Category Archives: Life

Opt Out, or At Least #OptOutside

I love Christmas. I love Christmas gifts When I was about eight years old, I’d start making my Christmas list right around Halloween and it included every single one of my family members—not just my parents and my sister but my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, and all my cousins. I know I made a wish list for myself but the focus of my holiday excitement was largely on giving gifts to people. My mom, in contrast to me, hates Christmas shopping. She taught me how to make gingerbread houses, the importance of hiding cords to make decorations look polished, and that it’s okay to proudly sing Christmas songs with a less than perfect singing voice. This leads her to procrastinate on her shopping and all of my best efforts to explain that waiting makes it worse have never helped. Perhaps that’s because I think my dad secretly liked going to the mall in the final days before Christmas; he was always adding silly Santa gifts for his siblings to the shopping list and used to take my sister and I out on a shopping trip specifically to pick things out for mom that included lunch.

Will with coat


In this way, living in a van was really hard for me. It wasn’t particularly feasible to be in the northwest for Christmas when the southwest was where the warm weather was. I didn’t have a shipping address and bowed out of family gift exchanges. Although I decorated the best I could, it wasn’t the same as having a Christmas tree and baking cookies, and checking all the nice people off my list one by one. I missed putting thought into the perfect gift for people.

But, despite the fact that I really do love Christmas shopping, I don’t shop on Black Friday. When I was growing up, Black Friday was for singing “Bringing in the Boxes” as I trekked back and forth between the house and the garage carrying box after box of Christmas decorations in. (As embarrassing as this sounds, I embraced it and even had a friend join me a year or two in high school and made her sing the song. Maryanne was such a good sport.) I spent most of the day outside with my dad learning “everything I know about exterior illumination.” In the evening, we’d decorate the pieces of our gingerbread houses. Getting up early for Black Friday sales to miss out on that fun? No way. Besides, we usually stayed up until midnight watching It’s A Wonderful Life as a family once we got back from Thanksgiving celebrations.

Honestly, usually, I’m close to done with my Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving. I like to spread out my spending and take the time to pick out really great things for my family and friends. (Ahem, Lakin family? I’m still waiting for a 4th of July name draw…) Since I’m not part of the Black Friday culture it’s always been easy to look at the stampedes and the rampant commercialism and think, “Really? That’s what our holidays are about?”

This week REI announced that they would be closing their stores on Black Friday. Employees (who are recieving paid vacation) and would-be customers are instead encouraged to spend time with their families and opt out of the buying frenzy hopefully by choosing to #OptOutside.


This BLEW UP in the outdoor social media world. I couldn’t get on Facebook or Twitter without seeing #OptOutside. I joined the chorus, my plans already included exploring and being outside with Sprocket on Black Friday.*  And yesterday, the announcement came from Outdoor Research that they too would be closing its retail store and distribution centers the day after Thanksgiving piggybacking on REI’s announcement.

This warms my outside loving, anti-consumerism, gift giving heart. Because, let’s be real, most people aren’t hankering for a door buster on a cashmere sweater for Christmas. A generic gift determined by what’s on sale on Black Friday is unlikely to brighten anyone’s holiday. A simpler, less extravagant gift that builds on a hobby, passion, or dream of your loved one is much more likely to tell that person what you’re really say with the gift: “I care about you.”

Training for the New Alpinism

Choosing to shift from a mad buying frenzy on Black Friday to more reasoned, thoughtful gift-giving opens up time for being with your family. Maybe you’d like to spend that time decorating for Christmas like I did when I was growing up (or use it to go get a Christmas tree outside!). Maybe you’ll be like Sprocket and I this year exploring a new place. Maybe you’ll grab your partner or children or a cousin and get outside like my cousin and I did the day after Christmas last year or like Andrew and I did a couple of days later. Creating memories with your family gives you time to get to know them which makes for more satisfying gift giving (and receiving!).

Hiking with Andrew

How are you keeping up the holiday cheer by opting out (or at least controlling!) the amount of commercialism involved?



