Oregon Zoo Concerts 

Confession time: I don’t really love summer. It is my least favorite season. And truth be told, I don’t really love concerts either. As such a person could probably presume that a concert in the summer might be very low on my list of things to do. But I am a complicated person, as we all are, and the Oregon Zoo Summer Concert Series are one of the few events each summer I look forward to.

The Oregon Zoo has been hosting a summer concert series for 37 years now. I have only had the pleasure of attending the last four.

**Patiently watching the sun go away so it would cool down**


There are many reasons why I love these concerts, but I think one of the top reasons is simply the atmosphere. It is a family friendly venue. As such, much like Disneyland, everyone seems to be on their best behavior. People are relaxed, kind, gracious. No one is throwing things, or yelling or bumping into you.


**Intro band doing their thing**


How does it work you ask? First you can check out the upcoming concerts on the Oregon Zoo website. The concerts usually aren’t announced until late spring each year so if you aren’t seeing anything just keep checking.

You can park at the zoo but the roads up to are actually quite difficult to come and go on. Narrow, single lane exit nightmare. Plus if it is a nice day, as a concert goer you will be fighting zoo patrons for parking. My suggestion is to find a park and ride for the MAX (public transportation) and ride to the Washington Park Zoo stop. Easy.

**Fitz and the Tantrums**

Your concert ticket includes a zoo ticket. You are allowed to bring in an empty non glass water bottle,  low beach chairs are allowed, or you can just sit on blankets in the grass. Make sure to bring cash or card for food and drinks.

**Laser light show action**


You are allowed to enter the zoo early, set up your spot “in line” once you are inside the zoo and then wander around the zoo or sit and chat while you wait. Once the doors open, you are shuffled into the concert area, where you can set up your space for the night and then continue to wander around. There is always several food carts available for food as well as drink carts for beer and wine.


**Linen is best when the weather is dumb**


This last years show that I attended was by far the best, not only because the food cart choices were fantastic but the band I went to see played a phenomenal show. It was hot, like 102 hot. So I spent the evening sitting in the grass in my linen dress, drinking all the water and eating ice cream. The air eventually cooled and all in all it is a wonderful night.


Have you ever been to a concert at the Oregon Zoo? If not what is your favorite local outdoor concert venue?



Quinta da Regaleira – Sintra, Portugal

One of the main draws of Sintra is Quinta Da Regaleria a romantic style palace built in the 19th century. Though it does own quite a few gothic elements including a fair share of gargoyles affixed to the many towers on the house.

However, Quinta da Regaleria is not just the house, in fact while we were there the house was a very small portion of the self guided tour. The house was turned over the municipality only recently, restoration work and public viewings began in the late nineties. Most of that work has been done so far on restoring the gardens, tunnels, Initiation Wells and grottoes.

We didn’t know this going in and assumed that the house itself would take up quite a bit of time, however at the point of our visit it was only the first floor with a small display providing some history of the house.


I loved touring the house all the same, they had velvet doors which I could not stop touching. It was a good thing there wasn’t a security guard close at hand I would have been in serious trouble. There was definite groping.

The views of and from the house were spectacular but I am not sure I could say otherwise for a single place we visited in Sintra. In the picture above you can see both the Castel of the Moors and the Pena Palace, which I took while standing on one of the many exterior walkways on the house.

However as I mentioned the real draw to the house is the grounds, which have been extensively restored. The ground had expanded over the years and as the property changed hands. One or more of the owners had an interest in ancient symbolism and as such you can see references to the Knights Templar, the Masons and dark alchemy littered through the many garden structures.


One such structure is the Initation Wells which were thought to be used in initiation ceremonies for either Masons or Knights Templar depending on the source. There are two wells on the property one is finished which are the pictures above and below. And then other is only partially finished though there are subterranean tunnels that connect the two.


My favorite part of the property was the tunnels and the grotto. When you leave the main well and walk straight forward through the main tunnel you come out to this spectacular grotto with a small waterfall flowing over the opening. Please note to be careful in the tunnels, while the main one is average adult height that height does vary throughout the tunnel and the side tunnels can become quite low and mostly unlit.  My mom smacked her head on the side of one not realizing how low and narrow it was. I am pretty sure everyone in the tunnels heard it and she had a nice goose egg on her head for a couple days.


