Friday, December 23, 2016

Our Kodiak Wall

This project has been a long time coming!  I've been planning it and collecting pieces for a while, and it's finally come to fruition after painstakingly gathering everything I wanted to use.  Wahoo!

I've been visualizing it, picking accessories and photos out, having Alaska themed art professionally framed, and anticipating seeing the final project complete since long before we even left Kodiak.

I was a little intimidated by the idea of a gallery wall.  It seemed like it would be difficult to get a handle on how to make what was in my head look straight and appropriately spaced on the wall. 

To the internet!

I found a few tutorials and jumped right on in.  God bless the internet. How did we even figure shit out easily before?  It's exhausting just thinking about how much more effort doing stuff inevitably was before we all had google to tell us crap.  Anyway...

The easiest way I found to tackle a gallery wall is to lay out the pictures and pieces the way you'd like them to be arranged on a large sheet of butcher paper.  Outline each frame and put  a dot where you want to hang each frame.

Of course, I didn't have any butcher paper, so I used what I had.  Which was newspaper.  Taped together in the approximate size of the wall I planned to use.  Not pretty, but it worked just fine.

I replaced all of the black and white photos with new Alaska pictures we took over the three years we lived there.

I messed around with the layout until I found one I liked, and then I outlined all of the pictures with a black sharpie and marked the spot where each one was to be hung.

Next, I taped the giant mess of newspaper to the wall, and hammered a nail or hanger into the spots I marked for each picture.

As you can see, I started with paper I had, but quickly realized I didn't have enough and switched to newspaper.

Once I hammered a nail into each dot, I carefully ripped the template off the wall and started hanging.  Truth be told, I had to readjust a few of the pictures, but overall everything looked good.

Not too bad for my first attempt!

I had to specifically request he include Kodiak!
I collected art from local Kodiak artists while we lived there, but the bulk of the wall is my own photography. 

One of my favorites is the reclaimed wood cut out of the state of Alaska. 

I found an artist on Etsy and thought it would be a perfect addition to the wall.

Too damn cute!

The colorful, rectangular piece on the top right is a picture by a local Kodiak artist of an old, historical cannery on Moser Bay.  The hubby got it for me for one of our Christmases in Alaska.  Another one of my favorites.

I've got an Alutiiq mask, a mini Alutiiq kayak paddle, the Crabfest poster from our first Crabfest, and all sorts of Alaskan photography.

I love it for my very first attempt!  Let's hear it for my Kodiak wall!

Ta-ta for now.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Sacramento's Oldest Bar

It was only a matter of time, you know.  Before I made my way to Sacramento's oldest bar, that is.  As some of you know, I kind of have a thing.  History & booze!  It's a great combo.

My fixation started a few years ago when I came across an article listing the oldest bar in every state.

I thought it would be fun to try and see as many as possible.  But, it doesn't even have to be the absolute oldest bar in the region.

Historical works for me, but the actual oldest bar is ideal. #PubGoals.

I find myself typing "fill-in-the-blank-city's" oldest bar into trusty google whenever I go somewhere to see if some historical pub sleuthing can be in my future.

So far, I've been to the oldest bar in Rome, Chicago, and Alaska.  A short list, so I need to get on it!

Ready to head in with the Hubby
Sacramento's oldest is called Old Ironsides, and it's a short bike ride from our house.

We checked it out not too long ago. Fun!

I'm not sure why they chose their name, since it's the nickname that was given to the warship the USS Constitution after The War of 1812.

Sacramento isn't exactly a maritime city, so your guess is as good as mine.

What I do know is that it was the first bar in Sacramento to be issued their liquor license after prohibition in 1933.

Old Ironsides was established in 1934, and has been in operation ever since.  Eighty-Two years.

A baby compared to some of the other oldest bars I've read about, but still counts on my grand quest to see historical pubs!

Most of the old bars I've been to have a huge medley of antiques hanging from every available surface. From framed art, to primary source photos, to furniture, to flags, to newspaper articles...but that wasn't the case here.

It still pulled off that vintage vibe, though. Somehow the vinyl stools and timeworn wallpaper subtly hinted at the history of the place.

I learned later that our bartender has worked there for 31 years.  I kind of love that.  Way to go, Al!

Hubby getting his oldest pub on

The stage & band setting up

There was a funky band playing that night we were looking forward to checking out called The Dustbowl Revival.  We'd never heard of them, and they rocked.  Lots of folks on stage, all sorts of horns, a stand up bass, you name it. Good stuff!

Oh, and lots of beards!

