Thursday, April 17, 2014

Create.Simplify.Inspire. #64

This week has been eventful, that's for sure. The facility I work at is in the process of moving to a new building - not a common task for an acute care facility. I've also been working on the kid's grade school Family Fun Fair which is happening May 9th. Being the PTSO President I'm kind of sort of in charge of everything. Let's just say its been a tad overwhelming this week. Tomorrow I plan on finally taking the day and relaxing with the kids and coloring our Easter eggs together. I'd love to see what amazing things you've been up to this week though! 

This link up to to share anything and everything that inspires you, or that you've created. 

           ~Melissa
 
Create.Simplify.Inspire. #64


Willamette Valley Wonder Woman
  
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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Plan a Poker Night Together

“This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Scandinavian Tobacco Group Lane, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #CuberoLuxury http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV
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As you know by now, I firmly believe that life should be celebrated on a regular basis. Whether it is a big party or an intimate evening for two - day to day life should never go unacknowledged. 

I try to have a date night in every so often because it's an important thing to do. Occasionally we will have a couples date night too, where we invite two of our friends over for the evening. It doesn't happen very often, but when it does I always try and plan the evening out. Sometimes we will all make a meal together or watch a funny movie and catch up on everyone's life, but sometimes I like to change it up a bit - so we did a game and poker night last week! My husband thought I was slightly crazy as I lit candles for a poker night - but I wanted to mesh the best of both worlds! Cubero Cigars and beer for him - wine and candles for me!

As with all gatherings, I always have a plan - even if it's just loosely followed. These are a few things I always think of beforehand:

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1. How big is the get together going to be? Is it a date night for two, or a party of ten? I figure out who I'm going to invite, taking in mind friends personalities if it's a smaller intimate evening. For last minute shindigs a simple phone call, text, or email will do. 

2. Decide on colors. Obviously for a poker nights black, red and green are the most common color choices - but you could always change it up a bit if you want. I would recommend keeping it to 3 colors or less.

3. What's the menu? Am I going to cook a meal first? Am I going to make appetizers, or keep it simple with chips and dip? If the evening is put together really last minute I'll usually set out some spreadable cheeses and crackers along with some olives and nuts - things that we usually always have on hand at our house. Even if I am making dinner first, I always have finger foods available to nibble on throughout the evening.

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4. The extras - I've got the friends, the food, and the decorations, but I don't like to forget about the other small touches that make a poker night authentic - such as my husband and friends favorite beverages and cigars (I like to buy the Cubero Cigars that can be found at Walmart) because what's a poker night without them, right? I also made funny little "Poker Face" props for the evening simply by cutting out black card stock and taping it to 3/8" dowels. When you plan your poker night you could also consider take home gifts or prizes to the winners if you aren't playing "for real".

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No matter how big or small a gathering is that I have, I want to make it memorable - so the last thing I always do it take photographs of it all. 

Are you a poker pro? What tips do you have for this newbie? ;)
~Melissa

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

7 Things To Do In Seattle

7 things to do in Seattle

First off, I'm really sad to say that I've only visited this amazing city twice now, and I only live four hours away, but then again I only began exploring Portland recently too. Both times I have gone to Seattle it has been a quick whirlwind trip with never enough time to check everything off of my 'must-do' list...but slowly I'll get there. 

Since I began writing this blog my goal was to celebrate life - whether that is through family events, traveling adventures, or mouthwatering meals. Life is meant to be lived and explored, so I encourage you to explore your own town if you can travel, cook some amazing meals of your own if you can't afford to go out, and have fun. 

Here are the top seven things that I had on my list to cross off in Seattle - if you know the city and have other suggestions I'd love your feedback in the comments. 


1. The Space Needle - This was the first thing I had to do, because The Space Needle is pretty much synonymous with Seattle, isn't it? It's kind of spendy, and we had to wait in line for quite a while - but the views were gorgeous. If you have lots of time and money I'd suggest eating dinner or lunch at the top. I personally won't take my kids until they are a little bit older, but that's just me. Oh, and I made sure I went on a sunny day :)


2.  Pike Place Market - The Pike Place Fish Market is a fabulous gem in Seattle. On a sunny day you can overlook the water and walk along the many little shops where you will find something that you just can't live without. I saw some of the most vibrant colors at the market - the biggest variety of flowers and perfectly displayed fruit and vegetables. To see more pictures you can look at my visit to the market HERE.


