Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking back at 2012

The past year has been pretty good for me & hubby Greg. After quietly ushering in the new year in Nashville, TN, we spent some quality time with our families before boarding a plane with one-way tickets to Portland, OR. We could have moved pretty much anywhere in the U.S. and we chose Portland for a variety of reasons. We secured a lease on a furnished apartment sight unseen (the owner emailed us a few photos and we discussed terms over the phone) and it has turned out to be a wonderful place to live.
our apartment is on the first floor left side of this converted 100-year-old home in the heart of the Hawthorne district
As we got acquainted with our new surroundings, I came across the opportunity to work as an extra on a TV show that films here in Portland. It turned out to be a fun way to meet new people and make a little money. My new hobby eventually landed me background acting gigs on three TV shows and two movies, plus a little modeling work. Greg got in on the action a few times, too!
working as police officers for an episode of Grimm
One of our mutual goals for 2012 was to do more volunteer work. We did accomplish this, but not necessarily how we intended. I ended up working at eight beer & wine events while Greg did six festivals and also worked several shifts at the World Domination Summit. We also volunteered at the Oregon Food Bank on behalf of Greg's employer. My tasks ranged from the mostly fun jobs of prepping glassware & drink tickets, supervising and pouring beer to the much less enjoyable token running and emptying spit buckets. For the most part we received free festival entry, mugs/glasses + tokens for free drinks and also usually a hat or t-shirt. Next year I will try to include more "feel good" volunteer work (e.g. Habitat for Humanity, Humane Society).
Greg pours a beer for Santa at the Holiday Ale Fest
Greg struggled a bit with his job search but successfully landed a full time position at Cambia Health Solutions. He started his job as a Problem Management Analyst in June. While he was hoping to try a different line of work (this is essentially the same job as he had at Dell in Nashville), he was quite lucky to find an IT job in downtown Portland only three miles from our apartment. The majority of companies with positions that he would be most qualified for are in the suburbs.
view of Mount Hood from Greg's cubicle on a clear day
We did an in-depth analysis of our finances & monthly budget and determined that Greg's salary wouId be sufficient to cover our expenses and meet our savings goals. Thus I have been very lucky this year to not have to work a regular job. I've used some of that spare time to enter local contests and have been amazingly successful at winning!
the grand prize package for the Portland Monthly Magazine City Living contest
My biggest haul came from a Portland Monthly Magazine contest for which I wrote a short essay about what makes Portland so livable. I usually try not to participate in contests that require me to solicit votes for my entry but that was the case with this one. Still, with the help of dedicated family & friends, I won a prize package worth over $2,000! Greg & I continue to enjoy our season tickets to Oregon Ballet Theatre, White Bird Dance, and Portland Center Stage amongst other things.
ready for opening night at the Oregon Symphony (to which I won tickets)
Speaking of livability, one of the many reasons we moved to Portland is that we could live car-free. We planned to purchase bicycles once Greg started working, but I managed to WIN one in late April! I have logged almost 300 miles on my bike since I picked it up in early May. Greg bought his bike in late May and has logged almost 700 miles commuting to & from work and accompanying me on some very enjoyable 20-30 mile rides along the Springwater Corridor and Willamette Greenway Trail. We also participated in several Sunday Parkways rides this summer. Amazingly, I won ANOTHER bike this fall in the annual New Belgium Enjoy the Ride sweepstakes!
I won my Trek Atwood Ecobike through a Mellow Mushroom/Filmed by Bike promotion
While we make every effort to minimize our impact on the environment (by walking, bicycling & taking public transportation; recycling & composting; etc.) and to support local businesses, one highlight of 2012 is that we finally joined the multitudes and purchased our first iPhones. They have made life so much easier and more efficient in so many ways!
snapping a picture of Mount St. Helens with my iPhone attached to the Kenu Highline
Compared to the past few years, our travels in 2012 barely register a blip on the radar. We did not cross an international border and the only time I left the state was on several day trips into Washington, when I flew home to visit my family in Tennessee in August and when Greg & I used some Southwest Airlines credit to fly to Los Angeles to visit his brother Doug in September. Just before Greg started his new job, we drove down to Bend, OR and spent four days exploring the volcanic landscape and drinking copious amounts of beer. We do have tentative vacation plans for 2013 and I look forward to sharing those trips with you in the months to come.
picking up our reward for completing the Bend Ale Trail
We've been fortunate to have several visitors during our first year in Portland. My mom & step-dad came out for a week in late June, our friends from Seattle stayed for a few nights in late July, Greg's youngest brother & his girlfriend visited us for a few days in August, and Greg's parents came out for a week in mid-October. I also got to see several close friends from the east coast who were in town for a few hours. I always enjoy playing tour guide and showing off our new hometown to visitors. Plus it gives me the excuse to accompany them on day trips to the mountains or the coast!
enjoying a sunny day at Cannon Beach with the Campbell's
I am adding a new slideshow to my blog's home page featuring some of my favorite photos from 2012. I hope you enjoy them and I wish you all a Happy, Healthy & Prosperous New Year!

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