Portland

portland-3
portland-2
portland-5
portland-4

The middle of my vacation was spent in Portland, OR. It’s a short drive from Tacoma (though there was an insane amount of traffic that stretched the drive considerably). Initially I wasn’t loving Portland. The downtown was extremely crowded, dirty and smelled unpleasant. We walked past many banks, chain stores, and shoddy restaurants and felt more and more disheartened the longer we were there. After checking in to our Air BnB, my friend and I decided to turn to Yelp and Facebook for recommendations. I am so glad we did because the trip immediately turned around. We spent the rest of the weekend sifting through cool local shops, eating incredible food (check back tomorrow), mocking the museum (that gets its own post too), and totally loving Portland. I am already plotting my next trip now that I know where to stay, what to eat, and how to shop in Portland.

Advertisements

What I ate on my PNW vacation… (Part 1; Tacoma)

Last week I spent time in Seattle, Tacoma, and Portland. I feel like most people probably spend their vacations sleeping in late, bar-hopping, and hooking up with some strange. When I’m on vacation, I spend my time plotting out my next meal, poking around local shops, and reading in parks (or coffee shops depending on the weather). I like to go to bed early and get out the door first thing to soak up the day. When I was traveling, I ate out a lot. I’m a litttttle cash poor now but it was 10000% worth it. Here’s what I ate in Tacoma and how I felt about it (Stay tuned for the Seattle and Portland posts)

tacoma-eats
(not pictured – hilltop kitchen)

The Red Hot

I had the Hosmer Hound Dog (bacon, peanut butter, and hot dog) and tasted my friend’s Heidelberg (apple cider kraut, german beef and potato sausage, locally made relish, and spicy mustard) and was loving every bite. This was the first meal of the trip and might just be one of my favorites overall.

Ice Cream Social

I liked this but didn’t love it. Ice Cream Social has a great logo, a sweet but sparsely decorated space, and the usual flavors you’d expect from an ice cream shop with a few rotating flavors. I had cookies and cream in a cone and I feel like one visit to this restaurant was probably enough. The ice cream lacked in flavor and the cone was a little bland as well.

The Metronome

Coffeeeeee. This is a great spot to sit and crank out some work. I had an iced vanilla latte and spent a few hours working on Hoot & Holler business. The latte was fine but the real draw was the great space they have and a quiet and focused ambiance.

Stink

I popped in here for lunch and was absolutely blown away by the sandwich I chose to eat. Appropriately named “the stinker”, this gem was made with peanut butter, blackberry preserves, bacon, and blue cheese on a multi-grain bread. It sounds odd but was out-of-this-world delicious and the lavender dry soda I had with it was the icing on the cake!

Art House Cafe

I wanted to love this restaurant. The menu looks amazing and the location is next to Stadium High School which is gorgeous, but the overall experience here fell flat. I ordered the Eggs Benedict and was served a plate of eggs that were overdone, burnt potatoes, and a hollandaise that never quite emulsified. The accompanying service was spotty and slow. I will say that when we drew our servers attention to the disappointing meal she was extremely apologetic and ended up comping most of the meal. I hope they were just having an off morning because it seems like they had all the makings for success!

Indochine

I love thai foooooood. LOVE IT. I LOVE IT SO MUCH. We split the pot stickers and an order of pad thai and I was not let down. It’s an excellent little spot with large plates, a great view, and quick, attentive service. I’d absolutely go back!

Hilltop Kitchen

Yum. I’d call this the best meal of the trip and I didn’t even order food for myself. We stopped in here for a drink and ordered the duck tacos and I cannot stop thinking about them. Perfectly cooked duck served with gooseberries and a fig jam. The drinks were out of this world and I would probably live there if I called Tacoma my home.

Pho King

I was craving pho in a really ugly way the first half of this trip so I snagged some pho and ate it in the park one night. It was pretty standard as far as pho goes but if you’re in the mood it’ll hit the spot for ya. The real highlight of this experience was eating it in the park.

Tacoma

 

tacoma-1

tacoma-floral-7

tacoma-3

tacoma-2

I’m kicking off two weeks of vacation-centric posts right now. Last week I spent 8 days in the Pacific Northwest traveling through Tacoma, Seattle, and Portland. It was so refreshing to unplug from real life and take a few days off of work to eat some seriously great food, read a book, watch oodles of Netflix, and enjoy the amazing weather. I stayed with one of my oldest friends at her sweet studio in Tacoma so that’s where I’ll kick off my narrative. Tacoma is a city with a smalltown feel. The streets are full of great restaurants, mom-and-pop shops, and some really beautiful buildings. I could easily see myself living there someday. The fresh flowers were incredible!!! Check back tomorrow for the guide to Tacoma food!!

Flagstaff + I Hate Camping

flagstaff-frisbee

When I drove away from my apartment on Saturday morning, my plan was to lay my back row of car seats flat, crack the windows, and curl up with the two pillows and two blankets I brought with me when I went to sleep that night. I had struck out in my attempts at finding a bed or couch to borrow for the evening and because I own no camping equipment I had resigned myself to the back of my car. It could be worse, right?

Let me start at the beginning of the story. This weekend I took a relatively spontaneous trip to Flagstaff. A past coworker of mine got hitched and scheduled the services of my fledgling floral empire (Hoot & Holler) for her big day. I drove up, flowers in tow, and in 2 1/2 short hours I encountered a 50 degree drop in temperature. Arizona is a strange state because a quick drive can take you from the desert to the mountains or a lake and you can experience all sorts of temperature changes along the way. I had a lovely evening and was thrilled to see my floral designs walk down the aisle (generally I am not a guest of the weddings I do work for). I totally lost it during the ceremony and then enjoyed the rest of my evening laughing with friends, dancing to stay warm, wearing a really cool jacket, and eating many, many taquitos!

At the end of the evening, two amazing friends offered me a bed to sleep in (huge upgrade from my previous plan), and although the “cabin” had no heat or electricity, it felt like a mansion. As I laid in bed feeling queasy from too much tequila, I felt like the evening was one of those moments that is pivotal in your life. I felt so incredibly blessed to be in a position to spontaneously leave for a night, to drink too much clear liquor, to hug the incredible people in my life, to watch my passion in action, and to curl up on a really hard mattress with the sound of a campfire singalong and laughter outside my front door. Here’s to many more nights spent living my bliss.

Big Bear Lake

big-bear-lake-2

To celebrate America I slipped away from Phoenix with friends and family to the cooler weather in Big Bear Lake, California.  We’re in the part of the summer where I’ve had quite enough of the 110+ temperatures and we still have a solid two to three months before we get a break from the heat.  I’m officially taking any opportunity to get out of town so I can breathe again.

big-bear-lake-4

We piled into a couple of cars, turned up some great road trip music, and my little brother sped and wove in and out of traffic all the way to California.  We arrived to a huge rainstorm in the early afternoon, picked up groceries for the weekend, and I cooked a big dinner for our group (with some help from my best friend and her awesome husband).  For our 4th, we hiked up the trail just out of our rented condo’s front door and enjoyed a gorgeous display of fireworks.  After the show, we all piled in to the hot tub IN OUR CONDO and had some good beer and good conversation.  All in all, I’d say it was a wildly successful 4th of July.

big-bear-lake-3
Big-Bear-lake-1

The rest of the weekend was spent lounging by the lake and getting insanely sun burnt, flipping through some magazines that I only seem to take the time to read while I’m on vacation, making s’mores over the gas stove in the condo, and laughing way too much.  It was such a restorative weekend and the perfect reprieve from the heat.