Wooden Shoe Tulip Fest | Woodburn, OR

Having heard of a tulip festival of sorts not far from where we live in Portland, OR, my husband and I decided to leash up our 8-month-old Golden Retriever puppy, Josie (who unfortunately tends to get car sick on every trip we take), and drive forty-five minutes southeast to find those rows of flowers. We set off early on an immaculate Pacific Northwest Saturday morning in mid-April, coffee and scones in hand. Although the “doors” opened at 9AM, we arrived closer to 10, but were easily able to find a spot. For about an hour we meandered through the rows of tulips, feeling a mix of shock that there were that many tulips in one location to who planted all these? to amazement of all the different colors of tulips that actually exist. And of course we snapped way too many pictures and tried to take one too many selfies. Josie had a grand ‘ol time saying “hi” to all the other pups that accompanied their eager parents all while trying to destroy sniff those very juicy looking things that swayed tauntingly in the breeze right near her face. After having our fill of pictures and walking through the fields, we settled down for a curry sausage bratwurst and a fresh-squeezed lemonade from the food stands at the festival. Can you say “yum” and “totally satisfying”? I easily said both.

Tulip Fest 2

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Insider Tips

  1. Follow the advice we received: Get their early! (It gets extremely crowded around 12, both in the parking lot and in the tulip fields themselves.)
  2. Although they accept cards, I’d recommend having cash on hand to pay for the entry fee. This will make your entry smoother and more efficient.
  3. Get a curry sausage bratwurst from the food stands. Pair it with a fresh-squeezed lemonade and you’ll be demanding seconds!
  4. Wear shoes you don’t mind getting dirty. With all the rain we get in the Portland area, the rows of tulips were a bit muddy and I kept wishing I had worn old tennis shoes.
  5. Go as early in April as possible. When the warmer winds of May start blowing and the sun is out, the tulips start to lose their life. Earlier the better!
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May Book Reads

While in the midst of my final semester as a graduate student, I unfortunately haven’t had much time to dedicate to reading. With only a handful of days left until I’m official a “Master” and an official licensed elementary education teacher, I am finding more time to read. In fact, just yesterday I grabbed “The Book of Unknown Americans” by Cristina Henriquez off the shelf at my local library. Have you read this yet? It’s what I’m reading currently!

book of unknown americans


What are your favorite spring time reads? Any recommendations for what I should read next as we welcome summer?

Cathedral Park – St. John’s // Portland

On Cathedral Bridge

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve posted on nooks & notions. In the past few months much has happened – including wrapping up my Master’s program – that has preoccupied my time, making it incredibly difficult to not only write a post, but even to take pictures. So sad and unfortunate, right? As the summer is approaching, however, my time is freeing up, allowing for more time to invest in nooks & notions. And that’s exactly what I’m planning to do.

Now, as dramatic as I may have sounded in my opening paragraph about not having much time for exploration, that summation wasn’t totally accurate. In fact, we’ve been able to go search out several new places in the Portland area and beyond, an occurrence I’ve affectionately grown to refer to it as our weekly “weekend exploration”. In the next couple weeks, I’ll be hopefully posting some of our latest adventures in a very belated fashion. Hope you enjoy!

A couple months ago my husband and I drove up to St. John’s in the northernmost portion of Portland in search of the grand St. John’s Bridge (AKA Cathedral Park Bridge). We spent a rainy Sunday afternoon snapping some pics of the jade-colored steel suspension bridge, which was built way back in the early 1930s. Eventually we meandered up to grab a couple of lattes at the aptly named St. John’s Coffee Roasters.

Cathedral Park 2

 

 

Cathedral Park 1

Cathedral Park (Josie and I 2)

Under Cathedral Park

Cathedral Park (Dan and Josie)

Cathedral Park

Upon departure, we decided we’ll be returning back to St. John’s during the warm, sunny summer months for a picnic and to enjoy a glass of wine or two.

An Afternoon at Multnomah Falls

Although moving to a brand new city can put you into a daze, the new found ability to explore parts of the country you’ve never seen before outweighs those feelings of being overwhelmed. My husband and I moved to Portland, Oregon, a little over a month ago and have loved getting to know our neighborhood and the city as a whole. As in any big city, however, the feeling of needing to ditch the hustle and bustle of city life is natural, normal and often tends to make big city living not so overwhelming at the end of the day. This is also what my husband and I have tried to do – get out of downtown Portland – just as we did when we lived in Washington, D.C. For people like us who didn’t grow up in a big city, escaping into the country or to the beach not only soothes the soul, but is pretty fun, too.

