Media Monday: Suzanne Vega

I was listening to music as I worked when suddenly one song caught my attention because of the familiarity of the lyrics and vocals and style of music. I quickly googled the lyrics to find out the artist and song and was pleasantly surprised to realize it was a song by Suzanne Vega whom I hadn’t listened to in years.

The song that caught my atttention was Left of Center. Though one of the first songs I ever remember listening to from this artist is Tom’s Diner.

 

What songs draw your attention. What artists did you use to listen to/love and have since forgotten about? Do you ever hear a new song from them and say Oh ya! I like this artist!

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Media Monday: Themed Playlists

Have you ever created a themed playlist? I’ve never been very good at it. I don’t have the patience to sit down and sort through all my music into some sort of cohesive unit. Recently however, I created a playlist I called Devil’s Dance that I have been thoroughly enjoying. The playlist was inspired initially by some of the music from the tv show Lucifer. Playlist

A few of the songs/artists include:

  • Revelry of Heart – Sarah Blacker
  • Solo Dancing – Indiana
  • Delta Rae – many songs
  • Elle King – many songs
  • Gin Wigmore – many songs
  • Bad Man – Blues Saraceno

You can find more from my playlist on spotify.

Some songs not included on Spotify:

What are some of your favorite playlists? What do you think would make a good themed playlist or songs you would add to one?

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Weekend Warrior: City of Rocks Climbing Adventure

2017051395142841Climbing has become one of my dearest hobbies in life. I started climbing approximately 4 years ago now after years and years of wishing and hoping and wanting somewhere to climb. So once I moved back to Utah (thank you Climbing Mecca!) I jumped in feet first. I took classes through the University, I joined a gym, I managed to score a part time job in said gym and learned even MORE about the community I was now a part of.

Learning to climb has involved a number of adventures but I think the most interesting or challenging so far was a trip up to City of Rocks Idaho early this Summer of 2017 with two friends. We decided to hop on a 5.6 trad route at the Breadloaves crag and have a bit of fun on a multipitch with all three of us.

It was pretty chilly so we were all bundled up. Including some self made tape gloves on top of cheap gloves from the gas station. Everything started out fairly well though it was getting colder and colder as we climbed. By the time we were at the top of our first pitch the clouds were rolling in and it was wiiiiindy. We kept going to the top of the climbs so we could find our way down.

Now at the top of the crag it started SNOWING on us. Enough that there was a bit collecting on our layers of clothing as we sat there trying to stay warm and wait it out. We had wandered around the top of the route and could not for the life of us spot the rappel rings we were supposed to use and hadn’t brought any of the guide books up with us and had taken photos of pages that didn’t provide enough information for the rest of the area.2017051395125622

Finally we were all cold enough that we placed a couple pieces of gear to rappel off of and made our way down to the bottom of the route. However, as soon as we tried to pull the rope clear it wouldn’t budge. We put two grown adults body weight on that rope and could not get it to pull through. At this point we’d had just about enough so we gathered the rest of our gear and made our way to the warmth of the cars to make a game plan for the next day.

Looking at the guide books we determined where we thought the rappel rings could be and so we walked around with binoculars until we spotted them. They were unfortunately a mere 5 feet from where we had been looking but were behind a boulder and just under a ledge that made them difficult to spot from the top where we were.

The following day the weather was slightly better. One of my friends had to take off early so there were only two of us to climb. Fortunately we had a spare rope since ours was still waiting for us and we were able to successfully get to the top of the climb again, clean up the rope and gear we had left there, set up our rappel, and get back on the ground.2017051395133118

What’s one of your more exciting adventures outdoors? What is one of your biggest fears or concerns when planning a trip or adventure?

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Fashion Friday: Nature, Art, & Style

This is a bit of an experimental post. I don’t do fashion. Not in the typical sense anyway. I don’t follow trends or update my wardrobe every season. I find clothes that I like and that I am comfortable in. I appreciate beauty, but my ideas of what is beautiful won’t always match what society is saying is currently in style.

I’ve often been drawn to jewelry as wearable art. Going to art festivals or farmer’s markets this is often what catches my eye, especially if there are bright colors involved. This has all been true long enough that I have a friend who gives me jewelry sets throughout the holidays (ie: a ring on my birthday, earrings for Christmas, and necklace for the next  birthday and such).wp-1504097801463

One such artist is Zell from Asana Natural Arts. My mother had bought me a pair of earrings before that I love but I had never seen any of her work in person or explored her website until just a few weeks ago. My friend and I went to Craft Lake City and I was instantly eyeing this lovely booth with jewelry made from butterfly and beetle wings. Not only is the jewelry beautiful, but the beetle and butterfly pieces are made from creatures that lived and died natural deaths in a preserve.

So I bought a necklace and earrings from her. I would have gotten a bracelet as well, but they all had round elements rather than the marquise style that would have matched with the set.

 

 

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Thirsty Thursday: Plum Shrub

Last week I talked about discovering fizzbloom and using these different syrups in drinks both alcoholic and non. This discovery inspired me to try and find more flavors or perhaps make some of my own. I enjoy being creative in the kitchen and either recreating flavors or trying to invent new ones. I also try to use things I already have or can find easily around me.

