31 July 2015

Goals Update

Well, there goes July.  It passed too quickly - mostly because I was dreading the start of August.  Kyle will be spending the month in IN / MI, so I have to figure out how to survive on my own again.
So here's a quick rundown of the July goals:
  • Put the windows back in the bus! We got three out of four done.  The last one just will. not. fit. It either needs extra persuasion...or we need to find a new window. 
  • VW Drag Night + camping.  We went to drag night! We went camping!
  • A visit from a Minnesotan!  We had such a great time, even if the visit was short!
  • High Country Bus Festival.  We camped in the mountains of NC for a couple nights - what a beautiful location.
  • I aimed for drawing ten comic panels again. I didn't quite make it.  July was really busy work-wise, so I didn't have a lot of energy for side projects.  However, the panels that did get done look good - I think I'm really getting into this!
Here's what's on the docket for August:
  • Digitize two comic panels.
  • Pick up Kyle's shift at the taphouse - while he's gone, I'm going to be serving up local brews once a week.
  • Do some fun shopping.  I've got weddings and babies to find gifts for!
  • Take a vacation.  A whirlwind trip to Michigan this month is just what I need right now.
  • Get ready for a garage sale. We need to downsize!  
  • Technically, elderberries are ready.  I'm not sure I can tackle that project alone, but I'm still putting it on the list.
Over the 4th of July we were invited to a barbecue.  I swear it was the best barbecue I have ever tasted in my life.  The setting was gorgeous as well.
We painted the bus interior.  I love the color so much.  So bright and shiny!
There was a VW car show in Summerville to kick off Drag Night.  Snoopy brought his beautiful 21-window.  *swoon*
There was another car show at the drag strip - so many vochos!
Kyle was in charge of the camera and he got some pretty great shots!
I spent a night learning how to pour beer with Kyle.  It's harder than it looks!  There are nine different types of glasses and each beer needs to be put in the correct glass.
High Country Bus Festival is in the mountains in NC, right on a river, with a high ridge separating the two sections of the campground.  So beautiful.
On Sunday morning it started pouring rain, so we took shelter under a rock ledge along the ridge.  A rock with a view.
The area under the rock ledge was the favorite hangout, and at night the rock wall would be lined with tea lights, giving it a surreal feeling.
These days, I spend all my time in the office or inside at home because it's too hot to work outside, so spending a weekend in the woods felt so good.  Yay camping!

24 July 2015

Ridiculously Easy Pizza Crust

I'm more of a buy-a-frozen-pizza-and-pile-it-high-with-toppings-(mostly-veggies) type of person.  Dough from scratch?  That sounds like SO MUCH WORK.  Mostly waiting (aka planning ahead).  Mixing, kneading, waiting for it to rise.  People there's got to be a better way.
Don't worry, I've got your back.  There's a much easier way.  It involves no waiting, kneading, or general dinner mayhem.  It starts with yeast, sugar, and warm water.  Let it sit for a few minutes.  Chop some veggies.
Mix that with some flour.  Add in some salt and olive oil.  Let it sit for five minutes.  Yeah, that's it - just five minutes.  Don't even pretend like you're done chopping veggies yet, get back to it!
I sprinkled some cornmeal on our pizza stone to give it that authentic pizza crust thing that pizza places do.  I didn't know where the pizza peel was.  It happens when you move a lot.  This recipe is good for one giant thick-crusted pizza, or two thin-crust pizzas.  Dealer's choice.
Top with all the toppings.  Back in college we used to make epic pizza that was pretty much a mountain of toppings.  I've scaled this one back a bit, but you can take this anywhere from a margherita to a supreme - this crust is robust enough to handle it.
Cheese has a very basic function here: hold all the toppings together. You can do it, cheese.  I believe in you.
Bake for 15-20 minutes.  So this is roughly half an hour from start to finish.
Easy Pizza Crust (recipe from here)
Makes 1 large or 2 medium pizzas
  • 1 package of dry yeast (0.25 oz)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 c. warm water
  • 2.5 c all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • Cornmeal
1.  Preheat the oven to 450°F.
2.  Mix the yeast, sugar and water.  Let stand for 5 minutes.
3.  In a mixing bowl, combine the yeast mixture and flour.  Add the salt and olive oil.  Stir until combined.  Let stand for 5 minutes.
4.  Form the dough into the pizza shape of your choice on a peel dusted with cornmeal.  Transfer to a fancy baking stone (I'm sure a normal pizza pan would be a fine substitute).  Top with your toppings of choice, then bake for 15-20 minutes.
Never eat frozen pizza again (just kidding, sometimes I need an effortless dinner and that's okay).

