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I’ve been spending a great deal of time and effort on simplifying my surroundings.

I’m fairly certain I’ve blogged about this recently… or at least in the last two years (and with how busy my life has been in the last two years, 23 months ago might seem like recently to me).

Part of this process has been to downsize my collections. This has been extremely easy, for the most part. Cut the shoe collection in half. Donate acrylic yarn I’m even ashamed that I purchased years ago when novelty yarns were a thing (maybe they still are a thing, heck, I don’t know). Sell that 4th set of dishes you just don’t need anymore because really, 4 sets of dishes?!

I haven’t been left regretting any loss. Nothing has been missed. If anything, I feel relief knowing those things are out of my life forever.

I most recently turned my attention to my larger craft supplies. I went through a phase (and what an expensive phase it was) where I couldn’t get enough wool in my life. I have even owned 3 spinning wheels at the same time. Guys, I can’t be trusted when it comes to Craigslist items. I only brought one spinning wheel to Portland, though, I’m not that crazy.

I have a lot of things and not a ton of time to play with them. The one item that I used in this past, fiberista life, that I didn’t use for personal items was a drum carder. The spinning wheel spins yarn I knit with, my loom will eventually weave gorgeous scarves and shawls. However, that carder was only used to make things to sell. I don’t do that anymore. I don’t see myself doing that anymore. I honestly don’t have the time to do that anymore.

It had to go.

And lucky me! The resale value on equipment like that is quite high. I love returns on investments (who wouldn’t). After a couple of weeks posted on various internet forums, the carder sold. Easy, peasy.

What wasn’t easy, though, was packing it up for the last time. Guys, I almost cried. This item has sat unused for close to 2 years, and yet, I hesitated as I carefully wrapped it up for shipping. Each time I added a small bag of colorful fiber perfect for the new owner to play with, I thought back to the exact time I added that bit of fiber to my collection. Memories of fiber festivals filled my thoughts. Photography sessions on my front porch on Conner Street played in my head like a slide show of some of my favorite creations.

I was so sad.

I quickly shoved everything else in the box, wrote a sweet note for the new owner, and taped it up. It’s heading to Brooklyn tomorrow. I can’t cancel the sell.

I mean, I don’t want to. So why has this made me so sad?

Strange things, memories are, strange things.

A-O River

Dipping my toes in the sand at Kelley Point Park.

I donned my tourist hat today and set out to conquer this fair town.

Well, I did this soon after galloping oh so gracefully around the golf course, running to the post office and returning stupid impulse buys from last weekend.

I saw stupid because they were useless. USELESS USELESS things that I deep down really wish I still had up in my closet. Being fiscally responsible sends me into a slump similar to being 16 and not being allowed to have the keys to your mom’s car for the evening.

But I digress… I didn’t need those sandals or lamp shade so moving on. They were useless.

I was on my own today as the Sweet Boy headed north to Seattle to visit his brothers. My options are endless when it’s just me. I could spend all day trying on shoes, eating seafood, looking at houses, eating at fancy sandwich joints, shopping for yarn, eating vegetarian food… notice a trend? You guessed it, lunch was one of my highlights.

I started things off at Grand Central Bakery. They have outdoor seating and today was just about as gorgeous as it could have been. One degree warmer would have been too warmer, and one degree cooler would have sent me inside. I noshed on a fancy sandwich (i.e., not just turkey and swiss), drank a fancy iced tea and watched fancy people walk their fancy dogs on fancy Fremont St. Afterwards, I spent a few minutes walking by all the fancy houses and lusting after their fancy yards.

It was my second encounter with a Grand Central sandwich and they do not disappoint.

I really like things between bread.

Especially with avocado smeared all over it.

And hot peppers.

Yum.

