Tips for Bending Wood Using Microwave Oven

 

One method for quickly adding heat and moisture to small pieces of wood is to use a microwave oven. As long as the wood and a means of keeping the wood moist can fit into the oven, this is an extremely efficient method for softening wood. Through experimentation, I have found there are several things to take into consideration when steaming wood in a microwave oven.

 

A microwave oven works by focusing tightly shaped radio waves on the water molecules within whatever is placed inside the oven. The molecules become slightly agitated and as a result, they give off heat. A dried piece of wood will heat up quickly when placed into the oven because it still contains enough water molecules to create heat. When the wood is removed, it is very hot, but it dries out very quickly because the water molecules have broken down and so they easily evaporate. This process actually makes a microwave oven a good tool for drying small pieces of wood for turning and other small projects – but only if the moisture content is lowered slowly enough to prevent cracking.

To make the microwave useful for bending, you need to add some moisture to the equation, just as you do when steaming wood. There only needs to be enough water present to surround the wood. Any extra water will just slow down the process. Wood can be wrapped in a soaking wet rag or placed in a shallow microwave-safe bowl with just enough water to cover the wood. There is no set time for heating wood in a microwave, so a little trial and error will be needed. Usually 5 to 10 minutes will do the trick. Keep a close eye on the progress, because if all of the water evaporates …

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

Hooray!  So I finally made something seasonal (aside from kabocha squash on the reg.) and something other than tacos.  My goal is to try and cook every Sunday, since I’ve been taking that as my rest day, and I pretty much don’t do anything else…we’ll see how that plays out.  For now, enjoy these fall flavors!

 

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash with Spinach, Apple and Sausage
Serves 4
INGREDIENTS:
2 acorn squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
2 cups water
1 cup quinoa
6-8 thin Italian sausage links
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
2 cup spinach, chopped
1 apple, finely diced
½ cup walnuts, chopped
DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Drizzle acorn squash halves with olive oil, salt & pepper. Place cut side down and roast for approximately 25 min.
  2. Flip over the acorn squash and cook for approximately 15 more minutes or the edges are golden brown and the flesh is tender.
  3. As the squash is cooking, bring the water to a boil in a medium pot. Stir in the quinoa, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. While the quinoa is cooking, heat a saucepan over medium heat.  Cook sausage links for 5 minutes on each side, until browned and thoroughly cooked.
  5. Separately, whisk the olive oil, maple syrup, and apple cider vinegar is a small bowl. Set aside.
  6. Chop the spinach, apples and walnuts.  Set aside.
  7. When the quinoa is done, pour the quinoa into a large bowl.  Mix in the spinach (so it wilts down) and allow the mixture to cool completely.  Stir periodically.
  8. Once cool, pour the dressing over the quinoa, add sausage and apples, and stir.
  9. Once the squash is done, fill each half acorn with a slightly heaping portion of

Camp the Coast: Florence, OR

The landscape of the Oregon Coast is one of my favorites, with the rocky forest that meets the sea. It remains comparatively untouched to the California coast–sparsely populated and not impacted by houses brimming the cliffs.

Florence, OR – Immediately west from Eugene. Known for encompassing part of the Oregon Sand Dunes (largest expanse of coastal sand dunes in North America).

 

Where we stayed – Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park. This campground has 7 first-come, first-served sites. Tucked on the east side of Highway 101, our campsite was under the ultimate tree canopy (to the point where we had to watch for falling branches). Even though we were in the center of some campsites, we felt completely secluded (my kind of camping!). 3 tents fit perfectly in this space, and we probably could have fit a few more.

 

Where we hiked – Valley Trail to Hobbit Trail/Heceta Head Trail, accessible from the Carl G. Washburne Campground. First you’ll come across Hobbit Trail, that will take you down through a vine canopy to the beach. If you go back and continue on the trail further, you’ll experience sweeping views of the Oregon Coast through towering trees. Around 2 miles you’ll make it to the Heceta Head Lighthouse and Heceta Head Beach. We made this a one-way trek and met the boys who were surfing at Heceta Head Beach.

 

 …

Where to Camp in Joshua Tree

Where do you camp when all the campgrounds are full in Joshua Tree?

With no real plans except for a few campsites in mind (e.g. White Tank, Jumbo Rocks) Kevin and I arrived at Joshua Tree National Park late on Saturday afternoon to a full park.

We were informed that the only campground with open sites was Cottonwood.  However, Cottonwood was 30 miles away within the park, basically at the South entrance/exit.  So instead, we decided to weigh our options and scout out the backcountry sites.

I had read of BLM (Bureau of Land Management) camping which is free and primitive camping outside the National Park (and from what I’ve read quite desolate).  However, we found out that you can do dispersement camping (pack-in, pack-out) at designated Backcountry Boards inside the park.  These are located throughout the park (look on the map for the blue B’s).  All you need to do is find the Backcountry Board, and fill out a free permit that basically provides the information for your car (so you can park overnight) and some accountability for yourself going out there.  The only real restriction to backcountry camping is that you must be 1 mile from the road and 500 ft from any trails.

