Silverton, Oregon


Oregon like most rural states is littered with small charming towns. Not terribly well know, to either tourists or locals in nearby cities. I grew up in small towns though, so even while I lived the majority of the last 15 years in Portland I would often seek small towns for weekend retreats.

I have managed to make it to just about every one of them within a two hour radius of Portland and now that I live in one of them I spend even more time wandering around country roads discovering new areas to spend my time.

A few months ago, when Oregon was still in the grips of an ice age, or what most people would call an average winter (I complained a lot this year about our third snow to my coworkers in Minneapolis and got no sympathy), out of desperation for change a friend took me on a surprise adventure in Silverton.

Silverton is situated just north of Salem along Silver Creek, which is fed from the 10 waterfalls in the Silver Falls State Park the largest in Oregon. The town like any has had it’s controversies and triumphs the later more famously known is the story of Bobbie the Wonder Dog who after being separated from his owner in Indiana found his way back home to Oregon six months later.

Now a days the town is fairly quiet though with the uptick in Portland residents the small surrounding towns are enjoying some extra tourism. The town which had been fairly quiet when I was younger is now filled with antique stores, cafe’s and jewelry shops.

We spent the better part of the day between the antique stores and the book store. I always love seeing small independent book stores and try my best to help support them. This one in particular was a used book store as well and I managed to find a few items to add to my collection of out of print books.

After checking out the book store we headed down to the waterfront walk, and were pleasantly surprised by the local food coop, a small nursery in an old gas station and a jewelry store that had an impressive collection. I bought myself a pair of earnings, but what I really wanted was everything in the store.

We ended our day at a local café next to the river, sharing a table full of crepes and coffee. It was lovely. Good company, and a pleasant outing to distract from the fact that our spring is about two months behind this year and we are all dying of vitamin D deficiency.

Things that shouldn’t be missed:


Ruddick/Wood Tavern – Newberg, Oregon

One of the harder things about leaving the city is that suddenly there aren’t a lot of local places to pop into for a drink or a snack. At least that seems that case in the Portland area. Though given how little I drink leaving the bar scene wasn’t a sacrifice by any means.

Though from time to time a girl needs a local place to sit down with her girlfriend for a good old fashioned gab fest and have a glass of champagne and a plate of fries. Enter the Ruddick/Wood Tavern in Newberg Oregon.

It has all the relaxed PNW charm without any of the traffic or parking challenges of it’s city counterparty. The interior was left mostly salvaged and the walls are adorned with topographical maps of the local hills.

It’s not a large place but it does offer a fair amount of seating options, and while it has always been pretty busy when we go in we have always found a seat. We try to make it on Wednesdays for their “Whiskey Wednesday” specials. The selection is extensive and I have not yet had to order the same drink twice, except for their sparkling rose. But that was on purpose because it is so delicious it is hard not to repeat the glass, bottle <insert serving of choice> over and over again.

Every time we go in we make a pact to order something different off the food menu, I think it has really only worked about half the time. They have an excellent rotating cheese plate that we keep ordering and have never been disappointed. I think we may order it because the menu says “cheese and accoutrements” which halfway through a bottle of champagne becomes too much for us to handle and we probably wind up ordering it because we find it so funny.

The other must order is the fries plate, which comes in a variety of options. We have ordered them all and I don’t think I can say which is my favorite. They are all good and worth a try.

You can find the Ruddick/Wood Tavern at 720 E. First St, Newberg, OR 97132. It is around the corner from the main restaurant Ruddick/Wood which serves lunch and dinner from 11:30am to 9pm.


Baixa – Lisbon, Portugal

Another one of my favorites in Lisbon was the Baixa neighborhood. This is the area of town that was flattened during the giant earthquake in 1755. When it was rebuilt it was rebuilt in the “modern” style (modern for the time) and with straight roads. It is one of the only areas of Lisbon with straight roads. It reminded me a lot of the main shopping district in Vienna, though Vienna’s pedestrian only shopping street seems to be endless, where as Lisbon’s is just the right size.

The central street is a pedestrian only street choc-a-bloc full of restaurants, cafes and shops. The side streets off the main pedestrian only space are also pedestrian only, though as you get further out more and more streets have car traffic as well. At one end you have the Terreiro Do Paço a public square on the waterfront that is ringed by cafes and restaurants. And at the other end a rather busy square that houses hotels, public transit stops and the Rossio Train Station.

The mix of architecture in the area is overwhelming, sings from the 1920’s standing on buildings built in the 1700s and everything in between. The main square which I think may be called Rossio Square though I couldn’t find any definitive information, has a large fountain in the center and is surrounded by a stunning array of services from old shoe shops, tabaco shops, modern hotels, pawn shops, fancy restaurants, bars,  jewelers, and even a McDonalds.


