Author: Nat


We are blessed to have two homes in two very unique and beautiful locations.  Our summer home is located in Bend, Oregon which you have seen me mention here and here.  Our second home is located in Charleston, South Carolina.

Typically we spend the winters in Charleston as the weather in Bend gets extremely cold during the winter months.  Not to mention the days get VERY short between November and March and that has a pretty dramatic impact on my mood.

One of the nice things about the Bend house is that we have speakers throughout that allow us to listen to music whenever we want.  The home in Charleston is quite old and to add speakers in the ceilings would be both expensive and cause significant damage to the walls and ceilings.

So we decided to speak to a local company about what our options might be.  Audio Evolution is the Charleston home theater installation company we decided to work with.  They proposed a solution using a company called Sonos.  All of the speakers are wireless.

We decided to give it a shot, though both my husband and I were concerned that the quality wouldn’t be what we were used to from our other home.  Boy were we impressed!  These little wireless speakers actually perform really well.

On top of their high performance, the interface for controlling the speakers couldn’t be any easier.  Everything is done from an iPad or iPhone.  You simply select the room or rooms in which you want to listen to music, then select the album or song, and away you go.

It integrates with all of our favorite music services including Pandora and Rhapsody.  It’s so simple to use ,that we’re even considering replacing our system in Oregon with a Sonos system.  While I would consider our Control4 system there very simple to use, this system is even more intuitive.

Personal Growth


The city of Bend is growing.  And FAST.  I read an article recently on talking about how Bend, Oregon is the 4th ranked boomtown in the entire country.  This is pretty impressive given the population of our town.

As the popularity, and the population of our town continues to grow I thought it would be fun to highlight some local businesses that have popped up over the last year that are making a name for themselves.   i discussed one of my favorite local restaurants here.

Maid in Central Oregon

While this business isn’t particularly well-known, Maid in Central Oregon gets my vote for the best cleaning service in Bend.  The business was started in the last year by a couple ladies that wanted to offer a great service at an affordable price.  They have done a phenomenal job handling all of the cleaning around our house.

In fact I’m quite positive that our house has never been this clean.  They are fast, efficient, and wonderfully friendly.  I feel lucky to have found them when I did and I highly recommend them for anyone looking for a professional house cleaning service.

Those that have hired maid services in the past understand that oftentimes you don’t get what you pay for.  I can honestly say that these ladies hustle more than any other service I’ve hired in the past.  So give them a shot.

Maid in Central Oregon
1124 NW Portland Ave #1
Bend, OR 97701
(458) 202-2462

Bend Oregon Pest Control Pro's

Now I can honestly say that there is very little that is exciting exterminators.  But when you come across a company that makes customer service their number one priority I feel it is important to recognize the effort.  Bend Oregon Pest Control Pro's does exactly that.

We had to hire them to come out to take care of a little rodent problem and they were fast, courteous, and very efficient.

As my husband and I were moving some of our summer gear out of the garage to make room for winter gear and Christmas decorations we saw some unwanted visitors in our garage.

Now I consider myself a pretty capable woman, but sometimes you just want someone professional to handle a situation like this.

The Barber House

For as long as I've know him, my husband has struggled to find a good barber.  His hair isn't styled in any particularly difficult way, but for whatever reason, he's just had a difficult time with it.

Recently a new barber shop opened up down the street from us next to Back Porch Coffee.  It's called The Barber House.   They style themselves a classic men's barber shop that offers a return to the old days when getting a haircut was simple and the time spent there was enjoyable.

They even offer a free beer while you're waiting in their comfortable sitting area.  I have to say  I was pretty impressed.  My husband told his barber what he wanted.  And he got exactly that.  It was pretty funny to see how excited he was about the whole experience.   And the best part is it only cost $20.  I wish ladies cuts were that inexpensive!

The Barber House
1052 NW Newport Ave. Ste. 102
Bend, OR 97701
(541) 323-4009

Tributaries Digital Strategies

Now I don't profess to be into all the home technology stuff.  But I will say one thing on this subject.  If my home entertainment system isn't easy to use, the I REFUSE to use it.

I cannot stand having to use 5 remote controls to turn on the TV just to watch a show.  And having to consult a cheat sheet to make sure I do it in the correct order is just absurd.

