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cinco de mayo!

We had such a blast this past weekend :] There was a huge Cinco de Mayo festival at the waterfront park, so Burton & I rode our bikes over the Willamette River into downtown to check it out. They were giving away free sombreros in an attempt to break the world record for most sombreros worn at an event. Only in Portland, right? Even the police officers were wearing them! I laughed my butt off watching Burton find a creative solution for getting our giant sombreros back home by bike :] Needless to say, it was an awesome day - nachos & tacos, sombreros & bike rides, beautiful weather & bridges. I just love this city :]

banana "nice" cream - YUM!

If you haven't heard of banana "nice" cream yet, I'm about to change your life. This is the best tasting healthy treat I've ever had & the main ingredient is simply frozen bananas! After watching this video, I thought it would be worth a shot & bought a food processor. I AM SO GLAD I DID! It actually tastes just like ice cream & it's FRUIT! You can also change the flavor by adding cocoa, nutella, or peanut butter to it. Seriously, if somebody handed me a cup of this stuff, I would think it's actual ice cream.

Here's the recipe I like to follow:
  • 3 chopped up frozen bananas
  • 3 tbsp. creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • Dash of cinnamon
Blend & enjoy! This will make two heaping portions. Do yourself a favor & try it :]

springtime in oregon!

I am LOVING the spring season in Oregon! The weather is amazing, the days are getting so long, & so many flowers are in bloom! Everyone always talks about foliage in the fall, but I hadn't really thought about how all the plants just "spring" back to life after winter ;] It felt like the saturation in the city was kicked up a notch practically overnight. Needless to say, we've been hiking ever single weekend this past month. Above are a couple photos from hiking around the Columbia Gorge with Burton's co-worker, Andrew, & his fiance, Lisa.

A couple weekends ago, we hiked the Silver Falls trail for the first time. 10 waterfalls in 10 miles! It was glorious. About half of the waterfalls were over 150 feet & the trail actually took you behind many of them. There's always something magical about getting that close to a waterfall.

This was our lunch time picnic spot. Not bad, right? ;] We did this hike with our friends, Maggie & Walker, who also moved here last summer. We were introduced to them by a mutual friend, Jody, who lives in Boston. I had met Jody on my trip to Israel & Maggie knew her from a study abroad program in Chile! It's crazy how small this world is.

Here was the final waterfall of our trip. We finished the day at Hair of the Dog brewing. If I could describe my perfect day, it would be really similar to this one :]

Last weekend, we hiked near Mt. Hood along the Old Salmon River trail. Unfortunately, this is the only photo I have from that hike - sometimes you just get too caught up in the moment to snap a picture. We hiked with our friends, Lindsay & Ian, who we were also introduced to through Jody. Crazy, right?! Turns out Jody's boyfriend has been really great friends with Ian since high school. Thank goodness for Jody!

To be honest, I was nervous I'd get homesick in Oregon, considering we didn't know anybody prior to moving out here. All we had were just a few vague mentions of somebody who knows somebody who also lives in Portland. But we absolutely adore every single person we've met out here & I'm so grateful for these friendships that are being built. June 13th will be our first anniversary of being Oregonians & I can't believe a year has already flown by! I'm looking forward to many more years spent in this beautiful state with these wonderful people :]

hello again!

Whew! The past few weeks have just FLOWN by & I have been a busy bumblebee.
Here are some recent snippets via Instagram:

Feeling incredible post-workout! I'm so proud of how far I've come in my weight loss journey :]
We picked up a treat for Myla while out for a stroll & she carried it the whole way home!!

"Just because" tulips Burton picked up on his way home from work. Love that fella!
I sometimes make smart outfit choices in the morning & can't resist a shameless selfie ;]

Blueberry pancakes & sour ale for our beer/food pairing of the month!
Enjoying time with Portland's newest FL transplant, Jessica :]

Decemberists wall mural!

