Fall time is the best time (Turn your fake pumpkins real)

I love fall. It is decided. This is my favorite time of year. In Oregon fall time is different than other parts of the country, like Indiana, or Maine, or Texas. Not really sure how much fall happens in Texas…

It starts to rain more in fall, and I hate rain. Well not hate. I just really don’t like being out in the rain, if I can help it. Why do I put up with it? Cause all that rain makes it so green and beautiful.

Anyway, rain isn’t what I’m writing about this time. It’s Fall. So there’s rainy days that make staying inside all cuddly with coffee or cocoa so great. And there’s to color of leaves, and the crisp early mornings. The fog that rolls across the ground and the boots and sweaters and scarves.

And the start of the Holiday Seasons!!

I pretty much started on the first day of fall pulling out all that I had and figured out what more I needed.

Last year I purchased some fake pumpkins from Goodwill which is the best thing you can do really. Because it rains so much real pumpkins can mold faster out here. I’m still using real pumpkins, don’t worry! But I got some fake ones too. There were two problems however….

1. They are light. Super light. I spent most of last fall chasing them around our house. It gets really windy where we live and I have nothing around our house to block gusts.

2. They look fake. IMG_2200.JPG

Bright orange fake-ness.

I did some searching and found a way to make it less fake. Yeay!!!

Here’s what you need!!!
• Paint brush (optional)
• Paper Towels or Rags
• Antiquing Gel
• Paint (Burnt Umber)

IMG_2201.JPG

I used Martha Stewart, yes, I hate myself a little bit for it, but when I live out in the middle of nowhere, my options are limited.
Now the burnt umber paint, it looks super dark…And I had my serious doubts but that’s what the instructions said.

I used a bowl and mixed some Antiquing gel and paint together. It was pretty runny. I used a paint brush at first, a big ol’ bristly paintbrush. I said it was optional because maybe you can skip it and use a rag to apply. Think of like a stain where you rub on and rub off.

After I painted a section of pumpkin with the paint, I took a paper towel and wiped it off. Sounds weird but there was enough stain on it to make it look awesome!!

The antiquing gel and dark paint together gave my garish orange pumpkins a beautiful, natural look to them.
IMG_0270.JPGIMG_0266.JPG

And this year I am leaving them inside so no chasing pumpkins.🙂

If you have fake pumpkins that are too fake, try this trick and make them look FABULOUS!!
Until next time!
DFTBA
Becky

Extra bonus!!
The rest of my interior fall decor. The exterior is a work in progress.
IMG_0272.JPGIMG_0269.JPGIMG_0271.JPGIMG_0268.JPGIMG_0274.JPGIMG_0273.JPG

Poor Little Snobby Bratty Pepper

Poor Pepper.
She’s such an old lady.
Brandon has a cat, she is older than our other 3. That’s right…I said 3.
She is older, like about 8 years old. Which in cat years is like 2000. Not really. But she’s old. I call her the old lady.
Pepper has been through a lot in her life. Brandon got her in college, but when he moved a year later I took her for about two days then she went to his grandmas farm where she ran away for almost a year living as a wild cat on the farm. She is small, a small cat compared to other cats. She was beat up a lot and eventually came home with sores, scabs, and worms.
Brandon got her treated and fixed up and all better, physically.
She was emotionally not well though. Hates me completely and totally anxious and stressed out.
She started licking all the hair off her body.
So we got another cat. Kitten. Really original name I know!
She stopped licking all the fur off her body. Then we moved and Kitten had babies and we now have 4 cats….yup.

Well crazy, neurotic, stressed out Pepper hates everyone, except Brandon, and we were having a very difficult time getting her downstairs to get food and use the litter box. Partly because of Pepper and partly because of Kitten and the kittens.

So we had to make adjustments for her, but I didn’t want a gross litter box in any of our rooms like we had in the past, or out in the open on the landing. So I made her her own little stand.
Or really repurposed one.
IMG_2131.JPG

I found many helpful and creative ideas on how to hide cat box on Pinterest.

For lack of wanting to buy a cabinet or closet fixture I went with the curtained option.

