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Sexy McGregor

4 Oct

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The inspiration for this concoction came, oddly enough, from one of Rebecca’s students, who informed her that in Scotland banana boats are filled with Bailey’s Irish Cream instead of the typical chocolate and marshmallows.

We thought this was a swell idea and gave it a try. Unfortunately this resulted in a smokey mess, and let me tell you, the odor of burned Irish Cream is as tragic as it is acrid. Fortunately for everyone, we didn’t give up and instead tried heating the ingredients together in a double boiler. Somewhere in the process we decided to add chocolate and dump the concoction over ice cream and the results were, well…

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It was like a night of romance in a highland castle with a tall, dark, kilted, stranger who is quite possibly named something like “Duncan Fionnlagh McGregor.*” Our friend Margaret dubbed it the “Sexy McGregor” and by that name it shall forever be known.

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Sexy McGregor
Two bananas, chopped
1/2 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream
1/4 cup chocolate chips and/or chocolate sauce (optional)
Ice cream (Also optional. We won’t judge if we catch you eating it with a spoon if you promise to return the favor.)

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Combine bananas, Bailey’s, and chocolate in a double boiler. Stir until the concoction gets bubbly and your knees go weak with desire. Dump over ice cream immediately. (Or if you have the patience and chastity of a nun, chill and serve later.)

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The version of this with melted chocolate chips doesn’t look as pretty, but it’s good enough to give you a case of the vapors.

~Robin

My #HeForShe Moment

25 Sep

Even though I absolutely love my job, I try not to talk about it much on this blog. I’m going to break that self imposed rule for a moment because something happened a few weeks ago that was so positive and inspiring that I wanted to share it. I put it off for awhile because I couldn’t find the right words. Then this week my Facebook feed exploded with posts about Emma Watson’s speech to the U.N.

I knew I had to sit down at the computer and wring the words out somehow, because what I was trying to say so closely echoed her purpose.

It happened at a staff training, and the topic was how to deal with difficult clients. We shared difficult situations we had experienced with clients and gave each other feed back. As you may have guessed already, we are a touchy-feely let’s-talk-about-our-feelings and hug-it-out kind of group.

While the training didn’t provided a thunderstruck revelation, I walked away from it with new ideas. Then, as the session ended and we transitioned into other topics, Steve, one of the men I work with, raised his hand. I can’t quote his exact words but what he said was essentially this:

“I just want to recognize, especially for the other guys here, that many of the women who work in this organization have had their authority questioned or diminished by clients because they are women. It’s not something that I know how to fix, but it’s something we should be aware of and try to think of ways to work together and be allies for them.”

I was floored. Here’s why.

First of all, even as a woman and fairly well informed feminist, gender was the last thing on my mind. It was clear that the most upsetting situations I had been in were when clients questioned my judgement, ignored me, or dismissed several years worth of experience. These were the events that stuck with me, that still made me feel lousy months later. At the time I even noticed that some of these clients interacted differently with my male colleagues. Yet when we discussed how to work with these clients, my focus became what I should have done differently, and not that I was treated differently.

More importantly, I was floored because even though I hang out with a touchy-feely crowd that values diversity, I had never heard a man that I actually know speak up for women like this. It’s not that my male friends or co-workers don’t say positive things about women, but it was the first time I’ve heard one of them speak up to acknowledge gender inequality.

Steve seemed nervous to broach this topic, uncertain and careful of the words he chose. And while I can’t speak for them, I don’t think it sounded like he was accusing the men I work of having it easy. He didn’t use that horrible, loaded, gut wrenching word “privilege.” Yet he acknowledged that inequality exists, and that some of the solutions offered in our training wouldn’t be effective if screwy gender dynamics were working against you.

Then he encouraged us to challenge that. He didn’t say that the women needed to just work harder to get along with difficult clients, or that the men we work with should step in and fix it for them. He invited everyone to fight this problem together.

His handful of carefully chosen words couldn’t go back in time and change the actions of these clients, but they did make me feel better. And they open up the possibility that in the future I (and my co-workers) would be more understanding when we see someone struggling with sexist clients.

And, damnit, being touchy-feely doesn’t mean that we aren’t smart. Even if we don’t find a magical solution that fixes the problem, I feel better knowing that our brilliant collective mind is working on it.

So, why did I feel the need to share this?

In part because I hate the word “privilege,” and the confrontational ways it is often addressed. I think it’s important thing to be aware of, but I want to see how we talk about it change because, frankly, phrases like “unpack your privilege,” make me want to run away screaming. I really admire how Steve managed to acknowledge privilege in a gentle way. Rather than shutting people down, his comments created further discussion and they also made me reflect on my own privilege.

