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.

exploring outside portland.

Psst! We are going to let you in on a little secret of ours…

 

When we have friends or family visit us from out of town, we have probably taken almost all of them (if the weather behaved) to these easy-to-visit-but-absolutely-stunning sights along the Columbia River Gorge. I mean.. how could we not?! The drive is less than an hour away from Portland. Even after visiting several times, we still aren’t tired of these views.

Michael and I both grew up in Texas, so we used to joke around about how when we would see a small stream on a hike back then, we would be so excited. Nowadays, we are constantly blown away by the mountains, the waterfalls, the rivers, the trees and everything else we get to see in the pacific northwest.

Here’s our little tour. 😊

 

Latourell Falls

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We loveeeee how moody the pnw can be. Look at all of the beautiful fog hugging the trees.
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This waterfall is gorgeous with the columnar basalt rock formations behind. It is amazing.
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It’s a big plus when you get to stand behind the falls!
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Latourell from afar.

 

Columbia River Gorge

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The drive along the gorge that separates Washington state and Oregon is breathtaking.

 

Bridal Veil Falls

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Michael climbed that big ol’ rock to get a close up view of these falls!

 

Multnomah Falls

If you visit Portland and don’t visit these falls, did you even come visit?!

Yes – it gets crowded. Probably the busiest tourist spot in Oregon, but worth a visit. She’s just so picturesque.

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Rowena Crest Viewpoint

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Driving further east along the gorge, you can stop aside to see this winding road!

 

Hood River, Oregon

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You have to stop in Hood River, Oregon for mountain views, local beer or wine, and delicious food. It’s a must! Also… if you see salmon on the menu, order it. 

 

I’ve posted this quote before, but it’s a personal favorite. 💙

Here in the corner attic of America, two hours’ drive from a rain forest, a desert, a foreign country, an empty island, a hidden fjord, a raging river, a glacier, and a volcano is a place where the inhabitants sense they can do no better, nor do they want to. Timothy Egan

sunrise at crater lake.

Crater Lake is known for its vibrant blues… but when you’re there at sunrise or sunset, the colors you get to see are unbelievably stunning. Seriously… on a clear summer day, take that road trip out there. It’s 100% worth it.

We had already planned to wake up early, but did not expect to witness the most magnificent sunrise. Seeing all of the soft shades of blue, pink, and orange painted across the sky was truly a sight to see.

We felt like we had the whole place to ourselves because no one was around us. This place is also very special to us because it was the last road trip we were able to take Layla on before she passed away.

Experiences like this always remind us to appreciate and love the little things in life. ❤️

Look at those morning sunrise colors!! 😍
This viewpoint was perfect. It felt like the lake wrapped all around you.
Sometimes you gotta hide behind a bush to get those ~*angles*~ of Wizard Island. Photography can be a pretty funny hobby.
Mount Thielsen in all of its glory in the early morning.

We also got to witness a pretty darn amazing sunset here, too.

 

Sunset at Crater Lake

Our little family at sunset. Miss you, sweet Lay.
The girls and the moon.

This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls. John Muir

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.”

pnw captured in macro.

cold wrinkly finger tips & water droplets on pine needles.

We haven’t picked up our camera in a good while… but looking back at some of our somewhat-macro shots go us excited to shoot again. We are going on a trip this weekend for Michael’s birthday, and I think we are gonna finally dust off the little guy and take some photos again!

In the meantime, here’s a few of our favorites we’ve taken on some of our adventures. 🌿

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Snuck up to this little bee!
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Getting close up and personal with pine trees because look how beautiful it is!
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Moody tulip season.
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Pretty droplets.
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SO sorry for the terrible quality on this one because it was compressed… and I’m a little too lazy to sift through alllll of the old photos for the original.
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A field of daisies where we saw a view of Mount Saint Helens.
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The fall colors here in the Pacific Northwest are stunning. I’ve never seen colors like this before. And when it rains, we love seeing the water droplets on everything.

All taken with the good ol’ nifty fifty f/1.8 Canon lens.

I wish more people felt that photography was an adventure. To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.
Elliott Erwitt

our 2019.

Can you believe 2020 is right around the corner? How is there only two more days of this year left?

As it typically does, another year has flown by without us realizing it. And of course, so much has happened. We were driving home the other day and we just went back and forth about what was most memorable and what wasn’t.

We aren’t going to write about what wasn’t so great, but in no particular order, here are a few of our favorites from 2019. 😊

Continue reading “our 2019.”

snowy hikes in mt. hood.

Today we went on our first snowy adventure of the season!

