Mini Apple Pies

People, 14 more days until it's acceptable to cover every item on your dinner plate in turkey gravy. Don't even act like you don't do it. In all the days of the year, Thanksgiving is the one day that it's appropriate for you to have a mound of potatoes and squash casserole on your plate the size of ant hills, to wear the loosest pants possible, and to nap at least two different times on the same day. At least those are all examples of a Harper Thanksgiving. Words can't express how excited I am to head back to Florida for nine days of sunshine (hopefully), family & friends, and all the turkey my little heart desires. 

To make things even more fun and memorable this year, Thomas's family is coming to Florida from Norway for Thanksgiving! This is their first American holiday experience, so I think it will be really cool for them to see what it's all about. I hope they brace for Chinet plates that are so heavy with turkey they start sagging! It's a hilarious/mildly disgusting competition between the men in my family every year to see who can eat the most. Do you remember that episode of Friend's when Joey eats the entire turkey and gets the meat sweats? Yep...that's my fam. Thomas was a contender last year, but I don't think he had prepared himself for what was in store. 

Tryptophan aside, this year with Thomas's family I foresee an epic corn hole competition, boat rides, good conversation, lots of laughs, and wine. Lots of it. My mom told me today that she bought 24 bottles of wine from her favorite winery just for Thanksgiving...ha. 

We obviously can't talk about giving thanks without pie being in the picture. I give thanks to the human who came up with the idea of mixing butter, sugar and apples into a serendipitous blend of sticky deliciousness. I mean come on. How does it get better than that?!

Thomas and I took a drive to Douglas farms last weekend and got the last of the Golden Delicious apples of the season. It's sad to say, but that was my first time picking apples. It was so fun! It's the perfect day date. I also found the cutest mini pie pans the day before, so of course I wanted to practice making pies for Thanksgiving. The pies turned out so cute! If you want to make this even easier, buy frozen pie crust. I know that´s cheating, but it´s still super tasty I promise. For these, I thawed the pie crust and ended up re-rolling it out so I could make the lattice. Obviously, homemade crust is best but if your short on time I would recommend frozen pie crust that you can roll out yourself.

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Mini Apple Pies

Ingredients
-4 pounds of Golden Delicious apples (honey crisp, gala, or any other variety would do as well)
-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
-3 tablespoons bourbon
-1 tablespoon vanilla extract
-4 tablespoons unsalted butter
-1/3 cup white granulated sugar
-1/3 cup brown sugar
-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
-2 rolled out pie crusts (I just needed enough for 4 mini pie pans)
-1 egg (for the egg wash)

What to do
1) peel the apples and slice about 1/4 inch thick. Toss with the lemon juice, bourbon, and vanilla extract.
2) melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the apples and sugars. Cook, stirring until the sugar dissolves and the liquid starts to simmer. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the apples soften and the mixture thickens, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool completely.


                                                                                    

 

 

For the Crust:
1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
 2) Rub butter on the insides of the pie pans. Roll out the 2 dough pieces on a floured surface until it's about a 12 inch round. Place the mini pan pans face down and cut around the edges, leaving a little room. Flip the pans over and either crimp the sides using your thumb and forefinger or use a fork to press down the sides.
3) Fill with the cooled apple mixture.
4) Follow this article by Saveur on how to make lattice for the tops of the pies
-OR-
Cut out a little top and fit and pinch into the sides. Cut slits to let out the steam.
5) Brush the tops with the whisked egg wash and bake roughly 45 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.
HAPPY BAKING!

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Boozy Pumpkin White Hot Chocolate

Since I was little, Halloween has been such a fun holiday for me. My mom would throw amazing parties and our garage would be turned into a scary haunted house donned with webs, fake spiders and bats, and scary creatures hiding in every corner. In the days aproaching the party, we would carve intricate pumpkins (she would end up doing all of it) and watching scary movies. It's obligatory to watch Hocus Pocus at least 3 times every October.

15 years later not much has changed :)

It's the day before Halloween and I feel like i've milked everything out of the month of October that I can. We've carved pumpkins, went to the corn maze, drank pumpkin beer, ate pumpkin treats, watched a scary movie pretty much every day, and to top it off we went to a halloween party Friday. Halloween isn't a big holiday in Norway, so I've turned Thomas into a little ghoul and he loves it now too! At least he pretends he does and amuses me. 

