Thursday, December 29, 2016

Stuff & Things: The Sixth One

Welcome to Thursday, where random thoughts are the name of the game and the prize is getting to read about everything going on in my head lately, lucky you. On second thought, maybe the prize should be an extra strong margarita can have mine.

So, Christmas happened. It was nice and quiet and full of food and movie binging, just how I like it. I made my annual cinnamon coffee cake, there was black licorice covered chocolate and cat-themed socks in my stocking, and Isaiah bought me an Instant Pot and an iPad Pro, which was definitely outside of the Christmas budget we had set for ourselves, but I'm not complaining. His reasoning was that I'm going to be at home alone all day (and all night) with a baby soon, my iPad 2 is old and slow and heavy and barely good for anything but a paperweight, and with the Pro I can use the Apple Pencil to do artwork and lettering, and who am I to argue with all that?

I made a traditional English fruitcake for the first time this year, too. It was as dark, dense and disgusting as I thought it would be. Maybe it's just me, but I don't really enjoy cake made out of mostly raisins and prunes. Isaiah loves it, however, and that was the whole point. This may be the first cake in existence that I have not eaten a single slice.

Next on deck, the year 2017. I can't complain too much about this past year, there were definitely some highs and lows, but that's every year as an adult. 2017 is going to be full of a lot of unknowns and new experiences, which I'm simultaneously excited and slightly nervous about, because who isn't nervous about walking (actully, slamming head first) into something they know virtually nothing about?

I'm not really a fan of new year resolutions or choosing a "word of the year", because I think that we should always be setting goals for ourselves and always be working on being better versions of ourselves. My friend Anna wrote a good post about this concept, you can just go read that and know that I'm over here with a big "ditto."

I will say this about the new year, it just me, or does "2017" just sound super futuristic and like how did we even get to this point? I remember being a kid and thinking the year 2000 sounded like something out of a sci-fi movie and here we are, nearly two decades later and it's not any less weird. On a related note, I feel super old.

Here are things I hope will happen in 2017.

I would like Instagram to get rid of the stupid Boomerang feature. If I have to watch one more set of clinking drink glasses or a backwards/forwards flowing waterfall, I'm going to lose it. I would also like every social media outlet that is not Snapchat to ban the use of Snapchat filters on photos. Trust me, you look better as a person, not a squeaky-voiced giraffe.

I would like people to start blogging about real life more, and advertising less. I can count on one hand the number of new blogs I've found this year that weren't in existence for the purpose of straight up moneymaking. I get it, if you have a lot of followers the occasional sponsored post is understandable (as long as it's for something awesome and not for menstrual pads or fabric softener because really??) but when one out of ten posts actually relates to real life, forget it.

I would like companies to get better hold music. I've been writing this while on hold with state Medicaid for the last hour and a half, and I've had to listen to the same three (bad) piano/orchestra songs over and over. Can't we at least get some top 40 or something?

I would like people to be more outraged about things like abortion/baby murder and less outraged about things like Cinnabon Tweeting that Carrie Fisher had the "best buns in the galaxy."

I would like my coworkers to adopt better kitchen and bathroom habits. Nine out of ten times I go in the kitchen, I have to clean up before I can make my food. Last week it was coffee, crumbs and half-and-half spills all over the counter all day, every day. This week it was something white splattered all over the front of the microwave. EVERY week it's unidentifiable food stuck all over the inside of the microwave and dirty dishes in the sink. I'm about to make a sign, a'la Pam Beesly.

My boss also had to send out an email earlier this week requesting that whoever is leaving poop smears all over the toilet seats please start cleaning up after themselves (I'm not joking), because the entire office is grossed out. Not an email you'd expect to have to send/receive in an office full of adults. I, myself, have had to clean up these poop smears on at least two occasions and one time it was all over the seat, back of the toilet, side of the sink, and toilet paper roll. I don't know who on earth makes it past 5 years old and doesn't learn that that's not okay, but I almost went home sick that day.

So, here's to a cleaner, less poopy new year. Until June, at least, when lots and lots of poop will make a grand reappearance in my life and I'll be cleaning it up all day, every day. At least babies are cute. My coworkers are not.

Linking up with Kristin for the last Stuff & Things of 2016!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Life Lately #4

Reading: Still plugging away at Alicia: My Story by Alicia Appleman-Jurman. It's a bit of a slow read. Probably because I've been too busy/tired to read lately, but it's also one of those books you read and you think you've read a ton and then you look and you've only read another 3% of the book. So, according to my Kindle app, I'm at about 40% finished, but I feel like I've been reading this book for a year. Watch it be one of those where the last 25% is just photos and such and I'm farther along than I thought.

Watching: I've started rewatching House from the beginning in the evenings while Isaiah is working. It's a show I enjoy and can usually stay awake to watch, and if I fall asleep, it's no big deal because I've already seen it from start to finish. I enjoy living vicariously through Hugh Laurie because even though he's a huge jerk 99.9% of the time, sometimes I wish I could get away with speaking exactly what's on my mind like that.

Listening to: My new favorite Christmas album, "Christmas Songs" by Penny and Sparrow. I just love their rendition of Come Thou Fount. It's on the Spotify playlist I posted the other day, if you're interested in giving it a listen.

Wearing: A constant rotation of Christmas flannel pjs from Old Navy (well, except when I'm at work, though I would if I could). 'Tis the season!! My new pair this year has cats on them. CATS. IN SOCKS. WITH CANDY CANES. They were basically made for me.

Smelling: A new oil diffuser we got the other day from a local shop. Our credit union gave us a $50 gift card for using them to finance our new Jeep, and lately candles don't smell like anything but burning wick to me (even my beloved Bath and Body Works candles, RIP) so a diffuser seemed like the right answer. It's a balsam scent, mixed with some other good things like vanilla and mandarin. My nose only picks out pine tree, but that's fine. Better than straight up burning wick and fire. Even my beloved Marshmallow Fireside candle hasn't smelled the same, boo hiss.

Eating: An apple, my standard first breakfast these days. It wasn't the best one, if you're wondering. The skin was too bitter.

Loving: Being done with Christmas parties, neighborly baking, cooking for potlucks, Christmas it's all downhill until C-Day (...that's Christmas Day).

Not Loving: Christmas parties with people I don't really know very well who are already 8 drinks deep by the time my husband and I agree it's time to leave at 8:30pm. Not my thing.

Creating: A gnome mobile for the kid's room. I'm about 2/3rds finished with it and I'm pretty excited about how it's turning out. 

Wanting: To stop waking up a million times a night. I don't know what's going on with my sleep patterns lately, but I wake up feeling like I got about 4 hours of sleep. Last night, it was raining and hailing so hard on our metal roof that I woke up at least three times from that alone. 

Laughing at: This Tweet:

Feeling: FAT. I'm told that virtually every pregnant woman goes through a fat stage before you actually start looking pregnant, but I had no idea what a mental game it was really going to be. Part of my brain realizes that this is necessary to grow a healthy baby, but the other part of me, the part who spent the better part of the last two years doing a crap ton of nutrition and fitness research and really getting to know my body and working out really hard to get in the best shape of my life just wants to cry in the corner. 

Hoping: That everyone in my family likes their Christmas presents this year. I kind of went out on a little bit of a limb with some of them, and hopefully they're everything everyone was hoping for and dreaming of. If not, that's why God made gift receipts.

