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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The Meaning of Heartache and Moving Forward

The Meaning of Heartache and Moving Forward

*Taking a break from my usual content to write about what I am feeling.*

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I am very lucky to only have experienced true, physical heartache a few times in my life. I remember the shock of it the first time, when a wonderful, bright, young friend of mine was killed in a car accident. You read the words heartache and think of it only as an expression, but the words do not stem from nothing. It’s entirely possible to feel this ache in your heart, a heaviness in your chest. I’d read the word heartache hundreds of times and it took a truly horrifying and shocking event to make me truly understand it. Heartache is a physical manifestation of misery and helplessness. I feel it now, because yesterday a fascist, sexist, racist man was inaugurated into the highest office in the country I was born and raised in, in this nation I believed in. It has profoundly affected me and my heart aches for this nation. I am solemn and depressed. On November 8, 2016 my worldview was shattered; everything I thought I knew about the people in my country, the truths of human spirit I held so dear, a core belief in progress and humanity, everything was tossed into the air and I watched as it felt to the ground, cracked, and splattered.

I didn’t realize how much this election meant to me until election night, possibly because I simply never considered the eventual outcome to be conceivable. I woke up on November 8th surprisingly elated, but with a strange knot in my stomach. I was incredibly exhilarated about the idea of finally welcoming a female president into the White House, yet a lurking fear of the other possibility haunted me. My entire life I have been told that women are powerful creatures, equal to men, and fiercely capable. A woman in the Oval Office would epitomize that belief. I have been taught – like most of America’s students – about the feminist movement of the 1970’s. The manner in which I was taught about this movement, stressed the success of feminism, the accomplishments of the generations before me, and the true equality of men and women. As I’ve grown from child into adult, these lessons I was taught, these core beliefs I was raised with, have slowly begun to break down. We need to rethink the way we raise our children, to retool the education we give them, because if there is one thing this election drilled into me, it’s that all this talk of equality is a fucking lie.

Women and men are not equal. Women and men are not raised in the same fashion. Women and men will absolutely not have the same opportunities. I’ve learned this time and time again, yet it wasn’t until this election that I finally unwound the last layer of cloth covering my eyes. Sexism is rampant in our society. This election proved that in so many ways. Today’s inauguration cements it in our future. Personally, I don’t think my own self-worth has ever been so decimated.

On the evening of November 8th I was solidly in denial. The numbers were coming in and I simply could not comprehend the idea of anyone but Hilary winning that night. I excitedly told my cousin’s eight year old daughter about how monumental this night was, how thrilled I was to celebrate the election of the first female president on the heels of the first African-American president. I went to a friend’s house as the final numbers came in and watched as the women around me wiped tears from their cheeks. I went home when things were more or less settled, still in denial, still believing in my heart of hearts that something major would come about to change the preliminary outcome. That night I took a shower, listening to live updates from CNN on my phone. When I changed into my pajamas, Trump was giving his victory speech. I watched, terrified and alone, making it only through the first few minutes before bursting into panicked sobbing.

I’ve survived these last months in a daze, addicted to the News app on my phone, reading articles with a sadistic fascination in the pain it caused me. This world we entered today is one so repugnant to me. I feel betrayed, I feel scared, but most of all I feel a deep hurt and disappointment. I knew sexism existed. I knew I’d run into it over and over in my short lifetime, in my career, with my family, with my friends. Yet, watching this under-qualified man whose main rhetoric towards women is disparaging and abusive ascend into America’s highest office made me realize how little these issues mattered to the people of this nation. That is what hurts me at the deepest level, the honest realization that the society I trusted in does not care about women. This overwhelming feeling of loss of power and worth washed over women across this country and it disturbs to me.

