Treading Lightly
Treading Lightly

Homemade gift wrap, Christmas edition

So you made your gifts, but now what? Traditional wrapping can be expensive and often involves a great deal of waste. If you have ever looked in the trash after Christmas morning the amount of paper, bows, and other wrapping is depressing.

In the past I came up with a few creative ways to wrap gifts, including using old maps, which turned out really well, and plain white paper (which my brother and I may have glued macaroni onto to create a winter wonderland scene… last year). I also really like to use linens as wrapping. This year for my mom’s birthday I used a kitchen towel (that she picked out) to wrap her new pie plate. We have also used baby blankets and wash cloths to wrap a baby shower gift.

But this year I was feeling particularly uninspired, that is until I stumbled across a few ideas. I prefer things that can be reused (like towels and blankets, or pieces of fabric that can be tied into a tote bag), but recylced/upcycled materials are really nice too:

Image courtesy of A Pair of Pairs
 Image courtesy of Sunset
Image courtesy of Sunset
Image courtesy of A Beautiful Mess
Image courtesy of A Beautiful Mess
Image courtesy of Elize Blaha
I really like the use of recycled paper and magazine pages. For more ideas, check out Sunset, A Beautiful Mess, and A Pair of Pairs.

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas… break

For once its quite around campus as the library fills up and people barricade themselves in their rooms to finish all of the things they have put off for the last 10 weeks. Finals start next week and everyone is trying to finish that one last paper. Its peaceful… if you aren’t completely stressed and horrified at the amount of work you have to do.


I bought some holiday tea yesterday to celebrate the occasion and give us motivation to focus and push through these last few days. My roommates even decorated – we have a felt christmas calendar on our door. It’s a tree and an interactive advent all in one. 


Today I will bring my tea to class and day dream about what it will be like to drink it at home, surrounded by family and friends with all of my papers and homework for the quarter burning in the fireplace (not really, I will dutifully recycle them).


To all of the other college students out there, don’t forget to take a break every once and a while. We can do it. Just think, in a few weeks your life is going to be so much better. 

My Favorite Fair Trade, Organic Teas

I love tea. I drink it year round with at least a cup in the morning as I settle into my workday. Some days, especially in the winter, I have another cup after lunch.

But tea has a big impact.

Tea is a mono-crop, and it comes with the heavy pesticide and herbicide use that mono-cropping is known for. The industry has a long history of worker exploitation, poor working conditions, and unequal profits for growers and distributors that lead to unlivable, low wages. Child labor is still widespread, and the tea industry is ripe with trafficking children and women. Deforestation, lack of natural biodiversity, and soil erosion are also rising concerns with an industry that is both growing and being pressured by climate change.

My Favorite Fair Trade Organic Teas

It’s important to me to fill my cup with something I feel good about.

There isn’t a way to know the true impact of the tea I drink and if it contributed to any of the horrors above. But I still think that looking for certain certifications is a start.

I only buy organic teas because it’s better for the workers who pick and process the leaves, for me, and for the environment. I do my best to also opt for fair trade when available. Thankfully fair trade tea is getting a lot easier to find.

Coincidentally, every company featured below is a Certified B Corporation. This means that they are a for-profit company that “meets rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.” It’s an easy way to know if a company is invested in social good, especially in the locations that they do business.

 

My Favorite Fair Trade, Organic Teas

Quick note: While I am trying to transition to loose leaf teas only, some of my favorites still only come in bags. (If you have a favorite loose leaf please share!) I am still searching for a good local source of loose leaf, fair trade, organic teas in bulk. (Bay Area friends, do you know a place?)

 

1. Numi Decaf Ginger Lemon

Taste: This is the one of the two green teas I like. Okay, I haven’t tried a ton of them, but once I had this one I couldn’t see why I should bother switching. The flavor is light and not at all grassy. A squeeze of lemon juice makes this tea divine and a nice wake-me-up in the morning.

