Frugal Portland http://frugalportland.com Cheap. Fun. Portland Thu, 21 Jul 2016 12:57:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://frugalportland.com/wp-content/uploads/cropped-frugal-portland-logo-square1-32x32.png Frugal Portland http://frugalportland.com 32 32 7 Great Portland Picnic Parks http://frugalportland.com/7-great-portland-picnic-parks/ http://frugalportland.com/7-great-portland-picnic-parks/#comments Thu, 21 Jul 2016 12:57:12 +0000 http://frugalportland.com/?p=7633   The idea of a meal shared al fresco in a lovely natural setting has been around for a very long time – perhaps since Adam and Eve and that apple. So while picnics don’t really represent an up and coming trend, they do rank VERY high as a budget-friendly way to see the city – while...

Read More »

The post 7 Great Portland Picnic Parks appeared first on Frugal Portland.

]]>
 

The idea of a meal shared al fresco in a lovely natural setting has been around for a very long time – perhaps since Adam and Eve and that apple. So while picnics don’t really represent an up and coming trend, they do rank VERY high as a budget-friendly way to see the city – while eating a good meal.

And – lucky for you! – Portland has dozens of divine places to picnic. Here’s proof: Each year the Trust for Public Land rates the 100 largest U.S. cities on their public parks – and each year Portland ranks in the Top Ten.

So if you’re visiting Portland, it would be a YUGE mistake to miss out on a leisurely picnic in one of our amazing public parks. Here are a few to consider:

Laurelhurst (SE Cesar Chavez Blvd. & Stark St.)

Laurelhurst Park

Laurelhurst Park is uber popular – for good reason. It’s close in – easy to get to from either side of the river – and has just about every amenity imaginable (think basketball court, horseshoe pits, off leash dog area and more – it even has a pond!). And the trees are amazing! On busy weekends you may have to search for a parking spot but once you’ve conquered that task, you can find a grassy patch under one of those towering trees, spread out your picnic goodies – and enjoy the good life.

Mt. Tabor (SE 60th & Salmon St.)

Mt Tabor Park

If you want to cross “picnic on a volcano” off your Bucket List, this is your chance. Mt. Tabor Park is actually a dormant cinder cone in southeast Portland. Because it is a “mountain” (albeit of only 636 feet elevation) it offers a variety of diverse picnicking alternatives, from sloping spots overlooking the reservoir to level and lovely options at the summit.

Pier Park (N Lombard St. & Bruce Ave.)

Pier Park

This idyllic picnic setting is located in the St. Johns neighborhood in north Portland. It’s a bit of a drive from the center of town but just might be a little less crowded for that reason. And it absolutely delivers on the top picnicking criteria with plentiful majestic trees, rolling lawns, numerous amenities and easy access.

Cathedral Park (N Edison & Pittsburg Ave.)

Cathedral Park

Also located in north Portland is Cathedral Park – just the name makes you want to visit, doesn’t it? This 23 acre park is situated under the St. Johns Bridge; that backdrop lends to its cathedral-like ambience, with the bridge overhead mimicking the arches of a gothic church. No reserved picnic areas are available here so, if you’re lucky and early, you may even snag a table.

Washington Park (head of SW Park Place; explorewashingtonpark.org)

Washington Park

This iconic location has amenities no other Portland parks has including the International Rose Test Garden, a bronze statue of Sacajawea and, for those with little ones, the immensely fun Rose Garden Children’s Park. The one downside is that you’ll have to pay to park. :(

Grant Park (NE 33rd Ave. & US Grant Pl.)

Grant Park

Along with killer trees and easy parking, Grant Park boasts the Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden. Cleary – the popular children’s book author of the Henry Huggins and Ramona Quimby series and more – grew up in the Grant Park area. If you feel like a walk after your picnic meal – and you’re a Cleary fan – download the “Walking with Ramona” tour map and check out the settings for many of the events in Cleary’s fictional books as well as the houses she grew up in. Click here to see.

That park that’s just a 10-minute walk from where you are right now

According to the Trust for Public Land, 85 percent of Portlanders are a mere 10-minute walk (1/2 mile) from a park/green space. Find the nearest one and you’re just minutes from a picnic experience!

If you go:

The above suggestions represent only a small fraction of the parks in the City of Portland’s system. And an even smaller percentage of parks in the metro area. Check the City of Portland Parks’ website (portlandparks.org; all parks are free to visit and most have free parking nearby) or other local communities and Metro (the Metropolitan Service District, the area’s regional governmental body) for more ideas. Tip: If you absolutely MUST have a picnic table for your picnic, go to the parks reservation page and “view availability” for the park you’re interested in. If it’s not reserved for that day, you’re pretty safe in assuming that it’s available. But first come, first served if you haven’t reserved. If you’re part of a large group and need picnic tables, your best bet is to reserve WAY in advance in the summer.

Picnicking basics:

For most of us, picnicking implies a casual, no-fuss approach. So feel free to stop at La Petite Provence (1824 NE Alberta or 4834 SE Division) or any local bakery or deli and grab a baguette or two, some cheese and fruit and head out. Voila! You have a picnic!

Bring your Designated Picnic Blanket (i.e. that old one that you reserve for outdoor activities) and/or inexpensive collapsible chairs. Consider some picnicky activities like swinging or just spreading out on your blanket and gazing up through the sun dappled trees, enjoying the now…

An added plus for the summer are the free concerts in July and August. There’s nothing better than a relaxing meal consumed in a beautiful setting on a lazy summer’s eve, with great, FREE tunes for background music.

So what are you waiting for? Get outside!

All photos are Courtesy of Portland Parks

The post 7 Great Portland Picnic Parks appeared first on Frugal Portland.

]]>
http://frugalportland.com/7-great-portland-picnic-parks/feed/ 1
A Portland Wedding on the Cheap: Part Three: Flowers and Food http://frugalportland.com/a-portland-wedding-on-the-cheap-part-three/ http://frugalportland.com/a-portland-wedding-on-the-cheap-part-three/#comments Thu, 14 Jul 2016 11:43:19 +0000 http://frugalportland.com/?p=7619 As the big day approaches, the to do list seems to get longer and longer. There are lots of things that really have to happen last minute. Although some stress is unavoidable, an ever expanding price tag doesn’t have to be one of your worries. One of the largest wedding expenses is food. In general,...

