Bushel & Peck Bakeshop

Bushel & Peck Bakeshop, Portland, Oregon

This time of year makes me want something warm to drink in my hand every hour of every day. Luckily, we live in a town blissfully full of coffee and tea shops, each with their own lovely little arrangements of goodies to go with them.

Bushel & Peck Bakeshop, Portland, Oregon

I love Bushel & Peck Bakeshop becuase it’s close to my office, because they make a bar with pretzels, almonds and caramel that is heaven and because it makes me nostalgic for the nights I’d spend the night at my friend Julie’s house when I was a kid, and her mom would tuck us in and tell us, “I love you a bushel and a peck, a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck.” This spot is also just a great, relaxing place to pull up a chair and unplug for a few minutes.

Bushel & Peck Bakeshop, Portland, Oregon

Bushel & Peck Bakeshop serves Trailhead Roasters coffee, Townshend’s Teas and and assortment of lovely specials for breakfast and lunch, or treats anytime. Pick a chair at the long farm table, grab a newspaper and prepare for a few minutes of hot-beverage zen.

Bushel & Peck Bakeshop, Portland, Oregon

Bushel & Peck Bakeshop is located at 3907 NE MLK Jr. Blvd. in NE Portland. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll go there now and get one of those caramel pretzel almond bars. Trust me.

Case Study Coffee

Case Study Coffee, Portland, Oregon

I could blog about coffee shops all day long here and never run out — and I don’t even drink coffee! But there’s something special about a place to sit and enjoy a warm beverage, a pastry and a moment of solitude. I love to hit a coffee shop in the morning as my day ramps up, or in the afternoon when I need a minute to sit and be quiet and be refreshed.

Case Study Coffee, Portland, Oregon

Case Study Coffee is located in NE Portland, in the Hollywood district (they’ve got another on SW 10th in downtown). It’s a light-filled cafe on NE Sandy Blvd. where you can find a warm cup of something — whether that’s Case Study’s own roast, or the full selection of Foxfire Teas they serve. Pair it with a pastry from local bakeries Nuvrei or gluten-free/vegan darling Petunia’s Pies and Pastries and you’ve got a real coffee shop moment.

Case Study Coffee, Portland, Oregon

Case Study Coffee is located at 5347 NE Sandy Blvd. Their downtown location is 802 SW 10th.

Cedo’s Falafel & Gyros

Cedo's Falafel & Gyros, Portland, Oregon

I love a falafel — I loved falafel before people knew what the heck falafel was. But I guess those are the street-cred perks of being a young vegetarian. My friend Alice introduced me to Cedo’s this year and it’s a favorite spot now. It’s simple, inexpensive and most of all, delicious.

Cedo's Falafel & Gyros, Portland, Oregon

At Cedo’s, I highly recommend the falafel sandwich or the mixed platter, which gives you options — falafel balls, hummus, baba ganouge etc. If you’re into meat, I hear the gyro’s good too. I love this place for lunch because it’s simple and easy.

Cedo's Falafel & Gyros, Portland, Oregon

Cedo’s Falafel & Gyros is located at 3901 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Find them on Yelp.

New Deal Cafe

New Deal Cafe, Portland, OR

Two years ago, Eric and I went on a two-week trip to India. We were there for a wedding (which meant I was working) and the wedding was one of the more stressful things I’ve ever been involved with. All in all, it wasn’t a super-relaxing trip. I’m so glad we went, but next time it’s going to be under different circumstances.

We only spent a couple days in Delhi, and the rest of the time we were in a smaller city in eastern India. I love Indian food, but eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner for 13 days started to get a little monotonous. Then, to top off the rest of the experience, I got some kind of water-borne illness on our last two days there. I drugged myself to the max just to get myself on the plane. I can’t ever remember wanting to be home so badly.

The next morning, we woke up in Amsterdam. As we got off the train at Amsterdam’s Centraal Station, the sun was just beginning to make an appearance and the bakeries began to open their doors. At last, I thought. The western world!

We ditched our suitcases and walked down the street, browsing for a place to have our first meal. It only took us a few steps and we were standing in front of an adorable cafe with an 8€ all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet with bacon, scrambled eggs, granola, yogurt, coffee and hash browns. I had barely eaten in two days.

I’m sure we didn’t represent our country very proudly that morning, inhaling plates of bacon and hardly saying a word to each other, except, “Breakfast is so good.” 

