Monday, December 31, 2012

2012, We Had Fun!

I feel confident saying that 2012 was a daydream year for me.

Those who are near and dear to me have told me that I'm visibly the happiest they've ever seen me and that my energy is contagious. Many wonderful things have happened to me this year and I've been proud to document them here in this web-space for my family, friends and complete strangers. I'm not planning a December summary this month, but rather a 2012 wham-bam thank you, ma'am!

I want to share some of my most wonderful memories that I blogged about from the year (by category!) in case you missed them or have just joined me recently:





  • When we finally admitted that we love each other this summer :) :)

  • Dan meeting the family and continuing to spend time with them - since Bailey has a huge crush on him!

  • Witnessing Dan's best round of golf in 2012 on a beautiful day at Quail Valley Golf Course.

  • Exploring the East side with Dan to prepare for his 2013 move-in (1, 2, 3)

It's been so important to me to be able to document my life here and I feel like it helps me to capture the moment better - even if it is a lot of time and effort - it's worth it!

Thanks again for stopping by, I look forward to seeing you back here in 2013!

<3 JE

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Restaurant Review | Fire on the Mountain

As most holidays go, the diet and strict workout routine goes out the window fast. Now away from fresh baked cookies and mom's gourmet cooking, I'm on a serious mission to eat clean and work off the holidays before I have to fit back into my skinny jeans come January 2nd. The day after Christmas, Dan and I repaired my driver's side headlight and both installed new wiper blades to prepare for non-stop spring rainfall. Unfortunately for all of us, the 2005 Ford Focus isn't a quick light to change and of course we had to be working on it in mid 30 degree weather. I felt so bad for Dan and tried to brave the cold as long as I could, but I was soon sent inside by the wonderful boyfriend. :) Lucky girl.

For working so hard, and to fulfill one of my December Goals I wanted to take him to Portland's best wing spot - Fire on the Mountain - for where coincidentally he had just received a gift card under the tree. Thanks Mom & Dad!! 

The Burnside location was packed, but we were able to belly up to the bar and have brews in front of us within minutes. Dan had eyes bigger than his stomach - which wasn't such a bad thing so that I could get several photos to share with you... This decision didn't support a clean eating strategy, but I did see plenty yummy salads on tables and on the menu.

What We Drank:

Red Headed Stranger ($4.25 / pint)

Olympia Tall Boy ($2.00 / can)

What We Ate:

Sweet Potato Tots {Cajunized} ($4.95 + .50 - Small)

Homemade Bleu Cheese Stuffed Fried Mushrooms ($4.95)

12 Wings - 6 Spicy Peanut / 6 Jamaican Jerk ($11.25)

Round 2 Tots {Cajunized} ($3.25 + .50 - Small)

Fried Twinkie ($2.75)

Know Before You Go:

  • Expect for the place to be packed - no matter which location and especially when a game is on the TV!

  • Grab a place to sit before you get in line for food - you don't want to be stuck eating with no table.

  • Don't sample the 'El Jefe' sauce unless you're prepared for the immediate consequences ahem, Dan.

  • El Jefe is actually so hot that it was featured on an Outrageous Food episode.

  • So many sauce options for any spice level - check out the guide.

  • Address: Several locations: East Burnside, Interstate and NE Fremont

  • Hours: All locations open at 11am, location and evening vary between 11pm and midnight close

  • View their Menus by location here: Interstate, Burnside, Fremont

Dan is already asking when we can go back...! Somebody likes SE eats!

<3 JE

TBT: Christmas Past

It's December 27th and Christmas is over and gone for the next 363 days. Thanks for the drive-by, Christmas - it's been real!

I'm back to work today - from the comfort of my home + New coffee maker - and I am thrilled that I don't have a tree, lights, ornaments or glitter to clean up after. It's the good life.

As planned, I spent some time at home the past 4 days going through old photos and not even scraping the surface of all of the gems that are in my parent's possession. What I can tell immediately from the photos I did find is that my parents have always been just as cool as they are now, that I had a really amazing childhood and that I have always been surrounded by wonderful influences. In all of the photos we are having fun and that's what my parents always wanted for us. I'm looking forward to sharing more with you!

Today's photo is brought to you by brother & sister matching flannel, old film and many gifts under the tree year after year.

And maybe this rack:

Happy Throwback Thursday!

<3 JE

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Christmas Miracle

Year after year I am so impressed by the generosity of friends and family who pull together to make a family's Christmas wishes come true. Mostly though I am impressed by my mother who takes on the alias of "Secret Santa" and spends hours and days of her December pulling together resources to provide gifts, clothes, food, money for electricity and more for adopted families in the community.

^Mom's December Facebook Profile Picture^

This year she stretched above and beyond to adopt three families, all of different walks of life:

  • A selfless Single Mom who has lost her job due to grave illness with 2 Girls, Ages 7 and 10.

  • A proud and humble Family with 2 Boys, Ages 10 and 14

  • Another proud and hard working family with 2 Boys, Ages 8 and 10.

