Turned my first (and probably only) engagement ring box

Just wanted to add some photos of the engagement ring box I turned for my fiancée to show my friends over at r/turning, so without further ado…

Turning blanks
Started with two blanks much like those seen here. This is a sample photo, not a photo of the blanks I used, but just wanted to give those that don’t know anything about turning, an idea of what most people start with.
The top is walnut, the bottom, zebrawood. I had an idea when I started of how I wanted it to look. Came pretty close I think.
The top is walnut, the bottom, zebrawood. I had an idea when I started of how I wanted it to look. Came pretty close I think.
I don't own a drill press, so the holes for the magnets were not super clean. Used some neodymium magnets that I got at Michaels for $5. They work extremely well. (1/4" by 1/8")
I don’t own a drill press, so the holes for the magnets were not super clean. Used some neodymium magnets that I got at Michaels for $5. They work extremely well. (1/4″ by 1/8″)
The inside of the lid has a few grooves in it still. Guess that is what I get for waiting until the last minute to finish this up. Added a few light coats of clearcoat sealer to give it that shine.
The inside of the lid has a few grooves in it still. Guess that is what I get for waiting until the last minute to finish this up. Added a few light coats of clearcoat sealer to give it that shine.
Almost ready. Just need some way to secure the ring...
Almost ready. Just need some way to secure the ring…
A few layers of burlap hot-glued around a piece of foam does the trick. P.S. The ring is a morganite stone set in rose gold with a halo of white sapphire stones with two white sapphire leaves on each side.
A few layers of burlap hot-glued around a piece of foam does the trick. P.S. The ring is a morganite stone set in rose gold with a halo of white sapphire stones with two white sapphire leaves on each side.
First engaged selfie
She said ‘YES’! If you want to read about the proposal, Shannon wrote a post on it here.

Ahhh. Home.

Naturally, leaving camp wasn’t easy. The feeling there is so peaceful and we were overwhelmed by the hospitality and love Serena and David shared. But rather than feeling sad at the departure, I left feeling fulfilled as I know camp will always hold a special place in my heart.

I spoke too soon last entry when I said the weather had been perfect and it rained the entire day Friday. We decided to forego the Kancamagus Highway despite it being toward the top of my to-do list (and finally learning how to properly pronounce it) as the grey haze from the rain severely limited visibility. Instead, we swung by “THE” Whoopie Pie Café in Bangor. As a whoopie pie connoisseur I can say they were above average but still nothing compared to Shipshewana. Everyone always talks about how well the Amish make dining room chairs and mantels but their whoopie pies are really where it’s at.

We barely made it to Hill Farmstead Brewing in northern Vermont before it closed as we were delayed by the rain. Oh, and the fact that it was in the middle of nowhere. No joke, it was about an hour from the nearest town and 25+ minutes of the drive was dirt roads. The beer was good but the atmosphere was less than expected. We just had a quick pint before continuing to Lost Nation for another beer and dinner—both exceptional—and then stayed in Burlington overnight.

Saturday was an uneventful drive. We were stopped in traffic for two hours near Toronto but still made it home at a decent hour allowing us Chinese takeout and last week’s episode of Fear the Walking Dead. Ahhh. Home.

Friday – 470 miles
Saturday – 780 miles
Grand Total – 2,631 (that’s gonna hurt the lease, lol)

For those of you following along on this adventure, we hope you enjoyed the blog series! (Hi Jackie!)

Best. Sunrise. Ever.

We are in love with Blue Loon!

That is the name of Serena and David’s camp. And for you non-Mainers, everyone calls their cabin or cottage “camp” here. Fun, right? David and Serena have a beautiful camp; we even have our own cabin and the entire place is majestic. As Dave mentioned, we arrived Tuesday afternoon after driving up from the coast. After a tour we relaxed, enjoyed a fantastic meal and chatted with Serena and David until we could barely keep our eyes open—which was only like 9:00 p.m. as we were exhausted from all of the adventures.

Wednesday we went sailing!!! Dave was skipper for a while that afternoon and I manned the helm all day Thursday. After a beginner’s lesson from Serena and David we are in love with sailing and right now Dave is searching for used sail boats on Craigslist. Lol. The feeling of the wind in our sails was indescribable.