*Last year, I ran all over Connecticut and New York being outside before a wedding! Clearly this is normal for me…

Phew: Adventures in Webmastering

Saturday, before heading out for Halloween festivities, I received an email from Google webmaster tools informing me that my site had likely been hacked. As I worked through their list of things to check, I discovered that some URL insertions had happened. According to the search results, 3Up Adventures had pages for a slew of pharmaceuticals.

I realized that combing through the code of WordPress was really not within my skill set. Of course, I didn’t realize this until after I pretty well entirely broke the site. I decided that if people were really trying to browse 3Up Adventures on Halloween that they would just be out of luck, and left it broke until Sunday afternoon. Back at home in De Beque, I realized that I’d been really blase about database and image backups for the site but I was able to recover and download these.

Throwing the baby out with the bathwater, or in this case, all my themes, customizations and plugins, I just started over with what really matters to me: my content.

There has been some heavy discussion about the use of blogs, social media, and self promotion circulating through my world after Essena O’Neill’s odd social media bashing social media fueled announcement. I blog mostly for myself, this little blog only gets a couple hundred page views everyday. My blog Facebook is sorta a ghost town )but that seems to be because I won’t pay Facebook) although I like to think I share some sorta cool stuff, my Twitter is for relationships, and apparently my Instagram is all about photos of Sprocket. But. I can’t actually get mad at Ms. O’Neill. When for a few minutes I thought I might have lost my entire blog, I was devastated.

In an odd sort of way, I love this blog. It is a way for me to look back at the last five (FIVE?!) years of my life and take stock of what I’ve done. I haven’t talked about my feelings a ton (although there definitely has been some feeling talk) but I have heavily recounted adventures spanning from Washington to Mexico to Jordan. For an instant on Sunday afternoon, I pondered canning this project and just letting it die a hacker induced death. But I can’t do that. I’m still waiting for all my images to upload via FTP (thus you will probably see some broken images in the above links) but 3Up Adventures is still standing.

Thanks for reading. It means the world.

Homegrown Sourdough Bread

After I read Michael Pollan’s Cooked, I developed a minor obsession with fermentation. I had attempted to make sourdough bread when I lived in Idaho but it just didn’t ever really go well. I tried to make it with water straight out of the tap but I have since learned that the chlorine (or chloramine) in city water might interfere with yeast growth (which totally makes sense!).

I started with a 50:50 flour water mixture (1/2 c. each) using water I brought home from the water cooler at school. In retrospect the jar was too small but it seemed like such a neat little package to start with!

Sourdough starter

The second day I added another 1/2 c. water and a 1/2 c. flour. The next day, I fed the starter again in the late afternoon. I was starting to be skeptical about whether anything was going to work, yet again. I went into the kitchen in the evening to make tea and there were bubbles! It was alive!

Sourdough starter

By the next morning, the starter had exploded on the counter. There was plenty enough still in the jar to salvage so I moved it to a larger bowl and measured some out to make bread! I used this recipe and the result was unmitigated failure. It didn’t rise. There was a hunk of solid dough just sitting there. I didn’t use non-chlorinated water, which might have been the issue, I’m not sure.

I did some more research and found this post on Pinch My Salt that described how to make a “sponge” and THEN mixing up the dough. Finally I was on to something.

My first “sponge”:

Making a sponge

The loaves themselves seemed a little flat. But they were clearly bread!

Sourdough starter

I slightly overbaked them but they were pretty delicious for the first few hours!

Second bread attempt

I tried again, making the bread into one loaf. It didn’t brown very well but oh my god it is so freaking good!

Sourdough bread

I’ve never been a sourdough fan but this has really great flavor. I can see myself going back to a commercial yeasted bread in the future but I’m having fun experimenting right now!

Phew. Weekend Regroup.

Last weekend did not go exactly as planned…

I did give my Ignite talk at the Sherbino and it went fantastic! I hung out at Cimarron Books and Coffee grading on Friday morning.

And then the XJ I’d been looking for popped up in Denver so I canned my plan for a hike of Whitehouse on Saturday and jetted for Denver.

Saturday I bought the new Cherokee, rented a Uhaul tow dolly and began the drive home. Sunday I zoned out working on my quilt and then returned the tow dolly. I stopped for coffee and spilled the ENTIRE LARGE THING in my bag of papers.

So how was your weekend? I need a weekend from my weekend.

