Melissa Kaylene: July 2013

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Local Event // The Bite of Oregon


The Bite is Coming.
Have you ever attended The Bite of Oregon before? It's a fun event held every year at the Tom McCall Waterfront Park in Portland, and it benefits the Special Olympics of Oregon.
What is it exactly? It's a collaboration of delectable food and drinks from some of the best restaurants, wineries, and breweries around. The Bite has something for everyone and I guarantee you will find something that pleases you palate! There is also a variety of entertainment including two live stages, a kids area stage, and an Iron Chef competition.
This year is The Bite of Oregon's 30 celebration, and with an average of nearly 50,000 attendees each year, The Bite is definitely the place to be on August 9-11th!  This year there is also a new event going on called Oregon's Bountiful Table, which brings Farm to Table food to a new level as attendees can actually meet the farmer, rancher, and fisher who grew, raised or caught the food which was prepared!
 My husband and I were lucky enough to drive up for the afternoon a couple years ago, and I'm excited to head back this year and share our adventure with you!
To find out more information on this culinary event, including times and prices, check out their website:
Come on out, have some fun, and help benefit a great organization!
full disclosure: I have been gifted admission tickets in exchange for this post and any related posts. All opinions are my own.

Monday, July 29, 2013

A Local Plate Dinner Party

Last Friday we had a few friends over for dinner. But not just any dinner. We made them come over and cook with us. You see, there is a new dinner idea in the Portland area and it's called Local Plate. If you like the idea of fresh, local food this concept is awesome. They offer a variety of dinner meal kits, and all of the ingredients come from our own local farms. All of the meat they use is antibiotic and hormone free, and everything comes pre-measured and the directions are easy to use. The food is fresh, simple, and delicious.

 I know I've often walked past the array of beautiful greens at farmer's markets but really had no creativity on how to prepare them together to create a meal. After cooking these recipes, I realize how easy it really is. We tried two of their current meals, Herb-Roasted Chicken, Potatoes and Chard, with Shallot Mint Vinaigrette and Flat Iron Steak Salad with Herbed Rice. We all jumped in and started rinsing, slicing, dicing, mincing, and mixing. The kids even got excited over greens and helped out. (They were in awe of how colorful the chard was!) We managed to get both recipes finished at the same time because it was so much easier having everything pre-measured. Of course it wouldn't be a dinner party without appetizers and wine, so I made fruit, cheese and cracker platters to nibble on while we put our guests to work!

We sat down and tasted the fruits of our not-so-hard work. Having two meals offered a good variety so that everyone would find something that would please their palate. We sat their catching up with friends, while the kids all played together. We finished the evening up with slices of apple pie.

Normally having people over for dinner is a little stressful to say the least. You have to cook extra, plan more, have extra shopping trips, and although I absolutely love doing it, this was a fun new twist on a dinner party. The best part is since everything at Local Plate is fresh, their selection of meal kits changes seasonally! I can't wait to see what new recipes come up next, and they offer delivery in the Portland area, or have the meals available for pick up also.

Have you ever had a dinner party where everyone chipped in and cooked the meal? I'd love to hear about it! And if you are local to the area, check out their site and tell them Melissa sent ya! ;)

Our dinner kits were c/o Local Plate in exchange for an article. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Life Lately

Coffee dates
Dinner parties
Ice cream treats
Blueberry picking
Birthday parties
Life lately via my Instagram.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Mother/Daughter Date.

I don't go out with just one of my children at a time very often.
Life is busy, time is short, and my husband has to be able to be home at the same time to watch the other kids, or visa-versa.
Well, I knew I needed to set some time aside to spend with Emma. Being the middle child I feel sometimes that she doesn't get as much attention as she deserves.
And I don't want that to happen.
So today I took her down to the Third Street Pizza shop where we split a Hawaiian pizza while watching Monster's University.
Her tiny body sat there barely able to keep the theatre seat down - in awe of the experience.
When the movie was over I asked her if she thought the movie was fun, and her reply was, "Momma, it wasn't was awesome!"
Afterwards we stopped over at Starbucks and she ordered a vanilla bean frappacino and I bought my usual iced grande triple shot non-fat white mocha. We sat outside in the beautiful sunshine sipping our drinks and gazing at birds. She loves birds.
She kept saying, "Thank you momma, I love having mommy days together."
After a couple more stops we headed back home for dinner, and Emma was in such a wonderful mood all evening.
They all need one on one attention from mommy's and daddy's. I'm glad we had a mother/daughter date.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Create.Simplify.Inspire. #27

Welcome back! Can you believe July is almost over? This summer is flying by! I'd love for you to share some of the fun summer related things you have been doing!

If you are new and haven't linked up before, this is a page where we can share some of our favorite things we created, or things that inspire us. If you are a blogger, link up to your post. If you aren't a blogger you can also link up from your Instagram or other social media page that you share on. This is a weekly post for us all to share our inspirations. Thanks so much for helping me make this happen!


