Inspiration : Oregon Wine Country

As I mentioned one my last post, this wasn't my first time to Oregon Wine Country. During our previous trip we had taken a tour through Backroads Wine Tours.

The word "tour" seems a bit.... fancy in this instance. From memeory {and please remember this was three plus years and a pregnancy/ birth and lots of missed sleep between now and then} it was nothing more than a guy driving us and another one maybe two other couples around in his dusty old minivan where we hit four... maybe five... wineries in one day and he dropped us back off neatly at our hotel in Portland. 

There are several advantages to this route: 

  • one always has a designated driver {this in itself is good enough reason}
  • you have a person who knows the history of the area and the wineries and the stories of the wine growers and why the wineries on the top of the hill are worth more than those at the bottom of the hill and how the pterodactyl poop in the Jurassic period affected the taste of the 2014 Pinot noir.  {okay. That last one is a bit of an exaggeration.} the point is: going with someone who knows the area means you can walk in blind without researching much of anything and learn a lot about wine in general and this area specifically. 

The downsides are the exact benefits of going at alone. When you're not in a tour you can:

  • decide your own route. Have a favorite winery? Saw something interesting in the Bon Appetit you were reading in the airport on your way over? Want to visit the cute couple at the red barn who also raise sheep as well as make wine that your neighbors told you about after their last trip?   Driving one's self is the best way to make this happen. 
  • Relationships. As with most of the world, wineries are always better once you have a conversation with the person who knows it inside and out. Where our visits with the tour guy lasted 45 minutes max per winery we were able to spend an hour plus per winery this trip because we weren't on anyone's schedule but our own. This gave us time to rally chat with the winemakers and sommeliers and get really interesting stories about different years of their own production or how the area vintners come together to figure out problems.  These relationships also were the key to the next benefit.
  • my husband, bless his heart, came prepared. He had a map and he had everything circled that he wanted to visit along with notes of wines we'd had from there. And then we met a wine maker over on the coast that suggested a winery and, like that, his list went out the window. We went to one winery and asked who they recommended we go to next. Our "go with the  wind/ the next recommendation" theory didn't allow for us to hit very many places but we get like we got amazing experiences at each one.  

Let's also talk about how to do this safely:

  • Shared flights:
    Generally there are three or four half glass per wine flight. If you ask to share one person is drinking half of that.
  • Spit buckets:
    For the wines you're not feeling and spending that time getting to know the folks at the winery and you'll be good. 
  • Another pro: picnic!!
    We picked up cheese, sausage, cheese, fancy mustard and patte and had the absolute best lunch on the side of the road. We still joke that we were eating the world's largest most fancy Slim Jim. But goodness, I remember that as one of the best meals on the trip and we ate REALLY well in Oregon. 

Below is another pared down phone dump of the McMinnville Downtown area {so cute!} and then a sneak peek of the winemaking process at White Rose Winery. Ya'll they were pressing wine BY HAND. It was amazing and beautiful and they were working so hard because it was harvest season which means there's a lot happening. And we basically got an unscheduled unanticipated insider's view.

Le sigh. So awesome. 

Check below the images for links and recommendations.  

Inspiration : The Oregon Coast

Three-ish years ago, for our anniversary., Ryan and I were going to take a trip to Oregon to do all the things: deep sea fish, whitewater raft, wine tasting, enjoy the Portland food scene... the whole spiel.

And then we found out I was pregnant.

We had already bought the plan tickets but we cancelled most of the activities and let me just say from experience, that seeing any town for the first time whilst in the middle of the first trimester is a horrible way to say, "hello."

So for our fifth anniversary we did a make-up trip of sorts: back to Oregon, but with a schedule much less intense and much more focused on relaxing.

As it turns out: Cannon Beach, Oregon is probably the best place to relax in the entire world. And I've been fortunate enough to go to a fair share of places. It has the laid back vibe of the west coast but the hardier scene one would expect to find in Oregon. ie. It's not a beauty contest, There is absolutely no expectation of one getting in a bathing suit in October... or maybe ever. When we went the weather was cool - high of high 50's perhaps?  Just the kind of weather that asked a body to sit on the balcony and watch the birds and bunnies {crazy story there} and read one's book and listen to the waves and watch the mist come and go and take a lot of deep relazing breathes.