Recently we used a local company here in Bend called Tributaries Digital Strategies to help promote our website.  It's nothing huge, but we're looking to expand our business and I've been told that local search engine optimization and marketing is one of the best ways to do this.

It is quite simply the easiest thing I've ever used.  I would highly recommend them.

So if you're one of the many people moving to the beautiful area that is Central Oregon, I would highly recommend you check out some of these local businesses.  They are part of a booming local economy here in Bend and offer stellar customer service.

You can click this link to read the full boomtown article on

Bend Oregon Business


My husband and I recently took a trip to Central Oregon.  Several of our friends go there every year and have been telling us for years that we should check it out.  I can say with 100% certainty that it most definitely did not disappoint.  We even found several restaurants that we fell in love with.  Of all the restaurants in Bend Oregon, one in particular inspired me to get back into the kitchen to work on some new recipes.

About Central Oregon

As the name might suggest Central Oregon is located in the middle of the state.  While there are several cities in this area, the most well known is Bend.  It is located at the base of the Cascades range of mountains and is known as a haven for mountain bikers, skiers, and outdoor enthusiasts.

I had heard all of this before traveling to this charming little city.  What I hadn’t heard was that it also has a bustling and creative food scene that would put many larger cities to shame.  Evidently it is not uncommon for  chef’s to make a name for themselves in other parts of the state such as Portland, and then move to Bend to escape the grey winters that haunt the western side of the state.

Where to Eat

While it’s hard to narrow it down to a single place, there was one particular restaurant more than any other that got my attention.  The Sparrow Bakery in Bend is a little slice of heaven in the mountains.  They offer a wide variety of foods from pastries and sandwiches to soups and seasonally inspired salads.

But more than anything else you have to try their Ocean Rolls.  These delightful little pastries are a play on the classical cinnamon roll.  But instead of cinnamon they use cardamom.  I don’t typically think of cardamom as a sweet flavor, but it is absolutely amazing in the Ocean Roll.

The hand rolled croissant dough is the basis for this masterpiece and it is made daily in their bread shop.

All of their sandwiches are served on house made bread.  They range from a Croque Monsieur to a chicken Waldorf salad sandwich.  It’s really hard to go wrong with anything on the menu.  They even offer a full coffee bar.  While a traditional cappuccino is excellent, the cardamom latte is even better.

Another way to experience the croissant dough is on the bacon breakfast sandwich.  This amazingly well balanced sandwich consists of a croissant cut in half with a couple pieces of bacon,  a perfectly poached egg, arugula, and aioli in the middle.  If you’re not much for sweets then this one will most definitely hit the spot.

While it may not be the most well known of all the restaurants in Bend Oregon, The Sparrow Bakery does have a very loyal following.  And for good reasons.  They offer reasonably priced food of the absolute highest quality day in and day out and is one of the best restaurants in Bend Oregon.

If you’re ever in the Bend area you should most definitely stop by.  Here is a map of their two locations.

Where to Stay

One of the nicest hotels in this cute little town is the Oxford.  It is located downtown and is perfectly situated for getting anywhere in Bend very quickly.  We stayed here for the duration of our trip and were very pleased with the room, amenities, and service.  It is a great jumping off point for any trips around Central Oregon.

Here’s a great video showcasing the Sparrow Bakery’s lemon meringue cake.

Bend Oregon Business


My favorite part of the day is the mornings.  I have a particular routine that I go through each and every day that ensures that I am both mentally and physically prepared for everything I need to accomplish.  I start out by meditating for at least 20 minutes, then I start focusing on what I want to do.

My Morning Routine

I’ve found that I’m most productive when I work somewhere between 4-6 hours per day.  This may not sound like a whole lot, but I’ve consistently found that when I work more that 6 hours in a day that I’m not nearly as productive with the additional time that I put in.


One of the things that I find helps me keep my focus during the working part of my day is to listen to classical music.  For whatever reason it helps me to keep my mind active but it doesn’t interrupt my thought patterns since there are no words.  A couple years ago we had a bunch of speakers installed throughout the house by a company that installs high end audio dealer in Los Angeles.  While I always work from my office, we have these speakers everywhere.  So I can listen to my favorite music at a relatively low volume throughout my workday.