Anticipating: I'll give you a hint: It rhymes with "schmissmas."

Monday, December 19, 2016

This Eggo is Preggo.

Note: That right there is the ONLY time it is acceptable to use the word "preggo" to describe a pregnant woman.

Now that the cat is out of the bag, I thought I should pop back in and update anyone who wants to know more about my last post!

Yes, I am actually pregnant, the last post was not a hoax. I'm a little over 13 weeks along (second trimester, holla!), with a due date of either June 24th or June 18th depending if you ask me or my baby doctor.  According to the ultrasound tech at my dating scan, which they did at 11 weeks, the baby was measuring almost a full week further along. I know my body, however, and I know that's not really likely. So, I'm still telling people I'm due June 24th. If the kid wants to come a week early, fine by me...but then, Isaiah is hoping for a July 4th baby. I told him please do not pray for that to happen.

No, this is not in any way, shape or form a surprise. The only surprise was that we were finally freaking pregnant after trying for a full year. I've always felt sympathetic toward people with infertility issues, but now I can empathize, at least a little, with how it feels when everyone and their sister/cousin/best friend/grandmother is announcing their pregnancy and you're still seeing month after month after month of zero results. It's like no other disappointment or feeling in the world and my heart and prayers go out to anyone who is publicly or privately struggling. It's no fun.

Yes, I had "morning" sickness (a.k.a. all day long sickness) from weeks 6-12 but no, I've never thrown up, praise be to God. I asked my mom, and she said she had the same thing happen with both me and my sister, so I guess some things really are hereditary. She also told me she got a lot of stretch marks, so apparently I have that to look forward to as well. I still feel sick if I don't eat a snack right before I go to bed and drink a glass of orange juice right after I wake up so my blood sugar doesn't crash through the floor, but it's far more manageable than it was for those awful six weeks. Being nauseated from the minute you wake up to the minute you go to bed for a month and a half is just exhausting. But trust me - I am very much counting my blessings that it was only six weeks, and I have a newfound respect for women who spend weeks and weeks and weeks (or months and months and months) throwing up before they feel better.

No, I have not been an emotional, crying/raging wreck. That's actually one of several things I've been expecting to happen that just...haven't. I do occasionally tear up at things I normally wouldn't, like when Beth dies in Little Women or when I ruined a batch of pancakes or when Isaiah has to work a ton of overtime, but I'm usually laughing about it two minutes later. I haven't been overly irritable, either, though maybe ask my husband for the final word on that one. All the stories of pregnant women who scream at strangers for looking at them funny or bawl at puppy commercials...that just hasn't been me.

Yes, I was completely and utterly exhausted for weeks on end. When planning to get pregnant, I had all these grand ideas of how I was going to eat only super healthy food and how I was going to work out for at least an hour every day no matter how tired I was. Ha. Ha ha ha. We found out I was pregnant when I was only 4 1/2 weeks along, so for the glorious week and a half before the sickness hit, I WAS actually eating super healthy and using the treadmill almost every night after work. Then I started feeling like death warmed over, I could barely keep my eyes open past 1:00 in the afternoon (God bless the doctor who told me up to 200mg of caffeine a day was totally fine if I needed it), and the only food I could even think about without wanting to throw up was carbs, carbs, and more carbs. I think I've eaten more bagels in the last few months than I have my entire life combined. Now that I'm feeling somewhat normal again, I'm back to eating a LOT better and exercising, and I'm so thankful to be back into my semi-normal routine. Selfishly, I'm trying to make it easier on myself to get back in shape after the baby is born. Un-selfishly, I'd like to have as healthy a baby as possible and hopefully an easier labor and delivery as well.

Yes, we plan on finding out the sex of the baby. I won't be 20 weeks along until early February, but we do plan on finding out when we get the anatomy scan done. If you know me, you know that I'm a major planner and there is absolutely no way on God's green earth I would enjoy keeping it a surprise. I will definitely let you know what we're having after we find out, but I probably will keep the name to myself until the baby is born. We've already been told not to "name the baby anything weird," so...

No, this is not going to turn into a strictly mommy blog. There will be no weekly "bumpdates" around these parts, I will not be comparing our baby's size to produce, and sonogram photos are staying right where they're supposed to - taped to my own refrigerator.

So there you have it, folks. That's what's been going on in my world lately. It's been so hard to think of things to blog about without accidentally giving away the secret, but hopefully things will pick back up now that I don't have to watch every word I type to make sure it doesn't drop too heavy a hint. I mean, even my "Life Lately" posts have been hard. Here's what they would have looked like had I been completely, 100% spur-of-the-moment honest with my answers:

Reading: Books about sleep training and breastfeeding.
Wearing: Any shirt that doesn't touch my neck because anything touching my neck makes me gag.
Eating: Bagels, orange juice, bagels, saltine crackers, and also bagels.
Smelling: Everything under the gosh darn sun and then some.

You get the picture.

Speaking of pictures, no baby bump pictures yet. I'll think about posting one when it looks like I'm having a baby and not a giant bagel.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Annual Christmas Project: 2016

If you've been following my blog(s) for the last few years, you know that every year I try and share a fun Christmas-y DIY project/craft.

One year it was a pinecone garland that had the word "MERRY" on it in wooden letters:

Another year was a tabletop Christmas tree made out of glass ball ornaments:

And the year before last were ornaments I made to look like balls of yarn (admittedly, they didn't turn out quite as well as I had imagined):

Last year I was on a blogging break, so there's nothing to show from that time period, but if I had still been clogging up the internets I'm sure I would have come up with something to share.

I have to say, this year may be my most epic DIY project yet. I posted a sneak peek (not sneak peak and not sneek peek) a few weeks ago on Instagram:

I don't have a supply list or detailed, step-by-step instructions to give you this year (you're welcome), but I wanted to share the final results anyway. Or is it a work in progress?

Merry Christmas, everyone!

P.S. My apologies to anyone who had their hopes up for a "real" DIY project they could copy. I mean, feel free to copy this, but I'm not responsible for how it turns out...

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Spotify Sessions, Vol. 3: Christmas 2016

In case you're unaware, Christmas is exactly two weeks from Sunday, and this tinsel and holly loving girl could not be more excited about it.

I was actually pretty stressed out until this morning, when I finally finished my Christmas shopping. I know, it seems like it's still early to be worrying about finishing shopping, but you're talking to someone who is normally finished by the time midnight on Black Friday hits, and normally all the things I've ordered have already come in the mail and are either wrapped and under the tree or packed safely in a box to mail to relatives.

On the other hand, it's kind of nice to not have a bunch of presents under the tree already because normally when that happens, I start trying to convince Isaiah that it would be a good idea if we started opening presents just a little bit early. I swear, I'm not five years old.

All I have left now is to decorate my office at work (if I have to work for a couple hours on Saturday you better believe it's going to be spent hanging lights) and make candy for the neighbors. Sometimes I make jam, sometimes I make cookies, this year I decided to be ambitious and a little bit out of the box and make a few different kinds of candy. On deck are cream cheese mints, peppermint layered fudge, caramel/chocolate covered marshmallows, and candied almonds. I'll be honest, I'd be perfectly fine skipping the neighborly gifts this year because only one person seems to actually appreciate it and it ends up being more stressful than it's actually worth, but at least I get to practice my candy making skillz and probably have leftovers.

