I’m Now on Bloglovin’!

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This post is really just an excuse to claim my url with Bloglovin’, but hey what better way to get the word out too?!

Bloglovin’ is probably one of the more popular reader aggregate sites. It allows you to keep track of all of the blogs you’d like to follow.

You can save posts to collections, much like Pinterest and go right to the post to easily comment.

Also, all readership ???? supposedly goes to your own analytics.

Are you on Bloglovin’?

Wyoming Question Mark

 

All I know for sure is that today is January 3, 2016 and I took these pictures on Wednesday September 19, 2015.

I think it’s Wyoming. There are cattle and straight highways.

We left Eastern Washington Tuesday night and then drove to Missoula to stay at the Quality Inn before heading East and than South.

Could be Wyoming? | Michelle Felt

Before the sun set we passed a lot of cows.

Could be Wyoming? | Michelle Felt

I always feel happy to see them until I realize their future. But then happy that most of their day is like this versus a stockyard.

Could be Wyoming? | Michelle Felt

Cool diagonal clouds.

Could be Wyoming? | Michelle Felt

Nice straight flat roads that are void of traffic, but not as boring as Nebraska.

Could be Wyoming? | Michelle Felt

Could be Wyoming? | Michelle Felt

The sun is sneaking away leaving us to imagine we’re in a Western with really fast horses.

Could be Wyoming? | Michelle Felt

Good night Wyoming question mark. xx

The Addictive Nature of Espresso Making

A dream came true this week. Jeremy has been pining after an espresso maker for years. It’s just never really made sense, but then one day it did and he ordered a refurbished Breville.

Happy coincidence it arrived on Christmas Eve. A nice little self-gift that doesn’t take up as much counter space as I once thought.

For the record I’ve never been a coffee drinker. I can take it or leave it. Much how I was about smoking when I considered myself a non-smoker that smoked occasionally usually socially.

When I started my first office job I would take coffee, but then quickly counteract the dark brew with milk and sugar. About 50-50.

Fast forward a few years to when I started seeing Jeremy. I practiced taking coffee black. I forget the purist reasoning behind it, but it seemed like the thing to do. Really appreciate something for what it was not what you turn it into.

My cycle with coffee goes something like this. I drink it black. I drink it with a little almond or soy milk. I drink it with a little hazelnut agave. For two or three days. Then I stop. I’m just over it.

On the fourth or fifth day I get a caffeine withdrawal headache, I take an Excedrin, and don’t touch a cup of coffee for several months.

Then I’ll have this thought that a cup of coffee sounds really good and I’ll have some again. Repeats cycle.

The headache is what really weirds me out. A physical dependance. That then turns into needing coffee to function. Isn’t it strange that some truly need it in order to feel alive and happy? Or to push a headache off to the edges?

I myself feel more cheery when I drink it.

But, I don’t like something to have that level of control over me.

A legal drug. So strange.

But what I’ve noticed in the last week since we have this gleaming caffeine machine, is that I’ve drank more ‘coffee’ than I ever have. Ever.

It’s not just the addictive nature of the coffee bean. Making and consuming espresso combines with any OCD tendencies you might have.

Have you ever made an espresso? It’s a very scientific process for something with only one ingredient. More scientific than baking.

The beans must be ground just right. Too fine or too coarse and the water won’t flow right.

Once you have the grind there’s the weight of the grind. We’ve been making double shots, because why would you waste time with a single?

We’ve figured out 14 -14.2 grams (or .3) is what we need to achieve a close to perfect shot of espresso.

Now that there’s a mound of coffee–you have to tamper it into a puck. Supposedly using 30 pounds of pressure.

What does it feel like to push 30 pounds? I’m still not sure. I know what lifting 30 pounds feels like.

I would rather know the coffee is pressed 2 cm into the portafilter.

Too much pressure and the coffee could be too compacted and again the water won’t run through. Too loose and it won’t reach pressure?? That’s a guess. I’m not really sure.

