Friday, June 29, 2012

{red, white and blue}

Can you believe it's almost July? June went by so quickly! And since Portland is known for having "June-uary" days throughout the month, I'm even more excited for July because it finally means summer is here!
Granted, in the mountains the snow will stick around until early August, but in the valley, the sun starts shining on July 5 (exactly) and won't let up until September, or even October. I can't wait!

In the spirit of the upcoming July 4 holiday (and because my sister is coming in town!) I am taking a two week vacation from blogging. I'll miss you guys, but I promise I'll have fun things to share when I get back, and it's been so long since I've had a good vacation! Actually, I only have (officially) four days off work, but my sister is here the whole time, and I need to clean the house like whoa, so I'm taking some extra days.

I will see you soon. In the meantime, enjoy this Etsy finds treasury I created for the Fourth of July, and have a great holiday!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

{zucchini brownies}

By theI know, I know. Zucchini brownies... gross, right? But I promise if I didn't tell you these had zucchini in them, you'd never know. Intrigued? So was I.

Do you ever do that thing where you see a recipe that you think sounds good, so you dive right in without really looking at the recipe? I do that all the time. As long as I have the ingredients on hand, I'll totally be half-way through a recipe when suddenly I'm going,
"Wait, this calls for HOW much sugar?!" or
"Holy... two sticks of butter!! What the crap!"
But by then I'm in too deep and can't back down. (Goonies never say die!)

So, I thought making brownies that called for zucchini as a main ingredient was totally legit and possibly even healthy. Therefore, I barely even glanced at the other ingredients.
Possibly a mistake.
These brownies, while sinfully delicious, are also packed with sugar and oil and butter, and once again I was half-way through making them before seeing the exact amounts. (Whoops.)
Still, I can't deny they're yummy and you'll want to eat the whole pan in one sitting.
You have been warned.

{zucchini brownies}

½ cup vegetable oil (I wonder if I could try applesauce as a substitute next time?)
1 ½ cups white sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups zucchini (shredded)

Chocolate Frosting-

6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ cup margarine
2 cups confectioners sugar
½ cup milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish.

In a large bowl mix together oil, sugar and vanilla extract until blended.
In another bowl combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. A little at a time stir into the sugar mixture. Mix in the zucchini. (The batter will be dry and crumbly at this point.)

By the way, as I was shredding up my zucchini, I pulled two of them out of this week's food drop and was halfway through the second one when I realized it wasn't a zucchini, but a cucumber. Oops... well played, cucumber. Well played.

Spread the mixture evenly into the prepared baking dish. You may have to pat it down. It looks kind of strange at this point, but it does eventually make brownies, so hang in there!

Place into the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. It's difficult to tell when they are done, but I took mine out when I touched the top of them and they felt a little spongey. At 20 minutes the tops of the brownies still caved in a little when prodded, so I left them in a little longer.

To make the frosting: In a small saucepan over low heat melt together the cocoa powder and margarine. Set aside to cool. In a medium bowl blend confectioner’s sugar, milk, and vanilla extract. Stir in the margarine/cocoa mixture.

Spread over cooled brownies and cut into squares.

By the way, I recommend putting the brownie pan in the fridge for a few hours. It helps the frosting to harden and makes them much easier to cut into squares.

The zucchini smells weird when the brownies are baking, but once they're cool, you can't even taste it. (Tanner even ate some, and we all know how he hates green things.)
In fact, you'll probably be so bowled over by the amount of sugar in these things that you'll completely forget that there are two whole cups of veggies in there, too.
Did someone say these were healthy brownies? Yeah.... about that....

I also would advise against eating these right before bed. I may or may not have done this three nights in a row. I don't recommend it. ;)

Monday, June 25, 2012

{horsethief lake camping}

Last week, Tanner surprised me with a car camping trip.

Now, Tanner knows I hate surprises (HATE them with an OCD passion, people) but for some reason he still finds it necessary to spring stuff on me. For spontaneous dinners or nights out, this can be fine, but for two-day overnight events, I go into a bit of a mental breakdown.