I grew up surrounded by powerful, independent, and delightfully inspiring women. Both sides of my family are heavily female dominated and I never doubted a woman could be anything she wanted. I knew so many women who succeeded in so many ways and as a child it never occurred to me how much sacrifice and fight when into these accomplishments. I know so many single mothers who never cease to amaze me. I know women who own large companies and command not only the respect of their employees, but truly, their admiration. I find all these women in my life so inspiring; I feel lucky to know them all and have them in my life. I just wish there was one thing all these women would tell me: how much harder they fought for their accomplishments, because of their gender, because equality is a lie.

Say what you want about the Millennial generation, but we are the way we are, because of the people who raised us. In some ways this gives me hope – vastly more millennials voted for Hillary over her opponents. In other ways I must acknowledge our shortcomings. The millennial generation has been told ad nauseam that they are special, that they can do and be anything they want, and that they are equal because generations before have fought the battles over civil rights. We need to abruptly transform this ideology and begin a new conversation, because none of these things are true. You and I – and everyone else  -out there are not special. There are millions just like us. You cannot do or be anything you want. You may strive for something, but many circumstances come into play that are entirely out of your control. Equality is the biggest myth of all. Battles have been fought, but these wars are not easily won. Ask any woman about times she’s faced inequality and she may be too afraid to even give you an answer.

We live in a world where sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape are present constantly. In this world, boasting of these horrific actions may be considered harmless “locker room” talk. That must change. We live in a world where women are valued on their looks and girls are taught that being pretty and silent is preferable to being intelligent and confident. That must change. We live in a world where a man may stand ominously and uncomfortably closely behind a woman while she speaks. This clumsily obvious attempt at physical domination is so common in interactions between men and women, it does not even faze her and no one asks him to step back. That must change. We live in a world where a woman’s integral right to control her own body is dismissed by those who claim her life is not as valuable. That must change. We live in a world where women are taught to fear and distrust each other as they are all in cruel competition. That must change. We live in a world where so many can overlook the disgusting truths of one man, only to believe in the vicious lies told about a woman. That must change. We live in a world where women must work harder, better, and longer than a man in the same position in order to receive less recognition and compensation. That must change. We live in a world where all 45 of the Presidents of the United States of America have been men. That must change.

To enact any change, one must first acknowledge the problem and openly discuss it. So here I am, writing about this in the hope that we can all admit this situation exists and we must do something to combat it. I know now and can say with confidence, there is a huge fight ahead. I must throw myself into that fight and give it everything I can, but I also need to appreciate the great difficulty of this battle and sacrifice it requires. With this recognition, I can admit that I will only survive with the support and encouragement of others. As a woman, there a circumstances that exist that may directly prevent me from reaching my goals, but that doesn’t mean I will not strive for them. That’s why today you will find me at the Women’s March here in Portland, OR. I will be out there standing up for what I believe is right and I will be out there loudly shouting that we have farther yet to come. There will be progress yet to make even long after we welcome the first female into the Presidency of the United States of America. I believe in this and I can only hope it will happen in my lifetime. I have not given up, I will never give up.

 

Colorful Spring Crostini

You remember my birthday party spread? Delicious spring ingredients and lots of finger foods!

 

Party Food | Land of Laurel

 

I am mildly obsessed with crostini. You’ve seen my fall fave, Pomegranate, Butternut Squash Crostini, and I’m here today to share some delightful spring combinations! This isn’t an exact recipe, but rather a guideline on a great, easy, and colorful way to make a huge variety of crostini.

 

Colorful Spring Crostini | Land of Laurel

 

