What Just Happened?

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One year!  It’s been a whole year that we have been here.  From wondering, as we left California after 36 years, where we’d be in a year, now I know.

As we passed the “Leaving California” sign, and crossed the “Welcome to Oregon” sign, my anxiety, trepidation, and sense of adventure increased.  Had we made the right decision?  We knew nothing about Portland, hadn’t been there in 20 years.  We’d never considered moving there.  Why?  It was right next door to CA after all.  Have you ever seen an episode of “Portlandia?”

toga guy   I rest my case.

From a leaky aero bed, to settling in to our very small apartment, we have made it to today. IMG_4148

In every year, there are highs and lows.  Here are some of ours.

The Lows.

Most of them concern our very small loft apartment.  It’s hot!  We have huge windows, but only one opens and no breeze.  No balcony either so no outdoor space.

We’re downtown, it’s noisy!  Street cleaning takes place at 3am.  We are right above a bottle return  center.  We are above the Safeway which is good and bad.  Safeway delivery trucks are not quiet.  Traffic, buses and trains, oh my!

We have an abundance of homeless and street bums.  Why?  The Safeway, subsidized housing all around us.  The generosity Portland shows these people is legendary, so come they do.  I was coming out of Safeway one day and sitting right in a row were 5 bums.  The leader asked me for money and I said I had none.  He said “Come on!  we’re just trying to have some sushi for lunch here.”  Definitely creative.

Oh I forgot Tom’s job hunt!  That took a whole 8 months.

Now for the good!

Newcomers Club.  The best thing I ever did.  All the incredible hiking.  Multnomah Fallslower half of falls  Our trip to Bend and hiking Smith RockAt the top

The Rose Garden and the Japanese Garden r.garden    All the new things to see and discover.  The wine country, Mt Hood, the Columbia River, the fruit loop

apples

The restaurants are wonderful.  Living downtown enables us to experience so many and we can walk to them.  The Portland Art Museum is right across the street.  No sales tax!  The price listed is what you pay.  Powells book store.

Best of all are the quality of life things.  Fewer people, friendly and really nice people, less traffic, and of course all the new friends we have made.

We have obviously made the right choice!  I highly recommend shaking up your life and trying something new. We were in a rut and didn’t know it, but knew we had to do something. I have three friends who are in the throes of figuring out what to do.  Making a change is hard.  You don’t know what you’ll find, but you may just find happiness.

I know the next year will be even better.  We will be in our apartment for a bit longer and then we are moving.  I can’t wait to see where we’ll be in a year!

You can shake it up right now with new lips for Valentine’s Day. valentine lips

You don’t have to go red.  There are other colors perfect for the day.  For instance:  Heartbreaker heartb

Let me know if you want to shake up your lips!  To see  more colors, go to my website:  http://www.lips2love.com  I’m also on Facebook at:  Stevie Sells Lipstick.  You can leave me a message there.

Going Back, Is it Possible?

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Twenty Seven and a half years ago, we bought a large neglected estate in Larkspur, Ca.  At the time it was rented to 12 rock musicians, one of whom was living in the greenhouse outside.  In spite of the black painted everything, kicked in paneling, mirrored ceilings, orange shag carpeting in the kitchen, stuffed iguana in the refrigerator and appliances from the turn of the century, we loved it!  Once you pulled back the floor to ceiling disgusting curtains there were 3 sets of sliders leading to a large veranda.  The ceilings were 20′.  It had a two story brick fireplace and the living room was huge.  Outside on the veranda, you overlooked the two story teahouse, moon gate and reflecting pool.  There was also a gazebo on the hillside.  Everything was in disrepair.  In spite of all sorts of advice not to buy it, we did.Front_Tea_House_Helo_477a[1]

The neighborhood was ecstatic!  They went from 12 rock musicians and lots of dubious activity to a couple with 2 small children.  We were instantly popular!  We spent the next 25 years restoring, maintaining, updating, gardening, you name it.  Every weekend.  We poured our hearts, souls, and lots of money into it.

