Esmé’s Portland Favorites

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We went to Portland a few months back, and Esmé had the time of her life. We had been before about a year ago, but obviously she didn’t remember it, nor was she as mobile and communicative. This year with her being a year older, I think she was able to enjoy it so much more than last year. Here are her top three favorites from our trip:

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Or ‘Water Countain,’ as she liked to call it.  The picture doesn’t do it justice, but it was absolutely massive. Similar to a waterfall, you could actually hear it before you see it. As Esmé told me when I got her out of the car, ‘I hear the countain mama! I hear the water countain!!’

There were steps on either side where you could climb all the way to the top and play in the part where the water is falling at the top. You could also climb down under some of those square platforms and swim around, which several kids were, while we were there.  I was trying to keep Esmé from doing exactly that, as she isn’t the best swimmer yet, and I was terrified she would get stuck under there and drown. In hindsight perhaps not the best water fountain for a toddler, but she LOVED it.

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Going to the farm is seriously one of our favorite things to do. There is a ton of room to run around and explore. There’s animals that you can often feed, and there’s generally food (for people) if there’s a gift shop area.

She made fast friends with the goats at the first farm we visited, by picking as many dandelions as she could to feed them. The chickens, however, she was not such a big fan of, and required me to hold her if we got within 10 feet of them.

Something that went down as a huge plus for me was the fact that this place was also a Christmas tree farm! Anyone who knows me knows that I am crazy about Christmas. We spent a lot of time wandering around and smelling that heavenly aroma.

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The other farm that we went to was a pick-your-own farm, which I thought was super cool. They had apples, tomatoes, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries while we were there. I think Esmé would have a tough time deciding which she enjoyed more, visiting the animals, or picking berries.

The best thing about all their berry bushes was that they didn’t have any thorns! We have a ton of blackberry bushes by our house that grow wild in the summer, but I dislike them for two reasons:  1) You are eaten alive by mosquitos and 2) you are then sliced to death by all the thorns on the bushes. So you can imagine how delighted I was to find these thorn-free bushes. I let Esmé run wild and pick to her hearts content.

Food

Esmé’s #1 favorite thing about Portland was the food. I am happy to say that we have, so far, raised a foodie. Home girl loves to eat just as much as her mama and papa. Actually, sometimes she will eat a bigger meal than we do, if you can believe it. Basically we ate our way through Portland. Here’s a sampling of what we ate…

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Just as glorious as it sounds. A fancified version of what you find at Auntie Anne’s at the mall.

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I don’t know if you guys have seen, or tried, those fancy Moonstruck chocolate bars that they sell in stores, but they actually had a shop near where we were staying. I never buy them because they’re expensive, but the reviews all said they had amazing hot chocolate.

I thought it would be the perfect rainy afternoon activity. Go in, share a cup of hot chocolate, not have to purchase super expensive chocolates, then head back to the hotel. I thought wrong.

I didn’t tell Esmé where we were going because as soon as you say the word ‘chocolate,’ she starts up with ‘I want some chocolate!!’ However, when I plugged the address into the gps in our rental, the wonderful navigation system announced ‘Routing to Moonstruck Chocolate Café.’ Esmé immediately responded with ‘Chocolate?? I want chocolate! Chocolate, Mama, Chocolate!!’ Now I had to buy her a piece of chocolate, thank you navigation lady.

When we got there, I ordered my hot chocolate, and let her pick something out (pink chocolate fish). We went to sit down to enjoy it, but as it turns out she didn’t like the hot chocolate. Then she only wanted more chocolate after finishing her piece. With all that sugar in her system, sitting with me while I sipped my drink was the last thing she wanted to do. She wanted to play with the door…opening and closing it, over and over again. She fell, and was then inconsolable, of course. I had to hurry and chug my very hot, hot chocolate, carry her out, and that was the end of that.

Not our best outing, but very good chocolates.

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You guys. This was the best chicken pot pie I have ever had in my entire life. I’m getting hungry just looking at this picture again. Esmé and I inhaled it, (she had to have the heart, of course), and then we also got a sweet mini pie for dessert. So so good.

