Central Oregon Activities, Home Fun

9 Spring Activities to Kick Off the Season

Spring is in the air. Kind of. I think we all know Central Oregon spring doesn’t have quite the same pizazz as our neighbors west of the mountains, but its energy is still invigorating as we transition from winter to summer.

For you, kicking off this season might mean the standard spring cleaning or moving your runs back outside instead of in the gym. But if you’re looking for some ways to really say “hello spring” and make an event of it here’s a checklist to get you going.

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1. See Some Cherry Blossoms

You’ll have to get out of Central Oregon for this one, but not only is it worth it, it is a surefire way to get excited about spring. If you’re popping over to Portland for a weekend this season, you can catch an incredible cherry blossom show at Hoyt Arboretum, Laurelhurst Park or Pittock Mansion.

2. Have a Picnic in the Park

One of our favorite repeat bucket list items, a picnic in a park with delicious snacks, family and friends will give spring the feel it deserves. Drake Park and Miller’s Landing are always classics to get to as the season kicks off, but check out Hollinshead Park, Hillside Park or Sawyer Park if you want to mix it up a bit.

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3. Visit a Farm

We can’t have a spring list without being able to see some animals! Find a local farm and go check out some of the babies that are coming out to play. Or if you’re an alpaca fan, visit Crescent Moon Ranch to see the fuzzy critters.

4. Go Horseback Riding

If you’ve lived here for awhile, you likely know someone who has their own horses. And if you ask nicely, they might take you for a ride! This is an amazing way to welcome spring and feel the power and beauty of these animals. You can also check out horseback riding at Brasada Ranch for the full package.

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5. Hunt for Four Leaf Clovers

Okay, this one is just fun! And will also require a little bit of a drive, but the colors and beauty that will be coming this season will be more than worth it. You can start your hung along the McKenzie.

6. Make Sidewalk Chalk Art

This isn’t just fun for kids! (Although, if you do have kids, it’s a great way to spend the afternoon.) Let your inner child loose and get some sidewalk chalk, mark off your territory and create a masterpiece. There are few things more satisfying that enjoying the sunshine and getting chalk on your hands creating art.

7. Dance in the Rain

Sounds typical, but there’s a reason it comes up so often. Dancing has all sorts of health and emotional benefits and is a form of therapy. Adding the rain to it will just make it that much more freeing. Our rainy days here in Central Oregon are few and far between, but when it comes along get outside and let yourself be wild.

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8. Build a Bird House

As all the little animals start coming back out to play, building a bird house is a great activity to greet spring and enjoy some creativity. Then put them up and watch as your flying friends come by all throughout summer.

9. Plan a Garbage Pickup Day

Let’s not ever forget to commit to our community every season, but spring is an excellent time to get a group together, get outside and pick up some trash. Pick an area of town you’d like to tackle and make an event of it.

How do you like to kick off spring?

Home Fun

Going Green in the Kitchen: 6 Products to Get Started

In honor of Earth Day, which is just right around the corner on April 22, we wanted to share some of our favorite organic and eco-friendly kitchen products. Both of us are making a conscious effort to step up in the realm of going green and since the kitchen is one place we tend to be pretty wasteful, we thought we’d share some of our favorites.

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1. Unpaper Towels from Etsy

This little Etsy shop must be doing well because these paper towel alternatives are amazing. Not only will they give love to the environment but they will also make your wallet happy as well. AND THEY HAVE SNAPS! So they act and look like real paper towels (so don’t worry, your favorite paper towel holder still comes in handy) but without the environmental impact. And on top of all that, they’re absolutely adorable.

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2. Bee’s Wrap for Food Storage

We were introduced to these a little over a year ago and we love them! We now give them for gifts for friends, family and clients. They are so easy to use and, of course, bee’s wax is always something we’re excited about trying. Whether you’re saving fruits, leftover dinners or lost the lid to one of your jars, these will do the trick.

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3. Reusable Silicone Food Bag

These bags are amazing for lunches and snacks on the go. Instead of using those nasty plastic zip lock bags every day, just get a few of these and you’re set. They’re reusable of course and keep everything nice and tight and sealed in for deliciousness.

