On My Bookshelf: The Aviator’s Wife

13642950I originally picked this book up because it was the next book for my Meetup book club.  I ended up not going to the meeting.  Mostly because it was a rainy evening and I didn’t feel like driving out to the east side by myself.  Hopefully I will motivate myself better to go to the next meeting because I really do enjoy going.

Anyway, here’s what Goodreads has to say about the book: “For much of her life, Anne Morrow, the shy daughter of the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, has stood in the shadows of those around her, including her millionaire father and vibrant older sister, who often steals the spotlight. Then Anne, a college senior with hidden literary aspirations, travels to Mexico City to spend Christmas with her family. There she meets Colonel Charles Lindbergh, fresh off his celebrated 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic. Enthralled by Charles’s assurance and fame, Anne is certain the celebrated aviator has scarcely noticed her. But she is wrong.
 
Charles sees in Anne a kindred spirit, a fellow adventurer, and her world will be changed forever. The two marry in a headline-making wedding. Hounded by adoring crowds and hunted by an insatiable press, Charles shields himself and his new bride from prying eyes, leaving Anne to feel her life falling back into the shadows. In the years that follow, despite her own major achievements—she becomes the first licensed female glider pilot in the United States—Anne is viewed merely as the aviator’s wife. The fairy-tale life she once longed for will bring heartbreak and hardships, ultimately pushing her to reconcile her need for love and her desire for independence, and to embrace, at last, life’s infinite possibilities for change and happiness.
 
Drawing on the rich history of the twentieth century—from the late twenties to the mid-sixties—and featuring cameos from such notable characters as Joseph Kennedy and Amelia Earhart, The Aviator’s Wife is a vividly imagined novel of a complicated marriage—revealing both its dizzying highs and its devastating lows. With stunning power and grace, Melanie Benjamin provides new insight into what made this remarkable relationship endure.”

Wow, what a book.  This book was written in the same vein as Loving Frank, about the architect Frank Lloyd Wright in that it took a real person and many real instances in their lives but fictionalized it.  I really enjoy this type of novel because I think it gives me a chance to explore topics I would probably not have explored on my own.  I vaguely knew that Anne Morrow Lindburgh was married to Charles Lindburgh, a famous pilot, and I knew that they had a child who had something happen to him but I was fuzzy on the details and didn’t know much else.

Well this book did a fabulous job of going through the history of Anne Morrow Lindburgh and their marriage as well as Charles Lindburgh’s views during World War II, of which I had no idea.  I really enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in fictionalized accounts of history and those who are interested in learning more about the Lindburghs.

Foodie Friday: Punch Bowl Social

After my amazing hike on Saturday, my friend Christine and I decided to indulge in a great meal through Portland Dining Month (read about my other reviews at Thirst Wine Bar and Gracie’s). This is a great deal here in Portland during the month of March where you can get a three course meal for $29.

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We decided to go to Punch Bowl Social which doesn’t have a website but read more about it on Yelp.  There are actually two parts to the restaurants–one is the actual restaurant and the other is karaoke, bowling and other fun stuff like ping pong.  We actually got a call from the restaurant confirming the reservation and letting us know that we had access to the restaurant and not the games section.

When we got there, we were seated relatively quickly and were excited to start with the drink only to find out that technically the drinks were not part of the $29.  Thankfully we weren’t the first to complain about this so they didn’t charge us for the drinks.  Christine got the Heart of the Union which included Union gin, triple sec, beet syrup, lemon juice and orange bitters shaken and served over ice with a lemon wheel.

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I started with Monk’s Vacation which included: Portland potato vodka, green chartreuse, pineapple juice, lime juice and simple syrup shaken and served chilled with a lime garnish.

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Christine loved her drink from start to finish. I didn’t love mine to start but did end up loving it.

We both started with the Deviled Eggs (tarter sauce, dijon, chives, parsley, coffee bacon jam, piment d’espelette, greens).  I don’t eat bacon so I got mine without.  The eggs were good and Christine said the bacon jam was spicy but good.

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For the main course I got Pacific Salmon Creamed Spinach with creme fraiche, fingerling potatoes, sherry butter, and beurre blanc.

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I found this to be incredibly good but didn’t love the spinach.  Christine got the Mushroom Stroganoff with crimini and oyster mushrooms, onions, roasted garlic, fresh herbs, and lemon.

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She loved it but thought the garlic was a little too much. Dessert was incredible on both accounts.  I got the Vanilla Bean Cheesecake which included Meyer lemon curd, lemon poppy seed polenta shortbread.  It was delicious and light and yum!

