Wow that went quick! April marked my first trip back to Portland for work. And boy did I work – almost around-the-clock for three straight weeks, including weekends. I did have time for meals out with friends, coffee with my parents and an afternoon of shopping though. Phew. I was so happy to get home. Here are 10 things that brought me joy in April:
- Tasty breakfast spots on Oahu – especially ones that serve Portland coffee like Town and Morning Glass.
- Hiking to Maunawili Falls.
- Having a “fruit corner” instead of a fruit bowl.
- Cooking with beets – my favorite veggie.
- Kayaking to the Mokes.
- Shopping ’til I dropped at the Columbia and Adidas employee stores. What? I needed more outdoorsy gear – it’s for my health!
- Dreaming at Rejuvenation Hardware – love this place.
- Running along the waterfront. I have missed you, Portland.
- Seeing my lovely parents, even for just a short while.
- Making up for lost time at my favorite Portland breakfast spots.
I woke up on April Fool’s Day intending to make my favorite Pear Custard Pie recipe. However, one of the required three pears for the recipe was moldy! Fooled, indeed. So I decided to try pear pancakes. Thankfully, I found this recipe for silver dollar pear pancakes, although I used just a basic pancake recipe for the batter. I halved the recipe for the pears and glaze, but still had a huge pile of pear rings so I ended up doubling the batter recipe. This was super simple – pretty much all you do is dip the pear rings in a maple syrup and cinnamon glaze and then fry them for a minute before you pour the pancake batter over them. Delicious!
2 people + 30 pancakes = breakfast for a week. Nom nom.
The depths of winter weren’t so bad since I spent it eating comfort food, rocking out on roller skates and exploring on foot and snowshoe. Here are my top ten from February.
1. Green bean sandwich from Meat Cheese Bread. They also sell the amazing Boylan ginger ale. Southeast Portland is such a foodie haven.
2. Walking Powell Butte and finding this little critter. He told me it was a little too cold to be out crawling around.
3. Soup Spoon in Welches. Best soup ever. I visited a few years ago and have been dying to go back. Problem is they aren’t open on Sunday and they close early on Saturday. It is imperative that you snowshoe early in the day so you can make it here before 3 p.m. The baked potato soup was amazing, but you really can’t go wrong with any of their soups, salads, breads or desserts. Nom.
4. Snowshoeing Mt. Hood. Sometimes it’s fun to park in Government Camp and just wander up the trails. This time we hiked around Enid Lake.
5. Google’s roller skating concert. Google Hotpot/Places hosted a series of concerts in Portland called the “Best Ever” series. They gave out free passes/wristbands to the secret shows by tweeting the location you could pick them up. Pretty cool concept, but kind of a fail because of the disconnect to their actual Hotpot/Places product. But I still pledge allegiance to Google and I’m sure they got the local/WOM buzz they were looking for. But back to the rollerskating at Oaks Amusement Park. This place is awesome – even has a classic Wurlitzer. I rollerskated for three full hours and The Thermals were great. Even though it was my first time on skates in 10 years, it came back fairly quickly. It truly was a best ever concert!
6. This kitteh of mine. He never ceases to amuse me.
7. Jam on Hawthorne. don’t mind waiting in line for Ty’s big breakfast.
8. Snow in Portland. Yes!
10. The movies. One day I will see all of the “Best Picture” nominees before the Oscars. This year I only saw two: “True Grit” and “The Kings Speech.” They both reminded me of how much I love going to the movies.
I’m happy to say I spent 18 of the 31 days of October in Greece and Turkey. This month’s 10 things loved list is going to reflect that.
1. Greek yoghurt – I could live on this stuff. I’ve always loved Greek yogurt, but there’s nothing like going straight to the source. Topped with honey, nuts, fruit – you name it. Love, love love. And isn’t it fun to spell yoghurt with an ‘h’?
2. Traveling with an iPhone – Pre-iPhone, I never imagined how fun this would be. There’s Facebook, Skype and e-mail on the go, but the biggest bonus was the camera. We brought our point and shoot Canon but we ended up using our iPhones during the day for most shots. Now I’m starting to think the perfect travel combination would be an iPhone for daily travel and busy city shots, and a nice SLR for the artsy, good shots. We also enjoyed hooking up to Wifi hotspots all over Greece and Turkey, and the GPS with Google Maps for directions.
3. Packing light – I contemplated taking just a large purse on the trip, a la the “No Baggage Challenge” guy … but I settled on this small Columbia backpack. I am always delighted by people’s reactions when they find out I’m traveling for 2-3 weeks with a tiny bag. And it’s totally worth it to take only the things you love, pack clothing that plays well in multiple outfits, and be able to hike around with your own stuff.
4. Santorini – Quite possibly the most romantic destination on the planet. We spent three days here – we stayed in Imerovigli and it was amazing. We hiked to Oia, relaxed by the pool, watched the sunset over the caldera, ate wonderful food, visited wineries, spent a day at the beach… We could have stayed for a week or two.
5. Ali Muhiddin Haci Bekir Turkish delights – They’ve been making these lokum (Turkish Delights) since 1777. They are to DIE for. I regret just buying one box. We finished them before we even left Istanbul. The shop is on Istiklal Street, just south of Taksim Square. Must go back soon!
6. Going to a Hamam – I’ve wanted to go to a Turkish bath for years and knew I couldn’t leave Istanbul without crossing this off the list. Since I was traveling with my husband, we decided to go to a coed hamam. We chose Suleymaniye, which is housed in a historic building that was designed by the same architect who designed the Suleymaniye Mosque. It was a great experience and very relaxing … part sauna, part bath, part massage. Next time we’re in Istanbul we’ll hit the hamam when we arrive and the day before we leave!
7. Tulu – I have been drooling over items in the Tulu Textiles online shop for the past year or so and was so excited to go here. The designer, Elizabeth Hewitt, is an American, but the pieces have a great global feel… although I think many of her products are sourced in India. Unfortunately, It didn’t quite live up to the hype, mostly because the shop workers wouldn’t allow photos in the store (and proceeded to follow us around which was uncomfortable)! Needless to say, not the experience I had dreamed about, but still some amazing eye candy. The fabrics and colors are quite inspiring. I purchased a set of $80 napkins and a beautiful marble flower tray. Overall, beautiful store, hold the attitude. Tears.
8. Egyptian Spice Market – What an amazing source of inspiration. So many luscious colors and scents. I was completely taken with the variety of teas here. The jasmine blossoms were probably my favorite.
9. Sanborns – Our first restaurant breakfast back home in Portland was at Sanborns. We come here every few months anyway, but it was a great welcome home.
10. Portland Police – Really? Yes! We arrived home to the news that the people who burglarized our home during our last vacation were caught! That’s why I finally felt like I had some closure on my housing issue. Ah, sweet justice! Thanks, Portland Police. 🙂