Category Archives: day trip

day diaries bend oregon

Day Diaries: Bend, Oregon

Micro-breweries.  Homemade kombucha.  Fire pits.  A stunning view of the Three Sisters mountains.  These are a few of the staples of character-filled Bend, Oregon.  Bend is a charming and well-rounded city, celebrating the arts as well as rugged adventure.

Keep reading for all of our recommendations after the jump!

One cannot talk about downtown Bend without mentioning the historic McMenamin’s Hotel.  Once the Old St. Francis Catholic School campus, McMenamin’s is now a pseudo-resort featuring a 60-guestroom hotel, movie theater, restaurant, pub, cigar bar, and more.  Perhaps its most unique feature is the Soaking Pool — a former chapel which has been converted into a cross-shaped hot tub.  Surrounding the pool are breathtaking mosaic murals.


In addition to the aforementioned features, McMenamin’s also features the Fireside Bar (with cozy fireplace, billiards, and shuffleboard tables); weekly live music, and a movie theater.  Available inside the theater is a full-service bar, pizza, and of course popcorn.  We also stumbled upon the vintage arcade called Vector Volcano. V.V. included all of the classics including Street Fighter 2, Mortal Kombat 2, Space Invaders, and a slew of old-school pinball machines.  

Every first Friday of the month (spring and summer only), downtown Bend becomes a sprawling art show.  This is called the First Friday Art Walk.  Art galleries and various shops open their doors to exhibit local artists, and many will serve refreshments.  We also encountered a marching band, and a scantily-clad group performing tribal music and dance.  


To our amazement, the Old St. Francis Pub was able to accommodate 25 of us without a reservation.  The service and the food were stellar.  I highly recommend the Expedition Elk Burger with coffee-bacon jam, black garlic aioli, and white cheddar.  

Later that week, we visited Toomie’s Thai Cuisine.  Their Red Curry was to die for; as was their Kauteo Heng noodle dish.  Caution: when it comes to spiciness Toomie’s are extra generous.

When it comes to coffee, Thump Coffee Roasters has got it figured out.  The exceptional ambiance, service, and espresso made Thump our go-to java joint for the week.  Lastly, we cannot forget to mention the food truck lot called The Bite.  Representing at The Bite were
high-quality food trucks such as The Rogue Chef, Rico’s Tacos, and Nuthin’ Fancy BBQ; as well as an open-air taphouse.  The taphouse serves a slew of local brews, as well as fresh kombucha. In true Central Oregon fashion, The Bite has a Cornhole game setup, live music, and a cozy fire pit. 

We loved adventuring in Bend and can’t wait for our next trip!

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Portland City Guide

Portland. Located 6 hours north, it’s the perfect weekend getaway. A few weekends ago we headed to Portland, part for play and part for work, completing photoshoots for a few clientts. Last time I was in Portland, it was 6 years ago on a road trip with a college roommate. At the time we stayed in a hostel and were living on a road trip budget. This time my visit to Portland surprised me in the best of ways. No longer a quirky city, Portland has grown and flourished with amazing spots past the downtown corridor. We decided to explore Portland like a local and found spots that are impressive and past keeping Portland weird. My second visit to Portland was lovely and I can’t wait to visit again soon.

Keep reading for our full city guide after the jump!

Portland City Guide


Stumptown Coffee at the Ace Hotel

With the shared lobby of the Ace Hotel, make sure to head to Stumptown and enjoy the Ace, even if only from the lobby. With stunning olive sectionals, layered air plants, a DJ spinning vinyl, and a bookcase filled with vintage spines by color, every detail of this space will inspire you. While you will find the Ace and Stumptown on most city guides, it’s with good reason. Smart interior details and a great cup of coffee with classic chicory flavors, Stumptown at the Ace is an experience that shouldn’t be missed.

Case Study Coffee

Located on Alberta Street, Case Study Coffee boasts a stunning interior and beautiful outdoor seating area. Filled with classic wood tones, black, and plants, every detail in the interior is thought through. Our favorite feature? The custom light fixtures and work loft, allow for a stunning separation of space in this shop. With use of midcentury molded blue tile work, Case Study Coffee, combines beautiful and unexpected details. Looking for something different? Try the bourbon caramel latte and enjoy it in the natural light provided by the garage doors from floor to ceiling.

Eat + Drink

In Portland, it is easy to find great, local, and affordable food everywhere. These stops are by no means all-encompassing, but rather some of our favorite finds on a short weekend.  As a foodie, Portland, you’ve won me over.