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I’m sure you’ve probably heard of Voodoo donuts before. This place is crazy busy, but it’s well worth the wait. I have to say these donuts are the closest thing I have found to my favorite ones in Barcelona. The inside is so soft and chewy, and not overly sweet. You can actually taste a little bit of the yeast that goes into the dough because they’re so fresh. The one that I got had a custard filling with chocolate on top, or basically a Boston creme, which is my favorite. The custard was also not too sweet, just perfectly cool and creamy. The chocolate was divine. Just a teeny bit of a shell and then soft, sweet, and rich underneath. While Esmé very much enjoyed this one as well, I think it’s pretty obvious it was a favorite of mine too.

There you have it! Esmé’s favorite things: food, farms, and a water fountain, in that order.

Sunset Magic

October is one of my favorite months of the year because it is the start of the holiday season (for me), and it’s a time for believing in magic. Whether you love the magic of multiple aisles of candy at the stores, costumes from fantasy worlds afar, or the every day magic of the changing season, it’s a time of year that everyone can enjoy.

To celebrate, I thought I would share with you not only our favorite memory from our recent trip to Portland, but our own glimpse of magic… the perfect sunset!

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We had decided to take our first Saturday in Portland and drive out to Cannon Beach. The drive itself was unbelievable. Leaving Portland, it starts out with open meadows, and farmland nestled in between tree-clad hillsides. The contrast in colors of the straw-yellow, harvested fields, to the bright red barns, to the dark evergreen of the pines was gorgeous. Then of course you’ll also see hidden gems of golds and ruby reds peaking out from behind the giant evergreens. I literally spent the whole of the drive on the very edge of my seat, craning my neck all around trying to see it all.

As we got closer to the coast, we saw less open areas, and less deciduous trees of color, but much more coniferous. Indeed it felt very much like we were driving deep into a dense, dark, haunted forest. And we were! Until all of a sudden the coastline appears before you. I was completely taken by surprise.

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Here in North Carolina the landscape tends to get more sparse as you head towards the coast. The trees get shorter, are farther apart, and things look more, well, beachy. In Oregon the forest backs right up to the sea. It is the most amazing thing in the world. If you stand with your side towards the ocean, you can look straight down the beach and see mountains on one side, and ocean on the other.

By the time we had finished exploring Cannon Beach, and a little ways south down the coast, I told Emile that it looked like we might be able to see the sunset on the beach. He argued that the view would be better from atop a hill. I said no I think it would be much better to be at sea level, and he still insisted otherwise. I acquiesced.

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Esmé was happy because she got to run around in the grass. Mama and Papa were happy that it wasn’t the beach, where she would be eating, throwing, and smearing sand everywhere. She tried her darndest to channel Taylor Swift, but I told her no one was going to remember her staring at the sunset because she wasn’t standing. The song says nothing about running, it’s standing. Sheesh. Well I guess she wasn’t wearing a nice dress either. I digress.

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The evening looked promising. There was just enough cloud cover to display an array of colors, but not so much that it would block out the sun completely.

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Then the sun got lower, and more clouds rolled in. Now there was only a tiny gap in the clouds. We waited and waited, until I was sure that we had missed it because the sun had already missed the gap.

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All of a sudden the gap began to glow with a pale yellow light.

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It got brighter and brighter…

IMG_5419until the sun burst through the clouds in golden brilliance. I screamed over my shoulder ‘Husband! Husband! It’s here! We didn’t miss it!!’ and then just continued to say ‘wow’ over and over again, while taking as many pictures and snapchats as I could. I honestly have never witnessed a more spectacular sunset. Just behind those trees was a cliff that led down to the sea. The gap between those trees closer to us, and those farther away to the left was filled with mist from the waves rolling in, and the sunset actually lit the mist up in this soft orange glow, making it look like there was a fire.

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It illuminated the entire landscape with a rosy glow, so the grass looked greener, the mountains looked more purple, and Esmé looked like a magical fairy stuffed in a fleece jacket.

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Ok, ok. I know she doesn’t look that magical in this picture, but she did when she was running around, and the sunlight turned her hair into spun rose-gold curls. Emile caught a little bit of it on video here.

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Just as suddenly as the sun appeared, it tucked itself back into the clouds once more and disappeared for the evening, leaving the mountains (and us) to be enveloped by the evening mist. A truly magical, very October-ish, end to our perfect day.