Monday, November 07, 2016

Halloween Fun, A Bit Late

Hi everyone,

We've had a busy latter part of October. And I'm just now getting our Halloween pics up. I know, I know. But hey, it's before Thanksgiving, so that's a step in the right direction!

And...I'm not doing things out of order like the stores seem to be doing. I half expected Halloween candy to go on sale on Oct. 20th here since Thanksgiving and Christmas started creeping in to the stores.

Ridiculous. Each holiday has its own month. Leave it at that!

Okay, enough of a rant. *steps off soapbox*

This Halloween, we did the traditional pumpkin carving. I poked it out and Mr. K did the carving cause he's more patient with the little things than I am.

Mr. K was pretty happy with the design he found. "Here there be dragons."

Mochi would not move from the picture, so you get a blazé dog in there too. Sorry guys.

We then suited up in our costumes. We missed Trick-or-Treat on Main Street this year, but that's okay, because we went to the Pumpkin Glow.

Which is less crowded and has less candy (which I can't have)

Can you guess what we are?

Maybe this will help? 

Yup. Red Riding Hood, the Huntsman, and the terrified wolf (aka: Mochi)

What is the Pumpkin Glow?
Great question.

It's an event where anyone who wants can submit their carved pumpkin to be on display for the town to see and then they light them when it gets dark. We didn't go when it was very dark though. As with most town events, crowds happen and Mochi is still working on dealing with that large of numbers.

Parades are fine though. Go figure.

Anyway, it was a great night for it. Perfect weather, clear skies. And my phone was charged.
Small benefit of having a better camera on the new phone. :-)

Here are some of our favorites from the evening.

The cat-kins

Love the owl and the paw print (UCONN! Huskies!)

I believe that might be Serenity on one pumpkin, but I was amused by the painted one.

Not easy to do a tower of pumpkins, but Jack Skellington
at the top was awesome.

A couple single pumpkins stood out.

This one's for my mom. Dolphins!

For all you cat lovers out there, and for Mr. and Mrs. P
in CT, this one's for you!

Gotta have a bunny. Miss O, Miss A, and Mr O, this is Moose.

This one was really cool and had different lights on inside. I tried to get a pic of it in its full glowing glory, but alas, it was not meant to be. Believe me though, this one rocked the lights. Disco Graveyard.

This one is gorgeous. I remember the painting in my HS English class and have
 always had a special place in my heart for the sheer emotion it conveys.

And Halloween is not complete without a werewolf or Lycan.

We wandered through some more and then we came to the specially carved ones and that's where I was blown away by the town's talent.

This is apropos since my family comes from a long line of Navy guys. And especially with the latest win over Notre Dame. Go Navy! 

Lest we forget what season we truly are in... VOTE!

But this one is my fave. I love the nod to our state and our parks and the culture.

Another parks nod. Just beautiful. Love the Southwest!

They even had a light glow with strobe lights and music and a floating ghost.

 It was getting dark and due to the construction on our main street, there were no real streetlights. So, we decided it was time to head home.

Mr. K lit our jack o' lantern and we were pretty happy with how it turned out.

And our loyal hound decided to stand guard just for a minute outside and protect our home from the terrors of the neighborhood...rabbits.

So with that I leave you to enjoy your fall and get ready for Thanksgiving. I'm sure I'll have a nice post after the holiday.

Until next time,

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Updates and a Sunset

Hi all,

Back again. Today's a small post because 1) I don't feel so great and 2) The pictures will more than make up for any lack of content.

On to the updates!

Writing Front-

   I'm currently revising my fantasy romance and am about to tackle the hardest part for me-
Rewriting the ending.
   Or rather, increasing the stakes my two main characters must face (so, beefing up a little of the second part of the second half) and then plummeting the two of them to a place so dark that it looks like they will never survive the effects/results/embarrassment/and whatnot (what we call the All Is Lost Moment). Then I'll be picking up the pieces and they will have to make sacrifices to make it to the happy ending.
   Easy, right? No big deal.
   Riiiiiight....this is why I've been avoiding it for so long. But Mr. K says I need to get my butt in gear and write the dang thing already. Then I can go back and fix plot holes. (I'm looking at you, gloves. Why on earth did I think adding cut out gloves would help matters in the magic world? Cutting them out as soon as I can get at them again.)

