48 Hours in Portland & How To Spend Them

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: our trip to Portland was a total dream. My only complaint was that it was too short (literally 48 hours from leaving the airport to returning to it), and that I couldn’t physically consume any more food than what I did in such a short amount of time.

Portland is unique, filled with delicious food and beer, and an exemplary personification of the quintessential Pacific Northwest Lifestyle. More importantly, every person we encountered was so. nice. Being from the south, it takes exceptional kindness to wow me, but Portland did not disappoint. Even the TSA agents at PDX were making jokes and conversation with us as we were leaving — that’s not something you experience every day.

In summation, our trip was 48 hours of amazing food and amazing beer, with a lot of walking and a little shopping in between. There are so many more things we want to do when we visit again, but we made great use of our time and hit most of the big things from our list. If you’d like a play-by-play of where we stayed, how we got around, and what we ate, drank and saw while we were there, look no further:

Where We Stayed:

The Hotel Kimpton Monaco: Don’t let the price tag steer you away from this hotel if you look it up! We booked our room far in advance and were able to stay for $180/night with our (free) rewards club membership. The hotel is on the National Historic Registrar and even if you don’t stay there, you should pop in to peek at the architecture. Each room is personable and unique, and they have social hours, coffee service, and free bike rentals that make the price more than worth it. And if you want to stay downtown (which I recommend for your first time!) the location cannot be rivaled.

How We Got Around:

The Portland Light Rail: I hate public transportation. I ride BART often and every time it makes me miserable, sweaty, and anxious. The Portland Light Rail is the exact opposite of that experience. For only $2.50 we were able to get from the airport to our hotel, sit in temperature-controlled comfort, and see the city as we came in. While a Lyft might be faster, The Light Rail is much cheaper and provides a better value when you’re first arriving.

Lyft: Because Portland is 10/10 on the walkability scale, we only had to do this to/from the Japanese Tea Garden. Each time we had the friendliest drivers who had many helpful recommendations and made great conversation. While it’s a bit more expensive than what we’re used to in the Bay Area, it was worth it for the few times we had to make use of the service.

Our own two feet: Seriously, we walked everywhere and that’s exactly what I’d recommend. We walked distances that I’d balk at walking in Oakland or Berkeley because the town is just that pleasant. It’s mostly flat, mostly safe, and there’s a lot to see. I also think this is the best way to get to know a place, so despite my aching feet I highly recommend walking everywhere you can!

Thursday

PDX: Maybe it’s a bit weird to talk about the airport on a travel guide, but Portland’s airport is the most interesting that I’ve been to. As soon as we off-boarded the plane, we saw murals, local eats, and signs advertising the history and richness of the culture there. It’s a fairly small airport but there’s a lot to see as you walk through.

Mother’s Bistro: After airplane coffee and pretzels, Mother’s Bistro was a lighthouse beacon in the darkness for these weary travelers. We dropped our luggage off at the hotel and walked over to this glorious restaurant with empty stomachs and high hopes — and Mother’s did not disappoint. Known for its brunch lines and delicious, no-frills food, we joked about eating here for every meal because it was just that tasty. Thursday at 10 AM didn’t require more than a 5-minute wait, but your mileage may vary. I had the seasonal pumpkin pancakes, while Harley had the honey ham omelette that was on special, both amazing.

Powell’s City of Books: When I was a kid, I had a fantasy that I would somehow remain in a Toys-R-Us undetected after closing time so I could enjoy all the toys without interruption. As an adult, I had a similar dream for my experience at Powell’s. I felt that I did a decent job of splitting my time between aimlessly wandering the aisles and power shopping, but I easily could have spent an entire day perusing their various and thorough selection. They also had some nice Portland-themed gifts made my local artisans that we didn’t see anywhere else (i.e. not your traditional gift shop fare). If you’re a book lover, you have to go here, and if you figure out a way to stay behind after hours, you have to let me know.

