Happy Hanukkah!

Happy Hanukkah

What a wonderful way to start Hanukkah! We had dinner with my parents and grandmother last night, lighting Hanukkah candles at their house before coming back to our house and lighting our Hanukkiahs. Especially in the dark of winter, it’s nice to have a holiday, even a minor holiday, dedicated to bringing warmth and light into our lives! Happy Hanukkah and Happy Holidays!

Life has been a crazy crazy place!

Without meaning to, I have let this little spot ‘o’ mine slide. I started working full-time July 1st and work is awesome yet kicking my butt! I am in the process of A LOT of meetings with all sorts of education facilities in Portland. Basically I work for a community organization with education from pre-school through adult ed under my portfolio. My first order of business has been to meet with all our community partners to find ways of connection. I’m also going to two conferences in August–in LA where I’m presenting two hour and a half workshops, gotta work on those! And a super shortie one in Chicago.

Other than work, I’ve had some good friends move up to town with their 10-month old so I’ve been taking lots of walks with them and hanging out.

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I witnessed a gorgeous sunset last night driving home from my new favorite store:

2014-07-28 19.47.48How come no one told me about this AMAZING store? I picked up some stuff yesterday (justified that it’s my birthday on Friday!)

2014-07-09 16.37.28Enjoyed happy hour with my co-workers–loved the color of this hard cider.

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And enjoyed the beautiful weather on the deck with a glass of wine and the newest issue of Bust magazine.

2014-07-21 08.10.12 HDRStuck a bird on it at work!

2014-07-24 11.59.15Witnessed a random woman walking by with two horses. Behind her was a woman with a big pooper scooper. Ahh the things you see in Portland.

picstitchI also received an awesome foodie package from Clare in Santa Barbara and am participating in the Local Flavor Swap from Chaotic Goddess Swaps


I can’t wait to shower someone with some awesome Oregon goods!

I also promise to try and be better about posting in my little spot of the internet!

Berries Galore

I don’t generally do any sorts of weekend updates but I had a super fun weekend so I thought I’d share.

Fourth of July I went on a bike ride with my parents and my brother. I was super proud–we did an eight mile bike ride and I have not ridden a bike in 11 years. Truth be told, I am a klutz, so my mother kept saying, no injuries, no visits to the ER. I am glad to say I survived and did not fall. My father was not so lucky, he missed a curve and tumbled down an embankment. Poor guy has a huge bruise on his thigh.

After bike riding, my mother decided we needed to pick up berries so we ended up searching for a berry farm. taking Scholls-Ferry Road out until we found an open farm out in Scholls, Oregon (about fifteen minutes from our house). What a fun time! When I was little we used to go strawberry picking every summer and then my mom would make jam and I’ve been wanting to do something similar for several years now. We didn’t pick strawberries but raspberries, which honestly is much more fun because the bushes are higher up!

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2014-07-04 13.37.342014-07-04 13.37.42We ended up picking almost two buckets of raspberries and then buying a flat of blackberries and boysenberries. We ate a ton of them raw with whipped cream but I knew I wanted to bake with them so I made whole-wheat raspberry oat scones and a raspberry blackberry pie. I was super excited to try and make a pie crust for the first time. Unfortunately the Cuisinart burned out halfway through preparation (the mixer is fine now) but it definitely put a crimp in my pie baking. But all in all, it was delicious and I will have to work on the appearance now!

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The pie pre- and post baking.

2014-07-06 11.43.39 2014-07-06 11.50.16Scones and over-whipped cream (ok butter) and a fresh latte. Wonderful summer weekend!

 

Not Quite Local Living: Jack Daniel’s Distillery

When I told friends I was going to Nashville and asked for recommendations, the number one recommendation was the Jack Daniel’s Distillery. It’s about an hour drive to the distillery from Nashville and it’s a very pretty drive. OK, we may have missed the exit and gone about 20  miles out of our way in the middle of nowhere, but it was beautiful country roads!

The distillery offers two tours, a free tour of the site and a tasting tour for $10. We decided to go for the freebie tour.

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It was also a beautiful day so a perfect time to be walking outside.

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Mr. Daniels was a short man! He was just about my height at 5″2, and look at all he accomplished! He moved to Lynchburg in the 1880’s to start the distillery. He never had any kids but was quite the ladies man.

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No one is quite sure what No. 7 means but some speculation is it’s the number of his girlfriends. There was also a really cool old firetruck on the property. Everyone who works at the distillery is local and seems to have worked there for ages and love it.  The staff was very nice and friendly.

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This was Jack Daniel’s desk and the safe that caused his death. He came in early to work one day in 1905, couldn’t get the safe open, kicked it, and ended up developing gangrene which killed him in 1907. His nephew took over and then his nephew’s sons.

