Around Here: Cherry Blossoms

I’ve mentioned before that I absolutely love flowers. Well, Portland basically injected an IV into my veins with all the flowering cherry blossoms (these are cherry blossoms right?) that are lining the riverfront right now. They give me that high on life feeling where I can’t help but smile. A fortunate circumstance indeed given that we are otherwise totally miserable for being stuck in our corporate apartment this final week. Saturday can’t come fast enough. (Oh yeah, we move into our house Saturday for those of you wondering.)

Cherry Blossoms, Portland Cherry Blossoms, Portland Cherry Blossoms, Portland Cherry Blossoms, Portland Cherry Blossoms, Portland Cherry Blossoms, Portland Cherry Blossoms, Portland Cherry Blossoms, Portland Cherry Blossoms, Portland Cherry Blossoms, Portland

The trees are so full, the grass is so green and the sky (on Sunday anyway) was so blue! How can this not put you in a good mood?

xxx

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Monday Travel Memory: Kauai

It’s spring break here in Portland and traffic was noticeably lighter this morning. Where is everyone? Oh, I know – HAWAII. I’d give anything to be on a warm beach right now. Anything except our house, that is. Alas, since we are moving into our house this coming weekend (oh my god, can you believe it?!) a proper spring break was not in the cards this year.

Jaro and I have been to Kauai together twice and are furiously itching to get back there again soon, especially now that it’s one short flight away. I won’t go into all the reasons why it is special (at least not in this post), suffice to say it’s one of our favorite places in the world for many, many reasons.

I took the photo below on our first visit back in 2008, when we hiked along the Kalalau Trail and soaked up the views of the incredible NaPali Coast. The sheer beauty of the island is truly awe-inspiring and this is one of the few instances in my life where I simply don’t have the words to describe it. Nothing seems to do it justice.NaPali Coast, KauaiIsn’t it… right?! Where are the words! Dumbstruck. It will have to hold me over until we figure out our life get settled enough to focus on a vacation.

To everyone on spring break – enjoy!! 

 

xxx

 

Hello Spring

Well, guys, spring is here! This is the season when my girly nature really goes nuts because I am obsessed with flowers. I just love them. They make me happy. Although it’s rainy here in Portland, I’m thinking about what all this rain will bring. I’m also reminded of that time last year when we went to Istanbul and I could not believe my eyes because there were so many gorgeous flowers everywhere. Especially the gardens at Topkapi Palace. It was just too much.

Istanbul, TurkeyIstanbul, Turkey Istanbul, Turkey Istanbul, Turkey Istanbul, Turkey Istanbul, Turkey Istanbul, Turkey

See what I mean? Spring is the best. So is Turkey.

xxx

P.S. Provence looks like an incredible place to visit in the spring.

Monday Travel Memory: The Sea

Hey all! It’s a sunny Monday and we are officially within the two week mark until we move into our house. After a great weekend, I can’t be anything but excited as we enter this final stretch getting into our home. We’ve been literally displaced for four and a half months now and emotionally displaced for eight and a half. I am so ready to feel settled. Beyond ready. Let’s be real.

For this Monday travel memory, I have a confession to make: I am totally awe-struck by the ocean. Anybody else? My entire life, I have felt this compelling urge drawing me to it. For awhile, I was even considering being a marine biologist and I’m pretty sure it’s because I thought I could play in the water everyday with dolphins or something.

Maybe it’s due to my upbringing in the Midwest; I was far, far away from any coastline and it always felt like this magical, imaginary place that I was lucky enough to see once a year when we would take family trips down to Florida. It was special.

Lake Michigan, while great (get it?), was not the same. It was not enough. And now, I live 90 minutes away from the Pacific Coast here in Oregon. We have gone out to it twice (here and here). Still, when I see signs on the highway pointing to “Ocean Beaches” I can’t help but do a double-take. Oh yeah, it’s right down the road.

As a kid, I loved playing in the sand, collecting shells, chasing crabs. As a teenager, I loved laying out under the sun, listening to TLC and N’Sync refined musical selections on my discman; my skin getting so fried to a crisp tanned that I was unrecognizable. As an adult, I do those things (now with strong SPF), but also just stare out and watch the waves. Feeling small. I know I can only speak for myself, but I tend to have a big personality (probably to make up for my petite size). Sitting and staring out at the ocean, is humbling in a way. You can’t help but feel small.

Pula, Croatia

This photo was taken one early morning on the rocky shores when we road-tripped through Croatia. I think as I age, I become more and more captivated by the sea. I can sit there in total stillness for hours. Mesmerized. So how fitting is this shot? A quiet moment of calm at the insanely gorgeous Croatian coastline near Pula. Wish I could be back there.

xxx

Daydreaming about… Ireland

As we head into St. Patrick’s Day weekend (do you celebrate?) I can’t help but think about Irish countryside. Call me cliché. I was lucky enough to visit Ireland in 2011 by myself (!) and it was such thrill to travel there alone. It is SO green. Those lush, vibrant pastures were so peaceful, especially when dotted with grazing sheep. If I were to travel there again, I would spend more time on the western coast and explore the southern coast as well.

IrelandOkay, so that first image was heavily edited. Here are two of mine from my solo trip: IrelandIrelandNothing can convey the freshness of the air in western Ireland. It drifts in from the Atlantic and is salty and clean. I need to experience that again.

Seriously, do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? We normally don’t, but we are excited to get together with some friends this weekend to listen to bagpipers, eat corned beef and cabbage, and have one a couple beers. Being festive is fun.

In other news, I thought it might be fun to share some links that I come across during the week. Not sure if this will be a theme, but I will share when I think it’s worthy:

Which Americans have passports (and more so which ones don’t) is very telling.

