Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Airplane Bento II

A year later, the airplane bento post remains my top hit. So when we went on vacation this summer, I knew I had to outdo myself. We had a 5 1/2 hour flight in the afternoon, so I "brought it" by increasing the size of the tupperwear container. I wanted to feature my favorite snacks and airplane purchases while adding some novel items in. It also helped that Target had a snack station where I could purchase smaller versions of tasty treats.

In this bento we have:

- 2 fun packs of peanut M&Ms
- Pretzel Crisps
- Pepperoni Stick
- Chocolate Chip Chewy Bar
- Individual Hummus
- Babel Cheese wheel

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Backwoods Spaghetti

As we gear up for our summer trip, I've been practicing trail cooking at home. That way, we can try out the recipes before we're miles away from a kitchen. I try to do a full practice with the stove we have to make sure the recipe will work with our limited gear. Today I made spaghetti!

I LOVED this meal! It was easy and delicious! For the noodles, I broke them in half to fit in a snack ziplock. For the sauce, I went with a tomato paste base. 

Tomato Sauce:
- 2 tablespoon of tomato paste
Buy a can and divide the paste into an ice tray.  Freeze it and have paste for a long time. I would then use one cube for this recipe
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 vegetable bouillon cube
- pinch of red pepper flakes

As with any recipe, play with your seasoning and seasoning amounts to fit your taste. I wanted a simple recipe so I did all "1" measurements. 

Our cooking tools are really simple when we're on the trail. From left to right we have our stove with snowpeak pot, an xmug to eat it in, noodles in the ziploc bag, sauce in the tupperware, and the lid/sauce pan.  I grabbed all of the tools and ingredients and proceed to my front porch to cook. I like to worry the neighbors. 

Fill the pot with water and bring to a boil. Then drop in your noodles, lower your pot to a simmer (if you can, otherwise just take the pot off the flame for a bit), and throw a lid on it. Remember, noodles like a lot of water to move around in.

My cat was suspicious of the gas stove sounds...

Be sure to stir and check on your noodles on occasion. My lid kept coming off so I had to leave uncovered towards the end.

Drain what you can without losing the noodles and keep 1 cup of extra pasta water in the your mug. That way, you can add in water as you need to your sauce. Drop in the whole set of sauce seasonings and stir. Add water as needed to reach your desired consistency.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Why every cosplay should have a professional photograph

You've labored and spent hours on creating your costume. It's like your own masterpiece when it's done! I recognize the amount of effort it takes to make those outfits, props and accessories that go into it so reward yourself with a professional photography session.

A professional photographer is going to be able to capture you in the moment of being your character, not you stressing to run back into the shot after hitting the timer. Not to mention, they're a professional! The skill these guys have with a camera is going to make you look even better.

Allow me to demonstrate my point. Here is a picture of me taken by my sister at Anime Weekend Atlanta in my first cosplay, Shura from Blue Exorcist with another cosplayer.

It's not perfect or the best Shura cosplay. Heck, I know I'm not built the same way as she is. The photo is good, but that's about it.

Now here's the same costume, same girl, but with a professional.

Quite a difference! If you're going to take the time to make a costume, spend the extra bucks to take photos to preserve your work. It's a great memento to look back on as you make your next costume!

* Professional photography taken by Pixlette Photography.

Monday, June 3, 2013

First Aid Kits: Day Hiking Version

You never think you need a first aid kit, until you REALLY need it. We leave it out because we think we can't get hurt or we don't have the room for it. I love a good kit list, but you've got to take the time to custom it to your situation. This week, I'll cover my day hiking version and I'll tackle my anime convention version next week.

Day Hiking First-Aid Custom Kit

When you shop first-aid at a gear/sports/outdoor store like REI, you'll find a lot of things you may not need. You do not need this kit for a 4 hour hike, but there is a lot of practicality in something smaller. We can all imagine a situation where you could use the gear, but you need to balance your likely hood of use with your space and weight limits.

