Sunday, June 18, 2017

Overnight to the Oregon Coast

Manzanita, OR
Working as administration at a college means this time of year (only two weeks before graduation) is super busy and a long stretch ahead (as I don't get summer vacations like some colleagues). Every weeks starts with a big sigh in preparation for the unknown that may come through my door any moment. Knowing that chaos could be around the corner at any moment, I thought a quick mini-vacation may be in store. So the BF and I packed out bags for an overnight out at the Oregon Coast.

For those that don't know, the Oregon coast is just over 363 miles and none of it private. The entire Oregon coast is public and accessible to all. It's also spotted full of quaint tiny little ocean side towns. Sure there are the "bigger" (read: tourist hot spots) like Cannon Beach, Lincoln City and Astoria; but my favorite are the smaller less packed spots just on the other side of the city limits.

Camp 18 Restaurant and Museum

But not all the "hot spots" are out at the water, some are along the drive - like Camp 18; a logging museum and restaurant known for GIANT cinnamon rolls. We stopped on our way out for lunch and let me tell you I fell in love with their fish and chips! Better than any I've found in Portland! I'm already plotting my next trip out Hwy-26 so I can order another batch.

After lunch and a quick browse through the gift store, we headed out to the water. For our midweek mini vacation we headed to Manzanita, Oregon - population 600 - just south of Cannon Beach. Mountain hiking, stretch of sandy beach, beautiful look outs and delicious Mexican food!

Wait. What?

McOceans from Bread & Ocean
Yes, you heard me. For dinner Tuesday, after an hour long stroll along the water we headed to El Trio Loco for some delicious Mexican cuisine.

Lucky for us it was right next door to our motel. Which I highly recommend if anyone finds themselves out in Manzanita. Vanessa and the Spindrift Inn was perfect and exactly what we needed. Our room had a queen bed, two chairs and a table, mini-fridge/microwave/coffee pot (all of which came in handy for an early morning cup of joe) and all rooms have a back door that takes you to a private (adorable) patio area.

The next morning we walked through the little town, had giant breakfast sandwiches, did a little souvenir/gift shopping (including yummy Salt Water Taffy from Salt & Paper) before heading out of town.

Since we had gone the "northern" route to get to the coast, I thought why not continue heading south and make a quick detour through Tillamook? Now some of you may be familiar with Tillamook cheese. I know that before I moved to Oregon that was my only frame of reference. But did you know they do MORE than just cheese?! They also do regular and Greek yogurt, sour cream, and ice cream! So if you're ever in the area make sure to stop by the Tillamook Cheese Factory and indulge in one of their many yummy flavors.

With bellies full of Mudslide, Stumptown Cold Brew and Marionberry Cheesecake we headed back to Portland. It was a lovely way to end an absolutely amazing overnight to the Oregon coast.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Trip to the Bay: Food, Hikes, Wine

I realized I haven't posted since the end of February but so much has happened since then. In the last four-five months I've started a new relationship, made (easily) 120 delicious dinners, dived into a number of DIY beauty treatments and (oh yea) turned 34!

My thirties have been a pretty amazing decade and turning 34 hasn't been any different. This year I spent my birthday down in the Bay Area (San Francisco and Oakland) celebrating with one of my longest BFFs.

Bottom left is a new movie theatre built in the PDX airport - plays short films by local film makers

We had a whirlwind of adventures...and when you get Luke and I together you know there is going to be copious amounts of good food (he even went of the Whole 30 just for me).

Only the beginning of the delicious food we ate

We also then headed to Muir Woods so I could hug a Redwood (yes that was a goal for my birthday). Somehow, despite living in California for ~28 years I had never hiked Muir. It was stunning! Cold misty morning, cool enough for a jacket but dry enough to hike around for an hour or so.

I'm a tree hugger
After Muir Woods we headed over to Sonoma for an afternoon of wine tasting. Sonoma wine is just as wonderful as Napa but not nearly as "touristy". We had the Bartholomew Park Winery tasting room to ourselves and had a lovely conversation with the vineyards owner before heading to Gundlach Bundschu (the oldest single family owned vineyard in California). I bought a beautiful bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from Bartholomew and have tucked it away for a special occasion (perhaps my next birthday).

All but the bottom right is Bartholomew Vineyard - Cave is Gundlach
After a number of glasses of wine (thank you to a heavy handed pour) we grabbed ice cream and took a stroll through Old Town Sonoma.