Anyway, I digress, because the point of this post is really just to give you a Christmas playlist that you can blast while you're wrapping your own presents or making candy, or whatever. I thought about just posting a playlist for my new favorite Christmas album, but decided that would be a little bit on the lazy side, so I'm doing a compilation of a variety of my favorite songs instead. (That album would be Christmas Songs by Penny and's on repeat and I can't stop.)

Enjoy, and I hope your holidays are past the stressful point too!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Life Lately #3

Reading: Alicia: My Story by Alicia Appleman-Jurman. It's a memoir by a Jewish woman who lived in Poland during WWII. I'm only 15% done with the book but I'm already absolutely captivated. Any memoir from that time period is pretty much guaranteed to suck me in so I'm not the best objective reviewer, but if you like books about Jewish heroes and heroines during the Holocaust you'll probably like this one.

Watching: The snow falling outside! If this keeps up we might have a white Christmas for the first time in years. The first one I can actually remember, in fact. My luck it'll turn to 40 degrees and rain on, like, December 23rd.

Listening to: The new Christmas album by the Pentatonix. And, as always, wishing I was in an acapella group because it just seems so darn fun.

Wearing: My winter uniform. Jeans, boots, sweater, scarf.

Smelling: Nothing at the moment, thank goodness. My coworkers cook some weeeeeeird shiz sometimes and my office is right next to the kitchen.

Eating: An everything bagel with cream cheese. I have been on the biggest bagel kick over the last month or two, and have eaten one almost every single day. Can't stop, won't stop.

Loving: Bagels.

Not Loving: That bagels are like 50 grams of carbs and that's almost half my carb macros for the day. Anyone have any recommendations for soy-free (allergic) low-carb bagels? Bueller?

Annoyed with: GIFT GUIDES. Oh em gee, every year the ridiculous gift guides. I need some gift ideas for Isaiah for Christmas but every gift guide for men is the most stereotypical thing I've ever seen. And can we all just agree that a $120 bottle of cologne is not a "stocking stuffer"??

Creating: My annual Christmas project! If you're new-ish around here, you might not know that when I was a regular blogger in years past, every December I would put together some kind of DIY Christmas craft project, list the supplies and instructions, etc. That post should be up in the next two weeks or so.

Wanting: All jobs to have winter break/summer break like teaching jobs do. Granted, I get a lot more PTO than teachers (my sister gets two days, I get two weeks) so I can take my time off whenever, but it's certainly not 3 months at a time! My sister is using her 2017 summer break to go to China for six weeks with a friend. CHINA. FOR SIX WEEKS. I haven't had a straight six weeks off work since I was fourteen; in other words, since before I got my first job. In case you're counting, that's almost twenty years ago.

Laughing at: This cartoon that my brother-in-law sent Isaiah yesterday. Because it's SO TRUE. My sister's cat is exactly like this with me.

Feeling: Annoyed with Facebook, as usual. You leave one "please help me with this tech issue" on an app company's Facebook page and next thing you know people are asking you about it and you had no idea your comment was even public. Just when you think everything is private...nope. As I've said a bajillion times before, if it wasn't the only way to communicate with family members who don't believe in e-mailing vs. Facebook messaging, I'd be out.

Hoping: That all my Christmas shopping will be done in time. Getting ideas from my mom and sister is like pulling teeth. I think next year I will suggest that we give them both money and they give us an equal amount of money and we call it good.

Wishing: That I was a better blogger. I was telling this to a friend today...that I think I'm more in love with the idea of blogging than I am blogging itself. I'm naturally a pretty private person - I prefer to email or text with a few close friends rather than share everything about my life with the internet. It makes it hard to think of things to write about.

Anticipating: Christmas. Really, December is stressing me out quite a bit this year and I'm ready for it to just be Christmas day so all the stress can be behind me.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Good morning, everyone. You know, the Statue of Liberty and this wonderful holiday called Thanksgiving go together naturally because although as Americans we have many things for which to be thankful, none is more important than our liberty.
Liberty: That quality of government, that brightness of mind and spirit for which the Pilgrim Fathers braved the seas and Americans for two centuries have laid down their lives. 
Today, while religion is suppressed in perhaps one third of the world, we Americans are free to worship the Almighty as we choose. 
While entire nations must endure the yoke of tyranny, we are free to speak our minds, to enjoy an unfettered and vigorous press, and to make government abide by the limits we deem just. 
While millions live behind walls, we remain free to travel throughout the land to share this precious day with those we love most deeply - the members of our families. 
My fellow Americans, let us keep this Thanksgiving Day sacred. Let us thank God for the bounty and goodness of our nation. 
And as a measure of our gratitude, let us rededicate ourselves to the preservation of this: The land of the free and the home of the brave."

Thursday, November 10, 2016

New seasons, new cars, new presidents

WELL. It's been a while, hasn't it? Let's recap the last few weeks.

October ended. I am okay with this - October is not my favorite month. We don't have pumpkin patches or apple orchards or Starbucks PSLs (which are gross anyway) and I've been wearing cardigans and flannels since August but it was dry enough to take a few crisp autumn walks and the leaves did actually change and stick around for more than .294 seconds this year, so that's fun.

Halloween happened. I honestly couldn't care less about Halloween - it's not a holiday we celebrate, I can buy candy any time I darn well please (because I'm an ADULT) and I believe people should put their babies in costumes at least once a week all year long, so Halloween is a non-event for me. That said, I do find it slightly amusing that the two people at my job who actually dress up are the kind of people who I suspect would wear their respective costumes every day of the year if it was socially acceptable (one is an actual Wiccan who always dresses like a witch, the other is a very...interesting...girl who has a Halloween mask stapled to her backpack 24/7 and wore a red wig with ram horns and a trench coat). I tried to get photographic evidence but the office I've lived in at work for the last year doesn't provide great photo-taking opportunities. I did manage to get a kinda lame shot of Ram Horn Girl walking down the back alleyway past my window, though.

We bought a new car. Neither of us have ever owned a vehicle newer than 2004, and while we've been perfectly satisfied with older, less expensive vehicles - Isaiah's Ford F150 is also a 2004 - my Jeep Liberty had about 215k miles on it and was starting to need repairs about every other month. As older vehicles do. So, it was time to retire it and buy something newer, with low miles, that is also kid-friendly so sometime in the next few years we're set and not needing another new vehicle that will fit car seats. We looked around, test drove a few different crossover SUVs when we were in Anchorage, and finally settled on a new/used 2015 Jeep Cherokee with only 12k miles on it. I guess we're one of those "Jeep families" now. I originally thought the new Cherokees were fuuuuugly but they've really grown on me, plus they are crazy comfortable. I think my favorite thing about it is the remote start...partially because it's nice to let your car defrost for 15-20 minutes before you actually have to leave, and partially because I feel safer walking to my car with it already running when there are bears potentially in the area (the noise and all).

The election happened. I am absolutely beyond thrilled that Hillary Clinton lost. She 110% deserves the defeat. I am also extremely disappointed that Donald Trump was the one to beat her, but hey. I didn't vote for either of them. As I said to a friend earlier today, if he is the second coming of Ronald Reagan I will be ecstatic and so happy to be proven wrong about who I believe he is (and is not). If he is the next Putin, my hands are clean.