I also wanted to share because I have felt crushing frustration after seeing the ugly backlash against women and feminists. The positive words of a single individual might be a small victory in the long run, but they are worth celebrating.

Finally, I hope that others will be encouraged to speak up in similar situations. This is exactly what the U.N. HeForShe campaign is advocating. It was a powerful thing, to hear someone else speak up for me. It’s not that I needed Steve’s words to validate my own experiences, but it is a personal relief to know that the people I work with (of all genders) are aware of this imbalance of power.

I went to Steve later, to tell him how much his comments meant to me. Steve works with children in Vietnam suffering from Agent Orange exposure, and he told me that his perspective was greatly changed by the experience of realizing that he had something in common with someone with fewer opportunities.

So speak up, even if you are nervous or fumble your words. Even if you are laughed at or not taken seriously. Someone will hear you, and I can now say from experience that even if it doesn’t change someone’s mind, it will mean the world to those that you are defending.

To get involved with the HeforShe campaign check out their homepage, or the UN Women page. There is also an awesome blog post about privilege that I think everyone should read.

~Robin

DIY Community Prayer Flags

20 Sep

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Tibetan prayer flags are a popular household staple in my mountain loving community. I suspect the tradition trickled in with the mountaineering enthusiasts who climb in Tibet and Nepal. I love prayer flags, but I feel a bit weird about hanging them in my house because I’m not Buddhist. For a long time I have wanted to make set of flags that represents the people I live with, and I finally got the chance a few weeks ago.

Materials
-White or light colored fabric:. I used about 3/4 of a yard of muslin I had leftover from another project to make about 40 4″x4″ flags.
-Thread
-Sewing machine or needles

-Pentel Fabric Fun Pastel Dye Sticks:
-String: I used 15 feet of parachute chord for about 40 small flags, but you can use whatever material you want.
-Rotary cutter and mat, or scissors
Iron, ironing board, and scrap paper: for setting the dye

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Making the flags. Cut the flags to the dimensions you prefer, plus an inch of seam allowance on one side: I made our flags 4 inches by 4 inches, so I cut the fabric into 4 inch by 5 inch rectangles. This size was the smallest size I could make them and still have enough room to decorate with the dye sticks. Fold over the seam allowance and sew to make a tube at the top. This is where you will thread your string.

Decorate the flags.

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I laid the flags out during a gathering and asked folks to decorate them with their hopes and dreams for the future.

I was quite happy with the Pentel Pastel Dye Sticks that we used, but there are a ton of other options. You could experiment with one of the zillion fabric paint products out there, sharpies, no wax batik, screen printing, or block printing. I loved seeing my friends’ creations.

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The dye sticks need to be ironed to set the dye. It only took about fifteen minutes and a few pieces of scrap paper to get all of them done.

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String your flags

I brought along a big tapestry needle to help with the threading process but I didn’t even need it. The parachute cord threaded through the flags easily.

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Hang your flags

Take a million photographs because you love them so much.

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It was wonderful to throw a simple prompt at my friends and see the beautiful flags they created. I love all of them.

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I also had the rare and thrilling experience of spending less time on a project than I thought I would. I was expecting the project to take at least three hours, but cutting out the flags, sewing them, and laying out all of the stuff took about two hours. The finishing process after they were decorated took only a half hour. I can’t even remember the last time this happened!

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I totally want to do this again.

~Robin

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Seascape Painting Party!

15 Sep

My friends Lauren and Glikin of Raw Roots Farm are expecting a baby soon. When they asked me if I would help them paint an ocean scene in the baby’s room I said “Absolutely Yes!!! But…I have one condition.”

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This past weekend they invited a crew over for a painting party.

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There were gray whales and dolphins.

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Sea turtles….

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and baby sea turtles!

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So what was my one condition?

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That they let me paint Rainbow Fish of course!

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Can I just admit that I’m already insanely jealous of this kid?

~Robin

Photo Adventure: East Side Geology

6 Sep

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This weekend I decided to haul Rebecca out to Mono Lake and spend some time nerding out. The Eastern Sierra has some crazy geology and it was high time that I learned more about it. I was helped in this endeavor by a few sources, although I am particularly in love with Geology Underfoot in Yosemite National Park.

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Mono Lake provides clues that give us a glimpse of what California’s climate looked like many years ago. The amount of water in the lake has fluctuated greatly over it’s long history. In these photos from Black Point you can see how much the lake has shrunk since it’s tributaries started being diverted to Los Angeles in 1941. They were taken from a spot that would have been near to the shore of the lake in 1941.