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The building that the office was in was used until the 1950’s I believe and is a historical landmark. They now have a new office across the way but keep this one as a memory.

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The water comes from onsite and they aren’t sure how deep this cave is but the water is cleansed by the limestone and was so beautifully clear.

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Each barrel that the whiskey ages in is handmade with no nails. It’s actually a super interesting process. Each one is only used once. You can buy a barrel of whiskey in which case you get a plaque with your  name and every time you buy a new barrel, a medallion goes on that plaque.

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The motto from Daniel’s time through today and the beautiful grounds.

We then went over to the town of Lynchburg for lunch and walked around. It’s all centered around a square and was super cute. There were some really neat craft stores and of course all sorts of Jack Daniels souvenirs.  Of course you can’t buy any of the whiskey there though! They did pass an ordinance in the past several years that one could buy certain whiskeys on the distillery site but I didn’t want to have to check luggage back home for a bottle of whiskey.

I would highly recommend making a trip out here and if I ever go back, I’d love to do the tasting tour as I do love wine tasting tours so I can imagine this would be fun too!

Not Quite Local Living: Country Music Hall of Fame

2014-03-28 13.14.01So one of the things that most surprises people about me is the fact that I am addicted to country  music.  I blame this on a few factors.  The first is when I was a kid, my father and I were at Target and trying to find a cassette tape for my walkman for a road trip we were going on. He picked up Garth Brook’s Ropin’ The Wind and said that he had heard it was good. I was hooked!  Then later when I was living in Israel, my first boyfriend at fifteen was from South Carolina.  He got me listening to The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Anita Cochran–artists I still love today. It’s been all downhill from there! If you go into my iTunes account, you will see show tunes, country music and Israeli rock.  Go figure.

So it was with excitement that I spent the weekend in Nashville, TN, home of country music! And what better place to explore country music than at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

The museum was pretty cool and offered different levels of entrance. We got a discount with my AAA card so paid $20/ticket. This got us into the main exhibit and into the special Reba exhibit.

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I loved the colors of the sign up above the ticket.

We started in the Reba exhibit.

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There was a Reba Barbie and knowing how much my girl, Melissa from A Honey Lust loves Barbie, I had to get a picture to her! The Reba exhibit was really cool-pictures of her growing up, images of her at the rodeo, her family and her Hollywood career as well as dresses she’s worn throughout the years.  I especially loved seeing her college diploma–she has a BS in Elementary Education!  Who know?!

Then there were two more floors of exhibits–starting with the early years of country music and bluegrass.  There were tons of old instruments and the clothes they would wear.

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There were even cars of former country stars! Being from California, I think the most surprising thing to me was the impact that Bakersfield, CA had on country music.  I learned that when the great migration happened during the Depression and people were leaving the south and heading west (think The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck), their music and customs were going with them.

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I also loved the more modern section because those are the artists I listen to and it was fun seeing relics from tours and things like that.  The final room, which I didn’t get a picture of was a round rotunda filled with plaques with pictures of everyone who had ever gotten into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

I definitely enjoyed the museum and would recommend it to anyone visiting Nashville.  Any Nashville places you recommend?

 

 

Local Living: Clatsop Loop at Indian Beach at Ecola State Park

Whew, talk about a long name! I’ve always loved walking and hiking and I’m trying to get into better shape. Oregon is a FABULOUS place to hike and that’s what I did this weekend.  We had a perfect Oregon weather weekend. The weather was in the mid sixties to low seventies and everyone was outside!

I went with three friends down to Cannon Beach, on the Oregon Coast-about an hour drive from my house. We were planning to hike Tillamook Head which is at Indian Beach in Ecola State Park.

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The hike is about 3.6 miles long with a 900 foot elevation climb. Here’s what Oregon.com had to say: “The farthest point reached by the Lewis and Clark expedition was not at the mouth of the Columbia River, but rather 20 miles south at Tillamook Head, where they went hiking in search of whale blubber.  Today a section of the Oregon Coast Trail in Ecola State Park follows the explorers’ route to the dramatic, thousand-foot cliff of Tillamook Head, overlooking craggy islands. The route passes a viewpoint that made even Captain Clark exclaim in wonder.

I am not going to lie, this hike was a challenge for me. But I stuck with it, and although it took me longer than the peeps I was with, I made it and it was so worth it!

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At the top were a cluster of cabin/huts that you can camp in with a fire pit in the middle. That could be a lot of fun for a night or so!

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Sweaty but I made it to the top and a beautiful view out to the ocean.  In the background you can see a lighthouse that is no longer in use. There were also bunkers up here that were used during World War II.

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My friend, Christine, I’ve known her since high school!

 

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These were all taken at the top, at the viewpoint.  These are the times I love living in such a beautiful part of the country!