New Deal Cafe, Portland, OR

And you know what? Breakfast is so good. That’s why I’m so glad they serve it until 4 p.m. every single day at The New Deal Cafe in NE Portland. It’s welcoming and casual, you can camp out for awhile to work or read and the food is completely delicious. With specials like banana chocolate chip pancakes, how could you possibly go wrong?

New Deal Cafe, Portland, OR

The New Deal Cafe is located at 5250 NE Halsey St. Go for breakfast, anytime.

New Deal Cafe

Random Order Pie Cafe

Random Order Pie Cafe, Portland, Oregon

Allow me to take a moment to tell you about a pie. It was a coconut cream pie with a salted graham cracker crust. It was pretty delicious, if I do say so myself. I hand-toasted coconut flakes for the top, whipped the cream topping into foamy peaks and pressed the crust into the pan. Then I packed it across town to the Portland Pie-Off and entered it into — unbeknownst to me — the most popular category.

There were coconut cream pies, banana cream pies, chocolate cream pies and a few less-than-traditional concoctions. The competition was intimidating. The day was also on the warm side, which made me nervous about my freshly whipped cream. But we laid in the grass on our picnic blanket and let the judges do their work. I did happen to notice quite a few of them huddling around my pie in particular. That’s how I had the feeling I might win.

Random Order Pie Cafe, Portland, Oregon

I did win — in my division, at least — and even if I hadn’t, it was one of my most fun Portland afternoons. I’d like to make this my official request to bring the Portland Pie-Off back! I would totally enter again.

Incidentally, I made my blue-ribbon pie again about a month later for a party and it didn’t set up right. It was coconut soup and no one ate it. Pie can be tricky!

Random Order Pie Cafe, Portland, Oregon

I make a mean pie, but the folks at Random Order coffeehouse and pie shop could run circles around my blue-ribbon coconut cream. That’s why I love them. I love their caramel apple pie and really, every pie they make, and I keep going back for more. Who doesn’t love pie? As a side note, they make a really yummy vegan panini with a white bean spread. Don’t miss it on the lunch hour.

Random Order Pie Cafe, Portland, Oregon

Random Order is at 1800 NE Alberta St. Stop in for pie, cocktails or the aforementioned sandwich. They’re all good. Find Random Order on Twitter too!

pedX Shoes

pedX shoes, Portland, Oregon

Every summer, as the air started to turn a little colder, my mom would prep us for back-to-school shopping. She’d parade us over to Nordstrom for their summer sale and we’d get to pick out a few things for school, including a pair of shoes. That particular year, both Emily and I had our eyes on a new pair of Doc Martens.

“Really?” mom asked, holding the shoes up, their thick soles gleaming under the shoe department lights. “I know you girls think these are cute, but in your size, they’re going to look ridiculous.”

Thank goodness for power in numbers, because I probably would have believed her. But the oft-used “Those will look ridiculous in your size” speech comes from a place of my mom’s own insecurity about her feet looking big. It’s a little ironic, considering we both have bigger feet than she does. And they didn’t look ridiculous at all. We proudly laced up and headed to school in those Doc Martens when September rolled around.

pedX shoes is a space filled with beautiful light, beautiful shoes and the almost constant smell of waffle cones. How does anyone accomplish anything under these circumstances?!

pedX shoes, Portland, Oregon

This inspired women’s shoe shop — “shoe shangri la,” is just a couple doors down from the Alberta location of Salt & Straw, which is where that heavenly smell comes from. But what about the shoes? I sometimes have trouble with independent shoe stores since the styles are so particular to that store’s owner and feel. But in this case, whoever is picking the shoes should keep it up. They are all beautiful, but with just a hint of practicality — which I appreciate. And not one pair would look ridiculous in my size.

The staff here are over-and-above helpful and sweet, and welcoming too. Great for a browse or a shopping spree. And don’t miss the great sale section!

pedX shoes, Portland, Oregon

pedX shoes, 2005 NE Alberta in NE Portland’s Alberta Arts District. Check out their sister store Manifesto for men’s and women’s shoes. See also pedX’s Twitter and blog.

Eastbank Esplanade

Eastbank Esplanade, SE Portland, Oregon

I’m sure you won’t believe me, but I actually don’t know how I ended up in a taxi with six Marines zooming across Rome in the middle of the night. I was visiting a friend in college, and she met up with some other friends, and then we were heading somewhere else after the bars had closed their doors for the night. It just happened.

