Tuesday, December 23, 2008

White Christmas

Remember that silly little snowstorm I blogged about last week? Well, it didn't stop... in fact it got much worse. Portland has not seen this much snow in decades. The city is so ill equipped, our county actually declared a state of emergency. Almost everything has been closed, including both of our places of employment. While we have been enjoying the snow days, we are SO OVER IT. I cannot wait for this stuff to melt, so life can return to normal! I haven't had anything to blog about in days, since we can barely leave the apartment.

The good news is, Paul's Mom and sister Erica made it in to PDX today!! The bad news though, is that both of his other siblings' flights yesterday were canceled due to the weather. So, they and Paul's Dad have had to change their travel plans and they are now driving up from Sacramento tomorrow. I am so happy they will still be able to get here, but I feel awful about how difficult it is for them. Stupid weather! My parents are due to arrive tomorrow, so I have my fingers crossed that their flights will go smoothly.

Day 1 of family Christmas has been great! Delicious lunch at Rogue, coffee break, and then a scrumptious, cozy dinner at Le Happy, a darling french creperie a few blocks away from us. I had a delectable crepe filled with goat cheese, caramelized onions, fresh green apples and bacon... mmmmm. It's going to be a good week.

Here are some pics I took of all the snow yesterday. It's insane!

This is at 12th and Glisan, 3 blocks from home:

People were walking down the middle of the streets everywhere, since a lot of sidewalks weren't cleared (things are in much better shape today though).

Think any of these cars are going anywhere?

And here is Paul, Mom Mayo and Erica at the Jameson Square Christmas tree tonight, on our way to Le Happy. Merry Christmas!


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Hilarious video

This was on CNN.com today. This video was taken from the balcony of someone's condo in the South Waterfront district a couple days ago. These clueless Portland drivers are so adorable. :)

Click here and make sure your sound is on!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Return to normalcy

When we were told this city shuts down when it snows... it was not an exaggeration. Portland experienced its first winter storm of the season yesterday, and life as we know it almost ceased to exist. We are getting some of the coldest air that we've had since the early 90s, I guess. In the downtown area, it probably only amounted to about 1.5 inches or so; however, the city will not use salt on roads. As a result, throughout the day all the packed down snow on roads turned to sheets of pure ice. By the time I got out of work, there were very few cars on the road or people on the streets - a little eerie actually. Stores, offices, and restaurants (although not VQ) all over the place shut down for the day because of the weather. What?!?! Even the bus system shut down. If you were to venture out by car, it was required to have snow chains on to drive on any highway in the metro area. Chains! Coming from a Michigan winter to this mass pandemonium is amusing to say the least. So, we were sequestered in our apartment for a night of movies and beer. Not the worst thing in the world, actually. :)

We did manage to get out on Saturday for a little fun though. We decided to hit The Benson Hotel downtown for some drinks and live jazz in their lobby. We had such a great time here. It felt like being transported to another era. The lobby is carved out of heavy, dark oak with these enormous dazzling chandeliers hanging above, deep red banquettes around the room, a grand staircase, roaring fireplace, jazz quartet tucked in the corner... I. love. it. We will definitely do this again.

Since I posted some photos of VQ in the autumn, I thought I'd share a few more recent shots too. These were taken yesterday when it started snowing. It made our tree look so darling.

We'll probably only see Portland look like this once a year...

Well we are T-minus one week until the family starts arriving! Cannot wait. I really hope it warms up before then...



Storm Watch 2008

Portland is in a state of crisis. There is nearly ONE INCH of snow on the ground. Life as we know it has slowed to a crawl.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Beer and beans and bicycles

Well, today didn't bring any real adventures, but we did do some cool stuff. :)

Paul made an amazingly delicious tortilla soup that we got to enjoy for lunch. I've never even had soup this good at a restaurant. It was awesome... and really pretty. :)

After lunch we hopped on our bikes and headed back over to the Belmont neighborhood. We stopped in for a beer at Green Dragon, which is a semi-divey but enormous bar. This place will be a blast in the summertime - they have a huge patio with a BBQ and basketball hoops. Only a few more months til warm weather!