The apartments at the top of each building in the square reminded of apartment’s in Paris though I suppose that shouldn’t have been surprising given they probably belong to the same architectural time.

We spent a lot of time in the Baixa, it was close to where we were staying and given the time of year and that it is a fairly bustling tourist hub a lot of the services were open where other areas may not have been. There were loads of shops for me to spend my evenings wandering around in, as a non night-scene person it was really nice to have a reason to be out without all the drama of bars and clubs. There was also this ridiculously cute pug having a ride about town.

There was also several pastry shops that we visited on more than one occasion. They were crowded and frenetic and made amazing coffee. They were always stuffed full of locals and severed everything from pizza to Portuguese pastries like our favorite, Chocolate Salami.

Chocolate Salami in fact has nothing to do with meat but is a chocolate fudgy dessert that is rolled up with cookies and nuts and then sliced to serve.  We ate a lot of it, and I mean A LOT OF IT. I think I probably had some everyday. Lisbon is known for the Pastel De Nata which are very good but I Chocolate Salami really blew me away.

Part of the draw for me to the Baixa was the use of it in the filming of the Spanish Language TV show El Tiempo Entre Costuras or The Time In Between. Which is adapted from the book of the same name. Most of the show is filmed on location in Moracco and Madrid but the later part of the story heavily highlights Portugal and Lisbon and Estoril were used in filming.


One such filming location, though technically in the Chiado district it is only a block or so down from the Baixia, is the glove shop Luvaria Ulisses which has been operational since 1925. As a lover of all things Art Deco I knew I had to go there and buy a pair of handmade gloves. The shop is so tiny there is only room for the shop attendant and one or two customers. What you see below is literally the whole shop, when you walk in there is nothing more but the small door to the closet like stockroom. But it was charming and wonderful and we all of course walked out with gloves.



Helvetia Culture Fest

In August one of my good friends asked if I wanted to go to Helvetia Culture Fest. I hadn’t seen her in a while and the Helvetia Tavern makes one of my all time favorite hamburgers. So with visions of spending the day with a good friend and fatty fried food dancing in my head I said yes.

**Looking south into the Tualitan Valley**

Later I decided it might be a good idea to read up on the actual event to see what my hamburger fever made me agree to. Well turns out it is an event in the small farming community of Helvetia Oregon, intended to celebrate the original Native American inhabitant the Tualatins and the “Swiss-German settlers who came to the area in the 1870s”.

**Too pretty to not take more than one picture of the valley**

On a personal note my family homesteaded the North Plains and Helvetia areas, one such family Swiss immigrants from Grindelwald Switzerland.

**Cedar barn that held the indoor portion of the festivities**

The festival itself was small, located on an alpaca farm overlooking the Tualatin Valley. The events for the day included several readings by the local poet laureate, a performance by the Painted Sky Dancers, local culture expert Ginny Maples, a pie walk, silent auction, German food and drinks as well as several local vendors.

**Painted Sky Dancers**

It was a small festival, but really very nice, the food was great and everyone was happy and kind. It wouldn’t be on the top of my to-do list again but I did thoroughly enjoy myself.


Do you enjoy cultural festivals. What is one of the most memorable you have attended?



English Tea

I have yet to make it to England, but high tea has always interested me. The history, the ceremony,china, food, tea, fancy dresses…short of somehow gracefully inserting a taco course it is basically the greatest meal ever invented.

**Need inspiration to throw a party read this book! Super sweet YA story**

The only two times I have had high tea were while on vacation. Once at the Peninsula Hotel in Chicago. The second at the Grant House in Vancouver Washington. The tea service at the Grant House was very quaint. It had rained fairly hard that afternoon and I had taken the opportunity to explore the Fort Vancouver area a bit. Unfortunately I had found myself as far away from the Grant House as possible while still being in the park right when it started raining, hard. By the time I got back I looked like a drowned rat. I spent most of the afternoon sitting in a very old-fashioned and formal sitting room drinking tea and eating biscuits while trying not to drip water everywhere.

**Non-traditional cucumber sandwiches but delicious anyway**

The Peninsula Hotel felt like I needed to be a Kennedy to fit in. Surrounded by socialites, investment bankers and an entire table of the upper echelons of the Chicago archdiocese. It may sound like a set up for the worlds greatest joke but it really isn’t.

Though when I sauntered off to the restroom and  slid across the hall way and gracelessly fell into the door I felt like a bit of a joke. Not to be out done by my second trick however, I accidentally  broke the faucet on the only sink in the bathroom causing a large volume of water to come gushing out into the main hallway. Just another day in the life. You are welcome world.