So, I can tick off this box in our Sacramento escapades.  I hear the oldest bar in California is in San Francisco, so maybe we'll take another roadie down to check it out.  Worth a trip to me.  History & booze...wheeeee!!

Ta-ta for now.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Negativity Monster

Talk about a surprise!  My old boss contacted me recently with a completely unexpected and awesome creative opportunity. 

Ready for this?  She offered to hire me to create an altered book display for the library to promote the library association and the upcoming altered book art show.

Wait...what, now?  That was pretty much my reaction!  All I can say is that I was extremely flattered that she thought of me.

I've created my share of altered books over the years - you can check out a few of them here and here if you're so inclined.  Crafting altered books was always just for fun, so the fact that someone wanted to pay me for something that had been a hobby in the past?  Well, elated about covers it!

Along with feeling both flattered and enthusiastic, I was also freaking out a little bit.  Because of course, the negativity monster popped up on my shoulder to add his horrible and unwelcome two cents.

You know the negativity monster.  We all do.  Mine is an ugly, pointy eared, little shit that asks patronizing questions like, "Who do you think you are?  You're no professional artist, why would you ever agree to take this on?" And, "You know you're not artistically talented enough to make something that doesn't look like a 3rd grader did it, right?"

I told you - he's a shit.  Not to worry.  I told him to shut the hell up and I accepted the offer.   And I'm so glad that I didn't give in to doubt and fear!

Once I agreed, it was time to ratchet up the creative confidence and know that I could pull it off.  What fun it was, too!

The idea behind the project was to promote the Kodiak Public Library Association, emphasize that a membership to KPLA is an excellent holiday gift, and also to promote the upcoming altered book art show that the Kodiak Public Library Association and Kodiak Arts Council puts on every year.!  I started by viewing a few youtube tutorials on paper tree folding, as well as several step-by-step how to articles on carving books, etc. This was what I used to make the trees, and it was super straight forward and easy to follow.

There was quite a bit of paper folding & cutting to craft Sitka Spruce tree look alikes, since that tree is predominant on Kodiak and was part of the request.

It was basically lots of this:

Once I refined the technique, I made about a half a dozen trees to make a little forest of various sized "Spruce" trees.  They turned out cute!

After I made all the trees, I used an X-ACTO knife to cut out a rectangular shaped dropped space inside the main body of a hard cover book, using this step-by-step tutorial.  The pages are sealed with Mod Podge, so the whole bottom half of the book is secured to the back cover.

I covered the pages with colored and patterned scrapbook-type paper to pretty-up the tattered and glue covered pages so the finished project looked a little sleeker and more polished.

The last step was to come up with a way to promote a KPLA membership as a holiday gift.  Initially, I wanted to stencil on the opposite page, but I quickly realized that stenciling with paint was more challenging than I anticipated.  It was coming out messy looking, and I totally effed it up not even halfway through.  Case in point.

As you can see, I misaligned the M and the E and then promptly FUBAR-ed the last E.  Not to mention it looked sloppy.  So, I scrapped my grand plans to stencil, since it was my first time attempting it, and frankly I sucked at it!

I went in a different direction, and I think it's worlds better than my feeble attempt at stenciling.

Once I put it altogether, I was pretty happy with the final product.

Now all that's left is to ship it to Kodiak.  It's still a little surreal to me that this was work.  This?  How could this possibly be work?  It was nothing but fun, creative time for me, so I can't feel anything but gratitude that the opportunity came my way!

The author Seth Godin said it well:  "If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try."

So there's only one thing left to say.  Screw the negativity monster. Always say yes! 

Ta-ta for now.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Overnight Oats

Have you discovered this yet?  I'm a little late to the overnight oats party, but man oh man what a tasty, easy breakfast.

I like the texture of overnight oats better than oatmeal prepared traditionally.  It's almost like an al dente version of oatmeal. 

I usually add bananas, but I was out when I took this picture

 I've been fixated on this particular concoction lately that's packed with flavor and lots of protein.  It's a recipe for peanut butter overnight oats, and it's fabulous.

It's really versatile, too.  You can easily tweak the recipe by adding whatever floats your boat.  Almond butter instead of peanut butter, walnuts instead of almonds, blueberries instead of banana.  Whatever you like!

All I know is I've been eating it weekly since I discovered it!  The above recipe is enough for 1 serving, and you can eat it cold right from the fridge or pop it in the microwave if you prefer it warm.  (which is also delicious) Cold in the summer is perfect and refreshing.  Also, the chia seeds really bulk it up, so I'm usually full until well after lunch.

How bout a little overnight oats experimentation? It's a tasty, healthy little breakfast!