Normally I do elaborate halloween costumes, but this year I decided to just create a cool look with makeup and wear normal clothes. Let me tell you, last year was quite the sight trying to go to the bathroom in my costume. I was Dexter's victim completely wrapped in plastic wrap so you can only imagine what that looked like. This year we decided to do skeletons and it ended up turning out pretty good! I was a little worried in the beginning when I was doing Thomas's make-up because he started out lookng like a giant panda and for a minute I couldn't stop laughing. After some shadowing and details it came out great. We danced our bones off all night and had such a good time! 

Since Friday we've been so lazy and that's perfectly alright with me. Bundled up watching scary movies, nothing seems more fitting than hot chocolate. Better yet...BOOZY hot chocolate. It's the perfect sweet treat made with white chocolate, milk, pumpkin purée, pumpkin pie spice, bourbon and topped with whipped cream, caramel, and in our case black and orange sprinkles. The bourbon we used is by Bull Run Distillery here in Portland. You can also use Kalua or whatever you fancy instead of bourbon!

I hope all of you ghosts, ghouls, and goblins have a spooktacular Halloween!

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Boozy Pumpkin White Hot Chocolate  
Adapted from Minimalist Baker

 Ingredients
 -1/2 cup white chocolate (I prefer to use a higher quality white chocolate like Giradelli's) 
 -2.5 cups milk (I used 2%)
 -1/4 cup pumpkin puree
 -1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
 -1 oz of Bourbon 
-whipped cream and caramel as toppings (orange and black sprinkles are fun as well!) 

What to do
1) In a saucepan over low-medium heat, melt the chocolate chips in the milk, whisking often.
2) Once melted, stir in the pumpkin pie spice and the pumpkin purée and mix vigorously until incorporated. 
3) Pour 1 oz of bourbon into each glass and top with the hot chocolate mixture. Stir and then top with whipped cream and your toppings of choice.  

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Marshmallow Stout Brownies // Feast Portland

It's officially Fall and I couldn't be more excited! If you know me at all you know that I am completely obsessed with Halloween and the entire month of October. The leaves are bright orange and red here in Portland, the air is crisp, and the rainy season is upon us. We experienced the first rainy day when we attended Feast Portland a couple of weekends ago. The weather was cold and wet, but that didn't stop people from enjoying the 40+ events that were happening all around Portland. Presented by Bob Appétit, Feast is more than just a food and drink festival. It was named the "best food festival in the country" by Thrillist and has raised more than $230,000 for charities like Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon. 

Obviously I was in heaven. We had wine holsters that hung around our necks so you could be hands free (genius!) We got to try little bites from local vendors and restaurants that are scattered across the PNW. Bakeries, breweries, chocolatiers, cheese makers, wineries, and chefs from all across the country were cranking out their best and we most certainly took advantage. We even got the chance to try Langbaan Chef  Earl Ninsom's creation which was amazing since it takes months to get a reservation at the actual restaurant. We practically had to roll ourselves out of the tent at the end of the day!

At Base Camp's  stand they toasted a mallow on a stick right there in front of you to go with their imperial stout that they had on draft. Roasted ooey-gooey perfection. I wanted to create that same thing in brownie form because... why the heck wouldn't I?! Base Camp S'more stout, brown butter, fudgy brownies, marshmallow fluff - the gangs all here! Make these bad boys on a dreary day when you need a little sweet treat to cheer you up. Cheers to Base Camp for inspiring me and making our tummies happy!

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Marshmallow Stout Brownies

What to do
-Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. 
-In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, and salt.
-Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pot of boiling water.
-In a small pan over medium heat, melt and brown the butter until it just turns golden, about 5 minutes. Pour the brown butter into the chocolate and stir until combined. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir in the stout. 
-In a separate medium bowl, whisk together eggs and sugars until thick. Add the chocolate mixture and whisk to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until all of the ingredients are well combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.
-Pour 1/2 of the batter into the prepared pan before adding a layer or swirl of marshmallow fluff. Add the rest of the batter on top and bake for 20-25 minutes until the edges are firm. I like mine fudgier so bake longer if you like them more cakey. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the pan before slicing.

Enjoy! 

