get pumped! I love pumpkin pie. It is the perfect fall dessert. Personally, I stock up on the good organic canned pumpkin during the fall and make pumpkin pie year round, whenever I feel like it. What can I say, I’m a rebel! I made the pie below a few years ago when I was getting excited about my crust and had yet to learn about the not so great affects of food dyes…

 

Pie with Leaves | Land of Laurel

 

So you’ve made your pie crust, you’ve rolled it out, you’re ready to go. You’re just missing the most important part. The filling! Mmm mmm mmmm mmm good! The yummy part. The creamy part. The spicy part. The #getinmybelly part. Nom nom nom.

 

Pie with Braided Crust | Land of Laurel

 

If you’re making pie from scratch for the first time, pumpkin is a good choice. It’s almost impossible to mess up. It’s easy to make with minimal clean up. And it’s absolutely, knock your socks off delicious! Time to start baking!

Here it is!

 

Perfect Pumpkin Pie | Land of Laurel

 

The Perfect Pumpkin Pie.

 

Ingredients:

1 pint organic whipping cream

1 can pure organic pumpkin puree

1 tsp salt

2 tsp organic cinnamon

2 tsp freshly grated organic ginger

1 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp Nutmeg

eggs

2 tsp organic pure vanilla extract

2/3 cup organic brown sugar

 

This is pretty much the easiest recipe. Pre-heat oven to 375. Combine all ingredients, in any order, in a medium sized bowl. Whisk until smooth. Pour into egg-glazed pie shell very carefully. Place pie in oven for approximately 45 minutes. Check it frequently by giving the pan a gentle shove. When the top is set and doesn’t jiggle like a liquid would, the pie is done! Remove immediately and leave on counter. Serve after allowing it to sit for at least 20 minutes. It’s hard to wait, especially since you know this pie isn’t going to last long!

 

Pumpkin Pie Mostly Gone | Land of Laurel

 

I like to top mine off with a little whipped cream to which I add a teaspoon of cinnamon, a teaspoon of vanilla, and a tablespoon of brown sugar. It’s even more delicious!

Perfect Pumpkin Pie | Land of Laurel

 

Mmm… so dang good! Now if I only had more room on my plate…

 

Full Pie Plate | Land of Laurel

 

Because in my family, Thanksgiving totally allows for multiple dessert plates.

 

Hanna's Dessert Plates

 

What about you? Do you adore pie in all its delicious forms? Did you try my Perfect Pumpkin Pie recipe? How did it turn out?