Travelogue: The Foods of Philly

Alright! Here's the most important part of my East Coast college tour. Naturally, it wasn't visiting the colleges themselves, but rather, the food. Yes. Food was the obvious priority for this trip.

So, right across from one of the dorms on the Penn campus sits a Chipotle--but the Chipotle isn't even the good part. The better than good part is Bobby's Burger Palace, which is owned by Bobby Flay. Yup, he's the grilling dude on the Food Network that my mom always quotes and my dad always rolls his eyes at. Since it was just me and my dad on the trip, he wanted to eat there just so he could tease my mom. Lucky for us, the food was pretty good too!

Here's an order of sweet potato fries with this horseradish mustard sauce. It was really good. Like really good. Better than Simon and Seaford's good--and let me tell you, that's pretty darn good. 

And, of course, a burger. I think this was called the Dallas burger. Provolone, Bobby's signature BBQ sauce, and coleslaw. The coleslaw really made the burger. Quite tasty, indeed.

Next, a Philly cheesesteak. I mean, you can't visit Philadelphia without trying a cheesesteak, right? My dad asked some locals for recommendations and everyone told us Campo's was the place to go, so to Campo's we went. It was a pretty good sandwich. They definitely taste better in Philadelphia than in Alaska. Just saying. 

There was good food to be had in Philly (and in New Haven too... Est, Est, Est Pizzaria!). It was a good thing we were walking everywhere. Otherwise, I might have packed on some extra baggage if you know what I mean. ;O) If you're heading to Philly, check these places out!

This is my last food post for a while. I promise.

Delish: Feta & Pear Salad

In Alaska, summer means 55 degree weather (we skip spring and basically hop straight into summer). Summer also means being able to see the pavement again. And that bears start roaming the streets again. Just kidding. Bears don't really roam the streets... just the woods... with the occasional street sighting. They don't attack though... usually.

Summer also means salads. Of course, we have salads all throughout the year, but having a salad for dinner on a nice sunny night is always most pleasing.

Recently, my mom went to Costco and came back with really nice pears, and feta cheese. Inspired by Ratatouille, I decided to pair them together (no pun intended). Combined with spinach, toasted walnuts, and a nice honey vinaigrette (my mom's concoction), it made a very nice, sweet and springy summertime salad.

 First, I washed all the ingredients that needed washing and cut the pears into bite size pieces. I put all the salady things in a big bowl.

Then, I toasted the walnuts in a small pan with a little bit of butter. Just toast them until it becomes fragrant and the walnuts start turning a rich brown.

Then, combine everything, except the dressing.

Next, make the vinaigrette by combining olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pepper, and honey. I don't have exact measurements. We always just put in what seems right...

Add dressing and toss. Now you have an amazing, summery salad. :O)

Bon appetit!

For the Love of Fro-Yo

There are a lot of things Alaska doesn't have. We don't have a Macy's, or an H&M (sob...), or a Krispy Kreme (the greatest tragedy of all). But, we do have a fro-yo shop. Notice I said "a" fro-yo shop, which indicates there is only one. Yes. It's still sad, but it's true.

This single yogurt shop is located at the Ted Stevens International Airport which is pretty far away from my house. Luckily, we were going to pick up my mom from the airport a week ago, and my sister and I took the opportunity to buy ourselves some fro-yo.

Aww, yeah. Let's just say it was delicious.

Travelogue: Old Town Philadelphia

Just last week, my dad and I took a trip to Philadelphia to visit the University of Pennsylvania (because I've been accepted there). Naturally, we toured the campus and took part in their admitted student festivities, but we also took an afternoon to take a look at some of the historical sights Philly has to offer. In short, we were doing touristy things--but it was fun.

While in Philadelphia my dad and I visited "old town," which is where all the historical houses and such are located. We visited the Liberty Bell, Congress Hall, Independence Hall, and some of Ben Franklin's old haunts.

Here's the Liberty Bell (of course). We stood in line forever to see this and even had to have our bags searched by security... Although, I kind of doubt the likelihood of anyone trying to attack the Liberty Bell Center. Maybe I'm just naive.

This is the outside of Independence Hall. The buildings are all very pretty both inside and out.

Here is where the first official senate was held in the temporary capital of Philadelphia. Most of the furniture is reproduction, but some of the chairs are original, which is pretty vintage if you ask me.

Honestly, it was pretty cool to see all those places. And, yes. I might be getting my history geek on. My U.S. History teacher would be proud.

Picnik and PicMonkey

On April 19, 2012, the internet world suffered a tremendous blow. That's right. Our beloved online photo editing platform, Picnik was eaten alive by Google Plus.

For those of us who don't want Big Brother watching us on Facebook and Google Plus, Picnik has become inaccessible. At first, this made me kind of sad... but then, I discovered PicMonkey!

Even though I use Photoshop Elements quite often, online editors are often a simpler way to complete basic tasks such as resizing or cropping photos, or adjusting color saturation. PicMonkey is super simple and requires no registration (which is very nice). It might even be easier to use than Picnik, which is pretty crazy.

