Monday, October 31

Thorns, Trunks, and Tusks

One of the first thoughts that come to my head once I open up the page to write a new post is: Wow. Tumblr really does take up most of your life once you start.

I joined up on my birthday after freeing up quite a bit of my online time by walking away from many FB games. *Rolls eyes* Way to nullify my attempt at being more productive. It's been addicting, fun, and frustrating when the servers or my browser crash. Sigh.

Anyways, what I really wanted to chat about was my attitude lately. I have been going through some very tough times emotionally but I'm on the mend now and my dreary demeanor should steadily improve.

On that note (?) Happy Halloween, everyone! I hope you guys have a fun and safe time celebrating (even if it's on a Monday this year... ugh, next year's going to be even weirder >_<). I really miss dressing up and walking around the brisk autumn air with my brother and friends around our neighborhood. It was sort of a happening place to be, especially my street, because there were a couple houses in a row that would put some effort into decorating and then a group of the families at the end of the block would work together to create a free haunted house.

It's heartbreaking to watch as neighborhood kids grow up, families move away, and fun community traditions fall to the wayside.

I'm the type of person who dreams of not letting that happen, of traditions only getting stronger, of trying new decorating ideas each season and year, of spreading the knowledge and joy with loved ones that comes with putting in even a little bit of effort into celebrating life and community. I try my best now by learning about how others celebrate, quietly appreciating holiday atmosphere when I find it, and doing little things like trying a new themed recipe, putting up a few decorations, and saving clippings of ideas to try in my own home (once/if that ever happens).

On top of today being Halloween, it was also inspection day for our Fall Bulk Trash Pick-Up Day. Fun fun. That meant that the SO and I worked all day yesterday to clear dead plant matter and trim dead limbs in both the back and front yards. We did have a few small household items to put out but within barely 15 minutes of placing them on the side of the road, scavengers had driven by and snatched them up. It's been amusing and baffling to watch them over the past few days scouring through piles of discarded waste for hidden treasures.

After all of our hard work, we have been rewarded with a much more open yard (expect you can hardly tell what we did/ how much we did without knowing how much was there before/ looking at the pile we made) and sore muscles. I actually have two scratched down my cheek from a dead ocotillo branch that fell on me despite my efforts to have to fall away from me. Again, it reaffirms my belief that nearly everything in the desert wants to kill you. It only bled a little bit but for some reason really stings, lol. I forgot about it when I took a shower last night and scrubbed my dirt-covered face hard. Needless to say, it stung really badly all over again. We're all glad that it missed my eyes. That really would have sucked.

Of course, we have our battle wounds from all of the mesquite we trimmed back or removed as well. There's one large tree right outside of the front door that is somewhat non-native and actually doesn't have thorns. I've shown plenty of pictures of it here already when it's little green leaves come in and that fact just makes me love it even more.

I think we're finally due for some autumn weather again this week. I feel a bit guilty about looking forward to cooler temperatures when there was "Snowtober" over in the New England area. I can't believe how sudden it all happened. All of the pictures of foliage that had barely changed colors being buried alive. I hope everyone has their power restored asap.

I actually have yet to overload myself on candy. Yet. We only had one group of trick-or-treaters come to the house this year and they were actually probably high school aged. We do have some kids in the neighborhood but I guess I don't blame them, it's not the most trek-friendly of areas. Shortly after that, we heard strange noises outside of our metal security door. Wondering why it was taking so long for the next group to come to the door, we got up and looked out. Guess who we saw throughly enjoying the jack-o'- lanterns that FMIL brought home today from school after the students had carved them?

Halloween Javelina. A herd of at least six of them and two babies. They friggin' love jack-o'-lanterns, apparently. I had forgotten that. They were polite enough to leave behind the electric tea lights as they fought over and scarfed down the pumpkins. These were taken by unlocking the metal screen door, cautiously sticking one hand out, snapping a few pictures, yanking my hand back in, and firmly shutting the door before repeating the process. They're like... grizzly bears. Somewhat harmless enough at a distance, but they can decide to charge at you at a moments notice and... well,  be very aggressive once they get to you. This is especially so when babies are involved and understandably so. Dogs and people fear them more than coyotes. They tore those pumpkins up. FMIL fences in the plants that they tend to favor like the yucca. One even took a few bites from the poinsettia that she had placed up a tower of bricks before it decided it didn't taste all that great. Oh, did I mention their unique smell? They are called "musk hogs" for a reason. >_<

