Mount Hood

Introspective planning for V-day

Written by: Liberty Miller | Lifestyle Editor

I’ve always questioned the validity and purpose of Valentine’s Day. Why does it matter so much to dedicate one day to a loved one? A devoted partner should be doing that every day. I attribute the existence of Valentine’s Day to consumerist culture and societal pressure to not be single. 

So, I started thinking about what else I could do on Valentine’s Day to make it special, but not like how society has designed it. The stereotypical Valentine’s Day event consists of buying flowers or chocolate and planning a date or elaborate escapade with a partner. My version of Valentine’s Day shifts the focus from partners and romantic interests back to oneself. 

Instead of buying roses, find a local flower shop and buy a bouquet. Give the bouquet to a family member or friend, or simply keep it in a noticeable place for the next week to brighten the day. Buying locally is a great way to give back to the community and keep some good feelings for oneself. This goes for any product, but with the overstated emphasis on roses at this time of the year, giving more love and attention to some lesser-loved flowers will be a nice change of pace. 

Instead of falling into the consumerist scheme of buying ten different heart-shaped boxes of chocolate, make some baked goods at home. The calming ritualistic nature of taking the time to bake will add fulfillment and purpose to the day. Giving baked goods to someone is also a great way to show that time was put into that person’s gift. Now that the roses and chocolates are taken care of, it’s time to think about how to plan an event for the day — or even if planning one is worth it.

For the majority of introverted individuals, Valentine’s Day is a hellscape of acquaintances asking about one’s plans, couples posting a slew of confessions and photo collages, red or pink signs advertising the latest overpriced product and the dreaded phone call from parents trying to glean every ounce of romantic information out of their beloved relative. It’s easy to get caught up in all of these things, but hard to take a moment, breathe and ask oneself what matters on Feb. 14. Is Valentine’s Day the one day the boss lets everyone go home early, or has it simply been a long and hard week? What matters the most isn’t what is expected of someone on Valentine’s day, but the best way one can spend their day to fill up their fulfillment cup and spend time with their most important people, whether it be partner, friend or family.

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Dating in a small town

Written by: Claire Phillips | Entertainment Editor

Finding romantic places to take one’s sweetheart in a small town is a difficult task. This Valentine’s Day, refer to this list for date ideas close to Western.


The Sippery — This independent coffee shop is a favorite hang out and study spot for Western students, and it can make for a cute date as well. Curl up in a soft chair or on a couch, and grab a tasty drink.

The Red Poppy Studio — The Red Poppy Studio offers craft classes at a low price for those who are artistically inclined, or for those who are just starting out. Otherwise, come shop for beautiful art pieces created by local artists to hang up at home.

Momijis — On the corner of Monmouth Avenue and Main, a quaint sushi restaurant sits waiting for couples to dine in. Or, if eating a relaxing dinner at home is preferable, their delicious sushi is available for take-out as well.

Sundew Tattoo — Go get matching tattoos with one’s beau or bae at this local Monmouth tattoo parlor. Phoebe, the owner, creates magic on the skin with designs including flowers, animals and bugs for all skin colors.

Main Street Ice Cream Parlor — Want a sweet treat? Look no further than this local ice cream parlor, within walking distance of Western. They provide many delicious flavors of ice cream and milkshakes with dozens of toppings to choose from.


Witches’ Vine — For those who are in touch with their spiritual side, this plant and crystal store provides all kinds of witchy needs. Don’t walk, run to Witches’ Vine to pick out zodiac crystals, jewelry and cute plants with loved ones.

The Independence Hotel — Take a seat on the roof of this water-front hotel and enjoy a high-quality meal with a sweetheart. The Willamette River provides a stunning, romantic view at any time of the day.

Mangiare Italian Restaurant — If a well-traveled pair are looking for a little slice of Italy, Mangiare will provide that cozy, authentic ambiance. Warm up with the best local pasta and fresh bread.

Independence Cinema — Holding hands in a dark theater is a classic movie date trope. So, come on down to the Independence cinema for a fun film night. Western students can take advantage of the theater’s five-dollar Super Tuesdays.

Jubilee Champagne and Dessert Bar — Jubilee offers a wide range of sweet treats and bubbly drinks — for those 21 and older. A range of desserts will satisfy one’s sweet tooth in a bright, pastel cafe. 

Second Chance Books — Find a date within this eclectic used bookstore and pick out unique finds for each other. Watch one’s noggin, the store says — there’s a whole lot to explore.