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Christine got the Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar which was chocolate brownie, chocolate peanut butter, chocolate ganache, salted caramel and peanut butter.

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All in all, the food was good and the service great.  We both wondered about the decor, we couldn’t figure out what exactly they were trying to accomplish with the choices but I probably would go back to try out the karaoke bar and bowling.

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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: The Interestings

***this post contains affiliate links***

I’ve been trying to find a book club in town for awhile and was excited to see that A Beautiful Mess was holding an online book club.  The book that was picked for the first month, January, was The Interestings: A Novel.  I had read some reviews about the book and was excited because it revolved around a group who had met at summer camp.

The story revolves around Julie-Jules as she becomes known as, who attends camp for the first time at fifteen, after her father passes away.  There she meets a group of five other teens, who name themselves “The Interestings”.  The book follows along Jules as she becomes closer and closer with siblings Ash and Goodman Wolf, Goodman’s girlfriend Cathy , Ethan Figman-the artistic genius of the group and Jonah Bay-son of a sixties folk singer.

This was a book that completely held my attention and proved to me, yet again, that the power of camp is unbreakable and the binds that we create at camp are truly remarkable.

Foodie Fridays: Petite Provence

La Provence

It has been awhile since I did a legit restaurant review and I loved doing them when I was living in New York so I decided to bring ‘em out again!  It has been a lot of fun exploring the Portland foodie community which rivals New York’s and I’m constantly finding amazing restaurants and places to try here.

A couple of weeks ago, I went with my friend, Melissa, to an art class.  I went in starving and knew that we were going to eat afterwards but we hadn’t picked a place.  Melissa mentioned that she had passed a cute restaurant on her way over so we decided to try it out.

Petite Provence was adorable and DELICIOUS!  I would definitely go back.  The restaurant itself is somewhat cramped-we were in between two other couples, an elderly couple that must have been on some sort of date except that clearly they were going dutch and the man was adamant that he wanted some foil to wrap up the bones to bring home to his dog.  He was also very clear that he wanted to pay separately and made sure to slip a $10 bill in for his share and he did not want to be involved with the extra pastries she was purchasing.  The second couple was NOT a date–he kept talking about his boyfriend and they also were very sure to make sure that they were paying separately.  There seemed to be an alcove up above but even though it was quite crowded, they did not want to open it.

BUT the food was awesome!  I was super impressed.  I started with a drink, the Lavender’s Bees Knees-A twist on the classic prohibition-era drink, homemade lavender simple syrup shaken with gin and fresh squeezed lemon juice.  Anyone who knows me, knows I LOVE lavender and this drink was definitely the bees knees!

Lavender Bees Knees

The menu was divided into smaller plates and the server recommended getting a couple of smaller plates so that’s what we did!  I started with the Canapés Francais-a trio of canapés, blue cheese mousse with apple and walnuts; chive cream cheese with smoked salmon and cucumber; and tapenade with roasted cherry tomatoes served on sliced baguette.

Canapés Francais

I personally loved the blue cheese and the salmon but not so much the tapenade–it was a little too salty for me.  The other two, yum!

I then had the Kobe Beef Sliders-topped with sautéed mushrooms and caramelized onions, smoked provolone, and basil aioli.

Kobe Beef Sliders

Yum!  I loved these–the only thing I would say is I wish they had been a little rarer because I like my meat on the rare side but other than that, I devoured these.

You couldn’t come to this restaurant and NOT get dessert-they were all over the place and delicious looking.  The little girl next to us had an awesome looking meringue cookie:

Meringue Cookie

I had a trio of petite desserts that was a great way to try a bunch of different ones.

Petite Trio

This included a chocolate mousse cup–an edible tempered chocolate shell filled with creamy chocolate mousse and Lemon Graffiti-dense chocolate biscuit cake layered with white chocolate creme, lemon curd, lemon creme, ganache with chocolate crisps and almond creme.  I can’t remember what the third one was but it was good!

All in all, I have to say I LOVED this restaurant and I liked the concepts of smaller plates so that you could try a couple of different things.  Their brunch menu on the weekends also looked pretty amazing so I will definitely be coming back!

Beauty Back Talk: CC Cream

I’m trying to get better and better about taking care of my skin.  I was blessed with some amazing skin from my mother and the gorgeous skin that tends to happen on Italians.  But I know that while it’s great now, I still need to start doing a better job of taking care of my skin.

In fact, one of my goals this year is to moisturize more!  So I was excited when I was able to get my  hands on some CC cream.  I received the bottle from Studio Gear Cosmetics.  I’ve never really used BB or CC or any other alphabet named moisturizer but I’m game to try anything once.

