Birthday Girl, Part 2

From classic Shakespearean theatre to the great outdoors, my husband planned the perfect birthday weekend getaway!

We road tripped down to southern Oregon, stopping once at the In-N-Out in Grants Pass. It’s the closest location to Portland–about 4 hours away–and one of only two locations in the whole state. I mean, if it’s on the way, you gotta stop! This girl loves her burgers.

I snapped a pic of this road sign because it had both our destinations on it: the historic hotel where we would be staying at, and of course, the Festival itself.

My grandparents used to attend the Oregon Shakespeare Festival almost every year for their wedding anniversary (I always say they’re where my love for classic lit came from!). They both passed away when I was in my teens, but they weren’t far from my mind this weekend when we saw Romeo and Juliet.

We watched the famous play of star-crossed lovers performed underneath the stars in the Allen Elizabethan Theatre. It’s an outdoor theatre, and, though it was a chilly evening, it was such a treat.

Peacoat: H&M (similar) Striped Top: Adrianna Papell (similar here and here) Black Jeans: Topshop Clutch: Saint Laurent Shoes: Franco Sarto (similar)

I wore a wool coat over a long-sleeved blouse, but I was admittedly still a bit cold. Many playgoers brought blankets with them, which was definitely a good idea this time of year (the evening temperatures were in the mid 50’s). The play’s start time was 8pm and was almost three hours long (including an intermission in the middle).

As for the play itself, I very much enjoyed the set design, the Elizabethan-style costumes that had a modern edge, and the high quality caliber of the actors (we weren’t permitted to take photos inside the theatre itself due to copyright laws). Juliet’s performance was especially memorable–the actress balanced the character’s youthful innocence and fierce passion extremely well. My husband thought Friar Lawrence provided the perfect dose of humor and wit to the tragic nature of the play.

I first read this play in high school in my freshman English class, when I was 14 and quite near Juliet’s own age of 13. Like a lot of teenage girls, I was a bit fanciful then–the whole notion of love at first sight seemed romantic, and the idea of a secret elopement felt exciting and forbidden.

Now I’m 27 and–needless to say–have a bit more life experience under my belt. I studied the play several times in college, but something that struck me this time around was the fact that Romeo and Juliet share only four scenes together–technically five if you count the death scene at the end; however, they don’t speak with each other because at first Juliet is still asleep, and then by the time she wakes up, Romeo has already killed himself. This is one of the most iconic plays in English literature, and the title characters barely interact with each other!

And yet, four scenes is all it takes. The eloquence of Shakespeare’s writing, the immensity of what’s at stake, and the timeless romanticism of forbidden young love all make it the great tragedy that it is.

Before the play, we had dinner at Larks, a cozy local restaurant adjacent to the Ashland Springs Hotel. I had one of their daily specials (the salmon was excellent!), and I was grateful my husband had made reservations weeks prior to our visit because it was such a busy spot.

We’d also made our hotel reservations at Ashland Springs about 5 months prior (Ashland is a small town and the hotel is so conveniently located to the Festival–barely two blocks away!).

The next day, we headed out on Crater Lake Highway to–you guessed it!–Crater Lake National Park. I’ve lived in Oregon all my life, and yet I’ve never visited this famous site.

It was formed by the explosion of Mt. Mazuma over 7,000 years ago. The crater was filled in with water over time, gradually becoming what is now the deepest lake in the United States.

Hat: Portland Gear Jacket: Levi’s (color is Concrete Indigo) Hoodie: J. Crew (similar) Leggings: Nike (similar) Sneakers: Nike (similar here and here) Sunglasses: Ray-Ban Clubmaster

No filter needed for the incredible blue water of Crater Lake! It’s famous for its vibrant blue hue, and the intense sapphire color truly didn’t disappoint.

I’m no expert, but I learned that the remarkable blue color has to do with the lake’s depth and water purity. Since the water is so clear, sunlight is able to penetrate deep into the water and most of the colors on the light spectrum (red, orange, etc.) are absorbed. But the blue and violet light rays are reflected to the lake’s surface, creating that amazing blue.

We had planned a short hike at Crater Lake, but my husband was just getting over a cold and I was just starting to come down with one, so unfortunately neither of us were up to it. Next time!

I do recommend checking the weather and visibility before making the trek to Crater Lake. We had friends who went earlier in the summer, and they couldn’t see anything because of the smoke caused by the wildfires in Oregon and California.

All in all, it was the perfect birthday weekend! Thank you to my sweet husband for planning such a lovely trip with so many of my favorite activities. ❤️ I’m hoping we can take another visit down to Ashland next summer for some more plays! Is there ever such a thing as too much Shakespeare? 😉

Have a wonderful weekend, loves! Thank you for stopping by!

Sweet Summer

I’m really excited about today’s post because I’m sharing two of my favorite things: sundresses and sweets! Anyone who knows me is aware of my major sweet tooth, and there are several local bakeries and restaurants here in Portland that are my go-to spots.

But first, I’m sharing today’s sundress. This lovely maxi dress was a TJ Maxx find, and I absolutely adore this shade of purple. The fabric is also lightweight, which is ideal for the heat wave we’ve been having this week!

