First year with our chickens

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We’re celebrating our first year anniversary with our chickens! It’s been such a successful and fun adventure. We’ve done a ton of research, made a few mistakes but hundreds of eggs later it’s been an overall success! Here’s some highlights of our life with our 4 chickens!

When we first got them they lived in a tub in our living room. They had food, shelter, a heat lamp and each other for company. We would hear their little chirps while we watched “Game of Thrones” and that was when they met Calliope and became friends.

The chickens lived in the tub for a few weeks until it was obvious they out grew it. One evening we were eating dinner and all 4 of them kept flying out and getting loose around the living room. It was time for them to move out the next day!

We bought a chicken coop online and assembled it in the backyard. The above photos are the chicks first time in the backyard. The head chick was always on the lookout for danger. She’s the one with her head straight up in all of the photos.

We painted the coop and placed it in a fenced in area so the chicks could have some space during the day. Our backyard wasn’t fully fenced at the time so we needed a place for them to run free during the day.

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Our first egg

Finally toward the end of summer they gave us our first egg!

Today our chickens are an integral part of our life. We get up early to open their home and feed them. We let them loose while we work in the yard. They even follow us around in the yard all day. I talk with them while I weed (chirp, chur, burr, chirp!) and Brian chases them with his guitar when they get loose in the front yard. Haha! They were also featured in my alter ego self portrait project for school last semester.

Each night we tuck them in and close up their home and thank them for the eggs they gave us. I couldn’t imagine living without these little ladies. They are such a fun part of our family and I highly recommend owning a few!

How 9 Days in a National Monument Changed My Life

In 2012 I spent 9 days backpacking in breathtaking southern Utah. It was one of the most transformative experiences I’ve ever had. I grew up camping and playing in nature so the outdoors has always had a special place in my heart and mind but when I lived 9 full days and nights with nothing but sky above me and 1.7 million acres of sand and rocks below me I realized what was truly important in life. This realization came while surrounded by one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. It was Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and it is one of the many monuments being reviewed by our current administration.


During this trip I faced some of the toughest physical and mental challenges I’ve ever faced. I climbed a sand dune the size of a mountain for hours and hours, knowing that forward was the only option. I slept soundly in a forest littered with furry grey spiders despite massive arachnophobia. I lived without the luxury of music, television, electricity, vehicles and running water. At no time during this journey did I think to myself I don’t want to be here, I could be doing something more interesting, or I want more. This perspective was because I felt the value of perseverance, appreciation and surprisingly silence.


While climbing in and out of deep canyons and hiking across miles of rolling deserts (filled with adorable bunny tracks!) I took joy in getting quiet with myself. I didn’t perceive boredom as an uncomfortable state. Loneliness and longing weren’t emotions that I put effort toward because I knew I already had all that I needed. I had sturdy clothes for any type of weather, an abundance of food in my pack and of course, my 11 or so fellow backpackers that were knowledgeable and helpful. And yes, we all had first aid kits!

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Through the quiet moments under that giant sky filled with more stars than I’ve ever seen (even in Northern California), I was able to recognize that I don’t need more than that. The rest is luxury.

My camera battery even depleted on day 4 and I didn’t care. I was actually excited for the opportunity to be even more present and keep only my memories and my journal entries for those last days. Come to think of it, my memory after day 4 is so much more vivid than when I knew I could simply take a picture of a moment and preserve it forever.


We learned about the Anasazi tribes that lived on the land for hundreds of years and we did 25 river crossings in one day. One morning my boots were frozen and the only way to thaw them was to pour water on them and hike in wet boots. And I didn’t care. I didn’t care because the magnificence of the canyons and mountains around me put things in perspective. They were a constant reminder that my old daily needs and wants were petty and unnecessary. I didn’t care that my boots were wet because I was appreciative of the fact that I had boots to wear.


Backpacking in this National Monument was such an edifying experience for me. It changed my relationship with myself and in turn lead me to make a lot of positive outward changes in my life. The vast deserts atop the deep red canyons and the powerful Escalante River remind me of how important contrast and diversity is in life. The desert complements the raging river within the canyon below and that system houses a flourishing ecosystem. If you remove just one part the system might not be able to sustain itself.