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Getting personal with Rylie Cader

Written by: Hannah Field | News Editor

Rylie Cader is many things: a cheerleader, a Disney fan and a hopeless romantic.

One of those passions — cheerleading — began in early elementary school. She signed up for a day camp during second grade — led by the local high school cheerleaders who would steer Cader toward her future. 

Cader is now cheerleading in her second year at Western. This February, the cheerleading team will be attending the annual competition in Anaheim, California, reminding Cader of her second passion — Disneyland.

“I come from a very big Disney family. And the reason why is because my grandfather — he passed away when I was ten — he came from a super poor family. He grew up in poverty. He had to grow up pretty quickly because of that. And he loved Disney because it made him feel like a kid again,” Cader said. “He always made sure we could go, and because of that, my mom loves Disney.”

Cader has been to Disneyland countless times. She knows when ticket prices are high — and in February, they are — and what old rides used to stand and where. She believes that Disney is something that changes and evolves with its fans.

Her grandfather traversed Disneyland in the first year of its opening — something that inevitably changed the trajectory of Cader’s family line.

Cader graduated from high school in 2022. That year, her mother wanted to take her to London to celebrate — but Cader had other plans. 

“I actually told her I wanted to go to Disney. She was a little frustrated with me, and there was some drama with why she thought I didn’t want to go to London, and I told her, ‘My grandfather isn’t here to see me graduate,’” Cader said. “‘I want to go to Disney for him.’ As soon as I said that, she totally shut up and understood. So we took Austin on that trip and that’s when he proposed.”

Every year since their engagement, they take time in Disneyland to see the Wishing Well, where they honor that one fateful year where Rylie flipped a coin into the depths and turned to find Austin on one knee.

“You know, in the movies, when there’s like those things where people are shocked or they hear bad news and everything dims down. You can’t really hear. I didn’t even realize that happens in real life — I didn’t hear what he said, I just saw his mouth moving. I stood there in shock for a minute, just staring at him. And then I screamed almost at the top of my lungs.”

When flipping a coin into the Wishing Well, a person typically makes a wish to themselves, and with Disney magic, it’s supposed to come true.

“So I closed my eyes, I had [the coin] on my thumb, I was about to flick it in, and I was thinking, I hope Austin proposes to me soon,” said Cader. Little did she know he was on one knee behind her — pulling a Disney-line Ariel ring from his pocket.

It was something Cader couldn’t have even dreamt of, despite all the time she spent watching Disney romances on the screen.

Although excited, the couple aren’t marrying until after Cader graduates. They’re set to be engaged for a little over four years, and although happy, Cader hasn’t evaded all criticism for being a “Disney adult” and engaged right out of high school.

A previous coach from her high school years had mocked Cader for being engaged so young, confusing Cader. “It was definitely disheartening. I thought she liked me and I was told other stories where she was making fun of me, but I didn’t take it to heart because the coaches I have now are so much better,” Cader said.

Now, Cader is a valued member of Western’s team, with coaches who desire her presence. In the past, however, Cader felt misplaced. “Being a cheerleader, I always struggled to feel like I was on the team,” said Cader about a time when her fellow teammates were being bumped up to varsity without her. “It got in my head and made me feel like I was a bad cheerleader.”

Fast forward to 2023, Cader broke down while talking to her mother, expressing feelings of thankfulness for her new team and the respect she was given for the first time.

“My mom is a big part of cheer for me,” Cader said. “My mom was in a car crash when pregnant with me — somebody had run a red light by our church — and hit her car by the passenger side. Because of the trauma from the crash, she was having contractions, going in and out of labor, but we think that trauma from the contractions is what caused my medical issues.”

Cader was born premature and spent time in the NICU. This led to years of doctor’s office visits and lots of time together with her mother, which would eventually culminate in Cader’s profound respect and love for her mother. “My mom sacrificed so much,” said Cader. “My mom would make sure we had everything we needed while her shirts and clothes have holes in them. Even when she was struggling to make ends meet, she somehow found a way to pay for cheer.”

As for her love for Disney, she had felt anxiety regarding the topic prior to college, but found that it wasn’t that outstanding that she loved Disney so much. “After being in college and meeting all these people, it made me feel better and more confident being a Disney adult,” Cader said, referencing all the other Disney lovers she’s encountered over the years.

