Wednesday, September 30, 2009

boston meet-up

it's been a while since i've tortured you all with doggie pictures of my little lulu so i thought i'd write about her today. i'm so excited i've found a boston terrier meet-up group that i have signed up for and the first meet-up is this sunday, october 4th, at hondo park at 229th avenue in hillsboro. so, if you are a crazy boston lover like i am, check out the boston terrier meet-up group. i can't wait for lulu to make some more friends!

besides, how can you not love this little face?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

penner ash

the vats at penner ash winery

after our amazing tour of the allison on sunday, we felt that we needed to visit one more winery and megan suggested penner ash. her thoughts were that since we had a guest from out of town with us, it would be nice to sit outside with a glass of wine and enjoy the afternoon and their space can accommodate this.

so we headed up the hill to the penner ash winery and not only is the drive amazing but once you are there, the view is one of the best in the valley. we each had a wine flight of their daily offerings which they have priced at a mere $5, and then we ordered a glass of syrah to enjoy out on the patio. after sitting and relaxing, we each made our purchases before heading out. i chose the delicious viognier which had the most amazing floral bouquet and then i bought two of their logo glasses because i loved the lavender sprigs etched on them. my fellow wine tasters went for the syrah which was delicious as well.

they have several little gardens on the grounds. here were the tomatoes and nasturtium.

if you haven't visited penner ash, stop in next time you are in wine country. their tasting room is open wednesday through sunday from 11-5 and there are also tours offered on saturday at 10am and sunday at 11am.

and here's another tip for you, you are welcome to bring in your own food so there were several people out on the patio with cheese, crackers and salami. how cool is that!

what a beautiful view looking down into the valley.

penner ash is in newberg at 15771 ne ribbon ridge road 503.554.5545

Monday, September 28, 2009

allison, you're killing me

the allison hotel newberg

sometimes it pays to have friends in the right places and that was the case yesterday when i was invited by my friend in the hotel industry to take a personal tour of the brand spanking new allison hotel that just opened on friday in the heart of the willamette valley wine country.

this hotel and spa resort has been in the works for quite a while and let me tell you, there were no holds barred. they really went all out on this place. the austin family that owns the hotel are from the newberg area and have made their fortune in dental equipment. they have long been contributers to the library, schools and arts of the willamette valley and now they have truly made their mark with this grand hotel. you can see their love of the valley and this hotel in every corner--from the artwork that they commissioned that includes paintings of old family snapshots to the placement of rooms looking out to views that include the old school house that family members had attended as children. not to mention amazing views of the valley as well as their grove and vineyard.

while this 85 room hotel seems placed out in the middle of nowhere, as we all know, it's just a matter of time before the rest of the world discovers what amazing wines we have coming out of the area and will want to come and visit for themselves. i think they are really on to something and i think many more places like this (well maybe not on this scale)will be opening in the future.

come on, let's take the tour!

the dining room of jory, the hotel's restaurant

dining room details

amuse bouche and champagne

the chef's table

the hotel's living room

the queen room

the living room area of the queen room

the double queen room

and it's living room area

the water feature in the entrance to the spa/salon area

the amazing swimming pool with mud art at one end that depicts millions of years of terrain in the valley.

the outdoor sitting area off the pool

the view towards the vineyard and groves

so what do you think? ready to ditch work and head out there right now? and while the rooms are a little spendy starting at around $285 per night, locals shouldn't be discouraged from taking the short drive out just to enjoy the restaurant or bar. designate a driver, start at the jory for luch and then visit a few of the closest wineries. i will definitely be getting a group of friends together for a day trip very soon. thank you, megan for the invitation. i had a wonderful time.

oh, and here's a little tidbit for you. if you book a haircut appointment for just $35.00 in their salon, you can use their swimming pool and hot tub. hello! i'm in on that one.

the allison hotel and jory restaurant are located at 2525 allison lane in newburg and the number is 503.554.2525.

happy wine tasting!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

j'aime la boheme

as a shout out to my loyal reader steve, way the heck over in maine, today's post is about one of his favorite composers, puccini.

