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Saying Goodbye to Stumptown (Portland)

Gesh… I think I wrote this post 3 weeks ago and then we had to get ready for back to school. It takes me a minute to recover from back-to-school, especially when we are “the school.” 

Find out more about what went on – – day 1 and day 2 here!

Day 3 and 4 are below:


Like all the other mornings, we woke up way early, all thanks to the time difference.

I was okay with that, since obviously we gained more day time hours, but our body clocks we were so off.

Not having the kids with us, was probably another contributor to the confused state I was in most of the time. 

Day 3 

Grabbed coffee and light breakfast at Starbucks. 

We had waterfalls and Hood River (breweries) in our sights for the day, so we took it light on the breakfast.

The Historic Columbia River Highway is roughly an hour from the hotel. 

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We scooted out early because we wanted to avoid another evening of Portland traffic getting back in to town. 

One of Ryan’s passions is to get out in the mountains and get away from it all. He wants to trek out early on a Saturday, and drive thru the winding mountain roads. It’s so beautiful. Believe me when I say that I feel the same way he does.

On that note, you can’t miss the fall colors in the N. Georgia mountains, it’s coming soon! Last weekend in October, first weekend of November. 

We often go camping in the N. Georgia mountains, but I dread the drive.

I get car sick quite easily, and if you have ever driven towards Blairsville, GA (the direction we generally go), you are aware of the winding roads. It’s really hard on me.

Even if I drive, I can get car sick. 

As we were headed to these amazing waterfalls off of the historic highway. My nerves were a bit jostled!

Surprisingly, it wasn’t anything like going waterfall hunting in N. Georgia. The highway runs directly parallel to interstate 84, and it’s just a short drive up from the interstate exit, about 3 miles.

A few winding roads, and voila!  

Our first stop was the view of the Vista House-Crown Point. You can see below the dome-shaped building on the ridge of the mountain to the right. That is where we are headed.  

I am glad we stumbled on this view-point. This may be one of the only spots on the historic highway where you can see the Vista House cliff side, and really soak it in.

The structure is so unbelievable, especially when you start to put dates together with its construction. Took some serious guts! It really marvels.

We made it to Vista Crown. It was built as a sort of “rest stop.”

The inside of the building is beautiful. you’ll have to take my word for it. It was very crowded, which made it difficult to get decent shots.

Below is a video with panoramic views. The Columbia River and Washington state on the other side of it.

From there we headed east and stopped at the first few falls.

Latourell Falls

Shepperds Dell

Five falls later, Multnomah Falls. It is considered the crown jewel of the falls, it’s only a 8.5 mile drive from the Vista House. I don’t know why I was expecting completely secluded. What we got was beautiful, but bustling with spectators. With a large welcome and historic center,  also has a souvenir store, bathrooms and cafe. 

All the falls were amazing. Wouldn’t you say Oregon lucked out with their falls? 

From here we had to make a u turn, the rest of the highway was shut down. We don’t know the reason but we suspect boulders on the road. 

We only back tracked a little before we were back on I-84, headed east to downtown Hood River

We parked to get lunch by the Hood River Waterfront Park.

Looked newly built, gorgeous and pristine, but packed!

I’m still looking for secluded… Ha to me!

First, a flight-o-beer. pFriem family brewers is set right across the river and had a great vibe. Community style seating and lots of bustle. We shared the mussels and fries, drenched in a fennel and apple cream sauce. The beer was just right. 

A long walk along the river, and I was blown away by the amount of windsurfers. Let’s just say the few novices there stood out, most were highly skilled and fun to watch. 

You can see the loop on the map below:

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After Hood River, our hope was to make the loop south over to Mount Hood instead of along the way we arrived on I-84. We decided to head back the way we came, I’d pushed my luck in the car.

Back at the hotel we freshened up and dinner at the Departure was a must. We had Portland local brews in mind for Thursday, our last full day, so we knew this was it for Departure.

Would take 2 be as good?… 

We aimed for new. We’ve had pork belly in the past, and it has always been disappointing. Just too rich. Not this time. It really had a melt in your mouth quality.

The Bibimbap was served on a stone, very hot bowl. It is served as shown then mixed table side. This hot bowl seemed to give the rice a crispy consistency. It was scrumptious.

The brussel sprouts had such a refreshing taste, mint and lime are in the mix. I was determined, once I got home, to make the brussel sprouts. I went overboard with the fish sauce. A bit too pungent. 

Their version was definitely better. 

Here are some views from the Departure restaurant rooftop:

I have to admit the views from above kinda gave me the heebie jeebies. Honestly, Wednesday and Thursday nights sleep was hard to come by, our room was situated right below the sky bar.