Cader hopes to continue her family tradition of attending Disneyland and stopping at the Wishing Well with her soon-to-be husband, joined by their family.

Family to Cader is precious. Her brother filmed her proposal — posting it online but muting her scream of excitement — and her mother was right there alongside her, the reason Cader was a hopeless romantic in the first place — although less hopeless now.

With recent health scares involving her mother, she knows time is precious — she knows to be grateful for the love she’s felt and the way she’s been lifted up by her community, including her cheer team at Western.

Rylie Cader is many things: a fiance, a daughter and excited for the future.

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Sleep tips that will benefit ones life greatly

Written by: Sierra Porter | Staff Writer

In the United States alone, 50 million people suffer from sleep disorders, while more than 100 million report getting an inadequate amount of sleep. The recommended amount of sleep for adults is 7-9 hours, which can seem virtually impossible for many of us. 

One may not realize it, but lack of sleep or an inconsistent sleep schedule, can lead to a variety of health risks. It can have daily effects such as trouble with concentration, mood changes, irritability, weight gain and lack of motivation. Long-term sleep deprivation can also lead to being at a higher risk of more serious health issues. This includes an increased risk of heart disease, anxiety, depression and a much higher likelihood of injury — such as car accidents. 

So what can one do to get a full night’s rest? Here are some helpful sleep tips:

Disconnect from electronic devices and give oneself 30 minutes of relaxation — Studies have shown that being on one’s phone or other devices before bed suppresses the production of melatonin, the hormone that assists with sleep. Getting into this routine of a clear mind before bed will slowly help build back one’s melatonin. 

Invest in blackout curtains or a sleep mask — It seems obvious that, for most people, it needs to be dark to fall asleep, but there’s more to it than just that. The brain’s response to darkness is to produce more melatonin, encouraging the body to sleep. This can help one take naps as well — bonus tip, naps should never be longer than 20 minutes. 

Physical activity — Physical activity has tremendous health benefits overall, but another plus to physical activity is that it is known to improve sleep. This can be anything from going on a short walk, doing some sit-ups or even cranking out a few house chores. After 15 to 20 minutes, the heart rate slows, core temperature starts to fall and one may experience muscle fatigue: which all help facilitate sleepiness. 

Avoid eating before bed — The last tip on how to improve one’s sleep is to avoid eating in the last few hours before one’s slumber. It has been found that eating before bed contributes to poor sleep quality through gastrointestinal discomfort, heartburn and reflux. Eating food also encourages the release of insulin, a hormone that helps turn food into energy. This means that if one eats before bed, one’s body will produce insulin which will tell the brain to stay awake. Additionally, food doesn’t burn as effectively when the body is asleep and is therefore stored as fat leading to weight gain. Take those snacks out of the nightstand and get a good night’s rest. 

Try these tips and sweet dreams. 

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Boiling and delicious

Written by: Taylor Duff | Staff Writer

Bag O’ Crab is a seafood boil restaurant that opened a new location in Salem, Oregon right off the Market Street exit. This restaurant offers an array of boil bags that can be customized, including sides, wings and drinks. 

I decided to go and try the restaurant for myself because of my proximity to their newest location. I decided to invite my mom and have a feast. We ordered a Combo 2 which included one pound of snow crab, ¾ pound of headless shrimp, two corn on the cobs, two potatoes and four sausage slices. 

We decided to add two boiled eggs and our flavor of choice was original cajun. On the side, we ordered six lemon pepper wings, two sides of rice and a Cajun fish plate. We ordered a Cinnamon and Pear Moscow Mule and a Mojito Smash for drinks. 

This was a lot of food, but everything came out fast and organized. The restaurant environment was clean and captivating because of the friendly robot that served the food. The tables all had white paper to prepare for the mess of the boil; we also got a bib, gloves and a wet nap, which was much needed. The staff seemed a little occupied as the restaurant was busy, but they got our items exactly as we ordered and checked us out with a friendly goodbye.  

First, we got our drinks which were both very balanced and smooth and chock-full of flavor. Soon after, our bag and rice arrived, delivered by our friendly robot. 

We poured our bag out and started with the crab, which was soft and cooked to perfection; the shrimp was tender and very flavorful. The corn, sausages and potatoes were complementary and gave us a full range of flavors. The rice was a perfect palate cleanser from all the spice. The wings were coated in dry rub that I wished were covered in a wet sauce alternatively, but they were still very full of flavor. The cajun fish was possibly the best fish I’ve had — it was cooked to perfection and a nice entree — if a boil isn’t one’s preferred choice. 

