16 December 2014

Jamie Oliver's Granola, kinda

To make well toasted granola, mix granola on pan during the baking process.

To make chunky granola, use enough sticky liquid (syrups, etc) to hold the oats together, and bake without stirring.  Break up the resulting pile by hand into the appropriate sizes.

Start with your well spread out granola, and bake for 5-10 minutes.

 Move the outer edges into the middle with a spoon.

 Push the granola to the edges, smooth out the pan contents, and bake again.

Add in dried fruit, if you wish, after the granola has baked.

Mix the fruit and transfer to a storage container.

Jaime Oliver Granola
200 g mixed nuts (about 1 cup)
400 g rolled or jumbo oats (about 4 cups)
100 g pumpkin or sunflower seeds (or shredded coconut) (about 1 cup)
400 g runny honey(/agave/maple) (and oil mix) (about a cup)


My first repeat granola recipe is loosely based on Jamie Oliver's Granola recipe above.

I chop my nuts, generally a mixture of pecan, walnut, and filbert (chop filberts first as they are a harder nut) into small-ish pieces using my blender. 

I may add spices, in a teaspoon amount: pumpkin pie, cinnamon, etc.

I replace some of the oats with dried cranberries, preferring them over raisins.

And I cut way down on the sweetness.  I use about 40 grams of syrup (about 2 Tbsp) and about the same amount of fat (oil).

Bake at 350F for 30 minutes or so, and mix every 5-10 minutes during baking period.

It is rather amazing how quick and easy granola is to make.  I really need to compare homemade to store bought prices.

Travel Needs


When I travel (and even when I go about my everyday), I tend to think to myself, "Kira, what do you need to make this experience better/easier/complete?"

I quickly jot down my revelations (thank you wunderlist app), or I will forget them.

On my California trip, I realized I need a travel purse/backpack.  I'd rather carry in a backpack form, but I do not want to be stuck with a backpack for the entire trip.  Therefore, I needed a quick-change artist purse.

Enter the Sherpani Soleil lightweight tote.  Not perfect, but utterly suitable for my needs.

V8884, Misses' Coat and Belt
Vogue 8884

V8346, Misses' Coat
Vogue 8346

In Yellowstone, I discovered that I need a wintery coat that can withstand: cold, wind, and rain.  And it needs to completely cover my bum.  Two thin-ish layers of clothes on my lower half did not keep me warm enough in 30 F degree weather (0 C) while the wind blew strands of my hair into the next state.  I spent several hours cold and uncomfortable while on this trip.

For travel, do I want something shorter?  Or longer?

To be discovered ...

V7881, Misses'/Misses' Petite Pants
Vogue 7881

Along with the above, lined pants would be great for cold weather adventure.  I've flirted with making flannel-lined pants before, and the result was not ... useable.  However, I'm ready to tackle them again.

Flannel-lined pants will need to be looser than typical, but you still do not want a great deal of "design elements" around the waistband.  Perhaps something along the lines of Claire Shaeffer's pattern?

To be made ...

Softstar Moc3 RunAmoc

Asolo Athena

And I must bring running shoes (and the basics of running gear), for each trip.  Running may be the only chance I have to push my cardiovascular system while out of town.  I will need to balance between space considerations and weight, as well as versatility.  I rarely wear athletic shoes if I'm not actually being athletic.

Shopping and city gawking: sandals or ballerina flats.

Hiking: sandals or ballerina flats.  (Although, for a technical trail I will bring running shoes.)

Hanging around at a rental: barefoot.

As a result, my carry-on usually has, you will be shocked, sandals and ballerina flats.  Period.

I may finally breakdown and buy a pair of Soft Star Shoes Moc3 RunAmoc slip-ons.  It's a safe bet they would not take up much room!  But they really aren't wear anywhere else shoes, are they?

To be decided ...

Cold weather kinda throws a monkey-wrench in the works.  I know some people wear their sandals in winter (Hello Mom!), but I am not one of those.  My toes get cold.

Being that Yellowstone would bring freezing temps and rain/snow into my little world, I knew I needed hiking boots that covered my ankles, but still gave me some ground feedback (I am sticking with minimal in shoes).  I ordered several items from Merrell and other companies, but the ground feedback was non-existent and the foot pans far too rigid to make me happy for any length of time.

Purchased Asolo Athena.  Kept Asolo Athena.  Tramped throughout Yellowstone in Asolo Athena.

