J Crew Factory Chevron-Striped Dress

10-Item Wardrobe Prep: Summer 2017

Hey everyone! Hope you had a wonderful weekend. I was busy podcasting and doing load upon load upon load of laundry, while enduring 100-degree weather. Oh Portland, why do you go from rain to trying to kill me in June?

But! I’ve also been putting the finishing touches on this year’s Summer 10-Item Wardrobe, which means I had to go through last year’s to evaluate the condition and usefulness of each piece. Join me and see who lives . . . and who goes to Goodwill.

10 item wardrobe

Fisherman’s wool sweater, vintage.

Oh, this sweater. I really loved it. I’m also glad I got it for about $40 on Etsy, because this sweater is full of holes. I noticed a couple right after I received it and tied them off, but I keep finding them, and it really is super bulky and heavy and warm, and I just can’t make it work. Boo.

10 item wardrobe

J Crew Factory jeans.

These jeans are pretty great, but have I mentioned it is super hot this summer? These jeans will go bye-bye until next spring.

10-Item Wardrobe

Gap cropped white jeans.

Same for these babies.

10-Item Wardrobe

J Crew Factory striped dress. I love this dress. I wore it until I was eight months pregnant last year and it still looks great.

I loved this dress so hard. I bought it in 2012 and wore it before, during, and after my pregnancy, but the neckline started to unravel, and it is gone.

10-Item Wardrobe

Floral dress, made by me maybe five or six years ago? Pattern by Amy Butler.

This dress will liiiiiiiive foreverrrr (™ Queen) and I am keeping it.

10-Item Wardrobe

J Crew Factory chambray shirt.

This shirt! I also bought this five years ago and wore it over and over again, but the underarms finally got discolored and I had to donate it. Geez, will I have any clothes left?

FullSizeRender 27

J. Crew Factory striped short-sleeve shirt.

A keeper! Whew. I just got this last year, and so far it’s just as durable as its long-sleeved counterpart. I am pleased.

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J. Crew Factory 5″ chino shorts.

So this kind of sucks, but I’m sharing. I was one size in J. Crew Factory before my pregnancy, and I was one size smaller after my pregnancy. I knew it wouldn’t last. I resisted buying new clothes! But I did. And now–I’m back to my original size, and these give me camel toe, and I may keep them in reserve in case I get food poisoning or something but . . . gone.

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J. Crew Factory 5″ chino shorts.

Ditto! Buh-bye.

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J. Crew Factory striped dress.

I still love this dress, but I do not wear it often enough for it to be part of my 10-Item Wardrobe. It’s been kicked up to special occasion wear, because Portland is hella casual.

Uhhhh . . . so I’m only keeping two out of my 10 items! Fortunately, I did save some older shorts, and I do rotate things in and out of my wardrobes, so I didn’t have to buy all new things. You’ll have to wait until my next fashion post to see this season’s wardrobe (the suspense!), but I can show you the one piece that’s pulling it all together!

IMG_1727

Merona pink cotton cardigan.

It’s wrinkly in the picture (I’ll take a better one later) and I got it for free at my friend Melissa’s Naked Lady Party (a clothes swap, don’t be scandalized), but I really love this sweater! I originally picked it to wear (as Audrey) at our Twin Peaks brunch, but it’s perfect for summer: lightweight, a great color, and a flattering fit.

Stay tuned, true believers! I should post my full Summer 2017 10-Item Wardrobe Wednesday . . . if I can get all this laundry done!

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Last Gasp of Summer

summer vacation Slurpees

Slurpees yesterday before we went to the pool–proof that we had fun (and sugar).

It’s the last day of summer, and I’ve been struggling holding back tears all week because I am that mom/stepmom/nanny (seriously, I cried when I was 19 and my 6-year-old charge went off to first grade–sorry Allie). Yes, Sid is entering middle school, and I am gripped by panic and guilt.

Did I use our summer productively? Did we have enough fun? Did I enrich Sid and Sarah’s lives and brains with culture, and challenges, and new experiences? Well . . . if watching Bob’s Burgers counts, the answer is a resounding yes.

summer canteloupes

All that work for two . . . two canteloupes that smelled better than they tasted. The anticlimactic flavor of summer (don’t even ask about the tomatoes).