More from me soon. <3

XJ meet FSJ

DIY Vermiculture: Composting With Worms

A couple of weeks ago, I was feeling a little bit frustrated about living in a rental house and not being able to have house projects to work on. (I have no idea why this is the case since I have three furniture projects in various stages of completion, a quilt in process, a blog, a hiking project, and I’d really like to read more but alas, this was how I felt.) One of the things that I’ve wanted to try for quite some time is starting to compost. I reached out to the Twitter-verse, and Modern Steader came to the rescue:

And then, the see (er, worm?) was planted.

I read lots of DIY vermiculture posts and ultimately decided to use a post from the Washington State University Extension Center in Whatcom County. (They have a whole website about composting!) This set of instructions were clear, detailed, and, as advertised, was cheap and easy to build.

I had a sort of terrible time finding the classic Rubbermaid totes that I wanted to use. Target didn’t have them. Walmart didn’t have them. I finally found them at Home Depot where they ran me about $7 each.

Once at home, I drilled a series of 1/16″ holes around the top of each bin and in one of the lids, as directed in the WSU DIY build instructions.

Vent holes

Vent holes in lid

Next, I drilled 1/4″ holes in the bottoms of both bins:

Holes in bin

After that, I stacked the bins on a few sour cream and cottage cheese containers and waited for my worms to arrive. I ordered my worms from Colorado VermiCulture. I am still thoroughly confused as to where these guys are based because they call themselves Colorado VermiCulture and have a 970 area code number on their website but the return address was somewhere in Pennsylvania). I thought I was buying local-ish (even if they were being shipped) but I guess not..


When the worms arrived, I excitedly made their wet newspaper bedding (that’s a lot of newspaper!) puta handful of dirt on top and sort of anxiously unpackaged my “wormies.” (Yes, I am 30 years old and referred to the Red Wigglers as “wormies.”)

Newspaper and dirt I unpacked the box to learn that the worms were from “Uncle Jim’s” worm farm and happily noted that they were, in fact, still moving around. I still don’t know if I was supposed to put their peat moss into the compost bin with them but I decided that it was unlikely to matter so in they went with the peat moss.

Uncle Jim's Worm FarmSprocket was thoroughly confused about the presence of worms in the house.

Sprocket checks out the worms

Sprocket is confused

I fed the worms some peach peels, coffee grinds, and sweet potato skins I’d been saving for them by burying it in the newspaper then covered the newspaper with wet cardboard and nestled the other bin on top. I then moved the whole thing to the laundry room sans laundry facilities.

Stacked bins

I was a little bit freaked out about the possibility of waking up in the morning to worms desperately attempting to escape from their plastic jail. I did a bit of Googling and turned up some helpful people suggesting that worms like it where it is dark so leaving the light on outside of the bin for a few days might help the worms adjust.

When I opened the bin the next day (I couldn’t resist!) there were several worms kind of crawling up the sides of the bin, a couple on top of the cardboard, and most were existing in two masses under the cardboard. A huge part of me was convinced they were all going to die.

Worms at workToday, I fed the worms some more stuff and got excited to peek into their home. They’ve dispersed into their bedding and I’m really hoping they’re enjoying their artichoke leaves and tea bags. I’m finally feeling like they’re not going to die at any moment and I bravely have turned off the light in the laundry room the last couple of days—and no one has escaped.

It’ll be quite some time before I actually have any worm casings to use in a garden but in the meantime, I really like the awesome earthy smell when I pull off the top bin to feed my little “wormies.”

English Paper Piecing Quilt, Part 4

I knew that I’d made progress last winter towards piecing all of those darn little hexagon flowers together and I rationally knew that if I opted to machine quilt, I would probably finish it this winter. A really huge part of me really wants to see it done before mid-January. A three year gestation period is plenty long for any project.

But on to the exciting part!

Thursday afternoon, I realized that this was all that was left. After all the thousands and thousands of little pieces, there were about sixty to go.

Final pieces

So I promptly spent my Friday driving to Junction to use my 60% off JoAnns coupon on quilt backing fabric. (And then the Jeep starter decided to strike. But that’s another story.)