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Right now Grand Staircase-Escalante is one of the National Monument under review by our current administration.  If you have ever had one quiet moment with nature or 9 days full of quiet moments in nature I urge you to take action on this issue. What you can do:


1. Educate yourself.
2. Talk about it! Speak up and let others know about this issue. Word of mouth is powerful just like the Escalante River.
3. Donate to NPCA
4. Tell Zinke to protect our National Monuments.
5. Plan a vacation or an outing to a National Park or Monument!!

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White wine tasting

We’ve decided on our food menu for our wedding and now it’s time to get the bar menu! Brian’s mom, Bonnie, and sister, Erika, came up to visit over the weekend so we had a white wine taste test.

I’m all about being eco-friendly and making an affordable choice so boxed wines were an easy decision for our June 2018 event. Read on for the taste test results!

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The Wines

The Participants

 

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Bota Box Chardonnay

Bota Box Chardonnay

Bonnie: 1/5
Jean: 0/5
Steve: No
Erika: Okay. Too light for a Chardonnay 2/5
Shelley: Light and fruity 4/5
Brian: 3/5

 

 

 

02 final

Black Box Chardonnay

Black Box Chardonnay

Bonnie: 5/5
Jean: 5/5
Steve: Good
Erika: Crisp & light. Easy to drink 4/5
Shelley: 3/5
Brian: 4/5

 

 

 

03 final

Trader Joe’s Sauvignon Blanc

Trader Joe’s Sauvignon Blanc

Bonnie: 4/5
Jean: 3/5
Steve: No
Erika: Yummy! 5/5
Shelley: Pretty good. 4/5
Brian: 4/5

 

 

 

04 final

Bota Box Pinot Grigio

4 Bota Box Pinot Grigio

Bonnie: 4/5
Jean: 4/5
Steve: Favorite
Erika: Easy to drink 3/5
Shelley: Light & refreshing! 5/5
Brian: 5/5

 

 

And our winner is…

The Bota Box Pinot Grigio!

So excited to serve this at our wedding next summer! Try it out and let me know what you think!

Strawberry Cream Cocktail

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It’s finally Spring but it seems like Winter will never end. It’s sunny but still so chilly here in Paradise. Until it warms up I’m staying cozy inside with this light and springy cocktail.

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Strawberry Cream Cocktail 
Ingredients – Makes 2
2 oz Whipped Cream Vodka (Vanilla Vodka will work too!)
2 oz Strawberry liqueur (I used Sweet Revenge)
8 oz of sparkling berry water or soda (I used berry La Croix)
Mix, serve and enjoy!

 

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Double Exposure Photography

In the fall I took a series of double exposure self portraits.
These were images of the trees in our backyard and the trees outside of my work layered with studio self portraits.
I have always loved taking self portraits and this project was a way to make that art more interesting and meaningful. I had so much fun working on these images! Enjoy!

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Chai White Russian

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Here’s a great cocktail to celebrate the last few weeks of winter. This Chai White Russian gives a spicy twist to a classic cocktail. I used a carton of Oregon Chai, but feel free to brew your own! Let me know how you like it! Enjoy!


Chai White Russian

Ingredients – Makes 2

4 oz Vodka
2 oz Kahlúa
2 oz Almond milk (or heavy cream)
2 oz Chai Tea

Shake and serve!

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We’re Engaged! Cheers!

 

Hooray!
We’re engaged!

Took some time away from creating posts but Calliope & I are back! AND we’ve created a new logo and header! Woo!
Also, Brian & I got engaged so be on the lookout for updates and maybe some wedding planning posts! But first, let’s celebrate with a cocktail!

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Fresh Pomegranate Cosmopolitan
Ingredients – Makes 2

4 oz Pomegranate vodka
2 oz pomegranate juice
Dash of lemon juice
Garnish with pomegranate seeds

Serve and ENJOY!

First Year in our Home

This week we’re celebrating one year in our home!
We’re pretty proud of the home that we’ve created so I’m sharing some photos from our first year here.

 

Spring
In the Spring we did our first big repair and hosted our first family holiday

Summer
The summer was spent in our pool mostly! We also built our chicken coop and worked on the backyard.

Fall
The Fall was filled with school and work but we still found great ways to enjoy our home.

Winter
Here’s a few photos from our first Christmas here.

Here’s to the next year in our home! Cheers!