finding love in this.

Here are a few messages to give your social-distancing days a little more peace, love, and positivity as we all go through this together. ❤️

It takes grace to remain kind in cruel situations. Rupi Kaur

It’s a beautiful thing to have lungs that allow you to breathe air and legs that allow you to climb mountains, and it’s a shame that sometimes we don’t realize that that’s enough. Unknown

In every crisis, confusion and doubt, take the higher path — the path of patience, alertness, courage, understandings and love. Fears and uncertainties are temporary. Amit Ray

You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength. Marcus Aurelius

Home is where love resides, memories are created, friends always belong, and laughter never ends. Unknown

 

naturally painted hills, or.

The painted hills are truly a natural wonder. All of the layers of yellow, gold, reds, and blacks reveal millions of years of history. It’s incredible. Eastern Oregon is the other side of the state that gets a little bit overlooked sometimes. Yes, it’s a lot less green and a lot more desert-y, but it is still breathtaking in its own way.

Life has been pretty darn crazy since the year started! How is it already March!? Even though it’s been busy, it’s been an amazing start so far. When things get like this, it’s hard not to get nostalgic for some past trips we’ve had. Here’s a few photos from when we visited this place with our friends, Seanne and Scott Holmes. 💛

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Exploring life together is the best thing ever.
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Look at that cutie recording some videos with his drone.
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Seanne & I. 💜
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Seanne made these beanies and they’re so amazinggg.
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The Holmes & The Bitzers!

We are hoping to plan a few more camping / road trips with these two! These are the friends that have become a part of our family here and I’m so thankful to have them in our lives.

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“Painted Hills is named after the colorful layers of its hills corresponding to various geological eras, formed when the area was an ancient river floodplain.”

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Hahahah some candids because Michael has the remote and always takes shots when no one is ready. Gosh, we love these people!

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We are coming up on our one year wedding anniversary next month. I still can’t believe how fast time is flying! There is so much planned for this coming year, and we are definitely looking forward to all of the opportunities and adventures to come.

You can pack for every occasion, but a good friend will always be the best thing you could bring.

We couldn’t agree more. 💙

chance encounters.

How do you meet new people, and by chance, they will end up becoming meaningful relationships for the rest of your life? Especially when you aren’t relying on meeting others through school or work?

Well… we got so incredibly lucky with the people we have met here in Portland so far. Every time we think about the strangers that became more than that, it always blows our mind. We moved here without knowing a single soul in Oregon and we just feel grateful.

Michael and I met by a chance encounter when I stood behind him at a coffee shop. From that moment on, we’ve embraced keeping an open mind when it comes to meeting people.

Here are a few of our favorite stories that now have a special place in our hearts. 💙

 

Our Landlord

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Homemade by our landlords.

In 2017, we were visiting Portland for the first time together. Michael already had a job lined up, so he was doing a site visit. I was interviewing to go back to school. We were looking all over downtown for a studio apartment and geez, it was expensive. We decided to stop looking one night and go to a dessert bar. There was such a huge wait, so we initially decided to get a dessert to-go. As we were being handed our to-go box, two seats opened up at the small bar. I immediately asked if we could snag those two bar seats! The restaurant got our dessert plated so we could enjoy it there.

As I was laughing and talking with Michael, my shoulder bumped the older man beside me. I turned to apologize and the man ended up laughing at me and asked what dessert we were having! We ended up talking to this couple for the next hour or so. We found out that they were both in the healthcare field and had a connection to the school I was applying for. They asked about our situation and story. It was so easy talking to them. At one point, I noticed them kind of give each other a silent look, the kind of look that showed they were communicating, but we had no idea what it was…

Turns out, the couple had two homes and they were wanting to rent out one of them, but they did not want to put it on the public market! They said they could sense that we were genuine people, so they offered us to come over right after my interview to see their place!!! We were FREAKING OUT. Of course we said yes.