That said, I do keep a full first-aid kit in my car with all of mediciations. We don't plan to be out for more than a half-day so having the gear in the car but not in my bag is nice compromise in case an emergency did occur.

So here are my important items that live with me on the trail, starting from the top left:
- Large bandaid
- Duct Tap
- Safety Pins
- Can and Bottle Opener, with spoon
- Moleskin
- Sterile Pad
- Bandaids
- Travel Scissors
- Fire starter
- Paracord bracelet
- First Aid Tape (not pictured)

On a dayhike, I'm probably not going to run into much more than blisters, busted gear, or a small cut. Shows like Survivorman remind us that simple trips can go wrong, so you should always be prepared. If I was venturing on a new trail or bushwhacking, I would take more. I insist you take more! But for the city hiker who probably will always been within eyesight or earshot of another person, there's no need to go overboard. Remember, I have a full first aid kit in my car to supplement the dayhiking version. 

Day Hiking - Full First Aid Kit

If I'm going out a bit further or trying out a new trail, I'll take my full kit. The big additions are some medications, extra bandaids and extra tools. 

Longer trails or new trails warrant extra supplies in case I can't get back to the car very fast. This all came from a small first aid kit I got on one of the discount gear sites, like, that I added some of my own items to (safety pins, fire starter, compass). I actually reduced the number of bandaids and medication packs to help fit everything in the bag and keep the extras on hand for restocking. 

What items would you add or subtract to my dayhiking first aid kit?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Summer Hiking - Water Filtration with the MSR Sweetwater

Down in Georgia, summer is creeping up on us.  That means hot and humid days that can turn easy day-hikes into a challenge if you don't prep properly. The most important prep item is enough water.

The one piece of equipment that drastically changed how I hike was a water filtration system. Before, my husband and I would fill our camelbacks to brim and pack an extra bottle or two in our backpacks (i.e. extra weight). Multiple day hikes were not an option and even some day-hikes would have to be adjusted depending on the temperatures outside.  It was a real limiting factor.

I went with the MSR Sweetwater Purifier for the right balance of ease, weight and cost. It's not the lightest system and tablets would certainly be cheaper, but I wanted something a step above entry level that wouldn't break the bank. What sold me on it was this video of the equipment in action:

After a year of use, I still love it. As long as we know we are crossing a river (which we will seek out on summer hikes), we can carry less water in our packs. No ice needed either thanks to cold river water. I was able to score this on ebay for about $70.

We still keep extra waters in the car for our return though! What water filtration systems have worked well for you?

** Don't forget! National Trails Day is June 1, 2013. Find a trail or event near you at American Hiking Society. **

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

After the Con: Improving for the Next Time

I am no cosplay expert. I've only done this twice! But I have done a few events in my time and, in a way, prepping for con is like a mini-event to me.

So like any trip or activity I do, I write pre-event and post-event notes. I feel a little silly when I'm doing it, but I always turn back to them and thank myself. Between anime conventions you may forget that you are low on hairspray or that a buckle came undone. Don't struggle to remember - write it down!

Record Your Supplies Before the Event
Lists should be your best friend in all aspects of your life. I list all the supplies I need to pull for each con and costume. No detail is too small. Write down every brush, piece of make-up, and back-up item. I actually put it all in a box a few days prior, but the list helps to gather my thoughts. Then, you can look back at your list after the event to note if you ran low on a supply or maybe you didn't even need it.

Google Docs Is Your Friend
Taking the lists a step further, I share my musings in Google Docs with my con friends to cross-check supplies. That way, you don't have 5 bottles of hairspray but forget the eyeshadow. The Google Doc is also easy to find the next time around so you don't have to recreate your lists each time. The magic of the internet means the list is always with you as well; no losing a piece of paper.

If you want to take your list planning a step further, include the food and hotel room supplies in that google doc. That way, you never leave your Moogle Hat at home by mistake.