Improving Your Productivity

One of the best ways to help improve your level of productivity is to take the time to actually focus on it.  There are a number of effective techniques out there, but one of my favorites is the pomodoro technique.  This technique is based on the fact that it’s difficult for most people to focus on a task for more than 20 minutes at a time.  So this technique has you work non-stop for 20 minutes and then take a five minute break.


Why is this method so effective?  Well to begin with when you’re working for long periods of time, especially on a computer, it’s easy for distractions to take hold and for you to lose track of your day.  Distractions like emails, Facebook, and even phone calls can cause you to break focus and completely forget the task at hand.


The technique is very simple.  You set  a timer for a reasonable amount of time, say 15-20 minutes.  And then during that time you do nothing except work on a specific task.  When the timer goes off you take a 5 minute break.  This means you can check Facebook, browse the web, take the dog out, essentially whatever you want to do that has nothing to do with work.


This is a great way to keep your mind fresh and allow yourself to work more efficiently without getting burned out.  I was somewhat skeptical when I first heard about it.  I mean seriously, you’re using a kitchen timer to keep track of your work time.  But after you’ve done it for a while you find that your productivity actually does increase dramatically.


I’ve even convinced my husband to try it when he’s working in his shop.  He too has experienced some efficiency gains, though I will say it seems to be more effective for tasks that require creativity and thinking more so that physical tasks.


So if you’re struggling with your productivity levels consider giving the pomodoro technique a try.  It can make a dramatic difference in how much you get done each day.

Personal Growth


For the last six months I have been pestering my husband at least once per week for a new island for our kitchen.  The one we currently have is too short so I end up hunched over in order to cut things on it.  It also doesn’t have a sink.  We recently took a trip to Bend, Oregon where we came across this great little ice cream shop.


Instead of having a sealed counter top they had a beautiful butchers block made from a  local hardwood.  They used a simple beeswax to seal it.  While it requires regular maintenance in terms of waxing it regularly, it absolutely glowed.  I knew immediately that I had to have the same thing for my own kitchen.


Once we got back home I immediately started looking into cabinet makers in our area who might be capable of providing us with a similar solution.

The Wood Matters

I quickly learned that you have to use a very hard wood so that food doesn’t get into the grains of the wood.  This keeps the counter top sanitary for food preparation.  I decided upon a very hard variety of maple.  It has a golden color that I absolutely adore and it’s not too terribly expensive.


The way a butcher block counter is made is to cut a whole bunch of pieces of wood to the same length and approximately the same height.  Then all of the pieces are doweled and glued together.  Once the glue has dried, the cabinet maker uses a plane to make all of the pieces the exact same height.  This is what makes the counter top flat.


From there they proceed to sand down the surface until it is completely smooth.  While some butcher block counters are sealed, I chose to only use wax on mine as well.  Since the surface area is that big it’s easy enough for me to wax it once a week or so.

A Pan Rack Above

I had my husband build a rack above the island so that I could store all of my pots and pans above.  This has cleared up a great deal of space in my counters that I can now use to hold all of my other gadgets!  🙂


This pan rack was custom built so I can’t really tell you where you might be able to get one that is comparable.  I do know that he used a plasma cutting tool that he found on The Tool Reports Best Plasma Cutter guide to make it.  Since he bought this kit he has been coming up with all sorts of handy ways to put it to use.


He even made some custom lighting that can go inside of the pan rack so that I get consistent lighting across the entire counter.   The lights are a soft LED that is perfect for cooking.  It has the yellowish tint of a standard light bulb rather than the blueish white of so many LEDs.  I couldn’t be happier with the whole setup!

Food and Eating


OK. So it has been a WHILE since my last post.  But a lot has been going on.  As you will remember in my last post I discussed some of the tummy issues I was having based upon my dietary choices.


Well I’m happy to say that these issues have completely disappeared since going on the Paleo diet.  If you’re unfamiliar with the ins and outs of the Paleo diet, check out this link.  It’s a great blog run by Mark Sisson.  Ton’s of great information on all things diet and lifestyle related.


One of the biggest struggles with this particular diet was staying away from the sweets.  Luckily I have found a source for cookies that you can buy that are totally Paleo.  They’re actually for sale on  Here is the link.  They are totally grain free, dairy free, and contain no processed sugars.  Pretty darn good.

Christmas Has Come and Gone

Another event that has transpired since my last post was the Christmas season.  Since I’ve been on a health kick my husband and I decided to make a small investment in our entertainment system so that we can watch our workout DVD’s in the theater.


