Happy Wednesday! Vacation Wrap-Up, New Iron Man & More

yellowstone_2Well hello: happy Wednesday! I’m nearly recovered from our trip to Jackson, Wyoming, and happy to get back to my blog. Got lots of travel-related links and some nice nerdy news as well.

Our trip was quite an adventure–me, Scott, Sid, and Sarah were joined by Sid’s mom Myndi (my husband’s first wife), her partner, and his two sons on a 10-day trek from Oregon to Wyoming! We caravanned in a car and van, taking two days to reach Wilson, Wyoming (right near gorgeous Jackson), where we had a free week at a comfy condo, thanks to Myndi’s uncle, who owns a timeshare.

Did I mention that the condo had one bedroom? And that there were eight of us, including a 21-month old, two tweens, and a 16-year-old boy? Thanks to bunk beds and a pull-out couch, we were snug as bugs in a rug–plus, we had extra incentive to get out and explore the pool, nearby Jackson, and Yellowstone National Park (which I’d never been to before).

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Scott and Sarah in Jackson, Wyoming’s gorgeous park.

We took two days back as well, staying the night in historic Wallace, Idaho–a tiny, charming, former silver boom town–in the Stardust Motel. Most of the town is for sale at very reasonable prices, so we all dreamed of selling our homes in Portland and moving east (seriously, you can buy two hotels and a cafe for less than $500,000). Plus there was an excellent restaurant, the Blackboard Cafe, which served us delicious Italian food! But we ultimately decided that most of the town being for sale was probably a bad sign, and headed home.

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The Stardust Motel in Wallace, Idaho. Rides in the spaceship are extra.

But Elisabeth, you’re probably wondering. What the heck? What was it like traveling and living with your husband’s ex-wife for more than a week? I guess I haven’t written much on this subject, but while I am lucky in my choice of husbands, I’m even luckier when it comes to ex-wives. All of Sid’s parents have always been close–we live within blocks of each other and do Thanksgiving, Christmas, and birthdays together. On the trip, Myndi and I alternated planning meals and buying groceries. When one cooked, the other cleaned. Plus, each branch spent some time doing their own thing, which gave us a sense of independence and freedom. All in all, it was a great trip, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat!

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Dinner at the Lotus Cafe! Sid, his mom Myndi, Brett, and Sarah, cracking up.

Whew!

Vacation-Related Links

Yellowstone was quite the drive. And smelly (we visited Old Faithful and trekked around checking out countless sulfuric geysers). I admit, the thing that caught my eye was a beautiful hand-embroidered Yellowstone Park pillow by Catstudio in one of the general stores. Unfortunately, the price tag precluded my purchasing it, but you should definitely check them out. They’ve got tons of gorgeous National Park-themed pillows and more.

As you could probably guess, my interests while on vacation (and everywhere else) largely revolve around food. If you happen to find yourself in Jackson, Wyoming (a fantastic, albeit expensive, resort town), the Lotus Cafe is delicious and inventive. Their organic menu includes everything from raw and vegan dishes to elk and bison. I had their Lotus Pad Thai, which was remarkably delicious, even though it was vegan and gluten free (except I added chicken). They are a peanut-free restaurant, so the sauce was made with almonds. I’ve been thinking about it ever since, so I may try to replicate it!

After my experience with GeekCraft Expo PDX, I had to stop by MADE, a shop in Jackson that is dedicated to unique handmade goods from more than 250 local artisans. This shop was amazing. If I had been interested in buying souvenirs, I would have blown my budget there! As it was, I was conscious of the fact that we could barely fit all the luggage we had in the car. Next year we hopefully won’t be lugging a Pack N’ Play with us!

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MADE, a handcrafted-goodies shop in Jackson. I didn’t want to take too many pictures of the items, since they were all original designs.

Besides eating, my other favorite vacation pastime in reading–and boy, did I pick a doozy! All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation by Rebecca Traister inflamed, enraged, and inspired me. Tracing the results of first and second wave feminism, the advantages they’ve given us, the backlash they’ve inspired, and glimpses into our possible future, this book is a must-read by every literate woman, whether you identify as a feminist or not. As a women who married (for keeps) at 37 (much older than the 1950s median marriage age of 20) and who gave birth for the first time at 39, Traister was telling my story–with a richness of context that made my head spin. Read this book.

Geekery

Announced today: the next Iron Man is Riri Williams, a 15-year-old black female science genius. Created by Brian Michael Bendis (creator of Miles Morales, the half-black, half-hispanic, all-awesome Spider-Man) and drawn by Stefano Caselli, Riri debuts in the role at the close of Civil War II.

The Doubleclicks are returning from their 30-city nationwide tour and playing in Portland this July! Catch them at the Doug Fir July 19 with Danielle Ate the Sandwich, Lucia Fasano, and Barbara Holm. This is a 21+ show, but families can also catch them at the Tualatin Public Library (aka my childhood hangout) July 24. There’s also a live podcast recording July 25 at Kickstand Comedy Club!