In 2005 we did a big remodel.  It was supposed to be done in stages, which would have been very smart,  but all that got tossed out the window when the cabinet maker, who was in high demand, had a window where he could start our kitchen.  The kitchen was being moved from one end of the house to the other, so it was a big project.  Meanwhile our contractor had started the master bedroom.  Oh boy, pretty soon it was all happening at once!  We were, as it turned out, in over our heads.  Debt up to our eyeballs!  When 2008 hit, boom.  But oh, my kitchen… kitchen

We sold our house in 2011.  We knew that sooner or later we’d sell it as it was a maintenance nightmare.  But it was very emotional and hard!  Have you ever staged your house to sell?  Well, check your ego.  The stagers will gently let you know that you have no taste, and if your furniture were used the house would never sell, ever.  I think they used one or two of our pieces, so we had to store everything else!

2011 was the bottom of the housing market and our house, being very unique didn’t sell.  We took it off the market and a couple weeks later got a call from a realtor representing a couple from New York with 3 children who fell in love with it from afar.  They came out to see it and gave us the great compliment of saying it was even better than the pictures.  Sometimes online dating works!  They bought it.

A long story to get to the real story!  As bad as the whole experience was, the people who bought it are wonderful.  We have stayed in touch and see them when we go back to CA.  In November we got an email saying they would be out of town over Christmas and if we were coming to CA to see our kids, would we like to house sit?  Yes!

But wait.  Could we go back and actually stay there?  Would it be weird?  I am here to tell you, you can go home again.  I was nervous but it was wonderful.  They haven’t changed anything we’ve done and I felt like I had never left.  The owls are still hooting in the early mornings, and it is quiet at night.  Our son and wife and grandson came up for two days and stayed with us there.  We had a big family dinner with them, our daughter, son-in-law, the twins and his parents.  It was like old times.  That did make me a little sad.  We saw all our neighbors.  Why did it work?  I think we were free to just enjoy the place without all the responsibilities that went with it.  I have finally moved on!  It took a few years, but it now feels good.Frederic Larson

Do you think you could go back too?  Any experiences?  I’d love to hear about them!

 

A Bend Dilemma

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Who doesn’t love a dilemma?  It’s what makes the world go round, keeps you up at night, the spice of life.

Have  you been to Bend, Oregon?  We were there 25 years ago.  Then it was a small town about 30,000 people with a cute two block downtown.  On the Deschutes River, surrounded by the Three Sisters mountains and Mt Bachelor, it’s a stunning place.

We went in mid October.  Now it’s a thriving town of 85,000 people and that cute downtown has turned into an even cuter but much bigger place!  No Macys or Nordstrom here, just small unique shops, bookstores, coffee houses and lots of restaurants.

bridge over pond Bendbook store Bend

The bridge in the picture is in downtown and so is the cute bookstore on the right.

We stayed at “The Inn At 7th Mountain”, where you could walk out your door and be on miles of hiking trails along the river. walk by hoteldeschutes

But that hike was not the highlight, there was even better to come.  We had heard about Smith Rock which is a rock climbing mecca.  It was about 30 minutes out of Bend.  In my mind, I imagined a big rock with a lot of climbers on it and really wasn’t that excited about going.  There were a lot of climbers, but it was way more than a rock!

Smith rockBendWe started along the river.  There were rock climbers everywhere!climbing rock

As the trail got steeper, we stopped to look at the map and were absolutely positive we did not want to go over the top.  It was so far away and sort of scary!  There was a spot we could turn back down and that was the plan.  Then we got to it.  Going down there did not look like fun!  Just then a hiker was coming down toward us and Tom said “how much further to the top?”  “Oh, not far, just a bit further, you’re almost there.”  HA!  So our absolutely, positively, not going to the top plan, just went out the window.

steps upgetting there

That weird looking rock up there was very tiny when we started.  There were climbers on it that you couldn’t see from below, but the closer we got, the more visible they became.  Now, I am not afraid of heights.  Never been afraid on a mountain or any other high place I can remember.  Until that day!  The higher we went, the smaller the path, the smaller the earth below looked!  I had vertigo.  I could not look down.  We kept having to stop to catch our breaths.  At one point we sat under an overhang on the trail and looking out and down scared me to death!  I was wobbly when I got back up and had to just look down at the path.  If you slipped, you were going to go over the cliff and you would be a mere fond memory.

