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In which we begin a Tampopo like quest…

April 29, 2010

The student learns from the wise old master

One of my points of obsession with Japanese culture (at least as depicted in literature & film) is the constant quest for “the best”. You want to be a baker, that’s great, but you must put your heart to the sticking place and become the best baker in all of Japan. The same goes for hair stylists, acupuncturists, flower arrangers… any small occupation or endeavor. It’s not as much competition as it is a striving for excellence- to become ichiban-desu. It seems to me (an obvious outsider) just part in parcel of what is a desire to refine every aspect of life to its most pure and perfect form. In the movie Tampopo –which is hilarious– the main character is striving to create the perfect bowl of udon (an admirable goal if you ask me- a dedicated lover of the doughy noodle soup). Unintentionally, Ethan and I began our own quest last night: to find the best sushi restaurant in Portland.  This place tends to be our standby, but last night we branched out and went here instead. We’ll need to give it another few tries before moving to next venue, but its ranking high on the list so far. The atmosphere is delightful, the warm sake is tasty, and I found myself eating things I don’t normally care for because they were prepared so well- it was a “maybe  I’ve liked this all along, I just never had it made right before…”  evening. I recommend the Geisha Roll and the Agedashi Tofu (which is served a bit differently than normal, but quite deliciously!).

So, are you questing after anything?

Westerners do NOT slurp their noodles...



What I’m loving:

These adorable measuring cups… how I covet them!


In which we buy things that other people get rid of…

April 23, 2010

Today I just wanted to post about my favorite thrift shops in Portland (well technically they’re not in Portland…). On a true thrifting day we hit these three and a few others along the line. Between them, I never come home empty handed.

My grandmother started taking me here when I was in elementary school. We’d come together on Wednesday’s early in the morning because that was senior day and you got half off on all color tags except one. The prices are so low here that she stopped going to Goodwill and Value Village altogether, because they were too expensive.  They consistently have nice things and low prices (even if you don’t qualify for the senior discount).

The second stop of our one-two-(three) punch is the goodwill right off mcloughlin blvd. I don’t mean “the bins”. There is a regular goodwill further south that is never picked through like the ones close in Portland.

Finally there is The Dig. So great! I love the clothes and the prices and have had some of my best vintage finds here!

Where do you like to do your thrifting?



What I’m Loving:

This book. Admittedly, I judged this book quite harshly long before I ever turned a page. I worked at a bookstore and as a bookseller, I felt duty bound to scoff at those works that became commercial runaways  – particularly if they are recommended by Oprah. I know. This is a dangerously hipster-ish attitude and I am not proud of it. It came from a good place (or at least an honest one). Many of those bestseller that take readers by storm really aren’t good books. To compound that, the books that truly deserve recognition are completely passed over. Such is the case in life – but you take a stand somewhere, right? WRONG! Lol, that was really dramatic. But what I mean to say is taking a stand should never be confused with becoming inflexible and rigid. As a bee and book lover I should have given the book as chance a long time ago. As it happened, a friend bought it for me and because it was a gift I decided to let go of my stubborn snobbishness and read it. I can hardly put it down. It references my favorite bee book (this one, mentioned in previous posts) and reads in many ways like the all-time classic, To Kill A Mockingbird. Plus, it goes very well with my current obsession with the south. Highly recommend it, especially for a summer read (Don’t you love to feel a connection with books based on weather?). What are you reading?

In which we answer some questions…

April 22, 2010

Because this is Portland (as oposed to my favorite place ever- Caketown), and because we here in Portland like our bars and recreation to come in an all-in-one package, our watering holes frequently offer much more than your standard drinks and fried foods.  Many go even further than providing entertainment of the musical/performance variety as well.  Today’s we’re going to talk about one of those “going further” activities. Trivia!

Gathering a few (or 15…) friends and goinging to one of the many Pub trivia nights throughout the city is a pretty wonderful way to spend an evening (especially since the smoking ban!).

Trivia nights are cheap, fun, and guaranteed to make you  feel like maybe you should have paid more attention in high school.  Plus, depending on where you go, trivia nights can be lucrative. Yep. That’s right. Some of them have cash prizes – though in those cases you often have to pay a small entrance fee. More commonly though, they offer prizes of free drinks and house gift cards.

My crew (remember that 15 I mentioned?) frequents this place for their every-other-Monday trivia night.  There are also trivia nights hosted here and here.

It’s a great way to test your knowledge and share both good food and drink with people you enjoy.

So, to any trivia heads out there: where is your favorite trivia night?