After lunch I spent a lot of the afternoon at Kelley Point Park in North Portland. This bit of land juts out where the Willamette and Columbia Rivers converge. It’s a sublime mix of the large tanker and cargo ships that move up and down the Columbia, coming in from the Pacific Ocean, and small sail boats and water skiers coming in off the Willamette. The sand is cool and soft and there are plenty of drift wood logs to park yourself on for an hour or so. For as full as the parking lot was, the stretch of beach was surprisingly not crowded. There were a couple of families and people playing with their dogs, but it was quiet and I was able to surround myself in my thoughts.

I thought a lot about the beauty that surrounded me right that very moment. I thought about what it took to find me in Portland. I thought a brief moment on how hard I worked to land in the job I have. I’m surrounded by great coworkers, funny people, supportive teams and one of the most desirable places to move to. I thought about how lucky I am to be so loved and to have a husband that didn’t hesitate to accompany me to Portland.

It was the most perfect thinking spot I’ve come across since moving here. I’m looking forward to going back… next time with a picnic, perhaps?

As I headed back across town, I stopped at a somewhat run down looking burger joint in a not overly populated area. I felt that a cherry milkshake was well deserved after so many calories were spent on brain things while sitting on the shore. I’m a little sad I didn’t find that place for lunch. Their onion rings surely would have sang the songs of angels had I let them and their burgers were truly worthy of their own episode on Food Network (at least, they looked like they were). The milkshake was quite tasty but I’m still thinking about those onion rings! They might have to wait until July, however. I’ll be working straight through the next two weekends and then heading south to Austin after that.

Ah well. The onion rings will be there when I get back.

The trees along the Sandy River stretch to the heavens

My last stop was along the banks of the Sandy River. This river is east of Portland, just before you get to the Columbia River Gorge. I didn’t spend as much time here as it was a bit more crowded than I wanted to deal with today. It’s clear, surrounded by trees so tall they skim the clouds and it’s calm enough for a nice, afternoon float. I’m looking forward to a hotter weekend day. I think I found my swimming hole.

The Sandy River (look past those pesky power lines)

Today was just what I needed before a long stretch in the office. I did my fair share of exploring when I moved out here, but started to repeat my activities the 2nd half of the year. It’s time to start branching out again. Who knows, rivers today and a hike to some hidden falls tomorrow?

That doesn’t sound half bad.

And One Thought More

Guys. I struggled through that last post. All day long I thought about sitting down tonight to write a blog post.

I’m not exaggerating. I thought about it all. Day. Long.

I was going to be so funny about my running attempts. I was going to talk about how I’m 97% certain that I look like a hippopotamus running on hind legs and clawing at the air to propel myself forward when plodding down the sidewalk.

Wait wait wait, I don’t say this because my belly is larger than it should be (although, it is, there is a reason I wanted to get in shape in the first place), I say it because that IS what I look like.

I was going to reminisce on how you’d be wasting your money to cross the Columbia into Washington for a dime bag of Vantucky’s finest weed (do dime bags exist? did I just call Vancouver Vantucky? Does that make me a local?) because a brisk run along the Waterfront Park in Portland provides you with enough 2nd hand smoke to leave you feeling pretty good and jonesin’ for a slice at Sizzle Pie.

I was going to give you a play by play account of the tall bike jousting I happened upon one sunny afternoon. I’ll give you a hint, it’s better than any jousting you’ve seen at Midieval Times.

I thought ALL DAY about this. And then I failed on my delivery.

I just didn’t have it in me. I tried… you have to believe me when I say “I tried”.

I left the post and immediately went over to Facebook and left droplets of entertaining quips all over the place. I felt bad and had to come explain myself. I’ll do better next time.

Scouts honor.

Just One Step More

One of my favorite views from my almost daily run (Willamette River in Portland)

Guess what?!?

I’m still running.

No really… I am! I did close to 18 minutes without stopping a few days ago and tonight barely made it to 15 but at least I was out there. Guys, let me tell you that I am THIS excited about this accomplishment. When I started out, just a minute would absolutely kill me. I had to repeat the first week of my couch to 5K plan because I couldn’t fathom upping the amount of time I plodded quickly along the trail. Now I’m not seeing my run as a series of minutes, but rather distance.

