Sunday, April 28, 2019


Things that I wish I could tell my 20-year old self about home-owning and gardening:

1. The people that have perfect yards which you admire are RETIRED. Seriously, it takes 40 hours a week to make a perfect yard, they can't have another job.  You won't have one until you are retired

2.  You will weed the cracks in your sidewalk.  My 20 year old self would have never imagined spending Sunday afternoon weeding the cracks in my sidewalk.

3. Plants are expensive!  Do you want a beautiful yard? Its going to cost 10s of thousands of dollars.  Who would have ever imagined.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Homemade yogurt

Ever since I discovered how easy it is to make my own yogurt (and the taste of homemade :)), I can't buy store plain yogurt anymore.  Most of the store yogurts are way too tangy for me (Chobani - yuck).

1 gallon WHOLE milk
1 cup plain or vanilla yogurt - I like to use icelanic yogurt/siggi's/ or noosa (honey or vanilla)

Boil the milk.  Immediately turn off and allow to cool to body temperature (it shouldn't feel much warmer than your wrist).  Heat oven for 3 minutes (just to get it warm).  Whisk yogurt into cooled milk.  Turn off oven (if the oven is hot, leave the door open for a few minutes to cool to a warm temperature).  Place yogurt/milk in oven overnight (about 10 hours usually works well).  Make sure you leave the oven light on. Skim the  skin off the top of the yogurt in the morning.

I like my yogurt thick, so I drain it by taking a colander and placing it in the sink. I line the colander with paper towels. Pour the yogurt into the colander and allow to drain to desired thickness. I usually drain it for about 3 hours. 

Friday, April 12, 2019

Knockoff Starbucks Passion Fruit Tea

A little story: One time I went to Starbucks and tried their passion fruit tea.  I fell in love with it but could not afford $5 daily for tea.  I came home and made up my own recipe.  The end.

Here is my favorite tea recipe:

4 Tazo Passion fruit tea bags (cannot substitute)
1-2 Tbsp sugar (I don't measure, just pour some in the bottom of a jar)
1/2 cup frozen raspberries
1 quart apple juice (unsweetened)

Place tea bags and the sugar in a quart jar, pour boiling water over the top.  Allow to brew until deep red (~10 minutes or more).  Add brewed tea, juice and raspberries to a pitcher.  Enjoy over ice.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Cashew cream!

Its official, I like cashew cream better than cheese. It's my new addiction. I eat it with gluten free rice crackers. My favorite recipe is:

2 cups raw cashews - soaked for 2 hours or, alternatively, microwaved for 4 minutes
3/4 cup  nutritional yeast
1/2 of a red pepper
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp mesquite seasoning (or 1/2 tsp cayenne and 1 tsp smoked paprika)
1/2 tsp smoke flavoring
1/4 - 1/2 tsp salt (to taste)
1/2-1 tsp maple syrup

Blend in a food processor. Enjoy! It's crazy good

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Jobby Job

On June 5th, I started working as a cartographer for a geological survey.  While I never thought of geology as a career or even had a ton of interest in it in school, I now realize that the purpose of a geological survey is to make maps.  Since I love making maps, this is the perfect job for me.  Everyone who works there has talked about how much they love it, and two weeks in, I couldn't agree more.  For the past two weeks, I have made maps, and truthfully, I think that is all I will do for the extent of my employment there.  So, I guess map-making dreams do come true!  :_)

Thursday, March 9, 2017


To celebrate finishing graduate school, we took a vacation to Vieques, Puerto Rico.  To get to Vieques, we had to travel for over 18 hours from Utah.  We started our journey in SLC at 12:40 am, arrived in Atlanta at 6 am, and after a 2 hour layover, we arrived in San Juan at 1 pm.  We then took an hour taxi ride with a really nice man named Peter to the ferry dock in Fajardo.  Peter was so nice that he even stopped at Verde BBQ and let us eat (best food on the island!).  For only $20, we ate the most glorious chicken that fell off the bone, tostones, mofongo, plantains, and rice and beans.  I know it sounds like a lot of starch, but the islanders don't seem to eat many vegetables.
Once we arrived at the Ferry, we found out the next ferry wasn't coming for 2 hours.  Well the 2 hour wait turned into 4 hours because the large ferry broke and we had to take a smaller ferry.  With little to no guidance from the rude and unhelpful ferry people, we found out that we weren't allowed to sit in seats for 4 hours (reserved for residents of the island), rather we could sit on the concrete ground in between some barricades for 4 hours and reserve our spot in line.  If we didn't make the next ferry, we were going to have to wait for 6 hours, so we sat on that concrete in line for 4 hours.  Luckily enough, they boarded us after a 4 hour wait, with no communication for the ferry workers (they like to keep you in the dark about what is going on).  The ferry ride ending up being horrendous.  Torrential downpours, ferry going sideways to the point that people and my children thought it was going to tip over (75 degree angle at least). Everybody on the boat ended up in this tiny cabin where we found out there weren't enough life jackets for all of us (eek).  A lady from NJ passed out from sea sickness while standing and I had to grab her and push her into a seat.  She threw up every 5 minutes for the next hour (poor lady).  My son cried on my shoulder.   After this horrific experience, one of the locals insisted we ride with him to our rental.  The guy was sketchy, but everything turned out to be fine.  His name was Estaban and he got us to our rental safely for $15 (which is pretty much the same as a taxi, but my husband wanted to ride with him).
Once we got to our rental, it was late (8:30 pm), so we quickly left our bags and went to the Malecon for something to eat.  We ate phenomenal food and couldn't wait to go to bed so we could wake up and see the Caribbean sea (none of us had seen it before).

