Thursday, September 13, 2012

between the raindrops

i headed up to portland a few weekends ago to hang out with hipsters eat my way through the town and consume lots and lots of coffee. it was quite the trip.

i had less than 48 hours there and DEFINITELY made the most of every second i had. i sure am getting pretty damn good at fitting a week's worth of stuff to do in about 2 days worth of time.

here's a recap of what i did/ate/saw!

i flew into PDX at about 3:30 in the afternoon, and after a quick stop at the hotel to check in, drop off my stuff, and change (it was 80 degrees in portland, whereas i was dressed for 60 degree san francisco weather), i was ready to go at about 4:45. first stop: the international rose test garden. this was the city of roses, after all.

it was quite a sight. i was amazed by all the different varietals of roses - who knew there were so many? i spent about an hour walking around, taking it all in and snapping tons of photos. so pretty.

i then walked up the hill to the japanese gardens.

apparently, it is considered the "most authentic japanese garden outside of japan." it reminded me a lot of being in kyoto exactly a year ago. it was gorgeous - very lush and tranquil. and it was huge!

i made my way back towards downtown, ready for my first cup of coffee in portland.

i actually had stumptown while in seattle, but since it originated in portland, i had to stop there first of course. it was probably my favorite of all the different coffee that i had in portland (which means, by comparison, that  vivace in seattle is still my favorite coffee, EVER). i had a nice conversation with the barista there about coffee - he asked if i worked in coffee since i told him i was in town to sample all the different offerings, and apparently that's what you do when you work in the industry. he gave me suggestions for other places to hit up in town - which all ended up being on my list (sadly, i ran out of time and didn't get to all of them. but close enough).

popped into the ace hotel lobby. 

the ace was my first choice for lodging in portland, but by the time i was ready to book, it was sold out. grrrr. will definitely have to stay there next time because i stayed at the ace in seattle and quite enjoyed it, and seriously - isn't that the coolest lobby ever?!?!?!

i popped into the photo booth too, of course. i already scrapped my photo strip:

then popped into clyde common for dinner.

three things i can say about portland, and clyde common: 1) communal-style dining is big here (which made for a little bit of awkwardness as i was traveling by myself); 2) it's super hipster; and 3) hipsters make the best cocktails. EVER. i had the kingston club to drink (Drambuie, pineapple, lime, Fernet, Angostura, orange peel) and a dungeness crab tagliarini to eat. good stuff.

walked over to cacao for some drinking chocolate.

picked up a couple of bars too. you know, research for work (i may not work in the coffee biz but i DO work in the chocolate biz). they have TONSSS of bars. i ended up buying the most bizarre bar i came across - a bar with foie gras. it was not the best choice on my part, but it was...uh...interesting.

then walked over to powell's.

HOLY CRAP. this was by far my favorite thing that i did in portland. it was AMAZING - it takes up an entire city block and is four stories high and is filled to the brim with books!!! they even give you a map to help you navigate inside. so awesome. i had gone in expecting to kill maybe a half hour to an hour there, then had to kick myself out after 2 1/2 hours so i could cross off the rest of my to-do list for the day. but i could've spent all day in there (and could've probably bought out the whole store. i settled for four).

headed back to the hotel to drop my newly purchased books off and then headed to biwa.

i don't know what it is about ramen, but i can eat it all day long. they also had other izakaya-style food and their cocktails were tasty.

i then ended the night with a drink at dig a pony. super hipster bar. which meant that my drink was DELICIOUS.

i started off day two with a stop at extracto for coffee, then headed over to beast for a super epic brunch.

everything was amazing. the only negative was that i was seated at a communal table (very portland-esque) by myself and i felt super awkward - especially because i kept pulling out my camera to take pictures of my food. apparently no one does that in portland, pffft. the first course was a summer berry claufoutis (a french pancake sort of thing) with bacon (YUM), followed by a lamb hash as the main. SO GOOD. that was followed by a cheese plate (which i forgot to photograph), then an amazing chocolate truffle cake.