I’m typically not into this sort of thing AT ALL, but I must say that a good sound system really gets your endorphins pumping in the middle of a seriously tough workout.  We had a local company come in and do the installation in a room we weren’t using in our basement.  The guys at Innovative Sight and Sound did a terrific job.  They worked fast and were always extremely courteous.  They actually hooked us up with an incredible Control4 home automation system.  You can even see our particular installation here.  Now with the click of a button we can load up our exercise routine and away we go.  You can see more of their work in the Charleston area here.


These exercise routines have had a huge impact on my energy levels.  Couple that with the fact that I’m no longer having terrible issues with my digestive system and I would have to say that this year is off to one of the best starts of my life.  🙂

Healing Your Gut

The biggest benefit of living the Paleo lifestyle is that it allows your gut to heal.  If  you’ve lived with a leaky gut all of your life it can be difficult to explain the difference you will feel once your body begins to heal itself.


70% of the immune system is located within your stomach and intestines.  If this area becomes compromised it can be difficult for your body to fight off infections, colds, diseases, and inflammation.


Speaking of inflammation, I cannot adequately express the difference I feel physically since starting this diet.  I had no idea how much of my flexibility had been lost due to inflammation in my joints.  Within about 72 hours of eliminating grains from my diet I literally felt as though I had turned the clock back 10 years.


For as long as I can remember I have had a bad shoulder.  It basically stems from a shoulder injury sustained in college tennis.  I had surgery to fix it, but it has bothered me ever since.  This was the first place I noticed a difference in my mobility.  I could literally move my shoulder without any sort of pain.  This alone would be worth giving up grains.  But in addition my cholesterol has dropped, my blood pressure has gone down, and on top of that I’m sleeping better than I have in years.


For those of you that have nagging health issues that have proven difficult to diagnose, I would highly recommend taking a look at the Paleo diet.  You will be astounded at the number of health issues it can help to address.

Food and Eating


For the last couple of years I’ve struggled with my diet.  I don’t mean in the conventional sense of trying to control my weight.  Rather I’ve had a hard time with foods causing all sorts of health issues.

Tummy Issues

It started a year or so ago when I found myself getting regular stomach aches after eating anything with gluten in it.   I know that gluten sensitivity is fairly common, but I had never lumped myself in with those that had issues with wheat.


After consulting with a local nutritionist about the issues I was having, she came up with list of foods I should avoid for a while.  Basically I put myself on an elimination diet.  Items such as wheat, processed sugars, eggs, dairy, and nightshades are all things that were included.  I’ve done diets such as the Paleo diet before.


This mean cutting back on a significant number of the food I would normally eat.  In fact I’m now at the point that I’m basically limiting myself to meat, vegetables, and some fruits.  You would think this would be a fairly monotonous way to eat, but I’ve managed to include a good bit of variety.  One thing we have a fair amount of here is local food.  This includes grass-fed beef, lamb, and pork as well as pasture raised chickens.


It’s teaching me to research new ways of preparing these foods that are both delicious, and comply with my strict diet.  So far I have to say that I’m not missing anything.  Well, almost.  I do wish there was some way to get ice cream that didn’t contain any of these ingredients.  But so far my searches have come up empty.


The Results So Far

As of today I’ve been eating this specialized diet for about 15 days.  And I must say the results are amazing.  I’ve probably dropped 4 or 5 pounds while feeling more satiated than I can remember feeling in a while.  My doctor explained that this is probably due to a normalization of my blood sugar levels.  This is due to reduced carbohydrates and an increase in fats from animal sources.


Whatever the explanation I won’t complain.  I didn’t start this to lose weight, but it certainly is an added benefit.


My stomach issues have also completely disappeared.  No more cramping, bloating, or irritable bowel syndrome.  I’ll continue to eat this way for another 15 days.  At that point I begin to slowly add things back to my diet in an effort to determine what the culprit is.  I have to say that I’m somewhat reluctant to do this.  But in another 15 days, who knows, maybe I’ll be craving something uncontrollably.


Food and Eating


One of the most difficult things about sticking to any sort of exercise routine is the discipline necessary to make yourself follow through on a regular basis.  This goes for diet as well.  One of the biggest factors in staying motivated is the environment in which you choose to workout.

