Clean Up

Dreams of a white Christmas don’t often include leftover Styrofoam and packing peanuts. J. Lauren Norris, who heads up the city’s Master Recycler Program, says these holiday interlopers need not raise your hackles. She recommends disposing of the peanuts by taking them to a shipping store like UPS, where they’re accepted for reuse. Styrofoam requires a bit more effort since only one place accepts it: Pacific Land Clearing & Recycling (4044 N Suttle Rd; 503-285-8777; To avoid a similar whiteout next year, Norris suggests giving services or experiences as gifts. “That way you don’t end up with any mess at all.”
—Brian Barker

Beat the Blues

The season of parties, family, gift-giving, and travel can be as miserable as it is joyful. And here, the winter drizzle and cloud cover can add an extra dash of doldrums. Dr. Jason Luoma, director of the Portland Mood Disorders Clinic, suggests a few ways to beat the blues.

  • Light up your life. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, affects millions of Americans, many of whom use medications to ease this weather-induced type of depression. Light-box therapy and dawn simulators are good alternatives. To understand the range of options, check out the primer at, the Center for Environmental Therapeutics.
  • Dry up. We Portlanders like to party, but celebrating can become a way to avoid unpleasant feelings, Luoma says. “Using alcohol to escape usually backfires.” In stressful times try meditation or spending time in nature.
  • Exercise. Endorphins released in the brain during intense physical activity induce a good mood that can last up to 12 hours. “It’s really the best and easiest strategy for coping with holiday stress,” Luoma says.
  • Get real. Your husband may hate the tie you got him, and you may not have time to make the bread pudding, but so what? Lower your expectations. What’s important is being with the ones you love.
    —Stacey Wilson

Avoid Pudge Despite the Fudge

An American gains, on average, eight pounds over the holidays, but you don’t have to let the seasonal sweets sink you. Bob Hill, owner of Loprinzi’s Gym in Southeast Portland, advises consistency above all, because the January mad dash to correct the sins of December never works. Healthy eating and exercise need to be a way of life, and naughty foods should be a once-a-week treat to calm the cravings. Instead of going with whatever’s popular, choose a workout that will keep you not only moving, but interested. Ideas:

  • Climb a rock at Portland Rock Gym. You can start with a three-hour class and a week of unlimited use to get the hang of it. 503-232-8310,
  • Sh-sh-shake it at Viscount Dance Studios. Get your groove on with options ranging from Latin swing to belly dancing to hip-hop. 503-226-3262,
  • Hit the ice at Lloyd Center Ice Rink. Take the kids for an afternoon of open skate, learn to twirl, or swing a hockey stick. 503-288-6073,
  • Pump it at Loprinzi’s. You can find just about anything in this 5,000-square-foot facility. 503-232-8311,
  • Find a trail. Portland Monthly has the area’s premier trail-finder, if we do say so ourselves. At, design the perfect hike with the help of our trail database.
    —Jenny Davis

Go Big for Less

The vacation is off this year—you’ve accepted it. Fortunately, you live in a place rich with possibilities for fun daycations (our twist on staycations). Sunshine Limo Service will haul you and up to 17 of your friends and family to beautiful Oregon wine country in a Lincoln Navigator stretch limo for an afternoon of tasty roaming (about $375, three-hour minimum). Bonus: Pick up bottles of vino as gifts. 541-344-5466;
—Cameron Blair