Ta-ta for now.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Best of...Part 2

I was browsing through some of my old posts recently, and I decided it's time for another "Best Part of My Day" exercise.  Because truth be told, I've been snuggling up a little too closely with apathy lately. 

With all the chaos and movement of the move behind us, I've found myself feeling noticeably detached.

It's been difficult to engage, and motivating myself to get in the game here as far as rebuilding my life has been a challenge.  I wrote about this very topic here a few weeks ago.

The only one in control of changing that is me, so what better time to start focusing on what the best part of my days are than now?

I decided to start on October 4th, so it's not quite a full month of gratitude tracking.  I'll take it - because I know it'll do nothing but help me fixate on all I have to be thankful for and I can pull myself out of this emotional stall I've been wallowing in for a few weeks. Gratitude reminders = healthier outlook. 

October 4th
My best today had to be breakfast.  We had some leftovers from dinner a few nights ago that transformed spectacularly into an egg scramble.  Ready for this deliciousness?  Roasted butternut squash and zucchini with onion, spicy sausage, and croutons combined with an egg for an out of this world harvest-y scramble.  So.  Good.

October 5th
Sitting in the sunshine on the patio in the backyard having a long, reassuring chat on the phone with one of my oldest friends.

October 6th
Watching the hubby run around the backyard playing with Cheety.  That dog is the absolute doofy best.  The hubby's not too shabby either.

This picture is just screaming to be captioned

October 7th
Grabbing a beer with the hubby & the boy at The Shack
Listening to "I miss the 90's" on Apple Music & having a Bell Biv Devoe dance party in the kitchen.  Yes, I was alone.  Yes, it was Poison.  Never trust a big butt and a smile.

October 8th
Taking a road trip to Petaluma and gawking at the sweeping, beautiful vineyards of Napa Valley on our way. Gotta take a trip there soon!

October 9th
Taking a long walk down to a park near our neighborhood with the hubby and Cheety, hanging out under the trees in the shade, and then grabbing a beer at The Shack on the way home.

October 10th
We both had a serious wilderness deficit going on, so we took another road trip outta town about an hour northeast of Sacramento & had a great day hiking around Jenkinson Lake in Placerville.  Beautiful day, excellent hiking, and a tired Pugbull.  Perfect.

October 11th
Another breakfast best.  I'm late to the overnight oats party, but I've found a recipe for peanut butter overnight oats that I'm fully in love with.  So tasty!

October 12th
Cooking up a big pot of meatballs for dinner.  Bring on comfort food season!

October 13th
Appreciating the first real rain storm since we moved here.  Three and a half months without a drop.  It's a long way from what used to be a day to day occurrence in Kodiak!  It was welcome and cozy as I snuggled on the coach with tea, pumpkin pie homemade by the hubby, and a bad 80's movie remake on TV.

October 14th
Curling up with the book I'm reading at the moment, Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood. 

October 15th
Sleeping in without having to get up and walk the pup in the morning!

October 16th
Waking up to another rain storm tapping at the bedroom windows.  Can't beat a rainy Sunday morning where I can snuggle up with Cheety.  In case you're wondering, the hubby gets up God-awful early, every frickin' day.  I'm a night owl, he's more of an early to bed, early to rise kinda guy.

October 17th
A hot cup of peppermint tea before bed. A touch of honey, a touch of milk & it's perfection.

October 18th
Sitting on the front porch in the sunshine with the pup and the hubby, chatting & having a few Kölsch-style beers from one of our favorite breweries, while chili simmered on the stove for dinner.

October 19th
Going to pick up the hubby's surprise birthday pie at a 50's style dessert diner in midtown.  The place was authentic, and exactly what you'd imagine it to look like:  bright & shiny, with checkered floors and red vinyl booths galore.  Adorable! (it was a buttermilk pie, by the way)

October 20th
Celebrating the hubby's 45th birthday at 2nd row seats to a Jimmy Buffett concert at the new arena that was just built downtown. My favorite part was when Jimmy first walked out on stage - he immediately flipped off both of his flip flops and started rocking out.  What a fun show!

October 21st
Walking down to a phenomenal local breakfast joint called Bacon & Butter with the hubby for a terrific ham hock omelette.

October 22nd
Taking a road trip out to Truckee and Lake Tahoe, hiking around Donner Lake, and checking out Fifty Fifty Brewing Company for lunch and a few beers with the hubby & Pugbull.  But the true best part?  Spotting a Steller's Jay in the trees on our hike and correctly identifying it.  Even though it's a pretty easy bird to identify, I was elated to see it and to know what it was! I believe it was an uber-nerdy, "Is that a Steller's Jay?  YES!  Yes it is!!" moment.