Read More »

The post A Portland Wedding on the Cheap: Part Three: Flowers and Food appeared first on Frugal Portland.

]]>
As the big day approaches, the to do list seems to get longer and longer. There are lots of things that really have to happen last minute. Although some stress is unavoidable, an ever expanding price tag doesn’t have to be one of your worries. One of the largest wedding expenses is food. In general, feeding your guests is considered necessary. After all, the greatest appeal of attending an event is the potential for free food. It’s just science.

science

Feeding the Multitudes

Catering companies can be a pretty significant expense depending on the size of your guest list. Prices can easily soar upwards of thousands of dollars. Alternatively, creating your own food can reduce your overall cost dramatically. Even if you’re not culinarily inclined, you probably know someone who is. Having friends and family collaborate on planning, shopping, and cooking is a fun way to take care of an essential portion of your reception. It’s likely that most, if not all, of the food preparation will happen within a few days of the wedding so you’ll need to delegate. Have somebody go to the grocery store while someone else makes the salad.

So where do you go to get your food? Stores like Costco, Reeser’s, Winco, and Grocery Outlet just to name a few. I do not have any special affinity towards going grocery shopping so I was fortunate to have a close friend of the family orchestrate this portion of my wedding. Be honest with yourself about what your strengths are and what you need a little help with. Don’t be shy when it comes to asking for help, the people around you most likely already want to provide an extra set of hands.

If it’s important for you to include libations in your celebration, I recommend heading to Trader Joe’s. You’re likely to find great prices on beer and wine for the big day. If you’re planning on having a champagne toast, you can save a whole lot by substituting the real stuff for prosecco. It does the job and your guests probably won’t know the difference.

science

 

Another last minute detail that many people like to include are floral arrangements. If you dig around, you can probably find a pretty affordable florist but if you’re willing to take on the challenge, I recommend buying wholesale flowers and arranging them yourself. McMinnville Wholesale Flowers is local to the Metro Area and has an extensive selection of flora that you can order online. Although they offer delivery in the McMinnville area, you might have to make the trek out to the shop. There are other online options to choose from but I found the best prices with McMinnville Wholesale.

science

You’ll probably get the flowers a day or two before the event and you’ll want to get going on arrangements. With the help of a creative family member, you can produce some pretty amazing designs. I was able to purchase flowers for bouquets, boutonnieres, table décor, and petals for less than 300$ in total. As with most of these other frugal choices, nobody will know the difference.

If professional photography made your list of most important things, you’re going to want to put a lot of effort into finding the right photographer for you. Ask around with family and friends, somebody might have a good recommendation. Avoid the first studios that pop up on a Google search if you are on a budget and a timeline, these tend to be harder to book and they come with a hefty price. Many photographers charge by the hour, think about a time frame that will allow you to get the most bang for your buck. If portraits are important to you, make sure you talk with your photographer about which shots you want and let family members know what time photos will be taken. You might be in a situation where you are a bit pressed for time during the wedding, if this is the case, set aside a short period of time to get as many portraits done as possible and then head back to the party for those fun, candid shots.

science

When it’s all said and done, your wedding should look exactly the way that you want it to look. It’s about coming together with the people who you are closest to and celebrating and honoring your relationship with your significant other. Have fun planning and preparing with loved ones and don’t let any stress creep it’s way into your celebration. If you let go a little bit, you’ll realize that it’s actually a pretty great feeling when there’s no planning, preparing, or paying left to be done on the big day; there’s nothing left to be done and you just get to enjoy it.

science

The post A Portland Wedding on the Cheap: Part Three: Flowers and Food appeared first on Frugal Portland.

]]>
http://frugalportland.com/a-portland-wedding-on-the-cheap-part-three/feed/ 2
 A Portland Wedding on the Cheap: Part Two: Dressing the Part http://frugalportland.com/portland-wedding-cheap-part-two/ http://frugalportland.com/portland-wedding-cheap-part-two/#comments Thu, 07 Jul 2016 11:14:52 +0000 http://frugalportland.com/?p=7611 Grab that pen and paper, it’s time to get cracking on some wedding planning. Regardless of who you are, what you’re wearing, and who’s invited, you have to get married somewhere. We’ve probably all heard of extravagant venues, complete with ornate décor and a price tag to match. Truth is, you don’t need all of...

Read More »

The post  A Portland Wedding on the Cheap: Part Two: Dressing the Part appeared first on Frugal Portland.

]]>
Grab that pen and paper, it’s time to get cracking on some wedding planning. Regardless of who you are, what you’re wearing, and who’s invited, you have to get married somewhere. We’ve probably all heard of extravagant venues, complete with ornate décor and a price tag to match. Truth is, you don’t need all of the bouji bells and whistles to have a beautiful wedding.

Set the Scene

There are so many beautiful places in and around the city that provide the perfect backdrop for your celebration. If you’re planning on having an outdoor wedding, consider different parks and natural areas. The amphitheater in the Rose Test Garden in Washington Park can be rented out for special events. Several different locations in the Hoyt Arboretum are available as well, all for under 1,000 dollars. You might also have a little more luck further out. The Troutdale House by the Sandy River is a fantastic venue in Troutdale that offers a lot of services and amenities for a price that is far better than a lot of other comparable places in town. No matter what you decide on, make sure to do your homework. You’d be surprised at what you can find with a little research.

research

If paying for a venue isn’t your jam, that’s ok too! Ask around with family and friends and you might just find something amazing. A big backyard can make for a great alternative to renting out a space. In addition to saving money, it can make for a more personalized experience. It all boils down to what you’re looking for and what makes you the happiest while sticking to the parameters of your budget.