Did I mention I'm SO HAPPY Clinton lost? And no, I'm not turning off comments on this post because I am secure in my beliefs and opinions and if you disagree and think she was the next Jesus, that's fine. You're wrong, but that's fine.

Daylight savings also happened. Can we just all agree that it needs to be a thing of the past? Like...yay, I get to drive to work in semi-daylight for another few weeks (until sunrise starts not happening until 9am again), but it's also almost dark when I get off work now and I get off at three thirty in the afternoon. I'm looking out the window right now and the sun is already going down and it's TWO O'CLOCK. I'm pretty sure that's not actually helping any farmers anywhere.

I think that's about it for current events in my world. Less than two weeks and I'll be on a plane to see my dear mother and sister, and I am beside myself with excitement. As I mentioned in my last post (if you can remember that far back), my mom has no idea that I'm coming and I cannot wait to surprise her. My sister and I are already planning a Thanksgiving menu and I'm in charge of the decor (yessssss) and Ijustcannotwaitohmygoodness.

When I get back, it'll be almost December and we all know what that means (ho ho ho!!). 

I'm terrible at ending blog posts in a creative way so I'll just leave you with this gem:

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Stuff and Things: The Fifth One [Life Lately #2]

Reading: The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman and Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. So far so good on both of them! I haven't met a WWII historical fiction yet that I don't like, so Sepetys is hitting the spot once again.

Watching: Call the Midwife, season 3. Yep, I'm behind. Really behind.

Listening to: The band Joseph. Kinda folksy, kinda rocker, right up my alley. Check them out!

Wearing: All the sweaters and all the boots, because it's October and 45 degrees outside and the tops of the mountains are turning white which means snow is on the way and all that means is it'll probably dump once mid-November or early December and then not again until like February, and once again my hopes for a white Christmas will be dashed. But you just wanted to know what I was wearing...

Smelling: My new favorite BBW candle, Pumpkin Woods. It's like a mix between Pumpkin Pie and Fresh Balsam, and it's amazing.

Eating: Angie's Boom Chicka Pop candy corn flavored popcorn. Usually I'm a peppermint-or-die girl but it looked too good to pass up at the grocery store, and it's delicious. Plus, I have to wait another month or so for peppermint to be in season. Fun fact: I actually very strongly dislike actual candy corn, but this flavored popcorn is okay. I just have to tell myself I will NOT buy a bag every other day, or come January I'll be having to go to the gym twice a day to get that popcorn back off my midsection.

Drinking: Peppermint tea!! I haven't been in a coffee mood lately so I've been digging through my larger-than-it-needs-to-be tea stash and found my Celestial Seasonings Peppermint and it's been my jam lately.

Loving: My short hair. It's so easy and works so well with my fine/thin hair texture and it takes half the time in the morning.

Hating: That I have to get my hair trimmed about every 7-8 weeks and while normal people would charge for an actual trim, ohhhh no, in Sitka you pay for an actual haircut even if you're only getting half an inch trimmed off. When I got my hair cut from shoulderblade length to what it is now in Seattle, I paid $80 plus tip. When I got 1/2" of hair trimmed off at a salon here in Sitka about a month and a half ago, it was $65 plus tip. What the eff, mate.

Annoyed with: My job, for so many reasons. I cannot wait to quit someday. Who are these people who just LOVE their jobs, anyway? How do you do that? Yesterday I had a coworker asking me all kinds of questions that I didn't really know the answer to, because she was literally afraid to ask the people who would actually know because they're apparently always rude to her. I work in an office full of menopausal women so I'm not surprised, but it's frustrating nonetheless.

Creating: All the crocheted things! I just finished a hat for my mom, I have one friend having a baby, another with a toddler, and a bunch of other people I want to make stuff for for Christmas so I'm slowly but surely working through my yarn stash (which we all know is just code for "as soon as I use some of this up, I can order more.")

Wanting: This t-shirt! It's a tradition that we (me, Isaiah, his brother/wife) go to the movies every Christmas Eve. Last year was, obviously, the new Star Wars movie. This year is the next Star Wars installation but it's a side story that I don't care too much about so I figure this t-shirt would make it more fun to watch. New clothes make everything less boring, right? Plus, it has my birthday on it.

Laughing at: The Ben Shapiro Show. You can listen to his podcasts for free almost every afternoon, and it's all political (so if you hate politics, don't bother) and all very depressing but he manages to make everything kinda funny. I mean, if you can't laugh at 2016, what can you laugh at?

Feeling: Tiiiiiiired!!!! The days are getting shorter and I actually drove to work in the dark this morning. It's only a matter of a few weeks before sunset is at 3:15 in the afternoon and every year I just feel so unprepared for the darkness. It makes me want to be in bed by 7pm like a toddler.

Thinking: That this video is absolutely hilarious. Granted, I do know a ton of millenials with jobs/careers and families who are very reponsible adults...but I also know a ton of millenials who...aren't.

Wishing: That we could have a complete do-over for this election. We have, quite literally, the two worst people in America running against each other and one of them is going to run the country. I want to speak with the people responsible for this and give them a good punch in the face.

Anticipating: Normally I would skip right over Thanksgiving and say I'm anticipating Christmas, but this year I actually get to go HOME for Thanksgiving! Better yet, my mom doesn't know I'm coming (my sister is in on the secret and is picking me up from the airport) so it'll be a surprise, and it's always fun to surprise my mom with a visit. Last time I surprised her was Mothers' Day (2012? 13?) and she cried, and who doesn't like to make their mom cry happy tears??

Linking up with Kristin and Joey

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Stuff and Things: The Fourth One [Annoyances & Things I Don't Understand]

Sometimes you just gotta get these things off your chest, you know?

Three-quarter length sleeves. When are these actually useful? If it's cold out, I want long sleeves. If it's hot out (ha ha like never), I want short sleeves. This in-between stuff is nonsense. That said...I almost always roll my flannel shirt sleeves to right below or above my elbows, but I still have the option of long sleeves that way.

People who call and leave voicemails but give zero info. If a voicemail consists of nothing but "Hello, please call me back at 907-xxx-xxxx. Thanks." I'm definitely deleting that shiz. This happens to me at work pretty consistently and I have yet to call someone back if I have no idea what their name is or what they want. Last week I actually had a voicemail that said, and I quote, "Please return my call. Thank you." Hard nope.

Unnecessary cursing. Now, I'm no stranger to a good old fashioned curse word now and again, but I do my best to keep it at a minimum (you try not letting one slip when you grab a stainless steel pot from a 400 degree oven without an oven mitt). What I can't stand are completely random curse words thrown into blog posts/titles, conversations, e-mails, texts, etc. for no good reason other than to...what? Sound cool? Fail. When the title of a blog post is "Books You Need to Read Right This F***ing Minute," I probably won't read any of those books or your blog post either.

Drivers who slow to a crawl before finally flipping on their turn signal while turning. Those people do realize that a turn signal is there to alert other drivers well in advance before the turn actually happens, right? A turn signal is not an "I'm turning rightthissecond" signal.

Pet/baby Instagrams. Just...why? Who are these people who subscribe to a photo feed of nothing but a stranger's dog/cat/child? Before the birth of social media, people would have considered that stalking.

