Category Archives: Ramblings

Alamosa Weekend for Rails and Ales

For a couple years i’ve been trying to get a trip down to Alamosa for Rails and Ales. Basically a long drive, for a train ride to the middle of nowhere, for beer, enh food, and hill billy music! Sounds fab, eh? I thought so! And it was!!! Can’t wait to do it again!

Basically every year we don’t know when WWDC (the big apple event) will be until april. Sadly sometimes this event can sell out prior to that. This year, it did not, and WWDC was earlier than normal! Woot!

We had enough miles to stay at the newish Farfield Inn, so that was a bonus.

Sadly, work made it so leaving early was a no go, so we had to leave at 4ish… that put us into town, tired, and close to 9. Ugh.

The next morning was the main event – see my blog post on that here.

I had a fabulous time, perhaps due to my expectations being pretty low – beer, nowhere, train… so i received all 3 of those and more! Like i said, can’t wait to go again next year!

We got back to town close to 6pm, chowed on some delicious thai food and then tried to stay awake long enough to go to bed like grownups… Y’know… 9pm.

I feel we had enough water so the next day was not too terrible (i even got in a good workout at the gym) and i could convince the hubby to take some crazy side trips on our way home!

First up was Gator Land – i mean seriously – how could you not? Gators/Colorado – they don’t really go, so we had to stop to see how they did. Bonus points – the hotel had a brochure with a coupon for a bucket of free gator food! OMG-  yes! Thank you road side america for showing me this gem and my hairdresser for going there years prior!

There is a cute history on this place – it used to be a tilapia farm and they got a couple gators to clean up the dead fish etc…  this lead to people breaking in, to see them and due to the warm thermal water the growth rate was crazy! Then lots of people would just drop off exotic animals for them to take care of, so you have gator land!

 

Definitely was a hoot to see all the gators and their stories and all the other random animals wandering around!

You do get to hold a gator – a baby one – upon entry – for their “head count” – we declined… but were able to get our photo with the helper fella… we did not pay for any of those photos… (Use your imagination – john pushing me closer, me leaning back…)

It was kinda hard to use up all the bucket of gator food… some were not that interested, some just had too many people also tossing food their way. But i am not sad i had it, but, be warned – we smelled like that stuff for the rest of the day, no matter how many times we washed our hands!

We did spend an inordinate amount of time at the last tub which was all turtles and baby gators. So fun to watch them all!

Next up on our adventure was the UFO viewing platform… cause… why not…

Notice a significant lack of another person in these photos?

Definitely worth a drop in! Walk the crazy vortex area just to view things people have left if not try and feel some energy!

And the viewing platform – such a great place to view the valley and the dunes! Next nightime event (halley’s comet comes back soon right?), i think we might need to get a camp sit and enjoy the views after dark

 

  

Worth the $2 per person donation! And i picked up a cute pin to keep on my hiking backpack!

After that is was a meandering route home with a stop at one of the breweries we found over the weekend in Salida! Coconut Milk Stout – omg – like ice cream in your mouth – but beer…

Awesome weekend with the hubby doing crazy things!

Rails and Ales

What a beyond super duper fun event! I had heard about this event a couple years ago. Coloradotrain.com is where to get the info. Obviously the event just happened, so i can’t get a link in there right now – but here is the FAQ

Basically – train to no where, beer and music. Um, hello, yes please!

I’m writing this post because there was not enough fine print information to know all you needed to know about the event!

Tickets:

There are 3 different levels

  • Standard – we call that the poor people and that is where we sat! ($59)
  • First class – this is the domed glass roof cars ($99)
  • Diamond Class – this is a private car where you get very fancy seats and access to the band ($125)

Opinion on tickets – standard class was fine, regular every day seats, windows open, bar service

The glass domed car- super cool and a table to hold your snacks, and card games along the way, and the bar is in your car.

The diamond class- i’m thinking if you are really into comfort and having someone wait on you and access to people in the band…  go for it. They don’t play as far as i know. (I mistakenly wandered into that car…  they don’t like peons in there….)