Voodoo Donuts: The quintessential donut place in Portland, Voodoo Donuts has it all — and by all I mean Cap’n Crunch donuts and the ability to get married there. It’s quirky, it’s touristy, and it isn’t the best donut I had in Portland (more on that later), but that’s not to say that it isn’t delicious and the novelty makes it worth the trip.

Tip: To avoid the famous Voodoo Donut line, go at a weird time — we made it there around 1 PM on a Thursday and didn’t wait at all.

OMSI: In hindsight we agreed that this wasn’t our favorite part of the trip, but it was still an informative way to spend a few hours on the East side of the river. We were mainly interested in the King Tut exhibit, but they also had some interesting interactive pieces that were (probably) geared towards kids. That’s also where the picture above comes from as they have a pleasant observation deck overlooking the river.

Old Town Pizza & Brewing: Is there anything in the world more enjoyable than delicious pizza and tasty beer when you’re absolutely starving? Our weird Thursday schedule had us skip lunch and find ourselves famished at 4:30 in the afternoon — Old Town to the rescue. I was a bit skeptical as this place is on the official Portland Visitor’s Guide due to being situated above the famed Shanghai Tunnels. Often places that are this famous aren’t worth the hype, but the ‘za and brews did not disappoint. We split a Dragon Lady (artichoke hearts, capers, sun-dried tomatoes) and split up 2 flights to sample every beer they had. Everything was delicious and the historic atmosphere couldn’t be beat.

Rialto: I wouldn’t classify Rialto as a must-see spot, but it was exactly what we needed. We wound up here because we were exhausted but felt 7 PM was too early to turn in, it was close to our hotel, and they had pool tables. It did turn out to be quite pleasant though, not too crowded and a fun place to shoot some billiards. We were also surprised to learn they had a jazz club downstairs, so we got to listen to live music while we played.

Friday

Bijou Cafe: There are many omelettes in the world. There are few delicious omelettes in the world. Bijou Cafe not only has many omelettes, but they have omelettes so stellar that I would feel comfortable declaring this the best omelette I’ve ever tasted. Locally sourced mushrooms and gruyere made up my omelette while Harley’s featured bacon and goat cheddar that came together perfectly. We also split a seasonal spiced pear muffin. Also, you know how the perfect breakfast potato is crunchy and crisp outside with a smooth center? Yeah, this place does that, too.

Japanese Tea Garden: You can easily get by on a Portland trip without a car, but the Japanese Tea Garden is worth the Lyft out of town. It isn’t served by easy public transit but we took a 10 minute rideshare to what’s lauded as “the most authentic Japanese garden outside of Japan.” Due to their limited hours we got there as the gates opened (10 AM) and were rewarded with a quiet, tranquil experience of wandering through nature. They have a koi pond, a bonsai grove, and a multitude of paths to wander down, plus a nice overlook of Mt. Hood and the downtown area from one of the buildings.

Pearl District: After the garden we took a Lyft back to town and picked an arbitrary spot in the Pearl District to start our self-guided walking tour. We meandered all through the area taking in the shops and architecture, both of which are abundant. If you’re an Anthropologie fan, I recommend popping into this one — the building alone makes it worth it and they have the largest selection out of any I’ve seen.

10 Barrel Brewing: The second brewery of our trip turned out to be my favorite brewery of the trip. 10 Barrel is known for their rooftop patio, but it was HOT so we opted to sit inside. We wound up with a waitress extremely knowledgable about Portland and beer, and got their Brewer’s Choice tasting flight and chorizo cheese dip to split. Their beers are interesting and dynamic (even their pilsner and pale ales have great flavor!), but their seasonal pumpkin sour stole the show for me. I’ve never had a beer that I loved so dearly. I’m biased because I love pumpkin and I love sours, but even if that’s not your thing you can definitely find a beer for yourself among their extensive list.

