A lot of bloggers I like post these little Friday “recommended reading” posts, and I came across a lot of stuff interesting to me this week (and last week) that I thought maybe some of my friends and readers would be interested in.

There’s a new book out in the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, but it’s written by a new author (Stieg Larssen passed away). This is a controversial development for fans of the series. Check out this interesting NPR piece for a couple of perspectives. I have the book on hold at the library and will be getting my mitts on it this weekend! Can’t wait.

Ever wonder why pop songs all sound the same? They are written by the same bald Scandinavians. This is a bummer, but most¬†of the songs are pretty solid so I guess they know what they’re doing.

Two San Diego-centric links: This cool old bandshell is a case study in the fact that San Diego almost always lets cool old things fall into disrepair. I feel we could be a little more like LA in this way (what with The Forum and the Hollywood Bowl, to name a couple). On the positive side, this very cool art installation (not sponsored by anyone, just the photographer/resident) gives me hope for neighborhood unity through diversity!

I’m trying my hardest to hop on the Podcast train. I need something to occupy my mind while exercising, and our condo’s workout room does not have a TV. So, like the rest of the internet, last week I discovered¬†Limetown which¬†from what I can tell after two episodes is like LOST meets Serial. Very highly recommended!!

I hope you like one or all of these links! Got something to share with me? Put it in the comments!

Portland, Oregon: 2015

Crazily enough, Doug and I found ourselves in Portland, Oregon just¬†52 weeks after our 2014 visit. Again, for the¬†wedding of a close friend from college days in Kansas. Life is funny sometimes, isn’t it?

keep portland weird small

We had the privilege of being invited to three weddings in May and June, and vacation days were quickly¬†being eaten away. For this reason, we made a trip to Portland and back, Saturday/Sunday, in about 36 hours!¬†Alaska Airlines, the company I have my rewards credit card through, offers an annual free/discounted “Companion Fare” to members so we only had to buy one flight (plus fees). Not bad! There were like five different events in Portland that weekend and hotel prices were skyrocketing so instead of staying at the Portland Ace like last time, we ended up at¬†an AirBnB which we loved. (It will get its own post.)

The first thing we did after getting off the plane (other than getting our rental car; we haven’t braved Portland public transit yet) was to get food. Our flight left San Diego around 6 and landed in Portland around 8 or 8:30… and we were hungry!¬†Luckily our AirBnB hosts had already e-mailed us a fun list of places to eat in their neighborhood so we chose one and were not disappointed. We ate at Helser’s on Alberta. If you watch Portlandia, you’ll remember an episode where the line for brunch stretches on for several miles. We were lucky enough to beat the 9am rush; but a line did form as we had our meal.

Helsers 2 small

helsers 1 small

June was the month I decided to go 30 days gluten-free, and I thought that Portland would be¬†a gluten-free utopia. Not so! Most restaurants had a few things¬†marked with an asterisk on the menu, but not as many as I’d assumed. I was still able to enjoy¬†delicious meals, though. Above, a yummy chorizo-potato hash with Tillamook cheddar cheese.

We stayed a little bit north of the up-and-coming Alberta Arts District. Last year, we stumbled across this area and so this time we were happy to explore it (as opposed to The Pearl District where we stayed/explored last time).

Alberta Arts District

Alberta Arts District

Alberta Arts District

The wedding itself was in the nearby town of Woodburn. I changed into my “wedding clothes” and put my makeup on at the Woodburn outlet mall. #improvising! The wedding venue was at a really pretty historic house, The Settlemier House. It was awesome! It reminded me of something from Gilmore Girls, which my friend (who got married) and I bonded over in college. So, all in all it was very appropriate. ;)

Settlemier House

The following morning we had breakfast at a gluten-free bakery called Tula, and drove all over the city window-shopping. I like how Portland seems big and small at the same time. Each neighborhood is totally walk-able, but to get from one side of town to the other in a car is also a breeze! (This conflicts with some reports I recently saw about Portland having terrible traffic. We must have missed rush hours!)

Tula Bakery

I have a number of friends up in the area and considering how our trip was so short, I just made a facebook event and suggested that we all meet at lunch at the same place at the same time. Some friends weren’t able to make it, but some were, and we had a great lunch together. I think it went really well considering the fact that Doug and I just dragged a bunch of strangers together to share a meal. I enjoyed it so much I just might pull the stunt again sometime!