Mom reached out to her Facebook network and watched the love and joy spread like wildfire. People who had previously donated $25 gave more, people who had previously given $50 doubled that commitment. There was even a donation from across the country of $500 - W O W!

Some donated money which allowed my mom to mindfully shop for the families while others did the shopping themselves. The end result was overwhelmingly beautiful and I know that it was a labor of love to wrap all of these gifts for the children to open with wide eyes on Christmas morning.

As mentioned above, money was also allocated for electricity and food so that the families could live easier the days after Christmas with a reprieve from usual bills that may weigh them down.

My mom is a selfless hero and I admire her each and every day - especially when she's operating undercover as Secret Santa!

What a beautiful sight!

<3 JE

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Here's to the most wonderful Christmas anyone could ever ask for.

It's 8:30 and we are currently sleeping in sitting in front of the Christmas tree, sipping freshly brewed coffee, finger-lickin' some Great Harvest Bread Co. Cinnamon Rolls and dumping our stockings upside-down to see what Santa brought down the chimney last night. I can only guess good gifts thanks to the 7 Layer bars we left out (yum!)

Here's some of the magic currently happening in Happy Valley:

A very Merry Christmas, indeed!

<3 JE

Monday, December 24, 2012

Having Myself a Merry Little Christmas

I don't know about you guys but I seem to do this every year. No matter how much my focus is on getting the perfect gifts for others I seem to do a little shopping for myself. Advantages? Free Shipping codes, the falling prices and the fact that I'm out shopping anyway so why not!

This year I can at least justify the spending and attribute the shopping to two non-Christmas events: Getting a New Job and Dan's plan to move in with me in February. You'll see the theme in the items below of Style versus Home and hopefully you agree with me that I have already had a very Merry Christmas.

Here are some of the lovely items I couldn't pass up this year and I'm beyond thrilled! Especially since I had a shipping code or 30% discount on all of them:

West Elm Organic Chevron Duvet Cover + 2 Shams, $89.00 / $24 each

Merry Christmas Eve! I am counting down the minutes until I get to see my brother via Skype. I can't wait to see his reaction as he gets to open his gifts a day early... which now that I think of it has always been his dream since it's also his Half Birthday today! Oh, Brother!

<3 JE

Friday, December 21, 2012

Thank You, and You!

Hopefully you've had your fix of Mayan calendar reading this morning - I am not going to talk about that! We've got plenty of time left on this earth so get busy livin'!

Instead I'd like to write about something very near and dear to me - saying "Thank You".

Whether someone opens a door for you, helps you with something, gives you something, goes the extra mile or just shows some genuine human compassion you should do yourself and your karma a big solid by showing your thanks.

Thanks and appreciation is expressed in many ways and some deeds require more of it than others. I personally love getting a hand-written letter sent the old fashioned way and think that it's a lost art that sometimes gets forgotten with how simple and easy composing and email is. My good friends Tanna and Greg sent me this one after I hosted Miss Olive's Baby Shower:

While I was interviewing for my new job, I hand-made cards and delivered them in person the day after each meeting I had with soon-to-be co-workers. I could tell that they really appreciated the gesture and while it wasn't what landed me the role, it was really a great beginning to building a good relationship for the weeks, months, years to come!

Next time you go to Target or a similar store stop in and get some 'Thank You' cards that you love and can have on hand for anytime you need to send a thanks for a birthday gift, throwing a party or just to remind them that they are a great friend and influence in your life.

Not everything requires a gift basket or a bouquet of flowers or even a hand-written letter. Just be sure to remember the next time someone does something nice for you, the least you can do is look them directly in their eyes and give them your sincerest and most earnest thanks.

Thank you, and you - for coming back day after day and still reading what I have to share. Happy Holidays!

<3 JE

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Throwback Thursday

I was going to come up with another gift guide for today but I then came to the realization that they take forever to put together the best gifts come from the heart and can't be generalized for everyone. Think of an experience you and your special friends or loved ones can share together, or give something that will bring joy to the recipient daily as they see or use it. Spread cheer, joy and love!

Something I see every Thursday on my Instagram feed is the #ThrowbackThursday photo share. This holiday season I'm hoping to go through some of the old photos at my parents house with Dan and get some great content for the year to come! I also have a few of him that I'll be sharing so stay tuned for that!

Below you see me in front of the fireplace in my childhood home showing my support for the Portland Trail Blazers in massive shoes previously owned by Portland Trailblazer, Buck Williams  [1989-1996].

I sincerely love this photo of me and I am really looking forward to taking photos of my someday Far Far... far far far (far!) in the future children.

Go Blazers!

<3 JE

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Fuel Millionaire

That's right - I'm a Nike Fuel Millionaire!

I was so close Monday night with 999,100 before I realized that my 5:30am run the next morning would be the activity that pushed me into the next bracket. And here it is, One Million!

Wait, you don't know what I'm talking about?

The Nike FuelBand ($149) measures everyday activity and turns it into NikeFuel. Using accelerometers it measures movement consistently - Yes, all movement - and gives a beautiful LED display return on how much work you put in. Set daily goals for yourself and aim to crush them!

