Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Dangers of Sharing Information

You guys, it's been a while.

I'll be honest and say that I've been struggling emotionally and mentally, but that is neither here nor there. It's just a truthful statement about where I've been in reference to my absence from this blog. But that's not the point of today's post.

Let's talk about internet safety and social media.

Today Patrick and I received a Christmas card in the mail that was addressed to the previous tenants at our apartment. So what does my crazy husband do?

He looks up the last tenants on Facebook.

I had a Facebook. I have an Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and Tumblr. I'm probably on another few less popular social media accounts . But here's the thing: my Facebook, Instagram, and one of my Twitters (one is more frivolous and the other is for more serious stuff) are all on lock down.

Were I still on Facebook and we were not friends, you would find the following information about me: One profile photo, one cover photo, that I am married to my husband, and that my last name changed from Gasser to Powers. That's it.

Were I still on Facebook and we were friends, you would find the following information: The same info listed, plus my past posts. You can't see my friends, my past employment history, my school history, or where I live. I'll also be honest and say that I used to list all of that information, but that was until I learned how it could be used against me. And this is certainly not to brag; it's a comparison... because listen to this.

In a matter of less than five minutes, Patrick was able to find out the following information by just doing a Facebook search on the last tenants:

- The reason they moved out was because they had a baby
- The baby's full name and DOB
- That the woman who lived here had a problem with the same neighbors that we had a problem with when we moved in.
- The woman's birthday, where she works and for how long she's been there, where she goes to school and what she's studying, how old she is, that she's religious, that she used to be a party girl, that she is trying to be healthier, that she's looking into daycare for her son and she lists which daycare (keep in mind that we were easily able to find out the baby's name), that she sells Lularoe, where she was originally from and where she lives now, that she enjoys going to a specific farmer's market around here, and MUCH MORE.
- Where the guy was originally from, that he races cars, likes "bad" music (Patrick's opinion), he's into guns.

If we had wanted to take it any further, we could found them on other social medias and we could have looked up public court records as well, because those are free to access if you find the right links and have names.

So this is an obvious a problem that a lot of people don't realize we have. Can you imagine how helpful all of that information would be to someone more malicious? To someone with ill intentions?

Even if you think that you're being safe with your information, take another look. Check to see what people can see publicly on your own social medias AND your kids' social medias. have a calm conversation about why you're doing this and why it's a real concern.

In this same realm of concern, check to see what information your car is sharing. That's right, your car. The other day when Patrick and I were driving, we saw a woman driving a car with two window decals on the back windshield, one for her son and one for her daughter. And just by glancing at those stickers, we knew that the kids were in high school (and therefore we had an age range), which high schools they went to, their NAMES, the boy's jersey number for football, the girl's cheerleading team, and that they were likely well-off because the car was nice and the schools were private schools. I also draw a lot of information from those stick figure decals as well-- how many people there are in your family, if you have a dog at your home that I need to be worried about, the approximate ages of your children and usually their sexes.

It's all information that someone can use in a bad way, and I can understand a person's want to brag and share their beautiful family, I mean even I have this blog and it's not in any way protected, but it's pretty hard to find unless you have the link.

When I was a single woman I was so paranoid about what I left out in my car, and that paranoia only worsened to the point where eventually I removed every single visible trace that I was a woman and what my age was (which meant taking down my graduation tassel from my review mirror and hiding my college notebooks/textbooks, in addition to everything else). When people know information about you, they can target you. You don't necessarily need to be scared or paranoid, but do try not to let these people use your information against you. And while you're at it, watch a few episodes of Criminal Minds. Maybe fear is what some of us need.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Goonies Never Say Die!

Hey everyone!

So my last two posts were about heading back to Michigan and the things that I've crocheted so far this year, but in the midst of all that I forgot to post about the awesome mini-vacation that we took after I got back from The Mitten!

For Patrick's birthday this year we decided to head to someplace we'd never been before: Astoria, Oregon! I have to say, it was nothing short of incredible. I've only ever been to a couple of beach towns before (all of them in California) and it was awesome to go to someplace with beautiful weather and a really lax kind of living but still get to stay in Oregon. I just love this state, you guys.

Though it was only supposed to be a one night trip, Patrick's work schedule opened up and we were able to tack on a second night and leave for our getaway a little bit early!