Say ‘Yes’ to the (Affordable) Dress

One of the most memorable, and highly televised, aspects of a wedding is often “the dress.” Ball gowns, tea-length dresses, fit and flares; we’re all accustomed to the lingo by now. Although many people enjoy trying on different styles and bonding with friends and family over the dress-buying experience, the garment itself can become a dreaded expense. Fortunately, you have options. If you have some time for trial and error, there are lots of Etsy shops that specialize in creating unique and affordable gowns. If, however, you find yourself in a bit of a crunch, there are plenty of local solutions.

research

If you venture into the Alberta Art District, you’ll find Brides for a Cause. Imagine a place where support for charities meets a wonderland of beautiful dresses. Granted, most of the dresses have been worn by another bride but they are all in amazing condition and are marked down to an incredibly discounted price. You are unlikely to find two dresses that are exactly the same, each one has its own story. The benefit is that dresses in a variety of sizes can be found which can help save money that would have gone towards altering a sample sized gown.

research

Another similar boutique, Adorned in Grace, can be found in Southwest. They also carry a great variety including a section of designer gowns. I love the idea of a non-profit bridal shop. How many dresses are stuck in the back of someone’s closet collecting dust after only being worn once? In a city that is so enthusiastic about eco-friendly living, it’s only fitting that there is such a fantastic selection of recycled wedding dresses. Another serious benefit to purchasing a new-to-you dress at one of these shops is that you can shop at your own pace. I’ve never liked the idea of feeling pressured to buy and the addition of a consultant who is anxious to make a sale can cause unnecessary stress. Bring a couple friends or family members along and have fun playing dress up! Try different styles, find out what you feel the best in, and get something that you like.

research

Hair and Makeup on Point

You might already be thinking about hair and makeup on the big day. A simple search will reveal that bridal hair and makeup can cost an exorbitant amount of money, hundreds of dollars. People are under the impression that you have to look perfect on your wedding day but, in reality, all you have to look like is your beautiful self! That’s not to say that you shouldn’t dress it up a bit but nobody should feel pressured to spend more than they are comfortable with on a crazy makeover. You might know a friend or two who have a passion for makeup and hair who are willing to help out. You can also get a very affordable makeover from a beauty college. I happened to know a Mary Kay consultant who offered to do two trial runs and my hair and makeup on the day of for free. Don’t be afraid to ask around.

research

Stay Dapper With Affordable Clothing

If you, your partner, or both are not planning on wearing a traditional wedding dress, you’ll probably find yourself in need of some new threads. Before you run off to the nearest suit outfitter, take a minute to consider the options. My husband and I neglected to put any energy into his wedding wardrobe until about 24 hours before the ceremony. We went to Macy’s. All told, his new pair of shoes, pants, button down, suspenders, and bowtie rang up to less than 200 dollars. Compare that to a 700-dollar suit and you’ve got yourself a happy wallet. Depending on your personal preference, you could save even more by trying to find some articles of clothing from your own closet, borrowing from a friend, or doing a little thrifting.

research

In the end, the only thing that really matters is that you are wearing something that you feel good about wearing. It’s also a nice little added bonus if you can manage to breathe. Breathing is important.

The post  A Portland Wedding on the Cheap: Part Two: Dressing the Part appeared first on Frugal Portland.

]]>
http://frugalportland.com/portland-wedding-cheap-part-two/feed/ 1
A Portland Wedding on the Cheap: Part One http://frugalportland.com/a-portland-wedding-on-the-cheap-part-one/ http://frugalportland.com/a-portland-wedding-on-the-cheap-part-one/#comments Thu, 30 Jun 2016 12:44:02 +0000 http://frugalportland.com/?p=7605 Well, it’s that time of year again. Birds are singing, flowers are in bloom, and most people are receiving more wedding invitations than they know what to do with. That’s right, it’s wedding season and temperatures aren’t the only things that are on the rise. According to The Knot, a well known wedding website, the...

Read More »

The post A Portland Wedding on the Cheap: Part One appeared first on Frugal Portland.

]]>
A Portland Wedding on the Cheap-Part One

Well, it’s that time of year again. Birds are singing, flowers are in bloom, and most people are receiving more wedding invitations than they know what to do with. That’s right, it’s wedding season and temperatures aren’t the only things that are on the rise. According to The Knot, a well known wedding website, the average cost of a wedding in 2014 was $31,213. This is a figure that is simply not feasible for a lot of people. Thankfully, you don’t have to spend that much to enjoy a wonderful wedding. With a few tweaks and a little bit of creatively placed thriftiness, you can have the best party ever without the stress of footing the giant bill.

wed

Not too long ago, I celebrated my own nuptials with family and friends right here in the Portland area. It was a wonderful day and everyone had a fantastic time. I had amazing food, a beautiful dress, a gorgeous venue, a wonderful photographer, hair and makeup that I couldn’t have been happier with, and even a champagne toast. The best part? I didn’t spend thirty grand! All told, the grand total came in at under five thousand dollars.

Getting hitched on the cheap was the right choice for me, and I honestly can’t think of anything I would have done differently. No matter why you’re looking to cut costs, it’s important to be intentional about your budget. Have a conversation with your partner and any friends or family members who are involved  in contributing to the wedding financially. Take a realistic look at your resources and create a budget that fits your individual circumstances. Don’t feel discouraged if the number that you come up with seems insufficient, you’ll be surprised at just how far your money will go. The more creative you are, the more unique, personal, and memorable the event will be.

wed

To get the ball rolling on this whole topic, it’s imperative to start with the basics. If you are an individual who has had access to the internet in the past five years or so, you have probably experienced the swirling vortex of wedding planning that is Pinterest. I love the creative ideas and inspiration that I get from Pinterest, but it doesn’t necessarily function as a party planning template. On the one hand, do-it-yourselfing is imperative to keeping costs down, but on the other hand, you really can’t do it all. Unless you take a six month sabbatical from work to modge-podge mason jars, hold flower girl casting calls, and attend a series of dress fittings for your pomeranian, your wedding probably won’t look exactly like it does on Pinterest. But guess what? That’s okay. If you don’t get enough varnished wood pallets to construct that rustic cake table, the earth will continue to rotate on its axis.