On the other side of the coin, it was also an amazing place to be active. The mist creates these amazing moss covered forests. We actaully hiked through tree that were standing when Lewis and Clark came through and first saw the Pacific Ocean.

Just typing that gives me chills ya'll. Our lives are so tiny- but look at the beauty we can experience during it!

Below is a highly paired down phone dump. I'm pretty sure I maxed out the storage on my phone and have no regrets about that. Scroll through to see my recommendations.




Be back in a few days to talk about Oregon Wine country, i.e. World's Most Relaxing spot #2.

On the Needles : Ravelry Updates

When I took my first knitting class at Mockingbird Moon, I was told that Ravelry was this magical world of knitters and patterns and yarn and conversation and that I absolutely had to join.

And, because I like to follow the rules, I immediately did.

I fell hard: the equivalent for Facebook for knitters where one can talk gauge and tension and twisted stitches and "I've got a skein of this really nice yarn. What should I use it for?" where no one gives you the stinkeye for talking about old lady stuff.

I updated very regularly until I started my non-profit communications gig. And then it {and most extraneous stuff} fell by the wayside. So I've spent the last few weeks updating projects (those that I could find} and updating my current "stash" {which saves one the problem of saying "This project needs a size 7 needle. Do I have size 7 needles? I'm not sure,I should probably get one while I'm here at the store." Only to discover that you, in fact, have four sets  of size 7 needles and you've unnecessarily spent {another} $15. 

All the pictures below are linked straight to the Ravelry site and are fairly new (within the last two years-ish projects}. Some of the old projects are pretty fun too. {Check out "naughty reindeer" for an inappropriate knitting laugh.}

You will also see I added pictures of my son's toy's in all the new pictures. When I first started knitting I was working for a photographer and tried to take all my creative work so seriously. And while I will still take 45 pictures to get the "right shot"I don't take myself near as seriously. I consider this a major boon to getting older.

Anyway, if you're on Ravelry, go ahead and hit the "let's be friends" button because I'm always interested in knowing more knitting nerds. And if you're not on Ravelry but are interested in starting to knit or crochet go ahead and join. It's free and easy to set-up and was a huge encouragement booster for me when I first started.

Sir Top'em Hat {picture taken before Same ruin{ed} the second pompom.}

Sir Top'em Hat {picture taken before Same ruin{ed} the second pompom.}

I designed and made this myself. I am MEGA proud of it. My next goal is to learn how to write up a colorwork pattern and turn this into a real deal pattern instead of something that simply lives inside my head.

I designed and made this myself. I am MEGA proud of it. My next goal is to learn how to write up a colorwork pattern and turn this into a real deal pattern instead of something that simply lives inside my head.

I have no clue why I added these farm animals, but they're cute no?

I have no clue why I added these farm animals, but they're cute no?

In Praise of : Ozark Folkways

Ozark Folkways is one of those local gems that almost none of the locals know about.

Its what looks to be an old school building at the top of a hill in the Boston Mountains (the Ozark Boston Mountains, not the more historically famous Boston... obviously}. It's part art gallery, part art studio, part workshop space, part community center, part history museum, and part magic.

I really don't know much more about it other than I took a mushroom class there in Early November and it was amazing. I also know my friend, Amanda Cothren, former Editor of Edible Ozarkansas, recently took over as Director there and I'm wanting to send all the positive vibes her way for this amazing undertaking.

Here's some of their links:

  • Website:
  • Facebook
  • Address: 22733 N Highway 71, Winslow, Arkansas 
  • Telephone: 479-634-3791 

Below is a photo dump of my day {almost 12 hours!} learning about mushrooms in the Ozarks. My brain couldn't hold more but if you're interested in mushrooms in / around Arkansas check out the Arkansas Mushroom and Fungi  facebook group

Yes, I'm well aware of how nerdy that sounds but you would be amazed at the delicious things that people find in their backyard. 

jay justice arkansas mushroom expert
ozark folkways jay justice mushrooms
Leaves of three, let them be. Because calamine ointment stinks.

