Frugal Portland http://frugalportland.com Cheap. Fun. Portland Thu, 08 Sep 2016 15:43:03 +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 6 Reasons to Spend the Day in Astoria http://frugalportland.com/6-reasons-spend-day-astoria/ http://frugalportland.com/6-reasons-spend-day-astoria/#comments Thu, 08 Sep 2016 00:33:31 +0000 http://frugalportland.com/?p=7730 Pop quiz: what’s the oldest American settlement west of the Rockies? San Francisco! Logical choice – but, no. Seattle? Nope. Uh, Portland? Nope again. It’s actually Astoria. Fort Astoria was founded in 1811 by John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Company. Thanks to Europeans’ fondness for beaver pelt hats, fur trading was a Big Deal back...

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Pop quiz: what’s the oldest American settlement west of the Rockies? San Francisco! Logical choice – but, no. Seattle? Nope. Uh, Portland? Nope again.

It’s actually Astoria. Fort Astoria was founded in 1811 by John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Company. Thanks to Europeans’ fondness for beaver pelt hats, fur trading was a Big Deal back then – and Astor cashed in nicely.

Today, his namesake Astoria exudes an abundance of historical, geographical and cultural charm. Here are six solid reasons for making Astoria – just a two-hour drive from Portland – your next daycation (or longer) destination:

1. HISTORY – ON STEROIDS

another-victorian-house

 

As noted above, Astoria goes waaay back – knowing some of that history is not only helpful but, quite simply, fascinating. The best place to start your Astoria Education is the Heritage Museum (1618 Exchange St.). You’ll learn about the history of Clatsop County from its Native American roots and Lewis & Clark’s “wintering over” in 1805-06 at Fort Clatsop (a 20 minute drive across Youngs Bay and well worth a visit) to Astor’s fur trading empire and beyond. Astoria’s rough and tumble “Shanghai” trade – when young men were kidnapped and forced to work on ships sailing to China – is especially intriguing as is information on the Great Fires of 1883 and 1922. Follow that up with a visit to the Captain George Flavel House (441 8th St.), an elegant 1886 Queen Anne Victorian home decked out in period furnishings. (Mikey’s dad worked here in the film The Goonies. See No. 4 below)

2. COLUMBIA RIVER MARITIME MUSEUM

maritime-museum

Continue your Astoria education at this nautical themed museum (1792 Marine Drive). History comes alive with photos, replicas and the-real-thing exhibits that chronicle the area’s pivotal relationship with the mighty Columbia River.

3. ARCHITECTURE

flavel-house

Now that you’re schooled in all-things-Astoria, it’s time to immerse yourself in the city and its historical buildings. Dozens of Victorian homes dot the hillside; in fact, over 350 homes in use today in Astoria are over 100 years old. Watch for “for sale” signs – it’s fun to guess how much one of these historic delights cost (compared to Portland, they are a bargain). As you cruise around Astoria’s formidable hills, you’ll understand why Astoria is sometimes called “Little San Francisco” – and you’ll be glad that your brakes are in good working order.

4. MOVIES

victorian-house

While you’re driving around, gawking at the Victorian homes, stop by a few of the locations from films shot in Astoria. At the Visitors Center (111 West Marine Drive), you can pick up a free (very basic) “Movies in Astoria” handout. Or you can spring for the $3 booklet that includes a self-guided tour. The most popular – and family friendly! – movies include The Goonies (1985), Kindergarten Cop (1900), Short Circuit (1986) and Free Willy (1993). The Goonies House (368 38th St.) is always a favorite as is Astor School (3550 Franklin) where Ahhnold (Schwarzenegger) taught in Kindergarten Cop.

5. THE RIVERWALK AND THE TROLLEY

astoria-trolley

The Riverwalk is an awesome five mile pedestrian and bike friendly path that hugs the Columbia River and meanders by piers, restaurants and historic sites. The trolley (“Old 300”; old300.org) is a delightful and very inexpensive way to add a historical touch to your Riverwalk experience. For $1 per ride – or $2 for an all-day, on and off pass – you can travel back in time as a guide provides information on the sites you’re seeing and the history behind them. The trolley runs (weather dependent) from noon to 6 p.m. through Oct. 2.