The taxi zoomed to a stop, just near the banks of the Tiber River. We unloaded, unsteadily, and moved as a pack across a bridge. It was beautiful (as you’d expect), the city lights reflecting off the surface of the water, and we all took it in as we crossed. A few of our friends in uniform had been drinking (perhaps a little too much?) and one of them slurred through a story — just a week before, he’d jumped into the Tiber, cowboy boots and all, while running from the police. As he’d sailed off a low bridge and into the polluted water below, he’d screamed, “I have diplomatic immunity!” and I guess that was the end of the chase.

Eastbank Esplanade, SE Portland, Oregon

Not the best image of Americans abroad, but sometimes taking in a city’s main waterway makes you feel invincible. The Eastbank Esplanade, which hugs the Willamette river on the east side of downtown Portland, is a really fun thoroughfare to walk, bike or take in the city skyline we hold so dear. Just don’t go about flaunting your diplomatic immunity.

Eastbank Esplanade, SE Portland, Oregon

The Eastbank Esplanade stretches along the east side of the Willamette river downtown Portland, starting near the Steel Bridge and heading south. It’s a splendid spot to bike, walk and take in the city skyline.

Sip Juice Cart

Sip Juice Cart, Portland, Oregon

We set up shop with a card table, a piece of recycled cardboard and some Country Time lemonade. There were at least four of us, between my sister Emily and the neighbor girls. We went three blocks away to the nearest intersection in our Beaverton suburb, to maximize traffic and therefore, profits. Then we used our impressive marketing acumen and I crossed the street from our awesome lemonade stand to lure in customers.

A big moving truck pulled up to the stop sign, and the man in the passenger seat rolled down his window and asked how much lemonade cost.

“25 cents!” I said, in my most salesmanlike tone. He seemed impressed with the value, and asked me to come closer to the truck so he could hand me his quarter.

Freshly primed on stranger danger videos, I panicked. Absolutely convinced that he was about to abduct me and out of sight from my friends and sister across the street from the massive truck, I froze for a second and then I went into fight-or-flight mode. I dropped my sign and I ran as fast as I could toward home. I turned the corner just as the truck moved, and my friends and sister saw, where I had been standing, just my sign on the ground. No sign of me.

So much for summer fun.

Sip Juice Cart, Portland, Oregon

It’s tough work selling juice from a stand, but that’s what they do at Sip Juice Cart.

On a very friendly personalized recommendation, I ordered the Sweet Greens juice, which has four kinds of greens plus apple juice for sweetness and ginger for a nice kick. It was delicately flavored and the satisfying color of the flesh of a perfectly ripe avocado. They also offer smoothies and vegan milkshakes, which looked pretty decadent. I think my favorite part about grabbing a quick afternoon juice here is the design of the place — in the back window of the trailer, you can see piles of fresh oranges, pineapples and other fruit just waiting to be juiced. You can sit on the picnic table and enjoy a moment of zen and it’s lovely.

Sip Juice Cart, Portland, Oregon

Sip, located at 2210 NE Alberta St. in NE Portland’s Alberta Arts District, is actually the second location of this fine cart. You can find the first one at 3029 SE 21st Ave. Follow them on Twitter, too!

Salt & Straw

Salt & Straw, Portland, Oregon

It was late (for the elementary-schools kids we were) and my dad had picked us up from our evening swim lessons at the Aloha Swim Center. This was great news, because my dad is a very soft touch. This guy didn’t need to be told twice that tonight, we were getting ice cream on our way home. His favorite was a DQ Peanut Buster Parfait, and so off to the Dairy Queen we headed. As our creaky brown Ford Aerostar lurched into the drive-thru, he turned to us with his most serious expression and said, “Girls. The no-tell rule is on.” We nodded our agreement solemnly. This was the pact.

Like most conscientious mothers of the 1980s, my mom did not want us out and about, willy-nilly, eating ice cream at all hours of the day and night. But we were kids, for crying out loud, and we had needs. So the no-tell rule was invented. We got the ice cream, had a rollicking good time and then we hid the evidence (including checking my sister Emily’s chin and upper lip for signs of chocolate and dumping any cups/spoons in the outside garbage can where mom was sure not to notice them.)

This particular night was a gorgeous one — summertime, the windows were rolled down and the sky was a soft grayish pink in the last few minutes of daylight. We didn’t talk, as we were all three engrossed in our Peanut Buster Parfaits. And then, just as my dad saw the police car out of his right peripheral vision, he noticed that he was speeding — and that the light 100 yards in front of him was turning from yellow to red.

