Beginner’s Guide to Portland, OR

Beginner’s Guide to Portland, OR

After Austin, I figured that I had to go to the other U.S. city that had the motto of, “Keep _______ weird,” so I went up to Portland, OR with one of my best friends Before deciding to go to Portland, I had never really considered visiting the Pacific Northwest, and I really don’t know how or why I ignored this part of the country, but once I went to Portland, I instantly fell in love with it.

When I went to Portland for the first time in July 2016, I was still recovering from my stress fracture, so I wasn’t very mobile. Despite this setback, Portland is an easy city to get around without having to do too much walking. There is a train system, Lyft and Uber are there, and there are trolleys that can take you around different tourist areas within the city. We stayed at an Airbnb in Historic Kenton Area and it was a nice part of town. It was close to a MAX train stop and there was a little area that had a few shops and restaurants.

Day #1

To start off our first full day in Portland, we went to Cup and Saucer for breakfast and I got French Toast- it was perfection. My favorite way to start off the day is with a delicious breakfast that usually consists of comfort food, and French toast is that for me.

Once we finished, we took the train to Downtown Portland, and headed over to the meeting spot for the Pink Trolley. This trolley takes you all around the city and to a lot of the main tourist attractions, and it was an affordable way to see a lot of different parts of the city without walking. The two stops that we spent the most time in were the Rose Garden and the Arboretum. Both areas are beautiful and I loved being outdoors and just being able to explore a little- not being able to walk for three months really makes you appreciate the outdoors.

Once we finished with the trolley tour, we headed over to the Pearl District and went to Powell’s bookstore- this was heaven for me. I LOVEEE books, and I just loved being in a bookstore that was so historic and has such a variety of books in it.

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After a long day of exploring, we headed over to The Hairy Lobster for dinner. We started off with beers because you have to try local beers when traveling and the Parker House Rolls with lavender whipped honey butter. For dinner, I got the caramelized lamb served over potatoes and sweet potato mash, and it was delicious. However, for the price, I was a bit surprised at how small my meal was, but it was okay because we were heading over to Salt and Straw for dessert.

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We all know that I have an obsession with Salt and Straw in LA, so it’s no surprise that I had to go to one of the original locations in Portland. When we arrived at Salt and Straw the line wasn’t horrible- at least in comparison to the location I go to in LA, so we decided to wait. As we got closer and closer to the door, I got more and more excited. The décor in the shop was very different from LA, so I really enjoyed that. Since I knew that Portland has some different flavors than LA, I knew I had to try at least one of the local flavors. I got the Stumptown and Burnside Bourbon and Cinnamon Snickerdoodle in a waffle cone- this was a splurge because I usually just get a cup!

Day #2

The next day for breakfast we wanted to try a local donut place, but since I had already been to Voodo Donuts we decided to go to Blue Star.  We got four donuts including: real maple bacon, The O.G., chocolate almond ganache, and a blueberry bourbon basil. All the donuts were DELICIOUS! I LOVED the donuts! I think it was the fact that they weren’t greasy and the flavors were unique that helped a lot. To go with the donuts, I got a carton of Stumptown coffee with milk – best breakfast combination ever!

After breakfast, we walked over to a cute Saturday market near the water. There were a lot of unique and eclectic sellers, which made it easier to find some cool gifts for people! We spent a few hours meandering around the market and then decided it was time for lunch.

We went to Deschutes Brewery for lunch, and I really enjoyed it. My friend and I split a sampler of the different Deschutes, and I really enjoyed most of the different beers. To eat I got the chicken wings, and I thought that they were perfect. It was definitely more of a unique type of chicken wings, but I enjoyed them.

After lunch, we were signed up for a brewcycle tour of Portland. The tour we picked was the Old Town tour and we went to PINTs Brewing, Old Town Brewing, and Fat Head’s Brewing. I thought it was fun way to see the city and we got to explore different parts that we hadn’t visited thus far. I really enjoyed trying new beers and touring the city, so I highly recommend this as a way to explore any city!