Heels: Nine West (similar) Dress: Love @ First Sight Similar purple dresses: here and here

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale floral dresses: here, here, and here

I linked above a variety of gorgeous sundresses in multiple styles and colors. Several are part of the Nordstrom Anniversary sale, so if you have a Nordstrom card you have early access (it opens to the public on July 20th). I picked up some fabulous items there yesterday. Seriously, this is one of the best sales of the year!

First up is my Portland ice cream pick: Ruby Jewel. I know that little scoop looks like your basic vanilla, but don’t be deceived. It’s my all-time favorite flavor, honey lavender. It’s light, refreshing, and the two flavors complement each other perfectly.

All their ingredients are sourced here locally, which makes their ice cream a wonderful representation of what the great Pacific Northwest has to offer.

Next is one of my favorite Portland restaurants, Papa Haydn, whose desserts are local legends (my husband and I went on our first date there! ❤️). Their French onion soup is one of the best I’ve had outside of Paris, and I love to follow up that savory soup with one of their decadent desserts.

We took my sister to the NW 23rd location to celebrate her high school graduation, and she adored their crème brûlée. I chose a seasonal coconut cake called “Lime in the Coconut.” The frosting was soooo creamy, and the lime filling added that perfect dash of tartness.

My next pick is Urban Fondue, located in trendy NW Portland, not far from Papa Haydn. My favorite dessert fondue is their bananas foster paired with an exquisitely crafted drink from Bartini, which is the adjacent restaurant located just next door.

Bartini has an extensive drink menu with over 100 cocktails (which you can order from at both Bartini and Urban Fondue). My personal drink of choice is their Tuscan Rosemary Lemon Drop (pictured above).

Bartini and Urban Fondue are wonderful options for celebrations. I’ve been to multiple birthdays and bachelorette parties at these two spots–we start out at Bartini for some flavorful cocktails and then follow it up with cheese and chocolate at Urban Fondue! I definitely recommend making reservations for Urban Fondue, especially if you’re planning to dine there on a weekend evening.

Last, but certainly not least, is French bakery St. Honoré Boulangerie (their map of the Paris metro makes me so nostalgic for the City of Light!). I’m a bit of a macaron fanatic (Paris’s famed shop Ladurée is my absolute favorite). Since I can’t make it to France for a macaron run and none of the stateside Ladurée locations are in Oregon, this sweet bakery is my go-to for a little dose of Paris in Portland.

I’m holding several of their current flavors below: Thai tea, strawberry rhubarb, coconut lime, and lemon.

Hope you all have the sweetest weekend and thank you for stopping by!

Burgers, Fries, and Sunny Skies

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Jean Jacket: Levi’s (similar) Sunglasses: Ray-Ban Choker: Topshop (similar)

It’s almost summer, and I can’t wait for the sunny days and warm nights that are coming our way (especially with all the rain and clouds we’ve had lately)! This week I’m sharing a classic summer food: burgers and sliders. Though let’s be real–I’ll eat at either of these restaurants no matter the season because they make my favorite burgers and sliders in all of Portland!

I’m pictured above, truly happy as can be, because I’m eating at one of my all-time faves: PDX Sliders. This highly-rated, local restaurant started as a food cart back in 2014, but now has two brick and mortar locations in southeast Portland. My personal slider of choice is the Tilikum, made of buttermilk fried chicken, topped with BBQ sauce, coleslaw, and aioli. Their PDX fries are amazing (fresh, crispy, and tossed in truffle salt).

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I’m also a huge fan of Little Big Burger! There are multiple locations in the Portland area and the surrounding suburbs, and they’ve even expanded with a few locations in other states. These fresh burgers are small but mighty (and oh so tasty!). The chain’s title explains what they’re famous for: small burgers a bit larger than your average slider, with a big beef patty. The chain uses Camden’s Catsup (made locally here in Portland), and it’s the perfect complement to their fries, which are cooked to perfection in white truffle oil.

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With sun and hot weather thankfully on the horizon, I stumbled across this lovely poem, full of beautiful imagery and eloquent wisdom, and just had to share it.

The Summer Day 

by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean–
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down —
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?

Both my siblings are graduating (one from high school and one from college), and this poem captured the fleeting nature of youth, of summer days, of life. I love how Mary Oliver asks those big existential questions: “Who made the world?” “Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?” Yet she also hones in on those small moments too–kneeling in grass, strolling through fields, the grasshopper eating sugar from her hand.

Yet it is the last four lines that struck me the most. The poet tells us she’s been outside all day, clearly enjoying herself. And she asks the reader a very poignant question, “what else should I have done?” What should she have done with her day, when–as she points out in the following line–we all have such limited time here in this world? In other words, she’s advising us to stop and notice the small things, to have those “idle and blessed” days doing what brings us joy.

The final two lines are inspiring and will stay with me for a long time: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Wild and precious aren’t words I often see in the same sentence, but the contrast they create is so perfect–“wild” evokes ideas of freedom and abandon, while “precious” brings to mind something delicate and sacred. And the notion of one’s life encompassing all those things? That’s how I, for one, aspire to live.

So go ahead. Eat the burger, the fries, or whatever your version of that might be. As I was reminded so vividly this week, we grow up, we graduate, we move on to new places and phases. Life is short, precious, and waits for no one.

Thank you so much for stopping by! Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!