I’m finally up to the point where I can say “that was a good mile and a half” and I’ll take that as a win.

The last few months have seen many trips around the 2 mile trail at a near by golf course, laps and laps around my neighborhood and just recently, traversing down the Willamette River crossing some of my favorite bridges in the process. All are nice but the river is my favorite. The people watching alone is worth the trek. I’m sure I’m one of those people to someone else but hey, you give some, you take some.

My grand plan was to run in a 5K. There are ridiculous amounts of runs in the Portland area. There are the obligatory color/color vibe/neon runs. Have an ugly sweater? Put it on and join in on the ugly sweater run. Prefer bacon to knitwear? There’s a run for that too. I was leaning towards a color run. They are super friendly to first timers and make for a fun set of Facebook pictures. I was waiting to sign up until I could actually run a 5K. I figured that a fall run would be perfect.

Then I was talked into something crazy.

That crazy is a 10K called Pints to Pasta. Hey, if I can get to a 5K, surely I can get to a 10K… right?

RIGHT?!?

Please tell me I’m right.

Heck, if I don’t make it, at least I can walk across the finish line and still get my beer and pasta.

Priorities people, priorities.

A post to title and no title to post

Quite often, when I set out to write a post, I’ve given it some thought for at least half an hour. If I sit down to write with nothing to write about, I find myself lost in a sea of words. My fingers trip over the keys of my laptop searching out some fancy words or a clever quip as I fumble to build paragraphs.

Or at least phrases that make sense once typed out.

We all know paragraphs are overrated when you’re trying to get your voice across on a computer screen.

Tonight is different though. Tonight I needed to get words out more than I wanted to get an idea across. Tonight I just need to journal, I suppose. When I first started a blog, that’s exactly what I did. Journaled. It was emotive (notice I didn’t say emo), it was full of college girl issues and drama, it was interlaced with song lyrics that I hoped would help me convey my mood or at least appeal to that imaginary man that was out there not waiting to run into me in some ideal location in a very romantic way.

I found myself digging into Spotify tonight to listen to “War on Drugs” by Barenaked Ladies. Some part of me wanted to lay on the couch and listen to it on repeat (I’m on number 9 or 10 at this point). I can’t remember the last time I listened to that song although I quite often belt out BNL songs at the top of my lungs while hanging out in traffic on the way to work. I remember this song was a staple post-breakup my last year of college. It was emotional, Steven Page’s voice was my favorite, and it was less bouncy than other songs of the time. Maybe I thought I was deep because I listened to it.

Or maybe I just liked it.

What’s most interesting to me is not that I was found longing for this not-very-significant song from my past, but rather that a few repeats of the tune pushed me to pick up my laptop and write. If I really wanted to recreate the years 2001-2004, I’d take a web cam selfie (although, not considered a selfie back then) and add some song lyrics and italics before jumping into the meat of the post. I’m not going to lie. I did search through the lyrics hoping for just the perfect song.

But it’s fairly sad and I’m not feeling sad so it doesn’t really make sense to do so.

Sometimes I’m feeling pretty funny and clever and those are the times when I am really proud of what I’ve posted on my blog. However, more often than not I merely feel the need to remove words from my head in some semi-permanent way. I’m glad I did that way back when and I’ll be glad I did that tonight.

Go ahead, take a look back at my first blog… built with love on tripod (beware the popups) – Ramblings of a Generic Female I started the thing in 2001 and deleted a great deal of it for whatever reason in 2004. I did print the deleted posts, thankfully, so it is around here somewhere. Maybe I’ll share some of those posts with you someday.

And because I can’t help myself…
Won’t it be dull when we rid ourselves
Of all these demons haunting us
To keep us company?
~War on Drugs, Barenaked Ladies

As David Bowie so harmoniously sang about…

My life has seen so many positive changes since the Sweet Boy and I moved west. I blogged about the most important… well… most sentimental one last month. The other changes have just fallen into place.

No pomp.

No circumstance.

Just changes slowly seeping into how we do things and ever so slowly changing the course of our future. They feel good and I’m soaking them in with each moment I have.