To put it frankly, I trust Numi. They don’t use any ‘natural’ flavors or perfumes. They instead rely on high quality spices, herbs, and teas. I know exactly what I’m drinking when I make a cup.

Impact: Fair Trade. Organic. While I wish this tea came in loose leaf, its bags are made from unbleached hemp paper. They are biodegradable and can be composted at home. The boxes are made from recycled cardboard with soy-based inks, and they don’t use any plastic wrap. They are actively working to create home-compostable, plant based wrappers for the tea bags, according to their website. (Their current wrappers have to be sent to the landfill, a fact that many tea drinkers like me take issue with.) They purchase carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates to offset their production emissions and energy use.

 

2. Numi Golden Chai

Taste: A hot, spicy chia can turn any day around. Once you start making your own chai, you won’t go back to the boxed, concentrated shit they sell at most coffee shops.

I’ve had a lot of chais in my life, but this one is by far my favorite to make for myself. It’s robust and spicy, and it holds up great when flooded with milk (or made entirely with milk instead of water). You can add a sweetener if you like, but for the most part it really doesn’t need it. Take note! The Numi’s loose leaf by far is more flavorful than the bags.

Impact: Fair Trade. Organic. Loose leaf and bags (although the loose leaf is superior in every way).

 

3. Traditional Medicinals Green Tea Lemongrass

Taste: In case you haven’t noticed yet, I love citrus flavors, especially in tea. This tea is refreshing without letting the lemongrass overwhelm the green tea. I feel virtuous with a cup of this in hand.

Impact: Organic. Fair trade. Certified B Corp. 100 percent of their electricity comes from local renewable sources. Traditional Medicinals supports many social good projects in India including building schools, helping provide water security for 3,100 people, increasing opportunities for girls and women, and more.

 

4. Numi Breakfast Blend

Taste: This tea is as smooth as breakfast teas come. It’s not bitter or astringent, and it pairs perfectly with a splash of milk or cream.

Impact: Organic. Fair trade. Loose leaf and bags.

 

5. Numi Moroccan Mint

Taste: Minty with a subtle sweetness, this tea is great for curbing a sugar craving or giving you a little after-meal pick me up. I’ve been in love with this tea for years, and I finally bought it in bulk. It turns out a pound of this mint tea goes a looooong way at 1/2 tsp. per cup. I gave it out for Christmas gifts and still have at least a half pound leftover.

Impact: Fair trade. Organic. Loose leaf and bags.

 

6. Yogi Ginger

Taste: This strong ginger tea used to be my secret weapon when I had a sore throat or an upset stomach. These days I drink it even when I’m not sick. The spicy ginger flavor has grown on me. The lemongrass helps add depth and smooth out the ginger taste.

Impact: Organic. While it doesn’t come in loose leaf, the tea bags are compostable and the outer box can be recycled. Yogi is also a Certified B Corporation. You can learn more about their environmental and social impacts here and see their B Corp. score card here.

 

PS. This is not a sponsored post or an advertisement. I don’t receive free products or any other perks for any posts. There isn’t a single affiliate link on the blog. These truly are my favorite teas.

December Reads

December was a lighter reading month for me. I spent a great deal of time baking cookies, visiting with friends and family, and indulging in a bit of TV. That said, this month was all about the ladies – all of these books were written by women, about women.

December Reads

December Reads 2016

What’s Not Yours Is Not Yours

This book felt like required reading in high school, only no one ever explained to me what it meant. I just couldn’t figure out what was going on, and the aspects of fantasy felt jarring. Most of the stories left me extremely confused and disinterested in starting the next. Just not for me.

 

Feminist Fight Club

This book earned its place on my list of the best books I read in 2016.

 

The Wangs Vs. The World

After seeing this book just about everywhere, I decided to finally see what the fuss was about. I wasn’t overly impressed, but it was an entertaining read. The characters frustrated me and the story took odd turns. Overall it’s an eh for me.