In all seriousness, yes, we went to the zoo and on vacation, and swimming, and to the library every week for Tiny Tots. Sarah and Sid completed their summer reading challenges today (Sid read a lot of Archie). We watered the garden (occasionally) and made a ginger bug to make our own lemonade soda (turns out Sid does not like the taste of ginger), but mostly, it just feels like summer went by too quickly. Sid had at least five weeks of summer camps, and a huge chunk of my day is still taken up with Sarah’s naps and freelance projects (one big reason this blog has been slow).

But this summer is over, and we have a limited number of summers, and really, we might not have one like this again. Sid is 11, he needs less supervision and wants more independence, and that is a natural thing, a great thing. But man–right now I just want to capture this summer and keep it, fill the last few hours with everything wonderful and lovely and memorable and special.

I think this means more Slurpees.

Last Gasp of Summer: Free Things to Do in Portland

Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden at Grant Park

The Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden at Grant Park in Portland. How have I never been here?!? From left: Ribsy, Ramona, and Henry.

I don’t mean to stress you out, but there’s only four more weeks of summer. Summer vacation, that is. At least, school starts for Sid August 29 (what the heck happened to school beginning after Labor Day?) and with our final weeks flashing before my eyes, I realized I needed to make a list. Of course. So here’s my curated list of free things to do in Portland this August.

Fountains

On a hot summer day, there’s nothing better than getting blasted by Portland’s fountains! This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I think the best ones are here:

Downtown Portland

Salmon Street Springs
Waterfront Park, Naito Parkway at SW Salmon
The classic. Large, right on the waterfront, plenty of firepower (waterpower?).

SalmonSprings

Sid and his friend Ernie enjoying Salmon Springs Fountain last summer!

Ira Keller Forecourt Fountain
Keller Fountain Park, between SW 3rd & 4th Ave, Market & Clay
The large concrete structures make this a fun one. I got in trouble in the third grade on a Bible study field trip by walking through one of the waterfalls, fully clothed. In retrospect, I would have been in much more trouble if I had been naked, right?

Teachers Fountain
Director Park, SW Yamhill & Park Ave
This is a new park and fountain. Not a lot of excitement, but great for toddlers and small children. Also good for foot soaking. Near Nordstrom.

SE Portland

The Rose Petal
Stark Street Island Park, SE 106th & Stark
I have never been here, and I cannot help but wonder what SE Portland did to be denied any close-in fountains. Am I missing something?

NE Portland

Grant Park Fountain
NE 33rd Ave & US Grant Pl
This is also the location of the Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden–and they’re part of the fountain! I will be going here immediately.

Holladay Park Fountain
Holladay Park, NE 11th & Multnomah
I have not personally been here, but the Portland Parks & Recreation site says, “The fountain has programmable nozzles and valves on several plumbing loops to create a playful atmosphere of surprise trajectories and timing sequences.”

Woodlawn City Park
NE 13th Ave & Dekum St
I played at this park with Sid during the first year of Trek in the Park (in 2009!). Four-year-old Sid highly recommended the water feature.

NW Portland

Jamison Square Fountain
Jamison Square, between NW Kearney & Johnson, and NW 10th & 11th Avenues
Extremely popular, was near a good ice cream place last time I visited.

N Portland

Dawson Park Fountain
Dawson Park, N. Stanton & Williams
I don’t wanna wait–for our lives to be over . . .

McCoy Park Fountain
McCoy Park, N. Trenton & Newman Ave

Suburbs

Beaverton City Fountain Park
12500 SW 4th St, Beaverton, OR 97005
Oh, this fountain is a lot of fun. The streams of water are so high! Plus it’s right across the street from the library.

Lake at the Commons Interactive Fountain
8325 SW Nyberg St, Tualatin, OR 97062
Full disclosure–I grew up in Tualatin, and they built the Tualatin Commons–referred to by my brother and me as the “fake lake”–while we were in high school, closing a major road and screwing up traffic. All for a lake you were not allowed to swim in, ringed by restaurants that would open with great aplomb and then slowly wither on the vine, quickly replaced with other venues that would soon do the same, mostly because–they closed the damn road and no one could see them while driving by! Ahem. The fountain was still pretty fun. Also, I think the wine bar finally stuck.

Tualatin Commons Fountain

Tualatin Commons Fountain. The only good picture I could find (from Wikimapia) was apparently taken on a cold, rainy day. Typical!