Add ons – get the lunch ticket. It’s easier than bringing cash for when you get there. It’s not an amazing meal, but it’s food, in the middle of nowhere…

Getting your tickets:

We received an email indicating that we could retrieve our tickets up until 9pm friday night before the saturday event. We raced down from Denver, didn’t eat, didn’t pee, didn’t gas up…

Arrived at 8:20pm….  Closed up tight.

Apparently there was a disconnect between those that sent the email and those that worked the booth to give out the tickets. Le sigh.

Next up, the email said, starting at 7am we could get our tickets

I called the number at 7:15am confirming this was still the case. The person on the ticket line wasn’t sure, attempted calling, and ended with – “they should be there”… to which i replied, they should have been there last night as well.

So info point here – be sure to confirm when they will be really getting there or staying until, and plan accordingly for your travel to and fro.

Arriving to board the train:

Parking: You can park across from the depot, diagonal from the depot, and to the left of the depot in the gravel lot.

You can start getting your id checked, your waiver signed and your glass retrieved around 8:30 or so. So get there early.

The sometimes check your bag, sometimes don’t, so no weapons… *shrug* (FYI – they hire a good amount of gun tottin’ sherrifs from a nearby town, so don’t be stupid)

For the standard seats – Be aware – one way in the train you will be facing forward and the other backward. Being a motion sensitive individual, i spent a bit of my time sitting on the arm rest sideways so as to alleviate my discomfort. I tried the motion sickness gum – nope… I forgot to bring my ginger pills, maybe next time.

 

What to bring:

Chairs – bring your collapsable chairs, and put a phone number on the outside. We chose to do it with duct tape for removal later if we so chose. (there are over head luggage places in standard, other “special locations for items” on others)

Water – there is water on the train, but i like to not loose my expensive lunch from too much beer and heat – so having a camelback for easy access between adult beverages.

Hat – bring a bold old floppy hat and plenty of sun block!

Hand Sanitizer – the bathroom are limited in their accoutrements, both on the train and off.

Snacks – they say only pretzel necklaces – but you get snacky on the way out unless you over do the breakfast buffet at the hotel. So stash a couple things in your back pack! (the people in the glass domes cars certainly did!)

BTW – the trip out is 1.5 hours, back it seems closer 2

Where to sit:

This is a tough one. Will you generally just be meanding around getting tastes of beer, so it really doesn’t matter?

Did you want to see/hear the band – sit straight out and in line of site – to the sides, the sound dims

Shade – basically there isn’t any, except a picnic table area, get to the right side facing the stage and claim your spot. You will be very very close to all your neighbors…

We chose a spot, kind of in the pathway of the first row of beer, but near the stairs down, that was great for us. We would probably choose to the left of the stage next time.

What to wear:

It’s 9000 feet. The temps can be boiling or cooler.

Layers people, layers. Unless you are there to attract a man, be comfortable, closed toe shoes for both the train and then tromping around in the “grass” which is really a whole lot of dust.

I chose a tank for the the inevitable “missed sunscreen spot” so i could even out other missed spots. It was a warm day with an amazing breeze. I carried my sweatshirt most of the time.

Post event:

Rubi Slipper was the suggested location for a post event burger. The wait was 1.5 hours. No matter how good that burger was, i really don’t think so. Obviously this location is the closest to the depot. If you really want that, make a reservation when the you get signal again on the way back, about 20 min out.

We ended up at the thai restaurant, one more block up. Very tasty, very friendly and very big servings.

Other tidbits:

There is a lot of beer. A lot. Pace yourself. Don’t be “that guy”.

As the day wanes on, they start pouring more into your glass. Squee –  but dangerous…

Bring a koozie to keep your beer cool in your cup, or your hand from heating it up.

Do a lap with your first pour, so you can get the lay of the land and pick your next selection.

The food is at the top of the hill. Think about getting it earlier, rather than after you have had a few…  as in, you don’t navigate the stairs as well.

Cash – if you want to tip your car manager (the fella that brings you booze or water on the way to the event and leaves you a cute snack and another bottle of water on the way home), or want to buy anything on site, you need cold hard cash.