Shipping companies. Not shipping companies in general, but when I submit a quote request for trucking a vehicle cross-country on one website and then somehow end up with 50 e-mails and 20 phone calls and several text messages from a bunch of OTHER companies and now I have to spend half my day unsubscribing from a bunch of e-mail lists I didn't sign up for and avoiding phone calls from Bob and Carlos and Frank and Eddie and Brian and Luis.

The misuse/overuse of the term "bucket list." A bucket list is a list of things you haven't done, but would like to do before you die. Example: "Summiting Mount Rainier is on my bucket list." Therefore, can we stop calling every single list a bucket list? All these "fall bucket lists" I'm seeing floating around...I mean, if carving a pumpkin or buying a plaid blanket scarf is something you've never done but really would like to accomplish if you think you might die before Christmas, then more power to you, but otherwise can we just stop?

Websites that suggest things but don't provide links. I was reading an article today about alternative websites for Etsy sellers to list their products. Not one of the five websites the author listed was linked, which means if I'm interested in any of them, I have to Google to find their website. Yeah, it only takes an extra 30 seconds, but it's annoying. Bloggers do this also. "I bought this super cute and totally affordable new jacket, you should buy it too!" And then they don't give you the link to go look at it, which means I have to go to the store website and try and search for it myself, which is completely irritating and half the time I can't find what they're recommending.

Twitter accounts with nothing but Instagram links. I mean...what's the point? If I want to see someone's photos, I'll follow them on Instagram. I ran across a Twitter account yesterday that was literally (and I use that term literally) nothing but Instagram links. Why!? I feel the same way about Pinterest links automatically posted to Facebook. I mean if you WANT me to unfollow you, then by all means...

What's annoying you lately? Show me I'm not alone with my cranky old lady opinions! And while you're at it, get off my lawn and turn down your music.

Linking up with Kristin and Joey for Stuff & Things

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Bears: Thug Life in the 907

So, I didn't expect to have writer's block so soon. I guess most of the time I just feel like I don't have much to write about. I wake up, shower, go to work, go home, either hang out with my husband or if he's working (most of the time), do some chores/cook food/crochet/Netflix, then go to bed. I eat sometimes, too. Wash, rinse, repeat. I guess I could start doing weekend recaps but nobody really likes to read those, including myself.

Isaiah's going back to night shifts tonight, which always sucks. He was supposed to finally have his turn to work weekdays/day shift and have weekends off (something that hasn't happened since last fall sometime) but due to never-ending staffing issues, he had to go back to night shifts. He technically has weekends off, but since he'll be working Friday nights, he'll have to sleep most of the day on Saturdays. So we really only get Sundays off together. I guess one day a week is better than zero days off together for months at a time, like we've dealt with in the past.

I finally got my Etsy shop back up and running. I know, so cliche. I was mostly ready, I just needed some decent daylight hours to take some pictures. Photos aren't easy when your house gets almost zero natural sunlight. We have about one hour every afternoon where the sun comes in one of our living room windows, but our house is situated on a hill directly above another house, and the neighbors' roof is blue metal. So, every picture I try to take ends up with a dark blue tint, which is super fun to try and edit later. God bless Photoshop, but my pictures will probably always be subpar until we move someday.

Work is work is work. I really have nothing to say about it at this point, other than Halloween and Christmas are coming up which means boxes upon boxes of decorations from the 1990s will be pulled out and vomited up all over the office. Always a treat.

Since August 7th, there have been 5 bear attacks in the vicinity. None within town limits, thankfully, although I'm just waiting for that to happen as there have been multiple reports this last week or two of bears in people's yards, breaking into cars and chicken coops, hanging out on porches, and charging bicyclists alongside the road next to one of our parks. I don't know why people even go outside this time of year. I will say, though, as terrified as I am of bears (they're literally the only thing that gives me nightmares), I had to laugh at this. Sounds like straight up bear thuggery and vandalism to me.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Stuff and Things: The Third One

+ We went camping glamping at a cabin last Sunday evening. In the past, I've always dragged my feet at the idea of staying a night in this particular cabin - not because I'm opposed to camping or sleeping other places than my own bed, but because we live less than five minutes away from the campground where the cabin is situated. It just always seemed like a weird idea, to go sleep on an uncomfortable wooden bunk with no electricity in a place within walking distance from our nice comfortable king sized bed and Netflix. I've always believed that if I'm going to camp, it's going to be because that's the only option. 

But it was ridiculously fun. There's a wood stove inside, a fire pit outside (which we didn't use because it was raining, whomp whomp), and it's within eyesight of the river where the salmon are currently running. They're also dying and generating an absolutely lovely smell, but that's the ciiiiircle of liiiiife. We went to the gun range on the other side of the campground and practiced shooting, we played cards, cooked sausages in the fire, made Oreo s'mores, and read by the light of our headlamps until we fell asleep. I even walked to the bathroom in the pitch black despite my bear-phobia! It helped that Isaiah stood guard with a shotgun, but still. Proud moment.

The moral of the story is: Even if it's a bit of a hassle to pack up your car and drive to a cabin within walking distance, do it. There's nothing quite like being in the woods and out of cell phone range once in a while.

+ Every day lately, right around noon, my office at work floods with the smell of gasoline and oil, presumably from the gas station next door. It's AWFUL, it gives me almost an instant headache and makes me want to vomit, and I don't know what to do about it. I don't even open my window anymore, and my office still reeks. I almost had to leave work yesterday, it was so bad.

+ Words cannot express how little I care about Brad and Angelina's apparent split. And by "how little I care" I mean I don't care at all and I don't know why anyone cares, honestly. It's Hollywood, where marriages last approximately 4.6 seconds on average and cheating is just what you do because fame and fortune means you don't actually have to have morals or standards.

I got a new tattoo this week! You might think I'm a little ridiculous, but I love it. Cat lady street cred, level up.

Two notes: One, it's in the healing stage right now, which is why it looks a little rough. I forgot to take a picture right after I got it done when it looked the best.
Two, do you know how hard it is to get a picture of your inner upper arm? Real hard.

+ It's the first day of fall, if you haven't been made aware by the approximately 439,826 memes circulating the internets today. In my town, it's 53 degrees, pouring rain and the wind is gusting. In other words, it looks and feels exactly the same as mid-July. This is why I can't relate to all the excitement around the "changing of the seasons." Just give me Christmas already.

Linking up with Kristin and Joey for Stuff and Things!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Life Lately #1

Reading: The Bassoon King by Rainn Wilson. I have to be honest, it's a little "meh" so far. I've absolutely loved reading his depiction of growing up in Seattle, but once he moves to the east coast for acting school, there's a lot of name-dropping and talking about his bohemian lifestyle/Baha'i faith, which I can't really relate to at all. I'm about halfway done and hopefully he starts talking about The Office soon, because truthfully it's the real reason I picked it up in the first place.

Watching: All the Netflix! 'Tis the season for The Walking Dead, The Blacklist, Blue Bloods and Grimm.

Listening to: The new Leagues album on Spotify. It's okay.

Wearing: All camo, all the time. I don't know what's gotten into me but in the last 3 months I've bought a camo t-shirt, a pullover, and a zip-up hoodie. I tried to find a camo jacket during our recent Anchorage trip but came up short (what are malls even good for anymore?). Instead, I settled for a plain olive green anorak-style jacket from PacSun, which is a great store to go into if you want to relive your high school years.

