Sunday, February 22, 2015

Portland City Walks #3: Fernhill Park to Alberta Street

For my second week of walking, I was joined by a buddy, the fearless other Meghan from up north!
We wanted a walk with some quirky activites included, so we chose #3, which ends at a McMenamins complete with pub and soaking pool!
NOTE: we brought swim suits per the guidebook recommendations but completely forgot to bring towels.  So no soak for the Meghans.
 We parked by the final stop of the walk instead of the first.  This actually took us a bit out of the way but brought us through a lovely park (one of several on this walk), so we didn't mind.
Some of the lovely houses we passed:
One street seemed to require artsy sculptures in each front yard:

Apparently all my favorites are deep chalk blue with a porch: 

We eventually came from neighborhoods into restaurants and shops, and I realized we were right in front of one of my favorite Portland bars, La Taq!

I love the way Laura Foster lays out these walks - almost every one I've taken so far includes food options (and bathrooms) near the mid-point of the trek.  We were lucky to find a teashop Meghan had been eyeing where we could get warm, grab fancy drinks off a menu a mile long, and use the facilities.
 The line was long but the service was great and the tea options were practically endless.  Check out Townshends any time you are in Portland!

Other highlights - we finally learned what a brace board is and were exceedingly proud of ourselves - and now I see them everywhere.


Our walk took us back through some remaining homes and finally to our end destination, McMenamins Kennedy School.  After toodling around the various halls and scoping out the pool and the bars, we decided to have dinner at the pub.  This was delicious and mostly made up for our chagrin at missing our expected soak.

Safety on this walk was excellent.  I could have done it without a buddy (although it would not have been as fun).

Navigation was easier than my first walk as no areas had been updated enough to alter landmarks.

The Fernhill Park to Alberta Street Loop is a really excellent snapshot of Portland: beautiful trees, a wide range of home styles, and great restaurant options in only about 4.5 miles.

Next up?  Rain, chocolate, and a cemetery.
Feel the need to take some walks of your own?  If you can't make it to Powell's to purchase in person, buy Laura's book on Amazon!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Portland City Walks #11: South Portland to South Waterfront Park

While on one of my frequent visits to the Sellwood library, I stumbled across this gem in the new/recommended section:
Portland City Walks, by Laura O. Foster

I checked it out, and upon perusal at home, discovered that one of the walks began only a mile away from our apartment.  Since Jared spends most of his weekends studying, this seemed like a great way for me to get outside and learn more about my favorite city while enjoying my currently plentiful alone time.
I filled my water bottle, grabbed a few snacks, slathered on some sunscreen, and headed out.  (Comfortable walking shoes and quick-drying workout clothes are highly recommended, particularly if you are talking one of the walks on a warm or wet day.) 
The walk begins right near SW Corbett Ave, and the guidebook provides not only the map, but historical detail about the area as you pass through it.  Certain homes or landmarks are mentioned specifically, either for architectural or historical significance - or both. 
The walk covered some beautiful homes in the Corbett neighborhood, then took me along the Nike track at x park (which was made from Nike-donated shoes), into the south part of downtown for some city "parks" (to me, sculptures and fountains do not a park make), to the waterfront river trail, and back around to Corbett.

I learned a lot about German and Italian immigrants to the area, and started recognizing terms like "Italianate" and "Queen Anne."  The book includes a great glossary of architectural terms.

None of the areas seemed sketchy.  I completed this walk on a Sunday afternoon in the sunshine, with a fairly high level of surrounding pedestrian and vehicle traffic.   I ended up crossing Barbur Blvd towards the beginning of the walk (safely, on a pedestrian bridge overpass) and again towards the end of the walk (a heart-stopping, cross-walk-absent race to the other side when traffic cleared).
The walk itself covered 3.25 miles.  For me, it took several hours.  In part this was due to the extra mile tacked on at the beginning and end of the walk since I thought it was silly to drive to the starting point.  I also didn't realize how much taking pictures and enjoying the sights would slow my regular walking clip.  Definitely plan for at least 1.5 times as long as the distance would take you for a brisk, non-sight-seeing walk.
I got a bit turned around twice on this walk.  Once was due to talking on the phone with my brother and not paying attention.  The second time was due to the ongoing changes of buildings and streets down near the South Waterfront area.  Some of the landmarks were different or simply gone.  I found my way again quickly, and otherwise considered the map and cues to be very helpful and easy to follow.  (I get lost a lot, so if I can do this, anyone can.)
I brought my own water and snacks along, but there is an excellent coffee shop called Bean & Tree along the waterfront trail which I highly recommend.  Public restrooms are available just a bit further down the trail and are generally kept tidy.
All in all, I had such a wonderful time that I decided to buy the book and return the library's copy.  I've now gone on 4 walks in 4 weeks (details to come on walks 3, 6, and 10), and so far each has been informative and delightful. 
As an enamored Portlandian who is always looking for a project that can be best laid out in spreadsheet form, I decided I should try to do 20 walks in 20 weeks.  It turns out this will carry me almost completely through Jared's board study period, with about 1 week of wiggle room.
Excited to see where my little feet will take me next!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Love List (Fall 2013)

