Snow Day!

“I found winter!” That was my wake up this morning from my boyfriend as he was trying unbury my car. I knew it had snowed but I wasn’t expecting this much as well as dropping temperatures.

After a hair raising adventure to get some food we decided to just stay in and be cozy the rest of the weekend. While we were out driving in the snow in search of food, we found this cereal.

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It tastes like a weird red velvet cereal. It wasnt as crunchy as normal Cap’n Crunch but it was delicious! After a quick bowl I busted out my movie marathon collection.

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I’ve always wanted the whole Studio Ghibli collection but, it’s a little pricey as a boxed set. So I started buying them one at a time from Walmart. After Kiki’s Delivery Service we took a little break from the movie marathon.

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Nothing says “good clean fun” like tequila and juice. I dont really use measuring devices for cocktails unless it’s a very specific recipe. I just pour until it looks like enough. This particular concoction is lime juice, tequila, and ruby red grapefruit juice.

New Year New Projects!

Now that the holidays are finally winding down, I can finally share some of my works in progress. Many of these are presents from Christmas or projects I’ve had around and haven’t been able to do much about completing it.

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First up is my current list of  plants for my upcoming gardening bonanza. I was inspired a bit by the arrival of Jung Seeds & Plants book. I love flipping through the pages and seeing new and interesting seeds for sale. I am also a little bit more excited to start planning now because my boyfriend has agreed to build me a fancy raised garden bed this year. He also has given me run of the whole yard so I will be planting a lot. This also does not account for what I may also be able to plant at my Grandparent’s house this year, but I suspect it will be similar to last year’s arrangement, as well as the regular tending to the other plants already in their yard.

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I also have this adorable Woodland Creatures knitting kit! I actually got it a while ago but because I have never knitted before I’m a little nervous about starting it. The kit comes with a booklet of 12 patterns and vague-ish instructions for each creature. The kit only contains enough yarn for the fox and the doe. So I’ve been studying up on the language and techniques needed to get my cute little buddies assembled.

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This is my new diamond puzzle that my boyfriend got to me for Christmas. I haven’t had an oppertunity to work on it as I need to first flatten out the canvas. It should be flat enough in another few days to start working on it. I’m really excited because I’ve seen pictures of this particular puzzle in its completion and its really pretty.

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This is the pattern for my new cross stitch pattern. 2 years ago I had a really elaborate peacock cross stitch that I was diligently working on it for a year and a half before I realized I made a major error. As in the only way to fix it would be to undo almost half of the piece. Its been sitting in a box since then. So I recently got the urge to cross stitch again but I needed something new. The yellow in the pattern are the stitches I’ve already added to the cloth.

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Its looking pretty good so far. Its a lot slower progress than I’d like but I’m definitely not in a rush to finish this. I just get extra excited when it starts to look like something. lol

I have been researching for my next mythical creature, the manticore. I have several ideas but none have really been to my liking yet. I immediately think about one in an attack posebut I feel like its too ordinary. I’ve also thought about drawing one in a more restful/sleeping pose.  I’ll keep playing around with it more and we’ll see what turns out to be the best one. Any thoughts or suggestions are much appreciated!

I have also started to brain storm some ideas for a new banner and thumbnail icon for Katagi’s Kreations. I love my little dragon but I need something a little different. I really want soemthing that better portrays my blog’s theme.

 

Holiday Complications

This holiday season has been such a blur for me. Working in retail for the big Christmas holiday, working through the early hours of the morning to get all the clearance marked the day after Christmas, and preparing for a funeral. A few days before Christmas my Great Uncle had passed away. It has been very difficult for my Grandfather as this was his younger brother. It made for a very somber holiday family time. So in an effort to cheer myself up I bought 2 cutetitos.

Now I know you are thinking “What the heck is a cutetito?” Basically its a cute small stuffed animal that’s wrapped up in a tortilla blanket. The fun part is that you have no idea which animal you have until you open it up and remove the foil wrapper.

The first cutetito I opened up after the I got home from the funeral viewing. And it happened to be Puppito! Yes all the animals in this series have names. And their rarity is measured in spiciness. For example, Puppito has an orange chili pepper which make him a mild or common one to find.

The second one I opened when I got home from the funeral and wake. I was already pretty tired and sore for escorting my grnadparents everywhere I almost forgot to open my cutetito. I’m really glad I remembered because this one is definitely my favorite out of the two, it’s Pigito!

Pigito is a purple chili pepper which is medium or uncommon within Series 1. I’m not really sure when (or if) there is a Series 2 yet, but I’ll definitely get a few if there is some.

Together these 2 cutetitos at least made my day a little better before attempting to relax for the evening. I’m hoping to get a few more before they are totally gone because I realized that Peppito is a Chihuahua and would love to have that one!

Here’s hoping I can start the new year off on a much happier and more productive note. Happy New Year to everyone out there and I’ll see you in 2019!

Mythical Creature: Angel

Angel

This is my latest Kreation for my Mythical Creatures Challenge. This one was a tough one for me cause I feel like I’ve already drawn a ton of angels in my lifetime. After what felt like endless searching for an angel anything that called out to me, I finally decided to just do a basic angel but try out some different brushes/textures.