Take a picture of the logo of the beer you like. There is no signal for untapped, etc to save your favorites! And you won’t remember otherwise…  promise.

Make a friend. Hubby and i went solo (as in, all our other friends couldn’t figure out how to commit to get a ticket before it sold out) so we shared our 4 seater with a lovely couple from broomfield. It was super fun and we’ll be enjoying pizza and beer soon! You never know who you’ll meet! Also chat in line, you might get a good tip on a beer you haven’t tried yet!

It sells out. For real.

Other info links:

 

A graduation and a wedding

This last may was a celebration of Emma! My niece.

She graduated college, with super duper honors, commissioned into the navy and then just for fun, also got married!

VMI where she graduated from does a huge pomp and circumstance for the event, 4 days of events, parades, concerts and more! I didn’t take many pictures there mainly because my sister is the trigger finger there!

After that it was a smidge of down time as miss emma was made to stay on campus as she had not received her orders, so hubby arrived in town and we went down to Fairfax to stay with a friend and spend a day in DC

First stop, obviously – the carousel! I picked the dragon! There was only 1 wee one in front of us in line, so i was pretty certain i could get it!  Hubby being the good sport came along!

After that was the Newseum (pro tip – get your tickets on line and save 15%)

This was an amazing museum! 6 floors of stuff! Oh my goodness! We spent over 3 hours there, which for me is A-Maz-ing! o much to see, learn and do! Definitely a museum worth taking some time for! And the views from the top floor – wow!

We left there and enjoyed a nice lunch at Plan B b the naval memorial and then walked back through the sculpture garden and a detour through the Pollinator trail!

Great way to spent a 100 degree day!  We did end with an amazing meal with our friends at n all you can eat Korean BBQ!! So amazing!

Finally the main event! Emma’s wedding!

Friday she and I went and got our nails done, cause, ya’ gotta! We had some starbucks and then a “healthy” lunch at paneara to round out the afternoon!

While the fam and bridal party went off to the rehearsal, hubby and I got to see Guardian’s of the Galaxy! A pretty good flick! I laughed, i teared up, i really liked it!

Then it was time! First up was emma’s hair! So much of it, so many things to do with it!

The makeup, getting dressed and the final event!

Wonderful ceremony, fun reception, beautiful couple!

The weekend rounded out with a brunch, saving a frog from the pool and enjoying the back yard

Congrats to my niece in all she achieved and accomplished!

Day trip to Fort Collins

For a while the hubby and I have been talking about a day trip up to Fort Collins, see some sights, drinks some beer, and relax in a different part of the state.

Ok, so it’s only an hour away, but it’s just far enough…

As we all know, road side america is a big thing for me, and I love seeing fun and stupid and weird thing all around!

To start our adventure, it was the Swetsville Zoo – i mean, seriously, a zoo of all metal animals, how could we not!

Bonus – it’s right off the highway and outside of town, so you can stop on the way in or the way out of town!

Next stop was one of the Mini Statue Of Liberties! We found these ladies on a previous trip east for christmas. I love these little ladies and it’s now a “thing” for me to see as many as i can in different locations!

This was a park in the middle of fort collins! There some other interesting things to see – like concrete frogs and plastic dinosaurs, we had a nice walk around the lake and enjoyed some fresh air!

We also meandered the city for other random sites! Good thing john is a good sport!

And then finally it was time for beer!

We stopped at a couple breweries downtown between the raindrops and then ended up at Coppersmith! We had been here ages ago and decided to see what we remembered! The food was good, the staff was good, and we also ended our stay with a Rootbeer and Cream Soda Float! Delicious and highly recommended.

The final stop and whole reason for coming up to Fort Collins was a Yelp event at New Belgium

We got a special tour, and then a special couple hours of free beer just for us – hello – i did indeed feel special! My favorite was the beer-rita – who knew it could be so good!

The tour itself was amazing, seeing all the vats and how it all works – and of course the slide at the end

All in all it was fabulous day and so glad we got to spend the day in a place we have been trying to enjoy for a bit!