6. ASTORIA COLUMN

astoria-column

Top off your Astoria sojourn with a visit to the Astoria column. This iconic tower, built in 1926, sits atop Coxcomb Hill and offers panoramic vistas of the ocean, river and Youngs Bay. The views – and Instagram pics – are worth the 164 step slog to the top.

If you go:

Visit travelastoria.com or the Visitors Center (111 West Marine Drive/Hwy. 30, Astoria; 800-875-6807) for an abundance of additional details on Astoria.

 

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7 Reasons You’ll Love the Oregon State Fair http://frugalportland.com/7-reasons-youll-love-oregon-state-fair/ http://frugalportland.com/7-reasons-youll-love-oregon-state-fair/#comments Thu, 11 Aug 2016 12:27:58 +0000 http://frugalportland.com/?p=7705 Full disclosure here: I may be biased on this subject. I have been attending the Oregon State Fair for more than half a century (yipes!). Growing up in Small Town Oregon, my raised-on-a-farm-in-Kansas-father ensured that his kids never missed this annual event. My dad loved the fair, particularly the animal barns where he could relive...

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State Fair Clydesdale and kidsFull disclosure here: I may be biased on this subject. I have been attending the Oregon State Fair for more than half a century (yipes!). Growing up in Small Town Oregon, my raised-on-a-farm-in-Kansas-father ensured that his kids never missed this annual event. My dad loved the fair, particularly the animal barns where he could relive his youth. He’d happily point out the difference between dairy and beef cows, encourage us to ponder the strength and majesty of the mighty Clydesdales, and always end with, in his mind, the piece de resistance – The Swine Stop, to visit the mama pig and her piglets.

I continued the tradition with my children – bringing Grandpa along whenever possible. It was beyond magical to have my dear father explain the same animal trivia to my boys as he had to me as a young girl.

Over the years, the fair has changed somewhat – but those good bones are still there! Here are seven great reasons that you should consider spending a day at the fair (and why I still try to make an annual pilgrimage there):

1. The Animal Barns

State Fair animals

Yes, they smell. But you’ll get used to it quickly. For your perseverance, you’ll be rewarded with the antics of hundreds of cows, sheep, goats, horses, pigs, chickens, bunnies, even llamas and alpacas (they did not have those last two around when I was a kid!). Whether you’re a carnivore or a vegan or something in between, you really should get to know these creatures better.

2. Competitions: Part 1

There are literally hundreds of categories of competitions, and most of them are just for average folks vying for those coveted blue ribbons. These range from the pies and cobblers, jams and jellies, and quilts and needlework of yore (feels like time traveling as you walk through these entries) to artwork, jewelry, baskets, “Faberge” egg art, mosaics, table decorating (one of my favorite categories!), doll houses and “trash to treasure” creations, even LEGO masterpieces, poetry and “Oddest Vegetable” – and MUCH more. Head to the Creative Living Area to catch the action.

3. Competitions: Part 2

The second area of competitions are “live” contests. There are a host of 4-H events, where you’ll watch youngsters show off their livestock (this is serious stuff – these kids have worked hard!). And then there are the less serious competitions, like The Art of Not Shaving (think BEARDS), Milk Mustache and Pie Eating (no hands allowed!) contests and “just for fun” spelling bees. Watermelon seed spitting and corn husking are no longer on the agenda. More’s the pity!

4. Dog Town!

State Fair Dog Town

This was not part of my State Fair Experience as a child – but it is now. There’s a reason that these cute canines are a huge hit. You’ll see dogs that appear to fly, others that catch Frisbees with uncanny accuracy and still others performing unexpected, crowd-pleasing tricks. Don’t miss it.

