Category Archives: Travel tips

Thanksgiving weekend with the fam

I haven’t celebrated Thanksgiving with my family in about 10 years, I think. The last time might have been when I was in high school. That is why it is extra special that I was able to be in Portland during the holiday this year.

My mom hasn’t been doing well (a compressed nerve), so I wanted to help all I could, although she made tons of stuff before we arrived. The jello and the rolls were my responsibility, as well as the kitchen clean up during the event. Everyone pitched in a lot.

My friends from Oslo, who actually live in Portland and had only been on a two year contract in Norway, came, as did my sister, her boyfriend, and my aunt, uncle, and cousin. It was lovely! The food was tasty, the conversation fun, and the red wine delicious.

Black Friday was a lazy day of leftovers and newspapers. It was definitely something to be thankful for.

Chicken waffle, breakfast corndogs and sticky pecan buns. Not a diet meal!

To round out the weekend, we played board games as a fam and ate brunch at Screen Door, the amazingly good but unhealthy Southern food restaurant on E. Burnside. The Kiddo was a dream, playing with her Melissa & Doug reusable sticker pad, which, by the way, is amazing because the stickers stick to glass too, and are rubber so you can clean then, then rub them a bit, and the stick again. Also they never tear (not yet anyway). Then we visited our friends and their Newfoundland puppy, Bjørn.

He is 10 weeks and already weighs more than Kiddo!

An intense weekend of family, but a good one.

A compendium of restaurants in NYC

We wanted to remember all the restaurants we tried on this trip, but I don’t see how I can write full reviews for all the places we have eaten in the past 48 hours so I am going to do short blurbs.

 

The Spotted Pig in Greenwich Village

Beautiful, tasty food. We tried the deep fried poached eggs and the burger. I wish I could have tried everything on the menu. Loved the décor and low levels of pretension on site. Super hipster place. Lots of leather and high heels in the clientele, lots of film students, lot of foreign languages being bantered around. Nice vibe.

Ratings:

Food: 4/5 stars (Tasty and well presented, but not the best food ever)

Atmosphere: 4/5 stars (Funky and fun, but stools? Hi, I am old, I need chair backs 🙂

Service: 5/5 stars (Friendly and full of smiles, even though we came in with a toddler and changed our minds 17 times about the high chair versus stool for Kiddo)

Price: $$$ ($60 for 2 breakfasts, a tea, a bloody mary – and tip)

 

ViV Regional Thai Cuisine in Murray Hill

Very shiny and light interiors. Robins egg blue walls, small tables, red enamel sink in the bathroom: a weird mix. Good happy hour drinks deals, no deals on food. The Chaing Mai sausages were amazing. Lots of regional dishes on the menu, wished we could have tried more.

Ratings:

Food: 4/5 stars (Tasty and unique)

Atmosphere: 3/5 stars (Clean, but got the feeling they were trying too hard.)

Service: 4/5 stars (Friendly but they tried to push more food and drinks a little too much.)

Price: $$ ($30 for 4 beers and two starters – and tip)

 

Woorijip in Koreatown

Buffet with amazing selection of hot and cold dishes, full of vegetarian, fish, meat, noodle, and rice dishes. Our favorites were the spicy kale, bean sprouts, kimchi, and spicy chicken. You probably could eat better Korean food elsewhere, but this was fast, cheap, and we could see what the different items looked like before selecting them – a plus for novice Korean food consumers.

Ratings:

Food: 3/5 stars (Good stuff, but you need to know what to get and what to avoid)

Atmosphere: 2/5 stars (I am glad we didn’t eat in. It was hot and steamed up and crowded.)

Service: n/a – we got take out and left

Price: $ ($6/pound for take away.)

 

The Grey Dog in Chelsea

Homemade American food that is solid, tasty, and free from a lot of artificial crap. I feel like it could have used some extra punch, though, to be charging what they were charging.

Ratings:

Food: 3/5 stars (Solid breakfast, but nothing to write home about)

Atmosphere: 4/5 stars (Country music blaring created a bit of artificial din, but the décor was fun and not standard and the clientele eavesdropping paradise.)

Service: 4/5 stars (Order at the counter and free refills. Hard to go wrong.)

