Tag Archives: travel

36 hours in Portland, Oregon

After receiving many requests for recommendations, I decided to do my own “weekend” in Portland for all to access. Having moved back to Hawaii last year, the best places I mention here are exactly where I head to the first chance I get. The best part is you don’t need a car! Book your ticket or get in your card and head to this foodie destination now.


5 p.m. Once you arrive on a Friday afternoon start your libations early with Happy Hour at Clyde Common in the up and coming “west end” part of SW Portland. A limited cocktail list is just $5 and their burger is just $6. Their known for their popcorn & fries. After years of attending this swanky restaurant bar I’m never disappointed. In the basement of the Ace Hotel, it attracts an audience that’s friendly to visitors and locals alike.

6 p.m. One of my favorite shops to peruse is just around the corner from Clyde, Frances May stocks all the designers you love but might not frequently purchase. Acme, Rachel Comey, Vena Cava, and you get the idea. Don’t skip the jewelry case, with lots of unique designers from New York and beyond you don’t see anywhere else in Portland. I’m somewhat of a dedicated experienced shopper, but even excluding that Buffalo Exchange in the Pearl district is by far my favorite place for unusual designer pieces, stellar boots, and you might even score  a cool bag if you time it right. Open until 9pm most nights to boot.

8 p.m. Head over to Grassa for a casual and cheap place for delicious made in-house italian pasta. With their selection varying nightly and using fresh ingredients it’s sure to please. Just a block away is a cavernous pre-prohibition era bar Kask. It buts up against the yummy German eatery Gruner on Alder street. Sharing it’s kitchen with Gruner it serves charcuterie plates that go perfectly with their long list of specialty cocktails. Like most bars in Portland, their selection of whiskeys, beers, and wines are top-notch.

10 p.m. Known for it’s rich musical scene, be sure to see who’s playing where. Mississippi studios, Aladdin Theater and the Wonder Ballroom to name a few. The Crystal Ballroom is one of the oldest venues around, with an original floating floor perfect for dancing on. Known for it’s kitch decor and 70s style eats, the Doug Fir Lounge is a quick jaunt across the river to the SE part of town.


10 a.m. Depending on how late you like to sleep in, start your morning at Tasty n’ Sons in the NE part of the city. Like most delicious places in Portland, they don’t take reservations. So you’re looking at waiting at least 20 mins on a weekend for seat. But that’s ok, sip coffee while you wait. With the same owners as Toro Bravo, the potatoes bravas is my every visit must. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, scouts honor. They serve everything family style, and everything arrives once it’s done, so get friendly with your guests and expect to share.

12 p.m. the Portland Farmer’s Market at PSU (Portland State University) is a don’t miss. Opening hours depend upon the time of year you’re visiting, but they are open generally from 8:30am-2pm mid March through mid December. It’s packed full of visitors and locals alike, beware of strollers blocking your every move. You’ll find amazing vendors from all over the state with samples galore. Bring back some hazelnuts, specialty salts, and cheeses. There are made to order food vendors too if you’re finding yourself peckish.

2 p.m. Walk off your indulgences or take the street car down near NW 3rd & Everett streets. There you’ll find a magical oasis inside Portland City proper, at the Lu San Chinese Garden. It’s absolutely stunning, and with a tea shop you can enjoy a relaxing couple of hours.

4 p.m. If you’re finding yourself afternoon stomach grumbles make your way to SW 10th & Alder streets. There you’ll find one of the large gatherings of food trucks. With so many options from Scottish fish & chips, Korean fusion burritos, and handmade Chinese noodles, let your curiosity get the best of you.

5 p.m. Just up the road on Alder you’ll find your way to the cutest home goods shops Canoe and Alder & co. Canoe specializes in perfectly designed goods for the home and office. Heath ceramics, Pendelton blankets, Comme des Garcons wallets just get your desire whet. Alder & co.’s owners travel to Europe and Japan seeking out unique linens, jewelry, kids toys, and clothing for the woman with refined taste. Odessa is another favorite slightly out of reach boutique full of designers I covet like Isabelle Marant, and other lesser well known french designers. Who said you said you can’t have desert before dinner? Cacao next to Odessa is a chocolate lovers dream. Drinking chocolate and coffee to sip as you people watch the parade of interesting characters calling PDX home.