If you’re anything like me, you’re eagerly awaiting the portion of this post where I start listing these changes. While I’m excited to share them with you, I do have to warn you, no change involves a cross country move (been there, done that) they don’t involve a baby (haven’t been there, not sure if we’re going to do that), and we haven’t bought our first house. If you speed read your blog feed for major happenings, move along, nothing to see here.

However, if you enjoy sharing in the real life that makes up the every day, you’ve come to the right place. And without further delay, the list (in no particular order):

1) In the past week, I’ve walked a total of 10 miles in addition to the miles I spend on my feet at work. These are miles walked out of necessity (like those ones I walk at work), but rather miles walked because of a conscious decision to improve my health My blood pressure has been high the past two times I’ve had it checked. The first time was an introductory course into bad news from the doctor. The second time saw me rolling my eyes at my own stupidity. High BP is the silent killer… right? Time to take the warning seriously and hit the trails. There are so many around Portland and I’m lucky to live just a few intersections away from Glendoveer Golf Course which comes with a 2 mile trail. I can swing by on my way home from work and in 40 minutes, I’m 2 more miles closer to a healthier future.

2) The Sweet Boy accepted a new job a couple of months ago. The 2nd paycheck for our house means we are finally on a 3 year track to have all credit card debt (and one vehicle) paid off. I keep talking about it and I know the Sweet Boy is surely sick of hearing it but it feels SO good to comfortably be heading that direction. When we were both working for a non-profit, we were uncomfortably paying down this debt and by uncomfortably I mean that for every bill we paid, we had to turn around and use the card again because all of our cash went to the bill. It’s that cycle everyone who has been in this position can relate to but we’ve finally broken it and I might just throw a party to celebrate.

In three years, of course.

3) I’m making the food I put in my mouth. Sounds simple enough, but it isn’t. Since moving to Portland, I’ve put on weight. It could be stress that comes with a move like this, or the new job, or the breweries that dot this town, or the amazing restaurants, or the… I’ll stop there. Excuses are too easy to fall back on and they allow for bad decisions to be made time and time again. If I was tired when I got home from work, we ordered pizza (and this town is full of good pizza) or picked up Chinese food or dropped in to visit my new favorite Thai restaurant. Don’t get my wrong, I haven’t abandoned those places, but I don’t care to visit them more than a few times a month. Making my own food allows me to control what I put in my mouth and makes more sense financially.

Also, I LOVE cooking, so it is a win win.

It gets hard when I’m tired so I make sure and freeze leftovers as soon as we’re done with dinner so food won’t go bad and I’ll have something quick to reheat on those nights when just driving home uses up whatever energy I’m left with at the end of the day.

There you have it.

Changes.

Positive changes.

Each one of the items above will lead to great things. Better health, fitting into my smaller clothes again, and financial freedom (and moving into a cozy bungalow closer to the idea neighborhoods in Portland). I can’t wait to keep everyone updated on my progress. It will keep me accountable and hopefully keep you inspired to make your own positive changes.

What changes have you seen in your life lately? I’ve love to hear about them.

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A Pretend Summary


Since it’s been what seems like 3 years since my last blog post (okay, half a year, but who’s counting?) I really should give you a good summary of what’s been going on since I last checked in.

But that sounds hard… doesn’t it? How do you summarize the past 6 months in an entertaining but expedient way?

You don’t.

So I’ll just give you this, we’ve hiked, we’ve sampled local beer, we’ve explored new neighborhoods, we’ve day dreamed about buying a cute house in a cute neighborhood walking distance to pubs and coffee houses, we’ve realistically day dreamed about the actual house we can afford and would it be close enough to public transportation to take a train to a pub or coffee house, we payed next to nothing for a gorgeous, fresh cute Christmas tree because Pacific Northwest and we got married.