26 June 2015

June Goals

Despite my best intentions, June was a big month!  We didn't have a whole lot planned so we were hoping for getting a lot of buswork done.  We worked on the bus, but we also did so much more!
First things first, goals.
  • There's a concert in mid-June at the VW dealership - just a quick jaunt in the bus.  We went, we had a good time. 
  • Piccolo Spoleto festival.  This ended the first week of June; I thought it would be a longer event.  We missed it.
  • Ongoing bus work, of course.  Windows out, paint in.
  • Start working on a plan for the second garden season.  Still on my list is to plant a bunch of baby tomatoes, but I think I have a good idea of what I want.  Just need to decide when to plant.
  • Play around with my camera more - spend one night at the beach taking photos. Being on the east coast, it made much more sense to get up early and take photos of the sunrise, so that's what I did.
  • I've been thinking about starting a webcomic, so I want to draw at least ten comic panels in June for practice.  Oh man. I cranked out six panels in the first few days of June and thought I was going to blow this goal out of the water.  The count still stands at six though.
Okay, what's going on in July?
  • Put the windows back in the bus!
  • VW Drag Night + camping.
  • A visit from a Minnesotan!  I hope he's bringing lots of sunscreen and light clothing, because July is a killer month in Charleston.
  • High Country Bus Festival.  The bus won't make it out there, but we'll bring a tent!
  • I'm aiming for drawing ten comic panels again.  This time I'll actually get it done.
On to the photo recap of my month.  We celebrated the world's largest batch of iced tea (ahem, sweet tea) and whipped up a batch of our own mint tea.
 The VW dealership hosted a concert and car show, where I fell in love with this little guy.
We harvested some corn from the garden this month!  All ten kernels went on a plate of nachos.  I almost tasted them. (All of the corn is so dinky.  I assume it's just too hot.)
Speaking of nachos, can Greek nachos be a thing?  We made gyros this month and had some leftover tzatziki.  That was about all we had left, so this plate isn't really all that Greek, but don't tell me Greek nachos don't sound delicious.
We also helped a local brewery celebrate their grand opening!  Apparently the number of craft breweries in this area is doubling this year.  Amazing.
Then there was the bus work.  We cut off the old brittle window seals and removed the windows.
With the windows out, we masked off the whole thing and painted the interior.
That's when we found out that we didn't mask off the WHOLE thing...and the roof was covered in overspray.
One morning we got up at the crack of dawn to see the sunrise.  It was much better than I anticipated.
My photos don't do it justice, but it was fun to try.
So that was June!  A surprisingly busy month, but definitely a good one.

12 June 2015

Mint Iced Tea + World Record Sweet Tea

My garden is starting to get out of control.  Well, maybe not the garden so much as the mint.  I am starting to think it was not such a great idea to plant the mint in my herb garden - I should have planted it far, far away from everything so that when it started multiplying like rabbits (well, not exactly like rabbits) it wouldn't interfere with the rosemary or lime-basil.
Mint plant, 18 April.
Mint plant, 10 May.
 Mint plant, 5 June.  Out. Of. Control. 
Desperate for ideas, I polled Facebook and got tons of awesome responses (including a recipe from one of my favorite travel bloggers, fangirl swoon)!  Ideas ranging from mint wine to savory Thai shrimp, and lots of things in between.  So many votes for mojitos, as if I didn't already have a strawberry mojito in my hand!
Mint ice tea is SO easy.  Make iced tea just like you normally would, but when you add the tea bags, add 1 to 1 1/2 cups of fresh mint leaves (per gallon).
If you don't have a regular iced tea recipe, here's how Kyle makes our mint iced tea.
Mint Iced Tea
  • 1 gallon water
  • 4 tea bags (quart-sized)
  • 1 1/2 c. fresh mint (loose)
1.  Bring the water to a boil in a large pot.  Take the pot off the heat.
2.  Add the tea and mint.  Let tea steep for 8-10 minutes, then remove the tea bags.  After 30 minutes, remove the mint.
3.  Chill. 

If you think the flavor is too strong, you can always use fewer tea bags OR steep for less time OR add some water to your tea so it's not so concentrated.  It's really hard to go wrong with iced tea.  Kyle drinks his with a few drops of stevia, I drink mine with a splash of lemon juice.

