Portland Bucket List: Fun Things to Do in Oregon’s Weirdest City

Portland Bucket List: 7 Fun Things to See & Do in November


1. ✦ Make a Quick Stop at Starks Vacuum Museum

In downtown Portland, there is a store called ‘Stark’s Vacuum Cleaner Sales & Service‘ that does a lot more than just sell you vacuum cleaner. Tucked away in a corner of the store is an interesting collection of ancient vacuum cleaners that will highlight the sharp contrast between modern day technology and that of yesteryears.

IMG_7944-copy-768x512If you are a history buff (or just looking for some quick amusement), then you will absolutely love the more than 300 different types of vacuum cleaners lined up on the walls. There is even one that required two people to operate!

2. ✦ Go to a Brewpub Movie Theater

What’s better than a night at the movies with buttery popcorn? A night at the movies with buttery popcorn and BEER. McMenamins Bagdad Theater is a relic of Hollywood’s golden age and a place to enjoy a slice of pizza while drinking a cold, hand-crafted ale. Don’t worry if you are a wine lover like me, they have that too.

3. ✦ See the Smallest Park in the World

At the intersection of two streets in Southwest Portland, located in the center divide, you will find Mill Ends Park. At a whopping 452 square inches it is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as being the smallest park in the world.

small parkThe spot was actually meant for a light pole, but when that failed to happen it was turned into this minuscule piece of prime real estate. The landscape sporadically changes, but on this day it was a single, teeny tree surrounded by a trio of miniature green bushes.

4. ✧ Partake in a River Float

This, of course is more of a Summer outdoor activity –  You may want to done a drysuit if trying this in November!

river5. ✦ Pose Under the Keep Portland Weird Sign

The “Keep Portland Weird” slogan is meant to embrace the uniqueness of the city and support local businesses. You will see the saying on bumper stickers throughout the town, but no sticker is quite as impressive as the huge painted wall located just South of the Burnside bridge.

Bucket List bonus: Voodoo Doughnuts is right across the street!


6. ✦ Hike to The Witches Castle at Forest Park

Didn’t I tell you that Portland had some strange, yet interesting things going on? This is one of them. An easy half-mile hike from the Upper Macleay Parking lot near the Portland Audubon Society, or a slightly longer three-quarter mile jaunt starting from the Lower Macleay Parking lot at NW 30th and Upshur will lead you up to the Witches Castle at Forest Park.

Despite its name, the Witches Castle has nothing to do with witches. Although the ruins have a long history of tragedy dating back to the 1800’s, it was dubbed the Witches Castle by High Scholars who started holding kegger parties there in the 1980’s. It still a fun spot to tour and learn about the tragic history that surrounds the place.

7. ✦ Stroll through Lan Su Chinese Garden

Dubbed by many as ‘the most authentic Chinese garden outside of China, the Lan Su Garden is serenity personified. This walled garden will instantly transport you out of the U.S to China as soon as you walk through the gates.


Lan Su Garden can be loosely translated to mean the “Garden of the Awakening Orchids.” That is exactly what you will experience as you explore Chinese culture, see their way of thinking and learn a bit about their history.

Portland Offers many, many fun things to do regardless of the time of year – but get out of the house on a cold crisp November day and try one of these!




There’s about to be a shift in who dominates the US housing market

tug of war
Chris Fithall/Flickr

The balance of power in the US housing market will shift from sellers to buyers by 2019, according to experts surveyed by Zillow.The number of prospective homebuyers grew through the economic recovery, attracted by historically low mortgage rates and steady jobs growth. This demand, coupled with tightening inventories, created a favorable market for sellers.

But it worsened affordability for buyers. A report Tuesday showed that the S&P Case-Shiller index of US home prices rose in September past the July 2006 level — right before the housing boom topped out — to an all-time high.

However, Zillow forecasts that the market will soon swing to favor buyers.

“It’s common for sellers to receive multiple bids — and in the hottest markets, sell for over asking price — but these conditions will change in the future,” Svenja Gudell, Zillow’s chief economist, said in a report published Tuesday.

“As the number of homes for sale increases and home value appreciation slows, we expect the market to meaningfully swing in favor of buyers within the next two to three years.”

This forecast depends on a meaningful increase in housing inventory levels, which would slow the pace of house price increases. Zillow predicts that the growth rate in house prices will drop to 3% by October 2017.


National, Portland home prices settle into slower growth

Portland-area home prices grew at their slowest rate since 2012 during the 12 months ending in August.

New numbers from the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index show prices are losing momentum across the country, though they continue to climb year-over-year in each of the 20 cities included in the index.