Then as if all those things weren’t enough to figure out, there’s this little gauge that tells you you failed. Try again. Soon. Like right this second. Weee! ☕️

All the scientific measuring of grams and if the pressure goes outside of the dial’s grey zone you will get 1/16th of the espresso that you should have.

Breville Espresso RangeI just brewed one where the dial shot up, started pouring right before the first screw, then pushed to the second screw almost in the danger zone. Holds breath. It stopped just past the second screw before backing up and settling between the two screws.

I wahood! Loudly.

I did it! A ‘perfect’ cup.

For me. Relatively speaking.

What did I do differently than yesterday when I got 1/16th of a cup? Did I tamper better?

The OCD drive to achieve a perfect cup means you want to make another one even though you wouldn’t normally drink another cup of coffee.

You want to see if you can win the game and make another perfect cup.

Refining the process while mentally keeping track of each step.

Chasing perfection.

xx

New Pets Available at Devils Tower

Last Thursday we visited Devils Tower on our way down to Denver.

It was my first time taking in this sacred space and I loved every minute of it.

On our way out we urgently pulled over to take in the community of prairie dogs.

Sadly and probably fortunately they are not really ‘pets’ available for sale. ????

Please don’t feed them as they are quite adept at foraging for roots, seeds, grasses, and the occasional insect.

Some interesting bits I learned about Devils Tower prairie dogs:

  • In Idaho whistle pig is slang for prairie dog
  • Prairie dogs live in colonies or ‘towns’
  • Copulation occurs in the burrows, Jeremy and I spent some time theorizing this before I verified in Wikipedia their non-voyeur status
  • Most ‘families’ or coteries have one male and up to 3 females—if there is a 2nd male, one will always be dominant over the other
  • They like having their photos taken
  • Communicate through yips and barks—kind of sounds like a dog’s squeak toy
  • Ground trampling by pronghorn and deer help maintain a ready supply of flowering plants—a prairie dog diet mainstay

 

I’m quite positive I could work for National Geographic taking photos of animals all day. Only the ones that won’t eat me though.

Devils Tower

Devils Tower | Michelle FeltThe thimble-shaped ‘cliff face’ looms over the Wyoming landscape and can be seen for miles in all directions.

Jeremy and I had several conversations supposing how it came to be.

Devils Tower | Michelle Felt

Turns out it was magma that rose through existing sedimentary layers.

It was my first time here and Jeremy’s first since he was a kid.

We walked the ~ mile around the tower so I have a comprehensive 360 degree photo tour appreciating all the angles.

Devils Tower | Michelle Felt

I think this string is prayer related. I saw few throughout the walk.

Devils Tower | Michelle Felt

Just some editing fun.

 

I love dark shadowed trees in the forefront and with sky/light/sunsets behind. I tried painting a memory of this from the Oregon coast, it turned out okay.

Jeremy climbing rocks. I wanted to, but also had my really good camera, so opted out.

Devils Tower | Michelle Felt

I love looking at and observing tree growth. It is absolutely amazing and unfathomable how long some trees have been here. I still haven’t found a source that explains tree biology in layman’s terms. Minute Physics, can you take care of this? k thanks.

Devils Tower | Michelle Felt

More tree.

Devils Tower | Michelle Felt

Devils Tower offers several impressive view points.

Devils Tower | Michelle Felt

Lush valleys with water sources, coverage, and ample light.

Devils Tower | Michelle Felt

As the magma cooled, hexagonal (and sometimes 4-, 5-, and 7-sided) columns formed. As the rock continued to cool, the vertical columns shrank in cross-section (horizontally) and cracks began to occur at 120 degree angles, generally forming compact 6-sided columns. [source]

Devils Tower | Michelle Felt

While we were there we saw 4-5 people climbing the side closest to the trailhead. According to Wikipedia only 1% of Devils Tower’s visitors climb the protruding rock face.

It was a beautiful day and hike around the formation. A nice couple thousand steps were added to our fitbits before getting back in the car and driving several more hours south.

For more history/knowledge/folklore on Devils Tower.

xx

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