This brings me to my first point: make sure your expectations are in check. When I first got engaged, we set our wedding date for just shy of two months out and one of the first things that we did was to take an inventory of what we both felt we needed to feel happy with our ceremony and reception. Interestingly enough “porcelain cake topper” and “signature cocktails” didn’t make the cut. I encourage anyone who is trying to save money while planning a wedding to categorize the elements they want to include in the big day in order of importance.

The next thing to consider in the early stages of planning is to get a rough idea of how many people you want to be there, this is the basis for most of your planning. Everything from the venue to the flowers relate directly to the number of guests that will be included. As is to be expected, smaller weddings lead to reduced costs. When you start working on a list with your significant other, try to start with people who you feel like you would genuinely miss if they weren’t present. Relatives, generally the ones that you see more than once every five years, and good friends are the people who you want to be attending. Cousin Myrtle and that coworker who you don’t talk to don’t need to make the invite list. It is better for everyone involved if you invite people out of your own free will and not out of obligation.

wed

Creating your initial list should be something that at least starts with you and your partner alone. Once family members get involved, the tally can increase exponentially and you end up with a party full of people that you don’t know or particularly like. As cliché as it sounds, this is your wedding, you shouldn’t have anyone there who you don’t want to be there.

If you are planning a wedding in Portland, you already have a leg up. Our incredible city is full of talented, creative, and thrifty people and chances are that you’re friends with a few of them. Do you know somebody who takes great photos? They might be willing to offer you a great discount on photo coverage for your event. You might have a friend who’s a culinary wizard who could help with the cake. Use your resources before you pay way too much for a service that you already have access to, friends and family are often even more eager to offer their help than you might anticipate.

wed

If you create a solid budget, a guest list that you are comfortable with, and a supportive network of resources, you are well on your way. For now, just remember that planning such a significant event can be a lot of fun, enjoy every minute of it and keep an eye out for some more advice about getting hitched on the cheap.

The Knot: Average Wedding Cost

The post A Portland Wedding on the Cheap: Part One appeared first on Frugal Portland.

]]>
http://frugalportland.com/a-portland-wedding-on-the-cheap-part-one/feed/ 1
Summer Getting Too Hot? Cool Off By Hiking Oneonta Gorge http://frugalportland.com/summer-getting-hot-visit-oneonta-gorge-cool-off/ http://frugalportland.com/summer-getting-hot-visit-oneonta-gorge-cool-off/#comments Thu, 23 Jun 2016 16:03:35 +0000 http://frugalportland.com/?p=7590 When summer heat rears its ugly, sweat-ridden head, what’s an Oregonian to do? Temperatures in the eighties and nineties, although anomalous in our area, can strike when we least expect it, attacking our beautiful, overcast, Pacific Northwest bubble made of sunshowers and rain clouds. I can do rain. I’m good, nay, great, at rain, but...

Read More »

The post Summer Getting Too Hot? Cool Off By Hiking Oneonta Gorge appeared first on Frugal Portland.

]]>
When summer heat rears its ugly, sweat-ridden head, what’s an Oregonian to do? Temperatures in the eighties and nineties, although anomalous in our area, can strike when we least expect it, attacking our beautiful, overcast, Pacific Northwest bubble made of sunshowers and rain clouds. I can do rain. I’m good, nay, great, at rain, but when the sun is out, the fun is most certainly not out. Chances are, that trendy, post-grunge studio doesn’t have central AC and even the loftiest loft isn’t going to help you escape the heat.

So, I ask again: what’s an Oregonian to do?

First of all, stay calm. Stress elevates blood pressure which can lead to an increase in body temperature, we can’t afford that right now. Pull yourself together, focus on taking even breaths, and try to remember where you left that tank top you bought last July, it’s time to hit the great outdoors!

Now, don’t get too ahead of yourself, you’re not going to the coast. The beach is fun, I love the beach, but now is not the time. Take a look outside, see that bumper to bumper traffic on Highway 26 Westbound? That’s why we’re not going to the beach, we’re going in the opposite direction: The Columbia River Gorge! Although there are a multitude of fantastic destinations to check out on this stretch of rocky canyon, we will be focusing on Oneonta.

oneonta1

There are a multitude of trailheads through this area but one of the most popular and the most stunning is Oneonta Gorge. Sheer rock faces shoot up on either side of this quiet stream bed that serves as a hiking trail for adventurous locals. The trek is certainly a challenge but it is also accessible enough to be enjoyed by entire families.

When you first arrive, you will be met by a short descent from the Oneonta Gorge Bridge down into the water, there are some stairs on one side and a well-beaten path on the other, in case you’re feeling adventurous. Once you have reached the water, it might be time to take off your shoes and begin to acclimate yourself to the frigidity, this will come into play later on. After a few minutes of navigating the stream, you will come to an impasse, or in this case, a rock. The boulder that stands in your way is actually the key to progressing on your journey so start looking for the safest way up. Chances are, if you hit this spot on a weekend, there are many other people making the same climb so feel free to observe carefully before you attempt anything. After you get to the top, you will see a tangled network of fallen trees that you will need to cross in order to, once again, descend into the stream bed. If you’re anything like me, you might want to channel your inner Pocahontas, maybe hum the tune to “Colors of the Wind”, it seems to help.

oneonta2

Now that the climbing is out of the way, for the most part, it’s probably a good time to slip those shoes back on, even the smooth stones in Oneonta Gorge can do a number on unprotected arches.

