21 April 2018

Rattlesnake Ledge: The Fog on the Lake

 At 9PM the night before, I got a text from Marina asking if I wanted to join her for a morning hike. Lately I've been wanting to go camping and hiking again, so I jumped at the opportunity. I've been staying up late playing video games until 6AM, but thankfully I woke up on time. ( ´ ∀`) My breakfast made me late though...
We started out on the road at about 6AM, and got to the lake almost exactly at 7AM.
 Back in 1906, there was a small town called Moncton that served the workers of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad. After the Masonry Dam was built in 1915 to provide Seattle with water and power, the town slowly flooded and became the Rattlesnake Lake we see today. When the lake is low (supposedly best to see in Autumn), you can find old-growth tree stumps, foundations and other remains of the town that once was.
 As we walked around the lake to the trailhead, the sun lightly skimmed the treetops, creating a beautiful array of warm colors. It didn't feel like mid-April, with the oranges and yellows.
 There was a lot of early morning fog, which looked incredible on the mountains and the lake. 
 Times like these I wish I had a different lens -- but I love the colors and atmosphere captured all the same. I think my next investment will be a wide angle. :) 
 As the sun made its way across, the view changed dramatically.
 Rattlesnake Ledge is a 5.1 mile out and back trail, with an elevation gain of 1470 ft. Being the first hike of the year for the both of us, it was pretty tough. I'm glad I brought my inhaler. LOL
The latter portion of the hike was spent on the cool side of the mountain, which was perfect for the crisp April morning. Since we went on a weekday, there was hardly anyone on the trails. Even when there was, they'd pass us pretty quickly (LOL). My shoelaces kept getting untied and I drank so much water.... but the clearings in the trees showed fantastic views.
At one point there was the sound of light bells jingling rhythmically, echoing above us on the mountain. It reminded me of guardian spirits watching over the forests, making their rounds and letting their presence be known. I half-wished we would experience something supernatural, but it turned out to be an old lady with a walking stick. Maybe that's what she wanted us to believe, though, while she greeted the morning.
 We made it to the top! It was practically empty -- only two other hikers were there for awhile. 
Looking down at Rattlesnake Lake.

 This mountain squirrel kept running in and out, haha!
After making our way back down, we had a picnic by the lakeshore. It was windy and cold, but it felt so nice eating the lunch Marina made. (*´∀`*) I brought chips and salsa, but I got soy sauce all over the containers... I also forgot to take a photo of the food but it was delicious.
A deserving rest! I'm looking forward to our next hikes!

17 February 2018

Weekend baking!!

Last year I made these really delicious dark chocolate orange slice & bake cookies, and because I am a creature of habit, I made them again.
They've become my favorite recipe for cookies. You can eat them plain as well.
I wanted to try something new and use white chocolate, since they were on sale. Mixed with a little gel food coloring, and I feel like they'd become cute Valentine's Day cookies! I'll post more photos later of the results.

I was planning on taking more shots of the finished dark chocolate ones, but I ended up eating them all before I could. And I think last year's photos are still really nice anyways.... LOL 

15 February 2018

Skinning my PS4

Aesthetics on a budget, basically. 2 years ago I got my PS4 in preparation for The Last Guardian's release. Amazon had a really good lightning deal during Black Friday ($250USD for Uncharted 4, Skyrim, and Fallout 4!), so I picked one up. Then two months later, Sony released a Glacier White variant for EU and JP,  and a month after that released for the US. Dang! "If I'd waited just a couple months" ran through my head, but a deal is a deal and I'm still happy with my purchase. Instead of going through the hassle of buying a new PS4 simply because I wanted the white one (I thought about it for a long time, and in the end concluded that I'm too lazy), my friend suggested I buy a solid white decal.

So I did, and for $20.00 it's pretty good. I got the Solid State White in high gloss from DecalGirl, and it looks very clean. The decal was insanely easy to put on, especially after a quick view of their helpful video.

My PS4 is placed on my desk in a spot where I can see the corners (where the strips break), but from all other angles it looks great.
At first I wasn't too fond of the black peaking out, but it matches my NZXT case really well, especially with the Younik stand! Happy accidents, or relentless optimism? 
If there's one thing I could change, though, it would be to fill in the matte black portions of the logo. The decal comes with a logo cover, so I might play around with covering it up in certain areas. We'll see!

14 February 2018

Happy Valentine's Day! Today I decided to dress up and try on a wig that I bought for Yamato Rinko from Ore Monogatarii!! -- one of my absolute favorite shoujo series. I've been hesitant to do a makeup test with this wig because of how unnatural the fibers look in artificial/day light. 

Oh well! At least it photographs nicely, snow filters and all. :) I'm hoping to get a different wig that reflects how these photos make me feel. 
Next time I'll try on some bottom lashes. She's super kira-kira so I really have to step up the shoujo look on my makeup. LOL

29 September 2017

Prayers in the Rain

Tucked away in Granite Falls, the Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America is the first Shinto shrine built on American soil after World War II. 

Tsubaki America Shrine was established in 1986 in Stockton, CA by Rev. Dr. Yukitaka Yamamoto the 96th High Priest of Tsubaki Grand Shrine in Mie, Japan. Tsubaki America was the 1st Shrine to be built on North American soil. A series of Priests from Tsubaki Grand Shrine in Japan served at Tsubaki America, introducing the Jinja Shinto to the US. 

In 1992 Kannagara Jinja was built by Rev. Lawrence Koichi Barrish to enshrine Tsubaki O-Kami. In 2001 17 acres of land adjacent to Kannagara Jinja was donated to Tsubaki America by the Matsuri Foundation and the decision was made to combine Tsubaki America and Tsubaki Kannagara Jinja at the sacred site of Kannagara Jinja.
We parked nearby and made our way down the quiet, secluded path. Marina gave me a tour as we listened to the rain fall on the rooftops, the crunch of gravel echoing under our feet as we walked. It was near closing hour, so the place was empty outside.
You can take various lessons here, such as aikido.

Before going further, Marina taught me about the temizuya (above) and misogi, a Shinto practice of purifying the mind, body, and soul.

From their website
Archetypically, Misogi is the practice of purifying oneself in free flowing water – river, waterfall or sea. The object of Misogi is to first purify mentally, physically and spiritually and to become responsive to and united with Great Nature. Owing to the finite nature of our human bodies we are susceptible to absorbing impurity. After continued contact with impurity our senses and connection to the life giving forces become dulled. To be more fully alive and in harmony with life,vitality from earth and inspiration from heaven and to come into harmony with our mission we can utilize the sacred technology of Misogi Shuho
It was really cool learning the steps from her. :)
Omikuji (fortune-telling paper slips) were tied around this tree's branches.
The rain started picking up more around this time.
Before heading back, we made our personal prayers.
On our way home we stopped by for something warm at the Living Room coffee house, a really neat and cozy community-based coffee place. It seemed like a good place to study!

They had blueberry bread pudding (yum!).
We stayed for a bit talking about cosplay before ending our day.