Thursday, April 26, 2012

Have a great weekend!

We are off to NYC for the weekend! I am so excited I can hardly contain myself. Tomorrow's visit here is going to make me a very happy girl! Also, this made me giggle. 

Have a great weekend! I can't wait to share all of our adventures when we return next week!!


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Happy Places: Parks

I am a city girl at heart but nothing makes me swoon quite like a gorgeous park in the middle of a big city.  You can see why I am looking forward to visiting Central Park in NYC- it's the ultimate city park! Today I thought I'd share a few of my favorite city parks.

VONDELPARK: Amsterdam is already a terribly charming city and when you add in a gorgeous park like Vondelpark my little heart swoons. I love watching all of the adorable Dutch families and usually bring along a little snack and fresh juice to enjoy in the sunshine.

FOREST HEIGHTS PARK: This park holds a special place in my heart. Tim brought me here when we first starting dating and it has been one of our favorite romantic spots to visit ever since. It's a small park nestled in the west hills of Portland but it's quite lovely. We grab a coffee in the little village nearby and walk around until we find a bench to sit at and talk or admire the beautiful scenery.

VILLA PAMPHILI: Although this park is a little out of the way it was one of my favorite spots to visit in Rome. It's huge and full of gorgeous umbrella pine trees. You can easily spend an entire day roaming the grounds, visiting the historic villa, and hanging with the locals. 

There's oh so many more I'd love to share but they will simply have to wait for another day!

Vondelpark photo via switchimage; Villa Pamphili image via this site

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


It basically goes like this: espresso, pizza, gelato, pasta, repeat

The food in Italy is amazing. I mean really truly madly deeply amazing. But beware: there are many cheap (or not so cheap) impostors! A good rule of thumb is if you spot a restaurant with any of the following qualities, just stay away: menus on large boards with photos of the food, anything in a direct line of sight of any major tourist attraction, or men who are basically trying to grab you off the street and into their restaurant.

Let me introduce this first restaurant by stating that I once went to Rome solely to eat here. Yes, it's that good. You will probably want to visit it more than once, so plan accordingly. La Fraschetta (Via San Francesco a Ripa 134 in Trastevere) looks like a tiny hole in the wall from the outside but is a treasure trove of delicious Italian food on the inside. You must, and I mean MUST, order the bruschetta al pomodoro (see below). It may appear to be simply bread with a tomato on it but do not be fooled. It is heavenly bread drizzled in the most delectable of olive oils, toasted in a wood fire oven with the juiciest slices of seasoned tomatoes on top. Just do it. Don't feel bad if you want to order it in place of desert. It's worth it. My favorite pasta is the Fettucine alla Boscaiola with mushrooms, peas, panchetta, and a tomato cream sauce. The pizza is amazing as well. Tim ordered a simple pizza con prosciutto and I couldn't stop stealing little bites. They have great house wines and the panna cotta would be my choice for desert. 

La Scala (Piazza della Scala 60 in Trastevere) serves some nice and simple pastas that are great for lunch. I enjoyed the spaghetti with olive oil and red pepper flakes and find that sometimes the dishes with the simplest ingredients can be the most difficult to make. But if you chose only one place in Trastevere to eat at, make sure it's La Fraschetta.

If you're out and about sight seeing in the city center I would stop by Colline Emiliane (Via degli Avignonesi 22). Established in 1931 this small restaurant is somewhat hidden yet conveniently located near some of the top sights. The pumpkin ravioli would be my pick!

I am also a big fan of visiting the local supermarkets for lunches and snacks. Since I lived in Trastevere (and it's also one of my favorite neighborhoods) I frequented Supermercato Standa on Viale di Trastevere 60. You can enjoy great breads, cheese, salami and wine on a small budget. If you're in the city center near Piazza Navona or the Coliseum I would stop by Despar (via Giustiniani 18b). It's a basic grocery store but can be a life saver in the land of over priced fruit stands and cafes targeted at tourists. While shopping on Via Cola di Rienzo you can pick up some afternoon snacks at Billa (Via Cole Di Rienzo 0171-173 located inside of the Coin store.) If you want a fresh market make sure to visit Campo dei Fiori (which we will visit again in the shopping guide!) or pop into the local cheese or butcher's shops. Just be ready to test out your Italian skills! 

