Portland is keeping it real!

I am down to the last 6 days in the United States and it has been a whirlwind of goodbyes to many peeps I love. The sadness is still there but the excitement of going back home is becoming real. I have really been enjoying moments in time when it has been the last time. This is the 2nd last taco Tuesday I am having in California – it is the Kalee-fornia Fish Taco.

Last week I went to my last exhibition night with the school community I have spent the last 9 years with. It was a wonderful experience with the kids presenting their slides on the Native American tribes and seeing their building work presented in the STEAM room with Mr A.

Friday I went out the ballet with my friend to see The Snow Queen and here is the downtown Christmas tree just outside the theatre. That was the last time I would check out a show and it was so fun to be with my friend and see her daughter dance – Thank you for taking me!

Over the weekend I went on a trip to Portland to catch up with some friends and eat and get a tattoo. Here are a couple of dishes from Trinket – a plate of potato hash and duck eggs and avocado. And on the right from Holiday – a seasonal salad with a gluten-free vegetable tart so divine! I absolutely love the food in Portland vegan, gluten-free, seasonal and organic what my cafe dreams are made of!

Sunday evening we had a night out to the Blue Collar Wrestling which was a cultural experience and hilarious! The kids were wondering what happened to their Mum when I told them I went to a wrestling show. After the show, we went to The Alibi a super cool Tiki lounge that had karaoke on a Sunday night. We had our own little karaoke party at our booth while we drank the deadly fancy cocktails and ate burgers and fries. Being inside an original tiki bar is what this place is about, I loved it and had such a blast with my friends.

Monday came around all too fast and my friend took me to Proud Mary Coffee a cafe from Collingwood in Melbourne now in Portland. It was so good to have a flat white before I head on back to Melbourne next week. The food was amazing and I enjoyed this custard brioche pastry along with tastings of the savoury goodness my friends were eating. It was such a friendly atmosphere where we chatted to the owner and general manager about living in Portland, the future of the cafe (opening in Austin) and the cost of living in Melbourne.

After brunch I had an appointment at Scapegoat Tattoo studio with Cody Zeek – he also did my hummingbird tattoo many moons ago. Lying there feeling the pain of a “cat scratching sunburn” as Cody traced the lines of the tattoo. I am so happy with it as a homage to my time here in California.

Oh, and after the tattoo, I was starving so a friend recommended Tight Tacos with the two vegetarian options (he enjoyed a meat one). I had the cauliflower with harissa and the other seasonal veggies topped with the salsa and guac it was delish and the perfect post tattoo feed. Later on, it was time to head on back to the bubble of the Bay Area with tech geeks and no flavour – Portland was keeping it real, Viva la Resistance!

Tuesday I came back and it was all on with the holiday boutique with the kids where my friend suggested I get them to sell my stock at a massive blowout sale and I am glad I did. So then the sales went back to the school, yippee everyone wins and I have no more stock to take with me!

I will miss these little farm animals here as we are enjoying every minute with them as we have one more week and we say farewell to the lovely ladies and the beautiful black barn cat.

And finally, it was time to say farewell to my school community at Stevenson Elementary School, this place will live in my heart for all the inspiration and creativity in education. Inspiring me to become an educator. One of our teachers got the kids to make these cool decorations out of cans the other day. Today on her last day of school for a month, Missy graduated with a quick ceremony with her 5th-grade cohort and her teacher put a cat background on the TV! Super special love for the 9 years of the community at our amazing school, the educational foundation our kids have experienced is something we will treasure forever.

A Few Days in LA

For our last family adventure in California, we did a road trip to LA to see what we could find. The itinerary was influenced by the film La La Land and advice from friends about where to go, what to eat and what to check out. 

We decided to do the scenic route on the 101 to find places to stop off and stretch our legs and have a break. The first stop was Paso Robles for lunch and we found this great spot called Brunch where I found some delicious avocado toast with sprouts and balsamic, it was so good. At this cafe, we also bought some treats from the attached cheese shop with a salted baguette made by a local baker and local cheese to take to our friend’s house in LA. 

Saturday: We arrived in LA and visited some friends of ours who moved away from the Bay and enjoyed some time with them and had dinner together – it was so good to catch up! Later we checked into our Air Bnb the Habana Hut in Silver Lake and enjoyed a good nights sleep in a gorgeous spot high on a hill.

