Let’s Blow This Popsicle Stand

My wanderlust is kicking in! I haven’t been anywhere in so long. Christmas in Mexico seems so long ago. I’m ready to get out of town!

I think a new trip deserves some retro accessories! I picked some eclectic travel accessories–from bags to pouches, journals to passport covers. There’s even a little first aid kit! Everybody ready to go?

Bags

Travel Accessories

Stay tuned–I do have a tiny road trip planned. Can you say Nashvegas? ;)

Choose My Satchel

I need a little help from all the tasteful ladies out there…and any gents (I love gentlemen. I just don’t really expect them to hang out here.)…it is time for a little luggage upgrade. I want a weekend bag, and my heart is set on a rolling duffel. Nothing too sporty, always classy, something that looks more like a satchel than a sports bag. I’ve picked four that I like, now I need your help. Which should I choose?

Mellow World Carnation in Burgundy

DVF New Hearts Rolling City Bag in red/purple

London Fog Cambridge Rolling Bag in black

Anne Klein Country Club Bowling Duffel

What do you think? Leave me a comment with your favorite, or add one of your own!

Thanks for your help!

Pinterested?

I have an accordion file upstairs in my office/library room filled with magazine pages. See, I have a magazine issue. (Geddit?) I love the beautiful pictures, the glossy pages, the ideas and inspiration that fill every magazine. I would like to keep a copy of every magazine that appeals to me. But that takes up a lot of room and odds are, I won’t ever read the magazine again. I kept a ton of magazines in my old apartment and ended up having to cart them, box by heavy box, down three flights of stairs to the trash. So now I’m on a “current issue only” streamlining kick.

But what about all the pretty pictures? The things I want to buy, just not yet? The inspiration for crafts and projects and home design? That can’t all go in the trash! Thus, the accordion file, filled with pictures of beautiful things. I go through it every now and again, pull out things that I’m over now, put back the things that I want to keep.

The accordion file has just been PWNed, and pwned HARD. Think of all those images, all the pretty things you see on the internet, all the books you want to read, clothes you want to buy, and adorableness you want to put in your pocket and keep forever, and then add social networking. Like a giant bulletin board, Pinterest lets you create and share images. If you like what you see someone else put up, then you can “pin” it on your own “board”. It appeals to both sides of the brain; the creative side which loves a plethora of images and ideas, and the logical side which likes things organized and easy to find. You can “follow” trendsetters or people with tastes that interest and intrigue you and see what they are pinning, you can search for images, or you can be the first one to pin an image. As Pinterest says, it’s a visual catalog of the things you love.

It reminds me somewhat of Tumblr, except less “stream-of-consciousness”. You can take on multiple subjects, but they are all organized into their own boards. I’ve taken the approach that my Pinterest boards are going to be kind of like the mansion of my mind, with different rooms. I’ve got a scintillating group of celebrities inhabiting my dream cocktail party in The Cocktail Lounge, fashion is covered in four boards: In the Dream Dressing Room (for clothes), The Beauty Bar (nails and makeup), Shoe Closet (for shoes, of course), and The Drawer of Finishing Touches (for accessories). Home goods and furniture can be found on a board called House Proud, books are in The Library, and inspiring house, travel, and outdoor scenes are located in Favorite Places and Spaces. Plus, I have a board called Beautiful Things for anything that doesn’t fit into those categories. However, you can organize your boards however you like: by color, theme, by project idea or by the categories that Pinterest suggests when you first set up your account.

Your account can be connected to your Facebook or Twitter accounts, and you have the option of posting or tweeting your pins, as well. But the account itself–well, that’s the tricky part. See, I had to wait for mine. The account is free, but currently Pinterest is in private beta. Which means you can’t just sign up and start pinning. They have to approve you first. But I HAVE GOOD NEWS! *drumroll please*

(All good news should be preceded by Hot Alex, don’t you think?) As part of finally being approved, Pinterest has given me FIVE invitations to others to sign up. No waiting to be approved; if you’re cool by me, you’re cool by them. I feel very exclusive right now. So, lovelies, first five comments on this blog post get the invites! Simple as that!

Let the comments begin!

All images in this post found on Pinterest

New Year’s Resolutions: Travel!

This is the last resolution I’ll be tackling, and my personal favorite.  In the new year, people want to travel more!  I think traveling is the ultimate education.  I love to travel, and I’ve been fortunate enough to go many wonderful places.  But for the traveler, there’s always another destination.  Here are the places I think I would love to go in 2011.