needless to say, i was stuffed, so the next order of business to walk around the neighborhood.

i quite enjoyed the alberta neighborhood a lot. it was kind of funky, lots of color, and LOTS of cute + fun shops. some notable ones: ampersand, troolie, redbird studio, and billygoat vintage.

had to stop off at salt & straw for ice cream even though my stomach wasn't quite ready for it...

i had the sea salt with caramel ribbons. deliciousness.

made my way towards downtown again, and stopped into barista for coffee.

ended up strolling through chinatown...

walked past the "keep portland weird" sign...

tried to get in line for voodoo doughnuts but it was insane. overheard someone talk about a second location and looked it up on my phone. turns out it was in a neighborhood i was planning to head to later that day anyway, so i promptly got out of line and headed over to the saturday market (which also goes on on sundays as well).

finally got myself my donut fix. i would definitely recommend the other location - no line!!!

i got the maple bacon bar, but was definitely impressed by the fruit loop one.

strolled around east burnside for a bit. stopped into nationale, which is a cute little store that my coworker recommended. ended up at heart coffee.

that was something like my fifth cup of coffee that day. yep, i'm also surprised my heart didn't pop oout of my chest, either.

ended up on the burnside bridge, and snapped some pictures of the willamette and the other surrounding bridges in the city.

then headed to pok pok for dinner.

again, communal-style dining is big in portland. these plates are made for sharing. not ideal for me, but that was okay, because everything was delicioud. i had the kai yaang (the stuffed hen - their signature), and yam tuna (a thai-style tuna salad). i also had a drink which was basically an alcoholic mango lassi. SO GOOD.

one of the things on my portland to-do list was to go to a show. of course, all the bands i wanted to see were either playing right before or right after my trip. i came across the band animal kingdom after scouring a bunch of show listings and decided i liked them enough, so i went to see them.

the show was at the doug fir lounge, which was actually a pretty awesome venue. would definitely see a show there again.

was getting hungry (again), so the last stop of the night was at the cartopia pod for a late night food cart fix.

i had a fried chicken pot pie from whiffies and a crepe from perierra creperie. i wanted to try the wood-fired pizza too, but my stomach couldn't handle it.

side note: cartopia is the food truck pod that's featured in portlandia. i started watching that show again after i came back, and went "I WAS THERE!!!!" also, that show is doubly hilarious (it was already hilarious before but even more so now!) now that i've actually been to portland.

anyhow. i woke up bright and early the next morning to maximize the few hours i had left until i had to head to the airport. first order of business: the aerial tram.

ok, this was pretty awesome. sometimes i wish san francisco had one of these to help us with some of the hills :P while being on the tram was cool, the best part was the amazing views of the city you get from the top of the hill. on a clear day, you are supposed to have amazing views of mt. hood, but it was a bit overcast. come to think of it, i did not see mt. hood at all that weekend!

it was time for coffee and breakfast, so i headed over to oui presse.

CUTEST CAFE EVER. seriously, i wish i took more pictures. i want to go back to take more pictures of it. but the coffee was tasty and their coffee cake was fresh out of the oven and super delicious.

decided i had time for one more stop. i had to choose wisely. i ended up going with pine state biscuits.

biscuits, fried chicken, gravy and cheese? YES PLEASE.

and thus ended my adventure in portland. til we meet again...

(p.s. a lot of my planning was based on places that were in the rather: portland guide. the rather, or hunt, series of guidebooks focus on food and shopping - my kinda guides, and is very photo-heavy. i now want one for every city.)