If you carry on to the left you come out to a small forum type area that over looks the house but if you go to the right you go through another small tunnel and come out on some stepping stones that go over the algae covered pond. From there you can cross the pond, and go up a couple steps to go over the small bridge that also crosses the pond. It was quite enchanting we wandered back several times during our visit.

Other fun features of the property is the small chapel and greenhouse. The green house was closed when we were there but the building was lovely and I couldn’t help but snap a picture of the tiles on the exterior.

The chapel is extremely small, but incredibly ornate and surprisingly several stories including a basement level that also has a small tunnel that shoots you out close to the main house .

Before we left we had an afternoon snack at the café on the grounds. They had a pretty complete lunch menu, meat pies and pastries along with coffee and soda. I had a delicious chicken pie that I ate WAY too quickly and a cappuccino. We also shared some orange cake and soaked up the sun before heading off back to town.

To get to Quinta La Regaleria all you need is to be in Sintra and have a pair of legs. It is a very easy walk, though the side walk is narrow so take caution.  If you don’t feel safe walking or would rather take a more leisure way up there are Tuktuk rentals in the city center you can use. There didn’t seem to be a single place they are just meandering around and are all easily approachable and friendly.  My final note would be, when visiting illogically you walk past the main entrance up past the house and most of the ground to buy tickets and enter the property. This was confusing for us even though there were signs and volunteers helping steer us to the right entrance, it was especially confusing for non English or Portuguese speakers and cause some upset in a couple cases while we were there.





Training – Hiking in Ireland

I have mentioned a couple times I am planning a hiking trip in Ireland during the summer of 2018. I thought it might be helpful to post my training schedule leading up to the trip in case anyone else out there is planning a hiking trip in the near future. As I was putting together my plan I realized it is going to be a fairly extensive plan.  I am a “safety first” type of gal so build up is slow and steady over the course of the next year and a half. As such the posts will reflect that progress, so if you are interested in going faster or want some tips for a hiking trip that is prior to mine please feel free to reach out to me.

I should first say that I am not a licensed personal trainer and I hike fairly regularly already. So everything I discuss is to fit my own needs to get to where I need to be in order to safely participate in the hike I am planning. Your current physical state is likely different than my own, and your future hike is likely different than my own, so please proceed with that in mind.

As I mentioned, the general approach I am taking for this training is slow and steady. I hike fairly regularly but if you have been paying attention to the PNW this year you will know our regular “year round hiking weather” has been interrupted by frequent ice storms, snow and record breaking rain.  Needless to stay the last thing that resembled a hike for me what walking around the hills in Lisbon in December, where in normal years I would have been out in the woods almost once a week.

As such, I have started my first month of training in the gym and if the weather continues with the current trend, I will probably be in the gym for another month two before I can start safely hiking in the mountains again. So without further ado here is my year and a half training schedule outline, which I will go into more detail as the year progresses.

(Quarter 1) – March through May:

  • A mixture of light cardio and strength training in the gym.
  • Balance and strength focused exercises at home (I like to do quick 5 min exercise breaks while watching tv).
  • Yoga focusing on balance and stretching.


(Quarter 2) – June through August:

  • Quarter 1 exercises
  • As weather improves, adding a weekly hike of various lengths and terrains.


(Quarter 3) – September through November:

  • Quarter 1 and Quarter 2 exercises but with lengthened intervals and more reps.
  • Weekly hikes getting longer and adding the daypack with realistic weight.
  • Daily walks outside with dog for 1-2 miles.


(Quarter 4) – December through February:

  • Continue previous quarter workouts with added reps and duration.
  • Moving cardio indoors when weather deems it necessary.
  • Hiking outdoors with boots and rain gear during lighter inclement weather to get used to gear and conditions
    •  It is possible that it will rain during my hike. Once I have built up my balance, durance and strength over the prior months I can start getting used to my inclement weather gear in more realistic hiking conditions.


(Quarter 5) – March through May:

  • Continue prior quarter movement but try to take it outside where possible.
  • Continuing to lengthen duration and difficulty when possible.


That’s all for now! Check back once a month for more detailed workout information. I plan to include more detailed weekly plans, specific strength training, balancing and yoga moves as my training progresses.

Castelo dos Mouros – Sintra, Portugal

Another day another castle. Actually this was our second castle of the trip and it was only our first full day. We are a little crazy. In the picture below you can see in the foreground the Castle of the Moors and in the background the crown of the Pena Palace we had just left.

