Tricks and Tips

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Hiking Adventure

Hey everybody!

     So a couple of days ago, I went hiking with my friends Emily, Melinda, and Alex on a trail that started in Emily's backyard. It was so much fun! I love going on adventures with my friends :) Below are some pictures I took of the mountains and of the trail itself. Honestly, our town is so beautiful. Enjoy!! :)



     This little guy stayed on the flower just until I was done taking a picture of him. He was much prettier (and much nicer) than the other butterflies we came into contact with. Swarms of them would literally attack me and get INTO MY HAIR. Ohhhh I was not too happy about that.

     Aren't these views pretty? We hiked up this kinda steep little path and BAM. We could see literally everything in sight! We could even see the New York City skyline from our little rock. We stayed here to eat lunch for a good 20 minutes before heading back home. It was so beautiful :)

     Emily was sweet enough to give us stuff to make sandwiches! Thank god the bears didn't eat them before I did.

     Kinda cute. I guess.

     See?! NYC!! I'll post my Cabaret adventure tomorrow (btw, it was FANTASTIC).

     Awww. I love them all so much. I honestly don't know what I'd do without these guys :)

     This bee decided to hitch-hike by clinging onto Melinda for a while. How cute :)

     I love adventure! I'm slowly but surely on my way to becoming Margo Roth Spiegelman. :) 
     I don't think I'm going to be able to post much this week. I'm going on another adventure to fencing camp for a week! My legs are going to be so darn sore. I can't wait to make more friends though. More friends means more adventures. And more adventures means a better spent life. I can't wait! :)
Until next time friends!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

My Wonderfully Wacky Experience Planting a Vegetable Garden

Hi everyone!!

     So in the past few days I've been whipping my camera out at any and every opportunity I got in the hopes that I can compile enough photos for a "My Past Month in Pictures" post, or have enough photos to create an entirely unique project of my own. And yesterday, after a few days of pestering, my mother forced me to weed our tremendously overgrown vegetable garden. But like the amateur photographer I am, I grabbed a couple snaps and decided to use them in a post to share my positive and negative experiences about growing my own vegetable garden.

     Honestly, I'm not able to see what all the big fuss is about when it comes to gardening. A lot of people have said to me that it's therapeutic and relaxing, but quite frankly, gardening is one of the most annoying hobbies on the planet. It's pretty darn far from relaxing; you have to watch out for creepy bugs landing on you (or worse, in your hair), you get dirty and sweaty from all of the hard work, and you have to smell that weird smell that belongs exclusively to weeds that look like they're from Jurassic Park.

     But then again, I'm really weird, so I actually like gardening. The bugs are a hard limit for me, but I don't mind the dirt or the sweat, mostly because I just love to be outdoors. Weeding really annoys me, and I avoid doing it at all costs, but I overall I really do enjoy gardening.

     What I like most about gardening is knowing that fact that you and you alone were able to nurture something, watch it grow, and have your hard work paid off for all at the same time. The above tomato and cucumber came directly from my garden yesterday, and I know this may sound kind of cheesy, but I was actually proud to know that I was able to harvest something after growing the plants for so long. The best part of vegetable gardening is the harvest, no doubt about it.

     The above pictures are side views of my garden. Overall, the thing isn't that very big; maybe 12 steps long and 5 steps wide. We actually constructed the plastic barriers long ago, probably five years, in the hopes of planting a big garden one day. It had really never happened until this year, when I pushed mom to our town's local plant store and bought a bunch of herbs, tomato, cucumber, celery, and pepper plants.
     In all honesty, gardening is very self-explanatory. The only real difficulty for me was remembering to water the garden consistently, and get rid of the weeds before they dominated the entire garden (which almost happened a good three times). A couple of tomato plants fell over due to the weight of the tomatoes (yum), but for the most part, the garden itself remained intact throughout the summer despite the fact that I truly was never home to water them. Currently, my family is enjoying what little vegetables are emerging.

