Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Angels in Disguise

Do horses have a morning ritual? I take my daughter to school at the same time each morning, and I drive by several pastures of horses. Each day, the horses line up side by side and appear to all be looking at something off in the distance. It's like the scene from that Nic Cage movie where the angels gather on the beach to watch the sunrise. Perhaps horses are angels?

A little while ago, my cat of eleven years crossed the Rainbow Bridge. She had been sick for about a week, and in my heart I knew there was a good chance she wouldn't be around much longer. As prepared as I thought I was, I still found myself crying uncontrollably when the inevitable came to pass. Afterwards, my eyes would well up at the tiniest thought of her.

I had a riding lesson scheduled for the afternoon on the day she passed away. Feeling I needed a distraction, I resisted the urge to cancel it. When I arrived at the ranch, my instructor told me to tack up Jupiter. My nerves quaking, I went to Jupiter's stall, put on his halter, led him out to the cross ties, and started our pre-ride routine. I'd ridden Jupiter before, but he can be difficult for an inexperienced, unassertive rider like myself. Still, I like Jupiter. He has lots of personality, is affectionate, and makes me laugh by using me as a napkin.

As I was grooming him, Jupiter brought his neck around and nudged me. A playful horse, he often does this. I turned to face him. "What?" I asked, amused. Jupiter responded by placing his face on my chest and standing still and quiet. I hugged him around the neck; it seemed like the thing to do. We just stood there for a few minutes, he with his face buried in my chest, and I with my arms around him. All my sadness melted away. I finished grooming and tacking up, and we had a great lesson. After that, I was fine.

Perhaps horses are angels after all, and my angel thinks I'm a Kleenex.

Monday, October 6, 2014

More Sugar Skulls

So you know how last week I said I wanted a whole house full of those skulls I painted? TA-DA!

I picked up three more skulls from Dollar Tree and had a ball. The purple one is probably my favorite. I really like these. Think I should do more?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Dia de los Muertos Skull

So I'm having a pumpkin carving party next month, and the theme is Day of the Dead. I've been scouring my favorite websites and local stores to find clever party supplies and decor. I thought I'd hit the jackpot when I found these online:

They are a set of Jewel Eye Skulls from the Los Muertos collection at World Market. Adorable, right? Well, I visited my local World Market to get a better look at these babies, and was disappointed to find that they're made of foam. From the looks of the picture I was expecting solid plastic, maybe ceramic if I was lucky, but nope, foam. Well, I wasn't about to pay $20 for something that would blow away if I turned my ceiling fan on too high. 

Luckily, my local Dollar Tree had these:

These are 6-inch, hollow plastic skulls. The one I bought had a little better paint job, but it was still your basic cheap, not scary. blow-molded plastic skull. But it was only a dollar, and I had a plan. You know me. I always think, "Why should I buy something when I can make it for less?" 

My next step was to purchase a 40-pack of 18mm acrylic jewels from Walmart for $2.50. I had all the paint I needed at home, including black and antique white acrylic paints, as well as a can of Rustoleum black primer for plastics and some Rustoleum spray-on clear enamel. I gave my Dollar Tree skull a good coat of primer:

Then I went to work on the details with a fine-tipped brush and my acrylic paint. Once that was dry, I sprayed on my enamel coat to make it shiny. Finally, using a hot glue gun, I added two purple rhinestones. Voila!

Isn't it wonderful? I didn't use quiet the same design as the World Market version, but I think I like this one better. I'm definitely going to make at least one more for my party. I love this one so much I kind of want a whole house full of them, and not just during Halloween, either!

Well, that's all for now. Happy crafting, folks!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Salsa Verde

So I made salsa, and I didn't take pictures. *GASP* I know, it's tough to believe. Time was kind of a factor though. About a week ago, we had a sudden cold snap that resulted in a hard frost that prematurely killed my garden. Excuse me while I take a minute to go sob in a corner... See, what you have to understand was that I was extremely proud of my garden, because it's the first real one I've had - I'm talking plants in the ground and a fence and everything. Did I mention I started it all from seed? If you know me at all, you know I don't have much luck with seed starting, and that usually results in a trip to the garden center to buy transplants. And when a freak hail storm in early spring destroyed my newly transplanted seedlings, I raised replacement plants from seed all over again. I was amazed at the success I had this growing season. Anyway, the god-awful frost froze my plants solid, and so I was left with a bunch of green tomatoes and half-ripe tomatillos on dead vines. Fortunately, I could spare the fruit, but I knew they wouldn't last long unless they were processed immediately. A quick internet search brought me to a recipe for salsa verde made from green tomatoes. I figured I could use this same recipe for both my tomatillos and my green tomatoes, and turns out I was right. It rendered a delicious batch of salsa verde that I will proudly serve at my upcoming Day of the Dead-themed pumpkin carving party (more on that in a later post).

So here's the recipe, copied from Ball's Fresh Preserving Website (link above):


  • 7 cups chopped cored peeled green tomatoes (about 12 medium)
  • 5 to 10 jalapeno, Habañero or Scotch bonnet peppers, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 cups chopped red onion (about 2 large)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • Ball® (8 oz) half pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands 


  1. PREPARE boiling water canner. Heat jars in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil.  Wash lids in warm soapy water and set bands aside.
  2. COMBINE tomatoes, peppers, onion, garlic and lime juice in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Stir in cilantro, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.
  3. LADLE hot salsa into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim. Center hot lid on jar. Apply band and adjust until fit is fingertip tight.
  4. PROCESS filled jars in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.
    Quick Tip: Use from 5 to 10 hot peppers to reach the level of heat you desire. When cutting or seeding hot peppers, wear rubber gloves to prevent hands from being burned. 

