Postponing plans due to the weekend winter wonderland

Unfortunately, the PDX Collective Sale I talked about in my last post has been postponed due to wintry weather. I can still see a nice thick blanket of snow outside my window.

via Nordstrom
via Nordstrom

The PDX Collective Sale is off, I did do a little online shopping this week. I’ve been eyeing this red lucky brand sweater for a while and waited for it to go on sale. Nordstrom has it for $35 (down from $120!!). The reason this sweater hasn’t been selling well in any of its retailers I think is because it’s sized funny.

I actually bought this sweater from Macy’s first in a size medium, but I returned it because it just swallowed me up. There was way too much fabric and the length was not attractive (I’m just about 5’5”). I ended up going with an extra-small at Nordstrom to get the look that I wanted and that I’ve seen on the models. Cute sweater, but you definitely have to size down.

The Nordstrom closest to my house is actually closing. I can’t say that I’m totally surprised, but I will miss going there during the semi-annual sales to get jeans.

Anyway, I’m still a bit sick with a sore throat and a stuffy nose. I started reading Various Positions to keep me occupied. If I finish that this weekend, I might move onto The Descendants. I really liked the movie version with George Clooney.

Retail therapy at PDX Collective Sale

After a hectic few days at work, I’m already aching for the weekend. In two days, there have been two workplace shootings that turned into national stories and I had a big project due Tuesday night.

Today, I’m home sick with a sore throat, but I’m determined to not let it ruin my first full two-day weekend in a while.


I came across this sale that happens once or twice a year in Portland. A bunch of the city’s boutiques get together in one place and discount all of their merchandise. It’s called PDX Collective Sale and it runs this weekend at the Ace Hotel.

There are some great boutiques in Portland, though many are outside of my price range. I’m hoping the great deals they’re touting really are great deals. (Not like, ‘hey! This is $200 instead of $450!’) For the most part, I like boutiques. If the buyer has good taste in clothing and knows how to pick out high-quality fabrics, you can find some nice pieces that you won’t see in big box stores. Typically, boutiques are more expensive, but I’ve occasionally scored deals at boutiques that were way better than their retail counterparts.

Anyway, I haven’t gone before, so why not? It sounds like a good time.

Have you seen Short Term 12?

It’s fantastic. Short Term 12 is about a woman, Grace, who works with her boyfriend at a short-term care facility for troubled youth. A new girl enters the facility whose problems remind Grace of her own troubled past. The film has you not only pulling for the main characters but the supporting roles, as well. It’s both heart-wrenching and uplifting.

Movie poster via wikipedia
Movie poster via wikipedia

The story hearkened back to my time working at a camp for people with disabilities, so I kind of saw where the characters were coming from. The work is tough but rewarding. When you come across someone you really connect with, you just want to hug away all their problems and anxieties.

I left the theater determined to someday adopt a child. I’m not even kidding. I hopped right on my computer when I got home and started googling how to go about doing that. The film left me in such a fury to do something and help someone!

The Camas Liberty Theatre in the next town over was showing the film as part of its independent film festival. I saw two other films, but Short Term 12 was hands down my festival favorite.

The only problem with my experience was when the film first started and the audio didn’t match the movie. There was some jazzy song playing instead of the film’s audio track, and I got really confused. I once saw an offbeat film in Chicago that didn’t make a lick of sense, so at first I thought this was some new age film experience where we would see the actors act out scenes to kooky music. But, it was fixed and they restarted the film.

I also saw The Selfish Giant with my boyfriend, which we both agreed was a very well done and very unhappy movie. Not trying to give anything away here, but nothing good happens. Nothing. The other film we saw this last weekend, Sweet Dreams, is a documentary about women in a Rwandan drumming circle who open an ice cream shop. I loved the drumming and the healing message behind the film, but I thought the story was a little disjointed. It didn’t explain how the idea came about; the drum circle leader met two women who own an ice cream shop in Brooklyn, but how did they meet? Where exactly was the shop? They don’t say.