Von Ebert: Von Ebert Brewing recently replaced Fat Head Brewing, but we weren’t crazy about this spot. We got a flight to split and everything was neutral, but compared to other breweries in the area there wasn’t anything notable about this place. Its convenient location makes it a good segway to other spots, however, and the burger at the table next to us looked incredible.

The Cookie Dough Cafe: The entire time we sat at Von Ebert we watched happy people coming and going with their edible cookie dough so we had to stop in. Of all the kitschy food in SF the cookie dough craze hasn’t quite taken hold so I’ve been dying to try it. I don’t have anything to compare this particular place to, but I can say that it was absolutely delish and the perfect afternoon snack.

Deschutes: This is arguably one of the most famous breweries in Portland, and I noticed more than a few billboards and bus advertisements around. They had two featured flights so we got one of each, and split a Southwest Burger. They had a few more malty, porter-style beers than I was fond of but thankfully Harley likes those. Their pre-selected flights were a little bland and they had some more interesting-looking selections on the menu, but at this point we were SO FULL that we could hardly function and definitely couldn’t think about more beer. Also, the burger was delicious — I’d like to check this place out again to try some other things.

Ground Kontrol: After a much-needed nap and rehydration break, we walked up to Ground Kontrol, a barcade in the heart of the city. This was a fun spot with a great drink menu and a ton of games. While I had a bit of post-nap grogginess lingering, we still had a great time here (and I’m still incredible at Tetris, in case anyone was wondering).

Food Trucks: On the way back from Ground Kontrol, I got hit with the sudden hunger that can only come after day drinking and naps, for which food trucks are the only answer. Thankfully, one of Portland’s best food truck pods was 2 blocks from our hotel. I chose a cart called Buns on the Run because they promised me free cheese fries and I’m a sensible person. On their recommendation I ordered the Philly Cheese Steak; little did I know, I was about to enjoy what I’d be comfortable declaring the best Philly Cheese Steak west of Philadelphia. It was one of those meals that makes you feel a deep sadness when you’re too full to finish the entire thing. Buns on the Run did not disappoint.

Sidenote to this: Harley chose a gyro place that was delicious and also run by literal children. These 12- and 14-year-olds, respectively, politely explained that bars in Portland have a 4 AM last call, but strip clubs can stay open until 6 AM. Therefore, the food truck scene is popular with these late-night crowds, which is why it’s easier finding dinner at midnight on Friday than it is to find breakfast on Saturday morning in the downtown area.

Saturday

Blue Star: We could not find a single breakfast place near our hotel that was open — see the note about the strip clubs above. I suffered through my hunger (no simple feat, if you know me) until we got to the airport, where there is a Blue Star Donuts location sent straight from heaven. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that I don’t believe it possible to make a donut better than these. We sampled four different kinds and each one was somehow better than the last. I will be dreaming about this donut, maybe for the rest of my life.

Stumptown: Another Portland staple found in PDX, which is really set up well for great shopping options! I got a souvenir magnet from Powell’s and my final cup of Portland coffee from Stumptown before boarding, which was the perfect way to wrap up our trip.

Holy cow that was a long list! Like I said, we really maximized our time there. I think it’s clear that my feelings about this place are overwhelmingly positive. In 2 days I experienced the best pumpkin pancakes, omelette, beer, cheesesteak, and donut I’ve ever had, and I can’t wait until we go back again! If you have any questions about what we did/our trip, don’t hesitate to ask. And if you go, let me know afterwards so I have someone else to gush about this place with!

Amanda McDowellComment
What I'm Loving | 10/14/2018
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Our trip to Portland was a dream. I’m writing a full post for Wednesday with all the deets, but for now, just know that it’s far and away one of the best places I’ve ever visited. I found myself seriously wondering how much it would cost to have our things and pets shipped up so we’d never have to leave. I have many photos to edit so stay tuned, but for now enjoy this one of my pouting as we headed to the airport.