Until a certain point thru the night, I have no idea when, it was bustling above us with conversation and footsteps. I don’t think the noise level necessarily bothered me as much as my crazy thoughts.

The mom in me could not sleep wondering if someone would fly off the edge of the rail. Crazy me! 

Day 4: Last day in Portland

We fly back tomorrow, so we decided to stay in town and on foot, for our last full day. We spent a lot of time in the car that week. 

After a quick breakfast we walked into the Pearl district, to Lan Su Chinese Garden.  

Lan Su is considered the most authentic Suzhou-style Chinese garden outside of China. 

Suzhou is sister cities with Portland. I believe it was a process of 10 or more years, getting approval and planning for the garden. 

We started with a 1 hour tour guide. 

Most of the building materials came from Xhin and the plants from traditional Chinese gardens. The 65 artisans from Suzhou lived in Portland for 10 months during the project’s completion. 

After an hour of touring we sat down at the Tower of Cosmic Reflections (teahouse) and enjoyed our first ceremony tea.

Lan Su is one of those places you have to visit to understand the intricacies of it. The respect that is shown to uphold tradition, it’s a treasure.  

We headed out to find lunch.  

Fat Heads was a few blocks away, we sat outside and ordered way too much food. 

The Work in Progress Burger was a fun mix of peanut butter, crinkle cut pickles, balsamic blueberries. And the SmokeHouse chili fries had fresh-cut fries, topped with smokehouse chili, Jack and cheddar cheese, fresh jalapeños, onions, cilantro, a sunny egg and chipotle aioli. Hope you’re starving hungry kind of stuff.

A decent side of fries would have done it. But with beer, the mish-mash was excellently naughty. 

Beer good. Food good. We walked more to get some shopping done, and digest. We stopped in at Powell’s bookstore and it was a mad house. 

Went for a second round at Deschutes Brewery. Wow I was still stuffed. But we wanted more beer.

The rest of the day was spent getting some gifts and taking in the sights. 

We skipped dinner but had some late dessert at Urban Farmer

Our Friday flight was an early morning one. So we called it quits and went to packing!

Everywhere we went during our visit, there were signs of events to be held during the Eclipse. I had Portland on my mind this past Monday (Eclipse day) and the great fun we had. 

We’ll be back Portland. 

Summer Exit

 

 

 

 

 

Pt. 2: Stumptown (Portland) in a Nutshell

Yikes! I thought I’d lost a good chunk of my post.

Finally, I figured out what the heck was wrong, and my panic attack is over.

I can breathe.

If you haven’t noticed yet from the previous post, we are serious foodies. We love to try new things. It’s amazing to me how many people we talk to who are not as adventurous with food.

We are often trying to push Doraville eateries to friends, most sell themselves successfully. We love to share our adventures in food with them. But there is definitely one thing, of many we are not as educated in, wines.

I know I like Pinots Grigios and Ryan Cabernets, could we be more opposite on the taste scale?

Who goes to Portland (with so much time) and doesn’t at least give the valley a drive thru?

So wines were definitely on our Portland bucket list. Before we made it out there we were given a hearty list by an acquaintance, Steve G., who also happens to be a sommelier.

We’d heard and read that the Willamette (pronounced by natives something like this: why-lah-met) were a different breed of winemakers. For good reason, we agree whole heartedly.

As wine novices, we were so impressed by the beauty of the valley, the relaxed approach and the ease of the people.

We are not wine experts, so you don’t have to take our word for it but if what you are looking for is people with a fresh and passionate perspective about their wine making, do Willamette.

Day 2!

What is breakfast with out donuts?

We walked to the most bad ass donut place, Voodoo Donuts. I say that because who plays garage rock at 6:00 in the morning?  And they have the most unusual flavors and names for their donuts, i.e. dirty snow ball and old dirty bastard. I’m stopping there to keep it G rated. On the way out, several people in the PDX airport had boxes of donuts with them. 

The wine tasting rooms did not open till noon so we took our donuts over to the Tom McCall waterfront park. It sits along the Willamette River and a close walk from the hotel. It was quite busy with bikes, people running and us; drinking coffee and eating donuts in secret while everyone worked out, ha!

Eventually we made it back to the hotel and enjoyed a decent persons breakfast at Urban Farmer. Nothing out of the ordinary. But enjoyable. 

Wineries here we come!

About an 1.5 hours away from the Nines, our first stop was Cristom Vineyards in Salem.

First on the list that was bestowed on us by Steve G., and man it did not disappoint. 

After a bit of soaking in the views. We decided we would stay there. Forever.  