Yup. A wedding happened. Last November to be exact. My old employer was flying me in for a week of training with my replacement so The Sweet Boy bought a plane ticket to go home with me and over the course of that week, we had a wedding. I’m not going to lie, it was hectic to put together on short notice, I was stressed, we had a TERRIBLE time shopping for wedding rings (I need to do a post about how the malls in Portland are always packed like it’s Black Friday – can someone explain that to me?) and his wedding outfit didn’t come together until the week of…

but it was the perfect wedding.

It was absolutely beautiful. I told my sister I thought it would be awesome to have it outdoors near the river that our family land was on and she delivered. She found land RIGHT on the river with a view of a bluff (thanks Saddlebock Brewery for the free wedding location), she added the perfect vintage yet simple elements to add to the gorgeous natural backdrop and she surprised us with live music from Brick Fields as we walked down the aisle (they sang “Into the Mystic” and it was beyond beautiful). After the day was over, all I was left with was how perfect the day was. The only way it could have been better was if the timing allowed my brothers to be there.

So I’m married now. No, I don’t know when I’m legally changing my name. I did change it on Facebook, which is close enough to legal these days… right? We received some appliances from friends near and far to make it official (I’m not sure it’s a marriage without a new food processor and espresso machine). We filed taxes jointly for the first time (hello tax benefits for married peeps). We like this married thing.

I like this married thing.

It’s cool.

Let’s Talk Hawg

DISCLAIMER
his post is all about BBQ which means it’s all about meat which means it might not appeal to you.
That’s why I don’t have a picture.
I looked for a picture of a hawg, but really, all of the pictures were of cute little piggies.
Deep down, I felt bad about that.
Sorry.

I would like to take a moment from your day to discuss BBQ/BarBQ/Barbecue/Heaven on a plate/MEAT… whatever you want to call it, I’d like to discuss it.

You see, BBQ is very important to someone from Texas.  I might even go as far as to say it had it’s own place on the food pyramid.  Some people even consider eating good BBQ a religious experience (if you’ve been to Black’s Barbecue in Lockhart, TX then you probably agree).  No matter your opinion, some smoked meat with white onions, pickles an white bread is good eatin’!

I was lucky in my move to Fayetteville, AR.  BBQ is plentiful there and you get a good mix of origins.  Texas is represented with beef and sausage, KC has their representation, the dry rub movement from Memphis has a good showing, Pulled Pork from out east is just about on every menu and a few places have vinegar and white sauces from the Carolinas.  You might even say my move to Arkansas dramatically expanded my BBQ pallet.

I even started eating that stuff on a baked potato.

Scandalous, I know!

Enter a move to Portland, OR.  This town is a foodies dream!  It has so many local, unique restaurants that the Sweet Boy and I have a heck of time picking out a place for dinner.  Do we want Ethiopian food tonight?  Lebanese?  Indian?  Italian?  Burgers?  Pizza?  If pizza which kind of pizza?  Chicago style?  Wood fired?  Brick oven?  New York style?!?!  I hate to say it, but it’s maddening.

What there isn’t, however, is a plethora of BBQ.  At least, not that I can tell.  Sure sure, there are BBQ places scattered throughout.  But upon further inspection at work (i.e. – asking around to see what places come recommended), it seems as though many places might not be worth the swipe of our debit card.  Thankfully, though, two places have risen to the top of the recommended places to go list.  Podnah’s Pit BBQ and Russell Street BBQ.

So here’s my challenge to myself (written in 3rd person to actually sound like someone is challenging me, but not to sound like I’m crazy):  Don’t be scared of the new BBQ places.  Go eat there.  See what Portland has to offer when it comes to smoked meats.  Write reviews about it here on the blog.  Surely, between the two of you, you can be a good judge of quality BBQ.  Don’t crinkle your nose just because the pulled pork sandwich is $12 here when you could have got it for $4 back in Arkansas.

Guys, HAWG is pricey here.

The End.

NO WAIT – not the end.  I’d like to expand on that.  Did you know the cheap bacon I used to buy back home is almost $7 here?  I could have bought thick slab, peppered fancy bacon for that price in Arkansas.  They have valuable pigs in the Northwest.

Now it’s The End.