Price: $$ ($40 for two breakfasts and two coffees – and tip)

 

Shanghai Asia Manor in Chinatown

A spacious spot in usually cramped Chinatown, with amazing food. We ate steamed veggie dumplings, which were good, steamed shrimp dumplings, which were great, and steamed buns with condensed milk dipping sauce, which I would eat every day if I knew how to make them, oh my god so delicious! By chance we saw another table ordering the snap pea leaves, and asked what the “plate of green” was, and ordered it. Ah-MAZ-ing! Then we got sesame chicken for the kid, and egg fried rice. Yum, yum, yum!

Ratings:

Food: 4/5 stars (Hubby said it was the best Chinese he has ever tasted, but that might have been because we were starving and starting to go rabid.)

Atmosphere: 3/5 stars (Clean and spacious for Chinatown, but not the least bit fancy.)

Service: 3/5 stars (Nice server, until she started trying to cajole responses from Kiddo. Leave my kid alone please, thanks!)

Price: $ ($40 for 3 appetizers (dim sum) and two mains – and tip)

 

Natureworks in Murray Hill

A self billed “healthy” café, with a menu full of sandwiches and salads and “protein plates”. We each got a vegetarian salad with falafel, feta, olives and tahini dressing.

Ratings:

Food: 4/5 stars (Healthy and tasty and didn’t taste “healthy”.)

Atmosphere: 4/5 stars (I technically didn´t go; I am going off Hubby´s description.)

Service: n/a – takeout

Price: $$ ($24 for two large salads)

8 lessons for flying with toddlers from the first long haul travel day

Our first long haul flight of our trip is now over. We were upgraded to business class, and were actually looking forward to the flight. A glass of champagne! Room on the floor for Kiddo to sit and play! And in a flash, we will be thousands of miles away in New York City! Well, here is what we learned.

  1. Don’t get cocky. We thought, “Oh, Kiddo LOVES to watch the iPad, of course she will sit quietly for 6 hours watching Mickey Mouse, with small breaks to read books or eat snacks, and then nap easily.” Wrong. She wasn’t interested in the iPad really at all. If I had been more mentally prepared, I would have been a lot less frustrated about this.
  2. Breastfeeding saves the day. When Kiddo is restless, the boob can be calming. When she is thirsty but we don’t have water easily accessible, milk does the trick. When she is amped up and wants to run around, a milky cuddle with mama helps her dose off. I ❤ breastfeeding!
  3. Don’t put your kindle in the seat crack of reclining business class seats. It will be crushed by the powerful jaws of the reclining business class seat. 😦 😦 😦
  4. Don’t regret buying an extra seat while your toddler sits on top of you for the entire first 4 hours of the flight – once she nods off, you can transfer her to her OWN seat and then actually nod off yourself a little too.
  5. Letting your toddler play with small chocolate candies (in our case, “Smarties”) will lead to one or all of you covered in chocolate.
  6. The best toys are always the free ones. Kiddo spent 10 minutes playing with the wet wash cloth they give you before the meal. That was the longest stretch of any toy.
  7. It might save a tiny bit of sanity to have a bag for trash – plastic wrappers, food covered napkins, half eaten apples and the like, so that it doesn’t end up in some sticky pile in the seat cushion pocket.
  8. Unless you are Magda Gerber or Naomi Aldort or someone with extreme patience and calm, it is likely that you, your partner, and your kid(s) will all have a bad moment or two. A tantrum, a raised voice, a loudly whispered swear word or 7… Its ok. Expect it. Try to forgive yourself and your family. It is stressful to be in the airport machinery for the day. There are lines and water costs 5 dollars and you can’t always pee or eat when you want or need to.

This was our first long haul of the trip. I calculate that we have 6 long haul flights left on our trip, or 8 if you consider 4 hours long haul. I look forward to writing a post about my compendium of advice on flying with toddlers when all those are done 🙂

Lunch date with a toddler

Today Hubby, Kiddo and I were out in downtown Oslo taking care of a few things, and we went out to grab a bite to eat after we were done. I brought the iPad. Smart move!

She didn’t want to sit down when we first entered the restaurant, but I asked if she wanted to watch Mickey Mouse and she headed for the booth, where she sat quietly, watching the cartoon. We ate, she ate a little, and when we were done, she was ready to go outside exploring again.

It was a huge relief, because eating in the middle of a day on the town is going to be the reality for the next six months. I have a good feeling about this!