Some info on Studio Gear Cosmetics:

“Founded by industry veterans Steve Rohr and John Avolio, Studio Gear Cosmetics is a prestigous cosmetics brand featuring a full collection of professional makeup brushes, revolutionalizing complexion formulas, and a wide selection of color products for the eyes, cheeks, and lips. Since 1996, Studio Gear has been on set at hundreds of professional photo shoots, in the beauty departments of Bloomingdales, Macy’s, Dillard’s, HSN and ULTA, and also in the everyday woman’s makeup bag. This is a line created true to the concept that every woman deserves professional, high quality cosmetics at a reasonable price.”

It was a generous sized bottle and the cream went on smoothly.

You can see me before my makeup application:

CC Cream

Don’t mind my pale face!

CC Cream After

 

Was there a difference?  I’m not sure.  I’d probably have to use it for awhile to see.  I’ll let you know!

Overall, I am definitely enjoying using their products and will probably continue.

 

 

Eggnog Matcha Review

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial. <a href=”http://www.tomoson.com/?code=TOP30895083af3cee0524494d3ecc63896e” rel=”nofollow”><img style=”display: none” src=”http://www.tomoson.com/images/front/pixel.png” /></a>

For anyone who knows me, they know that I live for eggnog latte season.  I was extremely happy to find a place this year that started serving the beginning of October and I am always looking for a way to continue the season.  I actually think I might have found a away with the eggnog matcha from Red Leaf Tea.

I received a sample of this and immediately had to make it.

Eggnot Matcha

They were kind enough to send me a sample with enough for five cups worth.  I used the fancy milk frother my mother has and whipped myself up a cup during the deep freeze here in Portland and it was a great way to stay warm!  It was vanilla-y and custardy tasting and very mild on the eggnog/matcha flavor.  I felt like  I was drinking steamed milk with some flavoring which is comforting when it’s freezing outside.

Eggnog Matcha

Definitely the perfect cold weather treat!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using <a href=”http://www.tomoson.com/?code=BOTTOM30895083af3cee0524494d3ecc63896e” rel=”nofollow”>Tomoson.com</a>. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Cupcake Delight

I am definitely more of a sweets person than a savory person (although salty and sweet together, yum!)  So I totally love the cupcake craze that’s happened over the last several years.  In New York I absolutely loved Crumbs but never got a regular sized cupcake.  I specifically loved the sample pack . . . the cupcakes had a shot of frosting or some other yummy inside and were the perfect size to stay moist and delicious.

Crumbs Cupcakes

One of the things I definitely miss about New York!

So in Los Angeles I decided to try a bunch of different cupcakes to see if they could reach my level of cupcake bliss.

The first place we got cupcakes from was A Sweet Design in Granada Hills.

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The store was in a strip mall but was super cute and warm.  I went with my aunt, uncle and sister.  My aunt and sister both got the vanilla birthday cake cupcakes and my uncle and I split a s’mores one and a chocolate fudge one.  These were very good even though they were too big.  They managed to stay super moist.  I loved the s’mores, it had a graham cracker crust, chocolate in the middle and marshmallow on top.

The fudge was also good and very rich.  We used the fancy cutting board I bought my aunt and uncle to showcase them:

Sweet Delight

 

On Sunday night, while out to dinner with my friends, we talked about Sprinkles and how they now have an ice cream place.  So we went over to Beverly Hills to try out the ice cream.  I have had Sprinkles cupcakes in the past and my big gripe is that they are big and tend to dry out easily.

Once we got to Sprinkles, I remembered they had an ATM so even though the cupcake store was closed (the ice cream store was a separate store), we were able to get cupcakes.

Sprinkles Cupcake ATM

 

I actually picked up three to bring back to Portland.  I got my mom the chocolate peanut butter one, my grandmother a vanilla one and me an eggnog one:

Sprinkles

 

Again, the frosting was good and the cupcake was ok but still drier than others.  The ice cream on the other hand was awesome!  I got a chocolate peanut cupcake split with peanut brittle ice cream in the middle.  Yum!

The final place I went to was Velvet Cupcakes.  This was a last minute stop, I went to a mall and saw it and decided to try them.  I loved that these were minis so I was able to try more than one.  I got a four pack and left two for my sister.

Sadly the container they were in did not keep them upright and the frosting smooshed and I was unable to get good pictures of the cupcakes..

Red Velvet Cupcakes

 

 

I tried the red velvet one which seems to be their classic.

and a pumpkin one.

They were good.  The frosting reminded me of Sprinkles, which I feel like are kind of fake tasting.

Overall, I think A Sweet Design were my favorite LA ones but Crumbs still takes the cake here.