Here’s what else I’m loving lately:


Reading :: French Exit was a quirky adventure of a book, but not endearing enough to stand out in my opinion. The characters were rich and vibrant, but not enough to justify a lack of plot development and notable events. It was quick, but by no means remarkable. I’m now on Bel Canto — I love Ann Patchett, I love her writing, and I love her characters. I’m still working on this one but so far, it’s of no exception.

Spare Time :: I strongly believe that the best way to learn a city is to walk it, and that’s exactly what we did. We didn’t have a lot of “downtime” per se, but we walked almost everywhere we went. Seeing things from the ground helps you notice more, and makes it much easier to get your sense of direction aligned.

Etcetera :: Do you think airports are representative of a city? I hadn’t thought about it until seeing PDX, which is steeped in Pacific Northwest culture. The San Francisco airport is fancy and high-tech, which is also on point. The Oakland airport is quaint and unassuming, with some interesting shops tucked away — also accurate. Chattanooga’s airport is the only one I can think of that isn’t representative, because Chattanooga is such a vibrant city and the airport is decidedly not.

Midterms Matter
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Activism is trendy right now. Brands, celebrities, and probably all the people you grew up with are sharing their views, proving that sharing can be a powerful force. Taylor Swift spoke out about politics for the first time in her career and sparked a flurry of Tennessee voter registrations. Our knowledge, our words, and our communications are all powerful tools, amplified moreso by social media, and should not be discounted. However, the most important things are our actions.

My political interest reaches back into childhood, but like most people, I didn’t start to get passionately involved until the 2016 election. Supported by national trends and what I’ve seen at a local level, people care more about politics now than they have in my lifetime. Between the record number of women running for office and a record number of people registering to vote, it’s safe to stay that things appear to be getting ready to happen on a large scale.

This is exciting, but this momentum will only come to fruition if we put in the effort — which is why going to vote in the midterms is vital to improving our political ecosystem. Statistically, only around 40% of voters will turn out for a midterm election, with studies suggesting that percentage is much lower among millennials. Using your voice and increasing awareness is great — never, ever stop speaking up for what you believe in — but remember that voting is where all of that momentum starts making a difference.

The presidential elections have a lot of flash and flair, but the midterms are what determine what daily life is like for everyday Americans. The people elected in the midterms vote on bills, pass legislation, and determine how far-reaching the president’s power goes. So if you’re disheartened by the fact that your elected officials aren’t supporting your values, go vote. If you want to see change happen in your communities, go vote. If you want to feel represented on the city, state, and national level, please go vote. Register, check your registration often (even if you don’t think you need to), and be educated when the time comes to cast your ballot. Talk to your friends about candidates in your area, and share with them the importance of voting, too. By using our voice and our actions, we can prove that we’re stronger together.

Amanda McDowellComment
What I'm Loving | 10/7/2018
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We’re finally, finally, finally almost done with the bed frame. Our weekend project has turned into a month-long project and I can’t wait to be done with it. Because we don’t have a designated “work space” pulling everything out of the garage is a process on its own, making setting aside time to work on it even more cumbersome. Hopefully, today will be the day everything finally comes together.

Here’s what I’m loving lately:


Reading :: I’ll admit that I underestimated All We Ever Wanted a little bit — once I moved past the italics, there was more meat to the story than I thought there would be. Not my favorite and not the best-written novel I’ve read to date, but it was an interesting look at how different types of people handle the same unfortunate circumstances with vastly differing outlooks. I’m moving on to French Exit next. It’s a rarity for me to purchase a book this close to its publication date, but I had a good feeling about this one.

Spare Time :: I’ve decided to take the GRE (eventually), and I’ve been shocked to find how little of my math knowledge is coming back. I am all over the vocabulary prompts, but I’ve had to Google like mad to even get through the quantitative practice problems. I think it’s trite to make a blanket statement about being bad at math here, but I certainly struggle with it more than other subjects.

