On moving to Portland…

On January 28, 2012, in Family, by Wendy

There’s been a lot of excitement, panic and encouragement about our recent declaration that we’re moving to Portland, so I want to clear up a few things.

(This is kind of long, so if you don’t have time to read it, just scroll down for the last two paragraphs.)

Let’s start with the vacation history of Mitch and Wendy.

  1. Our first oversees trip was to Europe in September 2011. We had landed in Holland the day the planes flew into the World Trade Center. Our friend, Egmont, had just moved back to Holland recently, and we had plans to visit him while we were there. The events of 9/11 made us very unsure of our future, so we started thinking about Plan B. Egmont had a three bedroom flat at the time, so we were going to finish our European vacation, and then move to Utrect to live with Egmont.
  2. We went to Yelapa on our Honeymoon. Yelapa has an island mentality even though it is on the mainland of Mexico. The reason it has an island mentality, is because you can only get there by boat. The jungle is too thick to drive through and no one has the money to cut it down and build a road. There are only 1,500 people in Yelapa. There is no police presence and it is a very mellow place. They had just gotten electricity three years prior to our visit. They have one openly gay man named Saul who makes the best huevos rancheros in the world. For years, the tiny fishing village of Yelapa was the refuge of Bob Dylan, Dennis Hopper, and other cosmic caballero types who gathered in search of lonely beaches, cheap tequila, and readily available hallucinogens. We met some Americans who re-located to Yelapa and sold their art to the tourists. I was starting a craft business at the time, so it sounded like the ideal living situation. We were going to move to Yelapa.
  3. We met our friend, Tony, in Costa Rica for two weeks the year I had sabbatical from work. The plan was–an nice american hotel the night we landed and we would stay in that same hotel the night before we left. Everything in between was left open to adventure. What should have been a two hour drive to the coast became a two day adventure lost in the remote parts of the mountains and jungles driving on roads that were not on the map and were barely wide enough for the SUV we were in. As the dusk was approaching that first night in the jungle, a very serene looking motel popped up out of no where. I think it was called Flaca Vaca (Skinny Cow) We checked in, had a few drinks and I saw my very first firefly. The cabin was clean and comfortable except that it didn’t have heat. We were pretty cold that night, but it was fun. We started our journey the next morning and landed in a town called, Matapalo. It is right on the coast and smack dab in the middle of a stretch of the great coast highway that is unpaved, so people don’t usually come this way. We rented from a charming French Canadian hotelier in a ramshackle cottage that boasted such amenities as: Termites! A Romanian Schizophrenic! Nocturnal Crabs that Climb the Walls! The best feature of all: No Hot Water! The hotelier wanted to retired and offered to sell the place to us. Mitch was determined to get into the hospitality business and move to Costa Rica.
  4. Isadora learned to walk on our first visit to San Diego, so surely it was a magical place. It has cute little bungalows, dog beaches, tasty burritos and awesome weather. It’s close to our favorite vacation destination (Mexico), so yeah, let’s move to San Diego!
  5. Mitch’s sister lived in an Oregon coastal town called Nehelam. Just north of Nehelam is a cute little town called Manzanita. The last time we visited there, we rented a cute 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom house near the beach for a week. We were so used to only having 1 bathroom, someone was always knocking on the door to check the status of availability whenever it was already in use. After the first day, we understood the luxury of two bathrooms. We want to retire here. We started looking at real estate that we could purchase and rent out to a family or as a VRBO until retirement time. Since Leslie, was so close, and she’s already a savvy real estate mogul, we knew we could rely on her to manage it for us. We’re going to move to Manzanita in 20 years!
  6. Leslie just moved to Portland, and Mitch flew up to visit and help her get her technology in order–wifi, software upgrades, transfer music and movies, etc. He had a wonderful visit and met a lot of her friends who were very nice. The area Leslie lives in is truly amazing–she’s walking distance to so many awesome stores and restaurants. She’s close to transit, which is free to use within her district. There’s space, greenery, dogs, mellow people, awesome architecture, great food and entertainment, lots of families, good schools, etc., etc., etc. We looked at some real estate, and my goodness! It is affordable! There are Mandarin schools in Portland! Who knew? The only thing Portland doesn’t seem to offer that San Francisco does, is diversity. Let’s move to Portland! We’ll be close to family, and we already have a lot connections.

So, can we review the theme here? We always want to move where we just spent our last vacation. The one difference is that Portland could actually be a reality. It is the first time that we really, truly identified somewhere that we know we could live and work and thrive that is not San Francisco.

We have a lot of support on the other side of the California/Oregon border to help us move up there. We have people looking for jobs for us, others looking for housing. It’s amazing how folks have opened up and reached out to us. Who wouldn’t want to embrace that kind of welcoming community?

Believe me, it is not without some trepidation on my part. I’ve lived in San Francisco for 23 years. Today marks my anniversary! I have worked for the same company for nearly 13 years. I have lived in the same building for 10 years. I don’t make big life changes frequently.

