What are your favorite holiday traditions? My little family have begun traditions over the past few years that I hope will last our lifetime and possibly end up as traditions my kids keep with their kids someday. One of my favorite holiday traditions that we try to do every year is visiting Oregon Zoo’s Zoo Lights. This year the whole family attended and I got to share my joy of holiday lights and zoo animals with two very excited little guys! Read on to see my tips for an enjoyable #ZooLightsPDX experience, cute photos of kiddos, and a chance to win a package of 4 tickets to this year’s Zoo Lights!
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If you were following my Instastories or Snapchat last week you might have seen my very, very excited posts about Zoo Lights. I just can’t help it. I LOVE the feeling that this season brings and the twinkly lights just push it over the moon for me. Don’t even get me started on how I feel about Santa and snow this season. Heart eyes all day long.
Plan your trip— Zoo Lights this year has some pretty great hours and fun extra opportunities. Plan your trip to make the most of your budget and experience. ZooLights is open 5 PM to 8 PM on Value Nights and 5PM to 9PM all other nights. ZooLights is open 7 days a week until January 1st with the exception of December 24th and 25th. Zoo Members get discounts on food purchases, gift store purchases, the carousel, and train.
Tip: Take public transportation! While we had no problems with parking on a Thursday night and found that the parking fee was reasonable… I do recommend taking public transportation. Public transportation can drop you right off at the zoo and will give you a discount for your tickets. If the parking lot is full there is a parking shuttle from the overflow parking area, but it can mean some waiting in the cold. Might as well do a park and ride and make your trip less of a hassle.
Dress appropriately— It is Oregon in winter. It often rains and up where the zoo is located is often cooler than other areas of Portland. Dress for cold weather. We have gone to zoo lights for nearly 5 years now and I think this was the first year that we REALLY dressed for it. We had many layers on, a blanket for the kiddo in his stroller, and outerwear that was rain resistant. Thankfully we barely got a drizzle while there, but I was glad that we were prepared.
Get tickets for the Zoo Train— Maybe it is just because I have two little boys who love trains… but, this was my favorite part of the whole trip. The trains are decorated and drive through the zoo where you get to see the lights all while in a comfortable little cart. I had been waiting for huge lines at the train, but was pleasantly surprised to find that they gave us tickets for certain times which meant that when we went to the train we had a less than 5 minute wait!
Get your family photo in the tunnel of lights! There are so many great photo opportunities at Zoo Lights, but this is my favorite. I am so glad that it is a staple in the zoo light decorations and comes back year after year.
Must be 18+ years of age or older, and a US resident to enter to win. Winner will be notified via email, so please leave a valid email address within your comment on with Rafflecopter. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to winning email to claim their prize. If they do not respond a new winner will be chosen. Upon confirmation, tickets will be placed in will call at the zoo under the winner’s name. Tickets are valid for one-time use from completion of contest through the last night of ZooLights (January 1, 2017). Visit the Zoo Website for more information about ZooLights. Value of four tickets is $59.80. No cash value. Non-transferrable.
A lot of cocktails are simply too sweet for my tastes. Don’t get me wrong… I like a sweet drink on occasion, but the sweetness can often be overpowering and give me a headache the next day. When a drink is smooth and has a complicated, but tasty profile I really dig it and come back to those type of drinks over and over again. In the Summer I gravitate towards refreshing flavors of free herbs and (usually) Gin. In the Fall I want spices and (often) Bourbon. The drink I’m sharing today is absolutely a Fall cocktail. I received a complimentary bottle of Amaro Montenegro for purposes of review. All opinions are my own. Please enjoy the Fall cocktail recipe I created plus a few tasty fall cocktails from Amaro Montenegro! This post is intended for readers of legal drinking age.
Amaro is an Italian bitter herbal liquor that is often served as an after-dinner digestif. Amaro Montenegro has an alcohol content of 25%. Due to the bitter sweet flavor of the Amaro I decided that I would use it similarly as I would a bitters or vermouth in a cocktail. It gives the cocktail a complex layer of flavor that keeps it from being overwhelmingly sweet.
I knew from the moment I tasted Amaro that I wanted to use it to create a Fall cocktail that was complex in flavor. For a while I was really stumped on the type of cocktail I’d make. But, then I went to an Apple Cider tasting and found some beverages I felt would really pair well with the flavors of the bitter liquor. I chose to pair it with a dessert wine made from apples, a spiced apple cider, and bourbon. The flavors ended up going really well together. It is a pretty strong beverage however, so proceed with caution! This drink would be perfect for sipping next to a fire pit on a cool Fall evening.
Monte Jack-O-Lantern – Derek Brown, Underdog:
1.5oz Amaro Montenegro
1oz pumpkin puree
1.5oz rye whiskey
3/4oz cinnamon syrup
3oz heavy cream
Autumn in New York – Derek Brown, Underdog
1.5oz Amaro Montenegro
1/2oz Allspice Dram
Stir Amaro Montenegro and allspice dram in a glass with ice. Top with hard cider and garnish with an orange wheel.
Shake all ingredients except cream over ice and double strain into a coupe glass. Pour heavy cream into a shaker and shake until thickened. Float the cream on top and dust with freshly grated nutmeg and cinnamon.
The past few weekends have been filled to the brim with fun Fall-like activities. This weekend, like last week and all of next week, has been pretty much work, work, and more work. Thankfully, I really like my job.
Even with all the work I did have a little time to enjoy some of my favorite fall traditions and read through the newest issue of Mamma Bear Magazine.
Basically every chance I get I am now roasting all of my favorite Fall foods. I haven’t had a ton of time to cook recently and I really didn’t have time to cook this meal (which took upwards of two hours) BUT, man… I really wanted some tasty Fall foods. It is simply comforting. I roasted up some butternut squash and then made a puree out of it. I served it along side sautéed bok choy, roasted sweet potatoes, and roasted yellow peppers. The main course was a smoked gouda and apple stuffed roasted chicken. It was GOOOOD.
I might enjoy the prepping for Halloween as much as I love the holiday itself. It is all kind of wrapped up in one for me. This year I am doing a comic book themed Halloween party and family costume. I was fortunate enough to get to partner with local thrift store Deseret Industries to pick out some items to help create my costumes. Look forward to seeing posts on how I created my comic book themed costume from items found while thrifting.
My favorite part of this whole weekend was receiving my copy of Mamma Bear Magazine in the mail! It is chock full of great articles on motherhood and beyond. I am excited to share that I wrote a little article for the magazine titled, “The Art of a Stress Free Party.” This gorgeous magazine is available for purchase at www.mommabearmag.com.