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From Cheesesteak to Cheesecake: “Local” is Relative

Posted by on Aug 24, 2015 in Travel | 2 comments

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“Really?! You want to eat one of those things?”

Until at that moment, I hadn’t thought wanting to get a Philly cheesesteak in Philly was such a crazy idea. But Phillip’s uncles, who we were visiting a few years back, seemed surprised and disgusted at the thought.

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I guess when you have lived your whole life just outside of Philadelphia, you’re over the whole cheesesteak thing.

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More recently, while in line at Star Wars Celebration Anaheim, we struck up a conversation with some guys from Germany, who had already been to their bucket-list restaurant for their SoCal trip. It wasn’t a beachside seafood spot, Downtown Disney diner, trendy vegan cafe, or even an L.A. taco truck.

It was the Cheesecake Factory.

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To me, that’s part of a big ol’ chain I could eat at whenever (but haven’t for a long time). To them, it’s the hangout from The Big Bang Theory, and something you can’t experience where they’re from.

Local – and interesting – eating is relative.

Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

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Phoenix Classic Movie Nights

Posted by on Aug 18, 2015 in Travel | 0 comments

It’s not too late for summer movies! In fact, there are some interesting movie events coming up in the Phoenix/Tempe area this week that I thought I’d share.

Since the current temperature outside is officially hothothot, 2 out of 3 are indoors – the other one includes snow imported to cool things down. More of the traditional “movies in the park” nights around here happen in the spring, so I’ve listed those, as well.

Screenings Starting This Week

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1. Heist film series at FilmBar

Today through 9/3

  • Series includes True Romance, The Italian Job, The Usual Suspects
  • FilmBar also features a monthly Arizona Filmmaker Showcase (next one: 9/5) and wine tastings the 3rd Friday of every month.
  • Light rail stop: Roosevelt/Central
  • FilmBar and CityScape (see #2) are each about .5 mile from Civic Space Park and its suspended sculpture, Her Secret is Patience.

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2. Grease at CityScape

8/20 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. (Movie at 7:40 p.m.)

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3. The Last Starfighter at Pollack Tempe Cinemas

8/22 9:30pm

  • Cult Classics hosts a monthly screening of classic films year-round with giveaways and commemorative merch.
  • Each screening is announced the month before.
  • VIP ticket packages that include prints, t-shirts, etc. are also available.

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Spring events

Phoenix Film Festival (April 7-14, 2016)

Movies in the park (approximate dates based on past year):

What kind of movie events do you enjoy (in Phoenix or elsewhere)?

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A Mount Lemmon Trip

Posted by on Aug 15, 2015 in Travel | 2 comments

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Mount Lemmon doesn’t have a website.

Which, I guess, makes sense, since it’s a mountain. Although that didn’t stop Mt. Rainier or even Camelback. Maybe the difference is that they’re both the main event in their respective parks. Mt. Lemmon, on the other hand, is just one impressive part of the impressive Santa Catalina Mountains and extensive Coronado National Forest.

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It’s right outside Tucson, but, as much as Phillip and I like hanging out in that area, I’ve never been on Mt. Lemmon itself. Tucson is a 1.5 hour drive, and then it takes another hour to wind your way up the mountain, so it kind of requires its own designated trip.

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Which is happening soon, because my dad thought we (he, Mom, Phillip and I) needed to take a day trip before Phillip goes back to grad school and disappears for 9 months / can’t do anything fun / gets much busier.

We decided to go to Mt. Lemmon since my mom hasn’t been there either. We’ll drive around, picnic, and maybe take a hike. But probably a short one, because the elevation at the top is about 9,000 feet. That is significantly higher than Denver. It’s actually closer to La Paz, Bolivia’s 11,000+ feet.

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Side note: Thinking about this made me wonder about all the high-altitude places I’ve been and how they compare to each other. So I made a little, roughly-to-scale chart. Maybe I’ll do a better one later, where I actually write legibly and measure the lines. Maybe.

Side note to the side note: I’m thinking of titling my chart “Great Heights” or “Altitude is Everything” or “Elevations I Have Known and Loved” or maybe just “Places I’ve Been High.”

Really, the point is that I’m gonna be moving slow up there in the thinner air.

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Driving from the Tucson desert to the pine-covered top of Mt. Lemmon takes you through climate zones equivalent to driving from Mexico to Canada.

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Mt. Lemmon is one of the sky islands, a poetically-named category of mountains in the Southwest U.S. and Mexico that have dramatically different environments than the areas around them. They have remarkable biodiversity, including plants and animals you normally wouldn’t find in the region.

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My favorite is the coatimundi, a mammal that’s native to Central America but also inhabits the sky islands. When we went to Chiricahua National Monument (also sky island territory) a few years back, I got kind of obsessed focused on trying to spot one in the wild. It hasn’t happened yet, but, during the trip, I’ll definitely be on the lookout.

