Friday, August 29, 2014

Monthly Favorites // August

Well here we are, the end of August! Aka the unofficial "end" of summer...definitely bittersweet! 

Although I love summer and feel like this one flew by, I am really looking forward to fall. (And not gonna lie, I won't mind having a little break from the hot weather we've been having in Portland the past few months!) Cameron and I were actually planning on taking a little "babymoon" getaway to Vancouver, BC for Labor Day weekend, however, we recently decided to stay here in Portland instead. As much as I'd really like to see Vancouver, there are a lot of things that we'd really like to get done on the house and so we figured it made more sense to stay home and make some progress there, especially since September is going to be a very busy month for us! I'm excited about how things are coming together, and I'm looking forward to finally sharing some house photos!

But without further adieu, here are the things I've been loving this month!

Ice Cream Bars
A hot summer combined with being pregnant mean that I've been eating a lot of ice cream lately! However, this month I've been trying to cut down on buying pints of ice cream (because we always seems to eat those in one sitting...) and buy popsicles/ice cream bars instead...baby steps people :) This way, I still get a treat at night, but it's a little bit more reasonable serving size...and in the process I've discovered some really great ones! My favorites right now are the Salted Caramel Swirl Tillabars, which are covered in milk chocolate with salted caramel swirls and so good (I think they're only available on the West Coast though!) and Talenti Mediterranean Mint Pops, which are super minty gelato coated in dark chocolate and also amazing, especially because I love anything mint!

Caudalie Instant Foaming Cleanser Beauty Elixir
My sister has used this face wash for awhile and said good things about it, but it never really appealed to me. However, I decided to pick some up at the Caudalie store when we were in New York earlier this month, and I have really been liking it! I feel like it does a really good job of cleaning my skin without being too harsh or drying. My sister also raved about their Beauty Elixir so I decided to pick some of that up as well and it's awesome! I don't even really know what it's supposed to do, all I know is it's so refreshing (especially in the summer!) and I love the way it makes my skin feel. 
I feel like I've been slacking on my restaurant reviews here on the blog lately, but it's definitely not for a lack of going out! Normally, I like to try new places as often as possible and so if I go to a restaurant twice in a short period of time, that's definitely saying something! I ate at Stammtisch twice in August, and really enjoyed it both times. They have awesome German food and it's a fun atmosphere. (Their list of German beers looks great as well, but I can't comment on that...) So far, everything I've had there has been excellent and I'd highly recommend it if you're looking for good German food in Portland!


Stammtisch on Urbanspoon

Supper Club
What brought me to Stammtisch for a second time this month was Supper Club! This is a new thing that some of my friends in Portland have started doing this summer...basically it's like a book club, but instead of meeting up to discuss a book you just try a new restaurant and eat a lot. Much easier and more delicious :) We had a good group of ladies this month, and I'm looking forward to future outings!

Ok, this movie is so silly...but I absolutely LOVED it. It's got two of my favorite actors (Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler) and it's basically just a parody of romantic comedies. It wasn't very widely released in theaters I don't think, but it's available On-Demand/Amazon/I-Tunes. Cam and I watched it earlier this month, and I just thought it was hilarious. If you like rom-coms, definitely check it out :)

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of checking out the new bluemercury store that opened here in Portland! Basically it's a boutique apothecary type-store that carries luxury beauty, hair care, and skin care products along with having a spa on site.  As y'all know I am a total beauty junkie so this was right up my alley! bluemercury was nice enough to send me a box of samples prior to the opening, along with a gift card so I could go check out the store, so it was a perfect excuse to go shopping! At the store opening, they also had amazing cupcakes, which was really the cherry on top. The store is located at Bridgeport Village, and it's really lovely! There is a well-curated selection of products but it's not so large that you get overwhelmed. I'll definitely be back!

Smith's Rosebud Salve
I think I've featured some sort of lip balm in my monthly favorites all summer, but my lips have been extra dry during my pregnancy! One of the things I bought with my gift card at bluemercury was this tube of Smith's Rosebud Salve and I just had to get it. I used to use the Rosebud Salve that came in the tin for years and years and I loved the smell and how moisturizing it was...but I didn't like sticking my fingers in the tin to apply it, and so I stopped using it. This solves that problem perfectly!

Nature's Path Organic Honey Almond Granola
All summer, I've been loving eating fresh fruit with plain greek yogurt - it's refreshing yet filling on a hot day! I do like to add a little granola to the mix for some sweetness and crunch, but with the hot weather I haven't bothered to turn on my oven to make my own granola and so I've been using various store bought versions. I randomly picked up this granola at New Seasons and absolutely love it! It happens to be gluten-free, but that's not why I bought it at all...I just thought the honey almond flavor sounded good :) It's not too high in sugar, but doesn't have much in the way of nutrients either so it's something I use sparingly...but it really adds a lot to my yogurt bowls!

I borrowed this nail polish from my sister when we were in NYC because I wanted my nails a neutral color to go with the dress that I was wearing to the wedding we attended in Philly and this color was perfect! Although I love Essie's Sand Tropez, T&B is much more of a pink nude vs. a taupe nude, so I felt like it was much more flattering on my skin tone. It's such a pretty color that's perfect for summer, but you could definitely wear it all year long. Definitely a new favorite for me!