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

can you remember ever having any fun

in an attempt to push myself to get back into photography again, i bought myself a film camera on ebay. (seeing my photo buddies buy one recently AND stalking jose villa's and jonathan canlas's blogs didn't hurt either).

it arrived on friday. over the weekend, i promptly shot through two rolls of film, dropped them in the mail to send to mpix on monday, and finally saw the results today.

some of my fave shots.

the first 4 photos were shot on kodak gold 200 film, the second set were on fuji 200. i can't wait to experiment with different films, but i can see how this can quickly become expensive, haha.

this is probably the best $20 impulse purchase ever. i am completely sold on why film is better (though i am not sure i can ever shoot it exclusively). i just love the softer tones and depth of field from a film camera. it's just prettier.

will probably get out and shoot some more on my day off tomorrow. can't wait to experiment some more!

Friday, July 27, 2012

mirrored sea

you never thought i'd ever get back into scrapbooking, did you? after not doing a single scrapbook layout for something like 9 months, i finally caved and ordered myself a studio calico kit. that seemed to do the trick, as i apparently like to scrap in bed with all my supplies laid out in front of me (i know, i know...april used to make fun of me all the time when i was on the DT there) and a kit is ideal for that. scurrying around your messy room while searching through a pile of boxes looking for that one perfect embellishment, however, does not.

anyways. here are the seven (!!!) layouts i ended up cranking out with the june kit, so-cal. i loved the colors in the kit, and of course it didn't hurt that it reminded me of home.

still working with the july kit, elmwood park, and bit the bullet and decided to subscribe with this next kit, so we shall see if this keeps working.

oh, scrpabooking. i've missed you.

Friday, May 25, 2012


 I took a short little trip out to chicago last weekend and it was full of fun, sightseeing, and good food. my friend samantha and her boyfriend jeff (and his friends, who were there for part of our trip) came along with me, so i wasn't travelling alone for once (yay!) which added to the fun.

even though we were only there for 2 days, we definitely made the most of it and saw most of everything we wanted to see. i am starting to get really, REALLY good at fitting a zillion things into a short period of time.

anyways, i digress. on to the pictures! warning: there are a lot. i ended up with something like 500 pictures on 3 different cameras (the trusty nikon, the point & shoot, and my iphone)

samantha and i flew out of SFO early thursday morning and flew into ORD about 1pm chicago time. loooooved the lit tile walls in the tunnel to the blue line subway at o'hare. LOVED. so much that i had to be a tourist and take a picture in front of it. i think samantha and i took like 20 pictures before we actually got into the city, hahah.

after checking into the hotel, we were starving so we went to get ourselves some lunch. we had passed by grahamwich while walking from the train station to the hotel and it immediately rang a bell as i probably have seen someone (kp, perhaps?) blog about it, and so we headed there.

we split the bbq sanwich, chips, salad and the soft serve. everything was delcious. i kinda wanted to go back later in the trip to try the cinnamon soft serve (we got the vanilla one, which probably was made infinitely more delicious with the abundance of nutella in it). graham elliot was on my list of dinner possibilities while we were in chicago, and even though we ended up going elsewhere (more on that later), i was happy to have been able to try some of his goodness.

we met up the boys, who had flown in on tuesday (they were all leaving on friday, except jeff), and headed to wrigley field.

this was the reason the boys decided to go to chicago, and the baseball nerd in me (who still has "go to every MLB ballpark" on her bucket list) was super excited about this. wrigley is definitely a beautiful ballpark, and it's got a lot of character and charm. the cubs, unfortunately, played terribly and lost.

we left just after the 7th inning stretch and headed to pizzeria uno for some deep dish.

this is the original chicago deep-dish pizza, which made us curious to try it. unfortunately, the pizza wasgood but slightly lacking and a little bit reminiscent of BJs - not a good thing. but at least we can say we had the original?

the next morning, samantha and i got up early and went to brunch at orange.

we had chosen it because it was the closest breakfast place on my list to our hotel, but it was an excellent choice. we got the pancake flight, which was adorable (and delicious), and green eggs and ham - which is actually pesto in the eggs. yummmm. we should've gotten the frushi though, because it is also ADORABLE.