After the tour we headed to dinner, and we decided on sushi! We went to a sushi restaurant in the Pearl District right near The Hairy Lobster called Yama Sushi and Sake Bar. I ordered the love joy roll and my friend got a cucumber roll and the sunrise roll. We both thought the food was really good and there wasn’t a super long line for anything which is always a perk. Once we finished dinner we went back to the Airbnb, so we could both pack up because we were leaving the next day.

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Day #3

For my final meal in Portland, the next day, I went back to Cup and Saucer and I got a chai latte and a quiche. Everything was delicious and I need to go back sometime!

 

I loved Portland so much, that I ended up coming back a few months later! That blog post will be up soon 🙂

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Beginner’s Guide to Austin, TX and Oklahoma City, OK

Beginner’s Guide to Austin, TX and Oklahoma City, OK

When I started looking at all of the places I have left to travel to I realized that I haven’t been to the Southern States, and I decided to ease myself into venturing to this new area of the country by visiting one of my best friends in Oklahoma City (OKC). I had already been to OKC before, but that was two years ago, and a lot can change in two years. We figured out that neither of us had been to Austin, TX (ATX), so we decided that I would fly to OKC and then we would road trip down to ATX. I’ve always liked road trips, and then it allows you to hang out with a friend and see new parts of the country.

Day 1
When we first arrived in Austin, we checked into our Airbnb- I think that Airbnb’s are a great way to see a city and interact with local residents. After we settled in we headed over to Uchi, for a delicious sushi dinner. We started off the meal with drinks and for our main course we decided to get the signature tasting option- it is five courses which is a good amount split between two people. This allowed us to try a lot of different things. To start off we tried was the Hirame Usuzukuri, which is flounder with candied quinoa, and olive oil. The second course was the Machi Cure, which is smoked yellowtail, yucca crisp, marcona almond, and Asian pear. For the next course, we had the Maguro & Goat Cheese, which is one of the most unique sushi dishes that I have ever had. Then we had the Hamachi Nabe, which is yellowtail, koshihikari rice, soy broth, and an egg yolk. To conclude our dining experience, we had the Walu Walu which is oak-grilled escolar, yuzupon, candied citrus, and myoga. The food was delicious, well prepared, and truly unique. I think that Uchi has some of the best sushi I have ever had, and the unique dishes makes it worth the price.

After dinner, we went back to our Airbnb to relax and plan for the next day.

Day 2
To start off the day we had a relaxing morning and a quick breakfast and then headed downtown to the Austin Visitors Center. We walked around the center and got to learn more about the city, and then we boarded a bus for the Austin in 90 minutes tour. Some things that you see on the guided bus tour are the 360 Scenic Overlook, Graffiti Park at Castle Hills, Bullock Texas State History Museum, and UT- Austin.

Later on, in the day we had an early dinner and did a Bat Cruise. Fun Fact: The Congress Avenue Bridge is home to the largest urban bat colony in the world. During the Bat cruise you get to experience all of the bats leaving the bridge to go find dinner as the sun sets. It is possibly one of the coolest thing you’ll experience in Austin and I would never have guessed that so many bats could fit under the bridge!

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After the cruise we headed to the “Dirty Sixth” or 6th street to go listen to some live music and enjoy a drink. Eventually we wanted a snack so we decided to head to Voodoo Doughnut Austin, and I got a Maple Bacon donut. It was tasty, and I was excited to try Voodoo because it is originally from Portland, OR and I was going there in a few weeks, so it was like a mini preview of Portland.

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Day 3
After our long day 2, we decided to sleep in a little and then grab breakfast at Whole Foods. Now I know that sounds funny, but considering that Whole Foods was founded in Austin and the original location has a lot of eateries, so we figured it was a good way to see the store and grab breakfast. I went to Taco Alley and got a breakfast burrito and it was divine.

