THE jPod

Sunday, December 21


After taking the dogs for their evening walk we decide to head back out to enjoy the snow... and ice. It was a perfect night for a walk. The snow and wind had taken a break, so I came up with is great idea to trek it over to my folks house. We have been bound to our home for a few days now and I needed to get some exercise! My mom is the best. Right when we got in the door she offered us hot cocoa and toasted cheese sandwiches. We enjoyed their company, watched a little AFV and headed back home. The walk was BEAUTIFUL and worth every sore muscle in my ars (I love felling sore muscles after a good workout). Well there were no pix taken of our jurney (I left my equipment at home), so I leave you with a map of our trail.

Saturday, December 20


So... snow hits the valley floor and life as we know it changes! It may not be much to east coasters or midwesters, but THIS snow is a lot to us northwesters.

These next images were from 12/17. The snow was not sticking around and it was already starting to melt a bit.

The next couple of days the snow was not sticking to much and the roads were slushy/slippery, until evening when it would ice up a bit.

These images are from 12/20. The snow has finally arrived!!!

It took most of the day for the snow to REALLY pile up... so I decided to head out after sunset. Me, tripod and camera. We had fun ;) Night of 12/20

Images of our BEAUTIFUL neighborhood in Hillsboro Orenco area.

Wednesday, December 17


December 15th 2008 at 12:55 pm I was witness to one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. The birth of Hayden Brooks. Melissa had asked me to be at the hospital to photograph Hayden's arrival. This was the first time I've ever been in a delivery room at the time of ones birth and it about brought tears to my eyes for a few reasons...

One, what a miracle to bring ones life into this world. Two, Melissa was amazing! Not any yelling and only a couple of choice words (spoken very softly at the end). The atmosphere in the room was indescribable. Three... this was special for me witness because Mel had planned for my mom to be in the delivery room to help deliver (like she was for Mel's first child). My mom did just that. I was so taken back by how amazing my mom was, there for Melissa at every moment and helping hold her up through every contraction.

I came straight home to tell Jeb all about my experience and how amazing my momma truly is.

My favorite pic of Hayden on the day of his birth.

Thursday, December 11


My friend Annette has thrown a cookie swap and ordainment exchange party during the holiday season for the last three years. Every year we all try and bring something different. I found a recipe that is quick and easy for all ages (more importantly they taste pretty yummy). I traded out the dark chocolate kisses for peppermint ones (how dare I... I know). I figured the peppermint ones look a bit more festive. So for everyone's enjoyment here is the recipe and feel free to use any kiss you like and I'm sure you could change up the sprinkles as well. Thank you Annette for always such a great time and to everyone for we had a great selection of cookies this year!!!

Super-Duper Chocolate Chip Cookie

Makes: about 40 cookies
Prep: 40 min.
Bake: 8 min. per batch
  • 1 16-1/2-ounce package refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup chocolate-flavor sprinkles
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • About 40 dark chocolate kisses, unwrapped


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet; set aside. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine cookie dough and cocoa powder. Seal bag; knead with your hands until dough is well mixed. Remove dough from bag.

2. Place chocolate sprinkles in a shallow dish or small bowl. Place milk in another shallow dish or small bowl. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Dip balls in milk to moisten, then roll in chocolate sprinkles to coat. Place balls 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheet.

3. Bake in the preheated oven about 8 minutes or until edges are firm. Immediately press a chocolate kiss into the center of each cookie. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool. Makes about 40 cookies.

4. To Store: Layer cookies between waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Wednesday, December 10


This time of year is just wonderful. Who doesn't like the bright glittery goodness of Christmas lights?... and then you add animals to the mix. SPECTACULAR!!! This year Carrie invited me to join her and the family for some Zoo Lights. Despite my on camera flash jamming, I had a fabulous time. I especially enjoyed running around with Gabriel. Oh, lets not forget about those elephant ears either, David and I were SO happy to see they were serving them at night :). Thank you guys for the great memories!!!