Short person/tall bathroom mirror problems.
Also, don't judge me for the painting - judge whoever decorated my workplace.

Smelling: Nothing, because I've had a cold for a full week now. There was a small electrical fire in the medical office upstairs this morning, and apparently everyone can smell the lingering smoke smell except for me.

Eating: A chocolate/macadamia cluster that my boss just gave me as a "stress reliever" (her words) after the fire this morning. I wasn't stressed but who am I to turn down free chocolate?

Loving: Iced coffee. It doesn't have to be July and 90 degrees outside, I'll drink the iced stuff year-round. I drink it cold more often than I drink it hot. Lately I've been wishing I could just mainline it because the days are getting darker and I'm just so. dang. tired. all. the. time.

Can I get an I.V. of this?

Hating: Razors that are too dull to use after only two weeks. With all the scientific advancements these days, can't someone invent a never-goes-dull razor? I'd pay good money for that.

Annoyed with: Companies who don't offer shipping options. Dear Forever 21: You can take the $10.90 you want to charge me to ship two $3.90 pairs of earrings and shove it up your butt.

LOL no.

Creating: New things for Etsy! My goal is to reopen my shop on October 1st with some new and revamped items.

Wanting: A new duvet cover/sheets and to redecorate our upstairs bathroom. Is this what GoFundMe accounts are for?

Laughing at: The police blotter, always and forever the police blotter. It's not quite as amusing now that Isaiah has the inside scoop to most of the stories and they're usually not as funny as you'd think, but I still get a kick out of them. Most recently, a man called to report himself for accidentally passing a school bus with its red lights flashing. Apparently he felt really bad about it.

Feeling: If I'm being honest, a little bit frustrated that since my return to blogging, I can't seem to find any good new blogs to read that aren't all about babies/kids. I love my mom-friends but when you don't have children and everyone's blogging about diapers and breastfeeding and toddler antics, you just feel really left out. There's only so much I can comment on when I literally cannot relate to a single second of someone else's parenting adventures.

Hoping: That I'll get into an autumn mood soon. I want to be excited about pumpkins and candles and scarves. I really do. My heart just isn't in it yet.

Thinking: It's time to start thinking about what to get people for Christmas. It's never too early to start thinking about that, right?

Wishing: That my full-time job(s) could just be baking and crocheting. I know there are ways to turn your hobbies into your job, but finding a way to do that while living in a ridiculously expensive island town is harder than it sounds. I waitressed all through college and I used to dream of the day I could have a desk job with my own computer and shop for office decorations instead of non-slip black shoes and polo shirts but now I'm over it.

Anticipating: Camping this weekend! We live about 5 minutes away from a campground but have never really made it a point to go stay there for a night. There's a cabin there that we've rented for Sunday/Monday and I'm going to be spending the whole time trying not think about the fact that it's right next to a river, it's salmon spawning season, and the bears are out in full force.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Stuff and Things: The Second One

The only reason I like Thursday is because it's only one day removed from Friday, which is only one day removed from the weekend. You feel me?

+ For years, I have had this issue where nail polish makes my nails split and peel for weeks after I take the polish off. Yes, I have tried a thousand different base coats, cuticle oils, nail name it, I've probably tried it or something like it. I don't get nails are generally really healthy and grow pretty fast but the minute I paint them, all hell breaks loose. I've even tried using nail polish strips like these and they do the same thing. I haven't tried Jamberry yet, does anyone know if those strips are made out of real nail polish or not? I couldn't find the answer to that question on their website. Better yet, does anyone sell Jamberry that could send me a sample to try before I waste money on yet another nail polish-esque item that doesn't work for me?

+ I made this quiche for dinner last night. It was delicious, if I do say so myself. I did add mushrooms along with the roasted red peppers and broccoli, and swapped out fresh rosemary instead of chives. It was pretty simple, especially for having a homemade crust. I made it in my tart pan, which made it easy to cut and serve. They suggest an 11" pan but I only have a 9", and it was fine, I just had a little bit of egg mixture leftover that wouldn't fit. I didn't change any of the other measurements.

+ I can't decide if it's funny or irritating when a client tells me they don't owe a bill because it's "a year late", even after I've sent no less than FOUR past due statements. Sounds like a convenient excuse to me. In what world do you not owe for services you've utilized just because a year has passed? I'm going to start ignoring bills from the doctor and wait until a year has gone by and then tell them I refuse to pay because it's been a year since I was in the office. Eye roll.

+ Why does Anthropologie have to be so expensive?? Their new fall home collection is absolutely to die for, but I don't have tens of thousands of dollars just laying around to redecorate with. Looks like there may be some DIYs in my future.

+ I'm in the middle of my annual autumn slump. While everyone else in the country is rejoicing over cooler temperatures, pumpkin everything and a closet full of sweaters they haven't gotten to wear in six months, I'm over here mourning the summer we never had. I just can't get excited about flannel sheets and boots and fall scented candles yet. Give me until about mid-October, then I'll be ready. Ready to start busting out Christmas music and pinning cookie recipes, that is.

+ In case you were wondering.

Linking up with Kristin and Joey for Stuff & Things!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Spotify Sessions, Vol. 2: Dark and Smooth

Am I the only one who watches her favorite tv shows and movies with the SoundHound or Shazam app open, ready at a moment's notice to quickly try and figure out what song is playing?

This playlist consists of songs from The Blacklist (season 3's on Netflix now, y'all!), The Walking Dead, Hannibal, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The Great Gatsby, Man Up, one or two others I can't recall, and a random song we heard in a shop in Iceland (Kaleo, Way Down We Go).

Most of them tend to be a little slower and more dark and mellow than, say, the 90's and 2000's music I posted last time. Enjoy, and if you like the Kaleo song, check out the rest of his album specifically. It's one of my current favorites!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Stuff and Things: The First One

Anchorage last weekend was fantastic! It was nice to just get out of town for a few days. If you live in a small town in the middle of nowhere or on an island or both (like me) you know how important it is just to get away for a break sometimes. Trip highlights: Hiking Mt. Eklutna, the Alaska State Fair, test driving potential new vehicles to replace our Jeep with 215K miles on it, and allllllll the shopping. We crammed both the hike and the fair into the first day we were there (after getting up at 3AM to catch our flight), and I'm glad we did - it was 70 degrees and partly sunny. The rest of the trip? Almost constant rain. Figures.

The view from the top of Mt. Eklutna, Anchorage

3 hours, 40 minutes // 6.27 miles // 2933 feet of elevation gain // 4100' summit

If we look tired, it's because we were.

I was unimpressed with Target, however. They were out of so many things! They only had XL/XXL in most of the clothes we liked, their shoe selection was abysmal, and every toiletry/beauty item I wanted to buy, that's the one they didn't have restocked. I don't know if this is just an Alaska thing or not, but we encounter the same problem in Sitka constantly.

+ The iPhone 7 was announced yesterday. Color me unimpressed. "Fastest yet!" "Best battery life yet!" "Best camera yet!" Um, it better be, considering it's a brand new iPhone. Also, they did get rid of the headphone jack. At least they're including a lightning port adapter in the box so those of us who live in the Stone Age can still use our regular headphones.