There are also lots of effects, overlays, frames, and fonts to be had--all for free, too. Plus, there are a few cosmetic tools to remove blemishes and such. It's pretty nifty.

Anyway, if you too were lamenting the loss of Picnik, sob no more--PicMonkey is here to save the day!

Happy Monday, everyone!

I'm Back (Kind Of)

Enjoy this random picture of tulips in Old Town Philadelphia.

As you may have noticed, there hasn't been much activity on the blog front for a while now. That's because I've been travelling. This past week I've been checking out the East Coast and a couple of colleges there. After all, the time for deciding is awfully close. By May 1st I have to decide where to spend the next four years of my life.

Scary, right? It's exciting too, but the daunting nature of it has been looming over me since I got my acceptance letters.

Anyway, I've got posts planned charting my travels, some crafty things, and more--it's just I won't be working too much on that until I've made up the work I missed. Contrary to popular belief, seniors still have to keep grades up because colleges might decide they don't want you anymore if you slack off. It's a bummer. Especially because the reason I have late work was to visit the colleges themselves. But, that's life, right?

I decided I better let you wonderful readers know what's up. I didn't abandon my blog. I promise.

Hopefully, I'll be back to blogging within the next week. :O)

See you then!

Tutorial: Tie-Dye Crayons

My family doesn't like throwing away art supplies. Because of that, we had amassed a collection of crayons, the oldest of which probably dated back to my preschool days.

So, we have a fairly large Rubbermaid container chock full of crayons (all Crayola, of course). We don't really use them any more, so they just lay idle in the cupboard; but when an opportunity came up in student government to use them for Teacher Appreciation week, I jumped on the chance to finally use them up.

One of our members had the idea to make these crayons and attach them to cards that say:
"For crayon out loud, you're an awesome teacher!"

And that's exactly what we decided to do... and it was left up to me, my friend, and my sister to make all 80 crayons. We didn't mind though. It's finally warm enough that the snow is receding and we can sit outside and do work in jeans and a t-shirt without getting too cold. If you're curious, we had a high of 56 degrees today. We Alaskans were ready to break out the shorts and slip'n'slide. No joke.

Anyway, here's how to make your own tie-dye crayons.

To make your own you need crayons, muffin tins (we used mini ones), and (if you please) an X-acto knife.

 After gathering supplies came the tedious process of peeling all the wrappers off the crayons (ick). We used an X-acto knife to cut a line vertically down all the wrappers and then just unwrapped them. It made it a lot easier, so I heartily recommend it.

Then we broke the crayons into little pieces and combined them in the little muffin compartments. I would say we filled them two-thirds full...

Then, stick them in the oven at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for around 12 minutes (or just until it looked thoroughly melted).

Once they came out, we used toothpicks to swirl pretty designs into the crayons. This gave a tie-dye effect to the whole thing.

After cooling for 15-20 minutes, we set the tin upside down on top of a towel and used a rubber mallet to force the crayons out.

And then...

 TA-DA! There you have it, tie-dye crayons! A fun way to recycle old crayons so you don't end up hoarding them for 15 years. Not that we did that, of course.

To the Dormatory! DIY Edition

With college decision day coming up, the fact of my moving into a (possibly) prison like dorm is looming over me. Of course, not all dorms are prison like; however, the dorm I stayed in for a youth conference had a medeival dungeon-like quality to it... and that's an understatement. There were literally bars over the windows. So, needless to say, I'm not exactly expecting a five-star living experience as far as the actual room is concerned. That being said, I'm hoping I'll have a roommate who I get along with and isn't crazy. Really, if they fulfill the "not crazy" prerequisite, we can probably get on just fine.

At any rate, I've been looking for ideas for my eventual "new" living space. Here's a list of nifty things that would be fun for any room. More specifically, here is a list of nifty things that you can probably make yourself. :O)

1. A GIANT cork-board calendar! It doesn't even have to be a calendar. Just a giant bulletin board would suffice. Too bad most dorms don't let you hang stuff up.

2. Cute bunting. (I like the book page ones...)

3. This DIY hamper! How nifty is that?
Have you found any great decorating DIYs or tutorials? Leave a link in the comments section and tell us about it!

The Harry Potter Series

So, I'm a little late to the Harry Potter scene (like ten plus years late), but I've finally started reading them. I had to read the first one for a school play, and after reading it, I decided to go ahead and order the rest of the series from Thriftbooks. Well, I actually ordered books 2-6, because I couldn't find books 1 and 7 in the edition I wanted (I'm trying to have them all be Raincoast/Bloomsbury editions... the Canadian ones... if you can find hardcover editions of 1 and 7 for under $20, let me know).

At any rate, I have really been enjoying them, but I don't necessarily see what all the hype was about them earlier. Sure, they are good reads, but they aren't necessarily phenomenal. I suppose that's just my opinion though, and not many would stand by it. That being said, I harbor no doubts that these books will carry on in popularity for many generations down the line.

