Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Autumnal Things


I'm here again for another mismatch of random photos that have nothing to do with each other, except for they were all taken either in September or the first week of October. This is Buffy, the cat we adopted in May who is a total gem. She's endlessly affectionate, clumsy, and never ever mean or grumpy.


This is Joey. She is prone to being a drama queen. But she's still sweet and I think literally anything she does is cute.


One day I was looking at my nightstand (which Paul actually made for me out of a palette) and I noticed the beautiful and strange assortment of things I keep by my bed.


This was an awesome day. Falling Sky, a wonderful local brewery and restaurant hosted the world's shortest bike race. They advertised on Facebook for weeks with slogans like "13.1 feet of hell," "two pedals to victory, "and "someone will win without even trying." I think over 100 people showed up and they did it in heats of five people. It literally took like 20 minutes, everyone was laughing and in a great mood, and afterwards everyone went inside and bought a beer. If that was the secret marketing scheme behind all of this, good job Falling Sky because it worked. The race course was literally 13.1 feet long. They gave away free t-shirts. Paul and I convinced our best friend Muhammad to come and he was really skeptical and kept asking questions like "what's the catch" and "why is this happening." He was convinced it was going to be straight up hill or that people would throw things at you. Nope. That's him on the right finishing second place in the leg of the race where you were supposed to go as slow as possible. So he was the second most slow.


My little sister just moved to Eugene to start college and she's so grown up and I'm so proud of her and we went to the farmer's market and, among other things, bought pumpkins.


I wanted to make a blog post about how orange is my favorite color. My bike is orange, my Keds are orange, my new messenger bag I bought myself because I have tons of hours at work this term is orange. Our bedspread is orange. My yoga mat is orange. My KitchenAid is orange. Probably other things too. So I wanted to take a few pictures with my bike and my bag and my Keds, and on the way to take the pictures, Paul sneakily took this candid shot of me walking ahead, but I ended up liking it most out of all the pictures. 

On the right is a very strange succulent. A few months ago, Buffy chewed it in half. So we kept the half with roots in its pot and we put the top half in a pot of its own.  It used to be just one stalk with leaves. But since it was bitten in half, all of these branches keep popping out of the main stalk and now it's this beautiful little tree thing.


I have lots of reasons to smile right now. I'm working the most I've ever been working. It's actually a little overwhelming. But I'll actually be able to start saving money because I'll be making more than just rent. I kind of feel like an adult. I still have another transcribing job on the side. And I just found out recently that I've been chosen as the artist to do the biological illustrations for a bone manual being produced by a very important biological anthropologist. 

This is a crazy cool opportunity that I stumbled into. I'm just a twenty-two year old who studied comparative literature, Spanish, and poetry, graduated, started volunteering in an osteology lab because I fell back in love with science, and drew some bones for my own benefit during a research project I was doing. People in the lab saw the drawings, liked them, paid me to put them on their conference posters, and a very important lady happened to see them and like them. I'm not a professional illustrator, but with an opportunity like this, it could kind of happen for me. So I've spent the last few weeks drawing at my kitchen table, either listening to the oldies or watching American Horror Story, with monkey bones scattered everywhere. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Valley of the Rogue State Park


Fair warning, this is about to be the longest post ever...


Paul and I really wanted a vacation this summer. We spent two weekends at the beach in June, but that was for a class, and we spent a long weekend in Portland in August, but we were attending a wedding. This trip was just for us. We chose to go camping in a yurt at the Valley of the Rogue State Park in southern Oregon for three nights. Camping in a yurt is pretty luxurious. In addition to furniture, we also had heat and electricity!





We arrived on Sunday evening, unpacked, explored the campgrounds a little, and took a quick dip in the river, which was refreshing after a two hour drive with no air conditioning. 



Our second day we went white water rafting on the Rogue River! I didn't get any pictures of the trip, but we went with a guide for seven miles, and hit class 1, 2, and 3 rapids. It was a total blast and surprisingly physically exhausting, so when we got back to camp around four, we took naps, made dinner, and went to bed.


We also had a great view of the harvest moon which was especially orange because of all the wildfires in the area.