Photo credit: Alan D. Wilson, via Wikimedia Commons

October 23rd
Sitting on the couch in the evening in pj's, with a hot cup of peppermint tea to finally relax after a busy day.

October 24th
My morning walk with Cheety.  I love being able to start the day with a quiet, leisurely walk through our neighborhood.

October 25th
Talking on the phone with one of my sisters and hearing some excellent, happy news from her.

October 26th
Discovering and applying for a position at one of the local colleges that's been a long term goal of mine for years.  Super happy that it was available to pursue, and I guess we'll see if it pans out!

October 27th
An afternoon nap with Cheety while it was gray and drizzly outside.  I've never had a dog that snuggles as much as he does.  We're talking expert-level snuggling here!  I can't complain.

The snuggle King
October 28th
Whipping up some shrimp scampi for dinner - the hubby was out doing Coast Guard things, so I didn't have to hold back on the garlic.  I kept the vampires at bay this night!

October 29th
Starting the second book in the Outlander series, Dragonfly in Amber.  I'm all in with this series. 

October 30th
The hubby makes pizza from scratch every Sunday - it was extra good this week.

October 31st 
Sitting on the porch with the hubby with a glass of wine, listening to The Grateful Dead, doling out Halloween candy to trick or treaters. (plus indulging in more than a few pieces for myself.  I'm a sucker for Snickers and Twix bars)

So, there ya have it.  Once again, after reading through my list in its entirety, I can't help but feel gratitude.  And it really is from simple things like hot tea and dog walks.

Once you decide to be more aware of the moments that make you thankful, it's a little harder to wallow in whatever it is that's bringing you down.

At least, that's how it goes for me.  Hey - give it a try for a month, or even just a week.  I bet you'll come out the other side feeling more positive.

Ta-ta for now.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Nature Deficit!

One thing I can say for sure since we've relocated from rural Alaska to less-than-rural California is that I miss the wilderness.  Truly miss it.

The unbelievably crisp, fresh, clear air.  The stunning views from the top of any given peak we hiked.

The irreplaceable calm that results from being able to just be - in a natural environment, almost completely untouched by the hand of man.  Heavy-handed, I know.  But oh, so true.

One of our first California hikes at Eldorado National Forest

John Muir said it best:   "Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity…”

I couldn't agree more.

That's why our road trip about an hour or so out of town to the Eldorado National Forest in the central Sierra Nevada not too long ago was so necessary.  Now this isn't exactly "untouched by the hand of man," but I'll take what I can get!

We hiked around Jenkinson Lake during a lovely fall day.  Not too hot, a delicate breeze, waterfront trails.  It was perfect.

After hiking around the lake and checking out some of the campsites, it's safe to say we were all rejuvenated. Including the Pugbull.  Nature deficit begone!

The location is definitely a contender for a camping trip at some point.  Might need to be the Cricket's inaugural California camping excursion.

The forest smelled so piney and fresh

It's funny - I appreciate Kodiak more now that I'm not there.  I realize this smacks of a classic idealizing the past scenario, but it's true.  I miss the raw, natural beauty that was right outside our front door.

Not the climate, mind you.  But, that unforgettable environment and magnificent  landscape that was so accessible to us.

I guess that means we're going to have to step up our road trip game and get outtta town more often now that we're in the land of the light rail, sports arenas, and traffic.

"Wilderness is a necessity..."  I hear ya, John Muir.  I think I have Kodiak to thank for that.

Ta-ta for now.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Halloween Wreath

Full disclosure - this one was a teensy bit tedious.  It took me weeks to make all the pom-poms that make up the bulk of this wreath.  Mostly because lazy.

My grand plan is to make the accessories exchangeable, so I can flip it from Halloween to a Thanksgiving or harvest theme.  The orange color pallet makes for a nice autumnal blank slate to play with, and I think it looks nice just on its own, without adding any accessories. 

Supplies are pretty simple:  a straw wreath form, two different tones of orange yarn, floral pins, and scissors.  I used two packages of the light orange yarn, and 1 for the darker orange. 

The pom-pom tutorial I followed can be found here.  Super easy, by one of my favorite crafty gals, Miss Mustard Seed.

I interspersed the darker orange yarn amongst the pumpkin colored yarn, which I chose as the primary color.

Once you've made the pom poms, it's just a matter of attaching them to the wreath using the floral pins.

I hung  a few Halloween-themed whimsical guys I've had for a while inside the wreath, and on the bottom.  I got them at Pier One years ago, and I just love them.  I break them out every Halloween.  They make me happy.

