Behind barres

And… end radio silence. So sorry that we’ve been quiet all week! Between Beth’s due date (yesterday!) and Lindsey’s moving date (last weekend), we haven’t been focused on much else, to be honest. But we’re back. Now if only Beth’s baby boy would join us! Our new favorite activity is going on “labor walks” together. This walk, taught to Beth by her yoga instructor, basically involves walking at a fast clip, while rubbing your belly, until you feel a contraction (or, if you’re not pregnant, until your friend feels a contraction), and then performing a deep squat on the spot. It’s designed to initiate labor. The regulars in Mt. Tabor park clearly don’t know what to think of this behavior, but we don’t really care. Anything to help bring baby Yuen into this world sooner rather than later is totally normal at this point, if you ask us.

Another locally-inspired workout that we’re pretty excited about right now is Barre3, which is a combination of ballet, yoga and Pilates. Created by Sadie Lincoln, who also happens to train Madonna (if you want two tickets to the gun show in advance, please let us know), this total body training method is taught in studios all over, but it’s based right here in our lovely city. Lindsey took a class at the Pearl studio this morning and is convinced that she’ll be feeling the effects of all those plie squats and triceps kickbacks tomorrow. Our instructor, Amy, took us through a series of isolated arm movements, with high reps and light weights, and then led us into some targeted lower body ballet barre work. Ouch. After the barre, we hit the floor for some ab exercises and stretches. The time flew by, the music was great (Like a Prayer seriously came on at one point, which admittedly made us smile mid-squat, thinking about Madonna’s ripped arms and how she could, hypothetically speaking, be standing beside us in class at that moment), and the intensity was good—hard enough to know you’d feel it afterwards, but not so hard that you couldn’t make it through many reps.

Sadie told us this morning that the southeast studio was her favorite set-up, so we can’t wait to check it out, too. Maybe we’ll even be able to take advantage of their complimentary childcare services next time…

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Bowled Over

As you know, we adore Portland’s food cart scene. Tasty food served by friendly people—what’s not to love? But as great as it can be to get a meal from a cart, it’s not always the speediest thing in the world (we won’t name names, but once we waited a full 45 minutes for a tray of simple veggie sushi…). And while Portland is definitely not a rush, rush, rush kind of place, there are days when we need to just grab something and go.

We stumbled upon a solution a few days ago. Our refrigerator was desperately low on food, so we headed to the grocery store to stock up. On the way, we noticed a few people walking into The Whole Bowl and remembered that we’d been wanting to try it out. At first we were confused by the fact that there wasn’t a single menu in the whole place, but the girl behind the counter explained why: They have one thing. It’s called, unsurprisingly, The Whole Bowl, and it has brown rice, red and black beans, avocado, salsa, black olives, sour cream, cheddar cheese, cilantro, and a lemon-garlic-y blend called Tali sauce (it was invented by owner Tali Ovadia).

Looks good, right?

You have a choice of two sizes—small ($5) or regular ($5.50)—and you can customize it however you want (easy on the sour cream, drop the olives, etc.). We got the small with everything, and it was plenty. And man, was it good. The sauce is the secret. There’s something about that lemon-garlic combo that makes the dish more the sum of its parts.

The best part? There’s virtually zero waiting. We ordered, paid, and were handed our bowl all within 2 minutes. Now that’s fast food!

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Runner Up!

Today (6/1) was National Running Day, and we almost didn’t celebrate. Blasphemous. We had to turn an assignment in, worked all day, and barely wrapped everything up by 7:30pm. It was almost late enough to brush off our workout, but knowing that it was a running-specific holiday, we had to rally. Off to the gym we went to do our favorite quickie (just 30 minutes) treadmill routine, the ladder. We watched The Food Network (why is this always on at the gym?!) the whole time, so we were inevitably starving by the end, but we had worked off about 300 calories that we could then subtract directly from dinner—that’s how it works in our minds anyway.Win, win!

Here are a few other things the people who organize National Running Day recommend you do to celebrate the sport today and every day, really. We especially like the third one.

1. Change happy hour to running hour. Shake things up by adding a run to your post-workout plans. Head out at 5pm with some co-workers, and relax over the miles instead of cocktails.