I am (very admittedly) a huge TSwift fan, so it probably comes as no surprise that her new video that was released earlier this month is on my list of favorites for August. Love her or hate her, there is no question that she's been pretty smart in terms of making career choices that have made her hugely successful. Plus, her songs are just so damn catchy! I'm pretty sure I've already listened to "Shake It Off" a million times, and I really love how fun and upbeat it is. She easily could have just been a one-hit wonder, but instead she's had four multi-platinum albums. She knows how to keep reinventing herself while still staying true to what people like about her, and she's really savvy when it comes to branding/social media, which I can appreciate. Apparently '1989' is her first completely "pop" album and if this first single is any indication, I think it's going to be a giant success!

Have a wonderful holiday weekend everyone!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Summer Fun // Visiting NYC



Last week, I shared some photos from a wedding that Cameron and I attended in Philadelphia; prior to the wedding, we went to visit my sister and her fiance in NYC! Even though it was a quick trip to the city, we had a really great time and so I wanted share some (ok, a lot of) photos from our visit!

As much as I love Portland, New York is definitely my favorite city! There's just something about it that's unlike anywhere else. I love the energy and I feel like I see something new each time I visit. And the nice thing is that because my sister lives there, we always have a reason to go back. That's why I feel like when we go, we can just enjoy it without feeling pressured to squeeze a bunch of things into one visit. And although I love going to shows and museums and seeing the sights, this particular visit we had such nice weather that we just enjoyed walking around...and eating, of course!

Before going to New York, the one thing that Cam said he really wanted to do was go to Katz's Deli. We've both been here before and it's super touristy (it's the restaurant from the "I'll have what she's having" scene of When Harry Met Sally) but it's so so good! Seriously, their pastrami reubens are out of this world! It's kind of chaotic, but worth trying if you're in NYC! (especially if you like reubens!)

Happy Cameron :)
I asked Cam to take a picture of me and this is what I got...a picture of Steve Buscemi. Ha!
I was happy about my sandwich...and then sad because there was no way I was going finish it! The portions are huge, plus being pregnant I get full much more quickly! But it was delish :)
After lunch, we spent the afternoon doing some shopping in Soho and enjoying the weather :)
And yes, I realize that it seems a little ridiculous to go to a shopping mecca like New York and go to Old Navy...but maternity clothes are expensive yo! And the ON in Soho happened to have a really good selection of maternity stuff, so I picked up a few pieces...and then made Cam carry them :)
After meeting up with my sister and Ben in Union Square, we headed to Brooklyn for dinner!
We ate at a really delicious restaurant called The Gorbals in Williamsburg which I'd highly recommend! It had a really eclectic menu with lots of interesting dishes, along with a sweet rooftop. 
(You can see some of the food pics from this restaurant, as well as the rest of the trip, on my Instagram!)
The next day, we had breakfast with my sister and Ben before work, and then headed out to do some more exploring! They live on the Upper East Side fairly close to the East River, and so this trip we had some time to check out the Carl Schurz Park, which is where Gracie Mansion is located (the official residence of the Mayor of NYC). It was a really nice place to enjoy the gorgeous weather!
We eventually made our way over to Central Park - we had thought about going to the MET, but since we've both been a few times, we figured we'd just enjoy the sunshine instead! :) Plus, we got to check out some new (to us) parts of the park we hadn't explored before, it's such a beautiful place!
After making our way through Central Park to the Upper West Side, we grabbed some cookies at Levain Bakery (so good!) and enjoyed all the gorgeous architecture in that part of the city!
We made our way down to Columbus Circle and you can kind of see that the temperature says on the CNN sign says 76 degrees - unheard of for New York City in August! It was seriously amazing :)
We met my sister at her office in Midtown and then headed to have a late lunch at one of her and Ben's favorite French spots - La Tarte Flambee! This place is legit and their tarte flambees are delicious :)
For dinner, we headed up to Harlem to try out Red Rooster!
It's owned by Marcus Samuelsson (of Food Network/Top Chef fame) and we've been wanting to try it for ages, so I'm glad we finally got around to it on this trip!
We started the evening with chicken & waffles and deviled eggs - they were both great, but the chicken and waffles stole the show for me! They were really simple, but perfectly cooked. For my meal, I had the mac & greens with maple bacon - it was definitely some of the best macaroni and cheese I've ever tried! The bacon and collard greens added so much flavor. It was a really filling dish though! And surprisingly, that little side salad it came with was also amazing because it was so perfectly dressed! Everyone really enjoyed their food, but it be prepared to leave this place absolutely stuffed!
Red Rooster is definitely a popular spot! I really enjoyed the vibe of the restaurant and the food was amazing! I'll admit though, it did feel almost little voyeuristic to go to Harlem, an area we'd probably never venture up to otherwise, just to go to this restaurant. Clearly lots of people do the same thing...but then there were a lot of homeless people around the restaurant who actually live in the area that provide quite a contrast to the people dining. It just felt a little strange to come up to Harlem to have "soul food" that's supposed to be influenced by the neighborhood...and then try to get in a cab out of there as fast as possible. I don't know if that makes sense, but if you go, you'll see what I mean...however, I did really like the restaurant and would recommend it!
We had a really great time staying with Melissa and Ben (their apartment is super cute!) and we had a quick breakfast with them before heading out of town to Philadelphia. We ate at Maison Kayser, which is a delicious French bakery that Melissa took me to on my last visit to NYC.
Had to get some pictures of us (sort of) matching :)

And then just like that, our trip to NYC was over...the time always goes by way too quickly!
We had a great visit though and I can't wait to go back soon! 

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