FLASHBACK…to my 3/11 post Portland Bound. I promised a sequel and here it is. Recall my last reflections in the city…
That’s what this trip made me realized, that I don’t have to do anything too fancy and I can just be with people I love and do simple things and be satisfied. Like playing games after dinner or teasing my mom about how I feel she has replaced me with her new furry baby. Her Yorkie, Dallas, Dallas after the Dallas Cowboys of course. Talking with my auntie and brother or cleaning my mom’s kitchen after she makes me my favorite, fried pork chops and green beans. This trip was a major success but I couldn’t quite fit everything I wanted to do in. The Oregon coast is my second favorite place to go to the beach (my first is St. John, USVI) because you can walk forever in rubber boots a sweater and shorts and you’ll probably never see another person, no bikini necessary on this beach. It is so peaceful and I have to go back. So there will be a part two to this post but it won’t come until later this year. So keep coming back to my website, pretty please with a cherry on top. Subscribe, leave a comment or ask a question. I would love to hear about your Oregon experiences as well.
FLASH FORWARD…so I’m back flying into Portland to celebrate my Mom’s 60th birthday. She has decided to host us all in an Airbnb right on the beach in Walport, Oregon for four days. Major Costco runs, crab dinners, long walks on the beach and endless card games are sure to take place. We arrived after a near three hour drive from Portland and I am pleasantly surprised at how good I am getting at picking great Airbnbs. The house is right on the beach, its beautiful and large enough to accommodate seven adults. Once everyone was settled and seemed to be please with their rooms our getaway commenced. We spent days exploring the small shops in nearby Newport Beach, we even stumbled upon a farmers market. We tested clam chowder from several restaurants, we fished, and shopped. The weather was so good to us. It was cool and the sun made occasional appearances between clouds. We took long morning and afternoon walks on the beach. We got to get really close to a group of seals relaxing on the shore not too far from our house. At night we had large family style dinners. We stayed up late, talked, drank wine, and played games. We had a blast! It was peaceful and relaxing, and we couldn’t have asked for a better trip to the Oregon Coast.
Until next time.
Signing Out With Love,
Located in the Caribbean Sea, St. John is one of the three main islands that make up the United States Virgin Islands. Surrounded by the most beautiful water you’ll ever see, St. John will take your breath away. I have been to St. John a handful of times and always during carnival season. The first thing you should do when you arrive is get your hands on a cocktail called a pain killer. It consists of a mixture of coconut cream, orange and pineapple juices and the star of every good Caribbean drink, RUM, of course. It is traditionally topped off with a light dusting of nutmeg and some fresh fruit. This is my number one favorite drink of all time. It will get you in the spirit to embrace the slow and peaceful pace that native Caribbean people like to call “island time”.
If you are on St. John in the weeks prior to carnival you will get to experience the live music and dancing that is set up each night in the Village. It’s a main area in town where different food and drink stands pop up in a huge square anchored by a large stage and in the middle there is plenty of room to dance, eat and mingle. Every night we indulge in johnnycakes, chicken and pain killers from our favorite food stands. We listen to the live local music and dance. This gets everyone ready for the big party usually held on July 4th to celebrate the emancipation of the slaves. All day an amazing party parades through the streets, there are different groups in lavish costumes preforming dance routines and playing instruments. There are decorated floats playing music and hyping the crowd up. The weather is hot and the drinks are flowing. Carnival is definitely not to be missed, you’ve got to see it to believe it.
Days on the island should be spent laying on the gorgeous beaches and swimming and snorkeling in the Caribbean Sea. We stay at the Westin Hotel and Resort. It has a private beach, plenty of pools, restaurants and bars. They have an over water trampoline among other water toys and activities that will keep you entertained. But if you venture outside of your resort you’ll discover some amazing beaches. Hawksnest, Cinnamon and Maho are my go to spots. If you are feeling ambitious Hawknest has a fun trail over rocks that lead you to a secluded little stretch of sand that can temporarily serve as your own private beach. I also recommend booking a catamaran trip to nearby British Virgin Islands to experience The Baths at Virgin Gorda, White Bay and Soggy Dollar Bar. There are stunning sugar mill ruins spread around St. John to explore. They are stark reminders that although beautiful the Caribbean has a horrific history of slavery and oppression; it is an opportunity to reflect on how cruel mankind can be. Even in the midst of all the splendor such an ugly institution can thrive. But it is also a teaching opportunity to remind us that we must do better, because we know better.
Afternoons in St. John can be spent shopping at Mongoose Junction, eating ice cream, snacking, be lazy, followed by dinner at great restaurants. Some of my favorite restaurants on the island include Zozo’s at Caneel Bay, Skinny Legs, Miss Lucy’s and Ocean 362. Ocean 362 is the best place to enjoy a relaxing sunset with dinner. The incredible part is that the entire back side of the building does not have a wall, each floor is an open terrace which allows you to take full advantage of the view. The bar is on the top floor perched over Gallows Point it overlooks the surrounding islands, the water, and the slow onset of twinkling city lights that turn on as the sun fades. This island is pure magic you must visit for yourself.
Until next time.
Signing Out With Love,
I had a fun time reading This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper. This book is so entertaining in so many ways. You will go through every emotion while reading it. It follows Judd Foxman while he experiences a rather trying time in his life. As the saying goes, when it rains it pours. Judd must come to terms with some of the most difficult obstacles in life, a parent’s death and the demise of his marriage. The cherry on top, his family must suddenly come together to sit shiva for seven consecutive days in one house. Oh the drama that ensues will have you flowing amidst laughter and sadness to surprise and then to anger and back through in a loop of sentiments. The characters are easy to connect with and each of their stories touch and tangle together like all families to create a complicated and broken but loving and supportive chaos. A chaos that, unbeknownst to Judd, will carry him through to the other side of this wearisome time. This book was turned into film in 2014. However, you must read the book before you watch the movie, not because the movie is bad but because the book is always better, everybody knows that.
