nesting * geeking * critiquing

Posts tagged “pinterest

How I Travel

I was in my early teens when the internet first became a household amenity, so I remember quite a bit about life pre-www. We listened to music using bulky stereo systems that played formats ranging from shiny compact discs to clunky cassette tapes and scratch-prone vinyl. We bought those cds/tapes/records at brick-and-mortar stores or through the mail via rip-off “clubs” like BMG, often purchasing an entire album for a single radio hit. Yes, I’m one of the kids who fell victim to BMG.

Though I had my own computer games, VHS tapes with programs recorded from the television and a few video-gaming platforms (Intellivision, Atari, NES and Sega GameGear) at my disposal, play time most often involved action figures, Barbie dolls, storybooks, stuffed animals, puzzles, crayons/coloring books, my bike and the swing set in the back yard. Tablet-toting tykes just didn’t exist.

My 110 camera used flash cubes, took film that you had to manually advance after each photo and probably cost the same as what you’d pay now for a family of 4 to eat at McDonald’s. What if your subject blinked when you took a picture? Well, that’s just too bad because you didn’t know for sure until after the film was developed, which took at least a couple of days. No instant uploading.

We sent actual cards and letters in the mail. We wrote checks and meticulously balanced our checkbook registers. We did everything then that we do now, just a little more slowly.

Try as I might, though, I simply can’t fathom how people planned vacations back then. My parents had a file drawer full of travel brochures—something of a mystery since we only ventured out of state to visit family—and I assume the telephone must’ve played an integral role. Were that the case today, I would be even more of a curmudgeonly homebody than I am now.

Thanks to modern technology, I am empowered to explore locales unknown with nary a voice call on my phone. Airfare, rental car and hotel rooms are all booked online, and I spend time equivalent to days on end harvesting ideas and reading others’ reviews to decide what we want to see.

My travel-planning “dream team” consists of Pinterest, Google Maps, TripAdvisor, a physical map, some Post-it flags and a Sharpie. See, I’m still a little old-fashioned…I just happen to buy the maps on Amazon or order them from state tourist websites—some states even offer them for free!

When we have an overarching idea of where we’d like to go (Oregon, for example), I fire up Pinterest; inevitably, I discover places that make my heart go pitter-patter. I open separate browser tabs for Google Maps and TripAdvisor. Google Maps helps me narrow down which part of the state I’m exploring, and TripAdvisor gives me an idea of if I want to stay in a particular city or look for a neighboring community instead. I also pull up candidate hotels’ websites and scour the web for coupon codes or special pricing. It’s a lot of legwork, but we rarely end up disappointed.

Google Maps also helps me plan out how much travel time we’ll need between destinations. This is particularly helpful as we tend to cover a lot of ground on our trips.

San Juan Island, WA

{San Juan Island, WA}

Utilizing a tangible map adds an extra step to planning a trip, but I find it worth the effort. After I’ve located sights and sites online, I lay out the map and start flagging destinations; this gives me a much better feel for the terrain and helps me analyze which routes we should take to maximize our experience.
The map also helps when we find ourselves in areas devoid of cell and satellite signals, which happens more often than I would’ve thought. Let me tell you from experience, it can be more than a little unsettling when you’re driving through the middle of a deep, dark forest without any sign of civilization and no technological assistance. I’m considering investing in more comprehensive state atlases at some point for this very reason.

While it all sounds very structured, the reality is that the planning just gives me an overall “ballpark” idea of how things will go—our vacations tend to be rather free-flowing and include a lot of naps. We generally know where we want to go and how to get there, so we fill in the rest along the way.

What are your favorite travel resources?

 


Enough of the Elf!

It’s still very early in the Christmas season, so I’m going to get this off my chest now lest it fester and spoil my holiday cheer.

Enough with the stupid Elf on the Shelf pictures!

In spite of my childfree status, I can certainly appreciate parents’ desire to keep the Santa magic alive for their little ones. There are few things in life so precious as a child’s fervent belief in good old Saint Nick. In fact, I spent some time discussing Mr. Claus with a little fella at work last Wednesday and have a very sweet interaction to recount one of these days. Today is not that day.