The origional design was stapled, but i wanted to be able to remove and clean the curtains if I needed to. So I bought some cheap curtain rods, like $3 or $4. And since it was pushed up against the wall, I only did 3 curtains.

I had to attach an extra piece of wood to each side to hang curtain rods.IMG_2133.JPG

I got some fabric from the store and made little curtains. Fortunately curtains are easy straight lines. I can do that!!
Pepper loves Brandon’s Duck blanket and while it doesn’t match the curtains I got, they both insisted it stayed. Yes…both Brandon and Pepper insisted.
IMG_2083-0.JPG

This shelf unit we used has this little space in the back perfect for a food and water dish.
IMG_2208.JPG

And duh-duh-duh-duh!!! Curtained cat box!!! She gets privacy, food and water, and a place to sleep.
IMG_2210.JPG

Hopefully she will be a happy cat from now on and not pee on anything. Like the bed. Or chairs. Or towels. Or bath mats. Or the carpet.

The Sewing Games!

I’m not a very good sewer….seamstress.
I don’t really have the patience for it.
I can do straight lines. That’s about it. And I use straight very loosely. Like so loosely that my thread doesn’t quite stay in place.

But I sew anyway.

If you want a really great seamstress, I can hook you up! Between my mom, Cassie’s Mam, Melissa’s mom, AND Christi’s mom…I don’t know why I bother… Although if I didn’t I would be putting my past 4-H leaders to shame. Though if they saw my sewing that might be enough shame…

Ok it’s not that bad.

So this project I sewed… A little over the seat car caddy…thing…

I saw one at Goodwill one day and didn’t get it and realized I needed it too late!

I thought that I could probably make it using something I already had…something easy to turn into a bag…like… a pair of pants! Sew easy!! (Waa-Waa!)

And I have a ton! Well a few at least. Like this bag.
20140211-165516.jpg
Here they are all folded and neat looking. There was even a cami in there.20140211-170010.jpg

I limited down to 2 choices. I really wanted cool back pockets.20140211-170225.jpg

I went with the light ones.
20140211-170325.jpg
Got my tools ready…(trust me, I’m gonna need the seam ripper)

20140211-170352.jpg
And here is the reason these jeans ended up in the bag… holes…
20140211-170401.jpg

Then I CHOPPED the legs off!! (BA-HAHAHAHAHAAAAA!)
20140211-170416.jpg
Looks like I made a pair of $60 shorts! jk!

I turned them inside out and did a quick straight line.20140211-171703.jpg

Flipped them inside out! Look! So cute!
20140211-172143.jpg

Now to sew up some of the holes!!

20140211-173024.jpg

I used left over jean to make a strap…this is my attempt at cutting straight…as you can see from exhibit A…I suck.20140211-173037.jpg

I fixed it…kind of and used some extra biding tape.

20140211-173235.jpg

And here it is! All finished up! It works really well. 20140211-173343.jpg

So yes. I’m finished. It hasn’t fallen apart yet. And I am the best person to do that if I do say so myself.🙂

Happy sewing days.
And May the bobbin be ever in your favor!

DFTBA
Becky

Cupcakes and Roses

20140205-000012.jpg

I have never had the urge to bake as bad as I did this week. The reason? I watched Cupcake Wars. Seriously.
I don’t usually watch food stuff cause it makes me hungry… I am more of a HGTV person. Ya know, House Hunters, Love it or List it, those kind of shows. But one day I found myself flipping channels and something caught my eye… SUGAR!!!

More importantly, CUPCAKES!!
Watching these people create and decorate cupcakes, seeing their passion and love for what they do, it’s impressive.

OUCH!
And the Baking Bug bit me!

Not just baking though, decorating too.

I pulled on the ol’ apron and baked!

I was super sure that I had a box of cake mix, but after tearing apart my pantry to find it, I turned to my cute lil’ cupcake book!
This cute thing was a gift from Cathy (my mother-in-law). They are decorations mostly, organized by color. They do have some recipes though for simple, everyday cupcakes to fun new cupcakes!!
The cool part, the recipes make 8-12 cupcakes! So much better than a whole 24-30 that lie around the house begging to be eaten!

