Friday, September 12, 2014

Being an adult

Okay, so its Friday morning and I still haven't written anything on my sixth goal this week: Create something once a week. I did start 2 different projects but some things just take longer than others so at least one of those will probably pop up here next week. With that said, I got a lot done this week including driving 7+ hours of Tuesday for a lunch date with my Grandmother (at Mcmenamins northern most location; another stamp), waiting at DMV for 1.5hours (though it was so worth it in the end), and making a bunch of phone calls yesterday that I have been putting off for too long. That's right, I decided to be a sort-of adult this week and got things done:

Went to the DMV to change 2 different car titles, grocery shopping, took my ring to be cleaned, closed a bank account, added myself to another one, changed doctors and dentists (from our hometown ones to ones closer to where we live now), finished paying off a few things, dehydrated 3 full stacks of apples, bananas, and strawberries for school snacks, leveled my gnome warrior from 17 to 39, got the oil changed, signed myself up for blood donation next week, scheduled 2 dentist appointments and 1 hair cut appointment, made 2 jars of peanut butter, ordered food and medicine for my 4-legged children, and celebrated national yoga month by doing some yoga.

Did I mention I'm going camping today and I already prepped all the meals, packed the car, and cleaned the house, so all we have to do is make the fire and enjoy ourselves. Now you're asking: how would I have accomplished my creative goal? I tried a new recipe - Pear & chocolate chip muffins.

I like to make small muffins for those mornings when J doesn't wake up in enough time and I had this recipe from my mom that I just had to give a try. My mom is a wonderful baker and growing up we always had cookies or muffins or cake or something being made. Since J and I met in middle school, he knows my mom's desserts well and jokes that, though mom and I look like twins, she is a million times better in the kitchen than I am. I have improved over the years (when I first moved out I always overcooked chicken in the microwave and now its my go to meat when I'm feeling lazy).

As Yoda says, I didn't try the recipe, I did it! Its a fairly simple one so I thought I would share it here:

Pear & Chocolate Chip Muffins: yields 18 muffins

  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. Combine: 1 3/4c. flour, 1c sugar, 2tsp baking powder, 1/4tsp salt
  3. Combine: 2 eggs, 1c sour cream (or greek yogurt), 1/4c melted butter, 1tsp vanilla
  4. Mix the dry and wet combos together (when mixed, it will be doughy)
  5. Add 1 1/2c chopped pears (or apples) and 1 c. mini chocolate chips to mixture
  6. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full, using all of mixture
  7. Mix 1/4c chopped walnuts, 1/4c sugar, 1Tbsp soft butter
  8. Sprinkle walnut mix on top of muffins
  9. Bake 18-20 minutes

And there you have it, a delicious snack! I don't have any pictures of the process because it was just that simple that I believe in you. The only picture I did take was what you see to the right - this one is going camping with us for a on the road snack. This camping trip I will be checking off at least 3 different goals on my list: #1: Unplug and turn off for 24hours a month, #3: go camping 5 times, and #23: Read 10 books (I'll be finishing the first of A Song of Ice and Fire series; aka Game of Thrones). I can already see a few posts that will come out of this weekend trip so tune back in next week. Until then, live long, take time for yourself away from technology, and prosper!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Somewhere I've never been

For some of my 23 by 24 goals, I knew exactly how I would go about accomplishing them (such as goal #23: Read 10 books for pleasure - I have a long list of books to read so picking just 10 was cake). On the other hand, there were a few goals that I really just hoped to accomplish but wasn't sure how they would turn out in the end. Goal #13 was one of the latter - travel somewhere I've never been. After going on a once in a lifetime road trip with my family last summer, I learned that traveling, no matter how far, to see something new was so refreshing and life giving. No doubt this goal will always be on my yearly goal list.

Now, as it turned out, J and I planned a visit to his grandmother's house in Madras for last weekend. As I was looking for spots to maybe hike in the area I realized that Crater Lake was only a 2.5 hour drive south. Now, in my mind, seeing Crater Lake was as big of a deal as seeing the Grand Canyon and Mount Rushmore (both places we saw on our family road trip). I proposed the idea to J only to find out he had also never been to this top wonder of Oregon. The plan was made to leave early from his grandmother's house on Sunday morning, grab coffee on the way, take as much time as we wanted driving around the rim (we had our pup with us and none of the lake view trails allow dogs), and have a late lunch at Bend's Old St. Francis Mcmenamins hotel (I'll talk more about this later).

If you know me at all than you know that like actress Kristen Bell, anywhere below a 3 or above a 7 on my emotional scale, I'm probably crying. Since I could hardly contain my excitement, J let me drive on the way there. As we traveled the final 9 miles after the pay station, I had tears in my eyes with overwhelming excitement. I'm certain I am a smidge dramatic but that first glimpse of the bright blue water completely took my breath away.

Merriam Point; First viewpoint when entering park from north entrance

According to the park guide, it was a 33 mile drive around the Lake and the suggested time of travel was 2-3 hours. 

Map of Crater Lake

We stopped at just about every spot we could, got out to take pictures, and jumped back in the car to take in more of the sights. It was absolutely spectacular!

Discovery Point
Kerr Notch; first time we were able to really see the Phantom Ship rock (also, wish I had a camera like that)
Cloudcap Overlook; the best spot to really capture the entirety of Crater Lake

We did make a brief visit to the gift shop for gifts for family (if you're reading this, dear siblings, be keeping an eye on the mail) and a few things for ourselves (2 postcards and a coffee mug). Once we were satisfied that we had taken in all we could take in for the morning, we made our way back north for a very late lunch.