   In other news, I've started a writer's critique group in Los Alamos. We meet every other week and discuss/dissect our chapters, polishing them to a pristine glow. Or so we hope. I love it.
I love critiques.
   No seriously! After France, I've been starved for such wonderfully brutally honest critiques as my group gave me there. This group is doing very well and the critiques are honest and genuinely important. Each person brings something awesome to the group. Soon enough we'll get to the point to be able to tell each other that we just don't like a part and that it should be scratched entirely.
   And I'm getting in on another critique group that's going to be by email via my Romance Writer's of America branch, Land of Enchantment Romance Authors. These guys know their onions and also what works in a romance novel, which is kind of the point. It's going to be fantastic.

Other other news, I've given myself until October 20th to revise and polish my fantasy romance before I send it out for beta reading with an author who will rip it to shreds completely. And I'm terrified and thrilled at the same time. Good for me. I need that date. Otherwise, I will never finish the revising.

Okay, moving on.

Health Front-
   Low-carb diets suck. I hate it. Abso-friggin'-lutely hate it.
   Somedays it's fine. Like, "no biggie, I don't care about fries or your brownies or pancakes. I'm totally good with my salted nuts and string cheese here."
   And then there are days when there aren't enough french fries in the world to appease the cravings. And the mere scent of walking down a candy aisle or entering the grocery store (because we're gearing up for Halloween now...) is torture. That sweet scent of wrapped terrible chocolate (you know what I'm talking about) smells like heaven.
   It's days like these that I want to remove my nose entirely. Give me bland smelling chocolates. Make them smell like rotten turnips.
Then again, don't.
   They say that what you smell you taste, too. And I have no desire to taste rotten turnips.
   So...if I just walk down the aisle enough, maybe I will get enough aroma to actually taste the chocolates. Halloween, you just saved yourself. I digress.
   Anyway, the main thing is I have to keep in mind end goals. And the doctor's orders. And if I deviate from what he said, pain will follow me. (Trust me on this one; it isn't fun to indulge in a medium fries no matter how much you want them. The guilt followed by rejection are not worth it.)

Benefit: Your meals get more creative. Your health stays right where the doctor wants it to be. And you do lose weight- not my goal, but it happens.
(I'm currently at my lowest weight since being a full time athlete in high school)

Downside: There's a detox period (dude, it's seriously like a drug). You get grumpy. You get tired. Your clothes will be baggy. You will be forced to buy new clothes. (I'm told some people like this part...I don't necessarily because we're trying to save money.) And you get more pointy- elbows, knees, butt...

So until the doc says I can (slowly) add them back in...just gotta suck it up. And keep reminding myself that.

Okay, what else?

Other Front-
   Our peach tree went crazy this year. I canned a lot, since I can't quite eat them right now. I had friends come and pick. And Mochi has absconded with more than her fair share of them (I've never seen a dog so in love with fruit). It is finally winding down, which means we only have a few dozen left on the tree. I'm leaving them for the birds. I'll just clean up when they're done.

   Subbing. It's amazing. I absolutely love it. My favorite is still Middle School. (Shout out to them!) Even on the rough days, it's still something I wouldn't think of giving up.
I get asked a lot: Don't you want to be a teacher?
My answer is usually, not really. I became a sub because I like that job and its flexibility. I don't mind stepping in to help out. But I know the work those teachers go through and I do not envy them. Hats off to all my teacher friends (and mom)!

And now for some amazing pictures:
Last writer's group was held in the Fire Watch Tower in Bandelier National Park.
The only fire we saw was the one from the sky. Amazing sunset views. Always good to know the watch-woman.

No filter. None needed. Glorious.

Even the brush looked lovely that night. 

I am reminded every day just how much I love where we live.

Until next time,

Friday, September 09, 2016

The Desk That Took Three Months To Finish

Hi again!

So Mr. K and I have been busy. We've been restoring a gorgeous solid oak desk that I picked up at a Veteran's Sale here in our town for $16. And it's taken us a while to do it too. But...well, you take a look. I think the end result was well worth the blood, sweat, and tears.

We started roughing up the top with 80 grit sandpaper only to find that what we thought was the top wasn't real. It was a terrible wood veneer.