One thing that I can’t stress enough, especially for first-timers, is that you should never forget to look up! It’s easy to focus so much on where your feet are going that you neglect to admire what is truly a gorge-ous (see what I did there?) area.

oneonta3

Remember all that time that you spent getting your toes used to the cold water? Here’s the part where those skills will really serve you well. Although Oneonta is, for the most part, a shallow stream, there is a stretch of about 30 yards or so (maybe more, I never said I was a scientist) that gets relatively deep. This stretch is definitely best enjoyed with friends, especially friends who are tall enough to carry the gear above their heads. I was especially lucky to be accompanied by a talented photographer by the name of Zachary Senn who took the photos you see here, he is also far taller than I am, which is a major plus. For some, like my friends, traversing this stretch is as simple as holding a backpack over their head and walking, for others, namely myself, the vertical challenge is just too much and swimming is the only option. Others attempt to shimmy across the rocks, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Slippery rock face is not fun to fall off of. Not to mention the fact that floating through a beautiful natural area on a clear summer day is kind of amazing. If you’re lucky, you might just see a few rainbow trout darting around.

oneonta5

Once you make it through what is, by far, the coldest part of the journey, you are not far from the payoff. A few fallen logs and carefully placed steps later, you have arrived. A picturesque waterfall, flowing with fresh, pristine, Oregon water signals the end of your Oneonta adventure, at least for now. But don’t get too excited, you still have to make it back to the car.

Photo Credits: Zachary Senn 

The post Summer Getting Too Hot? Cool Off By Hiking Oneonta Gorge appeared first on Frugal Portland.

]]>
http://frugalportland.com/summer-getting-hot-visit-oneonta-gorge-cool-off/feed/ 3
Sun Spot: Learning About the Sun at Goldendale Observatory http://frugalportland.com/sun-spot-learning-sun-goldendale-observatory/ http://frugalportland.com/sun-spot-learning-sun-goldendale-observatory/#comments Thu, 16 Jun 2016 17:08:56 +0000 http://frugalportland.com/?p=7577 By some expert estimates, there are 70 billion trillion stars in the known universe – and, no, I do not know how many zeroes are involved in that number. There is, indeed, a reason why extremely large numbers are referred to as “astronomical.” But only one of those countless stars is responsible for life on...

Read More »

The post Sun Spot: Learning About the Sun at Goldendale Observatory appeared first on Frugal Portland.

]]>
goldendale telescope

By some expert estimates, there are 70 billion trillion stars in the known universe – and, no, I do not know how many zeroes are involved in that number. There is, indeed, a reason why extremely large numbers are referred to as “astronomical.”

But only one of those countless stars is responsible for life on earth as we know it, for providing our planet with heat and light, allowing our food to grow and even generating our weather patterns. We owe our lives to our very own star, the sun. Might make sense to know more about it.

To that end many observatories – which normally cater to viewing nighttime luminaries like the moon, planets, galaxies and constellations – now also offer daytime solar viewing as well, along with a slew of trivia about our solar system’s main attraction.

One place to acquire an education about our sun is the Goldendale Observatory, outside Goldendale, Washington and about a two hour drive from Portland. Goldendale currently offers three daily sun shows – including a presentation plus viewing – five days a week. And it’s all free (after you pay for parking). This outing makes a perfect frugal, out-of-the-ordinary and immensely instructional day trip for Portlanders and tourists.

What to Expect

On a recent sunny day, my husband and I were among the solar students at Goldendale. We began our education in a darkened room with a 72 inch screen that revealed, in real time, what the sun looks like through the observatory’s specialized (and safely filtered!) H-Alpha Telescopes. This allowed everyone to see the surface of the sun while simultaneously learning more than we can really take in about this monstrous object (How monstrous you ask? More than one million earths would fit into the sun). We saw sun spots, plages, prominences and filaments and we discovered that the source of the sun’s power is thermonuclear fusion at its core – and that there’s enough fuel there for another five billion years (so, not to worry, folks!).

Troy Carpenter, the observatory’s administrator and the facilitator for our solar show, used a conversational Q & A approach, particularly suited to the youngsters in the audience – and to the adult show-offs. If you belong in the latter category, you’ll amaze your friends when you come up with the correct answers to these questions: Q: How long does it take for light from the sun to reach the earth? A: About 8 minutes. Q: What is the French word for beach? A: Plage (pronounced plawj). (I nailed this one!) A plage is a lighter colored – and hotter – area next to a sun spot. Q: What elements is the sun composed of? A: 79% hydrogen, 20% helium.

After our sun talk, we converged on the observatory itself for a chance to view a few other stellar sensations – stars that are otherwise invisible in the daylight – through Goldendale’s refurbished 24.5 inch telescope. We take turns climbing up the telescope’s ladder to see Betelgeuse (pronounced Beetlejuice!), 643 light years away and the much closer Sirius, about 8.6 light years from the earth. The nearest star to our sun – Alpha Centauri – is a mere 4.367 light years away. A light year, as you’ll recall from high school science class is the distance that light travels (186,000 miles PER SECOND) in a full year.

Stop for a second and try to get your cranium around these numbers. Imagining these distances – and the immensity of the universe – can make your head spin. And maybe that’s the point of all of this. While at Goldendale, we certainly learned a lot of interesting facts about the sun and its amenities. But the big takeaway was that we left awestruck and filled with wonder and something like reverence for the world we live in. Not a bad dividend for the cost of gas and parking.

sun2

If you go:

From April 1 through Sept. 30, there are three solar shows daily (at 2, 4 and 6 pm) except on Monday and Tuesday when the observatory is closed. You don’t need a reservation (unless you’ve got nine other friends with you). So just show up – on time or a bit early to ensure a seat on busy summer days – and check in at the desk. You’ll want to go on a sunny day (duh) or, at least, one with limited clouds. The shows are absolutely free but you must have a Discover Pass (a day permit is $10; available at the observatory). goldendaleobservatory.com; 1602 Observatory Drive, Goldendale, Wash.; 503-773-3141; check website for special events.

 

The post Sun Spot: Learning About the Sun at Goldendale Observatory appeared first on Frugal Portland.

]]>
http://frugalportland.com/sun-spot-learning-sun-goldendale-observatory/feed/ 2
Five Best People Watching Places in Portland http://frugalportland.com/five-best-people-watching-places-in-portland/ http://frugalportland.com/five-best-people-watching-places-in-portland/#comments Thu, 09 Jun 2016 16:37:12 +0000 http://frugalportland.com/?p=7512 A suggestion for those in search of free – or very low cost – fun things to do in Portland: Why not combine the city’s unofficial motto (“Keep Portland Weird”) and another favorite local pastime (just hanging out) and do a little Portland People Watching? Listed below are a few of the very best places...