Etcetera :: I’m three years behind, but I’ve finally garnered an interest in the Serial podcast. I’m not a very “true crime” person, but I am fascinated with the litigation process. I didn’t like Season Two much, but Season One got me hooked quickly and Season Three is shaping up to be my favorite so far.

How Do You Decide What To Read?

It’s no secret that I read a lot. I read on the train, I read before bed, and I’ve more or less stuck with my resolution to read every day. If you keep up with my What I’m Loving series, you’ll know that I also try to maintain a good bit of variety and expand my horizons.

Fiction has always been my first love — from Little House On The Prairie to now, I’ve always been searching for a way to be transported to another place and time, understand another character, and hopefully learn something new about the world along the way. As I’ve grown, I’ve also found a love for non-fiction, memoirs, and historical fiction. I don’t think I’ll ever love poetry, but everything else is more or less fair game.

Even though I’m not genre-biased, there are a lot of books with a synopsis that doesn’t draw me in. You may not be able to judge a book by its cover, but you can judge it by what words the author uses to describe it and thousands of Amazon reviews. While taking a chance has led me to a lot of books that were surprisingly enjoyable, I’ve still started a few that I just cannot get into for one reason or another.

Even if I’m not feeling a piece, I have a hard time “giving up” on a book—subconsciously I’ll be looking for anything to do other than read, but I still won’t set it down and move on for good (I can’t be the only one!). Vetting things thoroughly from the start helps me to not be disappointed, but unfortunately also leads to a time-consuming search every. single. time I’m looking for a new book to read.

So I’m curious — how do you decide what to read? Is there a better/more efficient way that I’m missing out on? Does anybody have any go-to “#bookstagrams” or review sites they’d recommend? If so pleasepleaseplease let me know — or just share some of your personal faves!

What I'm Loving | 9/30/2018

It’s nearly October! It’s no secret that I’ve been in the fall feelings since September 1st came around, but October is my favorite month — partly because it’s when it’s socially acceptable to crank the fall celebrations up a notch. Though my main complaint about the Bay Area is that we don’t have seasons here, it’s actually been feeling rather autumnal lately, and I’ve even spied a few fallen leaves on my & Rusty’s daily walks.

Speaking of walks, having a dog is the perfect excuse to get outside. It might sound lame, but I look so forward to taking Rusty on walks now just so I can get some fresh air and sunshine. It’s also a great way to break up the day and recharge when I work from home!

Here’s what I’m loving lately:


Reading :: The Marriage of Opposites was a piece of historical fiction that was interesting, but I never felt fully tied to. While the book did achieve its purpose of accounting for the life of the mother of a largely influential painter, I never felt enchanted by the story or attached to the characters. However, the wording was detailed and compellingly descriptive without being ostentatious — one of my favorite qualities in a book. I’m now reading All We Ever Wanted, which (so far) features simple prose with an interesting moral dilemma examined from several sides. One Amazon reviewer mentioned that the author was italics happy during dialogue; at first, I thought “what a silly thing to complain about” but now that I’m further into dialogue portions I absolutely get it. Still an interesting premise so I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes.

Spare Time :: I’ve been writing with every spare moment, it seems. I’m enrolling in a late-fall workshop but I want to get plenty of practice in before then so I feel more prepared. It’s been so long since I’ve taken a formal writing course!

Etcetera :: Rusty has terrible skin allergies which is something we’ve been trying our hardest to stay on top of. As we were explaining to his dog sitter our daily routine, I realized what feels simple to me sounds like quite an involved process when I say it out loud. Eventually I’ll just make it into it’s own post — after having 2 different dogs in 2 different states with the same problem, I’d say it’s a lot more common than people realize

3 Tips For Planning Trips
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If there’s one thing in life I would consider myself legitimately skilled in, it’s planning. Despite the fact that I love to visit new places I honestly don’t travel well (so much could go wrong!), but having a plan is honestly the best way I’ve found to keep worry at bay.