Believe it or not, I happen to think the Elf on the Shelf is kinda fun…or at least preferable to some things. You are welcome to enjoy my mad computer graphic skills for a look at what some of those things might be.Better Than

But I digress. The above does not mean that I care even the tiniest bit about what mischief your elf allegedly causes overnight. Because, really, I don’t. Moreover, I fail to see the point in sharing it on Facebook. It’s only December 4 and I’ve already been subjected to dozens of photos depicting the carefully executed escapades. It would be one thing if I was seeing your child’s half-awake, smiling face or giggly reaction. (Though I did see a couple of those last year, and they’re not really as endearing as one might hope.) Is the overarching idea that I’m supposed to be impressed by your creativity ability to emulate ideas you’ve seen on Pinterest?

Speaking of Pinterest, I’d like to suggest that anyone pinning elf ideas put them on a unique board dedicated solely to that endeavor. I’ve had more than a few unwanted elf pins populate my home feed because I followed someone’s “holiday” board, and I’d have to unfollow the other good ideas to get rid of the elf stuff. It’s not fair! Darn these 21st-century first-world problems. sigh

It must be true that a person’s verbal filter deteriorates as they age, because I’m finding it increasingly hard not to make smart-aleck quips on these dumb Facebook posts. I genuinely fear what kind of loose cannon I’ll have become by the time I reach my elderly years.

While other friends give the obligatory, “Oh, cute idea!” or “I bet JacobSophiaAidenEmmaOliviaNoah loved this!” I’m fighting an overwhelming urge to say, “Congratulations, you deliberately made a mess in your house that you now have to clean up.” And I know a thing or two about making messes, because I can’t keep a clean house without kids.

I propose we petition Facebook to create a “Hide all Elf on the Shelf photos” feature. Would there be some other pictures that were inadvertently hidden? Probably, but I’m willing to take my chances.

Let’s rally, troops! Who’s with me????

{UPDATE: I apparently posted about this very same thing last year. My memory must be going even faster than my verbal filter. Scary!}


Goals Update

As you may recall, I’ve been working my way through some goals for the year. Here’s where we stand 4 months into 30. I’ve been making some progress!

30 by Through 30checklist

  • Make at least 20 recipes from Pinterest
  • Successfully ice a cake using homemade fondant
  • Visit a farmer’s market
  • Use my apron patterns to make cute, retro aprons
  • Work down to my goal weight (need to lose about 25 35 pounds)
  • Watch the Lord of the Rings movies (Not gonna lie; they’re not my favorites)
  • Attend a geek convention, preferably as part of a paid work assignment
  • Read all 7 Harry Potter books (barely treading water on book 4)
  • Attend a marathon of the Twilight films before the last one releases (I watched a couple each night at home leading up to it, that counts)
  • Run a 5K (I’ve participated in a 5K now but only ran about half; I’m planning another attempt this fall)
  • Meet a famous person (and please let it be Norman Reedus! Or Henry Cavill!)
  • Go to Disney World
  • Enter a contest (something competitive, not just a prize drawing)
  • Move into a new house
  • Plant a garden (pictures coming soon)
  • Take a flying lesson (my parents bought me one for my 29th birthday)
  • Finish my Star Wars room
  • Grow back my eyebrows completely
  • Hike in a national park
  • Pay off a credit card balance
  • Meet a real-life elephant (close enough to touch it, not just take a picture)
  • Zip line (6.22.13 LOVED it!)
  • Eat at a new restaurant/order something that I wouldn’t ordinarily
  • Volunteer for a charity event
  • Refurbish a piece of furniture
  • Get the Stormtrooper tattoo I really like
  • Make a King’s Cake for next Epiphany (missed it again this year)
  • Take a picture every day for a month and blog it
  • Wear the same article of clothing to work every day for a week
  • Have new family photos taken
  • Play my trumpet in a small ensemble at church
  • Try shooting a gun
  • Blog a day-in-my-life photo tour
  • See more of the Pacific Northwest (I’m thinking Oregon sounds pretty awesome)
  • Make curtains for my kitchen windows
  • Put together a 2,000-piece (or more) puzzle by myself

New Goals

I’m now an official member of the tricenarian club. Since I’ve yet to accomplish many of the goals I had set out in my *30 by 30* I’ll just keep them, swap out the completed items in favor of new ones and hope to finish strong with 30 Through 30.

