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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

My Portland Coffee Tour - Part 16

You probably thought this series was done, but no. There are are still a bunch of coffee shops in Portland for me to get to. I got to two in the last two months (sorry, but my life has been super busy with no time to go out for coffee), but I also went to an awesome place in Anaheim while my friend and I were at Disney.

Photo credit: Nathan Dumlao
I've spent a fair amount of time planning brunches and shuttling my mom to doctor appointments, so I was able to check out two shops in close proximity to each other that I've been wanting to try.

Fairlane Coffee

This shop has a small, but inviting, storefront and I was instantly drawn to it.

Fairlane is very Portland-y looking inside: industrial with warm woods. There's a cement floor, metal chairs and an outdoorsy theme throughout. Imagine a lumberjack opened a coffee joint and you've got Fairlane.  

The case here is full of yummy looking pastries, plus there are a ton of awesome-sounding sandwiches on the menu as well, but I was just in the mood for a specialty coffee since we had just had breakfast across the street. I ordered the Crater Lake ($4.25) which is essentially a vanilla, honey and lavender latte. If you love the soothing smell and subtle flavor of lavender, then this twist on an old favorite is going to be right up your alley. I'll definitely be going back when I am in the area again.


Right around the corner fromFairlane is Kahveology (which is also across the street from a Starbucks, because Portland). It's bigger and a bit brighter with unfinished features, like this particle board counter and lapship wall. They brew with Oatly oat milk, which you know how I feel about (if you don't, I love it), but apparently, you have to pay an extra $.75 to get, and also serve Kombucha (which I hate with a passion). 

Eric was with me and we ordered an Americano ($3 -me) and a white chocolate mocha ($5.25 , because oat milk - him). I wasn't enamored by either drink. I felt the Americano, which I'm told is one of their most popular drinks, didn't have the full body I look for in a coffee. I also felt that the mocha was not that strong and wasn't worth the price. If I have the choice, I'll head around the corner instead.

Creme & Sugar Anaheim

I've been following Creme & Sugar on Instagram (are you surprised?) and have been drooling over their unicorn lattes and milkshakes. I wasn't able to hit up the shop in Vegas for cotton candy burrito, so I found this place instead. While not exactly the same, the calories are probably up there. 

I found out they had all the Butterbeer options and drove 20 minutes to indulge.  I mean, we were going to Universal the next day for Butterbeer at the Wizarding World, but why not pre-game a little bit? I was dead set on the Butter Latte ($7.25) piled with a mountain of whipped cream, butterscotch drizzle, gold sprinkles and a lightning bolt (as a nod to Harry himself). It was just as delicious as I expected and as big as my head. You don't get a choice of size. It's on the Epic Lattes menu. 

I forced Mel to order something ridiculous on me (or is it Riddikulus?) and she opted for the Butterbeer Float ($8), which also gives you the rest of the butterscotch soda that didn't fit in the glass. It also was covered in butterscotch drizzle, gold sprinkles, that adorable lightning bolt, but also gold Sixlets. She couldn't finish it and I wasn't surprised. Look at that thing!

The shop itself is a mish-mash of amazing things: unicorns, rainbows, cake, ice cream, antiques. It's right next door to a pizza parlour and a nice family came in after they had eaten there and were asking us questions about it. They were a little surprised that we had never been there before and we had a nice chat about their yearly trips to Portland and what we were doing in Anaheim. If you are dying for a good ice cream, float or coffee that's mostly sugar, this is the place for you. It rivaled my "official" Butterbeers at Universal.

So, next month I'll try to bring you more coffee from actual Portland. I should have more time to get out and about and enjoy a cup (or 5) of locally-brewed Joe.

What are your favorite coffee shops where you live or from your travels?

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Free Art in Los Angeles

Los Angeles is full of culture and art and, even though the city is expensive, a lot of it is free. I went into planning a trip to Disney with some partial days in the city that didn't cost a fortune. I asked for help from my friends online and they offered a few great ideas. 

