Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Books

It’s that time of year again! We’re (over) half-way through the year, and I’ve read a TON of books… 143 books to be exact, so here are some of my favorites so far.

The most interesting book I re-read this year was actually four books in one: The Year I Turned 16 by Diane Schwemm. I think these were probably some of my favorite books when I was 11 and 12, because they were about four sisters and, yup, the year they each turned 16. I’d been thinking about it for a few months, for some reason, and I finally found a cheap used version at Powell’s in Portland. Sidenote, never ever go to Powell’s on a Saturday if you can avoid it. It was pure madness, I tell you! The re-read proved interesting. I can’t exactly pinpoint what I loved about these books so much. I think it was the overall tone, and of course the characters, but the writing isn’t great. Didn’t hold up….

My favorite YA book I’ve read so far this year is…. We were Liars by E. Lockhart, which I can’t tell you anything about….. Which should make you really want to read it. If you know what I mean. Eeeeeeek.

One More Thing by B.J. Novak, the famed producer/writer/actor from The Office - one of my all-time favorite TV shows - is my favorite book of short stories this year so far. They’re political. They’re literary. They’re HILARIOUS. This book had me rolling.

I have three favorite fiction books so far:
The Circle by Dave Eggers: The premise of this one is what got me, as well as the relatable main character. This is my favorite Eggers, of whom I’ve never been a HUGE fan. I just leant this book to a friend who doesn’t read much, so we’ll see what he thinks!
The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: I read Sherlock this winter on a whim, because my only exposure had been The Hounds of the Baskervilles in junior high. I liked the rest of the stories A LOT more than that one. Yes indeed.
The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane: Another “on a whim” book, which I picked up out of the “new fiction” section of the library, mostly because I liked the cover art. It’s sort of a political mystery/thriller/commentary(?), and it’s very European, but it should make you think!

And, finally, shockingly, I have FOUR favorite graphic novels so far this year. I’ve never read a ton of graphic novels in the past, but 2014 has been a good year to get into them, I think.
Hark a Vagrant by Kate Beaton: I was not familiar with Beaton’s blog when I picked up this book on recommendation. It’s mostly historical cartoons. And they’re hilarious. I CRIED laughing about a particular one, which was a joke about the sun rotating around the earth….
Relish by Lucy Kinsley: This is a graphic memoir about food. And it’s amazing. I really loved how Kinsley could relate everything in her life to food in some way. Beautiful.
Blankets by Craig Thompson: This book has been out for a few years. It’s another memoir. This one, about the upper-midwest, and a heartbreaking teenage love story.
Hyperbole & a Half by Allie Brosh. Incomperable. I’ve been reading this blog for a long time. I basically worship the Alot, and it was amazing to see it all in print.

So…..that’s it so far. I hope that if you check out any one of these books you won’t be disappointed! As for me, Goodreads tells me that I’m 32 books ahead of schedule to read 200 books this year. Yikes.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Lost Rocks

Our latest adventure: Lost Rocks. Redwood National Park (#10).

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

OUR garden

farmers market haul.flowers in the back yard.a sprout.the before picture....

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Garden trip

Over the weekend, we took a trip to our local bouldering spot, The Garden. The Garden isn't necessarily a "secret" area, but new climbers or climbers who are simply new to the area generally have to work a bit to figure it out. It's not heavily trafficked, but we've been climbing there since last summer.

The rock is volcanic, but it feels more like granite or even sandstone. I love it.

This was my first trip out there in MONTHS. This area of Oregon is wet, and The Garden is basically in a rain forest at the edge of the Cascades. When it rains, it takes several days to dry out, and we just haven't had good luck until now. I'm sure we'll be there a lot this summer.

On this trip, we messed around on a few problems, and I got a project I'd been working on for the past few trips. It's lame that I had to project this thing. It's not that hard, but there are a few more powerful moves on it (for me at least). And every other time I've worked it, I've had my ever-present issue of beta-amnesia & tiring myself out. Anyway, check it out!

This is one of our first climbing videos that we made with our new camera! I'm so excited about ...just the fact that we have the ability to MAKE videos now. It's so much fun. Look for more from us soon!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Tea time - reviews

I drink a good amount of tea. At least one cup a day. Sometimes up to 5 or so cups? I'm always looking for new and interesting flavor combinations. Here are a few I've been lovely lately:

Celestial Seasonings' Honey Vanilla Chai. I don't LOVE Chai tea by itself, but I love all things honey-vanilla. I especially love Celestial Seasonings' Honey Vanilla Chamomile, so I figured I'd take a chance on this one. It is smooth and delicious, and awakening. I like it in the morning... I like it with a good piece of bread....