 

Where She Went

A sequel to If I Stay, this book is junk food for the brain. I didn’t learn anything or have any insightful revelations. But I did sit down and finish it in a few hours on a lazy day after Christmas. Can’t complain.

 

Men Explain Things to Me

Expectation: A hilarious compilation of men talking down to the author and unnecessarily explaining things. Reality: Rebecca Solnit’s collection of essays covered everything from the pillage of the global South and its ties to how women are treated to war to why we should have hope for the future. The incredibly short book was thought-provoking and connected a lot of important dots for me.

Best Fiction and Nonfiction Books of 2016

I read 70 books this year – that’s more than I have read since I started tracking. It’s more than twice as much as my first Goodread’s Reading Challenge goal in 2014.

This year was the year of nonfiction for me. A whopping 67 percent-47 books-were nonfiction. In years past the opposite has been true, but I wouldn’t change anything. I learned so much and really fell in love with the power of nonfiction.

The books below were some of my favorites from this year, although not all of them were published in 2016. I got a bit carried away with new releases and mostly forgot to pick up books from higher up on my list, but there are a few on the list that have been out for years.

 

Best Fiction and Nonfiction Books of 2016

Top 12 Nonfiction Books of 2016

Since I clearly went for nonfiction over and over this year, it seemed appropriate to start with this list. It contains some of my favorite books from the year. Please note that these are in no particular order – it seems cruel to rank the books that I spent so much time with and that taught me so many different things.

 

Best Fiction and Non-fiction Books of 2016

 

The 4-Hour Workweek 

Tim Ferriss’ debut book is one of the few books that still impact my behavior today. A lot of the rules I have set for technology and my morning routine have come from The 4-Hour Workweek. I don’t have plans to start a product-focused business or take six months off for a mini-retirement, but his principles have still proven to be powerful tools for me.

 

Meanwhile In San Francisco

Wendy MacNaughton’s illustrations are beautiful. They make you feel like you are there with her. Her insistence on talking to everyday people around the city was inspiring to me. It’s a bit like Humans of New York, but illustrated and about San Francisco.

 

Between the World and Me

I think my original review said it best: “Ta-Nehisi Coates is incredible. His book is gut wrenching, especially in light of the recent shootings and violence.

“I’m a small white woman, and I will never truly know what it’s like to be anything but. Coates’ experience and his criticism of The Dream hit me hard. I know what it’s like to always be on guard, to always be afraid, but I have always had privilege to shield me from the worst. This book is as good as everyone says it is. Read it.”

This book made me re-examine my experience and realize that I don’t spend enough time engaging with work (art, music, books, news articles) from people of color. Ta-Nehisi Coates is the reason many of the books I read this year ended up on my list at all. I also think now might be a great time to re-read it. (PS. You should read his recent article on President Obama while you’re at it.)

 

Best Fiction and Nonfiction Books of 2016

 

We Should All Be Feminists

Yes, we should.

 

Creative Confidence

This book lit a fire under me and got me really thinking about how I like to create and what is/was holding me back. “A must read! Especially if you are creative or you think you aren’t. Loved it,” according to me from June.

 

Skin Cleanse

This is another one that has changed my day to day life. I still follow the morning skin routine and diet changes that I started when I first read the book. Although I have to admit that December has been awash in sugar. (So many delicious homemade cookies.)

 

Best Fiction and Nonfiction Books of 2016

 

Shrill

I read a lot of books this year from comedians and culture writers, but Lindy West’s was one of the best. She can easily switch from talking about serious, important topics to telling a hilarious story about her past.

 

Lab Girl

Lab Girl is one of the highlights of my reading this year. This book captivated me and let me see a glimpse of what it would have been like if I had gone into science instead. It was like a taste of an alternate reality for me. Plus, I now have a ton of random facts about trees stored away.