While walking around the city to go to brunch and hit up a gallery we found some awesome street art. We also found some great murals downtown while wandering back to our car. I loved this skeletal cat. It pays to look down wherever you go.

We saw this amazing artwork on the back of a building.
This was a fab mural that was obviously commissioned by the city. The whole block had murals on the buildings and made for amazing backdrops and photo ops.

I was able to snag some free tickets to The Broad. Apparently, these tickets can be hard to get, even though they don't cost anything. If you're headed to Los Angeles, jump online and get yours ahead of time and then enjoy two floors of modern art - even if you don't love modern art, because there seemed to be enough for everyone to make it worth the trip.

This huge painting had a huge haunted house vibe to me, hence the scared faces. 

The Broad actually features a lot of well-known artists that you weren't even aware you could see in a free gallery, though I did see a Picasso in London for free, but it was also hanging next to a starfish with a Barbie shoe, so it sort of took away from the awesomeness.

The artwork here rotates, but on the day we were visiting, we saw a handful of artists both of us actually knew of: Koons, Lichtenstein, Warhol, Jasper Johns, and Rauschenberg were just a few.

On a slightly more fun note, a friend recommended Gallery 1988. It's a small gallery that features local artist's pop culture work. The one room was full of small paper cut art, like this one with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Love!

Here are a few other pieces in that room. Click on the photo to see the pieces in full resolution. I was so excited about 90% of the stuff here, because it was almost all cartoon-related, which I love.

As you can see, the rooms are not large, nor are there a ton of things to see on the walls, but there are a few racks full of a larger selection of art big and small. I, honestly, could have blown my whole budget here. Much of the work is really affordable, but not if you buy 30 pieces. I took down the name of some of my favorite artists there to find online later. If you like pop culture, you should definitely take the time to browse what's on display. 

These are just a few of the places we found free art, but I know downtown has more galleries and way more street art if you have more time. You'll even see giant murals beautifying the sides of the freeways, which makes for a nicer drive, even if only for a few minutes.

What are you favorite cities for art?

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Our Visit to OUE Skyspace LA

A few years ago I heard about the opening of OUE Skyspace, which offered a 360-degree view of Los Angeles from the top of the US Bank building. I'm all for an amazing view and something different than the Seattle Space Needle (which just got an overhaul). Skyspace boasted a glass slide on the side of the building and I just knew I needed to visit.

We were going to have some free time before we hit up Universal and Disneyland on this most recent trip and we were flying into LAX, so I contacted Skyspace to see if they would host my friend and I. 

You ride up their swanky elevator to the 56th floor for a bit of an overview of the attraction, and probably a bit of a fun place to wait if the top floor is overcrowded. Once done with that, you ride up to the 70th floor for awesomeness! 

Here you'll find several different balconies showing you varying views of the city and mountains. Each balcony that surrounds the building is a bit different to make it fun to check each one out, aside from the awesome views. This one had plenty of binoculars to see high and low, but also enough straight views for you to just take a ton of photos without bars or links in your way like many other viewing platforms I've visited. It's hard to show off your pics when it looks like you took them from a prison.

I love how the glass gives you unobstructed views all around the building. These buildings are tall, but still super small compared to the building where Skyspace is. You can still see the mountains over them. Look how few green spaces there are in Los Angeles.

You can even see the Hollywood sign way over there. Sorry about the smoggy air, but the fires on the West Coast are out of control this summer.

If you want to just chill, Skyspace has a bar and cafe. You can kick back and eat a little something, sip on a cocktail, local beer, or wine (or a non-alcoholic beverage), while still taking in the skyline. 

There are tons of places to sit inside and out, plus these awesome touchscreens that show you different landmarks around the city that you can see from where you're standing.

Look at this fancy mid-century modern set up. Doesn't it just make you want to chill with your friends with a libation? They're a bit spendy, but not much more than you would spend elsewhere in LA, and with a way better view than anywhere else you could be drinking.