Me: "So, are you going to tell me where we're going?"
Tanner: "Nope."
Me: "I haven't really seen you planning anything... Are you sure you don't need any help?"
Tanner: "No, I have it taken care of."
Me: "But we're leaving tomorrow, and we haven't packed yet..."
Tanner: "I'm not worried about it."
Me: "But I don't know what to bring!"
Tanner: "It sounds like you need to bring a good attitude."
Me: .... "very funny."

Though it gave me a minor mental complex, he did manage to pull off organizing a car-camping trip for us last week with two whole days of festivities. And despite that I couldn't plan obsessively for it beforehand, I have to admit he did a pretty good job, in the long run. Well done, Tanner. I hoped you enjoyed it, because that was your one surprise for the year. :)

Early Wednesday morning (and by "early" I mean "noon") we set off into the Gorge and found ourselves on the Washington side of it, at a small state park called Horsethief Lake. After days of rain, we were graced with two days of sunshine and 80 degree weather with a gentle breeze -- I couldn't have planned it better, myself!

The topography an hour outside of Portland is nothing like it is in the green, rainy mist of the valley. Our trip was very similar to our Deschutes backpacking trip -- everything there was hot, arid, and sun-blasted, looking so similar to the rocky terrain of Arizona or Utah that I had to keep reminding myself that I was not in the southwest.

We set up our camp a short distance from where we parked. This was abnormally strange for me, because what I call a "fun" camping trip generally consists of hiking to the top of a 6,000 foot mountain for 30 miles loaded under the weight of a 40 pound pack for five days straight. Sounds awesome, right?

In fact, it's been so long since we've been car camping that most of our gear is backpacking gear -- it was kind of humorous to set up our huge picnic table with a tiny stove and pot while our neighbors were dressed to the nines in lanterns, picnic blankets, chairs, and a giant tent.
We did, at least, borrow something bigger than our usual 2-person tent, and it was kind of nice to have so much room to lounge around!

For the day's activity, we went to a nearby art museum (the Native American art was fascinating) and enjoyed the view of the Gorge from its expansive porch. Then we found a little spot called "Stonehenge" (you didn't realize Stonehenge was in Washington, did you??) and the view from there was even better, so of course I took 58735489 photos, and now you get to enjoy all of them. ;)

Back at the campsite that evening, I lay down in my hammock to "test it out" and got out of it four hours later. Reading in a hammock in perfect weather is just heaven.
Then at sunset (at 9:00 pm, I might add!) as I was taking some photos around the campsite, I suddenly got the idea that we should drive back out to Stonehenge and get some evening shots of the Gorge. Since it was a 15 minute drive, we raced our car to get there in time before the sun disappeared. We made it -- barely -- and stayed until 10 pm as the sun still lingered on the hills. Summer in the north rocks!

The next day we went on a hike in the Gorge. What started out as a 1/2 mile "jaunt" turned into a 6 mile hike (straight uphill) where we got lost half-way through and had to keep asking hikers nearby where we were going. It wasn't promising when a lot of them responded with, "I think you're only half-way through... there's a lot more uphill" or, "I've been on this hike for 2.5 hours, now!"

Eventually we did find our way out of the trail and back to our car, a bit dirtier and more sore than when we started. We treated ourselves to an early dinner out and drove home, admiring the views on the way back.

I kept pointing out trailheads of future hikes I wanted to go on, and spotted the Dog Mountain sign whizzing past me as we drove.

I said, "I hear Dog Mountain is a good one. It's supposed to be a difficult hike, but the wildflowers and views are supposed to be well worth the effort. I've been meaning to do it for a while, now. Do you want to go?"
"Sorry," said Tanner. "You lost me at 'difficult hike.'"

Friday, June 22, 2012

{diy: wind up butterflies}

While hunting for a fun spring DIY project, I stumbled across {this adorable post} about how to make wind-up butterflies to tuck into a greeting card, and I couldn't resist making some of my own. With summer nipping at our toes, who can help but fondly gaze at beautiful rhodedendrons and colorful butterflies?