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The next activity for the day was to go on the Deep Eddy Distillery tour. We got the tickets that have the shuttle to and from, so we avoided drinking and driving. The ticket is $25, and it included the round-trip shuttle ride, the tour, a cocktail and 20% off all merchandise. I really enjoyed learning about how they make their vodka and eating and drinking after the tour. They have some food trucks there, so you can get snacks while drinking and I obviously had to get BBQ. It is definitely a fun place to go, and it would be a great place to spend an afternoon with friends.

Once we got back to downtown Austin, we headed to the Roaring Fork for dinner. I got the Cedar Planked Salmon- its oven roasted with Teriyaki BBQ sauce and a Chilled Green Bean Salad. It was the perfect meal after spending a lot of time outside in the heat.

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After dinner we headed back to the Airbnb to hang out and go to bed early. Since we were heading back to OKC early in the morning to beat traffic.

Day 4
After a 4-hour drive, we arrived back in OKC and it felt great to get out of the car. We relaxed, ate dinner, and then we went to the OKCLA game (OKCLA is the minor league team for the Los Angeles Dodgers). I love baseball, so it was fun to get to see a good minor league team play.

Day 5
After a good night’s sleep, we woke up and went to breakfast at The Red Cup. I got a Peanut Butter and Banana sandwich and a Chai tea to drink. It was the perfect breakfast for a hot day. I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the restaurant and all of the art.

After breakfast we took a water taxi ride around downtown and we got to see some murals and sculptures.

For lunch we went to Big Truck Tacos, and it was amazing! I got the Okie-Wahoo and Rita’s Chicken Tacos. It’s an affordable and delicious place- highly recommend if you’re ever in OKC!

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Once we were done eating, then it was time for me to head to the airport and go back to LA. It was a great trip to Austin and OKC, and I definitely want to return to both cities.

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17 Things I Learned in 2017

17 Things I Learned in 2017

This year I worked really hard to work on myself and I set goals that I thought would be achievable. Here’s what I’ve learned from setting my 2017 Goals:

  1. Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals actually work. S.M.A.R.T is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. I learned this acronym in college and I applied it more to academics, but never to life. When I made my goals for 2017, I applied the concept of S.M.A.R.T. goals to them because I wanted to make sure I could achieve them.
  2. Accountability is key. I don’t think I would have maintained my exercise routine without having it in my calendar, receiving reminders, and being charged if I cancelled a class too late. Also, sharing your goals with people is a good way to be held accountable.
  3. Traveling is a great way to learn more about yourself. Whether you want to learn more about yourself or other cultures, you will learn something new about yourself on each trip you take.
  4. One of my big goals was to learn how to budget more and actually stick to that budget. I found that apps really didn’t help me achieve this goal, so at the beginning of the month I’ve started writing out my expenses for the month, the days I get paid, and the amount I get paid to figure out how to manage my spending for the month.
  5. It is important to keep learning. Taking classes through UCLA Extension has been one of the best things I decided to do this year. I’ve loved what I’m learning and it’s been one of the more enjoyable things I’ve done this year.
  6. Setting goals related to exercise should be focused on seeing what your body can do and not just weight loss. When I initially set my goal of getting better at cardio, the real goal was to lose weight. A few months into the year, I made the mental shift to focus on pushing my body more vs. focusing on weight loss, and I accomplished more than I ever thought I would. I ran a mile faster than I’d ever run before- 12 minutes! Which to some is a bad time, but for me that broke a 13-year record! Due to my mental shift, I was able to accomplish my cardio goal and achieve my secondary goal of losing weight.
  7. Your body can do more than you think. I know this is related to #6, but it’s definitely a lesson I learned. Up until this past year, I had never really lifted weights. I had used little weights in PT or a gym class, but never truly lifted weights. This year I have learned how to lift weights and I’ve increased the amount of weight I can lift throughout the year. It’s been nice to see that I’m able to do this because I’ve had shoulder and neck issues.
  8. Cooking is a lot easier than you think. I usually get overwhelmed by cooking a meal, but recently I’ve started being creative in the kitchen and created my own recipes. I’ve actually found this process to be fun, and I’d never had that experience before. An example of this is my obsession with making a DELICIOUS egg sandwich.The-Cross-Country-Millennial-How-to-Make-an-Egg-Sandwich
  9. Eating out or ordering in usually isn’t as good as you think it’ll be. The more I ate out this year, the less I enjoyed it. I would go to some of my favorite places and I just didn’t like it or I felt sick afterwards; which is obviously not a reaction you want to have. I definitely think there needs to be a balance between eating out/ordering in and cooking at home.
  10. Find things that you love outside of work. This for me has been key- without this blog I wouldn’t have a creative outlet and work would be my life.
  11. Be open to exploring new places. Whether you’re exploring a brand-new country or city or walking around where you live and you stumble upon a new place, you should be open to trying new things. This is how I created my Ktown Hidden Gems series- it simply happened because I started walking around where I live.
  12. Stand up for what you believe in. This applies to politics, issues at work, with your friends- you get the point. This is an important skill to have and it applies to any aspect of life.
  13. Take care of yourself. This is easier said than done, but it’s important to learn. I’ve tried really hard to take care of issues before they become bigger problems, and I think this approach is making me more aware about how my body works and reacts to things.
  14. Go to interesting events. In 2017, I was really lucky to have the opportunity to see a lot of performers and speakers that I never thought I would see. This includes seeing Hamilton the Musical, movie screenings, the Backstreet Boys, and Dan Rather. Attending different types of interesting events makes you think differently about different aspects of life and you appreciate them. Every time an opportunity would arise, I would just ask myself, “when will I be able to do this again?” If the answer was probably never again, then I would decide to go. Taking advantage of opportunities is key.
  15. Don’t be afraid to try new things. I’ve always had the rule that I am willing to try anything once, but sometimes fear can make that hard to follow. This year I tried to actually force myself to try things that scared me or were completely new. The major thing I tried was skiing. I had never skied before, but I had always wanted to try. So, when the opportunity arose, I said yes. Was I great at it? No. Am I willing to try it again? Yes.
  16. Friends and family are everything. Going on all of my adventures in 2017 wouldn’t have been as memorable or enjoyable without everyone who participated in them. From Nashville, to trying new restaurants, to Hawaii, to going to concerts and speakers- these memories wouldn’t be half of what they were without the people who attended them with me. For this, I am eternally grateful.
  17. Be comfortable with the uncomfortable. This is just a key thing to be able to do in life. Things are going to happen in life and you need to be able to be okay with it.

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2017 Goals: Fall Update

2017 Goals: Fall Update

Okay, I’ve been bad at keeping you guys updated on how my goals for 2017 are going, so here’s the latest update.

*Goal 1: Exercise more and get better at Cardio

I’ve definitely been achieving this goal. I still exercise 3-5 times a week, and I’ve transitioned more into jogging vs. powerwalking. I’ve been proud of my accomplishments and the changes I’ve seen in my body. Trying to get things back to my pre-boot self has been difficult, and I still get pain in my foot sometimes; however, I will show up to class and I try my hardest.

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One of my accomplishments was that I got my highest amount of splat points ever- 15!!! I usually am in the 0-4 range- low resting heart rate problems :/ I am constantly inspired to do better in class by the other members and the coaches. This inspiration manifested itself into me setting another goal of running 2 miles in the 30-minute Cardio portion of class. Now I know 2 miles in 30 minutes doesn’t sound like a big accomplishment, but trust me, as someone who couldn’t do the 20-minute mile in gym class during middle school- this is a HUGE goal! The thing that was funny about setting and accomplishing this goal was that I did it within a 3-week time period. Seriously, one day I decided it was happening and then I just constantly pushed myself for the next 3 weeks until I accomplished it. This showed me that with focus and determination, you can rise to the occasion and achieve your goals.