 

Girls and Sex 

Another one I haven’t stopped talking about. This book confronts the way that we teach girls about sex, sexuality, and intimacy through interviews with girls in high school and college. I had many revelations, and I finished the book feeling incredibly thankful for the way I was raised (and the fact that Snapchat and Instagram weren’t a thing when I was in high school).

 

Best Fiction and Nonfiction Books of 2016

 

Curated Closet

A practical guide to actually liking everything in your closet and knowing what your style is. I still haven’t gotten my style figured out or exactly how I like to dress, but this book is getting me there.

 

In The Company of Women

How many more times can I describe one of these books as inspiring? In the Company of Women felt like sitting down for a quick cup of coffee with incredible women creators from the around the world. I loved it.

 

Feminist Fight Club

I highly appreciate anything that can manage to be inspiring and get a laugh. This book is no joke–I took pages of notes on advice for how to handle common work-place situations and advocate for myself–but it does have a “laugh at your own pain” vibe. Her chapter for men “PSA: A Penile Service Announcement: How to have a dick without being one” had my boyfriend and I rolling.

 

Best Fiction and Nonfiction Books of 2016

6 Best Fiction Books of 2016

Despite being a short list, these books are the ones I keep recommending to my friends and can’t stop talking about. I read them all quickly and voraciously, much like I would devour a piece of lemon cake. Please enjoy these reading treats.

 

The Lost Boys Symphony

This is one of the first books I read of 2016, and I continued to recommend it to friends throughout the year. The story has stuck with me, and I can still remember how it made me feel. I stand by my (repeated) recommendation.

 

Still Alice

Told from the point of view of a professor who is slowly succumbing to early-on-set Alzheimer’s, this book drew me in and spat me back out paranoid. The insight into the frustration and the fear from Alice’s point of view was heart-breaking.

 

All the Light We Cannot See

This is another book I continue to recommend. It was originally recommended to me by a coworker, and I put off reading it for months. I wish I hadn’t. The story is rich and complex. I couldn’t put it down.

 

Americanah

Americanah languished on my list for months before I read it from start to finish in quick succession. I enjoyed exploring Nigeria and seeing America through an immigrant’s eyes. The story is harrowing, but worth sticking with.

 

Landline

Rainbow Rowell, the author of Landline, made me fall in love with fiction again. I had been on a massive streak of nonfiction before reading Rowell’s (also excellent) Fangirl. I then read through all of her books. I would recommend all of them, but this one really sucked me in and left me thinking about it weeks after.

 

The Unseen World

The Unseen World took me by surprise. I don’t remember where I heard of it, but I wasn’t sold on the premise when I picked it up from the library. But I couldn’t get enough of it once I started reading it. The main character is trying to unearth her father’s past, and the realness of the story made it come alive. Warning: I spent an entire work day reading this book after intending to read only a few pages at lunch.

 

If I could only recommend two fiction books to read from this year, I’m pretty confident I would go with All the Light We Cannot See and The Unseen World.

 

You can see my entire year of reading here.

November Reads

I can’t believe it’s already Christmas time. Where have the months gone? Everything after our trip to Wyoming in August is a complete blur. So much so that I couldn’t have named a single book I read this month off the top of my head.

But after perusing my Goodreads, I can’t see how I could ever forget. My November reads were perfectly eclectic, and I think I’m finally back into the swing of things with fiction again. Well, I might have something to say about that next month given how my reading is going lately, but at least it was true this month.

November Reads

November Reads

 

The Unseen World

Oh man, so good! I really enjoyed the story, so much so that I spent an entire day reading after picking it up at lunch. Oops.

The characters feel real, and the story is rich and engrossing. The book follows Ada’s unravelling of her eccentric father’s past. It was one of those books where I didn’t see the ending coming (and I also wasn’t furious at the end of it like Gone Girl).

If you have an interest in tech or programming, I think you’ll enjoy it even more.