Here's the full wreath in all its fluffy glory:

I think in a few weeks, I'll either replace the less than menacing monsters with pine cones or just leave it plain, so it's not Halloween specific, but just autumnal.  It's a multi-functional wreath.  Happy fall, y'all!

Ta-ta for now.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Rut

I'm in one.  A rut, that is. Let's call it a not exactly unpredictable post-PCS rut.  I'm not following any of my own advice about adjusting to a new place after moving, and I'm spending waaay too much time hiding out in my house.  Which as many of you know...I love to do.  

I can putter around the house doing this, that and the other all day long.  For days in a row.  Without the least bit of desire to go out in the world. The house-gnome tendencies are off the charts lately. 

And this is a problem.  Why?  Well, because I'm not engaging.  I'm the opposite.  Almost completely DISengaged from this whole process of rebuilding my life, finding a job, being social, etc.

I can't seem to get my momentum going.  And truthfully?  I'm just...tired.  I'm tired of all the things I have to do to get my shit in order for yet another job hunt.

The resume updating, the hunting down of reference letters, the endless searching for interesting and relevant positions, applying for said positions, fixating on whether I'll be called for an interview, fretting about said interview, agonizing over whether I'll be hired, and on, and on, and on.  I'm just weary of the whole process.  I've done it So. Many. Times.

I've made very little effort toward finding a volunteer gig while I just barely job hunt, I'm not working out, it just goes on and on.

On top of the fatigue, the reality of knowing we'll only be here for 9 more months at this point makes it even more challenging for me to motivate the hell on up.

Man, do I sound like a whiny brat.  It's not my intention.

But occasionally, this platform of blogging ends up being a sounding board for me.  I guess this is one of those times.

Please standby for crafting, recipes and travel posts at a later date.  Insert high pitched emergency broadcast screech here.

I'm trying not to be too hard on myself.  (Not one of my strong points)  It's only been about 6 weeks since we've rid ourselves of boxes and unpacking.  So, I'm trying to cut myself a break.

I realize the only person capable of changing this lovely attitude of meh I've decided to take on is the one tapping away at the keyboard at this very moment.  You know, the lady who's been wearing the same t-shirt for almost 48 hours.  And can't seem to peel herself out of her house.  It's me.  The answer is me.

Alright.  Time to wrap up the sunshine and lollipops I've got going on here.  I need another injection of Chucky Swindoll.  Here goes:

Amen, Chuck.  I've got some work to do.

Ta ta for now.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Summit Beer Festival

A summit for craft beer?  You don't have to ask me twice whether I'm interested in going!  We're talking 160 California craft breweries and over 450 different varieties of beer.  Sign. Me. Up.

I think the first thing to ask is, "What exactly is 'craft beer'?"  It sounds very hipstery and fancy, but it's really pretty simple.  It just means the brewer is small, independent, and traditional.

And the state of California has almost 700 craft breweries in operation across the state.  We got to sample a tiny sliver of them at the festival.  What fun!

I sampled everything from Hefeweizens, to saisons, to Kölsch style, to pilsners, to blondes, to stouts to sours.  Such a variety.

One of my favorites was this outrageous peanut butter chocolate cream porter called Nukin' Futz from Track 7 Brewery, which is here in Sacramento.

Is there such thing as a dessert beer?  Because that's exactly how this tasted.  I could imagine using it as a base for a boozy float with vanilla ice cream.

Another notable were the sours.  Wow!  Talk about a departure.  We tried pineapple sours, honey ginger lime sours, orange sours, you name it.

Sours don't even taste like beer.  They're so refreshing and cleanse your pallet right out.  Perfect for summer and after a sample of a dense porter.

The festival was on the capitol mall, so we had the capitol building on one end of the street, and the Tower Bridge on the other. The street was blocked off, and lined with tent after tent of brewers, so we could wander up to whichever brewery we wanted and get a sample in our tiny, 3 oz pour cups.

If I had a buck for every hipstery, long bearded brewery guy we saw!  They were rampant.

As we were strolling around, we saw a brewery tent we absolutely had to beeline toward.  Who knew the Dude had his own brewery?  Ha.  I tasted a peach wheat from the Dude's.  It was extremely peachy.  Or, I guess I should say it was veeery un-Dude.  Not my favorite!

There were food trucks there too, but the lines were outrageous, so we ended up getting a bite after we had our fill of beer at the festival.

We took a short walk to a pub I'd been wanting to check out called The Fox and Goose.  One mushroom Swiss burger later and I was ready to call it an early night! 

That would be the fox.  And the goose.

Another dip into our new scene in northern California.  I have no complaints!  Bring on the bearded hipsters!

Ta-ta for now.