-Hill and Thomas

Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup stout or any dark beer
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Marshmallow fluff

Brie Stuffed Burgers with Grilled Corn and Peach Salsa

I don't know how I'm writing about burgers after the amount I ate over 4th of July weekend. It's hilarious after we gorge ourselves over a holiday, the following week we are all of a sudden health nuts. I've been downing lemon water by the gallons, not eating carbs, and warding off alcohol. But who am I kidding.. the 4th was on Monday and I'm going to happy hour today. ha!  I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday by surrounding themselves with family and friends, sparklers, flag shaped foods, and all things red, white, and blue. When I think of  the 4th, I think of Flagler Beach in Florida where I've spent every July for most of my life. The day is always spent lounging on the beach and playing in the waves before heading up as the sun is setting with salty hair and sandy toes to eat bbq. It's honestly the best. To keep with the family traditions, Thomas and I made baby backs one night with all sides you can image related to bbqing and burgers the next. Not just any burgers though. They were gooey oozy brie stuffed burgers with grilled corn and peach salsa made from produce from the farmer's market. It doesn't get much more drool worthy than that. I also got the fluffiest and butteriest of buns from the Pearl Bakery stand at the PSU farmer's market. I originally saw this burger made by Tieghan over at Half Baked Harvest and I instantly wanted to give them a try. Happy grilling everyone!

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Brie Stuffed Burgers with Grilled Corn and Peach Salsa

Recipe from Half Baked Harvest 

Ingredients
Burger
-1½ pounds ground beef
-6-8 ounces Brie, rind removed if desired + cubed
-1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
-4 slices cooked bacon (optional)
-4 hamburger buns, toasted

Sweet Chili Mayo
-½ cup good quality mayo
-1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
-2 tablespoons Thai Sweet Chili Sauce (I added a little extra)
-2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
-pinch of salt + pepper

Grilled Corn Salsa
-2 ears grilled corn
-1 peach, diced
-4-8 cherries, pitted + diced (optional)
-1 jalapeno, seeded + diced
-juice of half a lemon
-1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
-pinch of salt

What to do
For the burgers, Half Baked Harvest uses a burger press, but since i'm sure a lot of people don't have one of those I'll share the good old fashioned way! I put my beef in a large mixing bowl and seasoned with salt and pepper. I grabbed a pretty big handful, split it in two and flattened them each out. On one half, place the brie cheese right in the middle and then put the other half of the patty on top. Crimp the sides and flatten out to make sure the brie is tucked away in there good :) Drizzle each patty with Worcestershire sauce. Cover and place in the fridge while you prepare the mayo and salsa.
To make the mayo: combine the mayo, lemon juice, sweet Thai chili sauce, basil and a pinch of salt + pepper. Mix to combine. Keep covered in the fridge until ready to serve.
To make the salsa: add the corn, peach, cherries (if using), jalapeno, lemon, basil and a pinch of salt to a bowl. Toss well to combine.
When ready to cook the burgers, preheat the grill to medium high heat (Thomas is always the grill master, so I don't partake in this part much). Once hot, grill your        burgers until they reach your desired doneness. To serve, spread a little mayo on the bottom of your toasted buns, top with the patty, and then the salsa! Enjoy :)

Sauvie Island // Strawberry Tart

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On Memorial Day, most people are out on the boat, floating down a river drinking beer, or grilling out poolside. What did we do? We picked strawberries. Not just any strawberries though. The kind of strawberries that taste like they've been coated in sugar and are dripping with juice before you even pull them off of their little green bush. It might sound like something a 60 year-old couple that wears shade hats and fanny packs would do, but I can't think of anything better. When you first get to Sauvie Island, there's a strawberry farm right off of the highway that EVERYONE in their mother goes to. It was way over crowded, so we kept on driving for a few miles and came across Sauvie Island Farms. It was picturesque and there was hardly any people which was amazing. We grabbed our cardboard box and got to picking. It's hard to get the box full because for every strawberry you pick, you also pop one in your mouth. I couldn't believe how many bees there were! It sounded like cars whizzing by since there was so many over our head. 