 

The New Better Off

There is something both comforting and off-putting about reading a book that so perfectly aligns with your beliefs. I started to feel weird about it at the end, like maybe I needed to have my views challenged a bit more. Then I realized that’s what every day life is for in Silicon Valley.

Courtney E. Martin believes that while we may not end up wealthier than our parents in the traditional sense, we have the opportunity to be happier and more fulfilled. She argues for discovering what you really want to be doing with your time, and she made me take a hard look at my community and how I could build it.

While I won’t be moving into a co-op anytime soon, it was a nice reminder that I have more control over my life than I often realize. It also made me want to start putting in more effort to my friendships and building new ones.

 

The Curated Closet

I stumbled across Anuschka’s blog a couple years ago when researching capsule wardrobes. To say she takes detailed consideration seriously is an understatement.

After reading the book all the way through, I’ve been slowly working my way through the exercises. My closet is already cut down fairly significantly–I’m still somewhere around my 50 or so pieces in total–but it doesn’t feel cohesive. Before reading this book I couldn’t have told you my ‘style’ or put into comprehendible words what I like to wear.

I can now answer mot of those questions, and I feel like I have a good roadmap to slowly updating my wardrobe, defining my style, and replacing my worn out pieces. If only it involved never having to shop.

 

Today Will Be Different

I loved Where’d You Go, Bernadettebut this one fell flat for me. The narrator does nothing to make you like her, if anything, everything she does makes you dislike her more. This one was just an ‘eh’ for me.

 

Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl

After walking the aisles of Powell’s for well over an hour in a frenzied daze, I finally settled on Hunger and got out of there. I had seen Carrie Brownstein around here and there, but I knew nothing of her band Sleater-Kinney. Turns out it’s probably important that you know about the band. The book was alright, but I think it would have been way better if I had listened to the music and been a fan before opening it.

 

Little Victories

Please excuse me while I pat myself on the back for (accidentally) perfectly timing this one with Thanksgiving.

This short book is full of stories from Jason Gay’s life and quick tips for modern life. Nothing life-changing, but enjoyable for a lazy Thanksgiving weekend.

 

PS. You can see all of my book reviews here.

Minimalist Gift Ideas

You can have a joyous, fulfilling, heart-warming Christmas without piles of gifts pilling out from under the tree. There is also nothing inherently wrong with giving someone a physical gift, but most of us have more than we would ever need.

These minimalist gift ideas will help you give a meaningful, clutter-free gift to anyone on your list. They are also great ideas of what to ask for if you would like to avoid receiving physical gifts.

Minimalist Gift Ideas for Everyone

Minimalist Gift Ideas

 

Exercise classes

Give a voucher to their favorite class or a gift card for somewhere new that you think they will love. If they love a bunch of different workouts/studios, you may want to look into something like ClassPass.

 

Hobby gift cards

It can be incredibly difficult to purchase an item that will fit in with your recipient’s hobby and what they already have. Gift cards are a great way to recognize what they love to do and allow them to get something they will really value and use. Great places to consider are art supply stores, yarn shops, cooking stores, local running shop, tech centers, local golf course, or anywhere else that supports a specific hobby. I personally love getting a gift card to my local running store and it supports their small business too.

 

Museum tickets

Take your friend on a museum trip or just purchase a gift card and let them buy tickets for the day that’s best for them. Even your local museum/aquarium/theater should offer a gift certificate.

 

Event tickets

Concerts, sports, movies, shows, the list goes on. You can buy specific tickets, offer a self-made voucher, or give a gift certificate for the location or ticketing company.

 

Babysitting

Or dog sitting as it may be.

 

Favorite food

Cookies just for me? Yes, please. You can also make their favorite meal and freeze it or give a coupon for a fresh batch in the future.

 

Other edibles

A bottle of wine, an assortment of local beers, coffee beans – the list goes on. Bonus, these are easy to tailor to your recipient’s taste and they are easy to buy in bulk.