Leaves of three, let them be. Because calamine ointment stinks.

Seriously - it doesn;t get better.

Seriously - it doesn;t get better.

arkansas mushroom haul
These people didn't know one another 5 hours previous.  Walking in the woods will do that to you.

These people didn't know one another 5 hours previous.  Walking in the woods will do that to you.

Probably not poisonous. Maybe....

Probably not poisonous. Maybe....

On the Needles : Darjeeling Socks and an Oversized Sweater

I have had this mental image: 

She who knits her own clothing is... a lady of a certain age.
Or dresses similarly to Laura Ingalls Wilder while in her Little House on the Prairie period.
Or... gosh... insert a thousand other negative, short-sided and, truthfully, not very nice assumptions here.

And I was wrong..

Below I am wearing an outfit that I styled and I knitted two pieces of: The sweater and the socks. And I don't feel the least bit like Laura on the Prairie. I feel feminine and modern and stylish and.... like me. The woman who wears tutu skirts and hair bows and hiking boots. The lady with the platinum pixie cut and the bold red lips and mixmatched earrings. 

oversized sweater chunky yarn eat me blog

I included this second image because the sweater is far from perfect,.  It was a pattern suggested by Anne Weil of Flax and Twine {who has an amazing book on arm knitting and a beautiful blog}. In fact, this sweater, originally from the Eat Me Blog is a free pattern that was my first attempt at knitting a sweater.

The pattern, being free, is...
What's the saying? You get what you pay for, right?

It's a good start of a sweater pattern but the author leaves lots of details out especially for the beginner level that she claims that this is.

For example she says, "Stitch the pieces together."
To which I ask: "How exactly DOES one stitch sweater pieces together?"
"Will I have enough yarn to do said stitching?
"What kind of... what is it called... connection stitch thing  does one do for stitches?"

Insert multiple {LOTS} of other questions here. But the truth is, it worked out.

it's far from cute but it makes a perfectly cute outfit.

Photo Nov 17, 1 53 50 PM.jpg

And the socks:

I started them on vacation on the Oregon coast (if you're in Cannon Beach you MUST make a trip to Coastal Yarns} They started with a new -to-me, super tricky cast-on. I LITERALLY started and re-started these socks seven times but I'm super happy with how they turned out. And they're the second in my personal Stepping Stones Challenge. 

darjeeling socks stepping stones socks for knitters



If you're celebrating Thanksgiving today - I hope you are enjoying friends or family or food. In whatever order you prefer. And if you're not - happy Thursday - may you have lots of interupted creative time.

inspiration : Hike it Baby, Northwest Arkansas

These are my hiking boots.

Well, truthfully, they are also my going to get grocery boots and my backyard toddler football boots and my, "Seriously, why is it this cold in Arkansas boots?!?!"

But I digress.

hiking trails in bella vista arkansas

Every time I travel somewhere beautiful and outdoors, Ryan and I always make it a priority to take some sort of hike. The nature! The scenery! The fresh air!

But when we come home, to a place known as "The Natural State" where trails and scenerya dnd fresh air abound we very very rarely hike. Which is why I was so excited when my friend Julianne was selected as a Trailblazer for the 10k Women Trail Project.

You can read more about it on her post but the jist is using her love for the outdoors and her social media skills to get more women {and their kids!} out onto the trails.

blowing springs creek

The most exciting things about the first hike I went on with these ladies?

They were normal human beings! I cannot overemphasize this enough.
The truth is that hiking {and hikers} generally intimidate me. The clothes, the gear, the special hiker food, the ability to read a map... All things of which I do not excel or own. But to support Julianne on that first hike I went anyway. I wore leggings and a backpack I got on sale at Target and drank a latte from McDonald's as I walked up to the group. While some ladies carried legit hiking sticks and some had a good water bottle {note to self} everyone was normal amd didn't look down on me in disgust as me and my overall-ed toddler set out on the trail with them.

hike it baby rei
bella vista arkansas trails
Tanyard creek northwest arkansas hiking trail family friendly
arkansas caverns

Want to get involved?
Check the links below.