Near Kennedy School

McMenamins Kennedy School

We all had lunch at McMenamins’ Kennedy School, which is an actual¬†elementary school turned hotel, restaurant, bar, and art cinema. What a great idea–turning a decommissioned building into something so creative! It was a good place for a somewhat large group.¬†The food was super reasonably priced and the large location was so fascinating to explore while waiting for others to arrive. The bathrooms are simply the old school bathrooms! It was like being in a time warp…

Portland Sign

This summer certainly was the year of quick weekend trips. I feel so fortunate to have had the chance to see so many of our loved ones, but it did leave me feeling pretty exhausted! I think that next year I am definitely going to take a week-long trip (take all my vacation days at once) instead of taking a Friday here, a Monday there. I think it will help recharge my batteries better. However, ¬†I sure did love feeling like a jet-setter all summer! ¬†Now I’m ready for fall!

The Ace Hotel Palm Springs

Not terribly long after¬†The Bucket List came out, I learned of The Ace Hotel in Palm Springs. Until this point I didn’t know there was anything cool in Palm Springs, and I had certainly never heard of a young person spending any time there. After looking into it, staying at The Ace was now on my newly-forming “bucket list.” Fast forward what, like 5+ years? Thanks to a coupon code, we made it happen for July 2015.

Ace Palm Springs

There are people out there who don’t understand staying in cool/nice hotels “just ’cause” when they could book a Super 8¬†for half the price. I don’t think that type of person has ever laid poolside at The Ace for two days¬†with zero responsibilities and no itinerary. I really do like doing things on vacation (gimme the Freedom Trail in Boston or the whole slew of Smithsonian museums in DC any day), but after a very crazy¬†spring semester at work and action-packed¬†summer (so many weekend trips!) it was nice to have a little getaway and no obligations.

A few years ago we got a good online rate for The Saguaro which we really liked, and I was curious to see what The Ace would be like since those two are the most popular “hipster” hotels in Palm Springs. We really liked The Ace in Portland so my expectations were pretty high.

Ace Palm Springs

Ace Palm Springs

Luckily, my expectations were met, nay, exceeded. The bed? comfortable. The room, a welcome cool retreat from the unrelenting July-in-Palm-Springs heat. Next let’s talk amenities. Not that we cracked into anything on the minibar (something like $5 for a bag of chips? $8 for water? and up &¬†up &¬†up), I like a place that gives you quality options. Also, the hooded caftan-style robes provided were the most addicting things to wear ever and had me contemplating buying one, but alas, they cost almost the price of the room. There was also¬†a record player on the bedside table with a pretty robust little speaker system and records to play! I planned ahead and brought along some favorite LPs as well.

The room’s interior was so inspiring! I liked the industrial-chic glossy sealed concrete floor, and the wood &¬†white color combinations. Someday we’d like to get a little bit more in-depth with redoing the inside of our condo and I definitely want to draw a lot of inspiration from The Ace’s clean and crisp vibe (including the Portland Ace, too).

Ace Palm Springs

Ace Palm Springs

We had originally planned on bringing Mosey along, so we got one of the dog-friendly rooms with a¬†patio and fireplace. After looking at the forecast for that weekend, (highs in the 110s!), we left him at¬†my parents’ house. Even sans pooch it was nice to have the large patio with locking gate. The afternoon we arrived with our friends, we shared lunch that we’d brought in a cooler (a really great way to save money). We could hang up our swimsuits and towels to dry– almost instantly in that heat! The fireplace was easy to operate, a simple light switch, but not needed. If staying at The Ace in the fall or winter, I think the fireplace in the evening would be very nice indeed.

Ace Palm Springs

Ace Palm Springs

The pools: When we arrived Sunday afternoon, the main pool was packed¬†and loud. The house DJ had things bumping. Locals can buy a pool day pass so it’s kind of a place to see and be seen, I think. There were no available¬†chairs so we went to the other, smaller pool where it was nice and quiet. They have these awesome, huge, circular padded poofs and my pals and I were able to snag one. The next day, Monday, the large pool was much quieter and the music they played was perfect for lazing in a pool chair, snoozing in that gray area between awake and asleep. And getting a killer sunburn (ouch).

Ace Palm Springs

Ace Palm Springs

The cool sunshades are what you’ll see a gazillion instagrams of… I wasn’t sure how they’d compare to a standard umbrella but let me tell you… game changer!! You can pivot them in any direction for ultimate sun blockage! Solid endorsement from me. Now I want one for my condo patio… The chairs are really cool, too. Not sure if you can see in the photo, but the backrest part of each chair had its own little canvas tent piece for ultimate sun protection.

Ace Palm Springs

Well, 700+ words later I guess you could say I enjoyed myself! I didn’t even get to touch on the brunch at King’s Highway, the on-site restaurant. Anyway, what a nice getaway not too far from home. Definitely more expensive than The Saguaro but if you can get a coupon, or if it’s a special occasion, I say The Ace is hard to beat!