a few weeks ago when i posted in my paris in portland post, i mentioned that i did not have such a great time in lucca, italy and he quickly reminded me that lucca is the birthplace of one of the greatest composers of all time, giacomo puccini. i have no idea how i forgot this major detail since the lucchese people LOVE, LOVE, LOVE their puccini connection. when you walk into town, you are greeted by his likeness.

since i did not have a digital camera when i was on my trip, my pictures are not the greatest so i found this one off the lucca 2002 website.

and i'm happy to report that puccini's spirit is here in portland right now with the opera la boheme. i really, really hope that i can make it to the show but tickets are going fast since there are only 3 shows left. i'm going to try to make the one on thursday, the 1st but there is a matinee tomorrow at 2:00 and then another show on saturday the 3rd at 7:30pm. oh i hope i can get tickets. sometimes hawthorne girl procrastinates and this is the result.

well, the least i can do is watch baz luhrman's version on dvd if i can't make it but i'd much rather see it in person!

Friday, September 25, 2009


ok, i know i'm supposed to be posting about my closet project today so i have to admit, i'm a little behind. we had an unexpected visitor this week so i didn't get as much done as i would have liked but i have it all worked out in my mind, now i just need to execute it.

since we had company, though, it was a great time showing him around to some of my favorite portland places. the last morning before he left, we went to "brekky" (as he calls it) at gravy. i hadn't been here for a while so i was looking forward to it.

i had the two eggs with veggie sausage and i could not believe the size of my meal. it was delish but it was hard to go to work afterwards because i really needed a little nap. miles had the oatmeal brulee with berries and it looked really good. i need to try that one next time.

gravy is over in my next favorite neighborhood at 3957 n. mississippi 503.287.8800

then i sent miles back on the road. he took the historic columbia river gorge highway and then planned on crossing over at stevenson and heading to lewiston, idaho. his final destination is cody, wyoming.

thanks for a fantastic visit miles, and have a great ride to wyoming. we'll catch you sometime in cali!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

another roadside attraction

the entrance to the roadside attraction

the patio is usually packed on warm evenings

i loved this big chinese arch

we sat in the new back room. isn't the decor great? i like the brothel look.

i have a friend in town visiting from the bay area and we were trying to figure out a place to have dinner last night and lorenzo suggested roadside attraction. i thought this was such a great idea because it is a place an out of towner would never find on their own, hidden behind a big wooden fence. so we walked down and chatted over drinks before ordering off of their grill menu. the food was simple but really good but i think the main "attraction" is the funky decor--it's very bohemian brothel on the inside and route 66 on the outside. since my friend is on a motorcycle trip headed to wyoming, i loved the highway theme.
1000 se 12th ave.

so if you want to check out something truly portland funky, head over to the roadside attraction for dinner and then cross the street and have desert and another portland hidden gem, rimsky's korsakoffee house. while we didn't stop in there last night, it would have been a perfect finish--from one hidden restaurant to another. i love that the koffeehouse doesn't have any signage outside. it's like a locals only secret that now you know about!
707 se 12th ave.

this is all you see when entering the koffeehouse. i was nervous i was just walking into someone's house on my first visit.

Monday, September 21, 2009

love ned ludd

the foyer decor

the heart of the restaurant

i had one of the best dining experiences that i have had in a really long time last week at the newish restaurant, ned ludd. i had driven by the restaurant out on mlk a few times and wondered what it was all about so i was excited when my friend told me that is where we would be dining for his birthday.

we were able to make reservations for the group, which sometimes can be difficult in portland as many restaurants do not take reservations. what's more surprising is that i was the first in the group to arrive and they actually let me sit at the table until the rest of the group got there. immediately i was helped by our very friendly server. i asked to order some olives for the group and she encouraged me to try the pickle platter instead. so the pickles arrived and she told me what kind they all were and wow, let me tell you, they were really good. i'm glad she coaxed me to try something unusual. the entire table was impressed by the pickles--each vegetable had its own distinct flavor.

from here we went straight in to salads and entrees. everything on the menu sounded so good it was hard to choose but i went for the hen's leg with mashed potatoes for dinner and a baby leaf lettuce and duck salad. both of my choices were incredible, especially the hen's leg. other diners at the table had pork chops, trout and roasted vegetables along with an assortment of salads and everyone was very happy with their choices.