Last night, at around… seven thirty-ish, we decided, “hey, we should go on a hike because it’s been since… September?!” Life just gets by you sometimes and before you know it, so much time has passed.

We bounced a few ideas around and Michael brought up that he’s always wanted to hike Tom, Dick, & Harry Mountain. So I told him, let’s not even think about it.. let’s just go! It was around eight p.m. when we realized we needed a few things. Michael needed a set of trekking poles because I already have some, and I needed new gloves. We got to REI with about twenty minutes to spare before closing.

We woke up around six a.m. and I made my favorite breakfast for us – lightly scrambled eggs with turkey sausage & spinach and we also made a blueberry-banana-spinach smoothie! This was perfect fuel for this hike.

Let me tell you… this hike was unbelievably beautiful! It is about eight miles long with a gradual elevation change that lead to a frozen lake and ended with a view of *five* mountain peaks (photo below)!

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There were these adorable bridges in the beginning of the hike.
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Look at that cute smile of his.

Mirror Lake, Mt. Hood National Forest
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Me running out onto frozen Mirror Lake and so happy about it.
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Checking out Mount Hood back there.
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Just the two of us.
Snow hikes makes us happy hahah


Tom, Dick, & Harry Mountain Trail

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We made it! We found a rock to rest our day packs and snack for a bit.

Snacks we brought for this hike were:

  • Celery with Justin’s honey peanut butter packets
  • Milton’s olive oil and sea salt crackers
  • CLIF bars
  • Sour Patch Watermelon gummies (best thing ever!)
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Mount Hood with three (if you can see them) other mountain peaks! The fifth mountain peak we saw was behind us.

Mountain peaks you can see at the top:

  1. Mount Hood
  2. Mount Adams
  3. Mount Rainier
  4. Mount Saint Helens
  5. Mount Jefferson

Michael was squinting so much at the top because of how sunny it was. We definitely forgot our sunglasses. At one point, he had to pull his beanie over his head hahahah 😋. It was so silly.

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This was on our way down the hike.

What a lovely day despite not knowing what to expect.😊 Isn’t that the best when that happens?

The mountain is supposed to snow tomorrow, so we got lucky with a clear view. We were giddy hiking this trail and we were bummed (but definitely tired) when we finished. But! We have a few snow adventures planned this coming week, and we are so looking forward to them. 💙

May your dreams be larger than mountains and may you have the courage to scale their summits.
Harley King

backpacking at mt. rainier.

When we found out Michael’s old friend, Jonathan, from college was doing a huge cross country road trip with his girlfriend, Laura, and they were going to be in the pacific northwest, we had to take a few days to go adventuring with them!

We decided to meet up with them at Mount Rainier National Park and because we didn’t have service, we had to pre-plan our meeting site and approximate time. We chose the Paradise area around Reflection Lake.

Continue reading “backpacking at mt. rainier.”

fire lookout views.

Park Butte Lookout, Mount Baker National Forest 

7.5 miles RT.
2200 ft elevation gain.
Unobstructed panoramic views.

This was our first fire lookout!

This place is also first come first serve for overnight stays. We thought it would already be taken, but when we arrived, nobody was staying there!! 😭 We wish we had our backpacks with us. Next time we visit a fire lookout, we plan to bring a small backpack of necessities just in case we can stay!

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Love love love windows.

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Took some snapshots inside the fire lookout. So many filled guest books, old maps, and drawings from people who have been there before.

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About half-way through the hike, there’s a spot where you can get some really neat reflection shots.

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On our way home.

 

Although I deeply love oceans, deserts, and other wild landscapes, it is only mountains that beckon me with that sort of painful magnetic pull to walk deeper and deeper into their beauty.
Victoria Erikson

winter at crater lake.

Crater Lake will take your breath away. It is such a unique place no matter what time of the year you visit.

In the winter though, it’s different.

There’s a quiet stillness that envelops you when your surroundings are blanketed in snow. But don’t be fooled by how beautiful it is… winter here is definitely cold and harsh. Moving here from Texas, winter in the northwest is still something we haven’t gotten used to yet. Luckily, it doesn’t snow too much in the city here in Portland. If you visit Crater Lake in the winter, do not forget to stuff your gloves with some hand-warmers!

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Look at all of the brilliant shades of blues!

Continue reading “winter at crater lake.”

happy 100th, grand canyon.

In the summer of 2017, I did my first solo road trip from Dallas, TX to Portland, OR. It included the Grand Canyon National Park.

