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Bird Rave

July 18, 2014

Last week I was crabby.

Last week I was crabby because I didn't get any sleep.

Last week I was crabby because I didn't get any sleep because every morning at 4:30am there was a freaking BIRD RAVE that took place right outside my bedroom window. Squawking and dancing and pulsing bass and flashing disco lights and OMGSHUTUPSHUTUUUUUUP.

They would not shut up.

Every night. And I have scientific proof, with GRAPHS:

(That orange section on the night of Tuesday the 8th shows I was up because Mitzi was sick. As I fell back to sleep at 3:30 I hoped and prayed that the birds would leave me alone for one night. Hahahahahaha.)

Then Wednesday Steve was very helpful and loving and sent me a link to a Time article: Study: Interrupted Sleep May Be as Harmful as No Sleep at All.

Let me just highlight one really fun and amazing part of that article while:

...results proved that just one night of interrupted sleep had negative effects on mood, attention span and cognitive ability. [Prof. Avi] Sadeh believes that several nights of fragmented sleep could have long-term negative consequences equivalent to missing out on slumber altogether.

And I cried.

Bike to Work Day

July 15, 2014

In the beginning of June, Anchorage held it's annual Bike To Work Day which is a very fun day that encourages people to ride their bicycles to work by bribing them with donuts at strategic locations around town.

The rest of the country observes Bike To Work Day in the middle of May, but Anchorage pushed its date back two weeks because the last few years it snowed on Bike to Work Day and all of the donuts froze with no one to eat them. It was heart breaking. This year it was NOT snowing, and I participated in May even without the donuts.

I convinced a few of my coworkers to participate in the official city event, one of whom lives near me and we decided to ride together. I mapped out the most donut-beneficial route from my house to the office: we could hit FIVE donut stands and it would be amazing.

One of the stands had BACON on their donuts and I basically elbowed tall guys in spandex out of the way so I could get one.

The bacon donut was disappointing, but the ride was beautiful.

Here are some notes I jotted down after the event that I never got around to publishing:

  • My body is less efficient in the morning than in the afternoon. And by "less efficient" I mean "hates moving" and "much slower" which is not surprising.
  • Why don't we have any backpacks in the house? I ended up emptying my camera bag and cramming everything I needed into it, which didn't work very well.
  • In order to conserve space in my camera bag, I wore my work bra instead of packing it and wearing a sports bra. Would have been fine if I hadn't been wearing a backpack making me sweaty sweat sweat.
  • The standard keep-mascara-in-work-bag-for-application-at-a-red-light tactic is pretty terrible when I'm not taking my work bag. Also, cream eye liner is crap for faking mascara.
  • Google maps says my route was 8.9 miles, but my GPS tracker says it was 10.4. Which is right? I want to believe my GPS tracker because 10.4 sounds better. But I have no idea.

After the event, the city sent out a survey for participants to fill out. It was pretty basic stuff: what zip code do you live in? what zip code do you work in? how long did it take you on your bike? how long does it usually take you in a car? did you feel safe during your ride?

When I got back from our trip to Philadelphia, I had an email from someone at the city asking me to call her. Apparently there was a drawing associated with the survey that I had completely forgotten about: one participant would win a bicycle.

Probably halfway through the call I had to stop the lady and confirm: Wait, are you telling me that I just won a bicycle?

You guys.
I WON A BICYCLE.

I went to the local Trek bike store and had a small photo op and they ordered a Trek 7.1 FX bike in my frame size for me all for me for FREE.

Yesterday it arrived in the store and I picked it up last night. The employees were so great, even after I admitted that I've never owned a bicycle that properly fit me, and I've never owned a brand new bicycle - only used ones from garage sales and Craigslist and I never paid more than $70 for one.

And now I own a brand new awesome bicycle that's amazing and fits me properly and is way lighter than any bike I've ever ridden.

So I rode it to work today! Because it's mine and I can!