Republic of Tea's Blackberry Sage black tea. I bought this one on a recommendation because I don't LOVE fruity teas. Though, I guess now I should amend that to: I don't like fruity herbal teas. This black tea is NICE. It's not too fruity. The sage makes it taste really clean and fresh. It's decaf, so I can drink it all day long. It's refreshing, and I think it would also be great iced!

Yogi's Egyptian Licorice and Mint. I wanted to try a licorice and mint tea, and I'm pretty sure it's a very British combination. I ordered some Pukka licorice & mint tea off Amazon, but it was SO expensive, and I think I like the Yogi version better. It's more minty, and the sweetness of the licorice doesn't hit me until the very end. If you don't like licorice, I think this is still worth a try, because the flavor is just sort of....sweet. This is more of a cold-weather tea, though, and thankfully, we are moving into the warm.

I've mostly been drinking my tea out of my new mug:

I'm obsessed. I saw this mug back in October, I think, and I wanted it. The problem is that I have too many mugs. Like t-shirts, they're just one of those things you collect accidentally and have a hard time getting rid of because of the emotion and memories attached to them.

Last week, we had to make a quick trip home to say goodbye to Aaron's grandmother. On the way out of Little Rock, we stopped at the airport Starbucks for my third Oprah Chai of the trip, and I noticed this mug. The very last one. I'm convinced. I bought it. I have it with me at work, where I do the majority of my tea drinking. It makes me happy. Once again, it's the little things....

I hope this post was interesting to someone...anyone. And I hope it inspires you to try new things! It's almost always worth it!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Anti-cancer smoothie

Several weeks ago, my dad officially found out that he has Lynch Syndrome. I'll give you a cookie (or a smoothie - heh) if you've ever heard of that before.

No one has heard of it, so, the quick explanation is that it's a gene that causes cancer. We already pretty much knew that cancer ran in our family, and it was actually one of my doctors who told me we should be tested for Lynch specifically. His diagnosis wasn't a surprise.

I'll get tested for Lynch soon, but there's a 50 percent chance that I have it. And even if I don't, living an "average" lifestyle in this world at this time is basically a cancer sentence anyway.

I'm not too worried about getting cancer, honestly. Especially if I do have Lynch Syndrome, I'll be screened for cancer so often that there's no way any problem could go unnoticed.

And this smoothie is one of my secret anti-cancer weapons. It has all kinds of good stuff that fights off the bad stuff, and this is how I like to start most of my mornings now.

Ingredients:
•1 scant cup frozen mangos
•1 scant cup frozen berries
•1 cup orange juice
•1/2 cup fresh strawberries
•1 cup spinach
•1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
•1 tsp gogi berries
•1 tsp chia seeds
•1/4 cup almond (or other) milk
•1/2 cup nonfat greek yogurt
•1/2 a banana and/or avocado

Aaron makes fun of the long list of ingredients that go into this thing. He jokes that I throw everything in the entire kitchen into it. That's not true. But sometimes I substitute kale for spinach and if we have other fruit, sometimes I'll throw that in there, but this is the holy grail....

I mix the frozen fruit with the orange juice first to create a nice base, and then I add in everything else & blend until the mixture is super smooth.

I don't want to go too much into nutrition, but I have done research, and I can tell you that in moderation, everything in this smoothie is good for you. It fills me up in the mornings and keeps me energized until lunch.

I'm also not promoting this smoothie as a fix-all bandaid. You can't drink 16 ounces of this in the morning, have a bucket of fried chicken for lunch, a take-out pizza for dinner, never exercise and call it good.

I ride my bike to work almost every day. I exercise 5-6 days a week. And in my quest to be healthier in general, I've cut back on meat, alcohol, sodium & added sugar. ....and I still wouldn't say that I'm doing everything "right". My health and fitness is a work in progress. I try not to be too hard on myself. I allow indulgences. I'm happy! And I think that's the most important thing anyway!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Seattle - part two

Touring around Seattle actually wore me out A LOT more than I thought it was, but I'm glad that I've seen all of the things now... After we were done we ate at the delicious Annapurna and got Molly Moon's ice cream for the second time before heading out to Leavenworth for some bouldering! ...I've decided that if I could get a Molly Moon's cone (best waffle cone ever) filled with Lochmead ice cream, I might just die...

So, there you go! This is my last post from our anniversary trip until Aaron finishes the videos he's editing up. So, stay tuned!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Seattle - part one

So, on our amazing Washington weekend trip, we made it into Seattle on Friday night just before our reservation at The Golden Beetle, which was amazing. We had several drinks, delicious dips, olives, pizza ...and Aaron had lamb. I slept well, which was good, because we had lots of exploring to do on Saturday.

We started out at Pike Place Market to avoid the crowds there.

P.S.: I was so disappointed by the gum wall. I suppose it takes a lot of gum to cover the surface that it does, but, I guess I was just expecting more...

