Friday, August 22, 2014

Maryland Renaissance Festival Starts Tomorrow

Woohoo! I return to the world of weekend employed tomorrow. I'm so looking forward to having weekends to work since I haven't worked a physical job since April. Being out of my garb for almost 4 months has been a nice break and it makes me excited to be getting back into it.

There are a lot of friends I'm excited to see who I only get to see at the Maryland faire. I'm not camping on site and I'm actually a little grateful for that although it makes life easier when I'm there - being able to walk to work, sleeping in a little later, hanging out in the evenings - all good things. But by not being on site I won't have to deal with the shit stirrers drama, the mud when it's raining, being alone, having ot drive out to do laundry or spot-a-potties. All in all I'm glad I ended up staying put where I am.

I'll be working for a new business this year so that means new skills, new merchandise and new faces. I'll be working next door to some folks who I adore so that's a plus too.

I'm looking forward to the season even though I'm getting no play time. At least I know solidly what my house are plus there aren't many acts that I am dying to see - well none actually. My favorite acts aren't there this year so there are faces I'm going to miss seeing but who knows, maybe next year.

I'll try to get some updated pictures!

Mt Baker Vapor (Online)

Mt. Baker Vapor is located in Lynden, WA. I'm not entirely sure whether they have a brick & mortar store but their online store is full of wonderful products.

I can't remember why or how I made it to their online store except that I was looking at a lot of online e-juice retailers for new juice to try. When I first go to an online retailers juice selection there are two flavors I always look for - vanilla and cherry. Mt Baker has several versions of both. They don't, however, have just a plain vanilla flavor. They have tons of vanilla varieties though: White Ice (vanilla and mint), Vanilla Butternut, French Vanilla, Vanilla Cupcake, Vanilla Tobacco, Vanilla Custard, Bavarian Cream, Cake, and several other flavors that use vanilla in them. As for cherry flavors they have: Black Cherry, Maraschino Cherry, Wild Cherry and several flavors that include cherry in them like Cherry Bomb which is a cherry milkshake type flavor. (In hindsight, I probably would have loved this flavor since it's vanilla and cherry. Oh well, maybe my next order will include that one)

When you buy juice at Mt. Baker Vapor you have control over every part of your juice. You get to pick the nicotine mg (that's a standard option for most e-juice retailers) but you also get to pick the vg/pg mix which is a nice added touch in customizing how their juice will smoke for you.

VG is vegetable glycerin, this is what produces the vapor. It adds some sweetness to your juice and is thick. So the more vg, the more vapor (and the quicker your coils will burn out) PG is propylene glycol, it's a much thinner liquid and it controls how much of a throat hit you experience.

For the juices I purchased I picked a  65% PG, 35% VG mix.

Another option Mt Baker offers is that you can add extra flavoring to your juice for a small additional fee of $.25 so of course I had an extra shot added to all of my juices. They also offer you a "shade" guide that tells you whether the juice is dark or light colored. Darker juices tend to have additional additives that don't disappear when you vape. I've noticed when I've smoked dark juices that the juice will tend to get very thick if you don't empty out what's left at the end of a tank, this tends to burn coils out quickly so I try to avoid the darker juice when I can.

MBV will also send you free e-juice for orders over $15. I didn't see a way to specify which juice I wanted so I assumed it was their choice and I wasn't overly concerned about it. There are also plenty of online coupon codes to save a bit when you order.

I ordered 4 bottles of juice at 30ml each with an extra shot of flavor in them. They came out to be a little over $7 a bottle! That is crazy inexpensive when you consider I went to a local brick and mortar store and paid over $20 a bottle for 20ml and had no control over the mix or the flavoring aside from picking the flavors I wanted.

The flavors I ordered were: Vanilla Cupcake, Blueberry, Hazelnut and Maraschino Cherry., as well as a pack of 5 2.2 ohm coils Those plus the shipping came out to just about $40 after applying a coupon code for 11% off. I placed my order late Friday night and my package arrived Monday afternoon. You just can't ask for better shipping times considering they're in WA and I'm in MD. To my surprise (because I assumed since I couldn't find the option for the free bottle that I wouldn't get it) there was a fifth bottle in my package, 15mls of Vanilla Ice Cream in a 50/50 VG/VP mix!

The Vanilla Cupcake juice tastes exactly as it sounds, like yellow cake with a cream cheese icing. It was very subtle even with my extra shot of flavoring added. Their website says their juices will actually taste better once they've been mixed in the bottle for a week or so. I have hopes the flavor will become less subtle then.

The free bottle of Vanilla Ice Cream was scrumptious. There were no extra shots of flavoring in this bottle and yet the yummy taste of vanilla bean ice cream was there, so much so that I could almost feel the ice cream melting in my mouth. I will definitely be ordering this in the future.