“Girls, I’m about to get a ticket,” he said, as the car sailed through the light and the police car threw on its lights. Moments later, all the magic was gone. We were bathed in the flashing lights, and my appetite was ruined. I was a very sensitive kid, and the act of watching my infallible dad get pulled over and issued a ticket freaked me out to the core. I wondered for a moment if I’d throw up right there. My ice cream melted in the cupholder.

After that, we trudged home slowly, and went through the motions of hiding the trash (and my half-eaten sundae) before we went inside. My mom met us at the door and my dad gave her a look. “What happened?” she asked us. It was Emily that spoke first.

“Dad got a ticket for running a red light!” she practically screamed. I’m sure my dad really appreciated that. “And the lady at the drive-thru…” She trailed off, but it was too late. In her excitement to spill the beans about the ticket, she’d broken the code of the no-tell rule. We were busted.

“Lady at the drive-thru, huh?” mom asked. Emily turned red and sulked away. My dad offered his most sheepish grin and — with a communal laugh at the absurdity of the entire situation — all was forgiven.

Salt & Straw, Portland, Oregon

I heard once that in Portland, we eat more ice cream per capita than any other U.S. city. I have no idea if that stat is true, but judging by the lines around the block at Salt & Straw’s three locations rain or shine, I’d say there’s some truth to it. Salt & Straw isn’t Portland’s original artisan ice cream — it’s actually a relative newcomer in the local ice cream scene — but its slick branding and inventive flavors have made it a favorite with pretty much everyone. I haven’t met anyone yet who doesn’t like it.

When it comes to the flavors, bold choices like strawberry balsamic and goat cheese marionberry habañero are stars on the menu, but I usually prefer the really well-done classics. It’s usually a toss-up for me between the sea salt with caramel or freckled woodblock chocolate.  Don’t worry — the no-tell rule is on.

Salt & Straw, Portland, Oregon

Salt & Straw has such a popularity problem that they now have three locations. The original is at 2035 NE Alberta in the Alberta Arts District of NE Portland. Their other locations are on SE Division and NW 23rd. They have an ice cream pushcart on 1st Street in Lake Oswego, and if the past is any indication, I’m sure they’ll have a shop there soon.

Thicket

Thicket, Portland, Oregon

I didn’t grow up in the kind of family that went hiking. But my college boyfriend loved it, and all things outdoorsy.

The diplomatic way to describe myself back then is out of shape. Although there is some debate about whether I had been in shape before that. The bottom line? I didn’t have a lot of endurance, a lot of dexterity or a lot of experience hiking. But Eric didn’t know this, and suggested we hit a nearby trail for the day. I agreed.

Colonel Bob, in the Quinault Rainforest, is not what you would call “a beginner’s hike.” It’s steep, it’s long and it’s not for chubby girls who don’t work out. We arrived at the trailhead, my stomach churning with dread and anticipation, and we started to hike. We hiked down into a valley, down further.

“Isn’t this supposed to be an uphill hike?” I asked Eric, after about 30 minutes of steep downhill. We paused, we looked ahead and around, and we finally discovered that were were going the wrong way. By the time we got back to the trailhead, I was exhausted. And we hadn’t even started the hike. I had an elevation gain of 4,492 feet ahead of me. I wanted to cry.

I did not cry though — not right then. The crying happened later — a couple of hours later, when I was completely sapped of energy, my legs burned and my lungs burned and Eric had been carrying my backpack for at least a mile. I wanted to make it to the top so badly, so that he would see that I could be a good sport. But I just couldn’t keep going. I slumped down onto a stump and started to cry, a little over halfway up the hill.

“We have to go back,” I said. “I can’t hike anymore. I’m done.”

Thicket, Portland, Oregon

I’ve since made peace with hiking and I love it, but this was not a great place to start. I now love to appreciate the nature along the way, and my legs and lungs are usually up to the task (although I still haven’t been back up that particular peak).

Nature can be overwhelming or nature can be the perfect oasis from our daily lives. At Thicket, it’s an oasis. This hidden gem is just a half-block off Alberta on NE 23rd, and it’s a garden supply shop that’s set in what I wish my yard looked like.

It’s green and lush but it’s also a place to sit for a moment and be inspired. All the plants inside look like they were chosen individually and cared for. The whole place thrives, and I turned bright green with envy when I saw the overhead canopies and the vintage-inspired potting shed. This place is worth a peek, a stroll and a few deep breaths. You’ll be hooked.

Thicket, Portland, Oregon

Thicket, 4933 NE 23rd Ave. in the Alberta Arts District of NE Portland. Thicket also has an inspiring garden blog.