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The Willamette River hidden behind the line of trees
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Mount Hood in the horizon
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Mount Jefferson peeking up behind (snowy top) the Cascade Range

The views of the Willamette Valley are amazing, Darcy our wine pourer and source of all good information made it extra special. Specially when we told her this was our first time wine tasting. She took it easy on us. 

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Cristom pour

After 2 hours of harassing Darcy with our ignorance, and placing a wine order. I went for the Vigonier and Ryan the Syrah. 

We left a little more educated.

We took it into McMinville for lunch. Be warned. The majority of the places do not offer a menu.

Lunch was edible. After talking it over we decided we should take Darcy’s suggestion and drive back to visit Brooks Vineyards. One of her favorites, and down the street from Cristom.

We pulled in and knew we would enjoy this place. First things first. Their label is a dragon eating its own tail. If that doesn’t tell you this is gonna be good, I don’t know what will?!   

Gerry our wine extraordinaire was stellar. He gave us the complete history of the winery and the story is amazing worth looking up. There is a great documentary out called American Wine Story or just follow the link. Hit me up if u wanna borrow it 😉 

We did accompany our wine with a beautiful Charcuterie plate. I think this was my first experience with pate. Not bad. We decided on the Pomona flight, a flight of 3 whites and 3 pinot noirs. They also do lots of great food events with chef Abby. 

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House made pate, rillettes, and local salami, with house made seasonal accompaniments

Most of the wineries closed at 5 for tastings. So I can’t see how you can do more than 2-3 a day. The guide book we picked up from the concierge is 32 pages long. 23 of those are dedicated to tasting rooms, cellars, and vineyards.

We really only, barely, touched the surface of the Willamette. 1 day was enough just to tease the palette. We will absolutely be going back. 

We pushed out of Willamette and back to Portland, we needed food that would really satisfy.

Steve G., also recommended that we stop at Pok Pok

There was a long wait but it was totally worth it. Pok Pok is not your classic American Thai place. As a fan of Thai food, I was pretty blown away by the different options and flavors. A great mix of street food and home cooking you don’t normally find outside of Thailand. 

Don’t let the names of the dishes scare you off. Our waitress was glad to help. And the menu is very clear and helpful to understanding the root of the dishes and how to best enjoy them. 

We started with some of Ike’s (massive) Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings. Not your classic American wings. Followed by a very spicy dish of Muu Paa Kham Waan served with fresh leafy greens to cool down the heat. And a perfect portion of sticky white rice, swoon… and sleep.  

 

More coming your way…

Summer Exit

 

 

Pt. 1: Stumptown (Portland) in a Nutshell

It’s an unfair title, I can’t really put Portland in a nutshell. It’s got so many good things going for it, and we have way too much to say about it. 

Last week, we were blessed enough to travel there for 5 nights and 6 days. 

My sweet sister, Aurora, flew in from Texas and watched two of our three kiddos for us. Levi, the oldest, was away with Civil Air Patrol doing encampment. Imagine how blessed I feel to have someone in my life I can trust to keep my kids for that long. No way we would have gone with out her help. Thanks a bajillion sis! 

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with our beloved tia Aurora

If you have ever considered visiting Portland, summer time is the way to go. When you think of the North West cities, for good reason, rain instantly comes to mind. But the climate was outstanding this early July! 

Mild cool mornings in the 50’s-60’s and mid to high 80’s in the afternoon. We were told that they hit the 90’s the previous week. But that mornings were still cool.

I was surprised by the low humidity. I would have guessed that with water all around Portland we would have been drug down by the humidity, but no! All the places we went to on the 4 days were near a large river or by the ocean. Willamette, Hood and Columbia River and of course the Pacific ocean. And very low non-oppressive humidity levels.

Our itinerary went something like this:

Tell me the view from the airplane of Hood Mountain was not incredible! (checked that off our list)

For our first night, Sunday, we arrived and our bodies were confused. It was 7 p.m. PDX time. Even a 3 hour time change can mess with ya! 

At the airport we immediately grabbed some Peet’s Coffee, picked up our car from our awesome Avis agent and drove in to Downtown Portland. We got checked in to our ah-mazing hotel, the Nines, did a quick walk thru of our room and decided dinner at Departure was a must.

Departure is rated one of the best restaurants in PDX, by several Portland publishings.

Easy for us, it’s located on the rooftop of the Nines. The views are incredible!

By the time we got seated it was midnight in Atlanta, so we ordered lite.

Just kidding… It was impossible to contain ourselves. 

Man was it good!

Day 1!

Woke up way early and plan-less. We had an idea of what we wanted to do pre-arrival, but the truth is we did not have too much time to make set plans. 