I drove over over 3000 miles in twelve days. I slept in a tent for four days, stayed in a hostel, booked three different Airbnbs (I needed to shower), and slept in my car all of the other days. I’ve never traveled alone, so the idea of doing so for almost two weeks was slightly terrifying. But… it was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself and I had an absolute blast! I learned how to be resourceful, self-aware, flexible, and most importantly, I learned how to trust myself. I slept in super sketchy areas, but I’m happy I did. Sometimes traveling isn’t always so glamorous, but it still can be a great experience. I know I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. 💛

Michael also had to do his road trip alone because he left for Portland one month before I did, and his road trip was totally different from mine (our maps below!).

Here’s the route of most of the places I visited. ☺️

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My general route!

And this is Michael’s general road trip route below.

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Michael’s map. 💙

Continue reading “happy 100th, grand canyon.”

evenings with mt. rainier.

ft. three different lakes

Mount Rainier National Park might be the most visited place we’ve been to since moving to the pacific northwest, and we already can’t wait to go back.

Even though we live in Oregon, we tend to gravitate more towards Washington for hiking and adventures. There is SO many hikes we want to do, but finding the time to roadtrip up there has been tricky due to work / school.

Below are some photos from one of our favorite visits up there. 😊

Snow Lake, Mount Rainier National Park

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Look at how crystal clear that water is!! 💙

Continue reading “evenings with mt. rainier.”

the ocean’s magic.

There is just something mysteriously magical about the ocean. Maybe it’s all of the brilliant shades of blues it can be, or maybe it’s the unpredictability of its storms, or even all of the life that is teeming underneath the surface. Whatever it is, whenever we visit the coast, there’s a sense of awe that just takes over us.

Continue reading “the ocean’s magic.”

dog mountain sunset hike.

7 miles.
2824 feet elevation gain.
Kicked our butts.

Two years ago, Michael and I were visiting Portland, OR because he was visiting his new workplace and I was interviewing at OHSU. We talked to a stranger about local recommendations and they suggested Dog Mountain trail.

We didn’t read about.
We didn’t look it up.
We just… went and did it.

It ended up being one of the hardest hikes we’ve both ever been on. The elevation gain was so difficult. We even got cheers once we got to the top by the people that passed us because we told them we were struggling haha 😅.

Last night, we decided to do it again to see the sunset at the top and to hike down at night. We can definitely report that the hike is still very difficult! However, the sunset made it so. worth. it. It was like we were seeing a live painting because the color changes were unreal. And we finally saw all of the wildflowers!! 💛

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When we made it to the first clearing and saw this view!

img_9153Michael waiting for me.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetIt’s impossible to not stop a million times and take in this view… or to take a breather. 😅

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Processed with VSCO with a6 presetThe last two at the top!! The two guys we met took this picture before they hiked back down. We got to enjoy this place with just us… and some Oreos.

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Those bird sounds and wildflowers. 😍

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We can officially say that we were so freaking exhausted after this hike.

We started the hike around 6:45pm.
We finished the hike around 11:00pm.
We got home around 1:30am.
We are so thankful we both didn’t have to go to work or school today.

Hope everyone had a lovely weekend! 😊

my favorite part.

Mac Miller | My Favorite Part

Lets cue this ~feel good song~ because we just got our wedding photos back!!

On April 20th, we had some of our closest friends and family around us, incredible weather, a beautiful four string quartet, lovely flowers done by A&L, & one badass, amazing photographer, Lily Hayes.

Here are a few of our favorite moments, our vows, and photos below.

Continue reading “my favorite part.”

an unexpected adventure.

This weekend we were planning to backpack up to a fire lookout in Mount Hood, Oregon. On the way there, we started noticing snow along the forest roads. I always get a little suspicious with road conditions once snow starts to appear, but Michael gets… a little ‘confident’ in his FJ when if comes to a lot road-wise. 😜

When we got to huge snow covering on the road, he pressed the gas and we plowed right through only to get us stuck in about 2-3 feet of snow. It took us an hour and a half to get out because all we had to use was a poop shovel, a skillet, and two hiking poles to plow all of the snow away from his truck. It was exhausting, but so hilarious after it was all done.

 

We obviously had to change our plans last minute, so we looked on google maps and found Timothy Lake was pretty close. There were also campsites you could backpack in!

It. Was. Beautiful.

We had absolutely no service with no one around us. After a stressful week of work and school, it was exactly what we needed to unwind. 20190511_143800

Once we set up everything, we hiked about five-six miles around the lake. We got back to camp right in time to set up the hammock and catch the sunset. 🧡41C51B51-3562-416A-8B8A-7505E545E9A1

Continue reading “an unexpected adventure.”

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