On the first day we wandered around town, checking out the different shops and museums and whatnot that they have there. For those who don't know, Astoria is the town in which The Goonies plot is set. And again, for those who don't know, The Goonies is one of my top two favorite movies (which I can't choose between). The actual Goonie house is still in town! Although we weren't able to go right up to it because apparently some fans have recently ruined the experience for everyone by going up to the currently occupied home and bugging the current owners to look inside and take tours, which is completely inappropriate. The house is actually on very short dead end street and there were signs posted that the residents would call the police. It seems a bit of overkill, but we weren't going to take our chances or disrespect the owners' wishes.

The view from our hotel room

The coffee shop on the corner of the block that the Goonie House is on

A dog that apparently hangs out in the shop with its owner and decided to pose in the front window (and yes, he was a real, live, moving dog)

A big tree. I really didn't get the whole story behind it, it's just big.

We also went to see The Astoria Column, which I didn't quite understand until we came right up to it. I'll link a bit of info on it here so that I don't explain it incorrectly. We had a great time driving through the neighborhoods and seeing all of the pretty houses on the way there!

The view from where the Astoria Column stands

Before we turned in for the night we headed to the pier right outside of our hotel and had a snack and drinks at Rogue Brewery. I wasn't a fan of the "Fruit Salad Cider" that I ordered so I made Patrick finish it (it had a strong whiskey flavor that I couldn't get past, but I at least tried it... obviously still on the search for tolerable alcohol!), but I did really love the tater tots I had!

On the second day (Patrick's birthday) we went to The Seaside Aquarium. Seaside is another beach town just across the bridge from Astoria. We got to feed seals and check out a color-changing octopus, as well as a bunch of other sea life! For lunch we went to someplace that Patrick was really gunning to try called Pig 'N Pancake. They gave him a piggy ornament for our Christmas tree for his birthday!

We were also able to go check out the three museums in town, The Oregon Film Museum, The Flavel House Museum, and the Columbia River Maritime Museum. The OFM is actually set in the old county jail where the opening scene in The Goonies was filmed! Though it was quite small, we were able to walk through it and see the actual jail cells and buy a couple of souvenirs. Patrick even won us a couple of buttons by correctly naming ten movies from a bunch of quotes on the wall/ceiling from films done in Oregon!

The Flavel House Museum was one I didn't actually realize was a museum until Patrick pointed out the sign, all I knew was that there was a pretty house and I wanted it. Too bad it's in use! What really appealed to me was the tower room, which was of course off limits. I was pretty bummed about that, but the rest of the house was really neat!

The Flavel House garden

Finally we hit the Columbia River Maritime Museum, which would have probably been very interesting if I hadn't had the hiccups the whole time. The place really echoed and I was way too embarrassed to pay much attention! We went back to the hotel for a nap before dinner that night.

This is a house that was for sale right near the Maritime Museum. Its intended purpose is/was a bed and breakfast! Patrick and I snooped through it and just about died over the original 1888 decor. Anyone have $579,000?

On our last day we left the hotel and first drove through Cannon Beach, which is where yet another scene in The Goonies was filmed-- the Three Rocks scene and the diner scene. The diner has since been remodeled and the area around it has been built up (because who wouldn't want to rent an apartment on the Goonie beach??), but we had a fun time walking in the rain on the beach because I insisted I wanted some sea shells.

I bought a rain jacket when we got home.

Click to see a panoramic of Cannon Beach!

We also took a bit of a detour on the way back and stopped at the Tillamook Cheese Factory for some lunch and a few grocery items to take back with us.

It was a short but totally enjoyable trip! In fact, now that we're both playing Pokemon GO, Patrick and I are probably going to drive back to Seaside this weekend for some more sight seeing and Pokemon hunting. I'm so grateful to live close to such beautiful places!

Some other general life updates are that thanks to Pokemon GO, we've been getting out way more (almost every single night you can find us at our local park where I'm actually talking to people, can you believe it?!), and that I'm currently recovering from a recently diagnosed but pretty old shoulder injury. I'm still waiting to get in to physical therapy but I am actually doing what my doctor told me to do (icing the heck out of it, taking the anti inflammatories that she prescribed, doing the PT moves I've been given so far, resting it as much as I can, etc.). I even got a body pillow to try to help me sleep so that I'm not rolling over to the injured side.

We're also going to have a busy-ish week next week since our friend Mike is coming to visit/run a Spartan race and my cousin and her fiance are moving here from Indiana! Her fiance is going to be finishing up school at a local college and I'm excited to have them both around! She and I didn't get to see each other much growing up because of the long distance and I find it funny that we have to move all the way across the country to be close to each other!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

2016 Crochet Projects Thus Far!

Hey guys!

