Diamond Puzzle Test

A while ago I recieved a small diamond puzzle kit. I’ve always wanted to try one but the ones I liked were either too complicated or too expensive for a beginner attempt. Luckily I came across an offer where all you had to pay was the shipping and handling. So I found this neat design.

I really like the design. It didnt look too awful or childish and it was one that the whole picture is not a diamond painting. Meaning that only the unicorn was part of the diamond painting, the background was just there for a complete finished look. Plus it was a complete kit with all diamond colors as well as wax, stylus pen, and tray.

After several youtube tips and tricks videos, I finally had a good grasp on what to do and in what order. First and most importantly the pattern is sticky and needs to be kept covered as much as possible. Theres a plastic cover that comes with the picture so that makes things easy. Another helpful tip is to work from the outside of the picture towards the middle.

After the first color I was very skeptical about these paintings. But I pressed on with a few more colors.

After the 3rd color though I was hooked. The picture was starting to take shape and I was actually upset that I had to stop and go to bed. I really wanted to finish my unicorn! After a solid 6 hours of sleep I woke up refreshed and ready to finish this piece.

In total this took about 9 hours to complete. Which was more then enough to keep me occupied for a while. It was nice to get the chance to try this out on a smaller beginner level picture before I take the plunge and do a much large piece.

I hope you have been enjoying reading my blog. Next week is Thanksgiving in the U.S. and Black Friday. I work in retail so there will not be a new post next week. After this week work should die down a bit and I can return in December. Until then Happy Thanksgiving and good luck in your holiday shopping adventures!

Marathon Challenge

I work in retail and I knew the month of October would be extra busy and the beginning of holiday stress. I decided to give a virtual marathon a try to help keep myself at least partially distracted. I used the Yes.Fit app and synced my fitbit to the app and away I went.

There are many different races to choose from, different locations and length of race. I eventually decided on running the everglades. What really helped me the most was that you are able to view the race with a Google maps sort of perspective from your current location on the race map.

It took me 28 days from start to finish and I feel quite accomplished. It was nice to get the workouts done on my time and at my pace. It was also nice to track my progress during all the chaos at work.

Earlier this week my medal arrived in the mail! It has these neat blue panels that look really amazing when held up to the light.

Overall I was really happy to try something new and slightly out of my comfort zone. It worked out well as a distraction from the stress and anxiety of pre holiday season workdays. I now find that I need to think about what race I should do next to be me distracted during the holiday season. Until then I shall enjoy my shiny new medal.

The Transformation into Spider-Gwen

This week/weekend was a momentous occasion for me. I went to Youmacon for the first time ever. I decided to do a simple cosplay of Spider-Gwen. It all began with purchasing the hoodie.

I already had pants and shoes but the biggest decision was her blonde hair. It’s very blonde compaired to my natural brunette. After some debate I decided to go with a more permanent coloring than with some quickie spray in stuff. So I began the process of going lighter.

And to get as light of a blonde color as possible. So I went even lighter.

At this point my hair had enough. So this is what I ended up going with. Most definitely the lighter than I was but I wish my hair cooperated to go lighter. With the addition of some makeup spider gwen really came together.

As an added bonus, I also bought myself a spider gwen tee to wear under my hoodie in case I got too warm.

White Grape Jam

My grandmother had made a request for some grape jam so I had to make some for her. I use a very basic recipe of grapes, sugar, pectin, salt, and for a little twist I add lime juice instead of lemon juice/zest.

I begin with getting a bunch of grapes and enlisting some help to cut, peel the skin off, and remove the seeds of every grape. Then put the grape goop in a bowl.

It’s quite the challenge because this took me, my boyfriend, and his son almost 3 hours to complete. So needless to say, after this we put the lid on the bowl of grape goop and called it a night. The goop can stay like this for about 24 hours in the fridge before it tries to freeze or alter the quality of the grapes.

When I was ready to begin making he jam I put all the ingredients except for the sugar into the pot. I let it all break down a little bit before I add in all the sugar (about 10 minutes) and mix everything together. I then usually set it to very low and leave it alone for 10-15 minutes. At this point I do a taste test and add whatever is necessary. Then allow it to simmer until the grapes are mostly dissolved and theres a syrup like consistency.

After the jam is at the perfect syrup consistency, I then strain of the solids and allow the jam to cool a little bit away from the heat. I have just enough time to get my jars together before it cools too much. If it cools too much a small spatula will be needed to transfer the jam into jars.

Once the jam is poured into the jars. I allow it to cool for 30 minutes before I put the lids on.I let the jars sit in the fridge for at least 24 hours to allow it to set perfectly. Then I like to make a bunch of toast and enjoy! ❤

DINOSAUR!!!!!!!!

This week I treated myself to a cute little dinosaur kit!

He is the same company that made my cute little dragon that is in my home page banner. They are super easy kitsch but still neat and challenging. Each box (that I’ve seen) has these neat facts on the side of the box hat require you to find your answers as you build.

The inside flaps of the box also have super basic instructions. It may be a bit too basic but I also dont see a way that would modify for slightly better clarification.

So step 1 as with building absolutely anything is to lay everything out and make sure you have all the required pieces.

This kit came with and extra (yellow) center piece, all the required pieces for construction and the glue. I like to separate out my left side pieces from my right side pieces to make construction a little easier.

The actual construction is a bit tricky. The glue is basically white glue so not super sticky at first. I find the best way to get the first 2 pieces glued is to put the one side on the center stick and add the glue then smoosh down the other side through the center stick. Then I let that dry for a minute. This prevents it from moving around too much. It does however run the rush of the glue also adhering to the center stick which is not something you want to happen.

