Willamette Valley Wonder Woman

Thursday, March 5, 2015

A Date Night in Portland

You probably noticed on my Instagram a couple of weekends ago that Wayne and I had a date night in Portland. It seems to be that we get the opportunity to do so about two twice a year, and this date had been in the works since before Christmas.


a date night in #Portland #Oregon #pdx // @Melissakaylene

I won a gift card to The Ringside Steakhouse from my friend Marlynn over at Urban Bliss Life as part of her holiday giveaway series ( I was so excited because I rarely win anything )!  Wayne and I decided since the holidays were already a time of chaos and over commitment that we would hold on to the gift card until February, and use it as our Valentine’s celebration.

Or dear babysitter (and Friend) agreed to watch the kids overnight so we didn’t have to worry about driving home. We took off Friday morning and spent the afternoon walking up and down 23rd avenue looking at all of the fun shops – I can’t believe in all of my Portland visits I hadn't ever walked down that street before!

a date night in #Portland #Oregon #pdx // @Melissakaylene
a date night in #Portland #Oregon #pdx // @Melissakaylene
a date night in #Portland #Oregon #pdx // @Melissakaylene
a date night in #Portland #Oregon #pdx // @Melissakaylene
a date night in #Portland #Oregon #pdx // @Melissakaylene
We then checked in to our suite at the Embassy Suites – we had stayed there once before last September while we attended Feast and loved the atmosphere, the location, and the free happy hour and full breakfast offered in the morning.


a date night in #Portland #Oregon #pdx // @Melissakaylene
a date night in #Portland #Oregon #pdx // @Melissakaylene

We unpacked our bags, as well as a bottle of wine. We relaxed until about 6:30, then got ready and headed down for the happy hour where I sampled their sangria before catching a cab for our reservations at 8:00 pm.

a date night in #Portland #Oregon #pdx // @Melissakaylene

I’ve sampled some of The Ringside’s food at various events, but hadn't ever experienced dinner at the restaurant before – I did know three items I had to eat though – their famous onion rings, butternut squash soup, and a filet mignon.


a date night in #Portland #Oregon #pdx // @Melissakaylene
a date night in #Portland #Oregon #pdx // @Melissakaylene

Their onion rings were unlike any other I had tasted before – they practically melted in your mouth! I already knew the butternut squash soup was delicious, and that’s why I opted for that instead of a salad. I also tried a cocktail named “The Spirit” –which included vodka, muddled strawberries and lime. I would have had ordered another one if we hadn't ordered a bottle of wine with dinner.

a date night in #Portland #Oregon #pdx // @Melissakaylene

Wayne ordered the night’s special – an 8 oz filet mignon dry cured for 28 days, served with mashed potatoes and Brussel sprouts. He decided to add a lobster tail on as well…can you believe with all of the food events we've attended over the past couple of years that neither of us had tried lobster before?!

I decided to order a dish with two 4 oz filet mignons, one was wrapped with prosciutto and the other had a special blue cheese sauce. They were served with wilted greens and mashed potatoes.

After dinner (and wine!) we had dessert – I had a rich chocolate mousse with house made whipped cream, and Wayne had a fabulous crème brulee…oh it was so good! They were both melt-in-your-mouth-amazingness. I also stepped outside of my comfort zone and had a serving of cognac with my dessert. I had never tried it before! Have you tried cognac? What are your thoughts about it?


a date night in #Portland #Oregon #pdx // @Melissakaylene
a date night in #Portland #Oregon #pdx // @Melissakaylene
a date night in #Portland #Oregon #pdx // @Melissakaylene

After dinner we grabbed a cab back to the hotel and I fell asleep at 11:30!

We slept in until 9:30 – the walked down for a hearty breakfast, returned to the room and then proceeded to fall back asleep until 1 pm!! (We had a late check out).

I felt like a loser for sleeping so much, but I guess I needed to catch up on it. I've been fighting sinus congestion and a possible infection for a couple of weeks now, so my body has been working overtime.