So with that, I figured I would try something with plums because we have a plum tree in the back yard. I found this lovely Plum Vanilla Shrub recipe on, of course, pinterest. Well, when I went to get some plums from the tree, they were of course gone so I had to get my ingredients from the store. Go figure.20170825_220811

I followed the recipe and had to wait for the shrub to cool and the flavors to really infuse mix before I could try it but I managed to be quite impressed. The first drink I made was simply a bit of the shrub with some soda water mixed together. The flavors were complex and surprising but delicious.

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The second drink was a cocktail of my own devising. I thought with the complexity of flavors this could make quite a few different good drinks. Gin or Bourbon were my first choices for alcohol bases and I thought I would make a similar drink with a couple different bases just to sip and try.

The basic concept was alcohol, shrub, a tad bit of cream or Bailey’s and a dash of cinnamon. This of course turned out to be an awful idea because the vinegar from the shrub curdles the cream. I ended up using brandy in the drink I made, but still think gin or bourbon could be a good drink substitution.

Vanilla Plum Vodka

  • 1.5 oz Vanilla Vodka
  • 0.5 oz Grand Marnier (or other orange liqueur)
  • 1/2 plum
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 lemon
  • soda water

Muddle the plum, sugar, lemon (remove rind), vodka and orange liqueur. Shake with ice and double strain into highball glass filled with ice. Top with soda water. Make pretty with a slice of plum or lemon as desired.

Plum Shrub

  • 1.5 oz Brandy
  • 1 oz Vanilla Plum Shrub
  • 2 dashes vanilla infused peychaud’s bitters
  • 0.5 oz black pepper honey syrup
  • soda water

Pour Brandy, Shrub, bitters, and syrup into a rocks glass. Fill glass with ice, top with soda water and stir. Garnish with slice of plum if desired.

What do you think? Would you try these drinks? What ingredients or flavors do you think would go well with the plum or vanilla plum shrub?

 

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Wordy Wednesday: Pierce Brown

I always seem to be on the hunt for new books and authors. Even though I constantly have a list of book recommendations from folks I love going into bookstores and seeing what is out and about. A few years ago I came across the book Red Rising by Pierce Brown. I didn’t immediately read it until I stumbled across it again and finally purchased a copy for my nook.

Image result for red rising

Good characters. Good World building. Good Action. Good book. Worth your time.

Patrick Rothfuss

Of course as soon as I started reading it I was hooked and at the time only the first two books were out. The premise behind the story is class warfare and revolution but set between the different planets of our universe. The writing is detailed while still leaving plenty of room for the reader’s imagination to fill in the blanks. The characters are engaging and easy to relate to. Basically I’ve been recommending these books to pretty much everyone I know and have yet to find anyone that disagrees once they’ve read them. Plus I’m excited to learn that not only has it been picked up for a film adaptation, but Brown is going to be releasing a second trilogy for the series.

a dystopian science fiction tale set on a terraformed Mars, actually exceeds its prepublication praise. It will be one of the most immersive and memorable books you’ll read this year.

Paul Goat Allen

 

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Media Monday: Todrick Hall

Featuring Todrick Hall. I’ve followed some of his work on Youtube throughout the years and always been impressed not just by his voice, but the artistry he includes in the videos he creates. It’s interesting to go back through his youtube channel and watch the evolution as he got more time and money to invest in what likely started out as a fun hobby.

One of the first things I can really remember seeing from him was this video Beauty and the Beat. I’m a huge fan of fairy tales and re-writes of the stories in any format and was vastly entertained by this take on the story. I’m sure I was a bit behind the times since I didn’t watch American Idol, but I love some of his other re-mixes of Disney songs and stories.

And here is a very long video compilation of his all new music album which is glorious.

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Weekend Warrior: Mountain Biking

I love the outdoors and adventure. There’s something to be said for simply spending time in nature relaxing, unwinding and re-connecting. Generally I do this by skiing or climbing or camping. However, I am trying to expand my options and have wanted to try mountain biking more and feel more confident while riding from the few times I have gotten out on a trail.

Part of this hesitation comes from inexperience and some of it comes from knowing that my mountain bike is semi old and I would love the excuse to buy more gear. So I had a friend look at my bike before we went for a very short and easy ride in Round Valley, Park City. He came to the conclusion that I needed new brake pads to ensure I don’t die going downhill on this bike and that it would make a great townie bike and he finally understood why I’ve been saying I want a new bike.

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So he’s going to help me find one or find the parts and pieces to put a new bike together and it will be glorious. Because who doesn’t love spending lots of money on new gear?! This also provides the excuse for doing lots of research and learning more about mountain biking and what I might decide I want so it should be a fun learning experience!

I’ve made a list of the things that I would like to have on a new bike and have started looking around. I’m keeping my budget at under $1000 so we’ll see what I can come up with.

  • 27.5 in tires
  • Disc brakes
  • Ok with either hard tail or full suspension, but would prefer full suspension.
  • medium size frame (I’m 5’5″ & 3/4 so somewhere between small and medium)
  • 100mm + travel in the shocks (been looking mostly at bikes with 120mm)
  • Still debating on clipless pedals. I have them on my road bike but I’m not sure how comfortable I am with the idea on the mountain bike. And if I am which pedals/shoes I’ll choose.

