Tuesday, December 9, 2014

E-book Sale!

You can get Kindle and Nook formats of my book for 99 cents until Dec 12th!

Barnes and Noble Link

I was born to be evil. Nice is NOT in my blood. Besides, nice girls get locked in towers. 

Raven Perilous is like any other middle school girl—if middle school girls are usually evil princesses. The daughter of a gentle princess and evil sorcerer, Raven spends most of her time being as wicked as possible to avoid being stuck in a tower. So when Prince Charming shows up at her school, Raven knows she has met her nemesis. 

In The Rebel Princess, loyalty, heroism, and a pinch of enchantment are perfect for conjuring up an adventure that you’ll never forget.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Carpet cleaning that works for you and the environment

I don't know about everyone else, but I like to thoroughly clean my house before the holidays.  This includes cleaning the carpets. That's oil from a rolling chair.  Lovely, isn't it?

I'm not sure what this was but . . . ew.

One more lovely shot of my dirty carpet.

The first thing I did was sprinkle my carpet with baking soda and let it sit all night. My early risers track it around the house in the morning, but it's just baking soda, so it doesn't matter. Vacuum the entire floor. I started taking pictures after I'd vacuumed.

Fill your carpet cleaner with hot water and about 2 Tablespoons of vinegar. Go over your entire floor. This next picture is after the vinegar step.  It looks a little better, but you can still see spots. For the record, I said this works, not that it's fast.

The oil stripe is a lot lighter after the vinegar.

The next step is to use liquid castile soap and water in the carpet cleaner. I use about the same proportions as the vinegar and water. You can buy castile soap at Walgreens or on Amazon. It is a natural soap and comes in several different scents. I like peppermint or orange. The next few pictures are after the castile soap

So much better.

This is the one that surprised me the most.  No more oil stripe! I actually did this about a year ago and it is still gone.

The last step is to go over the entire carpet with just hot water. Keep going until the water is fairly clear when you dump it out. This ensures you got all the dirt and your carpet will not dry crunchy.

Be sure to test an inconspicuous area with this combination before you do your entire floor.  Vinegar can lighten colors.  My carpet is pretty light so it doesn't matter.  (Note to self: Don't ever get light carpet again. It shows everything!)

Bonus shot of my book.  Oh, pretty!

This was not the most exciting of blogs so I will leave you with cute kitten pictures. I took these while they were still foster kittens so they have paper collars that they hated. Come to think of it, they don't like the regular collars either.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Bryce Canyon

Over UEA break my family took off for Bryce Canyon. We stayed at the KOA in Cannonville and had a great time. My boys played in the red dirt and chased rabbits. We arrived late Wednesday night and found that our reservation sheet had been picked up by someone else. We had no idea which cabin was ours and the office had been closed for hours. After about half an hour we found an empty cabin with a key on the table and decided it was ours. We unloaded and were soon in bed sleeping. There was a little bedroom with a queen bed, a bunk bed for the boys and a hide a bed for our daughter. It had a full kitchen, heat, and a full bathroom. I love camping like this! **The owners of the KOA were amazing and took great care of us. The mistake was no fault of theirs, they were ready for us and we highly recommend staying there.
We woke to the most amazing sight out our windows, it was a long section of the Grand Staircase. And there were three rabbits playing by our car too.

This is Sunrise Point. We hiked one morning on the Queens\Navajo combination Loop. It was just under 3 miles and other than the last 1/2 mile, it was pretty easy going. The last bit was steep but plenty of room to "pull over" and rest up.

Upper Inspiration

This was on the way to one of the Hoodoo hikes called "Mossy Cave and waterfall." Part of the Jr. Ranger Program was to hike to at least three hoodoos and take a rubbing of the benchmark. When the boys received their Jr. Ranger badges we all received pins for hiking the Hoodoos.

One of the pull offs

My husband took this after a star talk by one of the rangers. So many stars!

This vest belongs to one of my boys. You can see he has earned a few pins from different national parks. We really love the Jr. Ranger program, It's fun and they learn new things like what scat it. ;-)
The pins are now what they earn and the patches we purchase for $1-3.
We spent 3 full days in Bryce and it was perfect for us. If you are more into hiking, you could spend a lot more time. Enjoy!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Simple Halloween Decor That Doesn't Break the Bank

I've never been big on spending for Halloween. Money is often tight at this time of year as we work to get ready for Christmas.  I buy a few Halloween decorations, but most of them are re-purposed or handmade.

Cinderella is not part of the decor.  She just thinks she is.  