 

Fun with Kim

When hubby travels for work, Kim comes to play!

Kim and i were trying to find a weekend to get together, and I saw on the calendar that Hubby was out of town for a conference, so I decided to have kim come play for the weekend. Not that she doesn’t like the hubby, but i don’t like to share, so i get more time with her, just for me! And we get to do stupid things we like that doesn’t include boys! Squee!

The day started with a thunderstorm, sigh. I was very hopeful her flight would not be diverted and it wasn’t, whew!

I were both starving so i brought her to My Brother’s Bar for some historic and delicious burgers! SLurp! We had the “new owner” as our waitress – Paula! We have known her son forever and it was a treat to meet her and to know that the restaurant was staying as a local owned establishment and that things would remain the same!

After we stuffed ourselves, we headed up the road for some some spice shopping – oh how i love Savory Spice Shop! I always get my spices there now, and they are super friendly, offer up suggestions and help me find exactly what i  need. Kim had fun and got to tickle her cooking fancy! Next up the street was Denver Beer Co – not my favorite, but she’s into beyond hoppy beers, so it was a treat for her! We chatted, stayed out of the rain and eased into our fun weekend!

Next up was home, seeing the boys, and relaxing! Eventually we were feeling a little hungry so we popped over to 10 Barrel to have the Pimento Cheese and Bacon Jam dip (because, why not, and it’s amazing – if you go, just start with an extra set of crisps). 10 Barrel used to be my favorite brewery, we would always hit them up when i was in Boise for business. Alas they have succumbed to the we are in colorado so we must only make hoppy beer and have discontinued my most favorite brew – Swill – a light, wheaty radler…  There is a sour – Cucumber sour that is light and drinkable, but if i go to a brewery, i don’t want there to be only 1 thing i like and they pour it from a can…  sigh. I digress, Kim has a number of options and we pleased with their hoppiness!

Saturday the weather was still not cooperating, so we decided to head up north to my favorite Thrift Boutique – Queen Esters (all profits go to providing water wells in 3rd world countries).

After that we had a lunch of cheese, dips and some meet from my “meat box” from the Carnivore Club – it is so much fun to get a box of meat in the mail… just saying.

The weather broke, so we decided to pop over to the botanical gardens for a walk and more chatting! It’s now a standing joke that Kim has yet to see the gardens in bloom…  Every time she visits and we take her, they are mostly dead. This time there was a bit more and we popped into the Rain Forest (saw a blue poisonous tree frog – he so didn’t look real, but then he moved) and Orchid area to see some of those things as well!

 

Next up was more relaxing on the couch, and then off to one of my favorite places to eat – Cho 77, and then down the street to Adrift Tiki Bar for mai thai’s – cause why not on a cold rainy saturday! We got Suman to come along for the evening fun too!

Cho 77 – how we found this place is a funny story – hubby and i were in the area a couple years ago for a music festival that lasts 4 days. We were looking for a bite and this place seemed interesting. We nearly died when we tasted the Pork Belly, Bok Choy Noodle dish. First time, we shared it – i ate the bok choy, he the noodles and we shared the pork belly. Since then, we have not branched out! He orders his with no bok choy, i order my with no noodles and extra bok choy and we slurp this dish up like nobodies business! That weekend we ate every dinner at this place and were beyond happy! It was a treat to share it with Kim and Suman.

As for Adrift Tiki BAr – it’s been on my list to try – we won a Drink Passport one year and this place was to be the end location, but work or something got in the way and the passport expired and I never got here. But it;s been in my head forever and when we were going to be down there, i decided it was an excellent gal’s place! And it was!

We stayed out pretty late for me, but still early enough for it not to be too crazy of a night!

Next up was our final day together – boo…

Sunday it was finally sunny and a nice temperature! Our day started with Rosenbergs for lox and bagel sandwich! Delish!

Next up was some random sight seeing!

First up – Mother Cabrini Shrine! I have seen the sign for this place for all the years we have driven to and from the mountains and always thought it might be interesting to stop. And Then i found out there were stairs to climb! Squee!