At the topclimbers on rock

made it  Pictures are supposed to be worth a thousand words, but words and pictures hardly describe this.  We were so grateful to have made it to the top alive!  Until we realized:  we had to get down!  Holy C***!  If going up was scary, going down was even worse.  Tom started down what he thought was the trail  only to have a woman seated on a big rock yell “That’s not the way down.  It’s over there.”   When he turned in the direction she pointed he saw a guy shimmying along a narrow ledge and Tom panicked thinking “We’ll never get down that way!”  Turns out the guy was trying to get to a better vantage point for a picture…Yikes!

Also, we had no hats, no sunscreen, our planning was nonexistent.  But who knew when the day began that we were going to be stupid enough to do this?  Well, you know we made it because I lived to write about it.  One of those things that you did, are not so sure you’re happy you did it, but will never do it again!

So to our dilemma:  We loved Bend.  It was unexpected.  Bend has everything we love doing.  The weather is much better than Portland’s weather.  It’s closer to CA where our adorable grandchildren live (oh and our own kids too!).  Believe it or not, housing prices are lower.  Should we move?  That is what we have been wrestling with for a few weeks now.  We have made our decision.  So what do you think?  Are we moving to Bend or are we staying in Portland?

I would love to know.

 

I started a new Facebook Page for my business.  It’s called Stevie Sells Lipstick.  If you are on FB, please visit my page and “like” me.  Also let me know if you want me to send you my Red and Purple Friday SaleThat is my version of Black Friday.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

 

The Fruit Loop

CIMG1142“You have to do The Fruit Loop.”  So said by a Oregon native.  A collection of Organic farms, orchards, and fruit stands, located outside of the town of Hood River.  So we did.  A perfect Fall October day.  We drove 60 miles to Hood River.  A very chi chi town on the Columbia River.  We stopped downtown at tourist information to get a map.  They had real estate listings on the wall.  OH MY!  California prices!   Higher than Portland and Portland is the most expensive in the State.  Hood River is a wind surfing mecca set on the Columbia River and very picturesque.  Amazing the value that can be created by windsurfing…but that means it’s very windy and it snows!

The Fruit Loop wasn’t always The Fruit Loop.  Home to many farms and orchards, the enterprising farmers got together to see how they could make it a destination.  They succeeded!  On the map we got, there were at least 20 farms listed and their specialties, along with what they offer at their stands.  Pumpkin patches, apples, jams, pies, gourds, fabulous!

applesgourds

U-Pick or U just buy.  We ended up at a pumpkin patch that was framed by Mt Adams to the north (pictured below on the right) and Mt. Hood to the south (below on the left).  There were tons of people there and they even had a corn maze which Tom insisted we go into.  The corn maze was full of kids and us.  It was really there for the kids, so it was a perfect thing for Tom.

pumpkin patchMt Adams

The Maze is on the right in this picture. (Tom was disappointed because it wasn’t really a maze.  There was a one way path cut through the corn so even I couldn’t get lost)

That’s the joy of living in a new place.  Discoveries.  Everything is new and exciting and fun.  Makes me want to move to a new City every year!

 

Do you need to find some motivation on Monday?  I know I do.  From Real Simple Magazine in the September Issue:

Slap On Some Lipstick

It doesn’t require much to slap on some lipstick.  A 2011 study found that women who wore just a touch of makeup looked more competent.  It brightens your face!  Try a classic red, which has the power to make even a so-so outfit (the kind I wear all the time), look polished.

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http://www.lips2love.com

One Perfect Day

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I didn’t plan to have a perfect day.  I don’t think anyone actually plans that.  But have one I did!

October 8th, 2014 started out gloomy in Portland.  We’d planned to go hiking and drove out to Multnomah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge.  The drive is about 40 min from where we live.  We could see the sun peeking through the clouds the closer we got.  First on the list, however, was salmon. We went past the Falls to Cascade Lockes where the Native Americans sell the salmon they caught the night before.  Only the Natives can sell the salmon in Oregon.  When we pulled up, there was only one table being set up.  We were early.  But oh, the fish!  They had a big King Salmon, about 15 lbs.  She flipped it on the table, asked how much we wanted and proceeded to filet it right there for us.  We got 4 pounds.  When I asked how much, I swooned when she said $8 a pound.  What!!  Have you ever bought wild king salmon in the grocery store?  If so, you’ll know why my heart was beating so fast.fish stand

salmon

We brought a cooler and they had ice.  The day had started perfectly.