2. Choose a running resolution. Kick off a new fitness goal on National Running Day. It can be anything, including adding five minutes to your next run, running a new distance, or signing up for a road race.

3. Give the gift of happy feet. Donate to organizations that support youth running, like Shoes that Fit. They’ve assisted in getting 800,000 pairs of sneakers on little feet—just think of all the miles you’ll help them run!

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I Scream, You Scream…

The calendar may say otherwise, but as far as we’re concerned, Memorial Day marks the official beginning of summer. And though Portland weather doesn’t seem to agree (we’re still wearing light jackets most days, sadly), we’re determined to get our summer on. What better way to start than with ice cream?

We knew exactly where to go to get our fix. Last week, a little push-cart called Salt & Straw opened on Alberta Street. That just happens to be where Lindsey gets her hair cut, and she just happened to have an appointment lined up for today. Clearly, it was meant to be.

We were all but sold the minute we saw the cart:

Adorable, right? We love the old-timey feel of the striped awning and cool font.

But we’re serious about ice cream, so we needed to do some serious tasting before giving it the official thumbs up. Fortunately, the extra-nice guy serving up scoops was willing to give us lots of samples. Between us, we tried six flavors: Honey Balsamic Strawberry with Cracked Pepper, Pear with Blue Cheese, Sea Salt with Ribbons of Handmade Caramel, Almond Brittle with Salted Ganache, Stumptown Coffee with Cocoa Nibs, and Chooclate with Gooey Brownie.

Holy COW. Not only are the flavors just plain awesome, but the ice cream itself is pretty close to perfect. We have a feeling it has to do with the local ingredients—cream from Lochmead Farms, cheese from Rogue Creamery, chocolate from Holy Kakow, coffee from Stumptown, fruit from Oregon Hill, and bacon (yes, bacon) from Olympic Provisions. Apparently Salt & Straw takes its motto—”Farm to Cone”—quite seriously.

Sure, ice cream is full of fat (Salt & Straw’s is 17% butterfat, which is nice and high—exactly where ice cream should be). But we’ll take natural fat over the weird and scary chemically processed low-fat stuff any day. Or, when it’s this good, every day.

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Happy Hydration

We love water, but sometimes you want to drink something with a little more, what’s the word? Flavor. The problem is that usually flavor comes with extra calories and/or artificial sweeteners that upset our stomachs. Finding something low-cal, all-natural and tasty that leaves us feeling totally hydrated is no small feat. That’s why we’re so excited about BOT beverages.

BOT comes in six great flavors (five shown)

Each BOT drink is free of preservatives, coloring and artificial sweeteners and is lightly sweetened with pure cane sugar. Not aspartame, not Stevia—pure cane sugar. One 16.9-oz, BPA-free bottle contains just 50 calories and 14g carbohydrates, plus electrolytes and vitamins B3, B5, B6 and B12. We’ve tried the Mixed Berry and Concord Grape flavors, and they’re both delicious. We cannot wait to sample the Blue Plum, Key Lime, Meyer Lemon and Valencia Orange soon, too.

These can be found at places like Whole Foods and are perfect for staying hydrated on the go. We fell in love at first sip!

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The Coast is Clear

One of the many things that drew us to Portland was the huge range of things to do just outside of the city. In the past 10 months, we’ve done our share of trips to Mt. Hood (skiing, snowshoeing, hiking) and to the Columbia River Gorge (hiking, Multnomah Falls, stand-up paddle boarding). But somehow we’ve only made it to the coast a couple of times.

We decided to remedy that this past weekend with a day trip to Astoria, Oregon, about 100 miles northwest of Portland. We’d each been there once before, but the gray skies and constant drizzle put a damper on our trips. This time, we had perfect weather—blue skies, mid-60s temperatures, and a nice breeze off the Pacific.

We spent most of the day wandering the downtown area and happened upon so many cool little spots that we felt compelled to pull together a list of our favorites. So without further ado, our official Astoria must-see list:

Commodore Hotel: You can tell right when you walk into the lobby, with its modern-vintage-y feel, that this is a cool place. The aesthetic continues in the rooms, thanks to period details like gorgeously refinished wood floors and ultra-cool apron sinks. And the rates are pretty amazing: euro-style (read: shared bathroom) rooms start at $84, and suites with private baths from $104.

