Archive for the 'other hobbies' Category

half dome: in pictures

Proof of our ascent…

On the way – we stopped for a few photo ops. Mostly, though, we just trudged through. We were ready to get to camp and relax. :)

We made it to camp… yay!! The bright orange tent is Ben and my newest backpacking gear… a three person tent that weighs in less than our old two person one did. Maybe someday C will join us on a backpacking trip.

The next morning, we started out to climb up half dome.

Chris, Me & Ben at the base of the rock. Doesn’t look so daunting here, does it? The cables were pretty clear on our way up.

Annnnd, we skip to the good part… making it to the top!

I planted myself firmly at the end of the diving board. Ben clung on to me tightly… I think he was a little fearful I’d fall off!

Woohoo!! At the top!

We hung out and had some snacks before making our way back down.

The view from up top. Breathtaking.

One final group shot after a successful descent. The cables were starting to fill up as we left. It made for a harrowing descent (although I’d still argue that the ascent was more challenging).

Sunday morning, we left our home in backpackers camp and made our way down the mountain. The promise of beer and pizza kept us moving.

And let me tell you… it was the best darn pizza and beer EVER.


the streak

I know it didn’t go unnoticed that I broke my recent blogging streak over the weekend. I’m sure some of you were oblivious to it, but others, those frequent (or formerly frequent) bloggers out there, probably took note. Just over a solid month of daily blogs, and then I slip up and miss a day. At least I already gave myself an out, right? Pssshaw… I know, even I find that reasoning weak.

This was, in fact, not due to lack of subject matter or creative juices. Or a matter of simply being too busy. I had a post lined up and ready for Saturday afternoon, just waiting to go live. Or so I thought. As it turns out, my post was still marked draft, even though it was slotted to publish at 11:59 a.m. on Saturday. Yes, it wasn’t until Sunday evening that I noticed the missing post. Frustrated to see it hadn’t made it’s way to the blog, I checked the post in and noticed the status error. Sigh.

I know it doesn’t really matter. It’s not as if there’s some blogging God out there, tallying up the good posts versus bad, blogging attendance and the like. It was just a personal goal to keep daily posts going as long as possible, and I certainly wasn’t lacking in material. Oh well, like I said, it doesn’t really matter. I’m probably the only one keeping track anyway.

The streak already broken, I felt it would be cheating of sorts to backdate the entry that was supposed to go live. I’ll slate it in the queue again soon enough. I guess it just wasn’t ready to grow up and become a real live post yet.

white house, black market

Oh shopping… how I despise thee. And, yet, every so often I have a magical shopping day where everything fits, looks good and is on sale. Those shopping trips? I don’t hate so much. In fact, you might even say that I like those trips.

I had one of those days not too long ago at White House, Black Market. My mom is always the one to find deals, if any are to be had. In fact, she rarely pays full price for anything. So, when she spotted a sale as we walked past, I was game to check it out.

Sale prices in this establishment leave something to be desired. Most items cost more than I’d normally spend paying full price. But the clothes are beautiful, well made, and the sizing gives you a nice ego boost (being that I fit in to a size 6).

I found quite a few really nice things that day, and ended up spending more than I’d planned, but my shopping trip was partially subsidized by my mom, so the damage wasn’t too bad.

What did I end up buying? A black and white shirt, a simple black dress, and a pair of gorgeous black shoes that called my name and molded to my feet when I slipped them on. Oh, the shoes. Devious, delightful things. They were the only things not on sale, of course. I wouldn’t have even tried them on, had I seen the price tag beforehand. When the sales attendant asked if I needed heels to try on with my skirts and dresses, I said yes, and they were waiting in my dressing room for me, price unknown. It wasn’t until I was already in love that I asked the price. It was in the *gasp* range. Well, gasp for me, at least. I know plenty of other ladies who spend upwards of $100 on shoes, and the price tag on these came just below that amount.

My immediate thought was to just walk away. Then, on second thought, I asked if these shoes ever went on sale. “Nope,” the sales attendant said, “these are our most popular shoes, and I’ve never seen them go on sale.” Drat, I thought. Ok, I conceded, I’ll let them go. But when my mom offered to buy me the dress and shirt she and I both loved, it seemed only logical that I get a fabulous pair of shoes to go with them. Yup, I plunged in head first and decided to get them.