Want a taste of seeing them live? Here’s a video of one of my favorite songs, “The Guy Who Yelled Freebird”:

So that’s what I’ve got! How are your summers going? Any vacation plans or dreams to share? Post them below!

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Make-A-Mix Cookery Authors

Monthly Meal Planning: Making Mixes

Make-A-Mix Cookery Authors

Cookbook authors or . . . Stepford Wives? Actually, I would totally use a Stepford Wives cookbook. Image from the Make-A-Mix Cookery book: Nevada Harward, Madeline Westover, and Karine Eliason.

So I’ve been on a roll! I just made my third Monthly Meal Planning spreadsheet last weekend: you can download it here.

This month is different for two reasons: one, we’re going on a trip to visit my husband’s parents in Massachusetts for a week, and two, I pulled out my Mom’s 1978 copy of Make-A-Mix-Cookery.

What’s Make-A-Mix-Cookery? It’s a book dedicated to saving time and money–huge during the 1970s, when gas was expensive and more women were entering the workforce. There’s the Quick Mix (a Bisquick-type mix), which literally makes 32 different recipes in the book (from Super-Duper Doughnuts to Sunday Shortcake), a Hot Roll Mix (for breads and sweet rolls, etc.), a Cornmeal Mix, etc. However, there’s also meat mixes (Mexican Meat Mix, Chicken Mix), where you can cook up/spice up meat and then freeze it, as well as rice mixes, drink mixes (Hot Cocoa!), cookie and cake mixes, camping and gift mixes–the books goes on and on.

This month I aim to make the following:

  • Hot Roll Mix (to make Swedish Cinnamon Twists and Big Soft Pretzels)
  • Cornmeal Mix (I finally ran out of Jiffy Mixes)
  • Muffin Mix (to make Blueberry Muffins and Molasses-Bran Muffins)
  • Oatmeal Cookie Mix (to make . . . Oatmeal Cookies)
  • Dill-Lemon Rice Mix (it’s been years since I’ve bought Rice-A-Roni)

I was a little concerned, since most of the baking mixes either call for shortening or dry milk, because they’re shelf stable. But I’ve already tested out the cookie and muffin mixes, and they are actually pretty stellar!

Even though we’ll be on vacation, I’m still planning on cooking at my in-laws’ house: easy things like spaghetti sauce and tuna casserole. I’ll be blogging from the road (and posting pics of my 10-item wardrobe), so stay tuned!

Who else cooks on vacation? Have you ever made your own mixes? Who else has an original Make-A-Mix Cookery book? Post below!

Things I Forgot to Take Camping

Hey Elisabeth, remember us? No . . . ?

Hey Elisabeth, remember us? No . . . ?

Remember when I blogged about my compact, flexible 10-item camping wardrobe? It was pretty cool, right? I was super prepared for camping. I had checklists! But, at the end of the day, I forgot a couple of .  . . oh . . . minor items. Like my sneakers. And my razor.

Camping in sandals: not fun. There were socks involved. Forgetting my razor was less important (it was camping, after all), but even more frustrating, because I always forget my razor. How many disposables have I purchased over the years in convenience stores in San Diego, Seattle, Dayville? Dozens!

Well, I’ve had enough. From now on, I’m treating all travel like convention travel! I started with some pretty decent checklists, but I left off the things I thought were no-brainers. (Like decent shoes, and oh yeah–a sweatshirt or jacket for Sid. I am usually the jacket Nazi!)

So now I have a Travel Checklists folder in my documents. Right now I have a Camping Checklist and a Go-Bag Checklist of general essentials (you would not believe how much conditioner my husband needs). After each trip, while I’m doing laundry and unpacking, I’m going to review these checklists and add to them as needed.

As god is my witness, I will never be hairy agaiiiinnnnnnnn!

So, how did the camping/beach rental wardrobe go? Pretty good, although I’d make one change and swap the coral cardigan for another T-shirt. My chambray shirt pretty much fills the same purpose, and it would have been nice to have one extra shirt. Although I never wore the dress (we decided to skip dinner out and eat at the beach rental), I was glad to have it on hand just in case.

10 Item Wardrobe

Sorry coral cardigan, you’re outta here!

Do you have any travel tips or travails to add? Post them below!

Happy Monday! Links to Make Your Day Brighter

Happy Monday, everyone! Hope your weekend was good. We just got back from a week-long camping/beach rental vacation and, while it was a blast, I am so happy to be home. My bed! My kitchen!

Fort Stevens State Park was amazing. The campsites were shady and large, there were great bike paths, the lake was gorgeous, and the showers, while slimy and gross, had plenty of hot water. The one bummer? While the Fort Stevens Museum was interesting, the actual Fort Stevens military site was incredibly boring. Everything is preserved, but empty. No signs, no context, no information at all. It was like walking around a huge, empty basement.

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I give camping with a baby a C+, maybe a B-. The Pack N Play was essential, both as a clean place for her to hang out in outside, and as her crib. However, while we have a six-person tent, it was a tight squeeze for the three of us plus Sarah in her baby cage. Plus, she kept waking up in the middle of the night and crying. Since crying it out isn’t really an option when you’re surrounded by people in tents, I was up the majority of the first night and finally put her on the air mattress between me and Scott.