For my party, I started with a few basic crostini ingredients: baguettes and spreads. I knew I was going have quite a few people over, so I thinly sliced two baguettes and toasted the little pieces in the oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 5-7 minutes. I wanted them to be golden, but not browned at all and just perfectly crunchy. While they were toasting, I made my spreads. Since I was doing many different flavor variations on the toppings, my spreads were basic. I used about 12 ounces of ricotta per baguette, mixing it with a bit of cream so it would spread more smoothly. I then took half of the ricotta-cream mixture and microplaned in the rind of one lemon as well as the juice. You could easily add some chopped fresh herbs at this stage too. After that it was all the toppings! The night before I’d roasted my veggies for about 10-15 minutes with a little salt, pepper, and olive oil, leaving the vegetable-y taste: cherry tomatoes, thin slivers of zucchini and carrot, red bell pepper. I whipped up a little caramelized onion: letting it sizzle gently on the stove for just under and hour before adding a bit of water and some balsamic vinegar. I also boiled some asparagus for about 5 minutes until it was just cooked, but still had a bit of a crunch. Other toppings I used included toasted almond slivers, walnuts, and pinenuts, avocado, and cucumber. After that, it was just a little more flavor with herbs: fresh mint, basil, and dill thinly sliced and sprinkled on top. On some crostini I gently drizzled a little honey to bring out a bit of sweet flavor.

 

Crostini Close-Up | Land of Laurel

 

Simple right? And oh so delicious. It was a lot of toppings, but the prep was simple and I did most of the cooking the night before. The day of, I took all the veggies out of the refrigerator and brought them to room temperature before putting all the crostini together. It was quick and painless and abso-freaking-lutely gorgeous!

 

Colorful Crostini | Land of Laurel

 

Here are some of my favorite flavor combinations:

 

Lemon-Ricotta Spread, Asparagus, Toasted Almonds, Dill

Ricotta Spread, Basil, Honey

Lemon-Ricotta Spread, Avocado, Dill

Ricotta Spread, Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Basil

Ricotta Spread, Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Roasted Bell Pepper

Lemon-Ricotta Spread, Roasted Carrot, Mint

Ricotta Spread, Caramelized Onion, Toasted Almonds

Ricotta Spread, Walnuts, Honey

Lemon-Ricotta Spread, Roasted Zucchini, Basil, Toasted Almonds,

Lemon-Ricotta Spread, Roasted Zucchini, Roasted Carrot, Dill,

Lemon-Ricotta Spread, Caramelized Onion, Walnuts

Lemon-Ricotta Spread, Pear, Almond, Basil

Lemon-Ricotta Spread, Pear, Walnut, Honey

Lemon-Ricotta Spread, Basil, Pine Nuts

Lemon-Ricotta Spread, Pine Nuts, Roasted Zucchini, Dill

 

The best part is an hour and a half of prep with just a little bit of a whole lot of ingredients gets you a wonderful plethora of creative and colorful crostini! At my party I was able to prep some other dishes that involved more knowledge of the recipe, while putting three great helpers on crostini duty. I gave them my list of suggestions, but they enjoyed coming up with their own creative combinations, leading to a delightful, varying snack.

 

What’s your favorite party food? Do you like to prep a bunch of food before hand or cook everything the day of?

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?

Handkerchief Art

After my grandmother passed away in 2014, I was handed down many things. Plants, a wooden stool, suitcases, a sheepskin rug. I love having these little bits and pieces of her scattered around my home, reminding me of her on a daily basis. A few things are still finding their places in my home. Recently, two more found their new purpose!

 

Among my Oma’s things were many handkerchiefs. Back in the days before waste was normal and tossing 150 pieces of paper in the landfill every time you had a cold became completely acceptable, everyone used handkerchiefs! Now among the everyday handkerchiefs my Oma had several decorative handkerchiefs that were probably never used. Two were rather fun and festive and lucky for me, those are the two that I was given!

 

I bought some square, white IKEA picture frames and popped the handkerchiefs behind the glass. One of them was actually a little small, so I ended up taping it to a piece of white paper first. Here they are in all their glory!

 

Vintage Handkerchief Art | Land of Laurel

 

I decided to hang both of them in my bedroom on the wall parallel to the length of my bed. They both have blue, white, and red hues in their imagery so it ties in with my bedding fairly well.