We could hang out in this lobby all day!

14th Street Coffee House: Attached to the Commodore but separately owned, this is the place to go for serious coffee.

We love the huge neon "Coffee Shop" sign!

Vintage Hardware: Set aside some serious time for this shop. They sell a mix of vintage and new stuff, and it’s nearly impossible to turn around without finding some cool treasure you can’t live without.

Astoria Coffee House & Bistro: A great lunch spot, with simple sandwiches (we had the fried whitefish—YUM!) and salads (the Cobb Salad is simple and perfect). Also cool: There are tons of great pastries at the bakery counter, so you can get a fun treat on your way out.

How cool is that row of globes on the room divider?

Cold Water Surf: OK, we admit that we’re a little to wimpy (and, in Beth’s case, too pregnant) to brave the frigid ocean temps in the Pacific Northwest to catch some waves, but that doesn’t mean we don’t love to browse a good surf shop. This one is great, partly because of its nice selection of boards, and partly because of its super-friendly owner.

Fort George Brewery + Public House:  The perfect spot for a late-afternoon microbrew.

We were so impressed with their brews that we went home with a growler of the Vortex IPA.

Four Winds Canvas Works: The main business here is repairing sails—something we sadly have no need for—but the owners also sell cool tote bags and firewood carriers made from old sails. We thought we were there just to look, but we couldn’t resist buying one.

Cool, right? We plan to use it to carry wine and beer for summer picnics on Mt. Tabor.

Of course, it would be a crime to be at the coast and not visit the water, so we made a stop at Fort Stevens State Park. The dogs were way braver than we were, and didn’t think twice about braving the chilly waters to play a good game of fetch.

Darrell with Millie and Oscar, post-swim.

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Love the Skin You’re In!

Our skin seems to be way more sensitive than it used to be. Last week we got burned while walking to brunch and having drinks outside with friends. No lie. We’re pretty convinced it has something to do with the fact that we haven’t gotten much sun lately… But whatever the reason, we’re going to try and be more careful from here on out. No more going outside without sunscreen on, no matter where we are, even Oregon. A decision, we might add, that’s just in time for National Skin Cancer Awareness Month (May!).

What better time than right before summer begins to start thinking about the ramifications being outside SPF-free has on your skin and your body? That’s what we thought. So before you travel anywhere even remotely sunny, please take note of these helpful tips from The Skin Cancer Foundation:

    1. Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM when the sun is strongest. An extra rule of thumb is the “shadow rule.” If your shadow is shorter than you are, the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation is stronger; if your shadow is longer, UV radiation is less intense.
    2. Do not burn. A person’s risk for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, doubles if he or she had had five or more sunburns at any point in life. Severe burns not only significantly increase your chances of developing skin cancer, but can make you ill. For severe burns, see your doctor.
    3. Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths. UV radiation from tanning machines is known to cause cancer in humans. Indoor UV tanners are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, than those who have never tanned indoors. Tanning bed users are also 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma. The more time a person has spent tanning indoors, the higher the risk.
    4. Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses. Clothing can be your most effective form of sun protection, so make the most of it with densely woven and bright- or dark-colored fabrics, which offer the best defense. The more skin you cover, the better, so choose long sleeves and long pants whenever possible.
    5. Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
    6. Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating. One six-ounce bottle of sunscreen should provide two full days of sun protection for prolonged outdoor activity.
    7. Keep newborns out of the sun since their skin is extremely vulnerable. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months. Children are very sensitive to ultraviolet radiation— just one severe sunburn in childhood doubles the chances of developing melanoma later in life.
    8. Examine your skin head-to-toe every month. While self-exams shouldn’t replace the important annual skin exam performed by a physician, they offer the best chance of detecting the early warning signs of skin cancer. If you notice any change in an existing mole or discover a new one that looks suspicious, see a physician immediately. To find out more about how to perform self-examination and spot a skin cancer, visit http://www.SkinCancer.org/selfexamination.
    9. See your physician every year for a professional skin exam. You can also check http://www.SkinCancer.org/Tour to see if The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Road to Healthy Skin Tour is coming to your area. The Tour, presented by AVEENO® and Rite Aid, provides FREE, full-body skin exams by local dermatologists.


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