Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Family Adventure - McConnells Mill State Park

Thank goodness spring is here. As soon as the nice weather hit, the thought of the blog left my mind and I tried to fill any time I had sitting in the sun away from a computer.

First! At the beginning of winter we purchased an old pop-up camper. Which will from here on out be referred to as "Popper". We both telecommute and do not take advantage of the option to travel, so this is way for us to have an office on wheels while camping. We have been tent campers for 15 years and going to a trailer is definitely interesting. Now we hillbilly glamp in our old-school Popper.

Adventure 'mobile with homemade truck topper and old school pop-up.

We don't use the water hook-up or gas. We like our camp stove and washing system. We are hoping it will last us a few years then we will gut it all, use the trailer base and make a Vardo to go with our homemade truck topper.

Hilly-billy Glamping

Last moth we took our maiden voyage in the trailer. Short trip for us, McConnells Mill State Park located in Portersville, PA. It is a beautiful state park, great place for hiking, fishing, rock climbing and I'm sure more. We just spent a day hiking around and a little fishing, it was a rainy weekend and the kids were not into any epic adventures.

Lovely spot to fish and admire.

It's worth checking out the Old Mill that was built in 1852. It was one of the first rolling mills in the country. There are also a covered bridge right next to the Mill.

Old -Mill-McConnell-Mill-State-Park
The Old Mill at McConnell Mill State Park.

We came across some beautiful  flowers and views along our hike.

Pitcher Plant!

There are a few campgrounds in the area. We ended choosing Bear Run Campground due to its proximity to the Mill and that we were camping in April which quite a few campgrounds do not open until May. Well, it was okay camping. Typical sardine style RV. The campers obliged by the quiet hours, but due to the rain and the spot we were put it upon reservation, we were in mud. Every other campground had gravel which would have been nice. So we struggled keeping the mud out and bailed early. Oh well! We accomplished what we wanted, practicing setting up the Popper and getting outside.

A fun family weekend complete!
We just returned from First Landing State Park in VA and I will be blogging about that soon.
But first! Part of my job is executing the expo at Dirt Rag Dirt Fest and I am off to make it happen.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Food alergies, No more cane sugar

I've done it!
I've cut cane sugar out of my diet for 30days. That was intense.
After a food allergy test came back with a big NO to cane sugar, soy, rice, cows milk, wheat, bakers yeast and a handful of other common foods, the hubby helped me make the needed changes to my diet. Its been a little more than 30 days now and it has definitely made a difference.

I did find cane sugar supplements; maple candy, stevia chocolate (Lilly's Sweets) and making homemade frozen yogurt pops.

My love for cheese is not an occasional indulgent of goats cheese. Yum!

I don't want the rest of the household to not be able to eat the things I cannot. It is still challenging to watch my kids enjoy a pint of ice cream or the occasional pizza, I generally excuse myself from the room while they indulge. But, while I get ready to head off on a work trip to Monterey, CA they plan on a few "sometimes" foods that Mom can't eat; pizza, sushi, donuts, etc. Now the challenge of traveling for multiple diets and keeping up on my new food outline.

Monday, April 11, 2016

A great Geek Week

Under all my attempts at being outdoors, riding bikes and being a Mom/Wife I have always been (and always will be) a "Geek".  Star Wars, comic books, sci-fi, fantasy movies and books. I love it all and I have passed down some of this love onto my hubby and kids. Go me!

Independent Comic Book Expo (PIX), Tekkoshocon, new Rogue (#Rouge.. that's so funny) One trailer and a new Fantastic Beast and Where to find them trailer. Needless to say the past two weeks have been good.

At PIX I got to meet Grace Ellis, co creator of the Lumberjanes comic book and very nice individual. And, I meet Caitlin Rose Boyle co-creator or Jonesy. It is always great to meet women in an industry where women are under-represented. Both of these ladies, along with quite a few others, are really setting the tone that women in comic books are here to stay. And as I complimented both of them for creating a comic book that I will let my kids read.

Issue 24 of Lumberjanes, variant cover.

Last weekend I took my Japanese language taking, anime and manga loving 13yo to Tekkoshocon, or Tekko. An anime convention in Pittsburgh. We made cosplay outfits and walked in circles for hours, played Japanese influenced video games, she got to hangout with her friends and had her first glance into the local dedication of Japanese culture. And she spent all her money, which seemed to be her one serious goal of the weekend.

We are Pokemon!
As a parent I am so excited that my kids embrace some of the things I enjoy and that they allow me to be part of the things they want to do. Next month is May the 4th be with you and Free Comic Book Day. Next weekend is Steel City Con in Monroeville, but I'm traveling for work and will miss this one.

I'm off to Monterey, CA Wednesday for bike things! More on that later.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

April 30 Days of Biking

The 30days of biking challenge is a pledge to ride for everyday in April. With a co-workers encouragement I decided to join the challenge. 

For those of us who dislike winter and do not ride over the the cold months (like me!), this is a great way to get back on the bike and be in better shape for warmer riding months ahead. Of course here in western PA on May 5, it is flurrying...

Snowy spring bike ride. Love my Chacos boots.

It doesn't matter where you ride, how long, etc. Just go out for a nice little ride everyday this month.

After over a year of on and off foot problems and minimal winter activity I feel better just riding these last few days. My hope is that in 30-days I will feel like a champ and be ready for some long distance riding and mountain biking.

Trying to ride singletrack and struggling.

