Piñatas: Day One

My birthday is coming up in a few weeks so I decided to have a big party to celebrate. A couple weeks ago I was talking about it with my mom and brother and we all came up with some fun party ideas. After opening the second jug of margaritas, we had some pretty good ideas. My brother suggested a bouncy house, I thought piñatas would be fun, and my mom suggested we have alcohol.

I decided it would be even more fun to make the piñatas myself. I blame the margaritas. Here’s the thing with me and crafting, I always go in with more confidence than I probably should. I research online, watch a ten minute video, and convince myself that it’ll be easy, fun, and done within a day. I am almost always wrong.

But I found this video here, figured it would be a fun and easy project my eight year old daughter could help me with, and I set out to make piñatas.

First step; gathering supplies. I went to Party City to get some more streamers, party hats, and balloons. Word of advice; when buying Mylar balloons that you don’t want inflated with helium, be prepared to explain it at least three times. Another tip; buy a darker color balloon. I got white and it became a little difficult to see where I needed to add more papier-mâché because of the light color.

Second step; get everything ready. I cut up strips of newspaper (about eight inches long, one to two inches wide), prepared my flour mixture (I used two cups flour, two and a half cups water and one tablespoon salt), blew up the balloons (I didn’t have a balloon pump so I used a straw), and taped on the party hats. So far, easy peasy.

Third step; watch your world dissolve into chaos when you attempt papier-mâché for the first time in thirty years. Ok, I made several mistakes during this step. One, I tried doing it inside. I’m still cleaning up the mess. Two, I was banking on my daughter helping AND ENJOYING this step. This was not the case. As soon as her hands touched the paste mixture she started complaining how gross it was. Three, after completing the first side, I attempted to put the piñata in progress in a jar, the way she does in the video. This did not work at all for me. The piñata started to sink into the jar, wrinkling the part we had already completed. I ended up having my daughter just hold the piñata while I covered the other side. Given her feelings on how gross the papier-mâché was, this did not go well for either of us.

Step four; let the first layer dry. I had been planning on letting it dry in the jar, but that wasn’t going to work. And I definitely wasn’t going to have my daughter hold it the whole time (it can take up to six hours for each layer to dry), I was at a loss and super frustrated. Piñatas were proving to be much harder than all the diys I had found online. I felt lied to. Luckily my husband saved the day by making make shift drying racks out of old wire garden fencing. After the fact, I’m thinking over turned tomato cages would also work.

Step five; repeat steps three and four two or three more times. Whoever said you needed to let the layers dry for six hours, obviously wasn’t making piñatas in 100 degree New Mexican heat. Mine was dry and hard after an hour in the sun. However, the heat also caused the balloon to expand and my papier-mâché to crack. So we let them dry in the shade from then on.

The other layers were easier. I did them outside and I did them by myself. By the third layer on the second piñata however, I had lost all my shade. It was one in the afternoon and 103. I was dripping sweat. It was running into my eyes which stung so I kept alternating which eye I had open. It was not enjoyable. By the end of day one, I hated piñatas.

Advertisements

“Oh My God, I Actually Like Brussel Sprouts!” Recipe

Ok, so I’m trying to make healthier choices in my life. Exercise on a regular basis, eat better, etc. Surprisingly, one of the easiest changes I’ve made has been adding in lots and lots of green veggies. Turns out I’m not half bad at cooking veggies. At least, I’m not half bad after some serious trial and error.

The veggie I’m most proud of is the humble Brussel sprout. Because who knew they could taste so good? Also proud because I had to eat a lot of not so tasty Brussel sprouts before figuring out how to cook them the way I like them. My mom loves Brussel sprouts, and she throws a huge thing of whole sprouts in the oven, sprinkled with balsamic, salt and pepper and they taste great! When I tried to copy it they never cooked all the way through.

Then I tried making Brussel sprout chips after seeing them online. These too didn’t turn out for me. I don’t have the best knife skills so they cooked unevenly.

Undaunted, I decided to give up on the oven and the idea that my family will ever eat Brussel sprouts with me. So the following recipe is for a single serving.

Ingredients

  • 5-6 decent sized Brussel sprouts
  • olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • garlic salt
  • lemon pepper

Instructions

  1. Halve or quarter the Brussel sprouts depending on how big they are and how quickly you want them to cook
  2. Warm up a medium frying to medium high heat
  3. Throw in your sprouts with some olive oil (I use about 1 teaspoon) and lemon juice (about 1/4 teaspoon)
  4. Season them with garlic salt and lemon pepper.
  5. Cover them for about two minutes, or until the sprouts are bright green.
  6. Uncover and continue to cook until they are as crispy and brown as you like them.

**** I always break my sprouts apart while I cook them. Not only do they cook faster, but the little “leaves” of the sprouts turn into crispy little Brussel sprout chips.****

The acidity of the lemon juice really makes these pop. And getting them nice and crispy makes me pine less for potato chips. They are also super filling without a lot of calories. In conclusion; Brussel sprouts for the win!