In my last post I mentioned that I’ve almost forgotten how to plan a trip and I was only half joking — it’s a lot of work. Typically I’d source family/friends for recommendations and fill in from there, but because not many people I know have been to Portland I’m having to nearly start from scratch. It’s a bit reminiscent of exploring San Francisco for the first few weekends we were here; there are endless options but it’s almost too overwhelming to choose!

I know I can’t be the only person who feels this way. Growing up your parents plan the vacations and most college breaks are focused on drinking on the beach, so planning a real getaway that’s only semi-focused on finding the best beer is a challenge of the mid-twenties I didn’t know about until now! Here are the top 3 tips for how to not pull your hair out when planning:

Avoid Over/Under Scheduling: When you’re on vacay or even a day trip, no one wants to feel like they’re following an itinerary. On the flipside, my worst nightmare is being somewhere new and spending countless amounts of time scrolling through Yelp for the next thing to do. For this trip, I’m trying to outline some “must-sees”, setting up a natural flow around that, and letting the rest fall into place. This way we’ll have a good mixture of activity and time to just see what happens without feeling like there’s a million places we have to go.

Become BFFs With Street View: The Google Maps street view function is a game changer. Even when we were finding an apartment from across the country, I would go on “walks” around potential neighborhoods to get a feel for what was around. Something looking close on a map is a totally different scenario than something actually being close enough to walk, so taking a virtual stroll can be the difference between trip-ruining blisters or a $6 Lyft.

Take Reviews With A Grain Of Salt: This is true for anything, but especially when you’re looking up places you have no basis to go off of — i.e. restaurants in a new city. Depending on where you’re getting your travel intel, recommendations and reviews can be extremely biased. In my experience, I’ve noticed that Yelp tends to skew negative (people complain about ANYTHING), TripAdvisor tends to skew towards middle age/family-friendly preferences, and Google Reviews is a little all over the place. As is in my nature, I tend to read most reviews from all 3 to form a composite image, but that’s a lot of work and I don’t recommend it. Just remember — a well-balanced 3 star review carries far more weight than a ranting 1-star in most situations. 😉

p.s. I am SO scared about leaving the pets, so if anyone has any tips about how to not worry about them or just general Portland recs, hmu!

Amanda McDowellComment
What I'm Loving | 9/23/2018

Portland, here we come! You know how Southwest sends those flash sales emails and you wish you could be spontaneous and just book a trip like that? Well that’s what we did! We’re going next month so it’s not 100% spur of the moment, but the countdown is on. It’s been so long since I’ve planned a trip I barely remember how. 😬

Her'e’s what I’m loving lately:


Reading :: The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living was simple, predictable, & pleasant. It wasn’t earth shattering, but it was an easy and enjoyable read overall. Next was Maybe In Another Life which was emotional and impactful, to say the least. I’ve never read a novel with parallel timelines before and thought that was a unique take, as well as being the perfect way to show the reader just how much can change from a simple decision. It certainly made me think about fate and whether or not everything actually does happen for a reason. I’m now reading The Marriage of Opposites which I picked out on a whim. Not my typical read but enjoyable thus far all the same.

Spare Time :: We’re building a bed frame! Our current one is the first of our cheap furniture that needs an upgrade — I tossed a sweatshirt onto it from a distance yesterday and it made it squeak, to give you an idea. While I have no grand illusions of becoming a woodworker, this has been a fun project and I’m hoping we can get it finished up this week.

Etcetera :: I’ve learned a lot of scary things about the candle industry recently so I’ve been looking for safe alternatives. I found the Mrs. Meyer’s seasonal collection and I’m convinced that these are some of the best candles out there. I got all 3 of the fall scents and I’m hoping they’ll release some Christmas ones too!

