My new “car”

Room for a puppy!

Shortly after moving to Portland, we joined the ranks of bicycle commuters and very rarely are in the car. It is really liberating not having to worry about parking, gas, traffic stress and everything else. I spent a lot of time researching and looking around the city for a used or new bike. Craigslist was a mess, most people didn’t respond to my emails or phone calls and they don’t usually put the size of the frame in the ad. What a waste of time.

I went to a number of local bike shops in Portland, the friendliest by far being citybikes, a worker-owned co-op. (Other helpful places were: North Portland Bikeworks, Community Cycling Center and the Recyclery). The employees literally took hours (and it’s a busy place!) to talk to me about bikes, walk me through the used bike room, figure out what size frame I need and the like. You can test ride bikes, but most of the used ones aren’t ready for the road. A really nice guy there got a used bike ready for me to ride (it took an hour) and after riding it we discovered it was about 2 inches too small for me. Bikes are expensive and I don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars for something that doesn’t fit me. For not too much more money, they had a new bike (that fit me) which I ended up purchasing. It’s called the Urban Xpress, a hybrid commuter bike with skinny tires, a mountain-esque bike frame and swing back handlebars that are supposed to reduce strain and stress on your wrists. It was customized by the workers at citybikes to embody their ideal get around town and commute in Portland bike.

So far, so good. I love it. I got a cute basket off craigslist from a woman who says it’s from the Netherlands, so now I can be like the Dutch, riding my bicycle wherever I need to go. I don’t think I’ll be pushing a work cart full of children anytime soon. Being on my bike makes me smile and I enjoy riding in to work, a little exercise before I start my shift. And I haven’t run over any pedestrians like I did in Seattle. At least not yet. Life is good.

Berry Season


I love early summer in the Pacific Northwest. The abundance of food is always a challenge for me in preserving, freezing and eating eating eating eating. Since this is not my food blog, you can look there for recipes. I just wanted to share a picture of the 7 pounds of luscious strawberries at the end of their season.

We picked at Koch Family Farms in Tualatin and the berries were about $1.15/pound for pick your own. The raspberries were just coming in, so they weren’t as amazing as the strawberries but still delicious. So far I have made a strawberry sauce for waffles, fruit roll-ups, strawberry lemonade and frozen most of it for the upcoming rhubarb pie.

Puerto Rico in the comfort of your home

Matt bought the board game Puerto Rico when we returned from S.A. and we were so daunted by all the pieces and rulebook that we avoided playing it because with a game that complicated, it could get exhausting and boring before we even understand the game.

Luckily, we have boardgame friends in Portland and one night we sat down to make sense of it all.  And it’s not that complicated, once you understand how it goes.  And it’s fun!  Probably because Matt and I learned at the same time, so we are both still clueless.  It’s feels similar to Settlers of Catan in some ways but it is very unique and a really good group game.  I like that there isn’t just one way to play and win, there a different ways to acquire enough victory points to win that it keeps it a fun challenge. And I am proud to announce that I have finally won, at the current high score of 50 points. So far we each have one game…

Cheap Movies in Portland

We’ve been enjoying being within walking distance to a cheap movie theater and biking distance to even more.  I was surprised at how many cheap movie houses there are in this city.  It’s always nice to see a movie with a crowd and a number of the theaters sell beer, which is a wonderful concept.  I don’t have a favorite theater yet, but there is one that keeps disappointing me.

The Clinton St Theater is $6 a movie and $4 on Tuesdays, but their schedule has been wrong in the paper and on their website.  I’ve been there 3 times to see a movie and either a.)It started 30 minutes earlier than their website and newspaper said it would or b.) another event was happening instead (a hypnotist and a skate show benefit).  I was disappointed—they should at least have their own website be accurate.

All the other places we went to we didn’t have any problems with, and they were significantly cheaper.

I love the Bagdad Theater.  Owned by the infamous McMennamins brothers (who may just buy the entire Pacific NW one day), this 1927 theater has been revitalized but still has that other-era charm.  It’s a beautiful theater with comfy chairs and some rows have bench-like tables so you have somewhere to put your pizza and beer.  It’s $3 for a movie and sometimes has other events.  Hawthorne neighborhood.

The Laurelhurst Theater has 2 rooms for movies, also $3 second-run style movies.  They sell pizza (no vegan) and great local beer.  The rooms are a good size and there are some bench-tables for your food.  No complaints about the 1923 art deco building, but it doesnt’ have that luxurious feeling like the Bagdad.

The Avalon Theater is nestled in the middle of a nickel arcade and has 2 small rooms for movies.  The seats are a little run-down and there’s no beer, but it’s $2.50 and you can go play DDR and skee-ball afterwards.  Belmont neighborhood.

Another old building that the McMennamins brother bought and turned into a movie house is the Mission Theater. Originally intended for Swedish Evangelicals in the 1890′s, it’s now a great place to have the McMennamin beer and watch a movie.  Who thought churches were boring?  There’s some traditional seats in rows as well as some round tables and chairs.  The balcony is a nice place to watch the $3 movie from.  They also have monthly Science Pub nights, which I have not been to but sound interesting.

There are more movie houses in historic buildings owned by the McMenn’s but the only other one I have visited is the Kennedy School, which is really cool.  It’s an elementary school from 1915 that has classrooms converted into hotel rooms and the teacher’s lounge is a bar.  There’s a swimming pool (only available to guests and OR residents) and a large restaurant with a nice outdoor patio.  The movie room is in the auditorium and instead of boring chairs, it’s an assortment of comfy recliners and couches.  My only gripe is that the restaurant has consistently bad service, but the beer and movies are cheap ($3).  They have other events too, like live bands and cocktail tasting nights.