Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Guilder: Portland OR

The view from Guilder's second floor

The weather turned this week and fall officially arrived. And of course, on that first cool and overcast day I immediately started to crave something warm and comforting to eat. That’s when I had my “Aha!” moment and remembered Guilder, a relative newcomer to the coffee shops, bakeries and cafes that dot NE Fremont Street in Portland, Oregon.

I’d been to Guilder once before and enjoyed the Scandinavian ambience – a comfortable mix of industrial chic, high ceilings and lots of natural light.

Sweet porridge

I also greatly enjoyed Guilder’s sweet porridge, another reason I returned. According to Mike Nelson, one of Guilder's owners, this Northern European take on oatmeal was inspired by a traditional Danish recipe. It consists of steel-cut and rolled oats, farro, cranberries, cardamom-spiced almonds, plus your choice of milk – another nice touch! The whole thing is topped off with a generous dollop of housemade berry jam. It has a lovely sweet-but-not-too-sweet flavor and is actually quite filling. (One bowl left me sated for a solid three hours.)

Guilder part owner Mike Nelson

I’m pretty stoked Guilder is just up the road from me. The cafĂ©’s light and airy feeling, the friendly staff plus the tasty porridge is just what I’ll need to fully embrace the colder and darker days ahead.

2393 NE Fremont St.

Portland, OR 97212

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Hammock Heaven: Tygh Valley OR

I’m lucky enough to know some fine people who live in Tygh Valley, Oregon.  Their home sits on a hill with views of the rugged surroundings dotted with maples and sagebrush. It’s constructed from straw bales – which is pretty cool in itself.

When visiting during the warmer months, I always gravitate to the hammock. It hangs between two sturdy trees, and during the afternoon, just the right amount of dappled sunlight filters through. At night you can swing in it and stargaze. It’s also wide – so you can really stretch out. If you tip it just right, you can reach your beer resting on the ground below.

And in these waning days of summer, it’s import to remember the season’s simple pleasures – like a warm breeze, a frosty beer, and a perfectly placed hammock.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Walk on the Wildflower Side: Memaloose OR

A friend suggested we take a walk amongst the wildflowers at Memaloose State Park in Mosier, Oregon, just east of Hood River. So on that sunny day – after a particularly long, harsh and wet winter – we headed into the Columbia River Gorge.

A very helpful and current blog post by hiker and travel writer Paul Gerald (complete with photos and video) helped steer us to the right spot, and pointed out several things worth noting – including where to start and parking suggestions. (Always helpful if you’re hiking someplace for the first time.)

After a healthy frolic amongst the balsamroot and green rolling hills, we returned to the car, crossed the Columbia River via the Hood River Bridge, and topped off our hike with a visit to two excellent Washington State wineries: COR Cellars and Syncline Wine Cellars.

By our second glass of wine in the sun, winter was starting to feel more like a distant memory than a daily reality.

Mission accomplished.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

A Different Kind of Mocha: Portland OR

Yeah, yeah…I know what you're thinking. Another aerial photo of a cute coffee drink. But you know what? This one is different. This is a Soviet Mocha from Jim and Patty’s, the beloved coffee and pastry shop located in the Beaumont-Wilshire neighborhood in Portland, Oregon. What makes it Soviet is that underneath all that whipped cream is a mocha infused with a dollop of sour cream. Delicious!

So just give yourself permission to forego that anemic skinny latte made with 1% (blecch!) and go for it.

Sometimes happiness is elusive, but sometimes it’s as easy as getting a really amazing specialty coffee drink.

Portland, Oregon

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Bathing in Forest Park: Portland OR

Yes, you can bathe in a forest. The Japanese have a term for it: shinrin-yoku.

In Japan, visiting the forest is actually an officially recognized way to decompress.  Apparently, there are numerous studies that show spending time in the woods improves physical and mental wellbeing, and that breathing in what various trees are giving off is part this healthful practice. Simply being “fully present” in the forest is highly rejuvenating.