the pork chop

the hen's leg

the concept of this restaurant is that they do not use machines to prepare the foods so everything is either grilled or cooked in a wood oven. i'm sure there is much more information about this on their website but i was too busy enjoying my food and company to ask about it. i do know that ned ludd was a man who lost his job at a mill and was replaced by a machine. he was so angry about the fact that people were losing their jobs to machines that he took a sledge hammer to said machine, smashing it to pieces and resulting in a labor movement as a result. there is a wonderful mural of this story in the back of the restaurant but as i was quickly losing light, did not get a shot of it. besides, you really should go and see it for yourself.

and i can't forget to mention the decor. it was so, so cool. i could not stop turning and looking at everything. the other diners probably thought i was casing down the joint but i really just love this style of decor--industrial and open but pretty and romantic at the same time.

the corner of the bar, i loved the barrels on top of the loft area.

the little bar. yes, that's my flash!

this pretty much sums up the decor--the contrast of rustic with romantic.

so i urge you to get to ned ludd and check it out. from beginning to end it was a great experience, and i must reiterate that the service all around was fabulous. i can't wait to get back there as soon as possible. it is a smaller restaurant and i'm not sure if they take reservations for smaller parties but i suggest you call ahead and check. they also have a patio if it's nice out and a small bar area but it was full the entire time that we were there. it's located a little ways out at 3925 ne mlk, jr blvd and they do have some parking on the south side of the restaurant. 503.288.6900

bon appetit!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

give me hope

i'm taking a break from my closet reconstruction and listening to some new music by hope sandoval, the lead singer of mazzy star. i had forgotten how much i missed mazzy star until i started listening to hope again.

i think mazzy star was gaining the height of their popularity my last few years of college and i can remember my best friend and i listening to her voice late into the night, drinking red wine and smoking cigarettes. the angst in her voice and lyrics was exactly how we were feeling at the time. young, unsure of what we were going to do with our lives, pining away over this guy or that one. mazzy star, and mainly hope, spoke the language of my generation.

i went to see mazzy star at this great old theater in albuquerque called the el rey. i think it was the last date my college boyfriend and i went on and we both knew at the time that our lives were moving in different directions. i remember not being especially sad about this and contrary to what you may think because of her style of music, i actually felt very free and happy and ready for my next phase in life. i stood there in my pink dress with a glass of wine i knew i was going to be ok. i think the strength in her lyrics really stand out even though her music could come off as sad or depressing. i'll never forget at one point in the show, some people were talking and she asked them very politely to shut the f** up because she could not hear herself or the music. i liked her ballsyness!

so i'm excited about her show monday night at the doug fir at 9 pm with her new band the warm inventions. i have a feeling that her new band will not disappoint you. just don't talk while she's playing.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

rockmount my world

sometimes i'm lucky enough to have experiences in my life that i'm not even sure of why i'm worthy. one such experience occurred last week while i was in denver.

i know you are all well aware of the fact that i grew up in the great southwest. it's a fact that while i was living there i did not appreciate nearly as much as i do now that i can look back on it in retrospect.

when i was growing up, all of the men in my family wore the western style snap front shirts that have recently made their way back up the fashion ladder. and even though i am not so much into the western style of dress, i've always had an appreciation for it because that is the way cowboys dressed up and expressed their sense of style, for which i'm all about.

my grandfather was dressed in such a manner when we laid him to rest and most of the other male guests were dressed in this style and i was wearing my finest cowboy boots that i had purchased specially for the occassion.

my point is that an appreciation for western wear is not lost on me even though i don't often put on my annie oakley gear any more.

oh yeah, back to denver...

i met the owner of rockmount western wear while i was in town and i was so surprised by how excited i was to have met him and to visit his old historic store in downtown denver. if you're not familiar with rockmount, it is the oldest western style shirt still in production and the first to be designed with the snap front detail. there is even an original in the smithsonian collection in washington d.c.

rockmount is in it's third generation, now being run by steve weil, who's grandfather started the company in the forties and just passed away last year at the age of 107. steve's father also passed away last year, leaving him at the reigns of the ever growing business and taking over the main design work as well. i was surprised to learn that a company this old is run so small and that steve is a very hands on person. if you email the company's website, you most likely will get a response from steve, directly. that is so cool!