       Next year, my mother and I are considering growing the plants from seeds. It would be much cheaper than buying the plants like themselves (like we did this year), and it would give us a chance to finally break open our little greenhouse that's been stuffed in the corner of our garage for a good seven years, just collecting dust. We might be even build a new greenhouse and sell the old one! Next year, we're planning on planting all different kinds of vegetables and herbs, like pumpkins, squash, lavender, kale, rosemary, dill, and so much more. I can't wait to use what we've grown this year in recipes. I personally think the best things in life are handmade- in this case, home grown. I guess I actually do have a green thumb! (Funny story, when people used to say they had a "green thumb" growing up, I literally thought they meant their thumb was green and was going to fall off due to some disease they had. I was a weird kid haha.)

Until next time,

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Homemade Funnel Cake and Frappucinos

Hey everyone!

So because this is one of my only weeks back this summer (for reasons mentioned in my last post), I really wanted to hang out with my friends and go on adventures. I've always wanted to go on adventures with my friends, even more so since I've read Paper Towns by John Green (a book review shall be up soon- and if you haven't read it, read it because it's fabulous). Originally, my friends Leah, Melody, and I were planning on hiking to the Stone Living Room (a really cool archaeological site on top of a mountain near our town), but plans fell through when we lost our one and only ride and both Leah and Mel couldn't come over. So I decided to call up two more of my friends Morgan and Melinda. As it turns out, we did have an adventure... only ours was in the kitchen.

This really weird burst of inspiration came to me after reading Emma and Elise's blog (they both actually inspired me to make my own blog!). They had this outrageous recipe for funnel cakes which we decided to test that actually turned out to be pretty good!! The recipe is below.

Funnel Cake Batter:
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup corn starch
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 cup water
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
oil for frying (do NOT use olive oil- that was my biggest mistake. try vegetable or canola)

Whisk together all dry ingredients. Next stir in water, eggs, and vanilla extract. Mix together until there are NO bubbles and/or bumps in the batter. Pour into a squeeze bottle. We decided to use an icing bag, but overall it was INCREDIBLY messy (we literally had to wash the floor for thirty minutes afterwards- go for the squeeze bottle).

Start to heat up your oil in a heavy duty pot. We decided to use a dutch oven, and it worked surprisingly well. Until we nearly set my house on fire. More on that later. 

We heated our oil up to around 220 degrees. Emma and Elise's recipe called for around 375, but we were too impatient. It still worked incredibly well. Once the oil itself is hot enough, squeeze your batter into the hot oil in circular motions, making sure the batter touches itself so it will stick together. Keep it in the oil until it browns. If the oil is at the correct temperature, it should happen rather quickly. 

Once it's fried, take out the funnel cake and place it on some paper towels to remove the excess oil. Then throw on some powdered sugar and you're good to go!!

We (I) was stupid and decided to use olive oil instead of vegetable or canola oil. Don't try it. It made the overall thing taste a little bit funky. We also thought that we should have added more sugar. It would have made the whole cake taste a little better. But we still enjoyed it. Hence Morgan and Melinda below. 

As good as they were and as fun as they were to make, after we finished frying the oil basically evaporated and smoked up my entire house. It was terrifying. I was legitimately concerned that my house was going to catch on fire-it was that bad. 

We decided to make up for it by making our own Starbucks Frappucinos. We looked up a recipe for a Java Chip Frappucino, and the result was fabulous. It tasted really, really good. 

So of course we took a lot of selfies with it. 

Homemade Java Chip Frappucino Recipe
1 1/2 cup ice
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup Starbucks Coffee (we used the blonde blend)
2-3 tablespoons chocolate chips (we used semi-sweet morsels)

Blend in a blender on the ice crush setting, but blend for NO LONGER than 2 minutes max. I blended our frappucinos for a bit too long, and as a result the chocolate chips and ice separated from the coffee and milk. It was still fantastic though. 

To add even more to our frappucino adventure, we ran up on my roof and drank our drinks and talked. All in all it was an awesome day. I've missed hanging out with my friends. :)

Jesus Christ they scare me sometimes. And here's one last picture of me attempting to be artsy and nearly killing myself in the process. 

Until next time guys!! I can't wait to post more of my last-minute summer adventures. :)


P.S. Morgan says hi