When we woke up and walked down to the sea, it was the most beautiful thing we had ever seen!  Esperenza is the cutest little town with all the restaurants right on the sea, and great snorkeling under the pier.  We spent the day walking around and snorkeling.  We also visited Coco Beach (shown below) because it was within walking distance from the rental. 

Coco beach also was very beautiful.  We found a green coconut here and drank the juice before my youngest decided he was going to throw the coconut into the forest.  

On day 2 of our trip (after visiting Coco in the morning), we got a car rental and spent the next few days bumming around the island.  We snorkeled all over and visited some of the most beautiful beaches I could even imagine.  
We saw a sea turtle, octopus, puffer fish, and tons of tropical fish at Punta Arenas (shown below).  The Punta is where a sand drift has formed because the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean meet here.  The coral reefs are absolutely beautiful and so easy to snorkel -- the water is not deep, is very warm, and there are no waves. 

At Mosquito Pier, we swam in ~60 feet deep water in between schools of tiger striped fish.  We also saw a sea turtle at the pier.  There were signs on the pier telling fisherman what to do if they caught a sea turtle.  The sea turtles we saw were green sea turtles which are endangered.  How neat!

Our favorite beach, by far, was La Chivas on the wildlife refuge.  It was so picturesque!  Drake stepped on a sea urchin while snorkeling the caya off of the beach though.  He still (5 days later) has black sea urchin spines in his foot.  Luckily, they don't bother him and the body will eventually absorb them.

The caya (shown in the picture above) is accessible by swimming about 1000 feet across the sea.  Luckily, there is a sandbar underneath, but the water is still deeper than you can stand in at places.  We are very lucky that our son swam back from the caya after stepping on the urchin.  We probably should have a blow up life vest in case we ever need to pull either of them back from a dangerous situation.  We were stupid about safety measures on this trip (the pier was way too deep for a 12 year old with no way to save him if he went into distress).  On our next trip, we will be safer, we are lucky nothing happened.  

Our other favorite beach was Navio. This beach had waves the boys could jump and boogie board with the board they found on the beach. 

We are so lucky to have been able to take this vacation! I can't believe how warm the water is... I love Vieques so much and wish it was little easier to get to from Utah.

Friday, January 13, 2017


Recently, my brother was at my house and we were having a conversation about the 'deep web.'  I first heard about the deep web on a Portlandia skit where Fred, Carrie, and the Mayor arrange to buy fireworks on the deep web.  My brother is a computer guy and we were talking about whether it is an actual thing (it is).  Well this conversation must have resonated with me because I had the craziest dream last night

I dreamed that I was perusing the deep web.  My brother, knowing that I was on the deep web, asked me to do him a favor. He had a pet snail and he wanted to buy some lingerie for the his snail.  The lingerie he requested was something you could buy at Kohl's - just some purple silk pajamas (like the ones below).

It wasn't that the pajamas were clandestine or anything, my brother was just embarrassed that he was buying pajamas for his pet snail.  Seriously how do snails wear clothing anyway? My brother didn't want anyone to know he ordered the snail pajamas. So being the nice sister I am, I went on the deep web and searched for some purple silk pajamas for snails.  This is where the dream got really vivid and funny.  In my dream, I was shocked at some of the pictures of snails in purple pajamas. I can't find anything to show what I saw in the dream, except snails became cartoon characters wearing pajamas - and weirdest of all snails had legs, and were tall.

Anyway, I searched what it means to have snails in your dreams.  According to this website  , it means that I am peaceful right now.  I may be peaceful because I am dreaming about snails, but what does a snail in pajamas mean?

