#48: Carve Pumpkins

Pumpkins are a halloween tradition for a lot of families, but not always ours. However, Lucy and I found ourselves with a weekend alone (Becky was on a road trip with her dad), and we decided to take the plunge.

This is part of our 100 Things in 2016 challenge. Here’s the full list.

Step 1: acquire pumpkins. We didn’t make a huge deal out of this part like in years past, we just went to the grocery store.

Step 2: decide on a design. I already had something in mind, but Lucy had a big decision to make. We browsed the internet for a good half hour before she settled on one.

Step 3: carve. We started out old-school with knives and spoons, but then I got impatient, and realized we had a scroll saw. After that things moved pretty quickly.

Step 4: display. We hauled them up our easement to display near the address posts, on the road where people would actually see them.

Step 5 (optional): dress up and go to a costume party! Lucy’s school has a harvest festival every year, so we dug through our costume collection and fancied up! Becky and I volunteered to help out, and ended up being in charge of the cash register, so we were the pirates in charge of the treasure.

#80: Duolingo – Italian

Late last year we had the bright idea to learn a foreign language. This was partly prompted by Becky watching a particular TED talk, but I had been aware of the tool for quite a while.

This is part of our 100 Things in 2016 challenge. Here’s the full list.

So we started using Duolingo every day for just a lesson or two. It’s actually pretty easy to get going, as long as you treat it like the 5-minute task it is – if you think it’s heavier, you won’t do it.

We did okay. Italian isn’t something we run into every day, so it was a struggle to keep making progress. According to Duolingo, Becky is 12% fluent, and I’m at 13%. Not sure how far that’ll get us in a restaurant, but I can tell you that the penguin eats fish!

Stay tuned for a more refined version of this goal in 2017…

#55: Live Dance Performance

Lots of families have holiday entertainment traditions. There are movies that are watched every year (we have Elf), decorating and entertaining, and for many people seeing The Nutcracker is on the list.

This is part of our 100 Things in 2016 challenge. Here’s the full list.

Not so much for us. We saw it, to be sure, just because some of us never had. But this year there was another option that fell into our lap: Portland Ballet’s productions of The Gift Box and The Enchanted Toyshop. We even brought Lucy’s best friend from school and her family, too!

There were two parts to the performance: the Toy Box, which is a brand new ballet, and which seemed like a dance recital without a plot or characters, and The Enchanted Toyshop, which is more like a small chunk of The Nutcracker, with plot and characters. The costumes were a ton of fun, and since most of the dancers were students, the kids had an easier time relating to them than if they were all twenty-somethings who had been dancing their entire lives.

 

#54: Trifecta Hot Fudge Sundae

Ah, Trifecta. Ever since we stumbled into this place on accident a couple of years ago, we’ve been looking for an excuse to come back. And now we have one: the hot fudge sundae.

This is part of our 100 Things in 2016 challenge. Here’s the full list.

Trifecta has been mentioned in Portland Monthly not just once, but twice for their desserts, and the hot fudge sundae is mentioned enough to warrant a visit all by itself (as if an excuse was needed; the cocktails and food are all excellent).

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It was so worth the trip. The ice cream is perfect, the hot fudge is nutty and decidedly un-Hershey, and the overall effect is divine. It’s in our top 5 all-time favorite ice creams. Highly recommended.

#20: Eat at Der Rheinlander (before it closes for good)

Der Rheinlander is a Portland institution. After more than 50 years in business, they’re closing their doors in early 2017. Becky gasped when she found out I had never been, and vowed to make sure I experienced it while I could.

This is part of our 100 Things in 2016 challenge; here’s the full list. It’s also part of our Eat the World challenge; the full list for that is here.

What we look for in a place that’s going on our eat-the-world page is authenticity and quality. Having actually been to the Rheinland, we knew what to look for – tall, light German beers, pretzels, and sausage. The Rheinlander delivered in spades. I drank my German pilsner out of a boot, and the dining hall is decorated to make you feel like you’re eating outside in a village square.

The food was well done also. We had two gripes: the fondue (which is a Swiss invention) and the Sound of Music soundtrack played by wandering accordion players (the Von Trapps were Austrian, but the accordions fit perfectly). We weren’t super fond of some of the sausages, but not because they were badly done, they just weren’t for us.