In honor of National Tea Day (Wednesday), Summerville SC - the self-proclaimed birthplace of sweet tea - decided it was time to take over the title of World's Largest Iced Tea.  Guinness Book of World Records was on the scene to make this event history, and the record was broken.
I kind of expected it to be a little bigger.  I don't know.  Who am I to judge.  What was REALLY impressive, however, was how long the line for sweet tea was!  We were present for the sweet tea festivities and were going to half-heartedly join the line for sweet tea, but we realized it stretched a block long and went around the corner.  Who knows where it ended!  I prefer my tea unsweetened, and we heard this tea was so sweet it made your teeth hurt, so we never tasted the tea but we had a great time anyway.  And if you're ever in the area, rumor has it the world's largest iced tea cup will be on permanent display!

If you're interested in learning more, I suggest reading this highly entertaining article from the Post and Courier.  The recipe for this 1425 gallon batch included 1600 lbs of sugar and 120 lbs of loose leaf tea from the Charleston Tea Plantation. You can also check out all the photos of sweet tea drinkers with their mugs of sweet tea on the Summerville, SC Facebook page.

05 June 2015

Camping Weekend

We had big plans for spending Memorial weekend in Savannah after spending a night camping with the bus club.  Well...we never made it past the campsite.  Savannah will be there anytime, but great weekends with great people don't happen often enough!
The campsite was only about an hour away, so we didn't get quite the shakedown cruise we expected, but I got to test out the brakes while we were still in the city - they work great.
When we first arrived at the site, we met some bus owners nursing a 4 week old kitten!  Roughly half the photos I took were of this guy:
As always, in between chatting with some really fun people, we were treated with some amazing food.  This weekend included some Southern classics that I hadn't tried yet - lowcountry boil and shrimp'n'grits!
To work off the food, we practiced hoopin' and also kayaked down the Edisto river.
Last but not least, plenty of relaxation.
Okay, and one more picture of the homicidal psycho jungle cat.  He's ferocious!

29 May 2015

Goals Recap

Suddenly May is coming to a close.  It was a great month!  We ramped up our weekend game this month with lots of events.
Here is May's list:
  • Have a Star Wars marathon.  We watched the original three, it had been so long since I've seen them!
  • Bus stuff (always). We didn't work on the bus too much this month, although Kyle knocked a couple things off the list.
  • Camping / Savannah trip this month!  Well, we never made it to Savannah...
  • We've volunteered at a brew festival at the end of the month.  After work today, we'll be on our way!
  • I've got to finish up the elderberry wine (again) and get a new batch of wine started.  Gah.  A new batch has been started, but the elderberry still needs to be bottled.
  • Plant more things in the garden / keep up with the garden.  I don't think I planted anything else, but we've been eating greens, radishes and peas and watching the tomatoes get bigger and bigger.
  • Make some fun anniversary plans.  I wasn't sure if we'd get a spot on the ferry out to Boneyard Beach, but we made it and it was a phenomenal trip - read about it here!
June is looking like a quieter month, but it's still early.
  • There's a concert in mid-June at the VW dealership - just a quick jaunt in the bus.
  • Piccolo Spoleto festival is going on, and I'd love to attend a couple events for that.
  • Ongoing bus work, of course.  Hopefully we can make some good progress in June.
  • As the summer months progress, it's going to get too hot for most garden plants, so I'm going to start working on a plan for the second season - the one that starts when it cools off a bit.
  • Play around with my camera more - spend one night at the beach taking photos.  I keep trying to learn more about photography, but when it's so sunny that I can't see my camera screen I can't tell how the photos are turning out so I don't really learn anything. 
  • I've been thinking about starting a webcomic, so I want to draw at least ten comic panels in June for practice.
That's about all I can think of right now.   Okay, on to photos from my month.  We spent the first weekend camping close to home.
The garden gets more and more out of control.  This photo is from mid-month, the tomatoes are much bigger now!
We spent a Saturday exploring a remote island.
The local wildlife kept us entertained.
I just love the beach.
Last weekend we went camping with the Moonies, which is always an out-of-the-box experience.  We planned on spending one night camping and then heading down to Savannah for the rest of the weekend, but camping was so great we couldn't leave.
It was such a perfect weekend, full of bright sun, great people, and cold drinks.  Not to mention the hula hoops, drum circle, and kayaking down the river.
We did so much in May.  And it's not over yet!  We've got awesome weekend plans that are sure to close out the month with a bang.  Summertime is the best time!