Life in Portland Blog

Where to Fulfill Your Healthy Eating New Year's Resolutions in PDX

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Ready to Make 2018 the Year You Keep Your Health Resolution? Here’s How to Eat Healthy in PDX

It’s no secret, plans to eat better and goals to get healthy are trademark New Year’s resolutions. And unfortunately, it’s also not a secret that many of these well-intentioned goals don’t survive into the next year.

There are a lot of things that inhibit people from keeping New Year’s resolutions, but 2018 is still young, so why focus on the negative? Instead, we’re here to help you from stumbling into one of the biggest roadblocks: not knowing what tools are available to help you stick with your resolution when the going gets tough. Whether you’ve resolved to go vegan, try the trending Whole30 diet, or you’re looking for health-conscious lunch options, here’s a guide to help you stay on track and eat healthy in PDX.

Vegan Delights: Where to Eat in Portland’s Trendiest Hoods

It’s Friday night, you and your partner are ready to enjoy dinner out, but your New Year’s resolution lurks in the corner, reminding you to eat healthy. Fortunately, in Portland, dining out and eating healthy aren’t mutually exclusive.

Portland consistently ranks in the country’s “Top Ten Vegan Cities in America,” according to sources including PETA, CNN, U.S. News, and HappyCow. Why? Dream of your favorite non-vegan indulgence — in Portland, you can find it made vegan. If you’re a diehard sushi fan, you can enjoy a vegan volcano sushi roll at No Bones Beach Club; if you’re nostalgic for ribs, you can indulge in tempeh ribs at Homegrown Smoker Vegan BBQ. And of course, at the dessert-staple, Petunia’s Pies & Pastries, you’ll find everything from vegan turtle cheesecake to biscuits and gravy.

That said, if your New Year’s resolution is to be healthy, here are a few vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants in PDX that will leave you feeling great:

Veg-Friendly and Healthy Spots to Eat in Portland

And if you can’t quite kick cheese from your diet (trust us, it’s a toughie), there are plenty of other places to eat healthy in PDX that don’t scream vegan. For lunch, it’s tempting to indulge in office potlucks, or run to whichever food cart has the shortest line. But there’s a host of veggie-friendly food trucks that offer healthy choice. Here are our favorite:

Curbing Alcohol: Healthy Drink Alternatives in PDX

Whether or not you’re limiting your alcohol intake for the new year, most health-conscious diets don’t advocate for a side of beer. To help you stay on track with your healthy resolutions, change up your after-work happy hour with a healthy alternative. If you crave sweet cocktails, try a glass of kombucha from Townshend’s — the floral flavors like Love and Happiness boast the zing of a sweet cocktail without all the calories. If mood and atmosphere are important, invite a friend to Tea Bar. With multiple locations, this minimal tea location will look as good on Instagram as it does in person. And for shots? Grab an immunity boost from a juice bar like KURE.

Fortunately, for all of us trying hard to keep our health-focused New Year’s resolutions in Portland, there’s no lack of healthy restaurant options in this city. What are some of your favorites?

Where to Find Your Christmas Tree in PDX

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Urban Nest’s How-To Guide for Finding the Perfect Christmas Tree in Portland

December is here! ’Tis the season of holiday parties, advent calendars, secret recipes, and great anticipation leading up to Christmas Day. While there are hundreds of traditions linked to celebrating the season, there’s one ritual we just can’t do without: finding the perfect Christmas Tree.

If you haven’t already purchased the perfect tree for your home, don’t worry! Urban Nest is here to help. Whether it’s your first holiday in your new home, your first Christmas in Portland, or you’re at a loss for remembering where you bought your tree last year, this guide will help you find the perfect tree to fill your home with cheer this Christmas season. 

Where to Shop for Christmas Trees in Portland

While we might dream of whimsical trips to Mt. Hood where we find the perfect tree lightly dusted by fresh snow, let’s be honest: it’s easiest if you don’t have to lug your tree dozens of miles back to your home. So here’s a neighborhood guide. We’ve broken our search into quadrants to help you find a Christmas tree close to home. 

NW
For northwest Portlanders, we recommend Nob Hill Christmas Trees. For busy families who have an endless number of holiday parties, or bike commuters who don’t have a car, we suggest Nob Hill Christmas Trees for two reasons: it’s a low-cost, weekend only joint that serves up trees from small farmers in Molalla, Estacada, and Oregon City, and the farm offers delivery for $10-$20 depending on location. 

SW
If you live in southwest, or you’re searching for an old-time, u-cut experience, visit Sunny Day Tree Farm. It’s a bit of trek to Sherwood, but this Portland tree farm doesn’t disappoint. Enjoy an authentic holiday experience searching for your Christmas tree with panoramic views of the Willamette Valley and acres of Turkish and Nordmann firs. Any size, any height, all u-cut trees are priced at a fair $50, and pre-cut trees run for $55. 

NE
For those in northeast Portland, we suggest buying your Christmas tree from L'Arche Portland. Located in the Hollywood neighborhood, the annual L'Arche Portland tree sale is 28 years strong in providing local, fresh-cut trees for a good cause. When you buy a tree from L’Arche Portland, the proceeds contribute to the organization’s cause, “you help create home and build community for people with and without intellectual disabilities.” Volunteer-run and open daily, we highly recommend this Portland tree lot.

SE
If you live in southeast Portland, we recommend visiting the Christmas tree lot at the East Portland Eagle Lodge 3256. As part of a yearly tradition, the Lodge transforms its parking lot into a haven of Christmas Trees. Here you’ll find Nobles and Firs, ranging from $20-$70. The selection is great, and the service is even better. Our tip: go on the weekend and you’ll find a quirky flea market inside the Lodge. 

