The best kept secret about the Portland area is the county library cultural pass. Like most people, we LOVE exploring touristy places but hate paying the entrance fees. Each county library system has their own list of museums/sights which you can check out a cultural pass for to get in for free! Some passes are more popular than others so if you want a popular pass you have to reserve it ahead of time (more on that later). For the Japanese Gardens we just walked into the library the day we wanted to go and the pass was available : ) With or without a pass I think the Japanese Gardens deserve a visit. However, the admission price is $12/adult.
Kelsey made the most delicious carnitas tacos for her birthday dinner. I was sad she had to cook on her birthday but happy that she made the carnitas because we would have messed it up for sure! She got the recipe from THIS cookbook.While our husbands were out of town on the Precoa recruiting trip we tried a new restaurant downtown. This place is called The American Local and I highly recommend it! (not pictured: the best brussel sprouts I’ve ever had, mismatched silverware and tiny water glasses.)
Lucas started skiing, like his brothers, when he was 4 or 5 years old. He loves it. I tried it once or twice in 6th grade. And I don’t really care for the snow. But Martha, my mother-in-law, gave me all of her ski gear so I agreed to a ski lesson from Handsome. For 95% of the day I LOVED it! I enjoyed getting to glide on top of the snow instead of touching it.
We prepared ourself for a rainy winter here in Portland but were surprised with an abnormally mild winter. Which means less snow for Mount Hood. The mountain received 1/16th of the normal snowfall this winter. Luckily they keep the bunny hill covered so the terrain we explored was fine and avoiding the dry spots was good for my agility training. The season’s lack of snow was unfortunate for the advanced skiers (Lucas).
At the end of the day we decided to try a new run before heading home. My legs were super tired but I thought it was worth a try. I thought wrong. The run we chose was a harder and longer route than we thought we’d agreed to. I may or may not have cried the whole way down…
One Saturday we decided to ride our bikes to a yoga class at our gym. Since I had recently acquired a selfie-stick and brought it everywhere, I made Lucas take this photo with me at a stop sign. I’m glad I did because this is the only photo we have to capture the memory of us choosing to ride our bikes on a busy road in 37 degree fog at 9:30 in the morning and me crashing. The photo below is one of two bruises the crash gave me.
In mid-November a coworker and myself created a gratitude tree by our front desk. The events team wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving in the office by prompting people to reflect on what they are grateful for. The tree we painted started bare but filled in with gold leaves throughout the month. It became a conversation piece for coworkers. Leaf listings included everything from, “My sealed juvenile record” to “My parents’ Netflix account” and “Family, Grace and Hope.”
After Thanksgiving our gratitude tree turned into the giving tree. I left up the gold leaves and added red ornaments to kick off our annual service activity. Each ornament had a wish list item written on it and people could volunteer to donate items by taking the corresponding ornament off of the tree.As people brought in their donations we traded their red ornaments for green leaves with with their names. It was neat to watch the color of the tree change through the process. All of these donations were collected to support the Portland Women’s Crisis Line.
PWCL is an organization which helps victims of domestic and sexual violence. Their phone line takes over 22,000 calls every year and offers emotional support, transportation/shelter vouchers, clothing, food vouchers and anything else they have to give to help individuals escape dangerous situations and get back on their feet.
We were overwhelmed with how many donations we received! Clearly our two large gold boxes were not big enough to hold everything : )
Unfortunately there are only a few local shelters and PWCL has a limited amount of motel vouchers and many of the victims they help are homeless or become homeless when they leave their unsafe home so they need supplies to keep them warm on the streets. In addition to collecting clothing and enough hygiene items to create 75 personal kits, Precoa purchased hundreds of yards of fleece and as a company we created 120+ warm blankets.
Kind cards of encouragement was not on the wish list but I felt like it was a small source of hope we could add to our donations. This fine group wrote over 100 anonymous cards that will be given to men, women and children escaping scary situations. Although a blanket will keep you warm, I think the tangible evidence that someone in the world cares about you can be extremely comforting. I hope whomever receives these cards feels the love that was put into writing them! Thanks to this group we cut all of the bolts of fleece into blanket size pieces in just over an hour! This would have taken me a week. Thank you!
The women that run PWCL are incredible people with huge hearts and it was such a pleasure getting to know them.
It’s embarrassing that a state park is so close our apartment and it took us 6 months to find it. Better late than never! There were so many short trails that web together we could have explored for hours but we started in the late afternoon and just stayed until the sun went down.