Old Salt Marketplace

Part butcher counter, part restaurant, this shop in North Portland provides some of the freshest meat and main dishes you’ll find. Locally sourced, we ordered fresh ground burgers and fried potatoes off the late night menu. It was probably one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. Paired with a local brew on tap, it has the vibe of a locals spot and has great price points for a phenomenal product.

Oven + Shaker

Located in the Pearl District, this restaurant is smart and gorgeous. With specialty pizzas, small plates, and cocktails, they stick to their niche in flawless fashion. We ordered Pineapple Trainwreck cocktails, paired with a braised fennel and cheese pizza. The presentation was stunning, food was delicious, and the cocktail we’re still trying to remake. (Hopefully it will show up in a mixology or Recipe Remix post soon!)

The Waffle Window

Featured in the show Portlandia, the Waffle Window is incredibly delicious and a Portland staple for good reason. We ate here our first morning in Portland for brunch. It provided the perfect fuel for a day of photoshoots. Ordering a savory waffle, these waffles are made with Liege fashion and finished with pearl sugar, creating a lovely caramelization on the surface. We ordered one with chicken sausage, Tillamook cheddar, egg whites, and herbed gravy. The other waffle we ordered was a classic ham and swiss with over easy egg. Both waffles had a lovely pairing of sweet and savory flavors and the stacks of ingredients complimented each other well. With four locations throughout Portland, make sure to grab bunch here one morning.

Blue Star Doughnuts

While Portland is notoriously known for another doughnut shop, I prefer to forgo the quirky for the delicious, and head to straight Blue Star Doughnuts. Blue Star does doughnuts unlike anyone else. Whether with torched and caramelized sugar and vials of cointreau inserted, or a classic buttermilk cake doughnut, they smartly use sugar in thoughtful and inventive ways. Pushing the boundaries of classic doughnut flavors, we ordered a sample of doughnuts, bringing in a half-dozen to share among our party. My favorite? The Raspberry Rosemary Buttermilk doughnut. The nuances of flavor in every bite told a local story common to the winter months in the Pacific Northwest.

The Grilled Cheese Grill 

Portland is known for a thriving food truck scene, with options spanning most any food you might like.  Walk a few blocks in any area in Portland and you will find a city block filled with food trucks. We headed to The Grilled Cheeserie on 10th and Alder for a classic taste of childhood. Ordering The Kelsey with Turkey, classic cheeses combined with basil pesto and turkey, giving a taste of nostalgia and comfort on a cloudy and rainy winter day.

Salt and Straw

Known for artisanal flavors with the classic Portland quirk, head to Salt & Straw for a sweet treat. With a variety of seasonal offering and small batches of production, find their locations on NE Alberta Street or 23rd street. I picked up a favorite, Honey Lavender.


Bridge and Burn

With a custom line, beautiful graphic tees, and curated retail shop, Bridge and Burn boasts a flagship store in Portland on Morrison Street. While we were there, we were invited to their collaborative sale at the Ace and got some phenomenally good deals on their sample pieces from the winter collection. I’ve loved Bridge and Burn’s collections for a long time, so this was a special treat.

EcoVibe Apparel

With ethically sourced basics and curated jewelry and accessories from local artisans, EcoVibe boasts modern basics in a variety of neutral colors, cuts and styles. Combining boho sensibilities and updated trends, their newest store location on NE Alberta is beautiful and worth a stop.

The Union Way

It’s uncommon to recommend a complete shopping area, but with one step into Union Way you will understand why.  With local stores and brands you are sure to love, Union Way combines Scandinavian and mid-century modern architecture in this open and airy gallery. Make sure to stop by Will Leather Goods Homestead Store and Spruce Apothecary. Looking for a non-traditional way to remember your trip? Engage your senses with a natural perfume by a local artisan. After discovering Imaginary Stories from our AirBnB, we headed to Spruce Apothecary to purchase our own bottle of Yesterday’s Haze. It is a favorite scent and a great way to remember our adventures in Portland.


We opted to book our stay in Portland through Airbnb. With an amazing option available, we booked the Birch Plywood Loft. We couldn’t recommend this space enough. Designed by a creative couple, there is not a detail overlooked. Filled with local apothecary goods and finishes from Schoolhouse Electric, we loved this space that is cozy and provided the perfect backdrop for planning shoots, lingering enjoying cups of coffee, and one of the most beautiful showers we’ve ever seen. Our hosts were amazing, providing great communication, and a city guide prior to arrival. (The fixtures in the space were perfect. They sourced the most perfect shade between gold and copper that was stunning.)