Follow me on Instagram as I attempt to complete the #30daysofbiking challenge, I hope that it will encourage other folks to get outside and do the same.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The End of Winter Weekends

Winter is almost over. We have hustled through these last few months of winter trying to get as much done around the house as possible. Anything we can do to lessen the spring and summer to-do's. Downside of being a home-owner the upkeep and overall maintenance can be daunting.

The hubby successfully converted Darby's bunk-bed into a loft bed for Odin. And he is super stoked. We topped it off with a tent topper for him, since he;s been sleeping in his sleeing bag for almost month. He is prepping for camping season.

Unused storage bin put to good use, DIY docking station.

We upgraded Darby's room to be a bit more "grown-up" and although Stephen successfully manipulated a bunk-bed I couldn't stop gloating about my impromptu device docking station.

Check out these other hacks for binder clips here.

Looking forward to spring and getting in more outdoor adventures with the kids.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

No Sick days for Parents, tidying adventure continues

There are no allotted sick days when you are a parent. Even if you're ill and your kids are ill, the whole house is on quarantine-lock-down, you still have to march on and get things done. Unless you have an amazing partner who says, "Go to bed, I got this." Or you tag team those responsibilities when you're both sick.

Those partners are the ones to hold onto. Anybody who is not willing to share in these more challenging parental and adult days are not worth the time.
I spent last weekend coming down with something (again). I knuckled down and somehow managed to help the hubby stay on task in tidying his art studio, which is full of needed supplies and random project things. Basically pointing and barking semi-coherent orders at him. It worked! His studio is clean and organized. I hope he can tackle his amazing art with a clearer mind not worrying about the clutter.

We found a home in plain view for the puppets that Hubby & the kids work on.

And I somehow manage to tackle the 13yo's room. Which was a lot of work but met with little resistance. She was ready to make another step towards adulthood and we laughed quite a bit at some of the silly things discovered. Sigh. Cherishing the moment. There were a few times I inherited items because I could tell she didn't want to part with them just yet, but didn't want to display them either. A few more trinkets for my new small and controlled memento box.

We are planning a DIY loft bed out of Darby's bunk-bed for Odin, now that his tidying is done. Read last weeks blog and check out the awesome Lego table we made for his room. And purchasing a new, more grown-up bed for Darby, plus building her some shelves for displaying her trinkets and keeper toys.

Almost done with tidying! Phew. Garage and a little corner in basement left. I have to say it's been pretty fantastic. We donated a lot, moved things in new places and find we are using them more. We ended up rearranging our living room and have spent more time in it as a family than we have in the past 6-months. Yea!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Tidying kids room & DIY custom Lego table

The 8yo and I tackled tidying his bedroom last weekend. Going through clothes is pretty easy, whatever doesn't fit anymore goes to the donation bin. Toys can be an entirely different matter...

I'm fortunate enough that my son is pretty keen to say, meh I don't really play with that anymore, and  I love playing that.  So his room was relatively easy. We started with clothes, then pulled everything out of the buried closet and went from there. Odin insisted we take a break every hour to go outside or play video games, "Because this is a lot of work".

One kids room tidied with the only thing left on his room agenda is building him a loft bed from his sisters hand-me-down bunk bed. Which has been added to the hubby's "honey-do" list.

Right now my son loves Legos. Last year the hubby made him a custom Lego table that I meant to blog about but didn't, So here we go!

Custom Lego table. I was not "allowed" to move anything...

custom-Lego-table-photo reference-top-kids-room
Overhead shot of Lego table.

  • One Flat piece of wood for table top: 2x4 you can adjust this as you see fit. Most hardware stores will cut a specific size for a low fee.
  • One 1x2x4: to mount to wall (or you can purchase 4 table legs and not do a wall mount
  • 2 legs - we went with an inexpensive basic leg, price varies from about $5 each and up 
  • leg attachment hardware - $3 each. You need one for each leg.
  • Screws, tell the guys at the hardware store what you are doing and they can help with length sizes needed.
  • Paint - once you decide what you want on your table, your paints needed will be based off that. The hubby used; grey, black, tan/sand, yellow and white
  • 4-5 Lego Baseplates - there are 3 colors; tan/sand, green/grass, grey/asphalt they cost $8. Odin already had 1 baseplate and one half-baseplate. So we purchased 3 baseplates for Odin's table.
Pretty straight forward;
Lay your baseplates where you'd like to see them go, you can trace them  for reference. Remove them and get your painting done first.
Paint your baselayer colors; grey, sand, etc.  Let that dry.

We wanted to make the table have little roads. Use a long ruler (or some other long object to draw straight lines) to measure out where the road lines need to be. Let it dry, ad any details; manholes, dashed road lines. The hubby is a talented artist, I don't think kids would mind if all the lines were not straight... It's a Lego table, it's going to be amazing!

Painting reference. The green square and tan rectangle piece are glued down.

Like I said we had one half baseplate already, so we cut one of the newly purchased ones in half. As you can see in the photo, there are 3 full size bases and 3 half sizes bases. Glue those down. We used a hot glue gun and they haven't budged.

Once everything is dry, attach the legs, measure and mount the 1x2x4 to the wall. Set table top on mount, screw table to to wall mount. Add Lego's. Have fun.
You can see 1x2x4 mounted in the back.

Leg attachments.

We purchased 3 plastic drawers bins from Target on sale at $10 each. You can see a fourth one in the photos, because we underestimated the quantity of Lego.

Odin loves his Lego table. Occasionally we encourage him to disassemble everything  and start anew. Until we tidied this awesome table was becoming buried. Boo! On to the 13yo room next weekend.