After that we headed over to the Stumptown Annex for their 3pm cupping. I knew this was a coffee tasting, but I had no idea how involved it was going to be. I was very pleasantly surprised.

They do these tastings daily, and we happened to show up on a day when they were also using this tasting to train staff - we were pretty much the only non-Stumptown employees there. This brought one major perk. Today, in addition to their usual rotation, we were also able to taste their ultra-fancy Panama Esmerelda batches. We have been dying to know what this tastes like forever, since the beans cost $95 per 8 oz. bag. Yeah, $95 for a bag of coffee beans. I don't know who can afford to drink coffee like that.

The set-up began with eight different whole bean varietals, each with three cups in front.

When we were ready to begin, they came around and sent all the beans in the white cups through the grinder and set them back out so we could smell them all, and get a sense for the nose. They use three cups of each type of bean so that any defective or unripe beans in a batch can be identified more easily, as it would only show itself in one of the cups and would smell/taste different than the other two. This is the same process Stumptown goes through when deciding whether to buy a particular batch or from a particular farm.

The next step was adding just-below-boiling water to each cup. Once each cup had a moment to extract, we went around again to smell each cup. The nose on each cup changed dramatically in just this step.

Paul taking a whiff. :)

We also smelled each cup again after breaking the grounds on the surface with the back of a spoon, which produced a whole new explosion of aromatics. It's pretty amazing how each little step really changes the characteristics of the beans. Once it was actually time to taste, I must say I had a whole new level of appreciation for the coffee, since I was able to get to know each varietal first (is that silly?). And in case you're wondering - the Panama Esmerelda was AMAZING. I have never ever ever tasted anything like it. If we could afford to drink coffee like that, trust me, it would be worth every single penny. Wow.

They also have a pretty impressive collection of coffee-making gadgets, from press pots to vaccuum pots to vintage thingamajigs.

So, the best part about this awesome coffee experience is that it's FREE! Boy do I love that. We are thinking it would be a fun thing to do when our family is in town for Christmas. Family, I know you're reading... what do you think?

Now all hopped up on caffeine, we headed to a crazy event called Bike Craft. I love craft shows, and Paul loves cycling... Bike Craft was seriously like our worlds colliding. It was great!

Our first clue that we were getting close was the endless rows of parked bikes. Every single bike rack, tree, and sign post in a three block radius had a bike locked to it. It was quite the gathering.

It was actually pretty fun to be amongst so many cyclists - it felt like we were a part of something big. Especially when a pedestrian walking by us took off her headphones and asked us what the #$@% was going on. She didn't get it. :)

And I totally fell in love with these panniers. The designer (Queen Bee Creations) had a booth at the show with these lovely winged bags. I want!

So today was a good day! It is, however, the conclusion to my weekend... back to work tomorrow. :(

Only two more weeks until family is here!!


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sky on Fire

I was riding my bike home from work the other day along the riverfront at dusk, staring at Mt. Hood, which the sunset had turned bright pink. While I was staring off to the east, I noticed everyone around me was stopped in their tracks looking west. I almost fell off my bike when I saw what they were looking at - it was one of the craziest sunsets I've ever seen:

It really looked like the sky was on fire. It was fleeting, though... by the time I found a good spot to stop and take a picture, it had already diminished a great deal. By the time I got home and ran out on to the balcony, in hopes of getting an even better shot, it was gone completely. What a sweet 10 minutes though. There were literally people everywhere pulling out their phones and cameras to take pictures.

Paul and I have our day off together tomorrow, I wonder what sorts of adventures we'll get into this time...


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Sunshine Day

Since yesterday was ridiculously beautiful outside (see yesterday's post), we took advantage of it. We decided to head uphill and try and get some good photos of Mt. Hood, since it probably won't be out much more until Spring.

On our way out we swung through the South Waterfront neighborhood, one of the newest districts in Portland. Almost everything here is brand new, and they just keep building. It is largely apartments and condos at this point, but there are some cafes and coffee shops making their way in. There are also some great retirement communities going in here... moms and dads, we're talking to you...