We brought over two bottles of wine. And when we arrived, they had so many little appetizers. After chatting for awhile, we enjoyed homemade baked salmon, sautéed greens beans, and a side salad. It was soooo delicious and thoughtful of them. We got lost in so many conversations over 4-5 hours of being there.

A few days later, they negotiated a deal with us and umm.. it was a no brainer.

These wonderful humans have become a second family to us. Without their generosity and guidance, we wouldn’t be where we needed to be. We are forever grateful for this family for what they have given us.

 

Our Friends

This one is a strange one, too. We met all of these folks through Instagram via our mutual love for hiking, adventuring, and photography. I won’t make this too long, so here’s a few photos of our adventures together. 😊

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Spent a weekend camping at Mount Hood.
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Waterfall chasin’.
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These ladies are so wonderful.
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Couple’s trip to the painted hills!
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A bunch of us celebrating Christmas. Truly a family away from home.

 

My Mom’s Childhood Friend

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My mom is on the right.

This is my mom’s childhood friend from the 70s-80s.

Let this sink in… they hadn’t seen each other in over forty years. By the miracle of social media, my uncle found her profile and forwarded it to my mom a few months ago. My mom discovered that her friend immigrated from Vietnam to Portland!!! I was living so close to her this whole time. Our family flew her out to Dallas for our wedding which was so amazing. Michael and I also ended up spending an afternoon with her a few weeks ago, and she showed us this picture of her and my mom.

Unbelievable, huh?

That is life, isn’t it? Fate. Luck. Chance.

A long series of what-if’s that lead from one moment to the next, time never pausing for you to catch your breath, to make sense of the cards that have been handed to you. And all you can do is play your cards and hope for the best, because in the end, it all comes back to those three basics.

Fate. Luck. Chance.
Kelseyleigh Reber

lunar new year.

Happy Tết!

Growing up, my mom was always someone who celebrated certain holidays with so much enthusiasm and love, especially around Vietnamese new year! She would spruce up the home with bright red and gold decorations and there would always be so much  delicious food.

I don’t do nearly as much celebrating as my family would do, but I definitely had to make some of my favorite dishes for us. My mom is incredibly (and hilariously) superstitious. Without fail, my mom always messages me to eat my black eyed peas for the new year. Well, I’ve never missed a year without eating them, so I’m not going to start now!

Black-eyed peas swell when cooked, symbolize prosperity. The mustard greens symbolize money. The pork, because pigs root forward when foraging, represents positive motion. The eggs symbolize fertility and a big healthy family.

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Thịt kho trứng | Vietnamese braised short ribs with eggs.

This traditional Vietnamese dish is simply cozy and comforting.

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With a side of rice and some pickled mustard greens.
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Chè đậu trắng | Sweet rice pudding with black-eyed peas and a coconut sauce.

 

Behind the Scenes

This is a little side project I’ve been working on with Michael. We’ve both always loved taking photos of our adventures, but lately I’ve been more interested in shooting … food! I love to cook, so I figured why not combine the two things?

We got some walnut wood and Michael cut them up for me in two feet long pieces. I sanded them down. We stained them. He created a base. And I found some fabric to create a few backdrops! It was so much fun, and I am so excited to see what happens!

 

May the new year bring in your life joys that never fade, hopes that never die, and strength that never weakens.

koosah & sahalie falls.

I think we are going to go out on a limb and say… these are our favorite waterfalls in Oregon!

These two nearby waterfalls are incredibly easy to access and you will leave feeling like you were just in a scene straight out of a pacific northwest postcard. It’s incredibly beautiful. When you go, definitely wear waterproof everything and bring extra microfibers because your camera will get wet.

We also included a couple of photographs to compare the falls between the spring and fall season. 💙

 

Koosah Falls, Oregon

Behind the scenes of photographing the falls!

Spring | The falls are so full and powerful this time of year.

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Fall | It’s so different compared to the spring season. Look closely, there’s Michael!

Feeling refreshed being so close!