The festival was a great excuse to explore downtown Camas, and the theater there makes for a cheap date night. Showings are just $4 (the films are ones that have already been in the major theaters). We also checked out a local pizza place and an upscale Mexican restaurant.

I think I’ll return to Camas when the Liberty shows Philomena.

Planning a road trip to the San Juan Islands got a bit out of hand

Last year, for my birthday in August, my boyfriend surprised me with a three-day trip to Alderbrook Resort in Union, Wash.

Ok, so you can't see the Olympic Mountains at this angle and it's a smidge cloudy, but look how happy I am!
Ok, so you can’t see the Olympic Mountains at this angle and it’s a smidge cloudy, but look how happy I am!

We went stand-up paddleboarding in the Hood Canal while sea lions swam around our boards. We painted under the veranda. We ate the best omelets I’ve ever had for breakfast. It was relaxing and romantic and fun. I felt absolutely spoiled. While I was there, I would laze in a lawn chair and look out at Hood Canal and the Olympic Mountains. I couldn’t help but think, ‘I want to go there.’

There’s a surprising amount of my home state (including the Olympic mountain range) that I haven’t been to.

For a while now, I’ve been daydreaming about visiting the San Juan Islands when my birthday rolls around again. I would go kayaking and catch glimpses of orca whales, maybe even bike around the island and go ziplining!

So, I was playing around with a route to get there. I added a sidetrip to Jetty Island to break up the driving, and then I figured if I’m going to the San Juan Islands, I might as well head over to Victoria, B.C…and, well, this happened:

The ultimate August birthday trip around Washington
The ultimate August birthday trip around Washington

As you can see, the route is shaped like a wonky ampersand, as though it’s trying to tell me to add more destinations. Jetty Island, San Juan Island…and?

Let me explain the rough itinerary I’ve mapped out here.

1. Jetty Island Park in Everett, Wash.:  This is a fantastic sandy beach in Everett that would make a perfect picnic spot while heading up north. In August, you’re guaranteed to have kiteboarders playing in the water, practicing amazing tricks. There’s a $3 fee for parking at Jetty Landing.

Checking out the kiteboarding competition a few years back for an article. Note the sunburn beginning to develop. Sunscreen is crucial on Jetty.
Checking out the kiteboarding competition a few years back for an article. Note the sunburn beginning to develop. Sunscreen is crucial on Jetty.

2. Anacortes, Wash.: This is the jumping off point for the ferry to the San Juan Islands. If you take an early lunch at Jetty Island, you might catch the tailend of the Saturday market. Otherwise, you could walk the Old Town area and around the marina. Deception Pass State Park is very popular and scenic. I stopped to check out the bridge once on my way to Whidbey Island with a group of friends. You could either stay the night in Anacortes or take the ferry straight to the San Juan Islands.

3. Friday Harbor, Wash.: Friday Harbor is the main hub on San Juan Island, the most populated of the islands. Like I mentioned earlier, you can go whale watching, kayaking, biking, hiking, etc. This place, however, is known for its slower island vibe. So you could just take in the scenery and relax. Hotels can be a bit expensive here; I may opt to go camping somewhere else along the main island.

4. Victoria, B.C.: From the Friday Harbor ferry terminal, you can hop over to Sidney, Canada and drive a bit south to get to Victoria. The best way I remember experiencing Victoria as a kid is on foot. It’s a pretty pedestrian friendly city, and if you’re staying at a hotel, you could just ditch your car there. Right by the ferry terminal, you’ll stumble upon a farmer’s market. From there, you can see gardens, castles and the beautiful parliament buildingIf you like shopping, Market Square is a historic area littered with boutiques. And, this is all within walking distance. I honestly might get a little confused if I tried to drive around there. Then again, that depends on how much of Victoria you want to explore.

Victoria B.C. via
Victoria B.C. via

5. Port Angeles, Wash.: Like Anacortes, Port Angeles is a cute little ferry terminal town. If you get off the ferry early in the day, you could go to the farmer’s market. If you get off the ferry in the evening, you might catch the summer concerts on the pier. I’m thinking this would be a good spot to catch your breath before the next spot.