 

Subscription

Many years ago (before it was cool), my mom gave my grandparents a Netflix subscription. My tech-savvy grandpa loved it. There are so many subscription services today – although I would encourage you to avoid any that send stuff unless it’s quickly consumable like wine. Subscription boxes can quickly add clutter and feel overwhelming.

 

Homemade consumables

Soaps, candles, beauty products, and other homemade consumables are a great way to cover multiple people on your list without adding a ton of clutter. Once they are used up they are gone.

 

Your time

It sounds so cheesy that my face is getting hot just writing it, but some of the best gifts really are spending time with your friend or family member. Take them on a picnic or a hike. Invite them over for tea and snacks. Offer to help with a big task like painting the room that’s driving them crazy or decluttering an overwhelming closet. If you can’t think of anything great, make an open-ended voucher for an afternoon of your time and let your recipient cash it in on whatever they want.

 

No gifts please

When someone specifically asks for no gifts, it’s best to respect their wishes and not get them a gift. But that doesn’t mean you can’t clarify and see if something on this list (like spending the day together or a bottle of their favorite beverage) would still be alright.

You can also ask to not receive gifts without causing a kerfuffle. The best way is to explain why you don’t want any physical gifts this year and offer alternatives (like the list above) to people who are adamant about getting you or your family something. (This article or this forum may help you broach the subject.)

 

Looking for more ideas? Check out these great posts.

Minimalist Gift-Giving from The Minimalists

90 Clutter-free Gifts and 18 Non-Toy Gifts for Children from The Minimalist Mom

21 Minimalist Gift Ideas Under $100 from The Minimalist Vegan

You can read more about my previous minimalist Christmases here.

A Long Weekend in Portland

Portland has been on my list for a while, and when a trip to New Zealand was no longer possible after my ankle surgery, it seemed like a great time to go. My boyfriend and I spent a long weekend in Portland last week and thoroughly enjoyed it. The weather was quintessential fall – clouds and a slight chill in the air. It hardly rained while we were there. I left feeling ready for the holiday season (but not ready for Christmas decorations or music. It’s too soon people! Give Thanksgiving a chance!).

To be clear, this is less of a direct ‘you have to go here!’ and more of a list of the things we did and enjoyed on our long weekend in Portland. We were only able to explore Southwest Portland around the Pearl District. I know there are amazing things in the rest of Portland and outside of the city.

Also, despite spending three days in Portland, I only have four pictures to show for the trip. This is partly to blame on my inability to ever remember to take a photo, but also a conscious decision. It was important to me to really see the city and be present. While we used a phone for directions or restaurant advice, for the most part we didn’t use our phones outside of the hotel room.

highly recommend trying this. Instead of taking photos I journaled daily about all of the things we did and ate so I can look back and remember what we did/saw/experienced.

Long Weekend in Portland - Case Study Coffee SW Portland Mocha

 

Food

The downside of only having a long weekend in Portland is all of the food we weren’t able to eat. Our first dinner in the city was my favorite restaurant meal from the past few years. So good!

We went to the city without any plans (other than a place to stay and a general idea of how to get to our hotel), and we spent our entire time blissfully planning out our day based on where we wanted to eat. My kind of vacation.

Here’s what we ate:

 

Cheryl’s On 12th

Not my favorite. Our flight landed during lunch and it took us a couple hours to get off the plane and to our hotel. I had been dreaming about eating for hours by the time we got into Portland proper, so I wasn’t super picky with our first meal. I just wanted something hot and fast. Cheryl’s was a minute walk from the hotel.

The vegetarian fried rice was alright, but I left dissapointed. I saw something about complementary beignets on Yelp and was under the impression that they came with every meal. Totally not true, totally my misunderstanding. Also, turns out I’m not a fan of “cheesy” hash browns sprinkled with a sprinkling.

 

Imperial

I honestly would have eaten here for every meal. This was our first dinner in Portland, and we got so lucky. We found Imperial on Yelp that afternoon and ended up being able to snag a spot at their dinner service.