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4. Reusable Produce Bags

Something you might not often think about (I know we sure didn’t) is the environmental impact every time you go to the grocery store and put your fruits and veggies in those plastic bags. An alternative, of course, could be to not use any bag at all. But who wants that? Your produce rolling around in the dirty shopping cart with all the other foods? It may seem a bit spendy at first, but these are well worth the dime you put toward them. And you can pat yourself on the back for adding them to your Going-Green Kit.

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5. Eco-Friendly Pots and Pans

These pots and pans are not only good for the environment but they’re amazing in the kitchen. So although we don’t recommend cycling out your currently pots just because (since that would be wasteful in and of itself), if you’re in the market for a new set, do check these ones out.

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6. Silicone Sponges

Not only are regular sponges gross and collect all sorts of nasty bacteria, but they are awful for the environment since they don’t last very long. Mix things up with these silicone sponges that will make your hands feel good as well as your desire to help out our earth.

What products do you use to make the switch to an eco-friendly kitchen?

Home Fun

New Thanksgiving Tradition Ideas

The holidays are well on their way! We’re gearing up to list all the things we’re thankful for and start setting up our decorations for December soon after. Thanksgiving is a fun time to get creative with new traditions for the family, whether that be additions to old traditions or starting fresh with the kiddos.

Here are some ideas to get you started.

1. The Thankful Jar

Here’s a Thanksgiving idea I think we can all get on board with. You could start this at the beginning of the week or limit it to just the day of. Set a jar out with some cut up pieces of paper and a few pens. Throughout the week (and/or Thanksgiving day), your family and friends can add what they’re thankful for to the jar. They can then leave it anonymous or add their name. Then, at the Thanksgiving feast, pull out the jar and read the blessings aloud. This is a fun way to do the traditional “this is what I’m thankful for” without putting everyone on the spot.

2. Gratitude Note Cards

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving this year, this is a fun way to put smiles on your guests’ faces. At each name card on the table, add a line about what you’re thankful for in regards to that person. For example, “John Doe: I am thankful for your ability to be positive all the time.” This personalizes the experience and adds a little extra love to each place card.

3. Decorate Cookies

Gearing up for the holidays in December, you could use Thanksgiving (or the Friday after) as a kickoff day for the season. Take the time to decorate some cookies. If you choose to do this on the day of Thanksgiving, you could even have little “gift bags” with the cookies and a nice note of thankfulness for your guests when they leave. Offering a nice send-off into the holiday season.

4. Watch a Holiday Movie

No matter what your holiday is come December, Thanksgiving is a great time to cozy up and watch a movie after the feast. Another way to kick off the upcoming celebrations, start a tradition by watching the same movie every Thanksgiving. In Patty’s house, they watch Elf each year. This tradition was started by her daughter-in-law and has now extended to the whole family, and even her grandson.

5. Thanksgiving Tree

Similar to the jar idea, this one is interactive and a fun way to engage your family and company on the holiday. Bring in a branch from outside and cut up some leaves (reds, oranges and yellows if you want to get into the fall spirit) from construction paper. People can then write down what they’re thankful for and add it to the tree, creating a beautiful representation of how we all come together on this holiday.

Do you have any Thanksgiving traditions? What are they?

Home Fun

9 Fall Recipes You Have to Try

If you like exploring in the kitchen, this is the post for you. We’ve curated some delicious recipes to get your creativity flowing on those chilly, fall Sunday afternoons.

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1. One Pan Pork Chops with Apples and Onions

We’re kicking off this list with one that makes our mouths water just thinking about it. They may look like a lot of work, but don’t let the pictures deceive you. The benefit of cooking a meal in one pan is that it’s only one prep then in the oven it goes! And also, just one pan to clean at then end of the night.

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2. One-Pot Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup

Two words. SOUP. SEASON. And this list will have several for you to try. Starting with this hearty, delicious and comforting tomato soup with a twist. Get your crockpot out, because this is worth it.

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3. Sweet n’ Spicy Butternut Squash Pizza (with cider caramelized onions and bacon)

Just read that a few times. Because when we saw it, our hearts sank. (And anything with bacon just gets an automatic extra star in our book.) This delicious combination of flavors is great for pizza night with the kids or the at-home date night you’ve been craving. Get out the pizza dough and experiment with the options!