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PS I’ll be posting info from my Craft Camp presentation soon.

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Craft Camp

Posted by on Aug 10, 2015 in Craft | 4 comments

Here are a few glimpses into this weekend’s Craft Camp!

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Morning Sessions

The day started out at TechShop with coffee and pastries from GRAZ Kitchen Fresh and a keynote from Derek Neighbors of Gangplank.

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The there were talks on selling your work via ecommerce and retail, product photography, and crafting for good (to benefit charity, etc.).

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Kelli, Kitty, and I did our panel on blogging for crafters, and I’ll be posting links and resources from that later this week soon.

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In between the morning and afternoon sessions, a bunch of us went over to ChopShop for lunch.

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Afternoon Session

The afternoon was open crafting and networking time at Gangplank with a supply swap and wine and cheese hummus reception.

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Eileen showed past CraftHack projects, Anne knitted, Lisa spun yarn on her portable spinning wheel (!), and Jennifer demonstrated how to use Japanese water brush for watercolor.

Everyone else just hung out and chatted, so it was a nice way to wrap up the day.

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Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

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10 hours to sleep, eat, and sightsee: Indianapolis 2nd lap

Posted by on Aug 6, 2015 in Travel | 0 comments

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The Mariott shuttle we had almost missed drove its very important flight crew passengers to the Courtyard Indianapolis Airport hotel and then took us down the street to the Fairfield Inn & Suites.

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The lobby had a trendy little sitting area off to one side and a front desk with a rad goldfish cracker dispenser. When we checked in, the night clerk told us they’d upgraded our room. Nice but unnecessary, since we really just needed to crash. I was too tired by that time to worry about the details, though.

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Our unnecessarily nice room had the same type of bold-patterned decor as the lobby. Beyond the coffee shelf, couch, and desk was what you’re really looking for after a long day of travel stuff: a comfortable bed.

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In the morning (the actual morning, not our 2am check-in time, which only counts as “morning” on a technicality), we got our receipt and realized they charged us extra for the unrequested upgrade. Phillip was able to get it all sorted out with the goldfish desk. So it wasn’t a big deal in an otherwise good stay. I only bring it up to say this is why I double check everything.

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Breakfast with Champions

Apparently, flight crews stay at the Courtyard; Little Leaguers stay at the Fairfield. Across the lobby from the goldfish desk was the breakfast buffet, and a few tables overflowing with 12-year-old boys in light blue baseball uniforms.

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A couple of them ended up joining our table. They were in town for a tournament. We asked one of the boys what his goal was for the game that day, while he picked at the waffle his mom had stopped by to cut for him. He matter-of-factly answered, “hit three home runs.” His friend said the same. Gotta love big dreamers.

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Squaring Up

While I finished getting ready, Phillip took the shuttle back to the airport to pick up our rental car. We managed to get loaded up and checked out with an hour or so to kill. Which is basically how we ended up in Fountain Square. It looked interesting, was on the way, and it happened to be the day of the annual Fountain Square Music Festival.

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Neighborhoods have their own circadian rhythms. This one felt like it was still yawning and stretching and blinking in the sunlight. With the exception of a couple restaurants, most of the square was closed when we were there. The historic theater stood quiet with a lone employee hosing off the front sidewalk. The festival hadn’t started yet, and a handful of people were hanging banners and setting up. The place would probably be hopping in a couple of hours.

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In the meantime, we had a pleasant walk among the historic buildings with vintagey signs and street art sprinkled in, listening to one of the bands warming up over the rhythmic splash of the fountain before getting back in the car and heading for Anderson.

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– More info –

Fountain Square:

Our Indiana (Heartlandiana) trip

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DIY Quilling Tool

Posted by on Aug 3, 2015 in Craft | 6 comments

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Sometimes you have to get creative to get creative. Like with our monthly CraftHack meetups – they’re free, so that pushes us to be resourceful when it comes to providing materials and supplies.

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Robin Corey volunteered to do last month’s demo on paper quilling, a technique that involves winding strips of paper around a tool to get spiral shapes.

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While you can buy a quilling tool for around 8 bucks, ordering 20 for a free class would get pretty pricey.

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She found a super solution buried in her Pinterest boards: make your own from a cork and a tapestry needle. Basically, stick the needle in the center of the cork and glue it, cut off the top with wire cutters, file any sharp edges, and you have a super inexpensive tool that makes winding strips of paper for quilling easy.

She made about 20 of them for less than the cost of buying just one, and we all got to take one home for future projects.

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PS If you live in Phoenix and like to make stuff, make sure you’re planning to come to Craft Camp this Saturday!

Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

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