What I’m loving:

The South: In my recently begun, sort of “Away We Go“, quest I am interested in finding my ideal location. Inspired by one of my favorite fashion bloggers, this lovely lady, I have become fascinated with the south. Currently I can’t get Georgia off my mind (ha ha!)… or North Carolina. I know that I finding my perfect place probably needs to be more specific than a state, and I’m trying, but I really can’t seem to get any more specific in my romantic idling. Oh well. I have plenty of time (said the hare to the turtle…)

I am also really enjoying fruit flavored teas this week. Today  I especially love this kind and this kind. Perhaps my recent obsession with these lovely & refreshing fruit blends is based on the fact that every fiber of my being is looking forward to summer and the endless possibilities for sun tea…

On changing minds…

April 21, 2010

After much frustration, laziness, and confusion deliberation I decided to keep this here for the time being. I just can’t decide on the myriad of options and there’s no sense moving only to discover that I want to move yet again.

What are your thoughts on the best host?


What I’m loving:

Korean Instant Tea.

Travel daydreaming

On the start of summer…

April 8, 2010

Welcome Summer 2010, originally uploaded by cHeLa.B.

As a child (and this is something I forgot until just recently) I knew summer was on its way when my grandmother took me on our annual trip to Fred Meyer’s to buy a new pair of salt water sandals.  I both chafed at and delighted in this event. My grandmother was particular. I had to get navy, because navy matched more of my summer clothes than black and I was certainly not going to get red, which would clash with my pink clothes.They had to fit a certain way- i.e. they had to actually fit and not be 3 sizes too large as I like to wear my shoes back then (children are strange and myself more so). Can you see where the chafing might come from? Needless to say, I didn’t feel I could adequately express my individuality against the incredible strength of my grandmother’s pragmatism. But the trip wasn’t all repression from the man (or woman, in this case). There was also, of course, the stupendous significance of this trip; a significance that absolutely outweighed all restrictions: summer.

The purchase of saltwater sandals always meant that summer was around the corner, and in the whole of my life there has never been a season I’ve loved more than summer. Summer to me is warmth and happiness. Every aspect of summer life makes my heart lighter: the food, the activities, the long days, the feeling of endlessness; I love it all! Of course, I enjoy and even love aspects of the other seasons. Fall is beautiful and cozy, winter is both reflective and festive, and in spring the world comes alive again (not to mention when my birthday is!); but summer is where it’s at. Except… when it comes to footwear. Well, sandals anyway. For a varying reasons, but to my constant frustration, I have spent the last 15 years being foiled in my hunt for the perfect sandal.

In middle school  and throughout high school I went with whatever was trendy but never quite found the right pair. In college I sort of gave up and either wore flip-flops or tennies. Last year is occurred to me that I should try salties again, but when I went to Fred Meyer’s they were all sold out. I vowed that I wouldn’t miss them again. This week I bought my first pair since I was 7-years-old (est.). I hadn’t anticipated the rush I would get when I put them on my feet. They’re sooo comfortable and only get more so with wear. They look great with dresses, skirts, and ankle jeans (yep, I tried them on with different things when I got home). They were everything I’d imagined… and more.

I had completely forgotten about their seasonal implications and so I was completely unprepared for the giddy rush that came when I put my hands on them. I literally jumped up and down, transported to a younger self. I lost myself in visions of walking the trail to my favorite spots at Sauvie’s Island for beach days this summer (my vision oddly enough included awkwardly lugging a cooler while trying to maintain my hold on Quinn’s leash…why are you so realistic sometimes o’ brain of mine?). I could easily see myself riding my (Ethan’s) bike around town, my shoes strapped securely to my feet but affording the necessary air flow and support. Berry picking, going to the coast, and even short hikes- all of this flashed through my mind in a matter of ecstatic seconds. Again, needless to say, I bought two pairs. You know, just in case (god forbid) something happened to the first… that’s normal, right?

I was sad to see that the color selection, not to mention the stores that carry them at all, has dwindled drastically over our long separation. They only had black and white in adult sizes, and only had fuchsia and navy in addition to those in children’s sizes. What happened to the reds, oranges, yellows, and browns? I know they’re out there somewhere, but I have no idea of where. My usual skill at locating things I want to spend money on has deserted me here. I ended up buying two in black, but I was hoping for the dark brown, yellow, and/or orange.
So, do any of you Portlander’s out there know where I might find these colors? Or, does anyone know of a good website where I might purchase them?

Ultimately, I might try and pick up some fancy/ladylike sandals/wedges/espadrilles to complete my summer footwear, but right now I can’t imagine wearing anything other than my new standbys (unless of course I find them in other colors!!)