Skyspace boasts different art installations and right now they have these fantastic Colette Miller wings to turn you into a fantastic creature. It's like you're soaring over LA, because you kind of are. Look at that view behind me!

Okay, let's talk about the real reason you wantto visit Skyspace: the Skyslide. This glassslide takesyou (quickly) from floor 70 to floor 69. 

Here's the view from the start of the slide. Beautiful. If you're afraid of heights, don't worry. Once you get going, you don't have time to be scared. The mats you use are extra slippy, so there are no worries about getting stuck halfway either. You come down fast to land on a cushy mat. Here's a Boomerang I took of my friend Melisa on the slide.

I would highly recommend a visit to OUE Skyspace next time you're in LA. It's a fun new way to experience the city, plus there's a great underground parking garage across the street that they will validate. Spend as much or as little time as you like there and then walk around downtown to see other iconic LA landmarks that you may have seen from up above: The Broad Museum, Capital Records, the wavy metallic Walt Disney Concert Hall. There's so much to do and a lot of great places to eat if you haven't partaken up at Skyspace. 

What else do you need to know? General admission rates start at just $19, but there are deals where you can get two admissions for the day, so you can see LA during the day and at night. Add a ride on the Skyslide for just $8. It's definitely worth it for your first visit. 

Saturday and Sunday you can bring your family for Family Funday at a discounted rate between 10am and 2pm, which includes unlimited Skyslide rides for your kids (ages 5-12). There are also other entry specials, like outdoor, indoor and sunrise yoga classes.

I'd recommend visiting on a weekday if you can or early on a weekend day if that's the only time you can do it. We were pretty lucky to be met with minimal crowds on Saturday afternoon around 1pm. We went straight in and weren't in line behind anyone. The only line we met was at the bar.

Connect with Skyspace online: WebsiteFacebook | Twitter | Instagram

What's your favorite skyline overlook from your travels? 

Disclaimer: I received comped tickets for my visit for this review, but all opinions are 100% my own. (All prices were current at time of blog post.)

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Los Angeles with Kids

Just coming back from LA, I've learned that there are a bunch of things you can do for free or with kids. I didn't get to them all, but you can certainly do LA on a budget if you know how. You may have to drive quite a bit, but you can keep it to a minimum if you park and walk to things that are in the same vicinity, like many of the cool arty things downtown are. Got kids? Here are some things to put on your list:

Looking for ways to make your trip cheaper? Check out GoCards and Explorer Cards from SmartDestinations, which save you up to 50% off your activities int he LA area, or the SoCal pass from CityPASS, which saves you up to $150 off four Southern California theme parks - Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, LEGOLAND and SeaWorld. Both allow you to see and do more on your vacation while still saving money.

What are your favorite things to do in Los Angeles?

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links and any purchases that you make after clicking through them will result in monetary compensation.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

It's My Blog Birthday!

Whoa! You guys! I've been blogging here for EIGHT years (on Monday)! What the what? That seems crazy, right? I've loved bringing you guys all my best travel tips and photos from my travels. Well, it's not going to stop, and my next book is in the works. I'm hoping to have it available before Thanksgiving. 

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Usually I try to bring you some awesomeness from the year, which I will, but I'd also like to do a bit of a wish list for my travels. Since I've just turned 8, I'm going to do a list of 8 places. If you've been reading for a while, you know I'll be headed to Philly later this year, I'm probably in LA right now, and I'm planning a trip to Scotland/London next year for my husband's cousin's wedding. Here are 8 other wishlist destinations, in no particular order.

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1. San Antonio

We just reconnected with some long-time friends that I've known for practically my whole life. I've been very lucky to count a handful of people among my chosen family. Some of them live in San Antonio, so my mom and I are planning a side trip from Las Vegas to spend a few days in Texas to sightsee and spend some quality time with our chosen family.