Thursday, December 4


Thanksgiving ‘08

The night before TG, Jeb’s brothers usually head in from Gresham and stay the Holiday weekend with us… it’s become tradition ☺. This year was without Cody (Code man). He is now living in Bend where he is going to school and working for Best Buy. We are SO proud of all he is accomplishing (you were missed). It was also nice to have some brotherly bounding with Joe. I couldn’t ask for sweeter brother in-laws. Wednesday night we headed over to The Lathrop's and enjoyed (as always) Annette's cooking. I think that should be another tradition (Wednesday night before Thanksgiving with the Lathrop's!!!). We always have such a great time with you guys.

Thursday morning we headed to the third annual Turkey Bowl (that we’ve been to). Our friend Robert plans it every year and it’s been a new tradition to go and watch the boys play early in the morning. This year was kinda special, cause my bro T joined us and brought Faith (I’m a girl that likes ALL her loved ones near).

Jeb's catch for a TD!!!

Joe showing off his skills... oh!!!

My bro T and his moves for a 1st. He was catching the most awkward passes for big plays. Not that it matters, but Jeb's, Joe's, T's, Robert's and David's team won.

The cutest Cheerleader I've ever seen.

The plan after was to head over to T and Julie’s and the sibling put on dinner like last year (the parents on both sides have been going outta town on Thanksgiving). We ended up postponing dinner until Saturday for Julie was ill (we later found out she had pneumonia... yikes). It worked out in the end we had everyone for dinner on Saturday including the Heupel and Brook parents.

Plan B. Earlier in the week we were invited to have Thanksgiving at our friends Rafa and Kat’s house. Still invited to share in dinner with them we enjoyed great food, company and games. Thank you guys SO much for opening your doors and having us over. We are thankful to have such great and amazing friends!!!

Kat and Rafael turning the Turkey.

Kat is a pro, you should not try this at home. For real. You can see her in action Monday-Saturday at the Merchant of Venice in Orenco.


Joe Joe

Sunday came around and we headed to Gresham for our third thanksgiving dinner with Jeb’s side of the family. How lucky are we… really I love the Holidays and everyone in my life.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and thank you to all who posted their stories and Holiday moments!!!

Tuesday, November 25


Our trip to Oshkosh

Most of you know by now that Jeb and I have decided to stay in Oregon (for a few reasons), yet I still wanted to share with ya all our trip to the Midwest…


Jeb and I left our house at 4am to catch our plane. Our friend Rafael was kind enough to wake up and take us to the airport (there is a whole other post here...). Anyhow, we flew into Minnesota and then took the smallest plane I've ever been on to fly into Appleton.

Small Plane

Once my Dad's plane arrived shortly after us we all headed into Oshkosh. Jeb and I took a look at the University where he would be working for the week and we all got settled in after a bite to eat.

My Dad and I checked out places to rent (if we'd decided to move) while Jeb went to work. We were off to a rough start. There is not too much to rent in this small quaint town and really I think we've just been spoiled living where we live now (I LOVE Portland!!!). I was looking forward to seeing this house that sat right on the shores of Lake Winnebago. I dug the idea of being able to look out my kitchen window and seeing the lake...

...But the house had little to desire.

By the end of the day I had narrowed our options down to an apartment right downtown or one just about six minutes away from downtown.

My highlight of the day was having lunch at a place beneath the downtown apartments called "Cranky Pats Pizza". We ordered a sauerkraut and sausage pizza that was new on the menu and we were the first to try it (tasty!!!). There at Cranky P's we also got our first taste of Sprecher Root Beer (Sprecher ended up being a big and happy part to our trip).

After Jeb got off work we headed to dinner and a movie. Thought we'd check out the local theater's opening night for 007.

We were on a mission to find great WI cheese. So we traveled out into the country a bit to find a dairy farm. Mmmm, everything we hoped and dreamed. Union Star Cheese Curds and Beef Sticks!!! (By the end of our trip, I hope to never see curds and ronies again).

On our way back to town we took a detour into Appleton, which is north of Oshkosh and a little bit bigger. Then back to Oshkosh where we spent the rest of the evening walking around their outlet mall. They had an outlet Pendleton Oregon shop... of all things (a little taste of home).

Despite Green Bay playing my Bears and winning by a large margin... I had a fantastic day. When we found out Chicago would be in Green Bay the weekend we were in town we tried to get tickets. This is a huge game and big rivalry, but we didn't have a grand to spend on tickets. So we decided to drive down to Milwaukee for the day and catch the game at a sports bar.

