the BEST old fashioned.

It's no secret that I'm a fan of the old fashioned, especially this time of year. There's nothing better than sipping on this delectable cocktail on a freezing day while the bourbon warms your insides. The only problem? I was never able to recreate the deliciousness I experienced at restaurants at home (mine always tasted way too bourbon-y and burned my throat).

Until now.

During our Portland trip over Thanksgiving, my sister bought Craft Old Fashioned Cocktail Syrup at Gus & Ruby. I was a little suspect at first, but it turns out, this syrup is a total game changer. It creates the perfect old fashioned every time with no need for muddling or adding separate bitters. I immediately grabbed some when we went back to Gus & Ruby (this time in Portsmouth) the next day. It's seriously the best.

(They also make an Italian Spritz syrup, Spicy Margarita syrup and more - I can't wait to try them all.)


thanksgiving week.

someone refused to go outside in the snow.

one of many festive holiday beverages.

my thanksgiving contribution: smitten kitchen's union square cafe bar nuts.

a very cute Sam.

beach photoshoot.

It's Tuesday and I think I'm still recovering from last week's Thanksgiving festivities. It was a fun-filled family week.

I headed down to Massachusetts to my parents' house on the Saturday before so I could dog-sit their dogs--they went to Bermuda to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary for a few days. I had a pretty crappy cold but took full advantage of their whirlpool bathtub and ample amounts of wine. On Sunday I picked up my sister in Boston and we did a little shopping downtown and had the most delicious martini at Atlantic Fish Company (they use crabmeat as a garnish and it was divine). The days leading up to Thanksgiving were a blur of eating and drinking and prepping--we met up with my brother for the best chicken wings around and it was nice to have some sibling time.

Thanksgiving was hosted by my parents and it went by way too fast, but I loved seeing my mom's side of the family and my nieces. On Friday my mom and sister and I headed up to Portland for some additional shopping and eating (a stop at Eventide was a must) and then we went to York and met up with my dad. The following day called for a trip to Portsmouth for Small Business Saturday and my sister and I continued to eat our way through the weekend. She went back to Pittsburgh on Sunday, and I was so glad to spend all of that extra time with her since she's not going to be home for Christmas.

I wish I did a better job of documenting it, but that was my week! Now I'm trying to hold off until December 1st to start decorating--I'm very excited for the next month of holiday celebrations.


sister LA trip.

This past Thursday I hopped on a plane and met my sister in LA for a quick sister getaway. She was already out there for a work trip and after I had a supremely crappy week she bought an extra ticket for me to meet her and make a weekend out of it. She is seriously the best. 

And before I go into the places we stayed and all the delicious food and drinks we enjoyed, I want to say how much my heart aches for the people of California and the devastating wildfires. It was totally surreal to be there when this was going on (especially being from the Northeast, where this never happens). I donated to the Red Cross, but there are a lot of other organizations doing great work that need help (there's a good list of places to donate here).

Where we stayed:

Sunrise over the Hollywood sign.

When I arrived on Thursday my sister was wrapping up her conference at the Westin Bonaventure in downtown LA. She had a king suite that I enjoyed lounging in when she had a meeting Friday morning and the view was pretty great. 

The Standard in West Hollywood.

After she wrapped everything up on Friday, we made our way to West Hollywood to The Standard. The location was perfect (right up the road from Chateau Marmont) and I highly recommend it. I've stayed at the Standard in NYC a couple of times and the vibe in West Hollywood was so much more low-key. They had a great restaurant with 24/7 room service, a cool bar area and a pool with an adjacent ping pong table (I forgot my bathing suit but we had a heated ping pong tournament). I would definitely stay there again.

What we did (aka where we ate):

I need to preface this by saying that my sister and I really love to eat and drink. While other people might plan a trip around cultural activities, we focus on stuffing our faces. 


White Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse at Nick and Stef's.

Sister selfie.
On Thursday night we decided to do an early dinner at Nick and Stef's which was within walking distance of the Westin. We each had delicious steaks, potato gratin and an incredible white chocolate hazelnut mousse (and I generally hate all things white chocolate, so this was especially tasty). It was pricey, but so worth it.


Brisket taquitos with rice and beans.

On Friday my sister had a meeting in the AM, so I grabbed Starbucks and waited for her return. We did a little shopping at Zara and H&M and then decided to grab Mexican across the street from the hotel at the Border Grille -- we shared a shrimp ceviche to start and then I had brisket taquitos and my sister had the crispy rajas tacos. Both were super delicious and super filling. We then made our way to the Standard.

Delicious cocktail that I can't remember the name of at the Cactus Lounge.
Sister selfie #2.
We hung out at the lounge for a rather long time, and then pulled ourselves together to head to...