Also, they're releasing wireless earbuds called AirPods (ha ha ha) that will cost $159. I was following the #AppleEvent hashtag on Twitter and dying of laughter at some of the things people were Tweeting.

I would also like to know why, with all this wireless technology they're bragging about, they still couldn't figure out how to make a wireless charger. I think people would rather have that than Apple brand wireless earphones (which aren't exactly innovative, you know?).

+ I still have not gotten my Etsy shop back up and running! Our house is basically a cave and so I have to wait for just the right amount of light to take photos, otherwise everything looks like garbage. My goal is to have it reopened by October 1st. That gives me a little over three weeks to finish making some new stuff and take pictures/write descriptions of everything. I did make a new shop banner, though. Progress.

+ I have to share something. While we were in Anchorage, Isaiah and I went to Cabelas and bought a new Glock 43/9 mm compact handgun. Currently, he's carrying it as his new off-duty firearm until he orders one for himself, but then it'll be my new concealed carry weapon. The only reason I'm sharing this is because I'm a firm believer in complete and total Second Amendment rights, and I can't help but feel a sense of American pride when I look at our growing collection. It's really nice to know that we don't have to rely on anybody but ourselves to protect our home and family (and maybe others someday, who knows).

Linking up with Kristin and Joey for Stuff & Things!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Casual Friday: Ep. 4

+ I saw this recipe online the other day and I'd like to reiterate my feelings. You already know how I feel about things like toast, iced coffee, ice cream sandwiches, etc. became labeled as "recipes" but this is another pet peeve. That sushi "burrito" is literally just a regular sushi roll that they didn't slice up into bites. Seriously, people? This is like the Hollywood movie era of online recipes. There are no more original ideas.

+ Baker problems: Lusting over a stand mixer that you can only buy in Europe.

+ At the risk of broaching a fairly controversial story that's been in the media lately...I'll just say a quick "amen" to this article. You do you indeed, Colin. (Even if "you" are an "asshole".)

+ I got a haircut Sitka...And I didn't walk out feeling like I could have cut it myself and done just as good of a job! I guess that's the other bonus to having a super short haircut - it's hard to mess it up. Although I'm not thrilled with the price of a haircut in Sitka. I paid this salon almost the same price I paid the salon in Seattle to take my hair from mid-back length to the pixie cut I have now...and I only got a half-inch to an inch taken off yesterday. Where I'm from (reality) we call that a "trim" and it shouldn't cost the same as a full-on brand new hair cut and style. The price of beauty, am I right?

Speaking of hair, I sprayed hairspray directly into my right eye this morning. I don't know how, but it happened and trust me, don't ever do that. First, it stings like a mothertrucker and second, now my eye feels cloudy and like I have the biggest eyelash ever stuck to my eyeball. Working all day at my computer is going to be just so fun.

+ I get to go to Anchorage for the first time tomorrow! 7 years in Alaska and I've never once been to the mainland. So, Isaiah has the weekend off, it's a long/holiday weekend and we had air miles to use so we figured...why the heck not? On the list to do: the Alaska State Fair, eat at all the restaurants, go to all the stores (REI! Cabela's! The mall!), and go for at least one hike.

+ If you ever need therapy but can't afford a therapist, I highly recommend volunteering at your local animal shelter. If dogs are your thing, offer to walk dogs. If cats are your thing, offer to go in and play with the cats - especially if there are kittens that could use some human socialization. There have been TWO litters of kittens at our animal shelter lately and since it's an extension of the police department, Isaiah has keys and therefore unlimited access to the shelter any time day or night. We may or may not have been to visit the kittens at least five or six times over the last couple of weeks and we may or may not have stayed at least two hours every single time. I feel like they're ALL mine and every time one gets adopted I'm thrilled they found a home but I also feel a bit like one of my children have been kidnapped. But seriously though - therapy, I'm telling you.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Things I've Googled Lately

Sometimes I have morbid thoughts. Off and on over the years I've thought to myself, "If I disappeared today, and someone got onto my phone/computer and looked through my Google utterly mortified would I be?"

I mean, obviously I'd be missing, potentially kidnapped, and I'd rather the police be thorough and search every possible avenue for clues to my disappearance, but I digress.

So, I looked through my Google history, and I realized that while I don't really have many 'embarrassing' searches, I do have some kind of random ones that would probably raise an eyebrow or two. I thought I would take this opportunity to share some of them and also explain myself.

At least that way if something happens to me and someone looks through my search history, they can also read this blog for my justifications as well.

Can you substitute baking soda for baking powder?

I bake a lot and I've learned how to tweak just about any recipe, but I really had no idea if I could do this or not. I ran out of baking powder when I was wanting to make a waffle for dinner, but I have a huge box of baking soda so I really wanted to know what would happen if I just swapped it out. Apparently you can substitute, but you also need to increase the acidity in order for baking soda to work. So, if you mix 2 parts cream of tartar with 1 part baking soda, you have homemade baking powder.

Can I mail food through the post office?

Obviously I know that you can mail nonperishable storebought food, but I was specifically trying to find out if I could mail homemade candy through the mail. Then I realized that people mail homemade cookies and jam and such, so that's where my Googling ended.

How do you delete fake followers on Instagram?

I recently decided to go ahead and make my Instagram public, but I wanted to know if there was a way to delete followers just in case. My search led me into learning that you can't delete fake followers, but you can block them, and then they'll disappear from your followers list. Perfect.

What do blocked Instagram followers see?

I wanted to know just in case I want to block someone someday who isn't a fake follower. Just being proactive, here.

Hard reset Garmin Vivoactive HR

Self-explanatory: I needed to know how to hard reset my Garmin sport watch. It locked up and none of the buttons nor the touchscreen were working. I got it fixed, in case you were wondering.

Flower tattoo Scandinavian cat black and white

Sometimes I just throw all the descriptive words I can think of into the Google photo search bar, and this was one of those times. I'm sure you can figure out what type of photos I was looking for - I need new ink!

Under the Dome cancelled?

I'd been waiting and waiting for the 4th season of Under the Dome on Amazon Prime, and then Isaiah told me the show was cancelled. I could not recollect that fact, so I turned to Google to find out 1) if he was lying to me (he wasn't) and 2) why it was cancelled (the show totally jumped the shark, which I already knew, and they lost a lot of viewers).

Ladies hands up let me see you shake your stuff

I was looking for song lyrics, I promise. There's this song I used to jam out to in my car when I was in college and I couldn't for the life of me remember the rest of the lyrics or the singer, so that's what I had to work with. It ended up being "Ladies" by Sarai. I cannot remember why I ever liked her, other than that one song is a smidge catchy. This was, however, the first time I'd ever watched the video. If I didn't know better I would think it was a parody.

What is zentangle?

This. This is zentangle. I get it and I don't.

Cable front vs cable back

I'm trying to teach myself cable knitting and I wasn't sure what the difference was.

Hannibal pig guy

Trying to remember who one of the characters was since it had been so long since we watched Season 2. Just finished Season 3, the last season...they ended it decently, I think.