 

The handkerchief on the right is pretty great; it’s all about travel! I could totally see something like this in a nursery, but since that’s like ten plus years out, let’s not even go there. For now, we’ll call it “fun” and not “child-like,” mmkay? It’s Bon Voyage theme always makes me smile. My Oma loved to travel. She visited so many places in this world, something I’ve always loved to do as well.

 

Bon Voyage Handkerchief Art | Land of Laurel

 

Shall we get a little bit closer? Yes, that is my reflection in the glass of the picture frame. Realizing now, that although the images from the airlines are multi-directional, I’ve hung this handkerchief upside-down if you take a closer look at that plane. Whatever. Let’s call it charming and pretend it’s emulating that scene from Flight,  which is my favorite movie to watch before traveling anywhere. The little Bon Voyage marches around all four sides of the handkerchief, but I framed it to just show the one so the sizing would be more similar to that of the other handkerchief (which was significantly smaller).

 

Vintage Handkerchief Art | Land of Laurel

 

The other handkerchief is equally, if not more, representative of my Oma. It’s Struwwelpeter! Every German’s favorite stories from her childhood. The book is a collection of cautionary tales for children written in 1845 about the importance of cutting your hair & nails, not playing with matches, not sucking your thumb, etc. In basically every single story the child is either killed or mutilated after not listening to his or her parents. They’re fabulous! I mean, I probably wouldn’t read them to a child, like they were originally intended, but you know, next time you need scary stories to read around a camp fire, this is perfect! You can find the illustrated German version here for an idea of the tales. Or see Dwight Schrute from The Office reference it here as well as the English translation. I love these stories! I know it’s crazy and they’re violent and awful, but I find them some what hilarious and oh so mid-1800s German!

 

Struwwelpeter Handkerchief Art | Land of Laurel

 

My favorite story, about Harriet who was told not to play with matches, is — unfortunately– not depicted. Regardless, I the handkerchief reminds me of my childhood afternoons reading with my grandmother. Here’s a closer look at the handkerchief.

 

Struwwelpeter | Land of Laurel

 

Now, before I go on, I must note that I do not condone or promote anything from these collection of tales. They were written over 150 years ago. They are violent and occasionally racist. They should not be taken at face value, but rather studied and viewed as stories and imagery of historical interest only. I have a Bachelor’s in German Studies from Tufts University and my studies into German culture lead to my fascination with these tales, as well as my personal family history. They are in no way politically correct.

 

The two handkerchiefs remind me of my ancestry and my Oma. I love the idea of framing fabric, especially as both handkerchiefs were creased from laying folded in a drawer for years and years. I could have ironed them out, but some how, I felt they added to the story of these handkerchiefs. So up they went in my bedroom. Memories on the wall, reminding me of my past, present, and future.

 

Vintage Handkerchief Art | Land of Laurel

 

Have you ever framed a piece of fabric that reminds you of someone? I thought these were just too beautiful to leave in a drawer!

 

 

 

 

 

Silver Succulents

I mentioned here that while Nicole and I visited in Portland, Oregon we stopped in at the Goodwill Superstore on the Southeast side. Wowza! If you live in Portland, go there! It was amazing! Huge! There were rows and rows of clothes and entire section devoted to books. Books organized by genre! I’ve never been to a thrift store with a) so many books or b) books this well organized! Only United Airlines strict carry-on baggage allowances kept me from buying a large stack. That and the fact that I recently spent $40 on used books (that’s like 30+ books!) at the Blackoak Books moving sale in Berkeley. Hello my name is Laurel and I am a book-aholic.

 

This Goodwill Superstore had an entire aisle full of sterling silver, priced extremely low. This is where Nicole and I got truly excited. I had the idea of buying one of the smaller silver pieces and filling it with succulents. Because how adorable would that be? The answer is extremely adorable! We both decided to get small, packable, objects. Nicole ended up with a creamer and I found this fantastic sugar bowl which was missing it’s top. Perfect, since I needed it to be topless for the succulents anyways. We were ready for our friendship succulent planters now.