With a day off from work last week, we took a day trip to the world-famous Multnomah Falls. Just forty minutes from downtown Portland, these lumbering, extremely popular waterfalls is a quick and easy day trip that doesn’t take much time or preparation. As all our other small trips and outings have included for the past month, our family’s new addition – Josie, a 12-week old Golden Retriever puppy – came along, too, enabling us to effectively capture our 2015 Christmas card with Multnomah Falls rushing to the earth’s floor in the background. In direct opposition to the normally rainy, dreary, and gray skies that accurately characterize the Pacific Northwest, the day cooperated for us and gave us a bright blue sky that felt truly like a gift.

overlook

josie and I overlooking

waterfalls from afar

top of waterfall

Waterfalls

And, of course, a sneak peek at the 2015 Walsh family Christmas card….

Christmas card

The Ultimate Fall Playlist

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In my personal, humble opinion, the fall season is the best time of the year. I love anything and everything pumpkin, love seeing red and golden leaves skitter across the sidewalks, and love wrapping up in scarves and sweatshirts with a warm drink in hand. Winter, spring and summer are great, but the sights, sounds, and smells of autumn surpass them all.

To accompany this cool, glorious season I put together a playlist that accentuates and promotes everything about the fall just because music is the heartbeat of everything. So roll those windows down if you can (or roll those windows up if you can’t) and allow yourself to bask in the beauty of the season!

Happy listening!


What are your favorite fall-time tunes? Do share!

“A Walk in the Woods”: A Journey Through the Appalachians with a Travel Writer

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If nothing else, a cross country road trips calls for an engrossing book that will help alleviate the boredom that the miles and miles of cornfields in Indiana and North Dakota inflict upon the weary (passenger) car traveler. Since I was currently on said road trip a book was not only important, but essential for my sanity as we wound our way through the entire Midwest portion of the United States. Before the trip, I was a third of the way through a book I had recently purchased at the world famous Powell’s Bookstore in Portland, Oregon, but it had been falling flat for me. I had struggled through about 100 pages in about a month. Needless to say, I needed something a little more vibrant, exciting, and dynamic to accompany me on a 3,000 mile road trip.

I landed on “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson. Even though this novel is in the queue to hit theaters this fall, this impending motion picture production had little say over my decision to grab the book off the shelf. Honestly, I thought the title was fitting for our move westward and I figured Bill and I could journey together across America, even if only hypothetically.  I’ve seen Bryson’s book on bookstore shelves for years, had even bought my dad a copy of it for Christmas one year, but was never too interested myself. Maybe I just didn’t get a good vibe from the cover as is sometimes the case. So perhaps even reluctantly I picked “A Walk in the Woods” up, if not unenthusiastic.

Within three days I had finished Bryson’s travel essay that described, depicted, and translated his account of his nearly year long journey hiking the Appalachian Trail, or “AT” as he lovingly refers to it as. Conclusively, “A Walk in the Woods” was funny, inspiring, passionate, and remarkably well-written through and through. Bryson was able to accurately detail his total adoration and overwhelmingly hatred of the trail, making me long for a heavy pack filled with weeks worth of provisions to be slung over my back as I slink along a narrow gravel trail through green-laden mountains yet despise that outdoor journey all at the same time. What a confusing, interchanging relationship.

If you haven’t read Bryson’s book yet, you must. He has opened by eyes afresh to the brilliance of travel writing, whether as a writer and reader, which compels me to suggest his work to you as I sit here assuredly calling myself both. As soon as I finished “A Walk in the Woods”, I ran over to my local library to grab another one of his travel “essays” (though they truly are novels). Whether you’re a writer, a reader, a traveler, or all three, do yourself a loving favor and grab one of his books. You’ll be seeing green, rolling hills in no time.

Cheers to happy reading!


Have you read any of Bryson’s works? Which are your favorites? Any other travel writers/books you could suggest? Let me know!

Talk Radio, a Cross-Country Road-Trip, and Pay Tolls, or A Lesson on How to Be Brave

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The streets were quiet and deserted except for a handful of dedicated runners as our tiny Jeep crawled around Lincoln Park in southeast D.C. for the last time. It was early and the sky was still dark, causing confusion as to whether it was day or night. As we headed for the western-facing highway, my heart felt tugged by sentimentality and a renewed fondness for the place we were leaving. Perhaps the impending absence of our cozy, delightful Capitol Hill neighborhood was making my heart fonder. Funny how this happens.

This departure from Washington, D.C., has been pending for a while now, a couple months actually. Feeling the uncontrollable urge to move back west has been overwhelming for both my husband and I so we knew it was time to end our chapter in D.C. and start a new one in a new place. So where are we headed? To the land of hipsters, of hippies, of green, lush wilderness, of microbreweries, and of coffee shops: Portland “the Rose City” Oregon, of course.

Yes, as I write this on a blue-skied, chilly Monday morning, my husband and I find ourselves unemployed, driving through western Pennsylvania in our stuffed-to-the-brim Jeep, with only a short-term lease to our name in Portland. We have one friend there, a small apartment, and no jobs, but we couldn’t be more excited or more ready. Most people we’ve told our plans to have said we are either “awesome”, “crazy”, or “lucky”. As for “awesome”, sure, maybe.“Crazy”? Probably. “Lucky”, no.