Wednesday evening we drove to Bangor to meet up with Dave’s long-time friend, Kourtney and her husband, Patrick. We were invited to their lovely home and then they took us to two micro-breweries in Orono (also where the University of Maine is). It was a jolly evening despite the flat tire we had on the way down to see them. (Everything is fine now, Dad. It was a perfect little hole we were able to get filled at the tire shop after Dave changed the tire with ease in a random driveway.)

And on to the good part… Thursday morning we went for a sunrise paddle on the canoe. About three-quarters across the lake there is a little island composed of large rocks and apparently enough land for a cluster of trees to grow. We found a huge, flat rock and set up a little spot to watch the sun come up, complete with blankets and a thermos of coffee that Serena had packed on the canoe for us. Then out of nowhere Dave pulled out this beautiful wooden box that he had turned on his lathe and explained to me that it wasn’t just a box, but a jewelry box. I opened the box expecting to see another plastic lobster, a mood ring or some random trinket. (Have I mentioned Dave has been gleefully fake proposing for almost a year now?). This time to my delight I revealed an actual engagement ring and asked me to marry him. It was the most incredible setting for a proposal and now he is stuck with me forever and ever. We returned to find that Serena and David had champagne waiting and we all celebrated over blueberry pancakes. Best. Sunrise. Ever.

I am actually writing this on Thursday despite not posting it until Friday as we need some time to get a hold of our families to share the news. Right now we are probably traveling through Vermont, which we will write about when we get home (most likely late Saturday night).

We haven’t driven much up here but a quick glance at the odometer shows we covered about 160 miles on Tuesday, 122 miles on Wednesday and 27 miles on Thursday. And the weather has been perfect. Everything has been perfect.

A Great Place To Visit, Monhegan Maine

McDonald’s Cafe, Lincoln, ME
Day 6

It has been a couple of days since Shannon and I have had the time and internet access to fill you in about our adventure, and I do apologize. The last three days have been the best of our trip so far.

We left Freeport, Maine on Tuesday morning and stopped at the desert of Maine on our way to catch our boat in Port Clyde. For those of you who are not aware, the desert of Maine is the Eastern-most desert in the United States. It is quite small and is made up of mounds of glacial silt. It was quite beautiful at dawn, and was definitely worth the five minutes we had to check it out. Are you sick of the fish-eye yet?

We then left for Port Clyde and enjoyed another nice ride through coastal Maine. Arriving at the docks seemed to take nearly no time at all after the relatively short hour and a half drive from Freeport. It was nice not to have to sit in the car for five hours.

We departed on the Elizabeth Ann for Monhegan. We rode at the bow and enjoyed the salty breeze. It is safe to say that neither Shannon or I get seasick, as it was quite choppy up there.

About an hour later, we arrived at the island. As we were pulling up to the docks, our captain came out on deck and was overheard saying that someone had fallen in. As it turned out, he wasn’t referring to anyone aboard our craft, but instead a local fishing boat that was not too far from where we were floating. Lo and behold, we could see a man in the water. Our boat scooted over to the fishing vessel but the rest of their crew had no problem helping the cold fisherman out of the water. Our boat did however wait as the fishing boat took the soaking fellow over to the docks so he could get a hot shower and a cup of hot tea whiskey.

After disembarking, we had finally made it to Monhegan Island. What a place. I read online that the locals have a slogan for the island. It goes ‘Welcome to Monhegan Island, now leave.’ The place did a pretty good job of living up to that mantra. There is one public bathroom on the entire island and it closes at 4pm. If you are on the island after four, you have to walk back to your inn to use the facilities. The island is only a couple of square miles, but your own two feet are the sole form of transportation. So after drinking at the brewery for an hour or two, walking a mile round trip just to use the bathroom can get annoying. We deposited our bags at our hotel and started exploring.

We found a cool lighthouse, scrambled down to the rocks to photograph the beach, and eventually ended up at the brewery. Yes, Monhegan Island has a brewery. That may or may not be the reason we had picked it as a travel destination in the first place. Not surprisingly, they had excellent beer. Only four drafts on tap, but what can you expect on an island of sixty or so. The place had a small indoor area where beer was poured, but out front on the lawn was the spot where the beer was drank. We were there for no less than three hours, which was enough to get me ‘cut off’ after a mere three beverages. Granted two of them were 9.2% alcohol, but even so, I wasn’t driving anywhere and was still very coherent. Their explanation was they didn’t actually want tourists getting drunk on their lawn. Strange for a brewery if you ask me, but it definitely fit with the island spirit. They were happy to sell me a growler of their pale ale, which I proceeded to drink on their lawn.