Once we picked enough to fill our box and our hands were sticky and coated with strawberry juice and dirt we called it quits and headed home to make a strawberry tart. I had in my head something completely different when I wanted to make a tart, but what came out ended up being SO much better. Have you ever watched Chef's Table on Netflix? If you haven't then I highly recommend it. In the first season, Massimo Bottura creates a dessert called "Oops, I dropped the lemon tart". One day he dropped the lemon tart he was making and it ended up looking so cool that he decided to keep it that way. It's kind of how our strawberry tart turned out! It wasn't very pretty but it tasted incredible. We made a crust, baked it and filled it with the fresh strawberries, and then made a strawberry reduction and sabayon sauce to go on top. As I'm writing this I just had the urge to hop in my car to go pick strawberries just so I can justify making that sabayon sauce again and slurping it right out of the bowl. No judgement right? Any who, even though there is several steps to making this dessert, it is super easy and so worth it. We cheated and bought vanilla ice cream from Trader Joe's, but if you made your own that would make it even better. Scroll down for the recipes and enjoy!!!

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Strawberry Tart

For the Crust: Recipe from Food & Wine

Ingredients
6 ounces bleached all-purpose flour (1 1/4 cups)
1 stick cold unsalted butter—5 tablespoons cut into 1/4-inch dice, the rest left whole
1/4 cup cold plain whole yogurt (not Greek-style)
1/2 teaspoon salt

What to do

  1. Measure the flour into a glass or ceramic bowl and freeze for 15 minutes. Freeze the 3-tablespoon-size chunk of butter for 15 minutes. Put the 5 tablespoons of diced butter on a plate and refrigerate for 15 minutes. In a glass measuring cup, combine the yogurt and salt with 1 tablespoon of cold water and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  2. Using a pastry blender or two butter knives, cut the diced butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Using your hands, rub the mixture between your hands until all of the fat is evenly distributed and the mixture resembles fine oat flakes. Using a sharp knife or a cheese plane, very thinly slice the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter and freeze the slices for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the butter slices to the bowl. Toss gently to separate the slices and cut once or twice to combine them with the flour; the slices should remain cold and intact. Drizzle the cold yogurt into the bowl, using a rubber spatula to stir and toss as you drizzle. Continue tossing the dough, scraping any off the spatula and the side of the bowl, until it is crumbly and evenly moistened. Press the dough into a 6-inch disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours or overnight. 
  4. I believe the term is "blind baking" since we are baking the crust until it's golden brown before filling it with any of the fruit. 
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degree, poke holes with a fork in the dough to prevent air pockets, and then bake in the oven until golden brown, around 10-15 minutes. 

Strawberry Sauce


Ingredients
1 lb. strawberries, washed, hulled & sliced
¼ cup sugar-adjust more or less to your preference
½ lemon, juiced
a little lemon zest
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

What to do
1. Combine all of the ingredients in a small pot and place over medium heat. 
2. Bring to a boil and cook over medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes and serve hot!

Sabayon

Ingredients
6 egg yolks
2 tbls white wine
1/3 cup sugar, plus more to taste
Drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice 

What to do
1. Whisk to blend the yolks and sugar in the stainless-steel bowl. Rest the bowl in the saucepan over hot water. Whisk constantly for 4 to 5 minutes, until it has the consistency of lightly whipped cream. Clear the bottom of the bowl constantly with the whisk so that the eggs do not scramble, and adjust the heat as needed. Taste the sauce — the sabayon should never get so hot that you can't stick your finger in it — and whisk wine and drops of lemon juice or more sugar if you want. When thick, foamy, and tripled in volume, remove from heat. It can be served hot as is, tepid, or cool.

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Sweet Spot // Salt & Straw

When we first moved to NW 23rd Ave and I walked down the street for the first time to go to the cute little boutiques, I stopped right in my tracks when I smelled sweet waffle cones wafting from all directions. It is honestly the most mouth watering smell, which is only ONE of the many things that gets you hooked to Salt & Straw.  

 

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Kim and Tyler Malek, the cousin duo and founders of Salt & Straw, use only local ingredients and create innovative favors based on what's going on seasonally or special events happening that month. Some of the off the wall combinations that are best sellers on their menu include Pear with Blue Cheese, Strawberry Honey Balsalmic with Black pepper, or Arbequina Olive Oil. Although they sound crazy, the flavors are subtle and absolutely delicious. But don't you worry, they also have those classic ice cream concoctions like Chocolate Gooey Brownie, Cinnamon Snickerdoodle, or my favorite Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons. OH. MY. GAWD. 

 On top of having the most amazing, flavor packed, small batch ice cream they also do something special while you wait in line... they give you samples of AS MANY FLAVORS AS YOU WANT. So whether that be only 1 or 10, you can try as many as possible on these cute little spoons until you find the perfect one for you. That's probably why the line is wrapped around the building 9/10 when you go by.

