September is here, and that means it’s my birthday month! I couldn’t come up with much for my birthday list because I’ve been getting in the habit of getting myself small treats here and there.
First up, I have to sing the praises of Mast Brothers chocolate. This chocolate is so dark and potent that a small piece, smaller than a square inch, satisfies my chocolate craving (okay, maybe two pieces). I keep a bar of this in my drawer at work and it helps me get through the afternoon stretch! After becoming so accustomed to Mast Brothers, eating Hershey’s milk chocolate seems like a waste. As a result, I eat less sweets of a better quality. A win-win in my book! You’ve got to get a bar and you’ll see what I mean.
Second, after I got my new job back in March, I signed up for Julep Maven, a monthly nail polish (and other beauty items) subscription box. I thought getting nail polish month after month would get boring, but each month has new and exciting colors, and I can also swap items out for other things like lotion, lipstick, or restock on base coat (their base coat is seriously amazing) or topcoat. I’ve been pleased with the durability of the polish too, since I was disappointed with the other trendy brand, Essie.
My first box, last April
My July box got lost in the mail, so customer service credited my account. To make up for the lost box I added on three colors of nail polish. Since I selected three add-ons, they gifted me with two more! So, I got eight colors this month–definitely an early “me-gift” for my birthday! Usually subscribers receive two colors plus another beauty item, or three colors. I look forward to selecting my box each month and have been having so much fun doing my nails before work each week. Something I never dreamed would become part of my routine but I really enjoy it!
If you want to subscribe, click my referral link & use code FREEBOX for your first month free.
Lastly, I didn’t want Doug to feel left out, and we are constantly out of razors around here (therefore either not shaving or using seriously unhygienic borderline rusty old blades, don’t tell anyone). So I signed
him us up for Dollar Shave Club. Each month for $6 they will send us four fresh 4-blade razors. Win! We can select more or less as needed.
I forgot to add on an extra handle so this month Doug gets to be the first to try out the system, but next month I’ll get another handle. Ever since Julep Maven I have been getting on the subscription box train. So convenient and DSC is super affordable, too. Much cheaper than the Schick Quattro’s Doug had been picking up–super expensive even at Costco! If you want to give it a try (you can cancel anytime), use my referral link, and thank me later ;)
Note: The Julep and Dollar Shave Club links earn me a credit to apply to my own subscription. However, I’m only sharing because I’m a true convert, not because I was asked or paid to.
The Portland Ace! If you are an avid a follower of All The Blogs like I am, the Ace will be old hat to you by now. Of course, the Palm Springs Ace is (possibly) the most famous, but Portland was the first, and the minute I found out we were headed to Portland, I begged for a brief stay.
Staying at a good hotel has been a priority of mine for a while. No funky smells and no creepy desk employees– very important. Located in a good part of town, with cool amenities (we loved the Saguaro in Palm Springs and The Moonrise in St Louis for the aforementioned reasons) really make the experience worth the extra cost due to saved time and overall enjoyment factor.
Although, I’m a sucker for a free continental breakfast. Something not offered at fancy-schmancy places. Sad face.
We left the wedding reception a bit late, drove an hour, then checked in at The Ace after dark. Even so, I enforced my crazy blogger “put your luggage down and don’t touch anything” rule so I could snap the room before settling in. The photos are a bit grainy since they were taken at night.
Holy sliding wood panel, Batman. The barn-door style panel closed over the window, and was a nice touch. Blocked out the light and a lot of the sound. Enhanced the cool factor. Slid smoothly. I also soaked in the antique-style moldings and appreciated the wallpaper made from dictionary pages. Staying in creative places is so inspiring–I found a lot of ideas I’d like to emulate in our own home!
Small details were appreciated, like the sweets provided at check in (above right) and the extensive snack and drink options. Against our better judgement (I know it would have been cheaper elsewhere) we very thoroughly enjoyed the spring water, corn chips, and salsa.
Here’s the irrational part (we humans tend to be irrational beings). We paid the associated price for having a “cool” hotel, but didn’t even have our own bathroom in the room. Say what?