and, as unassuming as steve is, i could tell that he was very excited about the celebrities that embrace their designs including bob dylan, eric clapton, the pretenders, mark chesnutt, heath ledger and jake gyllenhall (in brokeback mountain) and the white stripes.

so, if you are ever in denver, i highly recommend a visit to the historic rockmount western wear store. it's a store and museum all in one and very cool to boot (no pun intended)!
1626 wazee st 303.629.7777

and i can't forget to mention our dinner after visiting the store at tamayo. this is a modern mexican restaurant with a heavy spanish influence. when we talked about going there, someone mentioned that their portions were not very large. umm, not true! i thought that for a tapas style restaurant, they had really great portions and i couldn't even finish everything. i started with the halibut ceviche and then had an amazing chile relleno for dinner and it was more than enough. although, that could have been due to the fact that i had a ton of their yummy guacamole to start out with. you can find tamayo at 1409 larimer 720.946.1433

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

my closet and me

this is how my closet looked a month ago when i posted about it in this post.

i think i've regressed since then because everything seems to have worked it's way out of the closet!

do you remember a while back when i posted about the state of my closet? i said that if there was one thing i did not heart, it's my closet situation. i did not inherit any kind of martha stewarty organizational skills in my life at home even though i'm pretty organized at work. well, although i still haven't made much progress in my closet, i'm super excited about fall and i figure this is the best time to get the darn thing organized starting tonight. so here's the plan:

1. i'm going to go home and turn on some great new music by a fine frenzy. doesn't this album cover remind you of old jane birkin photos? i thought this choice was appropriate due to the frenzy that my clothes are in.

2. i'm going to go through all of my clothing and pull out anything i do not wear or love any longer to make room for new things that i do love.

3. i'm going to take everything out of my closet that is not directly related to getting dressed, like sheets and bedding. they can go in another closet.

4. i'm going to pull out the items that i have in other closets that could go in my clothing closet like my coats and jackets so i'll have everything together.

5. i'm going to make a list of any shelves, hooks, etc. that i will need to display my clothing and accessories so i can see them better.

6. i'll make a run to ikea for above items.

7. i'm going to pick out paint and wallpaper to go into the closet to make it pretty.

8. i'm giving myself one week to get it all put together so expect a report back from me by next weekend.

i'm so excited about fall and my new fall clothes and i really want to start out this new season as organized as possible. since this becomes a very busy time of year for me, i really want to start off on the right foot so i can manage my time better.

i still really really want it to look something like this.

what are some of your fall resolutions? is there anything you do to start off the "school year"?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

i missed you pdx

hi everyone! after a whirl-wind tour of denver, i'm back home in my lovely portland. i must say, though, that denver was fabulous--the weather, the company, the food, the sights, the shopping...whew, i'm tired.

i apologize for such a short post but i wanted to keep my promise that i would be back today. however, it's tamale night tonight and lorenzo is hard at work so i want to get back to help him out (and eat some tamales). so here are two of my favorites from my trip to denver and i'll be back tomorrow with a little more.

the lights of larimer square downtown were so pretty. it was raining the night i took this so it's a little blurry but i still thought this looked cool.

we went to dinner at this great french restaurant called z cuisine. it was really cute, the food was great, the service was great and i had one of the best glasses of syrah i've ever had.

this was our server and hostess. they were the cutest, sweetest things. the hostess was very pregnant and wearing black chuck taylors. how cute is that!

this was the view into the kitchen from our table.

and this is what came out of the kitchen to our table. ooh la la! it was good. i loved the salade gourmande and the steak frites but really, everything was great.

so if you are in the denver area, check out z cuisiine. it was a really great experience and thank you brooke for taking us there. it's in the cute neighborhood lower highland (i think) at 2239 w 30th ave 303.477.1111

Thursday, September 10, 2009

ciao for now

i'm heading to denver for a business trip and i won't have my computer with me so i can't post until i get back. but when i'm back, i'll share some photos of my denver adventures and get back to posting.

i'll miss you and see you back here on tuesday. have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

paris in portland?

several years ago, i was going through a phase, you know--that phase. the one where you question everything in your life and wonder why you are who you are, why you work this job or that one and not the really fabulous one that you think you should be working. or why can't you be more intelligent, beautiful, successful and all of those other self-doubts that we are so good at focusing on rather than the fact that maybe your life is really just where you might want it to be.