I mean, we had to.
We grabbed a happy hour drink at Pump and sat next to none other than Scheana Marie (formerly Shay) who, although we did not talk to, through casual observation seemed to be exactly like she is on the show. We then went to TomTom (again, we had to) and shared some shishito peppers and a glass of wine before deciding it was too much of a scene and we had to go. We made our way back to the hotel and ordered room service from Croft Alley and called it an early night. 


On Saturday morning we were both up super early due to our early bedtime and the time change, so we grabbed a small bite at Croft Alley first thing.

Johnny Cake with Fried Chicken.
We then made our way to Hart and the Hunter for brunch, which is in the Palihotel on Melrose. I had the Johnny Cake with fried chicken and smoked bacon maple syrup, and my sister had shrimp and grits. Both were very good.

Blood orange mule.

Melrose Umbrella Company.
We walked down Melrose and had the most delicious blood orange mules at the Melrose Umbrella Company. Their food menu said they had a wedge salad made with spring peas that looked amazing, but we were informed that it was no longer available which really amplified our need for one. After scouring menus, we found there was a restaurant near our hotel that had them. And that's how we found ourselves at Saddle Ranch on a Saturday afternoon.

The Saddle Ranch wedge.
Our salads ended up being just what we wanted, and we enjoyed them while watching USC and Cal Arts students enjoy bottomless mimosas and ride the mechanical bull. We then headed back to the hotel for naps. 

Later that evening, we met our cousins at Gracias Madre for happy hour. It was a total treat because we barely get to see them, and we sipped "So Fresa So Cleans" (tequila blanco, strawberry, rose water, lemon, cacha├ža, and aquafaba) while catching up. 

Crab tacos at Nobu.
The best sushi OF MY LIFE at Nobu.

And then we went to Nobu. Admittedly, we were both a little stuffed from the day's events, but decided to keep our reservation given all of the a la carte menu options. We had edamame, crab tacos, and sushi that ended up ruining all future sushi for the both of us. It was seriously so good and I need to go back on an empty stomach to really enjoy everything on the menu. 


Croft Alley.

Avocado toast.
On Sunday we grabbed breakfast at Croft Alley before we headed to the airport. I had avocado toast (because if you go to LA and you don't have avocado toast, did you even go to LA?) and my sister had their GF bananas foster waffle. 

Plane views.
I returned home 3-5 lbs heavier and super tired but it was seriously the best weekend away with my sister and very much needed. (I love you, Mayo!!!)


on flying solo.

It's been six months since I moved to Portland, which is kind of hard for me to believe. Sometimes I feel like I've been here forever, and then there are days when I struggle to get my bearings. All in all though, I really love it and I definitely think I made the right decision coming here.

One of the questions I get a lot is whether I get lonely in a city where I didn't really know anyone before I moved. And to be perfectly honest, the answer is no. I've made some friends in my building which is convenient and great and I know they'd always be down to grab or drink or movie or hit the town. But I also have become extremely comfortable being on my own: I have zero issues doing things by myself (and sometimes, I prefer it).

I think that being in a new city undoubtedly forces you to get outside your comfort zone (otherwise it's too easy to have Netflix and your couch be the daily norm) but I also think that flying solo is not for everyone. It took me until my mid-thirties to not only truly feel comfortable doing things by myself, but also not feel sorry for myself for not having a friend or partner to do things with.

Which brings me to dating: I'm not doing it. The whole online/app thing isn't for me and I honestly don't feel like my life is lacking in any way that I actively need to find someone to spend my time with. Would it be nice to meet someone and fall head over heels? Sure. But it's not something I feel like I really need right now. That of course, is subject to change, but at this moment I'm really happy and fulfilled as a party of one (or 1.25 if you count Olive).


happy november.

the best mussels with bacon and blue cheese at the york river landing.

a very leafy walk.

sushi and lobster and brie nachos at surf.

a rainy stroll down market street in portsmouth.

harbor views.

Happy November! I can't believe there are only two months left in the year--time is flying by. And much as I hate losing an extra hour of sunlight later in the day, I'm definitely looking forward to the upcoming holidays. I have a packed couple of weeks ahead of me and I'm going to do my best to enjoy every minute.

This weekend my parents came up to York so I went down to hang with them. It was perfect to relax in front of the fire on Friday, and on Saturday we braved torrential downpours and walked around Portsmouth--I hadn't been there since the summer and it was great to pop into all of the cute shops. On Sunday my mom and I went for a blustery run, and Sunday was spent on the couch with Olive. I made Smitten Kitchen's mushroom marsala pasta bake for dinner and it was a delicious way to end the weekend.