30 by Through 30checklist

  • Make at least 20 recipes from Pinterest
  • Successfully ice a cake using homemade fondant
  • Visit a farmer’s market
  • Use my apron patterns to make cute, retro aprons
  • Work down to my goal weight (need to lose about 25 35 pounds…I’m going the wrong direction here)
  • Watch the Lord of the Rings movies (I’ve seen The Hobbit, Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers)
  • Attend a geek convention, preferably as part of a work assignment
  • Read all 7 Harry Potter books (barely treading water on book 4)
  • Attend a marathon of the Twilight films before the last one releases (I watched a couple each night at home leading up to it, that counts)
  • Run a 5K (which implies I manage to “run” at all)
  • Meet a famous person
  • Go to Disney World
  • Enter a contest (something competitive, not just a prize drawing)
  • Move into a new house
  • Plant a garden
  • Take a flying lesson (my parents bought me one for my 29th birthday)
  • Finish my Star Wars room
  • Grow back my eyebrows completely (I was really close in November and then went through a stressed-out, destructive time)
  • Hike in a national park
  • Pay off a credit card balance
  • Meet a real-life elephant (close enough to touch it, not just take a picture)
  • Zip line
  • Eat at a new restaurant/order something that I wouldn’t ordinarily
  • Volunteer for a charity event
  • Refurbish a piece of furniture
  • Get the Stormtrooper tattoo I really like
  • Make a King’s Cake for next Epiphany (missed it again this year)
  • Take a picture every day for a month and blog it
  • Wear the same article of clothing to work every day for a week (got a new job, need to settle in a bit before I go there)
  • Have new family photos taken
  • Play my trumpet in a small ensemble at church
  • Try shooting a gun
  • Blog a day-in-my-life photo tour
  • See more of the Pacific Northwest (I’m thinking Oregon sounds pretty awesome)
  • Make curtains for my kitchen windows
  • Put together a 2,000-piece (or more) puzzle by myself

Blame the Tryptophan

I’ve been a bad little blogger. Between stuffing my face and decking my halls (and shopping), upkeep of the Thicket has been back of mind. Regardless, I’m sharing something very special with you today—my very favorite leftover-turkey recipe. You’re probably thinking that those are a dime a dozen this time of year, particularly with my friend Pinterest ruling the interwebs; stop thinking that. This one really is special, because it’s delicious and occupies a sentimental spot in my heart.

Three weeks before my 15th birthday, we were awake at an ungodly hour, packing our car and preparing for the ten-hour drive to Texas. My 94-year-old great-grandmother, facing steadily declining health, awaited our arrival. We knew that in all likelihood, this was to be our last visit before she passed out of this life.

As we made our last check of things around the house, the phone rang. When calls come in that early in the morning, you know not to expect a telemarketer…or anything other than bad news. Great Mamaw couldn’t hold out for us any longer; she had gone ahead.

The rushing to leave the house came to an abrupt halt as we began our grieving. It was a cold January morning.

Some hours later, we were in Texas, which was somewhat warmer; I remember nothing of the drive there or the couple of days that followed. Aside from visiting the floral shop, memories of the visitation and funeral evade me. Tidbits of the after-service dinner, however, stuck with me. Enter the turkey/potato chip casserole.

I spent the better part of the next dozen years thinking of that dish (from time to time, anyway, not exactly obsessing over it). One day my mom and I finally broke down and combed through every church and charity cookbook we could get our hands on. The trick was searching for a chicken recipe instead of turkey—though I don’t imagine chicken could possibly taste as good. I make it every year now, and I strongly suggest you do the same. It’s comforting and yummy and not your average tetrazzini-type casserole.

Hot Turkey Salad Casserole (aka the recipe that a random stranger made for post-funeral supper)

3 c. cooked turkey (Thanksgiving scraps work well)
1 1/2 c. diced celery
1/2 c. chopped almonds (or almond slivers)
1 T. minced onion
1 1/2 T. lemon juice
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 c. mayonnaise
1 1/2 c. grated cheddar
1 1/2 c. crushed potato chips

Combine turkey, celery, almonds, onion, lemon juice & pepper. Add mayo and toss. Sprinkle with cheese and top with chips. Bake in pre-heated 375-degree oven for 25 minutes.

Enjoy!