I also learned a few things!
1. The difference between all purpose flour and self rising flour! The difference is the latter has baking powder and salt in it! The proportion is for every 1 cup all purpose flour, add 2 tsp baking powder. You can add a pinch of salt to!

2. Add powdered sugar (confectioners sugar) to your store bought frosting to make it stiffer. This will make it easier to decorate with.

3. How to make frosting roses! I went online and found it.

The short version is to start with the center bulb, then apply the 3-5-7 pattern. Use the tip that is large rounded at the bottom and pointed at the top. I can’t remember the number…

Start with your cupcake.🙂
You can put this on a metal stand thing for decorating, then remove the rose by snipping it with scissors, or straight on the cupcake
20140204-234327.jpg
This is the center bulb.20140204-234438.jpg

3 Petals 20140204-235453.jpg
5 Petals 20140204-235631.jpg
7 Petals 20140204-235714.jpg

Pretty Simple.
The first couple I tried I didn’t do so well…20140204-235819.jpg
I had to go back and rewatch the video again and the other ones turned out better 20140204-235918.jpg

Now to share the cupcake joy!!
20140205-000005.jpg

Garlic and Brown Sugar (and Onion) Chicken. And some PO-TAY-TOES!!

Yum Yum Food Time!! Wiiiiith BECKY!!!!!

I got very much used to Brandon cooking meals. Which was awesome! But as all things change, so did this. (You mean I have to get off the couch and be a grown up!?)
And I got tired very quickly of hearing “what’s for dinner?” every night.
“What’s for dinner?”
“Food”
“What kind of food?”
“The good kind of food”
“What good kind of food?”
“The kind you eat.”
“What good kind of food that you eat?”
“The kind you are gonna get.”
“What is it?”
“Food.”

And so on and so forth…
Till he got tired of asking.

He still does cook. Mostly meat. Especially steak.
I love it when he cooks. Sometimes he surprises me.
Like yesterday.
The menu was grilled cheese and soup. It was a blustery, rainy, grey, perfect day for grilled cheese and soup.
He surprised me by making chicken noodle from scratch!
Then he surprised me again when he said he didn’t know how to make grilled cheese…
Apparently he is unsure which side of the bread to butter…
The complexity of buttered bread is always a mystery to mankind….

Today’s meal choice is was vague… chicken and potatoes…
Good job Becky… vague chicken and potatoes.

I didn’t want to take a whole lot of time with it though. SO for your enjoyment, a quick dinner. About 10 minutes prep, 30 minutes cook time (At the most)

Ingredients:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast
3 tsp. Olive Oil
4 Garlic Cloves, minced
4 Tbs. Brown Sugar
(I added onion, cause I love onion)

Saute garlic (AND ONION!!!) in the olive oil till tender.
20140129-213206.jpg Olive Oil looks so pretty in swirls…🙂
20140129-213300.jpg Freshly chopped!
20140129-213405.jpg I have a nice jar of pre-minced garlic. LOVE IT!!
Remove from heat and stir in brown sugar.
20140129-213638.jpg Love how it melts!
Lightly grease baking dish and cover chicken with brown sugar garlic (AND ONION) mixture.
20140129-213803.jpg
20140129-213811.jpg Look at that yummy-ness!!
Add salt and pepper to taste. Bake at 500 for 15-30 minutes! And done!
20140129-213922.jpg Look at that deliciousness!! YUUUUUUUUUUUMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!

SIDE DISH!!

Fried Potatoes

Easy peasy side dish. Thank you to my dear friend Hannah for this awesome recipie.

CHOP!
20140129-214047.jpg (Salt too)

OIL!
20140129-214130.jpg

FRY!!!
20140129-214213.jpg (I added some extra something-something! It’s…..something….I forget which something)

BE CAREFUL!!!!
20140129-214319.jpg
Seriously. Be careful. Grease spatter hurts.

Yum Yum Seriously.
Look at that
20140129-214422.jpg

That’s all.