We’re bravely choosing to start a new chapter, rather than waiting for the chapter to choose us.

So here we are, crossing the country one state at a time (7 today alone!), all in the name of Taking Risks, Being Brave, and a dash of YOLO rationale. Since we’ve chosen to up and leave our comfortable D.C. apartment, our great neighborhood (which I’m missing already), and stable jobs, there have been several times when I’ve wondered what we’re actually doing, if it’s wise, smart, really dumb perhaps, idiotic. But regardless of what word is most accurate, I like to say that we’re being brave.

Being brave looks different for everyone. Being brave for you might mean staying exactly where you are, in a job that’s tough, or in a new city that is intimidating. You very well could be more brave in your present circumstance that I will ever be and for that I totally applaud you. For now, for me and for my little family, our “brave” looks like driving through the hillsides of Pennsylvania en route to the Land of Hippies, our new homefront.

5 (Secret) Capitol Hill Restaurants to Try This Weekend

If you’re anything like me, you’re always on the lookout for local, non-chain, unique places to dine and drink. I’m not claiming to be a foodie nor do I think I’m even qualified to be one, but I do know good food when I taste it. That being said, I’ve been lucky to try a few restaurants on Capitol Hill that you may not have heard of before, but are worth checking out this weekend.


The Pretzel Bakery – 340 15th SE 

pretzel bakery

I stopped here one time this summer to grab a bottle of water, but was swayed to try their basil lemonade. Hands down the best lemonade I’ve ever had! I went back just last week to try their famous handmade, buttery soft pretzels. I contently sat for several minutes nibbling on their everything soft pretzel after having dipped it in a caramel mustard sauce, all while sipping on that delicious lemonade.

Insider tip: Pretzel bun breakfast sandwiches aren’t an all day affair at the Pretzel Bakery so be sure to get their before 11 if that’s what you’re in the mood for.


Jimmy T’s – 501 E Capitol St SE

Nestled next to a long stretch of traditional row homes on East Capitol SE, Jimmy T’s is a neighborhood staple for Capitol Hill residents. This past spring my husband and I walked down to this popular breakfast spot and immediately fell in love with the casual, laid back vibe of the place that makes you feel like you’re in a small town diner you went to as a kid with your grandma.  Check them out for a cheap, classic, home-style breakfast.


Romeo & Juliet – 301 Massachusetts Ave NE

Romeo & Juliet

Although they’ve been open for about two years now, Romeo & Juliet is still undiscovered gem in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Since we first stumbled upon it this summer, this bar/restaurant has become a weekly happy hour spot for us. Our favorite apps include the (out of this world) potato cheese croquettes and lemon artichoke hummus.

Insider tip: For your first time at Romeo & Juliet (and perhaps all of your times), sit out on their outdoor patio for incredibly cheap beer and delectable appetizers.


Mangialardo’s & Sons – 1317 Pennsylvania Ave SE

M&Sons

You may never heard about this small sub shop, but go around lunchtime on a weekday and you’ll find a line of people out the door. Having been in business for decades, this family-run business is the best place for sub sandwiches on Capitol Hill, perhaps in the District. We’ve had lunch here several times and keep going back time and time again for their huge sandwiches and even bigger bags of chips (you’ll see what I’m talking about when you go!).

Insider tip: Be sure to try the famous “G Man” sandwich. Also note, the shop is closed on the weekends.


P&C Market – 1023 East Capitol St SE

P&E Market has been a go-to of mine and my husband’s for a couple years now for last-minute beer and wine runs. They do, however, have a random smattering of cheeses, bread, chocolates, and pasta sauces, as well as a short, but creative sandwiches made fresh in the market in minutes. Grab a sandwich before crossing the street to hang out at Lincoln Park for the day.


Where are your favorite “secret” places to drink and dine on the Hill? Do share with the rest of us!

Seljavallalaug Pool: Iceland’s Diamond in the Rough

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So there we were, trudging over a long, muddied gravel trail that snaked its way through two volcanic mountain ranges. We managed to tiptoe our way across a swiftly moving icy river that divided the trail without getting our shoes completely soaked. Our eyes kept glancing forwards, eager to catch a glimpse of the mysterious, mystical Icelandic pool we were pilgrimaging to find. It was lightly drizzling and the air was chilly, but we were absorbed with our ethereal surroundings and our bodies warm from our short hike. After about a mile-long hike and with the rain coming down a little harder, a tiny, white building appeared off in the distance. As we moved nearer, we could see a short wall that ran along the side of the mountain.

After seeing countless pictures and hearing epic details about this ancient Icelandic pool, we were here. We had found it.

Dan Walking to Pool

Walking on road

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Pool1

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White wall in pool

Hadley smiling

Locker room wall

Dan smiling at camera

If you find yourself traveling around southern Iceland, the Seljavallalaug Pool, Iceland’s oldest, should not be missed. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and place that will stay with you forever. It’s just one of the many reasons why southern Iceland is one of the best spots on earth.