Kim being the good sport came along. There is a cute museum about the life of this nun, a place to get holy water from a spring she “found under a rock”, and then of course the 360 stairs to see the statue. What was funny, was i thought the statue would be of mother cabrini… nope, it’s a giant jesus… Well there you go, now i know what i’m looking at from the I-70!

Our next stop was the “buffalo” that live along the  I-70 in a preserve, but they were hiding… so it was a very quick drive by. We had a still a couple hours to spend before i had to return Kim to the airport, so i offered up a “chuck wagon” option for lunch. She was totally in! It was another – on my list to try eventually, so i was happy to get there! Definitely hearty portions, quick delivery, pretty sure most of the staff has been there forever, and know their craft! Definitely will be hitting this place up after hiking this summer!

Final stop was a little downtown that is just too far from downtown to get to very often. My main plan was to hit up The Chocolate Therapist – a shop i had found as a chocolate festival! I stocked up and then we returned to the house to relax on the deck chairs before the final trip to the airport.

All in all a fabulous weekend with kim and i’m so glad she could come out to play!

Making Indian Food

I got to spend a day making delicious indian food with a friend’s mom.

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Do i know how to do it again… probably not. But i definitely have 5 pounds of chipati flour, so i have already tried those again. Sadly – i can’t roll out my chapatis so they are round… but i’m getting the hang of it and this website has helped! I’m also saving this site for when i run out of chapati flour!

We made a dal – it was a mix of red and moong lentils, similar to ones i’ve made before.. but i gotta say, much better… Although i just looked up my version and they both look similar!

Not sure of what all went into this one, but here is the shopping list:

We could make a combination masoor (red) and moong dal. You could get 1 lb bags of each.Whole jeera 2 tsp, turmeric, red chilli powder, ginger root fresh, fresh tomatoes 2, cilantro, onion 1.

We also threw in a couple of the chilis for fun!

 

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We also made Chicken Kurma or what the following recipe card says. As when following any other good cook, some don’t always follow the recipe… pretty sure she winged quite a bit of it from experience! She would show me how much salt she was using or some other spice and it was just a portion of her hand. I chuckled inside! This was most interesting having to grind the cashews into a paste… i’d use a blender next time..

Shopping list:

Chicken kurma (drumsticks are best )
Onions (3-4), 1/2 cup raw cashews to be ground, ginger, garlic, 1 c.plain yogurt, 1 c milk, garam masala  powder, bay leaves (3) green cardamoms 6-8. cilantro, oil. For 4 to 6 people 2 legs each.

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We also make Kheema with ground turkey. Pretty yummy and interesting. Whole cinnamon sticks… Not exactly sure of it all – but here is my shopping list for it:

1 1/2 lbs gr.meat ( I prefer turkey or chicken)
     Onions (3), Tomatoes- sauce or strained/bottled variety, ginger, garlic. Turmeric, red chilli powder, coriander powder, jeera powder, cilantro. Oil.
Note to the uninitiated – jeera is cumin! 

IMG_9753Found this site and could be a good starting point for next time i make this!

 

For a win for the hubby i also made butter chicken and found this recipe. My “mom for the day” didn’t usually make this dish, so it was my job to find a recipe! She thought the fenugreek was weird and would have ground it. Also having used the bottle tomato sauce in her recipe for kheema, i would totally do that here… My sauce ended up less thick than i would have liked… But i did like the tikka marinade for the chicken and might do that on it’s own in the future!

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We made a dry vegetable curry too!

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Mixed vegetable dry curry.
         Potato, colored peppers, mushrooms, cauliflower, onion, fresh tomato.
         2 potatoes, 2 peppers, 4-6 oz mushrooms (optional), half a cauliflower, 1-2 small tomatoes, ginger, garlic chopped, onions 2.
         turmeric, red chilli powder, coriander powder, garam masala, cilantro.
It was a ton of veggies and it made my spoon smell funny… as in like curry… but it’s delish!
There was also an order… mushrooms last…  onions first…
Onions
Potatoes
Cauliflower
Peppers
Mushrooms
Tomatos

We also made a riata with grated cucumber, a diced jalapenos some spices and yogurt. Yum! According to the indian recipe site i found there are a multitude of riatas you can make… i still have some yogurt… i might see some riatas in my future…

Shopping list: plain yogurt, cuke, jalapeno peppers 1-2, ginger grated pinch.