My daughter found these dolls at a second hand store a few years ago.  She thought they were beautiful and spent her own money to buy them.  Then it got dark and she decided they wanted to kill her in her sleep.  They spent some time locked away in a bin with books piled on top of them.  Then I rescued them to use as Halloween decorations. My daughter thanks me every day for covering them up with distressed cheese cloth and putting them on display. I'm sure she'll want them back one day.  

Distressing cheese cloth is actually pretty fun. All you have to do is cut and pull.  It has a naturally creepy vibe, like the dolls.

I made this wreath out of an old glow-in-the-dark skeleton I had.  Its legs were broken and it was missing several toes.  I used black tubes from an old spider costume as the base.  The ribs helped to make it more sturdy. Then, with my trusty glue gun, I attached the other bones and added the little skulls and bow tie. I didn't do a more detailed tutorial because I put it together with random pieces. It might be good for kick starting new ideas, though.

The monster is a big doll with a monster mask.  Isn't she cute? I had to move it because the kittens didn't approve of the location. (It's all about them, you know.)

Cinderella insists on being in the pictures, but won't look at the camera. The skulls can be found in various stores for about a dollar.

This ghost started out as a ghost costume.  Unfortunately, the mask looks like Klan mask and I couldn't ever wear it. (It only looks that way on people.  Weird, I know) The body of the costume is really long and with kittens around I decided it was best to keep it packed this year.  I made a new body by tying three pieces of cheese cloth together and distressing them.  The mask is stuffed with a paper mache head that glows under our black light.  It's a pretty eerie way to greet our trick-or-treaters.

Plastic pumpkins pick up light from the window behind it.

Fuzzy pipe cleaner spiders. Take 4 pipe cleaners, twist them in the middle and glue a body over the twisted part.  You can do a head too.  I didn't because they aren't seen from close up and I was going for simple.  They look pretty creepy from a distance with all those spindly legs.

Our ghost masks are still a favorite.  This is their third year and they are still going strong, despite the crazy weather. Go here for a full tutorial.

Have a safe, happy Halloween!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Last minute Cell structures and story links

My 14 YO informed me this afternoon that she has to make a "cell" complete with the membrane, ribosomes, golgi apparatus, smooth ER, Rough ER and lots of other parts that I don't care to remember. "Fantastic," I said not feeling happy. I had a root canal only 2 hours before. "When is it due?"  Silence. Then a little whisper, "Tomorrow."
Expired cake mix + scrounged up candy + cake sprinkles + my lone avocado=Eukaryotic Animal Cell. Sigh. Time for more IBU.
I have to wonder sometimes...I learned all about this stuff in the 9th grade too. And have never once used it. I learned all about (well, was supposed to learn about) sentence structure and how to diagram them and the only time I've needed it was when my a fore mentioned 14 YO asked how to diagram a sentence for her homework.

Sigh. It's done and my poor avocado will not be delicious on a turkey sandwich anymore. Such is the life, we give up so much for our kids. I hope the appreciate it. ;-) 

On a happier note: Here's a little blurb on my story, Snow Angels
Night all!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Easy sew cat toy

My daughter has been wanting to learn to sew.  She sewed a little bag in school and a few other things here and there, but she wanted to do more.  So I came up with a design for a cat toy. 

I made the big one first.  They like to wrap their paws around it and attack with their teeth and claws. They also like to snuggle with it. The fluffy pillow protects our fingers while we play with them, so it's a win all around. My daughter made a big one and then she also made a tiny one. The kitten approves.

Cinderella likes it so much she carries it around with her.  She also loses them so we have to make more. Here's a video of her carrying it (with a bonus view of one of my son's socks!)

You can use any size or shape of fleece to make this project.  I used a long piece.

Then I folded it in half

Most kittens come running when they hear the can opener.  Mine comes when she hears the sewing machine.

Is this for me???? I love these!

Sew half way up each side. Cinderella wouldn't leave it alone long enough for me to take pictures.

This next shot was supposed to have had the toy in it, but Cinderella snatched it before I could take the picture. Imagine a tiger striped piece of fleece that is sewn on both sides and has a fringe cut on the edge. In the future, I will check pictures after each step.

And there is the little thief herself.

I grabbed another toy for her to play with and got my project back.  Below you can see the promised fringe. I turned it right side out and stuffed it. (I put a little catnip in this one, but Cinderella doesn't care if I don't.)

The next step is to tie it straight across to close it.

At long last (about ten minutes) she has her completed toy. I love her funky little tail!