For me, here are some average assumptions on my everyday activities:

1 Running Mile = 400 Points

1 Hour NTC Session = 1,100 Points

Morning Beauty Routine = 450 Points (more than 1 mile?! Long hair, don't care)

Emptying the Dishwasher = 200 Points

Folding a few day's worth of Laundry = 350 Points

Grocery Shopping = 600 Points


I've had the Nike FuelBand since April 16th and have been earning fuel non-stop and competitively with friends in my network. I'm impressed by the numbers some of my friends put up each day and am truly motivated by constant #FuelChecks I participate in.

If you're seeking some motivation for the new year, I recommend the Nike FuelBand for a sweet piece of technology + a constant reminder to get out and get m o v i n g.

<3 JE

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Holiday Gift Guide: Dining Details

While I know I don't necessarily need anything more in the kitchen, I feel like I'm always on the prowl for cute flatware, glassware and accessories to amplify my home dining experience. Judging by Dan's reaction to when I'm shopping, it may be something that only us ladies appreciate as part of the 'experience'. In my world I just get the eye-roll and the 'oh, I'm sorry - this is for the blog isn't it?'

Yes. Everything is for the blog.

Take a look at what I recommend for those who love the finer details of their dining experience:

1. Monogrammed Mug, $6.00

This is an excellent gift for anyone! I once got this as a gift for Christmas and loved it to pieces...until it smashed into pieces. I may be getting this for myself this year.

2. Ikat Zigzag Placemat, $14.00 (set of 2)

I've noticed myself pin this graphic several times here and here, and of course I instantly fell in love with the placemat. When I consider re-doing my home decor this is the first place I'll look.

3. Square Lacquer Serving Tray, $24.00

Breakfast in bed? Put-together bar tray? Odds and Ends? There's countless ways to use this tray and plenty of lovely vibrant color options.

4. Salad Hands, $15.81

I've never seen these before but think that they would be an awesome gift! So unique and much different than your typical salad tongs.

5. Birch Straws, $8.00 (set of 144) 

These are adorable and perfect for a rustic feel. I like sipping drinks in the summer with straws and can see these fitting nicely into my home soon.

6. Wooden Chopsticks, $5.25 (set of 2)

How fancy are these? I received a gift a few years ago of special chopsticks and have kept them in perfect condition and can see these as a great gift for anyone (who knows how to use them of course!)

7. Whale Measuring Cups, $34.00 (set of 4)

Whales may not be your thing, but there are many cute measuring cup sets out there to fit anyone's taste. I personally love these and think someone in your life would too!

Are you almost done with your shopping? How about gift wrapping?

<3 JE

Monday, December 17, 2012

Weekend Update

I had almost forgotten how a wonderful weekend was the perfect remedy for a long work week. This weekend was so great that I can't believe that I didn't have to be dragged into work this morning.

Friday set the fun in motion with a White Christmas party with good friends of Dan's who I've adopted as my own. I popped the tags off of a beautiful dress mom got me this past Spring and paired it with grey and gold. Dan got home from work and it didn't take him long to steam his shirt and find the right pants to coordinate with my outfit.

My Handsome :)

I'm a little bummed that I didn't pull out my camera at Michelle's house because she went above and beyond (as always!) to provide an amazing spread of food, drinks and entertainment for the guests. Cranberry bliss bars, lil' smokies, crackers and cheese spread, all the way down to ice water cleverly named 'melted snowman'. Originally on the plan was to meet more great friends downtown for a tacky sweater pub crawl - but we were having a fun time dancing, mingling and nomming with good friends.

Saturday I had to pay for all of the fun I had and get my butt in gear as I promised on Fearless Friday. It wasn't raining when I stepped out the door, and wasn't too cold - so I wore shorts and a non-waterproof jacket. Silly Oregonian. Within 10 minutes the skies broke open and it poured non-stop for the rest of my 5 mile run. Of course I got weird looks from people driving down the street, and saw nobody else out on the road enjoying the rain like I did - but I think it was my fix to get me back in the right mindset. I was out running in the rain in shorts, enjoying it, loving it and feeling alive. If that's not inspiring I'm not sure what is.

Happily I got cleaned up, warmed up, and joined my love for date night at Cinetopia for The Hobbit. We had to show up early since we pre-ordered tickets in the Movie Parlour theater, meaning seating is very limited and whether you actually get to sit together or not is all first-come first-serve. We were only a few couples back in line when we made it an hour early with snacks concealed.

Breaking away from his Tetris game

^ We sat in the top left corner

Sunday was pretty lazy per usual with critical NFL games on non-stop - and especially important for Dan as it was the final Fantasy Football match-up and he was in the championship game!! I haven't been paying much attention to his league standings all year, so to know that he'd walk away with a minimum of tripling his entry fee had me pretty engaged! By 5pm his opponent had already used up all of his players and Dan was still in the lead - victory locked up!! So, instead of his winnings being 3x his entry fee, he walks away with 8x. That's huge!

He was a little upset that his Bears lost to the Packers 21-13, but I can't see him being too upset since the only guy that scored all day for the Packers (James Jones) is on Dan's fantasy team. Bittersweet.

<3 JE