What are your suggestions? What are qualities in a bike that you would have on your dream bike?

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Foodie Friday: Tomato & Basil Chicken Spaghetti Squash

Sometimes when I cook I like to follow very exact recipes. Other times I just want certain flavor combinations. The following recipe came about from some mixing and matching of flavors simply because it was what I had in the house at the time. The original version of this I had done with actual pasta and I wanted to try it with spaghetti squash instead so here you go.

Harmon’s has these lovely pre-marinated chicken packets that I love to cook with. One of which is a tomato basil marinade. However I only had one packet of that and wanted to make enough extra that there would be left overs for a few days so I also used a packet of the lemon pepper. With that being the decision on the chickens and knowing I was also using the spaghetti squash and tomatoes I decided to add some lemon pepper seasoning as well as pesto and a chile margarita spice mix from spiceologist that I bought a while back in Seattle.

Overall this is a pretty simple and healthy variation with lots of left overs and baked spaghetti squash and chicken. I had started a diet program a while ago that promoted lean & green meals or paleo style meals and so I’ve tried to stay in the habit of cooking some healthier options like this.

Tomato & Basil Chicken Spaghetti Squash

Ingredients

  • Chicken (I used 4 breasts: 2 tomato basil, 2 lemon pepper)
  • Spaghetti Squash (Used 2 medium squashes)
  • Tomatoes (Used Red and Yellow cherry tomatoes from garden as much as I had)
  • olive oil
  • pesto
  • lemon pepper seasoning
  • Chile Margarita Seasoning

Directions

  • Cut and remove seeds from spaghetti squash. Dribble a little olive oil over squash and sprinkle some of the seasoning on there to personal taste. Flip over on a tray and place in oven set to 375 and bake for 35-40 minutes. Remove and let cool slightly before using a fork to create the “spaghetti” aspect.
  • While spaghetti squash is coking you can prepare the chicken and tomatoes. Cut chicken into cube like sizes and cut tomatoes to whatever size you like (I quartered the cherry tomatoes for an idea on what I’m talking about here). Throw the chicken in a frying pan to cook and add the tomatoes once the chicken is mostly done.
  • Depending on quantity/size of your frying pan you can add the spaghetti squash to the frying pan to mix all the flavors, or you can just combine everything in a baking dish and put it back in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes to bake everything together.
  • Enjoy!

 

 

 

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Thirsty Thursday – Soda Streams

20170823_150532So last Thanksgiving we were at our relatives home out in California and my Aunt had a soda stream installed in her fridge so she could have bubbly water whenever she desired. My mother who loves to add lemon to her water on any normal day decided she absolutely loved this and had to have one. So despite our doubts that it would ever actually get used (as some things often go) we bought her a soda stream for the counter at her house

Much to our surprise and delight she has ended up using the soda stream fairly consistently and sometime in the middle of the summer my sister decided she quite liked it as well. She would keep bottles of the fizzy water in our fridge at home since there was no point in having another soda stream at our house. However I wasn’t quite sold on it yet.

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I recently started delving into the scene of craft cocktails and bar-tending, going so far as to take on online certification class so I could learn more about mixology and the history and makings of all different alcohols. This has required me to sacrifice much of my time to making drinks for myself and friends in order to practice and experiment (Life is so hard). During this process I discovered fizzbloom, a local company that produces a few flavored herbal syrups for adding to drinks both with or without alcohol. They include a recipe card for different ideas for both types of drinks and many of them involve soda water as one of the ingredients.

I hadn’t delved much into making mock-tails even though I have a roommate who doesn’t drink and so I decided this was a great opportunity and decided to try a few different things. . . . And it turned out to be delicious. So much so that we are now the proud owners of our own soda stream and no more stealing bottles from my parents house!

Two of my more recent favorite mixes have been a huckleberry mojito mocktail and a grapefruit elderflower infused drink. Recipes as follows.

Huckleberry Mock-Mojito

  • fresh huckleberries (any fruit can be used. Quantity at your discretion. I recommend approximately 2 tablespoons worth)
  • 4-8 fresh mint leaves
  • 1 tsp sugar (or other sweetener)
  • lime (quarter of fresh lime or 1/2 oz juice)
  • soda water

Muddle the huckleberries, mint, sugar, and lime. Add a small amount of the soda water to loosen mixture and then strain into glass filled with ice. Top with more soda water. Can garnish with more fresh huckleberries/mint sprigs.

Clearly you can easily turn this into an actual mojito by adding an oz of silver rum. Some recipes call for two oz of alcohol with the other being a fruit infused vodka.

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Grapefruit Elderflower Fizz

  • 1 oz. elderflower syrup
  • 2 oz. grapefruit juice
  • soda water

Combine syrup, and grapefruit juice over ice in a large glass. Top with soda, mix and enjoy.

This is a variation of the Elder Gin Fizz cocktail from fizzbloom. I found it quite easy to throw together in the morning and often don’t bother measuring.

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