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If Thomas and I are ever too lazy to wait in line, we always skip ahead and grab one of their pints!

Salt & Straw + couch + favorite show = pure bliss

It's only a few of their most popular, but the Sea Salt with Caramel is always there...so I'm set!

Salt & Straw has three shops in Portland – NE Alberta, NW 23rd and SE Division. They are also expanding into Los Angelas. I was actually just in the Arts District this past weekend and heard they are opening up a shop there. I'm a little bummed to be honest because I thought it would just be a "Portland thing", but I guess it's better to share the love. 

Now go grab an ice cream cone and enjoy the sticky, drippy, deliciousness! 

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Oneonta Gorge

Someone at work the other day said "I saw your blog!" and I thought 'Oh yeah, I do have one of those'! I'm sorry I've been so neglectful. I sit in front of a computer everyday for hours on end at work, so when I get home I'm not to keen to look at screens any longer. But I'm making it a new goal to at least post once every week or two. I can ditch one Game of Thrones episode to make a little room for a blog post ;) If you haven't watched Game of Thrones you are missing out!! HBO GO has been the greatest thing ever lately...or it's ruined my life however you want to look at it lol. I could watch Game, Girls, or True Detective forever if I didn't stop myself. 

I promise I don't only watch TV :) On the weekends we try and get out as much as possible and explore this beautiful state we're living in. A few weeks back we went to Oneonta Gorge. It is truly one of the must see "wonders" of the U.S. It's located in the Columbia River Gorge about an hour outside of Portland. When we went it was still pretty chilly out on a daily basis, but we went on a sunny day so it wasn't as brutal. The cool thing about Oneonta is that the stream is the trail that leads you to the waterfall at the end.  I looked on Instagram the morning of our adventure and saw other people's posts about Oneonta. The pictures were absolutely beautiful but everyone was saying there's a portion of the stream that you have to wade through! I knew it was going to be freezing but we decided to go for it! At the beginning of the trail you have to climb over a big heap of fallen trees. It was a little nerve racking at first because the trees are a little slippery and if you misstep you could really hurt yourself I'm sure! Because there were a few obstacles, It made the hike a lot more quiet and peaceful since there wasn't so many people. Once we made it over the mountain of trees we stepped our toes into the frigid water!

I'm being dramatic, the water wasn't that cold but it sure as hell took my breath when I had to swim through it! There's a curve of the tail right before the waterfall where the water gets pretty deep. A thought I could just casually wade through the deep part, but I'm so short that the water came all the  way up to my chest! When the water hit me It took my breath and all I wanted to do was go faster to get through it so I just started swimming lol. I felt so bad for the girls behind me, yet I was dying laughing. One of he girls tried to scale the rock wall and go around the deep pool, but she lost her footing and went crashing into the water! Poor girl was screaming haha. 

The waterfall was absolutely beautiful. The deep shadows of the gorge mixed with rays of sunlight peeking through made it such a unique experience. With our toes completely numb and permanent goosebumps embedded into our skin, we slowly made our way back down the trail. After hilariously trying to change out of our wet clothes by wrapping a towel around each other on the side of the road, we stretched out in the sun to dry out. All Portlanders, Oregonians, and future travelers Oneonta Gorge is a MUST SEE.

More adventures coming! I'll try not to slack this month ;)

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Saturday's in Portland

The weather has been pretty much perfect every weekend since I've been in Portland. Occasionally there's sporadic showers, but I'm seriously loving this climate! The air is crisp and cool which makes it so much nicer to spend the day walking outside in the spring and summer. I went back to Atlanta this past weekend for training and I was amazed at how muggy it already was! I can get use to having these kind of summers :)   

Saturday's in Portland are great. Actually...pretty much every day on the weekend is great. If the sun is out everyone is either biking or hiking, shopping, brunching, and lets be honest, drinking! Portland is so fun and lively and if you're a people watcher like I am then you're in for a real treat lol. You see such a mix of people walking on the streets. 

Last Saturday I took my camera and headed to downtown. My first stop was the Saturday Market. There's hundreds of tents selling clothing, jewelry, artwork, and nicknacks. I ended up buying these cute succulents that I've been wanting forever. They're so easy to keep alive and take care of! My favorite part of the Saturday market is the street performers. Some of these people are so talented. This one painter was making art from spray paint and I was shocked at how beautiful and precise they were turning out. There's so many food carts and beer stands around, so if you want awesome free entertainment take a seat in the square and soak it up! You'll also see some craziness which is always fun lol.  