We went back to the Falls and parked.   Multnomah Falls are 580′ high.  It’s a stunning sight.  A beautiful Fall day.  We couldn’t get a good picture of the falls height, but got a good one of the lower half.lower half of falls

We hiked up to the top of the Falls and the lookout. top of falls Looking down.  Scary!

From there we continued up, and up and up.  We ended up with an 8 mile hike and 1600 feet at the top of our hike. large rock

There were waterfalls everywhere and so much rushing water!  At various places we could see across to the Columbia river.  It was stunning!

Columbia River  So hard to do it justice!

We were pretty tired after we finished, but the day wasn’t done yet.  We went to happy hour at the Bistro Marquee with new friends.  We have finally made some friends!  We had fried chicken, salad, meatballs and to top it off, bacon cheesecake.  Bistro Marquee

I should have known it would be a perfect day as the SF Giants had beaten the Nationals on a wild pitch the night before!

It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Part of the proceeds from the sale of Kiss For A Cause LipSense go to the American Cancer Foundation.  I have it on sale this month for $20.  It’s normally $25!  All Pink LipSense colors are $2 off.

Let me know if you want one! kiss for a C

I would like to know if you have had a perfect day.  What made your day perfect?

Goat Cheese Fantasies

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I know you are all dying to hear about my goat cheese fantasies.  But, first things first.  Remember my contest from last month?  No?  Well, I had one and I have a winner to announce!  As soon as you see the picture, I am sure you will remember the contest. The winner is…

toga guy

Tassy Meundier! Her caption:  David’s cloak of many colors covers tattoo sins all done by others!  I got several entries, so had a hard time choosing.  I think you’ll agree that Tassy does capture the photo.  Thank you Tassy!

Like all goat cheese fantasies, it started with a peppered bacon BLT.  In tiny Carlton, OR which is in the farm and wine country.  What Carlton lacks in size, it more than makes up for in charm (and bacon).  We went to the wine country to visit the farms which have their own farm shops.  After lunch, we hightailed it to Carlton Farms where they go from raising the animals all the way through to the freezer cases in their store.  They butcher and process right there and if you doubt that go to their store and you can smell it!  We got peppered bacon, steaks and lamb.  And yes, you can tell the difference!

We then went to Kookoolan Farms which is smaller and happens to have Chrissie the farmer!

Chrissie the farmer

Chrissie is a dropout from the Tech Industry.  Aren’t most farmers these days dropouts from the Corporate world?  She raises chickens, vegetables, and makes her own Mead.  She gets her beef. pork and lamb from surrounding dropouts.  Like Carlton farms, the chickens are raised, butchered and sold right there on the farm.  The best part of Kookoolan farms is their little shop where once you get the tour and are told how it works, you can go to 365 days a year.  It’s not staffed!  It’s the honor system.  You go in, get what you want out of the freezers and on the shelves (olive oils, honey, etc), write up your own ticket, then put your money or check in a cardboard box!  Once Chrissie gave us the tour we went in to do some Mead tasting.

Not since the 1950’s, in downtown Blue Earth, MN have I experienced anything like the honor system.  I could pick up what I wanted and tell the shop keeper to charge it (to my parents) or take something home “on approval.”  I am experiencing the 1950’s right here in Carlton, Oregon.

I had never tasted Mead, which is wine made from honey which sounded scary to me.  We tasted sweet and semi sweet and dry meads.  It was an experience!

tasting room at kookoolan

Meanwhile, back to the fantasy.  After being in the bowels of the farm and wine country, of course we are going to move there, raise goats, make goat cheese and bake bread.  A dream come true!  Dropouts ourselves.  Then we drove back to Portland and came to our senses.

A heads up for my SeneGence customers.  SeneGence is raising prices on July 15th.  My website will reflect this rise in prices.  Prices have only been raised twice in 15 years and as ingredients get more expensive you know who the cost gets passed on to.

However!  I am personally not raising my prices until Sept 1.  Please stock up on what you need at the lower prices!

What I really want to know is how many of you ever fantasized about being a dropout?!  And what was your dropout fantasy?