Read More »

The post Five Best People Watching Places in Portland appeared first on Frugal Portland.

]]>
A suggestion for those in search of free – or very low cost – fun things to do in Portland: Why not combine the city’s unofficial motto (“Keep Portland Weird”) and another favorite local pastime (just hanging out) and do a little Portland People Watching?

Listed below are a few of the very best places for people watching in Portland. As you enjoy yourself, remember the cardinal People Watching Rule: We are ALL weird, in some way, so judge not. No gawking, pointing or mockery. With an open mind, you may even experience a moment of profundity while studying your fellow man and woman. Sip your latte or beer, smile – and just take in all of that divine humanity.

1. Hawthorne Boulevard

McMenamins Bagdad Theater & Pub in SE Portland, OR.Hawthorne is renowned – indeed WORLD-renowned – as a pedestrian shopping, dining and people watching haven. My favorite place to people watch on Hawthorne on a sunny day is the Bagdad Theatre & Pub’s sidewalk tables (3702 SE Hawthorne Blvd; mcmenamins.com/bagdad). On a recent lazy afternoon, a friend and I savored our beers from our ringside crowd-contemplating seats where a veritable parade of Portland personalities (and a few tourists, likely) streamed past our table. We saw folks in costumes (at least we thought they were in costume? Could be their everyday attire. It is Portland, after all.). We noticed a dog hooked up to a little red wagon (ala a pony to a cart) pulling the booty – we assumed – from the owner’s daily market run. There were lots of 20-something goth types milling around and more than a few aging hipsters as well. Humanity viewing nirvana!

If it’s rainy or cold, opt for the indoor window seats at Peet’s Coffee (right down the street from the Bagdad; 3646 SE Hawthorne Blvd) or Starbucks (across the street; 3639 SE Hawthorne).

2. ANY Farmers Market (portlandoregon.gov/bps/farmersmarkets)

Portland Farmers Market

The granddaddy of these lively outdoor gathering places is Portland Farmers Market (South park blocks between SW Hall and Montgomery) but it may come as a surprise that there are almost 50 markets in the greater metro area – and there is at least one happening somewhere every day of the week. A few are year round; most start up April through June. Many offer music and coffee; all feature friendly folks and food. Find a bench or table, preferably close to the free music (if available), and relax while enjoying vistas of the human race.

3. Powell’s City of Books World Cup Coffee Shop (1005 W. Burnside St.; powells.com)

1280px-PowellsBookstore

The ritual at Powell’s is to browse a bit, gather an armload of potential purchases – and then park yourself in the coffee shop. While you’re there, be sure to keep your eyes open for the various and sundry book lovers loitering about but also for the many pedestrians you’ll see through the windows that give out onto Burnside. Powell’s attracts all sectors of the masses, from staid suburbanites to hipsters to, well, anyone who reads.

Aside from the coffee shop, there aren’t many sitting areas available at Powell’s City of Books (except in the children’s books section). (Note to Powell’s: Make room for a few sofas and arm chairs!). But wandering Powell’s – whether you’re people watching or book searching or both – is one of life’s great pleasures.

4. Portland State University’s Smith Memorial Union (1825 SW Broadway; pdx.edu/student-union)

PSU,_Smith_Memorial_Student_Union,_2012
For a glorious look at an international cross-section of the world’s people, PSU’s Smith Memorial Union might be the best viewing location in town. PSU students hail from over 84 countries (top countries represented include Saudi Arabia, China, India, Kuwait and Japan). It seems that many of those international pupils flock to the student union. The food court area is particularly ideal – grab a coffee or soft drink (or lunch) and stake out a spot. Then marvel at the many nationalities represented, maybe surmising how each individual happen to end up studying here in little ol’ Portland.

When the weather is nice, find a bench outside, overlooking the park blocks, and you’ll be rewarded with a similar vista – and the sun as an added perk.

5. Pioneer Courthouse Square (701 SW Sixth Avenue; thesquarepdx.org)

20484815058_824e245391_k

No list of Portland people watching places would be complete without a mention of the Square, aka “Portland’s Living Room.” On any given day – when rain is not in the forecast – you can find a spot and watch the lunch time crowds and occasional street performers. There is also an endless array of free events – from the Global Cannabis March (May 7) and the Portland Atheist Festival (May 26) to summer’s always popular Noon Tunes and Flicks on the Bricks. A great option is to nab a seat in the square’s Starbucks, relax, sip your mocha and behold the human race.

These are my favorite places in the city to people watch — what are yours?

Photo credits: 1.Cacophony 2. Portland Farmers Market 3. Cacophony 4. Another Believer 5. Parker Knight

The post Five Best People Watching Places in Portland appeared first on Frugal Portland.

]]>
http://frugalportland.com/five-best-people-watching-places-in-portland/feed/ 1
Portland Thrift Shops: The 5 Most “Worth It” http://frugalportland.com/portland-thrift-shops-5-worth/ http://frugalportland.com/portland-thrift-shops-5-worth/#respond Thu, 26 May 2016 11:38:39 +0000 http://frugalportland.com/?p=7395 Vintage, resale, thrift, antique; whatever you want to call it, let’s be honest, Portland loves second-hand stores. Quantity is not the issue in this town; It’s quality. In a town oversaturated with quirky and vintage, overpriced thrift shops lurk around every corner, and you might need a little help navigating this shopping niche without overspending...

Read More »

The post Portland Thrift Shops: The 5 Most “Worth It” appeared first on Frugal Portland.

]]>
Portland’s Five Most Worth it Thrift Shops

Vintage, resale, thrift, antique; whatever you want to call it, let’s be honest, Portland loves second-hand stores. Quantity is not the issue in this town; It’s quality. In a town oversaturated with quirky and vintage, overpriced thrift shops lurk around every corner, and you might need a little help navigating this shopping niche without overspending on a $200 “retro” chair. Have no fear! In descending order of price, here are the five most “worth it” of Portland thrift shops.