If you're ever visiting Portland, obviously you're going to go to Voodoo Donuts. It's a Portland craze and staple. However, avoid going on the weekend at ALL COSTS! I'm sorry I don't care how great a donut might be but there's no way I would stand in line for 2 hours. They have 3 locations, so if you have to go on a weekend, avoid the downtown location. I walked by Voodoo on my way to get coffee and there's a double line wrapped around the building!  

My next stop was the famous Stumptown Coffee Roasters. Portlanders are snobs about a few things I've learned. Coffee, beer, wine, and food which I am all onboard with! You should never go to Starbucks if you're in Portland. There is so many great coffeeshops and Stumptown leads the pack. According to the New York Times, "Stumptown is the leader. They're cutting edge.", when referring to the "third wave" of coffee evangelists. I got the classic cappuccino and sat by myself in the shop and listened to throw-back 80's rap from the record player in the corner. So random. I'm not sure why they were playing that lol. 

I finished my day off by browsing Powell's City of Books. This bookstore is the largest new and used bookstore in the world and it makes my heart happy. I've always loved roaming around the local Barnes and Noble back home...that doesn't have anything on this place. You could spend hours crusing through the aisles on 5 different stories! They provide a map and you'll definitely need it. My main goal for this visit to Powell's was to browse through the rare book collection. It has it's own little dark room on the fifth floor with cute little antique lamps. You feel like you're in the hogwarts library haha. The oldest book in this room is a print of The Jewish War by Flavius Josephus from the 1400's. You can purchase it for $12,000. So cool to see something that old and special. 

I have a lot more exploring to do of Portland, but I feel like I'm off to a good start :) 

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I'm A Pacific Northwesterner

I'll always be a Florida girl at heart but I can officially call Oregon my new home away from home. I've been here a little over a month and I am utterly in love. Of course I'm homesick, as any girl would be who is living thousands of miles away from her family and friends, but I couldn't imagine being anywhere else right now. I'm sorry for my lack of updating. Since the moment I've moved it's been nothing but ikea building, job-starting, Portland exploring madness. 

Having my mom move me here was wonderful. Although it was a tearful goodbye, she made the big move so much easier. We spent our days putting together Ikea furniture and exploring the city, and our nights eating dinner and drinking wine on the floor. I can't wait for her and the rest of the fam to get back up here!  

My blog posts have been sparse lately due to the fact that when I get home from work I just want to flop down on the couch and become immobile haha. I wake up at 6 am and normally don't get home until around 5:30 pm so it's quite a long day. Although the days are long I absoultely love my job. The people I work with are fun and fantastic and the work environment is fast paced and changing everyday which is perfect for me. I work on the 38th floor of the tallest building in Portland, so my view is incredible. Having a big-girl job is pretty great afterall ;)

I'll spare you the gushy talk, but being near Thomas is perfect. We spend our weeknights going for runs and walks around my neighborhood, cooking together, and watching our favorite shows. Our weekends are normally pretty packed because there is so much to do!! Even if we're here for a couple years it's hard to imagine getting to do everything we want. We've been to Mt. Hood and the Oregon coast, but there is still Mount St. Helens, tons of trails and waterfalls I want to see, several hot springs, and more of the coast. Portland is overflowing with amazing restaurants, sweet shops, breweries, bars, and boutiques. I'm trying to save money but it's so hard in this town! I'll do a post coming up of a few great places I've already been to. 

Today I'm off to take some pictures of Portland to blow up and hang on my walls :) I hope everyone has an amazing weekend. XO

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Beitostølen Ski Weekend

Our last weekend in Norway we headed North for a ski weekend in Beitostølen with two other couples. The biggest snowfall all month happened that weekend, so I was preparing for a winter wonderland and sugar powder slopes. That's exactly what we got! When Thomas's friend pulled up to his family cabin it was the cutest thing in the world. A rustic wooden cabin with a wrap around porch and pristine views of the mountains we would be skiing down in the upcoming days. We immediately started up the wood burning stove because it was freezing! It's amazing how fast those heat up a room. If it's burning for too long you'll be sweating! After we got settled, we put on our cross-country ski gear. I have to say, I'm pretty proud of myself. When Thomas first took me cross-country skiing when I got to Norway I was pretty bad. Norwegians are born with ski's on their feet, so I think it's expected for an American to be awful lol. Cross country skiing takes a lot more skill and technique than downhill skiing. So after I practiced three or four times I was prepared for this weekend when other people would be watching me haha. The area we skied around his cabin was absolutely beautiful. That night we sat around drinking and playing Norwegian charades. Poor Thomas had me on his team so they had to give us extra time so he could explain the word in English! haha I was definitely the weakest link. We went to bed at a decent hour because in the morning we were heading to the slopes for downhill!