5. Entertainment Galore

State Fair entertainment

In my mind, all of the fair’s amenities qualify as entertainment. But the fair also offers well-known bands, talented jugglers and magicians and more. Smaller stage offerings take place throughout the day while the headliners typically strut their stuff at the L.B. Day Amphitheater toward evening. While there are first come, first served FREE seats available for the latter, they’re limited and the only way to guarantee a seat for those big names is to purchase a VIP ticket ($35). Since this is a FRUGAL LIVING site and I’m a FRUGAL LIVING GAL, I have never bothered with the entertainment that costs extra (except that one time when Garrison Keillor was performing on our anniversary). Maybe I’m a purist? For me, the state fair is where you commune with farm animals and eat curly fries – not stand in line in the burning sun hoping for a free seat to see Tommy James & the Shondells or, alternatively, pay $35 for the privilege. Just my two cents.

6. It’s a GREAT Value

State Fair rides 1

One of the ways that the fair has changed is the kinds of admission discounts available. When my kids were little, they had a day called (and I’m just guessing on the exact title here), “Dress up a vegetable and get in free day.” Count us in! They don’t have that one any longer but the good news is that the cost of admission has stayed very reasonable over the years. Even if you pay full price ($8 at the gate; $6 in advance for adults), the fair is an incredible deal, with far more stuff to see than you could cram into a day. And there still are some nice discounts. For example, opening day admission is only $1.50! And seniors (65+) get in for $1 any day. Visit oregonstatefair.org for more discount possibilities.

7. You’ll get in Touch with Your Inner Farmer

Whether we’re city slickers, suburbanites or small town denizens, we all can find tillers of the land somewhere in our genetic history. Fully experiencing the state fair – the animals, 4-H shows, blue ribbon giant pumpkin winners and beyond – feels somehow familiar, even warm and fuzzy, on a molecular level. At least it does for me. You’ll have to check it out to see if it does the same for you. Enjoy!

 

If you go:

The Oregon State Fair takes place starting Aug. 26 through Sept. 5. Visit oregonstatefair.org for more information.

 

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Downtown Portland, Then and Now: 2007-2014 http://frugalportland.com/downtown-portland-now-2007-2014/ http://frugalportland.com/downtown-portland-now-2007-2014/#comments Tue, 09 Aug 2016 18:00:06 +0000 http://frugalportland.com/?p=7698 Portland has really changed in the last decade or so. It’s easy to forget how quickly buildings go up and the skyline changes, and that’s why these slides (which are interactive — just drag on the arrows!) are so eye-opening. The first set of images is from 2007, and the second set was taken just...

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Portland has really changed in the last decade or so. It’s easy to forget how quickly buildings go up and the skyline changes, and that’s why these slides (which are interactive — just drag on the arrows!) are so eye-opening. The first set of images is from 2007, and the second set was taken just eight years later.

It’s crazy to me how quickly the skyline can change. We’re seeing the same thing now, especially downtown and in some underdeveloped quadrants. Buildings go up seemingly overnight, and I can’t wait to see what the next eight years will bring to this city.

Check out these differences, as compiled by rental website, RENTCafé:

1. 3939 SW Bond Ave, Block 49, and The Matisse – Southwest Portland

2. Mirabella Portland, The Ardea, and Riva on the Park – Southwest Portland

3. Ladd Tower – Downtown

4. Cyan – Downtown

5. First & Main – Downtown

6. Twelve West – Downtown

7. 937 Condominiums – Pearl District

8. Machine Works Building and Enso Apartments – Pearl District

9. Asa Flats + Lofts, The Lovejoy, and Enso – Pearl District

10. Bud Clark Commons – Old Town Chinatown


So, if you visited Portland a decade ago, chances are the Portland you see today is wildly different, and because we’re growing so quickly, it’ll look wildly different in another decade.

Where is this growth headed? Skyward. Watch Northeast Portland (just over the Fremont Bridge) in the next few years. Ever since the New Seasons was built in that neighborhood, there has been rapid change, with more rentals coming available every month.

Is your part of Portland changing?