Somebody painted a giant mural of The Decemberists' newest album cover just a couple blocks away from our gym! I couldn't resist taking some photos with it after one of our workouts :] The day we took these pictures was extra special because we saw them in concert just a few hours later! Needless to say, they ROCKED IT. It was magical seeing them perform in their hometown - which is now our hometown! God, I love LOVE Portland :]

weight loss journey!

YOU GUYS. I have some incredible news & I've wanting to shout it from the mountain tops: I am at my lowest weight (since maybe middle school?) & am no longer "overweight" by BMI standards!! I've lost about 35 pounds from my highest weight, 20 of which was lost in the past few months. I can fit into my "skinny" clothes & had to replace many old ones with new size smalls! It feels AMAZING! I feel healthier & stronger than ever, but more importantly, I can tell that this isn't just me going on a temporary healthy kick (again). I'm in it for the long haul :]

So how did I do it? Drinking way less beer had to happen & now I might only have 3 or 4 drinks each week. Logging what I eat on My Fitness Pal keeps me in check, but I haven't changed much about my diet. Burton & I have always been healthy eaters (lots of vegetables!), but I just think we were over-eating. As for exercise, we've been going on long weekly hikes & appreciating the beautiful weather & nature that Oregon has to offer. During the work week, we'll go to bootcamp or yoga classes at our gym instead. I'm starting to see my little abs coming in! They say weight loss is 80% diet & 20% exercise, but I think the most important factor is will power. When you alter your perspective & view these lifestyle changes as a treat to your body, weight loss doesn't seem so challenging anymore. The physical changes will happen if you're good to your body & PATIENT :]

happy mail!

One of my goals for 2015 was to send more snail mail, so my husband (the best one ever!) bought me a Happy Mail subscription for my birthday :] Now I have more cute stationary than I know what to do with! Most people get stuck in the everyday routines of life & sometimes just need little reasons to smile. I'm happy to be able to provide that for my family & friends, especially since I'm across the country from most of them. Speaking of thoughtful letters, check out this little gem from one of my third graders! It definitely made my day :]

a new favorite hike!

Our first winter in Portland has been GORGEOUS. It barely rains & has been consistently in the 40s & 50s since November. I know it's uncommon weather, so Burton & I are enjoying it as much as we can! Future winters probably won't be as nice :] On a beautifully clear day, we discovered a new favorite hike! The trail starts with a loop around Mirror Lake, where we saw Mt. Hood peeking out. Myla wasted no time diving into the water!

Mt. Hood followed us as we trekked up up up for about 2.5 miles. The sunshine was so bright at about the halfway point that we could barely photograph us with the mountain.

At the top! We had 360 degree views that were absolutely BREATHTAKING! And because it was so clear, we were able to see three extra mountain peaks in the distance: Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Adams, & Mt. St. Helens!!

Despite how windy it was at the top, we hung out for a good 20 minutes, taking it all in. Burton even surprised me, pulling a celebratory beer out of the CamelPak. This is the good life :]

viva las vegas!

A couple weekends ago, my family had a mini-reunion in Vegas to celebrate my favorite cousin's birthday. I loved every minute we got to spend with my family, but man, is Vegas WEIRD. It wasn't really our scene & I couldn't imagine spending more than a few days out there. Have you ever been? Nothing could've prepared me! Btw, Burton & I were totally photobombed in the above picture - that man is not in my family.

We gambled a little, sipped plenty, & walked a LOT. We soaked up some rays poolside, enjoyed the show Absinthe, & went on the High Roller! Amazing views :]

This guy has his work cut out for him in Vegas.

I loved Bellagio's fountain show & Chihuly installation!!

It actually snowed in the surrounding mountains while we were there! We drove out looking for red rocks, but only found white ones. And lots of snowmen.

Thanks for the fun weekend, Vegas! I'm not sure if/when we'll be back ;]

being Mrs. Reed

So I realized that even though my job as an art teacher is like 80% of my life, I haven't posted about it much on here lately. I honestly respond quicker to "Mrs. Reed" than "Nicole" at this point :] At the beginning of the school year, I wanted to create a separate art teacher blog for my students' families & fellow art teachers. Click the link to check out the inspirational work my little artists have been creating! I love my job :]