I worked on it Friday night and woke up Saturday down to my last row of pieces. Thirty more pieces to finish! I started live tweeting my quilting. (No joke. Sprocket just wasn’t being excited enough and I needed to share.)

Finally, I was down to the last ten.

Final 10

And then it was the last one.

Last hexagon

Two years and nine months later, the hexagon piecing is done.



I’d been removing the paper slips as I went out of necessity because if I waited too long it became really hard to manipulate the quilt to add more pieces. I did iron the backside today to make sure that most of the hexagon backs were laying flat as we start to move towards the final completion of the quilt top and making the quilt “sandwich.”


I still have a ways to go before I have a truly completed quilt: I’m adding a small gray border to even out the edges and frame it, then I need to prepare the backing. After those are both ready, I’ll lay it all together, pin it and prepare to start quilting.


I’m about 90% committed to machine quilting. I’ve loved working on this but it’s really sucked a lot of my time. I haven’t done near as much reading as I would have liked in the last two winters because I committed that time to quilting. We’ll see. There’s that 10% of me screaming “But you did all that hand sewing! Finish it!”

#SummitSummer 2015

#SummitSummer 2015 is over. I’d half hoped to head to Holy Cross last weekend but I just wasn’t totally feeling it. I had to work Friday and decided I should go to Grand Junction, do some shopping, get dinner, and then chill out at home. I’m glad I only went that far since the Jeep did not have a good night. (A tow truck ride later, we made it home and thanks to #ruralliving + community Facebook groups, I have the part I really hope fixes the problem already.)

Anyhow, Wednesday is officially the start of fall (although the last few weekends have definitely felt like fall). I didn’t complete all the summits I wanted to (Hesperus, Handies Peak, the Maroon Bells, and the Chicago Basin 14ers come to mind) but I really did make some serious progress towards my hiking goals this year.


One of my major goals for 2015 was to hit the 50% level on the Colorado County Highpoint list. I started 2014 with 3.1% completed and I started 2015 at 17.2% completed*: today, after a lovely summit summer, I’m at 40.6%. I really let the county highpoint list drive my adventuring this summer but I don’t regret it in the least. I got to drive all over the mountains of my (relatively) new home state getting to know its mountain ranges and little towns.

I’m sad to see the summer come to an end. Sometimes I was frustrated with the weather, sometimes it was a little lonely, sometimes it was a little weird. There were lots of puppy cuddles, an FSJ convention, and a lot of miles on the road.

Beth & Sprocket on Mt. Zirkel

Even though there have been a lot of successes on the peaks**, the #summitsummer effect was real: I’d chased a goal, I’d been independent, I’d been happy. Life happened, I didn’t get everything done, but I did really make progress towards my goals. I thought back to this winter and how I declared #thenightisdarkandfullofsparkles to a guiding principle for 2015. The winter was really dark at times and the peaks of summer barely sparkled in the distance.

#summitsummer 2015 set me up to look forward to this winter and on to 2016. I’m excited about what is happening in my life. It’s not perfect, but I’m moving to where I want to be.
Year Accumulation 9/15


*11 counties: Ouray (Mt. Sneffels), Dolores (Mt. Wilson), Montrose (Castle Rock), Delta (Mt. Lamborn), Mesa (Leon Peak), San Miguel (Wilson Peak), Hinsdale (Uncompahgre Peak), Denver, Arapahoe, Adams, Broomfield.


**I have never hiked more vertical to peaks in a year. I’ve hiked a few hundred miles. I’ve never hiked more peaks by the end of September in a year. I’ve climbed 8 ranked 14,000′ peaks (plus 4 unranked peaks), 6 13,000′ peaks (plus 1 unranked peak), and 3 peaks over 12,000′.


Although Palisade Peach season is coming to an end, I’ve finally been settled enough to really start enjoying the awesome local produce.


Last week, I made three batches of peach jam.



My first batch I used low sugar Sure-Jell. I’ve only ever made berry jams so this one turned out too chunky at the end (although I think it’ll really taste great on waffles).

The next batch, I used Pomona’s Pectin. This pectin uses calcium to gel, not sugar like most pectins, so you can use smaller amounts. For my first batch, I decided to only vary one thing at a time and just softened the peaches on the stovetop a bit before adding the sugar, lemon juice and pectin although I still stuck with about two cups of sugar.