Our last full day was amazing. We drove about an hour and a half out to the Oregon Caves National Monument, which is a two million year old marble cave. You can take a 90 minute guided tour, and we ended up being the only two people on our tour, so we got to chat with the ranger a lot and hear a bunch of cool stories. The cave is a series of narrow passages that kind of end in these little pockets or rooms, before narrowing into a hallway again. My favorite story had to do with this room here, the Banana Grove, where the only death has ever occurred in the caves. 

So the story goes, in the 30's, pretty much only rich people could afford to explore the caves, and one such young, wealthy couple was Frank and Victorina (awesome name). Considering the camp ground by the caves was full of rich people, there were rumors that the caves were full of bandits hoping to steal from them. Frank was having none of this, so he took his gun, along with his lantern, with him in the caves. He got to the Banana Grove, tried to climb the walls, and fell because the walls are extremely wet and slimy. As he fell, his lantern shattered, and he accidentally discharged his gun. The bullet ricocheted off the walls four times. Victorina had one match, which she lit to see the bullet lodged in Frank's right eye. He died in Victorina's arms, and after a few hours, in complete darkness, following a string that lead her back to the entrance, she made her way through the cave and back to the campground covered in his blood. 

Apparently, people see Frank's ghost all the time. Guests and rangers report seeing him, seeing light from the lantern, and hearing footsteps and voices. They don't tell this story when children are on the tour, but one time in the Banana Grove, a five year old girl asked the ranger who the man was, and when the ranger asked what man, she said, the man with the lantern who's been following us for the last two rooms. Spooky! 

Also every morning, one of the rangers has to go through the whole cave system alone, making sure the lights work and whatnot. About two months ago, one of the rangers was just past the Banana Grove when he heard something, turned around, saw a man with reflective red eyes. Being a jolly older guy, the ranger waved and said something like, "Hello there sir!" but the man moved out of sight, and the ranger said something to the extent of, "Well have a nice day then!" The ranger did the rest of his rounds really quickly, got back up to the lodge, freaked out, and they actually closed the caves to the public that day to search for the man, but they couldn't find a trace of anybody. Because it was Frank!


On the left was my favorite part of the caves, a room called Paradise Lost. You had to climb up a two story ladder to get there and it's this tiny room (so the ranger let us go up by ourselves) with these crazy structures 360 degrees around all swirling up to a point that's so dark you can't even see. It's both the point of highest elevation in the caves as well as the furthest into the mountain. It was breathtaking. It reminded me for some reason really strongly of the catacombs in France, and apparently another visitor said the same thing just last week, so it's not just me.

On the right is a wall that had been signed by Thomas Condon, a famous geologist, in 1856 (although signing walls in a two million year old cave would be super frowned upon now). The University of Oregon even has a building named after Condon, a building I actually spend a lot of time in, so it was really funny to see his mark in the caves. They've tried to clean the markings, but it's actually part of the stone now. When water drips on the rock, it calcifies, so in the last 150 years, a thin layer of rock has grown over the writing, so Condon's not going anywhere.

  
   After hiking through the caves, you're popped out pretty much at the top of the mountain. Then you can either take the 15 minute hike down one side, or the 30 minute hike on to the peak and then down the other side. We went to the top obviously. 





The moral of the story is, watch out for ghosts, and Oregon is the most beautiful place in the whole world.



After getting back to camp, we made dinner. Both nights we had tofurkey hot dogs, baked beans, and corn on the cob. Classic camping food. Paul made this makeshift s'more with an onion cracker, a piece of crystallized ginger chocolate, and a toasted banana slice. He said it was interesting. I did not partake.


We woke up this morning, and started our drive home, but not before we stopped in Azalea, Oregon for a big breakfast. We saw this place on our drive down, and knew we had to stop on our way back up.