Have fun!
DFTBA

Becky

Book Review: “Divergent”, by Veronica Roth

Book Title: Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher: Harper Collins
Date Published: 2011
Type of Book: Young Adult Fiction; Identity; Family; Courage; Social Classes; Science Fiction.

Recommended By: An Online Reading List

I Received this book from/at: Barnes and Noble. Care of someone who knew me well and gave me a gift card. Thank you.

Plot: “In future Chicago, sixteen year old Beatrice Prior must choose among predetermined factions to define her identity for the rest of her life, a decision made more difficult when she discovers that she is an anomaly who does not fit into any one group, and that the society she lives in is not perfect after all.”

I Would Recommend this Book (to): Anyone who enjoyed The Hunger Games, Enders Game, The Giver, or The Uglies series. (12+)

20140117-123201.jpg Consider yourself warned that the proceeding may contain a few very very small spoilers.

OK so the above is pretty much the record I keep of all the books I read. That is, that is the format I record it in, minus the plot, I usually write my own plot summary. However as you notice from the quotations, I quoted the summary in the book.

I was fortunate when I bought this book, to have picked up the extra content version. It includes an interview with Veronica Roth, a study guide, and all the faction manifesto’s in them. (If you haven’t read it yet you probably don’t know what I’m talking about.)

I have to say I enjoyed the extra content. Usually I skip over it but it was nice to ‘pick’ her brain on her book/series. Yes this is a three part series. I don’t know why young adult authors like their 3 part series books? It’s interesting that it turns out that way. And also trains…
20140117-123344.jpg
I thought that this book was well done. It didn’t seem too over the top and yet had that futuristic/sci-fi(ish) feel. It’s the same kind of feeling that you get when reading about dystopian futuristic societies. And like Veronica said in her interview, which I whole heartedly agree with, we love to read about societies like this because it allows us to think about what steps it took to get from where we are today to where this story is. (summ.) I would also go on to add that we can, for ourselves, evaluate or minds and hearts and decided where we would be in the society. In one such as this where we choose the faction to belong to, what would I choose? And after things fall apart, where would I stand? What is right?
We can also identify with the chosen ‘hero’, so to speak. I guess really it’s the protagonist of the story, since it is easy to find another in the story line to be the ‘hero’ of the society. Now the main character we follow is Beatrice, or Tris as she is called through most of the book. I think it is interesting that most of these books I have read about dystopian societies have a female protagonist. But maybe that’s because they are written by females?(IE: The Hunger Games, The Uglies) Which would make sense since the male lead characters of the same type are written by mostly males (IE: Enders Game) Although The Giver would be an exception since it’s written by a female and features a male protagonist.

Back on point now, after finishing the first book, there is of course going to be at least a sequel since our main characters are left out of their homes after fleeing for their lives when one faction decides to usurp the balance and eradicate almost an entire faction while using another to do their dirty work.

My concern is that the next books will not be as good as the first (sorry Veronica). I should really say that the third will not be. Usually, from experience, the second is very well written and has great plot and character development, but the third, when it comes to the end of a story, is rough or feels rushed. But who can blame the author? Endings are hard. Have you ever tried to write a story? Beginnings are easy, middles are a cinch, but the ends? And to end a book of this type without being all mushy and gushy “Happily Ever After” is difficult. There are rules! OR is suppose there are… I would assume that they would be something like this:

1. No “Happily Ever After”. When you set your story in a time where society got so bad that they pretty much erased everything and started over and “forced” people into certain classes, then it is impossible to put the bandaid of ‘a happy ending for all’ on it. It didn’t start that way, it didn’t ever look that way in the story, and it certainly can’t end that way.

2. They can’t all die. There is no “They all died. The End. Scar.” (that’s an old Harry Potter book 7 joke btw). Seriously there can’t be an ending where they set of a nuclear bomb and all the people died and no one was there to learn from the past. If they didn’t do it when society first fell apart, they can’t do it now just cause it fell apart again.