For local treats to take home I like to peruse Castroni (via Cola di Rienzo 196). They have great dry pastas, spices, chocolates, oils, balsamic vinegars and limoncellos. These make great gifts for your loved ones!

Make sure you enjoy a lot of cappuccinos, lattes and espressos. Drink them at the counter like a true Roman or you'll end up paying extra for table service. I like to try out all of the different pastries each cafe has to offer. I usually wander down windy side streets until I find a cafe that has some charm and looks interesting. I don't think I ever came across a cafe that wasn't any good. The espresso is so good that they would have to try pretty hard to make it bad. 

The same goes for gelato. I usually pick spots based on how fluffy and rich their gelato displays are. There are some famous spots (I'll let the existing guide books tell you about those) but I recommend discovering your own! I came across a fantastic little spot nestled against a cobbled wall full of ivy that I would have never found in a guide book. I stumbled upon it while browsing tiny streets full of antique shops not too far from Piazza Navona. My favorite flavors are pistachio, Nutella, coffee, or lemon on a hot day. If you are near the Trevi Fountain you can stop by Melograno Gelateria on P. Di Trevi 101. Near the Vatican there's a great little spot called Blue Ice (Via Ottaviano n.7) that serves up a good gelato as well as some other sweet treats.

Enjoy and buon appetito

When In Rome

Buon giorno! Welcome to my city guide for Rome, "When in Rome". I am thrilled to share all of my favorite places to eat and drink, the best shopping areas, and my favorite sights to see. Creating a travel guide of sorts has been on my to do list for a long time. Throughout my travels I have kept journals documenting the hits and misses and must sees. Traveling to new and exciting places is one of my many passions but I find that most guide books lead you to places that are full of tourists and rarely give you a true taste of the city. I hope these guides inspire you to take off on your own adventure and discover the wonders of the city!

I first visited Roma in the summer of 2005 on my own version of a "Grand Tour" of Europe. See that photograph of St. Peter's Basillica in the gorgeous Italian sunset? That captures the exact moment that I fell in love with Rome. I decided right then and there that I wanted to participate in a study abroad program in the Eternal City and applied as soon as school was back in session. The next summer I took off for another summer abroad. At the end of my travels I set up shop in Rome. I lived in an adorable apartment in Trastevere and would spend hours wandering the cobblestone streets admiring all of the history surrounding me. It was truly an amazing and unforgettable experience. But nothing compares to spending a week sharing the wonders of this great city with my husband on our honeymoon. That was the good life.

First up, "What To Eat When In Rome" because (obviously) we all know the food is the most important!!

A Case of the Mondays

Yesterday was Monday. You see, Monday and I don't always get along. Yesterday Monday decided to be extra cruel to me. The day began well. The sun was out (good job, Portland!) and my spirits were up! I was ready to conquer the day. But it wasn't long before I was feeling defeated by the no good Monday. 

That is until my loving husband came to pick me up from work and lifted my spirits up with his comforting and encouraging words. Just when I think there is nothing anyone can say or do to change how I feel, he goes and does it. He even suggested we have cereal for dinner! We got 3 boxes of cereal, including the delicious Peanut Butter Panda Puffs, just to make sure we were covered. I am a pretty lucky lady. 

So thank you husband for always making me smile and for helping me look to the future with positivity and excitement.  And for knowing that sometimes cereal for dinner is what a girl needs. You make this little lady pretty darn happy. 


Monday, April 23, 2012

Chocolate and The Meadow

Salt. Chocolate. Fresh Flowers. Perfection .

Although my trips may be infrequent, I really enjoy The Meadow on NE Mississippi in Portland. They have an entire wall dedicated to every type of salt one could imagine, and another wall dedicate to artisan chocolates. Right in the middle of it all you can find a wide variety of gorgeous fresh flowers. 
I love all three of these things so it's no surprise that I adore The Meadow. I highly recommend a little trip over to the NE to walk up and down Mississippi. There are so many unique and fun stores to visit, including an ice cream shop that makes a honey lavender flavor that is to die for!