  Here we attempted to eat the world's largest cinnamon roll. We did not succeed. We took it back home with us where it will serve as breakfast for the next week. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Things I Like


I thought I'd do something a little bit different on the blog today. I'm starting with an awkward self-timer picture of me hiking and then a picture of Fall Creek where Paul and I went to swim this weekend, but then it's on to some product pictures. A little known fact about me, despite being a tomboy who wears very little makeup except for lipstick, is that I'm an avid reader of beauty blogs. I myself am a very frugal person who is pretty minimal with the material things I own. Every piece of clothing I have fits into one dresser. If something in my life isn't getting use, isn't necessary, or doesn't thrill me completely, it gets booted. But this means I love the things I do have a lot. 


I think the reason I like beauty blogs so much, as opposed to fashion blogs, is because of product pictures. I love when people do "what's in my bag" type posts where they lay out the contents of their purse/makeup bag/briefcase/medicine cabinet/whatever and display it nicely. Maybe I'm just nosy and like to see the products people use, but I'm also kind of obsessed with packaging. The reason I like brewing beer so much (besides the beer, duh) is that I get to design the labels. Also, because I'm minimal with my own products, it's fun to live vicariously through people whose job is to review tons and tons of products. So today, despite not being a beauty blogger and having a crappy point and shoot camera, I took pictures of some of my favorite things and am going to tell you about them.

    
I'm starting with alcohol, not beauty products, but these bottles are beautiful. Firstly I'm just obsessed with the tequila, which Paul and I admittedly bought yesterday solely because of the packaging. It's in a cute, fat bottle, which makes it look fancy. In real life the orange font is highlighter-neon which is fun. I love the juxtaposition of the folk art illustrations and the clean, modern font, and beyond the juxtaposition, I just really really really love Mexican folk art. 

The moonshine is made in the distillery nearest to Eugene, in Monroe, Oregon. For Valentine's Day this past year I actually wanted to take Paul on a tour of the distillery and then buy him this moonshine, but it was closed on Valentine's Day, so I just bought this moonshine for him at the liquor store instead. When I design beer labels, I always try and have the text be a part of the picture, and not just as a header on top of the picture, and this label does that perfectly. The label that almost makes me sad because I wish I had drawn it myself.


Next up are some of the knick knacks I keep on my dresser. I've got my beautiful little skull I bought in Mexico. I got it from a store in the main square called "Esto es Mexico." Apparently the story is that a lady in Sayulita was so sick of seeing tourists buy fake knick knacks from the tourist traps, she started making souvenirs herself, and opened up a store called "This is Mexico." I also have these funny cat nesting dolls which were actually Paul's before we moved in together.  

Okay now on to some beauty things. Here are two of my three perfumes; I also have a Marc Jacobs one, which smells delicious, but has obnoxious packaging. These two just look like they belong together on a shelf. I love the scientific illustration vibe they both have. They're both musky and have patchouli and amber as their main ingredients, but Midnight Fleur is more feminine and Excess is pretty unisex.    


Next up is my whole skincare routine! Since I started using these natural products, my skin has cleared up and hasn't had any issues. On the left are my three most important products for clear skin. In the jar, I have coconut oil, which I use to remove makeup and just break down any grime on my face. Then I wash that all off with Dr. Bronner's castile soap. This is the lavender scent, but I've used rose, peppermint, orange, and almond before and they're all awesome. Then I use my homemade moisturizer in the dropper, which is a mixture of grapeseed oil, tamanu oil, and lemongrass essential oil. This moisturizer is magic, and if you want to make some, this website has all the instructions as well as tons of suggestions for different oils to use depending on your skin type. 

On the right are the rest of my skincare products. I have witch hazel toner, and I am loyal to this brand, because I've used other brands (which weren't natural brands) and they reacted horribly with my skin, but this stuff is alcohol free and very gentle. I have tea tree oil which I use on any forming pimples and it just kills them immediately. I have cream deodorant in a pot which smells like margaritas and is made in Portland. Then finally I have an eye cream which is made in Oregon by a five-employee company that does everything from growing the herbs to packaging the products themselves. The "about us" section of their website is really cute. I don't use eye cream for wrinkles, but I used to wake up every morning with really dry skin around my eyes, and after using this every night for the last three weeks, I don't anymore.  