Seems like forests can be considered the original spa experience: a place where one can clear the senses and cleanse the soul.

So, skip yoga and put your aromatherapy aside for one afternoon. Instead, go straight to the source. If you happen to be in Portland, that would be Forest Park.

Forest Park
Portland, OR

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A Lucky Break: Annecy, France

Last summer a baby unicorn fell into my lap.

What I mean is a really great opportunity came my way in the form of a freelance writing assignment for Salomon, which is located in Annecy, France, near the French-Swiss border.

So, to further milk the unicorn metaphor, I hopped on its back and off I went.

Annecy has been described as the "Pearl of the French Alps", which in my humble opinion, is a bit of an understatement. Annecy Lake, Annecy le Vieux (the old city) and the nearby village of Talloires are all beyond stunning. 

The lakeside experience in particular is mind-blowingly gorgeous  – so gorgeous that I felt that I had been dropped into a Conde Naste Traveller magazine center spread. On that that picture-perfect July afternoon, it seemed I had entered into some sort of Alpine dream: a cloudless blue sky and a sparkling lake surrounded by rugged peaks, complete with tanning sun worshippers.

If you are headed to France anytime soon  – check this place out. You won’t be disappointed.

And if a unicorn comes knocking at your door – hop on and go for the ride.

Monday, February 29, 2016

A Weekend to Remember: Astoria OR

Wow. Astoria. Where have you been all my life?

I mean, I’ve lived only two hours away for almost fifteen years, and I’ve definitely been to and been through Astoria. But this time I actually hung out in Astoria and got to know it better, and I’m so glad that I did.

My primary reason for going was to attend the FisherPoets Gathering 2016 for my client Fishpeople Seafood. Before and after the festivities I had lots of down time, so I got to kick around town which allowed me to stumble across things. Sometimes it’s more fun that way.

Here’s a few highlights:

Astoria Riverwalk Inn
This modestly priced inn sits right on the water and offers views that far exceed their rates. The photo above was taken from my room.

The Astoria Bridge
After living many years in San Francisco, I can tell you my bar is high when it comes to bridges. But I must say, the Astoria Bridge is right up there with the best of them. The structure is visually arresting and set against incredible scenery creating multiple photo opps. I find it just as impressive as the Golden Gate Bridge, albeit in a more understated Pacific Northwest way. And like the Golden Gate Bridge, the Astoria Bridge acts as a gateway to the Pacific which gives it a grand sort of feeling

Historic architecture
So many historic buildings are intact and actively used in Astoria, giving this small city a very livable and cohesive feel. The streets are inviting and make you want to meander around.

Custard King
This is not your average ice cream stand. This is Custard King, a beloved Astoria landmark that dates back to the 1950s and was rescued from years of neglect by already-successful and enterprising Portlanders. That’s a good story with a happy ending.

Now, onto the custard.

Never one to pass up a high calorie dairy-infused opportunity, I had a cone. And let me tell you – it was delicious. Apparently this is a Midwestern take on soft serve ice cream.  It’s extremely creamy and not quite as sweet. As a result it tastes homemade and, well, more real – as opposed to something that just gets poured into a machine then churned out as soft ice cream. Definitely worth a stop.

Sea lions
If you’re looking for an adorable sea mammal fix visit the sea lions at Pier 39. I think there were at least a couple hundred lolling about on the rocks – pretty good for a sunny late February afternoon. Sea lions are very vocal and they are fun to watch. They are, quite simply, charming creatures.

Rogue Brewery at Pier 39 has an outdoor deck in close proximity to the sea lion hangout. You you can actually commune with them while you dine. But consider  yourself warned: sea lions are very vocal, plus they have a certain “natural” scent. Depending on which way the wind is blowing, it can envelop you while you chow down on your burger and beer. It's all part of the fun.

Astoria, I'll be back. Soon.