An Alternate Summer Bucket List

I originally wrote this post earlier in the summer, when I had barely made it through any of the things I had imagined myself doing that season.  Since then, we crossed off a bunch of “Summer Bucket List” items, but I wanted to share it anyway, as a reminder that it’s completely okay to take summer at your own pace and maybe not get to all the things you thought you were going to get to.  There are plenty of future summers for those things and in the meantime, you might just discover happiness in a whole slue of unplanned activities 🙂

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When I looked at my Summer Bucket List, hanging on the magnetic board in our kitchen, with just two items crossed out, I felt sad.  But then I thought of all the wonderful and fun things I did this summer that weren’t on that list and I felt sad no more.  I didn’t fail, I just wrote the wrong list!

What if, instead of spending most of our time trying new things, we just fine tuned/perfected/cemented our love for old things/routines/habits/experiences.  Getting better at stuff you already know you love is totally an accomplishment to me.

We went to the Farmers’ Market every Saturday we could and knew the best tents for tomatoes and just how much we could fit into my bike basket (even if we still bought more than that every time…).

We watched Dirty Dancing at Film on the Rocks and knew you forego the tailgate in favor of a amphitheater picnic because it means getting in earlier and grabbing a better seat.

I went to Yoga on the Rocks, not once but twice!  We went to so many good concerts and even upped our tailgate game by buying an actual table to sit at.

I baked ALL THE THINGS.  If weekly pie/cobbler/cake is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.  But don’t worry, we still made time for a trip to the ice cream parlor too.

We dined al fresco so many times and didn’t take a single backyard dinner for granted because they are, arguably and low key-ly, the best part of summer.

I read and ran and relaxed.  Uptight might be my middle name, but when there’s corn to grill and hammocks to read/nap in, who has time to worry about how clean (or dirty) their kitchen floor is.

I got a new grill and we found that sweet spot between BBQing for a group and just grilling up a quick dinner for ourselves.  In the end, that mostly means we just ate a lot of good things this summer.

Don’t even get me started on our little garden that I love with all my heart.  We were so much more organized and prepared this year and it was so fun to see new things grow and have that 10-minutes to water and admire all those cute little vegetables after work.

And let’s not forget weddings and vacations and weekends spent with our families that could have been stressful but ended up being relaxing and rejuvenating and a good reminder that despite all the bad things in the world, you have your people and they have you.

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So today, we say goodbye to Summer 2017 and hello to the official fall season and I’m feeling really good about it all ♥

Family Vacation to Oregon: Portland

The Great Dorsey Vacation 2017 all started with a cute little weekend stay in Portland.  Joey and I didn’t plan on going there for the third summer in a row but A) we were already flying into PDX and B) my sister and Wayne had never seen our favorite little city, so we felt it 100% necessary to spend a few days there.

I thought this might be the trip where I grew a little bit tired of Portland and instead, I just loved it a whole lot more.  Even without a stop at Pip’s, it still managed to be the very best, because: warmth and blue skies that made for walk everywhere weather, getting to try new restaurants/coffee shops but also show off our favorites, a bike share program that meant seeing Portland from different angles and being with two people who were equally up for ice cream every night.

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We checked into our rental house, quickly realized it did not have air-conditioning (THE HORROR!), then walked up the street for dinner.  Por Que No?  That is the question!  We walked past this place last time we were here and where there’s a long line, there must be good food.  Usually, at least.  Turns out, the line moves really fast and we didn’t even have a hard time snagging a street-side table after ordering at the counter.  The carnitas taco is what dreams are made of.  Afterwards, Ruby Jewel for dessert because it was just a block away and after seeing Peanut Butter Cookie Dough on the menu, I was sold.

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The best way to start a Saturday in Portland is to take a morning walk and stumble across a “Before I die…” chalk wall then stumble across the sidewalk and skin your hand and the corner of your phone at the same time then breakfast and a trip to the Farmers’ Market, so we did just that.  We hit Bijou Café then walked up to the market and man, was it bustling!  The joy of watching someone experience that barrage of perfect produce is just the best.  And we bought a half flat of berries that were some of the best I’ve ever tasted.  Afternoon activities involved coffee at Heart, Powell’s City of Books and lunch at Pine Street Market.

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But my favorite part of the day was renting bikes and riding along the river!  It was hot and I was the slowest but it was so perfect and ended with a quick (and scenic) ride on the aerial tram.  When we were done being hot and sweaty we headed back to our place to rest before heading out to dinner at Podnah’s Pit.  I liked my pulled pork but I LOVED Joey’s ribs.  We hit up that Salt & Straw line after dinner and get this, I got a carrot cake-flavored ice cream that was one of the best (and most creative) scoops I’ve ever eaten.  Unanimous opinion: Salt & Straw > Ruby Jewel.  And now you know.

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Sunday morning, we packed up and headed to one final Portland breakfast at Besaw’s and look, the area it was in was very nice and trendy and there was free coffee while we waited, but the service was just so-so.  The food was GREAT though!  Do you even see that butter swirl?  We met up with my parents afterwards to do a big old grocery haul for the rest of the week on the coast and then I just had to grab one last coffee at Case Study.  Ciao for now, Portland!

Where We Stayed: Beautiful Detached Cottage in Mississippi Neighborhood 

Where We Ate/Drank: 

Por Que No? // Don’t let the line scare you off.  It moves quickly and the reward at the end is creamy guac, crispy chips and strong margaritas.  Please please order a carnitas taco.  You won’t regret it!

Ruby Jewel //  If you’re visiting Portland and can only visit one ice cream shop, make it Salt & Straw but if you’re visiting for the third summer in a row and you’ve been to Salt & Straw twice already, try Ruby Jewel!  The small scoop is the perfect post-taco treat.

Bijou Café // This place has a diner feel in that slightly grungy but you don’t notice because the service is so good and the food is so unpretentious kind of way that I totally dug.  We sat at the counter, drank coffee and people watched.  I really loved my cauliflower-kale hash and Joey was SO into his fried chicken and pancakes.

Heart Coffee Roasters // I am head over heels for their coffee beans and their minimalist café aesthetic.  Nuff said.

Pine Street Market // I got a so-so slice of pizza and salad at Trifecta Annex but everyone else had what looked like a really good burger from Bless Your Heart Burgers and I wonder if I’ll ever learn to just order whatever Joey orders because he always wins.

Podnah’s Pit Barbecue // They were out of brisket when we got there and I think we were all a little bit sad but everything on my plate was good (though not great) and I really really liked the rib Joey graciously gifted me.

Salt & Straw // The most unique flavors, that are all spot on and served with a smile.  Just do it, okay?

Besaw’s // Free coffee while you wait and maybe service was just off on the day we went?  But the food was really really good.  Get the Farmer’s Hash because: bacon, cheddar and that big old fluffy biscuit!

Case Study Coffee // I really dig that light fixture over the coffee bar and the barista who rang me up was very nice, but what can I say?  My heart belongs to Heart.

What We Did:

Portland Farmers’ Market // If you’re not impressed by this FM, you’re not human!  I am completely BLOWN AWAY by the sheer abundance and quality of the things that grow so beautifully in the Pacific Northwest.

Powell’s City of Books // If you’re a book nerd, how can you go to Portland and not go to Powell’s?  Heck, even if you aren’t a book nerd, how can you go to Portland and not go to Powell’s?  Get lost on an aisle in the section that calls to you most and peruse all the books there.

BIKETOWN // Sign up for this BEFOREHAND, so you’re not standing in the straight sun, waiting for the app to download at a snail’s pace.  Ride the Waterfront Park Trail to the Portland Aerial Tram then ride it up to see the city from above.