 

Goodwill Sugar Bowl | Land of Laurel

 

At home, I unpacked my sugar bowl. It was still adorable. Yay! This was such a great way to upcycle something sad and unwanted into something cute and happy. Here it is next to Fred for comparison sake. The little sugar bowl is  about 5 inches wide from tip of handle to tip of handle and only about 3 inches high.

 

Fred and the Silver Sugar Bowl

 

I didn’t want to go out and buy succulents, because, why spend the dough when I can get them for free? Plus I need teensy tiny succulents. What did I do? I raided the driveway, which is lined with three varieties of succulents. I sliced off a few of the smallest off shoots from each variety and was ready to go!

 

I quickly popped a few small pieces of gravel into the bottom of the sugar bowl, added some potting soil, and gently stuck in the succulents. The sterling silver sugar bowl ended up being everything I imagined!

 

Sterling Silver Sugar Bowl Succulent Planter | Land of Laurel

 

Not only was it super cute, but it was somehow playful and sophisticated. It makes makes me want to sip a hot cup of tea and speak in a British accent. Or should I say, “Ahhcksent?” Yes, maybe the latter is best.

 

I thought about polishing the sterling silver, but ended up deciding against it. Partially, because I am truly lazy, partially because I don’t have any silver polish lying around, but mostly because I love the patina it already has. The tarnishing is kind of beautiful and I love it, just the way it is.

 

As for the little mini-succulents– they were a perfect fit! I tried to find sprouts that varied both in height and size so there would be some movement. It worked out pretty dang well! My favorite variety are the little guys at the top that are tinged with purple at the tips. Anyone know what they’re called? I have planted several of them (there is even one in Fred). I’m a bit worried that they’ll grow crazy tall (like the one in Fred did), but until it happens, I’m not going to stress about it! I’m not sure why they grow so tall inside (maybe lack of sun?!), outside they get much larger and wider rather than growing straight up all skinny. I ended up bending the one in Fred underneath one of the leaves of the aloe vera, because it got so tall it started falling over. Crazytown!

 

Sterling Silver Sugar Bowl Mini-Succulent Planter | Land of Laurel

 

Overall, I’m pretty psyched about this guy. My only issue is that now I want like fifteen more! I initially thought they’d look awesome on the window ledge above my bed. Then I tried to stick this little guy up there and realized that the window ledge in that room is shallower than elsewhere in the house. The little legs on the sugar bowl basically make it instantly attempt to catapult off the ledge. Don’t worry, I drop things so frequently that I am now fantastic at catching them. Some of the time. The sugar bowl is safe! RIP glass mason jar completely full of apple cider (I missed the fridge shelf yesterday afternoon…).

 

But clearly, I need to hit up Goodwill a few more times and pick up a few more sterling silver pieces to use as succulent planters. I can see them scattered everywhere in a house, sitting on top of stacks of books. Very English countryside. Very me. Especially the part about the books. Have you read Living History by Hilary Clinton? I read it several months ago and ironically what struck me the most about the book was a few simple paragraphs describing the interiors of Jackie Kennedy Onassis’ home. Filled with books! You got it people, if Jackie O did it, then it is beautiful, timeless, and oh so classic. Or at least that’s what I plan on telling anyone who asks if I need as many books as I own. Because, yes, yes I do. They make me happy.

 

Anyways, my new little sugar bowl is too cute and I am excited to make a whole bunch more! They would make fantastic little gifts, don’t you think? Party favors, wedding favors, birthday gifts, I can think of so much more!

 

Sterling Silver Sugar Bowl Succulent Planter | Land of Laurel

 

 

I’ve decided to stick this little guy on my nightstand for now. We’ll see if that’s enough light to keep him happy. Hopefully so, because who doesn’t want to wake up next to something that dang cute?!

 

Have you ever upcycled something into a planter? Have any advice on raising succulents? Know what varieties of succulent I’ve found from my driveway?

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
via

 

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…