Refinery 29 just did a sweet round up of Portland hotspots.

I need to throw a wine and cheese party immediately. Housewarming, perhaps?

Actually, I like the idea of a cheap beer taste test too. Funny!

This man is inspiring, especially since I have been pining for my stuff. It makes me realize how irrational I can be. (link via my favorite, Cup of Jo)

Have a great weekend, friends.

xxx

Sunday Drive: Rockaway Beach

This past Sunday, the weather reports showed a 0% chance of rain between Portland and the coast. Seemed like the perfect day to pack a picnic and head to the beach. 

…Until it rained the entire day. Literally, the whole day. When we saw a few drops coming down in the morning, we thought it would pass. Trying to be optimistic, we still hopped in our shiny, new car and headed west. Instead of spending the whole day at the beach like we originally planned, we detoured to the Tillamook Cheese Farm, where we watched the factory churning out that glorious cheese, in a (failed) attempt to wait for the rain to pass before driving along the damp coast…

Tillamook Tillamook Tillamook Oregon Coast Oregon Coast Oregon Coast Oregon Coast Oregon Coast Oregon Coast Oregon Coast Oregon CoastDespite the moody, almost spooky atmosphere, It was still really fun. And our shoes were a nice bright spot. 🙂

xxx

P.S. You can see our last Sunday drive here.

Around Here: Portland Saturday Market

I’ve now witnessed firsthand that Portland is a different city when the weather cooperates. Similarly to Amsterdam, it seems that the city really comes alive on a nice day; the hipsters are smiling, the kids are skipping and the dogs’ tails (everyone has a dog) are wagging. I’m serious! It sounds hokey/Pleasantville-ish, but it’s true. Everyone emerges from their hermit holes cozy homes & favorite coffeeshops to hang out in the fresh air. It’s kinda nice to think that we all truly appreciate a sunny day; I know it’s something I definitely took for granted growing up in the midwest. (Never again.)

A couple Sundays ago, on a chilly riverfront run, we noticed signs for the Portland Saturday Market that starts up in March. Again, similarly to Amsterdam, markets are where we would spend our weekends, so we wanted to check this one out and see how it compared. Here’s what we saw…

Portland, OR

Typical cheeky, vintage vibe

Portland, OR

The main stage

Portland, OR

This pint-sized performer

Spring

Hey it’s (un)officially spring. Floral hat for Jaro.

Spring

And velvet shoes for me

Portland, OR

Food cart lunch

Portland, OR

Local brew

Portland, OR

The Irish Lager – tasty!

It’s a large market, with vendors selling mostly cheap trinkets and some handmade crafts. There are also so many food carts that it’s impossible to decide what to eat. They have every type of cuisine under the sun. Hawaiian kalua pork? You bet. Lebanese mezza? For sure. But what about Polish pierogis? They have that too! And the location is great – right next to the waterfront park, a grassy space for picnics if you can keep the loose dogs at bay. Overall, the market itself was… average. Doesn’t compare to the beautiful markets in Amsterdam. I would bring visitors there, if only for the food carts. And the people watching is some of the best I’ve seen here.

Just being outside, soaking up the sunshine, was wonderful.

Spring is on its way. 

xxx

Daydreaming about… Provence

Here’s the thing, people. I’m not much of a color person normally. My wardrobe is laughably neutral, as are my interior design choices. I’m okay with that. (I mean, black is a color. So is white.) However, one ENORMOUS exception is my love of spring and all the beautiful colors that abound in nature because of it.

As we spring forward this weekend, I’ll be daydreaming about strolling through the lavender fields in Provence, with a big, floppy hat and a lovely, white dress. We never made it there while we lived in Europe, but I so crave a chance to see (and smell) it in the glorious spring air.

Provence, France

Lavender

Isn’t that shade of purple heavenly? Maybe to quench my thirst (get it?!) for this experience, I’ll just make this lavender lemonade. What a gorgeous beverage!

Lavender Lemonade

Happy weekend, everyone. We are joining a group run tomorrow morning, might check out some new parts of Portland, and maybe even sneak out to the coast on Sunday. Biding our time until we move into our house!

xxx

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Sunday Drive: Columbia River Gorge

Columbia River Gorge, ORHey dudes. Guess what we finally checked out? (Here is a clue.)

Last week, Jaro and I decided to sieze the (sunny and temperate) day and drive out to the Columbia River Gorge. I have been wanting to see it since we moved, but we hadn’t found the chance until recently. While we didn’t get around to hiking, canoeing or visiting the little towns (Hood River, The Dalles, etc), we did sit back and enjoy a lovely Sunday drive.

Here you can see rolling hills of grape vines and Mount Hood in the distance…

Columbia River Gorge, OR

And here’s another cool shot of the Washington side…

Columbia River Gorge, OR

Not sure what was going on with the white balance of these photos, but you get the idea. So scenic and peaceful. We passed heaps of wineries and, at only an hour’s drive away from Portland, I know we’ll be making regular trips out there in the summer.

xxx

Monday Travel Memory: Paris

Notre Dame, Paris

It might be cliché, but I truly believe there is no place like Paris. It remains one of my favorite cities in the world. No matter what season, it still captivates. In the few times I have visited, I loved finding new angles of famous structures (like this one of a wintery Notre Dame) and exploring some of the lesser known areas to escape from tourist routes. Exactly one year ago, we were there with my parents. One of my favorite memories was tucking into a tiny, candle-lit bistro in the chic Levallois-Perret neighborhood for a beautiful and classic French meal. We were lucky enough to be celebrating my mom’s birthday there.

I will always treasure those great memories. And while it can’t be Paris every year, I’m still wishing my mom a very happy birthday today.

xxx