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2. Iceland

I've had Iceland on my list for a long time. I'm shooting for 2021, because why not? I know several people who've gone and their pictures look amazing and I just can't even wait. Can I even tell you how much I want to sit in a geothermal spring and eat cod that was cooked by the same thing that heated the water? Why does that sound so intriguing to me? I don’t know, but the fact that the people of Iceland also believe in elves and I can see the Northern Lights there, I’m willing to try to figure out how to pronounce some of their gigantic words and also eat some gross fish dishes at unreasonable prices.

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3. Toronto

I have been dying to go to Toronto. Is that weird? I blame Barenaked Ladies, but that's okay. I'm okay with being weird. I don't know that much about it, but they have something like a Space Needle and different foods and they have a Harry Potter-ish themed bar called The Lockhart. That's not my main draw, because I rarely drink, but I wouldn't be opposed to checking it out. Anyone been to Toronto? I need tips. 

4. Orlando 

My BFF's daughter is going to graduate in 2020 and her pick for her graduation present trip was Walt Disney World and Universal Studios. They asked if we would come along. Heck yeah! There's not much that can keep me from Diagon Alley...plus there'll be a new ride (or rides and/or food) and I need a new wand and a reason to run around in a Quidditch costume. I mean, really, who doesn't need that with a side of Butterbeer?

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5. Tokyo Disneyland

Ah yes, Tokyo itself sounds really amazing, and I’m going to make it there one day, but one of the attractions I am dying to see is the Japanese version of my favorite theme park. It’s so different, yet I know it will probably still feel like home, but probably with more politeness. How can this not be on my list? Also, is it weird that I kind of want to spend a night in a capsule hotel? Yes? Okay then.

6. Turkey

This is the ultimate budget travel destination on my list. Once you fly there, everything is quite affordable, plus it’s not like your typical European destination. I want to visit Cappadocia and sleep in a cave hotel and go on a hot air balloon ride and take a ride on a yacht. I mean, don’t all those things sound just the coolest? Everywhere else this would cost a fortune, but not in Turkey!

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7. Greece & Malta

If you’ve ever seen a picture of the gorgeous Greek seaside, you won’t wonder why this is on my list, or really anyone’s list. Between the Mediterranean, the food and the people, this is really quite high up on my Life List. And since Malta is, literally, right there, there’s no reason to skip it. I blame old World’s Strongest Man competitions for making me drool over this destination. It’s small, it’s beautiful and it invokes a little bit of Greek heaven. I guess I better get to work on the elliptical, so my legs can handle the millions of steps I'll have to climb on my trip.

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8. Spain

How am I ever going to test out my Spanish if I don’t go anywhere that speaks it? That can’t be the only excuse to visit Spain though. The buildings, the history, the landscape. I just want to wander the villages and eat tapas my whole vacation.

What's Trending?

I find that some posts come back in popularity, including some that are several years old. Here are 5 that people have been looking at this year that you might have missed and want to check out too.

Looks like everyone's hoping to travel and explore a little closer to home, but also want to know what is necessary before they go a bit further and take a vacation abroad. 

What's next on your travel list?

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Harry Potter's Birthday: Part 2

It's been over a week since The Boy Who Lived turned 38, but that doesn't mean he's been forgotten. My house is still Hogwarts and we did our second Harry Potter themed tea last weekend where we did tea leaf reading in our mini Divination class. It was so well done, I decided it deserved its own post for pictures. 

The best part of this tea were all the little details. I've left them at full resolution, so you can click to make them bigger and see all the gorgeous ways this steampunk tea house made Harry Potter come to life.

They even Harry Pottered up the bathroom with giant spiders {"Follow the spiders. Why couldn't it be follow the butterflies? - Ron} and Moaning Myrtle.

You can see photos from my other Harry Potter events here, but you'll probably get a bunch more when I'm back from LA and my visit to Universal's Hogsmeade. We'll be doing some cosplay in September for Rose City Comic Con and then again in October for Chestnut Hill's Wands and Wizards Fest.

And if you want to see more of my Harry Potter and other travel-related trips in real time, follow me on Instagram.

Who's your favorite Harry Potter character?
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