Curious to see the shopping haul? Here it is…




The truth is, I love my new shoes. And my new dress. And my new shirt. Considering how infrequently I have a successful shopping trip like this, I feel like it’s economically reasonable, as long as you amortize my purchase over twelve months or so. Did you forget I’m an accountant? I can’t just shut that off, despite how I may try… :)

(trigger happy upload fingers and sloppy editing lead to this post going live before review… oops! I seem to have issues with posting errors far to frequently these days)


I’ve found so many great craft blogs recently… and my list of projects just keeps growing. I’ve been so inspired by the craftiness all around and the fantastic ideas that I simply *must* recreate some of these ideas. Of course, I can’t leave anything alone, and I have my own ideas of how to improve for my own purposes, so I’ve added some notes as well.


sewing projects:

reusable snack bag – I’m thinking of making a little flap on the front with velcro, rather than the velcro inside. Seems like it’d be easier for little fingers to get in/out of.


circle skirt – I’ve found a few variations of this skirt out there on the web, but I love how this website has laid out the instructions. I’d love to make a few of these for C and myself. No variations here… it’s already fully customizable!


ice cream social skirt – here’s another version of the circle skirt, coined the “ice cream social skirt” – same idea, but I love the stripes in this one! And, if you can’t find striped material, here’s a tutorial on how to make your own.


extender slip – have any dresses that are just a wee bit too short? Or an active toddler who likes to grab at your dress (outcome unknown)? This is the perfect solution, and cute to boot! I usually avoid mid-length (or shorter) dresses around C for fear that she will lift at the wrong moment (usually when my hands are full… it’s happened… fortunately it’s only happened at home). I see this as being a great fix for that potential embarrassing moment! Well, it may be only slightly less embarrassing to have your slip showing instead of your undies, but I’ll take the slip option any day of the week!


this apron is adorable. I love heirloom prints… I wish I wasn’t so frugal when buying material though… or that it wasn’t so darn expensive!


vinyl pouches – love these!


scrap quilt – I have a box of my favorite baby clothes that C wore her first year of life stashed away, with the intention of making a quilt for her someday. As quilting is somewhat intimidating to me, this method seems like a perfect way to get it done.


hanging jewelry holder – I just think this is a neat idea! I want to add some extra loops of vinyl with snaps as a place to hang necklaces or bulky items that hang better than putting them in a pouch. Perhaps the back side would be better with a row of snaps instead of extra pouches? Hmmm… I’ll have to map this one out first.


large tote – simply love this one. I don’t have any “ducky” material on hand, but I do have some craft interface that makes materials stiff, so perhaps I’ll give that a shot and see how it turns out. I think I’ll skip the flowers though… just not me.


kid projects:

paper towel butterflies – such a darling idea. I know C would absolutely love these. I was hoping that painting water colors on paper towels would work just as well (and be slightly easier to clean up).


alphabet rocks – I’ve actually already made this project with C, using nail polish instead of paint, and it turned out so darn cute! She loves rocks to begin with, and when combined with letters, they’re her new favorite thing! I just had to throw this one on here because it’s such a great idea.


food projects:

california mix – delicious mix of pickled cauliflower, bell peppers and carrots.


red velvet cake – still in search of the perfect recipe, I find myself being called to by this one. yum.



While you’re at it, check out some of the other posts on the fabulous blogs linked above. They’re my new favorites. :)


Gardening success!


I’m starting to see some output from my previously floundering gardening attempts. Zucchini, tomatoes, and even bell peppers are slowly making their way from garden to our bellies. The hand pollination efforts for my zucchini took for one of the plants, but since then, we’ve had several more vegetables grow on their own. Happy days!

So here’s the deal with the bell peppers… for all intents and purposes, they really shouldn’t be growing. Last summer, I diligently collected seeds from bell peppers we bought from the store, with the intention of planting them in my garden this summer.  I collected, dried and stored these little seeds from a variety of peppers. I didn’t know at the time that many commercial bell peppers are genetically engineered so their seeds will be barren (forcing farmers to purchase new seeds annually).  The exception, I’d heard, was organic peppers. We  don’t often buy organic peppers, so it was a small chance that my seeds were organic. I also didn’t realize that green peppers are immature, and that only the red, yellow and orange will produce offspring. We usually cook with a variety of  bell pepper colors, so I was pretty sure  I’d managed to get seeds in all colors, but there were definitely a lot of green seeds in there.  The odds were stacked against me.

This summer, I started some of the seeds in a small greenhouse, and planted others directly in the ground. Surprisingly, the greenhouse seeds did great at first, but once these seedlings were planted in the ground, they paled in comparison to the growth we saw from the ground planted seeds.  It was after the seeds were planted and growing that I learned they might not produce fruit. Still, energy already invested in my seeds, I figured I would let then grow  and see what would happen. A few weeks ago, my little seedlings proved the world wrong and started to grow little peppers! Although the ground seeds got a slower start, they seemed to mature more quickly and bear fruit before the greenhouse ones. Perhaps the soil quality made a difference? Or just being outside? Regardless, despite all odds, my seeds are producing fruit! We have 3 small bell peppers growing and many more buds forming.


Maybe my black thumb is starting to turn a dark shade of green…

Gardening woes

I’ve taken up gardening more than usual this summer, and was hopeful for good results. It’s been a great way to get outside with C, to teach her about the different plants and to keep myself occupied while she digs in her sand and water table. Alas, I seem to have some variety of a black thumb, for even the simplest of plants aren’t producing results for us.

