Nothing like a calm Friday morning to reflect on the past week... or in my case, the past couple of weeks! I was scrolling through my iPhone camera roll a few days ago, and stumbled across stacks of pictures from my family's end-of-the-year vacation to Portland, Oregon, from the last few days of 2017. On this trip, not only did I get to partake in some of my favorite activities with my family - like hitting up our hot spots of the Portland brunch scene - but we also took in one of the coolest art museums exhibits I've ever seen, and, of course, stop by a certain bookish mecca in the middle of the city.
So I figured, why not share some of the special snapshots from this vacation with you?
We like to take a short, local trip right after Christmas, as a means of sort of shaking out of the holidays, and getting ready to start the new year. While Portland was our choice to primarily introduce the family to the intended college campus of my youngest sister, Maddie, for undergrad next year - and to really give her a good feel, it was raining the whole time! - we also know that there's no short of fun things to do down there. Like eat!
Mother's Bistro had a welcoming atmosphere, an amazing menu, and a line out the door. Jam packed with home-recipe-inspired, yet still uniquely delicious options - the salmon hash, pictured on the right, was an absolute standout! - this spot was probably my favorite. However, Brix Tavern is an old favorite for brunch standbys, too, in a cool, trendy location, with unique shopping opportunities nearby. Of course we made time for non-brunch faves, like stopping into the Deschutes Brewery for dinner.
But once you've had brunch, then where do you go? Well, a couple of weeks before our trip, an ad had popped up on my Instagram that immediately sent me sprinting into the other room to tell my Mom. Laika Entertainment - one of our family's favorite animation studios - had their traveling exhibit installed at the Portland Art Museum... which meant, of course, I was looking forward to it for most of December.
And so, apparently, had other people: the line to get into the museum practically kept us waiting in the rain! "Animating Life: The Art, Science, and Wonder of Laika" had already been open for about two months, but you wouldn't have guessed it from the number of people in attendance. If you're trying to go before the exhibit closes on May 20th, I'd suggest making your plans soon.
But even the number of people could not deter the fun... the exhibit did not disappoint for even a second! The spacious exhibit hall was positively jam-packed with props, costuming, set pieces, and figures, from some of the most innovative stop-motion animated movies of the past decade, including Coraline, Kubo and the Two Strings, The Boxtrolls, and my personal fave, Paranorman. We walked out with tons of pictures, of course, but also something fun for me: a copy of The Art and Making of Paranorman by Jed Alger, featuring concept art, pictures, and personal anecdotes from people who worked on the movie.
Of course, my new purchase sat within its shrink-wrapped bonds for a few days, in honor of my 2017 Resolution. After a lot of back-and-forth, I decided that the Resolution still stood, provided that I leave the book alone until the new year... which made for some wistful staring in my hotel room.
Powell's City of Books!
This Portland wonder is a legend in not only PNW-quirkdom, but also in bookish culture, as it is, quite literally, a city block's worth of buildings in the middle of downtown Portland, packed to the rafters with new and used books. I've mentioned it on the blog before, because it's one of my favorite places in the world... and, of course, because I can never walk away from these excursions without a few (or eight, or nine) new reads in my arms.
I conscripted Maddie to take some pictures of me browsing, in the hopes that at least one of the candids would turn out surprisingly cute and magically flattering, which is why I now have a solid album of photos on my phone with me gazing somewhat bewilderingly in a labyrinth of books.
In the end, I emerged with a stack of new-to-me titles, that were almost all under $10.50 each!
|NONFICTION PART ONE|
Normally I wouldn't consider a book with that kind of title to really be my speed, but after Damon and Jo recommended it in one of their 12 Days of Collabmas videos, I had to at least check it out. Besides, this straight-laced obediency freak really needs as much help with not-conforming as she can get!
Better than Before, Gretchen Rubin
What's a new year's book haul without at least a couple self-help titles? I loved Rubin's The Happiness Project when I read it during my senior year of college - the year of my life that is probably the poster child for trying to make things
The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life, James Martin, SJ
Because it's hard to follow Jesus' teachings in real life, but much easier to follow them on Twitter, I happen to fill my feed with tweets from Pope Francis, and this guy, Father James Martin. Compassionate, relatable, and a figurehead of the modern progressive Catholic movement, this New York Times bestselling author is a favorite of mine when in bite-size pieces... let's see what I can learn from a whole book!
|NONFICTION PART TWO|
Despite the fact that this book has been on my Goodreads TBR shelves since a few months before it had even come out, I wasn't actually the one to find this title in the many, many rooms of Powell's... it was my Mom! Nevertheless, I can't wait to read it, as well as see what she thinks once she's read it too.
The Polysyllabic Spree and Shakespeare Wrote for Money, Nick Hornby
Before you ask, NO, I did NOT realize there was a book - Housekeeping Vs. The Dirt - that was supposed to fit in the middle of this series, a collection of Hornby's works as he wrote the "Stuff I've Been Reading" columns for The Believer. And NO, I did not know there is one that follows after (More Baths, Less Talking). The shelf was very confusing, and I panicked!
|FICTION (yes, believe it or not, this is all of the fiction I picked up this time!)|
I've been looking for a good fantasy fave from the non-YA section, and thanks to some stellar recommendations, this one had been on my TBR for a while! I'm pretty lucky to have grabbed it, because it was the only copy of the first installment in the series that was on the shelf.
Mr. Fox, Helen Oyeyemi
I absolutely fell in love with Boy, Snow, Bird, when I read it on a camping trip early last summer, and was ready to pick up another of Oyeyemi's titles. While I considered her other notable works - like White is for Witching, and What is Not Yours is Not Yours - this one seemed the most interesting, while also being the most cost-effective. (The other books were a little too well-loved, at too high a price to justify it!)
Look at Me, Jennifer Egan
Egan has been an autobuy author and personal favorite since I first read her Pulitzer-winning A Visit from the Goon Squad in my freshman year English class. Unfortunately, that means that the books I have on hers on my TBR have now outstripped the number of books of hers that I've actually read... and I get my hands on Manhattan Beach as quickly as I want to, that's going to be one more atop the pile!
So not only was Portland inspiring - as always - but it has given me plenty of new books to lean into 2018 with, alongside all of those new ideas. While we probably won't get the chance to return terribly soon, I think I have plenty of reading material to enjoy in the meantime!
Have you ever visited Powell's Books? Where is your favorite bookish destination? Let me know, in the comments below!