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Five Reasons to Visit Portland’s Wishing Tree http://frugalportland.com/five-reasons-visit-portlands-wishing-tree/ http://frugalportland.com/five-reasons-visit-portlands-wishing-tree/#comments Thu, 04 Aug 2016 12:34:00 +0000 http://frugalportland.com/?p=7667 If you aren’t aware of this iconic Portland landmark and you’re interested in experiencing All Things Portland then you really must add, “Visit the Wishing Tree” to your Portland to-do list. The Wishing Tree is exactly what it sounds like: a towering elm where you can write down a wish (all necessary materials provided free of...

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If you aren’t aware of this iconic Portland landmark and you’re interested in experiencing All Things Portland then you really must add, “Visit the Wishing Tree” to your Portland to-do list.

The Wishing Tree is exactly what it sounds like: a towering elm where you can write down a wish (all necessary materials provided free of charge) and then tie it to a branch or leaf (no thumbtacks or nails are used; the tree is not harmed). Several hundred – perhaps thousands? – of folks have already made this pilgrimage and put their wishes “out there.”

This tree of dreams is located in the parking strip in front of the house at 2954 NE 7th Ave (between Stanton and Siskiyou, just down from Irving Park). The owners of the home started the tradition by putting their own wishes on the tree in late 2013. When others followed suit, they decided to provide tags (with strings) and Sharpies for those who wanted to add their own thoughts. And the magic began…

The Wishing Tree Experience includes both reading others’ wishes – and creating your own, if you’re so inclined. And then, perhaps, taking a moment to visualize all of this good stuff actually happening.

I LOVE the Wishing Tree and encourage everyone I know to check it out. Here’s why:

1. The Wishing Tree is FUN

find my community

Apparently, people who are into making wishes (or at least many of them) like a chuckle. As you read through the offerings you will find many light-hearted and even some belly-laugh-inducing sentiments. Probably my favorite is this one: On one side of a tag: “ONE BILLION $” and then on the flip-side “OR AVOCADOS”. Made you smile, didn’t it?

2. The Wishing Tree Inspires Creativitythe wishing tree is fun

Along with humor, there is art! For example: “I wish my cats could talk” (with not half-bad illustrations). “I WISH UNICORNS WERE REAL.” (Again with illustrations). “I WISH I WASN’T A ROBOT” (ALSO with illustrations).

Some folks even bring their own homemade “tags” like the individual who hung a purple-dotted clam shell (?) on the tree, emblazoned with “To Claim My Own Voice.”

3. The Wishing Tree is Profound

the wishing tree is profound

This is surely the primary reason that I love the Wishing Tree. Reading the wishes of others makes me think about the world and my role in it and it often makes me realize how good my own life is (even when it borders on the mundane).

Many people express hopes for sick relatives and friends: “I wish for my mom’s health to get better and to be happy.” “I wish Grace feels better soon.”

Others combine hopes for the planet with their personal desires: “I wish for World Peace and an end to hunger and homelessness. I also wish to travel the world and one day own a home in NE Portland with my family” “I wish to use my 40 year old voice to empower other women to change the world.”

Many are intensely personal while expressing almost universal feelings: “I wish to find my place in life, to worry less and have pure happiness.” “I WISH TO FIND MY COMMUNITY. MY TRIBE. MY FOREVER HOME.”

Some read more like Pema Chodron-inspired affirmations than wishes (not that there is anything wrong AT ALL with that!): “May my heart open. May I be filled with loving kindness.” “I wish that all Beings feel Loved & release their pains. Express only Love to Others.”

My favorites are those that I need to dwell on a bit, that maybe I hadn’t ever thought of but that, having now read them, I can see their truth: “I WISH EVERYONE the Best, No matter what you’ve done in the past.” “I wish to become the best me I can be & to inspire everyone to be the best thems they can be.”