Savannah, Georgia


There’s something so appealing about the dilapidated beauty of the Old South.  Savannah seems to be the epitome of Southern gentility.  It looks like it would be a step back in time, to a more gracious era, with southern belles and gentlemen.  I keep picturing myself in a very Gone With the Wind style hoop skirt in Savannah.  But isn’t that what traveling is all about?  Removing yourself from the ordinary world and living a bit of a fantasy for a while?

The history of Savannah appeals to me.  The old architecture, the drama of the stories, the ghosts of the past make me want to visit Savannah.  I’ll pack my fan to prevent the vapors.

Quebec City, Quebec, Canada


For a winter getaway, I can think of nowhere I’d rather go.  Like a little piece of France in the frozen north, Quebec stands out as a romantic old city with an international flair.  Apparently the walled city has wonderful restaurants and shopping, so you can keep warm on a winter day.  I think it’s the kind of place I’d want to go to walk through the old city in a light snow, looking into windows glowing with light in the twilight.

I really want to go to the Carnaval de Quebec.   With snow sculptures, sled dog races, entertainment and an ice palace, this seems like the ultimate place to drive away the winter blues and just to celebrate the beauty and culture of the Quebec area.

Edinburgh, Scotland

Can you believe that I lived in England for three years and never made it to Scotland?  I went to Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Wales, but never got far enough north.  It definitely makes my life list, because I feel like it’s a travel wish unfulfilled.  Edinburgh, a city on a hill with an ancient fortress, would be my desired destination.  I own a mystery novel by Elizabeth Peters entitled Legend in Green Velvet that’s set in Edinburgh.  This book caught my attention with all its historical details and the descriptions of historical Edinburgh.

Also, after wee drop of Scotch, who wouldn’t want to flirt with a man in a skirt?

Today I booked a flight to Denver to visit my friend The Kitchenette.    Then sometime in the spring or summer I’m off for my first trip to New York City!  Also, my parents are discussing maybe 2011 should be the year of the tropical Christmas, so we’ll see how that pans out.  So those are my travel plans for 2011.  Where are you going this year?  Do you have a dream vacation destination?

Christmas in the Northwest: Powell’s Books

The day after Christmas, I met up with a friend for an evening out in Portland.  We have a traditional evening that we spend: we either go to a brewpub (if we want to eat) or Vault Martini (if we just want to drink and nibble), and then to Powell’s.

First a word about Vault Martini, even though we didn’t go there this time.  They have martinis that go far beyond your traditional gin or vodka with two olives.  Infused vodkas line the walls behind the bar, and the drinks menu is daunting in its size.  Their martinis are cleverly named; they have drinks named after the seven deadly sins and drinks with names like “Agent Orange” “Hot and Dirty” and “Botox”.  Try the Earl Grey martini, with tea-infused vodka, cream, and honey.  My favorite is the Scarlet Orange; with raspberry vodka, blood orange puree, and fresh lime, it is filled with flavor.  You can also get other drinks; my friend L likes the Blueberry Tea, which is a combination of black tea, amaretto, lemon and Grand Marnier, served warm.  Warning: this place is pretty small, and can get crowded.  It can also be a bit of a pick-up spot, but it’s great for people watching.  Get there early and settle in with some nibbly things in the best seats in the house, and stick around for the “scene” to begin.

L and I made our way to the Deschutes Brewery on Sunday night for a real meal.  L is a beer person; I am not.  However, I loved the ambiance of the place, and the excess numbers of “Eco-warrior” types hanging around.  It was plaid, fleece, and beanies as far as the eye could see.

We both had the Sweet & Spicy Baked Mac & Cheese, which is a pasta dish with Tilamook white cheddar and sweet chile cream.  We both agreed that the word “mac” was ill-used here, as the pasta was penne, but we’re picky like that.  It was amazingly tasty, with a little kick to it.  The side salad was delicious, and I had a great fume blanc.  Definitely a good choice for a winter meal.

Then we did the trek through Powell’s.  Powell’s is the best independent bookstore EVER, in my opinion.  I’ve never been anyplace like it.  The main store has over one million books for sale.  It is the largest new & used bookstore in the world.  It is well organized with different colored rooms for different book categories.  We usually spend more time in Powell’s than we did this time; it was broiling in the store on Sunday night, and I was not comfortable.  But we didn’t walk away empty-handed.  I convinced L to buy the entire Hunger Games trio of books in a boxed set; I finally found Jellicoe Road.  We ended up exchanging Christmas gifts–a.k.a. buying each other books that we wanted but were reluctant to buy.  She got me Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal; I got her It’s A Book (which is one of my new favorite books).  I actually bought so many books over this vacation that I’ve had to ship them home to myself, so I have nothing new to read yet.