BendDACLet’s face it, going to the gym can be downright intimidating.  There are many gyms in Central Oregon, but some are full of meat heads that are grunting and yelling while lifting ridiculous amounts of weight.  Oftentimes they are so crowded that it’s difficult to use any piece of equipment, let alone the one you actually want to use.  Unless you are into this sort of thing, you’ll be much better off finding a gym that caters to clients more like yourself.


Here are a few things to consider when scouting out a gym.  Most gyms are going to want to take you on a guided tour of their facility.  They’ll talk about all the hi tech equipment they have, the classes they offer, and the number of personal trainers they have on staff.  All of this is great.  But if you’re just getting started working out, you’re going to want to look at more than just these few things.


First and foremost you will want to know how crowded the gym is on a regular basis.  Some people don’t mind working out in a crowd.  Others prefer to be able to have a little bit of space in which to work.  It’s  normal to feel self-conscious in the beginning.  You’re doing something new.  That’s just part of it.  So make sure to ask the gym’s representative when the most crowded times of day are.  This will give you an idea of what will be the best time for you to try to get in to work out.


Find out if they have any introductory training sessions.  Working out with a trainer can be very beneficial.  But once you’ve learned the basic exercises, and feel comfortable enough to strike out on your own, you should be able to move on to working out solo or with a friend.


Make sure that the facility is clean and organized.  There’s nothing worse than following behind someone who leaves sweat all over a machine.  Your less likely to encounter this in a clean gym.  And wasting time looking for equipment that isn’t where it’s supposed to be can be frustrating as well.


Check out online reviews of the facilities you are considering.  These are a great resource for how customers are treated day in and day out.


If you do your homework before joining, you’ll be more comfortable and more likely to want to go work out.  And this is a big advantage when it comes to being consistent.  If you truly want the best in Bend, check out the Bend Downtown Athletic Club and Gym



New Year’s is right around the corner.  And what does that mean?  Millions of people worldwide will make a resolution to lose weight and get in shape in 2014.  While this is a great goal, the vast majority of people will quit after just one month.  So how can you make sure you’re not one of them?  We’re going to show you a couple ways to help shed the pounds and keep them off.  I’ll even fill you in on one that is a bit of a surprise.  It’s a paleo chocolate cookie.

One word.  CrossFit.

What is CrossFit?

For those that don’t know, CrossFit is an exercise regimen developed by Greg Glassman in 2000.  It started out as one gym or ‘box’ in CrossFit terminology.  Now there are more than 7,000 affiliate gyms across the world.  The reason for this impressive proliferation is that CrossFit gets back to the core of fitness, literally.


Each workout is called a WOD or workout of the day.  It is typically a mix of olympic style lifting, body weight exercises, plyometrics, and endurance exercises.  The exercises are posted before each workout, so everyone in the class knows exactly what they’ll have to perform that day.


All of the exercises are performed in a group environment.  This encourages motivation from other members of the class.  And this is a major reason for CrossFit’s success.


Rather than just going to a gym on your own, or one on one with an instructor, CrossFit engages you in a group atmosphere.  While you’re not necessarily competing with other members in your class, there is a certain motivating power behind watching others pushing themselves to new personal bests (PB).


Some of the Olympic-style exercises that are performed include dead lifts, the snatch, and cleans.  Instructors are there every step along the way to insure you are performing the movements correctly and to provide motivation.  Thus far it has proved to be a very successful recipe.


Endurance exercises include running, though rarely for more than a mile.  Rowing is also a popular exercise as it engages so many muscles within the body.


Finally there are any number of body-weight exercises.  These include air squats (squats with no weights), box jumps, sit-ups, pull ups, muscle ups (pull ups using olympic rings), and the infamous rope climb.

What You’ll Need

In terms of gear, there is very little you will need that you don’t already have.  Because of the running, jumping, and rope climbs you will most likely want a good pair of shoes.  There are any number of shoes designed specifically for CrossFit on the market now.  This guide for selecting the proper shoes will help you find the best shoes for CrossFit if you need help in choosing.


And since CrossFit can be tough on your body you’ll need to help it recover.  This is key to building muscle.  The muscle building supplements for men aid in both recovery and cellular growth.  It’s worth looking into them if you’re serious about the sport.  There’s more information available at


Other than that you just need some shorts and a shirt.  Dry-fit clothing is a good idea as you will tend to sweat quite a bit during the WODs.