Movies

I’ve always loved the idea of Portland’s free movies in the park. Movies under the stars, where I can cuddle up to my husband and bring a lavish picnic! I think I’ve been to exactly two, and one was an accident. But I am determined to go at least once this summer. Depending on the location (either public park or private business), there’s usually pre-movie entertainment, and the films start at dusk (around 9 pm).

Here’s the full schedule from Thrillist, with my picks below.

August 3:
Office Space
Pix Patisserie / Bar Vivant (2225 E Burnside St, Portland, OR 97214)
This isn’t exactly free, as you will not be able to resist Pix’s exquisite desserts or excellent selection of wine. Mike Judge’s genius ode to passive-aggressive (leading to aggressive-aggressive) ins and outs office life, starring Ron Livingston. Opens at 7 pm; movie starts at dusk.

August 6:
The Goonies
Wilkes Park (NE 154th & Beech)
You’re not too cool for this movie. Go see the source material for Netflix’s Stranger Things. Opens at 6:30 pm; movie starts at dusk.

August 14:
Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens
April Hill Park (SW 58th & Miles)
I’m going to this one, by hook or by crook! Opens at 6:30 pm; movie starts at dusk.

August 18:
Jaws
Elizabeth Caruthers Park (SW Moody & Gaines)
True story: I lived on Martha’s Vineyard, where this movie was filmed, for several years. Pretty much every middle-aged denizen of the Rock was an extra in this movie! Opens at 6:30 pm; movie starts at dusk.

August 20:
Best in Show
Sewallcrest Park (SE 31st & Market)
This movie gives me life! If for some reason you haven’t seen it, click the title for the trailer (I linked to all the trailers in the titles). Opens at 6:30 pm; movie starts at dusk.

August 31:
Rocky
Pix Patisserie / Bar Vivant (2225 E Burnside St, Portland, OR 97214)
ADRIAN! Opens at 7 pm; movie starts at dusk.

Multnomah County Library Locations and Events

I renewed my relationship last year with the Multnomah County Library last year after almost 20 years, and I’m so glad I did! There are 20 branches in the Portland area, and they’re all full of wonderful things for you–and the vast majority are free.

Did you know that you can put a hold on any book, DVD, or most any other library material online, and they will deliver it to your local branch? It’s amazing. Do that.

There’s still time to complete your Summer Reading game board, open to babies, children, and teens! There’s even a Bingo version for adults. Win prizes and read amazing books for free!

The storytimes at the library are wonderful–much better than the weak “singalong” class I paid for through Portland Parks & Recreation. There are events for babies, toddlers, young children, and families!

Want to brush up on your computer skills or get tech help with a device? Get it for free at the Multnomah County Library’s computer and technology classes.

Need your resume polished? The library has you covered.

Other events (and I’m just scratching the surface): arts and crafts classes that include making seed balls and an “all-you-can-make” art bar, book clubs, citizenship classes, and lectures and author talks that include a one-hour cheese class, a talk on Vanport, earthquake preparedness, Etsy basics, free-range poetry, and much more!

There are literally dozens of other fascinating events at the Multnomah County Library, see all of their events here!

Phew! I feel much more in control of my life with this list. What other free things have I forgotten? Post them below!

Enchanted Forest Map

Enchanted Forest: How to Have the Best Time Without Spending All Your Money

Enchanted Forest Map

An outdated yet charming map of the Enchanted Forest! Image via the Enchanted Forest.

Oregon’s Enchanted Forest is a very special, deeply weird place. Created by Roger Tofte, who opened the park in 1971 after working on it practically single-handedly for seven years, the Enchanted Forest is still family owned and operated, and it looks it. This is not a dig. The description on the Google map is “enduring children’s theme park” which is perfect (but it’s not just for children).

Walking through this fairytale-themed wonderland, you can see the evolution of a singular vision: from the old, creepy animatronic dioramas of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, to the mid-sized but still very effective Ice Mountain Bobsleds roller coaster, finally arriving at the thoroughly modern (and cool!) Challenge of Mondor ride. I love it all. However, when we went last summer, I was shocked—shocked!—at how much money we spent without even thinking. So I analyzed the features of the park so I (and you) could strategize for the future!