14 December 2014

Day 18 - Oregon and Yellowstone Trip


Leave extra early to drive through the parks (Yellowstone and Tetons) as we are airport bound.

We see a coyote on the road!  Being that it was full dark, there was no possibility of a photo.


It is lovely to observe the sky change with sunrise and light reflecting from the river and streams.

What may have been 5 bison bedded down for the night were glimpsed in the headlights.

We saw a herd of Elk in a field, others sleeping in, while a few were getting an early breakfast.

We see a lot of elk along this drive.  Even crossing a waterway, brrrrrrr!

Flight from Jackson to Denver uneventful, the pilot came on to explain mountain air currents and the need to pay attention to the safety belt lights.  :)

The people who work in the Jackson Whole airport are kind and helpful.  Very different compared to a typical IAH experience.

One of the gals shared with me (after I queried) that very few people have never flown before.  She more commonly runs into discomfort with the kiosks, especially among older passengers.

Our flight to Houston is delayed by 2 hours.  My ability to get my pups tonight is dwindling.  I want my babies!!!

Our plane arrived from Narita, Japan which arrived from LA.  Both flights were delayed by 2 hours.  They have known for well over a day that delays were inevitable, but United chose not to share with or prepare their customers.  Very poor information dissemination on their part!  This irks me.

Arrive home, and head out to lovely pup sitter to retrieve my furry children.  Time to plan our next trip.  :)

Day 17 - Oregon and Yellowstone Trip

The Mud Volcano area is our main goal today.  Not all the vents are recordable from the trails, so some are just observed or heard; never to be shared in photographs or video.
We were discussing channel widths and how the water volume must change with time.  I said, "And remember, there's no telling how many Spring springs spring up with snow melt."

How's that for three different meanings of the same word in the same sentence!  :)  Yes, I patted myself upon the back.

Lunch stop at Nez Perce Picnic Area, easily the nicest stop we've made due to distance from the road.  For a while, we felt like the only people in the park.

My Asolo Athena hiking boots seem to have a tread pattern that encourages self-cleaning.  While Himself's Lowa Hiking Boots with super aggressive treads pick up mud with ease, my Athena's do not appear to have the same mud attraction.  Whether this is due to tread, weight, or something else entirely keeps my thoughts occupied for a time.

People lose all brain power while driving along and seeing large animals OR seeing two or more cars pulled over and assuming there's large critters nearby so they slow down to look ... and back up traffic.

And we joined the queue because ... 

We saw a Grizzly Bear!  He was so incredibly cute!  And he had two ravens hanging out with him.  Definitely a highlight of the trip!  Awesome!!!

I got a bit teary-eyed.  I basked in his presence.

A slightly hysterical woman hanging with a photographer went racing back to her car to get her bear spray because, "They can run fast and they are hungry."

I agree they can run fast, but only for a sprint.  And they aren't hungry, not yet.  They are packing on poundage anticipating winter.

Finally, Mr. Grizzly (sex is a guess) was rolling in the grass, digging up roots, and stretching out in the sun.  And he had two raven buddies hanging out close by.  In other words, we had no reason to fear him and needed only to respectfully observe his quiet afternoon from a distance.

I think the park has successfully instilled "bear fear" into the visiting population.  

I share the opinion with himself that bears are very like big dogs.  

Head to miniaturized "Grand Canton of Yellowstone" ... we would not make a specific drive for it, but since we are in the area ...

The upper and lower falls, as well as the canyon are more interesting than we anticipated.  And the light is such that all our photos of the area look like paintings.

A common call in the vehicle is "buffalo butt," since, well, this is the vast majority of photo opportunities.

It has been neat to see the fire affected areas, noting the dense growth of young pines.  I'm impressed by what I see if park mgmt.  However, we did overhear one park employee, whom we dubbed Ranger Rick, having a bit of a meltdown at the entrance (I believe it was our second or third day).  When we ran into him again at the historical center, I had to hide my grin.

Day 16 - Oregon and Yellowstone Trip

Himself slept in this morning, so I went downstairs, made some oatmeal, and read on my eReader.  While washing my hands at the kitchen sink, I thrilled to watch a fox trotting by, focused on fox business!  How cool.  This is what I want to see every morning!!!  (No photo, unfortunately ... that fox was through the yard quickly and silently.)

He or she had a beautiful red coat and a full, healthy tail.  Now I just need a wolf sighting to make my canid Yellowstone experience complete!