CrossFit Goes Hand in Hand With the Paleo Diet

CrossFit also teaches about nutrition.  If you’re not properly fueling your body, you won’t be able to keep up with the workouts.  One term you will hear thrown around is the Paleo diet.  You can read more about it here.  Essentially it involves cutting out grains, refined sugars, and processed foods.  That’s not to say that you’ll have to cut out everything that you enjoy eating.  Companies such as cookies and treats that conform to the Paleo guidelines.


While it’s not all about the best Paleo chocolate chip cookies and treats from, the diet does make a huge difference in conjunction with CrossFit.  It’s definitely worth investigating.  Find more here.


So if you’re one of those people that religiously starts a diet at the beginning of the year, maybe it’s time to try something different.  It’s worked for millions of other people, and it will work for you too.  And it never hurts to start a diet with a Paleo cookie.

Food and Eating Personal Growth


One of my favorite parts about cooking is all of the cool tools and utensils available for the kitchen.  In the last 50 years there has been a tool invented for nearly every task a cook has to perform.  But are most of them worth the money?  Let’s take a look at a few and give an honest assessment as to whether they are must haves or simply clever marketing.

An Electric Knife Sharpener

If you use your kitchen knives with any sort of regularity then you know that they become dull.  But there are several things you can do to help prolong the life and sharpness of your blades.


It all starts with your cutting board.  Glass or marble cutting boards may look beautiful, but they are tough on the blade of a knife.  Try using a cutting board made of wood or plastic.  The wooden cutting boards that are comprised of the end pieces of wood are best.  The end grain of the wood is softer, allowing the knife to cut very effectively without dulling it.


Plastic is your next best bet.  Along the same lines as a wood cutting block, a plastic block will allow the knife to cut effectively without dulling the blade.


Eventually, even with the proper care and cutting board, your knives will get dull.  And when it comes to sharpening you have several options.  In terms of convenience and time, an good electric knife sharpener is your best bet.  They range in price from $50 to $150 and can quickly and easily restore your knife’s blade to it’s original razor’s edge.  The best electric knife sharpener reviews can be found at Keep It Sharp.  They showcase everything from electric models to diamond sharpening stones.


A Cherry Pitter?

This tool may sound like a frivolous item, but if you’ve ever attempted to make cherry pie from fresh cherries you’ll understand why this tool makes the list.


Some pits easily separate from the flesh of the cherry while others are quite difficult to remove.  A cherry pitter makes this job go SO much faster.  You simply place a cherry into the slot, and press the handle down.  The pressure causes the pit to pop right out, leaving you with a delicious cherry that’s ready for a pie.


Pitters are really inexpensive and can save you a ton of time.  They typically range in price from $10 to $40 for more advanced pitters.  Either way, it’s money well spent.


Ice Cream Machine

Summer is here and what better time to cool off with a cold treat.  Today’s ice cream makers are so far beyond the ice and rock salt contraptions of your youth.


Most modern day ice cream makers come in a couple varieties.  They either have a bowl that must be removed and placed in your freezer, or they contain their own cooling system.


Typically the removable bowl models are less expensive, but they require that you place the bowl in the freezer at least 6-8 hour before you want to make ice cream.  So make sure you plan ahead.


These are 3 great tools to have in your kitchen. None of them will break the bank.  Although a $500 ice cream maker might seem extravagant, unless you have an ultrasound technician salary, you can find many for less than $100.


The models that contain their own refrigerant are pricier, up to $500, but they are quick and easy to use.  As with any recipe, the right mix is the most important part.  Do your research on ice cream making before throwing a bunch of ingredients together.  Find out more by reading this article and others like it.  The quality is amazing.  And it uses very little power.  We were even able to run it at a local event using our little inverter generator from Honda.


A Sturdy Apron

Let’s face it, accidents happen in the kitchen.  Sometimes it’s better to be covered, literally.  A good apron is a great place to start.  A handmade apron that is fitted for you can be a real luxury.  Just like custom home decor, you can get exactly what  you want.  For example, while looking online for elephant pillows, I know, random right, I found an awesome Julia Child apron. It featured, the phrase if you’re afraid of butter, just use cream.  Love it.

Food and Eating