6 p.m. If you’re energized and the weather is holding up for you, make your way either by street car or by foot up to NW 23rd street. Along 23rd street there are lots of adorable cute shops and one of three locations of Salt & Straw ice cream shops. You’ll know you reached your location when you spot the line wandering out the door. Honey Lavender and Salted Carmel are my must haves.

8 p.m. with a seemingly infinite amount of amazing restaurants popping up everyday in Portland how do you decide just where to eat? I go with what I crave, and I love Pok Pok.  Another spot that doesn’t take reservations, either go early or go late. And with their partner “waiting area” the Whiskey Soda Lounge, it’s not too shabby of a place to spend a saturday night. Order the house drink and my all time favorite cocktail the Tamarind Whiskey Sour. Pok Pok makes their own vinegars, and this drink makes their unique flavors shine.

10 p.m. If you haven’t had enough of Salt & Straw ice cream, you’re in luck, there’s one just down the street from Pok Pok.

11 p.m. If Jazz is more your thing, Jimmy Mak’s in the Pearl is always going on off on Friday & Saturday nights. Live acts from Portland and impressive musicians stop in for an appearance from all over the nation. Cozy and with late night food bites, this place is rocking past the 12 o’clock hour. Finding good live music in stumptown isn’t hard, you’ll likely stumble upon it without even looking.


10 a.m. Sleep in without worry. Irving Street Kitchen takes reservations. Specializing in a bit of southern taste like delicious chicken & waffles, they also cater to the less glutenous appetite with delicious french style scrambled eggs with crab. Fabulous specialty cocktails too.

12 p.m. Take a stroll through the Pearl district shops be sure to stop at Thea’s Vintage Living, Moule, Jonathan Adler, making your way to the spot of divine doughnuts at Blue Star.

If you still have time, take a ride through the gorge for some spectacular sights. You can imagine just how magical it must have been for Lewis & Clark.

Where to stay? I highly recommend finding a place using the popular site Airbnb. I recommend staying downtown near the Pearl district with easy access to public transport using Trimet. In fact you can even take the light rail train called the MAX directly from the airport to downtown. The Ace Hotel is a fun choice. What are you waiting for? Pack your bags!

A walk on Boston’s Freedom Trail

With Thanksgiving this week, I thought I would share my memorable 36 hours in Boston last month. I was impressed with how beautiful the city was, and just how old many parts remain. Boston’s T (light-rail) makes it impressively easy to get around. My childhood friend from Hawaii lives in Cambridge with her husband, and it was a delight to see Boston’s famous North End with her. After an amazing cannoli at Mike’s pastry and a pit stop at a delightful Italian grocery, I made my way along the Freedom trail. Exploring  on foot I was able to take my time, and really take in the history evident before me. Placards are all over the trail, with lots of great information. I didn’t bother doing a tour or downloading the audio tour, though I’m sure for some they add to the experience. If only the government shutdown hadn’t been happening the day I was there, I would have enjoyed walking up the Bunker hill monument to take in the views of the city. On my way back I had amazing fresh squid ink pasta with little necks and shrimp at the Daily Catch. If you have a chance, and don’t mind waiting for one of just 20 seats in this itty bitty restaurant, it’s absolutely worth it. Delicious!

This country hardly has a perfect past, but history is what it is, and it’s an impressive sight to see no matter where you stand. I’m still proud to be an American. Happy Thanksgiving.

Pittsburgh: a delightful surprise!

“You’re in Pittsburgh, what the heck for?” Was such a common sentiment friends expressed once they found out I was in the once industrial super city. A best friend of mine (yes folks, it’s a category as Mindy says) moved to the other P-town now three years ago. Missing my friend Nell, and taking the opportunity to see a new city, I jumped aboard JetBlue.

Not only is it the place of Andy Warhol’s birth, Mister Roger’s neighborhood, but it’s also a sports crazy town where the Sunday dress is black and gold jerseys. Get this, it also has the most bridges in the entire United States, with over 400! Take that other Bridgetowns! I only kid. But really I found Pittsburgh to be a hidden gem of cities.