We checked out and walked across the street to Stumptown Roasters and I ordered a vanilla latte and slowly sipped it outside in the sunshine.

a date night in #Portland #Oregon #pdx // @Melissakaylene
a date night in #Portland #Oregon #pdx // @Melissakaylene
Afterwards we headed back up to 23rd Ave. for one last stroll and stopped off at Trader Joe’s for a drink along the way. I checked out the Will Leathers store and coveted all of their bags. I first fell in love with them while at Feast last fall. I wanted to stop by Salt and Straw for some ice cream as well, but the line was just too long for the amount of time we had left.


a date night in #Portland #Oregon #pdx // @Melissakaylene
a date night in #Portland #Oregon #pdx // @Melissakaylene

We drove back home filling a little more rested, and ready for our next adventure.

~Melissa

Monday, March 2, 2015

M&M’s® Crispy Pancakes

 This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CrispyIsBack #CollectiveBias
How to make M&M’s® Crispy Pancakes #Crispyisback #ad #cbias

Happy Monday my friends! We returned home last night from our long weekend at the beach and I have so many wonderful photos and adventures to share with you, but first I thought I would start by sharing a fun breakfast that we often make on special occasions – fun shaped pancakes, and this time I made them with M&M’s® Crispy Snacks

How to make M&M’s® Crispy Pancakes #Crispyisback #ad #cbias
How to make M&M’s® Crispy Pancakes #Crispyisback #ad #cbias

Do you remember M&M’s ® Crispy as a kid? I honestly had completely forgotten all about them until I recently spotted them while in the checkout aisle at Walmart! They are back for the next generation of kids to fall in love with too! I grabbed a few of the sharing sized bags – a couple to use in our special breakfast and a couple for snacking on the road. They are only 180 calories per serving too in the individual snack sized bags. J

How to make M&M’s® Crispy Pancakes #Crispyisback #ad #cbias
How to make M&M’s® Crispy Pancakes #Crispyisback #ad #cbias

When I was a kid there was one special breakfast on Saturday mornings that I will always remember – my Dad’s pancakes. He would get up, fix them, and make them into fun shapes like our initials, and as a kid a pancake always seemed to taste better if it looked like an “M”.

My dad also has had the opportunity to pass the tradition down to my kids, and when we would go on vacations he would make them their own special pancakes – though this time he had to one-up it and began adding treats like M&M’s®   inside.

How to make M&M’s® Crispy Pancakes #Crispyisback #ad #cbias
How to make M&M’s® Crispy Pancakes #Crispyisback #ad #cbias

While I was so excited that the 5 of us were getting away for the weekend, I was a little sad because it reminded me of the fun week vacations that we were blessed to have spent with my Dad in his timeshares. Unfortunately his current situation isn't allowing room for family vacations, and last year was the first time in four years that we didn’t go on one together. I feel bad that I can’t help him as much as I’d like too. Hopefully someday soon we can build more fun memories together.

So, on this mini vacation it was up to me to uphold the honored tradition, and it didn’t do too badly of a job. I used an old recipe from my Mom’s handwritten recipe book and then added our delicious secret ingredient.

I think my dad will be proud. J

M&M’s® Crispy Pancakes

Ingredients:
1 ¼ cups of flour
½ teaspoon of salt
1 Tablespoon of baking powder
1 Tablespoon of sugar
1 beaten egg
1 cup of milk (can substitute for water if desired)
2 Tablespoons of oil
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 package of the sharing size M&M’s® Crispy Snacks (plus more for snacking and topping!)

Mix all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl, and all of the liquid ingredients together in a separate bowl. Slowly mix the two together and pour onto a greased pan over medium heat. Flip pancakes over when the top is covered with bubbles and the edges are slightly brown.

To make shapes you can create them two different ways. Free hand them (like my dad does) by carefully pouring the pancake batter into the shapes you desire, or you can cheat like I did, and cook large pancakes and then cut them into the shapes you like after they are cooked. Obviously the first way is way more impressive to the kids, but either way is a special way to serve them!

