Yuletide Greetings From Yosemite

This post is going up a little late, but I hope everyone had a lovely winter holiday! I didn't do very much with my vacation time, but getting the opportunity to decompress and catch up on some sleep was extremely welcome.

Alex and I took a drive down to Yosemite National Park the day before Christmas Eve. It started snowing pretty heavily the minute we got there and I haven't seen snow fall in person in years, so that was a huge treat. The park was also incredibly devoid of people, so it almost felt like we had the place to ourselves.

The snow wasn't coming down consistently enough throughout the park for me to have many opportunities to photograph it, which was a shame. But it was cold enough that by the end of the day my feet were freezing and I was eager to get home and dive under the covers with a warm mug of glögg.

I love the cold weather, even if it does make it next to impossible to get out of my warm bed in the morning. If you get to see snow at home during winter, I'm extremely jealous!

Halloween at Hogsmeade

a sign at one of the entrances to "Hogsmeade"

This past weekend my boyfriend and I took a trip down to Southern California for Halloween. We spent our first day out there at Universal Studios Hollywood, and most of the time we spent at Universal was at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I grew up with Harry Potter, the age of the trio roughly coinciding with my own age as the books came out. I still find going back and reading the books to be very comforting, so it was fun getting to immerse myself in that world again.

The Wizarding World section of Universal is modeled after Hogsmeade village in winter. Fake snow covers all the buildings, which clashes oddly with the balmy Southern California weather, but looks beautiful. It was a bit overcast the day we were there, so it definitely looks nice and cool in the photos. You wouldn't know that I'm just out of shot, sweating from running about in the heat.

The store fronts all look beautiful, though you can't enter every building. The shops you can't enter are still decorated nicely so you can see interesting details when you peer through the windows, and often the storefront displays are interactive. If you purchase the right type of wand and cast a spell in the right way in front of a window you can make parts of the display move. I didn't get a chance to try it out myself (I left wandless, unfortunately) but it was fun watching other people try it out!

Honeydukes is filled with a variety of sweets mentioned in the books; Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans, Chocolate Frogs, Sherbet Lemon (Dumbledore's favorite), etc. I picked up a Chocolate Frog that contained a Rowena Ravenclaw trading card and a Pumpkin Juice, which I was pleasantly surprised to find contained some actual pumpkin (though it's still mostly apple juice). I'm keen to attempt to recreate the drink at home soon.

In Hogsmeade there's a recreation of The Three Broomsticks, where you can get food and drink. The food is fine, but I was able to finally get a Butterbeer, which was quite good if you're into that sort of thing (it's very sweet).

As I understand it Universal in Orlando has a functioning recreation of the Hogwarts Express, but the one at Universal Hollywood is stationary and just for show. Still, most of the day they have a conductor standing in front of it for photo ops.

And here I am, full geek, trying on my house robes. I was (and continue to be) in denial about getting sorted into Slytherin. I've always thought of myself as a Ravenclaw. But, I've been sorted into Slytherin something like 3 times now, so I'm just starting to accept it, haha.

Cemetery Drive

draped midi skirt in black nuit | snake harness in oxblood zana bayne | heattech shirt uniqlo | the medium lily dale spiritualism necklace bloodmilk | combat boots volatile

This is a very brief outfit and photo box post because I've been absent for a few weeks! I went graveyard haunting at the Mountain View Cemetery last weekend and I'm extremely glad that I wore comfortable shoes. The cemetery itself is absolutely enormous, and I only really got to explore a small portion of it. The most well known person interred here is probably Elizabeth Short (aka The Black Dahlia) and after a decent amount of searching we did manage to find her grave and pay our respects.

This was my first chance to wear my Nuit draped skirt and it was every bit as comfy as I had hoped. Hiking around in this outfit was a lot easier than I thought it would be. You can't really go wrong wearing mostly jersey and heattech.

I didn't take that many pictures because I was a little allergic-y and tired, but it was a lot of fun all the same. I'm looking forward to making it out there again because the cemetery is beautiful and I'd love to spend more time in it.

Also a huge thanks to Camden Hartley Tayler for taking all of the photos of me, saving me the trouble and embarrassment of fiddling with my tripod and remote shutter in front of a bunch of strangers!

Bat Skeleton Articulation Workshop At Paxton Gate

I spent the better part of today at Paxton Gate's Bat Articulation Workshop! I've always been interested in natural history, but have never had quite the space or resources to work on something like this at home.

The class was led by Wilder Duncan, who was extremely helpful and patient and a lot of fun to work with. You can see some examples of his amazing art and taxidermy at his website here.

The bats we used were Japanese house bats (Pipistrellus abramus) which are relatively small. There weren't actually that many tools or materials involved in the process; super glue, tweezers, scissors, etc.

Posing and mounting the skeleton took longer than I expected. It involves a lot of fine motor work that can be quite nerve-racking at times, especially after you've already managed to break a few pieces. I didn't take as many photos as I originally planned to, partially because I didn't want to make anyone feel uncomfortable or self conscious, but also because I had my hands full for pretty much the entire four hours I was there.

I picked a very minimal style for my display, almost exactly like the one in the primary photo used to advertise the class. I already have a few other specimens that are posed with greenery and I wanted to add something a bit more classical looking to my collection. Next time I'll probably try something more whimsical. Eventually I'd like to work my way up to something like this awesome piece that Wilder did!

My finished piece is far from perfect. I had a few bones break and it's not cleaned as well as I would have liked, but the experience was great and I'm really looking forward to doing something else like this soon!

Also, in case you were wondering, I did give him a name. It's Robert Smith!