This was when Mr. K discovered the joys of sanding.

You can see here what I'm talking about. The left side is the veneer. Sand that away and you're left with this gorgeous solid oak core just begging to be freed from it's prison.

We happily saved it. 

Ah. After a week straight of sanding, countless face masks, and Monsters and Men on repeat, we finally did it. All the veneer came off and we were left with the raw, untouched beauty of the desk's surface. Our muscles (and neighbors) thanked us for the break.

Enter these guys. We originally wanted to sand the entire desk and do it in a stain...but after the top, we decided to do a two-tone look instead. Mr. K chose the colors since it would be his desk, after all. English Walnut stain with a semi-gloss polycrylic coating for the top. (Note: not shellac or polyurethane- we wanted the wood's natural color to be present and those two tend to yellow with age)

And this was the choice for the bottom. A satin finish coffee color with primer already in it. Easy to wipe off and pretty forgiving. Gorgeous! 

We used a tack cloth to get all the bits off and then used the wood conditioner, following the instructions on the can. We live in a very dry state so any conditioning is wonderful. Besides, it helps with an evenness of the staining later.

Here we're mid stain process. Look at that grain!

Voilà! Stained! So lovely. 
Let's get a second look at that, shall we?

Mr. K is cleaning up the insides of the drawer cavities here. We've applied five coats of the polycrylic coating to protect the desk's surface. We hand sanded with 220 between each coat. Don't recommend using the rotary sander for that job. It took off almost all the work we'd put in and there were tears and shouts of panic. Hand sanding, that's the way to go.

Here's a teaser after one coat of the paint on the lower part of the desk. Lovely colors, eh?

Mr. K showing off his special order handles. His choice. And I think they look smashing! 

He did have to use a bolt cutter to make the screws fit the drawers. The original screws that came with the handles were too long. The hardware store sold tons of screws but none of them were the right size. Apparently the screws for the handles are not standard size. Enter our friend, the bolt cutter.
Used bar soap to rub the insides of the drawer cavities to keep the painted drawers from sticking and put the drawers in. Oh and that center drawer has a lock and key. Here, we're almost done. One tiny little detail remained.

Ah, yes. My special project for the desk. I glued an old world map down onto the bottom of the drawer then coated it with high gloss polycrylic so Mr. K could essentially throw anything in the drawer and not have it ding up the map. Turned out great, even if it took two days to complete. I touched up the front a bit more after the pictures here. But we left the sides paint free. 

I'd say it looks pretty decent. And the colors match perfectly. 

The best is last. We had to move the monster of a desk to the back room of the house. It's solid oak, mind. And big. Two things that don't always go well together in a small house. But with the help of a few friends (thanks Mr and Mrs C!) we managed to get it there and finally settled in Mr. K's office. 

It's perfect and Mr. K couldn't be happier. But we've decided no more big projects for a while.

Until next time,

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Maybe It's Spring, Maybe It's Just May

Hi all,

So what have I been up to? A bit.

First off: catch up.

One of the things I've been enjoying is Canvas and Cocktails at the Fuller Lodge.

What is it?
Glad you asked. It's an art session in a wine bar.

It's fun. There's wine. There are artists. There are people who have never done art before. The instructor demonstrates and then says to let yourself go and be free.
The best part is you learn a new technique every time you go.
The wine is nice too, if that's your persuasion.

Here are a few pics I have from the last two sessions with my friend, Mrs. E.

(Side note: Not sure if I'll keep my paintings, but it was loads of fun and affordable to get out and just create.)

Here's the Raindrop Tree.

My creations. Technique was paint dripping with alcohol drops and water sprays. "Raindrop Trees"

My friend's creations

The next session was Rainbow Tree.
(It's an actual thing. I looked it up. You can read up on it here.)

Mrs. E showing off her work.

My turn

Yeah, mine's on the left. The tree got wonky somewhere in there (no wine involved). But it was a lot of fun to be messy.

What you can't see in the picture are my jeans. I managed to drip paint onto them. It's Tempura paint, it comes out. I can get out most stains because...well, it's me.
If I don't get paint, dirt, charcoal, red sauce, wine or the like on my clothes, it means I'm sleeping.

Anyway, the main point is don't wear your silks if you go.