The trip is wearing on himself, who naps for much of the morning.  I've gotten by with naps between Yellowstone sites.  He's done all the driving.

We are going to see Guardians of the Galaxy and Titans of the Ice Age at the IMAX theater.  There's is not much else in West Yellowstone to tempt us.

Visit Yellowstone Historic Center, it tells the story of the development of travel to and from Yellowstone, as well as opening up mail service and winter activities.  I appreciated this little museum, and had my picture taken with the bears.  Taxidermied animals always make me sad, I acknowledge their usefulness as a teaching tool, but my first impression is always of waste.  (I dislike fur coats, etc. for the same reason.)

I suppose this is our second and third bear sighting of our Yellowstone trip?  :)

However, I support law abiding, non-poaching hunters.  

Day 15 - Oregon and Yellowstone Trip

19 degrees this morning

Goals for day:
Mud Volcano Area
Fountain Paint Pot

Start with:
Biscuit Basin including the Sapphire Pool

Midway Geyser Basin and Grand Prismatic Spring

Firehole Lake Drive - we really like this drive because buses are not allowed.  There are plenty of people driving by, but you can still get a geyser to yourself if you will wait around for the lulls.

Some of the panoramas we've made give you just the barest hint of the vast amounts of space Yellowstone occupies.  This visit makes me wonder what the Crater Lake region of Oregon looks like, and whether it is part of volcanic ancestors of this system (upon further research, the answer is no).  We will experience it ourselves one day.  I want to compare the regions.

White Cone fountains just as we are ready to head out, we'd been waiting for an hour because we had seen it erupt previously from Great Fountain Geyser.  I noticed it first, himself was so excited about his Great Fountain Geyser photos, I had to point out White Cone Fountain in the distance. 

We had an hour long relationship with an awesome raven at Nez Perce Picnic Area.  Such an amazing experience to bask in their presence.   These are some incredibly smart birds!

They are very used to being fed, which is sad.  How much harder do we make winter for them?


On to Fountain Paint Pots - 
Lovely mudpots.  We will probably return tomorrow for more video.

I made video of a buffalo loving upon a small pine tree ... the tree will never be the same again.  I wonder if he was scent marking?  In my mind predators scent mark, but buffalo have a size that belies their typical characterization in the animal kingdom.  (Granted, he could have been marking in anticipation of mating, but this is the wrong time of the year ... maybe he was just scratching an itch.)

Day 14 - Oregon and Yellowstone

Wake up early to begin our clock reset before arriving home.

Plan for the day, visit these areas:
Old Faithful
Mud Volcano Area
Grand Prismatic Spring in Midway Geyser Basin
Sapphire Pool in Biscuit Basin
Fountain Paint Pot

Go dump trash out of bag in dumpster a couple blocks away as indicated in our very old directions in the rental ... it has not been updated in a while.  Keep bag.

Pass a massive herd of buffalo on our way to Old Faithful!  A bunch of calves with their mothers.  So incredibly cool.  And it was great to see traffic slowing waaaaay down for them.

And the rangers really seem to keep a close eye on their charges, protecting them from thoughtless humans.  Great job ladies and gents!

We arrive at Old Faithful some 30 minutes after the last eruption.  It is cold (in the 30s) and windy.  We seek shelter to await the next eruption.  Himself is so sweet to play windbreak for me.  I'm hopping around in an attempt to keep warm, but this was probably the chilliest experience on vacation.  It was the wind.

A website shows 10:53 and 12:33 estimated eruptions for Old Faithful.  I think it is pretty interesting that they have created a calculation that uses the time and duration of Old Faithful's eruptions to guesstimate the next two (as far out as their calculation carries them).

We were present for the 10:53 eruption, and it was neat to watch Old Faithful erupt with a couple hundred other visitors.  What was sad is how many turned away to look at pictures they had taken even before the geyser finished!  :(

We did not take any photos of Old Faithful, we simply experienced the show.

We wander through the visitor's center, grab a snack at the car (a local raven kept us thoroughly entertained!), and then return for OF's 12:33-ish eruption.  This one had a lot more teasers before it finally erupted, and we viewed the spectacle from a different direction.

I grab another quick snack and we head to several other geyser basins within driving distance.  

Somewhere between 3 and 4 miles walked today, and a bunch of Popsicle mimicry.  Ei yay yay.  I need warmer clothing for standing around in 30 degree weather.  Something with greater bum coverage preferable.  