1. Buffalo Exchange $$$$$

Buffalo Exchange is definitely not a “thrift” store, and it is not always the cheapest. But, consistently more than any other resale shop, Buffalo Exchange has the most “I’d wear that” clothes and shoes. They stock their buy back counter with young trendy hipster girls and boys who only buy up the most desirable clothing. This is great for the fashionable, but not always awesome for savings. Don’t get me wrong, everything here is still cheaper than if you bought it new and occasionally they overlook hidden treasures. My favorite Buffalo outing involves selling a small pile of old clothes I don’t want, taking the in-store credit and walking out with a whole new outfit: it’s ethical clothing recycling at its finest.

Best for: Daily wear

2. House of Vintage $$$$

In a town where weird is the usual and vintage stores are too cool, House of Vintage is more of an experience than anything else. House of Vintage (or HOV as I like to call it) is an excellent place to pick up great vintage swag and the occasional taxidermied rodent. This place consists of multiple vendors renting space and selling their cache of goodies for varying degrees of price. Some people up-price and some don’t, you just have to take your time in HOV. The key is frequent trips to scoop up the newest and coolest items. Careful, this place is huge and mildly overwhelming.

Best for: Costumes, cheap VHS, vintage t-shirts, overalls

3. Goodwill $$$

Somehow even Goodwills are overpriced in Portland. It’s weird. The trick is finding the right Goodwill. In my opinion, the best goodwill in Portland is this one, located in inner Southeast Portland. It is a goodwill supercenter, and it’s huge. It has an enormous selection of books for basically pennies and tons of clothes and shoes for cheap!

Best for: Cheap Books, appliances, shoes

4. Red White and Blue Thrift Store $$

This one is the farthest from inner Portland, but Red White and Blue Thrift Store is a secret treasure of the thriftiest sort. Out of the way and cash only–this place doesn’t top the convenience charts, but it keeps the crowds and price drivers away. This place is much more what I think of when I think of thrift shopping. The prices are low, and they have an awesome selection of hiking gear, retro basketball jerseys, hats, etc. If you’re looking for a true bargain on just about anything, this place is for you!

Best for: Retro sports apparel, hiking gear, collectibles

5. The Bins $

This store is actually a Goodwill store but is a notorious Portland thrift landmark often referred to as simply “Tthe bins.” The bins are not for the faint of heart, but damn are they cheap. Clothing items and more sell by the pound here. Yes, the price is set by how much your pile of loot weighs. This says a lot. Crowded and a little overwhelming, you’re going to have to dig for buried treasure here, but I have found a great desk and some other hidden gems before. This is an excellent place for the super thrifty. Bring hand sanitizer and gloves-I’m not kidding.

Best for: Extra cheap clothes, decent used furniture.

Thrift shopping is supposed to be fun, like a treasure hunt or a game of hide and seek; it is not supposed to be a daunting descent into the abyss of the overpriced. Luckily, these five shops are both fun and affordable! They are always changing, and items don’t last long, which provides an excellent excuse for weekly shopping trips on the cheap. Make sure to give these places a try next time  you’re looking for new-to-you goodies!

The post Portland Thrift Shops: The 5 Most “Worth It” appeared first on Frugal Portland.

]]>
http://frugalportland.com/portland-thrift-shops-5-worth/feed/ 0
Travel the World while Staying here: Portland Ethnic Foodie Finds on a Budget http://frugalportland.com/travel-world-staying-portland-ethnic-foodie-finds-budget/ http://frugalportland.com/travel-world-staying-portland-ethnic-foodie-finds-budget/#comments Thu, 19 May 2016 14:13:59 +0000 http://frugalportland.com/?p=7468 The foodie scene in Portland took off a handful of years ago. It hasn’t really slowed down much. Luckily with extreme competition comes extremely good product. Portland’s wide variety of ethnic restaurants is no exception to that rule. So if your pockets are feeling a little light there’s a great way to tour the world…...

Read More »

The post Travel the World while Staying here: Portland Ethnic Foodie Finds on a Budget appeared first on Frugal Portland.

]]>
 Travel the World while Staying here: Portland Ethnic Foodie Finds on a Budget

The foodie scene in Portland took off a handful of years ago. It hasn’t really slowed down much. Luckily with extreme competition comes extremely good product. Portland’s wide variety of ethnic restaurants is no exception to that rule. So if your pockets are feeling a little light there’s a great way to tour the world… or, at least, the awesome food from around the globe… and still keep your bank account in the positive.

Check out these four sensational Portland happy hours where you’ll get great food and drink at a great price and test out where you want to take your next vacation.

Bollywood Theater


3010 SE Division St.

Alright, so I already digressed from the original plan. No, Bollywood does not have a happy hour. However, when you’re paying around $6-$9 for a plate of food, you’ve already sort of hit happy hour zone.

Bollywood Theater is an authentic fusion of Portland’s alternative culture and India’s mouthwatering cuisine. They focus on street food and individual servings of traditional Indian dishes. Lamb samosas, an order of Vada Pav (a spicy potato dumpling cooked fried in chickpea butter) and a Bollywood Shandy should get your day going on the right track (or keep it that way).

Cocktails are full price so sip slowly and enjoy the spice.

Pambiche Cocina


2811 NE Glisan St.

Havana Havana, welcome to Havana in Portland. It’s a good thing that political relations between the United States and Cuba are improving because hot dang do they have a knack for stimulating the taste buds.

Over on Northeast Glisan, there’s a little taste of Cuba waiting for you at Pambiche Cocina. And their happy hour menu packs a punch. Cuban cocktails are $1.00 off and food prices are lowered as well. It’s like a scene out of a movie. Small tables elegantly crammed into the lower level of a colorful building. Cuban music playing (and may I say influencing you to join the dance). Don’t show up here on a full stomach… there’s just too much awesomeness to try.

Hoda’s Middle Eastern


3401 SE Belmont St.

Tabouli, Baba Ghanouje, Bi-Tahini… it’s a wonderland of dips along with freshly baked pita bread. And oh yes, all drinks are discounted. Even crazier, if Monday is your day off, Hoda’s features happy hour pricing all day on Mondays.