Here's a quick, mostly-photo filled post of most (if not all) of the crochet projects that I've completed so far this year. Like always, I will try to post the link for each pattern, however please keep in mind that I almost always tweak something in one way or another so you may not get the same result!

First up: An owl and some baby hats (pink and purple-- the green was a test hat that used different yarn and therefore didn't turn out as well) for the baby from my last post, Leia! As a teeny tiny baby, she's still growing into the hats, but that just means she'll be able to wear them for many months to come!

Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy dolls! I actually don't have a pattern to give you because I came up with the pattern myself. I made these dolls down to the very last details, including their screen-accurate wands, their hand-painted ribbon scarves, and Harry's glasses, which I hand-shaped and painted! They're weighted down with pennies for stability. These were given to one of my lovely best friends, Ellie. She lives in Australia, so that's where they live now!

Along with the Draco and Harry dolls for Ellie, I made a Golden Snitch for her and myself! 

My cool ripple afghan! This took quite some time and quite a lot of yarn to complete. I believe there are 13 colors in total! Maybe one day I'll add a border, but I finished the main part of the blanket and then got tired of doing it! :P (In the photo, the blanket is upside-down. The top is actually at the bottom and vice versa)

Stego! This was for my friend Kerry, who loves stegosauruses. He is probably the most difficult project I've ever attempted, and because I hate sewing pieces together,  I put the project down for a few months, so he took quite some time to complete. His feet are weighted down with Canadian quarters!

This giraffe lovey is for a friend of mine who just found out that they're going to be a parent for the first time! The giraffe is, of course, a nod to my love of giraffes.

This bunny lovey is also for the baby Leia!

(of which I only used the bunny part-- for the blankie part, I used the same pattern from the giraffe lovey)

Here is Leia and her bunny lovey!
Photo courtesy of Karen Bova

Yet another project that I don't have a pattern to give you for is this Spongebob! A request from a friend for his nephew, Spongebob took a while to complete because I was making the pattern up as I went (when am I going to finally say "Yes, $4.99 for a pattern I'll get to keep forever is worth the time it will take to make up my own"?). I wanted something that I knew would keep its shape instead of bulging out through the stretch of the pieces, so I settled on 2" foam padding for his insides. His tie, shirt collar, the blue/white of his eyes, and teeth are all bits of felt that have been machine-stitched on, and his smile and eyelashes are hand embroidered.

That's it so far! I've got two other items in the works right now, both requests, but I'm having a hard time concentrating while crocheting lately so they may take some time. :)

Thursday, June 30, 2016

I Love Michigan Summers!

Hey guys!

It has been quite some time since my last post, but I finally have some good stuff to talk about since I'm just back from a Michigan trip! I had a fantastic time while I was there and I can't wait to share some of what I did with you all.

This time around I decided on a longer trip, which seems to be a theme with my summer trips home. I didn't go back during the summer last year so it was great to get to go back this year and do some of the things I've been missing so much!

First up, I got to see lots of family!

The day after I flew in, I got to go back to my elementary school and watch my oldest younger sister walk out for the very last time as a student there. Next year she'll be in 5th grade in a new school, which is something we didn't have when I was her age. I stayed at Cleveland through 6th grade and then went to middle school, which is now known as junior high!

I also got to attend one of Ella's T Ball games. I was shocked at how well she did; she definitely should have been in little league or something! She was one of the most enthusiastic players!

I reunited with my old friend, Arbok the corn snake, along with his owner Zach and the two new kittens living with them! Lots of furry kisses!

I met my sisters' hamster, Shadow, and he became my pocket buddy. He is the coolest hamster!

Obviously, Better Made chips were a must. James and Nate know what I'm talking about!

On Saturday I was able to see lots of family that I haven't seen in 10+ years when I went to my cousin's graduation party! It was great to see everyone :)

If I'm able to plan a trip around a holiday where I know all of my family will get together, I definitely try to do that so that I can see more people. I was lucky to be able to do that this time around, and I spend Sunday between the two sides of my family for Father's Day.

On Monday, which of course had to be one of the hottest days of the year, I sweated with my sisters, my mother, and Kerry through a zoo trip. I don't think I've ever flown through the zoo as fast as I did that day. I even had to carry poor Ella through the last quarter mile of zoo because she just couldn't keep up!