Friday, January 6, 2017

Boring charts and free work

Today, I am getting ready for  a meeting with a new post doc.  A new post doc (Natalie) is joining the lab that I worked in, both as a cartographer and as a research assistant, for the past 3.5 years.  She is taking over my Chapter 2 thesis research (which I never ended up completing).  Although, I am not getting paid by the lab anymore, my advisor (who still needs to sign off on my thesis) wants me to debrief her on my project.  Since I never got very far on the project, it is a bit difficult.  However, I can show her some boring graphs and such.  Such as this one below:

What does that graph even mean!  Seriously -- I bet in 3 months I won't be able to tell anybody what it means either and I feel bad for Natalie having to look at it.  However,  she needs to see that the NREI changes depending on the depth within the water column.  I am also going to make a map that illustrates the same concept for her.  I am sure the map will make more sense, but just in case she is a graph person, I am going to show her this really boring graph (and poorly made at that) too.

Besides getting ready for an unpaid meeting, I have spent the last couple of days applying for jobs.  Two days ago, out of the blue, I got a phone call from a potential employer.  He is putting together a proposal for a contract and interviewed me right over the phone.  He also called me back and negotiated a salary with me.  If he gets the job, I might get the job too.  This job is for a contract cartographer with the federal government. I think it would be a good job, and would allow me to use both my GIS and design skills, plus still keep me creative. I am particularly happy that the job is more design based, and less GIS.  I will work a GIS job because I am very good at it, however, it would not be my first choice.

That's all for now.  I know this is kind of an abrupt ending, but I really just am using this blog to document my daily thoughts, so no ending here....

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

My dog

Scrappy (otherwise known as Sir Pappington the 3rd)

Scrappy is a maltese-yorkie-poodle-?.  A friend of my husband's family was trying to sell the puppies as the designer-type Morkie for $800.  My husband, who has a lot more courage than me, wanted to get me a puppy, but wasn't willing to spend that kind of money on a dog.  He called the person and told her that he would pay $50 for a puppy.  She kindly declined and many weeks went by.  We had totally forgotten about a puppy.

After about 2 or 3 weeks, the lady had gotten rid of all of the puppies, except for the last one (Scrappy), which she thought she was keeping for herself. Well, she must of gotten tired of cleaning up after puppies because the night before my 35th birthday, she called my husband and sold him the puppy for $50!  My husband came home from work on a normal friday night, but it wasn't normal at all.  He was holding Scrappy!  A 3 lb. little tiny  bundle - he was so small, he looked like a baby squirrel. 

We tossed around quite a few names for him: Flea, Biggie Smalls, Copper (Kevin's mom has his sister and she is named Penny), but ultimately, we decided he was a scrappy little thing.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Graduate school blues

Not that I ever had any followers, but just in case someone reads this....

I am going to start blogging again. I have taken a 5 year hiatus. This blog is not meant to rehash that time, however, at some point I may share some things I did in the last 5 years....

So I just defended a Master's of Ecology degree last friday.  My project was focused on Bonneville cutthroat trout habitat - which I think sounds extremely boring, but it wasn't.

The ONE and ONLY Bonneville cutthroat trout! (made by using image trace in illustrator)

The bonneville cutthroat holds special place in my heart.  I spent 50+ hours underwater, snorkeling, and spending time with these magnificent fish.  I have so many fond memories of the fish allowing me to spend time with them in their habitat.  It turns out, fish are not scared of humans when you are below water with them.  Rather, they are very curious of humans.  I had quite a few fish approach me and try to get a better look.  At times, it was a bit creepy when one of the larger fish (20" +) approached me and wanted to get a better look!  So, the best thing (besides the awesome fish) was that, my project was fully funded - meaning I didn't pay a dollar for tuition and I was reimbursed a stipend each month.  In that time, I was also given the opportunity to become a skilled cartographer which I have fully embraced.

As for my thoughts on graduate school -- Unless you are young (and not 37 like me), it is simply not worth it.  I have lots of GIS/analytical/creative skills, but I haven't even received a single call back from potential employers.  I don't know if my resume is not telling the whole story, but I feel if the employers met me, we would hit it off! Also the process of getting a masters degree is no fun.  The process involves tracking down advisors who have no time, making them read your work, getting unconstructive feedback.... I don't really have anything pleasant to say about graduate school, especially as a women.  Tons of times, I felt like I was in an abusive relationship, where I just wanted my advisor to notice my work and my work ethic for one tiny moment.   I don't mean for this to sound like  graduate school isn't worth it for everyone.  However, I think the whole process is meant for 20 year olds -- when you are nearing 40 and have a family, it's just not worth it.  So in a nutshell, if I could, I would not go to graduate school.  I would pursue a career much sooner. 

Here is a pretty river I made while attending graduate school

And here is a bug (also made with image trace)