 

Sahalie Falls, Oregon

Michael was SOAKED after this!! It was a huge sacrifice for the photo, but there really is nothing like a good waterfall shower.

Happy dance because who wouldn’t when you’re surrounded by the amazing outdoors?

 

Detroit Lake, Oregon

This was a little pitstop we had on our road trip. It was a beautiful lake.

If you look closely, there’s a stranger at the edge of the water. So happy we captured him in time before he walked away.

To find the universal elements enough;
to find the air and the water exhilarating;
to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter…
to be thrilled by the stars at night;
to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring —
these are some of the rewards of the simple life.
John Burroughs

guilty pleasures.

What’s my guilty pleasure? The thing is, I never feel guilty about pleasures.
Tom Hiddleston

We were talking about what some of ours were the other day, and we figured we would share them here. Here’s a few of them. 😊

 

a cozy campfire:

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Michael loves bringing life to a campsite by chopping up some wood and building us a cozy campfire. You bet there are s’mores when there’s a fire around! (That’s probably the most guilty part about it!) 

 

sweet treats:

Pecan Pie Bars
Vanilla bean ice cream on top of a warmed pecan pie bar??? Yes, please. It’s true… we are both guilty for having a major sweet tooth.

 

cuddling:

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This is from inside our home on a rainy day. We love love love being close to each other. Cuddling, wrestling, tickling, pranking, kissing, cooking, talking. Whatever it is, we just love being in each other’s company.

 

our backyard:

We got so incredibly lucky finding our current place. Our landlord is one of the most wonderful human beings ever. Favorite thing? Our bedroom opens directly into this upper level deck that has this view!! The guilty part? We prefer to stay home more than going out on most days.

 

building things:

Michael loves to build things! He removed the back seats out of our FJ cruiser and built a storage platform that has so much space AND can fit a full size mattress on top of it. There’s nothing like getting the bed set-up, opening the back window, and enjoying the view wherever we are. Also – check out the spice rack he made for me!! (I know, terrible photos. They’re from my Instagram stories haha.) It’s so nice that I can see them all now versus shuffling through them trying to find the right one.

 

pizza: 

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Need I say more?

 

cheese & charcuterie:

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Pretty much… adult lunchables. I am secretly a fan of The Bachelor series only because my classmates got me into it last year. Let’s be real, I think they easily had me at wine and meat and cheese. This spread above was just from last week when we had a girl’s night. My friend, Molly, had this all set-up when we got to her place after work!

 

Sometimes, you just gotta let yourself enjoy the little things in life. 💛

winter in leavenworth, wa.

What a weekend!

This winter wonderland, Bavarian-style mountain town in Washington state is absolutely a dream and if it’s not on your places-to-visit list yet, it should be. It is unlike any other town we’ve ever visited up here in the pacific northwest.

Michael wanted to snowboard for his birthday and when we found out this adorable village up in Washington was pretty close to a ski resort, it was a no-brainer. Our good friend, Ashley, wanted to learn to snowboard while I learned to ski, so she came along with us too!

 

Leavenworth, WA
Bavarian Village of Lights

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How can this even be a real place?! It is so beautiful in every direction you go.

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So many lights covering all the trees in the town’s central park area.

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We came into town at night, so when we visited during the day, we finally saw the cascades surrounding it! So incredible to see.

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As if the town couldn’t get more adorable, there were even horse drawn carriages!

  Continue reading “winter in leavenworth, wa.”

cozy christmas.

This was our first christmas without family, but Ashley and Byron ended up coming over and it was such a lovely day.

And guess what – we all decided on a Tex-Mex taco theme for lunch and it was soooo good!! When tacos are involved, what can go wrong?!

Ashley is vegan, so it’s also a lot of fun to adjust recipes to be conscious of that. That way she can enjoy everything with all of us instead of having a totally separate meal!

Check out our taco bar below… it was so yummy.

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Homemade vegan tex-mex taco bar for lunch!

Continue reading “cozy christmas.”

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