Let’s start with our zucchini. Last year, I attempted potted zucchini and only yielded one lonely squash from the plant. This year, I was determined to get some zucchini from our harvest and planted a plethora of seeds in the ground out back. I even started a few seedlings inside to ensure success. I didn’t expect the seeds outside to take, but they grew with fury, producing large and beautiful zucchini plants and leaves. Soon, we started to see blossoms, but no squash yet. We waited patiently, checking the plant every few days, and certain that our fruit would sprout while we were out of town and we’d come home to massive zucchini. I watered twice a week, and the soil seemed to be an ok moisture level. The plants were certainly thriving, so I stuck with it. Finally, I spotted our first baby zucchini! The hard work was starting to pay off! Only a few days to paydirt… we would soon be enjoying fresh zucchini from our garden. That was over a week ago, and the small zucc hasn’t grown any and is now looking a little sad. A few days ago, I attempted to pollinate the small zucchini flowers. The male flowers opened without fail, but the female buds stayed closed. I checked throughout the morning on multiple days, and it was always the same. Make flowers open, female flowers closed. Finally, I found a recommendation this morning to force the female flower open and get a little zucc hanky panky happening. I attempted it with the two female flowers we have, so now only time will tell.

To make matters worse, last night I discovered a powdery white mold on many the leaves, no doubt it had been growing for days and gone unnoticed. Turns out, it’s a pretty common fungus that infests plants this time of year, especially squash. So, I cut back all the infected leaves and sprayed the rest with a milk/water solution, as suggested by a research team online. I’m not making this stuff up, I promise! If I wasn’t posting from my phone, I would link through to the site I found that talks about the research project. I was happy to have found a natural solution for the mold, as spraying my plants with a fungicide wasn’t all that appealing to me.

Some sites online suggested the plant may be stressed. Too much shade, too much or too little water, and too many plants crowded in can all cause reduced production of female flowers (and thus, zucchini). I’m guilty of perhaps all of the offenses listed, so it’s not shocking that my plant was doomed to do nothing other than look pretty. In the meantime, I’m arming myself with squash blossom recipes in case all we end up with are male blossoms for the rest of the season.

More later… I have a whole slew of misstep stories about my potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, mint and basil. It seems that weeds are the only thing that I’m consistently successful at growing!

I can check this one off my list…

snowboarder - not actually me!My list of things to do before I die has just gotten a little shorter – I went snowboarding for the first time yesterday! Ben & I made our way out to Squaw Valley with my co-worker, Honey, and her husband, Jasen. Yesterday was a busy day at Squaw – they were hosting the 48Straight Jeep festival – including Live Concerts, Street Parties, Fashion Shows, Film Festivals and Jeep King of the Mountain Ski & Snowboard Cross Racing and Halfpipe Competition. We didn’t spend much time in the village though, so we missed most of the crowds and events.

Snowboarding was incredibly challenging – I spent the first hour and a half on my butt. It was the first time for Honey & myself, so we opted for the lift package that included a lesson. Our day began with a 22 year old instructor providing safety instructions, telling us how to put on our boards, and teaching us the most basic of basic moves. The first thing we learned was skating, which proved to be one of the most challenging tasks for me the entire day. I couldn’t really master the whole staying up thing… I was down within a few minutes of getting back up. Even though I wasn’t very good and my boots were a half size too small, I was sticking with it through my lesson. I think the instructor recognized how awful I was and spent a bit of one-on-one time with me. I was determined – pushing through the frustration & embarassment – swallowing my pride and getting back up after falling… that is until I fell on my tailbone, basically the exact same spot as my injury last year. Nearly in tears, I decided to take a break. I took off my board, swapped out my boots for a larger size and sought out some lunch.

After lunch, with energy regained, we headed back out on the mountain – this time with Ben as my instructor. Having the one on one time with someone who was willing to hold my hand down the mountain really helped me understand the board a bit better and gain confidence to try new things. It was a little like having training wheels. After a few practice runs with Ben I felt better about my ability and tried it on my own. The day ended with the setting sun and another nasty fall on my tailbone. Even with the injury, I felt accomplished. I’d made it down a green run all by myself… it was a good day.

As tired as I was, Saturday night was not a restful sleep. I kept having dreams about snowboarding as the soreness of my muscles was settled in during sleep. Fast forward to Sunday, and boy am I sore! Everything hurts – I could barely get out of bed this morning. Even my fingers are stiff and sore. Between the sore muscles and a bruised tailbone, today is going to be incredibly slow moving. But I’m so ready to try it again – just not today.

Mom to "C", wife to Ben. I'm a part-time blogger, cook, organizer, seamstress, house cleaner, taxi, nurse (the mom kind), accountant... I could go on, but really... it's all in the blog. Read away!

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