John Daly drink

We were out to eat the other night at a restaurant WITH A FULL BAR (all caps because I am incensed) and they told me they "cannot make a Long Island Iced Tea but we can make you a John Daly - it's similar!" First of all, when you have a FULL BAR, how do you not have the ability to make a Long Island? Second of all, a John Daly tastes nothing like a Long Island, which is why I ended up Googling it to figure out what exactly was in it. For the record, it's lemonade, iced tea, and a little bit of vodka. Basically an Arnold Palmer with a tiny splash of booze. Not even close, dude. I'm still irrationally upset about this because THEY HAVE A FULL BAR.

Meme little girl shrug

I was trying to convince Isaiah that we could kidnap a few of the kittens from the animal shelter before their new owners come to claim them and when the animal control officer asks if we know where they went, we could make that face. He hadn't seen the meme so I had to find it. I still think it would work.

"Isaiah, you know where those two kittens went?"

I guess that's about it for my interesting Google searches lately. Not too bad I guess, if the extent of the excitement is "Hannibal pig guy" and a super-white girl "rapper".

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Gear Review: Marmot Kompressor Plus 20L Backpack

This summer, Isaiah and I found ourselves in the market for new small backpacks to take with us when we go on day hikes. We have one small REI pack and an old hunting daypack that Isaiah had before we got married, but we were wanting to try and find hydration packs so we wouldn't have to carry huge water bottles with us every time we head out into the mountains.

After an extensive hunt (have you looked at the price of even small backpacks lately?), we finally found backpacks that met most of the criteria on our list and was also affordable.

Besides needing to look good (what?), we also wanted the packs to have a separate water bladder compartment, a top lid compartment, mesh side pockets, and personally, I like to have a waist strap on my pack to keep it from moving around too much on my back while scrambling up a mountainside. We also didn't want them to be too big, because bigger means heavier. 

We searched for hours. Days. WEEKS, even. It's actually really hard to find a pack that hits all the points on your list and also doesn't cost $100 or more. Finally, we came across one that stood up to scrutiny.

Referring back to our list of must-haves:

1.) A water bladder compartment. This pack separates the water bladder compartment from the rest of the pack with a removable foam pad, and has a small velcro strap that fits through the top of the bladder to hold it upright and keep it from sinking down into the bottom of your pack. It also has a small drainage hole toward the bottom in the back, just in case your water bladder happens to leak or sweat. The drinking tube then fits through a small hole at the top of the pack and you can run it either left or right, depending on which side you like to drink from.

2.) A top lid pocket. Not only does this backpack have the top lid with a zip pocket, the whole thing can actually be stuffed into the lid itself, which makes it ultra packable and small for traveling. At first, I wished the top lid had a little bit more structure to it, since it tends to slide down a bit if you put anything remotely heavy in it (I have my headlamp, sunscreen, bug spray and band-aids/moleskin in there), but I've gotten used to it and it's really not that big of a deal. 

3.) Mesh side pockets. There are actually two of these, one on each side of the pack. They're perfect for anything you like to keep handy on the outside of your pack - energy bars, an extra water bottle, a multi-tool/knife, a cell phone or small camera, etc. Isaiah has even been carrying a compact pair of binoculars while we hike and the side pocket works perfectly for those.

4.) Waist strap. This backpack does have a simple, unpadded adjustable waist strap, and it also has a sternum strap. I don't typically use sternum straps because they cut right across the center of my chest - and as a woman, that doesn't work so well - but Marmot actually did something pretty cool with this backpack. They made the sternum strap adjustable vertically, not just horizontally, so I can slide the strap higher up toward my collarbone if I do want to use it. 

Front of the backpack. Yes, that is a Smokey the Bear keychain!

Internal water bladder pocket. This pack does not come with a water 
bladder but we have these 2-liter Platypus bladders and they work great!

This pack also has a few little extra features that we weren't necessarily expecting but are definitely handy anyway.

1.) Built-in emergency whistle. It's built into the clip that attaches the sternum strap, and while it's probably not the best emergency whistle out there, it's certainly handy to have ready and available just in case.

2.) Trekking pole attachments. We don't usually carry trekking poles on our day hikes, just because we are rarely out for more than 4-5 hours, but the loop attachments are still a nice feature for a small day pack. I currently have a multi-tool clipped to one of mine but will definitely use it for trekking poles next time we go on a longer hike.

Adjustable sternum strap with built-in emergency whistle and waist strap.
Carabiners are mine - they're not included with the pack.

Top bungee loop to strap down trekking poles (I use mine to clip a multi-tool to
my pack if I'm not carrying trekking poles)

Lower loop also for helping to attach trekking poles. This loop could also
be used for an ice axe, small shovel, or any other larger tools you might
want to carry.

Now, for a few of my not-so-favorite things about this backpack. None of them are deal-breakers, obviously, but they're definitely things to consider if you're shopping for a backpack too.

1.) Lack of mesh padding (or any padding) on the back panel.  One thing I do wish that Marmot had designed a little differently on this pack is the addition of at least a little bit of padding, preferably with a mesh covering, on the back panel. If you don't have a water bladder inside, the removable foam sheet helps a little bit, but if you do have the bladder inside it lays directly against your back. It's not uncomfortable necessarily, but you can feel it - and since there is no mesh, either, my back tends to get a little bit more sweaty than it normally would if there were any kind of airflow. Instead, it's just rip-stop nylon laying directly on your back, which isn't exactly breathable. The pack description says it's an "airmesh" back panel, but it doesn't really feel a whole lot different than the material that the rest of the pack is made from. It could be better.

2.) Lack of any internal pockets. I love the pockets that this backpack already has - the two mesh side pockets, a small mesh zip pocket on the front of the bag, and the top lid compartment - but I would really appreciate the addition of at least one small internal pocket, either open or zipped. Instead, there's just one big giant compartment inside, which means you can't separate smaller items from bigger ones. I usually carry my coat, a rain shell, an empty dry bag, my backpack rain cover, bear protection (a gun), and a few other smaller items. Because it's just one big compartment on the inside, all those items get mixed up together. Again, not the end of the world, just something to be aware of. I've considered stitching my own pocket onto the inside and if I end up doing that, I'll update this post.

3.) No included rain cover. With more expensive backpacks, a lot of times the manufacturer will include a rain cover that fits the pack perfectly and usually stashes away in its own little pocket on the bag somewhere. We've used these backpacks in light/medium rain before and they seemed to do okay. They weren't soaking wet inside, but in heavy rain for an extended period of time, since they're just nylon, I can't see them being very waterproof. We ended up buying our own rain covers (these, size small) separately. Another option would be to buy a bag liner (or just use a trash compactor bag like we do in our 75L backpacks).

Main internal pocket. 

Overall, though, these backpacks are pretty darn good. And, bonus - I was able to hunt one down online that was in a color I actually liked! So many backpacks are just black or gray, or very stereotypical "girl" colors like purple and hot pink.

One word of advice: Definitely shop around if you're considering buying this backpack. On the Marmot website, they're $59.00 but I was able to find ours on Moosejaw for $47.00 (at the time). I don't see my aqua colored one anymore, but Isaiah bought the gray/red one and it's really nice too.

Let me know if I can answer any more questions about the backpack for you! I'm hoping to do periodic reviews of our favorite (or not-so-favorite) hiking and backpacking/camping gear. I know when we're shopping around for gear it's nice to find extensive reviews that consist of more than just "It's great!" or "It's terrible!", so I'm hoping to help contribute a little bit myself.

Happy hiking!