We chose to split our 10 days adventure in Portugal between two, albeit close, locations. The first half of the trip as I have mentioned we stayed in Sintra, a small parish outside the Lisbon city center though close enough to still be considered part of the Lisbon area. We really wanted to invest some time out here and didn’t want to waste time on public transit each day we came out. So we rented a house and drove. Yikes. Not for the faint of heart.

The first day was stressful, all day flying, then driving, then getting our bearings, finding food, etc. But the second day, our real first day was magical. We started at the Pena Palace which I wrote about here.

Then we walked over to the Castle of the Moors and spent the rest of the day admiring the old ruins and the beautiful views.

Things of note that I could not find anywhere else, you can absolutely walk between the Pena Palace and the Castle of the Moors. I couldn’t find a lot of information on this fact when we were planning. Some sites hinted at it but didn’t outright say it was possible. And when I say they are walkable, I mean they are in the same park.

Now I say this as a healthy 30 something, it is steep and the pathway is uneven. However the all of perhaps half mile jaunt between the two is totally doo-able, and if you can’t do it, you can hire a Tuk Tuk. Plus if you are planning on touring the Castle of the Moors you need a pretty strong constitution to begin with. Look at all those stairs! I think this was the point my husband considered giving up as he was well and truly sick by midday.

And yes we hiked all those stairs from start to finish and then halfway back again to exit. It made the jaunt from Pena seem like child’s play. Once we were all tired from the climb and all that pesky fresh air and sunshine we walked back out toward the exit and down the road to our car. The GPS has a bit of trouble finding us in the trees, luckily there isn’t much guessing to get out of the park, just a long single road that takes you into Sintra. However it does take you back to the opposite end of town, so be aware you won’t be exiting in the same area you entered.

Address and Additional Information:2710 Sintra, Portugal




The Greatest Restaurant That is No More 

**Stained glass in the balcony**

In the winter of 2016 I was sent to Minneapolis Minnesota for work. It was cold, horribly horribly cold, like negative 12 degrees cold. I was in the process of buying a house and moving with my husband and being sent out to what was basically Antarctica for my mild weather loving PNW self was not exactly what I wanted to be doing.

**Carved glass pendant lights**


But there was a small little beacon that cheered me up, a coworker who knew my obsession with Art Deco architecture took me the Il Foro. A newly opened Italian restaurant and bar in the historic Forum Cafeteria.

**Is that not the most beautiful thing you have ever seen?**


The Forum Cafeteria was originally built in 1914 as a part of the Sax Theater. The building continued to change hands over the years, in 1930 the interior was updated with a Minnesota themed Art Deco interior including pine cones, trees and waterfalls.

**Viking motifs painted on beveled wall mirrors**


I spoke with one of the employees at Il Foro and he mentioned that at some point in the buildings history the building itself was set to be condemned but the cafeteria interior and façade was already on the national historic registry.

**Carved bakelite wall sconces**

So before the building was torn down, a team was brought in the map and document every single bit of the interior, which was then carefully removed, stored and eventually rebuilt in it’s new location. The façade however, is still missing somewhere in a storage facility under the city.


**Onyx pillars and pine cone carved tiles**



**Look at the corner**


I was so in awe of the Bakelite wall tiles, carved motifs, matching wall sconces, chandeliers and beveled mirrors I spent the entire evening just wandering around taking pictures. Thank goodness it was a slow night, otherwise I would have been all up in everyone’s space.


**Look at all those lights!**



**Can we just get a little zoom on these bakelite tiles**

Sadly and perhaps because they were nearly empty on a Thursday night, Il Foro closed it’s doors recently. I honestly do not know why, the food and service were excellent. However I have read a few articles about the construction of the building exterior and seemingly non spectacular façade making walk in traffic low.

**Carved trees and pinecones in onxy bakelite**

I am sure another restaurant will open in the space, it is after all protected by the national historic registry and should remain safety preserved no matter what businesses fill it’s space.

**This is just the banister to the balcony staircase**


If you ever find yourself in Minneapolis and want to see if another establishment has opened in the location, you can find it a 40S Seventh St. Minneapolis Minnesota.


**Just one more time for good measure, I swoon**



Have you ever had the pleasure of seeing the interior of this building. What iteration of it’s life was that? Or if not are there any amazing art deco architectural gems near you?



