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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Drought Tips: Easy Ways to Save Water

Happy Earth Day! How are you celebrating? A walk? A hike? Instagraming your favorite sunset picture? I wish I could get out there and go for a hike. But, alas, I am sick! I caught an annoying cold this weekend which has me locked inside with lots of tea and tissues. I wanted to do something to commemorate today though. So in celebration of Earth Day, I thought I’d share some of my favorite nature pictures and some some basic water saving tips and tricks!

 

Saving Water | Land of Laurel

 

 

  1. Turn off the water when you brush your teeth. So simple right? You don’t need the water running, you’re not using it. I know some people may be thinking, “Well, duh.” But, you’d be surprised! Many people just leave the water running, a habit that can easily be broken.
  2. Use a tub, or plug the drain, when washing dishes. One of my roommates turns on the water when he starts doing dishes and leaves it on until every pot and pan is washed and all the dishes are put into the dishwasher. It drives me crazy! A typical kitchen faucet is regulated to use no more than 2.5 gallons of water per minute of use and most average between 1.5 gpm and 2 gpm. That seems like not that much, but when you multiply it by 20 minutes of dish doing that adds up to 30-40 gallons of water! Try filling a bin with warm soapy water for washing and then rinsing in another bin of hot water. At the very least, turn off the faucet between dishes.
  3. Put the dishwasher to work! Dishwashers use significantly less water and energy than handwashing! So put down the scrub brush and fill up the dishwasher. That said, fill your dishwasher efficiently! Stack plates, bowls, and cups as the manufacturer intended so you can fit the maximum number of dishes. Avoid running the machine until it’s truly full. Using up precious dishwasher space with bulky pots and pans reverses the water and energy savings though, so go ahead and hand wash those.
  4. Get a shower bucket. We use plenty of water in washing. I am totally guilty of taking longer showers. But I stick a large bucket in the shower before I turn the water on and let it fill up while the water gets hot. I use grey-water safe products in the shower, so I keep the bucket in the shower while I wash. Then, I have a bucket of water to use in the garden or for my (many!) house plants. Guilt-free water for California summer plantings? Count me in!
  5. Thinking about getting a new hot water heater? Avoid Tankless options! Tankless water heaters, touted as great energy savers, end up causing huge overuse of water. My parents installed one at their home about four years ago and were shocked at how much more water they ended up using. Let’s face the truth, in today’s world, there is an expectation that you’ll turn on your tap and get hot water. With a tankless option, not only will you wait for the water to turn hot, but you’ll get frustrated by the amount of time it takes. Tankless hot water heaters do save energy, but unless you have a tiny one at each water source in your home, you’ll end up running that tap for 5 minutes straight until the water gets hot enough for you to wash your face. Instead, go for an energy efficient option with a tank and save the water.

 

 

And now, on a different note, here are some of my favorite pictures of Mother Earth:

 

This guy I took just last month in Oregon at Multnomah Falls. The lush greenery– everything covered in moss and ferns– mesmerized me. It was so gorgeous.

Multnomah Falls | Land of Laurel

 

This magical view is from the top of Thunder Mountain near Kirkwood, CA.  It’s a destination of many a hike taken from Two Sentinels, the camp I volunteer with each year. The white of the granite is such a contrast from the evergreen trees and blue mountain lake.

View From the Sentinels | Land of Laurel

 

This I took during an evening bike ride during my trip to Istanbul, Turkey. Some friends an I took the ferry to the Prince Islands for an afternoon. Everything on the islands was beautiful, nature unmarred (for the most part) by humans.

Istanbul Sunset | Land of Laurel

 

Finally, this image is from Majorca, Spain. I spent 4 or so days there in the Spring of 2012. The water and the rocky island captivated me. The water was so blue in some areas. I loved that the greenery clung to every last bit of rock possible before the cliffs plunged into the sea.

DSCN4932

 

How do you conserve water? Do you have any tips and tricks? Are you out there celebrating Earth Day? Enjoy it!

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…