Finally I have three really great, locally made lip balms. Putting on a nice lip balm is one the most satisfying things in the world. The Wild Carrot Herbals one is tinted, the Singing Dog Vanilla one (the same vanilla brand Red Wagon uses in Not-So-Plain-Jane Vanilla) is flavored with coconut and reminds me, in a good way, of a piña colada Lip Smackers I had when I was a kid, and finally the Portland Bee Balm one has peppermint essential oil, which is refreshing, and has a more solid formula than the other two.

Lastly I just have to include this tragically blurry picture of my friend Sam and I. We're holding a painting I did of her and her dog, Sprinkles. The guy taking the picture is an old, creepy guy, who owns a shop next door, and even though the picture he took was blurry, I didn't want to ask him to do it again, so this is the picture I ended up with. But you can see how happy we are, so that's good. 

Well I'm not sure if I'm ever going to do a post like this again, mostly because I've already gone through all my favorite things already. This was my one sad attempt at being a beauty blogger, so I'll just let this post end here. Thanks for reading. I'll be back to pictures of food, cats, and adventures soon enough.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Pambiche


Paul and I just had the craziest four days. We left for Portland on Thursday for his stepsister's wedding on Friday. We hung out with family all Saturday and went to brunch on Sunday and then drove back to Eugene without air conditioning in over 90 degree heat. At one point there were seven of us staying in a two bedroom condo. One night Paul and I split a bottle of champagne and hung out in a giant rock soaking tub. I jumped on a trampoline and got a sunburn. Great weekend. 


Paul and I finished the weekend by going to brunch at a place called Pambiche with his dad, Nan (his grandma from Texas), his brother Ian, and Ian's fiancée Nina. Pambiche is a Cuban restaurant on the east side of Portland and I had the most incredible meal. If I had to choose one type of food to eat for the rest of my life, it would be what I had there. Pambiche was also really beautiful and colorful and had an amazing mural. I came home feeling very inspired to cook more interesting food and travel more. My goal this week is to get more weather appropriate clothing so I can stop wearing 3/4 length sleeved, past my knees dresses when it's over 90 degrees. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Super Farmy


When I showed Paul the photos I picked out for this blog post, he described them as "super farmy" which is exactly right. There are so many farms in Eugene. Outside the city limits, it turns to farmland pretty quickly, which is awesome if you want to go u-picking someplace that's only 15 minutes away. These pictures are from Adkins Blueberry Farm, where we went on the 4th of July. It was kind of too hot outside, the blueberries weren't quite ripe, and I almost fainted, but now we have frozen blueberries for our yogurt every morning, so it was worth it!


Today we went to Detering Orchards which is where we went this past October to pick apples and where I met some cows.  


Today we were going for u-pick peaches and pickling cucumbers, but we also got some stuff pre-picked at their cute market stand. We ended up making peach salsa when we got home. We canned 12 jars!


When Paul was picking peaches, I got a little distracted by some insects. I stopped to take a few pictures, and by the time I found Paul again, he had a whole bucket full of peaches. They were very ripe. If you want peaches, get out there right now!


It ended up being a great day. On Wednesday I had two procedures done at the hospital, and I'd been feeling crappy the rest of the week. Today boosted my spirits. I think inexpensive fruit you picked yourself and baby goats will do that to you.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Biological Illustrations


I just thought I would quickly share what Paul and I produced during our two weekends of biological illustration class. We worked Saturdays and Sundays 8-5, with an hour for lunch at noon. Other than that we were drawing until we couldn't draw anymore. Each day we completed one final project on hard illustration board, ready to be framed. I apologize in advance for how crappy my little point and shoot camera is at taking detail shots of flat drawings. 



The first day, we worked on smooth shading. Mine is on the top and is a dolphin sacrum and Paul's is on the bottom and is a seal atlas.



The next day we did line drawings with pen and ink. Mine is a vertebrae and Paul's is the same seal atlas from a different angle. 



The next day we did fish. We each got our own fish, caught the day before, and they reeked, especially when Paul and I came in the lab at 11 pm (after a bonfire on the beach that we didn't want to miss out on) to finish these drawings. These drawings were done completely to scale. We even measured and counted every single ray on the fins and tried to get an accurate number of scales. This day was exhausting. Again, mine's on top, Paul's is on the bottom.