The restaurant was packed! They squeezed us in at their chef’s counter facing their open wood fire cooking area. It was hot and the kitchen was busy. It was like watching the Food Network while eating dinner, but way more satisfying. I loved watching the kitchen and seeing what everyone was ordering.

For dinner I had a killer kale salad that puts all tough, boring kale salads to shame. It had a citrusy goat cheese dressing that didn’t taste anything like goat cheese. The salad was topped with sunflower seed brittle (mmm, sugar) and shaved winter veggies. I paired the salad with a coal roasted sweet potato that I slathered in butter and their pepita salsa. It was flavorful, comforting, and filling.

This is killing me. I want to eat it all again.

I also snagged a couple of bites of their buttery, flakey, didn’t-leave-a-single-crumb Parker House Rolls and their house made fettuccine with yam, kabocha squash, brussels sprout leaves, chanterelles, and pepitas. (Do note that the menu changes daily and none of these may be on the menu if you visit).

Imperial had fantastic gluten free and vegetarian options, and they clearly marked everything on their menu. Yes, you should definitely go.

 

The Daily Feast

The Daily Feast is small and cozy with a nice mix of classic and healthy options. Our breakfast was solid, although I’m still craving their oatmeal. I made a last minute decision to go with fried eggs and hash browns instead, and I’m still not sure if it was the right call.

 

Food Carts

I’ve never seen so many food carts in one city. The grilled cheese was calling me, but since I can’t really eat that I went for juicy vegetable tacos. According to Yelp, there are a ton of food carts definitely worth trying.

 

Oven and Shaker

After multiple meals of stuffing our faces, it seemed like it was time for some vegetables. We headed to Oven and Shaker for a glass of red wine and a salad… and pizza. Unfortunately the pizza wasn’t gluten free, but I made up for it with rosemary-parmesan fried chickpeas. Yummy! They were almost as satisfying as fries.

Unfortunately my salad was disappointing – super salty and otherwise bland. Rumor has it the pizza was good.

 

Byways Cafe

A table of locals brought their own hot sauce and shared it. This place felt far from touristy. Byways serves classic breakfast and lunch food. It felt like a diner without the shitty menu and soggy potatoes. It’s worth the wait.

 

Pine Street Market

I panicked that there wouldn’t be anything for me to eat at the market and picked up a salad at a local salad chain on the way. Major regrets. I got to choose what was in my salad, but it was so under-dressed that it was a crime. Nothing will make you feel like a cow quite like eating a dry kale salad. Yum.

I had major ramen envy. And the glutenous pita bread was like tasty pillows for your mouth.

Before you feel too sorry for me, you should know that I had a mind-numbingly delicious, non-dairy strawberry soft serve. Oh man it was good. I also got the best of both worlds with a few bites of their vanilla soft serve covered in their homemade hard-shell chocolate sauce. (*insert homer noises here*) I’ll eat a dry kale salad every day if you give me a cup of soft serve from Wizbangbar. (Don’t click on that unless you are going to go there or you’ll end up depressed with a top-notch soft-serve craving. Trust me, it just happened to me.)

 

Bamboo

It’s a tough call between Imperial and Bamboo. This was my first time ordering sushi at a restaurant (hey, tempura is amazing). While I enjoyed the sushi, it was the rest of the meal that I really loved.

Their twist on a French 75 is possibly even better than the classic. I wanted to sip on one all night despite the fact that half a glass in I was feeling it. 

I’m still craving the sweet and sour cauliflower. I can’t tell you the last time I had sweet and sour. There was no frightening red sauce anywhere to be seen, and the flavor was impeccable. Deep, acidic, lightly sweet – I could have eaten them all night.

Also, major bonus points for being incredibly sustainable.

 

Final Breakfast

Our last breakfast was so bad I’m not going to include it. My steel cut oats were watery and tasted strongly of soap. This is why I ended up eating leftover sushi at the airport at 9 a.m. The restaurant we went to had okay reviews online, but it was the only place open on the way to the light rail station. It turns out most places aren’t open at 7 a.m. on a Sunday. Life lessons.