Despite this inspiration, I still find that it can be really hard to get myself in the mood to attend class- sometimes I am truly fried from the day, but I always leave class feeling better. I think that having a consistent workout routine has saved me numerous times mentally from the frustration I’ve been experiencing in different aspects of my life.

*Goal 2: Go to all 50 states before I turn 30

This goal has been put on pause a bit, because I did a lot of traveling within a short period of time- I think it made me not want to get on another plane. I can say that I have 11 or 12 states left, and I definitely think my goal is feasible. I’m starting to think about planning trips for 2018 with some friends that I don’t get to see. I am however working on writing posts about some of my past trips, so for 2018 I can start posting in as close to real time as possible.

*Goal 3: Budget and Save Money

I’ve definitely had my ups and downs with this goal. I’ve noticed that when things get really hectic in my life, that I just forget completely about having a budget or paying attention to my finances. This is a really bad habit, and I’ve been working hard to break it. I’ve been utilizing the Mint app more, and I think it’s really helping. I am still using Ebates, Ibotta, and ThreadUp to earn money in more practical ways.

If you’re interested in Ebates, make sure to subscribe through the link and you’ll get $10 for just signing up! If you’re interested in Ibotta, use the referral code onjumjl for $10. This post is not sponsored by either company, but I genuinely think they’re great tools for earning money on purchases you were already going to make. If you’re interested in trying ThreadUp, here’s a link to get $10: http://www.thredup.com/r/C0GZL0

*Goal 4: Be more politically active

This goal is still one I’ve been working on trying to figure out how to achieve. I’ve tried to read different sites to understand what is going on in the country, and supporting candidates that I agree with. I would like to volunteer for a political campaign because that was something I really enjoyed in high school, but I haven’t been around any elections. I think right now the best I can do is be knowledgeable about the issues I care about and having discussions with friends about how to get more engaged. I saw that there is another Women’s March planned for January, and I think I will participate in that.

*Goal 5: Schedule Time for Self-Care

I would honestly say that this is the goal that I’ve been the worst at accomplishing this year. I keep doing too much, and then I get overwhelmed, and then I practice a lot of self-care to feel better, and then the cycle keeps going. I started getting regular massages because my body started having pain in places that I know act up when I am stressed out. Listening to my body forced me to take time for myself, but it still doesn’t address the overall issue of me not taking enough time for myself. I honestly think that I need to start putting self-care into my calendar more, and not just taking an exercise class a few times a week, but really taking some time to decompress a few days a week. I know that I am really good at following my calendars, so this is a better way to hold myself accountable.

Anyways, this is how things have been going for me and I hope you learned something that can help you! I’m starting to think about new goals for the next year and how to carry these goals over- if you have any ideas, please comment below!

What Happens When Age is Thrown Out the Window?

What Happens When Age is Thrown Out the Window?

I’ve always had two philosophies in life 1) age is just a number and 2) you can learn something from everyone you meet. I chose to participate in the Bridging the Gap campaign with this mentality, but I was hesitant that I wouldn’t be able to relate to my partner. What would I truly have in common with someone double my age, and who’s lived in countries I’ve never been to? However, once I started talking with Renata, founder of Fashionably Fab Fashion Tips, I realized that we had so much more in common than I initially imagined.

Renata was born and raised in Australia, but she followed her dreams and at age 50 she moved to France. She has a son, and she is getting married to an Italian man in November. Now, age 52, she has traveled to over 40 cities in Europe – something I aspire to do some day. Some of her favorite places are: Antwerp, Paris, the countryside in England, Austria, and Switzerland.

Renata started her blog because she thinks “it’s important to just see people for who and what they are regardless of age, height or shape. People have a hard time nowadays to see people without labels or status.” You feel this intention when reading her blog; the wisdom woven into posts from her personal life and fashion communicates everything at a humanistic level and it feels refreshing. Everything she writes is authentic, and it’s noticeable. This tone makes sense because Renata is an artist with words – she’s written a book (again another life goal of mine).