I am a little freaked out about this, but I am also loving the fantasy in my head where we have 2 bathrooms, a yard for Isadora and a dog, a garden for me, and a man-cave for Mitch. I’ve been told that we can have all of that right here in San Francisco and that we just need to get out of our neighborhood. We can’t afford to move anywhere in the city. Houses are still too expensive, and rents have skyrocketed because no one can afford to buy. If we leave our current place, we’ll be priced out of San Francisco.

Alameda and Oakland were also thrown out as options. I would consider those towns, but Mitch won’t.

Here’s the reality.

  1. I am working at a job that I really like. I work a lot. I work hard, and I am challenged daily. I like a lot of the people I work with and I enjoy my projects. However, Mitch and I are jealous of each other’s situation. I want a chance to work part time and take care of the house and run Isadora all over town for her activities. Mitch wants full time work and a challenging and stimulating work environment and to be the lead contributor to the household.
  2. I am completely head over heels in love with Isadora’s pre-school and so excited that they are expanding to K-8. I want to keep her there. Then Jen posted about the price of tuition for the education there (preschool through 8th grade). The price tag is $250,000. I threw up a little when I saw that number. I’ve only been thinking in terms of one year at a time, and how we’re going to scrape the money together for tuition. I after everything I went through to get her in to a good school, am certainly not turning my back on it with out a superior replacement option regardless of the price.
  3. We want Isadora to be able to walk to school, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to let her walk south on Leavenworth by herself to traverse the gauntlet of junkies, drug dealers, prostitutes, lunatics and whatever else is lurking on the corners. I am certainly not going to send her to our local public school where classes are overcrowded and underfunded.
  4. Isadora loves dogs like I’ve never seen. She deserves to have one, but they are not allowed in our building. It’s nearly impossible to find a dog friendly building in San Francisco, and if we do, it’s kind of disgusting–and way too expensive.
  5. My company is a pink-slip machine. We’ve been having layoffs monthly. It’s only a matter of time before I get mine. We would be fools to not come up with a plan B in the event of a layoff. After Mitch’s visit to Portland, our Plan B is to look for jobs up there and see what pans out.
  6. We also have this fantasy that if we relocate, to Oregon, then our parents will too. I know Mike and Suzanne have already expressed interest. I’m going to see what my mom thinks when she comes to visit today.

In summary, we are going to continue living our lives in a city that we have loved and continue to love (maybe only just a little bit less).

For those of you who are panicking about our announcement, you can relax a little. Those of you who are encouraging, you can relax a little too, but keep sending us job leads! We need to have something lined up in order for us to relocate.


1 10-ounce bag spinach
6 tbsp. butter
1 cup diced onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. crabmeat, picked clean from shells
6-8 mushrooms, sliced and quartered
2 tbsp. flour
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup gruyere
1/4 cup panko

Wash and tear the spinach into small pieces, drain and set aside.
In a saucepan, melt 4 tbsp butter and sauté the onions and garlic until tender. Stir in the mushrooms and the crabmeat. Reduce heat and cook until the mushrooms are tender.

In a separate saucepan, melt the remaining 2 tbsp. butter. Add the flour slowly, stirring constantly until golden.

Slowly stir in the cream and spinach until smooth. Add the cheese and stir until melted. Add the crabmeat and mushroom mixture to the cream and spinach mixture.
Pour all ingredients into a lightly greased casserole dish. Top with the panko and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.


Ground Turkey Stroganoff

On January 16, 2012, in Uncategorized, Yummy Goodness, by Wendy

This was a big hit at our house tonight. Each of us ate up every last drop on our plates. Mitch and I went back for seconds!

1 leek, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
10 oz ground turkey
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 box condensed portabello mushroom soup (Trader Joe’s)
1/3 c. half and half
1/3 c. vegetable broth
1/2 c. greek yogurt
Spike Seasoning
Egg Noodles, cooked

In a skillet, cook turkey, garlic and onion until meat is no longer pink. Add mushrooms and peas. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Stir in the soup, half and half, and Spike Seasoning.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered for 5-10 minutes.

Stir in greek yogurt and vegetable broth; heat gently. Do not boil. Serve over cooked egg noodles.


Monday: Turkey Stroganoff, broccoli
Tuesday: Tilapia, Crab Cocktail, creamed spinach
Wednesday: Chicken Fajitas and cabbage/radish salad
Thursday: Chicken Sausage, Spaetzle, and roasted cauliflower with cheese
Friday: TBD–Celebrating Chinese New Year with PKS, and there will be some nibbles. Was hoping to check out off the grid, but they’re closed for winter. Bummer. I guess we’ll just nibble on leftovers.
Saturday: Pasta of some kind
Sunday: Baked eggs and tortillas in creamy tomato sauce


Izzyisms Volume 27

On January 1, 2012, in Kid, by Wendy

Izzy: I like sad songs.
Wendy: why do you like sad songs?
Izzy: because they make me smile when they are gone.

Isadora: Some day I want a tattoo on my back.
Wendy: what do you want a tattoo of?
Isadora: a butterfly. A big glittery butterfly.


I love you even though you are not from outer space.


After I picked Isadora up from Day care, she informed me that she is not ashamed of us. I will reminder of this moment when she is a teenager.


I went out for drinks with a friend one night. When Izzy woke up the next morning, she asked me if I had fun on my play date.