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4. Pear and Proscuitto Triangles with Triple Creme Brie

Cheese and fruit. Quite possibly the best appetizer combination. Add these triangles to your holiday party to get all the compliments and leave the plate clean. And they are surprisingly easy to make, with a total prep and cook time of only 35 minutes.

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5. Harvest Turkey Soup

Another soup for the mix, this one will bring the energy of fall right into the bowl. With the colors and flavors, cozy up with it when the wind is howling outside or pack it for your work lunch. It’s also a great way to use up those holiday leftovers.

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6. Fall Harvest Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

We’ve already started to bring out the hearty recipes for a feeling of comfort, but let’s take a look at this salad to keep the greens flowing. And any salad with quinoa in it is okay by us. The mix of flavors and colors in this one will even have your kids wanting more.

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7. Butternut Squash Chili

Hellooo new and improved chili! We all have a special place in our hearts for the chili we learned from our parents or grandparents, but just to mix things up (and take advantage of the fall squash), try this one on for size for a sweet interpretation of one of your favorites.

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8. Parmesan Roasted Carrots

This is one of those recipes you’ll try once and then add it to your regular routine. Delicious not only in the fall, but year round. AND they’re super easy to make! Make them your side dish to your go-to chicken and rice recipe or eat them on their own as a snack.

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9. Autumn Minestrone Soup

Ending this list with a bang…and another soup. Because we just love soup. This one takes another classic, minestrone soup, but that butternut squash shows up once again to add that fall flare and keep things interesting.

What are your favorite fall recipes?

 

Home Fun

10 Things to Purge This Fall

Fall is an excellent time to purge and recenter before cozying up and changing pace for the winter. As you’re putting away your beach towels and pulling out your fuzzy blankets, consider some of these areas of your home to dig through.

1. Spices and Seasonings

Pull out all the items from your spice cabinet, wipe things down and as you go to put them back, check all the expiration dates before putting them back in.┬áCan’t speak for you, but we sure have an issue with forgetting about items once they fall deep in the back of the spice rack.

2. Freezer

Similar to the spice cabinet, our freezer can become black holes where things go and never come out again. Now is a good time to dig in before things get too cold and you’ll avoid it again for another year.

3. Sandals and Summer Shoes

The end of a season is a great time to purge the shoes of that season. Why? Because you can genuinely ask yourself if you’ll wear them again by evaluating how much you just wore them. If the answer is “never,” you’re probably safe to send them on their way.

4. Swimwear

For the same reason sandals and summer shoes can go, so can your swimwear. We tend to stack up too many swimsuits with the idea that it’s good to have backups. It might be, but try choosing just one backup and select the few you really love to keep around.

5. Toys

Toys the kids have grown out of should be donated, and fall is a great time to do it before getting into the holidays. Then you can really evaluate what they need and what they might be asking for when Santa comes around.

6. Garden Tools and Products

It may seem silly to do this now since they’ll be going into storage for the winter, but think about how amazing it will feel when spring rolls around and you don’t have to dig through all the tools and feel overwhelmed. This will set you up for success when you get that garden itch in April.

7. Magazines and Books

Now’s the time to consider your own Holiday Wish List. Free up some space on your bookshelf for the new book you know you’re going to want when the new year comes.

8. Throw Blankets

I think we tend to take the approach that you can never have too many blankets. But, here’s a real truth for you…you can. Pick your favorites and a few extras for those Thanksgiving Parade days, then take the rest to a Central Oregon shelter or one of the many clothing and blanket drives that are happening.

9. Product Purge

This one is (primarily, but not always) for the ladies. Hit the bathroom and go through all the products you’ve stored in your cupboards. It will be so worth it to have a fresh bathroom with just your essentials.

10. The Paperwork

Maybe you have a home office. Maybe you store your old paperwork and bills and letters in random drawers in the kitchen. Collect all of them and get rid of what you truly don’t need anymore. And try to be honest with yourself. Then, once you’ve purged. Maybe buy some folders and get your organization on.

If you’re looking for a great book to help you with this process, check out The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It will change your life.

Do you have purging ideas? Share them with us!