But i’m sure she threw in some other spices as well!!

 

Things i learned 

I do have a cover for every pot

I don’t have too many spoons

grating garlic is amazing

my coriander is no good. Buy the whole pod, grate/grind before use!

some things don’t need to be hard

Some times too much food really is too much food!

Surprise Lake and Camping at Cow Creek

Last weekend – the last weekend prior to the 4th – which will now become an annual event, i got 2 fabulous campsites right on a reservoir and invited a bunch of different out doorsie people to join me/us!

Here is the campsite to the left

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To the right, and closer to the right, you can see the tree in both! Great place to be!

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We had found this camp site last year and decided to come again this year but get both the sites in what i call a “culdesac”

We had good times around the fire and enjoyed some serious relaxing and bonding time

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Saturday was a hike we had attempted last year and were thrwated by the mosquitos! this year we were prepared and so were the pups! We had deet they had puppy spray – lemongrass and catnip and they are on heart worm! Suprise lake! It’s a portion of a much longer hike (9.3) – we did the 2.6 each way one!

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It was the first time i had hiked with such a big crowd since girl scouts, but it was great!

Most of the time we were in the woods, mosquitos swarming, but not too too hot! Views were amazing and the columbines were gorgeous!

Hubby and another of the fellas say the hike was straight up hill… I thought it was ok!  ;)

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Definitely hope to do the whole 9.3 next year, or at least hike around Surprise Lake, it was so pretty!

Lessons learned:

  • The deflate portion of the air pump for the air mattress is amazing
  • We can put up our tent in super windy conditions
  • Being without cell signal can be an amazing thing

The boys turn 4

Has it really been that long? Are the boys really that old?

It seems like only yesterday that we brought them home with us!

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It’s been an eventful year, full of camping, hiking, and hanging around with mom and dad!

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Double Header Stair Climb for American Lung Association

This weekend I did a double header! 2 stair climbs – one in Seattle one in Portland (OR)! At first i was just going to do 40 flights in Seattle and 160 in Portland… But then I learned i could do 160 in both! So i said why not! We started the day in the fog!

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Woot!

The 40 floor building was actually the “smallest” building i had done, but agreeing to do it 4 times in row – that was big! Since I had 2 races, i decided to get an additional Wonder woman Shirt!

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I did do very well, i thought, very fast for me! 8 minutes! That is nearly 5 flights a minute! Oh my! IMG_6862

Obviously I got slower over each one!   They did a full split – so i got to see how i did each time!

 

We drove back down to portland saturday after the race and check out and was ready for the next race!

This race I had a wife of a friend of my husbands and her running ream join me – i’m pretty sure they hated me by the end!

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Once again i was up for the 160 flights – which was actually 164 since we climbed to the 41’st floor… oy This time it seemed a bit harder, my thighs were pretty chatty – perhaps the long climb the day prior or walking around seattle hills or… By the end of the second run i was considering bailing and calling it a day… But decided to just keep on truckin! And i did the full climb, 4 times! Yeah me!

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All in all i feel pretty proud of myself and am looking forward to see how i do in Denver at the end of February – 56 flights! (I’ve done this one for 4 years, but i always like to see if i can go faster!)

As a reward, we went for a great brunch on the 30th floor of that building. It was nice to relax a little and enjoy a fabulous meal!

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I ended the day with pedicures with my mother-in-law! Woot!!!

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Campfire – Fire starters – results

So we finally had a few minutes to try out one of the completed fire starters!

It worked GREAT!!

It was a pretty windy day and it still stayed lit with a nice flame!!

Can’t wait to get camping and try these out!!

This one lasted nearly 20 minutes! Woot!

If you missed the post on how to make theses – it is here

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