Their blueberry was fantabulous! It tasted of fresh, sweet blueberries. It didn't have that fake chemical type taste that a lot of fruit flavors can get. I am very happy with it.

Hazlenut - oh what can I say? I've never had a bad hazlenut flavored juice from anywhere. It is one of my favorites. MBV's hazlenut is sweet and tasty and it's one of those juices that when I smoke it in public people ask me what it is.

The Maraschino Cherry - I didn't care for this at all. It has a chemicalish burn to it that makes me cough and burns my sinuses. I'm not sure if that's because I had the extra shot of flavoring added to it or what but I can not smoke this flavor alone - which brings me to my next point about my order...

I ALWAYS order flavors I can mix. Vanilla/Cherry. Vanilla/Blueberry, Vanilla/Hazlenut. Mixing the vanilla, blueberry and a smidge of the hazlenut tastes like blueberry pie with ice cream. I have taken to mixing just a little tiny bit of the Maraschino Cherry with either of the Vanilla flavors - I've foud this is the ONLY way I can get through the cherry juice.

I will definitely be ordering from MBV in the future. Disliking one juice out of 5 is pretty darned good based on my experiences with e-juices. The 4 that I like, I like a lot, more than any othr e-juice I've ever had.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Gr8 Vapes Review (TX)

Gr8 Vapes has two locations in Texas, one in San Marcos and one in West Bastrop.

The San Marcos shop because my favorite while I was staying in San Marcos. They mix their juices in house, in front of you, while you wait.

Their VanHazel Nut and Vanilla Custard flavors were all I smoked and still remain two of my favorite flavors. Unfortunately, it looks like their online shop doesn't sell either of them.

The staff are knowledgeable and can help you with just about anything you need. There is one exception, coils. I use the Kanger 2.2 ohm coils in my Pro Tank mini. I asked for these coils in the shop and the girl behind the counter said that they had a generic coil that worked the same but was a little less expensive. I opted to give them a go - they were horrible. They tasted like burned plastic and just didn't go very well with my Spinner variable voltage battery. On my next trip in I again asked for the Kanger coils and the girl behind the counter assured me that what she was giving me but they were once again the cheaper ones, only this time she charged me more. I was not a happy camper.

Gr8 Vapes also has a rewards program through Five Stars which allows you a free 10ml bottle of juice for every 100 points. They also give you a free 10ml bottle of juice for your birthday which is pretty cool.

Overall, I would say Gr8 Vapes is a wonderful place to get your e-juice but not so much for equipment unless you just need a battery. Stay away from the generic coils and don't expect to be able to get true Kanger coils there.

Vape Vine Review (MD)

I don't know why I haven't been doing this but since I am an avid e-cigarette smoker and I travel a lot I figure I should probably review some of the juices I've purchased. I am a sucker for vanilla flavors so I almost always will purchase a vanilla of some sort. Your mileage may vary since we all have different tastes

Vape Vine is located in Millersville, MD (they are currently working to open a shop in Annapolis as well)

Vape Vine became my go-to shop for e-juice last summer during the MD Renaissance Festival. They were close and prices weren't too high. I was just beginning my journey with e-cigarettes and was still in the dark about a lot of stuff. The staff at Vape Vine are extremely knowledgeable and helpful. They are the ones who told me why my plastic tanks kept cracking (because of more acidic juice flavors like cherry) and helped me purchase a glass tank.

This year when I returned to MD I was excited to go back to a place I was familiar with. However, I realized one thing - they don't mix their own juice.They buy their juices wholesale from places like G2 Vapor, Alloy Blends, Mr. Good Vape, Rehab Vapor, NicQuid  ect. Don't get me wrong, some of those are wonderful juices. I'm particularly fond of the G2 Prime Vazilla and Alloy Blends Blonde. However, purchasing and reselling the juices means the prices are higher than you would otherwise pay if you were to order these juices directly yourself.

Overall, I would say that Vape Vine is a good place to go if you're just starting out with vaporizers. They can help you pick a rig and get you started. They have in-store events like Juice-Me days where you can meet up with other vapers and trade juices you bought and found you don't care for. They have a juice of the day that you can purchase or 25% off. And you can always sample any of their for sale flavors.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Hello to Visitors from Blogging the Boys

A user over on their site put a link to my website in a comment thread and my traffic has been going crazy ever since so I just wanted to give them a little neighborly internet nod and wave. If you're a NFL Cowboys fan, stop by their site and visit for a while.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Wait What? It's Almost August

It occurred to me that I haven't updated here recently. I'm still alive and kicking just not too much to report. Well, that's not entirely true. Last time I updated I was in San Marcos, TX and had just celebrated my 39th birthday.