All of the food was incredibly delicious and made the whole experience worth it despite the busy atmosphere. We ate just about everything — with just a few leftovers— and our meal was fairly priced. For someone like me, who hasn’t tried a seafood boil before, it was a great experience. I recommend Bag O’ Crab for one’s next outing or date as the atmosphere and food were phenomenal. 


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From construction workers to the suburbs

Written by: Claire Phillips | Entertainment Editor

In 1913, inventor William Stanley Jr. fused vacuum insulation technology with steel in a portable thermos, and the Stanley company was born. The original Stanley cups of the early 1900s were built specifically with the working class in mind. Through World War I and II, the cups were used to hold soup, coffee and even transport human organs.

Between the variety of sizes and strength of the cups, Stanley has been a beloved brand for over a century. However, the company has skyrocketed in popularity over the last few years. After the new year, Target released a collection of limited edition Valentine’s Day Stanleys, and hundreds of people lined up outside, even got physical with one another, hoping for a chance to get their hands on one… or maybe five. 

A sea of Stanley fans were falling over each other in a frantic race to the stainless steel finish line. Some collectors were pleased with their pre-Valentine’s purchase, while others took advantage of the frenzy to resell the rare tumblers. On eBay, the Stanley cups are being resold individually for almost 300 dollars.

So, when did Stanleys stop being a cup for blue-collar workers and become the favorite brand of suburban moms, teenagers and college students? The first fact is that Stanley is a sustainable and reputable brand. Their products are designed to be durable and hold a multitude of substances.

The second contributing factor to Stanley’s popularity is the accessibility of the internet and its cycling trends. Other popular reusable water bottle brands such as Hydro Flask, Swell and Yeti have also made their way to the screen over the past few years. Stanley provides many pretty colors to collect, and, as seen already, the buyers go crazy.

The question many people have asked is: why does anyone need more than one reusable water bottle? Many use these cups daily for hot beverages, so they do get use out of them — but Stanley prides themselves on durability for a reason. The daughters of working men have taken to the internet to show off their “trendy dads” and the Stanley thermoses they have been proudly using for decades.

The issue of Stanley consumption cannot be solved by the answer — reusable equals good, plastic equals bad. When it comes to the material used to make one water bottle, it can take ten to twenty uses of a reusable water bottle to counteract the effects of a plastic one. Multiply that times a whole collection of Stanleys — one can only hope those water bottles will be used for a lifetime.

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Journaling: for funsies and data

Written by: Ruth Simonsen | Digital Media Manager

As the New Year makes its grand arrival and the resolutions start to flood every social media platform, a popular choice continues to be journaling. Whether it’s for feelings, logging gym stats or to fulfill your emo poetry dreams, journaling provides a wonderful resource to many.

Amity Deters, a fourth-year and star athlete on the Western track team, is one such person who finds solace in journaling. Deters first took up this hobby after seeing it on social media and deciding to curate it for herself. 

“I was going through a lot of changes,” Deters said, “so I wanted to track how I was feeling about them in an unbiased, no-placebo way.” 

Deters explained she did this through tracking habits, changes to her lifestyle and sleep schedule, as well as other small parts personalized to her life. 

“I try to focus on topics that will help me, ones that will benefit me and not cause harm or hyper fixation,” Deters said after being asked how she went about choosing topics to track.

Journaling is fantastic for keeping track of habits, both good and bad, as well as things like finances, water intake and sleep schedule. Unfortunately, remembering to log all of this information can become tiresome and tedious, leading to many people deciding to drop this hobby. 

While Deters does not claim to be an expert, she gave tips on staying motivated to keep up with journal entries.

“To be honest, sometimes I forget about it for a couple days,” Deters said. “The most important thing is that you’re not hard on yourself, because journaling is what you make of it.”

She recommends sharing entries with friends and family, to show off the goals that were met and the data that was collected. She also shared that journaling before or after classes is an easy way to remember to log entries and stay motivated. 

Journaling can be fun and a great way to destress and track health. Deters encourages everyone to find a comfortable, enjoyable way to journal for themselves. 

“Don’t try to make it too perfect or extravagant,” she said. “Get pretty markers and pens, go online for inspiration, get creative with your entries and don’t take it too seriously. It’s all for funsies and data.”

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