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On the other side of the lake there is a string of mountains, which seem pretty tiny compared to the giant peaks only a few miles away, but that hold their own surprises. They’re the Mono Craters, and they are the remains of Volcanos that erupted only recently in the geologic sense of the word. (600-40,000 years ago.)

We hiked around, Panum Crater the smallest of the chain, and the easiest one to hike.

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It begins with a short uphill hike as you climb over a ring of material that was blasted from the volcano during it’s eruption. (There’s a great aerial photo here if you’re having trouble picturing this.) As magma was rising through the earth’s crust it came in contact with ground water near the surface. This created steam, which built up a lot of pressure, causing the mixture of lava and steam to fountain upwards and outwards when it erupted. The lava/steam mixture cooled quickly creating pumice: one of the weirdest rocks I’ve ever encountered.

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There was so much gas trapped in the lava when it cooled that it formed a rock that is unbelievably light. It’s feels more like holding a dried out sponge than rock. It’s also fairly brittle and creates a strange soft sand which makes climbing a giant pile of it loads of fun.

The inside of the crater did not disappoint either.

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After the exploding fountain of lava had calmed down, magma continued to be pushed up towards the surface but at a slower pace. (The signs described it using the analogy of an oozing tube of toothpaste.) At Panum Crater it slowly formed a dome topped with these pillars.

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Because the lava didn’t have much gas in it, but still cooled fairly quickly, most of the rock at the center is glass-like obsidian. (The darkest of the three rocks in the picture above.) Obsidian is important for the area because it was used by the Pauite for arrowheads and a number of other tools, and was traded across the Sierra Nevada. It’s also sharp and uncomfortable to sit on, but on the upside, it totally sparkles in the sun.

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There are a ton of things to be explored around Mono Lake, you could probably keep an entire blog just about birding in the area. I’ve barely scratched the surface of geology in the Eastern Sierra, but it was fun to go out and adventure with this specific goal in mind.

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This needs to happen again.

~Robin

Happy Birthday Wilderness!

3 Sep

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Mount Lafayette, Pemigewasset Wilderness: White Mountain National Forest

“A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”

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Double Point, Phillip Burton Wilderness: Point Reyes National Seashore

Fifty years ago the Wilderness Act was signed by president L.B Johnson. This act protected many of the wonderful wild places that I love. If you are able, and haven’t yet walked into an “untrammeled” landscape, give yourself an opportunity to experience the world as you have never seen it before. Visit the 50th Anniversary website for more inspiration.

Yay! Wilderness!

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Banner Peak and Thousand Islands Lake, Ansel Adams Wilderness: Inyo National Forest

~Robin

P.S. We also celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Yosemite Grant earlier this summer. I didn’t blog about it because it happened at a pretty crazy time for me, but there are events happening all year that are worth checking out.

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Cathedral, Yosemite National Park

Earth Day: All In One Place

27 Aug

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I’m adding this posts many months later so we can have all of our Earth Day posts compiled in one long and glorious list.

You can also check out April’s Earth Day Index if you just want to know what websites and articles we linked to.

30 Days of Earth Day 2013: For Every Lifestyle

April 1, Earth Day: For Every Lifestyle
April 2, Earth Day: Recycling Challenge
April 3, Earth Day: One for the Money
April 4, Earth Day: Sustainability and You
April 5, Shorter Showers Challenge
April 6, Earth Day: Room by Room in the Bathroom
April 7, Earth Day: Green is the New Black
April 8, Earth Day: Trash Talk
April 9, Earth Day: Water Footprints
April 10, Earth Day: Being a Conscious Consumer
April 11, Earth Day: Reduce, Reduce, Reduce
April 12, Earth Day: Recycling Update
April 13, Earth Day: Throwback
April 14, Earth Day: Room by Room in the Kitchen
April 15, Earth Day: Going Green to Save Green
April 16, Earth Day: Green Smarts
April 17, Earth Day: Dirtbags and Dirty Hippies
April 18, Earth Day: Green Crafting Roundup
April 19, Earth Day: 15 Ways to Celebrate
April 20, Earth Day: Shower Hacking
April 21, Earth Day: Inspiration
April 22, Earth Day: Happy Earth Day! (and a giveaway)
April 23, Earth Day: For the Busy Schedule
April 24, Earth Day: Room By Room in the Laundry Room
April 25, EArth Day: Environmental Justice
April 26, Earth Day: Apartment Alternatives
April 27, Earth Day: For the Love of Nature
April 28, Earth Day: A favorite Resource
April 29, Earth Day: And Beyond!
April 30, Earth Day: Recycling Wrap-up
April 30, The Earth Day Index