Well, on that lovely note, I'm off to start dreaming of sugar plums dancing in my head. What? Too soon? :P

See you soon. <3

Tuesday, October 25

Don't Understand

Another week has gone by and although it's just the beginning of this one, life has gone downhill at light speed. While I won't get into details, I will say I can see rock bottom from where I'm sitting right now. As honest as I've been with myself for a while now, I did not see this coming so suddenly and deeply. Quite frankly, it sucks. I'm so terrified of what is to come but I know that life waits for no one. We'll just have to see. :(

I haven't been able to figure out how to easily shrink all of the pictures I've stored on Picasa without letting the downloadable program track way too much information about my life or without going through the several hundred pictures one by one. That's fine with me for now because I don't think I have anything new to share.

One of the things that have perplexed me the most lately are my Bird's Eye Chilies and Hybrid Cherry Tomatoes. I have very few red fruits on some of my plants but they're from newer smaller growths and not the fruits that have been around for weeks. Why are they ripening sooner? It's mind-blowing and I have resigned myself to never understanding a single thing about plants and gardening. My job is to just go with it now, lol.

The SO and I went to the first scrimmage of the college basketball season at the local state university this past Saturday. It's his favorite sports team and we went ahead and bought team shirts for the occassion. It was nice to be amidst the excitement and community support for these young guys who have been giving it their all. They also honored former members during the event and it was pretty cool so see people that I've gotten so used to watching on the television live.

Oh, I also finished this year's Christmas cards. Hey, at least I didn't finish them as soon as I did last year (mid-August). I also cut down the number of cards to roughly fifty and instead of postcards, made full cards. Tried a few techniques that are personally new to me and had a lot of fun. I won't post pictures of these until they're sent out in early December, so maybe I shouldn't have mentioned them. :P The two things that they share with last year's card are a snowflake theme (mostly unintentional) and a "Season's Greetings" sentiment (also mostly unintentional). As much as I have been collecting ideas and trying to design them since mid-August, until I got all of the supplies I wanted in front of me... Well, I had to change up quite a bit of my vision for them at the last moment. Despite all of that, I am very pleased with how they have turned out. I learned my lesson very well last year and stamped a nice message inside each card instead of trying to find several dozen ways to express the same nice things I wanted to say. This way, I can get away with just addressing and signing the cards or adding a quick note if I want to next month.

I think I'm going to do something personally productive and work out or something. See you soon. <3

Tuesday, October 18

The Fruits Of Labor

Nearly a week since my last post. Good job, me. :P

I had gotten dehydrated from the walk I took that day and it only got worse that night. Kitty's health seems to have evened out in a positive manner.

This past weekend, FMIL and I attended the long-awaited wedding of a co-working friend. This kind couple had been together for over 23 years and had finally decided to tie the knot. It was a fun day with an easy-going atmosphere outdoors.

I may have gone a little crazy in deciding what color to finally paint my nails. I also bought two new colors for myself this week as a little treat for surviving the beginning of the holiday party season. Here's my collection, thanks to my mom, so far. There had been a little spill a little while ago, but I didn't have time to do my nails and clean it up that day.

I also treated myself to an ice cream sundae or two with some leftover fruit (we made some fruit salad to bring to the pot luck reception). It was sooo good and pretty!

We made our quota this month for trying a new recipe from my favorite cookbook: Beef and Broccoli for the SO because he was a trooper in helping me run errands last week. He added plenty of chili sauce to his because FMIL and I can't handle that kind of heat.

The temperatures have gotten warmer again, into the 90's, and I really want the fall weather back. Mosquitoes have nestled into our household and eaten us alive. We've gone through the plants to clean out any still water and they are still driving us nuts.

I realize that I haven't updated about my garden lately despite the fact that I go out there everyday to tend to it in one way or another. There is so much fruit now! Just none of it is ripe enough to harvest yet. >_< I'm becoming increasingly impatient for that time, lol.