Normally when I hop on the computer to draw I tend to stick to felt tip or fine tip markers, maybe a little paint and palette smearing for a background and I call it good. I may have gone a little crazy on trying to use different brushes though. I used the Airbrush in different greys for the background which I’m starting to like a whole lot more than just solid color smears. I used the water painting brush for the wings. It took a little getting used to but i do like how the there is some slight texture to the wings. The halo, hairs, face, and gown were all done with the acrylic brush. This one was quite the challenge for me because I ended up having to use the palette to smooth things out so that it didn’t look too lumpy. All the speckles were done with a gloop pen. To be honest, I’d never heard of this one before so I was intrigued to use it. Its a little weird but it does a decent job of getting the speckled texture across. Definitely will need to play with this gloop pen some more. The most difficult one by far was adding texture to the halo. I usuall have a really hard time getting the right shade to make metallic come across, so I figured why not sparkle pen? needless to say I will probably not be using that again. It was difficult because i didn’t want things to fall too far outside the halo but at the same time I wanted an even distribution of glitter.

With the up coming Christmas and New Year’s holidays, I will be making a mega post since I am unsure of what I will be able to do/not do because of my retail work schedule and coordinating family time. Until then, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thanksgiving Mega Post

The week of Thanksgiving is the most stressful time of the year for me. I work in retail, specifically with resets for new and upcoming sales, so not only do I get to deal with stress from work there is added stress from coordinating family time. On top of just trying to coordinate things I also work overnight shifts so that the sales floor is ready for all the early morning sales. Yep that’s right I’m one of those workers trying to not have a panic attack while there’s pretty much a stampede of crazed sale driven people in front of me.

Between work parties and family gatherings and general survival, I tend to go a little heavy on baking and cooking during the hours I am not asleep or at work. This year I decided to do a ton of sweets besides helping with Thanksgiving dinner.

I started with my first holiday batch of fudge. It’s a super simple recipe and nearly impossible to mess up and equally as impossible to find someone that dislikes it.

I always start by prepping my pan. There is not a lot of time to pour the liquid fudge into the pan before it starts to harden. I use a quick spritz of cooking spray in each corner of the square pan then lay down cling wrap. Making sure to press as flat as possible and to have excess cling wrap hanging off the edges. This excess cling wrap will make removing the hardened fudge really easy.

For my recipe I combine a bag of milk chocolate chips and a can of sweetened milk in a microwaveable bowl and blast it in the microwave for 30 second intervals and stirring in between until the whole mixture is smooth. Once its smooth, slowly and carefully pour the fudge into the prepped square pan. Then spread out into the pan as evenly as you can. Then the most difficult part, waiting 24-ish hours for the fudge to harden in the fridge. You can cut the hardening time by placing the fudge in the freezer but sometimes it affects the consistency of the fudge. After the fudge has hardened all the way through, cut into smaller squares and enjoy.

This year I tried out a new creation, lemon puppy chow. I got really excited when I found this because it’s an allergy friendly recipe (gluten and nut free).

The recipe is fairly simple and similar enough to traditional puppy chow that it was easy to figure out where I went wrong. Apparently I forgot how measuring cups worked and put in too much lemon juice which made the sauce too thin and made the cereal very soggy. To compensate, I threw it in the oven for a few minutes to crisp up. The flavor was super delicious but the execution could definitely use some more practice.

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Thanksgiving dinner was supposed to be a little bit more of a relaxing time for me. I was lucky enough to get 3 hours of sleep between the end of my shift and heading over to my Grandparent’s place. Once I got there I was informed that it is now my responsibility to finish the cooking. Nothing says “welcome to the holidays” like being told to make a feast sized meal on 3 hours of sleep. Luckily my amazing Boyfriend is also an awesome kitchen assistant and we both got this lovely meal all put together and on the table.

After all this baking and extreme weather changes ( it was seriously 50 degrees Fahrenheit and sunny one day and 20 degrees and light snow in the course of 6-ish hours) I ended up with a really really bad sinus infection. As much as I wanted to continue making more sweets or even attend work, I was unable to even sit up in bed without feeling dizzy.

After a week of rest and some delightful sinus medications, I was back to making treats because my holiday work party decided to occur a little earlier than normal this year. In addition to making more lemon puppy chow, I also made some strawberry flavored meringue ‘cookies’. I call them ‘cookies’ because I discovered my favorite way to eat these is to make thin-ish discs and then smash or cut them into shards.

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I start by allowing 3 eggs to warm up for a minimum of 30 minutes. Its important to get the eggs to as close to room temperature as possible. After allowing the eggs to warm up they must then be cracked and have the whites and yolks separated. The whites go in the mixing bowl and the yolks are not needed so I tend to just throw them away. I also add cream of tartar, flavored extract, and a pinch of salt to the starting mixture. Normally vanilla extract is used for this recipe but any flavored extract can be substituted. I turn on the mixer and allow it to whip itself up to a very frothy consistency before I begin adding in the granulated sugar. It is important to add the sugar into the mixture a little bit at a time and allow it to be fully incorporated into the mixture before adding more sugar. Once all the sugar is added, allow the mixer to whip it up into a nice marshmallow like consistency that leaves a peak when the whisk attachment is removed and turned upside down (approximately 10 minutes of whipping).