It wouldn’t be a trip to Portland without a visit to Powell’s. It was crowded in there, too.  My favorite moment of the night was when a store associate came over the intercom looking for any associate who knew the name of a sci-fi book where a primitive society and an advanced society clash.  He described it so thoroughly over this announcement in such a deadpan voice; every single person–shopper and associate–stopped for a moment and thought “have I read a book like that?” L and I both wished we’d known the book.

So, to recap: alcohol, then Powell’s.  One will lower your resistance to the other.  Though I would challenge any reader to go to Powell’s and leave empty handed.

Viewpoints From The Air

Right now I’m blogging from an airplane. This is much more fun than it should be. Thanks, Delta, for free wi-fi!

I’m heading back to the desert, and I’m very bummed about it. I have had a wonderful time on my vacation to the Portland area and I’m loath to go back home. I said to myself many times this vacation that I’m ready to move back to Portland; now to make it happen.

I still have a couple of days on vacation when I get back. I’ll be updating with a couple more Portland posts–including one about Powell’s that will be worth reading.

If you have any suggestions for things to do on my vacation or for New Year’s Eve, leave them in the comments. Thanks for all the feedback on my “Field Guide to NW Men” post. Best ever was a text from Chelsea saying that her Portland cousin texted her after reading my post to report she was in a hole-in-the-wall bar with at least two men in porkpie hats. I’m not wrong, folks!

Greetings from up in the air!

Christmas in the Northwest: NW 23rd Avenue

I’m home!

I’ve escaped to the desert and am back to my native land of rain, gloom, and shadows. I’m SO excited! First of all, my parents’ house is so lovely and comfortable, and it’s nice to not have to worry about anything. Secondly, this place is amazing. The green trees, the river, the lush landscape–it’s like I’m on sensory overload.

Today my mom and I met my dad in Portland for lunch. He had just been to his hand surgeon for a check-up after his recent surgery. His doctor happens to have his office near the best shopping street in Portland–NW 23rd Avenue.

Lunch was at Rose’s Restaurant and Bakery, which has emotional appeal for me. When we were little and living in Eastern Washington, every time my dad went for meetings in Portland, he’d bring back incredible pastries from Rose’s. Gigantic eclairs, florentiners, and Napoleons were carefully split among us and savored. In my more recent history, my ex-boyfriend fell in love with me over a slice of particularly luscious Rose’s cake.

We didn’t have dessert today. I knew this, and tried not to even look at the pastry case. If you end up going to Rose’s, don’t repeat that mistake. Or, you could go to Papa Haydn, which also serves incredible dessert. We thought about going there, but they were booked up on a Wednesday for lunch! (Coincidentally, we saw Diane Birch’s parents, Alf & Estelle, having lunch there.) Or go to Jo Bar, the place where I had the best New Year’s Eve dinner ever, once upon a time.

NW 23rd used to be pretty much only independent stores. The chains have been creeping in little by little; it’s both good and bad, because the chain stores are pretty good, and not necessarily ones you’ll find in other places in Portland, but it’s sad to see the small retailers die out.

The one chain store I went into today was Lush. This Canadian bath and body store specializes in organic, vegan, all-natural products that smell good. It’s a good fit for Portland. I went to buy some of their incredible bath bombs. Or, as the guy behind me in line called them, bath grenades. They’re perfect stocking stuffers.

 

Lots of temptation awaits at Paper Source. They have so many adorable gifts there! Their papers make me crazy. I want to take a sheet of their wrapping paper and frame it, it’s so gorgeous.

 

Ether Shoes is a tiny little closet of a store. It was so crowded today that my mom opted to wait outside while I looked around. Ether offers something you’ll not find much of on NW 23rd–bargains. You can go to Zelda’s Shoe Bar down the street and offer up all your money to the god of shoes if you so desire. At Ether, though, you can find cute, fashionable shoes for very reasonable prices–as low at $15 for a pair of shoes. They also have cute accessories there. Great quality? Probably not. But for a pair of fun shoes? You can’t beat it. And you know mama likes a new pair of shoes.

 

I’m not even quite sure how to describe my last pick, 3 Monkeys. If you ever needed to get false lashes, a tiara, a vintage lamp, and tiki monkey statues, this would be the place. A mix of vintage items and new make it a bit like walking through a ’50’s B movie actress’ extensive closet. Part retro, part quirky, and part plain ol’ kitsch, 3 Monkeys makes my heart sing.

More from my adventures in the Northwest tomorrow! Is your Christmas shopping done? Even after all those lovelies on NW 23rd, mine isn’t.

Also, I miss Music Millennium.