Last year, I wanted to make an adult advent calendar. No, not that kind of “adult”. Sheesh!
Seeing a friend’s calendar of adorable tree-topped miniature boxes, I started thinking how it would be fun to do a grown up version. After doing a bit of searching around, it seemed that most advent calendar ideas were either for kids or they were interesting themed gifts of 25 whiskeys, 25 chocolates, 25 wines etc. I wanted to do something a bit more budget friendly and experience oriented instead of shopping/consumer driven.
The result was a giant list of fun activities and outings. After the list was finished, I realized that they fall into three main categories – food or drinks to make/eat, at home activities, and holiday outings. I’m sure you’ll be able to think of a ton more fun activities along those lines!
Since I was traveling the first few days of December, the advent calendar was just a list in Google Docs. Then I ordered some silver cardstock on Amazon, so by the time I got the paper, printed and cut out all the circles it was Day 6, but who’s counting?
1. Create a list of at least 25 activities or little gifts. (see ideas below)
2. Make sure the activities line up with anything already on your calendar (ie. if you have a big Christmas party on the 13th, make sure you slot in something simple as the activity for that day).
3. Be flexible. If you miss a day or need to re-arrange things, don’t stress about it. The point of creating this advent calendar is to add more joy into your month, not create a stress storm!
4. Find a calendar style that works for you. You could go as simple as writing them all down on paper or keeping a list on your calendar, or more complicated with little boxes or bags, like some of these ideas. I designed my own Christmas tree shape out of silver dots. Check out the instructions on how, below.
Step 1. Get silver cardstock (or any color you like).
Step 2. Arrange 12 #s to a page equally spaced with a fun font. Here’s my template, #1-12 printable pdf, #13-24 printable pdf, #25 printable pdf (in gold or silver). Print onto the card stock with your printer. If you don’t have a printer, you can print to Kinkos for pretty cheap too.
Step 3. Round up a few glasses from the kitchen to see what size of circle fits best (using either the rim of glass or base of glass) and trace around each circle with a pencil. Then cut out the circles!
Step 4. Print out the list of activities (or write them on the back side of each dot) and assemble on the wall in a Christmas tree shape. I printed out the activities list and used double sided tape to attach to each dot so we could have the option of moving days around and re-using the dots another year.
Here is my idea list from the categories of making food or drinks, at home activities, and outings – some of which can overlap. :)
And here’s a printable list of some of the above activities that we picked last year. Enjoy!
Are you doing an advent calendar this year?
This post was updated, but originally written in December 2013. Enjoy!
After taking two summers off from gardening, I’m back to discovering how green my thumbs can be. I had considered doing a CSA at the beginning of summer and then decided to DIY with gardening and farmers market. I started out this spring with some container gardening – think super small planters, not a container box on the ground. The arugula, strawberries, butter lettuce, and basil did really well until June or July. And after moving mid-summer, suddenly I had a 75% volunteer garden! We’re still overflowing with tomatoes – cherry, sun gold, heirloom, roma… There’s a little bit of basil still hanging on, tons of rhubarb, mint, rosemary, sage. The blueberries were amazing, but long gone. Pumpkins – surprise! And the only thing that didn’t turn out well from our super volunteer garden was the corn.
As the summer ends, tons and tons of tomatoes are the only veggie we’re still juggling from our garden. So when a friend asked if I wanted to take over the last couple months of his CSA share as he moves to Seattle, I accepted the challenge.
I thought it would be fun to document here some of what we’re receiving each week and how I’m making myself actually use it!
This Week’s CSA bounty:
1. Roasted Eggplant, Tomato, and Feta Salad - I ended up combining a couple recipes and using what was available, for this salad. It was super tasty– eggplant, tomatoes, feta, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, red pepper flakes, and basil.
2. Dragon Tongue Beans with Butter and Garlic – While these purple and white beans are fun to look at — they ended up not being my favorite. I sautéed them with butter and garlic and added some basil. The purple color faded, which obviously doesn’t impact the taste – but I was more into the garlic, butter, and basil sauce than the actual beans.
3. Feta-stuffed Peppers – My sister had just sent me a quick recipe she created, so I knew exactly what I was going to use the mini peppers for when I saw them in the CSA this week. This is one quick and tasty starter. RECIPE: After halving, and de-seeding the peppers, boil or steam them for about 5 minutes. Mix 1/2 to 3/4 cup of feta, 1+ TB of olive oil, and salt and pepper. Then fill the pepper halves with the mixture, place on a baking sheet and broil on a lower rack in the oven for about 5-10 minutes. So good!
The only unused veggies this week were the few tiny spicy peppers – hot sauce maybe? And the small onions, which will go in almost anything next week.