3. Ride The Ducks: If you want to be a real tourist I've hear the Ride The Ducks tour is the way to go! It's a 90 minute tour of the city that looks like a fun time for the whole family, and for the last 30 minutes of the tour your drive off into the water! I think my kids would definitely get a kick out of this.

4. Underground Tour: I haven't been on the Underground Tour yet, so I'm not all sure that it would live up to everyone's expectations. I went to the underground tour in Pendleton, Oregon many years ago and it was a fun thing to do...once. It's probably a great way to learn some of Seattle's history, and one of those things to go and check out.

5. Tom Douglas Restaurant: I don't know how I've managed to go to Seattle and NOT visit a Tom Douglas restaurant! He is pretty much the king of restaurateurs in Seattle and has some amazing places to feast at like the Dahlia Lounge and Lola restaurant. I was lucky enough to attend a cooking presentation with Tom Douglas last fall from the Macy's Culinary Council and had a fabulous time learning tips from him though! Next time I will go to one of his restaurants!


6. Seattle Great Wheel- There is nothing more nostalgic that riding a Ferris Wheel. It brings back fond memories of childhood summers when times were simpler and days were longer. The Seattle Great Wheel sits right along the bay and is open year round. According to its website it is the largest observation wheel on the west coast, standing 175 feet tall. This too is one thing that I still need to cross off my Seattle bucket list!

7. The Original Starbucks- Low and behold, the one that started it all. The original Starbucks is located in the Pike Place Market in the heart of Seattle. I have yet to step inside of the building that became the largest coffee sensation to date, but I did stroll past it last time I was up there (the line was too long!)  At least stand in front and get a selfie in front of the one and only. :)


Any other Seattle suggestions? I'd love to hear them!
~Melissa

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Create.Simplify.Inspire. #63

Every Wednesday night I go to write this post and am amazed at how quickly the week has flown by! This morning I had exactly 72 minutes to myself in between dropping off and picking up kids. Normally I will run to the gym, grocery store, or do chores around the house..but today I took an extra moment for myself. I sat down, enjoyed the morning sun and drank my coffee. (Photo HERE via Instagram). I need to remember to take more moments like that when the opportunity arises. 

What do you do for yourself when you find an extra hour of freedom?

This link up to to share anything and everything that inspires you, or that you've created. 

           ~Melissa
 
Create.Simplify.Inspire. #63


Willamette Valley Wonder Woman
  
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Monday, April 7, 2014

Taste of The Nation Portland

Photo credit: Allison Jones via
I love my children, and I couldn't imagine what I would do if I wasn't able to provide enough food for them. Even though we've been through financial ups and downs I am blessed that my family has never had to face that question before, but many parents do. According to the Oregon Food Bank one in five Oregonians are worried about feeding their families - one in five. Whenever I go into my kid's school I look around and wonder if their classmates are getting the nutrition their body's need. My heart aches for children that have no control of their situations, and for the parents who struggle to do their best but just can't make ends meet.

Taste of The Nation is a beautiful culinary event that has been happening in Portland for the past 27 years, where the culinary community gather together to raise money to fight child hunger. Dishes are prepared with the theme, "What My Family Ate", and the event takes place at the McMenamins Crystal Ballroom April 29th.

Photo via
100 percent of ticket sales for the event go towards ending child hunger. Some of the local beneficiaries include the Oregon Food Bank, St. Vincent DePaul Society, Partners for a Hunger Free Oregon and Klamath/Lake Counties Food Bank. 

Photo Credit: Erik Chan via
What a better way to support a wonderful cause as well as spending the evening tasting food and sipping drinks from some of Portland's finest establishments! I wouldn't miss the event for anything.

If you would like to learn more about this event, check out the Taste of The Nation website, as well as No Child Hungry. You can also listen live tomorrow (Wednesday April 9th) to hear an Internet web interview with the event marquee chef Sarah Schafer of Irving Kitchen.

Photo Credit: Erik Chan via

Details
  •  Where: McMenamins Crystal Ballroom in Portland, Oregon
  • When: April 29th, 6:30-9:00 (general admission $85) 5:30-9:00 (VIP $150)
  • To Purchase Tickets Click Here.

Photo Credit: Erik Chan via

Hope to meet you there!

~Melissa