For our readers: Use this link to book your next trip on AirBnb to get a $35 credit.

Do you have any favorite spots in Portland? We’d love to hear from you! Let us know in the comments below.

day diaries

Day Diaries: A Rainy Day in Seattle

Seattle. It’s a city I have come to love. Whether it is the energy, the vast knowledge, love of tech, or just being in an urban area among the mountains, I absolutely love multiple visits to the city each year. (You can find past posts here and here.) Today, I have a different guide of sorts. I decided to share my adventures while being with family over the Thanksgiving holiday. With rainy days, limited time, and wanting to be the best auntie possible, this guide is filled with common activities to share with my nieces and celebrate the holiday.

Keep reading about my whole day after the jump!

8:00 AM Woken up by a big wet noise, our 120 lb family dog, Tasha, I decided to enjoy a few snuggles. Looking outside I knew it was going to be a rainy day and layers were essential. I slipped on a favorite pair of Madewell jeans, a cozy sweatshirt, and my olive anorak jacket. (It has a hood to keep me dry.) Heading up the stairs, I make a cup of local brewed coffee and a few egg whites with toast for a cozy start to the morning.

8:30 AM It was time to get the littles up and moving. With a breakfast of cheerios, we played a bit, got everyone dressed, and started heading to the car. (About an hour later, with a three and one year old it takes a bit of time.)

10:30 AM Seattle has some phenomenal free activities to celebrate the holiday. We opted to go to a few hotels downtown to see their holiday displays. If you’re in Seattle, make sure to check these out. I found that the displays were great for engaging 3-7 year olds. A bit older and younger will work. We parked between the Sheraton and the Fairmont Olympic Hotels, with walking distance between each. At the Downtown Sheraton, we found a phenomenal display of gingerbread houses. Partnering with local charities, this display was gingerbread showpieces based off of each book in the Harry Potter series. With automated pieces, lights, and movement, each gingerbread showpiece was dynamic and interactive. After this we walked to the Fairmont Olympic hotel. With over 30 trees, the Festival Trees, are strewn throughout the lobby, great rooms, and atrium of this historic hotel. Each tree is decorated with a different theme, sponsored by local charities and businesses. I brought my Instax film camera. My 3-year old niece loves this camera and taking “usies” with it. (They’re discounted at Amazon right now.) Another favorite game, was playing “I Spy” with each and every tree. In order to keep hands occupied, we held hands or danced to the holiday music playing in the lobby. This kept little hands away from the fragile ornaments and the stress-level somewhat low for the rest of us. If you head up the stairs to the small ballroom, you will find a massive tree with two large chairs. This is perfect for taking the Christmas card photo and is a large open area for littles who need to get out some pent up energy. For the one year old, I usually wear my Giving Key necklace. Anytime she got antsy, I would pick her up and she would play with my necklace. Simple but it worked. Babies are fascinated by keys. (Don’t worry we kept it out of her mouth.)

12:00 PM It was noon and time to find a place for lunch. With it being a rainy day, we opted for a warm bowl of chowder from a local favorite, Pike Place Chowder Company. The little ones love their bread and crackers and the adults love the chowder. The best part? By walking to their location, in the Pacific Place mall, we were able to avoid the 30-45 minute lines at the market location.

1:00 PM Shopping in downtown? Yes please. I headed to my favorite stores, Anthropologie and Madewell, to pick up a few favorite items in person. Volcano scented candles and black skinny jeans for the win. (Good thing, one pair completely ripped out this morning.) 

1:45 PM No visit to Seattle would be complete without heading to Pike Place Market. It was decked out for the holiday and looking quite merry. I headed to Market Spice to restock my loose leaf teas and purchase spices for recipe testing. (Hello Madagascar vanilla beans, black truffle salt, and colored sugars. Christmas is going to smell, taste, and look fantastic.) Next stop, was Beecher’s cheese. I picked up a bit of my favorite cheese and shared a small portion of Mac N Cheese with my family. When we go to the market, we always make sure to share this side dish as it is incredibly rich. With littles in tow, we stopped by the dried fruit stand for a healthy snack and samples, singing along with the men at the Flying Fish.

3:00 PM It’s naptime for the 1 year old, probably a little past. For the 3 year old, we decided it was time to make a few holiday crafts. Inspired by the gingerbread houses we saw earlier this morning, we worked on the gingerbread house we had purchased earlier in the week. (At $10 from Costco, the house was preassembled and a great project for a 3 year old with a bit of supervision.) My little helper loved eating icing and placing down candy. We designed the house together and loved it. The rest of our afternoon was followed up by making holly wreaths with crayon, scissors, glue, paper plates, and construction paper.