I learned from our conversations that we both share passions for traveling, food, helping others and the relationships we have with family and friends. Renata is an expert in European cities; she can tell you where to eat, sites to see and the value of traveling to each country. I think she would write an awesome travel book about European cities. I hope to have this much knowledge about places within the United States. Renata and I both believe that traveling is awesome and that it forces you to truly live life. She says it best, “experience is life,” and I completely agree. Paired with traveling, is her passion for good food. Whether it’s a home cooked meal by her future spouse or dishes she’s discovered while traveling around Europe – she loves it all.

After talking with Renata, I realized that our values, passions and desires are the same; no matter your age. Two lessons I took away from our conversations are that you need to live in the now and make sure to become your best friend. I also hope that one day I have the wisdom and willingness to live my dreams despite my fears. Remember that beauty is ageless, and age is just a number. Renata and I bridged the gap, and I hope that we can meet in person – maybe I’ll travel to Europe!

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Beginner’s Guide to Boston

Beginner’s Guide to Boston

One of my favorite regions of the United States is New England. I love the history, seasons (Yes, I said seasons. Growing up with them and then living in LA is weird!), and the food! I ventured across the U.S. to visit various friends from college and my friend Sarah aka the 207 Foodie came down from Maine.

Day One

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Well I landed in the afternoon, so the first task on hand was to find food! My friend and I went to Shabu Zen in Chinatown, and the food was delicious. It was the right balance of meat, veggies, and soup. Then we ventured over to Boston Common and got to see the Massachusetts State House all lit up. Then we decided to head over to Fenway Park- this was a bucket list item for me. Even though it wasn’t baseball season, I just wanted to see the historic park (if you can’t tell, baseball is my favorite sport). From the outside Fenway looked magical, and sometime I need to head back so I can go to an actual game.

The next stop on our evening tour of the city was Mike’s Pastry in Cambridge, which is phenomenal! I am not a huge dessert person, and even I could appreciate a delicious cannoli. We explored Cambridge a little, and I got to see some of Harvard’s campus.

Day Two

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The best way to start your day is with a good cup of coffee and an East Coast bagel. To me, there is nothing better. But the real adventure of the day was leaving Boston, and heading to Salem, MA. While psychics and witches are not really something I’m interested in, I can appreciate the history of the town. One of my favorite books in school was the Scarlet Letter, so I thought it was really cool to see where Nathaniel Hawthorne was born and grew up.

There are a lot of really interesting sculptures and art pieces around the town, and they reflect the history of the city. We also went to the Salem Witch Museum– a must go when in Salem. After exploring the town all day, it was time for a snack, and we choose macaroons at Caramel. We got a variety of flavors and they were all delicious. We made a detour up to New Hampshire so we could do some exploring, and so I could mark it off my list of states to visit. Next stop was dinner at Legal on the Mystic, where I tried Clam Chowder for the first time (another must do when in New England). We also got Oysters to share and I loved the Mignonette Sauce- seriously amazing!

Day Three

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There’s nothing better than being in Boston for St. Patrick’s Day, so we headed to The Bell in Hand Tavern to celebrate. The Bell in Hand Tavern is the oldest tavern in the United States- it opened in 1795. We spent the day here just hanging out and enjoying ourselves.

Day Four

We started the day off by walking around Boston, and we stumbled upon the memorial for Paul Revere and where he’s buried. Since Boston is filled with American history, it’s easy to stumble upon it everywhere you go. The next stop on our walk was the Boston Public Garden, so I could see the Make Way for Ducklings statues. I thought this was the coolest thing ever, because I was obsessed with the books growing up.

This was absolutely one of the best trips out East that I’ve ever had. It was a perfect balance of history, relaxation, and hanging out with good friends. Everyone needs a trip like this.

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