National home prices rose just 5.8 percent over the past year, falling below a 6-percent gain for the first time in a year.

Las Vegas, San Francisco and Seattle saw the nation’s fastest-rising prices, while the smallest increases were in New York and Washington, D.C.

The housing market appears to be settling into a pattern that’s been historically familiar but largely absent since the rise and fall of the housing bubble. Other indicators are also showing signs of a softer housing market: sales of new and existing homes have slowed, while construction of new homes has been uneven.

Home prices in areas like Portland have hit a point where they’re out-of-reach for many who might otherwise be looking to buy their first home. Rising mortgage rates have further limited their ability to buy in the expensive region.

Housing-market watchers say that doesn’t mean prices are likely to crash. David M. Blitzer, chairman of the index committee, said mortgage default rates haven’t ticked up as they did starting in 2006.

“Without a collapse in housing finance like the one seen 12 years ago, a crash in home prices is unlikely,” Blitzer said.

Skylar Olsen, an economist for the real estate website Zillow, said the slower growth in housing prices was welcome relief for homebuyers. It could push some prospective buyers who are on the fence to buy a home before even higher mortgage rates appear.

But others might feel the pressure’s off, particularly as rents in many areas — including Portland — have plateaued, and in some cases fallen.

“Some potential buyers may wait, enjoying a rare national decline in rents and watching for the right home to come on the market,” Olsen said. “They also might not like what they see this winter, if it’s homes left from earlier in the year that were overpriced or are otherwise undesirable.”

The Portland area’s median sale price in August was $407,500. It fell to $392,500 in September.

By Elliot Njus | The Oregonian/OregonLive | Posted October 30, 2018 at 08:25 AM


Proposal calls for ‘culinary corridor’ to save downtown food carts

The largest collection of food carts in Portland sits at Southwest 10th Avenue and Alder Street, a site slated for redevelopment.

Portland’s largest food cart pod at Southwest 10th Avenue and Alder Street is slated for redevelopment, and cart owners have been told they might need to vacate as soon as May.

“Suddenly the city loses out on 55 lunch spots, 55 small businesses,” Burmeister said. “We need to find a way to preserve a piece of Portland that has been a part of the city for more than 30 years now.”

One section of the Alder Street Food Cart Pod has already been vacated for construction of a 12-story, 197-room Moxy Hotel by Marriott. Across the street, a proposed 33-story hotel, office and condo tower would replace the larger collection of carts, and construction could begin as soon as next year.

By Elliot Njus | The Oregonian/OregonLive | Posted October 31, 2018 at 08:53 AM | Updated October 31, 2018 at 12:13 PM

Finding common ground

When looking for a Realtor, most people want to work with someone they can trust, someone with whom they have something in common, so let’s see if we can find something in common.

In another lifetime, nearly 30 years ago, I worked in a commercial bakery. I already had a decent amount of baking knowledge obtained from working in the kitchens of both my mother and grand mother. However, making cookies, pies and cakes at home is obviously and absolutely nothing like working in a commercial bakery. It taught me how to handle things on a much larger scale. I learned valuable time management skills, speed and accuracy, to work in an assembly line, and how to be a part of a team. Helping each other out was an important part of getting the job done. I learned how to relate to people the likes of which I had never met anywhere else. There was a camaraderie between workers that defied age, financial, and social gaps. It was only a stepping stone towards my future, but I liked working there.

I haven’t always liked jobs I’ve worked in the past, but I have tried to learn something from each one. Which means, with any luck, there will be future blog posts.

The 18 Apps You’ll Want For Your Next Home Rennovation

Remodeling a home can be overwhelming, but the execution doesn’t have to be. Here are 18 Apps available that can help save you time and money from planning to designing your home rennovation:

Home Design 3D

This app allows you to draw rooms and test out furniture. While free for ios and Android, there are some features (such as saving your designs and 3D viewing) that require in app purchases.

Tap Painter

Have you ever held up one of those paint swatches to your wall and tried to imagine what it would look like on a grander scale? Tap painter provides the opportunity to see what your walls would look like in shades from major paint brands like Behr, Sherwin Williams, and Benjamin Moore. Sadly, this app is only available for ios, but the app is free!

iHandy Level

No more clunky levelers! Free on both ios and Android, iHandy works as your (you guessed it) handy leveler that fits in your pocket.

Home Advisor

This app makes comparing and contrasting contractors easy, and when you find the one you would like to use, you can book instantly from the app! This app is free on both Android and ios.

level                   tool                    tool2

Roomscan Pro

This app makes capturing your floor plan as simple as touching your phone to a wall. You can also use the phone on your camera to create your floor plan as well. Roomscan Pro is available solely on ios, and the camera use has to have ios 11 to work properly.