I moved the peppers last night to see if they benefit from getting more sun. Many of the oversize leaves have died off but I've noticed that the remaining larger leaves have started to yellow around the edges. Last week, I added more tomato food stakes again to help the fruit be extra-nourished.
Gryffindor's fruits.
 My mom said it was a very good sign in terms of heat and flavor that they were stout in stature.
Even Slytherin's newer branches have fruit.
 Ravenclaw's leaves yellow the most. :(
Proportionally, Hufflepuff is the fullest leaf-wise.
 The tomatoes need so much water nowadays. At least they've slowed down growing taller. Each plant has at least twenty easily spotted tomatoes now. Those are some bell peppers I'm trying to start between them.
So many!
 Ferb is the fullest and biggest.
I cannot imagine what they will look like if they do indeed get to one hundred.
Perry is often invaded by Ferb, but it doesn't seem to mind.
 The four jalapeños that are not a part of the sun exposure experiment, some Bhut Jolokia (Ghost Chili) peppers sprouting, and my initial batch of Parsley.
Jalapeño #1.
 Jalapeño #2.
 Jalapeño #3.
Jalapeño #4.
 Italian Parsley recovering after a rough day.
The lettuce is on the move again.
 My herb planter flipped around and thinned for the third time.
No sign of Sage, only one Oregano, and only two Chives. :(

Sigh, I need to go figure out how not to run out of storage space in my Picasa web albums now. Eek! I'll see you soon. <3

Wednesday, October 12

Holiday Treats

Looking at my last post, I think two thoughts: Whoa, I should have updated sooner & Sigh, I still vaguely cranky. Well, I was distracted by the plans that we had laid out and they all went swimmingly well but now that it's over and I've recuperated, I'm back to being frustrated.

I shall rewind a little bit so I can remember the good times for a little while! :P There were not as many Halloween decorations as I thought there would be, but that's okay. The cats have surprisingly ignored them all. The snacks were fun to make, especially because they wouldn't have won any beauty pageants but tasted delicious!

I don't think I've posted a craft project in a little while, so I'm going to grab the pictures from the workshop I taught!
 Part of a display I set up, mostly projects from previous workshops and new techniques I tried out.
 No layers, just the card base on this Halloween themed card using the masking technique.
 Halloween-inspired paper rose.
 Made using an ornament punch.
 Very simple but time-consuming to make, but I still love them.
 These are FMIL's projects. We had enough supplies so that everyone could make one of each color.
There's sour cream treat boxes filled with candy for Halloween, an apple cider slider pouch for November, and luminarias for the Christmas season that I had battery-operated tealight candles for everyone.

I was happy that I got a snapshot of everyone's completed projects because I always love seeing how differently they turned out despite having access to the same supplies. FMIL and I had plenty of time before our event and before the next to relax a little bit and prepare, it was so great. There were more than half a dozen home-baked goodies at the birthday party. Very interesting combinations and yummy. 

Today, I needed to let off some steam so I worked a bit in the garden thinning out more of the herbs (so sad!), doing some light weeding, and planting some bell pepper seedlings. We were all so surprised at the um... spawn rate? I know there's a special gardening term for it. Germination rate? Ugh, I can't remember right now. Anyways, I really did not expect there to be twenty or more seedlings vying for attention from the seeds I scooped out of the bell pepper fruits into tiny plastic pots. I chose three of each, planted them, and am re-using the old tomato cages. 

The weather has officially been autumn beautiful lately. 

I also went for a walk around the neighborhood. I haven't done that since I've moved here and it's not the friendliest of activities to do in terms of sidewalks and critters but I'm glad I did it. Sort of. I may have forgotten to change out of my flip flops into sneakers, gotten lost, had my cell almost die on me, and walk further than expected without any water. I'm a certifiable genius, I know. I did see a coyote crossing the street not too far away from where I was trying to taking pictures of the landscape. Maybe I'll plan out a more user-friendly route next time. It was a nice practice attempt at clearing my head.

Our kitty boy is doing much much better. We were still on alert all of this past week but he has rallied with minimal hiccups along the way. Thank goodness. Mmk, I need to get some rest after becoming a bit dehydrated today. I'll see you soon! <3

Tuesday, October 4

Post It

I'm feeling a little aggravated right now, so I thought I'd stop by and not necessarily vent but at least write about other happenings to blow off some steam.