My initial thoughts:

  • Holy cow I can go fast on this thing. How did I average over 13mph at 6:30am when my body doesn't want to get out of bed, let alone do any physical activity? Lighter frame? The better fit? A better gear system... thing? I'm just really excited about the new bike?
  • Used my camera bag again, and oh man getting that lens divider back into it is a PAIN I need a saddlebag rack for this new bike.
  • Wore my sports bra to handle all of the sweat, and completely forgot to pack a regular bra so I had to wear my sweaty sports bra all day. Ugh.
  • Man this bike is so fun to ride, I don't have to keep readjusting my body to stay on the seat because the frame fits me.

I can't wait for many more miles on it.

Lemon Raspberry Cupcake

July 10, 2014

Lemon cake
3 cups self-rising flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter - room temperature
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs - room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 cup whole milk, divided
2½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided

Raspberry filling
15 ounces frozen raspberries - thawed
⅓ cup sugar
3-4 tablespoons corn starch

Preheat your oven to 375, dig out your box of paper cupcake liners and drop them into the pans, making sure to have a pleasing color pattern of yellow and orange.

Look up a recipe for self-rising flour because what is even the point when it's just flour and salt and baking powder? Sift the mixture with the additional salt in a bowl and set aside.

Pull out the KitchenAid mixer and beat the butter and the sugar together with the batter paddle until fluffy. Resist the urge to stick your finger into the sweet smelling fluff and lick it, because it will taste like sweet butter and not like it smells, aka, heaven.

Add in the eggs one at a time and beat until each is fully incorporated. Quickly zest a lemon while the eggs are doing their thing, then toss the zest into the mixer along with a sploosh* of vanilla (*we don't measure vanilla in this house).

Slowly add ⅓ of the flour mixture in, quickly juice the zested lemon and then add in half of the milk and half of the lemon juice until combined. Add in another ⅓ of the flour mixture, the rest of the milk and lemon juice, then the remaining ⅓ of the flour. Beat until just combined, don't over mix.

Make the raspberry filling by combining all of the filling ingredients in a bowl.

Drop a spoonful of batter into each of the cupcake liners, a small spoonful of raspberry filling, and then top with a spoonful of batter. Make sure the cupcake liners are about ¾ full, and bake them for about 17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let the cupcakes cool on wire racks while you make the frosting.

Raspberry butter cream frosting
2 sticks unsalted butter - room temperature
7-8 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup heavy cream
¼ cup raspberry filling

Wash out your KitchenAid mixer bowl and beat the butter until fluffy. Add in a sploosh* of vanilla and a cup of powdered sugar and beat until thoroughly combined.

If using frozen wild Alaskan raspberries from last season like I did, press the raspberry filling through a sieve with a spoon to remove most of the seeds. Add the de-seeded raspberry filling and heavy cream and beat thoroughly.

Add in the rest of the powdered sugar a cup or so at a time until it's at a consistency and flavor you like - basically the consistency where your husband will complain it's "too sweet" is perfect.

Cut the corner off a ziplock bag, attach your frosting couplers and decorating tip, and fill the bag with frosting. Painstakingly frost a cupcake all fancy and whatnot and realize that 1. this is too time consuming and it's already 9pm, and 2. your coworkers at the potluck won't appreciate the time spent decorating while they are shoving cupcakes into their faces. Frost all of the other cupcakes in a simple spiral.

Tell the husband he can have one if he would like, and roll your eyes at the "too sweet" comment you know is coming because the dude just doesn't like frosting (although I don't think he knows that he doesn't like frosting).

Mumble the teenager's name at the bottom of the staircase, and when he runs downstairs at light speed, screeches to a halt in the kitchen and asks What Do You Want??, raise your eyebrows at him and place your hand on your hip until he spies the completed cupcakes behind you. Keep your eyebrows and hand and hip in place while his shoulders drop and he turns all sweet with platitudes of love and devotion. Enjoy his squirming for a bit before offering him a cupcake.

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Hi, I'm Valette

I'm a photographer based out of Anchorage, Alaska. I've recently become a wife, a stepmother, and a homeowner. Life is pretty awesome. You can email me anytime. Learn more...

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