We had a little sink area, perfect for washing up, brushing teeth, putting on and taking off makeup, etc, but the real bathroom part was two doors down and shared by the rooms near us. It was strange, but surprisingly easy to get used to. The shower was super luxurious and I never had to, well, wait in line or anything to use the facilities. What a revolutionary concept! Or, should I say, a throwback concept–the building was really old and this is probably how most hotels used to be, and possibly still are in many parts of the world. Definitely a first for me (barring Hostels) but did not diminish my stay!
The more I thought about it, the more convinced I became that the old loft in Kansas we used to live in was at one point a hotel in this style. In that apartment, each room had a doorway accessing the hallway, and each room was about the same size (if not larger) than the room we stayed in. Epiphanies all over the place!
Of course, we were in one of the cheapest rooms at the Ace. Spend more, get your own bathroom. Such is life.
Monday morning we finally got to snag a spot (and a photo) in the iconic (and normally packed) lobby. Adjacent Stumptown Roasters does not have any tables or anything to sit at and enjoy their coffee, so patrons usually relax here. Of course we took some photos in the old-style photobooth as well, which I assume is an Ace staple since the locations in Palm Springs and Downtown Los Angeles have the same thing.
I was about ready to move in permanently! Cool location, cool decor, comfortable bed… and cable? Yeah, I so could have moved in permanently. Highly recommended.
Need a recommendation for where to stay? Check out my Your Turn section.
Time has been flying! Can’t believe I haven’t done a writeup on our quick Portland trip yet. In June we went up to the Portland area to attend the wedding of a good friend (Doug was an attendant). Friday and Saturday were spent in Washington about an hour away, doing wedding stuff. We picked up a rental car which was nice to have freedom, and useful as I actually got to perform tons of wedding prep duties.
We arrived at our friend’s house right across the state line in Washington. The picturesque town was enjoyable, and the weather was beautiful. Rainy, of course, which was expected, but it sure made for some nice light.
Friday night I had the privilege of attending my first bachelor party! Don’t worry, the guys were cool with it. When your close friend is a minister things stay pretty tame and generally involve lots of junk food, and just hanging out and joking around. We went to Portland where we had dinner, and ice cream (Ruby Jewel, I had honey lavender, yum) and stood in line for the famous Voodoo donuts. Pro tip: The line is not that long in the middle of the night! We brought a dozen back for everybody to have the next morning.
Saturday morning, the area was valiantly set up for the wedding, and then it poured. Serious rain for an hour or two. After it cleared up, and the seats were all toweled off, the show went off as planned. It was my handsome hubby’s first time as a groomsman!
And now for the scoop on Portland. The Thursday our plane touched down, we had some extra time to spend in Portland before heading to Washington. We checked in with a high school friend of mine and walked around “Trendy-Third,” 23rd St. We partook in the obligatory Salt and Straw ice cream (so good!) and had lunch at one of the McMenamin’s locations. What a neat concept–the restaurant owner owns dozens of locations and each is customized to the history and style of its building. Love this idea!
Trendy Third was lined with both small local shops and larger ones (like Williams-Sonoma). We walked up and down the length of the main area a few times, mostly talking and catching up, and not doing much shopping. Then, we overstayed our welcome by about 15 minutes and got a parking ticket! Thanks a lot, Portland! That evening we headed to Washington and you just read the recap of that above.
For our first day actually in Portland, we had brunch in the Ace’s restaurant, Clyde Common. The food was delicious but the portions were smaller than anticipated. Actually, this happened to me several times in Portland. Could it be that San Diego’s dynamite restaurant scene has made me piggy? (Spoiler alert: Yes, it has).
Other highlights of day one include spending a lot of time shopping/exploring at Powell’s City of Books and meeting with some other friends for a walk by the river and sushi for dinner.
The second morning was spent walking around the neighborhood and getting Stumptown Coffee and Blue Star donuts for breakfast. I had read online that Blue Star was better than the more famous Voodoo, and I have to agree– I preferred Blue Star. The glaze was tastier (I had lemon poppyseed and Doug had maple bacon) and the body of the donut was lighter and fluffier.
If it seems like most of this write up was about food, then you are correct! We spent lots of time windowshopping but not spending a lot of money (aside from a small pile of books at Powell’s) and we walked, walked, walked, watched a bit of the World Cup, and just enjoyed being off work in an exciting new city.
Come on back Friday for my writeup of the Ace Hotel! I got to check it off of my bucket list!
For more travel, be sure to check out my On The Road posts.