Pena Palace – Sintra, Portugal

OH Pena, you old beauty you. Pena Palace is a romanticist castle that sits on the Sintra Mountains overlooking Sintra and Lisbon.

The site started as a chapel in the middle ages and over the years was built on and updated by various key figures in history. The chapel was reduced to ruin during the infamous 1755 earthquake which you will hear a lot about in all my posts about Portugal. It wasn’t until 1847 when King Ferdinand and Queen Maria II with the help of German architect Baron Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege  built it up into the royal summer palace that you see today.

There is an abundance of German, Islamic and Medieval detail which makes for a fascinating tour.

We made it up on our first full day in Sintra area. We were all still pretty tired and a couple of us were starting to get sick. But we braved the new streets in a our big rental car and wound our way up the narrow hill to the Pena Palace. We parked somewhat randomly after the third or so parking section within the park fearing that we wouldn’t find another. Truth be told there was plenty of parking but I could see if you were there during tourist season you wouldn’t want to drive at all. Instead choose to catch one of the tour buses or TukTuk at the Sintra city center.

Ticket our bought for both the palace and the Castle of the Moors in a somewhat unassuming hut in one of the larger parking areas (and by larger I mean there are 7 spots). We bought our tickets and started off on a random path that looked like it might lead up to the palace and quickly got shouted at and herded up a slightly different path. Not uncommon, my family seems to have a penance for getting in trouble when traveling oversees. Blame it on our go getter attitude and unbridled joy when it comes to new experiences.

The correct path has us walking up and around through the royal gardens. Which was lovely. We had every intention of going back and walking through more of it but it was a long day and we wound up heading for dinner after touring both Pena and the Castle of the Moors.

There were quite a few lovely details in the gardens including a number of sacred spaces meant for quite contemplation and rest. I was only contemplating how on earth I could tile my whole house to match.

The interior was a mix of architectural styles, I of course couldn’t keep my eyes off the chandeliers (see above) and the copper pots in the kitchen (see below).

Then there was this guy that we took to calling “Angry Poseidon”. It took a lot of research to even find mention of the statue and it turns out it Triton instead of Poseidon.

Toward the end of the tour there is a lovely little gallery displaying drawings of former residence, hunting trophies and small statues. This guy below was my favorite, most especially the missing fingers. It reminded me of the running Arrested Development joke “and that’s why you always leave a note”.

From the top of the palace you can see across the small valley the separates the palace and the Castle of the Moors. As well as the greater Sintra area and the Atlantic Ocean.

We exited the palace the opposite side we came up and walked down the steep cobblestone walk to the main entrance of the palace, where we exited, crossed the street and spent the rest of the day at the Castle of the Moors.

Address and Additional information: Estrada da Pena, 2710-609 Sintra, Portugal




Ardiri Winery – Cornelius Oregon

There are so many wineries in the Portland/Willamette Valley area it can be overwhelming. Since moving out of the city I am now within 5 miles of about 25. I plan to make visits to all of them at some point, but you know what they say about best laid plans…..

I visited Adiri for the first time on the hottest day of the year after spending all morning at an antique sidewalk fair. I was hot, I was tired, I was likely sun stroked. And I wasn’t exactly looking forward to drinking wine but my company wanted to go, so we forged on.


I love Adiri. When we pulled up we were above the valley, overlooking the hills, there was a slight breeze and a shaded covered porch with comfortable deck furniture. The tasting room was small and crowded but my mom just dashed in and grabbed a bottle of rose while the rest of us settled into the shade with cups of complimentary lemon cucumber water.

The wine was chilled to perfection, the staff was so kind, the experience was perfect. While we were sitting and sipping I noticed a bunch of small parties at the other tables, all with different types of snacks celebrating baby showers, weddings, and anniversaries. It was lovely.


A few months later  I took one of my best friends to the winery.  Armed with a picnic and ready to revisit that amazing rose we headed out into the hills. The day was a bit chilly and gloomy but the covered porch area has warmers and fires going. Even in October it was crowded. They were out of the rose, sold out a month earlier but I was promised they would have more ready by February. We tried to gold which was one of the best whites I have ever had and enjoyed a perfect day looking over the hills and chatting with good company.

I will be going back sometime this month for the rose, and probably another bottle of the Chehalem Gold.


Are there any local wineries in your area that you love to visit?