Houzz Interior Design Ideas

Free on both Android and ios, Houzz Interior Design Ideas opens up the design world to app users by granting access to over 16 million design ideas via photos. Best part of the app? It allows you to see what a product would look like in your space in 3D. With over a million products to choose from you may find yourself spending more and more time on this app. With the sketch feature, you can add notes, products, and collaborators to your photos.

Home Improvement Calc

This is a fancy calculator that gives the user access to over 250 unit conversions and home improvement calculations. This app is $1.99 on ios.

Smith: Home Remodel, Improvement, and Repairs

If you have spent awhile researching contractors, this app may save you some time! This app helps you get multiple bids from pre-screened contractors within 24 hours. This app is free on both Android and ios.


This is another app that allows you to create a floor plan on your phone. Create your plan by taking photos of a room. Magicplan is free on ios and Android.


This one might be an obvious one, but it is still worth mentioning. If you are curious about anything, from colors, to design, to products, you can most likely find it on Pintrest. This app is free on both Android and ios.

Handyman Calculator

Handyman Calculator is basically the Android version of the Home Improvement Calc. You can do your home improvement calculations and unit conversions on Handyman Calculator. This app is free on Android.


Thumbtack is a great resource for finding recommendations for contractors for all of your home- related jobs. Thumbtack is free on both Android and ios.

Photo Measures

Unlike most of the apps on this list, Photo Measures is not free. It costs $6.99 on ios, and is $4.99 on Android. The benefit of Photo Measures is that it allows you to save measurements onto your photos, so not only do you have the data, but you can visualize a space.

design                                   design 3                   design2



If design is not your strong suit, Havenly can help you find a professional interior designer to work with on your project. You can chat with a designer for free, and book your custom projects through the app. Havenly is free on ios.

Palette Cam

Also only available on ios (free!), Palette Cam lets you take your photos of your home and create custom color palettes.


This app comes with a free toolbox that contains a level tool, calculator, and unit converter. You can organize your products on Handymobi as well as look for and share DIY project ideas and photos. Handymobi is available free on both Android and ios.


Virtually try out decor styles in your space just by taking a photo! This app is free on Android and ios.


Find your vintage furniture fix on Chairish, an app for buying and selling used or “pre-loved” home decor, furniture, and art. Like some of the other apps previously mentioned, Chairish allows you to virtually see what a piece of decor looks like in your space. Chairish is a free app on ios.


Know your Dirt

We are in the midst of the spring planting season, and if you are a garden newbie, you may not have any idea where to start. While it can be exciting to start building your garden boxes or researching the best vegetables to plant, don’t forget to start with the basics. Like knowing your dirt. Being aware of your soil type can save you time and money when planting and maintaining your garden.



The Dirt on…..the dirt

Garden soil is comprised of three particle types: clay, silt, and sand. The largest particles are going to be sand, while the smallest will be clay. The ratio of each of these three particles will determine your soil’s texture, how easy it will be to work with, and how well it will be able to sustain what you plant in it.

Sandy soil dries out quickly (somehow this doesn’t seem surprising) so it requires more water. It is also poor in nutrients, but it drains pretty well. On the other end of the spectrum, clay soil is slow to drain, holding its water and nutrients in. Silt is the medium of the three. Ideally, you want to have a good mix of the three, but sometimes this doesn’t always happen. So what do you do? Add about two to three inches of compost. This will allow your soil to hold more water and nutrients yet prevent soil compaction.



The Two A’s: Acidity and Alkalinity

When I think of chemistry, I tend to imagine that mad scientist Bunsen burners flaring kind of thing, never stopping to consider that soil has chemical properties. Yet when you are a seasoned gardener, the pH level of your soil can be a life or death (if you are a plant) factor. Soil pHs run from 1-14. The higher the pH, the more alkaline your soil is, while a low pH level indicates acidic soil.

Garden soil pH levels rarely run below 5 or above 9, tending to stay in a pocket between 6 and 8. That pH sweet spot is where most garden plants will do well, though there are some exceptions, like certain hydrangeas, blueberries, or azaleas which prefer more acidic soil.

If you find that your soil has a pH balance that is too low, you can balance it out by adding wood ashes or lime. Some people habitually add lime to their gardens, but there isn’t a reason to do this unless the soil pH is really low. Should your soil have the opposite problem and have too high of an alkalinity, the best ways to lower the pH is to add compost or an acidifier like sulfur. You may have to continually make these additions, as soil can bounce back. It may take several years to make the pH changes stick.