Speaking of chocolate, I will forever be grateful to my good friend Susan for introducing me to Dagoba Organic Chocoalte. More specifically, their Lavender Blueberry Dark Chocolate bar. I was skeptical at first, but it's so good! I recently picked up two new flavors to try: Roseberry and Beaucoup Berries. I picked these up at the New Seasons Market. They carry a large variety of Dagoba flavors I have not yet tried and they have them in individual bite size pieces too...! What's a girl to do?! 

I like trying unique flavors when it comes to sweets. Do you have any favorites? I know Bacon Chocolate is the hot item right now, but I'm just not ready for that quite yet.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

At Work

Despite the gorgeous weather outside I decided that today I would stay in and work on my paintings in the studio. I am glad I did because I ended up finishing a piece I have been working on for a while now. I have a habit of completely losing track of time while I am working and like to make sure I give myself a big chunk of the day dedicated to doing nothing but creating. I listen to music while I paint and enjoy all of the different memories and feelings that come with listening to a particular song. Here's a sampling of my playlist for today:

  1. Electric Light Orchestra "Living Thing": ELO always reminds me of my father and all the great music he introduced us to at such a young age. 
  2. Elton John "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road": Old school Elton is the best Elton.
  3. Neil Young "After The Gold Rush": "Harvest Moon" is my favorite, but this is pretty good too. 
  4. Jovanotti "Penelope": I discovered Jovanotti while I was living in Italy in college. Italian rap is kind of amazing. 
  5. Coldplay "Fix You": Sometimes I forget just how long I have been listening to Coldplay. This album reminds me of the summer I spent traveling Europe in 2005, especially the sunny days in London. 
  6. The Black Keys "Tighten Up": The Black Keys are a newer addition to my music family but I can't seem to get enough!
  7. Electric Light Orchestra "Hold On Tight": I am kind of obsessed. 
  8. Miike Snow "Song For No One": Ok, I take it back. I am actually obsessed with Miike Snow right now.
  9. Harry Nilsson "Without You": Are you familiar with "The Puppy Song"? If not, you should be. My dad used to play it for me and it was only the best song ever. Once I finally get a dog, it will be our theme song. 
  10. Cut Copy "Lights and Music (Moulinex Remix)": 'Cause you gotta mix it up a little.
And here's the painting I finished today:

Amanda Donahue, "The Cubans", Acrylic on Canvas, 2012.


Later this week Mr. Butter and I will be jetting of to NYC for a few days and boy-oh-boy are we excited!!! I have been itching for a NY trip for quite some time now and will probably need many return visits to do and see everything on my list.

Some things we are looking forward to:
-Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge and grabbing some pizza at Grimaldi's.
-Walking through Central Park and perhaps a picnic too!
-Visiting the Museum of Modern Art (FREE on Friday nights!!)
-Macaroons! Which is better- La Maison du Macaron or Laduree?
-A little shopping in SoHo and perhaps a good Flea Market (I hear the good ones are in Hell's Kitchen and Brooklyn).
-Shake Shack!
-Visiting some art schools (I am preparing to apply for a MFA program!)
-Perhaps taking in a show (music or broadway- Death of a Salesman with Phillip Seymour Hoffman looks pretty amazing!)
-Ground Zero Memorial
-Flatiron Building/District
-Visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney, and the Guggenheim (I told you I might need a few trips...)
-Poking around Eataly- it looks kind of amazing!

Any suggestions on what to see or do? We'd love to hear them!

We are staying in Greenwich Village and scored some great deals on direct flights with Jet Blue. We're taking a red eye flight so we'll have to sleep fast and be ready to hit the ground running when we get there!

Bonus: My mom and step dad are meeting us for a weekend in the city so we also get to spend time with family!! My mom lives in the far away land of Florida so we don't get to see each other as often as we'd like. I can't wait!