We saw a coyote on one of our walks, both as we were coming and returning along a bike path.  He/She was so fun to watch.  On our return walk, we saw hunting behavior.  Fox-like jumping and pouncing occurred way off in the distance.  I could have watched all day.

Some people do not understand the concept "pull off the road to look at wildlife."  A couple in-duh-viduals will stop dead in the middle of the road.  Even a bus!

On the return drive we observe a raven grasping a mushroom in its beak.  Too early for nesting material, maybe food?  Himself mentions a shamanic ritual, so further discussion devolves into anthropomorphic hilarity.

Day 13 - Oregon and Yellowstone Trip

The pans are pretty torn up.

The drive into the "Lazy Acres ranch," Bear Rd, and Bull Elk is pretty torn up, so prepare for a rough road if you plan to rent "Aspen House."  In fact, prepare for a pothole minefield.

I would not take a small car or any vehicle you love through it.

Cut up carrots, an apple, and an orange for eating today.

We arrive to hike the remainder of Norris Geyser trails.  There are snow flurries falling as we head out, the temp is 35.

People cannot park.  What do you mean park parallel between the white lines?  Nonsense!

Snow falls pretty constantly on our hike.  We get to watch and photograph some awesome thermal features.  2 miles of trails at Norris today.

On our way back, we once again run into who we will dub as "the world's biggest raven."  This little dude appears VERY well fed!  He is so fat, I wonder whether he can still fly.  Ha!!!

The temp is 40 when we return to the car.

Himself pulls up to Gibbons Meadow for lunch.  At 38 degrees (3.3 C) I just do not have the clothing to handle lunch in the out of doors.  Especially since this consists of not moving much.  If lunch consisted of hiking while eating, I would be fine temperature wise.

I return to the truck while he cooks soup.  

On to Artists Paintpots, probably another mile of hiking.

This is a fun area, complete with burbling mudpots to charm the kids.  It snows/sleets upon us at we watch in fascination.

I take of video of himself photographing pots.

Then to Monument Geyser Basin Trail.  Supposed to be moderate to challenging and 0.9 to 1.0 miles one way.  In reality, 800 ft elevation change, and 2.5 miles round trip.  Not to mention a starting elevation of around 8000 ft.  This one wore us out, my hip flexors are going to feel it tomorrow.  Again, another snow/sleet combo came down upon us.


Upon seeing a bear etched into the sand on the Monument trail, I excitedly text family about our "bear sighting."  Of course, I did not send the picture until after sending the text.  Of course.

Then to Gibbon Falls, since we will not be back this direction.  We see another large raven, but not as big as the dude at Norris.

5 pm we start heading back, so much for my request that we head back earlier tonight than last night.

We saw more elk, buffalo, and birds in the park today.

Clothes washing ahead.

We have stayed in a bunch of VRBO rentals and a few AirBnB places.  We have never run into a home with amenities so minimally included.  It appears more like a hunting cabin you use a couple times a year rather than a welcoming rental you want renters to enjoy.  

No good place to hang clothes, a dinky little waiter holder area is not large enough. 

Outside light is dinky and practically useless.  It illuminated the loft much more than the outside. (There is a flood light, but it is not working.)

The shower wand and holder are not matched, so the wand is precariously placed in the holder.

The detergent used on towels and sheets is STRONGLY perfumed and will irritate anyone with chemical sensitivities.  

The TV is crippled at TV14, parental lockout active. Anything higher than labeled "children programming 14 and under" will not play.  This does not make for very interesting viewing.  I've emailed twice, no response.  How many channels do not work?  

Over 75 attempts have been made to clear this lockout.

There are no local channels available.

Like over 50% of the properties we've stayed at, the non-stick pans are non-stick in name only.  My other half says, "Come on property owners/managers, would you want to utilize these?"

The wall clock does not hold the appropriate time.  Is the battery dying?

There's a DVD player, but no DVDs to play.

The sliding glass door screen does not move freely, but is rather stuck.  We fear damaging the screen should we attempt movement.

The sink drips, and the pedestal sink in the bathroom is constantly surrounded by a ring of water.  Is this left over from the leaking toilet?  Or something else entirely?  I never find the source of the water.

The good: Plenty of toilet paper.
Two bedside tables for loft master.
The towels are nice.
The beds are fairly comfortable.
Great location.
On demand hit water heater gets a thumbs up!