Nell and I shopped, drank, ate, and toured sites that blew me away. One very special place was a day trip to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, just under a two hour drive from Pittsburgh proper. We spent another day on all six floors of the Andy Warhol museum downtown. A fun walk through Highland Park’s Victorian gardens, spotting the duck on the river, and hipster coffee shop were a bonus I didn’t expect. We even squeezed in a closet audit for Nell, and let’s be honest, she desperately needed it.

Overall, it’s a place I’d certainly go back to. There’s more to see, really. Hey Salon.com even calls Pittsburgh the most livable city in America. So there to all the haters, see what all the fuss is about and you might just shut your mouth.

Travel must: the perfect pouch

It’s travel season, and what do women need more than a good travel organizer or make-up bag? I’m not sure. It’s always on my list of things I need to find, i.e. a better one than I’ve got. I’m usually  using some freebie I got with my last “gift with purchase,” ugly but functions. And then I came across this…

leather pouch

Sound the horns, I can officially stop hunting. I found the perfect zippered pouch. It’s crafted by Meredith Bridges in Atlanta. Not in Georgia? Not to fret, you can find her well crafted goods on etsy.

Why is it so awesome? Let me count the ways. At 9″ long, it’s roomy enough for all my makeup brushes, so they don’t get crushed. And a good 4″ wide I can fit my large Bobbi Brown bronzer, Voluminous mascara, Nars multiple, and all the lip shimmers I need, plus it fits the kinda big Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer I wear daily (with SPF)!

At $75 it’s not a “bargain” but it’s as cute as it is durable thanks to industrial strength nylon threading and heavy-duty brass zipper.

Keep your musts on hand in your purse or in your suitcase. I can officially stop looking, I just want another one now.

I'm craving this mint one.

I’m craving this mint one.

On location: Kihei, Maui

Finding reprieve from the chaos going on elsewhere as I chill here on Maui. Escaped New York just in time to miss hurricane Sandy and subsequent flooding and fires. I had the best time there last week, and feel immensely grateful that I got to enjoy NYC before the destruction.

Today we just loved taking in the views from this “secret” beach just beyond the Four Seasons hotel in Wailea. If only everyday could be this pleasant and simple.

Here are my new Havianas i scored at the Guava Shop on Oahu. With just a touch of bling, like a simple diamond stud, to satisfy my inner princess desires.

More awesome NYC moments to be shared with you just as soon as I secure some wifi and upload all my photos.

My heart is with you NY!



Shopping: NYC

Shopping in New York City is not the same as shopping in any other US city. Coming from the west coast and Hawaii, it’s nearly shocking at the lack of customer service I’ve yet to experience at the vast number of stores I’ve already shopped at on this trip.

Exterior of Jeffrey in the Meatpacking district.

Some things to keep in mind when shopping in New York:

  1. You need to have a lot of $$$. 50 bucks magically vanishes from your wallet when you walk out the door.
  2. Have no expectation that anyone will help you, even at the big name stores. However at a boutique store in the meatpacking district a store Jeffrey blew my mind with such nice sales staff. In fact I was instantly humored when this guy asked if we could be boyfriend/girlfriend. New Yorkers were never accused of being timid.
  3. You need endurance, lots of it. Keep snacks like almonds and water in your purse.
  4. Other shoppers may have enjoyed a few cocktails at brunch before hand.
  5. Just like you, New Yorkers love a good bargain. Find the sales rack near the back wall, there are always a few gems hidden in there, though digging is required.
  6. Don’t be shocked at the checkout line, add 10% sales tax before you swipe your card. If you’re buying something big, have them ship it to your home address if you live in a state with cheaper sales tax.
  7. If you need another size in anything, say your prayers, it’s probably sold out. Fashionistas know a good thing when they see it. Act fast when you find something you like.
  8. Sales people act like they’re doing you a favor by ringing your stuff up. When they say they close at 8:30 pm, they really mean lights off, drawers closed at 8:30 pm. Though this was the case at Bloomingdales we did find a nice lady who helped scour the racks in the dark for any other pair of pants by the same maker as the ones I wanted to buy but were missing a tag. We were there, lights turning off, and she was the only one that would help us! We even had to leave through the employee exit. I couldn’t believe that they didn’t make sure all shoppers left before drawers started closing. This is unheard of at Nordstrom.
  9. True for street fairs: If you have to ask the price, it’s not set. Bargaining is necessary. If you don’t like a price, say so. And if you think it’s too much, walk away. Next time you walk by they may just be ready to sell it to you for the price you were willing to pay.
  10. Style doesn’t have to be expensive. Case in point: I purchased  $10 pair of earrings at a street market. Three different sales staff at super uber expensive Jeffrey commented on how much they liked them. Flattery or not, it was nice.
  11. NYC is a great place to find large bargain shopping stores like Loehmann’s & Century21. However the secret is out, so expect huge crowds and shared dressing rooms. Prepare by dressing in base layers that you can easily slip something over what you’re wearing to avoid exposing your skivvies to total strangers.
  12. Don’t put your purse down, or leave it in the dressing room, ever. This goes for everywhere, not just NY.
  13. In order to get what you want, you must be adamant and push back. Or you might just have to leave empty-handed.

So if you don’t LOVE to shop, shopping in the heart of NYC might be just too much. Enter the scene with caution. I love it here, and love shopping here, but it takes a true shopping junkie like me to deal with all the craziness shopping here entails. Look for more shopping tidbits and photos to come soon.

On Location: New York, New York!

Bright lights, big city. It’s my version of an adult playground.

Adjusting to the time change from Hawaii, a whole 6 hours behind, and taking in the experience of being in the big apple through all my five senses. Today we got completely drenched. Even after being in Portland for nearly 3 years, getting soaked in Manhattan is incomparable and vastly more painful. It wasn’t even cold today, but everything I was wearing and holding was wet and all I wanted to do was get in a hot bath. Can you blame me?

Aside from today’s icky weather, I’m not even sure how many times I’ve been to Manhattan. This is most certainly my third Fall in a row visiting one of my best friends and certainly best yoga teachers, Amy Defilippi. So far I’ve been in the city for 36 hours and taken in three different yoga classes by Amy at three different yoga studios. My favorite space so far has to be The Maha Padma Yoga Temple in Union Square. It’s a huge and elegant space, tall ceilings, light wood floors, clean props, and a gorgeous altar you face in front of floor to ceiling windows. If I lived here, I’d come to this space all the time!

Tomorrow starts the weekend and I’m hoping the weather be better as Mr. Weatherman promises. Fingers crossed.

Now for some shopping …

Keep Summer in the Air

Candles by Diptyque are a new obsession of mine, thanks to a recent introduction at Cielo Home.

Love the Gardenia scent, but I also have the Freesia. It keeps summer here just a wee bit longer, as the weather turns to fall.

The candles aren’t cheap at $60, but the claim is it’s just $1 an hour because they last 60 hours. And you’ll get to burn every last drop of wax, so nothing’s wasted.

I’ve barely made a dent in mine after several evening sessions, so I’ll keep you posted if the claim is indeed true.

Drink Chocolate

At Cacao. You can’t go wrong. For just $2, a shot of delicious drinking chocolate can be yours. Spiked with cinnamon, mexican spices, or extra creamy, they’re all so yumm.

It’s a purely decadent bargain. Stop in the next time you’re in town. 

Sabrina enjoying the cinnamon chocolate shot at Cacao on 13th Ave, Portland.

Oh Daddy … for the men in your lives

Oh dear, it’s that time again. What the heck do I get the men in my family? Another knife? Grill? Tie? Money clip? How about this awesome gift set from the Art of Shaving! The real deal shave is back big time, especially here in Portland. Gift sets are always a great way to get acquainted with a new line, for less. At $100 it’s substantially less than a watch (well make that a Burberry), and more than a pair of boxers. I think it could be just right for that extra Y chromosome you know.

The Art of Shaving ‘The 4 Elements of the Perfect Shave®