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How to Pick the Perfect Christmas Tree

Alright, you’ve found the perfect place to shop, but how do you pick the perfect tree? Here are a few tips to help you find the perfect Christmas tree:

Know what kind of tree you want ahead of time: Each species is different. A Douglas Fir is more budget-friendly than a Noble; a Pine tree has softer, more kid-friendly needles compared to Spruce trees. 

Pay attention to color: If you’re buying a pre-cut tree, don’t just view the tree at eye-level. Make sure you look closely at the base of the tree, and examine the branches for any brown needles. You don’t want your tree to brown before Christmas!

Know how much tree you can handle: Don’t fall victim to choosing a tree that’s too tall (or too short/small) for your home. Before you go, decide where you want to place the tree in your home, and measure the floor to ceiling height of the space, as well as the diameter of the space. Before you choose a tree, make sure it fits the dimensions of your home.

Reminders: Don’t Forget the Essentials!

One more thing before you leave the house to find the perfect Christmas tree, don’t forget these items:

Transportation tools: If you’re bringing your tree home yourself, make sure you have rope or cords to strap the tree to your car’s roof, or a tarp or blanket to lay underneath the blanket if the tree is going inside (or on top of) the car.

Cash: Most Christmas tree farms are cash only. While many of these locations have ATMs, avoid any bank fees by getting your cash ahead of time.

Tape measure: This will come in handy when you’re trying to figure out if the tree you love will fit inside your home.

Warm drinks: Fill your thermos with hot cocoa or cider. Trust us, a hot beverage completes the tree-shopping experience. 

Happy shopping, Portlanders!

Little Boxes, a Portland Holiday Shopping Tradition

Win prizes in this Citywide raffle to Support Portland's independent shopping scene

Agent Andy Barlow shares his favorite way to support small, local businesses during the holiday shopping season. 

It may be hard to believe, but holiday shopping season has officially arrived. Thanksgiving is just a few days away, which means that Black Friday and Small Business Saturday are just around the corner.

If you plan on doing any Christmas shopping this weekend (or just want to treat yourself) then you have got to get involved with the Little Boxes Shopping Experience. Little Boxes is a citywide shopping event with more than 100 participating businesses and tons of amazing raffle prizes (like REALLY amazing prizes), and it’s super easy to play.

Download the Little Boxes app, and then go shopping! When you arrive at each store you will find a code to input into your app. This is an entry for the contest prizes. When you make a purchase at a participating store, you receive another code for more entries. That’s it!

Like I said, the prizes are worth it. Win a dream vacation, private cocktail classes, furniture, hotel and game tickets, a 4-day ReachNow car rental (with a brand new BMW or MINI), store gift certificates, and so more. Plus, you support local businesses.

Head over to the Little Boxes page to see more and download that app. Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy your Small Business Saturday!

The Best Places to Get Your Christmas Tree in and Around PDX

Finding the Perfect Yule in the City of Roses

If you close your eyes, you might be able to pull up the image in your memory. You’re at the neighborhood boy scout Christmas tree lot, it’s 4:30 in the afternoon in Portland in late November, and it’s already dark out. It’s barely drizzling, so you can pretend that a light snow is falling. And your parents are arguing over which noble fir to get. This one has the best overall branch disbursement, but it has a bald spot in the back. That one has clumpy branches at the bottom, but it’s even all the way around.

Christmas is bearing down on the Rose City, and despite the rain and the four o’clock sunsets, we will celebrate Christmas as if we lived in a Thomas Kinkaid painting. We always manage to! And a great part of it has always been the procuring of the annual Christmas tree (unless you’re one of those heretics that drags out the same sad plastic tree every year). Here is a roundup of the best places to get your Christmas tree in and around the Rose City this year.  

Neighborhood Tree Lots

That’s right, the neighborhood lot is still a great place to pick up a Christmas tree. Many of the neighborhood lots are associated with a church or other charity, so buying from a neighborhood lot is a great way to get some of your charitable giving in, while picking up a tree and a wreath or two.

Furthermore, depending on how long the lot has been in business and purchasing from the same local grower(s), they may have the absolute cream of the crop, getting preferential treatment and early selection over exports and retail offerings.

Holiday Tree Retailers

That’s right, area retailers are in the Christmas tree business now, and we’re not just talking about the artificial, super flocked, and singing trees that Target and other big box stores bring in every year. Many area retailers, including Fred Meyer, stock Christmas trees in their outdoor centers from mid November through the third week in December. The price may not be perfect, but sometimes convenience and necessity trump all other considerations.

U-Cut Lots and the Great Outdoors

The most romantic (and most “good ole fashioned, if you ask Clark W. Griswold) way to procure the family Christmas tree is to go out in the woods, stalk it, and bring it down all by yourself.

Or, you can go to one of the many U-Cut Lots on the outskirts of greater Portland and sip cocoa while you leisurely stroll the back forty, looking for the perfect noble fir, grand fir, or scotch pine. For bonus points, drop by the ranger station in Estacada for a permit on your way out into the deep woods to cut a wild tree.

…Or Maybe Try a Potted Tree

That about rounds up where to purchase or obtain a Christmas tree in the greater Portland area. But for extra eco-points this holiday season, consider purchasing a tree in a container from a local nursery. It can live somewhere in your backyard until you need it again next year, and eventually it can find a permanent home in the ground, you know – replacing the chainsaw exhaust in the atmosphere with pure Oregon oxygen.

[Image copyright She Saw Things Photography]