    A little info about my process: I didn't seed my jalapenos. I like medium to hottish salsa, and jalapenos for the most part don't contain that much kick to me. If you like a mild salsa, you absolutely MUST seed your peppers. You could also try using bell peppers in place of hot peppers to help turn down the heat. Also, I tried the little trick where you blanch the tomatoes first and then dunk them in ice water to help with the peeling process. I don't know if it was because the tomatoes were green, but it didn't really work as well as it does with ripe tomatoes. Just be aware that you may have to pull out our vegetable peeler for this one.

    I also made a batch of red salsa, but I had to supplement with canned, diced tomatoes from the supermarket because I didn't have enough homegrown, ripe tomatoes. I used the same recipe I blogged about a couple of years ago. That blog has pictures, for all you visual types! Later, taters!

    Monday, September 15, 2014

    Minecraft Birthday Preparations

    We're back to talking about birthday parties! This year, my little one wants a Minecraft themed party. Daddy introduced her to "the block game" when she was very small. Since then she's grown to love everything about it.

    A Minecraft themed party in some ways is simple because everything in the game is block shaped. However, this type of party presents a challenge because there just isn't that much to be found in the way of themed party supplies. Fortunately for me, I have left over boxes from our recent move to Montana, a color printer, and access to the internet. Lots of creative people have made free printables featuring textures from the game, which allows me to turn ordinary Dollar Tree party favors:

    Into Minecraft themed party favors:

    Likewise, all it took was some scissors and glue to go from this plain cardboard box:

    To these neat table decorations:

    For invites, party banners, food placards, and bottle wraps, go here.

    Well, I've got a little more in the ideas department here, but I don't want to give it all away at once. In the past, I'd do a GIANT birthday post with all my ideas and pictures shoved in there, but this year I want to do it differently. I'll post a few ideas at a time, and then when party day has come and gone, I will post overall pictures and then link you to the individual idea posts. I figure it'll make things a little less overwhelming in the end. As always if you want to see some Minecraft ideas that may or may not have made the cut, check out my Pinterest Party Ideas board.

    Catch you later, friends!

    Wednesday, September 3, 2014

    Superhero Costume Update

    Happy belated Labor Day, everyone! I hope you all had a good time on your day off. I have some new photos I want to share with you. I've been working on my little one's Halloween costume. She wants to be a superhero this year, and she's designed it all herself (with a little help from Mom, of course).

    So I recently finished her snazzy cape:

    As you can see, it's quite flashy. Just the right amount of sparkle for my little one (i.e. A LOT). Anyway, I want to take a minute to brag about the neck of this cape. I used red double-fold bias tape to line the neck so it wouldn't be too itchy. Well, if you remember some of my pics of the quilted exercise mat I did, you know that sewing bias tape isn't my strong suit. However, I NAILED it this time. The neck lining is as smooth as can be! Between advice from my mom-in-law and this tutorial, I finally got a binding I can be proud of. And that was sewing on a curve too!

    Beside the cape you see the costume's shiny belt. I love the gold star! I've also finished the mask, which is made from the same purple material as the belt. I don't have a picture of it yet, but I will soon. You may remember me stating that I was done with her tunic. Well... we had a little setback. I was done, until I had the kiddo try it on. It looked just awful. The superhero symbol on her chest was way too big; so much so that it went under her belt. The dress also hung on her like a potato sack. Definitely not the quality a superhero would expect, not by a long shot. So it's back to the sewing machine to fix my mistakes. I've got the tunic finished with the exception of the superhero symbol, and when that's done, I'll take some more pictures.

    Currently I'm saving the daunting task of sewing the boots and gloves for last. I'm not confident in my ability to sew stretchy fabric just yet. Good thing it's only the beginning of September, right? TTFN, friends!

    Saturday, August 30, 2014

    Ladybug Birthday Party

    Continuing the theme of birthday party ideas, I'd like to share with you the first themed birthday party I ever did - my little one's Ladybug 3rd birthday party. Since my daughter was a baby, she has always loved ladybugs. This led my mom-in-law to start calling her ladybug, and it also inspired me to try this party.

    As far as parties go, this one was pretty simple. The only party decor I made myself were the neon colored ladybugs. I ended up tracing, cutting, and coloring the dots on neon poster board to make about 50 ladybugs. I combined this with polka-dotted balloons from Walmart, and flower-shaped fan foldouts from Oriental Trading.

    The food was standard party food: pizza, chips, fruit, etc. Instead of a cake, I did cupcakes which I decorated with ladybug and flower-shaped candies (the kind you get in the cake decorating isle.) I then arranged them to look like a field (in my mind, anyway.)

    For favors, each kid got foil crowns and bubbles in ladybug bottles. The kids loved the bubbles, and even the adults got in on the fun. Between the bubbles and the balloons that I left on the floor for the kids to play with, I didn't even need any party games. It doesn't take much to entertain a toddler, apparently.

    It doesn't take much to entertain teens, either.

    Were I doing this party today, I probably would do a few things differently. I'd probably have made the flower ceiling hangers myself instead of buying them. I would have planned a couple of simple party games. I would have done more themed food. I would have used a piping tip to make the green frosting on the cupcakes look more like grass. I would have put more flowers and ladybugs on the cupcakes. In the end, however, those things are just for my satisfaction. My daughter had a blast at this party, and so did the other littles that came. 

    It doesn't take much to make a kid's birthday special. Whatever party you want to do, just go for it. They'll love it!