Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Itasca, Kayaking, Waterfalls oh my!!!

Hello Everyone!

I hope that you have all had fantabulous Memorial Weekends! For me this past weekend was devoted to testing out gear and having wonderful adventures with my man friend Bob. I tested out my Yuma pants again (see review here), my Osprey backpack, Asolo hiking boots, and my new Camelbak bladder! I will soon be writing reviews on the last three items soon, so keep an eye out for upcoming gear reviews!!

Bob and I headed up to Itasca State Park on Saturday where we spent an absolutely beautiful day hiking in the Northern Woods of Minnesota. If you have never been to Itasca, you should make plans to explore it! The main attraction, the headwaters of the Mississippi River, and the bike path on the East shore that runs by the campgrounds are often busy, but (as I learned this weekend) the hiking trails are peaceful. Bob and I saw two or three groups during our five mile hike, which is amazing considering how busy the above mentioned areas are. The entire park is worth hours of exploration, and even though I have been walking the park's paths for years, I am still struck anew by the beauty of the park with each visit. 

5 other things that rocked about this weekend:

1)Visiting Bob's family and having smores in the backyard
2) Kayaking on Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis 
3) Minnehaha Falls 
4) Freshly made Cinnamon Pull-Aparts
5) The Impossible Project film for 600- especially the black and white film! (see images below- isn't the black and white just the cat's meow?!) 

Best wishes,

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Artifact Uprising

Hello everyone!!!

Today I want to rave about a company I have been mentioning off and on for months: Artifact Uprising.  For those who are unaware, Artifact Uprising is a Colorado based company who focuses on creating high quality products while still staying environmentally conscious. You can read about their mission here. I stumbled across Artifact Uprising through Instagram (have I mentioned how much I love that silly but amazing app?), and was instantly hooked. I initially purchased a wood block and prints set- the images were all donated by artists and the profits went to help with the forest fire efforts in Colorado- and I was thrilled by the products quality. 

Then, months later, I decided to do a 2013 in review book using (mostly) Iphone shot images. I downloaded their app and began scrolling through my phone selecting images for a 5X5 Softcover Book. I did have a slight snag after I took a break and closed the app, as my work seemed to have been erased. However, after quite a bit of panic, I reopened the app and found all of my work had miraculously returned. It should be noted that that was the only time I have had that issue, so it was most likely a one time glitch and not a common issue with their app. 

After that small snag, I was able to quickly review my work and order my booklet. A week or two later a package from AU appeared on my doorstep and guys, it was like Christmas. My images looked fabulous, and the knowledge that the product was sustainably sourced and recycled made my inner tree hugger just swoon with giddiness. 

Seriously guys, I can not stop raving about this company to anyone and everyone. I carried around the book I made in my purse for a week and pulled it out to share with ALL the people. I still grab the book off my shelves and show it to family and friends when they ask about what fun adventures I had last year. AND they have expanded their products! Not only can you order Hard and Softcover books, wood block image sets, wood photo/book boxes, square prints, and calendars, but you can order their newest product, the signature print, as well as POSTCARDS! 

That's right. 


Now, some of you may not be aware of this, but I love mail. I love sending letters and receiving them. I love the whole concept of taking the time to actually write your thoughts down on paper and sending them out to dear friends and distant family. I'll let you in on a secret- I save most of the letters I receive and copies of many that I send out in hopes that someday they will be found by a distant relative or a complete stranger and through them future generations will be able to understand the past. So, it follows logically that I am absolutely thrilled at the ability to make personalized postcards! 

Currently I am working on another photo book and a  postcard pack, and I can't wait to complete these projects and share them with others! I am also hoping to create a book documenting the life of one of my Grandma's this summer, though I might just do the preliminary scanning and story collecting and create the actual book next summer. Either way, I know that I will be using Artifact Uprising to create my book. You just can't beat their high-quality products and their commitment to lessening their environmental footprint. But you don't have to take my word for it, head over to their website and try their products for yourself!!

Happy creating,

P.S. This post is not sponsored by Artifact Uprising in any way. I am receiving no type of compensation for creating this post. :) 

P.P.S. As if all the above stuff wasn't enough awesomeness, AU also has an amazing blog where they showcase the talents of their customers. It's slogan is: "// inspired by the disappearing beauty of the tangible / bettered by a community of inspired storytellers / driven by the belief everyone has a story to tell. Tell On." I might be making all sorts of fangirl faces over here, but seriously, their blog is so inspiring and filled with unique individuals. Just go read it. :)

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Review- Mountain Hardwear Yuma Pant

They are here!!! Last week I made my first hiking clothing purchase! After a lot of internal debates,  a bit of rashness, I purchased the Mountain Hardwear Yuma Pant. I haven't had a chance to take them out and truly test them, but I have worn them around the house and below are my initial impressions.

1) The Style- These pants have a relaxed fit, which means they are loose on the thighs while still fitting snugly (though not too snugly) around the waist. The material is comfortable against your skin, and has a bit of stretch, but not so much that I am worried they will stretch out too much throughout a hard day's hike (I have a pair of pants that do that, and it is one of the most annoying flaws in pants- am I the only one who feels this way?). The Yuma's feature one pocket located on the right thigh, which is big enough to easily hold my iPhone. The waistband has a soft lining called Micro-Chamois by Mountain Hardwear which keeps the waistband from chaffing even if you are lugging a heavy backpack for long periods of time. As a relative newbie to hiking, I would never have considered that issue, and I really appreciated the thought that was put into the Yuma's design. Finally, as if all of these style considerations weren't enough, these pants look cute. While being fashionable isn't a necessity for hiking, it is definitely a nice perk that I appreciate. 


2) The Fit- I am usually between a 4-6 in pants, but since most of my pants come from the Gap, I am guessing that my actual size is a solid 6. I am 5'2"-5'3" in height, so length is always a point of concern when purchasing pants. Luckily for me, these pants are available in three different inseam lengths, and had a super helpful sizing guide. I ordered a 6/32, and they are practically perfect!! They are a tad bit snug around my waist (hello winter weight), but I think an 8 would have been too big, and the length is spot on! When I'm barefoot the pants have a tiny bit of extra material, but with a pair of hiking boots they will be perfect.
Note: Unfortunately offers limited sizes in the Yuma pant. However has more options available, and their Stone Green Yuma's are on sale right now for $48.90 (normally $70.00)! 

3) Projected Utility- The Yuma pant is created out of comfortable and (reportedly) durable material with a DWR finish (read water resistant). I have not had a chance to test their water resistant properties, but I did spill a glass of water on myself while wearing them (because I'm graceful like that) and the pants remained completely dry. This fact, along with the UPF 50 rating UV block, makes me hopeful that these pants will handle any weather that Glacier sends my way. I am slightly concerned that the Yuma's will be too warm during the summer heat, and I will probably bring a pair of shorts along on my first few hikes just in case. However, the pants fold and roll into a compact and manageable size, even for me (and I'm a terrible folder/packer). This fact, along with their light weight, will make them easy to pack initially and an almost unnoticeable addition to a hiking backpack if I do end up change out of them on the trail.

Overall I am very optimistic about the Yuma's. Their comfort level and water resistance make them ideal for most weather conditions. If they do prove too warm for the heat of summer days, they will be perfect pants for around the campfire in the evenings. I am pleased with my purchase, and I can't wait to test them outside! I hope that you have found this review helpful, and please feel free to ask me about anything you feel I have overlooked!