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Within the forest, on the hike down. The hike up was much more like a gravel road but the way down felt much more trail-like and serene.

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Down at the beach looking up at where we hiked from.  All in all, it was an amazing hike and I am so glad that I persevered and accomplished this. I have a couple of more hikes planned in the next few weeks with Christine and I’d like to do a couple of smaller ones on my own coming up.

Did you do anything particularly outdoorsy this weekend? Any recommendations of local hikes?

Foodie Fridays: Gracie’s

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I mentioned that I went to happy hour at the Driftwood Room.  After drinks we went and ate at Gracie’s, also in the Hotel Deluxe.  When we walked in, I actually realized I had been there years before for a work function and was excited to actually try out the food.

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The restaurant itself is full of old school charm-big comfortable chairs and banquette seating.  It definitely seems like a great place to hold a celebration. I went with two girlfriends as part of Portland Dining Month.  This is an awesome deal where you can get a three course meal at over 90 restaurants for only $29!  You can read about my trip to Thirst Wine Bistro where I went last week.

The menu was extensive and there were about four or five choices for appetizer, main course, and dessert.  Each looked incredibly interesting and when I compared them to the regular menu, it was definitely a savings when you did the dining month deal.

I started with the Gorgonzola Cheesecake-fresh bread, whole roasted garlic, fruit chutney & balsamic glaze.  So delicious!  I am of the school that the stinkier the cheese the better and I adore cheesecake so this was a perfect marriage.  The balsamic glaze and the fruit chutney mellowed out the gorgonzola and it was a delicious appetizer.

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For my main course I decided to have the Braised Lamb-fruited Israeli couscous, crispy winter greens & mint pesto.  I love lamb and really don’t eat it that often, usually only on vacation so this was a real treat.  I am also a huge fan of Israeli couscous (probably from living in Israel!) because I prefer the larger pieces and the fruit was a great compliment to the lamb.

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For dessert I had the Crispy Bread Pudding.  In the past few years, I have fallen in love with bread pudding and this was exactly how bread pudding should be, crisp and moist.  Covering it caramel sauce doesn’t hurt it either!

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I am really loving Portland Dining Month and have made sure to go to places I haven’t been before (except realizing that I’d been to Gracie’s before but don’t even remember the menu so it’s ok!)  Tomorrow night I am going to my last Portland Dining Month restaurant for this year and am looking forward to just as great of a meal.

Have you tried out any of the awesome Portland Dining Month deals?

Happy Hour: Driftwood Room

A couple of weeks ago I went out to dinner with some friends as part of Portland Dining Month.  It was within the Hotel DeLuxe and the restaurant was great-I will write about that later this week.  But we got there a bit early so we went to their bar for drinks.  Their bar is called Driftwood Room.  Here’s what the hotel says about the Driftwood Room:

The Driftwood Room is a Portland landmark, serving thirsty revelers since the cocktail lounge heyday of the 1950′s and still today at the vanguard of Portland’s craft cocktail scene. Try one of our signature champagne cocktails. Order a sip from our extensive Manhattan menu. Temper the tipple with our legendary sizzling forest mushrooms. It’s a perfect Hollywood setting for a Hitchcock thriller or romantic romp.

The room was so much fun!  First of all, I felt like I was in an episode of Mad Men the way a lot of people were dressed–for some reason there were at least two tables of people in vintage clothing.  The menu itself represented the theme as well!

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I tried two drinks while I was there and was definitely a bigger fan of the first.  Both were champagne cocktails. The first one I tried was the Rose Colored Glasses and was made with gin, rose syrup, fresh lemon juice and champagne.  I think I’m in a floral mode because I’m loving anything rose flavored as well as anything lavender. . . must be spring in the air!\

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The second drink I had with dinner but was still from the Driftwood Room so I’m going to include it here.  It was called Elizabeth Taylor and was made with creme de violette and champagne.  Not sure what creme de violette is but it was a little too sweet for me.

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It also was the color of a grape Jolly Rancher, which you can’t see particularly well in this picture.  We didn’t get any food because we knew we were having a big meal afterwards but I would definitely go back and try the Happy Hour menu because it looked good and the prices were reasonable.

The hotel itself also has that romantic look of days gone by in the lobby and I think it would definitely be a fun hotel to stay in, along with a fantastic location.

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I tried to bring in some retro glam with my red lips.  Something about red lipstick just makes me feel glamorous!

Hotel DeLuxe-Driftwood Room
729 SW 15th Avenue
Portland, OR 97205

 

 

 

Foodie Fridays: Thirst Wine Bar and Bistro

I have been very lucky since I moved back in Portland to become involved with a great group of bloggers here in Portland, Portland Bloggers.  About a month ago they posted the opportunity to win a chance to blog about Portland Dining Month.  As you know, I love reviewing restaurants so I totally jumped on the opportunity.

