I took a week-long blog break to celebrate Christmas in Oregon with my family. I spent a little bit of time on Facebook and Twitter, but at a greatly reduced amount. It was so refreshing to hop off the Internet, even if it was only briefly! Here’s what we were up to:
Saturday: We flew out Saturday night and arrived a little after 8pm. The house was all decked out in Christmas cheer!
The fireplace decor (note the kitty stocking on the right for my parents’ cat Emma)
The Dickens Village
But we were both pretty tired because of the time difference (there’s a 2 hour difference between Minneapolis and Portland) so we only chatted for a little bit before heading to bed.
Sunday: Since I’m now gluten free, my parents weren’t really prepared for my new dietary needs so top priority was going grocery shopping. We meal planned for the week and then Erik, my dad and I went to the big, cheap grocery store and then to the small, expensive natural foods grocery store. In the afternoon, Erik and my dad went out to a couple of brewpubs, and my mom and I went do some last-minute Christmas shopping. After we were done, we all met up with my brother at a Thai restaurant for dinner.
Monday: Oregon is well-known for its rain and this week was no exception, but Monday was surprisingly rain-free! It was pretty warm too — in the upper 50s.
Proof that it didn’t rain the entire time
My mom, Erik and I spent the day around Portland: first we stopped by a local beer store before having lunch at Burgerville (sort of Oregon’s version of In-N-Out), visited Pier 1 Imports to pick up a few things for my mom, and then went to the Saturday Market in Portland, which was open the 12 days before Christmas. They call it the Festival of the Last Minute! Then we went over to the Pearl District to get coffee at Peet’s Coffee and visit Powell’s Bookstore. I had the hardest time deciding what to get and ended up getting a book called Thinking, Fast and Slow. That evening, Erik and I went out to dinner with two of my childhood best friends and their significant others. It was so fun catching up!
Tuesday: Erik and I were on our own for the day. Our first stop was a beer store in Southeast Portland, and then we went over to North Portland for some exploring. We had lunch at Por Que No, Tacos? and then wandered up and down a stretch of North Mississippi, and then finished with ice cream at Ruby Jewel’s. They had a couple of festive flavors, like peppermint chocolate ganache and eggnog, so I got both. I think I’m the only person I know who actually likes egg nog! We were “in charge” of dinner, making our “famous” macaroni and cauliflower cheesebake. But we forgot a couple ingredients on Sunday so we stopped by a local grocery store, and I happened to run into another childhood friend who I hadn’t seen since college! I love chance encounters like that.
Tuesday night was our big Christmas festivity night out in Portland, so after dinner we drove over to the Grotto for the Festival of Lights. The Grotto is owned by the Catholic Church and they do a huge light display. Some of it tells the story of Jesus’ birth, and some of it are just lights decorating trees and plants. They have a big nativity scene in the grotto, which is an alcove in a rock face. They also have a small chapel where choirs from around the Portland area sing Christmas songs.
The nativity scene
Then we drove over to the Victorian Belle mansion, which is known for their million lights display. But when we got there, it was almost closed and it also looked completely different than it did when I was growing up! It was very disappointing. So we continued on to Peacock Lane, which is a street in Southeast Portland that has every house decorated in really neat Christmas decorations. Some are very elaborate, but a few are a little less spectacular. But it’s still really awesome to look at, and you can tell how popular it is since cars line up to drive down it.
A Dr. Seuss inspired house
Wednesday: Christmas Eve! It was a pretty lazy day. I made gluten-free sugar cookies using a Betty Crocker box and they came out really well! While I did that, we watched The Muppet Christmas Carole which is a tradition of ours. I love that movie! Later in the afternoon we went to Imago Dei Community Church, the church I attended in Portland and one of the pastors officiated our wedding. It was a very sweet, simple service with some sermons, a little performance by some kids about the birth of Jesus, and a little sermon about the gift of Christ.
After a yummy dinner, it was time for presents! My dad likes doing presents in the evening because he says Christmas looks prettier at night. My haul was awesome! My parents gave me a Manduka eQua hot yoga towel, a Nathan’s Intensity hydration vest, yoga pants and two tank tops from Athleta, and a sweater from Madewell. Erik got me a really cute print that says “I am a grown-ass lady and I do what I want!”, and a balaclava, winter running tights and Yaktrax. My brother gave me a special edition DVD of Star Trek: First Contact (one of my favorite movies!) and a gift card to Bed Bath and Beyond. We also got a Macy’s gift card from my grandmother.
Thursday: Christmas day was pretty quiet. Erik made Paleo lemon and blueberry muffins, and then we opened our stocking stuffers. I got tights, some candy, a journal, and a gift card for Powell’s (they ship) and Starbucks. We were in charge of Christmas dinner — and by we, I mean Erik — so Erik got the short ribs ready in the crockpot (another go-to recipe for us) before heading to the theater to see The Imitation Game. But when we got there, it was sold out! Instead of going to another theater, we decided to just head home and spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing. Erik finished making dinner by roasting some carrots and dates.
Afterward we played Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries. It’s only designed for 3 people, so we had to play on teams, with my parents on one, Erik and I on another, and my brother was his own team. Don’t feel too bad though, he won! The game is all about secrecy, so it was really hard playing on a team and trying to communicate in code. It was pretty funny!
Friday: We had a lazy Friday morning, but then in the early afternoon we went to see The Imitation Game. It was so good, but also really sad. I won’t ruin the movie for you, though, but I definitely recommend it. Our big plan for the day was to go out to dinner, which my other grandmother paid for. We went to a restaurant in downtown Portland called Jake’s Famous Crawfish which is over 100 years old! The food was delicious. I can’t believe it took us so long to go there.
Saturday: Our last day. Sad face. We didn’t do much more than pack and hang around the house, which was good because it was raining pretty hard!
And now we’re home! We did a Christmas dinner with my mother-in-law on Sunday night, But not for long… less than one month until Mexico!!
What did you get for Christmas? Anything good?