After driving through the White Tank campground and realizing that even though all of the sites are divided by huge boulders, there is still a lack of privacy.  Going off the grid was exactly what we both wanted, needed and liked (camping is all about isolation!).  We ended up using the Twin Tanks location (you can see 12 other spots within JTNP here).  With just enough time to carry 2 loads from the car (we’ve worked on condensing since our first dispersement camping experience) and set up camp, we took a hike to the nearest …

Creamy Kale Green Drink

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  What better way to celebrate than by chugging a big ole green drink?!

Lately I feel like I keep wanting to add more and more kale to my drinks.  I think I’ve gotten over any evidence of taste…it’s become like spinach to my tastebuds.  This one is super frothy in a creamy, dreamy, tropical and filling way.  Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:
2 1/2 cups kale
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/2 cup mango, frozen
1 cup pineapple, fresh
1 small banana, frozen
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place everything in a blender and blend until you reach a nice and smooth consistency.

La Croix Can Costume

This past weekend London and I had planned for the ultimate La Croix costume flavor throw down — Coconut vs. Pamplemousse.  Unfortunately, London ended up being too sickly to go out, so I ended up just being a single La Croix.

I love a good creative, inexpensive costume.  We probably spent around ~$20 total for this costume.  And I feel like we caught this right on the cusp of the La Croix trend.

What you need:

For the shirt:

  • Oversized Tshirt — H&M had some great men’s long tee’s that were perfect for this!  I bought taupe and London got a dusty rose color
  • Metallic acrylic paints
  • Cheap paint brushes and/or sponge applicator
  • Iron-on transfer sheets (we used these— came with 5 sheets for dark material– and they worked great!)
  • Printer and iron (duh)

For the headband:

  • Silver headband — the metal material of this one (also from H&M) matched
  • Can tab
  • Hot glue gun

Directions:

  1. Start by painting the back of the t-shirt first.  We followed the same design as the front of the La Croix cans, sans the logo.   Let dry overnight.
  2. Print the La Croix logo onto transfer paper.  I took the logo and separated it into “La” and “Croix” since the cans have a stacked logo but the La Croix logo is horizontal.  “La” and “Croix” each received their own transfer sheet (4 sheets total for 2 costumes).
  3. I also found a font that’s similar to the can flavor font (Comfortaa). I typed out the flavor names and picked up the dark blue color of the La Croix logo.  We shared a transfer sheet for “coconut” and “pamplemousse.”
  4. Cut the designs on the transfer sheet, leaving some white around.  The transfer sheets we used do not require you to mirror the image when you print

Be KIND (Bar Review)

I like KIND Bars for a light snack when you’re not feeling like heavy-duty protein bar.  They’re just like a nice cluster of nuts, spices and fruits in an easy, grab-and-go format.  These bars lived up to their names and all of the flavors tasted as they should, if not, even better.  All of these bars are around 200 calories, with roughly 5-7g of protein, 5-7g of fiber, and less than 5g of sugar.

 

 

Flavor review:

  • Almond Walnut Macadamia + Protein (with peanuts) – The addition of peanuts makes this bar taste reminiscent of a “peanut roll” candy bar.  I like that it has 10g of protein vs. the regular 5-7g.
  • Cashew & Ginger Spice – tastes like ginger snap cookies.
  • Madagascar Vanilla Almond – ever since fro-yo introduced me to “Madagascar vanilla” I’m a sucker for anything with that in the title.
  • Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Pecan – anything with dark chocolate, cinnamon and nuts is a winner in my book!
  • Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt – If I had to choose one of these bars to eat everyday for the rest of my life, it would probably be this one.  It  tastes like a decadant/gourmet chocolate, except for it’s not bad for you.

 

 

What’s your favorite kind of snack/granola/protein bar?

Disclaimer:  I was not compensated for this post, but  I received complimentary KIND Bars for my review.  However, as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Be Thankful

The other night my yoga instructor read part of this sentiment and I wanted to share it.  We often don’t think of negatives as something to be thankful for; we primarily associate being thankful with positives.  This quote should shift your perspective about “being thankful,” at all moments in life, both good and bad.

The three verses I think would be good mantras are:

“Be thankful for the difficult times.  During those times you grow.”

“Be thankful for your limitations, because they give you opportunities for improvement.”

“Be thankful for each new challenge, because it will build your strength and character.”

 

Be Thankful
(Author Unknown)

Thanks for not having
Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire.
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Thanks for lacking knowledge
Be thankful when you don’t know something,
for it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Thanks for difficult times
Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.

Thanks for limitations
Be thankful for your limitations,
because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Thanks for challenges
Be thankful for each new challenge,
because it will build your strength and character.

Thanks for mistakes made
Be thankful for your mistakes.
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Thanks for exhaustion
Be thankful when you’re tired and weary,
because it means you’ve made the effort.

Thanks for setbacks
It’s easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who
are also thankful for the setbacks.

Thanks for troubles
Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles,
and they can become your blessings.…