Here are just a few of the new buildings there:

There is some pretty cool architecture going on as well. This one in particular is pretty neat, The Ardea. The main high-rise portion is shaped like a giant eyeball, so it's sort of elliptical but pointy on both ends.

It also has some great townhouse/condo units on the end - we just really liked the wood paneling and rain gardens that these had.

To us, cranes and construction are a welcome sight - it means progress and change and a functioning economy and good things happening! The only downfall to this neighborhood is that everything is brand new, so there isn't a whole lot of charm or character to it just yet. But, it is a work in progress, and it is sitting right on the beautiful Willamette River, so it would still be a great place to live!

We took the aerial tram 500 feet up, with our bikes, to get a better vantage point. I had never been on the tram before, it's pretty cool. You're in a giant capsule with windows.

This is the view from the top of the tram. You can see Mt. St. Helens in the skyline all the way to the left. Also... for the Mayos... the hotel you'll be staying at for Christmas is just to the left of where the highway splits and then crosses over itself. Just so ya know. :)

A tram on its way down:

We rode our bikes around until we found what looked like a good spot for photos. Really, the photos don't do it justice. The view was crystal clear. When you're standing there looking at Mt. Hood, it looks so giant and majestic... it just doesn't seem the same in a photo. Nonetheless, here are some of the better ones I got! Oh, for anyone that doesn't know, if you click on any of these photos it will bring it up in a new window at (almost) full size. Some of these might look cooler when they are big.

Peeking through the tree branches:

My attempt at setting a timer to take a shot of us. I pressed the button then ran toward Paul - it caught me just as I was grabbing him to stop myself!

Over the top of the South Waterfront area, where we were earlier.

That's Downtown in the background:

You can see Mt. St. Helens here through the branches:

A cool shot with Mt. St. Helens in the background, and three of Portland's bridges over the river:

We plan to take one day and ride around to each of the many cool bridges crossing the river and take photos. Each bridge is totally different, but they are all very cool. Stay tuned for that, I want to do it soon.



Welcome to December...

It's 55 degrees and sunny, clear blue skies. That is all.



Saturday, November 29, 2008

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree...

Last night we went to the Christmas Tree Lighting in Pioneer Square. I'm a sucker for anything Christmas. :) It was a pretty big event, so we ended up standing across the street from the square. That was all fine and good, except that the stage in the square was facing away from us, and they did not put up any speakers facing the crowds around the square. What that amounted to was about 40 minutes of "wah wah wah, wah wah wah wah" (remember how the adults talked in Peanuts cartoons?) and muffled music before any lights! After much anticipation, we heard a countdown break out in the crowd, and knew it was finally time. Wahoo! It was okay though, the crowds were mildly... entertaining?... in the meantime. Yeah, we'll go with that.

Here is the gigantic 75-foot Douglas Fir pre-lighting:

And voila! Post-lighting:

And for your viewing enjoyment, the countdown and actual lighting!

There you have it. Since the crowd was around 25,000 people (most of them trying to navigate the streets with litters of children and monster-truck-sized strollers), we hightailed it outta there as soon as it was lit!

I'm off to grab dinner at Cha! Cha! Cha!, the best cheap Mexican place ever!

Oh, in case you're reading, HAPPY BIRTHDAY KARIE! I hope my bestest cousin forever has a wonderful day and doesn't have to deal with too many ka-razy holiday shopppers. XOXO!


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Apparently I have chosen to liveblog Thanksgiving...

Oh man... so full. We just finished a most excellent dinner. Standing rib roast with a rosemary horseradish crust, garlic mashed potatoes that were absolute perfection, mashed sweet potatoes (not pictured, I took the pic before they were plated!), and green beans. Mmmmmmmmm.

No, it is not a trick of photography... the roast was really that gigantic. Needless to say, we have some leftovers. :)

Buckley even got a gourmet dinner: rib roast meat n' scraps, mashed sweet potatoes, and some kibble for crunch. He is one puppy that has much to be thankful for.

I think I'm officially done blogging for today. :) There is still pumpkin pie and whipped cream to come, so I need to lie down and let this food settle to make room!

Again, we hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving full of food and friends and family and awesomeness. Love to you all!

Jenny & Paul