PH Test

Testing Your Soil’s pH

Most likely, you have never gone out and tested the pH levels in your soil. No judgement here! Once again, the goal is to save you some time and money, so I do recommend conducting a soil test if you are desiring to build and/or maintain a nice garden. While you can have a professional come out to determine your soil’s levels, it may be cheaper to buy a soil testing kit, like these from Home Depot, Lowes, or Amazon. If you do decide to go the DIY route, make sure that when you are obtaining a soil sample to test, that you are collecting multiple samples from different places in your yard and mixing a little bit of each together in order to get accurate or averaged out representation of your soil.




Airbnb Income May Count When Refinancing

Airbnb and Fannie Mae have partnered to provide homeowners a way to report rental earnings as part of their income when refinancing their home. The caveat? So far, this benefit only applies when refinancing through the select lenders they have formed partnerships with. So far, this list includes Quicken Loans, Better Mortgage, and Citizens Bank. Should this program go well, Fannie Mae may consider extending it to all of its lenders.

“This initiative was developed with Fannie Mae to identify new ways of recognizing home-sharing income, making it possible for homeowners to maximize their investment to better reach their financial goals,” Airbnb said in a statement. “The project is part of Fannie Mae’s work to find new, innovative ways to expand the availability of affordable mortgage credit.”

With this initiative, homeowners who have rentals with Airbnb may now find it easier to go through the refinancing process, eliminating the delays, higher interest rates, and other loan limitations they have been encountering. Airbnb will supply its hosts/homeowners with a proof of income statement that they may provide the lender, enabling them to take advantage of lower rates or to tap into the equity brought about by rising home prices.

Have more questions or want to know how to get started? You can access Airbnb’s blog on how to find your Proof of Income or get started with one of their lenders here.

Portland City Council Tentatively Shuts Down Macadam Ridge Proposal

Members of the South Burlingame Neighborhood Association were able to breathe a small sigh of relief February 7th, as the Portland City Council tentatively voted 5-0 to uphold the SBNA’s appeal regarding the Riverview Abbey Mausoleum’s proposed development.

Consisting of twenty-one homes (allegedly cut down from 60), Macadam Ridge would have been developed on about five acres of land located near Taylor’s Ferry Road, adjacent to Southwest Canby Street and Southwest Hume Street.

Macadam Ridge initially had the stamp of approval from a city hearings officer, but it was quickly appealed by the SNBA who had concerns that the proposal didn’t address or limit important impacts to the environment. In addition to believing that the proposal did not preserve enough trees, the SNBA asserted that the Macadam Ridge Proposal failed to properly account for impacts on nearby neighborhoods, traffic, and transit. It was also mentioned in the appeal that any submitted evidence was not given adequate time for review by the neighbors.

At Wednesday’s hearing, about forty appeal supporters stood to testify, while six supporters of the Macadam Ridge Proposal testified in opposition of the appeal. This lead to three and a half hours of testimonies, including that of one of the land owners, Stephen Griffith. In his testimony, Griffith claimed that with the planned proposal the Griffith family would have made some important repairs to a sanitary sewer and stormwater outfall on the land, as well as donate ten of the fourteen acres to the City of Portland for park use.

Despite Griffith’s assertions, the commissioners sided with the SNBA’s appeal, noting that city bureaus had voiced concern regarding the hearing officer’s approval and there being too many unanswered questions from that initial hearing. While this is in favor of the SNBA and their appeal, the vote on the 7th was solely tentative, as the final vote will be cast next week on Valentine’s Day (Wednesday, February 14th).

Do you believe that the tentative vote is an accurate representation of what to expect for the final vote? Should this area be developed at a later date, what do you believe the impact will be to the environment, traffic, and surrounding businesses?

Top 11 Houseplants to Have in Your Home

On a whim, I decided I wanted to learn more about air purifying houseplants. It seemed like a great idea, as plants are pleasant to look at, and if you can extend the life of your home’s air filters, it is a win-win. So onto the internet I went. Now, I have to be honest, it got a little scary. Not so much on the plant side, but in learning about all of the pollutants that they purify. Hear me out. Strangely enough, NASA  has a list of the most beneficial houseplants for air purification. Yes, that NASA.