Central Park Skyline photo via here.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

DIY Lace Loop Scarf

Last Christmas I really wanted to create some DIY items that I could give to my friends and family as gifts. I've made a dozen crochet scarves over the years, but this year I wanted something different. Something a bit more stylish and versatile. I had seen a lot of loop scarves as of late, but decided they needed a little something extra. So I added lace! 

Supplies needed:
-1 to 2 yards of a stretch cotton jersey fabric (length depends on how many times you want to wrap the scarf or how low you want it to hang)
-1/2 to 1 yard of lace (I tried a few variations and found that the less delicate lace worked best. The amount of lace you get will depend on the ratio of lace to jersey that you want. I find it's always best to have a little extra on hand just in case!)
-Thread (matching the color of your fabrics)
-Needle for sewing by hand
-Sewing Machine

Since I made this project almost 6 months ago I don't have full step by step photos. Overall it's a pretty simple sewing project, and I will describe the steps in detail. 

1. Fold your jersey fabric lengthwise in half ("hot dog" style- do you remember the hot dog vs. hamburger folding technique from school?). 
2. Pin the two sides together so they stay in place when you sew them together. You will only need to sew one side since the folded side is already connected. Once you have sewn down length of the fabric, turn it right side out to hide the stitching.  Leave the ends open so you can add the lace. When you are done with this step your scarf will look like a tube. 
3. Do these same steps with your lace fabric. Now you will have two tubes!
4. Sew the lace onto one end of the jersey tube. I did this step by hand since the lace was too delicate for my sewing machine. 
5. Sew the other end of the jersey tube to the other end of the lace tube. This is the trickiest part and should be done by hand as well. Don't worry about it being perfect. When the scarf is draped around your neck it will not show the imperfections.

You could do so many different variations of this project! I like the contrast of the lace with the casual jersey cotton, but you could add any type of textured fabric in place of the lace! If you substitute the jersey for something else, make sure it's a durable stretchy fabric. 

I made this black and tan version for my mother. I like that it's chic enough for a nice dinner but casual enough to wear with jeans too!

I made this green and pink version for my best friend Liz. I love the color combo- it's funky but fresh! 

Feel free to email me if you have questions or glitches along the way! Enjoy!

Butter Goes to the Zoo

A few weeks ago my sister was in Portland and we took a trip to the Oregon Zoo! We are both big animal lovers (that might be a bit of an understatement) and enjoyed getting to say hello to all of the animals. 

Even though it was a cloudy day, all of the animals were out to play! We had mixed feelings about the Sun Bear (bottom right). Do you see the claws on that thing?! But do you also see how adorable and rolly-polly he is?

This poor monkey was just so down on life. He sat like that for a long time...

The highlight of the visit was definitely the elephants!!! 
Especially when this baby elephant was getting a check up from the "doctor". It was beyond adorable. 

Spending time with adorable animals = a lovely day indeed. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Happy Friday!

At last, it has come! Friday sweet Friday. In celebration of this happy day I am going to share a few things that bring a smile to my face.

MACARONS: These sweet little treats are gorgeous AND delicious. I shied away from them for many years since I usually don't go for non-chocolate sweet treats. But their seductive beauty lured me in and now I am hooked! I love trying new flavors (lavender, olive oil, sea salt and caramel!) and can't wait to visit Lauderee on our upcoming trip to NYC! 

SUMMER SANDALS: I have been obsessing over cute summer sandals lately, which is unfortunate for me because it has remained gray and rainy here in the NW with the sun rarely coming out to say hello. You can find these here. I love the red and yellow versions!

VOLUSPA CANDLES: I first encountered these at Anthropologie. If you haven't discovered these for  yourself yet, let me tell you- they smell amazing!!! I am partial to the Santiago Huckleberry but really, they are all fantastic. 

BUBBLEROONS: It's no secret now that I love macaroons, so of course I LOVE these Bubbleroons from Lush! They are bubble bars with a coconut oil "icing" in the middle. Simply crumble these little wonders under running water and enjoy the best bubble bath you've ever had. Each 'roon is made for two baths. I am still testing out all of the different scents, but so far my favorite is the Rose Jam. 