How to make M&M’s® Crispy Pancakes #Crispyisback #ad #cbias
How to make M&M’s® Crispy Pancakes #Crispyisback #ad #cbias
How to make M&M’s® Crispy Pancakes #Crispyisback #ad #cbias

The M&M’s® Crispy add a tasty little crunch to the pancakes! You can use the sharing size or just break down and buy the large back in the candy aisle. J

You can also see more great M&M's® Crispy recipe and party ideas on the M&M's® Crispy social hub!

Do you have any special traditions as a child that you pass down to your kids?


~Melissa

Friday, February 27, 2015

Big Hero 6 Baymax Candy Necklaces

 This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BigHero6MovieNight #CollectiveBias
Big Hero 6 / DIY Baymax Candy Necklaces #BigHero6MovieNight #ad @Target

Tonight I’m sitting on a cozy bed with the sound of the ocean roaring outside. We drove down to Lincoln City this afternoon for an extended family weekend, but we really began our weekend last night at home – watching one of the kids’ newest favorite movies – Big Hero 6!

We first saw Big Hero 6 when it was in theaters a couple of months ago, and then I purchased it a couple of days ago at Target when it was released on DVD. The kids’ were really excited because they know what’s included when we have a movie night – snacks and goodies! 

Big Hero 6 / DIY Baymax Candy Necklaces #BigHero6MovieNight #ad @Target
Big Hero 6 / DIY Baymax Candy Necklaces #BigHero6MovieNight #ad @Target

We normally stick to our usual snacks, but I thought that for Big Hero 6 we could have a couple of treats that fit in with the movies theme, so when I was shopping I stocked up on some things that the kids could use to make their own candy necklaces to munch on during the movie.

I bought a variety of candies that would be easy to add onto string, and I purchased some marshmallows and melting chocolate as well. 

Big Hero 6 / DIY Baymax Candy Necklaces #BigHero6MovieNight #ad @Target
Big Hero 6 / DIY Baymax Candy Necklaces #BigHero6MovieNight #ad @Target

 I wanted to make Baymax faces as pendants for the necklaces, and so I sliced a large marshmallow in half and lined them onto a cookie sheet. Then I melted some chocolate and piped Baymax face onto each marshmallow and let them dry.

Big Hero 6 / DIY Baymax Candy Necklaces #BigHero6MovieNight #ad @Target
Big Hero 6 / DIY Baymax Candy Necklaces #BigHero6MovieNight #ad @Target
Big Hero 6 / DIY Baymax Candy Necklaces #BigHero6MovieNight #ad @Target

 The kids then took some string and tied it onto some toothpicks and layered the candy in whatever pattern they wanted too, adding the marshmallow pendant halfway.

We made several necklaces and the kids had a lot of fun – it was a fun activity that made our movie night a little more special.

Big Hero 6 / DIY Baymax Candy Necklaces #BigHero6MovieNight #ad @Target
Big Hero 6 / DIY Baymax Candy Necklaces #BigHero6MovieNight #ad @Target
Big Hero 6 / DIY Baymax Candy Necklaces #BigHero6MovieNight #ad @Target
Big Hero 6 / DIY Baymax Candy Necklaces #BigHero6MovieNight #ad @Target
Big Hero 6 / DIY Baymax Candy Necklaces #BigHero6MovieNight #ad @Target

 I also made some simple Baymax cracker snacks – I spread some chive cream cheese on whole wheat crackers and then sliced olives to create the Baymax face. They were quickly devoured.

Big Hero 6 / DIY Baymax Candy Necklaces #BigHero6MovieNight #ad @Target
Big Hero 6 / DIY Baymax Candy Necklaces #BigHero6MovieNight #ad @Target
Big Hero 6 / DIY Baymax Candy Necklaces #BigHero6MovieNight #ad @Target
Big Hero 6 / DIY Baymax Candy Necklaces #BigHero6MovieNight #ad @Target
Big Hero 6 / DIY Baymax Candy Necklaces #BigHero6MovieNight #ad @Target
Big Hero 6 / DIY Baymax Candy Necklaces #BigHero6MovieNight #ad @Target

Have you had a chance to watch Big Hero 6 yet? If not you should pick up a copy at Target (in the entertainment section) – it’s a good family movie that is becoming one of our family favorites!