i had been preparing for my upcoming trip to france and italy. i had been studying both languages religiously because i didn't possibly want to be seen as an ignorant american traveler. i had researched exactly where i wanted to go and whom and what i wanted to see. i quit my job, the one i had found after i graduated from interior design school and was a perfect fit for me. i just wasn't ready to accept that this may be it, that at 34 years old, i had reached my biggest goal so far and it just simply wasn't enough. so i had set other, bigger goals like becoming fluent in five languages. no, one other language wouldn't be enough i needed to know FIVE. now i look back and think how silly (not to mention exhausting with all of that conjugating).

i fell in love with florence and venice and in retrospect, should have stayed longer in florence rather than heading on to lucca. lucca was a small town and while it was a great place to learn italian because not many people spoke english, i never felt connected with it. perhaps that is because my first night there, i got lost and it started to rain and get dark and no one would help me until after several hours, i met a nice man who spoke english that helped me find my host family. so i completed my program there and took the first train out to nice early the next morning.

when i arrived in france, i felt like a weight had been lifted. i don't know why but i felt an immediate connection with france and was happy the minute i walked off the train. i stayed in nice a few days and went on some really great day trips from there before heading north to paris. on the train to paris, i met a girl named sophie who was a little younger than i and lived in avignon and commuted to paris every monday morning where she would stay the week and then head back to avignon for the weekend to be with her boyfriend and family. sophie was very sweet to me even though my being in the wrong train seat caused her laptop to get coffee spilled on it in all of the commotion (i swear i was in the right seat, the crazy car number was wrong). sophie and i hit it off and she really helped me out when i arrived to paris with no clue where to go (thank you sophie, wherever you are). i got off the train in montparnasse in the rain and instantly knew that i was in love with paris.

one of my first views was this one from the top of montmartre (photo by landscape photo)

my time in paris was amazing, i loved everything about it (except that i was alone and couldn't share it with anyone) but after a few days, i headed to brittany to visit a friend. i remember like it was yesterday, sitting on that train and asking god to help me find a way to stay in france because the one place i thought i would rather be than portland was paris. and you know what, be careful what you ask for! i found myself being invited to stay in france indefinitely (granted it was not paris) and when faced with the choice to leave portland, i couldn't do it. it's not easy to leave a place you know and love, not to mention the language barrier which in spite of my studies, i was far from being fluent. i felt like an idiot and cursed myself for not taking french more seriously all of those years i studied it in school. so when i was scheduled to leave france, i happily boarded that plane to come home, to mount hood and portland and my old job that had hired me back freelance for a temporary job.

and this is when i knew i truly did love portland. but i still think of paris, a lot. and some day i will go back but for now, i find my own little piece of paris all over portland. and sometimes my life is just like one of those french films i love to watch. and you know what? now i have some one to take to paris with me, and i found him right here in portland. xoxo lorenzo. and i still can't speak five languages but i'm ok with that!

these are some of my frenchie portland favorites.

you already know how much time i spend here.

cinema 21 (photo by zazzle)
i watch a lot of french films at this theatre and guess what, now they serve beer and wine. yippee! i loved this photo of the marquee featuring "ballet russes". i thought it was appropriate since picasso and jean cockteau both worked with the ballet russes.

you can't get more quintessentially portland and paris than down the street from cinema 21 at le happy. i mean this is a creperie that has a special that includes a pabst blue ribbon. how portland is that!

then i can cruise back over to the eastside for some chicken liver mousse at bar avignon...

...followed by some fab macarons at pix on division.
photo by cake and commerce

photo by m portland real estate

there is also a true french crepe cart right down the street from my house. this is a much shorter trip than going all the way to montmartre.

and this blog and book series transport me back to paris wherever i happen to be.

after i returned to portland, i found the website, french-word-a-day that not only helps me with my studies but features amazing photos of france.

i also found the aimee leduc series by cara black which features a different paris quarter in each installment. it literally walks you through the different paris neighborhoods while solving a murder.

is there any place you love to visit? what are the places you have found in portland that remind you of this place? i would love to hear about some of your escapes.