This covered area is near the parking lot and has a great view into the trees. Lucas and I sat here and talked forever.
Starting in January our church time switched from 10:00 am (the perfect time!) to 12:30 pm. We decided on the first Sunday to see how much we could accomplish before church and ended up driving to the Columbia River Gorge (1+ hour each way), hiking to 2 waterfalls, taking the scenic highway to the Vista House and returning with just enough time to shower and run to church. It was wonderful.
Multnomah is the tallest waterfall in Oregon (611 feet) and the second tallest perennial falls in the United States. (or so I’ve been told) It is also one of the most accessible because the base is roughly 100 yards from a parking lot. The hike up to the bridge is a nice half mile stroll but you can get to the very top if you commit to 2 miles of switchbacks. We’ve only been to the bridge : )
We originally wore rain jackets because the weather forecast called for light showers but they proved useful when Elowah Falls drenched us! This was a fun, fairly short hike to a beautiful 213 foot waterfall. …we got a little lost on the way back and had to off road through the brush. Oops.
The Vista House
Until this mini trip Lucas and I had never been to Crown Point to see the Vista House. We actually didn’t know what it was. Turns out… this building is a memorial for Oregon pioneers and has the most beautiful view. Hopefully next time we come the sky will be clear and the view will be even better!
The first party I can remember planning was a surprise 11th birthday party for my best friend Hannah and her twin Myles. I’ve always loved coordinating events and wish I would have gotten a jump start on doing them professionally sooner than now but I am grateful that I finally have my dream job : ) Since working as an event coordinator at Precoa I’ve been able to help plan a handful of company events (including a Halloween runway show!) but this holiday party is the best and biggest to date! There are a lot of details to plan and implement for a formal event with 216 people but I loved every second of the process!
We decided to embrace the Northwest as our theme and created a glamorous Christmas tree lot! Inside this tent we had 35 real, locally grown trees and each tree went home with an employee to be in a loving home for the rest of the holiday season.
It took a large uHaul and these fine gentlemen to get our 35 trees with stands and 20 light posts into the truck, out of the truck and set up in our venue. Thank you!!
Next to each place setting we set a gourmet carmel, chocolate and cinnamon sugar pretzel rod. These desserts are delicious but take a while to make when you need 216 of them : ) We hand made them all.
Lucas and I made this arrow sign and the photo backdrop below. We’re addicted to DIY projects.
On our way downtown to take Christmas card pictures on a bridge we accidentally found this railroad track surrounded by the last of the fall colored leaves. So we pulled over into something I’m sure was an illegal parking spot and snapped some pictures!
The Hawthorne Bridge
Of course we had to go to lunch after so we chose Podnah’s.
It’s one of the best BBQ restaurants in Portland : )
We had the brilliant idea to take the scenic Highway 101 down the Oregon coast to get home for Christmas instead of taking the shorter I-5 route. We even planned out all of the light houses and various attractions we were going to explore on the drive. It wasn’t raining in Portland when we left but by the time we got to the coast we were in a torrential downpour. The rain was puddling on the windshield because even in hyper speed the wipers couldn’t move the rain fast enough for us to get a clear view. We stopped at the first light house on the list, couldn’t see it and decided that our scenic drive could wait for the trip back to Portland.
Our first stop at home was our favorite restaurant. Sky Sushi!
Christmas Eve wouldn’t be complete without Mom putting on the Nativity with the little kids. It ended with the little girls playing Christmas songs on the piano but my phone ran out of memory!
Lucas and I received an unexpected but very exciting gift from his aunt Molly. Once we unwrapped the selfie stick it was basically glued to my hand for the rest of our trip. You’ll see the proof below : )
This gourmet breakfast reunion with high school/middle school friends was the best. So fun to catch up with these guys!On our last day in town we got crepes in El Dorado Hills and saw Into the Woods with Mom and Cami. Lunch may have just been a good excuse to use the selfie stick. I don’t remember : )
The annual Christmas Eve marshmallow war has to be its own post because there are too many pictures to include it anywhere else. The large glasses are for protection.
Jane is a smart little 16-month-old. She wanted to play with everyone so she watched what we did and successfully copied it. However, she put more spit in the pipe than air so the marshmallows didn’t go very far. At that point she realized that she could just eat the mallows and put handfuls in her mouth. Below is Cami trying to get Jane to open her mouthful of mallows : ) Haha! This was really entertaining. Jane was so convinced she was hiding the mallows well but we all knew where they were.