we went to get jeff from the hotel and then started walking. lots and lots of walking seems to have been the theme of this trip.

we walked all the way down michigan ave., past the chicago river and to millenium park so we could spent 30 minutes taking ridiculous amounts of photos in front of the bean.

the bean was pretty cool, i must say.

next, we walked through the park to go to the art institute.

we kind of followed the "what to see if you only have an hour" guide, and pretty much sped through the museum. my favorite thing in whole museum was the chagall glass window. the impressionist and modern wings were also highlights. somehow, i ended up missing the japanese hokusai woodblock print which i would've liked to see. oh well.

we stopped by buckingham fountain...

then we went to the shedd aquarium. we admired the excellent views of the skyline before we went in.

we followed a similar approach as earlier as well, and kind of sped through the entire place in an hour.

samantha wanted to see the beluga whales (so cute), i wanted to see the jellyfish (which make excellent photos), and we saw bits and pieces of everything else.

afterwards, we made a coffee stop at intelligentsia.

if it were just me on this trip, i would've tried to do a coffee tour of chicago like i've done in seattle. the other two i was with aren't big coffee drinkers, so intelligentsia ended up being the one spot i went to because of its proximity to millenium park. luckily, it was at the top of my list and it was great coffee. funny how i lived in LA for so many  years and never went to the LA one. also, apparently the owners are originally from SF...i wish there was on here, too!

we walked all the way back up michigan ave., killed some time shopping on the magnificent mile, and headed out to dinner. we went to mk, which was highly recommended by my foodie friend trisha (whose taste i trust).

everything was delightful. samantha got the chicken, jeff got the lobster whitefish (top left), and i got the duck (top right). everything i read about the place told me i should order the cake and shake for dessert, which i did. it literally is a mini slice of chocolate cake with a vanilla shake in a double shot glass. it was super tasty. out waiter told us that it is the one item that has stayed on their menu for 11 years!

after dinner, we rushed over to sears tower (willis tower, whatever it's called now). my strategy was to get there around sunset to see it change from light to dark (something that happened by chance when i went to the space needle in chicago), but by the time we got up to the top, we had missed sunset.

the glass floors of the skydeck, from 106 floors up, were trippy. it didn't seem that high until the next day when the glass floors were pointed out to us while we were on the architecture cruise and then the height factor really kicked in. craziness.

the views of chicago at night were amazing.

afterwards, we took the el, stopped by the hotel, and were hungry again (we ate an early dinner) so we went to portillo's for some hot dogs.

delicious. did you know you can find these in so-cal too? i will have to pick some up next time i'm home...

as if we didn't get enough of super tall buildings, we decided to end the night with some drinks on the 95th floor of the hancock building at the signature room.

it was nice to get a different perspective. FYI, the best views here are in the women's bathroom. no joke.

the next morning, we headed back down to the river to go on the architecture foundation river cruise, recommended by mara.

the cruise was informative and the docents definitely had lots of interesting information to share about the buildings. you also can't go wrong with some of those stunning views from the boat. it was also nice to be able to be sitting for 90 minutes for a change since we were walking sooooo much the rest of the trip, and there was also a nice breeze out on the water, which was a relief since it was a 90 degree day.

we went to navy pier, which i knew would be similar to fisherman's wharf here (which i despise), but i really wanted to go on the ferris wheel. don't judge.

our last stop before heading to the airport was for more pizza at lou malnati's.

i had a couple people comment that this was their favorite pizza in the city after i posted a pic there, and it definitely was a good choice. although...i still prefer zachary's out here for some reason, which a couple of other friends have mentioned to me as well. oh well, still delicious and an excellent end to a fun weekend.

in case you wondered how the heck i plan out my trips, this is what i did the week before i left...
the tabs were color-coded based on categories of things i wanted to see/do/eat. yeah, i'm hardcore. don't judge me.