What I’m loving:

My friend Andrea’s new blog dedicated solely to books- of the children’s variety!

Colorful/fancy umbrellas like this and this. It is Springtime in the NW after all.

On City Living… with dogs

April 2, 2010

It’s easy for me to feel down about Portland. It’s my home town and I still live here, which for me – the girl who wanted to travel the world and have lovers in every port like a sailor sans the syphillis – is hard. Top that off with the fact that Portland is a destination City. No one is actually from Portland (except me) they’re the ones who traveled and left their nests (unlike me). They love Portland, often blindly and presumptuously.

Photo Courtesy of

Traditionally, Oregonians have held disdain for Californian’s “who come here and can’t drive their cars but can certainly drive our housing prices up!”, but its not just the Californians anymore. The “outsiders” are from everywhere! I don’t feel this way, new blood is good for a city, I just often wish I could be that new blood… somewhere else. Also, as a side note, I have to mention that the “outsiders” are the ones who can drive. It’s comically easy to get a license in Oregon and Portlanders are particularly horrendous drivers. Whoops- I’m already straying from the topic. Back to where we were… Oh yes! Where I still am- Portland.

While I often disparage of the fact that I live here, the terrible road conditions, and the “we’re so green” (even though we kind of are) attitude, every now and then I have to truly appreciate the city I was born and raised in. Especially now that I have a dog.

Portland is a friendly city to would-be animal caretakers. I had to be vague right there, because really, you can pretty much have any kind of animal in Portland. My neighbors have bunnies, chickens, and ducks in their front yard. On a busy street. It’s not rural. It’s urban sustainability. I would be allowed to keep up to three beehives on my property (smack dab in the middle of the city) if I got permission from my neighbors, and if I asked, my neighbors would probably be encouraging. I could have a python or a Lynx for the price of the animal and an inexpensive permit (I am not encouraging this!). And for those of us that have your run of the mill pets (cats & dogs), things get even better.

This week we took Quinn to a fenced dog park on 57th & Halsey. She ran freely, chasing and cavorting with other off-leash pups, much to Ethan’s and my delight. The park had a smattering of toys for the free use of patrons, complimentary doggie clean-up bags, and water for potentially thirsty pooches. All free,  all well-maintained, and all dedicated to dogs and their owners. It gets better still.

Should I have a hankering for breakfast, I can take Quinn along to the Tin Shed and we can enjoy together. She can order her repast from the dog menu while I choose mine from the human.

And if I was perhaps feeling like channeling my inner Princess Jasmine? I could take Quinn with me tothe Pied Cow – a local hookah bar that offers a sumptuous puppy platter perfect for the palates of our canine friends –  a perfect location for allowing both of us to bask in our own particular versions of  hedonistic delight (basking is a beloved hobby of mine).

And should I just feel like a beer? Well Ms. Quinn and I can take a walk down to the Lucky Lab and spend quality time… can dogs be trained to hold back your hair at the end of the night? (j/k!!!).

What this is all getting at is the fact that Portland is not only accessible to pet lovers, it caters to them. This is a wonderful trait about my city and truly makes me feel grateful to be here. There are certainly a million more great things about Portland, but right now I am finally and fully appreciating this aspect.



What I’m loving:

Organics to You: Organic Produce Delivery in Portland, Or.

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution – sign the petition!

A Few Good Beauty Products

April 1, 2010

I thought for fun it might be neat to try a “Indispensable to me…” thing, so here goes!

1. Like a lot of people out there, I have oily/problem skin (this will come up again in this list ~_~). I’ve been advised by numerous magazines, beauticians, and “people-who’ve-been-there” that a good way to combat some of this is to use a daily moisturizer after washing (which you should probably do, even if you don’t have a combative complexion). This is said to work by convincing your skin that it need not produce excess oil, since it’s already moisturized. I’ve tried many products and mostly found that, in my case, an acne moisturizer has the opposite effect and dries out my skin. This in turn causes my skin to flare up from dryness! This Christmas I decided to dedicate myself more to finding some facial products to stick with since, guess what, switching from one to another all the time can cause irritation as well (what doesn’t, really?!). Because I’d already decided to use#2 on this list I thought I’d stick with the Burt’s Bees line for my facial care (plus I love Bees and Bee byproducts and someday hope to be a beekeeper). I chose the carrot cream because it is thick, but not filmy, and has a nice scent.  Since I began using this my skin has begun to clear up, it’s not overnight, but it also seems a much healthier process (I tried proactive and it worked quickly and briefly and left my skin looking drab and dry).