Signing Out with Love,
One of my favorite spots to spend the afternoon is at The Huntington Library and Gardens in San Marino, California. The best time to go is on a beautiful day in the month of April because everything is blooming and it’s warm but the heat isn’t unbearable. I have a few spots I love to sit and linger but it seems like every time I go I find something new to appreciate. I recommend doing a yearly pass to this garden or the garden of your choice, if you know you are going to go back it comes in handy and could end up saving you money in the long run.
The rose garden is spectacular in the spring. You’ll find artist who picked their favorite spot and set up their stands to paint the landscape. The koi fish in the Japanese and Chinese gardens are very friendly. The herb garden smells delicious in the spring and summer and sometimes you’ll find the most interesting exhibits in the various buildings throughout the grounds.
There is a traditional tea room that I have yet to try out. You need a reservation, just go on opentable.com to reserve your spot. Also there is a dining area in the Chinese garden where they serve great dishes. Last time I got crispy cauliflower lightly tossed in an Asian sauce over steamed white rice. Near the entrance you’ll find a beautiful gift shop and a store with all necessary refreshments you might need.
You should definitely take the time to check out this garden. When you live in a big city you really need places like this to get you back to nature. Let me know in the comments what you think and if you frequent any other gardens you might like to share, I’d love to hear about them. Until next time.
Signing Out with Love,
Turmeric is quickly becoming one of my favorite ingredients to have in the kitchen. It is grown in the roots of a plant that comes from India. Turmeric has a multitude of benefits to offer, most notable are its anti-inflammatory properties and its being studied as an asset to help fight against several diseases. So far I use it most often in the following three ways, turmeric fried rice, turmeric infused tea and in a turmeric and chai almond latte.
TURMERIC FRIED RICE
-2 teaspoons of sesame oil
-Half finely chopped onion
-3 minced cloves of garlic
-2 heaping tablespoons of fresh graded turmeric root
-.5 cup chopped broccoli or frozen peas (or both if you like)
-1 cup shredded carrots
–2-2.5 cups cooked white or brown rice
(I’ve also tried cauliflower rice, they are all great in this dish, Add shrimp or a pouched egg on top to make a meal of it.)
TURMERIC INFUSED TEA
For the tea I use a turmeric/ginger tea bag and I add a small square of fresh turmeric root to the cup while it steeps.
When I stop at a coffee shop eight times out of ten I end up coming out with an almond chia latte. However, I often find that most places make them too sweet so I add a half teaspoon to a teaspoon of the turmeric powder to the cup and stir; this helps to mellow out the sweetness of my almond chia lattes. It’s kind of like a play on golden milk along with the flavors of a chia latte. I have seen that some shops offer a turmeric latte, although I have never officially had one I’m sure they are delicious.
I have only been to New York one time, but this city blew me away. We stayed at the Marriott Marquis so everything seemed to be at our finger tips. I highly recommend this hotel for its proximity to the action. So much to tell, our trip began with a moment in the Lincoln Tunnel where all the cars were honking even though there was nowhere to go. After living in L.A. for so many years I never find traffic amusing but somehow I found myself laughing in this situation. I got chills in time square, the lights, the people and the rush took my breath away. We grabbed bagels one morning and walked to Central Park. In the park we caught a baseball game and climbed a huge rock with amazing views of skyscrapers bursting out over the trees. We took our time, we had conversation and we people watched. We walked everywhere, including to the Museum of Modern Art in the rain and we spent half a day in there exploring. We had fried plantains at a Cuban restaurant and Ruben sandwiches at Junior’s. We also went to the biggest Macy’s I have ever seen and we literally got lost inside. We got so hungry trying to find our way out that we ended up having lunch in Macy’s.
One night we took the subway to Harlem to see amateur night at the Apollo Theater. I can remember watching that show on television when I was a kid and then to sit in the theater were so many important artists got their chance at fame was surreal. We ate soul food in Spanish Harlem at this seductive little spot. I’m kicking myself because I don’t recall the name, but there was dancing and guitar and a low and constant chatter that serenaded us. Not like how loud restaurants can sometime get these days, it most definitely had a vibe. Harlem was so intoxicating to me; it brought to life all the things I have read about it. From recalling Malcom X’s Autobiography to James Baldwin’s Go Tell It on The Mountain, to stories at the Cotton Club, I could go on but I’ll stop before this gets to be a whole other subject. Needless to say, I was really glad to get to see it all first hand.
Let’s see what else; we bought flowers in Greenwich Village and saw the Wall Street Charging Bull which poses one of the most important questions in life… Do you take the bull by the horns or the balls? I’m still not quite sure. We saw Ground Zero, SoHo or South of Houston Street, Tribeca or Triangle Below Canal Street, and Smith&Wollenksky a famous steakhouse, the Flatiron Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Empire State Building, the Ferry that takes you to Long Island and the Statue of Liberty in the distance. We were there for four glorious days and I was so pleased that we could pack all this stuff in. This city made me feel care free and reckless; I had no worries for four unforgettable days wondering around this urban island on foot in whatever direction our interest seemed to point. I think it’s good to try to do a lot if it’s your first time somewhere, then when you do go back you have a foundation and you can try to narrow down your focus a bit.
New York knocked my socks off and I cannot wait to return. Until next time, I want to thank you for reading this post and invite you to come back and visit my site pretty please with a cherry on top. Click the follow button on the screen and you will be updated every time I have something fun for you to read or look at.
Signing Out With Love,