Snowy Sunset Geocaching 

Honey was in Edinburgh on Saturday morning and phoned me on her way home in the afternoon. It was about 90 minutes before sunset and she asked if I wanted to take a quick sunset walk around Gartmorn Dam in Clackmannanshire.

I quickly calculated the cons (we’d not have very long;  I’d have to change out of my pajamas) and the pros (we’d be in the woods!) and said yes. 

Gartmorn Dam | Riotflower's Realm

Gartmorn Dam | Riotflower's Realm

Gartmorn Dam | Riotflower's Realm

We did some walking, deep breathing, geocaching, and talking.

Gartmorn Dam | Riotflower's Realm

(‘Barking’ up the wrong tree for a geocache.)

Gartmorn Dam | Riotflower's Realm

(A traditional ‘Swedish hanging’ geocache found up a tree.)

Gartmorn Dam | Riotflower's Realm

We got there around 3:30pm and because it was a clear day, we could still see in the twilight when we got back to the car at 4:45pm. I wouldn’t have thought to chance a walk so late on a winter’s day (even though I used to lead weekly night hikes in woods I knew well) and I’m so glad Honey did. 

Gartmorn Dam | Riotflower's Realm

Forgotten Photo Friday: Teide National Park 

For a year, I haven’t written much about our trip to Tenerife. Quite simply, I adored the experience and I wanted my words to do it justice; they cannot. It is more important to share photos than the few words I have.
Tenerife made me feel free and full of adventure.
Free from the winter darkness.
Free from heavy layers of clothing.
Free to reconnect with my Spanish-speaking self.

The adventures of new experiences and knowledge filling my senses and sparking my soul.

One huge highlight, alongside snorkelling with green sea turtles, was hiking in Teide National Park; a volcanic landscape that made me feel as though I was on the moon, out in Western USA, and on mars, depending upon the area. 

Crunchy Banana Chips

I dehydrated bananas. I delayed trying because ‘the internet’ seems to be worried about soggy dehydrated bananas, saying it’s impossible to make them crunchy or offering detailed tutorials to avoid the problem. 

It’s not that big of a deal. Just slice and dehydrate. Two and a half bananas fit on each of my trays.

We enjoyed these on our weekend hike and I’m going to make enough for granola. 

A January Walk

Over the winter break, Honey and I had colds at different points, which meant that we hadn’t made it outside to play for the full two weeks. Adding in my first week back to work tipped my cabin fever into full force.

A January Walk | Riotflower's Realm

Luckily, the forecast for Saturday was for dry weather (around here, anything less than torrential rain is a win!) so we headed out. As we pulled out of the neighbourhood, we noticed that the Trossachs where we were headed were entirely fogged over while the Ochils were basking in sunshine. 
A January Walk | Riotflower's Realm

A January Walk | Riotflower's Realm

We headed to the Ochils and quickly decided on Dollar Glen. The glen is a nice up and down walk by two different streams, with plenty of waterfalls and rich leaf litter to perfume the air. If you’re looking for a woodland (and then hilltop if you ascend past the castle) walk in Clackmannanshire, I’d definitely recommend Dollar Glen. 

A January Walk | Riotflower's Realm

A January Walk | Riotflower's Realm

Top 10 Adult Lessons I’ve Learned This Year

Living is an adventure. Here’s what I learned along the way in 2016.