After the zoo, we drove to meet my mom's friend Karen, and her fresh newborn baby, for lunch. On the way there, there was a ton of traffic for this:

They created a full-color statue of that famous WWII photo of the soldier and the nurse kissing. I hope I can go back to see it when it's fully set!

Baby Leia!

After a long, cold shower, I spent the rest of the night getting my new tattoo and then going out to dinner with my friend Jeremy. I'll probably make an entire post about my new tattoo because I've had lots of questions about it, but I also need to take a current photo once it's done healing, because the process this time around was not easy or pretty and it looks a bit different than the photo I took the day after getting it done. If you follow me on Instagram, congrats! You've already seen it that photo!

One of my other goals in going to Michigan this summer was heading up to my grandparents' cabin in Hubbard Lake, MI. I hadn't been up there since 2009! I loved going up there as a kid and I was excited to be able to go again with my grandparents. My first order of business was picking a bunch of wild flowers, then I went down to our dock to check out the water, which was really choppy and rough the first day I was there!

Here you can see the water spray from where a wave hit a wooden barrier

My first night there I made the mistake (or maybe it wasn't a mistake, due to the outcome) of leaving my window open all night. I woke up around 4am totally freezing! Once I got up and dragged another blanket down off of a shelf, I was wide awake, so I made the crazy decision to grab a doughnut and a banana and then I went down to the dock to watch the sun rise. 

This photo is much larger than it appears. Click it to see a panoramic of the sunrise over Hubbard Lake!

That night we went to Smoky's to dinner. Smoky's is the local restaurant just down the road, which is super popular! We somehow turned up on a night that wasn't so busy and we had a delicious dinner. It was great to see the place and all of the renovations since the new owners bought it.

The next full day that I was at The Cabin, I did a bit of exploring, I took a nap, I drove the golf cart all over the place, and my grandma and I went out to get ice cream. I got one of my favorites, Moose Tracks, but this one was super tempting just because of the name:

I also got to see the sun set that evening. I'm so glad I decided to invest in a new phone before I left for this trip, because it took some incredible photos!

This photo is much larger than it appears. Click it to see a panoramic of the sunset over Hubbard Lake!

After a four hour drive home, I got to see my friend Lady again :)

I met a dog. Her name is Lady. I, the least dog-person-y person you have ever met, love Lady the dog. Unfortunately I wasn't allowed to bring her home because her owners love her too. She lives across the street from my mom, who I was staying with, so I got to see her often!

The day after I got home from The Cabin, I spent a night in Wyandotte with my friend Megan. It was so much fun! After a super late start because someone locked themselves out of their apartment, we had dinner at BD's Mongolian BBQ. Afterwards, we stopped in and got pie from this place called Dangerously Delicious, then we stopped in at a coffee shop and inadvertently saw a magic show (which I got a deck of cards from as a souvenir for participating in a trick). After a long walk along the water (where I waved hello to Canada!), we went out for some supplies and then spent the night at her place making bath bombs. Definitely not recommended, bath bombs are so difficult!

A tiny free library. How cool is that?!

Steve the Magician

The pier in Wyandotte

Hello Canada!


Sunday Sunset in Livonia, MI

One of the things I wanted to do this year: see the Spree fireworks! 

One of the very last things I did on this trip was take Ella to get her ears pierced (for the third time, apparently-- hopefully this time they stay in).

Other things I did on this trip include:
  • Lots of time with friends and family
  • Trips to The Han D Dip! Boston Cooler, yum!
  • Sheesh! ;)
On Tuesday morning I flew home, only to get straight into a car and drive to Seattle! There, we stood in line for so many hours I don't even care to count them in order to meet Chuck Palahniuk. I've tried to read two of his books and I'm personally not a fan of his writing style, but Patrick adores the man and was so thrilled to be able to meet him and have him sign a few things for us. It was a long day and I was crabby, exhausted, and starving by the time we left the book store, but a hole-in-the-wall Pho place fixed one of those problems, and a shower and a full night's sleep mostly fixed the other two. The next morning we drove home where I got to see my kitties, unpack, and finally relax in my own bed after 16 days away from home. 

The crosswalks in Seattle!

It seems that each trip I take home becomes easier and more fun, and this one was no exception. I'm thrilled that I was able to take this trip this year and I already can't wait to go back! Summer in Michigan is the best!