I really couldn't have asked for a better birthday....but it did get better! Later in February my sister K took me to the 20th Anniversary performance of Rent, we had a tea party with family (celebrating all the winter babies) and the weekend after I returned I had my first date with my (now) new sweetheart.

Thirty four is shaping up to be a good year.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Samoa Cookie Bars

You ever have those days when you need to bake!? The other day it didn't matter what I just needed to mix, stir and turn on the oven. So I did some digging in my pantry and baking drawer (yes, I have a "baking drawer") and came across coconut flakes, chocolate chips and caramel candies.

What does that mean? Samoa Cookies!!

Now I made a similar cookie to this during the holidays (minus the chocolate) and during Girl Scout cookie season Samoas are always on the list. So why not make an easy at home version?

The family LOVED them! My older sister K even asked for a few to be set aside for when she came over next (there are three awaiting her in the freezer).

For something I whipped up last minute and out of my head, this may become a family favorite and go-to cookie.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Beauty Review: Charcoal Pore Strip Masks

I'm not usually one for "New Year's Resolutions". Unattainable goals that we cast aside less than a month in. But this year, I've decided on one that I think I'll be able to keep up. It's (basically) taking better care of my skin.

I'm not one who minds the thought or onset of wrinkles. They're smile lines. Road maps to the life I've lived. But I am (almost) 34 years old and have noticed some significant changes to my skin over the last few years.

Where I used to have strictly an oily complexion, it's changed to very much combination skin. I still tend to have break outs (whether because of a hormone change or when I know I've been bad at going to bed with makeup on), have discoloration and dry patches.

Now I've been MUCH better at not going to bed with makeup on. That really has been step number one. And I'm making a goal to increase my water intake more (gotta stay hydrated even in the winter months). So the last step is finding facial products that work for me and my skin - moisturizers, exfoliates, lip balms (pictured are a few of the products I've been trying lately).

I've been a user of Biore strips for years. Forehead, nose, chin....I was born with large pores and being an avid makeup wearer (and known sweater), Biore helps pull that last bit of oils out that exfoliates can't reach. So when the new fad of charcoal pore strip masks came onto the market! Hallelujah! Now I can clean out those craters anywhere on my face!

There are so many brands out there I basically searched "charcoal peel mask" into Amazon and this is what I came up with. I didn't realize when I bought it that it would be coming from China (China mainland requires products to be tested on animals and I try hard to avoid supporting companies who do - future blog). But this is what I have so figured give it a try and go with a different company next time around.

I've used it a few times now. Sometimes just across my nose, sometimes with cheeks...chin...forehead....etc. The trick has been to apply a thick enough product. Sure you don't want to be wasteful and too much makes the product drip like big black boogers. (Yuck I know). If you apply too thin it flakes more than peels.

You also want to make sure to peel UPwards. I'm sure there is something scientific/biologic about the way pores face, pulling out the gunk, etc. I just know that it's the tip I've heard from beauty bloggers, and the time I pulled sideways I didn't get nearly as much "gunk" as I knew was in there.

I only use it once every few weeks - I don't want to aggravate or irritate my pores. It's just one piece of a larger "Better Skin Care Regiment" that I'm trying for the new year.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

WHO doesn't love chocolate chip cookies? Whether soft and chewy or crispy with a snap! there's a cookie out there for for everyone. Personally? I love a soft and chewy cookie. Thick and fluffy with lots of chocolate chips!

I've spent years looking for the perfect recipe. Making slight changes, tweaking things just a little. In the end here is my go-to recipe:


2 1/4 C all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda (for an extra fluffy cookie)
2 sticks (1 C) unsalted butter, not warm but slightly soft to the touch*
1 1/4 C dark-brown sugar
1/4 C granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
Approx 2 C semi-sweet chocolate chips (okay sometimes I do 2 1/2 cups)

*Tip: When the butter is too warm it makes for flat melted cookies. This is also why I keep my dough in the fridge between batches.


1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add both sugars; and beat on medium speed until incorporated. Slowly add vanilla, and eggs. Beat until well mixed.

2) In another bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture until just combined. DO NOT OVER MIX! Stir in the chocolate chips gently with a large spoon (folding in the chips).

3) Drop heaping spoons of dough (2-3 TB worth) onto parchment paper lined baking sheets; about 2 inches apart. Bake approximately 12 minutes (give or take a few depending on your oven) until golden brown on the edges. Remove from oven and let cool* before transferring to a wire rack.

*Tip: I usually have 2 baking sheets I rotate, one in the oven and the other on the counter cooling with cookies. 

If you try my recipe, let me know how it goes?