So we headed downstairs to maul things over and have breakfast at the hotels other restaurant, Urban Farmer.

I got a vegetable frittata with seasonal vegetables, foraged mushrooms and aged cheddar. I also got a half order of brioche french toast, with peach jam, hazelnut butter and pure maple syrup on the side. 

Ryan got a house made honey biscuit with a fried egg, sausage gravy crispy chicken leg and lemon marmalade on the side. He added a small side of chicken cherry sausage for good measure.

Needless to say we ate a colossal breakfast. Another hit!

I went to the room to digest (sleep). Ryan sat down with the amazing hotel concierge and got the scoop on what to do while in Portland and throughout Oregon.

I say amazing because Ryan came back to the room with a full-on plan! What we mentioned to the concierge we were looking to do, he expanded on. I never knew the power of a concierge. For the rest of the trip we harassed him constantly.  

We hit the road, our route took us North into Washington State for brief bit, thru what seemed to be a large logging community, Longview, WA. 

Soon enough we were back down into Oregon. We followed the scenic route, US-30, along the Historic Columbia River Hwy.  The last half of the drive, we had views of the Columbia River and my thoughts went wild remembering all the stories I’ve read about The Lewis and Clark Expedition.

We made it to Astoria shy of lunch time. If  you are a movie buff, Astoria is where Goonies was filmed. Apparently a lot of good movies were wholly or partially filmed in this area and throughout Oregon. Can you tell, I am not excited with this finding, I don’t consider myself a movie buff. 

Our first stop was Ft. George Brewery and Public House.

Ryan got a tap brew taster tray, I had to pass. I’d taken something for nausea that was making feel not so great. First go at Oregon brews (Ft. George ended up being Ryan’s favorite) and I missed out. Oh well.

We shared the BEST wild Alaskan salmon fish and chips. The fresh salmon taste was distinct. We also threw in another dish in to the mix, a plate of chipotle hummus.

Also in Astoria and just a few minutes from the center, we stopped in at Ft. Clatsop (named after the Indians of that region), this was the winter encampment for the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery missions team. 

I was curious, but admittedly I was quite gripped at the thought of the hardships, dangerous adventures and victories these brave souls experienced. I am really glad we stopped in.

Our main destination was Cannon Beach. It was a quintessential small beach town. Lots of people, traffic and shopping for a Monday afternoon.

Although the sun was out and the uv index was high, it was windy, and in the mid 60’s. People were laid out and kids were playing. Some were in sweaters, I was in a windbreaker and pants. Not the kind of beach weather I am used to. We were obviously not mentally prepared for it because it was short-lived. I like a little sizzle on the beach in July. 

We packed it up and went over to one of Oregon’s most recognizable landmarks, Haystack Rock.

Signs letting visitors know that puffins are easily spotted were about, real bummed we never saw one. Apperantly, when the tide is out you can walk right up to Haystack.  

Once we got our fix, we headed back towards Portland. We took a different route back, still we were back to the hotel in 2 hours. 

We walked around looking for the Columbia Sportswear store (born and grown in Portland) to grab a vest for RYan because it was that chilly, he lost his earlier in the day. When Ryan told them he had lost his, they gave him a 20% off coupon. So thoughtful of them! Since he grabbed a $90 vest.

For dinner we hit up another Portland top restaurant, Imperial. It’s located a few blocks away from our hotel.

We ordered parker rolls and grilled flatbread to share. We also tried to order the half roasted chicken but they were out. We were recommended by our waitress to try the fried chicken instead. It was really good, flavorful, juicy, and boneless. More of a large tender.

I realized later, we were so tired and hungry from the drive (4hrs or so in the car that day), that I had no energy to look back thru the menu. They had a lot of tasty looking seafood and vegetable dishes we’ll have to try next time.

For dessert we had warm olive oil cake with pistachios, coconut crumble, strawberries and whipped cream cheese (no pic:-)). It was just the right amount of sweetness, fluff and portion.  

I’ll update you on the next few days. I still have more on wines, dines, gorge and gardens. 

 

Part 2 can be found here

Summer Exit

 

Cooking With Whine: Half-Stuffed Zucchini

I am already overwhelmed with the amount of zucchini we have harvested. I am up to my eyeballs in it.

I did petition God to make this season more rainy. It’s all because of the watering. It can take me a good 30 minutes to an hour every morning, depending on how good we want and need to be with our plants on a given day.

Thankfully watering has been off my plate, and with all this rain, the garden bed is blowing up!

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Lot’s of zucchini on hand. 

God knows I don’t find much joy in cooking. That’s the truth.