Note: The purpose of this article is not to be as cheap as possible. I support the Enchanted Forest and want it to thrive for decades to come. This is more about allocating your funds in a thoughtful matter and prioritizing what you and your family will really enjoy. Think of this as a way for you to go to the Enchanted Forest more often, because you didn’t blow your budget the first time. So let’s get started!

Enchanted Forest

The Enchanted Forest is DELIGHTFUL. Photo via Wikipedia.

Arriving at the Enchanted Forest

You’re not getting in the door without paying admission: $11.75 for adults, $10.50 for seniors and children 3-12. This is also where you can buy ride tickets and bracelets. Danger Zone!

Big Timber Log Ride Enchanted Forest

The Big Timber Log Ride! Photo via PDXFamilyAdventures.com.

Ride Bracelets: Yea or Nay?

With ride tickets at $1 and rides ranging from two to four tickets, the unlimited ride bracelets can seem like a good deal–but check out the park and your kid’s tolerance for rides and long lines first! EF has two bracelets: a Regular Ride Bracelet for $25.95 (about 10 rides if you spent the equivalent in tickets and went on each ride once or so), and a Kiddy Ride Bracelet for $15.95 (about seven rides’ worth of tickets).

So, if your child (or, er, you) wants to go on more rides than that–or they prefer to stick to the more expensive rides (Big Timber Log Ride!), a bracelet can be a good deal. Check out the lines. Do you have enough time to get your money’s worth? Are you tall enough to go on all the rides? Go forth and spend your money! The last time we went, we bought Sid a regular bracelet without considering that 1) he doesn’t like roller coasters or log rides and 2) the line for Challenge of Mondor was really long. We would have been better off spending $8 for him to fight wizards and dragons twice.

Enchanted Forest

Good makeout place. Not in front of the kids! Photo from PDXFamilyAdventures.com.

Free Things to Do at The Enchanted Forest

If you’re on a super-limited budget (or have a goal of hitting EF every single weekend), you are in luck. There are tons of things to do at the Enchanted Forest that are free, once you pay admission:

  • Storybook Lane – The old-school part of the Enchanted Forest. Visit Snow White and see the Seven Dwarves’ mine, walk through the Little Crooked House, listen to Hansel, Gretel, and the Witch (super creepy), fall (or rather scoot) down Alice’s rabbit hole, and more. This is equal parts magical and kind of horrifying.
  • Tofteville Western Town – Includes a “town” with wooden sidewalks, Fort Fearless, the Indian Caves, and the Opera House gift shop (not free unless you shoplift–do not shoplift, there is a jail in Western Town).
  • Fantasy Fountains Water-Light Show – A water show with pretty lights set to music! Plays throughout the day. I find this very soothing.
  • Summer Comedy Theater – Each year, Roger Tofte’s daughter Susan Vaslev writes her own comedic take on a fairy tale, and high school drama kids perform it twice per day. Last year’s Emperor’s New Clothes was a crack-up (and also a musical)!
  • Smooching. I’m serious (not for children). The Indian Caves and inside the Witch’s Head are primo makeout spots!

Food: Bring Your Own

The food at the Enchanted Forest is not bad: typical plain-Jane fast food burgers, nachos, corn dogs, etc. It’s just not good. The Enchanted Forest is perfectly fine with people bringing picnics, so why not just pack a lunch and buy an ice cream cone while you’re there? You won’t be missing out on much. Just remember you’ll need to carry your stuff around—a backpack is good. This is why people keep using strollers when their children can walk just fine, by the way. I know this now.

Enchanted Forest Plate

Do I need this Enchanted Forest plate? No. Do I want it? Kinda. Photo via Etsy.

Do You Need Souvenirs?

This is a personal question that everyone must answer for themselves. I am currently in a life-or-death struggle against junk at my house, so my answer is no, I don’t need another mug or water pistol or whatever branded dollar store goods the Enchanted Forest has to offer. EF has expanded its offerings to include The Best Little Facepainting and Costume Shoppe (the name of which will never not make me laugh, hello Dolly Parton), which I think must be in response to Great Wolf Lodge’s similar offerings.

Didn’t You Forget Something?

Do not go in the Haunted House. It is super scary and I will never go in it again (the last time I was 22 and nannying two 8-year-olds and a 4-four-old, it did not go well). Stop reminding me. No I will not post a picture.