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

La Push

The Beach at La Push is beautiful. (Even more beautiful than it is described in Twilight. Heh!) I think it was my favorite part of Olympic, even though I think it's technically just outside the park. We saw three eagles and a seal. And we stood there and let the wind blow through our hair. A perfect day.

Monday, April 28, 2014

hiking olympic national park

I can breathe deeper in these places where everything is lush and green and mountainous...

Friday, April 25, 2014

lake quinault in fog

We woke up to this view a few Fridays ago. And then I ate the best pancakes of my life: sweet potato pancakes with vanilla bean butter. There are no words.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

New things, carb-filled things...

Phew. Busiest Saturday ever. I started early and baked some bagels...

Bagels are my JAM right now, as I explained in my last post, and these are the pi├Ęce de r├ęsistance. If you don't like asiago cheese bagels, I don't want to be your friend. They've been my favorite kind of bagels since... the moment my first asiago cheese bagel touched my lips.

I love the process of making bagels. It's one of the most fun things ever: you make dough, let it rise, form the bagels themselves (it's like playing with play dough!), poach them & then you get to "decorate" them with ingredients.

I want to make all of the different kinds of bagels! So far I've just made: garlic & herb, whole wheat & asiago. That leaves me about a million other variations to try out, and I can't wait.

My new goal in life is to open a bagel shop....unless I turn out to be a concert pianist.

This piano came to live with us today! Which makes it sound a lot easier than it actually was.... We had to drive to Albany; pick up a trailer, which Aaron's boss very generously let us borrow; pick up our friend and helper, Dean; drive back to Corvallis; load the piano into the trailer; drive to our house; load it out & into our house; drive the trailer & Dean back to Albany... Phew. The moving process went much easier than the three of us anticipated, but It's so worth it. I can see the piano now from where I'm sitting, and it just makes our house seem more lived-in and homier.

And, of course, I plan to play it...the little bit that I can.

Another new thing that came today was our Canon 7D, which we won on Ebay over two weeks ago! I'm glad it came in time for our trip next week, and I'm still figuring out all of the settings & getting better at shooting Canon....

Yes, this one is out of focus. Black dogs are hard to shoot in low light, but I thought this was too adorable not to share! These are where the pups sit when they're waiting for their meals. :)

And here's a shot of our pizza dinner...yup, sourdough pizza dough was also on the docket for today. So delicious! Such a happy day!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Insta-recap

So, I know I said I'd blog more... But, the problem is, I still don't have a camera. BUT, I don't think that will not be the case much longer, so I thought I'd go ahead and jump the gun, and show you what I've been up to for the past several months. If you follow me on Instagram already, this might be kind of boring. If not, I'm @calliebellez. Get to following...

On January 1, we picked up the dogs from their holiday stay at the Muddy Dog Ranch. They were very tired and very happy to be home. So was I!

I was sick over the holidays, but started to feel better, so we took a Bouldering trip to Bend over MLK weekend where I climbed the tallest boulder problem of my life. For a girl who doesn't like heights, this was a big deal. We also drank a lot of amazing craft beer and ate delicious pub food. Oh, Central Oregon, how I love thee.

After the trip, I started to feel crappy again - a relapse from my earlier ear infection/cold. I drank lots of tea and took lots of baths and struggled to do daily activities let alone climb or go to the gym. It was the worst. I almost never get sick, so this knocked me back big time.

I never lost my appetite, though, and this fajita meal was one of my favorites so far this whole year. It was delicious. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

And then we had snow.... lots of lots of cold and snow. Thankfully, that has passed by now. I feel sorry for the Northeast, still getting covered by it.

The snow cleared in time for me to head up to Vancouver for a work conference. It was my first time in Canada, and my first time at a professional conferencey event! I wrote about it here.

One of my New Years' resolutions was to walk the dogs more. And I'm happy to say that we are succeeding with usually at least two walks per week. Sometimes they are around our neighborhood, but other times, we go for fun hikes together. I love this photo. It's the background of my phone right now. :)

I competed in my first climbing competition! At The Crux gym in Eugene. It was a total blast, and I'm glad I did it! I finished fifth in my division. Not too shabby.

We went cross-country skiing for the first time and had SO much fun!

I made bagels for the first time, and they turned out better than I ever could have imagined. EVER. They're better than any bakery bagel I have ever had in my whole life. I may have found a calling: bagel baker. Just kidding. If I did that for a living, I'd weight 300 pounds. But, I will make more.

I was, as usual, surprised at how easy it was. I was always intimidated by the poaching step, but it wasn't bad at all! Here's the recipe I used! I highly, highly suggest the cookbook.

I think next, I'm going for a doubled recipe of whole wheat bagels. Om nom.

That's it for now. See you soon!