04 September 2015

Goals and Michigan

August was a weird month.  Kyle was gone for the first three weeks, leaving me to fend for myself (mostly).  Then the last week we were both in MI on vacation.  Now that we're back at home, I'm trying to figure out my new routine and we're both trying desperately to catch up.
I'll touch on goals for a second then get to the good part - all the photos.
  • Digitize two comic panels.  I started one and it was much more work than I anticipated.  Back to the drawing board on that project...
  • Pick up Kyle's shift at the taphouse.  Tell me your problems, I'm a bartender.
  • Do some fun shopping.  Wedding gifts, check. Baby gifts, check.
  • Take a vacation.  A whirlwind trip to Michigan, photographs below.
  • Elderberries.  I still want this to happen, but it's just not going to work out this year.
And then it's September.  My goals are going to be really lax because we're both really busy with work/school.
  • Find some good, easy crockpot recipes to make mealtime easier.
  • Put that stupid window back in the bus.
  • We're both signed up to volunteer at a surf event at Folly Beach later this month. Woot!
  • Clean up the garden.  Most things are dead and need to be removed.
  • Figure out what we're doing Labor Day Weekend...uh yeah, that starts today.  No plans yet!?
I apparently got volunteered at a beer festival in August.  I had sent an email inquiring about volunteers a couple months before the event, and never got a response until three days before the festival when they told me what time to show up for my shift...
I prepped some freezer pizza pockets so that I'd have some easy lunches when we got back from vacation.  They're the best!
I got all the wine labeled for my little brother's wedding reception.  Such cute labels!
Finally it was time for me to drive north.  14 hours later I was drinking Moscow Mules with my mother-in-law!
From there, the whirlwind of visits kicked off.  Including my favorite puppy!  Look how dignified he's trying to be, despite his crazy hair.
A 30th birthday party meant we got to see a ton more people than we planned on!
We made time for a quick hike - we'd hiked this trail in snowshoes but never had a chance to check it out in the summer.
We quickly racked up hours on the road, zig-zagging across the state in an effort to see as many people as possible, including this two-week-old.
Then across the state again to catch up with some friends and try a new brewery.
A stop in Grand Rapids for a bachelorette party...
...and then downstate for the actual wedding.
And to top things off, we overnighted in Kentucky with family!  I forgot to take any pictures there, so instead enjoy these succulents.
It was a wonderful vacation, and I got to see nearly all my favorite people.   
Contented sigh.  Now, back to work...

28 August 2015

SelfieFest

Kyle and I were separated by a thousand miles for three weeks.  In a desperate attempt to keep him a little closer, I asked him to send me a selfie every day.  I really should have seen this coming, but he agreed only on the condition that I do the same.
As much as I hate to say it, it did make the whole thing a little easier.  And I think we both got better at taking selfies.
We even managed to figure out selfies with multiple people.
I'm glad I don't have to take any more selfies though.

14 August 2015

Paint and Windows

It's been a while since there's been a bus post so here's what we did in June and July.
The seals on the windows were so old and brittle that when we washed the bus, the seals bled all over, leaving black streaks down the freshly cleaned sides.  It was great (not). The seals had to go.

Kyle cut the seals and we pulled out the windows without breaking a single pane.  There was minor rust at the bottoms of the windows, nothing to worry about, until we got to the rear vent wing window.  
 
That entire window was extra rusty, but the vent wing window itself was pretty bad.
With the windows out, Kyle neutralized the rust and prepped the interior for paint.
The really fun thing about buswork is that hours of labored gets condensed into single sentences that don't tell you what it's like to crouch down for half an hour in 100° heat.  So next, we masked off the bus then primed and painted it.  I figured white would be easy to get along with and would keep the interior bright - most of these surfaces won't be visible when we're done anyway.
Then, disaster.  We removed the masking and there was a thin cloud of white all over the top of the bus, especially above the back hatch.
My first instinct was to wash it, but with the windows out we'd need to wait until everything was dry.  24 hours and seven google searches later, it turns out you can take care of it with auto wax pretty easily before it dries.  Since it was dry, wax only worked with an incredible amount of labor.  What worked much better?  Acetone.  It didn't damage the paint underneath either.
Here's a pro tip: if you're going to decide you hate the paint color, do it before you remove the masking.  Otherwise you've got to redo several hours of work.
The good news is that I LOVE the color now.  It is a lighter version of the exterior teal, but still very vibrant.

Kyle installed some interior insulation - $14 for a package of floor foam tiles.  More masking and some spray adhesive and we're in business!  We're both impressed with how well it cuts down on the heat.
Finally, time to reinstall the windows.  Kyle's post about reinstalling the windshield details how we accomplished this project.  The short version of the story is that we soaked some paracord in Simple Green (enough to circle the window once), applied it to the seal of the window, put the window in place, and then Kyle applied pressure from the outside as I pulled out the paracord.
I have no photos of this part because we both had our hands full.  Suffice it to say the windows went in easily, and it was great because I had visions of shattered window in my mind.
Of course, no project is without a hitch.  We deemed the vent wing window a loss, and after exploring several options it was apparent that the cheapest option was to go with a solid window.  Some awesome friends had a spare window for us to use, so after our new solid seal arrived, we attempted installation.  Three times.  It would not fit.  Kyle tried grinding down the window a bit to fit it better, but several attempts later got us nowhere.  The new window was about a 1/4" taller than the original windows, and the tempered glass will not be ground down.

That's where it sits right now.  Missing one window.  Waiting for us to figure out what we're going to do now.

07 August 2015

Lime Bars with Toasted Coconut Crust

I accidentally bought a big bag of limes.  Well, okay, I did it on purpose, but I didn't really have a choice because the loose limes were pretty picked over.  Anyway, I'm sure there can't be such a thing as an "excess" of limes because they're so amazing, but the lingering question - what delicious thing do I make with these limes?
I love lemon bars, so lime bars are an obvious option, but how to kick it up a notch?  Ah yes, a toasted coconut crust.  Now we're talking.  Mine might have gotten a little too toasty.  It happens.
Not only does this crust have a wealth of flavor from the toasted coconut, we're going to amp up the lime flavor with some zest as well.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.
While that's baking, juice a pile of limes.  It's cathartic.
I was extremely tempted to stop right here and call this an amazing toasted coconut-lime shortbread cookie.  In fact, I still might.
But for your sake, I'll continue.  The egg / lime / sugar mixture goes on top.
Back to the oven, just long enough for it to set.
Top with powdered sugar.  So tart, so sweet, so delicious.
Lime Bars with Toasted Coconut Crust (basically this recipe, plus toasting)
Ingredients:
  • 1 c. butter, softened (2 sticks)
  • 1/3 c. brown sugar
  • 2 c. all purpose flour
  • Zest of 2 limes
  • 1/2 c. shredded coconut, toasted*
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 tbs cornstarch
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 c lime juice
  • Powdered sugar
Instructions:
*Toast the coconut by heating in a frying pan over medium heat.  Keep an eye on it, stir frequently.  Remove from heat when adequately browned.
1.  Preheat oven to 350°F.
2.  Mix butter and brown sugar until fluffy.  Add in flour, zest, coconut, and 1/4 tsp salt.  Mix until well-combined, then press into the bottom of a 9"x13" pan.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.
3.  In a mixing bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, baking powder, and 1/4 tsp salt.  Mix in the eggs, then add in the lime juice.
4.  Pour the batter over the crust (no need to wait for it to cool).  Bake for an additional 20-25 minutes until the egg mixture is set.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
5.  Cut into bars and dust with powdered sugar.
More limes everywhere.

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!