After the first week, I’m super excited about getting out of my current cooking rut! I love cooking and trying new recipes, but all too often I get in little routines of making the same dishes on my meal plan. Another thing I noticed was that if I have something to use up, I’ll go searching for a recipe to make, but in the grocery store I usually just quickly run through my typical things. I wouldn’t have gone out of my way this week to pick up eggplant, peppers, or dragon tongue beans.
Photo by Schoolyard Farms
With 31 days of summer left, I’m starting to feel like I’m running out of time to experience all the summer stuff I love. But I feel like this every year. Summer in Oregon is pretty much the best thing ever.
My summer list is a little Portland-centric, so feel free to replace things with your local, summer fun time places and things.
I’m bolding the stuff I still want to check off!
This week marks the official start to summer! As the weather heats up – yes, it gets into the 90s in Portland – city folk run for the Oregon coast and the nearest rivers. If you’ve been dreaming of a leisurely day on the water, here’s everything you need to know to get out on one of our many rivers.
While there are many rivers that you can swim and play in near Portland (including parts of the Columbia and the Willamette), if you want to do a proper float — from point A to point B — your best bet is to head to the Sandy River or the Clackamas River. Both rivers have several parks that you can base yourself from and either swim/wade in the water or go tubing. The Sandy is a little closer to central Portland, but the Clackamas is my favorite. You can also float on the Willamette River in July during The Big Float event.
First, you’ll need two cars if you plan to float from one park to the next (your other option is to bike or hitch a ride back to the upper parking lot). Here’s how:
1. On your way to the river, either drop Car #1 off at the float STOPPING point (and have driver #1 jump in Car #2) and drive Car #2 to the START point. OR have everyone meet at the STARTING point and then while everyone is getting ready, Driver #1 and #2 take both cars to the STOPPING point as detailed above.
2. When you arrive at the end of the float, either fit everyone into Car #1 and go get Car #2 at the STARTING point OR send both drivers to rescue Car #1. And everyone else gets to start a picnic. (Hope you put the food in Car #1).
Remember, the drivers need to keep their keys with them on the float!
Most outdoor stores (Next Adventure etc.) in Portland have inner tubes for river floats (and stores like Fred Meyer do too). As summer heats up, it can be difficult to find tubes in stock and/or at a reasonable price, so plan ahead (I was quoted $60 for the cheapest tube at one big box sporting goods store in town one year). As much as I like to shop local, I decided to buy inner tubes on Amazon (and with Amazon Prime free 2-day shipping, you don’t have to plan ahead that far), which makes the adventure much more affordable!
You have several options for floating the Clackamas River, as there are three typical start points and three end points. The most popular launch is from Milo McIver State Park‘s Upper Ramp near Estacada, Oregon (see map for details).
View Portland Tubing: River Float Map in a larger map
Leave your favorites in the comments. Float on!
This is a quick race recap post about my running adventures. Check out my Running page for more info on races and how I started running.
If you haven’t been to Central Oregon, add it to your list! 300 days of sunshine, epic views of the Cascade mountains range, and a booming beer scene. Plus, one of the funniest things about Bend, is as a pretty outdoorsy person, being there makes me feel like a total amateur. While the Pacific Northwest has a good deal of people who like to get out on the weekend and hike etc., Central Oregon is full of athletes and people who are outdoorsy like it’s their job. Coming from Portland, it’s fun to see the difference.
I started the ball rolling on Memorial Day weekend plans in Bend way back in January. Then I saw that the Happy Girls 10k was the same weekend and decided to sign up.
Last year it was a bit chilly over Memorial Day weekend in Bend, but this year was pretty ideal running weather. Since the place we were staying was literally right on the course, we had our own little cheering section at the park. I definitely need to work on the slow down and smile nicely for a photo from loved ones bit though.
My Happy Girls 10k Time – 0:59 (9:37 pace)
I started out waaay to fast [for me!] on this one. I also overlooked that there was a bit of a hill in mile 5, oops! My Nike+ ended at 6.1 something instead of 6.2, so not sure what was up with the course or my phone.
Happy Girls Race Swag/Perks:
What: Happy Girls 10k
When: Sunday, May 25, 2014
Where: Deschutes River Trail – Bend, Oregon
Price: $37.58 (with promo code)
Overall, I loved the Happy Girls race. The course around the Deschutes River and parks is as-always gorgeous. It’s also fun to see Mt Bachelor and Broken Top in the background of race photos.
The staff of the event were also really kind. The only downside was that it lacked the “race energy” that you experience at bigger events with more people. And for my friend who ran through an injury, the lack of a distraction from smiling, cheering faces was probably a bit more noticeable. While the 10k was a tiny group, it seemed like both the half and the 5k were a bit more packed.
I can see myself running this one again.