This is the messy part, I prep the baking tray while the mixer is doing its thing to keep the overall mess as contained as possible. preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. If your oven is unable to go that low bumping the temp up to 300 will also work, you will just need less baking time because it will cook a little bit faster.  I prefer to line my baking pan with a nice flat sheet of parchment paper. I have also previously made this recipe using aluminum foil and still had some delicious ‘cookies’, the only difference is a short baking time and a much higher chance of over baking. I also prepare my piping bag so that I can make the meringue look all pretty as a disc.

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Once the meringue is able to hold a stiff peak I start filling up a piping bag with whatever start tip I’m feeling in the mood for (typically #32) and start piping my cookies. Since these cookies don’t really grow in size like normal cookies they can be placed much much closer together on the baking sheet without issue. Once all the meringue is piped out (or I run out of space), I put the tray into the oven and wait.

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This is where things get a little tricky, most recipes state 40- 45 minutes for a baking time. I wait until they are no longer sticky and hold their shape after a gentle finger poke. They should also have a slight brown/caramel color on them. Depending on the oven I’ve achieved this between 30 minutes and 60 minutes. I recommend checking at the 30 minute mark and then 5 or 10 minute increments after that until the right doneness has been achieved. Then pull the meringues out of the oven and allow to cool. I’ve never really timed how long it takes for these to cool completely, I’m normally in the middle of whatever I happen to be binge watching on nextflix. I’d estimate 30 minutes is more than an adequate amount of cooling time.

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Once the discs have cooled and hardened its time for my favorite part. If  I’m having a super stressful day I put some of the discs in a zip top baggie and smash to bits but, tonight was a very chill night so I got a sharp knife out and cut them all into halves allowing the discs to break anyway they wanted to from the pressure. I prefer to do this method while still on the baking tray since I can then carefully pick up the parchment sheet and slide the shards into a zip top baggie.

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I now have my portable treat bag ready to go to work with me, If it makes it that far. I had made a tester batch earlier. 1 co-worker got 1 shard before my workday turned crazy and I ended up stress eating the whole baggie. oops!


Easy Fudge

Tools:

  • Square pan
  • Cling Wrap
  • Microwave Safe bowl
  • Spatula

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of Chocolate Chips, I prefer Milk Chocolate for this recipe
  • 1 (14.5oz) can of Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • Cooking Spray

Directions:

  1. Line the square pan with cling wrap.Do not leave any gaps in-between the layer of cling wrap. Be sure to leave extra hanging off the edges. This will make removal of the set fudge easier. Once lined, generously spray the cling wrap. This will also help with the removal of the set fudge later on. Set pan aside
  2. Dump the whole bag of chocolate chips and can of sweetened condensed milk into a medium microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 30 second intervals and stir in-between until chips are melted and well mixed with condensed milk. Pour fudge mixture into the cling wrap lined square pan and spread out for even layer with a spatula.
  3. Shake square pan to allow large air bubbles to be exposed. Deflate these bubble with a toothpick or fork. Place fudge into refrigerator for 3-4 hours or overnight to set the fudge.
  4. Once fudge is set, remove from square pan onto a clean surface. Cut fudge into desired size and enjoy!

Lemon Puppy Chow

Tools:

  • large bowl
  • medium microwave safe bowl
  • wax paper
  • sheet pan
  • spatula
  • freezer or gallon sized baggie

Ingredients:

  • 9 cups Rice Chex Cereal
  • 1 1/4 cups white vanilla baking chips
  • 1/4 cup butter or maragine
  • 4 tsp of grated lemon peel
  • 2 Tbsp of lemon juice
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Directions:

  1. Measure out the 9 cups of rice chex cereal and set aside
  2. Combine the baking chips, butter, lemon peel, and lemon juice into a medium sized microwave safe bowl. Microwave at 30 second intervals while stirring in-between until mixture is smooth.

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! ❤

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of grapes, peeled and pitted
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 tablespoons pectin, I prefer the low sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tablespoons lime juice
  • clean mason jars and lids

Directions

  1. Slice each grape in half to remove the pits/seeds and peel and put into a container. I ended up using a container with a lid so that I could store the grape goop overnight.
  2. When you are ready to begin, dump the grape goop, pectin, salt, and lime juice into a large pot on medium heat. Allow  this mixture to break down for 10 minutes, stirring occassionally. After 10 minutes you can add in the sugar and then let the mixture simmer still stirring occassionally
  3. When the mixture turns into a syrup -like consistency remove from heat. Pour into a measuring cup to help with the cooling and pouring process. Cooling should take about 3-4 minutes. Then evenly pour the grape jam into the mason jars. Allow the mixture to continue to cool while in the jars. Once they are cool enough, place the lids on the jars and put the jars in the refridgerator.