This batch turned out at a much better consistency so for my final batch, I cut the sugar down to 1 cup and cooked it again.


Then this week, I decided it was time to make pie. I really really love pie.



Peaches and cream pie! I had a slice on my way to school this morning. It is delicious.


Minor League Baseball: Grand Junction Rockies

I love baseball. I grew up in a family where baseball was the soundtrack to our summers. I’ve been reclaiming baseball in my life this summer first with a Tacoma Rainiers game and now with the Grand Junction Rockies.

Baseball field

I went to my first game right after coming back from Seattle. The Grand Junction team is a rookie affiliate of the Colorado Rockies that plays in the Pioneer League. All tickets were $9 and the food prices left no room for complaining ($3.50 beer for both micros and macros, $3 hotdogs, $4.50 cheeseburgers, etc.) and the field was gorgeous.

Baseball selfie

I got a good kick out of the “Beer Batter” promotion: an opposing batter is chosen as the beer batter and if he strikes out looking, Bud Lights are $2 for the next 10 minutes.

Baseball field

I had so much fun that when I realized I’d be spending the night in the Grand Junction area on Monday, the first thing I did was check to see if the ball club was in town. Since they were, I went in search of a scorebook. If I’m going to watch baseball, I love keeping score, especially if I’m solo.


Baseball selfie

I had another amazing day at the ballpark; it’s a pretty great way to spend an evening and I look forward to going more often in August when I’m only living a half hour away.

Baseball field

Fir Tip Simple Syrup

I’ve been fascinated with the idea of tree influenced cocktails since I heard about a restaurant in Seattle serving an “Evergreen Martini” with douglas fir sorbet years ago (I think I was in college?). Last spring, I read this post about making your own fir-tip simple syrup and it became only a matter of time and opportunity before I tried my hand.

Fir tips

While Daniel and I were hiking Mt. Washington, I noticed all the trees were still displaying beautiful spring growth. I picked a species (I think it’s the pacific silver fir) and started picking tips and dropping them into a baggie that had formerly held my bagel. Daniel was remarkably patient with me and over the course of our hike I filled one baggie and almost filled another.

Fir tipsWhile my mom was at work the next morning, I started on my project. First, I put the tips on a cutting board and tried to pick out any pinecone pieces or other “intruders” (there weren’t very many, careful picking was totally worth it). Next, I rinsed them off and left them to drain in the sink for awhile.

Fir tips


Next, I chopped the fir tips up. This step smelled totally divine. It was a little bit citrusy, a little bit woodsy, and really just made me super happy. I tried to not chop the tips too finely since they’d need to be strained out but I also wanted to make sure I was getting the full flavor complement. I was a little bit nervous about this step. It seemed so destructive and final! I followed the directions from Amy Pennington’s blog as best I could hoping for the best.

Making simple syrup

I combined two cups of fir tips with four cups of water, brought it and brought it to a boil and then reduced it to a simmer. They started out nice and green, but as they cooked, they blanched out a little bit as they simmered for 15 minutes.

Fir tip simple syrup

I was really excited to discover that my mom had a fine metal mesh strainer. I probably should have checked for this before I started but it all worked out just fine. I had about 3 and a half cups of fir-water so next I added 3 1/2 cups of sugar to the water and boiled it down to reduce it approximately by half.

Simple syrup making

I’d never made simple syrup of any kind before and had read many conflicting opinions of how long to boil it and how far to boil it down. I was terrified of going too far and ending up with an un-usable thick syrup but didn’t want to have to put it back in a pan to reduce it further. With a bit of trepidation, I poured the finished product into a jar and waited for it to cool.

Fir tip simple syrupSugar takes a long time to cool, my friends. When it was finally happy hour time, I mixed myself a drink using ManMade’s Coniferous Collins recipe as a guide:

  • 1 oz. fir tip simple syrup
  • 3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 oz. London dry gin
  • club soda

I eyeballed everything so there were no perfect proportions but it all seemed to turn out just fine. And by just fine, I mean, delicious:

Fir Tip Simple Syrup, coniferous collins