Create.Simplify.Inspire. #27

Willamette Valley Wonder Woman
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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Portland Aquarium Adventures

   Last week the kids and I were lucky enough to check a few things off of our summer bucket list, one of them being the Portland Aquarium. (Remember me talking about it here?) The Aquarium opened last year and I had been wanting to pay it a visit, so since it was something new it was a must-do this summer.

   I didn't tell the kids where we were going until we were about 20 minutes away. They freaked out (as only kids can get away with) and the trio screamed and shouted in joy. They were so happy that we weren't just running errands!

 When we first stepped foot into the building, I instantly knew that this place was catered towards kids, and that mine were thoroughly going to enjoy our visit. The gift shop is your starting and ending point to the Aquarium. You walk in, pay admission, then find yourself browsing through a series of themed rooms until eventually you are back at the beginning.

  There's quite a variety of things to look at inside. There are little pools for young children so they can touch the fish and starfish. There is a lorikeet aviary exhibit in a rain forest room, where kids can hold and feed the birds, as well as climb in the indoor jungle gym. There are reptiles to peek at, and so many different species of fish to gaze upon. Many of the viewing windows are lower, which is nice so I didn't have to pick up the little ones each time they wanted to see something.

 The real popular place for my kids was the big pool exhibit with sting rays and small sharks that children can touch. My kids just stood there in awe - a little brave, a little scared; mesmerized by the creatures dancing in the water underneath blue lighting.

  Anika was brave enough to touch them.

  All in all it was a fun afternoon outing for us to share. I was pleased to see that all of the exhibits that allowed touching were monitored closely by staff. After loading up with souvenirs my kids declared that they already wanted to come back to show their dad around!

  The Portland Aquarium also has areas designated for birthday parties, and they do this little activity called Sleepover with the Sharks....where kids can stay over and camp out with the fish and get a behind the scenes tour, feed the birds, watch movies, and get breakfast in the morning. Anika is already begging me for that one. :)

  One last thing they offer is free admission for any foster children. That just melts my heart right there.

  If you have little kids and an open afternoon you should stop by and check the Aquarium out and tell me what your kids thought of it!

I was offered an annual family pass in return for a written post; all thoughts expressed are my own.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Guest Post // Golf Cupcakes

Welcome! Today I have a guest post from Jennifer who is a contributor to If you are interested in guest posting or holding a giveaway on Willamette Valley Wonder Woman make sure your check out my Media Kit. Currently all who purchase side bar advertising will also have an opportunity to guest post as well.

Score a hole in one with DIY golf cupcakes

By Jennifer Osieczanek,

I don’t know about you, but when it comes time to celebrate my husband’s birthday, he’s not forthcoming with party ideas. Sure, he claims he doesn’t like the fuss - but we all know that’s not true.

So, when his b-day rolled around, I decided to take matters into my own hands. Knowing there’s nothing he loves more than golf, I found a way to incorporate the sport into our simple get-together with friends by making super cute (but in a manly way, of course) golf cupcakes. And also knowing there’s nothing I love more than a good deal, I was sure to find valuable coupons on supplies on the grocery page, where you can virtually clip and print coupons on cake mix and more.     

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Your favorite cake recipe or mix (find a Duncan Hines coupon here)
  • White/vanilla frosting (it must be white)
  • Green food coloring/tint
  • Red food coloring/tint (optional)
  • Yellow food coloring/tint (optional)
  • Fondant
  • Cupcake holders 
  • Toothpicks
  • Cake decorating ball tool
  • Black food-safe marker
  • White nonpareils sprinkles
  • Food safe marker

I made two different batches of cupcakes, but both started with your standard vanilla cake. If you’ve got a favorite recipe, perfect. If that recipe comes from a box - no problem!

Once your cupcakes are baked and cooled, the fun begins.

Using your favorite vanilla or white frosting (chocolate won’t work because, well, golf balls are white), smoothly cover half your cupcakes. Set those cupcakes in the refrigerator to cool because you’ll need the icing to be a bit firm for the next step.

While the white cupcakes are cooling, tint the rest of your frosting green. I prefer gel tints because of the vivid color they produce. Frost your remaining cupcakes with the green. You can cover them with a smooth finish, or, if you have a decorating tip for grass, go to town!

Next, we’ll make flags. You can usually pick up fondant at your local grocery or craft store. (HobbyLobby, Michaels and Wilton.) You don’t need much for this project, so get a small box if you don’t regularly use the icing. Choose white if you want to tint it yourself, or grab a primary color pack if you’re in a hurry. If you choose white, again, I recommend using the gel tint. I used yellow and red to pop against the green frosting.

Roll out your colored fondant to about 1/8th of an inch thick, then simply cut out small rectangles. Wrap one edge of the fondant around a toothpick to make a flag. Using the food-safe marker, you can write numbers on the flag -- 1 through 18 to represent holes on a golf course or go with the age of the honoree. Then stick the toothpick into your green cupcakes and you’ve got a putting green. The finishing touch for these cakes is to place one white nonpareils sprinkle near the flag to represent a golf ball. How close? Depends on how good the golfers you know are!