When we got to Milwaukee we did a little site seeing. We got our first glimpse of Lake Michigan. Amazing! It is just like looking out into the ocean. I still can't wrap my head around how fantastic it is.

The homes right on the shorelines are amazing with beautiful stone siding. They looked like little castles (some were castles).

Driving around the city we noticed so many clock towers and spires on some of these older buildings.

I love the lady bugs

My favorite was the Milwaukee Art Museum. Built like a sail it is so beautiful. There at that moment was the first part of our trip when I felt at home.

We made it to a sports bar called Saz’s (most restaurants in WI seemed to be Bar and Grills). There we were able to catch most of the game and Sprecher Root beer on tap!

One of our waitress's sisters lives out in Beaverton herself (truly a small world). She was telling us how she enjoyed her trip to Oregon and would love to live there herself. She wasn't the only, or last WI resident to tell us how wonderful Portland is (was it a sign?).

We decided to take a detour back to Oshkosh driving back up the shoreline of Lake Michigan.

Road Trip!!!

We ended up in this WAY cute little town called Sheboygan. By the time of day we reached Sheboygan the sun was setting (it sets early... around 4/4:30ish). Parking next to this amazing resort we decide to bare the FREEZING cold and venture out onto this huge pier that took us yards out into Lake Michigan. We had a blast! Cold and numb when we returned to the car… that is what seat warmers are for ;)

A birds eye view of how big the pier is. We were on the left one.


Jeb headed back to work and Dad and I wanted to see Lambeau Field. So up to Green Bay we went. I really enjoyed the bounding my Dad and I had on this trip. It was really special to share in these moments with him. FYI... he ratted me out to our tour guides and told them I'm a Bears fan. All I heard Monday was how great Green Bay played and it was their greatest win this season. Blah Blah Blah. I sucked it up and enjoyed every minute of the tour. To be honest my Dad isn't a Packers fan either but we were there for the history of the game and I'll have to admit it was cool.

We loved Sheboygan SO much we wanted to catch it in the daylight. After Green Bay we headed back down to Sheboygan. Great town!

On our way back to Oshkosh we got caught in a snow flurry, crazy cool.

That evening we headed to Kodiak Jacks. We heard from a couple of locals that it is the place to eat and it was. The food was great and the service was even better. Sandra Lee was our waitress and she was amazing. I felt like I was a guest in her home.

Was Dads last day and my last day with my travel buddy. We had been traveling SO much the last four days we put 700 plus miles on the rental. Deciding to keep it local we checked out the Paine Museum. It is a beautiful house with fantastic original artwork, yet I was a little disappointed I couldn't take any picture of the inside.

Met Jeb for lunch then went back to a place called Leon's where they serve fabulous frozen custard. Below freezing temperatures, bundled up and all, we were very grateful they come to your car and take your order to go. I'm amazed at the service they keep when running a frozen custard shop. The parking lot was never empty. Mmmm it was good.

Later that evening we headed back to see Sandra Lee at Kodiak Jacks (and Dad wanted to try their "24oz ground sirloin stake burger").

No... he did not come close to finishing this burger.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday:
Jeb and I kept it low key. He focused on worked and I chilled out at the U and in the hotel.

Our trip home. Again our flight left early in the morning. Making it to Appleton with time to spare we boarding our plane at the usual 20 minutes before take off. As soon as we boarded the plane we un-boarded the plane. The plane had a frozen something of some sort. A delay is one thing but when you have a connecting fight... that is a different story. It makes for muddy waters. I was initially excited that our layover in Minnesota being only an hour, but at this point I knew we were closing down on a very small window of opportunity. After missing two connections to Portland because of the delay in Appleton we were able to make it in time to catch the evening plane out of Minnesota. Jeb and I spent the whole day on planes and in airports. My mother says she is never traveling with me (I have the worst luck with flying and am no stranger to waiting in airports).

Jeb was AMAZED at this electronics vending machine... we found it at the airport.

Side note: Funny thing is, everyone has a recurring dream that haunts them and mine is running late and missing a flight, bus what ever you have it. My dream that is a "recurring nightmare" is not making it to my destination, whether it home or vacation (weird).

All in all it was an experience. The weather is crazy cold and the people are crazy nice. It was a part of the country I have never seen before and blessed to have had a safe and wonderful trip.