Appetizers are pleasingly budget-friendly meanwhile if you’ve saved up to splurge a bit their main dishes are also reasonably priced. Good luck making a choice, though. Hoda’s kills it on every single item on the menu. You’ll be back for more…trust me.

Kachka


720 SE Grand Ave

A personal favorite of mine and quite possibly the best happy hour in Portland, Kackha is one heck of an experience. The walls are doused with humorously tainted Soviet propaganda posters, most nights there is a video of Russian music performances projected on the wall above the bar and the music… the atmosphere is contagious.

But all of that aside their food and drinks are enough to make you squirt out a few expletives of satisfaction. Discounted beer and wine is available but the magic is in the food and vodka. Lamb meatballs on a fresh hoagie roll, beef/pork/veal, and onion filled dumplings, scallion and farmer’s cheese filled dumplings and $9 carafes of house infused vodka with flavors like Mint, Earl Grey, Horseradish or a soothing Chamomile plus much more.

Kachka takes the hardware for sure.

Foodie restaurants have taken over Portland and a night out on the town with a nice meal has begun to really put a dent in the ol’ wallet. But for a more than reasonable amount of money these four options will let you fill up on food and drinks while still being able to make rent.

The post Travel the World while Staying here: Portland Ethnic Foodie Finds on a Budget appeared first on Frugal Portland.

]]>
http://frugalportland.com/travel-world-staying-portland-ethnic-foodie-finds-budget/feed/ 2
Best Places to Sweat in Portland http://frugalportland.com/best-places-sweat-portland/ http://frugalportland.com/best-places-sweat-portland/#comments Thu, 12 May 2016 11:24:43 +0000 http://frugalportland.com/?p=7361 Portland is the perfect place to find a myriad of unique workout options that you can actually enjoy. Because there are so many choices in our area, the following list will serve as a good starting point to begin exploring Portland’s fitness culture! Climb Like a Monkey: The Circuit Bouldering Gym To kick things off,...

Read More »

The post Best Places to Sweat in Portland appeared first on Frugal Portland.

]]>
Best Places to Sweat in Portland

Portland is the perfect place to find a myriad of unique workout options that you can actually enjoy. Because there are so many choices in our area, the following list will serve as a good starting point to begin exploring Portland’s fitness culture!

Climb Like a Monkey: The Circuit Bouldering Gym

To kick things off, here’s an option for all of the young-at-heart. The Circuit is just about the closest thing I can think of to a jungle gym for adults. Once you have your day pass in hand and your climbing shoes on, you’re all set to scale any surface in sight. Depending on how much you want to challenge yourself, you can pick more difficult climbs and really work up a sweat. There are three different locations in the metro area and each has their own unique layout to conquer. The best part? A day of climbing and equipment rental is under twenty dollars and there’s a great student discount, too! This option is perfect for cross training and is a great way to test your limits, both mental and physical.

Combine all the Words: Pil-oga-robic

Much like fusion cuisine, the next location on our list combines multiple great things into something even better! Pil-oga-robic is the powerful combination of pilates, yoga, cardio, and strength training which is formulated to provide an incredibly effective workout.

Yoga

The variety offered in the class makes for an engaging experience that is far from routine. The instructors are lovely and offer personalized recommendations and a relaxing, judgment-free environment!  If that treadmill has you feeling like you’re going nowhere (see what I did there?) it might be time for a fun session of Pil-oga-robic! Did I mention that the first class is free? Once you experience the unique ambiance in this beautiful studio, you’ll want to nama-stay!

stay

Get Your Strength On: CrossFit

Alright, you all saw it coming. You knew I was going to bring CrossFit into this. I know none of us really want to admit it but this intense training program is certainly a fantastic option for those looking to really, and I mean really, push themselves. That being said, your options are open as far as gyms go but I will be recommending PDX Strength. They are the number one rated gym in North Portland and for good reason. They offer more classes than you could flip a tire at and are a fantastic choice for fresh-faced beginners and seasoned athletes alike. They are so sure that you’ll love the experience that they offer free classes for first-timers, and who doesn’t like getting things for free?

Editor’s note: PXT Fitness is awesome, too. I worked out over there for about six months before I moved across town. Highly recommend.

Channel Your Inner Ballerina: Barre3

Maybe pull-ups just aren’t for you and you prefer a workout with a little more grace. As you can imagine, I have just the recommendation for you. Barre3 is a studio that offers classes aimed at improving strength, balance, and posture. It’s the perfect place for those of us who want to be ballerinas when we grow up. One of the advantages to Barre3 is that they have six convenient locations all across Portland! It’s super easy to find the closest studio and reserve your spot in class online. Although barre classes will have you feeling a bit more elegant, you will still be working up quite the sweat.

Get up and Dance: Vega Dance Lab

Finally, if you are one of those amazing individuals who spends their Saturdays dancing with the broom, it’s your time to shine. Vega Dance Lab is my favorite location on this list because it encourages calorie burn through the art of dance.

Dance

The classes will have you feeling fierce and the atmosphere will have you feeling like you’re on the set of Step Up 2. You’ll see dancers of all skill levels and fun routines that are far from boring! The great music and energetic instructors will have even beginners getting into the groove before class is out.

studio

This is a drop-in studio and it only takes fifteen dollars to get into an hour of sweaty, happy, dancey fun. I would recommend Vega to anyone who wants to work hard while having an absolute blast!

So, are you ready to get your money’s worth out of those sweatbands and leg warmers? You don’t have to be Olivia Newton John to rock that look and get physical! There are so many fantastic options out there for those of us who would like to throw a little variety into our fitness routine! Make sure to take advantage of the free first classes offered by some of the studios and gyms above; besides, if there’s something out there that you can get absolutely free of charge, there’s no reason not to give it a try! What are you waiting for? Get off the couch and tear up the floor, the mat, or the pavement!

The post Best Places to Sweat in Portland appeared first on Frugal Portland.

]]>
http://frugalportland.com/best-places-sweat-portland/feed/ 2