NO WAIT – still not the end.  Help me chose which BBQ place to try first.  Shall I go to Podnah’s Pit BBQ and see how Texan they really are or check out Russell Street BBQ first because they have a cute little piggy on their logo?  Podnah’s website looks a bit hipster whereas Russell Street does not… but who am I kidding?  They are both in Portland.  I’m sure both are equally hipster.  I’ll just pick one.  And ignore the hipsters because hipsters and BBQ don’t fit on the same puzzle in my world.

Okay, really, this time… The End.

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N’awlins

Whew!

I just flew back to Portland after a whirlwind trip to New Orleans for the annual IAVM conference.  It was my 4th VenueConnect and I feel that I finally have found my groove.  People know me, I know people, and I can make it through an entire conference with only 1 nap.

Just 1 nap!  Incredible.

Normally I’m excited about a conference because of the networking and educational opportunities.  This time, however, the location sat at the top of my list.  I 100% adore New Orleans.  It’s hot, muggy, smells a bit swampy (yes, I claim it’s swampy) but it is hands down the friendliest city I’ve visited.  The people there just love music, gulf seafood and hospitality.  Okay, okay, maybe they like an adult beverage or three.  But seriously, friendly is something they excel at.

It takes a while to truly start to see the heart of a city.  One trip there isn’t going to reveal such a treasure.  Two trips, maybe… maybe on the third time.  Maybe.

This time it took 4 visits for me to finally start to feel the vibe of this historical and culturally rich location nestled in the curve of the Mississippi River.  Well, 5 if you count the time I went there when I was 12 (but I don’t).

The first time was in 2008 – just a few years after Katrina.  We stayed in the French Quarter, went to a couple of concerts and I just about died from what I refer to as humidity suffocation.  I don’t think that’s a real thing but let’s roll with it.  It was a lovely trip but stressful.  I was with a lot of people and with a lot of people come a lot of decisions that aren’t up to me.  It was a good intro to New Orleans though.

The 2nd time was for a day before a cruise with my sister.  We dined, saw a few sites and then left.  Just like that.  Trip over.

The 3rd time was also for a cruise but the sweet boy and I went down a few days early.  Again, it was the typical tourist trip in the French Quarter, but something started to settle in me.  I was extremely disappointed to leave the city.  It called after me as we sailed down the river towards the gulf.  The jazz danced through my ears for days.  Memories of kicking back with a bloody mary and oysters stuck with me months after the trip was over.

I started to really love that city.

This last trip solidified it.  I played tour guide for a few coworkers who had either never been or had only been once.  I told them about the places I’ve visited as if they were old friends.  We ventured out to Frenchman to find some good music like it was something I did every Monday night.  I didn’t need a map to find where I needed to go.  I told the stories that define the history of the region as if I was writing a text book.  I also applied hot sauce to everything I consumed as if I was born on the bayou and raised to hunt muskrat.

Yes, I really love that city.

It’s a city of resilience, of love, of good times, of laughter, of sharing, of music and it truly is a good time.

So, what are you waiting for?  Pack those bags and head south!  You know you want to.

Did you come here looking for more info about the conference?  I hope I didn’t disappoint.  I’m sure I’ll blog about the networking and professional stuff later.  This post had to come first, though.  I can’t shake it.

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A disappearance

The water cooler in the office at work was missing this morning.

I was taunted by the row of delicious, refreshing, clean 5 gallon bottles of water.

My Nalgene bottle rested sadly in my hands… empty… full of so much untapped potential…lacking in the one thing I need in the morning besides coffee (don’t tell my doctor I’m drinking caffeine again).

It seems a crime has been committed and no one came forward… well, that is, until I asked someone about it.

Apparently, we were short exactly one water cooler for an event this week and sacrifices had to be made.  Sacrifices indeed.  I suppose room temperature tap water will have to do this morning.  I’m not sure when I became so spoiled that the lack of cool, crisp, water from the cooler left me stumped for at least 3 minutes this morning.

3

long

waterless

minutes!