Camping (With A Dog) At Big Basin State Park
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The Friday before Labor Day we were lucky enough to nab a campsite at Big Basin State Park. Camping within a few hours of the Bay Area is notoriously difficult, so even though we were only able to stay for a night we were thankful we got a site at all.

Though we’ve both been camping separately, this was the first time we’ve gone together and we assume it was likely Rusty’s first time as well. Overall, we had a lovely time! I wish the trip could have been longer, but it was a great “intro to camp” crash course and got us excited for more adventures to come. Here’s a quick recap:

Amenities: As far as amenities go, Big Basin is as close to modern as a regular campground can get. They have bathrooms, coin showers, and a general store that has everything you may have forgotten from craft beer to sleeping bags. They also have group activities all through the summer — not our thing, but people on Yelp seem to appreciate it.

Dog Friendliness: While a lot of state park campgrounds aren’t dog friendly at all, Big Basin is — with a few caveats. The most important thing to note is that dogs are only allowed on paved roads and one trail. Because we had an abbreviated stay this wasn’t an issue, but if we were doing multiple nights all three of us would have likely been bored without areas to explore in the afternoon. Because of an endangered bird species Big Basin is also a “crumb clean” park, meaning no traces of food should be left behind as Blue Jays are ruthless, hungry monsters. I would say that having a dog with us made this an easier rule to follow because Rusty lets no crumb go to waste when we eat. However, it is important to note that dog food and treats must be contained within the (park provided) bear locker or in arm’s reach at all times.

Weather/Conditions: Thanks to typical drought conditions brought on by California summers, the grounds were extremely dusty. I was glad I threw my boots in the car at the last minute, because the Chacos were not going to cut it. By keeping the tent zipped and keeping things off the ground we were able to keep the dustiness at bay, but it is something to plan for. Also, plan for mosquitos. You don’t encounter them in NorCal that often so it was a surprise — even with bug spray and citronella candles we still left with quite a few bites! Overall the weather was pleasant — typical warm during the day, comfortably cool at night temperatures.

Overall: I’d definitely camp at Big Basin again, but it wouldn’t be my first choice. The lack of hiking/activities we could do with Rusty is the major downfall here, so without a dog I’d recommend it as a place to check out! They have the world’s tallest redwood which we were able to see on a trip in March, and their trail network is filled with everything from short/basic to long/strenuous. It’s a comfortable camp experience with civilized stores and gift shop trinkets a short hike away, so if you’re interested in giving camping a try this would be a great place to do it! There are MANY primitive camps in California, so there is something to be said for this level of amenities and accommodations out in the woods!

Amanda McDowellComment
What I'm Loving | 9/16/2018
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PSA: Fall products are now at Trader Joe’s, and everything looks delicious. One of my favorite things about living here is being so close to a TJ’s for the first time — between that and Costco we get to try such a fun variety of foods.

Here's what I'm loving lately:


Reading :: I read The Heart’s Invisible Furies this week and was absolutely blown away. Novels that long focusing on one protagonist can often drag, but the story had such variety and depth that I found myself hungry for more. I also read The Little Book of Hygge (more on that in a minute) in about a day, and am now on The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living. I probably should have waited until further on in the winter to read this since it seems like it’s a Hallmark movie on paper, but sometimes you need comfort no matter the season.

Spare Time :: Safe to say I’m obsessed with ‘hygge’ now, and not even the lack of California seasons can bring me down. I’m wearing sweaters, I’m lighting candles, and I’m buying everything at Trader Joe’s that brings me joy. I’m also convinced I need to move to Copenhagen, but that’s slightly less attainable.

Etcetera ::  Between Costco and Imperfect Produce I’m always looking for ways to use things up before they go bad. Brussels Sprouts are in season and I love them, but I’ve never been able to roast a batch of restaurant-quality crispy Brussels…until this recipe. Something about baking in the balsamic AND doing the after-bake drizzle really sets these apart — I also add a sprinkle of parm if I’m feeling crazy. 😉