Friday, June 27, 2014

Easy Oatmeal Cookie Recipe

I wanted to bake cookies the other night, and all I knew was that I had a lot of oatmeal, so I should try to use it. I found this simple recipe online! You should try it!

  • 1 package yellow cake mix
  • 2 cups uncooked quick-cooking oats
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (I used slivered almonds)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
What To Do:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cake mix, oats, and sugar. In a separate bowl, combine oil and eggs; add to dry ingredients, stirring well. Stir in pecans and vanilla. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets.
  3. Bake 12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let cool on pans 2 minutes then carefully remove to wire racks to cool completely. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


I've done overnight outdoors trips when I was a student (in middle school and during my DOC Trip in college), but I had never gone camping just for fun as an adult until a few weeks ago. And I'm not sure I'd do it again.

You need A LOT of gear to go camping. This pile doesn't even include the two coolers for food and water, the camping chairs, pillows, our bags of clothes, or the dog. We filled the car up to the brim!

It's not that I had a horrible time. I had fun! We went hiking, toasted marshmallows over a fire, and just enjoyed breathing in the fresh air. This was also "car camping," so not extreme in the least. There were nice outhouses available very close to the camp site (with hot running water and showers even!), and you could easily drive to the closest town for food, tourist attractions, etc. We also brought amenities with us like an air mattress and a Coleman grill so that sleeping and cooking was not so unbearable (no rocks and sticks poking you under your sleeping bag or having to hunt your own food and cook the meat over a fire). So this was definitely a nice negotiation between the camping fan and the princess.

I was impressed with the real food we had on our trip! We made steak, broccoli, chicken, zucchini, and couscous! Yum!

Of course we got to see plenty of nature, which is the best part. Here are some photos of brooks/rivers/falls that we saw (we were in Ohiopyle State Park in Pennsylvania).

Here are some photos I took of plants I can identify. I felt very smart that I could name these!

 This is a sassafras tree. You can tell because it has three different shapes of leaves: a mitten, a "normal" shaped leaf, and the 3-prong leaf.

 This is a tulip poplar tree (I know this because it's the logo for Adkins Arboretum). What big leaves!

 This is a baby paw paw tree that was right next to our tent.  There was a larger one farther down the road from our camp site, and these little blobs were on the leaves. I think they may have to do with the zebra swallowtail butterflies that lay their eggs on these trees.

 Okay, I can't actually identify what type of fern this is, BUT notice the spores on its underside!

 While out during the day we would make our own lunches. Here's our menu:

Camping Wrap Recipe
*We made these both days for lunch on our picnics, and they are very easy to make, and yummy!
-Lunch meat
-Pre-sliced cheese
-Slices of pepper (we used red but any color would do)
 >> Just spread the hummus on the wrap, and put the other ingredients in the middle of the tortilla. Wrap it up into a burrito-shape, and voila, you have lunch! We enjoyed mini-pretzels and strawberries on the side, along with water, Capri Suns, and Pepsi One.

We stopped by Laurel Caverns for a little daytime activity. It's like Luray Caverns, only smaller and without the stalactites and stalagmites.

There was a long hallway (called the king's hall or something like that) and it led us deep into the caverns. There were people repelling against the rocks (you can see a little helmet next to the yellow arrow), and we saw beautiful rocks (with colorful lighting), including this one called Hercules.

On our way back from camping on the last day, we raced down the highway to get to South Mountain Creamery by 4pm, when you can bottle-feed calves! They were so cute! And of course we couldn't leave without tasting some ice cream (they are part of the "Ice Cream Trail" in Maryland)!

But, I will tell you, camping is like working on a vacation. Not working like checking email and sitting in on conference calls (although I had signal, I tried very hard not to use my cell phone during the trip. Well...except to play Candy Crush in the car...). I mean physical work. You want to sleep? You have to put the tent up first. You want to use the bathroom? You have to walk to the outhouse building (which I will admit was actually really nice where I went, but you could end up with a smelly porta-potty that's really far away). You want to eat? You have to set up the fire or propane mini-grill first. All of the things that are easily accessible to you in day-to-day life is suddenly work to prepare before you can even accomplish what you wanted to do.

I know this is the snob in me talking, but I kept thinking, "Why would anyone who has a vacation home [i.e. me and my family] ever go camping?" It's not like I'll never go camping again, but it's not my ideal get-away.

I am already looking forward to taking my boyfriend to our lake house and showing him how I like to vacation.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Trip to the Maryland Zoo

I had not been to the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore since I visited on a field trip in elementary school. But the only week my boyfriend and I decided to take a day trip up there. It was so much fun!

Our first stop was the polar bear, who was sleeping because it was too hot to be doing anything active! And I got my own pic with this metal bear statue (which was very hot in the sun!)

The highlight of the visit were the baby animals! We saw a baby Colobus monkey and a baby lemur. I swear I must have taken 100 pictures just of these two animals! I may not go ga-ga over human babies, but put my in front of a baby animal and I will turn to total mush!

Chimps always amaze me because they are so much like people. We watched them for a few minutes, grooming each other and using body language like humans do! It's an eerie feeling when you look at apes like this: they're so similar to us, yet our "societies" have evolved so differently!

And then we saw other African animals; it felt like we were in The Lion King. Giraffes, an elephant, and a zebra who had quite the shapely figure (like this Trace Adkins song). We even saw a real life Zazu (also known as a hornbill).

We also saw animals that weren't meant to be in the zoo. There were groundhogs in the giraffe exhibit, and swallows had made nests in the light fixtures.

 My second favorite part of the trip (since you can't top baby animals!) was the aviary. We saw a spoonbill stork couple making a nest! She was sitting on the nest (there may or may not have been an egg in it), and the male would bring her sticks which she would arrange around herself. Seeing those natural behaviors from wild animals in captivity is really awesome!

And there was no signage about these two cute little birds, so I don't know what kind they are. They had beautiful blue and teal feathers on their backs and wings. Anyone know what species they are?

Animals have always fascinated me, so it's no surprise that I have a fun time at this zoo! People from DC may complain that you have to pay to get into the Maryland Zoo, but remember: you're helping to take care of the animals!