I should be better prepared, but most days I am not and end up dreading dinner time.

So I kept adding zucchini to my lentils over the last week. Then I gave some away. And then I refrigerated it. This way it’s lost in the fridge and I don’t have to cook it.

It’s not you zucchini, it’s me.

I don’t lack ideas, I lack motivation.

I have a medley of recipes for zucchini:

zucchini bread

roasted zucchini

zucchini brownies

zucchini cakes or fritters

zucchini stuffed with all sorts of meaty things

zucchini lasagna (my favorite)

I’m feeling like Bubba right about now.

Anyway, like I was sayin’, you can just grate it or slice it or cube it or whatever…. and freeze it until ready to use. lol!

All I’m saying is that the vegetable is so versatile and delicious. Especially when freshly picked from our own front yard garden.

Now I remember why I wanted it so badly!

So, I sucked it up and cooked most of it. 

I do love recipes that make and stash. The kind you can make in advance or make reserves for another day.

So this is where I took it (This recipe was adapted from Nancy Fuller):

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Put a pot of water and salt to boil. 

In the meantime brown the ground meat (I used turkey breast). No oil needed but some cooking spray won’t hurt. Or a tablespoon of olive oil if you’re worried about sticking. 

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While all this other stuff is going on, remove the pulp with a basic teaspoon and turn them into little boats (mine are shown below).  Chop the pulp and set both aside for later.

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Once the water has come to the boiling point, add the zucchini and allow to boil for ONLY one minute. Once removed, run cold water over it. We don’t want boats that are limp. I don’t think this is crucial for fresh zucchini but I wanted to boil my zucchini before I added it to the baking dish. All those bugs in the garden – eeew. I know, I’m weird. 

Add about 1/2 cup salsa to the bottom of the pan. Then place the blanched zucchini on top.

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Meanwhile my meat has been browning. I added all the dry seasonings once the pink was gone and added the rest of the chopped veggies to my pan.

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I like my onion to get some color before I add my wet ingredients.

Once I am satisfied, I add the wet ingredients and mix.

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Cover pan and allow these to mingle for about 10-15 minutes. Taste for salt.

If satisfied with the flavor get ready to top your zucchini.

Depending on the size of your zucchini, you may need to top them with a 1/3 cup or more of the meat mixture. Once all are topped. 

Place a bit shredded cheddar on top of each. Cover with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes. I like firmer veggies. If you would rather your zucchini be more cooked, give them another 5-10 minutes. 

And done friends!

Served this with a little side of brown rice and since I have these on hand, lots of mater & cuke salad. Garden tomatoes are the best!

Zucchini Boats
Kid approved! At least for today. 

Half-Stuffed Zucchinis

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 4-6 zucchinis halves (cut lengthwise)
  • 12oz Jar mild salsa (reserve 1/2 cup for baking dish)
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey breast or ground meat of choice
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 small onion, minced
  • 2 tbsp bell pepper, minced
  • 4-6 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat Mexican blend shredded cheese, for topping
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions or cilantro, for topping

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Using a small spoon, hollow out the center of the zucchini halves.
  3. Chop the scooped out flesh of the zucchini into small pieces and set aside to add to the filling, you may need to squeeze excess water with a paper towel or allow to drain in a colander for a few minutes.
  4. Drop zucchini halves in boiling water and cook 1 minute. Remove from water and run cold water over them for another minute.
  5. Place 1/2 cup of salsa in the bottom of a large 9″x13″ baking dish.
  6. Place cooled zucchini on top of salsa.
  7. Brown turkey in a large skillet, breaking up while it cooks. When no longer pink add the dry spices and mix well.
  8. Add the onion, bell pepper and reserved zucchini. Allow the veggies to cook for about 4 minutes.
  9. Add tomato sauce and water. Stir and cover, simmer on low for about 15-20 minutes. Taste for salt.
  10. Top using a spoon. Fill the hollowed zucchini boats dividing the taco meat equally, about 1/3 cup in each, pressing firmly.
  11. Top each with 1 tablespoon of the shredded cheese.
  12. Top with scallions.
  13. Cover with foil and bake 25 minutes until cheese is melted and zucchini is cooked through.

Buen Provecho! recipe courtesy of http://www.togetherisourfavoriteplacetobe.com

Any zucchini recipes you plan to stir up this summer? Would love to know. I think I may need them 😉

Closing 4 Blog

 

 

 

 

Road Trips, Gratitude & Meet Doraville!

My family has always been the road trippin’ kind.