Some things I've been a little obsessed with lately...
The October issue of Real Simple:
It's got tons of awesome recipes, including 10 different ways to use butternut squash!
Pumpkin candles, pumpkin tea, pumpkin beer, pumpkin coffee, pumpkin butter...oh, yeah, and pumpkins.
The Isabel Dalhousie books:
I'm just finishing the fourth in the series and adore them. Perfect reading for rainy days.
 If crosswords and Sudoku got together, their offspring would be the mighty codeword puzzle. I found a book of these at Barnes & Noble and am now totally addicted.
This free site offers videos for all levels of practice. It also allows you to search by length of video (20 minutes or less, 20-40 minutes, 40-60, etc.), or by type of yoga. I love the hamstrings, neck & shoulder, yin yoga, and post-run videos. Great way to fight off tension headaches!
My "blanket" wrap:
I bought this at a local used clothing boutique. Jared calls it my Native American blanket. It's so comfy, and I love the pattern.
Vintage Pink:
 Holy smokes...this store is dangerous. I found a white rolling cart for our kitchen, a blue lamp for the living room, and a gnome for the front yard. It's on the east side of Portland - good thing it isn't closer or I would probably go broke.
Saw this with a girlfriend over the weekend, and it was adorable! Great for Pride & Prejudice fanatics and casual moviegoers alike.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Grilling is for Girls: REAL SIMPLE Beef, Bacon, and Egg Burgers

Last night signaled the end of my grilling challenge! Every week Jared's been in medical school, I made a different burger from Real Simple's June article "Top This." It was a really fun adventure for me; at the beginning I needed some help from Jared in lighting the grill, but pretty soon I was confident enough to do things all alone. Yesterday I got the grill to start on my first try.
The final burger was total comfort food - like a breakfast sandwich, but even better. I went with whole wheat English muffins, and an heirloom tomato from a local farmer's market.
Maybe it's just because I'm getting better, (or maybe the prep time is one of the shortest listed), but this took me less than 30 minutes from lighting the grill to sitting down at the table. It also had the simplest steps (I thought) and simplest ingredients.
After lighting the grill, I chopped up the bacon into fairly large chunks and mixed it with the ground beef and ground black pepper.  I formed patties, which looked pretty large, especially considering I had bought a little over a pound of beef instead of 1.25 pounds.
Once these were on the grill, I used the first four minutes to do some dishes.  I flipped the burgers, and then started on the English muffins, eggs, and tomato.
I cooked Jared's two eggs a little longer than my egg since he doesn't like super runny yolks.  I toasted the muffins in our little toaster instead of grilling them.  (Our grill is pretty small so there isn't much spare room.)
I took three slices off the tomato for myself.  Jared is not a fan of tomatoes, so I get the heirloom all to myself!
The burgers were done in about nine minutes total.  The last step was simply to put everything together.
For mine, I put the tomato on top of the bottom half of the muffin, added the burger, then the egg, and topped with the rest of the "bun."
These were incredible - and so filling!  Usually Jared has eaten two burgers every week (one night he even ate three) and this time he could only finish one.
I would say my favorite burgers of the whole challenge were these "breakfast" burgers, and the Salmon-Scallion Burgers. But all the recipes were definitely worth trying, and now I have a new skill under my belt.
Can't wait till next summer - I'll be grilling everything in sight.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Grilling is for Girls: REAL SIMPLE Mushroom Burgers with Fontina and Cornichon Relish