Hobbes is excited too.

You can see it in his eyes.

I've seen similar toys in the store, but they usually have feathers or are noisy. My kittens don't like toys that rattle and they rip feathers out in seconds of getting them.  These are quiet, durable, inexpensive, and machine washable.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Library Event

I will be at the Viridian Center on Sept 27 for the Local Authors & You event.  The list of authors attending is on the picture below.  Books will be available for purchase, but the event is free.  Come say hi!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Jam Jam and more Jam

Tis the season for jam and jelly! And I've been busy! Current jelly, pear and peach jam, plum jam and syrup and my new favorite is spiced pear jam. It almost tastes like apple pie filling. Yummy!
Why do I bottle? Because I enjoy it (other than pears, they annoy me). I like to see my family enjoying it. I've never done anything with tomatoes. How about you? We love marinara and spaghetti so maybe I'll try them next. What is your favorite thing to bottle? Let me reword that-what is your favorite thing to eat out of season that you bottled in season?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A cat post

Sorry to those who aren't cat fans. I've been thinking about writing this post for a while.  I am reminded about my evil kitty every time I hear or see my bio from my book. Sadly, he died a few days before the book was released.  Here are some pictures of him.

 He was a beautiful cat.  I would post more about him, but I still get emotional and I'm pretty sure few people would care. So, I'll just say he is missed.  We had him for 17 years.

The day he died, I came home to an empty house.  All the kids were at school.  And, while the cat slept most of the time, the house felt empty.  I tried to occupy myself with cleaning and writing, but I couldn't shake off that empty feeling.  My youngest came home from school that day and said the house felt empty without the kitty, which made it feel even more empty to me.

We weren't planning to get another pet right off.  How can you replace someone who has been part of your life for 17 years? I popped onto the Humane Society webpage, just to look, and found a tab on fostering. It was the perfect solution.  We could temporary fill in the empty gap in our home until we were ready to adopt. So I sent an email and a few days later we got a call about a mother kitty and two kittens that needed fostering.

The kittens are Manx.  Hobbes doesn't have a tail and Cinderalla has a stubby tail. Sometimes Manx kittens have litter box problems because they are born with nerve problems in their back side. They needed to be observed in a home setting before they could be adopted out. (They didn't have any problems using the litter box.) Kittens do better after they are adopted if they have spent time living with people so they are placed in foster homes until they are old enough to be separated from their mother.

Their foster status lasted for about a week before we decided to keep them.  The adoption was finalized shortly after their surgeries. (The Humane Society spays and neuters all kittens and their adoptable moms. I don't know about feral moms.) It was about 2 months after our other kitty died, but it wasn't about replacing him.  It was about loving them and I was okay with that.

Padme was desperate for love and also terrified of everything. She spent the first week under our couch. I took this picture after several long grooming sessions.  She was a mess when she came to us. Poor baby. Her little family was sent to the Humane Society from another shelter so I didn't know her background, but it was pretty clear that she had been hurt in some way by people.

After a week with us, she slowly started spending more time on the furniture instead of under it. She also developed a sassy attitude, which was so much better than terrified.

We loved Padme, but we weren't the right family for her. She needed a home that didn't have a high amount of traffic.  So she went back to the shelter for adoption after she healed from her surgery.  I am happy to report that she has been adopted!  The Humane Society interviews people who are interested in adopting to be sure they are the right match.  The people who took her were the right family for her. We miss her, but it is best that she be with the right family.

I highly recommend fostering for anyone thinking about getting a pet. So often people get a dog or a cat and end up taking them back to the shelter.  Fostering is about a 6 week commitment. You can adopt them if you want or return them to the shelter for adoption. (There are still fees, but ours were reduced.) You can always continue fostering and have a never ending supply of kittens or puppies. You can also foster animals that need healing time. You will literally being saving lives.

Now for my soap box.  Summer is known at shelters as kitten season because hundreds of abandoned kittens are brought in. So many people fail to spay and neuter their pets.  This creates a surplus of puppies and kittens that often end up at the shelter or are abandoned and die an early age. (I suspect that Padme was abandoned.) Even when the owners find families for their furry babies, those are homes that could have gone to a homeless pet. Please, please, please spay and neuter your pets!

And now some more recent pics of the kittens.  They are getting big!
The monster under my bed is adorable.

Cinderella fell in the tub and got all wet.  Hobbes was helping her feel better.

She does this all the time.

Hobbes stretches out like his sister, but he does it upside down.