Sunday: Waking up the next morning we wandered down to the local 365 by Whole Foods Market to get supplies and have breakfast – just a walk away. In the afternoon we took a Lyft over to Little Tokyo in downtown LA for the kids to check out the fun stuff. I have never seen so many Pusheens in my life! While we were there we got into The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA for free admission on the weekend, so it was a great score. The gallery Space was incredible and I loved the artwork, the rest of the family was a bit undecided as they were saying how is this art? For me, I have been suffering from a huge lack of culture and art so this was super exciting for me that I was chatting to all the staff about the art pieces and the artists. 

Monday: Our plan for was to hike to the Hollywood sign and the kids really did not want to do an 8-mile hike so I did a bit of research and we started the hike from the Charlie Turner Trailhead at the Griffith Observatory car park and we did about 2.5 miles in and out as the kids were bored. The track was lovely and wide but take a hat and a snack as the whole trail is exposed, in the summer it would be so hot! On our way back we took in the view from Captain’s Roost, a selection of fire-charred palm trees surrounded by spectacular succulents including a fire stick bush and massive agave, it was so cool to see them. After we came back to the car park we enjoyed some time wandering around the Griffith Park Observatory (note, it is closed on Monday) to enjoy some photo opportunities and the incredible views of the expanse of Los Angeles. 

Enjoying our relaxing time at the observatory checking out the building and the artwork we found a hummingbird and Ash was very keen to make friends with this guy! I managed to get in for a closeup shot and then an action shot of a hummer giving Ash a flash before flying off into the distance.

After the little hike and wander to Griffith Observatory, we drove down to Los Feliz to the Fern Dell trail. This little trail was briefly featured in La La Land it was a cool location to discover and explore for some interesting foliage and trees and the kids enjoyed looking for goldfish and crayfish in the little streams. The cute red squirrel was a rare sight for me as I only see the grey ones on the redwood tree in my back garden – this guy is praying to be invisible to the dog.  Oh and after a hike, we enjoyed some tacos at Guisados in Echo Park – highly recommended by a local, where the tortillas were fresh and fish and vegetable tacos were delicious. 

One thing I really enjoyed about LA is the street art everywhere – it reminds me a lot of Melbourne with their laneways of murals created by local artists. The kids enjoyed the fact that artists are commissioned to create art for the streets. I love this Audrey Hepburn mural that we discovered when we wandered into the Toy District of DTLA. 

Tuesday: We packed in around four stops on our trip to downtown LA beginning with booking tickets for The Broad a month ago. So before we hit the gallery the plan was to go to Grand Central Market and check out the food and of course, coffee! To get to the market we took a Lyft to Angels Flight – a cute little funicular tram that took less than a minute to travel downhill, the kids enjoyed it very much and at $1 it was just fine! At the market, I found the tastiest latte made with almond-macadamia milk and served in a 10 oz glass, just the way I like it. From our coffees, my hubby and kids had tacos and horchata then we wandered down to The Last Bookstore for lots of fun photo opportunities and an excellent selection of books! The second floor also had many artist studios with artwork for sale. Oh and we briefly wandered into the Bradbury building to get a feel for history and see where some scenes from Bladerunner were filmed and we did all of this before lunch! 

After lunch we had our tickets to The Broad, I was so happy to be there and see the art that I had only read about in art history books for real. Plus the building itself is spectacular outside and in. To get tickets for this gallery is to book in advance where the tickets are available one month in advance and it is completely free! Now, where on earth can you experience this dream of visiting rooms of contemporary artists in such splendour. The huge sculpture by Nancy Rubin outside is by the MOCA and to us, it looked like a chicken. The kids were done with galleries by this time but if you are alone it would be the perfect end to the day.  Though we did zip across the road to see the Walt Disney Concert Hall which is another marvel of architecture – those pics are on my phone which I need to upload soon. 

Wednesday: On our way home we drove by the hills burned by the fires in Ventura and stopped at Rincon Island (a now-defunct oil drilling platform with a super long jetty). I can see why it was shut down due to pollution as the water there is beautiful and clear and full of life with anemones and mussels by the bunch with a beautiful stretch of beach looking towards Rincon Point known for its perfect surf. 

I had no expectations of our trip to LA and I had heard from friends that they either loved it or hated it. My experience is that I loved it and really enjoyed our experience there with so much to see in such a sprawl and from what I did see I really enjoyed the art and food with no shortage of vegetarian options! One standout was Little Pine a vegan restaurant owned by Moby with all the proceeds going to animal organisations (I found out about it on Insta). It was a dream come true for me going to a vegan restaurant, the food was delicious and filling and the desserts were so tasty – so if you ever go make sure you order wisely and save room for dessert.

I have no idea why I have not spent more time in LA in the twelve years I have been living here but hey better late than never.