4. The Wishing Tree Builds Community

the wishing tree builds community

I’m certain that those living in proximity to it treasure this tree. But I believe there’s also a connection made when you read about others’ dreams and hopes – and add your own – whether or not you’re a geographical neighbor. Just the realization that we all share many of the same goals, aspirations, and thoughts is a powerful thing. It imparts a feeling of spiritual connection to others – and that’s not a bad place to start, whether we want to change the world or just get a second interview for a job.

5. The Wishing Tree Gives you Permission to Dream

one billion dollars

How often do you ask yourself what you REALLY want in this world? Not what others want for you or what the world tells you that you should want. Take a moment to truly ponder the possibilities.

Then, make a wish (or two or three). Put them out there in the world (compliments of The Wishing Tree). And see what happens.

 

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Montavilla: A Quiet Neighborhood that is More than Meets the Eye http://frugalportland.com/montavilla-quiet-neighborhood-meets-eye/ http://frugalportland.com/montavilla-quiet-neighborhood-meets-eye/#comments Thu, 28 Jul 2016 12:00:48 +0000 http://frugalportland.com/?p=7651 After Belmont Records was closed in my neighborhood to make room for the future home of yet another condo high rise, I began my hunt for the next charming Portland area to spend my days relaxing; and it did not take me long at all to fall in love with Montavilla. This small, quiet, and...

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After Belmont Records was closed in my neighborhood to make room for the future home of yet another condo high rise, I began my hunt for the next charming Portland area to spend my days relaxing; and it did not take me long at all to fall in love with Montavilla. This small, quiet, and fairly unassuming East-Portland neighborhood is perfect for anyone who doesn’t love high rise condos and artisan ice cream stores with lines around the corner. Next time you’re in the neighborhood, or simply in the mood for something a little more low-key Portland, take an afternoon to visit these five Montavilla gems.

Bipartisan Cafe

Easily one of my favorite coffee shops in the city, the walk to Bipartisan Cafe has become my Sunday morning ritual. Bustling without being crowded, Bipartisan exudes casualness and boasts extra large, extra soft couches and a warm environment. It also has tons of food options, pastries, and possibly my favorite breakfast combination ever; I would eat their Jalapeno & Salt bagel with lox, and a small Latte every single day if life permitted.

The Academy Theater

Photo by the Academy Theater

Photo by the Academy Theater

Portland experiences no shortage of vintage movie theaters, and Montavilla is no exception to that rule. Similar to the Laurelhurst Theater, The Academy Theater offers $4 adult tickets, new(ish) and classic movies, and in-theater babysitting. All together, this makes for an absolutely fantastic, and frugal, date night theater.

The Observatory

The Observatory has it all: Brunch, lunch, dinner, happy hour, and great cocktails! Their happy hour menu offers up more generous food options than many competitors–think hearty fish tacos instead of scant cheese plates–and budget friendly drinks. If the front of the restaurant is ever too crowded for your taste, check out the Observatory’s more low-key back bar Over and Out. If you’re feeling spendy, the Signature Cocktail menu offers up a great Lavender Lemondrop!

Montavilla Farmers Market

Compared to downtown’s overcrowded market, The Montavilla Farmers Market is the quiet laid-back market you’d expect to find in a small town. Loaded with local produce, plants, baked goods and more, Montavilla’s seasonal, Sunday morning market offers everything you expect from your farmers market, without the overwhelming crowds. As an added FYI,  Montavilla and most other Portland Farmers Markets, participate in a program that allows EBT users to double their spending money by up to ten dollars.

Portland Tub and Tan

Why buy a hot tub, when you could just rent one for the hour? The quirkiest of my Montavilla finds, I was extremely skeptical of this whole concept at first, but it turns out Portland Tub and Tan is totally legit, clean, safe, and fun! Where else in Portland can you soak in a private tub with close friends without shelling out next month’s rent?

I guarantee that after checking out just one of these places, you will find yourself enamored with Montavilla’s laid-back charm. Get your exploring in soon though– before Montavilla becomes Portland’s next up and coming victim!

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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...

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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

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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,...

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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 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...

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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...

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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...

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 

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