 

 

 

The “Perfect” Week and Writer’s Block

Last week I challenged myself to accomplish two goal this week. The first being closing all my activity rings on my Apple Watch, and the second being blogging every day this week. They were relatively small goal, but I’m still proud to have accomplished both of them. But it got me thinking about writing and my relationship with writing.

I started writing when I was in third grade. I wrote and illustrated a series of books about a kingdom of mice, and while the books have been lost to time, I feel confident in saying they were epic. When I hit puberty I started using writing as an outlet for working through all of my normal adolescent frustrations. By the time I was in college my two main ways of coping were writing and killing off facsimiles of people on The Sims. Hey, it’s better than drugs.

The thing is, I’m not subtle. So to use writing as a coping mechanism meant that I had to give zero fucks about what people thought. I once wrote a play about things ending badly with a guy and named the villain after the guy. I had an acting teacher I didn’t get along with so one of my characters cut out the tongue of her acting teacher. A stranger once called me a bitch in a supermarket so I murdered him with a shopping cart…. in a play that I wrote.

I was really good at not giving a shit. It was fun, liberating, and made me feel like a badass. But all of that changed when I became a mom. Kids are usually a package deal. When I became a mom I also became a partner to my (now) husband, a daughter in law to my in laws, so many different things to different people. And quite suddenly I went from giving zero fucks to giving allllll the fucks.

I bit my tongue, I tried not to curse (which I really enjoy doing and believe I’m pretty good at), I tried to be so many things to so many people, that a part of me got lost in the shuffle. I worried about what people would think of me and how they would judge me. And I couldn’t write anymore.

I kept getting into my head and shutting myself down. I was worried. Worried that the people around me, who cared about me, would judge me. I mean, the idea of telling my Christian in laws that I was writing a feminist, vampire erotica sounds awful.

Even worse somehow, is that all those fucks I suddenly gave were for people I love, but who also annoy the shit out of me occasionally. My husband and I are incredibly lucky to have built an amazing support system for our family. But what do I do when that support system pisses me off? I can’t write about mowing them down with shopping carts, they are an amazing support system, they read everything I write.

The whole thing has made writing incredibly hard for the last eight years.

Which is why, tonight, I’m patting myself on the back for reaching my goal of a perfect week. I wanted to end the week with a post that’s a little more personal, a little more raw. Try to get back some of that catharsis writing used to provide. Honestly, it just feels good to write. About anything.

A Trip To Tinkertown

Summer is in full swing here in New Mexico. This is the first year I’m home with both kids during the summer and it’s….. a lot. Fun, yes. Fulfilling, mostly. But a lot. I thought I’d fill the days with productive house cleaning and fun DIY projects for the kids, but mostly there’s been a lot of video games and movies. There was one science project that involved water, clear nail polish and construction paper, but it didn’t really work out. So I think we were all grateful the other week when my husband suggested a quick afternoon at Tinkertown.

Tinkertown Museum is located in Sandia Park, about twenty minutes from Albuquerque, which means it’s 10 degrees cooler, which is very welcome in the 100 degree heat we’ve been having. It started as a traveling exhibit of wood-carved figures and dioramas, with antique toys mixed in here and there. It’s now a rambling museum of oddities. IMG_2172

I love bringing the kids here. It’s small enough that I don’t worry about them getting lost or separated, and there’s something new to discover every time we go. They love exploring here. Pushing buttons to bring the dioramas to life, pumping quarters into the old carnival machines, putting messages in bottles.

The outside of the museum is as fun as the inside. With hummingbirds diving at all the feeders, and a mini western town to wander through. In the gift shop there’s stick candy and fancy soaps. My daughter gets a grab bag for a couple dollars and my son gets a glider in the shape of a butterfly.

It’s always good to get out of the house, go somewhere. Somewhere a little cooler preferably. And off the beaten path. It was a relaxing afternoon. IMG_2202

Gluten Free, Slow Cooker Apple Crisp

My mom can’t cook. She has lots of great qualities, but she can’t cook. Growing up there was lots of burned fajita veggies, pancakes with batter in the middle, and lumpy Mac and cheese. But, there were a few recipes she excelled at. Her apple pie was delicious.

A few years ago she went gluten free for health reasons, so no more apple pie for her. So when I found myself with lots of apples, I thought it’d be nice to make a dessert that was reminiscent of her apple pie that she could actually eat. Bonus points for it being made in my slow cooker.

Ingredients for the Crumble Top

  • 1 cup gluten free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Baking Flour)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter
  • 1 cup walnuts

Ingredients for the Apples

  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 6 cups apples, peeled, cored and chopped (I used 8 small Gala apples)

Instructions

  1. Put all of the ingredients for the crumble topping, except the butter, into a food processor.
  2. Cut your butter into pats and add it to your food processor.
  3. Pulse for 30 seconds to 1 minute until you get a crumb texture. Set aside.
  4. Mix your white sugar, cornstarch, ginger and cinnamon together.
  5. Dump your chopped apples, the sugar mixture, and the lemon juice into your slow cooker and stir until your apples are evenly coated.