Macaron photo via Gigabiting; Sandals via BC Footwear; Voluspa candle via Amazon; Bubbleroons via Lush.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Honeymooners

Mr. Butter and I had the blessing of being able to travel to Rome on our honeymoon. It was an absolute dream come true! Instead of having a traditional wedding gift registry, we opted for a honeymoon registry with Honeyfund. We are so grateful to everyone who contributed to making our Italian honeymoon a reality. 

More photos and tales of our adventures...

We endured quite a long journey to get to our destination. I made sure to keep Tim informed and educated him on the history of Rome. Yes, I am a nerd.

Once we experienced the sweet joy of finally arriving we were greeted with sunshine and much welcomed warm weather. It was absolutely gorgeous. 

There were so many sights to see, so many wonders! 

And the food, oh the food. We ate pizza, gelato, and pasta every single day. It was delightful. 

We were carefree and enjoying every single moment in wedded bliss.

I gave a thumbs down at the Colosseum. I'm tough.

Mini car!!

We had some serious jet lag during our time abroad. But some of my favorite memories are from the nights spent awake together in our little apartment, sneaking off to the kitchen for a midnight snack of salami and mozzarella, and feeling like two kids who were up way past their bed time.

We couldn't get enough lattes and cappuccinos. We looked forward to it each morning...and maybe a few times throughout the day as well....

It was perfection, and yet full of surprises and adventure! I will cherish those memories forever.


I am excited to announce that I will be doing a series of city guides. First up, Rome! I spent a semester doing study abroad in the Eternal city, and have been a visitor many times since. I am looking forward to sharing all of my favorite places and spaces with you!

Happy Places

There are certain places I can go and spend endless amounts of time wandering around in pure happiness. For me, the art store is one of those places. I have to go up and down each and every aisle, making sure I don't miss a single possible treasure. Confession: I might go up and down every aisle twice.

Oh, paint brushes. You are one of my favorites. I love the way the soft synthetic bristles feel. And finding the biggest brush out of the bunch. On the inside I feel like a child again, wanting to run up to the next person I see and tell them "Wow!!! Did you see how big this one is?!" 

Unfortunately, I can't seem to enter an art supply store without leaving with a bag full of goodies. There's always a new paint color I haven't tried, a brush that needs replacing, or canvas that needs to come home with me "just in case". You never know when there could be a canvas crisis!

Art supply stores of the world, thank you for being one of my happy places!

What are some of your special spots?

Let It Burn

On our last trip over to the Oregon coast we witnessed a controlled fire during our bike ride. I had never seen anything like it! We were across the river from the site but you could still feel the heat. It was mesmerizing to watch. 

Have you ever witnessed a controlled fire? I could have sat there and watched those flames all day. The colors were amazing!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Butter Goes To PAM

One night last week Tim had to work late, so I decided to take myself on a date to the Portland Art Museum to see the Mark Rothko exhibit. I always end up roaming the oh so familiar modern and contemporary galleries while I am there, and leave feeling energized and inspired. 

"The subject of painting is the painting itself" -Mark Rothko
 This is the first comprehensive Rothko exhibit I have been to and it was such a pleasure to be able to see his journey into abstraction. I am obsessed with the electric blue in the painting above, "Untitled (Harvard Mural Sketch)", 1962. However, one of my favorite qualities of walking into a room full of Rothkos is the power that the large scale paintings evoke. It feels as if you are literally walking into the work. 

Duane Hanson, "Dishwasher", 1973.
This piece completely startled me when I walked into this gallery. I only caught it out of the corner of my eye initially and thought someone was sitting in the gallery contemplating one of the pieces. Even after I realized it was actually a highly realistic sculpture I still felt like I was encroaching on a private moment. 

I found these little treats in the museum gift shop. I adore French macaroons and was delighted by these  tiny trinket boxes. Museum gift shops are a treasure trove of unique objects.

A night at the museum is always a lovely night. 

*Artwork depicted in title photo is "Untitled (To Donna)" by Dan Flavin. I always love a good Dan Flavin piece!