As a matter of  fact, I have never been in a plane with my mami or papi. Strange probably…  

When I was in high school my older sister, Carla, would announce she was in the mood to drive and we would take to the road. Somewhere with water, preferably clear water and white sand. Often a 12 hour trip would be required. One or two nights, and we would take our tanned selves back home.  

So much driving and sitting. But it was a sweet time. She spent a lot of hours patiently listening to my teenage struggles and dreams. I love her. 

Even now, our family is the get out-of-town and catch our breath kind.

Driving to destinations is still a tradition, maybe because it is what we can afford, but mostly it is what we enjoy.

These are great times for us as a family. When you’re squeezed in a car, with all the excess luggage and the kids. We talk, laugh and remind each other quiet times are needed. 

Years ago, we were driving back from one of our out-of-town trips, one of those 6-8 hour long trips.

Why is the return trip so hard? (Back to reality maybe)

The kind of trip where we end up wishing we didn’t have to go another hour past the perimeter (and praying their is no traffic or else it be another 30 minutes) to where we actually lived.

I guess those apartment signs you see from the highway that read: “If you lived here, you’d be home by now,” really went to work on me.

Driving is not such a bad thing, Atlanta people are used to it. But the traffic can really work up a nerve. 

Still, we have to drive a lot for different activities, and Ryan for work.

Between the road trips and the regular drives, we get to visit some well to do towns. Can’t lie, I get a little jelly not because I want to live there, but because I want some of those same things for our little city. Sigh… 

So, my jealous eye and heart led to an exercise in gratitude, and a fun gathering of some thoughts for reasons why Doraville has been such a great city to reside in. 

So here I go!

  1. You might enjoy living here if you have a desire to live in-town, or as some would say in the perimeter (ITP), but are not sure you can stand the more populated parts of town. We stand roughly at a manageable sized 11,000 people, and at a total of 3.5 square miles. But because we get so much cut thru traffic of shoppers and diners you won’t necessarily run into a neighbor at the farmers market kind of small.    
  2. You might enjoy living here if you want to get just about anywhere you need to within and outside the Atlanta city limits on foot, bike, or bus. I admittedly have not gotten to enjoy this aspect as much as I’d like with three kids, and a lot of stuff to lug around. One day.  
  3. You might enjoy living here if you don’t mind that mornings on Buford Highway are relatively quiet. Afternoons and evenings are a beehive of activity. 
  4. You might enjoy living here if you are looking for these neighborhood attributes: bikeable, walkable and tree-lined safe streets. You’ll always run into friendly dog walkers, residents that simply want to take in the rays, our cities John King- Chief of Police on a run or our beloved Mayor Donna Pittman. If you are lucky all of the mentioned. 
  5. You might enjoy living here if you are worried about too much noise, I am always impressed at how quiet our streets are. Even though we are so close to  spaghetti junction, Dekalb Peachtree Airport and we live on a relatively busy cut thru street (a taste of country in the city right?) .
  6. You might want to live here if you are looking for affordable. We are one of the few affordable home communities with great in-town access. 
  7. You might enjoy living here if you are looking for plenty of parks and public recreation. Most of which are in the middle of getting a facelift. And it doesn’t hurt that we have easy access to other great Dekalb county parks.  
  8. You might want to live here if you drool at the sight of Mid Century Modern homes. These homes will need some TLC, but need I say more? Actually I will say something else about our MCM homes. For the most part the people who live here and are recent move ins respect these old homes and are not tearing down houses to make new big outta place flashy pads. 
  9. You might want to live here because you like making friends with strangers. When you’re picking out pastries at the local bakery the person next to you tells you stories about how they grew up eating taro in their baked goods, you become more appreciative that these goodies are near to you. 
  10. You might enjoy living here if you are not looking for walking distance to mega shopping malls. But if this is high on your must-haves list, they are a short drive away. Perimeter mall, Northlake mall, Lenox mall, The Forum, etc.   
  11. You might enjoy living here because whatever your idea of family is, we have it all. Singles. Married with no kids. Single parents, pet parents, and married with the average sized family. 
  12. You might enjoy living here because residing in a oversized home is not key to your family’s function. Most of these houses are not large. 
  13. You might enjoy living here if you are feeling like horchata, coffee, boba tea, a margarita, beer, or wine on a Friday night. Whatever type of drink you’re in to. You’re bound to find a place that serves it.   
  14. You might enjoy living here if you want easy access to the fourth meal: Tacos, Gyros, Seafood, Indian, so many scrumptious options. And just about everyone is a family owned eatery. Love ♥
  15. You might enjoy living here if you like access to a laundromats. I know most of the people who are reading this have no need for them but they are great to have around for when your washer decides to flood the house. Speaking from experience, it can happen. 
  16. You might enjoy living here if you want multiple International grocers you can walk or drive to, like carnicerias, asian grocers, indo-pak grocers, halal grocers and farmers markets.
  17. You might enjoy living here if you desire easy access to multiple highways. As in you don’t have to take multiple highways to get to most of these. And the big ones are right at our doorstep. I-85, I-285, 400. Hwy 78. Not just major highways but four lane cut thru highways like Peachtree Industrial. Lawrenceville Highway and Buford Hwy. 
  18. You might enjoy living here if you don’t mind taking a drive in any cardinal direction and you will find other wonderful neighborhoods to take advantage of. The closest are Chamblee, Brookhaven, Downtown Norcross and Tucker to name a few.
  19. You might enjoy living here because diversity is key in Doraville. I can’t tell you how many times I get asked at the grocery store to sniff a fruit and decide which is best to purchase – for some random stranger – ha! If you don’t mind signing and having to point through a conversation with your neighbor, you’ve come to the right place!