So yeah, if you're into art and being messy and wanting something fun to do that's not too expensive ($30), check it out.

Okay, what else?
My sister came to visit. :-)
Miss K stayed a week in April.

(I know. That was last month. You can scold me when you see me. IF you see me.)

We went all over: Bandelier Monument, Santa Fe, Ojo Caliente, around town, Jemez Springs for a drive and just chilling. She's a cool gal and it was fun.

But fun.
(Love you, K!)

Here are some of my fave pics from her trip.

Sisters, Sisters

Valles Caldera!

Jemez Springs!

Bandelier National Park

In a dwelling in a cliff.

Picture of sweetness

Yes, we climbed up that face on those ladders. 

Come to find out, my sister has a slight fear of heights. Did not know that. But she is a trooper!

Hike to the falls. 

The source of our hiking! Waterfall! 
My sister being herself! Love that girl!

We also went wine tasting at Black Mesa Winery

She made a friend.

Then we went to Meow Wolf (which needs a blog post in and of itself!). It was a blast.

Probably my favorite moment ever. She discovered the bones make music!

And of course a trip to New Mexico wouldn't be complete unless you had a 180 shift in weather. 75 and sunny one day, then BOOM, snow the next.

And Mochi even liked her.
Best of buds

It was sad to see her go, but I know she'll be back.

Then my Mom came to visit. :-)

We went to St. James Tearoom for a Royal Tea and belated Mom's Day. The food and experience was amazing, as always. And I love that every nook is a different room and decor.
If you haven't been and you love tea, go. You won't be disappointed.

All dolled up

The spread.

I took Mom to Vivàc for a wine tasting. She got to experience the weirdness of NM weather too.

Mind you, that photo was taken before the wind kicked up and blew over her chair and her jacket. Lucky for us we were in a sheltered nook. But yeah, we had a thunderstorm come upon us, rain hard, then it was gone and there was only sunshine.

Momma left Wednesday. And we won't have any family visitors for a while.
Of course, the day after she left, it dropped about twenty degrees (40F!) and rained.
But, I got to break out my new Irish scarf that Momma brought back for me from her UK trip.

Yet, even that wasn't enough. I was cold!
So I broke out my "sheep" (aka: wool Aran sweater)
And then all was better again.

Ok, what else?
Getting over bronchitis and pneumonia. Never fun. Especially when you get them back to back. I got sick the weekend before my sister came in.
Didn't rest.
And though I had heavy meds, I didn't kick it.
Enter round two of the heavy meds and instructions not to teach or be around kiddos for 2 weeks.
Mom came to visit in week 2 and I rested more than I did with K's trip, but I still have the hack.
And I'm exhausted. I have no energy to be around lots of things or around lots of people. So...yeah. More rest needed.

On the baby diet front I've lost 8 pounds. (yay)
It's been an...experience. I'm usually really good. I keep a daily chart on my wipe board.
Chia Seed puddings and Chicken/veggie dishes are my go to. (Found a puttanesca spicy and tomato based dish with olives-to die for!)

And then there are the days that it seems impossible. When all I want is a slice of toast with jam on it. (sad, isn't it?) But the end goal is what I have to look at.

But...there was last night. Got home late and had left out meat to'd been out 8 hours (forgot it was there) and had to throw it out. I cried. There was nothing planned for dinner and I didn't want to eat another hard boiled egg and mayonnaise or have Caprese salad...again.
So I made pasta, sprinkled parsley, gruyère cheese, added half a chopped tomato, and called it a day.
It was so worth it.
Today is a new day. And the carb counting resets each morning.
There is hope.

I've been bad about keeping to my schedule. It's hard when I have family visiting. But I did use the time to read (which is just as important). I also may or may not have wandered a bookstore for 2.5 hours after I dropped my mom off at the airport. I got some reference materials and three new books. :-)

I'll be back to the schedule now: Afternoon writing sesh with a smattering of morning writing.

Plus, there's my Creative Writing course starting up in June. June 7th to be exact.
Which reminds me...I better get the course book. Yay Amazon rentals.

Ok, Training the pup.
It's going well. She's better about walking. The barking at home though...we're going to address that tomorrow with the trainer. But it's worth it.

And, my friends, that's all folks.

Until next time,

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