7:00 PM Time for Thanksgiving leftovers and relaxing. With a bourbon spiked cider,  mashed potatoes, and spiked cider, it was time to give into the rainy day. Looking over the lake, dinner was shared, bath time was had, and it was bedtime for the little ones.

8:00 PM With Red Vines, M&Ms, a bit of ice cream, and decaf coffee, we headed downstairs to watch the latest Gilmore Girls. It was the only appropriate snack and was a great night enjoying a revival of a favorite show.

Looking for more holiday activities in Seattle?

The Pike Place Market
Harry Potter Gingerbread Houses at Downtown Seattle Sheraton
Shopping at Pacific Place Center
Festival of Trees at The Fairmont Olympic Hotel
Holiday Trains, Reindeer, and Camel at Swanson’s Nursery
Zoolights at Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma
Ivar’s Clam Lights in Renton


when the mountains meet amber and fog

When the Mountains Meet Amber and Fog Playlist

It seems as if life has been on repeat as of late. More than the proverbial groundhog day, I’m finding myself in moments and days where I take a deep breath and dive in, knowing that as long as I take it day-by-day, things will come in time. While it seems exaggerated at a point, there’s huge value for living in the present and becoming aware. Around here, we’ve had a few days filled with crisp mornings, fresh mountain air, and the trees are beginning to turn the perfect shade of amber. It is the first year I’ve been in NorCal where it truly feels like my favorite season. In honor of this I’m sharing 5 albums perfect for these days. Bring on the weekend, full of dinner parties, cooking for friends, and gathering around the common table.

Keep reading for the full playlist after the jump!

01 | Georgica Pond by Johnnyswim
02 | 22, Million by Bon Iver
03 | Live at the Music Hall by Phosphorescent
04 | Bare Bones EP by The Civil Wars
05 | Penny and Arrow on Audiotree Live by Penny and Arrow

nor cal coast

Hidden Gems: NorCal Coast

A few weeks ago, I headed out on this summer’s travel season. My first stop? Meeting my parents at the Northern California Coast. I’ve been here before, but this time I knew of all the places I wanted to visit. (You can read about trip to the coast here.) For the NorCal coast, there’s loads of hidden gems and things you certainly won’t find from any tour guide. Make sure to spend at least a night here to get the full experience. I recommend finding a great place in historic Arcata or an airBnb on the bay.

Patrick’s Point at Trinidad State Park: Located near a residential district, make sure to head here for some great hikes and sea cliffs that the Pacific Coast is notorious for. Make sure to come mid-day or afternoon for great vistas. If foggy images are more your vibe, the morning hours are perfect.

Fern Canyon: Located in Redwoods National Park, this is a must see and for good reason. Ever wanted to feel like Chris Pratt driving through the set of Jurassic Park 2? This is the spot for you. Mirroring a lush vertical, hanging garden, this site is stunning and offers a literal canyon of lush ferns from floor to ceiling. It’s beautiful, takes your breath away, and is unlike any place I’ve ever been. Make sure to head here and go around golden hour for great pictures.

Salt Fish House: Found in historic Downtown Arcata, head here for some updated takes on seafood. With a clean and modern aesthetic, It’s the perfect place to end your day exploring and wind down with a great glass of wine or well drink. We started our order with fried calamari and a delicious salad. Then, came the entrees. We ordered risotto with lobster, grilled sole, and fish tacos. When purchasing seafood here, most items are local. If oysters are your thing, make sure to go crazy. There’s a great variety of oysters caught in the bay and right off the coast.

Dick Taylor Chocolate Factory: In historic Downtown Eureka is the factory for Dick Taylor artisan chocolate. Specializing in dark chocolate blends, it has a clean, modern, and timeless aesthetic. A must see on any trip to the coast. Feeling adventurous, try their pho truffle. It somehow incorporates the robust flavors found in the soup in a small sphere of chocolate. Also recommended, their Humbolt State Dark chocolate and whiskey truffles.

Avenue of the Giants: Drive 40 minutes south of Eureka and you will find the Avenue of the Giants. Here are a stretch of Redwood groves that are stunning in height and diameter.  They’re easily accessible and great for taking pictures at golden hour. If running is your thing, they have multiple 5K, 10K, and half marathons along the Avenue of the Giants throughout the year.

What are your favorite spots along the California coast?