After letting the center dry a bit, I choose 1 side and layer up everything far enough so that I can place the eyeball in and then repeat for the other side.

After a center point of boiling up the layers you get to the final layers that require the center stick. The few remaining pieces at this point do not have a slot for the center stick. If you managed to not have too much glue adhering to the center stick it’s pretty easy to gently wiggle it out. But if you enjoy glue a little too much like I do you need to find some pliers and use a little bit of gentle force to rip the center stick out.

After the center stick is out it is just a simple few small solid pieces to cover up the hole. These pieces are the most difficult because you have the line each piece up just right and let it dry before you can add the next one.

In the end, it’s a thick collection of cardboard and glue but the choices of figures are super cute. The company itself is based out of New Zealand but with a little searching you can find the kits almost anywhere on the internet.

Also, here are the answers to the facts on the box.

Vacation week

This past week was my vacation week. While I had grand plans to work on all sorts of things, I only managed to get my nails done. Lol

I really like using Jamberry products because it’s the only nail stuff that survives my retail workday. I never realized how rough I am on my hands and nails until I painted my nails with traditional nail polish. I’m lucky if I can get 24 hours of wear before its completely gone. With jamberry though, I’m generally about to keep a manicure for about a week before my design starts falling off.

Special Chocolate Chunk Cookies

It’s been a little chilly over in my neck of the woods. So I decided to warm up the house by making a batch of yummy chocolate chunk cookies. Basically I follow this recipe but with a few alterations because of food allergies. The largest change I make is that I can only use certain kinds of chocolate because of a peanut/tree nut allergy so I tend to use a bag of chunks instead of scouring for a chocolate bar I can actually eat.

Mixing the cookie dough in my new kitchenaide was really great after having done this recipe without a mixer so many times. The dough itself is also very good for pre baking tastes.

And here are the delicious, fresh out of the oven cookies. Most of which did not make it past bedtime.


Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks of salted buttered, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 (or 2) tablespoons Vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour, plus a little extra just in case
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee, French Vanilla is my favorite
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bag of Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chunks

Directions

  1. Take 1 of the softened sticks of butter and put into a small skillet over medium-low heat. allow it to melt and bubble. This is totally normal and will not immediately cause a fire. Swirl the butter in the skillet until it begins to turn a golden brown then remove from heat and pour all the liquid and solid butter into a heat proof bowl until needed in cookie batter. preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Add the other stick of butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar  into a mixing bowl. Cream everything together until its combined.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix until smooth. It may be necessary to stop mixing to scrape the sides of the bowl down. Pour in all contents (solid bits too) from the brown butter bowl and mix until combined
  3. Add the coffee granules, baking soda, and salt one ingredient at a time and allow to mix until well combined. Slowly add the flour into the batter and allow to mix well. Once mixed, dump in 1 bag of chocolate chunks and mix well using a spoon or spatula.
  4. Either use a greased baking sheet or a parchment lined baking sheet and drop the cookie dough onto the sheet pan. I like to use a heaping tablespoon for this. Place in oven for 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool for 2-3 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack/surface. Bake in batches until all cookies are done and enjoy!

 

Paint by Stickers

Here is another puzzle book that I have been into for a while. Its called paint by stickers. It’s fairly simple, you start on the page you wish to fill in and locate its (usually 2) page of stickers.

After that it basically a color by number. Each sticker corresponds to a specific spot on the puzzle. The twist is that you also need to figure out the correct orientation of sticker. So as you start placing stickers

And filling in all the spaces

You eventually see your picture.

Despite the simple instructions, these puzzles are actually tedious at times. Once the piece is pressed into place it really cant be pulled up and removed so orientation and taking your time in placing each stick is very important.

And the final picture looks something like this. Most of these books have a minimum of 12 puzzles per book. If you are looking for a twist on a classic puzzle or just something new in general, Paint by Stickers is definitely something you should try!

Tomato Jam

Probably my last ripe tomato harvest for the season. I decided to go with a long term use of turning these tomatoes into a delicious tomato jam.

These guys are pretty big and at various stages or ripe. I somewhat followed a pintrest recipe because time and ingredients were an issue.

General basis of this recipe is chop up the tomatoes, throw the other ingredients into the pot and let it simmer. The original recipe said to simmer for 4-5 hours. I really dont have that kind of time to hover over a pot waiting for liquid to evaporate so I used a higher heat for a longer period of time before switching to a simmer.

This process helped evaporate a lot of the liquid quickly in under 30 minutes and without compromising texture too much. In the end I was able to get it all done in about 2.5 hours and boy is it tastey! Through some experimentation, we discovered that our favorite way to consume this jam is to replace it as the BBQ sauce on top of Meatloaf.


Tomato Jam

Ingredients

  • 4-5 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground corriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 (or more) Mason Jars w/lids

Directions

  1. Rinse and chop all tomatoes. I also removed all the seeds. Place chopped tomatoes into a medium stock pot on medium-high heat. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Stir frequently until the pot begins to boil. Reduce heat to medium and continue to stir frequently for 30-40 minutes. This help to evaporate the liquid faster. Once it begins to look a little thicker, reduce heat to medium-low and allow to simmer. Once the texture has thickened up to a jam-like consistency, remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.
  2. Prepare and clean mason jars. Be sure to dry out all wetness from cleaning. Carefully transfer the jam into each mason jar. Allow to comletely cool before adding lid and refrigerating jars.