With any loved one becoming ill, we've had our ups and downs for the past few days. The rallying and then the turns for the worst. We have come to the agreement that we're still in the danger zone in terms of our kitty's health. I've avoided getting caught up in anything else because I feel I should be on call for anything that may happen to him. It's been stressful to say the least.

Yesterday, between caring for him, FMIL and I went and bought the last of the supplies we needed. I can finally stop stressing about RSVP's and become a bit more excited about the actual event. It's kind of fun to whip out the holiday recipes a little earlier than normal. Now that I think about about it , we tend to make them at the last minute. We always have way too many goodies at our little get-togethers. It's how I roll and I think I am a fantastic hostess. :P I have been working on some fancy samples to display at the party.

Today, I started some comprehensive cleaning of the house in preparation to the workshop this weekend. The floors have been swept and vacuumed and just need to be mopped the night before. The cats and I shed extraordinary amounts of hair-fur. Most of what is left to do is straightening up which can be down pretty darn quickly. Also prepped the project supplies for all of the lucky attendees. I focused more on quick techniques than the decorating of projects. No cards this time! FMIL has already baked some pumpkin cookie cakes with raisins and walnuts in them topped off with a sweet lemon glaze. It's an interesting combo for sure!

Tomorrow, I've enlisted the help of the SO to bring down the Halloween decorations so I can start putting them up around the house with FMIL and we can enjoy them for most of this month and not just the day before. Man, expecting company over is really kicking our butts in line with utilizing our holiday gear to the max! We'll see how well the animals can co-exist with everything. I'm not too worries because we were able to have much of it around the house last year without too many issues. We may bake some cranberry bread too.

Thursday will be for baking the bread if we haven't already, finishing up the decorating if we gave up early in order to get some rest, and the beginning of hardcore cleaning-tidying. That should be fun. We can only prep so much food ahead of time because there's only so much room in the fridge and we can't keep it out because of the four-legged fiends. Eventually, we'll have cheese, meats, and crackers to add to decorated fudge brownies. There's a fun punch that FMIL makes that everyone loves too.

Friday is the night before everything happens. Even more cleaning and food prep. I hope I've picked out what I was going to wear. I did mention that after my workshop is done, we have a few hours to clean everything up and get ready for a birthday party, right? Oh yes, a busy day indeed, but it should be a total blast to have that much going on. Good food and good company make a world of difference and I can't wait.

Another straggler of a storm rolled on through but the garden continues to flourish. More peppers and tomatoes appear each day, the lettuce leaves get bigger, the herbs are doing their best while dill is fluffy and the most enthusiastic, the jalapeños are doing quite well, and I think we may have an appearance in the bell peppers! Or they could be weeds, lol.

A while later...

People are just... human. We are fundamentally flawed and gifted. Sigh. I think that's the best note I could think to end on before I worked up again. See you soon. <3

Saturday, October 1

Kitty Crisis

:( Sadness. Our poor baby boy is sick again. Something different. We spent a few hours at the vet when they squeezed us in. He has not been able to keep food and now nor water down and won't stop vomiting. He's so nauseous and became dehydrated. They were incredibly patient, understanding, reasonable, and thorough at the vet's office. We are so grateful for the entire crew there.

He's very unhappy with all of the hullabaloo , we're still unsure but have ruled out quite a bit of super major concerns and are now starting up a few treatments for other major concerns. Right now we're doing everything we can to keep him from getting any worse because much more than what has already happened and he'll reach the point of no return. We don't have too much going for us in our lives right now, but we do have this furry baby boy and its been a heart-wrenching few days.

He has responded incredibly well after starting some treatments and getting some shots and fluids from the doctor, he even ate a few bites when he got home! We're crossing our fingers that he can keep it down and that it doesn't hurt too much.

I'm in the midst of preparing many materials for my upcoming craft workshop, which falls on the same day as a sweets-themed birthday party, which is the weekend before I may have a second workshop for whomever wasn't able to make it to the first and a wedding! Phew. To top it all off, it's World Card Making Day today and just the thought of trying to make a few cards today kick starts me on a bit of a panic attack. >_<

When it rains, it pours. I cannot wait for the rainbow. See you soon <3
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