 

Coffee:

Case Study Coffee

You cannot go to Portland and not get coffee… or maybe you can. I might have done it.

Case Study Coffee’s homemade chai tea was spicy and creamy without being painfully sweet. I could happily drink it daily. I’m heavily considering emailing them for the recipe.

The space was perfect for hanging out and slowly sipping a hot drink. We went here twice (I got regular tea the second time), and both times we spent at least an hour writing and reading. The staff was ridiculously, genuinely nice and easy-going, and the space was both gorgeous and comfortable.

I’m so jealous this coffee shop isn’t in my neighborhood.

 

Stumptown

This is on the list so no one yells at me. We shamelessly went to the one in the airport. I heard that their drip is good, although I can’t taste anything for the next week after scalding myself on their chai latte (made with actual tea! Hallelujah!).

I think it was good? I’ll let you know my ultimate decision when the nickel-sized heat blister on the roof of my mouth finally heals. Seriously.

 

Things to Do:

There are so many things to do in Portland and it can be difficult to fit them all, especially if you are only visiting for a long weekend.

We didn’t really sight see or do any outdoor adventures. We were honestly lucky I was able to walk around at all. (We’ve been home for days and my ankle/feet are still punishing me for the amount of walking and standing we did.) For the most part we tried to keep each trip under .5 mile of walking, and we walked everywhere.

 

Powell’s Books

I 100 percent picked our neighborhood and our hotel based on its proximity to Powell’s. Our hotel room looked out on the sign for the famous bookstore. This was the only thing I wanted to do in Portland.

This place is stuffed with millions of books, and it felt like just as many people. Our first 15 minutes in the store were completely overwhelming. I almost asked to leave. But once we got out of the main entrance area and into the actual shelves the crowds thinned out and I was only overwhelmed by the amount of books.

Long Weekend in Portland - Powell's Books

The multiple floors were crammed with high shelves and more books than I have ever seen in one place. Powell’s is easily a book lover’s dream, although I had trouble figuring out their categories and as someone with decision problems, it was anxiety-inducing.

If I were to go again and I wanted to buy a book, I would go in with a few titles in mind and look them up on their handy computers. It would be a much more relaxing experience than trying to see every title in their literature and memoir section.

 

Ground Kontrol Arcade

This was my first time to an arcade that wasn’t attached to a pizza parlor. We went during the day before the bar was open so it was a nice mix of adults and kids. About half of the space is full of pinball machines and the rest is classic (and a couple new) arcade games. True to form, Tetris was my favorite.

 

Eat

A lot. Eating was our main activity. You should also definitely consider going to breweries if you visit. I’ve heard good things.

 

Transportation:

We took the light rail to and from the airport and walked everywhere else. It was great! Although I didn’t love clomping around Portland in the boot. Maybe don’t go until you are fully recovered from ankle surgery. It might make things easier.

 

Accommodations:

We originally looked into staying at an Airbnb, but there were so few listings left that we decided to go for a hotel in a great area for the same price.

Long Weekend in Portland - Ace Hotel Portland

The Ace Hotel felt a bit like staying at your hipster friend’s house. The decor is minimal but stylish. The design is somehow old school and modern. There are weird quirks (the glass shower enclosure was in the room proper. Highly entertaining.) and touches of home. Also, there may be scents of pot wafting through the halls and a live band in the lobby.

Long Weekend in Portland - Ace Hotel Portland

Overall we really enjoyed our stay. The Ace is in a great location, the staff was incredibly friendly, and the room made a good home base for an easily tired traveler. The bed and the pillows were not as comfortable as I had hoped and I wish the room had been darker, but I’m spoiled at home. The sleeping comfort is on par with most hotels I’ve stayed in.

 

Have you ever been to Portland? Where did you go?