Much has changed.

I'm currently in Maryland, where I've been since the end of May. Staying, once again, on the property of some very generous friends. I never saw the rest of Scarborough Faire after allowing myself to be fired from sales because it wouldn't cause the owners of the business any stress. Although they still wanted me in the production process doing piece work. Yeah, if that sounds weird to you, imagine how it sounded to me. I was fairly offended and then things turned ugly. Ugly enough that it caused me another trip to the emergency room due to anxiety and stress. The odd thing in all of it was that I was there to help some folks I deeply cared about and instead was thrown into managing a business while dealing with failing equipment, their financial/personal/ legal problems, a tense house where people yell at each other and their animals a lot - all of this leads to a stressful living situation. I choose to live in a van to avoid this sort of drama. If I had the ability to deal with all of that I could have just gotten and apartment and a 9 - 5 job. I just can't deal with that sort of stress anymore. I could have managed the business if I didn't have to  deal with the other stressors while also being told they really can't afford to pay me and changing my job description in the middle of a job arbitrarily by expecting me to do piece work that I generally could bank a lot of extra pay on just because business is slow (which it generally wasn't) and they won't have to pay out the piece work. You also can't be a business owner and choose to not hear the concerns of your employees just because the subject matter makes you uncomfortable. I began to feel taken advantage of, which causes resentment. As far as I knew when I signed up for the gig I was going to be a sales person and doing some production, not managing entire festivals on a salary that wasn't equal to the work and definitely not working 16 straight weekends with no break especially given how miserable the weather was the first 8 weeks.

I left Texas stressed to the same point I was when I lost my house - not sleeping, not eating, physically and emotionally drained dry to the point of not even being able to drive to get myself back to the East coast. Hence the trip to the emergency room. They pumped me full of fluids, prescribed some Ativan and I was lucky enough to be able to crash at a local vanner's house for a few days to recover enough to drive back to MD.  Gods bless the vanners! Not only did I get to recover but some fixes The Inn desperately needed happened and I was able to safely make it back to my home state.

Once again, I spent months and months in Texas and didn't get to see anything of quality to me because there simply just wasn't time for Randy and I to do so. This is not the life I signed up for when I decided to live in the van.

Life is mucho better now. The weather in MD has been gorgeous and not at all like summer. The heat and humidity we usually experience this time of year has been minimal. I've only had to use the A/C a handful of days.

I've not accomplished much of what I wanted to do as far as creative projects due in part to some laziness and in part to space constraints. I have gotten to see a lot of my long time friends and my best female friend is now just a slight drive away. Hopefully, my drive to create will return soon.

I've secured summer work once again with a vendor at the Maryland Renaissance Festival which begins in just a few weeks. At a pay rate equal to what I was making as a "manager" of the other business. Sadly, I'm not camping on the grounds this year which is making transportation a bit of an issue but I'm sure that will work itself out. Also sadly, The Rogues were not hired on for this season so in a way I'm glad I'm not camping there as I would probably be fairly lonely without Randy's company. I'm definitely looking forward to the work, maybe learning a new skill and meeting a bunch of new folks.

The kitties are all doing well. Unfortunately I walked Dandy several times here and ended up with a bit of a flea issue but I think we've finally got that under control.

I've cut my hair short again and donated to Locks of Love (because they're the only ones who would take color treated hair). The short 'do has been much more comfortable and easier to manage then my long hair was. I was at a point with the long hair that I never bothered to wear it down anymore so really, what was the point of having it? I think I'll be much more comfy at faire when the heat of summer finally kicks in (which I know it will)

I still work for The Rogues as their website manager and the band is doing well with gigs across Ohio, Texas and Washington state. Hopefully, they'll be able to come back to the East coast next season and hopefully, after this summer, I'll be able to go back on the road with them in Texas come the Spring when other living area becomes available. That's the plan for now anyhow. With any luck my summer job will allow me the finances to relocate before winter is in full swing as I'm not so sure I actually want to do a full winter in MD, though this past winter in TX proved to me that I can survive in the Inn in temperatures that are consistently below freezing (as long as I have power to run an electric heater).

I'm still learning to hoop and have gotten much better now that I purchased polypro hoops. Tricks are so much easier though I still lack a "dancy" quality to my flow. I cut down my hoop collection by giving away hoops that I don't really play with anymore to new hoopers who will get more use out of them.

I've also gotten to spend a lot of time around a toddler. He's a great kid and I'm rather proud of the fact that I've managed to be a babysitter for short periods of time without a complete meltdown on either his or my end. That's truly a feat for someone who has never spent any amount of time around any child - ever. We read a lot of books. Well okay, he points and I read a lot of books. I'm now fully versed in construction equipment and vehicles

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Holy Crap, It's April!