**The dessert tray**

High tea services tend to be fairly few and far between out here on the west coast. Then when they can be located aren’t at the best times for those of us that keep regular office hours, or find spending an inordinate amount of money for cream tea and snacks. So a few weeks ago, on a whim I asked a friend if she wanted to have tea at her house and I set to work.


**Scones course, there is nothing better than jam and clotted cream**

Turns out creating a menu for a high tea service is incredibly easy. It took me all of an hour start to finish to put together the meal.

Cucumber Sandwiches course:

– 1/2 cup cream cheese

-1/2 cup sour cream

– cucumber

– 4 slices of bread

– 2 chives

– pepper to taste

Whip dairy together, chop chives and stir. Peel and thinly slice cucumbers. Evenly spread dairy on all slices of bread, layer cucumbers on two, sprinkle with pepper. Top cucumber halves with plain halves, carefully slice and serve immediately.


**We added a fruit course as well**

Scones with Clotted Cream course:

Clotted cream – I have read a bajillion recipes about how to make this. Most involve leaving cream in the oven for 12 hours. I’m lazy, so I did this instead.

– 1 cup heavy cream

– 1tbs powered sugar

– 1/3 cup sour cream

Whisk, whip, beat or will into existence whip cream by combining sugar and heavy cream. Stir in sour cream, et voila.


– 2 cups all-purpose flour

– 1/4 cup white sugar

– 2 tsp baking powder

– 1 tsp salt

– 1 stick cold butter

– 1/2 cup heavy cream

– a few tables spoons of cold water.

I make my scones a lot like I make my pie crust. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Grate or finely chop cold butter into dry ingredients. With a sturdy fork, cut butter into flour mixture until it resembles sand. Stir in whip cream, add cold water one table-spoon at a time until no longer dry, but slightly sticky. Cut down into one inch round balls, put on greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 until starting to turn golden brown. 20 or some minutes but oven temps vary so much it’s hard to say.

Serve scones with cream and jam.

Dessert course:

This one I never make anything for. The ideal high tea has a wide array of fussy little confections. To achieve the proper assortment one would wind up baking for days and have an entire kitchen full of sweets. Just go to your local bakery and pick a couple tasty looking treats that you can cut down into bite sized bits.

**Tea and Sandwich**

Tea and set up:

– tea

– cream

– sugar

– serving trays, various sizes of muffin papers, or any other sort of party decor.

– small plates, cutlery  and tea cups.

**The full table arrangement before we dove in and immediately ate everything**

Arrange your trays however the mood strikes you. Eat, drink and be merry!



What is your favorite place for tea service? Do you have any favorite tea snack recipes or favorite teas?

McMenamins Hotels

I am sure locals to the Portland Metro Area have a lot to say about McMenamins franchise as a whole. Some love them and some hate them. It is just one of those things.

I have no strong feelings either way on the restaurants. The food is fine, the service is usually fast and the interiors are pretty interesting. The thing that my husband and I really like though as the destination hotels. Particularly the Edgefield, Kennedy School and Grand Lodge locations.

Edgefield will always be my favorite. With cheap beautiful rooms, several bars and restaurants, a golf course, spa, music venue and theater it is really an mini vacation just outside the city. I have spent several birthdays there, playing golf and using the spa. They also have a large outdoor music venue that I have enjoyed several concerts at.

**Sunset on Grand Lodge table tops**

Kennedy School was our go two for a long time, it was near our house. And with several bars, billiard games, a soaking pool and a theater it was a great place for date nights and with hotel rooms if you couldn’t drive home, you could always check in and get a delicious breakfast before going home. We had our VERY informal rehearsal dinner here and had our wedding pictures taken in one of the court yards. A couple months ago a friend and I even stayed over so that we could go to a Bowie cover band and then not have to drive all the way back out of the city after the show.


**Kennedy School Views**

The Grand Lodge is new to us, but is currently the closest location to our house. With a hotel, spa, soaking pool, theater, and disc golf course we wind up spending a good deal of time down there. We haven’t managed to make it there for a movie or even Frisbee golf. But we did walk around a medieval festival this spring and I can usually be found sitting on the porch enjoying a cup of coffee or a drink while reading a good book.

**Grand Lodge’s porch**

All the hotel locations are great for weekend getaways, there is plenty to do, you never have to actually leave them and everything is relatively well priced. I love staying for special events, since we now live out of the city it is really fun to stay at one of the hotels so we don’t have to go back. Or even for a special even like New Years, with inclusive design you can have a drink, walk around, try a different bar and then just wander back to your room. No driving needed.