We are not veteran residents of the area, four years is much too fresh to consider ourselves expert Doravillians. But, we are truly grateful that we ended up here.

We quickly fell in love with the area for so many more reasons we thought we ever could or would.

It’s not a hustle and bustle kind of city, people here enjoy some fun and rest. It’s just the right measure.

It’s like that friend you can take anywhere because they are not too introverted or loud and extroverted.  

Hope you can take a step back and look at your place with a more grateful heart. There is no perfect.

What have you enjoyed about Doraville and it’s vicinity?

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Thinking About my Mami

Caught a sweet break this Mother’s Day weekend at Saint Simons Island.

I spent a lot of my time taking pictures of our kids playing with my new camera. And breathing in sweet and salty air. I know it’s not sweet, but it was sweet to my soul.

I also spent a lot of time reflecting. I couldn’t help thinking of my mom this past week. Not just because it was Mother’s Day, but it was her birthday too. 

I was thinking on some things I need to get better at home. I probably spend way too much of my energy on this. I wonder if all moms deal with the same struggle.

Constantly re-arranging schedules and chore charts. Making, and making again, to-do lists. Sigh…

One thing I need to work on more is my lack of cooking. I am coming clean friends, we are eating out too much.

I have this dreamy idea of cooking. As if it should be easy and always enjoyable in every way. For all that are involved. Rarely does that happen. I should now better.

I was remembering when we first married, Ryan was the cook (I am not saying the following to discredit the accolade I just gave him). He was recently out of college and hamburger helper beef stroganoff  was not gonna cut it for me until death do us part!

Maybe I was set up for failure from the beginning. Having grown up with a hispanic mom that was deeply and still is, deeply dedicated to her home. She would cringe when I would beg her for food from the frozen food aisle or for some lunchables. 

Sometimes she would reluctantly give in.

I never saw a more hard-working momma.

She managed the home like a well tuned machine. Keeping a home clean is no easy task, and without fail most days she had a nicely cooked meal made from scratch. 

She just had a way of prioritizing her home to a level I could only wish to reach one day.

Here are a few things my mami has made for us that we love: 

Even now, the thing I look forward to the most, besides her company, is her cooking. When I told her I was coming to visit her in Honduras last Thanksgiving, one of the first things she said to me was that she couldn’t wait to cook for me.

She loved us well, and that was her special way of showing it.

So I try. I can’t say I will ever be as dedicated.

May has come and is almost gone. I hope you have sweet memories of your mom.

They may not be.

I just hope that you long to one day be and show your own, whether the two-legged or four-legged variety 😉 what true mother hood should look and feel like.

 

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Dampers, Lounging and Walls. Oh my!

Something you don’t think about when purchasing an old home: the living spaces don’t focus on making the television the center of the living space. Lovely!

Altering space is not for the faint-of-heart.

I mean renovating and building. Formulate it as you may, something is always bound to go wrong.

Ryan dealt with plenty of woes for the 3 months he took on this house renovating project.

It’s never over.  

While we love and know we can live in this exact floor plan forever, there are times when we look at our renovated space, and realize we could have done things better to fit our needs.

Can you relate?

 

One thing  I’ve recently figured out, is I think I am not a fireplace person. I shrink a little when I say that.

When we go camping (which I love to do), I am not a fan of smoke up my nose and eyes. And the smell of smoke all over our belongings drives me nutty. 

How about cleaning a fireplace?… Don’t make me go there. Actually, I looked it up one day. Just ugh…

Word of warning: It is not a beautifully choreographed scene from Mary Poppins 😦

bert-mary-poppins
Good ol’ Bert

After almost 4 years in this house, we hadn’t used the fireplace until this last Christmas break.