6. The Enchantments in the Wenatchee/Leavenworth area: The Enchantment Lakes area is a backpacker’s delight. It takes a while to hike in, but it’s well worth it. The Enchantments is a high alpine basin full of lakes, mountain goats and granite rock formations in the Cascade Mountains. If you’re lucky enough to get a permit, you can explore the area, take some stunning photographs and go swimming (not sure how warm the water is).

The Enchantments via
The Enchantments via

7. Leavenworth, Wash.: Not too far from the Wenatchee National Forest is a Bavarian Village. Yes, Bavarian. There’s a summer theater group that performs “The Sound of Music” among other plays and there are festivals and lots of community activities going on year round. Hotels can be a bit expensive, so I would only stay one night here.

8. Mount Rainier National Forest: Within the forest is a massive volcano, gorgeous old growth and wildflowers. That’s all you really need to know about camping in this area.

Ok, my plan is a little ambitious. It would require, at minimum, an entire week off of work to complete the trip. August really is a perfect month to visit Washington, though, because it’s within the state’s short time frame of sunny, warm weather.

The joys of journalism

Let me preface this post by saying that the title is not sarcasm. There is a lot of joy in journalism, but it’s often a kind of joy that’s not given. You have to make it yourself.

Journalism inevitably comes with criticism. No matter how fair, how balanced, how mild a story, someone will be peeved. These are truths of the trade.

I wrote an innocent little weather story last week about strong winds the area was experiencing. And of course windy weather + trees + powerlines = power outages. You can probably guess the story’s content.

Today, I walked into the newsroom to find this gem on my desk. It’s from a reader named James who apparently writes to the sports section often.

A piece of my fanmail

If you can’t tell from the photo, he apparently used a typewriter to write me this message: “There is no such word as OUTAGE many years ago there was a huge power FAILURE The edlectric company called that an ‘outage’ No one know what outage means, so they didn’t know there was a POWER FAILRE FAILURE Never again use OUTAGE ”

It’s written on the back of a card with a nativity scene. Because, folks, Jesus wouldn’t use the word ‘outage.’  If the Star of Bethlehem had gone out, the holy scripture most certainly would have called it a star failureLet’s be honest.

Note, the hilariously inappropriate (and misspelled) sticker on the nativity scene that reads: “Goundhog day is National Chess Day Mate someone that day!”

Uh, what are you trying to say James?

Unfortunately, the dictionary wins out on this one, making outage a word that means a period of time when there is no electricity in a building or area. Which is basically what I was writing about.

Thank you, James, for your honest feedback. Next time there is a power failure, I’ll be sure to keep you in mind.

Thrift shopping treasures

Do you ever go thrift shopping? Thrift store finds are my favorite way to decorate. You can find all these neat trinkets and vases and paintings for not a lot of money. It’s a nice change of pace from what you find at the big box stores. (Don’t get me wrong! I find plenty of useful home goods at those stores.)

Every once in a while I get a “thrift sense”. It’s like a little voice in my head that says ‘Go to the thrift store. Now.’

I had one of those moments this morning and went to a store that’s just a few minutes drive from my house. It’s my favorite thrift shop because the prices are really fair, it’s easy to navigate and it benefits the Humane Society of Southwest Washington. (The slogan for their stores should be ‘find a treasure, feed a puppy.’)

They’re moving, so I happened to catch them on a day when all of their merchandise was being sold per pound. As in, 25 cents per pound. Crazy deals! Home decor homerun!

Love, love, love cheap home decor.
Love, love, love cheap home decor.

So, I spent a whopping $2.85 on all the things I found: a watercolor painting, salt and pepper shakers, three matching canisters, a decorative vase, a handmade bowl, a tea kettle and some plastic hangers. Yep. For less than the price of a fancy espresso drink, I redecorated my apartment.

This might sound a little crazy (maybe I’m still buzzing from the good deals), but I think in a way thrift shopping can be empowering. If you look around and know how to select quality items, you can get really nice stuff for not a lot of money. Just goes to show you that you don’t have to be rich to have a rich life or to have nice things. (But, you do have to have time and patience, so there’s that caveat.)