The reason I hadn't read them earlier was because of concerns about the witchcraft inherent in the series. Really, it was a conflict of morals. However, I read the first book and found it to be nothing more serious than the spell casting displayed in C.S. Lewis' or J.R. Tolkien's works. I guess it all comes back to that old cliche--don't judge a book by its cover. Not that I literally judged by the covers, of course. :O)

I guess what I really mean to say is that you can't pass judgement blindly, without knowing exactly what it is you are looking at.

There it is. Those are my words of wisdom for the week (if you can call words from a high school student wise). And with that, may I wish you a happy work week's end.

Easter Eggs

Happy Easter! Here are some Easter eggs I made (last year). I layered the colors using electrical tape. I know it sounds weird, but electrical tape is the best for this purpose.

 This zig-zag egg was kind of inspired by Charlie Brown's shirt.

This is one of my favorites. I remember this taking me a while to make... Cutting all the tape just so was rather time consuming.

As far as color goes, I love this one. And the pattern isn't shabby either.

And this one is rather union jack-ish, wouldn't you say?

Happy Easter, and God bless!

Chillin With My Peeps S'mores at U Create

My Peep S'mores are featured over at uCreateParties! Head over to check it out here

Have a  fabulous Friday!

Doodles: In Color!

I pulled out the old watercolor paints today to add some color to my doodle book. I haven't used watercolors in a long time, but I really enjoyed it. Maybe I'll haul out the cold press paper and make some nice paintings this weekend--if I have time that is. 

Although there is still snow outside, it is quickly receding (okay, not really that quickly, but it will be gone within three weeks... hopefully). In preparation for summer (in Alaska, we jump straight from winter to summer), I doodled some petite zinnias. The colors didn't turn out very vibrant, but you get the idea.

And, here is a feather. I seem to draw these a lot. Not entirely sure why. I really like the colors though. Especially how they all blend into one another. Although the color palette is comprised of cool colors, I think the feather still has an amount of springiness to it, don't you?

Have a fantastic day tomorrow! Fridays are always the best, are they not?

Guess What...

Today was my first time voting. My third "big" thing as a legal adult. My first was getting my "I'm-not-a-minor" library card, my second was registering to vote, and my third was actually voting.

While I was in line to vote, I heard a someone behind me yammering on and on about how they "wouldn't be surprised if they were the youngest one there" because they "had no faith in their generation." The initial reaction (internal, of course), was "Shut up buddy! I'm younger than you and I'd bet my favorite books on it!" 

My secondary reaction was one of indignation (which, was the same as the first, I suppose). Why should people not have faith in our generation? Why should we not have faith in our own generation? Granted, I go through times when I do lose faith (mainly when I see the minority of my peers acting like idiots), but all in all,  we aren't so bad. 

At any rate, I want to encourage my peers to not lose faith in themselves. Don't become jaded. We can make a difference and we will. I don't know if this is a newsflash, but we aren't little kids anymore, and it's time to start acting like it. Get out there! Vote! Volunteer! Be a leader in your community! Believe it or not, it's not really that hard to do--it just takes a little extra time and effort on your part. 

I don't care if you are right or left wing--just go and fight for the change you want to see. Or better yet, as Gandhi once said, be the change you want to see. Don't wait for people to do it for you, because, frankly, it isn't going to happen. Don't say you'll do it later. Now is the time! 

Ex Libris: Handmade Bookplates

As you all know, I love books. I love books so much that when I get birthday and Christmas money, I don't blow it on shoes or clothes. I blow it on books. And ever since I discovered Thriftbooks, I've been able to buy even more books. I have so many volumes that I've run out of shelf space. The poor tomes are sitting stacked on my floor, waiting to find a home in some obscure shelf or crevice in my bedroom.

Because I love my books, I also like to lend them to my friends, so they can love them too. The problem is that sometimes books don't get returned. Then, they sit in your friend's house for so long, they begin to think it's theirs. This hasn't ever happened, but it's a constant fear.

To alleviate this fear, I sometimes put bookplates in my most loved books. By most loved, I mean books I won't be selling to the second hand book store--books that I know I will have for the rest of my life--like Les Miserables, or The Count of Monte Cristo.

Recently, I pulled out my linoleum carving supplies, and started working a 2"x3" block I bought specifically for the purpose of making bookplates.

I started with a sketch.

Then, transferred it to my block. If I made mistakes, I just used a plain old eraser stick. Any eraser will do.

Then, I carved the excess linoleum away. If you accidentally cut something that should not have been cut, don't panic or swear under your breath. Just try to glue it back with Elmer's Glue and leave it to dry for a couple hours. I accidentally cut off one of the dots on top of the "i", but glue did the trick.

Finally, print them! I used 70 GSM Kozo paper, and deckled the edges myself. I think next time, I might use card stock though.

Hope you enjoyed this. Thanks for stopping by!