We chatted up two college aged girls who were on the island to work for a couple of months. (Hi Milka and Bianca!) Drunken plans were made to hike to the Northeast side of the island to see the sun rise in the morning, and we left for dinner. That night we enjoyed some delicious seafood and called it a night.

The next morning we somehow managed to wake up at 5am. A few excedrin later, we were on the street ready for our foray into the wild side of the island. Upon waiting a few minutes, we realized we were going to be alone on the hike, so we started off. (We later found out that the girls were simply running late and we did not wait long enough. Oh well.)

Our morning hike ended up being quite a lot more than either of us expected. It was like a hike hike. We scrambled through overgrown thickets and across rocky outcroppings. All in all, we hiked for nearly an hour before arriving at our destination, blackhead. As we learned from conversation with the girls the previous day, and firsthand the morning after, Monhegan Island is having a real problem maintaining their hiking trails. I read online there are approximately seventeen miles of hiking trails. Much of the trail we hiked was eroded and in varying stages of collapse.

Shannon enjoying the sun rise.
Shannon enjoying the sun rise.

The sunrise was spectacular. Everything we could have hoped for. We snapped photos until the sun was up a ways and headed back to clean up and leave the island. We were exhausted, starving and thirsty as ever by the time we arrived back at the Shining Sails. They were kind enough to serve us fresh baked zucchini muffins and coffee, and we were on our way. We rode the Laura B back to Port Clyde and headed for camp.

Our drive up to camp was quite nice. We had the chance to stop at a seaside lobster hut and stuff our faces with lobster, crab and clam chowder. It made for a delicious lunch break. A couple of hours later we arrived at Blue Loon. Shannon wants to take over from here, so this is where I end.

Our delicious lobster lunch.
Our delicious lobster lunch.


Made it to Maine!

Bed in our hotel room
Day 2
Miles driven: ~320 (about 1000 overall)

I am going to keep this short as we have a lot of things planned for tomorrow and I am already pretty tired. Today we found ourselves back on the leaf-peeping highway along with a few dozen other peepers looking to get in on the fall action.

We set out from Saratoga Springs and made our way through New York to Vermont, New Hampshire and eventually Maine. We only stopped at three breweries today, my favorite being a locals-only speakeasy type of place with the only entrance being around back. It was fittingly called ‘Some Brewing Company.’ The most interesting drink I tasted today however, was had at Portsmouth Brewery. It was a hard cider brewed with habañero.

As we drove up the coast of Maine, we couldn’t avoid an obligatory stop for lobster from a seaside window. It happened to be within view of a nice looking lighthouse, so we peeped on that as well. The night was capped off with dinner with my cousin Andrew and his wife Christine and their new baby boy, Aiden. What a cute and very happy little guy! Without further ado, here are some photos from the day. Tomorrow, it’s off to Monhegan Island.

Breweries, Breweries and more Breweries

Sofa in our hotel in Saratoga Springs
Day: 1ish

What a difference one day makes. Yesterday was somewhat of a bummer. We experienced the overly kitschy Niagra Falls area, got turned away from one brewery and had an ho-hum experience at another. Not awful, but nothing to write home about… (I know, I know)

Today’s experience was vastly different. We started out in Buffalo and headed east. The first stop of the day was a happy mistake. We missed a turn and ended up in Utica, home to Saranac. We payed $5 each and sampled a few of their concoctions. The best in my opinion was a single malt barrel-aged scotch ale. It had all of the flavor of a shot of good whiskey without the harshness of a gulp of the hard stuff. We continued on.

Driving through the Adirondack area of New York was quite fun. Taking the back roads exposed us to a taste of the changing fall colors. Here is a sample:Starting to see some oranges and red.

While much smaller than yesterday’s falls, we did stumble across some rushing water and stopped to take some pics. Here are just a few: (We played around with a new fisheye lens as well as some of the shutter speed settings on my camera. I think we got some cool effects.)