30 Days of Earth Day 2014: Keeping it Simple

April 1, Earth Day: Keeping it Simple
April 2, Earth Day: The Big Picture
April 3, Earth Day: Climate Change Art
April 4, Earth Day: @ your Library
April 5, Earth Day: Cheat Neutral
April 6, Earth Day: Weekend Images
April 7, Earth Day: Recylcing Bias
April 8, Earth Day: Exercise and the Environment
April 9, Earth Day: Upcycled Bread Clip Picture Frame
April 10, Earth Day: Amazon Smile
April 11, Earth Day: T-Shirt Bag
April 12, Earth Day: Weekend Images
April 13, Earth Day: Weekend Images
April 14, Earth Day: Every Last Drop
April 15, Earth Day: Buying in Bulk
April 16, Earth Day: UGH!
April 18, Earth Day: Go Camp
April 18, Earth Day: Foraged Food
April 19, Earth Day: Go Celebrate!
April 20, Earth Day: Weekend Images
April 21, Earth Day: Backyard Garden Adventure
April 22, Earth Day: In the Cloud
April 23, Earth Day: Gardening 101
April 24, Earth Day: Please Drink Responsibly
April 25, Earth Day: Weekend(ish) Images
April 26, Earth Day: Weekend Images
April 27, Earth Day: Literary Irrigation
April 28, Earth Day: More Reasons to Drink Craft Beer
April 30, Earth Day: The Carbon Diaries
April 30, EThe (second) Earth Day Index

I’m getting excited for next April just going through all of these posts!

M Mead Quote 2_2_2

~Robin

Art in Cook’s Meadow

27 Aug

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My foot is still keeping me from going on big adventures but I did wander into Cook’s meadow with watercolors a few days ago.

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Cook’s Meadow is a lovely spot, and easy to access. Just by circumnavigating the meadow on paved paths you get spectacular views of some of Yosemite’s most iconic rock features.

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Plus you’re painting in a place that was also walked by the likes of Thomas Hill, Albert Bierstadt, Georgia O’Keefe, and Ansel Adams. That’s got to count for something.

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Totally worth it, even if your painting of Half Dome does come out wonky.

~Robin

Strawberry Ginger Lemonade Popsicles

24 Aug

I know I’ve mentioned this already, but it’s been a hot summer.

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When it’s this hot popsicles are a daily part of my sanity-maintenance-routine. When the temperature started rising I splurged on popsicle molds, and all summer I’ve been slurping down homemade popsicles of all flavors and colors.

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Although my popsicle obsession has been running strong since spring, I haven’t shared any recipes because I haven’t bothered to actually follow any recipes. Most of my concoctions were pretty tasty, with the exception of these Night of the Living Dead Ginger Beet Juice popsicles. They didn’t taste that great, but it was fun to watch Jackie eat them.

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After a few weeks of experimentation (and many more of forgetting to measure out and write down the ingredients) I am finally ready to share my favorite popsicle of the summer.

Strawberry Ginger Lemonade Popsicles

10 oz (approximately 2 Cups) Fresh or Frozen Strawberries
4 Teaspoons Lemon Juice
2 Tablespoons Strawberry Jam
2 Tablespoons Agave Syrup
1 Teaspoon Dried Ginger Powder

Combine ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth and pour into popsicle molds. Freeze.

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Enjoy!

~Robin

P.S. These proportions made enough to fill my Zoku mold, which makes six popsicles that are about 1/3 of a cup each.

Photo Adventure: Southern California

21 Aug

Aprilly got married last weekend, so I cruised down to Orange County and adventured for a few days before the big event.

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Lighthouse and cranes on Long Beach Harbor.

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We went on a whale watch cruise at the Aquarium of the Pacific. All my pictures of the actual whales turned out fantastically unmajestic. I can’t explain why I like this silly photo so much but I do.

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I finally got to see a space shuttle! It felt a little like this. In addition to the shuttle the California Science Center had a great exhibit on Pompeii.

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I nerded out about space even more at the Griffith Observatory.

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I loved the observatory. It’s like a temple to astronomy.

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Despite, or maybe because of the smog, I love this shot of Los Angeles from the observatory.

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We also ventured out to Catalina Island. I went scuba diving for the first time. It was amazing although I wasn’t able to take any pictures. I’m already dreaming of getting scuba certified.

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Catalina Sunset

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I just can’t seem to stay away from Malibu Creek State Park.

~Robin

P.S. I took one crappy picture at the wedding. It’s a good thing April hired an actual photographer.

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