Big Hero 6 / DIY Baymax Candy Necklaces #BigHero6MovieNight #ad @Target

Do you make any special snacks or crafts when you have a movie night? I’d love to hear about them!

~Melissa

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Is it Time to Give Your Bathroom an Affordable New Look?

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FoamSensations #CollectiveBias
Is it time to give your bathroom an affordable new look? #foamsensations #ad #cbias

I’m going to try not to gloat when I talk about how beautiful our weather has been this last week, because I know in most parts of the country it’s been very cold and snowy – but it has been so wonderful to have sunshine and 64 degree weather – I’m going to miss it when it’s gone and the grey sky and rains return!

The sunshine makes me long for spring and when I think of spring I think of cleaning and updating around the house. I actually started an affordable little project back in January but got super busy and didn’t get it finished until yesterday!



You see, I've been contemplating painting our main bathroom for years now, it was painted a dark purple color by the previous owners and like most things that happen when you are raising young children – it gets put off for a while. Honestly the entire house needs an update – it’s got all of the ‘fabulous’ (I say this with a touch of sarcasm) red oak stain and brassy colored fixtures that were made famous in the 90’s. Painting though, is one of the easiest and cheapest things to do to update a room, so I finally did it!

Is it time to give your bathroom an affordable new look? #foamsensations #ad #cbias

I wanted to keep the room with a purple hue, as our rug and shower curtains could then still match, and also because the kids didn't really like the idea of getting rid of the purple altogether. I originally bought a very light purple but didn't think (or realize) that I needed to make sure it had a grey undertone, and after painting the entire bathroom I realized that it looked very, very pink, and that wasn't the look I was going for, so I ran back to the store and purchased a very pale colored purple with a cool grey undertone, and learned my lesson about warm and cool colors!

Finally, I was pleased!

I've also purchased some tile that I would love to install someday soon – the bathroom has had this hideous linoleum and I think a nice neutral roman tile will make the room look so much nicer. The cabinets I plan on staining a walnut color and I've been practicing on the towel rack and toothbrush holders so I don’t mess anything important up on the big project!

Is it time to give your bathroom an affordable new look? #foamsensations #ad #cbias

Hopefully I’ll get it all done soon and will have one updated room in the house. I've already begun stocking up on new baskets for towels and fun new hand soaps as well to update the room a little more. I found these new Foam Sensations from Softsoap at Walmart last week and love how they look on the counter – and feel on my hardworking hands. They are nice and moisturizing and come in Whipped Cocoa butter, a Jasmine and White Cotton and a Kitchen Citrus Bliss (which is a perfect scent for the kitchen sink!)

Is it time to give your bathroom an affordable new look? #foamsensations #ad #cbias

Is it time to give your bathroom an affordable new look? Here are four easy ideas on how you can do this:

Is it time to give your bathroom an affordable new look? #foamsensations #ad #cbias

1. Update the paint - you can change the color, like I did, or just repaint the same color to brighten it up and give it a fresh new look.

Is it time to give your bathroom an affordable new look? #foamsensations #ad #cbias

2. Change out your old soap - new Softsoap Liquid Foaming hand soaps are a fun soap with an clean look that smell amazing, and freshens up your sink (goodbye old bar soaps!)

3. Find some new accessories - things like shower curtains, rugs, and candles can completely change the look and feel of your bathroom.

Is it time to give your bathroom an affordable new look? #foamsensations #ad #cbias

4. Flooring and staining - if you have a little extra time and money on your hands you can easily update the bathroom with new flooring and by re-staining the cabinets which can completely change the way your bathroom feels!

Have you wanted to paint and/or update your bathroom? Which of the three new Softsoap Liquid Foaming Hand Soap scents would go great on your sink?


~Melissa