If you have the chance, make a stop here while you still can. It’s worth it.

#76: Mead Tasting

In the middle ages, it was common to give as a wedding gift a month’s worth of mead to the bride and groom. This is actually where the term “honeymoon” comes from: a moon’s worth of honey beer.

This is part of our 100 Things in 2016 challenge. Here’s the full list.

We found ourselves at the Hi-Wheel Fizzy Wine Company, where we had heard they do flights of mead. It turned out they only had one mead available that day, but we made a go of it anyways. The mead was ginger-peach, and we filled out our tasting tray with three fizzy wines: the ginger-ginseng (are you sensing a pattern?), the pomegranate-mojito, and we ordered “the ghost of Christmas cran” but we’re pretty sure we got the blueberry-habanero instead.

Everything was delicious. The mead had a rich honey flavor, and the fizzy wines were all fizzy and tasty. Becky couldn’t handle the spicy habanero, but I thought it was intensely great. Highly recommended.

September Misc Roundup

We went to the beach twice in September! First with Lucy, then a grownups-only weekend with friends.

Lucy has been busy: swim lessons, Trackers, experiments with hair, going to the dentist, and just being 8.

We have one random photo of Will, who nailed his spelling test. One day Becky and I made it all the way to the afternoon before realizing we were dressed the same. I’m really loving my new deep fryer. And the dogs keep me company while I’m working.

Becky did a fashion shoot at Strut Salon, got her ribs x-rayed, gave curious Lucy a beginner’s lesson in Lightroom, enjoyed our backyard view, and received a plant from a dear friend with a tag dedicated to Dorothy.

Puppies!

#78: Take a Class

Brunch isn’t a destination, it’s a direction. You can always get better at brunch.

This is part of our 100 Things in 2016 challenge. Here’s the full list.

Last year I took a knife-skills class at Hipcooks, a training kitchen in northeast Portland. This year we wanted to do something together, and when we saw brunch on the menu, we booked it. We and a dozen strangers made a four-course brunch for ourselves, mostly from scratch, under the direction of a great cook.

This was fun! One of the most fun things about cooking is the social aspect, and this gave us a chance to interact with strangers while getting our hands covered in egg white. We’ll probably do something like this again next year.

#3: Halloween Farm Visit

Everyone knows that, as a Portlander, you’re required to go to a pumpkin patch in October. It’s on the test.

This is part of our 100 Things in 2016 challenge. Here’s the full list.

We were joined by our two friends who just moved here from San Francisco with their baby, and another friend who still lives in San Francisco but loves Portland deeply. We love all of them, and are always looking for more excuses to spend time with them. We all drove out to The Pumpkin Patch, with the same idea as a full third of the Portland metro area – we got there shortly after opening, and the extended lot was already half full.

We all came prepared for some level of mud, with boots that were allowed to get dirty, but we honestly weren’t prepared for the sheer volume. It was a gooey, ankle-deep swamp of liquid mud through the whole maze. We had to reassess the situation, and three of us ended up sticking our feet in plastic bags before entering.

It was great. This seems like a pointless and silly tradition, but it’s an excuse to get outside, eat elephant ears, endure some light-and-safe hardship together, and enjoy the gorgeous pacific northwest autumn. We had a lot of fun.

Second Annual BDB Weekend

My cousin Debbie lives in Renton, and I hardly see her. My friend Becky lives in Hillsboro, and I hardly see her. They both know each other from way back, and hardly see each other. Last year, to combat this problem, we started a tradition. We meet somewhere neutral, and spend a weekend exploring a new little place.

This time we found a perfectly adorable house on the shore of Summit Lake, near Olympia. Mostly we just talked. And relaxed. And ate. It wasn’t until Saturday that we went adventuring.

We hiked the Mima Mounds Trail, which had really unique scenery. Then we hiked a trail through the Capitol Forest. Both were great. We got caught singing by other hikers, but they were good sports about it.

Sunday we spent eating tacos, and walking around Capitol Lake in downtown Olympia, before all having to head back to our homes and responsibilities.

We are already dreaming of next September together❤