The Enchanted Forest is located in Turner, Oregon and is open from May through September: find the schedule here. Go forth and enjoy this unique, magical wonderland—wisely.

Flip Flops

Pregnancy Survival Guide: 7 Summer Essentials

Last summer, when I was eight months pregnant in August during a heat wave (90-plus degree temperatures for months, it seemed), I vowed to write this post. At the time I was too busy sweating to write, but with summer just around the corner, I’m ready to help!

I know several mamas who will be experiencing the joys of pregnancy during the summer months. And listen, I don’t want to be one of those smug ladies who seemingly live to go on–and on and on–about the potential pitfalls of pregnancy. But let’s get real. By the end of my pregnancy, it was hard enough to just find a comfortable position to sit in. Being hot, sweaty, and swollen just made me feel ridiculous on top of everything else.

But! I did find a few ways to make being pregnant during the summer easier, and I thought I’d write them down before Mother Nature makes me forget everything so I might want to have another baby in the future (the store is closed, Mother Nature–it’s called an IUD!).

  1. Surrender to my icy embrace! Image from Home Depot.

    An air conditioner for your bedroom, if you don’t have central air. Buy it now, before prices go up or stores sell out! You may think it’s a frivolous expense of money and energy when you could be saving up for, say, a college fund. But this is important! Sleep is essential for gestating mommies, and sweating in bed is no fun (except under the specific circumstances that got you pregnant in the first place). Measure your room and find the most efficient air conditioner for the square footage you have (Craigslist can also be your friend here). Then, an hour before you go to bed every night, turn it on and shut the door. When you’re ready to turn in, your room will be a blissful, icy-cold refuge of slumber.

  2. Glamorous.

    Comfortable maternity pajamas. Don’t be like me. I wore my regular, (originally) loose-fitting pajamas way too long, until they were tight and uncomfortable. Again, sleep is important. You’ll need something that fits and is suitable for the weather! One benefit to maternity pajamas and nightgowns is, many are also made for nursing, so you can wear them after delivery and get a lot of wear out of them (especially if you have a robe for when it gets cooler).

  3. Ayyyy. You, too, can feel like the Fonz. Image from Dickies.

    A light jacket or cardigan that goes with almost everything you own. The double-edged sword of super-hot summer temperatures is, many office buildings and businesses keep the air conditioning on blast, which means if you’re dressed for the weather, you’ll need a little something to keep from freezing. The best part about this item is, you likely already have it in your closet (it doesn’t need to close!). I had a light (pre-pregnancy) Dickies jacket that I wore to the office almost every day. In the end it was more like a shrug than a jacket, but it worked!

  4. Maternity Dress

    Maternity dress + scarf = cute and comfortable

    Summer maternity dresses. Old Navy was my jam for maternity gear, and their dresses were awesome. They were comfortable, they were inexpensive, they lasted my entire pregnancy, they could be dressed up or down depending on the occasion, and (still very important) they were flattering! Protip: maxi dresses means you don’t have to worry about shaving your legs every day.

  5. A couple of light scarves. Let’s talk pregnancy boobs. As the months go by, your breasts will likely get bigger, which will in turn pull your neckline lower–which means you may start showing more cleavage than you feel comfortable with at, say, work. A light, colorful scarf will take care of that without making you overheat. Also: great as a shawl in a pinch in air conditioning.
  6. These are my exact pants! From Old Navy.

    Linen or otherwise light pants. I think my favorite piece of clothing during the tail end of my summer pregnancy was a pair of gray linen pants I got from (again) Old Navy. Again, shaving your legs will get more difficult as time goes on. If you feel uncomfortable showing that, a light pair of pants can keep you covered, but comfortable. Get them in a neutral color and you can basically wear them every day if you want! You have better things to think about than your clothes!

  7. Flip-flops. Cheap and plain or spendy and stylish–your choice. But for me, the end of pregnancy plus high summer temperatures resulted in extremely swollen feet and ankles, which meant the only shoes I could wear were flip-flops. Be prepared.
Flip Flops

Flip flops! Live them, learn them, love them. Old Navy.

Hopefully you won’t need these suggestions, but I think hoping for the best and preparing for the worst is a solid plan of action in almost every circumstance!

Do you have any tips for surviving a summer pregnancy? Post them below!