In the late 1980s, NASA partnered with the Associated Landscape Contractors of America to study houseplants as a way of purifying the air in space facilities. The great news is that it worked, and it also works in our homes, which are more polluted than outdoor air.  So today I have the top 11 (because 10 are not enough!) houseplants that help purify the air in your home, stemming from NASA’s list. Beware, you may start to gaze at objects in your home warily, as they are most likely filled with one of these “Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)”: Formaldehyde, Benzene, and/or Trichloroethylene.



This sun-loving succulent is good for more than just helping with that painful sunburn or cut. Known as the “plant of immortality” more than 6,000 years ago in Egypt, Aloe helps clear the air of formaldehyde and benzene, commonly found in so many things ( you will see as we continue) such as paints and chemical based cleaners. Aloe is a great plant to put by the window in your kitchen as it will enjoy the sun filtering through.

Spider Plant


This is one of my favorite plants. Why? They are resilient, code for extremely hard to kill. Which, when you don’t have a “green thumb” is fantastic. Give me more spider plants please! On a sentimental note, I do remember we had some of these growing up, and they were fun to hide little figures in. They are easy to grow or re-plant. A spider plant is also considered a safe plant if you have pets in your house. On a VOC level, spider plants battle benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and xylene, a solvent used in the leather, rubber, and printing industries. They love indirect sunlight, so there are many rooms that spider plants may reside in.

Gerbera Daisy

Gerbera Daisy

These bright flowers require 6 hours of sunlight a day in order to be at their best. While they will look gorgeous in any room, you may want to consider putting them in your laundry room or your bedroom, as they help filter out trichloroethylene, which you may find if you get clothes dry cleaned.

Snake Plant


Why do they call this “Mother-in-Law’s tongue”?? I have no idea, but I plan on researching this later. Snake plants are perfect for your bathroom or bedroom! Yes, the bathroom. The low light and steamy, humid conditions will only help as it filters out pollutants such as that ever pesky formaldehyde, present in cleaning products, toilet paper, tissues, and personal care products. Luckily snake plants are one of the best for filtering out formaldehyde. Snake plants also help absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen at night, so this may be a great boost for your room.

Golden Pothos


The downside of the Golden Pothos is that it is poisonous and should be kept away from small children and pets. So why would I include this plant? Well, this “Devil’s Ivy” is another powerful formaldehyde fighter, which is found in car exhaust. So you may consider hanging a pot of Golden Pothos in your garage to work on those pollutants. It will stay green, even when kept in the dark!



These gorgeous flowers are found in almost every color except for true blue. They are a perfect display for the living room or home office! Chrysanthemums love bright light, so you may find a spot close to a window so your mums can soak up all that direct sunlight. Chrysanthemums filter out benzene, which is found in items like glue, paint, plastics, and detergent. Make sure if you are purchasing chrysanthemums to put indoors that you purchase the floral instead of the garden variety.

Red Edged Dracaena


Fun fact, the red-edged dracaena can grow up to 15 feet tall, although slowly. So this plant will be great for any room with high ceilings as it works to remove xylene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde, which can be introduced to indoor air through lacquers, varnishes, and gasoline. Um, one for every room please?

Weeping Fig


If you are thinking you have enough plants and are looking to branch out into trees (no pun intended) the Ficus benjamina, or Weeping Fig, would be a perfect addition to any living space. The Weeping Fig helps filter out pollutants (or VOCs) found in carpeting and furniture. Yes, these VOCs include formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene (I will never forget how to spell these after this).



These aren’t just outdoor plants?? The Azalea, or Rhododendron simsii), is a shrub that is commonly found in many of our front and backyards in Oregon. It has bright colored flowers, a staple in any children’s bouquet to mom. Doing best in 60-65 degree weather, the Azalea is a perfect fit to a basement, as it can help filter away the formaldehyde found in plywood and insulation. Pretty with a purpose.

English Ivy

Green ivy in pot. Isolated white.

English Ivy is a popular potted plant that requires about 4 hours of direct sunlight per day, and grows best in moist soil. In addition to combating formaldehyde, English Ivy has also been known to reduce airborne fecal matter particles. Gross, but apparently true.

Peace Lily


This is my other favorite, not just because it is well known for having easy upkeep (weekly watering and shade), but because I love lilies! The Peace Lily topped NASA’s air purifying houseplants list for removing all three of the most common VOCs: formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene. In addition, it combats toluene and xylene. So if you are looking for that all in one plant, it sounds like this one may be a good candidate.

After learning about all of these helpful houseplants, I have walked away with a few ruminations/observations. I now wonder what in my house is not trying to cause an earlier demise for me, and I think I need at minimum a Peace Lily and Snake Plant. Which plants surprised you on the list? Are there any that you are looking to pick up after learning a little about these 11?