By now, your white cupcakes should be well chilled and the frosting somewhat stiff. This next step does require some patience, but it produces some cute cakes. Using a decorating ball tool, create indents in the frosting. Start in the center and make rings of “dimples” until you reach the edge of the cupcakes. You may need to periodically re-chill the cupcakes if the frosting is too soft, but once you’re done, you’ll have cupcakes that look like golf balls.

Now, just wrap up a fun golf gift and all that’s left to do, as they say in the world of clubs and tees, is slice!

Jennifer Osieczanek is a contributor to

Photo Credit: Jennifer Osieczanek

Sunday, July 21, 2013

A Weekend Wedding.

This past weekend Wayne and I attended a wedding. It was Wayne's best friends step-son, which I have only met a handful of times, but my husband knew him from the age of 8 on. I was so excited to have an excuse to dress up and have "grown up" time, as this was an adults only ceremony and reception. It was held outdoors in the Abernethy Center in Oregon City, and the day had been a hot one, but the ceremony didn't start until 6:30 pm so the weather cooled down perfectly.

Guests were greeted with a glass of champagne, and we all sat in place for the short and sweet ceremony. We were then brought over to the big tent where we were greeted with glasses of wine as we found our tables. Complimentary wines and beers were available all evening from the bar, and a range of cocktails were available for purchase.

 Photographers snapped away as everyone mingled waiting for the wedding party to return and dinner to begin. Sinatra music played in the background making the atmosphere magical.

The food was delicious. A pear salad, smoked Gouda mashed potatoes, open faced chicken cordon bleu, and olive ciabatta bread filled us up while we watched an adorable film a friend made out of interviews from the bride and groom.

After our meal more champagne was passed around and toasts were made and cake was cut. Multiple flavors of cakes were passed around and the dancing began for the last two hours of the party.

The wedding went so smoothly without an apparent hitch, and there was plenty of ample staff to run the behind the scenes work. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't just a little jealous of this memorable evening, but I'm so glad we were invited to attend! It was a good party. :)


Saturday, July 20, 2013

My Passion is Living.

I have been thinking a lot the past few days about this blog. I've seen it evolve slowly since the inception of it, and it makes me reflect on what this is all about. I created the blog to share my life, creations, and inspirations. Over the past few months I have added local places and events that I share.
It has really got me contemplating my life. In the blogging world I hear lots about finding that perfect niche for your readers. There is some fabulous blogs out there that devote themselves to a singular or a couple topics and are wonderful reads. I just don't think I could do it. My ADD nature would get bored with one thing, because, that's not my passion.
But I think I've figured out just what my passion is. It's living. That's what I'm doing here, isn't it? I'm showing you my life, in many aspects. That is what keeps me blogging. Sharing this. This must be my passion.
What is living? It's different for everyone. After all, I fully believe there are some people that go through the motions of life, and aren't really living their life.
Being active in your everyday happenings; exploring; trying new things. These are what I consider living. So perhaps, this is my "niche".
My passion is living.
What's yours?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Create.Simplify.Inspire. #26

There were some great posts last week!! I just want to say thank you to everyone who stops by and shares with us every week :)

If you are new and haven't linked up before, this is a page where we can share some of our favorite things we created, or things that inspire us. If you are a blogger, link up to your post. If you aren't a blogger you can also link up from your Instagram or other social media page that you share on. This is a weekly post for us all to share our inspirations. Thanks so much for helping me make this happen!


Create.Simplify.Inspire. #26

Willamette Valley Wonder Woman
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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Oregon Zoo // Summer Bucket Check-Off

Last week the Oregon Zoo was having their discount day which is held on the 2nd Tuesday of the month and admission is reduced down to only $4 per person.

The zoo was on our summer bucket list, so I thought what a great time to cross that one off. I invited my friend and her niece, as well as my daughters two friends. It's a good thing my expedition can't hold anymore because 6 kids for 2 adults is plenty for me! :)

Well everything was packed, set out; all ready to go for the next morning when I noticed a post on Twitter of all places. It said the Oregon Zoo was expecting 14,000 + on their discount Tuesday, as the one in July averages one of the all time highs in attendance every year.

My mouth about dropped open. 14,000? That's a lot of people. But, I had already told these kids and I couldn't break their hearts, so I told myself that it would be fine.

We arrived there about 10:30 am and the parking lots were already full so they were detouring everyone to additional parking with a shuttle. Let's just say we finally arrived in the zoo entrance at noon. The kids were very patient though, and we had Popsicles and plenty of sunscreen.

It was hot.

Like 90 degrees hot. And with a ton of other people around, it felt even hotter. I have never been to the zoo so packed. Not very many animals were out, so we missed a bunch. There were times that I felt like freaking out because of how crowded it was.

But I learned two things.

1.) Never go back on that day again. Believe me, full price is worth less crowds...and Oregon drizzle most of the year is ok with me too.


2.) Make the best of it. We were all hot, tired, and ya, it wasn't the best zoo trip ever, but I kept in good spirits in front of the kids, and it was still special to them. We treated them to ice cream cones when we finally made it back on the road home.

I'm glad to cross that summer bucket list item off!! :)