Tonight marks the end of my summer grilling challenge! Here's my recap of last week's grill: the Mushroom Burger.
We've tried portabella mushrooms before, and, try as we might, neither of us can bring ourselves to like mushrooms. For this recipe, I decided to substitute regular old ground beef for the patty.
I couldn't find ciabatta rolls at Trader Joe's, so I got this incredible ciabatta loaf instead. I also had to look up cornichons online - I had no idea they were basically mini pickles.
I set out all the ingredients and started heating the grill.  This time I wish I would have made the relish before putting the patties together because the grill time for the beef was so short.
I got it all worked out and toasted the bread in my normal toaster to save time while the burgers were grilling.  This one was pretty simple compared to some of the other recipes.  I just had to put the cheese, relish, lettuce, and burger patty together on the ciabatta!
These were so delicious. The relish was fun and the burgers were juicy.  The toasted bread was just perfect, especially since I got to cut it to the size I wanted.  (Sometimes there is just too much bun, you know?)
I served the burgers with our new favorite beer, Swill, from 10 Barrel Brewing Co. in Bend.
So yummy!
Tonight we grill the final burger!  I've been saving the Beef, Bacon, and Egg Burger for last.  And we have finally gotten some fall weather here in Portland, so it will be the perfect comfort food.  I'll let you know how they turn out.
In case you missed my other burger adventures, here they are!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Murder Monday: Isabel Dalhousie, Hannah Swensen, & Powell's City of Books

I can't believe that in all my visits to Portland, I'd never done an exclusive post about Powell's City of Books!  Well, last weekend, I finally got a chance to take some photos, so now I can share with you one of my favorite places in the whole wide world.
I took Jared's bike to the shop on Saturday, which put me downtown with some time to kill.
I've been making great use of the Multnomah County Library System, but had only indulged in one trip to Powell's since we moved in August. I figured there was basically no better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than poking around amongst the shelves!
My first stop was the magazine section, to the right when you walk in the front doors. I have a subscription to Real Simple, but my experience with subscription sign-ups is that they take several months to get rolling, so I bought this month's issue to tide me over.  (Side note - my subscription copy arrived in the mail this week.  Oops on me, but yay for Real Simple!)
I saw a book that reminded me of my dad...
...and another that reminded me of some dear family friends who introduced us to "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah."
I love how the whole store is organized by "room" and there are signs everywhere telling you which room to go to for the books you want.
I actually had more than browsing on my plate.  Jared needed an anatomy coloring book for school, so I went to find him the latest edition. 
Then I toodled over to my very favorite section in the store - the mysteries!!!
They have my all-time favorite, Agatha Christie:
As well as two new (to me) authors.  I'll start with Joanne Fluke.
I picked up "Fudge Cupcake Murder" in the library a few weeks ago, because the title sounded fun and the cover was adorable.  (Not sure if this is my dad's criteria, but he's the man who taught me about "spine trolling," so I owe him a nod.)  I mean, a baker who solves mysteries and gives treat recipes every other chapter?
Well, I was pretty disappointed.  Honestly, I only finished the book so that I could write this little review.  The language and sexual content were all very mild, but as I told Jared, "Usually I can't finish books because they're too graphic.  This one just isn't very good...but it says 'Best-Selling Author'!!!"
I felt like it could've been a great novel if someone had edited out about a third of the book.  The characters and the Minnesota town were endearing and fun, and of course the baking in conjunction with crime-solving was a great little twist.  But the author seemed like she had never heard the phrase, "Show, don't tell."  We got Hannah Swensen's daily life and thought process in painstaking detail. 
My biggest frustration with this book was the sheer wordiness of it.  I felt like it was repetitive, saying the same thing over and over again, redundant, and over-emphasizing every point in case you didn't get it the first time.  (See what I mean?)
However, I must say that the actual solving of the murder, along with the red-herrings and revelation of the villain, was well-done and interesting.  If you love baking and don't mind verbosity, these could be an enjoyable series.
And now, the fun part: my new favorite mystery writer, Alexander McCall Smith!
My mother-in-law told me about his No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, but when I couldn't find the first book at the library, I picked up his Isabel Dalhousie series and fell absolutely in love.
It takes place in modern-day Scotland, and makes you want to light a fire and snuggle up with a plaid blanket and a cup of tea.  Isabel is the editor of a philosophical journal, and her internal monologues and debates about the ethical implications of everyday life are a treat to read. 
These differ somewhat from the standard mystery novel.  You are treated just as much to Isabel's personal life as you are to her "moral obligations" to others.  Solving the mystery is crucial, but usually takes a surprising turn.
I absolutely recommend these delightful novels...and of course I bought the third in the series: The Right Attitude to Rain.
My haul included a $4 Dombey & Son, my Isabel Dalhousie novel, Amateur Detectives, Jared's coloring book, my magazine, and a handy blue bag for all the loot.
This set me back about $50 - most of the books were used.
If you ever come to Portland, don't miss Powell's City of Books!  Parking can be a bit of a challenge, but any hassle is absolutely worth it.  Set aside a few hours, browse the shelves, checkout, and then spend some time reading and people-watching in their delicious cafĂ©.
And in the meantime, grab a copy of The Sunday Philosophy Club and head to Edinburgh!