Improve As You Go
You know you'll have some downtime at con, so write down your costume comfort level then. It's easiest to remember what works when you're still wearing it! Yes, you've done test runs, but never for six hours and now you're noticing that your skirt is slipping after two hours of wear. Make those notes for minor (or big) improvements along the way to avoid the issue next time.
You can even list those items in your google doc from your smart phone. Genius!

Read Your Notes
The most important step in this process is reading your notes. None of this matters if you don't use it, so be sure to follow up with yourself. I've had many "ah-ha" moments when reading my post-con notes. Now you look professional, prepared, and ahead of the game each year by simply writing a note.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Trip Planning: National Parks

Our last two summer vacations were Yosemite and Yellowstone. They were both an incredible adventure. Not every girl can say she goes on the hike of a lifetime every year! This is year three of national park planning and I have learned some great tips for hikers planning a trip to popular national parks.

Book Early, Research Earlier
I suggest you start to plan six to nine months in advance, preferably a year if you have a large group or family. There is a high demand and limited availability for many activities and hotels at parks, so they book up fast.  True story - I called to get dinner reservations on a weekend at Yellowstone three months in advance. All they had was one spot at 9:00 p.m. I took it and adjusted our hike to start late the next day.
We typically book everything six to seven months in advance and it's still a scramble to get our vacation dates. My favorite resources for planning are friends, Moon travel books, Trip Advisor, and the national parks websites.

Lottos and Permits - Learn Them Early
To balance the high demand of areas and maintaining the natural resources, many hikes and campsites have permit limits or lottos in place. As you start to set your schedule, be sure to look out for the permits required and when you can get them. I'll set all of my calendar reminders early on so I don't forget to apply. 

Don't give up on permits either! We won Half Dome permits but saw it was going to rain the day of our hike (they typically don't allow you to ascend the cables in the rain) so we started to apply for daily permits. On day three, we got lucky again. I've read stories of other people meeting up with people at the trailheads to be a part of their group. Keep on applying and keep on trying. 

Ask Your Friends...and Strangers
Books and websites help, but your friends are even better. Ask your friends, your coworkers, and your starbucks barista if they have ever been to the park. My favorite questions to ask are:
What was your favorite part?
What was the most overrated thing you did?
What was the coolest thing you did that you didn't know about until you got there?
If you had one more day, what would you have done?

Without asking those questions, we would have overlooked spending time at the Grand Tetons. An intern's parents at my job enlightened us to spend at least two days there. We're glad we did!

A friend of ours told us that Beartooth Highway was worth the time for the scenic views and winding roads. We would have dismissed spending a day on the road by just reading guidebooks. Our friends were right.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Tina Tiny Cosplay: Another Compartment in the Blog

As my interests expand, so does this blog! I have not given up on hiking or bentos, I just keep adding more! I also find that I am a better writer when it's warm outside and it was certainly nice out today.

So today I am expanding the blog to include some of my cosplay, specifically Tina Tiny of Borderlands. I premiered the costume at Momo Con last week. This was my first time attending this con and I had a blast! If you live within a few hours of Atlanta, I highly suggest attending this growing anime convention.

Tiny Tina is certainly my favorite character from Borderlands 2. I knew I wanted to cosplay as her as soon as I saw her. I have limited sewing skills so this was a great first sewing project for me since it's okay to not have straight lines - it's the post-apocalypse world.

The costume took about 2 months as a weeknight side project. My sister and mom have incredible crafting skills and were able to teach me tricks along the way. The Tiny Tina cosplay would not have happened without them so thank you! On to the pictures.

Yay Tiny Tina cosplay!

Tiny Tina is ready to go! I made sure the front pouch would be functional so I could keep my cards and a few make-up supplies with me. Since I was solo at this con, I would not have another person to hold my stuff.

Another view on the make-up. Most of the supplies I got on e.l.f. super cheap. Even better, it is great quality. 

I even found other Borderlands characters! Handsome Jack and a psycho ran into me at the start of the day.