Not to mention how hilarious it would be for these to pop out of a card and scare the shit out of someone. :)

{wind up butterflies}

Supplies needed:

Pliers (needle nose work best)
One large paperclip (or about 5.5" of wire)
One small paperclip (or about 4.5" of wire)
A small rubberband or extra small hairtie
Colored paper, pens, pencils, etc for decorating

Steps (see below for photos)
1. Unbend the large paperclip by hand or with pliers
2. Bend large paperclip in half
3. Wrap the center of the wire around a pencil end to create a loop
4. Fold the "legs" of the paperclip vertically down, bending the center loop up so it is perpendicular to the legs

5. Bend the ends of the large paperclip up with the pliers
6. Make little hooks on each of the ends of the paperclip (this is the body of the butterfly)
7. With the small paperclip, unbend and make a loop as in step #3
8. Pinch the loop in an open position with the legs sticking out to either side (these are the upper wings of the butterfly)

Now thread your hairtie or rubberband through the pinched circle of the smaller paperclip and insert through the loop of the bigger paperclip, attaching it in place at the bottom on the loops.

Note: as you can see above, I had to loop my rubberband a few extra times in order to make it short enough to stretch tightly. You want a rather small rubberband for this project to work.

Now trace wings onto colored paper and cut out.

Tape the wings to your paperclip body with tape and decorate as you see fit!

With your forefinger, spin the top paperclip in circles until the rubberband is tightly wound (but take care not to bend your wire)

Tuck your butterfly carefully into a card to send to someone, or let it fly! :)

Have fun making a whole rabble of butterflies!!

P.S.- I bet you didn't know that the collective noun for butterflies was rabble. Isn't that just darling? My other favorite collective nouns include a parliament of owls, a murder of crows, a charm of hummingbirds and a murmuration of starlings. Birds get all the best ones. Isn't English just so poetic?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

{darkroom and dearly goes viral}

Well, my little blog has had a fun couple of days this week!

Apparently, on one slow and rainy day this weekend, someone decided to pin my post about {organizing your t-shirt drawer} on Pinterest. And then someone else saw it, thought it was cool, and pinned it, too. And then someone else pinned that. And again... and again.... and, you get the picture.

And then I signed in to Blogger on Saturday all non-nonchalantly and wondered why my stats counter looked all weird. Usually it has this graph line that goes up and down in modest numbers, but this time it looked like a mountain peak.

So I thought, "well, obviously Blogger stats is broken."
So I signed into Google Analytics and saw this:

And I was like, "holy crap, 804 people in one day? THAT'S THE BIGGEST NUMBER I'VE EVER SEEN." (I tend to exaggerate sometimes.)

Then I did a funny little victory dance and laughed and punched the air all karate-like and said, "WOO-HOO!" But we all know how Pinterest is... after a day people go back to pinning stuff about working out and ice cream sundaes and Ryan Gosling. So I didn't think much of it.

And then on Sunday my stats counter looked like this:

And I said: "AHHHHHHHHHHH! 9,407!"
followed by: "wow, who knew there were so many Pinterest lovers in Texas?"
(It would not have been my first guess.)

Because I was curious, I went onto Pinterest and tried to figure out exactly what was going on, here. The first thing I saw was an acquaintance of mine who had pinned my post from someone totally random. And that someone random had 300,000 followers and it had been pinned by other people 240 times. (my favorite pin comment called the t-shirt folding thing a "freaking magical idea" haha) And that was just one pin. There was a link to "other pins by Darkroom and Dearly" and it sent me {here}, where there were hundreds more...

That's when I knew I had gone PINTEREST VIRAL.

Because then Monday looked like this:

Yeah. That's 20,000. HOLLA. :)

And here's my week via Blogger stats (notice that everything before the 16th doesn't even register on the chart anymore.....):

So... um... my point here is.... I guess I should introduce myself to all you 30,000+ people who have recently stumbled upon my blog.  HELLO 30,000 PEOPLE! Thanks for being such good Pinterest connoisseurs and stalking my DIY posts and leaving me little notes and comments. It makes me feel special. And I like that I have crafty stalkers, because you're way handier with colored paper and a pair of scissors than regular stalkers. (They suck at scrapbooking.)

Also, it's way easier to stalk me through these sites (you know you want to.)
Or you can read a little more about me {here.}
See you Friday! Since you all seem to love DIY crafts so much, I've got another fun one planned. Stay tuned! :)
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