3. It can’t stay the same. Obviously. If the first time around it didn’t work, it’s probably not going to work again. It’s got to be different. Or else we are left pulling our hair out. Like in The Hunger Games. I’m sorry, I had to say it. For those that read the books the ending pretty much has the important people of the revolution deciding that the hunger games will continue but with the Capitols children, so they can know what it feels like. Really!? REALLY! I was not happy with that. How does it make the new government better if they do the same things? The answer is, it doesn’t!

4. Those that bring about the catalyst of change, are never in charge at the end. (SPOILERS I’m actually half way through book 2 as I write this). And let me say that I find it odd. In my mind the ones that start the change should be at the top, but it never works that way. They usually go crazy…(spoiler)
Part of me thinks that’s not fair, but another thinks that that’s the way it has to be. Part of what we love about the protagonist is that they don’t want to leadership, but they find the courage within to do what is right and do something to change the situation. I would say that we love that because deep in all of us is the hope that when we are faced with difficult things in our life, we would have the courage to do what is right and stand up for those we love, even at the risk of dying ourselves.

Well that’s all I have for the individual book right now, it kind of took a life of it’s own. I will review book 2 and 3 together next time (Insurgent, Allegiant).

Tell me your thoughts on the first book (if you’ve read it).

And if you have any book suggestions for me please let me know! I am always looking for more books to read!

Happy reading and DFTBA
Becky

The Magic is in the Words

Have you ever thought about reading? Not like the action of reading, like ‘you should read a book’ or something like that. But the actual action of reading. Like what it is, how we process it. We memorize 26 letters. Then the letters are strung together to create words and we memorize those. And in those beautiful words are deep meaning, and understanding, and emotion. And these words we have learned by heart, when put together, can evoke such emotions in us. They can make us laugh, and cry, and hurt, and angry, and confused. They can spark ideas. They can spread understanding. They touch you in ways that you don’t even understand.
Reading is beautiful. Books are beautiful. People who can use these words to change the world, or even one person, are beautiful.
br />20140114-141852.jpg

I love to read. I always have. I love to walk into a book store. I smell books. I collect them and display them. I re-read books. I carry a book with me everywhere I go, just in case. I read 3-5 books at a time. I never think I have too many books, just not enough space. I read every kind I can get my hands on.
20140114-141547.jpg

I once read over 200 books in 3 months. I was about 7 or 8. I kept the list of all the books I read too. I read picture books, chapter books, fiction, non-fiction, anything. And I am still the same.

I like to read all kinds of books. The majority are fiction, but even in that there are tons of types! I read Young Adult Fiction, Juvenile Fiction (there is a difference between the two, like the difference between Diary of a Wimpy Kid and The Hunger Games. I read Adult Fiction, I read books from other countries, Drama, Romance, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Historical Fiction, Westerns, Christian, Classics. Everything. I can’t help it. My soul cries out for books and books and more books.

When people ask me what I would do if I didn’t have to do anything, I usually say read. I would. Honest. I have been to midnight release parties, I have stayed up past bedtimes, I eat and read at the same time. And I keep a record. I have a journal of books I’ve read where I write down things about the book, so I can go back and look again. I have missed doing that on a few books here and there, but I try to get them all.

There are so many quotes and things about books and readers that I have found on Pinterest that I totally agree with and completely describes me. I would post them all but I won’t, for your sake really. I will attach my link to my board though, so maybe you can find some things that are the same for you, if you are a reader, or discover some things about readers.

And for those of you that wonder, if there are any of you out there, readers like myself are the easiest to buy for. Seriously. Books. Or anything to do with books. How happy would a reader be to get more bookshelves!? We never have enough space for our books. Or bookmarks. I have tons of bookmarks but I hardly ever use them cause I never can find them when I need them. I end up using receipts and gift cards. Or book ends, we love book ends. Or a book care kit. Or a personalized book embosser for their own books?
20140114-141926.jpg
I was originally going to share the book I just finished. However this post is long enough I think. I will therefore wait for my next post to review the book I just finished, Divergent by Veronica Roth. And I will link it to here when I do.

Until then!
DFTBA
Becky

Oh and always ALWAYS read the book for the movie. And If you can read it before you see the movie. The book is always better and it will help you understand the movie so much more if you do.20140114-141528.jpg