Where did the last few months go? I've been a drained little bee. The weather has not been normal here in Texas. Last winter in Houston, it got a little chilly and rains quite a bit. This year in San Marcos has been FRIGID.

The Inn is nice and toasty when it's chilly outside but the tent that I worked in for Medieval Moccasins at the Sherwood Forest Fair was not. I said before, Sherwood is a lovely little festival with the exception of starting in February. 8 weeks, every weekend was horrible weather at least one (and most cases both) day(s). Ridiculous. We managed to do okay out there given the weather but not without sapping the energy out of my entire being.

Scarborough Renaissance Festival started this past weekend (which Sunday was also my 39th birthday) and felt like the weather just isn't ready to be Springish. Opening day was good despite being overcast and gloomy but then there was Sunday. Sunday started with thunderstorms and pissing rain and that trend continued until just after midnight when Randy and I pulled back into home in San Marcos.

Here's hoping this weekends weather is better. At least the booth at Scarby is actually a structure and not a tent. It makes riding out rough weather a lot better!

This past week I've also purchased a Brother XL2600I  sewing machine and plan to undertake some sewing projects. There are some things I need, some things I want and some things that just look hella fun to make. I'll be posting updates here and directly to a Facebook Page which I will announce later. First, I need to get the machine here and find some space to learn how to use it.. Second, I need to pick out one of the hundreds of projects I've been collecting since I pushed the purchase button.

Randy bought me a little portable music player so I can have music to hoop to, as soon as I remember where I put my webcam I'll be getting some sort of video up.

I've also been gardening up a small storm. As much as I can do and still expect to feasibly travel with my plants.

I'll try to update here more often, with a goal of at least once a week with a new project if nothing else!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Hoop Challenge Fail

I failed at the 30 day hoop challenge so I'll try again next month (only it'll be a 28 day hoop challenge). Why did I fail? t got freaking cold in Texas.

When I first moved into The Inn on a full time basis it was in April, in Maryland. That first night in the van it went to 24 degrees and, until a couple weeks ago, that had been the coldest night I spent in here. Not anymore.

It went  down to 16 degrees here in San Marcos. That 24 degree night was a walk in the park, with 6 cats (again, each putting out 62 btus at rest) sleeping on me. Right now I'm only keeping one or two of the cats in the van at night and the rest are camped in Randy's RV where they have more room to run and be obnoxious.16 degrees was cold. There was frost on he inside of the windows from the humidity inside and Dandy wanted to sleep under the covers which is unusual for him. I was throwing many, many thanks toward Maine and Dave Hufstader who gave me a small electric space heater for the van since I hadn't (and still haven't) inspected the furnace and propane systems.

Not only did it get cold but it got very windy for several days. Hooping in 20 mph winds isn't fun and if it's not fun, it's not worth doing.

I have been hooping though and I think I'm finally finding my flow. I still really, really want both a LED and a poly pro hoop but my work with the heavy hoop I have now has gotten tons better.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Hoopy 30/30 Day 2

Day two of the hoop challenge brought with it an interesting obstacle - wind. Hooping in 19 mile an hour winds is difficult. I hooped for about 20 minutes and was so cold I couldn't even move to keep up with the hoop.

I did work on reverse flow hooping (hooping the opposite way that you usually do) and waist breaks, however, it was not pleasant and so I didn't meet the full 30 minutes for this day.

I'll make up for the 10 minutes I missed in day 3.

Boots, Hogmanay and Hoopy 30/30 Challenge

Tobacco Elk Medieval Moccasins boot
These are my boots  made by Medieval Moccasins. Soft tobacco colored elk leather. Seriously, to die for. Yes, this is random but it's the first chance I've had to get pictures of them and I was wearing them to one of the best parties on the planet.

Ros and Paul Shepherd throw the best New Year Eve party I have ever experienced. It's called a Hogmanay. Picture, if you will, the most talented musicians on a variety of Celtic instruments, tons of people - from everywhere. Fabulous food. A midnight parade around the neighborhood (seriously) complete with bagpipes, percussion, flags in which the entire party takes place. Neighbors come out of their houses with their kids and cameras - it truly is a spectacle. Unfortunately, this was their last one here in the states as they are moving to Spain some time this year. I am so blessed that I got to participate at this party for the past two years.

While at the party I took a bit of time for myself. I've agreed to participate in a hooping 30 days challenge - hoop for 30 minutes a day for 30 days. So at 1am I took to the empty street in front of the house and hooped for about an hour under the new year sky. What a great way to start a new year and a new challenge.

Stay tuned for daily hooping updates.