One burn was enough for me.

I took my husbands handy shop vac went to town to clean it spic and span. I’d already cleaned the entire house, to an immaculate, eat off the floor state – listen to me, so self righteous!

Well… the vacuum did not have the filter in it. Pretty important when you’re using a shop vac to vacuum ashes. 

Turned it on, feeling so proud of myself.

I had a tornado cloud of ashes hovering all around me. It was without a doubt, my Lucy moment. Back to square one. 

Granted it was not the fireplaces fault. Just Ryan’s for not buying a replacement filter. Sigh…

I still love the look and feel a fireplace brings. I was the one that insisted on testing it out.

I guess having something so traditional has always been fascinating to me. And I love the centerpiece it can be for a space, visually and socially. 

But let me be completely honest, I am longing for a gas log fireplace. With fake logs and no smoke. 

Don’t be offended lovers of fire wood! I once judged those people too. 3 houses with 3 fireplaces later. I’m over it! 

We would  keep the wood burning for camping trips and our lovely fire pit for out-of-doors. 

We had a quote not too long ago to repair the broken bricks and add a damper to the chimney, basically do an overall update to it. Just the inside part of this repair was almost $2,000.  The outside needs lots of attention too.

We’re going to wait it out until we know for certain we want to keep the fireplace. 

Sadly, our fireplace is falling apart and it has been daunting knowing what to do next.

We keep wondering if we should repair it, or knock it out completely?

There are a few issues present:

  • Can’t hang anything heavy over the fireplace. It’s hanging on by a thread, because it has aged, the brick sags. 
  • There is no damper or flue. This means a wide open chimney for the heat to escape in the winter and during the summer valuable cool air goes out. Pests meander in easily as well.
  • Rain water is getting in, even thought we have looked for ways to fix it, we have started to notice mold in the past year.
  • It is simply wasted space right now.

The Living Room:

I found two lovely photographs of the living room I just had to share with you.

The photograph on the bottom left is from an advertisement for our neighborhood in House and Home magazine (not sure of the date). Below right is a lovely decorated pre-purchase photograph of our living room. Didn’t the last home owners do a lovely job?! I saved the photos from their real estate listing, 2013. 

Definitely gets my creative juices flowing. I do wish the previous owners would have left their furnishings behind, ha! I’m thinking I need to reach them to help me re-decorate. 

I think Ryan wishes I didn’t have these photographs in my possession. Too many ideas flowing, ha!

Something you don’t think about when purchasing an old home: the living spaces don’t focus on making the television the center of the living space. Lovely! 

Really, I’m okay with that. It’s just something you don’t think about with old homes. 

I imagine the nook in the fireplace (shown below left), was the spot for it! 

But not for our McMassive plasma T.V.

Photograph shown below right is NOT our t.v. Ha!

Living Room Renovation:

We ended up “modernizing” the fireplace to create a wall for the T.V. 

Yup. For the T.V.

I can’t lie to you guys. For the T.V.

We realized hanging a television from the brick would not work, for safety concerns and wiring. 

Above you can see where we pushed back the wall to the left of the fireplace and framed it. It was all brick against brick. We also closed off a window that was floor to ceiling. 

The result of this was it made the wall flush all the way across with the entry wall, and gave us a wall that has usable sheet rock wall space. 

EditedLivingRoom2

You see how hard I try to ignore the existence of the TV in our home, shown above. The T.V. is obviously WAY off-center. It’s an easy fix. We just rearrange the seats a touch and it’s livable.

Haven’t heard anyone say, “but, we don’t want to watch t.v. because the tv is off-center mom.” Or “video games with the t.v. the way it’s positioned? Wah…”.

No friends 😉 

A big part of me wishes there was not a television in the house at all. Sacrilegious, I know.

It’s rarely ever on during the week. The kids get it as a treat on the weekends for a few hours. Ryan and I on occasion stay up and watch something together. But most of the time I’d rather sleep or read. And don’t we already spend enough time on the computer and smartphones as it is?…

Just saying, my way of life would not be spoiled if we did not have a T.V. anywhere in the house. 

But I have yet to win this argument. I don’t suppose I ever will.

The Office:

While we are in the living space I’ll go ahead and show you the “office.”

EditedOffice

The original space was intended for the dining room. Since we knocked down the wall in the kitchen, we were able to add the 6 person table to the kitchen space. 

Since we can not use one of the three bedrooms, we utilized this as our fully functional office space. 

Thanks for visiting!

Have you gotten a healthy dose of enjoyment from your fireplace? Any Advise you can thrown our way?

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