Then the last day we used scratch board, which is a board with a light clay coating. What we made black with ink, we could then go back with an x-acto knife and scratch away to get white again, which is how I drew this piece. We had to choose three things to draw, and I chose a leaf with berries, a barnacle, and a little tiny hummingbird. While I never want to sit for nine hours up close and personal with a fish again, I had a fantastic time, and I'm really proud of what Paul and I made. 


Monday, June 23, 2014

The Longest Post Pretty Much Ever


This post is going to be long, random, and picture heavy, so get ready. These are some things that have been going on in the last month! This first picture is of Sweet Cheeks Winery. My friends Olivia, Nina, and I went just before Memorial Day. It was beautiful. And you get to taste three of their most popular wines for free, which was nice because I'm not a wine person, and I got to try things without any risk of it being a waste of money. See, I'm very frugal which is the nice way of saying cheap, and to me, even $3 on a flight of wines I didn't like would be a waste, so I appreciated the free wine, and the view. 


On Memorial Day, we adopted another cat! Joey is on the right posing with some dragon fruit, and our new cat is the big fluffy brown one on the left and her name is Buffy. First of all, it's a great cat name. Secondly, Paul and I spent all month finishing the last three seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so I had Buffy on the brain. Having two cats is awesome. We got Buffy from a shelter and they think she's about four. She was found in an industrial part of town, full of highways and concrete, and she was covered in mattes that the shelter had to shave off, so now she has funny bald patches all over her belly. She's has the loudest purr, big paws, and is very clumsy.  After a few days of hissing, our cats have come to love, or at least tolerate each other. Joey is obsessed with her and follows her everywhere. Buffy even licked Joey's face when Joey was sleeping. I'm just going to stop here or else I'll write twelve more paragraphs about all the cute things they've done. 


Paul, our friend Nina, and I all went strawberry picking at eight in the morning on the very blustery first day of June. We came back with about 17 pounds of strawberries. They filled up eight 64 ounce Nancy's yogurt containers, which we have a lot of because I go through plain yogurt like it's going out of style (I like it with a spoonful of peanut butter and a handful of homemade granola). The first thing we made with our plethora of berries was strawberry ice cream. Words can't do this ice cream justice. It has six ingredients: strawberries, condensed milk, heavy cream, a little sugar, salt, and vinegar. The salt and vinegar ended up making it taste extremely nostalgic. I don't know how to describe it. I've never had plain strawberry ice cream this good or this fresh, and I've never had strawberry ice cream from an old fashioned diner, but it tasted exactly the way I imagined fresh strawberry ice cream from a diner is supposed to taste. 


In addition to wineries, cats, and strawberries, in the last month Paul graduated from college! It was kind of an intense weekend, but we survived! Even though we're now both graduated, the most recent thing we did was take a college class together. On the southern Oregon coast, there is an outpost of UO called OIMB, the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology. We are taking a Biological Illustration class there. It's two weekends, and we just got back from the first one. We stayed in the dorms there, which are adorable. They feed you three homemade meals a day, at 7, 12, and 5:30, and they ring a big bell to let the whole campus know it's food time. I never went to overnight camp as a kid, but in my head, this is exactly what camp is like. We spent all weekend, from eight in the morning until the dinner bell doing biological illustrations, and then spent our free time at the beach, playing cornhole and watching the sunset. It was amazing and I can't wait to go back next weekend.





I figured I'd include some of the drawings I worked on over the weekend. All of the stuff I'm really proud of I already turned in, but these are some of the preparatory sketches. The top two sketches were done during our beach breaks we had once a day where we just walked to the beach and had 45 minutes to fill up a page. The bottom two are of vertebrae using two different shading techniques that we were working on. The final piece I did of the vertebrae was with pen and ink, which was very permanent and scary to do. The instructor, John Megahan (Google his work) was just awesome, and with a class of nine people, we got tons of individual attention. I feel like I improved so drastically in those sixteen hours of class. If you made it this far, congratulations, you just finished my longest post pretty much ever.