Yay!  I won!  I got to go with my friend Melissa and eat the amazing three course meal at Thirst Wine Bar & Bistro.  Thirst Wine Bar & Bistro is located in the south waterfront, an area that I really haven’t spent much time down in for several years and it was as beautiful as I remember it.  The restaurant is located along a row of restaurants and shops facing the water and a boat dock.  The day was a perfect Portland day, nary a cloud in the sky so sitting down by the waterfront and looking across the Willamette was perfect.

So Portland Dining Month has over 90 restaurants participating in it and this was my second (I will blog soon about my dinner at Gracie’s!).  A little information from Thirst’s website: “Thirst Bistro opened in 2006 with our main dining room, bar and outside space. Thirst expanded with The River Room (private parties) in 2008 and expanded our menu from traditional wine bar to full restaurant including spirits and cocktails. In 2010 we opened The Cellar, another private dining room where we also hold our wine dinners and classes. Thirst has patio seating for 100 outside on the Esplanade and is the best place to watch downtown fireworks in the summer and The Christmas Ships in December. Enjoy the unobstructed River and Bridge views year-round.”

They weren’t kidding about the view!  We made the reservation through OpenTable because Dine Portland made a donation to the Oregon Food Bank.  The restaurant was not crowded at all and Melissa and I were seated right away at a window side seat.  The server, who was incredibly friendly, brought both the regular menu as well as the Portland Dining Month menu and an extensive drink menu-focussed on wine-it is, after all, a wine bistro!

Clearly we both went for the Portland Dining Month menu–three courses for only $29, can’t beat that!

There were three options for appetizers, of which I could only eat one since one had bacon and one had shellfish, neither of which I eat.  I chose the House Salad with mixed greens, blue cheese, hazelnuts, red onion, cherry tomato, vinaigrette.  I asked for no red onions as I’m not a fan of raw onions.  Melissa had the Hot Crab Dip with baguette.

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I found the salad to be good, crisp and with just the right amount of vinaigrette.  I would have added more hazelnuts and cheese but that’s me loving those two parts.  Melissa liked the hot crab dip but found it a tad spicy for her liking.

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We both had the Bistro steak with caramelized onion smashed potatoes and the vegetable of the day which was roasted carrots.  Melissa had it medium-well and I had it medium-rare.  It was delicious!  The meat was perfectly cooked and the potatoes were super delicious.

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For dessert we both got the Warm Chocolate Bread Pudding with vanilla ice cream.  Amazing!  I mean you can’t really go wrong with chocolate bread pudding anyway but this was super and a great way to finish off the meal.

I also had a flight of wine-bartenders choice.  It came with three wines-a white, a pinot noir and another red.  Two were Oregon wines and one was a Washington wine.

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The wines were the perfect accompaniment to dinner.

Overall, dinner was amazing and for $29/person, we really had a lot of food!  I would definitely plan to go back to Thirst Wine Bar & Bistro, especially in the summer when we can sit outside overlooking the water.

Make sure to Spin the Wheel of Deliciousness for a chance to win a year of free meals!

I was very lucky to be provided with this opportunity by Downtown Portland which provided me with a gift certificate to Thirst Wine Bar & Bistro which covered the meal for two people.

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On My Bookshelf: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Wild I’ve been looking for a book club for several years since I left a pretty awesome one in Los Angeles.  Finally a few people recommended that I use meetup.com to find one.  Well I went on and signed up for a few different groups.

The first one was reading the book Wild by Cheryl Strayed.  This was a book that I’d heard about and was on my “let’s read eventually” list so I decided to pick it up and give it a whirl.

This woman is absolutely insane.  First of all, I guess I wonder about how accurate her timeline actually is.  I think that for the most part, what she wrote about, did actually happen but I’m not convinced that it was in as short of a time period as she states.

Here is the goodreads.com synopsis:
“A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe—and built her back up again.
 
At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and to do it alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than “an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise.” But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone. 
 
Strayed faces down rattlesnakes and black bears, intense heat and record snowfalls, and both the beauty and loneliness of the trail. Told with great suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild vividly captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.”

Again, I think this woman is absolutely insane and it’s a miracle that she didn’t die with how unprepared she was.  Strayed does a wonderful job of describing the ultimate beauty and tranquility she experienced and I definitely want to walk the Oregon parts of the trail but after much training and making sure I have all the necessary equipment.

For the book meetup, we met at a local brewery/public meet house and it was a lot of fun.  I convinced a friend of mine to come with me so I didn’t have to go alone and we met with about eight other like-minded readers.  All in all, a good time was had and I will definitely be going to more meetings!