At the beginning of August Alex and I had the chance to visit Portland, Oregon. It was the first time in Portland for both of us, and our introduction to the area was by way of a record breaking heatwave in the Pacific Northwest and the knowledge that Portland is "weird" and the people who live there love it that way!

Our primary reason for going to Portland was to learn about KEEN Utility footwear. Alex was there on behalf of Charles & Hudson to cover the event, while I wanted to explore a new city as well as to learn about KEEN and how they might help Alex prevent another broken toe due to inappropriate footwear while working on projects. Trust me, it’s a real problem of his. He was actually nursing a broken pinky toe during our visit, how ironic given our reason for being there.

We kicked off our trip with some serious Portland exploration. We’d heard about all of the food, breweries, and beautiful homes in Portland, so we wanted to be able to experience all of it firsthand. We also heard about the 105 degree temps looming later in the week, so we had one evening and one full day to pack in as much as we could before the heat wave made it unbearable. We were staying centrally in the Sentinal Hotel in downtown Portland, which is an absolutely beautiful building that was once an old Elks Temple.

Just look at the amazing ceiling in the hotel lobby. It was beyond impressive.

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Have you ever gone on a vacation and found yourself checking a super cool but very odd purchase as luggage on your way home? 

We have an experience with this very scenario that we've been waiting to share with you for some time. 

Almost two years ago Wendy and I went on a trip that we'd been waiting to take for decades. We'd long dreamt of going to Ireland together, and we finally took a true trip of a lifetime back in October 2015. We loved just about every second of the trip. It was truly enjoyable from start to finish, and we even have a brief recap if you'd like to check it out.

But that recap of our trip left out a little detail that really made this trip one to remember. 

Nearing the end of our whirlwind tour of the southern half of the greenest country I've ever seen, we were driving from the picturesque historic port town of Kinsale toward Dublin for one final night. 

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On a warm summer evening, there are few things more enjoyable than a cold frozen treat to beat the heat. But with so many options for a scoop in Alexandria, where should you go? As a part of our neighborhood guide series, we'd like to help you find your way.

Alexandria, Virginia is known for many things, not the least of which is its vast array of delectable restaurants. Beyond traditional eateries, Old Town's concentration of ice cream shops is plentiful enough to please anyone's palate. Some might even argue that we actually have too many options, but those people obviously have something against ice cream and are simply crazy.

Within a short five minute walk from our home in the heart of Old Town we have no fewer than nine different ice cream establishments. Add in the nearby neighborhoods of Del Ray and Belle Haven (all within about 1.5 miles), and we take that number to an astounding 12 different places within walking distance where we can grab an ice cold sweet treat!

If you've ever talked to a local, everyone tends to have their favorite suggestion on where they like to go for a scoop or two. But the question of "which ice cream place is really the best?" is one that's not easily answered. Now that we’re in the midst of summer, we felt it was high time we fulfilled the very difficult task of reviewing each of these 12 stores to share our first hand experiences and opinion on which ice cream store reigns supreme.

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Curb appeal comes in many shapes and sizes.

Back when we first laid eyes our home in 2014 it already had that classic waterfront farm house feel we immediately fell in love with. From a distance it was lovely, but upon closer inspection, the exterior paint on the wood siding was a little worn and tired, the roof more green than we would have chosen, and the porch floor color and lighting choices were very different than what we wanted for the house. 

This summer we've been focusing on improving the curb appeal/making updates more to our taste for our home through a three step approach. 

After working through the first two major steps, our home is really starting to look great. The fresh paint is clean and crisp, the new roof color on our metal roof is much darker gray and less green, and the garden has really been coming into its own this summer.

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Continuing on our quest for curb appeal, we've tackled the next major step in our exterior project list at our "new" house, and I must say, I absolutely LOVE the results!

As we mentioned in our first post in this series when we talked about how we spruced up our flower beds, this summer we've also decided to approach improving the curb appeal and address some deferred maintenance items of our American Foursquare home in three distinct phases.

Yes, the exterior paint is the next major item on our list of projects, and boy is it needed. As you can see from the following photo, we have several examples where the paint on our siding had been compromised and was simply bubbling and peeling off.

This issue in the photo could been seen on all sides of the home's exterior. Alex even did a little bit of work last year to address some of the absolute worst sections on the front of the house.

Now, you know us as DIYers to the core, right? Well, we also like to fein that we're reasonable homeowners from time to time. When dealing with something that's a large scale project that requires many people to get it done in a timely manner, and would require a lot of work up high on ladders, my preference is to hire it out to the pros. As a result, when it came to painting our home (both now and when we last had our home painted in Alexandria), I look to a dependable painting crew. 

But before the crew could get to painting, we had some color selections to make, as well as some prep work we wanted to tackle ourselves.

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