Top 10 Adult Lessons I've Learned This Year | Riotflower's Realm

  1. Insurance is essential. This year we were grateful that we had pet health insurance, extended car road insurance, and home contents insurance. Insure from the beginning.
  2. Everyone needs to spend more time in the dirt. I love ‘farming’. I have always loved playing in the dirt barefoot, growing things, and food. Having the addition of our ‘quasiallotment‘ gave me space to experiment and dream in addition to the maximisation I try with our garden plot. More dirt to tend and more plants to encourage really drove home the fact that gardening with the aim (not yet need) of feeding my family is exciting and fulfilling.
  3. A winter sun holiday is a luxury but it is also a coping mechanism for those living at (or near) high latitudes. Being in the sun for just over a week in January and February exponentially increased the ability of my light box to get me through the winter. My S.A.D. symptoms were the mildest I’ve ever experienced.
  4. Home decorating sometimes goes wrong but the time spent considering the required changes, and taking steps in that direction, still results in an improvement.
  5. Being away from family gets harder and harder. Even with technology making them easily accessible.
  6. Setting intentions for something you want may not work, but setting intentions for things that you need will. I knew the latter years ago but got the two confused along the way. This year, I wrote down and spoke to my wife about an opportunity I needed to keep my soul happy and it came to me a few days later.
  7. If you wear bras, make sure you love the way your bra feels. You’ll simply be happier and more confident. Bra fitting services are a great place to start but don’t defer to them completely if your real bust size isn’t carried in stores. They’ll apply formulas to give you a modification (a ‘sister size’) and it probably won’t feel or look right after a few days out of the store. This year, after being brainwashed into thinking I could and should, I realised I was never going to find a decent fit in a department store because they don’t carry bras for people with small busts who are happy having small busts: they sell unnecessary underwires and embarrassingly padded bras. Find a specialist company to speak to and see what others say online.
  8.  Photos are important.
    – Sharing the beautiful living or memory in an ugly photo is more important than holding back from sharing the photography that didn’t capture the vision.- Save or share photos before they’re lost (stolen, data failure, old undeveloped film).- A photo taken by a friend can show you more of your own beauty than you thought was visible.
  9. There is nothing that beats hearing and seeing my wife throw her head back in laughter after being caught off guard by something funny I’ve said or done. Except the way that I’m humbled and grateful when I see the look in her eyes when she feels how loved she is.
  10. Pour as much love as you can into those around you and the wider world. The world needs it. Bring back the Care Bear stare.

Forgotten Photo Friday: Flanders Moss

Having grown up in the eastern coastal plains of Pennsylvania, I’m a big fan of wetlands. Locally, we had marsh, swamp, vernal ponds, and bogs in addition to the standard waterways.

Although I’ve lived in Stirling for 11 years, I had never been to the largest wetland in the area: Flanders Moss National Nature Reserve, a raised bog.

In November, on a day that perfectly illustrated the Scots word ‘dreich’, we headed to the moss via a bit of geocaching.

The ground before reaching the boardwalk looked normal at a quick glance, but was bizarrely springy and felt foreign upon closer inspection.

The boardwalk takes you through the bog, meandering by informational nature boards and subtly changing landscape.The colours of the mosses were more vibrant than expected and not captured by my phone. We spent just over an hour or so there in the freezing rain and I imagine that you could easily spend longer in the summer sun. 

Flaxseed Crackers

I’ve finally gotten around to making flaxseed crackers and they were so simple, I can’t believe I waited so long. I was inspired to try after eating Whitworth’s flaxseed crisps, which were the crispiest crackers I’ve had since going gluten free. 

I made a batch in my dehydrator and based the flax, chia, and water ratio on this recipe

Dehydrator flaxseed crackers

Using She Paused 4 Thought’s set up of 1C flax, 1C water, 3Tbs chia soaked for at least 20 minutes, I added: 1 tsp seasalt, smoked paprika, and nutritional yeast. I spread it on a dehydrator sheet, set the dehydrator to the ‘fruit’ setting, and flipped it  over after a few hours when the edges had dried and stuck up a bit. I then dehydrated it overnight and it was crispy.

Next time I make this, I will grind about 3/4 of the flaxseeds first and lime & chilli is my next flavour! 

Yoga Bolster

Honey has gotten into crocheting amigurumi gifts and ordered a very large amount of poly-fill stuffing. We received a delivery of a 5 kilo box, in fact! I was getting tired of moving it out of the way to do yoga and wanted the spare room to go back together in a peaceful way after we painted it, so I used that as motivation to use some of the stuffing.

Handmade Yoga Bolster | Riotflower's Realm

I made a yoga bolster. Most bolsters I saw for sale were around 28 inches long but I wanted to have all of my neck and the bottom of my spine on at the same time, so I made ours 32 inches long. I cut fabric 32 by 28 inches, sewed it into a tube, found a pot lid to trace that would fit the ends, and traced that for the end fabric. Stuffing the bolster definitely took the longest. I used just under 2 large bags of filling and stuffed it while watching a movie one night and about an hour (at least?) on the next day. It’s dense, it’s solid, it’s heavy, and it’s perfect. I have enjoyed just laying on the bolster on my back and opening up my shoulders and chest gently with gravity. I am going to use the same fabric I used for my yoga mat bag to make a matching removable bolster cover.