After loitering around the river bend for a bit, we decided to get back on the road and find some more beer to drink. It didn’t take long to come across Adirondack Brewery. Had a nice stout and met a couple of dudes that pointed us in the direction of a new brewery in Glens Falls called Common Roots Brewing. I can’t say enough good things about this place. The beer was excellent, (I had a sour wheat ale and a citrusy ginger pale ale) but the company was better. We chatted with some of the locals – what up Chris and Josh – and had a great end to our first full day on the road. Keeping it short so I can get to sleep. Another long day of driving awaits in the A.M.


p.s. Here’s one last photo that sums up our day.Good times, good beer.

The Exploitation of Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls wasn’t what I expected. We had a specific destination of Niagara Brewing Company and I was excited to add that glass to our collection (we get a pint glass at all the breweries we visit). However, after four-plus hours in a car without stopping (despite the need for a restroom pit stop about three hours in) we arrived… only to find out it was rented for a private event and closed to the public all night. *sad trombone* We ended up eating at the Hard Rock Niagara, which was high on price and low on flavor. Meh.

But that wasn’t even the disappointing part. The whole Niagara Falls area was just so commercialized. I honestly felt like I was back in Vegas, only this time it was targeted toward 10-year old children. And not that I have anything against family fun, but it was extremely over-the-top, especially considering the town exists thanks to a natural landmark. The sidewalks were lit-up with neon signs from haunted houses and theme-park styles attractions and the streets were littered with wrappers from all the bulk candy, popcorn and pizza for sale. Music was booming from every possible location and parking was limited an over-priced. It just felt like the falls were being… exploited.

Then we went to the falls. (To add to the story I feel I should mention that I have never seen them before.) We walked a block or two to the lookout area, bobbing and weaving around the designated tourist paths. And then I saw them. The Niagara Falls. They were INCREDIBLE. I mean, HUGE. Way more massive than I anticipated. Oh, and did you know… There are TWO of them?! I mean, I guess that is why “Niagara Falls” is plural, but no one really mentions the fact that it isn’t just one waterfall. I had to take a moment and absorb the massive greatness around me.

But only for a second because it was cold and late and we really just wanted to get to our hotel in Buffalo. Also, our phones weren’t able to capture the beauty of the falls accurately, and again, we were freezing and didn’t want to walk all the way back to the car to get the good camera, so the only picture we have is the iffy one below.

Selfie at Niagara Falls

Any-who, we checked in to our hotel to find out we were upgraded to a suite due to my points (thanks, MSU). We are at the Hyatt and it is gorgeous. After dropping our bags off, it was 10:30 and we headed to the closest micro-brewery. After the last brewery was a bust I was looking forward to chalkboard-wall menus and chatting up the bartenders about IPAs. However, the brewery was far from that. It was packed with this very odd crowd of young professionals, perfectly dressed in muted tones with clean cut appearances. I felt like we were on a movie set. The beer was great and we chatted up a few locals that happened to be UM fans and at the game last weened before retreating for the night. (Don’t worry, we got a pint glass for the collection.)

I forgot to note the miles driven today and I am not going to the parking garage to check it out at this point, so I will leave you all in suspense until I update this post later.

Update: we drove 303 miles.

Tomorrow: hiking and photographing the Adirondack Mountains in upstate NY and then a few micro-brews before staying north of Saratoga Springs (for free on more of my points). Yessss.


Ready to Peep Some Leaves

We head out tomorrow in 15 hours on our trip and we are both totally ready. All packed, house is clean, work is set and car is prepped.

Just kidding. None of that is true.

One thing I have done to prepare for the trip was create a custom map (thanks, Google). As much as we wanted to be whimsical about the plans, we still wanted to see as much as possible so a basic route seemed logical. Therefore, I created a map with a general outline of the trip, although it is fully anticipated we will deviate along the way.

I separated all the places we wanted to visit into three categories—views, brews and chews—each color-coded accordingly. (See what I did there? They all end in “ews.” Eh? Eh? Cute, right?) There is also a rough schedule of our drive. If you see anything that is a must-see or must-do that I have neglected to include, be sure to let us know. I also plan to update it along the way as we stop at more places and I hope to add a photo for each place as well (full photo collections from the trip will live in albums elsewhere on the site).

I’d love to keep ranting about our trip and my love of color-coding maps, but I had better go pack. Dave is currently in the garage building something for his camera to slide on… less packed than I am.

Tomorrow’s adventure: surviving what will undoubtedly be the longest day ever at work and then Niagara Falls!

This just in: Hurricane Joaquin might be coming. Awesome.