But! To get to the point. With all the camping stuff we had to bring, plus all the baby stuff, our (borrowed) truck was super packed. I think next year we’re going to book one of the Deluxe Cabins and forgo tent camping until Sarah is a little older. Plus, I’ve always had a thing for log cabins.

I was actually (for once) pretty good about not bringing too much food on our trip, and making stuff that was tasty, too! We did Hawaiian Grilled Pizzas (note: I actually made them in a skillet), and they are my new favorite camping food.

Wall art at HWY 101 Burger.

Wall art at HWY 101 Burger.

Our next stop: a house in Lincoln City, OR, where I lost myself in the bliss of laundry. My affection for the smell of a campfire goes up in smoke (c’mon, I can’t help it) as soon as we break camp. The house was great, but the real highlight was a trip to HWY 101 Burger. They really are the best, and the closest thing we have to In-N-Out. The meat is fresh, never frozen, the special sauce is solid, and you can get grilled onions on your 101 (one patty + one slice of cheese), 202 (two patties + two slices of cheese), 303, or even 404 (you get the picture). Plus, the man who runs it is great with kids. He got Sid’s name and called it for our order, wrote his name in ketchup in a boat of special sauce, and even gave him some quarters for the video machines and pool table because there was a wait. Sid was psyched.

Sid and Scott at the Oregon Coast Aquarium.

Sid and Scott at the Oregon Coast Aquarium.

Weirdly enough, our trip ended up having a shipwreck theme. It started when I picked up a copy of my favorite childhood book, The Swiss Family Robinson, to read to everyone. Then, there ended up being an actual shipwreck of the Peter Iredale on the beach near Fort Stevens. Then later, at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport? The Secrets of Shipwrecks. I couldn’t have planned it better myself!

Phew! I definitely want to write about camping and vacation food, but I have more laundry to do . . .

I Love Camping I Hate Camping

  

I love camping. Being outdoors, setting up the campsite, cooking outside, reading by the fire–it’s awesome! 

I hate camping. Breathing in campfire smoke for days–gross! Feeling grimy and dirty even if I take a shower every day. Baby waking up in the middle of the night howling, refusing to go back to sleep in her Pack N Play and instead sleeping on my neck. Who needs it?!?

But I love camping. Riding bikes with Sid, checking out the lake and docks. Reading The Swiss Family Robinson to everyone every night. S’mores!

But after three days of camping, what I really love? Is landing at an awesome rental house in Lincoln City. With laundry. And beds. And a hot tub. And laundry. Oh clean clothes I missed you.

10 Item Wardrobe Lobster Spider-Man Sweatshirt

Camping & Vacation Wardrobe

We’re leaving on vacation today–yay!–starting with three days of camping at Fort Stevens in Astoria, Oregon and continuing with three days at a house in Lincoln City. Because I am lazy and haven’t done any packing yet, I’m trying an experiment and selecting my wardrobe by writing this post!

This is a true test of my 10-Item Wardrobe, because these are two totally different environments: camping outside with bike riding and hiking, and relaxing in a rental house, exploring nearby Newport and Tillamook, and going out to at least one nice dinner (to celebrate our anniversary).

Can I do it?!? Since the high temperatures will max out in the early 70s and lows will be in the mid-50s, I’m dipping back into my fall/winter wardrobe. Fortunately, there’s a washer and dryer in the rental house, so I’ll be able to wash the campfire smell out of everything!

So here are my picks for camping:

10-Item Wardrobe

Halogen black T-shirt.

A black T-shirt is good for practically anything!

10-Item Wardrobe

I’ve had and worn this shirt for two years, but . . . everyone loves Archie!

I love this shirt, and it’s a little old–perfect for camping.

10 Item Wardrobe Spider-Man Sweatshirt

Does whatever a Spider can.

Good for chilly nights!

10-Item Wardrobe

Gap navy cargo shorts. They actually roll down about two inches. I swear they don’t look as short on, Mom!

These cargo shorts are again on the older side, and dark–so into the camping wardrobe they go!

10 Item Wardrobe Grey Skinny Jeans

Gap grey skinny jeans.

Good for cool nights–I hope.

And here are my additions for the rest of the trip!

10-Item Wardrobe

Another new item: J Crew Factory “fruit salad” T-shirt.

Something dressier for this part of the trip!

10-Item Wardrobe

J Crew Factory chambray shirt.

I will probably wear this shirt until it falls apart. It goes with everything.

10-Item Wardrobe

Light aqua shorts from J Crew Factory.

Again, something dressier for sightseeing,

10 Item Wardrobe

Coral “Clare” cardigan from J Crew.

Breaking out the new cardigan to combat the lower temperatures.

10-Item Wardrobe

Floral dress, made by me maybe four or five years ago? Pattern by Amy Butler.

Dinner dress!

Phew! I feel so much better now that I’ve chosen my wardrobe for our vacation. Wait . . . crap, I still have to pack, don’t I?

Welp, I’ll let you know how it goes. This blog will likely go on hiatus while I’m out in the woods, so I’ll see you later!