2. My Great Aunt is past fifty and has skin that is as firm and glowing as a baby’s. I meant it. Her skin is gorgeous. How does she do it? Well she graciously shared her secret (simple) two-step process with Kay and I. The first step, the obvious “I still don’t know why you have to say this…” step, is wash your make-up off every day. This isn’t just key to good skin, it’s also important for basic facial hygiene – not washing your make-up off puts you at risk for infections/inflammations (such as stys). Her second step, her secret if you will, is to use a night cream. She began using night cream as a young woman and has used it religiously ever since. When I finally moved to take her advice I chose the Burt’s Bees Radiance line. My roommate (Trisha!) had begun using the body lotion (and a side note, if you are interested in the Radiance day cream, the body lotion has the same ingredients) and I really liked it.  The night cream, like all of the Radiance line, has a bit of shimmer, a lovely texture, and light smell. My skin has definitely seen an improvement since I began using this every night. It is really fantastic, and over the summer I might start using the body lotion for my face since it’s a bit lighter than the carrot cream and reflects natural light well (and right after I told you to stick with a product!).

3. While I don’t go to Toni & Guy regularly anymore, I do still love and support their S-Factor line. I love quite a few of their products and they work well with hair that is exposed to a lot of heat/processing. By far, my favorite and most used product in this line is the Flat Iron Shine Spray.  I get my hair relaxed once a year and use my straightener virtually every other day of the year.  This is a protectant as well as a shiner and it smells fantastic to boot!

4. For Christmas Ethan (with the help of Trisha) bought me the 24/7 Super Stash pack of Urban Decay eyeliners. IT IS AMAZING! I am desperately trying to figure our which colors I will get full pencils of and I have had no success! I’ll probably end up getting them all! Urban Decay liner is fantastic, a sort of hybrid between liquid and pencil, it goes on smooth and sets quickly. The colors show true and bright on any skin tone (I’ve seen this) and the company doesn’t test on animals. Now that I’ve had these I wont be going back to anything else.

5. Initially I bought this lip balm because it was pretty and I am a sucker for packaging… seriously, that’s probably where some of my appreciation of the Japanese comes from, they know how to package even the most mundane items. To be fair, I had used my friend’s a couple of times and new I would like it, but it was primarily an aesthetic purchase. I have two now and will probably soon by a third – not because they run out (these things last forever!), but because I want to have the other flavors. My favorite (picture) is Violet. It seems so luxurious to use a lip balm that is flavored like flowers. Lip balm isn’t where these lovely things end though. They can be used as emergency moisturizers for any dry patch (and do it well) and solid perfume in a pinch (or not, they do smell lovely). I carry violet around with me all the time, leave peach by my bed for late night dry lips, and and going to pick up orange soon…my excuse is that Violet is getting lonely in my purse (you can see where this is going, right?)

6. I told you we’d come back to the problem skin.  Even harder for me than finding a moisturizer was finding a face wash. Too harsh and I get dry irritated skin problems, not strong enough and I couldn’t wash off the excess oil properly. Thank heaven for the Burt’s Bees Complexion bar.  It works for both Ethan and I (and he has dry skin), is light and refreshing without harshness, and smells great (vegetal and herb-y in a good way). It lasts longer than your average container of face wash since it’s in bar form and you don’t use much. Beware of where you place it though because it is a bar soap and people will try to use it for hand-washing if there isn’t a clearer option.



What I’m Loving:

The Queen Must Die: And Other Affairs of Bees and Men. Written By William Longgood. ISBN: 978-0-393-30528-9

For Portland Shoppers:

  • You can find Burt’s Bees products all over town, I like to get them at Fred Meyer’s Stores.
  • I buy my Toni & Guy products directly from the salon, but that can get expensive. If you’re not running short on time head to Lloyd Center Mall and check out the trade secret, sometimes they carry S-Factor. If not, you can walk over to the Toni & Guy and pick them up.
  • Like Burt’s Bees, you can find Gal Collection lip balms at many stores throughout the Portland. Hands down though, I buy them at Escential Lotions & Oils. I LOVE this store. I have been going there for years with my family and it is an olfactory paradise. It is worth going solely for exploring a wonderful world of fragrance and pampering. I purchase the majority of my perfumes here, including when I get the urge to mix up my own. The prices are far lower than reasonable and the staff if always friendly and positive. You can also save by bringing your bottles back when you need a perfume refill.  They also sell essential/healing oils. I can’t say enough good things about this store. Highly recommended.
  • Urban decay products can be purchased at the Sephora stores at Clackamas Town Center as well as Washington Square (plus a number of other places). I’d go with online though.