I've been downhill skiing two other times in my life, but I was still really nervous! I knew it would take me a couple rounds to get back in the swing of things...and I was right. First off let me tell you about the ski lift. The other times I went skiing the lift was like a bench that ,picked you up. Well this one was not. This one was like a plate thing that you put in between your legs and it would propel you forward. Thomas didn't explain to me how it worked, so with a line of about 50 people behind me I go up to the lift, put the plate thing in between my legs and go to sit. All of a sudden I'm being dragged with my ski's going everywhere and people yelling "LET GO"! haha  so embarrassing. You're not suppose to sit apparently. The plate thing rests on your butt and the line propels you forward. So once that catastrophe happened everything was good to go ;) Being on top of the mountains was absolutely amazing. We were above the clouds, the sun was shining, and the slopes had soft powdery snow. I was so sore afterwards though! It puts your body through a lot. Especially if you fall a few times lol

So after a long day of skiing, came the part I've been hearing all about...AFTER SKI. After skiing, people go in their ski clothes to a bar. Since drinks are so expensive in Norway, we went back to the cabin for a little bit. We drank our Jagermeister  that had been chilling in the snow for days. After we all started being silly we walked to "after ski". It was the most fun ever. It was so nice that nobody cared what they looked like! I shook my booty in baggy ski pants all night ;) It was such an incredible weekend and I can't wait to get back on the slopes again. 

I'm Participating in Travel Tuesday over at A Compass Rose. Go check out the adventures that other bloggers are having :)

Cabin Getaway in Norway

I love how in Norway most families have a cabin. It's a place where you can escape on the weekends with family and friends to ski in winter or soak up the sun in the summer. It's usually up in the mountains or in a more secluded place in the woods or on a lake. Thomas's family cabin is right on the edge of a big beautiful lake.

The day we arrived, the temperature dropped and we got a huge snowfall. There's nothing more beautiful than the fresh white snow coating the trees and the rooftops. Their cabin is a TRUE cabin lol. In the summer the water comes from the lake for showers etc., but in the winter time it's a whole new ballgame. They took an ax to the lake close to the shore and we had to scoop up the water and then use it to wash dishes or heat up to wash ourselves. It's kind of fun to do it for a few days but I couldn't do it much longer than that lol. 

First things first we had to get food to stock the fridge for the weekend. A lot of Norwegians head over the Swedish border in order to save money on things such as alcohol and meat, so that's exactly what we did! The Swedish border is only an hour from the cabin, and even though we didn't see much of Sweden I wanted to say that I've been there! Now I've been to all of Scandinavia :)  We got a lot of food for rib-sticking meals like Cabbage, potato, and sausage soup and oxtail stew. It's so cozy to sit in front of the wood burning stove eating comfort food. 

We spent our days ice skating on the lake and riding the "kicker". Being a Florida girl I've never seen much snow much less walked and skated on a frozen lake! Such a cool experience. We went from one end to the other telling stories and showing off our pirouette skills ;) We were in one in-depth conversation and all of sudden the toe of my skate got stuck and I went down hard lol. Complete face plant. Slightly embarrassing haha. So instead of getting up, we both just laid on the snow and ice and took it all in. 

Also, you can't stay in a cabin and not play board and card games. Our nights were spent playing Yahtzee and Othello and getting drunk of cheap white wine. I have to say though, he had an unfair advantage because Yahtzee was in Norwegian. That's the only reason he won ;) 

The one thing I'm sad about is the fact that I didn't see a moose :( We rode around at dusk to try and spot one but no luck. We did see a few deer though so that was nice! Overall it was a perfect  weekend getaway and I can't wait to go back in the summertime.

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I'm participating in #WeekendWanderlust over at A Brit and A Southerner 
Go over and check it out!! Have a great weekend. XO