    IMG_2464
    Chopped apples. Bite size.
  6. Evenly pour your crumb topping on top of your apples.
  7. Cook on the high setting of your slow cooker for two hours.

And that’s it. Serve with vanilla ice cream and enjoy having your whole house smell like apple crisp. And if you don’t have a gluten allergy, feel free to use regular flour, it’ll still turn out yummy.

 

 

My Favorite Quick Service Restaurants at Disney World

I love Disney World. I love food. So, naturally I have a lot of thoughts on food at Disney World. I decided to share some of those thoughts with you. Below I highlight my favorite quick service (aka counter service) restaurants in each of the main theme parks.

Backlot Express – Hollywood Studios

Backlot Express is, fine. I chose it because right now, before the opening of Toy Story Land and Galaxy’s Edge (Star Wars Land) there aren’t a whole lot of interesting quick service options at Hollywood Studios. It beats out the other options solely because of the Star Wars theming to the food. I’m a sucker for Darth Vader waffles, what can I say?

It serves pretty standard theme park food, chicken nuggets, burgers, fries, with a Star Wars twist. So those chicken nuggets become Dark Side Chicken and Waffles (Vader waffles, yum), the burger has a black bun, etc. The food is good, but basic, and there are decent lighter options as well. My favorite things about this place are the super cute themed cupcakes and the Star Wars glow cubes in my drink.

Columbia Harbour House – Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom has lots of really good quick service restaurants, so what makes this one my favorite? Two words; Upstairs. Seating. I know, what’s the big deal about upstairs seating? In my personal experience, no matter how crazy busy the park is, the upstairs at  Columbia Harbour House is always relatively quiet. This is the restaurant I go to after using all my Fast Passes, riding all the mountains, meeting Mickey and the princesses, and the kids (and adults) have melt down. I get my good food and I head upstairs to find a table by the window.

Harbour House sits in between Liberty Square and Fantasyland, so depending on where you sit you have some fun views of Haunted Mansion or Rapunzel’s Tower. I like the food too! They have great Mac and cheese (my daughter’s go to), a huge meal with fried fish, shrimp, and chicken nuggets (my husband’s go to), and lots of other options that have a tendency to change so that I get the variety that I like in a restaurant.

Tangierine Cafe – Epcot

Okay, this was a hard choice. I loooooove eating at Epcot. Picking just one restaurant from there is almost as hard as picking which of my kids I love most. And honestly, I hardly ever have a full meal at a quick service at Epcot because I’m usually enjoying all the small plates that are offered at one of their many food-centric festivals.

But if I had to pick, Tangierine Cafe would be my favorite. It’s located in the Morocco pavilion in World Showcase and offers up huge, delicious portions of Mediterranean food. Shawarma, couscous, hummus, so much yum! They also offer up great vegetarian options and less adventurous options for the kids. The shawarma chicken and lamb platter is full to the brim with deliciousness and also enough to split between two people who aren’t huge eaters.

Flame Tree Barbecue – Animal Kingdom

Going from the hardest choice to the easiest. Here’s the thing. Animal Kingdom has really good food. The stuff at Harambe Market looks mouthwatering. I’ve heard great things about the quick service food in the new Pandora land. But somehow, even when I have every intention of expanding my horizons, and trying something new, I always end up at Flame Tree Barbecue.

Why? Well it probably has something to do with the smell. As soon as you enter Discovery Island you can smell the smoked meat, and once that happens all intentions of eating somewhere else disappear. The food tastes as good as it smells, and thank goodness that barbecue sauce is self serve so I can drown everything in it. And I can’t not talk about their French fries with pulled pork and cheese. Because it is my everything. I tried this late at night with Animal Kingdom’s signature beer, the Safari Amber, and all the stress of the day just melted away. And it had been a stressful day. We were visiting Pandora the second day it was open and I had Fast Passes for Flight of Passage for 8:15am. But none of that mattered when I bit into those fries.

I love the seating here as well. It’s all outdoors, but covered, and a lot of it has very nice views of the water. It can be very tranquil, however, my favorite place to sit is where I can see Expedition Everest and hear people screaming on the ride’s big drop.

So those are my personal favorites and why I like them. Agree? Disagree? Let me know. And if you go to Disney World soon, bring me some of those fries?

 

Mojito Recipe

Full disclosure; the only reason I grow mint every year is so I can have mojitos all summer long. I love them. They’re light and refreshing and pretty easy to make.

Ingredients

  • 1 shot (1 oz) of light rum
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of lime juice
  • ice
  • club soda
  • 5 or 6 fresh mint leaves

Instructions

  1. Put the mint leaves, sugar, and lime juice into your glass (I use a 12 oz glass).
  2. Muddle(smash the heck out of) the ingredients at the bottom of your glass. The more you smash and bruise your mint the more minty your mojito will taste, so get violent.
  3. Fill your glass about halfway with ice. Pour in your rum.
  4. Fill with club soda. Stir.

And enjoy your refreshing mojito!

I also enjoy making virgin mojitos for my kiddos. Just leave out the rum (duh) and put in more sugar. Another 1/4 teaspoon should do the trick.