If you live around the Portland area, perhaps you've heard of the restaurant/pub/bar/hotel Mcmenamins. It is probably one of my most favorite places to eat and they have this real nifty marketing strategy of using passports to have customers travel to their different locations. The passport itself is $20 and for most of the locations you don't have to do anything except ask for a stamp. Once you get all the stamps for a certain area, you are rewarded with a prize. So far I've completed 3 areas entirely and have various stamps from others. J and I agreed that the passport would be used similar to how we use group-ons - if we already plan on eating out or going somewhere, only then would we decide on Mcmenamins. Since we had traveled down to Crater Lake, it only seemed logical to have lunch on our way back to Madras, in Bend, to get another Mcmenamin location full of stamps, and collect the prize.

Thankfully the Old St.Francis Restaurant and Hotel allowed dogs on their side patio. We seated ourselves and I ordered an oldy but a goody - Cajun Tots, a Communication Breakdown Burger (a huge burger with everything on it - perfect for leftovers), and a Ruby (a light, crisp ale). While waiting for our food, I went inside to see what the photo challenge was. For some locations, you have to complete a photo challenge and show it to the front desk in order to receive your stamp. Up to this point I had experienced 1 fairly simple photo challenge (Mcmenamins Edgefield) and 1 slightly more difficult (Mcmenamins Lighthouse Brewpub). To my great relief, Bend's was quite easy: "As you look for your car keys, look up at the hotel for another set of eyes or perhaps some prayerful guidance in helping shine a light or two". Okay, so in the parking lot I should look towards the hotel and there should be a light by, perhaps, an angel.

Not an angel but it is Father Dominic O'Connor

Showed this photo to the front desk, along with the other stamps I had already collected from the 2 bars and pub as I wandered, and was given a choice of my prize. Since our pup, Worf, had been such a trooper through it all (he's a bit of an anxious dog when it comes to just about everything, though he has improved so much since we adopted him) it only made sense to choose the Mcmenamin's dog bandana and a poop bag dispenser (you can never have too many poop bags!).

The stamp from the front desk is upside down

Two other things I love about Mcmenamins, besides their food, is that they honor the history of their location and they always have great artwork lining their walls (though occasionally their halls are so dimly lit, you have to squint to see). I definitely recommend any one of the Mcmenamins locations to anyone visiting the Pacific Northwest!

Museum of Wonders

At the end of the day we had traveled to somewhere we both had never been, had very full tummies, and were ready for much needed rest. 

Goal #13 is checked off the list!

That's all I have for now - until next time, get out there, travel, live long, and prosper!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Shabby Geek

Since I suck at keeping up with this on a scheduled basis, I again have changed my mind about what I will be doing: I'm going to type up and post as I complete items on my 23 by 24 goal list. Now, if I'm really on top of things that will be at least 1 post per week for the goal #6: Create something at least once per week. Well, it just so happens I have two posts worth of things to chat about so here goes.

I have recently decided to quit denying my love of things that some may view as odd and embrace geekdom. With that in mind, I've also been considering how to turn my home into a mash up of my love of the old and vintage with my love of video games and various fandoms. I took the plunge today and created a sign for our entryway.

I started with some Pinterest - inspiration:

For those who don't know, the hearth stone (on the right) is from the game World of Warcraft. When activated, the hearth stone returns you "home" (being where ever you set it to be).

Materials and supplies:
  • Wood
  • Paint and/or crayons
  • Paint brush(s)
  • pencil and paper or stencil
  • hardware to hold it all together and hang
Price: If you already have all the supplies/ ask around to borrow or recycle this is has the potential to be free
Time: Approx. 4 hours (including time for paint to dry)

For this project, I already had all the supplies so price for this was free. I suggest before going out to buy wood (which is fairly cheap as is), you should check out Craigslist. I am always seeing people with posts for free scrap or fire woo. For me, the boards I used actually started out as the foot board to my bed (check out that here), then were re-purposed into a dog bed, and were then just hanging out in the craft closet. I cut down 3 boards to be stacked on top of one another and attached them to another piece of scrap wood. Its fairly easy so I will just direct you to the inspiration tutorial (click on the image above).

After assembling the boards, I created a sort of stencil using word. If you already have a stencil, great! you can skip this paragraph. If not, simply type the letters up as needed in the font you want (I downloaded a WoW font for "HOME" and used the typewriter font for the rest). Obviously you don't have to print every letter so for just type up the letters "HOMEiswhert". The way the sizing worked was HO and ME each had their own page and the rest of the letters fit on a single page. Now cut out your letters.
If you look close enough you can see the pencil tracing I completed for the 'E'
Lay your letters out on your boards and rearrange as you see fit. I definitely suggest taking your time to make sure you have it just the way you want it. If you're using a stencil you can paint right over the top, keeping the stencil in place with tape. If you're using letters printed and cut out like me, I suggest tracing and then going back in with paint. 

Maybe you can tell or maybe not but the hearth stone grey/white color is actually from crayon because I didn't have the right color for it but I think it turned out quite nicely. If you don't have paint, before you run out to your nearest craft store, try some different mediums on the back of your boards to see how that might look. In all honesty, I didn't intend for the colors to be so similar to my original inspiration. We have a lot of blue in our house and we've been trying to lighten it up with spots of orange and red so the "home" was supposed to be more orange but it dried quite yellow. Anyway, let your master piece dry for at least an hour, hang with sturdy hooks and you're done. Now time to admire your work!

Also on the entry wall is a window from the house I grew up in and lots of fun knobs that my mom sent me. We hang our bags on the ones with heavy metal plates and our keys and dog leashes on the small ones.
There you have it, my first plunge into... shabby geek? Sure, we'll go with that - a mash up of shabby chic and geekdom. One more thing to check off my 23 by 24 list.
I will be posting another goal I completed in the next few days so tune back in for that. Until then, live long and prosper!